Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Master Bruce
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Master Bruce Winged Freak

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"If we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity. For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet." - John F. Kennedy ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ A SINGULAR UNIVERSE ROLEPLAY ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

G M (s): Master Bruce ♦ HenryJonesJr ♦ Hillan G E N R E S: Superhero, Fandom T Y P E: Sandbox with linear and Collaborative Arcs
T H E S T O R Y S O F A R:

By most respects, the Age of Heroes began during one of Earth's darkest periods. In the days of World War II when the Allies were most desperate, a beacon of hope was born. Steve Rogers became Captain America, and helped to turn the tide. Along with the Howling Commandos and the superpowered agents known as The Invaders, Rogers helped to cripple the Nazi deep science division HYDRA, and turn the tide of the war, even if he was lost in the process.

Following the war, costumed adventurers inspired by Rogers popped up in the homeland, and banded together to form the Justice Society of America. They fought corruption, crime, and saboteurs during the cold war, and were generally supported by the public at large. Though, good things were not meant to last. The good will began to fade as super powered individuals began to increase in the 60's and 70's, and along with them the rise in metahuman collateral damage. In response to "Mutant", as the humans saw the metahumans, bigotry, the JSA disbanded and costumed heroes went into the shadows.

Things were quiet, with anti-mutant bigotry festering in the background, for decades. In order to track the movement and growth in the metahuman population, the United Nations formed SHIELD. Using the brightest minds in science and industry, the organization prepared for the day that metahumans would once again act out in the open.

That day came when a man with an "S" on his chest flew and caught a prototype LexCorp space shuttle out of the sky with his bare hands, saving countless innocent lives in the process. While the appearance of the so-called Superman was largely seen as a celebratory moment, some, including Lex Luthor, saw nothing but a potential threat. In response to the appearance of Superman, costumed heroes once again began to appear across the world ready to fight for good, and the public responded with approval.

But for every action, there was an equal and opposite one. As awe inspiring as the arrival of Superman was, the same could not be said for the appearance of a creature known only as The Hulk. The green goliath rampaged through a small town in New Mexico until he was driven off by a re-emergent Captain America and SHIELD. The raw destructive power of the creature struck fears into the hearts of humanity, and made world governments question whether metahumans should be tolerated.

So things went, with heroes and the villains they fought appearing and clashing across the globe.

Then, the creature known as Starro rose from the sea and began to enslave the people of Earth. Before its job could be completed, however, a team of heroes that called themselves the Justice League rose to oppose it. The League stopped the creature and became beloved for it, though the joining of such powerful entities drew the eyes of power-bases throughout the universe. It also drew the eyes of SHIELD, who started to put together a team of their own.

The first challenge to that new power came when the Chitauri, a hive-mind conquering race, appeared in Earth's orbit. When the Justice League moved to intercept the invaders in space, the Chitauri opened a portal above New York and launched their forces behind the superuman team. In response, SHIELD's team, dubbed The Avengers, deployed into the city and ended up ending the Chitauri threat. The two teams stood on an awkward stance of existing in their own spaces, though clearly on course for a clash at some point.

Now the world stood, seemingly protected by the world's mightiest and greatest heroes. But forces beyond comprehension have moved into position, and the World of Heroes will be tested as it has never been tested before...
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Hidden 4 mos ago Post by TGM
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TGM Clichéd Tsundere

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“A Crescent Moon”
Prologue



“I warned you.”


The crescent darts find their target. I can hear the screaming.

“And now, you're stuck in a room with a lunatic who is about to break you into tiny little pieces.”

While the grunts are pulling the darts out of their hands their friends are taking aim at me. Just like always. Just how I like it.

A quick roll sends me underneath a line of bullets before I launch upward and send the first gunmen out the nearest window. Three story drop. He’s going to break his legs, that is, if he survives the fall. Not my priority to help them. I tried helping them last week when I gave them full warning that I wasn’t going to tolerate them anymore.

It feels like after over a decade dealing with every inch of the freakshow I’m back at square one. I stomp out one laundering operation and a racketeering outfit moves in ready to pony up to the Maggia the next day. The Maggia. Like a twisted, shadow mafia lying in the shadows pulling the strings of everything that smells rotten in New York. Maybe I’m just not sane enough to see the answer. Maybe everything I’ve lost to fighting morons and freaks has never been enough. Sometimes it feels like we create our own problems. People start calling you a phantom, a spectre, or whatever and eventually there are ghost hunters aiming down at you. Marlene used to tell me it made sense. Remove all the hustlers and creeps and the weird and wicked were going to come out of the shadows looking for a fight. After all, once you make what this is normal there’s no turning back.

“It’s Moon Knight, kill the bastard!”

They've tried for over a decade. Gotta love their moxie, though.

There’s another one rushing behind me, but I’m out the window before he can make contact. A quick trigger of my grappling hook and I’m swinging around and through another window.

There’s cursing as they scramble, but I toss a flashbang before they readjust. The sound of their bones cracking under the pressure of my fingers feels good. It’s probably one of the few things that can bring me some degree of happiness anymore. Not a good thing for them, either. I despise feeling that way. What right do I have to feel joy after everything I've done? All the consequences I've reaped? It makes me angry so I break them further. Before long, I've taken all of them down. It feels like a haze to me. A dirty, rotten haze.

“Like I said. I warned you.” I mutter as I shuffle through their pockets.

For a bunch of people smuggling in drugs from the wayside, there's not a whole lot I can do. The Maggia will probably have the warehouse scrubbed and the bodies replaced. I need to send a message, one that is better. Gets the point across that Khonshu's guardian, the protector of the night travelers, is coming after them with a fervor that they have never seen before.

There’s a story about Albimelech who sowed his own capital and salted the earth to purify the rebellion that plagued the heart of Israel. The belief that the only way to stomp something out was consecrating the remains so that such a thing would not taint the land no longer. The Romans liked this idea so much they did it to Carthage and it is something I must do to the Maggia. They may have disposable bodies, but their resources are not infinite. I have to follow every breadcrumb. Every stench. I have to follow them and consecrate the bones of their operation. The Maggia will be like Carthage and when I find them, they will be exposed for the whole of their bodies.

And I will start by burning down this warehouse to its bones and blood.

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Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Byrd Man
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Byrd Man El Hombre Pájaro

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Washington Highlands
Washington D.C.
12:10 AM

“You up?”

Demarco rubbed his hands and waited on the fiend’s reply. He was posted up on the corner of Bambay and 9th, the shadow of the Highland Terrace housing looming from above. The white boy idled at the curb was behind the wheel of a beat up Ford Ranger with Maryland tags. The truck looked like it was white once upon a time, but years of wear and tear had bleached the car’s paint so that it was a faded off-white and bits of primer showed through the cracked hood.

“One and one,” said the white boy.

Demarco took the twenty dollar bill and passed him two gelcaps of dope. The truck sped off down the street as Demarco stepped back on to the curb and tucked his hands back into the front pocket of his hoodie. He used his hands and made a quick count of the gelcaps resting inside the large pocket. He was down to twenty. He’d have to get a re-up before the night was through.

He was just one of six dealers who worked the package for Tray. Demarco worked here on the corner, but there was the boy Renzo who served customers inside Highland Terrace along with two other dealers who worked the Park Southern Apartments and Highland Dwellings down the way. Tray had a small operation when compared to some of the crews that ran the corners up in Northeast DC, but Demarco knew even their small operation made serious bank.

They served the usual DC fiends, but the corner of Bambay and 9th was a short walk from the Maryland line and PG County on the other side. Working class whites and blacks, upper middle class professionals, hell even soldiers from that nearby military base all came to Demarco’s corner for a fix. He served more white people than he did blacks, and he was sure it was almost true for every corner crew in DC. It’s why the people in the Capitol building downtown were calling it an epidemic now. Because it was affecting white people, and they were the ones who mattered to them.

When Demarco’s older cousin died because she mainlined some dope that was cut with too much rat poison, nobody from Congress gave a fuck. When Demarco’s dad got twenty-five years for selling coke and dope, the politicians labeled him a “superpredator” and called him a “community parasite.” And when crack got its hooks into his grandma back in the 80’s, made her sell her body and life for the rock, it wasn’t an epidemic then. Demarco had learned at a very early age that getting someone to care about your pain and suffering had a lot in common with the drug game. It was all about location, location, location.

Demarco gave a long look at a dark town car and its tinted windows as it slowly rolled down 9th towards the corner. His antenna was up for anything suspicious. It was the color and general shape to be a police, but MPD knockos didn’t ride in anything that nice. The car pulled up to the corner and idled there waiting. Demarco shrugged and started his slow walk towards the window. Shit, even town car driving motherfuckers needed to get right.

“You up?” he asked as the window started to slide down.

The man who looked back at him was either police, or he once was. That fucked up haircut that was too close to the scalp was favored by either police or soldiers, and only police wore those thick ass mustaches anymore. But it was too obvious, no creep at all to the situation. Demarco knew MPD sent their undercovers out looking the part, or at least trying to. This motherfucker right here was as subtle as a bomb.

“Good evening, you young street entrepreneur,” the man said cheerfully. “How much for your entire stock?”






Atkins & Knight
10:24 AM

Steel pressed the button for the twelfth floor as the elevator’s doors slid shut. He was alone on the ride up. Two hours earlier it would have been packed with clerical and legal staff on their way up, but everyone by now was settled in for another day’s work buying and selling political influence.

The doors opened on twelve and Steel stepped out into a lobby basked in tasteful lighting. The law firm’s logo -- the letters A and K designed in some professional font that was no doubt focus-tested to death -- was always the first thing anyone saw when stepping off the elevator. Furniture that was worth the price of Steel’s apartment was strategically placed around the lobby along with artwork by local District artists. The place smacked of corporate money and power. Steel did his best to dress accordingly. He wore boots with dark jeans, a checkered blue shirt with a blue sports jacket and navy tie. The receptionist greeted him with a professional smile.

“Hi. How can I help you, sir?”

He leaned against her desk, careful to keep his left arm down below the surface. It always raised questions in people’s minds when they saw his hand. Better to not give the receptionist the chance to stare and wonder.

“Sargent Steel to see Robert Edison,” he said. “I believe I have an appointment.”

“What’s your first name, Sergeant?” she asked.

“Sargent,” he said with a smile. “It’s a first name, not a rank.”

“I see you here,” she said after a quick search on her computer. “I’ll buzz Mr. Edison and he’ll be out shortly to see you. Have a seat.”

Bob Edison came out five minutes later. Steel was always struck by how casual Bob always dressed. With his khaki slacks and polo shirts, he looked more like a college football coach than a partner in one of the biggest lobbying firms on K Street. The coaching air was helped by the fact Bob was about fifty pounds overweight and had a face that was perpetually sunburnt thanks to many hours on the golf links.

“Hey, Sarge,” Edison said, offering Steel a plump handshake. “Come on back.”

He followed Bob towards his corner office. A&K’s south wall was all glass and looked out over D.C. The Washington Monument could be seen off in the distance, even closer was Lafayette Square and The White House. Bob’s office on the western side of the building had a nice view of the Potomac and the Pentagon. A&K sat just a short walk or drive from every single major hub of government activity in this city. For people in the lobbying business it ws all about proximity to power. Location, location, location.

Steel found someone waiting for them once they arrived in Bob’s office. A young, clean shaven man wearing a suit that Steel immediately identified as off the rack. Men’s Wearhouse, Jos. A Bank, one of those places. He stood and favored Steel with a wide smile. His youth, lack of means, and eager to please pegged him as one of the many, many young professionals that littered the District. That type of policy wonk or junior community affairs clerk that would one day run the free world, god help them all.

“Sarge, this is Eric Wideman. He’s comms director for Congressman Laurence Mitchell.”

“Larry the Lion,” said Steel. Wideman shook hand with him and he saw the younger man’s eyes drift towards Steel’s metal left hand.

“It’s a fake,” he said before Wideman could ask. “Lost the real one when I was overseas, yes I was in the military, it has some limited capabilities, I can grab and hold stuff under a certain weight limit, but no finer motor skills. I think that’s all the questions most people have for me when they see it.”

Steel resisted the urge to smirk when he saw Wideman’s flushed face. Bob took a seat behind his desk and ushered for the two men to do the same. Wideman spoke once he overcame his temporary embarrassment.

“Well, Mr. Steel, I was surprised to find that a lobbyist firm like A&K would undertake the services of a private investigator.”

“We require help every so often,” said Bob. “Background checks and vetting, odds and ends, the occasional… delicate situation that needs a light touch.”

“That’s me,” said Steel. “The man with the metal hand and the kid gloves.”

“You did come highly recommended by Mr. Edison,” said Wideman.

“Capable and discreet,” said Bob. “Sarge here handles work for us as well as some criminal law firms in D.C.”

“Man’s gotta eat,” said Steel. “I take my work where I can get it.”

Wideman nodded and cleared his throat. “Good…Bob, do you think we could have the room?”

“Say no more,” said Bob. He stood and checked his watch. “Actually, I need to be somewhere at eleven. You two can see yourself out after you’re done.”

Wideman’s eyes followed Bob as he left the office. When he was gone, his focus snapped back to Steel.

“Mr. Steel, do you keep up with the comings and goings on the Hill?”

“I make it a habit not to,” Steel said with a shrug. “But I know who your boss is. Larry the Lion is what you would call a character.”

“He’s also making moves on the Hill,” Wideman said, lowering his voice. Who that was exactly for, Steel couldn’t figure. “Word is that Clayburn is getting ready to retire. If that happens, Congressman Mitchell is in a position to step up in the party leadership. He has enough backing among the caucuses to make a serious run at minority leader.”

“And if the general election falls like you want to,” said Steel. “That minority leader position becomes speaker of the house. I’ve seen enough CSPAN to know how it works.”

Steel was waiting to hear where he came into this thing. If he was being dragged down here for just a Schoolhouse Rock lesson, he would be very upset.

“There’s a potential problem, though,” said Wideman. “The congressman has a big liability in the form of his son, Jeremy.”

Steel raised an eyebrow at Wideman. “A typical congressional brat?”

“Jeremy is…,” Wideman laughed. “Well he’s the congressman’s son from his second marriage, he’s spent his whole life with a powerful and influential father. That does things to a kid. As much as Congressman Mitchell is loved here in D.C., he’s idolized back in Tennessee. Jeremey has been raised thinking he can do whatever he wants and get away with it… and he mostly does. He’s been arrested for drug charges by cops in both Memphis and here in the District time and time again, but the congressman -- add his staff I might add -- use their influence to keep those arrests dismissed and sealed.”

“I seem to recall Congressman Mitchell being a pretty tough proponent of the drug war,” said Steel. “Fights tooth and nail any time a decriminalization bill comes up.”

Wideman side-eyed him, perhaps wondering how this man who claimed to know so little about politics knew those detail about his boss.

“Right, well,” Wideman continued. “You see what a mess that could be. Especially now considering… Jeremy’s gone missing.”

The plot thins, Steel thought ironically. They’d arrived to the heart of the matter. Steel reached into his breast shirt pocket and pulled out his small notepad and pen.

“When was the last time he was seen?”

“Four days ago,” said Wideman. “His roomate at Georgetown said he was leaving the apartment to go on a beer run. Never came back. We’re hesitant to file a missing persons report… if it gets out that a congressman’s son is missing, it risks a lot more information about him coming to light.”

It took Steel a moment to situate everything. His left hand moved slowly, opening up its fingers and giving him enough room to rest the notebook on the palm. He was just thankful he hadn’t lost his right hand. His handwriting was already bad enough. Steel wrote down Jeremy’s name and asked Wideman for his date of birth, height, weight, eye, and hair color. Then he got the boy’s phone number, the address of his apartment, and the name and number of his roommate.

“Bob tell you about my fee?” he asked without looking up.

“Yes, and money is not an object. We’ll be happy to pay you directly out of the congressman’s PAC.”

Steel paused at that. PAC funds were supposed to be for campaigns only. Paying PI’s to track down scumbag sons made it less of a campaign war chest, and more of a slush fund. But it wouldn’t be the first time he’d been paid out of a PAC. And he very much doubted he’d be the last.

“I’ll see what I can do,” he said after asking Wideman all the questions he needed to start with.

“Just know that you will be compensated with more than money if this works out,” Wideman said with a smile that bordered on sleazy. “You’ll have a very powerful congressman in debt to you, one that may end up speaker of the house… or something higher when all is said and done.”

“Lucky me,” said Steel.
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Hidden 4 mos ago Post by webboysurf
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webboysurf

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I R O N M A N

Stark Tower, New York City - Present Day
Issue 1.01.01: Never a Dull Day

Interaction(s): None
Previously: None


"We are five minutes from the grand unveiling. Now is not the time to start drinking."

Tony leaned back in his chair, looking out the window while dressed in a red suit. Clutched in his hand and half drunk was a glass of scotch, coming from a bottle that Tony had already forgotten the name of. It was probably something fancy, knowing the kinds of things people sent him. His bloodshot eyes traced over the rest of the New York skyline leading out towards the bay, the red veins more of a sign of his lack of sleep than anything. Tony turned his gaze back towards Pepper, who was sporting a matching red jacket and skirt. She had the same look she always had towards him these days: frustration. He raised an eyebrow at her, flashing the usual smartass grin that seemed to be permanently glued to his face when around her. "My mouth was dry. I needed something to drink-"

"There's this magical drink called water, Tony. I know you're aware of it, because you always had me stock overpriced bottles of it in the fridge right behind you." Pepper shook her head as she held up the tablet that she held in the crook of her arm, tapping away at the screen. "I had JARVIS double check the energy readings and run a practice test this morning-"

"JARVIS, run the numbers again." Tony quickly downed the rest of his drink as he stood up, walking over towards the window as he looked down at the street below. The area right outside of the Tower had already been sectioned off for the big event. The press trucks were assembled, and the reporters were already taking their seats. From up here, they looked like ants. For a moment, a thought crossed through Tony's mind. Is that what he thinks of us?

A disembodied voice cut through the awkward silence. "Sir, all readings indicate the reactor is stable. Do you need anything else, sir?"

Tony shook his head, walking back over to his desk and tapping on the glass covering. The desk lit up, revealing an embedded monitor setup with security footage covering all the building entrances and the reactor room. "Just keep me posted if there's any irregular chatter coming from the NYPD or the SHIELD detail."

Pepper rolled her eyes. "If anything happens, Rhodey can take care of it."

Tony shook his head, walking past her and towards the elevator. "And if Rhodey doesn't, JARVIS is going to keep the engine running in case he needs backup."

As if on cue, a large boom echoed from somewhere in the city. Tony turned his gaze out the window, his eyes falling upon smoke coming from the Brooklyn Bridge. In his ear, a familiar voice began barking orders. "Air support, get me eyes on the bridge. What are we looking at?"

"From the looks of it... we're looking at AIM units on the bridge. And some sort of... cannon? Moving in for a closer... no, pull up, pull-"

Tony and Pepper watched in horror out the window as they saw the quinjet approaching the Brooklyn Bridge get struck down with a large blast of blue light from the bridge. Tony turned his gaze towards Pepper, who simply sighed. "I'll use one of the usual excuses."

Tony nodded, walking away from the elevator and towards the stairs behind the bar. He pressed down on the communicator in his ear. "Sorry to barge in Commander, but this looks like a job for our mutual friend." Tony could practically see his friend hanging his head in defeat. With the silent acceptance, Tony moved his finger away from the communicator, speaking out loud. "JARVIS, is the Centurion in the chamber?"

"Of course, sir."

Tony walked up to the top of the stairs, which led to a small landing. To the left was a set of sliding glass doors that led out to a small landing platform. To the right, however, was a sliding cylindrical door that opened to reveal the front half of the suit. Tony walked up into it as if it were second nature, lifting his arms to fit into the outstretched figure of the suit. As his feet slid into the boots, the chamber began spinning as metal arms lowered themselves to stitch up the armor. Within seconds, the silver and red metal plating locked in around him. By the time he was facing the sliding glass doors on the other side, the suit had closed in around him and the faceplate slid down. It always took a moment until the display inside the helmet, but the red and blue display lit up to provide data accompanying the panorama view to match what his vision would show. The Iron Man lifted both of his feet out of the footholds in the chamber, and walked out onto the launch pad. Tony lowered his hands to his sides with his palms facing downwards, and the repulsors on his legs and feet activated to launch the Iron Man into the air.

Tony flew down low, weaving in between the skyscrapers of Manhattan as he approached the Brooklyn Bridge. He could hear screaming and police sirens, the wails of ambulances approaching and shouting on megaphones. All of it sort of blended in together at this point as the Iron Man raced towards the terrorists. And within but a few moments, Tony began making his main approach as he flew over the highway directly towards the bridge. His HUD began automatically marking the terrorists, little parts of his screen zooming in to confirm the beekeeper-like hostiles. And, of course, part of his screen zoomed in and held on a large metal truck that had a large cannon on top of it. The interior of the cannon began glowing blue, and Tony squinted his eyes as he heard something faint in the audio mix coming from the internal speakers. "JARVIS... isolate the audio coming from the cannon."

"Right away, sir." Almost instantaneously, all the sounds of New York were stripped away. The roaring winds and thunderous sounds of his repulsors launching him forward were stripped as well, leaving a single sound. A familiar whining sound that Tony had first heard years upon years ago. His eyes widened.

"That's... a repulsor cannon?!"
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Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Bounce
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Bounce

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| OPERATION LUMBERJACK
| January 30, 1945

You learned to listen for the whistle.

A boom followed by a whistle meant that the shell was outbound.

A whistle in the air, growing louder? It meant that the boom was incoming.

The young man should have still been in high school. He looked like someone who might have been the football team running back or maybe a track star. Possibly both. If he said he was sixteen, then he was lying about his age. As had many other youths in order to join the war effort that had claimed so many of their father’s and brother’s lives.

Bullets whizzed through the air, as the faint echo of something like thunder revealed German machine gun positions. Vaulting through the blown out window of what may have, at one time, been a storefront, the young American all-star flew from out of the structure. Rifle in arms, he tucked and rolled as he ducked behind a stack of firewood.

The structure he’d been in just a moment earlier blew apart in an explosion that momentarily stunned him.

A hand slapped down on his shoulder, roughly snapping the teen from out of his daze.

The boy wore the uniform of a U.S. Army private first class. The stencil on the chest read BATSON.

The hand that had shaken him belonged to a youth who was barely older. Maybe seventeen. He looked like he should have been enrolling as a freshman in college, not ducking German artillery on the Belgium border. The name stenciled on his chest was RAYMOND.

They all called him Toro.

The younger boy tried to breath, found himself choking on the acrid smell of smoke and gave a cough. Turning his head, he spit and then labored to catch his breath. When he finally looked up, he said, “I thought they said ‘lightly defended.’”

“The Soviets may have a slightly different definition of that than we do,” Toro quipped back.

Billy just gave a shake of his head as he sat up. Pulling his back against the wood pile. Cradling the rifle, the youth dared to peek out from one side. A flying flying by his head prompted him to quickly duck back again. “All right, I’ll go up the middle,” Billy announced, turning back toward Toro. “You go over top and...”

There was a strange sound.

It wasn’t thunder. And it wasn’t a mortar. It wasn’t a tank either. Glancing upward, the two youths were presented by the sight of a rocket taking off into the air.

That would probably be the rocket that they’d come to stop the launch of.

“Change of plan,” Toro announced. The smell of smoke grew strong, as flames started to appear along the teen’s form. Fiery eyes looked over at Billy, as the teen kicked his head to one side to indicate the German machine gun positions. “I’ve got this,” Toro announced firmly.

“And I’ve got that,” Billy uttered, giving a heavy sigh. Tossing his rifle to one side, the teen pulled himself into a crouching runner’s start.

Then he took off from the imaginary starting line. Bullets flew by, but a whoosh sound told him that Toro had started the fireworks to draw the German fire with some of his own.

Gritting his teeth, Billy’s boots dug into the earth as he put some more distance between himself and Toro, before he shouted, “SHAZAM!”

Lightning came down, arcing with a brilliant flash that enveloped the teen’s form. Thunder rolled as the light faded, revealing a red and gold clad figure with a white cape.

Transitioning from a sprint into a jump, the caped figure launched into the air. Another boom echoed a second later, as the figure accelerated like a rocket. In the town below -- or what remained of it -- glass could be heard blowing out as the figured sailed through the air in pursuit of the rocket.

The Soviets hadn’t offered a lot of information about just what this rocket was. Honestly, they probably hadn’t wanted to share any information at all, except it was clear that they were afraid of it and only the Americans had been in a position to engage the Belgian border towns.

Flying through the air, the youth slid up the rocket. Pressing his hands against it, the boy’s blue eyes peered around for options. Maybe he could pull it higher into the air and detonate it there?

No, they were about to go over the English channel.

Angling the rocket steeply downward, the crimson hero split off along the water’s surface as the rocket crashed into the ocean.

A violent water spout erupted a moment later, sending a light sprinkle of salt mist over the youth as he seemed to hover in mid-air.

Billy gave a heavy sigh, before looking back toward the direction that he’d left Toro.

Billy Batson.

The voice of the wizard.

There was a momentary feeling of vertigo, as though the youth were being pulled away to somewhere else. He felt his body starting to shrink, as he started reverting back to his true self. A now-familiar feeling of dislocation gripped him, the boy began to stammer, Notnow. Notnow. Notnow...

It was too late. When the feeling had subsided, the boy found himself standing inside of what looked like a temple hewn from rough stone. At the top of which was a dark skinned old man with a gnarled cane and an unkempt beard. “I gave you my power and you used it to fight a war,” Shazam uttered, his wearied, aged voice booming like thunder despite his physical frailty. “You must answer for your actions, Billy Batson.”

Looking down at himself, the sleeves of the Army fatigue shirt he wore extended past his arms. Comically, the boy in the military uniform that was now too big for him looked over and said, “My friend’s back there,” Billy barked, hand outstretched as though pleading as he added, “He could be in trouble...”

The familiar feeling of dislocation gripped him. The interior of the temple seemed to spin.

When it had stopped, Billy found himself standing in a square pulpit. A dias reared overhead, with three figures looking down at him.

Looking to his left and right, all that was missing was chains. As the scene resolved itself in his mind, Billy understood that he was on trial. In a very literal sense. Turning his head back up, he recognized Shazam in the center of the three. The other had the face of a horse, while the third was a woman with black hair pulled back into a high ponytail.

“Not to fight a war,” Billy offered, picking up on the wizard’s words. “To put an end to war.”

“Do you have any idea how many innocent lives the American bombing campaign has claimed?” the horse-faced figure demanded gruffly. “Can you truly claim to be the force of good in this conflict?”

Toro was probably still dodging bullets and these three talking heads wanted to have a philosophical debate? “War is war. Fighting to bring an end to hostilities is conflict,” Billy reasoned aloud, before adding, “It’s not perfect and neither are we.”

“You have known fear,” Shazam uttered, as the old man stared down on the youth.

Before he could answer, the woman added, “And you have known pain.”

“And you have known death,” the horse-faced figure intoned.

“Good.”

“Good?” There was a level of disgust in his voice, which the boy didn’t bother to attempt to mask or hide.“Good? That I saw men and women -- children -- their bodies...” Billy’s mouth hung open, but no words were forthcoming. He had no words that could provide any meaningful description. Hell. Hell on Earth was about as close as he could fathom.

Allowing his arm to drop by his side, the youth drew in a breath before saying, “You can’t imagine what I saw in Poland.”

“We have seen it,” the woman uttered coldly. “All of it, and more. Many times across countless centuries on innumerable worlds.”

“Did you think that humanity had a monopoly on atrocity?” the horse-faced figure asked sharply.

Billy looked up, a quizzical expression on his face. He looked away for a moment, then back toward the horse-faced judge. But he had nothing to say.

“Perhaps you do begin to understand,” the horse-faced figure noted dryly.

“He is ready.”

There was a certain finality to that statement that didn’t sit well with Billy. “Ready? Ready for wh--” he began.

The horse-faced figure interjected. “The boy is impatient.”

“So was I, if you remember,” the woman noted simply.

“There is nothing more he can learn from me.”

“Learn?” Billy echoed. What was he supposed to have learned? “You... you told me to say your name and then I just fought in the war in Europe,” the boy remarked, confused, as he turned his head up toward the old wizard. “I still don’t understand what it is that you chose me for.”

The question hung in the air. The woman stood and walked away. The horse-faced figure did the same. The courtroom seemed to fall away, the familiar sensation of vertigo gripping him as reality seemed to spin around until the boy was back inside of the temple.

Except the old wizard was no longer seated at the top of the dias.

Staring around the darkness inside the temple, the boy asked, “What am I supposed to do?”

That, Billy Batson, is the right question.



[ Start ] [ Soundtrack ] [ Next ]

| WASHINGTON ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
| Present Day

“Your human methods of education seem most inefficient.”

The last bell had rung. Car pools snaked around the front of the school, as kids and teachers filtered from inside and out of the public school complex that occupied this part of the city block.

Billy had slung his backpack down, organizing his books and materials as a boy leaning on a pair of crutches hobbled over to share the table with him.

A weak smile played at Billy’s face. “You say that, but I definitely don’t remember having this much stuff to memorize when I was going to school before the war,” Billy offered, even as he looked around to see who might be listening.

With most kids trying to get home as fast as possible. There were not a lot that were lingering in the school yard. And only a few that Billy even recognized.

“With all the interest in the shuttle launch, I’m surprised at the inability to comprehend the basic physics of a Lagrange Point when..."

As the other boy prattled on, Billy was mildly aware of a strange feeling. Scrutinizing the school yard more closely, at first he thought that he was imagining it, until he saw her.

“Billy?”

His name snapped him from out of his brooding. Looking over at the other boy, as though confused, Billy stammered a moment before he asked, “I’m sorry. What?”

“Is something the matter?” the deceptively-looking human boy inquired. “You were staring at Courtney.”

“Yeah,” Billy uttered. Then seemed to realize the implication and immediately recanted. “I mean, no,” he stammered. Then, trying to explain, added, “There’s something about her.”

The other boy just tilted his head to one side, as though slightly taken aback. “Your physical body hasn’t been outside of the Rock of Eternity in several decades. Are you experiencing pubertal development?”

“What?” Billy asked sharply. “No, I mean her corporeal form seems normal, but I’m sensing an energy from her that isn’t human.”

The other boy turned his head, glancing at the blonde-haired girl across from them in the school yard.

Then seemed to do a double-take.

“Right!?” Billy asked, finding both relief and vindication in the other boy’s reaction.

“You are correct. But it is too faint for me to discern the precise origin,” the other boy remarked flatly. Then, turning back toward Billy, noted, “In either case, our remaining here past the allotted education hours would be an impractical use of our time.”

“In other words, you’re ready to bail.”

The idiom seemed to almost irritate the Kymellian in human clothing. “That is what I have indicated,” the other boy stated, with a slight shake of his head. “Were you still planning to visit the geriatric care facility that you mentioned?”

“It’s called a retirement home,” Billy corrected lightly, before adding, “And yes. Once I figured out how to use that Google thing in the library, I think someone I know might be there.”

“You are soon to be a hundred years old, Billy Batson,” the other boy stated flatly. “Members of your species are not typically as long lived. I would encourage you to seek emotional detachment from the people of your former life. These emotional entanglements will only form distractions.”

Heaving his backpack from off the table, Billy slung it over one shoulder. “When have you ever known me to be distracted?” he asked, flashing the so-called Freddy Freeman a smile.

The Kymellian in disguise, picked up his crutches and prepared to shuffle away. “Would you like that list alphabetically or chronologically?”

Billy just gave a slight nod of his head. “You heading back to Friday?”

“Correct. I wish to complete the book report on this Great Gatsby and then check in with Kymellia.,” the alien boy noted.

“I’ll see you later, then,” Billy offered.

The two youths walked away from the table.

As Freddy Freeman passed behind one corner of the school, the boy seemed to disappear into thin air.

As Billy passed behind a tree, he seemed to do the same.
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Washington D.C.

Steve could feel the beads of sweat forming on his forehead, the pressure of the situation getting to him, no matter how unflappable his public persona seemed to be. He studied the table in front of him, knowing that his next move could very well be his last. All the while, the timer ticked down to the moment where all this thinking would be for naught. He was running out of time.

Holding his breath, Steve winced, reached down, and made his move.

He barely had his eyes open, waiting for the sign that he hadn't just made a huge mistake.

After a few seconds which felt like eternity, a small clink and a chuckle told him it was all over, "Checkmate."

"Are you kidding me?" Rogers groaned and inspected the chess board as the bright, late-summer sun shone across DuPont Circle. He searched for any possible move he could make to escape his predicament, but there was none to be had. There never was. His opponent was far too good at this.

"You know, for someone who supposedly had their brain juiced by a magic serum, you really suck at chess," the old man across from Rogers smiled, the lines in his face getting deeper and more plentiful as he did. It was moments like these that Steve could hardly believe that this was Bucky Barnes, his oldest friend. Back in the day, when they were both just boys, Bucky had been the handsome one, the one full of life and boundless energy. Now he was nearly a century old, and though he still had all his mental faculties, physically he was a shell of his former self. Still, Steve was more than happy he had his friend for as long as he had after coming out of the ice.

"Hey, it didn't implant chess in my head," Rogers shrugged.

"It made you a strategic genius," Bucky's deadpan response drew a laugh from Steve. "You just never pay attention when we're playing. You'd stomp me if you weren't thinking about one terrorist or another."

Rogers narrowed his eyes at his old friend, who hit the nail right on the head as always. AIM had been quiet lately, to the point where Steve was worried about what they were up to. On and off for five years they had been causing trouble across the globe, but for the last three months SHIELD hadn't heard a peep. Some were sleeping better at night because of it, but Steve Rogers just assumed they were in the calm before the storm. And the longer the calm, the worse the storm.

"You're worried something's coming, huh?" Bucky roused Steve from his own thoughts.

"Call it a hunch," Captain America shrugged, and looked over the park. It was packed, as it should have been on a beautiful day. Steve saw a pair of joggers, possibly a couple, laughing as they exercised. A mother pushed her child in a stroller, smiling as the baby cooed. In the distance he could see a group of teens playing football. It was like a postcard, the kind of day a cynical man would find stereotypical and trite. But not Steve, he saw everything he had fought for in WWII, and what he continued to fight for.

He caught Bucky smiling at him slyly out of the corner of his eye. He turned to his old friend and raised and eyebrow, "What?"

"See a life you'd like to be living out there? One you could have if you gave all this up?"

Steve rolled his eyes, "No. The chance at that ended when Peggy fell and I went into the ice."

The words sting Buck as much as they do him. He still thinks of Peggy Carter often, and it's never easy. She was his one true love, the one chance he had at true happiness. But that was gone now, and duty was all there was.

"There's too much craziness in this world for me to even try, Buck," Steve added with an apologetic tone. He realized the last answer was far too harsh. "I'd never be able to sleep if I gave it all up and something happened I could have stopped."

"Steve...there's a guy flying around now who can lift ever HYDRA tank we ever trashed over his head with one hand. I'm not saying you're not needed...but there are people who could pick up the slack," Bucky smiled, but with a sadness. He knew no matter how hard he tried, he wouldn't live to see his friend settled down and happy. Really happy.

"And not even he can do everything," Steve winked, but the playfulness he hoped would be in the gesture was absent. It was nothing but a reflex to try and assure his friend that he'd be alright.

Before either of them could say another word, a gust of air slapped them in the face. Steve gathered up Bucky's chess set before it blew away and handed it to him.

"Speak of the devil," Buck muttered.

From above, the whir of an engine could be heard, and a black shape like a giant bird blotted out the sunshine. In a clearing, a Quinjet set down an out stepped a man whose skin radiated back the light. Piotr Rasputin, the mutant known as Colossus, approached the two men, "Captain Rogers. Lieutenant Barnes."

"Pete, how many times do I have to tell you to call me Steve?" Rogers sighed with good humor.

"At least once more, sir. We have an issue."

"AIM?"

"AIM," he confirmed.

"Duty calls," Bucky shrugged at Steve. "Guess we'll have to wait a little longer for you to get your butt kicked again."

Steve smiled and gave his friend a parting hug, "Next time I'm gonna get you, old man."

"Who you callin' old?" Bucky shot back with fake indignation. "You're a whole month and a half older than I am. You're the old one."

"And sometimes I feel that way, buddy," Steve smiled.
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Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by TGM
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TGM Clichéd Tsundere

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“Intergalactic Space Crusaders”
Prologue



“Hold on.” The Green Lantern paused, holding up her hand as a bright green light flickered from the power ring on her hand. “I gotta take this.”


“Lantern Mullein, there is a critical Class 3 extranormal threat on route to your destination.”

Even after half-a-decade, Sojourner Mullein still hadn’t quite gotten used to the Green Lantern Corps’ artificial intelligence that she had come to know as AYA. Wearing the ring gave her access to not only the powers given to her by Ion and the Guardians, but also it gave the supercomputer’s AI access to her brain. It was invasive. Kilowog said she would get used to it eventually, which wasn’t really the case.

That said, it was good to know when there was extranormal threats inbound to the planet she called home.

“Class 3? That’s an unidentified object of dangerous mass and velocity. A NEO?”

“Correct. I would advise you to immediately move to contain it. You do not want it to reach its target vectors.”

Giant space rock. Collision course with Earth. It was a classic science fiction trope. But this wasn't Hollywood and being a space cop and member of the Justice League meant these sort of things were her bread and butter. Though she really wished these sort of things happened when she wasn’t in the middle of therapy. Being a space cop didn’t exactly pay in American dollars and the whole Justice League gig was very pro-bono. All of her Earth-based income was from public appearances and needing to protect an entire sector of space cut into a lot of her time. Still, it was better than the alternative.

“Sorry Doc, I've--”

“I heard. Unidentified object, right?” The psychiatrist smiled warmly as he pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose.

“We'll continue this later.”

Awkward. She supposed she should’ve responded to AYA in her head, especially in the presence of her psychiatrist, but it just wasn’t something she consciously thought about doing. Besides, thinking wasn’t something she did a whole lot. She was more about acting, even when it wasn’t in her best interest to do so. Was one of the reasons the NYPD kicked her ass out of the door without a second thought.

A green hue surrounded the superheroine as she got up to her feet before moving to the nearest window. Green energy split through the gap, forcing it open after releasing the lock. In a matter of seconds she was gone from the Gotham City office and lighting up the sky as a trail of energy followed her as she headed toward the stratosphere, leaving her therapy session inconclusive. But as they said, she had bigger fish to fry. While she was still in communications range she made a quick mental note to explain the situation to any of the other members of the Justice League that were listening. Not that most of them could help. Hell, only one of them probably could assist her if she needed any.

Still. It had to be done.

All things considered, she had to hand it to the king of brooding. The network he had established around an old satellite had come pretty useful for coordination and coordination was something useful. She still wondered about all of Batman's connections and resources, but generally she had more fish to fry. She didn't make a habit out of interrogating her allies.

“Justice League, this is Green Lantern. We’ve got a problem with a wild piece of space rock that's on a collision course for, well, us. I’m responding as fast I can.”

The message seemed clear enough.

“If things go wrong, someone's going to have to catch debris with their face.”

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Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Mao Mao
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Mao Mao Sheriff of Pure Hearts (They/Them)

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BLACK PANTHER
REAWAKENED
THE HIDDEN PARADISE // 01.00.00

Royal Palace of Wakanda // Birnin Zana
T'Chaka was becoming more concerned about his son after he sought advice from his ancestors at Birnin Mutata. He, his family, and the Taifa Ngao had been waiting an hour for his return. His wife, N'Yami, tried to comfort him to no effect while Shuri was on her phone. Nearby, the councilors were gathered into one area and began discussing the king's decision to visit the City of the Dead. Abeni listened as his fellow associates were essentially gossiping about T'Challa and the reason behind his sudden departure so quickly after the battle with Ulysses. Most of them assumed that the invasion attempt had something to do with the leave.

Councilor Hodari turned his sights to Abeni and began talking to him about the issue. "Abeni, what are your thoughts on the matter?"

Abeni thought of an answer and responded, "I'm wondering if our king sought counsel after the attempted murder on the outsider."

"That could make sense." Hodari seemed supportive of Abeni's theory. "He looked horrified after he cut off the terrorist's arm."

Amara Azikiwe rolled her eyes and dismissed the idea that their king was terrified of striking back ruthlessly. "Our king is the Black Panther. He isn't afraid of some blood."

"But he isn't as cruel as T'Chaka was."

"That makes sense because I heard that he's considering disbanding the Hatut Zeraze due to their cruelty." Other councilors were caught off guard by what Hodari said. Before they could have time to process the information, the Royal Talon Fighter appeared from a distance and began approaching them. Everyone got into position and waited to hear what the king had to say after seeking out his ancestors. Meanwhile, T'Chaka finally felt relief that his son had returned and waited for the fighter to land before welcoming him back.

When the ramp was lowered, his younger brother, S'Yan, walked past him and everyone else while typing something onto a notepad. T'Chaka immediately knew that something serious had taken place while in the Ancestral Plane. T'Challa emerged from the jet with Okoye by his side. His father greeted his son at the bottom of the ramp, "My son, I am grateful for your return from Necropolis. I hope you found what you were looking for."

"I did." T'Challa acknowledged his father and then turned his attention to everyone else. "After visiting with my ancestors, and meditating on their words, I have to make the most difficult decision in Wakandan history. We cannot remain in the shadows anymore."

"My king, I don't understand."

"It's time that the world truly knows Wakanda."


Throne Room // Royal Palace of Wakanda
The king's announcement caught everyone off-guard, especially T'Chaka, who immediately expressed concern about it. Instead of arguing back, T'Challa told his father to wait in the throne room to discuss in private. When he entered, S'Yan was finishing up a conversation with one of the Hatut Zeraze. His young brother dismissed the stranger and then went to greet his sibling. T'Chaka smiled. "It's always good to see you too, brother."

"I should be on my way."

T'Chaka's smile faded. "...What happened at Necropolis?"

"What do you-"

"You know what I'm talking about. What did our ancestors say to my son?"

S'Yan sighed and turned around to face his brother. "We both know that I can't answer the question."

"I know. But... I am talking about our home. It's at risk of being destroyed for good." T'Chaka approached his brother and grabbed his shoulders. "Everything that our ancestors did to protect Wakanda will be for nothing! But if I know what happened, then I can stop him before he does something unwise."

"How is it 'unwise' if one wants to protect their people for danger?" T'Challa caught the siblings off guard with the question and his presence. Both men immediately bowed and remained silent until the king allowed them to speak. T'Challa did a poor job of hiding his cringed expression at their need to preserve nonsense etiquettes like that and quickly told them to stand. "You don't need to keep doing that. Just... answer the question, please."

"I wish to not offend you, my son, but whatever you're planning isn't the way that I taught you. You're supposed to protect Wakanda." T'Chaka responded without holding back at his son, even if it was difficult to do.

"And I am."

"By revealing this?" T'Chaka gestured at the window with his hand. "The reason why our cities and society continues on thriving is that outsiders don't know of its existence. If they knew of our beauty, they wouldn't hesitate to tear it apart for their selfish reasons."

"They already tried that." T'Challa was referring to Ulysses and his recent attack against Wakanda. He pressed his wrist beads, and several television screens rose beside the throne. Then, it began to play footage of the outsiders' heroes fighting against extraterrestrial threats in recent years, including the battles that made them famous. "What would Wakanda have done if the Justice League fell under the control of Starro? Or the Avengers died while fighting against the Chitauri? Praise the centuries-old isolationism policy to our people while the planet is being enslaved?"

"You know exactly what the outsiders did to the continent, and that's why they cannot be trusted!"

"Why are you afraid?" T'Challa boldly asked.

T'Chaka was taken back by his son's claim and lashed back. "Afraid?! You dare to say that after everything that I did! I kept peace in Wakanda as its king and protector!"

"And now, I'm doing the same." T'Challa walked passed his father and went to the throne. It was mostly made out of vibranium with random materials used to refurbish it. Like recently, its arms were replaced with ones that looked like panthers. He took a moment to relish them before sitting down and continuing the heart-to-heart. "I realized that there was a world beyond our borders. A world where I need to grapple with before it consumes us all. And, though its people may not know it yet, so does Wakanda."

T'Chaka approached the throne and cold-heartedly stared at his son. "Reveal Wakanda to the world and you will tarnish both the throne and the mantle!"

"Or make them flourish." And with that, T'Chaka realized that the conversation was going nowhere. So, he dismissed himself from the throne room. S'Yan awkwardly stood there until his brother was out of the room and approached the throne as the television screens were being lowered back to the ground. He saw how deeply disturbed his nephew was about the argument and decided to offer some words of comfort.

"I.. I will talk to your father once he's calmed. Maybe he will understand what you're doing is for the greater good of Wakanda after listening to his younger brother."

"Thanks, uncle. I won't know what to do without you." T'Challa smiled. "Now, have our agents received the invitations?"

"Yes, your highness. Before your father arrived, I was told that the embassy offices should get them within the hour."

"Good."


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Midgard was once a world with Pantheons upon Pantheons, more Gods than many other worlds combined. The small, seemingly insignificant rock adrift in space a nexus point for various realms to come together. Over time some faded into obscurity, others left the realm altogether. While others continued to play with their influence on the world, subtly interacting with the world according to their grand design. This is not the tale of one such God. This is the tale of…




THE SKIES // TEXAS // MIDGARD


There was a time when Thor had not answered prayers, such thoughts plagued his mind as the thunder rolled through the skies of Midgard. In the time before, when Asgard was but one of the many Pantheons interacting with Midgard, he had only cared for very little. The young(er) Godling, so tired of his training, so tired of the rules of Asgard and off his father, had turned his back on them and journeyed to Midgard. He couldn’t remember all the women he bedded and it was even less likely he could remember the foes he felled. The question often raised was ‘why had he killed?’. He wished that he could say it was due to some form of noble sacrifice, but instead it had been for the thrill. The raw power, the idea that the men he faced on the battlefield. Well, their lives were in his hands. There was a reason Thor had not been worthy of Mjolnir in the age of vikings, and even now he could still feel Mjolnir weigh heavy in his hand at the mere thought of it.

Now he had a different purpose.

NOXVILLE // TEXAS // MIDGARD


In the skies above the playground dark clouds billowed and roared in the distance, lightning danced behind them illuminating the sky. Had anyone truly been paying attention they may have even sworn that a figure moved through those clouds. Instead, all focus was on a group of boys surrounding one lonely girl, small and blonde tears ran down her face despite all her resolve, and courage. “-Shut up that’s not true!”

“Ah-huh. My Dad told me so, your dad is one of those freaks, what do you call them? Muties. Hear he even prays to Thor and Wonder Woman.” The lead bully outstretched his hand and pushed the girl by her shoulder, hard enough to knock her back however she was strong. She stayed on her feet.

“I bet that’s why he’s not here today, too ashamed to show his mutie face.” Two of the kids gave each other another high five. In the background the parents stood watching on, some of the kids looked back as the girl burst into tears, worried that one of the parents or guardians brought today might move to intervene. Lucky for them nobody was going to help the daughter of one of those Woken freaks. Believed that Thor and all his Asgard buddies were actual Gods and started to worship them instead of the one true God.

Just before the children could let loose another string of insults and abuse the school bell rang. Everyone moved inside the school as raindrops began to fall. Everyone except one scared little girl who stood alone crying. She wasn’t alone for long as two heavy feet landed beside her. Thor placed Mjolnir on the ground between them, kneeling as he placed a hand on her shoulder. “Are you alright child?”

The girl recoiled slightly and gasped. “T...T...Thor?”

The God of Thunder merely nodded. “Aye. I was on my return to Asgard when I heard your prayers.”

The girl looked confused. “I didn’t say any prayers sir-”

“Call me Thor, as your people would say. The All-Father was my sire.” Thor did his best to give a reassuring smile. “You may not have knowingly called out to me, but us Gods are a strange bunch and so I am here to help. Tell me your name child, and what would you have me do?”

The girl smiled at school in what had felt like the first time in years. “My names Alison. My Daddy couldn’t come to school today and it is bring a parent or guardian to school day, I know your busy but could you-”

“It would be my honour, Alison.”

The two of them walked into school, through the hallway. The Janitor dropped his mop as they passed, Hope reached and opened the door walking into the classroom. The teacher turned to face her ignoring the man dressed as a mechanic that was standing at the front of the class. “Excuse me, Miss Blaire but if you can’t be bothered to arrive on time for my lesson then I suggest that someone of your nature would be best spending their time-”

Thor turned through the door and the whole classroom went quiet, from the teacher to the group of children and parents that had been whispering and sniggering among themselves at the back of the classroom, working his way through the door Alison moved towards her desk and signaled for Thor to join her. The teacher just grimaced as the Asgardian made his way through the room. The reactions of those in attendance were mixed, several of the cellular communication devices that humans coveted so much were already out taking photos of the Asgardian. As Thor moved to make his way to join Alison the teacher spoke up again. “Excuse me. Uh, Thor?

Thor turned to the teacher, he did his best to ignore the venom in the mortals voice instead, Thor faced him with a smile. A genuine smile, that a Grandfather might offer a Grandson who had broken rules he didn’t understand. The teacher stepped forward and offered his hand in the gesture of ‘shaking hands’. “Mr. Blackwood, I’m Miss Blaire’s teacher. I appreciate you coming down here, though I am afraid this talk is for parents and guardians only.”

“Hail friend Blackwood. I would be honored to speak, for I am truly a Guardian to Alice and to all. Guardian of all the nine realms as my duty as Prince of Asgard and Odinson. Your S.H.I.E.L.D has also appointed me Avenger-” He turned to face the class as he twirled Mjolnir in his hand. “-and the strongest Avenger.” There were one or two laughs from that, as well as a couple of people scoffing muttering to themselves. Those he ignored. Should someone wish to challenge his claim, they could do it to his face. “It is these duties that bring me here on this day, to speak to the next generation of heroes and leaders on behalf of Alice.” He smiled at Blackwood. “As such I shall await my turn quietly, Stark has shown me enough of your television productions to know the correct way to behave in these situations.” Thor would never admit it to the self-centered industrialist, but Starks’s plan for Thor to ‘modernize’ himself slightly through the use of television and radio had worked. Or so he thought.

Blackwood grimaced. “Fine. Should you wish to stay, please speak first-” He turned to the mechanic that was just stood at the front during all of this. “Apologies Mr.Thorn.” He turned back to the Prince of Asgard, the so-called God. “I just feel it’s for the best, you are causing a disruption in my class and the last thing we need is a supervillain tearing up the school or a media circus outside. I’m sure you can understand.”

Thor nodded. “Aye.” Walking to the front of the class he placed Mjolnir down on the floor and stepped back. “Forgive me, for this is my first time doing this.” He looked out at the rest of the class. “I am Thor, Odinson. Prince to Asgard and protector of the nine realms. Including Midgard, this world you call home, which is why I am an Avenger, the strongest Avenger. Now, what would you like to know?”

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Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Byrd Man
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Byrd Man El Hombre Pájaro

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Reality 000001
“The Maw”

Philbert J. Parnell squared his glasses and looked over the edge of the mesa once more. The pitch black of the Maw gaped below the rocky surface of the planet Scylla. Down at the bottom of the forty mile deep chasm lay the Madn N. Zondar Memorial Learning & Rehabilitation Center. No learning or actual rehabilitation took place at the bottom of the Maw. In Scylla’s native language, words often have the opposite meaning of their true purpose. It’s why Remul Sewage Water was the name of the best selling soda on the planet, and Healthy Water was the finest toilet declogger this side of the galaxy. It was also why the Zondar was not a place for growth and change, but instead of beatings and confinements.

The worst of the worst were housed in the facility. It wasn’t a planetary or even an intergalactic prison. No, the Zondar was the first and only interdimensional supermax prison in the known multiverse. It was where people like Space Hitler, Time-Traveling Manson, and the woman who invented checked baggage fees for flights were all imprisoned. And Parnell was heading straight into the madhouse.

Parnell felt a rumble beneath his expensive wingtips. He peered over the side of the balcony once more and saw a distant light in the dark below that was rapidly becoming brighter and larger. A shuttle roared out of the Maw and circled the mesa. Parnell had to hold on to his hat to prevent it from blowing away as the shuttle landed in front of him. A large insectoid alien dressed in body armor and wearing a visored riot helmet scuttled out of the shuttle and eyeballed Parnell. He noticed a score of tally marks drawn in white paint on the alien’s body armor.

“Assume scanning position,” said the guard.

Parnell held his hands above his head as the guard pulled a metallic ball from his belt. The orb floated away from the guard and rapidly flew around Parnell. He could feel a warm fuzziness in the hollow of his throat. Years later, when he was diagnosed with throat cancer, Parnell would look back at this moment in anger. And then, sadly, he would remember signing an iron-clad waiver that absolved the Madn N. Zondar Memorial Learning & Rehabilitation Center, its parent company Freedom & Happiness LLC, and all of its employees from any and all legal and financial responsibility during Parnell’s visit.

“You’re clean,” the guard said after the orb had finished its scan. “You may enter the shuttle now.”

Parnell rode down into the Maw aboard the shuttle. After ten minutes of darkness the prison complex below came into view. Slabs of windowless concrete buildings, some sixty stories high, stretched across the bottom of the Maw. It was the most depressing sight Parnell had ever seen. Just the sight of it brought tears to his eyes. Parnell had no way of knowing this, but that had been by design. In keeping with the theme of the entire project the facility’s architect had been subjected to his own form of torture during the drafting process. He had been forced to sit in a slightly rickety chair just a bit too small, draw his plans up with a drafting pencil that had poor quality lead, all the while he wore headphones that blasted nothing but S-Pop, high tempo pop music recorded by bellowing slugs, and audiobooks where the narrator had a distinct stutter. This discomfort had put him in such a bad mood that he set out to pass the pain along. Anyone who even glanced at the building would be overcome with a brief but a deep sense of melancholy. It’s why Parnell’s shuttle driver wore the visor. Going into the Zondar without eye protection was a rookie move.

They docked on the top on one of the skyscrapers. Parnell straightened the lapels of his suit as the airlock of the shuttle opened and he was greeted by a small platoon of guards. At the head of the pack was a human guard that wore the white uniform of a commander instead of body armor.

“Mr. Parnell,” the commander said. “Follow me, please. Any sudden movements and we will be forced to terminate you where you stand.”

“Yes,” said Parnell, slowly wiping a tear from his eye. “Of course.”

The squadron flanked Parnell on either side as he followed the commander down the corridors of the facility. Parnell felt an odd sense of deja vu at the sight of the concrete walls painted in a neutral taupe. Hung on the walls at fifty foot intervals were motivational posters. They featured cute pictures of puppies and children playing and said things like VIGILANCE: If you see Sandra near the commissary, please inform a correction’s officer. DISCIPLINE: Any infraction will result in a month of meals made personally by Sandra. And TORTURE: We’re for it! Parnell suddenly realized he felt like he was back in high school once again. This place was truly hell.

“You must have some well-connected friends, pal,” said the commander.

“Not me,” said Parnell. “Just my employers.”

“Well whoever it is running things they’ve done something no one has ever seen before. I was born here, I was raised here, and I will die here… probably in some brutal fashion at the hands of an inmate. Just like my daddy, his daddy before him, and my non-gender assigned ancestor before him. In all that time, no inmate has ever left the Zondar once they go down into the hole.”

“Money talks,” said Parnell. “The one true language that transcends the multiversal membrane.”

“Here we are.”

The commander stopped at a thick metal door. He held his hand palm out to an electronic eye. Parnell heard a low buzz and hum. The door hissed and started to slowly swing open. The guards that surrounded Parnell readied their weapons. On the other side of the door was a 7x7 cell covered with padded walls. A solitary figure stood in the middle of the cell, wrapped in a straitjacket and with a metal facemask covering their mouth. Parnell saw a mess of blonde, greying hair that hung down over the person’s shoulders.

“You’re getting out,” the commander told the prisoner. “But until you leave the Maw, you are still an inmate at this facility. I am removing your restraints. Any attempts to disobey my orders will result in your sudden and painful termination. Do you understand?”

The prisoner nodded. Pernell stood back and watched as two guards walked forward with the commander. They kept their rifles trained on the prisoner’s head as the commander loosened the straitjacket. When it was off, the prisoner removed the facemask. Parnell saw the face smiling back at him and felt a little queasy. Of all the people he had to come in here to collect, why did it have to be her?

“Why, hello,” Meryl Streep, the most dangerous criminal in the multiverse, said in a chipper tone. “And who are you?”

“Philbert J. Parnell,” he squeaked. “And I represent people who have paid a lot of money to see you freed.”

Parnell saw the sparkle in her eye as she spread her hands, slowly lest she be vaporized by the guards.

“Oh, stop it! Making such a big fuss over me.”




Reality #8675309
Peck Property & Casualty Insurance Offices

“Hey. I’m Mr. Dickhead. And I’m a real asshole. I go around dimensions and I do things like key your car, set your house on fire, and tea-bag your mom's vegetable soup. If you want to protect your shit against assholes like me, then get Greco Interdimensional Insurance today.”

“Waugh,” Howard the Duck snarled. He grabbed the remote on his desk and turned off the monitor mounted on the far wall of his office. He shook his head as he laid the remote back down beside a stack of three-ring binders.

Howard rubbed his temples with his feathered hands and sighed. “Greco, Greco, Greco.”

“A new ad?”

Bruce Banner walked through the door holding two cardboard coffee cups. He gave one to Howard while he kept the other. Howard took a deep pull off his coffee before talking.

“Yes. A new ad. I expect nothing less from the company that prioritizes marketing over superior coverage and products.”

Howard’s company did their own share of advertising. For awhile, Howard had been featured in commercials as Peck Property & Casualty Insurance’s Agent of the Year campaign. It was pretty straightforward. Howard gave a speech to the folks watching:

“Hi, folks. My name is Howard the Duck, and I am Peck Property & Casualty’s Agent of the Year for the year 2018 in realities 0003-0054, and 0057-0068, 1969 for all you groovy cats in realities 9813-44401, and the year of 42069 (nice) in the reality where everyone is perpetually sixteen years old. Along with my accolades, those same realities also named Peck Property & Casualty as the #1 insurance company for those years. How was it that over a thousand different dimensions recognized our work? It’s simple. At Peck Property & Casualty, all our agents go above and beyond the expectations of good service. It’s the Peck guarantee. And for an agent to be named agent of the year, it speaks to how far I will go to offer good service to my customers. Don’t take it from me, hear it from some of my insured:”

“As a power hungry dictator, I often have to face many threats from challengers both at home and abroad. When it looked like the cursed Richards would finally win the day, Howard assured that my plot armor insurance was up to date, and he also helped me figure out how to go get a good discount on Life Model Decoys. NO ONE BESTS DOOM! VENGEANCE WILL BE MINE, RICHARDS! Thanks, Howard.”

“*indecipherable howls.* *Yak bleating* *bones crunching* Howard. #1!”

“When some greedy executives tried to use me as a bargaining chip in their corporate negotiations, I was worried I would be kicked out of the cinematic universe I had just recently entered. So I called Howard and it turned out that he had me signed up fr reboot fatigue coverage for up to ten years. Take that, Andrew Garfield! What’s more, he told Kevin Fiege to &$@# off. Thanks, Howard!”

“So you see, I go the extra mile for my customers. It’s what all Peck Property & Casualty agents do. If you want to experience the different first hand, give us a call and get your quote in as little as ten minutes, or go to peckpac.com or .org or .biz or .boobs, depending on your reality. Peck Property & Casualty, no slogans, just good service.”

"Good coffee, Bruce," said Howard. "You always do a great job.

"There's a science to it," said Banner. "And of the few things I know, science is one of them."

Howard watched his trainee sip coffee from across his desk. To Howard, Banner looked like a college professor. Round, rimless glasses with long graying hair pulled back into a ponytail. Hard to believe that the Hulk was inside him, just waiting to come out. But Banner had insisted that those days were behind him. In Bruce's reality, the Avengers had a falling out after Hawkeye spiked the lemonade at the Avengers annual picnic with laxative. They'd called the event Civil War 3, which Howard fully couldn't quite grasp. What had happened in Civil War's 1 and 2? Regardless, the fight had been brutal and Banner gave up both the Hulk and the dimension for a second life here with him. Howard had his doubts on if Bruce really had banished the Hulk. On one hand, having the Hulk as backup would be great. But as an insurance man, a raging monster who destroyed property left and right was a nightmare. Think of how high his premiums must be!

“Enough about advertising, let’s look at the Book.”

Howard placed a small metal cube on the desk and pressed the single button on the cube’s smooth surface. A hologram projection showed a network of dots across a great expanse. There were plenty of green dots, several red dots, and a vast collection of black dots.

“Pop quiz,” announced Howard. “What do the color coding on the dots mean?”

“Green is a dimension where you have at least one insured client,” said Banner. “Red means that you don’t. And black means those are realities where there is no interdimensional traffic, so they are outside of PP&C’s coverage.”

“Correct. And what does…. It mean when a green dot is flashing yellow?”

Banner looked at Howard with a puzzled expression.

“I don’t know, Mr. The Duck.”

“Call me Howard. Mr. The Duck was my father.” Howard pointed towards hologram map of the Book. One of the green dots was in fact pulsing a deep amber color.

“That means that one of our insured is currently in the process of filing a claim.”

Howard pressed the button on the Book again and zoomed in to the dot. Information crawled across the display beside the flashing dot.

REALITY # 3311
LOCATION: EARTH
INSURED: US PRESIDENT MCGILLICUTTY (JOINT GLOBAL POLICY)
CLAIM: ALIEN INVASION
COVERAGE: YES

“Alright,” said Howard. He pushed stood up and rifled through the drawers of his desk. He pulled out a large rifle and tossed Banner a black rectangular device. “That’s an interdimensional beacon. It’s how we move between realities. Keep it clipped to your belt and never have it leave your sight.”

Howard flicked a button on the rifle. It sparked blue energy and began to hum. He looked at Banner and winked.

“Let’s go give some great service.”
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Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Hillan
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Hillan I'm a writer - Lying's what we do.

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"One Last Ride Pt. 1"


His eyes opened for the first time in five years. Waking up in a ditch not far from where he died a decade and a half ago. Where the gangsters had killed him and he and Roxanne had made their pacts. The one where he had sworn vengence, and she had sworn protection of the man she loved. Neither of these pacts were carried out, Roxanne broke hers and Johnny was betrayed. The ground was damp. Rain was pouring down. He was wearing a dirty white T-shirt, a pair of ripped jeans and a pair of black work boots he usually wore. He was... Alive. Sure, he had been present, sort of. In hell, you aren't alive, and you aren't gone. They keep you awake, aware. But it's a different kind, your soul is active, but your brain and body are gone.

As he laid there bondering the metaphysics of it all, he felt his lungs fill with air. The cold drops of the fall rain should've bothered him, but there was a soothing quality to them. While the grass was grimy and he was dirty, it was still the most beautiful thing he had ever felt.

He sat up, looking at his hands, flexing his fingers. Incapable of believing the fact that he had a body again. For but a moment, he was so excited that the only emotion that he felt was joy. Glee. Maybe it had all been a bad dream, a nightmare. Maybe Hell wasn't real, and he had never ridden on that horse made out of fire and steel. Maybe he had never felt his skin burn off his skin, and maybe Roxanne was still alive and well.

But as his eyes were drawn to a satchel hanging on the branch on the tree above him, he knew his naive thoughts were just that. Hell was real, and he was sent back to earth with a purpose. A dire one, at that. He looked at the satchel, in it was the shiny blade he had been gifted for his purpose, a few of his earthly belongings. And a note.


It was Enochian, and as Johnny read it, his arm began to burn, a searing pain in his right arm. On it Enochian runes appeared, a spell. He couldn't read them, but he understood what they meant. They were the agreement he had with the underworld. With Mephisto. He knew there was no getting out of it. And he had but one choice.

He tore the letter out of the satchel, crushed it and threw it away. It evaporated into flames and a foul smell of darkness. He pulled the leather jacket out of the satchel, as well as checking the Sawed Off Shotgun that was put into one of the pockets. He had made it himself when he was 14, butchering his dad's old hunting shotgun. The double barreled shotgun had served Johnny, and the Ghost Rider, well. And it would do so again.

But he was without his bike, and there was only one place to go to find it again. Reyes Scrapyard. The scrapyard was a biker clubhouse run by Robert Reyes, the meanest motherfucker the Eastern Seaboard ever produced to ride a bike - well, second meanest.
They were the Reyes Devils, and they were all a mean bunch. But if anyone took care of his motorcycle after his demise, Johnny knew it would be Reyes.




A few hours later, riding in a rusty old Chevy he had stolen. Johnny pulled up to the clubhouse, located on a 150 year old scrapyard, one that once had been used as a oil refinery, then a mafia moonshining place, and a scrapyard under Reyes grandpa, and now, a clubhouse. Johnny wore a hoodie under his leather jacket, covering his face. He walked in, the biker guarding the door stopped him.

"You are not getting in. You're not in the crew, turn around or you will get hurt." The biker promised, his vest said 'Breaker' on it, a shitty nickname for a shitty biker. But in his waistband was a .40 cal, and he looked willing to use it.

Johnny broke his nose, knocking him out and walked in.

Inside the clubhouse, the music was loud. It was some new shit Blaze hadn't heard before. He noted all of the stairways up and down, if he knew Robbie, he would have his office at the top of the clubhouse, so, two floors up. And he'd have it well and properly guarded. But he simply didn't bother stalking his way up there. He instead walked up to the bar, where the guy with the most patches on his vest stood, meaning he was the highest ranked among the bikers on the floor.

Johnny walked up, looked the bartender in the eye and ordered a shot of whiskey, the bartender eyed the Biker to Blaze's side nervously, before he walked away to get the drink. They knew the guy wasn't from here. The biker turned to him and looked him up and down.
"And who the fuck are you? What are you doing in our bar?" And Johnny smirked.
"I'm here to talk to Reyes. Your boss, fatso." He told the far bigger biker who didn't take kindly to the insult. He was about to rebuttle the insult when the door burst open, the guard from outside fell in, yelling about his broken nose, pointing at Johnny.

"Oh, so he's woken up." Blaze noted, the bigger biker in front of him cussed a 'son of a bitch' as he swung his arm at Johnny. He ducked under it, uppercutting him with his left and then jabbing him in the gut with his right, as the guy was hunched over, he ate a knee to the plexus and then got a double-handed swing to the back of his head, dunking his face into the counter of the bar, teeth flying.
He collapsed on the floor. Johnny was panting slightly, looking at all of the other really pissed off bikers in the club.
"Now, where the hell is Reyes?!" He shouted, as a creek in the stairs was heard and down came the boss.

Johnny smirked, turning back to the barkeep.
"I'll take that drink now." Johnny had barely time to taste the shitty whiskey before nine bikers had knives, a shotgun, a automatic pistol, revolvers and a taser to his head. He looked at the guy with the taser and mouthed 'really'.
Reyes looked him up and down.
"Who the hell are you, walking in here smelling like a burning building and beating up my guys?"
One of his bikers pulled down Johnny's hood, shocking Reyes to see his once-dead friend.

"Hi, Robbie. Long time no talk. You never write anymore." He joked, his cocky smile creeping further on his face.

"Where the hell is my bike?"

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Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Byrd Man
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Byrd Man El Hombre Pájaro

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Earth #3311
The White House

President J.J. McGuillicutty checked his watch for the third time in the past ten minutes. The sound of the ticking clock seemed almost deafening to him. Besides the clock it was completely silent in the Oval Office. For the first time in over twelve hours he was completely alone in the room. McGuillicutty ordered the gaggle of science, political, and military experts out while he took a seat behind the Resolute Desk.

“There’s a button under the desk,” President Dolbert had told him two years earlier. It was just before McGuillicutty’s inauguration. Dolbert stared at McGillicutty with his beady eyes and showed no hint that this was some kind of joke. “You only press that button once in a lifetime. Only in an extreme emergency.”

“Like a national collapse?”

“No,” said Dolbert.

“A global nuclear war?”

“Kids stuff.”

“Bacon shortage?”

The soon to be ex-president shook his head. “Not even then.”

“Then when do I use it?” asked McGuillicutty.

Dolbert placed a beefy hand on the president-elect’s shoulder. “When the time comes, you’ll know.”

And the old bastard was right, thought McGuillicutty. It took him a while to remember Dolbert’s cryptic warning, but after he did he quickly shooed his advisors out of the room and found the little button beneath the Resolute Desk. After debating for almost ten minutes to do it or not, he whispered a prayer and pressed the button.

The president heard a soft whirring as something shifted beneath the desk. It took McGullicutty a moment, but he realized the button itself was moving. It scuttled across the surface of the desk before it took its place in front of him. It pulsed a soft yellow and a tinny, chipper voice began to emit from it.

“Thank you for contacting Peck Property & Casualty Insurance, this is Bobert and I need to inform you that this conversation is monitored for quality assurance. How may I help you?”

“Bobert?” McGuillicutty asked.

“Yes, how may I help you today?”

McGuillicutty struggled to find the right words. “There’s an… invasion, I guess? Men from outer space.”

“Oh, no,” Bobert said sympathetically. “That must be real inconvenient for you. Let’s get some information out of the way first before we continue. Am I speaking to the policy holder.”

“I’m the president of the United States,” McGuillicutty offered. “Does that… help any?”

“Yes it does,” said Bobert. “You are the de facto policy holder for your planet’s coverage and… I am pleased to tell you that, in fact, alien invasion is covered by your homeworld owner’s insurance. This claim is processing. Please standby, a Peck Property & Casualty Insurance agent will be touch with you shortly with an update on your claim. Did you need anything else from me today, sir?”

“Help?”

“Help is on the way,” Bobert said, in a voice so soothing that McGuillicutty actually felt a fuzziness in his chest.

What McGuillictty did not realize was that the warm feeling in his chest wasn’t due to Bobert’s exceptional customer service. It was due to a narcotic spore Bobert had released from the button. Bobert’s programming, because Bobert was in fact an AI and not at all a real person, was to lightly tranquilize claimants during times of extreme duress.

“Cool,” said McGuillicutty. The president looked around the Oval Office and his eyes widened in amazement. “Wow…. there’s no… corners. It’s so… round. So... ovally... is that a word? Gotta make an executive order making it a word...”

McGuillicutty leaned back in his chair and laughed as both Howard and Bruce Banner appeared in front of him in a flash of light. The president took in the sight of an anthropomorphic duck in stride, Howard thought. In his experience most sapiens had extreme reactions to seeing him.

That’s when Howard heard the collective sound of many guns cocking. He and Banner slowly turned to see a small platoon of soldiers and generals, each of heavily armed, standing at the door to the Oval Office and ready to blow them away.

“They’ve infiltrated the White House,” one very decorated five-star general barked. He pulled back the hammer on a massive revolver. “Die, alien scum.”

Before the general could squeeze the trigger a massive emerald arm snatched the gun from his grasp. The soldiers collective took a step back at the sight of the Incredible Hulk looming above them. He growled and the military men prepared to fire again.

“Hold your fire,” Howard shouted. “We’re here to help!”

“Help, I need somebody,” the president mumbled from his chair. “Not just anybody…”

Howard reached into his suit jacket, slowly, and produced his I.D. card. It showed that Howard T. Duck was in fact a licensed interdimensional insurance agent for Peck Property & Casualty Insurance, specifically for the Life, Fire, and World Destruction Division. The soldiers scrutinized it while the Hulk played hacky sack with the general’s gun.

“The commander-in-chief back there filed a claim,” said Howard, his thumb pointing back toward McGuillicutty.

The president was clearly doing an air guitar solo of Foghat’s “Slow Ride”, which was in this world the most popular song of all time. It become so popular that a group of fans in 1980 incorporated the First Universal Church of the Slow Ride. Their motto, naturally, was “Take it Easy.” Contrary to their motto, however, the FUCSR were incapable of taking it easy. They currently sat at #1 on the FBI’s list of most dangerous criminal organizations. Even when set to the bitchin’ tunes of Foghat, a vast network of gun running, meth production, and tie-dye t-shirt smuggling was still illegal.

“I’m here to investigate the claim,” said Howard. “So can someone please explain what’s going on?”

One of the generals pointed at the Hulk. “He doesn't look like an insurance agent.”

The green giant took the revolver in both hands and bent it into the shape of a poodle.

“You're right. He’s my intern.”




“At 0300 hours a collection of twenty-six portals all opened up at various points across the globe. From those portals spaceships poured out. Massive motherships with a full fleet of fighters and bombers inside their holds.”

Howard sat at the conference table in the Situation Room with the rest of the president's cabinet and watched the scientist at the front give his briefing. Bruce had transformed back and was sitting next to Howard, wearing a pair of borrowed sweatpants, crocs, and a baggy shirt that read “It’s Always Five O’Clock In Margaritaville.”

“So far they have yet to make a strike on anything,” said the scientist. “But they have been playing their demands across every media platform. It took us some time to interpret it.”

The scientist pulled a remote from his labcoat and pressed a button. A high-pitched screeching noise filled the situation room. Bruce put his hands over his ears to muffle the sound, but Howard listened intently. He could pick out the rhythms of the sound and knew it was some language. It seemed very close to another alien tongue Howard had heard before. But he couldn't quite place it.

“Best as we can figure, they are saying they wish for a complete surrender before the end of the solar cycle or they will destroy the world.”

“And the nukes won’t work,” said one of the generals. “There’s some kind of goddamn forcefield on the things and the missiles just bounce off.”

“And ricochet back to earth,” the Secretary of the Interior said testily. "Where people live.

“I did us all a favor,” the general spat back. "Is anyone here actually going to miss Muilwakee?"

“Can you just keep it down,” President McGuillicutty said from his seat. He had on sunglasses and held a half-empty bottle of Gatorade. “My head is pounding.”

While the president and his cabinet bickered among themselves, Howard had his head in his lap. The tablet in his lap displayed a list of clients and details on them. The readout displayed this current version of Earth and what exactly made them different from the other realities in the infinite multiverse. A smile appeared on his face as he looked up.

“I have a plan,” he announced. “I need a few things: the armed forces of the world to prepare all fighter jets for aerial combat, a list of the highest grossing films of 1996, an Amazon Prime account, and most importantly… the actor Michael T. Weiss.”
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Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Zoey Boey
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Zoey Boey hypothetically functional

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B L A C K ⧗ W I D O W


Jet lag is not a problem for Natasha Romanov. The woman had a unique skill to fall asleep and wake up on command. Sun up, sun down, bed or no bed, background noise or none. Right now she was in one of her typical black suits, arms crossed, head dipped down, sleeping while strapped into a chair. Her red hair was tied up into a bun, with one loose strand hanging infront of her face like it always seemed to do. She was in one of twenty one chairs in the small steel corrider. All of them were filled, the men and women almost shoulder to shoulder. There was a nearly silent rumbling, and the entire place was lit with comfortable white-blue lighting.

Nineteen of the other people inside the craft were heavily armed shield agents. Most of them had their helmets off and their face masks down. They were wearing light-weight but effective blue plating over black shirts tucked into cargo pants. The SHIELD soldiers chatted idly or kept to themselves, reading books or watching downloaded videos on their smart phones.

The twentieth person on this craft was a man by the name of John Walker, AKA US Agent. Unlike Natasha, who only appeared to be in her late twenties, Walker actually was. If the two of them had something in common, it was that both of them were failed attempts of recreating the super soldier serum that Abraham Erskine had perfected almost a century ago. That didn't mean, however, that the two of them didn't have their own value. Walker was dressed in dark red and blacks, with the stripes of the United States emblazoned on his chest. He was a strong, square shouldered man with a sharp, stubbled chin, his bald head tucked tightly into a skull-hugging helm. He was flipping through the pages of a miniature bible, occasionally casting envious in the resting Widow's direction.

As if an internal switch had been flicked, Natasha's large green eyes opened and she glanced around.

"No way." Walker protested, noticing this. His voice was loud and authoritive by default, his Standard American accent making every syllable clear.

"What?" Natasha asked with furrowed brow, feigning ignorance. Her quiet, lightly Russian accented voice somehow seemed to carry even more weight.

"No way did you wake up right before we touch down." Walker glanced around at the other soldiers before looking back at Nat.

"You're probably right." Natasha admitted with a shrug and a smirk.

"ETA ten minutes till touch down. Repeat, ETA ten minutes till touch down." A voice crackled over an intercom, the pilot informing her passengers of their destination.

"Hm," Natasha adjusted herself in her seat. "Guess I'm just lucky." She concluded smugly. This earned a few smiles from soldiers who were paying attention. Walker chuckled and shook his head, leaning over and slipping his bible underneath his chair.

"Tch. It's what those commie bastards did to you. You're a machine, lady." US Agent looked up at the countdown timer that had appeared over the exit ramp. Not too long ago, Black Widow wouldn't have taken to that comment lightly. Some soldiers, having heard of her reputation, seemed to tense up or lean in, waiting for her to bite the head off of the male. But instead she shrugged again, smirking. The tension was relieved, Walker having stepped on a dud landmine instead of a live one.

"Touch down, touch down, prepare for touch down." The pilot said again. Everyone could feel the plane, the Quinjet, rather, cease it's forward movement and began to hover in mid air.

That was her queue. Black Widow produced a black balaclava and slipped it over her head, covering everything except her perceptive eyes. It was warm, comfortable, breathable, surprisingly protective, and filtered out chemicals. Black Widow detatched herself from her seat and stood. She walked calmly over to the ascended exit ramp and looped her hand through a circle of fabric to hold herself in place. Everyone was paying attention.

Natasha dropped her Russian accent as she spoke. "All right, everyone. Like always, stick together. Stay behind me and US Agent. We will take point. Remember to use ICER rounds only, we want them alive. Be sure to double tap if you have the chance, sometimes the Dendrotoxin needs a little help in order to take effect. We're going to be rushing to the server room as fast as possible to gain access to sensitive data before they can delete it and remove their connection to HIVE. They probably have some suspicion we are coming. We think they're in the process of packing up and converting this facility into something less sinister and important, so we're going in without as much preparation as I would have liked. Still, this should be no problem as long as you remember your training." Black Widow spoke clearly, reassuring her comrades of their mission.

Extending a hand out, a young woman handed her Widow's preferred CQC primary weapon, a submachinegun of little recoil and high rate of fire. So much so that with her peak human strength, she could wield it with a single arm if she so wished. Besides that, she had two custom made Glock 26's marked with her symbol, placed in holsters on each of her legs. On her back she carried her collapsable batons. Finally, on each forearm was a gauntlet/glove implement known as her Widow's Bites. Versatile implements with a variety of uses. From taser shots, enhanced strikes, grappling hooks and explosives, all heavily modifiable for any situation. Natasha was a one woman arsenal but was hardly weighed down at all.

With a thud, the Quinjet came to a stop. Walker stood from his seat and took his place to Widow's left. The nineteen soldiers rose from their seats, weapons in hand, and made two rows behind the pair of heroes. The squad had a variety of weapons, from heavy shields to assault rifles.

The plane's back end opened up, the ramp shifting downwards. Outside was a cool crisp Austrian morning. The sky was clear and snow sparkled on the sharp decline only fifty feet to their left. Mountains curled up and tumbled over each other into the distance. The sun watched everything, casting little shadow.

Black Widow and her crew strode off the Quinjet, their boots clanking against the steel. As they exited, Widow turned around to observe the craft's advanced stealth technology. The interior of the Quinjet seemed to be isolated, floating in it's own space, for the hull of the Quinjet was almost completely invisible. As the ramp raised and shut completely, the only indication of the Quinjet's existence was the snow being kicked up by it's proximity to the ground. That too, vanished, as the Quinjet went into stealth mode.

"Remember where we parked," Quipped Walker. He looked around at the others for approval.

"Funnier every time." Mumbled Widow, checking her gun to see if there was a round in the chamber. "You all should know the co-ordinates. Follow me." Widow ordered, her and Walker leading the advance. Their boots crunched on gravel and clacked on stone. They rounded a corner and the leading female raised her hand and then flattened her palm, signalling for everyone to lay low. Around the bend of a hill was an ascent. At the very tip of this mountain there was a pair of steel doors, unmarked.

"Gruber," Natasha said, "You have the breach charges?"

"Yes ma'am," The agent replied, tapping the satchel at his hip. "Excellent. Let's go."

"All right. Walker, you're with me." "Copy." The two were preparing for someone to fire from hidden windows. Finally, the squad made their advance. About halfway up the hill, there was a mechanical whirring, followed by a series of clicks and chunks. The last sound was a series of squeaks and digitized beeps that together almost sounded like snide, childish laughter. Over the top of the steel doors erupted a dark green turret. It had a large, singular cannon and a boxy square base, almost cartoonish in it's rattling proportions. It's form shuddered with a nefarious giggle and began to thump massive anti-personnel rounds their way. Everyone hit the deck, including Black Widow.

Interposing himself between his squad and the turret, US Agent stepped up to the plate. From his forearm emerged a large blue disc, four feet in diameter. The disc was made of hard-light, semi-transparent material, a protective hologram shield. "Emblazoned" onto it's front was the form of an Eagle erupted triumphantly from a SHIELD. The cannon rounds slammed into it but deflected off, ending up zooming over the entire squads head. The turret seemed to hesitate, almost, after the first seven rounds. But before it could change targets, Black Widow raised her forearm and aimed her Widows Bite directly at the turret. A small missile whizzed out and clanked anti-climactically into the turrets base. The turret considered this, chuckled at it's ineffeciency, and then promptly exploded. Natasha could thank Stark for that pretty little number.

"Move up! Gruber, plant those charges!" Widow commanded. The soldiers moved up and lined up on each side of the wall. Gruber planted the charges. "Breach!" With a fizzy explosion, the steel exploded inwards. Immediately a hail of gunfire burst through the door as HIVE operatives on the other side suppressed the doorway. Two soldiers unclipped flash grenades and tossed them inwards. As they popped, Walker strode in, shield raised with one hand, a heavy duty handgun in the other. Natasha followed behind, practically sticking to him, her SMG raised. Two more pairs of shield and SMG combos followed afterwards, their shields made of steel rather than hard light.

Entering the lobby of the secret base, several HIVE soldiers dressed in generic military garb rattled off bullets in their direction. All of them either missed, or bounced off the steel and hardlight wall that SHIELD had forced into their compound. Her troopers supporting her, Black Widow's SMG snapped from target to target, pulling off several headshots in a row. Her muzzle flash was bright blue, the Dendrotoxin of the ICER rounds exploding and driving into the skin of her targets, rendering them unconscious instantly.

"It's SHIELD!" An operative shouted in a panic, right before Walker put a high impact ICER round in his chest, sending him spiralling to the floor. Widow tapped Walker's shoulder, signalling him to advance down the left hallway. A quarter of her squad followed the two heroes, the other three quarters peeled off to clear the rest of the facility.

The lights were on but red alarms rotated form their locations in the ceilings and walls. They travelled down steel corridors, Walker and Widow leading the way. They cleared room after room. Most were empty. Some had unarmed scientists that immediately surrendered or were subdued with non-lethal assault rifles. Others were filled with HIVE security. A vast majority of them were empty though. Black Widow was looking for the server room. Eventually she signalled Walker with a few taps of the shoulder that she would be doing some advanced scouting, cutting deep into the heart of the complex to find what they were looking for.

Black Widow's SMG was simply discarded, dropped to be picked up later. Now she drew one of her two pistols and silently sprinted down the corridors, looking for signage that would lead her to the server room. One of the doors she passed by was slightly ajar. There was a HIVE agent on the inside who assumed they would be able to hear who was coming, but Black Widow's sprint was completely silent to normal human ears, and the sound of distant, echoing gunfire didn't help either. The HIVE security peered out to shoot Black Widow in the back. Only she was no longer in the hallway. Confused, the guard looked around before his head was stomped to the ground by two boots, Natasha having silently suspended herself from the ceiling with her grappling hook. Already unconscious, she put an ICER round in him to make sure he stayed that way.

There were no more security in the facility. The HIVE based was supposed to be hidden, after all. There were probably fifteen HIVE security on base that day. All of them were taken alive thanks to the ICER rounds, though many had serious bruising or trauma. Still, better than being dead. However, Widow's work was not done yet.

Finally, she had reached the back rooms. The HIVE base wasn't that large, she could still catch glimpses of her allies flashlights or forms in the distance as they moved between intersecting corridors and cleared room after room. However, she would still be entirely isolated if she entered a room. That was indeed what happened as she entered the server room. Large boxes of downloadable information. Some if it would have to be stored on the hardrives. If she could just...

One by one, they began to fizzle out, the blinking lights snuffing infront of her eyes. Quickly, she rushed to a USB port to try and stick her own executable program into the databanks to stop the deletion or take as much information as she could.

"Guh-huh-huhuh!" An impish mechanical voice, barely intelligible, chuckled. Widow turned around to see a six foot tall robot unfurl from a box in the corner. It looked at her with two big, bulbous glass eyes. "Guh-huh-huhuh!" It repeated with a shudder. The laughing sounded like it wasn't even meant to be happening, as if it was just a byproduct of the robot's design.

It raised an arm, and Black Widow rolled out of the way as one of it's pincer like hands fired out from itself on the end of a steel cable, shattering the server Widow had tried to hack. Shit. The information on that one could still be salvaged as long as she could interrupt the remote deletion process. Destruction was less effective than deletion, but deletion took more time.

It fired another one of it's hands and Widow had to dodge that one, too. It retracted it's pincers and stomped forward. Widow actually lunged forward to meet it, reaching for it's neck as she front flipped over the robot. Out of her Widow's Bite hand gauntlet came an electric shocker that sent the machine twitching. "Guh--!" It seemed to exclaim. Now she withdrew the batons from her back.

Having landed on her feet, surged forward again and slammed her batons into the armored right arm of the robot. The metal dented inward and the pincer failed to retract completely. The damn thing chuckled again. It span around and swung it's other arm towards Widow, but she was ready for it, ducking underneath and slamming it under it's armpit, breaking it's "ribs". She felt the shell crumble and the fragile parts on the inside fall loose. She struck it across the face, shattering the glass eyes and causing it to stumble backwards, raising its arms to defend itself. Time to finish it. Widow flicked a switch on her batons and they buzzed to life with electricty. Reaching out she jammed the weapons into the robot and left them there until the bot was fried. It's head drooped backwards and fell down with a heavy crash. Her batons were deactivated and re-sheathed in a matter of seconds.

Black Widow, ever the professional, rushed back over to the destroyed server. Her USB was no where to be found. Instead she went to the far side of the room where there was an open laptop. A lab assistant was already laying prone with her hands on her head. Cracking open the laptop she began to try and prevent the deletion manually. Natasha was an accomplished hacker, having kept up with cutting edge technology despite her octogenarian status. Unfortunately she only managed to save a few files before everything was deleted. Her screen flashed green. A cartoon monkey face with green goggles showed up and stuck out it's tongue at her. "Suck snot, crud-muncher!" It taunted before the last of the files were deleted. Natasha frowned.

"O...K..." She murmered, disappointed but intrigued. It seemed there was a new supervillain to look out for. Exhaling, she closed the lid of the laptop and looked down and the terrified lab assistant.

"You." Black Widow began in German.

"I don't know anything! I want to speak to my lawyer!" She exclaimed into the tile.

"Right. Do you people have detainment cells?" Natasha asked politely. "I don't know! I want to speak-" The woman cut herself off as she heard the Avenger scoot her chair closer.

"D-down two doors on the right! You c-can't miss 'em!" She stammered.

"Danke, Fräulein," Widow smiled underneath her mask. Reaching up for the woman's hands she produced a pair of ziptie handcuffs and tied them behind her back. Standing up from her chair the lab assistant, looked away from the floor to find she was once again entirely alone. The shadowy figure that had dismantled the intimidating robot in a matter of seconds had vanished as quickly as she arrived.

Widow travelled silently to the back room where she found the detainment center. There behind thick glass, was a little boy with his legs tucked up against his chest. He couldn't have been older than eight. The sight of it, sickeningly familiar in some ways, made her stomach churn. Whoever was reponsible for him, the lead of this facility, wasn't here. They had probably escaped days ago, HIVE having been cautious of SHIELD's encroachment on this facility by their counter intelligence. Not enough to risk destrying the base, but enough to warrant keeping higher level personnel away. Widow would capture them next time. Catch them with their pants truly down. For now, though, she was just happy to have shut this operation down. HIVE was experimenting on this child, for reasons SHIELD could only theorize. Current intelligence suggests attempts at replicating the powers artificially, or manipulating the children into become involuntary soldiers. Either way, they had stopped them from doing it to at least one child.

Widow quickly hacked the glass cage open and walked carefully inside. The boy cowered away from her. Natasha removed her mask and kneeled down, giving him a small, reassuring smile. "It's okay, kid. We're going to get you home."





"What's the situation?" Natasha asked, entering a briefing room in Geneva's United Nations/ SHIELD headquarters. Agent Phil Coulson, a friendly looking man with a receding hairline and a sharp suit snapped off his sunglasses and smiled at the Avenger.

"Nothin' too serious." He responded sliding a vanilla folder across the table. Natasha sat in a comfortable office chair and began reading over it.

"Wakanda?" Natasha read it aloud.

"Tchuh," Walker responded, who was also there seemingly couldn't let people forget that fact for a small period of time, "Lemme guess, some warlord's acting up." He siad dismissively.

"No, Walker. The King of Wakanda, T'Challa, is attempting to make contact with the UN. Wakanda has had very isolationist policies for all of recorded history, so this is a big step, and the UN wants to make a good first impression." Coulson explained. Walker frowned and peered over Natasha's shoulder, also now reading the information document.

"So, diplomacy. Why me?" Natasha asked.

"Well, the UN needs security. You're one of our top agents, and you're famous. It'll look good for everyone to see an Avenger there. Plus, you've been working really hard recently on this HIVE thing and we wanted to give you something a bit...I dunno, fun? Meet a king, shake some hands." Coulson, keeping his hand on the table, casually approached the pair. "And, they've got a lot of vibranium over there, or so our sources say. And by sources, I mean people who heard about the massive war that just happened there this year." Coulson flipped a few pages to the picture of the South African private military contractor.

"Ulysses Klau. Real charmer. Arms dealer. Professional scumbag. He's always had a particular interest in vibranium." The mention of the element seemed to stiffen Walker's back. "And he's convinced the Wakandans have an unprecedented amount of it. He invaded the entire country to get it, but apparently lost an arm for his trouble. We suspect Wakanda is looking to make sure SHIELD can intervene in the future if something like that happens again. We know he was gunning after an alleged huge natural reserve here--" He pointed to a satellite image of the country's tallest mountain, "Under Mount Bashenga."

"A huge natural reserve of vibranium? If that were true-" Natasha started. Coulson finished her thought with a nod.

"-Then Wakanda would be one of the richest countries in the world. Which is why we were so dubious of the claims, given the countries poverty rate. Either they don't know what they have, the king is hoarding all of it, or, and this is the funnest one..." Coulson smiled wryly. "They've got a big secret."

"I like secrets." Natasha wobbled her head, looking impressed.

"I know. That's why I want you to go. Be friendly and do some digging. Protect our ambassador and T'Challa. See what you can find out." Coulson gestured at her.

"Okay, I will. So that's why you want me to go. Why do you want to bring Walker?" Natasha asked, raising an eyebrow.

"Because Captain America wasn't available." Coulson responded with a smirk, knocking down the pins that Natasha had set up.

"Hey!" Walker protested.

Natasha smirked. "When are we leaving?"

"They're sending a plane to us, actually. Should be here in a few hours. Good luck, Romanov."

"Good. I want to try one of those fancy Meitschibei pastries before we go."
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Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by AndyC
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AndyC Freeborn Scum

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"Ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to Just the Facts, with your humble host, J. Jonah Jameson. Now, you know me. I'm not the type to hold a grudge."

"Ummmm...."

"Quiet, Betty. People have been asking me, why can't I just 'let it go?' It's been six months since Spider-Man 'saved the city,' everyone says. Without him and his amazing, sensational, spectacular spider-powers, Doctor Octopus and the Sinister Six would have turned Manhattan into a scrap heap! We should have thrown him a parade, given him a bright shiny medal, maybe even the key to the city! And yes, I'll admit, Spider-Man was in fact the one who defeated Otto Octavius and his brute squad.

"But what everyone seems to neglect while showering the web-head with praise for stopping the Sinister Six, is that the whole reason the Sinister Six even existed was because of him! We now know that at least two of the members of Otto's gang, Flint "Sandman" Marko and Alex "Rhino" O'Hirn, were given their special abilities specifically to fight Spider-Man. And the only reason they were in a position to get those super-powers was because Lonnie "Tombstone" Lincoln has been trying to expand his criminal empire. And the only reason Tombstone is trying to expand his criminal empire is because the old head of the Maggia, Silvio Manfredi, is behind bars. And the only reason Silvio Manfred is behind bars is because SPIDER-MAN PUT HIM THERE!"


"....actually, Mister Jameson, Captain DeWolff of the NYPD was the officer who--"

"Now I'm not saying Manfredi should have gone free-- the Maggia syndicate are the worst of the worst. But if you're going to topple the biggest crime boss in New York, you ought to have a plan for what happens after! Now look where we are! Manfredi's replacement is a thug by the name of Sonny "Hammerhead" Caputo, a cold-blooded killer, and he and Tombstone have started a gang war. The Sinister Six might be behind bars, but there are still plenty of costumed freaks that the wall-crawler hasn't dealt with-- ever notice how that Green Goblin lunatic always seems to get away? Or how the Black Cat always just happens to slip out of Spidey's webs before the police can bring her in? For all the talk about him 'saving the city,' I sure as hell don't feel any safer, do you?"

"......kind of?"

"Let's take some callers! Francis from Long Island, you're on the air!"

"Hi, Mister Jameson? You're right on the money, as always. If Spider-Man really cared about saving the city, he'd put on a badge or sign on with S.H.I.E.L.D."

"Ex-actly! You think a S.H.I.E.L.D. team wouldn't be able to take down Octavius's weirdos or Tombstone and Hammerhead's goons faster and cleaner than one guy who's probably working out of his mom's basement? More importantly, a S.H.I.E.L.D. team has superiors that they answer to if they screw up! How many times have we seen the web-head make a bad situation worse? And how many times has he ever actually had to answer for it? If he won't answer to Uncle Sam, I'll make sure he answers to me! Next caller! Miles from Brooklyn, you're on the air!"

"Hi, Mister Jameson, I think you've got it all wrong. There are a lot of us who can't rely on the government or the cops to be there for us, and when there's trouble, Spider-Man's always been--"

"Kid, I'm sure it looks like he's there to help you out, but he's only ever been in it to help himself. Trust me, I've been covering him longer than anyone else, and that 'friendly neighborhood Spider-Man' act is just that: an act. He's clearly well-equipped and trained and funded, which means he's got a lot of money backing him. So why isn't any of that money going towards helping out those neighborhoods he's 'saving?' Because he wants everyone in the city to congratulate him for being such a great guy. Even those high-and-mighty glory hounds in the Justice League are less obnoxious and phony when it comes to grandstanding and showboating and playing it up for the cheap seats. Next caller! Webster from Queens, you're on the air!"

"Hi, Jonah? I think you're right about Spidey, he's a total creep! Like just now, I caught him peeping in on someone's window!"

"See?! This is the sort of degeneracy those freaks in tights get away with if they don't--"

"Yeah, I saw him hanging upside-down outside an office building, waving at some dork who was running a radio show!"

"That's just--.....hey, wait a--"

"Whoever it is, it seems to be some high-strung blowhard who still thinks a flat-top and a little Hitler moustache is a good look! And it looks like he's about to have a conniption!"

"Why, you--......you no-good--....you come on MY SHOW--"

"Just popped by to let you know that you've got a piece of spinach stuck between your teeth. Anyway, I'm off to foil some crimes and save some people, and then I might grandstand and showboat about it for a bit like the giant fraud that I am. Have a good one, JJ!"

".....YOU GOOD-FOR-NOTHING DELINQUENT, I'LL HAVE YOU DRAWN AND QUARTERED IN TIMES SQUARE, YOU HEAR ME?!?!?! I'LL HAVE YOUR HEAD MOUNTED ON MY WALL! I'LL BRING YOU DOWN IF IT'S THE LAST THING I DO, SPIDER-MAN!!!!!!!!"




Ahhh, sometimes I just can't help myself.

Back when I first started, Jonah's muckraking and fear-mongering used to really get to me. Sometimes it still does, if I'm honest-- no matter how hard I try, no matter how many people I save, there are always going to be guys like him who'll go out of their way to get everything twisted. If there's one constant in the world, it's that people are willing to believe just about anything about just about anyone, just as long as it's bad.

Thankfully, most people in the city are starting to come around, and an increasingly large chunk of Jameson's audience are tuning in just for the comedy of him blowing his stack. I feel like it's my duty as a public servant to occasionally poke the proverbial bear, just to keep old Jolly Jonah lively for their sake.

Having had my fun, I push off from the side of the Flatiron Building, and feel the all-too-familiar rush of air and lump in my throat, as I drop down towards the pavement, hear the reliable THWIP of my web-shooter as I throw out a line, and then feel the guts-heaving G-force of my fall becoming a swing.



"WHOOOOO-HOOOO-HOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!" I let out a cry of exhilaration as just before I start to lose the momentum in my swing, I let go of the web-line and launch myself into the evening sky. I tuck back my feet and grab my ankles behind my back into a sort of reverse-cannonball pose as I arc through the air, holding the pose as long as I can until I need to throw out another line and swing again. On my next upward arc, I do a jackknife, and on the next one I curl in start to spin, seeing how many rotations I can get before I have to throw out another line-- just eight this time, three short of my record. I've been swinging around this city and hopping across rooftops for five years, and it never gets old. When you've got muscles like industrial springs, and instant rope-swings and zip-lines whenever you want, the whole world is like one big trampoline park. Even in life-or-death situations, it's hard to not show off a little bit.

....so maybe Jonah's kind of right about me showboating. Kind of.

*BZZZT-BZZZZT*
INCOMING CALL FROM:
MAY PARKER


The augmented-reality HUD inside the smart-lenses of my mask is a pretty little piece of guerilla engineering that I'm rather proud of. I know Iron Man has a better one, and I've heard Batman has something crazy in his cowl, but I don't have Tony Stark bucks to throw around, so for something I knocked together in Aunt May's basement, I think it's got quite a nice suite of features. If I need it, it's got up-to-date GPS navigation around the city, and can connect to my tracking bugs and remote-control camera drones so I know when bad guys are on the move. It can access NYPD, FBI, and even S.H.I.E.L.D. databases through backdoors that took no small amount of work to put in place, as well as my own private database for info of all of the crazy stuff I've come across. It can take pictures, zoom up to 16x magnification without any loss of picture clarity (awesome if I want to get some shots for the Bugle and don't have my actual camera handy), switch between various night vision modes, and filter out flashes of bright light in case, say, Electro gets too close for comfort. Or the SWAT team flash-bangs me while I'm saving a hostage. Again.

And best of all, it pairs with my smart-phone (after bouncing calls through an impenetrable maze of relays so people don't ask why Spider-Man's gear is connected to Peter Parker's phone, of course). I waggle my left eyebrow up and down twice to answer the call.

"Hi, Aunt May!" I say cheerfully, swinging higher above the streets so I can hear her above the traffic. "How was your day?"

"Oh, it was fine, Peter," Aunt May says, always trying to downplay how hard she works. Even over the phone, I can hear the exhaustion in her voice. "There were a few troublemakers at lunch today, and Mister Li had his hands full for a few hours getting them taken care of, so I was more or less in charge of the center for most of the afternoon. Walter and Susan did what they could, of course, but...."

"Aunt May, we've got to find more help for you out there," I tell her. "You're supposed to be enjoying your retirement, not working yourself to the bone!"

"I happen to like working, Peter," she says, defiantly. "And now that I've got all this free time on my hands, I can't just sit idly by when there are people in need."

"I know," I admit, "and you're amazing for it. Just....while you're taking care of everyone, make sure you're still taking care of yourself, is all."

Ever since retiring from her career as a nurse, Aunt May has spent her days helping out at FEAST (Food, Emergency Aid, Shelter, and Training), a community center for the less fortunate put together by a philanthropist named Martin Li. Martin's a good man, and I'd like to think if I had his kind of money I'd be paying it forward to the city like he does, but ultimately, there's only so much they can do. It's been a hard year for New York, and all of the various bits of craziness have left a lot of people out of work, out of a home, and running out of options. Aunt May's got more than enough heart and willpower to go around, but at her age, even the best of intentions can end up with stress and strain that she just doesn't need.

"It's nothing a hot bath and a good book before bed won't fix," she brushes it off. "Anyway, that's not why I called. I called because I want to make sure you've got everything ready for tonight."

"Of course!" I say, vaulting off of an air conditioning unit and springing into a no-hands cartwheel in the empty air, enjoying the hangtime. "I called the restaurant this morning to confirm the reservation. I'm on my way to pick up my best shirt and pants from the dry cleaners right now. I booked the carriage ride to surprise her as soon as she's off of work. It's all good to go."

"....and you're sure you've got the--"

"Oh no!" I exclaim. "I-I-I must have left it back at the dorm! Ohhhh, man!!!!"

"Peter, you've got to--"

"Kidding, kidding!" I say with a laugh. "I've got it on me, right here in my pocket."

I pat myself down really quick to make sure I actually do have it on me, and sigh with relief.

"All right, well, it sounds like you've got it all together," she says. "You have a wonderful night. And Peter?"

"Hmm?"

"I'm really proud of you."

"I....thanks, Aunt May. Love you!"

She hangs up, and underneath my mask, I've got the biggest, dumbest smile I've ever had in my life. Buzzing Jameson and swinging around town is fun and all, but tonight's going to be something special. I can put up with supervillains, with media smears, even with Flash Thompson moping around the dorm, because it's all been leading up for tonight. Nothing in the world can--

*BZZZZT--BZZZZT!*
CALL FROM
CAPTAIN JEAN DeWOLFF, NYPD


....of course.

"Thank you for calling Spider-Man's Hoodlum and Supervillain Gift-Wrapping and Delivery Service, this is Spidey speaking, how may I help you?" I answer. Please let this be something easy. Maybe that guy with the big wheel, he was fun.

"A laugh riot as always," she says in a tone so dry it would make the Sahara feel like the Pacific. If there are two things Jean DeWolff shares in common with her late mentor, George Stacy, it's a tireless devotion to justice, and a steadfast refusal to play along with any of my schtick. "An alarm just tripped at the Guggenheim. Three security guards incapacitated-- no serious injuries reported, but they didn't see what hit them. The museum's currently displaying the Guennol Lioness, an ancient Mesopotamian sculpture estimated at over $57 million. At least, it was displaying the Lioness...."

"Until it went missing, right," I say, barely able to contain my annoyance. "Someone's lifting a priceless cat statue in the middle of the day? I think we both have a pretty good idea who's gutsy enough to pull that trick off. I'm on my way now."

"Make sure that sculpture doesn't get a scratch on it," DeWolff warns. "It's worth more than my entire precinct makes in a decade."

"You got it," I say, my great mood turning sour. Just what I need on the biggest night of my life.

It's okay, you can still have a perfect night.

Just investigate the crime scene, chase down the master criminal, recover the priceless artifact, and do it in less than two hours so you don't miss your reservation.

No pressure, right?
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Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Roman
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Roman King of Dirt

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PREVIOUSLY...
TWELVE FOR A DASTARDLY CURSE
1: AMIDST THE BUTCHERY AND BEAKS


Eve stopped over in the first town with a bar. It wasn’t even a bar, really, nothing as modern as that; it felt more like some hick’s attempt to restore an old tavern in their garage - the decor reeked of 'Ye Olde Englishe', both aesthetically and in its actual odour. Tacky was the operative word, and seemed to be the unintentional theme. She sipped Bud Light from a murky pint glass, and tasted sour pipes. She was stunned. Not because the owner had spent most of his money on unnecessary draught taps; not because he’d then chosen to pump the cheapest beer on the market through it; not even because despite both of these facts, he then couldn’t even clean the needless system. She was stunned because she proceeded to finish her drink anyway.

Eve had a couple more after that, but not of the Bud Light - she instead chose the only canned drink in the building, some dollar-store brand with a generic name and a big star adorning the front - and then found she was exhausted. She’d been on the road a couple days now. Hitchhiking where she could, but walking mostly; her feet hurt and her clothes were dusty and speckled with mud and shit. Not many people stopped when she stuck her thumb out; she suspected those that had only did so because of the view from behind. Half of those good Samaritans quickly paled and sped off when they caught sight of her eye. Hell, the man behind the bar had been deliberately avoiding looking at her for every order after the first, as well as the time in between. It was an evil eye. Gave people the willies, at least. She spoke up again as the bartender whisked away her third empty can, crushing it in a slow, deliberate manner that required a lot of focused, intense staring at his hands.

“I need somewhere to stay the night.”
The bartender turned his back to her as he stretched out the three foot walk from his position to the trash can as long as humanly possible while he replied.
“Three blocks south and turn left; there’s a halfway house that rents empty rooms.”
Eve frowned.
“That the best this place has got?”
“It’s the best you’re going to get.” He replied, still not looking at her. Eve snarled.
“Fuck you.”
The bartender sniffed, and went back to rubbing dirty glasses with a dirty rag. Eve left.

Three blocks south and a left turn later Eve stood at the front door of a shanty house dressed up to look like a real building. Nestled in as the penultimate dwelling on a row of terraced housing, it sported discarded needles on the front steps and plywood across the windows; the otherwise run-down but intact residences that flanked it looked practically new by comparison. Eve could sense an old kind of rot eating away at this place: the psychic imprint of human suffering and despair. The people who stayed here often left in opaque bags, their final weeks and days and hours spent filling holes with temporary reprieves and covering pain with a different kind of pain. She could feel it in her bones - cold, hopeless, intrinsically sad. But the bartender was right: she wasn’t going to get anything better. She didn’t have the money, for a start. She raised a fist to knock, but found the door swung open eerily before she could make first contact.

The hallway was dark and empty, and a hollow draught drifted through that wrapped itself like grave-hands around Eve’s ankles. The exhalation of anguished ennui, every last breath drawn in and pushed out in these rooms swarming together for a final, extinguishing gasp. Eve nearly turned tail to run, but the dread was over as soon as it had begun, and all that was left was a house with empty rooms to rent and sad stories that it would sooner not tell. Eve approached the counter, but there was no one there; in lieu of staff, only a simple cardboard sign had been left, which read as such:
"IF NOT HERE:
PLS WRITE NAME + DATE UNDER RM# ON SHEET
$5/NIGHT COLLECTED EVERY MORNING
NO PAY = PIGS DRUGS = PIGS FIGHTS = PIGS
CROSS NAME OUT WHEN U LEAVE
SLEEP WELL!"


Eve wasn’t convinced she would. The sheet was present regardless; she wrote ‘EVE C.’ in the column for room five, beneath the crossed out name of ‘NATE’, and scribbled the day’s date in the margin, and then went searching. She found it soon enough. The door wasn’t locked, but it was stiff to open and stiff again to close. The room itself was bare: a stained mattress on the floor with a ragged pillow and thin sheet, a plastic chair next to the window - an old leather belt lay discarded close by - and a sink against the wall. Eve did what she could to get out the mud and dirt from her clothes beneath the pitiful water pressure of the tap, hanging her jeans and top over the back of the chair to dry, and then cupped a few handfuls of water over her face and hair to rinse out the sweat and muck as much she could. When her head finally hit the pillow, she was asleep within seconds.

-

Eve dreamt of storms and fire, of lightning and trees, and of blood and rot. Anger swirled around her, but it did not belong to her: it belonged to hundreds of faceless adjudicators, and it belonged to a single persecuted individual. It licked her fuzzy outline and whisked her spirit away. Eve was left alone beneath cold stone and uncaring wood.

-

She woke to a knock on the door. The sun was up, but it was cold, and she saw morning fog still drifting by, listless and dissipating slowly. Bleary-eyed, she turned her head to the room’s door; a blurred figure stood there expectantly, half-hidden. Eve rubbed her eyes with the back of her hand, and the figure sharpened. Some nondescript old lady, sixty-plus, with a stony face that belied the subtle wildness in her eyes. Her hair was graying, but where the color held on it was a deep black. They made eye contact. The woman did not look away.

“Witches don’t get discounts.” She finally said, her voice low but firm. “Got me charms for the evil eye anyway.” She fished a necklace out from her bosom and held it aloft; a crudely-fashioned pendant, but one Eve was able to recognize regardless: the nazar. “Five dollars.”

Eve reached for her bag and dragged it across the floor towards the mattress, rooting around in it. She could feel the woman staring at her as she dipped her head to rummage.
“You don’t look Hindi.” Eve said. The woman snorted.
“Charm’s a charm. Evil Eye ain’t care where you’re from; charm ain’t care neither. If it works, it works. Five dollars, or I call the pigs.”
Eve found her money and fished out a five dollar bill, tossing it across the room where it drifted spinning to the ground. The woman crossed the doorway swiftly in a single step, stooping to collect the money, then retreated back to the precipice just as quickly.
“Gotta get out during the day. It’s when I clean.”
Eve guffawed. “You need more than just a day for this filth.”
The woman’s lip twitched, a snarling micro-expression flitting across her face. “Ungrateful bitch. You got gall to criticize - you got more than just dirt on you,” she retorted, and then turned to leave.

Eve sighed and stood up, letting the sheet fall off her body as she retrieved a top and jeans from her bag; dressed, she unhooked her jacket from the door and slung it around her shoulders. The clothes she’d ‘washed’ last night were still mildly damp to the touch, but Eve suspected anything left in the room might disappear forever. Besides, it was bad practice to leave personal belongings around where anyone could collect them. Eve didn’t trust anyone, and witchcraft could be practiced by many. She stuffed the clothes into her bag, and left the room.

Downstairs, she paused by the desk, the woman who’d collected her money not glancing up from behind her magazine. Eve steeled herself to ask her least favourite question.
“Where am I?”
“Crack den.” The woman responded.
“What town, I meant.”
The woman spared a quick glance up before returning to her magazine. “Petrified Copse.”
“That’s...unique.”
“It’s evil.” The woman said, and then she didn’t say anymore. Eve left.

-

Eve wandered through the town for a while, eventually finding the main promenade, such as it was. It was still early, and the street was quiet, but the few businesses there were had begun opening - an old man setting out goods and stands in front of his general store, a younger couple carefully arranging seats and tables outside their coffee shop - although what drew Eve’s eye was a gentleman tenderly wafting incense across the fascia of his shopfront. He moved carefully and rhythmically, and when he finished his work he gave a curt nod to his reflection in the store window. Eve watched with growing curiosity as the man paused to stare at his mirrored self for what felt like a longer and longer amount of time; and then the man breathed, and went inside. Eve realized she had been holding her breath as well. She released the tightness in her chest and looked away, down the street ahead of her.

There was a magpie looking at her.
Eve couldn’t be sure, of course, but she was fairly certain. It was stood in the center of the street, body facing Eve and head cocked ever-so-slightly to put her in the bird’s cone of vision; Eve took a few steps to the right and the bird’s head seemed to follow her. It hopped back and forth a few feet at a time, but never got further away or closer to Eve. She frowned, and moved forward. The magpie stayed put, up until Eve got to within nearly five feet of it; then it crowed, once and pointedly, and then hopped away before stopping and looking back, crowing once more. Eve felt compelled - something from the depths of her subconscious moved her legs for her. She followed the magpie.

It took her to the town square, at the heart of which stood the remains of a splintered and shattered tree, resting in the soil undisturbed for centuries. The magpie stood at its base, and looked Eve in the eye. There was something about the gaze of the bird that unsettled Eve, something slightly too intelligent in the black beads that beheld her. She stretched an arm out to touch it, but it shrank away, pecking when she got too close, crowing again.
“What are you?” She asked, musing to herself for the most part. It chilled her when the bird responded.
“I AM JUST A MAGPIE.” The magpie said, in a voice that reverberated the earth and sent vibrations up Eve’s legs until she could feel her teeth rattling in her skull. She blinked, and the feeling was gone, and she was left bewildered.
“...what…?”
“Caw!” Said the magpie, perfectly mimicking what a magpie should sound like, before taking flight and suddenly turning mid-air to dive-bomb the ground.
Eve could hear the bones of the bird’s neck snap when it hit the stone cobbles. The magpie was dead on impact, wings splayed, skull askew at an unnatural angle.

Eve buried the magpie beneath the remains of the tree. From the far reaches of the town, beyond the streets and buildings, a young girl screamed, and was suddenly cut short.

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Hidden 4 mos ago Post by HenryJonesJr
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HenryJonesJr

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Helicarrier Aethon. Washington DC.


The Quinjet came around and touched down on the deck of the Helicarrier Aethon, which itself hovered over the Potomac River. When he was brought out of the ice, it took him ages to adjust to the modern world. Almost eighty years of technological progress was a lot to process all at once, but there was nothing quite like when he witnessed an aircraft carrier rise effortlessly into the sky. It was both awesome and terrifying. But the truth of the matter was, whenever he walked the deck, he felt at home. SHIELD had given him a purpose and a mission, and he was going to see it through.

A blast of cold air hit him as the hatch of the Quinjet opened and he stepped on the deck of the helicarrier. It wasn't high over the river, but still the air was chilled. He took a deep breath and made his way towards the entrance of the bridge. All around him, SHIELD agents went about their duty. If he closed his eyes, he almost felt like he was back on a carrier in the Pacific.

Behind him, Piotr Rasputin plodded close by. Piotr was a "mutant", a naturally born metahuman, and Russia's representative on Cap's team. Nick Fury, Director of SHIELD, thought it would be prudent to have a Mutant on the team. While the public at large considered superpowers necessary, there were still bigots out there. Cap guessed there always would be. People scared of anything new or different. He had seen it in Nazi Germany, but it made him sick that it was still as strong in his home all these years later. His Russia heritage showed in his stoic nature. He was a cypher, though Charles Xavier vouched for him personally. He and Steve were yet to be friends, per say, but Steve knew he was good in a fight.

As they passed into the interior of the Aethon, a hard slap on the back had Steve turning quickly, only to come face-to-face with the beaming smile of Sam Wilson. Steve was flabbergasted, "Sam! What the hell are you doing here? Last I heard you were running recon over Quarac!"

Sam was the first partner Steve had as a SHIELD agent, and the person who truly helped him adjust to the modern age. Outside of Bucky, he was Cap's best friend, and a trust confidant. A former Army Ranger, Sam had signed up for an experimental flight test while in the military. Using a special flight suit, he became an indispensable one man infiltration unit. Now he flew under the codename "Falcon" for SHIELD.

"Yea, well, I got tired of getting shot at every damn day," Sam rolled his eyes. "UN Peacekeeping missions are for the birds...well other birds. I wanted to be where the real action was."

Steve's eyebrow raised at that, "You don't mean?"

"You bet, you are looking at the newest member of the A-Team...but BA Baracus ain't got nothing on me. I am way more handsome," he brushed his shoulder off. "Fury got the security council to allow another American. You better watch out or I'm gonna be on the kids' posters soon."

Flinging his arm around his friend, Rogers laughed, "I would not be surprised, buddy."

If he was being honest, Steve was relieved to have a true friend on the team. While Strike Team Alpha, affectionately nicknamed "The A-Team", worked well in the field, team bonding was generally nonexistent. Most of the international squad bristled under American leadership, even if they did begrudgingly admit Steve was the only man for the job. All of them being political appointees meant they all had agendas. Not that all of that was subversive, though there was some of that. But when each member of a team had slightly differing goals, it meant the mission could never go smoothly.

Sometimes he was jealous of the Justice League, even if he did think their freewheeling ways were dangerous. At least they didn't have to send something to a committee every time they wanted to go some place.

The three members of the strike team pass into the bridge of the Helicarrier. There, standing in the center, peering out of the large, floor to ceiling windows of the command deck, was Nick Fury, director of SHIELD. The sunlight filtering through the windows shone dully off his bald head, and he turned to face Cap, his one, good eye smiling, "Bout time you showed up. How was the geriatric support group?"

"You should show more respect to your elders, whippersnapper," Steve admonished Fury, who looked to be a good two decades Cap's elder at this point in time. "Someday you'll be old, too."

"God willing," Fury nodded. "Come on, the rest of the team is in the briefing room."

They made their way to a room off the bridge, this one devoid of windows with a long, silver table down the middle. Sitting around it were the rest of the A-Team.

Lord Joseph Falsworth, also known as Union Jack, sat closest to the door. He looked the stereotypical British lord, even in his SHIELD-made espionage getup. His dark hair was slicked back, and his face was full of sharp angles, as if he was a portrait come to life. There was a lot of his grandfather, the first agent to bear the Union Jack moniker and a former member of Cap's Invaders squad, in him. Falsworth was all business in the field, but a bit of a ladies man.

Vivian D'Aramis was next, picking at her nails absent mindedly. A French beauty with deep green eyes like emeralds and hair spun of gold, she was known as "Crimson Fox" in the field. A scientific accident had allowed her to control her pheromones' and confuse others, more easily men. She had also trained with French special forces before her time with SHIELD.

Finally, at the other end of the table was Ryan Choi, China's representative on the team, known as the Atom. The youngest member of the team had his head down, working on something on a tablet, with a wire leading to a belt laid on the table. Steve knew that was the source of his abilities. He had, according to himself and the Chinese Communist Pary, "perfected" a technology that Hank Pym had invented. His ability to shrink was more efficient and allowed for longer times altered. Some in the US believed China stole the tech he perfected, but Steve learned that this was a common occurrence.

Ryan was the team member Rogers didn't understand the most. He was brilliant beyond his years, and had the world in front of him. But he still supported a government that controlled its people with an iron fist, especially in his home of Hong Kong. Ryan claimed America could be just as cruel. Steve could admit his country seemed to have lost its ways in certain respects, but its people were still free. They didn't have the "Party" controlling them.

"Finally," Choi put down his tablet. "I was beginning to think we missed our mission window."

"Yes, now that we're all here, let's begin," Fury waved his hand and the lights in the room turned off and a holographic display sprung from the table. It showed some sort of tank attacking New York, flanked by AIM soldiers. "This, is the situation in New York. AIM's deployed a new weapon, and is threatening the city."

"So what are we waiting for?" Sam asked, obviously ready for the fight.

"Iron Man is on the scene, he can handle it," Fury waved again, and the image of the attack on New York switched to a view of an armored cargo plane with the SHIELD insignia painted on the top. "We believe the attack on New York is little more than a diversion meant to draw our gaze away from here."

"A plane?" Falsworth asked, his eyebrow raised. "Who's in it?"

"Not who, but what," Fury continued. "This cargo plane left a SHIELD covert research base in Northern Canada two hours ago. One hour ago it disappeared off of all radar communication."

"Someone take it down?" Vivian asked.

"Doubtful," Fury shook his head. "More likely AIM's taken it. Last known coordinates had it headed for..."

"Madripoor," Atom seethed. "A cesspool of disorder and criminality."

"Somewhere that AIM could make a SHIELD plane disappear for good and take what's inside it," Steve agreed. "What is in it?"

"A prototype energy source," Fury explained. "We've been working on it for a while. It's not ready for prime time, but if AIM gets ahold of it, who knows what they can do."

"Okay," Cap shrugged. "Wheels up in five. Let's go get that plane."
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Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Pacifista
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Pacifista Buck it.

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Location: Belize City, Belize
A Green God, A Green Devil – 1.01

Interaction(s): None
Previously: N/A

Cough cough HAGCK

Spray of spit and foam splattering in the sink, Bruce caught his breath, rinsing his mouth out before cleaning off his toothbrush. Wetting down his hands, he wiped at the freshly trimmed stubble remaining on his face. Looking around, he pulled out a razor and a can of shaving cream, pressing down on the nozzle only for it to sputter and die. Shaking his head, he went without. Putting on a pair of light purple shorts, flip flops, a plain button up blue shirt, and a wide panama hat over his mess of brown hair, a pair of hazel eyes lidded, he stepped out of the bathroom into the bedroom. If you could call it a room: it was less a room and more of a storage space for a small, rickety bed and worn down dresser that took up 60% of the floor space, the rest of it walkable in two steps. Those two steps took him to the kitchen and entryway, making up the rest of the house, the floor dingy and worn but not dirty. Most of the light came from the windows, the room becoming brighter as Bruce pulled open the door, grabbing his bike (kept stored inside for safety), and locking up before heading out.

Even in the early morning, the humid sea air and blazing sun of Belize was rough, but nothing Bruce was uncomfortable with. His skin was quite tanned: the pasty lab nerd practically a different person. His routine of biking around this district of the city with its many long paths, along with occasional labor to make ends meet, had given him a little meat on his skinny bones. Though his face was relatively clean now, in the slightly cooler months he liked to sport a beard. Stepping out into the sun, he descended a short stairwell to the ground level, looking out to the rows of small, dingy abodes, none of them older than a few years due to one hurricane or another.

Destroyed and rebuilt. That’s where Bruce was, getting down to it. He was ‘Benny’ now, a down on his luck American currently in Belize City, making it by through helping people out with odd jobs thanks to various skills and expertise, and through various handouts and favors he received from the grateful locals who supported the twice a week English classes he did for free (though he just as often taught so much else). Benny never asked for much more than a chance, and now honestly, he could say he didn’t mind things where they are. He could look up at the sky, breathe deeply, and feel as though things were alright.

It had been years since the Hulk first took to the streets of Navapo on a warpath to El Diablo Air Force Base, inviting the ire of SHIELD. And it was less than a year after that Hulk was seen for the last time, in New York. It was still a blur to Bruce, but it was the past now. Betty was better off with Bruce gone. Everyone was. Because as long as Bruce was gone, there was no more Hulk.

Setting down his bike, he pedaled off into yet another day in this run down stretch of paradise. While he could certainly envision better, nowadays he was just grateful it wasn’t so much worse.

-----


Body reminiscent of used rags, steeped in dried sweat and a faint stink from cleaning sinks, as he walked by the old docks, the wreck of so many ships in this dated port leaving it unused after a hurricane a few decades ago rendered it unwanted, while modernization occurred elsewhere, he rolled his bike along, appreciating the quiet. After his day of work the sea breeze was pleasant. The lack of ships meant that the sea scent was free of any muck or pollution: the wrecked ships and debris actually made for good sea creature habitats which allowed cleaners like mussels to live. Plus, few people were around, so it gave him a bit of quiet town. Bruce appreciated the connections he’d made, but he knew it was better to keep his distance at the end of the day.

Then, the pleasant cool went chill, as he heard a voice. A light sobbing for help. Dropping his bike, he carefully moved, trying to follow the voice. “Hello? Where are you!?” There wasn’t much on the dockside, and he had no lights with which to aid in his search, only the distant stars and glint of the moon. The voice came on louder though as his call was heard, a pained wail sounding out. Getting hasty, Bruce sped up, walking quickly until he stepped on something. Though it was largely firm, the surface had a give to it. Bruce immediately recognized its consistency as flesh. Heart nearly stopping he pulled back immediately, seeing the faint shape of an arm in the low light. “Oh god I’m sorry,” he said as he reached out, not questioning why the voice seemed to be coming from lower.

Pulling at the arm, there was no resistance. It was severed, and small, its owner no older than ten. Strangled gasp getting blocked in his throat, he dropped it, recoiling. All sound seemed to vanish as his head swam, then it came back, the panicked crying of the child still out of sight, while a dog whimpered nearby. It didn’t get any closer, the skinny mutt ragged and lost, possibly having been attracted by the scent of blood. Bruce gathered himself, looking over the edge of the dock. Resting on a piece of flotsam that was half submerged, the wounded child lay still, his voice still crying out. Body shaking, Bruce scrambled over the edge, letting himself drop into the water nearby, flip flops drifting off his feet. Testing the stability of the rotted wood, he leaned on it, scooping the child up in his arm before standing. His weight sank the wood underwater, but he still had his footing. Grabbing the lip of the dockside, he found a strength he hadn’t felt in a long time, hoisting them both up and over.

Laying the boy flat, Bruce asked, “Who did this? What happened?”

The boy spoke. “Cartel.” He was still quite out of it. Bruce’s trembling body wasn’t helping any. He hadn’t been one of Bruce’s unofficial students as far as he could tell, but that didn’t matter right now. In him, he couldn’t help but to associate those faces he’d come to know: Luca, Isabella, Micheal, Manuel. Looking up, he saw the largest building in the area, a dockside warehouse, the elephant in the room. This section of the city was often overlooked by the city at large, so protecting it from anything worse was the cartel. Whatever drug trade they did here didn’t matter as long as the people just trying to get by weren’t hurt. Some even found employment there, sent off to other regions with the money they earned coming right back home. Bruce knew of it, but never had he seen or heard of anything like this. One hand clutching his wrist, he held on with a force that would have splinted stone. His teeth gritted, the soft bones threatening to crack in his mouth. He had to rely on that pain to keep him from splitting apart.

It’s no good, he wouldn’t want your help anyway.
Cry, scream, it’s all you’re good for.

Pretend you didn’t see anything.
Trash.
What good have you ever been to anyone?

You never should have existed.

It would be better for us if we were gone. Better for everyone.
Leave him and move on, it’s for the best.

We can’t stay here if we cause trouble.

Worthless.

Keep quiet.

Be still.


Do nothing.

Bruce’s face was burning with tears. The dog got a little closer, intent on the arm. He couldn’t begin to imagine what the cartel had been doing to this place in silent, nor could he imagine what might happen if the Hulk brought them down. So many possibilities filled his brain, each of them deeply negative. But at the very least he could take him to a doctor. Starting to regain himself, Bruce looped one arm under his legs and another under his upper torso, trying to lift him.

“Friends...where are my friends..?”

Bruce’s blood ran cold. He shut his eyes, the warehouse in the distance vanishing from his sight. But despite his eyes being closed, he could see so much. He started to piece together what happened: a bunch of kids going out, or going home, surrounded by adults who had god knew what in mind. One of them tried to defend his friends, maybe at first, maybe after they started to make a move. So he was made an example of: maimed and tossed aside, disposed of. Bruce released his grip. He wasn’t holding onto anything anymore. Bruce’s eyes opened again, everything enveloped in green. He felt a deep anger bubbling inside of him. A strong desire to hurt, to cause harm. It wasn’t his. I’LL SMASH THEM

You’re just a monster. Bruce snapped up the severed arm, then shifted to turn at the dog, still inching closer. Out came a deep bellow, the blood curdling roar sending the dog running before Bruce turned off. His bare feet streaked across the pavement in the other direction. Wet footprints quickly became heavy indentations, then outright potholes, green soles crushing the road like it was snow.

I LIKE being a monster. The Hulk leapt into the sky, clearing the slums and reaching busier parts of town, where lights and cars still filled the streets. As the Hulk landed, screams followed the sounds of footfalls smashing down. And what does that make YOU?

Me? I’m with you. The anger wasn’t his, or rather, it wasn’t just his, nor was it just the Hulk’s. Not one way, not the other. Not this time.

With a wake of fear behind him, traffic stopped and jaws agape, the Hulk smashed down in front of a nearby by hospital. The quiet waiting room became filled with terror as the Hulk came through, bent down to fit, snapping and shattering the automated glass doors that were too slow for him. Unfurling his arms, as he stopped, the noise quieted down. Gently, the green mammoth placed the boy down, the severed arm flopping next to him. There were several cries of shock, calls for help. An air of tension still remained, a collective intake of breath matched with the Hulk standing, turning to go through the doors he’d busted. Stepping out on the streets, onlookers gawked, some took footage, others called for enforcement. Hulk didn’t care, they were small, puny, and couldn’t block his path if they wanted to. Bruce didn’t care, they were quiet, complacent, more inclined to keep out of danger then make any sudden moves.

This world has plenty of monsters. We’ll fit right in. And if there’s no room for us, then we’ll just smash other monsters until we find room.” The Hulk seemed to smile, rolling his neck on his shoulders to the sound of bone cracking that almost sounded like gunshots. It had been a long time since he stretched his legs after all. Sounds like I’m finally speaking your language. Bruce had never felt so lucid, felt so alive. That he was still here at all was astonishing to him. He’d been of the mind that Jekyll and Hyde could never meet, so the story went. Maybe it wouldn’t turn out for the best, but right now, Bruce didn’t have the heart to care.

“GRAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!” The Hulk’s roar echoed across Belize. Those nearby scrambled for cover, shrieking as the Hulk burst into a run, then a leap, clearing the area as the distance lights of police vehicles had only just been sent into motion. The first in a long wave, ripples of the reemergence of the Hulk that would once again shake the world. With every jump, the warehouse came closer and closer. There, he would smash. Smash and smash and smash.

Until there was nothing left to rebuild.
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Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by AndyC
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AndyC Freeborn Scum

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"We're all dead," Alex says to himself, quivering with fear and clutching white-knuckled onto his weapon as on the other side of the hill, the battle rages. "Oh man, we're all dead. This is bad, this is bad, this is so bad....."

Indeed, things do appear to have the bleakness. The bulk of our forces have been routed, overwhelmed by the enemy horde. While they fought bravely, they lacked discipline, and most have been laid low. Our reinforcements were cut off, and only with a frantic withdrawal was I able to retrieve a few of my friends and bring them to safety. If we are to win the day, we must act with the boldness, and we must do it in the now.

"Do not despair, Friend Alex," I say, trying to rally the remaining warriors. "Our enemy has proven strong, but our resolve will be ever stronger! My friends, whatever horrors lie on the other side of that hill, beyond them lies glory! All we need is the courage to take it! Who among you will find your share of honor with me this day?!"

Not ten yards away, the grunts and cries and snarls of combat grow louder. Friends Trevor and Eugene whimper.

"I do not ask of you anything I would not give myself," I say, taking my own weapon in one hand and that of a fallen foe in the other. "The Warlords of Okaara and the blade-singers of Tamaran would sing songs of remembrance, ballads of mighty champions and warrior queens who defended the innocent and slew the wicked. To have so much as a line written in your name, let alone a verse, is a greater honor than most achieve in their lives. And friends, I do believe each of you have names worthy of singing."

This raises their spirits a bit. Friends Gerald and Andrew stand, their fear giving way to a quavering confidence.

"The enemy comes. I will charge them, and they will know the fury of a Princess of Tamaran! Come with me and find your honor, or bury your heads in shame!"

A defiant war cry erupts from our ranks, and we prepare to meet the foe in one last desperate stand.

Behind me, my most trusted friend and confidant, our powerful sorceress, stands.

"Kory," she says with a sigh.....




".....this is stupid," I say, as the handful of LARPers in the park cry out like they're in the climax of a Peter Jackson movie.

On the other side of the hill, a dozen or so "orcs"-- some other nerds with green face-paint on-- have captured a "sacred relic" (a beach ball with some gold spraypaint and glitter) that we have to take back. I'm the group's sorceress, which means I've got a couple of pouches of bird-seed and tennis balls with streamers on them that I throw around to act as my "spells." For some reason, Kory got it in her head that this would be a great way for us to train for combat, to learn how to use my Soul Magic tactically without outing myself to any prying eyes that might be watching. In action, this whole thing would be humiliating if there were any people in Jump City whose opinions I actually valued.

The rules of this Live-Action-Role-Playing thing required me to dress up as my fantasy character, a Sorceress I named 'Raven.' I initially didn't want to put on a costume, but they didn't want some girl in normal clothes running around their magical fantasy battle-- that would just be silly. I found a couple of cheap pieces at a costume store, a dark cloak and some pieces of faux jewelry. The dress I wanted to wear wasn't really easy to move around in, so I ended up buying a gymnast's leotard and some stockings for the main portion of the outfit-- it's light, I can run around and jump and whatever without any trouble, and it's cheap if it gets torn.

I'm not crazy about how form-fitting it is, but at least it's more modest than the outrageous armored-bikini getup Kory picked for herself. She looks like something from the cover of those old Heavy Metal magazines Alex and his crusty friends keep in the back of the comic shop.

"For the glory of Tamaran!" Kory yells as she charges towards the first group of pizza-faced ogres. She doesn't run into them, so much as she dances through them. Each of their attacks might as well be moving through pudding as she gracefully ducks underneath one, twirling to land one strike in a nerd's face, then whirls low with a backhand blow across the knees with her off-hand weapon. The second one swings a club at her, and she butterfly kicks over it, bringing both of her weapons together in an X-pattern to slash across his neck.

If she wasn't using a pair of PVC pipes padded with pool noodles and wrapped in duct tape, it would actually be kind of cool.

As Kory engages the main body, three more of the green-painted 'Orcs' run towards me and Alex, who cringes behind me.

"Hang on, hang on," I say, looking through my list of spells as the enemies converge. "Okay, here we go. Greater Invisibility."

I pull a small pouch from my belt, and throw a handful of glitter in the air. As the other nerds approach, I put my hands up. One of them raises his foam-and-cardboard battle-axe to attack.

"Nope," I say, casually taking a step back, "You saw the glitter. According to the rules you guys gave me, that means I'm invisible, and so are any other friendly players within five feet. So you can't attack me and 'Bolphunga the Unrelenting' here."

"....ugggh, no fair!" the axe guy whines.

"Hey, those are the rules. Not my fault your team went all barbarian with no spellcaster."

"....okay, but what about all the other guys on your team?" he asks, pointing to the guys who didn't join Kory on her glorious charge.

I shrug. "What about them? Come on, Alex, let's go get this over with."

The attacking orc players eagerly charge in on the couple of cowering dorks, ready to do their dirty work. Even if it's just a game, I do feel kind of bad.

"Oh hey," I call back as they move in on my helpless teammates. "You see that line I drew in the dirt with the 'X' on it?"

Axe guy turns back and nods. "Yeah?"

"That's a Dimension Door," I tell them. "When you ran across that line, it opened up and teleported you to the Abyss. You're out." Game or not, I'm not going to just leave people defenseless.

"Oh come on!" he pouts, and then he and his friends go wander over to the pavilion where their moms have prepared snacks.

A few yards away, Kory does a no-hands cartwheel to dodge an incoming arrow (which has a big foam ball on the end, making it about as dangerous as a thrown pillow) and throws one of her foam swords like a javelin at her attacker, hitting him square in the chest. Meanwhile, I casually stroll up the greenway towards the golden beach ball, Alex cringing behind me.

Eventually, the 'invisibility' spell wears off, and a couple more Orcs with spears try to intercept me. "Burning Hands," I say as I toss a handful of bird seed at one, harmlessly coating him in pellets. He plays along, falling to the ground and yelling like he's actually on fire. It's silly and lame, but at least he's getting into it instead of griping about the rules. Alex lets out a war cry and swings his pool-noodle sword at the second spear guy, and they split off to have their own little duel.

The golden beach ball is sitting maybe about ten yards away in the middle of the orc players' "base," a small arbitrary area lined out with a couple of traffic cones. With Kory single-handedly cutting down most of the other team, the "relic" looks undefended, so I make my way towards it.....

"Ha-HAAAAAAA!!!!!"

....and a scrawny kid with no shirt, a plastic skull mask, two big foam axes, and his arms and chest covered in temporary tattoos, jumps out from behind a bush between me and the beach ball.

"You may have outsmarted my minions, witch," he snarls in as deep a voice as he can manage, "but I, BROZZGOR THE UNCONQUERABLE, will not fall for your magicks! My steel is thirsty for your blood! BERZERKER RAGE!!!!"

He charges, and I toss a ping-pong ball at him, which bounces off of his plastic mask.

"Hold Person," I say. "We win."

"But--- hey, that's....whaa--"

"In the rules you guys gave me, it says that Berzerker Rage lowers your Willpower. Hold Person is a high-level spell, which means you now don't have the ability to save against it. So you're now stuck in place, which means I can grab the beach ba--...the 'relic,' and we win."

"You can't do that!!!!" he starts to shriek.

"There's literally nothing that says I can't," I shrug as I walk over and pick up the beach ball.

Skull guy runs off, still shrieking in a dork rage, while I wave down Kory to let her know we won.

"Oh, Friend Raven," she exclaims, "This is most glorious! We have one the first of many triumphs today, and have succeeded in kicking many of the butts!"

"It's Rachel," I say, "I told you, 'Raven' is just my character's name. It's only while the game is going, and now that we've won, the game is over. This whole thing is weird enough without mixing up everyone's real and fake names."

"I see," she nods, clearly not seeing at all. "Anyway, you did very well today! I believe this was an excellent training session for when we fight the true ass-holes in the world!"

I give her a skeptical look. "I threw bird-seed and pocket-sand at some overweight chuds with bad hygiene. How is that going to get me ready for fighting mercenaries and cultists and super-villains?"

"You were aware of your gifts," she explains, "you saw how they could best be used, and you applied them in ways the enemy did not expect. The danger may not be as great as when we confront the HIVE or the Church of Blood, no. But you are beginning to think like a warrior, and that is the first step to becoming one."

I shrug, not completely convinced. "It's better than nothing, I guess."

"Indeed! Now, we have been invited to take part in the celebratory feasting upon the cakes of pan! Our new friends Rothgar Blood-Thirster and Zugroth Doomhammer have room in their cars to take us to the domain of IHOP. Never-ending pancakes, four flavors of bottled tree-sap, and free refills on coffee! It sounds like a place of wonders!"

"Kory, the last thing you need is caffeine," I say, "But sure, I could eat. You are going to change clothes before we go, though, right?"

"Is something wrong with my battle regalia?" she asks, looking down at the bits of dubiously-effective armor held together by strips of spandex, the only things between her and a public indecency charge. "Did it get torn?"

"I'm pretty sure if it got torn, the parents at the park would never let us back here," I tell her. "It's just....not appropriate to wear that stuff in public. It's so....degrading."

"I fail to see how it degrades me if I do not allow it to make me feel degraded," she says. "At any rate, I saw many females and males in the public yesterday, who were all wearing regalia like this, and they were not said to be 'degraded.'"

"They were at the beach, Kory. Those were swimsuits."

"I have the confusion. How does the proximity to water influence the amount of shame one is supposed to feel about one's body? Do you humans have some sort of chemical reaction when exposed to moisture?"

"It's.....complicated," I wave it away. "Anyway, I'm going to put my 'Raven' costume up. You put on some pants, then we'll eat some pancakes, okay?"

"I have the annoyance that so many things on this planet are 'complicated,'" she frowns, but then like a light switch she goes right back to sunny and cheerful. "Still, I look forward to the eating of fried carbohydrates and tree-sap!"

She merrily trots away toward the small concrete building where the public bathrooms are so she can get changed (just getting her to do that instead of stripping wherever she felt like was a chore), and I'm left picking up the ping-pong balls and other bits and bobs I threw around to cast my "spells" before we leave.

"Hey, uhhhh, Rachel?"

Turning around, I look and see Alex, still holding his foam sword, shifting nervously back and forth.

"Hm?"

"I, uh......I thought you were really cool out there," he says.

"Oh, ummm.....thanks," I say. "Did you, uh, manage to beat that spear guy?"

"....no," he admits, turning his head away.

"Ah," I say as I stand up, having picked up my last bit of litter. "Well, you'll get him next time."

"Yeah," he says, smiling with a bit of uneasy confidence, "Next time."

He looks like he's about to say something else, then he runs off towards his mom's van in the parking lot.

What a day. What a weird, lame, and very, very stupid day. Then again, 'weird and stupid' could describe just about every aspect of my life for about a month now, ever since a magic space-girl crash-landed in front of me and started sleeping in my apartment. Considering how many people are after us, how many people want Kory on a dissection table and me on a sacrificial altar, a day running around in the park having a fake-fight with a bunch of nerds is practically mundane.

My stomach growls as the sun starts to set on Jump City. Now that I think about it, pancakes don't sound too bad.
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Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Sep
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Midgard was once a world with Pantheons upon Pantheons, more Gods than many other worlds combined. The small, seemingly insignificant rock adrift in space a nexus point for various realms to come together. Over time some faded into obscurity, others left the realm altogether. While others continued to play with their influence on the world, subtly interacting with the world according to their grand design. This is not the tale of one such God. This is the tale of…



Previously:School Day // Wooly Hat


“-and that is how I managed to have myself transformed back from a frog into my true form.” There was applause around the room as Thor stood with a smug look on his face. Mjolnir twirling in his hands. At this point, the room was filled with not only the people from this classroom but several others had ventured in cramming the room as full as it could be. With even more people crowding outside the room, and the windows peering in. Cameras flashed, the small telephone devices held up recording video and audio. It would no doubt be only a short period until news crews started to show up. Soon after that, his Avengers ID card would no doubt notify him that his ‘liaison’ Agent Brand would like to talk to him.

“That is quite enough now Mr.Thor. We have taken enough of your time.” Thor turned to the teacher, this Mr.Blackwood seemed to hold resentment towards him. The teacher turned towards the window as there was some form of commotion through the crowd. A raven flew through them before landing on the windowsill cawing, it tapped on the window. Blackwood groaned as he moved towards the window. “What now? Shoo you stupid bird, shoo!”

Thor took a step closer. “I would not do that. That is Huginn, he brings a message from Odin. I would let him in-”

“Let a wild bird into my classroom? Are you mad? If you want to talk to birds do it on your own time.” Flapping his hands at the bird it seemed undeterred by the mortal's actions. Cawing once more it flapped its wings and then turned away flying in the opposite direction from the window. “See? Just a random Raven. Nothing to do with-” Before he knew it Huginn had turned flying directly towards the window. Several people flinched as it got close, but instead of colliding with the window, it passed straight through landing on the desk.

The bird shot Blackwood an annoyed look before it turned its head so that one of its eyes was focused on Thor. Opening its beak the booming voice of the All-Father filled the room.

“Thor!” The Prince of Asgard winced slightly. The tone his father used was not a good sign. “Why do you sully yourself by consorting with these mortals? I have told you before you have a higher duty to attend.”

“I was merely answering a Prayer, in the way Lady Freyja taught.” Throwing the name of his mother in there was always a good bet. Well, usually a good bet.

“Do you take me for a fool boy? Return to Asgard at once. I would have words with you.” Thor sighed as he bowed his head towards the raven, without even waiting for an answer Huginn left the same way he entered the room. Putting on his most reassuring smile he moved towards the small girl Alice. Who’s prayer had brought him here.

“I will return, Lady Alice. Until then, I bid you farewell.” Without so much as another word he left the room, passing people within the halls and out the front door of the school. He was immediately swarmed by people as clouds and thunder formed overhead. He raised Mjolnir above his head. “I would stand back if I were you-” people backed away from him as he shouted into the air. “-Heimdall open the Bifrost!” A beam of light came crashing down from the skies, a rainbow of light surrounding Thor as he disappeared. Pulled through the fabrics between the realms.

HOVDEN // NORWAY


A lone figure dressed in black walked through the crowd. Green accents adorned his outfit as he occasionally delicately placed a hand on the shoulder of one of the many people on their knees. Chanting and praying was all that could be heard, the droning of over one hundred people praying in unison. The figure ignored the cameras, ignored the lights. This sermon would be broadcast through various back channels all over the world. The figure did not doubt that this would eventually find its way back to the authorities, they had been chasing for quite some time now, and yet, they were always a step behind. The numbers of the Woken were too many now, too many to ignore. With a significant power base that gave them the option of working more openly, and more freely.

Thanks to the Heroics of Thor the movement had only grown, people willingly giving up their beliefs in one God or another, after all, how could you possibly argue with Gods you saw on the daily news? Gods who interacted with humanity regularly to make the world a better place. Reaching the end of the aisle of worshipers there was a stone throne, roughly carved. Atop it a hole. A place where one of the norn-stones of myth would one day sit.

The figure held up their hand, and the chanting stopped. With another wave, an elaborate horned helmet formed atop his head. “People of Midgard. For too long those who you worship as Gods have ignored you-” There was the murmur of agreement. Quiet. “-for too long, those you have chosen to lead you have abused you-” there was a louder cheer this time. “-for too long the Lords above have ignored you-” the cheering was becoming a roar at this point. “-for too long you have been left to squalor and rot in the dust while others succeed upon your backs! Reaping rewards from that that you have sown! Well, today I say no more!” People stood roaring at this point and he merely raised a hand to stop them.

“Together we will accomplish wonderful things.”

Loki couldn't help but smile.

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Natty

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Most teenagers go on dates to the movies. Others awkwardly try and make small talk over a cup of coffee. Thankfully for Billy Kaplan and Teddy Altman, they were superheroes, which meant that dates provided a bit more excitement compared to your regular pair of horny teenagers. They were Wiccan and Changeling; New York’s own personal heroes. And Billy could not be happier about it.

After a long day of choring away at a school desk, the two had escaped up to their favourite rooftop, where the luscious Manhattan skyline ran out before them. The brownstone was aged, and not particularly in the best neighbourhood, but it was the perfect spot to sit back and watch the city. As such, they had dotted the area with a few of their belongings. It wasn’t anything too special; a simple blanket, a small portable speaker, and some well-hidden snacks. But it was enough.

Teddy called it the Watchtower. Billy had tried to tell him that it didn’t make sense since it wasn’t actually a tower, but he didn’t care and just thought it sounded cool. They had laughed about it at the time. It was like they were school children, and this was their secret hideout.

The two had patrolled here regularly over the past few weeks ever since they’d revealed their abilities to one another. It had brought them even closer together. Being a superhero was everyone’s dream, especially since the day Superman had risen above Metropolis for the first time. And what was better than enjoying that dream with the person you care about most?

On top of that, it always felt good to put a stop to some crime. Tonight, was no exception. Other than the fact that tonight was not just a bunch of regular thugs that the two of them were fighting.

It was the Terror Twins.

Teddy had recognized them instantly from their perch within the Watchtower, from their bleach blonde hair to the tacky combination of white wifebeaters and red suspenders. Apparently, they had been on a crime spree along the east coast before going tail to tail with a couple of the Justice League. Their breakout had been trending on Twitter just that morning. And now here they were in the big apple. From the damage before them, it was clear that they weren’t just here as tourists.

So far, the fight had been going well. Wiccan and Changeling had leapt triumphantly down onto the street to confront them, changing into their costumes through the power of Billy’s magic as they did so. It hadn’t taken long for the Twins to spot them, with the two moving away from the corner bank they were in the middle of robbing and flexing their bulging musclebound bodies in anticipation for a fight - Billy could only wonder what the two cared about more; the money, or the violence that came with it. They’d thrown the first punch, with Tommy Terror (as Teddy had identified during the info-dump he had given on their short flight down) leaping aggressively towards the two heroes.

Teddy simply shifted his body in retaliation, his now green skin growing larger and rougher. He caught Tommy’s fist with ease, before pulling him close enough to follow up with a quick jab in the gut. Billy only got a glimpse of the twin’s pain before he found himself under attack himself.

Tuppence Terror was slightly smaller than her brother, yet still brawnier than Billy. That wasn’t an issue however, with Wiccan lifting into the air narrowly avoiding her reach, as a wave of electrical energy erupted from the palms of his outstretched hands. Whereas Teddy had to ability to shift his body however he pleased, Billy’s gift was something much more magical. He could make things happen. More complex things he had to wish for, but after weeks of practice, firing energy like this was a piece of cake.

He moved through the air, red cape billowing behind him as he encircled his target. Despite packing a punch, the energy seemed to do little more than slow her down.

“That all y’ got boy?” She laughed mockingly; her voice enthralled with a southern twang.

As if to add further insult to injury, the brute reached out to her left and ripped a car door from its hinges, before hurling it like a frisbee toward him. Eyes widening, Billy dived down towards the floor, narrowly missing it as it crashed through shop window behind him. A cry from that very same shop caught his attention as he moved to scramble to his feet. Turning, he saw that a mother and her daughter were cowering in fear inside, having also just luckily avoided the door. Billy grimaced. They had to end this quickly or people were going to get hurt.

I don’t think Captain America would appreciate you stealing his moves!” Billy exclaimed, turning back towards Tuppence and moving his hands up over his head. “Why don’t you take it backTakeItBackTakeItBackTakeItBack...

Billy’s mind went into overdrive as he repeated the incantation. And as he spoke, reality warped to his bidding. The car door, now wedged into the drywall at the back of the shop, lurched backwards into freedom, before flying right back to its sender. What more, was that as it passed over the threshold of the store, the remains of the shattered glass window seems to lift into the air too, with the glass shards shooting through the air like bullets.

Despite her speed, there was nothing she could do, with the glasses tearing into her body, and the door itself knocking her to the floor.

Billy punched the air proudly, only for both his fist and smile to drop once he caught sight of his boyfriend.
Despite having had the upper hand towards the start of the conflict, Teddy now seemed to be taking a battering, with Tommy issuing punches and jabs like a boxer. Teddy did all he could to avoid the hits, his body morphing from side to side, yet it wasn’t enough as an uppercut from Tommy sent him flying.

Billy watched in horror as Teddy’s body tumbled helplessly across the street before coming to a stop in an awkward pile. Tommy Terror chuckled through coughs of blood, with the hulk of a man heaving the atm safe that they had been robbing off the ground and over his head, before menacingly walking towards his injured victim on the ground.

Teddy’s body could do nothing but twitch in pain as Tommy Terror raised it higher.

Stop!

Billy’s cry rang out across the street, as a blinding light erupted from his body.

As it faded, Billy found himself high into the air, a magical aura of red floating around him as he drifted downwards. He panicked, his head darting around to see what had happened. The street seemed pretty much the same as it had been a few seconds ago; a few smoking cars and some rubble from the damaged bank and storefront. The only noticeable difference now was that the Terror Twins seemed to be laying on the ground motionless.

His eyes snapped over towards Teddy. Thankfully, he seemed to be rising to his feet, with the green-skinned teenager wearing a face of pure confusion. Billy’s heart leapt with joy. He did not know what he would have done if anything had happened to him.

Wha.. what just happened?” Teddy asked, scratching the back of his head as he pondered the crime scene before him.

The previous panic briefly returned to Billy now. What had happened? Had he caused that light? He watched anxiously as Teddy crouched down next to Tommy Terror, placing a green finger against his neck, clearly looking for a pulse. He simply let out a nervous laugh as he looked back up at Billy, who now found himself biting the tip of his thumb out of nervousness.

Well, they’re not dead at least.” He tried to sound jovial, in that very Teddy way, but Billy could tell he was nervous as well.

That’s a positive then...

The two stood awkwardly, their eyes taking everything in. The fun had gone now, and all that was left was an eerie feeling of dread.

The sound of sirens thankfully snapped them both back to reality.

Teddy glanced in the direction that they were coming. “We need to bounce. We do not need to try explaining a mess like this to the police again.” He said, before letting out a short laugh as he reflected on the aftermath of them having busted an arms deal a few weeks ago.

Finally smiling once more at the thought, Billy readied himself.

Right. I got this.” He didn’t like the idea of using his powers so soon after what had just happened, but they both knew that this would be the quickest way out of here. “TakeUsAwayTakeUsAwayTakeUsAwayTakeUsAway…

As Billy’s incantation rang out, the two costumed heroes vanished from the street. Billy then found himself reappearing several seconds later on a far-off rooftop.

It took him a couple of seconds to realize that he was alone. He let out a short gasp as he spun around on the spot, his eyes widening. Where was Teddy? Did his spell mess up? Had he done something to him?

Before Billy could dwell too long on these questions however, a voice boomed loudly behind him.

BILLY KAPLAN.

Billy yelped in confusion as he turned once more. Standing in the air before him was the largest being he had ever seen. Standing at around 20 ft tall, the being’s body seemed to be coated in glimmering gold, with the blue cloak wrapped around him giving him a somewhat regal appearance. His eyes were as bright and blue as the sky around them. Billy would’ve considered them to be beautiful if they didn’t seem to currently be narrowed in anger.

As Billy simply stared in astonishment, the being spoke.

Your callous disregard for the precedents of time and space have forced my hand, Child. You have no idea the havoc your careless actions cause. As I am Tempus Fuginaut, you have given me no choice.

Billy gulped. He was absolutely fucked.

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