Hidden 6 yrs ago Post by Master Bruce
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Master Bruce Winged Freak

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Gotham City, Snyder Stadium
Starling Fashion Show
3:55 PM


The light is blinding.

Feels like my whole body is on fire at first, before the cold quickly overtakes it and begins making it harder for me to breathe. The feeling in my limbs go with the numbing pain, and I desperately try to keep my fingers moving in some vain attempt to fight off the effects. But it's no use, as rigid ice binds my legs and begins working it's way upward, encasing me in a shell that feels like solid concrete. The worst part about all of this is, I genuinely don't know whether this all originates from the absurd circumstance I find myself in - pinned to a wall, in the midst of being frozen solid by a madman who is aided through advanced cryogenic technology - or if that's just what happens to the body before it dies. I can already feel my heart trying to overcompensate for the intense drop in temperature, but the frequency of it's beating is beginning to slow down. I don't see any way out what feels like an inevitability, at this point. This is where death takes me, and I perish a fool that a city hates. A monster that the innocent and the guilty fear in equal measure.

It's not how I would've wanted to go, but I can't necessarily say that it's much of a surprise. I always figured that one night would see me lying on the streets as stone dead as my mother and father, bleeding out after being shredded apart by a torrential hail of bullets or an attack from an enemy that I didn't have the forethought to see coming. Thoughts of my childhood come first, in too many shattered fragments for me to fully discern. I can only remember vague emotions. Happiness, warmth, and all of the feelings associated from when I was apart of a family that was still whole. The horror of losing them at such an age. The anger, the guilt, and the sense of righteous indignation that pushed me into adulthood. That overpowering instinct that came with a lack of purpose, bringing me onto the streets and getting me beaten half to death. The sense of clarity that came to me whenever I first saw it. The Bat. I knew what I had to do then, and that decades of suffering hadn't been in vain.

Was I wrong? It's hard for me to say. Alfred recently told me that if I hadn't stepped up to make a difference, many would have died and become victims of the Five Families. Others would've succumbed to the rising metahuman threat and found themselves at the forefront of something many still believe threatens to wipe mere humans off of the face of the planet. So The Batman served some purpose, I suppose. But with everything said about me in the press after Harvey's shooting, compounded with difficult choices that I had to make for what I believed was the greater good, I can't fully believe that my legacy will be remembered as one of nobility. They'll likely believe I had gone mad at some point and carried out this crusade in some vengeful, spiteful act of transgression against the same type of people that led to a man like Joe Chill. And I can't even tell myself that it was ever anything otherwise. That's the part that bothers me the most, as I swallow back a shallow breath.

I didn't accomplish everything I wanted to.

I'll have died a failure. A disgrace to my family name.

All of these thoughts come rushing to my head within the span of seconds, as I realize that I don't want this. The thought of death used to leave me in a neutral position, with my general position being that if it happened, it was going to happen and there was nothing I could do to stop it. It wasn't too long ago that I even told myself that I'd have accepted it, that I held no fear of it's eventuality. It's something that none can avoid, and with the path I chose, it was a given that I would probably go sooner than the expected timeframe of an average lifespan. But to die like this, trying to defend the innocent and failing, leaving others to the fate that claimed me? It's unacceptable. And therefore, I realize that I never truly held off the fear at all.

"Oh, god. Oh, god, you're not doing good. Can you hear me?"

I let out a grunt, hearing a voice. In the moment it happens, I think that it's another, final hallucination. Some demented cosmic joke that the universe doles out to me in light of my condition. I'll never know what caused this affliction of my mind, but it's been the bane of my existence for years. Never able to wake up knowing the difference between what's real and where reality begins.

But as I realize that I'm still breathing, despite the trauma, I manage to make out the tone. It's a familiar one, recent and vibrant in my mind. My eyes widen as it dawns on me that this isn't a hallucination.

Oracle.

"I don't know if you can respond, but I'm looking at the vitals attached to your suit. Everything's in freefall right now. The tracker's telling me that you're at the Stadium, and I know about the guy with the ice gun. He's the one that's doing this, isn't he?"

I can't speak, let alone comprehend anything that the electronically distorted voice is saying. Generalized confusion is one of the first signs of mild to moderate hypothermia. Instead, I simply start taking deep breaths. Conserving the little oxygen that I have left to hold onto it for as long as I can. I've practiced holding my breath under intense simulated circumstance in the past, and made it to the five minute mark before having to go up for air. If I can hold it that long now, maybe... just maybe I won't have to fear dying after all.

"Hold on, I'm going to try something to buy you some time. You'll want to keep your eyes closed..."

Reluctantly, with no choice left to guarantee my immediate survival, I comply to this by inhaling as much as possible and forcibly shutting my eyes before all of the remaining nerve endings are completely numb. The next sound that I hear verbereates all around me. It's the bulbs attached to the lights of the Stadium - the ones that I had Ace shut down to give me some leverage in the dark. Somehow, likely in the same manner that was used to hack into my server, Oracle is overriding those commands and turning the lights back on. And with another hum of electricity, I hear something else. An escalation in their vibrancy.

"ARRRGH!"

Freeze lets out a cry of agony, likely blinded by the sudden light returning to the room. The ice stops building, as does the general feeling of numbing force that left me overpowered. Slowly, I open my eyes again, and immediately see the madman flailing about on the stage below, thrusting his cannon in every possible direction as he fires off stray beams of his weapon's freezing agent. Feeling for any retained movement left in my body, I manage to slowly get my left arm back to working again. Thrusting my spine forward, trying to push myself free of the ice, I begin pounding on the sheet of it that's covering my waist, feeling for a weakened spot through my fist. Have to... have to get my belt. There's a plasma cutter in there that I used to melt the metal and ice that had covered the roof of the building.

"K... K-Keep him... d-distracted..."

Oracle responds by upping the voltage of each light in the room. Everything goes brighter, even blinding me to an extent, but I begin to hear several of the lights shattering. Considering the amount of lighting that was equipped to the stage itself, I imagine that Freeze is currently suffering even worse than before, having broken glass pound against his armor and unable to see anything to prevent it from hitting. Striking down at the ice again, I feel a pressure point begin to form.

With one swift motion, my hand straightens and I go in for a hard jab. The ice shatters under the impact of the blow, freeing my waist and allowing me to finally grab the item that I need. Wasting no time, I exhale the breath that I was holding in and strike the plasma torch with my thumb, lighting it up with a hiss. With as much precision as I can maintain, I get to work in freeing myself entirely...



"The electrical grid for this place is a little confusing, so bear with me..."

Gotham City, Precinct 27
Gordon's Office
3:57 PM


"...but I think I can re-activate the security cameras to get a better sense for the room. Looks like they were all shut off from an outside source. Betting you weren't the one to do that, either."

Cracking her knuckles, Barbara Gordon begins excessively typing at the keyboard of the computer ahead of her, rerouting several commands embedded into the Stadium's electrical systems with manual coding, script doctoring, and every hacker's trick in the book that she can think of. She had originally intended to simply contact The Batman to let him know what was happening at the Stadium in order to get him there before her father and the GCPD threw themselves in harm's way, but breaking back into his systems had taken more time than the young technological prodigy had anticipated. It was easy to imagine her surprise when upon finally getting through, not only was the vigilante already there, but he was in the midst of nearly succumbing to acute hypothermia. She breathed a sigh of relief as she looked over to the active readout of his vitals, which all seemed to be steadily improving by the second.

Barbara grinned as one of the security cameras finally cleared up from a wave of static after implementing some basic commands. Not only did it give her a clear picture of the main Stadium itself, but it assured her that Batman was alive and nearly free of his frozen bindings. The maniac responsible, covered head-to-toe in a glowing armor suit accompanied by a protective dome, was still reeling from what she had done. For the first time since deciding to use her knowledge of computers to prevent as much criminal activity as she could from the comfort of her chair, the young Gordon felt a sense of victory. Looking over her shoulder to make sure that no one could see her, she went for another fist pump.

"Yes! Score one for the good guys!"

Gotham City, Snyder Stadium
Starling Fashion Show
3:58 PM


Hearing the excited tone of voice to keep me going, I grimace as the last bit of ice keeping me pinned to the wall is melted away enough for me to break through. With enough force to potentially tear a couple of layers of muscle under any other circumstances, I force my shoulder to the side and smash the brunt of my wrist into the weakened ice. Finally, I fall from the static position that I was forced into and hit the platform below squarely on my back. It doesn't feel pleasant, but it lets me know that I'm still alive enough to feel the impact. My heart's pounding in my ears, at this point, trying to pump enough blood throughout my system to regulate my body temperature back to something resembling normalcy.

As I fight off the shivering, I look up towards the rafters, remembering that I have another threat awaiting me - only to find that Selina is long since gone. Probably assumed that Freeze had finished me off for her and was content to get to safety. I'm not sure that I feel so relieved by that, in light of her showing what appeared to be true colors.

That betrayal's going to stick with me for a long time. I had put my faith in the idea that she was truly nothing like her father, but she turned out to be just as manipulative and blood-hungry as The Roman. And given that she mentioned a bounty, I can't simply say that she wanted to kill The Batman for trying to murder her friend. This wasn't personal. It was strategic.

"Probably not the best time to mention it, but I think this time, you officially owe me."

Allowing my head to rest on the metal of the platform for a brief moment, I reach out and pull my body upwards, finally able to stand again. Freeze is beginning to recover aswell, evident by the fact that he's stopped frantically firing upon the crowd in a blind panic. As soon as he sees me, our eyes meet, glaring hatefully at eachother. He doesn't register his surprise at my survival, but he does make it clear that it's an unwelcome development.

"So you've spared yourself but for a second longer. It does not matter to me. You and everyone in the crowd will almost certainly die here before I have finished."

Unlike our last encounter, there's no debating that Oracle is right and that I owe the anonymous voice my life. They may be an unknown element, at the moment, but they're the best chance that I have in stopping Mr. Freeze.

"You're still connected to the Stadium's power grid."

"In the middle of getting it back online, actually. Someone seriously didn't want it to be active in any way that meant outside interference. Security cameras were down, the alarms are inactive. Probably why the ice guy managed to barge into the place without anyone suspecting it."

I narrow my eyes as I leap off of the platform and fire a grapple line into the air. Freeze attempts to catch me with another blast, but his aim is off enough due to the disorientation to spare me from a repeat incident. Swinging up to the barrier between the front stage and backstage, I dive away as another beam of ice blasts through and covers that area.

"Alert the police. They need to know what they're in for if they attempt to breach the area."

"They already left to respond to the attack a few minutes ago. Trust me, if they're not already in there, it's because they can't get through any of the entrances. And I don't think they'd stand much of a chance against this guy even if they did."

Searching the backstage for any sign of something that can help me combat this unusual threat, I realize that it's fruitless to consider anything back of to be of use. The most that I can find are abandoned dressed, mannequins, and beauty supplies. My anger only increases as I notice, towards the back of the room, that there are a series of corpses left standing in place, frozen solid. He must have torn through the security staff before he made his grand entrance. These people had families. They were just trying to do their job. And that bastard didn't care.

"Then I'm on my own. None of the security staff are still alive, and I don't know what more that you could possibly do from a remote position."

There's a pause as I continue searching.

"Maybe not. But I've got an idea that you can try. Just a shot in the dark, but do you happen to carry an EMP in that belt?"

My eyebrow raises, as I try and rationalize why I didn't think of that before. Freeze's suit and cannon run off of an electrical power source. Shutting that down may render him immobile, not to mention take the cannon out of play entirely.

"In my belt? No."

Spotting one of the dressing stations near me, I notice a pair of large scissors sitting astray among the scattered items. Rushing towards it as I hear Freeze's massive footsteps growing closer to the backstage entrance, I grab the scissors and immediately begin tracing the side of my uniform with the blade. Once it hits a certain piece beneath the armor, I start cutting away at the fabric.

While he never built anything that I could use as a projectile to render enemy forces without power, Lucius Fox did manage to install a low-level EMP underneath one of the kevlar pieces of the Batsuit that casts an outward frequency. It was put there to prevent security footage, photographs and video from being taken of me whenever I operated in the field. Ripping the small emitter from my side, I produce it in-hand and squint as the video feed from my cowl begins to distort from the exposure.

"But I have one. The problem is that it's a low-frequency jammer. It wouldn't affect Freeze's suit or cannon with much potency."

There's another pause.

"Okay. I know that what I'm asking is alot for a man with many secrets, but... just this once, can you trust me? Because I'm going to need to access your gear's electronic output to allocate some alternative sources to boost the EMP."

Looking back at the entrance, I dive ahead and place myself behind a large speaker to escape Freeze's light of sight as he enters the area. My voice goes into a whisper as I respond to Oracle's request.

"I thought you were already inside."

"I am. But I'm asking your permission to go further. Because I know that when I did it the first time, I messed up whatever trust you could've placed in me if I'd have just come to you directly."

Whoever Oracle really is, they're the only person in Gotham that have proven themselves to be genuinely looking out for my well-being. I was so overtaken with paranoia whenever they originally hacked into my satellite connections that I never even truly considered the fact that what they had done was in an effort to save me.

And now that it's happened twice, I'm beginning to wonder if I was wrong to have told them to stay out of this whenever I shut them out the last time. As Selina already proved tonight, trust comes with the risk of misplacement. And aside from Alfred, I've never really had to place my trust in anyone. I still can't endorse what they're doing by aiding me. This can't become a regular reliance, as I'm still convinced that this person is relatively younger than me and more vulnerable to criminal prosecution if they were ever to get caught.

But for this specific instance, I have to put all of that aside. When I thought I was dying, all that I could feel was regret in the way I had handled everything up to now. Maybe if I change one thing, I can start to change everything...

"You'll get in easier with the passcode. Two-seven-one-nine-three-nine. Look for the tab under equipment, and only look there. There are safeguards put in place in other program files that'll lock you out if you try to access them."

Gotham City, Precinct 27
Gordon's Office
4:00 PM


Mouth agape and eyes widened, Barbara's lips curled into a wide smile as the man whose actions she had idolized gave her an immediate access into his inner-workings. She couldn't help it, as this had been exactly what she'd been hoping for from the beginning - lending those who are far more capable than the police an even better fighting chance against the enemies of justice. She had known for a long time that Gotham was a breeding ground for criminal misconduct, and until The Batman had began acting against the mob, Barbara had been given no idea of how to help her father fight against the same type of evil that had taken her mother and her own mobility away from her. But as soon as she saw that signal of his in the sky for the first time, she knew that she could create one of her own on the digital landscape. Because of his direct inspiration, The Oracle was born.

"I'll try to stay clear of those. And thanks. I won't let you down."

Accessing the specific files that she'd been instructed to go for, Barbara began to break down the firewalls that had been encrypted to ensure that no one could access Batman's gadgetry and shut it down for themselves. She knew she had to work fast, because if this channel remained open for too long, someone could seize the opportunity and make things significantly worse. Feeling a bead of sweat drip down her forehead as she typed, the daughter of Captain Gordon wiped it away as she typed in a series of commands that finally granted her access to the EMP.

She noticed the word 'Fox' among the data read-out, but elected to ignore it. After all, Barbara didn't want to know who Batman really was. As long as he was out there and keeping the people that her father had to face at bay, weakened to the point that they couldn't harm him, that was all that mattered to her. So even if she accidentally discovered something incriminating, she was determined to keep it to herself.

"Okay. There's a fiber optic wifi connection in a building near you that's sending terabytes of data back and forth. If I can expand your EMP's data input, it's frequency output should get alot stronger. It'll take a few seconds to bridge the connections..."

Gotham City, Snyder Stadium
Starling Fashion Show
4:01 PM


"A few seconds is all I have."

Peering from the right of the speaker, with my back pressed against it to ensure that I don't cast any shadows to reveal my current location, I watch as Freeze smashes through equipment in an effort to find me. Oracle has to be allowed to do their work, which means that it's my turn to come up with a suitable distraction. Placing two fingers against my throat, I manually shift the pitch of my voice modulator so that it sounds as though it's coming from a different direction.

Freeze doesn't seem to be someone that's as headstrong and volitale as Deadshot, so any attempts to prey on his ego won't work. I have to get to the root of what he's after. Which, as I recall, was something about a wife.

"Do you really think she's here, Freeze? If you loved her, do you really think she'd want to stay and see what kind of a monster you've become?"

That immediately gets his attention, as he looks to the far left of the room. Readying his cannon, he fires an intense blast at the wall that he thinks I'm hiding behind, covering it in jagged frozen spikes and a more than lethal encasement of ice.

"You know nothing of my affairs, Batman. My wife has nothing to do with your interference. And hiding in the dark will not grant you clemency from my wrath."

Vaulting for a change of cover while he isn't looking, I change the pitch so that it echoes out through the right of the room, this time.

"It has everything with it. You killed innocent people to get to her today. Do you really think that barbarity is going to win her heart back, or are you too far gone to see that it was never going to happen in the first place?"

That elicits a reaction resembling anger. He takes another shot, but to my surprise, it isn't in the direction of the voice this time. It's at the ceiling of the Stadium. Watching as the blast coats the area above us with a thick sheen of ice, I start to realize what his plan in doing so is. Before I can react appropriately, however, he's already enacted it. Large, stalactite-sized icicles form and fall as soon as they appear, striking down at the ground around us. At first, I only have to dodge the ice that shatters upon impact. But eventually, one forms directly above me.

Dammit. Can't wait on Oracle any longer. I have to move.

Vaulting over one of the dressing stations, I dive directly into Freeze and ram into the dome of his armor with my shoulder. It sends him stumbling back, though far from injured or compromised, and I watch as the ice-ridden chunk of metal meant for me smashes into the ground and destroys everything around it. I fall against the floor and throw a high kick against his cannon, knocking it away as he attempts to fire upon me. Enraged, he takes one of his massive boots and attempts to stomp down. I roll just out of the way.

"You may be more resourceful than I initially gave you credit for, but the time of this quarrel has come to an end. I shall scattered the shards of your frozen remains upon this accursed city that you love in tribute to this effort of valiance."

Stopped in place by the barrel of the cannon as it's placed directly onto my forehead, I stare up as he readies his finger on the trigger.

"But valiance is ever fleeting."

Pulling out the EMP emitter that I had tucked away in my belt, I hold it up and watch as Oracle finally boosts it's output to the point that all of the lights begin to black out around us. Freeze looks around, clearly confused, as I grit my teeth in anger.

"So is chaos."

Placing the EMP directly onto his suit, I watch as the light from Freeze's dome begins to flicker on and off. He panics, realizing what I've done, and takes a few steps back to try and remove the emitter before it can do any lasting damage.

"No! No, you cannot do this! I need the suit! It gives me life... prevents me from..."

The light finally goes out, and he begins gasping for air. I get to my feet and approach him as he doubles over, tossing his freezing cannon aside. I start to realize that the suit he's wearing isn't just to enhance his strength and protect him from bodily harm. Not only was his armor some sort of coolant storage tank, it was a life preservation system. With the fog clearing from his dome, I can see it in the veins of his skin. Freeze isn't a metahuman. He's a man afflicted by some sort of disease. A disease that he can only keep at bay with the cold. Which means that unless I don't remove the EMP, he'll likely die.

"No. You're not getting out of this that easily."

Rushing to sever the massive cable that attaches his cannon to his armor, in the very likely event that he tries to use this attempt to spare his life against me, I take a batarang and cut into the cable as hard as I possibly can. It's thick and tough, made out of a reinforced material, but eventually I start to see sparks fly out once the cables short circuit. Stabbing the batarang in, I place my boot on one end of the cable and rip the other half from it. The cannon should be useless, now.

Turning back Freeze, I reach down and rip the EMP from his suit. The coolant starts to rush again, as I place a boot on his chest, attempting to hold him in place. He stops choking, eventually, and breathes in the cold air as if it were fresh oxygen.

"Now. You're going to tell me everything about why you really came here. What was there to gain in this attack? Answer me!"

Freeze stares up at me and doesn't so much as flinch.

"I did not mince my words, Batman. It was about her. It was always about her. My Nora is here. She was to be the star attraction of this show, and I know that she didn't make it out of the building. I can still feel her warmth radiating from the crowd."

Grabbing me by the ankle, Freeze's strength returns in it's full form, gaining some leverage and tossing my entire body against one of the mirrors. It cracks under my spine, leaving me to fall against the table and shatter that aswell. Freeze manages to get to his feet, looking toward his cannon. He doesn't go for it, confirming that without it's power, he isn't willing to carry on with the attack. But he looks towards me nevertheless, seemingly satisfied as I weakly try and pull myself back up.

"But if we are to remain apart for now, so be it. There will be time later for a reunion. A time after Gotham is rendered to ash, and the people that gave me a second chance at life will reap the rewards of the conflict to come."

Conflict to come?

"What the hell are you talking about?"

For the first time, a smile seems to creep upon Freeze's face, narrowing his eyes at me.

"There is a war coming to the streets. By the time you and the rest of the city realize it, it will be far too late. He will bring an end to the Five Families, as he will to those caught in the throes of their deaths. And when you try and mount your retaliation, I assure you, Batman..."

Having hidden something behind his back, Freeze produces a glowing object in hand and tosses it my way. I throw my cape up infront of me to steer clear, hoping that it's not a grenade. As the burst of cold lashes out at me, I realize that it's not, but it is a distraction that works off of a similar technology to his cannon.

"Your city will fall to the light."



CSSH!

For a few seconds, I'm rendered partially frozen again, but to a much lesser degree and in a manner that still allows me the freedom of mobility. Shaking my cloak loose of any remaining ice, rubbing the lenses of my cowl of any condensation and fog that came with that attack, I finally look up again to find, to my surprise, that Freeze has entirely disappeared. Knowing that my connection to Ace was severed whenever he caught me in a blast of his cannon the first time, there's no way for me to scan for any potential signs of his escape. He could have rushed the crowd, or more likely, utilized the same method that he used to gain access to the backstage door. Whatever his method was, I can't even hear him anymore. He's well and truly gone.

First Poison Ivy, now Mr. Freeze. That makes two dangerously unstable individuals with control over a particular element loose in Gotham. With Ivy, it was the mind taken over through nature, using an airborne pheromone extract that I traced at the scene of my encounter with her handiwork. I went back after feeling as though it were too convenient that she could only take control of a metahuman like Jessica Jones to carry out the murder of Deadshot's daughter, especially when she could have easily taken control of the mother or the girl herself.

And now Freeze is out there with a control over cryogenic ordinance. In both of these encounters, I barely survived against them. Because I wasn't prepared for anything like either of them. That's going to have to be rectified if I hope to continue protecting Gotham from as many threats as possible. My enemies are only getting more powerful by the day.

"Hey, so... did we win?"

Oracle's still here. I place my hand over my comm-link in the ear of the cowl.

"Freeze escaped. But he won't be harming anyone again today."

Firing a grapple line towards the rafters above, I begin my ascension.

"Dammit. Then whenever he shows back up again, this scenerio's going to play out somewhere else."

"Perhaps. But I'll be ready next time, since you gave me insight into his weakness."

Landing atop the rafters, I look out towards the front entrances of the Stadium. GCPD's SWAT unit has been using a battering ram to smash through the ice covering the front of the building for the last few minutes, and they seem to be just now getting through. I had better make myself scarce, before they realize I was here aswell.

"Wait, was that your way of saying thank you?"

I smirk to myself. The need for validation definitely confirms Oracle's age to be in the late teens, at least.

"No. But it was my way of saying something else. Good job."

Were it not for the both of us, Freeze would've caused more damage than he did. For that reason, I'll leave Oracle to remove themselves from my servers of their own accord.

After all, a sense of trust can only start with practice.
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Hidden 6 yrs ago 6 yrs ago Post by Sep
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Sep Migs Mayfield - Core

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T H E F L A S H


Revelations:

NOT FAST ENOUGH






Iris' felt her phone vibrate in her pocket as she finished off Marko. At least for now, he seemed to be hellbent on coming back for Spider-Woman much like she had her own demon to face sooner or later back in Central City. She shook herself off, patting herself down and cleaning what little muck remained off her person. Shuddering slightly, that was utterly disgusting.

"Ugh...." Iris looked around the room, she could already hear sirens approaching which meant that police, and if she knew one thing for sure is that Superheroes, or heroines, didn't seem to be appreciated in this neck of the woods. At least what she could tell from the 'reports' that the clown J.Jonah Jameson screamed at anyone who would listen to him. She sighed as she looked around the room. Water lay everywhere and there were small puddles of wet sand. The majority of the glob was gone, likely into the drain system and could be anywhere by now. Even with her speed she couldn't possibly check the entire sewer system. So there wasn't any point her putting herself through that just for... this.

"I mean, am I the only one who thinks that looked like crap?" Iris turned as Spider-Woman spoke "And I mean that literally. One of my villains literally looked like crap going down the drain. God I have the worst villains."

Chuckling slightly she walked over to her. "I can see where you get that from, but I can say mine aren't much better. I guess it's all part of the job where villains aren't the best people to be around. Hell, I haven't heard a peep from my greatest foe in weeks but I've got a pretty serious threat looming over my head to look forward too." It was all well and good joking about it now, but pain lingered in her words. Her eyes hollow, not that they were easily visible beneath her mask. Iris always played the lightheart around normal people, it filled them with hope the way she interacted with them yet she couldn't help but feel the weight of it all try to rush out the moment she spoke to someone who could very well be in the same situation as her. A female superhero, they seemed to be a rare breed afterall.

"I wish I had divine wisdom to impart on you, but really-" She shrugged "-I'm probably not a lot better at this than you are. Don't get me even started on Superman. He may be the man of steel, but he doesn't know how to talk to a woman." Her phone buzzed again and she sighed, pulling it out of a pocket. She didn't activate it quite yet to see the message instead she just eyed Spider-Woman for a moment. "You know, when you think about it we really should think about some form of group dynamic for us heroes and heroines."

Looking down at her phone she saw it was a message from Barry. Tempted to ignore it at first, her phone buzzed again. The next message put all thoughts of ignoring it out of her head.

["911. Man in Yellow. Come now, your place."]

All colour in her face vanished.

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Hidden 6 yrs ago 6 yrs ago Post by AndyC
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AndyC Guardian of the Universe

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Ttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttthhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee ssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuunnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiisssssssssssssssssssssssss cccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnggggggggggggggggg uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuupppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaassssssssssssssssssssssssssssss Iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii lllllllllllllllllllllllllooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooookkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooouuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuutttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttt ttttttttttttttttttttttttttttthhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee--






HUH.

WELL, THIS IS PRETTY EMBARRASSING, ISN'T IT? THE FAT IDIOT GOT HIMSELF ALL WORKED UP FOR A BIG CRAZY TEAM-UP, AND WHILE HE'S TRYING TO GET THE BOY SCOUT ON A TRAIN TO WHERE ALL THE COOL KIDS ARE, HIS DANCE PARTNER GOT STUCK IN A SNOWBALL FIGHT! NOW THE PRESENT IS COMPRESSING WHILE IT TRIES TO CATCH UP WITH ITSELF, AND OUR BOY HERE IS ALL DRESSED UP WITH NO-WHEN TO GO!

THIS HAPPENS A LOT MORE FREQUENTLY THAN YOU'D THINK. EVER WATCH A MOVIE A THOUSAND TIMES, ONLY TO REALIZE THAT ONE SCENE IS JUST A LITTLE BIT OFF FROM HOW YOU REMEMBER IT? OR I'M SURE YOU'VE HEARD THE WHOLE THEORY ABOUT THOSE CHILDREN'S BOOKS WITH THE CARTOON BEARS AND EVERYONE KNOWS THEIR NAMES ARE SPELLED 'BERENSTEIN' AND THEN YOU LOOK AT IT AGAIN AND IT'S 'BERENSTAIN?' TIME IS MESSY, IT STRETCHES AND BENDS AND SQUASHES AND LEAKS, AND EVERY TIME IT DOES IT HAS TO WRITE OVER ITSELF, HISTORY NEVER QUITE FITTING TOGETHER THE WAY IT DID BEFORE. THE MANDELLA EFFECT, DEJA VU, REPRESSED MEMORIES. YOU EXPERIENCE THESE THINGS BECAUSE TIME IS CONSTANTLY CHURNING AND SLOSHING AROUND, AND YOU HAVE NO WAY OF EVER SENSING IT FROM YOUR PLANE OF EXISTENCE.

HA! NAH, I'M MESSING WITH YOU-- YOU EXPERIENCE THESE THINGS BECAUSE YOUR BRAINS ARE UNRELIABLE TANGLES OF CHEMICAL RECEPTORS THAT STORE AND PROCESS MEMORIES BY SQUIRTING VARIOUS JUICES AROUND INSIDE YOUR SKULLS! THAT'S WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU EVOLVE FROM OVERACHIEVING POND SCUM AND REPRODUCE BY SLINGING GOOP AT EACH OTHER AND HOPING FOR THE BEST! I'D SAY IT'S DEPRAVED, BUT MY BABY GSPTLSNZ CAN DO THINGS THAT WOULD MAKE YOU TEAR YOUR OWN SKIN OFF IN A FATAL BOUT OF HORRIFIED ECSTACY, SO AT BEST I'D SAY YOU'RE UNSANITARY.

ANYWAY, ERM, WHERE WAS I GOING WITH THIS......OH! RIGHT! TIME!

SO IF YOU'RE A GUY LIKE ME WHO CAN EXPERIENCE TIME AS SOMETHING OTHER THAN A WAY TO MONITOR THE AMOUNT OF LIFE YOU'VE WASTED DOING MEANINGLESS NONSENSE AS YOUR MEAT-FORMS CONTINUALLY DECAY, YOU CAN SKIP BACK AND FORTH THROUGH CHAINS OF EVENTS ALL YOU WANT. THE PAST, THE FUTURE, ANY AND ALL PARALLEL SETS OF TIMESPACE YOU THINK OF AS A 'UNIVERSE,' LIKE SKIPPING AROUND THROUGH SCENES ON A DVD, OR MAYBE MORE LIKE A VIDEO PLAYLIST. IT'S THE COSMIC EQUIVALENT OF SPACING OUT ON YOUTUBE WHEN YOU SHOULD BE WORKING-- I'M SURE SOME OF YOU SLOBS CAN RELATE!

ANYWAY, SINCE THIS ITERATION STARTED IN MEDIAS RES, I FIGURED NOW MIGHT AS WELL BE AS GOOD A TIME AS ANY TO REWIND A BIT AND SEE HOW OUR BOY MET HIS GIRL! EVERYONE LOVES SHIPPING, RIGHT?

SO, LET'S SEE.....PLANE CRASH? NO, THAT'S NOT IT......FALLING OFF A ROOF? NAH, THAT'S THE OTHER ONE.......SHOWING UP IN HIS HOMETOWN AND HANGING AROUND FOR WAY TOO LONG BEFORE--.....WAIT, NO, HERE IT IS!

AND AWAYYYY WEEEEE GO!







Nairomi, Africa
The Village of Asase Ya
30 Miles West of the capital city Nyame

One Year Ago


"<A Hansa, please,>" I say to the bartender over the beat of dance music playing on a beaten-up jukebox in the far corner of the village bar. Even at sundown, the heat hammers down here. The paint on the walls faded and cracked a long time ago, patches of bare plaster just as numerous as the pictures hanging from it.

Pictures of smiling men and women, children, family members, friends. All people who were killed in the fighting during the past year.

The bartender, a rail-thin old man with thick beads of sweat rolling down his scalp, places a bottle of beer on the bar in front of me. I nod, and start to drink.

Here, the water is scarce, and most of what can be found isn't clean. Filtered water goes for a high price, so most of the locals just drink beer instead. I'm not a big drinker myself--mostly because alcohol doesn't seem to affect me much, if at all-- but I figure it'd be best to leave the water to the people who actually need it.

Besides, I think I'm entitled to treat myself to a little refreshment after a hard day's work.

"<Did you hear, news-man?>" the bartender says, striking up a conversation. "<General Amajagh surrendered, turned himself in at the capital. He said a red-eyed demon attacked his camp and told him to give up.>"

"<A demon?" I ask. "<I interviewed Amajagh back when he and Minister Asuru were trying to negotiate a peace treaty. He didn't seem like the kind of person who believed in demons.>"

The bartender chuckles, but his laugh is bitter, without a trace of mirth.

"<No,>" he says, "<the only demons around here were the ones in his army.>"

"Hm," I give a sombre nod and take another sip of beer.

I've been traveling the world for about eight years, seen dozens of different cultures with vastly different ways of life. There's one thing that every culture I've seen has had in common: division. Sometimes that division is based on race, sometimes on economic class, sometimes on religion. Everywhere I've gone, I've seen people who believe truly and deeply that their particular group is superior in some way to another, and use that to justify terrible things.

General Kwaku Amajagh is a militant extremist of the Ghuri tribe, a people who had been oppressed for centuries by their neighboring tribe, the Turaabas. Over the past few years, the Ghuri had been more and more vocal about breaking free from their position as subservient to the Turaabas, beginning at first with peaceful demonstrations and petitions to the local government. This more peaceful movement, led by a brilliant man named Kobe Asuru, was unfortunately largely ignored by the Nairomi Senate, until Amajagh gathered a militia of Ghuri fighters, declared himself General, and began a series of violent attacks against Turaaba-dominant towns and villages.

Asuru and Amajagh found themselves at odds with each other, the one believing the two tribes could live together peacefully, the other believing their oppressors had to be destroyed. Eventually, Asuru began working with the government and the local military to rein his more violent counterpart in, and was appointed as a Minister of the Ghuri tribe in the Nairomi Senate. This appeared to be a major victory, as the Ghuri were finally getting representation, a major step to them being treated as equals.

Tragically, on what was to be the day of his swearing in, Kobe Asuru was assassinated in front of the capitol building. After that, an increasingly paranoid Amajagh began butchering civilians, Ghuri and Turaaba alike.

Today, he had amassed his forces to overrun the village of Asase Ya, home to about a thousand people, with the goal of wiping out everyone there. He had hundreds of men in his camp, armed with machine guns, flamethrowers, rocket-propelled grenades, artillery cannons, armored trucks, and a pair of light tanks. The villagers would have been slaughtered, down to the last child.

At least, until a "red-eyed demon" stepped in.

It was bitter work, but the tanks and heavy weapons were destroyed, the army scattered to the wind, and Amajagh chose to turn himself in. The Nairomi Army is picking over the remains of his camp now. In addition to the heavy weaponry Amajagh was going to use today, they'll also find missiles with biological warheads, which he had planned to use on the capital.

The whole situation is a sad one, but at least the fighting's stopped now. I saved hundreds of lives today, and including the planned attack on the capital, upwards of a million. Still, I wish I had gotten involved sooner, stopped things before they got out of hand.

"<This red-eyed demon,>" I say to the bartender, "<did anyone get a look at him?>"

"Not one's left a description yet," I hear a woman's voice from the doorway, answering me in English, "but I've got a pretty good idea of what he might look like."

Standing in the doorway is a caucasian woman, another American like myself. She's wearing a purple button-down shirt with the sleeves rolled up to her elbows, khakis tucked into her boots, and a considerable layer of dirt and dust. Her raven-black hair is pulled back in a ponytail, barring a few stray strands that drape down across her face.

Most striking, though, are her eyes. They're a deep violet, which is extraordinarily rare. I've met thousands of people in my years on the road, and I've seen probably millions of faces at this point. But I've never met anyone with violet eyes. At first I think she's wearing colored contacts, but I squint a bit, quickly focusing my vision to 'zoom in' like a telescope, and I can see it's the real deal.

It's not just the eye color that catches me, but the fire in them. She's here with a purpose, and apparently that purpose is me. I stand up as she approaches, and she doesn't so much as flinch.

"I just got back from what's left of Amajagh's camp," she says. "The military's saying it was probably a counterattack from another cell. But they haven't explained why one of the holes in a tank's armor has marks that look like hands pulling apart Play-Dough. Similar to something I saw a few months ago when an oil tanker in the Bering Strait ran aground, and then the spill somehow mysteriously managed to contain itself."

She takes a few more steps, circling me like she's going to pounce.

"They also said the 'demon' was so fast they could barely see him, and that fire shot from his eyes," she continues. "Which sounds like the 'blur' who allegedly pulled people to safety during that earthquake in Sokovia last year, or those trapped construction workers in Rhelaysia who said their rescuer burned through steel beams with an 'invisible cutting torch.' I could rattle off about a dozen more, each of which could be brushed off as easily as seeing Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster. But I started noticing a pattern in all of them."

"And what's that?" I ask, my arms folded as I try to get a read on her.

"There's always someone in the background of these stories, a friend of a friend, a new guy on the job, a quiet type who minds his own business. He shows up right around when the trouble starts, but then when it's done I can never seem to reach him for comment. Usually the same description. White male, six-foot-three or so, maybe two hundred twenty pounds, dark hair, slouches, a nice enough guy but doesn't talk much. Maybe he's a firefighter named John Clark. Or a greenhorn trucker named Archie Clayton. Or a deckhand named Joe Siegel...."

She looks me dead in the eye, giving me a satisfied grin.

"....or an itinerant junior reporter named Clark Kent."

She's got me. And she knows she's got me. I could do what I always do when people get too close, disappear and show up on the other side of the world with a new name, but sooner or later, I'd have to step in and help someone in danger, and she'd find me all over again.

Better to confront it now than to just prolong the inevitable.

"I don't know who you are," I say, in as calm and measured a tone as I can, "but if you're trying to threaten me...."

She blinks, her 'gotcha' composure breaking.

"Threaten you? Nononono, you've got the wrong idea," she says. "Look, I've been tracking this story for ages now, trying to put together pieces that didn't make any sense. Nobody I talked to about it believed me, they thought I was crazy. I thought I was going crazy for a bit! But I was finally able to catch up to you, and you're here and you're real and you're....a lot to take in, so I just thought I should make a moment of it."

"Why have you been following me, then?"

"Because," she says, regaining her composure. "Because I'm someone like you....."

My eyes go wide.

".....like me?"

She smiles.

"Yeah," he says. "I'm a reporter."




YOU KNOW WHAT, THIS GOES ON FOR A GOOD BIT. LET'S SKIP AHEAD TO SOME OF THE MORE JUICY STUFF. LET'S SEE.....



OKAY, THIS IS A PRETTY FUN MOMENT, LET'S--



WAIT, NO, I SKIPPED AHEAD TOO MUCH, LEMME JUST--



NO, THAT'S TOO FAR AHEAD, HOW DO I--



OKAY, PAY NO ATTENTION, PEOPLE, SPOILERS CAN REALLY MESS WITH YOUR--



--WHOAH, THAT ONE YOU'RE DEFINITELY NOT SUPPOSED TO--



SEE, NOTHING BUT GOOD AND WHOLESOME ENTERTAINMENT FROM HERE ON--



JEEZ, HOW FAR AHEAD ARE WE NOW? HOW DO I GET BACK TO



AHHH, SCREW IT, I'M GONNA JUST LET TIME SORT ITSELF OUT. YOU'RE GONNA HAVE TO FEND FOR YOURSELVES UNTIL IT DOES. JUST REMEMBER, IN MOMENTS LIKE THIS WHEN THE FOURTH-DIMENSIONAL MEMBRANE IS IN FLUX, THE ONE THING YOU SHOULD ABSOLUTELY NEVER DO IS--

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Hidden 6 yrs ago Post by HenryJonesJr
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HenryJonesJr

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As the Flash talks about her own troubles, I head over and kick at the grate that Marko disappeared down. Just great. Marko was dangerous before he became a living sand sculpture. Now he's got...well scary amounts of power. I'm no slouch, but I have no idea how I could have stopped him on my own. The Flash was a serious amount of help, as someone who can run at like the speed of light usually is...I would imagine.

The next time Marko shows up, I may not be lucky enough to have help. On that day, am I going to be able to contain him? Will I be able to save the innocent people around me and keep them out of harm's way?

"There'll come a day when all of this will reach the ones you love."

Johnny Storm's words echo through my head. Up until this point, all I've come across are mob hit men and weirdos. Sure Sytsevich is gigantic, Harkness has impeccable aim, and Delilah is a crazy martial artist, but they're normal people. Hell, even Firebug is just a guy in a suit. A fancy, napalm throwing suit, but a suit none the less.

But this thing with Marko is something different.

This is real, raw power in a guy not much smarter than the sand he's made out of. That much potential destruction in the hands of someone with no lines means untold amounts of things. And what if he's just the first? What if there are more like him on the way?

How am I going to stop people like this?

"I wish I had divine wisdom to impart on you, but really-" She shrugged "-I'm probably not a lot better at this than you are. Don't get me even started on Superman. He may be the man of steel, but he doesn't know how to talk to a woman." Her phone buzzed again and she sighed, pulling it out of a pocket. She didn't activate it quite yet to see the message instead she just eyed Spider-Woman for a moment. "You know, when you think about it we really should think about some form of group dynamic for us heroes and heroines."

Looking down at her phone she saw it was a message from Barry. Tempted to ignore it at first, her phone buzzed again. The next message put all thoughts of ignoring it out of her head.

["911. Man in Yellow. Come now, your place."]

All colour in her face vanished.


Flash's words rouse me from my own thoughts. A group of superheroes fighting together. After everything that Johnny had told her about his world, that doesn't sound like a bad idea at all. If something as big as what happened there happens here, having a line to the rest of the superhero community would be invaluable. They might not win, but it would certainly give them a fighting chance. That's all they could really ask for.

"You know, forming a group wouldn't be a bad idea," I nod as I turn back to her. "We worked well, if not a little sloppy, here. If what I've recently heard about ever happens here, being on a texting basis with the rest of the Super Friends might give us an upper hand. We can clearly use all of those we can-"

I look up, realizing I'm in my own world yet again. I really, really need to pay more attention to people when they're talking to me.

Flash's demeanor has changed on a dime. I can immediately see something's bothering her, "You good?"

**********


From a grate in front of Otto Octavius, a brown, grimy slurry emerges. As it pumps itself out of the opening, it sheds the moisture in its composition, mixing itself with a fresh pile of sand Otto brought with him. Flint Marko is now something even more incredible than Octavius could have ever imagined. If Warren's experiment had gone through to its completion, he would have been powerful, sure. But the power surge needed to break the Enforcers out of prison has created something even more spectacular. Marko can't just control sand. He now is sand. His consciousness is now housed in a single grain of sand, which can in turn control any particle of the substance in its vacinity.

Flint Marko is now one of the most beautiful beings Octavius has ever seen.

Sure, this type of superpower isn't marketable to AIM's customers, but that doesn't make it any less impressive.

Plus, being one of a kind mad Marko more pliable and open to Otto's suggestions.

"The freakin' Flash was there!" Marko seethes at Octavius as his face forms seemingly from thin air, like a reverse disintegration. "How the hell am I supposed to steal stuff when there's two freakin' superheroes around?"

"I'm sorry, Flint," Otto smiles condescendingly. "Last time I checked I can't look into the future. When I can, I'll make sure to give you every possible thing that can go wrong with your missions. Deal?"

"Yea, sure," he grumbles. "But I still didn't come away with any loot."

Octavius waves his hand at his new friend, "It's irrelevant. We've set the trap. Now all we have to do is wait for our rivals to fall into it."
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Hidden 6 yrs ago Post by DocTachyon
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DocTachyon Teenage Neenage Neetle Teetles

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”The Ranchero of Miracle Mesa” - Riders on the Storm: Part Five

“The Cowboy must never shoot first, hit a smaller man, or take unfair advantage.”

-Anonymous




Warpath, Texas




They were both jammed in the Saloon now, keeping them back from the windows as best as they could. Some part of the idea was make ‘em think that The Saloon was their last stand, like an old Eastwood picture; when in reality the thing was the biggest bomb Texas had ever seen.

"Cavalry's here." I stood up, twisting around to the entrance of the old saloon. "You got this place primed and ready to blow at a moment's notice?"


“It’s fixin’ to blow like The Alamo!” Vig hollered. He was down to his last two pistols, and it seemed Frank was, too. Thankfully, they kept up a tight enough wall of lead that none of ‘em had breached. Yet. He wasn’t sure how many of ‘em were left. Between him and Frank, they’d dropped several dozen, but who knows how many were left? Maybe his initial assessment was wrong. Maybe there were untold legions of ‘em, and he only saw a hundred from the get-go. But no matter how many there were, they had to stand and fight ‘em to the last man.

In the back of Vig’s mind The Spirit cowered, sequestered away behind whatever mental walls it found to hide behind, crying like a wounded animal. Vig would’ve thought that the thing would take pleasure in it. Unrelenting carnage and eradication of damned souls, no holds barred. Instead it hid from them. The role that The Spirit normally held in his mind had seemed to fade and be replaced by a primal animal made of fear. A mass of squealing souls reduced to a cat on a hot tin roof. Blaze had seemed afraid of them, too; but what was it? For all their darkness n’ the spirit-stuff they leaked, they were more or less ordinary folk with guns. A whole goddamn lot of ‘em, to be sure, but just men.

Regardless of what it was that kept it away, now would’ve been really goddamn good time for it to jump on outta the birthday cake. There wasn’t anything really human thing for it to hurt. Vig felt himself firing his guns on autopilot, but he reached into the back of his mind, clawing for The Spirit, trying to pull it out of its hiding place.

”No...” It whispered. For the first time it was like there was a great big wall between them. Any line in the sand Vig had tried to make The Spirit had gleefully crossed and played havoc with his mental defenses. But now it was obstinate, refusing to come out. It was like trying to drag an old racing horse out of the barn, when all the fight in him was gone. But for a moment there was a breach. As if a miniscule fragment of whatever The Spirit was floated across the breach to caress Vig’s face.

”Understand.” It begged. Vig felt his focus dragged back to reality, the rhythmic movement of his hands and his trigger pulls. Each Hunter that passed a window pulsed with arcane power. Wisps of purple and red weaved among the black, twisting together like thorns on a briar bush. They were ingrained up and down The Hunters arms and all up their bodies, even spiraling from their palms into their weapons themselves. They radiated an energy that Vig couldn’t place, it was neither Daemonic or Holy, but whatever it was, it burnt him to his very core. He felt it in every cell, pain stabbing through his sinuses and into the crevices of his brain. Whatever it was, it was engineered to kill him.

Vig heaved out a cough and stumbled backwards, missing an easy headshot. He shook his head to clear his vision. Some of them had started to burst through now, shattering a window only to be put down by a bullet to the head. Whatever that just was… Seemed The Spirit had a good enough excuse, time being. Now was time to focus on letting the place blow.

Nothing fancy, the explosives were tied to the tripwire that lead out the backdoor. Once that got sprung, all the boxes of dynamite and all the molotvs and frag mines in between would blow the ol’ Crossroads sky high. But there was a snag they hadn’t considered. There were so many of ‘em that it’d be hard to make sure the explosion wiped ‘em all at once. They’d been expecting a together knit group, a team, and that charge into the Saloon in one burst. Instead, a straggler might burst through and inadvertently save the rest of his friends. Someone would need to stay behind and make sure the house and nice and packed before they happened.

”Frank! End game time, compadre! Meet ‘cha out back!” Vig started taking his steps back as the horde started to pull in, inch by inch. It wasn’t much of a choice. Greg Saunders was more or less an old world cowboy with a demon camping in his soul and a head full of baggage. Frank Castle was a family man with a lot of pain in his heart. A pain that, whether he liked it or not, would let him save the whole goddamn world. And maybe Warpath along the way.
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Hidden 6 yrs ago Post by Sep
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Sep Migs Mayfield - Core

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Ⅎ ⅂ ∀ S H ⊥ H Ǝ


Revelations:

NOT FAST ENOUGH

Music





The Future


The suit was everything Eobard ever needed. He had lived the perfect life, and now delivered onto him was the suit of the Flash. From it he was able to take samples of the energy source that gave the speedster, Barry Allen, his powers. All the scans were so clear, so full of information. The suit was virtually alive with energy as he touched it, its secrets practically begged him to uncover them. Eobard knew that this was going to be his defining moment, he was going to become the Flash of the twenty fifth century, and then he will have fulfilled his life's purpose. In a world without heroes, he would be a beacon. Everyone would know his name, Eobard Thawne. Professor Zoom, Flash of the Twenty First Century and fastest man alive.

The experiment didn’t work. It refused to hold, whenever he tried to infuse his body with the energy it burned alive and nearly killed him, Eobard had to find a way to make it bond with him. It was likely a side effect of not wholly mimicking the effects that had caused Barry to inherit his speed, nobody knew all the details of the night where he gained his speed. It could have been a variety of things from the chemicals in the room that had been splashed on his body or the composition of the lightning bolt that hit him. It could even relate to what Barry had had to eat that day for lunch.

In a feat of genius he decided to reverse the charge of the electrical current that he was striking himself with. Instead of infusing himself with a positive charge that seemed to overload his systems, he tried it with a negative charge. To his surprise, and excitement, it worked. Now he could...



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Hidden 6 yrs ago Post by Hound55
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Hound55 Create-A-Hero RPG GM, Blue Bringer of BWAHAHA!

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The yellow cab pulled through the gates of expansive Grant Mansion, overlooking Lake Michigan. Marc and Jean Paul leaned over Marlene as all three looked out her window at the vast estate.

“Your employer. Grant. What exactly does he do?”

Samuels eyed the three in the back.

“Well, he’s currently closing a business deal in New York. But he often entertains various philanthropic interests. Generally anonymously. His father was a rabbi, and not being Jewish myself, I think he refers to it as Seaducker or something.”

“Tzedakah.” Corrected Marc.

“Are you Jewish, Marc?”

“I-- don’t know. Evidently, I guess, I must have been. It's about charity.” He stumbled on introspection.

In the rear view mirror Samuels looked long and hard at Spector, before averting his eyes and continuing to focus on the lengthy driveway.

“It means ‘justice’ or ‘righteousness’ in classic Hebrew...”

Spector furrowed his brow and thought back on Samuels answer. He’d very specifically given no real new information. He also didn’t really answer the question. He’d deflected it. Something was going on here. He also didn’t particularly care for how he was looking at him.

Samuels pulled the cab around to the front of the mansion. It was palatial, and Marlene and DuChamp gasped at the opulence. Marc was still too sullen in his thoughts. How does any of this make sense? What could a billionaire - or at the very least, Multi-millionaire - possibly want with an ex-marine, ex-CIA mercenary that he would feel remotely ethically comfortable lending his own assistance with? And that’s considering whether he would be capable of being of any use without his memory in the first place.

“Marc, look! This is amazing!” Marlene shouted from the steps with her arms out wide.

Marc smiled, and let himself live in the moment if only for the time being. It really was a spectacular house. If a place this size could even be called a “house”.

Samuels unlocked the door and apologized that food would not be available for a few hours; the housekeeper/cook was out attending other business. He then accommodated each of the three showing them to their own guest bedrooms and informed them that they could feel free to walk the grounds, Samuels would be busy returning the yellow taxi to its owner.

Dusk was fast approaching, as Marc took his leave to stroll around and look across Lake Michigan. The mansion fast eclipsing the setting sun behind him as the lake in front fell into shadow, cast by the cliff face that Grant’s property was perched atop.

“Everything OK?”

He looked around and saw Marlene approaching.

“No complaints.” He replied. “It’s just-- none of this makes any sense. And if it does make sense I guess I’m worried about how it does.”

“There is a lot happening very fast. Just think. This time yesterday we were halfway around the world.”

“I woke up yesterday and found out that I’m some kind of ultraviolent mercenary who’s at least partially responsible for the murder of the father of one of the only two people I even know. Do I even have any more friends out there? What kind of person would even call Marc Spector ‘friend’?”

“It’s cold.”

“What?”

“Well, Canada’s just on the other side. Even though it’s summer, the lake looks cold. Samuels told me there’s a heated indoor pool in the mansion. Come on.” She started to walk back.

“I didn’t pack any swimwear. Came straight from the desert with carry on.”

She turned back and smiled flirtatiously. “I know. Me neither.” Before continuing to walk back to the mansion in a fashion that accentuated her curves.

Marc gave Lake Michigan one more cursory glance before heading back to find this pool he’d heard such good things about....

🌑 🌒 🌓 🌔 🌕 🌖 🌗 🌘 🌑


Jack Russell ran hard whilst his chest and legs burnt. The sun was falling fast and he needed the security of wide open isolated spaces. He could feel phantom whiskers grow across his face, which was often just a result of the anxiety and fear of the transformation.

It’s ok. Keep calm, Jack. Lincoln Park is just 2 blocks further.

His arms and legs started to burn from the extremities and he gasped as he realized it wasn’t from the running. Thick fur was coming through in patches. It still wasn’t growing back on his ankle due to the scar tissue from when he clawed off the GPS device.

Nearly there…

His gait widened and he almost bounced across the intersection as extra strength surged into his legs.

He looked up and saw the sign. Lincoln Park. But he was still on the streets? Then the horrifying realization hit him as transformation progressed further.

The signs he’d been following were for the district Lincoln Park, and not the park itself.

“Oh NOOOOOO!”
He screamed. Fur burst through his chest. His skeletal system changed as he was once more raised to his haunches. Bones cracked into place as sinew twisted.



“--OOOOOOOOOOOOW! OW! OW! OWWWWWWWWWWWWW!”




He heard more screams, this time they weren’t his own. The last thing he remembered was seeing people’s faces contorted in horror as they tried to flee before the blackness crept in and he regressed deep into the darkness of one of the corners within the beast’s mind.

🌑 🌒 🌓 🌔 🌕 🌖 🌗 🌘 🌑
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Hidden 6 yrs ago Post by Sep
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Sep Migs Mayfield - Core

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T H E F L A S H


Revelations:

NOT FAST ENOUGH





The Present


"You good?"

Iris looked up at the phone to Spider-Woman, offered her a rather fake smile. “Yeah, I’m uh-” She cleared her throat. “-I’m good. I’ve got a friend working on something so me and Superman can call each other discreetly I’ll uh-” She couldn’t focus. Barry needed her, it was an emergency. “-I gotta go.” Turning she vanished in a rush of air and a blur, where she was standing seconds ago there fell a piece of paper out of a notepad with a cellphone number scribbled down and the words ‘Call me if you ever need help’

From her reckoning it would usually take her approximately 12 seconds to get from New York City to Central. It took her 7, the wind gushing against her face at speeds that would have reduced a normal person's face to nothing but muscle and bone, if that. She slowed as she entered the city, her trail decreasing in size as she approached her building. Typically she didn’t run into the building for fear of being discovered, today however she ran straight into her apartment in the hopes that she wouldn’t be seen, or at the least that they wouldn’t see what apartment she went into.

Upon entering the door she froze. Barry stood there, her heart swelled with a mix of various confusing and conflicting feelings. It hadn't been too long since they had seen eachother, but the more she thought about the entire situation the more she wanted what they had to become something more. She had maybe told him a couple of days ago that she didn't want to see him again, but before she could really control herself her arms were around him, and her lips on his. Then as she realised she pulled herself away from him, a stunned look on both their faces. “I- you’re- whats-”

Barry raised his hand. “There’s no time for that.” His voice cracked a little and suddenly she felt like that Flint Marko felt as he drained away. He held up his phone and her eyes adjusted to read the text on the screen. Rolling her eyes it was from that stupid vigilante.net that everyone seemed to use. Really it tended to be a bunch of psychos calling eachother out and arranging little get togethers, she had been monitoring it for any mention of Central City so she could shut any potential Punishers down before they started a mass murder campaign. She didn’t hold much stock in it though.

On the screen though was a strange post, that appeared to have amassed quite a following.

“Flash, man in yellow has Flash. He says to meet him in the place where it all began.”

Barry lowered the phone as Iris nodded. “He’s got this ‘Jay Garrick’ and-”

Iris nodded. “-He’s at your old house.”

Barry sighed. “I know you need to go face him, but at the same time. I don’t w-”

She placed a finger on his lips to shush him, standing close to him. “I know, but I need to do this. For your mother, for you, your father and anyone else that he’s hurt through the years. It’s my job.”

“You’re a reporter. Not a policeman-” Iris chuckled.

“That can run so fast she punched the Silver right off the Silver Surfer. I need to do this Barry.” He grunted, giving in to her. He knew she was right, she couldn’t just back down. He turned around and moved over to a briefcase that she hadn’t noticed before in the room. He flicked it open and her breath was taken away.

“If you’re going to go after him. You should probably look the part.”

"Barry I don't know what to say."

"You could say thanks."




Iris performed a customary scan around the house, there was no-one around. No sign that Henry was here, the car was gone. Just as well, he didn't have to be witness to this. Barry agreed to wait outside, she wasn't entirely sure how she had convinced him to wait there, but she had. She could see by the look on his face that it tore him up inside, knowing that the man who killed his mother was so close, and not only that he was in Barrys childhood house. She entered the door slowly, ensuring that she closed it behind her before walking into the house. Jay lay on the floor, unconcious. Right where they had found Barrys mother all those years ago, that wasn't a mistake.

There was a rush of air as Reverse Flash entered the room, he wasn't facing her. A sign of his confidence, or arrogance over his advantage against her. He was in for a shock, she was faster than she had ever been and recently had only been pushing herself faster still. It may have been just over a month since their last encounter but she had learnt a lot in that period of time. "So I see you got my message, good." He turned to face her, his face a blur as he vibrated his body so she couldn't see the face below the mask.

There was a low growl as he looked upon her, and he charged. Grabbing her by the chest, he pushed her off her feet. "HOW DARE YOU WEAR THAT EMBLEM?!"



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Hidden 6 yrs ago 6 yrs ago Post by Lord Wraith
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Lord Wraith Actually Three Otters in a Trenchcoat

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N O R T H U M B R I A:

T Y R ‘ S D A Y, S E C O N D W E E K O F T V Í M Á N A Ð U R, 8 7 2 | F I E L D S O F B A T T L E

Smoke rose on the horizon as the smell of the signal fires wafted through the air, washing over the two armies as blade clashed against blade. The Saxons had called for help, but no one was left to aid them as they struggled to keep the advancing Norse army at bay.

Maintaining a wedge-shaped formation, the Norsemen rushed their enemy, a hail of spears clearing the way for the charging berserkers. The fiercest of these was Úrndallr the Maul, who led the charge towards the Saxons. Built like a bear, his strict face made more than one enemy think twice before attacking him as he came towards them. A savage smile was plastered across his scarred face as he carved his way across the bloodied battlefield. With an axe in one hand and his sword in the other, Maul cut down each Saxons he fell upon, relishing in their deaths with a fierce roar as their blood stained his blades.

Respected among the clans and undefeated on the battlefield, Úrndallr was far more experienced in the art of war than his clansman. He could have even been mistaken for Tyr himself with the way Maul carried himself on the battlefield. The truest example of a raging berserker, once he gave himself to the battle, there was nothing that could slow the Maul. Every warrior who had fought alongside the beast of a man could testify that they had seen Úrndallr walk off wounds that would have ended the life of any other mortal man. Yet, the Maul rose again to continue fighting, completely unphased.

As the battle continued to wage below, the sky above began to change. The clouds overhead darkened as thunder echoed through the grassy rolling hills of Anglia. Looking towards the changing sky, Maul released a triumphant yell as the Norseman behind him began to chant in synchronous union, their chanting increasing in volume as the thunder grew closer. Rain began to pour down in sheets, turning the battlefield to a muddy mess as lightning rapidly struck the ground. Each subsequent strike targeting an enemy Saxon, the pain-laden screams of the thunderbolts’ victims drowned beneath the steady noise of the heavy downpour.

Word had reached Maul’s ears that the Saxons had taken to calling the Norsemen’s united forces the Great Heathen Army. Humor and disgust swelled in his chest as Úrndallr could only scoff at the ignorant name. For the Saxons to refer to the Norsemen as heathens meant that they failed the first tenant of the art of war; they did not understand neither their enemy nor more importantly, their gods.

When Úrndallr had come across the Norsemen, they were godless men, lacking in, faith, idols or purpose. But in his travels, Maul had befriended Thor, introducing the Northern clans to deific figure and kin. Unifying the clans with the words of Odin and mission of Tyr, Maul marched his united army against the Saxons to take what he had decreed to be theirs.

Unlike the Northern Army, the Saxons’ did not have gods who fought alongside them. Their pitiful gods were intangible and any religion they possessed was built purely on faith with no reward. But the great clans of the North had seen Thor fight amongst them, Úrndallr knew they would rally behind the mighty God of Thunder. The clans above all else respected strength and he had given them the mightiest of warriors to fight alongside them. Even now the armies of the North looked to Thor to lead the final charge despite the tide of battle being heavily tilted in their favour. Maul could not help but allow himself some sense of arrogance as smiled shouting reinforcements of their faith as he yelled above the din of battle.

“The Thunderer comes! Rejoice! Rejoice for this day is surely ours!”

Extending his arms to the sky, Maul let loose a primal roar turning his eyes upwards as bright bursts of lights began to dance across the sky. The brilliant hues of red, blue and green all gathered into a funnel of light as it plummeted towards the ground. From within the blinding bridge, came an axe as it was hurled through the air, cleaving through Saxon after Saxon. The bloodshed filled Úrndallr with childlike exuberance as the light dissipated to reveal a tall, well-built man with long, loosely braided auburn hair that swayed wildly in the wind resembling a raging fire. Standing atop the exposed soil freshly branded with a embossed rune, the God of Thunder raised an outstretched hand as the axe returned to him, electricity crackling along the entirety of his body.

“Thor!”

“Thor!”

“Thor!”


Cheers erupted from the Northern army as Thor began to run forward, lightning exploding from his body as the wind carried him skywards above the heads of their enemies. Lightning gathered to the head of the axe as Thor raised it above his head before hurling it towards the ground, the earth quaking from the impact.

“Til Valhalla!”

Landing beside the axe, Thor wrapped a hand around the leather wrapped hilt as he swung the double-headed axe around sending the nearest Saxons into the sky. With each subsequent arc of his axe, he drove the Saxon army back, thinning their numbers while gaining ground for his worshippers. Seeing their advantage, the Norsemen doubled their charge, overtaking the fleeing Saxons, ensuring not a single one escaped.

Shouldering his axe as the last of the Saxons were cut down, Thor walked towards Úrndallr greeting the mortal man with an extended hand as he grasped the other man’s wrist while Úrndallr did the same to Thor. Nodding his salutation, Thor exhaled upwards to blow a few wet strands of hair out of his face before addressing the other man.

“Another victory for your clans, another step closer to reclaiming your homeland.” He stated as Maul smiled in response.

“Your help in this campaign has been an immeasurable asset.” Úrndallr replied. “We now sit on the cusp of our victory.”

Turning towards the horizon with Thor, Maul guided the Asgardians gaze towards the castle town in the distance as it sat overlooking the coast. His armies had no way to assault the fortified city from the sea and instead had been forced to fight on the Saxons’ terms. This had been their downfall as they sent their army out to meet them, only to fall to the Norse blades. Using the vast swampland that covered the low coastline, the clans had hidden their numbers, leading the initial charge into an ambush.

“They have sent every standing army they possess against us, and all have fallen to your might, my Lord.” Maul stated. “All that remains between us and our home are men who have never held a sword who were left to guard those walls.”

Surveying the battlefield as the dead were gathered into a pile, Maul apologetically took his leave from Thor before approaching the clansmen who were steadily piling the bodies of the Saxons together. Looting their remains for anything of worth before tossing them on top of one another, the base of the pile lined with their numerous broken shields. Addressing the men before him, Maul began to speak raising one hand towards the sky as he slowly stretched the other towards the growing pyre.

"Thus Odin established by law that all dead men should be burned, and the ashes be cast into the sea or buried in the earth.” Maul preached, spreading his arms wide as he gestured towards the pyre. Men on either side of the pile of bodies began to light torches, approaching the pyre while hanging on to Maul’s every word as he continued to impart the words of Odin onto the clansmen.

“For all warriors who had been distinguished for manhood a standing stone; but for all those who stand against Odin’s chosen, their ashes shall be scattered by the wind and forgotten. Leave no trace of them, for they sought to rob you of your honor!"

The flames ignited the bodies as Thor stood by watching as the warriors began to drink and dance around the burning pyre while they sang praises to him, Odin and Tyr. As he watched, a smugness came over Thor, warming him and taking his mind away from the words that Maul had spoken. Taking a seat, Thor raised his eyes to see Maul approaching him with a drink in hand, as he extended it towards the God of Thunder while another was pressed to his own lips.

“Drink my friend, tonight we celebrate you and our victory!”Maul smacked his lips, taking another long drink before turning to Thor again. “Tomorrow at nightfall we advance on their last holding. Would you be able to provide a thick cover of fog so that our armies may descend unseen upon them?”

“It would be my honor.”

With a clink of their tankards, the two men polished off their drinks as another flask was produced by a nearby soldier. Refilling their glasses, the two men joined in the celebrating as the fire burned brightly fighting off the falling night. Watching Thor revel with the men from nearby dying tree, a lone raven lowered its head shamefully before calling out three times into the coming twilight, its wings suddenly flapping as it left its perch behind, taking off into the darkness.

W A S H I N G T O N, D . C .:

T U E S D A Y, J U L Y 3 1S T, 2 0 1 8 - 0 8 : 4 3 a m | T H E T R I S K E L I O N

Flying over the Potomac River on an approach vector to the S.H.I.E.L.D. Triskelion, the Theseus began to implement docking procedures as Thor looked up from his breakfast. The sudden decrease in speed and change in direction had alerted the Asgardian to their proximity to their destination as he finished the steak before him with a large final bite before departing the galley to find Agent Perry flanked by his escorting agents.

Passing the various agents who were rushing to their stations, Thor made his way through the halls of the Theseus as his pair of escorts kept him on course towards the bridge. The narrow corridors were lit with amber lights as the helicarrier’s elevation began to descend prompting Thor to pause as he looked out the nearby viewport as the Potomac seemingly engulfed the vessel before Thor realized they had entered a subterranean hangar.

Hydraulics hissed and metal groaned as docking arms were extended towards the hull of the Theseus. The vessel shuddered at it came to rest before Thor continued his venture to the bridge.

“Welcome to Washington, Son of Odin.” Supervisory Special Agent Perry said with a dry smile as Thor entered the bridge. “You’re both relieved, report to Koenig for reassignment.” Perry added as she dismissed Thor’s escorts, motioning for the Prince of Asgard to follow her.

“I have to admit, the Deputy Director would probably knock me down a few pips for bringing you in here, but the fact you agreed to speak to us I think merits an olive branch. S.H.I.E.L.D. tried to make contact with a pair of heroes who assisted during the Central City Incident, they basically flipped us the bird.” Perry told Thor as the pair left the Theseus’s upper deck and entered the Triskelion’s hangar.

The interior of the Triskelion was far larger than Thor had anticipated. Several layers of catwalks lined the hangar leading to numerous models of aircraft, from personal fighters to other helicarriers. The hangar was a bubble of activity with various agents move here and there as they carried out their regimented duties.

Entering an elevator, Perry selected the archives as the elevator began to ascend to the appropriate level. An awkward silence hung in the air as the four chord elevator music played on a loop. The elevator came to a halt as the doors opened to a warehouse filled with rows of sealed boxes organized across various shelves and racks. Entering the room, Perry nodded towards the attending agent as she approached the box that had been prepared for their arrival. Opening the lid, Thor looked inside as he reached towards J­árnbjörn, his hand wrapping around the familiar hilt as he lifted it out of the box, giving the large axe a swing.

“How does it feel?” Perry asked as she watched Thor.

“Wrong.”
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Hidden 6 yrs ago Post by Simple Unicycle
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Simple Unicycle ?

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Evening
The Crossroads Saloon; Warpath, Texas

ISSUE #15
GHOST RIDERS IN THE SKY
PART FIVE


They wouldn't stop coming. I only had a few rounds left, and I picked my shots carefully, letting Greg go after the others. But no matter how hard we fought, it seemed that for every Hunter we killed, two more rose in its place. We had to make sure this place blew and fast. We were down to our last leg. As if sensing my thoughts, I heard Greg call out:

”Frank! End game time, compadre! Meet ‘cha out back!”

Time to go. I nodded to him, breaking out into a sprint to the backdoor of the saloon. I waited for Greg by the door, keeping my pistols at the ready in case any of the Hunters found their way back here. We'd set up the trip wire in the doorway. As soon as it went, we had about ten seconds to get away before the whole place went up in flames. Hopefully, that'd be enough time.

*CRASH!*

The window to my right turned into a cloud of glass, a Hunter bursting through and swinging a hatchet at me. I stumbled backwards but recovered quickly, firing off a few rounds at him as I fell to the ground. He disappeared into a cloud of smoke as I landed on my ass with a thud. Pulling myself up with a grunt, I realized that I had went through the doorway... And pulled the tripwire along the way. "SHIT! GREG! GET OUT!"

I could only pray that he heard me and began to run. I ran away from the saloon, counting to ten in my head all the while. I didn't run into any Hunters as I got a block or so away. They were probably all in the saloon by now. Hopefully, it was only them in there...

*Krak-OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM!*

The saloon exploded in a ball of fire behind me, the force being enough to send me face first into the ground from a block away. I pushed myself up and turned around, staring in awe at the fire. The saloon was nothing but a pile of rubble, and what was left standing of it was burning down fast. That definitely took care of the Hunters.

And as I looked around, I didn't see Greg in sight.

"No... Oh, God, no." I began to sprint back towards the saloon, shouting my partner's name all the while in the hopes that he had somehow made it out in the nick of time. My cries went unanswered, and I fell to my knees. It was just as I had dreaded: Greg Saunders was dead. All I could do was choke out a small sob as the knowledge hit me.

I don't know why I was so affected by the death of a man I had only known for two days. Maybe it was because he had offered camaraderie like I had never felt before. Maybe it was because he was the only other vigilante I had met who didn't want me to rot in jail. Maybe it was because it was my fault that he had met his untimely death.

I hung my head, sitting in front of the remains of the Crossroads Saloon.
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Hidden 6 yrs ago Post by HenryJonesJr
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In the blink of an eye, the Flash is gone, leaving me alone in the museum, the water that was pumping out of the broken fire sprinkler already slowing to a trickle. It's a miracle that Flash was here today, to tell the truth. Without her, I never would have been able to clear the room of the Khandaqi art, and probably would have destroyed it with the water plan. That's all I need. To have the gangs of New York after me as well as creating an international incident by destroying priceless national heirlooms. I'm sure that would go over real well.

A paper floats through the air and I snatch it, revealing the Flash has left me her number. I guess she really was serious about that teaming up thing. Good to know. And did she mention she knew Superman? Oh man I need to get Superman's number. If I move for college he'd come in really helpful.

I swing out of the building as the police head in, finding the incapacitated Maggia troopers webbed to the floor.

"Peter," I call my boyfriend. "We need to talk about what just happened."

"You okay?" he asks.

"Fine," I respond. "But we have a new superhuman on the block. Flint Marko. He can...turn himself into sand? It's weird."

"Marko? Like the mob guy?" he's clearly shocked. "How in the blue hell did that happen?"

"I don't know, but we're going to have to figure out how to take care of him. Because next time I'm not gonna have the Flash backing me up."

"Yea, I can get to work on-WAIT!" he stops mid-sentence, realizing what I just said. "The Flash? As in, the superhero? She was there? What was she like? How does she not burn up at the speeds she goes? How did she design the suit to stand up to the speed as well? There are so many questions I want to ask her."

I should have seen this coming. Of course he would haev way too many questions for the lady that can go insanely fast. Hell, I have questions too. She should teoretically burn up at the speed she moves. But then again I shouldn't be able to climb up walls whenever I want to, yet here we are.

"Peter, I appreciate your passion, but we need to focus," I remind him.

"Right, scary sand man," he corrects himself. "You wanna come over for dinner? Aunt May is at her weekly bridge game tonight."

"Yea, that sounds good to me. I feel like Dad's gonna be real busy tonight anyway."

**********


The Black Tarantula paces angrily in his penthouse. He had paid out of pocket for the opulent home, believing it would be his throne to oversee his new kingdom. Instead, he is now dangerously close to losing everything he has worked for. The Kingpin and the Maggia are a more powerful and agile enemy than he ever could have expected. His advisers in South America had been adamant that the Kinpin had become fat and complacent. They told the Tarantula that he was ripe for the taking, and that if the Silk Cartel could topple him, they would have the run of North America. That would give them the Western Hemisphere, which would put them on the path to dominating the world.

Now, however, everything is different. The Kingpin is pushing back, and they now have their own super-powered enforcer. To make matters even worse, the Enforcers were broken out of prison without the Tarantula knowing, and he now has no idea where they are. They may have been able to level the playing field against Spider-Woman and the one the media is now calling the "Sandman".

But as it stands, there is little hope for him. Meaning it is time to put the situation into his own hands.

"I don't know where he came from," Otto Octasvius, who has been watching the crime boss pace for minutes finally says. "A former colleague of mine was working on some kind of similar project, but we never saw any results like this."

On a screen hanging on a wall in the large living room, security footage of the Sandman's attack on the museum. The Tarantula got it from a guard at the museum who owes the cartel some drug money. It's good to have some people across the city that owe you favors.

Still, the footage doesn't do anything but turn the cartel leader's stomach. The Sandman, Flint Marko, is powerful. Powerful enough to survive an encounter with both Spider-Woman and The Flash. With that kind of fighter on their side, the Maggia stands a strong chance of wiping the Tarantula's mean off the map.

And he couldn't have that.

"I do not care where he came from," the cartel leader rumbles at the scientist. "I want to know what I'm going to do about it."

As much as he doesn't like outside counsel, he has to admit that the scientist has been invaluable since the cartel came to New York. Octavius and his AIM organization have given him sage advice and weapons to fight in the city. But they haven't given him the final victory he desires. His patience with the genius sitting at his table is wearing thing.

"I think you need to get aggressive," Octavius says bluntly. "You're on the defensive, and will continue to be that way until the Maggia pushes you out of the city. It's time to stop playing conservatively. Time for some shock and awe."

"And what would you do, if you were me?"

"Send your men into the city," he stands and walks over to the window and looks out over the city. "Hit all the Maggia's positions that we know about. Take them off guard. They'll be over confident. Probably drinking to the new super powered solider on the field. They'll be fish in a barrel. And may I remind you, I gave you a leg up yourself. You have a few doses left, correct?"

"Yes," Tarantula nods. "And maybe it's time I take Spider-Woman out as well."

"Sounds like a solid plan."

**********


"So he's literally...made of sand?" Peter looks at me over a Chinese takeout box, chop sticks waving around like he's conducting the conversation. "Like, sand."

"Yea," I nod after swallowing a big bite of crab rangoon. "Like the annoying stuff that gets in your swimsuit when you're at the beach. But like a tidal wave of it. You remember that scene in The Mummy? It was like that."

"Ironic considering the-"

"If you were about to make a museum joke, please don't."

"Fair," he shrugs. "Okay, so maybe I'll work on some more webbing bombs. You said water affected his compositional cohesion. Maybe if we embed some of the webbing inside him it'll disrupt him even more. Either that or we get you a Super Soaker."

"Yea, I can see it now: 'Hold on Marko, I have to pump up my gun. Just a sec.'," I scoff at the suggestion. "Jameson would have a field day with that one."

"Yea, I'll get to work on the bombs," Peter nods. "Without them, I dunno what else we can do. This is nothing to mess around with."

"Yea," I shrug. "Such is the life of a superhero."
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Hidden 6 yrs ago Post by Supermaxx
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The Blue Beetle stars in...The Runaway: Issue #11

Previous Issue





Unknown

Brenda didn't know if she was looking at her friend or a monster. She knew for a fact that Jaime Reyes was trapped inside that hideous shell of living armor. She had watched it steal away his body and take him over from the inside out; but he was still in there. Fighting and straining to get free, no doubt. Yet as she looked upon that angry, twisted visage, she felt a tinge of doubt. That thing could not be the sweet kid that had shown her compassion and humanity when few others would. That monster of sickly steel and unrepentant violence was so far removed from the teenage boy that slept through half of his classes and goofed off in the other half that Brenda could not help but deny it.

In her heart of hearts she knew the truth, yet her mind refused to accept what her eyes were being shown.

Jaime- or whatever had taken him over- was suspended twenty feet in the air inside of a gargantuan machine of some sort. The entire room was centered around this pillar-like object covered in stretches of cable and piping. The Beetle was being contained within a glass capsule inserted within this giant pillar of machinery. He was strapped, tied down and all but bolted together to keep him from hurting himself or breaking out of his containment unit.

And there was no doubt that, if free, that thing would be uncontrollable. Even now, with every joint held down by massive iron shackles, the little demon was thrashing and frantically throwing itself about. He was like...like a lunatic in a straight jacket. Or an animal in chains. It awoke a primal, terrible fear within her chest to see someone she cared about in such unrelenting agony.

"You're studying him, right?" Paco's voice break Brenda out of her trance. She turned away from the viewing window, her gaze tracing over her giant of a best friend. He had his arms crossed over his barrel chest, his eyes straightened into tight lines as he took in everything he was seeing. She could tell that something was going on within that brain of his; was he trying to decipher their captor's intentions? She hoped so. Every moment they spent in this hellhole made her more and more uneasy.

The old man in the wheelchair gave a slow, stiff nod that threatened to snap his pencil neck. "That's correct. That creature that's bonded itself to your friend..." Doctor Caulder pursed his chapped, cracked lips, his gaze wandering away from Paco and over to the monster in it's cage. "It's very, very dangerous."

Brenda's jaw tightened. "I could'a told you that." She snorted. "Thing's killed over thirty people by now. I think the better question is what you're planning to do with it."

"And why you had your creepy goon kidnap us." Paco added quickly with an angry huff.

Caulder raised a wrinkled hand. "Alright, alright..." He shook his head, letting out a laugh that could make a baby cry. "Kids these days. Always diving in head first." Leaning further back into his wheelchair, he let his hands fall down to his lap as he began to answer their questions with a deliberate cadence. "I want to help your friend. That's God's honest truth. And I think I can do it."

With a quick wave he gestured toward their surroundings. There wasn't a single piece of tech in the room that didn't look like it hadn't come straight from the year three thousand. "As you can see I am a man of...significant resources. I've been studying things like that creature since I was just a young man. I don't think it'd be braggadocious to say I'm the world's leading expert on them."

"And what are they? You said you had a name for things like that?" Paco interrupted.

"Patience! Patience! I'm getting to that, boy. I believe the closest word to explain what they are that you would understand would be...extraterrestrial. These, ah, parasites? They come from space."

Paco looked like someone had just punched him straight in the stomach and told him that he was adopted all in the same moment. "It's...an alien?"

"Yes! Well, in a fashion. Subject Blue has been on earth far longer than any other living thing. I believe it may even pre-date the Bialyan object it was posing as, though our dating methods have all proven too unreliable thus far to know for certain."

Brenda didn't much care where the hell it came from. She just wanted to get it off of Jaime without hurting him so they could all go home. "So do you have a way to get it off of Jaime or not?" She jumped in, her voice sharp and lacking even a degree of patience. She was done with this craziness. She'd just been dropped through a hole in reality thirty minutes ago. One of her friends was being held captive by some kind of alien parasite. Brenda had had enough of all of it, so she was rather ready to get to the point.

"He does," Paco muttered, a hand moving up to clutch his chin as his eyes fell down to his shoes. The sudden courage that had overtaken him seemingly melted away as he sheepishly finished his thought, "and he needs us to do it."

"Your friend is brighter than he looks." Dr. Caulder grinned up at Brenda, and she felt a horrific tingle crawl up her spine. "I do have a plan. And if you truly wish to see Mr. Reyes again, I suggest you help me pursue it."

***

Brenda and Paco stood alone in a dark room, silence hanging between them. They had yelled at one another until their throats went raw for over ten minutes after they learned what Caulder's 'plan' entailed. Brenda was willing to do anything to get Jaime back, but Paco...She could understand why he would be hesitant to do it. What their kidnapper was suggesting was absolute insanity, and it was horrifically, terribly dangerous for the two of them. Yet it was also the only surefire way to get their friend back. Paco thought they should find a way to escape so that they could call SHIELD- the guys that made the CIA look like a church support group.

She wasn't going to abandon Jaime. Leaving him behind with that freak of an old man wasn't an option as far as she was concerned. And letting him stay trapped inside that alien monster wasn't going to fly either. Even if it meant siding with the people and monsters that had dragged her out of her car and nearly killed her.

There were several racks of identical environment suits hanging up in lockers along each of the small room's walls. Benches sat not far from those. The suits themselves were all fairly light, save for the heavier square helmets. Their off-color cream material reminded Brenda of an astronaut's gear, in a way. She was able to pull it all on over her normal clothes without too much difficulty, surprised by how it shrunk down to match her size once everything was in place.

Paco was having a fair bit more trouble. He wasn't able to reach the zipper-like sealing line on his back. For all of his turning, huffing and reaching, the boy was just too large for his own good.

Sighing to herself, she crossed over to him and placed a gentle hand on his shoulder. "Here." She offered, reaching back to help him.

She was surprised when he recoiled away from her. "Don't." He nearly growled, trying to restraint his anger at her through his gritted teeth. She had trouble seeing him face through their helmets, but Brenda didn't need to see to know how he was feeling. Paco was good at a great many things. Hiding how he felt wasn't one of them.

"Oh, come on." She sighed, crossing her arms over her chest. "You can't still be mad at me."

"I can and I am." He quickly responded. "This is stupid and you know it! We shouldn't be here-"

"Well no shit, Paco, but we're here. And Jaime is out there-" She gestured toward the door. "-And I'm not...I'm not leaving him behind again."

"This...this is a fundamentally bad idea. Jaime would not agree to let us do this." Despite the words he was speaking with such vigor and passion, Paco was still trying to zip up the environment suit. He was still getting ready to go in there. "If it doesn't work, we're dead. And God forbid that it does work-"

"PACO!" Brenda all but screamed his name. Her anger caused him to freeze up, turning his full attention toward her. She felt a wave of shame wash over her, her voice dropping to more acceptable levels immediately afterward. "Paco...We can...We can figure that out afterwards, okay? Just- we have to do this. It's the only chance we've got at saving him. Please."

Paco shook his head, his hands falling down to his sides. "I hope you're right."

'Me too, Pac.'

'Me too.'
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Hidden 6 yrs ago Post by Retired
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Retired "Hayao Miyazaki"

Member Seen 28 days ago

B L U E D E V I L


5:01 p.m. PST | July 22nd | Los Angeles, California

Time seemed to move at a crawl for the young Mary Cassidy. For quite possibly the hundredth time in as many minutes she glanced at the clock adorning the kitchen wall. The minute hand had barely moved since the last time she checked and another long sigh escaped her lips. Mary loved her older brother, she thought the world of Daniel, but even she had her limits before disappointment took over.

The first hour he was late she thought nothing of it. She may be a few years short of being able to drive herself, but she was well aware of what traffic could be like in the Los Angeles area. The second hour she thought maybe something had come up, or perhaps she had misremembered the time they made plans for. By the time the third hour came around and he was still out, she had tried to call him. Twice. Both times it went straight to voicemail. Now, with the afternoon gone and Daniel nearly four hours late, she was stuck between feeling dejected that he had abandoned their day together and worried that perhaps something was wrong.

Shuffling over to the living room, the pre-teen found her mother on the sofa watching the evening news and joined her. Veronica Cassidy immediately noticed the mood Mary practically exuded and ushered her daughter into a comforting hug.

"What's wrong, baby?" Asked Veronica.

"Danny said he'd spend the afternoon playing games with me and hanging out, but he's still not here."

"You know how he is, I'm sure he was at some arcade or something and lost track of time. Did you try to call him?"

Mary nodded, "of course, but he wouldn't answer. And it's been hours." She looked up into her mother's face, the bright blue eyes glistening slightly. "You don't think he got into an accident, do you?"

"Oh, honey, no, I'm sure Daniel's fine." Veronica offered her daughter a sympathetic smile. "I'll tell you what, let me finish the news and then I'll make dinner and you and I can play some games. How's that?"

The look on the young girl's face gave away that she wasn't happy with this consolation prize, but nevertheless, she agreed. "Okay, mom."

Both turned their eyes to the screen that took up half the length of the wall, the younger nestled against the elder's shoulder. Two figures sat at a desk discussing the various local headlines of today, the ticker at the bottom scrolling by with lesser stories. One of the anchors, a handsome, middle-aged man began addressing a recent event not far from the Cassidy home.

"In what authorities are calling a 'suspicious' house fire, we have potentially another of these superhuman sightings." A video graphic popped up beside the anchor's head, shaky cellphone footage having captured a blazing two-story house. Thick smoke obscured details, but it was clear the flames had almost entirely consumed the structure. A blonde woman could be seen off to the side, surrounded by several men holding her back, desperately trying to scramble her way to the house. Though the video was muted as the newscaster spoke, the woman's panicked screams were obvious.

"The fire was first noticed just before one this afternoon by neighbors. The homeowner had stepped away on errands, however, her two daughters were home at the time." The footage switched to an aerial view which only seemed to make the blaze look fiercer.

"How awful," Veronica said softly, clutching Mary just a little tighter. "That poor woman, what she must have been feeling..."

"Both girls were seemingly trapped in the house, unable to make their way to safety, and rescue crews were believed to have been too far out to arrive in time. Then, something extraordinary happened. This footage," the graphic switched again, this time going fullscreen as it showed the same aerial view, though several minutes later. "was captured by our own news helicopter, and reveals an individual running into the burning building."

The raging fire remained the focus of the video for several more seconds before a blurry figure partially obscured from this angle by the billowing smoke rushed into view. The host continued to describe the scene and provide details for the audience, but Mary's attention was entirely enthralled by the drama unfolding on the screen. Moments passed as the news chopper circled around the engulfed building. Then, from a second-floor window on the side, a large object came launching through and crashed onto the lawn below. The camera panned low to catch what appeared to be a charred dresser burst open on impact, colorful clothing spilling forth. The view jerked back up towards the hole in the wall, but the new opening had given the smoke formerly contained within a new escape, and it left the house too obscured from this angle to see what had sent the furniture flying.

The news anchor's commentary had ended and now the video switched to a different perspective. The vertically filmed footage, angle, and watermarked Twitter handle made clear this was another recording from a bystander. This time, however, the audio was playing. Beginning just moments before, the amateur videographer panned from the front of the house to the crowd gathered, stopping to focus on a woman in tears. The mother, just as before, in a state of wailing despair as she struggled against the arms preventing her from running into the blaze herself.

Then, glass shattering as the footage wildly spun around trying to capture the source; the same crashing dresser erupting from the house. A collective gasp and several screams from the crowd merged with censored expletives as the person holding the phone took off down the street, trying to find a better angle on the scene. Seconds after halting and refocusing on the opening, the video caught a shape through the smoke. A figure stepped up to the shattered window and the cameraman let loose a curse as details were revealed.

A blue, humanoid face peaked through the smoke and glanced down at the yard below. Large, thick horns emerged from the bald forehead and curled back. Even through the smoking inferno, the glowing red eyes were clear. Those same eyes flicked up to stare at the one holding the phone, then back towards the crowd. Fearful screams and confused shouts could be heard, and the phone nearly dropped as the owner turned and ran. Only seconds later the footage turned back as the fleeing bystander took refuge behind a car, but the demonic looking figure had disappeared. There was brief chatter as everyone tried to make sense of what they had seen, the film showing that some had the sense to turn and run. The mother's screams could no longer be heard.

Then, again from the broken wall, something burst forth with incredible speed. It lurched forward and over the lawn and as soon as it cleared the pillar of smoke rising from the flames the now all-too-clear visage of that mysterious figure could be seen. In the open light, the devilish features were even more evident, and the mother's cries renewed, piercing through the chaos.

"My babies!" The woman could be heard shouting.

From within the grasp of the creature were two girls, not much older than Mary, it seemed. Their faces and hair marred by soot and tears, and painful, severe coughs overtaking them.

No one made a move towards the figure, but the mother could still be heard pleading for her children. From the distance, sirens began to signal the arrival of emergency responders. Everyone else was silent, though, either from fear, shock, or uncertainty.

The tense moment was broken, however, as the tall, monstrous being knelt down and slowly lowered the girls to their feet. Then, before anyone could react, it stood up and with surprising speed sprinted in the opposite direction. The mother could be seen entering from out of frame in a dash to wrap both her daughters up in a hug before the video abruptly ended.

"It's unknown what or who this was," the host began again, "and police have yet to make a statement on whether or not this individual is a person of interest in the fire. What is clear, however, is that this is yet another sign of changing times as superpowered beings are on the rise. We'll keep you updated on—"

Veronica turned the television off and reached for her phone. With such an event having occurred so close by and around the time Daniel should have been arriving, she found herself now sharing her daughter's concern for his safety.

As Mary watched her mother dialing, a single thought prevailed in her mind:

Where are you, Danny?
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Hidden 6 yrs ago Post by Byrd Man
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Byrd Man El Hombre Pájaro

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Interlude Pt. 3


Hollywood
1977


The sounds of laughter drew Peal Jones away from the study window. She heard a gaggle of footsteps approaching from the hallway. More laughter and giggles as the door to the study was opened. Six people, three men and three women, filtered into the room and started to look around. They were young and had long hair. Even the men had hair down to their shoulders and wore colorful shirts and pants. What year was it? How had America changed so rapidly in just the short time she’d been in the study?

“I found it,” one of the women said. Pearl noticed she had a thick book in her hands that was open to a particular page. She looked down at it and began to read.

“‘It was in the study that poor Preggars Pearl turned her gun on Eddie Mueller. The maniacal mother to be demanded cash for her and her soon to be birthed babe. Thirty thousand dollars for Eddie Mueller’s life.’”

Everyone laughed and giggled. Pearl stared to shake her head and yell.

“That’s not true! That’s not what happened! The son of a bitch raped me!”

“Shut up,” the woman with the book said to her friends, oblivious to Pearl's shouts. “There’s more--”

“Who writes this shit?” One of the other women asked.

“You never met Jake Stowe?” one of the men asked her. “My dearr, you just haven’t lived until you've met that slimeball.”

“There’s more here, so let me finish. ‘Tight-fisted Eddie wouldn’t come off the scratch, so Pugnacious Pearl popped shots aplenty and expired Eddie’s existence. After stepping over the body of the blown away butler in the foyer, Pensive Pearl took a happy hike up the hill to the Hollywoodland sign. From atop the sign's first O, Perilous Pearl whispered sweet nothings to her unborn child and blew her brains out. Her body fell right at the foot of the Hollywoodland sign and spattered blood across it. Thus ended the story of Promiscuous Pearl: a failed film star and a repugnant roundheel that tried to extort a man with power. When she couldn’t get what she wanted, Passionate Pearl took up the gun and killed four people, herself and her baby two of them, all in the name of greed and desperation. Hollywood, ain’t it a bitch?”

The small group broke out into fits of laughter at the story. Pearl had retreated to the far corner of the study during the telling and looked out the window while they laughed. She couldn’t believe that she was in this horrible little book, her story not even anywhere close to being accurate. It cast her as some sort of cheap whore who only wanted money. She tried to do the right thing, tried to go to the cops. Killing Mueller had been done in a fit of rage, but it was never about money.

The men and women took turns reenacting the murder of Eddie Mueller. One of the girls had stuck a throw pillow under her shirt to look pregnant. Pearl began to cry as they continued to relieve the worst moment of her live over and over, their laughter ringing in Pearl’s ears.

“STOP!”

The laughter and partying stopped at an instant. Their eyes darted across the room in search of the cause of the voice they heard.

“What the fuck was that?”

“C’mon, Brent, let’s get out of here.”

They hurried out of the study as quick as possible. Pearl sat in the corner and wiped tears from her eyes. Was that what she was remembered for? Being a crazy, gold digging tramp? Eddie Mueller was just a footnote in her story, a victim of Preggers Pearl. Hadn’t she been a victim when he held her down in this fucking room? But that was her legacy now, wasn't it? A homicidal harpy. Pearl laughed through the tears. She could come up with a turn of phrase just as good as Jake Stowe, whoever he was.

---

2018

Pearl tried to block out the moaning, but she couldn’t. She was curled up in her corner of the study, fingers stuck in her ears. Try as she might, the thumps and crying from the next room persisted. A low, ruthless chuckle came through the walls. The man who owned the house was bad. He had not had the mansion long, but in that time he had caused his fair share of damage. Pearl never thought she would think this, but Mark Preston was worse than Eddie Mueller. Pearl heard all the horrible things being done to young women in search of work in the pictures. She had screamed and tried to intervene. She tried to channel all her rage into being heard like she had that night all those years ago.

But it was useless. She was powerless to stop him. Whatever it was that kept her soul from going to hell, it bound her to this room. She could hear all the horrible things Preston did, but he never did them in the study. Preston came into the room to conduct business from time to time, but every time she tried to scare him it had been pointless. He couldn’t hear or see her no matter how hard she tried.

She heard the sound of shouting from the room next door. Heavy footsteps followed. The door to the study burst open and a woman wearing a tattered negligee came rushing through the door. Mark Preston came right behind her, shirtless and with a leather riding crop in his hands. He beamed at the woman as she tried to hide behind his desk.

“Very good,” he said, shifting the crop from one hand to the other. “You can play terrified. But… can you play sad?”

Those words echoed through Pearl’s head. She was suddenly back in 1931, with the fat little hairless man’s hands around her neck and his hot breath against her ear as he defiled and debased her. Her rage began to build as she remembered his smooth, soft little hands roaming over every inch of her body while she cried and begged him to stop.

“NO YOU DON’T!”

Preston’s eyes went wide in surprise. He started to look around confused as books flew off the shelf and rained down on top of him. Pearl took a deep breath and stood. She wasn’t sure this would work, but the crazy idea in her head had to be attempted. She jumped towards the woman cowering behind the desk and suddenly… she was her. She was inside her and in control.

“Get your jollies by torturing poor, helpless girls, buster?”

The voice she spoke with was the woman’s, but the words carried her voice as an echo. She was now on her feet and quickly covering the distance between her and a bewildered Preston.

“You think this is what it means to be a man?” She asked with her hand raised.

She slapped Preston hard, the woman’s nails raking across the his face and drawing blood. He snapped back to reality and his confusion quickly turned to rage. The riding crop whistled through the air, but Pearl caught it with the palm of her bare hand. Preston tried to jerk it away, but Pearl kept a firm grip on it.

“What the fuck are you?”

“Your best friend, Pearl,” she said with twisted grin. “Think of me as you guardian angel, pal. And I’ve been watching you, Marky. And I don’t like what I've seen.”

She jerked the crop easily from his hand and tossed it away. Pearl stepped out of the girl’s body. She collapsed to the floor unconscious, but Pearl’s spirit stayed upright. And Preston could see it. He screamed in fright at the sight of her.

“One question, Marky?” She asked over the sounds of Preston’s terror. “Can you play terrified?”

---

Now

Rembrandt leaned back in his chair and sighed. The silence between the two of them lingered until he finally spoke.

“Did he do it by his own hand, or did you jump into his body and make him hang himself?”

“Does it matter?” asked Pearl. “What bit of difference does it make?”

“I want to know.”

Another long silence from Pearl. She continued to gaze out the window and the reporters gathered behind the police barricade.

“The world had just figured out what kind of man Preston was,” Rembrandt said after a nod towards the window. “The DA’s office was preparing to file charges on him. The system would have gotten justice for his victim’s.”

“I saved a young girl from being raped. Besides, maybe I didn’t care about your justice,” Pearl said as she turned away from the window. “Maybe I care about my justice.”

“What you did wasn’t justice,” said Charlie. “And neither was what you did in the 30’s, Pearl.”

“I took out two men who hurt countless women.”

“And you killed yourself, an innocent bystander, and your own unborn child.”

“We’re all guilty of something detective,” she said with just a hint of emotion in her voice. “As far as the kid goes… it was a mercy killing.”

Charlie stood from the chair and gave the study one last look. Pearl had stepped away from the window and smiled at Rembrandt as she held her wrists out.

“Arrest me, detective. Take me to ghost jail.”

“You’re stuck in this room forever,” Rembrandt said as he started for the door. “That’s justice enough.”

“That’s not justice, detective!” she cried.

“No,” Charlie said as he opened the door. He gave Pearl one last look. “But it is your kind of justice.”

He closed the door and quietly walked down the hall, ignoring Pearl’s screams and cries every step of the way.

END
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Hidden 6 yrs ago Post by HenryJonesJr
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HenryJonesJr

Member Seen 1 yr ago

[color=ec008c][/color]


"So you're not gonna say it back, huh?" Mary Jane asks as the two of us walk behind Harry and Peter, making sure there's enough of a distance between us so they can't hear what we're talking about. The four of us are on a double date, leaving a movie. Thankfully, this time there's no horrendous explosion causing me to run of and change into tights. "I gotta say it's not the move I would have made, but hey, you do you. You're still together so clearly he's cool with it."

I smile nervously at her, "Yea, he seems totally fine about it. Meaning he totally isn't fine with it. But he's doing a really, really good job of hiding that fact. And I've already crushed him hard enough. I feel like if I bring it up or push he's gonna go crazy and all this is really going to blow up. I don't want that to happen, you know? But I also don't know how long we can go on go on like this. It's gonna come to ahead eventually. I dunno."

"There are an awful lot of thoughts flowing through that pretty blond head of yours," MJ's eyebrows raise as I motor on. "I know you're smart and all, but not even Peter's brain can work as quick as yours is right now."

"Not funny, MJ," I shoot back. "This is serious. Well, as serious as teenage relationships can be."

"Don't trivialize," she sticks her tongue out at me. "You could get hit by a bus tomorrow and it could be your last relationship."

"Yea, I don't think that'll happen," I scrunch my nose up and shake my head. "I dunno. Lately I've been thinking it'd be better if I broke it off now. Before anything bad really went down between the two of us. It might save our friendship."

She considers what I'm saying, a look of mild shock painted across her face. I know she wants the two of us to work out. I know she just wants us to be happy. Unfortunately MJ often has problems seeing beyond the fact that those two things could be diametrically opposed. Maybe Peter and I aren't meant to be together. Especially considering what Johnny has told me.

"Listen, I can't tell you what to do," she shrugs after a few moments. "But if you think that's really for the best, maybe it's not the worst idea in the world. I like the four of us as friends. I definitely don't want to lose that."

Wow, a level-headed, mature, unselfish response from Mary Jane Watson. Maybe I should be worried about tonight. This is like finding a five leaf clover. Just jumping right over four. That's how amazing it is.

"Yea," I shake my head, still unsure. "I dunno. I have to think about it. Let's catch up to the guys."

When we come up behind them, Harry is explaining something new at Oscorp to Peter, "I think you need to get on the robotics project, Pete. Dad says it's definitely going to save the company. Stark, Luthor, and Wayne are circling them for a takeover. At least that what I've been able to assume from how Dad's been talking. I don't know. But the robots! He says they're crazy smart. They're finally gonna put him where he deserves to be."

Harry has always been proud of his father, as he should be. Norman is a great man, but he's always lived in the shadows of others. The Luthors, Waynes, and Starks of the world have just always been more famous and successful. I can't imagine being a person of Norman's intellect and always seeing others talked about ahead of you. It must be infuriating.

Harry wears his emotions on his shoulder. He always has. So it's easier to see how that affects him. Harry is often bitter about his father's diminished status in the media and scientific community. It may just be his young age, but Harry is desperate for his father to be where he thinks he deserves to be.

If companies really are looking at Oscorp for a takeover, it doesn't bode well for Harry's inferiority complex. If Oscorp gets bought out, he's going to be completely devastated.

"I think I'll stick with the healing project," Peter throws his arm around his friend. "I'd love to be able to find a cure for cancer or something."

Ugh. Why not stick a knife right in my heart. Peter's been on that ever since my mom died. It's the sweetest thing in the world. My tragedy gave him direction, almost in the same way that Uncle Ben's death gave me mine. Of course Peter didn't give my mom cancer, so it just makes me even shittier.

Self-loathing is not where I want or need to be right now.

"Okay, enjoy hanging out with the vermin," Harry shrugs back. "But the robots are totally top of the line. They'll be able to build sky scrapers in months, maybe even weeks. Dad even has them learning using cells from the lab. It's crazy."

"I'm definitely going to have to check this out," Peter agrees with him.

"Yea, best to have our supergenius ready for when Harry's dad releases Skynet on us," I chuckle.

"Not. Funny. Gwen," he glares at me.

"Lighten up, Francis," I shoot back, my tongue sticking out at him.

"Yea babe," MJ adds in, "no need to lose it."

"Fine, fine," he rolls his eyes. "But don't be surprised when I tell you I told you so. Oscorp is about to be back in a big way!"

**********


"So that was fun tonight," Peter smiles as we reach my door. Mary Jane and Harry have peeled off already, leaving the two of us to go the rest of the way on our own. "Even if the movie was kinda crappy."

"Seriously," I think back to the cinematic turd we just witnessed. "Very rarely do I root for the giant shark, but come on Jason Statham. You're better than that."

"Is he though?" Peter cocks his head to the side.

"No. No he is not."

The two of us laugh as I unlock the door.

"So, one more night of freedom after tonight, huh?" he says.

I almost ask what he's talking about, before realizing that, yes, in two days our senior year of high school will have started. A sudden, inescapable sense of dread overtakes me. I thought I had so much time. I thought it was so far in the future. But no, it's here. I'd rather take on the Enforcers and Sandman at the same time.

"Yea, crazy that high school is coming to an end," I muse. "May it burn in hell forever."

"Oh come on," he laughs. "It's not that bad."

"No, it really is," I admonish him. Peter loves school. When you're a super genius like him it makes sense. Not that I'm some slouch or anything. But I'm bored. High school is too easy. Maybe that's why I now prefer to punch giant Russian guys in the face. Just a little more engaging. "But college is gonna be awesome."

I've been looking forward to college since Mom died. It's probably not fair to Dad, but I just want to live life on my own for a while. The problem is, now that I'm New York's resident superhero, I don't know if I can leave. Not that there aren't great schools in the city, of course. But it's not the same as going away.

"Yea, I can't wait."

"Peter," I laugh, "you could be there now if you wanted to be."

"I know," he smirks and looks down at his feet. "But I don't want to go without you guys."

When he looks up I plant a kiss on him, "I wouldn't want that either. Goodnight."

"Goodnight."

**********


My phone ringing wakes me from a light sleep. It's only nine, not late at all, especially for me. After Peter left, I just kind of dozed off. I guess after everything I've gone through recently, I need to crash just a little bit.

"Hello?" I answer groggily.

"Gwen," Dad's voice comes over the other end. "Listen, I just want to let you know I love you, and stay at home."

Instantly my stomach drops. Something's wrong.

"What is it?"

"Just...well...the Silk Cartel has started open warfare. The city is chaos. I'm not gonna be home tonight."

As he explains what's going on, I'm already getting my Spider-Woman suit ready to put on.

"Okay, Dad. Keep safe. Just make sure you come home."

"I will, sweetheart. Love you."

"Love you, too, Dad."

And I'm going to make sure you're safe tonight.
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Hidden 6 yrs ago Post by Sep
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Sep Migs Mayfield - Core

Member Seen 0-24 hrs ago





T H E F L A S H


Revelations:

NOT FAST ENOUGH

Music




Iris raised her left knee into the groin of Zoom, he dropped her in shock as she rushed over to Jay. She only had a split second to see if he was still alive, and that's all she needed. Sighing in relief she stood tall facing Zoom down. "You know, you've been in my head ever since you first appeared-" She started pacing slowly to the right, as he mirrored her. They were now circling eachother, like two animals preparing for battle. "-I wear this symbol as it is mine. As much as you tell me otherwise, I am the Flash." She rushed at him, lighting sparking throughout the room as the two collided, ducking under a high punch she landed one on his torso. He hit her in the back with his elbow as she passed underneath him.

Grunting slightly she started running, he followed her. The two of them in locked in a spiral. Pushing one another, punching and pulling. A lightning show flashed through the house, the wind off the two speedsters causing furniture to be displaced all throughout the room. Her jaw cracked and her head was pushed back as he landed a blow to her chin. As she went backwards head first, she leant into the fall until she was upside down. Pushing with her hands she kicked herself back onto her feet, planting a kick on Zoom as she did so. He rolled into it virtually unphased, they were more evenly matched than they had been last time they had faced another but there was another problem.

Zoom was experienced, he wasn't just using his speed to fight her but he was using skills and training. That was something she didn't have, she had boxed as a kid at her dads request and had a rudimantery knowledge of gymnasitcs which she was using to the best of her ability but at the end of the day she wasn't an experienced fighter. Landing on her feet she took off out the door, hoping to take this fight outside of the confines off the house. She stood there waiting for him for what felt like forever, she didn't even acknowledge Barry as he shouted something at her.

Jay screamed in pain as clouds started to form overhead, droplets of raining already starting to rain down. Thunder rumbling off in the distance. Swearing to herself she was about to rush back into the house when the window crashed open, Zoom jumping through it grabbing a very surprised looking Barry Allen. For a moment she felt like she saw someone dressed in red standing in the window behind where Eobard had been but she didn't have time to think about it. She took chase.

The red lightning trailed left by Zoom interlaced with her yellow as reports of two blurs spread all across the city as the freak storm continued to pick up. The wind generated by the two speedsters blew at people, forcing them to brace themselves or be knocked over. Car alarms went off as Iris sped past them in pursuit, she was slowly gaining ground. Suddenly ahead there was a boom of shattered glass as Zoom broke the sound barrier. Making the decision she slowed as she cleared the street of civillians, moving them out of harms way of the glass flying everywhere before pushing herself just as hard as Zoom was. A second sonic boom wasn't what this street needed but having backed up she felt it was best to happen there rather than on a street that hadn't already been damaged. Seeing Zooms trail in the distance Iris kept up the pursuit, climbing the STAR labs building as he had.

As she reached the top she skidded to a halt. Zoom had Barry on his knees, some form of injector held to his neck. If it had been anyone else Iris knew she could have stopped him, she raised her hands in the most non-threatening way possible.

"Don't hurt him."

"Can you feel it?"

Suddenly the rain stopped, she looked around as a bolt of lightning streaked across the sky and thunder sounded. This didn't make sense, she wasn't moving at Speed. The rain had actually stopped. "What's happening?"

"He's coming."

"Who's coming?"

"The Flash" He pulled his finger as Barry screamed in agony as the substance was injected into him.

Iris ran forward screaming at the top of her lungs, as a bolt of lightning crashed down onto the roof in a resounding explosion.
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Hidden 6 yrs ago 6 yrs ago Post by Morden Man
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Morden Man

Member Seen 18 days ago

Triskelion, Washington DC

Sue Storm seethed as she made her way through the hallway outside of Maria Hill’s office. A little over a week ago she had seen Guy Gardner steaming out of the office every bit as perturbed as she was – and now she felt she understood him slightly more. Her confrontation with SHIELD’s deputy director had not gone quite the way she had expected – partly because of her own eagerness to get one up on Hill, but also because of her brother’s inconveniently-timed Ferris Bueller act.

Stood by the elevator at the end of the corridor was a brown-skinned woman in a lab coat. From behind Sue failed to recognise her but as she drew closer to the elevator there was no mistaking SHIELD’s chief scientist – or the look of discontent on her face.

Sue stopped beside the woman and offered her the nearest thing to a smile she could manage. “It’s Koul, isn’t it?”

“Call me Rachna,” Agent Koul said as she extended a hand in Sue’s direction. “Please.”

There was an unfamiliar sensation as Sue shook it. She looked down at Koul’s right hand in confusion. It was a tanned brown, the exact shade of Rachna’s skin, with signs of imperfection, defects that only natural skin could possess, but it felt cold to the touch. It was a prosthetic. And a very good one at that.

Suddenly a wave of guilt washed over Sue as she thought back to the way she had spoken to Koul in Hill’s office.

“I’m sorry for raising my voice at you back there. It wasn’t you that I was angry with.”

“Don’t worry,” Rachna laughed. “I’ve answered to Maria long enough to know by now that she’s not exactly the easiest person to work with.”

That was putting it lightly, Sue thought. Back on her world, Hill had been a difficult customer – but on this world she was something else. It didn’t help matters that Fury seemed to be almost perennially absent. The small quirks like that were what Sue found most difficult to adjust to. If they had arrived in a world wildly dissimilar from their own, getting their bearings may have been easier – but here, surrounded by memories of their own world, reflections, it was hard to keep your feet on the ground.

And harder still when you know that Galactus is on his way and you’re one of only four people on Earth that have so much as heard his name.

The elevator arrived at their floor and Sue and Rachna stepped inside. The scientist hit twelve and dutifully pressed the ground floor button for Storm as the doors slowly shut. Sue peered through its glass walls at the inner-workings of the Triskelion as they descended past them. The building was every bit a marvel as it was on her world. It might even give the Baxter Building a run for its money – though she would never tell Reed that.

From beside her Koul let out a self-deprecating sigh. “You don’t remember me, do you?”

Sue was about to offer some kind of defence but realised before the words left her throat that she didn’t remember Rachna at all. In fact, before she’d locked eyes on her in Maria Hill’s office, she wasn’t sure that she’d so much as heard her name before – on this world or her own.

“We met when you first arrived here,” Rachna said with a smile. “I oversaw all of the medical examinations and psych tests the four of you took after you were brought to the Triskelion the first time.”

“Oh, I’m sorry, everything was such a blur in those first few weeks. Between Darkseid, what we walked into in Latveria, that fiasco with Namor on the Pegasus, and now this Surfer thing, I don’t think any of us have had time to catch our breath.”

At the mention of Namor’s name, Sue had noticed a gentle roll of Koul’s eyes. She thought hard for a moment and remembered that Ben had said “some egghead” had saved Gardner from being put to death in Atlantis. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out Koul had been that egghead.

“Ah, yes, our silver-skinned friend is languishing several hundred feet below us in a vibranium-reinforced cell awaiting transport to The Raft.”

The comment caught Sue completely off-guard.

“They brought the Surfer here?” Sue said as she glanced through the elevator’s walls at the White House in the distance. “To Washington?”

Koul smiled confidently.

“I can assure you, Sue, there’s no place on the Eastern Seaboard more secure than the Triskelion – I designed it’s defences myself, after all.”

Just over a day ago, it had taken everything that Superman and the Flash had to put the Silver Surfer down – and they had brought him to within walking distance of the Oval Office. It seemed so staggeringly stupid that even thinking about it made Sue’s heart race with panic. She could feel her heart thumping away in her throat.

It wasn’t safe – despite all of Rachna’s assurances to the contrary, there was no way having the herald of Galactus sitting below the ground, recuperating with every second that passes, was a good idea.

God knows what SHIELD were doing to him. If Hill was willing to cover up her counterpart’s death to avoid blackening the organisation’s eye in the media, what would they do to a captive extraterrestrial? One that had been forced into his master’s service. It didn’t bear thinking about.

But Sue could think of nothing else. When Rachna Koul placed a comforting hand on Sue’s arm and softened her voice, Sue’s thoughts were still with Norrin Radd.

“You know, I knew you – well, the other you – on this world. I studied at the Baxter Building under Franklin. You and I were … friends, of a sort. We didn’t exactly see eye-to-eye all of the time but I like to think there was a bond there – some kind of sisterhood.”

The scientist’s eyes were locked on Sue. There was something about the way that Koul was speaking that made her feel uncomfortable. She couldn’t quite place it. Her sincerity felt laboured, like she was overcompensating for something, but Sue wasn’t exactly sure what.

All she knew was that something seemed out of place – and that every second she spent thinking about it was another that Norrin Radd was potentially being subjected to unspeakable treatment.

“Sorry, I shouldn’t be saying all of this,” Koul mumbled. “It was just so difficult for me after what happened. Franklin and I were very close.”

Sue was no more comfortable with people speaking about her ‘father’ in this world than she had been in her own. It was difficult enough talking to Johnny about it – let alone some woman she barely knew – but she felt obliged to nod along dutifully all the same. As the lift approached the fourteenth floor, Rachna reached once more for Sue’s arm.

“He’d be very proud of the woman you turned into.”

This time, sensing an opportunity, Sue threw her arms around Koul’s shoulders. The scientist let out a small yelp in shock but returned the hug and patted Sue on the back softly.

“Thank you, Rachna,” Sue said as she swiped Koul’s identity card free from her belt and slipped it into her pocket. “That really means a lot.”

The super scientist bid her goodbye and disembarked on the twelfth floor with a smile. Once the doors to the elevator shut, Sue pressed a button marked “-8” on the elevator panel and prepared herself to put the Triskelion’s defences to the test for the second time this morning.
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Hidden 6 yrs ago 6 yrs ago Post by Hound55
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Hound55 Create-A-Hero RPG GM, Blue Bringer of BWAHAHA!

Member Seen 26 min ago



Marc stood at the side of the pool looking down. The man had a heated Olympic sized swimming pool with an inground pool bar, complete with cemented in seats, a conjoined jacuzzi and sauna, shower and steam rooms off to the side. Because of course he did.

“Come on, Marc! The water’s great!”

Marc Spector tied off the drawstring on his borrowed swim trunks. Samuels had intercepted them heading for the pool and given them both “house gear”. Marc now had a pair of borrowed lime green trunks, and Marlene had a form fitting red two piece, which she wore spectacularly.

Spector thought to himself what kind of man kept form-fitting swimwear that specifically fit women whose measurements matched the lovely Marlene Alraune. Almost sensing Spector’s speculation, Samuels had chimed in with “Mr Grant often entertains various philanthropic interests.”

Because of course he did. Spector began to wonder what philanthropic interests out there involved free bikinis for women who looked as good as Marlene and why they never door-knocked in his area, until he realized that for all he knew they could have and he’d forgotten about them.

Marc took a deep breath and dove in, he allowed himself to drift underwater before throwing out a few frogkicks, by the time he surfaced he’d swam a good 40 metres before he surfaced on the other side of the pool from Marlene.

“Wow! Did you know he can do that?” Marlene asked DuChamp, who was wearing a suit and standing in the dry area tending the pool bar. Biting down on a cigarette holder with the side of his mouth, deep in concentration as he filled a cocktail shaker.

“What? Swim? Of course he can swim. He’s a Marine.”

Marlene looked quizzically at the Frenchman for a minute and wondered if the word “marine” was lost in translation and he thought he was in some type of completely aquatic corps, or if he was referring to the training of the the Marine corps as being rounded in its physical requirements.

She decided to allow both of them to keep their dignity by not asking the question.

“Marc, did you know you could do that? You just swam almost a full lap without taking a breath.”

Spector looked at her blankly. He’d just been swimming, he hadn’t really put any thought into it.

He climbed up out of the pool and took a few breaths, he dove in and swam full smooth strokes, trying to remain calm and control his air usage. He passed his previous mark and saw the edge approaching. He tumble turned and pushed off the wall, letting himself glide efficiently before returning to smooth strokes. He started to wonder whether this was normal, or right. More gliding strokes, and he made a second tumble turn, pushing off and gliding again. He saw Marlene’s legs under the water and surfaced.

“About 120? Is that-- should I be able to do that? I think I could have kept going too.”

Samuels walked in on the three and left towels for all in attendance, before turning and leaving. Marc could have sworn he saw him eyeballing him as he walked away, but then his French friend interrupted his suspicions.

Jean Paul chimed in “Don’t do that. It’s one thing in training, but I don’t want to have to jump in to save you when you pass out. If you want to black out I have stuff over here that’s more fun. Pull up a chair, I’m going to make the pair of you a Pepa.”

“You make a cocktail with Dr Pepper?”

“No, you uncultured swine. A Pepa. It’s named after the famous actor Pepa Bonafe.”

The pair looked at him completely baffled as if he was inventing words.

“Oh don’t tell me you haven’t heard of Pepa Bonafe." He looked to the younger woman. "Marlene? Oh no. Him I understand, even before he lost his memory he always had questionable taste, but you, sweet girl?”

DuChamp started assembling liquor bottles and pouring in cognac, vodka and brandy as he explained. “Pepa Bonafe was a silent film actress from the 1910s and 20s. She was in Shylock and Redenzione.”

“Was that a silent movie?”

“Two! They’re two different classic silent French films! Sacre bleu!”

“So I should know her because she was in 2 movies almost a hundred years ago?”

“She was in a whole bunch of movies! Those two are just classics that everyone should have heard of!”

“Well-- her drink’s good anyway.” Marlene chimed in, having grabbed a glass whilst Jean Paul was ranting with full patriotic exasperation.

Samuels returned, seeming somewhat nervous. Something was making him act particularly anxious in the last half hour. Was he upset they were using the Pool Bar or was it something else.

“Sir, Nedd-- Uh, Sir. The Cook has now returned. Unless anyone has any specific requests dinner can be served in an hour.”

Sweat was pouring off his brow, and not just because of the humidity from the heated pool.

“Thank you, Mr Samuels. We’ll finish this and then get changed for dinner.” Marlene called out, raising her drink.

Satisfied, Samuels scurried away.

Marc picked up his glass and downed the whole thing.

“Hey! You need to taste it!” complained DuChamp.

“I’ll see you lovely people at dinner. I’d better get ready.” Marc said. “And also run my eyes over this place that keeps feeling so ‘off’.” He thought to himself.

He swam across to where Samuels left one of the towels as the pair watched on.

“So… does he know?” Marlene asked.

“Quoi? Eh? What are you talking about?”

“That you’re gay. You are gay, aren’t you, Jean Paul?”

A wry smile creased across the French spy soldier’s face. “I knew I liked you, girl...”

“So does he?”

“No. Don’t think he suspects a thing.”

“Aaand…”

“Oh, he’s as straight as they come. More’s the pity. I think that’s probably why he doesn’t suspect, to be honest. There was a time where it hurt, honestly, but I’ve moved well beyond that.”

Marc had reached the edge and started to pull himself out as water dripped off a battle sculpted body as he reached for a towel.

“Still, it doesn’t hurt to look. And he is certainly easy on the eyes. I know you’ve noticed too, Mademoiselle…”

Marlene looked across the pool and noticed she was biting her lip. She returned her attention to her new French friend and the pair clinked glasses and shared a knowing laugh.

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“Flint! Get your ass up!”

Detective Flint looked over his computer monitor to Captain Brennan-Kasser who was barking for his presence.

“Yeah, Chief?”

Captain Miles Brennan-Kasser, often named Captain BK, Two-Dads or the Burger King by any detective who believed they were out of earshot was a man whose heft certainly fitted the fast food franchises moniker, and whose personality suggested either severe constipation or resentment of the inevitable heart attack which had his name on it. He’d long since replaced maintaining his physical fitness for the field with an appreciation for the bureaucracy and mastering the second language of Police Buzzwords to a level of fine precision.

“Don’t call me ‘Chief’. ‘Captain’.”

Flint sucked on the inside of his teeth on one side of his mouth and acquiesced.

“What did you want, Captain Brennan-Kasser?” he said, the last part between gritted teeth.

“The… animal control incident… from yesterday has moved North. It’s reportedly in Lincoln Park as we speak, has killed four and wounded a half dozen more. I want you out there ASAP.”

Flint swept his long coat and hat off his desk and fired a final inquiry at his Captain.

“Shouldn’t that be more of a uniformed officer issue? Or, worst case, Tactical?”

“Uniformed officers are en scene, and I believe they’re requesting SWAT backup. However there’s still the intel situation where we don’t know exactly what the damn thing is in the first place at present. We’re getting conflicting reports that it’s a bear that’s wired on angel dust, an oversized wolf, a giant alsatian or…”

Flint looked back.

“Numerous eyewitness accounts claiming that it’s a werewolf. I know, I know… But Police Officers have largely devoted efforts to clearing the area, securing a perimeter and ensuring public safety. Get down there, find out what you can and wait on tactical. I don’t want to burn two detectives on a damn ‘werewolf’ or ‘animal control’ situation.”

Flint slapped the button for the elevator.

Two minutes later he was in his dark green BMW 3 series, reaching out the window at 50mph to set up his flashing light. With business taken care off he called for his L-Phone for Lexy to play Tom Waits “Rain Dogs”. The program took him literally and played the specific song rather than the whole album, but Flint didn’t mind. He tapped his fingers on the wheel to the heavy percussive beat and barked out the lyrics, imitating Waits bourbon and pack-of-smokes-a-day growl.

“Oh how we danced and we swallowed the night,
For it was all ripe for dreaming,
Oh how we danced away all of the lights,
We’ve allllways been out of our minds.”


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Songwriter: Thomas Alan Waits
Rain Dogs lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group
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Hidden 6 yrs ago Post by Eddie Brock
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Eddie Brock

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AL-DOHA
QURAC
LOCAL TIME 1920 (UTC +3)


Sam Wilson was born to fly. Knifing through the red-orange Quraci sky, he soared over the capital, propelled by ionic thrusters barely louder than a whisper. Al-Doha had clearly seen a lot of violence; the streets were littered with debris from half-destroyed buildings and torn-up streets. The damage told a story of decades of instability, the destruction layered over the years like chipping coats of paint. In the distance, Sam spotted the lights of the weapons factory. He drew his wings in closer and accelerated to investigate.

BOOM!

Sam was rocked by a shockwave, and the air surrounding him grew hot and bright. Rolling with the momentum, Sam spiraled away from the explosion and banked hard to his right. Another burst chased him, the sound almost deafening at such close range. He was under attack. Spreading his wings, Sam caught a wind current and made a quick ascent. This time, he saw the muzzle flash from the ground below; the shot whistled past him and exploded overhead. Sam had to spin to avoid the falling shrapnel. "They're trying to clip my wings," he reported over the comms as he kept on climbing. "I need someone to deal with the anti-aircraft guns."

"Already on it," came Barton's voice, barely audible over the roar of an engine. Down below, Hawkeye weaved through the crumbling streets on a motorcycle. There were combatants in the blasted-out windows, peppering the ground around him with bullets. Flipping a switch on the dashboard to "AUTOPILOT," Hawkeye reached back and drew an arrow from his quiver; he turned at the waist and raised his bow. The arrow sailed through the sky, seemingly aimed nowhere, until the phosphorous tip erupted in a blinding flash. Barton spun back around and took the wheel again. A shoddy barricade raced up to meet him, and he had to turn sharply to avoid it.

"I'm cut off. Trying to find another way around," Barton reported.

"I will handle it."

The Liberator manning the cannon ground his teeth and squinted at the sky. The infiltrator was too small; it was difficult to track him. Over the radio, he heard his comrades shouting about Americans on the street. He trusted that they would hold position. Just then, a glint of something caught his eye. He spotted the flyer again and brought the cannon to bear. Bombshells rocked the sky as he fired shot after shot, waiting for a direct hit. Even were he not so distracted with his task, he never would have heard the gentle footsteps behind him. A shining blade of folded steel pierced his chair's metal backing, the inch or so of uncomfortable padding, his ceramic body armor, and lastly his back and chest. He slumped in the operator's chair, dead.

Beneath a half-mask of porcelain white, Katana's face betrayed no emotion at the kill. As she drew her sword back from the fresh corpse, the blade swirled with a glowing green mist; the steel seemed to drink the mist eagerly until, with an emerald flash, nothing remained but the man's blood. Sheathing her weapon, Katana pressed a finger to her ear and announced, "Falcon, the sky is clear. You may make your approach."

"I hope that's an open invitation," called out Captain America as he sprinted down Al-Doha's main thoroughfare. Like Barton, he found himself set on all sides by entrenched Liberators, but he merely kept his shield up and bulldozed on ahead. A grenade came flying at his head; with a swing of his shield, Cap deflected it off to the building on his left -- a blasted-out tenement building, from the looks of it -- which quaked from the force of the explosion. Cap watched as a tandem of Liberators began mounting a machine gun behind a barricade at the end of the street. He reared back and heaved his shield, connecting with the man holding the ammunition belt and sending him sprawling. Jumping and sliding over the hood of a car chassis, Captain America caught his shield and rolled as the gunner opened fire. He ducked behind a half-wall for cover.

Rogers was pinned down. Turning his shield to face the machine gun meant leaving himself exposed on his flanks. Even now, the ground around his feet cascaded in a dozen tiny craters from stray bullets around him. He couldn't risk sticking his head up to assess the problem without losing it. All he could think was how long it had been since he was in a live-fire situation and how effortlessly his instincts were coming back to him. Glancing over his shoulder, he saw the remains of a moving truck... and the opportunity it presented. After calculating the proper angle, Cap let his shield rip. With a loud "clang!" it deflected off the truck and out of sight. A moment later, the gunner's fire suddenly stopped.

Captain America threw himself over the half-wall just in time to see his shield racing back to him, having completed its circuit. He caught it in midair and sprinted at the gunner's position. The man was quick to recover, hurriedly bringing the gun to bear, but Captain America was already upon him; grabbing the machine gun beneath its barrel, Cap turned it up and away just moments before the firing resumed. The bullets screamed over Cap's shoulder harmlessly. With his shield arm, Cap bashed the gunner in his teeth, downing him once and for all.

That's when Rogers noticed that the second Liberator he had knocked over earlier currently had a gun trained at his chest. Before either of them could make a move, an arrowhead burst through the man's shoulder from behind. With a cry, he dropped his weapon, and Captain America leapt over the barricade to deliver a disabling kick to the face. At the intersection ahead, Hawkeye sat atop his motorcycle, twirling an arrow. "Lose a step, old man?" he taunted playfully.

"I'd still be a lifetime ahead of you," Rogers countered.

"If you boys are done measuring," Diana interjected, somewhat less than amused, "the rest of us could use help taking this factory."

Grimly, Rogers nodded. As Hawkeye sped off, Cap tightened his shield's straps and continued his sprint towards the Liberator weapons facility. Before long, the factory rose on the horizon towards him. Its surrounding walls were ten feet high and topped with barbed wire, but the gates had already been blown open. As Captain America approached, a previously disabled sentry rose and hurried to impede the intruder; Cap was on him before he could even get his gun raised, driving an elbow into the man's gut and knocking him away with the same hand. Inside, the factory was chaos. SHIELD's intelligence about the Liberators' fortifications had been right. The insurgents had mounted their full force to meet the Americans.

Falcon whistled by overhead, exchanging gunfire with the Liberators on the ground. Rogers heard the distinct thwick! of Hawkeye's arrows finding targets. And every so often, there'd be a moving blur and a flash of steel before an unaware combatant would fall dead on the battlefield, another victim to Katana's blade. The only one Rogers couldn't see was Diana Prince, who must've already pushed past the courtyard. For his part, Captain America took on all comers, angling his shield tosses to disable multiple targets in a single throw and engaging anyone foolish enough to get within hand-to-hand range. Team 7 was a well-oiled machine, and this little militia just couldn't match up.

As if on cue, the screeching of metal drew Captain America's attention to the far end of the courtyard. The hangar opposite them had begun to open its doors, and a massive tank was rolling out. No sooner had Rogers recognized it than the tank's cannon began to swivel in his general direction. Cap barely had time to call out, "Take cover!" before a bombshell whistled past him and created a brand new hole in the factory's exterior wall. Rogers held his shield over his head to protect himself from falling debris. As the tank continued rolling forwards, realigning its barrel for a follow-up shot, Cap began running parallel to the courtyard's wall. He pressed a finger to his ear and announced, "Hoplite! I need you to open a jar of pickles for me."

"Already closing in on your position, Cap," reported Diana.

It was small comfort as Rogers found himself staring down the end of the tank's barrel. Bracing himself, he flinched for a dive when suddenly, a blur of white came crashing down from above. The tank fired, but its cannon had been knocked off-target, and the shot missed wildly. Landing in a cloud of dust and sand, Hoplite rose to her feet, thick chains wrapped around each arm. With her back to Steve, she stared down the tank as it brought its weapon to bear once more.



Captain America was almost speechless. It had been too long since he watched Diana work. Looking back at her Captain, Hoplite clapped the dirt from her hands and asked, "Isn't there somewhere you need to be?" The words were accusatory, but the tone belied a wink between old friends. Regardless, it shook Cap from his stupor and urged him to head inside the factory. As he ran past, Hoplite bent the cannon barrel for good measure and delivered a sharp kick to the jaw of a Liberator who had tried crawling out of the disabled tank.

Once inside, Captain America found himself overwhelmed. The weapons factory was bigger than he could have ever imagined. Fury was right to go after the Liberators when he did; Cap could only imagine the kinds of weapons that could come from an outfit this big. His presence having raised the alarm, Rogers soon found himself under fire from the Liberators in the catwalks above, while the unarmed workers ran for cover. Many of them, he noted, were villagers. No better than slave labor. With a heave of his shield, Cap buckled one of the support struts for the catwalks on his right, sending the guards tumbling twenty feet to the factory floor below. He caught the shield on the run and did the same for the catwalks on the left.

At the end of the factory was an office, raised one floor off the ground and accessed by a flight of iron stairs. Rogers knew if he could get there, he could disable the whole place. So he ran. But he had made it no more than halfway across the building when a figure darted out in front of his path. The new challenger held a glowing, red weapon, which he swung at Rogers' head. Captain America dropped to his knees and slid under the attack, popping back to his feet and spinning to face his attacker. He recognized him immediately from Fury's briefing packets.



"So, you are real," the Colonel said dispassionately. He took another swing, and at this range, Cap got a better view of his weapon; it appeared to be some kind of energy staff, and wherever its "blade" touched, there was a shower of sparks and molten metal. As Captain America raised his shield in defense, he found out that luckily, it wasn't hot enough to cut through the shield's vibranium alloy. Still, he felt the heat on his face as Abdul al-Rahman pressed the staff down harder, sneering, "I've heard the stories."

Cap pushed back, knocking the Colonel off-balance and buying himself some breathing room. He threw a jab at the Colonel's ribs, but the new Super-Soldier knocked it away effortlessly with an elbow. Another swipe with the staff forced Rogers to block low, opening himself up to get smacked in the teeth with the Colonel's other hand. Rogers had to catch himself on a nearby work bench to avoid falling to one knee.

"They say you are a ghost," the Colonel continued. With frightening speed, he brought the end of the staff down where Cap's hand had been. The weapon cleaved through the metal work bench with little resistance. Captain America spun away and reestablished a defensive stance. "America's faceless hero. But out here? You're not a ghost; you're the bogeyman." The Colonel lunged forward, the end of his staff screeching as it scraped off Cap's shield. Al-Rahman was toying with him, testing his defenses. Cap readied himself for the real strike. "You are the fist of a regime that takes what it wants. America's brutal enforcer. The monster parents warn their children about at night." He feinted before coming at Rogers with an overhead strike.

Anticipating the attack, Captain America blocked with his shield and threw a standing kick into the Colonel's chest. His opponent spun out of the hit, recovering in time to deflect the follow-up; he redirected Cap's shield arm and kneed the American in the abdomen. As the air rushed from Cap's lungs, he felt a sharp "crack!" from a hard cross to the jaw. A feeble attempt to raise his shield was much too slow to protect Rogers from a slash across the shoulder. The wound burned as the hot blade immediately cauterized it. Cap yelped and stumbled back a step.

The Colonel was relentless, indefatigable. He probed at Rogers' shield arm with a series of quick jabs; Cap was quick enough to get his shield up, but only barely. His arm screamed in pain every time he lifted it. Al-Rahman exploited the new weakness by alternating high and low swipes. Once he had Cap's shield up, he kicked the side of the American's knee and nearly buckled it. An upward slash caught more fabric than skin, but Cap still felt a stinging burn from abs to chest. He swiped at the Colonel's feet, hoping to knock his opponent to the ground, but the Quraci merely stomped on top of the shield and pinned it to the floor. He followed through with a hard heel kick that finally put Captain America on his back.

"It would have been a hell of a fight when you were in your prime," the Colonel observed, looming over Rogers like a hungry tiger. At that moment, more of his men arrived. The Colonel didn't take his eyes off Captain America as he listened to their report about the Americans' progress outside; evidently, the resistance would soon fall. <<"We have what we need. Burn the rest; the Americans can have the ashes,">> al-Rahman answered in his native tongue. When they were alone again, the Colonel addressed the Captain, "Like your empire, your time is at an end." The building was starting to go up in flames, so al-Rahman powered down his weapon and holstered it. He turned and walked away, leaving Rogers to burn.

Moments later, the rest of Team 7 burst into the factory and lobbied shots in pursuit of the fleeing Liberators, but they were already too late. Eventually, the collapse of the factory took priority, and they knew they had to let al-Rahman escape. Aided to his feet by a combination of Falcon and Katana, Captain America stumbled in the direction of the door as rafters began to fall all around them; Hoplite held the largest of these up so that the team could duck under. Once they were outside, Rogers fell to his knees and began to see stars crowding his vision. The last thing he saw before losing consciousness was Hawkeye, aided by SHIELD agents, rounding up the captured Liberators in the yard...
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Hidden 6 yrs ago 6 yrs ago Post by Hound55
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Hound55 Create-A-Hero RPG GM, Blue Bringer of BWAHAHA!

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Marc Spector looked at himself in the mirror. A button-down white short sleeved shirt and a pair of khakis. Felt underdressed for this place, but it couldn’t be helped. Borrowing “house trunks” made him feel enough of a bum without asking for clothing from Samuels.

He might be accommodating out of a sense of duty, but he didn’t really want to ask him for anything if he could help it. Didn't want to create another excuse for him to look at him side-eyed.

Marc gently opened the door to his guest room and looked up and down the hallway. Nothing. He was the first one dressed and ready.

Perfect. An opportunity to look around and try and get some kind of a read on this place and the players involved.

He walked down the hallway and saw quaint side tables with flowers, massive framed art pieces on the wall and ornate fixtures and fittings, such as the sizeable chandelier that hung over the sitting room.

The wealthy. They have a room for sitting. Because of course they do.

The sitting room contained numerous pieces of classic red velvet antique furniture, and a framed portrait of a man with a beard and his wife hung over a fireplace. It had a mantlepiece that looked bare, yet dust free and other contemporary art pieces hanging on the walls.

Marc left the sitting room and started to inspect the other rooms; library, lounge room, conservatory and Grant’s own personal office, and found an interesting trend.

The man had no photos of himself anywhere. At all. Marc realized he still had no idea what his mysterious potential employer looked like. Furthermore his office was immaculately kept. But he could find nothing of interest. That may not be terribly surprising, however. Samuels seemed quite proactive about cleanliness and the needs of guests.

The mansion was enormous, there was no way he could search the entire place before dinner, but with only a handful of rooms left on this side of the complex, Spector decided he’d finish searching this hallway before rejoining the others for dinner. He opened a door... hup... bathroom, and quickly closed it. Two doors to go. Marc opened the next door; another guest double bedroom, it dogleg'd slightly around the door and it’s length swept all the way to the side of the building, with an awkward sized window overlooking the grounds on that face. This room hadn’t been used in some time. Looked like it had only really been entered in order to dust and maintain basic cleanliness. Marc walked back out and closed the door quietly behind him.

One to go. Marc crossed the hallway and opened the door. Another guest bedroom. It mirrored the last one. Down to the same awkward sized window. Marc threw a cursory glance and a glint of yellow caught his eye. He moved to the window for a closer look.

It was the yellow taxi cab that brought them here. Marc furrowed his brow. Samuels had said earlier that he was returning that car. Now he was either lying to create an alibi for his own absence for some time that couldn't be accounted for, or-- or what? Marc left the room, and once again gently pulled the guest room door closed behind him.

Then he stopped. He looked at the end of the hallway.

The two shallow doglegs didn’t account for the amount of space at the end of the hallway. There was something beyond the end of the hallway. External wood cellar, only accessible from the outside? Maybe. But something told Spector he should give the wall a closer look. The art was different. Didn’t fit the rest of the decor in the house. He recognized it, which was rare enough. He didn’t even recognize himself in the mirror, but this was a piece by Norman Rockwell. He could tell the artist, but didn’t know the name of the piece. It depicted a working class man standing before his peers at a town meeting like a character portrayed by Jimmy Stewart in a Frank Capra film.

It didn’t match the rest of the up-market decor in this place, and that made Marc think he might just be on the right track. He moved closer to the wall and wrapped gently in different places, then he found a seam. He moved to the other side of the wall and upon close inspection found heavily disguised hinges. Another door WAS here! He felt around the wall and then found the door handle disguised as an ornamental moulding, he twisted it and then pulled and the door gave way…

To a long depressing squalor. The room was long and fairly open plan. On one side there was a small area with a sink and tiny oven. There was a portable hotplate plugged in, but not switched on. A basin with faucets. A small card table acted as somebody’s dining room. Laundry was spread everywhere. On one wall was a painting of dogs playing poker. In a corner was a depressing rollaway bed which faced a tiny 12 inch tv.

“The Hell is this place?” As he pushed through the room he managed to get to an external door. He twisted the lock and applied the snib so it wouldn’t lock behind him as he stepped out into the darkness of the early evening. He saw the cab. It was parked over a stretch of flat worn grass. Suggesting it or a similar sized car was often parked there. Marc turned to go back into the mansion and looked up, stunned at what he saw...

It was a brownstone facade. This whole side of the mansion had been done up like a Hollywood set to look like an entirely different building. But why? Why in the Hell would anyone send their property value into a freefall doing something like this? He could see those awkward windows in the guest bedrooms had been part of this makeover, to make the entire side of the house look like a few inner city brownstone apartment blocks.

All of this asked more questions than it answered. And with this being the case, there would be no avoiding the direct approach. He went back inside, closing the door behind him and crossed the room of squalor, turning the ornate golden door knob (which may have been worth more than anything in the room), stepped back through the looking glass and into the mansion to quickly rejoin the others in the dining room.

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Flint’s car halted to a stop and the detective traded laying rubber tread, for rubber heels as he ran down to the station of the officer-in-command.

“Flint. Central Detectives. What’s the latest?”

“Captain Dixon. Well, Flint. We’ve cleared everyone off the street and managed to remove the injured from the area and paramedics have them en route to St Joseph’s. Now there’s obviously people in the residences, but we’ve told them via loudspeaker to stay indoors, away from doors and windows and to barricade those egress points if safe to do so.”

“OK. What exactly is the issue and where is it?”

At that moment a howl drew everyone’s gaze to a rooftop silhouette of a man-sized wolf baying to the moon either from instinct or hunger.

“Yup. New York gets Spider-women, Gotham gets Dracula, we get goddamn werewolves.”

Flint’s hand dropped to his hip for his piece.

“And you can forget about that. I got three officers who claim to have tagged him with sidearms, and Bendis over there shot it center mass with a goddamn shotgun trying to get it away from bystanders.”

“And?”

“And it got him away from bystanders, just to turn and go after Bendis! If Ellis over there hadn’t hit him with his squad car, Bendis’d be kibble right now.”

“And not the good kibble either, like Acana Regionals. Your fat ass’d be that homebrand kibble made up of ground up mule assholes.” Ellis ribbed Bendis, punching him in the arm.

“So any plans to engage?”

“Honestly, Flint. Our plan was to sit here and try not to piss it off too much before SWAT gets here. D’you have a problem with that?”

“No problem at all, Dixon. Just got sent down by BK to get the lay of the land. I’m not here to play hero or tread on toes. In fact, orders were to wait on Tactical. If you need another pair of hands, hit me up, but I’ll be debriefing Central over in the car.”

Flint walked back to his dark green BMW with his hands stuffed in the pockets of his long coat. He threw the car door open and sat in the driver’s seat for a beat to think.

The long silence was over. Chicago had joined the community of American cities to have been visited by the strange. Goddamn werewolves. Flint slapped open the glove compartment and took out a flask, taking a quick hit of bourbon. He imagined the worst case scenario of disbelief from the Burger King when he reported in, took another hit of bourbon and used the radio to call in.

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