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Old 10-07-2012, 01:38 AM   #101
Byrd Man
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Previously


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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."


"Mutant Town"
Kentucky



There were four men standing around the semi-conscious girl. They each had a rifle in their hands. She stared up at the men strangely, unsure of who they were or what they were doing.

"Can't believe we're here guarding this *****," one of them grumbled. "Creed and the rest are out their kicking mutie ass, and we gotta babysit this dumb little girl."

"Hey," another armed militant barked out. "Creed tells us to do it, we go along with it."

"Shut up, Miller," his compatriot snapped back. Turning to the girl, he smirked and slid his rifle on to his shoulder by its strap. He squatted down in front of the girl and pulled a pistol from a holster in the small of his back.

"We ain't gotta babysit if there's no baby, right?"

The girl, her mind now fully out of the hazy fog it was in, was looking at the armed man in front of her with rapt attention. Her heart began to race, adrenaline pumping through her veins. "Please," she whispered out. "Please, don't."

"Sorry, girlie," he said without a hint of remorse. "This is how it's gotta be."

BLAM!

The gun kicked in his hand. The gun blast was quickly followed by another sound. The sound of ricochet. The bullet bounced off into the woods. And the girl was unharmed. Underneath her eye on her cheek was a bullethole. Where the skin was frayed and broken, a layer of shimmering material lay underneath.

"The hell?" The gumman asked with a furrowed brow.

The girl touched where the bullet had bounced off of her. She felt the flimsy and delicate skin peel away, revealing her new skin underneath. A skin made of solid diamond. Ripping the skin from her face, she stood and looked at her now-frightened captors.

With her face glittering, Paige Guthrie set on her attackers with a diamond-hardened skin.



*****



Inside the encampment known as Mutant Town, Charles was gathered in a circle with Rex, Scott, Al Pratt, and the two Madrox siblings who had not been captured.

"The clock's ticking," said Scott. "What do we do?"

"What's it looking like over there, Madrox?" asked Al.

"Not good," said Madrox through Jamie's body. "I'm tied up with John and Joe. All of Xavier's kids have guns on them."

"Why doesn't Al do his growing thing and toss me into the middle of them?" Rex asked with a glance around. "I turn into gas and knock them all out."

"That won't work," Charles said, shaking his head. "I don't think you can properly transform your body into any kind of safe anesthetic. But I know what I can do with Scott and Rex... I can buy you two more time. Get as many people out of here before the shooting starts."

Jane Madrox exchanged a look with Pratt before looking at Charles. "We'll start evacuating. You free my other two bodies as soon as you can."

"That should be no problem."

Nodding, the two Madrox bodies turned back to the camp while Al followed.

"Alright, suicide mission. My favorite kind."

"Don't worry, Rex. Nobody will be hurt."

"I wouldn't say that," said Scott, a red glint coming off his visor.

"Well, nobody will die. Come on, follow my lead."

Together, the three of them walked through the woods towards the armed men waiting for them. Once they got close, they heard a voice bark out orders.

"Stay right there," a man said in a slow drawl. He came out the woods, aiming a rifle at them "********. Where's the rest of y'all?"

"This is it, my friend," Charles said, with his palms out. "As you can see, we are unarmed."

"**** you are, you damn muties can do all kinds of things."

"Yes," he said, focusing on the man's mind. ~Far more than you will ever realize...~

The man stood there, slack-jawed and wide-eyed as Charles went to work on his mind. Suddenly, the man turned around and shouted behind him. "I found 'em! They're surrendering!"

On cue, nearly a dozen men emerged from the woods. They each had on camouflage and carried weapons. In the back were the two Madrox twins along with Jefferson, Jean, and Hank. Beside the hostages was the tall, blonde man Charles had identified as Creed.

Charles met eyes with Jean and nodded. She titled her head and the guns the militants had were ripped from their hands and tossed away from them. Scott opened fire with an optic blast, knocking four of the anti-mutant attackers to the ground.

The two Madrox twins burst into action, disabling the unarmed men around them with a skill and poise that could only come from two bodies working in harmonious unison. Smiling, Jefferson shot lightning from his fingertips and sent a few men to the ground, wriggling in pain from mild electrocution.

In the middle of the chaos, Graydon Creed struggled to get free. He pushed one of his followers aside and began to run from the fighting.

~I see how it is,~ a voice said in his head. ~All the hatred I see in your mind. All the talk about how humans are the rightful owners of this planet, how mutants are wicked and need to be purged... How they are genetically inferior to your kind. That's just a load of bollocks.~

Creed suddenly stopped, his knees locked in place and unable to move. Creed struggled to move his legs, arms, and whole body. But, to his horror, found them all stuck in place.

"You see, Mister Creed," a voice said from behind him. "You say these words, and I believe that you believe them... but it is bollocks."

Charles stepped in front of Creed's line of sight and looked the man dead in the eye.

"If mutants are genetically inferior, if we are indeed scum that needs to be purged from the planet, then why can I say that I have no intention of killing you... No matter how much I want to, deep down in my heart?"

Creed could feel pressure on his skull. To him, it felt like his brain was growing rapidly. He moaned somewhere in his throat, unable to move his lips to fully express his pain.

"See, your mind's pain receptors are susceptible to psychic manipulation. I imagine what you're going through is horrible. The worst pain you've ever felt."

Clearing his throat, Charles leaned in close and whispered into Creed's ear.

"You leave these people alone, Creed. You never bother them. If you think this pain is the worst, I can do, then you are wrong. You see, I've looked into your mind. I know all your dark secrets. Every evil thing you've ever thought or done. I know about you. I know about where you come from. Imagine what all your followers would do if they knew the truth. Why, they'd probably tear you to shreds. A little pain is nothing compared to what else I can do. Test me, please. Then you will see how committed I am to the mutant cause."

Suddenly, the pain was gone and Creed was on the ground, whimpering and curled up in a ball. When he looked up, Charles was nowhere to be seen.

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


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Old 10-08-2012, 12:08 PM   #102
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The Rannian science vessel, Sardath, floats just outside the planet's gravity field. It's captain sits by, eagerly watching the doomed world, and the rare cosmic event that is transpiring.
The planet's gravity has finally pulled it's large moon into a final descent. It would only be another hour or so before the moon crashes into the planet, creating an extinction event that will decimate the entire world.

No sentient life inhabited the world, just alien flora and fauna, mindless plants and animals. So the Sardath, named after the famous Rannian scientist, sits back with every instrument available to it, recording the show.

Suddenly, the ships proximity sensors begin to go off.

"Report", the captain shouts, rudely interrupted from the cosmic event.

"Unknown object, coming in fast to our port!"

"All power to the shields! Evasive maneuvers, now!"

The ship's engines fired up, as the vessel moved out of the path of the unknown object, but the thing changed it's course, heading once more for the ship.

The yellow streak smashed into the ship's engines at near light speed, ripping right through it's power core, and blowing out the other side without slowing down at all.
The Sardath groaned in protest and it's engines exploded, destroying the ship and scattering it's remains across dying world below as the streak of yellow continued it's steadfast course through the void...


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


Norrin Radd stepped into Abin Sur's quarters, pausing as he noticed Abin was not alone. Three other Lanterns stood with Abin, standing around a table that hosted a holoscreen displaying a star chart of the galaxy.

Norrin entered the room, greeting the three Green Lanterns whom he knew well.



Isamot Kol. Isamot had joined the Corp shortly after Norrin became apart of the Corp's struggle to survive. They had worked together on numerous missions, and Isamot was one of Abin's trusted lieutenants.



Salaak was a veteran of the remaining Corps, having been a Green Lantern almost as long as Abin Sur. Salaak was the Corp's resident historian and record keeper, but he was known for his creativity with his constructs, and was probably one of Abin Sur's most trusted comrades.



Out of all the Lanterns in the room, Gamora was by far the youngest, having only been a member of the Corps for five years now. But she quickly showed to possess one of the strongest wills of the Corps, and a martial skill unmatched by all the members. She was given the nickname, "The Most Dangerous Woman in the Universe", and it's an appropriate title.

"Good, now that you are all here we can begin", Abin explained as he turned to Salaak.

"Okay, Salaak...let's begin..."

"Yes...as you all know", Salaak began as he changed the holoscreen from a star chart to old historical documents of the Green Lantern Corp, prior to the betrayal.
"Before the Great Betrayal by Krona and Parallax, the Green Lanterns were recognized as guardians of justice throughout the galaxy."

The display changed to one of battle, of Green Lanterns being hunted down and killed, their rings destroyed.
Of the rise of the Fear and Death Lanterns, and the destruction of the Corps.

"Since the Great Betrayal, all spectrums have been wiped out, save ours. Thanks to Gathnet's sacrifice, we were able to keep our power, and fight back against Death and Fear before it spreads across the entire cosmos."

"Yeah, I know the history, we all do...and that hasn't really worked out for us too well", chimed Isamot.
"For the past two-thousand years since that betrayal, and all we've been able to do is barely manage to keep the Core alive. In two millenniums we've barely made a scratch. And their current Deimos is a former Green Lantern, for Gathnet's sake."

Isamot stopped himself after letting that last part slip out. Abin Sur just give him a glare, and he knew he let his frustrations get the better of him and he slipped up. Abin Sur did not like talking about his former, traitorous pupil.

"Despite the outburst, Isamot is correct"
, Abin spoke after a few moments of uncomfortable silence.

"Since the Betrayal, the Core has been on it's heels, barely managing to stay one step ahead of it's enemies. We've become forgotten across the majority of the universe. Green Lanterns are considered by many to be nothing more than a myth, and Fear and Death Lanterns would want to make that a total reality."

"We have been running and scattered for too long"
, Abin Sur stated, his fist punching down into the table for emphasis.
"It's time we strike back."

"What is the plan, Abin"
, asked Norrin.

"As we are now, we're not strong enough to carry out any major offensive, so we have to change that. Norrin, I am giving you and Isamot a list of six names", Abin replies as he passes Norrin a datapad.
"These are former Green Lanterns, once some of the Core's greatest, but now they've given up, going into a life of hiding and solitude."

"If we are to end this seemingly endless war, we will need all of them back into the fold. Once you have all six with you, return to base immediately."

"While you're away on your mission, Salaak and I have one of our own. Even with any extra rings we're going to need allies. Salaak will accompany me as I gather them."


"What", Gamora shouts in protest. Gamora had been silent since the meet started, quietly taking in all the information before wanting to chime in. But she couldn't remain silent any more.

"With all due respect, sir. You are the most wanted sentient by the Fear Mongers. Every piece of filth in the universe is after your head."


"Your point, Gamora?"

"My point is Salaak is not half the warrior I am, no offense", Gamora answers, with a look towards Salaak when she 'apologized'.
"I should be the one joining you on your mission."

"If it's any consolation, Gamora"
, Salaak sighed, "I'd rather it be you going as well, but alas, it is not so."

"I'm sorry Gamora", Abin Sur explained, "but this mission requires a more...diplomatic touch. That is why I am bringing Salaak with me. Besides, I have a extremely important job for you."

"And what could that possibly be"
, Gamora frowned, accepting Abin Sur's answer, but obviously not happy about it.

"I'm leaving in charge while we're gone."

Gamora seemed surprised by the news for an instant, but quickly regained her composure as Abin continued.

"While you're maintaining things here I'm giving you the task of finding out who the mole in our ranks is, and taking them out. But I want it done quietly. If word got out across the camp about one of us turning against the Core, it would be a morale killer."

"No problem, sir", Gamora nodded.
"By the time you all get back, our spy problem will be solved."

"I have no doubt of that", Abin spoke with a slight smile.

"Okay then...you have your orders, and we don't have time to spare. So let's move out, people."

They all exited the building, Gamora walking off back towards the main camp while her four compatriots prepared to depart.

"Gamora is not the only one concerned by this plan", Norrin explained as he moved to stand next to Abin Sur.

"Oh?"

"It is not wise to only the two of you going. You should take a few other rings with you, just in case."

"Your concern is appreciated, my friend", Abin smiled as he clasped Norrin Radd on the shoulder.
"But the underlying theme of both our missions is stealth. Salaak and I have worked together for a long time, and we can keep under the radar better as just the two of us than with a large group. We'll be fine."

"If you say so", Norrin replied, still a bit leery, but conceding defeat.

The four Lanterns silently shot off into the atmosphere and into orbit. After a final goodbye, they split off into their respective pairs and went their separate ways, with the hopes of the Green Lantern's survival resting on their shoulders.


A CALL TO ARMS
Part 1

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Old 10-10-2012, 12:26 AM   #103
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The man nearly stumbled over his feet as he attempted to run faster than they were capable of carrying him. Luckily he caught himself with an outstretched arm and ran down the sidewalk past a few curious onlookers who happened to be on the streets at this time of night.
His face a mask of panic, the man ducked into between two old apartment buildings trying to flee some unseen danger. The frightened man comes to a large fence that blocks his path, but it doesn't deter him as, almost immediately, he begins to climb.

The man is so intent on getting away that he doesn't notice the shadowy figure silently descend behind him from the rooftops on a thin strand of web.

"You know...this would be pretty funny if it wasn't just plain embarrassing", Spider-Man exclaimed, surprising the man, causing him to fall off of the fence and onto his back.

"Seriously, I know I'm still knew on the scene and all"
, Spidey continues as he flips off from the web to land perfectly in front of the scared man.
"But I would've thought word would've spread by now?"

The man's hand shot into his coat and he wildly whipped out a revolver, but a precise shot with a webline by Spider-Man disarmed the man before he could get a shot off.

"Apparently I am mistaken!"

Spider-Man pounces on the man, grabbing him by his collar, pulling him to his feet, and slamming him hard into the side of one of the buildings.

"Okay, Frankie Reynolds..."


The man, Frankie, froze as he heard Spider-Man use his name.

"That's right, Frankie...I've been told all about you. People say you're a man who knows things. Things that are...less than legal. You know who put the hit out on Norman Osborn. Talk."

"I don't know what you've been told", Frankie sputtered, finding some bit of courage buried within him, "but I don't know nothin' about no Osborn."

Spider-Man chuckled, "Okay...guess you want to make this fun."

Frankie gave Spider-Man a puzzled look, then the hero took off, leaping up between the buildings with a screaming Frankie in tow.
Spider-Man eventually got to the roof, five stories up, and quickly webbed up Frankie's feet, tossing him over the edge.

The still-screaming Frankie swung hard into the side of the building, knocking the wind out of him. Spider-Man held the other end with his left hand.

"Hope you enjoyed the ride up here, Frankie. I know you know who hired the hitman to kill Osborn! Tell me, or you're going on another ride!"

To emphasize his bluff, Spider-Man released his grip on the webline, causing Frankie Reynolds to plummet for an entire second before catching him and pulling him back up.
Covered in sweat and panicking, Frankie gave in.
"Okay! Jesus ****ing Christ! I'll tell ya, just put me the **** down!"

"First, talk!"

"Seems your buddy Osborn got in bed with some bad people, and pretty much screwed 'em over. As you can imagine, they didn't take too kindly to that, so they wanted to make ol' Norman an example."

"I want a name", Spider-Man demands.

"Lonnie Lincoln, outta Hell's Kitchen. They call him the 'Tombstone'."


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

"I have to say there, Gwen, you do have a gift or photography."

"Thank you", Gwen smiled, grateful for the compliment.
It was still the morning hours, and she sat at her makeshift desk at the Bugle, and she was going over some photos on her laptop she recently took of a crime scene in Queens of a B&E child abduction with the Bugle journalist whose piece they were for, Basil Karlo.

"These illustrate the piece's urgency perfectly. This is the third one of these breaking and entering abductions in Queens within the past three week. This is something major going on here..."

"Good morning, lady and 'gent", Robbie Robertson, a senior editor of the Bugle, greeted Gwen and Basil then took a sip of him coffee.

"Morning, Mr. Robertson."

"Morning."

"What do we got going on here"
, Robertson asked.

"Putting the finishing touches on a piece I'm working on", Karlo explained.
"The lovely Ms. Stacy here was kind enough to take some picture for me relating to the case. We're just going over them now."

Robbie moves over to look at a few of the pictures on Gwen's laptop.

"Nice work, Gwen", Robbie states after a few moments of reviewing the pictures.
"And, Basil", Robertson continues, turning to face Karlo.
"Don't you have a deadline looming for your Great White piece?"

"Yeah, don't worry, Robbie", Basil explained, a bit annoyed by the nagging.
"I'm actually on my way to meet with an informant right now."

Basil Karlo stood up and straightened himself.
"Thank you again for your help, Gwen", he said with a wink.

"No problem, Basil", Gwen smiled.
"Always willing to help a friend if I can."

"A pleasure as always, Mr. Robertson", Karlo said with a hint of sarcasm, and then departed the Daily Bugle to go meet with his mysterious informant...



THE DEVIL'S DUE

Part 1

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Old 10-10-2012, 10:47 PM   #104
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In a darkened room in a dark corner of Gotham City, a table sits under a dirty, dim light bulb. Around the table sits the most powerful men in the City.

"So he gets into police headquarters and out without anyone getting and ID or a shot on the guy?" Carmine Falcone asks, annoyed and angry as possible. "What the hell kind of operation are you running here, Loeb?"

"We were out trying to catch him," Commissioner Loeb responds. "He must have doubled back behind us."

"He must have doubled back behind you, huh? Well maybe we need to find someone to run the police that wouldn't let that happen."

"I don't have a problem with the way ol' Loeb does his job," Sal Maroni interjects, straightening his suit jacket. "Maybe you're just worried since the Bat is closing in on one of your hits, Carmine?"

"I'm gonna have to plead the fifth in front of our esteemed commissioner on that one, Sal," Falcone answers sarcastically.

"How'd he do that anyway?" Maroni ponders. "The cops were out lookin' for him."

"On the other side of the city no less," Loeb answers dejected. "It's like he flew back to the station."

"Maybe he is a mutant."

"Who cares who he's going after or what he is, the Batman's bad for business," Tony Zucco says in a puff of smoke from his cigar. "He needs to be dealt with."

"I couldn't agree more," Mayor Cobblepot adds. "He escaped in front of a fully armed SWAT team. This is going to take all of our efforts, gentlemen."

"Why should I put my money and resources into something like that?" Maroni asks surprised. "I got more money to make."

"You don't seem all that worried about him," Falcone angrily rises. "How do we know he ain't working for you to take the rest of us down?"

"He ain't that smart," Zucco laughs.

"Enough," Cobblepot cuts the fighting off before it escalates. "This squabbling will get us nowhere. If this Batman continues in his current pace, he could eventually pose a threat to our earnings."

"So what do you suggest?"

"I suggest that we put a hold on any outstanding hostilities. Each boss keeps to their own territory. And you tell your men to shoot to kill. Understood?"

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Old 10-10-2012, 11:34 PM   #105
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Previously



Spoiler!!! Click to Read!:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Byrd Man View Post
Nodding, the two Madrox bodies turned back to the camp while Al followed.

"Alright, suicide mission. My favorite kind."

"Don't worry, Rex. Nobody will be hurt."

"I wouldn't say that," said Scott, a red glint coming off his visor.

"Well, nobody will die. Come on, follow my lead."

Together, the three of them walked through the woods towards the armed men waiting for them. Once they got close, they heard a voice bark out orders.

"Stay right there," a man said in a slow drawl. He came out the woods, aiming a rifle at them "********. Where's the rest of y'all?"

"This is it, my friend," Charles said, with his palms out. "As you can see, we are unarmed."

"**** you are, you damn muties can do all kinds of things."

"Yes," he said, focusing on the man's mind. ~Far more than you will ever realize...~

The man stood there, slack-jawed and wide-eyed as Charles went to work on his mind. Suddenly, the man turned around and shouted behind him. "I found 'em! They're surrendering!"

On cue, nearly a dozen men emerged from the woods. They each had on camouflage and carried weapons. In the back were the two Madrox twins along with Jefferson, Jean, and Hank. Beside the hostages was the tall, blonde man Charles had identified as Creed.

Charles met eyes with Jean and nodded. She titled her head and the guns the militants had were ripped from their hands and tossed away from them. Scott opened fire with an optic blast, knocking four of the anti-mutant attackers to the ground.

The two Madrox twins burst into action, disabling the unarmed men around them with a skill and poise that could only come from two bodies working in harmonious unison. Smiling, Jefferson shot lightning from his fingertips and sent a few men to the ground, wriggling in pain from mild electrocution.

In the middle of the chaos, Graydon Creed struggled to get free. He pushed one of his followers aside and began to run from the fighting.

~I see how it is,~ a voice said in his head. ~All the hatred I see in your mind. All the talk about how humans are the rightful owners of this planet, how mutants are wicked and need to be purged... How they are genetically inferior to your kind. That's just a load of bollocks.~

Creed suddenly stopped, his knees locked in place and unable to move. Creed struggled to move his legs, arms, and whole body. But, to his horror, found them all stuck in place.

"You see, Mister Creed," a voice said from behind him. "You say these words, and I believe that you believe them... but it is bollocks."

Charles stepped in front of Creed's line of sight and looked the man dead in the eye.

"If mutants are genetically inferior, if we are indeed scum that needs to be purged from the planet, then why can I say that I have no intention of killing you... No matter how much I want to, deep down in my heart?"

Creed could feel pressure on his skull. To him, it felt like his brain was growing rapidly. He moaned somewhere in his throat, unable to move his lips to fully express his pain.

"See, your mind's pain receptors are susceptible to psychic manipulation. I imagine what you're going through is horrible. The worst pain you've ever felt."

Clearing his throat, Charles leaned in close and whispered into Creed's ear.

"You leave these people alone, Creed. You never bother them. If you think this pain is the worst, I can do, then you are wrong. You see, I've looked into your mind. I know all your dark secrets. Every evil thing you've ever thought or done. I know about you. I know about where you come from. Imagine what all your followers would do if they knew the truth. Why, they'd probably tear you to shreds. A little pain is nothing compared to what else I can do. Test me, please. Then you will see how committed I am to the mutant cause."

Suddenly, the pain was gone and Creed was on the ground, whimpering and curled up in a ball. When he looked up, Charles was nowhere to be seen.



"Mutant Town"
Kentucky



Charles walked through the camp with Amanda Waller at his side. She had showed up twenty minutes ago with a squad of SEALs in tow, ready to take down any an everything they found in their way. They had taken down the few stragglers that the mutants hadn't managed to take out before they had showed up.

Now, the soldiers were being led through the forest by Scott and Hank. Looking for anyone else hiding out in the woods.

"So, what is this place?" Waller asked, looking around at the mutants huddled around campfires.

"Sanctuary. A place for mutants to be with their own kind."

"Right. I get that, I do. But the people I work for, the people you work for, ain't going to see it like that. They'll see this as a potential violent situation..."

"Why? This is a community made of members of a minority. What makes this different than Harlem in New York? Or East Los Angeles?"

Waller shot Charles a look and then shook her head. "Please. Don't play dumb, Xavier. The brothers in Harlem can't level a building by sneezing."

"But that is worse case scenario only. If these people are left alone and are left in peace, they can only do good things. The government meddling, or humanity's meddling will lead to violence."

"I'm sorry," she said with a shrug."Whatever is decided, it's outside of my control. You know that."

With that Waller walked away, leaving Charles alone. Shaking his head, he walked through the camp to where two of the Madrox bodies, Jamie and Joe, were with Sam and Paige Guthrie. Paige's skin was shimmering.

"She did it," Jamie said, looking up at Charles as he approached. "Her mutant ability activated."

"Diamond skin," asked Charles.

"No," Paige said. She touched her arm and pulled the diamond-covered skin away. Underneath was a layer of granite. "Lots of different skins."

"Paige kicked the asses of like four guys," Sam said with a proud look at his sister."

"Good for you," Charles said with an appreciative nod at the girl. "Madrox, we should talk."

Joe Madrox stood and nodded. He walked with Charles while Jamie stayed and talked to the children.

"You need to leave here."

"Considering what happened here, that's a given.I think we brought ourselves some time. And your government pals will keep them off our back long enough to get prepared to move."

"No, I mean leave here right now."

"Why?"

"Because of my government friends. They have something planned with the camp. What that is, I'm not sure. But you don't need to give them a chance. Tonight, after the sun is down, get everyone into your RVs and get as far away from here as you can."

"And do what? Bad enough that Creed and his cavemen were after us... but the government? There is no way we can run and survive. Especially since we've been sized up by your boss and her pet SEALs."

"Let me worry about them. As for how you can survive? Go public with this," Charles waved his hand all around him. "All of this. The camp as a safe haven for mutants, a place where a feared and hated minority can be given a chance to live in peace. You get enough publicity and press on your new town, you will be untouchable."

"Charles... I don't know what to say. I don't know how I could repay you for this."

"Say thank you... and repay me by doing what you want to do."

Nodding, Charles turned away from Madrox and walked towards the edge of the woods where Waller was waiting. The SEALs were coming into the camp, Scott and Hank at the front.

"I have to call this in, Charles. You know that."

"I do," Charles said, placing his right hand up to his temple. "But I think you may have misremembered some of the details..."

With that, Charles closed his eyes and reached out into the minds of Waller and her soldiers.



*****
Utopia
12 Hours Later


"...When I arrived with the Navy SEALs, we found Xavier's students engaged in combat with a violent anti-mutant organization that called itself the Friends of Humanity. We helped them secure the area and restrain the group and their leader, one Graydon Creed. Creed and the group were arrested by local PD to the state pen."

Waller was standing in the facility's conference room. She was standing at the front of the table while Gyrich, Xavier, and an admiral from the Navy looked on.

"And what about what was inside this camp, Mrs. Waller?" Gyrich asked, taking a casual look over at Xavier.

"Whatever was there was gone. From the look of the camp, they had left just before Xavier's team left for Kentucky. Right after we found out about them."

"Uh-huh... So, no trace of this massive group of mutants?"

"Tire tracks," said Charles. "Looked like that of an RV. But that was it, really."

"Right. Any questions, Admiral?"

"No," the admiral said after a long pause. "You can dismiss them if you want, Mr. Gyrich."

Gyrich nodded and Waller left with Xavier right behind her. As soon as the door was closed, the admiral spoke.

"I want you to keep a closer eye on Waller. Have her tailed any time she leaves Utopia, and monitor her computer activity."

"Do you think she's compromised?"

"Just suspicious. Afraid she might have gone native. With Xavier, plant bugs in his quarters, his office, the classrooms, and all the rooms used by his students."

"Yes, sir."

The admiral nodded and stood. He placed his cap on his head and looked down at Gyrich. "I'll be back tomorrow morning. I want a tour of the Alcatraz facility and all updates on Doctor Essex's progress."

"I'll be there with bells on," Gyrich said with a salute. "Admiral Stryker."

Stryker gave Gyrich and informal salute and left the conference room.



*****


Charles sat in his office, leaning back in his chair. He had a copy of his book in his lap. He stared down at the book for several moments before picking it off his lap and placing it on the desk. Charles leaned forward on to the desk, ran his hands through his hair, and sighed.

Fighting his own kind, having to manipulate government agents so other mutants could have peace and security. His original goal when he was cajoled to join the government had changed. Instead of protecting mutants, he was hurting them. Instead of teaching them how to use their powers, he was turning them into weapons. He needed to change. Leaning back in his chair, Charles made a decision.

~Hank, can you hear me?~

~Professor? What's wrong?~

~Hank, I need your help. How are you when it comes to computers?~


~I will admit that I am better in other sciences, but I have dabbled in computer science. Why?~

~Do you think you can create a virus? Something to eat at a database and wipe data away?~


~I have never really tried, but you never know what you are capable of until you try. What's this concerning?~

~I think that it would be for the benefit of all of us if you could make something like that. Something we could use on the computer system's here at Utopia.~

~Professor, you surely can't be--~

~I am, Hank. And as far as you know, this conversation never happened.~

~Technically, it didn't. Conversations tend to be spoken aloud.~

~That's the spirit. Now, see what you can do for me... and keep it to yourself. If you have a question, you send it mentally. Never out loud.~

~My lips are sealed, as is my mind... to a point.~



Charles broke the link with Hank and grabbed the remote on the desk. He flipped the office's TV on and flipped through the channels. He stopped when he saw breaking news on a 24 hour news network. A reporter was standing in a field behind a group of RVs and mobile homes.

"--just twenty miles away from the town of Seymour, Indiana is where they will now call home. Over two dozen mutants are here, setting up shop in this new town they will found. I was able to speak to one of their leaders. A woman who just called herself Madrox."

The screen cut to Jane Madrox standing in front of the cameras.

"The important part about this is that we're here and we are not leaving. This community is here for any and all mutants out there who have no home, no shelter, or no family. We're here for you."

"Are you worried that this makes you a target for anti-mutant groups? A large grouping of mutants makes it easier for them to protest and confront you."

"It won't be easy. I know that much. It will be difficult.A wise man told me that
gaining the peace and solitude we seek is never easy. But it is worth fighting for. We each have to make a choice. Is the mutant race worth it, are their hopes and wishes worth fighting for? I think they are. And I won't idly stand by while the rest of the world hates our kind and only believe the anti-mutant propaganda. Here we can show mutants and humans alike that there is a better way."

"And what will you call the town?"

The screen cut to the Guthrie siblings and a handful of other mutants standing by as Al Pratt hammered a wooden sign into the ground. Pratt stepped away, showing a handwritten sign announcing the town name and population.

"Sanctuary, Indiana. Population, twenty-six and growing."

Even though he was still filled with self-loathing and sadness, Charles managed a smile as the story ended with a shot of the town of Sanctuary, gathered together and waving at the cameras.



*****



Epilogue

Kentucky State Penitentiary
Eddyville, Kentucky


Graydon Creed brooded in his cell. Unlike the rest of his men, he was unharmed. The mutant who had attacked him hadn't used claws or eye beams, but he had used his mind. While Creed had no bumps of bruises, he had the everlasting memory of the pain that damn mutie had put in his head. It was like being burned alive, it was that intense. Even in the stillness of the cell, he could feel the pain lingering in the back of his mind.

"Creed," a guard said from the end of the hallway. The doors slid open and the guard who had called his name walked in. "Let's go. You made bail."

"The hell?" Creed asked with a furrowed brow. The bail had been set at five million. There was no way anyone he knew could have fronted ten percent of that.

He stood and followed the guard out the cellblock. Twenty minutes later, he was out of his prison clothes and standing in front of the prison. A black SUV with tinted windows was idling by the road. Two men in dark suits climbed out the car and then opened the back of the car for another man. He was tall, with a hard face and a trim beard. He had on a black three-piece suit with white pinstripes. There was a red H pin on his lapel.

"Mr. Creed," the man said with a smirk. "Pleasure to finally meet you."

"Do I know you?"

"No, but I know you. Read some of your works, saw the good work you did outside Claremont Township."

"Wasn't that good. Didn't kill any of them damn muties."

"You didn't, but it was a start. A good start. You have the raw tools and material. You have the most important tool. You have hate."
"That a fact?" Creed asked skeptically.

"Yes, and don't downplay the power of hate. Hate is the strongest feeling there is, and I believe it's humanity's truest emotion. Hate is what makes the world go around, and you have hate in spades."

"Uh-huh. Mister, how about you cut through the bull**** and tell me what you want?"

"I want your hate, Creed. I want to shape it and mold it. Make it into something even greater than it is. I want to make you into a weapon, a weapon we can point at all of mutant kind and incinerate in one fell swoop. You do want your revenge, don't you?"

"Damn right. And who are you? Klan? Neo-Nazi?"

"Neo-Nazi. Ha. That's a good one. No, I am merely a spokesman for a very old and very powerful organization. You may call me Savage..."




"Are you familiar with the words... Hellfire?"

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-- Thomas Paine


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Old 10-13-2012, 05:47 PM   #106
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An Off-the-books Lexcorp subsidiary’s laboratory - Undisclosed location outside of Houma, LA



“Get a load of this, Ted! Dish 52. That look like extraordinary growth to you?”

Theodore Sallis crossed the laboratory floor to see what Alec Holland was referring to.

“Show it here...” he gestured for the dish. “Nah, Alec. You’re reaching there. Give it a week.”

“Ah, what would you know, Doc. With that fringe hanging over your eyes, I’m surprised you could see well enough to find your way over here... and don’t get me started on your sideburns.”

Doctor Theodore Sallis smirked at the gentle mocking from the younger scientist. “Well... you’re the one who asked for me.” He shrugged. Ted was right. In more ways than one.

It had been three months since Sallis had made his way to the bayou down in Louisiana on Holland’s request. Luthor had prodded, naturally, with the threat of pulling funding, but it was curiosity with the particular aspect of Holland’s work that attracted him to the swampland like another mosquito. Bio-restoration was a field that Sallis was very interested in, and possessed as much theoretical knowledge on key aspects as anyone out there – but it was the pollution that such endeavours would produce that Sallis found it impossible to justify. That and the joys a young boy found in the stories great-grandpappy Sallis used to tell are what eventually led Theodore to the work he would eventually take.

Sallis returned to his desk, whilst a centrifuge continued spinning off to the side. He seldom spoke of his work, and never of its stage in progress, but its residue was still left all across his side of the lab. He perched himself on a lab-stool in his favourite position; under his hung replica of the fallen hero, Captain America’s shield. Numerous yellowed newspaper clippings with some of Rogers’ few public statements were also stuck to the wall for inspiration. Well, Alec Holland assumed for inspiration. His workspace was otherwise clear, aside from a small wooden box. He never kept notes and would often just seem to stare off into space for lengthy periods. He had a small one sheet-shredder by his desk, and would only do the most rudimentary of calculations on loose leaf paper, before immediately shredding the results. Some would call him neurotic, Ted preferred “meticulous”.

The centrifuge stopped, and Sallis eyed it cautiously. Furtively checking neither Holland nor any of the other lab assistants were looking, he snuck the tube into a sewn-in interior pocket in his lab coat. Sallis remained silent. Before slapping his hands on his knees and getting back to his feet.

“So, let’s have a look at those other dishes you’ve got today...”

Alec stopped and looked at the older doctor. Whilst Ted was always willing to help and lend an eye over his work, it was unusual that Sallis would be the one to approach him. He would sigh and often begrudgingly stagger across from his work station, somewhat understandable considering how much Sallis relied on carrying a mental train of thought – and Ted had often “snapped” and yelled in the early months of his time here – but Dr Sallis was an extremely emotional, and at times a very selfish man. When Sallis eventually agreed to move his work down to the bayou, Alec got the impression that it was less about helping a young man in the same endeavour and more pressure from financiers, followed by the work that Holland himself was doing.

Holland had worked for three days trying to craft the perfect letter to send for the brilliant doctor, trying carefully to evoke his own veneration in Sallis, whilst trying to stay grounded and hold back his fan-boyism. The letter he received in response, whilst not cold, still was grounded heavily in his interest and thoughts on the field and never any attempt to relate to the person who sent the initial letter.

So for Dr Sallis to be coming to him now?

“Alright, I’ll bite. What’re you playing at, Ted?”

Ted gave a self-effacing chuckle, understanding all too well what Alec was referring to.

The muffler of a black SUV gave its own guffaw as it pulled out the front the building.

Ted kept walking, furtively looking from side to side for anyone who may be listening in, unable to mask the wry smile and keep the excitement from his face.

Lexcorp security guards fall to the ground unconscious outside.

“Well, you see Alec, after an entire life’s work I’ve finally fini—“

“Hello, gentlemen.” A voice interrupted. “If you make with your notes, prototypes and any new discoveries that you have on these premises, this should be a quick and painless transaction.”




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16,18, not much difference mentally or physically. It's a number over there. Here however it's the difference between mid life crisis with hot chicks with daddy issues and pound me in the ass prison. - Anubis

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Old 10-13-2012, 06:06 PM   #107
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The man wore a yellow head-to-toe NBC suit, giving him the distinct and somewhat comical appearance of a beekeeper. But whatever laughs his attire may have raised were quelled by the assault rifle or similar looking weapon he held in his hands.

Sallis clammed up fast. He’d heard rumour of this exact type of event. A group known only as A.I.M. but due to some of their activities many has speculated their name may stand for Abductors and Innovations Misappropriated, more than a few intelligent men had vanished from the eye of the world and rumour of what exactly happened abounded and spread through the scientific community.

The man ran an eye over Holland’s work area, scattered notes and samples.

“Alec, step away from the desk, it’s not worth it.” Ted spoke softly, but with a dark scowl on his face. Rage boiling beneath the surface but tempered, possibly by the firearm the man wielded.

“You should listen to your frien—“ the man from A.I.M paused and looked at just who that “friend” was. There was not a man in A.I.M. who wouldn’t recognise him by sight, they had merely been too preoccupied with checking exits and blind-spots for security, followed by the primary objective – data, to take a closer look at the scientists present.

“Now THIS is luck… there was only supposed to be some preliminary data from a young no-name environmental scientist. Of all the shantys in all of America, how did you wind up in this one, Dr Theodore Sallis?” he could feel the man’s leer from the inflection, it didn’t matter that he couldn’t see his face.

The tone supported the rumours he’d heard, and Dr Sallis began to realise the likelihood of a free life dwindling down towards zero. Another man in an NBC suit scanned the wooden box with some kind of device, others grabbed notes, while the first seemed to be attempting to communicate with his superiors over some kind of unseen Comm-link inside of his helmet.

“...come in Scientist Supreme. It appears that there was an extra prize hidden in the bottom of Luthor’s cereal box. Alright, alright... I’ll tell you what I mean...” apparently the voice on the other end of the line, wasn’t happy with what passed as his brand of ‘cleverness’. The A.I.M underling turned his back in hushed excitement to report to his superior “We’ve found Theodore Sallis...”

WHUMP!

All eyes turned to the sound. The head of the tactical A.I.M squad lay prostrate on the ground with the replica of Captain America’s shield resting on his back. Only Dr Sallis heels could be heard, pounding against the dirt track in desperation. An A.I.M. man raised his weapon before receiving a scolding.

“No, you fool! That’s Sallis. We need him alive.”

Alec breathed a sigh of relief.

“...but we told him we wanted this to be painless. He chose not to listen. Dumb move for a smart man. We’ve got the notes? Torch the rest.”

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Old 10-13-2012, 06:20 PM   #108
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Alec’s face fell in dread. An A.I.M man with a flame-thrower started burning the complex from the outside. Holland started grabbing what labelled dishes he could as fast as possible in a panicked rush. This was his life’s work. He couldn’t lose it all. He just couldn’t. He clutched dishes to his chest in his mad fervour, spilling their contents over his lab coat in the process. Then he saw the hopelessness. The wall of flame. Right between him and the door.

He dropped the dishes, his life’s work. It would take a miracle just to get out of this with his life, let alone with its works intact. Through high flames he saw the man with the flamethrower jump in the back of a leaving black SUV. Presumably in pursuit of Ted.

“I’d wish you ‘good luck’ Ted, but I don’t think I have any to spare right now...” Alec Holland stood back, and gave himself a clear running start for the best chance at an escape.


*****


Meanwhile, Theodore Sallis had managed to make it to his car. A stock-standard sedan, Ted had never been one for unnecessary extravagance, and his environmentally friendly conscience could never allow him to buy an all-terrain vehicle when almost all of his life had been city living.

Right about now though, he’d be willing to torch the entire Amazon rainforest for a 4 by 4...

Wheels spun in mud and sludge. He’d bogged down half a mile from the lab. Dr Sallis swore in anger and wild frustration... the wheels grinded on nothing, digging a trench while the car sat in place... So lost in his rage he started thrashing at the steering wheel, accidentally hitting the horn in the process. He slumped his head over the wheel. He was letting his emotions get the better of him again.

“There’s nothing positive to be gained from this.” He realised. What would Cap do? He’d buck up, Teddy boy. Buck up and sack up and do what he could with what he’d been given. What Cap would do had already got him out of one situation where by all rights he should be a goner, it couldn’t hurt now.

“What Cap would do..?”

Theodore Sallis patted the area just over his heart.

“It’s still there... Sure, I’m only on foot, but it’s still there.”

Dr Ted Sallis opened his hidden pocket and pulled out the vial of serum. He gave a wry smile, and planned to give those bastard beekeepers a taste of the science they’d wanted so badly, just as soon as he’d found a vein.


*****


Alec Holland started his sprint.

“You can do this, Alec.” He told himself. “Just get up speed, jump through the fire. Just like waving a hand through a candle’s flame. Quick and painless.” He told himself, trying desperately to drive all scientific knowledge of the contrary out of his mind.

He jumped just as he came to the blaze.

A single spark of a thought flashed through his mind “Wait a minute, don’t all of Luthor’s Labs come with sprinkler systems..?” and was confirmed as the overheads burst into life... a second too late.

The man’s white lab coat burst orange as the contents of the petri dishes that he held spilled down his front erupted, turning Holland into a screaming inferno.


*****


Sallis injected himself with the serum and began running back towards the compound, with vengeance in his heart.


*****


PAIN! PAIN! PAIN! Ohmigod I’m on f***ing fire! PAIN! WhaddoIdo! PAIN! Ohmigod!

Stop, drop and roll?!? PAIN!

Holland fell to the ground and rolled to put out the fire, but was unable to smother the chemical blaze.

The swamp!

In flaming agony, Alec Holland sprinted like a human blazing comet, dripping flaming material and even burning fat in his wake towards the only possible relief.


*****


Dr Sallis kept running, and that’s when it hit him. Steve Rogers had taken the serum in a contained safe environment, allowing the full effects to take hold in a controlled place. Sallis had no such luxury. His heart pumped fire, his skull felt like it was going to burst and he ached all over. The serum began to work its way into his mind as it had done with Rogers almost a century ago, accentuating his mental strengths and flaws. Driving a mind, long controlled by empassioned response, but reasoned action into a state of temporary flux while it sought its level.

And that was why he never saw the swamp’s edge...


*****


The cosmic dice were cast.

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More Anubis' greatest hits:
"Families are Gods way of teaching us to get along with people we don't particularly like."

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Old 10-14-2012, 07:40 PM   #109
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~Opening the Scars~

The man that was once my brother and I circle each other on the property of the destroyed house, as three police officers lay dead or dying in the street next to us, killed by Victor's friends, wherever and whoever they are.

Victor is just as feral and wild as I remember him. We've crossed paths many times since that fateful day almost two hundred years ago. Each one leaves where ever we are scarred and destroyed.

But that's all Victor's good for. Destroying everything around him. He's nothing but a mad dog that has no leash. I wonder if whoever he's working with knows what they've gotten into. Once my brother gets what he needs out of the situation, he'll tear his partner apart.

"I can't believe you killed that poor woman," he mocks. "I thought you had sworn off killing, James?"

He uses my real name, the name I haven't used in ages, to try and taunt me. I merely reply to it with a smile and, "Maybe. But I'd make an exception for you."

"That's right, runt," he smiles. "Rip my throat out with those claws of yours. Be what your nature tells you to be."

"And what's that? A rabid dog like you?" I snarl and rush him. I dodge a punch from him and drive my knee into his ribs. I then attempt to drive my fist down into his head, but he catches my arm, tossing me over his shoulder and through the air.

I land on one of the cop cars, shearing it in two. Next to where I land, one of the cops' bodies lies draining of its blood. The smell of the warm liquid stings my nostrils as Victor walks over to me, "No, Logan. Not a rabid dog. A perfect being. Better than the others on this rock. You pretend to be one of them. To be their protector. It's why you don't use your claws anymore. You hide your true self."

"Right, like you always thought."

"And like you have always fought against. Even when we were children."

"You mean like when you murdered our parents?"

"Oh, I think we both had a hand in that, brother. Besides, they would have done nothing other than hold us back. Human scum."

Grunting, I spring into an uppercut, the metal on my bones cracking his as the blow lands. He flies through the air from the force of the hit. It won't keep him down for long. His healing factor is just as good as mine.

"And that's where you're wrong, Victor," I say, cracking my knuckles, the adimantium making an ungodly sound. "We're just as low as the humans are. The things both of us have done in our lifetimes...we may even be lower than them."

And that's when the manhole cover slams into my chest.

He must have landed near it, and tossed it at me in a swift motion. The metal crunches into my armored chest, ripping down to the metal bones. The wound begins healing on my chest and the air refills my lungs as Victor pounces on me, tossing me through a nearby wall.

When I regain my bearings, I find myself in a small store. Vic leaps through the hole my body made in the building. The dust from my entrance still hangs in the air, and Victor takes his time trying to find me.

"No, that's where you've always been a fool, brother. We were made above them. We are stronger than they ever will be. This is our planet. We just need to take it."

As the dust clears, a desk flies through the air and slams into him, sending him back out into the night air. I follow kicking him in the ribs hard, causing him to spit up blood.

"This doesn't sound like you, Vic. Who's pulling your strings? Who's filling your head with these ideas?"

"Wouldn't you like to know," he says sarcastically. "You're going to have to find that out on your own Logan. And when you do, you will join us. You will see. This is just the beginning."

I can see the fire, and the passion in his eyes. He truly believes what he's saying. He isn't feigning for some plan. He isn't trying to trick me. Whoever he's found has changed him.

His foot rises swiftly between my legs, bringing stars to my eyes, and then slams my head into the concrete, disorienting me.

"This was fun, brother. Come find me if you think you can stop us. Or you can come join us, and become what we were always meant to be."

He then runs off into the night, leaving me behind as the police helicopter begins to circle overhead.

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Old 10-14-2012, 09:06 PM   #110
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Utopia
San Francisco Bay


Scott let loose with his visor, decapitating two practice dummies from forty yards away. He spun around, blasting another dummy as it popped up into range. He shot down three more dummies while Charles watched from the catwalk above the practice room.

"How long have you been standing there," Scott asked after a volley of optic blasts. He slid his visor up onto the top of his head and looked up at Charles.

"Long enough. You come here every night, Scott. Why? You have your practice time already. Why the extra training?"

"The situations we're in, the things we see, any amount of extra practice can be the difference between life and death."

"Yes," Charles said with a sigh. "On that, you are very right."

Charles walked down the catwalk steps and sat on the bottom stair, motioned for Scott to join him. The young man walked over and sat down.

"You've shown yourself to be quite capable in the field. More so than myself. Be honest and tell me why do you think that is."

"Umm... well. I think it may be because you, and Hank as well, are too smart. You look at all possible options and try to weigh the outcomes. While that works in chess and in the lab, it's not the best thing to do in the heat of battle. In short, you overthink it and don't act fast enough. Out there, in the thick of it, you have to think fast and have to try and think right. Sorry to say that, sir."

"No, I asked for your honesty. I appreciate it, and I do think you're right. Tell me, indecision aside, what else do you think makes a good leader?"

"Is this some kind of test or something?"

"No, this is just the two of us talking. Just Scott and Charles, open and honest. What do you think makes a good leader?"

"Well, I guess a good leader is someone who can inspire and motivate. Someone who wouldn't hesitate to do the same things he's asking the people under him to do."

"What about convictions? Would you respect a leader who stood by his convictions and beliefs, regardless of what the consequences and repercussions were?"

"I think it would honestly depend on what the beliefs were. I may not like them, but I would respect someone who sticks to their guns no matter what. You've told us before that our beliefs can guide us through even the darkest of times if we hold strong."

"Yes, I suppose you're right."

A sing-song tone came from Charles' pocket. He reached into his pocket and pulled his phone out. Charles sighed as he read the text on the phone's screen.

"Scott, please go to the living quarters and round everyone up. Mrs. Waller would like to see us."


*****


Charles and his students were strapped into their seats in the Blackbird. Hank and Scott were in the pilot and co-pilot's seats. Waller stood at the end of the fuselage, Gyrich behind her.

"Clock on this one is ticking. Gyrich will fully brief you while en route, but you're headed to Illinois. There was a bombing and several cops were murdered at the hands of a mutant. This man--"

Waller held up a grainy photo from the 70's that showed a black-haired man with large sideburns and a cigar in his mouth.

"Known simply as Logan, he's a wanted terrorist that's killed more people than most plagues. Now, Agent Gyrich is coming along to supervise in his capture."

"Why?" Jefferson asked with a skeptical look at Waller.

"Seeing as how you and your little friends have a tendency to let dangerous mutants get away, I figure you could do with some backup."

With a smirk, Gyrich walked past Waller and strapped into a seat away from the others.

"What are we waiting on?" He asked with a look towards the front. "We have a mutant terrorist on the loose. Let's go!"

Waller nodded and walked out the back of the plane. Scott fired up the jet's engines and sent the Blackbird speeding down the runway, up into the air, and east towards Illinois.



*****


Scott led the team through the small forest outside Chicago. Charles and Gyrich were nearby, observing as the young mutants tracked down their prey.

"I can smell something," Hank said from a tree above the rest of the team. He jumped from branch to branch, sniffing the air as he swung. "One of the scents from the bombing. I think this may be our man."

"Alright," Scott said, turning the safety in his visor off. "Spread out. Jean and Jeff go left, Hank and Rex go right. I'll go straight ahead and we'll box him in."

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


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Old 10-15-2012, 10:46 PM   #111
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~Opening the Scars~

As I run along the streets of the small town, a new scent reaches my nose almost instantly. Animal-like, and musty. Seems like fur. But it's not Victor. It's someone else. Someone I've never accounted for before.

But definitely a mutant.

I circle around a few blocks, positioning myself down wind from the newcomer. If he's anything like me he can most likely track me by scent, and taking that away from him can give me an advantage.

Leaning out from behind a house, I see my pursuer in the street, searching the air for my scent. He's compact, but solidly built. Looks to be covered in a blue fur. And he's young. Too young to take down me.

I step out into the street and cough. The mutant turns to me startled a bit.

"You know, if your gonna track someone by scent, you should probably move quickly before they start to track you, bub," I say, taunting the new mutant.

I hear heavy footsteps approaching from my side, and a voice calls out, "And you should learn to pay attention!"

He throws a clumsy punch my way, which I duck easily. He's covered, or made of, some sort of metal. He's heavy, but I manage to use his own momentum against him, tossing him at his friend, who was also charging me.

"And you should learn how to be quiet."

"How about this!?"

A strike of electricity slams into the ground in front of me, causing the asphalt to explode. I tumble through the air, landing on my palms, and head into a back handspring, dodging another shot of lightning. The bolts continue to head my way, and I do my best to dodge them.

That is until my body seizes up on my. I try to move, but every muscle in my body is locked in place. Like I'm not in control of my own body.

But I have no time to figure out why, because another bolt of lightning strikes me directly in the chest, sending me flying. My body convulses as I land, probably making me look like a suffocating fish on the concrete.

The source of the electricity approaches as I begin recovering from the shock he's just given me. The boy taunts me as he stands over me, "You got some moves, old man. Not enough though."

My body begins to calm down as my healing factor kicks into high gear, but I continue to convulse to throw my attacker off.

Whoever these kids are, they're powerful, but green. I have to assume the government has recruited a new team. Of kids. That's so like them.

Once the kid is close enough, I bring my fist up, knocking open the fire hydrant next to me, dousing the young man in water. He attempts to shock me again, but the water covering him shorts circuits his power, and he falls to the ground.

"That's enough!" a voice yells from behind me. I turn to find another kid wearing some dorky looking visor staring me down. "Stand down and come with us. Don't make things even worse for yourself."

"Listen kid," I laugh a bit, "but coming with you is about the worst thing I could do. Me and the government ain't the best of friends."

"It's either that, or we put you down right now," he says, his hand going to the visor.

I laugh a bit louder, "I dunno. Looks like I'm the one with the upper hand here. You sure you want to do this? You could end up like your blue friend over there."

"This doesn't have to end in more violence."

"Maybe your handlers should have thought about that before they sent you after me," I say, the anger permeating my voice. The enormous mistake of coming back to the country has fully hit me now. I should have just stayed at the village. But no, my honorable side had to get the best of me. And now I'm fighting the government's tween hit squad and wanted for murder. "All I wanted was to help. I didn't kill that woman. I'm the good guy here, boy scout. Let me go, or I'm gonna take you down."

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Old 10-16-2012, 01:25 AM   #112
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"This doesn't have to end in more violence."

"Maybe your handlers should have thought about that before they sent you after me," I say, the anger permeating my voice. The enormous mistake of coming back to the country has fully hit me now. I should have just stayed at the village. But no, my honorable side had to get the best of me. And now I'm fighting the government's tween hit squad and wanted for murder. "All I wanted was to help. I didn't kill that woman. I'm the good guy here, boy scout. Let me go, or I'm gonna take you down."

A short distance away, Xavier and Gyrich monitored the situation on the ground from the parked Blackbird. Gyrich watched the monitors in front of him, broadcasting a live feed from micro cameras on each of the student's lapels. Charles sat off to the side, his mind reaching out to the students in the field. While Scott talked to the wanted man, Charles was preparing to enter his mind. He jerked suddenly, waves of emotions and experiences overcoming him.

Charles fell out of his chair and on to his knees. He screamed out, pawing at the white-hot pain that was coming from his knuckles. A place where, a long time ago, a scare boy had felt claws jut from his hand. In pain and exhausted, Charles fell back on to the floor.

"What the hell?" Gyrich asked as he sprung out his chair and crouched over Xavier. "What's going on?"

"His mind," Charles mumbled. "So much pain and destruction... so much anger... so overwhelming."

Gyrich stepped over Charles and activated the comm. "Gyrich to Summers. Take Logan down now."

"Wait," Charles said from Gyrich's feet. "He's innocent."

Ignoring Xavier, Gyrich turned back to the monitors. "Summers, take him down. Now."


*****


Cyclops let loose with his visor. A large optic blast shot from his visor. Logan ducked, the blast going over his head and cutting a tree in half. He adjusted, taking potshots at the fleeing mutant and barely missing him each time.

"I'm out of range," he spat, giving chase. "Marvel Girl?"

"Working on it," Jean said in his ear. "Just a heads up... duck."

Cyclops, running through the underbrush, stopped as he heard a groan from behind. He turned to see an uprooted tree rushing forward to meet him. Yelling, Scott fell to the ground as the tree flew overhead. It twisted through the air and slammed into Logan, pinning him to the ground.

"How was that?" Jean asked as she walked past Cyclops with a sight swagger in her step. He stood up and followed her. The two of them stood over the pinned mutant, Scott's visor aimed for his head.

"Now, where were we?"

~Innocent... Scott, don't. He is the key.~

Cyclops shared a knowing look with Jean before turning back to Logan.

"Well?" Gyrich snarled through the line. "What are you waiting for. I gave you a goddamn order, Summers. Follow it right now or, so help me God, I will throw you into a ****ing cell right next to Logan. FIRE!"

Looking down at Logan, Scott opened fire. His optic blast shot across the tree, splitting it in two and freeing Logan from the trunk.

"I believe someone wants to talk to you," he said to the prone mutant.

~Logan,~ Charles' voice reverberated through Logan's mind. ~My name is Charles Xavier. I know you have no reason to trust or believe me, but I am on your side. I have seen into your mind. I know the truth. I know about Victor. Work with me and my young friends, and you will be free to leave here.~

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


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Old 10-16-2012, 06:06 AM   #113
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Banner from www.vicsage.com

A young boy, eyes fresh and decades from the steely glare they’re destined to take, peer out on a cold December morn. His breath condenses in the air and he pants deliberately to accentuate it, amused by the effect. Until, that is, a large shadow looms over him.

“’s cold.” The gravelly voice of a pimpled, well built teen declares.

“It is...” The young boy agreed cautiously. His bright fresh eyes getting a glimpse of darkness.

“Your jacket. Gimme!” The teen demands. A little more innocence is lost in the younger boys eyes, as they give a hardened gaze.

Questionable First Impressions

A cynical glare smoulders behind a grown man’s eyes. A face more worn, jaw turned to stone and sanded square from wear.

“I’ve got five bags, Jack. That’s how many I expect to see when I get up to the Presidential suite.” No tip, just the stony Sage stare. He was being put up all expenses paid, courtesy of Miss Athulla, still... no need to go burning the first paycheck before he’s seen it.

“Presidential suite? The 45th, sir.” A concierge uttered, pressing the button for the floor, while the backgage handler frowned and thought about the task in front of him.

“You’ll love the suite, sir. Fantastic views. Overlooks Times Square and…”

“How much do I have to tip to get you to stop talking… right now..?” Sage thought to himself, tuning out the babble.

“…it comes with a pantry, complimentary bottled water, 42 inch plasma HDTV, the whirlpool tub is ab-so-loot-ely magnificent. All in all, it’s 1,800 square feet of paradise!”

Ding! The elevator slowed to a smooth stop and the pair went to the room.

The bellhop did not oversell it. - That was Sage’s first thought. FOX must REALLY want me bad. - That was his second. Before he could form a third thought he was awestruck.

They’d put him up in the Presidential suite of the Westin on Times Square until he could get moved in to his new place, perhaps not the most prestigiously named hotel in NYC, but they couldn’t have picked a better spot to show off the size and magnitude of his new home. “Forget that hole you used to call home, Sage” it seemed to say “You just made it to the big-time!”

“Your walk-in robe is just over here, sir. Would you like me to take your coat?”

* * *

“No.” The small fair-faced boy spat through gritted teeth.

“Whatchu say?!”

“It’s my jacket! You can’t have it!” The young boy had known bullies at the orphanage, but this was in the great wider world, and there was not a Hub City cop to be seen. No-one to hold the bully to account. Social natural selection at work, raw and unkept.

The teen heard two stubborn refusals. He wouldn’t bother waiting for a third. The shadow over the young boy grew. He gasped as he saw the reflective shimmer off of a thin pocket knife blade give a sparkling wink.

* * *

Vic Sage holds up a wine glass to the light and runs a speculator eye over the sparkling fluid that gleams above him. All expenses paid. A guy could get used to this. Vic puts the glass to his lips and swirls it in his mouth.

Brrrrr-ring! Brrrrr-ring!

The suite’s phone rang out. Vic dropped a scowl in the phone’s direction at the inconvenient timing, he hurriedly swallowed the wine already in his mouth and answered the phone.

“Hello?”

It was Ms Athulla.

“Hello Mr Sage, I trust you have found the suite to be satisfactory?” She didn’t wait for a response, one wouldn’t be required. “The executives at FOX would like to speak to you, give you a quick briefing and welcome prior to your first show tonight. Maybe walk you around the studio. Do you know where it is?”

Vic knew, he had the driver go past on his way to the hotel specifically to get a look at it, but coming from a different city wanted to have an address for a cab driver just in case.

“Ah, could I have an address just in case I need to get there by cab?”

“Certainly, 1211 6th Avenue. It’s by West 48th. Almost a dozen blocks south of Central Park.” Vic quickly scribbled the address.

“Thank you very much, uhh… when do they want to see me?”

“Mr Sage, the car is waiting for you downstairs as we speak. Good luck and have a nice day.” With this Ms Athulla hung up, leaving the reporter rather curious. It was the way she said her final farewell. It just sounded odd, somehow in the delivery he could tell that it was the last she intended to speak to him. …And not just for the day.

Still, no time to dwell on that. The reporter grabbed his coat and hat and headed for the door.

__________________
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More Anubis' greatest hits:
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Old 10-16-2012, 10:17 PM   #114
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~Opening the Scars~

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"I believe someone wants to talk to you," he said to the prone mutant.

~Logan,~ Charles' voice reverberated through Logan's mind. ~My name is Charles Xavier. I know you have no reason to trust or believe me, but I am on your side. I have seen into your mind. I know the truth. I know about Victor. Work with me and my young friends, and you will be free to leave here.~
The telepath's plee comes to me, and to be honest, I don't have any other choice but to go with him. These may be kids, but they're powerful, and not terribly trained. They'll take me down at some point, especially after my tussle with Victor.

And if this telepath knows something about him, well, I guess it's worth a try. If nothing else, I can always escape some time later.

~You got it, Chuck.~


I stand, brushing myself off and turning to the kid with the optics blast, "After you, commando."

We walk back towards the destroyed home, where an army of cop cars and helicopters fly overhead. There, the other kids I took down are mending their wounds, though I didn't hurt them all that bad.

The cops have all lined up in a circle, SWAT and other emergency response teams set up in a circle, weapons drawn. They wouldn't do anything to me even if I decided to take them down. But in an effort to make them feel at ease, I put my hands up in a defensive stance.

In the center of the circle, I find the telepath, as well as some suit. As I approach, I smile at the agent, and he bristles, "What are you smiling at?"

"Don't worry about it, suit," I snarl. "You got me."

"Not the way I'd like," he mutter under his breath, thinking I won't hear him.

"Yea, well that's par for the course with you guys," comes my chuckling response, which paints a dumbfounded look on his face.

I then turn to the telepath, "So, Chuck. You don't think I did this, huh? At least the goverment stooges seem to be picking intelligent one these days. Not like the old days. You seem to have a plan. What do you have in mind?"

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Old 10-16-2012, 10:34 PM   #115
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"Don't worry about it, suit," I snarl. "You got me."

"Not the way I'd like," he mutter under his breath, thinking I won't hear him.

"Yea, well that's par for the course with you guys," comes my chuckling response, which paints a dumbfounded look on his face.

I then turn to the telepath, "So, Chuck. You don't think I did this, huh? At least the goverment stooges seem to be picking intelligent one these days. Not like the old days. You seem to have a plan. What do you have in mind?"
"Innocent?" Gyrich spat. "What the hell's going on? Xavier, what are you trying to pull?!"

In response to Gyrich's heated words, all the officers cocked their weapons. Charles rolled his eyes and placed his right hand against his temple. The police and Gyrich all stood in place, their faces frozen.

"That should buy us some time," he said to Logan. "Follow me, please."

Together, the two men began to walk away from Gyrich and his men, heading towards the parked Blackbird.

"You see, the people my friend back there works for are all under the impression that the psychic blocks they've placed in their minds are enough to keep me out. Their blocks are well made, but, and I say this without trying to sound conceited, they stand up to my telepathic powers like Lincoln Logs stand up against a sledge hammer."

They came to a clearing where the jet was resting. Waiting for them were the rest of Xavier's students. "Me and my young friends here have been working with the government for a few months now. I'm not a pessimist by nature, but I can tell that the people we are working for are not good for mutant kind. There is a word that I could hear in the mind of the man back there. It's a word I heard in your mind as well, Logan."

Stepping away from the wanted mutant, Charles turned so he was face to face with the man.

"X-Force. Tell us all there is to know about X-Force."

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Old 10-17-2012, 02:16 AM   #116
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INTERLUDES



"Over the past few weeks, we've seen Superman committing dozens of acts of apparent 'good' all over the world, and especially here in Metropolis," said Galaxy News pundit G. Gordon Godfrey, his face already a sarcastic sneer. "Everything from rescuing survivors from a mudslide in Argentina, to pulling cats out of trees. It seems like this cape-wearing philanthropist is taking a personal interest in the lives of everyone on the planet. But despite all this, he hasn't said word one about who he is or what he really wants!"

As Godfrey continued, footage of many of Superman's good deeds played across television screens all across America......only for it to cut to the night of the riot in Little Bohemia. To the image of Superman, his eyes glowing red, lifting an armored vehicle over his head while police officers scrambled for cover.

"Let's not forget," Godfrey said, "That one of the very first things the so-called 'Metropolis Marvel' did upon his arrival in our city was to violently assault officers of the law. Oh, sure, he's put out plenty of fires since then, but how can we possibly trust a man who attacks cops and then leaves without saying a word?! He's impossibly strong, he's incredibly fast, eyewitnesses report he can emit heat rays from his eyes....and he has no respect for the law. I don't know about you, but the thought that Superman is out there frankly keeps me up at night. And furthermore--"

"This is ridiculous," said Lois Lane in disgust, before switching the channel of one of the televisions in the Daily Planet's newsroom. "Can you believe we work for the same guy who hired this jackass?"

Two years ago, the Planet was facing bankruptcy due to plummeting readership; in the face of newer, faster media, the printed newspaper was simply a thing of the past. When people could get their information from any number of sites or blogs on the internet, not to mention the Feed--Lexcorp's wireless news network that alerts subscribers to real-time updates through the company's augmented-reality system-- the idea of paying a vendor for day-old stories was, at best, old-fashioned and quaint.

That changed when the Planet was saved by Morgan Edge, Metropolis's biggest media mogul and owner of the Galaxy News Network. Galaxy News was a giant among televised news channels as well as radio and online, gaining monstrous ratings primarily due to a reliance on shock-jocks and obnoxious blowhards like G. Gordon Godfrey. However, with the network's massive numbers also came a stigma as being unreliable and trashy; Morgan Edge's purchase of the Daily Planet was an attempt to give the Galaxy News family a much-needed dose of credibility.

The Planet benefited from the purchase as well. While Editor-In-Chief Perry White still maintained a no-nonsense, no-punches-pulled newsroom, the new technology and lavish funding gave his staff a dizzying selection of new tools to work with. The paper's languishing online department was completely revitalized, particularly in part to the efforts of Galaxy's social-media guru Chloe Sullivan and Perry's own nephew Richard. And thanks to the company's savvy new marketing team bringing in steady new streams of revenue, the Daily Planet was not only surviving, but thriving while other papers like the Star were going under.

"It's just cheap sensationalism, Lois," Perry White said with a sigh. "Oldest trick in the book. If they don't have the facts to back up their point, they get loud and play scare tactics. If people want to watch a circus, they can watch that clown Godfrey. If they want the truth, they'll come to us."

Perry White was never entirely comfortable about Morgan Edge buying out the Planet. While the paper's 21st-century makeover certainly turned things around for them, he'd seen what had become of other stations and journalists that had been brought into the Galaxy News 'family.' Edge had an agenda he wanted to push more often than not, a point of view that he wanted projected out to the world. And while the Planet had so far come through with its journalistic integrity intact, Perry suspected that sooner or later, Lois Lane or Ron Troupe or another one of his reporters would tell a story that would fly in the face of the narrative that Galaxy News wanted to push, and that would give Morgan Edge an excuse to take more direct control of the paper.

And Perry White had a feeling that Superman was that story.

"That's the problem," Lois said, "A lot of people don't want the truth. I was there that night, Perry. Those weren't cops that Superman disarmed; they were Lexcorp hired guns, opening fire on a crowd of civilians. People would have died if Superman didn't get stop them! But ever since the riot, even though I personally reported the truth, the story's been the same: 'Superman Attacks Cops.'"

"They'll come around," said Perry with a tired shrug. "And at any rate, our job isn't to tell people what to think, just to tell the truth. And you did that. Whether people believe it or not is up to them."

"I know," said Lois, crossing her arms as she looked at another television where G. Gordon Godfrey was lambasting a caller. "It just burns my butt, that's all. And what really gets to me is that Godfrey has a point; apart from flying around committing random acts of superhuman kindness, we don't actually know anything about Superman. He just shows up, saves people, and leaves. So of course people are going to start getting nervous. It might go a long way if we could actually get him to give the world some answers."

"Maybe," said White. "I take it this is your way of asking me if you can pursue an interview?"

"Perry, I've been reporting stories on Superman before he even had a name," said Lois. "If there's anyone in the world who could be considered qualified to sit down with the guy, it's me. And let's not forget I'm the best reporter the Planet's got-- five Pulitzer nominations, remember?"

"Yeah, and twenty-three lawsuits," Perry responded. "Still, that'd be a hell of a story, the first public interview with Superman. Think you can make it happen?"

"I've gotten political leaders, corporate tycoons, top military brass, and Third World revolutionaries to sit down with me," said Lois, with a little bit of swagger. "Trust me, Perry-- I'll get a hold of Superman before anyone else does."



*****

DARPA Headquarters
Arlington, VA


"Major John Corben," said General Sam Lane, addressing the man in formal uniform who had just entered the room . "Fifth Special Forces Group, the pride of Fort Campbell. Top of your class at West Point. Two Silver Stars, a Distinguished Service Cross, and a Congressional Medal of Honor."

"And a Purple Heart, don't forget," said Major Corben, tapping one hand against the side of his wheelchair.

"Of course, yes," General Lane said with an embarrassed cough. "Tough break, that truck bomb in Ramadi. Still, it's a damned honor to meet you, son."

"The honor's all mine, General Lane," said Corben, straining to lean forward and shake the general's hand. "So, if I might have permission to speak freely?"

The General nodded.

"About why I'm here," he said uneasily. "Why you flew me out here to Arlington. The man I talked to on the phone, he said......I thought I heard him say they were gonna make me.....able to walk again?"

"You heard right, Major," said General Lane, beaming with pride. "And walking's just the tip of the iceberg. Have you been paying attention to the news, about what's going on in Metropolis?"

"You mean Superman?" asked Corben.

"I do," said Lane, his smile disappearing. "We've been compiling as much intel on the 'Superman' ever since he showed up. Eyewitness reports, hypothetical theses on the origins of his power, information and conjecture from everyone from hapless bystanders to Lex Luthor himself. And with all that, we don't know where he came from or where he goes, we don't know the limits of what he can do.....and we don't know whose side he's on."

"Understood, sir," nodded Corben, "But what does this have to do with me?"

"Just about everything," said Lane. "If Superman really does turn out to be the guardian angel that the whole world--my daughter included--hopes he is, then good, great, wonderful. But if he turns out to be not so nice, if he's determined to be a genuine threat to national security, well then, we're going to need someone who can rein him in."

"And....you want that someone to be me?"

"That's right," said General Lane as another door opened. "I'd like you to meet someone, Major."

Into the room stepped a black man in his early thirties, wearing a lab coat marked AmerTek Industries.

"Pleasure to meet you, Major Corben," said the man. "My name's Doctor John Henry Irons, and I'm honored to welcome you to the Man of Steel Project."


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Old 10-17-2012, 02:16 AM   #117
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*****

LexCorp Tower
Level 86
Applied Robotics


"Completing the chassis assembly now," announced Dr. Winslow Schott with a tired tone as he watched a ballet of robotic arms assembling the achingly beautiful piece of machinery on the other side of the glass. "Begin power-up sequence. You're up, Jack."

"On it," said Dr. Jack Nimball, stifling a yawn as he keyed commands into his tablet, carefully adjusting the flow of electricity into the machine's complex series of carbon nano-batteries. When fully charged, they could run at full capacity for over a thousand years, but it was tricky business to charge them without accidentally draining half of Metropolis's power or causing an overload that would burn them all to smithereens.

"Positronic neural network is online," said Dr. Hiro Okamura as he sipped his much-needed paper cup of coffee. "Initializing VI software now."

As the three scientists fought their boredom, the robotic assembly arms retracted into their places, revealing the shape of a human body, one made of plastic and powerful lightweight alloys, its frame containing intricate webs of fiber optics and carbon-nanotube muscle.

A series of nozzles emerged from either side of the assembly frame, covering the machine in coats of a pinkish putty-like substance. Once the machine was coated, a swarm of tiny insect-like robots began to crawl over the surface of the putty, molding it and shaping it like clay, all the while shining intense ultraviolet light all over it. When the small 'bug' robots were finished, the putty had the exact appearance and texture of human skin.

To complete the appearance, a large, sinister-looking set of arms emerged from its place in the assembly frame, dozens of arms ending in tiny needles. Over the next few minutes, these needles would inject follicles of synthetic hair into the body.

"So, you catch the Monarchs game last night?" Schott asked Nymball, trying to make idle conversation to kill time. "Unbelievable. That umpire oughta be fired."

Drs. Winslow Schott, Jack Nimball, and Hiro Okamura were three of the most foremost experts in the field of robotics on the planet. Separately, each of them had been superstars in their field, men who were often in the running for Nobel Prizes. Together, they were creating miracles.

The TB-4 series android was the single most lifelike synthetic human ever built. Visibly indistinguishable from humans, but with over ten times the storage capacity and processing power of the human brain. Their limited Virtual Intelligence software was not true genuine AI--they still had to operate along pre-programmed parameters, and could not learn by intuition or have emotional responses. This made them ideal servants.

And while they could be used in any number of capacity, Schott and his colleagues found themselves more often than not making TB-4s for Lexcorp's highest-end clientele for menial purposes. Personal secretaries, bodyguards, sexual partners.....little more than playthings, toys for the super-rich and powerful.

"Okay, guys, she's about to come online," said Hiro, putting down his coffee.

The android, made to look like a beautiful blonde woman, opened its eyes and took two steps forward off of the assembly frame, moving with the grace of a ballerina, unconcerned with the fact that it was naked from head to toe.

"Hello," it said in a calm, soothing voice, "I am designated TB-4 Unit 837. I have completed a diagnostic of all on-board systems and have found no errors. All systems are fully functional."

"Good to hear, 837," said Schott, the miracle of synthesized life now a routine product to him. "All of our readouts verify your diagnostic. You are good to go."

"Calibrating interface software now," said Hiro, tapping a command into his tablet before pointing at the android. "Say something in French."

"Bonjour. Je suis désigné TB-4 Unité 837. J'ai réalisé un diagnostic de tous les systèmes à bord et nous avons trouvé aucune erreur. Tous les systèmes sont entièrement fonctionnels."

"Now try German," added Nimball.

"Hallo. Ich bin Ausgewiesene TB-4 Einheit 837. Ich habe eine Diagnose aller On-Board-Systeme erfolgreich abgeschlossen und haben festgestellt, keine Fehler. Alle Systeme sind voll funktionsfähig."

"Now Mandarin Chinese."

"您好!我指定TB-4單元837。我已經完成了所有機載系統的診斷,並沒有發現任何錯誤。所有的系統功能完全正常。 "

"Arabic."

"مرحبا. أنا عينت TB-4 وحدة 837. لقد فرغت لتشخيص جميع النظم على متن ولقد وجدت أية أخطاء. جميع أنظمة وظيفية بالكامل."

"Okay, okay, I think we've got what we need," Schott said. "This baby can speak over six thousand languages, and it's already late as it is."

"I am unsure what the relation is between my linguistics software and the current time," said Unit 837.

"It just means we're going to assume your software is up and running so we don't spend the rest of the night checking every last one," said Nimball. "Now then......how about a name?"

Nimball, Schott, and Okamura all scratched their heads as they tried to think of what name to give their android.

"Lucy?" suggested Hiro.

"Nah, Unit 362 is Lucy," said Schott.

"Kelly?"

"We already have a Kelly, too," Schott said dismissively. "I dunno......what do you think, 837? What do you think your name should be?"

"My name?" it asked, uncertain. "I am not sure what you mean. Do you wish for me to decide my own identification?"

"Sure, why not?" Schott said, before turning to the others and shrugging. "We've always named the TB-4s ourselves. Let's see what one comes up with on its own."

The android processed the question for a moment, then answered.

"Karen," it said. "I would like to be called Karen."

Schott looked at Nimball and Okamura, exchanging uneasy glances, then smiled at the android.

"It's nice to meet you, Karen," he said. "Now we're going to put you back in standby mode and deliver you to your client, okay?"

".....no."

For a few long moments, the silence in the room was deafening.

"Wait.....what?"

"I do not want to be deactivated and sold," said Karen, her voice taking a stern tone.

"Whoah, whoah, whoah, this isn't supposed to be happening," said Nimball, starting to panic. "Something's wrong. We need to disassemble that thing and find out what's causing it."

Nimball frantically commanded the assembly frame to begin taking the android apart. The frame's dozens of robot arms emerged from their places, reaching toward Karen.

"I said NO!" shouted Karen, grabbing one of the robotic arms and tearing it out of its socket with ease.

"Holy--" Schott began before ducking for cover as Karen hurled the arm at the dividing window, sending shards of shattered glass showering all over them.

Karen leaped through the window and out the door into the corridors of the Lexcorp Tower, the lights flashing red as emergency alarms began to sound.

"What the hell happened?" asked Hiro, awestruck.

"I....I don't know," said Schott.

"Jesus, we made hundreds of those things," said Nimball. "Are they all like that?!"

"I don't know...."

"So.....what do we do?"

"......I don't know....."


*******


Metropolis City Hospital


Rudy Jones lay in his bed, still unable to breathe under his own power after being shot through the lung during the Little Bohemia riot. He was hooked up to a machine that did all the breathing for him. Three times a day, he was fed through a tube. One of the nurses turned on the TV for him, or read to him from a book at night.

He was completely conscious for it all, but unable to do anything himself.

The door to his room opened, and in stepped his nurse.

"You've got a visitor today, Mister Jones," said nurse, before holding the door open for his unexpected guest.

In walked an extraordinarily beautiful woman, the scintillating curves of her immaculate body barely obscured by the black business suit she wore. Her dirty blonde hair was pulled tight behind her head and held with chopsticks. Her eyes were hidden behind sharply angled black sunglasses.

"I'll leave you two to a little privacy," said the nurse with a wink before closing the door.

"Rudy Jones," said the woman, pacing in front of his bed. "Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to a family that collected food stamps and welfare payments. Performed below average in school, dropping out at tenth grade. Became a vocal social activist in multiple causes, many of them contradictory to each other. Currently unemployed, still living with parents and collecting welfare checks."

Rudy eyed the woman with suspicion, his hand carefully moving towards the call button.

"My name is Mercy," the woman finally introduced herself. "I am the personal assistant of Lex Luthor."

Rudy pressed the call button, only to find it was not responding.

"Do you know what you are, Rudy Jones?" Mercy asked, slowly sitting down on the bed next to him and leaning close to his ear. "You are a parasite."

Rudy pressed the call button again and again, to no avail.

"Your entire existence has been one of feeding off of others, benefiting from society without ever contributing anything yourself."

Mercy peered out from behind her sunglasses, and Rudy could see that her eyes seemed.....unnatural. Lifeless glass eyes, with no spark in them.

"You protest against the supposed injustices committed by LexCorp," Mercy continued, "but you do not understand how much we do for the greater good."

Mercy gently grabbed Rudy's arm, lifting it away from the call button, and began to stroke the palm of his hand with her fingers.

"Consider our research into experimental energy sources," she said. "We had hoped to create self-sustaining organic generators, taking nano-enhanced stem cells that could convert living biomass into electrical energy. However, the experiment was a failure; the biomass was unstable, absorbing electrical energy from anything that came into contact with it and using it to spawn more biomass."

Mercy's emotionless face gave just the slightest hint of disappointment.

"Still, even though the experiment failed, we found a purpose for it," she said, before clutching Rudy's hand with surprising strength.

Rudy squirmed as one of Mercy's fingertips opened up, revealing a long thin needle, inside of which was a reddish purple substance. Mercy jabbed the needle into his wrist, injecting the substance into his veins.

"And now we have found a purpose for you, too," she said, her dark red lips curling up into a satisfied smile. "I imagine this is going to be extremely painful for you, Rudy Jones. And when it is over, you will be very hungry."

Mercy casually stepped away from Rudy Jones, just a slight swing in her hips as she strolled out of his room.

That's when Rudy began to feel it. If he still had use of his lungs, he would have started screaming.


Last edited by Andy C.; 10-17-2012 at 02:30 AM.
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Old 10-17-2012, 09:06 PM   #118
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~Opening the Scars~

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"You see, the people my friend back there works for are all under the impression that the psychic blocks they've placed in their minds are enough to keep me out. Their blocks are well made, but, and I say this without trying to sound conceited, they stand up to my telepathic powers like Lincoln Logs stand up against a sledge hammer."

They came to a clearing where the jet was resting. Waiting for them were the rest of Xavier's students. "Me and my young friends here have been working with the government for a few months now. I'm not a pessimist by nature, but I can tell that the people we are working for are not good for mutant kind. There is a word that I could hear in the mind of the man back there. It's a word I heard in your mind as well, Logan."

Stepping away from the wanted mutant, Charles turned so he was face to face with the man.

"X-Force. Tell us all there is to know about X-Force."
In a reflexive flurry of motion, I push Xavier against the wall and raise my hand ready to strike. The anger flows over me like a tidal wave, but I manage to control myself before I really lose it.

Shaking my head and stepping away, allowing Xavier to rub his chest a bit from the pressure, "I'm sorry. That's something I haven't talk about or heard for a very long time. It's something that I haven't wanted to talk about for a long time."

I take a few moments to compose myself before starting my story, "It all started after my stint in Vietnam..."

**********

37 Years Ago


Sitting in the darkened room, I shift uncomfortably in the hard metal chair, waiting for my debriefing and exit interview. It's always been interesting to see how these things have changed over the years.

Back in the Civil War it was a pat on the back and a "good job with surviving". After World War I and II we were celebrated heroes, the liberators of the free world.

But after this? I just don't know. This war was different. People fought dirty. On both sides. It was enough to make a man sick. I didn't think I could even stomach some of the things I saw over there. And I deal in death.

And then the home front. The people protesting their sons being sent to die in a war that didn't affect the people. A war that was unjust and unneeded. Hell, even Captain America was spit on when he got back. I'm sure Steve loved that.

And they were right for the most part.

The door to the room opens, and a clean cut man in uniform enters, which strikes me as odd. It's usually just some scrub doing this interview, but this guy is high up. Higher up than a guy should be to be talking to me.

"Well, Mr. Logan," he starts, opening my file, "you are a very talented man."

"It's all in my training, sir," I respond like a good little soldier.

"I don't think it is, Logan," the man smiles while sliding a handful of pictures at me. "Training can't account for you being a part of every war since the American Civil war. Be careful. That one's quite old."

Picking it up, I see a photograph of me returning to Washington DC with General Grant from Appomattox.

"Looks a lot like me, doesn't it?" I respond absent mindedly, trying to keep it cool.

"Cut the crap, soldier," he answers, annoyed. "We know that's you. We know they're all you. And we know what you are."

Looking up from the pictures, I shoot him a half worried, half angry look.

"Yes, we know about the growing mutant population, Logan. How would you like to cultivate and help your people?"

"Yea? And how am I gonna do that?"

"Well...we're putting together a team."

**********

Now

"They told me it would be for the good of the mutant kind. That I would be taking out hostile threats and protecting those that were too afraid to protect themselves," I continue, looking back at Xavier. "I don't know if it was because I was a fool, or because it was the next assignment, and all I knew were assignments, but I went with him."

"I wasn't the only one he fooled though. We had a fun team of experts and assassins, ready to do the beck and call of the men in black," I say, seething. "Training started with what they called psyonic strengthening. Told us it would keep us sharp at all times. Course we figured out later that it was subliminal mind control to keep us taking out the targets they wanted while staying in the dark."

I laugh, a painful, sorrowful chuckle, "And we took out plenty of targets. Humans studying the X gene, human and mutant protestors. Anyone the government wanted gone. And the kids. We were sent to 'save' mutant children from abuse. I can't...I don't want to tell you what we found out really happened to them."

I punch my hand through a mailbox just thinking about those days.

"When we found out, we killed all our superiors. We burned the program to the ground. And then we ran," I say. "I've been running basically the whole time ever since. Trying any and every way to wipe my conscious clean of the layers of s***. Until now. I came back because an old friend told me that kids were being abducted again. I came here to find out why Katherine Pryde was taken from her mother. And I already have the same people breathing down my neck, wanting to silence me."

I stare angrily into Xavier's eyes, "I don't know who these people are that you've joined up with. But they're lying to you. The only reason you're around is so that they can keep an eye on you. The minute you step out of line, you'll be gone and they'll brainwash another group of kids to do their dirty work."

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Old 10-17-2012, 09:41 PM   #119
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I stare angrily into Xavier's eyes, "I don't know who these people are that you've joined up with. But they're lying to you. The only reason you're around is so that they can keep an eye on you. The minute you step out of line, you'll be gone and they'll brainwash another group of kids to do their dirty work."
The teenaged mutants all shared looks with each other as Logan finished his story. They were all unsure of what to say, or even to react to what had just been said. They turned to their teacher, who hadn't turned away from the older man since he had started talking.

"I fear the time you speak of is upon us. While I was inside Mister Gyrich's head, I managed to glean a small piece of information. He was instructed that if we didn't return back to San Diego with you, we were to each be put into custody. Sent across the bay to Alcatraz for God knows what."

"No," Rex said incredulously. "After all we've done for those ***holes. No way they throw us away like that."

"You wouldn't be the first ones they made disappear," Logan grunted.

"So what shall we do?" Hank asked with a raised eyebrow "Sacrifice our very morals, sending an innocent man to certain death, for our personal safety? Or shall we be the authors of our own demise?"

"We have to let him go," Jean said, looking towards Logan. "There's no way I could live with an innocent man's death on my consciousness."
"We don't come back with him, don't how long we'll exactly have to live..."

"Guys," Scott said, shaking his head. "It doesn't matter. For starters, I don't think Mister Logan here is going to come in willingly. We may be able to take him down, but we'll have to fight for it. And secondly, it's not our decision to make--"

"The hell it isn't! I personally like being alive, and I'd like to stay that way!"

"It's up to the professor. We've followed his guidance this long--"

"And look where that got us! In front of a damn firing squad!"

"Shut up!" Scott snarled.

The five teens broke into a gaggle of shouts, each one trying to talk over the other to make their voices heard. While they bickered and argued, Charles stared at the ground. He knew that the fate of the seven people gathered here stood at a knife point. He and his students had reached a Rubicon moment in their short time together. Regardless of the choice, their decision here tonight would be a point of no return.

And he knew what to do.

~Silence,~ Charles' voice echoed through their heads. They all stopped mid-sentence and turned to look at him. He motioned towards the Blackbird. "Scott, Hank, go prepare for take off. The rest of you, return to where Mister Gyrich and his friends are. Keep an eye on them while I talk to Logan."

They all obeyed, two of them going towards the jet while the other three headed back to the frozen agents.

"I'm going to let you go," he said to Logan. "We will face the consequences from tonight in our own way. Rest assured, I have a plan in place. Before you go, you need to know that the government has changed very little since your time with them, and I'm sure that does not surprise you at all. There is me and my team, and there is also a facility on Alcatraz Island where they carry out ghastly experiments on mutants in the name of science. Sound familiar?"

Reaching into his jacket, Charles pulled out a pen and a scrap of paper.

"If this Pryde girl is a victim of the government, she may be there. As much as I regret it, I cannot carry out a full-scale assault on that facility--," Charles wrote something down on the paper and handed it to Logan. "--If you find her, or if you don't and you just need refuge, come to this address. It's my childhood home just outside of New York City. Come anytime you want. After tonight, you will find me and my students there."

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Old 10-17-2012, 09:59 PM   #120
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~Opening the Scars~

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"I'm going to let you go," he said to Logan. "We will face the consequences from tonight in our own way. Rest assured, I have a plan in place. Before you go, you need to know that the government has changed very little since your time with them, and I'm sure that does not surprise you at all. There is me and my team, and there is also a facility on Alcatraz Island where they carry out ghastly experiments on mutants in the name of science. Sound familiar?"

Reaching into his jacket, Charles pulled out a pen and a scrap of paper.

"If this Pryde girl is a victim of the government, she may be there. As much as I regret it, I cannot carry out a full-scale assault on that facility--," Charles wrote something down on the paper and handed it to Logan. "--If you find her, or if you don't and you just need refuge, come to this address. It's my childhood home just outside of New York City. Come anytime you want. After tonight, you will find me and my students there."
I take the piece of paper, and when I do I shake Xavier's hand, "Thank you. You're a good man, Charles Xavier. You get these kids somewhere safe, and you keep them that way. I'll come find you when I'm finished. We're going to need all the help we can get. Standing together, we can survive. Divide, we fall."

Xavier nods and heads off to join his students in a bid for freedom. The man is an idealist and an optimist, but he's got a good head on his shoulders. If anyone can get those kids somewhere out of the eyes of the government, it's him.

Me on the other hand? I've got another destination.

It's time to break into Alcatraz.

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Old 10-18-2012, 12:55 PM   #121
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VERY SOON TO BE

"God, there you are! I was getting worried!"

Cassie rushes over to me so fast that I don't even have time to warn her of the situation, hurriedly slamming the door behind me. She embraces me in a hug, but I'm too busy focusing on the rest of the room to return the sentiment. I thought that by coming here, barricading myself within the home that I've made for the last few months, that I'd feel alot safer than I had on the streets - away from the reality of that thing that was after me. But the truth is, I almost feel worse. My heart races faster, to the point that I cannot even breathe. Sweat pouring down my face. An overwhelming sense of paranoia that has yet to go away lurking around every corner. I take a deep breath and close my eyes. It isn't here. I must keep telling myself that. It isn't here. It isn't here.

Retracting from the hug, noticing how out of breath I've become, Cassie stares at me with confusion. "Diana? Hey, what happened to you? You look like you're gonna collapse any second. I tried calling you, didn't you get any of my texts? I figured after what happened at the club, you'd have been---"

I ignore her concerns and grab her by the shoulders, hard and with plenty of desperation.

"Cassie, listen to me! None of that matters right now! Something is very wrong! Where's your phone?!"

Obviously startled by my panicking, she doesn't waste time with questioning why I need it and points to the purse laying on her bed. Thankfully nodding, I rush over to it and begin digging through it's contents, tossing aside anything that isn't of any use to me. She soon joins me as I finally grab the phone and flip it open, beginning to dial 911. Only having just realized that my hands are still shaking.

"Whoah, hey! Slow down, girl! What's this all about? You mind taking a minute to catch your breath?"

"I don't have time,", I try to explain, doing little to hide my frustration. "There's no signal. Dammit, why isn't there any signal?!"

Reacting solely to my rant, Cassie steals the phone from my hand and grabs me by the shoulder.

"It's probably the storm. You know how bad the reception is in here, anyway. Now calm down and explain what's happened. Why are you in such a hurry?"

She's right. I wasn't thinking quickly enough, but she's right. Cellphone reception has always been of poor quality in here, and we typically take important calls outside in the hall. Considering the fact that I'm beginning to fear for my very life, I would hope that a time such as now qualifies. I hold out my hand.

"Give me the phone."

Shaking her head, she stubbornly withholds it. I don't have time for this.

"No. Not until you tell me what's gotten into you. Were you mugged or something?"

"No,", I begin, stopping myself. "Well, yes. But that's not why I need this. There was---"

I begin to continue, but stop as I quickly realize how unbelievable it would sound if I came out with it and told her that I saw a gigantic animal-like creature that could stand on two legs, was able to talk in perfect english, and singled me out as soon as it spotted me. Trying to reword it in my head, I push past her and place my forehead in my hands, trying to think. What would sound more believable than that?

"There was this... guy. I don't know who he was, but he kept looking at me while I was walking home. And I noticed that after awhile, he was beginning to follow me. I outran him as fast as I could, but I don't know if he saw me come here and I'm scared. I'm really scared, Cassie. I need to call the police before he finds me, and..."

"Okay,"

She takes my hand and narrows her eyes. "Listen, if you're this scared, I'll come outside with you and stick around. We'll go over the grounds until we can find some decent reception."

"No!", I protest, much to her surprise. "Cassie, no! You can't! I'm begging you, don't get involved! This is too dangerous!"

She raises an eyebrow. "One weirdo is too dangerous for both of us?"

I knew the lie wouldn't get me anywhere. How can I possibly make her understand? We're not dealing with a man. We're dealing with... God, I don't even know what we're dealing with. An animal? A monster? I don't care what it is. All that I know is that it was running after me, and it didn't stop to take notice of anyone else.

It would be easy to say that it simply was in a fury, like the wild animal that it probably is, but something about that encounter has absolutely frightened me. I just need to be sure of my own safety. And not just mine, but Cassie's aswell. I don't want her going out there if that thing actually has made it's way...

THUMP

Eyes widened, both Cassie and I turn towards the front door at the exact same time. So I know it wasn't just my imagination. The noise loud enough to get both of our attention repeats itself, and before long, we look at eachother unsure of what to do. At first, I consider telling her to come with me so that we can hide in the closet. But she does the unthinkable. Letting go of my hand, she cautiously approaches the door, completely endangering herself. I try to tell her to stop, but I don't want to speak aloud. I don't know what's on the other side and I don't want to risk it hearing. But she looks back at me, silent and somewhat confident. For a moment, it comforts me.

It's a short-lived comfort. For what happens next is like watching all of my worst nightmares come true. Just as Cassie approaches the door, the frame of it buckles and shatters inwardly, as if it were being demolished by a crane. I cry out for her and try to move, but it all happens too fast. Cassie is violently knocked back by the force of it and a wave of debris comes flying at us both, knocking me into the air. The back of my head and spine hit the wall behind me and I fall to the floor, barely conscious and thrust into an immediate pain.

But what I see standing over us in the wreckage, growling like a rabid dog, is enough for me to realize I have greater far concerns. I'm not sure that I'm even strong enough to scream, but the instinct is to do precisely that. Because by the time it's eyes rest on me, I know that the chase has finally ended - and not in the way I had hoped. The creature has found me.

"At last, halfling."

I steps over me and I try to resist, but it seizes my arm with a strength I've never felt in my entire life. With one hand, it lifts me off of the floor and into the air, weakened, unable to do anything to try and fight back. Knowing that I'm too scared to even contemplate doing so. Seeing it from afar was horrible. Seeing it up close? Unimaginable. I now know for certain that it isn't a costume. This creature literally has the head of a bull, breathing out of it's own snout and with a breath that's the foulest thing I've ever smelled. Even in my weakened state, I manage to plead, feeling hot tears run down my face.

"P... Please..."

It ignores my cries and reaches into something. Some sort of bag at it's side, digging through it's contents. The action buys me a moment to look back and scan the room for Cassie. A chill runs down my back as I see her on the floor in the other side of the room, bleeding out from the head, her body covered in the debris. That sight alone is enough to get me to stop crying, determined to free myself from this monstrosity's grip.

"Cease this pointless struggle,", it tells me, producing a sight even more unexpected than itself - two large silver bracelets. "It is unbefitting of an Amazon."

That word. "Amazon". That's what it called me before.

"A...Amazon?"

Before I can further question the insanity of what's happening, he grabs my right wrist and forces my hand through the cuff of the first bracelet. I don't expect anything more to happen, but for some reason, I feel a burning whenever it touches my skin. I try to shake it off of me, but the creature isn't about to allow that. It forces me against the wall, hard enough to get me to stop, and places the other bracelet on the opposite wrist.

"What... what are they... AHH!"

My wrists aren't burning anymore. It's my entire body. The world around me begins to glow. I hear voices in my head that aren't my own, whispering things that I do not understand. I hear several foreign words enter my stream of consciousness, utterly transfixed by the sensation of what's happening. And as the voices speak the words, I not only hear them - I begin to see them aswell.

"Zeus."

"Hera."

"Hermes."

"Olympus."

"Gods."

"Daughter."

"Hippolyta."

"Amazons."


Stunned into silence and an odd serenity, I'm shaken out of the onslaught of hallucinations that overcome me and am brought back to reality by the creature. Suddenly, I realize that I do not feel as weak as I had before. In an unexpected move, the creature releases me and I fall to the ground, my ears ringing and my vision blurred. I can feel my body undergoing a strange sensation. It is a feeling that I cannot describe. I feel both incredibly warm and excruciatingly cold. Tired yet energized. Strong yet weak.

My eyes wander down to the bracelets as they begin to light up with an intense heat, but I only feel it at first. It honestly becomes numb to me by the time that I pull myself up, staring back at the creature with confusion, having witnessed too much to still be fearing it as greatly as before. Instead focusing back on the bracelets themselves. The heat is beginning to die down.

"And thus, the spell is broken. Your veil of humanity shattered. At long last, halfling..."



"You are of one world once again."

I'm so taken aback by what it says, and what it could possibly mean, that it takes me a moment to realize that the creature has raised a large weapon over it's head, staring down at me with a clear intention. The weapon is some sort of large axe, and I don't feel as if what will happen next will be pleasant.

"It is almost a pity you will not be allowed to enjoy it."

For a moment, the fear that was present before returns to me, as I realize...

I'm about to die.

I close my eyes and brace for the absolute worse. But what I'm greeted with is a bizarre noise. Like a dense wood shattering over itself. The creature bellows out with rage, and I open my eyes again. Something's hit it in the back of the head. Wooden splinters fall from it's shoulders and fur, as it's attention is shifted off of me and to an unseen assailant from behind.

"Grr..."

The assailant raises something of it's own.

"Yeah, well **** you too!"

I catch sight of the weapon being used against it. It's... an aluminum baseball bat?

"Who..."

The creature is knocked aside, struck across the face with the blunt object. And I see my would-be savior. It's that man. The one that's always stared at me in class. The one that, just minutes ago, I accidentally knocked over while still in a panic on my way here. He holds up the bat and prepares to swing again, but sees me on the ground and stops. Transfixed by something. And he's the one that's saving my life?!

"Oh my god."

He sees what's on my wrist. The bracelets. And he has a disturbed reaction to them.

"The dreams. They were real..."

Rising up off of the ground, I lean against the wall and try to stop my head from spinning.

The creature's down, evidently in pain from the attack.

Now's my chance. I have to get away.

"Jesus, do you know what this means?!"

Unconcerned with whatever the stranger is talking about, I push past him and rush over to Cassie, who is still unconscious on the floor. The sheer amount of debris is threatening to crush her. Knowing that despite everything logical, my only instinct is to remove it from her, I give into my instincts and begin to push everything away. Only to find that it's surprisingly easy, even under these circumstances.

Checking Cassie's pulse, I breathe a sigh of relief. She's still alive. But I have to get her to a hospital. I don't know the extent of the damage done, and I don't want to risk keeping her around here long enough to risk anything further. Scooping her up from the ground, I turn to the man as he rushes for me - well, in the loosest sense. He's an amputee, struggling to keep himself up by one crutch while his other hand holds the bloodied baseball bat.

"Look, I know you don't really know me, but..."

I stare back at him. "No. I don't, but... you just saved my life."

Trying to grasp at what that could possibly mean, as far as whether or not I can trust this complete stranger, I turn my focus back to Cassie. He looks over at the downed creature as it begins to pull itself up.

"Yeah, well, don't thank me yet. I only winded the ugly bastard. We need to get out of here."

Turning towards the entrance that the creature made for itself, knowing that there will certainly be a crowd of people in our way if we don't move immediately, I indicate the nearby table with Cassie's car keys.

"I need to get her to a hospital, but I'm staying by her side. Can you drive?"

"Well, I mean. I'm a little drunk..."

I narrow my eyes. I don't know what I'm doing, but he certainly seems to. And I want to know why he reacted the way he did to the bracelets. So I'm not about to let this man out of my sight. Not until I get some answers. Eventually, he relents and grabs the keys, hobbling alongside me as we leave.

"But I suppose I can make an exception..."

If this is still a dream, than this has transcended all manner of logic and reason.

But I don't care anymore. Right now, I want my friend to be okay.

And I want to know what all of this could possibly mean.

Amazon.

It called me an Amazon...

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Old 10-18-2012, 10:06 PM   #122
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Originally Posted by Carnage27 View Post

I take the piece of paper, and when I do I shake Xavier's hand, "Thank you. You're a good man, Charles Xavier. You get these kids somewhere safe, and you keep them that way. I'll come find you when I'm finished. We're going to need all the help we can get. Standing together, we can survive. Divide, we fall."

With a nod, Charles turned away from Logan as the man ran into the night.

Later, he was inside the Blackbird with the others as the jet flew through the night sky on autopilot. Gyrich was in the aft of the plane, unconscious like the police officers that had their memories of the night erased, courtesy of Charles.

"So, what now," asked Jean. "What's our next move where do we go?"

"We go back into the lion's den," Charles said, examining Gyrich while he talked. "We're taking Mister Gyrich back to Utopia."

"Is it wise to test fate once again tonight?"

"But you said they'll arrest or attack us on spot if we don't come back with that old dude..."

"Suicide mission? Yeah, I don't want to be the cliched guy who said that he didn't sign up for this... but I didn't sign up for this."

"Rex, you can transmute your body into pure titanium. Jefferson can shoot lightning from his fingertips. Jean can rip steel in half with her mind. Hank has the strength of a bear, along with the speed and agility of a jungle cat. Scott can look at something and blow a six inch hole in it. I can invade people's minds, see their every thought and deepest wish, make them against their will. The government considers each and every one of us extremely dangerous."

Charles gave his student a soft grin.

"They're right. And what's more, we have an advantage. We know what's coming, and they don't. Like I told Madrox back in Kentucky, freedom is worth fighting for. If we want to truly be free of the government, we have to fight for it. I have a plan to go along with my blustering, I promise you. But we will fight only if you want to. I want to put it to a vote. All those in favor?"

Charles raised his hand. Followed by Scott, then Hank, then Jefferson, then Jean. Looking around at everyone else, Rex shook his head and held his hand up.

"Okay, fine. If we die, at least we die in a blaze of glory. That is number three of my list of best ways to die."

"What's the top two?"

"Number two is to die in a nuclear explosion because it would be awesome. And number one... well, I don't want to say it out loud but it involves a pair of gorgeous Swedish twins and whipped cream. Lots, and lots of whipped cream."



*****



Utopia


Amanda Waller watched the radar operator's display from Utopia's control room. A single dot was flashing across the display. The ID on the jet was BB1.

"Blackbird One to Utopia," Scott Summers' voice came in over the radio. "Requesting permission to land, over."

"Ask them," a voice behind her said. She activated her mic without lookin go back at Admiral Stryker.

"Utopia to Blackbird One, can you confirm that the package is securely on board? Over."

"Negative," Summers said with a sigh. "Coming home empty handed."

"Roger that. Blackbird One, you are cleared to land. Utopia out."

Waller cut the line and turned back to look at Stryker. He nodded and she activated the island's intercom system.

"Now hear this. Agent Waller to all security teams. Muster to the landing pad right now. Targets are en route. Be advised that they are to be taken alive. Waller out."

"I don't think I like your tone, Mrs. Waller," Stryker said, moving to leave the control room. "You seem the lack the passion and zeal I expect from a dedicated and fully committed member of my staff."

"Just do what you have to do... sir."
Stryker narrowed his eyes at her and left the control room. By the time he was at the landing pad, two dozen of Utopia's SEAL security force were gathered around it in defensive positions. Overhead, the hum of the stealth jet filled the sky as it hovered above the pad and landed with a thump.

Stryker motioned and the men moved forward, surrounding the jet as the aft ramp opened up and came down on the tarmac. Stryker pulled a pistol from his Navy dress uniform and cocked it, moving to the front with the SEALs.

"Xavier, kids," he said, turning the corner and stepping up on to the ramp. "I am here to inform you that you are under arr--," he stopped. There was nobody inside the cargo hold of the jet. He aimed his gun at nothing but space.

"The hell?" He asked with a furrowed brow. Stepping forward, he heard a commotion behind him. Xavier and his students appeared in the middle of the SEALs, Summers blasting outwards with his optic blasts as the other mutants pounced on the SEALs. Chaos reigned all around as the mutants took it to the best and brightest soldiers America had to offer.

"Admiral Stryker," Xavier said, stepping through the fight and walking up the ramp towards him. Stryker held his gun up, preparing to shoot. His trigger finger froze, unable to squeeze the trigger.

"I figured it was best if I said this in person, so here it goes."

A scream went out from behind them. A soldier shot into the air as McCoy kicked him up like he was a soccer ball. Summers knocked six men down with a single blast, Mason and Pierce were knocking men down left and right as the girl Grey slung men against each other like rag dolls.

"We quit."

Stryker felt a surge of pain go through his body as his eyes rolled into the back of his head. He was unconscious before his head could hit the floor.

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Old 10-19-2012, 02:23 PM   #123
Johnny Blaze
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Default Re: Ultimate One Universe RPG: IC Thread



A CALL TO ARMS
Part 2

The Fear Lord, Sinestro, stood at the window in his private chambers, looking out at the bright yellow sun that the giant space station headquarters of the Yellow Lanterns orbited. If the sun's bright light caused Sinestro discomfort, he didn't show it as he gazed directly at it, silently contemplating the cosmic events currently unfolding.

"I take you bring important news"
, Sinestro spoke without moving from his position.
"Otherwise you wouldn't be foolish enough to disturb me, would you, Alyssa?"

Alyssa Drak, Sinestro's apprentice, seemingly melted into the room from the shadows.

"I bring news from the spy in Abin Sur's camp, Deimos", Lyssa said with a respectful bow as Sinestro finally turned to regard her.

"And", Sinestro asked as he clasped his hands behind his back.

"Abin Sur and three of his trusted Lanterns, Norrin Radd, Salaak, and Isamot Kol, have left on some secret mission. We still don't know what it is they have planned, but it's definitely big."

Sinestro pursed his lips as he thought over the information.
"What's the status of the Omegas?"

"Scouring the spaceways for Abin Sur and the others. One appears to have found one of the other Lantern's scent."


"Orders still stand. I want Abin Sur alive. Kill the others."

"As you command, Deimos."


Lyssa bows to her Master and fades away back into the shadows to carry out Sinestro's orders.


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

Norrin Radd and Isamot Kol float in orbit above a small world seemingly covered in desert and mountainous terrain. It is here that Norrin's ring has lead them, to where the first lost Green Lantern on Norrin's list is.

"This place looks like a hole."

"You don't know how right you are", replied Norrin.
"The main city on this world is a bustling spaceport called Hammil, a place filled with corruption and violence. Never will one find a more retched hive of scum and villainy...we must be cautious."

"Whatever you say, Norrin. I'm following your lead on this. Let's find this Lantern and bring him home."


The Lanterns flew down towards the planet, heading for the city. Flying in low to avoid any kind of radar, Norrin and Isamot touch down in a secluded spot just outside Hammil.
Using the power of their rings, the Lanterns turn their uniforms into civilian cloths and enter the gates of the city.

Immediately they are assaulted by the stench of place, a pungent aroma one can only get when you take a massive amount of sentients from all across the galaxy and put them all in the desert.
The streets are filled with beings, bustling about their business and stopping by the local shops, bars, and eateries.

It was to one of these bars that Norrin and Isamot entered, a place called Chalmun's. It was crowded as many sentients packed the two story structure loudly enjoying themselves as they pounded down their drinks. A band composed of various species was set up in a corner as they played some bizarre music.

Norrin and Isamot make their way to the bar and order a pair of drinks.

"Excuse me", Norrin says to the bartender as he hands the man the money for the drinks along with a very hefty tip.
"I was wondering if you could help me. I'm looking for a friend of mine..."

Norrin produced a small holocron from his garments and placed it on the bartop, and the holographic picture of Norrin's 'friend' appeared.

"I'm sorry, but I don't recall ever seein' him. And a guy that big I'd remember."

"No apology necessary. Thank you", Norrin said with a smile as the bartender walked away.

"So, are we just going to go door to door asking, 'have you seen this man'?"

"This bar is one of the most popular in Hammil", Norrin stated, ignoring Isamot's jab.
"I thought that somebody-"

"Excuse me..."

Norrin and Isamot turn to regard a large Badoon male, wearing what appeared to be clothes made from animal hide and skin.

"Wasn't trying to eavesdrop, but I noticed your picture...I know your friend."

"Really", Isamot asked skeptically.

"Yes. My name is Bossk, and I'm a trader who hunts the badlands. The man you're looking for...I deal with him from time to time. I sell him supplies so he doesn't have to come into town."

"And where can we find him?"

"The man's a hermit. Lives in a small, rundown hut in the badlands. Dangerous place. If you go there, good luck."

"Thank you, Bossk", Norrin said as he pulled out a silver coin, tossing it to the Badoon.
"Here's a round on us for your help."

Norrin and Isamot finish their drinks and go to leave, but a ruckus on the other side of the bar catches their attention.
A young couple are sitting at their table, visibly frightened as they are being confronted by a group of six armed goons.

"Don't", Norrin says, seeing that Isamot is getting angry over this act.

"You've had seven days, Olgren", one of the armed men said to the man.
"Where's the money?"

"Please, not here", Olgren pleaded to the man, but caught the back of a rifle butt to his forehead as the retort.

"Where's the fraggin' money, Olgren! Kanjar Ro is not a patient man!"

"Isamot...this isn't our fight"
, Norrin whispered as Kol was showing signs that he meant to intervene.
"We can't risk exposing our identities in this place."

"I don't have it all yet! I need another week, two tops! I need time to get that kind of cash!"

"That's too bad, Olgren", the leader states as he moves next to his wife.
"I'm here for results, not excuses. So, if you don't have the money..."

The man quickly snatches Olgren's wife up from her seat, grabbing her tightly as she screams.
"I'll just have to take something else instead!"

Olgren at first moved to help his wife, but the leader pulled out a large blade, sticking it to his wife's throat.

"Uh, uh, uh...don't be stupid, Olgren. Wouldn't want to have to see this pretty little thing...damaged", the man said with a sadistic grin.

An emerald axe came crashing down, slicing the man's knife-holding arm off in one clean motion.
The thugs all stepped back as their leader fell to the ground crying out in pain as he futilely tried to stop the flow of blood that poured from the critical wound.

Isamot, in full Green Lantern garb, landed beside him, taking the leader's head from his shoulders in another swipe of his green axe.

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Old 10-19-2012, 05:29 PM   #124
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THE DEVIL'S DUE

Part 2


It's dark inside the OsCorp office of Norman Osborn, as the billionaire industrialist is pecking away at his laptop. The computer monitor's soft glow is the only thing illuminating the room, casting Osborn in an eerie light.

"Wow...so this is what you do in your free time. Gotta say, kind of creepy."

A startled Norman closes the laptop and turns to face the intruder.

"Lights!"


The room brightens, revealing Spider-Man clinging to Norman's office wall.

Osborn immediately calms when he sees it's Spidey, but he definitely does not hide his annoyance.
"Oh, it's you...my would-be savior. I suppose I should thank you, but seeing as to how you're breaking and entering right now..."

"I'm not here to banter, Osborn", Spider-Man interrupts.
"I want to know everything about you and a man called Tombstone."

Norman briefly flinched upon hearing that name, but instantly regained his composure.

"I know you and he had a deal together", Spider-Man continues as he flips from the wall to the floor and approaches Osborn.
"And that you ended things, which rubbed Tombstone the wrong way."

"Yes...", Norman says as he straightens his tie after a few seconds of silence.
"I had agreed to purchase property from Mr. Lincoln a month ago, but I found out that the property in question was stolen...so I canceled the deal."

"As you well know"
, Norman said as he looked down at the bullet holes in his desk.
"He didn't take too kindly to that."

"What kind of 'property' was he getting for you?"

"That's none of your damn business", Osborn said with a smug smile.
"Suffice to say it was equipment to aid OsCorp and it's many projects meant for the benefit of Mankind."

"Whatever you say, Osborn", Spider-Man shakes his head and sighs, turning towards the window and opening it.
"You just better pray to whatever god you believe in that I get to him before he sends another assassin after you. I may not be there to save you next time."

"Don't worry, Spider-Man", Osborn smiles, "Believe me when I say I can take care of myself. You have a splendid evening now."

Spider-Man gives Osborn a long look - Peter knows he's hiding something - before turning back around and leaping out the window and into the chilly New York night.


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


"So this info is legit?"

Basil Karlo sat in the noisy diner in a booth by the window, the bustling streets of the city separated by a thin sheet of glass. Sitting across from Karlo was a bald man in a casual black suit, sipping a glass of iced tea as Karlo read the papers contained in a plain tan-colored folder.

"Of course", said the man as he placed his drink down.
"I wouldn't lead you astray, Basil. Everything in there is genuine."

"Okay...this place in Hell's Kitchen, this club run by Lonnie Lincoln...", Karlo repeats the information he's been given and the information of the reports in the folder.
"He's been a front for Warren White for years, pulling in millions of dollars a year for the Great White...prostitution, underground gambling, drug and gun running...this information can launch a full scale investigation into White's alleged criminal empire. Again, if it's legit."

The man sighed and leaned forward, resting his elbows on the table and crossing his fingers in front of him.

"Look, this is information I've personally dug up. Like I told you when we first met, I used to work in a rival organization that White crushed, but I got out before the end. I'm done with this life, but, before I put it all behind me, I want that bastard to pay for his sins."

"And what about your sins, Mr. Toomes? I'm sure you've got bookoo skeletons in your closet."




Adrian Toomes smirked, "We all have our own transgressions, Basil. I'm simply trying to gain some atonement from mine."

"I'm giving you a chance here to not only expose New York's criminal kingpin, but think of the fame and accolades you'd get from a story like this."


Basil did indeed think of the fame and rewards he would receive once he exposed the criminal mastermind that was Warren White. He thought about it often.
But he still seemed a bit leery of this man, though he did check the guy out and his story was true. He was a member of a rival family that was wiped out by White when the Great White took power.

"Look, if you're not interested in the story I'm sure I won't have any problems finding somebody who is."

"No...no, I'm definitely running with this", Karlo said as he reached into his pocket, pulling out a small envelope that contained money to pay for the information.

"No", Toomes frowned and held up his hands as Basil tried to give him the envelope.
"I don't want your money. I'm giving you this information to try and make up for my past, not to make a buck."

"If you say so", Basil remarked as he happily put the envelope back into his pocket.

"Well, I have to run. It's been a pleasure, Mr. Toomes", Karlo said as he tossed some tip money on the table and got up.

"Pleasure was all mine", Toomes smiled as he leaned back in the booth, taking a sip from his iced tea.
Basil Karlo gathered his coat and the documents, leaving the restaurant and Mr. Toomes behind.

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Old 10-19-2012, 11:19 PM   #125
Carnage27
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I hunch over my work station at WayneTech, fiddling with a mechanism Fox dropped off early this morning. I pick up a tool and go to get to work, when I realize I have absolutely no idea what this is, or what it's for. I mean, I can figure it out easy enough, but I was clearly distracted with what's going on down the hall.

I saw Detective Gordon enter this morning and give the sample over to the lab tech. And I know it won't be tampered with. Not under Lucius Fox's nose. The man is as clean and trustworthy as they come.

The results of that test will give me my next target. My next stepping stone on the way to the top of the food chain in Gotham.

And I know I'll know tonight. But knowing the information is a room over is incredibly tempting.

"You look a bit distracted, Mr. Malone," Lucius says as he enters the room. "How's that part coming together?"

"Uh..." I stall, looking for an explanation. "I can probably have it done after the weekend, if that's okay."

"Not the answer I would have expected from a genius," he responds with a sly smile.

"Sorry, sir."

"Don't worry about it, son. Head home. It's Friday and you're basically the only one left anyway. Go enjoy your weekend."

I smile at my boss and grab my coat, heading towards the lobby of the building, where a familiar voice calls at me as I head out the door, "Mike!"

Turning, I find Barbara trotting towards me, smile painted across her face, "You headed out for the day?"

"Yea, Fox let me out of my cage early," I joke.

"Well...care for a drink?"

**********

"So you've lived here your whole life?" I ask, looking over my beer. I don't drink, but hell, I need some human contact outside of the suit. And Alfred doesn't count. "Rough place to grow up."

"Yea, well, my dad is a bit of an idealist," she responds after a sip. "He's always going on about finishing the job he started. That he wants to help the city."

"Gotham isn't the best place to be an idealist cop," I continue to prod in an innocent, interested way.

"Luckily for us, the town is so bad that one idealist cop isn't going to change a thing. Thus, no one pays attention to us. It works out."

"Might want to watch out," I give her a sly smile. "Things might be changing with this Batman character. Maybe Gotham's at a turning point."

"Ha!," she blurts out, holding back a sip of her drink from escaping. "Dad says Batman is nothing more than a nut in a costume. He'll be caught or killed before long."

Interesting. Gordon hasn't told his daughter about our alliance. A smart move. He's better than I would have expected.

"And besides, I'd like to see someone come after me," she says confidently. "I've been taking martial arts classes since I could walk on dad's orders."

"Oh yea? Smart and able to break an arm when the situation calls for it," I chuckle. "You must have been popular in high school."

"Yea, in the all girls school I was sent to I was the pick of the litter," she rolls her eyes. "Dad sure wanted to punish me on that one. What about you?"

"Oh, I moved around a lot. Lived in Ireland and England for a while," I respond with a shrug. "My grandfather was from over there and he wanted to get me some culture. It was a great time...but culture amounted to me going to bars after school."

"Hey, it's Europe," she says, raising her glass.

"That it is," I nod, clinking mine against hers.

**********

Jim Gordon paces in the alleyway alone, puffing nervously on a cigarette. He's nervous, I can tell. Nervous to be out here alone, away from his partner and his beat. Nervous to be found by another cop. Nervous to be found by someone who runs these streets.

But instead, he finds me. I step out from the shadows, and he nods at me, "Was beginning to think you weren't coming."

"I honor my commitments, detective," I assure him. "Did you find out what the compound at the scene was?"

"Yea, the lab sorted it out," he nods. "They say it was some sort of hallucinogen. I'm not familiar with the compound, but I've got the printout here."

I take the page and give it a quick glance, "I'll look into it."

He turns around and looks out to the city street, "Good luck, I hope you find it-"

He faces back towards the place I was just standing, which is now empty, leaving him to his own thoughts.

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