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Rise of Marvels: Year One -- IC Thread

Discussion in 'RPG Archives' started by Carnage27, Jul 30, 2014.

  1. Carnage27 No one's puppet

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    Daredevil was perched on the rooftops of New York, pondering the events of the week. The Maggia seemed to be walking on eggshells through out their turf. Matt had barely seen their men out on the streets the past few days. He hadn't expected them to be this reluctant so quickly after he showed himself to them. He'd take it, though. He knew criminals were a fearful sort, but he never thought they were that fearful.

    At least the down time during his nightly activities gave him time to focus on work during the day. He was involved in a barn-burner of a case representing a victim of police brutality. Matt's client had crossed one of the families, he wouldn't tell Murdock which one, and they had one of the cops under their employ rough him up after a phony drug charge. Matt had no chance at reversing the drug charge, but he had the chance on the brutality side. Of course, they had drawn one of the toughest judges in the city, so who knows what the outcome would be. The lawyer was trying his best, however.

    Matt took off over the rooftops, beginning to search for anything of note in the city. What he didn't know was that a few rooftops away, three men stood and watched with binoculars.

    One pushed a large cowboy hat back, letting more light into his eyes, "Well, he's an ornery one ain't he?"

    "Agile and sure footed, that much is for sure, Montana," the second man, dressed to the nines in a fine suit. He took a pocket watch out of his suit jacket, timing how quickly Daredevil went through traversing the rooftops of this great city. "What do you think, Ox? You think you'd be able to catch him?"

    "I reckon I'd be able ta, Fancy Dan," the third, massive man grumbled. Ox was nearly seven feet tall and built like a mac truck. He looked like he'd be able to take down a grizzly bear. If the bear was dumb enough to go after him, that is. "We gonna go after him now?"

    "No, tonight is just to take a look at our opponent's abilities," Fancy Dan shook his head. "The devil gets to survive another night. What are you thinking, Montana?"

    "What we go here," the cowboy said in his southern draw, "is a tricky beast. We need a trap."

    "I like traps," Ox chuckled deeply.

    "I know ya do, big fella," Montana took his hat off and ran his hand through his hair. "Tomorrow night, the devil's gonna get his due."
     
  2. Bounce Registered

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    [​IMG]
    | THE UNITED NATIONS
    | New York City, United States of America

    The monolithic structure overlooked the East River, Four Freedoms Park a picturesque beauty amid the waters in the channel, reflected in the glass which held the image of a lanky young man. His rumpled suit was obviously off the rack, his gangly form evidence of the awkward transition from teenager to man. A college student definitely, a perception reinforced by the intern badge that he wore clipped to his suit coat.

    Turning away from the window, the intern proceeded through the maze of cubicles and internal offices, proceeding past security check-points until he arrived at the doors to one of the permanent members of the United Nation's Security Council.

    The Chinese ambassador looked up, startled, as the nondescript looking file folder dropped onto his desk. Blinking, the elder Han statesman found himself looking up at a young man who looked Chinese, but wasn't a member of the UN staff that he'd seen before. "How did you get in here?" the ambassador demanded, rising from out of his seat.

    "The wrong question, Mister Ambassador," the intern answered cryptically, his eyes holding the man's own before briefly dipping back down to the folder on the desk.

    Hesitatingly, the ambassador's hand drifted over the front of the manilla folder, before pulling back the upper edge. Imagery of an American aircraft carrier launching a drone and satellite data on the Venezuela situation spilled out across the desk.

    "What is this?" the Chinese man demanded rhetorically, beads of sweat standing out on his brow as he turned his head back up toward the intern. "Where did you get this?"

    "Again, the wrong question, Mister Ambassador," the intern answered dryly, pacing toward the window in the office that overlooked the Four Freedoms Park. Turning back toward the Chinese man, the intern remarked, "A Western philosopher once said, you shall know the truth. And the truth shall set you free."

    Gesturing with one hand toward the file folder on the ambassador's desk, the intern added only, "Behold, freedom, Mister Ambassador."

    The Han man blanched, the sweat running down his face as the color drained away from it. "Who are you?"

    "Hardly the question of the moment, Mister Ambassador," the intern quipped dryly in rebuttal. Dark, predatory eyes locked onto the man - staring through him as though peering down somewhere past his very soul. "What is relevant is the question of what you will do with this information now that you have it."

    And, with that, the room was plunged into an icy, eerie silence.

    "On that note, I take my leave of you, sir," the intern remarked after a moment, turning his back to the ambassador as he started toward the door.

    "You understand this information could set the world on edge."

    "Once, men believed the world to be flat, and feared sailing too far lest they fall off the edge of the world," the intern stated, turning his head to look back over his shoulder at the ambassador. "It took men brave enough to risk that fall for mankind to discover the truth. And that truth is that the world is round. It has no edge."

    "And if I won't risk that fall?"

    "Then our conversation has ended, Mister Ambassador," the intern said, turning back toward the door.

    He made it all the way there, his hand on the door knob, before the ambassador's voice stopped him.

    "If I were to want to contact you..."

    "You need only speak," the intern stated, opening the door. As he stood over the threshold, he turned back to say, "Your words will reach me."
     
  3. Carnage27 No one's puppet

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    Captain America stood on a building overlooking Independence Mall in Philadelphia, surveying the two block stretch of land that had given birth to the nation she wore as her emblem. The grass in front of Independence Hall was bare when at this time of day on a weekend it would normally be covered with tourists. She pulled a pair of small binoculars off her belt and surveyed the area. She could see Fourth Reich members held up in the Liberty Bell building across the lawn from her, as well as a few in the windows of Independence Hall itself.

    "I count ten," Steph said into her comm back to Fury and her mother.

    "There's two in the back windows you can't see from your vantage," Fury responded. "What's your play?"

    "I was thinking zipline to the roof, then work my way from there," Cap responded. "Only problem is I can't see the hostages."

    "Hostages are the main concern, but we're also dealing with a building of extreme historical significance," her mother added. "We can't do too much damage."

    "Any chance you two can draw some fire?" Steph asked, knowing the answer would be no. Fury and Sharon had handguns, but nothing that could hold up to the firepower the Fourth Reich was packing below. She could see them carrying high powered rifles. But without a distraction, she stood little chance at getting into the building.

    "No," came a new voice over the frequency, "but I can."

    From above, Sam Wilson fell, landing beside Steph gracefully, folding the wings on his arms back into the small booster pack on his back. With a smirk, he pushed up the goggles covering his eyes, "What?"

    Steph shook away the amazed look she had on her face, "I thought you were pararescue?"

    "Yea, but I didn't say what kind," he motioned for the binoculars, and Cap promptly handed them over. "Well, well. Looks like our boys are packing some heat. What's the play?"

    "Well, if you're up for it, you could buzz the guys out front," Cap directed the motion she wanted Wilson to fly in. "I'll be able to zipline to the roof of the Hall. I'll take it from there. If you can manage to draw a few away, that'd make my job a lot easier."

    "I'll do my best," he pulled the goggles back down. "And...thanks for what you said back at the shop. I...needed to hear that. I'm ready to go on your mark."

    Captain America nodded to her new comrade in arms. She was slightly amazed she had managed to get through to him. But she was glad she did. This rescue would most likely be impossible without him. She unclipped the zipline shooter from her belt, aimed at her target. With a quick glance over to Wilson she said, "Mark."

    Wilson unfurled his wings again, blasting off the roof into a dive towards the Reich members standing on the lawn in front of Independence Hall, drawing their fire. At the same time, Cap fired her zipline to the bell tower of the building, sliding down as Sam drew the fire and attention of their enemies. She crashed through one of the windows of the bell tower, slamming into a sniper that had set up inside.

    "Well, that's a happy coincidence," Cap said to herself before snapping the sniper rifle in half with her bare hands. As she descended the stairs towards the second floor of the historic building, she took the shield off her back, moving as quietly as she could. If the reports were true, the Red Skull himself was in the building, and if she could get close enough to him without alerting him, she might be able to end this all today.

    Gunfire continued outside as Sam Wilson continued his distraction, and Steph stepped out into a hallway, where she found two Fourth Reich members staring out the windows at their comrades attempting to shoot down Wilson, who was doing an admirable job evading their fire. She tossed her shield at the one's head, hitting him perfectly so that it hit the second as well. The two collapsed silently to the ground, and Cap expertly snag it out of the air as it returned towards her.

    She crept up to the balcony overlooking the room where the Deceleration of Independence was signed. There, she found three armed men along with the Red Skull himself. He was garbed in a Nazi-like uniform, but it was also adorned with American paraphernalia. He stood at attention, almost as if he was bored with the proceedings. He was well built and looked to be powerful, a leader in every sense of the word.

    Cap heard nothing but the whispers and slight sobs of the hostages below. But she knew there was no course of action but for a direct confrontation. Taking another look over the bannister and measuring her shot, she flipped over the side, tossing the shield. It hit two of the men, flooring them, and Steph landed on the third. As she stood, her and the Skull locked eyes, "Game's over, Skeletor."

    The Red Skull looked Captain America up and down with disdain in his eyes, grimacing, "Captain America. You always seem to show up at the right place and time, don't you?"

    "That's my job," Steph smiled. "Got any requests for your cell? Maybe I can get top bunk reserved for you."

    "Humorous," he said in a deep southern draw. He sounded like he came from old money. "But I won't be arrested. Nor will you be able to stop me."

    Steph chuckled, "Yea? Why's that?"

    "Because you're weak, Captain," he scoffed. "You fight for all in a crusade that will destroy us all. This country, this world, requires a master race to lead us forward, to weed out the weak, and to ensure humanity survives. Your ways will ensure our destruction. I will ensure we survive."

    "You say I'll ensure our destruction," Cap stood defiant, "when you really mean the destruction of your insane world view."

    "Whatever you think, Captain. I'll be going now," he turned to leave.

    "Oh no you don-" before Steph could come after him, two Fourth Reich members emerged from behind her. She took them out easily enough, but when she turned around, the Skull was gone. "Wilson, Fury, Carter. Hostages are secure. The Skull got away."

    "The Reich is running," Sam commed in. "Law enforcement is moving in."

    "Then it's time we got out of here," Steph said, heading for the door. "Meet back up at the garage."
     
  4. Carnage27 No one's puppet

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    How did I end up here?

    I swing after an armored car that had been hijacked mere moments before. The idiots inside had managed to commit the crime right near my school. Of course, they didn't know that, and the story I had to feed to Gwen was obvious BS. But hey, there were superheroics to perform. I've got a reputation to uphold.

    Where was I? Oh, right. How I got here. Well, I was bitten by a genetically-modified, radioactive spider. You would think that would kill me, right? Or at least give me cancer or something. Nope. Superpowers. How cool is that, right?

    The stolen truck barrels towards two children crossing the street, who become paralyzed by fear at the sight of their coming doom. Acting quickly, I slingshot myself off a lightpole, snatching the children out of the way and putting them on the sidewalk.

    "Thanks, Spider-man!" the two yell in unison.

    "No problem, kids," I wave as I fire a webline to continue my pursuit. "But remember, next time a truck is coming at you, move!"

    The need for the save shows me the criminals fleeing from me are desperate, and desperate men are the most dangerous ones, I've found. Sure, I've only been doing this for a few weeks, but I learn fast. I did know long division before most knew their ABCs, of course.

    Swinging in a low arch down towards the escaping vehicle, I fire webbing into the axles and wheels, gumming up the works. It works better than I thought it would, noting that the webbing has a higher tensile strength than even I figured.

    Good to know.

    The truck skids, flips, and comes to a stop in the middle of the street. The two robbers tumble out of the truck, firing their automatic rifles into the air. The people on the street panic, and I yell out to them, "GO! Inside! Duck and cover! Tip your waitress!"

    The two men turn their attention to me, and I jump out of the way of a hail of machine gunfire. Flipping heels over head as I do, I fire a few balls of webbing at one of the hijackers, trapping him against the truck he attempted to steal. Petty thugs don't stand much of a chance against me. I got the tools, and I got the talent, to paraphrase one Winston Zeddemore.

    "Stand still, insect!" the thug's accomplice attempts to taunt me, firing at me with his weapon.

    "Well, spiders are arachnids," I respond, yanking the gun out of the man's hand, smacking him in the face with it in the process. "You could have said bug. That'd work."

    The two criminals squirm against the webbing as I suspend them from a lightpole, "Now, now, gentlemen. I'd hate to see you fall from this pole. Please keep all arms and legs inside the webbing at all time."

    "I'm gonna get you, bug!" one of the men screams.

    "Hey! There ya go! Learn something new every day, huh?" I say as I swing away. "This less brought to you courtesy of your friendly, neighborhood Spider-man!"

    As I make my way back to the school, and the webbing pack I left my stuff, I feel my phone vibrate in the one pocket on the inside of my suit. Yea, I put a cellphone pocket in my suit. I'm a millenial, what did you expect?

    "Hello?"

    "Peter?" Gwen's confused voice comes from the other end. "You sound like you're out of breath."

    "Yea...I was, uh, jogging," I lie.

    "You said you had to grab something at the store for Aunt May," Gwen replies, annoyance lacing every word.

    "Yea, I jogged to the store, and I was jogging back," I cover myself. This is definitely the worst part of this gig. Constantly lying to Aunt May and Gwen tears me up inside. Both of them are always there for me, and I'm sure my new habit of constantly dipping out on them hasn't gone unnoticed. Adding the lies on top of that probably just sends up more red flags.

    Not a good combination at all.

    "Okay. Well, I was wondering if you wanted to grab ice cream or something tonight. It's been a while since we just hung out," she asks.

    "Yea, I can do that," I confirm as I land on the roof of midtown high to gather my stuff. "Just let me finish up some school work and have dinner. I'll call you."

    "You better," she hangs up.

    "Wow," I pocket the phone. "That was uncharacteristically icy. All in a days work."
     
  5. sabetoonth Where You Get Those Eyes?

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    The Hammer, New York City





    Leo Kincaid is probably the most sane, only because he tries to voice reason before rushing head long into everything with the other two. Freddy Mallory is your consummate ladies man at least in his mind. Vinny Krall always rolled a perfect game, however. With his beautiful blonde hair, barrel chest, big arms and a laugh that shook a room, he would have put Hugh Hefner to shame in his day. He also had a knack for storytelling. The odds were in the favor of a great deal of embellishment bu the stories were always great to listen too.


    The Hammer, an old bar that we hang out at after work, one that takes credit for being the origin of the phrase getting hammered. I was met with cheers and the smell of stale beer and god knows what is on the underside of those tables or back in the restrooms. The same bar stool as always is empty over by the other end, between Freddy and Vinny and I make my way down the end of the way as I wave to Patch the bartender (names for he eye patch he wore over a missing eye he lost serving over seas) and a few other regular patrons.

    "Well if it isn't the Doctor! Save any lives today?" Freddy's voice rose over the crowd, his beer held high one hand to motion me over even though I was already moving that way.

    "Actually, I did." I know before the words leave my mouth that this will grab their attention and leave them all wanting to know more about how my day went.

    "You lie! You spent the day fawning over Jane." The booming accusation comes from Vinny.

    "Vin, come on now," Leo didn't speak often and when he did you listened. His brows were knit together and his eyes cast a disappointing look and a scowl at our mutual friend before gesturing to me. "Let the guy tell the story," his lips curved up, "and then he will tell us how long he sat and day dreamed about Jane."

    They love to tease me about the crush I have on Jane and anymore I roll my eyes. I took a seat in the familiar stool and hail Patch for my own beer before I began to tell them the story. "There was an accident, a bunch of girders fell out of the sky..." I went on to tell them the story about how I saved Kevin's life, amputated the leg, got him out of the van and rode with him the hospital, where I hope they were able to re-attach the limb. I kept it a brief story, not that I was ashamed of what I did, but unlike Vinny storytelling is not my fortey. I lack an orator's pizazz, he has that down pat, it's a natural god given talent of his. Freddy tries, but he's not quite as good as the larger of us.

    After I had brought the tale to a close Leo was the one to produce from his pocket something I immediately recognized as tickets. I couldn't tell what they were, but I didn't have to wait long.

    "The boys and I thought that you were over due for a vacation." The monotone and strength in his voice draws you to his words. They shifted through the smoke and the stale beer smell to my ears. He was a man who you listened to when he spoke. The strength was quiet but clear, and despite his gruffness you could tell he was educated. "And so you now have tickets for a trip to Norway," he continued on, Freddy wearing his **** eating grin and Vinny sat there with a exceptionally-pleased-with-himself smirk. My guess is he put forth the idea and Leo was the one to put up the money.
     
    #30 sabetoonth, Sep 7, 2014
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2014
  6. Carnage27 No one's puppet

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    IC: Captain America


    Captain America and her team sat contemplating the events that had just transpired at the birthplace of their nation. The Fourth Reich had escaped with only a handful of the terrorist team that took Independence Hall ending up in police custody. According to the news, two of the four captured aggressors had already taken their own life, and the remaining two refused to talk. This fanaticism was what stuck with Stephanie after the conflict. The Red Skull's attempts to undermine her confidence had rolled off her shoulders, save for the conviction that backed them up. The Skull truly believed the words he was saying, whether they would happen or not. During her training with HAMMER, Steph had learned that the most dangerous people to fight against were the ones with nothing to lose or those completely committed to the cause. The Red Skull was clearly the latter. He believed his way was the way of the future, and anyone who disagreed would burn in the righteous fire he thought he was setting. That scared Captain America. She knew he'd do anything to achieve his goals, so she needed to do anything and everything in her power to stop him.

    "So we're going after the Skull and the Reich now, right?" she was the first to speak since they returned. "No way in hell I'm letting them get away with this."


    "We still don't have a clue where they're base of operations is," Fury shook his head. "Until we get that, I'm not comfortable with setting up direct action against them. I think a continued strategy of intervention when they pop up is best."


    "That's horse crap, Nick," Cap snarled. "The Red Skull is the base of operations. Everything flows through him. And he's close. We find him, we end them."


    "We have no idea where he went," Nick answered angrily. "And I'd appreciate a little more respect than that."


    "And I'd like to find the domestic terrorists who just tookover a historic landmark!" she shot back.


    "Whoa. Let's cool the jets," Sam put up his hands. "Listen, we all want to get the Reich, but Fury's right. Without knowing their movements, it'd be sloppy to go after them now."


    Steph knew they were right, but instead of admitting as much, she stewed in her own anger. Wilson, the newcomer, talking sense into her was the last thing she needed. It was times like this that she realized she wasn't a soldier like her father was. It was frustrating that while she was picking battle strategy and tactics up at an astonishing rate, she was not trained at the level he was. On top of that, not knowing who to trust is a lot harder than just being pointed in the direction of the Nazi war machine and being told to stop it. To her, the world seemed a lot more simple in his time.


    "Yea, you're right," she nodded.


    "Wilson, let's give Carter some time to cool off," Fury motioned for the other room. "We need to talk about your role here."


    Once they were gone, Sharon spoke up to her daughter, "You look on edge. What did he say?"


    "It wasn't what he said, it was how he said it," Steph admitted. "These guys are fanatics, mom. There's not gonna be any reasoning with them. There isn't going to be peace. They want blood, and they're not going to stop until they get it. And I think we're the only ones standing between them and getting it."


    "Then that's what we'll do, Stephanie," her mother was resolute. "I made a living doing just that. Your father did that and became the world's greatest hero. You're going to do the same and match him. No darkness can stand as long as you believe in the light just as strongly as they believe in the dark."


    Cap nodded as her mother followed the other outside, leaving Steph to dwell on her thoughts. She knew she believed in her cause. Hell, she committed what nearly amounts to treason for it. But she worried not enough of the world believed in it as well. She could barely convince Sam to join them. Could she really change the course of the world with so little at her disposal?


    In reality, she knew the answer to the question didn't matter. She'd try her damnedest. If she did that, who could realistically stand against Captain America?
     
  7. Carnage27 No one's puppet

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    IC: Spider-man

    I rummage through the fridge looking for something to throw together for dinner while snacking on a bag of chips that had been left on the kitchen table this afternoon by Aunt May. She was called in to work for the night, so I'm left to fend for myself. Usually I'd dread the thought of having to cook for myself, but I won't miss having to lie about why I'm late returning from school. Plus, I have homework to get done before going to meet with Gwen. That shouldn't take long, but less stress and distractions should make it fly by even quicker.

    Staring down at some chicken I could probably manage to turn into something edible, I instead grab some jelly out of the refigerator's door and decide to go with the much safer peanut butter and jelly sandwich route, "Can't beat the classics, Parker."

    Before starting my assignments, I slip my camera and its memory card out of my bag and plug it into my computer. I've been taking pictures of my battles as Spider-Man and selling them to the Daily Bugle. Sure, the jerk who runs the paper uses them to slam me, but I get funding for vigilante and normal teenager use out of it.

    Wolfing down the sandwich, I take a seat, open my books, and get to rushing through my homework, as I do, my eyes drift across the picture of Uncle Ben and I that's sitting on my desk. Taken with the first camera he had ever given me, it was a reminder of happier times. Ben had fostered all of my passions when I was a kid, and was a better father than I could have ever asked for. His loss still hurts, but I try and honor him every day in everything that I do.

    My thoughts drift to the night I lost him, to the night that led me to becoming Spider-man, and I can't help but dwell on it. I could have stopped the man who killed Ben, but instead I let my pride get in the way. My uncle's last words of "With great power comes great responsibility" were the driving factor in becoming Spider-man, and the reason I use my powers to help people.

    Before I know it, I'm through my homewrk. I worry for a second that it's probably not right thanks to my distracted state, but push the thought from my mind. I can't blow Gwen off again to doubel check the work. Stopping bad guys is one thing. Spending extra time on calculus is another.

    Hey, I'm on my way, I text her.

    Great, I'll buzz you up when you get here.

    Buzz me up? Is the Captain there?

    Captain George Stacy was one of the few cops who liked my alter ego in New York, but he was also one of the few people that never seemed to care for the Peter Parker me. Maybe it's because he knew how I really felt about Gwen or something, but there was always an iciness there. It's also seemed to amplify since my crime fighting days began.

    Of course he is, Peter. Are you still scared of my dad?

    Not so much scared as deathly terrified.

    I'll see you in a bit.

    Yea, gonna go catch a bus.

    **********​

    Hoping off the roof of the bus, I swing into an alleyway, making sure no one followed me in so I can change back into my street clothes. I exit carefully, double checking to make sure no one is watching me before heading towards the Stacy's building. ​

    I ring the buzzer and a stern voice answers on the other side, "Stacy residence."

    "Uh, ahoy Captain Stacy," I respond in the most awkward way possible before jamming my palm into my forehead. How in the world can I think that was a good idea? I mean, really. I am the least socially adept superhero ever. When I'm fighting some loser with an AK-47 I'm hilarious. When I take my mask off I'm just sad. It's furstrating.​

    "Oh, hello, Peter," Stacy sighs before buzzing me up.​

    The security guard gives me a nod as I head to the elevators, shifting nervously. I usually like meeting Gwen somewhere because the Captain enjoys giving me the question rundown. I don't think he sees me as a threat or dangerous, but he likes watching me squirm.​

    Reaching the Stacy's apartment, I knock and enter, my usual entrance to the Stacy's. What greets me on the other side, however, is not normal. The entire family is sitting in the den with Aunt May.​

    "Uh, hey everyone," I rock back onto my heels, "I appreciate the surprise party but my birthday isn't for a while."

    "Peter," Aunt May smiles, motioning for me to sit down, "we just wanted to talk to you for a little bit."

    "Aunt May, we live together, we can talk all the-" and then the lightbulb goes off in my head. "Oh my god you think I'm a druggie."

    "Pete, you have been acting strange," Gwen looks at me as if I'm a timebomb. "Running off randomly, skipping out on hanging out, stuff like that. The way it came out of nowhere, we were worried."

    "Your actions do fit the profile, Peter," Captain Stacy says seriously. ​

    Looking down at my feet, I search my brain for something, anything, to tell them. The truth is obviously out of the question...or is it? Part of the truth can get me out of this.​

    "Mrs. Stacy," I look to Gwen's mom, "you have a Daily Bugle subscription, right?"

    "Of course," she nods before rifling through the magazine rack next to the couch. "Here's today's issue."​

    I flop the front page on the table, featuring a picture I had taken of myself foiling a bank robbery the week before, "That's what I've been doing. I'm the one taking the Bugle's pcitures of Spider-man. I was hiding it because I know you don't want me to have a part time job and want me focusing on school, Aunt May. I didn't tell Gwen because I know she'd blab."

    "Hey!"

    "Sorry," I shrug. "Just wanted some extra spending money."

    The assembled group looks at each other, seemingly content with the answer. George adds, "I'm gonna talk to the Bugle and check the information."

    I give him a wonky salute that I immediately regret before looking over to Gwen, "So, ice cream?"

    She beams, "Yea, I think we can do that."

    "Meet you at home, Aunt May?" I look over to her. She seems relieved beyond measure, which is good. I never want her to worry about me, not after what happened to Uncle Ben.

    "Of course, dear," she nods. "I'm just going to have some tea with Mrs. Stacy."

    **********​

    The two of us stroll down the street, cones in hand, laughing about something one of our classmates had done earlier in the day. It's times like this my double life makes me feel more guilty than I already do. Hanging out with Gwen is fun, easy, and natural. The fact that we've spent less tiem together because of Spider-man is a worry. But it's a worry for another time. Live in the moment, Parker.

    "So I think you're still hiding something," she says slyly.

    "Oh yea?" I raise an eyebrow.

    "Definitely," Gwen laughs. "I know you way too well."

    "Well there was something I was thinking about asking you," I shrug.

    Oh my god, Parker, what are you doing? the voice in the back of my head says.

    "And what's that?" Gwen coos.

    "I was wondering if...you'dwannagotohoemcomingwithme," I blurt out.

    All I get in response is a confused look.

    "Sorry," I shake the nervousness out. "I asked if you'd want to go to homecoming with me?"

    A look of shock ripples over her face before a sheepish smile, "Peter Parker. Are you asking me out on a date?"

    "Uh, yea," are the only words I manage to get out. The stress has caused the ice cream to choke me. I'm sure of it. I can face down an armed gang and not asking a girl out on a date. I mean sure, she's my oldest friend so asking her out could destroy everything there and all that good-

    "What has gotten into you?" she eyes me curiously.

    "Oh, you know," I swallow the nerves and manage a coherent thought, "not being killed by your father has given me a high greater than even my apparent secret drug problem could."

    She, mercifully, laughs at the joke, "Well, in that case, yes. I'd love to."

    "Cool," I smile like an idiot. Stop smiling like an idiot, Parker.

    "Cool," she agrees.

    As we head back to her apartment, our hands not wrapped around ice cream cones wrap around one another.​
     
  8. Andy C. Repent, Harlequin!

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    OSBORN



    When most people think of a CEO's office, they think of a plush, ostentatious affair. The most modern and fashionable furniture, fantastically expensive works of art, a massive window out of which one can look down on the city below. While the Oscorp Tower certainly has one of those rooms, it's little more than a showroom for entertaining guests, a place where the materialistic and easily impressed can be swept up by a show of economic power.

    Tony Stark spends the majority of his time in an 'office' like that. Justin Hammer does, too.

    Tony Stark, however, is an idiot child, and Justin Hammer is a mewling little worm trying to crawl his way out of the shadows of giants.

    Norman Osborn was neither of those things. The palacial accommodations of the top floor of his building more often than not gathered dust-- or they would, if the generously-paid maintenance crew ever grew lax in their duties. His place was in the lower floors, down in the skunk-works, personally driving the direction his laboratories and his scientists were taking.....

    ....and, in a small, unmarked corner office with an unassuming formica desk and the harsh green-white of an old fluorescent light bulb overhead, he could personally hold members of his staff accountable.

    Spencer Smythe stewed as Osborn coldly regarded him. An ambitious, almost anxious man, Smythe had little patience for anything or anyone that delayed him from achieving results or making discoveries. To him, a dressing-down like this was wasted time, a sin he loathed, but he knew better than to say as much to his employer.

    Miles Warren shrunk into himself every time Osborn so much as glanced in his direction. Warren was very much the passive-aggressive, always bubbling with frustration and self-righteous indignation when he thought no one was looking, but meek and cowardly any time the very idea of confrontation presented itself.

    The only person who Osborn could never truly read, the only one who met his cold, appraising glare with one of his own, was Curt Connors. He and Connors went back years, going all the way back to all that....unpleasantness with the Parkers. They had never been friends, never talked socially, never even discussed potentially life-changing developments unless it directly affected their products and experiments. But there was no denying that it brought results. Out of everyone in his building, out of all the brilliant minds that Oscorp had on its payroll, Curt Connors was likely the only one that Norman Osborn respected.

    Still, he was displeased with the lot of them. And after he had allowed them to sweat it out for what he measured to be the correct amount of time, he spoke.

    "I was led to believe," he began, "that our recent forays back into the field of cross-species genetics were still in their early stages. That while we could hybridize simpler invertebrates and arthropods, advanced testing-- particularly human testing-- was still years away."

    Smythe gave an annoyed look, while Warren's eyes darted back and forth absently, trying to work out exactly what it was for which he was apparently in trouble.

    "I would agree with that assessment, Mister Osborn," Connors spoke up. "There are simply too many variables, the human genome too complex to accurately predict the outcomes of hybridization at this stage. Until we are able to simulate the desired reactions under controlled circumstances, I cannot in good conscience recommend human trials."

    "Agreed," Smythe concurred flatly.

    Warren nodded his head, nervously.

    "Then, gentlemen," Osborn said, reaching into the top drawer of the desk, "what would you say that this is?"

    He produced a copy of the day's edition of the Daily Bugle. Splashed across the front page was a man in a garish red and blue costume, pinwheeling through the air with an inhuman degree of agility.

    SPIDER-MAN! the headline screamed. HERO? OR MENACE?

    "Ah. The 'Spider-Man,'" Smythe noted. "Another one of the fantastical 'super-heroes' that have been cropping up as of late. I assumed that he was either a hoax, or a mutant of some sort. What does that have to do with our work?"

    "No, no, he can't be a mutant," Warren stammered. "Typically, mutations only allow for one particular post-human ability. But reports of Spider-Man say he's got a full suite of abilities. Enhanced senses, increased strength and agility, the ability to cling to walls and ceilings, firing spider-silk from spinnerets in the arms. Mutation is a messy thing, but this? It's.....it's too neat. Almost like......like he was hybridized."

    "Precisely, Doctor Warren," Osborn said. "And when we encountered a containment breach of CSG-treated organisms, what was the animal that we found had escaped from its habitat?"

    "A spider," Connors answered.

    "That doesn't account for the spinnerets," Smythe said. "Anatomically, they're all wrong, and even an ideal hybridization wouldn't allow for the spontaneous growth of new organs in places that neither animal have them."

    "Perhaps they were made artificially after the fact," Connors hypothesized. "Some sort of synthetic adhesive released through a powerful aerosol projector...."

    "But....but how could this happen?" Warren fretted. "How did we let something like this slip past us? Every employee in the company was screened for any sort of biological irregularities after the containment breach. Everyone in the building was checked off as uncontaminated!"

    "That's correct," Osborn nodded. "However, on the day of the incident......Oscorp employees were not the only people on that level of the building."

    A cold, alarming realization swept across all three men's faces.

    "The high school field trip," Connors said out loud. "One of those kids....."

    "I don't need to tell you the disaster that awaits us if it turns out that Oscorp accidentally mutated an unwilling civilian, and a child at that," Osborn said, his cold demeanor belying a boiling anger. "Even if it doesn't turn out to be true, and this 'Spider-Man' is a mutant or another military super-soldier, the very rumor of it could destroy us. And I mean us, specifically. Which is why the three of you are the only people that have had any access to information regarding the containment breach, and why the three of you are the only people who will be following up on it."

    "Follow up, sir?"

    "We need to know everything we can about Spider-Man. Thus far we can tell he's male, likely an adolescent between the ages of 15 and 18. There were three different high schools that were brought through our labs that day, so we'll start our search there. And more importantly, we'll be conducting experiments in the field to try to obtain DNA and tissue samples from the hybrid himself."

    "'In the field?'" Connors repeated, incredulously. "You're not seriously suggesting we attempt to bait a superpowered vigilante, are you?"

    "I need answers as quickly as possible, and have to get them without tipping our hand," Osborn said testily. "We can orchestrate....events, that might get our would-be hero's attention. And once we have him, we can possibly apprehend him, obtain the data we need, perhaps reverse his condition.....or possibly replicate it."

    Norman Osborn stood, barely an inch or so taller than Connors or Smythe but still towering over them nonetheless.

    "The three of you are going to relegate your current projects to your immediate subordinate, only to serve in a consulting role from them."

    "Mister Osborn, I can't just--"

    "In the meantime," he cut Smythe off sharply, "We will devote our attentions to cleaning up this potentially catastrophic loose end. If Spider-Man is one of our creations, even an unintended one, then he belongs to us. You will do everything in your power to recover the hybrid, or at least sufficient genetic material from him. You have my full permission to be as.....creative, as you like."

    "Mister Osborn, with all due respect....I am not Doctor Frankenstein. I am not some cackling mad scientist from a Saturday morning cartoon. Career threatening or not, I will not throw away my ethics just to avoid a black mark on my résumé."

    "Then do it in a way that doesn't compromise your ethical standards, Curt," Osborn answered, an almost placating tone in his voice. "As for myself, I have to think of the well being of the thousands of people who work for Oscorp, and the millions of people who are affected by our products and our policies. I cannot afford the luxury of drawing lines in the proverbial sand. However, like you, I do hope we can resolve this without any unnecessary ugliness."

    Connors looked unsatisfied with Osborn's answer, but he had worked with him long enough to know when that was that.

    "Best of luck, gentlemen," he concluded. "And congratulations, it would seem, on our first successful human trial."

    As the three senior scientists filed out of the small office, Osborn sat back down in his chair, and found himself staring at the costumed boy in the photograph.

    Amazing.......such an incredible gift......that kind of power, inhuman speed and skill........

    ......given to a child, by complete accident.

    To think, what could be done with real intent behind it........


    "Mister Osborn?" Warren poked his head back into the office. "Is......is something funny, sir?"

    "Excuse me?"

    "Nothing, it's just........I thought I heard you laughing."

    Osborn gave him a cold glare, before Miles Warren shrank away, back to his work in the lab.

    The CEO shook his head, and tossed the newspaper into the small plastic waste bin next to the desk.

    Everyone knew Norman Osborn didn't laugh. Ever.

    And yet, for half a second, even he could have sworn he heard his voice laughing out loud.
     
    #33 Andy C., Sep 17, 2014
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2014
  9. Keyser Soze AW YEEEAH!

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    In the heart of Manhattan, there is one skyscraper that stands amongst the others, fairly non-descript amidst some of its flashier contemporaries. There is no lavish signage, nothing to suggest extravagance. It is, by all exterior appearances, a fairly unremarkable office building, the kind of building countless people will walk by on their regular commute every day without ever once giving a second glance. The whole building is owned by Wilson Fisk. Like his building, there is nothing about Fisk that would suggest extravagance. He is a soft-spoken man, not given to media appearances or publicity, and though he is one of the wealthiest men in America, few would recognise him if they walked past him on the street. Like his building, he is largely unremarkable. On the exterior.

    His skyscraper, which does not bear the name Fisk Tower or any such ostentatious branding, serves as the primary US base of administrative operations for his multinational company, which handles the import of authentic spices and flavourings from Japan and other key locations across Eastern Asia into the US and other Western territories. It also houses several ostensibly independent legal offices and accounting firms which are in fact also owned by Fisk. Much of the top portion of the massive building, sealed off to general employees, acts as the home of Fisk himself. Three floors are dedicated to being his personal abode, making for a living space the size of many a grandiose country manor. The top of these three levels is sealed off even from the rest, set aside as Fisk's private working area, including a self-contained bedroom and en suite bathroom. The two levels above this, near the very top of the building, include Fisk's personal gym and swimming pool.

    As the sun sets on New York City, Wilson Fisk awakens from a short slumber in the aforementioned private bedroom. The longest rest Fisk allows himself at the end of the night is 2 hours. To compensate, the rest of the day is punctuated with brief, 15-30 minute "power naps" to maintain his energy and maximise his productivity. He's a busy man. Upon waking, he takes a brief shower - he cleans obsessively - in his en suite, especially converted into a large, open-plan wetroom to accommodate his hulking frame. Yes, if there were to be anything at all about Fisk's exterior that could be said to be more than unremarkable, it would be the sheer size of the man. Very tall, and almost as wide, he had by all accounts a massive frame. As a child, some may have made fun of him for being fat. As a young adult, those who learned it would be unwise to say such things to his face may have joked about his weight behind his back. Nowadays, nobody said anything about Fisk's appearance, to his face or otherwise.

    Pulling on a bathrobe and lighting a cigar, Fisk sat himself down at his computer, a mental list of housekeeping points to run through and check for updates on. One notification he was pleased to see was more news on the status of one Abel Wyatt...

    ...

    Abel Wyatt is an incredibly ill man. Before his illness rendered him unable to work, he was a journalist for the Daily Bugle, a financial columnist to be precise. A little over a month ago, he published an article commenting on some financial irregularities in Wilson Fisk's spice importing business. This did not make front page news. It was a largely-overlooked piece, not picked up and explored to any great detail by any other publications. Even Wyatt himself did not write it with the intention of implicating Fisk or his organisation in any deeper wrongdoing, with the tone implying middle-management incompetence more than anything else.

    But it was a thread. Something that someone, most likely Wyatt himself, might be inclined to pull at. They wouldn't find anything, not directly. But there might be holes, absences, further threads for someone who looked too closely to keep on tugging at... and who knows where that might lead? The parties within the organisation whose negligence had caused these irregularities had already been neutralised, and so that only left Wyatt himself. He couldn't just be killed, because then some other journalist might view that as suspicious and start following it up. And so, Wyatt's trusted family doctor broke the news to Wyatt last week that he had a rare chronic illness whose symptoms included constant pain and the loss of bodily functions. He prescribed Wyatt with medication to ease these symptoms, which he warned him would be sure to present themselves in force before long. In fact, the trusted family doctor was being blackmailed into dosing Wyatt's medication with a poison which would replicate the symptoms of the chronic disease Wyatt didn't actually have. The more pain Wyatt was in, the more medication he'd take, which in turn would steadily worsen his symptoms. A few weeks from now, Wyatt would be dead, left lying in a puddle of the contents of his voided bowels, having endured constant, unspeakable agony.

    This is what The Kingpin of Crime would call a precaution.


    ...

    Fisk was pleased with the latest round of updates, save for one minor niggle he would take further measures to address shortly. For the most part, his operations were now so stable and efficient that oversight was all that was required of him, the occasional nod of approval. Any kind of action from him, even indirect, was uncommon. But he was able to do when required. But first, it was time to get himself ready for the evening. Fisk drew from his closet the tailored suit he had chosen for the occasion: white in color, with a purple tie. Fisk was just adjusting his tie, when he received a new message. It contained some photographs of Stacy Albright, and he needed to choose which one was most suitable for use by the third party who would be distributing them. Fisk smiled thinly...

    ...

    It had been a long time since The Kingpin of Crime had convened a roundtable of the East Coast's various crime families. He was long removed from such things. The heads of each family were his people, handpicked and groomed for leadership by him, and they now had enough autonomy to hold their own meetings... with the content of the meetings reported back in full to him, of course. These were powerful men, but these days were mostly beneath The Kingpin's notice. The roundtables he held these days included corporate CEOs, heads of legal firms, newspaper editors, Governors, the Police Commissioner, The Mayor. These days, The Kingpin only revealed himself to those who were the most powerful. Those who had the most to lose.

    One relatively recent addition to the table had been Nathan Albright, a Wall Street high-flyer who had found increasing sway over the financial markets. The Kingpin had learned that everyone has a pressure point, a weakness to exploit, and for Nathan, it was his wife, Stacy. The public story, which in itself had been "hushed up" to give it some air of legitimacy, was that Stacy had been struggling with addiction, and had been admitted to a private clinic in order to deal with her issues. In truth, though, the institute belonged to The Kingpin of Crime, and Stacy was being held hostage. Not permanently, but long enough to let Nathan know how little control he had over his own life, how easily those he loved could be crushed under heel, and to ensure his compliance for the foreseeable future. And it seemed to have worked, until the last couple of meetings. Of course, Nathan had not said anything, or made any overt expression of dissent. The fact that he was still alive attested to that. But The Kingpin had sensed something sullen and obstinate in Albright's demeanor that displeased him, a whisper of backbone yet to be broken, and decided it best to temper that before it blossomed into anything that would jeopardise Albright's usefulness to his operation.

    So, yesterday, Nathan Albright received a parcel by courier that contained two of Stacy's toes, delicately encased in bubble wrap. At 3am tomorrow morning, a masked man would enter Nathan's home and personally deliver to him a photograph - carefully selected - showing an unsettling act of violence being committed on his wife. This would likely be enough to ensure that Mr. Albright behaved himself in future meetings.


    ...
    Now dressed, Wilson Fisk poured himself a glass of scotch. He sat himself down in his luxurious leather sofa, positioned to let him look outside at the New York City skyline, survey his kingdom. He dialled a number on his phone. He was addressing that niggle now, and this would require him to actually deign to talk to someone to get something done. The number he was calling was known only to him. The phone was used only for receiving these calls - utterly untraceable, like all other communications coming from Fisk's private office - and so when it rang, the recipient of the call knew exactly who wished to speak with him.

    "Hello?" Silvio Manfredi stammered, a note of unease in his voice.

    "Silvio," Fisk said plainly, "I have been hearing of disturbances in your harbour operations. Something to do with a vigilante?"

    The Maggia was an international crime conglomerate, one whose influence extended far beyond New York City. But in this particular corner of the world, this wing of the Maggia had been conquered long ago by The Kingpin. While The Maggia might have been feared rivals back when Fisk worked for Rigoletto, Manfredi was his man, unbeknownst to anyone, even other branches of The Maggia outside the East Coast.

    "A minor inconvenience," replied Manfredi, "I have already tasked the Enforcers to deal with this devil character."

    "The Enforcers are good men," said Fisk, "Bobby Karnelli, however, is not."

    "Excuse me?"

    "Bobby Karnelli. He is the one who gave up the whereabouts of this dock to your vigilante, was he not?"

    "Well, yes, but how did you..."

    "He is a liability. Have him killed. I trust you can handle this business on your own."

    "No, now look here, I can't just kill one of my top earners..."

    Fisk took a sip of whisky. He had little tolerance for people questioning his instructions.

    "Silvio, stop talking. I would like you to take a hold of your testicles for me."

    "...What!?"

    "Was I unclear?" Fisk asked casually, "Your testicles. They dangle down underneath your member. Your medical report informs me the one on the right is a little bigger. Reach down your pants and cup them in your pants. Just pretend that I'm watching and know whether you're actually doing it or not."

    There was a momentary pause. Fisk smiled at the thought of Manfredi realising that it wasn't outwith the realm of possibility that Fisk could somehow see what he was doing in the privacy of his own home.

    "Okay," came a small voice from the other end of the line.

    "Good," said Fisk, speaking with the calm, measured tone of an accountant giving financial advice, "Now, I want you to remember something. Those balls in your hand don't belong to you. They belong to me. I sub-let them to you. And if at any time I decide your performance is unsatisfactory, or even if on a whim I decide I would like a change, I can rip those balls off of you and hand them to one of half a dozen people I have ready to take your place. So, when we have these conversations, it is not a place for you to haggle or negotiate with me, or for you to get across your point of view. I am giving you orders, and you are receiving them and putting them into action. Do you understand?"

    "...I understand."

    "Well, then. I trust you will take care of Mr. Karnelli, then. Good evening."

    ...

    Bobby Karnelli would be found dead later that night in an alley behind the brothel he routinely frequented, a bullet hole in the back of his head. A local gangster dying violently would not be viewed with much in the way of surprise or suspicion, and any investigation would find that mid-level Maggia enforcers were behind the hit. That's what gangsters did, after all: kill each other. The Kingpin of Crime was beyond that. All he needed to do was whisper the right words in the right ears to make things happen. He didn't kill people anymore. Not unless he needed to. Or wanted to.

    ...

    Wilson Fisk viewed New York City not as a metropolis of brick, steel and concrete, but as a living, breathing entity. And like any living body, there was always dead material on the periphery waiting to be scrubbed off. Frayed nails, split hairs, fragments of dry skin, these would be snipped or swiped away to keep the body clean and tidy, and would not be missed. Fisk recognised that a little snipping and swiping was necessary to keep the body of his empire running at peak capacity. A comfortable, successful life on the scale he has achieved always requires a little death.

    Now ready, and with his housekeeping attended to, Fisk stepped into his private elevator and exited his office. When he got into his main living area downstairs, he momentarily squinted. He liked to keep things so dim and moody upstairs that the bright, homely lighting down here momentarily took him aback.

    "The Kraken awakes!"

    Vanessa, his wife of 15 years, was waiting for him. She was dressed in a stunning evening dress, and in Wilson Fisk's eyes, was as beautiful as the day he'd met her. He drew her in for a kiss.

    "Let's skip this event tonight," he whispered playfully in her ear, "All of a sudden I feel like a quiet night in."

    Vanessa laughed and his him playfully on the arm.

    "I get to talk to actual, living, breathing people rarely enough as it is, Wilson," she jokingly chided, "Just because my husband's a hermit doesn't mean I'm going to miss this gala!"

    The event was a charity fundraiser to benefit struggling schools in Hell's Kitchen and other inner city areas. Fisk had donated generously, as it was a matter close to his heart. He too was, after all, a child of Hell's Kitchen.

    "Okay then, I'll endure it," Fisk sighed, "But just for you."

    Vanessa took Wilson's hand and looked up at him lovingly.

    "I always can get you to do what I tell you," she laughed, "My big, gentle giant."

    They kissed again, and headed for the elevator down to the ground floor. The security detail was already waiting at the entrance to escort them to the gala.

    One of the things that Wilson Fisk loved about Vanessa was that she believed he was a good man. Of course, he knew better. He knew that there was no such thing as a truly good man. In his experience, it was easy to be good when circumstances were in your favor. But everyone had the right trigger, the right weak point, and when you found it, you could just keep turning that screw and watch as people cast aside every moral and principle they had ever acquired. That was the core of the human condition, the one thing that Wilson Fisk had learned was the most valuable currency of all. More than money, more than firepower, more than anything, it was what ensured his position as The Kingpin of Crime had remained unchallenged for so long. Fear. And no man could ever stand against him for long... because nowhere in this world would you find a man without fear.

    [​IMG]
     
  10. Hound55 Byfar The Most Evil Thing

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    In the lower East side of Manhattan, nestled away in a dingy dark corner from most people’s eyes there’s a small pub – The Crown and Emu. Once a place where ex-pats and tourists could bring their families for a slice of the old country, it evolved into something somewhat more sinister with a regular clientele who’d see these sorts off quick-smart.

    The owner didn't care. Old Jack Barnes was a planted man, caring for a bar that served its use as a laundering venue for less-than-reputable businessmen.

    The fact that the bar saw little return was viewed as a positive. Less actual in-house revenue meant less money to hide. His regulars liked it because they kept something that felt more like home to them. The bar sank money into illegally importing booze from old Oz. Everybody wins.

    It’s a regular night in the Crown and Emu. Hours melting together. The occasional clack of the pool cue interrupting the Cold Chisel playing out of the jukebox. But it wouldn't be just any other night.

    One of the stalwart sorts who’d forever hold up his end of the bar was Fred Myers. A down and out loser who’d hit this country like many in search of following hopes and dreams. The difference is, Myers would actually have a real grip on it when he hit the shores. Being an athletic sort he’d been spotted by a baseball scout back home, with an arm like a rocket dollar signs flashed in front of people’s eyes – both the coaches who saw him, and Myers’ as well once he saw how much major league pitchers could earn. Promises that he could make it big were indeed fulfilled, but it was Myers himself who saw them dashed.

    But again, back to this night. Because that’s what this is all about. Not just any other night.

    This is the night Fred Myers would wind up back in the spotlight.

    “Oy! Blind!”

    Fred lifted his head and smiled as Old Jack slid a tall pint with a top head on it down the bar.

    “Cheers, cob’!” Myers would gratefully grab the pint and down it, only to come up wincing.

    “What is that sh**?!”

    The bartender gave a smirk, “Don’t look at me, Blind. He bought it for you.”

    Fred Myers turned and looked down the bar to the man that the bartender had gestured to. Timid guy in a suit and tie. Fresh off of Wall Street, clearly. But this ain’t Wall Street. The bloke stuck out like a sore thumb in The Crown and Emu, and clearly seemed to be worried he might offend some of the heavy set gents down the other end of the pub. Fred beckoned him over with an ostentatious wave.

    “What’s all this about then?” Fred quizzed the man once he pulled up a stool.

    “Umm... I’ve heard from— a guy I know, told me that—“

    “Jesus bloody Christ! Out with it...”

    “A guy I know said that you have been known to ‘take care’ of certain things.” The mousey bloke said. Just like that. Making small air-quote gestures below the bar and everything. Bloody amateurs.

    “I might ‘ave. That I might. But over here, not at the bar.” Fred pulled the man over to a booth.

    “Right. Who are ya and what’s this about?” Myers asked.

    “I’m—really? Should I tell you my name? Wouldn’t you want to, you know, not know. For plausible deniability or something?”

    “If I’m the one doing the job, if anything you’d be the one not wanting to know my name. Right?”

    “I suppose...”

    “Well you clearly already know my name, otherwise you wouldn’t have been able to pick me out at the pub, yeah? So I’d say we’re beyond that point, ay.” Fred raised the inflection at the end to make it sound like a question.

    “Now what’s ya name and who are we talking about here?”

    The bloke in the fancy suit looked around him to check no one was listening before responding. “My name is... Nathan Albright.” He hissed. Fred looked on blankly. The name meant nothing to him. Nor was he surprised. “I... have a problem.” Myers raised his eyebrows quizzically, and fought off the temptation to make the obvious snide response.

    “My wife, Stacy. She’s been abducted.”

    “Someone’s got your wife for ransom?”

    “Yes!” he hissed excitedly, pleased that he’d seemingly found someone who finally got it and might be able to help “...well, no. Not exactly.”

    “Whaddaya mean not exactly? Either she’s being ransomed or she’s not.”

    “Well... yes, they’ve taken her, but it’s not money they’re after.”

    Fred leaned closer, one eyebrow cocked, waiting to hear the explanation. “I’ve reason to believe that I’ve made the wrong business deal.” Fred’s interest was waning, but he struggled to listen on. “See I’m a broker on Wall Street. I make hundreds of big deals a day. It seems with one I’ve done something I shouldn’t. And it’s irritated someone pretty big in the criminal underworld.”

    “Pretty big? How big.”

    “Well, that’s the thing. It seems REALLY big. I’ve no idea what I’ve done or who I’ve bothered... but he’s calling himself The Kingpin.” Albright had accidentally raised his voice a little as he said his name, whilst he reached for a package beneath the table.

    “Ssssssssh!” Fred hissed. “Are you out of your mind? There’s not a man in this pub who wouldn’t off you just for the chance of getting in good with the Kingpin. Keep it down... Wait, what’s this?” Fred asked, pointing at the package.

    “This is why I came to you.” Albright said. He opened the package and removed a box and an envelope.

    “My wife.”

    “Huh.” Fred laughed, well she can’t be in the box. “What is this, her... BLOODY HELL...” Fred leaped to his feet. He gathered himself, calmly signalled to the barman. Settled himself and returned to the conversation, trying to be as nonchalant as possible under the circumstances.

    “That’s her—that’s her bloody toe?”

    “Bloody toes.” Albright whimpered. “And they sent these photographs too.”

    “Right... so what exactly do you want me to do about all this?”

    “Well-- Like I said, I make hundreds of deals a day. I know ONE of them has something to do with this, but I don’t know which. They’ve taken my—“ Albright steeled himself. “They’ve taken my wife – my everything – and I have no idea what to do to stop them from hurting her.”

    Fred had an idea where this was going, but said nothing.

    “So I’m desperate. I don’t know what to do to make whoever did this stop. I can’t go to the police, that will get her killed for sure. I’m running out of other options. A friend once mentioned you in passing as someone who can see people ‘taken care of’,” Again with the under the table air-quotes. “someone who might know some of the big underground figures. So I thought I’d find you.”

    Fred didn’t bat an eye.

    “Everything I have, to you. If you can kill this sonuva***** and bring my Stacy back to me.”

    Fred sat back, almost impressed. That was the closest thing to a backbone he’d shown since he’d walked in this place.

    “I don’t talk nitty-gritty in here. Logistics and operational talk gets done out back. Offshore account details and the like...”

    Fred got to his feet and directed himself to the door to the back alley behind the pub. Feeling confident he was finally beginning to see results, Nathan started to break into small talk.

    “So where exactly in Australia are you from, I’ve been making some deals for some beef imports?”

    Fred through the door open with an exaggerated arm movement, and held it open for the smaller man. Nathan Albright stepped through.

    “Ever heard of a little town called Andamooka?”

    Nathan’s feet rustled. He never found out why.

    “No. Where exactly is tha—“

    A bladed boomerang swept through the alleyway and cut deep into his neck. Nathan Albright dropped to his knees, right on top of a carefully laid tarpaulin.

    “Nah. Wouldn’t have thought so.” Fred replied.

    “Cheers, Jack.” Fred responded to the bartender.

    “Just you make sure you don’t forget about us when you’re a big shot...”

    Fred smiled. “Did I before?”

    Old Jack Barnes laughed and went back into the pub to make sure no one was pouring their own pints while he was gone.

    “I’m afraid I’m gonna have to turn your deal down, Wall Street.” Fred said, wrapping up the tarp.

    “’Everything you’ve got’ ain’t worth the ticket back to the show you just got me...”
     
  11. Andy C. Repent, Harlequin!

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    OSBORN



    "Dad, I just don't see why I have to come along with this," Harry Osborn said as he hurriedly changed out of his T-shirt-- some gaudy heavy-metal thing with the name STEGRON scrawled across the front-- and milled through his closet for a formal suit.

    Norman had finally been separated from the work at Oscorp to attend a charity gala, raising funds for the children of Hell's Kitchen. While he could never claim to have grown up poor, he knew what it was like to be denied a happy and supportive childhood.

    Besides, occasionally dropping six or seven figures for a noble cause was good for his personal image, to say nothing of how it reflected on the company. The higher confidence investors and customers had in Oscorp, the more comfortable they would be spending on it; he would make his generous donations back within the week.

    "Harry, it's just an appearance," Norman sighed, straightening his cuffs. "Right now Oscorp is under scrutiny, and the last thing I need for my image is to appear at a highly publicized event without my family with me. The media need to see that I'm not some stone-hearted captain of industry, but also a father."

    "....yeah, since when?" Harry muttered under his breath.

    "Excuse me?"

    "....nothing," the skinny, ginger-haired teenager shrunk.

    Norman shook his head, partially in frustration, partially in disappointment. Harry had been given every opportunity to excel-- private tutors and trainers, career guidance counselors and therapists available at a moment's notice, no expense spared on him from the day he was born-- and yet, here he was, undeveloped, unmotivated, and unappreciative of the silver platter on which the world had been handed to him.

    "Harry," he said, his tone shifting away from asking and more to command, "you're one heartbeat away from inheriting enough money that you and everyone you can even think of will be set for life. The least you can do in return is put on some nice clothes and hold the occasional polite conversation for an hour or so. Now get cleaned up-- I want you downstairs and ready to head out in ten minutes."

    "Yes, sir," his son said, dejected.

    Norman turned to head back to the master bedroom, then paused and looked over his shoulder.

    "It won't be that bad, I promise. Who knows? Maybe you'll be lucky, and that Hardy girl you've had your eye on lately will be there."

    Osborn returned to the master bedroom, grumbling to himself as he picked out his tie-- a sharp green to contrast the dark purple of his shirt-- and began to work it into a fiendishly difficult Eldrege knot. He found himself wishing, as he often did after talking with his son, that Emily were still alive. She was always the caring kind, and had a gift for softening Norman's hard edges. Emily saw people as people, rather than assets or as problems, like Norman did.

    ....but sadly, Emily was long gone, wasting away barely a year after their son had been born. All that was left was Norman and his hard edges, and Harry and his knot of problems that the genius industrialist had no idea how to approach.

    His outfit complete, his hair immaculate, and his tongue silvered and sharpened for conversation, Norman Osborn emerged from the master bedroom and down the stairs of his penthouse suite, to the foyer where his servant Bernard was waiting.

    "Looking forward to an evening off from the grind of industry, sir?" Bernard asked.

    "Quite the contrary, Bernard," Osborn corrected him. "Events like this might seem to be an amusing distraction for the idle rich, but there's always work to be done. One can never miss an opportunity to lubricate the gears of high society, to ease that 'grind' you mentioned. And considering the people who will be attending this gala, there will be no shortage of opportunities to seize."

    Lightly treading down the staircase came Harry, in the tailored Armani three-piece suit that Norman had gotten him for his birthday.

    "Okay, I'm ready to go, Dad," he said. "And, um, I'm sorry for how I acted a minute ago."

    Norman grinned, and reached out to brush some dust off of his son's jacket.

    "Don't apologize, son," he said. "I never do."
     
  12. Keyser Soze AW YEEEAH!

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    Wilson Fisk had arrived at the charity gala, and had spent much of his first half hour there standing by his wife's side, largely silent, occasionally nodding in faux agreement about some inane thing one of his wife's high society friends said. His attention was more focused on scanning the room and playing a game he enjoyed to play whenever in such gatherings of the rich and powerful.

    That Governor has an expensive cocaine habit.
    That actress killed someone in a hit-and-run when she was 23.
    That CEO hires a hooker to dress him up as a baby and let him call her "Mama."

    Fisk smiled to himself. These people were giants in their own worlds. Wealthy, complacent imbeciles wrapped up in patting themselves on the back for thinking about the little people for five minutes for once in their lives, before spending their evening of "charity" quaffing free champagne. But to him they were just flies caught in his web.

    Excusing himself, Wilson Fisk stepped outside onto the veranda at the back of the function hall. He lit himself a cigar and stared up at the night sky.
     
  13. Andy C. Repent, Harlequin!

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    "You know, they say those things will kill you," Norman Osborn said as he lit an Arturo Fuente Opus. "At least, as long as I don't produce a cure first."

    The gala was, as Norman expected, largely a bore of uselessly idle dilettantes and stuffed shirts, but there were opportunities to be found for someone who looked diligently enough.

    A warm smile and hearty handshake was all he needed to win over Cindy Shelton, a former vice president of the Roxxon Corporation who had left shortly before the merger. Adding her to the Oscorp family would provide a massive boost in investor confidence, since many saw her leaving Roxxon as one of the major factors of the late company's woes.

    A lively chat about the tragically waning influence of jazz in modern music had secured a favorable piece from Chris Baiocchi, a senior writer at the Daily Bugle. Of course, he had maintained a long-standing relationship with chief editor J. Jonah Jameson, but Norman often found the most effective write-ups came from gaining the trust of the people doing the actual writing, rather than depending on a mandate from above.

    After a few minutes over a round of cocktails, Senator Stern could be counted on to push for increased militarization of HAMMER, particularly when it came to advanced "genetic defense" against mutants-- a field of research in which Oscorp was unparalleled.

    Even Harry managed to play his part, attempting to chat up some young debutante from an old-money family that Norman couldn't be bothered to recall-- old money scarcely was scarcely motivated enough to really move. Still, regardless of the boy's success or failure in procuring an affair for the rest of the evening, he was at least creating a story for the tabloids, the "daring young romantic" out to charm the young ladies of New York.

    With the business of furthering the Osborn name and brand safely secured for the evening, Norman could focus on somewhat....less pleasant matters.

    "Mister Fisk," he said, extending his hand, "I believe my kitchen is stocked with ginger and wasabi shipped from your company. My chef makes a phenomenal karei no nitsuke with it."
     
  14. Shlee Sailor Jupiter

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    "You will find them, and you will return them to me. No cost is too high, Thanos. I will have them!"

    The Collector's face looked down upon the gathered few in the throne room of my adopted father's citadel-like spaceship, his usually nonplussed demeanor replaced with a livid ferocity as spittle flew from his lips.

    The image disappeared before Thanos even had a chance to respond. The smirk on his lips was all I needed to see to gauge his now-black mood.

    "Gamora."

    I knew better than to hesitate. Stepping forward on the dais, my face a calm mask to hide my anxiety at being called upon, I answered quickly, "Yes, Thanos."

    "It appears our... Friend has need of my services. And you have need of some way to test out the new presents I gave you."

    I almost winced, but merely looked down for a moment before responding. "Yes, Thanos."

    "You will help our friend recover what was taken from him... And remind him that he does not give orders to his betters," he commanded, waving a dismissive hand.

    Without hesitation, my chin high, I responded, "Yes, Thanos," before turning to leave.

    "And Gamora?"

    I stopped in my tracks, back rigid as sweat sprang out on my palms, and slowly turned on my heel to face the still-smirking visage of the man to whom I was told I owed my life. I felt my eyebrow lift just a fraction. "Yes, Thanos?" A question this time.

    "Do not fail me."

    I offered him a faint and sly smirk of my own. "Have I ever?" I asked, turning and taking a few brisk steps out the door, not waiting for an answer.
     
  15. Keyser Soze AW YEEEAH!

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    "Splendid," Fisk replied, "I myself am but a keen amateur, but have been told by those more gifted than I that I prepare a fomidable kaiseki."

    Acknowledging Osborn's extended hand, Fisk took it in his own massive paw. A casual observer might have compared it to an average adult hand taking hold of an infant's.

    "A pleasure to meet you at last, Mr. Osborn."

    Norman Osborn was a fascinating figure to Wilson Fisk. He was cut from a different cloth than most of the empty suits at this gala. It's not that he didn't have shady question marks in his past and whisperings of dirty deeds in his present, it's that, for Osborn, they weren't a weakness. As an idle experiment some years back, Fisk had a distant intermediary, only tangentially connected to his operation, attempt to blackmail Osborn over some matter involving vanishing male escorts. The intermediary was dredged from the Hudson River two days later. Osborn was not a man to buckle to threats, and so Fisk had thought it wiser not to make them. This was a man Fisk could see himself approaching as an ally down the line.

    "From what I gather, Oscorp continues to go from strength to strength. Your partnership with HAMMER seems to have been highly profitable."
     
  16. Keyser Soze AW YEEEAH!

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    (NOTE: This post takes place chronologically before Shlee's Gamora post)

    Star-Lord jumped into the Milano and flew it around the exterior of The Collector's space station, waiting for the sign. It came when a portion of the outer shell was torn away from the inside. The ship had a synthetic atmosphere in the immediate area surrounding it, so the breach was not an immediate danger to the people inside. But still, Quill wanted to move quickly. He drew the ship in close.

    "What took you so long!?"

    Inside, Rocket - naked as the day was long - had burst out of his containment, thanks to his cellmate.

    "I AM GROOT."

    There was Groot, alive and well. And he'd grown massive, his branches extending out through the confines of his cage and shattering the various other glass containment cells. And, thankfully, tearing out an escape route.

    He hadn't taken this job as a bounty hunter for The Collector. For Star-Lord, this job was a heist.

    It turned out that Rocket also knew Cosmo, and so Quill had used the talking space-dog as a mediator to set up this plan, which had come to him on his first visit to The Collector's menagerie. Why settle for a paltry fee for kidnapping one space raccoon and his talking tree friend when they could empty a vault filled with some of the most priceless valuables in the universe and split the proceeds three ways?

    But they couldn't just go in all guns blazing. All entrances to The Collector's treasured collection were absolutely impenetrable, security was absolute. From the outside. The Collector hadn't counted on anyone breaking out from the inside, since no one could bring any weapons with them. But Rocket didn't bring any weapons. He brought Groot. Rocket took a small cutting of his friend and swallowed him with some revitalising plant-food, ready to cough him up at the right moment and watch him grow. The plan had worked out beautifully.

    "Time's a-ticking, people. Grab as many goodies as you can find!"

    Star-Lord jetted down into the menagerie, lowering a couple of large crates down from the ship to fill with treasures. Quill, Groot and naked Rocket packed them with as many of the priceless artefacts in the collection as they could fit, then they raised the crates. Quill looked around with a smirk, seeing all the empty display cases. His smile faded as he started to look at all the full display cases, with various aliens locked inside, looking out with silent, pleading eyes.

    "Aw, hell..."

    Quill started bursting open the cages, letting out all the other prisoners.

    "Whoa, what are you doin'!?"

    "This ain't right, Rocket. I know I'm a thief an' all, but I've still got enough common decency to know that you don't put people in cages like this."

    Quill directed Groot to lift some of the rescued prisoners into the docked Milano, while he jetted some up directly himself. Before long, the Milano was filled to bursting, and there was not a single living soul left inside The Collector's menagerie.

    "So, where are we gonna put these putzes, huh?"

    These creatures were all either the last of their kind, or from species so rare that there was no easily-accessible homeworld to take them to. There was only one place to take them.

    "Knowhere. We're going to Knowhere."
     
  17. Carnage27 No one's puppet

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    [​IMG]

    The lights of New York ar gorgeous at night from up here. Millions of white, sparkling suns shift and swirl below me as I swing over the city as others go about their fun, Friday nights. Normally I'm not one for the nocturnal patrols, but Aunt May had a shift at the hospital, and Gwen had mandatory family time tonight, leaving me to fend for myself. And there's no better use of my time than kicking some criminal's cranium in, right?​

    Now if I could only find some.​

    It's unusually quite for a Friday night, so I perch myself on a skyscraper and just take the city in. It's something I did a lot when I first got my powers, but lately I seem to have gotten away from it. Shame too, considering this is why I do what I do. Sure, part of it is to make up my failure to Uncle Ben, but protecting New York is just as important as that. This is my city, and I'd never want or let anything bad happen to it. I'm the one looking out for New York, and I like having that responsibility. ​

    So far, most of the people agree with me as well. New York seems to have embraced Spider-Man, much to the chagrin of people like J. Jonah Jameson and HAMMER. I've seen Spidey t-shirts, lunchboxes, and, hell, I even saw some Spider-man underwear. Now, the thought of my face being used to cover someone's nether regions is a bit weird, but the sentiment is nice. I guess. Knowin I have these people behind me, however, is like nothing I've ever felt before. Even Flash Thompson is a Spider-man fan, and I didn't think that guy was capable of liking anything that wasn't him.​

    A string of flashing blue and red lights draws my attention from below. Sliding off the edge of the building I smile, "Boys, you're playing my song!"​

    Slinging some webs and following the trail, I come to a stop outside a downtown bank. Nothing looks much out of sorts, so I'm honestly a bit confused. Of course, that's when a chunk of the front wall explodes, sending large chunks of conrete flying towards the cops assembled in front of the building. Acting swiftly, I manage to web the cops out of the way, and the debris crashes harmlessly to the street. ​

    Positioning myself in the middle of the street between the building and the cops, I ready myself for whatever will come out of the building. What ends up emerging, however, is a bit of a surprise. Out steps a mand dressed in what looks like a body suit made from a red and yellow quilt. On each hand is some sort of odd device, and a large sack of money is slung over his left shoulder. He points his free hand at me, "Back off, insect!"​

    "God, you too with the 'insect' thing, Quilty!? C'mon, man! Arachnid! Arachnid!" I shake my head and fire webbing his way. As I do, my spider sense explodes, sending a warning through my entire body. It's far too late, though. I see the webbing get blasted aside by an unseen energy that promptly slams into me, sending me careening into the windshield of a polic cruiser behind me, "Oh...okay. That's new."

    "I warned you, Spider-man! Lay off! Don't try and find me!" Quilt-man yells as he charges his weapon again, discarging it into the building above, once again showering the street with debris, and escaping in the process.​

    "Now there's that guy," I sigh, swinging away from the police who move in and attempt to capture me. "Time for some research."


    **********​


    My eyelids droop as I continue to stare at the computer screen, attempting to figure out what the hell that guy used on me. One thing's for certain, it was some sort of powerful shock wave. It acted and felt like an explosion, but clearly there was no combustion. And the fact that he could control the direction was even more impressive.​

    "Who the hell are you..." I ponder as the front door swings open. I quickly close my laptop and rise to greet my aunt, "Hey Aunt May, how was work?"

    "Tiring. How was your night?" she smiled as she sat down on the couch next to me.​

    I shrug, "Uneventful. Everyone else was busy, so I stayed in. Did some homework. Watched some TV. Played some video games. The nerd trifecta."

    In the back of my mind I laugh at what I just said. "Everyone else was busy." Like I have anyone else other than Gwen.​

    "Sounds like a night I'd like to have," she smiles. "We were swamped. People got brought in from an attack on a downtown bank by some costumed guy."

    "Oh really?" I fein surprise.​

    "Him and Spider-man had it out but he got away, injuring quite a few people in the process," she shakes her head before looking at him with a worried expression. "You weren't there, right?"

    "Nope, here all night," I shake my head. I can tell she wants to tell me to stop taking pictures of Spider-man. Especially after what she saw tonight. I can imagine where she's coming from, too. The guilt of having lost Ben and then me to accidents would be too much for her. Attempting to reassure her, I give Aunt May a big hug, "Don't worry. I stay safe when I'm photographing him. Nothing will happen."

    "I sure hope not," she smiles. "Have a good night. I'm heading to bed. You should too."

    "Sure thing," I nod. "Just need to finish something up on my computer."

    Flipping the screen up, I get back to trying to figure out what the hell that guy was using. ​

    The Amazing Spider-man
    in
    ~System Shock~
     
  18. Keyser Soze AW YEEEAH!

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    Knowhere

    Star-Lord was not someone who got the chance to do good deeds all that often, but he couldn't deny that it felt good. Knowhere had about 20 new residents of varying species thanks to him. They were disoriented, alone, traumatised even... but they were free.

    And so long as they were on Knowhere they'd stay that way. As a scientific base of some repute, Knowhere was placed under protected status by the intergalactic community. Bounty hunters could not just sweep in and remove its residents like they might do on some small border planet. Taking someone who had claimed asylum in Knowhere was like snatching someone out of an embassy, in this case an embassy backed by some of the most advanced security systems in the cosmos. The Collector would not be replenishing his collection any time soon.

    Rocket had been reunited with his guns - and a fresh set of clothes - and he and Groot had gone their separate ways with their cut of the treasures. Quill had taken Rocket's contact details: who knew when he'd be in need of some good men for a job in the future? Quill himself had rested, refueled, and gathered supplies, and now was ready to depart. He knew of fences and dealers on various worlds who would pay top dollar for the stash of riches he had packed up in the Milano.

    Smiling to himself, he settled down in the pilot's chair - relishing the emptiness of the vessel after it had been jampacked with unexpected guests, but quietly missing the company - and hit the ignition. Then it was off into deep space for Star-Lord, untold wealth and notoriety laid out before him like a golden path.

    It feels so right,
    Being with you here tonight,
    Please, go all the way...
    Just hold me close,
    Don't ever let me go...​
     
  19. Shlee Sailor Jupiter

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    We'd received the transmission almost immediately from the Collector, so I knew whomever had done this hadn't been able to get far. After he'd calmed down a bit, a second message came in to be given to the hunter or hunters to take on the job.



    INCOMING TRANSMISSION | | |
    Wanted
    [​IMG]
    Name: Peter "Star-Lord" Quill
    Race: Human of Terra
    Sex: Male
    Known affiliations: Ravagers
    Spaceship: The Milano
    Last known location: Deep Space
    Reason For Warrant: One Peter Quill is charged with the destruction of a most valuable collection of the rarest items in the galaxy and the theft of items and persons from said collection.
    Bounty Reference No.: A17-041954
    END TRANSMISSION | | |


    "Star-Lord? More like biggest imbecile in the galaxy," I muttered, sneering in disgust as I made for my own small ship. I knew a kid that stupid wouldn't get very far at all. And it was almost obvious where the idiotic Ravager would have headed, carting a bunch of sentient cargo. This was too easy.


    ****************************************************​


    He'd gotten to Knowhere ahead of me. All of the sentient cargo had been off loaded onto the planet just as I got there, and there was no way I was going to risk my neck for last-remaining-members-of-their-species "collectibles" for Tivan. Especially since I'm almost positive he has some kind of agreement with Thanos about me. Ugh.

    I shuddered, shaking my head to clear it. 'Well,' I thought to myself, 'I may not be able to obtain the collectibles Tivan wants, but that doesn't mean I can't bring the stupid Ravager to justice. Gods only know I could use the cash.'

    "Alright, Gamora. Time to tag this delinquent." I waited for Quill's ship to clear the base itself and locked tracking on him. If he was thinking of going anywhere, I was damn well going to follow.
     
  20. Andy C. Repent, Harlequin!

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    OSBORN


    "I'll say this about government contracts," Norman said with a disparaging chuckle, "You'll never be starved for work. Not too long ago, it was the Russians pointing missiles our way. Then it was the Arabs, or cyber-attacks from the Chinese. Today, it's mutants. Washington is shaking in its boots that some unassuming nobody might walk into the Capitol Building and blow the whole place sky high..."

    Osborn took a puff from his cigar, and gestured with it.

    "....and what kind of patriotic citizen would I be if I didn't offer them some means of protection? It's my duty as an American to produce solutions to the complex and dangerous problems our country now faces."

    With his free hand, Norman reached into his pocket, pulling out his smartphone, and pulled up the day's homepage of the Daily Bugle.

    "Take, for instance, this 'Spider-Man' character," he said with a frown. "There's been all sorts of fuss about him, some mutant vigilante swinging around the streets below us. There are many who think of this young man as a hero, a life-saver even. But given the very delicate and complex nature of modern law enforcement, there are many others who would consider his actions.....disruptive."

    Osborn had to choose his words very carefully when talking to the large man in white. Even if Osborn was not already aware of Wilson Fisk's true reputation, the very presence of the man was that of someone that one did not want to show signs of weakness towards.

    While he had confidence that OsCorp had the technology and the means to apprehend Spider-Man for his purposes, what he needed was deniability. If too many signs pointed towards OsCorp, then the vigilante might grow suspicious, and an unwary target could become a dangerous enemy. If, on the other hand, the sinister "Kingpin of Crime" was on the hunt for the wall-crawler, then Osborn might have a much easier time getting what he needed.

    On the other hand, he had heard enough stories and rumors to know that the last thing he wanted to was to ask Wilson Fisk for a favor. Because asking a favor meant that Norman would be in his pocket. And that was absolutely out of the question.

    Still, given the nature of Fisk's enterprises, Osborn didn't necessarily need a favor done for him. Eventually Fisk would have to realize the threat to his operations that Spider-Man posed and target the vigilante himself.

    "Truly fascinating times in which we find ourselves living, aren't they?" Osborn mused, swiping between pictures of Spider-Man webbing up criminals and performing aerial maneuvers with superhuman agility. "I grew up reading stories about Captain America, but all of his grand adventures and battles took place on the other side of the world. Now we have an unknown, unpredictable super-hero right here in our own city. Certainly makes one think, no?"

    Osborn puffed from his cigar again, putting away his phone and looking out over the New York skyline.

    "Interesting times and interesting problems," he mused. "And it falls into the hands of we few, the captains of industry, to provide an uncertain world with the solutions."
     
  21. Keyser Soze AW YEEEAH!

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    Fisk's brow furrowed as he looked down at Osborn's smartphone in his hand, reading the headline about this masked "Spider-Man" figure. Did he have a connection with this mysterious "Devil" who had been causing trouble for some of his operations in the city?

    "Very interesting," he replied softly as Osborn put the phone away.

    "But today's front pages are tomorrow's garbage, as I'm sure you're well aware, Mr. Osborn. Masked vigilantes? It is a mere novelty. Captain America was a hero because he lived in a simpler time, but we do not live in an age of heroes. One man cannot right the wrongs of the whole world through force of will and a colorful costume alone. I wouldn't concern yourself with this... Spider-Man. Before long he'll either burn himself out and give up, or he'll get himself killed."

    Fisk took a puff on his cigar. If this "hero" decided to meddle in The Kingpin's operations, the latter scenario would be most likely. He'd seen angry citizens and wide-eyed idealists try to go outside the law to fight the system before in his time. They never lasted long. They were human like anybody else, and so could be either bought or terminated.

    "But masked crusaders like this are not born in a vacuum," Fisk continued, "They are an attempt to fill a void. America is in a dark time right now, still reeling from recession. And New York City is steadily being chipped away by a wave of crime. The streets are becoming less and less safe to walk through at night, and the under-funded police are increasingly ineffective. Can we blame some poor fool for trying to make a difference, no matter how futile a gesture that is?"

    Turning around to look out at the same New York skyline Osborn was staring at, Fisk at last got to the point he was interested in gauging Osborn's reaction to.

    "Those government contracts are lucrative, I'm sure, but does it not trouble you, sending some of the most advanced weaponry and defense technology in the world out to soldiers on the far-flung reaches of warzones on the other end of the globe, when there is a growing crisis on our own doorstep? If the public sector cannot provide a police force capable of stemming the tide of violence on our streets, it is up to those of us in the private sector with the resources to make a difference. Private armies, Mr. Osborn, in service not to countries and to distant political causes, but to corporations, and to the consumers of our own shores. If you ever choose to contribute your technology to such a cause, let me know, and I'll be more than happy to provide the manpower."
     
  22. Carnage27 No one's puppet

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    IC: Captain America

    "So is this normally this boring?" Falcon asked as the four members of the group rolled down the highway. The four managed to get out of Philadelphia quickly enough. The local authorities were busy attempting to round up the Fourth Reichers, and HAMMER didn't show up quick enough to even get a sniff of them. They were lucky this time, but luck never lasted.

    "No, usually it's more boring," Steph responded. "What's the next move?"

    "Something's come up," Fury said from the cab. "Sending you the details now."

    In the back half of the truck, Cap fired up the holoscreens and waited for the information to come across. Nearly instantly, a series of pictures flashed in front of the super soldier's face. "Batroc the Leaper? This guy could not have come up with a lamer name."

    "Dumb name, sure," Fury agreed. "But look at the rap sheet."

    "Terrorism, kidnapping, extortion, multiple murders, grand larceny," Sharon read off the charges. "This guy is an all-star."

    "So what are we going after him for?" Steph asked. "Sounds like this would be easy for HAMMER."

    "I'm not sure HAMMER would be against what he's done," Fury responded. "Him and his mercenary troop have stolen an experimental drug from a secret HAMMER facility. One that's been on lockdown for ages."

    "And what, pray tell, was in this facility," Steph inquired annoyed. She already knew she wasn't going to like the answer.

    "An experimental cure for human mutation," her mother answered her. "Unfortunately it didn't cure mutation so much as kill the host."

    "And they kept it around?" Sam growled.

    "Probably saw it as a last resort," Steph sneered. Disgusted wasn't a word she used to describe herself often, but this was one time it fit perfectly. "One last hurrah if humanity needed to get rid of the mutant menace."

    "You're probably right," Fury agreed. "I thought it had been destroyed, but a deep contact just gave me this heads up."

    "Well, we need to get this guy before he sells it or delivers it to his client," Cap decided. "Let's get moving."
     
  23. Carnage27 No one's puppet

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    IC: Spider-Man

    "New Costumed Criminal: Spider-Man's Partner? Oh come on, Triple J," I flip through the Daily Bugle as I make my way towards class, rolling my eyes at the headline of the paper. Jameson of course paints me in the most negative light possible. The guy can't help going after Spider-man. I'm not exactly sure what his problem with me is. Maybe he just sees attacking me as a good way to sell papers or something. It's also possible HAMMER is on his back telling him not to support me. I don't know. Luckily it hasn't affected the people's view of me. Not yet, anyway.

    Gwen slides up next to me, giving me a nudge with her shoulder, "Pretty crazy, huh? My dad said he was using some sort of controled force waves. How do you think he does that?"

    "Wish I knew," I mumble under my breath.

    "Huh?" she picks my head up from being buried in the paper.

    "Oh, just said I have no idea," I smile, stuffing the Bugle into my backpack. "It's a fascinating development if that's indeed what he's doing."

    My spider sense goes off as we walk through the front door of the school. I realize Flash Thompson is about to throw his abnormaly large arm over my shoulder and more than likely mess with my hair. I move out of the way, but intentionally trip and fall in order to keep up the guise of a hapless nerd.

    "Ha!" Flash bursts out with a laugh. "Parker, can you make this any easier for me!?"

    "Sure, Flash," I smile up at the football star, "tomorrow I'll come pre-wedgied."

    Gwen gives me her hand and helps me up, "Why do you tolerate his BS?"

    "Ah, Flash doesn't know any better," I shurg. "I mostly feel sorry for the guy."

    It's the truth, for the most part. Flash and I used to be great friends until his lifestyle of the atheltic and popular decided it wasn't acceptable. Ever since then he's been hard on me, but I feel like it's because he still feels like he doesn't belong where he is. Insecurity is a tough thing to deal with, and I can't blame the guy for desperately trying to keep his status.

    "Besides," I add, "he's not dating the prettiest girl in school."

    "Oh, really now?" she raises her eyebrows. "Kinda desperate to gain brownie points after looking like such an oaf, huh?"

    "I'm an oaf now, huh?" I shoot her a fake, dejected look.

    "Yea, but at least you're kinda cute."

    "Well, at least I got one thing going for me."

    **********​

    "You did well, Herman," the Big Man smiled at the man standing in front of him. "You're exploits made headlines. You stole quite a bit from the innocent people of New York, and while you did, my men stole quite a bit from my rivals in the crime world of the city without anyone having a clue."

    "Hey, they coulda paid me," Schultz shrugged. "You were the one who ponied up the cash. So you get the Shocker to tip the scales in your favor."

    "Indeed," the Big Man smiled widely again. "And paid you will be. Especially after your next target."

    "Tell me when, where, and how much," the Shocker replied, pulling his mask over his face.​
     
  24. Hound55 Byfar The Most Evil Thing

    Joined:
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    There’s a clear black sky over a Brooklyn Heights gated mansion. This is the home of Dean Martini - A hardened man, in a softened enclave. This Brooklyn Heights mansion is a far cry from the Bensonhurst brownstone he grew up in.

    Despite being less than ten miles away, it may as well be on a whole other world. Officers of the 84th precinct would even give him a heads up before a police presence would be felt two blocks around his home. Such is the respect he commands. A tall gate surrounds his mansion, but it’s not what surrounds his home, but what’s on it that is of interest.

    A small metallic boomerang with a line attached to it swings around a flag-pole.

    Fred Myers, carrying a heavy tarpaulin is winched to the top of the building by grapple line. He struggles on the roof with the heavy weight, but eventually pushes the tarpaulin on and pulls himself up. Panting heavily, he pulls a phone from his pocket and dials.

    “I’m there now. Don’t forget to wait on my signal.”

    “Are you sure this is a good idea? This isn’t going to get you killed?”

    Myers laughs. “Mate, they’d kill me if I walked through the front door. I can’t say they’re not gonna kill me--”

    “Well doesn’t that just fill me with bloody optimism, Blind...”

    “I can’t say they’re not gonna kill me. But if they’re gonna kill me, then they’re gonna do it. This isn’t gonna be the tipping point.” Fred reasoned.

    “Besides... when else am I gonna get a chance to do this?” he added, laughter in his voice. “Just remember to wait for the buzz.”

    “And if we don’t hear from you within 7 minutes then we go with Plan B.”

    “Right.”

    * * * * *

    The Italian-American family walked into the living room after an expensive night out. The husband and wife’s anniversary celebrated at the up-market Areo in Bay Ridge. The lady removed her fur coat and laid it across the sofa. Kissing her husband on the cheek and cooing that she would soon return after taking the kids to bed.

    Life was good.

    Dean Martini removed his cufflinks and pocketed them in his jacket pocket, hanging it on a hook and heading for refreshment in the kitchen...

    KA-RASH!

    Stunned, the gangster turned around just in time to see a bulky man-sized package crash through the skylight and crush the family’s gold leaf, glass top coffee table.

    “Who!? Who the hell dares --!”

    “G’day.” A dry drawl came in response from the sofa.
     
  25. Hound55 Byfar The Most Evil Thing

    Joined:
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    Martini rushed to a cabinet and pulled a piece. Two heavyset men burst through the front door with sidearms drawn.

    The man got to his feet and dusted bits of broken glass off of his shoulders... and onto Mrs Martini’s clearly squashed fur coat and the shattered remains of the lounge.

    “Deanie?!”

    “Stay up there!” the gangster barked.

    Fred Myers had seconds, if that, to turn this room. “I’m gonna need to see the Kingpin, Martini. He’s gonna want to see me.”

    “My house... where my children sleep...” Martini spat venomously.

    “There’s a present for him in the bag.” Myers pointed to the tarpaulin covered mass which had shattered his coffee table.

    “And what’s to stop me from just taking credit for the ‘present’ myself?” the Kingpin’s lieutenant snarled.

    “The fact that without my accompanying explanation, that package is everybody here’s death warrant.” A wry smirk crossed his face. He’d managed to get his whole story out, which was more than half the battle. Now it comes down to just how scared of this Kingpin, these men were.

    “Deanie?!”

    The mobster fired Myers a look that could have started a fire and then grimaced.

    “Take the kids and go hide in the panic room!” Martini called upstairs to his wife. He pulled a spare phone, one that saw significantly less use and punched in a number angrily.

    “Lower your damn weapons.” He spat at his men.

    “It’s me.” Martini uttered, making sure to adhere to their ‘No names’ policy. “There’s an issue. I need you to meet me at my house.” He waited for the response and then hung up.

    Myers smiled and put his right hand in his pocket.

    “You two will wait here and watch him until the car-- Hey! Get your hands out of your pocket! I know you, Myers!” Fred removed his hand, palm up. Martini glared at him.

    “ ...You will wait and watch him.”

    “LIKE A HAWK.” He spat through gritted teeth, underlining his point to Myers who yawned.

    “Until his car arrives.” He ordered his men. “At which point you will leave by the back door. You will not return until contacted. Under any conditions.”

    The buzzer went for the front gate. Startling Martini.

    “How is he already--?”

    “That’d be for me.”

    The door was opened and in walked two average looking men. One rather baby faced and slender, the other red-headed and stocky.

    “Causin’ trouble again, Blind?”

    “Well, you know me Old Jack.”

    “Bloody oath.”

    Fred Myers smiled. His friends walked across to the living room and saw the smashed coffee table and sofa.

    “Makin’ a bloody mess again?”

    “Bloody oath.” This time it was Myers turn to retort.

    The two newcomer Australians helped themselves to the sofa, putting their feet up on the remains of the coffee table, causing broken glass to drop onto the body that fell through the table and a vein to bulge and grow on Dean Martini’s forehead.

    “Boys, boys...” Fred started, picking up a small pile of squares from the dining table. The two men lifted their feet.

    “Use a coaster.” He flipped the squares perfectly across the room, centimetre-perfect, as the two men lowered their feet back onto the coasters balancing precariously on the metal edge of the table.

    “After all, we’re not bloody savages.” He smirked at Martini. “We’re guests...”
     

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