Hidden 3 yrs ago Post by Heat
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Heat

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OZYMANDIAS


New York City, Midtown Manhattan business district, present day


The largest room on the highest floor of the skyscraper was near silent except for the distinctive 'click clanks' of the secretary's high heeled Saint Laurent pumps touching the tiled floor with every step she took. In her hands she clenched a stack of papers, thick framed glasses were over her eyes and she adjusted them as she approached her boss, the owner of the building and the company it belonged to. The distinctive logo was painted on the outside of the skyscraper, in a sector between the uppermost room and the rows of windows below it. Adrian Veidt had his back turned towards her as he gazed out the window, taking in the sights and sounds of the bustling city of New York. He stood with his hands folded in front, the secretary only giving a look towards the back of his head, his blonde hair was neatly parted to the side.

"Mr. Veidt, I have the forms you wanted to see, the actors the studio feels would be a good choice to play you." She stated, her lipsticked lips moving as she put the papers on the center of his neatly kept desk.

Adrian turned his head towards her as she did so, his blue eyes trailing towards the papers. Then he shifted his entire frame. Clad in a fine gray designer suit, a violet tie accentuated the expensive outfit. The color purple was one of his favorites, it highlighted his outfit back when he took to the streets to fight crime. He was past that, the world was active with caped crusaders and masked scoundrels, that wasn't his life anymore. He was deadset on changing the world, heroes and villains brawling in ridiculous outfits did little to make the Earth a better place.

"Excellent, thank you Angela." He said with a smile as she left the room, the sound of her footsteps lessening in volume as she walked away from him then through an open set of doors.

Adrian walked behind his desk, then glanced at the papers. He gave them no more than a passing look, reading a few popular names, many of which were Hollywood elite he had met personally. Others were lesser known, but potential candidates. He'd pick the actors he felt would be best then the head of the studio would ultimately make the decision. The former masked hero didn't particularly care that his 'heroic backstory' was getting a big budget Hollywood adaption, it was another endeavor by his Veidt Industries.

As his fingers shifted through the sheets, he paused in motion at the sound of dozens of sirens going off, preceded by some sort of explosion. Adrian glanced out the window once more, his eyes traveling towards the United Nation's headquarters in the distance. He flicked on the plasma screen television in his office, then heard the reporter speak of the attack on the UN. Another disruption to the world's order. Masked villains causing more panic and pain, heroes on the way to stop them. He remembered those days. Then he strolled out the doors of his office, towards the elevator.
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Hidden 3 yrs ago 3 yrs ago Post by TGM
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TGM Clichéd Tsundere

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November 8th, 2017
Manhattan, New York City, Earth


“There’s a shipment moving in from Gotham, so you know it’s going to be big, cat. Real big. But are you sure you want to steal from Wilson Fisk? The fat man has paid a lot of money to keep this on the down low.”

A coy smirk ran across Felicia Hardy’s lips, her pupils glistening like sapphires for a moment as she perused the thought. Wilson Fisk had been a present force in her life since her first year of college and despite the meddling of Spider-Man, her desire for revenge on The Kingpin of Crime had not diminished with time. And while she knew that her friend in Gotham was more than aware of her “relationship” with Fisk, it was still a question that had to be asked. Questions had made Felicia stop and think about a situation before going headfirst into trouble before, but for the first time in several months she had no doubt and no restraint. She was not scared of The Kingpin or his connections. She had suffered too much for him to not suffer a little back—and this time she had the upper hand.

“And the fat man is going to lose a lot of money.” The metahuman thief cooed, hands buried in her winter coat.

“If this falls on our asses? I’m running to a monastery in Bhutran. I don’t want The Kingpin’s dogs on me. I saw what happened to Lester Witz.”

Margaret Pye wasn’t the only one who remembered Witz’s fate at the hands of The Kingpin’s top enforcers. Felicia vividly recalled the “message” sent to New York’s underbelly after Fitz made off with something close to The Kingpin with a fleeting idea that he could make the bank by selling it to the global market or the feds. Lester Witz didn’t know The Kingpin had ties to actual, one-hundred percent, authentic ninjas. Lester Witz was tortured in Chinatown for sixteen days before he broke. Lester Witz didn’t cover his tracks or understand who The Kingpin was. But then again, that was the difference between a professional like the Black Cat and an ignorant schmuck like Lester Witz. Felicia knew better. But that didn’t help her associate in Gotham’s nerves any less. The Kingpin was a horror story a thousand times worse than Harvey Dent or Oswald Cobblepott. It made sense to be nervous.

Felicia may have been devil-may-care about the whole thing, but she wasn’t stupid; and she sure as hell didn’t want her associates to end up on the other end of a yakuza wedding. No one would work with her if she was that reckless. And she knew she needed people to want to work with her. Especially if she was going to head into New Jersey and tempt fate by committing a robbery in Gotham. A crazy idea without The Kingpin added into the mess.

“Magpie. It’ll only happen if you think it’ll happen.” She moved her right hand out of her coat, placing it on the brunette Gothamite’s shoulder. “Besides, all of the risk is on me. This cat is doing the legwork.”

Margaret nodded. “Unless The Caped Crusader screws everything up.”

Felicia let out a stifled giggle, “If I can handle Spider-Man, I can handle The Batman and his little pet bird.”

To anyone but Felicia Hardy it may have sounded crazy to hand wave the dynamic duo as a non-issue. But Felicia had heard enough stories and watched enough footage to notice that the prestigious Dark Knight of Gotham was getting slower. The key factor for this robbery was doing it carefully and not bringing either vigilante into it if at all possible—though she knew to prepare for the occasion.

“Besides, they won’t even be an issue if we time it right.”

“Holy shit. You’re worse than Catwoman.”

If Felicia had a tail it would've been trailing behind her.
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Hidden 3 yrs ago 3 yrs ago Post by Dream Weaver
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Dream Weaver ❝𝖶𝖾𝖺𝗏𝖾𝗋 𝗈𝖿 𝖣𝗋𝖾𝖺𝗆𝗒 𝖶𝗈𝗋𝖽𝗌.❞

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T H E B L A C K C A N A R Y



► Nᴇᴡ Yᴏʀᴋ Cɪᴛʏ // Pʀᴇsᴇɴᴛ Dᴀʏ

November 12th, 2017 // 1:12 P.M.

After she had left the courtroom, her phone started to ring as she excused herself from beside her client as it was her father calling her. She answered it with an excited hello since she did win yet another case but this win was different considering she wasn't in Starling City but she was in the City That Never Sleeps known as New York City. It was a high profile case and she won, which made her feel great. "Daddy, I am fine. You have to quit worrying yourself about me. Let's not forget about your heart condition. And yes, I did win the case." Laurel mentioned because she hated it whenever her dad would worry about her. Something that was rather constant for him to do and while she did not mind it sometimes, it's been a little bit too much since she came to New York City. She missed being in Starling City at times though and often reminisce about her time there especially whenever her dad called.

"I love you, too, dad but get some rest and I'll call you soon. I'll call you, not you call me." Laurel stated as her father chuckled on the other line then told her goodbye as she said the same then hung up the phone. Her heels clicked against the floor as she went back over towards her client, who was surrounded by officers, with a smile and an apology. She held her briefcase into both of her hands now and in front of her as she gazed upon her client now. "Today was a good day and you should enjoy your freedom. Have a nice one, Mr. Adamson."

Once she spoke those words, she walked away from him and the officers then headed out of courthouse as she walked down the stairs now. She had reached the parking lot and got inside of her vehicle as she exhaled a sigh while placing her briefcase in the passenger seat. While she did not really have any plans for the day, a walk in Central Park seemed like a good idea in her head so that's exactly what she was going to do for the time being. It was a lovely day outside and she just really needed to clear her head right about now.

An hour or so has now past as she ended her gallop through Central Park and started a new trek towards her apartment, which wasn't too far from where she was now. On her way towards her apartment though, she saw a guy pinning a woman against the wall then slapped her. "Hey!" Laurel called out as the man turned to gaze towards her now as the woman slipped away. The man eyed Laurel and he made it clear that she was now in his sights as she stood there, a bit frozen but she was certainly going to be on her toes at all times now.

While the thoughts constantly filled up her mind now, she placed into the back of her mind as she entered her apartment now. Laurel tossed her keys onto the table nearby and took off her coat that she placed onto the back of a chair nearby. Again, she exhaled a sigh as she went over towards a cabinet to grab a shot glass then walked over towards another cabinet to grab a bottle of Scotch. 'This is only a celebratory drink. This is only a celebratory drink.' She thought to herself repeatedly as she opened the bottle and poured it into the shot glass then grasped it as she chugged it down. Laurel then put away the Scotch and rinsed out the glass as she placed both items back where she got them from.

"Guess I can lay down for a bit now." She spoke to herself as she did decide to lay down, for now anyway.

► Hᴇʀ Aᴘᴀʀᴛᴍᴇɴᴛ // Pʀᴇsᴇɴᴛ Dᴀʏ

November 12th, 2017 // 6:05 P.M.

Laurel woke up with gasp as her ears twitched at the sound of an explosion. She could not help but feel a sort of quake as it seemingly rocked all areas surrounding. Without hesitation, she grabbed her remote control and turned on her television as the reporters were quickly on the case along with the police and security. She saw that someone had decided that today of all days was a good day to try, well succeed and blow up the United Nations Headquarters.

She now heard sirens as she did not think that she was going to need to put on the canary outfit but without a second thought, she went into her room and grabbed the outfit that was hanging up inside of her closet in the very back. "Looks like it's time to suit up." It seemed like that was every hero's saying but she was actually quoting it from Oliver, who use to say it a lot. She said as it seemed like the all black outfit put her in some sort of trance as she hear more and more sirens pass by.

After changing and placing a mask over her face, she went out of her apartment onto the fire escape as she jumped down from one to the other before her feet were planted on the concrete ground beneath her in an alleyway. She hopped on her motorcycle and revved the engine before going in the direction of the United Nations Headquarters.

► Uɴɪᴛᴇᴅ Nᴀᴛɪᴏɴs Hᴇᴀᴅǫᴜᴀʀᴛᴇʀs // Pʀᴇsᴇɴᴛ Dᴀʏ

November 12th, 2017 // 6:35 P.M.

Laurel, well The Black Canary, zipped and zoomed through the streets that lead towards the headquarters as she even took side roads to make sure that she got there quickly. Whenever she did arrive, people could not help but turn their heads towards her as the engine of her motorcycle revved loudly until she turned it off. She got off of her bike now, which she parked a few feet away from the headquarters as she then turned heel and started to walk towards the building.

While there, she seen other hero's or the like go towards the building now. She trailed not too far behind them but kept quiet because she wanted to gain some information, as well. She saw the display of the Sasquatch practically punch Deadpool through a wall of the United Nations building and did not know what to think right about now. 'Oh, great. Men.' She thought with an eye roll but decided that it was best to join their side and to make her presence known.

After thinking about it for another moment or two, she decided to waltz up further beside the so called Goliath or Sasquatch of a man, Wolverine and Northstar, who was flying beside them. "Figured you guys could use a woman's touch." She muttered but did not look towards either one of them as she smirked a little, as well. It wasn't her usual team of heroes but if they were there to help then they were all right in her book.

As they neared the scene, not even close enough but the smell of smoke and blood filled her nostrils. Small patches of fire still burned as she looked around at the carnage that laid waste before them. It was a gruesome sight to witness but she had seen a little bit worse than this. Just a little bit though. Most people were in a panic, others in a shock and others did not exactly know how to feel about the explosion. She parted her lips slightly apart as she wanted to speak but now wasn't exactly the best time to do so she just kept her comments to herself - For now, anyway.
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Hidden 3 yrs ago 3 yrs ago Post by BlackSam3091
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BlackSam3091 A Glorious Failure

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C H A P T E R O N E : C O M E T A S T E T H E V E N O M
MURPHY’S LAW

G o t h a m C i t y

November 7th, 2017 – 04:35am | The Cauldron


Tying a rope around an unconscious man’s ankles, looping the other end of that rope over a suspension beam, and using it to haul that man bodily into the air wasn’t as easy as it used to be. True, Stryker had put on weight in the last few years, but not so much that the job could have become this difficult. It felt like someone had lit fires deep in the tissues of his shoulder muscles, while his joints ached so bad that he was almost surprised that he hadn't began vibrating. And that was all without mentioning his knee. The damn thing just would not stop shaking, no matter how hard he tried to stop it. All of Bruce Wayne's expensive doctors had told him that there was almost no cartilage left in the joint anymore, and expressed wonder that he was walking without the aid of a cane. It was starting to look like that wouldn't be the case for much longer.

Annoyingly, not one of the thugs had been able to do so much as touch him. It had been a perfect operation. And yet, here he was with all these aches and pains. He cursed his stupidity, telling himself that he should have used the grapple’s motorised winch instead of lifting Stryker himself. But no, you just had to prove something to yourself. Was it worth it? Do you feel young again? Still, whats done is done. Stryker was beginning to come to. The break was over. Batman could show no weakness.

It was with fits and starts that the old man finally found consciousness, jerking himself back towards wakefulness. All that wrenching set his rope to spinning, round and round, leaving Stryker rotating helplessly. It gave him a three-hundred-and-sixty-degree view of his predicament. First, he took in the concrete floor and unfinished walls that seemed to surround him on three sides. Then, as the rope spun, he was treated to a view of the Gotham skyline, and with that information he realised just how high up he must have been, strung up inside one of the construction sites unfinished buildings. He spun on, finishing the rotation to come face to face with his tormenter.

“Awww, shit! You!” Stryker spat. He didn’t look terrified so much as he looked annoyed.

“Yes. Me.” The voice was one of the few things that came easier now than it did twenty years ago. Age lent his vocal cords a bone saw-like rasp that youth struggled to emulate.

“I ain’t gonna talk. Know that?” Batman didn’t answer, instead letting the silence seep, no noise in that early morning air other than the slow creak of the rope as Stryker inexorably wound round and round and round. The criminal struggled, vainly, to keep Batman in his eyeline. Why he would worry about letting his enemy get behind him now, when he was already at said enemies mercy, was beyond the Dark Knight. They'd been in this situation countless times before, and it was just beyond Alfred to free himself. “You can do what you want freak. We’ve both been here before, and I know you won’t kill me. So why should I talk? Broken bones heal. Get me?”

“I might not kill you Alfred, but I don’t have to save you.” It was hard to tell whether that look on Stryker’s face was confusion or if all the blood rushing to his head was giving him a headache, but regardless it was obvious that the comment set him to thinking.

“What the hell you talking about? Save me from what?” Batman had to stop himself from grinning. Sometimes, just sometimes the job was too easy. Criminals are a stupid and cowardly lot.

“The Rileys. They got away.” A lie. Moose and Ryan were both trussed up tightly and awaiting pick up by the GCPD. Stryker didn’t need to know that though. “How long, do you think, before they put two and two together and come up with five? How long until the Riley’s start pointing fingers for, looking for someone to blame for me showing up here tonight.”

It was surprising how quickly all the blood drained from Stryker’s face, considering he’d been hanging upside down for the best part of ten minutes now.

“No … you’re lying. They wouldn’t pin me. They know I ain’t a rat!” Stryker’s back was to Batman now, and this time he did allow himself a smile. A brief, triumphant smile. Gotcha.

“Do they? Two decades, Alfred. That’s how long I’ve been dogging your heels, ruining every deal you set up, taking down every unlucky fool stupid enough to partner up with you. That's a long time Alfred. Too long to be explained away as simple bad luck. Looked at in a certain light, it starts to get extremely suspicious.”

“I can - ”

“I'm sure they're all wondering how long we've been working together. How much I've been paying you to flip on the rest of Gotham's underbelly. I imagine they’re already setting the price for your head. How much is it worth, do you think? Ten thousand dollars? Fifteen? Certainly, no more than twenty, not for a has-been like you. Face it, this was your last chance, and you blew it.”

“You wouldn’t let - ”

“I could save you. I have contacts in the GCPD. We could see about getting you into wit-sec, setting you up somewhere far away from Gotham. A quiet place that you could see out your twilight years in comfort and safety. But only if you give me something to work with.”

"Tell me about the Venom, Stryker."


Years of beating the fight out of men had taught Batman how to recognise the moment they lost it. When they’d taken all the punishment that they could possibly suffer, and just gave in. Alfred Stryker had just lost his fight. No more could he dream of a throne as Gotham’s criminal royalty. Those days were long past, and in the past, they must remain. It was strange, but the Dark Knight felt a pang of something quite close to sadness in his chest, like he was witnessing the end of something unique, and that once it was gone the world would never see it’s like again. Stryker was the last of an old breed of criminal, one that madmen like the Joker and Riddler, with their colourful costumes and larger than life personalities, had done away with. You’re getting melancholy in your old age.

“Ok Batman. You win. I’ll talk.” Styker’s voice was taut with resignation. “Cut me down and I’ll tell you everything I know.”

November 7th, 2017 – 06:10am | Old Gotham, GCPD Headquarters



A light, yet steady rain had begun to filter down upon the city. Dawn was visible on the horizon, but still some way off. The roof of GCPD headquarters was almost as familiar to him now as home, though he’d still rather be elsewhere. He had work to do back at the Cave, after all. Still, this was necessary, even if it was a job he’d rather not have to do.

“ … we’d get a detail on Stryker, and get him into wit-sec as soon as possible. Almost seems like wasted effort, considering how little we got outta him, but c’est la vie.” Detective Harvey Bullock was almost unrecognisable from the once dirty cop that Batman had first crossed paths with. A serious health scare a couple of years back had forced the detective to rethink his less healthy habits, and as a result he’d lost almost three stone in weight. He was still a shabby dresser, though that was now because none of his clothes fit him, rather than because of his slovenly behavior.

Batman had contacted Bullock with everything that Stryker gave him, with the GCPD being quick to get on the scene and collar the thugs. After he’d been taken back to the station Alfred was made to repeat everything he had already told the Dark Knight. Which, as Harvey so succinctly put, wasn’t much. “So, he really doesn’t know who was giving him that venom?”

The Dark Knight turned away from his study of the distant skyline, and fixed his attention on Bullock. “He had no reason to lie.” Stryker was done. That much was obvious. Even he, the career criminal who had spent the last twenty years fooling himself into thinking that his best years weren’t behind him, could see that the writing was on the wall now. He hadn’t held anything back. He didn't have the resilience to fight anymore. He just wanted to close that chapter of his life.

“But, it’s ridiculous. All these drop boxes and secret notes. That’s S.H.I.E.L.D garbage. It ain’t the kind of thing our scumbags deal in.” It was difficult not to agree with Bullock’s sentiments. Stryker had painted a bizarre picture. Apparently, he’d received an anonymous note a week ago, telling him to be on the lookout for a package at the Dixon docks. Sure, enough the package had arrived, bearing Stryker’s name, and inside the vials of Venom. Along with it were more instructions, stating that Alfred was to sell the product for no more than five hundred dollars apiece, and that if he did well more vials would make their way to him. Stryker had nothing else to give them.

It was a vexing mystery. Who could possibly benefit from the transaction, other than Stryker himself. The unknown benefactor hadn’t asked for anything in return, and their only stipulation was that the Venom was sold cheaply. It almost seemed like the only goal here was to cause chaos, because if that steroid had made it's way into the hands of the Riley's, there would have been chaos.

“I checked with Blackgate, by the way. Bane’s still enjoying a vacation at the expense of the state, so it can’t be him. Unless he’s doing it from behind bars. . . which probably isn’t beyond him.” Batman didn’t respond, but he doubted this was the work of Bane. It didn’t match his MO. The man did not willingly share power. Whenever he had sold his venom in the past, he had always made sure that the cost was high, and the deal favored him. No, this was someone else. Someone playing a longer, more intricate game.

“Well, we’ll monitor the situation. If it gets any worse, we’ll be ready for it.”

“It is going to get worse. This is just the beginning, Bullock. We’ve removed Stryker, but whoever’s behind this will just find someone else to deal their drugs. They’ve probably already got alternative dealers working all over the city.”

“Yeah, I figured. This is Gotham, after all. If something can go wrong, it will. Sooner, rather than later usually.” They fell silent then, the detective digging in his inner jacket pocket, while the Batman watched him fumble. Finally, Bullock pulled a plastic bag of carrot sticks clear, taking a moment to pop one into his mouth. Apparently he still craved his cigars, years after giving them up. The carrots were a poor substitute, but they eased the mouth boredom. It was still another minute before Bullock spoke up. Another minute silently hoping that the subject would go away on it’s own.

“So, uhhh, before you do your Houdini act, you should know that I retire at the end of next month.”

“I know.” He’d read Bullock’s retirement request almost as soon as he’d submitted it to his Commissioner. He’d been inside the GCPD’s computer systems for so long that he probably knew more about their inner workings than their IT staff did.

“Of course, you knew, silly me, thinking I had news for the omniscient Batman.” The detective ground his carrot in annoyance. He seemed genuinely annoyed that he hadn’t been able to surprise the Dark Knight, even with this. He should have known better. Still, with that awkwardness out of the way, Batman could get back to the cave, and finish the nights work.

“I’ll need a list of suitable replacements before you leave.”

“Uh-huh. Been a pleasure working with you too.”
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Hidden 3 yrs ago 3 yrs ago Post by Forgiveness
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Forgiveness The Best Sunbro

Member Seen 2 yrs ago



Manhattan
12:52 A.M


"I'm starting with the man in the mirror"
"I'm asking him to change his ways!"
"And no message could have been any clearer"
If you wanna-"


A stubby finger clicked the taxi radio off."Alright here's your stop pal". The cab driver eyed the cash counter with a grin."$22.45,you payin with cash or a card?". Frank didn't speak. Instead he placed a fifty dollar bill into the cabbie's hand and opened the car door,stepping outside as he did so. The vigilante grabbed a black dufflebag from the floorboard and slung it over his shoulder. The cab sped off,leaving Frank infront of the derelict warehouse.

From his various informants,Frank had found out that this was the place where Donald'The Don' Levetto produced and distributed half the city's ketamine. That wouldn't be the case after tonight.

He quickly but pragmatically made his way behind the large building where the circuit box and the backdoor resided. Frank set the duffle down on the ground and unzipped it,producing one M18 claymore mine and a military-grade gas mask. The claymore was planted just three feet away from the door,the tripwire tightly wrapped around the door handle. One light pull to make sure it was taut. With a strong yank the wires it the circuit box were ripped in half. Lights out.

Time for work.

Time for Punishment.



Donald was not a happy man. First and foremost,one of the supply trucks got pulled by the feds earlier in the week,so production and profit were gonna be low as shit. Second,the lights in the crap building went out..again."Ay Johnny,go out back and check the circuit breaker". Johnny Levetto had just injected himself with about twice the dose he normally did.""Sure...no problem...big...bro".. His speech was slurred and his pale blue eyes rolled to the back of his head. He wasn't going to be of any use for a while."Damn junkie".The gangster said with a scowl."Tony,get your ass out back and check the circuit breaker. Now.". The capo nodded and stumbled in the inky blackness,feeling for the door. His hands graced upon smoothed metal, and then a door handle "I think I found the door!".

Click

The entire backside of the warehouse exploded violently,instantly atomizing the unlucky soul who opened the door. The abrupt explosion set off a chain-reaction within the warehouse,causing the various ketamine stations to explode,bringing their cooks to a fiery demise. The sound of blood curdling screams quickly filled the warehouse. Skin was melted from bone. Blood was brought to boiling inside living hosts. It was hell on earth.

Donald had been blown to the far side of the warehouse. His back had slammed straight into the steel wall,breaking his spine in all but a few places. Despite this,he was alive. And conscious. The mobster turned his head towards the hell-fire,watching as his men were burned alive and their skin peel back,revealing the muscle and veins underneath. Donald stared at the scene for what seem like an eternity until a dark silhouetted figure appeared behind the fire.Keep it together Don,just ya mind playing tricks on you. The figured emerged from the fire,two Colts in each hand. A man. No, not a man,a nightmare. The Punisher. Donned in a gas mask and the signature skull,Frank methodically made his way to Don. His black combat boots squished with each slow step. That blood would be hard to get off later.

The Punisher knelt down beside Don,placing the smooth barrel of the right-hand Colt to his temple."Donald". The former mobster was sobbing uncontrollably,aware of what his fate was now."Donald, the way I see it is that you've got about five more minutes to live. So before that happens,I need you to tell me who your supplier is".

"Burn in hell Punisher"

Wrong answer.

Blam!

One .45 ACP round,straight through the shoulder. Donald cried out in agony,eyeing his shoulder as deep crimson fluid flowed from it."Try again". Frank dug the barrel of the gun deep into the wound,twisting the weapon as blood gushed from the it. Donald screamed in antagonizing pain."Dogs Of Hell!Dogs Of Hell!,just stop,please stop". The Punisher removed his Colt from the wound,blood tripping off the barrel."Now that wasn't too hard,right Don?". Frank placed the barrel back to Don's temple,a black gloved thumb pulling the hammer back.

"You'll never kill them Punisher,they're outta your league. You're a dead man.". The mobster chuckled a little,which soon turned into a violent cough.

"Dead Man?"

Blam!

"Oh,but I've never felt more alive"

Don's blood and brain matter were flung onto the wall,like a artist would fling paint onto a canvas. Killing was Frank's art and blood was his paint. The vigilante stood from his crouched position and exited the nearly flame engulfed building. His work was done here. He had a new objective now. The Dogs Of Hell.I'm coming for you... Frank was right down the street from a local 24/7 diner. Maybe he'd pay them a visit.


Manhattan
1:26 A.M


"Breaking News from the meatpacking district. Earlier today several fires erupted from a disused warehouse where, Donald 'The Don' Levetto was currently making and distributing ketamine. Officials say that the blaze was relatively easy to put out but the cause of which is currently unknown. Some are saying it was a gask leak that eventually caught flame,while others say that the fire was started purposely. Donald and all his capos were found charred inside the remnants of the building. Stay tuned for more updates"

Frank turned away from the high-hanging television and went to sipping his coffee. His black leather trench coat was buttoned to where his skull covered armor wasn't visible. A cryin shame how such a unfortunate thing could happen. A smirk formed on his lips at the thought. Frank didn't care if he got recognition,all that mattered is that he was making the streets safe. The world safe. One fat gangster at a time.

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Hidden 3 yrs ago 3 yrs ago Post by Bounce
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Bounce

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C H A P T E R O N E : T H E L O N G W A Y H O M E
CAPTAIN MARVEL RETURNS


The red headed woman was sorting through laundry.

Not in the usual sense. With so many people transiting through the Xavier Institute, the mansion could rack up laundry like nobody’s business. But this was different. This wasn’t wrestling with the piles of dirty clothes left for the ubiquitous someone else to worry about -- as if some good Samaritan existed that would magically make them disappear or transform them into clean clothes -- or even the stack of actual clean clothes that needed to be sorted and then distributed back to their rightful owners... assuming they could be identified.

No, this was the pile of clothing that was gathering for eventual delivery to a Goodwill donation center.

Eventually being the operative word.

She thought she remembered putting a few things of Sammy’s in there and, sure enough, she found them. Along with one of Calvin’s old Wham! tee shirts. Luckily, the laundry room was a judgement free zone. If it wasn’t, then Victor’s underwear would definitely be the subject of more gossip.

Folding an old sweatshirt that looked to be Billy’s size over one arm, the Marvel Girl made her way through the school, crossing into the boy’s dormitory. Knocking lightly on the door, the woman peeked into the room occupied by the school’s youngest students.

Sammy was looking back at her, seated on the floor in front of a Playstation 3, with half a fruit roll-up hanging out of his mouth.

When she turned her head, she found him.

Billy was on the spare bed. Out like a light. The lighting and noise from the video game on the small television in the room not even disturbing him as he slept soundly, and it wasn’t even seven thirty.

Leaving the folded clothes on the nightstand, Jean reached out to telekinetically lift the boy up and tuck him into the bed. Then slipped back out of the room.

W E S T C H E S T E R

November 13th, 2017 | 5:22a.m. | The Xavier Institute of Higher Learning

The mansion was dark.

The tee shirt was too large for him. It was sized for an adult, the collar hanging off one shoulder as the garment reached down past his knees. Big, block letters on the front read PROPERTY OF XAVIER INSTITUTE ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT. The signature X icon was in the center, slightly washed out and distressed.

It was an odd assembly of skinny legs, stick arms, and bed hair coming out of the dorms as Billy stumbled his way in the dark through the familiar-yet-always mysterious Xavier estate.

He found himself standing in the kitchen, but he was afraid to get himself something to eat. He didn’t want to accidentally wake someone up by making too much noise trying to remember which cabinets and draws held things like bowls or spoons. Plus, he didn’t like the idea of just helping himself to someone else’s food.

He found himself out on the back patio instead. The sky was still dark. The sun an hour away from rising. Even still, in the persistent twilight, Billy’s breath formed a shadowy cloud in front of his face.

The cloud was illuminated, the snow and ice around his feet transformed to steam, as static energy crackled around the boy’s small form. Drifting upward, the mansion patio soon fell away from beneath his feet.

He ascended into the clouds, then further skyward still. The temperature and oxygen levels dropping as the atmospheric pressure soon feel below human tolerance.

Billy Batson was straddling the line between Earth and space. His eyes shut, the boy tilted his head back and just listened to the world below.

They said his power came from six immortal elders. A titan, two Greek gods, two Greek heroes, and a Jewish king. Even so, Billy couldn’t have said if God existed or not. He’d met a lot of really powerful beings who could have easily fit the bill. Some benevolent. Most of them not. But, even still, he knew the people below were looking up at the sky and wondering if God heard their prayers.

Billy didn’t have that answer for them.

But he heard them.

The sounds of the world below. Car crashes. Guns. Explosions. Sirens. A woman struggling as she took her last breath. The cries of a newborn. It was a symphony of death and life.

It was a world in which he needed to find his place.

“Costume on.”

A wave of heat lightning shot through the upper atmosphere. In the blink of an eye, the tee shirt and underwear clad youth was transfigured into a red and blue hero. The white cowl and cape billowed behind him, as the child looked down at the world below.

He was gone in a flash.


The sun was up before Sammy was.

Coming down into the kitchen, the aquatic mutate stumbled half awake into the kitchen, fumbling haphazardly for a chair at the breakfast table. Someone had CNN up on the television. Sammy immediately tuned it out.

Judging by the look of the people gathered in the kitchen, he wasn’t the only one.

“Breaking news from our affiliate in San Juan this morning...”

Jean came by with a bowl of cereal. “Did you see if Billy was up?” the woman asked, depositing the bowl down in front of him.

The aquatic boy just looked at her strangely for a moment. “Billy was already gone when I got up this morning.”

“...the hero Captain Marvel, not seen since 2015, appeared there in the early hours of this...”

Folding his newspaper closed, the bombastic Beast suddenly looked up from his untouched plate. Turning his head, Hank McCoy offered only, “I may have located the lad.”

A furred, clawed hand reached over to pick up the television remote, and dial up the volume further, as people started to gather around.

“Witnesses report that Captain Marvel appeared here this morning, removing debris from a playground and park that had been inaccessible since Hurricane Maria swept across the island. Unconfirmed reports are also circulating of claims by people in local hospitals of being helped there by the child hero from isolated pockets across the island.”

“He went to Puerto Rico?” Sammy uttered, somewhat in a daze and disbelief.

“It would appear,” Hank affirmed with a faint nod.

“Additional sightings were reported in Indonesia, where smartphone video appears to have captured footage of Captain Marvel rescuing a capsized boat in the straits of Malacca.”

“Just how long do you think he’s been awake?” Jean posed, rhetorically.

The sudden crack of thunder seemed to shake the mansion. When the group at the breakfast table had looked up, the tee shirt and underwear clad Batson was coming in from the back patio. Glancing up, Billy was taken aback by the attention, as everyone seemed to be staring.

“Oh, hey guys,” the boy managed weakly, drifting inside of the kitchen. “I, uh, just felt like taking a walk this morning.”

“We here at CNN don’t know where Captain Marvel’s been these last two years, but we’re glad to see him back.”

Tilting his head to one side, Billy’s attention shifted from the people at the table to the face on the screen. They were talking about him?

In rapid succession, Jean was hugging him. Then she was holding him out at arms length. And then she was scolding him. “You could have left a note.”

“I figured I’d be back by...”

“What’s an Indonesia?” Sammy asked, flipping around so that he was leaning over the back of his chair as he asked the question. Then he seemed to think twice about the question. “Or, like, where’s Indonesia?” he clarified a moment later. Before sliding down in his chair. “That’s a place, right?”

Billy just blinked, looking between Jean and Sammy. Then just blurted aloud, “They know about Indonesia?”

Seriously, he figured Mexico maybe. But Indonesia? That quickly?

“The world’s a smaller place now,” Hank offered cryptically, before picking up his tea.

Whatever that meant.
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Hidden 3 yrs ago Post by Roman
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B O O K I - G E N E S I S
A DEVIL, RUNNING

MISSISSIPPI RIVER NORTH

November, 2017 | NEAR THE KENTUCKY BORDER


Dani ran like the hounds of Hell were behind her; as far as she was aware, they were, and far worse besides. Dani remembered herself when she had been under the influence of the devil that dwelled deep within, and she was certain that far greater evils came for her now. Surely, greater still were the demons being conjured, down there in the dark pits of Tartarus. She felt it - a deep dark worm that twisted inside her, granting her a terrible knowledge of what was being prepared. A knowledge borne of experience.

Trees and bush and bramble all crashed beneath and parted in front of her, her heavy boots laying waste to twigs and weeds and insects alike. She had been running for several days, stopping only as night drew close and dusk descended around her, at which she would immediately halt and seek shelter and a way to sequester herself away from evil; she bore no fear for her own safety, nor any sympathy for the victims of what would be a righteous wrath - Dani was afraid of what would happen were the devil within was to be loosed upon the world at large. Evil's presence would draw it out as true as rain brought the worms, and naught but the sun and His holiness would seal it back within her - but the sun could not fix the damage wrought by its release, and either He turned a blind eye, or was powerless too. Dani did not ponder as to which. She could not.

For now, the sun shone brightly, bearing down on her from its high perch up above. Despite its assault, she hitched up the collar of her jacket, feeling the bitter November breeze bits at the nape of her neck and set her hairs on end. Around her, the woods chittered and chirped with life, and Dani almost found herself lost in the immutable consistency of nature - but then the wind picked up again, and the light of the sun dimmed behind ominous clouds. She quickly found her way.

To her south lay Memphis, with Dani's last 16 years in Arkansas there with it. Somewhere behind that lay a half-wrecked town with smouldering ruins. In one of those ruins lay her parents, and several more besides - and somewhere else, between Memphis and her current location heading north along the banks of the great Mississippi River, were the agents of Mephistopheles, gaining on her with every mortal step she made. She knew a guaranteed way of stopping that slow gain, a method of outpacing her pursuers unequivocally. She knew she would not - could not - utilize that method. Not unless they laid hands upon her. And if - when - they caught up to her, they would.

Dani kept moving. The state border was close.
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Hidden 3 yrs ago 3 yrs ago Post by Sep
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C H A P T E R O N E

A M E R I C A S # 1 H E R O


Sam Wilson sat, shield resting next to him. The weight of the shield never failed to get to him, this shield was a legacy of all those that had come before him leading right back to the mighty Steve Rogers himself. Sometimes he worried if he was living up to the weight of the shield, the shadow cast by his predecessors was surely a long one and while for the longest period of time the Government had tried to convince people that Steve Rogers was still the one underneath the cowl and carrying the shield. When his predecessor was killed by the Winter Soldier the country had mourned for the loss of their hero.

With the changing of the political climate, Director Nick Fury decided that a new type of Captain America would help bring the country together acting as a new face for S.H.I.E.L.D and America in the International Superhero community. Sam Wilson, newly an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D and already being specially trained to essentially be a superhero was chosen by the Director. Given the shield, the uniform and then introduced to the world as the New Captain America. Obviously there was some pushback, and there still was chants o fNot our Captain! Many felt that the role of Captain America should be left vacant, dead with the fallen hero. Not that his predecessor had been the original. In all honesty he was a soldier, he hated the politics. The speeches, the hand shaking.

'Good Evening. I know many of you still mourn the loss of Steve Rogers, and I want to make it known that I am in no-way trying to replace him. He was a symbol to our country, and the world of the strength that lies within us all...

Sam wasn't for speeches, trying to exhume the confidence he needed to exhume wasn't terribly easy. He sighed as he stood up, picking up the shield he clipped it onto his flightpack. He stood up and walked out of the room towards the communications suite, the corridors of the helicarrier clean and shiny. Members of S.H.I.E.L.D walked passed him, offering him crisp salutes as he walked passed. He nodded back at them, he hit the button on the side of a door and it hissed open into a spherical room. A raised podium in the middle, also spherical in shape. The very centre of the Podium was raised even more as that is where the person transmitting stood. He wasn't entirely sure why S.H.I.E.L.D felt the need for such an elaborate room for communications.

Standing in the middle of the room the lights in the rest of the room dimmed. Holograms began to appear one by one, figures from all over the world around the platform. Brian Braddock Captain Britain, the Tao-Yu brothers The Collective, Shiro Yoshida Sunfire, David Semple Captain Canuck and many others. He took a deep breath. "Evening folks." There was no point beating it around the bush, straight to the point.

"At 0900HRS Local Time, S.H.I.E.L.D detected an incursion of A.I.M operatives off the Eastern Seaboard of the United States." Sam sighed, this wasn't the mission he was wanting to do. There was attack going on at the United Nations right now and yet he was going to be chasing A.I.M? "Multiple aircraft were dedicated coming from a number of different countries, tracing back as much flight information as possible S.H.I.E.L.D is hereby sending flight data to your respective agencies in order to allow you to conduct operations against them. I will be dealing with our incursion and will update you with any pertinent information. Captain America, out."

He walked off the podium and rotated his shoulders, stretching them out. Tapping his earpiece, he heard the voice of Agent 13 his handler. "Yes Captain?"

"Is the Quinjet and strike team all ready to go?"

"Yes Captain."

"Good, wheels up in five."
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Hidden 3 yrs ago 3 yrs ago Post by ErsatzEmperor
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ErsatzEmperor Polemically Sent

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W O L V E R I N E
F E A T U R I N G A L P H A F L I G H T


12th November, 2017
The United Nations Headquarters
New York


So much for a simple mission.

Wolverine couldn't help but feel a little guilt, unlikely as it sounds; he was not known as a man who got too bogged down with emotional baggage. He had convictions, sure, but his world required very few of them. He could take a lot in his stride and he'd seen enough blood to dull anyone to tears. Of what he could remember from his life before the Hudsons had brought him back to humanity, he had been a savage animal. He was a killer when he was chained, he was a killer when he was freed. The orders and the brainwashing made it easier to put aside but what remained was not a man of compassion or empathy. He lived with a loose moral code and had a strained relationship with kindness. But there were some ways even a mountain could be made to move. So today he felt guilt.

Not for the attack on the UN mind you. Once he found whoever had done this it would take a stronger man than the two beside him to stop him gutting them where they stand, and one of them was a gamma monster standing at three times his height. As a team they were well equipped to try and put a stop to whatever was going down here, even if they were down three members (Vindicator would not have approved if she'd known what they were planning to do and would have let on to her husband if they were really unlucky; Talisman strongly objected to going behind the leaderships' back and refused to come with them; Snowbird, while sympathetic to the proposed course, would have been useless outside of her native land, with her power and vitality reducing rapidly when away). The three remaining were certainly doing more good than harm. Their help might even be welcomed, in the short term.

He certainly wasn't guilty about being there, despite his own insubordination and possible straining of his friendship with the Hudsons. Going stateside on a hunch was not something that Department H smiled upon on a good day (although usually he had James to hand to vouch for him when they got too focused on his slights). Logan had told Hudson about the tip off he received and was promptly shutdown.

"I can't go along with this Logan," He'd asserted. "This... Logan, you're telling me things I can't just accept. Vampires. In New York?"

"He's not a vampire." He had groaned, rolling his eyes. "He's flesh and blood but he's lived longer than I have."

"Even if that is true..."

"I've seen him firsthand, Mac. Ring-side seats."

"Even if I could believe that, how would you know where he's going to be?"

"Weasel explained..."

"Weasel. This is the source of your information? A bartender, for God's sake. You're hearing yourself, right?

"I'm not asking you to believe him. I'm not even asking you to believe me. I'm asking you to let me do this; we can take the team, get them some practice in. I know Walt would --"

"Absolutely not!" He had snapped. "Alpha Flight is not... It's not a tool for your own personal vendettas. I get it. This, uhh. Bloodstorm," he said, before he was cut off.

"Bloodscream."

"Whatever. When you've dealt with him in the past you were a private citizen. You aren't now. You could gallivant across the world. You can't now. You are a civil servant, a member of a division of the Canadian government. There are ways of going about doing things like this. I can't authorise this kind of a mission on a hunch. Now if you get me proof of this, solid evidence of what he's doing.."

"You know that's not how it works." The gravel in his voice took on a more coarse texture in response. "This is the kind of filth who kills because he needs to. He's not going to stop and let us catch our breath now that we're on to him." James was out of line. The kind of evidence Mac needed required innocent people to die. That wasn't happening.

No, skipping out on the team was all Logan could have done. He wasn't left a choice. He had an obligation. To right a wrong. No, he was only guilty that he had been distracted from the task at hand. They had been casting a wide net, trying to find some evidence of Bloodscream's presence in the city. Anything that they could go back with to justify a full operation. But rats know when to flee sinking ships. This UN business jeopardised all of their work and the immortal pain in Logan's ass would be primed to scuttle off now that the heat was on. For that he was out for blood.

So here they were. A band of Canadian metahumans, not four days on American soil and embroiled in preventing sub-aquatic war.

Heroes - costumed and not - had began to flock to the scene. Logan even thought he'd seen the Hulk. As Sasquatch, Wolverine and Northstar had first approached the building, and the merc with the mouth, Logan's senses had picked up one such hero. It was the smell he registered first. Gas. He thought. Then the engine roared into earline. Two tires skidding across the tarmac, light against the ground. The bike had stopped and the occupant's footsteps skirted towards them but kept their distance. It was only after Deadpool had been knocked back that she decided to make her entrance. She walked to them, matching their gait and said something like,

"Figured you guys could use a woman's touch". Logan smirked to himself as Black Canary emerged.

"I don't know who you are, Doll, but we have our hands full at the moment." It would take more than a knock to keep Deadpool down and he knew there were others who required their help. "Lend a hand or get out of the way."

"Now now, Logan." The Sasquatch chimes in. Although his senses were less trained and newer to him than Logan's, he had noticed the interloper as well. "Take no notice of him. That's just his way of asking for help."

"A pleasure to meet you," The youngest of the assembly pipes up, flying to meet her eyeline as they travelled. "We're Alpha Flight. You might have heard of us". Logan rolls his eyes, before noticing the mutate infront of them start to move.

"My ass!" Deadpool yells, as he raises an arm. Clenched in his fist was a grenade.

"Networking can wait..." Logan yells, popping his claws. Time to let loose.
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Hidden 3 yrs ago Post by Roman
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B O O K I - G E N E S I S
THESE BOOTS

MISSISSIPPI RIVER NORTH

November, 2017 | A BAR, ALLEGEDLY


The bar - if it could be referred to as such, though Dani suspected 'dive' or 'last stop before your Next Destination' would be more appropriate - was a little pungent, a little damp, and a little dingy. Low-hanging sunlight lazily filtered in through the dusty glass panes of the windows, and through the cracks between the wooden wall-boards that looked - and smelt - at least a few decades old. Besides herself, and the heavy-set man behind the bar watching his patrons through beady eyes, with a wiry gray beard and a greasy flannel shirt, there were only two or three men quietly drinking warm, cheap beer out of water-spotted glasses. They had stirred briefly when Dani had stepped in, glaring at the new intruder before turning back to their booze and their muted, introspective monologues. She wasn't sure if they had glared because of her alien youth and gender relative to the rest of the apparent demographic, or because her arrival had brought an unwelcome burst of yellow-white light in through the open door.

Dani ignored the one lingering pair of eyes and made her way from the doorway past the stained stools and low tables and up to the bar. She was hot and dry and her voice cracked and croaked in her throat as she brought it up for the first time since she had left the burnt carcass of her home. Her hand went into her jacket pocket and came out clenching a fistful of crumpled notes, one of which she put down on the counter in front of her as she took a seat across from the barman.
"Water." She said, more commanding than requesting. The barman obliged with a tall glass, and Dani gulped it down quickly and greedily before putting another note on top of the first. "Another," and so it was. A third note. "Beer." She said, and the barman hesitated.

"You ain't look old enough for that, girl." He replied, his voice as gruff and stern as his exterior. Dani could respect that kind of consistency, but she didn't respect being told no. Not right now.
"You ain't look dumb enough to ask those kinds of questions, mister. Beer?" She slapped another note down to emphasize herself, hoping to lay on equal layers of sugar and salt. The barman took a long look, and then sighed and fished out another glass from below the counter, filling it from the tap with a cloudy, copper, lukewarm-at-best liquid. Dani drank it as quickly as she had done the water, though she grimaced far more severely upon finishing.
"Goddamn, that was disgusting." She remarked, putting down her fifth and final note and pushing the empty glass back across the bar toward the taps.
"You keep payin', an' they'll keep bein' awful." He replied, and Dani gave a dry chuckle in turn.
"Now that sounds like the shrewd businessman you surely must be."

Dani let a silence fall, and then stretched that silence out, letting the slow whir of the ceiling fan play on and on as she sipped what would be her last drink for a day or two at least.
"You know the area?" She asked, and the barman simply looked on. Naturally. "You know the railroads?" He grunted in response and Dani took it as positive. "There are reliable line to Maryland? East coast?" The barman sniffed, and then sighed, leaning down on the counter.
"I done seen a whole lotta kids like you, girl. All comin' through, on way to somethin', or from somethin'. Don't ever see 'em come back, and most days I ain't in the habit'a thinkin' 'bout it. Which one'a you, eh? Runnin' to? Runnin' from?"
"I can take care of myself.
"Yeah, s'what I figured. They all say that, y'know. Every damn one'a them. Most'a 'em got some bravado on. Some got fear. Some jus' in over their heads. Some don't know better. You, though...you know. You gotta belief."

Dani said nothing. The man in the corner by the door continued to watch her, and she had surpassed feeling merely nervous about it.
"So is that a no, or a yes and you're just not going to tell me? Because, if in the case of the latter, I need to get back on the trail. I'm wasting daylight."
He took what appeared to be a final summation of her, head to toe, and then nodded, equally in acknowledgement and dismissal.
"That tin-can tool, Stark, usually gotta few shippin' crates on a regular run headed up the North-East line. I'd wager that were your best luck lie if'n your lookin' to train-hop up to the coast. Track's 'bout, I'd say, 2 miles due West."

Dani nodded in thanks, and finished her beer. She was still thirsty, but she suspected that had more to do with the lingering feelings of her skull and spine being aflame than it did with a lack of hydration. She left the bills - slightly crisp at their edges - on the bar and got up from her stool, turning on the spot and retracing her steps back towards the door. She thought to hazard a quick glance at the man who had been watching her - dust and dirt baked into the lines and wrinkles on his face and in his long, sweat-slicked hair. For a second, she thought his eyes were a striking yellow, but then they were a muddied gray and she had never doubted that they were ever anything but. He gave the slightest smirk as their gazes met and locked for an instant, and then he went back to his drink and silent contemplation of his navel and everything else besides, and Dani pushed the door open and found herself outside in the sun again. She got her bearings, and turned West, making her way towards the alleged train tracks.

She only had a few more days left in her; she hoped it was only her days that would be needed. Inside her jacket pocket, her knuckles whitened as she gripped a small wooden crucifix.
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Hidden 3 yrs ago 3 yrs ago Post by BlackSam3091
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BlackSam3091 A Glorious Failure

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Collab featuring @Lord Wraith
THERE'S TWO OF YOU?

G o t h a m C i t y

November 18th, 2017 – 12:45am | Near Gotham City Center


The night air was chilled. Fresh snow hung in the air, racing the dawn before the Gotham climate regained enough heat to ward winter off for a few more weeks. But the city knew the inevitable was upon it.

Winter was coming.

Holding Goliath's reins tightly, Damian watched the city pass by below as he made his way towards Robinson Park. The police prescence wouldn't be much of a problem, no one on the force knew the Batman quite like Gordon, and since he had retired, Damian was able to fool most officers into believing he was his father even with a different Batsuit. The cowl was all that truly mattered to most people.

Goliath suddenly dove towards the city's ground level. The acres of green below alerted Damian they were above the park as let out a whistle for Goliath to stop as the dragon bat turned to circle the park while Damian departed the saddle.

Diving towards the ground, Damian felt the rush as he was reminded of a conversation he had once held with Grayson while the pair were younger. He had asked Grayson, if he could have any power, what would it be. The older teen had paused, carefully wearing his option before replying.

"Flying is always the first thing that comes to mind, but I have to admit, Damian, I've learned to love falling."

Falling towards Robinson Park, Damian could fully appreciate what Grayson had meant when he had spoken those words so many nights ago. The rushing sensation was almost addictive as Damian allowed himself to feel before deploying the suit's wings and slowing his descent as the shock absorbing boots took the rest of the force the wings hadn't managed to slow.

"B-B-Batman!" A nearby GCPD Officer stuttered as Damian examined his badge. He was barely above being a rookie. A fresh face on the force, no doubt filling the ranks for the endless retirements that seemed to be parading out of the GCPD these days.

"The body." Damian's voice rumbled as he did his best to impersonate his father's own growl.

"It's over t-t-there." The officer said with a point as Damian slowly approached.

He was stopped in his tracks by a familiar, if unwelcome,voice.

"That," spoke the tinder-wood dry growl, "is not Batman."

The officer startled as a second form appeared, coalescing out of the night's shadows like a phantasm to form the huge, imposing figure of the one, true Batman.

"Jesus H Fucking Christ!" The officer yelped, hand dropping towards his sidearm before he realised just what, or more specifically who, he was looking at. "There's t-t-two of you now?"

"No. There isn't." Batman's eyes were pointedly fixed upon Damian, fixing him in place with a glare that witnessed the fall of maniacs, psychopaths, and tyrants. The officer, displaying an excellant acuteness, backed off several paces without saying a word. The Dark Knight didn't spare him another thought.

The Batman's chest was a roiling ball of twisting, treacherous emotions. Hurt, that Damian would try to usurp the cowl from him in such an underhand fashion; guilt, that he should have noticed this earlier, read the warning signs that had all appeared so obvious now; sorrow, that maybe this was a sign of things to come, a taste of 'tomorrow'. There was pride there too, the mixed, bittersweet pride that a man feels when he realises that his son finally feels ready to claim his place in the world, even if that means taking it at the expense of his father.

All those emotions, all those conflicting feelings, paled in the face of the anger though. That cold, hard fury that rose from the pit of his stomach to coil around his chest and constrict tightly upon his heart. The cowl was his. He was Batman, whether Damian liked it or not. As long as the blood run hot in his body, the mantle would be his, never to be claimed by a usurper, well-intentioned or otherwise.

The only outward sign of the Dark Knight's inner struggle was the slight narrowing of his eyes, and the shallow popping sounds his knuckles made as he clenched his fists tightly.

"Return to the Cave Robin," The emphasis he put on the name was unmistakable, "Burn that costume. I'll deal with this now." And you when I get home, was the unspoken, implicit threat.

"TT." Damian was hardly phased by the appearance of his father. The officer he had previously spoken to on the other hand was giving off a rather unpleasent odor having come face to face with Gotham's own urban legend.

"I thought you had a stake-out tonight." Damian stated. "Figured the Cauldron would keep you out of my way." He continued, ignoring his father's direct orders as he approached the body left for the Bat himself. "The M.O. here doesn't match my previous victim." Damian's voice tried to mask his disappointment as he continued to look over the body.

The Batman fought back a snarl. The boy ignored him. Ignored him. It felt like a vein upon his forehead began to pulsate. He couldn't remember Dick ever being this difficult. The cocky brat brushed him off as if he had done nothing wrong, heading towards the body to begin his examination. The Dark Knight followed on his heels, intending upon forcing the boy home before finishing up here.

All those plans evaporated as soon as he glimpsed the condition of the corpse.

"Extensive lacerations cover his back and torso, spelling out words, an invitation to be exact. The lacerations were allowed time to heal, time to form scar tissue even. This man was not simply killed and dumped. This was pre-mediated, dedication and thought put into it. He was held and tortured." Damian stated, a snarl forming in his throat. "Such an individual can not be allowed to roam Gotham."

Batman didn't answer. He couldn't. His mouth wouldn't work. His body refused to. Even his mind fell into a still blankness, a quiet, static fuzz that refused all sense and sensation. Is this how the dormouse feels, when it looks into the hypnotic dancing eyes of the viper? Is this what terror feels like? It had been so long, he could hardly remember. . .

The feeling passed quickly, though it left a bad taste in the back of his mouth, like sour milk. He returned his attentions to the body, but found it difficult to focus. Too many swirling, chaotic thoughts in his head. He dropped to his knees to better inspect the corpse, paying extra attentiveness to the mouth, the missing tongue, and the peculiar wounds behind the teeth. Almost as if someone had used a knife to force the mans teeth apart over and over again. Why though? Some sick parody of speech, forced upon the mutilated mute?

It couldn't be him, could it? He'd been missing for so long this time that Bruce had began to hope that he was gone for good. The wounds upon the body certainly looked like the work of his sick mind, but then there was a dozen different killers in Gotham who were capable of the same depravity. Zsaz, for instance.

It wasn't Zsaz though. Or Amygdala, or even the Mad Monk. Call it intuition, call it foresight, call it whatever you want. You know who's responsible here. You're just scared to admit it out loud.

The Batman climbed back to his feet, feeling the full weight of his forty-nine years, and turned to face Damian. He realised that his hands were shaking uncontrollably, and thrust them into the confines of his cape before the boy noticed.

"Stay away from this Robin." There was no emphasis on the name this time. No heat. The energy had drained from his voice, until all that was left was the tired man within. "I'll deal with it."

"So it is him." Damian stated, emphasising the word. "TT."

"The Doctor was right, he does have a hand in this." Crossing his arms, Damian felt as though the Gotham air had suddenly gotten cold. "Drake had mentioned the toll the Joker had taken on you, especially after Todd."

He mentioned the last word barely above a whisper. He knew the fragility of his father's psyche. The pains of dealing with a son rushing to adulthood, his father figure's failing mental facilities, the fact that every woman he cared about was no one to be found including Damian's own mother. The young man, could practically see Death's embrace reaching forth towards Bruce. His father may think he unobservant, but it didn't take the World's Greatest Detective to see the Dark Knight's hands were shaking beneath the billowing cape.

"I have to go." He stated breaking the silence. "Robbery in progress, suspect is dressed as a cat." He added before whistling sharply. "I believe it's family tradition that the men of the cowl chase women in tight leather." Damian stated, a small smirk turning in the corners of his mouth as he shoved his own worries back. No matter his age, his father could take care of himself.

Hopefully.

Goliath suddenly appeared as Damian jumped to a nearby bench and launched himself on the back of the dragon bat in one smooth motion before the two took off into the night sky. Avoiding any further scolding from the true Bat himself.

Batman watched the boy go. He tried to feel the anger, the pride, the sorrow, the guilt. Any of the emotions that had savaged him when he had first seen Damian wearing that costume earlier. But he couldn't. They weren't there anymore.

All he could feel was fear.
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Hidden 3 yrs ago 3 yrs ago Post by BlackSam3091
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BlackSam3091 A Glorious Failure

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Sorry, double post
Hidden 3 yrs ago 3 yrs ago Post by AndyC
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AndyC Freeborn Scum

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The Death of the Supermen

Part One


"Everyone, stay back!" I call out to the panicking crowd. You'd think that in an emergency situation, moving to safety would be the last thing you would need to remind people to do, but when things start happening quickly and the people around you start to panic, it's easy to get confused, to freeze up, or to gawk at what's going on. Normally I try to personally ensure the stragglers and gawkers and deer-in-the-headlights get to a safe place.....



...but unfortunately, my hands are a little tied at the moment.

My vision explodes into stars and blotches of color as I tumble head over heels across the pavement, finally coming to a stop when something smacks me hard against the back. I'm quick to pull myself up to a vertical base, shaking the dizziness out of my head long enough to see that I'd slammed into a courier van, knocking it onto its side with the impact. After a quick scan to make sure there's no one inside of the van, I rub my jaw, still smarting from the impact.

It's not very often these days that I have to deal with someone who can hit hard enough to leave a mark on me. But damned if today didn't end up being one of those days.

I burned breakfast this morning while putting out a wildfire in Oregon, so Lois and Jon had to make do with cold cereal.

I got an earful from Perry about how my story on Lex Luthor's parole hearing is behind schedule, and how he's giving the story to Ron if I don't have it done by Friday.

The United Nations was attacked while I was preventing a suicide bombing in Pokolistan.

A hurricane is bearing down on Madripoor, and while I'm sure Kara can take care of it herself, I'd hoped to lend a hand....

"Stay down, Superman. I don't want to have to take all day killing you."



....but that's when the Atomic Skull came out to pick a fight.

Joseph Martin, the unfortunate victim of exposure to exotic radiation from one of STAR Labs' many unconventional experiments with alien or cosmic technology. The incident melted the flesh off of his bones, but somehow his consciousness remained intact, becoming a walking nuclear warhead, strong enough to go blow-for-blow with me and capable of letting out blasts of irradiated plasma that can burn an ordinary human to dust in an instant. While he has regained most of his sanity over the years, it's done nothing to alleviate his agony, or his hatred of the world around him.

"You want to fight me, Martin? Fine, we'll fight," I say, cracking my knuckles as I hover over him, "but not here. We do it outside of the city, where we can go twelve rounds without putting these people in danger."

"Why bother?" he answers, letting out a pulse of radiation that pushes me back, sending a wave of stinging pain and nausea through my body. "They're next once I'm done with you. Everyone burns today, Superman. Everyone burns!"

Atomic Skull lashes out with his right arm, hurling a radioactive plasma bolt at a group of terrified civilians. I've seen what happens to people who get caught by one of Martin's blasts: the dust that used to be their bodies leaves an imprint on the buildings behind them, burning a silhouette of the person in their final moment. 'Hiroshima shadows,' they call it.

That's not happening today, as I throw myself between the Skull and the bystanders, letting the blast hit me square in the chest. Every nerve in my body is screaming, my senses reeling with agony and sickness. It's not as bad as Kryptonite poisoning, but it's damned close.

"Nngh!" I grunt, digging my fingers into the asphalt to prevent myself from tumbling away. Gritting my teeth, I glare back at the Skull and ball up my fists. "Have it...*rgh!*....have it your way."

Atomic Skull isn't as cunning as Luthor, as advanced as Brainiac, as ruthless as Zod, or as unstoppable as Doomsday. But he's still tough as nails and incredibly volatile. His radioactive aura soaks up most of my Heat Vision, and weakens me when I get too close, so the longer this fight goes, the more trouble I'm in. First things first, then: disperse that aura as much as possible, then take him down fast and hard.

I take in a deep breath, and as Martin charges forward, I let him have it.



A cone of hurricane-force wind, super-cooled by compression to near Absolute Zero, knocks the Atomic Skull off of his feet, and more importantly, slows the decay of the atoms in his radioactive cloud, rendering it all but inert for a precious few fractions of a second. Which, hopefully, should be all I need.

I take a three-point stance, like a linebacker about to pounce, and rush forward, ramming my shoulder into the disoriented Skull's gut and grabbing him around the waist. Martin's tough enough that one punch, even from me, won't be enough to put him down, so I'm going to need to do something a little more drastic if I want to end this before someone gets hurt.

Before the Skull can react, I take to the air, wrenching him upwards as we go above the rooftops of New Bohemia, above the monolithic LexCorp Tower downtown, above the clouds. The air ignites in our wake, the friction from the sheer speed of our flight leaving a fiery streak as we go higher and higher.......

By the time the Atomic Skull regains his bearings and realizes where he is, the blue skies over Metropolis have given away to the endless starry expanse of space. The jaws of his death's-head visage hang open as he shouts and screams in protest, but up here there's no air for the sound to carry.

I'd tell him he brought this on himself, but since he can't hear it, I give him a look that says it for me. I then grab hold of his arm, whirl him twice around me, and on the third spin, I send him back down towards the planet.



I sure hope my aim was good, I think to myself as a bright flash of orange light signals that Atomic Skull has hit the atmosphere. Given the distance from the target area, the curvature of the Earth, the change in trajectory from hitting air resistance, and several dozen other minute variables, I only had a few fractions of a second to do the calculations in my head once and didn't have the time to double-check. If I was off by even a fraction of a degree, he could impact miles away from where I want, possibly in a populated area.

Taking a few precious seconds to soak some unfiltered rays of rejuvenating sunlight, I pour on the speed and begin following the Skull down, getting in a few jabs here and there to correct course as he arcs downward. A few hundred yards up, I put on the brakes and let loose with a blast of Heat Vision, not at the Skull himself, but at the ground he's barreling towards at Mach seven. Hitting solid ground at that speed would devastate the surrounding area and kick up a massive dust cloud like a meteor impact. As the ground liquefies into magma, however, he passes through it like a hot knife through butter before landing where I want....

....at the bottom of a massive concrete cask at the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Storage Facility. It's not Stryker's Island, to be sure, but a few hundred feet of concrete should contain him long enough for SHIELD to extract him safely.

"I told you I'd go twelve rounds with you once we were out of the city," I say, indulging in a little bit of swagger as I fly down the molten tunnel his landing had bored into the ground. "Should I start the ten-count now, or do you--.....wait...."

As the Atomic Skull lies in a heap at the bottom of the concrete cask, he begins to twitch, sparks and electrical arcs popping and crackling from different joints in his body. I focus my eyes to the X-Ray spectrum, scanning him for some sort of internal injuries....

....and all I find are circuitry and wires.

"A robot?" I say out loud, to no one in particular. "Who'd make a robot duplicate of--"

Wait. Something's wrong.

I can hear it, something very clearly off. When you can sense things on the other side of the planet, hear and feel and smell far beyond the range most would consider physically possible, it's important to have a few constants, standards that you can use to find your center in a sea of sensations generated by billions of people. For the longest time, I kept my hearing focused to a single rhythm, a pulse that I could always find no matter where I was. Eventually, it would be two rhythms, two steady drumbeats that let me know things were okay.

The heartbeats of my wife and my son. And right now, both of them are pounding like machine guns.

I smash the robot copy of the Atomic Skull with an appropriately large slab of concrete and take to the skies with a speed that would catch even Wally off-guard. Whatever's going on with the robot, it can wait. Lois and Jon are in trouble.

Normally, I take a long and winding route back to the farmhouse in Hamilton County, about twenty miles west of Metropolis. I don't want people following me back to my family, even if that house is home to a ten-year-old that can already lift a tractor and protected by a dog that chews on titanium like a rawhide bone. Now, though, I'm leaving a fiery comet-trail in the air across the Continental United States, and if someone wants to follow that trail, they won't like who they find at the end of it.

"Lois! Jon!" I call out as I land outside the farmhouse, the loud crack of a sonic boom announcing my arrival.

"Clark!" Lo calls back from the front porch, cradling a figure in her arms. "Oh, thank God, I wasn't sure what--"

"Dad!" I hear Jon from inside. "Mom won't let me come out. I can't see what's--

"Go back inside, Jon."

"But Mom, I--"

"Jonathan Samuel Kent, you go back inside right now." Lois says with the kind of protective fury that only a mother has.

"Listen to your mother, Jon," I say as I approach the front step, seeing exactly what it is she's holding. "This isn't something you should see."

Jonathan hesitates for a moment before I give him a stern look, and then he looks away and heads inside. I know that his own X-Ray vision is starting to develop at this point, but he knows better than to use it when both Lois and I tell him he shouldn't be looking at something.

Lois lays the figure back down, standing up as she wipes nervous tears from her eyes.

"I was working on a story in the office, and I.....I heard this loud thump, and Krypto started going crazy and I just...."

"It's okay, Lo," I say, putting my arms around her and holding her close. "I'll get the League on the line and we'll figure this out. In the meantime, I'll take it to the barn so Jon won't see it."

"God, I sound like such a mess," Lois laughs at herself. "Lois Lane-Kent, fearless reporter, the woman who's stared down terrorists and alien demigods, and now I'm shaking and crying like I've never seen this sort of thing before. I just....I thought it was.......oh God, I thought it was--"

"It's not," I reassure her, running my fingers through her hair. "I'm right here."

As I hold my wife and tell her it's going to be all right, I look down at the figure lying on our porch. One quick look, and I know. Lois was right to be afraid, even if I can't make heads or tails of it.

Someone has left the body of a dead man at our doorstep. Not just a dead man......



.....a dead Superman.




ELSEWHERE


"I've just received signal of another incursion. I think our next target has just been singled out."

"Any sign of infection yet?"

"Not yet. We're actually ahead of the ball this time, so we may be able to intervene before it's too late."

"What sort of secondary targets are we looking at on this world?"

"Pulling it up right now. It looks like-- oh, wow. Nearly a complete legacy on this world. A Supergirl and two Superboys, possibly a Power Girl as well, though that's not confirmed. I'm also seeing several derivations here: a Thor, a Captain Marvel, a Sentry, even a Blue Marvel! This may be the most well-defended world we've encountered so far!"

"I think you mean it's the most target-rich environment. All of those different angles of attack..."

"You're being awfully pessimistic, friend."

"One of us has to be."

"We need to establish contact with the primary target as soon as possible. If we can bring him in before he's infected, then all the better. If not, we can extract him and put him in null-space before it has the chance to spread. I think we have a chance of stopping it here, though."

"Agreed. We haven't been able to bring in an uninfected target before. If we can get to him before the enemy arrives, we can lure it out and take it down."

"Or we could die like the last team who was on this case."

"None of that. This is our best chance of identifying and capturing our enemy and avenging our comrades."

"If things go South, though, the Omega Sanction--"

"--is not to be used under any circumstances, am I clear?"

"You say that now, but you weren't there when--"

"Am. I. Clear?"

"......you're clear."

"That's what I thought. No matter how bad it gets here, we are never resorting to that again."

"On that, you have my oath."

"If you say so."

"Good. Now, we don't have much time. So, gentlemen.....let's get to work."
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Hidden 3 yrs ago 3 yrs ago Post by Dream Weaver
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Dream Weaver ❝𝖶𝖾𝖺𝗏𝖾𝗋 𝗈𝖿 𝖣𝗋𝖾𝖺𝗆𝗒 𝖶𝗈𝗋𝖽𝗌.❞

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T H E B L A C K C A N A R Y



► United Nations Headquarters // Pʀᴇsᴇɴᴛ Dᴀʏ

November 12th, 2017 // 6:35 P.M.

While The Black Canary waited for someone to say something, her mind went to another place. She honestly thought to herself about what would her sister be doing right now as The Black Canary and how she would solve the current situation at hand. If Sara knew that Laurel was channeling her right about now then Laurel probably would've gotten a backhand to the face or a little talking to from her younger sister. At the thought, she could not help but chuckle softly to herself but was brought back to reality by the sound of Wolverine's voice.

'No he did not just call me doll.' The Black Canary thought then decided to let it go as there was a bigger task at hand. "Just wait until you see what I can do, Wolfman." Canary retorted with another smirk formed over her black painted lips as she did not even have to eye him to feel the tension already forming between them.

It was then when the Sasquatch spoke as she smiled up towards him then commented towards him. "Oh, please, I've worked with a male worse than him." She muttered towards him. "I am always eager to help out fellow heroes." Her eyes then went back towards Wolverine as she delivered another retort his way. "Even the grumpy ones." Canary then glanced up towards herself and looked at Northstar as she smiled.

There was really too much chattering going on for her particular taste and she wasn't really use to it. She really did not make things better by engaging back towards so she really could not be too mad at the guys. When Deadpool jumped back up and cursed before them, Canary let out a gasp as she saw the grenade in his hand, which confused her slightly then gazed over just as Wolverine popped his claws out.

'Guess this means that it is showtime.' Canary thought as she reached to grab both of the steel rods and combined them together to create one long rod. There were some policemen, firemen and other city officials there but she did not think that they could really handle the situation at hand, which is why she was there alongside her current comrades. Speaking of comrades, heroes alike were suddenly starting to appear at the scene and she felt a little down because Oliver, The Green Arrow, could not be by her side.

It was another thought that she placed into the back of her mind, for now simply because about five assailants stood before them now. "You guys might want to cover your ears." She told her comrades as without hesitation, she opened her mouth and an ear piercing scream, known as the canary cry, came from her as it knocked the assailants down to their knees as they groaned in agony with their hands placed over their ears.

"I think it's safe if we go inside now. Hm?" Canary said as she waited for the guys to catch up behind her before making any further movements towards the inside but what they did not know is that more assailants were just waiting and anticipating for their entrance.
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Hidden 3 yrs ago 3 yrs ago Post by Bounce
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C H A P T E R O N E : T H E L O N G W A Y H O M E
THE COURAGE OF ACHILLES

W E S T C H E S T E R

November 13th, 2017 | 11:17a.m. | The Xavier Institute of Higher Learning

The life of a ten year old was not for the faint of heart.

Sammy was facing the sum of all fears. A terror that threatened to overtake them all. Helpless, he and the other students steeled their nerves in hopes of not overcoming, but merely surviving what was still to come.

It was a lecture by Doctor McCoy. Genoshan history after World War I.

There was going to be a test later.

Sammy was already positive he would not survive this.

The X-Men had departed to help Calvin with whatever was going on. The students were back in their classrooms in some effort at instilling a sense of normalcy after the attack. But everyone was still on edge after the explosion, so much so that when the door to the classroom was thrown open everyone jumped out of their seats. The sudden interruption drew everyone's eyes to the green-skinned Anole who was framed in the doorway, as he belted out, "Ilyanna and Billy are TOTALLY going at it in the back yard!"

The sound of desks and chairs nearly overturning echoed like thunder amid the sudden stampede. The noise drowned out any attempt by Hank to stop the chaos, and the bombastic Beast soon found himself at the front of the room with his mouth agape and one claw raised as he soon found himself the leader of an empty classroom. For which there seemed very little point in remaining. "As Oscar Wilde remarked, I can resist everything except temptation."

Emerging from out of the classroom, Hank followed the crowd left down the hall and then turned right to gaze over where students were pressed up against the windows. The french doors were open, as students spilled out onto the patio. And there, on the lawn, was a demon.

"Oh, my stars and garters..."

The Xavier Institute kept a diverse armory for weapon and skills training. Billy would have been happier with a Pompei style gladius, but the closest thing they had was a replica Twelfth Century arming sword. The blade crackled with the energy that flowed across the child's body, blue arcs of static electricity sparking along the length of metal.

Ilyanna had started to lose herself to the Darkchilde, her horns growing out from her head as the Soulsword and armor began to take on a more demonic appearance. They had both changed into the standard Xavier training uniform for the practice, the yellow-on-black uniforms causing them to stand out against the snowy backdrop of the gardens.

To be certain, Ilyanna was good. She'd fought hordes of demons and emerged a capable swordsman, if self-taught.

Billy? That was a somewhat more complicated answer. He had the courage of Achilles, the Greek hero who had fought in the Trojan War and bested Hector of Troy in single combat outside the gates of the city. The blade turned easily in his grip, wielded as comfortably as any part of his body.

They were more like dancers than combatants, the magical energies surrounding them providing a pyrotechnic light show as they wove an intricate danse macabre round and round and round again.

Then, Ilyanna vanished. Side-stepped into a teleportation disk. She re-appeared, striking at the boy. Who similarly had disappeared from sight. What transpired next could only be heard, as Ilyanna blinked in and out, while Billy's movements defied humanity.

Sammy's jaw went slack in a mixture of awe and terror. "Did... anyone even see that?"

Jumping back, Billy spared a glance back toward the mansion. It seemed the sparring session had attracted some attention. And he was starting to cut loose with how Magik was pushing herself. Snapping up his free arm, the Soulsword smacked against the Nega-Band encircling his forearm. "You win this one," the boy conceded, allowing his power levels to drop back to normal.

As the magic stopped flowing into the sword replica, it seemed to break apart and disintegrate. 440 steel wasn't exactly the material used by Hephaestus in forging the weapons of the classical heroes. Dusting off his hands, the boy extended an arm out toward the woman as he offered, "How 'bout we get some lunch?"


"How'd you learn to fight like that?"

Looking up from his tray, Billy was somewhat surprised when Sammy dropped down across from him at the otherwise empty table. Most people avoided him. A lot of questions and uncertainty. A lot of rumors and a couple who were asking why now Captain Marvel would show back up. It created a dead zone in the cafeteria, around which people at the surrounding tables were looking at him and whispering.

"I don't know how to fight at all," Billy answered, the cryptic response eliciting a stupefied expression from the aquatic mutant before the boy added, "I borrow my powers from five immortal legends."

Taking a sip from the small carton of chocolate milk in front of him, Billy paused a moment before he looked up and said, "It actually makes me kinda jealous of people like you. You have your own talents and abilities. Me? I doesn't even have the courage of Billy Batson. Instead, I hafta borrow that from Achilles."

The stupefied expression remained. "Who's..."

"Legendary dead guy from Ancient Greece," Billy supplied, having anticipated the question. The Iliad had been intended for an oral tradition. Sitting down and trying to read it would be a little advanced for someone like Sammy. Recalling the story, Billy began, "He led the Myrmidons in the..."

The blank expression on Sammy's face told him everything he needed to know before he even started.

"...nevermind. The sword fighting's from him."

"Oh," Sammy uttered. "That's cool."
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Hidden 3 yrs ago 3 yrs ago Post by Sep
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C H A P T E R O N E

H E R O O R M O N S T E R?


Hulk grunted, pushing the debris off his head and throwing it down a now empty road. Puny Humans always fought with eachother, when he was the strognest there was there was no need for anyone else to fight. He turned growling down the street as he noticed a familiar figure walking towards him. Banner knew him as Crusher Creel, a being with the ability to absorb the properties of anything he touched in order to enhance his own strength. Hulk only knew him as the Absorbing Man! The two had faced off against eachother several times, and there was still debate on who was really the strongest.

"You think you're so tough big guy? Think you can stop Absorbing Man from collecting on that paycheck-" He reached out to touch a lampost, his entire body turning the same rustic silver/brown of the metal. "-Well I got a secret to tell you-" He pulled out a piece of the road and threw it at Hulk, raising his arms in self defense the debris broke against his arms however an important aspect off this fight, was to keep people safe. The less safe they felt now, the less they would trust Hulk. The less they trusted the Hulk the mor epeople who would be afraid of him, and the more people that would chase him. "-You ain't stopping me this time you green ape."

Hulk took a step forward, and another as he began to run towards the man who was approaching him ever so calmly. The ground at this point would shake slightly, more than it had previously due to the explosions that had rocked the district. As Hulk approached Creel he jumped in the air, bringing both his fists up and together aiming to drive them down in order to slam them straight into his head. Absorbing Man just slid, Hulks fists came crashing down creating a crater however not finding their mark. He turned with one of his fists extended to find a solid metal fist driving itself into the back of hi sknee driving him down onto one knee.

"One thing you always forget, is that you're just a brute. You ain't got any brains." Hulk turned blocking an attack, however still stumbling back slightly.

"Hulk no need brains." Hulk fell to the floor, his anger building more and more as time went on. Creel just continued to kick him while he was down, not retalitating against the beating he was recieving. Just thinking.

Then without warning Hulk turned his entire body, catching the fist of his opponent in one hand. "Hulk strongest there is."

He pulled Creel closer, before grabbing onto Creels right arm with both his hands. "and Hulk... "S M A S H!" He lifted Creel into the air, and slammed him back down into the pavement. The impact throwing dust and rubble into the air, this fight was just getting started. What Hulk didn't know, was that it was drawing all kinds of attention now...
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Hidden 3 yrs ago 3 yrs ago Post by Trexasle
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Static
"I’ll Put a shock to your system"
Virgil Ovid Hawkins June 1st, 2001 Male Hero


Tires screeched as their car pulled on the end of the harbor. The first young man, a corn rowed individual face shrouded with a hoodie and a blood red bandana covering the lower half down from the nose to the chin. The other Men followed suit. Some in T Shirts and ripped jeans, others in sweats. All Seemed to be armed with Smaller Arms, Either a Pistol or a Tec-9. Standard Arms for what seemed to be your common gang banger. All Except one. Which the crew was quick to notice.

“Virg? Fucks wrong with you, I thought we told you to pack heat?”

That was a problem for Virgil? Guns were not something he could just bring into his father’s house, not without him noticing. Which of course left him with a mostly melee weapon, a large machete. The Corn Rowed Individual, facepalmed.
“You know what, fuck it. We gotta move. Look as far as we know Security is gonna be tight in this place, we have to be careful and make sure we aren’t seen, Everyone got their silencers?” The other Gang Members nodded and Stared at their leader waiting for him to respond. “Aiight, We move now.” They slowly made their way into the Harbor, toward the first pier. A nearby storage facility was what they were looking for. Security guards seemed to be crowding the facility.

However it would seemed that they made one miscalucation.

These were not normal guards. It took Virgil to notice it, normal guards weren’t armed with much on Paris Island, maybe the cheap pistol or a stun-gun at best. But these guards were packing serious shit. A Small laser rifle for one, and seemed to be decked to the brim with heavy armor. Virgil blinked at stared at the rest of his compatriots.

“Bruh, who the fuck are we stealing from Ebon?”

Ebon Turned around looking at Virgil as if he had just asked him the worst question imaginable “Who fucking cares Virg? Now come one, we finna get active, Split up and see if we can find an opening to get…” The cornrowed male was interrupted when he heard a gun cock

“Get What, Nigga?”

It was at that Moment that Virgil felt cold steel near his head, He froze at that instant, and while Ebon was set to put his gun up. It would seem however they were surrounded. About 10 other individuals, decked in purple hoodies and blue jeans now stood around them. It was at that Moment that Ebon had realize this was a set up.

“Drop your heat Slobs.”

“Fuck.” Was Ebon's only response

Ebon and the rest did so, Virgil setting his knife on the ground.

“You nigga thought you were the only ones who knew about this? Y’all late, we’ve been up on this for months now.”

Ebon stared at one of the boys, another dreadheaded male with red tips and snarled. “Leonard! What the fuck?!”

“Nigga, Who do you think told us?”

Suddenly Leonard’s own Pistol was now pointing Square at Ebon’s head. Virgil at this point was beginning to shake. Suddenly, joining Ebon in this trade did not seem like the best idea in the world. Friends or not, this just seemed to be going badly. Ebon however was more pissed that the deal had gone awry. “You think I’m just gonna let you take my crew out Busta, Nah I ain’t going out like that, and You Leonard?” He pointed at the man with a scowl, forgoing the gun that was still at his temple.

“You’re fucking dead.”

Leonard did not hesitate and he was set to pull the trigger.

“Hey! What the hell is this?”

Guards, and they seemed to be packing just as much.

“Fuck, Force Squad, Retreat!”

The Rival Gangs began to spread Out, Leonard Following suit. However Ebon had Begun to trail him, set to take out the turncoat whether it killed however, This left Virgil. and The Rest with the guards. Shots began to fire, laser weaponry being blasted alongside normal ballistics, Virgil took off attempting to run away from the scuffle and avoid his untimely death. The Docks however was filled to the brim with guards, even as he took off every corner and every pier end was filled with them. It was a wonder that Ebon thought they could steal from them successfully. Let alone without someone else finding out.

What he didn’t expect the Guards to have however, was flashbangs. Which is what surprised Virgil when he was suddenly blinded and his hearing suddenly halted. He covered his ears and knelt to the ground waiting for it all to come back, however before he could even react. His arm was grabbed and it was clear that he was caught.

“Hold on Kid Where do you think you’re go…”

Then…everything went from White to Black.

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Hidden 3 yrs ago Post by Trexasle
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Static
"I’ll Put a shock to your system"
Virgil Ovid Hawkins June 1st, 2001 Male Hero


His Hearing was the first to return.

Wait…This ain’t right.

Didn’t the movies usually have your eyesight returning first? Then your hearing? Like, isn’t that how all near death scenario’s play out? Well. He was suddenly glad it wasn’t because he could hear the sirens calling and he wanted to get up, and get up quickly. His Vision however, was still a blur, so he could barely see the orange light in front of him, until he took a few moments, leaning onto a nearby wall to realize what was going on. As his sight returned and he began to actually feel the rest of his body, he saw what was going on. A Fire was now ablaze on the pier, open canisters seemingly passing around a thick gas. He looked around slowly making moves as the fire department attempted to stop the blaze.

He took one step.

And looked down on the ground.

It was a guard, his helmet charred along with half of his body. His face wasn’t visible as the helmet obscured it, but Virgil was sure he didn’t want to see it, as it was probably baked. He couldn't be sure however who had survived he could hear screams and random chatter. But It wasn’t best for him to stay about. He had to move and quickly. He quickly tucked himself in the alleyway, keeping away from the sights of the paramedics, and law enforcement. He needed time, time to make an escape. He leaned on the back of a nearby wall. Taking in a deep breath, before attempting to move again.

Only to realize he was stuck on it.

He blinked and attempted to force himself off. He grunted silently attempting not to make noise to attract himself. After a few yanks He managed to do so. Hearing a quick ripping sound. Virgil took noticed and turned around. It was a piece of his hoodie, it was now attached to the wall with a purple like energy shrouding it. He stared at it and moved closer He unzipped the rest of the hoodie and was set to throw it to the ground, only to see that it was stuck to his hand now. He attempted to shake it off, the Purple energy cackled violently like electricity. Which at this point Virgil was sure it was now. He shook his arm rapidly attempting in desperation to shake the now charred hoodie off of his hands. Succeeding after a few attempts.

“What the fuck is…”

He whispered to himself staring at his hands. Electricity danced around as he took in the sight. He stared in awe. Watching the energy flow through him, What happened back there? What exploded and how did it happen?

“I see something in the alleyway, a light!”


Suddenly Static in shock placed his hand down, He needed to get out and fast, he scrambled finding the only thing nearby was a garbage can. He ran toward it and lifted the lid ready to hide in the trash can. However the instant he grabbed the lid. He found himself going into the air. The lid still being held over his head, he began to panic and shake about. The people that have located him, a Paramedic and Two Officer ran toward the now very loud screaming only to see an African American boy with Long dreads, Shirtless, floating with a Glowing Trash Can lid in his hand. They point their guns at him ready to shoot him down. In a Panic Virgil’s scream get louder.

And then…He’s off. The trash lid flew off at a breakneck pace, with Virgil still desperately handing on. He was now 40 feet off the ground travelling a good 50 miles an hour above the burning brimstone that was now The Paris Island Docks. He was halfway toward the water when he attempted to find a more comfortable riding position. No longer struggling and instead attempting to hang on for dear life in hopes that he wasn’t going to fall in the water underneath him as he saw Dakota City in the Distance. The bridge connecting the inner city with Paris Island, he was nearing his way home…whatever this was…he was grateful to actually have discovered it.

That was until it stopped.

All of the sudden the electricity stopped running and now Virgil was now on a crash course down to Dakota City streets. He panicked seeing that he was now falling with a trash lid in his hand, he dropped it and was ready to crash down. In a pile of bags piled up in the back of a nearby house.
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Hidden 3 yrs ago Post by Bounce
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Bounce

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C H A P T E R O N E : W H A T M E A S U R E I S H U M A N ? / / P A R T I
Matrix's Music Files//Sample 47A [Hall, Daryl; Oates, John, 1973] [She's Gone]

Kryptonian structures had superior acoustic properties.

The sunstone's reflective properties, crystalline surface area, and physical arrangement created vaulted ceilings that served to resonate the music in a way that was both efficient and aesthetically pleasing. The notes of the opening bridge to Hall and Oates early Seventies ballad of a love lost reverberating around where the amorphous figure undulated before a multitude of holographic screens.

The artificial intelligence was monitoring a variety of orbital sensors, identifying areas of concerns and then assigning them a classification based on preliminary calculations of the threat profile. Level Four and below were automatically forwarded to Titans Tower in addition to the Justice League. Those graded at or above Level Five were assigned further categorization in order to determine whether a particular specialization would be required in order to adequately and efficiently address the danger. Those threats graded at Level Seven were a League priority. Technically, there was no Level Eight. That would represent an existential or extraterrestrial threat that extended beyond the planet Earth.

It was also browsing Amazon for holiday gift ideas, arranging its sampling of human music files into a new arrangement, and streaming Netflix. The Expanse. The AI had the second season of Stranger Things in the queue, but intended to binge watch the first season in order to move that information back to active memory prior to initiating that viewing experience.

In terms of holiday shopping, the matrix had already identified an ugly Christmas sweater as it's gift for Clark. There would also be matching ones for Lois and Jon. The American tradition of the ugly Christmas sweater appeared to necessitate a communal sharing of tackiness along generational lines according to it's internet-based research on the topic. Jon would require additional gifts, though Matrix was uncertain how to gauge the nature of toys. It would seek advice from Clark or Lois on the matter. Connor was similarly difficult, for reasons that were entirely unrelated to the challenges faced with Jon's younger demographic. Was it the nature of holiday gift gifting that made it difficult to ascertain gifts appropriate for male gender norms? Kara would receive a bottle of Coco Mademoiselle by Chanel. It was a top selling fragrance for young women in her age demographic according to numerous web sites.

It was also debating a gift for J'onn or M'gann. While the habit of Christmas gift giving went along with the Christian religious tradition, the Matrix calculated such a gesture might be indicative of acceptance into their alien surroundings.

While all of this was going on within the notional framework of cyberspace, the artificial being's body was undulating side to side, swaying to the rhythm of the music that was echoing off the walls of the Fortress. It seemed a free-flowing mixture of disco hustle, latin swing, and deephouse shuffle. In between transitions, the figure flowed fluidly through a metamorphosis. It was female. It was male. It was young. It was old. It was white. It was black. It was Asian. It was Latino. It was any number of possible combinations. A young black Latina doing Cuban salsa freestyle with some New York hustle. An old mixed Asian man hanging on the saxophone bridge with an old school shuffle.

A large canine shot into the room. It might have passed for a retriever or labrador, except it had a white coloration uncommon in either of those terrestrial species. A short, red cape emblazoned with the sigil of the House of El flowed from off the collar adorning the creature's neck. Barking happily, the animal's paws skidded across the smooth sunstone floor, as it circled around the amorphous dancer.

The music paused, the dancer transformed into a glittery form that seemed to shrink as it took a knee, reforming itself in the likeness of a young boy. A black suit enveloped his frame, as a white cape dropped down from his shoulders. The crest of El was emblazoned in red. It was a very different scheme from the one that the world associated with Superman or Supergirl, being Krypton's wartime colors.
"What's that, Krypto?" the brown haired child asked, reaching up his hands to tousle the dog's floppy ears. The animal gave a shake, followed by a sort of snort-sneeze, then dropped down so that it's haunches were in the air and it's head was lowered as it looked up at the boy and barked."You want to go for a walk? Is that it?"

Krypto's tail was moving so energetically at this point, that the animal's entire back ended seemed to be wagging. "All right, let's go for a walk!" the boy uttered, coming up from the floor as his red tennis shoes broke into a sprint. Krypto was chasing after, circling around the boy, as the pair made their way through the sprawling Kryptonian complex.

There was a Level One distress nearby, off the waters of Arctic Bay, Canada. The exercise of attending to that minor emergency should be adequate for the purpose of allowing Krypto time to play outside.

The boy emerged into freezing air, pushing off the ground as he lifted off into the air. The canine followed after, as the two orbited around one another while climbing in altitude. Then, the child banked right, whistling for the canine to follow as Matrix calculated the navigation route over air to the destination.
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Hidden 3 yrs ago 3 yrs ago Post by Byrd Man
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Byrd Man El Hombre Pájaro

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"By birth, certainly, they were not prepared in any way to achieve their desires. They were not the smartest kids in the neighborhood. They were not born the richest. They weren’t even the toughest. In fact, they lacked almost all the necessary talents that might have helped them satisfy the appetites of their dreams, except one: their talent for violence."
-- Nicholas Pileggi


The American Dream is a lie.

I don't mean that in the quasi-socialist, Bruce Springsteen and John Mellencamp plight-of-the-working-class way.

I mean it never existed. This nation wasn't founded with egalitarian ideals in mind. It wasn't founded because of high taxes and low representation. It was founded to be a kingdom for those with the wealth of kings, but no land to rule. The New World would be theirs for the taking, a compact sealed in the blood of the settles of Roanoke. And that was decided before the first shots were fired in Lexington and Concord, before the first treaties to the king, before the first chest of tea got chucked into the Boston Harbor, and even before the first anchor dropped off the coast.

Thirteen Families in all. They've been here since the very beginning, watching and controlling from the shadows. They are the Bushes, the Kennedys, the Roosevelts, the Rockefellers, and the Vanderbilts all rolled into one. They are the oldest of the old guard, the powers that be, and the keepers of the status quo.

And they use some real bastards to enforce their will.

---

Prairie Rose Indian Reservation
South Dakota
10:23 PM


"Tribal Police!"

Dash Bad Horse waited half a second before he kicked the rickety door with his boot. The shot, aimed just below the door's cheap knob, splintered the wood at the doorjamb and sent it swinging back on its hinges. Dash came through the door with his shotgun raised, a flashlight mounted on the barrel gave him light to see. The living room of the house was a sty. Overturned furniture with burn holes in them were cluttered around the room with trash and old styrofoam food containers.

In the next room, the kitchen, Dash found the cook site. Bottles, both plastic and glass, sat on a plastic card table with hot plates, chemicals, and syringes. Dash lowered his shotgun and raised an eyebrow. What had been a simple warrants check for Jody Two Feathers ended up as something much more.

Dash turned when he saw movement out the corner of his eye. Jody Two Feathers, wearing nothing but a pair of stained tighty-whities, blinked at him with a confused look on his face.

"What the fu--"

Jody's question was cut off by the butt of Dash's shotgun to his face. He went down on the dirty linoleum floor, spitting blood and teeth and cursing unintelligibly.

Five minutes later, Jody Two Feathers sat handcuffed in the backseat of the police car while Dash called for backup to remove the meth making equipment inside the house. He walked back into the house and found a sandwich bag of crystal meth from the kitchen table and pocketed it before going back outside.

Even though it was miles away, Dash could see the lights from the casino blinking on and off in the night. The Crazy Horse. It hadn't even existed back when Dash left the rez. A lot of things had changed since he'd been gone. The Army. He'd enlisted and been gone, served some in Afghanistan and Iraq before coming back home.

That's what he told everyone, and that's what he knew had happened. Yet... it didn't feel right. He'd wake up from his dreams in the middle of the night and see images from a life entirely different than what he knew. Dreams of guns and violence and sex and money. Men in immaculate suits and beautiful women in dazzling dresses sitting together at a long wooden conference table. A woman with tears in her eyes, begging him to not pull the trigger.

The sound of a siren snapped Dash back to reality. Franklin Falls Down pulled up in his cruiser and got out. The six member staff that made up the tribal police were a mix of crooks and humps; half of them got their job because they knew someone on the tribal council while the other half were just bullies looking to flex. But not all of them were like that. Falls Down was the one good cop among them. For his part, Dash figured he fell close to the bully category. Three excessive force complaints in his six months on the job, something of a record even among the tribal police.

"Hazmat stuff is in the bank," said Falls Down. "Let's slip it on and box that crap up."

Dash nodded, his eyes drifting back towards the lights of the casino. Something wasn't right. There was a thinness to everything, his current situation and his life in general. Something lurked beneath the surface, something dark and foreboding. Dash knew that whatever it was down there, it involved the people in the fancy dress, the guns, and the crying woman asking him not to kill her.

"Dash?" Falls Down said. "You with me?"

"Yeah," said Dash, shaking his head. "Let's get to work."

---

Center City, WA
12:21 AM


Linda Flynn and her girlfriends walked down the sidewalk on unsteady feet. The group of four girls swayed and bobbed on their big high heels, clinging to each other as they walked. All four wore expensive and tight cocktail dresses and heels that were just a bit too big for them. They didn't care how gaudy they looked. They were young, they were rich, and they wanted the whole damn world to know it.

"Denise, you are such a slut," one of them said in a drunken slur. The rest of the pack broke out into a fit of giggles.

"You're the slut," Denise countered. "I saw you with that guy, just grinding on him. He looked so fucking ugly! You're such a slut!"

The girls looked up at the sound of a roaring engine. A large black van raced down the road and skidded to a stop beside them. Two men in balaclavas jumped out with pistols in their hands. The girls let out screams of horror as the two gunmen zeroed in on just one of them. They took Linda roughly by the shoulders and shoved her into the van. The three remaining girls tried to reach out to their friend, but were pushed back by the kidnapper. He aimed his gun at them and put a finger to his lip.

"Tell her father, we'll be in touch," the masked men said. "Tell him if he goes to the cops, she fucking dies."

The two men jumped into the van, slammed the door shut, and the van peeled off into the night, leaving the drunk and hysterical young women to cry and panic for their kidnapped friend.

---

4:48 AM

It was the middle of the night, but Tracy Lawless was wide awake. He sat on the edge of the bed, smoking a cigarette and staring through the darkness at the city outside. Sleep was something he no longer seemed to need much of. The dreams had cured him of that. Horrible dreams of a life he couldn't remember leading, dreams of violence and depravity and something always out of reach. Those dreams had taught him how little sleep he actually needed to function. No more than five hours a night and he was good until another twenty-four hours.

The woman in his bed stirred and he looked down at her exposed bare back. Gennelle was her name, or at least her stage name. She was one of the strippers at the club he managed for Hyde. It was stupid, taking her home that night after they closed... but Tracy's base biological functions had been gnawing at him for the past few weeks. He needed to clear the works out, so to speak, and Gennelle with her long legs and rich coffee colored skin was just what he needed. He should have just went to a bar and picked a woman up, or even better bought a call girl for the night. Sleeping with one of the girls would no doubt cause some sort of trouble back at the club.

The cell phone on the dresser across the room rattled as it vibrated. Tracy stood and padded towards it. A blocked number was calling.

"Yeah," he said softly.

"It's me."

The voice on the other end was recognizable enough. John Galston, some lawyer type Hyde just recently started to use as a go-between for him and all the people he dealt with. It made Tracy wonder why he set up the stop-gap. Maybe he was getting paranoid in his old age?

"He needs some work done," said Galston. "Get to his office right now."

"Okay. I'll be there."

Tracy hung up without another word and wondered what was the point of a go-between if he still had to meet Hyde face to face? He walked towards his closet and started to dress. When he was done, he took a key off his ring and placed it on the nightstand beside the sleeping woman. He left her a note, asking to lock up after she left. Tracy tucked his piece, a Smith & Wesson compact .40, into the shoulder rig he wore under his coat and left out of the apartment before the morning sun had a chance to creep up over the horizon.

---

6:02 AM

To look at Sebastian Hyde's office, you would think he was a college professor or some well to do businessman instead of the kingpin of Center City. There were books, shelves and shelves of books on the three office walls. The lone wall not loaded down with books had an entire long pane of glass that stretched across the wall in a window that gave off a pretty impressive view of Center City. The books were all random as hell. Everything from Gibbon's six-part series on the decline and fall of Rome, to Max Allan Collins, to Danielle Steel sat on the shelves. Tracy doubted very much that Hyde had even cracked open one of those books in his library. The man didn't care about books, and he didn't care about his impressive view. The books and window were all a show to anyone who came into the office. It was projecting power. Look at how many nice things I have, it said, look at the entire town that I sit above like a king. All of that boiled down to a simple message: Do not fuck with me.

"Tracy," Hyde said as he came in.

Tracy stood and wordlessly greeted the old man as he walked towards his desk. Hyde wasn't in his usual three-piece, but he still wore dark slacks and a collared shirt. Tracy remained standing until Hyde sat down behind the desk.

"It's late, or early depending on your point of view, so let's skip the usual crap, son. Do you know Thomas Flynn?"

"Rings a bell. Does he owe you money?"

"No, unfortunately not. Flynn owns a good deal of the industrial park here in town. Supposed to be worth half a billion. He keeps his nose mostly clean, as clean as anyone worth that kind of money can be. Early this morning, his daughter Linda was kidnapped by some masked men. They called the house a few hours ago, demanding five million dollars for her safe return. They also demanded no cops be involved. Flynn wants security and he's afraid to go to the police... so he came to me. For a nominal fee, I'm guaranteeing her safe return. For a cut of that fee, you'll provide the service."

Hyde working for money didn't jive true to Tracy. He had more than enough money than he or his kids would ever spend. But what was left unsaid Tracy knew all too well. Flynn was asking Sebastian Hyde for a favor. All it took was for Hyde to get his foot into the door and he owned you. Flynn thought it was a simple transaction, money for goods and services, but it would be so much more than that. For Hyde to get in good with a man like Flynn would give him something much more valuable than money. Flynn got you connections, contracts, businessmen, and politicians. Influence. Flynn was half a billion dollars worth of influence Hyde could call on.

"Do I just watch over the deal, make sure it goes down smoothly?"

"Very much so. And when the deal is over, it is expected you find the kidnappers and liquidate them. These cocksuckers are operating with impunity in my city, son. I will not let that stand."

"And the money from the ransom?"

The old man's eyes lit up and his eyebrows arched as he smiled.

"You know how it is, son. Things sometimes go missing. If Flynn can't recover that money, it's a small price to pay for the safety of his family."

Message received. Tracy nodded and stood, heading towards the door. He hated when Hyde called him son. He made a mental note that when he got his revenge on the old prick, he would hit him in the balls for every time the old man had called him his son. After tonight, Tracy's count was up to 219.

---

Stockton, CA
11:21 AM


When the gates of the prison opened, Parker walked out a free man. He wore the same shirt, pants, and jacket he'd been picked up in six months earlier. The bullet holes in the shirt were still there even though his own wounds were long healed. He eyeballed the idling car and walked past it, opting instead to hoof it into town. The car followed him down the road. It was a black sedan with windows so darkly tinted you couldn't see inside. The electric window whined as it rolled down.

"Want a lift?"

"Go to hell," said Parker.

"Always the hard case, huh, Parker?"

That stopped Parker in his track. He'd been incarcerated under the name Ronald Kasper. The only people who knew to call him Parker were people who were in the Life. He looked into the car and saw an old man with sunglasses on, a slightly amused look on his face.

"How do I know you?" asked Parker.

"From a past life," said the man. "My name is Graves."

"Don't know you, so get lost."

"Well I know you," said Graves. "And I know all about you and Mal."

Parker felt the hairs on the back of his neck rise.

"I know how to find him, too."

"You got a minute to explain yourself," Park said as he climbed into the car.

Graves told Parker to look in the backseat and get the case. Parker reached back and got the attache case. He popped it open and looked inside. Resting in the case was a file folder with the words RESNICK, MALCOLM stamped on them. Beside the folder rested a glock and a cardboard box of ammunition with the word 100 written on its top. He looked up at Graves, who just smiled as he drove away from the prison.

"Inside that folder, Parker, is the location of Mal Resnick. The gun, as well as the bullets, are untraceable. Any investigation into the crimes you commit with the gun and ammo immediately stops once they're run through ballistics investigation. You have carte blanche to do what you need to do."

"Why?" asked Parker.

Graves lit a cigarette, using the act to create a pregnant pause inside the car.

"Because Mal Resnick double crossed you on your score, shot you twice, and left you for dead. Because I know you're a man who takes betrayal seriously."

"No," said Parker. "Why are you doing this? I got sprung after only six months in the clink, that had to be you. Then you give me this gun and bullets and the means to find Mal. What did Mal do to you?"

"He hurt you," said Graves. "That's enough to provoke my ire."

"And what am I to you?"

"An asset," said Graves. "Something that needs protecting."

Graves pulled into the city bus terminal and found a parking spot.

"They still give cons enough money for bus fare?" he asked.

"Barely," said Parker.

"I'm sure you'll manage. You're a survivor." Graves flicked his cigarette out of the window and turned to Parker. "Do what you want to do with the case, Parker. The choice is yours. That's all I am offering you. The means to get your revenge. You are uniquely situated. You have something that almost no one has."

"What's that?"

"The power of choice," said Graves. "The freedom to right your personal wrong... or not. There's power in that choice, Parker. Never forget that. Now take the case and happy hunting."
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