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Old 12-25-2012, 12:30 AM   #251
Byrd Man
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Default Re: Ultimate One Universe RPG: IC Thread

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I land after the aerial strike, and toll, stopping my momentum. As I look up, the environment around us begins to wave, before disappearing completely, revealing the inside of Charles's "Danger Room".

Looking up to the control room above, I shout to Xavier, "I think that went pretty well, no?"
"Not bad," Charles said into the microphone.

"Not bad?"
Kitty, who was to his right, asked with an arched eyebrow. "Dude, uhh, I mean sir, did you just see what I saw? They kicked butt."

"I agree with Kitty," Illyana said from behind the two of them.

"Yes, they did kick butt," Charles said with a small smirk. "But, they also got lucky. Their scores are still below what my...," he trailed off, his thoughts turning to the other students. "They're still lower than they should be."

Charles typed up another scenario into the Danger Room's computer and turned the microphone back on.

"For this one, I want Logan to remain out of combat. He will command, and everyone will follow his every order, but he is not allowed to directly take part in the scenario."

The scene below shifted to dark corridor inside a military facility. Somewhere, a kalxon blared out an intruder alert.

"Begin."


*****


Krakoa Island
South Pacific


Jean Grey's eyes snapped open, bright white light blinded her sight. She couldn't see, but she could feel the metal restraints biting into her wrists and ankles. She could also feel the cold of the metal table underneath her t-shirt.

"Good morning, Miss Grey," a voice said to her right. "Sorry if you feel a bit sluggish and lethargic, but that's a side effect of the serum."

Jean blinked slowly, comprehending what the voice was saying. She wasn't sure what he was talking about, or what was going on. Last thing she remembered was working on homework with Scott...

"Oh, God," she said, the events after that coming back to her. The soldiers, them taking everyone else down one by one. She was the last to fall. After that... there was nothing. No memory, just here on the table with what felt like a head full of concrete.

"Curious choice of words," the voice said. "Funny that an abomination like yourself would say His name right, in a moment of need. Tell me, Miss Grey, what am I thinking?"

Jean tried to reach out and touch the mind that accompanied the voice. But there was nothing. She couldn't feel anything in the room or anywhere outside of where they were. No voices, no thoughts. Nothing.

"That's what I thought," the voice said with a soft chuckle. "Nothing. There's nothing because your unnatural abilities are gone."

Jean shook her head, trying to focus both her telepathy and telekinesis to work. Her brain felt muddied and sluggish as she commanded it to work like it had before. But it couldn't. There was nothing there.

"You see, Miss Grey, they're gone because we have leveled the playing field with just one little dose. No more mind reading, no more psychic ability. You're the one thing your kind hates the most."

The light was pulled away and Jean squinted as she adjusted to the new dim light. As her eyes came into focus, she saw a gray-haired man in a navy uniform standing above her.

"You're normal."

"No," she said emphatically, trying to shake the cobwebs from her head.
The man disappeared from her sight. Even though she couldn't see him, Jean could feel him as he walked in a circle around the table.

"At the last supper, Jesus told the apostle Peter that before the night was over, before the cock crowed in the morning, Peter would disown him three times. Peter didn't believe it, there was no way he would disown a man he loved so much, a man so pure and righteous. Later that night, when Jesus was arrested, a woman pointed Peter out of a crowd and said he was one of Jesus' followers. For fear of his life, he said he did not know Jesus. The same woman asked again, and again he denied. Later that night, he was questioned by a pack of people looking for Jesus' disciples, and again he denied it. That was when the cock crowed, announcing the morning's arrival. Peter remembered Jesus' words, and he broke down into tears."

The navy man appeared back into Jean's sight. He stood at the top of her head and looked down at her.

"Moral of the story: Even the most dedicated falter. If a man like Peter, a saint, can disavow a man like Jesus, what hope do the rest of us have? More to the point, what hope do you have? You see, Miss Grey, you worship a false messiah. The man called Charles Xavier is not what you think he is. He is a horrible, selfish, person. Al liar who would manipulate mere children and send them out to die for him."

"Shut up," she said through gritted teeth. "Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!"

"Make me shut up," he said with a smirk. "Come on, I'm waiting..."

The man pulled a hypodermic needle from his jacket and began to put it to Jean's neck. She tried to trash and avoid the needle from touching her skin. He plunged it into her vein and shot her up with whatever was inside the syringe into her.

"There we go. An extra dose, just in case."

Jean felt her mind began to get fuzzier, more slow and prodding. She had trouble focusing on what was going on.

"Now, as I was saying. This man you worship is not worth your praise, and I will show you that. I will make you disown and disavow your 'savior,' I convert you and show you the glory of God. And after that, I will have you kill each and everyone of your friends before you help me purge the planet of all mutants."

"You...," Jean started in a slurring voice. "You can't make me."

"Oh, I no, that's what Dr. Essex is for. Doctor?"

Somewhere far away, Jean heard a speaker pop on.

"Ahhhhh!"
The voice screamed through the speaker. She knew that scream, knew that voice and its owner.

"Scott..."

"Yes," the man said. "It would seem the good doctor has taken quite a fancy in him."

"When I get out of here," Jean said slowly, her eyelids sagging. "I'm going to kill you..."

"Good luck with that. Now, Miss Grey, time for us to go digging into the professor's closest. Let's see if you'll like the skeletons he has in there..."

__________________
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-- Thomas Paine


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Old 12-26-2012, 09:53 PM   #252
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Default Re: Ultimate One Universe RPG: IC Thread

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[/FONT][/COLOR]"If either one of you wish to say goodbye," Charles said to the Russian siblings, "Now is the time. It may be quite sometime before you see Odessa or Mister Wisdom again."
"Thank you, Peter", Illyana smiled as she wrapped Wisdom in a hug.
"You've helped us both so much."

"It's been my pleasure, my dear", Peter replied as he returned the embrace.

"Piotr", Peter spoke as he shook Colossus' hand.

"Thank you, Peter, for everything."


"Was nothin'. Just happy to help."

"Take care, the both of you"
, Wisdom said as the four departed.


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Originally Posted by Byrd Man View Post
"Not bad," Charles said into the microphone.

"Not bad?"
Kitty, who was to his right, asked with an arched eyebrow. "Dude, uhh, I mean sir, did you just see what I saw? They kicked butt."

"I agree with Kitty," Illyana said from behind the two of them.

"Yes, they did kick butt," Charles said with a small smirk. "But, they also got lucky. Their scores are still below what my...," he trailed off, his thoughts turning to the other students. "They're still lower than they should be."

Charles typed up another scenario into the Danger Room's computer and turned the microphone back on.

"For this one, I want Logan to remain out of combat. He will command, and everyone will follow his every order, but he is not allowed to directly take part in the scenario."

The scene below shifted to dark corridor inside a military facility. Somewhere, a kalxon blared out an intruder alert.

"Begin."
Piotr heard the faint clanking sound of something bouncing on the metal floor over the din of the alarm. Spinning his head around to see what it was, Colossus' eyes went wide as the grenade bounced into their midst.

Without thinking, Piotr dove onto the device as it exploded. The force of the blast blew him back a bit, but his metal skin had not only protected him from the blast, but his teammates as well.

Teammates...it was a concept Piotr was still getting used to after having it pretty much be just he and Illyana through the past years.

"Are you hurt?"

"Nyet...no", Colossus answer the concerned Fire, "it will take more than a little toy to damage my skin."

"You may get your wish", Animal Man stated as a group of soldiers decked out in high-tech body armor appear down the corridor with a massive cannon, aiming it the mutant's way.

"Uh, Logan?"

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Old 12-27-2012, 02:51 AM   #253
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20 Miles off the Cuban Coast
April 17th, 1961



The three transport ships cut through the ocean at a steady six knots. The waves lapped against the rusty hull. I sat at the front of the ship, looking up at the star dotted sky and crescent moon glowing.

"Hola, jefe," a voice said behind me in Spanish. I turned and saw Raul, lighting up a cigarette. "Mind if I smoke?"

"Only if you blow it away from me. Nearly twelve years since I stopped, I don't need any temptations."

Raul took a drag off his smoke and sat down beside me. We sat in quiet for several minutes while he puffed and blew smoke.

"I want to thank you," he finally said. "You and your CIA friends for all their support. What we are doing here is a good thing. We are taking our country back from that comunista cabrón Castro. For that, the men and I got together and decided to give you a gift."

Raul reached into his waistband and pulled out a pistol. The metal glinted against the moonlight, illuminating the gun. "An original Colt 1911."

He handed me the gun and I held the weight in my hand. Made in 1911. Nine years before I was born.

"This is thoughtful, but I can't--"

"Take it," he said, holding his hands out. "Take it and keep it. You never know when you made need it."

"Says the man preparing to invade a country..."

"After your bombers crush Castro's tanks and planes, they won't be able to stop us. Soon as Fidel's pendejo lapdogs see us on the beach, they'll drop their weapons and run as fast as they ****ing can."

I nodded silently, glad that Raul couldn't see my face. A CIA cable came in a half hour ago with the bad news. Feeling heat from the UN and the Soviets, the President ordered the bombing on the island to be severely cut. From a major bombardment down to just one measly pass over the island. I don't want Raul to know. The type of confidence he has right now, it'd be dangerous to deflate it.

"I have to go," he said, flicking his cigarette butt over the side of the ship. "Final prep is in forty-five minutes. After that, we'll be ready to land."

Raul stood, his hand out for me. I took it and shook, avoiding his eyes even in the dark. "Senor Rogers, thank you. When this is over, I want to show you my thanks properly. You and your wife can come to Havana to vacation, all at my expense."

"Thank you... I'm sure Gail would love that."

Raul patted me on the back and walked away, heading down into the ship's hold. Six hours later, I would watch from the boat as the Cubans waded out of the waters of the Bay of Pigs. Then, I'd watch as Castro's troops and tanks tore them to shreds. I nearly jumped off the side of the boat and swam the three miles to shore to help fight. Direct orders to stand down from the CIA Director and the Secretary of Defense managed to back me down.

I never saw Raul again. His name never appeared on the killed in action list the Cuban government put out. His name never popped up in the intelligence briefings the CIA smuggled out of Cuba. No official record of him in Cuba, all knowledge of him disavowed by the US government. It was like he never existed. Except for the Colt. I have it framed and mounted on a wall in my cabin. With the gun is a note: Raul Fernandez, April 17th, 1961. My government wanted to forget he ever existed, but I never did.



*****



SHIELD Multicarrier USS Charleston
800 Feet Below the Surface of the Persian Gulf
Now



"Iran is trying to develop supersoldiers," Nick Fury said in his usual direct tone. He stood at the front of the nearly empty briefing room. His right hand woman, Bordeaux, sat off to the side watching silently. "And they're getting pretty damn close."

Fury slid a tablet across the table to me. I picked it up and looked down at the screen. Grainy and black and white photos of test tube babies with tubes running through the tanks and into the children's bodies.

"All the way from birth?"

"All the way from conception. The babies there were conceived two days earlier in an incubation tube. The best genes are chosen by scientists before the process of conception even starts."

"Where did this come from?"

"Our source in Iran, codenamed Eagle. Eagle's been working inside the Iranian military for nearly two years now. Those pictures came to us a week ago. Twelve hours after sending it, Eagle sent out a distress signal to his handler's imbedded in Tehran. Since then, nothing.... until yesterday."

Fury motioned for the tablet. I slid it back to him and he flipped over to another photo. This one of an Arabic looking man laying on the street, dead. Cuts and bruises covered his body. There was a hole in the man's head where his left eye should have been.

"I believe the way the body was left, it was a message to the US. To me."

"To you from whom? Nick, you're so deep inside the system, half the Joint Chiefs think you're a myth."

"But this is different. This is a message from an old friend... or someone who used to be a friend."

"Who exactly?"

"Have you ever heard the story of Rustam?"

__________________
"These are the times that try men's souls... Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph."
-- Thomas Paine


"People never lie so much as after a hunt, during a war or before an election."
-- Otto von Bismarck


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Old 01-01-2013, 12:01 AM   #254
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Previously




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Midtown
12:05 AM


My attacker and I both crashed through the twentieth story window, rolling across the beige carpet of an office. I slammed against a cubicle wall and crashed into the work space, my right boot kicking in a computer monitor as I fell.

I groaned and tried to pull myself up. The quiet sound of footsteps crunching on glass hit my ears. I looked forward and saw a pair of sandaled feet walking towards me. Grunting, I lunged forward and grabbed his ankle. A powerful karate chop knocked my hands from his ankle. A kick to the face knocked me back further into the cubicle. I slumped against the far wall and knocked a kitten calender to the floor.

The attacker wordlessly walked towards me, intent on continuing his beatdown. No jokes, or quips, no monologues. I went from a guy who wouldn't shut up, to one that doesn't talk. Wouldn't be so much a problem if not for the fact this guy doesn't stop.

"Oh, come on," I said as the guy picked me up off the floor. "Can I please get a brea-- gaak!" A karate chop to my throat cut off my pleading. While I gasped for air, he tossed me across the office and into another cubicle.

Coughing violently, I finally snapped. Standing up before he could come after me, I popped an escrima stick from its holster and stepped out from the cubicle. A balled fist whipped towards me from the right. I brought my stick up and blocked the blow. I shoved my escrima stick forward and knocked the attacker off his game. He swung with his free hand and I ducked it, falling on my back and kicking out with my legs together. The two boots struck him in the chest and knocked him off his feet.

My turn to go on the offensive, I jumped up and charged him. He sat up and tried to sweep his leg at my feet. I jumped, tucked my arms and legs, and landed just in front of his head. I brought my stick down to his head, but it was blocked by a karate chop to the wrist. The block sent me stumbling back a bit. With quickness and grace, my attacker was back on his feet and charging towards me. I danced, ducked, and dodged around his quick blows before I snagged his wrist and shoved him forward. He stumbled and smacked head-first into a copy machine.
He was sightly dazed and I took the initiative, grabbing him by the back of his head and pulling it up above the copy machine. I opened the copier and shoved his head down on the glass. I slammed the cover down on the back of his head several times, cracking the glass and breaking the skin.

"Who sent you?" I growled every time I slammed the cover back down on his head. "Talk, dammit! Tell me who sent you!"

After a minute of the beatdown, I pulled him out of the copy machine and shoved him to the floor. His face was bloody, his glasses cracked and broken. His eyes were cloudy, a concussed and on the verge of unconsciousness.

"TALK!" I yelled, punching in the gut.

"Morgan," he said dreamily. "Morgan Jones."

Just like that, I was out of the office and in the air, swinging north towards Harlem and Morgan Jones' criminal headquarters.



Harlem
12:34 AM


"Let me down!" The thug pleaded from ten stories above the pavement. I smirked and watched him sweat as he dangled in the air., the cable of my grapnel gun wrapped around his ankle. The man in question was Jontavius Peters, a mid-level thug in Morgan Jones' drug dealing empire. When I busted into Jones' offices ten minutes ago, Jonatvius was the only one there.

"Tell me where your boss is and I'll let you down."

"Some meet in Brooklyn! That's all I know! Now let me go!"

"Okay," I said, uncoiling the grapple line slightly. He began to fall towards the ground, screaming his head off. The cable of the grapnel went taunt and stopped. I reeled him back up to my level. "Now, tell me where in Brooklyn he is and who he's meeting."

"RED HOOK!" He yelled, trashing wildly. "MEETING WITH SOME BIKER GANG! NOW, PLEASE, PUT ME DOWN ON THE ROOF!"


*****

Red Hook, Brooklyn
1:05 AM



Morgan's car pulled up into the warehouse parking lot with Wilson Fisk's men behind them. Morgan, his men, and Fisk stepped out of the car and walked to where a dozen motorcycles were parked. Idling around the bikes were a group of bikers. One of them stepped forward towards Morgan's entourage. His cut-off leather jacket had a patch on the breast that read "President." On the back of the jacket was knight in a suit of armor, riding a horse. "Crusaders Motorcycle Club" was written underneath the logo.


"Guys," the man said with a nod. "Which one of you is Jones?"

"I am," Morgan said, stepping forward. "You Blackwood?"

"That's me," he said with a glance to Fisk and his muscle. "Didn't realize you ran a diverse crew."

"It's the 21st century," Morgan said with a wry smile. "Gotta get with the times, man."

"So, what's the business deal you had in mind?" Blackwood asked. "Something to make us a lot of money, I hope."

"Your club has chapters all over the country and into Canada," Morgan said with a nod towards Blackwood's friends. "Nearly a thousand men on bikes all over the country. I want to use you and your bikes as mules, carrying coke and dope smuggled into Canada down to America and across the country."

"That's risky business," Blackwood said as he stroked his chin. "How much money are you talking about making off this deal?"

"Hundred thousand dollars to your club for each mule run into the states," Morgan said. "As well as a discount on any product you might want to push on the side."

"We don't **** with drugs," Blackwood said with a scowl. "No selling at all. Why the hell should we stick out neck out for you? Because you say you'll pay?"

"That," Morgan started. "And, we both know your club is going under. The days of the outlaw biker gang ain't what they used to be. You're hurting for money, the ATF busts your balls day and night about that little weapons trafficking business you got. Fact of the matter is you need this. Say yes."

Blackwood looked back at his fellow bikers, then back to Morgan. He shuffled his feet and exhaled before finally nodded. "Fine," he said. "When do you want to get started?"

"I'm surprised in you, Mister Blackwood," a voice echoed around them.

Fisk and his men pulled their weapons at almost the same time the Crusaders did. The two sides looked all over the parking lot for any indication of the voice's owner.

"The hell was that?" Morgan asked, looking at Blackwood. "You trying to pull something on me?"

"Me? What about you?! You're a goddamn informant or something?!"

"Excuse me," the voice continued. "I was talking here. So rude. As I was saying, I'm surprised in your, mister scary biker man. Also a bit disappointed."

Out of the shadows, a red blur slammed into Morgan and knocked him to the ground. Both sides opened fire, Blackwood fell to the ground as bullets fired above him. The figure jumped away before the bullets could tear into them.

They swung back into the shadows and up onto the roof of the warehouse.

"Only a dope says yes to drugs," the figure said, coming into the halogen lights of the parking lot. It was the devil... or a man dressed like it. "I mean, c'mon, didn't Nancy Reagan teach you anything? Just say no!"

The devil man jumped from his spot and dove into the middle of Morgan's men, taking them on with a pair of sticks at close range.


__________________
"These are the times that try men's souls... Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph."
-- Thomas Paine


"People never lie so much as after a hunt, during a war or before an election."
-- Otto von Bismarck


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Old 01-01-2013, 07:57 PM   #255
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"Have you ever been so hungry, that it just drives you crazy?"

He calls himself 'Parasite.' His real name is Rudy Jones, formerly a political activist in the city. He was one of the loudest rabble-rousers during the riot in Little Bohemia, until LexCorp L-Sec officers shot him down. Now he's........changed. Into what, I'm not entirely sure, but it's nothing good.



"You're just so damn hungry that it's all you can think about," he says, twitching as snakes of bone and muscle, tendons and teeth, sprout from his body like vines from hell, "But all that's around is a bunch of little snacks, and eating one just makes you hungrier. And you just keep eating and eating these little snacks, getting worse and worse because you can't get a full meal."

"That woman wasn't a 'snack,' Rudy," I say angrily. "She was an innocent person, one that you murdered."

I clench my fists, knuckles cracking as I get ready for a fight.

"And if you're looking at me as your 'meal,' well, I think you might be biting off a little more than you can chew."

Parasite just giggles, a crazed and hungry gleam in his eyes.

Another mass of those tendrils of gore whips towards me. This time, they're faster, harder to avoid. Worse, there's not much room to move around in this cramped alley. I need to get to some open air, work around it.

As the Parasite lunges towards me, claws spread wide, I shoot up into the air. Once I put enough distance between him and myself, I can--

"Hnnnngh!!!"

A jolting pain shoots up and down my spine, and my left leg goes numb.

For just a second, all I see is red, until my vision clears and I see that one of Parasite's tendrils has wrapped around my leg. I was moving at almost full speed, and he was able to catch me....!

The numbness spreads up through my abdomen, into my chest. I can feel my legs going numb.

"Wha--.....how.....?" I stammer. While I can't feel it, I can see the tendrils squeeze harder around my leg, growing barbs and teeth that actually start to cut into the skin.

He's.....he's getting stronger....and I'm getting weaker....numbness is up to my entire left side now....can't move my arms or legs.....vision getting blurry....




......vision. Heat. Have to.....

In desperation, I focus every ounce of power I have in me into my eyes. Twin laser beams of immense energy slice through the Parasite's tentacles, freeing my leg.

"Agh!" Rudy snarls as the severed tendril recoils.....

.....then grows right back.

And worse, that ghoulish bio-mass is spreading all over his body, covering him in plates of bone and knots of hardened muscle, like armor.

Without enough energy left to fly, I fall onto a nearby rooftop. I need a second to catch my breath, to get away, to......I don't know. I've never run into anything like this before.

"God, the power!" I hear the Parasite shouting from below. "So much power......and I'm still hungry!"

Erupting from the alley, I see the monster that used to be Rudy Jones fly up into the air. He.....he can fly now. He's taken my strength, and my speed, and he can fly. Just by a few seconds of physical contact.



"All your power is mine now, Superman," he says, floating down to me. An elongated claw springs from his finger and sinks into my shoulder. As soon as it pierces my skin, the shooting pain is back, followed by that deathly numbness. "And even then, you weren't the meal I was hoping for. Just an appetizer."

Suddenly, he pulls his claw out, like he's second-guessing himself.

"I don't know how this works," he admits. "Something about drawing out sources of electrical energy and turning it into bio-mass....Luthor's android girlfriend explained it when she did this to me."

Parasite looks away, towards the massive spire of the LexCorp Towers.

"The first couple of people I fed off of, I found out their power only lasts a little while. So if I kill you, I won't get a chance to drain your powers again later."

I try to stand, but he whips a tendril toward me, knocking me back and crashing me into an air conditioning unit.

"Just have to exercise a little self-control," he says with a bitter laugh. "You've been a great appetizer, Superman, but some payback against Luthor is my main course. And then once I've had my fill, I'll swing back to feed a little more off of you for dessert."

Parasite looks down to the street, lashing out tendrils to uproot a light post. Casually, he bends steel with the strength that he stole from me, and uses it to tie me up.

"Can't have you going anywhere, can I?" he says. "After all, you're my meal ticket now."

With that, Parasite flies up into the air, and speeds towards the LexCorp Tower, leaving me powerless, immobilized, and barely conscious.

Gasping for breath and unable to break free of my restraints, I find myself saying words I never thought I'd say.

"Somebody.....anybody......help me......."

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Old 01-02-2013, 09:12 PM   #256
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"You may get your wish", Animal Man stated as a group of soldiers decked out in high-tech body armor appear down the corridor with a massive cannon, aiming it the mutant's way.

"Uh, Logan?"
I spin to face the oncoming troops a plan formulating in my head. The area we're now in is small. Confined. Nowhere to run. Nowhere to hide.

Wait. Hide. That's exactly what we need to do.

Turning to Kurt, I call out to him, "Nightcrawler. Teleport."

"Vhat? Where?"

"Everywhere!" I respond. When he continues to give me a confused look I explain, "The smoke! We need a lot of that smoke you make!"

Understanding, Kurt begins to teleport continuously, creating the dark purple smoke as he does. When the air begins getting thick with the smoke, I try not to choke on the smell, and now address Storm, "Try to corral the smoke. Keep our movements cloaked."

She nods, and her eyes begin glowing white, as the wind in the corridor picks up.

"The rest of you, stay low. Storm, keep behind Colossus," I turn to Piotr. "You and me lead the charge, big guy."

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Old 01-03-2013, 12:30 AM   #257
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I spin to face the oncoming troops a plan formulating in my head. The area we're now in is small. Confined. Nowhere to run. Nowhere to hide.

Wait. Hide. That's exactly what we need to do.

Turning to Kurt, I call out to him, "Nightcrawler. Teleport."

"Vhat? Where?"

"Everywhere!" I respond. When he continues to give me a confused look I explain, "The smoke! We need a lot of that smoke you make!"

Understanding, Kurt begins to teleport continuously, creating the dark purple smoke as he does. When the air begins getting thick with the smoke, I try not to choke on the smell, and now address Storm, "Try to corral the smoke. Keep our movements cloaked."

She nods, and her eyes begin glowing white, as the wind in the corridor picks up.

"The rest of you, stay low. Storm, keep behind Colossus," I turn to Piotr. "You and me lead the charge, big guy."

Charles watched from the observation room as the team took the simulated soldiers to task. Ten minutes later, the hard light projections around them faded back to the white of the Danger Room.

"That was good," Xavier said, stepping into the room with them. "But it could be better."

"You always say that," said Ororo. "We do the best we can, yet it is not enough?"

"Logan managed to procure information with a, shall we say, borrowed laptop? I've seen what you will face on that island. You're not ready, but I'm afraid it will take too long to get you where you need to be."

"Guess what else is taking up time?" Buddy asked with a shrug. "Sitting around and commenting on how much time it would take."

"That's why I have an idea. In order to speed up your training, the seven of us will enter a psychic dream state. In this state, time will pass by rapidly to us. Out here, only a few hours will pass."

"Like that filme sonho,"
said Beatriz."You know, uhh, the dream film? The Inception?"

"In a manner of sorts, yes. A very real shared dreamspace. Instead of taking place real time here in the Danger Room, we would take the exercises inside our minds. I'm not sure if the lessons would last, but it would provide you with months of training in a short span. By then, you would be ready to take the fight to government on Krakoa. Logan?"

"What the hell?" He said with a shrug. "What's the worse that could happen?"

"All of us slipping into a coma, an aneursym leading to swelling of the brain, leading to coma. Cerebral hemorrhaging followed by--"

"A coma?" Buddy asked.

"No, actually. Just death."

"Oh, thank goodness," said Kurt. "I vas beginning to get worried."


*****



Later

The seven of them came to at nearly the same time. Charles looked up and saw Kitty Pryde standing over him.

"Did it work?" She asked with expectant eyes. Charles said up and looked around the Danger Room. The rest of the team were sitting up on the air mattresses that were scattered around the floor.

"How long were we out?" Said Charles.

"About seven hours."

Seven hours to her had been nearly two months to them. Eight weeks of instruction from Charles and Logan. While Logan drilled them on the aspects of every type of combat, Charles had taught them all to focus and hone their powers like knives. They had fought together over every terrain, in almost every sort of weather, against countless enemies.

"Coffee?" Colossus said as he rubbed his eyes.

"I have some in the Blackbird," Charles said, standing. "We'll get it on the way."

He looked around at the young men and women before him. All of them, save for Logan, younger than him. All of them preparing to risk their lives for a cause. He thought of it as his cause, but after today it wasn't just his. It was theirs.

"We're finally ready," he said to himself before turning to the young mutant. "Kitty, find Illyana. Stay with her and prepare to stay in the panic room while we're gone. Everyone else, get ready. We're leaving in five minutes."



*****



Krakoa
South Pacific


"Ahhhh!"


Scott sat on the edge of his cot, listening to the screams two cells over. The screams belonged to Hank. That serum they stuck them with had cancelled out their mutations. While he and Jeff hadn't felt anything except reasonable discomfort, Rex and Hank had it worse. Rex's case was milder compared to Hank. Hank's entire bone structure and body warped itself back to what constituted a "normal" human.

"Agh... Oh, god..."

Scott had lost track of how long they had been imprisoned. The only way he could keep track was the experiments. The scary looking man in the crisp suit would have each of them hauled away one at a time for his poking and prodding. The doctor remained silent through out, but Scott noticed the twinkle in his eyes any time he broke out a scalpel. If anybody was going to kill them, it was going to be the doctor.

There was a rattle three cells over as the soldiers stomped in and out. The door clanged shut and was locked. Scott couldn't see, but he heard whispers between Jeff and someone else.

"It's Rex," Jeff said to him. Scott felt his stomach sink. Still no Jean. None of them had seen Jean since the raid on the mansion. Whoever these people were, Scott hoped for their sake that they hadn't harmed her.

"Is Rex alright?"

"He said he's holding up, Creepy Guy just took some of his shedding scales for DNA, nothing too brutal this time."

Scott cursed to himself and walked away from the wall. He sat down on his cot for several minutes and tried his hardest to reconnect with the Professor.

"Ahhh!.... Ohhh...."

He'd been trying ever since he first woke up, but so far he hadn't felt that buzz in the back of his head, nor had he heard the Professor's voice echoing in his skull. Scott didn't know why he was holding out hope. If these people had them, they almost certainly had the Professor. Hank started screaming again, and that was when it hit home. He had to realize that the Professor would not come for them. They were on their own. Nobody would save them... except themselves.

"Jeff," he said, standing up and walking to the wall.

"What is it?" He whispered back.

"When's the last time they injected us?" He asked, referring to the constant power dampening shots they were given.

"Ohh...."

"Been awhile. I can feel the soreness and stuff starting to go away. Why do you ask?"

"Just curious," he said, walking away.

Scott plopped back down on his cot and stood facing the cell door. If Jeff was right, it wouldn't be long until they were coming back to inject them again. Scott was at the end of the cell block and was always last. The guards always came in in pairs, one of them injecting them while the other held them at gunpoint. The last few times they had come in, Scott had noticed they were laxer than that had been at the start. He knew why. They thought that he wasn't a threat without his powers. They just thought all he could do was shoot beams from his eyes.

In the Danger Room, he had trained many scenarios. One very similar to this one. While Rex and Jefferson leaned on their powers more than they should have, Scott tired not to. He could do just as much damage with his mind and fists than he could with his optic blasts.

And, shortly, he planned on showing his captors that first hand.

__________________
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Old 01-03-2013, 10:37 PM   #258
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Spoiler!!! Click to Read!:


Quote:
Originally Posted by Byrd Man View Post

20 Miles off the Cuban Coast
April 17th, 1961



The three transport ships cut through the ocean at a steady six knots. The waves lapped against the rusty hull. I sat at the front of the ship, looking up at the star dotted sky and crescent moon glowing.

"Hola, jefe," a voice said behind me in Spanish. I turned and saw Raul, lighting up a cigarette. "Mind if I smoke?"

"Only if you blow it away from me. Nearly twelve years since I stopped, I don't need any temptations."

Raul took a drag off his smoke and sat down beside me. We sat in quiet for several minutes while he puffed and blew smoke.

"I want to thank you," he finally said. "You and your CIA friends for all their support. What we are doing here is a good thing. We are taking our country back from that comunista cabrón Castro. For that, the men and I got together and decided to give you a gift."

Raul reached into his waistband and pulled out a pistol. The metal glinted against the moonlight, illuminating the gun. "An original Colt 1911."

He handed me the gun and I held the weight in my hand. Made in 1911. Nine years before I was born.

"This is thoughtful, but I can't--"

"Take it," he said, holding his hands out. "Take it and keep it. You never know when you made need it."

"Says the man preparing to invade a country..."

"After your bombers crush Castro's tanks and planes, they won't be able to stop us. Soon as Fidel's pendejo lapdogs see us on the beach, they'll drop their weapons and run as fast as they ****ing can."

I nodded silently, glad that Raul couldn't see my face. A CIA cable came in a half hour ago with the bad news. Feeling heat from the UN and the Soviets, the President ordered the bombing on the island to be severely cut. From a major bombardment down to just one measly pass over the island. I don't want Raul to know. The type of confidence he has right now, it'd be dangerous to deflate it.

"I have to go," he said, flicking his cigarette butt over the side of the ship. "Final prep is in forty-five minutes. After that, we'll be ready to land."

Raul stood, his hand out for me. I took it and shook, avoiding his eyes even in the dark. "Senor Rogers, thank you. When this is over, I want to show you my thanks properly. You and your wife can come to Havana to vacation, all at my expense."

"Thank you... I'm sure Gail would love that."

Raul patted me on the back and walked away, heading down into the ship's hold. Six hours later, I would watch from the boat as the Cubans waded out of the waters of the Bay of Pigs. Then, I'd watch as Castro's troops and tanks tore them to shreds. I nearly jumped off the side of the boat and swam the three miles to shore to help fight. Direct orders to stand down from the CIA Director and the Secretary of Defense managed to back me down.

I never saw Raul again. His name never appeared on the killed in action list the Cuban government put out. His name never popped up in the intelligence briefings the CIA smuggled out of Cuba. No official record of him in Cuba, all knowledge of him disavowed by the US government. It was like he never existed. Except for the Colt. I have it framed and mounted on a wall in my cabin. With the gun is a note: Raul Fernandez, April 17th, 1961. My government wanted to forget he ever existed, but I never did.



*****



SHIELD Multicarrier USS Charleston
800 Feet Below the Surface of the Persian Gulf
Now



"Iran is trying to develop supersoldiers," Nick Fury said in his usual direct tone. He stood at the front of the nearly empty briefing room. His right hand woman, Bordeaux, sat off to the side watching silently. "And they're getting pretty damn close."

Fury slid a tablet across the table to me. I picked it up and looked down at the screen. Grainy and black and white photos of test tube babies with tubes running through the tanks and into the children's bodies.

"All the way from birth?"

"All the way from conception. The babies there were conceived two days earlier in an incubation tube. The best genes are chosen by scientists before the process of conception even starts."

"Where did this come from?"

"Our source in Iran, codenamed Eagle. Eagle's been working inside the Iranian military for nearly two years now. Those pictures came to us a week ago. Twelve hours after sending it, Eagle sent out a distress signal to his handler's imbedded in Tehran. Since then, nothing.... until yesterday."

Fury motioned for the tablet. I slid it back to him and he flipped over to another photo. This one of an Arabic looking man laying on the street, dead. Cuts and bruises covered his body. There was a hole in the man's head where his left eye should have been.

"I believe the way the body was left, it was a message to the US. To me."

"To you from whom? Nick, you're so deep inside the system, half the Joint Chiefs think you're a myth."

"But this is different. This is a message from an old friend... or someone who used to be a friend."

"Who exactly?"

"Have you ever heard the story of Rustam?"


Tehran, Iran
April 17th, 1980



The skinny young man navigated through the packed main street of Tehran. Protestors were out in force, holding up posters of the Ayatollah Khomeini and flaming American flags. The protests were happening every day now. They had been happening since six months ago when the Americans had been kidnapped from their embassy. The US government attempted to negotiate with the Islamic Revolutionist, but their pleas fell on deaf ears.

The young man kept going through the mob and a half hour later, found himself in a back alley nearly a mile away from the protestors. He found a narrow doorway in the alley and went up three flights of stairs to a door. He rapped on the wooden door in a short sequence. Morse code.

The door swung open and a man peeked out. He was white, red-haired with a long streak of gray running down the middle.

"Flagman," he said, issuing a challenge.

"Constrictor," the young man replied back.

He motioned for the man to come inside and closed the door behind him as he entered. The apartment was tiny and sparse. The only real piece of furniture was a table and four chairs. Another man sat at the table with a clear line of sight on the door.

"English?" He asked in between puffs on his cigar.

"Yes," the man said. "I learned it while at university."

"Good. Flag?"

The red-haired man stepped up and patted the young man down quickly.

"He's clean," Flag said.

"Have a seat."

The young man sat down, looking at the man up close. His hair was gray, his nose had a long scar running down it. The most dominant feature of his face though was his eye... or lack thereof. A large eyepatch covered his left eye.

"Rustam, interesting codename."

"It seemed appropriate," Rustam said, rubbing his neck. "The great Persian hero."

"Gotta say, as far as informants go, you have to be the most humble."

"And what should I call you?"

"Patch."

"Well, Patch, what do you wish to talk about? Why did you want to set up this face to face meeting?"

"While you've never met with your handlers, we know what you do. You're part of the militant force that's overthrown the government... and more importantly, you've been assigned a new duty."

"Yes," Rustam said with a slow nod. "I have be guarding the American hostages at night."

"Yes, and that's what we want. A comprehensive floor plan on the place where they're being held and guard schedules."

"You are planning a rescue mission?" Rustam asked with a raised brow.

"Something like that," said Patch. "Now, let's get to it."

Seven days later, US commandos would execute botched attempt to rescue the 52 hostages. The official line is that the helicopters malfunctioned due to the desert sand. Unknown to nearly everyone, one copter was shot down by Islamic radicals. Master Sergeant Rick Flag Sr., a veteran of three wars and an original Howling Commando, was severely injured in the crash and later died of his injuries two days later.

Although the failed mission was investigated heavily, no official reason was given as to how the Islamic rebels knew when and where the special forces helicopters would be arriving. After the debacle, SHIELD informant codenamed RUSTAM went silent, no further reports. Representatives of then President-Elect Ronald Regan were able to negotiate the release of the hostages in exchange for a hands-off policy on Iranian affairs, and the supply of weapons to the Islamic radicals. The hostages were released on January 20th, 1981 and the world moved on, like it always does.



*****



Bushehr, Iran
1329 Local Time


"So, what's the plan?" I asked Bordeaux as we stood in the motel room.

Eight hours ago we had slipped into Iran via the underwater SHIELD multicarrier. They dropped us off a mile from the coast and we swam the way in with scuba gear. She ignored me and reached under the bed, pulling a large metal case out from under it. She plopped it on the bed and opened it. Inside the case was filled with equipment... and something else.

"Oh, no..."




"Why'd you bring that?"

"You never know when we'll need it," she said, handing me a few small nodes. "Put the one on the right on your back molar, the other one in your ear."

I did as she asked, slipping one on my back tooth and the other in my ear. I felt a tingle as the two nodes seemed to dissolve over my tooth and ear.

"Check, one, two," Nick Fury's voice said crystal clear in my ear. "Eagle Eye to Uncle Sam, respond."

"Uncle Sam here," I said, unsure if Fury could here me. "How are you doing this?"

"Those nodes dissolved when they came in contact with your body heat. They will filled with micro nanties that latched on to your tooth and inner ear. The ones on your tooth have a high definition sound mic that can capture your whispers. You have micro speakers in your inner ear."

"Seriously?"

"Seriously. Welcome to the 21st century, Cap. It's along way from those gun pens we had in the 60's."

"You're telling me. I'm surprised you don't have any video linkup or anything else fancy like that."

"Here," Bordeaux said, handing me a contact lens. "Slip it into your right here. It dissolves like the nodes."

"Looks like I spoke too soon," I said, slipping the contact in.

"And now we have video. Smile for me, Sasha."

"Tell me. Nick, you ever read that book Nineteen Eighty-Four?"

"Yep. I liked that Big Brother guy, shame that Winston Smith fella tried to mess with what he was doing."

"Of course you did."

"What's next, sir?" Bordeaux asked, linking up with my feed with Fury.

"Two of you need to make your way further into the country. We have another asset we need to extract as soon as we can. Another SHIELD agent in country is going to hook up with you outside of Tehran. Head that way as soon as possible and wait for further orders when you do. Eagle Eye out."

And like that, Fury's booming voice was gone. I looked at Bordeaux and shrugged.

"I guess we need a car."

__________________
"These are the times that try men's souls... Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph."
-- Thomas Paine


"People never lie so much as after a hunt, during a war or before an election."
-- Otto von Bismarck


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Old 01-04-2013, 01:42 PM   #259
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Edward makes his way down the hall ever mindful of the cameras and gets to the janitor's closet.

Edward slips in and closes the door and quickly makes another quick change this time into a janitor's uniform, a wig and contact lenses.

He then enters the hallway and begins pushing a cart.

Just then he sees several U-S Marshals escorting Tony Devenger down the hall with Alison in tow wearing a green dress.

It's go time.

He makes sure that he is out of the way as much as he can be and waits for the group to pass him by

Once the group has passed him by and sees that the group has entered the courtroom. Edward looks up and begins to push his cart away from the courtroom. He sees that no one else is around and he is out of camera range and looks inside his cart. At the bottom of the cart is 2 more disguises, a remote control and a bugging device. Edward then moves his cart back into the closet.

Everything is in place here now to wait for the right moment.

He hears the Bailiff call the court to order.

And be ready Eddie....

As the Judge slams the gavel there are several screams of people in pain within the court room and Edward presses a button on the remote that kills all cell phone signals within the courtroom.

Edward with cat like reflexes gets into the courtroom and grabs Allison who is holding her eyes.

Edward whispers, "Be quiet the blindness will fade in about 5 minutes"

He leads the two of them to the janitor's closet and slips a different colored dress over Allison and a brunette wig.

Edward says, "Look at me Allison."

Allison begins to focus her eyes and says, "In a minute the S-W-A-T team is going to storm this place looking for you and to figure out what happened. We need to wait here until they do."


She focuses her eyes and says, "All-right but what do we do for now?"

Edward says, "We wait here. We try to slip out now they'd expect that."

He winks at her and says, "Trust me."

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Old 01-04-2013, 01:55 PM   #260
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The Joker looks at his suitcase full of cash from the various theaters that he has robbed.


Not a bad day at the office. The Box-Office that is. Although I do admit I actually do want to see the movie, but I won't pay for it! The cost of a move these days is just outrageous!


He hears police sirens in the distance and looks around.

Uh-Oh! That sounds like trouble! Hummmmm what to do what to do?

The Joker bolts to nearby apartment building. He scurries up a nearby fire escape and is on top of the building eventually.

The Joker looks around and pulls out a gun with a zip-line built in and zip lines all the way back to his hideout.

Once he is back in his hideout he relaxes for a moment.

He says, "Yeah it was fun, but without someone to share it all with. What's the point?"

The Joker looks around and says, "Seriously! What woman can say no to all this? HA HA HA HA HA HA !"

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Old 01-04-2013, 11:09 PM   #261
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I sprint over the rooftops, hopping from one to another, chasing down the fleeing Mysterio. He's quick, and he knows the streets, but I'm better at tracking than he is at fleeing.

In the alley below, I see the telltale sign of Mysterio's hood glowing in the darkness. Vaulting myself off the roof towards the fleeing criminal below, I fire my grapnel into the fire escape, catching my momentum and allowing me to tackle Beck without seriously injuring him.

He hits the ground hard, turns around and attempts to back away from me, "N-n-n-o...it's not supposed to be like this. It's not supposed-"

"It's never supposed to end like this, Beck," I say, growling at the man. He goes to spray me with more of his gas. But instead, I grab his wrists, crushing the gauntlets on them, stemming the flood of gas. "But id does. Even for the crazies like you."

"You can't send me to jail...you can't," he stammers. The fear in his eyes is unmistakable.

"That's not for me to decide."

"But I won't last there. Falcone! Falcone! Did you get him!?" he says desperately.

Narrowing my eyes at him, I respond, "I don't know. I sent some of the cops after him."

"What if I testify against him! Couldn't that save me!? Please!"

I stand there, over the cowering form of a criminal that had power over me only a few moments ago, the tremors of fear taking over his body. This was once a man with dreams and hopes, destroyed by the scum that run Gotham City. This is the face of what I'm fighting. There are hundreds, possibly thousands of Quentin Becks in Gotham. And to all of them, I'm not enemy number one.

**********

"Don't you let him get away, Harvey," Jim Gordon says to his partner as they speed after Carmine Falcone's feeing car. "Don't you let him get away."

The two have been speeding after Falcone on the streets of Gotham since leaving the Batman in the fog covered street outside Quentin Beck's shop. The mobster is scared. He's almost hit two people already, and he's willing to risk the possibility of hitting more.

That means the man knows he's guilty. And that means they can take one of Gotham's crime lords off the street.

"He ain't gettin' away," Harvey Bullock responds through gritted teeth in the driver's seat. He turns hard to follow Falcone's car down an alleyway. As they do, someone leans out of the gangster's car and fires a few rounds their way, bounding harmlessly off the side of the cops' vehicles.

"Those won't be the last bullets we deal with if we keep doin' this, Jimmy."

"Yea, but we could also die heroes, Harv," Gordon responds with a slight smile, and returns fire at the mob's car, hitting one of the tires.

The car slides out of control, slamming into a wall. The two cops get out, pushing up towards the car carefully, guns drawn. Inside, they see three occupants, all injured, but not majorly.

Gordon swings open the door, and slaps cuffs on the leader, "Carmine Falcone, you have the right to remain silent..."

**********

In a darkened alley, I wait for Gordon. Like clockwork, his car pulls into his normal parking spot, and as he walks towards his apartment building, something draws his eye.

A chalk bat I drew on the wall near the alley. He turns down it, and says, "Hell of a night, huh?"

"You have no idea," I respond gruffly.

"Bullock says you're going to get us killed," he says, a bit of worry in his voice. "Us taking down Falcone...that's gonna put heat on us."

"They won't risk harming you," I respond, confident I know how the mob will react. "Not with Falcone in custody."

"And what happens when he makes bail?"

"I'll make sure they're more worried about me than you."

"And what about Beck? Guy seems to want to testify."

"That's up to you. Keep him in solitary. Keep him away from Falcone's men on the inside. Do whatever you have to."

"Who are we going to get to prosecute? No one in this town has the balls to try and put away a boss."

"I'll figure it out and let you know," I say as I silently make my exit, leaving Gordon alone, but confident, yet again.

**********

In a darkened interrogation cell, much like the one in which he killed Eddie Skeevers, Quentin Beck sits waiting. He knows he's marked for death. He knows that he will be dead sooner rather than later. Whether by some corrupt Gotham cop or one of Falcone's men in prison, he'll have a knife in his back soon.

But when the door opens to the cell, a wiry, middle aged man in a tweed jacket enters, and places a file on the table. He sits down across from the magician and folds his spindly hands after quickly adjusting his glasses. With a smile he says, "Hello, Mr. Beck."

"Who're you?" Mysterio asks with a raised eyebrow.

"I'm here for your psychiatric evaluation. Make sure you're all there up top."

"Ugh," Quentin sighs. "A shrink? Well then, what's your name, doc?"

"Crane," he smiles again. "Doctor Jonathan Crane."

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Old 01-06-2013, 03:53 AM   #262
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Krakoa Island


Jean listened to him drone on. That's all this man did. The Admiral, as the other soldiers called him, quoted the bible more than Jean's own bible-thumping mother. The same mother that had tried to have her exorcised when her mutant powers manifested. Jean had never been big on religion, and that little incident had taken away what ever initial enthusiasm she had to start with. If this Admiral was trying to turn her, he was doing a bad job of it.


"Look what I have here," he said to her as he paced in front of her cell. "This is a paper written by your false idol, Charles Xavier. It was written just a few years before he met you. Here are some excerpts. 'The mutant race should not feel bad about any dislike of homo sapien. It is natural that their inferior nature would make them less likeable. The same way a human views a cockroach, it is not their fault that they are on such an unequal footing.'

"No," she said. "That's not what he believes in."

"'If humanity attempts to harm mutantkind in anyway, they should be wiped off the planet. We must resist the urge to feel bad about doing so. It is just the course of nature, and homo superior is just an agent of that change.'"

"Stop," she said. "Stop reading those lies."

"'Humans have had their time, it is our time. We should not take it as our responsibility to shield humanity from the truth: We are better than they are.'"

"Shut up!" Jean screamed. "STOP LYING!"

"Here!" The Admiral said, shoving the paper through the cell bars. "Read it yourself. It's in his own handwriting."

Jean picked it up and scanned the paper. She recognized the loops and curves of the writing as that of the Professor's.

"You just forged it."

"No. The fact of the matter, Miss Grey, is that your precious Professor has been lying to you. He's not using you to protect humanity, he's using it to further his agenda. The agenda he and Erik Lensherr decided on all those years ago. Magneto has the Brotherhood, and Xavier these X-Men. Two armies to conquer the world."

"No, we fought Magneto. The Professor crippled him."

"Oh, they had some type of... lover's quarrel. Of that, there's no doubt. But the subject matter wasn't about philosophy. It was about power. Xavier could have no man greater than himself, and Magneto could have no man as his equal. It was about ego, Miss Grey. It was about who would rule the world. Your Moses is nothing more than a Nebuchadnezzar, a crazed megalomaniac."

"If I had my powers," she said calmly to the Admiral. "I would probably rip your head off right now."

"You're coming around, I see. Now, here's another letter he wrote. It's about proof positive that us inferior homo sapiens don't feel pain the same way you people do, so mutants shouldn't worry about putting us down. Now, I quote..."



*****



70,000 Feet Over
The Pacific Ocean

The Blackbird cruised high above the ground, speeding through the clouds at Mach 3. In the pilot seat, Storm flew with the calm and ease of a veteran pilot. While it was really her time flying the supersonic stealth jet, she had piloted it hundreds of times in the psychic simulations her and the rest of the team had done. Charles sat in the co-pilot chair, watching the woman and checking their progress.

"Set it to autopilot," he told her. "It's time for us to talk."

Storm acknowledge his command and walked with him from the plane's cockpit. Right behind them, the rest of the team were sitting strapped in. While most of them looked calm, Charles could sense their nervousness under the surface. Even the experienced Logan had his concerns.

"In ten minutes, we'll be arriving inside Krakoa airspace," he said. "Once we reach it, I will assume command of the Blackbird while Storm uses her powers to create a cover for us to slip on to the island. We'll land and Logan will lead you across the island. He's been here once before, so he should have a general outline of the island. Now, there is psychic shielding set up on the island. I will be of very little use unless you manage to cancel the shields out. But that is secondary to finding and recovering the original team of X-Men. They are your primary objective, second only to finding out what the government wants with mutants."

Charles nodded towards Logan's direction.

"Thanks to the intelligence Logan took from Alcatraz, we have a good idea of what to expect. A weaponized serum that will cancel your mutant powers, soldiers genetically altered to fight on the same level as mutants, and potentially brainwashed mutants. That is just some of the dangers you will face out there. As I said earlier, this will not be easy, but I did not expect it to be. Logan, if you have any last minutes words of advice you want to share, go ahead and do that while I prepare to take control of the Blackbird."

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Old 01-07-2013, 01:52 AM   #263
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"Once again I thank all of your for not only showing up here tonight, but for your generous contributions..."

I tune out the mundane speech. This isn't the first of these I've attended. Far, far from it. I know the entire rhetoric from heart. Instead, I turn to my significantly more interesting guest. The only reason I'm able to withstand this level of tedium.

"If I didn't know any better I'd think you were trying to show off, asking me me to come here."

I smile and tip my glass. "Well, I do prefer to multi-task whenever possible."

"So you do want the publicity," she says with a tease.

"Yes that's exactly what I meant, Ms. V-I mean, Vicki."

"Who am I to turn down quality champaign and a chance to rub elbows with New York's elite."

I finish the last sip in my glass. "I see I'm not the only multitasker. And here I thought I would be enough of a story for tonight."

"A good reporter is always on the hunt for the next juicy piece of news. And in a crowd like this, her reporter-senses are always tingling."

"Fair enough," I say with a smile as I take a sip of water. Need to keep my head clear, for a little while longer, at least.

...so please, let’s hear a wonderful round of applause for our Benefactor of the Year: Mr. Vandal Savage!”

The clapping of hands fills the hall. I stand and give a short wave as I walk on the stage to take my place behind the podium. I shake the speaker’s hand as I take the small award in my other.

Thank you Madam Chairman. And thanks to everyone here as well for helping to support such an important cause. Mutant Rights. Those two words have a lot of meaning, don’t they. The idea that people with special abilities and extraordinary powers should be treated the same as every other person.”

Well, I’m here to say, that I don’t believe in Mutant Rights.” There’s a slight murmur in the crowd. “No...I believe in Human Rights. And mutants...ARE human.” The murmurs quickly become a short round of applause.

Mutants didn’t just suddenly appear from nowhere. They were born. To human mothers and fathers. They’re our children. They’re us.” More applause.

So, when I hear someone say that mutants needs rights, my response? They already have them. And what we have to do is make sure that those with anti-mutant sentiment stop trying to take those rights away!”

A thunder of applause quickly turns into a standing ovation. I wave to the audience with both hands, and then turn to shake the chairwoman’s hand as she steps up to thank and congratulate me.

I glance over to Ms. Vale, who looks to have a knowing smirk on her face. She tips her glace towards me, and I give her a wink.

Damn, I’m good...

***

Graydon Creed steps into the back of the limo, escorted from the latest meeting of the Friends of Humanity. The smile plastered on his face told the whole story, that of another successful meeting of riled up supporters. A little more of a push, and he could have whipped them into a frenzy. Just like he could whip every crowd into one.

But that’s not what Graydon needs right now. Not yet. Not when so many people with power are still completely blind to the truth and danger of the freaks that are allowed to walk the planet. The last thing Creed needed was to give those sympathizers and their puppets the excuse to raid and arrest real patriots. The Friends would get their day soon enough.

Impressive meeting tonight, Mr. Creed.”

Graydon leans forward and opens the minibar, pulling out a couple of choice items. “You should come to more of them. I’m good at what I do.”

No thanks.”

Mutie sympathizer?” Graydon asks as he fills a glass.

What I believe is irrelevant. All that matters is what your benefactor believes.”

And what is that, Mr. Decker?”

Decker pulls a large envelope from his jacket pocket and hands it to Creed. Creed opens and flips through the bills inside.

I see he believes a lot.” He pulls out a slip of paper. “And this?”

A few names your benefactor thought you might find useful. He knows that you have a particular interest in...hunting.”

Well, there is some ‘wildlife’ in these parts that need to be kept in check.”

Ever the sportsman?”

A man should take some pride and pleasure in his calling.”

Decker buttons up his jacket and reaches for the door. “Well, you’ll find that the names on that list are more than willing to supply you with the necessary equipment for your hunts. And they understand how...pesky the various laws can be for people who just want to protect themselves.”

Well, tell your employer that the Friends of Humanity is very grateful for his contributions. I’m sure we’ll put this to good use.”

That’s all he asks.” Decker exits the limo and Creed smiles as he sips the last of his drink. He pushes a button on his armrest.

Home, sir?” The driver asks.

...No. The office. There’s work to be done.”

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Old 01-10-2013, 08:49 PM   #264
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Edward strolled through his house in the Hamptons to the back porch. He stood there and watched Allison as she casually walked in the surf wearing an oversized white blouse blowing in the wind and a black one peice.

Edward walked back into the house and came back out with a bottle of wine and two glasses.

She smiled as he approached and she took a glass and said, "Welcome home."

Edward bowed his head slightly and replied, "Thank you good to be home."

He poured each of them a glass and she asked, "So how was your trip to Toronto?"

Edward shrugged his shoulders and said, "Same ol' thing kill sometime and see the sights. Seriously these conferences are so dull."

Allison nodded and took a drink as Edward said, "Anyway I'm back not another thing to do for at least two weeks, and the office is closed for another 3 days, so it looks like it's just you and me."

Allison bowed her head slightly and Edward took notice and said, "You're ready to move on with your life aren't you? I knew this day would come once the scars from your facial reconstruction healed."

Allison finally looked at Edward and said, "Edward I'm grateful beyond words. You saved me from Tony, you've done such a great job on my voice and face that my own family wouldn't know me, you let me get myself together here on my terms, but now I think it's time for me to live my life on my terms."

Edward nodded and said, "You're right. I can't keep you here against your will otherwise you just traded one prison for another. I knew the day we got here that this would be only for so long."

Allison said, "And then you can get back to your real job without having to lie to me."

Edward looked at her very startled and asked, "What job? What do you mean?"

Allison replied, "Edward I lived in a very unique lifestyle and house for over ten years. I know when something is connected to the mob. Double Laptops, Private calls in another in hushed tones and talking in code, leaving at strange hours, and I saw you open your secret workshop one night when you thought I was asleep."

Edward said, "I'm sorry I was trying to protect you as much as I could from that world."

Allison shook her head and replied, "It's okay you didn't get me involved or parade me around like eye-candy. Again if it wasn't for you I'd still be with Tony, and you're letting me leave on my terms"

Edward stared out at the ocean for a moment and Allison embraced him from behind and said, "You're secret is safe with me. Riddler."

Edward chuckled and said, "That's the first time anyone called me that to my face. Interesting."

Edward turned and embraced Allison and said, "I'll make arrangements for you before you leave tomorrow morning. I've had something on the back burner for when this day came. Now it's time to get to work on it."

Allison said, "Will it take long?"

Edward shook his head and said, "Not really. Less than 30 minutes."

Allison nodded and said, "Good because while you're doing that I'll whip us up some dinner and we can enjoy the evening."

The two moved in and kissed as the surf pounded the shore.

Once inside the house Allison began making a Quichie as Edward worked on a Laptop.

He said, "Allison come over here for a moment. I want you to see something."

Allison moved to Edward and she sees several open windows of her on his Laptop.

She asked, "What are those?"

Edward replied, "Those are your records in various databases throughout the world."

Edward typed the word "wipeout" on the screen and all the windows disappeared.

Allison asked, "What just happened?"

Edward replied, "Allison or Kelly if you prefer. You no longer exist you're no longer on any known record. It's a program I planned to use if I ever needed to escape. I'm using it for you instead. You have a whole new identity."

Allison asked, "Who am I now?"

Edward typed into the Laptop and just then her new picture appeared on the screen. Edward was able to print out copies of a Social Security card, Birth Certificate, Driver's License, a passport, and all other important documents to verify one's identity. He then gave her card with her new name on it.

Edward said, "That card functions like a credit card with access to a Swiss Bank Account which has 5 million dollars in it. It's all yours now. Think of it as starting over money."

Her new name was now: Selena Kyle

Selena smiled and said, "The first name of our English lit teacher, and my mom's maiden name. Very creative Edward."

Edward said, "These are uploaded to various Government servers it's like they've always been there. I already contacted a car service they'll be here tomorrow morning."

Selena embraced Edward from the back and said, "You're amazing. Thank you again."

Edward leaned into her and said, "You're welcome." And then smiled as he said, "Selena."

Selena smiled as well and said, "That sounds like such a beautiful and mysterious name. I love it."

They ate the Quichie by a roaring fire, and drank the rest of the wine. After dinner they enjoyed one last evening togther.

The next morning they waited outfront for the car service to arrive. Once it did they embraced but neither one wept. They knew that this was how it had to be and they kissed one last time. Once they broke Selena got into the car quickly and was gone.

Edward stared as the car drove further and further out of sight.

Once he could no longer see it Edward went back into the house and threw his ball which activated his entrance to his workshop.

Edward then made a phone call to Wilson Fisk.

Fisk said, "Riddler, what do I owe the pleasure?"

The Riddler replied, "The Tony Devenger sanction is that still open."

Fisk replied, "Why yes it is."

The Riddler said, "Give me three days, and he'll be out of the way."

Three days later Tony Devenger was found dead in his bath tub from an apparent drowning.

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Old 01-10-2013, 09:05 PM   #265
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The Joker looked through several newspapers and local magazines.

Wow who knew it would be so hard to find a woman to spent my time with? Maybe it would've been easier to audition for 'The Bachelor' or go on E-Harmony.

He keeps thumbing through and then sees a picture of a columinst in the health and lifestyles section of the Daily Bugel. A column written about surviving post holiday let down written by Harlene Quinnzell.

He does a double-take and says, "Oh my! I think I found a winner! Oh yeah what a babe!"

The Joker shows the picture to his pets and they look at and lick the picture.

The Joker snaps, "Hey she's mine! Find your own!"

He then tosses the paper upwards and begins crowing out, "But then I fooled around and fell in love!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

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Old 01-11-2013, 03:51 PM   #266
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Breaking The Mold
Part 4

"**** this..."

Mac Gargan reaches into his belt and pulls out a grenade, chucking it at Clayface. As the grenade smacks into the creature and sticks, Mac grabs Adrian Toomes and dives behind the bar.

The grenade goes off, splattering Clayface all across the restaurant.

"Why the **** did you bring a grenade, Mac!? Are you ****ing mental", Toomes demands as the pair rise up from behind the bar!?

"Hey, don't ***** at me! I just saved our goddamned lives!"

"Oh, I wouldn't say that yet..."

Mac and Adrian turn to see the many pieces of Clayface start to reform.

"Oh...****..."


--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Nearly there! Man, it's gettin' cold out!

Spider-Man swung onto a rooftop and sprinted across it, leaping off of the far edge and firing a webline out. The line latched onto a building across the street and Peter momentum swung him low, rocketing right over the heads of the amazed civilians who caught a glimpse of New York's newest hero.

Should've worn my thermals underneath the costume. What I wouldn't give for a nice, cozy fire right about now...

An explosion went off just a few blocks ahead, sending flames blasting out the windows and the surprised pedestrians fleeing in panic.

Not what I hand in mind...wait, that's the place! Please don't be too late!

Spider-Man quickened his pace as he swung right in through the broken window of Romita's Steakhouse and sticking to the side wall inside.

Surveying the scene, Spider-Man jaw dropped as he saw the carnage around him. Bodies of dead gangsters, broken and mangled, lay strewn across the restaurant. A grim reminder that Peter was indeed too late to stop the killings.

"Holy ****...what the hell could've-"

Peter's spider-sense had been going off since the before the blast, but now it was practically screaming at him.
Spider-Man watched on as a massive creature began to form in the center of the restaurant, it's attention turned towards two survivors.



"I know I should probably be terrified, but I can't help but coming up with numerous poop jokes right now. You have no idea how hard it is to resist the urge to tell them..."

"Spider-Man", the monster roared in surprise.
"What the hell are you doing here!?"

"Well, life as a crimefighter sure does work up an appetite. And, me being a red-blooded, American male, I was in the mood for a nice steak, and every New Yorker knows that Romita's is one of the top joints in the city."

"What the **** is he talking about?"

"Who gives a ****, let's get going while it's distracted."


Toomes grabbed Gargan and the pair made a mad dash for the kitchen door, but Clayface saw the scramble out of the corner of his eye.

"NO!"

The monster lashed out, it's left arm stretching all the way to bar the kitchen door before Adrian and Mac got to it. With a twitch of the same appendage, Clayface swats both criminals across the restaurant.

"Hey, now", Peter shouts as he swings in and catches both men before they crash into tables.
"This in no place for a game of catch! Didn't your mother teach you not to play in the house, young man?"

"I told you once, Web Head"
, Clayface glared at the hero as Spider-Man gently let Gargan and Toomes back down to their feet.
"Stay out of my way."

"Told me once? I know I have met some colorful individuals since putting on the tights, but I think I'd remember a face that looked like a mushy dog turd."

"Aren't we witty! Try to think there, genius"
, Clayface sneered.
"Or maybe...this will help", Clayface spoke, and his voice changed from his monstrous tone to that of a little girl.

"Wait...no...", Spider-Man went wide-eyed in astonishment.
"It can't be...the little girl? But, it makes sense...that's why my spider-sense was going nuts as I got closer to her...you. So, you're a shapeshifter then?"

"Another time, bug"
, Clayface states as he comes at Spider-Man and the two frightened men.
"Now, if you'd kindly get the hell out of my way..."

"Sorry, slick"
, Spider-Man replies as he leaps at the monster, "but surrender is not an option!"

Spider-Man's heels smash into Clayface's chest, stopping the villain's advance and making him stagger backwards. But, Spidey is now helpless as he is stuck waist deep inside Clayface's form.

Clayface's expression of pain quickly turned into one of sadistic glee as he looked down on the hero trying to get free.

"What's the matter, Spider-Man? Nothing funny to say?"

Clayface's massive fist smashes into Peter, pushing him fully into Clayface's body. Clayface's "stomach" begins to rumble, and the monster hacks Spider-Man up, spitting him across the restaurant and out of the front window and onto the street.

Peter's eyes flutter open to see a half dozen faces all looking down on him.

"Huh, wha-!"

Peter shot up, the people who were checking on him recoiling a bit.
"What the hell just happened?"

"We were wondering that too", one of the people said.

"Thank god you're not dead", a woman smiled.

"Yeah...praise be...", Spidey says as he tries to regain his senses.
Suddenly his spider-sense blares, immediately snapping him fully back to reality.

"Get back!"

A body is thrown out from the same window Spider-Man was ejected through, and Peter leaps into the air and catches it before it can crash into the street.

Spider-Man landed back down on his feet, cradling the beaten Mac Gargan in his arms.

"We ****ed up...", Gargan weakly spoke, struggling against the encroaching unconsciousness.
"It's all our fault...back from the dead..."

"Who's back? Tell me! What was that thing?"


"Karlo", Mac groaned, "Basil...Karlo. Well...was. Calls itself....Clayface now."

"Basil Karlo", Spider-Man repeats the name aloud.

Gwen's friend from the Bugle! The one that was presumed killed! How could this have happened?

"How? How did Karlo become Clayface?"

"He's...he's got him", Gargan ignores the question as his eyelids begin to flutter.
"Toomes...he's...got him...heading...White's penthouse...finishin' 'em...both...at...once..."

Gargan passed out and Spider-Man laid him down onto the concrete, webbing up his hands and feet and leaving him for the authorities who were just arriving onto the scene as he swung away.

Warren White...the self-proclaimed Kingpin of New York. Figures he'd have a hand in this. Well, no matter how much White and Toomes deserve to be punished for this, I can't let Karlo kill them. Clayface has to be stopped.


Spider-Man suddenly swung down a side street, veering ever-so-slightly off course a bit.

Luckily though I think I got a good idea of how to stop him. All I got to do is make a quick pit stop at OsCorp, which is, pretty much, on the way White's penthouse...

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Old 01-14-2013, 04:42 PM   #267
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"Thanks to the intelligence Logan took from Alcatraz, we have a good idea of what to expect. A weaponized serum that will cancel your mutant powers, soldiers genetically altered to fight on the same level as mutants, and potentially brainwashed mutants. That is just some of the dangers you will face out there. As I said earlier, this will not be easy, but I did not expect it to be. Logan, if you have any last minutes words of advice you want to share, go ahead and do that while I prepare to take control of the Blackbird."

"Professor Xavier"
, Colossus spoke up after Logan's brief words as he moved to an empty seat behind Charles'.
"I wanted say while there is still time...thank you, again, for taking in Illyana and I", Piotr said, his voice's tone failing to hide the worry of the uncertainty of what lay before them.
"If...I do not make it back, promise me that you will see her safe, yes?"

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Old 01-14-2013, 10:17 PM   #268
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"Professor Xavier"
, Colossus spoke up after Logan's brief words as he moved to an empty seat behind Charles'.
"I wanted say while there is still time...thank you, again, for taking in Illyana and I", Piotr said, his voice's tone failing to hide the worry of the uncertainty of what lay before them.
"If...I do not make it back, promise me that you will see her safe, yes?"
"Piotr," Charles said with a slow nod. He wanted to tell the young man that it would okay, that he wouldn't need to worry about his sister's safety. That's what he wanted to say, but he could tell Piotr had his mind made up. He didn't need someone telling him it was going to be okay, because he knew what might happen.

"It would be my honor to watch after her," Charles finally said. "Now, strap in, we're about to feel some turbulence. That goes for all of you," he said with a look back behind him. He sent a psychic message to Storm. In response, her eyes glazed over to a white film.

On cue, a cold front blew across the island of Krakoa. A low fog rolled in from miles out and blanketed half the island in the mist. With cover, Charles pulled down the jet's yoke and the Blackbird descended into the cloud cover towards the island.


*****


Scott heard the footsteps coming before the rest. Two pairs of heavy boots by the sound of it. He climbed off of his cot and stood against the far wall of his cell. The first cell door swung open as the two soldiers gave Rex his shot. Whatever the shot was doing to Rex, he didn't put up a fight as they injected him. The same thing happened a minute later when they moved on to shoot up Hank.

"Alright, kid," a voice said outside the cell next to Scott's. "You know the drill."

Jefferson mumbled to himself as the men did their job. They walked out the cell and closed the door. That was when they came into Scott's view. Two men dressed in Naval fatigues. One of them carried a tray with hypodermic needles and a vial of the stuff they were shooting into the young mutants. The other soldier had a pistol in his hands that he held down around his waist. The armed soldier unlocked the door and walked in behind his counterpart.

"You heard us before," the solder carrying the formula said. He placed the tray on Scott's cot and began filling a syringe with the solution. "Just like before. Roll up your sleeve, and we'll get this in you."

The armed guard kept his eyes on Scott, but the gun was still down. Scott saw all of this from the corner of his eye as he stepped forward. The soldier administering the drug had his back to Scott as he filled up the syringe. He began to turn to face Scott, and that was when Scott made his move.

Growling under his breath, he jutted his knee out and struck the guard in the ribs. The unexpected blow sent him back. The guard knocked backwards into his colleague. The soldier's loose grip on the gun slipped and it went clattering to the floor. As they both tried to stop their stumble backwards, Scott charged. He punched the formerly armed guard in the face with a solid crack. The two men tripped over each other and fell to the floor while Scott grabbed the gun from the floor.

"Don't move," he said, his gun trained on the two entangled men. "You move or you scream, I'll shoot both of you."

They untangled themselves and began to raise their hands in surrender. Holding the gun on them, he positioned them int he back of his cell and knocked them both unconscious with the gun butt. Frisking the soldiers, he came up with a set of keys and another pistol.

Scott stepped out of his cell for the first time in in what may have been weeks. The corridor they were located in was narrow, only a handful of cells. He stepped forward and looked into the cell beside him.

"Scott!" Jeff said, bounding off his cot. "I heard something going on over there. Are you alright?"

"Yeah," he said, unlocking the cell. Jefferson stepped out as Scott handed him the spare gun. "Take it. They shot you up, so it may be awhile before you get your powers back."

Jefferson took the gun, the weapon feeling much heavier than he thought it would. They walked down the corridor to the two other cells.

"Oh, Jesus," Jeff said when they came to Rex's cell. He was on the floor, holding his chest. All around him were flaked off pieces of multi-colored flesh. His chalk white scalp was peeling back, revealing a small stubble of blond hair.

"Whatever it was they were pumping into us, it cancels our our mutations. For you and me, that's nothing. But to Rex and Hank--"

"I know..."

Scott unlocked Rex's cell. While Jeff went to help him up, Scott went towards Hank's cell. With all the screams and shouts he had been hearing, Scott feared for the worse. Hank's cell came into view. The first thing Scott thought of was all the fur. Blue fur was all over the cell, from the floor to the walls. Laying on his coat, his face masked in pain, was Hank. He was nearly hairless, his catlike facial features morphed halfway between normal and a human face.

"Scott," he grunted out, picking himself up off the cot. "L--lovely to have visitors."

"C'mon," Scott said, unlocking the cell. Hank shambled forward and Scott met him halfway. He propped Hank against his body and helped him out into the corridor. Down the hall, Jeff had just gotten Rex on his feet.

"Fearless leader," said Rex in a weak voice. "What it is?"

"We're going to find Jean."

"Leave us,"
said Hank. "We'll only slow you down."

"Pay no attention to the once blue, furry man."

"Rex's right. We're leaving together. All five of us. We'll even find the Professor."

"What makes you so sure he's here?"

"A gut feeling. C'mon, we need to hurry."

With the gun out, Scott helped Hank down the corridor towards wherever it led.



*****



Under the fog cover, Charles let the Blackbird hover just a few feet above the ground before he landed smoothly. The back of the jet opened up and the team came out quickly, six of them disappearing through the mist. At the top of the loading ramp, Charles watched as they fled off into the foggy night.

"Good luck," he said under his breath. "You will need it."

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Old 01-20-2013, 05:05 PM   #269
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“We’re here, sir.”

I look up from my sTab. “Perfect timing.”

“Reading the news again, sir?”

“Indeed. And I was just getting rather bored with what passes for journalism these days.”


“I know what you mean, sir. I mean, did you hear what GalaxyNews did?”

“I had heard about that,”
I reply as my driver walks over to my door. Especially since I ordered the firing of their investigative team. It’s so much easier to manipulate people when you can control the message. And much as I miss the old days where blade and muscle was all one required, there are some advantages to all of this technology.

My driver opens my door. “Kind of sad that the best sources of news are a comedian and a fictional anchorman.”

“Truly a pathetic state of affairs,”
I say as I exit the vehicle. “I shouldn’t be more than an hour.”

“Very well, sir.”

I smile as I notice the lovely figure waiting at the entrance to the building.

“Emma.”


“Vandal,”
she replies, walking alongside me as the doormen open the doors for us. “I enjoyed your performance last night.”

“My performance?”


“At that mutant rights benefit.”


“Ah.”
I smile slightly. “To be honest, that wasn’t a real performance. Hardly required any effort at all.”

“The accomplished liar.”


“You wound me, Emma. Comparing me with a common liar. I’m a master manipulator.”


“And proud of it.”


“If one can’t take pride in their work, then why do it?”
We enter the meeting hall of our sanctum. “Speaking of which, the reason you called me here?”

“I believe we have a new recruit for our Club. Although, she isn’t like our usual member.”


“Usual is not a word easily ascribed to our membership, Emma.”


“I believe you’ll agree that this one is quite...unique.”
Emma knocks on the door to one of the living quarters. Then she slowly opens it and peeks inside.

“Hi. I’ve brought my friend that I told you about. Would you like to meet him?”
I can’t see inside, but I assume our visitor nods silently. “Good.”
Emma opens the door. My eyebrow rises sharply at the odd skin color. And those eyes. “I see what you mean, Emma.”

I take a step forward. “Hello. My name is Vandal. And you are?”

The young woman sitting on the bed glances furtively from Emma to myself. Finally, she replies softly. “My name...is Koriand'r.”

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Old 01-22-2013, 04:01 PM   #270
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Consciousness fades in and out, like briefly coming up for air before sinking back down into freezing cold water. For a few seconds in between lapses that could be seconds or centuries, I can feel the warmth of the sun as it pierces through the clouds. It always felt good to take in sunlight, better than a hot meal or a shot of adrenaline. For the short bursts of consciousness where I can feel it, it reminds me that I'm still alive.

When I was five years old, my kindergarten teacher had the class draw pictures of our families. Since the other kids and I were all barely more than toddlers, everyone only managed crude, simplistic drawings, just stick figures with smiley faces.

Except for me.

The drawing I gave Miss Schwartz was an explosion of colors, three vague outlines of the human form surrounded by swirls of energy, starbursts of light, bodies pulsing with dancing rainbow lightning. When the teacher asked what this was, I told her it was my Ma and Pa and me, just like I saw us.

Truth be told, that's how I see everyone.

The human eye intercepts electromagnetic waves and transmits them to the brain. While it's one of the most complex mechanisms found in nature, it senses only a small portion of the electromagnetic spectrum.

My eyes can do far more. I can see the entire spectrum, from radio to gamma rays, detect minute ripples from sound waves. I can focus on individual atoms or focus further out into space than the Hubble. And what's more, I can see the energy emitted by living things, a kind of.....I don't know, an aura or halo, that inexplicable spark that separates life from inanimate matter.

Ma was always the religious one in the family, the most spiritually inclined; she believed that I could see people's souls, the way an angel might look at people. Pa, on the other hand, was more of a realist-- at least, as much as you could be when you were raising a strange boy from another planet. He never had much of an understanding of advanced science, but he was sure the answer was physical instead of supernatural.

The one thing they agreed on, though, was that I saw the world in a way that was completely different from everyone else. That was one of the first times I learned that in order to have anything close to a normal life, I had to suppress what I can do, scale it back, hide it under a bush.

The next time we had a drawing assignment, I just drew stick figures with smiley faces.

Over the years, I learned to narrow my vision down to the 'visible' spectrum, training myself to only see things the way everyone else saw them unless I absolutely needed to look in a different way. That conscious handicap eventually became nature, so I didn't even have to think about it, always just seeing the small band of colors, thinking of the air as empty.....seeing people as little more than stick figures with smiley faces.

"Superman? Superman, can you hear me?"

I'm pulled out of my haze of memory by another wave of warm, energizing sunlight. I open my eyes...

...and I see the swirls of dancing rainbow lightning again. I see a shimmering halo of vibrant light, colors I'd invent names for if anyone else could see them, the heart-breaking beauty of the human soul, positively singing with life.

Suddenly, I feel a smack on the side of my face. I blink a few times, to adjust my perception back to a more comfortable, human level, and I see a face.

"Hey! Are you okay?" says Lois Lane, kneeling over me on the rooftop where Parasite left me.

"I.....nngh.....I think so," I say, sitting up with a grunt. Every muscle in my body is tingling like a limb that's fallen asleep. Parasite drained so much of my energy that I'd gone completely numb, and was just now coming out of it. "I had my powers....drained from me....but I think they're coming back."

Lois gives a relieved smile.

"Good to know," she says. "It wasn't easy finding you; this whole section of town has been blocked off by the police. They're worried you might have been contaminated or something, so the area's being evacuated."

"Then....then why did you come looking for me?"

"Because you saved my life," she says with a simple matter-of-factness. "Well, not just me specifically, but you saved everyone during the Excelsior incident, and that includes me, so, well.....I owed you one."

"Well.....thanks," I say, awkwardly trying to get to my feet with limbs that are still having trouble responding. "Parasite.....where did he go?"

"The big shape-shifting monster?" Lois says as she helps me up. "It made a bee-line for the LexCorp Tower. Luthor's L-Sec officers are trying to hold it off, but it's not looking good. What is that thing, anyway?"

"An anti-LexCorp activist named Rudy Jones," I answer. "He absorbs all kinds of energy just by touching it, then turns that energy into matter--that's how he keeps changing shape. He blames Luthor for the transformation.....and he's probably going to kill everyone in that building if I don't stop him."

"Well, why not just let him? I mean, this is Lex Luthor we're talking about here."

For a moment, I look at her with disbelief and disappointment. I mean, the few times I've met Lois when I was out of costume....or I guess in costume would be more accurate....she always gave the initial impression of being a cynic. But that disguise was flimsy at best, her affected pessimism and indifference a defense mechanism to cover her thinly-veiled idealism.

So hearing her say that I should just let someone die, even someone like Lex Luthor, is a bit of a shock. Thankfully, I can tell from her heartbeat, from the tone in her voice, the way she avoids my eyes, that she doesn't mean it.

"More lives are at stake than just Luthor's," I say. "And I don't believe that there's such a thing as someone that isn't worth saving."

"Well, how are you going to fight this thing?" she asks, this time the concern in her voice genuine. "I mean, you can't even touch him!"

Now able to stand on my own two feet again, I try to take to the air. It's a little shaky at first, but as the sun feeds me more energy, I gain more control.

"I'll think of something." is all I say before I start to fly away.

"Wait!" Lois calls after me, causing me to stop and turn. "I don't know if you remember me, so I'll just re-introduce myself. Lois Lane, Daily Planet. And if you live through this, I want an interview, Superman."

"It's a deal," I say. "Meet me on the roof of the Planet Building at 8 o'clock tonight."

Lois nods, and I turn towards the heart of the city, towards the plumes of smoke rising from around the LexCorp Tower. There's a monster that needs dealing with, and a lot of lives in danger.

I put on as much speed as I can, still unable to go anywhere near my usual hypersonic velocity without my powers fully returned. At this rate, I should be at the LexCorp Tower in about forty-five seconds.

Hopefully that ought to give me enough time to think of something......




*****


"I said stop using the shock cannons on it! You're just making it stronger!" Luthor shouted into his wireless earpiece to the commanding L-Sec officer on the ground. "Switch to nerve gas weapons, now!"

"Sir, the creature's moving too fast for the gas to affect him!" The officer responded. "If we blanket a large enough area to contain him, we run the risk of civilian casualties!"

"Those are acceptable losses, now do it!"

Luthor fumed angrily while pacing back and forth in the impenetrable bunker deep beneath the LexCorp Tower. The gleaming monument to his success, the symbol of a city and a world brought into the future, was now under attack by a monster he had no immediately available means of stopping.

The loss of life was not what made him angry. And while the damage to his company and the loss of profit certainly stung, it was hardly the root of the matter.

The situation infuriated him, because for once, he wasn't in control.

"The creature's breached our line, sir!" the L-Sec officer's voice rang in Lex's earpiece in a panic. "He's tearing us apart! We need backup! Sir, we need help! I-- oh, God, NO--"

Luthor pulled the earpiece out in disgust.

*BOOOOOM!*

Above, the Parasite wrought havoc on the LexCorp Tower, smashing his way through walls and floors.

"Mercy," he said to his android assistant, the calmness in his voice belying a boiling rage. "When this is over, you and I are going to have a very long talk."


*BOOOOOM!*

The sound was closer now, the monster mimicking Superman's ability to see through solid matter. He was closing in on Luthor specifically.

*BOOOOOM!*

The two-foot-thick titanium doors of Luthor's bunker came crashing down, as the Parasite, bloated and monstrous from the energy he had gorged himself on, reached his prey.



"LuUuuUtTtthHhhHoOoOOORrrRrrr......" the Parasite groaned. "DiIIiiiiIiiiIIiIiiieEeEeeEEeeeEee......"

Tendrils bristling with teeth and claws whipped towards Lex......

......only to be sliced away be twin beams of laser light.

The ceiling of the LexCorp bunker gave way to a spinning blue and red blur, drilling through the impenetrable layers of armor that could stop a nuclear bomb. As the spinning blur slowed down, it resolved into a more familiar figure.



"If there's a way out of here, Lex, I suggest you take it," Superman said as he stared down the Parasite. "I've still got some unfinished business with Ugly here."


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Old 01-22-2013, 11:38 PM   #271
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I step off the Blackbird with the others behind me, and I sniff the air, attempting to get any and all sign of what's to meet us here. But I get nothing. Just like the last time. There's something about this damned island. Something unnatural about it.

But I can't worry about that now. Not with these kids behind me and the others in government custody.

Turning to my team, I begin to bark out orders, "Nightcrawler."

"Da?"

"Stick to the trees. As high as you can go. It's almost dark, so you'll be hidden. Storm."

"Yes?"

"Keep a layer of fog on the island, or as much as you can. Cover our movements just like in the simulation. Colossus, Animal Man, you're with me. Buddy, keep your strongest up and keep some thick skin. We don't know what these guys will be packing. Fire, keep behind us. You're a last ditch effort until we get out of the forest."

We head out into the jungle, all tentative on what we might fine. If the data I recovered and Charles's instincts are correct, we have something dangerous on our hands here. If these Sentinels are real, they could easily take us out and we'd never leave this place.

"It's quiet," I say to Colossus and Animal Man.

"A little-"

"Don't," I cut Buddy off.

"Aw."

"What do you think, big guy?" I ask Piotr before a sound of a snapping twig about a hundred yards in front of us draws my attention. Sniffing the air reveals nothing, and of course the fog gets in the way of my sight.

But it doesn't matter. Before long, I see what's coming for us. A man slams into my chest knocking me into the ground hard. I slam my fist into his face, but it barely does anything. He smiles at me as he begins to throttle me, so I resort to driving my claws into his sides. Recoiling in pain, he flings himself off me.

But he's not alone, I hear more approaching, "Everyone get ready!"

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Old 01-28-2013, 03:48 PM   #272
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A barrage of darts materializes from the fog. As his fellows avoid the volley in their own unique ways, Colossus simply stands resolute as the projectiles bounce harmlessly off of his metal skin.

"Good try, my friends"
, the Russian boasts, "but you must-"

Piotr's cocky quip is cut short as a half-dozen shadows rush towards he and his teammates from the mist, firing as they approach.

"Niet!"


Colossus strides to meet one of the sentinels, grabbing the super-soldier's gun with his massive hand and crushing it beyond use. With his free hand, Piotr swings at the armored attacker, but the man nimbly ducks under the wild strike, sending a fist into Piotr's gut that actually lifts him off of his feet, if only for a second.

"Svyatoye derʹmo! I felt that one!"

Piotr head butts the soldier, the blow sending the sentinel stumbling backward. But before Colossus can press the attack, another sentinel from his flank tackles him, taking them both down to the ground and smashing the butt of his rifle into Colossus' face hard enough to shatter the weapon's stock...

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Old 01-29-2013, 11:57 PM   #273
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Colossus strides to meet one of the sentinels, grabbing the super-soldier's gun with his massive hand and crushing it beyond use. With his free hand, Piotr swings at the armored attacker, but the man nimbly ducks under the wild strike, sending a fist into Piotr's gut that actually lifts him off of his feet, if only for a second.

"Svyatoye derʹmo! I felt that one!"

Piotr head butts the soldier, the blow sending the sentinel stumbling backward. But before Colossus can press the attack, another sentinel from his flank tackles him, taking them both down to the ground and smashing the butt of his rifle into Colossus' face hard enough to shatter the weapon's stock...
While Colossus struggled with the two attacking Sentinels, Fire watched and waited for her shot. It wasn't until the large Russian kicked them off that she acted. Brilliant green flames flew from her palms and engulfed the two Sentinels.

Over her shoulder, more of the soldiers crashed into the clearing, opening fire on the rest of the X-Men. Animal Man shot off, zigging and zagging on all fours as he channeled the abilities of a jack rabbit. While he ran, Storm conjured up a powerful wind that began to push the soldiers sideways away from the clearing.

With a loud bamf and a puff of smoke, Nightcrawler grabbed a Sentinel on his back and teleported them twenty feet in the air. He let the man go and teleported back to the ground just as the Sentinel crashed into the jungle floor.



******



In the control center of the Krakoa Facility, Admiral Styker watched the fight from the Sentinel's head mounted cameras. They were holding their own, at least for now, but they needed something more.

"Slade," he said without looking from the monitors in front of him.

"Yes, sir?" Commander Wlison asked from behind him.

Stryker pointed to one of the monitors. The feed had been frozen, but it showed the gray-haired mutant in crystal clear high definition.

"Logan." Wilson's hand went up to his eyepatch on impulse.

"Go see Doctor Essex. I want you out there commanding them."

Now, Stryker turned away from the monitor and stared at Wilson directly in his eye.

"Time to field test the Marauders."

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Old 02-07-2013, 12:11 AM   #274
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"SssuuUuuuUuuuPeErRrrRmmMaaAaaAnNnnNnn......" the Parasite croaks as he lumbers towards me.

Rudy Jones' mind is falling apart, consumed by some insatiable hunger. As claws and tendrils lash out of his sagging bulk to latch onto whatever electrical outlet or computer terminal they can drain, he can barely hold his physical form together.

He absorbed nearly all of my strength when he grabbed me, but like he said, he's metabolizing it faster than he can deal with.

Looking beyond the normal light spectrum, I can see the bio-electrical energy coursing through his misshapen body. That aura of luminescence, that dancing swirl of rainbow lightning that I see in most living things, has bloated and twisted inside him. Just looking at him, the Parasite seems.....wrong.

"You wanted to make a meal out of me, Parasite?" I say, bracing myself as I stand between him and Luthor. "Then it's time for your second course."

Parasite lurches and groans, then all of his tendrils of teeth and claws whip towards me.

As they close in, I can feel time slow to a crawl around me. Milliseconds stretch into eternity as my mind expands, taking in data exponentially faster than a normal human brain could process. Moving fast counts for nothing if you can't think fast as well.

I take in a deep breath.......



The summer I turned nine, there was a freak "winter storm" in Smallville. People reported inexplicable gusts of deathly cold winds, knocking people over and, in one case, nearly running a car off the road. Huge swaths of crops were lost to frostbite, frozen solid by blasts of sub-zero air that, as far as anyone could tell, came from nowhere at all.

There were all sorts of tin-foil-hat theories about what could have happened, ranging from some unforeseen side effect of global warming to weather-control experiments from the CIA. I felt horrible about the whole thing, a blizzard in July....

....all because I'd caught a summer-cold and couldn't stop sneezing.


Parasite's tendrils lash towards me, a hundred unnatural mouths ready to suck the life right out of me. At this close range, in an enclosed area like this, I should be able to get all of them in one go.

I let go out a massive lungful of air, super-compressed in my lungs and turned into a devastating jet of sub-zero wind as it passes through my lips. The room goes white as every molecule of humidity turns to ice.

When I catch my breath, the Parasite still stands before me.....now encased in layers of ice. Focusing my vision to a microscopic level, I can see the cells in his extra appendages have frozen solid. While some of it hardened enough to protect and insulate the core of his body, the claws, the tendrils, the snapping life-stealing jaws, are all frozen through, and brittle to the touch.

Not that I plan on touching him, after what happened last time.

I clap my hands together, and with a thunderous BOOM, the sonic vibrations shake the frozen monster apart, leaving only an icy, monstrous chrysalis containing Rudy Jones.

"I'll say this for you, Superman," says Lex Luthor, emerging from a hatch that I'm sure leads to an even deeper bunker, "You never cease to impress."

"And you never cease to disgust, Luthor," I say, turning to him angrily. "That was Rudy Jones, an anti-Lexcorp activist that your men nearly killed during the Little Bohemia riot. He said you turned him into that thing."

Lex just scoffs.

"Why in any sane universe would I create an unstoppable monster out of someone who hates me?" he says, a grim laugh in his voice. "Of course he blames me for his unfortunate condition-- if you've ever taken a moment to read his blog, he blames me and my company for virtually everything wrong in his life."

"Don't talk to me like I'm one of your flunkies in the press," I say, staring him down. "I've seen the kind of things you're capable of doing to people."

"I may ignore certain ethical boundaries in my work," he replies, "But never without a purpose, never without a clear goal for the betterment of mankind. That creature there? What possible endgame would involve me being eaten by a psychotic energy-devouring monster?"

He meets my glare evenly. He knows I don't have anything to pin this on him, other than the word of a deranged mutated victim.

"Between this and you still blaming me for the Excelsior, I'm beginning to think you're getting obsessed," he says with a grin. "As if all those times you've attacked my research facilities wasn't evidence enough of that."

He casually walks towards me, as I bristle with anger.

"You can hear my pulse, Superman. You can read the motion in my eyes, the perspiration on my skin, any possible physical tell that I'm lying," he says. "You know this wasn't my doing."

As L-Sec security officers begin to cautiously approach the ice-covered room, Luthor sneers, and lowers his voice to a whisper.

"But believe me, when I do come after you.....and I will.....you'll know it."

I glare at him, then take flight, struggling a bit with the small reserve of energy I've got left. Lexcorp personnel and L-Sec officers swarm the room to contain and dispose of the Parasite....

....and I do my part to help repair the damage done.

Luthor was telling the truth, in that the transformation of Rudy Jones into the Parasite was out of his hands. But he wasn't telling the whole truth, that much I can tell.

Unfortunately, I don't have the time to press him on the subject- not yet, at least. That'll be a job for Clark Kent, once I'm done with relief efforts on the ground.

Luthor can wait. First, there are a lot of people hurting, possibly dying, that need my help.


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Old 02-11-2013, 12:37 AM   #275
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It was a hot day, like virtually every day. The men patrolled their assigned areas. They inspected their equipment and vehicles. They made sure the desert sands did not damage their weapons. And they prayed.

Then the hellfire descended from the skies.

At least, that’s what they called it in their native language as they shouted out in alarm and warning. They fired their weapons, but to no avail. They fought, but to no avail. The trio of beings that descended upon them seemed unstoppable.

But so were these men. They were on a holy mission, and none would stop their crusade. And if they died defending their cause, then it was a good death.

There were many good deaths that day.

Men fell before a woman with crystal skin as if hit by an unseen force. Others fell to the fists of a large red haired man. No matter how many piled on, they never could seem to take him down.

And while the orange skinned girl in the air did not take any lives, the damage she did to the equipment and weapons with the blasts from her hands was just as devastating.

In short order, the army that had been training to bring down a country were themselves brought down by just three...

***

I like to do things a certain way. It brings a level of familiarity and comfort. Sets the mind at ease. Gets one ready for the situation, whatever it might be.

That’s why when I wait for my personal jet to be fueled, I like a nice bold wine. White. Bright, but dry. Subtle flavors you have to tease out. Wakes up the senses, so to speak.

On the flight itself, most people assume it would be champagne. But that is gauche. And mundane. Scotch on the rocks is best. Still classy, but it will get you where you’re going on the bad days.

Upon landing, the drink depends on the destination. In Russia, there’s little choice outside of vodka. In France, wine or brandy. On and on.

The Middle East, though, is tricky. The Muslim world frowns quite heavily on imbibing. It makes the long drives through the desert damn near unbearable. Or it would, if bribery wasn’t so effective. One of the few consistencies among humanity: the more you prohibit something, the more people want it. And a case of alcohol will get most everyone to look the other way.

And my host for this trip? Well, don’t let his followers know, but despite his desire to bring death and destruction to the West, he can’t get enough of Kentucky bourbon.

He clinks my glass against mine. “Salut.”

“Salut,” I reply, taking a sip.

“Mmmm. This nectar will be the death of me one day.”

“Probably. Someone will kill you when they find out.”

“Just adds to excitement. Makes life that much more worth living.”

“And helps soften the blow?”

His smile quickly fades. “Indeed.” He takes a much larger drink this time, grimacing at the burn. I just take another sip, letting the hot flavor make it’s way down. “It...I would call it incredible if it had not happened to my men.”

“That’s why I’m here, Emir.”

“You have always been a good friend to me, Vandal.”

“And you’ve always been a good customer. I assume your men have inspected the inventory?”

“The quality of the samples is high, as always. Can you fulfill the quantity I need?”

“I can have most of it here in the normal time. Being a larger than normal request, the rest will take a few extra weeks. But, in light of that, and what you’ve been through, I am cutting my price by a third.”

Emir smiles and salutes me with his glass before draining it. “You are a good man, Vandal Savage.”

“I like to think so.” I reach into the pocket of my shirt. “And, to ensure our friendship continues, I have something for you.” I take out the piece of paper and hand it to him.

“What is this?”

“The name of the group responsible for you attack.” Emir looks at me in surprise. “The one thing about being a capitalist pig, is having unlimited resources.”

Emir opens the paper and reads the name. His eyes grow wide and he throws his glass against the wall in fury. He swears in his own tongue. “They have gone too far. They continue to grow, to assert themselves on us and groups like us. It must stop!”

“Fortunate you have a fresh supply of weapons heading your way.”

“And we will use them...”

***

I spent centuries roaming the deserts. Despite the beauty they contain, I have had enough sand for even my lifetime. Which is why I always make sure to keep my accommodations in the remote locations as comfortable as possible. Not because I can’t handle it, but because...why should I have to?

I open the flap to my tent, my stronghold against the wind and grit. I take my sunglasses off at the sight before me.

My unexpected visitor turns his body in the chair to better face me, snifter in his hand.

A good vintage, Vandal. I wasn’t aware there were any ‘32s left.”

“I have a few cases stashed away from my time in the war. It was a favorite of the Jews in my area.” I drop my satchel on the floor and take up the opposite chair. I reach for the bottle and begin to pour.

“What do you wish to talk about, Ras?”

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