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Old 05-30-2012, 05:56 PM   #51
Byrd Man
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Default Re: The "Nuff Said" Marvel Universe RPG

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I shake my head in disgust. I would've taken almost anything but this. It's one thing to know that the governor of your state is corrupt. It's another thing entirely to know that she has accepted campaign funds from HYDRA, the world's leading terrorist organization. As far as I'm concerned, the governor has the same blood on her hands that HYDRA does, and it makes me sick.

"Good thing we took a look at this first." I close the spreadsheet and shut the laptop. I can't bear to look at this any longer. I'm sure Luke's right: if the governor was willing to accept HYDRA's help, who else might she be in league with? But I need to process the shock of this revelation before I can dig any deeper.

I look up at Luke. "I guess we know what our play is," I remark. I pull the USB drive from my laptop. "Get this information to the proper authorities and take this all public." Maybe this assignment wasn't a waste after all.
"Damn...," I said with a sigh, pulling the check Phillips gave us from my pocket "Guess it wouldn't be right accepting their money, would it?"

I looked down at Danny and he just shook his head slowly. "But--"

Head shake.

"But what if we--"

Head shake.

"Okay, look--"

Head shake.

"Damn. I'm sorry for this, girl,"
I said, ripping the check in two. "I'll go call the Daily Bugle..."

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Old 05-30-2012, 08:43 PM   #52
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Y'know, sometimes I think it'd be nice if once - just once - things would finally start going my way. I think it'd be nice to live in a world where madmen don't threaten my friends and family, where scientists don't turn themselves into monsters, and where supervillains don't work part-time as janitors! Why here of all places?! Just when I was starting a job that I might actually grow to like! I'm close to Aunt May, I get to work with Flash, I'm teaching something that I'm passionate about... and Adrian Toomes, amazingly still alive at his age, is masquerading as the school janitor!

But that's not the worst of it all! He knows that I know who he is! And what's more, he knows who I am because I once attacked him, as Peter Parker, when he was harassing Aunt May. So it's not even like I have the element of surprise on my side.

Needless to say, the rest of my day passed by like a haze. I don't even remember what I said to my last two classes of the day, because I was so distracted thinking about this terrible situation. Every time someone passed by the door, I thought it was Toomes coming to permanently silence me. Of course, that's just crazy. He's clearly in hiding. He wouldn't risk blowing his cover by attacking me during the school day. Which, of course, only made it worse because I was then dreading the end of the day!

I have to get to Principal Gonzales at the end of the day, I resolved to myself during my last class period. I'll tell her what I know and how I know it, and she'll have to look into it.

After the eighth and final period, my room empties out. As I prepare to make a dash to Principal Gonzales' office, knowing that she usually leaves within minutes of the last bell, my Spider-Sense begins to hum. Low level stuff, enough to tell me that something's amiss. I look at the door first, assuming to see Toomes. Nothing there. I look around the room. Nothing still. That's when I smell it.

Gas!

I turn to the door, only to see Toomes standing there. He glares at me as he closes the door. I hear the lock turn. The smell of the gas is filling the room now. I run to the door, but Toomes has locked me in. I try and hold my breath, but it's too late. I've inhaled too much gas. I start to feel lightheaded, and I try to push on the door. My strength is fading. I feel my knees begin to buckle, and my peripheral vision goes white...

* * *

When I finally come to, my head is still swimming from Toomes' knockout gas. Whatever he used was pretty potent. It got on me too fast for me to react. He must've pumped it through the air vents into my room. I'm kicking myself for being so careless. As my vision returns, I'm greeted with unfamiliar sights. The room I'm in smells like oil and grease. As I look around, I realize that I know this place. It's where they used to host shop class, back before it was removed from the curriculum for being "too dangerous." As I remember, it was the only class where Flash Thompson got an 'A.' He was very proud of that.

When Toomes sees I'm stirring, he takes one look at me and then goes back to his work. He has my arms chained to a metal support beam in the corner of the room. It's nothing that the good ol' Spider-Strength couldn't take care of, but obviously I can't do that with Toomes around. I'll have to wait for him to leave. Besides, I'm still lightheaded from the gas, which would make any escape attempt be hopelessly sloppy.

"You're that old bat Parker's nephew," Toomes announces. "The one who once attacked me."

I grit my teeth as I struggle against my chains. "Are you going to kill me?" I ask plainly.

Toomes shrugs. He has his back turned to me as he tinkers with something on a workbench. "I haven't decided," he answers. "I have no great need for you to be dead, to be perfectly honest. I just can't risk you exposing me and ruining my plan prematurely."

"And what plan is this?" I ask, arching an eyebrow. "To collect a pension so that your old behind can finally retire?"

Toomes spins, pointing a wrench at me threateningly. "I'd watch that glib tongue of yours, boy. I said I had no great need to see you dead. Keep talking back to me, and that might change!" With a huff, he goes back to his work. Good ol' Vulture, temperamental as always.

"So what, then? Planning on terrorizing my aunt some more?"

"All I sought from your aunt was forgiveness," Toomes replies over his shoulder, "but I'm beyond that now." He turns to me and shows me what he was working on. At first glance, it looks like an elongated blade of some kind. It's almost as tall as Toomes and serrated on both sides. "The Vulture will fly again!"

Toomes pushes aside the workbench, and I see a collection of similar looking blades. That's when I realize that they aren't blades. They're... feathers. Sharp, metal feathers. Toomes is building a new Vulture flight-suit. Luckily, it looks like he's still in the assembly process, which means there's still time to clip his wings before he can take flight again.

About an hour later, Toomes finally leaves, but not before warning me that he'll be returning within the hour. Which is perfectly fine for me because it saves me the trouble of hunting him down. As he leaves, I begin pushing against the chains. The effects of the gas completely gone, I have little trouble breaking free. From there, it's onto a quick costume change...

* * *

True to his word, Toomes returns a short time later. When he sees the broken chains and the missing Peter Parker, he gasps in horror. Above him, I clear my throat. He looks up, and his eyes go wide. "SPIDER-MAN!"



"In the flesh!" I respond happily. "I heard that you were in town, so I decided to come hang... Get it?" I laugh to myself quietly. "Oh, man. You just don't see comedy like that these days."

"How did you find me?!" Toomes demands. I've got him flustered.

"Ummm... duh? You kidnapped Peter Parker. The guy's been taking my pictures for ten years now." I hold up a spider-tracer. "I gave him this to use in emergencies. He activates it, I come save him."

Toomes grits his teeth. "Should've killed the boy..."

"Let's not dwell on the past, Vulchie. Instead, let's talk about the future," I suggest. I nod to the pile of Toomes' new "feathers." "Trying to set a record for oldest criminal to commit a bank robbery?"

"You won't be laughing in a minute, infernal pest!" Toomes rips open his shirt, revealing a green bodysuit of armor. He taps a button on his chest, and tiny lights running the length of the suit come to life. There's a low hum in the room. Suddenly, the "feathers" begin to rattle. One by one, they fly to Toomes' side, lining up in a crude pattern which resembles wings. Electrical currents jump from one feather to the next.



"Come, wallcrawler! Let's finish this feud!"

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Old 05-30-2012, 10:43 PM   #53
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Default Re: The "Nuff Said" Marvel Universe RPG

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"Damn...," I said with a sigh, pulling the check Phillips gave us from my pocket "Guess it wouldn't be right accepting their money, would it?"

I looked down at Danny and he just shook his head slowly. "But--"

Head shake.

"But what if we--"

Head shake.

"Okay, look--"

Head shake.

"Damn. I'm sorry for this, girl,"
I said, ripping the check in two. "I'll go call the Daily Bugle..."
One Week Later...

I'm sitting at my desk at the Heroes for Hire office while Luke leans against the front of his, arms folded. Gladys is standing in the doorway as well. We're all watching the governor's press conference. With the evidence that Luke and I turned in against her, the governor was forced to run from office. Today is the official announcement of her resignation. Not that it will save her from the impending legal ramifications of what she had done.

Gladys snorts. "Good riddance. I never liked the little tart."

Luke shakes his head, showing the faintest of smiles. I can tell, like me, he's disappointed by the way the job went. I turn off the television. We don't need to watch this farce anymore. "So I was thinking," I begin, "that it might be a good idea to look into an official transport for Heroes for Hire. That way, we're not relying on public transportation or hoofing it all the time."

Luke nods. "You know, if we had taken the money--"

"We weren't going to take the money." I think of how things have changed for the governor in the last week. Bad things happen when you accept blood money. Heroes for Hire may be a business, but it's an honorable business. "So what do you think about an H4H-Mobile?"

Luke gives me a look.

"No, we won't seriously call it that."

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Old 05-31-2012, 03:44 PM   #54
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Default Re: The "Nuff Said" Marvel Universe RPG



The TV blared out of a wide open room in Avengers mansion.

# Bad Boys, Whatcha want, Whatcha Want, Whatcha Gonna Do? #

Orange fingers stuff another palm full of Cheez-Its into an awaiting mouth.

“We’ve just had it called in that the perpetrator is just around this corner. He’s armed with a knife and was threatening a hostage until he fled out of his back door. He should be coming around any…”

“Whoa! Hold your fire man! Ion’t wan’ none of this!”

“DROP THE KNIFE!”

“Don’t shoot!”

“DROP THE KNIFE!”

“Please, don’t… Don’t taze me, bro!”

“Bzzzzzzz! *crackle*”

“Pfffft bahahahahahaha!” From the sofa a small geyser of orange crumbs blows forth as Clint Barton erupts with laughter. Sitting topless and wearing only dark blue pants and his trademark mask and headwear, the small cloud of cheese flavoured crumbs settles on his bare chest.

“Ahh, hell…” Checking the bag of snacks is empty he heads for the kitchen to clean himself up and make himself something more substantial.

“Mr Hawkeye, I can’t help but notice you seem to be spending a disproportionate time sitting and eating. Are you sure there is not…”

“Jarvis, Jarvis, Jarvis…” Hawkeye starts, speaking to the Artificial Intelligence system that operates the smart home among other places and things created by one Tony Stark. “I had one snack, now I’m just making myself a BLT… Unless you want to make it for me?”

“Mr Hawkeye, I cannot make you a BLT, I am an artificial intelligence…”

“Can’t make a BLT? Doesn’t sound too intelligent. It’s just bacon, lettuce and tom--.”

“I believe you misunderstand me, I can’t make you a BLT because as an artificial intelligence system I don’t have hands. Not because I lack the theoretical knowledge of how to construct…”

“Jarvis… That was just… Ugh.”

Clint continued preparing his sandwich.

“I can however provide you with a BLT… Order…”

“Wait, what..?”

“…being placed online with Subway Catering. Order placed. I hope you enjoy your BLT. Eat fresh.”

Hawkeye, having just finished making his sandwich looked up at the ceiling in frustration.

“Hawkeye, how many times have you been asked to not tease Jarvis?”

“…”

Clint turned and came face-to face with a stern, yet pretty young woman, one of Tony Stark’s people, Pepper Potts.

“And he makes a good point. Haven’t you been sitting around enough today?”

Clint pulled the plate up to obscure the orange crumbs on his chest.

“I’ve already trained 2 and a half hours today. Cap’s out in Pakistan, Tony’s… well, I thought he was with you. I’m it. Someone has to stay home and hold the fort in case something comes in.”

“With Captain America out the training facility is free. You could train some more to compensate for surplus calories from your recent increase in recreational…” Jarvis started.

“You just want to chase me around with lasers again. I’m onto you, you’re still mad about the ‘Who’s on First’ routine I pulled on you last week.”

“Hawkeye, Jarvis is an artificial intelligence system…”

“So he keeps feeling the urge to remind me…”

“…he doesn’t get mad. Or bitter. Maybe you could go train some more like he suggests.”

“Ms Potts, I’m a finely tuned athletic machine. I’m accustomed to two and a half hours training a day. If I start changing around my training routine too much, I’m liable to suffer burnout or injury. Then I’m no good to anyone.”

“That would make a much better argument if your fingers and chest weren’t covered with cheese crumbs…” Pepper retorted, as she turned away.

“You don’t believe me? Feel that! Chiselled!” He said, holding out a bicep.

“Hawkeye… I’m not feeling anything.” Potts said dismissively, walking towards the front door.

“I bet Stark’s not cut like this! Hey! Come back! Look, rest assured Ms Potts, nobody’s got more at stake from my diet and fitness than me.” He said, holding the sandwich out in one hand, as Pepper turned back with her hand on the door. “Trust me, I’m looking after myself.”

“Well good. I hope so.” She said, opening the door.

“One BLT for Hawkeye.”

“…”

Pepper Potts shot him a look and shook her head as she left the mansion and walked towards the main gate.

“Great… That's just great... How’d you get here so fast anyway..?”

“Mr Stark is a great tipper. Is he in..?” The delivery boy said, not-too subtly leaning in with an outstretched palm.

Clint Barton fired a look at the young food-freighter, but he was either too green or didn’t care enough to take heed. After a few uncomfortable seconds Hawkeye dug into his pocket with his free hand before pulling out a crumpled 20 dollar bill.

“Well, I’ve only got a twenty, have you got---“

“Thanks, Mister!” The kid said stuffing his fresh bought BLT into Hawkeye’s free hand.

“Oh by the way, you have some stuff…” The delivery boy gestured to his own chest. Before running past Pepper Potts back to the main gates leaving Hawkeye standing on the porch with two BLT’s and an orange chest.

“That’s… That’s great. What’s your second act, Jarvis?”

“I believe you said What was the second baseman, sir…”

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Old 05-31-2012, 05:01 PM   #55
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"Taskmaster," Steve said, not taking his eyes off the assassin. A spetsnaz soldier swung at him with a combat knife. Cap knocked the man's arm away and drove a fist into his sternum. The soldier grunted in pain and Captain America backflipped, kicking the man under the chin and knocked him out.

"I assume these misguided young men are with you," he said towards Taskmaster, stifling a cough with the back of his hand.
"Sort of. You can probably tell I didn't train 'em. I was hired to escort them and make sure they get that lady in custody." I pull my bow and arrow out and level my aim right between Cap's eyes. With the skills of Hawkeye and Bullseye at my disposal, Rogers knows that I can make the shot without much trouble, especially as he doesn't have his shield at the moment.



"You understand this is just business, right? Nothin' personal."

Just as the arrow leaves my fingers, wouldn't y'know it, one of those damn Ruskies starts coughing uncontrollably and stumbles straight into my line of fire, taking the arrow straight through his shoulder.

"Goddamn amateurs," I grumble under my breath while I reach for my sword as Cap seizes the window of opportunity that fate just granted him. I can't help but shake my head in disappointment. "Those Russians, amirite?"

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Old 05-31-2012, 05:28 PM   #56
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"You understand this is just business, right? Nothin' personal."

Just as the arrow leaves my fingers, wouldn't y'know it, one of those damn Ruskies starts coughing uncontrollably and stumbles straight into my line of fire, taking the arrow straight through his shoulder.

"Goddamn amateurs," I grumble under my breath while I reach for my sword as Cap seizes the window of opportunity that fate just granted him. I can't help but shake my head in disappointment. "Those Russians, amirite?"
"I wouldn't know," Rogers said as he ran across the road, zigzagging gunfire from a soldier. He rolled and picked up his shield, blocking the bullets with the hardened disc. "The Russians I fought with were brave men and women, as well as tough fighters. Cruel at times, but brave."

He slung his shield at the Russian assailant, knocking him to the ground with a blow to the chest. The shield ricocheted off the front fender of the truck and back at Cap, who nabbed it from the air.

"Listen, Taskmaster, you and what's left of your men need to leave the area immediately. The woman you're after, it's not what you think. Prolonged exposure to her will kill you."

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Old 05-31-2012, 06:11 PM   #57
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Cap's words get my attention, but I'm not about to give up on a fight just because the opponent tells me to. "Yeah? You seem to be doing just fine." Sparks explode as my sword crashes against his shield and I flip over his head, intending to plant my feet into the back of his head, the way I saw Spider-Man do to the Rhino once. Of course, Captain America is no Rhino, so he ducks it and I land on my toes in the dirt. "So you'll understand if I don't take your word for it," I reply as he pivots around and comes back in to get on the offensive.



Without missing a beat, I pull another arrow out and let it fly directly towards his throat, and he would have never been able to raise his shield in time to block the shot at this close range if it weren't for his super-soldier reflexes, but it gives me an opening to press the attack.



"Sure, you've got your honest boyscout reputation, but I wouldn't put it passed you to try and bluff your way out of a bad situation to save the damsel in distress."

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Old 05-31-2012, 07:24 PM   #58
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"This is......unfortunate...." we say to ourselves as we look at the pair of bloodied corpses in a shot-up squad car outside the condemned building where we'd been squatting.

And to think, everything had been going so well. Since returning to New York, we'd found a hovel for ourselves, in a suitably run-down neighborhood in the Bronx, quiet enough that no one would think to look for us there. We'd been doing our part to clean up the block, getting rid of a few dealers that no one would really miss.

Apart from unexpectedly seeing Ann again the other day--especially unexpected since she killed herself a few years ago--and spending sleepless nights wondering if we really saw her or one of us is losing their mind, it had been a decent, reasonably quiet life.

That is, until two police officers, their car riddled with buckshot and their bodies shredded from multiple close-range shotgun blasts, just so happened to crash right out in front of our front door.

Scrambling up the wall to the rooftops, we scan the streets below, seeing the flashing lights of more squad cars. That didn't take long; the NYPD doesn't like it when two of their own are shot to pieces for no reason. Of course, whoever did this had a very specific reason in mind: to put the spotlight on us.

No time to grab our things--cops will be here any second, and more difficult trouble probably not far behind them. We leap into the air, our other flinging webs to swing away, before we see a figure at the end of the block, one that's far too familiar for our liking.

Can't tell if it's the genuine article or a copycat, but it's unmistakable. The purple ski mask, the double-barreled shotgun.

"Sin-Eater...." we hiss as we whip out another web to change our course.

Two different men have taken the name Sin-Eater, and both of them have done much to hurt us, as well as several innocents. If someone has put on that mask to get our attention, then we'll make him regret it.

The masked man ducks around a corner, and we lash webbing to a stoplight to round the corner with speed.

*FWOOOSH!*

We're overcome by blinding pain and go tumbling to the ground, my other screaming in my mind as it tries to hold its form. Even with our senses reeling, we can tell what happened.....in our pursuit, we were led right into a trap, the Sin-Eater throwing a Molotov cocktail in our face.

"Nnnnngh......no....." we snarl, pulling ourselves into an alleyway as my other recovers from the pain of the fire. Crawling up the wall and away from the flames, we're unable to pursue the killer.

First Ann.....now the Sin-Eater.....apparently the dead are making a habit of haunting us.

As we pull ourselves up onto a rooftop, we're met by a flash of gleaming steel.

"Stay right where you are," says a woman in white, brandishing a samurai sword.

Her partner, a tall black woman with a robotic arm, levels a machine pistol at us.



"I'd take her advice," she says. "We don't appreciate cop-killin' freaks in this town."

"Ladies," we say, standing up to face them, "You want to walk away. We're having a bad night."

"Not going to happen," says the woman with a sword, charging at us.

"Suit yourselves," we say, baring our teeth for a fight.

Normally we don't approve of violence against women......but again, we're having a bad night.


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Old 05-31-2012, 07:35 PM   #59
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Without missing a beat, I pull another arrow out and let it fly directly towards his throat, and he would have never been able to raise his shield in time to block the shot at this close range if it weren't for his super-soldier reflexes, but it gives me an opening to press the attack.



"Sure, you've got your honest boyscout reputation, but I wouldn't put it passed you to try and bluff your way out of a bad situation to save the damsel in distress."
Rogers growled under his breath and charged Taskmaster. His shield hit the soft folds beneath the assassin's ribs and drove him to the ground. The two men fought and wrestled in the dirt until Cap's shield slammed against Taskmaster's chest, pinning him.

"Look at my face," he wheezed. Even in the dim light in the area, the welts and blisters forming on his cheeks were easy to see. "Not even I'm immune to it. Is this a bluff to you?"

Gunfire cracked behind them. Rogers turned and saw a small, shadowy figure darting between the standing soldiers and knocking them down. Although the attacker moved fast, Steve caught the glare of a metallic arm. "Bucky?"

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Old 05-31-2012, 08:47 PM   #60
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Rogers growled under his breath and charged Taskmaster. His shield hit the soft folds beneath the assassin's ribs and drove him to the ground. The two men fought and wrestled in the dirt until Cap's shield slammed against Taskmaster's chest, pinning him.

"Look at my face," he wheezed. Even in the dim light in the area, the welts and blisters forming on his cheeks were easy to see. "Not even I'm immune to it. Is this a bluff to you?"

Gunfire cracked behind them. Rogers turned and saw a small, shadowy figure darting between the standing soldiers and knocking them down. Although the attacker moved fast, Steve caught the glare of a metallic arm. "Bucky?"
With the Avenger distracted, I pull out another one of Spider-Man's moves from my repertoire and maneuver my legs up and around Captain America, and use them to pull him off of me. I've got the skills, but no matter how hard I train, Rogers'll always have the edge over me in strength and speed. I can't let myself forget that again. I--

Without warning, a wave of heat washes over me and my head explodes in pain. F-fever...? What the hell? Still lying in the dirt, I have to roll over and pull my mask above my nose as I puke up today's lunch. For some odd reason, I think that I might like to have a few words with my employers about some details that they might've forgotten to fill me in on before I started this assignment.

"Okay. I... I think you might be onto something, Rogers." More than a little queasy and nursing a headache that seems to be boiling my brain alive, but still feeling relatively strong, I begin to stagger back to my feet and look at the soldiers still conscious around us, none of whom seem to be faring any better than I am right now.



"Wait, what did you say? "Bucky"?"

Then I likewise catch sight of the dark figure weaving through the crowd of Spetsnaz. With arms feeling several pounds heavier and wobblier than they did mere minutes ago, I raise my sword again and prepare to resume the fight. "Is he on your side, Cap?"

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Old 05-31-2012, 09:05 PM   #61
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"Wait, what did you say? "Bucky"?"

Then I likewise catch sight of the dark figure weaving through the crowd of Spetsnaz. With arms feeling several pounds heavier and wobblier than they did mere minutes ago, I raise my sword again and prepare to resume the fight. "Is he on your side, Cap?"
"I have... no... idea," Steve said before coughing violently. Bucky took down a soldier with a punch from his metal hand and turned to Taskmaster, spinning through the air and kicking the weakened assassin in the face.

"Cap," the young man said with a nod. "Looks like you could use a hand or two."

"What are you doing here?"

"Under orders from Fury. Back-up in case you needed it."

Bucky turned to the sickly Taskmaster, who was recovering from the blow. "What's the story here?"

"He's leaving," Cap said, looking down at the assassin. "Aren't you?"

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Old 05-31-2012, 09:35 PM   #62
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"I have... no... idea," Steve said before coughing violently. Bucky took down a soldier with a punch from his metal hand and turned to Taskmaster, spinning through the air and kicking the weakened assassin in the face.

"Cap," the young man said with a nod. "Looks like you could use a hand or two."

"What are you doing here?"

"Under orders from Fury. Back-up in case you needed it."

Bucky turned to the sickly Taskmaster, who was recovering from the blow. "What's the story here?"

"He's leaving," Cap said, looking down at the assassin. "Aren't you?"


Even with a bad fever coming over me, I'm not crippled. I can still put up a fight... Or maybe not. I couldn't even block that kick that I saw coming from a mile away. Body's feeling more and more sluggish.

...

As much as I might like to wipe that smug smirk off "Bucky's" face, there's no profit in feeding an ego. "Yeah." Gathering myself, I get back to my feet again and can't help but give out a loud wet cough as I put my sword back into its sheath. "Yeah, I'm gonna take off. Got a bone to pick with a few Russian suits, I guess."

Turning my back on the two WWII vets, I start heading back to the Russian vehicle while hiding just how sick I'm really starting to feel. Before I even make it five feet, one of the Spetsnaz guys tries to get in my face, shouting in Russian about how we can't just turn tail and run. <"Eat s**t, comrade,"> I reply in Russian. <"You want to hack up your lungs and break out in hives, be my guest. Or you guys can come with me and give your bosses an earful. Either way, I'm taking your truck.">

The soldier gives a heavy sigh before relenting and begins to gather his wounded and sickly men. Opening the driver's side door and stepping into the military truck, I turn back to Rogers and give the old man a mock salute. "Seeya around, Cap. Maybe you'll even get lucky and I'll be sick once again. Who knows?"

With that, I start the truck as the feverish soldiers climb into the back and set course for the nearest hospital. I'm surrounded by ***holes.

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Old 05-31-2012, 11:15 PM   #63
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The soldier gives a heavy sigh before relenting and begins to gather his wounded and sickly men. Opening the driver's side door and stepping into the military truck, I turn back to Rogers and give the old man a mock salute. "Seeya around, Cap. Maybe you'll even get lucky and I'll be sick once again. Who knows?"

With that, I start the truck as the feverish soldiers climb into the back and set course for the nearest hospital. I'm surrounded by ***holes.
Cap and Bucky watched as Taskmaster's truck faded into the night.

"You need to get back out of range," Steve said, turning to his former sidekick. "You saw what happened to those men, what's happening to me. Go back to the shadows."

"What about your escort?"

"Just follow us and keep your eyes opened," Cap wheezed out. "I'm going to need the extra help."

Bucky nodded and started to go back to his perch.

"And Buck?"
He said. "What game is Fury really playing? You're not just my shadow, are you?"

"You know me, Steve. You know what I can do, what I'm capable of. Or, to be precise, what you're not capable of. You draw your own conclusions."

With that, Bucky melded back into the shadows. Steve sighed, his sigh turning into a cough. He turned back to the truck. The windshield of the truck was shattered and covered in blood. Kumail, their driver, was slumped behind the wheel, dead. His body was covered bullet holes. Shaking his head, Cap walked to the back of the truck and pulled the tarp back. Riya was crouched in a defensive position, looking up at him.

"C'mon," he said, stifling a cough. "We got a hike ahead of us."

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Old 06-01-2012, 11:14 AM   #64
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Heroes for Hire Offices
Midtown, Manhattan


"Told you, I don't wanna play," I told Danny, my feet propped up on my desk and a copy of the Bugle in my hands. Danny was behind his desk, leaning back in his chair.

"It's just hypothetical."

"Hypothetical, but with people we know."

"People do the same with movie stars."

"But we don't personally know movie stars. You want the sports section?"

"Sure."

I sat up and handed the section of the paper to Danny. "C'mon, just answer it. I promise I won't tell Jess."

"Fine, fine, fine." I said, sitting my paper down and looking at my friend. "I would... marry Sue Storm, bop She-Hulk, and kill Spider-Woman."

"Interesting," Danny said with a smirk. "Didn't you actually 'bop' She-Hulk back in the day?"

"Why do you gotta say it like that?"

"Like how?"

"You used those little air quote things when you said bop."

"Oh. 'Bop.' Yeah, you and She-Hulk used to 'bop', right?"

"Yeah, but that was a long time ago," I said with a shrug, going back to the paper. "So, what about you? Marry, bop, kill?"

"Well, I--"

"Call for you," Gladys' voice came in over the speaker on my desk. "Misty Knight."

"Speaking of bopping," I said with an arched eyebrow and a chuckle. "I got it, Gladys," I said into the speaker before picking up the phone. "Misty. What up--"

"Luke," she said breathlessly into the line. "Colleen and I are uptown and pinned down. We need some help. It's Venom."

"Damn. We're on our way."

I hung up the phone and stood, looking at Danny. "Misty and Colleen got a symbiote problem."

"What are we waiting on?"

"Quick, to the H4H-Mobile!"

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Old 06-01-2012, 12:14 PM   #65
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"Luke," she said breathlessly into the line. "Colleen and I are uptown and pinned down. We need some help. It's Venom."
"Damn. We're on our way."

I hung up the phone and stood, looking at Danny. "Misty and Colleen got a symbiote problem."

"What are we waiting on?"

"Quick, to the H4H-Mobile!"
The H4H-Mobile - really wish that name hadn't stuck - is actually just a white 2003 Cadillac Escalade. It's missing a rim and has some exterior rust. It has over one-hundred-eighty-thousand miles on it. Best of all, it gets a whopping eleven miles-per-gallon. "God, this thing is a piece of junk," I remark as we approach the vehicle.

"But it's an Escalade," Luke insists.

"Still a piece of junk," I say.

"But it's an Escalade."

Shaking my head, I reach for the door handle.

"Woah there, buddy. I'm driving."

I furrow my brow. "But I paid for it."

"And I picked it," Luke replies. "Besides, you just hurt her feelings with all that talk about 'junk.'"

I fold my arms.

"You want to get there in time to save Misty and Colleen?"

Five minutes later, we're squealing up Madison Avenue, and my fingernails are buried into the armrests. I look at Luke. "You are never driving again."

As soon as I say this, Luke turns the wheel sharply to avoid what must be our tenth almost-collision of the ride. He smirks and says, "I'm getting the hang of her now."

I've never been much for praying, but I find myself saying a silent prayer that we get to the Bronx in one piece. Whoever's up there must've heard me because, amazingly, we do survive Luke's driving. When we get there, it isn't hard to figure out where Misty and Colleen are. There's a police helicopter circling a nearby rooftop, and its spotlight is fixed on Venom.

"Bingo." Luke yanks hard on the emergency brake, and the Escalade spins 180-degrees, skittering into an open parking spot parallel to the curb. Once the vehicle comes to a complete stop, we both exhale. "That was awesome."

As I unbuckle my seatbelt, I say, "You and I have a very different idea of what 'awesome' means." I begin climbing the fire escape up the side of the building through a series of acrobatic leaps. I kick down the ladder so Luke can follow.

When I reach the rooftop, I'm behind Venom. I can see Misty and Colleen pinned down behind an air conditioning unit. Misty peeks around the corner to take a few potshots at Venom, but the symbiote blocks them with a shield of coiled tendrils.

I run up, my footsteps muffled, and deliver a hard dropkick to the back of Venom's head. The symbiote stumbles forward, allowing Misty and Colleen to come out of cover.

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Old 06-01-2012, 07:29 PM   #66
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Greenwich Park
London, England


"Aaaaand here we are in lovely Greenwich Park. We hope you've enjoyed your flight here on Avalon Airways, and remember: whether you're the king of all Britannia or Joe Normal from down Liverpool way, Avalon will get you to your final destination." Dane himself chuckled at that last bit, but when he looked back at Faiza as the pair dismounted, there was concern in her eyes. He braced himself for the guilt trip--her telling him that he didn't need to pretend, not with her; him responding with the best quip he could hear himself think over the Ebony Blade's constant, damnable murmur of foul obscenities--but instead:

"Your jokes are as terrible as your taste in sports, Whitman." Dane beamed at her with an insolent grin, but it faltered as he caught a flash of... pity? dread? in her eyes again. So, that was it, then. His class clown act wasn't putting Faz at ease anymore than himself; she'd just learned to play along, probably, she must've thought, for his sake. He'd taken a woman whose love was so pure it literally restored life to his heart and made her as cynical as he was.

No, not him; the Blade. The Blade forced him to be this way--forced both of them to be this way now. It always came back to the Blade. But the curse wasn't the scary part. No, he'd been dealing with that far too long to truly fear it anymore; it was more of an unpleasant houseguest who just didn't care that it had long overstayed its welcome. What scared him now was the realization that, underneath the loathing, he was developing a grim sort of admiration for the Blade. He could abstain from drawing blood with the sword from now until eternity, but the sheer effort of that resistance was driving a wedge between himself and the woman he loved. Even though he told himself he was in control now, the Blade still found its ways to control him. They were just subtler, more insidious now.

"Dane! Look out!"

Dane turned to see a man, tall but lanky, looming over him. The peculiar thing about this man wasn't his weight--Dane realized now that "lanky" was being generous, the man couldn't have had more than 9 stone on that 6-foot-some-odd frame--the peculiar thing wasn't even the ashy gray color of his skin or the hint of red that glowed behind his pupils against the dark night sky. No, the peculiar thing about this man was the way he seemed suspended in the air, just hanging there like some twisted scarecrow, the fanged smile creeping across his ashen face as his arm descended toward Dane. He's not jumping, Dane thought, he's floating.

Dane tried to bring the Ebony Blade up to meet the vampire, but it was still in its sheath, and his arms seemed to be moving so slowly compared to the vampire's. I'm not going to make it, he knew. So. This is how it ends. He felt his grip loosen around the Blade's hilt. All right, then. So be it.

Defend! a voice screamed in Dane's mind. Soft, pathetic human! Raise me and defend yourself! Rend flesh from bone and let me feast, even on such paltry offerings as this blood-beast's stolen sustenance!

No. It'll be better this way. I'll finally... Dane closed his eyes, waiting for the vampire's supernaturally powerful sinews to do what they would. Faiza will finally be free. Free to mourn and then move on. Free of us.

"NOOOooo--urk! GAAAAAAH!!" Heat washed over Dane, so intense that his eyes snapped open and his hand instinctively returned to the Blade's hilt. It took a moment for Dane to focus around the burning ash that clung to his face, its heat sending stinging pain that made his eyes water.

Faiza rushed to Dane's side. "Are you all right?"

"Nice reflexes, 'Knight.'" Blade turned the honorable title into an epithet, mocking Dane's inaction. He was standing over the still-smoldering remains of the vampire that had attacked Dane--that Dane was willingly going to sacrifice himself to. A smaller burnt mass lay a foot away from the rest and Dane caught the last glimmer of red wink out on it before the creature's eye turned to dust. "Standing around with suck-heads about is a great way to get yourself killed."

Shame you didn't, the Ebony Blade taunted. That creature would certainly have made better use of me than you, with all your chivalrous tittering and useless whimsy.

Dane shrugged, immediately burying any thoughts of his actions moments ago down in a pit alongside the Ebony Blade's taunts. "Killed? Me? No way, I'm still too damn pretty." Again he turned to Faiza with a grin, but this time there was no facade of mirth in return, just a look in her eye that told him she saw what really happened just now and he'd definitely be hearing about it later.

Blade grunted. "All right, Casanova, here's the situation: The fangs were running loose along Blackheath, suckin' on anything with a pulse before I stepped in--nice job takin' your time getting here, by the way--but I herded 'em into the park here. Wisdom's been piecing together their movements based on CCTV and emergency calls; figures there must be a nest somewhere in here. Place closes at nightfall, so we should be clear of civilians except maybe the odd bum here an' there. About as ideal as conditions get for hunting in a city this big. Our job is to find the nest and shut it down before any of the fangs can escape and start up a new one someplace we ain't got 'em dead to rights."

"A plan so simple even Wisdom could've come up with it."

"Yeah, well, Pete wasn't the one with his head so far in the clouds he nearly lost it a minute ago, Dane!" Faiza shot back. Dane fought back a grimace. It seemed like the only thing he knew how to do these days was hurt her.

"The doc's right. Eyes open from here on out, Whitman. Need that fancy blade of yours in action cuttin' these suckers down, not lyin' next to your drained corpse."

"Roger and wilco, sir, yes, sir!" Dane saluted.

Blade mumbled something under his breath as he started moving deeper into the park's brush, but Dane only caught "amateur" and "wiseguy." Faiza sucked her teeth in frustration and followed.

Dane sighed. "Sometimes I miss the Avengers. Captain America--now there's a guy with people skills."

"I'll talk to Wisdom when this is all over about gettin' your ass deported so you can go back to 'em. 'Til then, I'm running this hunt, so just shut up and follow my lead."

"Whatever you say, Captain Crankypants."

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Old 06-01-2012, 10:27 PM   #67
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"What do you want, Wade?" I grumble at Deadpool as the kids leave the room. Maybe it's the growing teacher part of me, but I don't appreciate when someone interrupts my class. Especially not the Merc with the Mouth. Wade's a good fighter. It's why he's on my X-Force team. But he's not a friend. And I don't want him making house calls.

"Oh, you are such the sweet talker," he responds sarcastically, flipping a practice bow staff off a stand and pointing it at me. "I'd hate to see what you're like in detention. Worse then Dolores Umbridge, I bet you are. Yea, I read Harry Potter. What about it?"

I sigh again, "Wilson. I don't have time for this. I have a school to run if you haven't been paying attention."

"Oh right," he chuckles. "Well, Mr. Logan, they have Warpath."

Turning swiftly, I look at Deadpool as he attempts to balance the staff on the palm of his hand. Warpath is a friend. And a good teammate, "Who has him?"

"Well I don't know who," Wade responds in an annoyed tone. "If I did, I would have said 'so-and-so' has Warpath instead of 'they have Warpath'. Except the name of the people who had Warpath would have filled in for 'so-and-so'."

"Yea, I worked out that out for myself, thanks," I grunt as the rage fills up inside me.

"I got a garbled transmission from him. Sounded like a fight, and then nothing."

My knuckles crack as I tighten my fists. Whoever took James is going to pay. No matter what.

"Get in touch with Psylocke and Wolfsbane. We're getting our teammate back."

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Old 06-02-2012, 05:15 AM   #68
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Little Rock, Arkansas

The Four stolen armored cars cruised along main street as fast as their heavy laden frames allowed. A number of police patrol cars form a loose square around the armored cars, sirens blaring. Behind them is an odd column of emergency vehicles made up of several other patrol cars, two swat vans, three ambulances and a firetruck.


It can hardly be called a high speed chase but it is a chase nonetheless. The officers in the squad cars, who have been at this for the better part of their morning, are frustrated and in some cases, angry. One exasperated officer, a young man who wears an expression of somber rage, leans out of the window of his vehicle and continuously fires away with side arm at the driver of the lead armored car. The driver of the car, an older man with a thick mustache and stripes on his shoulders, does nothing to reign the young officer in.


Inside the armored car the Wrecker smiles toothily. He's pretty sure he killed that cop's partner this morning. Serves him right if he did.


Several blocks away security guards at the Metropolitan National Bank help usher customers and staff to safety, behind them are a number of police officers manning a line made up of three squad cars.



The senior officer shouts hurried words of encouragement and the stolen armored cars come loping around the corner a few moments later with numerous police vehicles in pursuit in tow.


The men on the line nervously and tighten their grips on their weapons. Its been all over the radios. They know what's coming.


The armored cars lazily come to a halt, repeating a routine they have performing while robbing seven banks in the span of 4 hours.

Dozens of car doors open in unison and a precinct's worth of officers focus their attention on the armored cars as their doors, which have been pounded with bullets but remain intact, are also opened and four huge men in bold costumes step out onto the pavement.




The officers nearest them waste no time in opening fire.

The wrecking Crew mostly ignore the gunfire. Piledriver, being the exception. He taunts the officers and mocks at being hurt before bursting out in a full on fit of laughter with his hands on his knees and his sides shaking even as the bullets pinged off of him.

Thunderball follows Piledriver with his eyes then fires a look in the Wrecker's direction. The Wreckers acknowledges the look with a look of impatience. Thunderball thought Piledriver was having too much fun. For weeks he had been talking about how it was time to get serious. Frankly, The Wrecker didn't care. All he cared about was that the day was turning out to be a great one.

"Lookit these idiots."
The Wrecker says over his shoulder to Bulldozer "This is all they've got to through at us."

"Heheh. Yeah. You were right Wrecker. We shoulda come here ages ago."
Bulldozer replies before he lowers his head and sets off running at the barricade of police cars.

His feet leave deep imprints in the pavement with every step and The Wrecker laughs heartily as he watches him plough through the parked cars as if hey were nothing more than empty cardboard boxes. There were no capes in Arkansas. At least none that he knew of, and the national guard was at war somewhere. Hell even if the National Guard was here its not like they could do anything to stop them.

"Who's turn is it?"
Thunderball asks as he casually tosses his wrecking ball through several in the haphazard array of parked vehicles behind the foursome. He tugs at the chain and the massive ball comes roaring back, upturning vehicles and churning up asphalt.

"My turn!"
Piledriver declares excitedly. He's straightened up now and he cracks his knuckles them interlocks his fingers and turns his palms outwards till he hears them pop.

"Then get on with it. We've still got a few more banks to hit before we're through." The Wreckers directs as he takes several menacing steps towards a trio of officers with shotguns. The men bravely hold their ground long enough to let off of a few shouts before turning and racing for the relative safety of their vehicles.

Piledriver has already made his way to the door of the bank and he rips it off its hinges and leisurely makes his way inside. He would be back in a few minutes with as much money as he could carry and he would load it into his armored car. He would repeat the process until the bank's vault was empty while the rest of the Wrecking Crew guarded the four armored cars and the millions in hard currency they had already stolen.

The Wrecker grins and turns to Thunderball.

"Well?"

"I have to hand it to you Wrecker."
Thunderball concedes. "So far so good."

This Wrecker's chest seems to visibly puff out when he hears this. He stands a bit taller, his head held a bit higher. Thunderball hadn't just been complaining about Piledriver. He'd been moaning about how they hadn't made any real money in a long time. Sure he was right, but it wasn't Dirk's fault there were so many damn heroes always sticking their noses into their business.

That's what had given him the idea to come to Arkansas. He had asked around and as far as anybody knew, Arkansas had no superheroes. Word is there used to be one, but he turned out to be a skrull. A Skrull! It blew the Wreckers mind that they had that kinda craziness here but had not a cape who could give them trouble.

Regardless, Thunderball's words of praise had filled a sense of narcissistic self satisfaction. It is a feeling he relishes, but one that is doomed to be short lived.

"So what happens after we hit all the banks?"
Thunderball asks

"Whadya mean?"
The Wrecker replies tentatively. His self satisfaction having suddenly been replaced with something that approaches doubt without quite getting there.

Thunderball's face is serious "I mean how are we going to get all of this money out of town without bringing all these cops, probably some helicopters and god knows how many news vans with us? When you said you had a great idea I assumed it was a whole great idea and not just half of one."

"I...uh..."
The Wrecker stammers as he realizes that he doesn't actually have a plan for what happens next. Leaving a sour Thunderball to shake his head while an oblivious Bulldozer charges into a row of police cars and a gleeful Piledriver flings two large sacks of cash into the back of an armored car.




Later

Four pairs of feet slosh heavily through the storm drain tunnels underneath Little Rock as The Wrecking Crew trudge through the ankle high water with slumping shoulders.

Each of the men carries a large sack of cash over his shoulder. They carry no less than 4 million in cash between them. It is a fine haul, but a pittance compared to what they had in their position just an hour earlier.

"Come on ya mooks." The Wrecker says, trying to sound upbeat "A mill for each of us ain't bad at all."

He knows what the others are thinking and he's trying, rather unsuccessfully to change their minds.

As usual its Thunderball who speaks up first.

"Would have been 10 mill each if you'd actually had a plan for getting out of town with the money." He complains.

"I got us out of there." The Wrecker says emphatically, but he's already lost the argument and he knows it.

"By blowin' up a gas main and taking half of the town and our cash with it!" Piledriver says.

The Wrecker knew this was coming. They'd been grumpy, quiet for the last twenty minutes and he could feel their eyes boring into his back as he led them. He had had to speak up first and hope that Thunderball would not talk back. Now that he had Piledriver and Bulldozer would pile on as usual.

"And that mess we left behind may have gotten us out but they won't just let us go." Bulldozer says, as if on queue"They'll probably send the Avengers after us."

"Then let 'em."The Wrecker growls "The Avengers come at us and we'll make 'em sorry they did."

"Don't kid yourself Wrecker" Thunderball says "We've never been able to beat the Avengers and we've just put ourselves on the most wanted list for some chump change."

This is too much for the Wrecker who drops his sack of cash and turns in a flurry of anger, sparks seemingly shooting out of his eyes.

"Enough already! If one a'you has a problem bein' part of my crew all you have to do is say so."

He brandishes his crowbar "I got no problem takin' that Asgard power back right here an' now."

This effectively silences the Wrecking Crew who look downwards, afraid to meet his gaze lest he carry out his threat. They might not be thrilled with him as a leader but they have no choice to accept it in light of the fact that their powers flow from the enchantment in his crowbar and super villainy, even only mildly successful super villainy, was far preferable to manual labor or petty crime.

"That's right."The Wrecker says. He then grabs up his bag of cash and turns his back to the crew who dutifully continue following him down the damp and darkened tunnel.

But the Wrecker's mind is still working despite their acquiescence. Deep down he couldn't deny that the day that had started out so well had ended up as another disappointment. They probably would send a team of Avengers after them and like it or not, he and his Crew had rarely, if ever, been a match for a full team of Avengers. Something was going to have to change and the Wrecker was starting to get an idea.


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Old 06-02-2012, 06:59 AM   #69
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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."






Dawn

Moon Knight's disassembled carbonadium armor hangs, suspended by multiple metal prongs and hooks, near his cloak and hood which lie on the floor in a heap, and across that floor is a wall featuring row after row of blades, truncheons, bows, cable guns and various other weapons.

Steam drifts out of the show in another part of the building, several floors below the armory, as Marc lets the hot water pour over his shoulders. The daily cleansing has become part of his routine. A way to soothe sore muscles and wash away the grime and fatigue of the night's work.

He wishes he could stay in the shower forever, just forget the world and let the clean water wash over him, but grime and fatigue can be washed away, past sins cannot; and Marc, dutifully aware that there is work to be done, reluctantly forces himself to end his shower.

After shutting the tap and drying himself off, Marc leaves the luxurious penthouse bathroom behind and enters a spacious and plushly designed bedroom, with a towel wrapped around his waist.

"Samuels" He says out loud as he opens his wardrobe and goes about selecting his attire for the day.

"Yes Sir?" Samuels voice comes in over the speakers after a brief delay

"Get the car ready. I need to check something out."

"Of course Sir." Samuels replies. "Will you be taking breakfast before we depart?"

This illicit a smile from Marc. He hadn't realized it but he was actually quite hungry.

"Yeah why not." He says "We can spare a couple of minutes."



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Old 06-02-2012, 09:28 PM   #70
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Previously

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Cap and Bucky watched as Taskmaster's truck faded into the night.

"You need to get back out of range," Steve said, turning to his former sidekick. "You saw what happened to those men, what's happening to me. Go back to the shadows."

"What about your escort?"

"Just follow us and keep your eyes opened," Cap wheezed out. "I'm going to need the extra help."

Bucky nodded and started to go back to his perch.

"And Buck?"
He said. "What game is Fury really playing? You're not just my shadow, are you?"

"You know me, Steve. You know what I can do, what I'm capable of. Or, to be precise, what you're not capable of. You draw your own conclusions."

With that, Bucky melded back into the shadows. Steve sighed, his sigh turning into a cough. He turned back to the truck. The windshield of the truck was shattered and covered in blood. Kumail, their driver, was slumped behind the wheel, dead. His body was covered bullet holes. Shaking his head, Cap walked to the back of the truck and pulled the tarp back. Riya was crouched in a defensive position, looking up at him.

"C'mon," he said, stifling a cough. "We got a hike ahead of us."



Fort Dix, NJ
April 17th, 1942


"What the hell do we do next?" Senator Simon asked the three men in front of him. They were gathered in the office that had belonged to Abraham Erskine.

Six hours ago, a German agent had murdered Erskine during the middle of his experiment. Erskine had died in minutes, but his experiment had worked. One of the men in front of him was the experiment. The short and skinny Steven Rogers now stood in front of him, six foot two and muscle-bound.

"We have another facility," Brigadier General Marcus Shaw said. "A lab in New Mexico that's dealing with weapons. We can continue Erskine's research there. Take the prototype with us."

"I agree," Dr. James Crawford, Erskine's assistant, said. "Erskine's work was a success, but it was meant to be more than just one subject. We take the subject with us to New Mexico and see how Erskine succeeded."

"Excuse me," Rogers spoke up. "I didn't sign up to go to some lab in the desert."

"That's right," Shaw said with a nod. "And we didn't want just one of you. Until we get that army Erskine promised us, we will draw blood and whatever the hell kind of samples we want."

"But--"

"But nothing," Shaw snapped. "You think just because you can run fast and jump high, you're qualified to lead men into battle? You're not. All you are, Rogers, is a science experiment. A lab rat that got lucky. You're a freak. Your only purpose is for us to pull that serum out of your blood and replicate it."

Steve scowled at the general, his hands balling into fists.

"Is that clear, Private?"

"Yes, sir," Rogers said with a curt nod.

"Change of plans," a voice said from the door. A man in full Army dress, two stars on his shoulders. "Gentlemen. Major General Chester Phillips, formerly of the 1st Infantry."

Phillips held out a piece of paper for Shaw. Shaw took the paper and looked it over.

"What's this?"

"Orders," Phillips said. "From the president himself. The research into Erskine's formula continues, but Private Rogers is coming with me."

"But--," Shaw started.

"But nothing," Phillips replied. "Orders are orders. Private, we're moving out."

"Yes, sir," Steve said. Phillips turned and started to walk out the office with Rogers behind him. "Sir, where are we going?"

"Washington," Phillips said as they left the office and headed down the halls of the building. "General Marshall and a Mister Donovan are highly interested in putting you to work."

"What kind of work?"

"Fighting, helping out our boys in the Pacific and in Europe. But not before some training. That one-star back there may have his head up his ass, but he was right. Your physical abilities don't qualify you to lead. Not yet."

The two men stepped out of the building and down the steps to where a jeep was waiting. "Thank you for this, General Phillips."

"Don't thank me," Phillips said as he and Rogers climbed into the jeep. "Thank Adolf Hitler for starting this godforsaken war. Thank him personally right before you put a bullet between his eyes."

Phillips started the jeep up and took off down the road of the base.


*****


Pakistan
0534 Local Time



James "Bucky" Barnes, the former Captain America and currently the Winter Soldier, was crouched by a cliff on the rocky Pakistani countryside. He watched from a distance as Captain America climbed the hills towards his location.

"I can't believe you blew your cover," Nick Fury's voice growled into his ear. "I thought you were disciplined, Barnes."

"I am. I saw Cap in trouble, outnumbered, and sick. I helped."

"And let Rogers know you were in the country, shadowing him. I thought you Soviet assassins had more subtlety."

"Maybe I wanted to be caught."

"Wouldn't put it past you. Your old sidekick impulse kicking in."

"Have you heard anything back from your doctors?"

"By their best guess, Cap's smallpox will clear up once he gets free of the woman's plague field. His super immunity was kill it in a few hours."

"Right. I have to go, Snowman out."

Bucky cut the line just as Captain America pulled himself up from the cliff face. He struggled and finally managed to flop down on the ground in front of Bucky.

"It's getting worse," Bucky said as he helped Steve to his feet. The blisters on his face were now festered and infected.

"I know," Cap said, coughing violently into his hand. When he pulled his hand away, blood spattered his glove "I... I left Riya in a gully I found. Can you see her?"

"Barely," Bucky said, scanning the area below them. "She's hidden well. What's the plan?"

"We're maybe twenty kilometers from Peshawar," Steve said, walking over to a rock and sitting down on it. "If we hurry, we can reach that safehouse before the sun gets too far into the sky. Are you still in contact with Fury?"

"Yeah."

"Let me see your comm. Mine fell out during the fight with Taskmaster."

Bucky pulled the radio from his ear and tossed it towards Cap. Steve activated the speaker on it and went on-line. "Fury?"

"I'm here," Fury's voice echoed out of the speaker.
"When exactly did you plan on telling me about your little back-up plan?"

"If you and Barnes actually managed to do the job right, which you didn't, you would have never known Bucky was there."

"And he was what, insurance?"

"Yes. The woman is dangerous. Anyone who comes in contact with her, you included, are dropping like flies. That's a weapon we don't want in anyone's hands."

"She's not 'the woman.' She has a name. It's Riya, and she's barely out of her teens."

"And you're becoming attached to her, losing your perspective. She's a person, but she's also a dangerous weapon. The terrorists and countries after her are going to use her to further their own agendas."

"And what's SHIELD's solution? Lock her in a containment cell? Study her like a guinea pig?"

"That's the world we live in, Cap. It's either that, or be used as a weapon. Just bring her in."

"Right," Steve said, his anger smoldering on the surface. "Cap out."

Captain America flicked off the speaker and tossed the comm back to Bucky.

"We moving out?"

"Maybe," Rogers said after a moment's pause. "I have an idea. I need to make a few calls first. How well can you speak Urdu?"

"Passable. The Soviets sent me here in the 80's during their war with Afghanistan.'

"Right," Cap said, standing up and stretching. He had only been with Bucky for about ten minutes, but already the welts on his face were starting to fade and heal. "Well, get on your comm and switch to an open frequency."

"What am I saying?"

"You're broadcasting our exact location out for everyone to hear. I want them all coming to our twenty. For this next part, I'm going to need all eyes on me."

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Old 06-02-2012, 10:40 PM   #71
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The Vulture hovers before me, powered by the jet pack on the back of his bodysuit. The six-foot-long blades which make up his wings dangle in the air behind him, like needles hanging on an invisible thread. As a man of science and a part-time inventor, I have to admit that I'm both intrigued and impressed. It appears that Toomes has created some kind of localized magnetic field, and his arms are the conduits. Credit where credit is due: Toomes never stops upgrading his Vulture apparatus, and this newest suit may be its most advanced iteration yet.

But a car's still only as good as its driver.

"I've worked on this bodysuit for months," Vulture announces, "dreaming of the day I would kill you with it!"

I put a hand on my heart. "Aww! You do think about me when we're apart."

Vulture points a threatening finger. "Laugh while you can, Spider-Man!" He practically spits my name. "Your legendary 'wit' ends with your death!"

"You really think it's 'legendary?' You are just full of compliments today!"

Deigning to give me a response, Vulture merely thrusts his right arm in my direction. Spider-Sense starts buzzing like crazy. My whole body tenses up in anticipation. The nine blades which make up Vulture's right wing come flying at me. I leap in the air, twisting to avoid getting sliced to ribbons by the six-foot-long daggers. Somehow, I barely manage to dodge them all. The blades skewer a toolbox behind me.

"Well, look at that," I remark, hands on my hips. "An old dog can learn new tricks! Even at your... advanced age."

"Enough!" Vulture shouts. With an outstretched hand, he summons the blades back to his arm. This time, I simply duck underneath them. "I'll tolerate your incessant babbling no longer!" He launches himself at me faster than I can react. And I can react pretty fast. Grabbing me roughly by the collar, Vulture zooms upwards through the skylight on the roof of the auto garage.

Planting my heels against Vulture's chest, I break free of his grip with a backflip. Unfortunately, there aren't any skyscrapers around, which means that there's only one place for me to anchor a webline.



The web catches Vulture on the calf and goes taut. Looking down, he sneers at me and flicks his wrist. One of the blades from the corresponding wing flashes out and slices through my webline. As I enter free-fall, Vulture loops back around and starts flying directly at me. He kicks on the jets and begins closing the gap. All eighteen of his "feathers" point directly at me, ready to turn me into a Spidey-kebab. I try snagging another webline on Vulture's chest, but he simply cuts the line with one of the blades.

We're getting close to building-level now, but Vulture's also gaining on me. I have to make my move fast. I feint to my left, throwing out my hand, and Vulture bites. As he banks in that direction, I fire a webline with my right. It catches on the corner of a high-rise, and I pull hard when the line goes taut. I hear Vulture circling back behind me. My momentum swings me around a corner, but Vulture doesn't follow. I crash into the side of the building with more speed than I realized, but at least I'm not falling anymore.

"The skies are mine!"

I look up to see Vulture above me. He must've pulled up to avoid a collision. He swoops down towards me, but I have solid footing now. Adjusting the nozzle on my webshooter with a finger, I spray Vulture in the face. At the last possible second, I leapfrog over his head, narrowly avoiding one of his blades. Vulture hovers beside the building, tearing at the webbing with his fingers.

"Is this really how you want to spend your old age?" I ask. "Wouldn't you be happier watching TV adaptations of Agatha Christie novels and bickering with grocery clerks over the sale price of cantaloupe?"

Vulture manages to clear his eyes, and he turns them on me with hatred. "There will be no happiness for me until I see you dead, wallcrawler!" He begins launching the blades from his wing one-by-one, causing me to begin performing acrobatics on the side of the building. Each misses me by a hair and buries itself in the brick. Vulture tries to recall them, but they're wedged too deep. I see the panic in his eyes.

"Having trouble?" I ask with a grin. I throw myself at the now one-winged Vulture. He raises the remaining nine blades as a wall to protect himself, so I somersault over. I wrap my legs around Vulture's waist from behind and try to pry at the control panel to his jet pack. It's sealed tight.

Vulture bashes me with the flat side of his blades in an attempt at self-defense. "Get off me, you meddlesome pest!"

I wave a dismissive hand. "Yeah, yeah, in a minute," I reply. Blocking the bashing blades with one hand, I rub my chin with the other. "I just want to take a look at this first." There's no visible seam. Guess I have to do this the ol' fashioned way. "Ah! I think I've found the problem."

Putting my fist through the metal plate, I take a great big handful of wires and yank it out. Vulture's remaining "feathers" fall like a marionette whose strings have been cut. The jet pack gives a spark and a sputter before dying completely. "What have you done?!"

I hold out the broken wires. "I broke it. What did you think?" We begin to lose altitude rapidly, but I fire a webline to stop our fall. "Well, this has been fun." I keep letting out webbing until we touch solid ground. Once we do, I keep Vulture pinned with one foot as I web his arms and legs to the sidewalk. "Well, except for the part where you were trying to kill me and all."

* * *

The next day at school, everyone - students and faculty alike - is talking about the Vulture. I mostly smile and agree how shocking it was that the janitor was a supervillain. For my money, I've talked about Adrian Toomes enough in my lifetime. Hopefully they can actually put him away for good this time. It still bothers me that he was here, of all places, so close to Flash... to Aunt May.

In the faculty lunchroom, the air is positively buzzing with talk about "Nathan Lubensky." That is, until Principal Michele Gonzales walks in. Suddenly, the place goes quieter than a funeral home. For her part, Principal Gonzales appears unaffected. I don't know how I'd take it if I accidentally hired a supervillain, but I'd say she's handling it pretty well.

I jump into line behind her, wanting to apologize for my tardiness yesterday. But in light of everything that happened, I can't quite find the words. Unfortunately, I'm put on the spot because she turns and glances at me. Smiling sheepishly, I blurt out, "Guess this makes my being late seem pretty insignificant in comparison."

Now, I can't be sure - because I don't know the woman that well yet - but I swear that Principal Gonzales cracks a smirk.

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Old 06-03-2012, 02:01 AM   #72
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DOCTOR DOOM

PROLOGUE
Castle Doom
Doomstadt, Latveria


The dim laboratory was suddenly illuminated by the large, glowing rectangle that had suddenly appeared on the ceiling. The bright slab of light slowly lowered itself onto the similarly shaped mechanical platform below, stretching its form into a giant prism as it extended towards the base of the machine. I can feel myself materialize within the prism of light. My body, my armor, my mind—all pieced together in nanoseconds.

The prism sinks into the platform below as Doctor Takacz deactivates the time platform, revealing my battered figure. My cloak is tattered and burnt. My armor is riddled with dents, scratches, and grime. My chest plate--along with my right gauntlet—have been rendered useless. The circuitry is exposed, smashed, and melted into a gruesome mess of silicon and broken wires. Boris watches me with great concern, desperate to hear the results of my quest. Despite the physical and ethereal pain coursing throughout my being, I keep my stance poised and dignified. Pain is nothing to Doom.

“Were you…were you successful, Master?” Boris asks hesitantly. He was making an effort to hide the fear in his voice but the dread in his eyes and cold droplet of sweat sliding down his temple betrayed him. He was terrified. And rightfully so. He understood what the costs of my failure would be. Something I think the comparatively stoic Takacz has yet to grasp.

I attempt my first step off of the platform. Already, I sense something is awry. The simple task of lifting my leg becomes a great burden as the weight of my armor suddenly becomes unbearable. My boot crashes onto the stone laboratory floor and the pain increases tenfold. It takes me by surprise.
I suddenly crumple to the ground, resting on one knee. Boris rushes to my side.

“Herr Doktor?! Are you alright?! Are you hurt?!” he says, kneeling beside me and attempting to keep me from toppling over. I shove the old man aside and force myself to my feet. The pain does not subside, only intensifies. But this time, it is expected. And this time, it is overcome.

Pain is nothing to Doom.

“The results of my mission were…less than satisfactory,” I reply, tossing the shredded remains of my cape over my shoulder.

“Does that mean—”

“—Yes. But fear not, Boris. The many tasks that lie ahead would be impossible to lesser men. But Doom shall prevail. Doctor Takacz, prepare a squad of Hunter units for a transatlantic journey.”

“Right away, my Lord.”

“Boris, I will be in the library. I am not to be disturbed,” I say as I take my leave.

Time is of the essence.

The end of days draws near.

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Old 06-03-2012, 09:20 AM   #73
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TRACK 3

The Peak, above Earth

“Your boss rolled over easier than I expected.” Gyrich and John the Skrull were standing in the elevator, about to go up to SWORD’s command bridge.
“You trying to tell me something, mate?” John looked over to Gyrich, who shrugged.
“I just find it curious that he didn’t ask for a lot. Just some info on Rigellian activity in France.”
“Guess you got a bargain, huh?”
Gyrich just glanced over to John, who simply smiled.

Just then, the elevator beeped and the doors opened. The two looked out onto a massive room, with dozens of agents working on numerous control panels. They all wore SWORD uniforms, but not one of them looked like the other. Including Sydren, the dragon-like alien that approached the two immediately. He stuck out a hand for John to shake, introduced himself quickly and then turned to Gyrich.

“I’ve got an update on the Badoon situation, sir. If you’ll follow me?”
Gyrich nodded, saying to John: “Stay here.”
John agreed, taking a step forward to avoid an agent in a hurry. He surveyed the bridge, a real hub of activity. There were radars, live video feeds and most wanted posters. John was standing with his hands behind his back, some of the agents occasionally looking his way. He gave each of them a smile and hummed a tune.

One of the agents couldn’t take her eyes off him. She was sitting next to Gyrich and Sydren, as they were conversing by her control panel. Sydren was showing his superior a variety of data on it. “Anna, go to him already,” he remarked, shaking his head. Anna, a Centaurian with blue skin and a long red fin running along her back and head, didn’t need to hear that twice.
“Mr. Lennon… sir?”
“Just John, lass.”
“Would you mind signing my record?” she said as she produced an LP from the folds of her dress. The cover to A Hard Day’s Night had three signatures already.
Gyrich, who had returned, groaned. “Anna, this is not the real John Lennon.”
“I know, I’ve got all the Skrull Beatles’ autographs.” She turned to John. “Are you ever going to reunite?”
John smiled as he looked to Gyrich, holding his hand out for a pen. Gyrich grudgingly handed one over.
“I’m not sure, luv. I haven’t spoken to Skrull Paul in a while. I know Ringo’s up for it.”
“You’ve actually played together?” Gyrich asked with a sneer.
“Just the Starstop and a few dive bars in the Andromeda galaxy. Mars has its own Cavern Club.” He smiled again. “It’s in a cavern.”
Gyrich rolled his eyes. “Great. Anna, would you show Mr. Beatle to his room?”
“Sure!”

The walk over to his room was only a few minutes, but on the way John the Skrull was bombarded with a series of questions that could’ve filled a seminar. Most of them he didn’t even need to answer, as Anna just as quickly moved on to the next one.

“Your room is just around the corner,” she said breathlessly in between.
“Is it the one with the dragon in front of it?”
Anna looked up in surprise. It was.
“Oh, that’s agent Lockheed.”
“Lockheed?” John approached the small purple dragon with care. In response, it snorted and flew away.
“Don’t mind him,” Anna assured John, “he’s a nice guy, really.” She pushed a button on the control panel next to the door, which automatically slid open.
“I’m sure.”
Anna smiled again. “Well, this is you. I got to get back to my post before Gyrich fires me. Literally. Thanks again for the autograph!”

Just like that, she ran off back to the bridge and John was free to enter his room. It wasn’t very spacious, with just a single bed, a cabinet and a small bathroom. But it had a spectacular view. Standing in front of the window showing the beautiful tapestry space outside, John sighed. From his coat pocket, he fished a small transmitting device.

“This is the Walrus calling for Sergeant Pepper. Come in, Sergeant Pepper.”
After a short pause, Pete Wisdom’s voice came crackling over the device. “I’m reading you loud and clear, Walrus. Start your report.”

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Old 06-04-2012, 03:02 PM   #74
Andy C.
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We weren't looking for a fight with superheroes any time soon. And we guess we didn't get one tonight.

The two girls are 'superheroes' in the loosest sense, in that they're vigilantes in costumes. But apart from the one's robotic arm, that's as 'super' as they get.

The samurai woman was a whirl of flashing steel, until her sword struck my other to no real effect. We were worried it would be some kind of magic or poison or adamantium, but apparently it's just a regular sword. A wide slap with a symbiotic tendril sent her tumbling for cover.

The black woman with the robot arm had tried to hurt us with a cybernetic punch, but we barely even felt it. We've taken punches from the Hulk before; this is hardly even worth registering. We picked her up and tossed her across the rooftop, and since then, she's been taking potshots at us with a pistol from behind cover.

The two of them ran into this without really knowing what they were up against, and now they're hopelessly outmatched. Right now, the only real difficulty we're having is deciding whether to just ignore them and leave, or stick around to make an example of them, so other 'heroes' don't come after us.......

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Originally Posted by Eddie Brock View Post
When I reach the rooftop, I'm behind Venom. I can see Misty and Colleen pinned down behind an air conditioning unit. Misty peeks around the corner to take a few potshots at Venom, but the symbiote blocks them with a shield of coiled tendrils.

I run up, my footsteps muffled, and deliver a hard dropkick to the back of Venom's head. The symbiote stumbles forward, allowing Misty and Colleen to come out of cover.

"RRRRAAAAAAAAAAUUUUGGGHHH!" we roar, spinning to face our new attacker with a maw full of slavering fangs. We see a man in green and yellow, sinking into a fighting stance.

If we're not mistaken, the man is Iron Fist-- we've never really encountered him before, but he's got a decent reputation. Some kind of martial artist, if we remember right. Unless he's got something up his sleeves other than fancy moves, he's just as outclassed as his lady friends.

"This isn't a fight you want, pal," we say, my other slinging a web towards him. He tries to tumble out of the way, but he's no Spider-Man. Especially without the spider-sense to--

*WHAM!*

Speaking of not having a spider-sense, we're blindsided without warning by a hard impact, sent sprawling across the rooftop. While the impact knocks us off our feet, we're fast to recover, and see a muscle-bound black man.

If the martial arts guy is Iron Fist, then that makes the other one Power Man. A super-strong fighter, from what we've heard. We'll have to see just how tough he is.

"The four of you against the two of us," we hiss, our eyes darting back and forth as the heroes circle us. "Hardly a fair fight, is it? We guess we can wait for you to call in a few more friends."

My other tightens itself, its mass increasing in density to toughen our skin. Both of them were able to knock us off-balance with sucker punches; that won't happen again. Our claws grow longer, as do our fangs, as we prepare to attack.

We didn't want a fight tonight. But someone out there lured us out of hiding, and these four are in our way of finding out who it was. So we'll make sure to get them out of our way, and put a little fear into the rest of the super-types in this city, in case they get the bright idea to get involved, too.

"So," we say, our bared teeth pulled up into a slime-dripping grin, "Who wants to get themselves killed first?"

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Old 06-05-2012, 10:36 AM   #75
Byrd Man
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Default Re: The "Nuff Said" Marvel Universe RPG

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy C. View Post
"The four of you against the two of us," we hiss, our eyes darting back and forth as the heroes circle us. "Hardly a fair fight, is it? We guess we can wait for you to call in a few more friends."

My other tightens itself, its mass increasing in density to toughen our skin. Both of them were able to knock us off-balance with sucker punches; that won't happen again. Our claws grow longer, as do our fangs, as we prepare to attack.

We didn't want a fight tonight. But someone out there lured us out of hiding, and these four are in our way of finding out who it was. So we'll make sure to get them out of our way, and put a little fear into the rest of the super-types in this city, in case they get the bright idea to get involved, too.

"So," we say, our bared teeth pulled up into a slime-dripping grin, "Who wants to get themselves killed first?"
"Well, I would say ladies first..."

"It'd be rude to not let our guests go first,"
Misty said. "We did invite you after all."

"I have an idea..."

On instinct, Danny, Colleen, and Misty all put their index fingers on their noses.

"Not it."

"Not it."

"Not it."

"Damn," I said, kicking at the ground. I turned to Venom and nodded. "Alright," I said, my knuckles clinking as I knocked them together. "Let's do it!"

I rushed towards Venom, my fist rared back and ready to strike. The symbiote easily dodged my first blow and struck me in the shoulder with his claws. The claws scrape my skin, but don't break it. Even though he doesn't draw blood, it still hurts like a mother****er. I grunted in pain and fell to my knees as Venom stood behind me, preparing to come down on my with his claws.

"That hurt, ***hole,"I growled, throwing my leg backwards and kicking Venom off his feet. The symbiote flew across the gap between rooftops and crashed into the gravel-covered roof of the next building.

"Anytime one of y'all wanna jump in, be my guest," I said to the others, holding my shoulder.

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