Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by Hound55
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Hound55 Create-A-Hero RPG GM, Blue Bringer of BWAHAHA!

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T H E ‘ E M B A S S Y ‘

Four Months Ago | Manhattan, New York

"So wait-- explain this all to me again..." Ted asked the most recent applicant, rocking closer forward in his chair and pinching his goggles slightly off of the bridge of his nose.

"Am I going crazy, Beetle? Is that what's happening right now?" Booster looked slightly panicked as he addressed his friend.



The bespectacled man sighed in his tan trenchcoat. "We've been over all of this, my name is--"

"Uuuuupp-ahp-ahp-ahp-ahp-ahp..." Booster tried to stop the interviewee, holding a hand out.

"--Terrence Thirteen."

"--Ssssssssssssssssssssss..." Both Booster and Ted winced simultaneously at the revelation of his real name.

"We-- we don't do that here." The Blue Beetle tried to gently explain, gesturing between Booster and himself.

"I'm an occult detective. An ardent disprover of the paranormal."

"Yes. Yes, we got that much. Tell me again what you just said your powers are."

"Beetle, I don't--" "Shhhh!" The Blue Beetle leant further in still, waiting for the response.

"I just told you... I don't have any power. Aside from maybe being more resistant to magic than most."

"Nnng!" Booster took this poorly and started to rock back and forth in his seat.

"Yeah, that's what I thought you said--" Ted rocked back in his seat, sucking his molars and feeling secure in the knowledge that he wasn't mistaken.

"I HAVE gone crazy, haven't I BB? You can tell me. I can take it." Booster pleaded.

"No. No, on this one you're spot on. I just wanted to see if I could give him the chance to see it for himself."

"See what?"

"So, you're looking to join a SUPERHERO team, with the only power that you can claim being that you 'Might be a little more immune to magic than most', and the reason you're providing for that to be the case is because you 'don't believe in it'." Ted assertively fired off air quotes.

"Oh thank God, it's not just me..." Booster looked relieved.

"Yes..?"

"And you don't see the problem with that?" The Blue Beetle cocked a single eyebrow whilst leaning in once again.

"What's wrong with that?"

"Well, the value you're assigning yourself is contingent entirely on your premise that the situation that would require said value... doesn't exist."

Booster pointed wildly at Ted in agreement, then considered the words his friend had actually said with a furrowed brow and seemed further confused still.

"I'm afraid I don't quite follow you."

"Actually, I'm starting to be more unsure of myself all the time even as you explain things..." Booster scratched the back of his head.

"It's a paradox."

"..."

Ted sighed. "One of those things you're REEEEEEEEEALLY not supposed to do to the timestream."

"Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!" Booster raised a singular finger, having finally understood.

"And there's another discrepancy here as well, when you first introduced yourself, you did it as--"

"Doctor Thirteen, yes?"

"--yes, and yet, when I look through your resume here under qualifications you've neither been IN medicine, nor hold a doctorate in... well, anything."

"Hey, if that huckster hoax Doctor Strange can call himself 'Doctor', then so can I!"

"I know Doctor Strange. I've actually been present whilst he's supervised over urgent field surgery that had to be performed by steadier hands... he IS a medical doctor. That's not some magical title. He's even kept up with the journals and work for the qualifications to still hold."

"Well-- well Doctor Doom..!"

"--Holds numerous doctorates in various fields. The man's a bona fide genius."

"Well..."

"In fact, if I had to try and convince Hank Pym to refer to you as 'Doctor', I'd never hear the end of it."

"Well... he could call me 'Terry'..?"

Booster Gold and the Blue Beetle both stared blankly at the man in the trenchcoat after his response.

"...I'll just see myself out."




R A V E N ' S P E R C H

2002 | Ugh... New Jersey

The Blue Beetle walked down suburban Main Street with Skeetz floating close behind, all eyes were on the pair.

"Sir, we seem to be attracting a lot of attention."

"Hmm? Oh, I see. Give me a second. I think I've got something for this." The hero said, reaching into his belt and pulling out a length of cord for his grapple line and attaching one end to Skeetz.

"There."

"I fail to see how this is any better--"

"Shh..! Someone's coming." As a local police officer approached, making his patrol round. Ted quickly stepped away from his job tying the knot and leaned non-chalantly against a wall.

The cop opened his mouth to say something, before the Blue Beetle pre-empted his question. "Fancy dress party. So I get left holding my daughter's balloon whilst her mother takes her to the bathroom." He said, pointing to the line and floating robot.

"Ah." He confirmed, seeming happy with the answer and walking on by.

"A children's balloon. Why was I built with the ability to feel shame?" Skeetz moaned as the cop walked out of earshot.

"My best guess? Because if humans have to deal with humiliation on a daily basis then why should you get off easy?" Ted answered.

"Let's get off the street, anyway. I need time to sit down and think." Ted walked into a large diner named 'The Jukebox' - if the overbearingly large sign on the windows and giant fibreglass '70s jukebox on the roof, seemingly designed to illustrate the fact for any who lacked the ability to read - were anything to go by.

Ted took a booth for himself and ordered coffee when the waitress made her first round.

"Now let's figure this out." He said to Skeetz once the cup was left in front of him. "Raven's Perch... Where have I heard of that place before?" He said to himself.

"It wasn't an article, or I'd remem-- Ah! I've got it!" He put the cup to his lips, treating the caffeine as if it were a reward for his recollection, before wincing at the burnt roast selection that passed for coffee in this diner.

"Sir..?"

"Magneto, Skeetz. Check your old archived news. Years earlier Erik Lehnsherr... or maybe he's in your files as Max Eisenhardt, committed one of the greatest acts of domestic terrorism ever on American soil. He attempted to set off a mutagenic bomb with the intention of deviating the evolutionary course of humanity along the Eastern seabord. Ironically, his plan was itself foiled by a group of five mutants. Eventually those went on to become known as the first X-Men, but that's not important right now. The point is, Magneto failed, but a very small amount of material leaked into the local reservoir, creating a marked increase in mutant appearances over the years in surrounding cities and townships like... Ravens Perch." Ted tapped on the table to emphasise the town where they now were, before realising how big a scene he might be making and leaned in closer to Skeetz to whisper. "So we may not be as out of luck as first appears... There may be someone here whose help we can recruit. We just have to keep our eyes open."

The next booth over, three kids were sitting down talking to a middle aged man.

Skeetz responded, lights flickering, indicating towards their booth. "Sir, we might not have to wait long..."



"We didn't say 'No', yet..." The young man with the goatee answered.

"Just a second..." Ted got up, and stood over their table. "I've got a job for you all, right now. I'll pay you all--" The Blue Beetle hesitated, thinking of a price. "--five thousand dollars a piece. But my one term is that you cut that shyster loose right now."

"Hey, do you mind! We're talking business here!" The middle aged man protested.

The young lady held her hand out at the man sitting opposite, before replying to the Blue Beetle. "Five thousand dollars? For each of us?"

"That's what I said."

"And you've got this money?" Asked the other teen.

"Well, I'll be able to GET the money. After the job's done. I mean... TECHNICALLY I have the money, but I wouldn't be able to pay you until after it's done." Ted replied.

"HA!"


The three kids looked amongst themselves dubiously.

Ted scowled at the middle aged con man. "I don't walk around with fifteen grand on me, if that's what you're asking."

"So what's the job?" The girl asked.

"I'm a superhero from a few decades in the future, I'm trying to figure out how to get back to my time. Once I get there I can pay you all your money."

"HA HA HA HA HA! Hang on! I've gotta write this one down!" He laughed and pulled out a notepad and pen from his top pocket whilst Ted winced at the middle aged man's caustic laughter at his story. It did sound pretty suspect, now that Ted heard himself talk about it out loud.

He almost expected himself to be laughed out of the room along with the other man, until...



The three teens seemed to disappear into space, only to reappear a brief time later.

"Alright. We discussed this amongst ourselves. We're sticking with him." They pointed to Ted.

"HIM?!? Why?"

"Well, as far as we're concerned you BOTH sound like a couple of con-men, but given a choice I'll go with the one with a face like his who actually sprung for a superhero costume and a-- robot?"

Ted rubbed his chin. "'A face like his'? You mean honest?"

"Goofy." She clarified. "You don't look clever or conniving enough to come up with some kind of scam like that."

The kids got up from their booth, and the four left the diner together.

"So I take it you don't have to put up with con-men where you're from?"

Ted stopped and thought a few seconds about Max Lord before responding. "Ours wears nicer suits.

"I'm Laura, but you can call me 'Fateball'. That's Jesse Metuchen, AKA Jughandle, and that's--"

"The MIZE!"

"--Mize. Or Stuart Welles."

"The Mize." He corrected flatly.

"But he prefers 'The Mize'." Jughandle explained.

"The Miiiiiiiize." He repeated, trying to put a "cool" tone to it.

"Hmm... He REALLY prefers the Mize." Ted noted.

"So what do we call you?" Jesse asked.

"This is Skeetz, but as for me, we'll just keep it to 'Blue Beetle'. One of the first things you realize in this superhero gig is 'The Less People Who Know Your Other Identity, The Better'." Ted explained. "Life can be messy otherwise."

"So what exactly are we working with here?" Fateball asked.

"What do you mean? He asked.

"Well, Jughandle can open pocket dimensions outside of the timestream, where he's basically oblivious to harm and time can slow down for anyone in there. That's what we did in the diner--"

"'Oblivious'?" Mize asked.

"--Me, I have photokinetic reflexes. I can duplicate different actions I see."

"I don't think you mean oblivious. Imperious? Is that the word? No... Impervious? Impervious to harm?" The Mize continued talking to himself.

"So far I've used it to learn about four or five different fighting styles."

"Muay thai?" Ted asked.

"What's that?" Fateball asked.

"It's a fighting style. Uses elbows and kness as well. There's a movie out next year, Ong Bak has this guy Tony Jaa who's really good. If your powers work how you say, you'll probably find it helpful. That said... I don't see how that connects with your name 'Fateball'."

"Oh! Yeah, I have photokinetic reflexes, PLUS of course I have my fateball." She produced a Magic 8 ball swinging by her side in a bowling ball bag. "I ask it any question, it's answers always turn out. ALWAYS."

Ted arched an eyebrow in curiosity.

"Here, I'll show you. Blue Beetle here wants to get back to his time. 'Will We Get Blue Beet--"

"Whoa! No! Wait!" Ted stopped her, yelling out.

The three kids stopped, turned and stared at him.

"Let's... Not ask that question. At the moment there's still a degree of quantum uncertainty. Wiggle room we can use to get me back to where I want to be. If your fateball works how you say, if that answer comes back bad, then I'm stuck. Right now, I'm Schrödinger's Cat."

"What--? Mize spoke up, apparently for all of them.

"Didn't any of you kids take physics? Schrödinger's Cat? The thought experiment Edwin Schrödinger used to explain the problems with Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics to Albert Einstein?"

The three kids looked at him blankly.

"Okay, in order to describe the nature of quantum superposition... there's a cat in a box--"

"Aww, kitty..."

"--along with a flask of poison - or Schrödinger said hydrocyanic acid, a radioactive device and an internal monitor - some kind of geiger counter, for example - that can detect radioactivity to the point of the decay of a single atom decaying, and flick a switch which destroys the flask."

"You could have just said 'Smart science guy' when I asked what you do..." Fateball complained.

"I don't like where this is going for the kitty..." Jughandle said to Mize.

"Well, the Copenhagen interpretation states after a while that the cat is both simultaneously alive AND dead. The quantum superposition. Yet if someone were to look in the box, they would see that the cat was EITHER alive OR dead."

The three stared at him in horror.

"People in your time are SICK, man!"

"This wasn't MY time! This was back in 1935!"

They still looked disgusted.

"Anyway... my point was, that like the cat I'm in the quantum superposition. Simultaneously able to get back to my time AND stranded here... entirely contingent on the decaying of a single atom. But if you ask the fateball that question, then that's like opening the box. No matter the answer, it's a fixed point from then. Unchangable. Quantum superposition ends and reality collapses into one of the two possibilities."

"Ohhhhhhhhh! You don't want me to ask the fateball about whether you make it back, because if the answer's bad then you're stuck here?"

"Yes!" An exasperated Ted answered. "...like the cat. Fate gone from being contingent on the decay of a single atom to being unalterably set in stone."

"Ah OK. I gotcha."

The four continued walking down the street before Ted realized there was still one unanswered question.

"And what about the Mize? What does he do?"

"Oh, he decays atoms..."



* Panels pulled from 'The Craptacular B-Sides #1, Published 2002
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Hidden 3 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 – 1.04

Interaction(s): None
Previously: 1.03

Shoved to the floor of the brig, Bruce coughed out in pain as he rolled over. The soreness at the beating he’d received earlier had already begun to fade, but it’s not as though it made this treatment any better. Door slamming shut, he was left to his own, another door closing moments later.

Opening his eyes with a groan, Bruce saw no difference. Sharply taking in breath, he tried to sit up, managing to find some kind of balance in the dark. “HEY!” he bellowed. When no response came, another cry came out, this one far weaker. “Don’t leave me here!” Breath coming on harder and faster, he couldn’t perceive much. With virtually no sight in the blackness, the slight movement of the boat in the water starting to make him nauseous without a visual point of reference to fixate on. Sounds from outside were distorted from the layers of metal separating him from the outside.

He hadn’t expected to be taken back like this. Even though there were so many differences, the darkness alone put him in the same frame of mind he’d been trying to escape for twenty years. Bending down and pressing his forehead to the metal floor, as if the cool surface might calm his rising temperatures or rapid breathing, in his closed eyes he saw that crack in the floor, where Brian had removed the boards. A blue bucket and dark green extension cord might seem innocuous enough on their own, but whenever Bruce was being punished, and Brian chose not to get physical, he would make Bruce sit in the bucket. Then, with the cable, he’d be lowered down. Bruce didn’t even know what the room was, or what was really down there. Was it an old basement? A cave? Brian most likely didn’t know either. But it was dark. After lowering him down, Brian would cover the entrance, Bruce stuck in that hole for who knew how long. All he could ever think to do was stay in that bucket and pray. His only link back to his house was the extension cord, not strong near enough to hold his weight. Next to his fantasies of climbing out to escape were those in which thay spider’s thread might fall, or snap, trapping him down there forever. Trapped with nothing...or everything. Whether they were auditory hallucinations or rodents skittering in the distance, unknowable noises haunted him. Odd shapes would form in the darkness: maybe it was phosphenes tracing patterns for him as he shut his eyes to keep out the dark, or the dark coming to greet him.

Although here he could move, Bruce still felt trapped in that bucket, curling up into a ball. Sweat beaded on his forehead, his breath rattled, every gasp he took failing to supply him with enough air. Even though he knew full well who put him here, just this slight similarity brought Brian back to his thoughts. He was gone, Bruce believed. He remembered little of that night after the transformation, but no one survives a drop from 20 stories. And yet, even though he knew that, Brian was here, in Bruce’s mind, in the dark with him. No, more than that: his palms formed the walls, the fingers, bars.

His life here in Belize had been simple, free. As he teacher he focused his efforts on a makeshift curriculum, as a laborer he did simple (if backbreaking) work. The menial work demanded so much of his focus that when he thought back to home he primarily thought of Betty, sometimes other former coworkers or friends like Rick, at worst the likes of General Ross, but with Brian gone he didn’t need to think about him any more. He thought the ghost had been beaten back, but he’d been here the whole time, waiting.

And Bruce wasn’t strong enough. The green spider’s thread dangled, and Bruce didn’t believe it could hold his own weight, nor did he think it could lead to salvation. Perhaps pulling on that thread might bring everything tumbling down, crushing himself and all that he cared about. But if he stayed in the dark, it would only be himself that was crushed.

In the darkness, another moved.

If Bruce would not grab that thread, then the Hulk would.

-----


Bullets hailed against the police car doors. Red and white lights lit up the area, an under-equipped police force held back by rifle fire from the ripped open warehouse.

“One hour!” called one of Jagger’s men. With a light sigh, he admitted it was a better time then he could have hoped for considering the short notice and length of sea in between here and their nearest outpost. Loading everything up onto that boat would be a cinch with Reg, and with the Belize police only equipped with pistols, they could be held back for the time being. If they called in bigger guns it could become a problem, but one rush with Reg and their efforts would be put back squarely. The rocket launcher would be kept in his back pocket for now. Firing his rifle again, Jagger’s thought process was interrupted by the wrenching of metal from behind him. Straightening up, her turned to see the boat lurching from within, jerking in one direction, then another. A rare expression of bewilderment briefly crossing his face, he wisely ran from the front entrance, heading towards the stairs to his office. The gunfire settled, in and out, the noise drawing attention before the Hulk burst from below the deck, landing on the ship before jumping to solid ground, grabbing one of the cartel members and throwing him into the nearest hard surface.

“Reg! Crush him!” Jagger ordered. Tilting his oddly shaped head to the side, Reg’s neck made a crack before his buckled legs skittered the Hulks way, long arms reaching for him, the man eager to put his strength to the ultimate test. Fist launching, smacking into the Hulk’s face, he recoiled from the blow before snarling. The Hulk went to grab with both of his arms, Reg meeting him, their hands meeting one another as they grappled, fingers interlocking as the tried to push the other back. Feet digging into the ground, the Hulk bent his wrists forward, forcing Reg’s back, the Venom laced beast starting to shrink under the mass of the Hulk.

Brain had once seemed like a massive monster to Bruce. If the Hulk had been there to be the bigger monster, then things might have been different. But Brian wasn’t here. In fact, neither was Bruce, not having the control he’d had before, not this time. And to the Hulk, Reg, standing in front of him now, was but a tiny man.

Gritting his teeth, the Hulk let out a roar, straightening out his back before driving his weight down on Reg’s wrists. Those bulky arms resisted, but the knobbly knees couldn’t take it. The skin on Reg’s shins split open like a ziploc bag, revealing muscle underneath. Reg cried out in pain. His ankles snapped, and he collapsed under the Hulk, legs crumpling as he was reduced to a whimpering mass of drug and muscle. Turning away, a smirk came to the Hulk’s face, the behemoth muttering, “Leg day.”

The condescending smile was stricken from his face with a call from above. “Look me in the eyes while you die,” Jagger demanded, brandishing his rocket. The Hulk was not amused. Jagger had begun to perspire. It was out of character for him, but after watching his power gradually be picked apart by this Hulk, his heart pounded in excitement as he faced down that green storm, that force of nature. Practically leaning out the window of his office, knee braced against the low wall, he pulled the trigger, firing into the hurricane.

Though Jagger was a smart man, he didn’t necessarily have all the experience. He knew about the backblast, the force desecrating the office behind him as he fired. But had he actually fired the rocket launcher before, he would have known that the accelerator only kicks off after ten to eleven meters of airtime. The Hulk had only been about 7 meters away when he fired. The rocket bounced off his flesh, a confused Hulk casually grabbing the explosive out of the air out of sheer reflex. Expression bemused, the rocket activated, the Hulk’s hand jerking as it tried to escape, but ultimately keeping firm. Jagger’s expression was blank as the Hulk looked back at him, pulling his arm before returning the gift. The rocket once again didn’t have enough force to explode on impact, bouncing around the office like a bar of soap in a bathtub. As the metal ricocheted, a cocktail of emotions surged, the dam bursting open. Shame, regret, panic, dread, and above all, anger at the fool who thought he could stop the storm on his own power.

The Hulk didn’t even bother to look, heading towards the entrance of the warehouse once he’d tossed the rocket. The explosion behind him didn’t even turn his head. The remaining cartel members had given up, their spirits taken with the extend of their power. Standing over the local law enforcement, they merely watched on. The Hulk ignored them, looking to the sky, the edge of the horizon beginning to glisten with dawnlight. Feet springing into action, Bruce was gone for now, back where he always was. But Hulk knew what they both wanted. Not dark, but the light. And with the light as his guide, the Hulk moved north, where they might one day stand in the sun.
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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by HenryJonesJr
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HenryJonesJr

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Madripoor

The Quinjet swooped down towards Madripoor, then skyscrapers that made up the city state rising like a concrete jungle in front of them. The city state had grown rapidly in the past decade, owning to the expansion of legal gambling and luxurious vacation resorts that dotted its crystal clear beaches. It was known across the world as a decadent den of vice and pleasure, a new Las Vegas without the kitsch. But the true face of Madripoor was one of black market deals, illegal arms, and human trafficking. The glitz and the glamor was just a pretty mask over a leprous face.

"Atom, where are you?" Cap asked as he made his way to the back of the Quinjet. There, already being lifted off the wall by a mechanical arm, was his motorcylce. He straddled the seat, and turned on the super quiet, ARC reactor engine Tony had installed for him. Even Steve had to admit that Stark was damn useful when he wasn't being a pain in the ass.

"We just dropped down near street level," he responded quickly. "Went over the beaches and then into the maze of buildings. Going to fast to see a sign. I'll activate my suit's tracker."

"Copy, we're coming to get you," Steve said before turning to Falsworth. "You take over piloting. The Quinjet won't look good flying through a city. Once Sam drops me off on the main road by the beach, you take over. Sam, you'll be our eyes in the sky inside the city. Union Jack, take her up and make sure nothing gets away through the air. Everyone understand?"

There was a nod, and Sam reported, "Cap, we're coming in. Get ready."

Wordlessly, Rogers steeled himself for what was about to happen. He had done it plenty of times in the war and since being thawed out by SHIELD, but it still never failed to give him a thrill. The ramp of the jet opened behind him, and Sam gave him a hand signal. He allowed the bike to roll backwards, and for a few moments he was freefalling towards the asphalt below. Once he judged the distance and his speed, he revved the bike's engine, watching the wheel spin uselessly like a cartoon character who had just run off a cliff and looked down. Before long, however, the wheels hit the ground, and he took off after only a momentary squeal of rubber on road.

The bike was fast, faster than any he had ever ridden before. At first he had been nervous about it. Stark had poked fun at his reticence to embrace the technological leaps the human race had made in his absence, and that was what finally broke Steve's reluctance. Rogers wasn't sure if he and Stark were friends, exactly. More like brothers who pushed each others' buttons in order to get the best out of one another. But they often did just that, so Cap didn't think about it too much.

Weaving in and out of traffic felt like second nature at this point. With the bike's speed and Steve's impeccable reaction time, there was nothing traffic could do to get in his way. As the blurs of people passed through his peripheral vision, some gaped while some scowled at the Avenger as he made his way towards the Atom's beacon. It was moving away from him, but he was going to catch up. It was already losing ground to him.

"Eyes in the sky, coming through," Falcon's voice announced in the comms. Steve stole a glance up, catching a glimpse of the graceful wings of the backpack of Sam's apparatus. It was a miracle of engineering, really. A high velocity jet pack mixed with flexible, aerodynamic metal wings allowed him to soar through the air like a bird. He was whisper quiet, and perfect for inserting himself behind enemy lines.

"Looks like the beacon has stopped," Sam called down to Steve.

The heads up display built into Cap's cowl showed the same thing. The beacon had come to rest in a building two blocks from here. He punched the bike towards the location, and skidding into an alleyway next to the building. The wharehouse looked deserted, which made sense. But looks could be deceiving.

"I'm heading in, Sam, you come in through the roof," Steve laid out the plan. "We have to figure there will be some of those androids in there. We get Ryan, we get that tech, and we get out of there."

Without waiting for Falcon's affirmative, he knew Sam knew what he was doing, Steve slammed his shield through a window and lept through the shattered glass. But what he found inside surprised him. The place was completely empty save for a jar sitting in the middle of the wharehouse's floor.

Cap approached the jar slowly, but as he got closer realized what was inside. He unscrewed the cap, and suddenly the Atom appeared in front of him. Choi fell to his knees and started gasping for breath. Sam landed on the concrete floor, and Steve motioned for him to give Ryan some air.

"They were ready for me," he shook his head. "Had some weird magnet. Pulled me into the jar and vacuumed sealed it. Happened so fast my suit didn't have the time to compensate and pressurize itself. A could more minutes in there and I would have been toast."

Cap cursed under his breath. He didn't know how, but AIM had been one step ahead of them lately. To the point where he was starting to wonder whether or not there was a mole in SHIELD he had to worry about.

"I don't know where they took the crate," Choi shook his head.

"Fury's gonna be pissed," Sam grumbled.

"Fury's always pissed," Steve sighed. "But we need to track down where AIM's taken this tech. Come on. The quicker we get back, the quicker we can get this figured out."
AIM Headquarters. Location Unknown


Professors Ivo and TO Morrow flittered like worker bees over the mechanical bodies that lay in front of them. The breakthroughs the two had made working for AIM were about to set the world a blaze. Already their prototype android models were out securing a piece that would allow the more advanced models, the ones that would finally allow AIM to bring the world to its knees, to live and work as designed.

Behind the two scientists, they felt a presence loom. They turned to find that gargantuan cranium of MODOK, formerly the scientist George Tarlton, floating over them.

"Good news, my friends," the deformed head smiled grotesquely, "we have what we need. It is time for Project Red to take its next step."
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Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by Retired
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Retired "Hayao Miyazaki"

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D O O M P A T R O L



"So, what's the deal with this latest Doombot?" The blond-haired man asked as he stretched back in his seat, arms behind his head.

Victor Von Doom fixed Johnny Storm with an unamused look. "Must you call them that?"

For the better part of six years, the young man sat aside Victor had shown little care or respect for the numerous inventions created by the latter. It wasn't malicious, at least Victor didn't believe so. Although, he was confident Johnny did take joy in teasing him. What future brother-in-law wouldn't? Storm's favorite jape was to refer to each one of Victor's mechanical creations as "Doombots."

"Says the guy who calls himself 'Doctor Doom,'" Johnny added, his movie-star good looks twisting into a grin.

Suppressing a sigh, Victor turned back toward his task. He flipped two switches on the dashboard stretched out before him and pulled back on a lever beside his seat.

"Well, Jonathan." He spoke slowly and deliberately, his slight Eastern European accent highlighting each syllable. "My name is Von Doom and I do have a doctorate. Several, in fact."

"So you keep reminding me."

Victor didn't bother to dignify that with a response. They both knew the repeated reminders were only ever prompted by Johnny's comments.

"So," Jonathan said, his tone shifting away from the playful mockery. "This thing's the real deal?"

Victor nodded. "By all calculations, yes. It's the real deal."

The two young men sat aboard a state-of-the-art hovercraft designed by Victor. Hemispherical in shape and measuring nearly eighteen meters in diameter from bow to stern, the vehicle was the trademark mode of transportation for the Doom Patrol. Designed to operate in most environments, over the years it has ferried the foursome from the depths of the ocean to the heights of the Himalayas and even the other dimension of the Negative Zone. Today, it carried the pair of Doom and Storm out of the stratosphere and into the upper atmospheric layers of the planet.

For months Victor had been toiling away on this project. From the moment he and Reed Richards had devised the device responsible for their initial discovery and voyage into the Negative Zone, Victor had dreamed of the potential. Two years after their maiden voyage into the N-Zone and the subsequent incident, he had perfected the dimensional rift machine and incorporated it into the design of his hovercraft allowing him to enter into said Zone at will via the flying vehicle. A year later, he had tweaked the device to expand its capabilities and enable travel to a host of different dimensions, including the mythical Avalon. Since then, he had been theorizing how to utilize the N-Drive, as he called it, to reach the so-called 'final frontier.'

It had been Susan's idea for him to bring Johnny along on this trip. Some 'family bonding time' as she had called it. Not that the two men didn't see much of each other - not only did they adventure with the rest of the group constantly, but both had lived in the same building since they were teenagers. Still, while they were far from strangers, the pair had never been as close to one another as they were with other members of the Patrol. With nuptials pending, Sue Storm no doubt intended to change that.

A blinking green light on the dashboard signaled the duo had arrived at their designated location. Victor reached towards the lever on his right and throttled it back down. The craft slowed before eventually settling in place more than 300 miles above the surface of Earth. Here among the thermosphere, above even the International Space Station, Victor could put his calculations to the ultimate test.

"You know, Vic," Johnny said, leaning forward to peer through the panoramic view displaying the black expanse beyond and the blue marble beneath. "Sometimes your nerdy gizmos are pretty cool."

Jonathan's use of Victor's name in short-form made him frown momentarily. Yet another example of the former's jests.

"Sometimes?" Victor asked with a raised eyebrow.

"Yeah. Sometimes they blow up in our face. Literally," he answered.

"Let's hope, then," Victor said with a hint of a wry smile, "that this isn't one of those occasions. There's only an infinitesimal chance of catastrophic failure."

Johnny's eyes widened slightly and a shadow of panicked confusion passed over his features. "Wait, what?"

Victor's response was in the form of swiping his fingers across a series of buttons.

From the bottom hull of the hovercraft, out of view for both, a set of bay doors silently dropped open. From the opening, a series of spherical objects about a meter in diameter each were released into the void. Mere moments after passing the threshold of the bay doors the orbs rocketed out in a wide-spread arc as their built-in thrusters engaged.

From within the craft, Johnny could now see a dozen of the white spheres distancing themselves from one another and the vehicle itself. He leaned toward the viewport as they hurtled away and eventually out of sight. After nearly a minute of waiting, he sat back and cast a disappointed look at Victor.

"That's it? That's all we came up here for? To shoot some oversized baseballs into space?"

"Wait for it." Victor pointed a finger towards the viewport.

Another twenty or so seconds passed before Victor grinned. "Now.

Before he had even finished saying the word, the space in front of them exploded into color. Emanating from a dozen points, a series of burnt-orange glows brilliantly flashed as each of Victor's probes exited the upper limits of Earth's atmosphere nearly 6,000 miles away. Preset programming engaging their respective N-Drives as they reached deep space, forming a bubble of dimensional space around the spheres. The distant but bright sparks of energy remained above and ahead of them for several seconds before just as suddenly winking out of existence.

"I'm guessing that was more than just a few fancy fireworks," Johnny said in a tone that indicated he knew just what that display meant.

"I could rattle off an intense and highly technical explanation for you, Jonathan, but we both know what we just witnessed. History in the making."

The N-Drive had been modified and installed on each of a dozen probes. Once engaged, they would generate an isolated dimensional rift around the objects that allowed them to essentially defeat the rules of space-time. Shunting each sphere through the Negative Zone, where the flow of time was exponentially increased, the drives would carry the probes for what would amount to be hundreds of years worth of travel before re-emerging in real space after a dramatic fraction of time. And many lightyears away from their original departure point.

The nature of dimensional space was such that each overlapped one another in what was essentially an infinite layer. While each dimension remained physically separate from one another, unable to be interacted with through normal means, accessing an alternate dimension opened a host of possibilities. Victor had tapped into such a possibility by understanding that he could make use of the overlapped layers by shifting out of one dimension and into another then back again after a period of travel, appearing to near-instantaneously relocate from one point to another in the originating dimension. Thanks to the differential with time between his own dimension and the Negative Zone, this allowed for incredible leaps in distance.

Delayed teleportation without all of the nasty side effects of completely breaking down your atomic structure and reassembling it elsewhere.

A warp drive, as the Trek-loving Susan had taken to calling it in the early days of Victor's designs.

The first example of humankind developing interstellar travel, as far as Victor Von Doom was concerned.

The scientist once more flipped several switches and pulled back on the lever at his side. The hovercraft's engine kicked in as he brought it around in a half-circle. The viewport was filled with the image of a familiar blue planet.

A moment passed before Johnny broke the silence. "I'm glad that one didn't blow up on us."

Victor, soaring with elation, allowed himself to chuckle. "As am I."

"Well, guess it's time to head back home, then. If we hurry, I think I can still squeeze in a date with Kourtney tonight," Johnny added, referring to his on-and-off-again supermodel girlfriend.

"Apologies for putting a damper on your love life, Jonathan, but we're not returning quite yet." Victor stepped away from his seat and walked out of the cockpit into the room beyond.

Johnny twisted around to watch Victor depart. "Try to sound a little less creepy when you say that, Vic."

A long, quiet minute passed without Victor returning.

"Uh... Victor?" He called out. "This is the opposite of less creepy, man."

It was another few seconds before Victor answered. Rounding the corner into the cockpit he said, "Susan requested that you and I spend some time together, so I brought these along should the day prove successful."

In his right hand was a six-pack of beer. In his left a simple wooden box barely larger than his palm.

As Victor removed a bottle from the case and handed it to Jonathan, the latter questioned, "and if your test didn't succeed?"

"Then I suppose we would still be drinking; albeit with a more depressive atmosphere."

Reclining in his pilot's chair, Victor popped the cap off of his beer and took a long sip.

"So..." Johnny let the word linger for a moment. "What did Sue expect us to talk about here, exactly?"

"I am sure we'll think of something, Jonathan." Victor flipped open the small container he had carried over and pulled out two items, offering one to his companion.

Johnny raised a brow as his eyes settled on the cigar between Victor's fingers. He had never known the man to smoke and had rarely even witnessed him partake in alcohol. Today, Johnny found, was full of wonders small and large.

Then Victor uttered three words that caught him off guard. Jonathan Storm grinned as the man he had always found to be too serious made him nearly choke on his beer with such a simple phrase.

"Got a light?"
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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Bork Lazer
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Bork Lazer Chomping Time

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The first thing he smells is the damp air, flecked with sea salt. No, not here, not again. Standing on the ports of Paris Island. Two words being repeated at him over and over against the backdrop of a stolen generation chanting on the beach.

“ Shoot him!”

It’s not the sight of blood that scares Virgil. Violence is a constant of Dakota that you have to get used to. That’s what everyone, from his neighbours to his math teachers to the old janitor who used to clean his locker every afternoon, tells him. He doesn’t agree.

The gun trembles in his hand. He’s not scared of the blood.

It’s how easy it is to use it. The lack of effort. That all it takes is a squeeze of a trigger to kill. The mechanical nature of it which makes him queasy.

“ Shoot him, Virgil!”

“ I can’t.” He drops the gun, tossing it away. “ I can’t.” He keeps saying it until his throat grows hoarse.

Chaos suddenly erupts around him. The sound of the gun is distinct above the rage of 250 high schoolers. They parts like a panicked herd of animals, the choppy beat of helicopter blades above cawing like ravens. All Virgil can do is choke on the fog and fall deep into the cold water. He is burning and one question comes to his mind.

How did it all go wrong so fast?





The sound of swearing and a fist clanging wildly against metal awoke Virgil from his daydream. He lifted his head up from his crossed arms that were laid on the bar.

“ KZZZZTTTT - well, that’s what I’m tellin’ ya, Rubberband. It’s crazy how shit turned sideways this week. They’re already blockading the I-80 to Dakota ‘cause of this shit at Paris Island - KZZZZZZZZTTTTTTT”

Dakota City was entering the cusp of winter now, windows frosted white and the sky tinged a dour grey. He’d been patrolling non-step for several hours along Hemingway’s Port Trail before taking a turn on 42nd Malcolm to recharge at Grant’s.

Grant’s was one of Dakota City’s beating hearts. Its weathered brick walls, amber windows and marbled floors were ossified into the urban concrete of the city like fossils. Virgil still found it hard to believe that Morrison Grant had turned 84 years old last week. He looked barely a day past 50. Every time he went into the diner before the Paris Island incident, Grant was always there, serving coffee, his signature griddle cakes and overeasies.

It was now disturbingly empty on a Monday afternoon where at least half of the tables would be filled and a line of hungry customers would be waiting outside. Dust sat on the linoleum seats. Ceiling fans chattered. Now, it was only him and Grant.

“ You alright there, son?” The diner owner stopped wiping a dish and looked at him with slight concern “ It’s not wise to come out all this way, Kilowatt Kid, especially now that DCPD’s keeping an eye out for you. ”

“What and miss the chance to meet my biggest fans?” Virgil groused sarcastically before taking a sip of his latte. The familiar rush of caffeine tingles through his fingertips. Absorbing juice from a generator couldn’t beat the taste of Grant’s black brews. Out of the corner of his eye, he notices a document left on top of the cafe counter while Grant has his back turned to him, rifling for something in the cupboard. He leans over to look at it. He makes out two words - Eviction - and - Warning - before a leathery hand snatched it away from his prying eyes.

“ What was that?”

“ Nothing you need to concern yourself with, son.” The old man signed as Virgil gave him a glare of disbelief. “ You don’t need to fight every battle, son. There’s some things you can’t put in cuffs.”

“ You’re not closing down, are y-?”

“ Relax, son. It hasn’t come to that yet.” Grant chuckled before frowning. “ But, with the rates the city council’s been pushing, I’ve been diving into my retirement savings to stick around.” He looked wistfully at the old grandfather clock that sat in the corner of the restaurant and gave a little laugh. “ I’ve been living on borrowed time anyway. Everyone I knew moved out of this neighborhood and every customer I wave to and smile at is a stranger to me.” His grip on the dish towel grows tighter and Virgil sees his eyes almost become hollow. “ I gave Dakota everything I had, yet, this is how I get repaid.”

His dark expression washes away in a moment’s notice, replaced with a worn smile. “ That’s enough from me. You want a refill?”

“ Nah, man.” Virgil shook his head. “ Just give me a mocha to go - ”

The front door banged open, the bell knocked off its hinge as Virgil heard the click of receivers. Dumbass 1, 2 and 3 had decided to ruin his afternoon break by robbing a nearly empty cafe. Great. The ski masks were fitted loosely over their heads. Hell, the one standing to the right had decided his get up wasn’t intimidating enough and decided to wear a pair of bright neon scuba goggles to complete the ensemble. The one in the front of the trio waved his pistol in the air like a conductor's baton.

“ Everyone, get your wallets - “ He choked on his last words as he looked wide-eyed at Grant and Virgil who were staring daggers at him. His feet began straying backwards, stumbling slightly, as the fluorescent lights quavered above him. “ I’ll just - uh - well -”

“ How long will it take?” Virgil asked Grant calmly.

“ About two to three minutes.” Grant spoke nonchalantly. “ Don’t make too much of a mess.”

Virgil slipped off the counter stool and let a spark lazily click between his fingers. The robbers looked between themselves, holding onto their guns like life buoys, unsure of what to do next.

“ So……...” Virgil slowly drawled. “ Which one of you wants to pay for my coffee?”
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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Hillan
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Hillan I'm a writer - Lying's what we do.

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The Fateful Night in Detroit, because like everything of this nature, it was destined to go down in that Michigan Metropol. The man in black riding his motorcycle, dug up from his grave, a grave that had been empty long before he came there with lantern and shovel. His name was Johnny Blaze, but people these days only knew him as The Rider. Sitting on top of his father's old 1993 Harley Davidson, the bike he infused with the power of Vengeance so long ago. The wheels that tarnished the streets of America with hellfire and spread terror to the things that go bump in the night.

That bike is perhaps the only thing left to remind Johnny of who he was before he was the rider. When he was just a man. A man with a life, adopted into a loving family, spent his life as a performer and fell in love with a girl he had loved his entire life up until that point when they were seventeen. He was a daredevil, a defier of gravity and scared of nothing. Not of flaming rings or rows of buses. He knew his grit and his bike would carry him through it.

Those seconds he was in the air, the roar of the engine as he let go of the gas, the purr of his motorcycle. He felt immortal. And being able to feel that way again, after all those years in the pit? He almost couldn't believe it. He'd be happy, euphoric, even. If that was something he could still feel.

The freeway was empty. It was after all two in the morning. It was off the main road, but Mr. Blaze was hunting his target. And the White SUV with the tinted windows was coming up. They were pulling up onto the overpass, overshadowing the now closed down dive bars of Detroit, bars Johnny had once frequented. Health violations, he would've guessed. He grabbed the chain of Zarthal, demon of the north gate, from it's place wrapped around his shoulder and torso. Un-coiling it from himself with the grace of a olympic gymnast.

Sure, he lacked the magic to do any of the fancyness the chain could do. He couldn't make it burn, and he couldn't change it's shape anymore.

But what could he do with the indestructible metal rope?

Hit the back axle of the SUV. That's what he could do. He threw the chain, coiling around the axle, Coiling the end in his hand around the center part of his handlebar. With his left hand, he pushed the brakes. Forcing his motorcycle to halt, pulling on the chain, and as he started tipping forward, he put his weight on the back of his bike, forcing it back down to the ground after the chain went taunt, the car gave weight, breaking the back left wheel off. Johnny pulled the chain back, coiling it around his right arm as he pulled up alongside the now skidding car, coming to a halt from it's maimed journey.

He removed his black helmet, dismounting the bike. He tossed the helmet on the ground as the front door opened. From his left hip with his left arm, he pulled a revolver loaded with iron bullets blessed by a virgin. The first guard poked his head out, machine gun in hand. Johnny fired his first shot, hitting the guard straight in the head. His head didn't bleed, the bullet lodged in his skull, paralyzing him.

Johnny Fanned the hammer on the revolver as the other two doors opened firing through the car, hitting the guy in the passenger seat in each shoulder, the door closest to him swung open, he took a step backwards to avoid the door, but the possessed man inside lunged at him, Johnny took another step backwards to avoid getting knocked down, shoving his revolver under the man's chin and firing the bullet, seeing it getting lodged inside of his head, it shut him down completely with a spark.

"Come out here, Pride!" He shouted. "Your goons are down! I've come for you!" The rider yelled, the entire car shifted as the second backdoor opened, and Pride, wearing his 6'8 Mexican Cartel Boss- Meat Suit, smirked.
"Well well well. If it isn't little Johnny. Come here to play with the big boys, huh? Follows us out of hell? Came back to get a taste of the good life, ay?"

"There will be no life left for you after tonight, Pride. And after you, I'm killing your siblings."

"My my my, little Johnny's all full of himself. You're really gonna take us all down, all by yourself? Driving your dad's bike, using an old Rider's gun? C'mon. You think I don't know that revolver's the one, what, Hellbilly, used? What a stupid-ass name. You can't kill demons with it. Your blessed iron doesn't do anything but put my boys under for a bit. They'll recover, and it'll do nothi-" He was cut off by Johnny firing four shots into him, hitting his stomach, his chest and his forehead, throwing his head back, and making him take three steps backwards, leaning against the highway wall.

"Nothing but tickle me." He said, the bullets popping out of him as the impact-wound in his forehead immediately closed. A sadistic smile curling on his lips as he walked towards Johnny who was largely unphased, if only angrier by the futility of his firearm. His face was covered in darkness as the singular horn grew out of his left side of the face, his skin turning dark red and claws sprouting on his hands and he grew a half a feet and about doubled in muscle mass.
"You aren't surprised by my true form, Rider?" He asked, mockingly. His voice having a much deeper boom to it as Johnny simply shook his head.

"You aren't the first demon-son-of-a-bitch I've killed. I've waded in the blood of your kind, Pride. And you won't be the last." He holstered his revolver and drew his shotgun. Pride could smell the ammunition and knew he couldn't well, be prideful this time. This wasn't virgin-blessed iron.

He dashed, slicing at Johnny, who had to move backwards, his sawed off shotgun coming up into firing-height as Pride tackled him, the shot going off, but missing by half an inch. The buckshot hit the pavement, exploding into small burning bits of gunpowder.

"Where the hell did you get hellfire from?!" He shouted and Johnny simply smirked. "It's not the only trick up my sleeve." Pride slashed at him, Johnny drew the knife from his back, hitting Pride in his palm, the blade cut him with a bright light, Pride let out a painful groan at the presence of a blade powerful enough to harm him. While Pain was recoiling from the counter-attack, Johnny holstered the shotgun again, saving his remaining shot.

"You insect! A shard of Michael's sword, in your possession?!" He yelled, his voice exploding the windows on the SUV he had been riding in before. Completely stunned to learn that Johnny posessed one of the pieces of the now broken blade, that the Archangel had used to defeat his younger brother.
"A going away present from Hell. Mephisto called it my 500-year gold watch." Johnny goaded, twirling the blade in his hand.
"Heh. You think fighting for 500 years in the pit makes you special, boy?" Pride was getting more composed, less angry about the weaponry Johnny brought. He dashed forward, faster than Johnny could react, the man swiped at him with the knife, but Pride avoided it, jumping in a semi-circle around him, slashing Johnny in the side, a grazing wound. He kicked off again, his knee hitting Johnny in the stomach, while Johnny got to cut him in the arm with the knife, a shallow cut, but still one that pissed the demon off.

He clawed Johnny in the face, he slashed the demon's leg. Getting some distance between the far faster, stronger and more durable foe, Johnny realized he was losing a lot of blood. His leather jacket was soaked in it, in fact. The claw wound wasn't so shallow, after all. He had to end this, quick, or he was doomed. Something else caught his attention, too. The sound of engines in the distance. Motorcycles, getting closer.

"Oh. Look. It's my cavalry." Pride grinned, and Johnny finally showed another emotion than anger and confidence, he was actually concerned. "Ah, there we go. A crack in that armor of your, Johnny Blaze." Pride got ready to attack again, Johnny twirled the shining silver blade in his hand as Pride shared him, twirling it upside down and throwing it at the demon, aiming for his heart.

Like a bolt of lightning, the dagger soared through the air, piercing the demon in the chest.

He cried out in anger and pain, cursing the rider in his ancient tongue. Johnny had a smile on his lips, sure of his victory. But the demon didn't give in. His hand gripped the handle of the blade, pulling the blade out, as his hand and the wound both started burning from being in the presence of the divine blade. He threw the bloodied blade to the ground, his demonic blood lighting the ground on fire as the metal clinked to the floor. Johnny reached for his gun, but as he did, Pride was already upon him, unleashing a flurry of blows tearing him to shreds.

Cutting him up, breaking his arm, scratching him across the face again, putting Johnny on the ground with his boot-clad foot onto his chest, breaking his ribs. Johnny cried out in pain, but nobody was there to help him. The five bikes stopped beside them, and Pain motioned for the other demonic spawn to stay back. This one was his.

After breaking the last of his ribs, Pain grabbed Johnny by the neck and dangled him off the railing, below was a 20 meter drop. He was gonna choke the life out of him, and then drop him for good measure.

"You know what they say, Blaze. Pride cometh before the fall."

As Pride applied more pressure to Johnny's throat, the man's hand grabbed the shotgun and jerked it to the demon's face.
Uttering two most profound words in all of human language. Something not even the destruction of Babel could take away from us.

"Fuck. You." Johnny spat at Pride, who barely managed to parry with his arm as he pulled the trigger, unleashing the second shot of hellfire-loaded shotgun shell onto the demon, a loud explosion covered the two and Pride's grip on Johnny was loosened, he careened to the ground. A man beaten and broken, fire from his gun coming off him in ironic symbolism.
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Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by Bounce
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| R O C K O F E T E R N I T Y

An arc of lightning traveled through the air. Splitting apart, the spark seemed to blossom into a column of light, which then faded into a roughly humanoid shape.

From out of the light, the equine alien emerged. Kymellians stood upright, with a humanoid frame that included standing upright on powerful legs with a reversed knee joint and large, hooved feet. His head was shaped like that of a horse, or a pony in his case, as Kofi was not yet full grown.

The young Kymellian was still attired in the blue costume with the golden lightning bolt and flowing red cape. In mid-stride, a bolt of lightning struck, reverting the alien child back into his normal clothing. It was similar to a sleeveless tunic or toga, leaving his arms bare, even as it dressed his torso in a shimmery, cloth-metal fabric that was unlike any substance found on Earth.

Glancing up, toward the throne at the top of the Rock of Eternity, the horse-like youth saw the raven haired human child seated there. Billy Batson was seated sideways, across the throne, with his chin clasped in one hand, and his gaze distant, staring off into a magical projection of the planet Earth, with any number of scenes playing out in bubble-like windows orbiting the illusion.

It seemed a lonely vigil. But also, perhaps, a fruitless one.

Kymellia had largely eliminated crime through education and social enrichment programs that had become integrated into their culture as they had advanced technologically over generations. Humanity, on the other hand, still managed a global average of 490,000 homicides a year, in addition to a litany of other crimes. Human trafficking, the sale of other human beings, remained a concern, as did illicit narcotics and piracy.

No matter how powerful any one individual might be, hero or not, those were larger social issues than any single person would be able to solve for the planet.

All Shazam could do is watch.

Kofi imagined that kind of vigil could take a toll on a person. “Have you even started on your homework?” the Kymellian asked, even as he rounded around to one side of the rotating globe.

Reaching up a hand, the horse-like youth expanded one of the balloon like visuals. Blood diamonds in Africa. Aptly named.

If they intervened there, then what about the ship that was capsizing off the coast of Jamaica? Or the earthquake happening in India?

They were forbidden from interfering with time. The possibility of igniting multiple parallel realities was replete with danger. It made it to where the moment and time of their intervention was paramount, because even Shazam could only be in one place at one time. “I can let you copy my math, but you’re on your own for the book report,” Kofi noted, dismissing the tragedy that was happening in the African continent for the time being and instead returning his attention to the boy on the throne.

Billy still hadn’t so much as acknowledged that he was here.

Arm outstretched, Kofi changed the topic. “I contacted the Technomancy. My people are handling Skratt and his crew. They’ll make sure to turn them over to the Zn’rx unharmed, but I think they’ll think twice before visiting your planet again.”

Had Billy even blinked? The human child just lay across the chair, brooding as he seemed to bore holes through the illusion of the globe with an icy glare.

HEY!

Kofi surprised himself, the snap more forceful than he’d intended. Yet, it seemed to have worked. Billy’s gaze flickered, moving from the planet hovering there in the midst of the Rock of Eternity to, at last, look down at the Kymellian.

“It is difficult to have a conversation when only person is talking,” Kofi noted simply.

Billy’s hand fell away from his face. The boy shifted his body so that he was seated upright, leaning forward with his arms resting on his thighs. “Why didn’t we do something?”

If the Kymellian seemed confused, then the reaction was genuine. “We did do something, Billy Batson,” the boy responded in a matter-of-fact tone. “And two people are ali...”

“We both saw Courtney in the school yard,” Billy stated, interrupting.

Kofi paused. For a moment, the reference almost slipped by him. Then he recalled. It had been an anomalous energy that the two had associated with Courntey as she had passed them. “We didn’t know what we were seeing,” the Kymellian answered. Which, was still the case now and seemed, in his mind at least, not associated with the Zn’rx incident. Had that energy been Zn’rx in nature, then Kofi would have recognized it. “It was not logical...”

Logic?

As soon as Billy had echoed back the word, Kofi realized that he’d made a mistake. A roar of thunder caused the temple to tremble as if in the grips of an earthquake, as Billy’s voice boomed from all directions.

A BOY IS DEAD BECAUSE WE COULDN’T BE BOTHERED.


Kofi winced in pain from the sound, even as he kept his footing. “You are having an emotional response,” the Kymellian snapped, chastising the sorcerer before him. “The knowledge you possess now informs a piece of information which you lacked in that moment in the past.” It was regret. A primitive emotion informed by hindsight and fueled by misplaced anger.

Any logical ought to have been able to rationalize their feelings.

However, Kofi had found humanity less than rational.

As though confirming that assessment, he found a rather shocking amount of venom in Billy’s tone as the boy spat back, “I suppose a guilt complex is also logical, is that it?”

Frustration was also an emotion. Once which Kofi found himself struggling with. Particularly since arriving here as Billy’s understudy. Burying his face in his hands, the Kymellian let his fingers run through his mane before he blurted out, “I do not understand how your species has managed to not destroy itself with these emotional outbursts!”

Turning, the horse-faced youth put his back toward Billy. “I came to inform you that the Zn’rx had been handled. I have done so.”

With that, Kofi walked away and prepared to take his leave. A magic circle formed at the boy’s fingertips, as he prepared to teleport away. Then, pausing a moment, looked back to ask, “I will see you at school tomorrow?”

Billy didn’t answer.

A pregnant pause lingered in the air, after which Kofi gave a sigh and raised the teleportation spell.

“Did the Zn’rx say why they were here?”

Kofi grimaced. Tempted to ignore the question and teleport away, as Billy had treated him in like fashion. However, the youth finally dispelled the runic circle and turned around to talk across the throne room at the boy seated there as Shazam. “Merely that they were attempting to recover something. Which I presume was a false pretext.”

Billy seemed to mull over that information, then gave the Kymellian a simple nod of acknowledgement.

Kofi gave a heavy sigh. “Good night, Billy Batson.”

“Good night,” Billy whispered in reply, dully watching as the Kymellian boy vanished into a column of light, which then zipped away as an arc of lightning.

After the Kymellian had departed, Billy stood up. A runic circle formed at his fingertips. As he stepped down from the throne, the illusionary Earth seemed to expand outward. By the time Billy had stepped off the steps of the dais, it was as though he were walking through the hallways of the Fawcett City General Hospital. Doctors, nurses, and patients mulled about, as the boy peered in on Courtney.

A woman -- her mother? -- was sobbing as she hugged the girl.

A wave of Billy’s hand, and the building seemed to morph around him until he was standing in the morgue.

The man that had been with Courtney -- her father? -- had his head in his hands, a clipboard and paperwork in his lap, as he sat out in a hallway outside the cooler.

The man’s answer to Billy continued to echo in the boy’s mind.

I’m aware.

With a wave of his hand, Billy dispelled all the illusion. Save for the clipboard and the paperwork that had been in the man’s lap.

His name wasn’t Whitmore. It was Dugan.

Pat Dugan.

“Who are you, sir,”the boy asked quietly, as the clipboard faded from out of his hands.

And what did he have that the Zn’rx wanted?
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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Retired
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Retired "Hayao Miyazaki"

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D O O M P A T R O L



The Future Foundation was home to many students. Children as young as ten were hosted at the Baxter Building, though the majority were teenagers by the time they were recruited and accepted. Brilliant young people with exceptional gifts of mind and imagination who the Foundation believed were the future of America and the world at large.

Most of the students called the Baxter Building home, its extensive dorms currently housing nearly one hundred youths, with only a small handful deciding to commute daily. While most outsiders viewed the Foundation as a place for young scientists, having been featured in the news countless times in recent years for various technological and medical innovations, the truth of the matter was that students across the academic spectrum were admitted. The founders, doctors Franklin Storm and Niles Caulder, had spent the last two decades of the Foundation's existence eagerly seeking out freethinkers of all kinds. For every Victor Von Doom and Reed Richards, two of the most brilliant, scientific young minds to ever pass through the Baxter Building's doors, there was a Rita Farr or an Alicia Masters.

Rita Farr had come to the Baxter Building four years ago at the age of fifteen after a video of her performing a one-woman play for her local school talent show went viral. Rita, born a metahuman with the natural ability to expand, shrink, and reshape her body, and ever the one to seek out the limelight, had decided to out her mutant nature in spectacular fashion by altering her physical appearance dramatically to play every role. Her high school was the center of controversy for days afterward as the young girl was expelled, protests forming around the country in solidarity with Rita. Niles Caulder, recognizing brilliance, recruited Rita to the Foundation shortly thereafter. In the years since, Rita's creativity was fostered and grown, and now the young woman boasted over eighty million subscribers on YouTube where her short skits and dramatic reenactments earned her countless praise.

When she was twelve, Alicia Masters lost both her vision and her mother in an unfortunate accident. Her step-father, Phillip Masters, already a teacher at the Future Foundation, pushed for his step-daughter's admittance after the incident so he could keep a closer eye on her. Niles Caulder, seeing the potential in the young girl and understanding that adversity often inspires exceptionalism, agreed to accept her into the program. His theory was proven true as Alicia used art to cope with her blindness and, by the age of fourteen, made headlines for her realistic sculptures. Despite still being so young, she is currently heralded as one of the leaders of neo-realism, with her depiction of the Justice League freeing Earth from the enslavement of Starro being regarded as a modern masterpiece.

Despite the Baxter Building housing academics of widely different fields, the students are not separated into scientific and artistic groups, even sharing certain courses. Steve Dayton, inventor and novelist, was one such professor at the Foundation responsible for teaching several of these joined classes. The epitome of the bumbling professor, Dayton was absentminded and timid with a penchant for allowing his students to act out. His classes, while certainly educational, were not what anyone would describe as 'orderly.'

A fact that Julie Power had come to hate.

The strawberry blonde fourteen-year-old sat at her desk, head buried in her notebook, furiously scribbling down notes from Professor Dayton's lecture. Her face was scrunched up in concentration as she fought to ignore the distracting sounds of her fellow students, as well as make sense of the ramblings her literature teacher espoused.

Julie Power, and her older brother Alex, had come to the Future Foundation just eight months previously. Both had been accepted based on their academic merits and scientific minds, though neither had received the same recognition as their peers as of yet. Julie had found acclimating to the setting of the Baxter Building challenging. Intimidating, even.

And the chaos of Professor Dayton's classes didn't help her in that regard.

Tap. Tap tap tap. Tap tap.

"Uh, so, class, if you could take out your tablets, and, uh, open the assignments I sent to you yesterday, um..."

Tap tap. Tap. Tap.

"Mister Dayton, I don't feel so well," a voice called from the back of the room.

Tap. Tap tap. Tap.

Julie's head snapped up and she shot a glare across the aisle at Jane Morris who was in the process of using her pencil as a drumstick. The older girl with her tangled black hair and permanent indifference was the bane of Julie's existence. Or so it had felt these last few months. Not only did they share this class, as well as several others, during which it seemed like Jane did her all to drive Julie mad, but the pair were roommates. Jane's hair wasn't the only thing messy about her, and it was all Julie could do to maintain her composure at times.

Tap. Tap. Tap tap. Tap.

Having grown up with three siblings, Julie had expected to be able to handle the noise.

"Mister Dayton! I really don't feel good!"

Tap tap. Tap tap. Tap tap tap.

Her expectations had proven incorrect.

"Can you stop, please?" The words softly passed from Julie's lips and were immediately drowned out.

Tap tap. Tap. Tap tap. Tap.

"Jane, will you quit it?" She said louder this time. "I can't hear the professor's lesson."

Jane kept drumming her pencil against the table but turned to face her roommate. "What? Speak up, Lightspeed."

Lightspeed. The nickname Jane and the other teens had taken to calling Julie due to how quickly the latter got her assignments finished. She knew it had begun in a teasing way, but truth be told Julie enjoyed the nickname. It made her feel special in a building full of exceptional people. Except for when Jane said it, then it felt dismissive in a way only she could achieve. Not that Julie felt her roommate was intending to be hurtful, it was just how naturally indifferent the dark-haired girl always sounded - like you didn't matter one way or the other.

Julie repeated herself, voice raised slightly, "I can't hear the lesson. Can you stop tapping?"

She could barely hear herself over the noise of the other two dozen students.

"I... I don't... I feel..."

The student from earlier was shouting now, making Julie cringe at the additional ruckus. She was sure it was Bentley Wittmann now. Nearly two years younger than her, Bentley was the definition of a child prodigy. He was also socially awkward and about as quiet as Julie on most days. She didn't know what, exactly, his issue was at the moment, but she wished he'd just return to his normally silent self.

Jane chewed her bottom lip, regarding Julie for a moment, her pencil wavering an inch above the surface of her desk. Then, decision made, she let the pencil drop from between her fingers.

Just as Julie was preparing to thank the other girl, the room exploded in a series of screams.

"Professor!"

"Oh my god!"

"Oh, shit!"

The shouts and curses and screams were joined by the sound of vomiting.

Julie spun around to see what had happened.

I guess he really wasn't feeling well, she thought, expecting to see a sickened Bentley heaving at his corner desk.

The screaming continued, though. And Bentley was nowhere in sight.

A group of five students was gathered around Bentley's desk. A pile of puke coated the spot where Bentley had been sitting just moments ago. The students' faces were a mask of disgust and confusion, and one was wiping away traces of vomit from the corner of his lips.

One of them, a young girl who sat beside Bentley, and who had been screaming nonstop, collapsed out of her chair as she scrambled away. This gave Julie a better view of the commotion. She squinted, unsure of what she was seeing, and rose out of her seat to take a few steps closer.

She could see now that it wasn't vomit coating Bentley's chair. It was goo. Or a puddle of some pinkish-white liquid slop. It looked thick and coagulated, with tiny strands hanging loosely over the seat's edge. And amidst the goopy pile was a t-shirt, shorts, and other clothing.

What...

Professor Dayton eased past her now, gingerly nudging her to the side so he could walk through the gathered students. It had taken him a moment, even with the screaming, to stop his lecture and come forward. He cleared his throat as he neared the group.

"What, uh, what seems to be the issue here?" He said in his typical wavering voice.

The girl who had fallen out of her seat was crying hysterically now, the last of her screams fading away. The older boy who had thrown up spun around and retched again.

"Professor, it's Bentley! He..." One of the other girls tried to explain but her voice trailed off as she watched her teacher absentmindedly reach into the goop and pluck out a pair of glasses. Then, she too vomited.

"Hm. Curious." Dayton murmured, holding the glasses up towards his face. "Where, uh, did Bentley go?"

The first girl answered him. "T-that... is... Bentley," she managed to say between heavy sobs, "he... j-just... melted!"

A long moment passed before anyone spoke again, students and teacher alike processing that information, and Julie realized that for the first time in memory Professor Dayton's class was finally quiet.
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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Mao Mao
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Mao Mao Sheriff of Pure Hearts (They/Them)

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In collabation with @Zoey Boey


BLACK PANTHER
ARRIVAL
THE HIDDEN PARADISE // 01.05.00

Royal Palace of Wakanda // Birnin Zana
The Taifa Ngao called for an emergency meeting minutes after T’Challa’s announcement to address the historical moment. It lasted for two entire days before the council had a solid plan, which was to condemn the king’s decision to reveal Wakanda’s true existence to the outsiders. Surprisingly, the vote was nearly split in half along the members. Some felt that the time of hiding was over when Ulysses and his private army invaded the country. Others were still standing by tradition and believed that the world would turn against them. It was the fourth time that the council vote was divided in Wakandan history.

Then, to the surprise of everyone, T’Challa entered the chambers dressed for the occasion. “It’s great to see everyone working hard during these uncertain times, but we will not need the drums of war.”

Amara Azikiwe, the opposition's unofficial leader, spoke up to the king while attempting to remain respectful. “My king, It saddens me that you haven’t reconsider your unorthodox decision. I hope you’re here to hear us out.”

“In all honesty, I am not here to listen to you but to invite everyone to greet the outsiders with me. And, if you wish to attend with us for the day.”

“You already know our answer.” Amara responded with some bite in her words. “We are not going to allow you to commit to this blasphemy on our history!”

"Then, get out of my way or, if you still wish, come with me. Either way, you don't have a choice." T’Challa's intimidation was a surprise even to his diehard supporters. Then, his wrist bead lit up and left the chambers without saying anything else. He saw the message left behind by Okoye, which contained a report written by one of her warriors. It was too long to read the whole thing, but he briefly skimmed through it to get an idea of what to expect. That was when he read up the brief inspection on one of the security members: Natasha Romanoff.


Wakandan Airport // Birnin Zana
On the tarmac, King T’Challa, along with Shuri, Okoye, and N'Yami, waited for the plane to appear from the horizon and land. Unfortunately, T'Chaka declined to meet the outsiders when they exit the plane but had plans to attend the dinner. Taifa Ngao boycotted the entire event in protest of the king's judgment. He had hoped that some of them would've come, but it was impossible with Amara taking charge of the other councilors. The plane finally showed itself and headed for the tarmac. So, everyone got ready with Okoye ensuring that security was prepared for the worst.

The plane landed, and its security team left first before letting the outside exit.

Black Widow was the first to leave, followed by US Agent. She walked down the stairs of the plane and then went to the left. She inhaled the fresh air, and gave their welcoming committee a once over. All royally dressed, with formal, beautiful designs of various colors and silhouettes. She held her right wrist in her left hand and stood at attention. Walker followed after her and stood to the left of the staircase. He raised his elbows and twisted his back, and a faint popping sounds could be hurt. “Ugh…” He groaned.

Natasha hummed. ”Classy.”

A few moments later, the Ambassador descended. He spotted the Wakanda diplomats and smiled, waving, before adjusting his tie and hair once again. Once he was on the ground he glanced at the two superheroes that were in charge of protecting him. Exhaling, he glanced over at Natasha. She nodded. With that, the UN team began to walk forward to meet the King of Wakanda. As he neared them, he hesitated a moment before bowing.

Okoye gave the outsider a confused look while Shuri nearly broke down laughing before her mother whispered to her to stop. T’Challa awkwardly smiled and addressed him. “You don’t need to do that.”

Aiden’s face lit up with embarrassment and began to rub his neck. “Sorry about that.”

T’Challa nodded and then turned towards the group. “Welcome to Golden City, the real capital of Wakanda. I am happy to show you and your leaders what Wakanda has to offer to the world with a tour of our design sector. Hopefully, my sister is able to showcase everything before dinner. For now, though, General Okoye will escort everyone to the rooms. Until we meet again.”

Okoye stepped forth while the royal family left the tarmac with some of the security team. She examined the outsiders before speaking. “While my sisters and I are protecting your lives, know that we won’t tolerate any… ‘bullshit’ as you outsiders say. That means, upon arriving at the rooms, the security teams must submit their weapons to us. You will get them back before leaving.”

She made sure to stare directly at Natasha before finishing up. “If you lie or try to go behind our backs, we won’t hesitate to respond accordingly. Understand?”

Natasha was stood up straight, her hands held in front of her. She nodded solemnly. ”Of course. I wouldn’t have it any other way.” She responded. The King confirmed that the Golden City was the true capital. This was truly a momentous occasion- a lucky break that she got to participate in it. Hopefully she didn’t ruin it by getting caught poking around. Okoye seemed to have a good bullshit detector, so she would have to be careful around that one. As powerful and as refined as the Wakandans were, however, they didn’t have the experience of the international, backstabbing savagery of the Cold War and beyond. Natasha was confident she could outwit them, if it came down to it.

The King, T’Challa himself, seemed nice enough, but it could easily be a political front. He did actually meet them on the tarmac, and his outfit was formal but not exorbitant. Many powerful monarchs wanted everyone to know how rich they were by decking themselves out in all sorts of jewelry and fancy cars. Between him and General Okoye’s no-nonsense demeanor, she already had a positive first impression of Wakanda.

”After you, ma’am.” Natasha deferred to the General politely.

Okoye and her security team began escorting the outsiders to the royal palace by using a self-driving bus, which was big enough to fit everyone. When everyone was on board, the bus began driving towards its destination. Unlike other places, there wasn’t any traffic blocking the road for miles and miles. In fact, people were walking on them or using self-driving transports instead of using cars. It was an eco-city without any restraints from bureaucracy and capitalism came to reality.

Eco urban architecture was also realized with the local ecosystem coexisting with the population and structures. After five minutes, the bus made its way to the royal palace after a security check at the entrance. Okoye escorted the outsiders to the guest quarters and asked their security to surrender their weapons. After that, the security team dismissed themselves and left the outsiders alone.


Guest Quarters // Royal Palace of Wakanda
Aiden set down his suitcase and took a moment to stare at the window, overlooking the city. He was amazed by everything that he witnessed so far. There wasn’t anything like Golden City in the world. And there was more to be revealed by the king. So, he needed to seek out the other ambassadors to discuss… everything. The ambassador got the attention of his security. “I have some matters to take care of with our allies. There is so much to talk about after all especially… this.”

“You guys should take a moment to enjoy the view.” Aiden left the room, leaving both John and Natasha alone.

The redhead nodded at Aiden. Natasha, her frame less bulked up with her various weapons, walked up to the window and learned her arm against it, and her forehead against her arm. She took in the sights and sounds of the city. It truly was a modern marvel. Though she hadn’t seen much of it yet, right now it looked to be one of if not the greatest city in the world.

”Amazing, isn’t it?” She asked Walker. John was sitting on the bed, rubbing the place where his deployable hard light shield used to be.

“...It’s okay, I guess.” He grumbled. Natasha chuckled. ”I see. Things not competitive enough for your taste?”

Walker shrugged. “I dunno. I feel like this city is looking down on me. Oh, look, I’m the Golden City, I’m sooo great.” He crossed his arms. Natasha nodded, raising an eyebrow. Perhaps she could see where he was coming from, though she didn’t quite agree.

“It’s not the rest of the world’s fault our civilizations didn’t start on a giant lump of vibranium.” He complained.

”I see.” She nodded solemnly. ”Well, their isolationist policies are beginning to come to an end. Maybe they’ll be sending foreign aid to various struggling countries.” She said.

“They better. We do, and we don’t have…” He trailed off.

”Magical plant skyscrapers.” She described them simply. He gestured at her pointedly.

“Lord, they’re gorgeous, aren’t they?” He shook his head, and she nodded in agreement.

“So….I guess we’re safe here. I don’t think the Wakandans are going to betray us.” He commented, rubbing his stubble. Natasha silently agreed.

”No, they won’t. I agree with you on that.” She looked back out the window. She turned her head over her shoulder and raised an eyebrow at him. It was a simple look, but one they both understood. Keep quiet. They might be listening. But yes, Walker, I am going to be poking around.

”You should catch up with the Ambassador.” Natasha said. Walker nodded. “See ya around. Test their tap water out.” He joked, and let the Black Widow alone.

“Why didn’t you follow him?” the voice of Kimoyo appeared out of nowhere, catching her off-guard. “Don’t you wish to explore the quarters?”

Natasha didn’t react externally, but she was surprised. She knew they were listening, but she didn’t think they would be watching. They tipped their hand too early, if one asked Natasha. She was hoping to be alone for a little bit.

”Well, Kimoyo, I’ve always been something of an introvert. Maybe I was just hoping for some alone time.” She said, some humor underlining her words. ”Can you see me right now?” She waved to the empty air. Her eyes scanned the room for cameras, or some kind of strange piece of vibranium technology.

“Yes, I see you waving at me.” Kimoyo answered in an almost annoyed tone. “And no, you won’t be able to find me so easy. But enough about me, I came to notify you that King T’Challa will be arriving in an hour for the tour.”

Natasha nodded. So, she was being watched...very, very closely. It would be difficult to get any spying done if there was an omni-present AI in the building. What and couldn’t it see? ”Well, I am looking forward to protecting the man that’s supposed to meet him.” She joked. ”Very well,” Natasha sighed. ”I suppose unless you’ve translated some of Wakanda’s most famous stories for us, I’ll take a look around.” With that, Natasha walked out of the room and followed after Walker. Her footsteps were purposefully louder than they could be- which was, of course, completely silent.

John immediately noticed what his partner was attempting to do and detoured to the nearest bathroom. He signaled for her to follow before entering it, noticing that no one else was there. But to be extra sure, he checked the stalls while waiting for Natasha to enter. When she did, he went over to the door and locked it so no one was able to walk up. Then, to make sure whoever was watching wasn’t able to listen, he went up to the sinks and turned all of them on. And after all of that, they were finally able to talk.

“Are you alright? What happened in the room?”

Natasha frowned at the display, wondering if it would really be enough to prevent the AI from listening in, or watching them right now. Kimoyo probably wasn’t the modest type. Still, it was old school from John, so she could appreciate the effort.

”Not much,” She said quietly. ”Except Kimoyo, the AI, is listening and watching us at all times.” She concluded, raising an eyebrow ominously. ”They want us to know this, no doubt. Still, if I was up to something, and I was in charge of Wakanda security, I would have kept this a secret. Just to see what I would do, if I was up to something.” She said, smirking. John would be able to tell she didn’t quite believe they were alone, even in this very clean gender-neutral bathroom.

“AI? Well, shit. With how much we have underestimated them in every aspect, no doubt they are the reason why I can’t contact Agent Ayers at all." John paced around the bathroom to figure things out until he leaned against the counter and turned to Natasha. “Yet, this could actually benefit us and the objective.”

John reached into his right boot and pulled out a 10TB USB stick to extract any data useful to the United States. “Our only shot will be during dinner. And even then, we would be on a time limit. Unless something goes wrong or, god forbid, they are onto us, I will be the one doing the extraction while you remain the center of attention. But if we’re caught… well, we might face something problematic at an international scale.”

Natasha crossed her arms and rubbed her chin. ”You think Kimoyo can only watch one person at a time?” She asked.

“No.” John answered honestly. “But, if I were the head of security for a country that’s protective of its secrets, I would be putting more effort into monitoring the KGB spy turned Avenger more than some SHIELD agent. Just saying.”

Natasha conceded this point with a tilt of her head. ”Fair,” She said. ”Still. Be careful. If you can’t find a good opportunity, just don’t do anything. I’d rather not find anything than risk an incident.” She cautioned.

“Yeah, yeah. This isn’t my first time doing a simple extract mission. But, I will be sure to keep my eye out. Don’t worry.” John winked at her partner and started making his way out to be with the ambassador. “Oh, by the way, make sure you don’t leave the sinks on once you leave. We won’t want our host to pay a high water bill, do we?”

”Wow,” Natasha deadpanned as Walker left her alone. She placed her hands on her hips and shook her head. Simple extra mission? ”Coulson’s gonna have my head on a platter...” She murmured sarcastically to herself. With that she flicked off the sinks, one at a time. Frowning, she glanced around at the room. Was she being watched? She stomped the ground, loudly. A moment passed and she clicked her tongue, leaving the room to follow Walker and try to salvage this intel gathering mission.


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Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by AndyC
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AndyC Freeborn Scum

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”Okay,” I mutter to myself as I crawl through the vents of the Guggenheim Museum, ”forty-five minutes til the dry cleaner closes, then another hour and fifteen til dinner. I can still catch Felicia on time…...sure. And maybe after that miracle, I’ll part the Hudson and drown my sorrows by turning some water into wine….”

Felicia Hardy may be the greatest thief in the world, at least the most audacious. Your average burglar settles for breaking into houses, ransacking the place to find jewelry and electronics and guns and anything else they can make a quick buck off of at a shady pawn shop. Not the Black Cat, though. No, she only ever goes for the most expensive things under the tightest security, and makes sure everyone knows she did it. She’s meticulous in her planning, practically a ghost when it comes to stealth and infiltration, a brilliant manipulator, an expert martial artist, a master gymnast, and a gigantic pain in my butt.

Right now, I’m supposed to be getting ready for the most important dinner of my life. Instead, I’m crawling through air ducts hitting dead end after dead end, because this stupid art museum decided to display a 57-million-dollar cat statue in downtown New York. It’s like whenever the circus comes through Gotham City, it’s just begging for trouble. I am so bringing this up at the next city council meeting.

”Any progress?” Captain DeWolff asks through the earpiece in my mask.

”Not yet,” I say, reaching a sealed-off hatch in the duct. ”Just more dead ends. I know she came in through the vents, but I’m not seeing any signs of her exit. I’ve made three rounds through this system, and I just don’t see a way out.”

When the security measures around the Guennol Lioness tripped, it not only set off the alarms, it activated security doors all over the museum. Every entrance, every hallway, every window (except the skylight, apparently), even every air duct is locked down tight with heavy steel doors and hatches.

”I hate to do it, but it looks like I’m gonna have to force my way in,” I admit, careful to state it as a fact rather than as a question so DeWolff doesn’t say no, then quickly change the subject. ”Any luck on getting the cameras back online?”

”Negative,” she answers. "Whatever program Black Cat used to knock out the surveillance systems, it was thorough. So far, the tech guys aren’t anywhere near restoring the feed, let alone retrieving any lost footage.”

”Well, once I get Cat webbed up for you, I’m sure she’ll be happy to provide some tech support,” I say, as I reach into the utility belt I keep under my suit and activate a remote-control Spider-Drone with a cutting torch on it. ”It’s gonna be a bit loud in here for a couple of minutes, Captain. I’ll let you know once I’m in.”

”Wait, what are you--”

*KSSSSSSHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!*

The small plasma welder on the underside of the Spider-Drone begins cutting into the security door, filling the air duct with a loud hiss and a shower of sparks. I crawl back to get away from the smoke, and then pull out my phone and open up an ebook to read while the drone does its work.




”So I tell Professor Nuñez ‘sure, that’s how you interpret Ionesco’s work, but I thought the entire school of absurdist theatre asked the audience to reach their own conclusions.’ You should’ve seen the look on his face.”

”....heh, that’s crazy.”

”So now the whole class has to read The Bald Soprano and write 500 words comparing and contrasting its themes to Beckett’s Waiting for Godot by Monday.”

”Oh man, that’s…..not cool.”

”......and then after that, I have to strip down to my underwear and fight off a pack of rabid wolves with nothing but a toothbrush and a pogo stick.”

”....wow, that’s nuts.”

Mary Jane Watson glared at Harry with annoyance. He hadn’t looked up from his phone in the past ten minutes. The single slice of pizza on his plate was already stone cold, and the ice in his soda had melted.

”Y’know, if you didn’t want to go out tonight, you could’ve just told me. Glory and Betty wanted to check out the band that’s playing at the House of Yes, and I can just--”

”Nonono, I’m sorry, I’m just…….really distracted,” Harry said, finally breaking his attention away from his brand-new OzPhone 12, one he’d gotten six weeks before it was available to the public. ”Dad was breaking in all the new interns at work today, which meant I had to go to the shareholders meeting for him, and I’m still sending emails back and forth with investors. All part of ‘inheriting the kingdom,’ Dad says. And Doctor Smythe keeps going on and on about needing to talk to the old man about something or other called ‘Project V’ but won’t tell me what it is, and I’m still trying to organize the fundraiser for Mom’s foundation next month, and I haven’t even started on my term papers yet, so--”

”I get it,” MJ said, putting a hand up to cut him off. ”You’ve got a lot on your plate. And that’s a lot of stress. But that’s why we’re hanging out tonight, to burn that stress off and enjoy ourselves for a bit. Your dad’s corporate empire will still be standing after you have some pizza and dance with your girlfriend. I promise.”

”....you’re right, MJ,” said Harry, putting the phone in his pocket.

”I know.”

While Mary Jane and Harry had only been dating for the past two months, they’d been friends for years before that, going back to high school when they met through their mutual friends. MJ was new to the city, and her aunt Anna had set her up on a blind date with her friend’s nephew, a scrawny geek named Peter. Despite appearances, Pete was a really great guy, and not only did they hit it off, but Mary Jane also became fast friends with his longtime gal-pal Gwen Stacy and her at-the-time boyfriend Harry.

Of course, a lot can happen in a few years among a group of emotionally-charged teenagers turned twentysomethings. The four of them (six, when including Liz Allan and Eddie Brock) changed partners more often than a square-dance for a bit, but now that they were all in college and on the verge of becoming actual honest-to-God adults, the relationships were starting to solidify in place.

Pete and Gwen had eventually realized that they were made for each other, and MJ was genuinely happy for them. And Harry really was a good guy once she got him to pry his attention away from all the business his dad kept forcing on him. Still, though neither of them said it out loud, both of them knew what this was: settling for second place.

”So…...this band that’s playing tonight,” he said, picking up the cold slab of pizza on his plate to take a bite. ”They got a name?”




”The Mercy Killers, man,” Cletus Kassidy said as he hungrily shoveled creamed corn into his mouth. ”Sickest death-metal band on the East Coast. You start blasting that shit into your earbuds, and man, you just feel like the baddest motherfucker on the planet. It’s pure adrenaline, man, listening to that, you just….you just wanna swerve your car onto the sidewalk and start just mowing folks down, y’know?”

”.....uh-huh…..” said Eddie Brock, cutting into the brownish mass that was allegedly ‘country-fried steak’ with the side of his plastic fork. ”I’ll, uh, I’ll check them out once I’m outta here.”

”Can’t believe they’re lettin’ you back out into the world, man,” Cletus said between mouthfuls of food. ”It’s gonna be so boring here without you.”

”Well, I’m sure you’ll manage.”

Eddie had grown up in a broken home, with an absentee mother and a drunken brute for a father. As a kid, he spent as much time as he could away from the house, usually with his old friend Pete and his aunt and uncle-- there were plenty of times he found himself wishing the Parkers were his family instead of the Brocks. Over time, though, he and his little group of childhood friends drifted apart, and he found himself spending more and more time with friends of a different kind.

When he was fifteen, he started selling drugs for one of the local dealers, making a small fortune from his classmates at Midtown High. This lasted for about six months, until he was caught and expelled. Still, he’d made the right connections, and by his sixteenth birthday, he was initiated into Tombstone’s syndicate.

Everything was going well until he was called in for a raid on a rival gang. Eddie had never pulled the trigger on anyone before, but Tombstone needed every soldier he had to take on Hammerhead, and everyone going in knew that once the shooting started, it was kill-or-be-killed. Eddie was still trying to make himself ready to cross that line, when everything fell apart.

Nobody even realized Spider-Man was there before half of them had already been webbed up. Eddie had heard about him before, knew that he was a metahuman and had a reputation for putting small-timers in the hospital, but he couldn’t believe just how fast he was as the webslinger tossed Tombstone and Hammerhead’s men around like ragdolls. In a panic, Eddie had raised his gun and fired at the masked vigilante, at almost point-blank range…

…and Spider-Man ducked under it like it was nothing. He turned to face Eddie, and then just...stopped, like he couldn’t believe what he was seeing. Like Spider-Man recognized him. For a few seconds, Eddie and Spider-Man just stared at each other, before Eddie raised the gun again. Before Eddie could fire off a second shot, the wall-crawler sprayed his webs at him and left him stuck to the wall for the NYPD to pick up.

He was supposed to get five years, but he was being let out in three partially for good behavior, but mostly because what with the world going as crazy as it was, there just wasn’t enough room in jail for small-timers like him. In less than twenty-four hours, he was going to be a free man.

”So….what are you gonna do once you’re back out in the big bad world?”

Eddie shrugged.

”Find a job, get my GED, get things back on track, I guess,” he said. ”I know somebody who works at some shelter called FEAST, said they can get me a place to stay for a little while and maybe some work.”

”Boooo-ring,” Cletus rolled his eyes. ”Know what I’d do if they let me out? I’d go on a goddamn rampage, man. Find everybody responsible for putting me away, and make ‘em pay. And I mean everybody. Every sheep who buys into this bullshit system, every pig who enforces it, every politician and company-man who makes money off it, I’d waste every last one of them.”

”Uh-huh.”

Cletus Kassidy had a big mouth and anger issues. Eddie imagined that in school he was one of those kids who wore edgy shirts like “you laugh at me because I’m different, I laugh at you because you’re all the same.” It made Eddie roll his eyes a lot, at least at first. He’d heard that Cletus was doing time for animal cruelty, that he’d been caught planning to shoot up his school, that he stalked and stabbed a girl who’d rejected him, and a dozen other rumors that were probably all fake. Whatever he was really in for, Cletus never said. Maybe he really was dangerous if you put a gun or a knife in his hand, but here on the inside, he was all talk.

Eddie couldn’t stand him. Which made the fact that they were cellmates that much worse.

”Well, here’s to your last day in the funhouse,” Cletus said, raising his cup of orange juice. ”And to your shiny new future among the drones.”

”Yeah,” Eddie grunted, raising his own cup. ”Here’s to the future.”

He gulped down the drink, but he knew his little toast was meaningless. Nobody was going to want to hire an ex-con who worked for one of the city’s most notorious crime bosses. All the GEDs and night classes and odd-jobs in the world weren’t going to change the fact that he’d been caught by a superhero, marking him forever as a low-life henchman and nothing more.

If Eddie Brock ever had any chance at a future, Spider-Man had ruined it.




”Okay, I’m finally in,” I say, crawling through the hole my trusty Spider-Drone had cut through the last security door. ”I’m at the display for the Lioness. Now I can figure out where Black Cat went.”

Making my way through the museum’s security was more of an ordeal than I’d expected. The heavy steel doors were one bad enough, then I had to deactivate the laser grid, short out the electrified floors, and web up the automated tear-gas dispensers. I have to admit, I wasn’t giving them enough credit when I got here-- they really don’t want people stealing this stuff.

”You do realize ‘circumventing’ all of that security counts as damaging public property, right?” Captain DeWolff says.

”True,” I admit, ”but it’s worth less than the Lioness, right? Which means if I save it, it’s basically a net gain for the city.”

”You clearly didn’t study economics,” she says. ”What do you see in there?”

”Well, there’s the display,” I say, scanning the room for any irregularities, ”and a discarded glass-cutter. Three unconscious security guards on the floor, two male, one female, all face-down but definitely breathing. There’s a length of cable that I’d bet Cat used to descend into the room, but it was cut when the security doors came down. And I see what looks like a duffel bag, going to check it out.”

It’s not like Felicia to just leave things lying around. Did she leave something here? A bomb, maybe? A booby-trap? A crazed little-person with a knife? None of that really strikes me as her style.

Carefully approaching the bag, I first adjust my lenses to scan for any traces of explosives, dangerous chemicals, or anything else I don’t want getting on me, and I come up with nothing. So far, so good. Tentatively, I pick it up, and start searching through it.

”Nothing,” I say. ”The bag’s empty. And I’m still not seeing any way she could have gotten out of here.”

”Hang on,” DeWolff says, ”how many guards did you say were in there?”

”Three. Two male, one female.”

”I’m looking at the employee schedule. There’s only supposed to be two guards stationed there.”

”So what’s…..”

The two male guards are still lying there on the floor.

The third ‘unconscious’ guard, the female, is nowhere to be found.

”Oh my God, I am so stupid!” I say, cursing myself.

She knew I’d be the first on the scene. She knew I could disable the security measures that would have kept her trapped inside. She knew that I get distracted easily by things that are seemingly innocuous but out of place.

That’s why I couldn’t find any trace of her escape: because she didn’t. She let the doors close, changed into a guard uniform that she had brought in that duffel bag, then waited for me to come along and make the way out for her.

”Jameson’s going to have a field day with this,” I mutter to myself as I start sprinting out the way I came in.

”Spider, are you implying what I think you’re implying?”

”I’m already on it, Captain,” I say, gritting my teeth. ”In the meantime, can you do me a favor? Call Johansen’s Dry Cleaning in Chelsea and tell them ticket number 195 is going to be late for his pick-up.”
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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…




NORÕREJYAR // KINGDOM OF THE GAELS // MIDGARD // 781AD


The woman in black turned, taking in the entire room. As she did so Thor's eyes wandered over her figure, the dress hugging her tightly. Few could match Lady Sif in beauty and ferocity, and yet this woman somehow managed to surpass all his expectations.

“I am Morrigan-” Whispered panic echoed throughout the room. “-and that-” she pointed to the withered husk in the fire. “-is my son.” Murmurs spread throughout the room as people cast each other glances from side to side, some beginning to eye weapons. Thor twirled Mjolnir in his hand, moving his legs apart in a wider more stable stance. A low rumble of Thunder could be heard from outside the room as Morrigan reached her hands behind her back. When she pulled them back up Thor twisted ready to throw Mjolnir, till he noticed in her hands were two horns of ale.

“You accuse me of killing your son, and present me with ale? I know I am not as cunning as my brother but I am not that foolish M’Lady.”

Morrigan threw her head back in what was somewhere between a laugh and a cackle, when Thors look of confusion only intensified she scowled slightly. “Do you believe I mourn his death?”

“You did barge in accusing me off murder.”

Morrigan tutted as she shook her head. “I did no such thing. I merely told you that the beast in the fire was my son. Have you not heard tales of Bodb Derg? He is better off dead. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.”

“You are glad your own child is dead?”

She nodded as she walked forward, as Thors stepped relaxed Morrigan saw her chance to move closer to the Asgardian, handing the horns off ale off to two of the occupants in the room as she walked very slowly towards the young Thunder God. Thor couldn’t help but watch her approach with great interest. There was something about the way she moved that made every muscle seem sensual. “Bodb Derg was a coward, a murderer, pillager and at his most vile a rapist. I may have birthed him but it had been many years since he was truly my child. Should you have failed to kill him, I shudder to think what would have become of these woman-folk.” She gestured towards the women atop the laps of the finest warriors in the village. As she did so a light haze emanated from her fingers towards the viking folk. As it came into contact with them their pupils dilated, turning their faces too eachother all fear was forgotten as their lips met.

All throughout the room lips met and hands began to travel over each other's bodies. Fear and clothes forgotten. Thor's eyes stayed locked with those of Morrigan. Thunder rumbled louder, in time with his heart beat. Lightning crackling. Walking up the steps she walked right up to him placing a hand on his abdomen while her other hand reached round behind his neck. “The world is a better place without him-” She leaned in closer to him, her right hand pulled him closer as her left drifted lower. “-I should repay you, though I do believe you owe me a son.”

Thor could feel her hot breath on his neck, goosebumps covered his body as there was a mighty roar of thunder as Thor groaned. Sounds of pleasure echoed throughout the hall. “Though formalities first-” she pulled pack and placed her lips on his, the sweet taste of her lips on his. The kiss seemed to last for an eternity until he felt a stabbing pain in his abdomen as she broke it. “-Formalities must be upheld.” As she stepped away from him she reached down and grabbed his cape, wiping the blood off the knife onto his cape. “Till we meet again Odinson.”

Without so much as a second word she vanished.

ASGARD // PRESENT DAY


Thor left the palace of Kings behind, the doors closing on Balder, Lady Sif and the warriors three. He ignored the looks of concern on their faces, like Freyja they believed that he should stay here on Asgard and not on Midgard however he could not ignore Loki and his machinations. Already once before Loki had wrought chaos on Midgard, and now with the power of a norn stone he was in a position to create even more damage on the world which Thor held dear. Though the thunderer knew in his heart that should Loki succeed in whatever he had planned for Midgard then the realm eternal would be his next target. There were looks and whispers as Thor walked through the streets, they all knew that Odin had entered the Odin sleep. They all knew that their prince and protector chose to leave them during this.

Thor couldn’t explain himself to everyone, he was to be king one day and as such he had to choose what was the right thing to do and follow through with it. That was everything that his father had taught him. His cape flowed behind him, armour glistening in the mid-afternoon sun. Mjolnir hanging triumphantly from his belt. He could feel his weapon and most trusted ally tug at his belt, the weight wavering as if the weapon was second guessing Thors decision to leave. In the end however the weapon stayed as Thor made the long walk to the end of the rainbow bridge where Heimdall stood ever vigilant. Resting his hands on his sword as he looked out on the cosmos. Nine realms all within his view, all at once.

Heimdall spoke even before Thor could announce his presence. “Are you sure you want to go through with this my prince?”

Thor grimaced slightly. He had hoped out of anyone that Heimdall would have understood his need to leave. “I am Heimdall. You know that Loki cannot be allowed to wield the power he currently has, and that no good can come off it-”

“You are forgetting that you need not do this alone.”

“This is my responsibility.”

Heimdall shook his head. “Your responsibility is to the people of Asgard, and should you feel this quest is the best use of your time then I agree, that is where you should be. I am merely saying you need not go it alone.”

“I won’t be alone, I always have you watching my back.”

Heimdall nodded. “That is true, but not what I was meaning.”

“I know-” Thor walked towards the edge of the rainbow bridge. “-do not hesitate to pull me back at the slightest hint of trouble.”

As Heimdall raised his great sword, stabbing into the fabric of reality opening the bifrost casting the young prince toward Midgard he did not even bother to retort. They both knew nothing short of death could stop the guardian from fulfilling his duty.

NOXVILLE // TEXAS // PRESENT DAY


Many organisations existed in the world which didn’t really live up to it’s full potential. The most obvious example of this was the various churches of the Christian Faith. Too long had they allowed pagans, other religions, genetic abnormalities and various other crimes against God go unpunished. That’s where the Purifiers came in. Or, that was the theory anyway. In reality they were just a bunch of thugs. They occasionally repossessed some property from the filth to benefit the church or their cause, or tried to convert the occasional non-believer, beat the homosexuality out of the occasional individual however they weren’t living up to their true potential. They had chapters all over the United States and even the world, all it would take was one person to motivate them and show them the way.

Which was why the man dressed in traditional Knight's Garb, sword sheathed and shield on his back was walking into one of their known chapters. As he entered guns and knives were drawn. A bald man stepped to the front of the room, gun in hand. Pointing it towards the knight. “Whatever you think we’ve done, you ain’t got proof and you touch us and we’ll sue. So just turn around and go back wherever you came from.”

The knight chuckled slightly, before speaking in a voice with an English accent far unlike his natural voice. “You may believe me to be one of those costumed freaks, however I can assure you I am not. I am not here to arrest you, but to aid you in your battle against all those who would defy God's will. We will begin a new Holy Crusade that will spread across the globe, starting right here. In Noxville.”

“Look, I don’t know who you think we are but-” The Knight in a blur of silver and red, quicker than anyone else could truly recognise. Next thing everyone knew their leader was holding his throat with both hands as blood bled through his fingers, the sword outstretched dripping blood. Weapon fire rang out as bullets peppered the knight who merely stood there unphased by the bullets.

“You choose to follow leaders who would have you sit and do nothing. I stand before you as an Agent of God with but one simple message, join me or stay out of the way. For I intend to do the work no-one else seems willing to do.”

Some of their number lowered their weapons, albeit slowly before one of them stepped forward. “Alright then, where do we start?”

The Knight chuckled slightly. “We target Thor.”

STONEHENGE // WILTSHIRE // ENGLAND // PRESENT DAY


The cosmos went past him in a flash of light as Thor travelled through the bifrost, various worlds and realms passing by him until the tunnel of energy came crashing down atop Stonehenge. Tourists gasped and jumped back in shock and confusion as cameras and phones were pulled out and cast in his direction, while initially several people had started to run as soon as they saw who it was they seemed more interested in coming closer. Some tour guides seemed dismayed at their tour being interrupted by something much more interesting, while others seemed glad that something actually interesting was going on.

Thor looked around, confused. In days gone past Stonehenge had been the entryway into Avalon. The Otherworld where the various creatures of myth and legend from the British Isles lived. Now, however, it appeared to be a spot that drew the attention of many mortals. Which was likely why he had been unable to break through the veil between the worlds, they likely moved in order to prevent just anyone from crossing over.

A red haired woman approached him as he looked around perplexed. “Excuse me uh, Mister… Thor? Is everything okay?”

Thor stopped his inspection to turn to her and smile. “Aye. I have merely lost my way-”

“Well, you’ve missed America by several thousand miles.” She chuckled nervously as he turned to face her directly, a look of confusion upon his face.

“Why would I be looking for America?”

“Well isn’t that where most of you superhero types go? I mean, there are a couple of other smaller groups, but that’s where most of it happens.”

Thor chuckled slightly. “Ah, yes, it is true that I do battle alongside many mortal heroes in America however I assure you while I may have done battle with your gods of old I am a friend to all mortals and a protector of all. In fact-” He looked around trying to spot any type of glyph or indication of any magic. Loki had always been better at this, why had he not paid more attention to their mothers teachings? “-I am looking for the entrance for Avalon. Last time I journeyed there the entrance had been here. Now I cannot seem to find it.”

“Avalon is real?” She paused for a second. “I mean, of course it is. I mean you’re real, Asgards real. Why wouldn’t Avalon be?”

“There is always a little truth to legend.” Thor looked at the woman, inspecting her closely. There was something familiar about her, a feeling he couldn’t shake. “Perhaps you can be off some assistance in this regard?”

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Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Natty
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Natty

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Teddy stifled a yawn as he emerged from his bedroom, using his hand to block out the morning sunlight that was seeping in through the window. It had been a long night, with one movie turning into a mini film festival of his mom’s favourites. They’d all been so exhausted afterwards that they had all just headed straight to bed, leaving a series of empty bowls of popcorn still filled with unpopped kernels littered the lounge’s floor and coffee table. He groaned a little as his eyes took in all the mess, before glossing over the remnants of someone having prepared food on the kitchen worktops. That paired with the door to his mom’s bedroom being slightly ajar told him that she had already departed for work. He nodded in affirmation before heading to work, moving a few plates and pieces of cutlery into the sink.

It used to bother him that she worked Saturdays, yet as he had grown older, he understood that she would have been here if she could’ve. They needed that money. So while she was out there doing her job, Teddy didn’t mind doing his job of tidying up around the house. Besides, he wasn’t always spending these mornings alone anymore.

Billy groaned slightly from beneath his blanket on the sofa, seemingly still in the exact same position he had been in last night when the Altman’s had retired to their rooms. While Teddy’s mom was extremely happy and welcoming of Billy, she at least had some lines, the main one being that Billy had to stay out on the sofa. He didn’t mind too much; at least they got to be together. However, given how Billy had been the previous night, Teddy currently wanted nothing more than to just be there with him and know he was ok.

On the surface, you would think it had been the perfect night, with Teddy loving nothing more than spending a quiet night with the people he loved. But it was hard to enjoy things when he knew Billy was hurting inside. He had stayed quiet throughout the duration of the movies, barely stifling a laugh at the campy costumes and effects like he did normally. Even Teddy’s mum had noticed, with her occasionally flashing the two with a look of concern from across the room.

As he moved around the room picking up plates, his attention moved from Billy to the morning sky outside. He smiled for a second before a small wave of guilt hit him. He remembered Billy looking out this very same window hours ago, probably contemplating the weight of the “destiny” that had been thrust upon him. Despite Billy’s reluctance, part of him wanted nothing more than to have some kind of path laid out for him. Sure, he and Billy used their mutant abilities to help, but surely there was a way to do more? Surely there was a way for Teddy to help him deal with what he was going through right now.

Bzzt.

Teddy jumped slightly as his phone buzzed into life from within his pyjama pants. He welcomed the distraction from his negative thoughts immediately, swiping his fingers across the screen so nothing but Twitter was on his phone and in his mind. He sat there bemused for several minutes, perched on the arm of the sofa, scrolling continuously. However, even this could not distract him forever.

His ears pricked up slightly as a notification came through from one of the Avenger fan pages he followed. It seemed that mere minutes ago, one of his heroes, the Avengers had made an appearance. This wasn’t all that strange, with similar notifications appearing constantly most days as people like Iron Man were spotted soaring through New York, or Black Widow taking part in peace talks at the UN. However, as Teddy watched the shaky video before him of a beam of light descending on the British countryside, his mind raced back to a dumb joke he had made to Billy the previous night.

He moved immediately, rushing to his boyfriend's side, his arms gripping his shoulders as he began to shake him awake.

What… what the fuck are...” Billy managed, visibly annoyed at having been awoken from his slumber. Teddy almost laughed at the sight of him, his hair standing out at various angles atop his head, as his dazed eyes glared blankly at him.

Babe, get dressed,” Teddy instructed, using his hand to smooth out his partner's bed hair. “We’re going to get you some answers about your God stuff.

"But it's a Saturday!"
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Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Zoey Boey
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H A R L E Y ☺ Q U I N N


...BUT FOIST.

Harley needed to talk to her two sweet little angels.

(This is so weird. It's like, goin' around telling people you know that someone they know died. Oh, hey, sorry, old Uncle Lou bit the big one. Only instead of Uncle Lou, it's the old me. In a way. Oh, hey, sorry, I'm movin' my life in a different direction. And it affects you in a very direct way. Y'know, cause I centered my whole fuckin' life around murder and mayhem and now I don't wanna do that no more? Hopefully I didn't screw ya up? I really got no idea how Dee Dee is gonna take this...Come on, Harleen. Getcha head in da-game! Ya got this!)

Harley Quinn peeled out of the kickback in her conspicious vehicle she used for when she was going undercover. A little dark red car. On it's bumper was one of those "Coexist" stickers, you know the one. Camouflage. No one would suspect a thing!

Gotham was a great place to live. It just had a good vibe about it. Except for all the shitty parts, which she hated so, so much. If she hadn't built all of her connections and her entire life in this God-forsaken shithole of a city she would have left it long ago. Not like many other cities would be better, though. Atleast Gotham is corrupt enough that she can get away with way more stuff. Also, no Superman or Spider-Man, or Changeling or Thor floating around. Batman was pretty tough, don't get her wrong, but at the end of the day he's just a kung-fu boy with a lot of toys.

It really was the asshole of the world. Crumbling streets, bending buildings, smog and clouds. No one outside of Gotham gives a fuck about Gotham. People IN Gotham barely give a fuck about Gotham. It has the highest crime rates in the god damn country. Highest poverty, lowest in education. The politicians are as incompetent as they are stupid. And the mental health care system "By GOD Arkham Asylum!" The narration spilled out into reality. Harley began rambling aloud as she moved her shoulders in tune with the pop music on the radio.

"Four years I put up with that drek! I was loyal! I cared! What did I get for it!? BUPKIS! Nothin' but late nights and lonely Hanukkahs! That's a fuckin' rotatin' door! I would know! I been on both sides of it! OUTTA THE WAY, ASSHOLE, I'M DRIVIN' HERE!" Harley slammed the horn.

"Fuck you, bitch!" The asshole in question shouted, sticking his middle finger out the window.

"I'll rip yer legs off!" Harley shouted back, punching the wheeel as she sped around the other car. Briefly passing into oncoming traffic before swerving ahead. Then, it was over, and no one thought much of it. Exhaling, Harley loose strands of blonde hair out of her face.

"Oy vey."

---

The street lamps blasted finely defined cones through the thick, permanent fog of Gotham city. One could barely see the tops of the downtown skyscrapers. Only the divine light of the Batsignal could pierce such a gloomy veil.

Finally, she pulled up to the dejected skate park the Dee Dee twins called home. Harley didn't really know where they went off too. They seemed to exist in a little world of their own. Well, she also hadn't put much work into finding them. They could handle themselves. Easily.

Pulling into the grass-cracked parking lot, Harley shut off the car and stood. "Smell that stale Gotham air." She inhaled, stretching. "Mmmmh... carcinogens!" Harley exclaimed. With a skip in her step she went into the skatepark. It was surrounded by a decaying chain link fence, propped up by cardboard in some places. The buildings around it, that formed three out of the fourth walls surrounding the park, squeezed the park. The far wall had large hole busted in the brick, and a shabby man milled about in the hallway within.

The smooth, lonely sound of a saxophone filled the space. A figure, shrouded in darkness, had found their way to the top of a street lamp and played off-key, spontaneous cords. Perched like a gargoyle of coats and fur. Bitter grafitti was scrawled onto the walls. The skatepark itself was drenched in graffiti, all of it's many colors made black and orange by the Gotham atmosphere. It rose and fell like waves, rusted railings and withering wooden panneling, corroding concrete. Yet people still rid. Men and women rode the waves of the park, jumping and plummeting. They wore strange clothes of the deco days. There wasn't a single unmasked face among the lot. This ritual was a silent one. This place was just one of the many oddities in Gotham's forgotten corners. These people presumably led normal lives. Be it in soul-crushing offices or back breaking labor. Perhaps some were criminals, others with clean sheets. Some sober, others drunk. It didn't matter. Here they donned the cheap suits and caps of the 1920's. Placed the ugly visage of a crying clown upon their countenance...and skated their problems away.

All of them, though, had some loyalty to Dee Dee. Thus, all of them were a little loyal to Harley. Evidence by, as she pushed open the squeaking "gate" to the park, one person took notice. Dressed in a thick trenchcoat and wearing a simple but effective cheap mask, they boarded over to her. They rose from the lower area of the park and came to a stop, kicking up their board and holding it one hand.

"Hey there, slugger." Harley greeted, looking them up and down. "Ya seen Dee Dee?" She asked. Silently, they nodded. With a thumb they beckoned towards the far part of the park.

The clown clicked her tongue against her cheek, firing off her akimbo finger guns and winking. "Thanksamillion."

Harley jumped ten feet down into the canyon of the park, hit the floor, bent her knees, and bounced ten feet back to the top of another plateau. A skater appeared, the underside of their board intricately painted, and then scrolled back down into the skater park. Things were busy. But Harley spotted them.

The Dee Dee twins. Identical gingers. White shorts, red crop tops, white, poofy hats. Their cherubic faces painted starch white, two perfect red circles on their plump rosy cheeks. Finally, white roller skates. Animated raggedy ann dolls, pulled from the dustbowl and breathed full of malevolence. They circled around each other, singing a nursery rhyme. Their hands behind their backs, round and around they went. Every once in a while a skater passed by on the walls, zooming around them. The two were identical. Dee Dee was the collective name they went by. They were never apart. It went beyond the love one might have for their identical sibling. Her musings on the linked pair were interrupted. Dee Dee noticed her.

"Mama Harley!" Dee Dee exclaimed.

"Heya, girls!" Harley called back. They peeled off their circle and casually skated up to her. Big smiles all around. They approached, giving her a big hug. Harley kissed the top of one of their foreheads, and she knew both of them felt it.

"How've ya been? It's been a while!" She asked. Deidre responded.

"Wonderful, simply wonderful!" She pirouetted. Delia nodded. "Oh, yes, just fine, just fine! How have you been, Mama? The underworld shakes."

"It shivers!"

"The Prince and the Princess..."

"Gotham's favorite comedy duo..."

"Disrupted at last?" "How are you?" "Are you okay? "Shall we seek revenge?" "Have you been liberated?"
Deilia asked, Deidre continuing and finishing sentences for her. Their voices were high pitched. Eloquent but small. The shrill plins and plons of a brassy music box.

Harley smiled sadly. "Yup. Mistah J and I are no more. But don't worry about revenge. I'm movin' on. A wise man once said: Living well is the best revenge." Dee Deed nodded, in awe of their mother's wisdom.

"...Course, that was seconds before I shot him because I wanted revenge. So, y'know, that might be a biased source. But still! I'm tryin' it, for now. Plus, eh, not sure there's much I can really do. Mistah J, er, Joker, is pretty much untouchable to the likes of little old Harley."

"No, no, say not these things!" "You underestimate yourself." "We shall travel northward, and destroy him." "Destroy this town with guns and fire-" "Make it regret drawing Quinn's ire."

Harley chuckled, pointing knowingly at Delia. "Aaahaha, the rhyming. I was wondering what 'appened to that. You guys just come up with those on the spot, or...?"

"In the mirror, we do practice." "Novices, we might be AT this." Dee Dee shrugged.

"Wow!" Harley was genuinely impressed. "I bet you guys creep the hell outta people with that. It's great!"

"It's true, we're known to inspire fear." "However, what is the true reason you've come here?"

"All business, huh? That's my girls. Well...I'm just gonna say it. Girls, I'm gettin' into the hero business." Harley was getting used to breaking the news to people. The skate park fell silent as everyone there stopped. Even the distant saxaphone cut themself off with a final discordant note.

In the quiet, Harley felt a shrill tingle of anger travel up and down her spine. "WHATTA YOU BUMS LOOKIN' AT!? GO LICK SOME PAVEMENT, YA FUTURE SKIDMARKS!" She yelled over her shoulder. The saxaphone and the skating quickly continued. Exhaling, she glanced back down at Dee Dee. The two of them were looking up at her, smugly.

"We knew it." They said in tandem. Harley nodded, rubbing the back of her neck. "Yeah, you're not the first person to tell me that."

"I'm relieved, though. Gotta admit. Do you think I can still come over to visit, even if I ain't a villain no more?" She asked, a little meekly.

"Visit?" "Visit?" "No, no, not at all." Harley's face dropped. The twins began to circle around her. "We understand your answer to the hero's call." "Over Gotham, we'll all stand tall." "Visit not, but stay at the Ragdoll Hall." "Always here, to catch you when you fall." They said, proudly. Harley's face lit up. Excitedly, she span rapidly.

"You- you really mean it!? You'll help me be a hero!? Why!? I thought you loved mayhem! It's all I ever taught you! I---" She cut herself off. Then she lowered her voice. "I really thought I mighta screwed you guys up." She chuckled apologetically.

"Mama," "Mommy," "Mother Dearest," The two tugged lightly at her ponytails. Harley jokingly slapped their hands away. "You taught us that you care about us." "That was the most important lesson." "There are many people in this world," "But you saw us for who we were, before anyone else." "You raised as," "Taught us to be brave," "And to be loud. To be..." "Ourselves." "For that,"

"For that..."

"We'll follow you anywhere."
Deidre finished, her voice full of a rarely shown sincerity. Harley, at this point, was tearing up. She wiped her eyes and hid her face from the nearby skaters. "Oh my God...oh my God, I'm gonna cry. You really...you really mean that?" The two came to a stop infront of her.

"Of course, Mother Harley. We would never lie to you." "Unless it was funny." The two giggled, and Harley joined them.

"I...y'know, I..." Harley looked nervously at the nearby people. Lowering her voice so no one could hear. "I really...I really love you two." She admitted. Dee Dee smiled brightly.

"And we love you, as well." They responded. Dee Dee looked at her, and then scanned the environment. Their verdent eyes were full of life. "Though, perhaps one day, you may not be so afraid to admit it." They examined in unison. Harleen was taken aback. Before she could comment, they were onto the next subject.

"Heroes have many enemies on Gotham." "A new career will be difficult to blossam." Dee Dee observed.

"Who should we kill first?" Delia asked chirply.

"Well, hold your horses, girls. Mama Harley is gonna take care of some things, first. If you are really on board, I need you two to fix this place up. Round up some guys. Maybe see if you can convert any-a these layabouts into some real followers. I'm gonna have Coach wire you two some money for the project. After I get some. The Ragdoll Hall is gonna be my first place to gather. Thank you so much, sweethearts. I dunno what I'd do without ya." Harley explained, before hugging them again.

"Anything for you, Mama." "But surely, there is someone you want to kill first?"

"Yeah...Victor Zsasz." She whispered. "That guy fuckin' sucks, right?"

The twins nodded. "Preying on innocent young women..." "Were exactly his type." "Though no doubt, we'd destroy him in a fight." "We'd peel off his skin, if it took all night." "The gruesome murders of one Victor Zsasz." "And worst of all- he's boring- he lacks pizzazz." The two listed off their grivances of one of Gotham's most notorious serial killers.

Harley chuckled, nodding in agreement. "That's the spirit. Yeah, that guy blows. I think everyone'll sleep better if they see me murder him live on the internet." She concluded, her logic sound.

"Okay. Now, I'm off to plan my first big solo heist. You two keep doin' your own thing. I'm proud of you two, y'know! You've done great out of Mama's nest. You guys...really took flight. Couldn't be happier with how you turned out." She stood up straight and proud.

"By the way, is that new hair dye? It looks really bright. Very nice."

"Indeed, Mama Harley. It's a new shade of orange." "Soon you'll that...that we are...we...umm..." Deidre trailed off, staring intently at the ground. Delia joined her.

"Oh, uh, sorry 'bout that." She surpressed a giggle at Dee Dee's expense. Dee Dee blushed.

"Hey, don't worry about it! Comin' up with rhymes all the time is really hard. Okay, Dee Dee. I'll see ya around. Thank you so much!" She gathered them up into one last hug before. Then, she cartwheeled off the plateau. Zoomed up the ramp, hopped over the fence, and sped away in her care. Dee Dee smiled and waved weakly after her. Then, the two sat down.

"Perhaps, Dee Dee, we should re-dye our hair into something that isn't rhymeless."

"Maybe on the poems, we choose to mellow."

"But our shtick, our gimmick, surely it's timeless?"

"Or from now now, we just call our hair... red-yellow."


The girls nodded, wide-eyed at that. Then they began to play with each other's red-yellow hair, giggling. The strange sisters were satisfied for another evening. Deidre and Delia Dennis-Quinzel skated their problems away for another night. Meanwhile, their adopted mother, as always, plunged headfirst into trouble.
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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Pacifista
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Pacifista Buck it.

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Location: New York City, New York
United States v. Banner – 2.01

Interaction(s): None
Previously: 1.04

The trial hadn’t even started yet, and quite frankly, Jeremy Eisenhart was already done with this shitshow.



Blank eyes staring across the road next to the courthouse, leaning over a guardrail with a cigarette that had long been burnt to a cold stub he still gripped in a limp hand, he no longer had the energy to even tremble.

Two months ago or so, Bruce Banner had been found in Mexico. Yeah, that one, the Hulk. Big scary green guy. Let himself get turned in to Interpol after being on the lamb for around 5 years or so. Jeremy did not envy the guys who had to transport him up to the States, that was for sure. From there it got ugly. Jeremy wasn’t one for conspiracy theories, but for a time there it looked like one going to be done in was the due process itself. The last two months had been a scramble of confusion, the system pushing Hulk into the courts as fast as possible, almost like they were running from something. The press was having a field day, flinging shit in every direction, but the one taking a fair share of it was Bruce. The reason? He didn’t get to choose his lawyer. No money: law was an expensive trade. Given the important matter there should have been firms willing to take the case pro bono, but a lot of the small ones who’d reached out ended up not returning any calls, while the bigger ones were stacked with work and legal dealings of their own. Those in the middle got a mix of both, if they could even make it or fit Bruce’s needs. Shit was rolling every which way, making such a big obvious mess it wrapped around to basically no one wanting to touch it. So, a lawyer had to be appointed when Bruce couldn’t meet the deadline.

Jeremy had been shafted with impossible defense cases for the good of the due process before, but this was fucked. Raising the butt of his cigarette, he jammed it into his forehead, crushing it against his skull, right where he was expecting the bullet to go. At this rate, an assassination attempt wouldn’t have made him blink, but it wasn’t likely, that was for sure. He’d been picked out of jar so that Bruce would lose, he figured. If he left, or something happened, then the trial would be pushed back, which no one wanted to happen at this point except Bruce, probably.

Checking his watch, he was late. Not late late, but as the defending lawyer he should be there before things really started anyway. Fuck. Closing his eyes, he let the cigarette butt fall, walking back inside the courthouse with a tired stagger in his step. “Here we fucking go,” he muttered. Even in his stupor, navigating the place was routine to him, Jeremy ending up in a mostly empty courtroom, a few guards stationed and his opposition going over notes and documents at their table. Raymond Royton (a US attorney from the Department of Justice no less) didn’t give him more than a passing glance, the defense about as study as TV static in their eyes, no doubt. At his table was Elizabeth Ross, Bruce’s girlfriend, who shot him a dissatisfied glare the moment he walked in. She was the closest thing he had to an assistant. Smart girl, no law experience, and her energy and passion for the case was great when it came to sapping Jeremy’s away. He understood, but fuck he could go for a glass of whiskey right now. Or the whole bottle, fuck it.

Flopping down in his seat, he avoided Betty’s burning glare, but she didn’t say a word. Hopefully, she could tell by his depressing absence of energy and otherwise ‘sunny’ disposition that he was not in the fucking mood. At this rate he was going to turn green before Bruce did: maybe alcohol was a bad idea after all, because he was about to hurl.

The next few minutes were a haze as blood rushed to his head and obscured his vision, but the noise level began to increase as people were brought in. The jury was let into their seats, picked over the course of a good week, because good luck finding anyone with no particular biases towards metahumans. The crowd of hungry journalists and others with interest in the proceedings filled up the room with low buzz of anticipation. Amongst it all, Bruce was brought in from the side door. He was cuffed, more for the protection of onlooker’s feeling of safety than for any practical reason, given what Jeremy understood. Thankfully he was spared the defense’s usual orange prison garb, on account of not being officially incarcerated. Yet. Thanks to some good behavior, the clean shaven man got to come to court in a light blue dress shirt and black slacks (Jeremy and Betty mutually vetoed green). Jeremy would take any break he could at this point. Glancing at the witness list, he ran over their strategy again in his head. He wasn’t one to hope, especially not with how things had gone up to this point, but even a lessened charge or two might be a victory in themselves, all things considered.

As Bruce was seated at their table, he was surprisingly calm, all things considered. A laugh came from the other side, Roy and his assistant, Edward Reynard, relaxed enough to joke, where the defense’s table was more like a funeral home. “Fuuuuck,” Betty murmured, digging the cap of a pen into a folder in front of her.

“We’ll manage,” Bruce insisted, cool as a cucumber.

Jeremy gave him a raised eyebrow. “You alright there?”

Bruce shrugged. “Could be worse.” Jeremy wasn’t going to touch that one.

There was a movement from the front of the courtroom, the crowd tittering in anticipation. The bailiff spoke as the judge entered, wrinkled and gray. “All rise.” There was a mass shuffling as other voices went silent. “The Superior Court of New York City is now in session, the Honorable Justice Anson Haywood is presiding.”

“Be seated, excluding the jury,” drawled Haywood, taking a seat and adjusting his glasses.” Taking a moment to swear in the jury, as they were seated, he clasped his hands, casually drawing himself forward.

“The case of the People of the United States versus Bruce David Banner is now in session.”
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Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Roman
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Roman King of Dirt

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PREVIOUSLY...
TWELVE FOR A DASTARDLY CURSE
3: CIRCLE THE PSYCHOPOMP


Eve stood rigid and brittle, mind racing. She played back the events of the previous twenty-four hours over and over, analyzing and scrutinizing every hour, minute, second - every interaction, every line of dialogue, every word of her inner thoughts. She’d arrived; drank; slept; buried a suspicious bird; then the girl had been murdered, she had been arrested, and promptly shipped out of town. Out of town. Distinctly out of town - she recalled the large wooden sign at the town border bidding her farewell, a grinning woman paying her a fond wave of the hand as the other wrapped around a large gnarled and white tree trunk, all leering out from what remained of faded and cracked paint. It had passed by the window of the coach and she thought she’d seen the eyes of the painted woman move to watch her go, but had quickly succumbed back to sleep. When she woke it was time to alight, and that was when she had found herself here, once more, in this rundown and decrepit bar that felt haunted by something other than Eve’s own unexpected presence.

The voice of the barman came in like lantern light through swamp mud.
“Miss? Lady?”
Eve snapped back to reality - what appeared to be reality - and focused on the man in front of her, who was frowning, with his hands on the bar and leaning ever so slightly forward. She realized she’d been stood unmoving just inside the doorway for the better part of ten minutes.
“You drinkin’ or not, ‘cause I’m gonna close up otherwise and I ain’t got time for backwater weirdos.”
Eve glared, but approached the bar. “I’m drinking.” She answered, firm and with finality. The barman paused.
“...alrighty. What can I getcha?”
Eve tapped the handle of the draught pump, her fingernail clacking against the plastic. “Clean your pipes lately?”
“They gotta be cleaned?”
There was a pregnant pause.
“I’ll take what you have that’s not from those pumps.”
“Can of Lone Star Red, then.” The barman said, begrudgingly and with a hint of embarrassment. He fetched the beer and Eve cracked the tab quickly and took a long first swig. She grimaced as she swallowed.
“God, that’s still awful.”
The barman just nodded and picked up a broom that was resting against the counter, going back to idle sweeping. Eve didn’t look at him, but paid attention nonetheless while she continued her drink; the third time she caught him stealing a nervous glance at her eye, she turned on her stool to face him entirely. He cleared his throat and focused on the floor.
“New in town?” He finally asked, a hint of shakiness in his voice.
“Just tryin’ to pass through.” Eve answered, flat and emotionless.
“Won’t be stayin’ then?”
“Not if I have any choice in the matter.”
The barman nodded again, responding in a non-committal hum. Eve finished her can and set it aside. The barman paused his sweeping.
“You wanna start a tab, or just pay for the one?” He waited patiently as Eve remained silent, staring hard at him. He began to sweat. Eve stood up, walking towards him, studying him with every step; the barman felt like he was suddenly in grave danger, and had been since the moment this woman stepped foot in his bar. There was an aura of wrath about her that enveloped him whole.
Eve stopped a few inches from his face.
“You really don’t remember me, do you?”
“N-no, miss, p-promise, I ain’t seen you n-never, n-nor anythin’ ya d-done!”
Eve stepped back; the barman took a breath and relaxed his hands, which had gone knuckle-white gripped around the broom handle. Eve seemed satisfied; or, at least, pacified. She sat back down.
“Alright then. And I’ll start a tab.”
The barman walked back around the bar and fetched another can. “I’ll need ya name, in that case.”
“Eve. Eve Coffin.” She answered, holding a hand out in front of her. The barman looked at it quizzically, before micro-shrugging and taking it to shake.
“Samuel Black.”
Eve nodded and cracked her next can. She resolved that, at least for now, her circumstances were dire, but there was little to be done with the oncoming fugue. When the haze cleared, she would investigate; but for now, she would drink. If the tab ended up needing paying in the end - that would likely be a good thing.

-

She had no need to ask for directions this second go-around; she traced her steps from the previous night - same night? - and made her way back to the halfway-house. She’d saved some cash on drinks by opening the tab, but divorcing herself from the Coffin family, and thereby forgoing their considerable fortune, had opened up some financial vulnerabilities. Five dollars for a bed and a roof was considerable value from where Eve currently stood.

The book and the sign were still there. “NATE” had been scribbled again in the column for room 5, but not crossed out this time; she dutifully wrote her own name in the column for room 6 instead, and then went in search. The layout was familiar, the memory of her last stay not even 30 hours old in her mind, but when she approached the room she had stayed in the night before - number 5, it had been at the time - she noticed the painted digit upon the door undoubtedly read ‘6’. She looked at the nearby doors for 5, wondering if she’d somehow gotten it wrong, but while 3, 4, and 7 were all visible, 5 was not. It should have been this one - and yet it wasn’t. This one was 6. Unequivocally 6.

Eve placed a hand on the edge of the door, looking up and down the corridor before she pushed through into the all-too-familiar room. She had that feeling of being watched again; a pervading sense of unease, the uncomfortable aura of being victimized by voyeurism. She didn’t undress this time; instead, she fished the athame from her bag, and carefully carved a crude representation of the nazar at the top of the door-frame, whispering quiet, steady chants as she did so. When she finished, she stepped back, breathing heavily, and then took one deep breath that seemed to suck all sound from the room and leave a vacuum of stillness and silence; then she exhaled, and the carved eye splintered out into the wood slightly, and then the feeling went away.

Eve collapsed onto the mattress, pulling the thin sheets up and around her; her last registered sight before she lapsed into sleep again was of a near-identical carved eye in the very bottom corner of the wall - only this one was closed.

-

Eve dreamt of little girls and looking into ponds and seeing more than the silt at the bottom. She dreamt of thrashing fish and clouds of mud from the riverbed making murky viewing. She dreamt of iced over lakes that reflected cold sunlight and splintered threateningly.

-

Eve woke to a rough jabbing in her side with the toe of a leather boot. In her half-slumbered haze, she recognized that there was a foot inside the boot; that foot was attached to a leg, and the leg in turn attached to the old hag that she'd encountered on her last stay. Eve guessed she was the proprietor, or at least some kind of housekeeper. Not that the house was all that kept.
"Witches don't get discounts." She said, and Eve rolled her eyes. The woman crooked an eyebrow, but let it go. "But I seen your carving up there. So either you made a raw deal with somethin' best left alone, or you're tryin' to repent for some old sin."
Eve sat up, already reaching for her bag. She said nothing, but couldn't help diverting her gaze when the woman mentioned sin.
"Runnin' from sin it is. You had a look about you. Five dollars for the room."
Eve fetched her bag and stood up; she hadn't even taken her shoes off when she'd laid down to sleep. She handed a five dollar bill over, and the woman took it wordlessly, which Eve thought a small mercy. The woman turned and left, putting a hand to the nazar above the door as she went. Eve followed her shortly, and did the same.

On the ground floor, the old woman was sat at her desk again, still not looking up from the ragged magazine she leafed through. Eve didn't stop this time. As she stepped out of the front door of the house into cold daylight, she saw a magpie perched on a rooftop a couple buildings over; it flew away as she started down the street toward to the promenade.

-

The high street was already lurching sleepily into the day as Eve made her way to the town square; she traveled in search of a decent breakfast, something to chew through as she analysed and re-analysed her situation. The young couple she’d seen yesterday - today? - setting up chairs for their cafe were there again, dutifully unfolding their undoubtedly cheap furniture, and as she approached the shopfront she could hear the telltale sounds of a coffee pot being made and a grill being fired up. The smell of the ground beans was rich and enticing, and Eve’s stomach groaned with demands. She realized she hadn’t eaten since before her first visit to the town, and that hunger came full force from the pit of her belly. Shit beer and dread did little to nourish her. She pushed forwards into the shop, and quietly took a seat by the window; idly, she once again watched the old man across the street waft incense, and then pause to stare at his reflection. The moment protracted itself, and then the shop-keep turned away from his reflection, swinging his gaze to fix eyes with Eve. She felt a pang of unease as the old man furrowed his brow and then looked at his reflection again, before nodding much as he had the day before, and retreating back into his shop. Suspicion grew in Eve, but as the smell of bread being heated began to blossom through the cafe, hunger overtook any urge of investigation.

She was approached timidly by the hostess, a waif of a woman with long brown hair drawn back into a high ponytail that brushed the nape of her neck. She had a sharp nose and sharper eyes, but an aura of self-doubt pervaded any sense of a cunning intelligence. Eve thought of the paten rolling around in her bag, and how it could be used to impart confidence and assurance should she wish it. Eve also thought of how her family had misused or outright corrupted spellcraft for material gain. Better to leave it alone. She requested a coffee and a breakfast of toast and scrambled eggs. The hostess departed with her scribbled order, and returned quickly with a chipped white mug of hot coffee, and a clumsy handful of salt, pepper, sugar, and creamer, that splayed across the table as everything was set down. Eve quietly thanked her for the coffee, trying a terse smile, and then pushed the creamer away as she dumped sugar into her mug and stirred, sipping the scalding sweet liquid quickly. It seared down her throat into her screaming stomach, but rejuvenated Eve as it went; she eagerly took another sip and savored the taste and scent.

She carried on like this, sipping and savoring and burning her tongue, tapping her fingers against the ceramic as she waited for the food. She almost felt normal - she could be any individual public citizen, any sleepwalking denizen, going through the motions of her daily routine; lurching from one auto-piloted action to the next, drudging on through days and weeks fantasising about escaping the monotony but too cowardly to break out of the well-worn rut. Comfort could have come easy to Eve had she toed the line her parents and predecessors had set for her. Instead, a teenage act of petty rebellion had irrevocably altered the course of her life; a forbidden epiphany had her perspective reeling, and she had chosen - chosen, she reminded herself - to sever the familial connection.

Rumination on Eve’s bloodline was interrupted by the appearance of breakfast. The toast was burnt - the smell caught in her nostrils and she suppressed a cough - but the eggs were a appetising golden colour, flecked with pepper and still hot. Eve thanked the hostess, who apologised for the bread before departing, and hastily scooped up her knife and fork to dig in; with food in front of her, her appetite truly reared its head and she found herself famished and voracious. She devoured the egg and a slice of toast, and was chewing on the second when the hostess reappeared with a pot of coffee.

“Top you up?” She asked, and Eve smiled - a genuine smile, for even Eve Coffin could not sour hearty breakfast and good coffee - and gestured eagerly towards her mug, nodding. The hostess poured, and then lingered.
“Nice to see a new face in town.” She said, making idle conversation.
“Came in on the bus yesterday. Just passing through.” Eve replied, mouthing words around the last swallowed pieces of bread.
“Funny, I thought the station was closed on Sundays. Been wrong before though, ha!” She paused awkwardly as Eve shrugged, sipping more coffee to wash the taste of burnt toast away. “Anyway. I’m Sandy.”
“Eve.” Eve replied, reluctant. Sandy stood silent for what Eve felt was just a second too long. There were two loud BANGS on the front window of the cafe, and Eve jumped; when she looked, two distinct patches of feather-dust and blood stained the outside of the glass. Eve didn’t need to peer over the lip to know there were two dead magpies on the ground outside.

“You stayin’ for a while, Eve?” Sandy asked suddenly, like snapping out of a fugue. Eve raised an irritated eyebrow.
“Like I said. I’m just passing through.”
Sandy laughed. “You stayin’ for a while, Eve?”
Eve pushed her coffee away and stood up. “No.”
Sandy laughed harder. “You stayin’ for a while, Eve?”
“I said no! Eve answered, raising her voice.
Sandy bent over, struggling to breathe between laughs. She gasped for air as her body shook with racking guffaws. Eve seized her by the shoulders, chanting a fierce and furious counter-ritual. The words Sandy got out were pained and wheezed, and underpinned Eve’s chant hideously - some kind of distraction, a counter-counter-spell.
TWINKLE TWINKLE WRETCHED EVE. Still the laughing.
“Let her go!”
WHAT HATEFUL NIGHTMARE WEB YOU WEAVE.
“I said stop! She has no part in this!”
FOREVER CURSED BY EVIL EYE. The words were fading as Sandy struggled for oxygen. Eve chanted harder and louder, trying to weave her work above the din of twisted laughter.
HAUNTED NOW UNTIL YOU DIE. There was no stopping. The convulsions and chittering continued as Sandy collapsed to the floor, Eve unable to hold her up.
ROTTING SICKLY SWEETLY EVE. The final chortles ballooned up from Sandy’s chest through her throat, expelling the last bit of breath left in her body. Her final words were a forced, choked whisper, spoken like someone was stood on her chest, pushing out the words.
No-one left on earth...who’ll grieve.
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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Sep
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Sep Admiral EvilScottishGuy

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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: Thors new boy band


STONEHENGE // WILTSHIRE // ENGLAND


The grassy hill of Stonehenge was the home of several miracles that day. Mere minutes after the sky had erupted in an array of rainbow coloured light, two more blips of energy flashed around the ancient stone circle. The two costumed teenagers, Wiccan and Changeling stepped out amongst the gathered crowd of tourists.

I guess this is one place off the bucket list.” Changeling smiled, giving an awkward wave towards the flash of cellphones and gawking eyes around them. Unfortunately, out of the two of them, most of the attention around them seemed to be directed towards him, largely due to the fact his skin currently matched the vibrant green of the grass beneath them. Hushed voices hung in the air around, questioning if this being was someone like the Hulk, or Martian Manhunter.

Just wish we were visiting the UK under very different circumstances.” Wiccan mumbled to himself, running his hand through his hair as he took in the scenery around him. His eyes stopped ahead of them, where a red cloak billowed out dramatically from an imposing figure. He gulped, his hand beginning to shake slightly.

Changeling had caught sight of him too now, his green face forming a smile. He hadn’t noticed how Wiccan was reacting yet. “D’you think he’ll let me take a selfie?

Wiccan managed a smile at the thought.

Maybe he’ll do one better and make you an Avenger.” Wiccan teased, before pulling his boyfriend ahead with him into the centre of the circle.

Thor was stood among the tourists and the tour guide. He turned to look at outside the circle of admirers as he heard a soft noise and he noticed that the hushed tones were changing, two figures breaking through the crowd. One nearly as tall as him and as green as a troll, however, his features were much softer like that of a teenage boy. Beside him a figure wearing a red billowing cloak. Thor stepped towards them. “Greetings Noble ones! Are you here to lead me to Avalon?”

The two jumped ever so slightly as he spoke, star-struck by the Avenger’s godly presence. He was even more imposing in person than they had imagined, despite the jovial expression beautifully carved into his face.

Their throats grew dry as they looked between themselves, pondering what he had asked.

What’s… er…” Changeling’s voice cracked as he spoke. He hoped Thor was kind enough not to notice. “What’s Avalon?

The King Arthur place?” Wiccan offered, questioningly. The confidence in his answer wavered after his boyfriend raised an eyebrow in confusion at this seemingly new knowledge. “It was in a PC game, okay?

Thor looked between them as they talked among themselves, a confused look crossing his face before a look of realisation. “PC Game- AH! One of the mortals digicomputer devices. Tony Stark talks often about such things. I myself am fond of the electronic letter. Although I never seem to receive them.” He cleared his throat slightly. “Alas, noble ones you must come before me for another reason. Speak now, what may I do for you?”

Wiccan gulped slightly. It was now or never. He glanced up at his partner’s smiling face, who gestured him forwards, encouragingly. Nodding, he spoke.

They call me uh.. I go by Wiccan.” He was stammering now; overthinking his words. Somehow he thought this would’ve been easier. “Me and Changeling here, we’ve been trying to fight crime”.

Teddy chimed in, pointing towards Thor. “Like you and the Avengers

Er right, Yeah. We thought we were mutants. I can like... wish for things to happen. Warp reality i guess.” Glancing around, he quickly bent to pluck a small trodden daisy from the grass below. He held his hand open before him, the dying flower laying in his palm, before repeatedly mumbling one of the before mentioned wishes under his breath. As he willed it to grow, it followed, with the green of its stem growing more vibrant, and the petals blooming until they looked as good as new. He gave the god an awkward smile. “See?

Letting out a small awkward laugh, he continued. “Anyway, yesterday something really weird happened. This, like, big golden man appeared and told me I was some kind of god. He called me… the Demiurge. I know this is probably really stupid and not worth your time, but-

Changeling stepped forward in support, placing a hand on Wiccan’s shoulder. “We thought you might be able to help. Given your uh… godness.

Thor smiled at Wiccan as he stepped forward, lowering one of his hands and lifting the daisy out of Wiccans hands as it recovered. Only half paying attention to what the boy was saying. “Power of the Green-” He looked up as Wiccan started to talk about a Big Golden Man. There were many beings of power who could fit this description however more importantly there was the big namedrop. Demiurge. His focus solely on the magic one now he twirled the flower in his hands before placing it gently on the ground, the rejuvenated flower grasping the ground and growing roots as the magic still flowed through it.

“I heard stories that the Demiurge would one day return to Midgard however I had not believed it.” Thor nodded to himself as he stood up from monitoring the daisy. “Our fates are intertwined it would seem”

Wiccan inhaled, the nails of his now clenched fists pressing dangerously into his palms. Hearing confirmation from Thor just made it all seem real. His heart was pounding now, yet all he could do was nod. He knew he must’ve looked stupid, yet he couldn’t find the willpower to do anything more. After what felt like an eternity in his head, he finally spoke.

What… what does that mean?” His voice was shaky now. “Is this bad?

Thor walked forward and gave Wiccan a clap on the back, which was likely too forceful before turning his back to him and looking back at the circle of stones. “It is only bad if you wish it to be.” He shrugged before turning back around.[color=#a4c2f4] [b]“Truly friend Wiccan, if this is true then you have a difficult path ahead of you. Tell me, what do you know of the Demiurge?”[/color][/b]

Struggling slightly to regain his footing, Wiccan continued. “Not much… He said the Demiurge was the life force of the Universe. Wikipedia kind of said the same thing.” He laughed nervously as he spoke. Thor’s words had eased him somewhat, yet he could still hear his heart thundering against his ribs. “The gold guy said he had to train me until i was ready for something.

“I know not if the Demiurge is the Life Force of the universe however it is for a fact the Life Force that gave birth to the Elder Gods of Earth, such as Gaia. If you lead me to Avalon I shall take you to her, she may have some answers for you.”

The response raised an even greater amount of questions for Wiccan. It seemed the Demiurge was more than just a god. And on top of that there was the newfound worry that he potentially had a horde of children out there. Despite his worries of his potential fatherhood, he was glad to finally have some kind of direction at least. If the god of thunder didn’t have the answers, then maybe Mother Nature herself would.

Thank you.. Uh.. Mr Thor. I genuinely really appreciate this.” He smiled, his body shaking a lot less now, before glancing around at the stone arches around them. “But I don’t really know much at all about this Avalon place. Especially how to get there.

Thor cast a sincere smile towards the boy in red. It was one thing to grow up knowing of one's destiny and godliness, but to have it thrust upon you was a great undertaking. There was still a chance that the boy was not the Demiurge, but it was not his place to say one way or the other. “It is simply Thor. As for Avalon-”

Is there, like, a big stone door somewhere here for us to burst open?” Changeling chimed in, trying to be helpful.

Thor chuckled at the green boy's suggestion. “If it were but a test of strength, I would be capable. Nay-” He turned to walk back into stonehenge. “-the door used to be here. It was easy to break through, now it seems that they don’t wish to have visitors. It would take a powerful mage to break through.” Thor looked at Wiccan with a raised eyebrow. “There should be magical energies all around here, if you can tune into them it should be a simple case of following them to the door.”

Wiccan followed his gaze around the stone circle as he spoke, nodding understandably, yet it was clear from his expression that he had doubts. It sounded so easy when Thor said it. But how would he even start to do that? And even if he did, what if it didn’t work? What if everyone had been wrong about him.

He jumped slightly as Changeling leaned in closer, moving his hand into Wiccan’s, before squeezing it affectionately.

You can do this Billy.” The sound coming from his green lips was barely a whisper, yet it was all Wiccan could hear right now.

Nodding affirmingly now, he moved forward, stepping amongst the pillars around them all. His hand passed slowly over the cold stone. Outwardly, there didn’t seem to be anything particular about them. They were just huge chunks of rock. But they couldn’t be. They had to be more.

Breathing in slowly, he closed his eyes, reaching out with his open hand once more. Pushing his anxieties aside temporarily, he tried to concentrate, willing every brain cell he could into action. He thought about what Thor had said. About the life force the Demiurge potentially wielded. And then, just before he decided to give up, he finally felt someone other than stone. It was merely just a twinkle of a feeling at first, yet as he delved closer, it began to feel more familiar. It was like a feeling of comfort. A feeling of love and warmth. A feeling of life.

Pushing deeper, he found that feeling take shape. Sprawling forests of luscious green sprouted before him in his mind. Fantastical structures peaked through the treelines, as colossal castles and palaces came into place. Plains of flowers and grass stretched along the land, filled with all sorts of creatures and life. Wiccan knew in a heartbeat what this was. The Kingdom of Avalon.

Yet despite the electrifying atmosphere of adventure and magic that Wiccan could feel in this image, he found something blocking it. A thin veil of energy, like a pane of glass, stopping him from going any further. He frowned for a moment, before the realization hit him. He stood firm before the shimmering wall of light, before placing the palm of his hand against it.

Opening his eyes, he found himself back within the stone circle, standing directly in front of one of the empty stone arches. Despite not being able to see it, he could still feel the barrier of energy against his outstretched hand. Ignoring the questioning looks of those around him, he began to make a wish.

OpenOpenOpenOpen…Open!

A loud hum rang in the air around Stongehenge as the wind began to rage. Then, as quickly as it began, the grassy hill fell silent once more. The archway before Wiccan was empty no more, the space now taken up by a wall of blackness that seemed to stretch back into eternity.

As a feeling of pride swelled within him, Wiccan turned toward his two companions, gesturing towards the gateway. “The Kingdom of Avalon awaits.

Thor gave Wiccan a slap on the back as the portal opened. “Huzzah! Good job young mage. Even if you are not the Demiurge you have great power and I would be honoured to stand by your side one day in battle.” Thor walked towards the portal, unclipping Mjolnir from his belt and holding it out he pushed it slowly into the portal. Satisfied that the portal was actually open he turned back to Wiccan and Changeling smiling before stepping through the portal. Unlike the Bifrost where you merely stood enjoying the ride through the cosmos, meanwhile in this portal Thor felt himself twist and turn lurching as he fell head over heel again and again.

Disorientated but not deterred, as he saw the other side of the portal rapidly approaching he twisted his torso to ensure that as he left the portal he was still left standing on his feet. Finding himself in a meadow, very similar to the one Stonehenge had occupied but instead of the entire site there was only the doorway. The countryside however was more or less identical, if anything it was merely a bit greener than the one they left behind, and the sun was shining a lot more. Thor inhaled deeply, the air had a sweetness and a freshness that didn’t exist on Asgard. Now all he had to do was wait for the two young heroes.

He didn’t have to wait long however, with the portal surging into life moments later as the red-cloaked Wiccan stumbled into the meadow after him. He hung onto the stone doorway feebly, obviously dizzied by the teleportation, as he tried to regain his footing. Rubbing his forehead, he finally moved his eyes up towards his surroundings, taking the world around him in, a dazed expression of awe plastered over his face.

That was until he froze, his mouth ajar in a state of shock.

I was the last one to go through...” He uttered, focussing on Thor. “Where the hell is Teddy?!
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Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Hound55
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Hound55 Create-A-Hero RPG GM, Blue Bringer of BWAHAHA!

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T H E ‘ E M B A S S Y ‘

Four Months Ago | Manhattan, New York

Ted rushed the platter of dips surrounded by crackers onto the coffee table between them.

"So... Mister-- Thor..? Son? Mister Thorson? No. That doesn't sound right."

"Thorson would be if he had a kid." Booster corrected.

"Let me try that again, can I get you anythiiiiing, Thor? Mister Odinson? I can call you Thor, right? Coffee? Beer? Mead?"

Thor had picked up a cracker and was holding it up to the light, inspecting it like some kind of a curio. It looked tiny in his huge hands.

"--chai? Coffee? Soup? Ovaltine?" Booster continued Ted's questions, in a mocking tone with his best impression of their mutual friend.

"Hey, you're making me sound like Hank!"

Booster said nothing and just levelled him with a smile. Ted's eyes widened behind the goggle lenses.

"Oh my God I sound like Hank..."

'Thor' ate the cracker, picking up another as he smiled. He picked up another one and eyed it curiously. "Too which God do you refer? I promise you I can put you in good standing. If someone is in need of smiting, then I would recommend myself. I may be the God of Thunder but I may as well be the God of Smiting, for I am mighty!” He chuckled to himself. He turned to Booster Gold. “Servant boy, I will have the largest ale you have. Preferably two, your ale is not very potent.”

"Servant boy..?" Booster muttered, shooting his Blue compatriot an incredulous look, only for Ted to mouth the word "Go" at him. Booster threw his hands up in frustration before the Blue Beetle hissed at him in a harsher whisper, directing him to the kitchen. "Just go!"

Booster Gold sullenly trudged off to the kitchen.

"Ha ha haaaa..." The Blue Beetle laughed uncomfortably to their guest. "Aaaaaanyway, we asked you here today since you've had considerable experience in the heroing field... you know, like Justice League, the Avengers, general... divine duties, I suppose. We were wondering if you'd be interested in joining our merry band of... hup!"

Ted had gone to sit down without looking and inadvertantly sat on the edge of the arm of the chair, almost falling on the floor before regathering his balance, and desperately trying to mask the accident with more fake laughter.

"Ha ha haaaa... Friends. Buddies. Our merry band of Super Buddies."

Booster trudged back into the room with a four pack of brown bottles, still in the cardboard. He took one bottle out, holding it towards Ted, just as the Norse god grabbed the remaining three. Booster watched him and shrugged, deciding this meant the bottle he now held was meant for him, he removed the lid using his gauntlet as a bottle opener and kicked back on the lounge.

‘Thor’ used ‘Mjolnir’ too, surprisingly delicately knocked the cap off the three bottles of beer. Picking up the first bottle he tipped it, and his head back, the liquid running down his throat and into his stomach. The bitter taste lingering on his tongue. Shrugging he took a sip out of the second one. “I have had many offers for many different superhero organisations. While I am intending to stay loyal to my friends among the Avengers. Your group intrigues me.”

Suddenly a man in an exuberant red and yellow costume opened a door and jumped out, making a cliched superhero pose.



"I 'HEARD' you've been talking about me."

Ted's voice resonated with an implied sigh. He'd had to deal with this one far too often, apparently. "No, you didn't. I told you to wait in the other room. Stop doing this."

"Hey? Who's this guy?"

"Don't ask--" Ted warned, moments too late.

"Tis I, The Incredible Phone Ranger! The one who answers the call when innocence rings! The one who--"

"Dammit! You set him off!"

"--scourge of the--"

"Yes, yes... and you always come calling at Dinner time. Look, are you happy with your long distance? Because we're not. Go wait in the other room until we're done in here." The Blue Beetle scolded.

"Oh man... You have beer and crackers in here?" The strange red and yellow hero broke character, his voice reverting to a more natural, but nasal tone.

"Just... wait in the other room." Ted pinched his goggles off of the bridge of his nose, exasperated.

Thor laughed slightly at the figure in yellow and red. “Is he one of your number? Who else numbers among you?”

"Presently, we're otherwise engaged as far as he's concerned. I fear if he tries that again we may just have to disconnect him entirely." The Blue Beetle scowled as the Phone Ranger slinked out of the room, back to wherever beer and crackers weren't.

Before 'Thor' could respond there was a rumble of thunder, a look of panic crossed his face, Ted unable to adjust to this panicked Thor could only watch as the behemoth of a Demigod stood up and stuck his hands into.. pockets? That he apparently had in amongst his mail armour? Out of it, he pulled out several business cards. "I must away! Before I take my leave, here are my contact details. The first number goes through my Avengers headset, the email is held by a S.H.I.E.L.D agent then relayed to me as well as a postal address-" sticking his hand into another impossible pocket he pulled out a small stone with several runes engraved upon it. "-I have enchanted this stone to be able to contact me from anywhere. It will essentially broadcast your likeness before me."

Seeing Teds confusion he flashed a coy, but equally panicked grin. "The Thunder is my Bat-Signal. You know, God of Thunder?"

"Wait-- who else is able to control the thunder in the first place to call you?" Booster Gold asked, for once with his finger on the pulse.

Ted looked at the cards and the rune stone skeptically. He arched a single eyebrow. None of this was adding up.



'Thor' laughed "Clearly other Gods of Thunder." As there was another greater rumble of thunder 'Thor' walked out the door, before it closed there was the brief glimpse of a small coastal town. Before Ted and Booster could react however there was a crashing through the window as a hammer came through the window and crushed the chair that 'Thor' had previously been sitting in.



Shortly after another Thor came climbing through the window. "LOKI! WHERE ARE YOU?"

"He went THATTAAWAAAY!" The pair said, pointing to the door the first 'Thor' left through.

The second charged out being pulled through the house by his famous hammer and an unbridled primal rage.

The pair stood in silence in the wreckage of their own home. They'd lost a wall, a window and the door had seen better days. There was an uncomfortable pause before Ted finally broke the silence.

"How are we going to explain this one away?"

"Kool-Aid Man..?"

"Kool-Aid Man?? Who'd believe that?" Ted replied.

"I think I'D believe that..."

"You? Well, yeah-- maybe you would... But-- Hmmm... Maybe I can-- Ted ran off into another room for a few minutes. Booster walked over to the kitchen and grabbed two more beers out of the fridge.

Ted came back with one of his Doodlebug drones and a small brown box.

"What's in there?

"K.O.R.D. prototype fine tissue nanites. They use 3D printing tech on a microscopic scale. I introduce them to the part of the wall that's still standing, program them to repair the remainder of the wall."

"Whoa... you can do that now?"

"Well, they're still in the testing phase, so I can't legally sell them yet. And they'd be exceedingly expensive if I could. And they're slow... But they'll eventually get the job done." Ted released a nanite spray into the broken part of the wall, he opened up his wrist gauntlet and started programming the nanites to sample the broken remnants and task them with producing the components to repair the wall. He waved his wrist across the gap to scan the task area. And stepped back to watch.

"Slow?" Booster asked.

"Well it's only a small section of wall, not particularly thick... I'd say seven hours?"

"Seven hours?!? We could fix it ourselves in less than that!"

Ted turned and stared at Booster. "No. You couldn't. And they're tiny robots, what do you expect?"

"Well that doesn't solve our problem though, does it Ted? How are we going to explain this?"

Ted smiled and held up a finger. He brought out the Doodlebug and set it to hover in the air. Using his wrist control he programmed the doodlebug to scan the unharmed segment of wall, flew the doodlebug over to the gap, where it then projected a hologram of the wall over the wreckage.

Ted turned to Booster and smiled.

"That'll work."

The pair sat back on the lounge and looked at their work as they heard the front door open. She walked through The Embassy with her head in her phone, completely preoccupied. Ted and Booster quietly stared as she walked through the room, hoping everything stayed business-as-usual. But her head was so deep in her phone she didn't notice the Doodlebug floating there. After a crash she got up furiously rubbing her head and searching the floor for her phone, a hologram of the wall being projected onto the ceiling.

"What did you two idiots do?!?"

"I-- err-- we--..." Ted stammered.

"Well, you see, the Kool-Aid Man..."

"UGH! I DON'T EVEN CARE!!"


Fire picked up her phone and stormed out. The Blue Beetle and Booster Gold watched as she left, green steam rising off her hair.



"BWA-HA-HA!"


R A V E N ' S P E R C H

2002 | Ugh... New Jersey

“So THIS is superheroing..?” Jughandle sarcastically asked.

“In this context, THIS is superheroing.” The Blue Beetle confirmed.

“I had no idea superheroing was done on a bus. Apparently my parents had me superheroing my way to school every morning.” Fateball replied.

“And why ARE we on the bus?” Jughandle asked.

“Because Mize doesn’t own a car.” Ted flatly said.

“Nonononono. I OWNED a car.” Said the Mize. “I just don’t drive because… well…”

Ted inhaled deeply. He was exhausted, and conversation felt like it was draining the last of what he had left. “Because you have next to no control of your powers and you rapidly degraded your car every day when you drove it, until the thing literally fell apart underneath you on a main road. Like a teenage Mister Magoo.”

“What’s Mister Magoo?” Fateball asked.

“It’s before your time. Which *YA-AWN* funnily enough puts it even further before my time.” The Blue Beetle explained.

The bus pulled out of the terminal and slowly trundled down the street.

“But why the bus?” Jughandle asked.

“Because the bus costs us twelve bucks each, whilst Amtrak would charge us over fifty per head to barely get us there any earlier. And because if Mize could do that to his car, I AM NOT getting on a plane with you.”

“And why do we need to go to Boston in the first place?”

“Because we just do.” His patience frayed.

"Because whatever this superheroing we're needed for is needed in Boston, obviously." Fateball reasoned.

"Exactly. Listen to this one boys, she'll see you right."

"Boston. The City of Brotherly Love..." She continued.

"OK. You can stop listening to her now."

"I thought it was the City of Trees?"

"That's Boise."

"Nah, WE'RE from Joisey..."

"Great. I'm stuck on a bus with pre-pubescent Marx Brothers."

"Who?"

"Animaniacs." Ted simplified.

"Ah."

"AND the Warner sister!"

"Alright, that's enough of that, now. Can we have just a few moments of quiet. I't's been a long day, time travel really takes it out on you apparently--"

"--especially without a chrono suit, sir."

"Yes, thank you, Skeetz. So if I could just have a little quiet, I might actually try to squeeze some sleep in before we get there."




Four Straight Hours Without Consecutive Minutes Of Silence Later





Ted stared straight ahead with bloodshot eyes, breathing deeply.

"I think we broke him." Mize said, waving a hand in front of the hero's face.

"I'm a man of means by no means, King of the Rooo-- --hoik!"

Ted moved swiftly and grabbed Jughandle by the collar. Eyes twitching, capillaries about to burst, if the brain in behind them didn't first.

"Whoa, man!"

"I'm OK... I'm OK. Just STOP singing. I am so tired... I can't be held responsible for what's going to happen next if--"

"Oh hey, we're here!"

The other three watched uncomfortably as Ted sobbed gently and deeply.




B O S T O N

2002 | Errrr... Boston, Massachussetts

The four walked around the streets of Boston in uncomfortable silence, the three teens periodically glancing back at the older superhero until he eventually punched through the thick atmosphere.

"It's OK. I'm OK. I'm sorry about before. I'm also pretty sure this is happening out of some weird cosmic karmic alignment because of how I was around my own teachers when I was your age. I am just very tired right now. So very tired. Let us never speak of the bus again."

The other three paused, considering what he said before Fateball finally spoke up.

"So where to now?"

"It's just up ahead here. Just a bit further." The Blue Beetle pointed a few houses further down the street.

"This is just a suburban house." Mize surmised. "What kind of supervillain would live here?"

"Look," Ted said, levelling with the three teenagers at last. "I've just got to get in here and find a way to leave a message with my current location somewhere that the others will find it. So Jesse, jughandle us."

Jesse looked pensive. "I dunno. Isn't this breaking and entering? Like, in a suburban house?"

"First, suburban house, Legion of Doom headquarters where Metallo 'dwells'. Technically it's all B & E." Ted shrugged. "Secondly, what 'Breaking'? The entrance points will all be in tact. You're circumventing the regular dimensional planes to trespass on private property. And finally, I could get us in without you, it's just easier this way."

The three disappeared through space and reappeared on the other side of the door.

"Well how would you have got us in?"

"Spare key."

Jesse wigged out, feeling tricked to sneak into the house. "The key?! You had the key?! Then why'd you have me bre-- make us trespass?!"

"I don't 'have' the key, I know where it is. I'm not as agile as I used to be and it's a pain in the ass to get to. Also it doesn't lock the deadbolts properly. They'd know we were here after we left. This way's better. And let's be honest, more fun too. Just relax. There's not going to be anything we have to deal with here that can't be handled."

"Deal with..? Jughandle didn't like the sound of that. This weird hero talking about killing cats and 'Handling' situations that need 'dealing with'.

"Just relax. Everything's going to be fine." The three teens just stared. The more he attempted to calm them the less he seemed to have their trust. So instead he sighed and went upstairs towards his old room.

Ted let his bedroom door swing open and really felt the emotional side of time travel as his childhood bedroom from eighteen years earlier was revealed before him. He hit the light and stepped inside.

"Whoa... This is a kids room. This whole thing feels messed up." Jesse said, as he looked around the room.

Ted sighed and gave an exasporated look at the three younger heroes.

"So what are we doing in here?" Fateball asked, whilst her and Mize walked into the room. Ted started to inspect items on the shelves.

"I'm looking for something I know they'll look at, so I can send the others a message to know where I am. So they can come back and pick me up."

Toys, DVDs, books, Ted swept across each looking for the perfect thing. Then he was distracted by something else. "Oh. My. God!"

"What? Whaddid you find?" The Mize asked, picking up the LaserDisk player to look behind it.

Ted had a big grin on his face, before he slowly paced his way across the room. He picked up a fedora and slowly and gently put it on his head, before pointing at it with a look of amazement and joy which was completely lost on the others.

"It doesn't match your blue suit."

"You're not going to take some kid's hat are you? That's busted."

"I haven't seen this thing since 2002..." He said to himself. "This all actually kind of makes sense..."

"C'mon man. You're not really going to take this kid's hat are you. I mean, how would you feel if somebody did that to you?"

"I'd feel confused, angry and frustrated over the issue for the next eighteen years of my life, until I had a moment of absolute clarity and found myself getting a hat." Ted replied.

"Alright, well that was oddly specific, but yeah. It'd suck. Don't take the kid's hat."

"Do you STILL not realise what's going on here, Jugs? It's HIS hat, this was HIS room, all of this is HIS stuff."

"Whoa... So we're IN a superhero's bedroom?"

"Well, I wasn't a superhero when I was--" He stopped, seeing the new joy in Jesse's starstruck eyes as he walked all around the room, seeing it in a new light. "--sure, whatever. Soak it up. Superhero's bedroom. Don't break my action figures."

Ted went back to looking around the room for something to leave a message on when it came to him. The Scarab. He still had the replica model car in the future. Even when most of the other toys and things were boxed up and left to dust. The Scarab sat in pride of place on the mantle of the Embassy. Super Buddies Headquarters. He'd leave a message there, on the car. Heck, maybe he already had and it was already there. Like his hat. How often does it get closely looked at really? All it would take is one glance, though...

And he'd told Booster to never touch it.

If there was any way he could possibly guarantee that Booster Gold would get his - probably unwashed - hands all over it, the second Ted wasn't around to tell him not to touch it... it would be to tell him he can never touch it.

"The Scarab it is."

Ted walked across the room and grabbed the model car in it's perspex display case and set to work figuring out how to crack it open.

"I think I've just found my ticket out...
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Hidden 1 mo ago Post by Pacifista
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Pacifista Buck it.

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Location: New York City, New York
United States v. Banner – 2.02

Interaction(s): None
Previously: 2.01

“First degree murder?” Bruce paled. It was the strongest reaction Jeremy had seen out of the man.

A STRATEGY MEETING, SEVERAL DAYS BEFORE THE TRIAL

“Damage of public, private, and federal property, over 40 counts of assault leading to injury, all across both primary incidents, and yes, the first degree murder of Brian Banner.”

Listing off the charges, Jeremy swiveled his chair a bit, watching Bruce out of the corner of his eye as he processed what they were dealing with. The two were joined by Betty Ross and Rick Jones, leaving all the legal expertise in Jeremy’s hands. That said, Bruce was a lucky man to have people willing to stand with him even now, when so much of the country was fully against them.

“Well, I don’t think we can do much about the destruction of property or assault charges, but maybe we can lower the murder charge,” Rick suggested. Bruce winced.

“I mean...do you even remember what happened?” Bruce bobbed his head back and forth, not committing to either a nod or a shake of his head.

“Well, the body wasn’t found. It’s only witness testimony and evidence from his apartment and security cameras. Brian and Bruce went in, Hulk came out.”

“Well, Brian came out too, supposedly,” Rick noted, grimacing as Bruce shifted uncomfortably. Jeremy swallowed: Hulk had left the apartment from the roof, but a window was shattered, the blood on the glass belonging to Brian. They hadn’t been able to find where he’d landed, just more blood, thus he had technically been declared missing up until some time after Bruce had been apprehended. What was once a cold case had been accelerated, another great sign that everything was fine.

Jeremy observed, “I mean it might be in our best interests to shoot for a kind of Jekyll/Hyde defense. Plead automatism through disassociation. It’s not like you’re you when you’re…”

“I am hungry actually.” Jeremy’s mouth narrowed. Bruce gave a slight smile, having gotten the reaction he was looking for.

“It’s not impossible, but...there’s a can of worms there when metahuman powers are taken into account.”

“The Hulk isn’t the same as some teen erupting into flame for the first time and burning down their classroom. I don’t want to try and run from anything I’ve done as the Hulk. This trial is bigger than him...me. I’m going to make it very clear to the jury...”

THE TRIAL

“I am Bruce Banner, and I am the Hulk.”

Raymond, the plaintiff attorney, shot a bemused look to Bruce, sitting in the stand. Jeremy figured that they had called up Bruce first to steal the momentum out from under the defense, starting them on the back foot, but given his tone of voice, it was a move on the cusp of backfiring.

Really? Fascinating. You were...conscious, of everything you did as the Hulk?”

“No, I can’t say that I was. I usually remember bits and pieces after the fact, but at no point during either of the two attacks was I aware of or in control of my actions as the Hulk.”

Raymond was at once, getting what he wanted served to him on a silver platter: Bruce’s accountability, but it remained wrapped up in that enigma that was the Hulk. “So, he is you, but he’s not you?”

“I believe so.” Bruce said, answering without an answer.

“Can you provide any evidence either way?”

Bruce admitted, “I think there’s plenty of footage online that displaces a clear difference in basically all speech and mannerisms. A few physiologists have given opinions (we have their statements prepared), but if the casual testimony of several experts isn’t good enough, then our only option for further study is face to face sessions. Unsurprisingly, no one has been willing to go that far, first of all being myself. Beyond that, no, I can’t prove that I don’t remember something I’ve only heard of after the fact. Unless you have any ideas.”

Raymond stared with one eye, before rolling his fingers with one hand. “Alright then. So, in your words, what is the Hulk?”

Bruce took a deep breath, before delving into his breakdown. “I’ve yet to put him under the figurative microscope myself, but I can speak to my experiences. The Hulk only emerges when I’m feeling a particularly strong emotion, or when I’m in a life threatening circumstance. Typically, it’s anger. Before the attack on El Diablo, I was led to believe my girlfriend was in danger.”

“And in New York? Did Brian Banner threaten Miss Ross? She was in the city at the time. Or was it you who was in danger? Was the man who could become the Hulk, in truth, threatened by a middle aged man?” Bruce swallowed, bringing a thumb to his mouth, lightly gnawing on the knuckle, handcuff chain clinking lightly.

“What did happen there, Bruce?” Rick had asked back at the strategy meeting. And just like now, Bruce had shut down, only a few moments later managing to state that he’d be able to talk about it at the trial, Jeremy recalled. Exchanging looks with Betty, the woman showing concern, Jeremy shifted in his seat to stand while Raymond continued, “Bruce? Are you with us?”

Clearing his throat, Jeremy stood. “Your honor, if I may: recollecting the events of that particular night is clearly putting undue stress on my client. I might ask that we postpone Bruce Banner’s testimony regarding that incident until he is mentally prepared to give his account, and address other witnesses, if the plaintiff is done questioning him?”

Judge Haywood let his eyes linger on Bruce, before stating, “I will leave it to your discretion, Mr. Royton.”

Ray nodded. “I’ll abstain from that particular incident for the time being.” With a cocksure smile, he added, “Wouldn’t want to meet the green guy.” There was a murmur of amusement from the crowd. Betty gripped her pen hard, Jeremy himself feeling a bubble of anger as Bruce’s circumstance was made into the butt of a joke.

“So, just to make sure I have everything straight: you aren’t aware of what happens while you’re the Hulk, but you become him because of your emotional state.”

“Thus, I consider myself accountable for his actions.

“I see. Well, your subjective account is just that. We’re here to determine if under the law of the land, you are accountable for the Hulk. It would smooth things over if you tried to speak more objectively, when possible. As a scientist, I would think you understand?” Bruce shrugged. “Out loud, for the court reporter, if you would,” Ray said with a smile.

“I do.” Bruce sighed.

With a nod, Raymond summarized, “While self-defense, sorry, defense of your girlfriend, may have been applicable: tearing up a military base, and stomping down over a dozen soldiers and SHIELD operatives, including getting into a tussle with the Captain America, would go outside those bounds.”

“I feel as though you’re simplifying the argument. I’m simply trying to state that the Hulk should be treated like a being, one that is an extension of myself. My comments were intended to be general. I would prefer if you avoided applying what I say generally to specific instances.”

Raymond admitted, “I’m simply following the logic you yourself have put out.”

“You’re taking advantage of the fact that I don’t know the whole truth of the incident from memory, even though I was there in body.”

“I was doing no such thing!” Raymond retorted, looking to the judge, who gave him a motion to keep things going.

Bruce did so. “My approach to the base was because I believed Betty to be in danger, yes, but who started the actual conflict?” Bruce let that hang in the air, Raymond caught off guard. “Did the Hulk bust through the gates, roaring, as he ought to do? Or did the guards panic and fire at him at first sight, prompting self defense?”

Jeremy hid a wide grin under his hand. He didn’t know what exactly was going on behind the scenes, but the rushed nature of the trial had opened all kinds of holes in the plaintiff's case. They appeared to have been trying to trap Bruce by using what he didn’t know against him, but that had been flipped back on them pretty easily.

That smile fell, however, when Jeremy noticed Raymond was unfettered. “I think a soldier is well within his rights to defend his base from any apparent threat, but rather than from my mouth, I can gladly bring out the next witness.” turning to address the court, he stated, “Given the rather exceptional nature of these incidents, I felt as though a baseline of accountability should be established right from the beginning. As Mr. Bruce Banner states, the Hulk transformation is triggered from his personal emotional reactions, while as the Hulk, he’s unsure, requiring further analysis based on accounts of people who do know what happens when the defendant has become the Hulk. Any further comments at this time?” Bruce shook his head. “Nope.” Raymond looked to the judge.

Judge Haywood asked, “Would the defense like the take the opportunity to question the current witness before he takes his leave of the stand?”

Mind rushing, Jeremy was on the back foot now. “No, your honor.” He’d thought they had the upper hand, but now it was him who was tripping up, trying to find the right course of action.

“Thank you Mr. Banner, I expect we’ll be seeing you up here again. Call your next witness, plaintiff.” As the judge spoke, Jeremy realized his error, and where Raymond was taking this.

Raymond glanced at the defense table as Bruce took a seat, a slight smile at the edge of his lips. “I would like to call Emil Blonsky to the stand.”
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