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Rise of Marvels: Year One -- IC Thread

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

  1. Byrd Man El Hombre Pájaro

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    "Another day, another costumed weirdo."

    More and more lately there were more of them across the country, New York especially. The city was like a homing beacon for all the weirdos and crazies. It was making business more complicated for the people who just wanted to make money the old fashioned way.

    "Was this costumed man all Silvermane talked to the cops about, or did he mention anything else?"
     
  2. Keyser Soze AW YEEEAH!

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    "Oh, no, old Silvio was in quite the talkative mood last night. He confessed to all his crimes stretching back to when he was just a young man in 1849, and this Daredevil character got it all on tape."

    A thin smirk played across The Kingpin's lips.

    "Inadmissable, of course. And he at least had the intelligence to leave out any reference to yours truly. Out of self-preservation, I'm sure, but also pride... he likes to maintain the illusion that being head of The Maggia still means you're top of the mountain in this city. It doesn't really matter, though. He's proved himself vulnerable, unreliable... and really, this has been on the cards for a while now..."

    The cigar was stubbed out.

    "He's got to go. It can't be done by anyone within The Maggia, or by a rival gang. I don't want to stir up unrest. No, I want someone I know is capable to handle it."

    Fisk didn't go quite as far as saying "someone I trust," but the look he gave Tracy Lawless told him that he was the man expected to do the killing.

    "It needs to look like natural causes. People won't question it too much, he's ancient. I've spent some time preparing for this, so I can reasonably sure that in The Maggia's ancient, conclave-like rituals for choosing a new replacement, they'll settle on Lonnie Lincoln. Of course, Lincoln is our man, has been from the beginning. Not someone I had to bend to my will like Manfredi. Tombstone should prove a much more dependable ambassador for The Maggia."

    Fisk eyed Lawless knowingly.

    "Yes... periodic change is good, don't you think? Keeps things fresh. Though somethings are meant to always stay just as they are."
     
  3. Byrd Man El Hombre Pájaro

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    Tracy did his damnedest to stay neutral, but he was sure the little vein in his neck that pulsed when he was angry was twitching. He coughed and instinctively rubbed his hand over the scar tissue just below his chin.

    "Agreed," he finally said, standing to leave. "I'll take care of Silvermane without a problem."

    Tracy started to leave, but stopped short of the door.

    "You know I was in Afghanistan a few years before I came back to the States. I was Special Forces, going through the mountains and working with the tribes to drive out the Taliban. There was one chieftain there I'll never forget. The guy he-- he lived like a king. Harem full of women, lived in a hut so decked out that it was that world's version of a palace. This chief, he was obsessed with keeping power. Any potential rival he killed. He even executed three of his sons because they were getting to the age where they would be a threat. We found him one day stabbed in the chest forty-five times. Turned out it was his wives that killed him. He was a bastard to them, all sixteen of them, and they made him pay. See, he was so obsessed with his little kingdom, so transfixed on ruling it and keeping any potential threats down, that he never even thought that the people he loved would hurt him like that. He could never comprehend that sometimes it's not about the power or the money... sometimes, you just want revenge and who gives a **** on what that costs."
     
  4. Keyser Soze AW YEEEAH!

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    Fisk sat back in his chair, a ghost of a smile playing on his lips. This was interesting.

    "Quite the story, brave women!" he replied, "Here's another one. Your father told me this one, way back in the day. He was on duty guarding the home of Don Rigoletto this one night, and heard strange noises coming from inside the house. He went in, and found Rigoletto on the floor, his face a deep purple, choking to death. He'd swallowed a chicken wing. A chicken wing! What an ignominious end for one of the most powerful crime lords on the East Coast!"

    The Kingpin stood up, pacing over to the window to look out at the city.

    "Now, Teeg hated the old man, would tell me all the time about how he'd love to just put a bullet in the back of his head and take over the whole operation. And now he didn't have to do anything. He just had to stand there, and watch. But no. He ran right over, barely hesitated, performed the Heimlich maneuver and saved Rigoletto's life. I asked him why he'd do that, why, when he had the chance to get rid of the man he hated for good?"

    Fisk gazed down at the city he now owned. Once it had been Don Rigoletto who was in charge, a lifetime ago. And in that time, Teeg Lawless held more seniority over Wilson, treated him like some dumb thug he could boss around. Fisk quietly took the orders, but never forgot when his time to take power came. Wilson Fisk was not one to forget slights and grievances. He nursed them, fed them, let them grow and mature... until they bore fruit.

    "He said he must not have hated Rigoletto as much as he thought he did. But see, he did hate him, but he liked what he had more. His comfortable life, the little operations and rackets he was allowed to have, the bubble of authority afforded to him. No one would ever mistake your father for a greatly intelligent man, Tracy, but he was just smart enough to know that some people just aren't cut out for greatness, and vengeance won't satisfy you much if you're dead. That's where your Afghan chieftain went wrong. It's the smart people you let close to you. Not the brave ones."

    Fisk raised his hand, as if remembering an interesting anecdote.

    "Oh, and do you want to know what your father had to say about you?"

    He turned to face Lawless, and his smile faded.

    "Nothing. Nothing at all. You can let yourself out. Just make sure to come back running when I call."
     
  5. Byrd Man El Hombre Pájaro

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    "Yes, sir."

    Tracy had his fists balled up in his coat pockets as he walked into the elevator and rode it back down the lobby. He cut odds while the security guys gave him his gun back. A solid even chance he could probably kill them easily with headshots and then ride the elevator back up to put Fisk out of his misery.

    But...

    He couldn't. Even with Fisk's blatant antagonism, he couldn't do it. Giving in to him would be too easy. It wasn't what he said about being too dumb or too unwilling to take control. No, it was because it would be just the type of revenge Fisk would expect. Dumb and head-on. If he wanted to destroy Fisk, really destroy him, he had to go the extra mile.

    "Take care, Tracy," Vanessa said with a smile as she headed for the elevator.

    Tracy tucked his piece back under his coat and let his thoughts drift on a potential plan to deal with Silvermane, as well as a much longer game to deal with the Kingpin.
     
  6. Keyser Soze AW YEEEAH!

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    The offices of Nelson & Murdock: Attorneys at Law are not exactly what you'd call bustling. On most days it's just the three of us - myself, my partner and former college roommate Franklin Nelson (Foggy to his friends) and our secretary, Karen Page - in a couple of rooms in Worldwide Plaza. The real estate is pretty desirable, I'll say that, a high-rise in West 50th Street, Manhattan. We have Foggy's very wealthy parents to thank for that. But everyone involved in the running of the place is determined that this won't just be a vanity project, that we'll be successful enough to thrive as a law firm on our own two feet.

    Of course, this rousing talk of commitment to my law firm would probably be more convincing if I wasn't staggering into the office at 10am with bruises on my face and feeling like roadkill. Last night I was carried on a surge of adrenaline and felt like a force of nature, but I'm feeling the effects of my hijinks this morning. Another downside of my heightened senses: pain is all the more acute. My nerve endings are on fire, and I can pinpoint the exact joints and muscles screaming with protest with my every step.

    "What the hell happened!?"

    The unconventional morning greeting came from Karen. She'd just entered my office just as I'd sat my weary bones down in my chair with a whimper. The smell of cocoa beans tells me she'd brought in some coffee for me, fresh from the pot.

    "You know, Karen, as soon as I wake up each morning, I look into the mirror and ask the exact same thing," I reply, "Well, the mirror is metaphorical. I'm blind. I'm probably looking at a wall, or staring out the window, frightening some old lady in the building across from me as I stand there talking to myself in my birthday suit..."

    "No, Matt, your face!" Karen interjects, angry, "I can see your eye's bruised under your glasses, and that's a nasty looking cut on your cheekbone. Did someone...?"

    "Mug me? No. It's a bit embarrassing... I fell down a flight of stairs, in my apartment building. I walk down those stairs every day, but this morning I guess I was in a hurry, and I put my foot down wrong, and... well..."

    My pretend sob story seemed to induce enough sympathy for Karen to grant me my coffee, which she gently sat in front of me.

    "Oh, Matt, you need to be careful," she said, an anxious tone in her voice, "You know I worry about you, living by yourself in a top floor apartment in Hell's Kitchen."

    "I'm fine, I like being independent," I answer back, "The more you depend on other people the easier it gets and the more you become a burden. I'm blind, but there's nothing wrong with the rest of my body. I'm not made of glass. I'm sure it looks worse than it is. Honestly, the thing I hurt most was my pride."

    "Well, okay. Just be careful, okay? Nice tie, by the way."

    "I'll take your word for it."

    Karen exited my office, and just a few moments later she was replaced by Foggy, flustered and out of breath as usual.

    "Matt, what time do you call this? I... what the hell happened!?"

    "Long story, Karen will fill you in. What's been happening?"

    "You need to head down to the NYPD Midtown South Precinct. They've got Andre Lewis in custody and he's asked to see his lawyer."

    Andre Lewis in trouble again? I thought we were past this. Andre is the son of Felix Lewis, a friend of my father's. They'd trained at the same gym, and he had ambitions of being a boxer just like Battlin' Jack Murdock. Felix was quite a bit younger than my dad, and so kinda looked up to him. The boxing career never happened for him, but he runs a small cafe in the city now, and has always kept in touch with me. His son Andre's 17 now. Basically a good kid, but he's got himself into trouble over the years. Started running with the wrong crowds a couple of years back, almost got kicked out of school. I agreed to help out pro bono as a favor to his dad when he got picked up on a misdemeanor charge. After that I encouraged him to get on the straight and narrow, which made his dad happy as I guess he wanted me to look out for Andre the way my father had looked out for him. Last I heard Andre was doing well for himself. Not good that he's slipped back into old habits.

    "Andre?" I ask with an exasperated sigh, "What's he done this time?"

    "Murder."

    The word hits me like a punch to the gut. Murder? This has to be a mistake. Andre's had his issues, sure, but he's no killer.

    "How?"

    "I don't know much," Foggy replied, "His dad's in a real state, the police won't let him see Andre. You're his counsel, they'll let you in."

    "Call Felix. Tell him I'm heading down there right now."
     
  7. Carnage27 No one's puppet

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    [​IMG]

    The chill in the air cuts through me as the wind in the city whips up, carrying the cheers of the student body as I sit with my camera on the sideline. The homecoming game is going well so far. Flash has already thrown for two touchdowns and rushed for another. I've got some great shots for the school paper, too. Though I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy taking pictures of myself more.

    Wait. That came out wrong.

    I turn up to the stands and search for Gwen. I see her hand peak out above the crowd and give me a wave. I reciprocate the gesture and get back to work. The dance is tomorrow night. It's all I keep thinking about, at least when I'm not beating criminals to a pulp with my bare hands. Nervous doesn't even begin to describe how I'm feeling, though Gwen seems to have gotten used to the idea. She's back to her regular motormouth self around me. That's good. At least one of us is ready for the life altering date of the century.

    "You never watched this much of the game," her voice surprises me from behind. I turn to find her standing right behind me. "Don't tell me you're really that nervous about tomorrow night."

    "Me? Nervous? No. Come on," I say in the least convincing way possible. "It's just, you know. Senior year homecoming. This is big for the school and us."

    "Yea, I'm sure Flash will love having some great pictures to send to college scouts," she laughs. "Come on up into the stands with me. You've taken enough pictures."

    Before I can answer, the police scanner receiver, which I'm wearing in my one ear, erupts with warnings. Something about a giant monster rampaging across Manhattan. I don't know what the heck they're talking about, but it's probably something I should take a look at.

    "Hold that thought," I say, taking my phone out like I have a text. "I gotta go. Bugle stuff!"

    Gwen's eyes narrow to slits as she shoots me a death stare, "Fine, Peter Parker. Enjoy taking photos of your superhero. I'll see you tomorrow I guess."

    Oh she used my full name. This is not good. But I can worry about that later.

    "Thanks! You're the best!" I yell back, already on my way to change.

    **********

    It doesn't take me long to find my target. The maniac's left a trail of destruction a mile wide heading towards Times Square. Cars are crushed like soda cans, the streets are ripped up like wrapping paper, and windows along the street are nearly all blown out. Whatever this thing is, it's got the kind of power I've never seen before.

    As I get closer to the source of destruction, citizens below flood the streets like extras in an old monster movie. Normally I'd make a joke about something like this, but I'm not in the mood after seeing what this guy did to my city.

    And that's when I spot him. The hulking grey figure tearing through Times Square is like nothing I've ever seen before. Standing at least eight to ten feet tall, the whacko is dressed like a giant rhino. I mean, true, I'm not one to talk, but come on. The only thing that proves to me he's also human is the face sticking out from beneath the horn.

    [​IMG]

    He rears up to attack a frightened group of onlookers when I fire a string of webbing across his face, "I think we're overcompensating with the size of the horn, no?"

    "SPIDER-MAN!" the beast of a man snarls as he rips the webbing off his face.

    "RHINO-MAN!" I retort, sarcastically. I know I have to get this guy away from the populated centers of town ASAP. The docks are the only place I know where I can fight him without endangering people. But the question is how to clear a path. I spot the flashing lights of a police cruiser in my peripheral and an idea pops into my head. Expending all the webbing I have in one cartridge to slow the Rhino down a bit, I use my other arm to swing towards the cops.

    "Hey guys," I say as I land on their hood, "I know we don't see eye-to-eye, but I need your help if we want to contain this guy."

    The two officers share an unsure look before one answers, "Fine. What do you need?"

    "Clear a way towards the water," I explain. "I need to get him out of a populate area."

    "You got it. We'll call it in."

    "You're the real heroes, boys," I thank them as I hop off the hood. I turn to find the Rhino nearly free from his webbed prison. I goad the Rhino towards me, ready to run as he chases me, "Hey big, grey, and completely hideous! Yea! You! You want to take me out? Come and chase me!"

    He rushes after me, and I use the one remaining web cartridge I have to draw him where I want him.
     
  8. Carnage27 No one's puppet

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    [​IMG]

    The Purifying Fire Sermon. Logan had listened to it countless times but it still angered him the same amount no matter how often he heard Reverend William Stryker's words ring through his head. This was where it all started, Logan figured. While he had never been able to connect Stryker to the Purifiers directly, the terrorist group had no doubt taken their name from his sermon. And they had been killing humans ever since.

    "You know, say what you will, but the guy has pizzazz!" Wade said as he came up from behind Logan and plopped down on the couch next to him. "Why don't we stay in tonight and watch a movie. Maybe cuddle a little bit."

    Logan grumbled as he stood up and finished putting his armor on. He couldn't be mad at Wade. Not really. He was how he was because of the same people Logan had dedicated his life to destroying. Wade was nothing more than an experiment to them. And now he was insane. While he wasn't born a mutant, Wilson was now one of them.

    "Are you ready?" Logan asked.

    "Guns? Check. Knives? Check. Sword? Check. Teleportation device? Check-a-roonie. Dashing good looks? You better believe it,"
    Wade looked at himself in the mirror.

    "And the others?"


    "I think Warpath was in the crapper, but Betsy was ready and raring to go," he shrugged.

    "Good. The briefing starts in five."

    **********

    "This," Forge said as an image appeared on the view screen in their safehouse, "is what we believe to be a main Purifier stronghold in Utah. It's a fairly standard compound, save for the heavily fortified building on the edge of the fenced area."

    "We're pretty sure it's a prison," Logan stands and addresses his team. "Or something worse. Whatever it is, I want to know. And if we can take a Purifier compound out in the process, it'll be doubly as sweet."

    "So what's the play?" James Proudstar, codename Warpath, asked.

    "You and I take the front," Logan said to James. "Psylocke and Deadpool take advantage of the distraction to deal with whatever's in that building. Understand?"

    "Works for me," Psylocke nods.

    "Sounds like fun on a bun!"

    "Get ready then," Logan commands. "Wheels up in fifteen."
     
  9. Hound55 Byfar The Most Evil Thing

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    At a familiar pub on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, the bar has been closed to the public. It’s manager and a close friend have shut up shop and are instead relaxing on the roof of the building.

    The perfect vantage point to watch over their handiwork from just a few hours earlier. Music from back home filling the air and the sound of sirens can be heard across the East River between tracks, accompanied by the licks of flame which can be seen in between the Two Bridges; cleansing a particular mansion in Brooklyn Heights.

    An old Cold Chisel song is carried on the nights’ chill from speakers which the bartender set up, connected to the jukebox down below.

    “I left my heart to the sappers round Khe Sanh,
    And my soul was sold with my cigarettes to the blackmarket man,
    I’ve had the Vietnam cold turkey
    From the ocean to the silver city
    And it’s only other vets could understand”

    The bartender sits in one of two fold-out picnic chairs, gazing out across the river. Just hours earlier he was a completely different man. He could have looked a man in the eye and honestly said he’d never been directly responsible for another’s death. He’d never carried dead children down a staircase. His friend had never said any of this would happen. But it was incredible just how fast things can change in the world they were now a part of.

    “What exactly have we got ourselves into?”

    “Hmm..?” Came the response.

    Fred Myers was standing behind a homemade barbecue grill they had set up on the roof, crudely constructed of cinder-blocks and a metal grate set over a burning barrel.

    “He killed Red.”

    “He did.” Myers returned with no emotional attachment.

    “But Red was a scumbag.” He continued. “You know he was sleeping with your missus?” A statement of fact that Fred knew Old Jack wasn’t aware of, the question being little more than the rising inflecton that often creeps into the Australian speech pattern.

    “What?”

    “Your missus. Red was rooting her. Not before you two split, either.”

    “You knew he was screwing Shelly and you didn’t say anything?”

    Fred Myers turned the various meat products on the grill with a set of tongs. “Yeah. I did.”

    “You… piece of…”

    “What would you have done if I’d told you?”

    The baby face of “Old Jack” turned darkly into a sneer as he spat his response through gritted teeth.

    “I’d have killed the bastard.”

    “Yeah. You would have...” Myers said, squeezing the excess juice out of a sausage with the tongs.

    “…and you’d have done it big. And you’d have done it messy. And you’d have been caught.”

    The bartender contemplated this response, before asking his own follow-up.

    “So you were going to kill him?”

    “Mate, I’ve been doing this for quite some time now. And you know what I’ve learned? The thing that’ll most likely get you caught in this world is taking s*** personal. If the cops connect a guy to me via a relationship of any kind, that puts a target on my head. I don’t really want that kind of attention. Hell, I’m a former professional athlete, how many people out there know this face? You think I can afford to be offing people for you?”

    Old Jack turned around and slid back into his chair.


    “So I worked across the country end to end,
    Tried to find a place to settle down, where my mixed up life could mend
    Held a job on an oil rig
    Flying choppers when I could
    But the nightlife nearly drove me round the bend”


    “No, I wasn’t going to kill him.”

    “…I was hoping someone else would do that for me sooner or later.”

    The bartender lurched back around.

    “I’m just sorry about the kind of s*** that I might’ve just got you into.”

    “So you knew he’d get killed?”

    The flames still licked away, as firefighters struggled with the blaze across the river.

    “If I knew he’d get killed I’d have left you here and not taken you with me.”

    “Eh?”

    “I had no idea that was coming. Even me. I’ve mixed around in this world for quite some time. I’ve never dealt with anyone with that kind of foresight. Those kind of resources. To put sharpshooters on the building in – what? Ten minutes? – before he made his appearance. I’d never seen any trace of him before tonight, heard stupid people mutter stupid things every now and then. But you know how that kind of stuff spreads. This guy has power. Real power.”

    “Well, good thing we’re with him then—“

    “You were both laughing.” Myers changed tack.

    “What?”

    “You were both laughing. You AND Red. I’m just trying to get you to understand the severity of our situation.”

    “And?”

    “And Red took the shot. I never even saw it coming. It could have just as easily been you. That’s what I’m saying. If I knew he’d get killed, I wouldn’t have brought you.”

    Old Jack suddenly realized what he was saying. Up until now he’d always viewed Myers as a safety. A screen that would allow him to play the game with a bunch of unsavoury types, who understood how things worked. Saw the angles and could protect him.

    “The only way we’re leaving this guy is in a bodybag, isn’t it?”

    Fred looked deep in thought, but refused to provide an answer.


    The pause was brutal, filled only by Jimmy Barnes’ lyrics, until Myers finally broke the maudlin tension with a question of his own.

    “Snag or steak?”

    “Well the last plane out of Sydney’s almost gone
    Yeah the last plane out of Sydney’s almost gone
    And it’s really got me worried
    I’m goin’ nowhere and I’m in a hurry
    And the last plane out of Sydney’s almost gone”


    * Khe Sanh, written by Don Walker
    Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group
     
    #84 Hound55, Nov 18, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2014
  10. Keyser Soze AW YEEEAH!

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    Do you want to know what desperation smells like? Head down to your local police station and take a walk through the holding cells. There's likely some urine and vomit in there, maybe some alcohol, but most of all it's sweat. That cold, feverish sweat that hangs under your clothes and clings all over you, the kind that comes from a night of no sleep with only your thoughts to keep you company. It hangs like a mist, rank on the tip of your tongue, that overbearing feeling of "Before everything was okay and I was free but now I'm in here and suddenly I can see a dark future opening up ahead of me."

    That's what I can smell and taste now, in the NYPD Midtown South Precinct, as I make my way into the interview room. The station seemed to be in a bit of chaos as I made my way in, something about a rhino on the loose in the city? Something escaped from the zoo, perhaps? I'll let animal control handle that one. Though I'm perfectly capable of making my own way through, I allow the police officer escorting me to lead me into the room and guide me into my chair. I hear the door close behind me, and sit in silence. I know I'm not alone in the room, but the young man sitting across from me isn't saying anything.

    "So, are you planning on saying anything, Andre, or are you just going to wait me out?"

    No answer. He's putting up a tough, silent front. But the perspiration and his beating heart tells me that he's frightened.

    "Okay, I'll talk then. An eyewitness has you fleeing from the scene of a murder last night. Businessman Thomas Strode was stabbed to death in Central Park at 11pm. At approximately 1:15am, police called at your father's house to question you, and you fled from the scene. You then handed yourself in to police custody earlier this morning. That all sound right to you?"

    Andre fidgets in his seat, the chair creaking petulantly. Still no answer.

    "Okay then, I'll just come straight out and ask the big question. Did you kill Thomas Strode?"

    "No!" Andre finally speaks, "Mr. Murdock, I swear, I didn't kill that guy. You gotta tell my dad I'm innocent, he knows that, right?"

    I listen intently to his heartbeat. It doesn't lie. Andre is telling the truth. He is innocent, though really, I didn't need my enhanced senses to tell me that. I've known Andre since he was a kid, I know he's not capable of murder.

    "Why did you run from the crime scene?"

    "I don't know, man, I panicked. I was scared, y'know?"

    "Fine, but why run from the cops? Do you know how bad that looks?"

    At that, Andre let out a derisive snort of a laugh.

    "Of course I ran. Don't you watch the news, Mr. Murdock? Cops see a black kid these days, they gonna shoot first and look for the gun later. I ain't gettin' shot, and no way I was gonna risk my pops gettin' shot either. Damn pigs. I knew they couldn't shoot me in the middle of their own station."

    I let out a long sigh of exasperation. Andre had the political convictions of a teenager who used too much Facebook. His heart in the right place, but no sense of how to use it. An attitude like this would make him a terrible witness on the stand. He was the kind of kid the right-wing news pundits would have a field day telling us was "no saint." But having said that, I absolutely believe that these were his genuine motivations. And it's a sad indictment of our police force if that's how much trust in them has been eroded by recent events.

    "Okay... okay... give me something, here, Andre. You ran away because you were scared. Why were you scared?"

    "I saw a dead guy, duh."

    "Did you see more than that? Did you get a look at who killed him?"

    A silent beat. Andre gulps, a sound to me that hits like a cymbal crash. Then he replies.

    "No, I didn't see nothin'. Sorry, it was dark, just saw the guy get stabbed, and... I ran."

    I smile, and nod.

    "It's okay. We've got time. We'll figure this out together..."

    And then the police officer was back in telling us our time was up. I conceal a groan as the police officer, trying to be helpful, tucks a clumsy arm under my shoulder and lifts me to my feet.

    "Mr. Murdock?"

    Standing at the door, I turn around in the direction of Andre's voice.

    "Yes, Andre?"

    "Can you find out when my dad can come visit me?"

    His voice cracks at the end of that sentence, and in a moment, all the adolescent bravado slips away and I recognise standing before me the little kid I've known all this time. He's scared, and I need to help him.

    "I'll get right on it, Andre, you have my word."

    There's that desperation smell again. The door closes, and I'm being led back out through the precinct. But one thing keeps on ringing through my mind. That last exchange before the guard came in. When Andre told me he didn't see who killed Thomas Strode. The heartbeat never lies.

    Andre was lying.
     
  11. Carnage27 No one's puppet

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    [​IMG]

    "Another mission, another escaped terrorist," Cap mused in the back of their mobile command truck. She sat staring at the cork board where she had constructed a web of her enemies. Well, she wanted it to be a web. So far the only connection she could make was Batroc's Brigade stealing the bomb from HAMMER, which was tennuous at best. She wanted to believe that HAMMER was responsible for the skirmish in San Fran, but outside of their non-action she had nothing to that effect.

    In a moment not familiar to her, she thought of how easy life must have been for her father. He knew who the good guys and the bad guys were. There was a line drawn in the sand, and everyone picked a side. There was no question where loyalties lay. What Steph wouldn't give for a fight like that.

    Instead she lived in the age where her actions were dissected by the 24 hour news cycle and talkng head pundits that didn't know a damn thing about the mission and fight she had undertaken. Most focused on the fact that she was a woman. They discussed what her role meant for feminism, equality, and the like. Many ridiculously questioned whether, as a female, she'd be able to get the job done. Some wondered if she wasn't trying to topple the government to install a super powered regime. It was all a bunch of BS she had no desire to deal with.

    But thinking about Steve Rogers was something new for Stephanie Carter. She had though about his mission, his legacy, and her place in it, but she had never really thought about the man. Maybe it was because he was nothing but a poster on a wall or a video from the history reels to her. Steve Rogers the man was nothing more to Steph than what he was to everyone across the globe: a symbole of justice. She wanted that for herself, sure, but thinking about what kind of man he was, and what kind of father he could have been was alien to her. Cap figured she didn't think about it because she didn't want to know. Captain Rogers passed down his abilities and mission to her, and that was it. He wasn't her father. Not really anyway.

    "We stopped a bomb from killing thousands," Fury responded. "We need to focus on the positives here."

    "And we at the very least know Batroc's on the playing field," Sharon added. "Now we can have our contacts on the lookout for him as well."

    "A lot of good that's done us with the Skull so far," Steph was annoyed. Her mother and Fury were spies, first and foremost. She wasn't. She didn't want to wait around while others did her work in the shadows. "I want to recruit more people to help us. Sam's been invaluable. There has to be others on your list, Fury."

    "Hey, I'm always ready for some more people to join the band," Sam smiled as he leaned back in his chair. "The more the merrier. Let's turn this baby into a party bus."

    "We're headed to meet with someone else," Fury said to them. "With how small our numbers our, we need tech to stay level on the playing field. And there's only one place we're going to get the tech we need."

    "And where's that, boss?" Falcon pondered.

    "Tony Stark, of course," Fury smiled.

    **********​

    Los Angeles, CA

    The approach towards Stark Industries' headquarters in the middle of downtown LA was like nothing Stephanie had ever seen before. The sweeping, curved sides of the tall, white tower that emerged from the beautiful park at street level was a fantastic testament to the Starks' forward thinking ideals. ​

    "Nick," a voice came over the truck's communications system as they approached, "I was wondering when you'd sneak up to my door."

    Fury sighed, and Cap could tell he wasn't happy he had been ID'ed so easily. Nick Fury was a man who loved the shadows, and he wanted to keep to them, "Stark, what did I tell you about contacting me?"

    "Relax, would you?" Tony Stark responded casually. "We're on the securest of the secure channels I got, and I'm the only one in the room. The boogeymen aren't going to hear us. Come back to my private entrance. I've told Happy to wave through the truck. You'll be able to pull into my garage and we'll talk."

    As the line goes dead, Cap asked, "Can we trust him?"

    "I'm taking you to him," Fury responded shortly. "You can trust me."

    "He is the military's primary contractor, Nick," Sam agreed. "It seems odd he'd help us."

    "Let him explain," Sharon tried to calm the younger members of the team. "He'll calm you down."

    **********

    After parking in the largest private garage with more sports cars than she had ever seen and traveling in the elevator which she was sure ran on magnets, Stephanie found herself in Tony Stark's private office and laboratory. The clean white of the space distorted by various parts that had been tossed aside and oil and grease smears on parts of the floor.

    In the middle of it all was Tony Stark, not exactly how Steph would have expected him. He wore a dirty t-shirt that was most likely white at one point before soaking up oil and sweat. On his hear were a par of welding goggles pushed up to the brow. He seemed older than she would have expected, as if being rich kept someone in their 40's young or something.

    "Well, well," he said as he wiped his hands with a shammy, "if it isn't Nick Fury's Merry Men...and Women. Don't want to be sexist. Lord knows I've gotten that thrown at me enough in my life."

    He shook Fury's hand happily before turning to Steph, "And you must be Nick's next best hope for world peace. Tony Stark. Pleasure to meet you."

    The man was confident, that much was certain. So much so that it came off as arrogance. It's not something Steph necessarily enjoyed in a person, "A pleasure, Mr. Stark."

    "Tony, please," he waved her away and shook the other two's hands. "Mr. Stark was my old man."

    "Tony," Sam began, "we were kind of wondering-"

    "Wondering why the military's primary contractor would go behind their backs to supply people they call radical dissidents? Yea, good question. Well, my old man-Who, by the way helped create what your old man became-believed that people were inherently good. I may not agree overall, but I do know what Nick's been doing is good, and what HAMMER's doing is bad. So here I am."


    "Works for me," Steph shrugged. "What do you have for us?"

    He smiled at that. Stark was clearly proud of his work, "For you, my star-spangled soldier, a pair of gauntlets. That fire miniature versions of your shield. They're not indestructible and they won't ricochet the same, but they give you another ranged option."

    He tossed one to Steph, who affixed it to her arm. Stark set up a target and explained, "So, all you have to do is flick your wrist down once to prime it, and a second time to fire. Each gauntlet has nine disks, and I can give you a belt to carry reloads."

    Steph fired one of the disks at the makeshift target. The hardened metal slammed into the target, shattering it. Cap was impressed, "Well, I have to admit that's impressive."

    "Everything I do is impressive," Stark said offhand. He walked over to a table with something covered by a sheet. "As for you, my winged friend," with a flourish, he pulled the sheet off, revealing a robotic bird underneath, "I present to you a robotic winged-scout. He'll listen to anything you say thanks to an addition I'll put on your suit. Some of the best AI I've done. I figure he'll be good for situations you can't scout due to fear of being seen. He has rudimentary offensive capabilities, but that's mostly to ensure he doesn't get captured. I call him Redwing."

    "That...is so cool," Sam smiled broadly.

    "I'm glad you like it," Stark smiled before getting serious and addressing Cap. "You carry not only your family legacy but mine as well. I believe in what you're doing. I hope you do as well."

    "You're damn right I do," Cap nodded.
     
  12. Carnage27 No one's puppet

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    "Steph," Cap's mother entered her room, "you're gonna want to see this."

    The four rogue agents were crashing at one of Fury's many safehouses that dotted the country, this time in the wilderness of Colorado. Steph usually hated the spartan quarters where Fury put them up, but this cabin was a thing of beauty. Hidden in the Rockies, the massive wooden structure was cozy and comforting. A fire was roaring in the main room, but the real commotion was coming from the TV hanging above the mantle. On it, fires raged and people with bandannas over their face rushed frantically around city streets. Cars were flipped, tear gas marred the image, and unintelligible chants filled the air. It was a scene of mass panic and chaos.

    "Where is it?" Steph asked, assuming that this was footage from some foreign country.

    "Austin," her mother responded quietly.

    That got her attention. All this craziness was running through one of the biggest cities in the country. She was all for a citizen's right to protest, but something bad happened here. Something had set something off in a powder keg. All Cap could manage to get out was, "Why?"

    "Austin has, surprisingly, been a hot bed for mutant rights for years," Fury's voice entered the conversation. "There was a pro-mutant rally today. Apparently things got out of hand, HAMMER showed up, and..."

    "And someone was killed," Steph finished his sentence. Funny how that always seemed to work. HAMMER showed up and someone was killed. "Who was it?"

    "College student," Fury said quietly. "Turns out she was a closeted mutant. HAMMER claims it was necessary."

    "Is that any surprise?" Captain America fought back the bile in her throat as she thought through the situation. HAMMER shows up at a pro mutant rally and a mutant student ends up dead. It wasn't necessarily in their playbook. At least they're usually not this overt with their ops. From Steph's experience they preferred to stay in the shadows with something like this. "But it certainly isn't their MO. Unless..."

    "Unless what?" Sam joined them.

    "Unless they want this unrest," Cap proposed.

    "Wanted it?" Sam scoffed at the idea. "They may hate mutants, but they don't want open revolt on their hands."

    "Don't they?" Fury picked up on what Cap was laying down. "If you incite the opposition, make them act with passion rather than patience, you make it easier to convince the masses that their kind need to be controlled."

    "Or wiped out," Sharon added.

    "What if after we stopped them in San Fran-"

    "We don't know they were behind that," Sharon warned.

    "But they were a part of the equation," Steph stood and rifled through her bag before taking out the hologram projector she had been using. She turned it on, and a virtual note board from her fight against HAMMER. "In fact they're the common thread through all our encounters. New York, Philadelphia, San Fran. They've always been there. But why?"

    "We need to connect them to the acts first," Fury pondered. "We'd need to get into their system."

    "You have an idea," Sam looked at Fury sideways.

    "I do," he nodded. "I have a few calls to make."

    The others left as Captain America stayed transfixed on the television. The people rioting through Austin were those that had been downtrodden and beaten down by fearful, ignorant people across the country. Yes, mutant powers could be dangerous. Yes, there were bad mutants. But the same could be said about every man across the world. This passion, this rage, was a by product. When you treat your citizens like an invading force, you have to expect some backlash.

    She just hoped the backlash wouldn't be the beginning of a war.

    "It only takes a spark to start a wildfire," Steph said to herself.
     
  13. sabetoonth Where You Get Those Eyes?

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    Turns out when you’re getting ready to go on a Norwegian cruise with someone it is a really good idea to ask them before making any other plans. Like the idiot I tend to be when I’m nervous I had done everything but ask Jane.
    Jane was just getting off work when I decided to suck it up and grow a pair. Bonus, no Darcy in sight. I, myself had already taken a day or so off so that I could get prepared to leave. I hesitated again. But what could be the worst thing to happen? She would say no? I could live with that, I was a grown man able to deal with rejection. So I took the fateful steps her way.

    And then there’s a Darcy.

    “Hey, Big Guy.” Im not that big, especially compared to some other people at the hospital so I have no idea why she calls me that. I try to not look bothered and keep moving. This time nothing is going t stop me.

    Except for Donald Blake. He’s the star surgeon of the hospital Blake seemed to have a similar idea to myself. In carrying it out he cuts me off ten feet from Jane as she’s on her way out the door. I can hear Darcy say something but I’m not listening. But her smacking my arm trying to get my attention is not what brought a sharp twisting t my guts. This is what hurts. Blake comes up behind her, he’s a big guy, he uses all his time wisely it appears as he is in terrific shape. His arm reaches around her shoulders and he walks around her, spinning her on her toes. She smiles, he grins. Maybe its the nasty green eyed demon that makes me want to knock it off his face. When their lips locked I wasn’t sure if it was better or worse than had she said ‘no’.

    I left that door behind me and made my way to the other entrance on the other side of the hospital. Darcy followed, calling after me. “Hey Jake!”

    I stop, turn around. She crosses her arms, drops them and then pats my arm. “C’mon, I’ll buy you a drink.” Well I didn’t have anything better to do.

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

    THE HAMMER, NEW YORK CITY. HALF AN HOUR LATER

    I put back the shot of whiskey and set the glass down on the bar with an audible sound. We aren't in that deep yet, but I think we might end up there. Darcy is a lot more fun that I thought she’d be. When she isn't being a mouthy intern she’s pretty cool. She’s still mouthy, but she’s cool. I try talking about other stuff, but she’s insistent we keep on track and devise a plan to get me alone with Jane so I can ask her. I only have another few days give or take before the boat leaves for Norway. I try to tell her I’ll be fine, that I don’t want to be that guy. The one who looks like he’s trying to break up a couple. Which I almost was, but that was before I knew about her and Blake.

    “No, they’re like new still, not even official, you could still sweep her off of her feet.” I shake my head. Convinced by my self that she’s just trying to make me feel better.

    “How new then?” What would be the hurt in playing along?

    “A month?” Darcy replies sheepishly trying to avoid eye contact, she takes a drink to try and summon up some bravery. “Listen. If you want her Fly Guy. Go get her. They were going to go eat at a restaurant on the edge of Central Park.” Fly Guy? Where does she get this stuff?

    “She’s with Blake.” Its not a fight I want. Even over Jane.

    “You could still go get the girl, Buddy.”

    “I think I’ll save that for the sequel.” Tonight is not a night where I feel like challenging the star quarterback for the lead cheerleader’s affections. I wave down the bartender and order a beer.

    “So Norway, huh?” Well at least its a subject change.

    “Yea. My friends thought I could do with a vacation.”

    “Couldn’t think of anyone but Doctor Foster to go with?” I answer with a shrug, I hadn’t even considered anyone else honestly.

    ------------------------------------------------
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    ASGARD, THE END OF THE VIKING AGE

    The halls of Asgard ere fill with the sounds of celebration. Give no mind that in Valhalla this was true every night, but tonight, with a great victory over an invading army of Frost Giants under Grundroth. With Thor, Loki and their friends at the forefront of the battle there was no other outcome. Volstagg sat with his wife and his children around one of the great tables telling the tale of the battle of Eiglophia. In this telling the giants were a thousand feet tall, and wielded mountains as weapons. Hogun sat nearby, alone but by choice, and Fandral likewise, but much less alone. The little smile on Hogun’s face as he watched the storytelling might terrify others. Hogun the Grim, with his morose demeanor and stone carved scowl was not known for cheer. Thor rose from his seat and passed on by them. As he walked from his seat to the door he saw Sif, mighty shield maiden, the greatest to Thor. He raised his horn to her with a smile. The goddess returned the gesture in equal measure. Oh yes. Tonight was to be a good night.

    Someone was missing from this feast, however. He deserved the celebration as much as the rest of them. Loki was likely holed up in his library reading his books, practicing his magic. As much as he loved the Laufeyson like a brother, he never understood his love of books over ale or women or any of the other vices enjoyed by the inhabitants of Asgard.

    Leaving the party behind he made his way to Loki’s library. In their youths Loki had been brought to Asgard as a political hostage, as part of the conditions of peace between Asgard and Laufey of Jotunheim. Asgard had been a kind place to grow up for Loki. He and Loki were raised like brothers and while he may not have been popular among most, The Thunderer loved him like they were blood. He found the door cracked, the light of a candle flickering from inside. Pushing open the door, Thor strode forward to Loki, whose form was hunched over the table reading. “Loki! We miss you at the banquet! The victory belongs to you as well.” The frost giant was silent. “Loki, do not ignore me! I come to drag you to fun!” He went to grab Loki by the shoulder but his hand passed right through him. A trick, but why? The mirth left him. He need not wonder long, as he left the library the horn blew. Their enemies were at the gates.
     

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