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Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Hound55
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Hound55 A Create-A-Hero RPG GM, Blue Bringer of BWAHAHA!

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T H E A B O D E O F T E D K O R D

Present Day, Around an Hour Ago | Boston, Massachusetts

Ted laid out his latest completed work across his workbench, as unimpressive as it appeared. It looked like a plain spandex suit with navy blue beetle shaped piping across the neckline, but this undersold the effort involved. Beneath the spandex, three layers of metallic mesh sandwiched a thin layer of Nomex – a fire retardant material often used in firefighter and auto racing suits – to the surface, and a layer of PVC to insulate his skin from the wiring and circuitry he had running through his outfit. Particularly his sleeves, which had more convoluted wiring than you’d find behind his father’s TV.

His cowl had a clasp that could only be removed when contact to the circuitry that went through the ring finger on either hand was made with the clasp. But it was the goggles on his cowl were a real work of genius. Putting the side of his index finger from either glove he could toggle through numerous different view settings, including magnification, access to the ultraviolet and infra-red spectrum’s of light, night vision and a wide range of others…

…which were frankly far too confusing and disorienting for him to likely use in the field. But it was still cool that he had access to it. It was frankly, rather typical for him to reach beyond his grasp. Or grasp beyond his reach. However that saying goes.

His B.B. Gun was a point of pride as well. He’d come up with an entirely non-lethal weapon to use in the field, and the best thing was it could never be used against him, because it required contact with the circuitry within the inner trigger finger of either glove.

But by far his greatest pride and joy was the Bug.

It was also the thing most likely to give him away, as well. It’s hard to use an amazing all-terrain vehicle, as distinctive as the Bug was out in the field when you had patented an extremely similar vehicle for use in extra-planetary exploration. Even if you did keep the finished product under wraps from the general public. The patent office still had the paperwork for 8647-342 in the archives if anyone really knew what they were looking for.

Which is why Ted decided that it would be for the best if he restricted his use of the Bug to emergency situations and for low-profile transportation only.

Which sounds strange when talking about a revolutionary new aircraft/submersible vehicle of its size, if it weren’t for the whisper quiet anti-gravity engines, the stealth panelling underneath and the fact that the whole thing was powered by his new solar panels.

In fact the new solar panels came from his requirements to make the Bug work in the first place. Chalk up another great innovation to the space program.

If he opened the wings up to allow the Bug to fully charge even the auxiliary panels under the Bug-wing areas, presumably above cloud cover, the Bug could provide itself with enough power to remain in the air in perpetuity, even in winter. Of course, having a strange unmanned vehicle constantly circling over Boston was not a sensible thing to do. With or without stealth panelling. You leave anything up there long enough and inevitably something would go wrong with it and prove the dictum that “what goes up, must come down again”... and prove it in a messy way with complaining locals and burning wreckage that’s melting their kids’ playhouse in the backyard. Assuming some military craft didn’t discover it, worry that it was a threat of some kind, and blow it out of the sky.

Knowing his luck, the government would probably try and claim it was his fault when they did just that and left shrapnel and debris raining down on the general population thousands of feet below.

So yeah, emergency situations and low profile transportation only. At least for the time being.

Suddenly, the radio chirped. A police code which Ted had memorized from a list he’d found online was uttered, and given a high priority rating.

A gang of men had been seen hanging off of the Palmer Meditech Center. Twenty six floors up. The men were armed, and a cordon was being established as police had little idea how to deal with such a unique robbery.

Ted looked at his equipment sprawled across his workbench and the Bug behind him.

“Practical testing phase?” He thought to himself.

The radio chirped again, revealing that the robbers were wearing full body suits that may be intended to shield from radiation. Suspects may be stealing medical grade radioactive materials.

Dozens of worst case scenarios flashed across Ted’s mind as to what their intentions could be.

Ted grabbed his suit and B.B gun. Practical testing phase.

A H I G H - R I S E O F F I C E

Earlier | Location Undisclosed, New York City

Fleeter leaned in the doorway swirling his glass of rye, ice clinking gently against the sides as he addressed his prospective client. With his slicked back hair and his 60s styled Brooks Brothers suit he paused for effect as he often was wont to do.

You called, I’m here. What are we moving this time?

The presumption amused the man in green as he sat in his high-back chair, facing away from the door. Contemplating the city laid out before him, beyond the one-way multiplex glass.

“You can can the slick act, you’re done and you know it.”

What are you talking about? Fleeter replied, straightening up, but he knew what was coming.

“What am I talking about? You created a Big Belly Burger advertisement where a kid was mourning his dead father, upset that he didn’t have anything in common with him, until his mother pointed out that both his father and he liked Big Belly Burger. It was so transparently a cash in on bereavement, that it failed. A failed American fast food ad campaign. I wouldn’t have believed it was possible, if I hadn’t seen it myself. You’re done, ‘Frank’.” He chuckled, dropping Fleeter’s birth name, and with it the confident smile seemingly omniprescent on the ad-man's smug face. The man in green did his homework.

“‘Farley Fleeter’. How transparent can you be? You landed on ‘Farley’ so it would sound like two surnames, eh? Make it look like some big partnership when you took out ad space for your small start-up advertising agency, didn’t you? Always so much focus on appearances and style over substance. Looks to me like the only chance you have is if some huge client for some reason went out and took a flier on your agency…”

“...but that would only happen if you were cashing in a chip on some really big favour.” The man in green spun in his chair, a wide grin spread across his face. Farley Fleeter had his nuts in a vice and he knew it.

He swirled his glass once more and downed the contents entirely.

So what do you need..?

F A R L E Y F L E E T E R A D V E R T I S I N G A G E N C Y

Present Day, Fifteen Minutes Ago | Madison Avenue, New York

M A D M E N -


A term coined in the late nineteen fifties to describe
the advertising executives on Madison Avenue.

They coined it.

Well… Ok, not really… We can’t back that up.

I mean James Kelly used the term in his book The Insider…
and it was used once in an article back then.

...but that was also written by James Kelly.

So you know it wasn’t really a thing that people said
or anything.

But I mean, at least it had a movie made about it...

Michael Mann and Pacino teaming up again post-Heat…
Russell Crowe…

Oh, wait, no. Disregard that. That was based on
The Man Who Knew Too Much. By Marie Brenner.

Huh…

You know what… If you can move past the whole
Mad Men name explanation thing, that’d really be
great, I mean we have some good stuff coming up
and we worked really hard on it...

Like, we sunk $3 million in the pilot episode…
So we’re kind of “All-in” on this...

There’s some great scenes coming up with Farley Fleeter
kicking back in a pretty comfy chair, in a cool suit,
smoking and drinking rye whiskey on the rocks. Like a boss.

Crazy hot women swanning around everywhere.
I think you’ll like it. I mean Christina Hendricks, C’mon now…
Am I right..?

So you know, if you can just move past the name thing,
I promise you there’s some good stuff coming…

Thanks. Really appreciate it…





Fleeter pushed past the receptionist's cube full of intent and smoking like a chimney. She tried to stall him with a conversation, but he was in the office before she could complete a word.

The office looked sparse with much of his subordinate’s stuff packed in boxes on top of the expensive mahogany desk where the cognac finish wasn’t left exclusively to the bottle in his drawer.

I have a solution. Round up everyone who’s left into the conference room in 10 minutes. And I mean everyone. Regardless of role.

He grabbed a bottle of bourbon from one of his underling’s boxes, and quickly filled a glass.

We’re about to save this company.




P A L M E R M E D I T E C H C E N T E R

Present Day, Now | Boston, Massachusetts

Ted Kord took great care manoeuvring the Bug on its inaugural flight. He refrained opening up the engines, he held himself back from any aerobatics. The barrel roll, kulbit and Pugachev’s Cobra would have to wait for another day. Today was about discreetly and quickly getting from A to B, and when he finally got to the scene, he maintained a high altitude over police and media helicopters as he assessed the scene.

The top windows of the building were opaque and he couldn’t make out figures, but he could see a single swinging beam of light from where a lantern or torch was being shone. He assumed there were at least 6 crooks in there - possibly as many as double that – armed with, whoknowswhat. Not the best intel. With a finger to his visor he cycled through view settings until he could make out the heat signatures within.

Ten. Weaponry didn’t really show, but judging from their postures and stances they were holding some form of small arms. A bit bigger than regular handgun, but smaller than assault rifles. Uzis perhaps? Maybe. Sawed-off shotguns was also a possibility. And in this world of Spider-Men and Wonder Women who knows, maybe those firearms were something even more modified and creative.

A single torch? Marking an exit? All of the lights were still off in the top floors of the building, the power cut from below by the authorities.

Ted checked the controls on his wrist were working, moving the bug slightly closer to the building before stopping, satisfied the remote controls worked. He ran to the back of the bug, opened the hatch and tapped his hip to check the BB gun was still there. He grabbed his sky wire and looked down the hatch at the lights of the city and rooftops far below.

“Well, if I screw this next bit up, at least I won’t have to worry about what I’m going to do for long…”
The Blue Beetle descended upon the Palmer MediTech Center from the night’s sky as if clinging to a thread of gossamer, B.B. gun at the ready.




F A R L E Y F L E E T E R A D V E R T I S I N G A G E N C Y

Present Day, Now | Madison Avenue, New York

“So what’s all this about, Mr Fleeter?” A buxom secretary asked.

Fleeter walked over to the open bar, poured himself a drink and turned to the full assembly. 6. 6 people left from his entire agency. He’d ask himself if things had really gone that bad, but facts in evidence made the question redundant.

I have a plan to get this agency back on its feet. It will require bending some rules…

He hesitated. No, now was not the time to bend the truth with these people.

—no. Breaking some rules. Some laws. But what I can offer you all is a piece of what remains. Everyone present and participating will become senior partners of Farley Fleeter. For most of you, that would be a significant promotion. Many of you, an opportunity you’ll likely never see again given your current career paths.

He had a copy boy, 2 receptionists, a new junior executive who was always the last to hear news (hence why he hadn’t jumped ship yet), a man in his forties who had worked in the mail room for fifteen years, and 2 phone bank workers.

There is never reward without risk though. And as I said, choosing to stay involved from beyond this point will make you a criminal. Or at least, directly involved with a crime. Anyone who wants to leave, can do so now without any repercussions. If you feel you can’t be involved, this is the moment to leave.

He looked around the conference room. The six were steadfast. Waiting to see where this opportunity would lead. He was right, many of these people would never get another opportunity like this. And even the junior executive would have to fix his career trajectory from the ashes after having worked for an agency which self-destructed so spectacularly. These people had little and would do what they could to buy into a piece of the pie.

Good. Fleeter added, swirling his rye.

“So what’s the plan?” The secretary asked.

I received word from a big potential client, what he needs is for something to be removed from the market. Competition to be cleared at an expo, at least until he can make up the ground.

“We’re stealing a product? What is it?”

It’s some kind of ersatz faux Iron Man suit called the B.E.E.T.L.E produced by Kord Omniversal. We have to take it before it gets revealed at the upcoming New York Expo. There’s no way we can take it before it hits New York, so we have to wait until it gets to the Expo itself, but before the big demonstration.

“An Iron Man suit?”

Not exactly. But something like that.

“So this client—”

Is big enough that they’re going to be paying the bills around here for a while? Yes.

There was a pause amongst all in attendance as they thought about the money such a client could bring in.

“So how do we get in?”

Fleeter raised his eyebrows with some hint of surprise at the question, before the junior executive chimed in.

“We’re advertising agents. We generally get passes because it’s all part of the courting process. They want our interest as much as we want theirs. Can we get 7 passes though, Fleeter?”

Frank nodded and took another gulp from his glass, before putting it down and lighting up a cigarette.

“OK. So access is taken care of,” said the copyboy, “but how exactly are we going to take this suit without getting recognized?”

Glad you asked. Fleeter bent down below the level of the table and picked up a large cardboard box which had been waiting for this very question.

Farley Fleeter has long been known as a company with a certain sense of style. A certain je ne sais quoi that is as recognizable in its class and distinction as its advertising campaigns are in their own signature style. And that is why— He ran a pen knife down the length of the top of the box and took something out, throwing it to the junior executive.

—I felt we should take that into consideration when we perform this next task.

The junior executive unfurled the object and found himself looking down at a hideous tie-died blue shirt.

“What is this? Are we going as fans of the Grateful Dead? I think we’ll stand out a bit at a science Expo wearing these… I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing this.”

Exactly. None of us would. Me more than most.

He pulled a hideous orange clown wig and plastic mask out of the box and tossed those to the junior executive next.

To complete the ensemble…

Fleeter threw more outfits, wigs and masks around the room to the future senior partners of Farley Fleeter. The redheaded secretary held up her blue mask and wig, offering them to the junior exec.

“Here, these ones match your clothes. I’ve got the orange ones.”

Fleeter chimed in. No, leave it. If everyone mixes and matches it might be tougher to identify us. If we’re all in blue, all in green, all in single colours it might be easier for them to form a description. Anything to make it a little more difficult.

The 7 huddled together, formulating their plan, as the whiskey flowed and the smoke circled. Ideas bounced around between them until the perfect scheme came together.




”—and in the lighter side of the news today, a daring robbery by ten men wearing funny costumes and armed with modified heat beam weapons were taken down by a new self-proclaimed hero today, downtown at the Palmer MediTech Center. The ten men, labelled ‘The Squid Gang’ due to their use of magnetic/pressurized suction caps and their unique body suits and night vision masks, were foiled by this bright figure who calls himself The Blue Beetle – possibly as an homage to the old 60s television hero of the same name, portrayed by Dan Garrett.

Chief Warner expressed gratitude to the colourful figure, and his assistance in seeing the Squid Gang brought to justice but would like to remind citizens not to involve themselves in police matters.

‘Obviously the Boston Police Department is thankful that this situation could be resolved without injury or loss of life, but when regular citizens untrained in such conflict situations involve themselves the likelihood that someone gets hurt or killed increases dramatically…’

But for now, who is this Blue Beetle? A violent spectre throwing his fists at crime, like the tales of the Bat in Gotham, or a friendly, neighbourhood guardian of justice? Only time can tell. Until then, this has been Cassie Arnold from Boston reporting.”

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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Bounce
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Bounce

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T O L M E R I A

The Andromeda Galaxy

The boy’s feet touched down on the planet.

The red-and-blue ensemble was something he’d picked up from the Majesdanes. Come to find out, they transmuted light into energy -- hence the name, Light Brigade. As a result, their clothes were apparently really good at conducting radiation. That was helpful, because the ambient energy that Billy produced could totally cook regular clothes.

Suffice to say, he didn’t have any of his clothes from Earth anymore.

At least the Majesdanes and Galadorians were close to human. Trying to fit into clothes designed for horse-people was a total non-starter. They liked their clothing loose and baggy on themselves. Put those clothes on a Billy with a fraction of the frame and it was like wearing a tent.

He’d been flying for miles. He’d spanned at least a quarter of the planet. Flown over what seemed like ghost towns, or cities that had been reduced to rubble. Then, he’d finally seen people.

But to say that something was wrong would have been an understatement.

The boy was walking between a row of people all shackled in chains. They were moving rocks from a quarry toward where a monolith was being erected. At the center of the spectacle was a large statue that was beginning to take shape.

At the sight of the strange, red-blue figure walking without chains, the people began to shrink away from the dark haired child.

All things being equal, he’d just assume the big guy holding the pole-ax was the dude in charge.

“I’m hoping its just Pantless Tuesday or something.”


The gray skinned figure turned, an arm outstretched as he bellowed, “I am TERRAX.”

Was Billy supposed to know what a Terrax was? Because he didn’t even know what a Tolmeria was until about five days ago. “That doesn’t explain why you’re not wearing pants,” the boy remarked, without so much as missing a beat.

The man lifted up the pole-ax, holding it aloft as though it were a royal scepter. “I have come to tame this world,” the alien declared, before extending the head of the pole-ax out toward the boy. “Bow before me, that I might show mercy.”

The kid from Fawcett City just gave a shrug and a shake of his head. “No can do, Pops,” the boy answered in a matter-of-fact voice.

“Not going to lie. It’s the pants thing.”
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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by HenryJonesJr
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HenryJonesJr

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THOR AND STAR-LORD

IN
GIMME SHELTER




Star-Lord rocketed towards the explosions and flashes of light he saw in the distance, his Walkman blaring into his ears. Even from this distance he could see the landing craft touching down on the streets of Knowhere. Beneath him, he could see people fleeing from the attack. It made his blood boil, if he was being honest. Quill was in most things for himself, that much was sure. But he made his living conning and stealing from rich assholes and jackasses. He couldn't stomach people picking on the weak, and he wasn't gonna let that pass.

He brought himself low to the ground as he approached ground zero. He weaved in and out of the fleeing civilians, using his impeccable flying skills to do so. He knew approaching the enemy from below would give him the opportunity to take them by surprise with the rocket boots. It looked like the invaders were using the square a few clicks away as a staging area.

What he saw in the square took him aback. He saw the attackers, and they were unlike anything Peter had ever seen before. They looked like a mix of insects and robots. Their dull-purple skin shined in the light, with segments at the joints revealing it to be a kind of exoskeleton. But weaved int with their natural armor were gold accents that looked both like armor and wiring. It glowed with currents running through it, like a luminescent communications. Their mandibled faces chattered with excitement as they fired into the escaping crowds.

"I don't know what the hell you are, but you're not killing anyone else!"

He opened fire with the Element Guns, ripping through them easily. But they kept coming. One after another, almost like they had no love for their friends. Maybe they didn't. They looked like bugs. For all he knew they were some sort of hive mind. What was best for the colony was best for the individual. Losing one meant nothing when there were hundreds more to take their place.

The wave of the creatures climbed over the dead bodies of their kin to get towards him. They fired at him with lance-like rifles, pushing him back into the air. While there, he saw a pair of sleigh-like attack skiffs coming towards him.

Before they reached his location, however, a dumpster flew through the air and took the two of them out. Quill shook his head in amazement before peering down to the street. There, brandishing two swords and smeared in the creatures' blood was Thor. Quill had never seen anyone who looked as natural in the thick of battle as his new traveling partner.

Thor rushed into the throng of alien creatures, slashing and hacking with the swords. He cut through them as if they were nothing, and before Peter could blink dozens of them laid at Thor's feet. The man seemed to gain strength with ever invader he cut down. He beckoned more and more to come at him, tearing through them as if they were characters in a video game.

Suddenly the hum of more of the attack skiffs came in over the music in Peter's ears. He looked and saw they were making a beeline for Thor. Instead, he moved to cut them off.

"Watch out, big guy!" he called to his new partner as he swooped over the gargantuan man's head, opening fire with his weapons. He watched as the blast tore through the control module of the front skiff, knocking it off course. It wobbled back and forth before the pilot lost control completely, slamming into its partner and causing both craft to go up in a fiery explosion.

"Well struck, Peter Quill!" Thor called to him, reveling in the victory.

"Thanks! But call me Star-Lord!" Peter corrected the barbarian.

"HA! I will do no such thing!" Thor chuckled deeply at Quill as he bashed two of the aliens' heads together. "Star-Lord! HA!"

"Come on, man," Quill grumbled to himself.

**********


The heat of battle was like a save to Thor's troubles. While he reaped Chitauri as if they were wheat in a field, they still managed to score some shots on him. Still, the small cuts and burns their weapons left on him did nothing but fuel his berserker rage further. The pain melded with the high of battle like the most powerful ambrosia he had ever tasted. One Chitauri fell in front of him and was immediately replaced by another, as if they had been made to be felled by him.

Overhead, Peter Quill buzzed about like the Greek God Mercury taking out the flying Chitauri buzzards. He was showy, and Thor did not enjoy the use of firearms, but the God of Thunder had to admit the boy was skilled. He had a way of baiting the invaders into a trap, often resulting in the destruction of multiple fatalities for the aliens.

As effectively as they were sending their enemies to the gates of Hel, Thor knew that the they wouldn't be able to do this forever. Eventually the Chitauri would be able to overwhelm them. That's how they had conquered countless civilizations before Thor and Odin had taken them off the board. They were ravenous monsters. They consumed and moved on before consuming another world. Thor had always been disgusted by the way they did not think twice about extinguishing life.

All that being said, he had to admire their tactics, and he knew that they would win here eventually.

<Thor,> the voice of Cosmo echoed through his head. <The station's defenses are almost completely powered up. All you have to do is keep the ones on the ground occupied.>

<Understood, Cosmo,> Thor responded.

"Quill!" he called to the man flying around above him. "Come down here! I require your assistance!"

The rocket-booted pirate touched down a few yards from the Asgardian, firing his guns and cutting his way towards Thor, "What do you need, big guy?"

"We need to keep their focus here," Thor directed him. "The station is going to destroy the main craft, but we need to make sure the landing troops are attacking us."

"Hey, I don't do anything better than being a distraction," Quill chuckled next to Thor.

"Well done," Thor rumbled. "Let us make Valhalla proud!"

The two warriors rushed into the remaining invaders. They worked well together, Thor had to admit. He tore into the advancing hordes while the guns of Star-Lord kept the skiffs at bay. While Quill was mostly unremarkable, Thor was happy to know that he could hold his own in battle. It meant he was a mortal of worth. At least there was that small miracle.

As the took out the last of the ground troops, a loud humming filled Thor's ears. He looked up to see one of the eye sockets of the Celestial begin to glow. It fired a crimson beam outward at the Chitauri cruiser, which promptly exploded into a brilliant ball of green.

"Bitchin'," Quill marveled.

"Aye," Thor nodded. "Bitchin' indeed."

<Thank you for zhe assist, god,> Cosmo's voice announced the dogs presence as he padded into the square. <And yours as vell, comrade.>

"Is that a psychic Russian dog?" Peter recoiled.

"Yes. I take it they are not normal?"

"Hell no, dude," Quill motioned in amazement.

<I don't suppose you vill help clean up the mess?>

"Nay, Cosmo," Thor shook his head. "Our quest continues."

[center]**********[center]

The Milano took off from the docking bay and moved to make a jump. In front of Yondu, his screen lit up, showing the ship's likely coordinates. The ship blinked from his view, and he turned to his second in command, "Did we get the jump coordinates?"

"Yes, Cap'n," Kraglin responded with a gap-filled smile. "But why we goin' after Quill? Sure he's been trouble, but he always comes through in the end, don't he?"

"Yea, he does," Yondu shrugged, but put the wanted poster that just came over the bounty hunting network on the ship's main screen. On it, both Quill and his blond friend appear, with a number with way too many zeroes to ignore next to them. "But sometime it don't make sense to ignore a pay day."

With that, the Ravager frigate jumped off to follow the Milano.
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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by DocTachyon
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New York City, NY --- 105th Precinct




Fluted slats of concrete ran up and down the walls of the NYPD’s 105th Precinct, six inches of concrete and rebar lining every wall. It had been built during the war, some kind of insurance in case the Nazis starting throwing men like Red Panzer at population centers when Wonder Woman wasn’t in play. The building was squat and ugly, five stories adding up to a turtle crouching in impenetrable wrought armor. What few hopper windows were in place were gated behind iron bars as thick around as Peter’s arm. You’d need a tank shell to crack the place open. Or one crafty spider.

Peter was on the perimeter, crouched low against the shingles of a nearby house. The Precinct crept out of a spotty treeline. Security cameras shelled in white plastic swept the several dozen yards of stark green grass between Peter and any semblance on an entryway. He adjusted the strap on the dull duffle bag wrapped around him and tensed his muscles, focusing on the fibers of his costume. There had to be some way in besides the front -- the receptionist probably wasn’t keen on Spider-themed vigilanties.

“Why can’t I be Wonder Woman? Just blow through the front door, say, ‘something something, truth, justice, etcetera’.” There was a trill from his suit, subtle vibrations coming in from the surrounding environment. A huge, sheet metal garage door out back… A loading bay? Probably for prisoner transport… And probably all the more fortified for it. Nuts. He tuned to the suit again, trying to feel out with the fibers on his own accord. The windows, maybe? He directed them, focusing -- Spider-Sense returned to him in waves, minute reverberations of concrete and metal pulsing through his body. It’s a start.

The shingles quaked as Peter flipped from his perch, slinging a web and yanking himself through the air towards the Police Station. He dropped and kicked off a tree, bounding up and over the sightline of the swiveling cameras, he twirled in the air and planted both hands against the concrete of the building’s forth floor, the suit not waiting a moment to stick fast to the side. And I stick the landing! Talk about multi-talented.

He turned on the wall and crawled to the nearest window. They had the foresight to actual bar the upper windows -- whether they were anticipating man-sized spiders or crooks armed with medieval siege towers, Peter could not say -- but now the bars had rusted over a few decades to rain and sleet and a total lack of building maintenance, or proper budgeting, for that matter. He reached for it, the bars were too thick to bend by hand, even for him, but there was something to be said about using securing bolts of the same quality as the steel.

“All things being equal to Wondy,” Peter planted both feet on either side of the window, wrapping his hands around the whole set of bars, “I don’t think I’d look so good in those pants.” Peter heaved and all the muscles in his back wound and coiled as he dragged at the bars. The metal groaned as the housing bolts exploded into fine particles of rust and concrete shavings, rattling as Peter began to pry it from the window it protected. Just a little… The concrete fractured as Peter pushed with his legs and the bars finally gave way. He nearly threw himself off the building with the force of his swing and steadied against the wall, bringing the grate against himself. There. He webbed it to an adjacent spot of the wall and popped the lock of the window with a simple push on the frame. Sweet!

Peter slid inside and found his place against the drop ceiling, feeling it out and balancing his weight between the plates. The station was no prettier inside than out. Peter was in gray hallway made out of old, stained linoleum and dotted with bays of fluorescent lights, casting the hall in a sickly yellow glow. Hollow core doors lined the walls, leading to rows of computers and desks, storerooms choked with body armor and guns, endless seas of filing cabinets stuffed with reams of personnel files. Peter listened and there was near silence, but for a few pairs of subtle footfalls echoing around the station and dying against sounds of whirring hard drives. Just the night shift.

Peter crawled forward and took a turn, creeping his way down the stairwells. The building was nearly dead, alarms silent in their places, no clatter of lockers or idle police chatter. Just the click of a mechanical keyboard as Peter drew closer and closer to his destination. According to Captain Stacy, most cops around this precinct tended to keep their work sealed in their desks -- never in evidence lock up, of course, why do something so fiendishly competent? But that meant popping a whole lot of locks in not enough time, at least if Peter expected to be home in time to get any studying in. If there was anything that would find him his case, and fast, it’d be the Captain’s computer.

Peter pushed through a second floor door and was greeted with the clack of keys against a vaulted ceiling as a half dozen cops slupred stale coffee and slaved over their after-action reports. The bullpen was long and wide, stretching the whole length of the building and surrounded by the second floor balcony. Klaxons were situated at every corner, and periodically along the room, wired into the very superstructure of the place. Peter zipped to the ceiling.

“I spy with my little eye, Captain Stacy’s office…” Peter surveyed the assembled workforce. Most were clustered to one side, away from a haphazard jumble of more substantial cubicles and thinly walled offices. Arranged by rank, maybe? Explains why these guys have to work weekends… Peter crept down and along the walls, keeping to the shadows and trying to watch the cops eyes from across the room. They were too distant to see him, but his eyes tracked them, watching for the moment they might catch him. But people never look up, he’d heard someone say, once.

He planted a webline and dropped to the ground and weaved between desks and cubicles, dotted with news clippings and framed photos. How many of them even saw the case? Peter wondered. He paused. One desk, belonging to a “WATANABE, Y”, held a picture of father and daughter.A man, a decorated captain, hands clasped behind her, a freshly inducted cadet. Sticky notes lined the monitor. ‘Ask abt Parker Shooting’, one read. There were six question marks. And how many turned it away?

Peter moved on, finding his way to an office hastily surrounded with hollow-core wood and tinted glass. The walls reached up just enough to tower beyond the cubicles, but still petered before reaching the ceiling, instead just serving as barricades. Peter hopped into the air and landed on the division. The swivel chair inside still had the plastic wrapping around its cushion, and the desk was littered with strewn papers and misplaced office supplies. Photos of a young girl with blonde hair decorated the place, some pinned directly to the wall and others framed and kept close to a dead computer monitor. An older woman was in some of them, straight blonde locks that clashed with her husband’s already greying hair, yet matching with her daughter’s so well. She was gone in some photos, where the girl looked older. A signed Gotham Knights bobblehead nodded at Peter above. This was Captain Stacy’s cubicle, alright.

He was taking his tries at the password before he hit the carpet. A gel cap keyboard, thank God. George72? No, graduation year, maybe? Eh, El Capitan’s not that vain… Favorite Gotham Knights player? The computer threw an error. Nuts… Gwendolyne02? Error. IHateSpiderMan. Error. Peter paused. Fabric of his gloves against the keys. Helen2013.

Captain Stacy’s desktop flashed for a moment as Peter navigated to the file explorer, pulling up a web of interconnected data, nestled in subfolders across the PC. Peter thanked his lucky stars that ol’ Georgie was never a big data security nut, his spider sense didn’t come in digital. He bounced between poorly titled folders that were messes of improperly placed icons and years old field reports. Then, finally, ‘CaseAssn.xlsx’. Jackpot!

The spreadsheet was arranged by dates and officer numbers, with little colored sections denoting what detectives got what cases. He scrolled further, “Parker Shooting + Arena Robbery”. Dozens of names were greyed out beside it, but the latest in the line still had a green hex around it. ‘Det. M. Larry’. Piece of cake. Peter moved the mouse to shut the computer down, but stopped. Let’s see if The Captain has… Sweet. ‘Alarm Control’ came up as he searched for it. Just a handy dandy little Spider-surprise… He switched out the file ‘alarm.wav’ for something of his choosing. A little something to remember me by.

Peter jumped out of the office and moved between desks. The sound of keys still rattled across his sense, more and more with every footstep. He’d need to get close, on this one. He slid beside an occupied desk and the officer did not look up. He stared into his coffee, supporting his head with one hand. Peter smelled his aftershave. He passed and rounded a few more desks to the one he was looking for, a dulled bronze nameplate, ‘M, LARRY’. It was a mostly empty desk, clear of notes or pencils, just a black mouse and standard issue keyboard. An aluminium filing cabinet was tucked beneath it, sealed with a garden variety padlock. Peter grabbed and pulled, the lock gave like the tab on a soda can.

There were three or four cases inside, file folders jammed with papers and photos and little baggies of evidence. He pulled them out, one by one, setting them to the carpet at his side. There. His hands closed around Ben’s file. It was slim, by comparison. He could feel plastic bags of shell casings jostling inside the thin layers of papers. It’d have to be enough, it went into the duffle. He paused and considered the other cases. Could do to be a little less obvious that I’m looking into Ben’s case… The rest of the files went into the bag. He’d get around to solving them, eventua-

Fire across Peter’s senses. He got on his haunches and launched himself up, landing poised on a desk. A cop pointed a service revolver at him. Aftershave.

“Hands up. You have the right to remain silent, and --” A glob of webbing snatched the weapon out of his hand and sent it sailing to one of the cop’s coworkers.

“Points for the attempt, big guy. Really hate to do this, but, yknow, people to save, webs to sling. Toodles.” Peter slung the bag over his shoulder and turned. Toodles? What am I, 70s-Man? A web launched from his wrist and he pulled himself forward. He crawled up the wall as the shouts of the officers began to rise, warning each other.

“Call for backup!” Peter crawled over one of the klaxons, heading for the second floor balcony. You wish! I’ll be out of here before you can say,

Peter’s world exploded into sound and color and pain. It was everywhere and all around him. Needles jammed into every pore of is body, that horrible noise raking across every one of his five senses. He couldn’t see, only feel. His spine was on fire, neurons misfiring at once trying to cope as the suit writhed around him, thrashing against him. He felt bruises deep in his muscles, searing with the pain of the sound, guitars and drums and voices all melding into one and stabbing at his core.

***


“PARR-KERR!”

“Cuff him!”

“KILLING USSSSSS!”

“Be strong, Spider-Man.”

“And somebody shut this damn --”

“FIGHT! KILL! THE NOISSSSE!”

“Mask won’t come off…”

“END IT!”

“This too, shall pass.”

PAIN! WAKE UP!”

“Wake up, Spider-Man.”

“WAKE! UP!”

“You still have a job to do, my little spider.”

“Wake UP!”

***


Ugh… My achin’ webhead... Peter didn’t know where he was. On the wall? On the floor? How… How long had it been? Seconds? Hours? His suit throbbed all around him, like a full body headache. The music dinned in the background, the notes grating against his skin and twanging against his head. He was dimly aware that he was somewhere away from it now. Carpet against his legs, fabric covered in plastic against his back. There was steel around his wrists, at least two sets of handcuffs. He opened his eyes.

He was still masked, as far as he could tell, but his vision swam. There were a six… A dozen… Two dozen? However many there were, officers in uniform argued amongst themselves pointing fingers and shouting at each other. He only caught a few words over the music. “Holding cell”. “Unmask”. “Boss”. “Backup”. “Goddamn music”. He was leaned against a cubicle, probably. Why hadn’t they moved him yet?

He felt nausea and bile rising up in his stomach as he tightened the muscles in his arms. C’mon Pete, you’re almost out… He pulled his wrists apart and the chainlinks of the cuffs tore like tissue paper. His whole body shuddered and he lurched forward, reaching out a hand to steady himself. The pattern of the carpet swirled beneath him.

“He’s up!” Black shapes came to point at him. He looked up. The light hurt. His hands went into the sky. If I can disarm one… A web shot from his wrist and passed through the phantom of an officer, landing on something square and blocky. The music rattled in his eardrums. Oops.

“Hey!” The shapes moved. He heard hammers clicking. Peter sucked in a breath and pulled on his line, swinging whatever the hell he’d snagged around in a wide arc. The blocky computer monitor exploded across a cop’s chest and officers ran for cover, ducking beneath shards of glass and filament. The sound pounded in Peter’s pulse as he wobbled to his feet. He grabbed the fabric of the duffle bag and pulled it close to him. The weight felt right. He made for the exit.

”If you wanna find all the cops / They’re hanging out in the donut shop!” The beat thundered. Bullets whizzed past and he stumbled, gunshots breaking through the cacophony of the music. How many? He reached out with his Spider Sense and it recoiled, fibers of the suit retreating back into the space between his muscles. He shuddered and dropped, a bullet missed his head. Where do I go? Peter crawled for the door. There was no way in hell he’d get out the front, but maybe they weren’t sure about where he came in.

He threw open the double doors leading to the bullpen and limped down the hall, the music bouncing across the linoleum behind him. He could hear the click of shoes chasing him, guns being loaded. Crackle of radio static. Pain flared across his senses as he stumbled forward, supporting himself with the wall. Cries of “Stop!” echoed down the hall. He turned into the stairwell.

He pointed his hand up. He had… Three? He grabbed his wrist with his other hand and braced his arm against his body. A webline launched up through the gap between either side of the stairs and he pulled himself up, hand over hand. With every floor passed, the alarms still blaring the Bangle’s hit slammed against his senses and he rocked on the webline, shuddering. Boots pounded up the stairs after him. A little faster…

The fourth floor. Peter stumbled into the hallway and yanked down the nearest alarm with a glout of webs. It shattered against the ground and the wiring sparked. There were two figures by the far end of the hall, vigil over the window he came in through. One was decked out in riot gear, complete with a clear plastic shield. The other levelled a gun at him.

“Stop right there, son. This ends, now.” The officer pumped the end of his weapon. Shotgun… Right? Peter shook his head. He pointed one hand forward.

“You’d think that… Wouldn’tcha?” Webbing snatched over the head of the shotgun as the officer squeezed the trigger and it blew up in his hands, shot metal and wood particulate stabbing into him.

“Argh! Collins! Take him!” The officer screamed. The Riot cop squared his shoulders and charged. Peter stumbled and slapped against the wall. Webs bounced off the shield and the officer kept coming, low to the ground, ready for drive Peter through the wall. He looked up.

Peter sprang up and his hand caught on the ceiling. The metal skeleton of the drop ceiling collapsed and panels dropped across the floor, lights shaking and swaying as the metal frame crashed around them and over the Riot cop’s armored body. Peter moved as the cop shoved the debris off, staggering to his feet. Peter’s temples throbbed. Little… More…

The cop brought his shield to bear and Peter kicked off the wall, driving his weight into the cop. He stumbled backwards and Peter dropped his shoulder, hitting him again. The plastic of the shield cracked.

“C’mon!” He shouted. He reached for a baton. He raised his shield up to catch another shoulder check. Mistake. Peter’s leg swept beneath the shield and the cop collapsed under the weight of his armor. Peter made for the window.



The glass broke across his body. Free.
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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by ComradeMaxx
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ComradeMaxx Aesthetically Displeasing

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X - M A N S I O N

Two Days Later, Night | Salem Center, New York City

MUTANTS ATTACK SCHOOL, TWO OFFICERS DEAD


Those six words sat like an anchor at the bottom of the television screen. Above them a bunch of Jumped up, make-up caked pundits and talking heads were screaming at one another about what they were calling the 'Bayville Incident.' Over a dozen men and women in suits had appeared to give their expert opinion on the threat that mutants posed to America's youth. There was all sorts of talk about arming teachers, making watchlists and putting armed security in every one-room schoolhouse in the States.

No matter what channel Scott flipped to it was all the same. Lance Alver's photo was plastered across national television and it had stayed there for the past two days straight. They were calling him all sorts of things: the Bayville Menace, a deranged psychopath, a disturbed youth; one particularly bizarre old man had taken to calling him the 'first stone' in an "avalanche of mass killers to come."

All of it pissed him off. But the one thing that really got to him was every time they mentioned the other mutants. Evidently, the media had gotten to one of those kids Lance had attacked because they'd actually started to discuss the X-Men by name. Opinions on them varied, of course. Some people thought the X-Men and Lance had both come to the school with the same goal in mind but had ended up at each other's throats. Others thought the X-Men were vigilantes that had tried but failed, to put a stop to the attack.

Those people were the ones that really got to Scott. They were the only ones giving him and his team the benefit of the doubt, but even they were quick to agree that the 'X-Men' had done more harm than good. "Let the police handle it," they fervently said. "A bunch of kids in masks are just going to get in the way."

As much as it made his blood boil, Summers couldn't help but feel like they were right.

There were other stories interspersed between breaks in the main event, none of them good. Some guy dressed like a Spider had attacked more NYPD officers in the city proper. A supermarket in Atlantic City that had refused service to mutant customers had been burned to the ground by protesters. A millionaire executive at Roxxon named Clayton Burr and his wife had both been abducted from their home and their son was just found dead in his office, his body torn to shreds by metal shrapnel.

They all shared a common thread that Scott couldn't help but notice. Every single story that ran that day- on every single news channel he could find- was about violence conducted by mutants. The talking points differed, the channel logos changed, and even the stories weren't all the same. But the agenda being pushed by everyone with a voice was paper thin. They all marched lockstep in their demonization of people they didn't so much as try to understand.

The remote in his hand crunched, it's plastic shell cracking and the electronics inside crumbling. Scott dropped the remains of the device onto the carpet before he rose from his chair. The voices coming from the TV grew distant as he left the room and started down the hallway toward the garage, stopping at his room to snag a coat and stuff his uniform into a duffel bag before making his exit.

Just as he stepped out of his door, though, he found a hand pressed up against his chest.

Jean Grey was a good six inches shorter than Scott and nearly fifty pounds lighter, but she didn't have any trouble stopping him in his tracks. All it took was a look.

"Oh, uh, Jean-" Scott started, clearly caught off guard. He would've thought everyone else was either asleep or stuck in their usual nightly routines by now. Summers retreated a step back into his bedroom, trying in vain to conceal the bag he had over his shoulder behind the door frame. "Did you need something?"

She let her hand fall away as he stepped back, crossing it over her other arm. She didn't bother answering, a knowing- and disapproving- look on her face.

Scott cleared his throat and turned his eyes away. "I'll be back soon. No need to worry about me."

"Uh huh." Jean sighed, lowering her chin into her chest. "You gonna talk to me or are you gonna keep pretending like nothing's going on?"

"I don't know what you-"

"Dude." Grey cut him off. "You never sneak out. Mister 'up with the sun' should'a been in bed an hour ago."

Summers locked his jaw and turned to look at her. Her hoodie bore on it the image of a skeleton with its mouth duck-tapped closed and two, boney middle fingers held high, and the name of some punk band he'd never heard of right underneath it. That was only what Scott noticed first, though- what he cared about more was the blue material of her uniform that peaked up around her neck.

"No." He shook his head, attempting to squeeze past her. "No, no, no. You're not coming with me."

"Oh, come on!" She snarled, punching the door frame to put her arm directly in his path. "You can't go out there by yourself, especially with everything that's going on."

Scott hesitated for a moment before grabbing Jean's arm and pushing it down, forcing his way out of the room so he could start toward the stairs. "How'd you even know what I was doing?" He asked incredulously, fully aware of the fact that she was just a step behind him.

Grey took him by the arm and spun him around to face her. "How do you think, you idiot?" She poked his forehead repeatedly with enough force that it began to sting. "Your brain's been practically screaming it since dinner."

Summers grabbed her finger and pulled it up over his shoulder, dragging her face closer to his. "How many times do we have to tell you 'no mind reading' until it gets through that thick skull of yours?" He asked in an annoyed whisper.

"You know I can't help it. Dick." She pulled her hand away, though she refused to step back.

"Maybe if you took those meds the Professor gave you-"

"-So I can be a drooling moron? Bobby's already got that covered, thanks." She scoffed.

Scott just threw up his hands. "Whatever. Fine. Let's just get out of here." He conceded. When Jean made up her mind he knew there was nothing he could do to change it, and he wasn't in the mood to argue with her for another forty minutes. The pair made their way down to the mansion's garage, completely unaware of the pair of glowing yellow eyes that had borne witness to the whole ordeal.

H A N ' S P I Z Z A P A R K I N G L O T

Two hours later, Night | Brooklyn, New York City

The classic sound of CCR'S Fortunate Sons rolled out of the convertible's expensive stereo, smooth as silk but as powerful as a typhoon. Jean's black-booted foot tapped against the dashboard in time with the music, her hands currently occupied helping guide a hot slice of pizza into her open maw.

Scott's mood wasn't nearly as good as hers. His expression was twisted in dour concentration as he stared down at his phone, scrolling through endless incident reports and news coverage. Occasionally he'd flip from those over to another page scattered with digital notes, reminders and things to improve or follow up on.

The fight with Lance had been disastrous by most accounts. Bobby had managed to go toe to toe with Alvers, but he'd gotten so cocky that he nearly cost the rest of the team, those students and even himself their lives. And Hank had lost control of his anger again. Scott blamed himself for all of it. The onus was on him to keep everyone in line. He was the leader. He should've pulled them together when it mattered most. If he even had a little bit of real control over his powers, Cyclops knew he could've ended that fight in a second. All it would've taken was one, solid blast to the chest.

As it was, though, Scott couldn't have done that without killing Lance and probably someone else on the other side of the street. He felt frustratingly useless in that encounter. He couldn't control his team, his powers, or-

"Can you, like, stop feeling bad for yourself for two seconds and actually eat?" Jean interrupted, her mouth half-full of pizza. "You're really getting my mood down, dude."

Scott just grunted. "You're the one that wanted to come. And I am eating."

"Uh huh. Sure you are."Grey said, glancing at the slice of pizza Scott had set back in the box after taking exactly two bites. Taking in a breath she focused on it, compelling her psychic energy to surround the unfinished food and lift it into the air. She guided it over toward Scott's face and, in the same movement, reached over and plucked the phone from his hands.

"Hey!-" Summers started, only to find his open mouth stuffed with cheese, pepperoni, sausage and a whole load of tomato sauce. He looked like he wanted to complain, at first, but it didn't take long for him to take the slice himself and start scarfing it down until it was nothing but a few crumbs on his chin. "Alright, there. I ate. Now give me my phone back."

"Noo way, buddy." Grey shook her head. "No work allowed during graveyard-shift pizza time. It's the law. Look it up."

Scott didn't reply, except to lean across the front of the car to try and swipe his phone back. Grey was quicker, however, and managed to swap it into her other hand so she could press it up against her window. "Ahh. Too slow as per usual, Summers."

"Alright, that's it. You asked for it." Summers clicked his seat belt off and lunged across Grey's seat in an attempt to pin her arm down long enough for him to get his phone back, prompting Jean to squeal and squirm to get it as far away from Scott as possible.

The two's struggle only lasted a minute and a half before it was rather rudely interrupted by that same phone pinging in Jean's grip. She only glanced at it, one arm pressing into Scott's face to force him out of her personal space as the other held the phone toward the windshield. Summers took her by the wrist and forced it down, his smile faltering. He recognized that particular tone. "Hold on, that's important."

Jean furrowed her brow, handing it back to Scott. She knew when he was kidding and when he wasn't. "What is it?" She inquired, letting her feet drop off of the dashboard and back down onto the floor, intent on leaning over to get a view of the screen for herself.

"Sentinel app," Scott replied. "It pings me every time the NYPD mention a mutant on their scanners. Looks like...shit, that's not far from here." He quickly fumbled to stick the smartphone onto its mount on the dashboard. "A precint in Queens just got hit. That's twenty minutes from here."

"Ten if you floor it." Jean agreed with a nod.

"Call the team."

"And let them know we were out this late? Alone?" She scoffed. "Bobby and Kurt don't need more ammunition as is. Nah, we can handle it."

Scott just sighed, pulling them out of the parking lot and starting down the road much faster than he should have. "Here's hoping."
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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Roman
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Roman Hyena.

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V. Voicemail



Matthew had run into the night for what had felt like hours before he had secured safe harbor; fear and panic had gripped his heart and blinded him to all else, sending him fleeing into the cold, dark jaws of a city that suddenly felt very alien to Murdock. That damnable call had shaken him to his core; no longer was he the Devil, prowling the streets of Hell's Kitchen with an earned arrogance, striking fear into the hearts of criminals. Now fear had found him instead, and he was so very afraid. Afraid for his friends - Elektra, Foggy, Karen, Katherine - dragged into a war they possessed neither the knowledge of nor the ability to fight. Afraid for his city, now feeling the balance of power tip and give way beneath his feet. And his own basest instinct: he was afraid for himself. His enemy now knew all there was to know of him, and had all angles from which to attack him.

He had eventually sequestered himself in a previously-fortified bunker, a panic shelter for dark times. Dark times had come indeed. There was little here: food and water for emergency rations; extra batons and a replacement mask. Mostly it was just a hidden, secure place to hunker down, a space he now used to give himself time to let the panic wash away in the face of scheming and rational thought. He needed a plan, he needed a path of action. He needed time to process and to formulate. Kingpin knew his true identity; DareDevil seemed of little use, but perhaps more important than ever. With this new, omnipresent danger, could he go back to his civilian life? Would he need to? Would he be able to? He needed to think...he needed to think...he needed to rest.

-

He must have spent at least the rest of the night asleep; when he woke he could feel the ambient heat from outside filtering in, and the sounds and shakes of a city awake and alive rumbled through his bones. Matthew felt stiff - the consequences of spending the night in his armour - and he moved himself to sit against the wall as he undid the clasps on his helmet, setting it down by his side as he held a hand up and pressed it against the wall, letting the vibrations worm their way down his arm, the familiar rattles comforting him. He could not leave, not during the day; he was too conspicuous in his armour, especially with every criminal element in Hell's Kitchen now looking for him - and more than a few cops and federal agents in the Kingpin's pocket. He would barely make it half a block, rooftops or not. No, there was no leaving now - he would have to wait until the city went to sleep, until the heat dissipated and there was naught but dark clouds and moonlight left.

It took many bored, quiet hours, but eventually night fell. The city fell quiet and Matthew felt the cold begin to seep in, and he knew it was time to move. Carefully, quietly, he left the bunker behind him and moved once again to the rooftops he had raced across just the night before, pushing himself back towards the heart of the city and where he knew home lay. There was no time for vigilante heroics tonight, though the plight of the innocent and the schemes of the villainous still played heavily upon Matthew's mind, every inch of good and evil that writhed in combat around him worming its way into his bones. The conflict that had born him and that had sustained him, and that hoped to survive him. It would not be so, he would be sure of it, despite the machinations of his nemesis. Home grew closer and closer with every thudding footstep, and as he grew nearer the fear from the night previous gave way to outrage and anger. Kingpin threatened him on a ground unprecedented, and Matthew would not stand for such a personal affront.

He let himself in to his apartment through the living room window, clambering up the fire escape rapidly to avoid anyone waiting for him at the front door; with Kingpin's new knowledge, there was no such thing as 'too careful'. And he found his paranoia to be well-founded almost immediately. The draft hit Matt first, a through-breeze from the window straight through the front door; the smell of smashed and splintered wood was next, and in the breeze he could hear the slight creak of the hinges that what was left of his door hung on. His apartment had been ransacked, the wreckage spread out along the floor for Matthew to tread on and step over. There was little left. A low tone pierced the still air from the floor a few feet in front of him, and Matthew moved with purpose towards the discarded landline handset that had been thrown to the floor in the intrusion. There were messages waiting. He held the handset to his ear, and wrapped his free fist around his batons, preparing for any returning enemy agents and hoping the calls he had missed were not as grave as the one he had taken just one night before. Matthew almost flinched as the robotic voice blared into his ear.

"MESSAGE FROM: 'F-Foggy, it's Foggy.' PLEASE SAY 'LISTEN' TO HEAR THIS MESSAGE."

From even that short snippet, he could hear fear, shock, disbelief and, most tragically, betrayal in Foggy's shaky voice. He had no doubt this was Kingpin's first strike against him - turn his allies into enemies and isolate him from any kind of support network he'd previously had in place. But the method he would choose to employ...there was no real knowledge as to the depths of Kingpin's moral waters. Matthew paused, savoring the last few moments of his civilian life being untouched by Kingpin's murky, sullen hands.

"Listen."

"Matt where are you? Are you hiding? Are you out of the city? I don't want to believe you'd run, Matt, Jesus, I don't want to believe you did this. Have you even heard? Do you even know? Are you shitfaced somewhere? In response? In anticipation? Donatella was ruled a suicide, Ricci is found dead after shooting himself in an alley, these accusations come out about you...and you've just fucking ghosted all of us!? Where the hell are you Matt you can't treat us like this! If someone's setting you up you need to tell us and we'll help but if it's not a framing, if it's all true...I don't know what to think. I don't know who you are. Would you please just call one of us?! Just to tell us where you are and try to explai-"

Foggy's voice cut off as Matthew hung up, unwilling to hear anymore. Hearing his best friend like that, desperate and angry, all of that confused pain directed explicity at Matthew, hurt him in a true way, a way that seared and branded him beneath the skin, made him believe he was at fault, that this wasn't the dark machinations of his nemesis, now looming over him and numbing his senses, blinding him once again. He felt like he was suffocating, and he had to push himself back towards the window to take a long drink of cool night air. He let the city flood in, all its sounds and smells and vibrations, waves of hot and cold alternating in the air currents. He breathed in deep through his mouth and tasted car exhaust, dirt, vapourised sweat. It was all there, swimming around him, and with his head poking out of his window and his city filling his head with its essence, he felt the fear subside and give way to that old righteous anger. He turned from the window and picked up his phone again, activating the voice commands.

"Search 'Matthew Murdock' in the news." He said, waiting patiently as the device gave a soft beep to acknowledge the command, and then a swishing sound to indicate the search being performed - and then another soft chime once completed.

"I FOUND TWENTY EIGHT RELEVANT RESULTS."

"Filter the most recent."

"MOST RECENT RESULT: WWW DOT NEW YORK DOT C B S LOCAL DOT COM. HEADLINE: NEW YORK ADA IMPLICATED IN DRUG TRAFFICKING RING. SECOND RESULT: WWW DOT N Y TIMES DOT COM. HEADLINE: MATTHEW MURDOCK, NEW YORK ADA, WANTED FOR QUESTIONING IN DRUG AND BRIBERY ACCUSATIONS. THIRD RESULT: WWW DOT FOX FIVE N Y DOT COM. HEADLINE: DISGRACED ADA MURDOCK ON THE RUN FROM POLICE. FOURTH RESU-"

Matthew stopped the read outs. There was enough there to infer from the context - Kingpin had attacked Matthew's position as ADA, his legal channel through which to dismantle Fisk's empire while the Devil assaulted him more literally. With ADA Murdock discredited, his existing work would be in question, and all his incarcerations reversed - and there would be no one left with the bravery and boldness to take on Fisk and the system he owned. Matt had to concede it was a cunning move on Kingpin's part; he only wondered why it had taken Fisk this long to try such a method. If the opportunity was there to remove him, why wait? Perhaps Fisk enjoyed the game, saw it as chess; Matt had only ever been successful at putting away low-level members. Maybe, unwittingly, Matthew himself had been a cog in Fisk's great machine, churning the used-up meat to make way for fresher, fitter blood.

Irrelevant. The time for courts and sentences had passed. Matthew knew his next steps almost instinctively.

He slept in his armour. He would need it.
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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by HenryJonesJr
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HenryJonesJr

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THOR AND STAR-LORD

IN
WAITING FOR THE WORMS




The Milano hung in space above a brown and orange marble of a world. Below the sandstorms raged, changing the surface of the world every minute it spun around its red sun. The ship's readings said there was nothing alive on the surface. How could there be? An asteroid had slammed into it centuries ago. It triggered massive volcanic activity that cooked the planet past the point of habitability. Now all that was left was sang, toxic air, and scorching heat.

Thor hadn't been here in ages, and when he had it was nothing like this. He remember cyan oceans flowing over pure white sands. The air smelled of the baths in Asgard, clean and refreshing. The people of the world had been simple. Nothing more than a few fishing villages dotting the planet-covering archipelago. Still, he remembered the feast they had provided him when he slayed a great beast that had fallen to their planet. They had so little, but they gave him much.

Did they pray to him when the end came? He could not even remember.

"You seriously want to go down there, dude?" Peter sounded skeptical of the whole en-devour. Not that Thor could blame him. The planet meant certain death for the unprepared. Even if Quill was the kind of mortal that could face down any fight, an uninhabitable planet meant a different kind of death. It was a painful, lonely one.

"Aye," Thor slapped the shoulder of the pilot. "I...we need what is on that planet. Tis the first step in the road to our final goal."

"Okay, but that surface is not going to be nice to the Milano," Quill shook his head as he looked over the readouts of the world. "I'll have to drop you off then head back up to orbit. You good with that?"

"If it is necessary," the God of Thunder's eyes narrowed at his traveling partner. His explanation made sense, but the attack on Knowhere had made Thor wary. Something about how quickly the Chitauri had shown up there set Thor on edge. They were hunting him. He was sure of that. Whoever had triggered Ragnarok knew he had survived, which meant there was not much time to waste. "I will travel to the cache alone. Do not worry, I will recover enough treasure for you."

"That is music to my ears, my friend," Quill smiled broadly as he took the Milano into the planet's atmosphere.

**********


"Here!" Peter yelled over the howl of the swirling sandstorm outside. He hurried over to the open hatch Thor was about to climb out of, and handed him a distress beacon form the craft. "Just press the button when you need me to pick you up. I'll be hanging out in orbit, shouldn't take long at all for me to swoop in and pick you up."

Thor nodded and pocketed the device. He checked that he had the swords from Knowhere secured to his hips. Nodding to Peter, he said, "I will contact you once we have our boon. Be ready, friend. Today is the start of a great adventure."

"To a full bank account, I hope!" Quill yelled as the blond man jumped into the swirl sand. "You better not die, you Swayze-looking bastard."

The Milano pitched up to escape the storm and the planets gravity. He felt the gusting winds push the craft from side to side, and it took all his strength to keep the ship from crashing back into the sands of the dead planet. The last thing he needed was getting marooned on this planet. He'd been marooned on desert planets before. Yondu loved doing that as a prank, the jerk. Drinking your own urine got really old, really quick.

As he broke the atmosphere, he set the ship's auto-orbit system and headed back to grab a Tamaranian ale he had picked up on Knowhere. It was his favorite, and he never passed up stocking the Milano's fridge when he came across it. Now it was time to kick back with a few brews and wait for the god guy to bring him back his treasure.

Unfortunately, just as he put his feet up and took the first sip, the craft's proximity alarms began blaring in the cockpit of the Milano. The sound startled him, causing him to dropped the bottle. He watched in horror as it smashed against the metal grating below, causing the amber liquid to splatter in waste.

"Are you freaking kidding me!?" Quill yelled in frustration. He brought up the scanners to find out who had followed them here. The ship he found surprised the hell out of him.

He opened up the comms and called out, "Yondu, what the hell are you doing here?"

"Quill, you're gonna dock with our ship, boy. We got some talkin' to do," the Zatoan smiled his snaggle toothed smile at Peter. "You here me?"

"Yondu, what are you-"

Before Quill finished an explosive blast from the Ravager ship exploded above the Milano, rocking Peter out of his pilot's chair.

"What the hell, Yondu!?" Quill raged at his so-called captain over the view screen. "You lost you goddamn mind!?"

"I said dock now," Yondu sneered. "I wasn't playin' with you, boy."

Peter met his gaze over the view screen. He knew Yondu, and he knew he wasn't bluffing. Not this time.

"Fine. On my way."

**********


The sand buffeted Thor's face as his cape did little to deter the blown grains. Once he had lounged in this very sand amongst the people of this planet, and now it was all there was on the world. For all he knew the very sand that hit him now was also made up of the bones of those people. That was a macabre thought, and he shook it out of his head.

He knew the entrance to the cache was close by. He hoped it wouldn't be too covered in the sand too deeply, but the way the planet had deteriorated he had little hope that would be the case. Still, there was the off chance that his mother or one of the other witches of the Asgardians had enchanted it so it would remain uncovered.

Thor trudged through the deep, loose sand with every step taking all of his impressive might to complete. It was as if he had fallen into a mire unlike anything he had ever experienced before. With each passing stride, more thoughts of the world as it once was had come to his mind.

He remembered the way the mammalian creatures of the deep would explode from the foamy waves and soar on gliding wings like bats, catching the large water-born insects that flew over the surface. He thought he saw the skull of one of them as he walked, its bottle-nosed snout stuck out of the grains of sand as if it was struggling for a breath.

Had they prayed to him? He wondered the entire time he traversed the dunes. If they had he surely hadn't heard them. And if he did, he was not listening. Perhaps he was out in the thick of battle, or on a diplomatic mission for the Allfather that kept his attention away from their pleas. But there was a nagging in the back of his heart that told him neither of those were true. No, something told him that he had heard their cries for help like a gnat buzzing in his ear, and he did nothing but ignore them.

Those thoughts were banished from his mind as he came upon the great door buried into the side of a great dune, like a shell of some giant crustacean. The great runes carved into the door by the spells of old were unmistakably Asgardian. Their old magics had kept the door from being buried by the sea of sand. For that he was thankful. He had no desire to spend more time than necessary on this planetary graveyard.

He approached the great door and ran his fingers over the runes. Almost immediately a faint white glow emerged from them, as if he had awoken an ancient being from its slumber. The rune pulsed, synching up with his own heartbeat, before the door opened with a dull crack. The rumble of the doors shook the sand beneath him, and the cache opened for the first time in hundreds of years. The air that escape was damp and cool, a welcomed respite from the dry, harsh conditions above ground.

Stepping into the entrance chamber, he ignited the photon light he had taken from the Milano. The intense, blue light from the torch illuminated the chamber, showing off the detailed scultptures of his father, his brother, and he. something seemed to scurry in the corner of his eye, but when he turned to face it, he found nothing.

The statue of Odin stood in the center, holding the domed roof up with one hand, the other holding his kingly spear. Even now, his lone eye seemed to look down on Thor with disaproval while he kept the universe in order. To the Allfather's left was Loki. The sneer on the thin face of the God of Mischief was as at home as it always had been, his horned helmet held erect as if he had just pulled one of his trademark pranks on Thor. As annoying as his brother had always been, Thor missed him dearly. He would at least liven up this quest. To Odin's right was Thor himself. Mjolnir held aloft over his winged helmet as if he was about to call down the lightning. Thor's heart twinged at the sight. The hammer still floated in the depths of space, and he had no idea how to get it back.

Sighing before drawing a large breath, Thor made his way into the bowels of the treasure vault, hoping to find what he came for.

**********


Thor's face floated in front of Peter as he felt the Ravager gun pressed to the back of his head. The number next to it was astronomically high. He had never seen a bounty like it. He almost kicked himself for not checking for one on his traveling partner first. With that kind of money he could disappear into some forgotten corner of the galaxy and never have to worry about anything again.

The less than optimal situation was the fact that his face was right below Thor's on the bounty. Not for nearly as much money, which he had to admit hurt a little bit. That was probably a dumb thing to feel, but hell, he wasn't above a little bit of price. Okay, a lot of pride.

"Well I mean obviously if I knew about this I would have brought him to you," Quill lied. "This is like a lifetime's worth of scores for all of us."

"Now you gonna bring him to me," Yondu patted Quill on the cheek.

Peter's mind raced. Sure if he brought Thor to Yondu, it would probably end with Thor dying. But Pete's bounty could be paid off. But that'd also mean he'd come out of all of this without anything to show for it, and that really didn't seem all that fair.

"I'll bring him to you," Quill smiled as a plan began to form. "But not yet. He promises he's got treasure. Let me find that. Then I hand him over to you. That way we get the bounty and the treasure. Win-win."

Yondu laughed, "Boy, that is a great plan. But if you screw me, you're head is goin' to whoever posted that bounty, you hear me?"

"Yea, I hear you."
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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Simple Unicycle
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Simple Unicycle 🅱️ruh

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ISSUE #6
DEFEATED

Alleyway beside the Royal Palace Hotel
New York City, New York

When I came to the rain was beating down on my body, blood and water mixing into a pinkish puddle beneath me. With a groan, I pushed myself up to my feet and looked over my wounds. A few stabs, cuts, and, oh yeah, my sword sticking through my chest. Grunting, I grabbed the handle and pulled it out, a yelp of pain escaping my lips.

I gave a bitter chuckle at the events.

Deacon beat me.

I couldn't fight him in this state.

I was too weak.

I needed to get stronger.

I lifted my sword into its sheath and stumbled forward, beginning to make my way back to my office. Deacon probably thought I was dead, which I guess helped. He probably wouldn't come looking for me. And I'll be right under his nose, getting more powerful, and when least expects it I'll go get him and I will end this.
An Hour Later
Outside a subway station

At this time of night, this part of the city was quiet. My only company was the distant sound of cars passing by a few blocks over. I was walking past the entrance to a subway, when I heard gunshots below. As if on instinct, I began to make my way down, intent on finding out just what the hell was going on down there.

When I got down there I saw a hulking beast fighting against two humans. The beast was a werewolf, towering over them at 8 feet tall and growling ferociously at them. The two humans were heavily armed, but apparently their bullets weren't silver judging by the fact that the beast shrugged them off. One of them was a woman, the other a man who I recognized.

"You having trouble there, Drake?" I yelled, walking forward. The beast was distracted by my sudden entrance, and the hunter and his lady friend looked at me. Drake scowled, while the woman looked rather confused.

"Well, if it isn't my dear old friend," Drake said with a scowl, before returning his attention to the werewolf. He and the girl continued to shoot at it to no avail. On instinct, I reached for the pistols beneath my coat, only to find nothing there. Right, I forgot Deacon had knocked both of them out of my hands when we fought.

Instead, I pulled my claymore from its sheath, knowing that one decisive blow from its silver blade would end this. "Why don't I show you two how a real hunter does his job?" I stated, before rushing at the werewolf and swinging my blade.

The wolf dodged out of the way of the blow, swinging his paw at me. In my weakened state, I couldn't dodge out of the way, and the attack sent me flying into a trash can a few feet away, trash flying all over me. Drake snickered, while his friend remarked dryly: "Yeah, real impressive." Despite myself, I let out a laugh. Now this was my kinda girl.

I pulled a banana peel off my head and jumped to my feet, charging at the beast yet again. He dodged my blow once more, but this time I was ready, and ducked beneath the attack he sent my way. With a yell, I jumped back up, ramming my sword through the beast's chest. I yanked the blade out of his skull as it shifted back into human form.

At my feet was a dying middle aged man, who let out a blood-tinged cough. "What... Happened?"

I knelt down on my knee, sighing. "Sorry, man. You were going nuts. Had to put you down."

A weak laugh escaped his lips. "... Should've known... One day this'd happen..." He let out his last breath, and then he was no more.

I stood up. "And that is how you take down a werewolf. The hell were you thinking, coming here without any silver bullets?"

Drake stepped forward, probably about to let loose an angry remark, when his buddy stopped him by speaking first. "The job we got called here for wasn't him, was just a bunch of goblins screwing around with the circuitry. As we were leaving, he jumped out at us. We should have expected a werewolf would be around during a full moon, but I guess it slipped both of our minds."

I looked her up and down, taking in her blonde hair and the scar running across her pale face. Aside from that scar, she was pretty banging. Her... Assets helped that too. I gave her a cocky grin, letting out a catcall. "Never knew ya had a girlfriend, Drake." The male hunter's cheeks flushed in both embarrassment and anger. "What's your name, babe?"

*BANG!*

My head bounced back as the bullet entered my skull. That crazy bitch just shot me!

As I set my sights back on her with a glare, I saw her smirk. "Rachel Van Helsing. And don't call me babe."

"Whatever. 'Sides, all my interest in a woman is lost once she shoots me in the head."

"If you wouldn't mind, we were just leaving," Drake said. Without another word, he and Rachel began to make their leave.

"And where you two going? Might need to hitch a ride, my place is kinda a few miles away."

Drake turned back to yell at me, but once again Rachel interrupted him by speaking first. "We'll give you a ride. We need to head back to our place first. But no talking."

I made a motion as if zipping my lips shut, before striding forward, grinning at the astounded Drake as I walked past him and back up the steps.

"The hell are you doing?" I heard Drake hiss.

"Quincy said next time we meet him to take him with us if he's willing. The old man wants to talk to him."

"I never agreed to this!"

"That's why he told me and not you. Now come on, he's waiting."

Ah, the wonders of enhanced hearing. Still, I pretended I didn't hear anything they said as they made their way up the stairs to meet me at the top. "You guys weren't gossiping about me, were ya?" I asked with my trademark shit eating grin.

"What did I say?"

"Right, right, no talking..."

With that, we were on our way.
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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Natty
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Natty Supervillain Enthusiast

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Happy Birthday!

The cheer erupted around Illyana as she successfully blew out the candle crudely placed atop her plate of pancakes. As the jolly sound of music played from the old radio on the kitchen shelf, she looked up cheerfully, giving her family a big toothy grin, before launching her arms up to embrace mother as she approached. She hugged back, planting a soft kiss on her forehead. The feeling tickled, and as such Illyana giggled loudly, her mother smiling in bemusement.

“Tuck in, Snowflake.” Mother gestured towards the food.

She obliged happily, initially forgetting her knife and fork until a stern look from Mother reminded her otherwise. These pancakes, Syrniki, was her favorite. Mother only made them for special occasions, which only made Illyana crave them more. Today was a special occasion though. That was why Father was here, instead of being busy working in the fields outside. He stood by the kitchen counter watching silently. He was trying to smile and enjoy himself, however, given the way he kept glancing towards the door and the impatient drumming of his fingers onto the counter, it was clear that he was keen to get out there. Her old brother Piotr, however, was the exact opposite. He seemed to relish on being free from work and coddled his little sister happily. Despite mirroring Father’s stature and standing at 6 ft. 6, Piotr was the kindest and most caring person she knew. He was her entire world. And now she got to be with him the entire day.

Today was her 6th birthday, and nothing could ruin it.

As if she had jinxed herself, as soon as those words crossed her mind, Illyana felt the hairs rise on the back her neck, as a strange chill ran through her body. Around her, her family continued to smile and laugh, however, for a moment Illyana felt disconnected from them. A flash of green from outside the window caught her attention, her gaze snapping towards it. A ragged mask of green and browns gazed back at her, a dark green hood covering his— No. There was no hood or anything of the sort, just a pair of jet-black horns atop a red devilish face. His brow furrowed as his eyes penetrated hers, his mouth forming into a crooked smile of pearly white daggers.

No! I don’t want you!” Fear flowed through Illyana as she called out, throwing her arms out in front of her.

She knocked her plate onto the floor in her frenzy, and as the sound of ceramic breaking met her ears, everything went black.

Now she was in her bedroom, tucked up in her bed, the covers up to her neck so that only her head could be seen. Now she was safe. Safe from the red man.

Piotr sat at the edge of her bed, a small book of fairy tales in his hands. He was extremely tired from his day of working on the farm, however here he stayed, his giant fingers delicately turning the pages of the book as he read aloud. She smiled as she listened to him read. Much like his general demeanor, his voice was much gentler than you'd expect. The characters of the story came allowed as he spoke, putting on various voices for each character. She loved when he did that.

"Magik?"

A voice rang out around them, echoing around the room. Illyana jolted up from where she lay, moving back against the bed frame and bringing her knees up to her chest. Her breathing grew heavy as she watched the door handle turn from across the room.

"Magik, is that you?"

The voice spoke again. This time it seemed different, with it seemingly shifting to a tone more cold and raspy as it went on. Illyana knew exactly who it was even before the shadowy figured crept into the room before them. She screamed loudly as the red-skinned man caught sight of them, who in retaliation seemed to stumble backward in confusion. In doing so, Belasco seemed to catch the sight of his bloody colored hands, and most bizarrely seemed to fall back even further in his confusion. However, that was the least of his problems as Piotr rose from the bed. At once his body began to shift, as sheet upon sheet of gleaming metal began to encapsulate his entire body until all that stood in the center of the room was a colossal man of metal.

"What the fuc--"

Belasco could hardly finish as a silver fist implanted him right in the stomach. He arched forward in pain, clutching his stomach. The crunching sound that came after the punch indicated that a rib was broken, however, he didn't any more time to react before Piotr swung his second fist, this time to the side of the demon's head. As soon as the metal hit, something odd seemed to happen as Belasco was knocked to the floor. His body seemed to shift for a moment while mid-air. For a split second, it changed. Gone was the sinister sight of the being that haunted her dreams, and in its place, a man dressed in a suit of patches and rags. There was something familiar about the tattered man, however before Illyana could place it, his form shifted once more.

Belasco groaned from the floor, a metal foot pinning him down.

"Magik... It's... It's me."

Illyana didn't want to listen to his lies.

"Leave me alone!"

Now she was out in the fields with Piotr. While she ran about and placed in the sun, he moved about behind her, his body once again coated in metal as he heaved a plow over the fresh soil. Now she was safe. Now she was alone from the red man.

"Magik!"

As if on queue his voice rang out across the field. She screamed in agony as she turned towards Belasco, who now was sprinting towards her across the field, his tattered green cloak billowing behind him.

Now she was in the kitchen again. She stood on a stall in front of the counter, helping Mother peel the potatoes for supper. Now she was safe.

Her eyes darted around the room as she worked. He was here somewhere. He was always here. Her peeling grew faster. Slice. Slice. Slice. Until. She squirmed in pain as the peeler struck her finger.

"No, no, no..."

That was all she managed as she took in the sight of the bloody mess of potato peels before her. She moved about frantically, moving her hands over to the running tap of the sink, which began a mini waterfall of red once her fingers passed under it. Mother moved towards her, her hand dabbing at the wound with a clean cloth. However now as she watched, Illyana saw that the hand helping her wasn't Mothers, but was instead part of the very same suit of rags she had seen previously.

She screamed once more as she turned to look up at Belasco who towered above her. His face was the same; now matching the color of the bloody water, however, his body seemed different, now made up of tattered patches of greens and browns.

He didn't react this time to her scream, and simply grabbed hold of her arm as she reared back to run. All she wanted was to be away from here. For things to fade to black once more and for her to be somewhere else. Somewhere safe.

"What do you want from me?!" She demanded through sobs.

He stayed silent. Taking his free hand, he moved it up towards his face, whether he simply grabbed at one of his horns. It seemed to squeeze into his hand as he gripped it, and with it, he pulled. She watched in horror as Belasco's face moved upwards, only to realized what it was. A mask. The man underneath smiled meekly as the mask came off, with him obviously trying to not appear threatening to the girl. He had shallow cheeks, with a 5 o'clock a shadow, all topped off by a mess of red hair, that seemed to have risen up with the mask slightly, causing it to stick out all over the place. The mask however now looked completely different than it had previously. It was no longer that of Belasco's face, but instead matched the rest of his suit.

"My name's Rory Regan." He explained, trying to calm her down. Illyana just looked at him blankly, still on edge.

"This is going to sound absolutely crazy, but we're friends. Well... Kinda. You know me as Ragman. And I'm sorry Magik, but this..." He gestured at the room around them. "This is all a lie."

Before she could protest, he let moved his hand from her wrist where he had been holding her, and lunged at her face, placing his outstretched palm on her forehead. The sound of a million voices filled her head as the rags touched her, all of them crying out in pain. She attempted to cry out herself, however, no sound came. All she could do was watching as the world around them shifted. It didn't fade to black as it had done before. As it had done whenever she had cried out scared. Now it simply crumbled, returning to her head.

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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Morden Man
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Morden Man

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In … The Beast Within: Pt. VII

Kitimat, British Columbia

With each bullet that came hurtling from Colonel Rick Flag’s pistols, Omega Red was knocked backwards. Logan watched in shock as the colonel sent the Russian further and further back. Not a single bullet was wasted, nor missed, and try as Red might to shield himself from them, the soldier found a way to pin him down. He looked over to Logan and for a moment, wind flicking Flag’s red hair around in the wind, some faint memory seemed to awaken in the mutant. Germany? No, that didn’t make sense. It had to be his mind playing tricks on him.

As quickly as the thought had appeared in Logan’s mind, it disappeared, and Flag shouted over to him. “Can you stand, soldier?”

Sabretooth released Logan for a moment to allow him to test his balance. He took a step forwards and began to tumble to the ground, finding himself in Victor’s large hands once again. A contented purr came from Sabretooth as he eyed Logan’s bloodied form. Though he didn’t recognise the man, and despite their having arrived to save him, something in Victor’s eyes told Logan that he was more foe than friend.

“Who … who are you people?”

“Looks like we can skip over the niceties, Flag,” Creed called out. “The runt’s gone all One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest on us again.”

A flicker of annoyance crossed the colonel’s face as he hastily reloaded one of his pistols and started firing once more. “Goddamn it.”

This time Omega Red made no effort to block the hail of bullets Flag sent towards him. He clenched his fists, stood his ground, and took the damage the colonel was inflicting without flinching. At the first sign of a break in the firing, Red reached down and forced his fingers into one of the grey wounds on his chest. With a wince, he plucked the bullet out and examined it closely with a sneer.

“What is this trickery?”

“You like that? Something the boys cooked up back at the lab,” Flag said proudly. “We know everything about you, Arkady, including your nasty little carbonadium habit. Without it, you need to feed off people’s life force or you’ll give in to the radiation poisoning. Well, these babies hasten the radioactive decay in your cells … thinking of it as getting a little taste of your own medicine.”

The Russian tossed the bullet aside. “You are all cowards, resorting to parlour tricks rather than facing me like like true war-”

“How’s this for parlour tricks?”

Having set Logan down, Sabretooth appeared behind Omega Red. One clawed hand tore through the Russian’s left side and the other cleaved the skin from his face. Four long gashes ran along Omega Red’s face, exposing the sickly looking grey flesh beneath it, and leaving him struggling to see. He roared in pain and blindly sent his tentacles flying towards Creed. The hulking mutant managed to grab the left tentacle with his hand, but the right tore directly through his bicep. Yet there were no cries of pain from Sabretooth, he simply yanked his arm down, allowing the tentacle to tear directly through the muscle on his arm, and then pulled Omega Red towards him.

“See, I don’t go down as easy as the runt. Those tentacles of yours? I’ve seen ‘em done before by men twice as big and mean as you. I’ve never had no need for toys or ... enhancements. Everything I need to beat you, I’ve got right here.”

A kneeling Logan watched on in shock as Sabretooth and Omega Red traded blows. Watching Creed was like watching a mirror of himself, except bigger, faster, and more vicious. He seemed impervious to the damage that the Russian was dishing out – or perhaps, worse still, the pain seemed to be driving him. With every wound that appeared on Sabretooth’s hide, he seemed to grow in strength and determination.

“This, this is what I wanted from Weapon X, a real challenge,” Omega Red laughed. “You are strong, but not strong enough. You people are all the same. You fight for yourselves, for greed. I fight for the glory to my homeland, to restore my people to their rightful place.”

Once more Creed was able to pluck one of the Russian’s tentacles out of the air as it hurtled towards him. This time he rolled out of the way of the second and used Red’s own tentacle to knock him off his feet. Sabretooth pounced on him, sinking in a deep chokehold and wrapping his legs tightly around his waist. The Russian clawed at his arms in an effort to break free of Creed’s grasp, but with each attempt Sabretooth only sunk the chokehold in deeper and deeper.

“The last time I checked, Big Red, there wasn’t anything glorious about that freezing hellhole of a country you call home. And you’re wrong about something else too: I’m not fighting for greed … it’s about something much more important than that. I’m here to show the runt what the best really looks like.”

Creed felt the strength beginning to wane from Red’s limbs as his breathing slowed. His hands dropped and a satisfied smile appeared on Sabretooth’s face as he sensed that Omega Red was soon to be unconscious. It began to falter as he eyed the Russian’s tentacles snaking towards him. They wrapped themselves tightly around his neck and began to restrict. From beneath him, Sabretooth felt Red attempting to struggle to his feet.

Try as he might to hold him down, the Russian climbed to his feet. He attempted to shrug Creed from his back but couldn’t summon the strength with the chokehold still locked tight around his neck. His tentacles were not only choking Creed back, but sapping his life force every second they were wrapped around his neck.

Sensing the impending danger, Flag began taking shots at Omega Red whilst trying not to hit his teammate. “Hold him still, Creed.”

“I refuse to be beaten,” the Russian wheezed as he shrugged the struggling Sabretooth back and forwards. “Not by you.”

Bullets tore through Omega Red’s thighs and calves, through his stomach, but he refused to fall. Flag reloaded, having emptied two entire clips into the Russian, and this time took aim at his torso. Both men stubbornly refused to release their chokeholds. Sabretooth’s face had grown near purple and Omega Red was wheezing so much he could barely stand.

“He’s not going down.”

“Doesn’t matter,” Sabretooth groaned. “You keep firing, you hear me? The only way this ugly bastard is leaving here is in a box.”

Red stumbled, falling to one knee, and his hands once again slipped from around Sabretooth’s forearms. Try as Victor might to disguise it, his arms had begun to weaken. So too had his eyes. He heard the sound of Flag’s pistols cracking and spotted a barely conscious Logan still knelt where he had left him. He only had a few more seconds left in him.

Sensing Creed was nearing unconsciousness, Omega Red whispered. “Are you prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice, tovarisch?”

Sabretooth’s eyes were closed. The world had gone black. He felt his arms about to loosen and used the last breath he had to issue one defiant proclamation.

“Whatever it tak-”

A sudden, sharp stabbing pain prized Creed’s eyes opened. He looked down and noticed Logan, still barely able to stand, with his fist pressed against Omega Red. The muscles along his bloody forearm tensed as Logan withdrew his claws and the Russian, who had been moments from outlasting Creed, finally to the floor in a heap. His grey blood oozed out and stained the snow beneath it.

Logan stepped back, stared down at their beaten foe, and smiled vengefully. “Who’s the coward now, bub?”

With that the diminutive mutant dropped to the floor alongside Omega Red. Creed stepped back dizzily with one hand to his stomach to stop the bleeding. Flag wandered over and placed a supportive arm around Creed to help keep him standing.

“Huh, I didn’t see that coming,” Sabretooth smiled as he stared down at Logan. “You always were a tough little son of a bitch.”

“He alive?”

Creed winced as he listened for Logan’s heartbeat. It was faint, irregular even, but it was there. “Just about.”

Logan stirred. His eyes were firmly shut, lips nearly crusted over from the blood covering his face and body, but there was movement there. Some rasp trapped in his throat that refused to come out after all the punishment he’d taken.

“What’s that he’s saying?”

Help him,” Logan pleaded in a voice that was so quiet it was barely audible to Sabretooth’s enhanced sense of hearing. Help Hudson.”

Creed glanced down the hill towards Heather MacNeil as she desperately attempted to save James Hudson’s life. “Oh, nothing important.”


“Let’s get out of here before anyone else decides to gatecrash our little family reunion. We’ve made enough noise on this one as it is."

Creed signalled to Flag that he was able to stand on his own and the colonel strode away to call for extraction. Within minutes, the craft had dropped Sabretooth and Flag there appeared overhead. Creed leant down and used one of his large hands to lift Logan up and throw him over his shoulder. As he did so, he noticed that Omega Red, once laid beside Logan, had disappeared.

“Where’d the hell the Russian go?”

Flag shrugged his shoulders. “The Wall asked for Logan and we got him. As far as I’m concerned, Arkady is someone else’s problem.”
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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Roman
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Roman Hyena.

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VI. Accusations



The room buzzed with myriad sounds, filling Matthew's head with a white noise that crawled and swarmed across every surface that surrounded him, pouring around corners to spill over the thrumming crowd that awaited him in the next room: reporters flipping pages of notebooks and clicking pens as they prepared questions; presenters murmuring to themselves and their colleagues, warming up their throats and beginning their introductions; lawyers and solicitors whispering conspiracies and rumors, expressing disgust, disappointment and disbelief in equal measure; and always, always the bystanders, the civilians, the onlookers, tuning in for another episode of Hell's Kitchen, Kingpin's seedy puppeteering of the city having become a spectator sport.

The press conference and its contents had been Kate's idea, though she had suggested it through white-hot fury and gritted teeth; after 72 hours supposedly 'missing' in the wake of the accusations, Matthew had single-handedly - though unknowingly - allowed the ensuing media circus to obliterate any faith in his innocence the public may have held. Matthew knew this was not entirely Kingpin's doing, as the tabloids and gossip-rags were eager enough to sink their claws into a new victim without needing any malign influence, but by wiping away his personal public image he had also destroyed the people's faith in his position as ADA, and this damage had begun to bleed into Kate's office as DA. People were losing faith in their public defenders. Matt heard a door open and shut and Kate's scent approached him from behind a good two feet in front of her until it surrounded him and she was at his shoulder. She was hot, and her measured breaths and careful voice told Matt that she was still seething. The debacle had caused considerable damage; it was unlikely Kate would emerge unscathed.

"Everyone's ready, Murdock. You've got your script. Time for damage control."

Matt shifted his weight uncomfortably; Kate's words felt venomous, and although her true anger was directed at the man behind the machinations, he couldn't help but feel some frustration deflecting towards him.

"I'll do the best I can. I'm truly sorry that this has all happened, Kate."

"It happened. There's nothing else to say about it."

There was a cold pause, and then Kate lifted her arm and gave Matt a solid, singular pat on the back.

"It was nice working with you."

Matt nodded. Kate left.

-

Despite Matthew's condition, from where he was sitting - center table, flanked by legal counsel and police on both sides - he knew that there wasn't a single eye in the room that wasn't on him. There was a moment of stillness; despite the accusations, Matthew Murdock had always been respected by many for his conviction and competency in the face of adversity. It warmed him that that, perhaps, was not completely lost. And then the buzzing began again, this time furious and immediate. Matthew quickly stood and held up a hand to quell the questions, and then sat once more, pulling a microphone closer to speak as he steeled his nerves.

"As you all know, evidence has come to light that implicates me in a serious drug-trafficking ring, as well as accusations of bribery in court. The media considers me a fugitive for my time spent missing; I assure you, I was not, and am not, an outlaw on the run, and I have invited you here today so that I may address this issue on my terms."

He took a moment to sip water - somewhat to settle his own nerves, and somewhat for the sheer drama of it - and then continued,

"I will tell you now that whatever testimony is levied against me I will fight and I will declare fraudulent. These accusations wound me professionally and personally; I am disgusted by the thought of betraying my office, the people of New York, and most of all my home of Hell's Kitchen. I find these accusations heinous - but they stand regardless, and I must answer to them. I pledge, here and now, that I will fight these charges with every avenue available to me, and I will be cleared. As a show of good faith in New York's robust justice system, the same justice system I myself have striven to uphold since I was still re-learning how to read, I will be voluntary submitting myself to police custody immediately following this conference."

There was a wave of murmurs, which Matthew allowed to ripple and die down, the frantic scratching of pencils and pens and clicking of tape recorders a constant sound underneath as his speech was transcribed, quoted, interpreted. Sometimes, he thought, it came in very handy not being able to read headlines. He powered through. The worst was yet to come. Kate's voice seemed to echo in his head. Rip off the band-aid, Murdock.

"However, the impact of these accusations - fraudulent or not - cannot be ignored; and indeed, the impact has been significant. I cannot defend the people of this city when the people's faith in me wavers; I cannot represent the interests of the city while being forced to defend my innocence as a law-abiding citizen of New York." Matthew paused. Grief welled up inside him for opportunity lost. Anger bubbled alongside it for hope taken. "It is with remorse that, in the face of the circumstances before me...I must tender my resignation as Assistant District Attorney to New York City immediately."

The room burst into furor without delay. Furious scribbling blended with shouted questions and attention-grabbing remarks, nearly every reporter in the room at once trying to become the first to tweet the news while simultaneously updating their website. Matthew did his best to stifle the invasion of sound, standing and making subtle motions to his counsel and the police. He spoke above the fervor in a forceful, final tone. These would be his last public words, his last public image. After this, he would be painted solely through the unforgiving lens of the media.

"I thank you all for coming. I apologize for all that has happened. I wish us all the best of luck. Hopefully...I'll see you on the other side."

And that was that. Matthew held his arms out, fists clenched and wrists together, proffering his hands for restraints from the officer he'd agreed his arrest with before the conference. He felt the cold metal click sharply and tighten uncomfortably on his bones, and then a careful, but firm hand on his elbow to lead him forwards. The clamoring of the journalists left behind in the conference room grew fainter as they covered ground, and soon was only a warped bubble of white noise as they stepped out of the building and he was pushed towards a police cruiser. Matt stood still, his hands holding the top of the door frame as he sharpened his hearing, shutting out everything around him but their words, trying to make out even a snippet of opinion or reaction - and then his head was pushed down and in roughly, and the slamming of the door cut everything off.

-

The station smelt of tobacco, sweat, and gunpowder. The building snaked away down a corridor to Matthew's left and he heard the faint echoes of gunfire and clinking bullet casings bouncing around corners and off walls from some distant in-house gun range. Around him, officers, civilians, and clerks muttered among themselves and to themselves, some stealing quick glances at Murdock as he was escorted through the main lobby of the building and towards the holding cells. News of his press conference and subsequent arrest had spread like wildfire, spilling through the streets in digital waves as the story was tweeted and retweeted. Those that crossed his path moved out of it quickly, heads down and gaze pushed aside. Many of these officers had respected Murdock during his time in office, and he had enjoyed a positive relationship with a majority of those at the Hell's Kitchen precinct; he felt shame and guilt for allowing himself to be torn down in their eyes, but also anger and betrayal that the system was now twisting and perverting to work against him at the behest of it's greatest enemy.

They rounded several corners, the noises becoming more distant and distorted as they moved away from the central hub of activity and towards the holding cells. They were empty, except for a single, ragged-thin man in the far corner, asleep and snoring. His frame shook and shivered with each long, labored breath, and Matthew felt compelled to cover his mouth as a a rancid mix of stenches assaulted him immediately; the bitter, sour smell of booze and heroin swilling with the sickly sweet stench of body odors and open sores. Matthew was guided into a nearby cell and the doors closed behind him. The cops who had escorted him thanked him for his decorum. Matthew did not return the gesture, and instead sat quietly on the edge of the cell's cot as they walked away and left him alone with his thoughts.

He sat for maybe an hour, perhaps an hour and a half - there was no ticking of the clock to keep track with - and then a new officer arrived, her vocation given away by the clinking of her badge on her hip against her belt and the slightly longer half-step on her right leg from where her firearm was uncomfortable on her pelvis. She fished something out of her pocket and offered it through the bars; Matthew stood and pushed his hand towards the heat of hers, and as his fingers met hers he realized she was holding his phone. He turned it over in his hands, holding the button down to turn it on. He looked towards her, and the shuffling of her feet and trousers as she adjusted her footing told him she was uncomfortable, maybe even nervous. Many people found it unusual to be scrutinized by a blind man.

"Chief says you get your phone. Didn't say you had 'one call' so I guess we're skipping that cliche. Guess he figures you know your rights."

Matt chuckled. From her bristling demeanor and icy voice, he could tell this officer was not a fan of her chief, and perhaps not of Murdock either.

"Thank you. Am I wrong to sense a bit of tension?"

"Whole station's tense, guy. No one knows what to think about this whole...mess."

"What do you think?"

She paused. Not necessarily a bad sign.

"I think you've been dropped in. Top brass is being real careful with the evidence they've got on you. Officers are being kept far away - except for a choice couple that were on some favourite lists anyway. And you - you're acting like you've been backed into a corner, but not one you knew was there. My sarge says I've got a nose for stink. And this stinks."

Matthew nodded sagely, politely. She was savvy. Street smart. Probably why she was only a beat cop.

"Well I appreciate your candor. And I appreciate my phone. Do I have a time limit?"

She shrugged, and then shook her head, and then shook her head again before speaking.

"Not that I know of. I gotta take it back when you're done, though. But right now I could really do with a coffee and a smoke."

Matthew listened as the sound of her boots on tile faded into the distance, that right-leg half-step nearly as good as a fingerprint. He sat back down on his cot, phone in hand, thinking of speeches and monologues and persuasion. He ran a hand through his hair, and called Foggy.
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Hidden 2 mos ago 30 days ago Post by webboysurf
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webboysurf

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Fury’s Office, Triskellion, Washington D.C. - Present Day, 14:00
Issue 1.02.5: Lost Boundaries

Interaction(s): None


Cap folded his hands behind his back as he stood at an attentive state in front of Colonel Fury’s desk as his commanding officer finished typing up a report and sighed. His last good eye rose to meet Captain Rogers’ gaze, and each man realized the exhaustion the other was experiencing. Fury broke the brief bit of silence as he leaned back in his chair. ”You have a problem, soldier?”

”When did we start killing our own, Fury?”

”When our own started slicing through innocent bystanders.” Colonel Fury’s expression shifted from exhaustion to frustration.

Cap’s position relaxed slightly as his hands returned to his sides. ”You can’t seriously believe that Sgt. Green was in control of his own actions. Based on the intel Masters and I gathered, it’s clear that our agents are being manipulated by something.”

Fury gave a curt nod, sighing as he stood up and walked around his desk, leaning against the front to get closer to Steve. ”I came to that conclusion the moment we received intel that Sgt. Green was caught on surveillance footage and didn’t check in with us first. The man who served us wasn’t the one who attacked those cops. But you need to understand, Rogers, that I gave you the chance to defuse the situation and make sure everyone walked out alive.”

”I just needed-“

”I needed to make the call, Steve.” Fury folded his arms as he geared up for another lecture. ”The Gauntlet went rogue and started killing civilians. You were temporarily indisposed, as were Romanoff and Carter. As the world’s Shield, we have the responsibility of making the hard choices to make sure people are safe. So I told Masters to take the shot because I know he could live with that decision.”

Steve walked past Fury to look out the office’s picturesque window towards the Potomac. For a moment, the two men were silent. Rogers finally spoke up as he shook his head and turned around. ”I still don’t think it was the right call. We should have tried to save him. He’s one of our own.”

”I’m not asking you to agree with my decisions, Captain Rogers. I’m just asking you to follow orders.” Colonel Fury walked back around his desk to tap away at the keyboard on his desk. ”You need a break, Steve. You’ve been working nonstop the past three years, Captain. And as your Colonel, I’m ordering you to take some leave. The world has changed a lot over the past seventy years: you should try living in it.”

Medical Wing, Triskellion, Washington D.C. - Present Day, 14:34



Tony Masters shifted uncomfortably in the oversized cushions of a couch in a small office in the medical wing. Sitting in the chair next to him was an older man with wire frame glasses resting on the tip of his nose. The doctor was already flipping through the files, before stopping and looking at the SHIELD agent concerned. ”Can you valk me through vat happened ven you entered the safehouse?”

Tony tilted his head slightly. ”I don’t see how that’s relevant. Fury asked me to see you because I had to fire my weapon on the job to keep people safe. I don’t see the use in beating around the bush.”

The psychiatrist gave a small smile as he leaned back in his chair, pulling out a small pad of paper and a pen resting in the breast pocket of his coat. ”Let’s not beat around ze bush. Describe to me in detail vat you remember from the safehouse.”

Tony tapped his foot nervously for a moment before stopping abruptly and answering with a monotone that oozed anger. ”Captain Rogers and I followed protocol before entering the safehouse. We gave the appropriate knocks and received no answer. Upon entering, the place looked like it had been turned over. We were surprised, and I spoke with the ag-.”

”How did zey surprise you?”

The simple question through Tony for a loop. He stared at the ground for a moment, his lips moving as if to speak but no sound came out. He ended up shaking his head and returning his gaze to the psychiatrist. ”I don’t recall.”

The psychiatrist leaned forward a little in his seat, clearly engaged in the conversation. ”And vat do you recall?”

Tony took a deep breath before answering. ”The place was turned over. I went left, Captain Rogers went right. I felt the computer, and it was warm. The next thing I remember, there was an agent unconscious on the ground and I was reaching for his service weapon. Cap...”

”vat vere you going to do vis zhe service veapon?”

Tony looked at the psychiatrist blankly for a moment, before straightening up. ”Remove all live ammunition to mitigate danger if there was another assailant, or in the event one of the assailants broke free. I discovered that the assailants were the local SHIELD operatives.”

The doctor gave a slight nod, seeming to buy Tony’s blatant lie for the moment. He raised a single finger to emphasis his last question. ”Last question… Do you often experience lapses in memory in high stress situations? Between us.” The psychiatrist closed his pad of paper in that moment, as if to say that this was off the record.

”I... I do. It’s more than just lapses. I find I can’t remember my childhood very well anymore either. I always figured I was just forgetful. Always have been.” Tony’s shoulders slumped slightly as a result of this, as if admitting his time as an agent was over.

The doctor gave a small nod and smile. ” Ve vill order some tests, but you should be clear for service. Have a vonderful day, Agent Masters.”
Next Chapter: Kings go Forth
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Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Moskau Spieluhr
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Moskau Spieluhr A Traveler of the Binary Seas

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Absolute Comics: The Vixen, Issue 1: Once Upon A Dakota Night


Location: Liberty Street, Dakota City
Time: 21.00

"I'm talking to a spider."

"Not just any spider kiddo," The spider sitting on her shoulder replied in a low whisper, his voice heavy with barely contained laughter. She'd missed the joke.

"Clearly," Mari irreverently mused as she pondered what form of fatal psychosis she was currently suffering from. Holding her hands in front of her, she stared with wonder at the claws that had replaced her finger nails. She was no psychiatrist, but she was fairly certain you had to be all kinds of crazy to think that you had razor-sharp, feline claws. Talking spiders were a whole other ballgame, but one she didn't want to think about at the moment. The spider, Mr. Nancy, as he called himself, had promised her that she could definitely, probably, cut through steel with her claws. Provided she hit hard enough. As long as she believed. The souped up reflexes that made her feel like she'd just ingested an ungodly amount of Speed were supposed to help. At least in theory. Mari hated the pompous spider already. At least some of the time. She had to admit the cat eyes were pretty cool, she'd always wanted to be able to see in the dark.

"Check yourself, before you wreck yourself, Mari," Nancy teased. "I'm the one that is going to help you make something of yourself. Oh, the chance that I have given you! The power, the unlimited power! You owe me. Be grateful!"

"I don't owe you shit, bug eyes. You're the one that got me into this mess. You're the one who's going to get me killed." Mari hissed back, fidgeting with the metallic lighter that she kept tucked in the back pocket of her jeans. She'd quit smoking, usually, mostly, maybe. But the lighter mattered, it meant something. It reminded her of Sarah. It kept her focused. It kept her mad. It kept her claws sharp and her teeth ready.

Hiding in the dark, she had flattened herself against the wall of the alley. She'd fought off the urge to throw up several times already and she was worried that the skateboard she had carefully hidden behind a mountain of garbage cans might have become a bio-hazard. The smell of several weeks worth of rotting garbage burned her eyes and a puddle of ominous fluid threatened her shoes. Someone had forgotten to bribe the local trash racket. It was a personal tragedy for Mari, given her temporarily enhanced sense of smell. Mr. Nancy had called it a minor problem, a side effect of her inability to fully control her abilities. He'd told her that he expected her to do better next time. He'd alluded to bear claws, shark teeth, and wings. Mari had no idea what he meant. But it felt impossible to refuse him or to shut him out. The spider had a way with words and there was a strange power in the stories that he told her. She could almost feel the webs that he wove in the shadows and the silk strings that pulled at her limbs.

"I can't have my chosen servant wasting her powers. You've got to prove yourself worthy of my gifts. You have to earn my advice."

"You want me to prove myself? To a spider? Couldn't you just have asked me to catch a fly? That seems like something a spider would want to see."

"I'm not a spider. I shouldn't have to keep telling you that. Besides, I have bigger, juicier prey in mind for you, my young friend."

"Did you forget the part where drug dealers have guns, lots of guns?"

"You want help? Then let me tell you a story-"

Mari groaned, wishing for a swift death. It had only been a month, but she was already tired of the chatty spider and what he saw as valuable advice.

"Once upon a time in Gotham, a man, a man far more mundane than you, dressed up like a bat, a giant bat, and fought crime one punch at a time as a nocturnal detective. Now how is that for a story?"

"Yeah, sure, whatever you say Nancy," Mari replied with an unapologetic roll of her eyes. She was glad the ski mask she had brought still permitted her some level of expression. "Next you're going to tell me that's there's a long-lost civilization in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean."

"Well, now that you mention it..."

"Nancy, just tell me what you want."

"I want you to do the right thing."

"You want me to punch a drug dealer in his stupid face?"

"I want you to punch several drug dealers in their stupid faces."

"Hey Nancy," Mari said flicking the metallic lighter shut in a swift motion.

"Yeah?"

"Fuck you."

"That's the spirit, Mari. Channel that rage. Now go! There's your chance! Your only chance!" Nancy shouted as the street lights flickered, then suddenly died along with power to the rest of the city block.




Stalking through the pitch black apartment, Mari did her best not to think of the fresh blood that coated her claws. She fought to control her ragged breathing, desperately sucking in gasps of air like a fish plucked out of the water. Barrels of industrial grade chemicals surround her and a faint smell of ammonia seeped through the battered blue plastic. Nancy had said it would be easy. He'd called it a test run. She tried not to think about the kid she'd left tied up in the alley. She tried not to think of how easily she'd cut him with her claws. She tried not to think of how easily he'd bled. She tried not to think.

"Nancy, can you hear me?" Mari whispered. Her hands ran idly over the Molotov Cocktail she'd liberated from the kid. She wasn't an arsonist, but a little bit of property damage for the great good never hurt anybody. She'd saved the smokes for later. They were tucked safely in her jacket. She would need them. After it was all over. She'd make an exception. Just once, just for the night. A reward was in order.

She felt the hairs on her neck rising. She felt afraid. Something was wrong. She saw the wires then. The red light blinking impassively at her. Drug dealers didn't have silent alarms. They didn't have infrared cameras.

"Of course I can hear you."

"I fucking told you this was a bad idea." Mari gestured angrily at the window she'd so carefully pried open. "And that, that was a fucking alarm."

"Yes, you should have been more careful.

"I- I should have been more careful? Listen to me...wait," Mari said as her eyes widened with panic. "This isn't meth."

"No, it's not."

Mari did not need to turn to look at the spider to know that he was smiling, "Then what is?"

"I'm not sure, not yet. It's something new. It's something clever. Something very clever. It's something very interesting. It's tied to this "Big Bang" the locals keep on yammering about."

Thundering steps, that seemed to shake the foundation of the building itself interrupted Mari's anger,"What the fuck was that?"

"That's the cavalry."

"Calvary?"

"Their cavalry. I told you not to waste time. You don't have very much of it."

"You motherfu-"

"Duck."

Mari hugged the ground and watched as a rusted boiler sailed past where her head had been.

"What the fuck did you do?"

"I told you, baby, I'm shipping you straight up to the big leagues. No more amateur hour."

Mari could hear the spider laughing as threw herself to the side. Too slowly. Much too slowly. The concrete hand that cracked the side of her chest was a surprise for both of them, and for once, the spider was silent. Mari was not thinking when she dug a clawed hand into the floor. The socket of her shoulder screamed with pain and she tumbled, but it kept her in the game and it kept her alive. Regaining her balance, Mari caught herself in a low crouch. Rolling to the side, she caught a glancing blow to her jaw, sending her hurtling to the ground again.

"Get up. Run. Now!" the trickster commanded as a panel of drywall next to her exploded into a fine cloud of gypsum and rotting wood.

Spitting out blood and flecks of faded paint in equal measure, Mari let out a low, pained groan. A figure walked towards her in the darkness. Unaffected by the shadows, it crashed forward, shaking the crumbling floor with each step. Uncaring and unmoved, it stopped in front of her. An inhuman creature of cement and blackened asphalt, it towered over her with a fist raised menacingly over its head. Pausing, it flashed a smile of fractured stone in Mari's direction. She couldn't tell what it was saying. She didn't care, not really. Whatever it was saying, it sounded foreign, it sounded strange. She could tell it was gloating. It was laughing at her. It was taunting her. It was mocking her.

She felt angry. She felt her lips moving back to bare freshly sharpened teeth. It wasn't ready. It didn't think that the cornered animal still had fight left in it. She returned the favor, launching herself to her feet, raking the claws of her right hand across its face. She darted out of the way of the blind, furious strikes that followed, slipping beneath the thick arms of stone that chased her. Dancing out of range, Mari risked a glance at her claws and frowned. There wasn't any blood, just a sticky, black tar that burned her claws with irritation.

Dodging a blow that would have caved her head in, Mari struck again, sending sparks into the darkness as she buried her claws into the chest of the monster. Flailing the creature sent her tumbling into a row of plastic barrels with a distracted punch.

Rocking to her feed, Mari grinned. She could hear the mass of concrete roaring in pain. She could sense the growing weakness of her prey. She could feel the adrenaline coursing through her veins. She felt alive. She felt so alive. She could taste blood. And it felt good, so good.

"Angry is good, angry gets shit done," Nancy said. "But you don't have time to play with your food. Not anymore. Finish this."

Mari heard a door slam open and boots, heavy boots racing up the stairs. At least a dozen pairs. Too many. Far too many. She could smell the cordite. She could hear the shouted orders.

"Let the motherfucker burn," Nancy cackled, pointing a hairy limb the direction at the cloth wicked bottle full of gasoline.

Cutting into a barrel, Mari tossed it at the creature, dowsing the monster in chemicals as it smashed the weakened plastic. It roared in frustration, trying to wipe off the volatile chemicals that had begun to fizzle against its skin, filling the room with putrid smoke. Coughing, Mari rolled to the side and stayed low to the ground, shifting forward on all fours.

"Let...the...motherfucker...burn," Mari echoed as the lighter appeared in her hand. Opening it with a flick of her wrist, she held it against the soaked rag of petrol, and spun the wheel, summoning a flame of fire. Watching the rag ignite, Mari smiled, and then tossed the improvised incendiary device towards the creature.

The bottle shattered in an explosion of glass and fire. Flames enveloped the monstrous figure as it howled in rage and threw itself violently across the small room, crashing into a wall as it tried to extinguish the flames that climbed over it. Thrashing its limbs with growing desperation, the creature lurched madly, painfully forward, trying to catch the young vigilante in its burning arms.

Mari could hear it roar as she threw herself out the window and rolled onto the fire escape. She panicked and stumbled on twisted metal. Losing her footing, Mari crashed against the rusted railing. Crying out in pain, Mari slumped forward, clutching her battered side with a loud sob. Thick tendrils of black smoke poured out of the room and Mari dragged herself forward, struggling to breath as she descended. She could feel the overpowering heat chasing after her. She knew there was no time. The blaze was growing by the second, and she wasn't sure how long before it reached the barrels of chemicals.

Mari hit the ground hard and managed a graceful fall against the wall of the building. Heaving, she retched, feeling the smoke tearing at her lungs with each breath. Grabbing the skateboard from where she had left it, Mari began to limp away.

"Mission accomplished," Nancy cheerfully exclaimed, once more perched on her shoulder. "But next time, try not to get so banged up."

Mari turned to glare at him, wordlessly pulling the ski mask off her face and tossing it into the fire. Leaving the burning brownstone behind them, the pair faded quietly into the night.

---

"What happened here, Miss Johnson?"

"Fell," Mari replied motionlessly, gesturing at the battered skateboard propped in a chair next to her. "Fucked up. Lost my balance. Ate some asphalt. Cried. You know, a standard day in the life of a professional adventurer."

"Right, and the smoke inhalation?"

"So I had a smoke, fucking sue me, Doc. It's a free country."

"Um, that's not what I meant, it seems like-"

"Yeah, well just drop it. I'm paying you by the minute and no one is riding your ass about that Egg McMuffin you had for breakfast, now are they?"

"Uh, right, sure," the young doctor said with a desperate smile. He ran a hand nervously through his hair and shifted his attention to the x-ray image next to him, "Well, either way, you got very lucky, Miss Johnson. You only managed to bruise a couple of ribs. Hurts like the Dickens, but there's really not much to be done about it. However, I'd advise you to take it easy for a couple of days. No late night skating sessions or BBQs," he added with a grating chuckle that left Mari shaking her head.
Doc," Mari began, sliding off of the examination table and slipping her t-shirt back on.

"Yes?"

"Painkillers, just give me some fucking painkillers, and send me on my merry-fucking way."

---

"This is Christina Martinez with Dakota 7 Eyewitness News reporting live at 757 Liberty Street, where last night, a historic brownstone burned down in a freak fire that is believed to have started as a result of faulty electrical wiring undertaken as part of recently begun renovations intended to restore the so-called Blackthorn residence to its former glory... Deputy Fire Commissioner Thomas Campbell has said that a full investigation will be conducted...No fatalities occurred as a result of the fire, but several injuries were reported..."
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Hidden 2 mos ago 30 days ago Post by webboysurf
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webboysurf

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ACCESS RESTRICTED - Present Day, 8:32 Hrs
Issue 1.02.6: Kings go Forth

Interaction(s): None


”This is all part of the plan.” The masked figure stood at attention, his hands at his side as his superior paced in front of him. The office was rather luxurious, but looked as if it came from another era. Nazy memorabilia lined the walls, desk, and drawers. Sitting on the desk, facing outward, was a picture of five men standing next to each other. Zemo knew them all: his grandfather, Helmut Zemo was on the far left, wearing a similar mask that had been incidentally burned into his face after an encounter with Captain America. Joining him in the picture were the Red Skull, Baron Wolfgang von Strucker, Dr. Arnim Zola, and Adolf Hitler himself. It was a time when it seemed that the Germans could have never lost the war.

The pacing man was the Red Skull himself, wearing a simple black and gray uniform that seemed to compliment his bright red skin. His face was twisted in rage. ”What plan is that, Helmut? We lost twenty soldiers in that conflict, and our numbers are not strong enough to take heavy blows.” Zemo saw the gears turning in his general’s mind as he was himself planning out his next moves.

Helmut Zemo broke his attentive stance, making his way to a world map on the wall. He fetched a marker sitting next to the map, and circled the entirety of the world with the red marker. ”SHIELD has facilities and operatives in every country on the planet. It took my father years to make sure this base stayed hidden, that the bunker you hid in was wiped off the map. He did his best with those still loyal to us instigating wars and conflicts to keep SHIELD busy and make them think they had finally killed us. The strategy that has kept HYDRA alive has always been to distract them.”

Zemo began marking spots on the map. He marked Venezuela, Chile, Argentina, Vietnam, Korea. He then placed a small circle around Rome, Italy. ”We need to give them something to focus on, and making sure that these attacks demoralize and hurt them. We are forcing SHIELD to kill their own agents and operatives, and destroy their own weapons. More importantly, we are giving them clues at the right time to let them think that they are unravelling a mystery, when in reality they are unravelling a trap.”

The Red Skull leaned against the front of his desk, raising a hand to stop Zemo’s lecture. ”That sort of defensive strategy cannot last forever. How are we going to take the fight to them.”

Zemo gave a curt nod, the wrinkles of his mask seeming to somehow form a smile. ”The Tinkerer has made remarkable breakthroughs using one of Arnim Zola’s projects. If we can keep SHIELD at bay for a little longer, Project Rewrite should allow us to fix the mistakes of our past.”

The Red Skull nodded slightly as the gears in his head finally clicked into place. He smiled. ”Very well, Baron Zemo. You would have made Heinrich proud.”
Next Chapter: Home of the Brave
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Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Hound55
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Hound55 A Create-A-Hero RPG GM, Blue Bringer of BWAHAHA!

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T H E A B O D E O F T E D K O R D

Present Day | Boston, Massachusetts

Shower, set to default.

“Default setting selected. Shower to… one… hundred and… six… degrees Fahrenheit. Enjoy.”

Ted Kord leant against the wall and let the hot water pelt down on the back of his head, wash down his neck and back and spiral the drain. He noted, with some surprise, that there was no real pain. Some tightness from using muscles he hadn’t used since he took high school gymnastics, but no real harsh pain. There was also no blood circling the drains, or guilt.

He felt fine.

Nothing like the movies. In the movies there’d be blood circling the drain, his mind would be swimming with guilt and the hero would be some sullen, brooding badass.

Ted felt none of these things. In fact, the adrenaline left him feeling pretty full of pep. Like he could go do karaoke or free-run across the whole city.

It was remarkable just how easily he’d taken down the group the media was dubbing ‘The Squid Gang’. The ten men were well armed, but were all wearing night vision goggles. He used their equipment against them and burst in, fired off a burst of bright light from his B.B. gun and then proceeded to beat all hell out of ten blinded men staggering around in the dark, subduing them before letting police know the floor was cleared, where he exited the same way he came in – the skywire of the Bug, which he kept well above cloud cover.

He almost felt guilty about how easy it had been.

As for his equipment, everything went off without a hitch. No issues with the B.B. gun or the Bug. His uniform hadn’t really been stress tested either. Which, whilst good for Ted’s confidence, didn’t really give him much in the way of information he could use to get better if he was going to be doing this a lot.

Ted cupped his genitalia before prompting the shower once more.

Shower, air dry.

“Air drying mode, active.”

The exhaust fan switched direction and jets of warm air blew… everything. Ted winced as a jet near his face blew hot air a little too hard for his liking.

Shower, jet 7, decrease power 50 percent.

“Manual override, decreasing power to jet 7.”

Ted opened his eyes and checked that everything was ok.

That’s better. Shower, set current preferences as air dry mode default setting.

“Setting new air dry default mode.”

Ted turned and cautiously removed his hands, letting the air dry off the previously protected parts and sighed in relief that it seemed to be working.

Ok, that seems about enough. Shower, set default air dry run time to 30 seconds. Ted said. Anything more than that and they’re probably just looking for a good time…

“Air dry, default settings changed. Creating new preference profile: ‘Just looking for a good time’.”

Whoa! No-no-no-no-no-no… Don’t want to do-- wait… do I? Ted thought for a beat. No. Lucrative as that side of robotics may well be… let’s leave that to more… driven men. Shower, delete preference profile ‘looking for a good time’.

“Preference profile: ‘Looking for a good time’. Not found. Do you wish to create?”

No, come on now! You just made the damn thing... Shower, delete preference profile ‘good time’. Ted raised his voice in a somewhat exasperated manner.

“Preference profile: ‘Good time’. Not found. Do you wish to create?”

Ted got increasingly frustrated.

Come on, dammit, Shower! You just made the thing! Search databank for all preference profiles with ‘Good time’ in their name!

“You seem to be distressed with my current state of operation, do you wish to have this request expedited through K.O.R.D’s IT department?”

Sweet Jesus No! God! Do not--! Do not do that! Shower, cancel previous request! Escape! Exit to menu! Do not… Do not involve Murray Takamoto!

Ted had been ironing out the kinks for K.O.R.D’s proposed new voice-recognition Smart Home support system ‘Butler X-cel’. He’d programmed about 500 words with his own voice into the system and for the most part was fine tuning some of the more specific functions, before returning the tested system with his own preferences for the next stage, objective field/customer testing.

After discussing the potential product with Melody Case and Murray Takamoto, it seemed the biggest concern with the Butler X was that the average customer would not show the same interest and focus on programming their own preferences into the system.

Ted couldn’t understand why. He generally enjoyed the process of customizing the primitive AI unit with his own preferences. People furnished their homes the way they like them, surely it would be a point of pride for people to have things their way with only a few words. He was then informed by Randall Truman that whilst everyone is indeed different and likes different things in different ways, a lot of the time people just want to be told what to like whilst being given something close enough. It seemed absurd to Ted at the time.

That said, Ted was not having fun right now.

He stepped out of the shower and threw some clothes on. He walked through his kitchen and, checking the time, he remembered his earlier discussion with his father. He decided it was still early enough to do what needed to be done.

Phone, call Abner Jenkins.

The tv turned on and a green phone icon appeared at the bottom of the screen, with Abner Jenkins name and phone number flashing across the screen. A panel also appeared showing off Ted’s lounge room and kitchen, with Kord leaning against the kitchen counter in the background.

Ah, should have specified. Phone, disable video chat. Call only.

The video panel of his own house disappeared from the top corner, and the call continued. The home sound system filling with the dial tone from the call.

“Hello,” the cadence of the greeting indicating that the call had just dropped to Jenkins’ voicemail. Causing Ted’s mind to immediately kick in to overdrive, running through what he was going to say. “You’ve reached the telephone of K.O.R.D Chief Financial Officer Abner Jenkins. I am presently unable to take your call. Please leave a message after the tone.”

BEEP.

Hi Abe, it’s Ted. Just thinking about today’s meeting and wasn’t really happy with where we left off. You were just looking out for what you saw as the company’s best interests and I kind of went a little harder than necessary at the end there. Aaaanyway, I do think there’s directions we could take the B.E.E.T.L.E, and when you first mentioned it at the meeting, I honestly figured you were talking about outfitting the suit for work out on oil rigs and in harsh situations rather than defense. I just think we can do better than seeing the thing you worked so hard on, become nothing more than responsible for a monumental death toll. The suit’s a great design, Abner. It’s 9:15 now… which you probably know, since it’ll tell you that when you open the voicemail, but I’m still up and about if you’re up to call me back. If not, I guess ‘Good night, buddy’? And I’ll see you in the morning..? Yeah. Talk to you… whenever.

Ted hit the ‘End call’ button on the the AI’s central console on the wall. He thought back over how the call went and winced to himself. He hated leaving voicemail messages. With no back and forth he couldn’t get any bead on conversation. It was like making a speech for one. Except worse, because even in a speech you can read the other person’s facial responses to what you’re saying.

He opened the fridge and considered his options, before pulling out a soder and chinese takeout leftovers which he stuffend in the microwave.

Television, on, and bring up my TiVo queue…

******


The older man’s hand tapped on his phone and played through the voicemail message again.

Abner Jenkins listened back again with a furrowed brow.

--to you… whenever. The tone hung on the call, denoting the end of the message. Jenkins held his phone to his chin in deep thought for a few seconds. Pondering the meaning of the message and the correct course.

He brought up the keypad, dialled in a phone number and touched the green call button. He scratched his brow whilst the phone rang on the other end. When the phone was picked up there were no greetings and no pleasantries. Just a single word.

“Well..?”

“I’m in.” Abner Jenkins said. “You’ve got what you want. I’m scheduled there for a site audit in a few weeks though, so you’re going to have to have it off-site by then as agreed upon. I need to maintain deniability if I’m going to be able to help you at all with this. You can still come through on this?”

“It will be handled.”

“Good. Then there’ll be a chance we both leave this happy.”

There was no response. Only the tone indicating the call was over.
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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Morden Man
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In … The Beast Within: Pt. VIII

Belle Reve, Louisiana

Logan woke with a wince. His sides felt like they had been torn open. It took him a few seconds to realise that they had been. In an instance, memories from Kitimat came flooding back – James, Heather, that big Russian with the grey skin. He remembered everything. For the first time in weeks, he felt like he had his feet under him, like he wasn’t playing catch-up. In an instant, that was dashed. The bright lights and cold white walls, the restraints clamped around his arms and legs, and most of all, the fat black woman in the in pantsuit staring at him from across the room made him doubt what he thought he knew about what had happened.

“Welcome back to the world of the living, Weapon X.”

The woman’s voice was familiar but no warm, and it put Logan firmly on edge. “Where … where the hell am I?”

A wry smile appeared on the woman’s face. It was clear from her expression that she had no intention whatsoever of answering Logan’s questions. Small and squat as she was, there was a power to the way she carried herself even whilst she was at rest. There was no kindness, no cruelty even, just control – something about that struck fear even in Logan’s heart and though he seemed to know next to nothing about himself or his past, for some reason that struck him as significant.

“So you’ve finally regained the the ability to speak in full sentences or should I say gained? Even before your most recent ... mental break, you were never exactly a conversationalist.”

Every second Logan was in the woman’s presence, the sense that he knew her from somewhere grew and grew within him. “Who are you?”

“My name is Amanda Waller and who I am, Weapon X, is the only friend you have left in this entire world. After your little disappearing act, there were people more senior than I that wanted your head on a spike … I had to spend an awful lot of political capital to make sure that didn’t happen.”

“You sure do like the sound of your own voice, don’t ya?”

Again that wry smile crept onto Waller’s lips as if to remind Logan who was really in control. “That’s an interesting way of saying thank you.”

Suddenly a wave of memories came flooding back to the mutant. The oppressive sterility of the interrogation room, combined with Waller’s unsettling calm, had allowed his mind to stray for a moment, but now it was back where it needed to be. He heard Heather MacNeil’s screams ringing in his ears, the smell of James’ blood splattering across the snow, and remembered the sense of dread that had overtaken him as he’d watched the man that had shown him kindness fall to the ground in a heap.

“What happened to Hudson?”

Waller trotted out a platitude that only someone accustomed to ordering men to their deaths could manage. "Mr. Hudson didn’t make it.”

A guttural snarl escaped from Logan’s chest. His arms and legs thrashed against their restraints to no avail. They seemed to have been made of the same metal covering his claws because his attempts to pop them proved to useless. Anguished as Logan was, his violent lurches succeeded in achieving nothing other than tiring himself out. Waller watched the scene without flinching even an inch.

“He was a good man,” Logan howled. “That no good son of a bitch watched him bleed out … and for what? He coulda saved him.”

“That ‘no good son of a bitch’ did what was asked of him, Weapon X, and he is a great deal more reliable in that respect than you have ever been. Whilst I regret the loss of life at Can-Am Corporation’s Kitimat division, it’s worth remembering that Sabretooth is not responsible for it. You are.”

“How’d you figure that one? I seem to remember a grey-skinned Ruskie crashing the party. You’re telling me he wasn’t one of yours?”


“I’m afraid not,” Waller said with what seemed like genuine envy. “The most recent intelligence suggests that Omega Red is working for a cabal of former KGB officers that think the current government is being too soft on global affairs, if you can believe that. Once word was out that the famous Weapon X was in the wind, they made a play for you – and James Hudson, Jerome Jaxon, and the rest of those people at Can-Am died because of it. Maybe you’d better think about that next time you decide to go walkabout.”

Logan’s head, slumped forward in what looked like shame, began to bob up and down gently as he listened to Waller speak. A laugh that sounded like a rattling cough began to seep out of him. It grew in volume as the mutant gazed up at Waller opposite him. His eyes fixed on her like a predator eyeing its wounded prey.

“Walkabout? Heh, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Wait until I’ve got these restraints off, I’m going to paint the walls with your blood – and then I’m going after that mangy Sabretooth.”

“Colonel Flag,” Waller said as she met Logan’s gaze. “Send Mr. Creed in here please.”

There was a mechanical whirring from the restraints around Logan’s legs. First the left leg was released, then the right. He glanced down at the unlocked restraints with shock and then back up to Waller who was sat unmoved at the desk still. She had flicked open the folder on the table and began to make notes on the documents inside. If she was worried about Logan’s newfound freedom, she didn’t seem it.

“What are you doing?”

“What does it look like? I’m giving you what you want.”

Logan’s left hand fell free and he instinctively popped his claws. The familiar stinging pain married with a shock of blood and the ripping of skin. He tugged at his last trapped hand in anticipation. Waller was only yards away from him – and though she’d yet to raise a hand in anger towards him, it was clear she was calling the shots around here.

As his right hand was set loose, the door to the laboratory opened and through it stepped Sabretooth. There was a broad smile on his face, almost as if he was looking forward to what was going to happen next. Logan roared and bound across the room towards him, claws at the ready, and felt Creed’s huge hands wrap around his wrists and immobilise him with ease.

“You know, Logan, after all these years I’d have thought you’d be sick of me handing your ass to you on a silver platter by now.”

Hudson’s face flashed across Logan’s mind and helped him call upon strength he didn’t realise he had. “You’re gonna pay for Hudson, bub.”

With a well-placed, Logan sent Creed buckling and broke free from his grasp. From his knees, Victor looked up at him with an expectant smile. Logan snarled and sent his claws driving down towards his throat but at the last moment found himself unable to make contact. It was as if he could feel something in his brain, refusing him the closure that killing Sabretooth might bring him. The harder he strained against the control, the harder it was for him to move. Sensing Waller’s influence, he looked towards the still-seated woman.

“What’s happening to me? I can’t move,” Logan protested as he struggled in vain to deliver the coup de grace. “What have you done to me, you cold-hearted bitch?”

Sabretooth chuckled smugly and sent his claws piercing through Logan’s bicep. The shorter man let out a cry of pain. Creed rose to his feet, lifting Logan with him, driving his claws deeper and deeper as they rose. Once the claws reached the bone, Victor tore the muscle away with a swipe. His hands wrapped tightly around Logan’s neck and smashed him against the ceiling before throwing him down onto the ground.

“How many times are we going to have to do this little song and dance?” Creed laughed as he mounted him. “You can’t beat me, Logan. You could never beat me. Even before Waller’s implants, I had your number and I always will do. No matter where you run, no matter where you hide ... I will find you and make you suffer all over again. The sooner you get that through your thick skull, the better.”

Punch after punch rattled Logan’s brain around its skull. His face was awash with blood. Through it all he could see Creed’s wicked smile. Logan struggled in vain against the punches, managing to block one or two of them, and what futile attempts he made to strike back were once again restrained by Waller’s implants.

“That’s enough, Mr. Creed.”

Without a word of protest, Sabretooth brought his assault to an end. He looked down at Logan’s battered face with a proud smile before standing up and stepping back to allow Waller to lean down and speak to his victim.

“Do you understand now, Weapon X? You’re mine,” Waller said coolly. “Those claws of yours belong to me. You do what I tell you to do, go where I tell you to go, and kill who I tell you to kill. From now until that healing factor of yours finally decides to call it quits.”

Waller gestured towards the doors and they opened on command. Logan was a bloody, broken heap, moaning to himself in pain, but he managed to roll over just enough to see Sabretooth following behind her like a housebroken pet.

Creed looked over his shoulder at Logan and spoke five words that Logan felt like he had heard before. “Welcome to the Suicide Squad.”
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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by HenryJonesJr
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THOR AND STAR-LORD

IN
WAITING FOR THE WORMS




Each footfall echoed off the cold, dead walls of the Asgardian vault as Thor walked its corridors with trepidation. This world was dead, he knew that. There was nothing alive here other than himself.

But if that was the case, why did it feel like he was being watched?

It was probably nothing more than his own conscience peering over his shoulder. Ever since he had laid eyes on this place he could not stop thinking about what he could have done to save the people of this forsaken place. He knew they had prayed to him, in the back of his mind. He didn't remember, at least not explicitly he didn't. But he knew. He hadn't been responding to prayers in ages. Not since most of the mortals had stopped really needing him or the rest of the gods. But the people of this planet had been simple creatures until their destruction. They needed him, and he probably ignored them. Instead he probably drank himself into a stupor or spent the night with a curvy wench. Whatever it was, it wasn't more important than saving the people here.

Still, what was housed in the bowls of this cavern would allow him to make right his past deeds. Once again the cosmos would know that Thor Odinson stood for the greater good. He would be the hero he always knew he was.

A bit of rock fell to the floor next to him, startling Thor. He looked up to the ceiling, but found nothing but rock staring back at him. It was beautiful the way it caught the light. It reflected it in a glassy, red hue unlike anything he had ever seen. Probably a reaction from the Asgardian mining techniques with the planet's composition.

The stone passageway came to another door, this one marked with the royal seal of Asgard. He ran his hand over it, and a thousand memories poured over him. Of his father and brother fighting by his side on the frigid plains of Jotunheim. Of his mother singing in the gardens of the palace. Of laughing with the Warriors Three in some tavern as the snow fell on Asgard. Eons worth of memories now felt like sand blowing on the beach. All of them were gone, and Thor was not sure he would ever see them again. not if the Ragnarok cycle had been forever altered.

Suddenly, the sound of thunder echoed through his head and his vision blurred. He fell to his knees as reality around him bent and folded. It was as if the Bifrost has hit him, but only his mind was being transported.

His eyes adjusted, and he found himself in a rolling green field. The soft wind blew the golden wheat in waves like the ripples on a lake. In the distance he saw a figure standing idly in the middle of the swaying rows. He approached with caution, but quickly realized who it was, and broke out into a run.

"Father!" Thor called out in relief. "You have survived!"

But as Thor reached his father, it was clear that was not the case. This was not the King of Asgard standing before him. Instead it was a wraith stripped of all vitality and nobility. His eyes were sunken and his skin palor. His shoulders were slumped, robbing him of any sense of the strength that once radiated from his kingly visage.

"Father...what has happened to you?" Thor was beside himself. In all his years he had done nothing but idolize Odin. He was the king Thor one day hoped to emulate. But what now stood before him was a broken and shamed man. He needed answers as to why.

"Thor?" Odin called out as if unable to see his son standing in front of him. "How are you here?"

"I do not know," Thor shook his head and looked at his father with confusion. "I thought you summoned me to...where ever we are."

"No," Odin shook his head in defeat. "Not here. I do not have that kind of power. Not anymore."

"Where is here?"

"I know not, to tell you the truth," Odin looked over his surroundings. "Tis not Valhalla. I believe that way is shut to me. Possibly to all Asgardians. Perhaps it is a punishment for our failures."

Thor's hands clenched into fists of rage, "I will avenge you. I am searching for the one that did this. I will make them pay and open the gates of Valhalla to our people. That much I promise you, father."

"Valhalla is not my worry," Odin shook his head. "The one who did this. The one who triggered Ragnarok...he is ahead of you, son."

"What is that supposed to mean?" Thor asked as the vision around him began to fade.

"You will see shortly, my son," Odin cautioned. "You have a chance to be better, my son. Protect them. All of them. Protect them from our mistakes."

In a flash, he was back in the tunnel, and the door to the cache was open in front of him.

And it was empty.

He stepped inside to find nothing left. Not the weapon he was hoping to find nor the treasure that he was going to pay Quill with. All hope that had filled his heart when he found this place had fled. The weapon he hoped to find here wasn't going to be a cure all, but it would have been a start. Now he had nothing except more dread. This meant that not only was the person behind Ragnarok still at large, they were also raiding Asgardian caches. They were amassing more weapons to attack the galaxy with.

From the corner of his eye, he saw another flash of movement along the cave wall. He searched for the lever in the treasure chamber that would allow the outside light in. He located it, and pulled it. A single, blinding beam of light shot down from the ceiling, and with it came the hideous scream of a thousand voices. He looked up to find what he thought were shimmering walls was actually thousands of creatures nesting there.

Some fell in front of him, their exoskeletons blazing bright read in the light, their insectoid legs skittering in the sand, and their teethed mandibles chomped towards him. The first reached him, its eyes rolling back into its head as if it thought he would be easy prey. Instead Thor ripped the monster's clawed arm off and drove it through its mouth. In response, dozens of them fell of the ceiling towards him.



He ran back towards the entrance of the cave as a tidal wave of the creatures flowed towards him. They seemed to have only one desire, and that was to tear him apart and devour him. They were ravenous and strong. They tore at him with their sharp claws and many bites snapped just out of reach from him. If he was a hair slower, he'd already be dead.

Thor fumbled through his pocket as he ran, searching for Quill's beacon. He pressed it before he was cut off by a group of the insectoids. The snarled and pounced.

**********


Peter couldn't believe what he found when he landed on the planet. Doors bigger than he had ever seen swung open, revealing a cave within. The crazy bastard wasn't lying. There really was something buried here by the guy's people. Unbelievable.

unfortunately the distress beacon was firing from inside the cave, and he was not looking forward to going inside. But if it was what he had to do to get paid, it was what he had to do. He had to be quick. The Milano wouldn't survive on the surface for long.

Using his rocket boots, he blasted inside, but once he was in the dark caverns, he quickly realized why Thor was asking for help. Giant cockroaches assailed him from every side. He could barely keep his guns firing quick enough, but slowly and surely he came closer and closer to where Thor's beacon was firing.

When he came to the location, all he found was a pile of the dead creepers from floor to ceiling. So that was it. The man was dead, and so was his hope of treasure.

At least that's what he thought before the man burst out of the pile covered in viscera and blood.

"Well met, Peter Quill," he growled. "Now let us leave this place before we are eaten."
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Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Bounce
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T O L M E R I A

The Andromeda Galaxy

Contrary to what people might think, there was no user manual or even a how to guide on how to hero. Instead, from the very moment that Billy had come into possession of powers and abilities beyond his comprehension, it had been a journey filled with mistakes and happenstance victories as he’d just figured it out for himself.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, Billy had learned to move faster than a speeding bullet. Because it had been a full-blown world war and the bullets had filled the air like a terror of locusts, carving out no man’s land between entrenched positions of soldiers who slowly suffered through a war of attrition, marking time, waiting for either death or victory.

That was before he knew that he could fly. Before he’d ever broken the sound barrier or traveled faster-than-light.

These days, a guy armed with a pole-ax had no chance.

Arcs of lightning sparked from off the child’s body, as the young Batson casually side-stepped out of the path of the falling axe blade. The polearm froze in the air, the blade mere inches from impacting the ground.

A look of confusion passed over Terrax the Pants-less’ face, as it was another moment before the man realized that the boy had snapped a hand up and seized hold of the polearm’s shaft. The weapon seemed to radiate in place, as the boy and the self-described dictator each tested the strength of the other.

Then, slowly, Billy started to feel the pole-axe pull away from his grip.

Terrax the Pants-less had some serious strength going on.

“FOOL!” the shale-skinned man boomed, boasting “I wield the Power Cos--MUAH!”

As Terrax’s pull strengthened, Billy simply released his hold on the shaft. The sudden loss of tension caused the man to lose his balance, stumbling about as he struggled to find his footing, slipping down on one knee as his boots dug and shifted in the loose sand.

“I’m sorry. Were you monologuing?” Billy asked, feigning innocence, as the youth simply stood there with his hands now tucked into the pockets of the jacket that he wore. Pulling a hand free, he gestured up toward his head as he remarked, “Two-second attention span. I’ll need you to keep it short. Sound bites, not whole sentences. That sort of thing.”

Rising back to his feet, the shale-skinned, towering Goliath adjusted his grip on the pole-axe. “You dare mock Terrax!?” the man bellowed, thrusting the butt of the polearm deep into the ground, like a conquistador planting their flag.

Billy just kicked his head to one side as he seemed to let that statement pass. Then, with his other hand, gestured toward Terrax as he said, “Okay, first of all, if you’re gonna make yourself dictator-for-life of a planet you kinda have to be prepared to live with the consequences of being a public figure. And, yeah, it sucks. Been there. I know.” Didn’t these absolute power types know this? Probably not, owing to the whole absolute power schtick. “But second and most of all, the dude not wearing pants is just going to get what he gets.”

Strong. And fast.

There was a brilliant flash, the energy crackling along Billy’s frame as Terrax came barreling forward. With preternatural grace, the young Batson neatly stepped out and around, watching as the gigantic figure went flying past.

There was a loud crack of thunder as Terrax slid to a halt, realizing that Billy now stood behind him. “Seriously, it’s like the future out here. We can get you a good set of trousers.”

Terrax was obviously a man who had trained for this.

That was okay. Billy had never set out to train to fight anyone, but he’d had to learn. Some folks in the Army had taught him about boxing. The Kymelians had a style of combat that they referred to as kyav zaga. The Majesdane’s trained their Light Brigade in tor’su’fan. And the Galadorians just picked up a sword and kicked some ass.

The Skrulls? God only knew what they called their fighting styles. Billy had seen a few. And he’d been doing this now for a long ass time.

Raising his arm overhead, Billy blocked the overhead swing that slammed down with the force of several metric tonnes of force. The ground shook with the impact, even as Terrax following up with a kick aimed at catching Billy in the side.

Instead, Billy took two steps back and felt the rush of air as the man’s leg swept just an inch away from his face.

A pair of hands came at him, as the boy stretched forward and found himself grappling with a pair of hands that were each about the size of his head.

“For your insolence, I will find your people and bring about the end of your pla...”

An explosion ripped from out of Billy’s body, as a wave of kinetic energy radiated outward in a sudden release, catching Terrax and lifting him up as he was tossed a short distance away.

And there, standing amid the smoldering glass that surrounded the scorched earth at his feet, Billy just quipped, “Hey, man, I’m not even about to let you do that to these people I never even met before today. And you want to talk about Earth?

Unzipping his jacket, the boy shrugged his way out of the red and blue top, allowing it to drop onto the ground. A pair of dog tags hung from his neck, as the boy stepped forward, pounding one fist into the palm of his open hand as he paused to ask, “...how well do you think that’s going to go for you?”
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Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Natty
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Natty Supervillain Enthusiast

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As she began to regain consciousness once more, Illyana found a comforting hand on her shoulder, rousing her to wake up. Her eyes opened to that of the messy redheaded man. Ragman. Or Rory Regan as he had called himself. Despite not having known Ragman for long at all, she was glad to see him, especially with everything that was rushing through her head right now.

What was that?” She managed, using her hands to prop herself up against the wall.

It was now that she got a good look at the room around her. The room matched the corridor in style exactly; with tattered wallpaper and stained dirty carpets. And once again there was the hellfire, burning bright and dangerously around them. However here it was slightly different. The more she watched, the more she noticed that the fire was creeping away from them as if it were fleeing.

It was just like we saw in all the other rooms.” Rory began, grabbing her attention away from the flames. “Looked like Marcosa was projecting you your heart’s desire.

A lot of what she had just seen was hazy, but it was clear enough at least for it to hurt. She had been home and happy. But it had all been a lie. An illusion. Her heart stung like hell. As a fire brewed inside her slightly.

"It looks like he was using this place to suck out your soul. Just like he’s doing to everyone else in the other rooms. Luckily, you have a premier soul stealer by your side. I jumped in after you. Once I got hold of you, I just used my suit to try and do the exact same thing to you. Thankfully it overloaded whatever magic he was using! Which is pretty good because if my suit had absorbed you it wouldn’t have been a pretty sight…

"That sounds..."

"Super convoluted and improbable? I know. I'm as surprised it worked as you are".

The two shared a laugh, however, it soon died out as Illyana returned to her thoughts. If Rory had been there with her. Then he would have seen everything. He would have seen him.

About what you saw...” She began; however, Rory raised his hand to silence her.

I know, I know. Tell a soul and you’ll rip out my spleen.” He gave a cheeky grin at that last part, and Illyana could do nothing but chuckle with him. His eyes grew serious though, and in a more comforting voice, he continued. “But if you want to talk, I’m happy to—"

She couldn’t deal with a conversion like that. Not now anyway.

After. First, we need to put a stop to all this.

Agreed.

He nodded understandably. Moving his hand jokingly across his face, he put on a very obviously fake “serious” face, before pulling his raggedy mask back over his face. Magik just smirked as she rose to her feet, using his free hand to summon her soul staff once more as she did so.

I’m confused though, why is he doing this. Why try and steal all these souls?” He motioned to himself and his suit. “I mean, I have to do this shit.

She tried to think back to their confrontation previously in the corridor, her minding trying to compare what she’d seen to anything that she'd learned during her tutelage with Strange. However, nothing came to mind. Just the sight of his gothic demeanor and his horrifying appearance. However, it was just remembering his face that caused her to realize; the way he seemed to fizzle in and out of existence. The “holes” throughout his body of nothingness.

Wait, remember what he looked like!

The man was an inch away from going full monobrow and had literally bedazzled his teeth with rubies, how could I forget.

No, I mean his hand. It seemed to be reforming or something.

It took a second or two for things to tick within Ragman’s brain.

That’s it! The souls are keeping him alive.

So we just have to shut down the Soul Corridors.

Illyana smiled. At least they had some sort of plan. But how would they do it?

I guess I could try and go through one by one like I did with you, but that could take days.

Magik frowned. He had a point. Time was not a luxury that they had currently. That’s when an idea hit her.

I may have a quicker solution. Find Marcosa and get him to the roof. Keep him busy.

And with a flex of her arm, a stepping disk appeared beneath her feet, teleporting her away in a fury of yellow.
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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Xandrya
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Xandrya Well-behaved women seldom make history

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"Right in here, gentlemen," Rossi pushed open the door and held it in place as the paramedics stepped inside the room, both of them carrying medical equipment. Rachel suppressed the urge to roll her eyes, but she volunteered an arm without protest after they set their stuff down to measure her blood pressure. After the fact, she was further examined: they listened to her heart, flashed a bright light in her eyes, etc. Rachel knew for a fact her vitals were perfect and they'd find no reason to even transport her, and she was right. When the medics concluded the process, the young woman was asked for some basic information as was procedure before she was officially back in Rossi's custody.

"I guess I just need to eat something. I mean, it's been a long day..."

The detective gave her a certain look, and from the doorway proceeded to flag down a uniform to escort the paramedics out of the building. "Very well," he went on, shutting the door, "I just have some paperwork for you to sign and then you are allowed to have your meal break. I'll get you something from down the street if that's alright with you."

Rachel smiled after doing some light probing, and quickly realized that the sandwich shop was one of his favorite spots for lunch. "Oh, you mean that deli place? Yeah I've been there once or twice, it's pretty good."

"Perfect, then that's what we'll have."

Rossi placed some papers in front of her which she proceeded to sign. It was the standard set of documents, nothing out of the ordinary. "I'll go for the Chicken Parm Hero."

The detective looked at her somewhat surprised. "Good taste, that's a favorite of mine."

"What are the odds?" she smirked, pushing the paperwork over to him. She then leaned back and crossed her arms, watching as the detective cleared his throat before gathering everything into a single, neat stack.

"Give me about 15 minutes and I'll be back with the sandwiches. I'll have an officer outside in case you need anything."

"I'll be here."

The detective then went off, and Rachel would go on to ask whether she could make a phone call.
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