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Old 05-23-2012, 07:12 PM   #1
BnKRPG
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Default The "Nuff Said" Marvel Universe RPG



Welcome, one and all, to The Marvel Universe! This RPG is based off of classic Marvel continuity - "616", if you want to get technical - set within 10 years after the arrival of many of the world's superheroes. That means that in the game, it is the modern world, and the characters on teams as The Avengers, The Fantastic Four, X-Men, and The New Avengers are longtime veterans of their craft. While most events have probably happened, players are free to acknowledge whatever they wish and ignore the rest, on the condition that nothing be retconned.

Like the "Heroes Vs. Villains" RPG of yesteryear, the game allows players to assume the roles of any Marvel character they desire to play. You are allowed a minimum of two characters, provided you've allowed yourself time to be proven capable of playing two. Once accepted for your individual roles, you may post in the In-Continuity thread as your character and interact with others.

Have fun, and remember... be creative!

This may have once been the Marvel Universe, but now it's your world.
.

Gamemasters & Staff!

Batman - "The Beyonder" - Gamemaster
Carnage27 - "Uatu The Watcher" - Assistant Gamemaster
.

RULES OF THE GAME
Quote:
  • You may choose to be any superhero, supervillain, or supporting character in the Marvel Universe. Though it is strongly recommended that you choose only one character initially, the maximum is two. You will be allowed to be given the second slot under GM discretion.
  • To be approved as a character, fill out the application in a seperate post within the OOC thread. Submissions in the IC thread will be removed. If there are multiple applications for the same character, the GMs will decide which app to approve.
  • You must post at least once, every two weeks, to be eligible to keep your character. No activity without prior explaination from you means being subjected to removal from the roster and seeing your character be made available once again.
  • Do not have your character act out-of-character without prior explaination, such as an external mind control or imposters at work. It is your responsibility to act like your character, so assume their personality and traits.

    Do the proper research to figure out your character's power levels, and never overpower someone. Spider-Man can't lift a building, Daredevil can't hear an isolated area from New York, and Iron Man isn't able to move planets.
  • Though the assumption is that everything has happened, it is advised to consult GMs whenever directly involving the events of certain storylines into the RPG.

    Be mindful of players that will come after you in the role, who may not want to have certain events plague characters going into the future of the game, such as the death of Captain America or the unmasking of Spider-Man in Civil War.

    Whenever possible, allow yourself the freedom not to rely solely on prior continuity. Tell stories new and true to your character whenever possible.
  • You may interact with any player character in the game, and you're allowed to use NPCs (characters without a current player).

    It is advised, however, not to use an abundance of NPCs that consist of characters in the Marvel Universe.

    If someone is using a character in their arc, you should not interfere with them until they are done. Multiple storylines at once with the same character is generally not allowed.
  • You can form teams, gangs, and other factions. Involve other players, openly invite people to join along - interact! Nobody wants to play with someone who keeps to themselves. Allow yourself to branch out.
  • You may travel anywhere within the universe, including anywhere on Earth and other planets. But do so within your characters means. Explain how The Thing is able to get into space, and never automatically have him appear there. Track your characters, so that others can follow along with your story.

    Do not, under any circumstances, do a time travel arc or multiversal arc unless it is specific of your character, such as someone like Kang the Conqueror or Reed Richards.
  • Killing PC characters or potential PC characters is strictly prohibited unless approved by a GM. Never randomly kill off a major character unless the player in the role is willing to go along with it.
  • All regular Hype rules apply. Do not bypass the censors in the use of profanity, post pornographic or sexually suggestive material, or other such blatantly prohibited content. Failure to accomodate these rules will result in an immediate probation, depending on the severity.
  • Above all, have fun. This is a game, and not to be treated as otherwise. Never instigate arguments with other players and never engage in heated discussions. We're all adults, here, so act like it and calmly talk through issues in a civil manner.
To apply, fill out the application in the OOC thread, located here.



'Nuff said.

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Old 05-23-2012, 08:32 PM   #2
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Default Re: The "Nuff Said" Marvel Universe RPG



In life, very little is predictable. The scrawny teenager that I once was could have never known that a simple spider bite would change his life forever. Nor did I realize that a moment of sophomoric indifference would cost a great man his life. I would have never guessed that my perennial tormentor would one day stand by my side as the best man at my wedding, and I couldn't have fathomed that my best friend's father was a psychopath. Life has a funny way of twisting our expectations against us, reminding us that nothing is truly certain. Ten years ago, I would've told you that once I left Midtown High School, I would never come back.

Yet here I stand.

To be fair, it wasn't my idea. It was Aunt May's. I'll be honest, I was feeling pretty low. My wife, the woman I love, had up and left. Not that I blame her. I gave her every reason to leave. I went from being Midtown's valedictorian, on my way to Empire State University on scholarship, to a scientific nobody. I didn't even finish my doctoral studies. All around me, my friends were finding success - or, at least, happiness - and there I was, repeating the same cycle over and over again. When Aunt May heard that Midtown was looking for teachers, she asked me why I didn't give it a shot. I didn't have a good answer to that, so here I am.

It's just the same as I remember it, but it's also... different, in a way. The building, the neighborhood, it hasn't changed, but the people? I can't help but watch this teenagers running around and feel... old. Now, I know sixteen-year-old Peter Parker wasn't watching too closely, but did girls always dress so skimpily? And there are so many social circles to keep track of now: the jocks, the nerds, the skaters, the goths, and on and on and on. Maybe I'm just remembering it through rose-colored glasses, but high school seemed simpler in my time.

"Mister Parker!" Standing in the doorway to the school, hands on her hips, is a tall, broad-shouldered Latina woman with wavy hair. I think it's safe to assume that this is Ms. Michele Gonzales, Midtown's current Principal and my new boss. Judging from the sour look on her face, I don't want to test her patience, so I break into a half-jog towards the front of the building. "You're late."

I hang my head sheepishly. "I'm really sorry. It's just that my aunt lives a few blocks away, so I stopped to see her before--"

Principal Gonzales spins on her four-inch heels and begins marching down the hallway like a drill sergeant. I can tell I've made a great impression. "Mr. Parker, I run a tight ship," she begins. "I think you'll find that I have little tolerance for tardiness and excuses, so I'd leave both at the door." As she walks, she doesn't even look over her shoulder.

"Of course," I reply, struggling to keep pace with her walking speed. As we progress down the main hallway, I can't help but think: There's the locker I got stuffed in freshman year! or There's where Flash gave me a wedgie so rough that my underwear tore! Come to think of it, I don't have many good memories of this place.

"In three minutes, the homeroom bell will ring," Principal Gonzales explains. "You're in room 145. I want you at your desk and ready for first period the second that bell rings." She turns to me and acknowledges me for the first time. "I trust you still know your way around?"

I nod.

"Good." And with that, she spins once more and marches off. On the bright side, it could have gone worse.

"Don't take it personally." I turn to see a bespectacled brunette leaning against a locker. She smiles politely before walking up to introduce herself. "I'm Carlie Cooper, the school nurse."

"Peter Parker," I respond in kind, shaking her hand. "I'm the new chemistry teacher."

Carlie nods. "Seriously, though, Michele treats all new teachers like that - especially the men," she explains, "but she means well. When she came to Midtown two years ago, the school had some of the lowest standardized test scores and graduation rates in its history. She's started to turn that around, but progress is slow-going."

"Hard to believe it's the same place I once attended," I remark. Aunt May used to mention the school's recent troubles, in passing, but I never gave it much thought. To tell the truth, I was just glad it was in my past.

"You're an alum?" Carlie asks.

I nod. "I was classmates with Coach Thompson." It's still weird to call him that. The jock becomes the coach. That said, it's fitting, really, and I know he enjoys it. "It always felt like a lifetime ago, but now that I'm here again it's all coming back to me."

"I know what you mean," Carlie smiles. "Well, you better get going. I don't want to get you in trouble again."

"Yeah, I think once is enough for my first day," I laugh.

"Maybe I'll see you at lunch?"

"Yeah, maybe." And with that, we part ways. It's only once I'm alone with my thoughts again that I begin to realize the daunting task ahead of me. I don't know the first thing about teaching, and the thought of dealing with teenagers all day?

It'll be fine, Pete. You've fought supervillains. How difficult will it really be to handle a bunch of teens?

Ten minutes later, I find myself faced with a room full of students. The air is buzzing as they find seats by their friends, talking about what they did last week or who wore what to school or countless other topics. My confidence - more bravado than anything else, really - begins to fade as I realize that I don't know where to begin. I mean, I have my lesson plans. I know my general goal: teach some chemistry to these kids. But what do I do? Will I be like Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society or Ben Stein in Ferris Bueller's Day Off?

Just then, the bell rings, and the class begins to quiet down. No more time to consider my options now. I just have to go with the first thing that comes into my head. "Hello."

'Hello.' How groundbreaking! Quick, stand up and say something else!

I stand and begin to feel the pressure of twenty-odd sets of eyes boring into my soul. Biting my bottom lip, I turn my back to the class and begin writing on the chalkboard. At least this way I don't have to face them. "My name is Mr. Parker, and this is freshman year chemistry." I start to become oddly aware of my sweaty palms. Once I've finished writing "Mr. Parker" and "Chemistry," I underline both and turn to face the class once more.

I pause to reflect on the group before me. I thought kids were so different these days, but as I look at my students I realize that they're really not. Sure, the outfits and the styles have changed, but the kids themselves? The jocks, easily identifiable by their embroidered track jackets, sit in the back row. They're flanked by cheerleaders, female athletes, "the popular girls." The nerds, as always, find themselves at the front of the room. It's not just eagerness to participate which motivates this, but they're also trying to put space between themselves and their tormentors. One particular kid - scrawny, messy black hair, square glasses - reminds me a lot of myself at his age. He also doesn't make much eye contact, so I decide I like him.

As I realize how long the silence has gone on, I clear my throat. "I'm sure a lot of you are wondering why you're here--"

"Because they made us," suggests one of the jocks loudly. This comment promotes s******s from all around the room. I make a mental note to keep on eye on him.

Still, I smile. "Well, yes. That's true. But why chemistry?"

"Because astronomy was full," answers the first jock's friend. The two high five each other proudly.

"That may also be true," I concede, "but what I'm getting at is this: why is chemistry important? Take a look at your other classes. Math? Well, that's obvious. You'll be doing math the rest of your lives. English? You want to know how to speak, how to write. Can't have you going to job interviews sounding uneducated. Literature? ...okay, I'll give you literature. That makes no sense."

A half-hearted laugh. I'll take it for the first day. "But when are you ever going to use chemistry? Well, believe it or not, you use chemistry every day." I point to a girl in the second row. "When you're going on a date and you want to smell nice, so you spray yourself with perfume? Chemistry." I point to a boy in the third row. "When you've had a big meal and you just want to take a nap to digest it all? Chemistry." I point to the jock who made the first comment. "When you're working out, burning fat and building muscle? Chemistry. Chemistry is all around us. It's literally in the air."

I pause to give my brain a second to catch up, and I realize that the classroom is almost totally silent. They may not be interested, but they're at least giving me the respect of their attention. I try to hide my smile.

"Unfortunately, I only have you guys for a few months, so I can't show you everything that chemistry is. But I do hope that by the time you leave this class, you'll be able to better appreciate the wondrous beauty of the world around you." I smirk. "And, if you behave, we might even get to blow some stuff up for fun." Satisfied with how well I've started, I turn back to the blackboard.

Maybe I can do this.

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Old 05-23-2012, 09:42 PM   #3
Byrd Man
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Default Re: The "Nuff Said" Marvel Universe RPG





S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier
Headquarters of the U.N.
Peacekeeping Taskforce
Currently Over Manhattan


"Cap," Colonel Nick Fury said from the bridge of the Helicarrier. Steve Rogers, Captain America, was walking towards Fury, his cowl off and hanging off his neck. His shield was strapped to his back. "Thanks for coming on such short notice."

"Nick," Steve said with a nod. "What's going on?"

"Walk with me," Fury said, turning to the young woman at his side. "Daisy, you have the bridge."

"Yes, sir," she said.

Fury and Cap walked through the halls of the Helicarrier, passing by scurrying agents and troops. "We're on high alert tonight," Fury said as they walked into a briefing room. "Twenty minutes ago, our agents and NYPD officers arrested a man who was planning to detonate a dirty bomb in Time Square. He had all the parts, and he was assembling the bomb in his apartment."

Rogers shook his head and sat down at the table in the briefing room. "I guess it's a win for the good guys."

"With the way things are, you have to take your wins where you can get them. Now, on to the briefing."

A projector kicked on in the room, illuminating the far wall with a photo of a dark-haired, Middle Eastern man. "This is Doctor Aban Loharani, a Pakistani biophysicist. CIA, the Saudi intelligence service, and Mossad are convinced that Loharani has been engineering a bio-weapons program in Pakistan."

"What kind of bio-weapons? Chemicals? Anthrax? Smallpox?"

"People," Fury said, clicking over to the next shutter. Photocopies of files and notebooks written in German. "A SHIELD source within the program got us these photos a few days ago. What you're looking at here are notes on engineering a super-soldier. The author of these papers? Doctor Abraham Erskine."

"Wait...," Cap asked, sitting upright and furrowing his brow."The date on them is 1925, just after Erskine graduated from the University of Freiburg. These notes are Erskine's super-soldier formula and thesis in its most basic form. How the Pakistani government got a hold of them is anyone's guess."

"So, this Doctor Loharani has been trying to replicate Erskine's work. So far, nobody has been able to create a super-soldier... another one, I mean."

"I know, but Loharani went a different path with it."

Fury switched to another still. This one, a black and white surveillance photo of a woman in a Burka with a green aura around her.

"He tweaked the solution, added his own touches. Instead of augmenting a regular person to the point of physical perfection, the formula weaponizes them. Loharani injects them with the formula and a small dose of a virus, say Anthrax, and then their bodies become actually capable of producing the virus. They can create aerosol dispersions for up to a square mile. It turns them into living plague."

"Where do I fit in?"

"The woman in the photo? Twelve hours ago, she snapped. Using her new abilities, they infected Loharani, his entire medical staff, and all the other test subjects in the Lahore facility, with weaponized smallpox. An ultra agressive version that killed them in six hours. The woman escaped. She's in the wind, and now I need you to go after her."

"Sending me, Captain America, into Pakistan might be risky. With how things have been recently."

"You wear the stars and stripes, that's for sure, but you're going in with UN backing. They don't like it, I can think of a few places I could tell them to shove their complaints."

"Anything else, Nick?"

"Oh, yeah. You're not the only one looking for this woman. Pakistan wants her back, the US, China, Israel, Russia, Syria, and Saudi Arabia are putting out feelers on where to find her. Al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, AIM, HYDRA, and Black Spectre are mobilizing to get people inside the country as we speak. It's going to be you against the whole world, Cap."

"Why am I still here?" Cap asked, standing up.

Fury chuckled and nodded.

"We got a jet ready to go out on the tarmac. Good hunting."

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Old 05-23-2012, 10:40 PM   #4
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Harlem
7:35 AM

"Jess!" Luke shouted He was in the bedroom, searching through his closet. "Baby! Where's my shirt?!"

"What shirt?" Jessica Jones-Cage said from the kitchen.

"My work shirt! The yellow one!"

"Check the dryer!"

Luke turned away from the closet and walked into the kitchen. Jessica was sitting at the kitchen table with a spoon full of baby food, trying to get their daughter Dannielle to eat it. "C'mon, Danni. It's sweet peas, your favorite."

"Sweet peas ain't nobody's favorite," Luke said as he grabbed a coffee cup from the cabinet and picked up the simmering coffee pot by the sink.
"Especially sweet peas that look like that."

"You were one of those picky kids, weren't you?"

"I prefer the term selective appetite. Picky is so derogatory."


"Well, here," Jessica said, putting the spoon on the table and throwing her hands up. "Maybe you can do something with her. I need to start getting ready."

"When's your interview?" Luke asked as he sat down at the table, putting the coffee cup down and picking up the baby food and spoon.

"This morning at nine," Jessica said, disappearing into the bedroom.

"Do you want me to take Danni to work with me this morning, you can swing by and pick her up after you get done?"

"I already called Doreen, she'll watch Danni until noon."

"Squirrel Girl again?" Luke asked, scooping out a blob of baby food from th jar.

"What? She's good with Danni, and Danni likes her."

"I know, I know, but I walked in one time and she was rocking Danni to sleep with her tail, it was weird."

"It worked. She was out like a light."

"I guess."

Taking the spoon, Luke began to move it towards Danni's mouth. The baby watched her father apprehensively. Luke looked his daughter in the eyes, and then stuck his tongue out at her. She giggled, opening her mouth just enough for Luke to get the spoon into her mouth.

"Aha!" He shouted in triumph. He scooped up another bit of baby food and got into his daughter's mouth. "That's what I'm talking about," he said with a smile. "That's my girl."

"Did you get her to eat?"

"You know it."

"I hate you so much right now."

"Haters gonna hate. That's just a fact."

"And you will be late for work," Jessica said, appearing out the bedroom. Luke spooned one last helping of food into Danni's mouth before he stood up.

"Alright, I'm leaving. You said my shirt was in the dryer?"

"Yep. Any idea what time you'll be home."

"If nothing comes up, I'll be home by four. A case comes in... well, you know. If we get a job, I'll let you know."

"Good."

Luke reached down and kissed Danni on the top of the had before turning to his wife. "Good luck today."

"Thanks. Work hard and stay safe, okay?"

"Always."

Luke grabbed his coffee cup off the table and gave Jessica a quick peck on the lips before he turned to leave.


*****


Heroes for Hire
Midtown, Manhattan
8:15 AM

Luke walked up the flight of steps leading to the offices of Heroes for Hire. On the second floor of the small building was a door with letters stenciled on them.

POWER MAN & IRON FIST
HEROES FOR HIRE
0672 EAST 42nd STREET


Luke opened the door and went inside. Gladys Rosenbaum, the elderly lady who was the receptionist, was at her desk in the small area that was the office's lobby.

"Morning, Mister Cage," she said.


"Luke, Gladys. Call me Luke, you sexy thing."

"Sexy thing, he calls me?" She said to herself. "I'm thinking, if I were twenty years younger, I would act on my impulses."

"Oh, Gladys. If only I weren't married, and you weren't a grandmother of eight."

"You can always get a divorce, and why should my grandchildren matter? What I have in mind, they won't want to be around for."

"Ha. How are you today, my dear?"

"I could complain," she said with a shrug. "But I won't."

"Good," Luke said with a soft smile. "I ain't got all day."

"Considering you have a client in your office, I would say so."

"A client?" Luke asked with an arched eyebrow. "Already? How long has he been waiting?"

"Came in about fifteen minutes ago. Skinny man in a fancy suit. Looks like he'd be a good tipper."

"Right," Luke said with a nod. "I'm going in to meet him. Hold my calls."

"If you actually get any, I'll do that."

Luke walked into his office. A skinny, gray haired man in a dark three-piece suit was sitting in the chair opposite Luke's desk. "Mister Cage," the man said as he rose. "Good to meet you."

The two shook hands and Luke eyed the man. "I'd say the same, but I don't know your name..."

"I'm John Phillips," he said. "I'm a special adviser to the governor. She's in dire need of your special services."

"Umm... before we start, I'm gonna need to send a text to my partner."

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Last edited by Byrd Man; 05-24-2012 at 09:03 AM.
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Old 05-24-2012, 04:14 AM   #5
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Default Re: The "Nuff Said" Marvel Universe RPG



The Book of the Iron Fist. It was a gift from a friend. His name was Orson Randall. He was an Iron Fist, too. I didn't even know there were other Iron Fists. I guess I just didn't think to ask. I almost feel a little silly in retrospect. Danny Rand, unknowing inheritor to the legacy of the Iron Fist. I was just a kid, in truth. I didn't know any better. I thought being Iron Fist was all about channeling your chi, meditating, practicing the martial arts. It's certainly all of that, but there's so much more.

Sixty-six Iron Fists spanning most of recorded history. From Quan Yaozu, the very first, to my friend Orson. He thought stealing this book, written on the scales of Shou-Lao the Undying, would end the cycle of the Iron Fists. Yet here I stand, so I guess he thought wrong. He also thought giving me this book would help me win the Tournament of the Heavenly Cities, but that didn't work out too well, either. But it's not all so bad. I did unite the Immortal Weapons of the Seven Heavenly Cities, who helped me discover the Eighth Capital City of Heaven. I'm sure those deeds of mine will be well recorded in this book for whoever inherits the Iron Fist legacy after me. God help whoever that will be.

I wonder whether the book will talk about my time with Heroes for Hire. Luke and Colleen and Misty may not be Immortal Weapons, but they're worth ten Iron Fists as far as I'm concerned. Just don't tell them I said that because it'll go straight to their heads. Anyway, I've decided that I've had my fill of K'un-Lun and Heavenly Cities and Immortal Weapons. Earth needs champions, too. So while I study the Book of the Iron Fist in my free time, I've began channeling my energies wholeheartedly into the newest incarnation of the Heroes for Hire. And no, it's not just because I lost my company and a good chunk of my fortune. Far as I'm concerned, that's one of the best things that ever happened to me. From the ashes of Rand-Meachum came the Rand Foundation, and it's done arguably more good for the world for Iron Fist ever has.

That's not to say that all has gone well in the life of Danny Rand. Misty and I recently discovered that our child, my child, was nothing more than a false positive. I can't be certain, but I think there's a chance that it was caused by the excess chi I now possess in the wake of everything that's happened. Nonetheless, it threw a lot of our plans into a stark light, and we both decided to take a step back and reconsider. I love Misty, I do, but I just don't know that either of us is in a place to consider making that big of a commitment. We've drifted apart a bit since the split, each needing to figure out some things about ourselves before we become a "we."

Closing the Book of the Iron Fist, I return it to its rightful place above the bookshelf. My new apartment, located above the Thunder Dojo in Harlem, is still sparsely furnished. I tend to avoid clutter because I find it very damaging to my concentration, but the other truth is that with my few remaining funds being poured into the Rand Foundation, the Dojo, and Heroes for Hire, I haven't made spending on myself a real priority. I basically live out of the Dojo and the Heroes for Hire building, anyway.

When I pick up my cell phone, I see I missed a text from Luke. He's down at the office, entertaining a potential client. He wants me there, too, which means this must be a big deal. I fire back a quick, 'On my way', before grabbing shoes and a shirt. The Heroes for Hire office is all the way down at Midtown, and traffic's a real pain this time of day. If I catch a cab, it'll take me upwards of twenty minutes to get to the office.

So I guess I'm taking the scenic route.

* * *




Most people would be utterly exhausted if they ran fifty blocks to work in the morning. Me? I consider it a nice little jog to kick-start my day. When I see the office building materialize before me, I smile. You gotta love your job, you know? With one last acrobatic leap, I land on the fire escape. From there, it's a hop, skip, and a jump, and I'm inside the building.

Gladys Rosenbaum, our secretary, smiles pleasantly at me as I walk in, not even breaking a sweat. "Mister Cage has been stalling as long as he can," she explains.

"Thank you, Gladys." As I walk past, I ask, "How've you been?"

"My hair didn't go gray for nothing," she replies jokingly.

My entrance to the office interrupts everything and draws the attention of both men inside. The first I recognize, of course. Luke Cage, Power Man, my best friend and business partner. The second is a stranger, but it's not hard to tell that he's a potential client. I smile at both as the client rises up to shake my hand.

"I got here as fast as I could," I explain as a way of apology.

As the man shakes my hand, he remarks, "You must be Iron Fist."

"You could tell from the handshake?" I joke.

He laughs. "I'm John Phillips. I come on behalf of the governor."

The governor? I exchange a quick look with Luke. No wonder he wanted me to hear this. As I make my way around the desk to stand next to Luke, I say, "What did I miss, gentlemen?"

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Old 05-24-2012, 07:48 AM   #6
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A streak of blue light trails behind a golden figure as it flies through the skies above the city. As it's speed increases, a thunderous boom echoes down below. It is Iron Man; Avenger, hero, genius.

"Jarvis, decrease speed to half and reroute power to the thrusters. We're going in for a landing at Stark Tower."
"Understood, sir," the voice of Tony's AI speaks inside the helmet. "But, if I may ask, why did you increase your acceleration at such a steady mark before deciding to slow down your total velocity?"

Tony smiles wide as his eyes watch the electronic monitors within the suit. "For fun. Apparently, I forgot to install a joy component to your programming."
"Evidently, sir."
"Luckily the arc reactor doesn't suffer the same energy damages any non-Stark Industries technology would. I guess I can pat myself on the back for that."

"Does your ego know any bounds?"
"I have yet to find them." Tony circles the building as he preps the landing pad outside his penthouse. His speed slows as the lights on his feet and palms glow brightly. Carefully, he raises his hands and changes his orientation from horizontal to vertical. The suit lowers slowly into the center of the landing pad gently; as he cuts the energy to the thrusters, the suit drops to the floor heavily. "Alright, Jarvis, remove the couplers and lock the suit into storage."

The suit instantly splits along fault lines across his arms and legs. The pieces fold back into an exoskeleton, revealing the yellow spandex beneath that covers Tony's body. The suit intrinsically folds up into a tight package as the floor beneath it opens. As the ground consumes the suit, Tony walks forward across the turf to the interior of the structure. He walks past his bar, heading for the closet at the far end of the room.

"Evening, Stark," a voice speaks suddenly.

The unexpected visitor nearly startles him but he refuses to show it. Seemingly unaffected, Tony pauses for a moment and turns casually toward the source of the voice. Sitting on the in ground couch in his living room is a man dressed in a SHIELD uniform. Tony instinctively eyes the gun strapped to the man's leg before analyzing the crest brazen across the man's chest. He recognizes the seal as his memory verifies it's authenticity. He can never be too careful; not these days.

"Hi," he says, forcing a smile. "I don't believe I had any appointments tonight," he begins as he continues toward the closet. "But, then again, you SHIELD types do enjoy letting yourselves in." Tony grabs an armani suit off the hanger and quickly dresses himself, pulling the expensive fabrics over the Extremis skin. As he steps forth from the closet, he adjusts his tie and makes his way toward the bar. "Which is convenient, because you can also let yourself out."

"Not yet, Stark," the man says as he rises from the seat. He slowly approaches the bar as Tony begins to pour himself a drink. "My name is Lieutenant Colonel Flumm. I'm here to talk to you about something."
"Well, that's what we're doing now. Talking. About something. Great chat," he says as he takes a sip of the viscous liquid. "Now, I've got work to get to."
"Don't be so hasty," he says gruffly as he takes a seat across from Tony.
"You guys remember I don't work for you anymore, right? That whole 'difference of opinion' thing about Superheroes and rights."
"This has nothing to do with that. SHIELD's moved on, as have most of you. There's been some disturbances in the Caribbean sea, lately."
"Aw, pirates?"

The agent ignores him; instead, he pulls out a small round device that he places on the varnished wood counter. The device lights up and begins to emit a holographic image. "Electrical and magnetic disturbances have been causing blackouts across a 100 mile span. It's been affecting local cities, ships, planes ... everything. Aside from the problem it's causing the locals, it's affecting our operations in the area."

"And you don't know what's causing it?"
"We've done our own investigating for about a month now, but we're still coming up with nothing. The source of the disturbances is too random and untraceable to pinpoint a specific location."
"So, let me guess. You know I, with all my genius and advanced little "doodads" can find a way to trace the energy disruptions, follow it back to a source, and solve the mystery. That sum things up efficiently?"

"Well, you should know the routine by now," he says slyly. Stark grits his teeth under a fake smile.
"Ha ha, yes, I guess I should. You know, I've never met a SHIELD agent with an ego before. Tons of attitudes and personality disorders, but, never one who was as cocky as you."
"Funny. I never met a superhero who was an alcoholic." Flumm eyes the glass in Tony's hand and nods. Tony self-consciously puts down the glass, placing it at a distance from his reach.

"Alright, I guess I'll look into this for you. But I don't want you checking up on me. I'll be sure to get in touch with you when I find anything."
"Excellent. SHIELD appreciates your cooperation and help."
"Oh, I'm not doing it for you guys. I'm just slightly eager to try out some new equipment I've been building that relates to this type of situation."

A curious look comes over Flumm's face. "You've been developing technology to track energy trails?"
"We're still working on getting the patents so I can't really confirm or deny that bit of information. You know, red tape, lawyers, etcetra."

"Right, of course." Flumm turns around and walks toward the elevator at the other end of the room. "Thanks again, Stark," he says as he steps inside the shaft. "I'll be expecting your call."

The agent disappears behind the doors as they shut in front of him. Tony watches until he's sure he's alone once more. He lets his body un-tense and he lets out a small breath of air. "I'm sure you will."

Tony steps out from behind the bar and walks toward the stairwell near the edge of the extravagent room. "Jarvis, I'll be in the workshop for a few hours. Do me a favor: lock the doors and hold all my calls."

As Tony grabs the railing and begins to descend into the room below, the doors to the balcony close swiftly and lock with a compressed hiss. "Also, Jarvis, remind me to install heat and motion sensors in the suite. The uninvited guest bit has definitively lost it's amusement."

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Old 05-24-2012, 09:26 AM   #7
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"I got here as fast as I could," I explain as a way of apology.

As the man shakes my hand, he remarks, "You must be Iron Fist."

"You could tell from the handshake?" I joke.

He laughs. "I'm John Phillips. I come on behalf of the governor."

The governor? I exchange a quick look with Luke. No wonder he wanted me to hear this. As I make my way around the desk to stand next to Luke, I say, "What did I miss, gentlemen?"
"Nothing yet. I told Mister Phillips to not start until you got here. Let's have a seat."

Luke sat down behind his desk while Danny and Phillips sat in the seats across from the desk. "Alright, what's going on?"

"Before I get into that," Phillips said, pulling a pen and checkbook from his jacket. "I want to pay you a retainer in advance, to let you gentlemen know I am serious about employing your services."

Phillips hastily filled out the check and passed it to Luke.

"Wait," Luke said, taking the check. "Our usual retainer fee is...," Luke stopped talking when he saw the amount on the check. "...that's a good chunk of change. Please tell me you don't want us infiltrating HYDRA or something?"

"No," Phillips laughed. "Nothing that... heroic. Last night, there was a break-in at the governor's Manhattan home. Among the things stolen was a USB flash drive with some sensitive information was taken from it. We want you to retrieve it. As you can tell by that check, we're very serious about getting it back."

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Old 05-24-2012, 12:17 PM   #8
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"Nothing yet. I told Mister Phillips to not start until you got here. Let's have a seat."

Luke sat down behind his desk while Danny and Phillips sat in the seats across from the desk. "Alright, what's going on?"

"Before I get into that," Phillips said, pulling a pen and checkbook from his jacket. "I want to pay you a retainer in advance, to let you gentlemen know I am serious about employing your services."

Phillips hastily filled out the check and passed it to Luke.

"Wait," Luke said, taking the check. "Our usual retainer fee is...," Luke stopped talking when he saw the amount on the check. "...that's a good chunk of change. Please tell me you don't want us infiltrating HYDRA or something?"

"No," Phillips laughed. "Nothing that... heroic. Last night, there was a break-in at the governor's Manhattan home. Among the things stolen was a USB flash drive with some sensitive information was taken from it. We want you to retrieve it. As you can tell by that check, we're very serious about getting it back."
Luke flashes me a glance at the check, and I'm immediately glad my mask hides my facial expression. Here at Heroes for Hire, we're pretty used to working for chump change. Our clients are often victims and don't have much to spare. So when someone waltzes in and starts flashing money around, it catches our attention.

"That's very generous of you," I remark.

Questions immediately begin to fill my head. First of all, when someone starts talking about money before they even discuss the job, it almost always means they're not telling you something. I believe Mr. Phillips is on the level about the break-in, but there's gotta to be more. Second of all, this is the governor of the state of New York. If a crime was committed against her, she could summon all the power of the state police to track down the offender. If she sent someone to us, that means she's looking to keep this investigation quiet.

"Mr. Phillips, without divulging too much, is there anything you can tell us about the USB drive that might help us narrow down who might've taken it?" I ask.

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Old 05-24-2012, 05:34 PM   #9
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Jean Grey School for Higher Learning
Westchester, NY


There are times when I wonder why I did it. Why I left Summers and Utopia behind a few months ago and took the burden of caring for these kids squarely on my shoulders. Why I started a school knowing we'd be the targets of madmen and murders. Why I took even more of a load knowing I'd have to go fight another damned battle with the Avengers or X-Force.

But then I look at these kids and it all makes sense. The thought almost makes me chuckle. Me, the Wolverine, gettin' all teary eyed over a bunch of brats. But they're my brats. And I'll be damned if Summers was going to turn them into soldiers. I don't care how desperate Mutant kind is right now. I was forced to be a soldier. I won't let that happen to them.

This place is their place. A place where they can be safe with their own kind and enjoy their lives, their childhoods, as they were meant to be.

Of course, if one of the older ones comes to me and asks to be part of my team, my X-Men, I ain't gonna say no. But that's their choice. Not a mandate from the people that's supposed to be taking care of them.

The bell rings in the hallway, and I prepare for my next class. We've only been in session for a week, and things have gone smoothly enough. Hellion accidentally threw a desk through four walls, but it didn't hit anyone, so there's that.

The younger group is coming in next, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't lookin' forward to it. The kids are a good bunch, and are eager to learn how to defend themselves. And I enjoy teaching the basics, and watching them evolve into their own distinct styles of fighting.

There's a science to fighting. It may not be as pretty as biology, or as important to us as chemistry is now, but it's still science. Knowing it will put you above those that don't, just like fire sparked the evolution of man and helped them survive and conquer. A good fighter is better than shear numbers, and my kids are gonna be able to fend off any idiot group of mutant haters that might come after them.

In walks my class and I smile at them as they enter. First is the young man I see becoming the leader of this group, code named Match. Then a small alien, and something I never thought I'd see. Broo, the first mutant Brood, who is as smart as they come. He's followed by Armor and Trance, the two girls and best friends. And finally, behind them is Genesis. The young, reincarnated Apocalypse.

The boy's shown no inclination towards his past life, and I've tried my best to treat him as I treat the others, but it is hard sometimes.

"Mornin', everyone," I nod to them, and motion for the group to sit in a circle on the dojo floor. I begin my lecture, and pace around the room, but almost immediately I'm cut off by Kitty Pryde bursting through the door.

"Logan, I told him to wait, but-"

"Told who to wait?" I respond to her flustered state, but my question is answer by the sound of a teleporter and...

"Mr. Logan! Mr. Logan! Can I go to the bathroom? Why do you smell like Canada and sadness? Does it hurt to only have half a brain!?"



Terrific...just what I need.

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Old 05-24-2012, 07:04 PM   #10
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Death is something we have become used to.

Years ago, we first experienced death, when my other was infected by the walking plague Styx. I felt its agony as it withered and died.

More recently, I succumbed to the cancer that my other had held at bay for years. It was slow and painful, and my other, always the fickle one, sought out its first host, to bond again with......with him.

Both events were unbearable. But neither was the end.

As we said, death is something we're used to by now. Tonight, we're helping a few other people get familiar with it.

"We told you what would happen," we say, crawling along the ceiling of the condemned tenement house that's become the headquarters of a small band of drug-runners. "You didn't believe us. That was very stupid."

Cowering on the floor in front of us is a miserable little man in a cheap suit, the crotch of his pants growing darker from the spreading wet spot. This pathetic waste of air has been a tumor on the run-down neighborhood in the Bronx where we've taken up residence, polluting the streets and schoolyards with drugs, turning innocent children into addicts or pushers, his presence a rotting, corrupting cancer on the community.

"Wh....what the hell are you waiting for?!" he shouts to his lackeys, thugs with pistols. "Kill him!"

The room resounds ear-splitting bursts of gunfire, bullets ripping through the air and into us. We barely notice, taking enough time to pull one in with ropes of webbing and claw open his face. The second turns to run, but we chase him down, springing down from the ceiling and putting our fist through his chest.

"Now then," we say, turning our attention back to the terrified drug dealer, "Where were we?"

As he scrambles for the door, we reach out with tendrils that bind his arms and legs, and pull him back towards us.

"Oh yes," we say. "You do remember what we told you would happen if you continued to prey on the innocent here, don't you?"

"I.....yeah, oh Jesus, I--"

"What did we say?" we ask, baring our fangs in a smile.

"You.......you said that you'd....."

"We would eat your brain."

".....oh, God, please......"

"Did you think we were exaggerating?" we say, opening our mouth wide.

He learns the hard way that we were not.


Some time later, we sneak out the back into an alleyway, listening for the sound on oncoming police cars. Police officers we can handle, but we would prefer not to gain more troublesome attention. Not yet, anyway.

As we slink into the shadows, we see a figure standing out in the opening to the street. A woman, with short-cropped blonde hair, and a face that.....

".....no......"

It can't be.

This is some kind of trick, or dream. Maybe I'm sick again and seeing things. But my other sees her, too.

We run up the alley, my other taking the form of plain clothes as we rush towards the sidewalk.

When I do, there's no one there. She's gone.

"Ann?" I call out, my other receding back to show my face. There's no answer, but we saw her. It's impossible, but she was there.

Ann Weying. Our.......my ex-wife. The one person who genuinely cared for me and wanted to see me get better. The one soul, apart from my other, who actually understood.

The woman who took her own life when she learned that we had become Venom once again.

It's then I hear the noise of police sirens, the flashing red and blue lights of squad cars. My other shifts colors to blend in with the area around us, and together we sneak away invisibly into the dark.

Death is something we've gotten used to these days. It's life that we're never able to deal with.


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Old 05-24-2012, 09:29 PM   #11
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"Mr. Phillips, without divulging too much, is there anything you can tell us about the USB drive that might help us narrow down who might've taken it?" I ask.
"Are you gentlemen familiar with Sam Lamport?"

Both Luke and Danny shook their heads.

"Sam Lamport is the president of the New York City teamsters union. He's been butting heads with the governor. She's tough on unions, trying to cut their benefits, and Lamport doesn't like it. A few nights ago, they were both at this charity event down and then he and the governor got into it. Suddenly, there's this break in at her house."

"Right, but you haven't told us what's on it."

"Far as you're concerned you don't need to know what's on it. That's what the bonus is for. Just get it back without any questions asked."

"Yeah, the money's cool, but I don't feel comfortable taking a job without knowing what I'm getting into."

"Alright," Phillips said with a sigh. "In case you two haven't been following the news, the governor is a major up and comer. This time next year, she'll be in Washington. Secretary of State is the worse case scenario, the White House is the best case scenario. The things on that USB drive could ruin her career, which is why discretion is the key here. Get it back, stop her from being blackmailed, and you get paid. Even better, you'll have a powerful politician who will owe you a favor. Sounds like a win-win to me..."

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Old 05-25-2012, 02:08 AM   #12
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"Are you gentlemen familiar with Sam Lamport?"

Both Luke and Danny shook their heads.

"Sam Lamport is the president of the New York City teamsters union. He's been butting heads with the governor. She's tough on unions, trying to cut their benefits, and Lamport doesn't like it. A few nights ago, they were both at this charity event down and then he and the governor got into it. Suddenly, there's this break in at her house."

"Right, but you haven't told us what's on it."

"Far as you're concerned you don't need to know what's on it. That's what the bonus is for. Just get it back without any questions asked."

"Yeah, the money's cool, but I don't feel comfortable taking a job without knowing what I'm getting into."

"Alright," Phillips said with a sigh. "In case you two haven't been following the news, the governor is a major up and comer. This time next year, she'll be in Washington. Secretary of State is the worse case scenario, the White House is the best case scenario. The things on that USB drive could ruin her career, which is why discretion is the key here. Get it back, stop her from being blackmailed, and you get paid. Even better, you'll have a powerful politician who will owe you a favor. Sounds like a win-win to me..."
Why is it that all politicians seem to have dirty secrets? I guess I'm in no position to judge, though. After all, who really doesn't have a skeleton or two in their closet? I like to think that I've always walked the path of the righteous, but even I have memories I'd like to forget.

Still, something continues to rub me the wrong way about this job. I can tell Luke feels it, too. Nevertheless, getting the willies is no good reason to turn down a paying job, especially a high paying job. Least of all when it's sponsored by an elected official. And Mr. Phillips may be right: there may come a day when Heroes for Hire needs someone with political clout in our corner...

"I'm not convinced this Sam Lamport is your guy, but it's certainly pertinent information." Politicians and teamsters often go together like matches and gasoline, but they usually prefer to settle their differences verbally and publicly. Breaking-and-entering and theft seems irregular.

"Well, I don't want to speak for my partner here," I begin, "but I think we might be able to track down your missing USB drive, Mr. Phillips."

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Old 05-25-2012, 11:50 PM   #13
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Previously

Spoiler!!! Click to Read!:
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S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier
Headquarters of the U.N.
Peacekeeping Taskforce
Currently Over Manhattan


"Cap," Colonel Nick Fury said from the bridge of the Helicarrier. Steve Rogers, Captain America, was walking towards Fury, his cowl off and hanging off his neck. His shield was strapped to his back. "Thanks for coming on such short notice."

"Nick," Steve said with a nod. "What's going on?"

"Walk with me," Fury said, turning to the young woman at his side. "Daisy, you have the bridge."

"Yes, sir," she said.

Fury and Cap walked through the halls of the Helicarrier, passing by scurrying agents and troops. "We're on high alert tonight," Fury said as they walked into a briefing room. "Twenty minutes ago, our agents and NYPD officers arrested a man who was planning to detonate a dirty bomb in Time Square. He had all the parts, and he was assembling the bomb in his apartment."

Rogers shook his head and sat down at the table in the briefing room. "I guess it's a win for the good guys."

"With the way things are, you have to take your wins where you can get them. Now, on to the briefing."

A projector kicked on in the room, illuminating the far wall with a photo of a dark-haired, Middle Eastern man. "This is Doctor Aban Loharani, a Pakistani biophysicist. CIA, the Saudi intelligence service, and Mossad are convinced that Loharani has been engineering a bio-weapons program in Pakistan."

"What kind of bio-weapons? Chemicals? Anthrax? Smallpox?"

"People," Fury said, clicking over to the next shutter. Photocopies of files and notebooks written in German. "A SHIELD source within the program got us these photos a few days ago. What you're looking at here are notes on engineering a super-soldier. The author of these papers? Doctor Abraham Erskine."

"Wait...," Cap asked, sitting upright and furrowing his brow."The date on them is 1925, just after Erskine graduated from the University of Freiburg. These notes are Erskine's super-soldier formula and thesis in its most basic form. How the Pakistani government got a hold of them is anyone's guess."

"So, this Doctor Loharani has been trying to replicate Erskine's work. So far, nobody has been able to create a super-soldier... another one, I mean."

"I know, but Loharani went a different path with it."

Fury switched to another still. This one, a black and white surveillance photo of a woman in a Burka with a green aura around her.

"He tweaked the solution, added his own touches. Instead of augmenting a regular person to the point of physical perfection, the formula weaponizes them. Loharani injects them with the formula and a small dose of a virus, say Anthrax, and then their bodies become actually capable of producing the virus. They can create aerosol dispersions for up to a square mile. It turns them into living plague."

"Where do I fit in?"

"The woman in the photo? Twelve hours ago, she snapped. Using her new abilities, they infected Loharani, his entire medical staff, and all the other test subjects in the Lahore facility, with weaponized smallpox. An ultra aggressive version that killed them in six hours. The woman escaped. She's in the wind, and now I need you to go after her."

"Sending me, Captain America, into Pakistan might be risky. With how things have been recently."

"You wear the stars and stripes, that's for sure, but you're going in with UN backing. They don't like it, I can think of a few places I could tell them to shove their complaints."

"Anything else, Nick?"

"Oh, yeah. You're not the only one looking for this woman. Pakistan wants her back, the US, China, Israel, Russia, Syria, and Saudi Arabia are putting out feelers on where to find her. Al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, AIM, HYDRA, and Black Spectre are mobilizing to get people inside the country as we speak. It's going to be you against the whole world, Cap."

"Why am I still here?" Cap asked, standing up.

Fury chuckled and nodded.

"We got a jet ready to go out on the tarmac. Good hunting."



Over Pakistani Airspace
0334 Local Time
"Ready, sir?" The pilot of the stealth jet asked from the front. Rogers was behind him, decked out in his full Captain America gear, his shield strapped to his left arm and a parachute on his back.

"ETA?"

"Thirty seconds. Because of the situation, we're doing a HALO drop into the area. I'll give you the green light when we're in the jump zone."

"Thanks. Watch for bogies and get back to base safely."

"In this plane?" The pilot asked with a smirk. "By the time they realize we've in their airspace, I'll be over Germany."

Cap walked to the back of the plane. As soon as it was shut, the door of the cargo hold popped and the cockpit re-pressurized. A few moments after that, the back of the jet slid open and angled down. The wind roared through the cargo bay as Rogers walked towards the end of the ramp. A red light above the exit flashed green and Cap launched into the air, free-falling towards the ground from thirty-five thousand feet above it.

Ten minutes later and a thousand feet from the ground, he pulled the parachute and floated the rest of the way. Rogers landed in the middle of a pasture.

"Uncle Sam to Eagle Eye," he said as he slipped the parachute off and surveyed the area around him. "I'm on the ground."

"Roger that, Uncle Sam," Nick Fury said into the commlink in his ear. "We got you on satellite. Heads up, Cap, there's a village about a klick to the west of your current location. A Pakistani military platoon is converging on it. I think they found the target."

"I'm on it."

A few minutes later, Steve peaked out over a ridge down at the small village. A half dozen jeeps with soldiers in them were rolling through the town. Soldiers were kicking in doors, dragging people out of their homes. A group of four soldiers shouted excitedly from the north end of the village. Cap kept low and sneaked through the shadows towards the north side of where the soldiers were. One soldier shouted in Urdu as he pushed a woman in a Burka down to the ground. The woman shouted in terror and the man coughed violently, blood coming out of his mouth. A few seconds later, he fell to the ground, smallpox covering every inch of his visible skin. The rest of the dying soldier's friends quickly back away, aiming their rifles at the woman and shouting wildly.

"I found the target."

"Roger that. You have the green light. Reestablish contact when you and the woman are out of danger, and are on the way towards the extraction point. Fury out."

The line went dead and Cap went to work. He leaped from the shadows and charged towards the men. Assault rifle rounds harmlessly bounced off Captain America's shield as he swung and struck one of the soldiers in the face with the shield. Another man moved to club him in the back of the head. Cap dodged the blow, grabbing the man's wrist and disarming him before delivering a powerful punch that knocked him to the ground. The last soldier turned to run. He was a dozen yards away when the shield struck him in the back of the head. The vibranium disc bounced off the wall of a nearby house, then the ground before being snagged from the air by Cap.

"I'm here to help you," he told the woman. He stepped over the dead soldier and moved to help her up. "I'm here to get you to safety."

Suddenly, the air above the village lit up. A sky ship hovered above the town, spotlights lighting up the area.

"ATTENTION, CAPTAIN AMERICA, THE WOMAN IS NOW PROPERTY OF ADVANCED IDEA MECHANICS. YIELD, OR BE DESTROYED."

Figures jumped from the ship. AIM soldiers converged and attacked the Pakistani soldiers, while a half dozen shocktroopers jumped from the ship and landed in a semi-circle in front of Captain America.

"We are M.O.D.O.C.," the six men in a simultaneous, robotic voice.


"Military Operatives Designed Only for Combat. Yield to us, or be destroyed."

"Ma'am," Cap told the woman. "Please, get to safety."

Sliding his shield on to his arm, Captain America turned back to the MODOC soldiers and nodded.


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Old 05-25-2012, 11:56 PM   #14
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"I'm not convinced this Sam Lamport is your guy, but it's certainly pertinent information." Politicians and teamsters often go together like matches and gasoline, but they usually prefer to settle their differences verbally and publicly. Breaking-and-entering and theft seems irregular.

"Well, I don't want to speak for my partner here," I begin, "but I think we might be able to track down your missing USB drive, Mr. Phillips."
"Damn right. Hell, for this price, my partner and I would love you up."

"Thanks for the offer, but no thanks. The flash drive will do."

"Is this job time-sensitive?"

"The sooner the better."

"Got it. I thanks that's all. Just leave your contact information Gladys outside and we'll contact you if we have any questions, or when the job is done."

"I thank you," Phillips said, standing and shaking hands with both men. "And the governor thanks you. Good luck."

Luke and Danny watched Phillips leave the office. As soon as the door closed, Luke turned to his partner. "Twenty bucks says that USB drive has the governor getting her freak on in some very kinky ways."

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Old 05-26-2012, 02:08 AM   #15
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"Damn right. Hell, for this price, my partner and I would love you up."

"Thanks for the offer, but no thanks. The flash drive will do."

"Is this job time-sensitive?"

"The sooner the better."

"Got it. I thanks that's all. Just leave your contact information Gladys outside and we'll contact you if we have any questions, or when the job is done."

"I thank you," Phillips said, standing and shaking hands with both men. "And the governor thanks you. Good luck."

Luke and Danny watched Phillips leave the office. As soon as the door closed, Luke turned to his partner. "Twenty bucks says that USB drive has the governor getting her freak on in some very kinky ways."
"God, I hope not."

I pick up the check, still unwilling to believe the kind of money being handed around. Then again, I guess you can't put a price on your reputation. Especially in an arena as public as politics, you're only as good as your name. One scandal can ruin a career. Jon Edwards was a former vice presidential hopeful. Look at him now.

"Almost makes me feel bad that I don't vote," I remark as I put the check down on Luke's desk. I look at Luke. "So, what's the first order of business? I assume we'll pay a visit to the mansion, inspect the crime scene. Unless you really think we should follow this teamsters lead?"

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Old 05-26-2012, 08:57 AM   #16
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"Almost makes me feel bad that I don't vote," I remark as I put the check down on Luke's desk. I look at Luke. "So, what's the first order of business? I assume we'll pay a visit to the mansion, inspect the crime scene. Unless you really think we should follow this teamsters lead?"
"There could be something to it, but it could also be a red herring. If it is, or isn't, we can decide after we get done at the house. It's up on the west side of Central Park. C'mon, we can snag a cab."

Luke began to walk to the door, but stopped suddenly. He started to check and pat his pockets. "Dammit... I gave my spare change to Jess. You don't have any money on you?"

"Does it look like I got pockets?"

"Damn. Alright, option B..."

Ten minutes later, Luke and Danny sat down in the bus. The driver stared at the two costumed superheroes skeptically in the mirror before he closed the door and continued on his route. The rest of the passengers gave the two men a wide berth, staying as far back from them as possible.

"Riding the bus in costume is a great way to get people to leave you alone... damn, why didn't I think of this before?"


*****


The bus doors slid open. Danny and Luke stepped off the steps and on to the sidewalk. The doors shut behind them and the bus groaned as it continued on its route. In front of them was a large house nestled between two brownstones.

"Now this is a house. Phillips said someone from the governor's office will waiting for us inside, show us around and let us do our thing."

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Old 05-27-2012, 12:21 AM   #17
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While my first day has been nowhere near the train wreck I was anticipating, lunch nevertheless comes not a moment too soon. I got through first period mostly without a hitch, riding the momentum from my "chemistry is great!" speech, but I had begun to run out of steam by second period. I guess I need to learn to pace myself a bit more. After all, I need to teach the same lesson to four separate classes over the course of the day. As if that wasn't daunting enough, the students are only going to grow more unruly as the day wears on and the allure of freedom draws nearer. Luckily, I have third, sixth, and seventh periods to myself. Right now, it's fourth period, which means lunchtime.

I'm straightening up my desk, waiting for Flash to arrive so we can grab lunch together, when there's a knock at the door. I look up and see a face I haven't seen in many years. "Mr. Warren?"

The balding man smiles. "Peter, my boy!" Raymond Warren has hardly aged a day since I was his star pupil. The only signs that any time has passed since those days is the light dusting of gray which now creeps up his trademark mustache. I try to avoid making eye contact because he has the eyes of his brother, Miles. It dredges up bad memories. "Never imagined I'd see you grace these hallowed halls again."

"Trust me. Neither did I," I admit. "I didn't know you were still teaching."

"Senior year chemistry and junior year biology," he answers. "I see they've stuck you with the freshmen." He laughs. "Let me put it this way: I taught freshmen for the first six years, and when I started, I still had all my hair."

I reach up and nervously feel the mop of brown hair atop my head.

"Knock knock?"

I turn and see Flash Thompson, one-time Midtown football phenom and current gym teacher and coach, standing in the doorway. There once was a day that running into Flash was a dreaded nightmare. We've since become close friends, and I look to him as a friendly face among the pimpled sea of teenagers which now surrounds me. "Forgive me, Mr. Warren. I hope I'm not interrupting."

Mr. Warren smiles. I wonder what it's like for him to see his old students become part of the faculty. I'm sure, like me, he's glad that Flash has matured. The two often butt heads when they were teacher and student. They seem amiable enough now. "Of course not, Mr. Thompson. I was just seeing how Mr. Parker was adjusting."

Flash nods. "Hey, Pete, you ready?"

"I hate to run, but fourth period is my lunch break," I explain to Mr. Warren politely. "It was good seeing you again."

"You as well, my boy!" replies Mr. Warren enthusiastically. "Don't hesitate to stop by my classroom for advice. My door is always open!"

On the way to lunch, Flash asks me how my first few periods went. I tell him mostly everything, but I leave out some of the specifics about the jocks being disruptive. No need to get them in trouble with their coach since they didn't cause any major problems. Nonetheless, Flash offers to whip them into shape if they give me a hard time. I laugh and assure him that I'll take him up on that if I need to.

As we enter the faculty lunchroom, I feel like I'm stepping into a forbidden land. This area was always strictly off-limits to students, so rumors of what it might contain spread like wildfire. In this case, truth is not stranger than fiction. It looks like almost any other break room: circular tables in the middle of the room, couches on the sides, vending machines on the far wall. For teachers who came without their own lunch, a selection of the cafeteria's finest is presented for purchase. "Grab us a table, Pete. I'll pick up lunch," Flash offers.

No sooner have I selected a table than another voice calls out for my attention. "Peter!" I look up to see Carlie Cooper, Midtown's nurse and first friendly face I encountered here, approaching. She smiles at me and pulls up a chair. "I was hoping I'd run into you again. I wanted to see if your day improved after the rough start."

"After that start, I had nowhere to go but up, right?" I joke. "Actually, it wasn't all that bad. It took me a minute to get the kids' attention, but once I did I kinda got on a roll."

Before Carlie can respond, Flash returns with two trays of cafeteria slop. Note to self: bring own lunch from now on. He glances between Carlie and me before taking a seat. "I see you around all the time, but I don't think we've officially met," he says to Carlie. "I'm Flash Thompson. I'm the--"

"Football coach," Carlie finishes. When Flash seems impressed, she says, "I'm Carlie Cooper, the nurse. I patch your guys up when they need it, so..."

Flash smiles. "For which I'm very grateful."

As I reach for my fork to begin sorting my way through this mess that they call a lunch, I see Carlie's eyes dart to my hand. "Oh, you're married?" she asks me.

I look down at my shimmering wedding band. I don't even remember putting it on. I guess it's a force of habit. "Umm... separated, actually," I answer.

"Oh."

Flash clears his throat. "Mary Jane just needed some time to herself to figure out what she really wants her five-year plan to be," he jumps in. He looks at me to make sure that he hasn't said too much, and I release him with a glance. Figuring that nothing more on the topic need be said, Flash turns his attention to his food.

Just then, my head begins to pound. Spider-Sense? Here? I look around the room. Everything seems normal. I can't imagine what's making the hair on the back of my neck stand on end. The only thing that looks even remotely out of the ordinary is a man in coveralls with his hat pulled down over his face, standing in line to get lunch. "Who's that?" I ask.

Carlie follows my gaze. "Him?" She nods to the man in the coveralls. "That's Nathan Lubensky, the school janitor."

My heart sinks. That's not possible. Nathan Lubensky is dead. I know because I saw him die. I know because Aunt May was going to marry him. So unless I'm starting to see dead people, something's wrong here. I watch this janitor intently. First of all, Nathan was confined to a wheelchair. And while this janitor seems to have a crooked back, he's still standing on two legs. He's certainly old enough, by the look of him, but...

No.

When the janitor turns, I get my first good look at his face. And it starts to make sense. He's let his hair grow out longer than usual, and there's a thick beard covering the bottom half of his face, but I'd recognize those beady eyes and that beak of a nose anywhere. This man knew Nathan Lubensky, but if that's not Adrian Toomes then I'm Wolverine.

The only problem is that he catches me staring at him. And even worse? I see the spark of recognition in his eyes as well.

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Old 05-27-2012, 12:32 AM   #18
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The bus doors slid open. Danny and Luke stepped off the steps and on to the sidewalk. The doors shut behind them and the bus groaned as it continued on its route. In front of them was a large house nestled between two brownstones.

"Now this is a house. Phillips said someone from the governor's office will waiting for us inside, show us around and let us do our thing."
I lead the way, knocking three times on the door before taking a step back. The governor must not be doing too bad for herself if she can afford a house like this. Even I have to admit it's a nice place, and I grew up in mansions.

Moments later, a door opens, and we're greeted by a mousy-looking woman with orange-reddish hair pulled back in a messy bun. The glasses she wears are entirely unflattering for her face, the overly large lenses distorting her eyes so that they look like glass balls. In spite of it all, she's not totally unattractive. "You must be the private investigators," she announces. She gives me a strange look - understandable, considering my attire. "Please, come in."

As she steps back, Luke and I enter the governor's home. The entrance foyer is spacious. A crystal chandelier hangs overheard, and the walls are adorned with large paintings. The house has a pleasant, classical feel.

"I was told that you were coming. My name is Michele Tillman. I'm one of the governor's assistants." I extend my hand to make her acquaintance, but she shies away from the gesture. "I'm sure you'll want to see the scene of the crime, so if you follow me..."

I hang back a moment with Luke in the foyer. "Look at that artwork," I remark. "I know it's hard to move, but don't you think that'd be worth a pretty penny?" My implication is clear. This might've been staged as a simple break-in, but any crook would think to take something as valuable as a painting. Just as we might've expected, this job has everything to do with that flash drive.

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Old 05-27-2012, 07:41 AM   #19
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Four Weeks Ago

Marc Spector steps out of the just landed private jet and into the dull gray predawn light of the New York morning. He takes a deep, satisfying breath, taking in the still cold early morning air, then waves at the man waiting for him next to an all black S-class Mercedes Sedan.

The man, who nods politely in response, is tall and slightly heavy set with sharp gray eyes that look that they don't miss much and and thinning salt and pepper hair.

"Sir." He says with a thin smile as he opens the back door of the sedan for Marc "Its good to have you back."

"Thanks Samuels." Marc responds as he puts a hand on the man's shoulder "Its good to be back."

"You're looking well." Samuels observes as Marc lowers himself into the back seat.

Marc smiles at him

"I feel well." he replies "And this time I'm here to stay."

"Of course Sir." Samuels says before shutting the door. He's too polite to say it, but he's heard that before. Marc doesn't blame him for having his doubts. Samuels was not just a employee, he was an old friend, one of a precious few, and like all of Marc's old friends, he had seen his him at his absolute worst and stuck by him. It was something Marc was forever grateful for and something he long ago promised himself would never happen again.

This time really is going to be different. This time, he's finally whole.



***

Now

They call it the Deep End. 20 years ago this stretch of New York's harbor front would have been alive with the sounds of commerce. That was before new developments, including a modern dock further North pulled all the business away. Fewer and fewer ships began docking here. Warehouses closed. Business moved elsewhere. And as they left vagrants, junkies and gangs moved in to take their place. New York simply didn't have the money to reclaim and revitalize the harbor. So the city instead chooses to go about its business, all the while pretending that the problem doesn't exist.

But not everyone is so good at pretending. Moon Knight has been patrolling the Deep End for the better part of the past two weeks. Though he's intervened to prevent the odd crime here and there he has mostly chosen to remain unseen, to watch and gather information. His efforts have led him here, to the shadow of an abandoned warehouse coated with thick dust and adorned with broken windows. He sits perched on the edge of the derelict structure, peering into the darkened alley below.
Sits and watches as a dark brown van with no license plates pulls up to a group of young men who all sport a variety of gang tattoos. The men have been spending their time rolling dice in the back of the alley and as the van approaches the largest of the men, a muscle bound latino man with a thick goatee and shaven head, stands up and makes his way towards it.

All the van's door open simultaneously and six men emerge, two from the front and four from the back. Marc immediately notices that the men stepping out of the back of the van all sport sub machine guns. He presses a receiver built into his cowl right next to his left ear and begins listening in to the conversation taking place below via a transmitter placed earlier.

"You're late." The Latino man says to the driver of the van "And you're packing a lot more heat than usual."

"Yeah well Boar said to take extra precautions." The driver, a fat man with slicked back hair and a leather jacket replies "Word is you've got a new hero operating in the Deep End."

The Latino man makes a mocking sound and waves his hand dismissively at the driver "You believe that crap?"

"Don't you?"

"Heeeelll no. Heroes don't play in the deep end. 'Sides If there was a hero down here I'd know about it. Junkies hallucinatin' is all it is man. They get high and start seeing things."

"Maybe" the driver says with a shrug of his sloped shoulders "All I know is the boss says take extra precautions so I take extra precautions."

"Fair enough." The Latino says "Lets do this thing."

The driver nods and gestures to the four men with submachine guns who let their weapons hang loose off of their bodies by the straps and start unloading boxes out of the back of the van. The latino man watches them for work for a moment then waves his men over to receive the delivery.

SHUKK

"AARRRGGHHH!!" The Latino man screams and holds up the hand he had just been waving. There is a silver crescent is embedded in the flesh.

"Oh Crap!" The driver blurts out as he stares at the crescent and rapidly puts two and two together. He opens his mouth to say something but is immediately silenced by three projectiles which knock him off his feet and pin him to the pavement.

With both leaders down chaos suddenly dominates the alleyway. Weapons are drawn, curses are shouted and in the middle of it all, two more dealers go down. A third feels something moving in the darkness behind him and turns around in time for the sole of a boot to hit him in the mouth, knocking out teeth and leaving him unconscious on the ground. His nearest colleague turns towards the sound and fires wildly. The rounds might have hit another of the dealers if not for the fact that a leg sweep brings the man down and out of the firing line.The shooter is about to fire again a flourish of white fabric fills his line of sight. He screams as his weapon is knocked from his hands, then is immediately silenced as a fist strikes him on the left temple.

Only two dealers remain now and they are of the tattooed dice shooting variety. They raise their side arms in Moon Knight's direction but he's too fast for them and his open palm flashes out in their direction, firing small sharpened crescents in the process. The crescents dig deep into the ink covered flesh of their arms, making them recoil in pain and giving Moon Knight the opportunity he needs to close the distance between him and them. He dispatches the first man with a snap kick to the chin and spins into a backhand that floors the second.

Relative silence, highlighted by a few groans and one man's pained sobbing, fills the air in the alleyway as Moon Knight straightens and allows his cloak to fall over his shoulders. He ignores the men and walks purposefully towards one of the crates from the back of the van. Armored fingers dig into the crate and rip the top off revealing row after row of small capsules of Mutant Growth Hormone.

Moon Knight looks at the drugs in disgust then takes a few menacing steps towards the muscle bound Latino man with the crescent in his hand. The man is still conscious but he's on the ground and his teeth are gritted in pain. He's lost enough blood to be woozy, but not enough for his life to be threatened and Moon Knight shows no sympathy as he grabs him by the shoulders and roughly drags him to his feet.

"Hello Tank." Moon Knight growls, using the man's street name "I've got some question for you."



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Old 05-27-2012, 10:47 AM   #20
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I hang back a moment with Luke in the foyer. "Look at that artwork," I remark. "I know it's hard to move, but don't you think that'd be worth a pretty penny?" My implication is clear. This might've been staged as a simple break-in, but any crook would think to take something as valuable as a painting. Just as we might've expected, this job has everything to do with that flash drive.
"Oh, no doubt. There's a reason they came to us and not the NYPD."

The two heroes followed Tillman through the halls and corridors of the mansion. They followed the woman up the stairs to a small back office where papers and files were stacked up on a desk beside a computer monitor.

"Here we are. This is a private office for the governor and Mister Phillips."

Tillman turned around and only saw Danny. She furrowed her brow and Danny turned around, not seeing Luke either.

"Oh, dawg," Luke said from an adjacent room. He came out the bedroom with a sheet in his hands. "Feel these sheets. The threadcount on this is crazy."

Tillman cleared her throat and shot an icy glance at Cage. Luke smiled and tossed the sheet back into the room he found it. "Now, as I was saying. This is where the robbery happened."

The governor's assistant pointed towards a hole in the wall just behind the desk. "The back safe here was ripped out its frame on the wall. A few items were taken, most of that Mister Phillips told you about."

"I saw security cameras up when we came in. Any video of the robbery?"

"I'm afraid not,"' she said with a shake of her head. "We have a dozen CC cameras around the house, but the cameras went dead just as the burglary happened. They kicked in the back door and came in, that tripped the alarm. NYPD got here and nobody was to be found. All told, the robber was in and out of here in two minutes."

"Alright. Let me and my partner check this out and take some notes."

"Very well. I'll get out of your hair. Let me know if you need anything."

Tillman turned and left the office. Luke walked towards the hole in the wall. He leaned in and noticed claw marks on the wood around the crater. "Looks like this safe was pulled out by hand. Someone able to do that in under two minutes, and carry the safe off by themselves... Looks like we're dealing with someone with powers."

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Old 05-27-2012, 12:39 PM   #21
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"I'm afraid not,"' she said with a shake of her head. "We have a dozen CC cameras around the house, but the cameras went dead just as the burglary happened. They kicked in the back door and came in, that tripped the alarm. NYPD got here and nobody was to be found. All told, the robber was in and out of here in two minutes."

"Alright. Let me and my partner check this out and take some notes."

"Very well. I'll get out of your hair. Let me know if you need anything."

Tillman turned and left the office. Luke walked towards the hole in the wall. He leaned in and noticed claw marks on the wood around the crater. "Looks like this safe was pulled out by hand. Someone able to do that in under two minutes, and carry the safe off by themselves... Looks like we're dealing with someone with powers."
"Good thing they called us, then." Not to take anything away from the NYPD, but they have a... history of failing to apprehend metahumans. Fortunately, metahumans are among our specialties at Heroes for Hire. Though, truth be told, I much prefer the common thug which shrinks in fear the minute I pull out the ol' Iron Fist routine.

I run my fingers along the scratched wood. I read of an Iron Fist who possessed an amazing ability. He could identify a person solely by their chi, even if he was blindfolded. He describes individual chi of having a distinct "flavor" or "scent." It was said that this ability was so powerful, he could sense who had been in a room, even up to a day after they left. I, on the other hand, do not possess this ability.

"What do you think: are we dealing with an established pro or some new face trying to make a name for himself?" I ask Luke.

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Old 05-27-2012, 12:49 PM   #22
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"What do you think: are we dealing with an established pro or some new face trying to make a name for himself?" I ask Luke.
"No idea," Luke said with the shake of his head. "But a job like this, people we're dealing with, it had to be farmed out to someone. It's not everyday that someone is looking to hit up the governor's house, so the mooks have to be talking about it. What if we hit up your boy, Stilt-Man, see if he's heard any criminal scuttlebutt on the job?"

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Old 05-27-2012, 09:16 PM   #23
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"No idea," Luke said with the shake of his head. "But a job like this, people we're dealing with, it had to be farmed out to someone. It's not everyday that someone is looking to hit up the governor's house, so the mooks have to be talking about it. What if we hit up your boy, Stilt-Man, see if he's heard any criminal scuttlebutt on the job?"
I have to smile. "I already told you. He's not my 'boy.' He's just an informant, no different from all the rest," I insist.

"Except for the failed career as the world's lamest supervillain."

I roll my eyes. "Come on. We're done here."

* * *

Luke and I are forced to ride another bus, and we receive much the same reactions as before. Luckily, with daylight dwindling, the bus is much less crowded. It's a longer ride this time - one that takes us all the way to edge of Manhattan and beyond. Luke's eyes narrow as he sees where we're headed. "Queens?"

I shrug. "He wanted to get somewhere a little quieter, I guess."

A few minutes later, we're off the bus and walking down the street of a pleasant Queens neighborhood. The sun has almost completely set now, and the streets are mostly empty. When people see us coming, they head inside to avoid trouble. Finally, we come upon the quaint row house where Wilbur Day, formerly Stilt-Man, makes his home.

As we approach the door, I turn to Luke. "Let's get one thing straight: under no circumstance are you to call him 'Stilt-Man' or refer to his past in any way," I warn sternly. "He will kick us out."

Luke nods, but I wonder if he'll be able to resist the temptation. I ring the doorbell, and moments later an unassuming man appears. If you got one look at him, you'd never believe that he used to go toe-to-toe with Spider-Man, Daredevil, and countless others.

"Hi, Wilbur." I notice him looking over my shoulder. "You recognize my partner, of course. Can we come in?"

Wilbur hesitates a moment before stepping back into the house, leaving the door open for us.

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Old 05-27-2012, 09:45 PM   #24
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As we approach the door, I turn to Luke. "Let's get one thing straight: under no circumstance are you to call him 'Stilt-Man' or refer to his past in any way," I warn sternly. "He will kick us out."

Luke nods, but I wonder if he'll be able to resist the temptation. I ring the doorbell, and moments later an unassuming man appears. If you got one look at him, you'd never believe that he used to go toe-to-toe with Spider-Man, Daredevil, and countless others.

"Hi, Wilbur." I notice him looking over my shoulder. "You recognize my partner, of course. Can we come in?"

Wilbur hesitates a moment before stepping back into the house, leaving the door open for us.
Luke and Danny walked through the door into Day's foyer. The room had cabinets and glass cases filled with porcelain figurines of cats, frogs, and pigs. "Unusual hobby you got, dawg."

"Man's gotta have a hobby," Day said with a shrug. "It's either my figurines or robbing banks, and we know how that always ends up."

"Yeah," Luke scoffed. "Yeah, we do."
Day led Danny and Luke into his living room. Inside the living room, there were more figurines on shelves mounted on the walls. "Damn, man, you livin' with your grandma?"

"Technically, she lives with me," Day said as he sat down in a chair. The two heroes sat down on the couch across from him. "I'm assuming your visit isn't social. So, what's the crime you two boys need some help with?"

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Old 05-27-2012, 09:58 PM   #25
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Luke and Danny walked through the door into Day's foyer. The room had cabinets and glass cases filled with porcelain figurines of cats, frogs, and pigs. "Unusual hobby you got, dawg."

"Man's gotta have a hobby," Day said with a shrug. "It's either my figurines or robbing banks, and we know how that always ends up."

"Yeah," Luke scoffed. "Yeah, we do."
Day led Danny and Luke into his living room. Inside the living room, there were more figurines on shelves mounted on the walls. "Damn, man, you livin' with your grandma?"

"Technically, she lives with me," Day said as he sat down in a chair. The two heroes sat down on the couch across from him. "I'm assuming your visit isn't social. So, what's the crime you two boys need some help with?"
Luke and I exchange a glance. I clear my throat and speak first. "Someone broke into the governor's home in Manhattan the other night."

"Hell of a job," Wilbur remarks apathetically. But he's not fooling me. I saw the spark in his eye as soon as I mentioned the governor.

"That's what we were thinking. A job like that gets people talking."

Wilbur shrugs. "People talk about a lot of things," he says. For some reason, he's playing a cat-and-mouse game with his information. It must mean he's scared. But scared of what?

"Don't play this game, Wilbur," I warn calmly. "Word moves fast on the street. I know you've heard something."

Wilbur stares at me for a moment before relenting. "Fine, I have heard something." He sighs, leaning back into his chair. "But you should know: by the way the boys are talking about this one, there's a lot more than meets the eye. Something big's going on beneath the surface."

"Something always is."

"The guy who pulled the job is Tombstone, but he's just a hired hand," Wilbur reveals. "And before you ask, I don't know who hired him, and I don't care. I plan to live a long and happy life, and that means staying out of cases like this. Asking too many questions can get a guy killed."

I stand first, and Wilbur follows. "No worries, Wilbur. What you've told us is plenty," I assure him. I shake his hand, and Luke gives him an appreciative nod. "We'll let you get back to..."

"Sudoku. They say it keeps the mind sharp." Wilbur leads us to the door. "And, in the future, can you ditch the outfits or wait until dark or something? If word gets out that I'm meeting with Power Man and Iron Fist..."

I nod. "I'll keep it in mind, Wilbur. Thanks for everything. You have a good night."

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