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Hidden 5 yrs ago Post by Blue Demon
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Blue Demon

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Planet: Who cares?
Location: A Dive Bar

Deathcry eyed the Thanagarian in the bar wearily. The Shi'ar had had some contact with the species as they were the biggest supplier of Nth metal, something her people used often. But that didn't mean they liked each other. The Thanagarians viewed themselves as the superior species. While much like the Shi'ar in nature and temperament they were not superior. Just because they had wings, a very sore spot for most Shi'ar for their wings had nearly been bred out of them, that did not make them better. The Shi'ar were more advanced technologically and they did not fear for their continued survival due to genetic sterilization.

The Thanagarian shifted at the bar, his wings fluttered once then laid still. Deathcry resisted the impulse to sneer. Instead she took another long drag of her drink. She had no idea what it was. Nor did she care what it was. She only cared that it was strongly alcoholic and tasted like shit.

An alien stopped at her table, their slitted eyes travelled the length of her body. Deathcry casually shifted until her sharp long blade was visible. The reptilian decided it would be best to move on. Deathcry resumed her casual watch of the Thanagarian. He was so cock sure, relaxed and carefree. And it was pissing her off. The feathers on her arms stirred as her agitation slowly was getting the better of her.

As if sensing her hate Deathcry held for the alien he turned and meet her stare. He frowned as she took another mouthful of the terrible liquor. Then he shifted, an unconscious mockery of her earlier movement, until his mace was showing. Deathcry placed down her glass and smiled widely. She leaned back in the chair and casually raised an eyebrow.

The Thanagarian's face became a storm cloud and he stood. He wasn't a small thing. All muscle and bravado. He easily outclassed Deathcry in the former. But she had been training to be a commando since she could walk. Size meant nothing to her. With a fast twist of her arm her glass shoot off the table and into his face. It shattered upon impact, drenching him in the remnants of the awful concoction. The sight of it brought laughter to Deathcry's lips.

"That's a good look on you," Deathcry crowed. "You should wear it more often."

With an enraged battle cry the Thanagarian unslung his mace and charged across the remaining space between them. The pounding, thrumming music sung in Deathcry's viens. With a cry of victory she hooked a leg around the chair next to her and with a strong flex of her thigh sent it flying to the Thanagar's path. Despite the crowd he snapped snapped his wings open. With a powerful beat of his wings he lifted up into the air and over the offending chair. Deathcry barely had anytime to roll off her chair and out of the way of his swinging mace.

"Best you can do?" Deathcry taunted as she rolled under the table and sprang to her feet on the other side. One of her wicked long blades was in her left hand.

"Shi'ar bitch." The Thanagarian snarled. He lifted his mace threateningly as he hovered feet above her. "What good are you without wings?"

Deathcry rolled her shoulders as rage threatened to consume her. Thanagarian always resorted to porting their wings over Shi'ar. Instead of lashing out she reached over to the table next to her and plucked one of the drinks off the table. She took a deep swig and forced herself not to get as the taste hit her younger. It was even worse then the swill she had been drinking earlier. The lack of the desired response shoved the larger male alien even further into a rage.

As she cocked her arm back to toss this drink in his face he dove forward with a bellow. She dropped the drink to the floor and raised her blade. The mace and blade collided with a terrible cry of metal. There was a heartbeat when the two held in place. Locked together. Brawny against brawny. Hate against hate. Rage against rage. Then Deathcry's blade slowly, slowly bent. She barely launched herself to the side as her blade gave way. He blade was trash. She had pried it from some dead alien's hand. It was no match for Shi'ar work.

The Thanagarian, overbalanced, tumbled through the air as there was no opposing force against him. Deathcry dropped the mangled remnant of her blade and leap upon the winged alien's back. With a triumphant cry she wrapped an arm around his throat and squeezed. She was vaguely aware of other cries and voices. But nothing mattered but the Thanagarian under her struggling to detach her.
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Hidden 5 yrs ago 5 yrs ago Post by stark
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stark snarky genius

Member Seen 2 yrs ago

Location: Stark Tower, midtown Manhattan
Date: July 6th, 3:37am

"The perimeter of your Malibu property is now secure again, Sir. If I might make a suggestion, this might be an excellent time to install the new tempered glass that your company recently put into place here in Stark Tower."

"Yes, good call, JARVIS. Get on the phone with DeFranco from 'product development' and make the arrangements. I'm going to send Pepper down later today to oversee the fitting."

How? HOW had his second home been broken into? Who had the balls to try and do such a thing knowing that the security would have been absolutely top-notch? Hell, he probably had better security than even the White House had. No, he was sure he did because he had designed the system himself. Whoever it was had tried to hack the alarm and failed, JARVIS then alerting Tony (woken up from a sound sleep), as well as the authorities, seconds after the attempt was made to bypass the system. Honestly, he was surprised the culprit hadn't aborted the attempt right there. Instead, whoever it was had resorted to shooting out the glass in the front windows to make their entrance.

Not terribly original. Minus points for lack of creativity, definitely.

Still, brute force (inelegant as it was) had ultimately worked, despite the glass being reinforced. The intruder managed to get down to his main garage/workshop before the secondary alert system kicked in and incapacitated him -- the audio debilitator was a real bitch and the person would have one hell of a headache for a few days.

Served them right.

From what Tony could see from the camera system, the intruder had been attempting to get into his workspace computer. More specifically, his private server. They could have gone after his expensive art collection, his many classic and very valuable cars, or even just the massive TV in his living room. No, they had bypassed all that usual stuff and gone for something only valuable to certain people... Information.

And made a damn mess in the process. Glass was everywhere.

"Have 'Dummy' start sweeping up the debris in the workshop. Might as well do something useful, since he's clearly not built for thwarting espionage."

"Of course, Sir."

His phone vibrated a moment later, Pepper on the other end sounding as if she had also been pulled out of a dead sleep by all the ruckus.

"Hey," she said. "I assume you're already on top of the situation over in California?"

"Yeah," he said grumpily, pausing a moment before adding. "They went after the server, Pepper. My private server."

"I assume the person is currently incapacitated by the secondary system, then?"

"The police have already put the cuffs on, not that they need them -- the asshole won't even be able to move pinky for at least twenty minutes or so."

"Of course," she said, stifling a small yawn through the phone. "I didn't get a notification that an invalid login attempt had been made. Did the guy actually manage to get into the server?"

"No," Tony replied. "Looks like he had just clicked for a logon attempt when the secondary alarm went off."

"Broke the glass divider to get into the space?"


"Well, this guy obviously doesn't know what he's doing if he didn't manage to disable the alarm systems. A smart thief would have had the codes in advance to get into everything and not alert anyone of his presence."

"Oh, he's definitely regretting his lack of planning now," Tony quietly chuckled. "Though he did seem to know enough about the house to make his way down to my work area without much trouble."

"Maybe they pulled the blueprints from city records?"

"Probably," he replied. "Anyway, I want you to fly down later today and make sure cleanup goes smoothly. I'm going to have the glass replaced with the stuff we just put in here. Seems like the smart thing to do."

"I'll start packing," Pepper said slowly, still trying to process the whole situation in her half-asleep fog. "I guess I'll call you when I'm on the plane?"

"Perfect. If any press happens to shows up, just brush them off by saying everything is under control and nothing was taken. If they want an official quote, they're out of luck."

"Will do."

Hanging up the call, Tony laid back in his bed, wearily rubbing his eyes.

This was not good. Not good at all. Granted, the thief had been stopped before he obtained anything worth-while, but the question was really who was the person working for? A run-of-the-mill burglar didn't trade in data. But whoever was behind this had sent a veritable imbecile to do the job and clearly not a professional. Why waste the time and money? Was this backwards attempt supposed to be some kind of message? He figured that the idiot thief had made the attempt on his west coast home because Stark Tower was far too busy a place to slip in unnoticed -- without clearance the guy never would have even made it past the lobby, never mind up to his penthouse.

He hadn't even been to his Malibu property in at least six months. Maybe that known fact was the reason for the attempted breech?

"Sonofabitch," Tony muttered, his mind racing with the various possibilities. None of them seemed to make sense.

Whatever the reason for the events of the night were, he probably wouldn't know much more until Pepper went down and had a closer look at things. It didn't do any good to worry about things now.

TV. Flip on the TV and zone out. NEWS. Perfect.

4:00am. America This Morning on good ol' ABC. He rarely watched it, unless he was jetlagged from travel and unable to sleep. It did have that brunette anchor that he thought was attractive, though. Diane something. He'd never had the good fortune to run into her in person, but she was certainly a welcome sight in his bedroom, even if only on the TV at ungodly hours.

The two anchors on the screen chatted for a few minutes, exchanging pleasantries and other banter before shifting into the stories for the morning.

"More details regarding the incident in Metropolis were released by officials today," the pretty brunette segued, looking back into the camera. "Onlookers were stunned yesterday as giant mechanical attackers literally dropped into Centennial Square, without any warning. Luckily for the citizens of Metropolis, however, the hero that everyone is calling 'Superman' was there to intervene. Here's Kendis with the story. Kendis?"

Footage rolled of the hero swooping through the air and landing several blows on the mechanized giants. His strength was certainly impressive, even if his attire looked a bit amateurish.

"Nice cape, buddy," Tony mumbled to himself, smirking slightly. The red was a nice touch... A good, eye-catching color. He liked it, though he thought the cape was maybe a bit much design-wise. Did the guy think it just looked cool or did he need it to help him fly? Because otherwise it seemed like a liability to Tony -- one good yank and goodnight, Superman.

Though, from the beating the guy appeared to be withstanding on the news clip, it certainly looked like a single blow was not anywhere near enough to incapacitate the super being. Was he a mutant of some kind? He certainly didn't look like he had any rockets that helped him soar through the air or even any visible stabilizers. No tech of any kind it seemed. How did someone that muscular-looking even gain enough thrust to get airborne? The physics literally made no sense.

"... and reports that maybe Superman and the recently dubbed 'Wonder Woman' that has surfaced in California perhaps are somehow linked..."

Wonder Woman. There was another one who was an interesting news development as of late.

It seemed more and more of these super strong metahumans were popping up on the radar.

At least Wonder Woman was easy on the eyes.

It all did make Tony wonder, though, how many other places these sorts of incidents were likely to happen. Crazy metal monsters smashing things up, crashing airplanes caught at the last second... New York was usually a hub of activity -- was it only a matter of time before shit started hitting the fan here, too? And who else was silently preparing to surface in the event of such a happening? How many more 'heroes' were there laying in wait?

It was certainly a relevant question these days. Tony had his own reasons for wondering, of course, but he was sure he wasn't the only person laying awake and watching this broadcast to ask themselves the question.

Red... Hm.
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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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Castle Doom, Latveria

The chant continued as Victor von Doom stepped away from the balcony and into Lucia von Bardas’ presidential office. A satisfied smile adorned Victor’s boyish face. The crowd had been baying for Lucia’s blood when Doom had begun his address but he had impressed on them the need to rise above violence. She would stand trial for her crimes against Latveria – and if found guilty she would spend the rest of her life in prison. Doom was determined that his revolution would not go the way of Kahndaq.

Doom’s second-in-command General Karadick did not share his enthusiasm for turning the other cheek. The Romani man they called the “Green Bear” had been fighting von Bardas since before Victor had been born. On those rare occasions that Doom allowed intellectual pretension to distract him from the business of revolution, it fell to Karadick to refocus his mind.

Karadick more than any other in Doom’s inner circle held sway over the revolutionary’s opinion. And the Bear suspected that Latveria might live to regret granting von Bardas the luxury of a trial.

His spoke in snarl more than words. “Are you sure about this, Victor?”

Victor nodded.

“Latveria has seen more than its fair share of blood these past twenty years, General. Let its people witness mercy for a change. It will do them some good.”

“The Marquis escaped with around a thousand men,” The Green Bear asked pointedly. “Will we show him mercy, also?”

It was Clyde Wyndcam that had given Karadick the scars across his face. For two years Karadick had been Wyncham’s captive. In that time he had undergone all manner of torture and never once had he revealed the liberation movemenet’s secrets. His resolve was legendary – supplanted only by his desire to exact bloody revenge on the Marquis.

Before Doom had a chance to respond a soldier appeared with a message for them.

“The Americans are here, General.”

“Show them in,” Victor said with a smile.

The doors to the presidential office swung open and through them stepped Reed Richards, Sue and Johnny Storm, and … a golem of some kind. The floor shook beneath the golem’s footsteps and the green-clad soldiers eyed it suspiciously as the four approached Doom.

For Doom’s part there was no sign of hesitation. All the regality he had exuded atop the balcony melted away and he cantered over to Reed with a broad smile on his face. His arms wrapped around Reed’s shoulders and he patted him on the back with genuine warmth.

“It is good to see you again, Reed Richards.”

One of the golem's large orange fingers prodded Victor back from Reed. “Hey! Ease up there, Doom.”

A roomful of guns cocked all at once. Doom commanded the men to be at ease with a wave of his hand and glanced towards the orange creature stood before him. The voice was familiar to him. Deep, gravelly, with a thick New York accent that could only have belonged to one man. As hard as it was to believe it, Victor’s mind came to only one conclusion.

“Is that you, Ben?”

Grimm shrugged. “Yeah, well, I know I ain’t exactly much of a looker but it’s nothing you haven’t seen before so I’d appreciate it if you kept your grubby little mitts to yourself.”

“What happened to you?” Doom said, laying a sympathetic hand on Ben’s rocky chest. “I returned home before the launch with Franklin’s blessing. He assured me that there would be no complications but when I tried to contact him there was no response. I feared the worst.”

Johnny Storm’s bruised face soured. He had been trying to contain his anger, to hide his contempt for Doom, but he could contain it no more. His breathing hastened and his fists clenched. Heat began to emanate from his every pour and without warning Storm’s arm was engulfed in flames.

“Alright, I’ve had enough of this little song and dance. We want answers. What kind of sick charade is this? You were meant to send us back through time but this isn’t the past. Not any kind of past I recognise. So you’d better start talking or things are about to get real hot in here.”

Again Victor’s troops burst into action and this time he commanded them to stand down with but a look.

“My god,” Doom murmured as the light from Johnny’s flame reflected off his black eyes. “You are incredible.”

Sue Storm reached a comforting hand out towards her brother and calmed him with a single touch. “Johnny.”

Reed looked disapproving at Johnny and then let out a sigh.

“I didn’t but want to do this now but it appears I have no choice. We are not your Reed, Ben, Johnny and Sue. I mean, we are, but… Christ, where do I begin? The shuttle. The shuttle’s coating was not sufficient. We were bombarded by cosmic rays that changed us, made the four of us into what you see today, and once we made it back we set out to use our abilities to help people. We did that for... well, years, Victor, until something awful happened, until our world was attacked by a force so unstoppable that you helped us travel back in time to avert it.”

Ben cleared his throat and then offered his own, simpler explanation for their sudden appearance in Latveria. “What Stretch is trying to say here is that we’re from the future, dummy.”

There was no look of surprise from Doom. He merely lent against the gaudy desk that once belonged to Lucia von Bardas and considered the implications of Reed RIchards’ tale. He knew Richards to be a man of his word – indeed, he had considered him a close friend during college – so did not discount it as quickly as he might otherwise from someone else. No, Richards was telling the truth, he decided. And in this case the truth was more dangerous than a lie.

“You shouldn’t be here.”

Doom ran a hand through his thick beard.

“If what you’re saying is true then your presence here, every word you speak, changes the natural order of things. Every tiny change you make in the present – your past – risks making your future worse.”

Ben shook his head gravely. “It don’t get much worse than things were when we left, Vic.”

Before Reed had a chance to expand on the comment, a soldier came marching through the doors of von Bardas’ office. In his hand was a communication device that looked as if it had been pieced together from old car parts.

“Forgive my interruption, General, but there’s an urgent call for you. President Kelly’s attache wants to pass on his congratulations.”

One of Sue’s eyebrows cocked. “President Kelly,” she whispered under her breath. She couldn’t help but feel that something wasn’t right.

“Kelly can wait,” Doom said by way of dismissal. “There are more important matters at hand.”

Sue stepped forward and gave voice to her reservations.

“Victor, at the risk of sounding even more deranged than we must already sound, what is today’s date?”

“4th July 2018.”

Reed shook his head. “That can’t be right.”

“You may have beaten me to the Kirby Award, Richards, but I assure you that I am still capable of telling the date correctly,” Victor laughed.

Ben Grimm’s jaw dropped as the significance of the date settled in his mind. It had been 4th July when they had fled from Darkseid. Doom’s machine was meant to send them back in time but here they were on the date they had left in a world that bore no resemblance to their own.

“If we’re not in the past, then where the hell are we?!”
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Hidden 5 yrs ago 5 yrs ago Post by Bounce
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In the greater cosmos, the people are protected by two sides in the interstellar justice system; the Lanterns who investigate crimes and the local authorities who prosecute the offenders. The call came in at nine seventeen, Oa Standard Time. Hikers in a park had uncovered a body on a planet inside Sector 2814. That makes it my problem. My name is Kai-ro. I carry a ring.
"MARY JANE'S LAST DANCE" || PART IV || POST THEME (@Lord Wraith remix)

The heat greeted Kai-ro the second that he'd stepped out of the Sentinel, already feeling himself beginning to sweat as his body reacted to being far and away from the regulated environment of the space patrol cruiser. Raising his right hand, a green energy field enveloped the small boy's form.

He took flight. It was still raining ash, black tendrils continuing to rise from smoldering bits of wrecked buildings around where firefighters and engineers continued to labor at extinguishing the fire and repairing services to the surrounding parts that were still habitable.

Following the coordinates that had been provided him, the Tibetan youth landed in a wooded area on the far side of the planet from the city where the freighter had gone down. The park area was decently marked, with trails splitting off in three directions. The area wasn't too well kept, but there wasn't a lot of overgrowth either. Looking around, the boy could see a handful of hikers. And it was afternoon on a Wednesday. Safe to assume this was a fairly well trafficked area. A rather public place for a random body to simply appear.

Their Jane Doe was lying under a white tarp, buried in a shallow grave at the foot of a slight, rolling hill that was blanketed in leaves. Unusually heavy rainfall for this area had washed out the top soil and exposed the remains. A family of campers had literally stumbled across the corpse playing frisbee. They'd called the local cops, who'd called the Green Lanterns when their field analysis revealed the body wasn't native to this planet.

Jane Doe had definitely seen better days. Heat, parasites, predation, and a number of other factors contributing to a rather harshly decomposed body. The visual alone was disquieting. The smell was outright horrific. Even with the ring reinforcing the training that he had received, Kai-ro had to pause in order to process and center his thoughts several times as he examined the area around the body.

Waves of green light bathed over the corpse. A three-dimensional graphic projected as the boy used the ring to conduct a cursory analysis of the body.

The knife blade had broken off between the third and fourth rib took the mystery out of murder. She'd been stabbed. Five, maybe seven times, judging by nicks in the bone.

Excavating the body carefully, the boy worked methodically. There was evidence of clothing that had been produced using a synthetic polymer, the recycling technology producing a stable - if temporary - fiber that hadn't held up well so that there were only tatters of disintegrating fabric to try and guess at what Jane Doe had been wearing.

The ring of silicone around her wrist was a different story.

A wristband for entrance into a club.

The green constructs evaporated as the emerald light seemed to retract back into the ring on the child's hand. Crouching down, the boy carefully brushed a bit of soil away from where the faint outline of a logo was still distinguishable on the silicone band.

"Why is it every time a Lantern needs something from me, it involves something a year dead and decaying?"

Hildabrant von Buron was, among many other things, an autopsy technician and a qualified coroner. She was also something of a legend in the medical community. During the Bolovaxian crisis, the fiery red head had been an enlisted medic who had been among the first responders to the Bolovax Vik massacre. Images of her running the battlefield and dragging injured back with her had made her something of a poster girl of the war and earned her the name 'Hot Ice Hilda,' a moniker that had stuck with her through the decades even though few living today knew of the iconic image of a red headed medic sprinting under fire with a Bolovaxian twice her size over her shoulders.

Today, Hilda's red hair had hints of steel gray at the temples.

"Because the guy that was shot on the street this morning bores you," Ch'p answered flatly, giving a faint nod to another body that lay under a white sheet on the morgue rack behind the woman.

Hilda merely scoffed in reply, the woman working meticulously over the decomposed remains of Jane Doe. "This was a farm girl," the coroner noted aloud.

Jane Doe was a Graxian. Or, part Graxian anyway. It made Graxos V the next logical step in the investigation, though Kai-ro noted the description of Jane Doe's probable origin. They could isolate their inquiry to the rural areas of Graxos.

"Ah," Hilda murmured, pausing to look at a reading on the board before she raised her head up. "From what's left, I'd estimate cause of death to be internal hemorrhaging, from multiple stab wounds to the chest and neck."

"How long has she been dead?"

"Ballpark estimate? Thirteen months," Hilda replied, picking up a datapad and making a few annotations. When she'd finished, the woman held the electronic clipboard out for Kai-ro to take. "Seventeeth rotation of the solar equinox is going on the certificate. Give or take a day... two days in either direction."

Nodding, the boy took the medical examiners report. "Anything on the weapon?" the H'lven asked, landing on top of Kai-ro's shoulder.

"Surprisingly, yes," Hilda answered, turning behind her to pick up the tray containing the sliver of metal.

"I've had to remove these from bodies before. It's an Graxian shiv," the red headed medic reported, setting the tray aside and then reaching over to call up a display of a knife on the monitor at her work station. Gesturing to the image, the woman added, "People use them for hunting and fishing. They're relatively cheap and made for mass production, so the blade isn't of the best quality. Tends to break off when it strikes bone. Makes for a nasty fishing accident."

"That sounds like a dead end," Kai-ro noted aloud. He didn't need to calculate the probability of trying to track the purchase of such a common place weapon, though the overlay supplied by the ring was already doing that calculation for him.

The answer was, the changes were very, very low.

"What about the clothing?" Ch'p asked, ignoring Kai-ro as the H'lven read the coroner's report from over the boy's shoulder.

"That was very badly decomposed, but I was able to recover a couple of fiber strands," Hilda noted. "The fiber is composed of a synthetic polymer of unstable atoms," the woman noted, highlighting a molecular structure on a monitor overhead. "I've never seen a matrix like it."

Kai-ro looked up, and was surprised to recognize the image on the screen. "We have," the boy remarked, exchanging a look with Ch'p.
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Hidden 5 yrs ago 5 yrs ago Post by HenryJonesJr
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July 4

"Spider-Woman. Now, let me say that again, true believers. Spider-WOMAN," the voice of J Jonah Jameson blares through the internal comm system of my suit. One of the best thing Pete has given me is the comm system, which also allows me to wirelessly connect my phone. Swinging around the city is much better to the sound of the Ramones rather than the traffic below. Or as today, the grunts and growls of a possibly-intoxicated, middle-aged man. I'm still not exactly sure why I'm listening to Jameson, but I do have to admit he's fascinating. I can see how he managed to build a following of nutter butters. "Not only do we have some freaky government experiment running around our city, but its also a social justice, radical feminist warrior! Now you know I don't have to tell you, INFO BUGLE, listeners what this means. These liberal warriors want to change everything about your life. And now they'll send their freaky women to make sure that happens! Jackbooted monster women to make sure you comply!"

That scenario plays out in my head. Me and Wonder Woman showing up at some sweaty neckbeard's mom's house, kick down the door, and...what? Make him bow down to us? Do the dishes? What the hell is this guy even talking about?

I sigh and change over to music for the swing home. I dunno if it's because of the holiday or what, but criminals seem abnormally quiet for New York. In truth, it's been a quiet few nights of patrolling in general. A few stopped robberies and interrupted muggings is all I have to show for myself since the business with the truck. Not that I'm not happy I could help, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't hoping for more things like that.

As I fly over the city, my phone rings. I manage to answer it, and Peter's voice comes over the comms, "Hey! I know you're...out, but we're headed to Harry's soon to use the pool and watch the fireworks. You in?"

"Sounds like fun, Pete," I say as I flip a few times, just for the hell of it. "I should be back in Queens in a few. I'll head over when I get there."

The air hangs thick with humidity and heat, so the pool will be realizing. Plus, I've seen more of Harry's dad than Harry since school let out. MJ keeps saying he's been busy setting up college visits, but I kinda feel like there's some trouble in paradise on that front. I hope I'm wrong, but my gut rarely is, much to my friends' annoyance.

As I cross over the Queensborough Bridge, I notice something weird going on near the Ravenswood Power Plant across the way. A ship carrying containers is pulling up to the docks there, which any other day would be normal. But on July 4th? At nine o'clock at night? Yea, that's weird, to say the least. On the dock, vans wait for, what I assume, is a shipment. The question is, what could possibly be getting delivered at this point in time?

"Nothing good, I bet," I mumble to myself and divert my course towards the meeting. Queens Bridge Park has a few people milling about it, so I land in the wooded area the closest to the power station.

I land with a soft thud in the dried out grass, scaring two twenty-somethings making out, safely hidden by the foliage. My eyes go big and I stammer to try and apologize. The girl attempts to pull her shirt down over the polka dotted bra the guy was really struggling with. He gets up, obviously drunk and no where near coherent. My eyes roll and I fire a small amount of webbing over his mouth to shut him up, "Oh stop. Don't worry, it'll dissolve with enough water, which you very clearly need. And you...in public? Come on. He's not cute enough for that."

Moving on and through the trees of the park, I come up to the edge of the power plant, finding a high security fence surrounding it. Not a problem, as a simple jump takes me over to the other side. There, I find tall tanks that once held coal, now rusting since the plant changed over to natural gas. A catwalk runs from tank to tank, right over the place the cars are sitting. Slowly, I climb up the tanks and slink over the catwalk, perching myself above the vans.

Below, I see two men standing side-by-side as the boat pulls up to the dock. They could not be dressed and more different, even if they are both of bulky builds. One is dressed to the nines, in a blue and grey pinstripe suit. It's obnoxiously Yankee-like, coming from this long-suffering Mets fan. His black hair is slicked back over a weirdly-flat head. The dude looks like an anvil. The other man is in a green, striped t-shirt and jeans, his brown hair receding dangerously close to the back of his head. Behind them are the vans with their men, waiting at the ready for their merchandise.

"This stuff better be as good as Rose says," the man in green grumbles with a gruff, workman-like voice. "I don't like being exposed like this after the bank job the other night. Someone's gunnin' for us."

"Relax, Marko, would ya?" Pinstripes responds, sounding like someone doing a terrible impersonation of James Cagney. "Anyone gunnin' for the Maggia is gunnin' ta sleep with tha fishes. The Rose is tha best acquisition guy in tha business. We're gonna make a killing on this blow. Besides, Silvermane owns thaunion that works this place. We're safe as can be."

"Jesus did these guys major in 'Stereotypical Gangster' in college?"

The boat finally finishes pulling up to the dock, and as the gangplank rolls down, a man in a jet black suit strolls confidently down with it. He has a blood red pocket square, and a rose red mask covering his face, with sunglasses covering his eyes. At night. Sun glasses at night. I seriously cannot believe this. The three of them look like professional wrestlers. But like, not good ones. The ones that get thrown out of the Royal Rumble in a few seconds.

"Gentlemen, gentlemen," the masked man greets the others with a slight Cuban accent, "I am blessed to find you in good health! And I'm sure, in good fortunte. Well, if not before, you are now. This is the finest shipment I've ever brought to New York. All for the benefit of the Maggia."

"Cut the shit, Rose," the one called Marko barks at the smuggler. He turns to the men by the vans, "Load up!"

"Is that how you greet an old friend?" The Rose smiles, but with a hint of malice.

"Ignore 'em," Pinstripe waves his hand in Marko's direction. He picks up a briefcase and hands it to the drug runner, "Compliments of Silvermane."

Before he can take the case, however, my spider sense explodes with a warning. I spin around to try and locate the source of the danger. My eyes adjust from the bright lights to the darkened area away from the docks. Squinting in an attempt to see what the hell is going on, I fail to do so before the gunfire starts. Automatic, high powered rifles explode, ripping holes in the vans and downing half of the gangsters' men in the process. The Rose orders his men on the boat to retaliate, and they fire wildly into the dark. Above the river behind the gunfight, fireworks explode, bathing the bloodbath in red and blue hues.

"Dad was right," the realization comes to me. A gang war is here. Who knows why. Dad always says The Kingpin, whoever he is, keeps the families in line and keeps peace in New York. At least he did. Maybe there's a new player on the scene.

Well whoever they are, they outfitted their men with some fancy gear. They'll massacre the men on the dock if nothing's done. I didn't get into this to save gangsters, but I'll be damned if I let men get gunned down like dogs.

The song changes over on my headphones, and I swing down, marking five men, all dressed in black in a firing line moving forward at a steady place. I land between the two on my left. One is surprised, and turns, only to get a stiff punch in the face. When the other hears the commotion he turns his head, but not his body. I fire a webline to his gun and yank it from his hand, spinning him towards my rotating foot, clocking him across the jaw.

With the webline still attached to the rifle, I swing it above my head and bring it crashing down into the bridge of the nose of the third man, instantly dropping him. The fourth is the first to actually turn his weapon on me, but I clog it up with a well-aimed shot of web. The gun backfires strongly into his shoulder, and I hear it pop out of its socket and him scream in pain. I get low and make sure I stay positioned behind him as he drops to his knees, ensuring the fifth and final commando can't fire on me. When I make it to the injured man, I grab him and toss him into the final attacker, before securing both of them to the ground with webbing.

"Wha...what the shit just happened?" I hear Marko ask in amazement.

Suddenly, I appear above him, standing on one of the vans. Behind me, a fallen spotlight illuminates me in silhouette, and I say mischievously, "I happened."

"Cripes!" Pinstripe yells in panicked surprise, wildly pointing his handgun my way. "It's Spida-Woman!"

His hand is quickly stuck to the side of the van, and I flip over Marko, dragging two weblines over his arms and ore-or-less cocooning him to the side of the van. Behind me, the other van speeds off holding their surviving backup. Meanwhile, the Rose and his men have already got the boat moving away from the docks, and I can hear police sirens in the distance.

"I dunno who you think you are," Marko fumes, "but you just crossed the Maggia. You ain't gonna get away with that."

"Yea, well," I flick him on the forehead, "pretty sure I just saved your ass, buddy. Or should I have let the trained men with high power rifles go? Was that part of your plan? Enjoy the night in prison. It's the least you deserve for making me miss the fireworks. I love fireworks. And whoever your boss is, tell him Spider-Woman says these streets are no longer safe for the likes of you. Yea. That sounds vaguely threatening enough. Bye!"

I swing off as the squad cars scream into the parking lot of the power plant. I don't know if it was a great idea to threaten the mob, but hey, what else are superheroes supposed to do?
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Hidden 5 yrs ago 5 yrs ago Post by Mao Mao
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Mao Mao Sheriff of Pure Hearts (They/Them)

Member Seen 1 hr ago


"All I know is that to me
You look like you're having fun
Open up your lovin' arms
Watch out here I come"

"Groot?!" Rocket quietly questioned his friend's choice to eat some flowers. "What the fuck are you doing?"

"I am Groot!" Groot proclaimed.

"I don't care about that! Spit them out or you will have to explain why you ate the owner's golden flowers!"

"I am Groot." Groot then processed to swallow the flowers and smiled wickedly at his furry pal. Rocket signed in defeat as he pressed his claw on to his forehead. He didn't have the time to explain why eating plants in public isn't professional at all. Instead, he told Groot to leave and meet up with their new partners nearby. Looking at the ruined flower bed, Rocket dug into his pockets and pulled out some credits. He threw it in the flower bed in the hopes that the owner forgive his friend's appetite for flowers. Then he left the bar for good.

Outside the Flowers of Gold, Peter Quill and Kraglin walked towards the shuttle stand and waited for a shuttle to arrive. Just as the shuttle approached the stand, Groot and Rocket exited out of the bar in time. Quill, Kraglin, and Rocket hopped in the shuttle, but Groot had to crouch so he could fit inside. Kraglin entered the directions and payment info while Rocket made sure to close the shuttle door. After a moment of processing, the shuttle took off and headed for the shuttle rental place. Rocket breathed a sigh of relief that the Nova Corps didn't spot him at all. For now, he and Groot were safe.

Quill looked at Rocket and asked about the Nova Corps officers, "Why did you freak out about those Nova Corps officers? In trouble with the law?"

"Something like that." Rocket responded.

"I don't care about the Nova Corps. What about the intel you were going to say earlier?" Kraglin impatiently interrupted Rocket before he could finish. The raccoon rolled his eye and mumbled while he was looking in his pocket. Eventually, he found the small hologram projector and tossed it at Kraglin. Then he turned the device on, revealing a section of the massive forest surveyed for possible activities. There were several tents designed to bend with the environment; however, Zynsalak's men didn't do a good job of covering up their tracks. Thanks to Rocket, Quill and Kraglin now had the location of Zynsalak.

"Incredible... How much did it cost you to get it?"

"Well, about that..." Rocket said while his paw was rubbing his neck. "I stole it for the Nova Corps. Hey, it was highly likely that they knew something about Zynsalak and I took my chances."

"Oh..." It was the only thing Quill could say after learning that Rocket stole classified intel for the Nova Corps. He was taught right away to never steal directly for either the Nova Corps or the Lantern Corps. It was fine to steal within the Nova Corps territories if you can outrun them. However, directly stealing from them was risky and most of them worthless since you would of been caught in the matter of days because of the Lanterns. Their rings are capable of defeating entire groups of pirates in minutes. With the Lantern and Nova Corps working together, people who stole from them were fucked.

Once someone was caught, they were charged and found guilty of stealing government property. The punishment had them working in Nova Corps-sponsored asteroid mining facilities and living in their prisons for fifteen years. Twenty-five if the property belonged to the military. To make sure that the Ravagers never got in trouble with the corps, Yondu signed an agreement that made clear that he had to personally turn anyone of stealing for the Nova Corps. Other pirate groups weren't so lucky.

Rocket ensured Quill that no-one saw on that night. He dealt with the cameras and additional security before taking the device. Kraglin thanked Rocket for risking his freedom to secure Zynsalak's location and gave the device back to him. "Nah, it wasn't that difficult." Rocket caught the hologram projector and put it back in his pocket. The shuttle arrived at the rental place and lowered to the ground. The shuttle took off to it's next destination after everyone inside left. Then, the group of four entered the rental store and Kraglin went forth to rent out a shuttle that handle Groot.

Meanwhile, Quill decided to stay outside to distract himself with some music from his walkman. He felt uneasy with the fact that Rocket was unfazed about stealing for the Nova Corps. Hopefully, it doesn't come back to bite them in the ass while he and Kraglin are close to getting some answers. Quill kept on listening to music for a bit until all three of them came back with the shuttle for rent.
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Hidden 5 yrs ago Post by Byrd Man
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Byrd Man El Hombre Pájaro

Member Seen 9 hrs ago

L.A. River
2:24 AM

“We have our last item for sale.”

The masked woman pulled from her cloak a 1950’s era camera. She held the bulky device in her gloved hands, high enough for the gathered auction buyers to expect it. Everyone there, Constantine and Ray included, could feel the power of the thing. It was a black energy that spread through the air like the tendrils of a vine.

“Between 1957 and ‘58, Harvey Glatman lured would-be L.A. models to his apartment under the auspices of being a professional photographer. Once there, he would the pull a gun on the women, tie them down, rape them, and murder them. He used this camera to take photos of his victims in their last moments alive, horrible shots of young women begging for their lives. Glatman was arrested in the fall of ‘58, died in the gas chamber the next year, and his soul condemned to an eternity of torment. But this camera was left behind. It still carries the emotional weight and trauma of Glatman’s deeds. Bidding for this will open at major favors, gestures, and life altering choices.”

“I bid my left ring finger,” came a voice from the group.

“A night of uninhibited sexual pleasure,” a sultry voice said. A few eyes turned and saw a comely woman in a stained wedding dress making eyes at the crowd.

“A week of my best luck,” said another voice.

“My last good tooth.”

The masked woman nodded at the last bid. It wasn’t that someone’s last good tooth was of any value to her, but the sacrifice it represented was the currency. These people were willing to part with these irreplaceable things, things that created mental ties and psychic bonds when they were willingly given. That's what the masked woman hoarded more than anything.

“A year of suicidal depression,” said another voice.

All fell quiet at the last bid. Whatever the camera was worth, no one else was prepared to pay a cost equal to or greater than that. The masked woman pointed towards the woman who made the bid.

“Going once, going twice, three times… sold.”

With the camera cradled in one hand, she made hand signals with the other, a curling motion with her gloved fingers. The woman who had won the bid began to totter on her feet, her look of triumph gone, replaced by pain and sadness.

“Your purchase” the masked woman said, handing it off to the woman. “A year from today, your depression will lift.”

“Whatever,” she dully said as she shuffled off.

“That’s it for tonight,” the masked woman said. “Based on our lunar charts, we will see you next year at the auction. Rest assured, we will have an entire year’s worth of product for sale there. Until then.”

As the Good People began to filter away from the river, back towards the stairs where they had entered, John and Ray approached the masked woman.

“E,” said Ray.

“Long time no see,” said John.

“Maybe that was by design,” the woman said coolly. “With one of you becoming a sellout and the other… well… the less I say about you, Conjob, the better.”

She removed her mask, revealing a dazzling pair of blues eyes and matching hair. Epiphany, mistress of the arcane auctions and ex-girlfriend of John Constantine. If Ray was an encyclopedia of occult knowledge, then Epiphany was Wikipedia. Her information was more vast, ever-changing and adapting, and at times highly suspect.

“I need your help tracking down a mage,” said John. “A really bad guy, working for bad people.”

“We think he goes by the name Jimmy the Saint,” said Ray. “E., Conjob isn’t lying. This guy is killing the laity.”

“...Fuck,” Epiphany said with a sigh. “Okay. Let me finish up here and we can talk.”
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Hidden 5 yrs ago 5 yrs ago Post by Lord Wraith
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Lord Wraith Silly Forum Ghost

Member Seen 5 hrs ago

M A R V I L L E, O K L A H O M A:

M O N D A Y, J U L Y 2 N D, 2 0 1 8 - 0 9 : 0 2 a m | S H E R I F F ' S O F F I C E

The buzzer echoed in his ears as Carl 'Crusher' Creel was marched from his cell to the interrogation room where a man dressed head to toe in black waited for him. The deputy on his left was practically shaking as he guided Creel to the metal chair and connected his handcuffs to the heavy reinforced table in front of him. It was quite evident that the metahuman scared the living daylights out of the deputy but none the less, the members of Marville's Sheriff's Department carried out their duties diligently as they delivered Creel to his lawyer. As the door closed behind the deputies, Creel leaned forward, hissing at the man in black.

"Why don't my damn powers work in here?" He asked as the other man leaned back, seemingly bored before addressing the man across from him.

"My disappointment in your performance, can not be overstated. We had made a deal." The man in black mused as he rolled a coin between his fingers, leaning back in his chair before slinging his feet onto the table. "But you failed to deliver on your end, the mortal, Blake Donaldson, still lives and therefore once the sun had set, your powers faded away to nothing. For the briefest of moments, I let you taste true power, but you squandered it on a petty robbery."

"I had that bastard dead to rights until fuckin' Sparky showed up." Creel retorted, his face twisted into a snarl. "I need a second chance."

"And what if Thor gets in your way again?" The man asked, a smile growing across his face as he anticipated Creel's answer.

"Then he fuckin' dies too."

"Excellent," the man in black exclaimed with a clap as a scroll unfurled from his left hand and he plucked a quill from mid-air. "Then we have an accord."

Taking the quill, Creel made a face before plunging the tip into the back of his hand. Blood began to spill from the wound as he made quick work of dipping the quill into the warm liquid and signing him name on the bottom line of the scroll. Almost immediately, Creel began to feel a change as the reinforced steel of the table was duplicated by his cells. The man's pale skin quickly turned silver, the bleeding from his hand ceasing as it quickly healed while his strength swelled. With a quick tug of his wrists, Creel snapped the handcuffs that held him to the table as he stood.

The man in black had disappeared but Creel was free, and this time, Blake Donaldson would die.

M O N D A Y, J U L Y 2 N D, 2 0 1 8 - 0 9 : 2 5 a m | S H E R I F F ' S O F F I C E

Barbara paced back and forth in front of the Sheriff's office as her level of annoyance rose quickly with each and every step. Blake had promised he would come down to the office, he had promised he would talk to someone, more importantly, he had promised her he would talk to someone. Blake didn't break promises to her, he had never lied to her about anything in the nearly ten years that had been together.

But then, he had been acting erratically for the last two days, the Blake she knew would never have picked a fight with his father, especially on Sunday and in front of his mother. It was like he had been possessed by an entirely different person.

Pulling her cell phone out, Barbara dialed Blake's number, the tone ringing in her ear several times before the automated messaging service played out the same recorded message she had heard the last five times she tried calling him.

"Just me again, call me." Barbara snapped before hanging the phone up and roughly shoving it back into her pocket. Looking up, she noticed a pair of deputies excitedly chattering between themselves as they walked from their patrol car to the office. As they neared the door, one of them looked up, noticing Barbara before tapping the other on the shoulder as the pair came to a stop together.

"Deputy Norris," The first deputy asked as he approached her. "You were there on Saturday, with Thor and the Absorbing Man right?"

"Yeah, I was there," Barbara stated. "What did you want to know?"

"Well, what'd he look like?" The deputy asked. "Thor, that is, Creel's ugly mug is obviously locked up inside."

"I honestly didn't see much, I was on the ground for most of the altercation and when I wasn't I was looking for Blake. There's a couple of photos that captured the altercation, looks like he had glowing eyes, blue lightning bolts coming right out of them." She paused, searching her memory for anything else, with everything that had been going on with Blake, Barbara hadn't put much thought into the appearance of Marville's first real 'superhero'. "Outside of that, I just remember a red cape, like the Superman in Delaware and some kind of fancy armor."

"Do you think he's who he says he is?" The other deputy asked as Barbara just gave him a shrug.

"Thor, the God of Thunder?" She answered the question with a question. "Who knows, far as I'm concerned though, there's only one God, and he sure doesn't dress like that."

The familiar sounds of screaming and gunfire echoed through the office behind the trio as Barbara's hand flew to her hip as she turned around. The doors in front of her suddenly burst open as Sheriff Lamb's limp body soared through the air, hitting the paved ground with a sickening 'THUD' before rolling down the stairs. Drawing her weapon, Barbara motioned for one of the Deputies to flank her while the other tended to Lamb.

Not even five steps inside the door, Barbara came face to face with Creel, coated head to toe in a metallic skin once again. Taking a step back, Creel continued to advance, smiling at her as she began to open fire. Laughter echoed in the hallway as Barbara emptied her clip into Creel, the bullets doing nothing to slow, let alone harm the hulking man.

"Donaldson will come for you," Creel stated before suddenly advancing towards Barbara, swatting her empty weapon from her hand. A steel coated hand shot out, taking Barbara by the throat as it carried her across the hall into the brick wall. The sound of bone on brick echoed in the corridor as Barbara's skull cracked against the wall. Slipping into unconsciousness, Barbara was barely able to register being slung over Creel's shoulder as he confidently sauntered out of the Sheriff's Office.

M O N D A Y, J U L Y 2 N D, 2 0 1 8 - 0 9 : 2 8 a m | F I N C H ' S U S E D C A R S & T R U C K S

Justin Finch had not expected a sale on a Monday of all days of the week, less so when he saw the small Prius drive onto the lot. But yet, he could practically smell the green as the large man sat on the Honda Valkyrie, revving the large engine.

While it wasn't a Chariot-Class Fighter, Thor was impressed by the mortal engine that went into the motorcycle. Blake had never been a fame of this particular form of transportation, Thor's memory recalling that Blake had once referred to motorcyclists as 'donors'. But Blake's fears and skepticisms towards motorcycles came from his own mortality and that was not something Thor, or Blake for that matter, needed to worry about anymore.

Feeling the phone in his pocket vibrate yet again, Thor quickly silenced the device before turning back to the salesman.

"What did you want for it again?" Thor asked as the salesman looked at the Prius and back at the Valkyrie.

"I'll call it an even trade." He smiled at Blake as he extended a hand.

"Pleasure doing business with you!" Thor replied, accepting the hand as he climbed off the bike. Human negotiations were still baffling to him. No doubt this man would now want Thor to sign some sort of papers when they had sealed their deal with a handshake. He failed to see the point in signing papers when he had already given his bond but Blake's memories told him that the world simply did not work that way.

"Does the Prius need any work done at it?" Justin asked as he opened the door to the small office.

"Nay, it's in great condition," Thor replied honestly, indeed Blake while not much of car person had, in fact, kept his commuter in near pristine condition. Taking note of the single desk occupying the office, Thor addressed Justin. "Do you do all the work here yourself?"

"Oh no," Justin replied dismissively. "My brother used to run that side of the business before he moved to Gotham. He was always more of a gearhead than me." He added with a chuckle. "Now I just hire the odd mechanic."

Sliding in behind the desk, Justin quickly printed off a couple of forms, starring with a red pen beside where Blake needed to sign. Quickly signing the forms, Justin shook Blake's hand one last time as Thor took hold of the keys and left the dealership on his new motorcycle.

Cruising along, it didn't take long for Thor to find his way back to Marville as the bike thundered down the main stretch only for Thor to bring it to a screeching halt as he reached the aftermath of Creel's assault on the Sheriff's office.

"What happened here?" Thor roared as he climbed off the bike.

"Prisoner escape." The deputy answered before turning to see Blake standing behind him. "Oh! Dr. D, haven't you heard? Deputy Norris was taken by Cre-"

"WHERE?" The sky began to darken and thunder boomed over the horizon as Thor took a hold of the deputy by the collar of his shirt.

"No one knows, we have a BOLO out for Creel, but the squad car he stole was found abandoned a mile out of town."

"What direction?" Thor asked already turning towards the motorcycle.

"West." The deputy shouted over the roar of the bike's engine as Thor nodded, kicking the bike into gear, the back tire squealed on the pavement and launched in the direction Creel had gone. Creel's grudge was with Blake and Thor only knew of one thing West of Marville that would matter to Blake Donaldson.

The Donaldson Farm.
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Hidden 5 yrs ago Post by Retired
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Retired "Hayao Miyazaki"

Member Seen 2 days ago


12:47 p.m. PST | July 5th | Los Angeles, California

The reflection that greeted Daniel Cassidy was something new and entirely foreign to him. Gone was his lanky frame, replaced with the exceptionally tall, bulky figure. Its - his - pectorals stretched broadly across the chest. Impressive abdominal muscles seemed to ripple with every slight movement of this new body. Bringing his right arm up, Dan flexed and couldn't contain the awed expression as the biceps grew more prominent and he noted the bulging muscles must be the size of his real, human head.

His eyes flicked up to scan the features of his face. Blue skin and yellow, pupilless eyes. Thick, curved horns that grew from his forehead at a ninety-degree angle. He cautiously raised one hand and ran the palm across his smooth head, recoiling slightly as he felt the long, sharp claws that tipped his fingers scrape against his scalp.

"Wow," the teenager let out a wonderous sigh as he admired this new form. "Is this what you look like? Am... am I in your body now?"

There was a pause before a deep, almost growling voice resonated through young Cassidy's mind. "This body is similar to my own, though with noted differences. It is..." Another, longer pause followed as the voice attempted to find the proper words. "This form is more human than my own. A side effect, I imagine, of our merge."

The answering voice belonged to Astaroth, a literal demon from Hell, and a somewhat reluctant new resident of Daniel's body. Only little over twelve hours had passed since their accidental merging, though to the demon, caged and unable to exert any manner of control or independence, the passing time seemed to drag on for longer. Only yesterday had he been in another dimension fighting tooth and claw with fellow demons in an attempt to rebel against the ruling order of Hell - the Triumvirate - and prevent an invasion of this mortal realm. Now, despite all his might and power, he was trapped in the body of a frail, human boy. And one who did not seem to understand the importance of Astaroth's mission. Nor the dire consequences that would come from such ignorance.

"You must revert back to your own mortal form, Daniel Cassidy. You tempt fate and risk much by invoking my power."

Daniel froze mid-flex. "What do you mean? I'm not going to, like, get stuck like this, right?"

"I do not believe so, though it may well be possible." Astaroth could feel the surge of anxiety pulse through their shared form. "No, the risk is of a much more tangible danger. My kind radiates a certain energy, and the longer you maintain this transformation the more likely for the demonic aura to be noticed, and for those pursuing me to track it here. By doing so you risk not only your life and the lives of your family, but more importantly, you endanger the safety of the Trident."

Demons, Hell, the Trident, and his mission. These are all concepts Astaroth briefly explained to Daniel throughout the night. At the time, Dan had struggled to come to grips with his new reality, and through the confusion, fear, and doubt of his own sanity, not much of what he had been told stuck with him. What he could recall, though, was the mention of dark forces seeking Astaroth out.

"Right, okay." Daniel took a deep, calming breath. "Okay, I can do this."

The initial change from Daniel's meek form to that of this new, powerful body had not been a conscious, voluntary choice. He had been questioning Astaroth once the panic had settled and turned to wonder and excited curiosity, asking what this newly shared existence meant, what changes it brought, when suddenly his body had begun to warm up and a soft, dull, white glow emanated from him. It took only a brief second for the physical, mystical transformation to take place, but to the stunned young man, that second stretched into what felt like an eternity. It wasn't so much that he had felt the changes take hold, but he had unexpectedly become aware of this odd power surge through him. It had seemed to both numb and heighten his senses at the same time, and by the end, once the light had faded, Dan had found himself in the demonic-humanoid hybrid form he currently inhabited.

Now, he closed his eyes and focused again on that sensation, that odd blend of numb euphoria that had overtaken him before, and silently willed himself to revert back.

Please let this work, please let this work, please let this work...

Again, Daniel's awareness expanded suddenly as a wave of energy flowed through him. This time he could almost feel the source of the energy as it washed over him, but as he focused on it, trying to understand where it came from, it faded.

Opening his eyes, he was greeted with the all-too-familiar visage of himself. The dark mop of hair covering his brow, the small tufts of thick hair jutting from his chin, the undefined torso, and all-together average build. There was a brief moment upon catching a glimpse of his usual self in the mirror where Dan almost felt a twinge of disappointment; a slight longing for the feeling of power that coursed through him just a moment ago.

"Well, we know that works, I guess." Dan grabbed a clean shirt to pull over his naked chest and moved to sit down on his bed. "I have no idea where that leaves us, though. Any thoughts? Can we, I don't know, separate ourselves?" That last sentence felt bitter as it left his mouth, another twinge of longing.

"The Trident would be capable of such an act. I believe."

"You believe? You're the one who did this, shouldn't you know?"

"Normally, yes. However," the demon added, "this merge should not have occurred in the first place. I am still unsure as to how this is possible. From my understanding, the spell I invoked should not have been capable of fusing my essence with a living mortal. Nor should I be a prisoner lacking any semblance of control."

Daniel shuddered, allowing his mind to entertain the thought of what might have happened had it have been Astaroth, and not himself, who ended up as the dominant being in control. To be stuck in his own body, nothing but a disembodied voice in the void, helplessly watching from within as another entity, literally from Hell, puppeteered his body. The thought terrified him, but Dan took another deep, calming breath.

He had been lucky, in many other ways, as well. Despite being for all intents and purposes possessed by an actual demon, Daniel felt no fear of Astaroth. Whether due to the knowledge that the demon could not physically harm him or his family or because of naive stupidity, Dan had an innate sense of trust regarding Astaroth's words. He believed the Hell creature had no dark intentions.

Astaroth continued, "Regardless of the cause, I have accepted this outcome for now, as should you. There are far more pressing matters that must be dealt with. The Trident must be safeguarded beyond all else. Allowing Asmodel or his agents to retrieve it is to allow the subjugation and destruction of your world."

Daniel swallowed the mote of panic that threatened to rise up that last statement. His mind briefly formed the image of a post-apocalyptic world rot with fire and brimstone, waves of flying, grotesque creatures bearing down on the city and devouring humanity. It reminded him of one of his father's movies. He pushed the thought aside, however, and instead focused on something else Astaroth had said.

"You keep mentioning this Trident. Protect it, keep it away from other demons, it's powerful, and so on. But, where is it? Did you hide it before jumping into my body? Do we need to find it? What if they already have it?" Daniel unleashed a barrage of questions.

"It is here.

The teen swiveled his head, visually scanning the room for any sign of the weapon. "Uh, I think you're confused. I don't-"

The demon's voice cut through Daniel's mind, interrupting him. "Within. It is here, contained in your body, as I am. I can feel its power clearly."

Daniel furrowed his eyebrows and brought his hand to his chest. He didn't feel anything now, but he wondered if that was the sensation from earlier. "If it's... in me, how do I get it out? I'm not sure I like the idea of some ancient, powerful weapon from Hell being stored in me like I'm some kind of vault. I'm barely coping with the idea of you being in there."

There was no answer.

"Hello?" Daniel stood up and faced the mirror once more, raising an accusatory finger. "I know you can hear me. C'mon, tell me how to get it out."

"You cannot. It must remain within you." Astaroth spoke firmly this time. "So long as the Trident remains sealed within your being, it cannot be taken by outside forces."

Daniel took a moment to take this new information in. If the Trident is in him, and a whole horde of evil demons want it back... "Astaroth," he began, his voice faltering. "What's to stop them from taking it by force? Will they... can..." The teen wasn't sure he wanted the answer to this next question, but he needed to know the truth. "Can they kill me to get to it?"

For a long, dreadful moment, his question was met with a silence that hung tensely in the air. Then, an answer that shattered his calm demeanor and renewed all panic once more.

"Yes. Your death, Daniel Cassidy, will break the seal and allow for the end times to begin, dooming all of humanity."
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Hidden 5 yrs ago 5 yrs ago Post by Morden Man
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Morden Man

Member Seen 3 days ago

Castle Doom, Latveria

The wreckage of the Fantastic Four’s time craft smouldered at the centre of Castle Doom’s throne room. In front of it stood Reed Richards and Latveria’s self-appointed interim president Victor von Doom. For the past two days Reed had slaved over the craft in an attempt to figure out what anomaly had seen the four of them shunted across dimensions. To his credit Doom had spared no expense in attempting to aid Reed’s research.

Richards was no closer to working it out. Worse still he had begun to suspect that he was overstaying his welcome. Karadick and his men bristled with thinly-veiled disdain whenever they came into contact with them. It was clear they considered them an unnecessary distraction from the nation-building taking place.

Reed wasn’t sure that he disagreed with them.

Sue had seemed to settle in around the castle without incident – as one might expect of a woman capable of turning invisible at will – but Ben stood out for obvious reasons. They’d had to separate Johnny from one of Karadick’s men during dinner the night before. The swelling to his face had gone down some but it was clear there was still something not quite right about him.

It fell to Ben Grimm to broach the subject with him.

He found Johnny stood alone on the stairs overlooking the throne room. Doom and Reed were knelt in front of the time craft inspecting it for damage. Grimm’s heavy feet climbing announced his approach slightly earlier than he would have liked.

“You alright, Matchstick? You’ve seemed a little out of sorts these past couple of days,” Ben said as he placed a supportive hand on Johnny’s shoulder.

“I’m fine," Johnny said as he knocked Ben’s hand off with a shrug.

“Well, sure you as hell don’t sound fine,” Grimm said with a heavy sigh.

Johnny’s head dropped as he felt a sudden pang of guilt. He knew he was being unreasonable. It wasn’t Ben’s fault that every time he closed his eyes he saw his best friend being torn to pieces. Why had he survived when so many others had died? That question had gnawed been gnawing away at him with every waking moment.

Tears began to form in Storm’s eyes. “I can’t get Peter’s screams out of my head, Ben.”

He fought them at first. He willed the tears not to fall from his eyes with everything he had. It was the sympathy in Grimm’s eyes that broke him. Big droplets rolled down his bruised cheeks and splashed onto the stone floor beneath them.

Storm gritted his teeth and wiped the tears away with the back of his forearm.

“That son of a bitch Darkseid killed everyone we loved and we’re just sat around here like nothing’s happened. It’s not right. We need to get back there and make that bastard pay for what he did.”

“You think I don’t want a piece of Darkseid?” Ben growled. “I’d give my left arm for a shot at that grey-skinned punk. But Reed and Doom’s time doohickey is on the fritz and until they’ve figured out how to get us back to our own world there’s nothing you or I can do.”

Johnny nodded gently by way of acceptance and the two of them turned to face Reed and Doom again. Ben reached out and placed his arm around Johnny and this time Storm accepted it without complaint.

Storm gestured to the pair of geniuses at work. “If you ask me, Reed’s still getting a little too chummy with old Vic.”

“I don’t know, Johnny, this Doom doesn’t seem quite so Doom-ish,” Grimm murmured without conviction.

Everything they had seen of this world’s Doom was at odds with the Victor von Doom they had encountered. Ben had loathed him since the first time they had met in college so to see a Doom that was not conqueror but liberator, adored by his people for his common touch, was difficult to reconcile.

Luckily Johnny had no such difficulty making his mind up about their host.

“Once a Doom always a Doom,” he declared without an ounce of self-doubt.

Ben let out a little laugh at Johnny's stubbornness. “Heh, I can’t fault your logic there.”

Below them a soldier entered the hall and beckoned Doom away from the craft with news of an emissary from Wakanda. Victor made his apologies, which Reed accepted gracefully, and left the scientist to his work. He tinkered around for a few moments before the sound of footsteps behind him caught his attention.

Sue Storm smiled down at her kneeling fiance.

“You and our host seem to be getting on very well.”

Reed climbed to his feet and offered a shrug by way of defence. “Yes, well, it’s easy to forget because of all that came afterwards that Victor and I were friends of a kind once.”

A sceptical look crossed Sue’s face.

“Alright, friends might not be the right word but there was a … kinship there once upon a time,” Reed stammered as he tried to explain. “There aren’t many people on Earth that possess the kind of intellect that Victor and I po-”

With one threatening index finger Sue silenced him.

“Don't you dare finish that sentence, Reed Richards.”

She could see the gears turning in Reed’s head as he realised that he had again managed to have a ‘Reed moment’ – so called because of his unparalleled ability to put his foot in his mouth. Old people had senior moments, Reed had Reed moments. This was one of them. And luckily for him, Sue Storm was about the only woman alive who found them endearing.

Richards lifted his hands into the air and smiled apologetically at his fiance. “Seven PhDs and I’m still no closer to cracking social interaction.”

They shared a laugh and Sue placed a tender kiss on her finance’s cheek.

“It’s good to hear you laugh again,” Sue smiled. “Everything has been so dark since Darkseid arrived, I’d almost forgotten what laughter sounded like.”

Reed nodded in agreement.

“We’re going to find our way back, Sue. You have my word on that. We’re going to do whatever it takes to bring this nightmare to an end, no matter how long it takes.”

They held one another there in the throne room. For the first time in two days Reed’s mind was quiet. The unending matrix of algorithms and equations and possibilities that flew through them gave way and in their place settled a rare stillness. He thought only about Sue and their love.

On the staircase above them he spotted Ben and Johnny watching on. Reed offered them a curt nod and the pair nodded back. On this spot less three days ago, Sue had been all that stood between them and death at Superman’s hands. She had protected them when all else failed, as she always did.

It was why the doubt he sensed in her gaze cut him deeper than any knife ever could.
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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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Las Vegas

“How the fuck is he doing this?”

Mitchum wiped sweat from his forehead for what had to be the tenth time in the last five minutes. He was in the air conditioned observation room of the Bellagio Casino, but even still he was feeling the heat. He knew every bit of tape would be reviewed by his bosses all the way up to Mr. Wynn. He was surprised the old man wasn't here in his silk pajamas, hovering over his shoulder and scowling at the monitor.

The cameras were trained on the roulette table and the skinny, blonde man in the trench coat. He had a cigarette dangling from his mouth and a stack of chips in front of him. He’d been on the casino’s radar all night long. He started at the blackjack table, turning a five dollar chip into three grand in just a few hours. From there he went to the Three Card Poker tables and his three grand tripled. An hour at the craps table turned nine grand into twenty-five.

And now the son of a bitch was at the roulette table. Mitchum wiped another sheet of sweat from his face and pulled at the collar of his shirt. The Nevada Gaming Commission made it legal for the casinos to kick anyone out who they suspected of card counting. But card counters only worked for blackjack, and their constant review of the footage showed the man wasn’t cheating at the craps of poker tables. So what the fuck was he doing?


John Constantine smoked with a satisfied smirk as he sat at the roulette table. Celebration broke out all around him at the reveal he was a winner. He’d put every penny of his twenty-five thousand dollars on 21 Black. The white ball clattered and knocked about the spinning wheel until it found its home in the little black slot marked for the number 21.

“Eight hundred and seventy-five thousand dollars to the gentlemen,” the croupier said in a bored tone, the only person at the table not in the throes of celebration. Well, he and John were the only two not dancing for joy. Act like you've been here was John's motto.

“Put it all on 36 Red.”

Just like that, the cheering stopped. The crowd that had gathered to watch were looking on stunned, murmuring among themselves and asking each other what the payout would be.

“Thirty million, six hundred and twenty-five dollars,” John said over the din. "I've done the maths."

“Sir,” the croupier said. “That’s above the house limit. We cannot take a bet of that size.”

“Call your bosses,” said John. He made an effort to look up at the camera he knew would be watching him as he spoke. “Tell them this last bet is the end. If I lose it all, they get to drag me out and kick me bloody teeth in. I know they’ve been wanting to do it all night. I can feel the animosity through the bloody cameras.”

The croupier got the attention of the pit boss, who was already close by and watching. While they talked among themselves, one of John’s coterie leaned in beside him to talk. She was an older lady who reeked of drink and smokes and had the hollowed-out look of a long time gambler. Her and about a half dozen others had been at the first blackjack table that night, sensing his good luck and following him from table to table.

“How are you doing this, sweetie?”

“It’s luck,” said John. “All me life, I’ve had it. Not an all the time thing. It comes in waves. I’m like those ridiculous surfer blokes, riding the wave for as long as I can. I can feel it starting to crest. This last roulette spin is going to be the last of it, Donna.”

“It’s been a hell of a ride, sugar. Just hold on and ride it out.”

“Yeah,” John said with a grin. “What a fucking ride.”

“Sir,” the pit boss finally said. “I have… uhh, spoken to my bosses. And your terms are acceptable. One final bet on 36 Red.”

“Have at it, then.”

The pit boss nodded to the croupier, who began to spin the roulette wheel.

“All of it on 36 Red,” he said. “No more bets.”

He dropped the ball into the spinning wheel, every eye glued to that wheel and the tumbling ball. All of them except John, who stared up at the watching camera, a smile on his face.


Baldwin Hills
4:32 AM

“Finding the Saint isn’t going to be that easy,” said Epiphany.

She stood eating a burrito as she spoke. John and Rembrandt were sitting on the hood of Charlie’s police car while Ray leaned against it. They were just down the block from an all night food truck, a place Rembrandt knew was reliable for late night chow

“I bet it will be,” John said between bites of his own burrito. “You know how these things work out for me, E.”

“True, but this isn’t a con you’re running. This is a legit magical battle. Your synchronicity wave bullshit can only protect you so much.”

“We don’t need to fight him,” said Ray. “We need to outthink him.”

“The goal isn’t to kill him,” said Rembrandt. “It’s to arrest him.”

“How are you going to do that,” asked Epiphany. “You said so yourself nobody but those with the Sight can see the Saint on that video. You’d have to get the Good People involved, and we aren’t the litigious type.”

“I have a plan,” John said with a smirk. “A cunning plan that will negate my opponent’s brute magical strength. A plan that is well thought out and detailed, not one that I'm making up as I go along. So what do you know about him, E?”

“The rumor is he’s more than leech. He’s supposed to be mercenary mage.”

“Well, shit,” said Ray.

“The fuck does that mean?” Rembrandt asked.

“There’s a guild or whatever the fuck you call them out there that train mages in all the dark arts,” said John. “When they’ve learned it all, they let them loose and they travel the world, working for the highest bidder.”

“They’re expensive, too,” said Ray. “Supposedly only nation-states and massive corporations can afford them.’

“Henry Grigoryan, the guy the Saint is working for, certainly makes enough to afford his price,” said Rembrandt.

John slid off the car and stepped away from the group, tossing his burrito wrapper on the ground and lighting up a fresh cigarette. He could feel something coming, just off the horizon of his perception. Like when the air is humid and static-filled just before a massive thunderstorm. He’d felt this feeling many times in his life. Another wave was coming on and it would be here soon. He’d have to do what he always did: paddle out and hold on as tight as he could.

“Fuck it,” he said. “Let’s go kill a mercenary mage.”
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Hidden 5 yrs ago Post by Master Bruce
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Master Bruce Winged Freak

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Gotham City, Elliot Memorial Hospital
12:15 PM

"Is his condition stable enough to give witness testimony?"

The doctor gave Captain Gordon an odd look, the kind that stated exactly what had become the expected response concerning any known prominent member of the five families of Gotham: don't push things that aren't your concern, or you'll wind up six feet beneath the harbor. But Gordon had been adamant about being able to speak with Maroni ever since he had arrived with the police detail that was assigned to protect the wounded mobster. Captain Flass of Gotham Central may have been on Salvatore's personal payroll, and it wasn't exactly a closed secret, but Gordon was able to claim jurisdiction on this through one fortunate loophole: thanks to a victim of the previous night's assault who had been pressed into talking in exchange for lenience, this was no longer a simple shooting case. This was a Batman case, and the Major Crimes Unit of Precinct 27 were specifically assigned to any and all sightings of the vigilante until capture. Gordon narrowed his eyes and folded his arms as he awaited the doctor's response.

"I-I suppose, yes, the patient would be able to give you a statement once he's been transferred to a room following recovery. But I should warn you, the surgery to the ligament was extensive. It's likely that Mr. Maroni won't be able to walk without the aide of a cane for the rest of his life, so he may be a bit... distraught."

Gordon fought back a smirk, knowing it would seem unprofessional.

"Well, I'll try and be delicate. Wouldn't want him to file a complaint with the Commissioner, would we?", Gordon sarcastically replied, turning to one of his officers at the door. "Valley, you're on guard. Radio me the moment that he's available. I'm going for a smoke."

The officer nodded as Gordon headed for the elevator. By the time that he had reached the nurse's station, his phone began to vibrate, prompting him to produce it from out of his front pocket. There were a few messages that he'd missed - primarily from his daughter Barbara, who wanted him to go on a grocery run - but there was one message that primarily piqued his interest. Comissioner Loeb had personally texted him fifteen minutes prior, sending a forboding message...


"Oh, Christ."

The Captain clenched the phone in his hands, wishing he'd thought to take his smoke break even earlier - to have potentially missed this undoubtedly unfortunate encounter to come. There was no denying that Gillian Loeb was a man of considerable influence within Gotham, and if you got on his good side, you would be treated very well for the rest of your career. Gordon had unfortunately made the mistake of trying to be an honest, law-abiding cop ever since he'd joined the force. And in Gotham City, that wasn't the sort of mentality that earned you points with the Commissioner. You were expected to play ball, or you'd find yourself on the receiving end of a billy club until you did.

The only reason that Gordon had even been allowed to be promoted to Captain in the first place was because the press had gotten to him before Loeb could silence the troublesome Lieutenant for good, with reporters labelling him as a hero cop for personally capturing the infamous serial killer Joe Collins, 'The Burnside Butcher'. In truth, he'd happened upon Collins in the midst of a botched robbery, only managing to nab the collar through sheer luck - and at great expense, as it was during this incident that Gordon had tragically lost his wife in the ensuing shootout.

Jim's loss had garnered public sympathy, however, essentially making him untouchable - and it was to Loeb's absolute frustration, who'd put on the public face of entrusting Gordon with turning the most corrupt precinct in Gotham around under a deserving leadership. Loeb even commenced the promotion with a speech that decorated Jim as one of Gotham's top officers.

That entire story was false, of course, because what had actually happened felt more like a demotion - Jim had been made Captain of the only precinct in Gotham who wasn't on the take. Therefore, the one that was assigned the cases that went nowhere. The one that was horribly underfunded. The one that every cop that had been made scared for not accepting a bribe eventually wound up serving with, in mortal fear for their families lives. A professional dead end, so to speak, for a man that Loeb couldn't personally have removed.

As luck would have it, though, that was precisely why Gordon's unit had been assigned to The Batman. Whenever traumatized witnesses had first come forth describing a literal demon leaping out of the skies and beating the living hell out of would-be muggers and thieves six months prior, Flass passed the case onto Precinct 27 with a laugh, thinking it to be a wild goose chase to keep the meddling Gordon out of his hair for at least a couple of months. But the more that the so-called "Flying Mouse" had hit hard at the operations of the bigger gangs, and eventually the five families themselves, it became no secret that Flass had regretted giving the collar away. Batman was a threat to the entire operation that ensured Flass' livelihood, and Jim wasn't about to let that slip through his fingers. Not without a fight.

As the elevator doors opened, Gordon was greeted with a particularly flustered looking Commissioner Loeb. Practically shoving the Captain against the wall of the lobby, Loeb grit his teeth as he got directly into his subordinate's face.

"There you are, you interfering little shitstain..."

Gordon composed himself, but stared back, defiantly refusing to give into the Commissioner's abuse.

"Now just a minute, Gill. Before you even start with this, you and I both know that I have every right to be here. This is our case because you know exactly who attacked Maroni."

"I don't want to hear it, Gordon!", Loeb spit back, releasing the Captain from his grip. "I've been lenient with you on these... insubordination in the past, but you're stepping onto thin ice this time. And even your buddies at the Gotham Herald won't be able to save you if you keep this up. You know damn well that Maroni is off limits."

"And why is that, sir?", Jim asked, sneering. "Because he's a prominent citizen, or because he's a prominent contributor to your campaign for re-election?"

Loeb spun around, enraged, ready to strike the Captain for that comment. But Gordon was quick to acknowledge the oncoming doctors and nurses that were just returning from their lunch break, heading directly for the area and completely oblivious to Loeb's growing hostility. Knowing that he didn't want to cause a scene, he relented, lowering his tone of voice ever so slightly.

"I'm going to ignore that for the moment, because you've caught me in a generous mood. But my generosity only extends so far, Captain. You'd be wise to remember that in the future."

Gordon began to walk past him.

"Oh, I'm very aware. Now if we're done, I was just heading off prepare for writing up Maroni's statement. So if you don't mind..."

Immediately, Loeb grabbed him by the arm.

"I do, actually. You didn't let me finish. When I said I was in a generous mood, I meant to say that I came here with a more tangible purpose than reminding you of who's in charge.", Loeb began, his venomous tone slipping into a whisper. "Clearly, that damn vigilante is proving too much of a task for your department to handle. Everyone in this city knows it the second that he lights up one of those giant floodlights in the sky, telegraphing your department's failure. You've been chasing smoke and mirrors for six months, and you still have nothing to show for it. That's why I'm giving the case to someone more qualified, so that this department might stand a chance of cleaning up your mess."

Gordon ripped his arm away.

"Like hell you are. You'll need my department's cooperation if you want to strong-arm me away from this. Like it or not, we have the most extensive intel on The Batman in the entire city. Your boys wouldn't know where the hell to begin."

Loeb smiled.

"Oh, I didn't say your department was completely off the case. I'm not a complete fool, James. I know what a nightmare of legal tape that would be to try and navigate. But seeing as you are no longer fit to lead the investigation, the precinct is going to be following the lead of a new head investigator that will report directly to me. Someone who will have authority over each and every one of you, able to keep your precinct in line in a way that you can't."

Gordon's eyebrow raised.

"What in God's name are you talking about?"

"I believe, Captain, that your superior was referring to me..."

Turning around, Gordon was met with the outstretched hand of a stranger standing before him, dressed far from conspicuously. Jim's eyebrow raised high as he noticed the man's attire: dressed from head-to-toe in a slavishly pressed green three-piece suit, the individual looked directly into Gordon's eyes from behind a pair of tinted sunglasses, his face slightly obscured by the brimmed fedora that matched his suit. Gordon hesitantly shook the man's hand, causing the mysterious stranger to to smirk.

"Edward Nashton, sir."

"I am something of a specialist on these matters."

Gordon quizzically glanced back. "'These' matters?"

"Oh, yes. I deal with extreme personalities, you see. Serial murderers, compulsive opportunists, anarchists in the making. Even the occasional costumed lunatic, of which your 'Batman' is far from the first. They all fancy themselves to be human riddles, ready to be solved. And I assure you that I am more than up to the challenge."

Loeb slapped Gordon on the shoulder, grinning.

"You two will be seeing quite a bit of eachother, Gordon. Just remember that if he tells you to hop, you're to reply with 'how high'. Got me?"

The Captain narrowed his eyes as a clearly-pleased-with-himself Loeb headed down the hall, towards Maroni's intended room. Nashton watched Gordon's reaction carefully, as if he were scanning a book for information.

"I take it that you're no fan of Commissioner Loeb."

"You're a regular world's greatest detective.", Gordon replied. "And what division are you from, exactly?"

Nashton lowered his glasses, smugly staring back. There was something off about the look in the man's eyes. As if they were there, but there was nothing - no empathy, no disgust, no genuine feeling at all behind them.

"Let's just say that my direct superiors don't answer to any Mayor. They answer to the President. And that, I'm afraid, is all that I'm authorized to tell you at the moment."

Brandishing a walking cane, Nashton enthusiastically swung it upwards, so that it laid behind his neck.

"Really, Captain Gordon, you look as though you're suffering from stress. Allow me to alleviate some of that by sparing you of any negative predilections of my intentions, here. Despite Loeb's wishes, I am in Gotham to be your primary weapon in capturing The Batman, and nothing more. I was once a profiler for the Coast City Police Department, but I turned that trade into something more malleable with the agency I'm currently under. If you wanted to see a collection of my greatest hits, I have a file waiting for you back at the precinct that is a perennial mile long."

Before Gordon could reply, Nashton walked past him and began to stroll towards the elevator, indicating that he should follow.

"So for now, I'll let you catch me up to speed. And only take over when I see fit to do so."

The Captain stared as the bizarre man, who seemed to revel in talking a mile a minute, turned around in the open elevator and awaited him.

"To quote a classic, Captain... Shall we play a game?"

Gotham City, Financial District
1:45 PM

"Are you quite sure that you're up for this? I'm certain Mr. Dent would be more than happy to accomodate a rescheduling."

Alfred's worried tone aside, I have no reservations about meeting with Harvey for tonight's rally. Although I can't entirely say that I've fully bounced back from the disturbing imagery I was subjected to thanks to the lapsing of my own sense of reality, Bruce Wayne will nevertheless always have engagements that are more important than the whims of a brief psychological break. It's a lesson that I'm slowly learning the hard way, given it's not been easy to establish a more public version of myself that's willing to act in a manner befitting a man who could never do what I do at night, but the charade is starting to take effect. I just have to keep at it, and let everything else slip when in 'character'.

"No, Alfred. As much as I would love to miss a rally created with the express purpose of smearing my name in the public eye, we need this to happen. If I'm to be effective at what I do, The Batman has to be seen as an enemy of the law. And Harvey is my link into that world."

Alfred looks back at me through the rear-view mirror, questionably.

"Right. And the point of this elaborate game of self-ostracization is what, again?"

I look back at him, sternly.

"The police in Gotham aren't to be trusted. And that's because they're all complacent, waiting for men like Salvatore Maroni to wave a stack of money at them in order to let loose any moral obligation to protect the streets. If I turn Batman into public enemy number one, that enforces the idea that he's to be feared among the citizens. Which legitimizes the need for the police to fear him, aswell, if they're committed to playing the part of public servant."

With a scoff, Alfred makes his skepticism clear.

"An interesting theory, lad, but I've got a better one. If Bruce Wayne is seen tarnishing the Batman in public, it furthers the dividing line in suspicion. They won't think you'd actually be crazy enough to devote time and resources into running a smear campaign against yourself."

I look back out at the passing city.

"Well, it certainly doesn't hurt to cushion my alibi."

"And you're most certainly not crazy enough to actually think that this is going to do you anything but harm, either, one would hope. I was under the impression that the entire point of this crusade of your's was to appear as a symbol of hope for the city. Not a blight to be cursed at the very mention of."

"The public's never going to fully accept what I do, Alfred. And with good reason. I acknowledge the... extreme nature of what The Batman has to be.", I explain. "It's a dangerous thing to be putting myself against people like Falcone and Cobblepot, and the innocents that I'm trying to keep out of harm's way need to be separated from the very idea of supporting me even in a tangential way so that they're never put in the crosshairs for the sake of goading me. I'm not out to be anyone's hero. I'm just doing what needs to be done."

Though I can tell he wants to counter that, Alfred remains uncharacteristically silent. As he turns the corner leading onto the block to the District Attorney's office, where I'm meeting Harvey to discuss the plans for the Anti-Batman rally, my phone suddenly vibrates. I pull it out and answer, without checking who it is. Because I have a suspicion that I already know the answer.

"Bruce Wayne."

"Tell me you're not going to this ridiculous little show of Harvey's."

I sigh to myself, cursing the fact that I even picked up.

"Nice to hear from you aswell, Selina."

"Oh, please. Skip the foreplay. If you were interested, you'd be the one to call. Most sane men do, anyway."

I smirk.

"Wouldn't know anything about that. So what do you have against what Harvey's doing?"

"For one thing, it's a complete waste of taxpayer money. A stunt designed to invoke paranoia, and if Dent hasn't noticed, we're all teeming with that as is. Practically comes with the territory of living in this city."

"Well, first of all, it's not being funded by the taxpayers. I'm footing the bill on this."

"And you don't pay taxes? That isn't my point, Bruce.", Selina argues. "All of this false bravado is toxic for real issues that need to be tackled in Gotham. Engaging in a social event with the sole purpose of pointing out the obvious fact that some masked vigilante may not, infact, be the most stable individual in the world is far from where these idiots need to be lending their attention."

I nod as Alfred opens the door for me after parking, stepping out of the limousine myself. He's getting good at taking the cues for this whole 'Bruce Wayne's butler' act we've developed. I didn't even have to remind him, this time.

"I won't argue that there are more pressing concerns in the city than Batman, Selina, I just... think that he's a scary individual that needs to be dealt with. And a dangerous one, at that. Did you hear what he did to Salvatore Maroni?"

Her tone becomes more indignant.

"Like Sal has ever been a saint. I'm honestly more pissed at the Bat-creep for not shooting him in the head instead of making him a cripple."

I pause, looking at the phone.

"You don't mean that."

"And what if I do, Mr. Pacifist?", she asserts. "Look, I know that men like Maroni are generally part of the crowd you associate with these days - which, by the by, is not what I intended for you whenever I took your charity case of needing to mingle with Gotham's elite after you came waltzing back into town. But that doesn't change that whatever this 'Batman' is doing, he's doing it to the right people."

There's a bit of surprise in what I'm hearing, given that Selina is the daughter of the city's most notorious crimelord. But then again, she's never been exactly shy about how she feels about her father. Were it not for keeping up appearances and perhaps even some kind of blackmail that he has against her, I'm sure that she and Falcone would be estranged. I guess in some ways, she's playing as much of a part as I am.

"Whatever the case may be, he's as much of a criminal as any of them. And the police aren't really doing anything about it, from the looks of things, so maybe it's up to the people to take charge. Harvey's passionate about bringing him in before he inspires imitators, and I'm inclined to agree with him. We can't have a city that thrives on vigilantism ontop of crime."

"You say that like it wouldn't be more interesting...", Selina murmurs. "But fine. I'll concede that maybe, just maybe the costumed freak needs to go before he starts giving people ideas. I've already heard horror stories about the people that Carmine has seen Oswald Cobblepot entertaining, lately. It's practically a masquerade ball down at that cheaply decorated nightclub of his."

I raise my eyebrow.

Interesting. I didn't realize The Penguin was keeping colorful company.

"So you're saying you'll be there?"

"Jesus. You really can't do this without me, can you?", she replies, practically holding back laughter. "Fine. As usual, I'll come to your rescue and endow you with my sociable know-how. But you owe me. As much champagne as I can drink, on your tab, and I get to pick your suit for the Gotham Knight Gala. Deal?"

"I've seen your taste in fashion, and it's making me want to reconsider even going to that."

"Screw you, Wayne."

I smile as she hangs up.

Sometimes it's the little things.

"Good news, Alfred. Turns out The Batman has at least one supporter."
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Hidden 5 yrs ago 5 yrs ago Post by Sep
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Sep Migs Mayfield - Core

Member Seen 18 hrs ago



Barry leaned in closer to Iris. "You really aren't going to get rid of me, I'm going to stick with you through this Iris West. After all-" his smile turned to a cheeky grin. "-We're the Flash." She pulled her hand away from his and slapped him lightly on the cheek.

"Never say that again. That's just stupid." Part of her worried though, what if this wasn't her destiny?

"Well, either way. We're a team. That much hasn't changed, no matter who you face or what you do." Barry stood up and grabbed a glass of water. Iris sat up as she decided, she wasn't going to sit and sulk. If this Zoom was from the future, or had planned for someone else to be the Flash - even if it was Barry, Zoom wasn't the master of her destiny. She was, she was going to make the most of her powers and be the hero that central city needed her to be. She was after all, the Flash. She smiled, after all how could she not when she had someone like Barry by her side.

"First things first-" She stood up and pointed at her arm. "-I have to wait for that to heal. Secondly, I need to book an appointment with Harrison Wells." Barry tensed up at the mention of the noted scientist. There was something that Barry didn't like about him, though Iris wasn't entirely sure why. He had helped her father while she was in a coma, moved her to Star Labs and took care for her. When her powers first manifested, she confided in him and he helped her test the limits of her abilities.

“I don’t get why you don’t like him Barry, before I was struck by lightning you were all but obsessed with his works-” She pointed an accusatory finger right at his chest “-so much so you had him sign one of your books while I was still in hospital. Since then though, you haven’t trusted him at all. In fact you’re the one that insisted that I don’t consult him on matters regarding my speed. If you have a valid reason, I won’t. I need a reason though Barry, I need help to understand this. I’m a reporter, not a scientist I can’t do this on my own-” She held up a hand as he opened his mouth to speak “- I know I’m not fully alone, and that I have you. You can’t deny though, that having a fully equipped lab to run tests on me would be better than my apartment though. So if you don’t want me to see him, I need a really good reason. Here and now.”

Barry sighed before looking at her. “He’s obsessed, wanting to run all these tests. He just wants to use your powers to further his own scientific gain, he doesn’t care about you or what you’re doing. He just cares about your speed, you getting faster to him isn’t about you being able to help more people. It’s about him understanding your speed, and using it for whatever mad contraptions he comes up with.” Iris walked over to him and placed a hand on his chest.

“Barry, I appreciate your concern and if things were the way they were yesterday, then maybe I’d listen to what you have to say.” She pulled her hand back standing looking into those bright blue eyes. “Zoom has changed everything, I need to stop him Barry. Not just to save me, but for you. Henry is out of prison now, but I know you still want to find your mothers killer. It has to be Zoom, I know it and I’m going to stop him and bring him in.”

Barry looked down as his phone began to ring, he let out an audible groan as he checked it. “I’ll be back later, that’s a 911 from Signh. I’ve gotta go.” He half walked-half ran over to the door, opening it. He peeked his head back through the door before closing it. “I’ll be back in a Flash.” He ducked out of the way of the pillow aimed squarely at his head. Which harmlessly hit the door before falling down onto the floor.

Iris sat down on a chair, or rather collapsed onto it, sweat pouring off her head as she worked to regain her breath. “Very good Ms.West.” Harrison Wells walked over as he poured over a tablet in his hand, reading through the scores of data that he was presented with. “This data will keep me going for quite some time, it seems the energy source you tap into while you run is getting more in tune with your body as it attunes to your cells.”

“So what does this mean Doctor Wells?”

“It means that the more you use your powers, and even if you get the right training you will get faster. I imagine you could even master new abilities that now seem impossible.” She looked up at him, arching her eyebrows.

“What kind of abilities?”

He merely shrugged. “I couldn’t even hazard a guess, this is all new territory in terms of science. As time goes on I theorise that you will gain more acute control over your abilities What this will mean for you, I don’t know. I do however caution restraint, trying to grow too fast will likely end up in you getting hurt again.” He indicated at her arm as she bent it slightly, the bone had mostly healed over, however it was resistant to her and it still caused her some discomfort to move it around.

“Restraint isn’t going to help anyone, I have these abilities for a reason.”

He sighed. “We can use your abilities to better everyone. Imagine if we could tap into this energy source that you use to run, limitless clean energy. Imagine if we could inject people with it for a short period of time, we could heal them in hours rather than weeks. Combating disease and ending our reliance on fossil fuels isn’t helping people?” That stung, Iris’ head dropped. Was she being selfish by keeping these abilities for herself? Could they be used to help other people?

“I’ll think about it, it’s just too soon to say. There’s too much that we don’t know.” Her phone started to ring and she indicated to it, Harrison merely waved a hand in disregard as he turned around to pour over some form of data again. Hitting the accept button she raised her phone to her ear.

“What’s up Barry?”

She could hear sirens and shouting the second she picked up, and concern flushed through her. “Iris, get to city hall. Now.”
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Hidden 5 yrs ago Post by HenryJonesJr
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I slip home and change into my white and black striped swimsuit. I probably should have taken a shower, too. Swinging around in the summer heat doesn't do great things for the body odor, but the pool will hopefully clear that up. I throw some deodorant on, and put my long, straw-blond hair up in a bun. Looking into my light-blue eyes, I wince slightly at my appearance, "Well, that's about all you're gonna get tonight, everyone."

While I'm late, I luckily have possibly the best way to get to the party. Swinging in a swimsuit and flowing coverup is probably not the best idea, but neither is not showing up when I told my friends I'd be there.

When I touch down one block from Harry's house, I toss my webshooters into my bag and slip in towards the back yard. It's not just our core group of friends here, which makes it way easier to sneak in without being seen. I see Glory and Betty chatting with MJ, laughing about something or other. The two of them had always been closer to MJ than me. They're a bit vapid, if I'm being honest. Maybe they see the fashion-forward Mary Jane as more their speed, even if her party-girl image is more of a front than anything. Peter and Harry are messing around in the pool along with Peter's friend Ned. Ned's a good kid, even if he's possibly the most nerdy person I've ever met. Probably why we get along so well. Other kids from school are milling about, so I saunter up to the pool, thow my coverup and bag onto one of the chairs, and sit on the side, dipping my feet into the summer-warmed water.

The Osborn mansion is incredible, as one would expect. The house itself is something like ten thousand square feet with three bedrooms per person who lives there. The entrance is a huge marble room with stairs that look like they were taken out of the Titanic. Hell, they may have been. Norman's got all the money in the world. The backyard is like something you'd see in Versaille. Immaculate cardens wind around the most gorgeous pool you've ever seen, complete with a huge slide and a swim up bar. We can't use the bar of course...but someday that's gonna come in handy.

"Well, nice of you to finally show!" Harry sends a splash of water my way, drenching me instantly. I shoot him an angry look, and he retaliates by sticking his tongue out to me. Harry would be the prototypical rich kid if he wasn't normally so sweet. Carefree, slightly-oblivious, and over-confident, Harry just floats through life. His attitude has always caused issues with his father, who is the definition of all-business, all-the-time, but they still have a fairly decent relationship. Still, he's generous to the point of overdoing it sometimes, not realizing it can sometimes come off as braggadocios. He's tall and handsome, though is in the weird spot where he hasn't filled out yet. He looks more like a human beanstalk than anything. "What kept you? You missed the fireworks!"

My eyes dart back and forth as I realize I never really concocted a good aliby for showing up late.

"Uhhh, traffic," I finally manage to blurt out. "Dad and I were in Manhattan and got stuck coming back over the bridge. You would not believe how many people are out and about tonight. Managed to see the fireworks from the car though. Not the same, but still pretty good."

Pete looks at me through squinted eyes. I return a look that I hope conveys "I'll tell you later", but will probably just confuse him. Pete is good at a lot of things, but picking up social queues is not one of them.

"Well, I'm glad you made it here safe," Pete smiles knowingly. "I know what New York can be like when the tourists are in town."

"Peter," Ned looks at his friend like he has two heads, "we live in New York freaking City. The tourists are always around. It's like The Walking Dead, except the zombies are even more brainless."

"Give me your Applebees and your Hamilton tickets," Peter mimes being a zombie, with his head tilted to the side and arms raised riggidly. "I must feast on overpriced bagels from crappy tourist locations!"

Ned, in fake terror, flees from Pete, "Oh no! Someone feed this thing some Ray's Pizza so it can pretend to understand New York!"

"I'll go find some pictures of Times Square!" Harry yells, holding Pete back. "That always calms them down."

"Oh my god," I laugh as the scene plays out, "all of my best friends are way too nerdy. What have I done with my life."

Suddenly, the three boys turn to me, all pretending to be zombies.

"Join us, Gwen!" they say in unison as they pull me into the pool. I come back up for air, and splash the three of them, laughing as I do.

"Thanks guys," I narrow my eyes at them. "Next time remind me to shoot you in the head."

"That's cold," Pete mock pouts, before I dunk him and head for the side of the pool.

When I reach it, I notice Glory is about to rummage through my bag. For a moment, I think nothing of it. She normally mooches off my limp balm or steals a piece of gum when we're jamming. But then I remember my webshooters are just sitting in there, as if they're not the most obvious thing that says, "Hey, this girl is a superhero and you should tell literally everyone that fact!"

With speed that is probably a little too close to superhuman, if I'm being honest with myself, I get out of the pool and snatch the bag away from Glory with more force than is probably necessary as well.

"What the hell, Gwen?" she recoils and shoots me a look that means I will definitely regret this moment next time we set up a song list for a gig. "All I wanted was some lip balm!"

"Yea, well," an embarrassed stammer escapes, "j-just ask first. Okay? Just...just ask."

"Fine, whatever," Glory grumbles as she walks away.

Scanning the party, I find that everyone is staring at me like I just smacked her across the face. MJ's got a worried look, and Pete probably realizes exactly what I have in the bag. It's an odd feeling to have all eyes on me now. I've never been comfortable as the center of attention. It's one of the reasons the drums appealed to me. Being able to stay in the background while everyone else did their thing? Great.

Normally, not really a trait you'd consider for a superhero, but that's why I think the suit changes me. When it's on, I'm not Gwen Stacy, nerd and occasional musician.

I'm Spider-Woman.

"Sorry," I grimace to Harry. "Personal stuff. Ya know?"

He makes an icky face, "Ew. Gwen. Say no more. Gross. TMI."


Ditko Luxury Apartments
The Next Day

Black Tarantula sits on the grand balcony of the penthouse apartment of the building, stewing in the July heat. Last night's attack on the Maggia's supply shipment was supposed to be the Silk Cartel's coming out party in America. They had all but taken over South America, but that was not enough for the Tarantula. The world was spread out before the cartel, ripe for the taking. Last night was supposed to be the grand statement of intent. New York was the crown jewel in America, and the cartel would take it, one way or another.

But the Spider-Woman has other ideas, clearly. Stopping the hit last night seemed impossible. It was planned to perfection, as all of the Tarantula's plans were. The men even performed well. They couldn't have expected a superpowered fly in the ointment.

Now it is time to start planning on how to deal with said fly.

"What to do, what to do," the Tarantula muses, rolling an orange from hand to hand. "She is not a skilled or experienced in her line of work. She gets by on raw skill and on her powers. That should be easy enough to counter. Raw force would do it. But I would not mean to throw too many men at the endeavor."

The orange peel easy comes off, and Black Tarantula takes a bite of the succulent fruit, "Perhaps the Enforcers will be able to take care of this nuisance. They have never failed me before. If they do, more desperate measures will have to be taken. And taken they will be."


I come out of my room and find dad asleep at the kitchen table. In his hand sits a cold, stale, half-drank cup of coffee. A little bit of drool hangs on the stubble covering his chin, and his greying hair is mussed to no end. On the table in front of him sits his work computer, and what I assume is a case file for my escapades last night.

"Dad. Daddy," I shake him, and he stirs, surprised. "Calm down, Captain Stacy. It's just your daughter. You were so close to bed. Almost made it."

"Ugh," he rubs his temples before moving onto his eyes, wiping the sleep from his brain, "sorry sweetheart. Last night was not the most fun holiday I've ever had. Work was...interesting to say the least. How was your night?"

"Fine," I shrug. "Hung out at Harry's pool with everyone. Was pretty fun. What happened in the world of organized crime?"

He sighs and puts his face in his hands. Ever since the superheroes started popping up, dad has been...tired. I don't know if it's the worry about them coming here, or if he really does think they will make things worse, but he was never like this before, not even when mom was sick. Now that what he feared was actually happening, I'm legitimately worried about his blood pressure.

"Someone tried to kill two of the Maggia's top guys last night, along with one of their drug runners," his voice is muffled by his hands, before putting them down on the table. "Five guys. All with some serious fire power. South American, we think Argentinian. None of them speak English, and of course they're not talking to our translators. Spider-Woman showed up during it apparently. Only reason we caught them, so I guess she gets a point for that. Problem is she left us the two Maggia heavies. Flint Marko and a guy only known as Hammerhead. They're out on bail because of course we couldn't prove they were doing anything wrong. The dock's security cameras were conveniently turned off."

"So someone at the plant works for the Maggia?" I ask, hoping I sound only mildly interested. The more Dad thinks I'm only half interested in his work, the more likely he'll keep telling me details. He probably shouldn't be telling me this stuff in general, but to him I'm just his little girl. That thought sends a slight tremor of guilt through me, and I curse myself. Now not only am I lying to my dad, I'm using him for information too?

What kind of daughter am I?

"Probably," he shrugs. "Or they paid someone off. But we were closing in on the docks as one of their meeting places, and now Marko and Hammerhead get to walk because we haven't got anything solid to hold them on. Every time we catch a break, they slip through our fingers."

"Well at least you'll be able to find out who's trying to take on the Maggia, right?" I keep the conversation up. "The guys last night had high powered weapons. Maybe these are the same guys who have been killing other mobsters."

He considers it momentarily, "Could be, but forensics thinks that was one guy. Could be working for the same people. But if we have a Latin mob moving in on Maggia territory, I have to assume things are gonna get ugly, fast. Neither of them play around."

I slip into his arms and give him a big hug, "Whatever happens, be safe. Let Spider-Woman get shot at."

He chuckles and returns the hug, "Yea. Maybe we do need her around after all. But once this business is cleared up, I'm totally gonna arrest her."

I look up and laugh at his goofy smirk, "Yea, okay dad. Good luck trying to take down the lady who can stop a truck with her bare hands."

"Hey, I deal with you every day," he laughs. "That's pretty good practice."

Dad, you have no idea.


Silivio Manfredi stares a hole through Flint Marko and Hammerhead. The old man's body may be frail and failing him, but his mind is still as sharp as a dagger and cruel as the grave. He is not a man who enjoys being failed, and the two men in front of him had failed spectacularly. The deal with the Rose was going to supply them for the rest of the summer. Now he will have to get in contact with the smuggler again and find a new safe drop off point. Which would mean bribing more officials. Which would mean more money out of his pocket, not to mention his boss's.

The bigger problem, of course, is the fact that Spider-Woman is now on their tail. Manfredi hoped that they could stay out of her way until the police or some other costumed freak took care of her, but it is clear that's not going to happen,

"What are we gonna do?" Marko asks sheepishly. The man is not the brightest bulb in the chandelier, but he's tough as nails and good at covering his tracks. Manfredi had never seen anyone beat a man as well as Marko can. And he's like a loyal puppy, something you need from your muscle.

"You're gonna get me my fucking shipment," Silvio spat back, spittle flying from his ancient mouth. "I'm gonna find a way to take care of the spider bitch. As well as our new rivals. The Kingpin will want to be briefed."

"What about the other guy?" Hammerhead cracked his knuckles. He's more of the thinking man's muscle. No one knows where Hammerhead came from. He showed up on their doorstep one day with an encyclopedic knowledge of the criminal underworld, and has risen through the ranks with alarming speed. Some think Manfredi will hand over control of his family to the man when he dies, and Manfredi has considered doing just that. Hammerhead is a better option than any of his sniveling sons.

The "other guy" Manfredi's lieutenant mentioned is a ghost, so far. Shows up, kills men with extreme prejudice, and disappears.

"He'll be dealt with."
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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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Bel Air
6:40 AM

Jimmy the Saint could hear the thumps and screams even though he sat in a chair at the other end of the hall from his master’s bedroom. It was like this every night. Henry Grigoriyan would come home from the club his organization ran, beautiful women on both arms. He and the women would retire to the bedroom while Jimmy stood sentry. The moans started shortly after the door shut. The screams would follow. Then the cries for help.

Grigoriyan emerged from the bedroom, shirtless and wearing pajama bottoms. Scratches covered his chest and neck. He padded across the carpeted floors towards Jimmy.

“Make them forget,” he said as he passed by Jimmy. “I’m going to get some milk.”

“I’m not your fucking maid,” Jimmy said, standing up from the chair.

“I pay you do whatever I want,” said Grigoriyan. “And for what I pay, if I say go fuck yourself then you create a dildo out of thin air and shove it up your ass.”

The Armenian crime lord disappeared down the stairs. Jimmy sighed and walked into his master’s bedroom. The two women he’d seen earlier in the night were on the bed, naked and crying, their expensive makeup smeared. They were covered in bruises and cuts, one woman still wore the thick dog collar Grigoriyan had strapped to her neck.

“Obliviscatur,” Jimmy said in the ancient tongue of the magi, performing the requisite hand signals.

He felt the power leaving him and entering the women’s minds. He would wipe their memory of the last few hours and put them to sleep. When Grigoriyan’s other men showed up in the morning, they would take them home and the two women would only have the bruises and cuts that they wouldn’t be able to remember how they got. Jimmy had seen into the mind’s of the women Grigoriyan did this too. It was fortunate in a lot of ways that they would never remember what happened.

After they were both out, he headed out the bedroom and downstairs. He found his master, drinking milk straight from the plastic jug, liquid dripping from the corners of his mouth and on to the expensive marble floors.

“I guess you want me to clean that up to.”

“If I so wish,” said Grigoriyan. “Speaking of cleaning. What of this cop you said is dabbling into your world?”

“I spooked him off tonight,” said Jimmy. “I let him know that I can’t kill him per your orders. But there are a lot of things worse than death.”

“Indeed there are, squire.”

Both men turned in shock at the sound of a voice. Jimmy realized that there had been a cloaking spell in the area, the spell dropping away as he saw the man standing in Grigoriyan’s impressive kitchen. Jimmy could feel the man’s power. It was hidden and murky, but there was enough there to give him pause.

“I think the three of us could do with a bit of a chat.”
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Hidden 5 yrs ago Post by Simple Unicycle
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Simple Unicycle ?

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7:19 PM; July 4th, 2018
David Lieberman's House; New York City

Fireworks went off in the distance, and with each boom Frank was reminded of gunshots and the blood-soaked dance floor he had killed upon last night. The smart move would've been waiting for Rossi to leave the club, follow him home, then nab him. Frank was never into smart moves; he was a dumb move kind of guy. "Hey Frank, why don't you ambush the guy?" "No thanks, let me walk in through the front door and go in guns fucking blazing."

But there was no time to regret it. He'd have to keep on pushing through.

"Hey Frank, want a beer?" The vigilante was pulled out of his reflections by the voice of his friend, David Lieberman.

"Oh, sure Dave." The hacker tossed his friend a can of Budweiser, Frank cracking it open and taking a swig.

"So I was looking into that Royal Palace hotel, and apparently it's owned by one Silvio Manfredi. Pretty sure you might've heard of him."

Manfredi, huh? Frank always had a feeling deep down in his gut that Manfredi was involved in organized crime; turns out, he was correct. "Alright. So I'm gonna need to go in there, kick ass, and take names."

At this, Dave frowned. "Woah, Frank, chill out. You don't need to rush in there and throw your life away. You think Manfredi wouldn't have security guards all over that place?"

"Didn't stop me last night."

"Frank, seriously, you don't need to keep on going in and shooting the shit outta everybody. One of these days, your luck's gonna run out, and guess what? You'll wind up with a bullet in your skull."

"That a fact?"

"Bah, whatever."

There was silence for a few moments, the television playing a news report on some superhero or another saving the day again. Dave smirked slightly. "Y'know, you're kind of a superhero. I mean, an extremely violent superhero, but one nonetheless."

"Yeah, I'm just like Captain America, dressing up in tights, punching out the bad guys, saving damsels in distress..." Frank rolled his eyes.

"We should totally get you an outfit, and a name." Dave was struggling to hold back laughter.

"Oh?" Try as he might, Frank couldn't keep the smile off his face.

"We could make it a skin-tight bodysuit with like a giant skull on it and shit, just to show you're not to be fucked with. And we could make it black. Or, better yet..." Dave paused for comedic effect. "Purple."

The two men laughed at that.

"I probably should think of a name, though. Something to strike fear into them."

"Hm, good point. How about... I dunno, the Executioner?" At that, Frank shook his head. "Uh, Mr. Vengeance, Angry Guy, Shoot-Everything-In-Sight-Man, I don't fucking know dude."

"Well, I'm sure we'll think of something." With those words, Frank stood up from his seat on the couch, popping his neck. "Anyway, I'm gonna head home. I'll see about hitting the Royal Palace tomorrow."

"Sounds good, dude. Come by anytime."

Frank headed out to his car, climbing into the driver's seat and starting it up. He turned on the radio, and in doing so noticed the photo of his family on the dashboard. After a moment of staring at it, he said to himself, "... I think maybe I'll head there tonight, actually."

Without another word, Frank began to drive to the Royal Palace.

To Be Continued...
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Hidden 5 yrs ago Post by Enarr
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The Weapon X Facility
The Final Frontier: Canada

"Alright, my boy. I've got the Cobain doctrine right here, legally, in case you've forgotten, you are no longer a person, not that you have been for a long time from what I hear, but if there's anything you need to get off your chest, now is the time." Doctor Cornelius held his gaze for a long moment, even tilting his ear in his patient's direction and grinning with a heartfelt smile. "It's okay to be nervous, you know. It's not everyday that you cease to be." At that Cornelius also silently commented that It's not everyday you get to impress the world's most dangerous immortal paper shredder into your service.

Carol Hines, a soft-looking young lady, clenched Logan's forearm like a golden ticket, holding him intimately. Cornelius couldn't quite tell if she was attempting to soothe him or seduce him, not that anything she was doing would matter momentarily, anyhow. Almost addicted to the anticipation, he leapt up as though he'd heard a starter pistol, hopping away from his desk, two-way radio, notes and miscellaneous possessions before he put on his coat and gathered his bearings.

"Well then Mr. Logan, come right this way" Cornelius sang before waltzing over to a large metal door, which shimmered like seltzer despite certainly being as solid as the sun's core. He then swipes his key card and leads Carol and Logan into the innards of Weapon X. They were facing a long, long hallway with periodic incandescent bulbs being the only clear marker of distance. They piled into a vehicle, some small little thing reminiscent of a golf cart, and cruised down the blank corridor, their only company being each other and the gigantic bellowing silence.

"So Mr. Logan," Carol began, "what made you decide you didn't want to be a person anymore?"

Logan snorted, and with the ferocity of a screeching weasel he spat "Society makes me wanna puke" before waving his hand like a magician summoning a rose. Carol was intrigued while waiting for the prestige, but there were no flowers that slithered out from under the wild man's sleeves. Rather, it was a bouquet of blood splatter that sprung out of his thigh. "Listen kiddo, y'know how it feels when you're little sister kicks over your Lego © Death Star that you've spent weeks working to get just right? Only to have some young hotshot nobody blast it all to oblivion? My death star is gone. Family? Friends? Heroes? All dead. It's time I get on my way. But I figured, y'know, somebody's gonna use my body for some twisted plan. At least this way I get to know what it is."

Carol stares at him. Not like she's engrossed in his brilliance or anything, though. She stares at him the way that the foam at the bottom of an empty mug stares back up at the person who'd emptied it, like he'd just sucked every last drop of the stale atmosphere out of the entire compound.

It stayed quiet for a while too.

Time passed and so did about forty-five incandescent bulbs and about a dozen doors that looked like they should've been their stop. But finally, Cornelius brought their little hall buggy to a halt. "Alright, boys and girls, we've arrived." At that they stepped over to a man-sized door, where Cornelius swiped his card again and played his role of tour-guide who gave a fuck what this patient was about to go through.

"Mr. Logan, you've been swimming before, haven't you?" Cornelius asked, though the question didn't quite elicit the response that he'd been hoping for. Instead of forging a half-hearted "who hasn't?" or a "of course, I have, you dingus!" Logan just stopped--he entirely froze every muscle in his body like a wax figure before slowly melting back into motion. He timidly stepped forward, which made Carol shiver because she hadn't really taken Mr. Logan as the type to do anything timidly. She really thought him to be something of an animal.

"Alright, Mr. Logan. Right this way, if you'll just step into this little spot right here," he waved to a disc in the floor resembling a space-agey man-hole, decked out with a yellow neon ring, "we can begin the process."

Logan marched over, not with a sense of duty, but with defeat. He opened his mouth to speak before inhaling and pulling the reins of his vocal cords. He didn't want to say anything stupid. This was the end of his time as a person. In all his time on this earth, he'd killed a hell of a lot of people. All of the ones he remembered terminating had something profound to pass on before they--

kissed off into that grand old goodnight. Logan's claws popped in sync with his eyelids as he felt the ground give way beneath him, parting ways like Mike & Ike, compromising Logan's footing and giving him over to the cold embrace of the swampy fluid below. Logan screamed as he sank into the pool. It was like being drank by a barrel of Mountain Dew, if Mountain Dew smelled like gasoline.

"Goodbye Mr. Logan," Carol said, blowing him a kiss.

"Heavens," Cornelius scoffed, "What have you done with that boy?"

"That's none of your concern, Mr. Cornelius."

"Ah, you see, Ms. Hines, it is my concern because that vicious little bundle of psychotic laughter is not a person with rights, but a thing--a thing which The Weapon X Initiative of North America is heavily invested in. Not that I suspect you've tampered with anything, but if his performance is not up to par, I do suspect that you may be suspect for negligence, sabotage or just general stupidity,"

Carol raised a finger and widened her lips, before nixing both plans of communicating.

A team of surgeons march in, dutifully dressed in scrubs with those characteristic masks covering their lips, cheeks and chin. Several tables chocked full of golden surgical tools were wheeled in with them. Each operator looked at the others, their supplies, a print-out of their objectives & requirements before flashing grins that Cornelius was confident could somehow still be seen even if they were wearing cinder-blocks for masks.

"Alright, we've got less than twelve hours before his metabolism cleans all of the gold out of this solution. You cannot under any circumstances let his body emerge from this blend and we cannot--repeat: cannot fuck this up in any way, lads. If anyone has any questions, go ahead and place yourself in the morgue because it will be worse than death should we, at any time, become aware that you let your dog eat your goddamned homework." Cornelius gave a good-natured laugh, or at least the best that his nature would permit, before grinning. "Let's get to it."

The Howlett Estate
The Fall of 1853

James had been sleeping until glass shattered with the kind of jarring vibrance that hopes and dreams do. He groggily cast his comforters aside, hearing a struggle in the foyer at the bottom of the staircase, so he went to go investigate. Cautiously now, he peeked through his doorway, seeing nothing but spears of moonlight piercing his boyish sanctuary. He hears the struggle continue with the kind of mortal urgency that makes a man sacrifice that which he holds dearest, so little James casts his worries to the same corner of his room that his comforters had been exiled to.

He tugs on his door's crack and rips it open, hearing it wheeze and halfway expecting some kind of acknowledgement that he'd penetrated the forbidden aether. None came. Just more struggling and cursing, angry obscenities--the sort that a busy father can pass out like trading cards. James crawls through the darkness before peeking over his staircases' rail and seeing two of his favorite people in the world beating the snot out of each other.

"You thought that I didn't know? You think I'm completely oblivious?" John Howlett howled before crashing his fist against his former housekeeper's jaw. John doesn't stop there though, he strikes again and again and again and again. "You think you can just have at my wife? I'll have at your worthless little thieving life. But you don't get to see the kid. He's mine. Everything in this house is mine. Every mouse, plate, person and piece of shit like yourself." Howlett hits again. "Sure are a glutton for punishment, aren't you Logan?"

It's not that he didn't appreciate the world-shattering impact of watching these two pillars of his upbringing fight it out like this, but young James was trying to remember what the word glutton meant. Didn't that mean Wolverine?

"Yep, you got me. Can't help it much. Never could." Mister Thomas Logan chuckles before spitting his own blood into Howlett's eyes, blinding the patriarch for a moment. "But my gluttonous ass is lucky to be fighting a sissy boy like you who has to write a damned dissertation between every pitch." Logan digs in, kneeing the man, smashing the sides of his head back and forth like a solo tennis match. "Say whatever you want, John, but the wife prefers me. I'm a simple man, but effective. I'm the best there is at what I do, but what I do isn't very nice."

John Howlett goes down with a crack. In engineering terms, you could say that his nose suffered a catastrophic failure. That was the first time that little James Howlett died inside. The boy rushes down the stairs and pounces on his bleeding father, whose purple face manages to convey pure contempt. John Howlett spits in James' face and the last word that he ever growls is "Logan."

At that, James turns around and furiously dives into Mr. Logan's outstretched arms, planting his fist harmlessly in the housekeeper's belly, again and again like his father had done. Logan tries to tell the kid to take it easy, but then one of the punches sticks and Mr. Logan just slumps to the ground before he can get a word out.
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Hidden 5 yrs ago 5 yrs ago Post by Hound55
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Hound55 Create-A-Hero RPG GM, Blue Bringer of BWAHAHA!

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1600 - June 28th, 2018 - Approximately 50 kilometres from Luxor, EGYPT

The desert sands rose and swirled as the bird lowered. What once looked like a single spinning object slowed until 4 rotor blades were visible, and the men jumped out.

The first was a large caucasian man in desert fatigues. Big, with heavy steps which belied a powerful frame. How quickly he could move that frame when he felt the need was a well kept secret.

Marc Spector. Ex-marine. Fighter. Violence given form,

“Miles from anywhere.” He grumbled, “What have you dragged me into now, Bushman?”

The mysterious man flashed a dark grin full of steel in response.

“That depends, Spector. If your friend dropped us off in the right place. Froggy, did you--”

The man he referred to stepped from the chopper’s cockpit. More slender than the first man, with a well manicured moustache. His hat and pilot’s suit kept in a pristine condition, which revealed a far from subtle sense of style and refined taste.

Jean Paul DuChamp. Pilot. Sniper. Boundless patience.

“I asked you to stop calling me that… and yes. I set us down exactly where you said. The Alraune dig is just over 2 kilometres away, ov-air that dune.” The French pilot chomped down on a cigarette holder.

The heavyset man in command stormed forward leaving Spector and DuChamp to their own idle chatter.

“Really? A cigarette holder? Don’t you get tired of giving him stuff to rip on you about?”

“Marc, what you may consider, ehh… ‘rip-worth-ie’ my people would describe as a certain… je ne sais quoi.” The Frenchman held the cigarette holder betwen his teeth with a grin whilst straightening his pilot jacket, and presenting himself with a flourish gesture.

“Je ne sais quoi… Is that French for stereotypical?”

The pair approached the heavyset man who was standing at the top of the sand dune his gaze caught on the target in question. African with a powerful build, a heavily tattooed face, a commanding voice like an angry dog and a demeanour that could turn just as nasty, just as quickly.

Raoul Bushman. Mercenary. Sadist. Thoroughly Nasty Piece of Work.

“There it is, Spector. The vans will rendezvous here from the main pass back there in 3-4 hours. Meanwhile, we stake out the road between the dig and the city. Look for tendencies…”

Spector pulled a pair of binoculars. He could see a small archeological crew sifting through a cordoned off area of desert. A large number of locals doing gruntwork, and two notable westerners - an old man and a young blonde woman.

“You asked what we were doing here, Spector...” The mercenary leader growled. “We’re revenue raising...”

* * * * *

2000 - June 28th, 2018 - The Alraune Dig, 50km away from Luxor

A young blonde woman walks across a cordoned off section of the excavation site and into a central tent. An old man barks orders at the workers, local labourers, “We need another 6 inches from the inner cordon before we finish tonight!” The old man walks past gas lanterns to join the young blonde in the main tent.

“Marlene, how are we doing?”

The young blonde is examining a table covered in ancient artifacts and assorted metallic trinkets spread across a plain white tablecloth for relief.

“Daddy, you know exactly how we’re doing. We’re 6 inches behind schedule on the preliminary main dig site we selected, but we also have had some luck in some of the surrounding regions. We’ve got enough here to keep our funding going for the sites we have planned, so long as we don’t get struck with a major sandstorm or other anomaly.”

“Hmm… museums and Federal grants. We Must render under Caesar that which--”

“That which is shiny, because that’s what Caesar gives a shit about.” Marlene finished crudely. “But you and I both know the really interesting thing around here is if we can find the tomb. And of course, the--”

“Yes.” The old man said, as his eyes glazed over at the thought of how close his life’s work was coming to bearing fruit. “The surrounding chapels. Think of what we could learn of their culture! By the city that was Thebes! What we could learn of the mythology behind the New Kingdom Gods! The Theban trio; Amun, Mut and their son Khonshu!”

“What do you think we’ll find?” Marlene asked excitedly.

“Well from what we know of Seti II he was frequently the target of plots and assassination events. Particularly a twisted brother or half brother - Amenmesse - who would go on to rule. If we were talking about the Old Kingdom gods I could see a particular reverence to Horus being shown. The comparisons of the murderous relative and the protection figure he often forms… but since we’re in Thebes...”

“Khonshu!” She gasped.

“That’s my girl.” The old man smiled.

The warm moment of family connection is suddenly interrupted by the staccato of automatic rifle fire.

“What in the--” Marlene started.

“Oh no… Bushman!” The old man said.

“Who?” The blonde girl asked.

The old man gingerly grabbed the corners of the tablecloth, making a makeshift sling containing all of the artifacts.

“A regional mercenary leader. I heard the workers talking. They’re scared to death of him. Take this, put it in the jeep and drive. I need you out of here.”

“What are you going to do? Dad?”

Dr Peter Alraune opened a long box and took out a shotgun. He ran out of the tent before she could ask him again.

* * * * *

Marc Spector looked on at the chaos. Local workers were herded terrified away to one corner of the dig site. Tents were ransacked to look for valuables.

“WHERE THE FUCK IS IT?!” Bushman barked. He repeated the same demand in Arabic and Coptic.

“Frenchie…” Marc whispered hoarsely into the night, getting his friend’s attention.


“You know I’m far from a boyscout, and we’ve done our fair share of--”

“Oui, Marc. Say no more. I’m thinking the same thing. This needs to stop. We’re soldiers, this isn’t a battle, it’s going to turn into a massacre.”

Over the crest of a distant sand dune, a jeep pulled up in the distance. Blonde hair blew in the night’s wind as the driver looked on.

“Where is Alraune! I will not ask a second time!” Bushman hissed at the workers, levelling his handgun at one of them.

The recognizable sound of a shotgun cocking pierced the night’s air.

“He’s right here.” The old man said, aiming the barrel squarely at Raoul Bushman’s ghost-white tattooed face.

“Don’t be stupid.” Bushman said, not aiming his handgun away from the same worker. “We outnumber you. Put the gun down and stand over there with the others, or I start shooting them. One every three seconds. One..”

“Maybe you do outnumber me… but I can still shoot you.”


Dr Alraune was clearly thinking about his options. But his eyes gave him away. He knew there was no easy solution. And he didn’t really want to shoot anyone anyway.

“Wait!” The old man said. Aiming the shotgun away, pointing it at the sky.

“Give the gun to him.” Bushman said, referring to Spector. “And go and stand over with the others.”

The old man looked down, defeated. He handed Spector the shotgun and began to walk over to the group of workers.

“Alraune…” Bushman called.

The archaeologist looked up. Bushman pulled the trigger and the worker’s brains sprayed across the sand. Blood spattered across his tattooed face.

With a speed that seemed unnatural for someone’s Bushman’s size he rushed up, grabbed the sides of Peter Alraune’s face and whispered hoarsely in the old man’s face whilst he looked deeply into his eyes.

“I don’t negotiate with that which is already mine. You made me kill him the second I raised the gun.”

Bushman shook his face in his big hands.

“...Just as sure as you died the second you decided to touch that gun.”

With a quick, sudden, sharp twist Bushman broke the old man’s neck. Dr Alraune’s body crumpled in on his own weight.


The scream came from the jeep over the sand dune. Marc stood stunned. They were simply looting this site. Unarmed local workers and an old man and his daughter. An entire band of mercenaries. None of this was necessary.

“There!” yelled Bushman. “She must have the goods, bring her back dead or alive… Alive, we have more fun...”

Mercenaries took after the jeep.

“No! Nobody had to die here today!” Marc had enough, levelling the shotgun at Bushman.

“Spector…” The mercenary snarled. “Put the gun down.” Bushman asked with a cooler tone.

“Like Alraune, huh? Yeah… not gonna happen.”

The pretence left Bushman and he unsheathed a combat knife.

Spector squeezed… and the shotgun dry fired. The firing pin broke and dropped into the desert sands. The old man didn’t even have it loaded! As Spector looked down at the weapon in shock, Bushman made up the distance and thrust the knife home.

“Spec-tooor.” He growled. Marc felt the blade scraping between ribs and the heat off his breath.

A chopper strafed firing twin cannons. Bushman dove aside. Spector staggered away leaking blood. Slowly he began to work up to a trot, running in the direction he saw the blonde woman’s jeep speed away in.

* * * * *

With neither smog, nor light pollution the desert night’s sky was filled with stars. The full moon hung in the sky like the swollen fruit of a colossal cosmic tree. The second full moon of the month. A blue moon.

Spector staggered across the desert sand, his eyes focused on keeping the jeep’s tire tracks in front of his feet. It had seemed like an hour since the mercenaries had come running back the other way under a hailstorm of chopper cannon fodder as Frenchie had halted their pursuit. Spector had dropped into a sand dune and waited for them to pass, before re-commenced tracking the jeep.

Marc couldn’t remember the last time he’d taken water. That could have just been the blood loss though. A horrible thought just passed through Spector’s mind; he hadn’t even seen tail-lights and in the open desert he could see for what seemed like miles. Besides, he was starting to get tired. Well, not exhausted tired… but sleepy.

Then he saw it. The rear end of the jeep, sunk about 2 feet into the sand. He staggered around the jeep, unable to see where the driver had gone. Then his right leg sunk through the sand.

Marc Spector fell forever.

An air pocket beneath the sand.

Spector tumbled through space.

Marc saw himself falling through the cosmos, his clothes turned bright white, then his clothes turned to just wrappings on his form, falling behind a planet he emerged on the other side as a white feather drifting on the cosmic winds.

Cast adrift on the whims of gods.

Marc Spector’s body lay on the hard floor of the temple, at the feet of a great statue covered in a white shroud. Bleeding profusely.

From behind a pillar the blonde woman peeked out.
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Hidden 5 yrs ago Post by Bounce
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Green Lantern uniforms were composed of a matrix of unstable atoms.

They were commonly created through molecular synthesis, a process that could be controlled by the Lantern's ring. As a result, the pattern was one of the first thing that every rookie Lantern learned. Creating the suit was a tutorial of sorts for using the ring to create more abstract objects.

The fibers that had been recovered from Jane Doe's body were those of a Green Lantern uniform.

I have compiled several searches and been unable to find any files on a missing or deceased Green Lantern whose physiological features correspond to those of our Jane Doe.

The two Green Lanterns had returned to the Sentinel. After updating Aya with the technical report that Doctor von Buron had provided them with, the pair had diverged along the different lines on which this investigation now took them. Kai-ro was working with Aya to try and identify a report of a missing or dead Green Lantern that would match the description of their Graxian corpse.

Meanwhile, the H'lven seemed like he was having a better time with his side of things. "I got something," the chipmunk noted aloud. In the air, a green construct materialized.

It was a replica of the silicon wristband that Jane Doe had been wearing.

"There's a symbol repeated across the front of the band," Ch'p noted aloud. As he spoke, a second green construct appeared, depicting a series of information. "The symbol matches that used by a club on Scylla."

"What's someone in the Green Lantern Corps doing hanging out in a club on Scylla?"

"Someone wearing the uniform of a Green Lantern," Ch'p noted, correcting the boy. "It's a stretch, but Aya and I will head to Scylla to check it out. In the meantime, you head back to Oa. See if Salaak or Kilowog have any information about our Graxian."

The young Tibetan didn't reply. He seemed to be only half-listening. Which, in truth, was rather apt a description.

"Something's not making sense here," the boy said finally, glancing up at the levitating chipmunk as the youth struggled with a nagging feeling in the back of his mind.

"It's a crazy universe we live in, kid," the H'lven offered in reply. "But we ain't gonna figure it out sittin' 'round here."

A moment of reflection, after which the child bowed his head toward the small Lantern. "Noted," the boy answered simply.

Taking his leave of the H'lven and the ship's AI, Kai-ro made his way to the back of the patrol cruiser. As he stepped into the airlock, the boy brought his right hand up, adjusting the distinctive ring. A green aura enveloped his small form, as the exterior hatch was pulled away like a curtain to reveal the naked cosmos outside. Gently, the boy's foot drifted from off the deck as he floated freely into the vacuum awaiting him.

Space could be frightening the first time. There was no concept of up or down. No compass points with which to orient the mind. Some never overcame the vertigo. But Kai-ro? Kai-ro felt like this was true freedom. Putting his arms by his side, the child ducked and then pushed himself out through the void like a dolphin sliding through the sea. As the boy sailed out from under the Sentinel, the patrol cruiser pulsed with a green energy before making the jump to hyperspace.

Gliding across the emptiness, the youth arced upward as he extended his arm out toward the vast cosmos. A pulse from his ring and a wormhole began to open. A passage that would take him to Sector Zero.

The planet Oa.
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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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Castle Doom, Latveria

Reed Richards and Victor von Doom stood in congress on the roof of Castle Doom. In the distance Mount Sorcista loomed over the Latverian plains. Legend had it that the mountain was home to a demon sorceress that had once ruled Latveria with an iron fist. Though the city below them still bore the signs of conflict there was no denying that it was an architectural marvel.

Sue’s doubts had begun to bleed into Reed. He had thought with the help of Doom he might be able to repair their craft within the week. He was wrong. Yesterday the four of them had taken the decision to leave Latveria to seek help elsewhere.

Where else but New York?

First Reed had been forced to make a call that he suspected he might come to regret. In his world they had worked closely with SHIELD once. Indeed, the organisation had sponsored the ill-fated journey through space that had gifted them their powers. That relationship had soured not long after Fury had been ousted from his position.

Doom had assured him that Nick Fury was director of SHIELD in this world, too, which had been of great relief to Reed. Even across dimensions there were some constants. Nick Fury directing SHIELD seemed to be one of them.

Victor had put the call in to Fury himself – much to Reed’s surprise. It seemed that there was more to Doom’s “revolution” than he had let on. The thought of Victor Von Doom working with SHIELD rather than against them tickled the super scientist.

Fury and Doom’s prior relationship worked in their favour on this occasion. Had anyone else called the Director of SHIELD to inform them that dimension-hopping metahumans had crash-landed in the capital city of a hostile nation it might have been met with a pinch of salt.

Not from Doom.

Ben had carried the battered timecraft to the roof to expedite their extraction. He and Johnny were looking forward to returning to New York – even if it wasn’t their New York. Sue seemed more concerned for her brother’s well being than anything else. Not that Reed blamed her for that. Johnny seemed in slightly better spirits than he had been but he suspected that a return to New York would do him good.

Only Doom harboured reservations. It was clear that he trusted Fury, but he seemed worried by what would come of the Four should his world’s Reed, Sue, Johnny and Ben return. It was a legitimate worry – one that Richards himself had not quite taken the time to consider.

The freshly-clean shaven Doom looked to Reed for one final affirmation. “You’re sure about this?”

“I don’t see that we have much choice. You’ve been more accommodating than we could have ever imagined, Victor, but I think Karadick will murder us if we don’t let you get on with your day job.”

A wry grin crossed Doom’s face. Karadick was a wartime general if ever there was one. Now that von Bardas’ forces had been defeated, he was ever looking for another conflict to wage. For the time being he would have to satisfy himself with skirmishes with Wyncham’s forces.

“One does not acquire a nickname like the ‘Green Bear’ without reason.”

From behind the men Sue, Johnny and Ben appeared. Sue approached them more easily, while Johnny and Ben kept their distance.

Storm threaded one of her arms around Reed’s back and rested her hand on his hip. She looked at Doom for a few moments, unsure what it was that had changed about him, before she noticed the mess of facial hair that had greeted them before had been removed.

“You shaved.”

“Kristoff’s doing,” Doom said as he ran a hand over his newly smooth face. “He was of the opinion that a beard was unbecoming of a head of state. I was convinced that there was some merit to his argument – after a great deal of debate.”

“Shame,” Sue said mischievously. “It suited you.”

They stood in silence for a few moments and it dawned on Reed and Sue that they had never once needed to engage in small-talk with Victor von Doom.

Thankfully Doom had questions of his own. “You’ll seek out Lex Luthor once you return to America, I presume?”

Reed pinched the bridge of his nose as he ran through the list of super scientists that could help them. As much as he hated to admit it, Luthor was probably their best bet. He wasn’t sure whether this universe had a Tony Stark or an Amadeus Cho but he made a mental note to himself to check once they had left Latveria.

“The thought may have crossed my mind,” Richards conceded.

“Be careful, Reed. There are rumours about some of Luthor’s associations.”

Ben Grimm cupped his hands together and called out to them. “Heh, I don’t know if you’re in any position to cast aspersions on anyone else’s character, Doom.”

“I’m with ugly on this one,” Johnny nodded.

It seemed the pair had been listening in despite their attempts to separate themselves from all things Doom-related. The prospect of niggling Doom proved too seductive for Johnny Storm. He marched over ready to deliver a barb he had clearly rehearsed in his head long before.

“You so much as dream about going all Doombot on these poor people and the next time you see me I’ll make barbecue out of you and that scar-faced general of yours.”

Doom seemed to take the threat completely in his stride. “I don’t doubt you for a moment, Jonathan.”

The docility of Doom’s response seemed to take Johnny off-guard. He stood flabbergasted until his sister came to his rescue.

“What about you? What will you do now that your revolution is over, Doom?”

“Well, I thought I might start small,” Victor said with a smile. “Universal healthcare, perhaps.”

To hear Doom say it you would think achieving such a thing could be done overnight. It would take him a week at the very most. Then there would the von Bardas’ trial to oversee. If Karadick failed to bring Wyncham to heel before then he suspected the trial might prove to be more eventful than first anticipated. But Doom would cross that bridge when he came to it.

The thick white clouds above Castle Doom began to part and a Pegasus-type SHIELD helicarrier appeared above them.

“Looks like our ride’s here,” Johnny said with a gesture up towards the Pegasus.

It had entered into Latverian airspace twelve minutes ago. Its cloaking technology was not advanced enough to fool even the most rudimentary of Doom’s scanners. As it lowered gently towards the roof of the castle, Reed looked towards Doom and smiled earnestly at him.

“Thank you for your help, Victor,” he said as he extended his hand towards the Latverian.

“You don’t need to thank me,” Doom said as he shook Richards’ hand. “In this world, you and I were like best friends. I gather our relationship is somewhat different in yours, but spare this encounter some thought when you return home. Perhaps your Doom might yet surprise you.”

They bid Doom farewell, each with vary degrees of sincerity, and approached the Pegasus as it set itself down. Its ramp lowered and a dozen SHIELD operatives poured out onto the roof to ensure it was secure. Once they were satisfied, twice as many SHIELD scientists came jogging out to observe the wreckage of Reed’s timecraft.

The man running the show was last out.

“The name’s Guy Gardner,” the ginger-haired SHIELD agent said with a grin. “I’m guessing you’re the sorry sons of bitches I’m here to collect.”
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