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Old 09-14-2012, 02:58 PM   #76
Johnny Blaze
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Default Re: Ultimate One Universe RPG: IC Thread



RAISING THE CURTAIN

Part 1

"God dammit", Otto snarls as he sits down across from Peter in the OsCorp cafeteria. It's midday and the large room is packed, but somehow Peter had managed to get a table all to himself, until Otto showed up. Not that he didn't like Otto. The man was Peter's friend after all.
But after recent events, Peter was hoping for the chance to try and relax and get his mind off of things for a bit.

"What's up, Otto", Peter asked between bites of his turkey club.

"I was so ****ing close to cracking the threshold today! And as I was about to achieve victory, the infernal relay blew!"


"Wow...that sucks, Otto. I'm sorry, man. How bad is it fried?"

"Totally useless", Octavius frowned as he stabbed at his meatballs with his fork in frustrated emphasis.
"I'll have to build replacements that can withstand the high energy output, and that will take time and money."

"And both are things Osborn isn't a fan of giving", Otto spoke Norman's name with obvious disgust, though Peter already knew of Otto's dislike for Norman Osborn.

"What I need is more funding", Octavius continued in between bites of his spaghetti.
"If I had your budget I'd have succeeded by now."

"Hey now, Otto"
, Peter put down his sandwich and looked at Otto, mockingly hurt.
"Don't hate the playa. Hate the game."

Otto laughed a bit and shook his head, a smile coming to his face for the faintest of moments.
"I'm sorry, Peter. I don't mean to take out my frustrations on you."

"No problem, Otto. I feel your frustration. This is a highly demanding cluster**** of a job."


Before Otto could say anymore Harry Osborn, Peter's best friend and VP of OsCorp walked up to the table.

"Gentlemen!"



"Otto", Harry looks at Octavius and nods.

"Pete", Harry looks towards Peter with a grin.

"How's my two favorite brains doing today", Harry said with a smile as he pulled up a chair.

"I'm fine."


"Not bad, Harry. Was about to finish eating and get back to the lab. Got to meet Flash there and finish installing the new security devices."

"Well, Flash will have to wait a bit", Harry replied after hearing Peter's itinerary.
"My dad wants to see you in his office, Pete. Pronto."

"Alrighty then...", Peter says as he puts his unfinished sandwich back onto his tray and stands up from the table.

Peter said goodbye to Otto and followed Harry as they headed to the penthouse on the top floor, aka Norman Osborn's office.

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Old 09-15-2012, 02:12 PM   #77
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Previously


Spoiler!!! Click to Read!:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Byrd Man View Post
Hell's Kitchen
4:21 AM


Dick slid open the window and crawled through into the apartment inside. Dressed in his full Daredevil gear, he removed his mask and pulled a USB drive from a compartment in his right gauntlet.

"Just in time," Matt said from the other room. "I'm making breakfast."

"Do you ever sleep?" Dick asked as he came into the kitchen. It was pitch black, but he could clearly see the red-hot eye of the stove through the darkness. Matt's silhouette moved away from the stove and towards the kitchen table.

"I'm used to staying up late. Old habits die hard. Turn on the light, will you?"

Dick flicked the light switch up. The light went on, revealing two plates of scrambled eggs in Matt's hands. He sat down at the table and slid a plate across to the other seat. Dick sat down across from Matt, placing his mask and USB drive on the table, and took the plate.

"So how'd it go tonight?" Matt asked, handing Dick a fork.

"Business as usual for the most part," Dick said, stabbing at the eggs with his fork. "I've been noticing something, though. There's been an uptick in robberies and strongarm stuff."

"Mobsters?"

"Junkies," Dick said between bites. "Lots of strung out people ripping and robbing to get drug money. It's kinda odd, since Narcotics is saying it's been a wasteland out there. The only stuff out there is supposed to be weak. Wherever these guy's are getting their stuff from, it has to be primo."

"Heh," Matt scoffed. "'Primo.' Since when did that become hip again?"

"I never said it was," Dick said with a smirk. "You getting your hopes up that disco's coming back?"

"Disco's dead," Matt said, forming the sign of the cross. "Let's hope it stays that way. Now, about that jump drive."

Dick held the USB drive up with his free hand, even though he knew Matt couldn't see it. "I managed to get into the coroner's office and copy over the autopsies of all the Murmur killer's victims. They also had a few of the detective reports as well. Believe it or not, they're a bit lax on security in the middle of the night."

"Well, come on," Matt said, pushing away from the table and standing. "Let's see what you got."


*****


Dick stifled a yawn and looked out the window at the slowly rising sun. He turned back to the wall where he and Matt had laid out all the information. Autopsy reports were tacked to a corkboard along with crime scene photos, police reports, and a map of Manhattan with the murder locations marked.

"What do you think?" Matt asked, his arms crossed.

Dick looked at the photos, then at the map, and then at the information about the victims.

"This is completely random," he said, touching a pin in the map that marked the latest murder. "The only thing the victim's have in common are the fact that they're redheads in their 20's and their white. Different lives, different upbringings and careers. These have to be crimes of opportunity. There's no way they have anything in common."

"There's patterns everywhere, Dick," Matt said. "They may not reveal themselves right now, but look harder. These apartments the killer uses are all abandoned before he uses them. That implies preparation. No way that's a spur of the moment. He's seeing these women days, weeks, maybe even months in advance."

"They all lived in Manhattan, though. Millions of people on this island. The killer could have spotted them on the street and stalked them home, worked his way from there."

"And the killer obviously has to have a car."

"Yeah. Victim Two was found in Washington Heights, but she lived in SoHo. As far as anyone can tell, she had no purpose or reason for being there."

"Man with a car. A profile is forming."

"Yes, it is. A man with a car weeds out a lot of people, but it also makes commuting possible. Now there's Brooklyn and the rest of the boroughs to think about."

"The problem is resources. All my old NYPD contacts are all retired or dead, and you're just a patrolman. Can't get far with that."

Dick walked away from the map and towards his police uniform. He reached into his pants and pulled a business card from his pocket. He looked down at it and then up at Matt.

"I wonder if the Bugle could give us a lending hand..."




SoHo
12:13 AM


Norah Winters unlocked the door into her apartment building and walked through the lobby towards the mailboxes. Her purse was slung over one shoulder, a laptop bag slung over the other one. She got her mail from its box and began the five story trudge up to her apartment.

After a five minute trek, she appeared the fifth floor landing and walked through the hallway towards her apartment. Norah stuck the key into the lock when she felt movement behind her.

"Good evening, Miss Winters," a calm voice said behind her.

She turned, seeing three men standing in the hallway in front of her. They were dressed in black three piece suits with black ties and black leather gloves. On their heads were black hoods that hid their faces from view.

"The hell is this?" She said with a raised eyebrow. "I don't know who you guys are, but you got about three seconds before I--"

Norah was cut off as the man closest to her attacked, grabbing her neck and slamming her head it against the door.

"We do not wish to hurt you, ma'am," he said, increasing the pressure on her neck. "We want your notes on the serial killings. The killer your paper calls the Murmur Killer. Give us what we need, and we will leave you in peace. Resist, and you will not like the results..."

Thrashing out at the man, Norah got her neck free enough to speak.

"Go to hell."

With his free hand, the masked man ripped the laptop bag from Norah's shoulder and passed his back to one of his cohorts. While the other two men began to inspect the computer, their leader pressed harder on Norah's neck. "This is the price for refusal..."

Norah gasped for air, trying to claw the man with her fingernails. The nails just slid on his jacket sleeves and gloves, unable to find purchase. She continued to fight against his iron grip. Black spots were forming in her vision and she could feel herself losing strength.

"Hey!" A voice shouted from behind them.

Norah felt herself go weightless, the pressure from her attacker gone. She hit the floor, gasping for air while the sounds of struggle went on just a few feet away.

She rolled over and saw a man in an NYPD uniform fighting the three men. Norah had seen her share of fights. Boxing matches, drunk idiots trying to fight on the street. Even bare knuckle boxing. The fighting they were doing was like something out of a movie. The way the police officer moved, the way the three men moved. It was like something out of a violent ballet.

Sweeping a leg down, the officer tripped one of the masked men up and somersaulted over him, striking his two compatriots in the neck with karate chops. While he had speed and skill, they still had numbers. Banding together the three men slammed him against a wall, two held him down while another one bashed into his face with fists.

"We know who you are, Richard Grayson," the man said in between blows. "We've been watching you. You and your friend need to stay out of this case."

Norah watched as the two men threw the officer (Grayson? Why did that sound vaguely familiar?) into the far wall and loomed over him as he picked himself up.

"The next time both of you cross the Black Glove, it will be your last time doing so."

And, without another word, the three men stepped back into the shadows and seemed to vanish. Norah stood up looking around for any trace of them.

"Those bastards," she said hoarsely, rubbing her neck. "The hell was that about."

"Where's your laptop?" Grayson said from the floor. He was gingerly touching his jaw. Norah looked around in the hallway. She saw her purse, but the computer bag was gone.

"Son of a *****."

"They wanted your notes," Grayson said, standing. "Looks like they got them."

"No, actually," she said, picking her purse up. After digging through it, she pulled out a black USB drive. "The laptop has almost all my work stuff... except the Murmur files. I keep it all on here. And it stays with me 24/7."

"A bit paranoid, aren't you?"

"Unless those three Mormons from Hell were actually from Time, I'd say it's obviously a well-justified paranoia."

"Touche."

"Speaking of paranoia," Norah said, turning to the officer. "The hell are you doing here? I didn't recognize you at first, but now I do. How'd you find me?"

"You gave me your card at the crime scene."

"Yes, but I don't seem to recall having my home address on my cards."

"I'm a cop, remember?" Grayson said with a playful smirk. "You gotta love the Patriot Act. "

"Hooray for liberty," she said, pulling her keys out of her purse.

"So, no thanks for saving you?"

"I'm grateful, Officer, but you still haven't told me what you're doing here."

"I want to help you with the case. I've been trying to work on it on my own, but I don't seem to be getting much traction. I was coming over here to compare notes."

"Yeah, seems you weren't the only one who tried to do that tonight. So, what, you're a gloryhound trying to make a name for himself?"

"Just trying to help out where I can. I feel like my talents are wasted rounding up drunks and prostitutes--"

"Well, use some of that super flying kung-fu and I'm sure the alkies and hookers will round themselves up."

"--And, even though I'm off-duty, I really should call this one in... You were assaulted and you apparently have information relating to an ongoing police investigation."

"Oh, I see, now," she said with a scowl. "Blackmail..."

"No, I'm just letting you know my options. And besides, once those goons find out they didn't get what they wanted, they'll be back for the information."

"Yeah, the Black Glove. Catchy name. Speaking of names, they seem to know yours."

"Yeah," Grayson said, looking away. "I need to make some calls about that."

"Well, you can do it inside," she said, unlocking her apartment door. "I'm tired of standing in the hallway. Call your cop buddies."

"Yeah, he's not really a cop."

Norah opened the door and led Grayson inside.

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Old 09-16-2012, 03:02 AM   #78
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San Francisco

"Follow me, please," the maître d' said. Charles and Tina McGee, Utopia's resident tutor, followed the maître d' through swanky restaurant. He sat them at a table looking out on the Bay. Once they were seated, he asked for their drink selections.

"I will have a scotch on the rocks," Charles said, looking up at the maître d'. He looked over at Tina and grinned."And the lady will have... a gin and tonic, am I right?"

"He's right," Tina said to the maître d'.She waited until he was gone before speaking to Charles. "Now, you promised me you wouldn't read my mind."

"Tt wasn't really much of a reading. The way you were broadcasting your thoughts. If I wasn't such a trusting man, I would think that you wanted me to read your mind that time."

"Well, maybe I did," she said with a smile. "And I'm sure I don't need telepathy to figure out you needed a night off as much as I did."

"Yes, you're right on that account. As much as I enjoy spending time with my students -- our students, I suppose I should say -- it is a comfort to spend time out with someone my own age."

"I'm only twenty-nine," Tina said with a wink. "So, speak for yourself, old man."

"I'm twenty-nine as well," Charles said, spying a waiter with their drinks out the corner of his eye. "Twenty-nine plus two, to be exact..."

"Right. Well,--," she stopped, taking her drink from the waiter. "Thank you. Well, here's to being twenty-nine together."

"To twenty-nine plus whatever we'll eventually be."

With a chuckle, Charles held his glass up and clinked it against Tina's.



*****



Utopia


The soldier on the screen blew up in a bloody mess of chunks and gore. Both Rex and Jefferson groaned and laughed at the sight. They were each holding controllers and waiting for the game to reload. Rex sat on the rec room couch, Jefferson down on the floor. In a chair beside them, Hank quietly read a book.

"C'mon, Hank, you want to try it?"

"Not at present,"
he said without looking up. "At the moment, I find myself engrossed in this particular tome."

"What'd he say?" Rex asked, looking down at Jefferson with a confused look.

"He's having too much fun reading that big book."

"Well, why didn't you say that?"

"Well, what is the point of having a rich and varied lexicon if I don't get the chance to employ said lexicon? If I spoke your vernacular of 'dudes' and 'bros' I would most certainly try to improve my linguistic repertoire."

"Translation, Jeff?"

"Pretty much, he uses big words because he knows them and wants to use them. Also, you apparently suck at talking, so get better at it."

"Whatever, dude," Rex said, rolling his eyes. He and Jefferson went back to their game while Hank read on. "Between Scott's personality, or lack thereof, and your geek speak, I don't know which is worse."

"Speaking of which, where is ole one-eye?"
"I think he's helping Jean with her Calculus homework."

"Huh, that's odd...," Jefferson said, blowing a zombie Nazi away on the screen. "I thought Jean was like right behind Hank when it came to Calculus."

"Heh. She is indeed,"
Hank said, peaking from behind his book. "But unfortunately for Scott, he seems to be as clueless as you two when it comes to amorous feelings."

"You saying that you think Jean has a crush on Scott?"

"I know so. I can smell it."

"Yeah, that's a bit creepy."

"What? It's a side effect of my body. My aimalistic sense of smell means I can smell certain hormones and pheromones that are secreted when desire is triggered."

"Mister Pierce?"

"He can smell it when we get turned on."

"Now it's full blow creepy."



*****



"--and Scott seems to be coming along nicely in his geometry work. Although he seems to really excel at history."

"I've noticed that," Charles said, taking a bite of his baked potato. "It seems that is his favorite subject. I've been counseling him, Jean, and Hank on their future studies. They are nearly college age, although I'm sure Hank could easily earn a PHD in the time it would take the Jean and Scott to earn a bachelor's degree."

"Is college an option, though?" Tina asked. "I mean, I don't pretend to know exactly what the government's plans are for the kids, but still."

"That better be an option. Despite what our wonderful handlers may think, they are not soldiers. They're students."

"Right, well... umm, not to change subjects, but let's change subjects. Tell me about yourself, Charles. I know so much about your students, but you're pretty mum on yourself."

"Hmm. Well, not much to tell, really. I was born in England, came to America as a child and went back to England for university. And through some rough circumstances, I found myself here."

"Yes. Unfortunately, that's the story I've heard about the most. But you said you lived in America, where at?"

"Upstate New York. The West Chester area. My family have lived on and off in the family house for nearly a hundred years. But what about you, Miss McGee? Where are you from?"

"Alabama, actually."

"Alabama? Why don't I hear an accent."

"Gosh, Mister Xavier," she said with a put-on Southern accent. "Not sure a simple, ole gal like me can do all that fancy city speak."

"Forget I asked," he said with a laugh. "How did you come to find yourself working with the government?"

"Well, I've been a private tutor for a few years now. I managed to get a few jobs in DC, teaching the children of senators and other members of congress. One of my student's father has some pull at the Pentagon and apparently, he suggested me when they said a tutor was needed at Utopia. For what they offered to pay me, I couldn't say no."

"And how do you feel about mutants?" Charles asked with an arched eyebrow. "Sad to say, I've gleaned a few emotions and feelings from others o the Utopia staff, but I would like your honest opinion on the matter."

"Well, I actually never felt one way about it before all of this. But after meeting you and the kids, I actually have no problem with mutants. I mean, yeah, there are some bad ones, but the same can be said for any large group of people, right?"

"Indeed," Charles said with a nod. "And make no mistake about it, the group of mutants on the Earth are large."

"How large exactly? I mean, nobody knows, do they?"

"Using Cerebo, I have a rough estimate. But that's all. And a lot more than anyone else has."

"So, how many are there?"

"Enough," he said with a soft chuckle. "I'm afraid if I revealed the true number, everything would change. So, you'll have to forgive me if I don't divulge that one at the moment."

Taking a swig off his drink, Charles wiped his mouth and looked down at his now empty plate. "Well, that was lovely. So, Miss McGee--"

"Tina."

"--Tina. What's next?"

"Well," she said with a smirk. "How about you read my mind and find out?"

"You know," he said with a soft smile. "If you said what you're thinking, you'd have your mouth washed out with soap. But, I have to give your points for imagination."

Suddenly, a chirping noise came from Charles' jacket pocket. Sighing, he pulled his phone from the jacket and answered it.

"Sorry, Mrs. Waller, it's after office hours."

"Yeah, I don't give a damn about your little booty call, son. We got a situation and I need you back on the island right now."

"Unless Erik has take the president hostage, it can wait until morning."

"Your mutant scanning machine picked up a group of mutant signatures. The biggest it ever has so far. Around sixty mutants gathered together in Kentucky."

"Sixty? That many all together?"

"Yep. And if it is Lensherr, that means he's getting an army together. To do what, we don't know. So, like I said, you're on the way back to Utopia right now."

"I'm on my way."



*****



Six Hours Later
Ketucky



The Blackbird hovered over the trees and began to slowly set itself down into a clearing. Once it was down and all was set, Scott and Hank stepped out of the cockpit and into the cargo area where the rest of the team was gathered.

"According to Mrs. Waller, we are to be an advanced scout team. Our job is to do reconnaissance and report back to her what we find. Understood?"

"Roger that," Scott said, clipping on his visor.

"Something you should all know. While we were in flight, I reached out and made contact with the group."

"And?"

Charles smiled and turned away, walking out the cargo door with the rest of the team following behind him. The sun was just beginning to come up as they walked through the knee-high grass and into the forest.

"I smell something," Hank said a few minutes into their hike. "People. Lots of people. And... bacon."

"Well, it is breakfast time," a voice said from behind. The team turned and saw a tall, dark-haired man in jeans and a t-shirt standing in front of them. "Which one of you is Charles Xavier?"

"I am," he said, stepping forward. "And you must be Madrox."

"In a manner of speaking. You see, I'm Jamie."

"I'm Jane,"
a dark-haired woman said, stepping out of the woods to their right.

"I'm John," a man shorter than Jamie said, stepping out of the woods to their left.

"I'm Joe,"
an identical twin of John said, coming out behind John.

The two men and one woman walked over to Jamie and the four of them stood in front of Charles and his students.

"The four of us are Madrox."

"Yes," Charles said, smiling. "I can feel it. Four independent bodies connected by one consciousness."
"A hive mind? Like ants?"

"In a manner of speaking, but much more complicated. Madrox, show me what you spoke about."

The four bodies nodded and walked at their own speeds through the forest with Charles and his students behind them. Jamie led while Jane and the twins brought up the rear.

"Here we are,"
Joe said as they came into a clearing.

Camps were scattered all around the clearing, campfires alight and groups gathered around the flames. The campers eyed the newcomers warily. While the majority looked human, a few had radically different skin colors or abnormal features.

"This is it, folks," Jamie said, his arms out. "Welcome to Mutant Town."

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Old 09-16-2012, 09:01 PM   #79
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"This is Vicki Vale reporting from the port of Gotham, where earlier tonight, a reported masked vigilante attacked and incapacitated a heavily armed contingent of men bringing a large shipment of contraband into the city. Reports at the scene claim he left behind a flaming representation of a bat, and some of the apprehended men were claiming the man had giant wings that enveloped them while 'it' attacked them. While there is no proof of this being a mutant sighting, the authorities are not ruling it out. We'll keep you up to date as the 'Batman' situation continues to unfold."



**********

Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock stand on the edge of the crime scene, talking quietly between each other over what just happened here.

The man the media and the mob members they had just stuffed into squad cars called "the Batman" had taken out a heavily armed squad by himself, seemingly unharmed or undeterred. Neither of the detectives thought something like this was possible when they met the man the other night, and both are now dumbfounded on what to do next.

"This isn't good, Jim," Bullock rumbles. "We're the ones who brought Skeevers in the other night. What if someone in the mob tries tying this guy to us?"

"They already know we're two of the good cops in the city, Harvey," Gordon responds before taking a drag from his cigarette. "If the mob wanted us dead we would have been a long time ago."

"Yea, but before we weren't making deals with nuts dressing up like bats."

Gordon takes another puff before tossing the cigarette butt into the port waters beside him, snuffing it out, "We never made a deal, Harvey. And if anyone asks, we've never seen the Batman."

**********

Mayor Oswald Cobblepot paces around the desk in his office, more annoyed than anything with having to be here this late and that the phone call he's waiting for hadn't come yet.

The perceived threat some of his "business partners" saw in this new found vigilante has already been communicated to him, but the mayor wasn't worried. He has held this position for the past fifteen years for a reason. There has been flies in the ointment before, and this one will be dealt with in the same fashion.

This is his city to run, as long as he keeps the right people happy. He doesn't have any plans on changing that now. There's a way to do things in Gotham. And anyone that steps out of line must be beaten back into it.

The phone on his desk rings, and the mayor answers, "It's about time you called."

"My apologies, mister mayor," Police Commissioner Loeb says from the other end.

"Stuff it, Loeb," the mayor hisses. "You know the drill. No connection to Falcone or the others in this mess. And I want all your men focused on finding this freak, and I want him behind bars or dead."

"Dead, sir?"

"You heard me," Cobblepot seethes. "He's obviously dangerous. It would be understandable if your officer's finger slipped."

**********

Eddie Skeevers shifts uncomfortably in the hard metal chair of the interrogation room in Gotham Police Headquarters, waiting for the first cop to step through the door. He's been here for two hours already, handcuffed tightly to the table.

From above him, he hears the camera click off, the door opens, and in steps Commissioner Loeb. Skeevers almost squeaks at the sight of the man, but the commissioner ignores it and begins, "You're in big trouble, Eddie."

"I-know-I-know. But I'll tell you everything. Just don't send me to jail," the prisoner pleads for his freedom.

"Oh, now, Eddie, you know that wouldn't go over well with Mr. Falcone," Loeb responds. "Now I'm going to have to go tell him you're a squealer."

"What!? No!" Skeevers begins sobbing.

"I'm sorry, Eddie," Loeb says as he turns to leave. "But you're a loose end."

**********

"So they say you're a half-bat-half-human mutant now," Alfred says as he enters the bathroom.

I'm standing in front of the mirror, bandaging and icing my shoulder, "Is that so? Well, that worked out better than I thought, then."

"What do you mean?" Alfred asks, coming over to help me with the wrapping.

"I used a tarp to confuse them," I respond, flinching a bit due to the pain. "I think I should make it a part of the regular attire." Alfred raises an eyebrow at me, "You know, a cape."

"A cape, Bruce? How original."

"Theatricality, rumor, and deception can be powerful tools, Alfred," I respond, standing now that my shoulder is fully wrapped. "If the criminals of Gotham think I'm more than a man, it can only help. The more afraid they get, the more likely they're apt to make mistakes."

"The more afraid they get, the more desperate they'll get," the older man says in a mentoring voice.

"Desperation leads to us winning this war, Alfred."

I've always held that the criminal isn't a smart animal. When things are going well, as they have for them in Gotham, they feel like they're invincible. But the minute you start to shake up the status quo, they'll panic to take you down.

"And I intend on winning."

**********

The next morning, Jim Gordon groggily enters police headquarters, heading towards the holding cells. When he doesn't find Eddie Skeevers there, he asks the guard on duty, "Where's Skeevers?"

"Commissioner kept him up in the hotbox last night. Guess he wanted to get some information about him."

Gordon heads up to the interrogation room, to find the video cameras turned off in Skeevers's cell. "Why's that off?"

The man at the station shrugs, "Dunno. Must be on the fritz."

"Yea, well, open the door. I wanna talk to him."

The door buzzes open, and Gordon steps in, only to recoil at the sight within.

Eddie Skeevers lies dead on the table.

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Old 09-18-2012, 08:24 PM   #80
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RAISING THE CURTAIN

Part 2

Peter follows Harry into Norman Osborn's office. They enter the massive room from a "hallway" that ran along a fake wall for a dozen feet before opening up to Norman's work-palace.
And the place is definitely built for show.

From the lavish artwork that adorned the walls of the spacious office, to the twin saltwater aquariums built in two stone pillars that stood in the room's center. To what had to be close to a-thousand books that lined the shelves.



"Peter! Welcome, my boy! How are you today?"

Osborn greeted Peter from behind his handcrafted, oak desk. Harry moved to stand off to the side and out of the way as his father conducted his business with Peter.

"I'm fine, sir"
, Peter replied with a nod.
"Just trying to stay busy."

Osborn nodded in approval, "Don't worry, Peter. I won't keep you long."

"Considering what happened with the break-in and theft, you've made considerable progress with your work. Which is more than I can say for some of the other project heads around OsCorp"
, Osborn began as he leaned back in his comfortably cushioned chair.
"I am most definitely impressed."

Norman pushed the chair back from his desk with two hands and stood, coming around to stand before Peter.

"You and Harry have been friends now for a long time", Mr. Osborn said with a smile.
"You and Harry are practically brothers, and that makes you family, Peter."

"Hell, it's because of your help that he was able to get his act together and go from a screw-up to the man that he is today"
, Norman stated as he glanced at Harry, who visibly felt a awkward from his father's words.

"I owe you for that, son", Osborn said as he looked Peter in the eyes.
"I'm increasing your budget by another one-hundred thousand a month. Hopefully that should help reach your goals faster."

"Wow"
, Peter was actually speechless. That extra cash would help out considerably.
"Thank you, sir..."

Peter's attempted 'thank you' was cut short as his spider-sense went off. Time seemed to slow to a crawl for Peter as his spider-instincts took over. His eyes darted around to find the danger, and that's when he spotted it: the glint of sunlight off of the scope of a high-caliber rifle. A sniper, from an elevated position on the roof of the building directly across of Osborn's office.

"Get down!"


Peter pushed Norman behind his desk, and dove at Harry as the first few bullets tore into the spot were Norman Osborn had been standing.
Peter tackled Harry and their momentum takes them to the cover of the fake wall that conceals the entrance to the office.

"Dad!"

Harry scrambled to his feet in a panic and tried to run out into the office, but Peter grabbed him by the collar and yanked him back.

"Are you nuts!? You'll get yourself shot!"

"My dad's in trouble, dammit"
, Harry shouted in fearful frustration.

"And you getting murdered by a sniper will only make it worse! Now keep it together, Harry!"


The sound of bullets thudding into Norman's desk still echoed through the office. Peter and Harry peeked around the corner of the fake wall to see Norman was still alive and well, but huddled tightly behind the desk as bullets rained down around him.

"Boys! Get out of here! Get help, now!"

"You got it, Mr. Osborn", Peter shouted back as he grabbed Harry and ran out of the office.

"Harry, listen up! Flash is at my office now, go get him and sound the alarm!"

"On it", Harry nods and runs off to get Flash Thompson.

Peter watches as Harry leaves, and when the coast is clear makes his way towards the roof, looking for a quiet place to change into the new costume he had finally finished.

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Old 09-18-2012, 09:34 PM   #81
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Six Hours Later
Ketucky



The Blackbird hovered over the trees and began to slowly set itself down into a clearing. Once it was down and all was set, Scott and Hank stepped out of the cockpit and into the cargo area where the rest of the team was gathered.

"According to Mrs. Waller, we are to be an advanced scout team. Our job is to do reconnaissance and report back to her what we find. Understood?"

"Roger that," Scott said, clipping on his visor.

"Something you should all know. While we were in flight, I reached out and made contact with the group."

"And?"

Charles smiled and turned away, walking out the cargo door with the rest of the team following behind him. The sun was just beginning to come up as they walked through the knee-high grass and into the forest.

"I smell something," Hank said a few minutes into their hike. "People. Lots of people. And... bacon."

"Well, it is breakfast time," a voice said from behind. The team turned and saw a tall, dark-haired man in jeans and a t-shirt standing in front of them. "Which one of you is Charles Xavier?"

"I am," he said, stepping forward. "And you must be Madrox."

"In a manner of speaking. You see, I'm Jamie."

"I'm Jane,"
a dark-haired woman said, stepping out of the woods to their right.

"I'm John," a man shorter than Jamie said, stepping out of the woods to their left.

"I'm Joe,"
an identical twin of John said, coming out behind John.

The two men and one woman walked over to Jamie and the four of them stood in front of Charles and his students.

"The four of us are Madrox."

"Yes," Charles said, smiling. "I can feel it. Four independent bodies connected by one consciousness."
"A hive mind? Like ants?"

"In a manner of speaking, but much more complicated. Madrox, show me what you spoke about."

The four bodies nodded and walked at their own speeds through the forest with Charles and his students behind them. Jamie led while Jane and the twins brought up the rear.

"Here we are,"
Joe said as they came into a clearing.

Camps were scattered all around the clearing, campfires alight and groups gathered around the flames. The campers eyed the newcomers warily. While the majority looked human, a few had radically different skin colors or abnormal features.

"This is it, folks," Jamie said, his arms out. "Welcome to Mutant Town."


"Mutant Town"
Kentucky

Charles and the Madrox bodies known as Jamie and Jane walked through the camp, Xavier taking in the people that they passed.

"What you're doing here is amazing, Madrox. I have to admit."

"Thank you," said Jamie. "I'm from this area, you know. My hometown is just a few miles away. Claremont Township."

"How exactly did this all get started?"

"Well," started Jane. "I left home at a pretty young age. As smooth as I'm able to talk and work the four bodies, that took years of practice and training. You can imagine people in town were a bit disturbed when the four Madrox children walked and talked in unison all the time. My parents were freaked out by it and, when they died I hit the road."

"In my travels," Jamie said, picking up the thread. "I came across plenty of different mutants. Like me, they were all outcasts and needed a place to stay. I came back here for the reason of offering them a refuge."

A young girl ran past Charles and the two Madrox bodies, laughing as an older boy chased after her.

"The boy is Sam, and that's his little sister, Paige," Said Jane, pointing at the boy and girl as they ran. "They're from Kentucky, a few counties over from here. They been with me almost since the start."

"They're so young, what happened to them?"

"First time Sam used his mutant powers, he blew a hole into the side of the school building. Folks got scared. One night, they came for Sam. His parents put up a fight and they were killed. I was in town when all this happened. I was able to fight off the mob and get both of them out with me. We've been running since."

"I'm sorry that they had to go through that," said Charles as he watched the brother and sister playing.

"Don't be," Jane said, placing her hand on Charles' arm. "Now, come with me. I want to show you how we make food here."



*****



The mini-van pulled to the side of the dirt road. The six men climbed out and began to slowly walk through the forest. They were all dressed in camouflage, all of them with hunting rifles. They slowed to a crawl as they got farther and farther into the woods. A half hour had passed before they finally came to a stop.

The man in the lead pulled out a pair of binoculars and peered through them. A few hundreds yards away, he could see a bustling camp filled with people. His eyes fell on a tall, dark-haired woman walking with a man in some sort of blue and gold uniform.

"Bobby," said the man to his compatriot behind him. "Call Creed. We found the Madrox *****. If she's here, her brothers ain't far behind."

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Old 09-18-2012, 10:10 PM   #82
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RAISING THE CURTAIN

Part 3

The cries of panic echoed up the building as Peter is crouched on the roof of OsCorp. He reaches up and adjusts his mask. He had just put the finishing touches on the costume last night, and this was it's first field test.



Peter looked across down and across to the roof of the adjacent building, and the sniper dressed in all black below.

The assassin fires another round then looks up and notices the costumed unknown standing above him. He drops the rifle and immediately takes off. Peter dives and swings into pursuit, but the man is fast.

What the hell is this guy's deal
, Peter analytical mind wondered as he stepped up his pace.
This hitman obviously has some heightened abilities...mutant maybe? In any case, doesn't matter. Can't let him get away!

The man was about to leap across to another rooftop when Peter reached out with his left hand, firing a line of webbing. The webbing hit the man on his heel at the end of his leap, stopping his momentum and causing him to roughly smack into the roof below.

"Thump!"

Peter catches up in time to see the man pull out a large combat knife and cut through the web line.

"Snkt!"

The hitman rolls backwards and onto his feet, reaching into his coat's pocket and pulling out a handgun, pointing it right at Peter's chest.

Spoiler!!! Click to Read!:


"Bang!"


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


Norman Osborn stands, his face unreadable stone, looking out the window towards the building where his attacker had previously been perched. When the bullet barrage halted, Norman dared to peek out, and what he saw amazed him.
A man in costume swung across the gap in pursuit of the assassin. It was like something out of the old war reels. But with the appearance of this "Superman" in Metropolis, and the growing mutant menace it wasn't too much a surprise.
Still, something about this one...

"Mr. Osborn! Sir!"

Flash Thompson and a handful of armed guards rushed into the room, securing the area.

"A little late, Mr. Thompson", Osborn bluntly stated as he fixed his tie.

"Sir, we need to escort you to a secure location until the threat is over."

"Very well", Norman replied.
"Follow me."

Norman spun on his heels and briskly walked out of his office and through the halls of OsCorp, running into Professor Ivo along the way.

"Professor, join me, please."


"What's this about", Ivo asked as he tried to keep up with Osborn.

"The future of course", Norman replied as a sly smile crept across his face.

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Old 09-19-2012, 09:18 PM   #83
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There are many stories floating through these universes. Many legends and fables that have stood the test of time. Stories of heroes and villains fighting for destiny and power.

Every being in the galaxy knows some. The stories of the Last Son of Krypton have inspired countless millions throughout the many worlds. The Batman has mystified and amazed. The X-Men are a shining example of tolerance and progress. The Fantastic Four brought man to the stars.

But some stories slip through the cracks of time and history and become lost in the black reaches of nothingness.

This is one of those stories.

It is a story of a man lost in time and in the sea of destiny. Of one that was thrust into the fires of fate and stood as tall as any man, though he knew the masses would never know it.

The countless worlds of the multiverse owe their lives to him, but they will never know it.

This is the story of Booster Gold.

**********

"Carter drops back, goes through his reads, the end comes around the left tackle and-Oh my! Carter gets hit low, and it looks like his leg buckled under the end. Oh no...the players are motioning for the trainers to come out and to bring the cart. This does not look good for Michael Jon Cart-"

The holoscreen in front of me goes off, and I turn to find my sister's silhouette back lit from the hallway light seeping into our darkened room.

"How many times are you going to watch that?" Michelle says, her voice half filled with pity, half with disgust.

"Don't have anything better to do," I respond groggily.

"Yea, well, mom says hi," my sister says angrily, before slamming the door.

I look back and stare at the door for a few seconds before turning back to the holoscreen and flipping it to the replay yet again. This is the last remnant of my old life. The life where I was destined to be a star. Where I'd have enough money to solve all our problems.

Now all I am is a broken shell of a man.

Turning the screen off again and heading out to the kitchen, I find Michelle cooking dinner, "How was she?"

"No change good or bad," she responds coldly. She's mad I didn't go with her. I'm mad at myself a bit, to be honest. "She got tired easily, of course, so I only stayed for a little."

Mom's been sick for almost a year now, and we're lucky she's lasted this long. Her condition is curable...but we don't have the cash to get the treatment. At least we don't have it yet.

"Listen...Michelle," I say, taking a seat at the table. "I may have found a way to make some-a lot- of money."

"Oh yea? Find it through your new friend Boss?"

The Boss. The one lone crime lord left in Gotham. And he's picked me for a special mission. One that could pay millions and show Gotham that there's still power in the underground.

"What does it matter if it gets us the money we need?" I say, standing and getting angry.

"Right, just like what dad's been saying, right? Gambling ever cent he has trying to win money. That's worked so well so far, hasn't it?" she turns, throwing a towel onto the table. "And then what happens if something goes bad? How would that help mom?"

"Come on, it's me. I'll be fine," I flash her my trademark smile.

"Sure you will," she shakes her head, leaving the room, and slamming her room's door behind her.

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Old 09-19-2012, 11:04 PM   #84
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Previously


Spoiler!!! Click to Read!:

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"Mutant Town"
Kentucky

Charles and the Madrox bodies known as Jamie and Jane walked through the camp, Xavier taking in the people that they passed.

"What you're doing here is amazing, Madrox. I have to admit."

"Thank you," said Jamie. "I'm from this area, you know. My hometown is just a few miles away. Claremont Township."

"How exactly did this all get started?"

"Well," started Jane. "I left home at a pretty young age. As smooth as I'm able to talk and work the four bodies, that took years of practice and training. You can imagine people in town were a bit disturbed when the four Madrox children walked and talked in unison all the time. My parents were freaked out by it and, when they died I hit the road."

"In my travels," Jamie said, picking up the thread. "I came across plenty of different mutants. Like me, they were all outcasts and needed a place to stay. I came back here for the reason of offering them a refuge."

A young girl ran past Charles and the two Madrox bodies, laughing as an older boy chased after her.

"The boy is Sam, and that's his little sister, Paige," Said Jane, pointing at the boy and girl as they ran. "They're from Kentucky, a few counties over from here. They been with me almost since the start."

"They're so young, what happened to them?"

"First time Sam used his mutant powers, he blew a hole into the side of the school building. Folks got scared. One night, they came for Sam. His parents put up a fight and they were killed. I was in town when all this happened. I was able to fight off the mob and get both of them out with me. We've been running since."

"I'm sorry that they had to go through that," said Charles as he watched the brother and sister playing.

"Don't be," Jane said, placing her hand on Charles' arm. "Now, come with me. I want to show you how we make food here."



*****



The mini-van pulled to the side of the dirt road. The six men climbed out and began to slowly walk through the forest. They were all dressed in camouflage, all of them with hunting rifles. They slowed to a crawl as they got farther and farther into the woods. A half hour had passed before they finally came to a stop.

The man in the lead pulled out a pair of binoculars and peered through them. A few hundreds yards away, he could see a bustling camp filled with people. His eyes fell on a tall, dark-haired woman walking with a man in some sort of blue and gold uniform.

"Bobby," said the man to his compatriot behind him. "Call Creed. We found the Madrox *****. If she's here, her brothers ain't far behind."


"Mutant Town"
Kentucky


"I'm just wondering,"
said Rex. He was sitting on a wooden fence with Scott. Together the two of them watched as an eight foot man pulled a plow through a field. Another man walked behind the plow, keeping it straight as a large man kept the plow moving.

"It's a bit creepy, man. That's all I'm saying."

"It'd be just physical. And you do agree with me, right? That one Madrox body looks kinda hot."

"She's attractive, yeah, but maybe she's still partway a guy. Actually, I guess Madrox is three quarters male."

"But it's the one quarter female that counts."

"You know, Rex, you can be kind of a creep sometimes."

Pushing away from the fence, Scott walked through the field towards the large man plowing. By now he had stopped and was taking a breather. As Scott approached, the man's body began to shrank. By the time Scott was in front of him, the eight foot man had shrunk down to below the six foot Scott's chest.

"I've seen you somewhere," Scott said, holding his hand out for the man.

"Probably on the tube," he said, taking Scott's hand and shaking it. "Used to wrestle. Name's Al Pratt."

"Yeah! That's right. 'The Mighty Atom.' I remember watching you on CWF. You were great."

"Thanks, kid. Been out the game a few years, but it's good to see somebody still remembers me."

"Why'd you leave?"

"Well," Pratt said, rubbing the back of his neck. "Turns out the CWF kinda frown on you being a mutant. You can shoot steroids into your arms until your heart explodes and your pecker disappears, but you better not be a mutant."

"Sorry to hear about that."

"Don't be. I'd rather be out here making a difference than throwing some sequined sissy around a ring."

Pratt nodded at the man guiding the plow and they started to walk across the field with Scott beside them.

"I know this may not be the time or place, Mr. Pratt... but do you think I could have you autograph?"



******



The SUV turned off the dirt road and on to the main highway. Joe Madrox drove the car while his twin sibling John rode shotgun. In the back of the car, Jean, Hank, and Jefferson rode in silence. At the Madrox siblings request, they had changed out of their combat uniforms to civilian clothes.

"So, umm," Hank started. "John? Joe? I am highly curious about how I would address you."

"You just call us Madrox," John said, turning to face the three teens.

"No offense, dude," Jefferson squirmed in his seat. "But I'd prefer you to keep all four eyes on the road."

"I'm fine," Joe said without looking back. "I've learned to multitask so well. You should have seen me when I was younger. All bodies talking and moving in synch. It was like out of a horror movie."

"The Village of the Creepy Children," John said with a chuckle. "But you'd be surprised how well I've learned to multitask. I mean, right now as I'm talking to you and Joe's driving, Jamie is giving your professor a tour of the commune while Jane fends off the flirting from your classmate Rex."

"Ha," Jean chortled. "You want him to back off? Tell him he can have a date when he gets his little leakage problem under control."

There was a moment's silence between the two twins. Suddenly, both them broke out into fits of laughter.

"Yeah," Joe said. "That seemed to do the trick."

"I'm fascinated on exactly how all this works between the four of you. Is it psychic? Some sort of exchange of chemical signals?"

"Xavier could probably tell you better than I could," Joe said. "He's been trying to figure me out since you all came upon us."

The twins looked to the right as they passed by a sign welcoming them to Claremont Township and announcing the town had a population of four thousand. The SUV went through main street, the twins trying their best to sit down low in their seats as they drove passed stores and any pedestrians they passed by.

At the end of the street, John swooped into a parallel parking spot and turned off the car. He looked down the street while Joe kept looking ahead.

"The reason we wanted you to come with me," John said, reaching into his pocket. "Is that the camp needs some supplies from town. Stuff from the hardware store, a few items from the grocery store."

Pulling a list from his pants pocket, John handed it to Jean. "I'd go in, but people in town know me. All my bodies. And since I didn't really leave here on good terms, the less we're see the better."

Joe handed Jean some money and nodded at her. "Others have went into town before, but I'm getting worried. It's a small town, people talk. So, some new faces will help with suspicions."

"Alright," Jean said, taking the money and looking over the list. "Jeff and I can get this easy."

"I assume I will stay in the car as well? Or perhaps you were thinking of sending me into Petsmart?"

Jefferson and Jean chuckled and climbed out the SUV. They walked down main street towards the stores while Hank sat in the car with the Madrox twins. His eyes caught a campaign sign hammered into the ground, suggesting to anyone within eyesight that they should re-elect a man named Creed.

"Creed," Hank said, nodding towards the sign. "Is that someone you're familiar with?"

"Graydon Creed," John said. "He's mayor now. I grew up with him."

"About fifteen years ago," Joe said, picking up the thread. "He nearly killed Jamie and John."

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Old 09-20-2012, 05:17 AM   #85
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IC: Donald Blake

"Really? You're gonna kick out the amputee?"



Guess it's a bit of a rhetorical question. But nevertheless, the woman sternly points to the entrance of the bar and gestures to the bouncer, who's making his way over through the crowd. I want to tell her off for having the nerve to insist that I've had too much - I mean, since when is six shots too much? - but even I know that it's not a battle worth even the slightest chance of winning. So by the time that tall, dark, and steroidy finally breaks through the crowd, I throw up my hands in surrender and sigh, grabbing the crutches that're leaning against the barstool.

"No, c'mon. Really, with that? I know, I know. I'm gone."

I don't quite remember the first step taken, but I know that gravity had way too much of a hand in it. Because before long, I find myself down on the floor, desperately grabbing for a solid surface to pull myself back up. I'm so wasted that I don't even hear if anyone laughed, but I could see the look on the face of the bouncer. Halfway disgusted, he musters up enough pity to help me up, at least. I gratefully accept the hand, but only because I just want to get the hell out of here. Turning towards the entrance, I begin to hobble away, but not before turning back to the woman tending.

"Oh, and about what I said earlier? I was lying. They're clearly fake."

She angrily resists the urge to toss the glass in her hand at the back of my head, but I save her the trouble and just make my exit. Having already turned myself into a wreck, and probably having just thrown away the last bit of class left in me with that little retort, there's no reason to cause any more of a scene than I have. Heading out to streetside, I begin to slowly make my way to the curb, ready to cross the street and walk three more blocks back to campus. I'd say it was a miserable ****ing night, but honestly, they're all starting to feel like that.

Jesus, what happened? Everything was going great a year ago. Got enrolled in medical school, and I was finally on my way to a degree. I was gonna be a doctor, like I'd always wanted. Then it all just stopped. Grades started declining, I lost focus, started having those weird ass dreams, and everything hit rock bottom. Therapy. Unemployment. It's all a mess. Since then, it's just been a sea of misery and aimless wandering, trying to pick up the pieces and figure out what went wrong.

And shockingly, turning back to alchohol didn't improve my situation.

"Don?"

It takes me a full minute to register that someone just called out to me. Partly because of the innebreation, but mostly because I was too busy thinking about my crap existence and what little I've made of it. So it only makes me feel worse whenever I finally turn around and see the person coming towards me. I freeze in place, my heart starts racing, the tequila on my breath seems stronger than before. And the last person I wanted to see tonight is now less than three feet away from me.

"Hey! Don, it's me!"

Yep, it's her, alright.

Jane Foster.

Sorry, *Doctor* Jane Foster. Because I guess it had to be one of us.

I'll give her some credit. She actually seems genuinely happy to see me. It'd be a pleasant surprise if she was, given the last few times we'd spoken. Then she gets closer. I try and look away to avoid what's inevitably going to happen, but it becomes all too clear by the time that she stops in place, the auroma of booze a bit too thick for her to be able to ignore. Regardless, she at least tries, slinging her purse over her shoulder and putting on a forced smile.

"Yeah, I figured it was you. Didn't expect to see you on this side of town, though. How've you been?"

"Uh..."

Acting as if I'm trying to clear my throat, I hold a closed fist up to my mouth, just to try and stave off my breath. But it actually ends up coming across as even more awkward than if I would have just spoken normally, so that's just great. I'm officially looking like a jackass. I'll go ahead and blame the alchohol on that one.

"Er, I mean. I'm doing good, I think. I guess. What about you?"

She raises an eyebrow at my behavior, but doesn't really react beyond that. Perhaps politely oblivious. "I'm doing alright. Just had to run across the street to pick up a few things."

Indicating the bag at her side, stuffed to the brim with groceries and medical supplies, she shrugs.

"I figured it'd be better to walk there than waste gas driving to the store across Harlem in the middle of the night. Guess you thought the same thing."

I nervously rub the back of my neck. "Heh. Uh, sure. Yeah."

She's getting suspicious. I can tell by the way she's eyeing me. I need to cut this short.

"You know, I actually meant to call you. Haven't seen you in any of my classes lately, and your attendance record isn't looking very good. Wondered what was up."

I smirk. "Wow. They keep an attendance record? Didn't think I was that special."

She playfully rolls her eyes. "You wish. No, they actually do keep a record for every student, your's just happens to be the most glaring."

"Ouch. I don't know, though, that sounds to me like they're paying too much attention to mine..."

A small smile on her face, she fights back a laugh and nudges me on the shoulder with her fist.

"Come on, stop that. This is serious. You and I both know that you were doing really well. You should've been set to earn your doctorate in a few months, but if you keep cutting class..."

I wave off the assertion. "Yeah, I know. I get it. And honestly, I've meant to improve, really. I've just been kinda under the weather the last..."

"Three months?"

I'm taken aback by that. It's been that long? And they've still kept me around?

"Jesus, has it really been that long since I showed up to class?"

Jane nods. "That was when you started missing, at least. One day out of every week, then it started to gradually increase. And not just in my seminars, so I know it's not me. So, what's really going on with you? Is something wrong?"

I try to form the words to explain my actions, but this late and this drunk, I don't even know what the words are. Especially if they're being directed at someone who's supposed to be one of my instructors, nevermind whatever we used to be. Sometimes I wonder if she even remembers that. Was I just that one part of her life, or does she still think about me at all? I've thought about her. Many times.

Wow, now I actually feel like I need another drink.

"Jane, it's not... I don't want to miss out on school. Nothing's wrong. It's just difficult right now."

She narrows her gaze. "Difficult? I don't see how that's..."

That's when she takes a glance at the neon sign above us. Kirby's. She knows the place pretty well, because we used to go here one night out of every week when we were living together. But she also knows that I only accompanied her so that she could indulge, not because I ever wanted to get back into drinking. Especially so soon after the car accident.

So when she looks back down on me, the pieces started to slowly be placed together, it doesn't take long for her to realize what I was doing in there. I wasn't escorting anyone, this was all me. Which could only mean one thng, a fact made abundantly clear whenever she suddenly realizes what she's been ignoring since the conversation began.

"Jesus, Don. You can't be serious."

Like some idiot carjacker who crashed his getaway vehicle in the river and already knows he's been caught, I try to go into an immediate, laughable defense. Not exactly 'it was the one-armed man!' territory, but it might aswell be. Doesn't even matter anyway, I can tell that she sees right through it before the words even escape my lips.

"Look, if I wanted a lecture from you..."

She's starting to become visibly irritated, massaging the bridge of her nose.

"No, clearly, you wouldn't want that. God, I should've known what you were doing the second I walked up, but I actually gave you the benefit of the doubt. You've really started drinking again? What on earth are you thinking?!"

"I..."

"No, actually, I take that back. You're not thinking at all."

Before I can be given another chance to defend myself, Jane lifts her bag from the street and hurriedly pushes past me, making her way towards the end of the curb with her grip tightening over the bag. I wish I could say she was full of crap for acting this way, especially since it's been so long since she pretended to even give a damn in the first place, but...

Look at me. Barely in the middle of my 20's, and I'm practically washed up. Don't even really qualify as a pre-med, let alone close to a doctorate. Started drinking again, even though I damn well know why I stopped in the first place. There's a reason I couldn't come up with a defense. And as much as it pisses me off to see her walk away like this, I've got to be honest. I don't deserve to stop her.

"Jane, wait. Please, you've got to believe me, it isn't as bad as it..."

To my surprise, she actually turns around, but just to give me one last glare. And worse, it's that accusatory look that she knows I hate. It was the last look she gave me on the night she walked out and told me we were through. If this is even nearly as bad as what happened there, then I know for sure that I've screwed up.

"As bad as it is? You're right, it's alot worse. Maybe you'll finally get it when you lose the other leg."

Turning back towards the street, she ignores a car that screeches to a halt, just barely missing her. But that last insult is certainly enough to make me feel like I just got ran over by a car. Can't even bring myself to look up as she finally decides to completely part ways.

"Have a good evening, Don. You've already ruined mine."

She's disappeared by the time that I can bring myself to look. Leaving the streets to seem even lonelier than they did before. My cheery disposition already gone - y'know, that uppity feeling you get whenever you're tossed out of a bar for acting like a complete tool? - I simply take a deep breath and sigh, swallowing up the last of my pride. Knowing that no amount of liquor in the world is gonna make me forget what she just said. Hell, it's probably the last thing she'll ever say to me again.

Bottling up the grief, I begin to make my way across the street aswell, praying that the two of us won't be forced to see eachother again whenever I make it back to campus. Then, to my dismay, I feel a drop of water hit the tip of my nose. By the time I've looked up to see where it came from - as if it were gonna come from anywhere else - thunder begins to clap across the skies and I see lightning scatter among the clouds, bringing a heavy sheen of rain along with it.

Oh. Well that's great.

Thanks world, I really needed that one.

Christ. Least tonight can't get any worse...


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Old 09-22-2012, 04:22 AM   #86
Andy C.
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Flying across the city, I see smoke rising from the streets of Little Bohemia. Police sirens wail as squad cars speed towards the scene, with fire engines and ambulances not far behind. When I arrive at the heart of the riot, it's every bit as bad as I'd feared.




Earlier today, Lexcorp announced it was expanding its urban renewal programs, buying out several blocks of low-rent housing projects in the area. As soon as the papers were signed, the buildings were condemned, their tenants evicted.

Hundreds of families live in these neighborhoods, and suddenly, every one of them has been made homeless. It's no surprise that they're furious.

The MPD have set up a perimeter to try and contain the rioters, keeping them back with pepper spray and tear gas. The rioters have been responding by throwing bricks and lighting fires. In all of the chaos and roiling humanity, it's hard to see if anyone's injured, but it's more than likely. So far no one's been killed, but at this rate, it may only be a matter of time.

"WE WANT JUSTICE!!!" shouted a man through a megaphone, standing on the side of an overturned bus. "Lexcorp has poisoned our society! They've programmed our minds! They've invaded our bodies! They've bought our dignity and our humanity for their technology! And now they're kicking us out of our homes! Well, no more! NO MORE!!!!"

As the man with the megaphone whips the crowd into a furor, I see Lois Lane huddled behind a dumpster in a nearby alley, frantically tapping data into her tablet computer. A glass bottle shatters against the dumpster, and she shouts into the crowd.

"Hey! Watch it, you jackass! You could hurt someone with that!"

"We will not let Lex Luthor buy and sell our future!" shouted the man with the megaphone. "We're going to take him out of his precious tower and--"

As the man rants on, someone throws a bottle with a lit rag in it--a Molotov cocktail. As it arcs through the air, I swoop down and catch it, blowing out the flames.

"Everyone, please," I call out to the angry rioters below. "This isn't helping anyone."

When the rioters see me, they actually stop what they're doing. There have to be at least two thousand people, and now they're all staring at me in disbelief.

I have no idea how I'm going to resolve this. I don't have the slightest idea of what to say. But all eyes are on me now.

Don't blow it, Clark.

"I know what's happened to you is terrible," I start off. "Unconscionable, even. But this kind of wanton destruction isn't the answer. This has to stop."

I'm not sure if they're going to buy it. I hope so.

"And who are you?!" the man with the megaphone shouts back, angrily. "Some high-tech lap-dog for Lexcorp?! Some mutant freak like the ones who trashed San Diego?! Who the hell do you think you are to lecture us when we've lost our homes, our lives, everything?!"

"I'm on your side, pal," I say, with a hint of irritation. "But if you want justice for what's happened, you need to get everyone on your side. Destruction and violence isn't going to do you any favors."

I hear the sound of heavier trucks pulling in. Glancing over my shoulder, I see a line of black trucks pull up behind the police barricade. Out of them march men in black heavy armor, carrying high-tech ordinance and wearing an L logo on their suits.



L-Sec troops. Luthor Security, a subsidiary of Lexcorp, is a private military branch merged from PMCs like Aegis Victory and Blackwater USA, before being bought out and repurposed as hired guns to protect Lex Luthor's investments. They're deployed at Lexcorp facilities all over the world, but to see them here, in the heart of a major American city, is jarring.

Turning back to the man with the megaphone, I float into the air and approach him.

"What's your name?" I ask.

He stares at me uneasily, then to the L-Sec soldiers who muscle their way past the police, then back to me.

"R-....Rudy," he stammers. "Rudy Jones."

"Well, Rudy, I need you to do something for me," I say to him. "I need you to tell these people to stop, to find somewhere to stay for the night and regroup peacefully in the morning. I need you to do that now, okay?"

"But.....you can't just--"

"You see those men back there?" I say, pointing to the line of mercenaries. "Those men are trained killers. If this gets out of hand, they won't hesitate to open fire on you. I'll deal with them, but I need you to tell everyone to break it up before someone dies."

Rudy Jones looks at the soldiers, then back at me.....then puts the megaphone to his mouth again.

"Everyone......everyone, listen........we need to--"

*BLAM!*

The sound of gunfire cracks through the night air, and the rioters collectively jolt and begin to scream. In response, the L-Sec soldiers ready their weapons and prepare to fire.

Scanning the scene, I see that the sound of gunfire was all it was.....just the sound of gunfire. There are no traces of smoke from a fired shell, no ripples in the air showing me a bullet's trajectory, nothing. Just a loud noise....

Unfortunately, the split-second it takes me to reach that conclusion is the same split-second that the L-Sec officers squeeze the triggers on their weapons.

"NO!"

I start to move, and the world slows to a crawl around me. I see flashes of fire erupting from machine gun barrels, the flares of superheated gas as they propel lead towards the horrified sea of protesters.

The first bullet is streaking through the air towards a young girl in a tattered T-shirt. She can't be more than nineteen years old, and she doesn't even realize that her life is about to come to an end....

....before I snatch the bullet away, moving at far better than the speed of sound.

Intense heat builds up behind my eyes, and I let loose, disintegrating as many of the bullets as I can before melting the guns that are firing them. I kick up a powerful wind and a massive amount of dust as I move, disarming the L-Sec soldiers one by one before they can get off a second volley.

As I look around, I see that even though I'm faster than speeding bullets, I'm still not quite fast enough.

At least five people are wounded by the soldiers' first volley. Two others are already dead, shot through the head or the heart.

"Everyone get out of here!" I shout to the panicked rioters. "Get to safety, now!"

Turning, I see the overturned truck where Rudy Jones was standing just a split-second ago.....

.....and looking below it, I see Rudy sprawled on the pavement, a pool of blood beginning to spread from the wound in his chest.

I fly towards him, focusing my vision on a molecular level, then telescoping it to see through molecules and look inside of him. When I first learned I could combine my microscopic and telescopic sight that way, I nicknamed it my 'X-Ray Vision.' And just like a surgical X-ray, it's going to help me save his life.

Rudy has a punctured lung and a nicked artery. He's still breathing, but the lung is filling up with blood fast. If I can't get him to medical attention soon, he hasn't got long.

"Come on, come on, where is it...." I say, looking for the exact place that his artery was cut. "There it is...."

I focus the heat in my eyes to as tiny of points as I can make them, as if my pupils themselves are squinting. This focuses the heat beams into two tiny surgical lasers, which I use to close the artery, then cauterize the wound.

There's still the punctured lung, though. I still need to--

"Superman!" I hear Lois call out from behind cover. "Behind you!"

I turn to see one of the L-Sec trucks deploying a large rocket launcher from its top. Before it can fire, I speed towards it, ripping the truck's reinforced titanium chassis like tissue paper, crushing state-of-the-art ceramic armor plating like eggshells.

The L-Sec officers scatter as I hold the wreckage of the truck over my head.



"This stops, NOW."

"*Ahem*"

I hear a voice, projected along an incredibly high-pitched buzzing noise.

"Hello, Superman," the voice says. "This is Lex Luthor. Given the wavelength frequency this message is being sent on, you're the only creature with less than four legs that can hear me at the moment. I've been cataloging your abilities ever since you first started interfering with my work. Pokolistan, Symkaria, Relaysia, all remote installations. But in light of what you've just done, well.......I think it's about high time you and I met face to face. Unlike you, I'm not hard to find."

I look at the chaos and devastation around me, at the fleeing civilians, panic-stricken cops, and de-fanged mercenaries......then I look up to the top of the Lexcorp Tower, so tall it's plainly visible no matter where you are in Metropolis.

"Hey, do we have a doctor anywhere around here?!" I hear Lois shouting to the scrambling emergency workers as she tends to the critically wounded Rudy Jones. "Hey, you two! You two with the stretcher! This man's dying here, he needs help!"

As Lois flags down paramedics (and then, presumably, prepares a long list of interviews about what just happened), I take to the skies, before the police or the baffled L-Sec officers realize that I'm leaving.

I apparently have a meeting with an old friend.....and a very powerful enemy.

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Old 09-22-2012, 07:04 AM   #87
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The Sentry streaks across the night sky like a golden comet. He can already see the blazing fire, working its way up the apartment complex on the horizon. He can also see the frightened faces in the windows and hear the sobs of those trapped. He's gotten here just in time.

The flame is licking up the sides of the building, but it has yet to pass the fifth floor. With any luck he should be able to stop it there and save the building. Its more than he was able to do with the dorm.

He puts his head down as he barrels towards an open window just above the rising flames. The impact certainly won't hurt him, neither will the flames, but old human instincts, like protecting one's head, die hard.

The Sentry glides through the window, accidentally ripping chunks of siding and brick work out of the surrounding wall in the process and finds himself amidst a panicked group of residents crowding the corridors of the complex.

The people are shocked into stunned silence by his sudden appearance. Good. That means they'll listen.

"Alright everyone. I need you all to stay calm." He says, hovering slightly above the crowd to give himself more height so he can see them all "The upper floors are still safe. Please make your up as far as you can, taking those who can't help themselves with you."

A few urgent shouts come back his way and he motions with his hands for calm. As he speaks he is keenly aware that he is being filmed on cell phone cameras "Please. Just move. I promise you'll be safe."

That last line, surprisingly, appears to do it. The fear is still there, as is the panic, but its subdued, as if swallowed up by a feeling of calm. The children in particular, have calmed significantly. Those who were sobbing have stopped. The mass of humanity moves urgently but orderly past the Sentry and towards the upper floors.

For his part, the Golden Guardian wastes no time in floating past the crowd towards one of the elevators. Once he's satisfied that no one is close enough to be harmed he pulls the steel doors open. Heavy smoke is traveling steadily up the shaft. Ignoring the smoke, the Sentry floats into the shaft and pulls the doors shut behind him, then drifts one floor down where he pulls a second set of doors open and steps into an inferno. Wasting no time the Sentry reaches into a wall where he expects to find water pipes. The wall itself offers no resistance and after some reaching around his fingers find what their are looking for. He pulls, yanking the pipe free and tearing it open. A burst of water erupts from the wall. Its not much, but if he can repeat the process a few more times before the fire spreads upwards he should be able to pin it here and with any luck even begin pushing it back.

Then he sees it. At first he thinks it must be a trick of the light, an illusion brought on by the distortion caused by the hot air. But then he sees it again.

"What in the world?"

Crawling towards him sideways on the wall is some kind of.....creature. The thing looks like a six legged insect, but it is the size of a large rat. At first he thinks its coming towards him but then he realizes that its making its way towards the hole in the wall from which the flame dousing water are emerging.

The Sentry hesitates, unsure of what to do and the thing surprises him by bursting into white hot flames near the source of the water. The water is instantly replaced by steam and the Sentry flinches instinctively as it washes over him. There is a brief sputter then the water starts pouring out once again and once it does a dozen more of the bizarre creatures begin to emerge from holes in the walls and from around the corners of the burning corridors. All of them making their way towards the water. All of them seeking to snuff it out, and suddenly the Sentry understands why the flames had spread through the dorm and the complex so quickly. These were no ordinary flames.





The Sentry is quick to shake off his surprise induced hesitation. He bounds forward, quickly closing the distance between himself and the incendiary creatures. He moves with blinding speed, scooping up the creatures as he gets within arm's reach and is not surprised when they combust, erupting into several balls of flame as he pulls them towards him. The flames do him no harm and he works quickly to smother then inside the folds of his cape.

Once he had dealt with the creatures, he could put out the fire and save the building. At least that's what he was thinking when the creatures abruptly turned and began retreating.

"Oh no you don't!" Bob says. He moves to follow but the creatures retreat through holes and vents too small for him to fit through. Pausing, he strains his ears and finds that he can hear the clack of their pointed legs as they make their way through burning vents and shafts throughout the building, all heading down. He can also hear the sirens of the fire trucks outside as they arrive on the scene.

Secure in the knowledge that the NYFD will be able to put out the blaze now that the creatures are in retreat, the Sentry once again forces open an elevator door and this time he plunges into the shaft and allows himself a second of free fall before his golden aura intensifies slightly as he begins a controlled descent. Its not long before he reaches the bottom of the shaft. The creatures, which are only just ahead of him are here along with something else. He can hear it moving around, making a sound that he can't identify, as he pulls the metal doors of the shaft open and floats into the blazing inferno which is the building's underground parking garage.

He squints, trying to see through the flames and smoke, allowing his ears to guide his eyes and those eyes widen at the sight they behold.

The thing is clearly some kind of insectoid and it bears striking similarities to the many smaller fire bugs now swarming around it but it is larger, more powerful. It's buzzing wings, which are responsible for the sound which led the Sentry to it have a wing span of nearly ten feet. The thing itself stands well over 7 feet tall. Its head, which reminds the hero of a bee's, swivels sharply and aggressively in his direction, mandibles clacking loudly.

"What are you?" The Sentry asks the monstrosity instinctively. He doesn't expect it to answer and so is doubly surprised to hear it speak.

"Not...Want....Figgghhtt" The thing says haltingly. It clearly struggles to speak but is obviously intelligent.

Well you've got a funny way of showing it the Sentry thinks, but he stows that response and instead raises his hands with the palms held open and outwards.

"Neither do I pal." He explains "Lets just put out these fires and then we can talk."

"NOOOO!!!" The thing suddenly snaps "No trussssst! Mussst.....escaaaapppe!."

"Escape?" The Sentry gives the creature a confused look. "Escape from what? Me?"

The Sentry gets his answer, but not from the creature which cowers as they are both suddenly aware of a bright light that appears without warning behind the bug like thing.

The Sentry initially reacts to the light by averting his eyes but he quickly remembers that there is no need for such a precaution and he opens his eyes and, albeit carefully, focuses his gaze on the bright light. The light is unbelievably bright and it seems to intensify the more intently the Sentry looks into it but he is still able to make out a man in armor. The man stands tall, almost regal and the firestarting bug, which had seemed so large a second ago, cowers at his feet.

"You are able to withstand my bio flares." The armored figure stepping out of the light observes "Fascinating."

"What's going on here pal? Who the hell are you?"

"Fascinating." The armored man repeats "But disrespectful."

The man waves his hand and an arc of kinetic forces shoots forward and slams into the Sentry. It knocks him off of his feet and sends him crashing backwards through a wall of fire and smoke.

With the Sentry removed the armored figure turns his attention to the bipedal bug. "Aaah Lampyridae" He sighs sadly "You understand that you are forcing me to do this don't you?"

"Pleassse Massssster." The bug sequels with fire belching from its mandibles "Lampyridae....Obey Now."

The man shakes his head with obvious sadness and puts an armored gauntlet on top of its head "Would that I could believe that my child. But you have done too much, caused too much damage. You should never have left our sanctuary. Now you must be punished."

The thing begins to quake in terror. It struggles to rise, to escape but the armored man casually holds it in place with his one hand.

"I am truly sorry Lampyridae." He says as The Sentry reemerges several feet away from them "Know that I, your creator, have failed you at least as much as you have failed me."

With that the man issues a discharge of energy through the palm of his gauntlet. Lampyridae begins to scream but the scream is cut short as the creature is vaporized.

"No!" The Sentry shouts as he charges the armored man. It is a purely emotional response to seeing a creature that had been begging for mercy so casually snuffed out.

The Sentry can feel resistance, some kind of force field protecting the man, once he gets close. He has no doubt it would be impenetrable by conventional means. To him its effect is not unlike having to wade through water and he pushes through it and grabs the armored man roughly by the collar.

"You didn't have to do that!" He argues "It would have surrendered!"

The armored man grimaces. "Unhand me!" He snarls and a burst of energy leaps from his eyes and strikes the Sentry hard in the chest. He's ready for it this time though and he stands his ground.

"You won't take me by surprise again." The Sentry explains to the now surprised man "Now don't make me hurt you-AGGH!"

The Golden Guardian is blown backwards by a pair of energy bolts which erupt from the armored man's hands. There's pain, but nothing he can't handle and he moves his hands in front his body to protect himself and readies himself for a fight when the beams suddenly stop causing him to stumble forward a half step at the sudden absence of force pushing against him.

"You are fascinating." The armored man says "I had planned on eliminating you but there may be some benefit in studying you."

"You planning on studying me from jail?" The Sentry asks defiantly.

The man's armored face contorts into a grin "Of course not. Now if you'll excuse me we are about to have company and I am not interested in any further exposure this evening."

Then there is another bright flash and the armored figure is gone. A brief instant later and a team of fire fighters bursts into the garage with hoses and extinguishers leading the way. The Sentry looks at them then trains his ears on his surroundings. They confirm that the blaze has been brought under control.

"Hey pal." one of the firefighters says "You ok?"

The Sentry looks around, there is no evidence that the armored man was ever here and nothing remains of the fire bug.

"Hey guy?" The firefighter presses



"Hmm. Oh. I'm fine sir. Is everything alright with the building? Did everyone get out alright?"

"Sure did." The firefighter says with a nod "Thanks for your help by the way. Some of the boys upstairs came across people who said that you got them out. Between that and the Dorm you're a real hero."

"No more than you are." The Sentry says, forcing a smile, his mind still racing as he tries to understand the evening's events.

"Listen man, I'm sure you wanna go do whatever it is you do, but there's chatter on the radios." The firefighter says "The Chief and some FBI agents are top side and they'd like to have a word with you."



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Old 09-22-2012, 07:45 AM   #88
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William looks at the small baggie full of white powder as he turns it over and over again in his fingers.

He's laying back on a bed in a cheap motel room. His legs bent at the knee at the foot of the bed. His, still shoe clad feet firmly planted on the floor of the drab room.

The powder is tempting, there's no denying that, but now that he's got it William is having second thoughts. He thinks of his mother, how drugs destroyed her life. Thinks of how they almost destroyed his life. William was never a junkie but he was a recreational user and he wasn't so naive as to imagine that using hadn't contributed to his downfall.

Downfall.

It sounds so epic. Like something that happens to a hero who can't fight the good fight anymore. William didn't have any illusions about what he was. He had no doubt that such haughty terms and images didn't apply to him in the slightest, but downfall was a hell of a lot easier to wrap his head around than death.

There it was again. DEATH.

He couldn't shake it. Try as he might. He had died. Had felt himself die. And yet here he was.

A light rapping on the door snaps him suddenly into the here and now and he sits up to greet Tara as she enters the room. She's carrying a six pack of energy drinks and has a lit cigarette dangling precariously from her black lipstick painted lips.

He watches as she draws the moldy curtains shut over the room's windows and considers once again the option of just walking away. Then she turns and smiles at him and his resolve disappears like early morning dew.

"Come on man. Lay it out." She says eagerly as she drops into a wooden chair. It, a table, another chair and two beds are the only furniture in the room.

William hesitates slightly then pulls himself up and deposits himself in the chair opposite her. She lifts a leg, resting a foot at the edge of her chair with her knee up against her chest and takes a long drag of her cigarette while William expertly lays out two lines of white powder.


As soon as he's done Tara lays her smoke down on the table so that the lit end is protruding off of the edge of the wood. She then leans in and snorts a line in one smooth motion.

To his surprise the young girl takes the hit in stride. She straightens up, retrieves her cigarette and takes another drag. Only the hint of new and wild energy burning behind her eyes gives any indication that she's on something and even then, only if one possesses a keen eye used to spotting such things.

"Damn girl." William says "How long have you been doing this stuff?"

"Longer than you can imagine."
Comes the playful reply.

"Yeah well I'm an old hand at this myself." William declares, misplaced competitiveness building up inside him. Tara thought she was a real hot shot and from what he could tell she probably was, but he wasn't about to outdone by some girl. Even if he did feel some strange affinity for her.


William leans in and takes the hit. He feels the familiar burning sensation and the taste in the back of his throat. Then leans back, energized and excited.

"Hooyah!" He shouts as he slams a fist on the table "That's what I'm talking about!"

Across from him Tara smiles. William smiles back.

"What?" He asks

"Hold still" she replies as she reaches towards him with her free hand.

Two slender fingers touch William in the middle of his forehead. Then everything goes black.

Black as Death itself.





The body of William Matthews sits up and opens its eyes to see Tara snorting another line.

The eyes are jet black. No pupils, no irises. Just thick blackness.

"Sister" Thanos says with William Mathews' lips "It is......good to see you again."

"I'll just bet it Dear Brother." Tara's reply is laced with sarcasm.

Thanos grins mischievously "You wound me with your implications sister." He says with mock disbelief "Have I not always been your favorite sibling?"

"Just because you're the least boring doesn't make you my favorite anything." Tara replies. "I still remember what you did the last time you were out."

"Ahh." Thanos sighs knowingly "That was-"

"Something we don't need to talk about." Tara cuts hims off firmly "Mother says its time for you to awaken so here I am awakening you."

"Indeed." Thanos nods "Clearly you have not yet accomplished your goal." He adds as he moves to a dirty mirror on his right and begins inspecting himself in it.

"Give me a break will ya?" Tara protests "Things aren't as simple as they used to be. The other side is stronger now than its ever been."

"Yes." Thanos agrees. He tilts his head upwards, sniffing the air with a look of disgust "I can smell it."

"It'll be awhile before you can come all the way back." Tara explains "In the meantime we'll have to start small."

Thanos gives his sister a disapproving look "Start small? Am I to strangle a puppy then? Or push an old woman into traffic?"

"Easy big guy." Tara replies "I said small not microscopic."

She pulls an newspaper out of from under her chair and holds the front page open for him to see while pointing at a story halfway down the page. The story describes how a masked hero, pictured in the article, saved a bus full of tourists when their vehicle's brakes failed.

"Whaddya say?" Tara asks, her playful demeanor returning "I think he owes us and doesn't even know it."

Thanos' grin returns and grows wider still.

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Old 09-24-2012, 09:25 PM   #89
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"You look like hell," Barbara says as I shamble into the lab. And I do look like hell. I have a black eye from a wild punch from one of the gangsters last night. And my shoulder is still wrapped, hampering my movement. "I take it the grapple didn't work?"

"Oh, it worked perfectly," I smile, sending it into a fake, painful grimace. "Let's just say I went a little overboard with the testing. I ended up going through my neighbors window."

"Smooth move, Tarzan," she laughs.

"Yea, well...I've never been the most graceful person in the world."

"Clearly," she chuckles softly, inspecting the grapple in her hands. "You mechanical guys. I don't get it. If it can't be done in a computer, I don't want to deal with it."

"Then why aren't you dealing with the computers, Ms. Gordon?" a voice says from the doorway. We both turn to find Lucius Fox standing there with raised eyebrows.

"Oh, on it boss," she responds, giving me a wink.

"She's something huh?" Fox asks with a sly smile.

"She's...very intelligent," I respond, getting the grapple ready for a demonstration.

"Brilliant, really," he confirms. "Some of the best computer programming and hacking abilities I've ever seen. The bigger companies have tried to poach her more than once."

I look up, "Why hasn't she left?"

"Oh, she's a bit too noble for her bank account's good," he smiles a grandfatherly smile. "Rambles on about the good of Gotham or something. I don't know. So how'd you do with the grapple gun?"

I smile and take the gun off the table, heading out to the atrium of the building, empty now that the work day has started. I look at Fox, raising the grapple above my head and ask, "You ready?"

Before he answers, I fire the gun, and it attaches to the railing on the second floor, and hoists me up. I vault myself over expertly, even if a little tender, and smile down at my new boss.

"Well done, Mr. Malone. Why don't you come down and we can discuss your pay?"

After the contract is finished, Fox goes to leave, but before he does, he slides open the chest that the prototype grapple gun was. "Mr. Malone, wasn't there another prototype in here?"

"Oh, yes, sir," I nod and shrug. "Had to cannibalize it for the working one."

He nods and leaves, and I add a permanent weapon to my arsenal.

**********

"So how'd it go?" Alfred asks as I enter the door, tossing my work bag on the couch.

"We now have a steady form of income," I smile at him. "And I have a grapple gun."

"You also have this," he says, handing me my suit. "I used those bullet proof vests you brought back from the raid the other night. Inlaid them in the compression material. Gave you the...cape. And well gave you a few special touches."

I hold it up in front of me and smile, "Police scanner is in there?"

"Of course," he nods. "And a few pouches on the belt for those improvised smoke bombs you love so much."

A breaking news flash comes on the TV, and I turn the volume up. Vicki Vale appears on the screen and begins, "Thanks, Jim. I'm standing outside Gotham PD headquarters where Edward Skeevers, suspected ring leader of last night's drug ring bust was found dead in his holding cell..."

"Well, that's a happy coincidence," Alfred deadpans.

"Looks like it's time for a demonstration."

**********

The rain begins to fall asJim Gordon steps out onto the precinct roof for a smoke. The wind whips up a bit, and he has a problem lighting his cigarette, but eventually manages it. As something catches his eye, he turns, startled.

"Gordon," I say as a flash of lightening illuminates the night sky as well as me, perched on the water tower.



"We need to talk."

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Old 09-24-2012, 09:47 PM   #90
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RAISING THE CURTAIN

Part 4



The assassin's bullet seems to slow down as Peter's spider-sense and instincts kick into survival mode. Like a scene from the Matrix, Peter ducks back, narrowly avoiding bullet.

The merc tilts his head sideways, like a curious dog before raising his gun and unloading the entire clip. Like a deadly ballet, Peter nimbly leaps through the air at the villain, twisting and turning and tumbling his way through the hail of gunfire.

Peter's fist reaches the assassin just as he is pulling out another clip as the empty one falls to the ground, knocking the man off of his feet and onto the roof.

"Umph!"

Peter carelessly wades in, leaving himself wide open as the assassin quickly recovers, catching Peter with an uppercut from the butt of his handgun. The blow had surprising strength behind it and knocked Peter end over end and sent him crashing to the roof.

"Jesus Christ, do you pack of wallop!"


Peter shakes his head and kicks himself up and squares off against the villain as he points his reloaded firearm at Peter.

"Somebody must've eaten their spinach today", Peter says as he fires a web and flips into the air, dodging another hail of gunfire.

"Popeye would be so proud of you!"


With amazing speed Peter fires a webline that strikes the target, and with a yank Peter rips the gun from the villain's hand.

"Yoink!"

Peter swings in, his two feet burying into the assassin's chest and sending him tumbling off the side of the roof.

"OOF!"

"No..."

Peter began to feel panic...he didn't mean to hit him that hard...

Peter rushed to the edge just in time to see the villain land on his feet on the rooftop below.



The assassin draws twin .45s from his coat and opens up on Peter.

Holy ****!

Peter lets his instincts take over as his body twists and contorts in inhuman ways as the bullets fly harmlessly past him. As he comes in at the assassin, Peter fires two quick weblines and catches both guns.
Peter pulls on the weblines, snatching the villain's weapon from his hands once more.

"Yoink!"


Peter attacks, swinging wildly at the villain's head, a shot the man easily ducks. As he avoids the attack, the assassin draws a large combat knife and slashes at Peter.

"Swsh!"


Peter barely avoids the attack, thanks to his spider-sense, by leaping back just out of the blade's reach.

"Yikes! Careful with that thing! You can poke somebody's eye out!"

Peter leaps back a bit, putting some distance between them. Time seemed to slow to a crawl as Peter and the assassin squared off against each other in dead silence.

Okay, Parker, time to use your head. This guy's good, and obviously not human. Have to play this one smart, not like a reckless ass. Firstly, some general info would be nice...

"So...you got a name there sunshine?"

The assassin doesn't move a muscle for many tense moments before straightening himself and tightening the grip on his blade.

"Onomatopoeia", the villain announced softly as he tucked his chin and charged in at Peter.

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Old 09-24-2012, 11:44 PM   #91
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Previously


Spoiler!!! Click to Read!:


Quote:
Originally Posted by Byrd Man View Post


SoHo
12:13 AM


Norah Winters unlocked the door into her apartment building and walked through the lobby towards the mailboxes. Her purse was slung over one shoulder, a laptop bag slung over the other one. She got her mail from its box and began the five story trudge up to her apartment.

After a five minute trek, she appeared the fifth floor landing and walked through the hallway towards her apartment. Norah stuck the key into the lock when she felt movement behind her.

"Good evening, Miss Winters," a calm voice said behind her.

She turned, seeing three men standing in the hallway in front of her. They were dressed in black three piece suits with black ties and black leather gloves. On their heads were black hoods that hid their faces from view.

"The hell is this?" She said with a raised eyebrow. "I don't know who you guys are, but you got about three seconds before I--"

Norah was cut off as the man closest to her attacked, grabbing her neck and slamming her head it against the door.

"We do not wish to hurt you, ma'am," he said, increasing the pressure on her neck. "We want your notes on the serial killings. The killer your paper calls the Murmur Killer. Give us what we need, and we will leave you in peace. Resist, and you will not like the results..."

Thrashing out at the man, Norah got her neck free enough to speak.

"Go to hell."

With his free hand, the masked man ripped the laptop bag from Norah's shoulder and passed his back to one of his cohorts. While the other two men began to inspect the computer, their leader pressed harder on Norah's neck. "This is the price for refusal..."

Norah gasped for air, trying to claw the man with her fingernails. The nails just slid on his jacket sleeves and gloves, unable to find purchase. She continued to fight against his iron grip. Black spots were forming in her vision and she could feel herself losing strength.

"Hey!" A voice shouted from behind them.

Norah felt herself go weightless, the pressure from her attacker gone. She hit the floor, gasping for air while the sounds of struggle went on just a few feet away.

She rolled over and saw a man in an NYPD uniform fighting the three men. Norah had seen her share of fights. Boxing matches, drunk idiots trying to fight on the street. Even bare knuckle boxing. The fighting they were doing was like something out of a movie. The way the police officer moved, the way the three men moved. It was like something out of a violent ballet.

Sweeping a leg down, the officer tripped one of the masked men up and somersaulted over him, striking his two compatriots in the neck with karate chops. While he had speed and skill, they still had numbers. Banding together the three men slammed him against a wall, two held him down while another one bashed into his face with fists.

"We know who you are, Richard Grayson," the man said in between blows. "We've been watching you. You and your friend need to stay out of this case."

Norah watched as the two men threw the officer (Grayson? Why did that sound vaguely familiar?) into the far wall and loomed over him as he picked himself up.

"The next time both of you cross the Black Glove, it will be your last time doing so."

And, without another word, the three men stepped back into the shadows and seemed to vanish. Norah stood up looking around for any trace of them.

"Those bastards," she said hoarsely, rubbing her neck. "The hell was that about."

"Where's your laptop?" Grayson said from the floor. He was gingerly touching his jaw. Norah looked around in the hallway. She saw her purse, but the computer bag was gone.

"Son of a *****."

"They wanted your notes," Grayson said, standing. "Looks like they got them."

"No, actually," she said, picking her purse up. After digging through it, she pulled out a black USB drive. "The laptop has almost all my work stuff... except the Murmur files. I keep it all on here. And it stays with me 24/7."

"A bit paranoid, aren't you?"

"Unless those three Mormons from Hell were actually from Time, I'd say it's obviously a well-justified paranoia."

"Touche."

"Speaking of paranoia," Norah said, turning to the officer. "The hell are you doing here? I didn't recognize you at first, but now I do. How'd you find me?"

"You gave me your card at the crime scene."

"Yes, but I don't seem to recall having my home address on my cards."

"I'm a cop, remember?" Grayson said with a playful smirk. "You gotta love the Patriot Act. "

"Hooray for liberty," she said, pulling her keys out of her purse.

"So, no thanks for saving you?"

"I'm grateful, Officer, but you still haven't told me what you're doing here."

"I want to help you with the case. I've been trying to work on it on my own, but I don't seem to be getting much traction. I was coming over here to compare notes."

"Yeah, seems you weren't the only one who tried to do that tonight. So, what, you're a gloryhound trying to make a name for himself?"

"Just trying to help out where I can. I feel like my talents are wasted rounding up drunks and prostitutes--"

"Well, use some of that super flying kung-fu and I'm sure the alkies and hookers will round themselves up."

"--And, even though I'm off-duty, I really should call this one in... You were assaulted and you apparently have information relating to an ongoing police investigation."

"Oh, I see, now," she said with a scowl. "Blackmail..."

"No, I'm just letting you know my options. And besides, once those goons find out they didn't get what they wanted, they'll be back for the information."

"Yeah, the Black Glove. Catchy name. Speaking of names, they seem to know yours."

"Yeah," Grayson said, looking away. "I need to make some calls about that."

"Well, you can do it inside," she said, unlocking her apartment door. "I'm tired of standing in the hallway. Call your cop buddies."

"Yeah, he's not really a cop."

Norah opened the door and led Grayson inside.


SoHo
3:40 AM


Norah Winters woke with a start. She was on her couch, an afghan draped over her. She checked the clock beside her couch and saw it was nearly four. How long had she been out? And what was she doing before she went to sleep.

Nora rubbed her neck, pulling back at the soreness she felt. Suddenly, it all came back to her. The men in black suits, the cop who had come to her rescue. He had beaten the men back... but then?

Cursing, Nora threw her cover off and rushed to her bedroom. Resting on the nightstand was a ceramic statue of Big Ben. Nora flipped it over and saw a blank spot where something had once been. She growled and tossed the statue on to her bed. That was where a note was resting onvtop of the comforter.

Picking it up, she looked at the handwritten message scrawled across the paper.

Nora,

Sorry I had to run out on you like that. And also sorry about the USB drive. You'll find it on your kitchen counter. You'll find all you data is there still, but I had to make a copy for my own sake. I took the liberty to secure your apartment against any threats in case those men return.

Thanks for your cooperation and help,
Officer Richard Grayson


"You son of a *****," Nora hissed, balling up the paper in her hand.



Midtown
3:42 AM



Dressed in his Daredevil gear, Dick cut through the air on the cable connected to his billy club. Disconnecting the line, he gracefully twirled in freefall through the air. There was a smile on Dick's face as he shot another line out and waited for it to grab.

To him, this was the moment he lived for. Those few seconds that he was rushing towards the ground, hoping and praying his grapnel line caught on something before he could hit the ground. Most people who wanted a rush would do something like mountain climbing, running with the bulls, or driving a race car. For Dick, all he needed was the high-rises of New York and his special billy club.

Finally, the line went taunt and Dick swung upwards in a wide arc. At the peak of his ascent, he disengaged the line and went into freefall again. This time, he fell only a few feet down to the edge of the building that was his destination.

Dick hit the gravel covered rooftop and rolled his body smoothly across the surface. He sprung up in a quick motion and came to a stop in the middle of the roof. Sliding his billy club into his belt, Dick activated the bluetooth inside his cowl.

"Tell me you got something now."

"Oh, I do indeed,"
Matt Murdock said on the other end of the line. "Those files you sent me seem to be very insightful. Miss Winters is quite the investigator. I'm curious, what exactly did you do to get them?"

"Hey, I'm a former carny, remember? Grifting's in my blood. What do Nora's notes say about this guy?"
"Doctor Michael Amar, forty-five. A surgeon by trade, he runs a clinic in Spanish Harlem. I don't know how Miss Winters figured it out, but Doctor Amar apparently had a sister who went missing twenty-four years ago. Trista Amar was a white female with red hair."


"Anything else to tie him to the murders before I go barging in?"

"Let's see... Apparently, his apartment is within easy commute of all the abduction sites. And he's that rare New Yorker that has a car. Easy to get the victims in and out and then dump them."

"Alright, I'm going in."

Crunching across the gravel, Dick found a skylight and gently pried it open. He slid down into the building below. During the day, this was Amar's clinic. If Amar was indeed the Murmur Killer, this may be his kill spot. All Dick had to do was find some DNA.

Dick stayed low and sneaked through the doctor's office. The smell of disinfectant was heavy in the air as he passed empty and dark examination rooms. Suddenly, he stopped as he felt something squish beneath his boot. He looked down and saw a pool of blood.

Looking further down the hall, he saw a body lying on the floor. He inched closer and saw the dead and frozen face of Doctor Michael Amar staring upwards at the ceiling.

On his chest were a pair of black gloves.

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Old 09-26-2012, 05:48 AM   #92
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SOON TO BE

Oh, God... is it still chasing me?!

My mind has been reeling for the last couple of blocks.

Well, perhaps that is an understatement. The truth of the matter is, I've been going nothing short of crazy. My mind feels practically detatched, seperated into two worlds of frightful paranoia and a failure to comprehend, while my body franctically pushes itself forward into an endless sprint down the sidewalk. Several cars have stopped just short of running me over while I've raced across their streets. I've noticed countless pedestrians who've given me glares that I only see in passing, but none seem eager to stop me in order to ask what's happened to get me so incredibly worked up. I must look absolutely terrified. Despite the whirlwind of it all, I don't care. My mind isn't trying to process logic anymore - it's simply trying to figure out what's happening. All that I can do in the meantime is run.

The most consisent question that I keep asking myself isn't what that thing was. Because honestly, I know what it isn't. It isn't any animal that I've ever seen in nature, witnessed on television, or learned about in school. It certainly wasn't a man. It stood several feet taller than anyone could possibly pass for with any kind of costume. I consider the possibility of mutation, but nothing that hideous has ever appeared in public before. It didn't even seem to walk like it was once a man. So as to what it could actually be, I haven't a clue.

But as I said. That isn't the question I keep asking myself.

What could it have possibly wanted with me? One would think I were driven to hysterics for believing it did in the first place, but I know that I didn't just imagine it when it turned to me and yelled. It pointed directly at me with some kind of obvious intention. Even called me something that I couldn't even hear because I was so scared out of my mind. So to hell with hysterics, I know exactly what happened back there. Somehow, I just know. I can't even explain it. It acted like it had just found me. Like it'd been searching for me in the first place. Why?! How could it even know who I am?! None of it makes any sense!

Finally, I discover the good sense to at least turn a corner. Running in the same direction isn't exactly the most potent way to lose something that's chasing you. Completely out of breathe, I make sure that the area around me is populated and kneel over, hands on my knees. Heart's racing faster than it ever has before. Sweat almost pouring out of my skin. Need to get ahold of yourself, Diana. It can't hurt you if you don't see it. And for the last few blocks, whenever I've taken a glance back, I realize just that. I haven't seen it at all. That buys me a little bit of time, at least.

Scanning my surroundings for anything to bring me back to Earth, my eyes dart over to a phonebooth across the street. God, of course! The police. I can call the police, and I can get some kind of protection for the night. I just have to explain that I'm being chased by a nine foot tall furry man-creature with giant horns that can speak and walk on hooves. Shouldn't be a problem at all.

Pulling out my cellphone, I try to turn it on.

Won't even start. Battery's completely dead.

Tonight just keeps getting better, doesn't it?

Okay. Need to focus. My initial skepticism aside, I wipe the sweat from my brow and stand, never hesitating to hurry across the street. Even if I have to make up some kind of a story to get them to take me in, it'll be worth it to at least know that I'm safe. Failing that, I can call Zola. Or Cassie, or Steve, one of the doctors at school. I'd even be willing to call Mom, and she's halfway across the country. I just need anyone that can guide me to safety.

"Hhh. Hhh. Okay. Breathe..."

Entering the booth, I close it behind me and grab the phone, dialing 911 with immediacy. My brain working so fast that I don't even remember to put in the change before dialing the number. Resisting the urge to hit myself on the head for being so stupid, I reach into my pockets and dig in, searching for any...

Oh.

Oh, no.

Change. I don't have any change.

"No! This isn't happening! Damn it!"

Smashing the phone repeatedly against the side of the booth, as hard as I can, I finally stop giving into frustration and allow the cord drop, walking back out onto the street and frantically looking around. Despite my abundant fear of the contrary, it appears that nothing's coming after me. I even gave it a chance, wasting my time with the phone. Maybe I'm safe again. Maybe it stopped chasing me and decided to go elsewhere. That wouldn't explain why it was after me in the first place, but it's a comfort I'm willing to take.

If it's still after me but isn't here, then it can't possibly see me and follow me back to campus. Which is exactly where I need to go. It's only a few blocks away, too, so I'll be able to run the rest of the distance and call the police from there. Not the most sound strategy, given that it means alot more running - but at this point, that's my only option. Pacing myself back into a sprint, I head down the street and grimace, begining to feel raindrops. Rumbles of thunder in the sky soon following, making way for a light shower that immediately leaves me drenched. Were it any other night, I might be somewhat bothered by that.

Right now, I just want to wake up from whatever bizarre dream this is.

IC: Donald Blake

"Be about thirty-two fifty."

Okay, so maybe I just broke down and paid for a cab. Even though I was only three blocks away from campus and misled the driver to into going a longer route just so I could get my mind off of Jane. So what? It's not like I'm gonna remember anything from tonight anyway. I think I'm allowed to be that pathetic. Well, maybe not allowed. Maybe just drunk enough to be that pathetic. Having comfortably placed myself back in the empty seat, it takes me a moment to want to get up. And even then, I have the crutches to move out of the way, so it takes about two minutes before I can put myself in a position to pay the fee. And by then, I've completely forgotten the amount he said.

"Sorry, what? What was the total?"

The guy looks back at me like I'm an idiot - granted, he wouldn't be wrong - and points down, indicating the tab bar attached to the seat directly infront of me. I stare at it for a moment, shake myself out of the drunken stupor, and dig into my pocket for the cash. Then hand him two twenty dollar bills, opening the door and placing my leg out to get a proper footing. The cabbie prepares to give me my change, but I wave it off, not in the mood to want to deal with anything.

"Eh, keep it. Useless to me anyway."

He takes a look down at the change, looks up at me, then turns back around with a shrug.

"Whatever, kid."

Nearly taking offense to 'kid', I ignore it and place my crutches firmly onto the street, lifting myself up with ease. I barely even have time to close the door before the cab speeds off, leaving me by myself. ***hole. If I'm sober enough tomorrow morning to at least remember the guy's name, I'm gonna make it a point to never take a ride from him again. Name on the plate said Lockely, or something. Christ, I already don't remember. At least I'm home, because I need to get to bed, quick. If I'm already spacing out on stuff that easy, there's a higher chance that I'll do something stupid before the night is up.

God knows, I wouldn't want to make it worse.

Least no one's around to see me.

Three steps later and that's already changed. Because just as I walk myself over to the sidewalk nearing the medical center, I begin to hear frantic running steps hitting the ground behind me. Rolling my eyes, knowing that I'm gonna have to sidestep for some fratboy idiot, I'm actually surprised by the time that I turn around. It's actually an idiot soriority chick. My eyes widen, however, realizing that I'm also directly in her path and risking an imminent collission.

"Whoah!"

She's the one that realizes what's happening and tries to stop, nearly tripping herself up in the process. But gravity has a way of making sure that neither of us walk away from this unscathed, so closing my eyes and bracing myself, I feel her body smack against mine and we both fall over into the wet grass.

Opening my eyes again, I groan, feeling her weight leaning down on my chest as she tries to pull herself up. Honestly, despite the circumstances, I shouldn't complain. This is the closest to physical contact I've made with a woman in years.

"Uh, hey. You mind? I'm kinda not fond of having my chest crushed in, so would you---"

That's when I get a clear look at her, just as she lifts her head and looks back, worried.

Oh my god. It's her. The girl from my dreams.

Well, technically, the girl resembling the girl in my dreams. She's been in a few of my classes, and awkwardly enough, I think I've actually spent half of the time of said classes staring at her from afar just because of it. The resemblance is striking, virtually uncanny. So whenever she sees me, I kind of get why she doesn't look too thrilled.

"Oh. Hi there."

She stands up, looking down at me. Silent, and still almost looking like she's terrified of something.

I think her name's Donna.

No, not Donna. Diana.

That's right. Her name's Diana Prince.

"Diana, right? You, uh. You might not remember me. I was in..."

Without so much as an apology for knocking me down, she takes a couple of steps back, looks around, then turns and immediately goes running in the opposite direction. Leaving me still lying in the grass, the steel of my crutches digging into my back. I simply watch her leave, still transfixed on the bizarre encounter that just happened. Either I was too drunk or she thought I was being a creep, because one of us just went bat****. And I don't think it was me.

Oh, who cares? None of my business, anyway. I probably spent too much of my time thinking about her in the first place. She's a random girl that I've said all of two words to, I'm probably little more than a vaguely stalker-esque figure to her. Thinking about it, her reaction was probably justified.

Still doesn't suck less to know I've completely struck out tonight.

"Damn. Damn, damn..."

Pulling myself up, with great difficulty, I grab onto the crutches and re-arrange them. Then slip and fall back onto the grass. This has got to be the worst night I've had in recent memory. So wasted that I can't even stand up straight. Well, I mean. Besides the fact that I wouldn't be able to normally, anyway.

"Damn!"

Finally managing to get myself into a stand, I catch my thoughts wandering off with me. But just as I do and finally look down, I notice something odd. In the puddle next to me, something just moved. Like something just stepped in it. I look up for whatever reason, and... what I see next isn't exactly what I'd call the most possible thing I've ever seen, but it's certainly enough to give me pause.

The outline of something shifts through the rain. Nothing's standing even remotely close to me, but the rain's clearly parting against a solid surface. A living surface, standing at about nine feet tall. It's not possibly the wind, and whatever it is, it's slowly moving towards the dorms.

Rubbing my eyes in disbelief, I start to wonder if I'm hallucinating from the alcohol.

But it's... it's still there.

It's still there.

What the #$@%?

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Old 09-27-2012, 09:43 PM   #93
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RAISING THE CURTAIN

Part 5

Onomatopoeia rushes at Peter, slashing at him with a large combat knife. Peter easily dodges the attacks though, thanks largely to his super-human speed and agility.

Ono jabs at Peter, trying to stab him in the ribs, but Peter twists his body and avoids the strike. Peter reaches out and grabs Ono by his wrist, crunching it and twisting, making him drop the blade.

"Crrrnch!!!"

"Clink!"


"Wow, Onomatopoeia is right...", Peter sighs as he headbutts the villain and, still holding onto his wrist, yanks Ono down and right into a rising knee.

"Unggh..."

Ono staggers backwards as Peter wades in.

"That whole verbalizing sound effects thing must make you the life of-"


But Onomatopoeia recovers quickly and sidesteps Peter's telegraphed haymaker. Ono lashes out, catching the prone Peter in the throat with the edge of his hand.

"Thock!"

Peter falls to the roof, gasping for breath as he clutches his throat. Onomatopoeia is on him, punching him across the face. Peter instinctively kicks up with all the strength he can muster, bucking the assassin off of him.
Both Peter and Ono pick themselves up at the same time, and charge at each other.
Peter though ducks and tackles Ono in mid stride, his momentum carrying them both over the roof.

"OOF!"

Peter reaches out and fires a webline at the building across the street. The line catches and holds just in time for Peter to grab Ono by the collar and swing across, just avoiding the pavement.
Civilians on the street seem to pause in shock as they watch Peter swings in hard, releasing Ono so he slams hard into the side of the building.

"Okay...had enough yet, Slugger"
, Peter asks as he flips backwards and lands gently on top of a parked work van.

Peter notices the mass of innocent people all around them as they begin to panic as Onomatopoeia slowly get back to his feet and starts to methodically walk towards Peter.

Not good. Last thing I want is somebody getting hurt. Have to end this quickly.


Peter fires two weblines simultaneously at Ono, but both shoot past his head. Ono tried to avoid them at first, but when he realized they wouldn't hit him he watched them move past and stick into the side of the building behind him.
Ono turned back in time to see Peter's heels smash right into his nose, shattering it.

"Crrrnnch!"

"You must be quite the Scrabble player, I'd wager", Peter says as he punches the villain hard in the gut, lifting him off of his feet for a full second.

"UFff..."

"Well, this has been a fun workout and all"
, Peter continues as he elbows the killer hard across his jaw, dropping him to one knee.
"But it's time for the curtain to fall."

The villain staggers up and tries to engage Peter, but Peter is just too fast for the hurt Onomatopoeia. Peter ducks back, avoiding the blow, and springs forward with his fist leading the way, smashing Ono across his jaw and sending the villain flying backwards a good dozen feet.

"It's over, Ono...you're going to jail for-no!"


Peter stops his advance in a moment of panic as he see a beaten and defeated Onomatopoeia slowly stand back onto his feet and take a nearby little girl who was frozen in fear hostage.

"Back...offff..."
, Ono stated strangely as he whipped out a butterfly knife and put it to the girl's throat.

"Okay", Peter said as he calmly took a step back.
"Just don't hurt her...I'm backing off..."

A crowd of people who had either bravely or stupidly stuck around now watched the tense scene unfold, none daring to speak, let alone move a muscle.

Onomatopoeia smiles wide under his mask.

"Slice..."


"NO!"

Peter reacts like lightning, firing twin weblines. The first one hits it's mark, the back of Onomatopoeia's knife hand, and with an instinctively quick jerk, Peter yanks the knife away from the girl's throat.
And the second webline hits it's mark, the little girl. As the Peter yanks the knife away with the other webline, he pulls the little girl from Onomatopoeia's grasp and into his arms.

"It's okay...", Peter says in as calm a voice as he can muster.
"It's going to be okay, you're safe."

"Now go. Get to safety"
, Peter says as he puts the girl down and steps forward at Onomatopoeia.

Peter wastes no time, charging in at Onomatopoeia with spectacular speed, ducking under a wild, desperate swing, and catching the villain with a rising mule kick right to the chin.
As Peter springs up into the air and lands onto the front side of a building, Ono spins and twists in the air, landing hard onto sidewalk below Peter and on his back, out cold.
Peter doesn't take any chances and webs Ono up.

The battle finally over, Peter pauses a moment and finally really takes in the scene around him. Dozens of awestruck people are around him, probably still trying to figure out what it was they just really witnessed. Peter noticed a few cellphone camera's recording him as the sounds of sirens drew closer and a few beat cops were running onto the scene.

"And that's my cue..."


Peter fired a webline and swung away, quickly disappearing from sight...

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Old 09-27-2012, 11:53 PM   #94
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Previously


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"Mutant Town"
Kentucky


"I'm just wondering,"
said Rex. He was sitting on a wooden fence with Scott. Together the two of them watched as an eight foot man pulled a plow through a field. Another man walked behind the plow, keeping it straight as a large man kept the plow moving.

"It's a bit creepy, man. That's all I'm saying."

"It'd be just physical. And you do agree with me, right? That one Madrox body looks kinda hot."

"She's attractive, yeah, but maybe she's still partway a guy. Actually, I guess Madrox is three quarters male."

"But it's the one quarter female that counts."

"You know, Rex, you can be kind of a creep sometimes."

Pushing away from the fence, Scott walked through the field towards the large man plowing. By now he had stopped and was taking a breather. As Scott approached, the man's body began to shrank. By the time Scott was in front of him, the eight foot man had shrunk down to below the six foot Scott's chest.

"I've seen you somewhere," Scott said, holding his hand out for the man.

"Probably on the tube," he said, taking Scott's hand and shaking it. "Used to wrestle. Name's Al Pratt."

"Yeah! That's right. 'The Mighty Atom.' I remember watching you on CWF. You were great."

"Thanks, kid. Been out the game a few years, but it's good to see somebody still remembers me."

"Why'd you leave?"

"Well," Pratt said, rubbing the back of his neck. "Turns out the CWF kinda frown on you being a mutant. You can shoot steroids into your arms until your heart explodes and your pecker disappears, but you better not be a mutant."

"Sorry to hear about that."

"Don't be. I'd rather be out here making a difference than throwing some sequined sissy around a ring."

Pratt nodded at the man guiding the plow and they started to walk across the field with Scott beside them.

"I know this may not be the time or place, Mr. Pratt... but do you think I could have you autograph?"



******



The SUV turned off the dirt road and on to the main highway. Joe Madrox drove the car while his twin sibling John rode shotgun. In the back of the car, Jean, Hank, and Jefferson rode in silence. At the Madrox siblings request, they had changed out of their combat uniforms to civilian clothes.

"So, umm," Hank started. "John? Joe? I am highly curious about how I would address you."

"You just call us Madrox," John said, turning to face the three teens.

"No offense, dude," Jefferson squirmed in his seat. "But I'd prefer you to keep all four eyes on the road."

"I'm fine," Joe said without looking back. "I've learned to multitask so well. You should have seen me when I was younger. All bodies talking and moving in synch. It was like out of a horror movie."

"The Village of the Creepy Children," John said with a chuckle. "But you'd be surprised how well I've learned to multitask. I mean, right now as I'm talking to you and Joe's driving, Jamie is giving your professor a tour of the commune while Jane fends off the flirting from your classmate Rex."

"Ha," Jean chortled. "You want him to back off? Tell him he can have a date when he gets his little leakage problem under control."

There was a moment's silence between the two twins. Suddenly, both them broke out into fits of laughter.

"Yeah," Joe said. "That seemed to do the trick."

"I'm fascinated on exactly how all this works between the four of you. Is it psychic? Some sort of exchange of chemical signals?"

"Xavier could probably tell you better than I could," Joe said. "He's been trying to figure me out since you all came upon us."

The twins looked to the right as they passed by a sign welcoming them to Claremont Township and announcing the town had a population of four thousand. The SUV went through main street, the twins trying their best to sit down low in their seats as they drove passed stores and any pedestrians they passed by.

At the end of the street, John swooped into a parallel parking spot and turned off the car. He looked down the street while Joe kept looking ahead.

"The reason we wanted you to come with me," John said, reaching into his pocket. "Is that the camp needs some supplies from town. Stuff from the hardware store, a few items from the grocery store."

Pulling a list from his pants pocket, John handed it to Jean. "I'd go in, but people in town know me. All my bodies. And since I didn't really leave here on good terms, the less we're see the better."

Joe handed Jean some money and nodded at her. "Others have went into town before, but I'm getting worried. It's a small town, people talk. So, some new faces will help with suspicions."

"Alright," Jean said, taking the money and looking over the list. "Jeff and I can get this easy."

"I assume I will stay in the car as well? Or perhaps you were thinking of sending me into Petsmart?"

Jefferson and Jean chuckled and climbed out the SUV. They walked down main street towards the stores while Hank sat in the car with the Madrox twins. His eyes caught a campaign sign hammered into the ground, suggesting to anyone within eyesight that they should re-elect a man named Creed.

"Creed," Hank said, nodding towards the sign. "Is that someone you're familiar with?"

"Graydon Creed," John said. "He's mayor now. I grew up with him."

"About fifteen years ago," Joe said, picking up the thread. "He nearly killed Jamie and John."



"Mutant Town"
Kentucky



"What do you mean?" Amanda Waller asked from the other end of the line.

Charles was inside the Blackbird, sitting at a console and hooked up via satellite phone to the leader of Project Darwin.

"I mean that the situation here is delicate. It's not the Brotherhood rallying point that we thought it was."

"And what is it exactly, Doctor?"

"It's... complicated," he said with a sigh. "I need some time here. These people that are here, they are mutants. But they are not hostile in any way."

"Whatever it is you're doing, it's damn sure not your job. The mission was to go in and do recon, then come back and report what you found. I expect you to follow orders."

"If you wanted someone to follow orders, you should have got a soldier."

"Keep talking like that," hissed Waller, "and I'll have you lined up against a brick wall and shot. Court-martial style."

"Look." Leaning back, Charles sighed and rubbed his temple. "Give me a few more hours here. After that, I'll gladly fly back to Utopia and fully debrief you on what happened. Please, Amanda. Despite what you may believe, my intentions here are pure."

There was a long pause on the other end of the line while Charles waited for Waller's answer.

"Fine. Can't believe I'm doing this, but you have three hours to get your asses into the air. Any later than that, you'll be in neck-deep ****. The kind you can't talk yourself out of."

"Thank you. We'll be back before then. Xavier out."



*****


Paige Guthrie ran through the forest as fast as she could. Just a few seconds ago, she could hear the leaves crackling behind her as her brother Sam steppe don them while he gave chase. In the back of her mind, Paige knew her and Sam were getting a bit too old for this. He was fourteen and she was going on eleven. Too old to keep playing tag. But she liked it. It reminded her of those summer days she and Sam would play tag with their sister, Melody, and cousins Jay and Jeb. Those were the days when everything was good and nothing was hard. Back before she and Sam had lost Melody and her parents, back before Madrox helped them out and took them with it on its quest across the country.

Jumping down from a small bluff, Paige rolled down a hill and popped up on her feet quickly. Turning around, she didn't see Sam behind her. Breathing heavily, Paige turned back around and jumped at what she saw. A man dressed in camouflage, a hunting rifle slung over his shoulder.

"Hey there, little girl," he said with a smile. He held one hand up while the other reached behind him. "Don't worry, everything's gonna be alright."

Suddenly, his smile disappeared and he moved fast, striking Paige on the head with the butt of his rifle. With a scowl, he spat on the unconscious girl and turned back to the ten or so camouflaged men behind him.

"Alright," he said, nodding towards the direction Paige had come from. "Bobbie, get the little mutie girl. The rest of us are rendezvousing with Creed. Let's go."



*****



Charles stood with Jane Madrox, watching as Scott and Rex helped Jamie pass out supplies and food packets to the people in Mutant Town.

"It won't be long, Madrox. I can put it off as much as possible, but the government is going to find out about what you're doing here."

"I know," the female body of Madrox said with a sigh. "It's my own fault, really. I should have barred you all from coming in as soon as you showed up. But you are right, though. This was bound to happen eventually. What started as me with two scared kids has become more than I could have ever intended."

"Have you thought about going public? Hiding out in the woods can only last for so long."

"We go public with this, and we have a target on our backs. Every single politician with an anti-mutant agenda will be trying to regulate us and turn the settlement into a ghetto, every anti-mutant militant will try to burn us to the ground. You want to kill mutants? Go to Mutant Town, it'll be like shooting fish in a barrel."

"I never said it would be easy. Gaining the peace and solitude we seek is never easy. But it is worth fighting for. You have to make a choice, Madrox. Are these people you care about so much, are their hopes and wishes worth fighting for? Or will you just sit on the sidelines while the rest of the world hates our kind and only believe the anti-mutant propaganda?"

"Who exactly are you trying to convince?" Jane asked with an arched eyebrow. "Me or yourself?"

"And I thought I was the mind reader..."

"It's in the body language. No telepathy necessary."

"Whatever you decide to do, just know that the road will be long and hard. But the destination is well worth it."

Suddenly, Charles' eyes flickered and he turned around, looking towards the edge of the camp. "Something's wrong..."

Just then, Sam Guthrie burst through the underbrush. Winded and panting, he ran towards Charles and Jane Madrox, gasping for air.

"Paige," he wheezed out. "I can't.. I can't find her."

"She went missing?" Jane asked. "Where did you last see her?"

"Over by the ridge..."

"Wait," Charles said, holding a hand up. Closing his eyes, he reached out through the forest. His eyes suddenly snapped open and he looked at Jane. "Someone's coming. At least a dozen of them. All armed. All of them filled with hate..."

That was when a gunshot echoed through the air and the screams began.

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Old 09-28-2012, 05:32 PM   #95
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"Neptune was the first planet found through mathematical prediction rather than direct observation," says Coach Bates, droning in a bored tone in our first period College Prep Astronomy class. "In 1821, Alexis Bouvard published tables detailing the orbital patterns of Uranus, but many astronomers found substantial deviations from those tables, showing the gravitational influence of another planet. In 1845, John Couch Adams and Urbain Le Verrier, working independently, reached the same conclusion that-- excuse me, what are you doing?"

In the desk next to me is a new kid, a tall skinny guy with combed-back red hair, tapping away at his smart-phone, completely disinterested in the class.

"Young man, just because you're new doesn't mean the rules don't apply to you," Coach Bates says sternly. "No phones in class."

"I need it," says the kid, not even looking up from the phone.

"No, you don't 'need' to be sending text messages in my--"

"I need my phone," says the new kid, giving Coach Bates an impatient glare, "because I've been using your lecture time to graph a model for a revised education system, one that would integrate the latest and best learning methods to ensure every student gets the education and training they need in the real world.....not to mention get rid of useless old cretins like you."

"Why, you stuck-up little punk," the Coach says, turning red with anger. "How dare you--"

"No, how dare you, says the red-headed kid, standing up to get in the Coach's face. "How dare you take the wonders of the universe and condense it into a bunch of dry, boring, out-of-date 'facts' that you regurgitate at us, then call that 'education.' How dare you waste everyone's time by clinging onto a subject you clearly have no interest in just to keep your position in the faculty--you're not even a real teacher, you're a football coach!"

He turns back to the rest of us, worked up into an almost evangelical furor.

"Do any of you actually feel like you're learning anything here?" he asks. "Do any of you feel like you've gotten even the slightest bit more intelligent in this class? No. You're all just trying to sponge up as much information as you can so you can repeat it back during the next test, then you'll promptly forget it for the rest of your lives. Absolutely worthless."

He gives his fellow students a sneer full of contempt before rounding on Coach Bates again.

"Look at them," he says. "Look at the minds you're squandering, all of that stunted intellect and wasted potential. Not one single person in this classroom will amount to anything, because they've spent the last twelve years in a hideously obsolete system built around protecting the positions of incompetent authority figures like yourself. They tune out the lessons you so spectacularly fail to teach, they glorify ignorance and selfishness and stupidity, all because it makes them less like you!"

The new kid turns back to us and points an accusing finger at Coach Bates.

"This man and everyone like him owes you an apology," he says. "Because they've doomed you to a life of ignorant mediocrity, and robbed you of a future you never even knew you could have!"

For a few moments, the rest of the class and I just stare in stunned silence. Until finally, Coach Bates speaks up.

"Report to the Principal's office," he snarls through gritted teeth, physically shaking with anger. "Now."

"Why? Because I told the truth about--"

"NOW!"

The new kid glares at Coach Bates with a mix of contempt and hurt, before storming out of the classroom, tears welling up in his eyes.

"God, what a spazz," I hear Whitney Fordman say with a laugh. "Coach Bates has five State Championships; that geek is gonna spend the rest of his life working at Kinko's or something."


Later that day, after school lets out, I see the new kid heading towards the parking lot, making it plain that he wants nothing to do with anyone. At least, that's how he wants to be seen. When I focus my vision to get a better look at his face, I see his eyes are red, his cheeks stained with tears.

I see frustration written all over him, an isolation that he doesn't know how to deal with. Like he knows things that he can't share with anyone, because they don't have the ability to understand.

I can relate.

I follow him out to the parking lot, trying to get his attention.

"Hey, um," I say, catching up with him, "I saw your argument with Coach Bates. That was pretty brutal."

"I'd hardly call it an argument," he says. "An argument implies that both parties have a distinct but opposing point of view. I just stated my point of view, and he gave me in-school suspension."

"Well, I mean, you did insult him a lot."

"Anyone who can't handle the truth deserves to be insulted," he says, making no effort to slow down and talk to me as he heads to his car, a Rolls Royce that looks incredibly out-of-place among the pickup trucks and used sedans.

"Look, if it's any consolation, I think you're right," I say. "There's a lot that needs to be changed in the way the system works. But you can't expect to make that change happen if you're just dismissing and insulting people. You have to make people want to change for the better, and that means making connections with them instead of just walling them off."

The new kid stops, ponders for a second, then turns back to me.

"Who was the greater theoretical physicist: Newton or Einstein?"

I pause for a second, a little jarred by the sudden pop quiz. After a few moments, I come up with the answer.

"It's a trick question: Newtonian physics are practical, not theoretical."

He gives me a studying look, then asks another question.

"The 22nd President of the United States had the same parents as the 24th, but they weren't siblings. How is that possible?"

"They were the same guy--Grover Cleveland was elected in two non-consecutive terms."

"List three consecutive days without using Sunday, Wednesday, or Friday."

"Yesterday, today, and tomorrow."

"What happens if you throw a green rock into the Red Sea?"

"It gets wet."

"Very good," he says, cracking an amused grin. "If it weren't for the fact that you lived in this abysmal town, I'd say you might have an actual future."

"Um, thanks," I say, before extending my hand to him. "I'm Clark, by the way. Clark Kent."

The new kid looks at me skeptically for a second, then shakes my hand.

"Lex Luthor," he finally introduces himself.



*****


"Alexander Joseph Luthor," says Lois Lane, poring over her notes as Jimmy and I sit down at the small dining table in her apartment. "The smartest, wealthiest, and most powerful man on the planet. A man who's got enough skeletons in his closet to run a nation-wide chain of haunted houses. And you say you used to know the guy, Smallville?!"

It's only a week or so after I had moved to Metropolis, and after my first assignment with the Daily Star, my new friend Jimmy Olsen has taken me under his proverbial wing, showing me how to get the hang of life in the big city. Unlike me, he's a freelancer, so he also takes pictures for the Star's rival paper, the Daily Planet, where he works a lot with their star reporter, Lois Lane.

When we first met, Lois didn't really give me the time of day....at least, until Jimmy mentioned that I used to know Lex Luthor.

"Well, I mean, it wasn't really a long-lasting friendship or anything like that," I say nervously as Lois grills me. "He and his father moved to Kansas for about a year during my junior year of high school. He didn't fit in with anyone, so I tried to make friends with him. I mean, I don't know if I ever succeeded, but I just...kept trying. Felt like I had to, because nobody else would."

"Well, what was he like?" Lois questions me. "There are huge gaps in Luthor's personal history. So if you know something, anything that could help us get inside his head--"

"I know, I know, it's just.....I can't really believe what he's become since then," I say, sadly. "He never talked to me that much about his family life. I know his mother died at an early age, and he had an older brother that used to bully him, until...."

"Until Julian Luthor hanged himself at age seventeen," says Lois. "Come on, Smallville, that's public knowledge. Same with the fire that burned down his house and killed his father. Do you have anything we can actually work with?"

"Well, um," I say sheepishly. "I do know one thing. This might sound a little weird, but.......well....he was always obsessed with talking to aliens."

Lois and Jimmy both give me incredulous looks.

"Aliens? Like, little green men from space?"

"Well, yeah, I guess," I say. "He'd go on about how there had to be life out there that's smarter than the people here. He was a huge buff for astronomy and biology back then, but honestly? I think the reason it struck such a chord with him is that he felt like he was alone, that he had to find life out there just to have someone to talk to."

"Hmm," Lois says, chewing a pen as she thinks. "I can't really imagine Lex Luthor being the introverted type. He's got his name and face plastered all over everything these days. What happened to him that made him change?"

"I don't know," I shrug. "Whatever it was, it must have happened after the fire......after he left Smallville...."

"That doesn't help," says Lois, frustrated. "There's about a three-year gap in between the fire incident in Kansas and the creation of Lexcorp. Three years where he just fell off the face of the Earth completely."

Lois is right. There are no records of any kind of what happened to Lex after the night his father's house burned down. I don't know what Lex was doing in the laboratory he'd cobbled together in their mansion's spare rooms, or what caused the fire, or even how he survived despite having severe burns over most of his body.

What I do remember, though, was that rock he was experimenting with. A meteor fragment of some kind, bright green and unlike anything on the Periodic Table. When the fire started, I tried to save Lex and his father. I found Lex in the room with the meteor rock......and nearly passed out from crippling pain and horrible nausea.

An explosion knocked me clear of the house, leaving me helpless to watch as Lex was nearly killed by the flames. That was the last time I saw him. In person, anyway.

Three years later, though, he appeared at the TED Conference in Long Beach, to take the world by storm. He was suddenly full of bravado and flare, his skin completely healed, though his hair was now gone. It was at the TED Conference that Lex announced his discovery of a method to use the Helium-3 found in lunar soil as a fuel for sustainable cold fusion. Luthor said he was sinking his family's fortune into a venture to send a privately-owned spacecraft to the moon and set up a mining facility.

He was laughed out of the conference that day. Six months later, though, nobody was laughing, when Lex actually did it. In a masterful display of genius and showmanship, Luthor flew to the moon and came back with the solution to the world's energy problems, and changed the entire power structure of the globe.

"It's been a long time since I've spoken to Lex," I say. "And from what I've seen, he's a completely different person now. I would never have guessed back then what he was capable of."

"Well, hey, it's not like he's all bad," Jimmy says. "I mean, Lexcorp's fusion energy pretty much ended all the wars for oil, and has been great for the environment. And his cybernetic augmentation programs? Helping blind people see? Thought-controlled prostheses for amputees? And that's not even talking about how cool the new L-Phone is!"

"Yeah, but you're not looking at the big picture, Jimmy," says Lois. "Lexcorp has a monopoly on energy now, which means whole governments--including our own--rely on the company to maintain their infrastructure. Most of the world's leading nations have Lexcorp technology in their military, and use Lexcorp-patented communications networks. The company's grown so big, so fast, that nobody's even taken the time to stop and think about just how much Lexcorp now controls. And even if anyone ever did move against him, he could just deny them access to his toys, which could sink a country's economy overnight!"

"I've seen a few things while covering stories overseas that are pretty questionable," I speak up. "In a lot of places in the Third World, people are completely dependent on their local Lexcorp branches for welfare, medical aid, food, you name it. I've even seen L-Sec officers detain police officers for violating company rules."

"Come on, guys," Jimmy says nervously, "You two are making it sound like, I dunno......like Lex Luthor's trying to take over the world or something."

Lois shakes her head.

"Lexcorp has influence in every major political, economic, and military institution in the world now. Thanks to everyone becoming dependent on his fusion technology, he can do anything he wants, and no one's going to call him out on it because they're all too afraid of getting cut off. So, no, Jimmy, I'm not saying Lex Luthor's trying to take over the world."

Lois looks out the window of her apartment. And like everywhere in Metropolis, she can see the massive spire of the Lexcorp Tower.

"I'm saying he already has."


*****


I fly over the rooftops of Metropolis, crossing from Little Bohemia into New Troy. The riot has broken up, and paramedics are tending to the wounded now. A few people are being carried away in ambulances, including Rudy Jones, the rabble-rousing agitant who was shot through the chest by Lexcorp's security officers.

As soon as I had taken care of the L-Sec officers, I was sent a message via hypersonic frequency. An invitation from Lex Luthor himself.

Flying into the heart of the city, one building stands impossibly high above the rest. Dwarfing even the Burj Khalifa Hotel in Dubai, the Lexcorp Tower is the single tallest free-standing structure ever built by man. Over a kilometer and a half tall, whole new areas of architecture and structural engineering were devised just for the construction of the tower. Nearly thirty thousand people work in the offices and laboratories that fill the building, not including the labyrinth of high-security labs underground.

And at the very top of it all, there's a small penthouse. I enhance my vision to see it, and notice that the door to the penthouse's balcony is wide open.

Flying up to the top of the tower, the air is thinner, colder this high up. A warm current blows outward from inside.

"I was hoping you'd gotten my message," says a very familiar voice in a cool, nonchalant tone. "I'd appreciate it if you come in--air conditioning at five thousand feet isn't cheap."

Looking in, I see him. He's exactly the way he looks on TV-- the picture of health and vitality, brimming with confidence. He looks so different from the kid I knew in high school......but the air of superiority in the way he carries himself is exactly the same.

"Lex Luthor," I say, stepping into the penthouse.



"Superman," says Lex, giving me an appraising look. "I'm glad you came. We have a lot to discuss."


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Old 09-28-2012, 10:47 PM   #96
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~Opening the Scars~

The clothes aren't hard to find. I toss some cash onto the pawn shop's counter, ignoring the buzzing alarm near the door. The police will be here in a few minutes, which is what I need. The less that are around the earlier crime scene, the better.

I duck into the alley next to the shop, doubling back towards the earlier explosion. I can still smell the smoldering timbers of the house in the air, but I need to get closer to it to try and gather any other evidence I can from the blast.

Whoever did this had to have left something behind.

Peering out of the alley, I see the smoking crater that was the Pryde's home earlier today. The sun has all but set now, a dull purple haze now the only remnants of its light in the sky.

Most of the cops have left the area, most have probably been sent out to look for me. Those remaining are doing little besides lounging around. Already figure they have the case figured out. A mutant came in and killed this woman. Just like the good, normal American people want to hear.

Fools.

Circling around them, I manage to make my way into the place's back yard, sticking to the darkness and shadows, making sure the cops don't see me. Bending down and shifting a bit of the rubble into my hand and sniffing it, trying to decipher what kind of explosion it was.

And I detect it almost instantly. C-4. Whoever did this was a professional. And another smell I can't seem to put my finger on.

As I continue to try and detect the subtle smells inside the burning wood, I hear the high frequency sound as it zips over my head. The few cops standing watch fall dead, instantly.

Sniper bullets. Someone's watching this site. But they didn't go after me.

And that's when the freight train hits me. I tumble over with the person who's just tackled me scratching and clawing at me. I manage to throw a perfect punch into their jaw, sending them flying off me.

Getting up, and wiping the blood from the side of my mouth, I realize why the smell is that I couldn't identify. Standing in front of me is someone from my past I never thought I'd see again.



"Hey there, runt," the man now known as Victor Creed, who was once my brother, smiles his fanged smile at me.

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Old 10-02-2012, 10:14 PM   #97
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"Are you crazy? What're you doing here?" Gordon hisses at me, cigarette smoke escaping from his mouth as he does. "The mayor and the commissioner are gunning for you already."

"I would have figured as much," I respond from the top of the water tower. "But there's more important things to worry about. I need to know what happened to Skeevers."

Gordon takes another drag and looks up at me, over the rims of his glasses, "Dead, but I'm sure you already know that or you wouldn't be here. Looked like suicide. Cut his wrists with the cuffs..."

"But?" I ask the detective, sensing there's more to the story.

"He was out of the cuffs," Gordon responds, tossing the cigarette butt and stamping it out. "Skeevers was skinny, but there's not way he was that skinny. His wrists weren't broken, and the cuts weren't deep enough to slip the hands out."

"Someone killed him and made it look like a suicide," I respond, stating the obvious. "What do the cameras show?"

"The one on the inside was out," Gordon shrugs. "And the one on the door shows no one in or out all night."

No one in or out all night. Well, that's an interesting proposition.

"You need to get me into that room."

The officer laughs at the idea, "You want me to get you into police headquaters when you've just become enemy number one? Man, some of the guys must be right, you're crazy."

"If you don't get me in there, I can't find whoever did this," I say, dropping down to his level. "The mob has given us an opening here, Gordon. I caught them with their pants down, and they sloppily tried to clean up the mess. And if we don't catch them now, we may never get that chance again."

Gordon takes time thinking it over. I can tell part of him wants to tell me to go to hell, to take my insane schemes and stick them where the sun doesn't shine. I can see him thinking of his family, of what could happen to them if he continues down this path. Up until now he could have escaped. But this is taking the headfirst plunge.

"Fine. What's the play?"

I look into the sky, then turn back to him, "You say I'm public enemy number one? What's your partner up to tonight?"

**********

"He wasn't happy," Gordon says, reappearing on the rooftop, and looking around.

I step out from the shadows behind him completely quietly, "But he'll do it?"

Gordon jumps and turns around suddenly. He looks at me through squinted eyes, "Yea, he'll do it."

As he finished the sentence, sirens below begin to blare below, and a squadron of squad cars come flying out of the building onto the street. I turn back and smile at the detective, as the ruse has worked. And then, in the sky above Gotham, shines a makeshift symbol in the night sky.



"That'll keep them."

I turn and follow Gordon into the police building, my cape flowing behind me. Gordon laughs a bit at the look of my new costume, "You really took the Bat thing and ran with it, huh?"

"The more rumors and superstitions there are about me out there, the better," I respond as we head towards the crime scene. "The more fear that's out there the easier my job becomes."

We pass under the yellow tape marking off the interrogation room, and I get to work inspecting the area. Nothing stands out initially, but I didn't expect it to. If anything was obvious, the corrupt cops would have cleaned it up or Gordon would have found it.

"So you've really got a plan for this city don't you?" Gordon asks as he watches me work.

"The beginnings of one," I respond, checking the chair and the underside of the table, and my fingers come away with a slight residue on them. Out of the corner of my eye, I see a bit of a streak on the two way mirror on the wall of the room.

Rubbing a bit of the compound around again, I realize that the stuff here is the same as the stuff under the table. "What is this?"

"We figured it was just some sort of condensation from the body," Gordon responds. "It was hot in here when I found him."

"It's not water," I shake my head, and sniff it a bit. "No scent, but it's definitely not water condensation. We need to get some of this stuff tested."

I grab a bag and scrape some of the substance off, placing it in the receptical and sealing it. "Find a lab that you can trust with this. Don't go through CSI. We need a safe third party."

"My daughter works for WayneTech," he nods. "They have a lab there we can use."

"Good, we can tr-" I stop as two police officers enter the room. The both look at me in amazement, and I realize I have to act quickly. I slip a knife from my belt, spin behind Gordon, and press the knife gently against his throat. I snarl at the two cops, "Back out of the room, or Eddie Skeevers won't be the only one to die in this room."

As the do as I say, I whisper to Gordon, "Play along. Get the test."

The cops back up, and once they get to the door, I shove Gordon towards them, knocking the three of them to the ground. I leap over them, and make a dash for the roof. I can hear them yelling behind me, but I don't stop. I don't need this to get any messier than it already has.

Almost at the door to the roof, an officer steps out from behind a corner with his weapon drawn. I roll towards him, driving my palms into his solar plexus in an upward motion as I complete the roll. It knocks him to the ground, clutching his chest to get a breath. He'll be fine, so I head up to the roof.

I can hear the distant sound of rotor blades, meaning the choppers are doubling back towards me. I need to get out of here quickly.

Which is of course the reason why the SWAT members now emerge from the shadows around me, guns pointed directly at me.

"Batman!" the leader of the squad calls out. "Do not move. Put you hands up."

I look around, searching for an exit from this situation, but none present themselves right away. I fidget a bit, getting nervous. This can't end like this. Not so soon.

"I said put your hands up!" he yells again.

Right as a news helicopter swoops overhead.

My hands go up. The grapple fires. And the helicopter yanks me into the night sky. I can hear the faint yells from below as I speed off. As the chopper passes over another rooftop, I disengage the magnet on the grapnel, and tumble across the rooftop, painfully.

Standing, and brushing off my shoulders, I take a moment to look over Gotham. I look over my city. Full of sirens chasing me, while I play at solving a murder.

Chaos has struck Gotham.

But out of chaos comes order. The new order of this city. The order of law.

Sometimes the night has to be darkest before the dawn. And I'm going to bring that dawn.

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Old 10-03-2012, 12:46 AM   #98
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RAISING THE CURTAIN

Part 6

Peter sat back on the couch as he watched the television intently. The live NASA feed was on, showing the first video footage of the Curiosity rover as it roamed the Martian surface.

"No Looney Tunes this morning? I'm shocked."

Peter glanced up at Gwen as she walked into the living room with a mug of coffee and a copy of the paper, taking a seat next to him.

"Bugs can wait", Peter answered with a smile, "this right here is history. Just think of what we might discover? Our first real look at another planet."

*sigh* "I'm in love with a nerd", Gwen said, mockingly rolling her eyes.

"Damn right you are", Peter smirked.
"Besides, how cool would it be if they found life?"

Gwen gave Peter a dubious glance.

"What? I'm not talking 'little green men' here", Peter explained, "but microbial life. It would be a momentous discovery."

"Yeah, I'll bet. So, did you see the paper this morning?"

Gwen shows a copy of the Bugle to Peter, who promptly sits up and gives the paper his full attention.
The picture on the front page is a grainy shot from a cell phone of Peter fighting Onomatopoeia on the street. The headline above the picture is simple, reading "Spider-Man: Friend or Foe."

"Spider-Man...", Peter speaks the name slowly, as if trying it on for size.

"Yeah, it's what Jameson dubbed him after witnesses said he was like a human spider in action."


Peter looked at the grainy picture of him in action against Onomatopoeia, of Spider-Man in action. It was almost like looking through a window into a dream.

Spider-Man...not very original, but it does roll off the tongue nicely...

"And Jameson also put out a five thousand dollar reward for a decent photo of Spider-Man."

"Five grand", Peter repeated.

"That's what he said. Would definitely help us out around here."

"Yeah"
, Peter said, thinking about what he just was told.
"Yeah, that definitely would..."

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


LATER THAT EVENING...



The entire room is pitch black, save for the glow of half a dozen monitor screens. Norman Osborn stood in front of them, bathed in their light as visions of the attack and Spider-Man's battle played out before him. But Norman did not see it as his eyes were rolled back in his head, as if in some kind of trance-like state.

*Ahem*

Norman snaps back to reality as Professor Ivo enters the room.

"Ivo", Osborn turns around and greets the professor as he walks up to Norman.
"What happened here today and what is happening around the world is only the tip of the iceberg. And it's time of OsCorp to take a bold new step towards the future before it arrives."

"You're the top mind at OsCorp, Ivo, and I'm putting you in charge of taking us there"
, Norman explains.

"You will be running a secret project to design my own brand of super-soldier. With the growing mutant threat, and these costumed vigilantes popping up, the militaries of the world will pay top dollar for ways of defending themselves."


Osborn turned to look back at the screens, his gaze getting lost in the images of Spider-Man taking down his would-be assassin.

"And I want you to start with this one...Spider-Man", Norman stated.

"Study him well, professor, because I want you to try and mimic his abilities."


"Okay", Ivo finally spoke after a brief moment of contemplation.
"As you probably are aware, the cost of this little endeavor will be astronomical."

"I don't care what it costs", Osborn frowned.
"Just get it done. No matter what it takes."

"Very well", Ivo said with a smile.
"Good night, Mr. Osborn. I will see you bright and early tomorrow."

Ivo happily left, thinking of all the new and expensive toys he'd now buy on Osborn's dime, but Norman didn't pay the professor any heed. He simply remained transfixed on Spider-Man, as the hero battled across the glowing screens before him...

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Old 10-03-2012, 12:47 AM   #99
Byrd Man
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Previously



Spoiler!!! Click to Read!:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Byrd Man View Post
"Mutant Town"
Kentucky



"What do you mean?" Amanda Waller asked from the other end of the line.

Charles was inside the Blackbird, sitting at a console and hooked up via satellite phone to the leader of Project Darwin.

"I mean that the situation here is delicate. It's not the Brotherhood rallying point that we thought it was."

"And what is it exactly, Doctor?"

"It's... complicated," he said with a sigh. "I need some time here. These people that are here, they are mutants. But they are not hostile in any way."

"Whatever it is you're doing, it's damn sure not your job. The mission was to go in and do recon, then come back and report what you found. I expect you to follow orders."

"If you wanted someone to follow orders, you should have got a soldier."

"Keep talking like that," hissed Waller, "and I'll have you lined up against a brick wall and shot. Court-martial style."

"Look." Leaning back, Charles sighed and rubbed his temple. "Give me a few more hours here. After that, I'll gladly fly back to Utopia and fully debrief you on what happened. Please, Amanda. Despite what you may believe, my intentions here are pure."

There was a long pause on the other end of the line while Charles waited for Waller's answer.

"Fine. Can't believe I'm doing this, but you have three hours to get your asses into the air. Any later than that, you'll be in neck-deep ****. The kind you can't talk yourself out of."

"Thank you. We'll be back before then. Xavier out."



*****


Paige Guthrie ran through the forest as fast as she could. Just a few seconds ago, she could hear the leaves crackling behind her as her brother Sam steppe don them while he gave chase. In the back of her mind, Paige knew her and Sam were getting a bit too old for this. He was fourteen and she was going on eleven. Too old to keep playing tag. But she liked it. It reminded her of those summer days she and Sam would play tag with their sister, Melody, and cousins Jay and Jeb. Those were the days when everything was good and nothing was hard. Back before she and Sam had lost Melody and her parents, back before Madrox helped them out and took them with it on its quest across the country.

Jumping down from a small bluff, Paige rolled down a hill and popped up on her feet quickly. Turning around, she didn't see Sam behind her. Breathing heavily, Paige turned back around and jumped at what she saw. A man dressed in camouflage, a hunting rifle slung over his shoulder.

"Hey there, little girl," he said with a smile. He held one hand up while the other reached behind him. "Don't worry, everything's gonna be alright."

Suddenly, his smile disappeared and he moved fast, striking Paige on the head with the butt of his rifle. With a scowl, he spat on the unconscious girl and turned back to the ten or so camouflaged men behind him.

"Alright," he said, nodding towards the direction Paige had come from. "Bobbie, get the little mutie girl. The rest of us are rendezvousing with Creed. Let's go."



*****



Charles stood with Jane Madrox, watching as Scott and Rex helped Jamie pass out supplies and food packets to the people in Mutant Town.

"It won't be long, Madrox. I can put it off as much as possible, but the government is going to find out about what you're doing here."

"I know," the female body of Madrox said with a sigh. "It's my own fault, really. I should have barred you all from coming in as soon as you showed up. But you are right, though. This was bound to happen eventually. What started as me with two scared kids has become more than I could have ever intended."

"Have you thought about going public? Hiding out in the woods can only last for so long."

"We go public with this, and we have a target on our backs. Every single politician with an anti-mutant agenda will be trying to regulate us and turn the settlement into a ghetto, every anti-mutant militant will try to burn us to the ground. You want to kill mutants? Go to Mutant Town, it'll be like shooting fish in a barrel."

"I never said it would be easy. Gaining the peace and solitude we seek is never easy. But it is worth fighting for. You have to make a choice, Madrox. Are these people you care about so much, are their hopes and wishes worth fighting for? Or will you just sit on the sidelines while the rest of the world hates our kind and only believe the anti-mutant propaganda?"

"Who exactly are you trying to convince?" Jane asked with an arched eyebrow. "Me or yourself?"

"And I thought I was the mind reader..."

"It's in the body language. No telepathy necessary."

"Whatever you decide to do, just know that the road will be long and hard. But the destination is well worth it."

Suddenly, Charles' eyes flickered and he turned around, looking towards the edge of the camp. "Something's wrong..."

Just then, Sam Guthrie burst through the underbrush. Winded and panting, he ran towards Charles and Jane Madrox, gasping for air.

"Paige," he wheezed out. "I can't.. I can't find her."

"She went missing?" Jane asked. "Where did you last see her?"

"Over by the ridge..."

"Wait," Charles said, holding a hand up. Closing his eyes, he reached out through the forest. His eyes suddenly snapped open and he looked at Jane. "Someone's coming. At least a dozen of them. All armed. All of them filled with hate..."

That was when a gunshot echoed through the air and the screams began.


Claremont Township
Kentucky


The SUV went down the highway, leaving the small Kentucky town behind. Joe Madrox was behind the wheel, the twin brother he shared a collective consciousness with was riding shotgun. Hank, Jean, and Jefferson were in the backseat. The back of the SUV was loaded down with supplies Jefferson and Jean had gotten in town.

"We drew some looks back in town," said Jean. "Most people wanting to know if we were new in town. I told them we were part of a church group from Frankfurt that went camping."

"I thought about telling them we were brother and sister," Jefferson said with a smirk.

"Dammit," said Joe. He was looked through the car's rear view mirror and back on the road. He hit the gas.

"What's the matter?" Hank asked, turning around to look behind him.

"Car behind us," John said without looking back. "They've been following us since we left the hardware store."

A sky-blue pickup truck was behind them. It sped up and started to gain on them. Joe picked up speed and took a corner wide. Both twins flinched in reaction to some unseen thing.

"They're attacking the camp," said John.

The SUV rounded a corner and slammed head-first into a concrete barrier. The impact of the car suddenly stopping slammed the five mutants hard. The back end of the SUV nearly shot straight up from the force.

On the other side of the barrier, a group of mean watched as the car rolled over on its side. All the men were armed with rifles and pistols. The man in the middle of the group was tall and blonde.

"Check on 'em," he said with a nod. "Any of 'em that's alive, we keep 'em that way until we get to the camp."

The men moved to the wrecked car and began to pull the dazed and semi-conscious people from the wreckage. The body of John Madrox looked up as he was drug passed the man.

"Creed...""Hey there, freak," Graydon Creed said with a nod and smile.



*****



"Mutant Town"


Panic was spreading through the camp. Mutants scattered as the heavily armed men opened fire on them. They turned as the large body of Al Pratt crashed into them, sweeping them to the side with a large arm.

Across the camp, Cyclops and Metamorpho were holding back a group of armed militants. Scott fired optic blasts to hold them back while Rex emitted gas from his pores.

"Tear gas coming in! Back up!" Rex shouted to Cyclops.

Scott retreated as Metamoprho shot the compressed gas from his pores towards the armed men. They began to cough and cover their eyes, dropping their weapons in the process. While they attempted to recover, Scott picked them off one by one with optic blasts.

While Scott and Rex defended the camp from attackers, Charles and the other two Madrox bodies were busy helping to evacuate the people in the camp. There were two large RVs that had been parked away from the encampment. Xavier and the Madrox siblings were guiding the people towards the RVs when Sam Guthrie ran up.

"I can't find Paige!" He shouted to Jane Madrox.

"Sam, calm down," she said, turning towards Charles. "Can you feel her out there in the forest?"

"Yes, but she's heavily surrounded."

"Just point me in their direction," Sam growled.

"Madrox?" Charles deferred to the camp leader. "Is that wise?"

Madrox nodded and put her hand on Sam's shoulder.

"That way," Charles said, pointing over his shoulder.

Sam nodded and pulled a pair of goggles from his pants pocket. He slipped them on his face. The young man's feet began to smoke and shake. Suddenly, he erupted into the air and leveled out above them. He flew over their heads towards Paige's location. While Sam's upper body was intact, his legs appeared to be engulfed in flames.

"That's Sam's mutant powers. He creates that explosion and uses it to fly. It also makes him unstoppable. Likes to call himself Cannonball."

Suddenly, Jane's knees buckles and she fell to the ground. Wincing in pain, she looked up at Charles with a wild look on her face.

"John and Joe.. there was a... crash. Ambush. He has them. Them and your students."

"Who?"

"Creed..."

"ATTENTION," a voice in the woods boomed out. "ATTENTION, ATTENTION. THIS IS A DIRECT MESSAGE TO ALL THE RESIDENTS OF FREAKSVILLE, USA."

Charles closed his eyes and reopened them inside another person's mind. The man was to Creed's right. Creed had a bullhorn in his hands. To his right were the two Madrox twins. They were being restrained by a two men a piece. Beside them were Jean, Jefferson, and Hank. Hank was unconscious while Jefferson's eye's were black and bruised. Jean had blood on her face and large cut on her forehead. Each of the students had guns pressed to the sides of their heads.

"Surrender now," Creed said into the megaphone. "You resist, you struggle. We will kill these people we have with us, and then we'll burn all of you alive."

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Old 10-07-2012, 01:20 AM   #100
Andy C.
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"To be perfectly honest, I'm glad you've finally made your presence known to the world," begins Lex Luthor as he strolls across the wide open expanse in the middle of his penthouse's living room to approach me. "So few people have the wherewithal to use their skills and talents to their fullest extent; now you don't have the burden of having to do it in secrecy."

I glare at him coldly, which stops him in his tracks a good two paces away from me.

Luthor's penthouse is a triumph of modern design, a masterpiece of form and function that he keeps all to himself. By all appearances, it's minimalist in nature, the furniture sleek and plain, the light fixtures placed and hidden so subtly that it's difficult to tell where the lights are coming from at all. Lex doesn't waste a millimeter of space on extravagances like fine art or exotic plants or anything typically identified with fabulous wealth.

To the human eye, the penthouse is minimalist to the point of being Spartan. But my eyes are different. I can see the entire electromagnetic spectrum, focus them to see things on an atomic level, shift my vision through solid matter to see beyond them. And it's with this kind of sight, a kind of perception that goes far beyond simply taking in light waves through a pair of photoreceptors, that I see the true riches in Luthor's dwelling.

Every square inch of the penthouse is packed with technology. The floor and ceiling are coated with sensors that likely scan every minute detail of anyone in the room, feeding information in real time to Lexcorp's security mainframe. Every smooth surface--the windows, the walls, the desk and tables--are actually interactive display screens. Looking through the walls and into the inner workings of the building, I see dozens, maybe hundreds, of retractable compartments of all different shapes and sizes, which can emerge into the room at a moment's notice. The entire place buzzes with wireless signals, receiving and transmitting all over the world, the room singing with the never-ending flow of information.

Even the massive open space in the middle of the room, containing nothing beyond a deep burgundy carpet, is a statement on the true nature of Luthor's wealth. In a city as cramped and crowded as Metropolis, having a little elbow room is the truest sign of luxury.

And for all this, it's not all the incredible gadgets and subtle declarations of power and riches that I notice the most; it's what he doesn't have anywhere in the place. There are no pictures, no photos with old friends, no group shots with colleagues. Not even Lex's frankly ridiculous collection of scientific awards is anywhere to be found. The penthouse feels less like a place where a man lives, and more like a high-end hotel room, a model home, a demo.

And that I think says everything there really is to say about Lex Luthor: incredible technology, unbelievable power, but without an ounce of sentiment or empathy to go with it.

"I know you probably don't think much of me," he says. "Granted, I haven't had the pleasure of meeting you until just now, but your little cloak-and-dagger raids on my R&D facilities abroad were quite the introduction. Now that you're here in my city, I thought I'd take the chance to welcome you, and hopefully to clear the air between us."

"Clear the air?" I say, not even trying to hide how offended and incredulous I am. "When I found your installation in Pokolistan, you were paying Nationalist soldiers to round up civilians and herd them into your camps. They were used as live test subjects for genetic engineering, cybernetic alterations, on a scale that the UN would have considered crimes against humanity if Lexcorp hadn't salted the Earth by the time inspectors arrived. I saw a little girl in that camp, who was being used in invasive surgeries--your doctors had cut her open while she was still awake, and replaced her spinal column with fiber optics."

"And now she can access the Internet via thought," said Lex, in a lecturing tone. "Or at least, she would have been able to, if you hadn't so rudely interrupted the process. I know you think you're some great liberator, but the fact of the matter is that you're hindering some of the most important work in the history of the human race."

"Is that what you tell yourself so you can sleep at night? That all the suffering your company causes, all the lives you've needlessly destroyed, is all for some greater good?"

"Of course it is," says Luthor indignantly. "And for the record, nobody at any Lexcorp facility suffers needlessly. Every scrap of data, positive or otherwise, is put towards the betterment of mankind."

"Tell that to the people in Relaysia that your scientists pumped full of mutagens, which deformed them before poisoning their bloodstream and killing them painfully," I spit.

"Relaysia was....unfortunate," says Lex with a disappointed sigh. "Replicating the Super-Soldier Serum without the actual notes of Dr. Erskine has been an uphill struggle, at best. You're familiar with the mutagen that created Captain America, yes?"

I nod, still feeling heat building up inside of my eyes as I glare at him.

"That was a massive leap forward in genetic engineering," he says, with a hint of admiration. "It could have been the birth of a new stage of human existence, a species perfecting its own form. Sadly, the military and the powers of the time were so short-sighted. All they could see was a strong man who would sock Hitler on the jaw. A pathetic misuse of tremendous power. I'm hoping to correct that mistake, and that's only the beginning."

With little more than a wave of his hand, Luthor calls up a holographic display. It's a three-dimensional recreation of Da Vinci's "Vitruvian Man," the human figure illustrated in full. Then as Luthor speaks, the picture begins to alter....

"Think of it, Superman," he says, "A replication of Erskine's formula could elevate even the most frail of us to tremendous physical might. My own cybernetic augmentations could elevate sensory perception, reaction timing, information storage and processing, and that's just the nervous system. Instant mind-to-mind communication with anyone on the planet via a wireless broadband network. Sub-dermal armor rendering people impervious. On-board defense systems. Artificially enhanced immune systems. The possibilities are virtually endless."

Da Vinci's Virtuvian Man is now a super-human, a bio-mechanical cyborg.

"And I'm not talking super-soldiers, mind you," Luthor continues. "I'm talking everyone. A whole species of superior beings. I believe the current strain of aberrant mutations is trending towards a similar conclusion, but, well, the results have thus far been a bit scatter-shot, don't you think?"

"So you're trying to take control of human evolution," I say, giving him a skeptical look. "You're using Lexcorp and all of its resources to play God."

Luthor gives me a disappointed tsk and shakes his head.

"Gods are inherently selfish beings," he says. "In every pantheon of myth that's ever existed, gods make demands of mortal Man for use of their power. They demand worship. They demand sacrifices. They demand war and death in their name. Everything I do, I do simply to make the world a better place."

"Which is why you plaster your name all over your products," I say sarcastically. "Why you built a tower to look down on the entire city. Why you tried to have Reed Richards and Sue Storm killed for vocally criticizing you and your company."

Luthor gives me a hard glare, showing that I touched a nerve.

"Reed Richards is a genius," he says with conviction. "One of the very, very few people on this rock that is even remotely in the same realm of intellect as me. To kill him would be robbing mankind of brilliance that might never be replaced. And to suggest that I'd willingly snuff out such an incredible mind, misguided and unfortunately sentimental as it is, is an unforgivable insult."

I listen to his pulse, practically feel his blood pumping. I see his muscles tightening, a thin veneer of sweat across his brow from the heated outburst. I see the fiery gleam in his eyes.

He's telling the truth. Or at least, he's doing the best job of covering up a lie that I've ever seen.

"Are you saying that the explosion on board the Excelsior was an accident?" I ask with a raised eyebrow.

"Don't be ridiculous," he says dismissively. "Of course it was sabotage. Richards isn't the kind of man who allows the potential for accidents in his experiments. However, his outspoken rhetoric against me and my goals was a convenient way to set me up as a primary suspect. And Reed Richards has made quite a few enemies himself, though he may not know of them yet."

"If it wasn't you, then--"

"I think we may be getting side-tracked a bit," Luthor waves the topic away. "My point is that you and I have essentially the same goal--a better world, a better society, a better humanity-- although our methodology is drastically different. You've demonstrated unbelievable power-- more than any mutant or cyborg I've ever seen. But your reactionary mentality, your short-sighted sentimentality, your outdated morality.....for all the good you think you're doing, you're actually causing tremendous harm."

"As opposed to turning people into guinea pigs and funding warlords?" I say with a snarl. "I stop suffering and injustice wherever I can. You dominate and ruin lives, then rationalize it by saying it's part of a 'big picture.' And you're so focused on that big picture of yours, you either can't see or don't care that it's made of a million smaller pictures of pain and destruction."

"I'd bring up the old cliche about omelettes and eggs, but I think that would be in poor taste," says Luthor with a sneer. "Do you really think you can improve every single meaningless little life out there without hurting another? That the kind of change humanity needs can come without things getting ugly?"

Luthor flicks back to his holographic display, flashing images from history. The World Wars. The Spanish Inquisition. The Slave Trade. Dozens of images of violence and despondency.

"The history of the human race is one long story of stunted potential," he says. "For thousands of years, we've reacted to new knowledge with fear and anger. We've thrown away the works of the greatest minds of whole eras, and casually lost storehouses of incredible knowledge. We burned the Library of Alexandria. We murdered Archimedes. We shunned Gallileo. We banned Darwin. In total, I estimate that humanity is roughly twelve hundred years behind where it should be in terms of technology and society. I am trying to fix that, undo centuries of damage in just the few short decades that I'm alive. And I'll do it, even if I have to drag every last one of those miserable knuckle-dragging apes into the future kicking and screaming! And YOU ARE GETTING IN MY WAY!!!!"

After a moment, he takes a deep breath.

"Which is why I orchestrated that little bit of ugliness in Little Bohemia tonight," he says, his composure restored.

"The riot? You put all of those people out of their homes, just to....to what, get my attention?"

"No," he says, his voice deadly serious. "I did it to teach you a lesson. You may be able to bench-press spacecraft and crack through the sound barrier without breaking a sweat, but you don't know anything about real power. I hold the lives of everyone in this city....virtually everyone on this planet.....in my hands. I give them everything they could ever ask for....and I can take it away without a second thought."

His ice-cold stare gives way to a smug grin.

"And you, of course, did a fantastic job of cooperating."

The displays change to news footage of me intervening in the riot, disarming the L-Sec mercenaries that were opening fire on civilians.

"SUPERMAN ATTACKS POLICE OFFICERS IN MIDST OF DEADLY RIOT" the headline reads on the screen.

"Oh my, that's not a very good second impression," says Luthor, shaking his head sadly. "Not even one day in Metropolis, and here you are, assaulting the good men and women of the MPD, who were just trying to restore order."

He gives me a knowing look, and then unbelievably, he winks.

"Of course, tomorrow they'll run a retraction saying that the men you attacked were my private security force and not city police officers," he says, "but by then, the perception of you will be completely changed. Superman: the dangerous, violent vigilante, the rabble-rousing malcontent, the indestructible force of chaos and disruption. The people of the city will have to ask some very hard questions as to whether or not they can trust you......as will the United States government and its armed forces."

The display zooms in on an image of me lifting an L-Sec truck overhead, as panicked mercenaries flee.

"On a related note," he adds, "I've just received a notification from one of my liasions from the Army. He's telling me the military is going to ask me to begin production on a line of anti-Superman weapons and equipment in the event that you're declared a threat to national security. Luckily for them, I've already got some prototypes ready to go."

I clench my fists, shaking with anger.

"You may have a lot of people in your pocket," I say, "but not everyone. There are enough of us that are onto you, and that number will keep growing. You want to bring the world into the future? Well, I'm going to make sure that you don't take away all of the things that will make that future worth living in."

"Don't try to moralize to me, Superman," he says with a growl. "People who wield the kind of power that we do can't afford the niceties of empathy and morality when it's time to make the hard decisions."

"That's where you're wrong, Lex," I say, staring him dead in the eye. "Morality, empathy, ethics.....they're things you can't afford not to have when the chips are down. Otherwise, people with too much power become ego-driven, narcissistic, megalomaniac psychopaths. Like you."

Now it's Luthor who's shaking with rage. That same indignant anger that boiled up in him back in Smallville, any time anyone dared to question him about anything. He's a man who simply hasn't had anyone ever tell him "no."

"Nobody talks to me that way," he hisses.

"Well, maybe it's time somebody did," I say, deliberately turning my back on him as I turn towards the window. "I've got my eye on you, Lex."

"Likewise," he spits as I open the window and take to the skies.

I'm not really sure what I was expecting, honestly. Somehow, in the back of my head, I was hoping that seeing Lex again, I could connect with him again, try and reach out to an old friend and pull him out of the darkness that he's surrounded himself with. He's so far gone, though, so wrapped up in this empire that he's built in his own image, that I don't know if I can ever get through to him.

Maybe some day I can get him to undo the damage he's done to the world, to all of the lives that his company has plundered. But not any time soon, that much is clear.

One thing that Lex was right about: I'm getting in his way, standing in the way between him and his sterile, unfeeling trans-human 'utopia.'

And I intend to stay in his way as long as I can.


Last edited by Andy C.; 10-07-2012 at 01:25 AM.
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