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The Ultimate Marvel RPG Vol. 2: New World IC Thread

I smile. "Guess I couldn't convince you that it's 'Megan Fox?'" I ask rhetorically. "'Jessica' will do, then."
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"Jessica." I say with a nod. "It's a nice name."

Last time she and I met was on top of a cross-Bronx bus, when she wasn't even sure of what kind of life she wanted to lead. Choosing a name, I guess, can be a step towards making that decision.

And then, like that, I step off of the rooftop, heading straight for the street.
 
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Chapter 18: Indecisive

The day slowly goes by as Tarantula runs on autopilot as he tries to decide his next move. Of course his own problems didn't hinder him from stopping a purse snatching. The thrill of smacking around a random thug helped ease his worry but it was a temporary leave.

Ok Anton, wow I'm actually starting to like the name, you gotta think this through. SHIELD is giving me all I need to survive. A roof over your head, food in your stomach, a surprisingly comfortable bed to pass out in, an extremely hot hottie to look at everyday. And all I have to do is be their little genetic mutation bounty hunter. On the other hand they want me to hunt down the one person that might actually give a **** about me. *sigh* Glad to see my life isn't complicated.

Anton's wandering eventually takes him to Times Square. Taking a seat on a comfortable corner of a "Mackerel Comics" billboard Anton sits perched like a statue watching the normals go about their lives. Against his better judgment Anton's mind wanders back to his inherited memories, memories that he never lived. On the street below any onlooker who would look up would think the young hero was simply part of the billboard. One person in particular knows better as he brings his finger to his ear.

"Target acquired. Hes' in Times Square."

Carol Danvers nods solemnly.

"Is he acting strange? Violent?"

"No Ma'am. Hes' just sitting there. Looks like hes' spaced out."

"Sounds like Tarantula. Observe him and check back if he so much as twitches."

"Yes Ma'am."

The comm goes dead leaving Danvers in the silent office. Crossing her arms across her chest she turns her attention back to the speaker sitting on her desk.

"Did you hear all the General?"

{Yes Danvers.}

"You still want to proceed with this?"

{The kid had his chance and he blew it. Now he has to accept the consequences. Bring him in.}

"Yes sir."

Reluctantly Danvers adjusts the frequency on her comm link than activates it.

"Anton."

{Yeah boss lady?}

"Return to the Triskelion immediately"
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Chapter 19: Betrayal

My mind goes through the many excuses I can make up ove my lack of finding Spider-Woman yet.

I'm sorry boss lady but I haven't found her yet. Why? Well this city is ****ing huge.

Nah that wouldn't work.

I'm sorry but I ran into Green Goblin and Doc Ock playing a game of ping pong and they needed to use my head as a replacement ball.

Could possibly work.

Sorry but Megan Fox and Black Cat needed my opinion underwear shopping and I couldn't pass up on such a nut-bustingly awesome opportunity. Though if you wanna come that'd be great.

I wish.

I take notice of the extra guards as I enter the Triskelion but I really don't think anything about it. Maybe Magneto threw down another anti-human threat. Agent Danvers is waiting for me in the level five briefing room when I finally arrive.

"Whats the prob boss? You know I can't hunt like this. A spider needs solitude."

Danvers expression doesn't change.

"Actually I wanted a report on your progress."

I simply shrug.

"I haven't I found her yet. I've been going to the place I figure she would go. What else can I say?"

Disappointment flashes across her face but quickly disappears.

"Well this says differently...."

Tapping a button on the small console static filled audio pours from the speakers hidden in the ceiling.

{Look She-Spider I don't want to hurt you and I won't but SHIELD has me over a barrel. If I didn't track you down Fury will send out the Spider Slayers. At least this way I could warn you, give you a chance to disappear.}

{Disappear? To Hell with that! I finally have a chance at a real life! I'm not giving that up for you, Spider-Slayers, or even Fury himself!}

Silence fills the room as I try to breath and kick start my brain.

Shame. She should've listened to you. Now we'll have to do this Fury's way."

"Carol please. I....I couldn't bring her into this. She deserves a normal life!"

{I decide what will be done with her life.}

The lagre view screen built into the wall flickers to life revealing Fury's ugly mug. Anger wells up in me as I glare at Fury.

"Who the **** are you to decide what we do with our lives!"

{The moment you genetic mistakes fell into my lap. I gave you both chances to do something with your lifes and you both threw it back into my face. Now it's time to pay. Take him!}

My spider sense blares like a bullhorn as Spider Slayers pour into the room their bodies giving off an electric hum that becomes deafening. My body is in motion before my mind can register taking me into the air already avoiding laser fire. My body contorts surprisingly well allowing me to dodge the increasing fire.

"FINE FURY! IF THIS IS WHAT YOU WANT THAN BRING IT ON!"

Dodging more fire I land ontop of a Spider Slayer and dig my fingers into his marble head.

"Herrraa!"

The head finally tears free causing the bot to go nuts firing wildly around the room. The frantic robot takes out serveral of his brethren before blowing a huge hole in the side of the Triskelion.

{No! Don't let him escape!}

"This isn't over Fury! I will be back."

Finally jumping of my temporary robotic ally I lunge out of the burning hole and into the warm afternoon air.

The sun is setting by the time I finally stop swinging. Finding myself in Queens my mind starts shifting to the places that I could possibly hide.

School? No.

Harry's old place? Maybe

Pete's place? Hell no.

MJ's? Not if I wanna keep all my limbs.

Finally settling on my only option I shift my swing heading for the only place around here that I could think of: the abandoned warehouse where my Uncle's killer hid.

After accidentally scaring the hell out of a poor bum I curl up into a cold, dry corner. I pull off my mask and let it drop to the floor.

"Oh god...."

Involuntary tears well up in my eyes as my head drops into my hands.

"What have I done."
 
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Tony Stark sat quietly in his Iron Man lab, examining footage from Osborn's press conference. Running a series of complicated computer algorithms, he was doing his best to analyze the facial structures of the people behind the masks. None of them were recognized. Like Batman in the BatCave, Tony sat before a plethora of monitors, in a fine turtleneck and suit coat, thinking to himself. He had won the battle in the media, that much was certain (he hoped). But, sitting in his office, late at night, staring down Norman Osborn's frozen face on his television monitor, there was only one question that stormed the gates of his mind: what was Norman Osborn's endgame?

It was a question that had been playing with Tony ever since Osborn had made his speech in front of the White House. It took bravado to make a speech on the very lawn one had once tried to destroy, Stark gave Osborn that much credit. He sat quietly, for at least an hour, gazing at the screens. His hand rested quietly under his chin, supporting his head.

Stark reached out, hoping to initiate another algorithm. Instead, he felt his neck suddenly tugged back, against the leather of his chair as a wire pulled his neck backwards. Stark choked as the garrote cut off his oxygen supple. Nothing like a late-evening assassination attempt to get the blood really flowing.

Placing his feet at the lip of his desk, Stark threw all of his weight backwards, sending the chair tumbling into the attacker. Both the man and the chair, with Stark in it, collapsed to the ground. He scrambled to his feet, coughing slightly. The attacker, too rose to his feet, and Stark felt his eyebrow arch.

The man who had tried to kill Tony Stark looked as unassuming as anyone. Just like another employee. Hell, he was evening wearing a suit that was almost as nice as that of Stark himself. Almost.

"How did you even get in here?" Stark hissed, asking the first question that came to his mind. He glanced over the goons shoulder, and saw half of his security servers, carelessly gutted.

"Ah." Tony said, straightening up, comprehension dawning on him. "Well that answers that question."

The attacker snapped his wrists, and a pair of knives burst from under his wrists, attached to some sort of mechanism. At this, Stark threw his arms up in annoyance. He wasn't taking the threat against his life as seriously as the assassin would like.

"WHY?" He roared, "Why must every, single, crazy bad guy who wants to kill me have a couple of knives that just deploy when he wants them to?"
 
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Fallen takes note of the jet hovering above him and also takes in the number of heartbeats within.

"Only three new arrivals? Wow you bunch must not have cared for Warren that much."

The light show coming off Dazzler was almost blinding and the air rippled from it's heat.

"If you've hurt him you monster I'll..."

"We're all monsters Alison."

"Oh shut up."

A shiver travels up Fallen's spine as an intangible hand goes into his back..

"Make one move and you'll lose something vital!"

The evil glint in Fallen's eyes tips off Logan.

"Kitty get the hell outta there!"

Fallen jerks forward the sudden movement causing Kitty's hand to go tangible. Blood splatters the roof as Fallen turns to face Kitty who is now holding a kidney and chunks of flesh in her hand.

"Nice try."

Before a shocked Kitty can react Fallen lashes out landing a crushing blow to the teenager's chin. Kitty reels back and falls to an unconscious heap at the Fallen's feet.
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"Kitty!"

Logan howls like a caged animal as he charges The Fallen clawing and tearing at his flesh. Blackish blood spills across the roof as the monstrosity's laughter fills the air.

"Stop it tickles."

Fallen's grinning turns murderous within a blink of an eye. Grabbing Logan's claws and exerting his strength The Fallen digs the adamanteum claws into their owner's chest. The claws slide easily between his metal-encased ribs piercing his lungs. The Fallen jerks his gaze toward the other X-men watching as they tense up, preparing for an attack, than suddenly calms down.

"The redhead....."

Looking back up to the jet he sees two figures levitating toward them.

"Hrmm."

He brings his attention back to Logan who struggles to breath.

"Now fuzzy wuzzy lets play alittle game. Are you gonna live long enough for your lungs to heal? Obviously for you that would be rather easy. So lets crank up the difficulty....."

With a sharp tug the claws dislodges themselves and starts to slide down. The sound of screeching metal fills the air as indestructible metal grinds against indestructible metal. Finally clearing the indestructible rig cage the claws dig deep into muscle cutting it like paper. For the first time in Logan's long life shocked fear crosses his face as his innard spill on the ground.

"LOGAN!"

"X-Men attack!"

Moving in formation the young mutants attack. Tossing Logan's motionless body off the roof Fallen focuses his attention to the major threat. Dodging Cyclops' optic blast Fallen focuses on the advancing forms of Gambit and Beast.

"I suggest you give us our compatriot you vicious abomination before we must retrieve him by force."

Beast lunges toward the Fallen aiming a kick for his head. Moving unnaturally fast Fallen snatches Hank's ankle. Using Beast's momentum Fallen slams his into a large air conditioner. Gambit bares his teeth bringing his staff to bare.

"Trus' me you jus' made da biggest mistake of yo life mona mi!"

"Shut it you cajun gnat!"

Grabbing a holed of the staff Fallen pushes it forward jabbing it into it's wielder's stomach. Gambit makes a large wheezing sound than drops to his knees. Before the young mutant can recover his own staff is broken against his back. Turning to the three remaining X-men The Fallen failed to notice a small lean figure creeping behind him.

SNAKT!

The thin claws go in like butter severing Fallen's spine in two places. Laura slowly kneels as Fallen's limp body follows.

"Ali fry this ****er!"

Ali unleashes a wave of searing light setting both bodies ablaze.
 
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"Kitty!"

Logan howls like a caged animal as he charges The Fallen clawing and tearing at his flesh. Blackish blood spills across the roof as the monstrosity's laughter fills the air.

"Stop it tickles."

Fallen's grinning turns murderous within a blink of an eye. Grabbing Logan's claws and exerting his strength The Fallen digs the adamanteum claws into their owner's chest. The claws slide easily between his metal-encased ribs piercing his lungs. The Fallen jerks his gaze toward the other X-men watching as they tense up, preparing for an attack, than suddenly calms down.

"The redhead....."

Looking back up to the jet he sees two figures levitating toward them.

"Hrmm."

He brings his attention back to Logan who struggles to breath.

"Now fuzzy wuzzy lets play alittle game. Are you gonna live long enough for your lungs to heal? Obviously for you that would be rather easy. So lets crank up the difficulty....."

With a sharp tug the claws dislodges themselves and starts to slide down. The sound of screeching metal fills the air as indestructible metal grinds against indestructible metal. Finally clearing the indestructible rig cage the claws dig deep into muscle cutting it like paper. For the first time in Logan's long life shocked fear crosses his face as his innard spill on the ground.

"LOGAN!"

"X-Men attack!"

Moving in formation the young mutants attack. Tossing Logan's motionless body off the roof Fallen focuses his attention to the major threat. Dodging Cyclops' optic blast Fallen focuses on the advancing forms of Gambit and Beast.

"I suggest you give us our compatriot you vicious abomination before we must retrieve him by force."

Beast lunges toward the Fallen aiming a kick for his head. Moving unnaturally fast Fallen snatches Hank's ankle. Using Beast's momentum Fallen slams his into a large air conditioner. Gambit bares his teeth bringing his staff to bare.

"Trus' me you jus' made da biggest mistake of yo life mona mi!"

"Shut it you cajun gnat!"

Grabbing a holed of the staff Fallen pushes it forward jabbing it into it's wielder's stomach. Gambit makes a large wheezing sound than drops to his knees. Before the young mutant can recover his own staff is broken against his back. Turning to the three remaining X-men The Fallen failed to notice a small lean figure creeping behind him.

SNAKT!

The thin claws go in like butter severing Fallen's spine in two places. Laura slowly kneels as Fallen's limp body follows.

"Ali fry this ****er!"

Ali unleashes a wave of searing light setting both bodies ablaze.
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The smell of burning flesh fills the air as two bodies burn before us. Ali's violent light show casting eerie shadows among the buildings around us.

"Ali enough! That girl!"

Ali's glare doesn't falter as she continues to to release burning energy.

"If shes' who Logan think she is she can take it."

A scream emerges from the burning bodies causing my stomach to cartwheel.

"Jean."

Jean raises a hand and twitches it slightly. Switfly the young girl is ripped from harms way leaving the Fallen to slump lifeless to the floor.

"Jean check on the girl."

Jean moves to the severely burned teen while move closer to Ali. Her determined glare is starting to falter effecting the intensity her light.

"Ali I think hes' dead...."

"No! He needs to be dust!"

"Ali theres' nothing but a crispy skeleton left. Just stop..."

Finally cutting off the assault the lights fade revealing a chard, smoking corpse. Blackened bone stands out among the burned flesh. Ali slowly advances on Fallen's body, her hands balled and crackling with energy.

"Wheres War."

Silence fills the air. Frustrated tears rolls down Ali's face.

"WHERE THE **** IS WAR!"

"Ali hes'......"

A dry crackling sound emits from The Fallen's charred lips. His mouth suddenly snaps open taking in an extremely jagged breath.

"You won't find him."

Charred eyelids tears open revealing dried and burst eyeballs. I push away the disgust for this creature and calm my voice.

"Give it up. Your finished and we'll make sure the cure will never be made. You might as well tell us where Warren is!"

A dry raspy laugh escapes Fallen's lips. Even now I could see his body starting to repair itself, his wing's charred frames already regrowing leathery skin.

"You think this is over? This is just beginning. You may have won the first skirmish but the fight is far from over. I must admit I'm going to take great pleasure in running the mutant race into the ground...."

I open my mouth to respond but a voice quickly cuts me off.

"Finish him Summers...."

Logan pulls himself over the edge of the roof and rolls onto his back. He gingerly places a hand on large scab bloody scab running down his stomach. Ali moves across the roof and places a hand on Logan's shoulder.

"You ok old man?"

"Eh a few cuts ain't gonna stop me darlin."

Logan's expression hardens as he looks back at Fallen's healing form.

"Finish him Summers. We'll find War faster without him jerking us around."

"We can't kill him Logan."

"Im no suggestin' bub. I'm tellin ya. Finish him off or I will!"

"And I'm telling you it's not happening! We'll take him to the Professor and..."

"Summers look out!"

I turn away from Logan and come face to face with Fallen. His still burned face twisted into a sneer. Without a word he rakes his claws across my chest.
 
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Stark ducked under the knives of the assailant who was bearing down upon him. More than a few times, Tony had to have combat training with S.H.I.E.L.D. agents and top-level instructors. Part of being an Ultimate was knowing how to, in the vernacular, kick a guy's ass up and down the sidewalk. Grunting, Stark snagged the man's wrists and twisted them, snapping some of the mechanical components of his device.

"While I've got you here..." Stark said, wrestling with the attacker, as the latter tried to free himself. "Care to tell me why you're trying to kill me?"

"No." The man snarled, delivering a swift knee to Stark's gut. As Stark doubled over, the man made and advance, and swiftly buried a knife into Stark's shoulder.

"You'll learn soon enough for yourself, don't worry."
He said through gritted teeth. "Everything's connected."

Stark staggered backwards. He felt his pulse slam angrily against the blade of the knife. He gripped the handle, breathed deep, and heaved it out of his arm. Tossing it aside, he stared down his opponent. The pair didn't know who should strike first.

Wheeling around in the moment of calm, Stark slammed on a button on a panel on his desk, and an automated chime rang through the sub-basement of the Triskelion, signaling that Stark's assistant had been notified of a security breach.

Stark twisted back to face the man, now wielding a single knife at the intrepid industrialist. Seizing his chance, the assailant lunged forward, leading with the arm which held his weapon. Blocking the blow with his forearm, Tony was able to deliver a hard right-hand blow to the goon's chin. He took his chance and, following his training at the hands of some of the most advanced martial artists in the world, delivered a swift knee to the man's stomach, followed by an elbow jammed into his throat. Stark spun, sending a backhand across the man's face.

The man, undeterred from the advancing attacks of Tony Stark, sent himself forward again, burying his knife into Stark's side. He twisted it with a sadistic grin on his face.

"Smile, you son of a *****." He spat, as blood trickled from the side of his mouth.

He fired his palm into Stark's jaw, wrenching the knife free and sending Tony careening back into his desk. With some sort of perverse pleasure, the man watched as Tony struggled to push his hunched frame up from his desk.

"Sorry, pal..." Stark muttered, through coughs and sputters of blood, as he opened a desk drawer and reached inside. "But, you just brought a knife to a gun fight."

Stark withdrew a Colt .45 from his desk and turned slowly. Something had taken the gunman by surprise, as he now wore a relatively perplexed look on his face.

"You won't do it."

"You don't know who you're dealing with." Tony said, bearing the gun down upon the man in his laboratory.

"Of course I do." The attacker said, flipping the knife in his hand. "Who do you think the leak inside of your company is?"

Tony's eyes narrowed. He had been played. The man in front of him was clearly a plant by Norman Osborn. Someone who could be used as an ace-in-the-hole by the maniacal madman whenever the game of "Ultimates vs. Thunderbolts" proved too boring. Sending a man to kill his adversary by means of a sneak attack, though? That was low; even for pond-scum like Norman Osborn.

BLAM.

Stark had pulled the trigger.

"Was." He corrected curtly.

The assassin's body slumped to the ground, dead from a shot to the torso. Stark tossed the gun onto his desk and glanced upwards. The doors to his lab were open, and Pepper Potts was making her way down the stairs.

"Ah." The billionaire muttered absently, nursing his wounded shoulder. "Glad you finally made it."

Pepper made her way to the gun on her employer's desk and picked it up, examining it in her hands. Her eyes shifted to Stark who was too busy with his shoulder and side to notice what she was doing.
BLAM.

Tony looked up, straight ahead at first. Then down to his side, where a pool of blood had slowly begun forming.
"Yes. Yes, I made it." Pepper told Stark aloud, disregarding the confused look on his face. "Unfortunately, I have to leave right away. Surely security will be on their way.'"

She tossed the gun to the ground, just out of reach of Stark as he fell to the floor.

"Freeing, isn't it?" She asked, examining the lab around her before glancing back at him. "That fear that comes before death? Don't worry. It will be over soon, I promise you that."

Pepper placed a hand atop her forehead."That was an unexpected move, Stark. Even for you."She said, nodding at the dead hitman, as the tone of her voice changed drastically. "I didn't know you had it in you to take a man's life."

She gripped the skin on top of her forehead and heaved upwards. Her flesh grew lifeless, her eyes hollow. A white figure was revealed beneath the false flesh, and he cricked his neck eerily. Glancing down at Tony, he showed his gleaming white teeth in a menacing grin.

"But I suppose a man can be expected to do anything when you push the right buttons."
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"Don't worry, Mr. Stark."
The man said, pulling an image-inducer off of his shoulder, revealing a finely tailored suit, "Your precious Pepper Potts will be joining you soon enough."

Tony coughed a few times as he tried to speak.

"Shh. Shh, shh, shh. Save your voice." The figure said, kneeling down beside Tony to pick up his gun. "Or... Let me save it for you."

He planted the barrel of the gun against the billionaire's Adam's apple.

"Au revior, Mr. Stark."

BLAM.

Chameleon flipped the lifeless body of Tony Stark over onto it's stomach with a careless shove with his foot. He turned a few lights on, revealing dozens of prototype armors.

"Like candy from a baby." He said with a snarl.

Tony Stark was dead. Not by way of a tumor, or cancer, but, rather, because of a bullet. Or, more accurately, because of two.
 
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I sit quietly on a gargoyle several stories above New York City. With a heave, I pick up the schoolbag I left here a few days ago. Inside is a watch, a bottle of water, and a spare science textbook. Removing the watch, I glance at the time. Still only 9:13 at night on a Friday, Aunt May won't expect me home for at least another hour. I lean back against the wall quietly and allow my head to fall back, resting it on the brick wall behind me. I'm sitting with my legs tucked tightly into my chest, simply looking out over the city. Involuntarily, I blink a few times, doing my best not to let the thoughts storming through my head get to me.

Like everyone else born on planet Earth, though, the instant I try to push something from my mind, it shoots itself right to the forefront of my brain. Seeing Spider-Woman in the city, at a place I think of as my own... it's unnerving. I've seen her at school, but she's literally a face in a crowd up there. Today, our eyes were only hidden from each other by a thin piece of reflective glass. I mean, God... she was right there. Right in front of me. My clone. The one question that's been on my mind since I saw her, though, is whether or not the world needs me anymore.

It's probably my own desire to lead a normal life, to have never have been bitten by that spider in the first place, that's making me want so desperately to give the spider-mantel to Jessica, as she's calling herself.

I feel my head sink, resting my forehead on my kneecaps.

Maybe I'm being a coward. Maybe the "power and responsibility" mantra was just a phase. Tony Stark, Captain America, hell... even Norman Loony-Toon Osborn. They're all people with faces. America and New York have learned to trust them. The time is coming where the spirits of New Yorkers won't be enough to keep me going. Norman Osborn, whether he knows it or not, has started a series of events that can't be stopped. What he's looking for, legality of heroes or, worse, illegality of them, could destroy everything Iron Man, Daredevil, and men like Charles Xavier have been working for. That's where I come into play.

I run my hand along the back of my head, reaching the bottom of my neck, and slowly pull off my mask. I pull my forehead up from the fetal position and stare at the vacant lenses of my mask. How did Nietzsche put it? "Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster, and if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you." The hollow eyes of the lifeless mask are validating that now more than ever.

I look up quickly, breaking my gaze with the mask. A breeze blows, tossing my hair around atop my head. I quickly bite my lower lip and glance up, shaking my head. Tears well in the bottoms of my eyes and I draw breath quickly. Sometimes, there are a few notes in a piece of music, or a line from a movie, or a smell from a store in Queens and, suddenly, everything comes flooding back. Sometimes it comes from nothing at all, and a sea of feeling just rushes across my head. The pain, the anger, the loss. All of it. The responsibility, the guilt, the anguish. In that instant, the realization that I don't have my Uncle Ben any more hits me. I'll never see him again, never hear his voice, never play catch. He'll never talk to his grandchildren, and it'll be my responsibility to ensure that they know about him. He won't see me graduate, get my doctorate, or accomplish anything again. He won't light up a room with his smile, won't lecture me about responsibility. He'll miss out on Spider-Man. This journey that I'm on... he's supposed to be on it with me, helping me, telling me what's right and what's wrong. And he's not. Because of me, he's not.

Two tears roll down my cheeks as I think. I close my eyes quickly and shake my head.

Like that, it's gone. The overbearing emotion, the harrowing emptiness in the pit of my stomach. Everything except one thing: longing. I look down at the streets again. Glancing up, I see that there aren't many clouds in the sky on this summer evening. It's humid, though, and that means rain one of these days. My eyes stay fixed on the sky and, for whatever reason, I speak.​

"Hi, God." I mutter, "It's me, Peter Parker. We haven't talked in a while. How've you been?"

No response.

"Good, good. How're the kids?"
I blink, waiting for an answer. "No way!" I exclaim enthusiastically, "He's playing ball already?"

I fidget with the mask in my hands, glancing down at it for a moment. Realizing that I'm avoiding the issue, I turn back to the sky.

"I guess I just wanted to ask if you could... I dunno. Tell me what I'm supposed to do."
Nothing. "Yeah. Yeah, that's what I figured."

"Say, do you think you could leave me alone for a while? Say, thirty or forty years? I mean, that's nothing in your time."
Silence. "Uh-huh. I thought not. Just kidding, God."

"Just kidding."
I say in a quiet tone, "But you knew that already, didn't you?"

I stand up quietly and pull the mask on again over my face. I web my backpack to the wall.

As much as I might not want to be Spider-Man, as much as I may love to stay with Mary Jane for every day of the week and just be a teenager, that's no longer an option. Sometimes there are things we do because we want to. Other times there are things we do because we need to. Then, there are the things we do because we were made to.

I fall off of the gargoyle.

THWIP!

Whether I like it or not, the world needs Spider-Man. Maybe indefinitely, maybe not. With great power, comes great responsibility.


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And someone has to be there to answer the call.

Might as well be me for a while longer.
 
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Chapter 19: Betrayal

My mind goes through the many excuses I can make up ove my lack of finding Spider-Woman yet.

I'm sorry boss lady but I haven't found her yet. Why? Well this city is ****ing huge.

Nah that wouldn't work.

I'm sorry but I ran into Green Goblin and Doc Ock playing a game of ping pong and they needed to use my head as a replacement ball.

Could possibly work.

Sorry but Megan Fox and Black Cat needed my opinion underwear shopping and I couldn't pass up on such a nut-bustingly awesome opportunity. Though if you wanna come that'd be great.

I wish.

I take notice of the extra guards as I enter the Triskelion but I really don't think anything about it. Maybe Magneto threw down another anti-human threat. Agent Danvers is waiting for me in the level five briefing room when I finally arrive.

"Whats the prob boss? You know I can't hunt like this. A spider needs solitude."

Danvers expression doesn't change.

"Actually I wanted a report on your progress."

I simply shrug.

"I haven't I found her yet. I've been going to the place I figure she would go. What else can I say?"

Disappointment flashes across her face but quickly disappears.

"Well this says differently...."

Tapping a button on the small console static filled audio pours from the speakers hidden in the ceiling.

{Look She-Spider I don't want to hurt you and I won't but SHIELD has me over a barrel. If I didn't track you down Fury will send out the Spider Slayers. At least this way I could warn you, give you a chance to disappear.}

{Disappear? To Hell with that! I finally have a chance at a real life! I'm not giving that up for you, Spider-Slayers, or even Fury himself!}

Silence fills the room as I try to breath and kick start my brain.

Shame. She should've listened to you. Now we'll have to do this Fury's way."

"Carol please. I....I couldn't bring her into this. She deserves a normal life!"

{I decide what will be done with her life.}

The lagre view screen built into the wall flickers to life revealing Fury's ugly mug. Anger wells up in me as I glare at Fury.

"Who the **** are you to decide what we do with our lives!"

{The moment you genetic mistakes fell into my lap. I gave you both chances to do something with your lifes and you both threw it back into my face. Now it's time to pay. Take him!}

My spider sense blares like a bullhorn as Spider Slayers pour into the room their bodies giving off an electric hum that becomes deafening. My body is in motion before my mind can register taking me into the air already avoiding laser fire. My body contorts surprisingly well allowing me to dodge the increasing fire.

"FINE FURY! IF THIS IS WHAT YOU WANT THAN BRING IT ON!"

Dodging more fire I land ontop of a Spider Slayer and dig my fingers into his marble head.

"Herrraa!"

The head finally tears free causing the bot to go nuts firing wildly around the room. The frantic robot takes out serveral of his brethren before blowing a huge hole in the side of the Triskelion.

{No! Don't let him escape!}

"This isn't over Fury! I will be back."

Finally jumping of my temporary robotic ally I lunge out of the burning hole and into the warm afternoon air.

The sun is setting by the time I finally stop swinging. Finding myself in Queens my mind starts shifting to the places that I could possibly hide.

School? No.

Harry's old place? Maybe

Pete's place? Hell no.

MJ's? Not if I wanna keep all my limbs.

Finally settling on my only option I shift my swing heading for the only place around here that I could think of: the abandoned warehouse where my Uncle's killer hid.

After accidentally scaring the hell out of a poor bum I curl up into a cold, dry corner. I pull off my mask and let it drop to the floor.

"Oh god...."

Involuntary tears well up in my eyes as my head drops into my hands.

"What have I done."
TarantulaBanner.jpg


Chapter 20: Fashion Choices

After my first terrifying attempt at dumpster diving I'm now in possession of a moldy old jacket and an equally moldy sandwich which I think might olive loaf but I'm nowhere near that desperate to find out. Trying to stifle a debilitating yawn I throw on the jacket in hopes of hiding my soon to be iconic costume. Trying not to think about the smell coming coming off the jacket I look down at the mask in my hand.

"Now lets see what could be more inconspicuous. A black featureless or an extremely hairy face and fangs?"

A loud clang echoes through the warehouse causing me to jump into the air and land on the wall ready for an attack. My sudden knee jerk reaction causes the bum to stumble a few steps. His eyes widen when he causes a glimpse of my face.

"AHH! MONSTER!!!!"

The bum bolts for the nearest exit. Taking a deep breath my eyes move back to where my mask fell.

"Alright mask it is...."

Meanwhile back at the Triskelion......

Carol Danvers stands in Fury's office as he looks out at the New York skyline.

"Whats the status on the search?"

"The Spider Slayers are out in force sir. NYPD and local news networks have been informed of the the situation and is already informing the public that there is nothing to fear."

"And the status of the search?"

"The slayers have found nothing yet. No sign of Tarantula or Spider Woman."

"Spider Woman I'm not concerned with. Sooner or later they'll find her. Tarantula is the one I'm concerned with."

"Knowing him the chances are good that he'll run to a place of comfort. Possibly Queens."

"You may be right."

"So shall I dispatch a battalion of Slayers to Queens?"

Fury shakes his head.

"No. Doing so may tip off Parker and I don't need his spastic self in my face just yet. Did you bring the agent I requested?"

Danvers nods and turns to a shadowed corner of the office.

"Hes' already here."

Fury finally turns and sees the slightest movement within the shadows.

"Good. I expect you already know the situation?"

The voice that emerges from the shadows sound cold and disturbing.

"Yes......"

"Than you already know how difficult this particular target will be? He won't go down without a fight."

The figure finally steps into the light revealing his features.

269672-107288-morbius.jpg


"No matter where he hides, no matter how hard he fights. The Midnight Sons will take him....."
 
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"Sir", the large man with the mohawk and tattoos saluted as he entered his general's room.

RedSkull-5.jpg


"At ease, Rumlow. Are we ready?"


"We're ready, Skull", Brock Rumlow answered.
Rumlow was easily six and a half feet tall, and had to weight close to two-hundred and fifty pounds of muscle. To the casual observer one would see the worn fatigues, white-laced boots, dirty white T, and the leather jacket and think he was just a run of the mill thug.
But Rumlow was a soldier. A soldier in the new war to take back the country, and trained in the skill necessary to do it.

He was the Skull's right hand man. His own Crossbones, as evident by the massive black and gray skull and crossbones pattern back tattoo Rumlow wore with pride.

"Very good", the Red Skull adjusted his uniform.
With a click of his boot heels, the Skull marched out of his room towards a small, well-lit den with a dozen small cameras trained at a single seat. In front of the seat, and behind the cameras, sat a table with an equal dozen of small monitors.

The Red Skull stood before the seat, and once more adjusted his uniform, making sure all was in order.

"We're good to go, sir", spoke the cameraman.

"Then I mustn't keep my commanders waiting. Start the broadcast."

"Ok, we're on in, five, four, three, two, one..."

The video monitors on the table suddenly flashed to life with the image of a dozen different men, each saluting their leader as he appeared before them.

"Gentlemen", the Red Skull saluted and then sat down.

"The day we have waited patiently for, for over five years now, has arrived. It's time we take back this country, and save it from the ethnic cancer that is eating away at it's core."

The Red Skull's eyes looked like white pools of hate sitting inside a black void as he leaned closer towards the cameras.

"It's time for the revolution to begin."
 
[YT]ZyJoVpL-Cl4[/YT]

The crowd erupted in one giant mosh of elbows and fists.
Crossbones screamed like a madman and jumped into the fray, knocking a big bastard with green hair's front teeth out.

The Red Skull, dressed in camo pants and jacket, white swastika T-shirt, and German army issued boots with perfectly white laces, leaned against the back wall with his mask on.

"It's funny the truth you can find in the lyrics", he said after taking a swig of his beer.

"I know, right", replied the petite girl standing next to him in camo pants and boots and a black Slayer T-shirt. Her red hair cut short and spiked up, the girl head banged along to the music.

The man Crossbones elbowed tried to swing on him, but Rumlow leaned out of the man's reach. Instantly, Crossbones smashed the tip of his steel-toed boot into the side of the man's kneecap.

Screaming along with the song, Crossbones kicked the man in the chest, sending him to the floor of the pit where others began to stomp him.

The Red Skull chuckled as he took another swig of his beer.

"So...you're him, right? The guy who's organized all the gangs? The Red Skull?"


The Skull turned and smiled devilishly at the girl.
"What gave it away?"

"Holy ****! This is ****ing awesome! What you're doing, man, is what's needed to be done for a long time now. Just nobody's had the balls or the brain to do it before."

"I'm happy to know you're a fan", the Skull said as his eyes slowly stalked her body from toe to head.

"I'm more than a fan. I practice what you preach", she said as she indicated several tattooed tear drops on both eyes. All the drops were either solid black in color, or brown.

"Do you now", the Skull turned his attention to her fully.
"Tell me, my dear. What is your name?"

"Allison, but everyone calls me Sin."

"A pleasure to meet you, Sin", the Skull said as he chugged down his beer and smashed the bottle on the concrete floor.

"Don't go anywhere"
, he grinned maniacally, "I'll be right back."

With a frenzied howl, the Red Skull dove into the mosh pit, elbows up and swinging.
 
THE GREEN GOBLIN

As I adjust the straps on my shield, I eye Loki curiously. He appears as relaxed and natural as ever, and I find myself wondering if he ever loses his cool. Then again, who would with powers like his? I can only imagine the things I would do if I could warp reality, toy with space and time. "Are you sure I shouldn't hold the conference?" I ask.

Loki smiles. "Don't you think the poor public's seen enough of your ugly mug?" he jokes jovially. He's examining his dark green suit in the mirror. For a Norse god, he has excellent taste in attire. "Besides," he begins with his back turned, "You couldn't tell the difference between Niflheim and Muspellheim."

I sneer. I recognize his tone. It's one I default to often. Condescension. He thinks I'm a fool because of my ignorance of Norse mythology. Granted, I truly believed that it was little more than mythology before being approached by Loki. He showed me his power, and a million possibilities popped into my head. Now, it's time to witness the fruits of our labor, and Loki is going to be in the spotlight.

"In any event, you and your merry band of men need to be waiting in the wings, anyway," he reminds me. "It's just easier this way." He notices the look in my eye. His smile widens. "Oh, dear Norman, you aren't feeling shunned, are you? It's just one little press conference."

I nod. He's right. I need to think of the bigger picture. My time in the spotlight will come soon enough. And - when it does - Fury's throat will be beneath the heel of my boot. Oh, it will be glorious.

***

"Welcome, welcome!" Loki announces grandly to the assembled crowd. I watch from beside the stage, knowing what I must have looked like. His beaming smile, his well-pressed suit. It all works to perfection. He leans over the podium casually and speaks into the microphone. "I'm glad you could join me today. I know you must be growing tired of these conferences."

Laughter. That's good. Loki has a receptive audience.

"Allow me to introduce myself." He stands up straighter. "I am Gunner Golmen. I'm a Norwegian scientist. I have been working intensively with a group of my peers on a very interesting case: Thor."

Loki shuffles his notes. It breaks up the speech nicely. I'm impressed. I knew Loki was charismatic, but this even surprises me. He's stringing them along better than I ever could. I shouldn't have doubted him.

After clearing his throat, Loki continues, "Like many of you, I refused to believe that this man could truly be the 'god' he claimed to be. As a scientist, the suggestion was preposterous." His smile falters. It's all planned. "However, my peers and I have no doubt now. Thor is exactly what he claims to be. He is truly a god."

Murmurs in the crowd. Thor's status has been a hotly-debated topic since his first appearance. In our largely monotheistic society, the concept of a race of gods is - as Loki said - preposterous. Many simply believed Thor was a lunatic. Loki even managed to convince Fury and the Ultimates of this. Now, before the world's media, he's speaking to the contrary.

"Nevertheless," Loki begins gravely, "This is not something to rejoice or marvel at. In our search for answers on Thor, my peers and I stumbled across some unsettling evidence. Being the scientists that we are, we couldn't help but poke around a bit more. What we found is, frankly, terrifying."

Loki scans the faces of the crowd. His ever-present smile has completely subsided. It has taken its place on my own face. Everything is coming together beautifully.

"Thor is not the only Asgardian," Loki explains simply. "He is merely the first to travel to our realm - Midgard, as they call it. And that journey is no random circumstance. It is no mistake. Thor is here for a reason."

Loki leans over the podium once more. This time, more seriously.

"General Nicholas Fury and SHIELD uncovered this purpose many months ago. As many of you noticed, Thor was absent from the Ultimates roster." The members of the crowd begin whispering. Thor's disappearance received surprisingly little coverage, but it didn't go unnoticed. "During that time, Thor was imprisoned in the Triskelion for the terrible truth that had been uncovered."

Loki's next pause has even me hanging on his every word - and I know what's coming.

"Thor is the beginning of an Asgardian invasion force."

The room erupts into barely hushed conversation. Cameras flash on Loki's joyless face. I know it must be hard for him to contain his excitement. Behind the stage, where I can't be seen, I'm smiling wider than I have in a long time. Loki coughs to try and quiet the crowd, but there's too much buzz. He elects to speak over them.

"While imprisoned, Thor was unable to contact his fellow Asgardians on their plane of existence," Loki states with a raised tone. The buzz doesn't die down much. Loki doesn't seem to care. He's accomplished what he needs to. "This led SHIELD and the Ultimates to believe that the threat had been avoided. In their zeal to prove themselves over the Thunderbolts, the Ultimates made the sorry mistake to free Thor. I fear the invasion may not be far away."

Loki stops and touches his earpiece.

"If you'll excuse me," he mutters into the microphone. He begins to walk off stage with a determined gait. It is an act that puts most modern actors to shame. He has played his part brilliantly. Once he's safe, far away from the cameras and microphones, he asks, "Are we ready?"

"Report," I growl into my microphone. The voices of the Thunderbolts enter my ear through my earpiece. They report that everything is ready. I nod to Loki. "Let's bury them."

Loki smiles. I can tell he's been holding it for a while. "As you wish." Loki immediately wipes the smile from his face and marches back to the podium. This time, the crowd does silence as he prepares to speak. "Ladies and gentlemen, I don't wish to alarm you, but I've just received word that portals are opening across New York."

Terror. Sheer, uncontrollable terror sweeps over the room. Reasonable adults are reduced to fearful children as they bustle about the room, wanting to do something but not knowing what. Loki glances once at me and winks. We've done it.

The doors to the auditorium burst open. Men dressed like ancient warriors storm through the crowd, echoing their battle cries. To the unsuspecting public, they must look like a terrifying force. I recognize them for what they are. Clones of the mutant Jamie Madrox, genetically modified by Beetle. They are enchanted through the combined efforts of Enchantress and Loki to appear as Asgardian warriors. Their faces and body types have been varied to create a veritable army.

The invasion has begun. And, as far as the world knows, Fury has been harboring the world's most dangerous terrorist. Who better to right this wrong than the Thunderbolts?

And, in the wake of our victory, we will pounce on a weakened world to reveal ourselves for what we really are.

And all Loki and I can do is smile.
 
Cyke3.jpg


The smell of burning flesh fills the air as two bodies burn before us. Ali's violent light show casting eerie shadows among the buildings around us.

"Ali enough! That girl!"

Ali's glare doesn't falter as she continues to to release burning energy.

"If shes' who Logan think she is she can take it."

A scream emerges from the burning bodies causing my stomach to cartwheel.

"Jean."

Jean raises a hand and twitches it slightly. Switfly the young girl is ripped from harms way leaving the Fallen to slump lifeless to the floor.

"Jean check on the girl."

Jean moves to the severely burned teen while move closer to Ali. Her determined glare is starting to falter effecting the intensity her light.

"Ali I think hes' dead...."

"No! He needs to be dust!"

"Ali theres' nothing but a crispy skeleton left. Just stop..."

Finally cutting off the assault the lights fade revealing a chard, smoking corpse. Blackened bone stands out among the burned flesh. Ali slowly advances on Fallen's body, her hands balled and crackling with energy.

"Wheres War."

Silence fills the air. Frustrated tears rolls down Ali's face.

"WHERE THE **** IS WAR!"

"Ali hes'......"

A dry crackling sound emits from The Fallen's charred lips. His mouth suddenly snaps open taking in an extremely jagged breath.

"You won't find him."

Charred eyelids tears open revealing dried and burst eyeballs. I push away the disgust for this creature and calm my voice.

"Give it up. Your finished and we'll make sure the cure will never be made. You might as well tell us where Warren is!"

A dry raspy laugh escapes Fallen's lips. Even now I could see his body starting to repair itself, his wing's charred frames already regrowing leathery skin.

"You think this is over? This is just beginning. You may have won the first skirmish but the fight is far from over. I must admit I'm going to take great pleasure in running the mutant race into the ground...."

I open my mouth to respond but a voice quickly cuts me off.

"Finish him Summers...."

Logan pulls himself over the edge of the roof and rolls onto his back. He gingerly places a hand on large scab bloody scab running down his stomach. Ali moves across the roof and places a hand on Logan's shoulder.

"You ok old man?"

"Eh a few cuts ain't gonna stop me darlin."

Logan's expression hardens as he looks back at Fallen's healing form.

"Finish him Summers. We'll find War faster without him jerking us around."

"We can't kill him Logan."

"Im no suggestin' bub. I'm tellin ya. Finish him off or I will!"

"And I'm telling you it's not happening! We'll take him to the Professor and..."

"Summers look out!"

I turn away from Logan and come face to face with Fallen. His still burned face twisted into a sneer. Without a word he rakes his claws across my chest.
Cyke3.jpg


New blood spills across the already bloody rooftop. Scott stumbles back from the blow grasping at his wounds in an attempt to apply pressure. Wolverine and Dazzler let out animalistic growls as they move toward the the charred body. Before either of the enraged mutants can reach their target the Fallen moves to the ledge and steps off.

"Dammit! Come on kid. We can get down to the street and finish this before he can recover."

"Logan!"

That single voice halts one of the most dangerous mutants in his tracks as Logan jerks his head toward Jean. Jean pushes down on Scott's chest applying all the pressure he can.

"We need to get Scott some help."

"Fine get em back to th' mansion. I don't need any help tracking The Fallen."

Ali shoots an angry glare at Logan.

"Like hell you do! You know you can't take him alone. Besides that bastard still has War!"

"Uh guys th' cops are comin'."

Police sirens howl proving Gambit right. Hank finally pulls himself free from the air conditioner unit and limps over to Jean's side. He quickly examines Scott's wounds.

"Logan we need to get him back to the mansion now. He's losing blood fast."

Logan opens his mouth but is quickly silenced by Professor Xavier's commanding thoughts.

<Henry is right Logan. Scott needs medical attention immediately.>

<But The Fallen.>

<Can wait. If he decides to pick up and move the research team working on the cure it would take time. Now get Scott into the jet and try to stabilize him. I'll prep the med bay.>

<Fine.>

Shooting one quick glance over his shoulder Logan can see the battered form of the Fallen limping into an alley.

"Alright you heard Chuck. Back to the mansion."

"Wha' bout her?"

The last bits of burned flesh fades from Laura's skin as she flinches away from Gambit. Gambit smiles as he halts his approach.

"Its' ok cher. Nobody gonna hurt ya."

Doubt passes through Logan's mind. He wasn't sure about this young girl but the evidence definitely points to Weapon X and Warren believed she was the real deal.

"We bring her with us."
 
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"People of Latveria. It is I, your esteemed ruler. I come to you with a very special message. Long have I watched as America's super powers tore themselves apart trying to gain a bigger piece of whatever drives them, wealth, nobility, status, power. The forces of 'good' and 'evil' have aligned themselves for a war that will potentially destroy them.

The Ultimates, The Thunderbolts, General Fury and Norman Osborn. They will fight and they will die. However, out of the ashes of said battle we shall rise, once the dust settles we shall be stood tall, this is our opportunity Latveria. Long has our country got by on it's own merit, flourished even in it's own splendor but now the war that is brewing in the United States threatens to take that all away from us.

What will you do about it? Will you simply let some detatched government agency determine the outcome that most of the world shall feel? Or are you going to join up and do something about it.

Ladies and Gentlemen... I give you the Latverian People's Army."


They say that that day the applause could be heard from miles around, the whole country showing their support of their wonderous leader, back from another world and with a shining vision of world peace.

I had come back from another world, another dimension to find America in turmoil. The balance of power is upset and with that comes weakness, a weakness I intend to exploit.

***

One week later.

"How many General?"
I ask of the man kneeling in front of me.

"Every of-age man in the country has signed up my Lord."

This was no surprise, we have grown too big as a nation to thrive for much longer on this small patch of land.

"Then the people have spoken."
I say with a wave of my metallica hand, a certain finality in my voice.

"Arm them, clothe them, feed them well."
I order. "I shall make the arrangements."

If I were to be honest with the man leading my forces It would chill him to the bone. The Latverian People's army as I have dubbed them are but the diversion. The real bulk of my forces lie in robotics. My royal guard has been expanded making an army two-thousand strong.

Two-thousand Doombots will march upon American soil. Like a swarm, a purge. Cleansing the filthiest remains of their decedant society and making way for our new world order.

It will be a sight long remembered.

"Rest well tonight General, tomorrow we take our place as the largest superpower in the world. Fury, Osborn, Richards, no matter who attempts to stop us we shall prevail."
 
T'Challa leaped from rooftop to rooftop across Hell's Kitchen as the muggy night breeze whistled around him. He had been in the states for just two weeks, but T'Challa was already familiar with the lay of the land.

He had made sure to study the area extensively on his journey to New York, as well as familiarize himself with the plethora of super-humans in the country, from the Ultimates to the Sinister Six.

It was what had taken up most of his time even upon reaching the states. Tonight was actually the first night T'Challa had been able to get out and feel the freedom of this concrete jungle first hand. He crouched on the side of the complex building, looking out into the night.
T'Challa closed his eyes, allowing his senses to take center stage.

He felt the temperature drop, alerting him to the coming rain...the smell coming from the fresh baked breads from the shop across the street tantalized his taste buds...the sound of a woman, crying for help a dozen or so blocks away.

T'Challa immediately went into action, racing across the rooftops like a hunting cat towards the sound of the imperiled innocent.

Rushing to the edge of the roof, T'Challa looked down to the street below to see a dozen men armored with medieval weaponry attack the horrified citizens below.

The Black Panther didn't hesitate as he dived down from the rooftop feet first, smashing into one of the warriors like a living missile.

The enemy dropped to the ground, unconscious, but two of his comrades came at T'Challa. The Panther flipped over the slashing blades and the two men, slashing at their faces with his claws as he passed over their heads.

The men dropped to their knees, screaming in pain as they clutched at their faces.
T'Challa ran to warrior who was about to kill a young woman, grabbing him by his head and snapping his neck.

"Get to safety", he commanded as he delivered a sidekick into the ribs of an attacking warrior.

"I will hold them off!"

The woman stood in shock as the Panther smashed the nose of one of the attackers with a palm strike, dropping him to his knees.

"GO", T'Challa roared as he slashed the prone warrior across his throat.

The woman ran away, trying desperately to get as far away from the insanity as possible.

Her scream sent chills down the Panther's spine. T'Challa spun around in time to see a warrior pull his axe from her skull.

The Panther roared, a bestial sound, and dove at the warriors. The Panther's claws sliced through his neck like a hot knife through butter, lopping it clean off the warrior's shoulders.

The Panther turned around in time to slash a would-be attack across his stomach before knocking him away with a head kick.

The Black Panther looked around him and his heart sank. The waves of armored warriors seemed to keep on coming, and innocent frightened people were being slaughtered in the streets around him.

T'Challa knew he'd likely share their fate, but he couldn't stand by and watch this massacre continue.
The Panther leaped back into battle, silently praying to his god that help would soon arrive.
 
-THWACK-

Harry Osborn was thrown into the crash mat for the third time in the last five minutes. He glared up at his instructor with hate-filled eyes. Clint Barton adjusted his sunglasses and wiped away an imaginary speck of dirt from his combat fatigues.

"Get up," he said imperiously.

"I can't do this," Osborn growled through gritted teeth, staying where he was sprawled on the mat. The boy had done surprisingly well so far, picking up the required weapons skills impressively fast. He'd taken a few basic courses in hand to hand combat, so Clint had decided to run him through a few...personal drills.

"I said, get up," Barton repeated dangerously quietly.

Harry sighed and pushed himself up onto his feet unsteadily. He swung a sloppy right hook, which Clint caught effortlessly. The older man twisted the boy's arm around behind his back and then booted him to the ground. Harry landed at an angle and grazed his head on the floor.

"I can't beat you," he hissed. Clint rolled his eyes.

"Quit angsting kid," he barked "I'm actually trying to do you a favour here,"

"How the **** is curb stomping me helpful?"

"I'm teaching you kid," Clint growled.

"And I don't need to know this," Harry shouted.

"What, because you can grow to Hulk size, armour-hide, orange guy? Why do you think I'm teaching you as a human, not steroid-man?"

"What the **** are you talking about you crazy old bastard?" Harry gasped.

"Because this is how they'll come for you. One day, once this **** is long over, you're going to piss Fury off somehow. Majorly. Maybe you'll just wear out your welcome in the illustrious halls of the Ultimates, god knows I am. Maybe it'll be a political thing, I can't pretend to understand them. But one day, as you pass some grassy knoll, they'll try and kill you. Christ, it may even be me," Clint said, pulling the youngest Ultimate up to face him.

"I'm teaching you because I like you kid. You're standing up to your crazy dad and that takes balls. So I'm giving you a chance. Hit me again," he deadpanned. This time the kid feinted first, pretending to go for the uppercut but trying to sweep his legs out from underneath him. Over the boy's shoulder, Clint saw a faint shimmering, before a fully kitted up, battle ready Asgardian warrior appeared in mid-air. Barton pulled the pistol that was strapped to his leg and shot the hulking behemoth three times in the skull.

Osborn looked like he'd messed himself.

"What the ****?" he gasped.

"Don't panic kid," Clint muttered, tapping the piece in his ear "Fury,"

"What d'you want Barton, we're busy here," Fury barked back.

"I've got a dead Asgardian in my lap. Is this happening everywhere?"

"All over New York," Fury said.

"Where's Stark?"

"Stark's...down,"

"Oh holy ****. Well get Cap out there, I'll take the kid and do damage control," Barton muttered.

"The Hospital. Black Widow's mobile. Try and get maximum press coverage as you save the world,"

"I'll do my best," Barton muttered as he grabbed his shotgun and bow from the rack on the wall.
 
Cyke3.jpg


New blood spills across the already bloody rooftop. Scott stumbles back from the blow grasping at his wounds in an attempt to apply pressure. Wolverine and Dazzler let out animalistic growls as they move toward the the charred body. Before either of the enraged mutants can reach their target the Fallen moves to the ledge and steps off.

"Dammit! Come on kid. We can get down to the street and finish this before he can recover."

"Logan!"

That single voice halts one of the most dangerous mutants in his tracks as Logan jerks his head toward Jean. Jean pushes down on Scott's chest applying all the pressure he can.

"We need to get Scott some help."

"Fine get em back to th' mansion. I don't need any help tracking The Fallen."

Ali shoots an angry glare at Logan.

"Like hell you do! You know you can't take him alone. Besides that bastard still has War!"

"Uh guys th' cops are comin'."

Police sirens howl proving Gambit right. Hank finally pulls himself free from the air conditioner unit and limps over to Jean's side. He quickly examines Scott's wounds.

"Logan we need to get him back to the mansion now. He's losing blood fast."

Logan opens his mouth but is quickly silenced by Professor Xavier's commanding thoughts.

<Henry is right Logan. Scott needs medical attention immediately.>

<But The Fallen.>

<Can wait. If he decides to pick up and move the research team working on the cure it would take time. Now get Scott into the jet and try to stabilize him. I'll prep the med bay.>

<Fine.>

Shooting one quick glance over his shoulder Logan can see the battered form of the Fallen limping into an alley.

"Alright you heard Chuck. Back to the mansion."

"Wha' bout her?"

The last bits of burned flesh fades from Laura's skin as she flinches away from Gambit. Gambit smiles as he halts his approach.

"Its' ok cher. Nobody gonna hurt ya."

Doubt passes through Logan's mind. He wasn't sure about this young girl but the evidence definitely points to Weapon X and Warren believed she was the real deal.

"We bring her with us."

I clamber to the front of the X-Jet as Jean places Summers down on a table with an emergency medical kit next to his limp body.

"Move it!" I yell back to the rest of the X-Men slowly coming in.

Hank moves swiftly up the jet and lands into the pilot seat, starting up the craft. I sit down in the co-pilot seat and look back as the group buckle up.

"Let's get this heap of junk moving Hank,before we completely lose track of The Fallen."

The blackbird glides off into the night sky, quietly but swiftly, heading in the direction of the Mansion. It doesn't take long to get to our destination and before I know it we're landing down below the Mansion. I'm the first one out, picking up Summers as I go. As I walk down the gangway with Summers, I see the familiar sight of Xavier rolling in.

"Thank you for your quick actions, Logan, even though it went against your previous wishes."

"Be happy you've got me, Chuck."

I head off with Jean and the Professor, still carrying Scott and enter the Medical Bay where I slip him down onto the table. I walk out to leave the two to prepare while I go up to the Observation Deck and join the rest of the team.

"Listen up. This is gonna be plain and simple, but I don't want to repeat myself. It seems all our fearless leaders are indisposed at the moment, but we still gotta act. Hank, Rogue and Bobby, you're with me. We're going after that runt. Storm, Ali, Kitty and Gambit, you're going to go find War. Take the new girl with you. You got it?"

I turn to Nightcrawler with a glare.

"You stay here and do anything the Professor needs you to. If you so much as leave this building you'll pay," I growl angrily.
 
brothersofafeather.jpg


Unspeakable anger seethes within the Fallen. Anger so strong that it's sheer presence causes the creature sharing this alley with him to scatter in fear. Finally stopping his slow progress Fallen leans against the alley wall allowing his damaged body time to heal. Behind him the police have arrived to cordoned off the area and question the few witnesses that saw anything of value.

"It seems..."

Fallen's gravelly voice slowly returns to normal as charred vocal chords repair themselves.

"...that plans are going to have to change."

The trash to his right suddenly shifts.

"Hey get the hell out of here! This is my spo......."

The bum's words are cut short as four razor-sharp claws flash forward cutting the bum's throat. Clutching at his throat the bum stumbles acouple steps before collapsing. Approaching the corpse the Fallen grins in grim satisfaction of his handy work.

"I don't think you'll be needing these anymore."

Minutes later a tall lean figure emerges from the alley. His blonde hair hides his features as he blends into New York's never ending crowd.

RING! RING!

Alice Stewart shifts in bed as she reaches blindly for her cell phone. Finally seizing the small vibrating device she places it her ear.

"Hello?"

"Alice."

Confusion moves across her face.

"Mr. Worthington?"

"Ofcourse. Listen I need you to schedule a press conference for this morning."

Alice moves her eyes to the glowing display on her alarm clock.

"Sir it's three o'clock in the morning. It's impossible to.."

"Get it done and I'll triple your salary."

Needless to say all traces of sleep is gone.

"Con...consider it done sir."

"Good. Also get someone to assess the damage to my penthouse. Last nights party got alittle....out of hand."

"I'll get on it right now sir."

The Fallen silently closes the "borrowed" cellphone and tosses it onto it's owners body.

"Now for the other piece of business."
 
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I prepare myself over the open gangway of the X-Jet as we fly over the city. I light up a cigar and puff at it before turning to Hank at the wheel.

"This is the rough area of War's penthouse! Slow down here!"

Hank doesn't even have to turn to me as I watch the City slow down beneath me.

"Bobby! You're going to ice down there and meet me in the alley down by his penthouse! Hank and Rogue, I need you to look around the usual places where we can expect to find The Fallen."

After three nods, I throw on the parachute I had perched next to me and run down the gangway, before leaping out at the end, spreading my body out. I close my eyes as the wind blows against my face feriously. Slowly I open my eyes and look down at the incoming City, trying to spot any signs of The Fallen. Quickly, I pull the cord on my parachute and my descent slows down rapidly, as I slowly glide down into an alleyway, dropping down onto my feet. I struggle out of the parachute and throw it aside before looking up into the sky, watching Bobby come down on a path of ice. I look around the sight of the dark alley, trying to avoid the sight of any of the patrolling cops. As Bobby drops down into the alley next to me, I smell the ground warily and grimace.

"No scent. Keep looking."
 
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brothersofafeather.jpg


Unspeakable anger seethes within the Fallen. Anger so strong that it's sheer presence causes the creature sharing this alley with him to scatter in fear. Finally stopping his slow progress Fallen leans against the alley wall allowing his damaged body time to heal. Behind him the police have arrived to cordoned off the area and question the few witnesses that saw anything of value.

"It seems..."

Fallen's gravelly voice slowly returns to normal as charred vocal chords repair themselves.

"...that plans are going to have to change."

The trash to his right suddenly shifts.

"Hey get the hell out of here! This is my spo......."

The bum's words are cut short as four razor-sharp claws flash forward cutting the bum's throat. Clutching at his throat the bum stumbles acouple steps before collapsing. Approaching the corpse the Fallen grins in grim satisfaction of his handy work.

"I don't think you'll be needing these anymore."

Minutes later a tall lean figure emerges from the alley. His blonde hair hides his features as he blends into New York's never ending crowd.

RING! RING!

Alice Stewart shifts in bed as she reaches blindly for her cell phone. Finally seizing the small vibrating device she places it her ear.

"Hello?"

"Alice."

Confusion moves across her face.

"Mr. Worthington?"

"Ofcourse. Listen I need you to schedule a press conference for this morning."

Alice moves her eyes to the glowing display on her alarm clock.

"Sir it's three o'clock in the morning. It's impossible to.."

"Get it done and I'll triple your salary."

Needless to say all traces of sleep is gone.

"Con...consider it done sir."

"Good. Also get someone to assess the damage to my penthouse. Last nights party got alittle....out of hand."

"I'll get on it right now sir."

The Fallen silently closes the "borrowed" cellphone and tosses it onto it's owners body.

"Now for the other piece of business."
brothersofafeather.jpg


Warren's shivering has become alarmingly intense. It's been over an hour since he lost the feeling in his toes and the numbness is starting to spread. He tries to fight but the urge to slowly drift away is getting harder to overcome.

Come on Warren fight this! You need to stay live.

Warren tries laughing at the irony of the situation, that for the first time in months he actually wants to live, but all that comes out is the weakest of gasps. Light suddenly floods into the the freezer shaking Warren's fading consciousness. Trying to force his eyes to focus Warren already knows who it is.

"Ah your still alive. Good. Please don't get up."

Even in his disabled state rage still floods Warren's mind.

"I'll.....I'll...."

"Kill me, skin me, tear me limb from limb. I know I've heard this all before dear brother. But for the first time in our time together I actually have need of you."

Moving with arrogant confidence The Fallen steps into the large medical freezer and moves toward the chained mutant.

"You see little brother. Your gonna be my little guinea pig. Your gonna get a taste of what I had to go though my whole life."

Silence settles in the cold room as Angel seems to stare through his brother, his eyes hardly focusing. The Fallen's false grin disappears as he strikes his brothers face.

"ARE YOU LISTENING TO ME!"

Just as fast as it left the false grin returns.

"You know..... Alison remembers."

Fallen's grin becomes genuine when he sees light return to Angel's eyes.

"Oh yeah she remembers everything. Even what shes done with the elf. I must admit the look on her face when I told her you were dead was ****ing priceless."

Warren tries with all of his heart to get his voice to work, to unleash the rage that was steadily growing inside him.

"Aw don't be angry little brother. I promise you'll see sweet little Alison again before you die. Well pieces of her atleast......"

The syringe plunges into Warren's neck and everything goes black.
 
A large hovercraft, one larger than the behemoths deployed by SHIELD, loomed over New York City. It stopped above Times Square as the giant television screens crackled and a picture appeared.

"Citizens of New York." Boomed the deep commanding voice of Doom. "My name is Victor Van Damme, I have been made aware of your plight and am willing to save you all." As Doom spoke, several hatches appeared from the underbelly of the enormous craft and out flew metallica humanoid shapes.

Using thrusters embedded into their exoskeleton the 'Doombots' landed calmly on the streets and begun battling the fake Asgardian army.
"My army shall hold off your attackers, please, attempt to make your way to central park where we can attend to your wounds and evacuate as many as my craft can hold. Just remember it was Victor Van Damme that saved you here today, not the Ultimates, not Osborn. Please, hurry, I shall meet you all there." With that, Doom was gone from Times Square's screens and the large ship overhead headed to central park.

Doom turned his back on the camera that was broadcasting his message and faced the pilot of his mammoth ship.

"Pilot, prepare to our medical bays and holding areas. We're about to pick up a few thousand guests."
 
Clint Barton bounced along in the jet black hummer that he'd commandeered off of some SHIELD flunky. Harry Osborn was sat next to him in a suit, pistol looking oddly out of place with his playboy demenour, a tech agent with a laptop sitting next to him. A junior agent was manning the machine gun on the top of the car, whilst another was driving. The armed forces were mobilising by the second, and the SHIELD strike teams were already out in force. Clint sat with a map of the New York area spread over his knees and some coloured pens, quickly marking up certain areas in the city. The hummer was speeding across the twin bridges towards the main Asgardian army when Barton signalled the driver to stop.

"D'you hear that?" he asked the driver, before sticking his head out of the window and looking up in the sky.

"Holy ****, is that a Hellicarrier?" Osborn asked from the back seat.

"That's no hellicarrier," Barton muttered, unclipping his pistols from their holsters.

"Agent Barton, incomming transmission," the driver said, fiddling with some radio he had in the front seat.

"Citizens of New York. My name is Victor Van Damme, I have been made aware of your plight and am willing to save you all. My army shall hold off your attackers, please, attempt to make your way to central park where we can attend to your wounds and evacuate as many as my craft can hold. Just remember it was Victor Van Damme that saved you here today, not the Ultimates, not Osborn. Please, hurry, I shall meet you all there."

"****!" Clint shouted, slamming his hand down on the dashboard. There was a crunching sound behind them, and the occupants of the hummer span around to look out the back window. Hundreds of men were marching towards the bridge in tight formation. At the forefront stood the Latverian flag, fluttering in the wind.

"Agent Barton, what do we do?" the driver asked. Barton hesitated.

"We've just been casually invaded by some third world eastern block bastards," he snarled "But if they want to play hearts and minds, so can we,"

He flung the hastily drawn up map into the back to the tech agent, who saw that there were a variety of different coloured circles encompassing New York.

"For now, that's the battle plan," Clint said "Tell the army that their priority is protecting the civilians. If they can, get them into the green zones and set up a perimeter, but if it's too dangerous tell them to stay put. The army's priority is protecting the civilians. The red areas are the highest concentration of Asgardians, or whatever the **** they are, blue is where I think the Latverians are coming from. The SHIELD strike teams jobs are to run intereference. Try and jam the radio signals. Let the bastards kill each other,"

"General Fury said-" the driver asked.

"Screw Fury, I'm taking over the field ops," Barton said "Remember - green zones,"

He booted open the passenger seat and ducked down to avoid the incoming fire from the Latverian army. He pulled the side door open and grabbed Harry Osborn, pulling him under the cover of the hummer. There were multiple pinging sounds as bullets ricocheted off the armoured side. Osborn was white with shock.

"I'm not ready for this," he gasped, grasping at his chest as he started to hyperventilate.

"You have to be," Clint said, patting the boy on the shoulder "When it starts, head towards the Latverian front line,"

"What about the Asgardians?" Osborn asked, dropping the pistol to the ground with numb fingers.

"They've only got swords and a bad temper. We've got guns," Clint said, flashing a grin and pulling Harry up into a crouching position.

"Good luck kid. Cellar Door," Barton whispered, before pushing the boy forwards and out into the open air.

The effect was instantaneous. Osborn's skin turned an orange colour, before morphing into a hard shell which ripped apart the designer suit almost as much as the Latverian bullets. He started to grow, to expand almost, and then he took the first step towards the Latverian army. The bridge trembled. He took another and then another and then he broke out into a run. Gone was the face of Harry Osborn, here was the horned face of Super Serum gone mad. Clint took his bow from his shoulder and loosed a couple of arrows into the Asgardians who were speedily advancing on the hummer's position. A couple of mad warriors dropped to the floor with arrows in their legs, but the horde kept on coming. Barton slipped back inside the hummer.

"Will this be enough sir?" the driver asked, drawing a sub-machine gun. The agent mounted on the machine gun had begun to fire into the ranks of the enemy, ignoring the shouts and screams from the Latverian army behind him. Barton had a machine pistol in each hand, his bow across his back and his shotgun by his side. Even the tech agent had a pistol in his hand. Barton looked into the oncoming storm.

"Not nearly enough," he said breezily "Let's hope the Ultimates get off their asses soon,"

The air seemed to hum with bullets and arrows and sheer testosterone. Clint smiled. It had been years since he was in a real war. He pulled his sunglasses on and tapped the side of the hummer.

"Let's go," he shouted.
 
GREEN GOBLIN

"Gather around!" I bark. The Thunderbolts form a circle around me. I realize how ridiculous their outfits are. I also realize that someone is missing. Groaning, I ask, "Where the Hell is Beetle?" I look for an answer. No one seems to offer it.

Then, "Norman, you have to see this." I can tell by Enchantress's tone that I won't be happy with what she's about to show me. She closes her eyes, and a small image appears - much like a television screen. When I realize what I'm looking at, I ball my fists in rage.

"Citizens of New York. My name is Victor Van Damme, I have been made aware of your plight and am willing to save you all."

"Bastard," I growl under my breath. I knew it was a mistake getting into bed with Van Damme. The son of a b**** screwed me over, and he waited until the final hour to do it. With every breath in my body, I swear he'll pay. "Alright, listen up," I command angrily. "Beetle is compromised. No doubt he's returning to Van Damme as we speak."

I rub the bridge of my nose. Everything was going so well. I should have suspected this train would be derailed eventually. "We continue as planned. Save as many civilians as you can, and try to make it look easy. Keep the violence to a minimum," I instruct while staring directly at Wilson. "Once the battle has turned in our favor, Enchantress and Loki will close the portals. Remember: the main goal is to weaken the Ultimates."

This Van Damme situation has me in a sour mood. I decide to end the rally speech there. I clap my hands and motion for everyone to get out there. As they leave, I stop Bullseye. Enchantress is watching from a distance. "Do me a favor?"

"What's that?"

"Kill Wilson," I order coldly. I've been waiting to say that. "Make it look like an accident, make it look like he went rogue. I don't care. He's a liability, and I don't trust him." I look Bullseye in the eyes. I know he understands. I nod, and he jogs off with the other T-Bolts.

Enchantress approaches. "Norman, there's more," she explains. "Your son has just touched down. He's with the Ultimates' ground forces."

There's no emotion on my face. No anger. No remorse. Harry's made his choice. He'll have to live with it. "Forget about him. When the time comes, I'll deal with him personally."

I pull down my mask and strap the shield to my arm.

"Right now, we have a city to save."
 
ironmanteaserpostertop.jpg


The cold, metal slab sat wearily beneath the body of Tony Stark. The battered corpse of the billionaire was a sight to see. His arms and hands had several gashes, from where he had tried to defend himself from the onslaught of attacks made by the mole, now identified as The Chameleon. Oddly out of place, several patches were attached to Stark's chest and veins, displaying on monitors mounted over the slab his body lay on that, indeed, he had no vital signs. Funded by taxpayer money, the morgue was the best money could by. Medical records lined the walls, displayed on high-tech monitors. By their sides was the face of the Chameleon and several maps that showed the assassin's trail. In the image, captured from security footage taken just after Stark's murder, the Chameleon had flashed a sly smile at the camera itself, as if daring whomever would be watching it in a mere hour or so to try and catch him. General Nick Fury stood with his sole eye trained upon the monitor, locked in eye contact with the smug image. He hadn't bothered looking at the gaping hole in Tony Stark's throat, fragments of the bullet still lodged in his aorta and veins. He had seen hundreds of wounds like it, and would see hundreds more. Provided, of course, that his one eye stayed good.

The general glanced over his shoulder as the telltale sound of the morgue door opening. The rubber boots of the medical examiner squeaked quietly, as Jim Rhodes entered in toe, a bag in his grasp.

"Rhodes." Fury said, extending a hand.

James' gaze was fixated upon the body of his dead friend for a split-second, before he coldly turned towards the General. Rhodes reciprocated his gesture, but not without obvious hesitation and apprehension. Not unaware of the emotions Rhodes felt, Fury made an effort to say something.

"For what it's worth," He began, "I'm sorry for your lo--"

Rhodes interrupted, snarling, "Save it. He wouldn't be here if it wasn't for you."

Offended, Fury replied, "He suited up in that armor."

"After your 'requests' for his help." Rhodes said, with a note of finality. He glanced at the doctor, "Can we get this show going?"

The doctor nodded and picked up a pair of tweezers. He quietly pulled the shards of metal out of Stark's side, deliberately and methodically excavating the wound in the industrial mogul's side. The metal shards clanged angrily against the plastic petri dishes they were being placed in, as if angry to have been removed from Stark's frame. The minutes ticked by quietly, as the coroner sewed the wound together. Every so often, Rhodes would glance at the Chameleon, then at Fury, who was watching silently.

The medical examiner turned his attention, then, to the wound in Stark's neck.

"Every piece of it, Doctor." Fury noted.

The doctor simply nodded, as he plucked the metal shards from the tissue in Tony Stark's throat. Piece by piece, the metal began to pile up until, finally, Stark's neck was clear. Rhodes, Fury, and the doctor all took a step back, watching patiently. After a moment or two, the wound began to close, and Stark's neck was whole once again.

After several seconds, the monitors and scanners erupted to life, as Stark's eyes snapped opened and he lurched upwards, his spine arching unnaturally. He vomited heavily, coating his legs in a thick bile. His eyes darted about the room as he gasped for air, trying his best not to throw up once again. Rhodes and the doctor both sprang into action, gripping Stark by the shoulders and holding him down. Fury, it seemed, couldn't be bothered.

"Hey, hey." Rhodes said, making eye contact with Tony, "We're here. You're fine."

Between gasps, Stark tried to speak.

"P--Pepper." He stammered.

Rhodes didn't know what to say.

"We don't know where she is."

At this, Stark vomited again, covering Rhodes, who didn't so much as wince. Finally being struck with the inspiration to move, Fury made his way to the slab and glared at Tony.

"Hey." He growled, "Get a hold of yourself. It's time for you to step up. Osborn made his move."

Stark's lips twisted into a snarl as he spat his next words.

"Go to hell." He said.

Brushing Rhodes off of Stark's shoulder, Fury gripped Iron Man's alter ego, who now seemed to be calming down.

"Listen to me." He said, as Stark's breathing returned to normal, "You can stand on your soapbox tomorrow, but today, now, we need Iron Man. We need some god-damned heroics."

Stark's glare was cold, now that he had returned to form.

"Sorry." He said coolly, "Fresh out."

He pulled the wires and patches off of his body and rose to his feet. Gripping the hose used to clean the slab after autopsies, he turned the water on and rinsed his bare legs. He took the bag Jim Rhodes had brought upon his arrival, opened it, and removed a turtleneck and black slacks. He heaved them on, ignoring Fury's persistent cries of his name.

"Thanks, doc." He said, patting the doctor on the back.

"Sorry about the... eugh."
He said, gesturing at Rhodes' ruined blazer as they made their way through the glass door to the hallway.

"Don't mention it."

Making their way to the elevator, Rhodes and Stark began speaking deliberately, quickly, and resolutely.

"How long was I out?"

"Just about three hours."

"Damn. What'd he take?"

"Your second prototype suit."

"Anything else?"

"Not that our initial inventory indicates."

They reached the elevator and Stark pressed the "up" button, without so much as glancing at Rhodes.

"Any leads on Pepper's location?"

"None. Chameleon'll turn up, though. We're tracking known associates."

"That won't be fast enough. We have to go to the source."

"Osborn?"

"That's what we're going to find ou--"

Their rapport was interrupted by Fury, now storming towards them, shouting angrily.

"Who the hell do you think you are, Stark?" Fury cried angrily, "Your country is calling on you, now, and you're not there? You've got some nerve."

Now Stark stepped forward, clearly angry.

"What does my country want from me, huh?" He hissed, "What more can I possibly give? I've given you Osborn, both the elder and the younger, his company, countless resources, and I've covered your ass in the press. You want another guy on the front line, fine. Go hire someone. In this economy, it shouldn't be too hard to find a dime store patriot or two."

"This is low, Stark." The general said, feigning moral disappointment, "Even for you."

"I was dead, you insufferable jarhead."
Stark growled, "The most you've given up is an eye, and you've still got one to spare. We're lucky I'm here, and you damn well know it."

Bing!

The elevator doors opened behind Stark, as Rhodes entered, keeping the lift from moving.

"I'm not resigning, I'm not leaving, I'm not quitting." Stark said, "I'm just saying, 'not today.' I'd like to take a few hours to get accustomed to being alive again."

He entered the elevator, and pivoted, watching as Fury began to do the same.

"Get the next one."
He growled, watching the doors close.

"Well." Rhodes said as the elevator lurched upwards, "At least it's never boring."
 
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"All units, fire only on fraudulant Asgardian attackers." Doom bellowed into a communication device aboard the bridge of his flagship, the Behemoth.

"My lord."
Came a muffled voice from behind, it was Beetle, his head bowed. "So glad to see you finally arrive."

"You did well Beetle, Osborn's ranks truly are weakened beyond mortal help, the steady stream of information you have garnered for me shall be vital to today's victory."


"Sir, there is something that has made itself known since my last transmission, the Thunderbolts, they have the Norse God Loki on their side."


Doom put a metallic hand to his equally metallic chin and pondered for a moment.

"It matters not, the plan stays Beetle, now go, join the People's Latverian Army in the barracks, we need to be ready to use the human troopers when the time comes."
With a wave of his hand Victor commands the armoured Beetle away.

"Everyone, let's start loading the survivors onto transports and bring them up here shall we? Tell our men on the ground that I'm on my way."
 
"Wow, that was intense", Sin bit her bottom lip as she lay, naked, next to the Red Skull in bed.
The Skull rested on his back, looking blankly up at the ceiling fan spinning around above them.

She leaned over and kissed him on his scarred cheek, resting her head on his shoulder.
The Red Skull sat up quickly, knocking her off of him.

"Hey!"

"Quiet", he said evenly as he moved to sit on the side of the bed.

"So", she smirked as she moved in behind him, wrapping him in her arms and pressing her chest against his back.
"I guess since I've seen the man under the mask, you're gonna have to kill me now?"

"The thought has crossed my mind."
The Red Skull shot her a stone cold look that made Sin pause.

"Wait", Sin spoke up after a few moments of tense silence.
"You can't be serious..."

"And why not", the Skull replied as he sat up and retrieved his mask from the nightstand next to the bed.

"Only a select few have seen my true identity, my most trusted associates."

"Well, surely the Red Skull's girlfriend is a trusted associate", Sin purred.

"That remains to be seen", the Skull said calmly as he put on his true face.
"But do not worry. You'll be given ample opportunity to prove yourself loyal to me in arenas other than the bedroom."

Suddenly somebody began to beat on the bedroom door.

"Boss! Something's happenin' in New York! You gotta see this!"


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

The Red Skull stood in front of the television as CNN reported live from the battlefield that was now New York city. Apparently Thor's Asgardian race had invaded the city, killing any human in sight. And to make matters worse, Victor Van Damme had arrived with his legions in an effort to save the citizens from certain death.
A move that the Skull saw as the ruse it was. The man called Doom had no intentions of being a hero. His army was there for conquest, nothing more.

"What do you want us to do, Skull?"

The Red Skull stood and pondered the events taking place.

"Nothing."

"Nothing", questioned Crossbones with a puzzled look on his face.

"If anything this helps our plans. This disaster will surely draw the full attention of Fury and his pets. We will be able to put the pieces in place with minimal effort now."

The Skull turned away from the television and looked at Crossbones.

"The meet goes down tomorrow night, so continue to make sure all are ready."


"Sure thing, boss man."

"And, Crossbones, issue Sin a sidearm. She'll be joining us tomorrow."


"You got it", Crossbones nodded as he winked to Sin who stood next to the Skull.
Crossbones walked off to finish preparing everything for tomorrow night's festivities when Sin looked up at the Red Skull, unable to contain her happiness.

"So, I take it this is my chance to impress?"

"Indeed it is", replied the Skull.
"Don't make me regret this."

"Don't worry, baby", she smiled as she leaned in and kissed him, biting his bottom lip and drawing blood.

Pulling away, Sin licked the Skull's blood off of her lips, her twisted eyes fixed madly on her lover.
"I won't let you down."
 

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