Hidden 5 yrs ago 5 yrs ago Post by Master Bruce
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Master Bruce Winged Freak

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Gotham City, 140th Street
Alcuin & Spilsbury Towers
10:48 PM

♪ See the moon slink down in the sky, darling. Let your wildest fantasies fly, darling. Life is cold, and the game is old. Just see how virtue repays you, you turn and someone betrays you. Betray him first, and the game's reversed! For we all are caught in the middle, of one long treacherous riddle... ♪

The haunting rendition of the old, peculiar song echoed throughout the long, spacious hallway that led to the large double doors accented by lavish lighting and freshly waxed marble floors. Agents Arthur Brown and Peyton Riley looked towards eachother, equally perplexed by what exactly they were walking into. Riley even checked her phone again to make sure that the given address was accurate, given they had both been summoned without much in the way of warning. Once Brown hesitantly took another step forward, Riley eventually followed, watching as her colleague reached up to the bizarre looking doorbell - the design of it looking as though it were something out of the steampunk era, and proceeded to press it. The sound that followed left them even more thrown, as it sounded less like a traditional doorbell and more like a three stringed harpsichord.

Instantly, the recording of the song stopped and the lights dimmed, giving the hallway itself a foreboding atmosphere that was in stark contrast to what it had been before. Rather than a figure appearing to open the doors, however, the Agents were shocked to witness the doors open by themselves. Sliding just enough for them to enter the massive penthouse suite inside, Brown and Riley looked at their surroundings with astonishment.

An emerald trim lined the walls and stairs that lead up into a second floor that was adorned with walls built of a mirrored black glass, and the floors were of a brushed metallic finish. The walls of the first floor were covered in a sound dampening honeycomb patterned nomex material, seemingly professionally installed, and the living room area wasn't so much inviting as it was militaristic - in the place of a television, there were twelve monitors. In the place of a standard coffee table and couch, there was a long conference table outfitted with multiple leather seats. And atop that was a giant screen, sitting infront of the already active monitors.

Brown took one look at it all and blurted out the first thing that came to mind.

"Jesus Christ. It's like a freakin' command center."

Riley raised an eyebrow at the monitors, specifically.

"And look at those. They aren't just the type of hardware you can buy on the street, those are top of the line Stark Screens. They cost half a million dollars each and usually only belong to members of the top brass at the Pentagon."

"A small correction, Agent. They cost roughly six hundred thousand each, placing them above the half a million dollar mark."

Both Brown and Riley turned towards the top of the staircase, as Agent Nashton appeared, seemingly out of nowhere. His cane at the ready, he began to descend the stairs while carrying a carbon fiber briefcase. Indicating that they sit at the table, Brown and Riley reluctantly agreed, as Nashton made his way to the forefront chair and gently plopped the briefcase infront of him. Producing a remote control, he held it out towards the room itself and pressed a button. A gentle concerto played over a series of hidden speakers. Nashton smiled as the confusion between his two operatives only grew.

"Just a bit of mood music. I feel like if I'm going to break the new house in, I might aswell make myself comfortable. And please, try not to touch anything. I'm in the middle of interviewing prospective housekeeping candidates, so I'd like to keep everything in optimal condition until it can be properly maintained."

Brown leaned forward.

"So when the hell were you gonna tell us that you were loaded, boss?"

Riley scoffed.

"I hardly find it surprising. I mean think about it, Brown. There's nothing to directly contradict any measure of wealth in what little we knew beforehand."

Nashton raised a finger, indicating that Riley had made a fair point.

"True. But Arthur's confusion isn't entirely without merit. After all, as of this time last week, I barely even possessed a modest twenty thousand dollars to my name. This suite came at a price tag of about three hundred million. It's quite the leap, if you do even the most rudimentary math."

Brown's mouth went agape hearing those figures.

"How in... what the..."

Nashton cut him off.

"All in due time. Let's just say that I've figured out a way to game the system, if you will. But I didn't bring either of you in to show off the fruits of my discoveries, as much as I wish that were the case. You both played your part last night to the letter, yes? You were present in that audience at the Starling Fashion Show?"

Riley leaned forward, removing a file from her jacket filled with a detailed report of their compiled notes. Indeed, a little over twenty four hours ago, both Brown and Riley had been undercover at the event that was attacked by a maniac calling himself Mr. Freeze. They both put themselves in considerable danger by remaining at the event, as instructed, even whenever they were forewarned about Freeze's rampage as it was beginning. Perhaps luckily, The Batman had intervened and distracted Freeze long enough for both to remain out of sight and unharmed.

As Riley slid the file to Nashton, he picked it up and gave it a cursory glance, as if to imply that he knew what to expect. Neither Agent said a word as he scanned the documents page-by-page, though they were both a little put off. Nashton had been an eccentric figure before now, but this newly acquired wealth? The dramatic entrance, the mysterious briefcase? It all seemed a bit much, and neither of them felt like they were being included on whatever this really was. They'd assumed that this was merely a matter of delivering their report, but Nashton had insisted that both appear in person to this address - which was apparently his new home address.

"I see. So The Dark Knight subdued the frozen monolith, and yet both escaped the scene all the same. Our vigilante's getting sloppier. Or perhaps, weaker. That highly publicized struggle against Gordon's unit in The Narrows must have taken more out of him than I initially anticipated."

"He did appear to operate more sluggish than anything corroborated by previous eyewitness accounts. I suspect due to the unusual nature of the attacker himself, but Brown has an alternate theory."

Nashton raised an eyebrow.

"You have the floor, Arthur."

"Well, it's not much of a theory, just an observation. I think The Bat was distracted, not weakened. He seemed preoccupied with a woman at the event. I had her image pulled from the security feed once it went back up, and get this. She's an exact match for Carmine Falcone's daughter. And the entourage that escorted her out? All confirmed members of the Five Families."

Nashton brought his hand to his chin, his eyes still fixated on the file.

"An intriguing, if not entirely unexpected development. I'm genuinely surprised that you caught that, Arthur. A connection between Selina Kyle and The Batman certainly thickens the plot. Perhaps some sort of romantic entanglement?"

Riley cleared her throat.

"Doubtful, sir. At one point during the incident, Kyle shot him in the back of the head and attempted to finish him off once it became apparently that the blow wasn't lethal."

Nashton chuckled, loudly, closing the file with a single hand.

"While not entirely ruling my theory out, given the nature of these things, I suppose that was a bit premature on my part. Fine, so The Batman was clearly looking to split his attention between enemies. The Proverbial Iceman and The Roman's Daughter, respectively."

Brown let out a frustrated sigh.

"We wish we had more to draw on, sir, but the fight was fairly frantic and there wasn't alot to see. I think The Batman cut the lights just before he appeared, and the emergency back-up generators weren't working. Everything we witnessed came from the night-vision toggle on my phone, and that eventually went dead around the time that, erm, Mr. Freeze was seemingly taken down. Had to be an EMP. Must've been why the security feeds went down, too."

Nashton held up his remote once again, taking a seat proper at the table.

"Oh. You mean these security feeds?"

Brown and Riley looked towards the twelve monitors as, to their astonishment, fully brightened and digitally cleared up high-definition footage of both Mr. Freeze and The Batman were displayed from varying perspectives. Everything that had been barely visible in person was made crystal clear, seemingly after the fact. The Agents looked back at Nashton, who seemed positively amused.

"There was a reason that the security feeds were down for you and the authorities. I took control of them myself and rerouted the footage directly to my own private server."

Pulling up the briefcase, Nashton rested his hands on it.

"I also took the liberty of silencing all radio distress signals out to the police and the press. It was my little way of testing our cape and cowled friend in a time of extreme duress, and that test proceeded even better than I could've hoped. Within minutes, Batman appeared to try and save the day, despite his predilection for operating only in the night time hours. Which tells us something very important about our target. He cannot, and will not ignore an attack from a person of an equally extreme modus operandi."

Brown and Riley stared at Nashton with a combination of dumbfoundedness and anger. They had been risking their neck in the field, volunteering to pose as patrons for the fashion show with the foregone knowledge that it may possibly be the subject of an attack by a madman, and furthermore, that the already confirmed-to-be unstable Batman may appear. But this was all knowledge that Nashton had acquired without their help, rendering their efforts wasted.

"You mean, you were the one behind the..."

"Wait. How is that even possible? You managed to snag control of the power grid, the distress signals, and, what? Everything within a mile radius? That's insane, Edward. You would have to have a jammer of completely unparalleled power to be able to pull something like that off."

Nashton smirked.

"Well, not necessarily a jammer, but it is something capable of doing all of that. And much more..."

Finally unlocking the briefcase, Nashton spun it around so that his operatives could see what lied inside. While neither had any preconceived notions of what it could've been, both found themselves more than a little disconcerted with the case's actual contents - it was a box. A seemingly normal, hexagonal wooden panelled box with some sort of raised markings decorating it. Nashton picked it up and stood, giving them an even closer look at the object in question.

"This, my esteemed colleagues, is one of the most revolutionary inventions of the twenty-first century. A virtual skeleton key to access any and all electronic signals that one wishes to bend to their will."

"It is called, appropriately, Tabula Rasa. It's original creator considered it something of a Pandora's Box, and even named it thus, but I figured upon my acquisition of it... why settle for such a cliché?"

Brown raised an eyebrow, looking at the main feature of the design - a gigantic, stylized question mark.

"What's with the logo?"

Riley brushed off Brown's question with a curt reply of her own.

"Nevermind that. Just where in the hell did you get your hands on something like that? And why are we just learning about this?"

Nashton sneered back at her for a moment.

"You're forgetting yourself, Riley. I trickle these developments to the two of you on a need-to-know basis. That was the deal, as I recall, when I selected you for field duty. The fact that I'm even presenting you with this much should be a sign of good faith, not the source of stirring up any further incertitude."

Riley went silent, as Brown inspected the box even further.

"I don't get it, boss. How does this thing work?"

Nashton smiled to himself, placing the Tabula Rasa back into it's case.

"In a manner far more complex than either of you would understand. But I assure you, I am the only authorized user of it at this point. There are a series of encryptions built into it's programming that rewrite themselves every three minutes, to avoid it being tampered with. And only I possess the master passcode."

Brown's confusion morphed into downright intrigue.

"Which you're gonna share with us, right?"

Nashton chuckled.

"Arthur, my friend, you wouldn't even know what to do with it if you tried. No, this is something that stays close to the chest and with me at all times. Not even my superiors are aware of this device's existence, given I that pilfered it off of a man who was going to try and use it in a bid of domestic terrorism. A failed but brilliant engineer who currently sits on death row for his many, many crimes."

Riley sat back, realizing what he was saying.

"So by using this, you're going off the reservation?"

Nashton shrugged, sitting back down.

"To a degree. But that was always to be the foregone conclusion of our time, here. The truth is, Peyton, that I've been personally assessing the situation for these past few weeks. I was told that Gotham City was a cesspool of overarching corruption and rampant criminal misconduct, but I don't think that's quite an accurate interpretation of how this town truly works. To be quite honest, I think that we're on the verge of discovering the rise of something entirely new. Something that The Batman has unwittingly ushered into existence."

Brown looked puzzled, but Riley was beginning to catch on.

"Extreme criminal personalities. Metahuman phenomena coupled with megalomania."

Nashton gave her a nod.

"More than I believe anyone is even aware of, at this point. But I've been using Tabula Rasa to tap into the private telecommunication feeds of some of the more prominent members of The Five Families. And Mr. Freeze's threat to The Batman, as I captured here..."

Pressing play on the remote, Riley and Brown turned to watch as Freeze stood over a weakened Batman, both brought to their breaking point after the end of a vicious battle.

"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."

"Isn't the least bit of any exaggeration. Falcone and the others don't know it yet, but everything that The Roman's ever worked for is about to be entirely undone. And it is, by my estimation, a masterstroke of chaos. Chaos that will undoubtedly send The Batman reeling into a trap that we simply need to set."

Riley thought to herself for a moment.

"If you have all of this power at your disposal, why not simply use it to find out who The Batman really is? Surely, there's some sort of digital trace that you can use. Some sort of satellite footage that tracks him to wherever he goes to hide. We could mount an assault on his base and end this right now."

Nashton sighed to himself, massaging the bridge of his nose.

"Do you really take me for a fool? I've already tried that. Multiple efforts made, none particularly fruitful. Whatever electronic relay that he implements to hide himself, I have to admit that it's quite effective. And I can't unwind the spool of whatever he's using if left I'm unsure of what to look for. Tabula Rasa doesn't work that way. It works off of hard data and known quantities, of which there is very little in regards to Batman. Besides, it will be of no consequence where he hides once we enact a plan to capture him in the midst of one of these bouts with a fellow costumed sycophant."

With a realization, Brown suddenly became concerned.

"What if Freeze is the end of it, though? There's nothing to guarantee these freaks are just gonna start popping out of the woodwork, right?"

With careful contemplation over how he was going to put the next few words, Agent Nashton sat back and brought his hands together.

"I don't think you quite grasp the gravity of the situation, Arthur. Based off of the intelligence that I've gathered, Freeze isn't talking about some mere gang war that will result in a bunch of mobsters fighting one another to gain absolute control of some territorial dispute. Comparatively, that would be a considerably low-stakes endeavor."

"What he means is a war between individuals like us... and individuals like him."

Gotham City, Wayne Tower
The Cave
11:00 PM

"Nora Fries is dead."

In between attempting to fix the damage inflicted on the suit's inner-circuitry, Alfred looks up from the workbench behind me with a curious gaze as I pull up the coroner's report on Freeze's apparently late wife. It leaves me out of sorts aswell, though for entirely different reasons. But according to hospital records and an obituary in The Gotham Gazette from five years ago, the woman that Freeze stormed Snyder Stadium to see hasn't been among the living for quite some time. She died of a rare but aggressive late stage cancer at the age of 36, after a successful run as a fashion model who specialized in snow-themed photoshoots and attire based off of the name. Which was a stage name, it seems. Her real name was Nora Fields-Schivel, which links her directly with the most likely candidate for Freeze's true identity: a geneticist formerly employed by Janus Technologies named Victor Schivel. Interestingly, he seemed to go by the alias of Victor Fries, given his wife's profession and level of relative fame.

It doesn't make any sense. I saw the conviction in Freeze's face and heard the desperation hidden in his voice. He was utterly convinced that Nora was still alive, and even more specifically, that she was to be the headlining runway model for the Starling Fashion Show. Looking through Mrs. Schivel's medical history, it seems as if Victor suggested a number of different experimental treatments to the doctors at Elliot Memorial - which they had to take seriously, given his credentials. One of the later treatments, in an act of apparent despair, involved putting his wife under cryogenic stasis and freezing her so that the cancer wouldn't advance beyond the curable stage. Pulling up any relevant information on Victor Schivel's time at Janus, my eyes suddenly meet a report that may alleviate the confusion.

Weeks before her death, Victor disappeared off of the face of the Earth after a lab explosion involving the mixing of a series of dangerous, not to mention illegal chemicals that had been found by police at the scene. This man was so dedicated to curing his wife that he must've been working late night shifts, turned to illegitimate means to continue his research, and suffered an accident when the chemicals became volatile. That may explain his current condition, as theoretically, no one should have survived this. But Schivel's body was never found. And after five years, he must have figured out a means to adapt to his condition in zero degree temperatures.

"How very tragic for him. Though that doesn't quite explain what the man was doing in holding an entire arena hostage for the benefit of the deceased."

"Schivel, or Fries, suffered his accident before his wife's death. It's entirely possible that despite the evidence to the contrary, he refused to accept the reality that she was ever gone. Especially if he wasn't there to witness it. And given our encounter, I'd say it's more than a little possible that such denial mixed with grief drew him to madness."

Alfred raises an eyebrow.

"My word. So you're saying that in his delusion, his wife is out there and he simply needs to find his lost love? Perhaps 'tragic' was something of an understatement."

I narrow my eyes at the screen, looking at an employee photo of the man Mr. Freeze once was. Eyes brimming with a sense of life that no longer exists. The man I fought was a man literally driven cold to emotion. His face didn't express much of anything beyond pure, unbridled apathy. Only when I provoked him with his wife did that exterior seem to crack, showing only rage. Even without the suit and cannon, it's clear that he's far too unstable of an individual to just remain free. I need to find him and bring him in so that he can recieve care at Arkham.

"Perhaps. But that doesn't make him any less dangerous, nor does it explain where he got the technology to become whatever it is that he's become."

Alfred silently nods, standing up from the workbench and removing his soldering goggles. Stepping forward, he places an object on the console next to me, prompting me to look over. A single, dented bullet ripped from the back of my cowl. My eyes shift away, knowing exactly who took the shot.

"On the subject of tragedies. It's truly a shame that this incident had to go and reveal Ms. Kyle's true allegiances. I was becoming rather fond of her, for all of the woman's snark. As I'm sure you were aswell, lad."

I remain silent. The truth is, I've been trying not to think about it. Selina and I built up a certain rapport that started as a means for me to work my way into the social scene of Gotham's elite. She was curious about me due to my status as the recently returned figurehead of the Wayne family dynasty, and I was curious about her because of who her father is. When it became a genuine friendship, there was apart of me that felt guilt over the circumstances under how we met, and my intentions for engaging with her. Now I know better. We were both putting on an act all along, with neither party knowing the full truth. It makes me question how I should approach any future interactions with her. Obviously, I can't let on that something's changed, as it would provoke questions that I can't answer. But to let her just waltz back into my life as if nothing has...

Clearly, I'm going to have to play into the role of billionaire playboy a bit harder than I have in the past. If she's to suspect nothing, I have to remain as clueless and dimwitted as she's always believed. Maybe even continue with the odd flirtation that we'd been carrying on, though I at least know now that it's never going to go any further than that. I can't bring myself to care for an unrepentant criminal, let alone a mobster. And while I'm now aware of Selina's duplicity, I'm still not entirely sure what role she plays amongst the Five Families. So until I learn more, I'm going to have to lean on playing coy in order to extrapolate more information.

"It's certainly a lesson in trust, I'll give you that."

Standing upright from the computer, I make my way over to the chamber that houses the few spare Batsuits that I've been assembling over the last six months. There are four that are still compatible with Ace's uplink, aswell as three prototype suits from when I originally started operating as Batman. They're barebones, simply being a series of bullet-strewn cloth and leather outfits hiding armor plates that I used to manually have to strap on, but they did their job at the time. Passing them as I make my way to one of the more recent spares, I open the glass casing and begin to remove pieces.

"Alfred, have I made a difference?"

He turns to me as he approaches the work desk, paused, genuinely thrown by the question.

"Almost certainly, Bruce. As I told you following your recent hospitalization, you..."

"No, not as The Batman. As... myself. The man that my parents wanted me to be."

Alfred is at a loss for words as I turn back to him. He isn't sure how to answer the question.

"It's difficult to say, lad. You haven't necessarily gone to great lengths to put yourself out there, I'll admit, but you've been helping wherever you can as a financial figure. As I'm sure Harvey Dent would attest, given your contributions to his campaign."

Shaking my head as I throw the cape and bodysuit over my arm, I turn back around.

"Maybe. But I'm starting to think that it isn't good enough. My encounter with Freeze brought me close to death. Closer than I've ever been in my life, and I had a bit of a moment. A passing spark of clarity, I guess. And I realized that for as much as I've been doing in the mask, Bruce Wayne's been coming up short as a man that the people of Gotham can look to."

Stopping myself, I close my eyes and sigh.

"Even if I acted otherwise before, I once hoped that Batman could eventually be a symbol of virtue for this city. Someone that the people could see as a figure that inspires hope. But with the choices I've had to make lately, I don't think that's ever going to happen. The more that I do out there, the more that people fear me. And if I can't salvage my reputation as one half of the equation, maybe it's time that I started doing more with the other half."

Looking back at Alfred, I notice that he's not disagreeing with anything that I'm saying. He's been a proponent for making more use out of my family name ever since I arrived back in Gotham, but he's done a hell of a job in hiding it whenever I've brushed that concern off in the past. Maybe it's just a temporary change in my mindset, but I've given it alot of thought over the past few hours.

"If Batman is to be their enemy, Bruce Wayne should be their ally. The city needs at least one figure to inspire good."

Without saying it so much as indicating his pride with the way that he resumes his work on the damaged suit, Alfred seemingly agrees. Pulling the cowl from the mannequin and placing it along with the other items, I push the glass casing back into place and catch a glimpse of my own reflection in the place of where the empty Batsuit once sat. Maybe it's a change that's been a long time coming. A billionaire benefactor is one thing, but one could do Gotham alot of good if they were out there to be seen doing it.

"Of course, I'll need your help in navigating that performance. I'm not exactly good with crowds unless I'm beating on them..."

Alfred chuckles to himself.

"Your social diction could use a bit of work. That much is true. But I'm glad that you're finally starting to see some sense, lad. If any of this is going to work, there has to be a balance. And I believe that you have it in you to strike that balance, even more than you realize. This need to give the people an aspirational figure is something you could stand to hone in on, and it doesn't always have to be an act. You simply need to learn to hide your anger whenever you address your honest feelings."

Nodding, I make my way into the private area of the suit chamber to begin changing. Within minutes, I emerge fully suited up, sans the cowl that's now draped around the top of my shoulders. With my philanthropic intentions spelled out, the work that needs to be done tonight has to resume it's immediate priority. Bruce Wayne may have a ways to go before he can do any good, but my alter-ego has a mission at hand. Freeze is out there, somewhere, and it doesn't take a genius to realize that it's going to be a location that emits an unusual amount of cold temperatures for this time of season. Ace should be able to track that easily enough, as soon as I pay a visit to Jason Todd to get a new version of him uploaded into this suit.

"We'll talk more about this tomorrow morning. I'm planning an all-nighter."

Alfred smirks.

"Are there any other types of nights for you?"

I don't even give him the satisfaction of a glare.

"Maybe not. But I've got a lead on two immediate threats to Gotham that supercede the Five Families, for once, and I'm not about to let either slip through the cracks."

Utilizing the Batcomputer, I pull up a signature of the pheromone extract that I traced to Poison Ivy. While Ace puts in the work of scanning for Freeze's hiding spot, I can go to work in finally tracking down the metahuman that nearly killed me through Jessica Jones. A woman of Ivy's considerable power is even less suited to be left unchecked, if she's truly capable of controlling the minds of others against their own will. The only problem with either Freeze or Ivy is that I don't know how I'm going to be able to subdue them once I find them. With Freeze, it may simply be a matter of catching him whenever he's not in the armor.

Ivy's another story. Obviously, I know how she's able to infect her victims. But protecting myself against an unknown extract made up of plants and toxins that don't originate to Gotham natively is going to be something of a challenge. It's not like I have an antidote at the ready in my belt for something as completely unprecedented as superhuman control of pheromones.

"Is The Batcycle back online?"

Alfred points to the area of The Cave where it usually sits, indicating that it's been brought back from Waynetech's labs and re-assembled. After Oracle originally breached my security, I had thought to keep it offline. But after their help in keeping me alive during the fight with Freeze, I've considered their interference more tolerable - to an extent. I'm still going to have Ace be on alert for any new activity within the system, but Oracle has earned at least a trial period of earning some trust. After losing my faith in Selina, it's not as if I couldn't use another ally. I just have to be more cautious.

"Keep a watch on the comms. I may need your expertise out there, tonight."

"As always, I remain entirely at your disposal, lad."

Pulling the cowl back over my face, I turn and begin to head out.

"At least there's someone I can rely on..."

Shutting Selina's betrayal out of my mind, I mount the cycle and hear the engine blast to life.

Time to go hunting.
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Hidden 5 yrs ago 5 yrs ago Post by Sep
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Sep Migs Mayfield - Core

Member Seen 0-24 hrs ago





Iris blinked as the flash of lightning had burned it's way into her eyeballs. She picked herself up off the ground, as she saw Barry on the ground not moving. Groaning as she pushed herself to her feet "No..." Raising herself onto her hands and knees she started dragging herself towards him, pushing her way up onto her feet. Her body ached in protest as she pushed herself to her feet, walking towards Barry when she noticed Zoom standing opposite Barry. Anger surged through her as the speed came rushing back into her body, punching him hard in the jaw she grabbed him by the chest. "What did you do?"

Zoom just chuckled, it sent chills to her very core. There was nothing more unsettling than having an opponent laugh in your face under threat. "I made things the way they were supposed to be-" he brought his arms up and pushed out, breaking her hold on him. He pulled away as she turned to go after him. "-All my years of planning-" He ducked below a punch, which Iris over-committed to and almost tumbled. He took that time to move behind her in an attempt to grab her "-and it was almost undone-" his desire to monologue alerted her to his presence behind him, twisting on the ball of her left food she swung round with a jab that connected with him. He spat blood as he twisted with the punch, not fighting the change of direction. "-all the years-" She ducked below a blow, blocking the follow through with both her arms before her face "-all the planning-" he chuckled -"all the suffering caused."

She choked as he managed to grab her by the neck, raising her off the ground. She tried to kick him, grasp his hand but she couldn't loosen the grip he had on her. "You almost undid everything." He jabbed his arm straight through her leg, she screamed in pain as she felt it go limp. Dropping her onto her feet she fell, crumpled into the ground.

"Why do you hate me so much?"

He laughed at that.

"I don't hate you. I hate him-" He cast his thumb in the direction of Barry. "-I hate the Flash."

"The Flash?"

"Yes, you see where I come from in history. You're just a reporter, the most famous thing you ever did was Marry the Fastest Man alive." The look of shock that crossed her face betrayed her. "Yes, where I come from the history books call you Iris West-Allen. Shame you won't live to see the wedding day, it's something spectacular." He paced as his thoughts unravelled. "I used to be obsessed with the Flash, I wanted to be the Flash. I spent years on research, when destiny intervened. It gave me the uniform of the Flash, and with that I gained my speed."

She tried to pull herself to her feet as he moved closer to Barry, he merely ran at her again, placing a foot on her back to keep her chest pressed against the ground. She ground as she struggled against him. "Destiny is rarely what you think it will be though. I acted a bit heroic in my time, before discovering this ability to travel in time and you know what I learnt." He pushed down on her, leaning to get his head closer without removing his foot from her back. "It's all useless. The Flash was weak, I tried to make him stronger and he stopped me. Cast me back to my own time, and by then-" He chuckled. "-I discovered my new destiny."
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Hidden 5 yrs ago Post by Hound55
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Hound55 Create-A-Hero RPG GM, Blue Bringer of BWAHAHA!

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Marc wandered into the dining room like he had all the time in the world. Samuels greeted him and told him that dinner would still be a little way off, as DuChamp had requested a complicated meal which the chef was all too willing to accommodate him with. “Nedda,” Samuels had said, “loves the challenge.”

Changing the subject, Marc cut to the chase and asked his direct question.

“How exactly did Mr Grant hear about me, might I ask? Did he have any kind of research material, referrals or other information about me? If I could familiarize myself with it, maybe I could answer any questions he may have about me when he gets back from New York.”

Samuels smiled, no doubt pleased to help his employer. “Absolutely sir, I’ll bring those right away.”

With that, the shorter man scurried away to fetch the data whilst Spector conferred with Duchamp and Marlene, who were laughing together, before regaining their composure as they saw Marc approach.

“You two seem like you’re getting awfully chummy. What have you been talking about?”

“Oh, nothing much.” Jean Paul answered. Marlene laughed.

“Nothing much, huh?” Marc sideyed the pair of them. “You know it’s a bit of a dick move if you’re telling stories about me to her, which I don’t even remember.”

“Oui, Marc. Fair enough. I assure you in the future I’ll tell you the stories at the same time as Marlene so you can both enjoy the time you got blackout drunk in Thailand and--”

“...yep, I don’t want to know where this story is going either! New rule: If I don’t remember it and it’s embarrassing, it didn’t happen.”

Marlene laughed and grabbed his forearm. “It’s OK, Marc. It was PG.”

Samuels returned with a manilla folder marked “Spector, Marc” and handed ito him, before quickly moving away to check on events in the kitchen.

“I’ll tell you both one thing for free, though. This place, that guy--” he pointed where Samuels just was, “--creepy as fuck.”

“Oh don’t be like that.” Marlene said.

“He’s been treating us just fine.” Asserted DuChamp.

In a hushed tone, Spector brought the other two together. “I’ve been looking around this place. There’s some creepy room out back that looks like it was made for Travis Bickle.”

“Oh, sure. When I say Pepa Bonafe you look at me like I have two heads, but when it comes to ze Scorsese…”

“And the whole side of this mansion is artificially done up to look like inner city urban apartments.” Spector finished.

“Well, what exactly are you accusing them of, Marc?”

“Well--- I don’t know. But doesn’t that strike you as weird?!”

“Well, if what you’re saying’s true, then yes, I suppose it’s weird. But the man’s clearly got a level of wealth that would detach anyone from normality somewhat. It doesn’t mean he’s doing anything bad.”

“I’m not saying anyone is necessarily ‘bad’. I’m just saying this whole situation weirds me out.”

“Anyway, I just Asked Jeeves for the material his boss has on me. Maybe we can get a sense of what exactly he wants me for off of that, and if nothing else maybe it might tug at some memories.” Spector held out the folder. “Anyway, couldn’t hurt.”

Marc opened the folder, there was a large photograph of him in his marine uniform paperclipped to a basic profile document that ran through his name, age, rank and US Marine Corps history. There were other photographs of him on tour in various locations within but Marc focused on scouring the basic information first. Hoping something, anything, might jog his memory. Then it hit him like a bullet to the brain.

Samuels walked up from behind and whispered into Marc’s ear.

“Marc Spector. Maa Kheru.”

Spector’s head shot back like he had an electric current shot up his spine. His eyes flickered like he was having a seizure, his mouth was agape and he dropped to the ground.

“Samuels! What did you do?!” DuChamp shouted. Marlene stood by shocked, before regaining control of her senses and trying to roll Marc onto his side, and ensuring his airway was clear and that he wouldn’t swallow his own tongue.

The Frenchman swept a solid ornate candlestick up from the dining table and brandished it threateningly.

“Samuels! What have you done?!?”

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In a space between places the man in white fell. He landed with a solid bump, despite the desert sands. He was in a perfectly white suit, tailored immaculately as if by the gods themselves. With an all white face as well, marked with a crescent on his forehead that denoted his patron, he picked himself up from the sand, dusted himself off and adjusted his suit. He began to walk.

The traveller in white walked the cosmic sands until he came upon another. One with the head of a jackal took his hand.

And just as Khonshu would assist many in finding their path, the jackal-headed Anubis led the Traveller in the white suit to exactly where he needed to be.

There were a set of scales, but no marketplace. A ship which sailed the cosmic winds with an audience of deities. A beast. And the scribe.

Anubis walked to the scales and removed the pure white feather of Ma’at. He asked the Traveller in White for a request so politely that he could never refuse, and with permission granted, tore the Traveller’s head off and rested it on one side of the scales where the feather had once been.

Anubis called and Khonshu brought forth what had been requested.

It was a small doll in military fatigues. It writhed between the grasp of both gods’ touch. It ran on base desire and impulse. Libido, violence and instant gratification.

Anubis held the doll at an arm’s distance. Ammut licked her crocodile lips.

Anubis dropped the doll onto the scales, and then set to work adjusting the scales.

The sides reached balance. Thoth nodded his ibis head to the god of death. He picked the head up off of the scales and threw it back to the Traveller in White who caught it comfortably. Anubis threw the doll to Khonshu who approached his avatar. His chosen one.

The Traveller re-attached his own head. To do otherwise would be impolite in the company of gods. Khonshu approached.

The god of the Moon grabbed the Traveller in White by the back of his head, his head snapped back as he screamed silently. His mouth opened from the god’s shockingly strong grip. The god held the figure above the Traveller’s gaping maw, the instant seemed to last for a minute. The fall seemed to last forever.

Spector felt himself being consumed. He felt himself consume. He once again had form.

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The Frenchman picked up a solid ornate candlestick and brandished it threateningly.

“Samuels! What have you done?!?”

Spector coughed, hacked and rolled onto one knee. Holding an open palm out, reaching for his friend to wait.

“Exactly what I told him to do, Frenchie.”

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Hidden 5 yrs ago Post by Supermaxx
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Supermaxx dumbass

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The Blue Beetle stars in...The Runaway: Issue #12

Previous Issue


The chamber doors rolled open, and a flood of off-color mist poured inside. Hissing hydraulics rang out in an ear-piercing chorus as Jaime's containment room was revealed. It was a massive space, akin to a warehouse in scope, all of it empty save for the machine that dominated the center. Vents scattered about the concrete walls and ceiling unleashed great gusts of a strange chemical fog that mingled near the floor and lazily floated about as it filled the space.

Paco glanced down at the rubber gloves he'd been ordered to wear. A thin piece of material kept...whatever those chemicals were from touching his bare flesh. He had to wonder what would happen if Brenda had failed to properly secure the suit's zipper. He didn't know what exposure would do to him. His imagination crawled into it's darkest depths, conjuring up images of melting skin and rampant tumors. It sent a tingle rushing down his spine. Paco was forced to shake it off, focusing instead on navigating toward the monolith that was being used to shackle and bind his friend.

Jaime hadn't noticed them yet. He was still shivering and shaking like a man possessed, thrashing about with all of the fury of a demon in an attempt to break free from the suspended pod. For all of the blue-skinned monster's violent rage, it was utterly and completely silent. Where Paco expected contempt-laden screams and animalistic howls there came not but the steady sound of Reyes's breathing. It was an unnerving incongruence between the raging of the body and the inhuman quiet of the man inside.

Paco and Brenda moved side by side, approaching the mechanical pillar as cautiously as they could. Rolling bouts of mist brushed passed them and billowed up in the air, dancing and spreading like clouds in the wind. The hiss of the air pumps and the squeaking of their boots against the floor was the only sound that filled Paco's ears aside from his own shallow breaths.

"I- I don't like this." He muttered, wanting so desperately to turn and run. His feet disagreed with his cowardice, however; and onward he pressed.

"I'm not exactly chomping at the bit about it either, Pac." Brenda spoke her response, moving ahead of her larger and more physically imposing friend. "But I'm not leaving him."

The intercom system clicked into life, blaring out a moment of static as the old mechanisms whirred to life. "Anddd...stop. You're in position." Their guide, kidnapper and Jaime's only hope ordered, a grotesque sort of enthusiasm leaking into his every word. "Alright, see if you can't get his attention. Once you have him, we can begin stage two."

Brenda took in a deep breath, blowing it out slowly through her nose as her eyes rose up toward the parasite's mask. It was still turned downward, apparently unaware of their presence. She cleared her throat. "Jaime? Can you hear me?"


Jaime Reyes impaled a woman upon his blade, blood spraying forth from her rapidly dying body and onto his armor. He fought to keep from gagging as he removed his weapon from her chest cavity and let her fall away to the side, joining the rest of the horde he had already cut down. "Dios...mío..." He heaved, exhaustion flooding through his veins. "There's...too many of them." His arms felt heavy. They barely responded to his desires, sluggishly thrashing out in the general direction of encroaching enemies with all of the grace of a drunkard.

He had to retreat to the Temple of Derath'ath Machlan'n to escape the infested legions swarming the rest of the cyclopean city. Tens of thousands of natives intermingled with just as many humans, all of them crawling with the Red. Thick streams of that crimson, pulsating stuff swam through their flesh. Malignant tumors burst forth from their orifices, awash in puss and blood. Each looked like a shambling, rotting corpse that was being held together by the tendrils of the Red that sprung out of their bodies.

Even within the sacred walls of the temple, Jaime wasn't safe. They had flooded through the entrance in the hundreds, squeezing passed one another in some kind of race to devour Reyes whole. He was forced to fallback further and further within it's labyrinthian, twisting halls, cutting them down by the dozen only for another dozen to take their place.

He didn't understand what was happening.

This wasn't supposed to be.

O'erlanii was a peaceful world. It's oceans were a bright, bubbling blue; full of so much life. It's people- the A'askvarii- were all pacifists who hadn't waged war in over a hundred thousand years. What had brought this monster here? Why was he not able to cleanse this filth and protect this world?


"Who said that?!" Reyes spun around, turning his back on the encroaching horde for a precious few seconds. "Is there someone alive in here?! I can protect you-"


A tentacle from one of the A'askavarii found it's way around his throat while he was turned around. The pressure was immense. Reyes thrashed and fought against the hold, swinging his blade wildly back at the tendril threatening to choke the life out of him. He turned and fought, scratching, cutting and stabbing as he wheezed and huffed. It constricted further as other arms reached forward to subdue the planet's guardian, dragging him down through the water and toward the temple's floor.

He raged and raged, fighting back against the darkness that encroached on his vision.


The containment pod's glass cracked, though Brenda swore she never saw Jaime hit it. "Jaime!" She spoke louder, taking a step forward toward the towering machine that held him so high in the air. "It's me. It's Brenda." Did he recognize her? Could Jaime even hear her anymore? He didn't seem at all aware of his surroundings.

"What's happening to him?" Paco asked, his eyes glued on his best friend.

"His blood pressure is spiking." Dr. Caulder's joviality faded away, replaced by shades of concern as he read off Reyes's vital signs. "He's not breathing-" The sound of his old, spindly fingers dancing across the keyboard sounded through the microphone. "-I'm lowering the pod."

The monolith buzzed and whirred, the computer's commands reaching it's gears as the capsule containing Reyes began to descend toward the ground. "Both of you need to keep your distance, is that understood? Right now that thing is not your friend, and there's no telling if it will lash out or not." With a few more strokes of the keys, the cracked glass surrounding the pod began to peel away, exposing Reyes to the mist that now dominated a large portion of the room.

"Come on, come on..." The doctor growled underneath his breath, "I know this will work. I know it."

"Uhh, he doesn't sound too confident!" Paco gulped. He took several steps backward as instructed, wanting to give the homicidal alien a healthy berth.

Brenda remained planted where she was, not but a handful of feet away from the creature. "Come on, Jaime, fight it. Fight it!"

"Wh-what are you doing?! Get away from him- he'll kill you!" Paco pleaded, waving his arms and motioning desperately for her to join him. She didn't budge.

The chitinous beast convulsed violently and uncontrollably. It's mouth dropped open as tiny, inhuman mewling whispered up from it's throat, dripping with pain. The mist seemed to gravitate toward Jaime immediately, flowing toward him and covering him in a shroud of the stuff. It blocked Brenda's view for the most part, but she could hear it. She could hear the sound of it's hide bubbling and popping under the affects of the doctor's chemical concoction.

"Commencing stage two." With the press of a button, Caulder released the restraints holding Reyes in place. "It's up to you now." He sighed. "Don't bleed on the equipment too much if this doesn't work."

"You told us this would work!" Paco screamed up at the intercom.

"Both of you: shut up." Brenda snapped, holding a hand back toward Paco. Her gaze never left the cloud of chemical fog dancing around where Jaime was. The sizzling of that monster's flesh was growing louder by the second. Each pop was already nearly thundering.

That was when the screeching started.
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Hidden 5 yrs ago Post by Hound55
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Hound55 Create-A-Hero RPG GM, Blue Bringer of BWAHAHA!

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He had his friend back. Of sorts.

Jean Paul DuChamp watched as Spector heaped more food onto his plate for the third time. Marlene looked on stunned. It was less the fact that he wanted thirds than the aggressive vigour with which he seized it. As if nothing on earth mattered more.

Samuels and Nedda, the cook, stood on and watched expressionless.

This wasn’t like him either. At first he was relieved his friend seemed to have his memories back. In the days prior he’d seemed like a blank slate, but one who seemed like a sponge to new information. An empty vessel looking to be filled. Now the only thing he seemed to be interested in having fill him was Nedda’s perfectly cooked roast ducks, potatoes and complementary puree.

Jean Paul could no longer take the awkwardness.

“S’il vous plait, Please, the pair of you. You’ve done too much already. Sit and eat with us.”

Nedda pulled up a chair at the ample dining table, whilst Samuels went and got the crockery and cutlery for two extra places. He quickly returned and sat, and the five ate a meal in relative silence as the newest guest Marc Spector stuffed his face and devoured his food with his hands.

Marlene slid over and whispered to DuChamp. “He’s not normally like this, is he?”

Jean Paul responded between gritted teeth. “No Marlene, no he definitely is not.”
Samuels eyes lifted above his focus on his plate, he offered one simple short sentence which was of no comfort whatsoever and wouldn’t be in any of the other times he would repeat it. “All in the fullness of time. With some things there must be patience. With this, there is no other way.” He then returned to his food, politely eating with the appropriate knife and fork.

Marlene ate her meal in thoughtful quiet. Marc had just expressed his concern about this place and this man who was eating amongst them. Then he did something. Brought on a seizure, maybe? And when Marc came to he was suddenly completely trusting of Samuels and his entire demeanour had changed.

As Marc had said before. The whole thing was creepy, as was this Samuels.

Perhaps in the morning she’d get Jean Paul and Marc out of the house and go and stay with her brother. Maybe even tonight if she could somehow find a decent excuse.

An arm reached across the table, Marc was reaching for fourths. Licking the fingers of his other hand all the while.

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Flint sat in his car across the road and watched the werewolf.

It was agitated. SWAT had been in charge for the last hour and as far as he could tell they’d done very little but piss it off. Sharpshooters had targeted it and all they achieved was dislodging it from it’s original place in a relatively secure part of the police cordon. It took to the rooftops and leapt along several blocks. Causing the SWAT leader to reconsider tactics before they flush it right out into a populated part of the city.

“Maybe you need silver bullets.” Flint had offered sullenly, picking his teeth and spitting on the sidewalk.

“Believe it or not, we only get supplied with standard police issue. It’s almost like the city doesn’t expect to be besetted by mystical fucking creatures, Flint.” the SWAT leader replied.

“Dunno why, with this country goin’ to Hell in a handbasket at the moment.” a SWAT grunt chimed in.

“Maybe next financial year!” Threw in another.

“What else takes down werewolves?” A new SWAT boot asked.

“They don’t like stakes or wooden crosses, isn’t that something?”

“That’s vampires.”

“SHUT THE FUCK UP!” The SWAT leader fired in. His command was fast turning into a committee meeting for the mystical monsters.

“Here’s what we’re going to do… Air support chopper’s gonna keep him lit up. Sharpshooters are going to set up here and here. With two shots we’re going to turn him back to where he first was… Then we’re going to maintain perimeter and hold him in.”

“So you’re going to change things back to how they were before you came in guns blazing and pissed it off without a plan.”

“Fuck off, Flint. Nobody asked you. In fact, this is SWAT jurisdiction, are you going to move back or will I have you removed?”

Flint eyeballed the SWAT leader and then looked back at his car.

“Sure. Should have a pretty good view from back there anyway. Only worry is I might not be able to hear the Benny Hill music while you clowns are doing your thing from over there.”

“Fuck off, Flint.” He repeated.

Flint walked to his car, throwing a half-hearted salute as he walked away. “Sure thing. The man with the plan!”

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Hidden 5 yrs ago 5 yrs ago Post by Roman
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Roman King of Dirt

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III. Dinner Date

Matthew took a deep breath as he and Kate stood in the square outside the courthouse, having been ushered out by the police when they had secured the scene. Vincent Donatella, the defendant that Spencer and Murdock had hoped to pressure into spilling some big secrets, had been discovered dead by his mob lawyer in the defense chamber, hanging from the light fixture by his own tie. An obvious suicide, the police said. Obviously suspicious, Murdock thought. The corpse, and the room, had reeked of that cologne-and-leather combination that Matt now knew was the hallmark of the mysterious gentleman he'd glimpsed earlier that day, and that hadn't made a single appearance before or since. The man was obviously suspect. Probably mob-connected. Probably higher than Vincent had been. Matthew had no doubt that the accused had indeed hung himself; but there was no way it had been an independent decision. But regardless of who was responsible, there was only one outcome: a dead man, and a dead lead with him.

The trial had been thrown out and a new investigation now begun; Murdock and Spencer went through their questioning and witness statements, as did the mob lawyer. Kate had fled the scene to her preferred bar the second she'd been granted release by the pair of detectives assigned to the scene; Matt had hung around, ostensibly awaiting the arrival of Foggy and Karen, but surreptitiously eavesdropping and gathering information as best he could. The uniform cops knew very little, only basic details and what perimeter to keep around the crime scene as forensics had their way with it; the detectives were either dumb or playing as such, their questions meandering and aimless. Across the square, Matt could hear the two of them muttering between themselves, pondering about where the line for 'bare minimum' rested for such a case - it was clear neither of them thought there was much investigation needed for such an open-and-shut case. The cynic in Matt just dryly assumed they were lazy and poor detectives. The Devil in Matt wondered who had paid them to think as such.

He smelt Karen and Foggy approaching before he heard their footsteps and he waited until their voices were within reasonable earshot before he turned and smiled, waving awkwardly. Karen waved back and then blushed, and Foggy chuckled.
"Thank you for coming, you two. Foggy, I'm sorry to pull you out of the office again."
Foggy scoffed and punched Matt lightly on the arm. "Shut it, Murdock. You know I'm only practicing my quarters game in there most days. Marianne never gives me anything when you've got something big on, you know that."
Matt sighed. "And I'm sorry about that, too. Kate dressed me down for involving you today, and she was right to, though not for the reasons she thinks. I shouldn't involve you if it's jepoardising your career."
"Don't worry about my career, man. Cum Laude, remember? Marianne might not make me partner in the next five years, but she's not firing me either." Foggy put a hand on Matt's shoulder to reassure him, and Matt nodded. "Plus they pay me whether I'm working a trial or not, so it all works out at about the same amount of drinking anyway. Speaking of...?"
"Yes!" Karen interjected, enthusiasm in her voice. "I rang Kate on the way over to ask about post-trial cleanup and she's neck-deep already - probably drinking away her anger - so if both my bosses are drunk I've got free reign."
"Now that is courtroom thinking right there." Foggy quipped. "I'd be careful, Matt, Karen's a lot prettier than you. Kate might find herself working with a new ADA."

They all chuckled, and Matt considered it - but 100 meters behind him and to the left, in an oft-overlooked alcove in the exterior of the courthouse building, he had been listening to the distinctive tick tick of a Patek Phillipe model 5327G watch, and had caught a whiff of a particular cologne. They had lowered their voices and were talking politely and nonchalantly, but there was no mistaking; this was the mysterious man Matthew had last witnessed leaving the defense chamber, and here he was again, post-crime, privately discussing a seemingly inane matter with the mob lawyer.

"Some terrible rain today, I hear; though not a cloud in sight?"
"There's been a mild shower uptown, but it's cleared up nicely. Should be sunny days."

"How lovely. I do appreciate optimism when I see it. Still, pragmatism has its virtues."
"You'd be forgiven for doing what you had to the way things are goin' these days."

"And one must do what they need to to get by. It can be difficult out there by yourself."
"What if I found myself needin' some friends?"

"I would find yourself a good bar; I find companionship flows like water, where alcohol is involved."
"Any reccomendations?"

"34th and Lexington, downtown. Ask for a house special, with a sour twist. They'll get you what you need."
"Thanks. Sounds like a good place. I'll have to check it out."

"You're very welcome. Have a wonderful night. Best of luck to you."

They parted, and Matt took a private moment to internalize the address and process the conversation. Innocuous, even with context, but a subtext barely masked below the surface. He was brought back by Foggy giving him a light shove. He'd been out for a few seconds, focused elsewhere.

"Sorry, Foggy. I'd love to, but I can't; previous arrangements with El. She's forcing me to take her to dinner."
Foggy shook his head, but smiled at the same time. Karen looked away slightly.
"No worries, man. I'm sure she really bent your arm on that one. You need a cab?"
"No, you two go ahead and enjoy your afternoon, evening, night - wherever you end up. I'm going to walk back to the apartment and freshen up. I could do with clearing my head after today."
"Yeah, I bet." Karen said, compassion in her tone. "Out of the blue, that one. What a tragedy. You know he had a daughter?"
Foggy took Karen by the arm. "I'm sure we're all aware. We'll see you later Matt; call if you need us to uh, 'rescue' you from your hostage dinner."

Matt laughed and waved again as they walked away arm-in-arm towards the local favourite, then turned away and began walking in the opposite direction. He reached the street and walked south, the sounds of the city - footsteps, chatter, engines, birds - painting the world around him, each noise exploding out from its source in maroon eruptions in his mind and drenching its immediate surrounding in lines and edges, carving out the shapes of buildings, cars, and people from the blackness that lay just behind it. The heat on his skin felt like blurred auras of the things around him; moving, throbbing blobs of engine blocks as the pistons exploded petrol over and over, every person a warm presence in a very literal sense, balls of heat brushing past him on all sides. The city oozed and pulsed and Matt felt every inch of it. He shared his lungs with it and it breathed with him, almost for him. He could sense the pulse of Hell's Kitchen; feel it through the soles of his shoes, smell it in the air, hear it surrounding him. A city's heartbeat, thumping and thudding and throbbing through every fibre of Matt's being - and in his core, he could feel the venom poisoning his city's heart, the corruption coursing through the streets. The courthouse was not exempt, and Matthew had been a fool to believe it could be. No more. Not again. He couldn't allow the men who hid in shadows to harm the innocent any longer. The Devil would bring their punishment.

Matthew headed home.


He had completed a cursory sweep of his apartment when he'd returned home, and found it empty, Elektra having left shortly after Matthew, and clearly still out. Certain he'd been alone, he had opened a hidden compartment beneath his bedroom floor, wherein he had stashed the Devil; and then he was out into the early evening, the sun setting on his back as he lept across rooftops and dropped down walls, testing the retractable wire in his batons as he went. He made it eight blocks before the cellphone on his belt buzzed, and he paused, ducking low and pushing himself up against the rooftop water tank as he undid the clasps of his helmet and removed it with one hand and fetched the phone from its pouch with the other. He pressed a button on the side of the device, and a quiet, robotic monotone spoke the single word, 'ELEKTRA'. Matt swore underneath his breath.

"Hi, honey." He said, wincing. He hoped she couldn't hear it in his voice, but he was bad at lying to her.
"Am I to assume I am dining alone, tonight?"
"Oh god, El, I com-"
"-pletely forgot? This is far from the first time. The wine is quite good here, you know."
"Today's trial, El, it didn't go exactly to-"
"Plan? No, I hear it didn't. You're mourning a tragic loss?"
Oh, god save him.
"I'm sorry babe, Kate has got me-"
"Kate also thinks the wine here is rather agreeable."

There was a pause that neither of them felt comfortable filling. Matt could hear Kate's wry, wine-fuelled laugh in the background of the call, and more importantly he could not hear Elektra as she quietly seethed.
"I'm...busy. I've got to get this done. I'm sorry, El."

There was a pause.

"That's it?" She asked, with more than a hint of defeat about her tone. Matt's disappointments had long since passed incredulity.
"It's important."
"More important than this?"
Another pause. Matt heard Elektra sigh.
"Don't answer that." She said, and then hung up. Matt swore and stood, punching the water tank hard, leaving his hand against the wall to feel the ripples of the resevoir inside bouncing off themselves before calming back to still water. He turned his helmet over and over in his hands, feeling the curvature, pushing his thumbs down on the tips of the horns. This was important. The Devil was important. What he could accomplish, was important.

More important than Matthew Murdock's happiness? He asked himself.

This is Matthew Murdock's happiness. The horns answered back.

He put his helmet back on and took off running. The sun set on the Devil, and he leapt into the night.
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Hidden 5 yrs ago Post by Hound55
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Hound55 Create-A-Hero RPG GM, Blue Bringer of BWAHAHA!

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With the meal over, the three friends gathered in a lounge room with a massive TV.

Marc licked his fingers again. Jean Paul looked on in disgust.

“I’m starting to get the distinct feeling Marc was onto something, just before-- THAT happened.” Jean Paul started.

“Why are you talking about me like I can’t hear you?”

“Do you remember what you were talking about before the meal, Marc?”

Marc rocked back in his chair. “Don’t worry about it, sweetcheeks. I was talking about shit I didn’t know anything about. I’m a’right now. Don’t worry about it.”

“Sweetcheeks?!” Marlene stood up and crossed her arms in front of herself in anger.

“It’s all OK. Samuels and Nedda are OK. This place is fine. I’ve been here before. If Samuels tells you to make yourself at home, make yourself at home.”

With that, Marc grabbed the remote and turned the television on. He hit the buttons with the intention of selecting a channel amongst the movie package, but through an error put it on the evening news.

“--where SWAT have now pinned down the animal on the rooftops in our own Lincoln Park. Police have advised local residents to stay indoors and away from doors and windows.--”

Marc raised the remote to change the channel.

“--So far the death toll is at 8, with a further dozen wounded innocent civilians.”

Marc’s left brow twitched. He inhaled sharply.

“Good God, that’s horrible!” Marlene exclaimed.

“Police have still publicly refused to speculate on the nature of the creature with the press. But we have live interviews of survivors with our own Denise Taylor… Denise?”

Marc got to his feet and left the room without a word.

“He--he was like a bear crossed with, like a giant wolf or something!”

“He? Are you sure it wasn’t a she?”

“Well, yeah. Pretty sure. He was wearing busted up cheap men’s jeans after all…”

“Je-- what?”

Marlene and Jean Paul heard a loud metallic clanking sound. Samuels ran into the room.

“Where is he?!”


“Marc Spector!”

“Calm down, he probably just went to the bathroom or something. He’s probably feeling messed up after what you did to him...” Marlene answered bitterly.

“What I di-- I didn’t do anything to him tha--”

Samuels looked at the television.

“--I don’t care what the police say. It was a goddamn werewolf. Sure as you’re standing in front of me!”

“Shit. How many?” Samuels rubbed his forehead and grabbed the bridge of his nose.

“How many what?”

“How many did they say died?”

“8. With another dozen wounded.”

“And they said 'innocents', right? Shit. Come on, we’re going for a drive.”

Below the level of the house, a white hang glider flew out of the cliff face, seemingly through bare rock. As a figure dressed all in white caught the updrafts, before turning back around on a heading towards Lincoln Park. Its wings shaped like a crescent as it seemingly hung in the air on the turn.

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Hidden 5 yrs ago Post by HenryJonesJr
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The city is an absolute mess as I swing over it. There's so many cop cars illuminating the streets, you'd think the entire city was having an America-themed rave. I can hear gunshots echo through the air as I make my way into Manhattan, and I can tell the Silk Cartel is pushing its way towards the upper echelon of the Maggia power structure. Well, the remaining upper echelon after the Punisher got to them.

The Maggia is the old money of the New York crime community. They are the first to ever set up shop in the city. They were here before the Kingpin, and they probably figure they'll be here after him too. While most gangs are usually centered on the fringes of cities, the Maggia have been here long enough to have roots in Manhattan. They're the sophisticated criminal. They're the ones that think they're better than everyone else. Good for them, but now their hubris has brought a gang war into the heart of New York City.

From below me, I see a strike team of Silk Cartel soliders blow a hole in the side of a bank, which I can only assume means Maggia money is being head there. I don't really want to waste my time stopping the guys robbing a bank when I'm sure worse things are going down around town. Unfortunately, I have absolutely no idea what the plan is for the cartel, and the only way I'm gonna figure that out is by getting some quality one-on-one time with some of their goons.

Here goes nothing.

I let go of a webline at the bottom of my arc, rocketing myself towards the gash in the side of the building. When I'm within range, I swing myself through the opening, slamming my feet into one of the bank robbers as I do. The other four are caught off guard, and I incapacitate three of them before they can react. The fourth has his weapon yanked out of his hands by webbing before I suspend him from the roof with more of it.

"Well, you're the lucky one that doesn't get knocked out!" I tilt my head and pull my hood down. "Which is like, super bad for you, FYI. So you should thank me."

"You're the reason we're even out here tonight," the man growls at me. "Your involvement in the Tranantula's affairs has gone on too long."

"All this for little ol' me?" I respond, adopting the exaggerated accent of a Southern Belle. "You flatter me."

"You laugh now," the man laughs, venom seeping through his words. "But tonight, the tarantula will kill the spider, just as we, his followers, will destroy his enemies in the Maggia."

So they're on a shock-and-awe style attack tonight. They want to take out all their enemies in one swift and brutal night. Meaning the Black Tarantula himself is out there somewhere tonight, probably waiting for me.


Looking around sarcastically, I say, "You, you guys are doing some real destruction here. I'm sure the Maggia's gonna be scared of some property damage."

"You are overconfident, Spider."

"Yea, and you're hanging from my web. So maybe a little overconfidence is warranted."

My spider sense sounds off a warning in my head, and I barely make it out of the way of a big, sand block aimed right at the back of my head. I watch, in almost slow motion as it connects with the Silk Cartel member, sending him bouncing like a ragdoll on the end of a bungee cord.

Looking up, I find myself face-to-face with Flint Marko, the Sandman, "Marko? Come on man. I already helped your bosses out tonight here. Do we really need to do this? Go home and I can kick your butt some other night."

"I ain't working for the Maggia no more," he snarls. "I'm just here to get the cash they owe me."

"Ugh, why do you guys always have to be so difficult?" I ask, ducking yet another attempted blow from him. "Can't the bad guys just take a night off once in a while?"

"Sorry, Spider-Dork," he responds, throwing yet another sloppy punch with a wreckingball-sized fist at me, "not when I still need to kill you."

I manage to backflip over the punch, unfortunately my opponent can literally change shape at any moment he wants. The large fist becomes a tendril which wraps itself around me leg and slams me into the wall of lockboxes on the wall of the vault, sending a shower of bills and wills flying into the air. The sandy tentacle snatches the money out of the air and incorporates it into the Sandman's body.

"Ew, Marko," I groggily taunt, "don't you know money is the dirtiest thing in the world? You're putting it inside yourself? Gross."

"You know, you should talk less," Marko snarls. "Maybe you'd be prettier then."

He rears up, forming both his hands together into a big sledge hammer, hoping to bring it down on me in a killing blow. Instead, the strike finds open air and the hard floor of the vault as I roll out of the way under it, closing the gap between Flint and I.

"You know, Marko, the crime I can tolerate," I say as I take one of the two remaining web grenades I have and push it into his chest. "But the casual misogeny is not appreciated."

I kick off his chest, driving the grenade deeper into his sandy body, and as I fly through the air I detonate the web grenade. The device goes off, splattering out of Marko's chest. If he was a normal person, what I'm looking at would be disgusting. Weblines covered in the silica particles that make up Flint Marko have exploded out of his torso in all directions like some sort of terrible sci fi death.

I don't know if it hurt him, but he is definitely in distress, "What the hell did you do to me!?"

"Web grenade. Friend of mine cooked them up for me," I smile and toss the other one up and down in my hand.

"No!" he pulls back, attemptting to get out of the snair. Some of him manages to escape, but most of the sand is trapped in the webbing. He manages to pull away, but he looks like a deflated balloon by the time he does. "This ain't over, webhead!"

With that, he dissolves into a heap, and blows away.

"Okay," I have to admit, "that exit was pretty cool."

My phone rings in my ear, and I answer, "Hello?"

"Gwen, are you out there?" Peter's voice asks.

"Yea," I respond. "Good news, the web grenades do wonders against Marko."

"That's great, but you're gonna want to get to Manhattan General," he changes the subject. "The Black Tarantula has taken the hospital hostage."


The footfalls of the Black Tarantula echo off the walls of the hospital as he walks the halls. His men have already made sure the doctors and patients were barricaded in their rooms. If need be, he would allow a doctor to take care of their patients. He is not a monster. He is merely a man on a mission. He knows the Spider-Woman will foolishly fall into the trap he's set. She will be overconfident. She will come in thinking he is merely a man. And as long as she does come, he will have no reason to hurt these people.

Taking out the vial Octavius had given him, he places it in the injector, and forces the liquid into his bloodstream.

Instantly, he feels the strength flowing through him. The power high is something he will never tire of.

The only thing that will make him feel better is leaving the Spider-Woman dead at his feet.

A pity it's a high he'll only feel once.

She has inserted herself into his plans for the last time. He had conquered his home continent. Tonight he would conquer New York on his way to North America, on his way to the world. The Silk Cartel would control the crime world in every corner of the globe. Kings, Presidents, and Prime Ministers would fear to say his name.


"Any word on how many men they have in there?" Captain George Stacy asks of the lead officer on the scene outside the hospital as he steps out of his car.

"We think almost three dozen, sir," the officer responds in a snap.

"Three dozen? Christ," Stacy rubs the back of his neck. "They mean business. As if tonight could get any crazier. Any demands?"

"Just one, sir. Guy called a few minutes ago. Only wants one thing. Says if he gets it, no one gets hurt."

"And what's that?"

"Spider-Woman, sir."


"Peter," I say as I overlook the scene at the hospital. The entire place is surrounded by more cops than I thought lived in the city. They've set up a perimeter, a pretty standard formation. They're waiting to go in. Probably waiting for me to go in first. Smart. They know what's in there, and they probably know the Tarantula is waiting for me. Why go in and get someone hurt when all he wants is for me to go in there and face him. "I"m about to head into the building."

"I hacked into the police scanners. The ones they don't want people to hear," he responds, and I can hear keystrokes in the background. "I think there's about thirty or so Cartel members in there. Not including the Tarantula. He's made contact with the police. Says all he wants is you."

"Yea, that's been a running theme tonight," I sigh. "Says he's not gonna hurt anyone as long as I cooperate, right?"

"Hasn't said that much, to be honest. Just that he wants you."

"Well, he's in luck."

"Gwen...just...be careful, okay?" I can hear his understandable worry. "Tarantula is...different. He's a regular human, but he is the definition of infamous."

"Don't worry, Pete. I'll be fine. More than I can say about him though."

I swing towards the hospital, and towards the showdown with the Tarantula.
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Hidden 5 yrs ago Post by Hound55
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Hound55 Create-A-Hero RPG GM, Blue Bringer of BWAHAHA!

Member Seen 1 hr ago

Jean Paul grabbed shotgun, Marlene threw herself in the back and Samuels took the wheel of his burgundy Bentley.

“Where are we going? What’s happened?” Marlene asked.

“We’re going to save your friend from himself.” Samuels said, irritated as he pulled down his seatbelt.

“And what’s happened?” Jean Paul echoed Marlene.

“It’s complicated.”

“It’s a long car drive.”

“Not really. Lincoln Park is only a few minutes away and I wouldn't have even begun to get into the weeds on this… I pull down 80k a year and I’m still underpaid for everything I put up with…” The professional façade finally starting to crack in Samuels.

“Marc Spector has gone to take on that werewolf.” He said, looking at Marlene in the rear vision mirror. “And he’s not ready to do anything that crazy yet. Not even close.”

What Samuels was talking about was ludicrous. Surely.

“What does Marc have to do with werewolves? Why would he? None of this makes sense.”

“It’s not about werewolves.” Samuels said, the needle pushing 80mph. “It’s about Spector. It could have been a man who did that. Or someone cutting you off in traffic. At the moment, he’s volatile. We need to get him home before he gets himself killed. And the werewolf’s not the only thing to worry about on that front.”

“He’s gone to fight a werewolf? What with?” DuChamp asked.

“His memory’s back. He’s remembered where the equipment is.”

DuChamp ran things through in his mind. Marc had been right. Not everything this man had been telling them had really fit.

“Today, when you picked us up from the airport. Your employer hadn’t made sure you were familiar with his face.” Jean Paul spoke softly as he pieced everything together.

Samuels looked at him and down shifted as he turned a corner.

“--because you’d already met him before.”

“...” “Exactly.” Samuels said, wanting the conversation to be over. They were approaching police barriers, and a cop waving his arms at them, telling them to find another way.

Marlene spoke up from the back. “What exactly did you mean by ‘the equipment’?”

Overhead a white hang glider swooped past, caught an updraft to pull up far above a building, and a white and silver clad figure released his grip, performed a perfect somersault and spread his arms wide. A vast cape billowed out and caught another gust, before he released it and brought both his feet up to kick an unseen figure in the chest.

A sound like a man beating a mongrel with a rolled up newspaper made the cop turn around. Samuels took the opportunity and turned the wheel to miss the cop, plowing through part of the barricade.

“I was going to say, ‘you’d know it if you saw it’ but I think it’s too late for that…”

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Flint spat bourbon all over the inside of his windshield.

He had a good clear view of the rooftop where the werewolf was perched from where his car was parked. Out of nowhere, and in complete silence some nutcase in a white cape jumped off of a hang glider and kicked the thing in the chest. It made a sound like a beaten cur, only louder if he could hear it from here.

Then the ninja throwing stars came out.

He began to question the veracity of the officers’ stories whom he’d spoken to before. They said they blasted this thing with a shotgun and it didn’t even flinch. But throwing stars had it backpedalling, as the man was able to keep his distance on the other side of the roof. The werewolf backed up further, and further, towards the edge of the roof. Then desperation struck as it could retreat no further and the wolf charged. He threw two more stars and then, sensing the need for a change of tactics, he reached down and drew a small metal bar from a holster.

The wolf lunged, with perfect footwork and timing the man in white thrust the bar into the beast’s fangs and twisted, executing a perfect hip toss, throwing it off of the building.

One of its teeth must have pressed a button or activated some kind of grapple feature though, as a cable flew out the side of its maw and snagged in a neighbouring building. Another whimper came from the werewolf as mystical fangs were nearly pulled from its head, before it let go as a reflex. It was enough to break its fall however. The wolf sensed an opportunity to escape from the man in white and immediately took it. It would find easier prey another time.

But the man in white hadn’t given up yet. He stood on the edge of the building top and cast out his cape, before jumping. The billowing cape slowing his descent enough before he caught the metal bar as it swung back and forth from the other building. Reunited with his weapon he used a setting which allowed him a smooth descent to the ground, before the hooks in the grapple released and the cable retracted back into the bar.

He looked up to the rooftops and saw where his glider had landed. Too far, no help to him now. He ran down the street in pursuit of the werewolf, but as fast as this man was it would make no difference. The werewolf was far too fast and already had too big a head start. Surely he had to know it too.

But if he did, he didn’t show it. He ran like a man possessed. No. He ran like this was his entire purpose.

Flint considered giving chase but for two things. First, Chicago PD had no set policy for dealing with what was becoming known as the Batman/Spider-Man situation. Namely, that was “their problem”. With Chicago’s current crime rate combined with the fact that this is technically an animal control issue the politics on this one stank to high Hell and he didn’t want to give the Burger King a free shot at kicking him in the dick.

Secondly he remembered what happened to Jim Gordon down in Gotham not too long ago. Very publicly getting the shit beaten out of him in a situation Flint imagined probably looked very much like this… only with considerably more backup if the papers told the truth.

Could that be what this is? Could there be Black and White Batmen? Or was this a copycat? Or was this something else entirely?

No. Better to wait and watch. Report the citing. Let the PD formulate some kind of policy and keep your nose clean. And decidedly less bloody. Get to the scene a little too late to actually do anything.

Which was a plan that worked a little too well.

A car drove alongside the man in white, and he must have really been moving because it didn’t slow down THAT much. Because Flint had decided to keep his distance he couldn’t make out the license plate. Arms reached out from the car and grabbed him, pulling him in.

A maroon Bentley. Flint made a mental note for a batch search later.

He stepped out of his beamer and caught Dixon running towards him.

“Did you see that shi--!”

“Yes. I did. Call the CSIs.” Flint pronounced it ‘Sissies’, almost like ‘scissors’. “We’ve got a crime scene up there and something tells me it’s going to be a ripe one.”

Flint stepped back to his car and lifted the handpiece for his radio. He looked down at his watch and decided debriefing could wait ten minutes. Shift change was in five and he wouldn’t give the Burger King the satisfaction of getting to play the press, like he reveled in. Captain Welland was good police. He can catch this one.

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Hidden 5 yrs ago Post by Eddie Brock
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Eddie Brock

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The mood on the Quinjet ride back had been somber. It was true that they had halted the Liberators' weapons production and captured many of their men, but Abdul al-Rahman had escaped. Worse, the torching of the facility meant that they were unable to determine what, exactly, the Liberators had been working on. The locals pressed into hard labor for the insurgents had been less than helpful, despising the Americans even more than their captors, and those who were willing to talk did not know what they were building. Fury told the team that they'd be monitoring all channels, alerting agents and informants everywhere to keep their ears to the ground about al-Rahman's whereabouts. "If he shows his face within ten klicks of civilization, we'll know about it," the Director had assured them with unflagging confidence. Confidence that the team, frankly, did not share. Their leads had quite literally gone up in smoke. And no one blamed themselves more than Steve Rogers.

On that point, he was not alone.

"We would have had him if John Wayne over there hadn't gotten so careless!" Barton barked, gesturing angrily at Steve. "If he hadn't wanted to prove what a big damn hero he was, we could've gone in together and taken him down!"

Sam stepped between Barton and Rogers, wearing a stern expression. "Ease up, Clint! Cap was just trying to do his job."

"And there's no guarantee the Colonel would have waited around long enough for us to regroup," chimed in Katana from her seat. Still wearing her mask, she polished her blade and kept her head down, though Rogers could have sworn he saw her eyes dart in his direction when she spoke. In any case, Sam nodded in agreement.

Barton was in no mood to have his mind changed. "I don't know how it worked in the forties, pal, but for a captain, you're not much of a team player! You think you can just suit up after twenty years on the bench and take the game-winning shot? I got news for you, 'Captain': you're not the player you used to be!"

Barton was a loudmouth, but he wasn't wrong. Everything he was saying, Steve had already thought. It was foolish to take on the Colonel alone; the kid was every bit as young, fast, and strong as Rogers had once been. Even in his prime, Steve wasn't sure he could've beaten him. Al-Rahman fought with an intensity, a rage, that Steve never possessed. He was just lucky he hadn't gotten himself killed. As it was, his every muscle ached, and the slash up his torso alternated between itching and burning the entire ride home. His left arm -- the one that had been cut -- was numb from the shoulder down. He had surely suffered some nerve damage. He wondered if perhaps he didn't belong in the field anymore.


Steve stood at the edge of the hallway, staring out the enormous plate glass windows that overlooked the Potomac. It had been a week since the team returned to Qurac. Steve's arm still tingled every time he flexed his fingers; SHIELD's doctors had told him that he could expect to regain full feeling in three months, back to full strength another six to nine months after that. His metabolism burned through painkillers too quickly to be of much use, so he'd just have to deal with the stabbing pains in his shoulder in the meantime. It wasn't like Steve was unaccustomed to pain. Once, in Vietnam, he had crawled through six miles of mud with a seven-inch incision along his stomach. Only his accelerated healing had protected him from a terrible infection.

While Steve stared out over the placid waters, contemplating his defeat at the hands of the world's newest Super-Soldier, Director Fury stepped up beside him. He didn't have to look to know it was Fury; the Director's quiet, composed presence spoke for itself. Nor did Captain Rogers say anything. He knew that whatever Nick had come to say, he would share in his own time. So, the two men stood for a time, saying nothing and looking out over the river, until Fury finally obliged, "There's been a possible sighting in Khandaq."

Rogers could tell by the Director's tone that he wasn't hopeful. There had been a few possible sightings since al-Doha, and none had proven true. Abdul al-Rahman had gone to ground. Still, there was no point in getting complacent; every lead had to be investigated thoroughly. Straightening his shoulders -- and trying not to wince through the pain -- Captain Rogers asked, "When do we leave?"

"We don't," Nick answered at first. When he felt Steve looking at him, he explained, "I've already sent Barton and Yamashiro to check it out." To his credit, Fury's expression softened in something resembling remorse. He wouldn't say it, but the implication was clear: Captain America wasn't ready for the field. He was a liability to the mission. Rogers wanted to be offended, but he wasn't sure if Nick was entirely wrong. Glancing Steve's way, Fury reasoned, "Better to keep it small. Attract less suspicion." It was a lie in service of protecting the Captain's wounded pride. That almost hurt more than the shoulder.

There was something Steve had to know. "Why haven't you sent me home, Nick?"

The Director hadn't been expecting the question. Ever careful with his words, Fury paused a moment to consider his answer. Finally, he came upon it -- or, at least a version he was willing to share. "I meant what I said to you back in Wyoming," he said. "This was our mess. I thought you deserved the chance to set things right." Setting his jaw, he turned his eyes back to the Potomac. "You're a better man than me, Steve. I knew something like that... it'd eat you up inside."

For once, Rogers believed him. For all Nick's faults -- and there were plenty -- Steve had to remember that they had been friends once. And even when he didn't always agree with Nick's methods, Steve knew that Fury did the things he did for the same reason Steve did: Because he thought it was right. To that point, maybe they and Colonel Abdul al-Rahman weren't so different.

"If you had a chance to go back, to choose to do it differently," Steve began, "would you?"

"No," Fury answered unwaveringly.

That took Steve aback. "You still think what we did to that country was right?" he asked, incredulous.

"I think," Fury turned, "that a vibranium mound in the hands of a hostile foreign regime could have been disastrous. And I think that if we hadn't taken it, someone worse would have. Kattuah put a target on his back the second he held that press conference." Softening, Fury added, "What I would have done differently was offer aid and protection when it was done. I wouldn't have thrown the body to the wolves. I own my part in creating Abdul al-Rahman." He looked back over the river. "Now, let's catch the son of a bitch."


The National Mall was a sight to see at night. As the sun went down, the tourists wise enough to take shelter from the midday sun came out to explore the lawns and the monuments by streetlight. Without afternoon crowds to contend with, the people could wander at their leisure, chatting and laughing and enjoying the shimmering impressions of the lights in the massive Reflecting Pool. At the center of the Mall, illuminated by a ring of spotlights, the Washington Monument towered up towards the stars above. On a breezy night such as this, the flags surrounding the Monument flapped lazily against their poles. Tourists stopped and took pictures, craning their necks to capture the obelisk's lofty peak.

The park rangers were still about at this hour, ready to answer guests' every question about the Monument. The oldest of these, an elder statesman named Stan, wandered aimlessly, stopping only to smile and wave at the young boys and girls who came to marvel at the structure. Most days, Stan couldn't remember where he had left his shoes, but when it came to Washington, D.C., trivia, there wasn't a sharper mind in the district. For the sake of his health, some of the other rangers had suggested that he might hang up his hat and badge, but they all liked Stan well enough to not press the issue. He was a staple, every bit a landmark as the Monument itself.

Coming around to the western side of the Monument, with the Capitol shining in the distance, Stan found himself facing a lone gentleman wearing a backpack and a thick, hooded coat. Ever the gracious host, Stan took it upon himself to approach the visitor. "She's a beauty, isn't she?" he asked with a smile. "From 1884 to 1889, the Washington Monument was the tallest structure in the world!" He spoke with the enthusiasm of a proud parent. Sidling up beside the gentleman, Stan looked skyward. "Did you know the Monument took thirty-six years to complete?"

The gentleman said nothing. He merely lowered his head and shrugged the heavy bag off his shoulder. Stan, who was already lost in the sea of facts and figures in his head, paid him no mind. It was only when he saw the gentleman reaching into his jacket that Stan seemed to realize he wasn't talking to himself. "Do you have a camera?" he asked the gentleman. "I'd be happy to take your pic--"

A red-hot staff lanced through the center of Stan's chest, erupting through his shoulder blades. The park ranger made no sound as the life left his body. A few tourists who saw what happened began to scream and scramble across the lawn, looking to put as much distance between themselves and the attacker as possible. It made no difference; soon, there would be nowhere they were safe. As Colonel Abdul al-Rahman drew his weapon from the park ranger's corpse, he shed his disguise. <<"On my mark,">> he called over his commlink.

The Colonel knelt down and unzipped his bag. Inside was a cylindrical piece of machinery; the center of the device was made of plexiglass and revealed an uneven crystal supported by a series of pistons. Al-Rahman placed the device at the base of the obelisk and began priming switches. The Monument had taken almost forty years to complete, but it would only take one night to destroy. Once all was ready, the Colonel stood and gave the order. The machine whirred to life before sending out a shockwave that shook the entire Mall and sent ripples across the Reflecting Pool. A huge crack snaked up the side of the Washington Monument.

In the distance, the sounds of a city thrown into chaos could be heard as four other machines of identical build came to life. All over the district, the ground shook. America's day of judgment was at hand.
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Hidden 5 yrs ago 5 yrs ago Post by AndyC
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AndyC Guardian of the Universe

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"You're running late, Smallville," says Lois, her arms crossed and shooting me an impatient look as I jog up the stairs to the platform.

"I know," I say as I meet her, a cup of coffee from O'Shaughnessy's in my right hand and a sausage-egg-and-cheese O'Muffin in the other. "I had to grab some breakfast on the way."

"Wouldn't your Mom make you something?"

I shrug.

"I didn't want to wake her up," I say. "Besides, a cross-country flight can really work up an appetite."

I took it easy flying back from Smallville this morning, not pushing myself as hard as I would in an emergency. It's a luxury I haven't gotten to indulge in much lately, being able to just fly and enjoy it without lives being in immediate danger. Taking the slow route, weaving back and forth to evade detection from satellite, I'm able to stretch the trip out to almost forty-five minutes instead of the usual three.

Still, even taking it easy, the trip left me feeling more than a little drained. I'm still not at a hundred percent after the excitement in Central City, catching a crashing airliner and tangling with the Silver Surfer. To be honest, I haven't really had much time at all to get back up to full strength, since even without cosmic entities threatening to destroy the world, the Toyman has been running me ragged with something new seemingly every other day.

Honestly, a day just hoofing it and doing my actual job would probably do me some good.

"Well, it's honestly just as well that you didn't get here on time," she says, a low rumble on the tracks starting to draw closer. "The Whale's never on time anyway."

The Cross-Bay High-Speed Rail System-- known to the locals as the "Rail Whale" due to the train's size and the track's proximity to the water-- is a massive rail system styled after the Japanese bullet-trains, stretching from Opal City through Metropolis to Gotham City and Blüdhaven. On any given day, the trains shuttle tens of thousands of commuters between the four cities, reaching speeds of about 200 miles per hour on the open straightaways. Most people thought the project was going to be a boondoggle, a waste of billions of dollars and years of construction on something that would probably never actually be completed. Thanks to substantial investments and input from LexCorp, however, the entire thing was finished in a matter of months.

The train pulls into the station, its hydraulics letting out a loud hiss as the large sleek silver-blue cars slow to a halt. The doors slide open, and dozens of people begin filing out, making their way to their workplaces or wherever else the day takes them. I wolf down the last of my breakfast, then Lois and I step onto the train, and have no trouble finding seats.

Once the commuters step off the train, in fact, we're the only ones in this particular car. Plenty of people live in Gotham City who work in Metropolis. A whole lot fewer do the other way around.

After another minute or so, the doors on the car slide close, and a pre-recorded message plays over the train's PA.

"Thank you for choosing the Cross-Bay Rail," I hear the voice of Lex Luthor say, "and I hope you'll enjoy the trip, as well as the complimentary free Wi-Fi. Don't forget to provide your feedback at the LexCorp kiosk at the station when you arrive. Next stop, Gotham City!"

I can feel my lip curl just a bit. I can't help but notice that Luthor only really started to ramp up his presence in Metropolis after I moved here. Nowadays I can't seem to turn around without seeing his face, hearing his voice, or reading his name in the city. While I've got nothing really to hold against him, I've heard plenty of less-than-pleasant rumors about what goes on in the deeper levels of his company. Things I'm going to have to look into sooner or later. Even if it turns out he's harmless, I can't help but find him a little annoying.

"So," I say to Lois, "You said you had a lead on the Toyman story?"

"Got a meet-up with Dr. Irons," she nods. "You remember that interview he did for that blowhard Godfrey?"

"Yeah, you said he was blinking in Morse Code," I recall. "His message didn't make any sense, though."

Lois puts up a finger to make a point.

"That's what I thought, too, until I realized I was misreading it," she says. "When I picked up on what he was doing, I was reading it as H-O-T T-S-C. Which, of course, is gibberish. But I was reading the letters out of order. I should've been starting with the S. S-C-H-O-T-T."

"So it's a name," I conclude. "Someone named 'Schott.' You think it's a suspect?"

"Don't know for sure," she shrugs. "I did some digging on Dr. Irons, though. Turns out he didn't found SteelWorks alone. When he started, he had a business partner, a guy by the name of Winslow Schott. They had some kind of falling out, and Schott went completely off the grid. That's all I could get from Irons over the phone, but he said he had more. He said Metropolis wasn't safe, so he suggested we meet in Gotham instead."

Lois looks out the window, the skyline of Metropolis shrinking behind us as trees and buildings blur past.

"What exactly makes him think Gotham City is a good choice is beyond me," she scoffs. "I was hoping he'd pick somewhere a little safer. Like, say, the inside of an active volcano."

"That's a little unfair," I say. "I mean, sure, the city's got its problems, but I think most of the people there are just trying to get by."

"That's sweet, Clark, it really is," says, "but don't forget why you're going on this field trip. The closest thing they've got to a super-hero is a guy who beats up cops and tries to kill a DA."

"Well, that's what they're saying," I concede, "but the other reason I want this story is to get past the sensationalism, find out what's really going on. Maybe there's more to the Bat-Man than people are saying."

Lois considers it for a minute, then says, "I saw a documentary a while back. It was about this wildlife conservationist, a well-meaning hippie-type who made it his life's work to protect the grizzly bears up in Alaska. And okay, that's a good sentiment at first, protecting the environment, saving the animals from industrialization and all that. But he has this romantic image of the bears, this idea that he can make some kind of connection with them, that they can reach an understanding."

"What happened?" I ask.

"What do you think happened? A bear ate him," she answers. "Point is, not everyone you run into is going to be friendly. You've traveled around the world, like me. You've seen people do some really awful things. Sometimes a wild animal is just a wild animal. Keep that in mind while you go Bat-hunting."

"Hmm," is what I manage, not really wanting to admit that she's got a good point. Things went well with the Flash, but that doesn't mean it's always going to work out that way.

"While we're on the subject," she asks, "you have any leads?"

"Just one so far," I answer. "The police captain involved in the altercation with the Bat-Man. A Captain Jim Gordon. I've done a little reading up on him; he seems to be on the level. A few commendations, seems like a pretty upstanding officer."

Lois gives a mirthless chuckle.

"In the GCPD, that means one of two things," she says, "either his record only looks clean because he's got leverage on anyone who might have dirt on him, or he's a few weeks away from having an unfortunate 'accident.'"

"Come on, it can't be that bad."

"Well, one way or another, you're gonna find out soon enough," she says as the tracks head out over the Bay. "Next stop, Bear Country."
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Hidden 5 yrs ago Post by Byrd Man
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Byrd Man El Hombre Pájaro

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We're a hateful people.

I don't mean the English. Though you could be forgiven for thinking that with things like recent English political history, and the entire history of the British Empire. No, I mean the human race as a whole. We are filled with hatred. Always have been. People say that we live in the most hateful time, but I think it's that cut and dry. We stopped killing each other over the question if sermons should be delivered in French or Latin, so that's some progress.

We're less hateful as a whole, but those that still hate find that their hatred is stronger than ever. It gets broadcast across the world through things like TV and the internet and it finds its roots in the minds and hearts of those looking for something. Those that are alienated find a common cause in their hatred. The hatred gives them a purpose. It gives them a target.

And to a certain type of creature, that hatred is fuel. The feed on it and they get into your head. They take you already existing prejudices and fears and amplify them until you're so frenzied with hate that you can no longer think straight. All that you live for is that hatred and serving the thing inside your head.

Now imagine something like that in the head of someone with a badge and gun and think of the damage they can do.


Lynwood, CA

LASD Sergeant Michaels strutted down the sidewalk. To his left was a line of young men standing with their hands against the wall of the building adjacent to the sidewalk. Each and every one of them was heavily tattooed and wearing the golden yellow that represented allegiance to PBS13. They were on the street corner near an open air drug market, just one of the many in Lynwood that Michaels' crew was responsible for raiding. Michaels twirled a telescopic metal baton in his right hand as he walked back and forth.

He was a big man, towering over the little gangbangers by at least a good six inches. Like the gangsters, his head was shaved close to the scalp. Also like them, Michaels was heavily tattooed. Though his tattoos were hidden by his clothing. They weren’t the type of ink you flaunted in polite society, especially if you were a cop. He could feel a dark hatred in his stomach as he looked at the kids all leaning against the wall. Each and every one of them knew that what the sheriff's were doing would be a slap on the wrist. They'd be out before long and right back to dealing. These little sons of bitches, Michaels thought, all probably smuggled over here in their whore mothers as anchor babies and popped out the second they crossed the border.

A small pile of drugs, money, and weapons sat on the sidewalk. Deputies Seward and Akerman stood off to the side and watched from beside their squad car with amused looks on their faces. Further down the block was Lieutenant Milford's unmarked car. He watched the show without bothering to get out. Michaels looked towards the direction of the car and could feel a connection with his boss. Even with his face in silhouette, Michaels knew Milford was watching and smiling at the sight of these little Mexican greaseballs up against the wall, a real big dick white man like Michaels bossing them around.

"We rolled through last night but it seemed like you didn't get the message,” said Michaels. “So, let me be clear."

He walked down the line, hitting each of the boys in the back of their knees with the stick. One by one, they all went down to the ground in pain. Several times, a loud and sickening pop accompanied the hard blows. Michaels spoke as he struck.

"You. Are. Fucking. Done. Here."

Michaels twirled the nightstick in his long, slender fingers as he looked down at the hurting men.

"Tell your bosses that Lynwood is off limits. Fuera de los límites, ese. So says the Lynwood Vikings. Every fucking corner he has in spic Lynwood and nigger South Central gets raided and indicted every night until you stop dealing."

Michaels laughed and bent down over the pile of contraband. He pocketed the cash and drugs before standing to look at the injured kids.

"Look at all these weapons," he said to the deputies. "Seems like enough probable cause to run these fuckers in."



Martin Hidalgo’s upper lip curled as soon as he smelled the man. He reeked of liquor and stale cigarettes. The smell matched the picture before him. The pale, blonde Englishman wore rumpled clothes and a trench coat stained with what looked like vomit, blood, and bodily fluids Hidalgo did not even want to think about.

This hungover pile of shit was supposed to be their savior? This was the man who had saved Hidalgo’s business, this man his soldiers called el mago? Hidalgo sat across the patio table from him and watched the man as he sipped coffee. They had a breathtaking view of the ocean, but Hidalgo couldn't take his eyes off the man. He had what looked like two weeks worth of blonde-gray stubble and heavy lidded, bloodshot eyes.

“What day is it?” he croaked out.

“The fifteenth of August.”

“Fuck,” John Constantine said under his breath. “... I lost a whole fucking month.”

“My friends in East LA told me that you have been on what they call a bender.”

“Sure,” said Constantine. He started to reach for his cigarettes, couldn’t find them, and finally gave up. “Wallowing in misery over my fucked up life. And it was going brilliantly until you’re fucking bodyguards pulled me out of it. You got a cigarette?”

“This is a smoke-free house, I’m afraid.”

“Well, fuck you.”

The edges of Hidalgo’s mouth twitched. If he were any other man, he would either be dead or severely beaten at the least. But this was different. He needed this man’s help. He could beat him later if he needed to… or not. He was not a superstitious man, but the things he’d heard about el mago was enough to make him at least weigh the options of violent reprisal before committing to it.

“Do you know who I am? What I am to this city? I am a man who you do not say disrespectful things to.”

“You’re also the man who got his ass kicked by Henry Grigoryan,” said Constantine. “Is this what this is about? Want to thank me for doing away with his pet mage?”

“No,” said Hidalgo after a sip of coffee. “While you have my thanks, you did not do it for me. It was a side effect that your disposal of Grigoryan’s people has led to my resurgence.”

“Nature abhors a vacuum.”

“Correct. My people have filed that vacuum, but now we find a fly in our ointment.”

Constantine sighed and rubbed his temple.

“Why do you big time gangsters love talking in riddles like this? You got a problem, that's why I'm here, so just come out and say it.”

“Senor Constantine,” Hidalgo said slowly. “My patience is wearing thin. I respect what you are capable of. It is the only reason why I haven’t ordered your tongue ripped out of your head and jammed up your ass.”

“I just need a cigarette," he finally said. "I'm a bastard without my smokes. So the sooner we finish whatever it is you want, I can leave and get a pack I’ll be in a better mood and I’ll be out of your fucking hair.”

“Police in Lynwood are making trouble for my men and business. Sheriff's deputies. We already pay the LAPD a substantial amount, as do we pay sheriff's narcotics and gang taskforce. But these are rogue patrolmen who have no interest in money. They just want to hurt my people. I need someone to take care of them.”

“Then get a hitman,” said Constantine. “I’m not a gun for hire.”

“That’s too straight forward,” said Hidalgo. “And too hard. There are three of them, my men said. I have no one who is talented and discreet enough to take out three cops. You on the other hand? You seem to have a talent for creating collateral damage wherever you go. Grigoryan was arrested by LAPD while Lance Rawlings is dead. Not by your hand, but your actions, I have become the top crime lord in LA without lifting a finger. That’s what I want, el mago. Work your magic.”

“If I say no?”

“If you say no, then that will be the third time you disrespect me,” Hidalgo said softly, taking a pregnant pause to sip his coffee. “After that, I stop being polite. I go after your friend who has that little bookstore in Silver Lake, or the cop who is always scowling, or even the pretty lady who runs that new age store in Venice Beach. And that’s just in LA. You have friends in London, no? A sister and niece in Liverpool? Your reputation makes my men afraid of you, but I doubt they would not show the same hesitancy against your loved ones.”

Constantine closed his eyes and sighed. Hidalgo watched him very carefully as he sat there with his eyes closed. When he opened them again, his eyes had a touch of madness in them. He smiled, sending goosebumps down Hidalgo’s arms.

“You’re the boss,” he said with a wide grin. “Consider your police problems over with, squire.”
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Hidden 5 yrs ago 5 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 Six

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


Warpath, Texas

Greg Saunders had always liked the old cowboy pictures. Ever since he was knee high to a grasshopper he’d always find himself tuggin’ at his Pop’s pant leg, askin’ him to put Mister Eastwood on again. There was somethin’ appealing about those oldies. There weren’t no flash and bang or fancy schmancy computer effects gettin’ up all over the screen, just a good old fashioned cowboy. A man, his gun, and his horse, and the open sea of possibility. He’d ride into towns that didn’t always want him, but usually, he’d make things better. No matter what he lost along the way. But sometimes it weren’t so clean. They didn’t all romanticize the life. You had to take it all: the good, the bad, the ugly. They were riders on the storm, charting out that great untangled wild of America, the soul of this country.

It was for much those reasons didn’t like most of the newer stuff that came out. He’d never been much of a buff on it himself, but things just didn’t seem to connect to life no more. Action heroes jumpin’ through windows with girls on either arm, shootin’ at folks from a faraway place. People with families, lives. Wrong folk, but… Well, folks all the same. There wasn’t as much focus on a man doin’ what he could for his town. John Wayne’s steady hand gets replaced with Bruce Willis killin’ folk with his bare hands for his and his alone. AN’ then there were the effects. A mess of computers n’ wires vomiting all over the screen. Huge explosions that couldn’t rightly exist. Even the biggest and fanciest of ‘em couldn’t touch the practicals. Maybe that appreciation for the genuine article was why it was so easy for him to watch the corona of the explosion coming towards him.

A little earlier than he’d expected, sure. But it’d done the job just fine, shoulda fried every Hunter in the town, just about. Hopefully Frank had gotten downrange enough. Time seemed to slow to molasses for the explosion. It was a beautiful sort of thing so see up close. First there was the pressure wave. His guns got yanked out of his hands and his hat blew clean off his head; but that was only a split second before a sweet orange glow crawled out from the center of the explosion. It was a soft light, creeping closer to him and growing brighter and brighter. Warm, welcoming. He accepted it. Felt it all around him. And then there was nothing.

The only reason Vigilante knew he wasn’t dead was because where he was wasn’t Hell -- and it sure as shit wasn’t Heaven, either. He found himself in some kind of Movie Theater, with the sies and the ceiling crawling off into infinity, like before. Yet somehow, the fog over his mind had lifted. Whatever spirit it was that had kept him tied in here before was gone now, leaving him to properly piece together his thoughts instead of snagging them at free random.

This, it seemed, was The Spirit’s domain. A grand chamber full of the wailing dead and the cackling demons. It must feel right at home among them. But The Spirits had quieted some. They sat in solemn silence, gaing up bleary eyed at the screen. Bags traced most of their eyes. Their pallor seemed even paler, if that were even possible. The Demons still had unnatural smiles drawing up to their ears and even past them, but they weren’t so rowdy, now. They just sat rapt. Watching, waiting.

Vig felt a hand on his shoulder. He bristled and snapped around, grabbing for a gun that wasn’t there. His eyes met a pair of baby blues. Johnny Blaze.

“I won’t lie to you, Saunders. I didn’t expect you’d make it out of that one alive.” Blaze leaned back in his seat and kicked up his boots. He flashed his pearly whites.

“Neither did I. Figured the explosion’d make me look more like chunky salsa than man.” Vig relaxed his hands and set back to gazing around the room. The souls and demons still stayed locked on the screen. They didn’t seem to much notice that Blaze was among them. ”Now… This seems t’ me like a question you might get a lot, but… Why ain’t I dead?”

Johnny threw back his head and laughed. The metal buckles and spikes on his jacket jingled with his movement. “Oh, Greg fuckin’ Saunders. I love you, man! It’s like this: if any jackass that wants a shot at killing whoever holds The Spirit, they have to kill both halves. You got yourself blown up, sure. But The Spirit’s still kicking, and that means you are, too.” Johnny rubbed Greg’s shoulders. “And you did it, man! Those Hunters are engineered to kill people like us. Like poison to The Rider. Even making him fight them is like cramming a horse pill down his throat. But you took them down the old fashioned way.”

”Yeah…” Greg shuffled his shoulders, shaking Blaze’s hands off. ”Just doing my duty.” Greg pulled his hat from his head and held it, wringing it in his hands. Something didn’t feel quite right about the place, like it was before. Something had taken what life there was to the place and drained it right on out. Now it was just silence. Blaze’s voice leapt down ten rows before it even started fading.

“Just your duty? Man, that was more of them than any of the other guys have ever seen!” Blaze whooped. “Hey, check it out! He’s waking up. Concentrate, now. All you need to do to fight with The Rider is focus. It’s like a ‘zen’ kinda thing. At least, that’s how I understood it.”

Greg nodded and tore his attention away from the spirits around him. He locked his eyes on the screen. The blackness that swallowed it was being pushed away, bit by bit. It was like The Spirit was being crushed, but pushing its way through the rubble, piece by piece. Greg reached out with his mind, and he felt an acid sting push back at his prodding. He pushed through it. He felt a squeeze on his temples while he soldiered on through the mental barrier, only to feel sharper resistance stab into his brain. It wasn’t like his dreams anymore. There it fought with a kind of acerbic style. Confident and zealous in its superiority. But this was like fighting a momma dog. He drew back and he felt a set of controls had risen up out of his armrests. They were alien to him. A series of buttons and do-dads with no real meaning to ‘em. He frowned. His eyes flickered over the crowd again. Many of them had curled into themselves, arms wrapped around their legs while they stared with eyes like the moon.

“Greg? What’s wrong?”

”I think I’m… I think I’m gonna jes’ see what happens.” There was nothing left for it to hurt. All the people he cared about were puppets, and Frank seemed to be on the thing’s good side. And if not? Well, he could take care of himself.

The Spirit of Vengeance emerged from the smoldering rubble of what was once The Crossroads Saloon. There was no fanfare to it. The skeletal form of a man rose from the ashes, pushing aside a slab of floorboard. It surveyed the destruction silently, ignoring the quiet sobs of the man who knelt near the crossroads. His heart yearned for vengeance, for blood. But The Spirit only spoke for the dead, and today, the dead had to be collected.

Its fires did not rage as they once had. They boiled low, a muted yellow giving a ghastly glow to the head. It didn’t stand out much in the shine of the Texas sun. The only thing a passerby might have noticed was the sound of his gait, the crunch against the debris. Finally it reached a chunk of ceiling, laying against the three foot nub of a support beam. It reached down and tossed the debris aside.

The crumpled form of a Hunter lay there. Wounded, but not dead. It looked up at the creature before it, and a broken hand squirmed for a spectral gun. The Spirit toed it away. The Hunter’s red eyes looked up to meet The Spirit. They squinted in the sunlight. The Spirit reached down and hoisted the Hunter up in both arms, like it were carrying a child. It burned. The mere contact sent agony spiraling through its arms, bones and marrow trying to curl back from the pain. But The Spirit pressed on, and sat itself on the last shred of the bar that remained, an end corner.

The Spirit caressed The Hunters jaw with a bone hand, drawing the creature to look it in the eyes. Pain exploded through The Spirit’s fingertips. It did not care.

“Look into my eyes, little one.” Tendrils of black fire spiraled out from The Spirit, evevolping the Hunter in their embrace.

It was a cool day for the summer, but he’d still dressed too warm for it. The leather of his coat barely kept the hot metal plates pressed against his body. Those things had gotten hotter n’ hell, but ol’ Nate Cassidy had tol’ him it’d help keep them bullets from gettin’ him killt.

It had worked out pretty good so far, but he hadn’t gotten shot, yet. Least he had that going for him. The fellers they were fighting today knew what they were doing. They were cool and clean with their revolvers. Mosta their shots hit, an’ the rest of the gang was falling to pieces around him.

Nate said it was going to be a clean heist. In, out, take the money and run. Nobody gets hurt, and we get rich, he said. Even tried spiking the Sheriff’s shipment o’ water that morning to make double-sure. Hadn’t counted on the teller keeping hisself a boomstick under the counter. The screams. Or the shooting. God, the shooting.

But they still made it out in the end, cash in hand. Took a while to wash the blood out, but Nate said to pay that no mind. The river’d get everything clean enough if you gave it time. Meanwhiles they jes had to lay low in town, keep an eye out for any lawmen that might come lookin.

Whoever these folks were, they sure weren’t the po-lice. Towns didn’t hire Sheriffs like them, no sir. N’ they certainly didn’t work for one of the gangs. Golden Joe wouldn’t a hire a mex’can, n’ neither would the Domergues. Far as he could see, it was a mex’can n’ two of his buddies. One of em had a real messed up face, but they’d got ‘im, at least. Frank Horn had tagged ‘im real good before takin’ one between the eyes ‘imself. Then there was the mex’can, and a feller swingin’ a whip like crazy. The mex’can was a real good shot, give him that. He worked his irons like nobody's business. At least the whipfighter was slowin’ down. His hits were getting sloppier. He’d taken a few hits but he hadn’t dropped yet. But exhaustion was about to get him, yessir.

The fight went on for a while. Mostly cover shootin’ and shoutin’. Til’ the whip boy dropped. The Mex’can dropped his guns. Stepped right on outta’ cover n’ asked to talk to Nate. They were sittin pretty.

Soon as Nate stepped out, the mex’cans face started to… To melt. It wasn’t like nothin’ he’d ever seen before. Fire jumped out of every one of his orifices, n’ that mex’can just started killin’. His whip was everywhere, slashing so hard that people’s necks split clean open.

Eventually, the mex’can got to him. The string of that burning whip around his neck. The draw of those eyes… Those black, black eyes… And then? Then there was anger. Nothing but anger and anger and anger and…

The Hunter was gone. The Spirit held the form of a boy no older than seventeen in his arms, swaddled in a Yankees sweatshirt. His switchblade hung out of his backpocket. A peashooter of a pistol poked out of his waistband. A piece of the Crossroads had pierced him, through and through. He was dying. The Spirit could felt his soul, calling out. Waiting.

”Who sent you, my child?” The Spirit brought the boy in close, holding him against its breast. The fires in The Spirit’s chest died, turning down to a subtle warmth.

“I…” The boy looked up at him. His eyes were glossed over, uncomprehending. “Momma? I’m sorry. I...”

The Spirit laid him down, pushing aside rubble and sweeping up a pillow of ash.


The boy looked him up and down. “I… I went to Mr. Solomano’s office today, momma. He… He had… Something… Something for me to… Why is it so cold, Momma?”

”It’s okay. You can rest, now.” The Spirit touched the boys face. Fire danced off of his fingertip. The boy smiled. The funeral pyre had begun.

“Thank you.”
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Hidden 5 yrs ago 5 yrs ago Post by Sep
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Sep Migs Mayfield - Core

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Iris tried to pull away from Zoom but nothing worked. No amount of kicking, punching or phasing could loosen his grip upon her. "I was destined to be the fastest, but I wasn't meant to be a hero. I was the villain. I would be the greatest enemy of the Flash, he'd never be able to catch or kill me." He dropped her, she had to grab onto the ledge of the building. Her arms ached and screamed out in pain, so did she. She clawed onto the ledge to stop herself from plummeting down to the street. Suddenly aware of the city below her, the hustle and bustle of city life not noticing as the 'Hero of Central City' clung on for dear life above their very heads. Zoom walked over to Barry, picking him up by his hair until he was standing tall before him.

He looked him up and down, like a hunter examnining his prize. "I made his life a living hell." He cast Iris a look. "You know that?" A laugh escaped his lips. "Of course you know that, you're a part of it. Every bad day Barry ever had-" Iris managed to grasp onto the top of the roof. Finding grip she slowly pulled herself up. She didn't want to give away that she had found purchase until it was too late for Zoom to react.

"-The death of his childhood pets." Zoom punched him in the gut and he groaned. "Me. The fact that you were his only childhood friend-" another punch. "Me. The time he fell down the stairs and broke his arm, failed his driving test, couldn't find a working pen during his exams, wasn't able to sleep before his big exams. All, me." He rained punches down as he explained every ordeal . "The fact he was late to his first date with a certain Iris West." Iris could almost see a sadistic smile on the blurry face of the Reverse Flash. "Me." Zoom dropped Barry to the ground and leaned over him, obviously percieving Iris to currently be a non-threat. She took the time to exert more effort in pulling herself onto the top of the roof. Once she was on the roof she could convince her leg to run at him, all she needed was one good hit to throw him out of the game. As she pulled herself to her hands and knees Zoom was speaking right in Barrys ear.

"Let's not forget the biggest achivement. The death of your mother-" Iris ran at him, pushing her way through her injured leg. Everytime he rweight pushed against it a shock of pain and complaint was sent coursing through her body. She pushed through the pain, if she could just strike Zoom while he was distracted then she was in for a chance.

AS she reached him though she tripped, her bad leg giving way. Instead of punching Zoom she merely managed to grab his cowl, ripping it from his face. "-Me." He turned to Iris in order to glare as his voice changed, unfiltered. Iris' eyes opened wide as she looked him right in the face, the face of someone she knew. "You." He smiled at her as thunder crackled in the distance. Barry turned his head up, his mouth moved but the words didn't seem to want to form. Zoom chuckled as lifted Barry up again. "What is it Mr.Allen? Speak up so I can hear you."

"You're going to pay for that..."

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Hidden 5 yrs ago Post by AndyC
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AndyC Guardian of the Universe

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"So then I take the fork from my salad, put it up to Lombard's face, and tell him 'if you can't keep your eyes from wandering, don't be surprised when you lose one,'" Lois says as we head down the stairs of the train platform, about two blocks from Grant Park for her meeting with Dr. Irons. "I mean, obviously I wouldn't actually do it, but you should've seen the look on his face."

"Why didn't you just report him to HR?" I ask, stepping over a puddle of fresh vomit on the cracked and overgrown sidewalk.

"I've handled mob bosses, terrorists, and Senators, Clark," she says with a chuckle. "I can handle the office creeper. Besides, being raised by a career soldier like my dad had at least one perk: if Lombard ever did try something, I'd snap half of his fingers before he even knew what was happening."

"I didn't know you were from a military family," I say.

About twenty paces behind us, a rusty powder-blue van with an idling engine has slowly pulled away from the curb and is now matching our speed. I give Lo a nudge, and without missing a beat, she starts walking faster.

"Army brat," she says, not so much as flinching at the thought that we're being tailed. "The old man's been traveling around the world blowing stuff up in the name of freedom since before I was born."

"My dad served for a while too, actually," I say, looking for an open shop or alleyway we can duck into as the van gradually accelerates. I could just turn around and flip the thing with one hand if I wanted, but I don't want to start making a mess-- not to mention expose my identity-- if I can avoid it. Better to just duck them. "Fought in the Gulf War about two years before they adopted me."

"Huh, so chances are your dad worked for my dad," says Lois, reaching into her bag for what I assume is her can of pepper spray. "Small world, isn't it, Smallv--*whuh!*"

While I'm focused on the approaching van, as soon as we pass a row of boarded-up stores, an arm shoots out from around the corner and pulls Lois into the alley. The van hits the gas, intent to either herd me into the alley with her or run me over. I lunge forward, and am met with the muzzle of a pump-action shotgun pointed at my face.

"All right, asshole, don't try nothin' stupid," says a man to my left, wearing grungy sweats and what looks like a respirator over his mouth and nose, and holding a knife to Lois's throat. "Wallet an' phone, now, or I cut this bitch and then my pal blows your fuckin' head off!"

Behind me, the van screeches to a halt, blocking off the alleyway from the street. Two more guys with respirators over their faces step out, one with a crowbar, the other with a bike chain.

"So, what's with the hardware-store masks, guys?" Lois asks, completely unfazed. "Are you trying to go for a sci-fi look? Or were you stripping out some old asbestos when you saw us pass by?"

"Shut your fuckin' mouth!" the knife-wielding mugger barks. "You won't be makin' jokes when the 'Cutioner turns your friend here extra fuckin' crispy!"

"'The 'Cutioner?'" I ask, fumbling for my wallet as a fifth figure emerges from the van. Like the others, he's got a mask covering his face, and is wearing some kind of high-tech suit.

"That's the Electrocutioner, you idiots," he says, cerulean arcs of artificial lightning crackling across the surface of his suit. "And you should feel thankful. You two are gonna be the first in a loooong line of people in this city who are gonna feel the thunder."

Putting my wallet on the ground, I then stand up slowly, my hands up, and look the 'Electrocutioner' in the eye.

"You don't have to do this," I tell him.

"Maybe you're right," he says with a shrug. "Maybe I just want to. Maybe I don't like out-of-towners telling me what I do and don't have to do. Maybe I'm gonna fry you because I don't like your attitude. Maybe I wanna make a name for myself by fryin' people who tell me I 'don't have to do this' til I get the Bat's attention, then I fry him too!"

He opens the palm of his hand, several thousand volts dancing across his fingertips. I don't break my glare as he places his palm directly on my forehead.

"Cops don't come to this part of town," he snarls. "And it's broad fuckin' daylight. So even the Bat-Man ain't comin' to save you today, pal."

He triggers the weapon, sending enough voltage to incinerate an average man in seconds through my body. It tingles a little bit.

"About Bat-Man not being here," I say, taking off my glasses. "I've got some good news, and some bad news."

Placing my own palm on his chest, I give him a light shove, which slams him into the side of the van hard enough to tip it over.

"Wh-what the--" the henchman with the knife sputters. "Y-you're, you're not--......ohhh, shit!"

"'Oh shit' is right," Lois sneers, then grabs the man's pinkie finger while he's distracted and pries it away, dislocating the finger and taking the knife away from his throat. She follows that with a hammer-fist to the man's groin, and as he doubles over, she smashes the point of her elbow into the back of his head.

The one with the crowbar swings as hard as he can at my head. I don't bother trying to avoid it, and instead let it bounce harmlessly off my skull. The vibrations from the impact resonate up the man's arm and he drops his weapon. I chuck the chain-wielding mugger into him, and both men crash hard into the brick wall of the alley.

In a panic, the man with the shotgun points his gun wildly, and fires. For a fraction of a fraction of a second, I grin, knowing that the buckshot might as well be spitballs. Then I realize it's not going to hit me at all.

It's going to hit Lois.

Time slows to a crawl as the buckshot pushes through the air across the two feet or so between the gun and Lois. I'm about four feet away now, closing as fast as I can.

In one of her first articles about me for the Planet, Lois described my top speed rather dramatically as "faster than a speeding bullet." And if it were just a bullet, I might be able to get there in time, to pluck the bullet out of the air. But not that many of them. Most of them are going to hit, and when they do....

Diving headlong, I try to put myself in between Lois and the buckshot. Inches stretch like miles between me and her, the shot growing ever closer. I'm not going to make it. Oh God, I'm not going to make it.

In the few millimeters she has left, I reach out as far as I can, and my fingertips brush against her hand. I'm sorry, Lois. I'm so sorry.

My hand takes hers for the last time as I see the buckshot shred through her shirt and connect with her chest.....

.......then bounce off harmlessly. It might as well have been a handful of birdseed.

As time speeds back up, Lois staggers back in shock as I crash on the ground in front of her.

"....the hell?" she says, as surprised as everyone else that there isn't a ragged hole through her torso.

The mugger with the shotgun stands gobsmacked, the gun clattering in his hands as he trembles, still pointed at the both of us as I stand up and glare at him.

"Start running," I order, and he obliges, dropping his weapon and scrambling away like the devil himself was after him. The 'Electrocutioner' and the rest of his goons are still lying on the ground around us, groaning in pain, as I turn to Lois.

"Oh my God, you're...you're okay? I say, the bravado in my voice fading now that the fight is over.

"Yeah, I...I think so?" she says, patting herself down to inspect for injuries while I try not to notice the huge gaping hole in the front of her blouse. "How I'm okay I have no idea, but--.....wait, let me see something."

Picking up the knife from the first mugger, she places the blade against the back of her hand. "Ah!" She winces as she gives herself a small cut, drawing a thin trickle of blood.

"Lois, what are you--"

"Conducting an experiment," she says, placing the same hand on my chest. She places the knife against the back of her hand a second time....and this time, the blade itself scratches.

"Huh," she mutters. "Now that's interesting."

"I guess it has something to do with my abilities," I say. "I've been able to expand my gravitational field around objects I'm holding so I can move them without damaging them. I didn't realize it worked on people, too."

"So, in theory," she says, taking a moment to suck on her wound, "as long as you're touching someone, they can't be hurt."

"I guess so."

She looks at me for a moment, raising a curious eyebrow.


"Nothing," she says, catching herself. "Just...opens up some possibilities. But we'll deal with that later. Right now, we should probably get going before the cops arrive. Besides, I still need to meet with Dr. Irons."

"You, *ahem*, might want to get a new top first," I remind her.

"What's--oh, oh Jesus!" she exclaims, finally aware of the damage done to her clothing and pulling her jacket closed. "Well, thanks for telling me now, Boy Scout! Hope you enjoyed the show."

"Hey, I didn't look," I say, taking off my own jacket and giving it to her so she can cover up. "Wouldn't be right."

She gives me another curious glance, then laughs.

"Hah! Your loss," she says. "We're not too far from the commercial district, there's gotta be a decent store around here somewhere. C'mon."

Holding my jacket closed with one hand, she grabs my hand with the other and leads me back out into the street.

She's taking this all in stride now, but looking back at the would-be super-villain lying in the wreck of his overturned van, and the shotgun lying on the asphalt, I can't help but start thinking of how much worse that could have gone. If I wasn't, well, me, we wouldn't have survived that. They would have killed the both of us, and who knows how many other people before someone stopped them. Even with me and my abilities, Lois very nearly didn't make it out of there.

That's Gotham City, I guess. Makes a hell of a first impression.
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Hidden 5 yrs ago Post by Supermaxx
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The Blue Beetle stars in...The Runaway: Issue #13

Previous Issue

O'erlanii - Temple of Derath'ath Machlan'n

Jaime dug his fingers between the entangling tendril and his throat, screaming until he felt blood rising up in his mouth. For all of his inhuman strength, the A'askvarii natives had been kicked into a ravenous frenzy by the malignant power that coursed through their alien veins. That power beat crimson within their cheeks, flooding into every nerve, pore and sinew as they thrashed and cut at the scarab with all of their might. Reyes tried to hold out. He tried to cut his way through their pulsating mass, sending sprays of blood and cancer out into the sea water; but it wasn't enough. It was far from enough.

He could feel his very skin peeling underneath their suction cups. Razor sharp beaks were tearing long, ugly strips from the suit's chitin as it screeched and screamed in utter, indescribable agony. Jaime felt it's pain through their shared nervous system, every inch of it slowly burning away underneath wave after wave of poignant trauma.

"Get...off.." Reyes turned his grip about, wrapping his fingers around the tentacle attempting to strangle him. Even as he felt sea water flowing inside his suit from the various puncture wounds the alien horde had created, he began to push back against them, gaining more and more leverage by the second. "...of..me!" With a mighty heave he threw the cephalopod over his head, sending it careening against the temple wall with enough force to crack the stone.

His blades melted away, replaced by a pair of igniting plasma cannons that he quickly turned on the rest of the crowd now that he could breathe. The water crackled and sizzled as blasts as hot as the sun filled the tight hallway, incinerating every living thing between Jaime and the other end of the hall. The water evaporated along the way, though the dead air was filled in by the crushing weight of the ocean in less than a second.

Melted stone mingled with the remains of blackened corpses as silence temporarily fell over the temple of the Goddess of Protection, offering Reyes momentary peace.

Turning his head down toward the opposite end of the corridor, Jaime took in a deep breath. 'Someone...someone said my name...' It could've very well been a hallucination due to a lack of oxygen. In fact, that was the most likely answer.

'But I heard it. I know I did.'

If there was even one person left alive and untouched by the infection, they would no doubt have fallen back to Derath'ath Machlan'n's great temple. The A'askvarii believed that she would never abandon them in times of need- and Jaime was pretty sure the end of the world qualified. With no option but to either way for more monsters to descend upon him or to seek out the helpless, he chose to advance down the hall, flying through the water as quickly as his boosters could carry him.



Jaime's screams rocked Brenda to her core, but she was doing her damndest not to show it. Paco was already on the edge of panic; he didn't need to see her start losing her cool if she didn't want him to go over the edge. She fought to keep the fear contained, swallowing it down even as Reyes's agonized cries reverberated through her head like a ringing gong.

"Come on, fight it. Fight that thing, Jaime!" She didn't know if he could hear her. She didn't even know if it mattered whether he was fighting against it's control or not. But the doctor- for all of his apparent madness- was the only one who'd offered them a solution for saving him; and that solution involved nearly killing him with whatever airborn toxin was contained within that cream-colored fog.

Reyes stumbled forward out of the mist, immediately falling down upon his hands and knees. The armored flesh of the monster was bubbling and popping, pus squirting out across it's ebony surface. Parts of it were peeling away, revealing the pinkish, distorted flesh of the boy trapped underneath. Dark marks were beginning to form across Jaime's visible skin- while it wasn't nearly as bad as what it was doing to the monster, it still looked incredibly painful. The parasite that clung so fiercely to him was being torn apart by the compound in the air, that much was clear; Brenda only hoped that her friend could survive the process to it's completion.

It looked as if it was working right up until Jaime began to speak.

"ノ ムᄊ ズんムフノ りム."

Words that could not sit on a human tongue flowed forth from his mouth, and the living shell around him began to slink and crawl back upon itself. The armor struggled against the melting of the compound, attempting to string it's liquid metal form together, weaving and bonding stronger than it had been before. Jaime fought to stand, clawing at the floor and tearing holes in the concrete in his slow rise to his feet.

He began to advance, his gaze set on Brenda. Yellowish, dead eyes tracked her every movement as the beast seemed to make for her at a crawl's pace.

"Jaime?" She felt her mouth go dry as she met those eyes and saw nothing of her friend in there. He wasn't the one in control. "You know me. And I know you would never hurt me-" She wasn't sure if she was trying to get through to her friend or if she was attempting to comfort herself moments before having an alien parasite tear her limb from limb. Whatever the purpose of her words, she kept speaking; it was all she could do in the moment to keep from breaking down. "We're- we're trying to help you. But to do that, we need you to...push through this. Yeah. Push through it. It should almost be done. Just hang in-"


The creature lunged at her, it's hands morphing and folding into some form of bladed weapons in a grotesque display of twisting flesh and mangling bone. Brenda took a step backward to dodge out of the way, Paco's scream echoing from behind her. Horrific sounds like the burning of sinew reached her ear as it swung for her, the razor sharp tip of the weapon cutting a slight hole through the center of her suit; she'd been too slow.

"Oh, shit. Shit! He cut my suit!" She cried out, slapping her hand up against the incision. She pressed her palm down as tightly against her chest as she could to keep it sealed; she couldn't let the fog leak inside and get to her body.

Paco must've finally realized that he had to do something as he leapt into action, rushing to grab Brenda's shoulders and drag her away from the alien. The fog was too crippling for it to give any sort of meaningful chase, allowing the two teenagers to retreat to a safe distance.

"You're losing him!" Doctor Caulder warned. "The host needs to be rejecting the Parainsectum's control for the agent to work to it's full affect. You must convince Jaime to let go of it for him to be free. If you do not hurry, the substance will kill him before it kills the parasite!"

"We're trying!" Paco screamed, his head swiveling away from Brenda and over toward the stumbling form of his friend. Tendrils of blueish, blackish liquid were flinging about within the fog, tearing away from the main mass before throwing themselves back at the body in the hopes of reconnecting themselves. It was a disgusting display that made Paco's stomach churn.

He couldn't let it get to him. He had to focus on saving his friend, no matter how terrible the situation looked. "The Jaime Reyes I know wouldn't let some two-bit alien mucus control him!" He yelled, apparently drawing that mucus's attention- and it's wrath- when it began to move even faster toward them. "


O'erlanii - Temple of Derath'ath Machlan'n

Statues of the goddess grew more common the deeper into the corridors and byways that Jaime went. Offerings of harvested algae and crops had been placed within baskets at the foot of some. Others had livestock thrown onto thermite pyres sitting under their outstretched tendrils. It was all incredibly familiar at this point.

He knew their customs, their beliefs and their culture just as well as the rest of the natives- because it was his culture, too. He had bowed at the feet of these same statues. He had offered up his life to Derath'ath Machlan'n the day he had grown into a man.

He had lived among the A'askvarii for decades, adapting to their lifestyle and integrating himself deeply into their society. Yet...

He knew not why.

Why was he here in this place?

When had he come here?

Who had sent him?

There were no answers buried within the darkest corners of his mind. Only vague feelings that something was amiss. Like some part of him had been...removed or corrupted. It didn't make a whole lot of sense. Ma'at Hur'r had searched all of his life for the meaning behind the scarab, but it had never offered him anything more than a proverbial shrug of the shoulders.

He ran a tendril along the wall, feeling the coarse, rough stone through the living chitin that adorned each of his six limbs. This armor was the only reason he had survived his encounters with the infestation so far. It was the reason that he was the last of his kind that still roamed free of that malignant force's control. And it would be the reason he would die alone in these harrowed halls, cold and broken.

But he was sure he had heard a voice. It had called out a name, though...he was not sure if it was his own. He had to find it. He had to push deeper into the temple. The last bastion lay not far from where he currently swam; perhaps only a few minutes away at top speed. Pushing onward, he cast aside the dread that lingered so heavily upon his mind. He had to focus. If he could save even one life- even one...

It took several minutes, but Ma'at eventually found himself at his destination. A great gate stretching forty feet into the air and carved with ancient symbols of his people. He remembered coming here with his father when he was a boy. It was a trek all the young men took when they came of age- they came to see the place where the goddess was supposedly born. Her cradle was said to lay on the other side of the door, in a chamber so large that one couldn't see the walls nor ceiling for miles.

Ma'at Hur'r stabbed his tentacles into the stone, a painful feeling welling up in his chest as he violated this sacred place. It was the safest chamber on the planet. If the priests had survived the outbreak, they would have fled inside with as many civilians as they could. Perhaps they had even taken some of the offerings and sacrifices inside so that they might sustain themselves while the plague ravaged the world and ran itself dry. He could only hope that was the case as he forced open the doors, using the scarab's great might to drag those mighty stone gates open wide.

It creaked and shuddered, though after much straining he managed to pry the threshold wide open, revealing the chamber that lay beyond.

He found not the cradle of Derath'ath Machlan'n, but instead something so entirely alien that his mind could nary process what it was being shown.

The sea had given way to air and grass and trees. Concrete turned to some kind of black pavement, with odd...white and yellow streaks painted on it. It looked like some sort of street. Ma'at saw a single structure on the other side of the pavement. It was forged from some kind of wood- a substance foreign to the ocean world of his home, yet somehow familiar...knowledge offered up by Khaji Da, no doubt.

A fence made of steel chains linked together was drawn before the odd building. He moved on unsteady limbs toward it, dragging himself along the ground until he passed through an unlocked gate. More stones led across the grass and toward the porch, where the door appeared to be not only unlocked, but ajar. Raising a brow, he entered inside.

It hit him square in the back with enough momentum and strength to drag Ma'at to the ground. He let out a surprised cry as he felt a pair of powerful limbs take hold of his back from behind, wrapping about his chest. He looked down at them, even more surprised by what he saw there. They were not the tentacles of one of his fallen brothers, but...hairless monkey arms. Pink flesh pulled taut over powerful muscles seemed to stretch as droplets of salty water cascaded down it.


How did Ma'at know what sweat was?

"Release me!" He cried in a tongue not his own. "Release me at once!" With all of the strength in his- legs?!- Ma'at threw himself backwards into the wall, sending them both crashing through it and into an unoccupied sitting room. Wood and drywall caught in his mouth as he fell to the ground, causing Ma'at to cough with lungs he shouldn't have had.

"No, no! I can't!" The man cried out, his voice cracking and broken. Sorrow seeped into his every word as he wrestled all of the harder to keep a hold on Ma'at. As strong as the man was, Ma'at knew he was impossibly stronger. Yet he felt an impossible tug on his mind that kept him from using that strength to lash out against his attacker.

"I- I won't let you go. Not until I have you back!" The words of his attacker were strange yet moving. They made no sense yet Ma'at felt himself on the verge of tears at the overwhelming emotion of the one attempting to hold him down and drag him to the floor.

"What is happening? Who are you?!" He demanded, the world changing colors around him as the details melted away into vague sensations and imaginings of a world far from earth. Terrors concocted by an imagination belonging to another were broken down as reality fought tooth and nail to restore itself to him.

"It's ME! It's Paco! You know me, Jaime- I'm...I'm..."

"My...My friend..."


'Jaime Reyes. The man that used our hands to kill is near. Take vengeance, Jaime Reyes. Do not throw me away until our goal is-'

The world went black.
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Hidden 5 yrs ago Post by HenryJonesJr
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The first guy doesn't see me. I crash through the window of one of the hallways of the hospital, smashing into him and sending him tumbling violently over the reception desk behind him. Another one down the hall draws his gun on me, and I fire a webline to the rolling chair behind him. With a flick of my wrist, the chair flies through the air and slams into the back of his head, knocking him out cold.

The footfalls of more approaching cartel members echo through the halls, and I shoot myself up, squeezing into a ventilation shaft, closing it behind me to lie in wait. From below, I can see five other men come down the hallway and stop to survey the scene I created. Some of them shift uncomfortably. They're afraid. They don't want to be here.

Good. Let's use that.

I drop out of the vent behind the men. The one closest to me raises his hand above his shoulder, which I then web-up and yank hard, making him knock himself out.

"Stop hitting yourself!" I yell as I do the same thing to the guy standing next to him. "Stop hitting yourself!"

The remaining men pull hunting knives off their belts, ready for some close combat action. Well, they think they're ready, but they're not, "Gentlemen, do we really need to do this? I mean, the door is *right* there."

The one closest to me comes at me with a sloppy attempt to stab me. With my spider sense, it seems like it's coming at me in complete slow motion. I simply step out of the way, grab his wrist, and twist, breaking it and causing him to drop the weapon.

"See, I give you an out, and here you go, wasting my generous offer," I sigh as the other two try and come at me at the same time. A good decision, but it's not gonna work. Not tonight. The Black Tarantula has turned my city into a warzone. I'm in no way going to allow that to pass, and his goons are nothing but stepping stones to getting to him.

The first guy comes at me high, and I quickly attach a webline to his hand holding the weapon, jump to the ceiling, and attach it to him. His partner slices at the spot I was standing a mere second earlier. I drop down on top of him, driving my knee into his back, and slamming him into the tile floor.

The guy who's webbed to the ceiling tries to kick me with about as much strength as a drunk baby. I catch his leg, and look up at him sideways, "Seriously? That's just rude. I'm here dealing with your friend, and you try and kick me in the face. Did I try and kick you in the face?"

"You knocked out the rest of my men!" he yells in anger.

"Well they started it!" I shoot back, and web his foot to his unconscious friend. "Now, tell me where your boss is."

"I will never betray the Tarantula."

"Oh come on," I roll my eyes under the mask. "You can't be that fanatical."

"We believe in our leader," he spits back at me. "We are loyal to our family. To our cause."

"Oh please. Don't act all high and mighty," I fick him across the forehead. "You're drug pushers and human traffickers, not some noble cause."

Behind me, I can see one of the first guys I took on starting to come to.

"We are a glor-" a shot of webbing shuts the guy up as I walk to the one who just woke up.

"So," I say webbing him up so I don't have to worry about him trying to attack me like an idiot, "like I said, where's your boss? And if you can, be quick with it. I assume more of your friends are on their way, and I really don't have it in me to entertain more tonight."

"He's on the roof," the cartel member answers immediately. "I'm gonna be honest, I didn't sign up to take on no superhero. You want the Tarantula, you can have him."

I turn and look at the other guy, "See? Was that so hard?"

I quickly make my way to the hole I already made in the side of the building. Climbing up a few stories, I stand, becoming parallel with the ground far below, and fire a webline from each hand. I walk myself backwards, creating a great strain on the lines, before letting go and shooting myself up to the roof.


Captain George Stacy watches in amazement as the Spider-Woman shoots up the side of the building like a bullet.

"Sir," one of the techs gets Stacy's attention, "Spider-Woman took out a big group of the Cartel members."

The team managed to hack into the hospital's security cameras. The fact that the goons hadn't shut them off sent up a red flag in Stacy's mind, but he is hoping it was a mere oversight. Criminals taking over a hospital are at the end of their rope. They're dangerous, sure, but they can also be sloppy. He really, really hopes that's the case with the Silk Cartel.

"How many?" the veteran cop asks as he begins to mull over the options rolling around in his head.

"Eight or so," the tech portends. "Leaving about-"

"Twenty-five or so," Stacy nods. "How do they look?"

"Still not making fortifications," the tech responds. "If I didn't know any better, I'd say a few were napping. These aren't the best of the best we're dealing with here, sir. They're still just mob goons."

"Mob goons that still have AK-47s in the biggest hospital in the city," the Captain shoots back. But he knows they need to go in. While the Spider-Woman is held up with Black Tarantula, he can go in, clear the Silk Cartel off the map, and maybe capture the vigilante as well. That was a risk he needed to take.

"Get the team ready. We're going in."


My momentum lets up, and I make a soft, graceful landing on the edge of the roof.

"Oh man I totally did not think that would work as well as it did," I shake my head and say to myself, right before my spider sense explodes with a warning.

A piece of the HVAC system on the roof barely misses my head thanks to a well-timed dodge. Rolling underneath it, I snap a webline to it to make sure it doesn't fall on someone below. At the end of a roll, I look up to see the Black Tarantula standing across the rooftop for the first time. Donned in black with some white accents, he almost looks like he's trying to rip off my look. That bastard. I worked hard on this getup.

But his fashion sense isn't what draws my attention the most. No, it's his physique. And not in a "Oh look at the big strong man" kinda of way. No, more like in a "Holy crap how many steroids is that dude on" kind of way. His shirt strains under his unnatural-looking arms, almost as if he's Dr. Jekyll in mid-transformation.

"Ouch, buddy," I yell across to him. "You know I'm sure they have something for bee stings *inside* the hospital right."

"Be quiet," the Tarantula growls. "You have stood in my way for too long."

I stand, and shrug, "Dude, this is the first time we've ever met."

That ticks him off.

"No, but you have ruined my grand plan all the same!"

He rushes at me like a rabid rhinoceros, putting cracks in the roof concrete as he does. This is no normal guy, no matter what the intel says. Something's changed him, just they like they changed Flint Marko. Someone is making supervillains out of normal villains.

Not cool.

He's on me in the blink of an eye. Usually I'm used to being by far the fastest in a fight, but he's almost at my level. Almost. A series of flips keeps me away from his powerful blows, and instead he makes Swiss cheese of the roof we're standing on. Every time he misses, he seems to get angrier, which makes his arms even more monstrously large.

The Tarantula swings one of those wrecking balls my way, and this time I don't have the time to get out of the way. I opt to catch it, and whoa boy is that a mistake. It's like trying to catch a fallen redwood tree. The impact sends me back on my heels, which promptly dig into the concrete below me.

"Barry!?" I yell while straining against his strength. "Barry Bonds!? Is that where you went after retirement!? No way!"

With a growl, he swipes at me with another of his paws. I try to dodge it, but he manages to clip me in the hip. The powerful punch sends me hurtling through the air, before I crash into some duct work, crumpling it like a soda can. I think if this was a cartoon, stars or little, imaginary birdies would be doing the conga line around my head. This guy packs one serious punch.

"No quipping against the super strong cartel leader. Noted."

Before I can really regain my footing, he's hovering over me like a lion and a kill. Well, unlucky for him, I don't go so quietly. I do the one thing these guys never expect, and kick the Black Tarantula right square in the testicles. He lets out what, to me, sounds like the sound of an entire elephant deflating. While he's doubled over in pain, I press my advantage by delivering as strong of an uppercut as I can muster. It sends him stumbling back, and sends my hand into Pain Town.

"Holy crap, what is your jaw made out of?" I wince and shake the pain out of my extremity.

Suddenly, we're bathed in a bright, white light. I'd like to think it's the aliens coming to rescue me from this situation. Or maybe the rapture, if you're feeling Kirk Cameron-y. But no, it's just a police helicopter. It hovers a good thirty to forty feet above us, between the two taller buildings around the hospital.

Uh-oh. Spider sense is giving me one hell of a warning, and I dive behind an industrial AC unit on the roof just in time to dodge some gunfire from said police helicopter.

"Seriously!? That is so not cool!"

I peak around the AC unit, and see Black Tarantula rip another unit straight out of the roof. As he does, it looks like his muscles burst out of their casings, and his skin looks...green?

But that just distracts me, because I almost don't realize what the Tarantula is going to do.

"No!" I yell and fire a webline to one of the neighboring buildings as the cartel member tosses the unit at the chopper. I don't have time to crawl up the face of the skyscraper this time. I break out into a full out run up the side of a building. As I do, the AC unit outpaces me, and crunches into the side of the helicopter. The rotors, as they pass by it, splinter off and rain into the windows I'm running on, shattering them.

I kick off before I lose the surface I need, and land on the helicopter, now in full tailspin mode. Acting quickly, I just start firing weblines in every direction I possibly can. I don't think I've ever worked this quick with my webbing before. You know those sped up nature videos of spiders cocooning their prey? That's what it feels like I'm doing. In mere moments, there are dozens of lines running from the chopper to the buildings book ending it.

A fire bursts out from the motor that drives the rotor, and I empty as much webbing as I can into it, hoping it will snuff the flames out. Luckily, it does that while also stopping the motor in its tracks, ensuring it won't spark up again.

Crawling over to the window, I knock and say to the cops, who all look okay, "Next time let the superheroes take care of the supervillains. Oh and guns are bad. Kay bye!"

I hop down to the roof, which is now just a dozen or so feet from the hospital's roof.

Unfortunately, Black Tarantula is waiting for me. He comes from behind the helipad, full of ferocity. This time, he doesn't come at me like a mindless animal. This time he shows the martial arts training that's made him famous for killing his enemies with his bare hands. It takes my spider sense working overtime and my super speed just to keep him from cleaning my clock with punches and kicks. As his anger and frustration grows, I can see his exposed skin changing even more. While I can't get a good look, it almost seems like he's growing scales.

"You will not defeat me!" he snarls. As he does his mask begins to rip, revealing what looks like sharp teeth in his mouth, "I am the Black Tarantula! I was chosen by the ancestors! I am to be the king of all crime! All I need to do is defeat you, and the Kingpin will fall before me!"

The Tarantula feigns a punch to my right side, but when I move to block it he kicks me square in the chest, sending me tumbling back towards the edge of the roof. Needing a breather, I go to web his foot to the roof in order to give myself so separation. Instead, my webshooter protests with a puff of air, almost as if it's sticking its tongue out at me.

"Of course. Good old Spider-Woman luck."

Suddenly, he kicks me again, in the abdomen, sending me into the air, before he spikes me down with a karate chop to my back. I roll away as I slam into the ground, but suddenly find myself on the edge of the roof. Nowhere else to go, and now I'm hurt. I can feel those blows getting to me. I can heal quick, sure, but I don't have the time now.

"And now, Spider-Woman," he says as he picks me up and holds me over his head, "it is time for you to die."

They say your life flashes before your eyes when you're about to die. That may be true when death comes suddenly as a surprise. But as I'm held over the head of the Black Tarantula, about to be tossed to my doom, my life crawls before me. A million thoughts roll through my mind. What have I done to Peter and my father? What happens to dad after they peel my mask off down below and they find my face beneath it? How are my friends going to remember me knowing I both lied to them and failed them?

My worried mind is roused from its thoughts by six booming shots. I crane my neck around to find my father, Captain George Stacy, pointing a smoking service revolver my way. He's one of the few that's still allowed to carry the high caliber magnum thanks to a special order from the commissioner.

I then look down, and see the exit wounds of six bullets to the Tarantulas heart. He wobbles slightly, groaning some sort of threat to me I suppose. I feel his grip loosen, and the two of us tumble off the edge of the building. I manage to grab the ledge, saving myself from certain doom. I can't get the Tarantula's wrist in time, however. I watch his lifeless form tumble head over foot towards the street below, and turn away before it hits the ground.

Pulling myself up to the roof, I find myself face-to-face with Dad, who's pointing his gun at me, "I reloaded. Put your hands behind your head. You're under arrest."

Crap. This is it. This is exactly what I was afraid of the moment dad got the superhero task force job. One day, this was going to happen. He's too good of a cop to not catch me. I just always hoped this was going to be somewhere down the line, after I had made sure the city was safe. Not now.

But there's only one possible way out of this.

Here goes nothing.

"I don't think so," I respond, shaking my head. "You won't shoot me."

"I shot him," he motions to the ledge behind me. "How do you know I won't shoot you?"

"Because I think deep down you know I can help the city. Plus..." Making sure I move in very slow movements and that my hood is up so only Dad can see inside, I take up my mask just enough to show him, and stare my father in the eyes, "I know you won't shoot your own daughter."

The look of shock I see as I pull the mask back down breaks my heart. The betrayal is obvious. The confusion is overwhelmed by it like a tidal wave. The gun drops to his side, and he begins to stammer.

"I'm sorry, Dad. I should have told you. I should have told you a long time ago. But this is who I am now. I'm not going to stop. I can't stop. If I do, guys like Black Tarantula are going to win. And when you have great power, you have great responsibility. Uncle Ben always used to tell us that. I wish I would have listened to him earlier. Also, I'm sorry that I have to make this look good."

I toss the final web grenade in my arsenal at my father and detonate it, casing him in webbing for the second time this summer as I make my escape.

But this time, everything is going to change.

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Hidden 5 yrs ago 5 yrs ago Post by Morden Man
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Morden Man

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Triskelion, Washington DC

Deep beneath the Triskelion the Silver Surfer stared impassively out of his clear cell. He had been stood, his hands bound by vibranium handcuffs that were of SHIELD super scientist Rachna Koul’s design, watching the same point impassively for the best part of two hours. It was almost as if he was expecting something. Of course, to the Surfer time was immaterial. He could cross the expanse of space in what felt like the blink of an eye. Next to that, waiting patiently for his unauthorised visitor to arrive was as nothing.

For Sue Storm, making her way into the Surfer’s cell had proved more challenging than she had anticipated. Koul’s identification card alone wasn’t enough. The Surfer was being watched around the clock – as you’d expect given the showing he’d put on against Superman and the Flash. Tricking the guards watching the Surfer’s cell had proved easy enough. It was, as ever, the bio-sensors that were a challenge.

But it didn’t take her long to devise a plan of sorts. She had, after all, lived and worked side-by-side with Reed Richards long enough to know that there were no unsolvable problems. With the help of some inventive hard-light constructs, Sue bopped, weaved, ducked, and slid her way into the Surfer’s cell without setting off a single alarm.

She would have afforded herself a small fist pump in congratulations if not for the sudden booming of the Surfer’s voice in her direction.

“They may not be able to see you, Susan Storm, but I can."

Still cloaked in invisibility, Sue crept closer towards the translucent cell that SHIELD had encased the Surfer in. It was ingenious. Even at a glance, it was clear that the organisation had spared no expense bringing the herald in. They meant to keep him – for good. And with what Sue knew of the Surfer from her world, she couldn’t quite countenance letting that come to pass. Simply put, it was wrong.

One of Sue’s hands lifted towards her chest and she neared the front of the Surfer’s cell. “You know who I am?”

The Surfer nodded.

“The power cosmic grants me many gifts.”

Suddenly Sue became aware that the Surfer’s cell was being watched from every angle, the world’s most expensive technology being to deployed to monitor the herald in the event of an escape attempt. It occurred to her that invisibility only went so far.

Sue glanced towards a camera in the corner of the room. “Can they hear us?”

“The restraints they have designed for me only dampen my connection to the power cosmic, they do not sever it completely – even your world's greatest minds could not achieve such a feat.”

It was not braggadocio, but a statement of fact. Everything that left the Surfer’s mouth was cold, his voice completely stripped of emotion and empathy, but there was something beneath it. There had to be something beneath it – otherwise they never would have been able to reach Norrin on their world.

Sue studied the Surfer for a few seconds as she took a few slow, gentle steps towards his cell.

“If you know who I am, then you know where I really come from.”

Each step was cushioned by a hard-light construct. They ensured that pressure pads beneath the floor went undisturbed and any sound from the Invisible Woman’s steps were captured. She stopped just before the Surfer’s cell and stood with what appeared to be only inches of glass between them. In it she could see her own reflect laid over the Surfer’s face.

“My world was destroyed. Everyone I know and loved murdered. If you’re here, Norrin, then Galactus isn’t far behind – and with him comes death for everyone and everything on this world. I won’t let that happen. Not again.”

Sue’s jaw tightened on that last word. Half in sadness at recalling the fate of her fallen word and half in anger at the prospect of another world razed with fire. For a moment there was a hint of recognition in the Surfer’s eyes – as if acknowledging a challenge. Though she was not a strong as Superman or fast as the Flash, Sue Storm was every bit as powerful. In ways that perhaps she had yet come to appreciate, but the Surfer, with all the wisdom the power cosmic granted him, did.

“Have you come to threaten me?”

The Invisible Woman shook her head as if disgusted by the very prospect of it. “I’ve come to reason with you.”

One of Sue’s hands pressed against the surface between them. It was clear from the touch that it wasn’t glass and clearer still, by the way the Surfer lifted his hands despite the restraints around them, neither it nor the restraints were enough to keep the Surfer there truly against his will.

“Search my memories, Norrin. No, better yet, I want you to feel them. You’ll see that what Superman said about your master is true. The bargain you struck, to save Zenn-La, Galactus broke it the moment you entered his service. You owe him nothing – least of all your loyalty.”

The Invisible Woman willed the weight of her suffering along her hand and through the glass. Her memories, but more still, all the feelings of those Sue Storm had loved, had called friends, were sent coursing along her arm and through the divide into the Surfer without warning. His eyes opened as the information flooded his brain and through it all a smidgen of the Surfer’s past eked its way into Sue’s mind.


Visibly in pain, the Surfer pried his hand away from the surface. There was a shockwave that knocked him off his feet and onto the ground of his cell.

Sue staggered backwards and tried to decode the memories that had leaked out into her mind. A baby taken from his father at birth and raised on a diet of unbearable torture. An escape attempt – tens, hundreds, thousands of them – all to nothing. Only to find himself, once finally free, forced into the service of an unspeakable evil.

“You’re not him,” Sue muttered as she began to regain her bearings.

For the first time since Sue had locked eyes on the Surfer, he spoke in a voice that sounded somewhat human.

“The death, the despair, it's ... it's like nothing I've ever seen.”

Suddenly Clark’s failure to reach “Norrin” during the Central City incident made sense. Of course the Surfer didn’t care about Zenn-La, he wasn’t from Zenn-La, he was from somewhere else. A place that Sue hoped to never have any reason to visit.

“I thought the reason Superman couldn’t reach you was because you were in too deep but you’re not at all. I could feel your pain. Your anguish. You’re someone else beneath there, but you’re still someone goo-

There was a sudden explosion from above them. Even eight feet beneath the ground in a state-of-the-art holding cell meant to hold the world’s most dangerous metahumans, Sue felt the tremors. Her first instinct was to look round at the Surfer.

“Is it happening?”

Still burdened by the weight of the memories that Sue had forced upon him, the Surfer shook his head matter-of-factly.

“When my master arrives, it will be your whole world that trembles.”

A deep, throbbing klaxon sounded and suddenly the Surfer’s cell became flooded by blood red lights. His silver skin looked as if it had been bathed in blood. The emotion in the Surfer’s eyes began to slip and the cold, hard persona began to creep its way back over his features.

“No, we’re not done here,” Sue said as she slammed a fist against his cell in frustration. “There are still things we need to talk ab-”

The Surfer slunk back into the darkness of his cell.

“Go, Susan Storm.”

Sue’s body hummed with the power cosmic. In the darkness of the Surfer’s cell, she saw the herald’s hands glowing with energy – and let out a shocked cry as the energy made its way towards her person. When she opened her eyes, she found herself stood outside the Triskelion. A trail of thick black smoke was escaping from a hole in the side of the building. SHIELD was under attack.
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Hidden 5 yrs ago Post by HenryJonesJr
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I sit in the dark, a ziploc bag of ice sitting on my bruised ribs and tender back, reciting in my head what I'm going to say to Dad when he walks through that door. No matter what I play in my head, nothing sounds even remotely close to what Captain George Stacy will buy as a good reason why I'm doing what I'm doing. He's been through so much the past few years. First he lost Mom, and now his only child is running around in a mask fighting super-powered gangbangers. I can't imagine how afraid he is. I can't imagine how worried he is. Hell, he might not even believe I even made it home, the way the city is tonight.

"Good job, Stacy," I say to myself, sinking further into the couch, the only illumination comes from a streetlight filtering through the blinds hanging over the living room windows. "You've probably broken one of the most badass cops in New York freakin' City. Real quality super heroics. It's no wonder he was going to shoot you."

Tonight definitely did not go the way I was hoping it would. In my mind I saw myself as the conquering hero, heading in and wiping out the Silk Cartel in one fell swoop. Instead I got the crapped kicked out of me by an opponent that had some serious combat chops. I mean, it didn't help that the guy was on some weird, mutanigenic stuff that turned him green and super strong. Still, I've dealt with super powered villains before. The Black Tarantula's fighting ability is what took me out of the game, and had me close to death.

"What the hell are you thinking?" My Dad's voice rouses me from my thoughts. I'm so in my own head that I don't hear him come through the door and close it behind him.

He looks broken. His shoulders are slumped, something I don't think I've ever seen before. His hair is disheveled. Even his mustache looks like it's out of wack. I've literally never seen him like this before. Sure there have been times when he had a long night at work or a long night at the hospital with mom, but he's never looked defeated like this.

"Did you hear me?" he looks up from his shoes, showing his tired eyes. "What the hell are you thinking."

My mind races over the reasons I played in my mind mere moments ago. But none of them come out of my mouth. Instead, I finally say, "What I said on the roof of the hospital still stands, Dad. This is who I am. I was given these great powers. And like I said, Uncle Ben always told us 'With great power, comes great responsibility'. I know he said that to us, and I know he said it to you too on more than one occasion. I can't sit around and watch when I can do these things."

"So just because you turned into this, you think you need to put your life on the line?" I can tell he's holding back tears. "You take the law into your own hands? I taught you better than that."

"Dad," I stand, wincing from the pain, "I know you did. But what happens if I don't fight people like Black Tarantula and he takes down a helicopter like he did tonight? Those three men die if I'm not there."

"What if you create people like him!?" he yells at me, clearly losing his composure. "What if he only became what he was because he needed to take out a superhero? What happens when more people like him show up in New York because you draw them out?"

"Are you kidding me, Dad!?" I go into my phone and beginning streaming videos to the TV. Superman catches a bus. The Flash streaks through the streets of Central City. The man known as Thor controls the thunder. "Look at all this! Look at it! These people are going to show up no matter what. What do you want me to do when that happens? Sit on the sidelines? Watch people die when I know I could have saved them? Do you know how selfish that is? Because I do. I was selfish when I first got these powers."

Tears start streaming down my face as I speak to him, baring my soul as I haven't done to anyone since all this started, "I saw one of the banks we went to for money for Mom's procedure being robbed. I could see one of the bankers that rejected us cowering in fear as a gun was waved in his face. I could have stopped it. Instead, I gave into my desire for revenge. I gave into selfish desires. I stood by and watched as the bank robber escaped. A cop came across him, and a chase started. The bank robber carjacked someone to try and escape. You know who that person was?"

Of course he does. But he says nothing. His body wavers as he seems like he's going to collapse. But all he does is shake his head.

"It was Uncle Ben, Dad," I half say/half cry. I quickly dissolve into a blubbering mess, telling him the secret absolutely no one outside of I know. "Uncle Ben died because I sat around. Uncle Ben died because I didn't use the gifts I was given. That's why I can never do that again. That's why I'm never going to stop being Spider-Woman. You can yell. You can ground me. Hell, you can send me to military school or something. But where ever I am, I am going to be out on those streets, where ever they are, protecting people. My conscience can't take another innocent person dying because I was thinking of myself."

He doesn't say anything or move for a good, long while. After a few moments, he stumbles to the kitchen, pulls a bottle of scotch and two glasses out of a cabinet and pours himself two fingers worth. He slides a chair out from under the table, the legs grinding over the tile. He flops down into it and takes a gulp of the liquor. He kicks another chair out from under the table, refills his glass as well as the other, and motions for me to sit down. When I do, he pushes the second glass my way and nods, indicating I should pick it up.

"Seriously?" I look at him in amazement.

"Just take it, will you," he rolls his eyes, his demeanor finally breaking. "After that. After tonight. We both need a drink."

I swirl the amber liquid in its glass, the strong aroma stinging my nose slightly. I take a timid sip, the smokey, earthy flavor overpowering my senses. I'm sure I make a slight face, and my dad chuckles a little bit, and so do I.

"Yea, well, I didn't like it much at first either," he shrugs and takes a sip. "Does Peter know?"

"About the powers? Yes. He made the suit, the web shooters, everything. About Uncle Ben? No. I haven't had the heart to tell him yet."

He nods as I take a sip, warming to the idea of whiskey already, "I can't imagine what you've been feeling with that. I'm not going to judge you. Every cop has had one of those moments. A mistake. A selfish moment. A walk over the line. If they can atone for that, if they can accept responsibility, it means it will never happen again. I had one of those moments. When I was a rookie. A guy held up in his house with his wife and son. Said he was gonna kill them. I was the first on the scene. Tried to talk him down. Couldn't do it. Sometimes I wonder what I could have done to fix it."

Swirling the glass again, I look up at him, "You never told me that."

"Never thought you were ready," he admits and finishes his second glass. "But now I know you are. Just like I know, deep down, you do have to be Spider-Woman. And I guess I have to help you with that."

"How are you gonna help?" my eyebrows raise at him.

"Well first, we need to find someone to teach you how to fight," he looks at me with a hint of disappointment. "From what I saw you don't know how to throw a punch."

"Well, to be fair, I usually am stronger than the people I fight," I put my hands up. "But I was actually thinking the same thing."

"And then I'm gonna help you find out who make Black Tarantula into that...thing."

Standing and finishing my drink, I throw my arms around my father, giving him a bear hug, "I know you're worried. I don't blame you. I promise I'll be careful. Well, as careful as I can be. I love you."

"I love you too, sweetheart."


Weeks Later

The bell rings and I slam my locker shut. From behind, I'm bumped by Liz Allen, who giggles bitchily. I turn to see the raven-haired she-bitch walking arm-in-arm with Flash Thompson, star quarterback and mega doofus. The two have tried their best to make my friends and my lives a living hell. Sometimes, back in the day, they managed to do just that. But hey, I have super powers now.

"I think you need to bench press Flash over your head," Peter says as he comes up next to me. "Then they'll definitely leave us alone."

"Yea, then I'll have supervillains interrupting lunch. Can't have that."

"Good point," he concedes.

Since the incident with the Black Tarantula, my life has not calmed down. It make things a lot easier now that Dad knows, of course. I don't have to sneak in and out of the house to go on patrol. Of course, that was replaced by homework. Having to fit that in along with the expanding gang war across the city has been really, really fun.

If I had any thoughts that thing would get a bit easier with the Tarantula off the board, I have quickly been proven wrong. Without him and the Maggia leadership, things have become even more hectic. Now I have scores of people trying to carve their own piece of the pie, rather than the few I had before.

Still, I think things are starting to look up.

"I hope everyone did the reading!" my teacher says happily. "Because we're going to have a pop quiz."

Of course.
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Hidden 5 yrs ago Post by Lord Wraith
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Thor knelt before Odin as his father paced back and forth before the throne of Asgard, his spear clashed against the floor with every angry step as he berated the arrogant prince before him. On either side of the throne stood Thor’s brothers, the youngest, his half-brother, Baldur and his adoptive brother, Loki. While Baldur stood stoic and unblinking, Loki stood with his head bowed, his chin firmly pressed to his chest, his jaw clenched as he resisted the urge to revel in his brother’s dishonor while their father reproached Thor like a spoiled child.

“You were explicitly told not to meddle in the affairs of mortals!” Odin roared as Thor remained bowed on one knee, head knelt as his axe, the dreaded Járnbjörn, laid on the gold-tiled floor before him.

“In your arrogance, you have aided a tyrant, a relentless savage!” Holding Gungnir accusingly towards Thor, Odin’s face twisted in disgust as he looked towards his son.“You were sworn to protect the realm and all those within it, not to show favouritism to the first mortals that threw themselves at your feet.”

Resigning to his chair, Odin looked wearily at Thor as raised a hand to his temple, massaging the weathered skin behind the long silver strands of hair.

“My brother put too much faith in you, I should have followed my instincts and waited until your brother, Baldur came of age.” Odin lamented. You are too much like Tyr, always looking for your next fight or worse, your next fuck.”

Raising his head, Thor looked at his father, hurt and resentment in his eyes as his hand reached for his axe. Suddenly, Odin’s one eye rolled in its socket, stopping to look towards Thor as a blast emitted from Gungnir’s point that sent the axe spinning across the pristine tiled floor.

“That was a weapon forged for a prince, but you have made it the tool of an executioner. It is tainted with the blood of innocent men, the cries of their women and the screams of their children.” Thor froze as Odin continued to speak. “If you reach for that weapon, then you will become the executioner I fear you already are.” He raised an accusatory finger towards the prince.

“And if that is the case then indeed, this is truly a dark day for Asgard.”

“My lord, I only aided the mortal in attempting to reclaim his homeland from injustice. I did not indeed to do any wrong.” Thor replied solemnly as he began to stand. “My intentions were-”

“You dare speak back to me, boy!” Odin roared as Thor began to stand. “Get out of my sight before I have you removed from my presence!” With that Loki couldn’t help but let out a snicker that prompted Odin to spin around at a speed that none of his sons had ever seen before.

“Never has the Throne of Asgard endured such disrespect. Out!” He continued to yell. “All of you!”

Wanting to avoid any more of their father’s wrath, the three princes hastily exited the throne room. Looking towards his brothers, Thor curled a fist as Loki sneered towards him.

“How are you going to fix this?” Loki taunted, “March on down to Midgard and fight another war? Maybe kill your savage and hang his head on a pole as a warning.”

“That could actually work.” Thor replied as Baldur raised a palm to his face.

“The Allfather was very clear that we are not to meddle in the affairs of mortals.”

“But, Baldur, Thor has already meddled, therefore by meddling again he is undoing his meddling. The Allfather would have no choice to forgive him and reinstate Thor as the official protector of the realm.” Loki replied as Baldur rolled his eyes, opening his mouth to respond only for Thor to speak over him.

“Loki makes a good point.” He stated as Baldur let out a groan while Loki snickered. “If I remove Úrndallr from his bloodied throne, then the balance will be restored.” Thor mused as he suddenly turned, heading towards the Bifrost. Loki grinned ear to ear as Baldur rolled his eyes and walked the other way.

“I would be getting some practice with your sword Bal, I think the nine are going to need a new protector.”

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 9 : 0 0 a m | T H E T R I S K E L I O N

The large mobile airbase entered into the airspace above Washington, the pilot guiding the massive jet towards the Triskelion as he initiated landing procedures. Though dwarfed by S.H.I.E.L.D.’s helicarriers, Zephyr One was still easily twice the size of a Globemaster as the black plated aircraft’s four VTOL engines rotated into a hovering position above the Potomac River. Opening a channel to the three-tiered building, the pilot entered the authorization code as the acknowledgment chimed signaling the communication line was activated.

“Zephyr One, state your purpose.”

“Patient transfer for the Raft, we’re carrying Prisoner 1-1-4-0-3-1-9-6-5 on board.” The pilot answered as he steadied the aircraft.

“I’ve got the clearance right here, opening the hangar now. Escorts will meet you once docked.”

Lowering the craft into the Triskelion, the landing gear extended as the jet landed with a loud creak and the expelled hissing of the hydraulics. Outside the craft, a group of six S.H.I.E.L.D. agents stood with weapons ready as Zephyr One lowered the landing ramp. In the doorway, a large man stood flanked by a pair of agents, his hands in cuffs chained to his waist. He slowly walked forward, his legs limited by the restraints around his ankles as the agent to his right urged him to move faster.

“Move Creel!” The agent stated as Carl ‘Crusher’ Creel slowly moved down the ramp, his injuries still healing as pain reverberated through his groin with each step. Falling into line as the awaiting agents took custody of him, Creel saw one agent look back at him, the blonde woman looking him up and down before she suddenly spoke.

“I was told Thor ripped your cock clean off.” She stated, her words accented with a crispness, unlike her colleagues.

Creel didn’t respond as he continued to walk, completely surrendered to his situation as he dreaded whatever hole S.H.I.E.L.D. was going to hide him away in.

“So when they strapped the new one on, did they make sure it worked?” The same agent asked her accent somehow taking away from the derogatory nature of the statements, “Can you even get it up?”

“Shut your whore mouth before I fuckin’ split you in half!” Creel suddenly roared as the agent spun around, kneeing him in the gut as Creel doubled over, winded as he held his arms to his stomach. Shoving a fist between his hands the agent whispered in Creel’s ears.

“You have friends in high places. Don't waste this.” She hissed, delivering an elbow to the back of Creel’s head as the metahuman dampening collar suddenly turned off. Feeling a rough piece of metal in his hands, Creel’s body was suddenly empowered as the metal coated his body and transformed his cells.

Snapping the cuffs off, Creel let out a reinvigorated yell as the mysterious agent suddenly fired her weapon, cutting down the nearby agents. Dropping the gun as she crossed her arms in satisfaction as she looked at the empty weapon.

“Modern weapons are so uncivilized, no thrill or challenge at all.” She said before pulling an aged revolver from her hip holster, spinning the chamber around before snapping the weapon together.

“Now then, go cause some havoc. My intel says that Thor’s around here so it must be your lucky day.” She added, motioning for Creel to leave as he cracked his knuckles.

“Payback is a bitch.”
° ° ° °

An explosion suddenly rocked the Triskelion distracting Thor from the axe in his hand, as he looked towards rafters watching dust fall as the building shook from the blow. Standing beside him, Agent Perry’s wrist lit up with a blinding flare of crimson as she raised a finger to her ear, her face remaining stoic as she reported in.

“This is SSA Perry, what the hell is going on up there?” Agent Perry she asked, her tone stern as Thor’s grip tightened around the hilt of Járnbjörn. He could tell from the sound of the explosion and the force of the aftershock that the hit had not come from outside the Triskelion, but rather from within. S.H.I.E.L.D. had been attacked by an invasive force.

“What do you mean my prisoner transfer has been compromised? Each agent was handpicked by me personally, there should have been no-” Perry snapped back at the voice on the other end of her earpiece.

“No, no I was not made aware that Agent O'Connor had put in for a transfer-” Perry retorted her face starting to show signs of frustration and impatience. "Look, I am with Thor right now, he can help." She stated turning to the man beside her.

“At 0900 hours this morning, a patient transfer was scheduled for Prisoner 1-1-4-0-3-1-9-6-5. You might be more familiar with this man by his given name, however, Carl Creel." Perry stated as she relayed the information to Thor.

"Creel was to be transferred to the Raft today for incarceration. He, however, has managed to break loose and our forces have been unable to detain him as of yet. Upper brass is wondering if you could lend a hand.”

Giving the axe a nostaligc swing, Thor ignored the eerie sensation that was running through his hand. Sharp pin like pains rapidly bit at his skin leaving his hand almost numb as the sensation crawled over his wrist and up his armor. As he cracked his neck, Thor's armor extended along his arms, coating them in an interlocking silver mail as his crimson cape flowed from his collar, falling behind his back. Outside the Triskelion, the sky turned dark as clouds moved to blot out the morning sun. The rumble of thunder echoed across the Potomac as Thor addressed Perry with his response.

“Point me in the direction of whomever’s ass I have to kick.”
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