Ultimate One Universe - Genesis

Discussion in 'RPG Archives' started by UltimateRPGs, Oct 1, 2014.

  1. Andy C.

    Andy C. Repent, Harlequin!

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    "First and foremost," said Lucia von Bardas, her voice officious and yet pleasant as she spoke in thickly accented English, "I wish to thank you for the opportunity to speak to the American people, Mr. Godfrey. There has sadly been much confusion and misinformation regarding the recent hostilities between the People's Republic of Latveria and our new protectorate, the Democratic State of Symkaria. I, as well as the rest of the administration, am grateful for such a large stage on which to, as you say, 'set the record straight.'"

    G. Gordon Godfrey's news talk show was generally considered to be a crass, sensationalist, typically American news outlet; it also happened to be the most widely-viewed news show in the country. The host was boorish and profoundly unpleasant, but this very same sleazy behavior was what drew in audiences.

    "It's always a pleasure to have foreign dignitaries on my show, Ms. Prime Minister," Godfrey said with a toothy grin, "particularly ones as fetching as you, if I may say so."

    Lucia's upper lip curled upward slightly, belying a sneer, but she maintained her composure. She would very much like to break the man's neck, but she had a job to do.

    "But yes, let's discuss the annexation of Symkaria," Godfrey continued. "In the short but decisive engagements between the two countries, the Symkarian military received staggering casualties, and yet virtually no civilian casualties were reported."

    "If I may correct you, Mr. Godfrey," Lucia interrupted, "'virtually no civilian casualties' is not quite accurate. No civilians at all were harmed by the Latverian Defense Forces. The brave fighting men of Symkaria died with honor, but ultimately our fight was not with the nation or its people, but the corrupt and incompetent politicians who drove us to military action."

    "Speaking of, the actions taken by one Nyssa Raatko on the final day before the cease-fire have sparked tremendous outrage in the international community. Her squad of 'People's Security Bureau' agents openly executed the entire Symkarian Parliament-- how on Earth can you answer for that?"

    von Bardas' diplomatic smile went cold as ice.

    "That," she said, "was a response for Harlsburg."

    Harlsburg was a small city not far from the border between the two countries. As the Symkarian military crumbled before Doom, a desparate Parliament had authorized the use of biological weapons, breaking the Geneva Convention, in an attempt to dissuade further Latverian aggression. Missiles loaded with chemical warheads were launched across the border and detonated over Harlsburg, killing nearly a thousand men, women, and children.

    Rather than frighten the enemy away, this grotesque act only hardened their resolve-- Latverian soldiers had overrun the capital less than a week later.

    "I think we can all agree the Harlsburg incident was tragic," Godfrey said, "but wouldn't most people believe that the political leaders deserved to stand trial?"

    "The decision to use biological weapons on Latveria's children was a unanimous one," the Prime Minister said coldly. "In so doing, they signed their own confessions for crimes against humanity. Director Raatko saw that justice was delivered swiftly. If it makes you feel better, they died swiftly, without much suffering....unlike their victims."

    "I can understand your sentiment, but with sanctions now being placed upon your country by the UN--"

    "If the international community has issue with our actions," Lucia said, her smile returning, "our Lord Protector is more than willing to hear them. To that end, we have been organizing a peace summit, during which we will discuss the future of our nation as well as its standing in the region, and in the world at large. We have already confirmed dignitaries from neighbors Pokolistan and Bialya, as well as officials from Russia and China. Thus far, the NATO countries have yet to accept our invitation, but soon--"

    "Enough."

    The news broadcast cut off, the large display at the command console going blank.

    "Lucia has done her job well, has she not, my Beloved?" Talia von Doom remarked, all but hanging off the shoulder of the armored figure at the console.

    "She has played her part in this facade, yes," he said, "but there is far more to come."

    In the darkness of Victor von Doom's war room, deep within the bowels of Castle Doom, three figures emerged from the shadows. They made not a sound as they approached, but neither The Demon's Head nor his bride had to turn their heads to sense their presence.

    "I have use for you," Doom said flatly to the trio of assassins in his lair. "Many look at the actions we have taken so far and seen nothing but a petty grab for land, yet another in a never-ending line of small, worthless dictators who spill blood for the most meager of gains. They fail to see how much the world has changed around them. Nations, armies, governments-- these are all now things of the past, an old order that does not even know it is dead....."

    The screen on the command console behind him came alive again, this time showing a humanoid figure, a black-haired man in a blue bodysuit with a red cape, smiling as he held a passenger airliner in his bare hands.

    "This is the new world order," Doom stated. "The American 'Superman' and those like him. They wield power that would sweep away even the largest armies, could withstand the most advanced weaponry. They may not know the extent of their abilities as of yet, but soon notions like laws and borders will mean nothing to them. We must adapt to the new climate, and prepare for the new world that comes with them."

    Doom turned to face his agents, addressing a large man in a white-and-red robe, a scowling kabuki mask covering his face.

    "Gorgon," he said, "You will go to Metropolis, and draw the Superman into a confrontation. Direct experience fighting the creature will provide us with far more information than passively gleaning intelligence from afar."

    "Should we not send more than a single agent? Gorgon alone might not prevail against--"

    "Of course he will not," Doom all but spat. "We are not attempting to destroy the Superman, but to probe him for weaknesses, both physical and mental. We will not attempt a killing blow until I am certain it will succeed. For now, merely read as much as you can from him, then report back to me once you escape from the Americans' custody."

    Gorgon nodded silently, but even as his mask hid his face, his slumped shoulders betrayed annoyance at being sent to America merely to lose.

    "Nyssa," he addressed his sister-in-law, chief of his secret police, "The Americans are already in the process of compiling information on the various metahumans around the world, and their knowledge will become ours. You and your agents are to infiltrate the agency called SHIELD and uncover their secrets. Any metahumans in their employ, you have my full permission to deal with as you see fit, so long as it is done discreetly."

    Nyssa saluted sharply, playing her role as the feared officer to the letter.

    "Lady Shiva," he addressed the final assassin, "I am dispatching you to New York City. There is a vigilante in that place, a 'Spider-Man.' His influence is of little consequence, but his agility and reflexes could be invaluable if imparted to our own agents. I want samples of his blood for study-- the rest of the body, you can dispose of as you please."

    Lady Shiva grinned eagerly.

    "I believe you are forgetting one, my Beloved," Talia said as she looked at the various targets on the console. "I do not wish to question your wisdom, but should we not devote some of our agents to neutralizing the Batman of Gotham City?"

    There was a pause, a deadly quiet in the air upon mentioning the vigilante.

    Then, a noise came from behind Doom's riveted metal mask. It was a low, staccato thing, so strange to hear in the Lord Protector's voice that it took them all a moment to realize what it was.....

    .....Doom was laughing.

    "In time, my queen, the 'Bat-Man' will come to us," he said. "Soon enough, he will have no choice but to find us....assuming our mutual enemy from Santa Prisca does not find him first."

    Talia's soothing smile faded as Doom spoke; theirs was a loveless marriage, but both knew it was one of necessity. Should the former prize pupil of Ra's al Ghul, or the master's second-in-command, attempt to oust him, the control they had established over the Legion of Shadows may well break. It was something that Doom would see never happened...and something that Talia secretly wished for every night.

    "You have your orders," Doom said to his assassins. "Do not fail me."

    With a bow, the three Shadows retreated into the darkness, setting out to do their work.

    "As for you, my beloved," Doom turned his attention to Talia, "I have a special task for you. The world believes the pest-control I carried out in Symkaria to be 'war.' They have yet to see the meaning of the word. I am sending you to be the spark that sets off an inferno, and you will do so in a place that most do not believe even exists. A land of such wonders indeed......"
     
    #126 Andy C., Feb 20, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2015
  2. Hound55

    Hound55 Byfar The Most Evil Thing

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    [​IMG]

    Northern Sahara – Now

    [​IMG]

    A stinging wind blows across the hot desert sands.Impervious to these hostile conditions a small beetle staggers across the dunes, rolling the prized dung that will sustain all its needs to a private location safe from marauders.

    If nothing else, it displays the importance of perspective when looking at the value of the s*** he runs with…

    In the distance an SUV chases the setting sun.The man behind the wheel has his own s*** he’s running with, but if you attempted to broach the tale of the dung beetle with him he would be dismissive at best, hostile at worst.

    Those fleeing with their s*** seldom appreciate a good analogy…

    * * * * *

    “Slow down!”A young woman shouts from the passenger seat.“They’re not following us and if we crash out here in the middle of nowhere, we’re dead!”

    The man, a soldier, rubs his temples. His headaches not helped by the sharpness of the direct desert sun.

    [BLACKOUT]“It’s not a tail I’m worried about…”[/BLACKOUT]

    “What do you mean?”

    The soldier seemed agitated, but when questioned he could never come up with any good response and even more worrying it seemed to cause him physical pain.He would wince and rub at his forehead - Become abrupt and curse - Lash out.

    She’d consider throwing herself from the vehicle in other circumstances.But for two things:

    First, and most obviously; out here in the blistering heat of the Sahara Desert – no water, no shelter, stranded – such an action would be to sign her own death warrant.

    And second, there was the fact that he’d saved her.

    [BLACKOUT]“I don’t have time for this!”[/BLACKOUT]He snapped.A nasty glint in his eye, a dark scowl.Having seen the results of incurring his wrath earlier she kept her question to herself.

    “If it’s not the men who slaughtered everyone at the excavation site that he’s worried about… what could scare a man like him?”

    * * * * *

    Stateside, Undisclosed Location.

    “Fix this or bring me the head of Joe f***ing Scarborough!” shouted one of the “Heads”.

    Numerous men and women scurried around the Op Centre floor for the group of private concerns who named themselves "The Committee", while others made phone calls, under the barked orders from the bandaged man.

    “Estimated time until alternate satellite alignment 8 more hours.”

    “Eight hours?!” the man snarled, between layers of bandage which concealed his face.“And providing a satellite to oversee an operation becomes meaningless when that access can be revoked to transmit a morning talk show…”

    “That’s not my fault.How could I know that there’d be technical difficulties and they’d have to use the alternate?” another Committee head whined as excuse.

    “I don’t want to hear whining.I don’t want to hear excuses.All I want to hear now are solutions!”The bandaged man had a gravelly voice that was imposing even when calm.At this moment he was not calm, and it was terrifying.

    “We’ve just lost one of the most destructive forces on this earth.A weapon we’ve trained and given every resource it could ever need.And a twelve hour head start...”

    * * * * *

    “So where are we going?”

    The soldier offered a half-wincing smile, the hot desert sun reflecting off the Saharan sands still not helping his headaches any.

    [BLACKOUT] “Tunis. From there I can get us a small jet pretty much anywhere in Europe. Under the radar. From there we can eventually go anywhere we need. At the moment we need to lay low.”[/BLACKOUT]

    “Lay low? Who from?”

    [BLACKOUT]“I-- I don't remember.”[/BLACKOUT]
     
  3. Carnage27

    Carnage27 No one's puppet

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    Gotham General Hospital

    Batman stood on a rooftop overlooking the hospital as SWAT cars began to setup outside. No doubt whoever had called him had also called the police. The man holding the hostages clearly wanted a show. The question was what kind. Bruce had to admit he was woefully under prepared for this situation. He had never dealt with hostages before, not to mention hostages his opponent clearly knew he was linked to. There was little choice in the matter, though. He needed to get in there and get Gordon and Kane out, not to mention the other innocents still trapped in the hospital.

    Bruce kicked off the side of the roof and extended his cape to glide towards the top floor of the building. Wayne figured that whoever was controlling the hospital would be at its highest point in order to survey any way the authorities would come after them. As he soared towards the building, however, gunfire erupted from the roof. The SWAT teams below scrambled into cover, Batman dove towards a lower floor. The windows below approached quickly, and were shattered by a quick flick of the wrist and a few batarangs. Bruce landed with a roll, and the pain from his sutured wounds radiated through his body.

    The shot hadn't been fired to hit him. It was done to drive him down. Whoever had taken over the hospital was playing with him.

    With a grimace, he said into his comm, "ORACLE, keep me appraised of the SWAT teams outside. I want to know when they're going to breach."

    "Understood, Batman."

    He moved silently towards the door of the hospital room he found himself in, and found it locked. A swift kick with his good leg shook the door free, and the crash it made echoed through the silent hospital. Bruce moved without a sound through the darkened corridors as people banged on the locked doors as he passed.

    "Someone put the building into an emergency lockdown," Batman mused to himself. "ORACLE, where's the hospital's security hub?"

    "One floor up and towards the center of the building."

    "Copy."

    As he made his way towards his goal, the PA speakers in the building crackled to live. Bruce could hear muffled screams over the slight static along with someone shuffling near the microphone. Suddenly, a voice exploded through the speakers, "Testing! Testing! Is this thing on!? Of course it is. I couldn't help it though. Hello, Batman! Welcome to the party! I've got plenty of egg nog so why don't you come find me and we can celebrate together!"

    Bruce sneered at the voice. It was like nails on a chalk board, and the over inflated sense of glee it had made Batman know he was dealing with a true psychopath.

    "I'm so glad you've come," the man continued in his high pitched tone. "I'm sure you're wondering if your cop friends are alive. They are. They're here with me. Everyone here's fine. Well, except for the guards and a few nurses I killed. And I guess we are in a hospital, so I'm sure some of these people are very sick. But you get the point! I'm rambling...where the hell was I going with this?"

    High pitch laughing ended that transmission. The grumble that escaped Batman's lips was annoyed and bitter as he approached the hospital's security office. He could hear chuckles coming from inside. Two different laughs than the ones on the PA. He looked around the corner and found two burly men chuckling simply to one another. They were big though, so Bruce needed to be careful.

    He pulled a bola from his belt and whipped it at the one's neck. The impact snapped him towards his partner. Their heads slammed together, knocking each of them out. He strolled into the room and picked up their radio. He pressed the transmission button, "Your goons are taken care of. I'm coming for you next."

    "Ohhhhhhh, Bats," the man said in a satisfied tone, "you knew exactly what I wanted for Christmas! I'm upstairs, with sugar plums dancing in my head. Or psychotic visions. Either one."

    Before leaving, he shut down the emergency lockdown, allowing the other people in the hospital to escape.

    Batman move quickly up a flight of stairs, hoping he'd find his prey before long. Over the comm systen, ORACLE's voice announced, "The SWAT team is beginning to stir. They are setting up."

    "Copy," Bruce acknowledged. He knew he didn't have much time.

    Luckily, when he got to the top floor, it didn't take him long to find his target. On the top floor, the hallways were nearly painted with blood. It seemed that the maniac had killed everyone on the floor, lest someone try and stop him. He followed the trail to the end, where the lone light on the floor was on.

    Batman stepped into the room and came face to face with what he assumed was the face of insanity. Dressed in a bright purple suit, with shocking green hair, chalk white skin, and ruby red lips was the man who had taken Gordon and Kane prisoner. A grotesque smile seemed chiseled into his face, and his large yellow eyes seemed to bulge from his face as if they were being forced out from the very force of the grin. Wires emanated from his chest and were attached to Kane and Gordon, who were each tied up on each side of the room.

    "And there you are," he swept his arms as if he wanted to hug the vigilante. "You know, this really does feel like fate, doesn't it? There's an electricity in the air. If only I hadn't forgotten my mistletoe."

    There was a tension in the air. Batman felt it, but he was sure it was just his anxiousness to save his allies. He began to move for his belt, but the pale specter raised a finger, "Ah-ah-ah, Batsy. You don't want to do that. My heart rate is hooked up to your two cop friends here. If it gets too high...well, we're all in for a shocking Christmas!"

    Batman stood still, realizing he had lost any advantage he had. Clearly the man was not a fighter, but the vigilante couldn't risk Kane and Gordon.

    "Oh yes," the clown-like man smiled, "you realize I've actually beaten you, haven't you? Oh this is sweet. But a little easy. I was expecting this to be a lot more fun, Bats."

    "There's nothing fun about murder, you sicko," Bruce's normal calm demeanor was shattered. There was just something about the presence of the other man he couldn't abide.

    He broke out in uproarious laughter, "Of course there is! Taking a life is the best practical joke of all! No other joke touches so many! Don't be so dead serious!"

    "Batman, the SWAT team has snipers in place," ORACLE warned.

    "I am going to take you down," Batman promised.

    "Maybe eventually, Dork Knight," he smiled broadly. "But this is just the opening salvo."

    A reflection out the window behind his opponent raised Batman's guard. The snipers. They'd be taking a shot any second. The hero slid behind the clown in a flash, putting himself between him and the sniper. He tackled the villain to the ground, but as he did a bullet shattered the window and ripped through the meat on Bruce's good shoulder. Fighting through the pain, he tied the clown's arms and legs to ensure he couldn't escape. He then moved quickly to disarm the devices attached to his allies,

    Only to find there were none. The wires that came from the villain's chest were merely taped to the two cops.

    The clown laughed louder than he had before. It was a satanic, unnatural glee that emerged from him, "Oh Batsy! You took a bullet for me! Hehehehehe! For no reason! Oh I knew you were foolishly, idiotically heroic! And there's the proof! Hahehohaheo! Oh we're going to have fun Bats. Oh so much fun!"

    Bruce ignored him and how right he was, and instead untied the two cops. He looked into both of their eyes and deeply said, "I'm sorry. I really am."

    Summoning the Batmobile, he leapt out of the window as the SWAT team began breaching the building to save the hostages. He landed in the vehicle and commanded it to return home, confident that the joker upstairs would soon be behind bars.
     
  4. Morden Man

    Morden Man Registered

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    I had ignored Peter’s requests for me to head back to the lab after my showdown with Barrett at the warehouse last night so I could get some rest. As much as I felt stronger and faster than before, my body was still adjusting to the grind of going out every night and the mornings had proved to be difficult. I needed to sleep in this morning and not move for a couple of hours before I could face getting out of bed.

    When I eventually come to I’m hit by the smell of bacon and eggs coming from the kitchen. Bob Dylan’s “The Man in Me” echoes through the corridors of Ted’s house as I make my way towards the kitchen. He’s shuffling along to the music and occasionally breaking into his less than convincing Bob Dylan impression as he pushes the bacon around the pan.

    “Someone’s in a good mood this morning,” I say to him with a smile as I sit at the kitchen table. “What’s the good news?”

    Ted slides a plate in front of me and I reach out to take it from him without thinking. He takes a double take before shaking his head and continuing to push the bacon around the pan.

    “Haven’t you seen the papers? Apparently Daredevil caught up with Turk Barrett down by the docks last night.”

    I shrug my shoulders.

    “Is that name supposed to mean something to me? You know I don’t watch the news.”

    With a lazy flick Ted places some bacon on my plate and puts a knife and fork beside me on the table. This time around I fumble around a little bit before I pick them up and begin to cut through the bacon.

    “You know exactly who Barrett is,” Ted said with a smirk. “First Grotto and now Turk, it’s almost as if this Daredevil character is making his way through a list of the people you hate the most. Maybe we ought to tell Ben Urich to head out of town for a few weeks at this rate.”

    “Very funny.”

    Ted laughs to himself as he pours some milk into a pot and begins to whisk it into the eggs inside. For as long as I could remember Ted had been making me scrambled eggs, bacon, and toast in the mornings. Even before my father had died it had been Ted that would make breakfast for the three of them when they were on the road. Nutritionists weren’t exactly all the rage back then, so it wasn’t uncommon for fighters to live off of their own poorly made twenty egg omelets. To his credit, Ted had always been a pretty decent cook.

    He turns to face me with a grin and I smile back at him instinctually before again catching my mistake. In the distance amongst the roar of the city a barely audible click catches my attention and a sense of dread washes over me. Without thinking I leap from my seat and try to tackle Ted out of the way of the window and we land with a thud. As I look down I see a deep graze on Ted’s neck that’s bleeding heavily and I press my hand against it to stem the bleeding. Ted tries to speak and I shake my head and press a finger against my lips.

    “I... I... I missed,” a voice mutters in the distance. “I... I never miss.”

    With my radar sense I search for the voice on the rooftops around us. I block out all the other noises and focus as hard as I can on finding the source of the bullet but draw a blank. There’s nothing. Whoever had shot that bullet was out of range of my radar sense and that meant they were very far away from here. It made no sense, there was no way to make that shot from as far away as you’d need to be for my radar sense to not pick you up. It wasn’t humanly possible.

    That’s when I hear another click. This time I pick up on the sound of the bullet ricocheting off of near to a dozen different surfaces on its way towards Ted and I and manage to pull us both clear of its path in time. Whoever it was behind that gun was a professional. Ricocheting bullets? I didn’t even think it was possible outside of video games. I needed to get us out of here and I needed to get us out of here fast.

    “I missed again,” the voice said, this time even angrier than it had been the first time. “You made me miss. Twice

    In his frustration the shooter raised his voice and for a second I could glimpse him tucked away in a building almost eighteen blocks across. It was only for an instance and the angle he was at made no sense, it wasn’t possible to hit us from where he was, was he managing to trick my radar sense somehow? I had no idea how he was staying hidden and no idea how to find him again, all I knew was that I needed to get Ted out of here and fast.

    “Can you stand?” I say to Ted with as I release the pressure on his neck enough for him to speak. “We need to get out of here. Something tells me whoever’s shooting at us won’t miss three times in a row.”

    Ted splutters a little.

    “What are we waiting for then? Let’s get the hell out of here.”

    Ted waves my hand away from his neck and places his own hand over the wound. The bleeding isn’t as bad as I first thought. Seeing how quickly the man at the warehouse had bled out last night had made me fear for the worst when I’d seen the wound on Ted’s neck, but he insisted it was fine as we scrambled out of the kitchen with our head’s down.

    We head down into the basement and I lift my phone to my ear and call Peter Cross. It rings twice before he picks up and I look in Ted’s direction anxiously and weigh up whether I ought to be saying what I’m about to say in front of him. From what I figure there’s a good chance we’ll both be dead soon anyway so it’s not going to be of much consequence.

    “Ted’s been shot. Slaughter must have had someone follow me home from the warehouse last night. That’s why he left Barrett out in the open like that, that’s why it was so easy to track him down, Slaughter threw him under the bus so he could get to me.”

    I see a look of recognition in Ted’s eyes as he listens to me speak.

    “<Goddamn it, Matt, I told you going straight home after a patrol wasn’t a good idea,>” Cross said urgently. “<I’ll be ten minutes at the most, all I need to do is gather some supplies together and I’ll be with you. Can you tell me where the wound is? How bad is it bleeding?>”

    I indicate to Ted to lift his hand up from the wound.

    “It’s a graze to the neck, it’s bleeding but not too heavily when pressure is applied to it. Be careful on the way over Peter, somehow this guy is able to cloak himself from my radar sense which means, not only does he know who I am, he knows what I can do. God knows what else this guy can do.”

    “<You can’t let him get away if he knows who you are,>” Cross said. “<You need to find him and take him down. If he gets away then we’re both dead men, Matt, it’ll take all of five minutes for him, or Slaughter, or someone else to leak this to a newspaper or worse. You have to catch him.>”

    “I can’t leave Ted alone,” I say with a shake of my head. “I won’t leave him.”

    “<Don’t you understand? If this guy gets away then Ted’s dead regardless of whether he survives or not. They’ll come for Ted, they’ll come for Foggy and Angela, they’ll come for everyone you ever knew and they’ll kill them all. You have no choice.>”

    Ted had given my father a second chance at life all the years ago and he’d given me a second chance at life too. He’d been there for me after my father had died during their fight and he’d done his best to keep me on the straight and narrow ever since. I wouldn’t leave him to bleed out in a basement without no one around him, Cross could say what he liked but I was never going to let that happen.

    “There’s always a choice.”

    Ted clears his throat and grabs me by the arm with his free hand. His usually vice-like grip feels weak and trembles as he tries to cling onto my arm, but the word that follows it are as strong and as resolute as any Ted had ever spoken.

    “Go.”

    “I can’t leave you like this. What if you bleed out before Pete gets here? I can’t risk losing you too, Ted.”

    Ted squeezes my arm as tightly as his body will allow him to and smiles.

    “For once in your life would you listen to me? Go and get him, Daredevil

    His eyes twinkle with pride at the last word and I nod solemnly and stand to my feet. Whoever it was that had taken the shot was still out there, still waiting for me to pop my head up so he could take another shot at me, I could feel it. Whoever he was he was dangerous and clearly highly skilled but if he thought he could go after the people I loved he had another thing coming. I was going to him what happened to people when they did that. I was finally going to stop holding back.
     
  5. Andy C.

    Andy C. Repent, Harlequin!

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    My eyes take a moment to adjust to the brightness of the midday sun. The air is hot and dry, as is the dusty landscape that surrounds me.

    I seem to have touched down in a desert, likely far from civilization. This is probably for the best; given how long it has been since the Amazons have walked among our fellow mortals, I imagine quite a bit has changed, and I have a fair amount of learning to do.

    Normally, without food or water or shelter from the elements, I would not hope to survive long in this arid climate. Thankfully, the Sandals of Hermes allow me to cover vast amounts of ground in an eyeblink, so I take to the air, heading in no particular direction, in search of signs of life.

    Eventually, I find a long black strip winding across the vast expanse of desert-- a road, seemingly made of tar and stone. Flying high enough to remain out of sight, I follow the road, hoping it takes me to a village or hamlet where I can ease into the ways of--

    "Stay away from me! Please, just leave us alone!"

    I suppose easing into the ways of the new world may not be an option.....



    The mortals of this world travel along their roads in machines, ingenious wagon-like devices which propel them across the land faster than any horse or sail could carry them. One of these wagons is stranded along the side of the road, and several, smaller two-wheeled contraptions have swarmed around it like a pack of dogs.

    A woman and her daughter are backed against the side of their wagon, surrounded by large, leering men wearing black leather. Some of them carry knives, or chains, or weapons I cannot yet identify. I may not know the customs of this world yet, but I know the predations of evil men when I see it.

    "Y'know, it's not a good idea to travel across the desert all on your lonesome," one of the brutish men says, gazing upon the woman and young girl with hungry eyes. "You never know what kind of trouble you might run into."

    "Don't come any closer, or I swear to God I'll--"

    "You'll what?" the man says, inviting a laugh from his cohorts. "Ain't no one around here for miles, so you can scream all you want, lady. No one's comin' to help you."

    "I'm afraid you're wrong," I interrupt, swooping down from the skies. The Circlet of Palas atop my head grants my mind clarity, translating both my words, and the words of the mortals before me.

    The men wear patches on their leather, insignia sewn into their uniforms. Hell's Angels, the patches read. I smirk-- I fought and defeated a real Angel in the first round of the tournament.

    "What the-- what're you--"

    "I give you the option to leave now," I say. "If you do not leave these women alone, I will give you another choice-- the Lariat, or the Hammer."

    "Aww, hell, it's one of those super-freaks I've been tellin' you about."

    "Ain't no such thing!"

    "The hell there ain't! I tell ya, I saw all about it on the news-- that Superman guy, he's--"

    "Shut up, both of ya!" the leader barks at his men. "And as for you, Miss Super-Freak...."

    The man pulls a silvery device from a sheath on his hip, and activates it.

    There's a blast of smoke and fire, and a pointed slug of metal comes screaming out of it, aimed to pierce my heart. It is fantastically fast, and would be undeniably lethal at this range for any ordinary mortal....

    ....but I am no ordinary mortal. I raise my arms in front of me in the fractions of an instant I have, and the metal slug shatters against my silver bracelets, the reformed Aegis.

    The men recoil in shock and terror, and I level my gaze at them.

    [​IMG]

    "You've made your choice, then," I say. "The Hammer it is..."
     
    #130 Andy C., Feb 24, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2015
  6. Carnage27

    Carnage27 No one's puppet

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    [​IMG]

    The psychic attacks of the alien rock walkers had caught Superman off-guard, but he worked hard to concentrate and regain his bearings. It was something he had learned to do long ago as his powers began to develop. A teenager with the power to lift a tank was a dangerous thing without control. This was no different.

    As the walkers crashed in the city square around him, Clark took a deep breath and centered himself. His eyes opened, unobstructed from the pain of the psionic attack once more. He sprung off the ground and into the air to impede the giant, alien weapons from stomping into the city. If he could keep them contained in the fairly-open square, Superman stood a chance at keep collateral damage to a minimum.

    That was easier said than done, of course.

    Superman flew threw the legs of one of the mechanical beasts, and delivered a mighty uppercut to the "chin" of the squid-like menace. It stumbled back from the immense blow, while the other raised an arm to swat at the Man of Steel once again. Instead, Superman smacked it away from him, and it collided with the other invader. With a great gust of wind from Superman's might lungs, he froze the arm to the toppled walker.

    As the two attempted to separate from one another, a thumping sound reached Clark's ears. He peered onto the horizon, where he saw a squadron of helicopters coming towards him.

    Emblazoned on the side of the helicopters was the SHIELD symbol.

    Clark shot over towards them, and called out, "Start evacuating citizens around the fight! I'll contain those things to this area!"

    The pilot of the chopper saluted, and SHIELD spread out into Metropolis in order to start the evacuation of threatened areas.

    Superman turned his attention back to the massive aggressors, who had managed to separate from one another. They began trudging in the same direction which they were headed before. Clark took note of it and shot in front of them to block their path once again.

    "Enough!" he shouted at them angrily.

    The two stopped in their tracks. Once again, their voice boomed in Kent's head, ~Unacceptable! The enemy is here! The last is here! The otherworlder told us he is here!~

    While they screamed at him, Clark used his super vision to attempt to peer into the craft. He was sure that these were being piloted by beings inside them. And he was correct. The layers of rock, metal, and machinery blocked a good deal of his vision, but he still made out the pilot inside.

    Swooping down towards the closer walker, Clark slammed his shoulder into one of its legs, knocking it off base. With another punch, he sent it tumbling into its partner. The two monstrosities crashed into the square, buckling concrete and breaking water mains. The streets below began to flood as Superman pounded his fists into the side of the nearest enemy in quick succession. Pieces of rock chipped off with every strike, and the force of each blow kept the walker from moving.

    Before long Clark had burrowed inside the craft on his way to its pilot, who had begun to panic. Sparks exploded around the Man of Steel as he smashed through electronics and machinery, and the buzzing and creaking of metal filled his ears. Finally, he made it to the center of the weapon of war. He dug his fingers through the metal shell, and ripped them apart like it was made of tissue paper.

    Inside, a pale, reptilian figure hissed at Clark before it shot out like a canon ball at him. The two emerged from the broken weapon as the other walker struggled under the weight of its felled companion. Clark stood in water up to his knees as he stared down the beast from another planet, "Give yourself up and I won't have to hurt you."

    ~Your offer is unacceptable!~ the creature yelled into Clark's mind. ~You will be subdued and the enemy will be destroyed!~

    It kicked off the ground again to fly towards Superman.

    "You wanted this," Superman sighed as his eyes began to glow red.

    The beams from Clark's eyes slammed into its chest. Clark guided the alien into a grouping of trees in the park. As the otherworldly invader cracked against the trees, the heat from Superman's eyes ignited the wood, surrounding the creature in flame. Superman watched as the flames seemed to incapacitate the alien, and it dropped to its knees in fear.

    Just in time too, as the other walker had managed to regain its footing. It was also in no mood to trifle with Superman again. It fired its energy beam into the hero's chest, sending him sliding back blocks into an evacuated building. The impact sent a tremor through the structure, and it began to crumble on top of Superman.

    He punched through the rubble until he saw sunlight. Once free, Clark saw that the walker had actually had jumped into the Metropolis sky, and was using some sort of propulsion to head towards its target. Superman took off after it, and found it was headed in a straight line in the same direction it had tried to go before.

    Superman tried his best to catch up to the siege weapon, but before he could it cut its engines and slammed into a building in downtown Metropolis. It was STAR Labs. Clark was sure it hadn't been evacuated yet, meaning many people had probably just been killed.

    Anger took over Superman as he rocketed towards the invader. Unfortunately, it was ready for him. With one of its large claws, it plucked Superman out of the air, and slammed him to the ground. There in pinned him, and unloaded with its energy weapon. Clark could feel the searing pain as the invader's weapon pounded into him and its voice echoed through its head, ~We have killed the enemy. And now you shall die as well.~

    ~No!~ a new voice entered with force. ~You have not killed me!~

    The blinding light of the energy weapon dissipated as something else hit the walker with force. Superman's eyes adjusted to find what looked like a green version of the invading aliens. With a mighty, double-handed blow, he struck the top of the weapon on the top, buckling the legs. Superman, now freed, pulled its legs from underneath it, causing it to come crashing down. The green alien, to the amazement of Clark, passed right through the rock, and exploded out the back holding the second, white alien. The green one threw the other into a pair of empty shackles in the remnants of a strong room that had survived the impact.

    With his limited energy spent, the green alien collapsed to his knees, and Superman was given a moment to catch his breath. He walked over to the strong room. Its roof had been partially breached, and a twisted heap of metal that was once a specialty restraint sat discarded. It was more than likely where the green alien had been held. The white alien struggled against the remaining device, and behind him, in big yellow words, was emblazoned, "CADMUS."

    Then, the SHIELD helicopters came calling down. Superman stepped in front of the spent alien while Agent Phil Coulson got out of the first chopper to land. He approached Superman and dryly commented, "Well, you kept that in check."

    Superman couldn't answer. He knew more than likely that they were now standing on the rubble graves of dozens, if not hundreds, of people. The emotions that swelled in him were indescribable.

    Some of Coulson's men tried to step by Superman to take the green alien into custody. Instead, Superman grabbed them both by the shoulders and tossed them back lightly, "No. This one has spent enough time in captivity."

    "This really isn't up for discussion," Coulson warned.

    "You're right, Agent Coulson," Superman growled, "it's not. He's coming with me. End of story. Stop me if you'd like to try. I'm a little tired. You may have a chance."

    Coulson waved his people off. Superman put the green alien's arm over his shoulders and took off into the night sky. The visitor said weakly and non-telepathically, "Thank you."

    "You don't have to thank me," Clark smiled as he set down on a building on the outskirts of Metropolis. "If anything I should thank you."

    The alien shifted uneasily, "I would not be so sure. When the fighting freed me I...read your mind to get a read of the situation. Because of that I may know..."

    "Everything," Clark understood. He couldn't blame the poor creature. It was lost and confused on a strange world. Who knows how long it had been imprisoned in that container. But he now knew Clark's secret identity, and his true lineage. "Can I trust you?"

    "So far, you are one of two on this planet that have shown me any kindness, and the other is dead" the alien nodded. "I am alone in this universe. That makes you my lone friend, Kal-El of Krypton. From this day forth, J'onn J'onzz will help you in any way he can."

    Superman felt no ill will from the alien man. It may have been naive, but Clark had always had a terrific judge of character. There was no lie on the alien's tongue. He could be trusted.

    "In that case I think we need to take you somewhere you can learn about the Earth," Clark pondered. "You can't know much."

    "I know what little I could glean from the one kind man who spoke to me during my imprisonment," J'onn replied. "But little else."

    Clark smiled, "Then I know the perfect spot for you, J'onn. Come on, I'm taking you home."
     
  7. Eddie Brock

    Eddie Brock Golden Domer

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    [​IMG]

    In the morning, an historic event occurs. I, Bartholomew Henry Allen, get up early. Like sunrise early. I don't know that that's ever happened before. Of course, I've also never been involved in a particle accelerator explosion and been told that my body is generating a "quantum energy field" before, so I guess today is just full of firsts. Not like I could've slept in even if I wanted to. I was hardly able to sleep a wink last night, tossing and turning as I worried about what might be happening to me with each passing second. With any luck, Dr. Elias's tests will come back negative, and I can be on my way to work with a weight off my shoulders. Then, my only trouble will be explaining to Captain Singh that I wasn't able to get those fingerprints he wanted…

    Maybe the quantum energy field wouldn't be such a bad option.

    As I stumble out of my bedroom, half-dressed and rubbing my eyes, I spot my roommate, Vin, looking fully awake and pouring himself a cup of coffee. He glances up at me, smirks, and looks back down at his cup. "Well, well. Today must be the second coming." Vincent Gonzales is a police officer with the CCPD. When I first took the job with the Crime Lab, he was asking around for a roommate, and so we agreed to go in on an apartment together. I wouldn't say we're exceptionally close, but we make our arrangement work well enough. Most of the time. "Listen, Barry, I've been patient so far, but today's the day," Vin begins, sipping his coffee. He motions to the couch. "You tell your friend that either he starts contributing to the rent, or he can find a new couch to crash."

    I look over Vin's shoulder at the couch, where my college buddy, Dexter Myles, is sprawled out awkwardly. A few weeks ago, Dexter showed up at our door. An aspiring actor, he had fallen on some hard times and needed a place to stay until he found his feet. Without consulting with Vin first, I offered Dexter the couch for as long as he needed it. The two have been butting heads ever since. Dexter's a bit too… laidback for Vin's tastes. He's been that way for as long as I've known him. In college, Dexter spent all his time between classes chasing co-eds by quoting Shakespearean sonnets at them. For one reason or another, some of the girls actually fell for it. Dexter was always trying to get me in on the action, but I only had eyes for Iris – a fact he's never been quick to let me forget.

    "Today," Vin repeats sternly, calling my attention back to him. He points his coffee cup at me threateningly. I'm not afraid to admit that Vin scares me a little. He has this "no nonsense" attitude about him that I've always found intimidating. On the intimidation factor scale, however, Vin pales in comparison to his sister, Michele. I've only had the "pleasure" of meeting her a handful of times, but on each occasion I walked away feeling as though she had completely deconstructed me. A lawyer by trade, Michele has no filter and even less tolerance than her brother. As you can imagine, she doesn't get along well with an admitted underachiever like myself.

    For the moment, however, I can't worry about the impending showdown between Vin and Dexter, so I merely repeat, "Today," in agreement with Vin, who gives a little nod. He finishes his coffee and asks me to clean up, grabbing his coat as he makes for the door. I make myself a quick breakfast and finish getting ready, all the while Dexter continues peacefully snoring away. Still feeling a bit hungry as I get ready to leave, I help myself to a second serving of bacon as I head out. I make sure to close the door slowly so as to not disturb Dexter. Checking my watch in the hallway, I see that I still have plenty of time to do Dr. Elias's tests before work.

    The storm clouds from last night haven't completed passed, so it's an overcast day in Central City. I frown at the dreary sky as I raise a hand to flag down a taxi. One pulls up to the curb sharply, and I adjust the weight of the messenger bag on my shoulder. As I take my first step towards the taxi, I catch sight of a flustered businesswoman half-jogging down the street, lugging a stack of papers in her arms. We lock eyes for a moment, and I motion towards the taxi. "Here, you take it," I offer, knowing full well that she needs it more than I do. As she approaches, I reach across and open the door for her. She opens her mouth to thank me, but the sound gets drowned out by the sudden honking of a horn.

    I turn my head to see a bike messenger swerving out of the path of an oncoming car. Without slowing down, he hops up onto the sidewalk. That's when things get... strange. The sound of the car horn drops a few octaves, and the bike messenger slows dramatically. He veers around the open taxi door, narrowly missing the businesswoman in the process. The rush of air coming off him knocks the woman back a step, and the papers begin to tumble out of her arms. But they aren't falling at a normal speed. In fact, I watch dumbstruck as each individual sheet floats gently towards the ground. As I reach out to catch one, I realize that I'm moving normally. I snatch the paper out of the air easily, and things return to normal as soon as my fingers close around the sheet. The horn resumes its normal pitch, and the rest of the papers hit the ground at the woman's feet.

    I'm still staring at my sheet, trying to make sense of what I just saw, as the woman bends down to collect her papers. She mutters something under her breath about the bike messenger, but I'm too lost in my own thoughts to hear it. In fact, I hardly even notice when she collects the sheet from my hand and gets in the taxi. It's all I can do to shake off the strange sequence of events and wave down the next taxi which comes down the street. As I get in, I spot one of the left behind papers being swept up by the wind.

    * * *​

    "Mister Allen, welcome back," Dr. Elias greets me as I enter his lab. He's hunched over his workstation, furiously tapping buttons on his keyboard as he evidently makes some last minute calibrations. Without looking back at me, he asks, "How are we feeling today? Any lightheadedness? Dizzy spells? Anything out of the ordinary?" He moves past me to check on another machine, all the while remaining laser-focused on the task at hand.

    "Well, I feel fine," I explain. "But I did have something strange happen to me today."

    "Oh?" Elias says, half-listening.

    I rub the back of my neck. "Yeah, I was standing on the curb in front of this taxi, and this bike messenger jumped up onto the sidewalk, and..." My thoughts flash back to the incident. I can still picture the way the loose papers drifted through the air. I can't even bring myself to speak my suspicions aloud. They seem so ludicrous. "Well, this will probably sound ridiculous, but it was like... time... slowed down. Or something."

    Dr. Elias stops what he's doing and makes eye contact with me for the first time. To my surprise, his expression doesn't betray any skepticism or even disbelief. In fact, all I can really detect is a momentary furrowing of his brow, but even that is gone as quickly as it came. "Hmm," is all he says, and then he turns his attention back to his work. A few seconds later, he approaches me with some kind of metal headgear. "Put this on, and follow me."

    I slide the headgear on, recoiling a bit at the coolness of the metal. Elias leads me to the back part of his cavernous laboratory, where he has set up some kind of treadmill-like device. As I get closer, Elias motions for me to step up onto the track. He begins fitting me with a specialized vest attached to all sorts of wires. "Alright, Barry, this is going to be very simple," he assures me as he pulls the headgear down snug. "All I want you to do is run at a normal pace."

    "What is this? Some kind of physical?" I ask.

    "Something like that."

    He climbs down off the treadmill and positions himself near a set of screens. After making a few final touches, he gives me the 'okay' symbol, and I start to jog. The wires coming off of my vest jostle with every step, but I force myself to ignore it. In no time, I start to feel myself sink into a groove. The treadmill hums rhythmically with my pace. Elias motions for me to speed up, so I lean forward a bit and lengthen my strides. The track glides beneath me as I start to drown out the sound of the machinery. Elias motions again, and I really start to get moving.

    My thoughts begin to drift away as a runner's high kicks in. Soon, I'm aware of nothing but the feeling of my feet hitting the track and the rhythm of my breath. Amazingly, I don't even feel winded. I've always considered myself to be in decent shape, but I'm certainly no gym rat. In fact, I can't even recall the last time I voluntarily exercised. Yet even as I continue to hold a steady pace, I don't feel any shortness of breath or increase in my pulse. I glance at Elias, but he's absorbed in his screens, whatever they may be saying. I decide to try and push myself a bit further.

    My legs are a blur beneath me, and my arms are pumping. I feel complete tunnel vision kicking in as my awareness of my surroundings dulls. I no longer feel the jolt each time the ball of my feet hits the ground. It's like I'm gliding through air. I sink lower into my stance. As I close my eyes, my thoughts drift away completely. Suddenly, I'm ten years old again, reading comic books by flashlight in my room. There's a crash from downstairs...

    "NORA!"

    My eyes spring open. Smoke rises from the machinery beneath me. Suddenly, there's a crackle of energy around my body, like something in the vest short-circuited. It startles me, and I misstep. Reaching out to brace myself against the handrails, I slow myself to a halt. I pat at the vest, expecting to see smoke or damage, but it looks completely untouched. Dr. Elias is watching, hand over his chin. "What the heck was that?!" I ask, frazzled.

    "Confirmation," Elias responds. He hops up onto the treadmill and helps me out of the vest. As he takes the headgear from me, he explains, "Barry, what you experienced this morning... with the bike messenger? Time wasn't slowing down. You were speeding up. Exponentially so." Elias collects his things and leads me back to his main workstation. "When I analyzed the energy readings you were putting out yesterday, I noticed that this quantum field is loaded with supercharged particles moving at fractions of the speed of light. Somehow, it seems that your body is able to tap into that energy and convert it to pure speed. It's why I was unable to read your pulse yesterday - it was simply moving too fast to be detected."

    I shake my head. "How can you possibly know this?"

    "The discharge," he answers simply, pointing at my chest. "When you tapped into that energy field just now, you generated so much energy that some of it was released as an electrical discharge."

    I can feel my eyes widen. "So you're saying those sparks came from me?" Elias nods. "And this is all a consequence of my body accessing this... 'Speed Force?'"

    Elias shrugs. "A rudimentary way of describing it, but if it helps you understand..." He plops down in his computer chair and whirls himself around, typing and clicking frantically. "What's fascinating is that your perception of time seems to scale with your speed. This energy must have permeated your cells such that even your neurons are capable of rapid responding. I wonder if you could train yourself to control their firing rate accordingly..."

    While Elias lets his mind wander, I'm still stuck standing there, having trouble processing everything he's trying to tell me. I blink a few times, hoping it will bring sudden clarity, but nothing seems to happen. Licking my lips, I say, "So, not to backtrack or anything, but what you're saying is that I'm fast?"

    "Correct."

    "... how fast?"

    Dr. Elias pauses and looks up. Then he brings his gaze back down and lets it settle on a coffee mug full of pens. With a glance at me, he reaches over and casually bats the mug off the edge of the desk. In that moment, I feel the same sensation as I did this morning. The mug overturns slowly, each pen tumbling out individually. With three quick strides, I cover the distance to Elias's desk, the pens no more than halfway to the ground. I bend down and begin snatching pens out of the air until my hand is full. With my other hand, I cushion the falling mug and return it to its place on the desk. As soon as I drop the pens back into the mug, time resumes as normal.

    Dr. Elias looks at me and smirks.
     
  8. Carnage27

    Carnage27 No one's puppet

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    [​IMG]

    Christmas Day
    Wayne Manor

    All Bruce Wayne could think about as he stared out the study window onto the freshly falling snow was the pain. Every fiber of his body hurt from the previous night's events. Bullseye had given him a beating that would have killed a man without the training Bruce had, and the sniper bullet he had taken for the clown was icing on the proverbial cake. The two of them were both on their way to prison, thankfully. The clown, who the media had dubbed "the Joker", was headed to Arkham, while Bullseye was on his way to Belle Reve, an experimental federal prison. They were out of his hair, but the events of the night before would reverberate through Gotham for the foreseeable future. The DA and Police Commissioner were gunned down in the middle of city hall by masked men, no doubt park of Black Mask's gang. In other parts across the city, skirmishes between the multiple mobs through the city erupted. Black Mask's men were targeting the old guard, and the old guard were targeting everyone that wasn't them. Gotham's simmering conflict had finally blown up into a full scale gang war.

    Even with all that hanging over his head, Bruce couldn't stop thinking about his encounter with the Joker. The clown, from first encounter, radiated malevolent glee and violent intent. Bruce had encountered psychopaths before, but there was something different about this one. Maybe it was how easily he struck at Batman's allies. Maybe it was how easily the villain had suckered Batman into his devious trap. Finally, maybe it was the gleeful glint and violent laughter as the Joker realized just how far Batman would go to protect innocent lives. Even with the criminal clown behind bars, Bruce wondered if that would come back to bite him. Still, his compassion was what set him apart from a callous vigilante only out to punish the wicked.

    It was also what set him apart from his former brothers of the League of Shadows. His former master, Ra's al Ghul, often chided him that his desire for conventional justice and aversion to killing would one day lead to his own demise. As Ra's' chosen successor, Bruce was meant to exact vengeance against the League's enemies. The League's murderous ways were what drove Bruce to rebel against them in the end, though he wondered if the Demon's Head's warning would come true in the end.

    Thinking of the League, of course, brought the situation in Latveria and Symkaria to mind. Doom had run roughshod over the Symkarian army, and the League had disposed of the country's government. Bruce may have revolted against the League, but Doom was using their power in a way which it was never meant to be used. Bruce saw no way around it. In time, Victor von Doom would come for Batman. He was sure Doom knew the vigilante's true identity, and he would not allow Bruce to gain traction for long.

    The two would come face to face once again. It felt inevitable.

    "Bruce?" Alfred coughed from the door. "Dinner shall be ready in a few minutes."

    "Thanks, Alfred," Bruce answered without looking away from the window. He had never seen Alfred so worried as he was when Bruce returned bloodied and broken last night. Things had been tense all day.

    Before dinner, the doorbell echoed through the halls of Wayne Manor. Bruce called out, "ORACLE, display gates."

    A holographic video screen appeared before Wayne, and there he saw Selina in a car waiting at the gates. He opened the intercom and said warmly, "Selina, I wasn't expecting you. Come on up."

    Bruce hobbled his way to the front door to greet Selina. He opened the door and almost lost his breath the beautiful visage on the other side. Pure white snow flakes dotted her raven hair, which had fallen over her emerald eyes. She smiled sheepishly at Bruce, "Hey...I know this is *gasp* Bruce! What happened to you?"

    He cursed himself under his breath. He had forgotten how terrible he looked, "Last night on the way home I saw a woman being mugged by a group of rioters. I helped her...and ended up paying the price."

    "Aren't you the bleeding heart," she looked at him slyly. "I figured neither of us would want to be alone today. I hope you don't mind me stopping by."

    "Not at all," he ushered her in. "We're right about to sit down to dinner."

    As the two of them walked closely towards the dining room, Bruce thought the pain subsided a little bit.

    **********

    Location Unknown

    The Riddler sat back in his chair and smiled at the man in the mask on the other side of the video chat, "I told you to relax."

    "You told me the Batman would be dead after last night," Black Mask seethed. "Not only is he alive, he saved some of the best cops in the city."

    "And you managed to throw the entrenched power base into chaos," The Riddler tried to calm his partner down. "The Bat will fall apart before this all comes to an end. Trust me on that. In the mean time, we keep the pressure on the old families."

    The Riddler shut off the feed, and lit a cigar. He loved it when a plan came together.

    **********

    Arkham Asylum


    "What happened to make you like this?" Doctor Jonathan Crane asked from across the table from the shackled Joker. The criminal had been brought in mere hours before, and Crane was transfixed by the patient. The depth of his psychoses knew no bounds. The papers that Crane could write on this man could put him on the map. The two had only just sat down together and he could feel something special. He knew he should leave to be with Harleen, but he couldn't pass the opportunity to talk to the criminal.

    "Who cares about the past, doc?"the clown smiled broadly. "The past is boring. Let's talk about the future. Let's talk about how masks and capes and powers are gonna change everything. And me? I'm gonna change all of them."

    "So you have a fixation on the so-called superheroes which have emerged in our world?"Crane asked, intrigued.

    "Have you seen these guys? The fashion sense! The tights! Anyone who's willing to display their package so prominently is worth watching, doc," the Joker chuckled to himself. "But no. No, I'm not fixated on them. I'm amazed at what they're going to do. Everything is going to change because of them. They could bring real peace. Real order. Do you know what peace and order are, doc?"

    Crane shook his head and the clown continued, "Boring. Someone needs to spice people like Batman's lives up. That's what I'm here for. I'm here to give the world a better class of criminal. You'll see. You'll definitely see."

    **********

    Belle Reve Penitentiary
    Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana

    Bullseye had never seen anything like Belle Reve. He had broken out of prisons before, but none like this. The walls were high and thick, with an outer perimeter wall of unbroken concrete, save for the main gate. The assassin was taken through meandering halls just to get to processing, where he was fitted with an RFID tracker.

    He was placed in an interogation room, which he found odd. Before long, a heavy set African American woman entered and sat across from the assassin. She was built like a tank, and had the angriest eyes Bullseye had ever seen. She cleared her throat and opened a file, "Over three dozen known assassinations, seven prison breaks, and wanted in over a dozen countries. Impressive sheet."

    "Let me guess, you want to know who hired me?" Bullseye scoffed.

    "No," she responded curtly. "I don't very much care why or how you did what you did. I'm here to give you an opportunity to reduce your sentence. The tracking device we implanted in your neck is actually a miniature explosive device. If you try and escape, we'll blow your head off. But, if you work on a team I'm putting together, we'll reduce your sentence and take it out."

    After a few moments of silence, Bullseye shrugs, "Well, I guess I don't have a choice...Where do I sign up?"

    She slid a paper over to him, "Right here. Welcome to Task Force X, Mr. Bullseye. May you make your country proud."

    **********

    Weeks Later
    En route to Gotham City Hall

    "Are you ready?"
    Selina asked over the phone.

    "As ready as I'll ever be," Bruce responded. It had been weeks since Christmas Eve, and he was now fully healed and back on patrol. The city was in shambles, and the world seemed as if it was on a ledge. Since that night, the mob war had only escalated in Gotham. Murders were a daily occurrence, and with his hard fought truces dissolved, Mayor Cobblepot had lost all control of the situation. He and Selina had been seeing more of each other, even if he knew it wasn't a great idea. "Sorry I didn't bring you I thought-"

    "No, no," she understood. "That isn't a situation that I need to be inserted in any time soon."

    Bruce laughed, "Understood. I'll give you a call once I'm done."

    The car pulled up to the building and Alfred opened the door. Bruce emerged to a flurry of camera flashes and questions. He and Alfred pushed through the crowd towards a podium that had been erected for the moment. There, waiting for Bruce, was Harvey Dent. The two old friends shook hands, "Well, after today we'll be the most wanted men in Gotham. Hope your company makes kevlar."

    "Don't worry," Bruce joked back, "I've got enough money to hire Superman as your body guard."

    Bruce took the podium along with a deep breath. While the timeline had been accelerated, he and Dent had been planning this for months. With the city in the state it was, it was now or never.

    After another deep breath, he began, "Thank you all for coming, I'll make this brief. Over the past few months, Gotham has bled, cried, and limped towards its death. A gang war unlike anything ever seen before has taken over our streets. The Gotham Police have done an admirable job trying to keep the peace, but without a proper plan and leadership, their efforts are in vain. I plan on supplying them myself with new armors and weapons to restore the peace in Gotham. But not only that, I am calling for a recall against Mayor Cobblepot. His limp, uninspired leadership has driven us to this point, and Gotham needs better to lead us out of this hell. As of this moment, I am throwing my full support and financial backing behind Harvey Dent for the new mayor of Gotham. Behind the exceptional moral leadership of Mr. Dent, I know Gotham will have its day in the sun."

    Bruce relinquished the podium to Harvey and faded back into the crowd. He got back in his car. Gotham's business had been dealt with for the day. Now there was something else he had to do.

    "Where now, Bruce?"Alred asked from the front seat.

    "Get the plane ready," Bruce simply said. "I have someone I need to talk to."

    "I can have the private jet ready for takeoff in an hour."

    "Not that plane, Alfred," Bruce corrected him. "The other one. And make sure the new suit is ready too."
     
    #133 Carnage27, Feb 26, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2015
  9. Eddie Brock

    Eddie Brock Golden Domer

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    Colonel Fury was waiting on the helipad when Steve arrived. Arms folded behind his back, Fury's lack of expression failed to betray whatever thoughts he might've been having. In fact, were it not for the gentle flapping of his trenchcoat in the wind, one could be forgiven for mistaking the Colonel for a statue. Even as he approached the landing helicopter, Fury did not smile - though he had never been one to, Steve remembered. That being said, Fury's disposition was pleasant enough as he shook Steve's hand. "I was glad to hear from you," the Colonel announced over the din of the helicopter's dying engine. He led Steve across the narrow causeway between the helipad and the door.

    "I know this wasn't an easy choice," Fury continued once they were inside, "but I know I speak for everyone when I say that we're happy you made it." As the two men walked into the heart of the facility, Steve couldn't help but be reminded of an ant farm. SHIELD agents bustled about here and there - some in suits and ties, others in some kind of standard issue navy tactical uniform. Many were too engrossed in their individual tasks to pay the two men much mind, but Steve noted the respect and deference the attentive agents paid their superior. "Contrary to what the world believes, your war didn't end in Berlin. It simply evolved. New wars bring new challenges, and that's where we come in."

    "No need for the hard sell, Nick," Steve said while keeping his gaze straight ahead. "I'm here, after all."

    Fury nodded understandingly. "We'll get you retrained right away, and then we can--"

    "Retrained?" Steve interrupted, turning his attention to the Colonel.

    Fury tilted his head slightly in Steve's direction, barely glancing out of the corner of his one good eye. "This isn't 1945, Steve," he began reproachfully. "You haven't been in the field for a long time. Nothing is as you remember it."

    "Then I'll learn on the job," Steve argued as he came to a stop. He squared his shoulders with Fury. "I've been out of the game for long enough. I'm here to work, Nick." He made sure to present a strong front. Steve had no interest in taking things slow or going through some training program. All his life, Steve dealt with problems one way: by rising to the challenge and tackling it head-on. This new venture would be no different.

    Even Fury had to smirk. "I wanted the old Captain America. Guess I shouldn't complain that I got him," he mused. He led Steve down another hallway, saying, "As it happens, I do have a job." Upon reaching a door at the end of the hallway, Fury pressed a thumb to a glowing blue pad on the wall. The door popped open with a beep and a click, and Fury motioned Steve inside.

    As Steve walked into the room, automatic overhead lights blinked to life. The room was clearly some kind of command center. Desks with dormant computers sat in a semicircular amphitheater centered on the far wall. Fury descended the main aisle to the center of the room and tapped the wall. Suddenly, the wall flickered and was dominated by a massive display screen. It cast the entire room in an eerie glow, and the overhead lights dimmed. A holographic menu appeared before Fury, and he began deftly tapping through it. Steve could only gape at the futuristic show.

    As last, Fury found the file he wanted. With a swipe, he brought up a black-and-white security video on the main screen. As it loaded, the picture shuddered from unintelligible blocks to a crisp image so lifelike that Steve felt like he was there himself. "This video was taken at Stark Industries headquarters in New York, about a month ago," the Colonel explained.

    "Stark Industries. I recognize that name from some of the documents in that intelligence packet you gave me," Steve thought aloud.

    Fury nodded. "We've contracted from them from time to time, usually through some third party. Stark's one of the world's premier weapon developers." Pausing, Fury licked his lips. "He's also a bit of an a**hole, so pray you never have to meet him." Fury pressed a finger to the holographic panel, and the video began to play. It appeared to be some kind of fancy office. "Stark keeps his most dangerous designs in hard copy only, secured in his private safe."

    Just then, a woman appeared on the video. Dressed in business attire, she seemed to be some kind of secretary. She glided over to the large desk at the center of the frame. She reached up and gave her curly hair a quick tug, revealing it to be a wig. Her real hair - a shade darker on the greyscale video - was tied back in a bun. "Not an employee, I take it?" Steve said. The woman produced a small device from her jacket and placed it against the side of Stark's computer. A few moments later, a painting on the wall behind the desk slid aside to reveal a safe. "Who is she?"

    "A ghost," Fury answered cryptically. "She's got a list of aliases half a mile long. By our best guess, her real name is Natalia Romanova, but to those who hire her, she's known only as 'the Black Widow.'" As Fury talked, the woman finagled with the panel on the front of the safe. "Thief, assassin, saboteur, gun for hire. A specialist in wet work, she'll do any dirty job for a hefty fee. She's been on our radar for a long time. But she's not the focus of this operation." Fury tapped the hologram and stopped the video just as the Black Widow had opened the safe. He pointed to the folder in her hand. "That's what we're worried about. Blueprints for an orbital bombardment laser capable to mass destruction on a global scale."

    Steve's eyes widened. "That's a thing that can be built these days?" he asked disbelievingly. Fury gave a solemn nod. Steve could only shake his head. The future, it seemed, was even more terrifying than he had realized. "Who hired her to steal it?"

    "An old friend," the Colonel answered humorlessly. He closed his hand in front of the screen, closing the video. With a flick of the wrist, he brought up a still image on the screen. "Look familiar?"

    It took Steve more than a moment to place the fact. The man's appearance had changed significantly since their last encounter. Still, even with a full head of hair, the man's sour expression was unmistakable. "Strucker," Steve said aloud, "He's alive?"

    "We're not sure how," Fury admitted, "but then again, the fact that you and I, of all people, are having this conversation should say something. Strucker's been a thorn in our side since the end of the war. When the Third Reich fell, he scooped up as many rats from the sinking ship as he could. Under his leadership, they founded a new group that calls itself Hydra, dedicated to the ultimate goal of--"

    "World domination," Steve offered.

    Fury gave a nod. "How original, right?" He took down the picture of Baron von Strucker and threw up satellite images of a large, factory-like building. "This is a suspected Hydra facility on the Bialyan border. These images were taken less than a week ago." With each tap of the holographic panel, Fury brought up the next image in the slideshow depicting a number of cargo trucks pulling up to the building and unloading supplies. "We think this is where they're constructing the laser."

    Steve leaned back and put his hands on his hips. "Well, we should probably put a stop to that, huh?"

    Even Fury couldn't help but smile. "I suppose we should. But first, we need to get you geared up and introduce you to the rest of the team."

    "Team?" Steve arched an eyebrow.

    Colonel Fury's smile grew. "That's right, Steve. Still play well with others?"
     
  10. Morden Man

    Morden Man Registered

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    I made sure to stay clear of windows as I located a spare costume I kept hidden in Ted&#8217;s loft and left the house. All I had to do was make it eighteen blocks without being shot by a man with impeccable aim that can ricochet bullets off of next to any surface. As much as my thoughts were with Ted sat alone in his basement waiting for Peter to arrive I feel the adrenaline take over me the second I fire my billy club into the air and scale atop a building. So far I&#8217;d made it three without being hit, though I didn&#8217;t fancy my chances of making it the entire way without him dinging me at least once. He was too good. As I land on the rooftop I hear the distant click and leap out of the direction of a bullet that comes hurtling in my direction. All the ricocheting must slow the bullets down, it was the only explanation I could think of as to why I didn&#8217;t have a bullet between my eyes.

    The shooter grunts in frustration at having missed again. This time even though I&#8217;m able to track him from the noise, I focus on the noises he&#8217;s not making. Everything makes some form of noise. Breathing, moving, even still air made a noise when you had amplified hearing, believe or not. The shooter was silent outside of his complaints and the sound of his trigger clicking. Against anyone else by the time the trigger was pulled it was too late. Thanks to my radar sense it was enough of a sound to alert me to his presence. But it was the sound he wasn&#8217;t making that helped me find him.

    It was eerie to be that quiet, inhuman even, and ultimately it was what gave his position away to me despite his attempts to move around to secure a better vantage point. Once I&#8217;d focused on blocking everything else out and concentrating on his absence of sound I could see him as clearly as if he were streaking naked through Hell&#8217;s Kitchen on a Sunday afternoon. He was on the move. It was now when I could make progress, move forward uninhibited by fear of being knocked out of the sky by sniper bullet, and so I ran and swung from building to building until my lungs hurt. Still ten blocks to go.

    I launched my billy club in the direction of a flagpole on the building opposite me and mid-swing heard the sound of the shooter&#8217;s trigger clicking. This time I was too late to respond and the bullet tore through the wire on my billy club and I found myself falling through the sky almost twenty stories above the ground.

    Not good, Murdock, think fast or you&#8217;ll end up a red blotch on the sidewalk down there. I&#8217;m falling too quickly to try to grab hold of a ledge, if I even manage to get my hands to one at this speed I&#8217;ll tear my shoulder out of its socket and keep falling. Think, think, think. The air is whistling past my ears so loudly that my radar sense is lighting up everything around me, I scan my surroundings for something to break my fall and there I see it: a piece of scaffolding suspended from the building, clearly undergoing construction work, that&#8217;s just out of my reach. I fling what&#8217;s left of the wire on my billy club in the direction of the scaffolding and it latches on, swinging me around onto it and breaking my fall.

    Before I have a chance to congratulate myself I hear the sound the clicking again and begin to scramble out of the way of the bullet and down the scaffold. This was difficult enough with my billy club and now with it rendered almost nearly useless I still had next to five blocks to travel. I leap down onto the street below and for a second almost forget I&#8217;m wearing the suit as people begin to step back from me in shock. Some of them might have heard of Daredevil, some of them might not, but it was something else to see a man in a skintight costume in the flesh. It was why I&#8217;d avoided going on patrol during the day up to this point.

    Either way it wasn&#8217;t safe for me to be on the streets. Too many civilians around that could get caught up in the crossfire of this thing. I glance around for an escape route and smile as I notice a manhole cover underneath my street.

    &#8220;Now you&#8217;re onto something.&#8221;

    I lift it up and slip inside into the sewers below and instantly my nose makes me regret my decision. Sewers smell bad enough to a normal person&#8217;s nose but to mine it felt like I was losing years off of my life for every second I was down here. Down here the shooter couldn&#8217;t shoot at me and more importantly he couldn&#8217;t see me. But I could still see him and though wading through human waste wasn&#8217;t the most pleasant thing in the world, I&#8217;d be with him in five minutes at this rate. I could still see him, I pictured the look on his face as I arrived out of nowhere and surprised him and it brought a smile to my face for a few moments. Whoever this guy was he had to go down, that much wasn&#8217;t debatable.

    I click what&#8217;s left of my billy club against the sewer wall as I make my way through it so I can make the most of my radar sense. I need it down here more than above ground. All the smells made it harder for me to navigate without rejigging my radar sense from time to time to make sure I was going in the right direction. As I come to a stop beneath a newly built office building I know I&#8217;m in the right place. The city above me is bustling. Drivers are shouting abuse at one another on the streets above me, people standing by water coolers in the buildings opposite gossiping whilst they ought to be working, and all around the only truly silent spot is in the newly built office building above me. He was there.

    I scale the building and climb inside to find a figure hunched over a sniper rifle propped up on some wooden plans in front of a window, even up close I can&#8217;t so much as hear him breathing. As best I can I move towards him making sure to make as little sound as humanly possibly as I move. Suddenly the figure swings his rifle around by about fifty degrees and fires a bullet off one of the building&#8217;s supports. For a second my life flashes before my eyes as I feel like I can see the bullet travelling towards me in slow motion. What I don&#8217;t understand is how my body reacted so quickly and raised my arm, thrusting my billy club in the direction of the bullet and ricocheting it away into the wall.

    [​IMG]

    &#8220;You made me miss again,&#8221; the shooter said angrily as he set his sniper rifle down and adjusted his mask. &#8220;No one&#8217;s ever made me miss before. You&#8217;ve made me miss eight times.&#8221;

    His voice was gruff and there was a certainty and precision to his movements. From the way he carried himself I could tell that he&#8217;d killed before and would probably kill again if I didn&#8217;t stop him. He wasn&#8217;t afraid of me like the rest of Slaughter&#8217;s thugs. The suit he was wearing must be what&#8217;s stopping me from hearing him. Whoever this guy was he wasn&#8217;t like Grotto or Turk, he was big league and that meant that he hadn&#8217;t come cheap. Slaughter wanted me out of the picture and he wanted me out of the picture soon. That meant he was close to breaking.

    Before I had a chance to open my mouth to ask the shooter a question I heard a small whirring noise and two turrets appeared from his wrists, he pointed them in my direction and began to fire. This time I wasn&#8217;t quick enough and one of the bullets hit me in the upper abdomen and knocked me backwards as I attempted to duck into cover.

    &#8220;I was starting to think you weren&#8217;t human,&#8221; the shooter said with a laugh. &#8220;You might have a few... tricks up your sleeve but you&#8217;re not that special.&#8221;

    The smell of blood trickling out of the hole in my costume makes me grimace. What was it that Cross had said when I&#8217;d asked about the suit down at the docks? You worry about your end of things and I&#8217;ll worry about mine. The suit had help up, it had managed to slow the bullet down enough that it hadn&#8217;t gone straight through. Instead the bullet had lodged halfway in the suit and halfway in the front of my abdomen. It hurt to breath and it hurt to move. Two things I needed to keep doing if I was going to stay alive against whoever the hell this guy was.

    I reach for what&#8217;s left of my billy club and whip it round the corner around the shooter&#8217;s leg and drag him off his feet. He lands with a heavy crash and I&#8217;m able to leap on top of him and pin him down long enough to break one of his chest turrets on the ground.

    He&#8217;s stronger than I am. Even without this bullet causing me so much pain he&#8217;d still be stronger than I was. I&#8217;m not sure whether it&#8217;s the suit he&#8217;s wearing or whether he&#8217;s actually stronger than me, it didn&#8217;t make much difference in the long run. Unless I ended this quickly I was going to end up another scalp this guy had collected.

    He lands a punch to the face and I feel like my jaw explodes. He knees me in the groin and I moan loudly as he kicks free from my grasp.

    &#8220;This is it? This is all you've got? You've got to be kidding me. You&#8217;re nothing but a rank amateur.&#8221;

    He stood over me with his one working turret pointed at me, shaking his head in disappointment. I&#8217;m in so much pain that I can barely think straight but I manage to launch my billy club perfectly so that it gets caught in the muzzle of his turret as he begins firing. There&#8217;s a loud bang and shards of my billy club go firing past my head. There&#8217;s the smell of blood and staggering through the small cloud of smoke the shooter appears holding his right hand at the wrist. His index finger had been blown off completely and the thumb, middle, and ring finger had been reduced to bloody stumps.

    &#8220;My fingers,&#8221; the shooter muttered angrily. &#8220;You took my fingers from me.&#8221;

    He let go of his wrist and reached for the sniper rifle he&#8217;d discarded earlier and began to fire in my direction. With his hand blown to pieces his aim wasn&#8217;t as good before and I was able to duck and weave until I was close enough to take the fight to him. The bullet in my abdomen still hurt every time I moved but I had no chance to end this here.

    I managed to wrestle the rifle from his hands and grab the shooter by the helmet, smashing it against the wall several times. The mask that covered his face began to slip away and in the struggle I could tell very little about him other than that he had a thick moustache atop his lip. The shooter attempted to kick my feet out from underneath me but I blocked his kicks and grabbed the exposed wounds on his hands, causing him to scream out in pain.

    &#8220;You&#8217;re going to tell me everything I want to know about Eric Slaughter or I&#8217;m going to take your other fingers from you too. You&#8217;re going to tell me where he works out of and where I can find him, what he knows about me and my abilities, and everything you know about him. Or you&#8217;ll never hold a spoon again, let alone a gun.&#8221;

    The shooter begins to laugh.

    &#8220;Maybe you&#8217;re not such a amateur after all.&#8221;

    Despite the fact he&#8217;s shivering with pain he manages to throw us both through the window of the office building and we drift apart from one another as we hurtle towards the ground.

    No billy club this time, only my radar sense to keep me alive. There&#8217;s a flag poll three stories down, I&#8217;d have to hope I wasn&#8217;t going too fast for that and try to hold on for dear life. I hear it flapping in the wind and try to angle my body towards it as it gets closer to me. I outstretch my arms and my fingers clamp down around the pole. There&#8217;s a loud pop as I hear one of my shoulders pop out of place and I cling to pole with one hand but I manage to pull myself atop it.

    I glance down at the shooter as he lands atop a taxicab on the streets below. It crumples underneath his weight and the alarm begins to sound. I breathe a sigh of relief at having survived the encounter but also at knowing that whoever he was no one would ever have to deal with him again. He should have ended up in a prison cell somewhere paying for all the bad things he&#8217;d done but clearly he had a death wish. Maybe it was always going to end like this.

    &#8220;<I think Ted&#8217;s going to be okay,>&#8221; Cross comes through my earpiece. &#8220;<He&#8217;s lost a hell of a lot of blood and I&#8217;ll have to operate once I&#8217;ve got him back to the lab, but he ought to be okay.>&#8221;

    I feel like a weight&#8217;s been lifted off my chest at the news and though I&#8217;m stranded atop a flag pole in the middle of New York in broad daylight I can&#8217;t help but smile.

    &#8220;<What about the shooter? Did you apprehend the shooter?>&#8221;

    &#8220;He&#8217;s dead,&#8221; I say with a sigh. &#8220;Put up one hell of a fight and I&#8217;m not quite convinced I deserved to win that one, but he&#8217;s dead. Whoever the hell he was, the crazy bastard decided to tackle me out of an office block window and ended up a crumpled mess on the sidewalk for his trouble. Go figure.&#8221;

    And then I hear it. The sound of gasps from beneath me as the shooter slowly drags himself from atop the crumpled roof of the taxicab and limps off into the distance. He&#8217;s alive, I don&#8217;t know how he is, but he survived that fall. I use my radar sense to scan around for a quick way down to pursue him and find nothing. There was no way I&#8217;d get down in time before he&#8217;d made his escape. Whoever he was, he knew my secret identity and even where I lived, and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it.
     
    #135 Morden Man, Feb 27, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2015
  11. Carnage27

    Carnage27 No one's puppet

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    Kent Farm
    Smallville, KS

    "So you're sure you're okay with this?"
    Clark asked his parents as the three of them sat on the porch. Out in the field closest to the farmhouse, J'onn J'onzz sat and stared into the night sky. He had taken a human form as the two of them set down, revealing he could shapeshift to some degree. Clark introduced him to his parents, and then he went to stare at the sky.

    "If you trust him, we trust him, son," Ma patted him on the shoulder.

    "Plus, if he's as strong as you say, it'll take a lot off my plate," Pa chuckled. "I've missed having a super strong farmhand on duty. You leaving for college was the worst thing to happen to my productivity."

    Clark laughed and nodded to his father. He knew the two of them would be more than happy to help with the alien. After all, they had taken him into their lives without question, why would this be any different? Now the only question was if J'onn was going to be happy here.

    J'onn had said little about his captivity, mostly because he claimed he knew little.

    He found the alien sitting in the field, staring into the sky. Next to him, Buster had his head in the alien's lap, "Well, it looks like Buster's taken a liking to you."

    J'onn looked up at Clark with his now-human face, "He is, as humans say, a good dog."

    J'onn's form was now of a strong, bald, African American man with a kind face and expressive eyes. Pa had given him a pair of jeans and a shirt. If Clark didn't know any better, he would have assumed J'onn had always lived in Smallville.

    "So why did you take that form, J'onn?"

    "I mentioned before that there was one doctor that was kind to me inside CADMUS," J'onn explained. "This is his form. While it may ring as a hollow remembrance, it is the best I can do."

    "I think it's perfect," Clark took a seat next to him. "Do you think you'd like to stay here for a while?"

    "Yes," he nodded. "I believe this will do. I can learn about the human world and its people. I can acclimate here. Your adoptive parents are very welcoming, as are you. Thank you. While I no longer have a home, at least I know there are good people on this planet."

    "They're a good people, overall. They lose their way, but they come through, in the end," Clark assured him before starting to ask about something else. "J'onn, about your home-"

    "Not now, my friend," he shook his head. "For now I wish to be one with the nature of my new home."

    "Understood. I'll be back soon to check up on you."

    Clark nodded and headed back to the farmhouse to say goodbye to his parents before heading back to Metropolis.

    **********

    Metropolis, DE

    Superman soared over the city and surveyed the damage. It wasn't nearly as bad as he thought, but STAR Labs had been completely leveled. His heart was heavy as he saw the excavation going on. They were no doubt looking for survivors, but there was little chance of that. The alien weapons themselves had already been moved out, no doubt by shield. Still, the CADMUS project was something Clark couldn't ignore.

    But that would have to wait for another time. After the day he had all he wanted to do was go to bed and relax.

    As he made his way to his apartment, he was hit by a blinding spotlight. He had no idea who could have known he was flying this way, and landed on the building where it came from, finding some sort of plan as its source.

    From the shadows came, "Superman..."

    [​IMG]

    "We need to talk."
     
  12. Andy C.

    Andy C. Repent, Harlequin!

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    Modora, capital city of Pokolistan



    "And you are sure of this?"

    "Yes sir, Mister President. The Americans are planning to dispatch an intervening spec-ops force."

    "I see. Thank you for your efforts, Aleksandr. Keep me informed if the situation changes."

    With that, President-for-life Bito Vladon, the fat and balding military dictator of the Sovereign State of Pokolistan, hung up the polished black receiver of the old telephone on his desk. While he kept it clean and as close to new condition as possible, most of the furnishings of the office-- most of the entire nation, for that matter-- was old Soviet cast-offs. Though he puffed out his chest and roared like a lion at political opponents, in truth he felt more tired and old with each passing day.

    The border raid situation was just another in a long line of problems that made Bito's dull gray hair fall out.

    For months, villages and settlements near the border with the neighboring nation of Bialya had been under siege with sudden, seemingly random attacks. According to witnesses, the attackers were flattening buildings with some fantastical energy weapon. While the Bialyan government flatly denied accusations that these were experimental attacks by their armed forces, the nation had been home to no shortage of radical, paramilitary, and terrorist groups in its time.

    The thought of the Bialyans made Vladon's stomach churn-- he hated them in the way that only neighbors could truly hate each other.

    Vladon had made speeches blustering about the attacks on his people, and threatened the Bialyans with war if they did not stand down and agree to his concessions, but deep down, he knew Pokolistan did not have the firepower or the economic muscle to back military action. The Russians had long since abandoned his wretched little state, and the EU weren't interested in getting involved in 'some damn-fool thing in the Balkans' again.

    Now his intelligence agents told him the Americans were planning some strike against the raiders in Bialya themselves. To most, this would be a relief, but American intervention would be disastrous to Vladon's administration-- particularly because he had run for so long on a staunch anti-Western platform.

    "Oh, Bito, Bito...." he muttered miserably to himself, "What have you gotten yourself into this time? A lion with no teeth, waiting for the damned Americans to save the day. Is there no hope for you?"

    As if on cue, there was a sharp knock on the door.

    "Go away!" Bito barked, but the door opened anyway.

    "I hope you will pardon the intrusion, Mister President," said a gorgeous woman with dark blue hair. "but I've recently become aware of your current plight, and would like to take this time to properly introduce myself. My name is Lucia von Bardas, Prime Minister of the People's Republic of Latveria. My Lord Protector extends his greetings, and would like for me to give you an offer that both you and your people may find incredibly beneficial...."



    Castle Doom


    Gustav Hauptmann fretted over the specimen laid out on the slab, adjusting this, refitting that, poring over data readouts on the other. The Lord Protector was due in his lab any moment, and there were still so many finishing touches to put into place.

    When Lord Doom had assigned him this field of research, he thought little of it; those of the Zefiro gypsy clan were prone to bouts of superstition-- not that he would ever accuse the Lord Protector of such things, of course. Still, he was skeptical his task was even possible, and much of his time early on was spent thinking of how he was going to break the bad news to his master and live another day. Much to his surprise, when provided with the subject he needed, and the......unusual liquids delivered by Doom's shadowy agents, he saw results that even the most hardened rationalist mind could not deny.

    His progress was helped even more by reams of documents provided by Doom's agents, material he would have sworn was the stuff of fairy tale. After all, few believed that the old German doctor Victor Frankenstein even existed....and Gustav now had the man's personal notes at his disposal.

    Once he truly understood the subject matter, it was all a matter of putting the individual pieces together, figuratively speaking-- and rather literally, in some cases. There were setbacks, of course....some grotesque failures that amounted to valuable learning experiences. Now, however, he had a prototype worthy of the Lord Protector's use.

    "How fares the prototype, Hauptmann?"

    Gustav nearly jumped out of his skin-- he hadn't even heard Lord Doom enter the lab. Turning, he flinched a second time when he saw not one but three of the Lord's riveted masks staring down at him.....Doom had brought two of his robotic bodyguards, he realized after a second.

    "All goes according to your design, my Lord Protector," he said, shivering in his boots. "The progress we've made since you have so graciously provided us with Symkarian test-matter has outpaced our expectations."

    Doom glared at him for a moment, then down at the creature on the table.

    The subject had been properly preserved to prevent decomposition, but the body was still pale, and while Gustav had done what he could to make it presentable, many of its wounds were ghastly.

    Huge portions of the cadaver's limbs were surgically open, major nerve trunks laid bare and spliced with intricate circuitry. Shaped plates of black and green metal were held in place by a gantry of small robotic arms, ready to encase the body when activated.

    "I, erm, I suppose you wish to see a demonstration?"

    Doom said nothing, but fixed his stare on the dead man before them.

    "Very well, my Lord," Hauptmann said, clicking his heels together as he snapped to attention. "Computer! Activate Doomsman prototype!"

    The robotic array surrounding the slab sprang to life, a million mechanical whirs and buzzes filling the room as they affixed wires and cables into the dead man's body, fastening his non-functioning nervous system into a devilishly sophisticated battle-frame.

    Around the cadaver, a skin-tight sleeve of black muscle-like fibers were woven-- carbon nano-springs, exponentially stronger than human muscles. Over this, the robotic arms slipped on a body-sleeve of kevlar, then riveted plates of metal and ceramic armor into place on key points of the body.

    The cadaver's head remained uncovered as the slab rotated to an upright position and most of the robotic arms tucked themselves away. Three arms protruded out into their places-- two large, sinister-looking electrodes, one on either side of the head, and a scorpion-stinger-like appendage aimed at the back of the neck, a long thin needle at its end.

    As the slab reached a standing position, the stinger-arm jabbed hard into the cadaver's spine, the clear tubes on either side of the arm now pumping a thick, nearly fluorescent green fluid directly into the dead man's spine. At the same time, the electrodes clamped onto either side of the skull and the room filled with a loud, angry buzz as thousands of volts of electricity were pumped through the brain.

    The body began to spasm violently, straining with superhuman strength against the slab's restraints.

    "Only a reflex, my Lord," Hauptmann reassured Doom. "The suit's programming will assert control momentarily."

    Over the top of the slab was lowered a cruel, death's head mask in a dull gunmetal gray. For a moment, the dead man's eyes sprang open and he opened his mouth to scream.....but the mask clamped down over his head and muffled the voice.

    A few seconds later, the spasms stopped, and the creature was still. A few seconds more, and the restraints were released. The Doomsman prototype stepped down from the slab, and stood at attention for its master.

    Many would consider this creation....distasteful, to say the least. Unethical, offensive, perhaps an affront to whatever God placed the restrictions of mortality on man in the first place. Hauptmann cared not for these things, fearing only that he would offend his great Lord Protector by failing him.

    "We have over six thousand cadavers ready for conversion, thanks to the exploits in Symkaria," Gustav said proudly. "With the manufacturing crew working full-time, we expect to have the force ready a full three days ahead of schedule, my Lord!"

    Doom betrayed nothing in his body language, or the cold, impersonal malevolence in his eyes.

    "Make it a week ahead of schedule, Hauptmann," he said simply. "Your creations will be called to duty very soon...."
     
    #137 Andy C., Mar 2, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2015
  13. Eddie Brock

    Eddie Brock Golden Domer

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    Once inside the cockpit, Peter Quill slumped into the pilot's seat. The effects of the evening's alcohol were regrettably beginning to wear off, and a dull pain had begun to form behind the bridge of Quill's nose. As he rubbed at it, Peter began locking in the coordinates for their destination. The star system in question wasn't far. Traveling at the Milano's cruising speed, it wouldn't take them any more than half a Terran hour. Peter fumbled around the dashboard looking for anything to wet his whistle.

    Surprised, Peter sat himself upright and made an attempt to look professional. With one hand on the Milano's central control stick, he glanced over his shoulder at Sue. "Didn't hear you come up." When he saw the impatient look on her face, he shifted in his seat. "Look, I don't know the specifics of the job. Only what I've heard through the grapevine. But right now, it's our only lead," Quill reasoned. Getting up, he said, "Come on. I'll bring you and your friends up to speed."

    Once back in the central lounge, Quill cleared his throat. "We are presently on our way to the Antares system. There, we will meet a man named Kanjar Ro. I don't know him all that well, to tell the truth, but I know his reputation. He's been called a 'would-be despot' by some."

    That last bit raised some eyebrows in the room. Ben was the first to speak. "What business do you have a guy like that?"

    "Currently? None," Peter admitted, "but Ro's been looking for a crew capable of making an... acquisition for him."

    "An 'acquisition?'" Johnny repeated as though the word was foreign to him.

    Reed explained, "It's a euphemism."

    "You're a criminal," Sue stated matter-of-factly. "And you want us to be criminals, too."

    "'Criminal' has such a judgmental slant to it. I prefer the term 'outlaw,'" Quill offered, though it didn't seem to lighten Sue's mood. With a sigh, he added, "Look, if you know of any honest paying work this side of the galaxy, I'm all ears. But until such an opportunity arises, I'm telling you that this job is the only way we're going to get enough capital to get to Terra."

    "You understand our hesitance to partake in criminal activities, I trust?" Reed asked with all the casualness of a man asking how to split a dinner bill.

    "It's not for everybody, I get that. But I'm not some ruthless pirate," Quill insisted. "I have a code. I only steal from folks who can spare it, and I never hurt anybody who didn't try to hurt me first. It's just a simple snatch-and-grab. You guys are just there to provide a little extra muscle if things get dicey." He looked around the room to gauge the Terrans' level of support. "Whaddaya think?"
     
  14. Morden Man

    Morden Man Registered

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    Lex Luthor sat restlessly on the edge of the plush leather seat in his office as he watched the latest example of Superman’s heroism flashing across his television screen. His eyes were fixed on him and watched his every movement, eyeing everything from his sculpted body and immaculate hair to his easy smile. Everything about Superman made Luthor envious of him. He wasn’t sure how Superman’s powers worked and he wasn’t sure where he’d come from, but he was certain that he’d find both out soon enough. They adored him and showered him with their praises in a way that they’d never done for Lex despite all he’d done for them. Not one of them seemed concerned by the power he wielded and the destruction he might cause were he to turn on them. Let them fawn over him, Lex thought. They would come back to him soon enough when their saviour showed his true colours.

    From outside the footsteps of Lex’s bodyguard slash assistant sounded and she made her entrance into his office with a cordial nod. Her employer’s eyes stayed fixed on the screen and he seemed oblivious to her approach. As she reached his desk a line from Othello that seemed particularly relevant to his current predicament almost involuntarily came to Lex’s lips.

    “He hath a daily beauty in his life that makes me ugly.”

    Mercy smiled as if she recognised the quote.

    “Shakespeare.”

    It wasn’t until she spoke that Lex truly registered her presence. His eyes looked away from the screen for the first time since Superman had appeared on it and he turned the television off with a click of a button. Mercy stood before him, her rippling muscles almost visible through the formal clothes she was wearing. She was a specimen unlike any that Lex had ever seen before, deadly and beautiful, and she had averted more threats to his life than Lex cared to count. To think that Osborne had scoffed at him when he’d arrived t the last OsCorp gala with Mercy at his side. She was three times the bodyguard that any of the men Lex had hired before her had been.

    “Correct,” Lex said with a surprised smile. “You never fail to surprise me, Mercy.”

    Mercy’s cheeks reddened at the compliment. She knew her employer well enough to know that he didn’t hand those out often.

    “Thank you, sir.”

    Lex noted her appreciation and took the folder from her with a cordial nod. He waited for her to leave the room before he began to thumb his way through it. Inside were plans that Luthor had asked to be made up for a theoretical hostile takeover both from and of all of his competitors. That decrepit old man Osborne was no threat to him, Wayne was more concerned with chasing after supermodels, but Stark seemed to pose a real threat to LexCorp. The past few years had been kinder to Stark Industries than Lex cared to admit and where once LexCorp had owned a near monopoly over theoretical science, Stark had made genuine inroads into the field. LexCorp was even beginning to lose some contracts with the government to them. Stark would be dealt with in time, Lex thought.

    As much as he wanted to focus on business Lex couldn’t help but feel his mind drift back to the caped do-gooder on the front of every newspaper and on every television channel. Oh, how they fawned after him, how they adored him, all for talents that Lex could only assume he was born with. Were Lex’s talents God given? Did he luck into them? No, he had clawed his way up out of the dirt and made something out of nothing. Yet it was Superman they celebrated and not him.

    Lex set the folder down and sat up from his seat, walking slowly over to his office window and leaning up against it. He could feel the warmth of the sun’s rays against his skin as he pressed his arm against the large pane of glass. They were down there, the ordinary people, living ordinary lives and worrying about ordinary things. How he pitied them. They doddered about concerning themselves about mortgages and which sporting team that was unaware of their existence would win an arbitrary competition whilst men like Lex were left to concern themselves with the real issues. No, not men like Lex. There were no men like Lex. Only me, Lex thought with a contented smile.

    “What would you people do without me?”

    Silence. Deathly silence. One day Lex wouldn’t need to ask that question, others would ask it. Once he’d rid the world of Superman they would greet him with rapturous applause and admiration. As Lex stood there staring out across the city that he helped to put back on the map there came a gentle knock from his office door and Mercy stuck her head round once more. This time, his attention undivided, Lex turned to face her with an unimpressed look.

    “I’m sorry to interrupt you again, Mr. Luthor.”

    Lex sighed.

    “What is it this time? My meeting with Eiling isn’t for another fifteen minutes.”

    Mercy shook her head.

    “It’s not that,” she said nervously. “I have a Dr. Theo Adam from the Kahndaq division. I tried to tell him that you were busy but he insisted that you’d want to talk to him. He says there's been a breakthrough of some sort. Should I put him through? Or should I ask him to call back another time?”

    A broad smile appeared on Lex’s face. Kahndaq. It could only mean one thing.

    “From the sounds of it you had better put the man through.”
     
  15. Carnage27

    Carnage27 No one's puppet

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    Batman and Superman stood facing one another on a roof above Metropolis. Mere hours ago, the city was the site of the first confirmed contact with alien life as two horrible weapons crashed into the city and began to attempt to tear it apart looking for another one of their species, seemingly. If it wasn't for Superman, the destruction and death would have been catastrophic. Amazingly, he had managed to hold the aliens off until SHIELD came to evacuate civilians. The only fatalities were in the STAR Labs facility that seemed to be the invaders' only target. It could have been much worse in terms of loss of human life.

    Batman was incredibly impressed with how well the clearly untrained superhuman was able to take care of the threat. He had been watching Superman, as well as the other reports of the world's burgeoning superhuman population with great interest. He knew they were most likely the future of the planet. It would be a messy, and potentially bloody change, but mutants and metahumans were the future of the human race. Bruce wanted to make that change as peaceful as possible, which is why the reaction to the invasion worried him.

    The government was trying to pass the attack off as some mutant ploy, a story the dumb would believe and the smart would latch onto because the other option was too frightening. It would galvanize even more prejudices against people that had no hand in this. Bruce hated to see innocents suffer for the fear of those in power.

    But even more than that, he was worried about the reaction to Superman's heroics. By all accounts, the city would have been leveled without him. Yet there were people questioning whether or not he caused all of this by simply existing. It was a preposterous idea, but it was out there in the ether. It was the same question some in Gotham asked about Batman himself. It was the question that drove the Justice Society into retirement all those years ago. Bruce didn't buy it. Superman could be a symbol. He could be the hope the world so desperately lacked for so long. He and the people like him could end conflicts. There were profits in conflict, however. That's why seeds of doubt would always be planted against people who could change things for the better.

    "So you are real," Superman said after a few moments of silence. He had heard the stories coming from Gotham of a caped vigilante dispensing justice in a city that long forgot what the word meant. But they were still largely rumors and hearsay. Seeing the man in the flesh in front of him was impressive. He could see how the Bat was so effective. "You're a bit further south than you're usually seen. What's the problem?"

    "The problem is we're marked men," Batman got to the point. "I don't know if you've seen the reaction to our new friends showing up, but there's more talk about whether your the problem than the actual threat. I've seen it all over too. Gotham with me. New York with the so-called Spider-Man. The X-Men. It's not a new phenomenon."

    "I didn't save everyone, though."

    The Man of Steel was despondent on that fact, and Batman had to admire that. They were cut from the same clothe, even if they seemed to be on opposite ends of the spectrum in how they showed it.

    "I've had my share of failures," Batman assured him. "It comes with the line of work. The point is we try. We go out there to support the people who can't stick up for themselves. We go out there and try to make our world a better place. You could be a real symbol for people, a face of a new generation. I think there are people out there that don't want that to happen."

    "You think the backlash is planned?" Superman's eyebrows raised. It seemed overly suspicious, even for a vigilante who stuck to the shadows.

    "I'm not suggesting some vast conspiracy, no. There may be entities with a rooting interest in keeping heroes out of the spotlight," Batman's mind went back to the power-hungry Doom, "but I don't think we have to worry about that yet. What we need is to continue protecting the innocent."

    "I was never going to stop," Superman grinned broadly at the Bat. It was a look that even inspired confidence in Bruce Wayne's fairly cynical heart. That was the real power of Superman. "But I think there's something else on your mind."

    "It's clear that we have more threats on our plate after today," Batman nodded. "Ones that could overtake us one by one."

    Superman began to catch on, "So what? You want to team up?"

    "Not necessarily. But we need a plan. A plan for a foe no single hero could withstand. A plan to save the planet and the people from something none of us can imagine. It may be overkill, but it's better to be prepared."

    "I don't disagree. I was a boy scout after all. Always be prepared!"

    "Was?" Batman deadpanned before he heard something suspicious.

    As the vigilante tensed up, Superman whispered, "I heard it, too"

    Batman keyed a command into one of his gauntlets, and the floodlights of the Batwing exploded to life, dousing the rooftop in a bright, white light. As Batman and Superman's eyes adjusted, they found themselves surrounded by people dressed in uniform black garb. It had hints of Asian, Middle Eastern, and African armor melded into a singular look unlike anything Superman had ever seen.

    Batman, on the other hand, knew it well. The League of Assassins had come to Metropolis.

    "Well, well," a menacing voice came from behind Wayne, "the Batman is here. That's unexpected. You shall make a fine additional prize for the Demon's Head."

    Batman dropped his cowl's visors over his eyes and whispered, "Don't look into his eyes," to Superman before turning to face the Gorgon, "There was only one Ra's al Ghul, Gorgon. And he's long gone."

    "You know this guy?" Superman mumbled.

    "Yet our master out maneuvers the world," Gorgon laughed. "And soon he will have your heads above his throne."

    Having heard enough, Batman executed another command on his gauntlet, that sent the Batwing vaulting into the sky with a quick takeoff. The force caught the League members by surprise, sending them tumbling back. With the time to talk, Batman said to Superman, "Take care of Gorgon."

    "What about you!?" Superman asked.

    "I'll be busy with the rest of them."
     
  16. Morden Man

    Morden Man Registered

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    I’d learn from the news that the shooter was a man by the name of Floyd Lawton, better known as Deadshot. Lawton was an assassin wanted the world over for shooting businessmen, politicians, celebrities, criminals, and pretty much every other type of person you could think of if there was money at the end of it. Footage of the two of us tumbling out of the window would be replayed over and over again for the rest of the evening.

    Without so much as a second’s thought I reach for the remote and switch the television off at the mention of Urich’s name. From the room behind me I can hear Ted’s heart monitor beeping away and his soft breathing, it was steady despite Ted’s condition still being critical. The neck wound itself hadn’t been too serious, but he’d lost a lot of blood before Cross had arrived and he wasn’t too sure when he’d wake up.

    Because of my actions I’d almost lost another person that I loved. First it had been Angela, then Austin, and now I’d nearly lost Ted. I put this suit on in the hopes of keeping the people I loved safe and so far all it had seemed to do was put them in even more danger than before.

    Peter Cross came striding out of Ted’s hospital room. The gloves on his hands were still caked in blood, his overalls were covered in it, but his pulse and breathing were as steady as they ever were. As usual Peter was an oasis of calm, he hadn’t seem stressed whatsoever whilst seeing to Ted’s wounds and he seemed calm now.

    “We should talk about your encounter with Deadshot. If what you say about him is true then he’s as dangerous a foe as we’ve been up against. He’s out there with information on all of us and could strike at any time. We need to do something about him.”

    I shake my head and sigh.

    “You know what I realised earlier? I couldn’t remember the last time I told Ted that I loved him. I’m not even sure if I’ve ever told him. Deadshot can be damned, the most important person in the world to me is ”

    Peter smiles softly and places a hand on my leg. Though his body tells a completely different picture than his doctorly bedside manner was meant to convey, for the first time since I’d met Cross he seemed nervous. Performing potentially life-saving surgery didn’t seem to faze him in the slightest, but the situation with Deadshot clearly had him worried.

    “That’s all well and good,” he says with a nod. “But if we don’t bring Deadshot down he’s going to bring us and everything we’ve worked for crashing down around us, Matt.”

    I could tell he wasn’t going to let it go and couldn’t understand why I wasn’t as concerned as he was at Lawton still being out there somewhere. Even without his fingers if he wanted revenge, he’d stop at nothing to get it from me, Cross, and anyone else that he felt had done him wrong. All I wanted to do was focus on what was in my control and that was that I wanted to be there when Ted woke up.

    “Deadshot can wait. The most important person in my world is sat in there recovering from a wound that he got because of my carelessness, I’m going to make sure I’m there when he opens his eyes.”

    Peter’s pulse begins to race slightly and I can sense that his mood has shifted from worry to irritation. It was a side to him that I’d never seen before.

    “What about this don’t you understand? We aren’t safe, Ted isn’t safe, what we’re building here is all for nothing if something isn’t done about Deadshot. He needs to be silenced. For good.”

    I arch my eyebrow at Peter’s choice of words.

    “For good? What the hell are saying?” I ask, as if I don’t already know the answer to the question I’m about to ask. “It sounds an awful lot like you want me to kill Floyd Lawton.”

    Peter sits in silence for a few moments and places his hands in his head.

    “What else is there?” Cross says with a sigh. “If he tells anyone then we’re ruined. Everything I’ve worked for my entire life and everything we’ve been working for since the second you put that suit on will turn to ashes in our mouths, Matt. There’s no other choice.”

    I shake my head in disbelief at what I’m hearing. I’d been lying if I said that I hadn’t been relieved when I thought Lawton hadn’t survived tackling me out of that building. A world without Deadshot would not be such a bad thing, but to murder him in cold blood was another thing altogether and I could have no part in that. It weighed heavily enough on my conscious that Austin had murdered his father to somehow make up for what he’d done to me. I could have no part in this. I couldn’t put on the suit anymore if this was where Cross was going to take it.

    “There’s always a choice.”

    Peter goes to speak but I place my hand in the air and shake my head.

    “I’m out,” I say in a voice that brooks no argument. “I can’t do this anymore. I was outmatched out there against Deadshot today and I was lucky to come away from it with my life. Now this? Killing someone? We got into this to help people, not kill them. I’m done with this.”

    Cross is scared and he has every reason to be scared. Lawton was out there and wasn’t going away anytime soon, I’d staked my life on this whole thing, and Peter had staked his reputation. But I wasn’t going to murder a man to protect someone’s reputation. For all my flaws, for all the things I’d done wrong in my life, I was not a murderer and there was nothing that could change that. Nothing.

    “You gave me your word you’d see this thing through to the end.”

    I nod.

    “I gave my word to a man I thought would never ask me to murder someone.”

    The words cut him deeply and I can tell he’s still upset as he stands up from his seat. He pulls the blood-caked gloves from his hands, assures me he’ll send nurses tomorrow to see to Ted’s needs, and then nods cordially before walking out. Underneath it I can feel his anger bubbling beneath the surface. I stand up and take a glance behind me through the pane of glass at Ted lying in bed with a thick bandage over the wound on his neck. My thoughts drift to the pride in his voice as he’d called me Daredevil earlier on and I smile, saying a silent prayer under my breath that he’d pull through. I hoped he’d be as proud of me for walking away from it all.
     
  17. Misfit

    Misfit Disciple of The Dork Arts

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    It feels like I'm being shaken down by the guy with the big 'S' on his chest, except I can't imagine him having such a bad temper. I guess I gave the wrong answer, or just said it the wrong way. Either way, it looks like I'm a bit out of my league.

    "You repulsive worm," a mushroom cloud seemed to burst in his eyes, and his voice lingered with the sizzle of electricity, "I will remove your intestinal tract from you if you do not tell me-what happened to Abin Sur!"

    "I just told you, he gave it to me when he died. It's not that complicated."

    "Mammal," he spat, "you are unworthy of this ring. If Abin Sur supposed that you should possess it, then he died as a delusional fool." In a grandiose gesture, he flapped his arms and smiled devilishly. "I can't imagine why the great Abin Sur would honor a Terran of all options."

    "Two things. One: I never wanted this piece of jewelry, you can have it for all I care," I waved him off, roughly throwing my hands. And, "Two: You can put me down and leave."

    After what I'm guessing was him thinking about it, he dropped me like a sack of potatoes. If I hadn't been treated so roughly already, that may have been shocking. If my nerves hadn't gone numb, it would be painful. But he kept doing anything to flaunt his frickin' superpowers.

    ******.

    He lowered himself, so he was hovering just about two feet above me, rotating around me like a satellite. So I did what any sensible astronaut with a lick of the common touch would do.

    I punched that jerk straight in the junk.

    "Hawahahahoo!" the purple freak yelped, caught completely off guard, he dropped to the ground and keeled over. Before he could defend himself or anything sensible like that, I took one good, solid swing and stamped my knuckles dead center on his forehead. So the guy went out cold.

    Crumpled on the ground, I took a look at that black, white, and green uniform he was wearing. Then I made another solid decision, I slipped the ring off his finger. Figured he owed me one anyways, with mine, or 'Auburn Slur's', probably laying somewhere in the corn. Now I've got the bodies of two purple people from another planet to deal with.

    I don't really know how to use this thing, but this arrogant showboat deserves to feel every mistake I'm about to make.

    BlAm!

    With my ring steadied beneath him, I concentrated and stretched out my consciousness, trying to extend my reach to lift the guy up, up, and away. But instead I spat out a slug of green laser light with splash damage that chucked him a solid thirty feet. When I caught up with him, I tried again, with a bit more restraint. The result was similar, except my blast took the shape of my hand.

    "It's a lot easier than dragging him off," I muttered. It was like skipping a stone off of a pond.

    With so much of the field between me and my truck, I had plenty of time to learn to throw my assailant. The third time I accidentally smashed the fist into his unconscious form. And the fourth. And the fifth, actually the last time was on purpose, but that's something.. I mean, I actually did it on purpose.

    Having learned that particular move well, I slowly put out my extra hand, and closed my fingers around him. Gripping him like a life-size action figure. Like an ornery child, I practiced holding out my hand, and whipping it back. My extra-anatomical motor control was getting better with every passing minute. So I took off running, holding out the green hand in front of me while I shot back to the truck before dumping the breathless body in the back, beside his acquaintance. Dropping my heel on the pedal, I took off and headed for the highway.

    "Coast City, here I come. Then I'll see about Suzie."
     
  18. Carnage27

    Carnage27 No one's puppet

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    The four looked at one another. In reality, there was only one choice to be made. They had to go with Quill's plan. He was the only one that would even consider helping them all the way out here, and as far as they knew he was the only one who even knew where Earth, or Terra was.

    "Hell, I'm in," Johnny shrugged. "But you're showing me where to find one of those pink chicks."

    "Shut up, hothead," Ben grumbled. "I'm with you."

    "Yes, it looks like it's our only option," Reed nodded.

    Sue shrugged, "Hey, it might be fun. If I'm going to die, I might as well go out in a blaze of glory."

    "Lady, I could not have said it better myself," Quill had a huge, dopey smile painted on his face. "I'll get us to where we're going."

    **********

    Kree Science Facility
    Outer Large Magellanic Cloud
    Kree Empire

    The Milano floated silently out of the sensor range of the orbiting science facility where Quill said their target was located. The facility itself was fairly massive, and looked to be well defended. Sue shot the space pirate a sideways glance, "You said this was a simple snatch and grab."

    "Well, this is about as simple as it could get with regards to stealing something from a high profile Kree facility," he smiled meekly.

    "The Kree," Reed stroked his chin. "I heard Rocket mentioned them when we first woke up on Warworld. They're an empire, no?"

    "An Empire?" Johnny lamented. "Terrific. Let's hope they don't have a Darth Vader."

    "So you haven't heard of Ronan, then?" Quill asked offhandedly as he paid attention to the ship's controls.

    "Who's Ronan?"

    "Huh? Oh, never mind. Don't worry about it."

    "Quill," Sue shook him from his distracted state, "you mind telling us the actual plan? Or are we going in even more blind than I thought we were."

    "Plan? Well, from what Rocket told me, y'all are some sort of super team," Quill shrugged. "I figure we just go in, bust some heads, find the weapon we were sent to pick up, and hightail it out of there."

    "Well, that's a tactical masterwork," Reed was unimpressed, and Sue actually laughed at his joke before she could stop herself.

    "Seriously,"
    she shook her head. "That's it?"

    "Listen," Quill explained, "the Kree are powerful, smart, and well equipped. But they're also full of themselves. They'll never expect a direct assault. By the time they know what hit them, we'll have what we're after, and you'll be on your way to Terra."

    "Like you said, Sis," Johnny slapped her on the shoulder, "blaze of glory! Take us in, Quill."
     
  19. Morden Man

    Morden Man Registered

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    [​IMG]

    Shiruta, Kahndaq

    Down the stairs of his private jet descends one Lex Luthor with his ever-present bodyguard Mercy Graves by his side. Lex is wearing an expensive white linen suit with a pastel orange shirt underneath it. He wasn’t fond of linen but one would be masochistic to wear anything heavier than it in the Kahndaqian heat. Even as he made his way down the steps and onto the runway Lex could feel the searing heat invading his ever pore and sweat had already begun to roll down his forehead. At the foot of the stairs waited the Kahndaqian delegation, headed up by President Asim Muhunnad. There were very few men in the world whose arrival would demand such a welcome but Lex Luthor was certainly one of them. Especially given that Luthor had helped Muhunnad take power some six years past. Muhannad, clad all in military garb, made his way to greet Lex as he finally arrived at the bottom of the steps.

    “Welcome to Kahndaq, Mr. Luthor, it’s a pleasure to finally meet you in person.”

    “The pleasure is all mine, General,” Lex said with a smile. “<Or should I say Mr. President?>"

    Muhunnad looked shocked to hear Luthor speaking in his native tongue. Most shocking of all was the impeccable accent with which he spoke. It was as if Luthor had spoken Arabic his entire life.

    “<I didn’t know you could speak Arabic.>”

    Lex smiled wryly.

    “<I taught myself this morning.>”

    Half impressed and half bemused General Muhunnad nodded.

    “<You are every bit as impressive as they say,>” General Muhunnad smiles. “<Come! Let us not stand on a runway like baggage handlers. I have prepared a feast in honour of your arrival.>”

    Muhunnad directed Lex and Mercy in the direction of a limousine that was waiting nearby on the runway and followed after them. Luthor watched as the rest of the Kahndaqian delegation waited unmoving on the runway as the limousine rolled out of the airport. As they made their way through the streets of Shiruta they were showered in flowers and sweets by the Kahndaqian people and given a welcome befitting living gods rather then mere mortals. It wasn’t hard to see the thinly veiled fear behind their eyes. Muhunnad was as brutal a dictator as the region had ever seen and it wasn’t unheard of for people to go missing in the middle of the night for failing to applaud his speeches enthusiastically enough. Muhunnad was a useful idiot, Lex thought, but as long as he was my useful idiot that was better than the alternative.

    Eventually Muhannad’s limousine made its way to a gaudy palace that had once housed the ancient kings of Kahndaq. Here it was said that Black Adam, the god-king so central to Kahndaqian history and culture, had lived and ruled Kahndaq for centuries. The times of plenty that Adam was purported to have seen over had long since ended for Kahndaq and now the country struggled with shortages of water and food. It was only with the support of men like Lex Luthor that Muhunnad clung to power and was able to feed, clothe, and house much of the Kahndaqian populace. At least enough of them to ensure that he remained in control. One would be mistake for thinking that times had never been so bountiful for the country as plate after plate of exotic Kahndaqian cuisine was brought out for Lex to eat. Dancers, gymnasts, and all forms of entertainment were brought before the billionaire and both he and Muhunnad supped on the finest of the country’s wine for hours.

    “Leave us.”

    With one gesture the dozens of servers and entertainers filed out of the room and left Lex alone with Muhunnad, save for Mercy Graves stood in the corner of the room casting a watchful eye over both men. The General glanced at her for a moment as if to suggest she too exit the room but Lex shook his head forcefully.

    “She stays.”

    The General smiled. It was the smile of a man that was not used to having his demands be turned down, tinged with defeat, but unable to do anything about it. Good, Lex thought to himself, let there be no misconceptions about the balance of power here.

    “I hope the festivities have been to your liking, Mr. Luthor, but I believe it is time for the pair of us to turn to business. Is it not?”

    “I could not agree more,” Lex smiled. “What are we here for if not that?”

    Muhunnad poured himself another glass of mine and drank from it thirstily. He ran the sleeve of his military uniform through his thick black moustache to wipe free the wine that had become caked in it. Both men knew what had brought Lex to Kahndaq. Dr. Theo Adam’s excavation had been going on for several years and, though Muhunnad was unaware of it, he’d finally found something. Lex couldn’t risk the Kahndaqian forgetting where his bread was buttered and taking over the site.

    “There are those within my regime that believe this excavation of yours to be an incursion into Kahndaqian sovereignty.”

    To that Lex only nodded.

    “What do you believe, General?”

    “I do not put weight into such things,” Asim smiled. “If you wish to waste your time digging amongst old ruins in the dessert, that is your prerogative. You are welcome to whatever dusty old pots and pans you may find out there. As long as you honour our agreement.”

    “You wound me,” Lex muttered. “When you came to me and asked for financial support, did I hesitate for even a moment? My word is my bond, General. You’ll have your payment and moreover you’ll continue to have my support for the foreseeable future.”

    There is a lengthy silence as Muhunnad weighs Luthor’s words. There was no disputing that the westerner had been a staunch supporter of his regime over the years and that without his support Muhunnad’s coup may well have failed. Luthor had never before failed to honour any of the agreements the two men had struck with one another and despite their not having met prior to this he’d always thought of Lex as a man of honour. But something about this worried him, what was so important that Lex Luthor himself would come to Kahndaq? Had they found something? With a slight shake of his head Muhunnad banished the doubts from his head.

    “I am glad to hear that.”

    It was music to Lex’s ears. He stood up from his seat and patted his stomach as if fulfilled.

    “Now if you’ll excuse me it’s been a long day and I have a very long day ahead of me.”

    Mercy walked with her employer to the exit of the large dining room, as she reached to hold open the heavy door to allow Luthor throw it the sound of Muhunnad’s voice came echoing towards them.

    “What did you find? Out there in the dessert?”

    Lex turned to face his host.

    “It is like you said, General, little more than a few pots and pans.”

    If only he knew, Lex thought, what Theo Adam had found out there in the dessert was going to change everything. He would waste no time in the morning heading to the excavation site so that could confirm his suspicions in person. It was the Scarab. And with it Luthor would have the power of a god in his very hands. Once he worked out how to harness its power there was nothing that he wouldn’t be able to do, no enemy he wouldn’t be able to break, and that meant that soon enough Superman would be humbled before the whole world.
     
  20. Eddie Brock

    Eddie Brock Golden Domer

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    We should do something, Officer Mattie Franklin thinks to herself as she chews at her fingernails. She leans against the hood of the squad car, staring past the police blockade at the warehouse across the way. Alternating red and blue lights dance along the broadside of the building as muffled gunfire rings out through the night. Mattie glances over her shoulder at her partner, Sam Bullit, who's having a smoke with a fellow officer. The two men smile and laugh while Mattie tries to quiet the butterflies in her stomach. The ground shudders once more, and Mattie immediately gets to her feet.

    "How long are we just going to stand here?" she calls out, getting Bullit's attention.

    Her stone-faced partner takes a long drag of his cigarette and exhales slowly. "SWAT's on the way," he replies, parroting the answer he gave the last time Mattie asked him. He nods towards the warehouse. "But if you want to risk your neck for a bunch of lowlifes, feel free to help yourself." After one last drag, Bullit lets the cigarette fall to the ground. As he stomps it out with the toe of his shoe, he remarks, "You ask me, I say we let 'em fight it out and clean up whoever's left at the end."

    Mattie frowns. At times, her partner's bitter cynicism is a tough pill to swallow. Another shockwave rumbles through the barricade, and Mattie turns her attention back to the building. They're going to bring the whole warehouse down. She had been there last week, seen the aftermath of the robbery. Left unchecked, this so-called "Shocker" could be a one-man demolition crew.

    "Look! Up there!" an officer shouts. Near the roof of the warehouse, a colorful figure swings into view. Landing with a flourish, the shape disappears behind a smokestack. The throng of police officers begins buzzing, with one man asking, "What the Hell was that?"

    "I have no earthly idea," Bullit admits.

    "I do," Mattie announces. A smirk spreads across her face, and she can feel the name on her lips. Spider-Man.

    * * *

    The phrase "out of the frying pan and into the fire" has never been more appropriate. If I thought slipping out of Midtown could grant me a reprieve from tonight's headaches, then that notion is quickly squashed by the scene before me. The standoff at this warehouse is a touch more tense than the one I left back at Homecoming - though Flash Thompson wasn't wielding a semi-automatic rifle, so I suppose the comparison isn't really fair. Beneath me, gun-toting thugs cower behind shipping containers as everyone's favorite quarrelsome quilted-quicker-picker-upper fires off concussive blast after concussive blast in their direction. I hate to stick my neck out for criminals, but I have serious reservations about the structural integrity of this warehouse standing up to the Shocker's onslaught.

    "Fellas, no need to solve your problems with violence!" I call out as I twirl into view. I land soundlessly on top of a stack of shipping containers, folding my arms over my knees. "Let me run home and get my trusty 'sharing stick,' and we can talk this out."

    Shocker steps forward and tilts his head slightly. "Well, well. Look who scraped himself up off the floor after our last bout," he remarks. I swear he almost sounds a little impressed, but maybe I'm just hearing what I want to hear. Shocker cracks his neck and flexes his fingers. "If you wanted to die so badly, all you had to do was ask."

    I lean forward, ready to pounce at a moment's notice. "You beat me, Shock. No denying that. But I call it 'beginner's luck.' I'd love to see you try and tag me again."

    The fabric of Shocker's mask tightens, and I'm sure he's smiling to himself. "You might regret that," he announces, and I see his thumb snap into position. He pivots, lifting a gauntlet at me, and fires a vibro-blast in my direction. Of course, by the time it connects, I've already vaulted away from danger. The warehouse is quite a bit roomier than the bank where Shocker and I had our first encounter, so I should be able to make use of the extra space.

    I feel the telltale vibrations of a near-miss from one of Shocker's blasts and turn my head in time to see a tumbling avalanche of shipping containers behind me. The men on the ground scramble to get clear. Shocker's raised a second gauntlet and looks to be lining up a shot, so I twist my torso and fire a web-line in a new direction. My body torques as I spin around, narrowly avoiding a vibro-blast aimed a few feet ahead of me. "If this life of crime doesn't work out, I wouldn't recommend skeet-shooting as an alternative!" I mock.

    "Laugh while you can, bug," Shocker growls. He raises both gauntlets and fires a continuous blast trailing behind me. I'm just a hair faster than his aim. "One good hit will take the air out of your lungs," he promises.

    It's not gonna do to simply avoid Shocker's attacks. Eventually, I'm going to have to take him down. Of course, with that ridiculous outfit of his giving him added protection from my attacks, I'm not quite sure how to get that accomplished. One thing's for sure: I don't want to get tagged at close range again. A handful of cracked ribs is enough for one week, I think. I'll have to get behind him somehow. Use these shipping containers for cover. With that in mind, I anchor a new web-line and swing in a long arch close to the floor.

    Pulling hard, I duck behind a stack of shipping containers and come to a stop. Shocker punches a hole through the stack where I would've been, and the containers tumble through the air. "Come on out, spider. Meet your end with dignity."

    "Dignity? You clearly don't know me well enough yet!" I answer back loudly enough that he can pinpoint my location. A breath later, I sprint for the open hole in the stack. The crash behind me signals that Shocker took the bait. With a leap, I twist through the hole and fire a web at Shocker's head. As soon as the line goes taut, I give a sharp tug and propel myself fist-first at Shocker's jaw. The punch connects before he can turn himself around, and we both fall to the floor. I'm on my feet immediately, knowing the retaliation strike is going to come. Sure enough, Shocker clips me as I try to swing away, and I go sprawling through the air, crashing on the other side of the warehouse.

    "Is it really him?" a gravelly voice asks.

    "Guess it must be," another responds.

    "Thought Silvermane said he's a myth," a third chirps in.

    "This look like a myth to you?" the second challenges.

    "We should scrub him out while he's down," the first offers.

    I open my eyes to see three men huddled behind a shipping container, staring at me as I lay on the ground. One of them steps forward and produces a pistol from his belt. As he moves to take aim, I tap my fingers to my palm and send a spray of webbing into his eyes. The other two men quickly scramble for their guns, and I roll away from my spot. Before either of them can level a gun, I connect a web-line to the ankle of the far one. "I help save your lousy warehouse, and this is the thanks I get?" With one tug, I pull the far man to the floor and knock over the nearer one in the process. After webbing them both to the ground, I shake my head. "You people seriously suck."

    Just then, the shipping containers next to me erupt, and I cover my head. Shocker is standing on the other side, gauntlets drawn. As he opens fire, I launch myself into a back handspring. The vibro-blasts ripple over my chest, shattering the window to an office behind me. Shocker corrects his aim, and I flip backwards through the open glass. The wall explodes as Shocker continues his pursuit. I land behind a large desk. With a heave, I toss it at the Shocker's head, and he moves to blast it out of the air. I spring myself forward and roll between Shocker's legs, giving him a swift kick at the back of his knee. He crumples and misses his shot, and the desk collides with his chest. He hits the ground hard.

    With a groan, Shocker rolls himself onto his stomach and begins to stand. I make a run for him, connecting with a kick to the jaw before he can get his bearings. As he fires an errant blast in my direction, I spy a metal letter opener by the overturned desk. Rolling, I palm the letter opener as Shocker gets to his feet. "Stay still, little bastard. Time to end this."

    "Couldn't agree more."

    The Shocker's first vibro-blast misses me by inches. I leap to the side to avoid the second. All the while, I'm closing the distance between us. Shocker raises an arm to fire a third blast, and I plant the letter opener deep into the shell of the gauntlet as I duck beneath his hand. The device begins to vibrate and crackle with blue energy. Shocker grunts and pulls at his arm. He's unable to shut the gauntlet down. Desperately, he levels it at me. The gauntlet glows, hums, and then---

    CRACK! Shocker's arm goes limp like a wet noodle as the damaged gauntlet backfires, shattering his wrist. He stumbles backwards, and I waste no time pressing the advantage. Shocker raises his one good arm at me, but I merely bat it away. The vibro-blast craters the floor beside us. I unleash a lightning quick combination of punches to his body, finishing it off with a sharp uppercut. Shocker falls to the ground, beaten.

    "Like I said, beginner's luck."

    Before webbing Shocker to the floor, I remove his gauntlets and place them a safe distance away - just to be safe. Then, I swing around the rest of the warehouse looking for stragglers, but the other lowlifes must've ran off amidst all the excitement. With any luck, they'll have run right into the police blockade around the building that I saw when I swung in. Before leaving, I take a second to survey my surroundings and admire the work I've done. I managed to tell off the most popular girl at Midtown High School and defeat my first ever supervillain, all in one night! Yep, for once in my life, everything's coming up Parker...
     
  21. Eddie Brock

    Eddie Brock Golden Domer

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    Peter Quill flicked a switch on the Milano's dashboard, and the lights inside the cockpit went dark. Quill's brow furrowed in silent determination as he began easing the throttle forward. The ship lurched ahead and began drifting towards the massive satellite housing the Kree facility. Quill leaned forward in the captain's chair and pressed another button. Outside, there was a flash of light, and then the facility's power seemed to flicker.

    "Alright, that pulse'll knock out their sensors for a few seconds. Hang onto something," the captain instructed. He pushed hard on the throttle, and the Milano raced towards the satellite. At the last possible moment, Quill tugged the throttle back and swung the ship around, docking gently against the facility's exterior. "Ship's yours, 'Rora. Keep the engines warm for us."

    Quill led the four Terrans down to the Milano's docking bay. There, he shed his red leather trenchcoat and began fastening his blue insulated suit. He had been able to scrounge up helmets and oxygen tanks for his new crew, enough to get them from the Milano to the inside of the facility - though Ben had struggled to fit his head inside the helmet, much to Johnny's amusement. "Ready?" Quill asked as he closed the faceplate on his mask.

    The five pirates descended from the docking bay and floated towards the solid exterior wall of the Kree facility. There, a safe distance from the Milano, Star-Lord produced a set of charges from his belt. He handed one to Johnny, saying over the commlink, "Here, kid. Try not to blow your hand off." He pointed to a spot nearby on the wall and set his own charge. Then, he motioned for everyone to get back. "This is it, folks. Once we blow these charges, every Kree in this facility is gonna know we're here. Last chance to back out."

    The four Terrans exchanged a glance. Reed turned his attention back to Star-Lord. "We're with you, Quill."

    Star-Lord nodded. At the press of a button, the charges exploded soundlessly. A hole appeared in the wall of the Kree facility, and debris began rushing out into the vacuum of space. Star-Lord and the four Terrans swam against the tide and entered the facility. The five slipped past a closing blast door and found themselves beholden to gravity once more. The Terrans stood up and removed their helmets. Quill kept his mask on.

    "Alright, we're in," Sue announced. "Where's this weapon?"

    "Kanjar Ro provided me with blueprints for this facility," Quill answered. Inside his helmet, he brought up a three-dimension overlay of the blueprints. The room holding the intended cargo flashed red in the distance. "That way," Star-Lord said, pointing. Shouts and footsteps were headed their way. He reached down to his belt and gripped his two quad-blasters. "Here they come."

    "Bring it on!" Johnny shouted, his body erupting with orange flames. Beside him, Ben cracked his neck and clenched his fists. Sue's lower half began to lighten and vanish. Reed, to his credit, appeared completely collected as he cracked his knuckles - his fingers stretching outwards from his palms to an improbable length. Beneath his helmet, Star-Lord smiled. Maybe they did stand a chance after all.
     
  22. Eddie Brock

    Eddie Brock Golden Domer

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    [FONT=&quot]"Nice to see you again, ma'am."

    Agent Sasha Bordeaux stood a little straighter as Steve Rogers stepped into the elevator. Gone were the vibrantly-colored jogging clothes she had worn when she first met Steve. Now, Director Fury's second-in-command looked every bit the part in her standard issue navy uniform. Every inch of her was neatly polished, down to the firearm on her hip - though the stiffness of her holster suggested to Steve that it hadn't seen much use lately, if ever. Still, Bordeaux regarded Steve with a polite smile as she pressed the button for the appropriate floor.

    As the elevator began to descend into the depths of the Triskelion, Bordeaux cleared her throat. "Listen, Captain Rogers, about the business back in New York..."

    "Water under the bridge, Agent Bordeaux," Steve assured her, flashing a warm grin to drive the point home. He turned his attention to the rapidly declining numbers atop the elevator door. "You were only doing your job, after all."

    Bordeaux nodded, clearly relieved to find that the super-soldier didn't hold a grudge. The two rode in silence for the remainder of the descent. Finally, the elevator lurched to a stop, and the chrome doors slid open once more. Steve stepped back and motioned for Agent Bordeaux to exit first. As he followed, Steve found himself feeling very claustrophobic. The surrounding walls were colorless concrete, and pipes ran the length of the ceiling. The hallway curved to the left slightly, the monotony occasionally broken by a heavy steel door here and there. Steve tried to peer in the small windows as they passed, but the glass was too opaque and the rooms too dimly lit.

    Eventually, the hallway dead-ended at a door. "Here we are," Agent Bordeaux announced as she produced her ID badge from her belt. She waved the card past a scanner, and the door opened with a hiss. This time, it was Agent Bordeaux who stopped and made room for Steve to pass. "Here's where we house STRIKE Team Alpha."[/FONT]

    Mercifully, the adjoining room wasn't nearly as claustrophobic as the basement hallway from which they came. While it was still built from the same lifeless concrete, the room was about half as long as a football field and nearly as wide. The ceiling was easily twice as high as that in the hallway, giving Steve some much appreciated breathing room. In all, the size and shape of the room - along with the scattered training equipment within it - gave Steve the impression of a gym. An impression only enhanced by the individual members of STRIKE Team Alpha going about their various routines as Steve and Bordeaux entered.

    A few steps from the door, Steve came across a dark-skinned man doing one-armed pushups. One arm behind his back, the man lowered his chest to the floor one last time before popping to his feet with a broad smile. Though the front of his shirt was drenched with sweat, he dried his palm against his shorts and extended a friendly hand towards Steve. "Welcome! Good to have another veteran on the team," the man proclaimed cheerfully.

    "You served?" Steve asked as he accepted the man's firm handshake.

    "Army," the man nodded. "101st Airborne Division. Name's Sam Wilson." After breaking the handshake, Sam took a step back and put his hands on his hips. With a shake of his head, he gave a low whistle and laughed, saying, "It really is you, isn't it? I can't believe it! You're a legend, man. Is it really true that you dropped with the 101st over Normandy?"

    Steve shook his head. "The Germans think I did. In reality, I was dropped behind enemy lines three days prior. We coordinated our attacks so that once our forces hit the beach, I took the German embankments from behind by surprise," he explained, the memory of that early morning returning vividly.

    Sam kept smiling gregariously. "Still, man, so cool to have you!"

    "Sam handles reconnaissance and aerial support for the team," Agent Bordeaux explained.

    Sam gave a nod. "That's right. I'll be your eye in the sky on missions."

    Agent Bordeaux led Steve further into the room with Sam in tow. The group came to a stop behind a woman sitting cross-legged on the floor, a bare katana laid across her lap. Her head bowed, the woman's straight, black hair obscured her face from view. She was as still as a statue. "This is Tatsu Yamashiro," Agent Bordeaux offered, "STRIKE Team Alpha's infiltration expert and saboteur."

    "I look forward to working with you, Miss Yamashiro," Steve said politely. The woman did not move. Either she had not heard him, or she was too deep in meditation to respond. Either way, Steve stood a little straighter and folded his arms behind his back. He watched the woman closely, but she still betrayed no signs of movement.

    "Don't take it personal, Cap," Sam advised. "She's not much of a talker."

    Moving along, Steve and Bordeaux crossed the room to a computer terminal where another dark-skinned man stood. Three metallic spheres floated in the air, occasionally revolving around his head - seemingly of their own accord. As the duo approached, the man inclined his head slightly before turning his full attention back to the terminal. "Hello again, Sasha," the man said.

    Agent Bordeaux shifted on her heels at that. She lowered her gaze slightly, saying, "Steve, meet Michael Holt. He handles technology, communications, and operational support for the team."

    Holt turned and - with a nod of his head - sent the floating spheres away. "Captain Rogers, it's truly a pleasure. As Sasha just alluded to, I'll be overseeing all your operations from here at mission control." He leaned back, folding his arms. "I've been studying your newsreel footage. I understand that your shield was recovered when your body was found. If you'd like, I can draw up some designs for new equipment that will complement your fighting style," he offered.

    Steve had to laugh. "I appreciate the offer, but I think you'll find that I'm quite old-fashioned when it comes to all that."

    "Fair enough," Holt conceded. Suddenly, his floating spheres were back. He gave Steve a quick handshake before turning his gaze to Agent Bordeaux. "Until next time, Sasha."

    If Steve didn't know any better, he would've sworn that Bordeaux's cheeks reddened. "Let's meet the other two," she suggested with a nod towards the back of the room. There, an old school boxing ring was occupied by two very different combatants. One was a broad-shouldered man about Steve's age, the other a smaller woman with blonde hair. As Steve watched, the two sparred with bare knuckles. The man caught one of the woman's punches and laughed. At that, the woman spun and delivered a sharp elbow to the man's side. As he released her other wrist, the woman grabbed him by the back of the neck and tossed him to the ground. Then, it was her turn to laugh.

    "Captain Rogers, may I introduce Clint Barton, team leader and marksman," Bordeaux said by way of introduction as the man stepped out of the ring.

    Barton immediately buried his face into a fresh towel, tousling his hair dry with both hands. As he slung the towel over his shoulders, he straightened up and considered Steve. After a moment, he said, "So, you're the living legend, huh? Wilson hasn't shut up about you all week." Barton brought a water bottle to his lips, never breaking eye contact with Steve. He took a sip and said, "Well, I'm interested to see how you handle yourself." At last, he held out a hand.

    Steve gave him a shake. "I hope I can live up to the hype."

    "Don't let him intimidate you. He's always hard on the new recruits." Steve turned to see the blonde woman from the ring. Up close, he couldn't help but notice the brightness of her blue eyes. She brushed away a loose strand of hair from her eyes as her forehead glistened with sweat. "Dinah Lance," she announced herself as she took the water bottle from Barton's hand, taking a long sip for herself.

    "Might I ask your role on the team, Miss Lance?" Steve asked curiously.

    Barton smirked. "Demolitions," he joked, earning him a punch in the arm from Dinah. Steve merely furrowed his brow, clearly missing the joke.

    Dinah smiled at him. "I'm like you, Cap. I'm a soldier." She nodded over Steve's shoulder at the rest of the team. "I take it you've met the whole crew?" When Steve nodded, she continued, "Well, then let me be the first to officially welcome you to STRIKE Team Alpha."

    Sam came up behind Steve, clapping a hand on his shoulder. "Yeah, Cap. Welcome to the Ultimates."
     
  23. Morden Man

    Morden Man Registered

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    Dr. Peter Cross slammed the door to his car shut and sat in silence for a few moments. Everything he’d worked for his entire life was going to come crashing down around him and there was nothing he could do about it. Matt Murdock had gone back on his word and, despite everything that Peter had done for him, decided he didn’t want to be Daredevil anymore. Cross couldn’t understand it. He’d saved Ted Grant’s life and Murdock had beaten Deadshot once before, why now had he decided to give up the fight?

    Maybe he’d been too quick to suggest killing Deadshot. He wasn’t quite sure that he’d meant it. But as far as Peter Cross could see the only two ways this would end would be with Deadshot in the ground or the both of them ruined. Since he wasn’t in possession of a radar sense there was no way that Lawton was going to end up dead and so it seemed that Cross would have to come to terms with his impeding ruination.

    As Cross drove aimlessly around New York his mind raced as he tried to think of some way to salvage everything he’d built. Peter Cross had become a scientist because he’d watched as his father had lived out the lion’s share of his life without vision. Since then he’d amassed a personal fortune that could allow him to see out the rest of his life in comfort, but he spent his time working towards finding cures for diseases and ailments that people thought weren’t possible. His “recovery” formula that had in fact kick-started Matt Murdock’s metahuman gene was born of exactly that pursuit.

    Cross stopped his car at a set of traffic lights and stared into the mirror at his own lights for a moment as I thought flashed across his own mind. Murdock had asked him once whether he’d been tempted to use the formula himself and Cross had told him that he could do more good in a lab coat than as a vigilante. He had meant it at the time and he certainly didn’t think he was made of the same type of stuff as Murdock, he wasn’t a violent man by any measure, but for the first time Cross had considered it. What if he used the formula on himself?

    Beeping from behind him broke him from his train of thought and he continued to drive aimlessly through the night. It was a stupid thought, Peter reassured himself as he drove, he didn’t even know whether he had a recessive metahuman gene and there was no real reliable way of testing that. Given that he was the only man on Earth with any firsthand experience administering the formula to people and dealing with the symptoms of the body rejecting it he’d be as good as dead if he administered it to himself and his body rejected it.

    It was a stupid idea and there was no way that Cross was going to go through with it. Matt would come round and realise that the world still needed Daredevil and that with Deadshot still on the loose Ted was still at risk. After all, he had shot him once already and that was before Matt had blown his fingers to piece. He’d come round, he’d realise that Peter was right, and then take Deadshot down. Peter was sure of it.

    And then he heard Matt’s voice saying the words “I’m done” echoing around his head. He saw Matt’s face before him and the determination on it to never put the suit back on. Peter Cross shook his head angrily and changed gears as he turned his car around and headed in the direction. Before he knew it he was pulling up outside of a research facility that his company owned and stepping inside.

    There was no one there, as Cross had anticipated, and he threw his bloody lab coat down on the floor as he made his way towards some familiar looking airtight canisters of fluorescent yellow liquid. He pulled up a chair beside one of them, rolled up one of his sleeves, and unsheathed a sharp looking needle connected to a tube that was connected to it. Peter could hear his heart pounding in his head as the formula slowly began to make its way down the tube and towards his arm. As the liquid hit his arm he felt a rush like no other he’d ever felt before and sat up completely alert in his seat, before his eyes become bleary and he fell unconscious without warning.

    When he awoke, some three hours or so later, he felt a different man. He pulled the needle from his arm and threw the tube to the ground, standing up with a smile and striding towards a mirror in the corner of the room. He smiled at his reflection: there had been no bleeding from as far as he could tell, he’d lost none of his hair throughout the procedure, and he was showing no signs of nausea. Whatever had happened to him the procedure had been a success. He had no radar sense, he couldn’t fly or shoot heat vision, but Cross felt better this morning than he’d done in decades.

    He walked out of the lab and made his way towards his car with a smile. It was still in the early hours of the morning and the streets were completely empty for as far as the eye could see. Cross revved the engine of his car with an excited smile and tore off down the streets. He watched the speedometer as the dial went from 70 to 90 to 120 to 150 and not once did he look up at the road.

    “How about some music?” Peter said to himself a smile. “It’s not a party without some tunes.”

    With a flick Peter turned his iPod on and punched the steering wheel along to the bass as “Do I Wanna Know?” by Arctic Monkeys came on. As he sped through the streets Cross couldn’t quite recall a time he’d felt so alive, so completely without fear or apprehension. So much so that he barely noticed the blaring police sirens as three squad cars were doing their best to keep up with him. Eventually he looked up from the speedometer and noticed them and slowed down with a smile.

    The police officers stepped out of their cars, reached for their pistols, and took cover behind their doors as the lead office walked towards where Peter had pulled over.

    “Would you mind turning the music down?”

    “No.”

    The officer was so taken aback by the bluntness of Peter’s response that he did a double take. Surely he was on drugs or something? Peter smiled in the officer’s direction but other than that seems completely oblivious towards the gravity of the situation. It was like he didn’t feel fear at all.

    “Sir? I said would you mind turning the music down, please.”

    “And I said no

    “Okay sir,” the officer said as he reached for his weapon. “I’m going to have to ask you to step out of the vehicle.”

    Suddenly a feeling rushed over Cross as if he’d had a revelation of sorts, though it seemed more intense than that. It was an awakening. Now seemed as good a time as any, Peter thought with a smile.

    “I don’t think I’ll be doing that.”

    The police officer went to reach for his radio but as he did so felt a wave of fear sweep over him. Suddenly the streets of New York became dark and in the place of his fellow officers he saw demons making their way towards him. In his mind he brandished not a gun but a flaming bow and arrow of righteousness with which to extinguish the demons. As he pulled the trigger he would see an arrow leap forth from the bow and the demons would explode on impact, with each arrow and each demon slayed the city’s blackened skyline became light once more. Relieved, the officer lowered his weapon and returned to Peter Cross who sat with a smile.

    Cross scanned his mirrors and saw the police officers laid dead in the middle of the street. The old Peter Cross would have been disturbed by the sight of dead police officers but now he could only smile at it. The old Peter Cross would have felt bad for making the man do it but this one felt only excitement. He smiled at the officer leaning into his window and patted him on the head.

    “There’s still one left.”

    The officer looked around before realising that Cross was talking about him.

    “I’m sorry,” the officer said with a broad smile. “How could I be so stupid?”

    Without a second of hesitation the police officer placed his service weapon in his mouth and blew his brains out. Peter sat unmoved in his driving seat as the flecks of blood that had flickered into the car and across his front began to dribble down his face. Slowly he reached forward and pressed the “repeat” button on his iPod with a smile.

    The fear he had felt earlier at the thought of Floyd Lawton running free with knowledge that could ruin him had gone. He’d never felt so without fear in his life. He knew he could beat Lawton, he knew he could save all he’d worked for, and even save Murdock from his own indecision. He’d save them all regardless of what it took or who tried to stop him. Because he feared absolutely nothing.
     
  24. Carnage27

    Carnage27 No one's puppet

    Joined:
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    [​IMG]

    The four Terrans who were quite literally lost in space attacked the Kree ship as if they had been warriors bred for the work. Sue would have been taken aback by the situation if she wasn't in the same zone the other three seemed to be in as well. She watched as Reed rubber banded two enemies towards Ben, who spiked them like a monstrous beach volleyball player. Johnny was laying down suppressive fire, quite literally, all around them. Sue did her part throwing up forcefields to both protect her friends and confound the enemy. Star-Lord, in the meantime, covered their six. He was an exceptional shot, which was surprising considering how he drank.

    "We have to move if we don't want to get pinned down here!" Quill yelled to them.

    "You shoulda said so earlier!" Ben growled and took off on a rumbling gait. It was odd to see him run in this state, but at the same time it was a thing of devastating beauty. He had been a fullback during college, but was forced to stop playing due to injury. But with his powers, it reminded Sue of the strong running style he had back in the day. He tore through the ranks of Kree, and cleared a path down the corridor.

    "Well that was effective," Reed commented.

    "Are you kidding, that was badass!" Johnny exclaimed.

    "I agree with the kid," Quill nodded.

    "Can we keep moving?" Sue shook her head. Star-lord directed them down a hall before hotwiring a door to close behind them.

    "That should keep them," he said before heading on.

    "Oh this is so Star Wars."

    "Johnny, again, shut up."

    "Quill," Sue said coming up beside him. He jumped, and she realized she was still cloaked. "Sorry. But what is this weapon we're retrieving?"

    "Don't know, don't care," he shrugged. "Just know it'll get us paid."

    "How reassuring," she frowned. But she followed the rogue with the rest of her friends in tow. They eventually made their way to the location of the weapon, or at least where Quill thought it was. But as he got to work unlocking the door, Sue could hear the sound of approaching troops. "You might want to hurry up, Quill. We're gonna have company."
     
  25. Hound55

    Hound55 Byfar The Most Evil Thing

    Joined:
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    [​IMG]


    It’s a bright sunny day, the kind of day you hate to be stuck in the office.

    This day more than any other.

    I heard murmurs by the type pool as several of my co-workers are looking out the northern window. Keen for any distraction to break up my dull day I went to go see what was happening. A stunned look on my face, I reached into my pocket to burn the memory into my mind forever.

    The Boeing 767 was coming in low. Far too low. As everything slows down I can clearly make out the planes markings, the faces in the cockpit, the firearms, the uniformed figure haphazardly slumped on the cockpit floor. Too close now, it couldn’t correct even if it tried.

    It didn’t even try.

    * * *

    I blink.

    My bright day has been ruined by the smoke pouring from the other building. But that’s ok, it would’ve been a shame to have to spend that kind of pleasant autumn day in at work anyway. There’s some kind of fire in the other tower, details are a bit sketchy, Bill in accounts payable says twitter said something about a plane. Or terrorists. Maybe some kind of bomb threat which actually happened. I’d look it up myself but I’m out of credit. The PA continued to announce evacuation procedures by floor as we impatiently await our turn.

    Tracy whimpered, I asked what was wrong, she turned the monitor so that we could see, but I still can’t see over the cubicle wall. A plane flying into Tower 1, across to my right there’s a number of people looking out of the window pressed against the glass to try and see the ground below, to attempt a glimpse at those on the other floors who got to evacuate first.

    But they’re looking in the wrong direction.

    I pull my phone out, luckily the camera doesn’t need credit, and my vision clears. Every second in pure high definition in my eyes as I see the plane coming.

    I hear myself shriek; a woman’s shrill tone. Given the circumstances it’s more than understandable.

    I experienced all of the… I wouldn’t call it a crash. It happened too fast for that. I never even caught a glimpse of the fire. All I had time to see was like a horrifying, chaotic merge of metal.

    First there was United Airlines Flight 175 and the South Tower. Separate entities. Then from the actions of a few there was only one. Paradigm shift. A single object. And the seething, burning emotions that came from the audacity.

    I blink.

    * * * * *

    “HEY!” The female voice calls.

    The car lurches over a sand dune and my vision clears. With my heart racing, I regain control of the car before it rolls.

    “What was that?!”

    My heart is racing, to crash out here could mean death. We’re not far from our Tunis now by car, but it’s still miles of unforgiving desert if we were without it – and that’s if we survived the accident itself.

    My heart is still pumping a mile a minute and it occurs to me that it hadn’t even beat this fast at the excavation site. The memory of just how calm I was when I’d done… the things I had done there… now stands out more and makes me feel even more uncomfortable.

    The woman in the passenger seat is looking at me for an answer, a response that will explain away my actions; the madness of our current situation and set her heart at ease.

    God help her, I don't have one...
     

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