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Cowboys And Aliens: Issue #3


Warpath, Texas

'Behind you?' Jaime was taken aback in that brief moment when an ordinary man in a cowboy chaps told Jaime to stand behind him. Jaime, the one wearing the alien power armor, needed to be protected by the guy with a pair of six shooters. The cowboy was brave, there was no denying that, but Reyes couldn't help but think he might have a screw or two loose underneath that ten gallon hat of his.

Reyes stepped forward to stand beside his defender as he went to confront the stranger. Everything about the giant of a man painted him as a metahuman- no one was naturally that large, and the black spandex wasn't exactly ordinary attire for the ordinary man. He had to have powers. But that begged the question, then: what was he doing here? Jaime's first assumption was that he was working for Dr. Caulder and he'd come to secure the Scarab, but that didn't make any sense. Caulder had just disposed of him; why would he have a change of heart so quickly? Of course, there was a possibility that falling through that portal had taken much, much longer than Jaime had first assumed...

His assumptions were thrown out the window when the figure addressed the 'vigilante.' Of all the things Jaime could be called, that certainly wasn't one of them- which meant that 'Black Star' was here for the Texan.

"Wait- the Silver Surfer-" A thousand questions raced through his mind as the Black Star spoke of the other alien, but Jaime wasn't able to get another word out before the metahuman disappeared from his vision in a blur of midnight fabric, only to reappear several meters away underneath the shade of a nearby porch. He tore one of the support beams from the wood with the same ease that a child might take apart a Lego set, sending the beam flying through the air like a spear aimed right for Reyes's heart. So dumbstruck by what was going on and unprepared for the sudden burst of speed, Reyes would've been impaled on it if not for the hands that threw him out of the way of the incoming projectile.

The roar of gunfire mingled with the sound of splintering wood as Jaime pushed himself up to his feet, every part of his body crying out in agony. He hadn't taken even a moment's rest since his last fight, and with the strength and speed this 'Black Star' seemed to possess, this was shaping up to be even more difficult than his duel with Otto and Caulder. The protesting, sharp pain in his muscles went ignored; he couldn't just sit back and let this 'Vigilante' be torn apart by a guy who was clearly out of his league. Maybe Black Star was out of Reyes's league too. He wouldn't doubt it. But Jaime wasn't about to turn tail and let a total stranger die alone.

He'd left too many bodies behind him already.

"Unless you've got a hand grenade in that belt, I think you might need my help!" Chunks of concrete and wood soared through the air, punching holes in the barn behind them like a pen pressed through a sheet of paper. The only thing keeping the two of them from being punctured through with equal force was the makeshift smokescreen Vigilante had managed to kick up with that whip of his, but it wasn't going to last. "This guy's a bit above our weight class- we're gonna need a plan!"

'Not compatible. Eliminate with extreme prejudice.' The voice of the Scarab snarled once more, it's words echoing deep in Reyes's mind. He felt strongly compelled to follow the 'suggestion,' his right arm already morphing to form the deadly energy weapon he'd used to eliminate the German surgeon back in Caulder's prison camp. Reyes didn't particularly want to use that kind of force against anyone, but this guy...he was next level. There was no holding back if Jaime wanted to walk away from this without any casualties among the townsfolk that had- surprisingly- yet to rear their heads.

"Yeah, not helping. You get any better ideas other than 'kill him'?" Reyes shot back. For a thousand year old parasite packing so many weapons and tools, it didn't seem all that forthcoming with ways to use them. Most of it's suggestions tended to be something along the lines of 'just kill them' or 'maim and cripple.'

'Not compatible. Target possesses enhanced strength and speed. Surrounded by unknown energy. Not compatible.'

Reyes stood to his feet, lifting his cannon to fire off several blasts in the general direction of where he'd last seen Black Star. "I got it! Not compatible! Dios mío you're useless. What does that even mean?!"

'Not compatible.' It repeated in that same angry tone it had taken since the metahuman first appeared. Jaime was getting real tired of hearing it.

"Great. Just great. My psychotic Jiminy Cricket comes with an error message. Terrific." With the smoke beginning to clear and Jaime being able to make out that black costume of their adversary once again, he realized that they didn't have any time left. Black Star was going to break them apart the moment he spotted them among the cloud. Reyes might be able to take that kind of punishment, but Vigilante? Unless he had some kind of secret superpower he was hiding, he was just a normal man with some very abnormal enemies. Jaime needed to do something to keep Black Star from taking his life.

So, in all of his teenage brilliance, he decided there was only one thing he could do.

He rushed Black Star.

Both of the Scarab's talons drawn, he let the engines on his back flare to life as he leapt through the air to quickly cover the distance between himself and their black clad foe. He had little control over his flight, but he could stabilize enough to simply shoot in a straight line right for Black Star like a less-than-human ballistic missile. Both blades held out before him, he could only hope that the super villain wasn't as durable as he was strong.
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Cowboys And Aliens: Issue #4


Warpath, Texas

Gutting a living, breathing person was a strange sensation. Skewering through that first layer of flesh and clothing was like sticking a knife into a piece of flabby elastic. It bent and contorted around Jaime's talon, giving so much that he thought for a moment that it simply wouldn't break through. He was wrong, of course; once the tip managed to dig even a millimeter in, the flesh gave way easily. The layers of fat squished and squirted as the razor sliced it's way through with a frightening speed and momentum. It tore open as easily as a piece of paper tore from the rings of a notebook. Passed the initial incision came the thicker bits of the body- the muscle. It was simpler to cut through each layer than the flesh, but there was just so much of it. The sinew was like hundreds upon hundreds of cords tightly wound together, making it near impossible to cut through all of them at once; the blade kept catching at poor angles, slowing it's advance for a short while.

But Reyes kept pushing. The adrenaline pumping through his veins wouldn't let him slow as he finally tasted Black Star's intestines.

It made his stomach churn, but he wasn't given any time to regret the attack before Black Star retaliated.

There was a crack in the air just before his fist made contact with Jaime's gut. It was the sound of the sound barrier breaking just before Black Star struck the teenager with the force of a howitzer gun. The chitin armor on his abdomen exploded into splinters, the living metal screeching and squirming as the knuckles dug into Jaime's stomach and forced their way up into his insides; mere inches of the Scarab lay between Reyes and a fist through the hair as Black Star pulled his hand back and Reyes was sent flying backwards.

He didn't make it far before the villain was upon him, another blow sent crashing against the underside of the child's jaw. An audible, sickening crack sounded just as he was sent air born. The momentum would've been enough to send him flying across town if Black Star hadn't reached out and plucked him from the sky. Massive, powerful fingers contorted around Jaime's throat, cutting off his breathing with an incredible amount of force. The armor bent and cracked underneath the force, threatening to shatter if Black Star continued to apply such pressure.

Jaime was almost lucky that the man imbued with the Power Cosmic decided to slam Reyes's face into the dirt. His face plate cracked in half like it was made of cheap ceramic the moment he hit the ground, bits of dust, blood and mucus spilling out across his face. Though his mouth was agape, he could not scream; all he could do was suck in polluted air in a desperate bid to keep from asphyxiating after nearly having his throat crushed.

The battle that continued around him was a blur of thunderous sound and dizzy, foggy images. He couldn't make much of it with the pounding headache threatening to split his skull in two, and the agonizing pain that stretched across his body from head to toe. Otto's acidic scars had opened up along his back, hissing and screeching as pus and blood dripped down his flesh, warm, sticky and hard to ignore. His ribs were aching fiercely, something scratching and screaming along in his insides every time he squirmed even a little bit. His nose and mouth were both leaking streams of crimson, though he couldn't tell if anything important was broken. It was hard to focus on anything in that moment. Even the pain felt dulled and numb, like his senses had been shoved under water and weren't allowed up for air.

"-...Nnng..." Jaime gasped and sputtered, his hand weakly reaching forward to drag himself along the ground. He wasn't sure where he was headed. He had no idea if he was even going to live through this. But he felt a powerful urge driving him to drag his battered body through the mud.

Then he saw it.

Just barely, out of the corner of the eye, but it was there- he couldn't deny what he was looking at, no matter how unreal or impossible it might seem. "Holy shit." He breathed.

A monster with a skull cased in black fire was clashing with the Black Star. They were exchanging blows and throwing one another across the town with abandon, destroying buildings and crushing cars along the way. It was a terrifying and magnificent sight to behold all in the same moment as the immensely powerful metahuman traded punches with a demonic beast dragged out from the depths of hell.

"What is that?" He blinked, unsure if he was hallucinating. Where did it even come from? One moment it was just Jaime and that Vigilante guy, and the next...

'Entity is of extradimensional origin.' Khaji Da answered flatly. 'Relativistic integrity compromised. Recommend termination.'

"Thanks." Reyes groaned, partially from the pain and partially from the pain of dealing with the Scarab. "That clears that up."

That odd feeling of numbness that Jaime felt only seemed to grow, stretching out across his form like a blanket had been laid over him. He could hear the living metal at work stitching itself back together, the hard plates during to liquid and morphing together to reform itself harder and tougher than before. But that wasn't the only healing being done, Reyes realized, as he felt those same tendrils running along his nose and up his back.'Beginning self-repair process. Recommend rest time of up to forty eight hours.' The Scarab informed him. Jaime's annoyance deflated slightly; so maybe the Scarab wasn't totally useless after all.

Reyes wasn't going to sit here in the dirt for two days, however, as he slowly pushed himself back up to his feet. The destruction had come to a halt, he noticed. The sounds of battle fading with the dying roar of a motorcycle of all things. Curious, he made a cautious trip further into the town. Part of him thought he should take flight while he still had the chance. Trusting a demon bathing in hellfire not to pull his spine out wasn't exactly a smart move. On the other hand, however, he couldn't just leave this town to be ravaged by two all-powerful monsters. People had to have been hurt during the chaos already. Reyes...Reyes didn't want there to be even more names added to that list.

His shock could not be understated when he finally discovered the demon standing over top the fallen form of Black Star, the villain held within inches of it's flaming, menacing head.

”No one messes with my town."

There was something about that voice. That distorted, demonic voice, that Jaime found vaguely familiar. Even through the screams of the damned and the choking heat of the Ninth Circle's embers, that thick Texas accent found a way to shine through. Reyes was taken aback, but all of the pieces seemed to come together at once. "Vigilante?" Reyes balked, approaching the "man" from behind. He made sure to keep his distance on the off-chance he was wrong, yet...Something told him he wasn't.

As he approached, Jaime was once again assaulted by the sound of Khaji Da's abrasive voice blaring within his mind. 'Not compatible.'

"Oh, not this- what? What isn't compatible? How about you explain it to me, bastardo, instead of just shouting in my-" He didn't get to finish as one cryptic message was replaced by another. Instead of two words, however, Khaji Da could only offer one.

'Darkseid.'

"-Like of the Force? You're not making any sense, ese. My L-phone's better at explaining things than you are." It wasn't the time for humor, Jaime realized, but he was very close to snapping after everything he had endured in such a short time. If he didn't do something to break the tension, he might just lose it.

'Your handheld device lacks sufficient information on this subject.' Khaji Da countered.

"Oh, and how would you know that?"

'I checked.'

"You did what?" Jaime blinked.

'I still have access to the device we assimilated seventy one and a half hours ago. Your 'information super highway' knows nothing of the ๔คгк ๒гเภﻮєг.'

It was time for Reyes to throw his hands into the air, turning around to take several steps away from the ghostly Vigilante. He couldn't help but cackle at the sheer ridiculousness of what he was hearing. "My alien parasite gets WiFi! What- what's next, unlimited talk and text? Gonna sell me a cable package too?!" He mockingly joked. "Good Lord, when did the world stop making sense?" And on top of it all, Khaji Da spoke a word that definitely wasn't English. It was the first time he'd heard the Scarab fail to translate anything in his mind. It was oddly disturbing, given the subject matter.

The Scarab never skipped a beat, ignoring Jaime's obvious distress as he continued with his previous thought with brisk accuracy. 'I have cross-referenced the facial recognition software installed in this device with your 'internet.' This 'Black Star' appears only by a different name- one William Mowse. There are several news articles about his incarceration in the prison complex known as the Raft. According to the most recent reports, hundreds of similar inmates have appeared across the United States, performing attacks similar to the one we have experienced.' He explained. There was a pause before he decided to add a more...personal comment. 'I am surprised the warden has neglected to activate the explosive chips embedded in the base of each prisoner's spine.'

"What?!" Reyes shouted incredulously. He knew SHIELD was bad, but-

'...Is that not standard practice on your world? How primitive.'

The pain wracking Jaime's body hadn't fully subsided. He still winced a little with each step he took, and there wasn't a great deal that the Scarab could do the alleviate the exhaustion that had taken deep root in every inch of Reyes's muscles. By all logic he should've simply passed on what he had learned to Vigilante and returned home to El Paso to rest- and to finally see his family after suffering through this ordeal. By all rights, he had earned the rest. He hadn't asked for any of this. Responsibility and power had both been thrust into his arms in equal measure, and the Scarab was expecting him to rise to the occasion like this wasn't complete and utter insanity.

Jaime had no real responsibility to...to any of this, right? What he wished to atone for had nothing to do with the Silver Surfer that had tried to destroy the world.

The Scarab's rage did not burn for the life of the other alien- it burned for Dr. Caulder and Dr. Caulder alone.

SHIELD wasn't going to stop hunting Reyes until he proved that the telepath was responsible for the incident, and not Jaime or the alien.

By all rights, this was not Jaime Reyes's fight. And yet he felt a tug upon his body that went deeper than any of that. It went deeper than the armor covering his flesh. It went deeper than the ache in his muscles. It even went deeper than the very marrow within his bones. He felt a pull so strong and so profound that there was no fighting against it. He knew it wasn't the voice of Khaji Da trying to convince him to join this fight; in fact, if the Scarab had it's way, they'd just lay down right there and not move for the next two days. No, this pull...it belonged to Jaime. It belonged to his soul.

After what felt like eternity he came to a decision, turning on his heel to face the Vigilante that he had met just tens of minutes ago at most. They didn't know so much as one another's names, yet Jaime felt a degree of trust in this man that went deeper than that. The Vigilante had saved his life; and that was a debt not easily repaid.

Jaime had just gotten a metric ton of new information that he needed to share with the man, but there were more pressing matters to attend to in the immediate future. They needed to get moving as quickly as they possibly could. "Right, so I'll...I'll explain on the way, but how fast can that fancy motorcycle-from-hell of yours move? 'Cause if we want to get to the Surfer, we're gonna need to head up to New York and I left my running shoes at home." He joked, smiling underneath his creepy, stoic mask.

"Oh, by the way..." It still felt rude for him to go on without introducing himself, the gravity of the situation be damned. This was his way of coping- by pretending everything was normal and continuing to act like the dumb, stupid kid he still wished he could be. "My name's Jaime. Jaime Reyes. I'm from El Paso."
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Cowboys And Aliens: Issue #5


New York City, New York

Jaime Reyes found himself flying through a wall of solid concrete for what felt like the fifth time today. It shattered on contact with his armored body, sending him tumbling through it to the other side, where he was promptly buried in a pile of rubble, stone and rebar. He remained unmoving for several seconds, still reeling from what had just happened. He hadn't even had time to process it. He and the Spirit had descended on the Silver Surfer in a ball of flaming plasma and hellfire, moving so fast that the world around Jaime had looked like little more than sheets of color flying passed his head. Then he was...here. On the ground, his body screaming out in protest once more as his wounds reopened and blood leaked down his face inside of his mask.

"God, my head..." He groaned quietly, shoving away the heavy debris that covered him. The Surfer...he'd just deflected their attacks like it was nothing, hadn't he? The Spirit of Vengeance that Reyes had been hoping could match the likes of Superman had been tossed aside like a bag of rocks, used like a projectile against Wonder Woman. Even his own blast had been smacked away and redirected toward-

"Shit, shit- Spider-Girl!" The last thing he remembered seeing was a ball of hot plasma flying right for New York's resident superhero. He'd seen what that kind of thing could do to a human being before. If that hit her... "Please don't be dead." He rasped, his head on a swivel as he tried to find that white-and-black clad insect. "God damn it, I did not come up here to kill a superhero."

Thankfully she was quicker than she looked, and she managed to flip right out of the way without being turned into a pile of human gore and slag.

He was such an idiot. A total, complete, unredeemable idiot. How he could he have thought this was a good idea? How could he have possibly considered that he could stand up against the same guy that took The Flash and Superman to task? Vigilante was right. He was just a kid. He should've...he should've ran the moment they got here, and let the real heroes deal with the Surfer-

The Surfer. He was looming in the center of it all, his unblinking eyes direct right toward Jaime. They stared into his soul with an alien intensity, as if the thing could see right inside of him. And then...and then it spoke.

It spoke his name. Jaime Reyes, the sixteen year old that felt impossibly out of his depth, was called out by the conqueror by name. "W-what?" He froze where he lay, enraptured by the brief words the alien shared about him.

It said he was the most intriguing of all. It spoke of potential he never knew he had. Despite the fact that the woman that caught a plane and the man that dragged himself out of the depths of hell were but a few feet away, the Silver Surfer had said those words about Jaime.

Little Jaime Reyes, the boy that couldn't pass a Physics test to save his life. Jaime Reyes, the accidental murderer. Jaime Reyes, the child that had failed to beat a crippled man in a wheelchair. He was the one that held the alien's attention. It...it didn't make any sense. It clashed with every thought that had plagued Reyes's mind as he rode with Vigilante to confront the herald of Darkseid. And now it contradicted his own belief in his worthlessness.

It was a moment as captivating as it was terrifying.

And it was fleeting, too, as the Surfer turned to address the entire crowd of costumed and caped heroes that had come here to put the alien down once and for all. It cried out about the suffering of the world and the power Darkseid had to save them with such conviction and authority that Reyes almost believed it.

His attention was torn away by a sound like a roaring wind turbine coming up from behind them. A blur of red and yellow burst forth from the prison's entrance, coming to a halt in all of her wounded, heroic glory. Even with the new costume it was impossible to mistake the fastest woman alive for anyone else; the moment she had struck down the Silver Surfer had been broadcast across the world for everyone to see. Reyes had never expected to be present when those two clashed for a second time, and he found his heart pounding through his chest as he looked at the heroine, hope shining through the bleak shadow that their would-be destroyer cast around it.

"...Kick his sorry ass, Flash!" Were all the words he could get out before she started moving.

The two opponents became a blur of movement and thunderous noise as they kicked up a hurricane of wind around them, bits of dust flying in every direction. Even with the enhanced senses offered by the Scarab, Jaime had no idea what happened in that brief millisecond. He thought for that brief, tiny time frame that perhaps the Flash was winning-

Right up until he heard her bloodcurdling scream echo across the floating prison's courtyard. When the dust cleared and the blurs came to a stop, the Surfer was the only one left standing. He held the Flash's limp, unconscious form in his hand; there wasn't a scratch on him, and that same, uncaring look was plastered across his face.

One of the strongest heroes on the planet- half of the team that had taken down the Surfer the first time- was knocked out in the span of a blink, and she'd done no noticeable damage. It tossed the Flash aside like yesterday's trash, only for the Spider to catch her and set her down away from the action. All the hope Jaime felt building up in his chest was thrust into the sea and drowned in that split second, leaving him with nothing but a throbbing emptiness and a sense of overhanging dread. There goes their biggest gun.

"Give me all the juice you've got, Kha!"

Despite the fact that all of his instincts screamed to run, Jaime found himself shooting forward. It was almost like his legs moved of their own accord. Whether it was the wordless demand of the Scarab that drove him, the demand for assistance from the Spider or some kind of subconscious bravery, he couldn't know; all he knew was that he was moving very quickly toward the being that had knocked down the Flash with little effort. Wonder Woman was already descending on it, and Vigilante would hopefully be joining her in a moment. That left Jaime with an opening to try something he never had before.

He slapped both of his arms together, willing them to combine as they had when he formed the shield. As he had guessed, that same transformation worked with other weapons, too- including his plasma cannons. When stuck together, the barrels changed and morphed into one, much more menacing tool. The power that radiated from the massive piece of artillery was like nothing else Reyes had ever felt. He dug his feet deep into the ground to anchor himself in place, willing the cannon to power up.

"See if you can't keep him still!" Jaime called out. He waited for the weapon to ignite, watching intently to make sure he had an opening. He didn't want to blast Wonder Woman right in the chest, and now he knew that the Surfer could redirect his shots if he knew they were coming. If they could pin the guy down, maybe...maybe there was a chance...

"HEY, YOU BALD BASTARD!" Reyes roared, his finger itching to pull the trigger. "GET THE FUCK OFF MY PLANET!"
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Cowboys And Aliens: Issue #7


New York City, New York

'Warning: Supernova equivalent heat detected within atmosphere. Seek cover immediately.'

The hero they called 'Johnny' had set the sky on fire, yet the Silver Surfer still stood tall. Jaime could feel the waves of heat radiating from that massive explosion, even while he was still on the ground far below. A bright flash filled the air behind the clouds, a series of colorful lights dancing like titanic embers in the morning sun. The new hero showed a terrible amount of power that would've struck awe into anyone; Reyes was reminded of the mushroom clouds made by the nuclear bombs he'd seen in history class. Yet despite that magnificent display, the Surfer had descended through the smoke and ash, an unfeeling contempt on his stoic expression. The herald of Darkseid was going to crush Johnny in his hand, and there wasn't a single thing they could do about it.

Reyes tried, of course. He had flared his jetpack to life before Sue had finished crying out for someone to do something. A burst of power sent him flinging into the air at speeds that could match an F-22 Raptor. Jaime could tell he still wouldn't make it in time. The Surfer was already preparing the finishing blow, Reyes's arms reaching out in front of him and a desperate cry of "NO!" on his lips just before his vision was filled with a brilliant display of color, and a sound like the crack of thunder drowned out his voice.

It was like flying through a rainbow, if a rainbow's arrival came with hurricane force winds and a shockwave that rocked the coastline. Jaime's flight pattern- it was more like a controlled leap, really- was immediately thrown off by the unexpected blast of alien energy. He was sent spinning through the air and falling from the sky for the second time that day, only this time Reyes wasn't the only one that needed to be caught. He used the same methods he did before, lighting up his arm cannons to direct steady himself enough to catch a glimpse of Johnny's falling form. "I gotcha, ese, hang on-"

'Massive influx of unknown energy nearby- it is 300% more efficient than our current power source. Recommend assimilation.'

"Not the time, Scarab!" Jaime let his jets burst to life, flinging himself through the air toward Johnny-

Only, Johnny wasn't there. A blur of movement filled his vision, and Jaime was only able to track it long enough to see it race out over the bridge and into the city. "-Flash?" There wasn't anyone else who could've pulled that kind of speed off, yet he was still left floating there, awestruck at what had just happened.

Flash wasn't the only one that left him feeling like he was in the presence of gods.

He was close enough to make out the man that had exploded through the rainbow bridge in a ball of lightning and fury. With every throw of his fist, the sky cried out with an vengeful howl, electricity dancing between his knuckles. The man himself was...massive. He had to be almost seven feet tall and packed with muscle. And the power he wielded...it wasn't like anything Jaime had ever seen before.

It left him thunderstruck, to say the least.

With no one left to catch and the sky rapidly filling with clashing gods, Jaime decided to cut his engines and plummet back down toward the Raft, only letting them flare to life right at the end to break his momentum before he destabilized the prison further by crashing right through it. He looked over to the blonde woman from earlier. "I think Flash got him?" He said with an awkward shrug of his shoulders. Any chance he had at impressing the new heroes had been stolen away by the fastest woman alive, leaving Jaime to look like a dunce. It wouldn't be the first time a girl had done that to him, and it definitely wouldn't be the last.

He wasn't given much time to gawk at the duel for the fate of humanity as Spider-Woman called for everyone's attention. It wasn't until she mentioned it that Jaime noticed just how poor the state of the Raft was; it looked like the only thing keeping the prison afloat was duck tape and a couple of prayers. Part of him had mixed feelings about rescuing some of the lowlifes imprisoned here. Many of them were metahumans, and he couldn't imagine there were too many other places that could keep them in.

It didn't take long to throw those feelings out when he remembered that, if not his escape, he'd be sitting in one of these prisons too.

Jaime was just about to speak up when he heard something loud blare out from behind them- an alarm?- and then felt a pair of hands wrap about him. Then the world turned to liquid and he felt himself move faster than any human being should be capable of. It only took a split second to realize the Flash must've grabbed him too, and only a split second later it appeared she was planning on ramming his face through a solid wall of metal. "-OH GOD-"

Reyes was letting out a rather undignified scream when he came to a sudden and abrupt halt, his stomach turning and the world no longer making any sense. They were standing inside the prison, on...the other side of a massive locked door. Flash had put him inside the sinking prison, alone, and had just ordered him to get the door open. "Wait, you can't just-" And she was gone before he could finish.

"Women." Jaime groaned, stepping up to the panel. He hadn't a clue how to operate it, or what she was thinking bringing him in there in the first place. "This is why I don't date, Scarab. Women don't make sense."

'You realize that you cannot physically lie to me, correct? I'm well aware what you were thinking when-'

"-Just shut up and help me get this door open." Reyes grumbled, tearing the front of the panel off to expose the wiring underneath.
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Cowboys And Aliens: Issue #8


New York City, New York

Jaime couldn't get the door open.

He'd tried everything the Scarab suggested, but nothing was working. Rerouting the power only activated the dead switch on the gate that kept it from popping open if the facility lost power. Attempting to reverse the lockdown ended in failure because he needed a specific code that only a choice few employees knew. And apparently just breaking the door down was going to compromise what little integrity the structure still had.

"Gotta be kiddin' me." He grumbled to himself, fidgeting with a pair of wires he'd already tried three times before. He couldn't just stand there dumbfounded, but he was out of ideas. To make matters worse, he had a growing audience to watch him fumble and fail. Over a dozen prisoners, guards and staff had appeared in a blur of movement as the Flash dragged more and more people to the front entrance. They were as impatient as one would expect when their lives were hanging by a thread.

"If I don't open the door, the Raft gets flooded with water and we all drown," Reyes mumbled under his breath, his brow furrowed in utter frustration, "but if I actually open the door, the roof collapses, we get buried under rubble and we all drown anyway." It was a real catch-22- one that ended in about a hundred people dying in the worst way imaginable because Jaime's advanced alien backpack couldn't manage to open a God damn door.

"Get it open already!" One of the prisoners shouted, throwing his bound hands into the air. "We're gonna fuckin' die in here!"

"I'm trying, hombre, but it's harder than it looks!" The distant rending of metal as more of the building caved in was yet another reminder of how little time he had left. There had to be something he was missing. Something he was overlooking that he could use to get them through it before they went down with the ship. "Give me somethin', Scarab. What do I do here?"

'Force the door open.'

"So the ceiling falls on us? Great pla-"

'No,' Khaji Da interrupted him sharply, 'we can bear the extra weight while the others flee.'

Reyes wasn't sure. "What, like hold the roof up? I...don't know about that." There was so much that could go wrong. So many things that would have to be accounted for. If he screwed it up even a little bit, people would die- potentially a great many people. There had to be some other way. There had to be. His thoughts were interrupted by the sound of concrete snapping above his head. A crack shot across the ceiling, sending dust and bits of rock falling down on the prisoners' heads. He felt his heart sink when he spotted water dripping down from the crevice. There wasn't any time left to doubt; he had to trust Khaji knew what it was talking about.

"Alright. Let's do this." He stepped up to the massive iron gate, rubbing his palms together as he looked over it. It was almost twice his height and just as wide across, and at least twelve inches thick. He had no idea what this much steel would weigh, but Jaime couldn't imagine it was any less than several tons. He hadn't gotten the chance to test just how strong the suit made him...

Better late than never, right?

Reyes shoved his fingers into the slot between the two sides of the door, wiggling them as deep inside as he could. "Come on Jaime." He huffed, dragging at each half with all of the might that he could muster. "Come on, Jaime!" It felt like he was trying to pull apart an aircraft carrier. The lock wheezed, bucked and screamed in protest, metal shearing against metal as Reyes tried to open up the door. For every inch of progress he made, the sound of the ceiling pulling apart grew louder. More water was flooding the corridor with every passing second, and a panic was starting to spread through the survivors behind him.

The muscles in his forearms ached and burned, the sinew tensing as it was brought to capacity. 'This is what I get for skipping gym.' He thought with a grimacing, struggling through the pain. He was rewarded by the scent of sea water hitting his nostrils from the other side, a ray of light shooting through the crack. It gave him the second wind he needed to shove even harder, sliding a leg into the gap to use everything he had at his disposal.

Despite the great strength he showed in moving it this far, Jaime still couldn't get it open enough for anyone to slip through. If he couldn't go all of the way, his effort would be for naught, and the lives behind him forfeit. Thankfully for the young, intrepid hero, he was not alone. 'It would appear you require my assistance.' A dozen tendrils of living metal shot form the Scarab-flesh, twisting and turning in the air as they shot for the gap in the door. Each dug deep into the metal, solidifying into powerful limbs. The Scarab gave it all it had, and it proved to be enough-

The door was open now.

Reyes slipped to the side, shoving his shoulder against one part and motioning forward with his head. "Alright everybody, pile out! I dunno how long I can hold this!" He shouted backward. The freezing mob of prisoners and staff didn't need to be told twice. They rushed for the door, ducking underneath Jaime's extended arm and making a break for the Raft's bridge. None of them even bothered to look back at the struggling teenager as he fought to keep from crushing some poor soul between the giant slabs of metal.

He was forced to remain in that position, holding up the waning structure like some discount Atlas as the Flash ferried the injured and other prisoners out through the gap. Reyes groaned, grunted and snarled, but he held his ground. The bruises in his ribs and the burns upon his back were not kind in their aching, but he had to ignore the wounds; he wasn't going to abandon any of these people. That wasn't what superheroes did.

"Jaime Reyes- agh- superhero. I can- shit, this is heavy- get used to that."
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Season One: Epilogue


New York City, New York

The Surfer was beaten, his newly freed persona taken away by a strange woman with a mace. It was about par for the course with all of the other insanity that had gone on in the last six months, so all Jaime could really do was shrug his shoulders and try to move passed it. He had plenty of revelations to mull over while he spent the next four days in bed, that was for damn sure; the heaviest of them being the decree that Darkseid would return someday to finish what his herald could not. It was a sobering thought, knowing that the Silver Surfer that had nearly killed all of them was just the vanguard for something far greater and far more terrible.

'We will be ready.' The voice of the Scarab assured him, as steely and unwavering as ever. It gave Jaime a new resolve, knowing that Khaji Da believed they could prepare for Darkseid's arrival. Though life had certainly been difficult since the two were introduced, the alien had not once led him astray.

Before he knew it, everyone had started to go their own separate ways. The three spandex clad heroes that had rallied that misfit band into something resembling a real team were already off to go check on their fourth, wounded member. Spider-Woman swung away before Jaime could muster up the courage to so much as wave. Thor was still lingering, though given the hole in his chest, he'd be leaving soon- probably to find a hospital or something.

A hand fell on Reyes's shoulder, taking his attention away from the redheaded demigod. It was the Flash, looking a good deal less heroic than usual; she looked like she was about ready to collapse right then and there. Despite her sorry state, she was offering him help. Letting him know that he could count on her if he ever ended up in trouble. Jaime was glad he had the helmet on to hide the reddening of his cheeks. "Uh..y-yeah! Yeah. I'll do that. Thanks." He nodded fervently, even as she turned around and started to make her leave.

He still had what she told him earlier about getting a 'nom de guerre' in the back of his mind. Jaime didn't know for sure what it meant- it sounded like a type of souffle- but he believed he understood the gist of it. He needed a hero name. Something inspiring. Something heroic. Something that when you hear it, you can't help but feel like everything'll be okay.

A name like...

Like...

”You did good out there J- Er, ‘scuse me. I mean, uh, nice one, Blue Beetle?”
DocTachyon


"Blue Beetle?" Reyes lifted a hand to his chin, mulling over it. He was certainly blue. And he had to admit, the armor was rather beetle like, the more he thought about it. "Blue Beetle..." It didn't sound nearly as iconic as Flash, but he didn't have any better ideas. Jaime shrugged. He had plenty of time to work on it."It'll do for now." He nodded.

Jaime jumped on the opportunity to get a ride back home from Vigilante. He couldn't exactly fly yet, and the armor didn't come with bus tokens as far as he knew, so he didn't have too many other options. " I'd appreciate that." He didn't mind the fact that it'd be a long ride. After everything that had happened, Jaime could do with some slowing down.




El Paso, Texas

The road was long and arduous, but Jaime was finally home again. It felt like an eternity had passed since he walked through those poorly paved streets, passed his neighbors of questionable character, and took in the scent of freshly baked bread and motor oil.

They used to call his neighborhood the Devil's Triangle back before Jaime was born. Gang violence, drug trafficking and prostitution plagued the streets back in the late seventies and eighties. His parents used to tell him stories about how they couldn't walk home after four o'clock without being followed by some scumbag in gang colors.

Things were much calmer these days. Jaime had yet to be accosted by anyone in all his years growing up there, and the city had even changed the name to the far less aggressive Angel's Triangle. Now instead of drugs and gangsters it was known for rampant poverty and terrible burgers. Still, part of him used to be nervous passing this particular corner, especially when the sun started to go down.

Used to be being the key phrase there; before he went and had a giant alien weapon fused to his arm.

Vigilante had offered to drive Jaime right home, but he'd declined, asking to be dropped off a ways away. He told Vig that he wanted to stretch his legs. It was a paper thin lie that Saunders probably saw right though, though thankfully he didn't press and did as Reyes requested. The truth of the matter was that Jaime had no idea what he was going to say. He'd been gone for so long- been through such an...impossible ordeal. How would his parents react if he told them the truth? Should he even tell them the truth? Trying to hide the fact that he had an alien in his skin sounded like a terrible idea that wouldn't last a month before he was found out. But if he just came out and told them, could they look at him the same way after everything he'd done?

He rounded the corner, his tiny, one story house coming into view. There were a dozen other homes that looked exactly the same around it, from the color of the roof right down to the ragged, rundown appearance of the walls. He could feel his heart pounding through his chest and his blood pressure spike all in the same instance.

"Ya gotta be kiddin' me." He muttered under his breath. "You fought the Surfer, Jaime. Get a grip. It's just your parents. They'll...they'll understand. They have to."

Right?

Reyes stepped onto the crack, gum-infested sidewalk, walking passed the chipped, bent chainlink fence that cordoned off the little section of houses he lived in from the rest of the Triangle. The faint sound of an off-tune beat carried on the blistering warmth of the wind. He felt his heart beating faster with every step he took, each potential scenario about what could happen playing through his head. It kept getting consecutively worse and more ridiculous. As he took that final step up onto his porch and reached for the doorknob, Jaime had gone so far deep that he was wondering if his parents had it in them to report him to SHIELD.

It was insanity, of course; they'd never do such a thing. Even in the absolute worst scenario, he couldn't feasibly imagine-

"...Thank you for your time, Mrs. Reyes, I appreciate it. Let us know if you hear anything." The gaunt faced man with slicked-back blonde hair had a voice like a ghoul and eyes that could pierce through steel. Jaime almost did recognize him at first, standing in the middle of Reyes's living room in a tacky Hawaiian shirt, sandals and cargo shorts. But that voice had been burned in his brain the moment he awoke in that interrogation room, strapped down to a chair and was told he had killed thirty people.

Agent Sitwell wrapped his skeletal fingers around his mom's hand, the corners of his mouth upturned in a twisted interpretation of warmth. There were two more agents in plain clothes huddled together not far from them, whispering about something that Jaime couldn't make out. He ignored them. His entire attention was absorbed on his own mother and the man that turned Reyes into a wanted criminal.

It felt like someone had driven a dagger through his heart.

He wanted to move. He wanted to do something- to run, to fight, to...speak...But he found himself incapable. His muscles locked up. His throat went dry. His mind was made blank. It felt like he had been robbed of any meaning and sense of balance as a sense of vertigo pounded against the inside of his head.

'Threat detected. Attack.' The Scarab howled within his mind. It knew well what had happened the last time they encountered Sitwell, and it refused to let Jaime endure that again. The chitin slipped forth over his hand like a second skin, morphing and changing as it took the on the heavy barrel of it's primary weapon and igniting it all in the same, fluid motion. The sleeve of his jacket exploded in a spray of torn material as the gun tried to lift itself.

That drew the attention of the extra agents, their hands going down to the handguns at their sides as they shouted at Reyes to freeze. He still hadn't made a conscious move. Sitwell himself spun around, the shock on his face matching the look that Jaime himself wore. They locked eyes for several seconds in a silent acknowledgement of everything that had happened since their last encounter. Sitwell knew what Jaime had done at the Raft. He knew that Jaime had helped save the world.

"Stand down!" He screamed, throwing a hand back at his partners. Neither of them obeyed; all they needed to see was the gargantuan weapon on Jaime's arm to justify shooting at a terrified and confused sixteen year old boy. Bullets tore through brittle stone, sending sprays of rock flying out over the grass alongside bits of hot metal. Reyes tripped over his own feet in his desperate bid to escape, no part of him wishing to fight anywhere near his mother- he wouldn't risk her getting hurt.

"God damn it! Put the gun away, Scarab-" Jaime shouted over the sound of gunfire, his armor slipping on over his torn clothing even as he sprinted out into the open once again. He was in full panic mode, the only thought in his mind to escape before SHIELD managed to pin him down. He still didn't have the proof he needed to absolve himself and the Scarab of guilt. He still needed to bring in Dr. Caulder. He needed more time.

The roar of an engine drew his gaze down the road, locking it on a white van that was speeding toward him. More agents. They had this entire block on lock down, no doubt; they'd have reinforcements pouring in with bigger, better firepower in no time flat. Reyes needed to find a way out of town, now...before it was too late.

The van's driver hit the horn and held down on it, even as he brought it up alongside Jaime before he even had a chance to consider where he might run to. He squared up to deal with the men inside, hands ready before his face when the side door slid open.

And his eyes locked with Paco Tejas. His broad shouldered friend had his hand held out, a desperate look plastered on his face. He was motioning for Jaime to take it, even as several rounds struck the inside of the cabin- getting frightfully close to Paco's head.

"GET IN!" Brenda Del Vecchio shouted from the driver's seat with all of the rage of a burning star.

Jaime hesitated for just a moment before he locked his fingers around Paco's, dragging himself into the vehicle. They slammed the car door behind them and Brenda hit the gas, shooting down the empty street like a bottle rocket on the Fourth of July.

"Esos idiotas están locos! Are they trying to kill us?!" The redhead snarled, pulling on the wheel to take a sharp turn that nearly sent the vehicle rolling. It lurched, two of the wheels briefly leaving the ground before slamming back to the concrete and shaking the entire metal frame.

Reyes climbed up to the front seat, forgoing his seat belt as he glanced between the two. "What the hell are you two doing? How are you- how are you even here?!"

"Dropped outta a portal by that wackjob in the cloak." Paco explained, popping up between the two front seats. "Same as you, right? With all the craziness in the sky-"

"Yeah, and the voice! What was up with that?"

"Not the time, morons!" Brenda snapped. She wrenched on the wheel again, shooting around a car that was driving twenty miles too slow for her as she was busy trying to escape an international spy organization that had just tried to murder the three of them. "Where the hell are we going? Anybody got any ideas?!"

Reyes furrowed his brow, searching through every location he could think of. Central City? The Flash did say he could rely on her....Maybe back to Warpath, with Saunders? The three of them would be safe in either of those places, for a time.

But that was the problem: only a for a time. SHIELD was going to keep chasing Jaime until they either caught him or he proved his innocence. But he couldn't do the latter until he found Dr. Caulder, and he didn't have a clue where that bastard was hiding-

But he did have a clue, didn't he?

"Metropolis. Make for Metropolis." Jaime finally said, his expression shifting once more. It hardened with resolve. He was done running. He had to find the other alien and find out what in the hell was actually going on.

Jaime Reyes- The Blue Beetle- was going to clear his name.

No matter what it took.



TO BE CONTINUED...
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Ultimate One Universe: Season Two Application


The Unflinching Traitor to Mankind...Blue Beetle!
"Great. Just great. My psychotic Jiminy Cricket comes with an error message. Terrific."


Full Name

Jaime Reyes

Alias

Blue Beetle

Powers/Abilities

Synaptic Symbiosis Interface: The Scarab Parasite has embedded itself within the genetic code of the human being known as Jaime Reyes. It's fused together with his internal structure seamlessly, altering his physiology on a molecular level to make Jaime a more perfect host body for the Scarab unit. These changes make Reyes far more robust, even in his 'ordinary' form, and his energy consumption has been made two hundred times more efficient for added endurance at less of a cost. Most importantly, however, it is what allows the Scarab to communicate with Jaime telepathically.

Technological and Biological Assimilation: There is no singular race in the entire universe that can be described as perfect. Each has flaws- gaps in it's knowledge that can be exploited. The Scarab was designed to circumvent this flaw. It's body is the perfect blend of technology and biology, forged with the express purpose of assimilating and absorbing any and all tech it encounters deemed to be useful in the pursuit of perfection. Thus far, the Scarab has encountered nothing it cannot absorb within itself and make use of. Assimilated parts are typically 'upgraded' using other bits of technology already installed in the Scarab.



Season One Recap

Jaime Reyes's life was turned on it's head when he encountered a piece of alien technology in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History that, when activated, crawled down his throat and took control of his body, using him to slaughter nearly twenty innocent people. He was captured by the international organization known as SHIELD and interrogated by one Jasper Sitwell. The interrogation went south, ending in the deaths of several SHIELD agents and Jaime fleeing from the scene with the dubious assistance of the alien squatting inside of his body. He returned to Washington, D.C, intent on discovering the truth when he found himself assailed by an unknown force.

He was kidnapped and brought to a facility owned by Doctor Niles Caulder, a paraplegic telepath with one of the greatest minds the world had ever seen, squandered by ambition and cruelty. The good doctor had spent his life chasing after ancient aliens and unearthly artifacts, bleeding himself and everyone around him dry in his attempt to change the world with his discoveries. He lost his legs in his chase for knowledge, though he gained much more: he and two of his colleagues were granted power beyond their own understanding, and it was with these powers that they pursued Jaime and the Scarab. Niles revealed that he was the one responsible for the Scarab attack; his attempt to communicate with the alien had apparently sent it into a blind rage.

For all of the doctor's attempts to coerce, persuade and force Jaime to give up the Scarab, Niles was unsuccessful in his operation. He had his lackey cast Reyes away, vowing that he would return to take the alien from him when the time was right.

A ragged, wounded and tired Jaime was then dragged into the world-spanning test of the Silver Surfer. Despite his sour state, the boy's conviction carried him to New York City, where he attempted to do battle for a world that had turned it's back on him. He did little in the grand scheme of things, but it gave him a taste for heroism, let him make critical connections with fellow metahumans, and even gave him his new alias...

The Blue Beetle.

Three months have passed since. Jaime lives out of the back of a van with his close friends and allies, Paco and Brenda. They've been dodging SHIELD and working to find the supposed second Beetle that Niles spoke of. Thus far, they've had little luck in the matter; most days the trio is too occupied keeping out of the law's watchful eye to continue pursuing their only lead.

It's far from a glamorous existence. The only money they have for food and gas come from care packages sent in by Brenda's aunt, and even then it often isn't enough to get them through the week. Local police tend to hound them for 'squatting,' and Jaime only attracts more negative attention when he 'suits up' to do nightly patrols. Both Paco and Brenda tell him it's moronic, but he doesn't care. The exhaustion he feels when he comes back helps him sleep.

Where Do You Plan To Take The Character This Season?:

Season One was about laying out the groundwork for Jaime as a character, and teasing the rest of the story I wanted to tell. Now that we're in Season Two, though, I can really kick it into full gear. Whereas before I was working in a vacuum to build up the mythos and tell Blue Beetle's Origin, this time around I'm looking to introduce him to the rest of the world and hopefully leave an impact on it by the end.

To that end, I've crafted a villain with a very specific motive that'll drag Jaime across the country and beat him to his knees worse than last season's villain ever could. This'll be the biggest threat that Reyes faces, and there's no chance he's going to be able to do it alone. His growth as a hero and as a person are both vital to learning to triumph over what lies ahead, and that includes learning that he can't handle everything on his own.

Many of the threads left unfinished from last season will find conclusions as well. In particular there'll be a focus on the guilt that Jaime has wrestled with, and revealing the ugly ways he's been attempting to absolve himself of it. If I could nail down the themes for this seasons, they'd definitely be redemption and triumph despite (or through) suffering.

Supporting Cast

Paco Tejas: Jaime and Paco have stuck together through thick and thin. They met all the way back in Kindergarten, and haven't spent more than a week apart from one another since. Paco's one of many middle children in a family of eight. He loves his family to death, but by God if he can't stand how crowded his tiny house is.

Despite his great size, Paco is generally a timid person. He has no room for violence in his heart, and could even by described as somewhat cowardly on his worst days. Still, he's proven himself to be invaluable his companions over the last three months with his technical skill and knowledge of all things mechanical. He wants to be supportive of Jaime's endeavors, but he can't help the feeling that something terrible is going to happen to him if he keeps it up; that armor of his doesn't make him invincible, after all.

Brenda Del Vecchio: The coolest person willing to associate with Jaime, Brenda's been part of the gang since seventh grade. Both her best friends were made aware of her...less than ideal home life a long time ago, and they've done their best to support her through her personal struggles.

Brenda's always had a fire in her that few could tame, but the recent months on the run have only seemed to fan those flames. Hunger and exhaustion has made her temperamental, and the constant need for vigilance against SHIELD has only exasperated her more. She often finds herself forced to keep the leash on Jaime and Paco, who don't seem to understand the danger they've put themselves in. To make matters worse, her aunt grows less and less supportive of her 'road trip' with each passing week, insisting that Brenda return home to El Paso where she can be safe. She's held steadfast thus far, but as the months drag on and their attempts continue to bear no fruit, Brenda's beginning to believe they'll never find this 'alien' Jaime insists they chase.

Ted Kord: Ted Kord is the owner and CEO of Kord Industries. Based out of Metropolis, the tech company is best known for it's advances in nanotechnology- it's one of a handful that's managed to avoid being devoured in the ever-growing titan that is lexCorp. Ted has always fashioned himself as a self made man, and he'll be damned if he sells his soul to anyone.

The Brotherhood of Evil: Led by Dr. Caulder, AKA The Brain, the Brotherhood is a group of metahumans and hired goons meant to assist Caulder in his attempts to capture and study Jaime Reyes. Though they haven't made an attempt on the boy since they dropped him off in Warpath, Caulder continues to keep a watchful eye on his activities, all the while mustering the strength needed to take what rightfully belongs to him.

The current members of the Brotherhood include The Brain, Warp and the deceased(?) Plasmus.

Baran Flinders: A mutant born with an incredible capacity for growth, Baran was an easy target for bullying as a child; he was far too tall for a boy his age, and due to his X-gene, he was often overweight. The cruelty continued as he grew older, seemingly only getting worse as the abuse turned physical. Driven to the edge of his sanity, Baran retreated into himself and began on a path toward self-improvement. He took advantage of his mutant abilities and packed on pounds upon pounds of muscle, cutting down his diet and transforming himself from an awkwardly shaped loser to a paragon of strength. His former bullies treated him quite differently afterward, and that only empowered Baran to exact his revenge against them. He began his own form of torment that escalated in cruelty and violence until he found himself behind bars.

Now, after twenty years, he's returned from prison, though felony assault charges have made life...difficult for him, to say the least.

La Dama: A faceless crimelord and the queen of Texas's underground. Real name unknown. Influences stretch all the way down to various Cartels in Latin and South America. After the Punisher tore his way from her territory and over to Los Angeles, she's grown paranoid and defensive over her holdings, fearing that New York City's Reaper would return to deal out his brand of lead-based justice. She's invested heavily in arming her gangsters for what she perceives as the coming storm.

Jasper Sitwell: The agent assigned to interrogate Jaime after the Smithsonian Incident, Jasper has suffered setback after setback in his search for the boy. More often than not, his own team has been responsible for the escalation of conflict with Jaime; no part of Sitwell enjoys leading a manhunt against a teenager, but the power Jaime wields is far too much to be left in the hands of someone that young. The massacre committed by his hands (whether accidental or not) proves that.

Issue #1



The Blue Beetle Series:



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S.I.O #4217




WARNING: THIS DOCUMENT IS CONSIDERED CLASSIFIED UNDER THE AUTHORITY OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES AND THE DIRECTOR OF SHIELD. VIEWING OF THIS DOCUMENT WITHOUT PROPER AUTHORIZATION WILL RESULT IN PROSECUTION.


INVESTIGATOR: Anderson, R. ADDEDUM: Sitwell, J.
CASE NUMBER: #4300 - 01 ADDEDUM: #4217 - 32
CURRENT DATE: 12/30/2018

DECENDENT IDENTIFICATION


NAME: Frank, Robert, M.
SS#: <REDACTED>
ALISES: XxWhizzer1337xX; Robbie
D.O.B: 11/27/91
GENDER: [_] FEMALE [X] MALE [_] OTHER (Please Specify Here)
RACE: [X] WHITE [_] HISPANIC [_] AFRICAN AM. [_] ASIAN/PACIFIC ISLANDER [_] HUMAN [X] MUTANT [_] OTHER (Please Specify Here)
MARITAL STATUS: [_] MARRIED [X] DIVORED [_] WIDOWED [_] NEVER MARRIED [_] OTHER (Please Specify Here)

DECEDENT WAS HOMELESS: [ ] YES [X] NO
HOME ADDRESS: 744 Stark Ave, #206
CITY: Blüdhaven
STATE: NJ
COUNTY: Central Business District
ZIP CODE: 53540
PHONE NUMBER(S): <REDACTED>

EMPLOYMENT STATUS: [_] EMPLOYED [_] UNEMPLOYED [X] OTHER

While technically unemployed, Mr. Frank regularly participated in 'Esports tournaments' for a video game called 'Street Fighter,' earning large enough cash prizes to sustain his spartan lifestyle. From the statements we've taken, he was considered arguably one of, if not the, best players in the world, rarely losing even a single match despite playing several hundred over the course of the last handful of years.
Note

PLACE OF EMPLOYMENT: N/A
OCCUPATION: Freelance 'Esports Athlete'

SCENE INFORMATION

DATE NOTIFIED: 12/30/18
TIME NOTIFIED APPROX.: 17:45 HRS
INVESTIGATOR NOTIFIED BY: Officer Higsby, Brian - BHPD First Responder; Matthews, Julien - Neighbor

Mr. Matthews noticed a strong smell while passing Mr. Frank's residence and, in distress, chose to force entry into the room, fearing for Mr. Frank's life. Upon discovering the body he called local police. Due to the nature of the victim's injuries, SHIELD was contacted thirty minutes later. Mr. Matthews is currently being evaluated for breaking and entering charges by the BHPD alongside being held as a suspect in Mr. Frank's death.
Note

ADDRESS OF INCIDENT: 744 Stark Ave, #206, Blüdhaven, NJ, 53540
PLACE OF INCIDENT: [X] DECADENT'S HOME [_] PLACE OF BUSINESS [_] HOSPITAL [_] SCHOOL [_] ROADWAY [_] DETENTION FACILITY [_] ANOTHER HOME [_] OTHER (Please Specify Here)

No sign of breaking and entering prior to Mr. Matthews's alleged intervention. The decadent's body had been decaying for several days prior to this incident, making Mr. Matthew's an unlikely suspect, but he is being investigated regardless. The Place of Incident is noted as being unkempt and poorly maintained. Visits from guests appeared to be infrequent at best prior to the incident. Neighbors report very rarely seeing Mr. Frank around the complex, though he was noted several times as being cordial and friendly, if not somewhat withdrawn.
Note


LEAD-UP TO INCIDENT:

Thousands of unique private messages were pulled from a number of websites that Robert frequented under the pseudonym 'Whizzer.' While most of these proved irrelevant to our investigation, we believe his correspondence with <REDACTED> may be linked to his murder. He was first contacted by <REDACTED> only a week after the breaking of his 'mutant scandal' via direct message on Twitter.

Several of these messages are transcribed below, beginning on 7/6/18.



XxWhizzer1337xX: yeah its been really tough these last few days :( but im starting to feel a bit better i guess

<REDACTED>: I can imagine. What they did to you is unacceptable; you didn't deserve any of it.

XxWhizzer1337xX: thanks. its nice to know at least one person gives a shit lol. are you a fan ?

<REDACTED>: Certainly. I've been watching your career quite closely since you joined the scene. Your game versus Daigo in particular fascinated me. I've never seen anyone play so perfectly.

XxWhizzer1337xX: >~< oh jeez, thanks. but its not like i earned that win

<REDACTED>: Preposterous. Why would you say that?

XxWhizzer1337xX: you know why. everybodys been talking about it. im a mutant

<REDACTED>: And how, precisely, is that your fault? You didn't cheat. You didn't alter the game in any way. You're simply better than them. And I don't mean just at the game.



Correspondence continued daily for the next two months until the nature of their relationship changed on 9/13/18, as transcribed below.



XxWhizzer1337xX: hey, i know this is rly random and everything, but. . .i just wanted to say thank you. youve made life bearable for these last few months. honestly i dont know if id be alive if it werent for you

<REDACTED>: Anytime, Rob. I'll always be here for you.

XxWhizzer1337xX: there was one other thing, but. . .god its so embarrasing

<REDACTED>: What is it?

XxWhizzer1337xX: dont take this the wrong way or anything, but you look rly cute

<REDACTED>: Why thank you. You're quite handsome yourself.

XxWhizzer1337xX: nah, im ugly af lol. but thx anyway ^^




The frequency of their messaging increased exponentially at this point, becoming a good deal more explicit in nature over time. It's unclear the precise date in which the two became romantically involved, but by the time December arrived, they were planning on meeting in person for the first time. They made plans to spend Christmas together in a hotel located halfway between where each party lived. This changed on 12/20/18 as transcribed below.



XxWhizzer1337xX: im sorry. im so so sorry. i dont know whats wrong with me

<REDACTED>: Please reconsider, Rob. We've been planning this for far too long for you to flake on me now.

XxWhizzer1337xX: i know

<REDACTED>: Don't you love me, Rob? Don't you want us to be together?

XxWhizzer1337xX: of course i do, but. . .

<REDACTED>: Then let's meet. We can finally be together

XxWhizzer1337xX: i cant, im sorry but i cant. im so nervous im literally in tears rn. i want to but i just cant handle it rn

<REDACTED>: You're going to meet with me, Robert.

XxWhizzer1337xX: ill be ready next year, i promise

<REDACTED>: Christmas Eve. This Christmas Eve.

XxWhizzer1337xX: i already told you no, <REDACTED>. stop it

<REDACTED>: I already booked the flight. I'm not cancelling it now.

XxWhizzer1337xX: pls just drop it ok? i feel bad enough already

<REDACTED>: If you're not at the hotel on Christmas Eve then I'm coming down to you whether you like it or not. You're being obtuse

XxWhizzer1337xX: wtf dude. why're you being so fking creepy

<REDACTED>: Don't test me, boy.



At this point, <REDACTED> grew increasingly distraught, his messages becoming more threatening to the point where Mr. Frank decided to block <REDACTED>'s Twitter account. <REDACTED> went on to create several dozen alternate accounts, sending Mr. Frank hundreds of messages, many of them little more than a jumble of numbers and letters. Robert decided to delete his account. Based on his search history it appeared that he was looking for a new apartment on the other side of Blüdhaven.
Note


CIRCUMSTANCES SURROUNDING DEATH


DATE OF DEATH APPROX.: 12/25/18
TIME OF DEATH APPROX.: 00:00 HRS
PLACE OF PRONOUNCED DEATH: [X] DEAD AT INJURY LOCATION [_] DEAD ON ARRIVAL [_] OTHER (Please Specify Here)
MANNER OF DEATH: [_] NATURAL [_] SUICIDE [_] ACCIDENTAL [X] HOMICIDE [_] OTHER (Please Specify Here)

CAUSE OF DEATH:
Due to the extent of the decedent's injuries, it's impossible to determine which of these injuries was the ultimate cause of his demise. Repeated blunt force trauma to the front of the head is the most likely cause; however, it's entirely possible that the decedent was still alive when the <REDACTED> broke through his chest cavity and crawled inside of his bloodstream. If this was the case, he would've remained conscious until roughly <REDACTED> percentage of his bodily fluids had been drained from his body; at which point, his mind would've shut down. It's unclear how long the draining process lasted, ranging anywhere from ten minutes to <REDACTED> hours.
Medical Examiner


ADDENDUM: Due to forensic evidence confirming the presence of Special Interest Object #4217's plasma residue within the victim's apartment, this case is hereby being transferred to AGENT SITWELL, J. All further information should be presented to him and his team. Godspeed, gentlemen, and good luck.
OFFICAL INVESTIGATIVE REPORT
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Hidden 10 days ago 10 days ago Post by Superboy
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Superboy Degenerate

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Wess Bathens

"My father's peers called him a savage behind his back; I will accept no less than 'equal.'"




Identification/Serial Number:
KY-9914


Sex:
Male


Age:
23


Homeworld:
Aquella


Rank:
Private


Role:
Stormsurgeon


Callsign:
Patches


Appearance:
A destined soldier from the day he turned eleven years old, Wess Bathens learned underneath the best trainers and dieticians his father's credits could buy. He spent every waking moment crafting himself into an icon worthy of his homeworld, and worthy of the Galactic Empire; he was all but born and bred to fight. Standing at five feet and eleven inches, his body is a series of forged, tightly packed muscle in a slender yet powerful frame.

Fists like tempered metal and eyes as cold and blue as ice characterize the son of Aquella's senate representative, though surprisingly his planet's traditional, full-body tribal tattoos are absent; the only mark upon Wess's body is a small purple swirl around his left wrist. Deep brown hair with faded sides frames a handsome, clean-shaven face.


Equipment:
Standard E-11 Blaster Rifle
Standard Plastoid Armor w/ Bronze Identification Pauldron
Backpack
Additional E-11 Energy Cells
Ion Flares
Bacta Patches, Salves, Bactade, and Bio-Bacta Tank
Additional Medical Supplies
A Single Thermal Detonator


Psychological Analysis:


Backstory:
Senator Daros Bathen, the democratically elected representative of planet Aquella, was not a popular man on either his homeworld or Coruscant. At home, he was often referred to as a traitor to his culture and a dog of the Empire; in Coruscant, they thought of him as a savage stuck in his ancient, outdated ways, barely better than an alien. In an effort to bridge the two clashing cultures, Daros and his wife, Sara, brought their child to Coruscant. He was named Wess after his grandfather and was to be raised as they hoped all future sons of Aquella would be raised- with their culture intact, yet modernized to conform to Imperial law.

As a boy, Wess found himself enthralled by the pomp and circumstance of life in the Empire's capital city. He was more than attuned to the fanciful parties, strange costumes, and plentiful festivities. One of the things he enjoyed most was waking up early to watch the Stormtroopers in their bright, heroic armor drill in the Imperial Plaza every morning. Though he didn't know it at the time, that impressive sight would be burned into the forefront of his mind for the rest of his life.

Though life as the son of a senator proved hectic and enjoyable, his father, Daros, was bending under the weight. His superiors in the Senate were pressuring him to tame the wild nature of his home system, pressing hard for the eradication of slavery in particular. The Aquellans were far from accepting, as the enslavement of debtors and the children of whores had been a facet of their religion and culture for thousands of years; it was a common punishment for petty crimes since it was said that imprisonment made men lazy and worthless. Their vitriolic refusal had brought the veritable hammer down on their heads when a Stormtrooper battalion arrived and forcibly freed every man, woman, and child enchained. Many believed that it would be impossible to reconcile Imperial rule with the ferociously independent Aquellan culture. Even Daros's own family and sponsors doubted him, often pleading with him to return home so that Wess might grow up a proper man.

Infuriated by their derision and unwilling to break, Daros spoke frankly to his son about the situation they were in. He convinced his child that the only way to solve the issues they faced would be to prove that Aquellan culture could be integrated with Imperial rule; he needed to prove that a child could grow up under the Emperor's banner yet continue to live free and serve his gods with the same fervency and reverence as ever. Wess would be that proof. He would be the living embodiment of everything that Daros had preached. Wess would be lauded as an icon of his people, and a model of Imperial service and citizenship. Eager to make his father proud, he accepted, and the course of his life was altered forever as he was immediately enrolled in a prestigious Imperial Military Academy.

Wess had a natural athletic ability that, when coupled with his pre-training from age eleven, made him a top student in his class of cadets at the academy. He had a sharp, inquisitive mind coupled with a dedication and discipline one could not expect. Every course, every drill and every little scrap of instruction was approached with the fullest eagerness; there was almost a palpable desperation in the way Wess leaped at each opportunity presented to him. He proved particularly interested in the field of field medicine, where he was promptly transferred after putting in a request to the academy head.

He eventually graduated in the top percentile of his class, earning the right to wear that shining white armor that he had once ogled at from a distance. Though he has only served for a handful of years, he's already adjusted well to the soldiering life; admittedly he does miss the luxury he once lived in, but his surroundings are more than tolerable. One of his primary duties given to him by his father was to document his time in the army well, sending back plenty of material for Daros to use as Imperial propaganda to show Aquella the light. His whole world's eyes lay on Wess as he makes his slow, perilous climb up the Imperial ladder.

'Imperius Unitada ober Totallex'


Hidden 8 days ago 1 day ago Post by Superboy
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Silent Night, Holy Night #1


Metropolis, Delware - Suicide Slum

It was a cold and lonely Christmas night. There was naught a carol in the air, nor a cheer of a child born; the few that roamed those dark, freezing streets had no home to return to and no hearth to sit beside. The destitute, the homeless and the unwanted wandered between those looming projects and those rundown apartments with dark circles under their eyes and solemn looks plastered on their weary faces.

Jaime Reyes was among their number. A child driven from his home three months prior, with nary a clean blanket or a working heater to call his own. A numbness etched itself into his marrow as the wind beat into his thin coat. There was a sharp pain in his cheeks like needles in his flesh as each frozen gust rolled by. He tried to ignore it as he thrust his shovel into the snow, lifting it up with all the strength his arms could muster and throw it back into the grass.

Though the snow still fell from the grey clouds that loomed overhead, he'd been tasked with clearing a path to the apartment complex towering over him. It was one of many odd jobs he'd been forced to take on after their last care package ran dry; it was the only way he might afford a more adequate coat. Shivering and fumbling to keep his fingers from falling off, he continued his work, diligent and desperate to finish that uncomfortable work.

"You look like you're about to pass out." A voice called from down the sidewalk. Brenda was approaching through the snow, her own shovel hanging over her shoulder and a much larger, firmer coat wrapped about her form. She, at least, was bundled up properly. "You can borrow my coat if-"

Jaime cut her off with a firm shake of his head. "No, no. I'm fine," he lied. "The Scarab keeps me warm. Let's just hurry up so we can get back to the van." This wasn't the first time she'd offered, and it wasn't the first time he had to use that excuse. Reyes knew she did worse with the cold than him. Even with how she was dressed up, she still looked frozen to the bone. Reyes could take it. They were nearly finished anyway. He just had to ignore it for a little longer.

It wasn't the only thing he was trying to ignore.

"-can't do anything right, you god damn bitch-"

The Scarab was the only reason Jaime was still alive. It had saved him several times over, and for that he was nothing but thankful. He appreciated all it could do- all of the power it allowed him to wield. It let him do a lot of good.

"-please, Henry, not in front of Mary-"

But there were some things Jaime wished it couldn't do.

"-don't you tell me what not to fucking do!"

Some things he wished he couldn't hear.

"I'm sorry! Please, just-"

Jaime had been so enthralled in the whispers carried to his ear by the Scarab that he hadn't noticed just how hard he was digging with the shovel until he heard a sharp snap like a whip. He blinked, staring down at the handle- he'd broken it straight in half on the concrete, the head of the tool sent clattering against the pavement. His hands were shaking, but not from the cold.

'Just ignore it.' He told himself.

"Jaime?" Brenda called again, dragging his gaze away from that broken mess of a tool. He'd have to pay to replace it- less money to go toward food and new clothes. Typical. "They're at it again, aren't they?" She sighed, her voice solemn and quiet.

He nodded without saying a word, unwilling to meet her sympathetic gaze.

This wasn't the first time he'd heard it. They spent a great deal of time in this neighborhood the last few months as they chased ghosts and leads that never went anywhere. In fact, they used to park their van in an alley just around the corner- it didn't last long, though. Jaime couldn't sleep with all the screaming in his ears.

She sighed. "I'll go tell Larry. We can get the cops down here again, and-"

"-And what?" Jaime suddenly let out a violent, angry snarl, his eyes darting up from the snow to meet her gaze. There was a fire burning behind his pupils that had rarely lived there. "And what, Brenda?" He repeated with equal, furious emphasis. "Nothing, that's what. Nothing's going to happen. Nothing happened the first time we called, nothing happened the seventh time we called, nothing's going to happen this time either." He protested, tossing down the broken remains of his shovel as he threw his hands up into the air in a sudden start. "The cops don't care. They've never cared. I...I should-"

It was Brenda's turn to cut him off. "You should what, Jaime?" She took his own words, twisting them against him as she crossed her arms over her chest. "Throw on your armor and go kick Henry's ass? Is that what you want to do?" She accused, taking several steps toward him.

Jaime didn't back down, meeting her iron gaze with one of equal strength. "Maybe- maybe, yeah! Maybe I will!"

He was supposed to be a hero now. He had to do something.

That set her off even worse as she continued to press him, moving even closer. "Brilliant, Reyes, fucking brilliant." Brenda praised, her words oozing with joyless sarcasm. "Do you have the memory of a goldfish? Because the last time you brought the Scarab out, SHIELD spent three weeks chasing us across the country! How much sleep did we get then, Jaime, huh? How close did they get to catching us?"

He fought the Silver Surfer. He helped save the world.

Jaime took a step backward, his hands moving up to run through his hair. He could feel his heart pounding through the front of his chest. There was a pressure in his skull as he felt an unrelenting desire to drive his fist through something. He was angry. So, so angry. But he felt a snaking pit of doubt forming in his stomach. He remembered those first nights all too well- he remembered how palpable his fear was back then- he was sure they were going to be caught. He didn't want to go back to those days. Yet...at the same time... "Am I supposed to do nothing?" He asked, his voice broken and pleading. "Is that it? You want me to just sit here and listen like I couldn't stop it whenever I wanted?"

But now...

"Yes!" She affirmed without skipping a beat. She was equally distraught, if not more so. She felt like a monster for trying to convince Jaime not to help someone in need. It made her soul ache with a painful sort of spite; she hated having to be on this side of the argument. But she knew he had to hear this. She knew from the very depth of her marrow that Jaime needed to be reminded of the consequences his actions would wrought. "It's not worth the risk. If you get caught, we're done. Do you understand that? We're done. They're going to lock you up and throw away the key. Every night we spent in the back of that stupid...stupid van? It'll- it'll be wasted. You'll be blamed for everything that happened and, and we- I- won't get to see you again."

...Now he couldn't save just one little girl?

Those words cut deep, and they gave Jaime pause. He retreated another step, his eyes falling to his feet as he was overcome by shame and guilt. Conflicted, weary and cold, the only thing he wanted to do now was to shut out all of the noise and leave. He stood in silence for several minutes, the sound of that vitriolic arguing like the constant, mocking whispers of his inner demons. His shoulders sunk when he finally spoke, his voice naught by a broken mutter. "Alright. Let's tell Larry." The landlord could handle it. He'd tell the police, and...and they'd come down and talk to Henry again...Maybe this time it'd change. Maybe this time it'd be better.

And if not?

'Just ignore it, Jaime.' He was forced to tell himself.

Some hero he turned out to be.
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