Hidden 7 mos ago 7 mos ago Post by Morden Man
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Morden Man

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In … The Beast Within: Pt. V

Kitimat, British Columbia

There was a knot in James Hudson’s throat. It had been there all morning. He and Heather MacNeil had spent the best part of a week at the cabin, trying to nurse Logan’s mind back to health, whilst their real lives at Can-Am Corporation had been falling apart. Missing out on crucial government funding for Hudson’s Guardian project had thrown the entire future of the Kitimat division of Can-Am into question. The two-dozen strong team James had assembled had been relying on winning the bid to convince their boss of the Guardian project’s worth. Conveniently for them, Logan’s unexpected arrival in their lives had distracted them from the fallout of their failure. Today that distraction came to an end.

From the passenger seat of Hudson’s truck, Heather shot James a concerned look. “Nervous?”

“Something like that.”

“It’s going to be fine,” MacNeil said with a reassuring smile. “We’re going to walk in there with our heads up. You don’t have anything to be ashamed of, James. Even if Jaxon decides to pull the plug, what we’ve achieved here with Guardian … it was worth it.”

James lifted a hand from the wheel at gnawed at his thumb anxiously. “Tell that to the lab full of people about to learn they’re out of a job.”

Heather wanted to tell him that he was wrong but she couldn’t. She hadn’t stopped to think about what Jaxon walking away from the project might mean for anyone but themselves. Her fierce loyalty to James, and her desire to see his brilliance acknowledged by the world, had blinded her to the fact that dozens of families were going to be caught in the crossfire between James and her former employer Jerome Jaxon.

As James turned the truck up the long gravel path that lead to the laboratory, Heather’s slight nose wrinkled. Though the fir trees obscured the approach to the building itself, there was something in skyless cloud above them that had caught her attention. Thick, black smog was billowing all around.

“What is that?” MacNeil asked as she squinted at the dark substance filling the sky above them. “Is that smoke?”

Hudson grimaced slightly as a sense of dread set in. He drove them further up the path gently despite every one of his senses telling him to turn back. As they drew closer to the lab, the scale of the carnage became clearer to them. Sections of the building were on fire, windows had been broken, and the security trucks parked outside had been laid was to. Most concerning of all was the deathly silence.

“What the hell happened here?”

Once again, Hudson felt his body compel him to turn back but he suppressed the feeling as best he could and opened the door to his truck. From behind it he surveilled what remained of the laboratory that had served as the couple's home away from home for the past three years.

Heather slid out from her side of the truck and confirmed his suspicions. “There’s someone over there, James. I think they might be dead.”

A pained sigh escaped from James’ chest. He followed Heather’s hand with his eye and could just about make out the body in the distance. It was one of the security officer’s employed on site. He'd died trying to protect their colleagues from whatever had done this. Suddenly, a pang of responsibility ran over Hudson and he made his way towards the back of the truck. He threw open a blanket and pulled his shotgun out.

“What are you doing?” Heather called out to him in half-whisper, half-shout. “We need to get out of here.”

Hudson shook his head and pointed towards the burning building. “What about the others? We can’t just leave them.”

A look of despair flashed across Heather’s face. She scampered around towards Hudson and placed her cold hands on his shoulders. Her voice was calm but there was a desperation to her piercing blue eyes.

“Would you please just listen to me this one time, James? Whatever did this to them … brave as you are, you’re not going to be able to put it down with that shotgun of yours. All you’re going to do is get both of us killed. If there are people still alive in there, the best way to help them is to get to safety and call the authorities.”

“Alright,” James agreed with a nod that seemed to acknowledge his shame at not being able to do more. “Let’s get the hell out of here.”

Hudson was about to throw the shotgun back in the pick-up when a loud boom rocked the building in front of them. Broken glass shot out from inside it, raining down on James and Heather like hail. Out of the flames stepped a hulking, grey-skinned figure. He stood in the mouth of a newly-created hole in the side of the building and looked down at the pair of them. A chilling smile appeared on his face and he used his tentacles to propel himself down onto the ground.

“Ah, perhaps you can be more helpful than your comrades.”

James flicked the safety off of his shotgun and gestured to Heather to get behind him. She did so without argument. The grey-skinned man seemed unperturbed by Hudson’s shotgun, which was now trained on him, and began walking towards them slowly.

“I don’t know what’s going on here, but … we want no part in it, do you understand me? Let us walk away from here and we won’t tell a soul what we’ve seen. You have my word.”

“It is not your word I want," The Russian smiled. "It is Weapon X. I know your so-called Can-Am Corporation had a hand in his creation. Now you are hiding him. Give him to me and a quick and painless death will be yours. Stand in my way ... and you will die in agony.”

The grey-skinned man came to a stop five metres in front of Heather and James. His tentacles were slithering around like snakes in need of feeding. It was clear from the smile on his face that he meant it. They were dead the second he had laid eyes on them. If the choice was death now or death later, Hudson thought as he peered down the barrel of the shotgun, he intended to die much later.

With a bang, James sent the Russian flying backwards. The cluster of bullets tore through his shoulder and splattered the snowy path with a sickly-looking grey fluid. There was another bang, though this time Hudson only managed to clip the floored grey-skinned man before fleeing.

The Russian dipped his fingers into the already-healing wound in his shoulder and tasted the fluid on his fingers. “Tsk, so be it.”

In the commotion, Heather had found herself in the driver’s seat. James climbed into the other side of the truck and hung from the passenger’s side door with the Russian firmly in the sights of his shotgun. He had risen to his feet, tentacles at the ready, and was already preparing to give chase. Hudson sent another barrage of fire towards him and reached over and placed the pickup in reverse.

“Drive!”

MacNeil slammed her foot down and the truck began to pull away from the charging Russian. James knocked open the glove compartment in front of him and grabbed as many shells as he could. He clumsily reloaded and sent another blast towards their pursuer. This time it tagged the grey man in the thigh but only managed to slow him down. Heather took her chance, spinning the truck around, and taking off with speed.

James slid back into his seat and slammed his door shut with. He glanced over his shoulder and grimaced as he noticed the wound on their attacker’s thigh had gone – and he was gaining on them. He used the butt of it to smash through the glass and began to climb through it.

“What are you doing?”

“What does it look like?” Hudson smiled and planted a firm kiss on Heather’s lips. “I’m making sure we get out of here in one piece.”

Once through James threw the blanket he’d kept the shotgun in around his left forearm, knelt down, and rested the barrel of the gun carefully on top of it. The Russian was right in the centre of his sights. He pulled the trigger and gasped in amazement as the grey-skinned man seemed to deflect the pellets with his tentacles. Whoever the man was, he was quicker than anything James had ever seen.

“Yes, I see it in your eyes,” the Russian called out to Hudson. “You know where Weapon X is, don’t you? You are the ones that have hidden him. One way or another, you will lead me to my prey, and once I have killed you and your woman, I will break him too.”

A tentacle came tearing towards the truck and seemed to miss James by inches. He kept his nerve, took aim once more, and this time took great care to aim for centre mass. There would be no missing the Russian this time. He couldn’t afford to.

Hudson grinned as the bullets shredded his thighs and sent him skidding into the trees. “Buddy, you talk too much.”

After ten minutes with no sign of the Russian, James slid back into the front of the truck. He rested the shotgun against the dashboard and took a deep breath in. He reached one of his shaking hands over and placed it on Heather’s thigh.

“Did we lose him?” MacNeil asked as they turned the corner towards the approach to the cabin. “Is … is he dead?”

“I think so,” Hudson said with a nod. “We need to get out of here. I’m going to find Logan. Grab whatever you need from the cabin and wait by the truck. If you hear that thing coming or see something that doesn’t look right, you get in and start driving.”

As James tried to climb out of the truck, Heather’s hand reached across and grabbed him by the arm. “I won’t leave you.”

“You won’t have to,” Hudson smiled. “I’ll be back before you know it, okay? Just grab your things, and try to leave the Louboutins.”

James planted another kiss on Heather’s lips and slid out onto the snow-covered grass. He surveilled the horizon, scanning the banks of the lake, in search of the mutant that had only yesterday warned they were being watched. He had been proved right. Hudson suspected what had happened at Can-Am had something to do with Logan. Was he the Weapon X that the Russian was hunting? There wasn’t enough time to ask those questions. He needed to find Logan and get out.

“Logan!” James called as he wandered away from the cabin. “Logan! Where are you? There’s trouble ... we need to get out of here.”

There was stirring from a set of thick fir trees in front of James. Through them stepped an elk that seemed oblivious to Hudson’s presence. It glanced around calmly for a few seconds, before laying eyes on James. If the elk was troubled, it showed no signs of it. James stood perfectly still as it approached him. It was inches from him with its head bowed, taking great care to avoid clipping Hudson with its antlers, when James felt the urge to touch it. His hand reached and rested on its head gently and in that moment Hudson felt all his worries melt away.

Then the sound of a twig cracking underfoot sent the elk sprinting away and the weight of someone’s gaze fell on Hudson. “Logan?”

“I am afraid not.”

Once again James was confronted by the hulking grey figure that had slaughtered his Can-Am colleagues. This time he was without his shotgun. It was clear from the look on Hudson’s face that he knew there was no escaping. He smiled defiantly and pulled his thick coat from his shoulders, throwing it onto the ground by way of a challenge. The Russian nodded by way of acceptance of Hudson’s challenge and raised his tentacles in preparation.

From down the hill, a piercing scream left Heather MacNeil’s lungs that echoed through the hills. “Run, James!”

Hudson managed to dodge one of the Russian’s tentacles and land a punch square on his chin. Several of his bones broke on contact. The grey-skinned Russian grinned, impressed by the punch, and sent back one of his own. Teeth went flying across the ground and the Canadian fell to his knees with blood seeping down his chin. He spat a mouthful of it out at the Russian’s feet and sprung into action again. This time an uppercut caught with ease. There was a sickening snap as the Russian broke his arm and wrapped a tentacle around Hudson’s neck.

A cold laugh echoed through the fir trees. “You should have cooperated when you had the chance, tovarisch.”

Heather’s screams intensified as a tentacle tore through James’ chest. His hand wrapped around it in vain as he attempted to pull himself free from it but the tentacle around his neck restricted viciously. Hudson fell to his knees again and his face began to redden as the life slipped away from him. In the distance he saw Heather grab the shotgun and race towards them. He wanted to shout to her to get in the truck and drive away but he couldn’t find the strength. Instead his skin grew as grey as the Russian’s and he began to crumple to the ground.

There was a sudden burst of movement as the fir trees opened and another man stepped through it. His thick limbs were dripping with sweat, his torso was rattling as he struggled for breath, but even to Hudson’s lifeless eyes there was no mistaking that it was Logan. He was different now than when they had stood on the banks of the lake: the humanity that Hudson had tried to restore to him was gone. There was only rage.

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Hidden 7 mos ago Post by Byrd Man
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Byrd Man El Hombre Pájaro

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Camden & Young Industrial Electroplating
10:48 PM


The skinny man flew over the battered desk with a high-pitched yell. He was taller than Selina by a few inches, but she was able to manhandle him with ease. He was rail thin with long, greasy black hair, hair that had been easy for her to grab on to. He’d been so engrossed in his computer that he never heard Selina come through the door.

“Don’t hurt me.”

He peered at Selina from the edge of the desk, his eyes fixated on the gun in her hand.

“You should have thought about that before you started blackmailing people," she said. "Give me your wallet.”

“What?”

“Did I stutter?” Selina asked with a raised eyebrow. “I'm the world's prettiest mugger. Now hand over your wallet.”

The man slid a flimsy leather billfold across the desk. Selina picked it up with her free hand and snuck a glance at the ID card inside.

“Edward Nashton. Only twenty-three," she tossed the wallet back. It bounced off his head and he winced. "Nice catch. Anyway, you're too young and too dumb to know you’ve pissed off some very powerful people.”

Nashton swept his hair away from his eyes and shrugged in his best attempt at nonchalance. The shock of Selina getting the drop on him had faded, or he had replaced that shock and fear with false bravado. A cruel smile formed on his lips.

“A bunch of rich assholes are getting squeezed for money that they won’t even miss. Cry me a fucking river, babe.”

Selina felt growing annoyance at this insolent child. She was the one with the gun, but yet he was talking to her like he was armed. She kept the gun trained on Nashton while she reached down for his computer.

“I’m taking your laptop,” she said. “I know it's going to bother you to not be able to harass women via twitter, but you'll be okay. Where are your backups? A guy like you has to have some insurance.”

Nashton let out a harsh laughter that sounded like a donkey braying. “You’re so adorable. You think that’s how this works. You’re a spunky girl, I’ll give you that.”

Selina fired once into the air. Nashton ducked behind the desk.

“Call me girl, babe, or sweetheart one more time,” she growled. “Please, give me an excuse to actually use this gun.”

Nashton held up his hands and sighed. He ran a hand along his face.

“It’s pointless, okay? I forwarded everything I found. There are files on my computer, but what's the point? You can destroy my computer and kill me if you’d like, but it’s not coming back.”

Selina took in the information and tried playing the angles out in her mind. She ran through every con or scam she knew. Still she came up empty.

“That doesn’t make sense,” she said. “What kind of blackmailer doesn’t keep the blackmail information.”

“Riddle me this,” Nashton said with a smirk. “When is a blackmailer not a blackmailer?”

It suddenly clicked. She looked away from looking back at him. “When he’s already getting paid.”

“Someone paid a lot of money for that hack job,” Nashton said with a proud grin. “A simple extract, but they also paid a lot of money for the performance. It was a message to get your attention.”

“Why mine?” asked Selina.

“Not yours,” said Nashton. He pointed over her shoulder and his eyes widened. ”His.

Selina closed her eyes and sighed. She didn’t have to turn around to know who was there. Of course it was him. Who else would it be? She heard him walk across the floor towards her and Nashton.

“How did you find me?” she asked.

“You can be as careful as you like, you’re still being watched.”

She turned around and looked him over. It was, what, six months since the run in at the museum? It looked like he had upgraded his attire in the meanwhile. More armor, especially around the upper body area. She smiled at the memory. He had learned the hard way that cats have claws.

“You look good," she said. "New cape?”

“Probably. I go through them quick.” He turned his attention back to Nashton and scowled.

“Who hired you?” he growled.

“I don’t know,” he sputtered. That cockiness was gone when Batman talked to him. Selina felt annoyed again. A man with pointy ears scared the hell out of him, but a woman with a gun couldn’t move the needle once. Her phone chimed an alert and she pulled it out to look.

“It was all done through email," said Nashton. "They hired me to hack the database, leave those clues, and make sure I was found out by the bat.”

“You were paid, but the blackmail was a sham. What was the purpose of the hack?”

“Uhh, I think I know why.” Selina held up her phone. “Looks like it’s hit the press…

On the screen was a breaking news article that read. “GOTHAM FINANCIAL FIRM LAUNDERS MONEY FOR ELITE.”

“...and just like that,” she sighed. “I’m out of a payday.”

Batman looked at the news article for a long moment. Selina could see the wheels spinning as he tried to make sense of it all.

“There’s one more thing,” said Nashton. “I was also hired to pass on a message to Batman. It’s in an envelope in the desk’s top drawer.”

He carefully opened the desk drawer and pulled out the envelope. Selina saw jotted on the white envelope was a message in neat handwriting.

“Dear Batman, this is what real change looks like. Here’s my card.”

He opened it up and pulled out the card.



---

Mood Music

Rupert Thorne stared glassy eyed at his wall-mounted TV. The top story on the news was all about him and the others who used Heed, McElroy, & Standler. The vast fortune and enterprise Thorne spent decades hiding were now in plain sight. He wasn’t afraid of arrest or reprisals from the law, they were too big to arrest after all, but his status was tainted. No one would ever look at him the same way again. There were already whispers in the halls of his country club. No longer was he just a simple businessman. Now they called him thug and gangster. He still had his fortune, but that didn’t matter. His standing in the community was now eroded.

And someone had to pay for that.

---

Fred Stickley buried his hands into his head. It was all over. Five decades in business all done now. The news meant HM&S was going belly-up and he would be out of a job. Some of the most powerful and secretive people in the world had been exposed by the firm. And each and every one of them had an axe to grind with Stickley.

And on top of it all, when he'd come in to work this morning he found that every painting had been stolen overnight. The art had always been his escape hatch when things inevitably went bad. He could always sell a few pieces on the quick and get enough cash to run. But his life raft had just been deflated by the burglar. Stickley rubbed his temples. Stickley had disconnected his office phone hours ago, but he could hear the continuous ringing on every phone outside the office. Stickley took out his bottle of scotch and drank straight from the bottle as the phones continued to ring.

---

Bruce watched the newsfeed on his tablet with a detached curiosity. He sat at the worktable in the basement, the tablet off to the side while in front of him was the tattered remains of his drone. He thought the arrest of Blackwood and the Crusaders would be the top story from last night, but it was now on the second spot in the news.

Whoever hired Nashton had forwarded the contents of the info dump to every major news outlet in America. Gotham News Network took the lead, but the story had enough legs to make it global. HM&S provided “investment services” for more than just shadowy men with obscure fortunes. Crime boss Thorne was among some of their most tame clientele. Russian Oligarchs, South American heads of state, and even the occasional warlord all trusted HM&S with hiding their money away from prying eyes and making it clean.

And now all eyes were on them. They had been exposed by someone. Whoever forwarded the files to the news hadn't delivered a message explaining their motives.. Only Bruce was deemed worthy enough to warrant a message. He ran his hands over the Joker playing card. “This is what real change looks like,” was the message. The newsfeed showed a Senator hurrying down a corridor to avoid reporter’s questions. While Bruce retreated into his thoughts, the camera on his tablet blinked on.

On the other side of the lens someone was watching.
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Hidden 7 mos ago Post by DocTachyon
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DocTachyon Teenage Neenage Neetle Teetles

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Issue 5




New York City, NY ---Thompson Memorial Hospital




The doctors had departed and the sense of reverie was gone from the hospital room now, leaving the Parkers to only settle into a bizarre kind of new normal while they awaited Ben’s discharge. Ben thumbed through the pages of The Daily Bugle as was his custom, occasionally giving a great harumph and shaking his head. May left for the cafeteria to grab her husband lunch, leaving Peter to shift in one of the hard plastic chairs and twiddle his thumbs.

Peter rubbed the inside of his palms and he could feel his suit beneath the surface, ebbing and flowing, reacting to his touch. It had been too long already, by Peter’s measure. A week without Spider-Man, and Ben’s shooter was only getting farther away. Maybe closer to whatever the hell Tombstone is. Ben would get discharged soon, and that meant taking care of him, and going back to school, and --

”I can’t believe they let them print this rag, huh Pete?” Ben smacked the paper. ”Going after those poor kids in Bayville. The nerve.” Peter nodded and his eyes flashed over Ben. He cranked his hospital bed up and moved more freely on the over-sterilized mattress, but still looked somehow restrained in a web of machines and life support. Peter nodded and looked back out of the hopper windows, tracing the arcs of buildings with his eyes, out to the reaches of Central Park and the Upper West Side beyond. Soon.

”Something on your mind, kiddo?” The paper rustled as Ben set it down on the bedside table, next to a pot half full of wilting flowers. Peter pushed himself back in his chair and hid his hands in the long sleeves of his shirt like he would when he was small, pulling back into himself.

”Ever since… Well, your, uh, accident, things just feel different. Somehow.” Peter shrugged. He looked back down at his hands.

Ben propped himself up more, smoothing out the creases in the dull blue plastic hospital bedspread. “It’s a one in a million thing. It could’ve happened to anyone. I’m just glad it was me, and not some kid.”

“No, it’s not -- I’m not scared or anything.” Peter turned his eyes back up to meet his Uncle’s. The corners of his eyes crinkled and he shook his head.

“Well, I’m not a mind reader, unfortunately.” Ben smiled. He motioned for Peter to move closer, and Peter swept his chair up to the bedside. “You’re growing up, kiddo, and this whole thing must’ve been some kind of a shock on top. You’re starting to see things differently. The city, friends, decisions, girls,” Ben started.

“Don’t tell me we’re segueing into a sex talk.”

Ben laughed. “No, no. But your Aunt May has been telling me we’ve been seeing more of Gwen around--”

Ben!

“Kidding! Kidding. She’s a lovely girl anyhow. How is she?”

Peter nodded. “Good. Harry and I are supposed to go to one of their band practices, this Saturday.” He leaned back in his chair, balancing just off the floor on two back legs.

“That’s great. Is there anything else going on?”

Well, I’m a Spider-themed vigilante who occasionally gets grounded by his Aunt when he’s not getting shot at by the cops. So that’s, yknow, fun and cool. “School’s supposed to start again for me next week. Same old same old.”

”Hmm.” Ben looked at Peter for what felt like an age, sizing him up from his scuffed converse and beaten jeans to the strained smile on his face. Peter’s two innermost fingers twitched every few moments, gently rubbing his palm and then straightening back out again just as quickly, like the nervous tic was some kind of secret. Ben sighed. He reached for the copy of the Bugle.

“Are you up on the news?”

“Huh? What about?” Peter’s focus broke and the chair legs came down. He flinched.

“What do you think about this Spider-Man character?” Ben turned the Bugle to his nephew. There was a blurry picture, a screencap of CCTV footage. It was a black mass of pixels with the flash of a white spider, holding an unarmed SWAT officer aloft with one hand, inches from the camera. What a flattering picture. At least he didn’t photoshop ‘I Hate Cancer Patients and Children’ onto my forehead.

“Aunt May was giving me an earful about him the other --”

“No, Pete, what do you think about him?”

Peter paused. “He… I dunno. Seems fine to me.” He rocked back in his chair.

Ben shook his head. “I’m of the opinion he’s irresponsible. Power like his, and he attacks the police, an innocent reporter. I don’t much see how it helps people, if he’s supposed to be a superhero.”

“You never liked Jameson.”

“Doesn’t mean he should be attacked.” Ben took the Bugle back, scanning over the picture and the article for the umpteenth time.

“Maybe that’s how it is with superheroes, sometimes.”

Ben flattened the article across his legs on the bed and used both hands to turn himself to face Peter. “Hey, I get it. It’s gotta be tough. Gotta feel like he has the weight of the world on his shoulders. Maybe he was scared and didn’t know what else to do. But, hey, maybe he reads this, hears about it somewhere. Sees what he’s done. Maybe tries to get a little better every day. It’s all that anyone can do. All we can ask for, really. Then maybe, there’s something to be made of him.”

Peter looked down. “Maybe.”

A little better every day. Peter thought about the doctors, the hushed tones they didn’t think he’d hear. He thought about the metal in Ben’s body, fragments of lead that they couldn’t get out, inching closer and closer to the remains of Ben’s spine, day by day. He thought about the time Ben had left. A little better every day. If only.
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Hidden 7 mos ago 5 mos ago Post by webboysurf
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webboysurf

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SHIELD Safehouse, Rome, Italy - Present Day, 15:50
Issue 1.02.2: Unbroken

Interaction(s): None


The two SHIELD agents stood in front of the single door on the third floor of the apartment complex, waiting silently for a moment. Tony tried to knock again. It was perhaps the most simplistic form of communication, something that Steve even used when he was in the Army. As the two waited outside and heard no response, they both gave a nod. Tony lifted up the faded placard next to the door and gave three quick taps against the wall underneath. The metal panel slid back up into the wall to reveal two scanners. Tony placed his hand on the hand reader as it began to scan his fingerprints, while a sweeping light scanned over his face for facial recognition. After a few moments, the scanners lit up green and the whirs of locks and gears could be heard churning for a few seconds. Tony opened the door, reaching towards his belt to pull out a small metal capsule.

The safehouse wasn’t as clean as one would expect. There were some papers scattered about the place, and an overturned chair or two. Various computers and terminals littered the apartment, but they were all turned off. The weapon rack along the back wall was mostly intact, but there were a few guns that appeared to be missing from the clear empty spaces. Tony and Cap cautiously entered into the larger room, carefully watching things as they split up. Cap made his way to a door on the right side of the room, while Tony approached one on the left. They both gave a curt nod and violently opened the doors. Tony simply found an empty bedroom that was in near immaculate condition, with a single bag in the corner.

Cap opened the door and was immediately met with a wooden chair bashing into his chest. A man in casual clothes was left just holding two of the chair’s legs, and began engaging in close combat. He was able to deliver a few solid blows into Cap’s sides, but Steve was a tank of a man. He bid his time doing his best to block attacks until he found his opening. Cap was able to deliver one swift blow to the hostile’s chest, and the man went flying back into the back wall of the bedroom before falling onto the bed. The hostile was able to just get up when Cap delivered a left hook and knocked him unconscious.

In the meantime, Tony nodded as he saw that there were no lights on under the door on his left. He placed a hand on the computer on his right, and he came to a complete stop. It was warm, which meant they weren’t alone. He twisted his body slightly and delivered a sweeping kick to knock the gun out of the hand of the assailant who swung open the door. A single, silenced bullet impacted against the wall as the gun slid across the floor. The individual seemed surprised by the skill of Tony Masters, but he had no idea. Any attack the assailant made against the SHIELD agent were dodged and countered. Tony was able to fight with brutal efficiency, beating the assailant into a pulp until a final right hook knocked him unconscious.

Cap entered back in the main room just in time to see Tony slowly approaching the gun lying on the ground. Steve’s expression narrowed in on the unconscious body, then Tony’s face. His ally seemed almost entirely mechanical in his movements, seeming to operate out of instinct. It was a stare and loss of self that Steve himself had seen in some of his closest allies. So Steve began rushing forward, kicking the overturned stare with enough force to get in Tony’s way. He seemed caught off-guard by it, but was still able to sidestep it as Cap picked up the sidearm and removed it’s firing capabilities. Masters gave a slight nod to his superior and turned his gaze to the unconscious suited hostile, turning him over and reaching into his suit coat to pull out his wallet. Masters gave a slight sigh as he opened it and revealed it to Cap. ”They were on our side… shit I almost…”

Cap just gave a nod and patted him on the shoulder before lifting up the agent and took him to the bedroom to lie him down in the bed. He returned to shake his head at Tony. ”As long as we’re on this assignment, I want to make this clear. We don’t shoot someone unless they’re shooting us. Those are the rules of engagement. I don’t need to be fighting you and them.”

Tony gave a curt nod as he began to turn on one of the computers. He paused for a moment, before showing a small smile. ”I hate to break it to you, Cap, but I don’t think you could.”

The two began getting to work at that point in time. Tony worked on getting the computers online, while Cap made sure that the other agents were comfortable and got the place in order. After about a half hour, the other agents began to awake and Cap did his best to calm them down and ease them in to things. They didn’t speak much English, so Tony took over speaking to them while Cap waiting in the living room to watch over the front door. It took about fifteen minutes before Tony returned, his facial expression clearly troubled. ”What’s wrong?”

Tony took a deep breath as he leaned against the wall and folded his arms. ”They’re pretty shaken up. The last time the agents were here, they seemed to be in a trance. They downloaded files and took some things with them. They’re going to keep an eye on things here and support our investigation off the record.”

Cap gave a short nod. ”You think the agents were blackmailed?”

”No, the way they described it… their allies didn’t even notice anyone else was here. Wouldn’t respond to any questions and just went around their business.”

Cap rubbed his chin. ”We’ll need to see what Fury thinks when he gets back. I guess now we’re just going to have to wait for everyone to get back.”
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Hidden 7 mos ago Post by IceHeart
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IceHeart

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Life as the BatGirl
Issue # 3



Gotham Old Town – Abandoned Shop




Detective Ellen Yin felt rather silly standing out in the cold in front of a dilapidated store front. The windows were boarded up; trash and graffiti could be seen everywhere, but there were still the remains of the original sign hanging up above the front door. The sign was missing an A and an L, but it was not hard to tell that it used to say, Baby Girl.

Baby Girl had once been a big doll making company that had started on its decline when she was a kid. Despite the dolls going out of style, one of her first dolls had been a Baby Girl doll and she had fallen in love with it. She had actually been a bit of an avid collector until the company went out of business a few years later. Apparently this storefront in Gotham had been the last to close.

There was one unique thing about Baby Girl dolls. Each doll had at least one button on them that had the initials B and G engraved on them. The button was a sort of watermark to show that the doll had been one of theirs. The button she had seen back at the lab, she had recognized as one of those buttons, and she seriously doubted a mobster would be a fan of dolls.

As no self-important mobster would ever be caught dead with such a thing, the mere presence of the button was strange. It was not like you could just easily fake such a button either so the logical conclusion was it had come from either a collection or an old store. It was still only a hunch but Yin felt like this potential lead just might bear fruit.

Yin went up to the door and tired the doorknob, it was unlocked. Yin carefully drew her handgun, and wrenched the door open. She was greeted by the dusty remains of an abandoned storefront, strangely a few old dolls had been left behind on the shelves but aside from them there was nothing else. While there was a lot of dust and cobwebs, Yin couldn’t help but noticed there seemed to be a slightly cleaner path through the debris, leading toward the back of the store. Keeping a careful grip on her glock she crept further into the abandoned store.

It was very creepy walking through the abandoned building with the occasional doll to stare lifelessly at you from the sidelines. Ellen Yin could feel her heart rate increase with each step, the dust trying to tickle her nose and throat to make her cough or sneeze. After a minute or two she reached a door in the back, which should lead her to the back of the building, usually in a Baby Girl store there was a workshop area in the back where they would work on new dolls or repair old ones, which is what she should find if she went through.

Detective Yin noticed some light coming from the bottom of the door, there was definitely someone in the back room. With her gun in one hand she reached for the doorknob and turned the handle, once again the door was unlocked, which instantly rang alarm bells in her head. She quickly knocked the door open and charged in a few steps, gun firmly in front of her.

“Freeze! This is the police!” She shouted as she quickly took in her surroundings.

What greeted her on the other side of the door were several things: First there were several large dolls, expertly taken care of and looking as fresh and lifelike as she remembered. Second there appeared to be a fair amount of medical equipment and even a gurney in the middle of the room along with fabric and doll parts. Third was a rather rotund but large man standing next to the gurney with a rather lifelike pig mask on his face. The man had a scalpel in his hand and what appeared to be a butcher’s apron on instead of surgical attire with a decent amount of blood on it.

Yin fought the urge to gag as she realized the gurney was occupied by a man, his face being replaced by grizzly bear mask. Blood could be seen dripping from the sides of his face where the surgery had been done. Yin glared at the pig-man and made sure her finger was on the trigger and stepped further into the room to get a better look.

“Oh, what a shock I daresay! I wasn’t expecting any company for at least another hour, still a most fortuitous series of events since I had just finished the procedure.” The man carefully put the scalpel down and made sure to put his full attention on the detective.

“What did you do to him!?” Yin demanded as she tried her best to stay calm in front of the mad man while keeping an eye on her surroundings in case there were more.

“Oh? Are you interested in my work? Well yes who wouldn’t be? I was making him better of course. Admittedly he was too malformed to be properly corrected so I did the next best thing and connected him back to his animal side. Oh how we are all just animals in the end but there are those fortunate enough to reach true perfection, will a little help from my humble hands of course.”

As if on cue, another man stepped into view from further back in the shop, but his face had been replaced with that of the pure white face of a porcelain doll, though it seemed that more than just the face had been modified.

“Look at that fellow, such a marvelous work of art! With just a little help I have given him so perfect a form that even the greatest of artists would weep in shame upon seeing him!”

Detective Yin wanted to weep alright, weep for the poor soul whose body had been mutilated forever.

“Alright you sick bastard! Hands up where I can see them, same goes for him too! You’re under arrest for kidnapping, torture, and possibly murder if I can connect you to it.”

“Let’s do what the fair lady says for now.” The pig-man lifted up his arms and the doll-face did the same. “I must say detective, you could easily reach perfect yourself! A tuck here and nip there, of course I would have to do something about that face…”

“Shut up you pig! Turn around slowly!”

“Oh how rude of me! I never did introduce myself did I! Professor Pyg at your service! While I normally would acquiesce to such a fair lady’s request the thing is, you’re here at my invitation and I must take care of my guests.”

Detective Yin’s eyes widened in disbelief when she heard the cocking of a gun right behind her. But that was impossible! There was no way she could have missed someone coming in! The only things behind her were some dolls…she heard a cheerful giggle from behind and turned her head to see a small, blond doll with giant curls holding a stuffed bear, which had the barrel of a gun sticking out of its mouth.

“Hello sweetie! Now why doesn’t big sister here put the mean old gun down before someone gets a boo-boo?” The sweet little doll’s voice dripped with sugar but was laced with cyanide. Realizing she was outmaneuvered, detective Yin had no choice but to drop her gun as the small child threatened her.

Professor Pyg smiled from behind his mask as yet another masked human, this time with a wolf face, came into the room to join up with the doll-face.

“Thank you Baby-Doll, it is always marvelous to see your wonderful face, to think such perfect beauty existed in the natural world.”

“Ya ya, stuff it porky, I expect my bonus for your little trap of yours actually catching someone.” Baby-Doll kept her gun trained on Yin but she let her feelings of disgust for the professor show on her face.

“But of course, you’ll find the extra cash safely in your account by the end of the day, I would never think about going back on my word! A perfect existence such as yourself deserves every penny! Now my Dollotrons, let’s welcome our newest addition into the fold!” The wolf and doll mask quickly grabbed detective Yin who struggled for a bit but the two easily overpowered her and of course she knew a gun was still trained on her so she only slightly resisted. The doll mask also kicked the gun away into a pile of parts so there would be no getting to it.

“You know you won’t get away with this!” Yin yelled with bravado but inside she knew there was little hope, with the way everything had been going it had obviously been a trap.

“I admire your spirit but both you and I know that isn’t true. I seriously wondered if there was anyone in the GCPD who would recognize the little bobble I added to the scene. If there was, there was a 90 percent chance it would be a woman at least, which I find much easier to perfect with my craft. Low and behold my assumptions were right on the money as here I have such a moldable figure before me!”

“What’s your game here? Why go out of your way to target a member of the GCPD, you’ve already targeted the mob; pretty soon you’ll have the entire city on your back!” Yin tried to reason her way through the situation to see if she could learn Pyg’s game, as it turned out Pyg was more than happy to oblige.

“You see my lovely cherub, once everyone knows about my talents they will start to flock to me! Right now I am but a hidden gem of an artist, lost in the filth of the city! But, as my talents start to spread and be well known, I will soon be recognized for having the gift of giving people the perfection they have always been searching for! Before long the entire city of Gotham will be begging for a chance to save them from their accused incomplete existence! As Pygmalion did before me, I have been gifted with the ability to right the wrongs of the perfect form and make as many people as possibly as magnificent as the pantheon itself! Ah, this burden I must bear, I must share my gift with the world as quickly as possible!”

Ellen Yin's heart sank deep in her chest as she realized just what kind of trouble she was in. This Professor Pyg was a complete madman whose sanity had left him long ago. Despite this, his surgery skills and his sharp mind were still working, which made him infinitely more dangerous.

With Ellen Yin completely at Professor Pyg’s mercy, Baby-Doll started to walk to the back of the room, not bothering to train her gun on the detective anymore.

“Hey pork-chop my work is done so I’m just going to go home. I have such adoring fans waiting for me after all and I wouldn’t want to disappoint them.”

“Seeing you leave so soon pains my heart, but I understand Baby. May the joy of perfection be with you till the end of time!”

“Ya, sure whatever…what the?!” Without warning a black object whirled through the air and struck the lights, throwing the room into darkness. Baby-Doll panicked and dived for cover as sounds of a fight broke out where detective Yin was. Professor Pyg groped around in the dark, trying to find the switch for more lights as a crash and various grunts could be heard in the darkness. It was only a few seconds but he managed to find the switch and put on a second, dimmer set of lights.

Before him were the sprawled out forms of his two dollotrons and a woman in a bat cowl helping up detective Yin. Professor Pyg’s eyes grew wide in delight as he took her figure in.

“Well well, I did not expect to see a bat in the belfry! My my, I can certainly see the potential in this one! It would only take a little work to perfect one such as you, I can guarantee it!”

Batgirl stared down the pig-man with a scowl. “I don’t want any part of your so called perfection. I’ll make sure to put a stop to your nightmare once and for all! You'll pay for ruining these people's lives!”

Certain the detective was alright, Batgirl let go of her and started to walk toward Professor Pyg, more than ready to fry some bacon.
“It really is a shame that so few people appreciate my talents, but I’m sure you’ll be a believer soon enough.”

Barbara clenched her fists, she was going to have that pig squeal before long.
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Hidden 7 mos ago Post by The Bork Lazer
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The Bork Lazer Chomping Time

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In autobiographies, there's always one key event that shook your life forever. Some sort of epiphany, paradigm shift, eureka moment, life-changing moment.

For everyone in Dakota City, it was the Big Bang. The night I got my powers, the night I nearly killed my long time bully, Ivan Evans and the night that changed Dakota City forever.

You’ve seen documentaries made about it. Week long news reports. Government notices. Speeches. Youtube videos. Internet discussions. They tell all the same story.

Dakota City. Urban town in the middle of nowhere. High crime rate. A power struggle of gangs. High corruption. Zero accountability. A joke of a police department. Black Lightning leaves. Crime threatens to stamp out the city. New mayor begins to funding police forces. Police forces get supplied with new experimental gas grenades. Uses it on a crowd of unsuspecting kids embroiled in a gang fight. Paris Island becomes cordoned off. Humanitarian disaster. Mayors resigns. Influx of metahumans. Everyone asking: Will Dakota City become Gotham City 2.0?

The Big Bang in a nutshell.

The thing is most of the stories leave out the details.

Anyone who reads this in the future, you’re gonna get it from me straight about what exactly the Big Bang was.

What caused the Big Bang? Let’s start with what gave us Bang Babies our superpowers. We call it Bang Juice. It’s a gas. It’s colored yellow. Or green. Eyewitness reports vary from blue, orange and purple. They’re still trying to crack the code of exactly how the gas exactly works at S.T.A.R Labs. Everything’s still classified but from official news reports, the most talented minds in America have essentially told us that they’re still light-years away from deducing what elements this thing is made of. There’s so far only two recorded effects of what exactly happens when you come in contact with the gas.

The first one is that you die a slow death over the course of the next twelve hours or so. The cells in your body begin to fluctuate between wanting to live and wanting to die. They’re having trouble deciding whether to become cancer cells or undergoing apoptosis. So, you experience a constant cycle of cell growth and death until your nervous system gives out.

That was what happened to 154 people that day.

The second one is that by some freak chance, you gain superpowers. Like me and about 58 other kids on Paris Island that day.

Oh yeah, they did the head-count. Apparently, all of us that survived got knocked out for a while. They cordoned us off at Dakota General Hospital. Unfortunately for the doctors, the majority of the victims were disenfranchised teenage gangsters with large chips on their shoulders. What do you think happens when you hand them superpowers?

The first week for me was filled with all sorts of metahuman crime. They call it the Week of Terror. Anti-metahuman hysteria began to reach a peak. The cops were unable to handle the new threat due to lack of funding from the mayoral office. Then, when I came in the picture in my shittily-made costume, I became the janitor of Dakota City. In the 3rd week or so, metahuman crime reached a halt completely. Sure, there were the usual crooks and robbers but there wasn’t any metahumans. Some say that they turned tail and run. Some say they’re hiding underground in the sewers, waiting for the opportunity to strike. Others say that they’re hiding on Paris Island as we speak.

If I wasn’t there that night, who knows what would have happened?

The blame-game on who exactly caused the Big Bang is a bit of a headache to sort through. The police point it towards the mayors. The mayors point it towards the suppliers. The suppliers point it towards the manufacturers. The manufacturers point it towards the mayors. Last I heard, investigations reached a dead-stop somewhere in China and the only thing they’ve got is the name of a pizza delivery guy who was in contact with the individuals who made the damn thing.

Why did they do it? Let’s just say the conspiracy theories on that one are more weirder than the ones made about me. I’m pretty sure that the true reason is south of ‘Aliens Did It!’ and east of ‘God’s Wrath’.

One thing's definitely for sure.

Before the Big Bang, Dakota City was nothing. A blip on the map.

Now? Dakota City’s definitely something. It’s been noticed. More eyes are honing in on Dakota than the first time Black Lightning came on the scene. We’re still uncertain of what’s yet to come in the future for Dakota.





location: hemingway high school

time: 7:50 AM

The mobile phone rang, bouncing up and down rapidly on the wooden table. Virgil knew what was coming. His hand approached the phone with trepeditation, picking it up and looking at the caller number. He winced. He answered the call. He could hear a quick breath from the other side. Was it anger? Relief? He couldn’t tell.

“ Are you alright?”

“ I’m fine, Dad.” Virgil spoke, eyeing the clock. It was 30 minutes before the beginning of the first class. “ Honestly, I’m fine. I got a broken arm. The nurse fixed it. It’s just a one-time in-”

“ Don’t even finish that sentence.” The harshness of his voice made Virgil’s throat tighten. “ The principal told me about how you tried to stop him from calling me. Saying that, quote unquote, ‘ My dad has enough on his plate already, sir. I really don’t want to worry him. Can you please make sure this conversation is confidential?’.

Virgil could feel his father’s rage radiating through the speakers. At the end of his rant, there was an intermittent pause that petered down to a whisper.

“ I’m the one supposed to be looking out for you. For everyone in this city. If I can’t even take care of my own son, then, how am I supposed to look out for all of my tenants in the community center? What really happened that night, Virgil? You can tell me the truth.”

“ I-I” Virgil failed to find his words, stumbling to find them. Speaking with his dad stung more than his broken right forearm. He clamped down the desire to tell him. No matter how much it tore him apart from the inside and begged to be released.

“ It was just some silly bet that I did with Rich,” said Virgil.

“ Son, I don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to tell that I can smell bullshit through this phone.”

Virgil peered at the cracked yellow goggles resting on his table-side. He lifted it towards himself, thumbing the broken edges whilst he waited for his dad to continue responding.

“ We’ll call the truth a work in progress, then.” An electronic sign issued out with an air of finality. “I don’t expect an answer from you now but I expect an answer soon.”

“ I’ll try to, Dad. I’ll tell you by the end of this week.”

“ Promise?”

Virgil grasped the phone tighter.

“ Promise’s a promise.”

“ Anything else you want to tell me?”

“ Can you tell Sharon that I appreciate the cinnamon cookies she sent me?”

“ Can do. In fact, she’s cooking up another batch now. Maybe I should ask her to stop sending you those since I can’t ground you at home anymore.”

“ So, you can eat them all?,” said Virgil with a smile.

A few chuckles. “ Well, it’s good to know you didn’t lose your sense of humour.”

“ Night, Dad. Love you. ”

“ Night, son. Love you too. ”




Private Message from <ElectricBandit>:

<ElectricBandit>: gosh, modern history is boring. i didn’t know it was possible for Mr Heinrich to sound more dead than he is already. he’s halfway to zombieland already.

<Third_G3AR>: i’ll say
<Third_G3AR>: so,you wanna talk about it?
<Third_G3AR>: don’t give me the stink-eye. this is as private as u can get.
<Third_G3AR>: come on

<ElectricBandit>: okay okay

<Third_G3AR>: this period only has 40 minutes left.
<ElectricBandit>: i’ll talk, but i’m just worried about someone finding this out

<Third_G3AR>: dude, you don’t trust my skills? who won the school coding competition?who managed to pirate a copy of pockobeast: crimson and azure reloaded for you?
<Third_G3AR>: no one gonna infiltrate our server. trust me. i’ll wipe the chat logs after this.

<ElectricBandit>: fine fine
<ElectricBandit>: what do you want to talk about?

<Third_G3AR>: well, two things.
<Third_G3AR>: first of all, you.
<Third_G3AR>: but most importantly
<Third_G3AR>: crap, he’s looking at me. brb.

<ElectricBandit>: you there?
<Third_G3AR>: yep.
<Third_G3AR>: secondly, i did some research on the guy that left you like you were last night on my doorstep
<Third_G3AR>: check out these links, man.
<Third_G3AR>: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Shocker
<Third_G3AR> https://thedailybugle.co.ny/local_events/1990/june/02/shock_at_queens_bank_as_shocker_pulls_heist_of_the_century

<ElectricBandit>: huh.
<ElectricBandit>: wait.
<ElectricBandit>: are you sure this is the same guy? cause from what I read, this guy does not operate like the guy I fought against.

<Third_G3AR>: what do you mean. he’s got the same name

<ElectricBandit>: “ successful string of robberies from 1985 to 1995.”
<ElectricBandit>: “operated in Manhattan, New York”.
<ElectricBandit>: “never successfully caught”.
<ElectricBandit>: “used a pair of sonic blasters”
<ElectricBandit>: “never killed anyone” “infamous for never engaging in conflict with police”.
<ElectricBandit>: why would a carmen-sandiego robber switch to the life of a contract mercenary?

<Third_G3AR>: dude
<Third_G3AR>: it’s all about that money

<ElectricBandit>: even so, why would the guy switch up his game? this is not the same guy.
<ElectricBandit>: “Eyewitness reports state that the Shocker offered his stolen money to recompensate for a young child’s ice-cream that he accidentally knocked to the ground while escaping from the scene of crime”
<ElectricBandit>: see? ^

<Third_G3AR>: whatever
<Third_G3AR>: we need to talk about you now.
<Third_G3AR>: what are you going to do about him? the shocker?

<ElectricBandit>: i’m gonna catch him.

<Third_G3AR>: You wanna still go after the dude that nearly killed you?

<ElectricBandit>: Nearly injured me. Besides, 1 month without an injury is a track record

<Third_G3AR>: weren’t you mumbling this morning about how your powers weren’t working? you know. the thing that keeps you getting killed?

<ElectricBandit>: they’re just acting up.

<Third_G3AR>: he broke your fucking arm.
<Third_G3AR>: i watched you s
<Third_G3AR>: i watched stumble into the dorm with your swiss cheese arm
<Third_G3AR>: your googled eye ass still making jokes
<Third_G3AR>: the nurse managed to stabilise you in time.
<Third_G3AR>: there was one point where I didn’t even know whether or not you were alive still.
<Third_G3AR>: all i’m saying is
<Third_G3AR>: this shit affects me, man. i’m your friend.

<ElectricBandit>: i’m still going after him.

<Third_G3AR>: look
<Third_G3AR>: maybe this is a sign to stop
<Third_G3AR>: you’re gonna end up like Black Lightning at this rate

<Third_G3AR>: dude, are you the one flickering the lights right now?

<ElectricBandit>: people depend on me.

<Third_G3AR>: people depend on the cops. Not my best friend

<ElectricBandit>: if you wont help me
<ElectricBandit>: then just stay out of my way
<ElectricBandit>: i’m doing this with or without you

<Third_G3AR>: eh, fuck it.
<Third_G3AR>: let’s do it together
<Third_G3AR>: i’ll keep your dumb ass from getting killed.

<ElectricBandit>: wow
<ElectricBandit>: i didn’t actually think this was going to work.
<ElectricBandit>: thanks, man
<ElectricBandit>: but in all seriousness, you can back out of this if you want to.

<Third_G3AR>: and miss the chance to work with Dakota’s most famous superhero?
<Third_G3AR>: not for my life.

<ElectricBandit>: well, welcome then.

<Third_G3AR>: soooooooo
<Third_G3AR>: am I your sidekick now?
<Third_G3AR>: what’s my superhero name gonna be?

<ElectricBandit>: let’s figure this out after mr heinrich stops asking me for the answer
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Hidden 7 mos ago Post by ComradeMaxx
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ComradeMaxx Aesthetically Displeasing

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B A Y V I L L E H I G H S C H O O L

Midday | Bayville, New York City

Griff's throat was moment's away from being split open when a flash of cold struck against his skin. The whimpering teenager looked down to find the earthen tendril encased in a solid block of ice, wriggling and writhing in a vain attempt to escape its frozen prison. "S-shit, man-" He gagged, stuck trying to process the fact that he was still alive. His breath appeared in front of him like the wisps of a ghostly hand. He had noticed it before, but the temperature in the room had dipped- he could feel goosebumps crawling up along his sweat-slicked arms.

'The hell?' He thought, bewildered, turning his eyes toward the only possible source.

The man made of snow had pulled himself up off the ground. 'Iceman,' the one with the weird glasses had called him, was hunched over, his shoulders taut and his chest heaving with labored breath. "Pretty brave guy, tryin' to kill a kid that can't fight back." The mutant superhero spat as he straightened his back and stared Lance down with an all-too cocky grin plastered on his face. "Bet you don't have the stones to take me, though!"

Both mutants moved simultaneously, too fast for Griff to comprehend it all. Shards of ice and pillars of stone soared through the air in a chaotic battle of the elements as winter and earth struggled for dominance over one another. Iceman was much more mobile than his opponent, taking to ducking and rolling as he chucked constructs and blasts in Lance's direction. Lance didn't bother moving much, only ever directing the ground to attack Iceman or to defend himself with a twitch of his hand.

He was so engrossed by the lethal dance that he hadn't noticed the other mutant until he was pulling apart at the binds that held Griff in place. Giant, gorilla-like hands tore at stone and dirt with disturbing ease, breaking them down until Griff was finally free for the first time in what felt like an eternity. He landed on his hands and knees, the numbness in his legs and arms making it impossible to stand. Beast took Griff by the shoulders and wrenched him back to his feet, beckoning Griffin wordlessly to move back to the far wall. The big guy pulled Rem and Duncan down, too, ushering them to join Griffin in cowering in the corner while the X-Men dealt with Lance.

"This is so fucking crazy." Rem whimpered, tears running freely down his rounded cheeks. "We're gonna fuckin die, man-"

Duncan took him by the arm and jerked on it roughly."-We'll be fine." He whispered, his throat hoarse. "Tell him, Griff. We're gonna be okay, right?"

But Griffin didn't say anything. He was too busy watching Lance fight. Scrawny, lonely little Lance was tearing apart the locker room like it was nothing. Directing rocks to fly and dirt to bend like he was some kinda sick puppeteer. Griff had always heard about mutants doing stuff like this, even seen some videos online. But he'd never seen it in person. It was...terrifying.

"You three!" A voice shouted in their direction. Griff looked and found Cyclops pointing toward them. He was making a motion for them to come toward him. "I'll cover you, but you need to move, now!" He sounded young- probably not much older than Griff. But there something in the way he spoke that made Griff trust him. Something that prompted him to rise to his feet in a crouch.

He looked back at Rem and Duncan. "Let's go. Stay close." Griff ordered. They both glanced at each other, nervously, but they nodded. Griff started forward. He was quick, but he kept himself low and pressed up against the wall to keep himself as far away from Lance as humanly possible. The other two were right behind him. It wasn't a long shot from the locker room's exit, but with all the shit flying through the air, he wasn't sure he was gonna make it-

"Where do you think you're going?!" A furious cry rose up over the sound of violence. Lance let out an enraged scream, throwing a palm in Griffin's direction and beckoning a swarm of dagger-like stones to make their final resting place inside of Griff's skull.

Before Griff even had a chance to register the attack it was intercepted by a light as bright as the sun and as red as human blood. A beam that shot through the air with a sound like a maligned fog horn turned the stones into dust, then kept going and punched a hole through three layers of wall until it disappeared outside the school. Griff followed the beam back to its source just in time to see Cyclops removing his finger from his visor, causing the laser to vanish and leaving behind nothing but the destruction and sizzling air in its wake.

As much as Griff wanted to run, he found his body no longer responding. He was stuck there, staring up at Cyclops with his mouth agape and his heart thudding against his chest.

It wasn't until he felt Duncan's hands shoving up against his back that Griff was able to shake it off and continue forward, though his sprint was now more of a series of stumbles and near-falls. He clambered along the ground on his hands and feet until he reached the exit that would lead out into the gym. Both Rem and Duncan didn't spare a second as they went running full-bore to safety, but Griff paused at the entrance to look back at it all and just...stare.

'What the hell are you?'

Almost as if he'd somehow heard Griff's thoughts, Cyclops had turned around. Griffin flinched just at the sight of that ruby-red glass.

"Get out of here!" Cyclops shouted. "Go! We'll hold him off!"

It was more than enough for Griff and he gave the mutant a dull, slow nod before turning on his heel and making a break for the nearest exit. The sound of that eye blast ringing over and over and over again in his head while he ran, even as the sounds of the struggle faded to nothing but a dull and distant drone behind him.




"Is this really all you've got?" Bobby Drake laughed, jumping back to avoid a pillar to the chin. He responded by tossing an empty hand forward like he was holding a baseball, only for a cluster of ice to manifest and fling in Lance's direction. "You're puttin' me to sleep over here!"

Lance brought up a wall of packed dirt to block the blow, building it up until it was touching the ceiling only to usher it to collapse forward toward Iceman and Cyclops. "Just SHUT UP ALREADY!" He snarled, his face red hot and pale as a ghost. Blood was slipping down the side of his cheek from a well-placed icicle the X-Man had thrown earlier; it was mingling with the sweat that had fallen down from Lance's brow and the dirt that stuck to his face.

"Focus, Iceman!" Cyclops yelled, rolling backward to get out of the path of the falling tsunami of dirt and mud. "We need to-"

"Relax, Sc- Cyclops, Jesus!" Drake responded. "This guy's a walk in the park for me." To prove his point he chose not to move out of the way of the falling dirt, instead choosing to press a hand into it and flash freeze the entire wall while it was mid-fall. Ice and frost rapidly crossed over the mound, sticking it together and keeping it suspended in the air above Iceman's head. "See that?" He started, turning around to gloat toward Scott. "This guy ain't shi-"

A tendril snaked around the side of the barrier, a stone hoisted in its grip. Scott went to warn Iceman, but it was too late, the words trapped in his throat even as the stone was loosed and slammed into the side of Bobby's head with enough force to send him stumbling to the floor. Red began to leak through the snow packed around the teenage mutant's skull.

"Damn it, no!" Scott growled, sliding down on his knees to reach Bobby's side. He hoisted Iceman's head up and placed it on his lap, digging through the tightly packed snow to find the wound itself. Bobby's quiet groaning meant he was still alive, thank God, but Scott had to make sure it wasn't going to get any worse. "Beast? He's hurt pretty bad." He said, turning his head up to look for Hank McCoy, the team's resident medic.

Hank wasn't doing much better than them. He was fighting just to get in arm's reach of Lance, struggling to get passed every barrier the mutant erected. Walls of dirt or rock had to be climbed over or sidestepped. The ground falling away and being replaced by a mud pit had to be leaped over. Earthen hands looking to pin him down or knock him onto his back had to be either broken or dodged. All the while he had to avoid every manner of thrown rock, dagger or construct that was sent his way. It was an infuriating affair that kept McCoy from making much progress at all, and every failed attempt to get two steps forward only made the Beast all the angrier.

"When I get my hands on you-" Beast snarled, Cyclops's voice lost in the sound of blood beating in his ear. He wanted so desperately to put his hands on Lance. He wanted it with every fiber of his being. Nothing else in the world mattered as he reached for the scrawny little monster's face, barely unable to get ahold of him.

"Beast!" Cyclops called again, louder this time. "Beast, he needs you!"

Nothing. Hank didn't so much as look his way.

Scott had had just about enough of this.



He'd never explained to anyone just how much it hurt to use his powers. That feeling of energy crackling inside of his eyeballs was always there, like a constant reminder of what he was, but it became almost unbearable whenever he let the energy loose. It was like his entire head was on fire, or what he imagined it felt like to be on fire. And there was this immense pressure on his face- part of him wondered if it might just collapse in on itself if he used his powers for too long. Or maybe his eyeballs would burn up. He never really wanted to test either hypothesis.

And then there was that sound. It was loud and terrible for everyone else, sure, but Scott...Scott heard it inside his head, pounding against his skull like a jackhammer.

It took every ounce of self-control not to flinch or look away. If his eyelids moved in the path of the beam it would knock the laser off course and he'd put everyone nearby in danger. So he focused with every fiber of his being, staring at the ceiling tile just above Lance's head. He watched it explode into chunks and burning insulation in less than a moment. It all started to fall along with bits of superheated steel, wiring and all other manner of debris. Scott only kept the visor open for a portion of a second, but even that had been too much, given just how many layers he'd blown through that he was able to see daylight at the end of it.

He snapped it shut and nearly collapsed to the floor, only narrowly catching himself against the nearest wall.

Lance's panicked shouting had been lost in the sound of Cyclops's attack. He desperately threw a barrier over his head to stop the debris, though, given the screaming that followed, it evidently didn't block all of it.

Hank was promptly snapped out of his trance by the attack and came rushing toward the other two X-Men, his face contorted with some measure of shame and concern as he finally noticed the condition that Bobby was in. He passed by the recovering Cyclops and went straight for Iceman, making a quick field check of the wound before carefully lifting Bobby between his arms. "Can you walk?" He asked, looking back to Scott.

It took a few seconds before Summers managed a nod, slowly working his way to his feet. McCoy awkwardly shuffled over and brought one of Scott's arms over his shoulder, leading the way out of the locker room as best he could.

"Wait..." Scott coughed. "Lance..."

"No time," Hank shook his head profusely. "Cops are starting to break in. We gotta get outta here unless we want to be blamed for all of this too."

"We can't...a..aband..on-" Scott tried to say, but he found himself stumbling down to the floor as darkness enveloped his ruby-red vision.




Lance Alvers let out a pained groan as he managed to snuff out the last of the burning material that had fallen on his head. The world was spinning all around him, panic pounding against his inner ear as he tried to make sense of it all.

He could hear footsteps in the hallway and shouting. People were coming this way. Maybe only a few of them, but even if he managed to fight them off, there'd be more. That...Cyclops guy was right. There'd always be more; chasing him to the edge of the earth for what he did here.

'No,' He corrected with a silent sneer. 'For being what I am.'

He hadn't expected it to end this way. He hadn't...really had a plan to begin with. But he had known he wanted to get back at Griff and those other assholes for what they were doing to him. And what they were gonna do to him. Then those other assholes showed up. All dressed up like superheroes. Why'd they attack him? Why'd they side with the guys that were gonna try to kill him just for being a mutant? It didn't make sense. It wasn't supposed to work that way.

Lance slunk to the floor of the destroyed locker room surrounded by the destruction their battle had wrought. He sat on the only part not covered in sharp rocks and metal, dragging his knees up to his chest so he could rest his head on them. He...he shouldn't have done it. He thought he was okay with the consequences- he thought he'd really thought it through. But hearing the sirens outside? Fighting those other people? And hearing what had to be cops coming?

He'd been wrong. So, so wrong.

He'd do anything for a second chance.

"NYPD, put your hands in the air!" The command came from the entrance to the locker room. A big man with broad shoulders, all wrapped in dark blue, stepped inside, a pistol held in Lance's direction. There was another guy with him shouting orders- he had a gun too.

"I told you to put your hands in the fucking air, freak!" The first one screamed again. "Put 'em up, now!"

Lance lifted his eyes toward them, though he didn't make a move. It was funny. He'd just fought a bunch of people with superpowers, but now that he saw those iron eyes pointed at him, he couldn't so much as lift his hands. Maybe he was just tired. Yeah...yeah, that made sense. He just needed a second to catch his breath, then he'd listen to them. Prison for life was better than dying, right? Or maybe it wasn't. He wasn't sure. He'd never been to prison before, so he couldn't really say.

"Something's wrong with him." One of the officers said, hesitating. "Should we try to cuff him?"

"Are you kidding me? Do you see what he did to this place? I'm not going anywhere near him."

"Maybe we should just shoot him."

The second paused, mulling it over. "Yeah. Maybe."

Lance snapped his eyes shut and held in his breath, preparing himself for it. He heard the shots before he felt them.

BLAM! BLAM!


They were loud. Almost as loud as that other mutant's laser. He didn't know if he was supposed to hear the guns before he felt them- that didn't sound right. But even if he was, he figured he should've been hit by now. Unless they missed?

Then he heard something hit the ground. Two somethings, actually. They sounded big, fat and meaty, like somebody had dropped a couple of steaks by accident.

Lance let his eyes flutter open in confusion, glancing up to find his would-be executors lying in pools of blood and other fluids he didn't want to identify. Each had a little red hole in the back of their head, and there was someone else standing over their corpses. Another cop, his gun pointed toward the ceiling and his other hand held out toward Lance.

"Come with me, little brother." The man said with a warm, inviting smile. "And I will keep you safe."

That was all Lance needed to hear as he reached up and took the stranger's hand.
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Hidden 7 mos ago 6 mos ago Post by Lord Wraith
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Lord Wraith Leaf on the Wind

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Hidden 7 mos ago 7 mos ago Post by DocTachyon
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DocTachyon Teenage Neenage Neetle Teetles

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New York City, NY ---The Stacy Residence




“GONNA ROCK IT UP, ROLL IT UP, HAVE A BALL, SATURDAY NIGHT!” Harry Osborn swung the mic around, doing a half-assed moonwalk and swaying his shoulders side to side as he sang.

“SATURDAY NIGHT!” Peter joined with the backing vocals, hitting each and every drum on the kit, trying to figure out their sound and keep time with the music blasting from Harry’s OsPhone.

“S-S-S-SATURDAY NIGHT!” Harry danced through the garage with a purpose, sliding around Mr. Stacy’s old chevy and just missing its side window with the bottom of the mic stand.

“S-S-S-SATURDAY NIGHT!” Peter found his rhythm, pounding the snare in beautifully discordant time with the music, banging the other drums when it seemed appropriate. The sounds clashed together in a jumble in the cramped garage, bouncing and echoing out into the street.

“S-S-S-SATURDAY NIGHT!” Harry spun on his heel and pointed to Peter. “Take it away!”

“S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y -- NIGHT!” Peter punctuated every letter with a smack of the bass drum.

“S-A-T-U- Hey! Harry’s voice cracked as his mic gave out and the sound from his OsPhone died. Mary Jane Watson glared at the boys from the mouth of the garage, silhouetted against the low light of the sunset. She spun her disconnected mic cord in a slow circle.

“We go to the 7-11 for like ten minutes, guys.” She dropped the cord as the rest of the girls filed in, Gwen Stacy, Betty Brant, and Glory Grant, arms stacked high with tremendous amounts of junk food, complete with an amount of Cheesy Puffs that was probably criminal.

“I thought it was pretty good.” Peter tried a rimshot, the stick bouncing up and off the snare drum as he nearly took out his own eye.

“Harry sounded like a dying animal, and you’re beating my drums like they owe you money.” Gwen put a heap of bursting plastic bags on the hood of the chevy and went to inspect her drum kit, pushing Peter in her stool out of the way with her foot.

“Ouch.” Harry handed MJ’s microphone over and went in for a quick kiss.

“Girl calls it like she sees it, tiger,” MJ said as she sidestepped him. They stuck their tongues out at each other and laughed, MJ tending to the band equipment while Harry went to investigate the snack situation.

Peter righted himself and stood from the stool, watching Gwen as she worked. She rubbed at all the little scuffs and marks he’d left behind in his bungling of the kit, wiping them away with the long sleeve of her dark sweatshirt. Her hair was down to her neck, pushed back by a black hairband. It brought out her eyes, Peter thought, brilliant and pale blue.

“No twizzlers? And on Osborn dime! You wound me!” Harry grabbed a bag of cheese puffs in lieu of his favorite snack and threw Peter his share.

“Your Dad could buy the twizzler corporation, Har.” The bag sailed well past his head, but Peter’s Spider Sense flashed and he snatched the bag clean out of the air, one-handed.

“Woah, Pete! Nice catch.” Harry said, through a mouthful of puffs.

“Join the football team, why dontcha.” Glory joked. She and Betty tuned their instruments, chords softly plinking off the array of cardboard boxes strewn around the basement.

“Maybe then Liz Allan would finally make a move.” Harry grinned like an idiot. Glory and Betty laughed as they plugged in their instruments, and Gwen looked down, staring intently at her snare drum. She bit her lip.

“C’mon, guys…” Peter rubbed the back of his neck.

“Girls, girls, leave the poor kid alone. Let’s jam, huh?” MJ strummed her guitar. The notes echoed out of the garage and into the street beyond. Betty and Glory plugged into their amps.

“Working on Face It Tiger?” Gwen settled into her stool as Peter and Harry pulled up cardboard boxes at the mouth of the garage, trying not to crush them with their weight.

“Hm… Let’s work on that beat you whipped up, Gwen.” MJ said.

“Rad. One two three four!” Gwen slammed her sticks together and came down on the drums like rolling thunder, the pounding pulse of the bass drum giving life to the other girls’ impromptu guitar work. MJ started on a riff and Betty and Glory followed suit, fingers dancing along the steel fiber of the guitar strings and wailing out killer chords.

“Ah ah ah ah, ah! Ah ah ah ah ah ah!” MJ vocalized as she played, belting at the notes while boys nodded their heads from the cardboard boxes. Harry started with his air guitar and Peter laughed, joining in with a pantomimed drum kit, mimicking as many of Gwen’s moves as he could. She never looked up, her eyes were closed and the music was all around her. Her hair was wild in the air as she played, sticks slamming into drums and resounding bass blasting through the garage. Her hairband bounced wildly, threatening to fling off and take out somebody’s eye as she mashed her snare and raked the rim of her high-hat in time with the beat.

***


“That was fucking legendary.” Harry jumped out of his seat and pumped his fist in the air. MJ grinned and shot a glance back at Gwen.

“Ain’t nothing without the backbeat.” MJ shot a wink to Gwen. She smiled and folded her drumsticks together, giving a little bow from her stool.

“Or lyrics, MJ.” Betty teased.

“Ah, we’ll get there when we get there.” MJ waved her off.

“You guys could write it about Spider-Man?” As soon as Peter said it, his hand shot up to cover his mouth. Crap.

“Oh, God, my dad would have a conniption.” Gwen said.

“Hey, why not? He’s hot right now, up and coming.” Harry shrugged. “You could go viral with it, or something.”

“He fought the police,” Betty interjected.

“Yeah, he gives the pigs a runaround, and then spent the next few days cleaning up the neighborhood.” MJ said.

“What about my Dad?” Gwen crossed her arms.

“Well, yknow, he’s one of the good ones. I’m sure Spidey wouldn’t touch a hair on his chinny chin chin. Probably.” Harry said. He popped a handful of cheese puffs into his mouth.

Gwen frowned. “Couldn’t it be about something more… I dunno, neutral? Like, what about Iron Man?”

“Tony Stark’s pet project, blowing people up in Transia? Great idea.” Glory rolled her eyes.

Peter put his hands up. “I mean, I just... Kinda heard it in my head. Yknow, ‘da nuh nuh nuh, da nuh nuh na, Spider-Man’… Something like that. Seems natural.”

“Anything’s possible. We’ll workshop it.” MJ adjusted the strap of her guitar and flittered between the strings with her pick. ”Another round, ladies?”

“Actually, I was hoping to talk to Pete, quick?” Gwen’s sticks clattered against the snare drum.

MJ cocked an eyebrow. “Uh… Sure. Take five.”

Gwen stood and brushed past the band. Her hands felt soft and arm as she took Peter’s arm and guided him outside the garage, bringing him to the side of the house, between the garbage and a dilapidated recycling bin. She toed it aside and leaned against the wall.

Peter swallowed. “Did… Did I piss you off with the Spider-Man thing?”

“No Pete, it’s…” She huffed. “Yknow how Spider-Man was at the Bugle a week or so ago?”

“Uh… Sure.” Peter stuck his hands in his pockets.

“Do you know what he was there for?”

Peter shrugged.

Gwen looked to both sides. She whispered, “I’m not supposed to tell anybody but, I think you should know. He was grilling Jameson about your Uncle Ben.”

“I -- what?” ... Maybe I should’ve been a little more tactful with that one. Really good at this Secret ID thing, Parker.

“I know it’s crazy but are you sure he wasn’t… I dunno, mixed up in anything?” Gwen asked.

Peter shook his head. “You’ve known Ben since we were kids!”

“I know but, my Dad says the whole department’s acting weird about it. The case keeps getting shuffled around. Lost in the bureaucracy.”

What? Peter’s hands came out of his pockets. “And you’re just telling me this now?”

Gwen hugged herself, and looked down, not meeting Peter’s eyes. “I didn’t… I didn’t want to worry you, Pete. I know you get anxious, and --”

Peter felt his fists clench and he kept them down, pressed against his sides. Goddamnit. “But I deserve to know.”

“Even I’m not supposed to know.” She looked back up at him.

“Then why tell me at all?”

“I didn’t want you to get frustrated about --”

“What? Lack of progress? Frustrated that my g-” Peter caught himself, Friend isn’t telling me anything?”

Peter saw tears in her eyes. She turned away. “I -- I’m just trying to help.”

“I gotta… I think I need to go.”

“Peter?” Gwen’s voice disappeared into the background as Peter hurried down the street. There was a black fire in him, boiling beneath the surface, Spider-Man waiting to jump out. He could feel it crawling already, begging to be put on.

No movement on the case. No closer to Tombstone. Peter's footsteps echoed across the pavement. The suit popped and fizzled, he felt it in between his muscles, rising to the surface of his skin.
Am I…? Oh my God.
I’m going to break into the NYPD.
Nuts.
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Hidden 7 mos ago 5 mos ago Post by webboysurf
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webboysurf

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Police Station, Rome, Italy - Present Day, 16:14
Issue 1.02.3: Grave of the Fireflies

Interaction(s): None


Sharon and Natasha both silently followed a rather portly individual a white lab coat, entering into a rather sterile looking metal room. Lying on a metal table in the center of the room was a covered corpse. The coroner who lead them into the room gave a nod towards the body, as if asking them to examine for themselves. His thick Italian accent made it clear he was a native. ”I am sorry about your friend. You must have a very stressful job.”

Sharon tilted her head slightly as she approached the body, moving back the linens. It revealed a body that had been clearly autopsied, but more shockingly there appeared to be a gunshot wound from the bottom of the jaw through the top of the head. She sighed as Natasha too approached and gave a nod when she noticed the wounds. ”Are you saying the cause of death was suicide?”

The coroner gave a sad sigh and nod, before beckoning for the others to follow him. He approached a computer system along the back wall, and there was a table with a tray that had a single item on it: a small electronic chip. He motioned towards it. ”It is my opinion that this victim killed himself with a single bullet through his cranium. Located at the base of his neck when performing the autopsy, we were able to find this electronic chip.”

Natasha instinctively grabbed the chip and pulled out a military grade cell phone and was able to slide the chip into a specially designed reader. She quickly tapped through her phone, analyzing the data before giving a sigh. She passed the phone off to Sharon, who looked over the data herself. ”Must have tagged himself prior to the assignment in case anything went wrong. We should be able to find their last known location, and hopefully find our target.” She turned around the begin leaving, the coroner frozen with a shocked expression on his face. Sharon just gave a polite nod in his direction before following her fellow agent.

Once outside of the station and back in the SUV, Sharon gave a worried look to her partner. ”You saw it too, didn’t you? The Mausoleum of Hadrian? Located right on the Tiber, and not far from where they washed up.”

Natasha gave a curt nod. ”We should still rendezvous with the Captain and Masters and get official orders from Fury. We don’t know what we will be facing in there, and don’t want to end up like our agents here.”
Next Chapter: Ballad of a Soldier
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Hidden 6 mos ago 6 mos ago Post by The Bork Lazer
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The Bork Lazer Chomping Time

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Getting superpowers is like a sugar high. You feel invincible. Unstoppable. You think your powers can solve all your problems, but it can’t. Maybe, you can leap tall buildings but you can’t leap over the trouble of paying your student loans. You can lift objects with your mind but it won’t help you bring back the dead. Powers, gadgets nor all the training in the world can’t solve who you are as a person.

Hero. Villain. Bad guy. Vigilante. Criminal.

We all start at the same point.





location: unknown

time: 10:45 PM

“ Goddammit!” He swore, shielding his face with a crooked elbow from a shower of electrical crackles that erupted out of the gauntlet he was currently repairing. The dropped screwdriver rolled on the ground underneath the bottom of his workbench. Searching for that later was going to be a pain in the ass.

He knew that the Kilowatt Kid would be a challenge but he’d never expected the kid to be capable of such an act. He winced at the still fresh memory of getting caught on fire. Being the WickerMan wasn’t his ideal image of an first encounter with the famed vigilante of Dakota City. His nerves still felt like they were cooking in a cauldron after what happened. The blackened, charred suit was currently sitting in the laundry to cleanse the stench of burnt polyesterized rubber. The wiring in his left gauntlet had somehow melted apart as well, ruining the mechanisms that allowed him to be the Shocker.

With a yell of frustration, he tore off the welding mask and threw it across the room. He waited for the satisfying sound of glass breaking, wood cracking, dented metal.

Only it didn’t.

The mask was held mid-air, smoky shadow intertwined around it. The single lamp in the room, responsible for providing the bulk of illumination, was snuffed out like a candle. The windows closed shut. The curtains billowed inwards as the shadows began darkening into a black fog that was swallowing whatever it touched.

“ Having a bad day, Shocker?”

Black rivers began pouring out of the shadows, forming a puddle in the middle of his floor. A featureless hand gushed out of the puddle, grabbing onto the edges between shadow and wood as something or someone hoisted themselves out. The black penumbra of darkness shifted and hardened into a form of a man with indistinguishable features, aside from a matching set of leather pants and vest. A pair of milky white pupiless eyes glared at him from the darkness that seem to choke the light out of his apartment room. Inwardly, it thought it was an overly dramatic entrance but he wouldn’t dare say that out loud to the Master of Shadows, Ebon.

“ I thought you said you’d handle it. Static. Dead. Nothing for me to worry about. ”

“ It’s a process, Ebon,” He picked up his welding mask off the floor. “ Breaking his arm was the first step. Next time, we meet. It’ll be our last.”

“ Well, Lightning Junior managed to molotov you even when you had him on the ropes.”

He turned around trembling, angrily staring at Ebon’s cold stare. The damned bastard was currently leaning back on his own couch, relaxing in his room like he’d owned every place he ever walked in.

“ Why don’t you do it yourself, then?”

Surprisingly, Ebon didn’t look like he took any offense to the question. The shadow meta merely tilted his head mockingly, looking at him like he was a child. He stood up and began to pace around the room, hands behind his back as he began recite a rehearsed speech.

“ I could, but ensuring the safety of our turf is the number one priority of my gang. I’ve learned from the gangs of the past that you don’t off someone with no planning. This requires grace. Precision. The will to see something through.” Ebon stared at him pointedly. “ There’s also the fact that killing a fellow Bang Baby would only make people question my position as leader. The Meta-Breed doesn’t kill fellow metahumans after all. We seek to promote the rights of metahumans within this city. As soon as that betrayer, Static, is out of the picture.”

He snorted. “ So, you’re making me take the fall? I thought we were partners.”

Suddenly, the shadows rushed out towards him, grabbing him by the collar and lifting him up in the air. “ We’re not partners. You can’t be part of the Meta-Breed if you’re not a metahuman.”

Shadowy shackles gripped around his arms and legs as he was forced head-first into whatever dimension Ebon inhabited. It was a whirling dense penumbra that swallowed all white and so black that it could set shadows on shadows itself.All sensation was driven from his body as he rode through nothingness for a while, screams pouring out from his mouth but no sound to make of it. Eventually, he exited the dimension. A sign of relief escaped his lips, only to notice the faint whistling of wind in his ear.

He was falling.

“ HOLY SHHIIIIIIITTTTT -”

His legs and arms were flapping uselessly in the wind. He could hear his heart thumping, his brain calculating the time it would take for him to crash to the -

A portal formed in the midst of his free-fall, sending him crashing back into the sofa of his apartment. He groaned as Ebon stood over him, arms crossed.

“ See the difference? You’re missing the meta part, Buchinsky. Without your fancy tech, you’re nothing. Remember your place and do your job. You’ll get your pay fair and square at the end. If I don’t see the Kilowatt Kid’s head on a platter in the next two days,.....” Ebon forced Larry Buchinsky’s head to look into his emotionless gaze ”..... you better start watching your shadows closely.”

Ebon walked backwards, dissolving into the walls as his lamp flickered back to life once more. The room returned to the way it was originally. Spotless, albeit with a dazed Buchinsky resting with his limbs splayed on the couch. Crap. Ebon had issued a deadline. His schedule just became even more tighter than usual. Larry palmed his face, his heart still quick as a rabbit from the sky-diving that he was involuntarily forced into, courtesy of Ebon. He palmed his face as he took out a flip-phone from his pocket. Punching in the numbers, he waited for a certain somebody he knew to pick it up.

“ Hey, Robert? You there?”

“ Buchinsky, it’s good to hear from you. Have you managed to secure those donations yet?”

Larry frowned. “ About that….I might need an extension on that deadline….”




location: hemingway high

time: 9:30 AM

5 minutes more became Virgil’s only mantra as he struggled to survive the horrible enviroment of High School Chemistry. It’d somehow transformed over the course of 4 years from Virgil’s most favourite subject to his most feared subject. Learning the course was akin to sticking your hand into boiling lava. Even Mr Schumer couldn’t salvage the downright painful nature of that which was O-Chem. Virgil stared at the slow hands of the clock as it moved at a snail’s pace towards the end of the period. Texting with Richie who was currently stuck in the battlefield of applied physics was the only way to stave off boredom.

<ElectricBandit>: so, remind again, what’s the plan to find him?”
<ThirdG3AR>: i get an IMSI, intercept calls in locations that you last saw the shocker,, we track him, we bust him whilst he’s sleeping, hand him over to the police, easy as cake
<ElectricBandit>: sounds complicated
<ThirdG3AR>: you have a better plan?
<ThirdG3AR>: besides, you wanna brute force it? you told me your powers are still recovering

That stung. Virgil flexed his fingers, jolts dancing between the joints and digits. It was a drop in the water compared to what he could do before. Summoning the electric forcefield for the first-time had locked down his reserves. Whether it was an unforeseen effect of over-using his powers -

“ So, if we oxidise 3-methyl-pentan-2-ol with acidified potassium dichromate under reflux, what product would that give-”

- Or whether his system had been permanently damaged by the explosion

“Virgil?”

- he doubted that he could even fly anymore.

“ Virgil!” Mr Schumer had only raised his voice by a few steps in pitch but it was enough to knock the air of conversation out of him.

“ Wha-? Oh. 3-methyl-pentan-2-one.”

“ Correct, but do please try to concentrate more next time.” Schumer signed, white hairs running through his scratching fingers. He looked around the entire classroom, motioning towards the calendar with a single red cross. “ I know O-Chem’s a mighty big pill to swallow, people, but you’re gonna have to swallow it if you want to get through those mid-terms….”

Most of the class shuddered at that reminder and Virgil was a part of the majority. The mid-terms were due in two month’s time and virtually every student in the school was divided into two camps. Ones who treated it normally and the others who treated it like life and death, peering through every scrap of question and past papers in a competitive mania to be the best. Virgil was in the former. Being Static made the notion of exam weeks all the much more comforting, especially after the incident that had occured in the last few days. He tangled a finger around the shoulder sling that hung around his limp right arm.

“ Alright. Class over. Do Exercise 13-14 and complete the questions I gave to you for homework.”

There was a shuffling of chairs, half-hearted nods and goodbyes as the class strode out to lunch break. Virgil stood upwards, the sling cradling his right arm as he hung one of his backpack straps to make his way out of Mr Schumer’s classroom. He began to walk out of the classroom.

“ Virgil, could you stay back a while? I need to give you back your results for the one you did yesterday.” Schumer dusted off the chalkboard, hurriedly rubbing the eraser against the stenciled white chalk.

“ Right.”

“ Do you honestly find the sound of my voice that boring, Virgil?” Schumer opened a cupboard underneath his desk, rifling through folders and stacks of paper. He looked up towards Virgil, an arched eye raised towards him. His steady fingers flipped through the numerous sheets of paper in a blur, intermittently pausing at moments to examine before continuing forth in his search for Virgil’s paper. “ Even though you’re one of the best in the class, it shouldn’t be a signal for you to nod off and rest on your laurels.”

Pulling out a creased manila folder from the cupboard, Schumer laid it on his desk and began parcelling through the contents, muttering incessantly behind his breathe. He took a sip of his mug, Virgil tasting aromatic fumes of roasted coffee as it was lifted upwards towards Schumer’s mouth. “ How’s your arm?,” Schumer didn’t look at Virgil as he asked the question.

“ Fine. It was just an accident.” Virgil rubbed the bandaged cast unconsciously. “ Shouldn’t happen again in the future.”

“ With your dominant hand, no less.” Schumer signed in concern. “ Well, you have to count your lucky stars that you didn’t suffer more serious damage. I’ve seen people who had to be amputated. Grown men twice your age.”

“ So, you’re over the age of 34, sir?”

“ You may have been my student for the last five years, Virgil, but my age is something best left out of - “ Schumer’s smile disappeared as he suddenly pinched his nose. “ Ah, I left it in the teacher’s room. You can stay here. I’ll run and go get it.”

Schumer made his way out of the classroom, shutting the door with a light click. Virgil signed as he peered around Schumer’s classroom for a while. Unlike other teachers in Hemingway, Schumer made the effort of at least decorating his room. Project posters, diagrams and sets of old newspaper clippings on various scientific discoveries such as Hamilton’s innovations in xeno-mineral analysis or Stone’s synthesis of new cybernetic materials. He eventually spotted one of his old 8th grade projects that he did on electrochemistry. The water glue that held the entire ensemble together was beginning to fall apart and it looked garish and horrible now compared to how he held it up as an artistic achievement back in his early junior years. A positive and negative symbol were written side to side, guarding the word “ELECTROLYSIS”. The universal designations for charge.

Virgil stood around awkwardly, bag on the floor and waiting for Mr Schumer to return with his test report. There was a half-written document on Schumer’s monitor. He leaned forth towards it but held back the reins on his curiosity.

He shouldn’t.

Virgil stared at the clock. 3 minutes since he last left the classroom. Nobody to see him around…..

He really shouldn’t.

Virgil looked around, making sure the coast was clear as he stepped forth towards Schumer’s computer. Squinted eyes perused the contents of the half-baked Times New Roman scrawl.

Dear Principle

Please accept this letter as a formal notice of my resignation as Chemistry Teacher of Hemingway High School. I propose that my last day of employment will be 20th April. I would like to thank the staff of Hemingway High School for allowing me the opportunity to work in this position for the last 8 years. It has been an honour…………

In his shock, Virgil jostled one of the cupboards open with his feet as he bumped into the table. One of the bottom cupboards creaked open and a flash of yellow caught his eyes. Ignoring it, Virgil shook his head, stepping back away from Schumer’s desk and turned away from an illusion he had to believe. April 20th. 3 weeks away from now. Why? Why would he be typing it up? His mind fell back to the flash of yellow, beam of light shining at him from the window. He stepped back towards the desk and leaned down.

He pulled it an inch open.

Yellow fabric.

His fingers trembled with every small yank.

He could make out a soldering iron.

He pulled it out all the way.

A yellow rubberized mask. That of the Shocker.

His right arm began to ache once more.




Honing in on a single radio signal would have once been hard before the Big Bang. The sheer volume of electromagnetic signals. Dakota’s electrical budget was notoriously fickle with blackouts and power outages being considered a weekly event. The lack of traffic meant that there was only one moving radio signal per street. Virgil capitalised on that as soon as Mr Schumer - the Shocker left the school building, whistling and driving off in his Toyota Corolla. Watching the vehicle move in his senses was akin to watching a firefly in the dark, an interconnected web of radio and phone signals trailing behind its wake.

It infuriated him about how easily he could have taken down the Shocker if he was at full strength. He could have lifted his car in the air like a toy, shorted out the man’s engine or just simply stun him with a simple shock. A silver lining was that his dwindling reserves had regenerated enough to the point where he was able to surf, albeit at a slower past than he was used to. He poured an inkling of more power into the manhole, changing it from the speed of a bobbing lifeboat to that of a half-tank motorcycle. Dying bolts of faded blue dripped from the bottom of his surfboard as Static kept a patient pursuit on the Shocker.

Eventually, the signal stopped cold half a kilometer away, in a block of apartments that was on the outskirts of Utopia. He passed by rows upon rows of mansions, luxurious apartments and streets where the drains weren't inundated and filled with the shedding of trees. The city had poured generous amounts of coffers into sustaining Utopia as an high-end urban locale. It was located far away from Hemingway or any of the inner city districts, reserved for only those who could cough up enough money to escape the sight of the Black Hole.

Schemer's car was parked on the outside of a gated residential district. It wasn't that surprising that the Shocker would live here after all. He'd got out already. Virgil was currently looking at the concrete wall outside of the gated neighborhood, a plan forming in his mind. Knocking out all of the security cameras would be impossible if he couldn't find a outlet that connected to the main electricity supply. Although, generating static electricity to scale over wouldn't be that diffi -

" Don't appreciate you following me home. "

Virgil whipped his head around wildly in the afternoon sun, hands raised and hissing electric smoke, only to receive what felt like a stiff punch to the back. He hit the grassy lawn face-first, dirt in his nostrils, as he struggled to get up. A heel on his forehead planted his groaning face back into the ground, scrunching him against the earthen soil. His casted right arm complained to him under the pressure.

“ You know, when you’re a distinguished career criminal, you spot things that most people don’t usually notice,” A hand grasped him by his dread-locks, raising his face up from the dirt and forcing him to look at another. "Damn, these heroes are getting younger by the second. You don't even look a day past eighteen." Schumer's - The Shocker's calloused hand grasped him by the collar of his suit, pulling it up by the crooks of his fingers. Schumer tilted his head curiously as he stared at Virgil's face pensively, and then, looked down towards his broken arm. His left hand began to move toward Virgil's goggles, intending to pry them off his face. Virgil began squirming and bucking like a fish on dry land, stopping as something cold and metallic was pressed against the bottom of his chin, a hair breadth's away from a death threat.

" Stop squirming and stay put."

He was pointing the butt-end of a metal gauntlet under his chin warningly. It was constructed differently to the one he faced yesterday. It was old. Weathered. From another place in another century. A series of large ringed vacumn tubes were connected to a miniturised power pack on the back of the Shocker's shirt. The Shocker slowly unstrapped the googles off Virgil's face, throwing them to the side. Virgil trembled as he lowered his eyes towards the mishandled googles on the ground and then, back at Schumer's surprised face.

" Virgil?," Schumer took a step backwards, dropping Virgil onto the ground.

" What, Shocker?" Virgil spat out the words towards him. " You don't recognize me from two days ago when you broke my arm?"

" Two days ago?" Schumer's face suddenly became ashen as he turned his back to Virgil and starting muttering to himself, swaying side to side in a world of his own " He actually did it. I'd never thought he'd actually find out a way to use my equipment. Of all the stupid, asinine things I had to reject, just one more job - "

Wait. What? Virgil slowly stood up in confusion as Schumer continued to mutter in a quick furtive tone in front of him. Was this the same man that he'd faced? The man who'd broken his arm? The man who had his eye set on killing him. Stepping cautiously out towards him, Virgil jumped in front of Schumer's face, trying to get his attention.

" Hold up. Hold up. Who's he?"

" The man who stole my suit." Schumer whispered faintly. There was a pregnant pause of silence. He then glanced towards Virgil. " I know you're confused right now but I'll explain everything. I promise. "

Virgil just stayed stock, looking at Schumer as if he was a madman. He raised his hands upwards, veins glowing blue, towards Schumer.

Schumer signed and then, detached the gauntlet from his hand." I know you don't trust me, so, in return for finding out your secret identity, I'll suppose I'll return the favor."

The man Virgil once believed as a harmless chemistry teacher and a dangerous criminal gave a chuckle. " My name isn't Harry Schumer. My real name was Herman Schultz and I was the Shocker. The original Shocker."

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Velinsky, Trasnia
Present Day

Issue #2.01
𝗪𝗢𝗡𝗗𝗘𝗥 𝗪𝗢𝗠𝗔𝗡

It was a few days since the news that the US Senate announced a committee with the task of dealing with metahumans. Today was when the Senators started their work with interviewing some key witnesses. Wonder Woman didn't believe that they actually planned on using her as a scapegoat. While they weren't going after the real dangers of society. Regardless, she still planned on protecting innocents caught between conflicts. That was why the World Veterans Federation announced their plan to beside S.H.I.E.L.D. to providing aid to the victims. Then, she heard about Iron Man's demise at the hands of Yuri Petrovich and his personal Iron Men. She soon saw the footage of Petrovich holding Iron Man's helmet and became angry enough to rush ahead.

"No more," Diana told herself while thinking about him and other heroes that died for a good cause.

Eventually, she found herself above Velinsky and saw citizens fleeing towards Sokovia. Petrovich's soldiers had been raiding the town for a while. One of the groups rushed towards an apartment complex while several residents retreated back into the building. A young soldier pulled out a Molotov Cocktail and planned on using it to lure the civilians out. Wonder Woman tried to prevent him from throwing it, but the other soldiers opened fire at her. She used her bracelets to block the bullets before landing nearby the complex. Then, she pulled out her shield and advanced forward; however, the young soldier threw the Molotov and joined in the firefight.

The flames started the spread at an alarming rate and Wonder Woman knew that the civilians needed her help. And that meant ending this battle. She charged towards one of the men and bashed him with the shield. Before he had time to react, Wonder Woman pulled out her sword and swung strong enough to decapitate him. The other soldiers cried out in horror while running away. They were smart enough to flee instead of dying. Of course, she wished that nobody died; but, she learned the hard way decades ago to never hesitate. Especially when somebody wants her dead.

After the brief fight, Wonder Woman's full attention was on the burning complex. She ran towards it as several citizens escaped in time. One of them, a young woman, ran towards her and grabbed Diana in an attempt to implore for her help. "Please save my fiance! He hasn't returned since he went back in to save our cat. You have to save them!" the woman pleaded in Trasnian.

"I will," Diana responded in Trasnian and sprinted towards the complex. Once inside, she saw a few more citizens escaping from the flames. Wonder Woman climbed up the stairs until she saw a white cat nearby its owner which wasn't responding to its meows. She ran towards them and saw that the owner was knocked unconscious, but his right leg was bleeding. Knowing that cats always land on their legs and survive without injury, she grabbed the cat and broke open a window. Diana dropped the cat over the trash to soften the landing. After that, she went towards the man and slowly picked him up to not break anything else.

Meanwhile, the young woman witnessed as Wonder Woman carried her fiance outside and carefully placed him on the ground. The white cat came out of the trash and started walking towards its owners. The woman went towards him and began to thank Wonder Woman for saving them. Diana nodded and heard more gunfire in the distance. She turned towards the crowd and ordered, "Go towards the border! People are waiting on the other side that can help you."

The crowd started to make their way towards the border while some of them offered to carry the husband. Wonder Woman flew off towards the sound of a firefight. She needed to stop Petrovich's men from destroying the town and restore order.



Controversial book about Wonder Woman to be released on Friday
By Samson Cohen.
Updated 1:32 PM ET, Monday.


The book, titled, "Wonder Woman: Untold Stories of The First Superhero," will shine a light on the Diana Prince's controversies throughout her time as Wonder Woman. However, Emmett Mueller told Fox News that his book wasn't influenced by the Senate committee. In a statement, Muller said that the book was made for "the sole purpose of enlightening civilians about Wonder Woman and how she isn't a perfect hero." Despite the statement, his publisher said that the book will be released this Friday.

Mueller is a well known anti-metahuman activist, historian, and now, an author. In the statement, he also said that the book has been in the works for three years now. And how he has been working on books about Captain America, Black Lightning, and Wildcat. His publisher, however, declined to comment on the matter. Meanwhile, both Wonder Woman and the World Veteran Federation haven't responded yet. A spokeswoman for the organization said that Wonder Woman is currently busy working with WVF and S.H.I.E.L.D. to help victims in Trasnia.


Washington, D.C. // Present

Emmett Mueller had been waiting for ten minutes in the lobby of Empire Enterprises to have a meeting with the CEO, Veronica Cale. He had an idea why he was there, and it involved his upcoming book about Wonder Woman. It wasn't a coincidence that one of the biggest media companies in the country took an interest in him while the committee started their work on the same individual. Now, he was sitting around while the office secretary was answering the phone and taking notes. Mueller heard his phone buzzing and pulled it out of his pocket to see that his publisher messaged him a few seconds ago.

Nobody knew that he was going to Empire Enterprises. Thankfully, Mueller saw that Cale opened her office doors and escorted a few people out. She walked towards him and kindly said, "Mr. Mueller, it is nice to finally meet you in person."

"You too, Miss. Cale." Mueller responded and made his way to the office with Cale following behind. "To be frank, I know the reason behind this trip is because of my book about Wonder Woman. You weren't the first person to call me today."

"I appreciate your boldness, Muller." Cale honestly said as she was sitting down on her chair. She pressed a button on her desk to turn the massive window behind her into a flat screen. It was on C-SPAN and showing US Senator Calvin Swanwick reading a piece of Priscilla Rich's biography regarding her life as the first Cheetah during and after World War II. She retired after her last battle with Wonder Woman nearly left her paralyzed in the late 1960s. Rich was unofficially succeeded by Sebastian Ballesteros, who went on a rampage across South America in the 70s and 80s. "And that's what this enterprise needs. Boldness and honestly. I know that you're with a smaller publisher, but we are willing to do whatever it takes to convince you to end that relationship."

"What's your offer?"

"It's simple. Edward Publishing will ensure that your book ends up on the New York Times Best Sellers and major bookstores across the nation. You will be paid double whatever your current publisher offered. And we will allow you to start working on your second book about Captain America. What do you say?" Cale extended her hand out in the hopes that Mueller accepted the deal.

Mueller thought about it for a moment and knew it was a better deal; yet, he felt like there was a catch. And he knew what it was. "You want me to add something about the committee?" he asked while pointing at the television.

"Well, there will be a big bonus if you did. Now, do you accept the offer?"

Without any delay, Mueller grabbed Cale's hand and shook on it. The deal was accepted with thirty-six hours to complete a new epilogue regarding the committee and the future of Wonder Woman. And after further talks, Mueller left Empire Enterprises satisfied about his trip to Detroit. His phone rang out loud and saw that his former publisher was calling him. He answered and listened to them yelling in his ear for not responding sooner. He tolerated it for a while longer until it was too enough and said calmly, "I have enough of our business and found a better opportunity."

Then, he ended the call before they could respond to the announcement.


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Location: Central City - Present Day
Post #1.01: Your guiding S.T.A.R

Interaction(s): None
Previously: Eddie Thawne


"Thawne" The older man of the group spoke, softly as the machines beeping in the background. He was leaning on the cane he used for a crutch as, his dark features in his face had grown ever so more apparent in the past few months - it’s what having your life’s work falling apart will do for you. He looked over at the 25 year old victim of a lightning strike the night of the particle accelerator. And he knew. He knew that this man was special.

He was the one. The one universally good thing about this whole mess, the saving grace of his mistake. A happy accident, as it were. He limped out of the room in the basement of the facility, into the room with his colleges - or rather, the ones whom had stuck around. The Central City division of S.T.A.R labs was now a disgraced household, it had lost all of it’s stature and if it wasn't for the donors who paid enough money to keep the lights on, they’d been closed down long ago. But someone with extraordinarily deep pockets still thought in their mission, that they were the ones who could fix the mess they started. 1400 people died that night, and metahuman activity in the city has gone up by 600% in the past two months, directly following the release of the dark matter into the city.

People are changing, and with most, it’s not for the better. The powers brings out the worst in so many of those affected. It’s truly a waste of potential. The Doctor pondered as he met the gaze of his far younger partner. "Cisco.." He greeted him and shook his hand, as Cisco had a faint smile on his lips.

"Tina recommended that we pray for a miracle, Dr. Wells."

Wells scoffed, but as he was about to lecture the young engineer on why miracles have no place in science, they were interrupted by a shadow behind them.
It was him
"I did not think prayers carried much weight in your circles." The strained, shirtless man whom had ripped all of the tubes and nodes off him said, leaning against the wall, clearly strained. Strained, tired and exhausted. But, he was awake. He had a slight smirk on his face.

"Holy crap, he’s alive." Cisco gasped, and Wells smiled as he walked towards the no longer comatose Thawne.

”Welcome back to the world of the living, Edward Thawne." Patting him on the shoulder.

"Hungry. Like I haven’t eaten in months." Eddie responded, and Wells scoffed.

"4 months. You haven’t eaten anything in 4 months, Mr. Thawne." Cisco chuckled.

"You must be starving, then." Cisco chimed in, handing Thawne the box of donuts that sat on the desk he had been working at. Thawne scarfed them down in an instant, his expression asked for more, and Cisco pointed towards the sign behind him that said 'kitchen' and pointed to the right.




Thawne had been given a S.T.A.R Sweatshirt to cover himself with as he was finishing up his meal in the kitchen, Wells and Cisco were both staring in awe.

"That.. That’s how many calories?" Cisco questioned, shaking his head in disbelief
Wells grinned softly and adjusted his glasses.

"That’s about 60,000 calories. I see that we miscalculated the affects the dark matter had on his metabolism. By a few thousand percent.." The doctor said smiling softly, nursing a cup of tea with his one hand, leaning on the cane with his other.

"What happened to you, anyway?" Eddie asked, nodding at the cane, and Wells scoffed.

”Lightning didn't hit us all that night. When the accelerator exploded, I got hit with a piece of debris that severely damaged my spine and hip. Cisco here built me a mechanical replacement hip, but we sadly can’t do much about the spine being damaged, so, I’m stuck with this.” He tapped his hip and then his cane.

"That’s quite unfortunate. But, hey, at least it isn't a wheelchair, right?" Eddie said with a grin and Wells nodded, solemnly.

"There is always that, yes. We theorized the dark matter affected you in more ways than just making you hungry. Would you kindly follow me outside?" Wells asked, looking at Cisco and Thawne, Cisco smiled and grabbed some a camera.

"I mean, I guess. What do you mean?" Thawne asked, a smirk creeping up onto his face, but he quickly changed his facial expression back to the questioning look he had the moment before.

Wells directed Thawne to a pair of sneakers as they approached the door to the now empty fenced off parking lot behind S.T.A.R Labs. Thawne put them onto his bare feet and walked outside, holding his hand in front of his forehead as he was hit with the sunlight for the first time in a very long time.

"We believe that the drugs in your system, combined with the electric shock and dark matter altered you biochemistry. And your enhanced metabolism proves that hypothesis quite nicely. But, like I said, I don't think that's all the effects. I believe you've become fast. Impossibly fast, Edward."

"You mean to tell me that the heroin in my body when I got sparked by my toaster made me an olympic sprinter?"

"There is only one way to find out, Mr. Thawne. You ready, Cisco?" And Cisco gave the thumb up, having setup the camera.
"See the fence over there? That's exactly 200 meters. I want you to sprint, as fast as you can there." Thawne blinked.

"I haven't really ran that much since high school, I don't think I'm gonna impress anyone." Thawne said with a slight scoff, and Wells smiled.

"I think you'll surprise us, Edward."

Eddie looked towards the fence, and sparks starting buzzing in his eyes, and soon the lightning trailed across his body, all the way to the ground, and as his foot left the asphalt, it felt like the world stopped, completely. He might have induced his coma himself, but it actually, truly, felt good to run again. A subsonic boom occurred and the back draft made Cisco's hair blow in the wind and Wells almost lost his balance. Cisco let out a triumphant Woo as he read the reading on the camera.

"Hell yeah, Man! That's Mach 1! You just cleared 200 meters in a little more than half a second!" Clapping his hands, Wells clapped his hand against his shoulder.

"Congratulations, Edward. You're a metahuman. You might just be the fastest man alive. Let's do some more tests." Wells suggested as Thawne came walking back, grinning.
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...Reports indicate that Wonder Woman has moved in to aid refugees in the war torn state of Trasnia after the broadcast from the leader of the Crimson March, Yuri Petrovich, announced the death of Iron Man by his so called ‘Iron Men’. So far the W.V.F and S.H.I.E.L.D are setting up support centres on the Sokovian border, and are working on a screening process on allowing refugees into the neighbouring country.
Previously on Iron Man



THE MARIA STARK - PACIFIC OCEAN
"Men of Iron”




Former Colonel James ‘Rhodey’ Rhodes was a heavy sleeper. In the military you had to be, having served on active bases in the middle east he had grown accustomed to being able to fall asleep with the sounds of aircraft, vehicles and even gunfire raging in his ears. That said, another trick the military taught you was how to get up and go. So as his shoulder was shaken, he bolted upright instantly awake and alert to his surroundings. The fake Tony stood leaning over him, a look of ‘concern’ on his face. If the machine was actually possible of feeling concern was a question better left for the philosophers.

“Ugh…” Rhodey shook the sleep out of his eyes. “Whaddya want Tony?He still hated calling the machine by the name of his best friend, but he figured that if he was going to keep up the act it was best to also call him ‘Tony’ in these private moments when it was just the two of them. Made him less likely to slip up during their more public appearances.

“I have an urgent message from Mister Stark, Sir.” Okay that was different, this was official business. He swung his feet to hang over the edge of the beed so he was in a sitting position. Nodding at the android, robot, thing, as a signal to it that it should continue. “Mister Stark enabled protocols within my programing in the rare event that he loses contact with the main Stark Industries server.” The LMD stretched its hand out, palm flat pointed up towards the roof of the cabin. A small hologram head of Tony appeared, it was a little disconcerting seeing the two heads of Tony side by side. The ‘real’ one wasn’t even the one that was physically present.

When did his world get so weird?

“Rhodey. If you’re watching this, well. I don’t quite know what’s happened, I may be a futurist but I try not to dwell on the idea that I may go missing.” The holographic Tony sighed. “The Iron Man armour is an incredible feat of technology, a weapons platform the likes of which the world has never seen. A suit of my active armour, meaning I’m in it, or at least was, has gone offline and J.A.R.V.I.S has lost contact with me. This is probably not a good thing. Once this recording is over LMD5 will play any news footage that it finds that could possibly relate to this. I need you to do something for me Rhodey, it’s probably the biggest favour I’ve ever asked for. Below wherever you’re sleeping, is a briefcase. Inside it is the Mark five, it has limited fight and flight capabilities but will easily get you back to my house. From there J.A.R.V.I.S will direct you.” A hand appeared in the hologram as Tony rubbed his temple. “I need you to find the suit Rhodey. Hopefully you’ll find me with it, the important thing is the suit. In the wrong hands I don’t want to think what someone could do with my technology. Please Rhodey.” The hologram flickered out.

The TV in the corner started to play media footage from Trasnia. The announcement from Petrovich, footage of Iron Man flying over Europe, news of Wonder Woman's involvement. While it played Rhodey reached below his bed and pulled out the case. Sitting it on his knees he was surprised by how light it was. Especially if it contained what the holographic Tony had said it did. As the news footage stopped the LMD moved again, and it wasn’t until now that Rhodey had realised how deathly still it had been.

“Simply place the suitcase on the ground, and your foot in the centre. It will then open up, two handles will appear. Pull it up onto your chest and the suit will sort itself out from there. Once you leave I will send out a mayday, and scuttle the ship.” That set off alarm bells.

“What about the party girls that Tony sent aboard?” The impish grin that he was used to seeing Tony boast appeared on the face of the LMD.

“There are no actual guests. Everyone on this vessel, other than yourself, is an LMD. Mister Stark just felt like you could use a vacation, and felt like this cover would be the easiest way to get you to accept.”

Rhodey shook his head as he placed the suitcase on the ground, taking a deep breath as he prepared himself to ‘suit up’ as Tony liked to call it. “You’re lucky you’re not the real Tony, or I’d slap you right now.”

“Yes I know Sir, good luck.”




CRIMSON MARCH HEADQUARTERS - TRASNIA


He was upside down. That was the first thing Tony noticed as he regained some semblance of consciousness. His head pounding, ankles aching from where they were latched onto the wall. As he opened his eyes he struggled to focus on anything, everything was blurry and had an element of haze. His breathing hard and laboured, he could see the thin mist form as he breathed out. Wherever he was it was cold, and from the smell it was damp. As his vision began to focus he realised that part of the problem with seeing his surrounds was simply that it was dark. He could faintly make out the details of old brick and cobble, he was literally in a dungeon.

This was just, brilliant. Trying to pull himself up pain erupted in his chest, and he had to drop himself back down. His back hitting the wall and sending new flares of pain throughout his entire body. He wasn’t too sure how long it had been since his fight, but he obviously hadn’t had time to heal. At least not fully. He moved his hands to cover his eyes as a door creaked open, the light stunning him slightly. As his eyes adjusted he saw a flash of red before the door was promptly closed.

As the main approached Tony realised just how far off the ground he was, when the man approaching barely had to stoop down in order to come face to face with Tony. The smell of alcohol reeked and rolled off his breath, which only made Tonys headache worse. This was probably the longest he had been without a drink in a very long time. His stomach lurched as the man spoke, the stench of alcohol nearly making him throw up. Had there been anything within his stomach to throw up.

“Tony Stark-” Tony couldn’t remember much from just before his capture. Though that voice was unmistakable, that of the butcher of Trasnia. Yuri Petrovich.“It is so nice to finally meet you in person.”The man grabbed the back of Tonys head, pulling him forward. Tony resisted the urge to scream, groaning as the pain flared throughout him, synapses firing and exploding in his head as his body protested the movement. “We have much work to do.”




”... trouble continues to befall Stark Industries after the death of Iron Man, as the boat of their CEO Tony Stark was attacked today by unknown terrorists. A mayday was received by authorities, however while the wreckage of the ship has been found no bodies were recovered. Authorities are said to be treating this as an abduction, likely relating to the Iron Man weapon. Acting CEO of Stark Industries Obadiah Stane has released comment that he will provide authorities anything that they need to help recover those missing due to the attack, and gives assurances that the company is as strong and secure as ever. Now, over to Christian Everheart who’s in Italy, where all they can talk about is the Helicarrier that fell from the sky…”
WHiH News
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In … The Beast Within: Pt. VI

Kitimat, British Columbia

“Ah, you have finally surrendered to the beast within,” Omega Red said a satisfied smile. “Good, I want every ounce of your rage.”

Logan wasted no time in providing him with it. He was on the Russian in half a second, claws plunged deep into his stomach, snarling as he sent them deeper and deeper into Red’s innards. Grey blood came spluttering from the Russian’s mouth. For a moment he looked hurt, but an unsettling smile appeared on his face and he began to laugh. His huge hands wrapped around Logan’s forearms and pulled the claws free from his stomach with ease.

Omega Red sent a vicious headbutt in Logan’s direction. It cracked against his nose and sent blood screaming down his face. Another headbutt, then another, until both Red and Logan’s brains were rattling around in their skulls with all the force of a thousand car crashes. Dazed, the feral Logan managed to dodge the last one at the latest possible second and bit down hard on the Russian’s throat. His mouth filled with blood.

This time the Russian was forced backwards. A hand shot up to his neck to measure the damage of the wound. HIs grey torso was covered in blood and the deep stab marks where Logan had rended the flesh from his stomach. The cuts began to heal as the two men engaged once more. A tentacle sent careening towards Logan’s thigh was parried by a wild swipe of his claws and the mutant was within inches of gouging Omega Red’s eyes when he felt the other tentacle wrap around his leg.

Logan felt the life force being sapped out of him as the grey-skinned man lifted him off the ground. He was dangling upside down, howling as he tried to cut himself loose from the tentacle. His adamantium claws scratched in vain against the carbonadium whilst the Russian watched on in delight. Once the scene no longer amused him, he smashed Logan against the ground until the short mutant was bloodied and derious. Logan clawed desperately at the ground with each smash, hoping to latch onto something that might give him respite from the monstering.

The onslaught ended with a bang. Logan’s world became still for a moment and though he was dangling upside down he made out the shape of Heather MacNeil in the distance. She had been tending to Hudson’s wounds since the fight began, and his once-grey skin seemed to have regained some of its life, and now it seemed she wanted to exact some revenge of her own. Even in his feral state, Logan felt fear as the redhead sent shell after shell in the Russian’s direction.

Omega Red laughed. This is what it has come to, Weapon X? You must have a woman … this widow to fight your battles for you?”

With frightening ease, Logan was tossed aside into the fir trees. He heard the tree trunks breaking and branches lashing his skin but the adrenaline coursing through his body had dulled him to the pain. He heard the sound of Omega Red taunting MacNeil over the shotgun fire and the dull, wet sound of the pellets tearing through the Russian’s skin with little effect. Among the carnage, Logan was even able to make out the sudden click from the now-emptied shotgun. He sprinted over jagged rocks, his bare feet now torn and bloody, and burst through the trees just in time to see Red send a nasty punch in MacNeil’s direction. It sent her sliding halfway down the hill back towards the cabin.

"You son of a bitch," Logan roared as he charged at the Russian with his claws primed for action. "I'm going ... I'm going to kill you."

This time Red seemed faster than before. His punches came quicker, the tentacles were harder to evade, but Logan swiped again and again, keeping the Russian at bay and inflicting what damage he could. For each claw that tore away Omega Red’s skin, his tentacles would lash two chunks of Logan’s away. He was unsure how long they had been fighting, it could have been hours, but he knew he couldn’t keep up the pace. Red was too strong. His healing factor was working overtime fighting Red's attempts to sap his life force. The wounds that once would have healed in minutes were failing to do so.

Worse still, Logan’s foe seemed to sense that he was weakening. He pushed his advantage, picking up the pace with a sadistic grin. There would be no winner to this fight, there could be no winner, only one man that outlasted the other. And it became clear that man would not be Logan. Rage as he did, sending combinations of furious swipes that tore skin and muscle from Omega Red, the Russian would not be cowed. His tentacles ensnared Logan, choking and lashing him, until finally all strength left the mutant’s decimated form.

Logan fell to his knees covered in unspeakable gashes and wounds. The grey skin of Omega Red was near jet black where his blood caked onto his skin. His straw-like hair was a mess of matted fur and the bandana he wore to keep it back had long since been lost. He stood over Logan in judgement, grabbing a handful of his hair and tugging his head backwards. There was a look on the Russian’s face that Logan couldn’t quite place until he opened his mouth to speak.

It was disappointment.

“What’s this? You yield so easily? Nyet, this cannot be. You are not the Weapon X I fought before. It is impossible. That Weapon X destroyed the carbonadium synthesizer and condemned me to a life of suffering without a moment’s hesitation.”

The words meant nothing to Logan. He had never seen the Russian before, he had no idea why he kept referring to him as Weapon X, or what a carbonadium synthesizer was. All he knew was that James Hudson had given him refuge, had tried to teach him how to be a man again, and when he needed him the most he had let him down. The rage in Logan’s stomach started to ebb away as he heard Heather MacNeil’s tears in the distance. She was cradling Hudson, whose faint heartbeat seemed to synchronise with Logan losing consciousness. The mutant’s eyes drooped shut and his limbs began to grow heavy with defeat.

A vicious slap from Omega Red snapped him back to life. “Where is he? It’s this man I want to face, not this ... whimpering coward.”

A barrage of noise that sounded like a locomotive engine came charging through the trees. With each bang, the Russian staggered backwards, and small, deep holes in his torso appeared. Logan fell to the ground with a thud. He groaned and used his elbows to push himself up just in time to see a red-haired man in a garish yellow shirt appear from out of the brush. He had a handgun in each hand that seemed loaded with a special kind of ammunition designed to cause maximum damage to Omega Red.

“Logan might be a no-good, yellow-bellied son of a bitch, Arkady, but he’s our no-good, yellow-bellied son of a bitch, and we don’t take kindly to other people beating on him.”

A strong hand reached down and pulled Logan to his feet as easily as if he were a child. “Speak for yourself, Flag.”

Flag grinned and released another barrage of gunfire in Omega Red’s direction. The Russian roared in pain and staggered backwards again, using his forearms to try and shield himself from the damage the bullets were causing. Logan watched in awe and then turned to face the man that had helped him to his feet. He was almost blinded by the dangerous set of pearly white canines that greeted him.


“What’s wrong, runt?” Sabretooth said with a laugh that sent a shiver down Logan’s spine. “Aren’t you happy to see your old pal, Victor?”
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Byrd Man El Hombre Pájaro

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The East End
1:45 PM


Alfred climbed out of the ZipTrip and paid for the fare with his phone. The driver mumbled his thanks before speeding off. Alfred didn’t blame the man for his quick retreat. This particular part of the East End had a reputation as the worst of the worst. It reminded Alfred of Dutch Hill’s notoriety before he and Phillip moved into the brownstone, before gentrification turned the gutted neighborhood into an upper middle class bastion.

He started down the sidewalk with his hands in his pockets and his eyes watchful. Row houses made up every home on this block. A few were abandoned with boarded up windows and doors while most were dilapidated on the point of being declared condemned. Only a few were well maintained by owners or renters who still had civic pride. Each step down the block took Alfred back in time to Brixton. The East End and even Dutch Hill twenty years ago couldn’t hold a bloody candle to the Brixton of Alfred’s childhood.

The type of boys and men who ran with the Brixton mobs were animals. They could smell weakness, they sought out those that were different and punished them for it. They knew something was different about Alfred, the same way he knew for years that something was different, something he couldn't pinpoint until he finally did. They would chase him down and call him ponce and poofter as they beat him bloody. He learned to fight back, but he was always outnumbered. He would get his licks in and win a battle or two, but they would always win the war. For Alfred joining the Royal Marines was as much about escape from Brixton as it was any career or patriotic calling.

“You up?”

Alfred blinked when he heard the voice. It brought him back to reality. Lost in thought, he had walked down the block on autopilot and ended up in front of two kids standing on the street corner. Drug dealers, he assumed, with clothing too nice and expensive for kids on this side of tome. Neither of the boys looked older than fifteen.

“Yo,” the boy’s friend repeated. “You up, unc?”

“‘Fraid not, gents,” he said sheepishly.

The sound of his voice sent the two boys into fits of laughter.

“Yoooo, check this nigga out. This motherfucker on some shake-a-spear shit.”

“Just passing through is all,” said Alfred, his hands out. “Not looking for trouble.”

“Well too fucking bad, my nigga,” one of the boys hissed. He pulled up his shirt to reveal a gun tucked into the waistband of his jeans. “Because you sure as fuck found trouble.”

It would be very easy, Alfred surmised. He was older than them by nearly forty years but they were soft. They were children play acting in a gangster farce. It would almost be comical if not for the gun. The boy with the weapon had probably never fired the thing. And even if he had the very idea of proper firearm handling and form would be foreign to him. He could disarm him in as few as two moves, disable both him and his friend in another three, and go about his business.

“Hey,” a voice called out.

Another boy emerged from the bodega across the street and walked over with a sub and soda in hand. He looked to be about the same age as the other two, but there was a difference. He had the quiet confidence of command. The other boys were playing a part, a part he seemed to actually be living. If it was indeed an act, thought Alfred, then it was a fine performance.

“Tree, Mac, the fuck is you doing?”

“Tre, We’re just--” one of the boy started sheepishly.

Tre held his free hand up to silence the boy. “I gave you two jobs: serve customers and keep the count straight. This old nigga look like a fiend to you, Mac?”

The one called Mac shrugged and looked at his feet.

“Guess not,” said Tre. He turned his attention to Alfred and gave the older man a cold look. “If you ain’t coping get the fuck on before something bad happen to you.”

Alfred walked away without another word. He could feel the eyes of the kids on him as he walked. He finally found the house he was searching for at the end of the block. It was one of the few row houses still in good condition. It looked to him as if it had been maintained regularly, but whoever was responsible for the work had fallen off and a decline was in progress. He rapped softly at the door and waited before it opened just a crack.

“Alfie?”

“In the flesh.”

The door opened wider. Alfred smiled at the sight of the old woman with the wide grin.

“Didi,” said Alfred.

The two shared a warm embraced before Alfred followed her into the house.

“I heard years ago that you moved to America,” Didi said with a thick African accent. “But I had no idea you were so close. Why in the world would someone choose to live in Gotham?”

“Same reason you did, Didi,” said Alfred. “Family. Phillip was born and raised here and we were both tired of dreary old Europe.”

Alfred noticed the walls of the house were a testament of a life well-lived. Pictures of a much younger Didi Walde, a group photo of her with the Ethiopian delegation to the United Nations, a few with the heads of state of various countries. Her and her husband, her and her son, a young boy Alfred assumed was a grandson. There was one photo that stopped him in his tracks: Didi with a much younger and slimmer Captain Pennyworth one one side, and Petty Officer Wayne on the other.

“How is Phillip?” asked Didi.

“He passed,” said Alfred. He shook his head and flashed a smile when he saw the look on Didi’s face. “It's okay. It happened quite some time ago. It was very peaceful. And Samson?”

“Heart attack five years ago this July.”

Didi sank into a chintz armchair while Alfred found the sofa next to her.

"I miss him every day."

Alfred reached out and took Didi's hand into his. “I didn’t know Samson very well. He was a quiet fellow, but he seemed to be a good man.”

“He was,” mumbled Didi. “If he wasn't we wouldn't have been together for forty years. As for Phillip, I knew he was a good man. If I may ask… is there anyone else?”

“Heavens no,” said Alfred. “After his death I focused on helping to raise his -- our -- nephew, Bruce. I just… never had a desire to seek someone else.”

“You’re still young." Didi raised an eyebrow when she saw Alfred was about to protest. "Younger than me, at least.”

“I know.” A small smile formed on Alfred’s lips. “But what I had with Phillip was so right, I couldn’t hope to duplicate it.”

“And you never will,” said Didi. “But you can try.”

Alfred chuckled. “Surely you didn’t look me up out of the blue after thirty years to inquire about my love life?”

“No,” Didi said softly. She pulled her hand away from Alfred and started to clench and unclench her fists while she spoke. “No, I did not. As I said, Samson is dead. As is David, two years before Samson. When Samson died it left just me and Elijah, David's son. The boy’s mother we lost to the streets. She may still be out there, but we have no way of finding her. He’s only sixteen, Alfie, and I haven’t seen him in almost a week.”

"What happened?" asked Alfred.

“The last time we spoke,” she said. “We had a fight. I had received a phone call from his school. He hadn’t shown up in weeks. I asked him where was he going, what was he doing, and who with. We had a fight and he left. I said some terrible things as he walked out the door. He hasn’t answered his phone. I put in a missing persons report with the police, but--”

“He’s the gender, wrong color, living in the wrong neighborhood,” said Alfred.

“Exactly. Can you help me find him?”

Alfred nodded slowly.

“I’ll do what I can, Didi. But what if he doesn’t want to come back home?”

She closed her eyes and sighed. “Just… make sure he’s alright and he knows that he can come home anytime he wants.”

Alfred stood and looked down at Didi. She looked up at him with tears in her eyes.

“With you and your nephew, do you know what it’s like to see him leave and always wonder if he’ll come back alive? The possibility that you'll never see him again? You’ll ever get to tell him that you love him?"

“Yes,” said Alfred. “I do.”

“Then you know why this is important then.”

---

Kane Terrace Housing Projects
2:04 PM


Eli Wolde sat behind the wheel of the junky stolen car. It took him all of two minutes to break into the shitbox with a slim jim and hotwire it up. After that he cruised to the spot to pick up O and the other two. After that Eli cruised to the entrance of the Terrace and put the car in park. That had been almost twelve hours ago. The four of them kept their eyes peeled on the comings and going of the high rise housing project. Eli looked up into the rearview mirror. O sat in the back with an unlit cigarette in his mouth. O’s eyes never stopped watching and observing. TT in the front passenger seat stretched and yawned.

“Yo, O, can we get some food or something? I’m about to bug the fuck out out.”

“Go ahead,” said O. “But you gotta walk. I’m staying here.”

TT and Roc got out the car and started down the street. Eli looked back up into the rearview mirror saw O looking at him.

“Why you staying, youngin'?”

“It ain’t a stakeout if we go get something to eat in the middle of it, now is it?.”

O grinned, the cigarette still between his lips. When he spoke the tip of it bounced up and down.

“Well, what you seeing since you acting like some hardcore Semper Fi motherfucker?”

Eli ran his hands along the steering wheel and spoke. “KT Crew works around the clock. Product comes in twice a day. When they bring the reup, they also move the money out. The slingers look like punks, but the guys who are the couriers look like soldiers. Not fuck with me types.”

“So, you being a ambitious stick-up boy like you is, how you gonna separate them fools from their product?”

“Fuck the drugs,” said Eli. “Let the courier go in with the dope. We follow him as he leaves with the cash and hit him up then. Money splits easier and spends a whole lot quicker. They can always buy more dope and coke.”

“Okay, okay,” said O. “I see you. You out here watching and thinking. More than the other two knuckleheads. And when would you try to stick up the courier?”

“The late shift. Less police presence around when it gets to be about three or four AM and less people out in the Terrace. The courier won’t have much backup if shit goes bad.”

“My nigga,’ O said proudly. “We gonna make a soldier out of you yet.”

---

City Hall
3:30 PM


“This is crazy.”

Jim shook his head and started to stand up. Akins placed a gentle hand on his shoulder and gave a subtle headshake. The Deputy Commissioner had more political savvy than Jim could ever hope to muster. On matters like this Jim knew he could trust his judgement.

“Just hear him out,” whispered Akins.

The conference room meeting had Mayor Hamilton Hill, the group of sycophants he called a staff, GCPD brass, and this ridiculous third party. A group of high-end lawyers flanked the big man with the shaved head and the suit that cost more money than Jim made in a month. The big man stood and flashed an oily smile.

“I understand your concerns, Commissioner,” he said. “May I call you Jim?”

“Commissioner Gordon’s fine,” Jim bristled. “And I will not willingly cede protection of this city over to mercenaries, Mr. Bolton.”

Jim saw a slight twitch just above Bolton’s right eyebrow. The annoyance on his face disappeared as quickly as it had appeared. He put the charm back on and smiled. “The Thornguard Group is among the largest and most professional privatized security and corrections companies in America. We are publicly traded and our oversight is impeccable. Our current administration deal with Blackgate entitles us to a franchise exploration into Gotham City.”

Jim stabbed his finger down on to the table surface. “When it comes to policing, the last thing we should be thinking about are franchise and shareholders. Your business is keeping people locked up, and if you cut out the middleman you’ll also be responsible for arresting the people that keep your business going. Not only that but the city of Gotham will be paying you for it.”

“Commissioner,” one of Bolton’s lawyers spoke up. “Look at the data. Crime in both the Finger Homes and Kane Terrace are through the roof. And it’s gotten worse since you took over as commissioner. Let the private sector do what the police department can’t: keep people safe.”

“By giving guns to a bunch of men who couldn’t become cops or got kicked out of the army--”

“Our men are the best money can buy,” said Bolton. ”They are thoroughly vetted, have extensive training and know--”

“What does it even matter?” asked Gordon. “This is a done deal, right Mr. Mayor?”

Hill coughed and adjusted his tie. He spoke without making eye contact.

“As Mr. Bolton said, Thornguard does have a franchise right that they are exercising. And it will just be concentrated at the two housing projects, as previously stated. A test run, if you will.”

“We expect all GCPD personnel to discontinue patrols into the Finger and Kane Terrace Homes effective at midnight tonight.”

Jim stood, shrugging off Akins’ hand. He squared his glasses on his face and looked at Bolton before turning around.

“I’ll let Chief O’Hara know. Deputy Akins here will be available for any questions going forward.”

He stormed out the room, ignoring both Akins and Hill and their attempts to get him to come back in. Jim fished through his pocket and pulled out his phone, lighter, and pack of cigarettes. He lit up a cigarette in the hall, not really giving a damn about non-smoking laws, and typed out a quick text to a number listed in his phone as Pteropodidae.

GOTHAM CENTRAL ROOF
AFTER SUNSET
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Hidden 6 mos ago Post by Natty
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Natty Supervillain Enthusiast

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Who the ever loving Блядь1 is Master Marcosa?” Illyana demanded, the tip of her staff now glowing in magic energy as she edged it towards the woman. Around them the corridor continued to burn, however she noticed that there was no smoke. No toxic fumes causing her pain. Just the disgusting scent of brimstone.

“Master Marcosa is here to give us our hearts desires.” The woman turned on the spot as she spoke, before slowly moving away from them down the corridor. “We would do anything for that.”

Hearts desires? Sounds good, lead the way Madam.” Ragman managed as he pulled his ragged mask back down over his mask. “Just let me catch my breath first…

I still don’t understand what’s happening here.” Illyana questioned, pushing past Ragman so that she was walking side-by-side with the human-puppet.

“Why don’t you have a look.”

At that the woman turned on the spot and stopped right in front of the front door to an apartment. As far as Illyana could see, there wasn’t anything out of the ordinary going on here, it just a plain old door. However, as both her and Ragman approached, it swung open as if on cue. Instead of being met with a dingy old apartment like they had expected, the two were greeted by the rush of cool air and the sound of loud cheering and fanfare. Below them was a football stadium, filled to the brim with colour and lights. A game was currently well underway, and you could feel the adrenalin from both the players on the pitch and those in the stands. Everyone all seemed to be focused on one player, however; A quarterback in the dark greens of the Gotham Knights, who found himself plastered all over screens across the stadium as he moved about the pitch. The name on the back of his jersey, Finch, also seemed to match what everyone in the stands seemed to be chanting, despite what team they seemed to be dressed to support. What more, “Finch” didn’t look like a football star whatsoever. He dwarfed the other players on his team, who quite frankly also all looked a good 20 years younger than him.

Illyana watched from the doorway in awe; usually such activities didn’t interest her in the slightest, however the fact that this was all taking place in the comfort of a Gotham apartment was enough to interest anyone. Surely it was an illusion. It had to be.

Toto, I don’t think we’re in Gotham anymore.” Ragman mused, peering in himself.

What is this?” Illyana demanded, her attention snapping back to the woman. “Where is this.

“I told you Miss Rasputina. It’s our hearts desires.” At that she gave a wave of her hand.

At once the corridor around them seemed to come alive as every other door in sight swung open.

"Because that isn't super creepy...".

Illyana moved forward, leaving Ragman’s side. As she looked, each room was much more different than the last. One simply contained a happy smiling family, all gathered around the fireplace blissfully, with the next a large overweight man having the time of his life in a bed with a large number of beautiful Amazonian women. People played about in large swimming pools of cash, while others drove the streets of Monaco in sleek European sportscars. Each sight was strange and eye-opening, and the more she looked, the more Illyana knew that the woman was right. These illusions were exactly how she had described it. Their hearts desire. Surely this wasn’t bad right? Surely they were getting everything they wanted?

That thought was erased from her mind as she got to the second to last doorway in the corridor. Once again she found the doorway opening out in the middle of the air. However, this time it wasn’t above a stadium, but was instead high above a city, with a gigantic aeroplane soaring past. Next it to however, floating through the air, was a young boy. He was probably about 8 or 9, and wore a suit of blue and red, and with it closely resembled that of the Supergirl Illyana had heard so much about recently on the news. He smiled gleefully as he flew through the air, waving in delight at the passengers of the plane through its windows. One would say that the sight was adorable, with Illyana even agreeing despite her tough-as-nails nature, however all she could feel right now was anger. If that kid was here, then that meant he was just like the woman next to them. A possessed empty shell. Just like she had been so long ago. Her hand tightened around her staff, as she reared round towards the elderly woman leading her, her face growing red.

You’ve done this to a fucking child?!. What kind of monster steals a kid from their home and... and does this shit to them?” She realized that she was shouting now. Ragman was saying something behind her, trying to calm her down, but she wasn’t listening.

Now, now Miss Rasputina….” A chilling voice entered the room as a figure walked out of the last door of the corridor. ”You really need to curb your temper.

Tall and harrowing, the man before them was an imposing figure. Thick bushy eyebrows, with a rasp of beard to match gave him a rather rugged look, that contrasted heavily with the rich suit of black and burgundy. The dark cloak he wore over this billowed around behind him, buffeted by a non-existent window. His teeth though seemed to be his prominent feature. He smiled as he spoke, showing off his central incisors, which seemed to be bejewelled with a flashing pair of rubies; the red so bright that it looked as if he had just rose from the neck of his last prey.

However much like the scenes within the rooms, there was an air to the man that just didn’t seem real. As Illyana looked more carefully, she noticed that parts of his body just seemed to flicker. Flicker in and out of existence like static from a television. As if sensing her thoughts, he gripped his arm, where the flickering was most constant, before giving another smile of red.

Instantly she turned her staff so that it was pointing straight at him.

Master Marcosa I presume? Fantastic, now you can explain this shitshow in person!

He simply reared his head back slightly and laughed, showing off his glistening teeth once more.

Nothing gets by you girl. But isn’t it obvious?” He mocked, motioning around him. “This is my soul farm.

He spoke as if that should be obviously, however both Illyana and Ragman just looked between each other in confusion.

Your what?” Ragman asked inquisitively. “And what on Earth have you done to your teeth?

Soul farm, my good boy. Pretty much just like those rags you’re wearing, except in this case I’m actually putting them to good use.” With that he seemed to breath in deeply, as if rejuvenating himself. At once his arm seemed to grow more solid, the flickering stopping, as his skin seems to grow more brightly.

Not that you’ll be able to stop me anyway. You’ll be too busy dealing with my associate.

He gestured to the door to Illyana’s right, the one opposite to the one with the “Superboy”. She turned her gaze and froze as she laid eyes on him. He wore the very same scarlet robes that he had worn on that first night, which draped carelessly over his pale red skin. A matching red tail snaked out behind him; the only thing overshadowing the sharpness of its point being the horns atop his head. It was Belasco himself, ripe from the pits of Limbo.

The world grew silent around them. Ragman was saying something again. Probably warning Illyana not to do anything stupid. However, she couldn’t hear him now. Her entire being was focussed on the man in front of her. The person who had plucked her from her home and damned her to a childhood of torture and hellfire. The man who had torn her from her family. She was screaming now. Staff raised high, she began running, sprinting as fast as she could towards Belasco’s smirking face. She felted Ragman tugging at her arm behind her, yet didn’t let him stop her, and instead pulled him forwards with her. Pulled him with her into the room.

And it was as her whole world turned to black that she realized that she had made a huge mistake.

1. Fuck.
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Hidden 6 mos ago Post by The Bork Lazer
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The Bork Lazer Chomping Time

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All right, people, let’s do this for one last -

Wait, seriously?

‘Who are you?’ That’s your first question?

All right,then. Let’s do this for the first time ever.

My name is Herman Schultz.

You may have heard of me.

For the last five years, I’ve been hiding in Dakota City as Harry Schumer, chemistry teacher at Hemingway High.

Once upon a time, I was once the infamous Shocker of New York City.

Or so I wished.

I’ve robbed banks. I’ve staged heists. Got a little lonely. I then formed my own team of villains known as the Sinister Syndicate whose members include the Clock King, the Wall, Kite-Man, Stilt-Man - yes, those are all real villains. Don’t expect me to explain their names - Condiment King and me.

So, after that, we robbed some more banks together. We staged more heists together. We fought some superheroes together. We ran away like cowards together. We drank together. We went bowling together. Word of advice for those who see the Wall, don’t let him near your supply of beer.

Then, after 16 years of all of that, I finally got my Wikipedia page. I broke my shoulder. Things went south during our last job together. We….fell out with one another, but luckily, I had a backup plan.

Being a teacher has given me time to retrospect about who I was.

See, I’ve never been caught or arrested. Ever. I went into supervillainy for the jobs. The deals that would set you up for life. Forever. I’d never been the type of guy who was interested in plans of world domination or poisoning a city’s water supply. I just wanted money. I’ve taken pride in the fact that I’ve never killed or purposely injured someone during one of my jobs.

Maybe, that’s why I’ve never gotten a lick of respect. Maybe, people just prefer their villains to be monsters more than human.

Funny thing you should know. After I retired, everyone knew Harry Schumer but no one knew the Shocker. Not one single person. I wonder how the other guys are doing now.

Fast forward to present. I was driving to my house. Ready to book it out of Dakota City after hearing how the guy who stole my suit was wrecking the town. Saw some metahuman tailing me. Ambushed them. Turns out that… my star student, Virgil, is Static. That was a shocker.

So, here I am taking out a can of soda for him and wondering how my life ended up at this point……………………...





Virgil felt trapped, even though the smooth sky-blue wall-paint and the domestic urban furniture tried to assure him that he was going to be fine. He knew that the foundations of the house were built on a mountain of robbed cash and crime. The interiors of the house were sparsely decorated with all of the basic necessities. A TV. A fridge. A kitchen sink. The lawn was overgrowing, weeds at the edges, looking as if it hadn’t been mowed in a while. There were no photos at all. No family photos. No photos with friends laid around. Overall, it looked pretty lonely.

“ Hey, you a fan of Coke or Pepsi? Can’t give you anything else since you’re underage….”

No response. Virgil only noticed the question a few seconds later as if he was a lagging computer before Herman spoke again.

“ I’ll wager you as a Coke guy, then.”

Herman Schutz, not Harry Schumer, or otherwise known as the Shocker was currently searching through the contents of an opened fridge. He took out a six pack of beer cans and a single red-one which he couldn’t make out the brand of. Finding out that his chemistry teacher who was also the vigilante who may or may not have broken his arm had a taste for cheap beer was the least weirdest thing today.

“ I saw your resignation letter. Is it true? You’re leaving Hemingway High?”

Virgil looked at Herman expectedly, waiting for an answer. Herman pried the ring of the aluminium can open, a thin hiss issuing out followed by the melody of carbonated bubbling. Herman turned back over towards him, holding two drink cans, one a Budweiser and the other a can of Coca-Cola, probably to give to him. He slid the cherry-red one over towards Virgil before taking a sip of his own.

“ Kid, I’m not sure what’s true anymore,” Herman closed his eyes, letting out an exhale of relief. They sat silent, staring at each other pensively from each end of the table. Herman then motioned towards the Cola can, shooting a annoyed stare at him. “Virgil, trust me. No one poisons a can of Coke”

Static shook his head slowly. His voice was hollow as he cracked open the soft drink “ No, it’s not that. I’m just still trying to process all of this.”

“ Well, if it’s all the same to you, I’m feeling about the same.” Herman snorted. “ Virgil Hawkins and Static. One in the same. Who would have guessed?”

Virgil looked upwa How…..how’d - Why come here to Dakota City? Why work as a chemistry teacher?”

“ You ever heard of the Sinister Syndicate?” Virgil gave a quick shake. Herman shrugged in disappointment. “Figures. We weren’t all that popular back in New York City.”

Virgil raised an eyebrow. “ Who’s we?”

Herman looked away, lost in reminiscence, as he slowly spoke each and every word to make sure he didn’t get a single detail wrong.

“ Clock King, Kite-Man, the Trapster, Stilt-Man, Condiment King, the Wall and finally, me, the Shocker.”

Virgil scoffed.“ Seriously? Condiment King? The Wall? They sound more like saturday morning cartoon villains.”

“ Would you let me finish?,” Herman asked before continuing on.

“ Kite-Man operated as the getaway guy. Clock King was always the brains. The Wall and the Stilt Man were our heavies. The Condiment King was the chem expert. The Trapster was our tech guy and I? - ” A infectious smile of nostalgia appeared on Herman’s face “ I was the cracker. The best damn safecracker on the East Coast. We were all good friends. For a time.”

Virgil watched as Herman’s smile became sour, his brown brow furrowed with a storm of bad memories.

“ Needless to say, it didn’t last forever. We broke up the gang after a job…” Herman drawed out the word. “ a job went bad. I had a guy make a set of forged papers for me just in case. I travelled to Dakota City by bus, signed up onto a school with the lowest teacher requirements and bought a house here with the money I had.”

Herman took another sip as Virgil looked downwards for a few moments, his coke can untouched. Virgil then inched closer to the table.

“ Could you help me?” asked Virgil “ At least, tell me who stole the suit so I can find them.”

A flash of embarrassment crossed Herman’s face “ I would if I could. I didn’t manage to see their face and I didn’t manage to get their name. Whoever took it was smart. He knew how I operated. How I would react. He broke into my home, disarmed my traps and took a prototype of my shock gauntlets. I managed to grab ahold of him but he broke my nose and then, booked it out of here.”

Herman pointed over Virgil’s shoulder. Virgil turned around and saw a boarded up hole in the middle of the wall, as if a rhinoceros had been let loose inside his home.

“ You said this guy broke your arm.” Herman leaned back on his chair, arms crossed. “ How confident are you that he won’t break something else next time?”

“ Next time, I’ll be more careful.”

Herman looked to the side and repeated Virgil’s words in a mocking fashion.“ Sure. Sure. More careful. Does your dad know about this?”

“ No, I’ve made sure not to tell hi-”

“ Good.” Herman finished off the can of beer, crumpling it up in his fist. “ Because I would be more concerned if he approved of what you were doing right now.”

Virgil rolled his eyes. “ Look, I’ve heard this all already so why don’t you just stop being patronising and let me be?”

Herman suddenly stood up, placing both of his hands onto the table, before speaking with palpable anger in his voice.

“ I’m different from all those other people. I’m not some civilian, some news reporter, a radio pundit or even your best friend. I’ve played this game of cops and robbers before. I’ve faced plenty of superheroes before. So, listen closely. You’re not Wonder Woman. You’re not Captain America. You’re a young seventeen year old boy - “

“ I’ve got powers!,” Virgil exclaimed whilst interjecting Herman in the middle of his rant. “ I’ve been doing this for one month - “

“ - A young seventeen year boy! If you’re not careful, before you’re twenty, you’ll end up like….”

Herman’s voice trailed off into a soft whisper as he sat back on his chair, looking defeated. He avoided the look of Virgil’s eyes, flinching as pain tore him apart from the inside.

“ End up like what?,” asked Virgil.

Herman didn’t respond for a while, his fingers intertwined together in a ball of cold sweated skin. He then began to speak, his voice empty and vacant of any mirth that had once been on his person.

“ Back in 2011, me and the gang were planning another heist. This time, we’re going all in. We’re planning to hit the New York Stock Exchange. The Wall had gone on vacation in the Bahamas so we needed another heavy guy. We start advertising, calling in favours but no one wants to work with us. In comes a newcomer.” Herman’s eyes narrowed in disgust. “ Larry Buchinsky. Went by the name of Electrocutioner. Tells you the type of guy he is, doesn’t it? He’s fresh. Impressionable. Enthusiastic. Too enthusiastic. Said he was a fan for me. Me and Clock could see that he just...wasn’t all right. Something was off about him when we made him the seventh member of our group. Kite vouched for him since he was the one who brought him into the fold.”

Herman paused for a moment, tapping on the table and taking a breathe in.

“ Before all that, we’d been tangling with this young vigilante for the couple of past months. We wagered that he was a few years older than you. He went by the name of the Crimson Avenger. You know, the old crime-fighter? Sort of the classic type. Wore a cape. He tended to monologue every time he met us, like he was in an old cartoon. He’d been operating in New York for a few months. Clock thought that he looked like a college kid. The kid had guts, I gotta say. Made the jobs a little bit more exciting. ”

Herman looked down, away, in shame.

“ We start doing the job. All went well until the Crimson Avenger knocked out Kite when we were hauling out all of the loot at the back of the vault. I tell Clock and the others to get away while me and Buchinsky would create a distraction. I blast the fire extinguishers. The entire hallway turns misty white. I blast down a nearby wall and shout for Buchinsky to follow me. Buchinsky….Buchinsky goes straight for the kid like a coiled cobra. Started wailing on Avenger with his own electro-knuckles.” Herman’s face was beginning to turn white. “Me? I just stood there like I was supposed to. I didn’t even bother to help the kid until I heard a cry of ‘Mom!’. That got to me. Really got to me. I knocked him off the Avenger but I was too late. There was so much blood that I couldn’t even make out his face. By the time we both made it out of there, I asked Buchinsky for an explanation.

Herman’s teeth gritted together as he growled out the next two sentences.

“ Buchinsky didn’t even shed a tear. Started asking whether or not I was on his side. Said that it was necessary. ”

“ I almost wanted to turn myself in that day. All of us did. I showed them the evidence. The dried blood on his gauntlets. Buchinsky admitting to us. I can still remember his smile. It was like he took satisfaction in it. Stilt blamed Kite for bringing him in. Kite blamed me for allowing him to kill Avenger under my watch. Clock stayed silent, like usual. That’s the story of how the Sinister Syndicate split apart. I never took up the mask again.”

Virgil stayed silent, fingers trembling in shock. Herman sniffled, breathing in and out, gagging at the foulness of remembering his deeds.

“ The thing is, when I see you now, I see the Crimson Avenger. I see your dad crying in the morgue. You don’t have to be the hero, kid. No one ever asked you to be.”
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SHIELD Safehouse, Rome, Italy - Present Day, 18:41
Issue 1.02.4: Ballad of a Soldier

Interaction(s): None


Cap raised an eyebrow as he looked at the screen. ”So, HYDRA is using an old fort right near the Vatican as a base of operations?”

Fury gave a curt nod as he dug his spoon into his takeout container of rice. ”The fort has been closed to the public since the attack on the Aeneid, which would give HYDRA the perfect hiding spot.” Fury set his food aside for a moment as the rest of the Commandos continued their hasty dinner. He tapped a few buttons on a console near the wall, and the screen’s satellite images transformed into a semi-translucent 3D model of the fort. All entrances and exits to the fort were highlighted in red. ”The situation has escalated, and it’s become clear that HYDRA knows we are here. The prime minister’s youngest son has been taken hostage by a team led by an individual matching Gauntlet’s description. Italian authorities are going to mobilize and cover all entrances and exits for us. Romanoff and Masters are going to enter in from the Tiber to take down the HYDRA spotters and snipers. Rogers and Carter are going to enter in through a sewer maintenance tunnel. Secure the hostage, and take down the Gauntlet.”

Castel Sant’Angelo, Rome, Italy - Present Day, 20:34



Two miniature grappling hooks latched themselves on to the ledge of the fortress, and seconds after Romanoff and Masters began scaling walls after a brief swim in the polluted waters of the Tiber. In nearly flawless execution, the two SHIELD agents swung themselves over the ledge and onto the wall while pulling out their silenced sidearms. Two shots, and two HYDRA guards were down. Romanoff quickly approached the corpse of her target, finding the guard’s communicator. She placed a small metal disk on the back of it while Masters tapped at a small device on his wrist. After a few moments, the Commandos had access to their communications channels. The two worked in tandem as they split off to execute the HYDRA guards.

Romanoff remained low to the ground as she turned a corner and caught site of two HYDRA guards standing next to each other. They were dressed like traditional Italian military police, but spoke German to one another in hushed tones. The Black Widow crouched up behind the two and activated her shock gauntlets at the last possible second, placing one hand on each’s shoulders. They convulsed for a moment before falling to the ground unconscious, before rising up and pulling out her silenced sidearm. She spotted another soldier down the walkway beginning to turn in her direction. Before he could even see what was coming, Romanoff fired off three shots into his torso before rushing up to place one more shot in the crumpled figure’s head. She lifted her wrist to her lips to speak into her commlink, ”Eastern Walkway is Clear.”

Masters wasn’t exactly as elegant. He crouched along a wall near the back of the fort, only for the door in front of him to open up as two HYDRA guards emerged. Tony locked eyes with them, and immediately sprung into action. He charged forward, pulling out his knife. He slit the first guard’s throat before moving the knife to cut the strap off the second guard’s gun. His other hand reached for the barrel of the gun, ripping it from his enemy’s hand to toss is aside. When the guard reached for his own knife, Master’s took the opportunity for the opening to plunge the knife through the HYDRA soldier’s armor and into his heart. It took a few moments for the guard to finally go limp as he held on to Master’s hands, trying desperately to remove the knife but to no effect. Once dead, Tony ripped the knife from the guard before tossing it almost nonchalantly along the walkway as another guard began to jog in his direction, having heard only barely the sound of a struggle. Masters rose to his feet, looked about, and muttered into his commlink, ”Western Walkway is Clear.”

Sewers beneath Castel Sant’Angelo, Rome, Italy - Present Day, 20:36



”I haven’t been in shit like this since I was on the front lines in Germany.” Cap’s face was scrunched up in disgust as he continued along the passageway with Sharon at his side. She gave a small chuckle at his joke, until she suddenly silenced herself at the sounds of footsteps down the hall. The two pushed themselves back against the walls of the maintenance tunnel, blending in amongst the pipes as best they could. From around the corner, two guards emerged with guns in hand. Cap gave a curt nod to Sharon before slowly reaching to the shield at his back and removing it. By the time the guards had noticed him, Cap launched the shield towards them. It hit the guard on the left and bounced into the one on the right, and both fell unconscious at the sheer force. The Captain caught the shield as it returned and slid his left hand into the shield’s brace.

The two continued pushing forward until Sharon placed a hand on Steve’s shoulder to stop him. She pointed upward and he gave a nod in acknowledgement. She pulled out a small black cylinder no bigger than a toothbrush and pointed it towards the ceiling, pressing a button on the side. A blue light emerged from the end of the cylinder, pointing towards the ceiling. She twisted the top, and it began to create a square outline onto the ceiling. She tapped another button, and the blue laser turned red as it cut through the ceiling. After a few moments, the laser finished cutting through the floor and Cap pulled Agent Carter out of the way as the ceiling fell down to reveal the interior of the cellar above them. Steve was able to hop up into the cellar with barely any effort, immediately kneeling down and offering a hand to help Sharon climb up.

Castel Sant’Angelo Courtyard, Rome, Italy - Present Day, 20:44



Widow stood in the center of the courtyard, lifting her wrist to speak into the commlink, ”Captain, Report.”

At that moment, the doors leading to the interior of the fortress from this level slammed open as Cap was forcibly thrown into open air. He slid a few feet until he reached Widow’s feet, grunting in pain. A figure loomed in the doorway, and behind him lied the crumbled form of Sharon Carter. The figure stepped out, revealing a beast of a man with his right arm covered in a strange golden sleeve of armor. He pumped his arms slightly, and the armor began to shift to reveal some sort of blaster emerging from the wrist. Gauntlet pointed it in the direction of the Black Widow, and she managed to roll out of the way just in time to avoid the blast.

Cap quickly hopped to his feet, raising his shield just in time for it to take the brunt of the blow. The blast simply dissipated into the shield, with its vibranium components taking in the excess force. Before the Gauntlet could fire off another blast, Cap hurled his shield towards him. This forced the armored gauntlet to rise and deflect the metal disk from impacting against his body. In that point of time, Cap was able to close the gap and deliver two quick blows to Sgt. Green’s body. He was able to duck under the Gauntlet’s first blow from his powered fist, but was still susceptible to being briefly stunned by an uppercut with Sgt. Green’s right fist. This left Cap defenseless just long enough for a punch from the Gauntlet knocked him back.

Sgt. Green’s eyes and expression seemed blank as he seemed to seamlessly lift his armored fist towards Romanoff in time to fire another blast in her direction, this time capable of throwing her back and knocking her unconscious as she slammed into a wall. Sgt. Green approached the front gates of the fort, firing another blast to knock the gates off their hinges. He was able to easily raise his fist up and fire a single laser in the direction of law enforcement. As Cap slowly began raising himself to his feet, he watched in horror as the laser cut through the Italian police officers with ease. Cap began rushing forward to get a running start to throw his suit. After getting some momentum, he jumped into the air and spun to begin the throw, but stopped as he heard the sound of a gunshot from behind him.

Sgt. Green stumbled for a moment before collapsing to the ground. On top of the fortress’ wall behind Cap and next to the slumped over corpse of a Hydra guard stood Tony Masters holding a rifle. He lowered it slightly and pressed a finger against the commlink in his ear. ”Target down, and the perimeter is secure.”
Next Chapter: Lost Boundaries
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