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"We all wish we had super powers."
"We all wish we could do more than we can do."

S T A N L E E ( 1 9 2 2 - 2 0 1 8 )

I N T R O D U C T I O N:

Once... there was nothing. Then... a lot of crazy shit happened. Like really crazy shit. Like I think John Stewart was briefly a racist old stereotype. And that shit with Thawne randomly killing everyone. There were many universes. But our parents made us clean our room, and rather than wasting the whole afternoon tediously reorganizing all things in their place... we scooped up all universes and crammed them in the closet and told our mothers we were done. This universe is that closet." - Uatu the Watcher
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Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Lord Wraith
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Lord Wraith Leaf on the Wind

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We all wear masks, and the time comes when we cannot remove them without removing some of our own skin.

Location: Gotham Docks - Bleake Island, Gotham City
Welcome to the Masquerade #1.01: False Faces

Interaction(s): None
Previously: None

The beeping of the reversing truck echoed between the warehouses as it backed down the pier towards the awaiting idle vessel. Several of the ship’s crew stood on the stern of the small trawler, weapons firmly held at the ready as they watched the approaching vehicle slow to a stop.

Within the cab of the truck, the occupants did a last minute inspection of their firearms as the stout man in the back was the first to make a move to exit the vehicle. Taking hold of the door handle, he felt a firm hand take hold of his shoulder, causing him to pause before turning his head to look back at his associates.

“What?” He snapped, “Boss wants this over with.”

“Boss also insisted we wear these.” The other man replied as he extended an elephant mask towards the man.

“What the hell man?” The large man snapped before looking towards the remaining masks in the other man’s hands, “Give me the tiger one!”

“Boss specifically said you’re the elephant.” The driver interjected, “He was quite adamant that everyone wears their specified mask.” He added, reaching towards the tiger before putting it on.

“Fuckin’ fine then,” The first man snarled as he pulled on the mask. “Everyone happy now? ‘Tiny’ Pete’s a big, fat, fuckin’ elephant.”

Ecstatic.” The Tiger replied dryly as the Wolf and the Stork stifled a few chuckles beneath their masks. “Could we move along then?”

“Zat’s what I was trying to do in the first fuckin’ place.” Muttered the Elephant as he climbed out of the cabin and moved towards the rear of the truck and opened the cargo door. The dark interior of the vehicle was illuminated by the lights dotting the docks as the silver `Wayne` logo on each of the cases reflected the light along their metallic surfaces.

“Glad to see everyone took the time to put on their game faces.” A voice called from behind the Elephant-masked man as the Tiger turned his head towards the source.

“Still on time though, Mr. White.” The Tiger exclaimed, his tone friendly as he swung his arms open, motioning towards the shipment in the back of the truck with his weapon. “Straight from Wayne/Sionis’ R&D department, courtesy of the False Face Society.”

“Go check it out,” White ordered to the man on his right as he straightened his leather suit jacket. “Ensure we’re getting what we’re paying for, and hurry!” He called after the man in the white suit, “I ain’t got all damn night.”

Jumping from the aft of the trawler to the dock, the tall, dark-skinned man landed softly on the wooden planks before adjusting his large sunglasses as he walked towards the four masked men.

Holy fuck! The Stork muttered as he leaned towards the Wolf, “That’s the fuckin’ Tally Man, what’s he doing with Warren White?”

“Warren’s a shark and money talks, especially in a city like Gotham.” The Wolf replied in a hushed tone, “And the Tally Man always gets paid.”

“And don’t you clowns forget it,” The ‘Tally Man’ flatly stated as he approached the open truck. Motioning towards the cases, he spoke again, “Open them.”

“Easy with the accusations there, amigo. We don’t run with the Jokerz.” The Tiger retorted before nodding towards the Elephant. Obliging, the larger man pulled the first case forward, lifting it with a loud grunt.

“My sincerest apologies,” The Tally Man dryly replied as he looked towards the case, watching as the Elephant lifted the lid. Lining the padded interior were numerous vials of fentanyl, bound initially for hospitals all across the Eastern seaboard, it would now instead be distributed back on Gotham’s streets for profit.

“Twenty-nine more cases in the truck?”

The cowl had picked up every word as Terry remained crouched over the edge of the nearby warehouse, watching, listening and waiting for his moment to strike. He and Bruce had been watching Warren White’s activity for the past week. The former financer had begun making aggressive moves in Gotham’s underworld. This outing was his largest show of force yet, but Terry and Bruce were betting on it being his last.

“You get all that?” The Batman asked as he spoke through the communications channel open in his cowl.

“Every word.” Came Bruce’s gravelly reply. “Take them down.”

“On it,” Terry replied, tapping the center of the suit’s belt as the dark figure disappeared, camouflaging perfectly with its surroundings. Landing silently on the pier, the Batman approached the scene as the two groups were busy unloading the remainder of the truck’s contents.

“I’ll want you to ensure every case has what we were promised,” Warren White’s voice could be heard ordering over the din. Acknowledging the order, the Tally Man nodded, rolling his eyes beneath the thick sunglasses adorning his face. Opening a second case, he nodded his head before closing it and moving onto the next one.

“We should hurry this up,” The Tiger spoke up as he placed the container down in front of the man in the white suit. “This is night in fuckin’ Gotham after all.”

“Are you worried about the Bat?” White spoke up, a smug smile crossing his face. “He won’t be a problem, I left a present for him in the North End, sent some of my guys to Burnley to keep him off our back.”

“Actually,” A voice interjected from the shadows, “I gave them the rest of the night off.” The words were followed by something flying through the darkness as it struck Warren square in the chest. The air left the corrupt man’s lungs as his feet were lifted off the ground, bolas wrapping around him as he was restrained.

“It’s the fuckin’ Bat!”

“Batman’s here!”

“Look out, it’s the Bat!”

“Shoot him!”

Tapping his belt again, the Batman vanished before their eyes as they began to discharge their weapons in every direction. Sliding along the ground, Batman took ahold of the rifle closest to him, using it to hurl the Stork masked man into the air. Ripping the firearm free of his grasp, Batman spun around, driving the butt of the automatic weapon into the stomach of the Elephant.

Moving swiftly, Batman fired several batarangs from the wrist-mounted launcher on his suit. The projectiles flew through the air before hitting their marks as the Tiger was the first to cry out in pain. His gun clattered to the ground loudly as blood ran down either side of his impaled hand. Jumping up, the Batman delivered a sharp kick to the man’s head watching him fall to the ground.

Suddenly a hiss escaped from between Terry’s pursed lips as his right arm was struck with sudden pain. The Tally Man had gotten a lucky shot off, the bullet hitting Batman in the arm as his suit distributed the force of the blow over its surface, minimizing its impact. It hadn’t broken through the suit, but that did little to reduce the pain he was currently feeling.

The gun went off again, this time, however, Batman was ready as he evaded the Tally Man’s shots. Releasing a batarang from his hand, the weapon struck the Tally Man’s gun, knocking the firearm free of his grasp. His gaze followed the handgun into the air, the Tally Man turned his head at the last second, his vision filled by a closed fist as the Batman delivered a hard hook to the hitman. Dropping the man to the ground, Terry kicked the gun away as he surveyed the scene around him.

“Where’s the Wolf?” Wayne’s voice asked as Terry counted the felled men before him again. The old man was right, they were one short. Suddenly the truck’s engine roared to life as Terry spun around too late to react as the vehicle peeled off, heading back towards Old Gotham.

“Worry about him later,” Wayne growled in a tone that Terry knew was going to involve a lecture later. “Ensure White and the others are taken into custody, I’ll let Gordon know where he can pick them up.”

“Copy that, and the fentanyl?” Terry asked.

“I’ll make sure Gordon knows it’s accounted for as well.”

Next Issue: Growing Pains
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Hidden 4 mos ago Post by DocTachyon
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DocTachyon Teenage Neenage Neetle Teetles

Member Seen 14 hrs ago

Issue 1

New York City, NY --- Thompson Memorial Hospital

Ben’s room at the Thompson Memorial was smaller than it had any right to be, jammed into the corner of the Eastern wing, a room as far away from the bustle of personnel and people with quality medical insurance as they could find. A bundled mass of machines, all constantly blinking and churning out reports, lay in a mess around the room, jammed wherever they could fit to keep Ben Parker alive just a few minutes longer. The two seats in the room were awkwardly together against the back wall, chair legs competing for each other’s space.

Peter in one, May in the other. They’d been told a while ago that the worst of it was over, for now. Nerve damage to the spine, probably permanent, unless Stark came out with some new “revolutionizing gizmo” again. Peter never laughed at their jokes. May always looked up at them with those big, sad eyes of hers whenever they did it, trying to cling on to the hope in their jargon. Not understanding. May’s hand was around his now, white knuckled and bony as always. She stared at the rise and fall of Ben’s chest, but her eyes were glazed over, her mind somewhere else. When Peter looked at her he could only see the age in her face. Past the grief and the tracks of tears, all that was left was her years spent with Ben; walks through Central Park, long swims down at Coney Island beach. Now the wonder was how Ben could get up the stairs to his own bedroom. If he woke up, anyhow. When he woke up.

Peter shifted in his chair and the noise cut through the whir of medical machinery, hard scrape of plastic against cheap linoleum. May started in her seat and Peter gave her hand a squeeze.

“I-I'm sorry Peter dear, I…” May shook her head.

“S’okay, Aunt May. My fault. Sorry.” Peter’s thumb circled the back of her hand. ”Listen, I uh… I think I’m just gonna go outside and catch some air, okay? I’ll be right back.”

May nodded slowly and turned back to her husband, clasping her hands together and receding even further into herself, if that were even possible. Peter stood and winced as he unclenched his hands. He didn’t realize he’d been doing it that hard. Still, to think that some sonofabitch had shot his Uncle and was now doing this to his Aunt, and was… Peter’s fingers dug back into the bruise on his hand and he swore under his breath.

The room’s door closed behind him and he sucked in the stale, reprocessed Hospital air. It wasn’t much better than the stuffed up room, but it was something. The hall was silent, spare for the echoed clack of the receptionist’s mechanical keyboard and the steady hum of the white fluorescent lights. Peter dropped into one of the felt chairs outside and rubbed the sleep from his eyes. How long had it been, now? Three, four days? They weren’t expecting him in school for a while at least, but every day he couldn’t get away from the hospital was another day the shooter had to hide himself from Peter. From the police. From Spider-Man. He grabbed the arms of the chair and squeezed. Useless just sitting here and... And watching him. Peter needed to be out there, doing something, finding the bastard that… Three sets of shoes coming down the hallway. Peter tensed. Already he was up on his haunches in the chair, and he could feel the suit gurgling below the surface, waiting to spring across his body in an instant.

What was it? The killer coming to finish the job? Their steps didn’t have the cadence of the Doctors, and he and May were the only family Ben had. They were nearly to the bend now, Peter’s biceps swelled underneath his shirt and he pointed his hands forward. He reached out for his Spider-Sense and felt nothing, no chill across his mind. Suit on the fritz? Maybe. Either way, just a second now, and…

”Gwen?” Peter realized his mistake and all the fight went out of him. His balance gave and he dropped forward. His chin cracked against the linoleum. ”Ow.” Through the haze of the vague pain travelling up through his chin, he could make out the three of them; Gwen, Harry, and MJ.

“Geez, Pete! Over excited to see us?” Harry Osborn’s smile went from ear to ear as Peter tumbled, awkwardly trying to find his footing and right himself again. His arm was around MJ, she laughed as Peter finally established himself on two wobbly legs. Gwen stood before them, rubbing her hands together.

”You know me. Excitable is my middle name.” Peter rubbed his chin as the pain faded into a background throb and his friends reached him. Gwen threw her arms around him and pulled him in close. Her hair smelled like strawberries.

“Hope you’re doing okay, Peter…” Just as quickly as she’d hugged him Gwen began to pull away from him, blushing. “Sorry.”

“Uh, thanks, Gwen…” Peter patted her on the back and tried to seperate himself from her arms. ”It, uh… It means a lot, actually. What brings you guys out all this way?”

“We’re here to see you, tiger.” MJ said, untangling herself from her boyfriend and going to check on Peter herself.

“We’re, uh, all fine here now, thanks. How are you?” Peter crossed his arms and the words tumbled out. Same old stupid Parker with his foot in his mouth, right? MJ and Gwen looked him up and down while Harry shot off a text on his OsPhone, which he deposited in his back pocket before joining the girls.

”Just been missing you in school, bud. Bet even that jackass Flash is, even if he won’t tell anyone.” Harry didn’t know it but his grin was just like his Dad’s, wide and thin. He always looked like he’d just gained the upper hand. MJ swatted her boyfriend’s shoulder and reached out to take Peter’s hand.

”What Harry is trying to say is that we care about you and just wanted to check up on you.” MJ squeezed his hand and plunked down into the seat he’d just been occupying. Gwen tentatively touched his arm.

”How’s Ben?” Peter pulled his arm away and into himself, scratching at the back of his head.

”He’s uh… He’s hanging in there, yeah. Hanging like Luke in the Wampa den, but… Hanging.” Peter sighed. He looked at Gwen and she looked right back at him. Her big blues were unblemished by tears or sleepless nights over a hospital bed. No, she was just Gwen Stacy. Peter looked away. His hands were balling again. ”Have you heard anything from El Capìtan about Ben’s case?”

Gwen smiled but she looked down, shaking her head. ”I’m sorry, they didn’t put Dad on it. Said he was too close to it. They said the department was putting their best people on it, if that means anything to you.”

”Okay.” Peter nodded again and again. ”Okay.”

”Pete? You’re shaking.” Harry started.

”I’m fine, Har. I’m good.” Peter jammed his hands in his pockets and looked away. He tried to focus on his breathing, on his heartbeat, anything to calm down, but all he could hear in the back of his mind was the steady gurgle of the suit. Waiting. Wanting.

”Peter.” Gwen’s hand on his shoulder. ”I know you want to be strong. For May. But we know… I know what it’s like to lose someone, okay? You can talk to us.”

Peter bristled, every muscle coiled together and prepared to pounce, but Peter just focused on the cadence of Gwen’s voice. She was right, deep down Peter knew that. They wanted to help. But Spider-Man wanted something else.

”I appreciate it guys, really, it’s just, uh…” C’mon, Parker, think! he was never good with excuses.

”If you want us to go, we’ll go, but…” Harry scratched at the non-existent stubble on his chin. ”I just… I unno, it might be better for you if we stayed?"

MJ pulled Harry into a sideways hug as he sat and she looked up at Peter. ”You don’t need to do it alone, Parker. You’ve got May, and you’ve more than got us. Any way we can take the weight off a little?”

Maybe I don’t have to do it alone. But Spider-Man does. Peter massaged his temples. ”Look, I can stick around a while longer but, uh… I think I just need to get my mind off things. By myself, that is. Sorry. Maybe I’ll play The Old Scriptures V again, or something.”

”That works. They just released Byerim on the Os-Homes.” Harry said.

”Thanks for staying awhile, Pete.” Gwen sat and patted the empty seat next to her.

I just hope I don’t regret it…
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Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Lord Wraith
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Lord Wraith Leaf on the Wind

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

S A T U R D A Y, J U N E 3 0 T H, 2 0 1 8 - 0 4 : 3 7 p m | D O W N T O W N

"There you are Ma'am, I'm sure Mr. Cuddles will be right as rain in no time at all." Dr. Blake Donaldson said as he gently passed the obese cat over the examination table to the frail old lady in front of him.

"But please, do try to limit Mr. Cuddles' treats to three per day," Blake added with a smile.

"I'm so sorry Doctor Donaldson, ever since my husband's passed away, I've just been lonely and the Mr. Cuddles here has been my only solace." The woman remarked, her voice cracking slightly as she continued. "And if I don't give Mr. Cuddles treats, he won't come to me. The darn cat always did like Ted more."

"Well, I can suggest a few other ways to attract the cat-" Blake began only to be cut off mid-sentence as a deafening crash echoed from outside on Marville's main street. It was quickly followed by the familiar whine of sirens as the Sheriff's department moved onto the scene.

"What in tarnation!" Mrs. Henderson exclaimed as Blake held up a hand for her to stay put as he moved out of the examination room and into the lobby where he could get a better view of whatever was happening outside.

"Doctor Donaldson, I'm sure the Sheriff's department can handle whatever it is." The elderly lady added as Blake turned back to look at her.

"That's what I'm afraid of." He retorted as his eyes searched the street for the old Crown Victoria. It didn't take much effort to pick the black and tan car out of the usual traffic that ran up and down Main Street, even less since its lights were reflecting red and blue off the front of the First National Bank across the street. Standing behind the passenger door with her gun drawn, was none other than the woman that Blake had been hoping not to see.


Barbara Norris, his college girlfriend, and common-law partner, the pair had been together for nearly five years now and there was no one in this world who knew Blake better than she did. But her choice of career wasn't exactly something Blake found desirable, his only relief being the staggering lack of violent crime in Marville.

At least until recently.

All over the world, individuals with what could only be described as superpowers, the stuff of old Captain America comic books, had begun to appear and caused what he personally considered to be a disaster. People with that kind of power, relatively unchecked, it was like they weren't held to any sort of responsibility and Blake could only imagine it was going to end in death for far too many people.


The sound of Sheriff Lamb's voice broke Blake's internal monologue as he looked up to see the figure of a large man in the doorway of the bank. As he stepped into the light, Blake felt a small sense of dread run down his spine as he realized the mutant threat had finally come to Marville. The man's skin appeared metallic in the daylight, shiny and reflective as the high sun beat down on it. In one hand was a large duffle bag, overstuff with wads of cash, no doubt from within the vault of the bank. n the other hand was a crudely made flail, something you'd see an art student try to throw together in shop class back in high-school.

"Wait, I know him," Blake muttered aloud. "That's-"

"CARL CREEL, PUT THE WEAPON DOWN AND YOUR HANDS BEHIND YOUR HEAD!" Lamb continued to issue orders as Blake's former classmate maintained his steady path towards the cruiser. By now, Blake was hardly the only bystander the incident had attracted. After all, the most exciting thing to happen in Marville in the last month was when the local diner, Donar's, tried adding a vegan option to the menu.

Suddenly a collective scream came from the gathered crowd as Creel moved, the flail flying through the air, smashing against the hood of the cruiser as Lamb and Barbara opened fire. Gunshots ricocheted off of Creel's skin, bouncing into the crowd as screams grew louder, accentuated by the cries of pain.

Horrified as he looked around at the chaos, Blake had never felt so powerless in his entire life. At least, not until he saw the flail turn towards Barbara. The sound of metal on metal echoed in his ears as time seemingly froze around him. He watched helplessly as the flail crashed against the door of the cruiser, the force throwing Barbara backward. The impact as she hit the ground echoing in Blake's ears as he charged forward. Watching the gun slide from her grasp, Blake suddenly found himself standing between Barbara and Creel as the other man smiled.

"Crusher!" Blake roared. "That's enough, no one has to die today."

"You do," Creel replied, a smile on his face as Blake stared back at him defiantly. "God offered me a gift, it came at one price. That I kill you."

"We had our rivalry in high-school Creel, but that was ten years ago. You need to let it go." Blake replied, his eyes watching the ball and chain dragging behind the man.

"You had me kicked off the team, you little snitch! You ruined my chances at getting out of this town!"

"You would have been caught doping the second you joined a college team, I did you a favour! I gave you a chance to find another path in life and this is what you chose!"

"SHUT. UP." Creel roared, the flail swinging around as it caught Blake straight in the chest. His body was suddenly lifted into the air, Barbara's cries echoing through his ears as the warm trickle of blood ran down his chin, his breathing strained as ribs felt like they imploded in on his chest. The dirty pavement did nothing to break his fall as Blake found himself crumpled on the ground of a nearby alley, toss away like the rest of the garbage in this town.

Grasping for air, Blake's eyes widened as an elderly man looked down on his. His clothes were tattered and tarnished, a wide-brimmed hat covering half his face as Blake noticed a scarred eye socket hiding before the shadow of the hat. His remaining eye, however, twinkled with a kindness, not unlike one would see in their own grandfather.

"I think it is time for you to get back in the fight my son." The man said as he took a firm hold on Blake's hand, helping the younger man to his feet as a strange sensation washed over Blake's body. The dreams that had plagued him for nearly a decade suddenly bombarded his mind. The sky overhead darkened as thunder began to rumble and suddenly it was as though a fog had been lifted from Blake's mind.

"Father," Thor spoke for the first time in what felt like a millennium.

"Go forth my son, the people of Midgard need you."

Lightning flashed as Thor emerged from the alley, his Asgardian armor appearing as he approached Crusher, catching the flail midair as it swung towards his beloved Barbara.

"I would have words with you, but it would seem that you are not in the mood for conversing," Thor yelled over the storm as Crusher looked at the strange man before him, completely bewildered.

"Who... W-who the hell are you!" He screamed as Thor ripped the flail from his hands.

"I am Thor, the Son of Odin, God of Thunder." He declared. "Heir to the Throne of Asgard, Protector of the Nine Realms, Björn of the North, the Lone Rider of the Storm, Lord of Battle, the fierce spirit and to my enemies the Terrible."

"Yeah well, fuck you," Creel snarled. "I'm Crusher Creel, the Absorbing Man, kicker of your ass, douchebag."

"The Absorbing Man?" Thor raised an eyebrow. "Are you a merchant of feminine hygiene products? Do you speak truly, are you fully absorbent?"

A chuckle arose from the silent crowd as Creel's face twisted in rage. Charging forward, he raised a fist only for Thor to grasp his wrist, hoisting the man above his head and slamming Creel into the ground as the asphalt splintered and shattered beneath the force.

"Arise my foe, let us continute to do battle." Thor taunted, motioning for Creel to approach with two fingers.

Scrambling to stand in the ever forming crater beneath him, Creel moved to charge Thor again only for the God of Thunder to step aside allowing Creel to awkward stumble past him. Roaring, the metal man turned and charged again, arms outstretched as Thor backhanded him across the face, tossing Creel aside like a ragdoll.

"FIGHT ME!" Creel roared as he steadied himself again.

"If that be your final wish." Thor smiled and charged Creel, leaping into the air as lighting swirled in the sky, meeting Thor's fist as he guided the bolt to Creel's face. A flash of light erupted upon impact and when it cleared, Thor stood triumphantly over his fallen foe. Creel's body slowly turning back to flesh and blood as he lost consciousness. Cheers exploded from the crowd as Thor bowed, leaping into the air as a gust of wind carried him over the rooftops, dropping him out of sight of the crowd. Dismissing his armor, Thor allowed himself to appear once again as Blake Donaldson.

Emerging from the alley, feigning his injuries, Thor stumbled forward, allowing himself to fall into the outstretched arms of Barbara Norris.

"I thought I had lost you." She stated a sigh of relief following her words. With a groan of agony, Thor replied in the guise of Blake.

"I think I'll leave the hero stuff to the professional from now on."
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Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Byrd Man
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Byrd Man El Hombre Pájaro

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Round 3

“This kid hits like a fucking frieght train.”

Ted Grant spat a wad of blood-tinged spit into the bucket at his feet. Ted let out a hiss as his cutman, Bobby Fallon, placed a cold enswell against his left jaw. The swelling there was so bad Ted was sure they could see it from the cheap seats. The thick black eyebrows of Ray Kelly knitted themselves together as he leaned into Ted’s ear.

“He keeps dropping his left when he’s going in for a hit,” he whispered in a rasp that came with sixty years of cigarette smoking. Ted smelled the aroma of Scotch on Ray’s breath as he spoke. It was always a bad sign if Ray was dipping into his hip flask this early into a fight.

“This kid’s a fucking puncher,” Ray shouted as the ref called out for five seconds before the fourth round started. “You’re a goddamn boxer, Ted. There’s a difference. Go out there and box.”

Ted stood up from the stool and took a deep breath before Bobby popped the mouthpiece back between Ted’s teeth. His corner stepped back to walk towards the center ring where his opponent awaited. The crowd hooted and hollered as the two fighters began again. Ted could make out the kid through the haze of cigar smoke that hung through the air. Ten years younger, an inch taller, and with ten more pounds of muscle: Battlin’ Jack Murdock stood as a mocking testament of the passage of time. No matter how good Ted had been, there would always be someone better to take his place.

Like a spent gladiator,
Crawling in the Colosseum dust,
Who can count on his remaining limbs,
All the people he can trust.
Like the one who stands behind him,
Cheering him on.
Ecstatic when he stands defiant,
Wild with abandon when he's gone.

Round 6

Ted stepped backwards as the lumbering frame of Murdock pressed him. Twenty years dancing around the ring led to an acute sense of where he was and how close he was to the ropes. He couldn’t let Murdock get him pinned against the ropes. If he did that, the kid would go to town on his ribs and face. He was already dealing with enough as it was. Ted could feel the swelling on his jaw had worsened in the three rounds since Bobby had treated it, and a spot just above his eyebrow Murdock was tagging every chance he got. No way he could make it the whole twelve without the fucker busting opening and bleeding.

He felt the ropes tickle his back as Murdock went low with a punch to the gut that Ted warded off with his right, tagging Murdock with a quick left jab to the chin. The blow knocked the younger fighter off balance for a moment and Ted felt a surge of excitement. He saw an opening to bring in his right cross, the same right cross that had once taken out three of Slam Bradley’s teeth in one blow. He reached back and prepared to deliver what he hoped was the death blow. He saw Murdock’s eyes brighten as the kid realized what he was trying to accomplish. Ted’s cross ended up being deflected by a quick block from the kid. Ted cursed himself as the bell rang and the round ended.

“Too slow,” he said as he sat back down on the stool in his corner. Bobby started to work on his bruises and developing cuts as Slam spat out his mouthpiece. “I’m too fucking slow and too fucking old.”

Just stay alive.
Keep your eyes on the palum, and stay alive.

Round 10

The ref looked down at Ted. He was saying something, but Ted couldn’t make out what. It wasn’t until he saw the fingers that he knew he was counting. He was counting to ten and Ted was flat on his ass.

“SIX!” The ref shouted over the sounds of the crowd. He held up a full five fingers plus one.


The ref stopped as Ted got to his feet. He pulled Ted in close and looked into his eyes to make sure Ted was all there.

“That’s your one, Grant,” he shouted. “Next time you drop, I’m calling it.”

Ted shook his head in reply and smacked his gloves together. Jack Murdock watched with a hint of a smile on his face. This late in the fight a knockdown was pretty much curtains of Ted. The fight so far had been pretty evenly contested that if it went the distance, his knockdown would be the clincher for the judges.

“Have a nice nap, pops,” Murdock said with a smirk. “Ready to go again?”

“Ready to go again is what I told your mother last night,” Ted said with a bloody grin. “Just before I fucked her in the ass.”

The smile on Murdock’s face vanished. Ted smiled and winked.

“Come on, junior, let’s finish this up before you gotta take Lulu to the box social or some shit.”

Stay in the game.
Just try to play through the pain.
Like a fighter who's been told it's finally time for him to quit.
Show up in shining colors,
And then stand and there and get hit.

Round 12

Jack Murdock was in the punishing mood. Ted’s crack in the tenth was like putting chum in the water for a shark. Ted danced around and tried to cover himself as the kid assaulted his sides with blow after blow. Ted could feel the cut above his eyebrow was starting to trickle blood along with sweat down his face. This was the end for him. He was sucking air and on his last leg, a bruised and bloody mess, but this kid was like a goddamn machine. He had no intention of slowing down or stopping his barrage.

Murdock was going to win the fight by decision, that much was for sure, but he wanted to make a statement. He wanted to knock Ted out. As Ted did his best to fight off Murdock’s punches he had a thought. It wouldn’t do to just win by unanimous decision or even TKO. The papers and the columnist were declaring Battlin’ Jack Murdock the next big thing, the future heavyweight champion of the world. At thirty-two, Ted was yesterday’s news. He’d been champ, but that was now five years ago. He was the past and Murdock was the future.

And Jack Murdock knew how important it was to score a knockout on an ex-champ. Ted had revved him up for sure, but he would go for the knockout blow if he could. And Ted could use that to his advantage. Ted shuffled back towards the corner, letting Murdock push him towards it. Nine rounds ago Ray had issued a piece of advice about the kid dropping his left when he went in for a big hit. Ted had been watching and waiting. Ted was almost to the corner when he saw Murdock drop his left as his big right hand started to wind up for that big haymaker. He was faster than Ted in almost every way, in his punches, blocks, and footspeed. But twelve rounds of relentless fighting slowed anyone down.

Ted saw his window and pushed for every last ounce of his energy as he swung wide with a right hook that connected with Murdock’s temple. The punche stopped the kid’s attack at once and dazed him. Ted connected with a powerful uppercut that knocked the kid flat on his ass. The crowd got to their feet and roared as the ref stood over Murdock and started to count. Ted raised his gloves and looked at the crowd, his face covered in blood and sweat. Murdock sat up, but the punchdrunk face that looked at the ref was enough. The ref stood up and waved his hands.

“It’s over!”

Ted felt Bobby and Ray come up from behind and hug him. Ted broke away from them and walked towards the corner of the ring. He climbed to the top of the corner and held his hands up for all to see this old, past his prime fighter basking in victory one last time. To the young upstart the lesson was clear: You do not fuck with Ted Grant and get away with it.

Stay alive.
Maybe spit some blood at the camera.
Just stay alive.
Stay forever alive.
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Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Dark Cloud
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Dark Cloud When the spaghetti is done just right.

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Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Hillan
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Hillan I'm a writer - Lying's what we do.

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Gotham City, 22 Years Ago.

The monorail was riding into town from New York, onto the Island outside of Jersey. The island known as Gotham City, America's Fourth biggest metropolitan area, second-to-last in primary education results, lowest amount of teenagers who graduate from high school and the highest mortality due to violent crime in the world. You were more likely to get shot in Gotham than you were in war-torn Sokovia or any of the destabilized areas in Africa and the Middle East where Warlords ran free. For Rebels, Freedom Fighters, Warlords, and hell, even terrorists believe in something. They answer to something greater. And they fear consequences for their actions. They believe in being in the right, in being just. That one day, they will have to stand to answer for their actions. That one day, someone, something, will hold them accountable.

In Gotham, there's no such thing. The criminals in Gotham do not believe in any god worth fearing. They don't believe in political motivations or in any ideals. Their thirst for violence and their greed seems all but infinite. The 26 year old heir-to-billions pondered this, as he sat on the train looking worn down. He had just gotten back from his travels, taken the flight into Jersey and the train out into Gotham - there had been a bombing at the Archie Goodwin Airport. He shook his head. There was nothing quite like being home.

The train rolled into the station, and at the station stood his dapper butler, well dressed in a three piece suit, as always. A smile crept up on the heir's face as the butler saw him and smiled gently at him. It had been four years since they had last seen each other. Bruce had seen the wonders of the world. But, perhaps more important he had seen the wonders within himself.

He knew what he was going to do, now that he was back home. He had a mission, a purpose. It wasn't to return to his father's post as head of Wayne Enterprise. He had left Gotham as a notorious bachelor, a playboy who had more money than sense. A man who was known for spending money on fast cars and totaling them - walking out of the wreckage with a supermodel on either arm. All of that was just a bandaid. A way to take his mind off the pain, off the sorrow, the anger. To contain white-hot flame that burned inside of him. But he wasn't afraid of the fire anymore, no, he gladly placed his hand on top of it, feeling it's sting.

"Master Bruce. I'm glad to see you home safe." Alfred said, ceremonoiously, reaching for Bruce's bag, who in turn held the bag away from Alfred, instead going in for a hug.
"It's good to be home, Alfred." Bruce spoke, softly. Alfred hugged his ward, his eyes getting more narrow as he caught a whiff of the billionaire.
"You smell repugnant, Master Bruce." Bruce chuckled
"It's gunpowder. And sweat. Lots of sweat." Alfred smiled and scoffed
"Well, I'm glad you're home safe, Master Bruce."
"I'm not planning on staying safe for long, Alfred. We have work to do." Bruce's words were strong and sure. He had never once been more convinced of anything in his entire life.

Four years Later
In the gutter outside of Falcone's Bar sits the man, drenched in his own cape. Blood running from his mouth, he can't move his left leg and he's so tired and bleeding so much that he can't really move at all at the moment. His gloves right hand's knuckles have been beaten raw through the reinforced material, torn apart from him grinding his knuckles against something - or rather, someone. As around him there lays a dozen knocked out and broken men, and next to them there's their weapon of choice. Tire irons, knives, machetes, butcher knives, handguns, a couple sawed off shotguns and four submachine guns can be spotted easily. Upon closer inspection, you can tell his leg can't be moved because there's a piece of rebar sticking through it.

The cloth covering his face is torn over the left side of his face, revealing his dirty and wet hair from the rain, the rain running down blood from his forehead onto his eyebrow, dripping onto his cheek and then washed onto the stone tiles. In the window to the bar, another two goons were knocked out, heads smashed out of the window from the inside. And the further into the room you would move, the more thugs you would find, all beaten within an inch of their life. Hours later, the GCPD would ransack the place and along with millions of dollars worth of contraband, they would also find 37 known criminals, plus six suspected new recruits into the Falcone family. It's the most devastating blow to the organized crime circuit in Gotham City since Edgar J. Hoover.

But for the man in the cape with the now broken pointy ears? It was the culmination of ten years hard work. A four year long crusade on the villainous scum of the world. It was his war. It feels like the end. And in a way, it is. If the wrong police cruiser had pulled up to the scene, the masked vigilante would be met with a swift bullet to the brain and a falsified report. But luckily for him, Detective Jim Gordon was the one who stepped out of the cruiser, his partner, Harvey Bullock searched the back of the place while Jim covered the front. The found the Bat-Man in the gutter and carried him away from the scene, and supplied him with first-aid, before helping his partner.

The Bat removed his cowl and cape, Jim would dump them and when the ambulance arrived, all they would find was a man wearing a reinforced motorcycle getup who had gotten in bad with the gang. A fictive story about the billionaire being mugged by the Falcones before the masked vigilante swooped in and saved the day would make the newspaper. And Bruce Wayne became the first high-profile person the Batman would have ever saved and the Batman was immortalized as a symbol of hope and wide-spread social change in Gotham, for after the incident the entire city got invigorated for a time, and started fighting back against the superstitious and cowardly lot. He had finally given the criminals of Gotham something greater than their greed or thirst for violence. He had brought them fear.

And all it cost him was his pride... And his leg. The media would dub the Falcone Bar assault as testament to the supernatural nature of The Batman, for no one man could have done something like this.
No one man... The statement planted the seeds for a plan inside the recovering Bruce's mind, he and his three adopted sons had their future set for them.

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Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Simple Unicycle
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Simple Unicycle Human Enigma

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The Punisher
Deja Vu

The first thought that crossed my mind when I pulled up to the Stardust was that I got the wrong address.

I was expecting a seedy strip club in the Bronx, a place where the drinks are cheap and the lap dances are cheaper. Crooks, degenerates, and scumbags gathering around to drool over girls half their age as they dance around a rusting pole with enough clothing to cover what's important and not much else. That seemed like the type of place that would be run by mobsters and where a no good sack of shit like Jimmy Rossi would frequent. But instead, I found myself standing outside a high end nightclub in Manhattan, bathing in the white light of the sign proclaiming "Stardust Lounge" as I looked through tinted black glass walls.

A line stretched out half a block outside the door, with the diversity of a bowl of M&Ms: hipsters, businessmen, mobsters, college kids all standing in line trying to ignore each other. A man with the height of a basketball player and the build of a linebacker searched everyone before letting them through. With my low expectations of where Rossi would hang out, I hadn't even considered that there would be a bouncer. Instead of joining the ever growing line of clubgoers, I headed straight for the alley between the Stardust and a drug store.

A single guard stood outside a door leading inside, a greaseball in a suit with oiled hair, a pistol on his hip and a cigarette between his lips. He leans against the wall and flips through a superhero gossip magazine emblazoned with the words "BATMAN'S CONFESSIONS: WHO HE'S SLEPT WITH MAY BE SHOCKING!", occasionally humming in slight amusement. I stride up to him and he swivels his head at the sound of my footsteps, raising a brow at me as I draw closer to him. "Hey, no loitering bud. You want inside, stick in li-"

I reel back my fist and give him a hook straight to the nose, hearing a sharp crack as it crumbles under the pressure of my punch. He falls to the ground with a grunt of pain and I give a hiss and look at the fresh cut on my knuckles, droplets of blood leaking out and mingling with his own. I walk over to his head and raise my foot above it.




His head caves under the third stomp, deflating like a popped tire. I pant slightly and lean against the wall, scraping the pulp and brain matter off my shoe and onto the asphalt. Bile rises in my stomach as I stare down at the clumps of hair, meat, and bone that used to be a man's head. A man with a family. A single eye lays amidst the mess, intact despite the brutal stomping. It stares up at me, as if asking me, "Why?"


Because I have a job to do.

I straighten my leather coat and open the door, walking through it and into the club proper. My welcoming committee is bright lights blinding me and blaring electronica deafening me. Sensory overload. As my eyes adjust to the lights, I see a crowd of the club's patrons dancing to the music, a swarm of sweaty bodies meshing together with fingers in hair and lips on skin. I circumvent the dance floor and head for the booths and tables. That seems more like Rossi's style than the quasi-orgy happening on the dance floor.

"... And that's when I says to him, 'hey, Paulie. You got them meatballs?!'" A nasally voice drenched in a comically thick Brooklyn accent pierces through the music and hits my ears, the roaring laughter afterwards like a blip on a sonar radar telling me where to go. I stalk closer to the source, the feeling of icy cold rage rushing through my entire body and just getting worse the closer I get.

Jimmy Rossi is lounging around in the middle of a circular booth with four of his friends, all mob types from the looks of it. A pyramid of shot glasses is in front of him, while from the looks of it his buddies are all still nursing their beers. Either Rossi's a hard drinker or these aren't even friends, just bodyguards who are doing the bare minimum to humor their boss. Doesn't matter. They're dying all the same.

I walk up to the table. "Jimmy Rossi?"

He turns to face me, quirking a brow while sneering. "Whaddya want, you fuckin' no good chink? I'm tellin' a fuckin' story here, huh!"

"I want you to pray to whatever God you believe in because you're about to go and meet him."

Rossi's buddies are staring at me warily, reaching for their pistols. Rossi laughs. "Is that a threat?"

"No." I pull out my twin Berettas and level one at his head. His eyes widen. "It's a promise."

The gunshot pierces through the music and screams break out. Rossi's brains don't have time to hit the wall before I'm leaping away from the booth and landing back first onto a drink cart, riding it away while firing at his friends. Their bodies shake as the bullets tear through them. The drink cart is stopped in its tracks by ramming into a pillar, sending me to the floor with a grunt. I look up and see the crowd that was on the dance floor pouring out of the club.

In the middle of the crowd is a group of men in black suits pushing against the tide while barking orders at each other: "Get that motherfucker!" and "Evacuate the fuckin' crowd!" are the only two orders I hear before the rest is drowned out by the music and screams. I pick myself up and run onto the dance floor, hopping over the DJ's turntable and taking cover behind it. I hear a click as the song ends and a small arm reaches out and replaces the record, a new one beginning.

Gunshots hit the turntable. I run out from behind it and fire at the group of security guards, taking two down before flattening myself behind a pillar. Shit, how many were left? Seven, eight? I can't fucking tell. All I can tell is more bullets hit the pillar that's acting as my cover. Over the music, I hear footsteps coming for me. I duck down, round my cover, and fire off two shots right into the running guard's stomach; he slips and onto the floor, a pool of blood seeping out from beneath him and staining the glass.

A storm of bullets rush towards me and I roll behind another pillar, feeling a sharp sting in my shoulder. I look and see a bullet hole leaking blood. Shit.

I peek my head out from the other side of the pillar and quickly count. Seven guards. One of them sees the top of my head and raises an SMG to fire at me. Quickly, I duck my head back behind the pillar just before a burst of rounds fly right by where my head just was. Grunting, I pull a flash grenade out from my inner jacket pocket, stolen from the SWAT armory. It's the only one I have, but it would have to count.


Pull the pin.



The flash grenade clatters across the dance floor and rolls towards the guards. "BANG! COVER YOUR EY-" The flashbang goes off. My ears ring like I just had a Howitzer go off right in front of me, but my vision is crystal clear. I round the corner of the pillar and fire at the guards. One goes down with a bullet to the head, clean kill. Another takes four to the chest before dropping. The third takes a few to the chest and limbs before a shot to the head puts him down. Fourth man goes down with a shot right through the heart.

I don't hear a gunshot but I feel the sting of one hitting me right in the calf. I fall to the ground and look up to see that the last three actually covered their eyes and can see clearly. I roll on my side away from them and come to a stop against a set of stairs leading up to a second floor. I fire at one, putting him down with a kneecap, and scramble my way up the stairs, counting the steps as I go. Twenty steps.

I check my magazines. One is fresh out, the other has two shots left. I check for spare magazines and realize I forgot to bring any along. Shit. I holster my empty Beretta and grip my near empty one with both hands. There's two more guys. I'll have to make these two shots count.

I flatten myself against the wall and hear the sound of footsteps coming up the stairs.

Five steps.

Ten steps.

Fifteen steps.


I jump out at the guard that just climbed up the stairs and tackle him to the ground. He shouts in mingled pain and anger, flailing out wildly to hit me. I pistol whip him once, twice, and he stops fighting. I stick the barrel of the gun into his mouth and fire. One down. One shot left.

That now familiar sting of a bullet hitting me courses through my body again, originating from my thigh. I stumble backwards and roll down the stairs, banging my head against the steps. As I lay on the ground at the bottom of the steps, the last guard stands over me, pistol pointed at my head. "Any last words you fuckin' prick?"

"... Sorry about the knee." I raise my pistol and fire my last round into his knee. He screams and falls to the ground, dropping his pistol. The gun slides across the dance floor away from us. I stand up and loom over him, watching him writhe in pain for a bit. I put a stop to it with a few stomps to his head.

I lean against the wall and slump down, panting from exhaustion.

"... I'm done."
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Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Sep
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Midgard was once a world with Pantheons upon Pantheons, more Gods than many other worlds combined. The small, seemingly insignificant rock adrift in space a nexus point for various realms to come together. Over time some faded into obscurity, others left the realm altogether. While others continued to play with their influence on the world, subtly interacting with the world according to their grand design. This is not the tale of one such God. This is the tale of…


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

Now he had a different purpose.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“It would be my honour, Alison.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Hidden 4 mos ago 1 mo ago Post by Roman
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Roman King of Dirt

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Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Sep
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Sep Admiral EvilScottishGuy

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"You call yourself the Flash, you wear his colours. Yet you aren't him, the lightning bolt was never meant for you. You are nothing, the history books won't even know your name. Now tell me, where is The Flash?"

Lightning coursed through her veins, wind through her hair. The speed made her free, her feet making contact with the ground for mere fractions of a second before they pushed off again. Iris West was the fastest woman alive, and her head was devoted entirely to the moment. Images coursed through her brain far faster than any normal individual could process them. Stumbling slightly as the image of Eobard Thawne appeared, a familiar pull of fear at his face. Terror at his voice and the pain of what it cost to bring him to justice. It cost her more than she ever could imagine, and yet she still felt as if Thawne had won, in the end. Shaking her head, regaining her footing a sonic boom rumbled through the Sahara Desert as she once again picked up speed.

“We can use your abilities to better everyone.

A pang of guilt, as the voice of her first mentor, appeared. Harrison Wells was the first person to truly understand what had happened to her, or at least the first one to figure out pieces to the puzzle. She couldn’t help wondering if he was right. Her body seemed to generate limitless energy, her body could heal in minutes what it took others days and that was to speak little of her metabolism. If they could somehow find a way to replicate her abilities, she could help millions of people all over the world, perhaps even billions. Yet something stopped her.

“Really, you’re the Flash? No. Come on, where is he. Where’s the Flash?”

Doubt. Self-doubt and the doubt forced upon her by others, as the ocean spray peppered her face she could faintly remember the memories from the other life Barry had shown her. One where he had become the Flash, the same one that Thawne had come back from the future expecting to see. Now that future was gone, and all that was left was her, and the destiny she chose for herself.

“The thing is, I’ve felt it every time you’ve been in trouble. I have a sense for these things, this force that helps us run it connects us and you, you have the potential to be far faster than I ever was.”

A strange sense of pride swelled within her, and she could almost feel Jay Garrick running alongside her. The Original Flash, having served the United States and her allies during the second world war, while she had lost everything else she had gained Jay and his insights into not just how to be a hero but where her powers came from, and what it meant to be a good person. Her footing steadied and paced increased as she hit the beaches of Italy, powering through the country scenes in Syracuse.


As Iris felt the heat of the sun bearing down upon her, she could remember how the sun looked in the upper atmosphere as the Silver Surfer raised her up into the atmosphere. She may have decided to take the heroes path but something out there had decided she was a threat or a potential prize and she wasn’t sure what scared her more. With the power that the Surfer wielded all she knew was that she was going to have to be ready.


It was funny really. Eobard Thawne wanted nothing more than for her to die, to not become the Flash and yet his insistence on trying to stop her only drove her further to accept the title, the name and the responsibility. While his outfit was modelled after the Flash of his time, the emblem on her chest was designed to specifically be the opposite of his. Iris was everything that he was not, everything that he couldn’t possibly become. He had made her doubt herself, yet she had taken back her right. The edges of her reality started to blur as she passed through the English countryside in the blink of an eye.

“Get help. Don’t do it alone.”

Alone was how she felt, alone was how she was. As she tore through the snowy plateau in Greenland the cold started to bite at her skin. Nipping at her, bringing her back into the moment. Yet in the back of the head she knew, she had no choice but to be alone. Trying to fit in, trying to interact with people in their normal perception of time wasn’t always easy and quite often required focus. How could she not be alone?

“You really need to get that Eobard Thawne out of your head.

Even with him dead and gone, or gone from this point in the timeline or whatever else had happened to him. Iris couldn’t but help but feel weight down upon her as she powered through the Russian wastes. As much as Iris realised her purpose, and in her heart she knew that being the Flash was her destiny, Thawnes tendrils still clawed at her.

“Listen. I’m the Flash, I’m the Fastest Woman alive, not that any man comes close. It doesn’t matter how I gained my powers anymore, what matters is that I bear the mantle. A mantle you created, and a legacy I intend to live up to.”

“Lightning flashes, sparks shower; in one blink of an eye, you have missed seeing."

Thunder sounded in the distance, lightning flashed and she opened her eyes panting. Eyes frantically looking around her surroundings for anything that she could recognise through the dark. Breathing out she could see her breath which was when she began to realise how completely and utterly cold it was. What the hell was going on?

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

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3:15 PM

Carmine Falcone scowled as he stepped out the back of his limo and headed inside the lobby of the Blüdhaven Four Seasons. As bad as Gotham was, Blüdhaven was a real shit-hole. It'd always been in Gotham's shadow, and it was easy to guess why. The town wasn't even a third the size of Gotham, but the city's crime was almost on par with Gotham's. He had a few business associates here, but nothing too serious. You could make money but it was just chump-change to a guy with rackets like his. Plus this place was like the goddamn wild west with all the hits and drive-by shootings that went on. It wasn't civilized here. The criminals who ran this place were savages. Fuck Russo, he thought. Sending him out all the way out here for this meeting.

Falcone headed through the opulent lobby with two of his bodyguards flanking him. They headed to the conference room where Falcone and his men were the last to arrive. The ugly son of a bitch with the square head was already waiting. Hammerhead sat at the table with three of his men behind him. They looked impassively at Falcone and his guys, sizing the three mobsters up.

"Here he is," a voice from the head of the table said with a touch of humor in his voice. Billy "The Beaut" Russo, acting boss of the Gnucci Family, walked towards Falcone and warmly embraced him. Falcone managed a strained style as he patted the younger man on the back.
"You look good, Carmine. Come, have a seat."

Billy was all of thirty-one when he took the reigns of the Gnucci Family from their matriarch. Ma Gnucci got sent up for life at the women's state pen. Since that time Billy had turned the sinking mob family around. He'd gotten a good deal when the families split up Maroni's territory. With confidence, ambition, youth, and now prime territory, Billy Russo was a comer. And he was starting to become a threat to Falcone.

After swapping pleasantries with Falcone, Hammerhead finally asked the question. "Out with it, kid," he grunted. "The hell are we doing here?"

"Exactly," Falcone said as he lit up a cigar. "What's so goddamn important we had to come to the state's sewage pipe to discuss it?"

"Batman," Russo said with a glint in his eyes. "It's time to get rid of him."

"Great plan," Hammerhead said sarcastically. "Why the hell haven't we thought of that before?! We kill Batman, and that's the end of it. Wow, you're a fucking genius."

"Funny," Russo said. "But here's the thing: you've sent killers after him and they've all failed. I finally got the right guy for the job."

Falcone exhaled a swirling plum of smoke from his mouth and looked at Russo, his eyelids have closed. "Hammerhead said the same thing six months ago. That weird fuck with the target on his head."

"That was the problem," Russo said. "You sent killers. The man I have for is so much more."

"That explains it," Hammerhead said with a sigh. "I figure that's why you called us here. Afraid the big, bad bat is listening."

"You can never be too careful," Russo said with a nod.

"How much," Falcone asked, stubbing his cigar in the ashtray beside him.

"Pretty cheap. Only a half mil from all of us."

"A half mil?" Hammerhead asked with a raised eyebrow. "Just a mil and a half for this job? It cost us five mil for Bullseye. Why's this guy cheap?"

"He gets off on it," Russo said. "Thrill of the chase and all that. He's here. Let me bring him out."

Both Hammerhead and Falcone stared at the man as he came in. His outlandish outfit threw both mobsters for a loop.

"This guy?" Falcone asked with a laugh. "He looks like a goddamn acrobat, not a killer."

"Killer is not what you need," the man said with a slight Russian accent. "Killer is what you used before. Killer will not work. You have animal problem in your city, you do not call killer..."

"You call hunter."
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Hidden 4 mos ago 1 mo ago Post by Roman
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Roman King of Dirt

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Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Lord Wraith
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Lord Wraith Leaf on the Wind

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

S U N D A Y, J U L Y 1 S T, 2 0 1 8 - 0 8 : 0 1 a m | H O M E O F B L A K E D O N A L D S O N & B A R A B A R A N O R R I S

"You should risk your life more often."

Barbara's voice broke the silence in the kitchen where Blake was currently standing, listening to the birds sing their song. Leaning against the railing of the staircase leading to their bedroom, Barbara was only wearing one of Blake's t-shirts tossed haphazardly over her slender, shapely figure, the tease of her black barely-there underwear peeking out from underneath. The morning sun illuminated her golden hair as she smiled at her lover when he turned to listen.

"Don't get me wrong, you've always been good." Barbara continued as she walked into the room, straddling a stool on the island adjacent to where Blake was standing, in front of the fridge, a carton of milk pressed to his lips.

"But last night... wow,"

"I've got some pretty high standards for you now, Dr. D," She cooed. "It was like you were a whole other person, and the way you held me, so firm and... Like have you been working out?" She asked biting down on her lip as Blake smiled back at her, putting the milk carton away as he moved around the island. Outside, the wind had begun to howl as the skies became overcast, the kitchen becoming notably darker while rain started to pelt against the windows.

Standing over Barbara, Blake leaned down, pressing his lips against hers. She pressed back, her hands wrapping around his shoulders as his hands found their way beneath her and hoisted the smaller woman onto the island. Outside thunder boomed as lightning illuminated the room. Blake's lips departed from Barbara's, moving to her earlobe, then her neck before continuing their way down her body as she let out a euphoric moan while another roll of thunder shook the house.

"Oh my... God!"
° ° ° °

Fastening the last button on her blouse, Barbara looked over at Blake as she lifted her long hair over her shoulders.

"You know, we're going to be late for church now right?" She stated before pausing as Blake pulled on a t-shirt.

"Is that what you're wearing?" She asked with a small giggle. "I know the church has a whole, 'Come As You Are' policy, but at least wear something with a collar."

"Right..." Thor replied with a pause of his own. "We go to church..." He stated, the words feeling foreign in his mouth.

"To worship, Jesus Christ." He continued, reluctantly pulling his shirt off and looking through 'his' wardrobe for something with a collar.

"You say that like it's the first time you've heard it." Barbara teased, "It was your insistence that we start going so we 'didn't disappoint your parents'." She raised her hands, making 'air quotes' with her fingers as Blake finally found a shirt that was both comfortable and had a collar.

"Wait," Thor stated suddenly as Barbara turned towards the door, stopping as she turned and shot him a mildly annoyed look.

"We're not married," He continued, "And we just had sex, before going to church? Isn't that a little... sacrilegious?" Thor asked with a smile as Barbara rolled her eyes.

"Really, now you want to talk theology?" Barbara snorted. "You know very well we're only going to keep the peace with your parents. Now c'mon, if I have to give up two hours that I could be back in bed with you, then the least we can do is not make a scene by walking in halfway through the sermon."

"Eh," Thor muttered. "Don't know what got into me." He chuckled as the pair left the house, walking down the front porch towards the large pick-up truck in the driveway. Walking around the front of the truck, Thor made his way towards the driver's door before Barbara whistled at him.

"Yo! Tall, fair and handsome." She yelled mockingly, "Get your ass in the bitch seat, you're not driving my truck."

"Your truck?" Thor blurted out, undeniable surprise plaguing his words. The conflicting memories in his head were rather difficult to sort out and Thor was quite surprised that his reincarnated self would ever have been driven around by a woman.

"What's that supposed to mean!" Barbara snapped back. "I sure as hell didn't buy it for you. You chose to drive your dinky little hybrid. Sorry if I'm hurting your manhood." She stormed while climbing into the driver's seat.

Looking at the 'dinky little hybrid' in question, Thor rolled his eyes.

"That's not going to do." He muttered only to be nearly deafened by the horn of the truck.

"GET IN!" Barbara yelled as Thor took hold of the door, gingerly opening it so as not to damage the new vehicle before climbing inside. "God, what has gotten into you."

"I've just been," Thor paused, "Thinking about making some lifestyle changes."

"Can you do it on your own damn time." Barbara teased, the edge in her voice lessened but was still notably there. "Look, I know being attacked, hell, seeing your life flash before your eyes, it can be traumatizing if you need to see someone-"

"Babe, I'm good, great even," Thor assured her as they pulled up to the church. Climbing out of the truck, music could be heard from the open windows even with the sound of the cicadas echoing out over the nearby cornfield. Entering the church, Thor reluctantly accepted the bulletin from the usher as he and Barbara tried to sneak into the back row.

Sitting down, Thor felt Barbara begin a sigh of relief before the air was suddenly drawn back into her lungs sharply as an elderly man turned around to look at Blake.

"Y'know son," Erik Donaldson's voice was loud and clear even as the worship team continued their praise to the 'one true God'. "No one likes a back row Baptist, 'specially a late one."

"Sorry Dad, we were-" Thor looked at Barbara who motioned for him to say something. "A little tangled up." He spat out as his dad shook his head.

"If you get that woman pregnant, I'll march you to the altar myself with a shotgun," Erik stated flatly before smiling at Barbara. "Always a blessed day with you around of course though, Barbara." Turning back around, Thor balled his fists in and out, his nostrils flaring.

Outside, the thunder rolled again causing Thor to suddenly sit up in his seat, the sky lightening outside as he took a deep, calming breath. It was going to take some practice to regain control over his powers again, especially without Mjölnir.

"Weather sure has been weird today huh?" Barbara whispered as she looked out the window. "Must be one of them meta-humans."

"Must be," Thor muttered his reply as the worship team left the stage only to be replaced by a man in a short-sleeved collar shirt and a tie. "And here we go."

The sermon was admittedly short to what Blake remembered, and Thor was quite grateful for that. As the service ended, Thor and Barbara bid Blake's parents adieu before they paused and looked at them confused.

"You're not coming for Sunday dinner?" Erik asked as Marcy stood beside him. "Your mother made pot roast, son, it's your favourite."

"Sorry, Dad," The word felt both foreign and familiar in Thor's mouth as he spoke it. "Thought Barbara and I might take, well a, rain check." He continued, Barbara noticeable flinching as the words made Marcy's face scrunch up in an expression that Thor didn't quite comprehend but Blake did.


"What on Earth could you be doing that's more important than making your mother happy, son?" Erik pressed, his hands in his pockets but his shoulders were pointed forward, an aggressive stance that Thor quickly matched, folding his arms over each other as his biceps swelled. Blake couldn't remember a time that Erik had ever struck him, but Thor wasn't about to chance being sucker punched by a mortal.

"I, uh think we should be going," Barbara stated as she not so subtly tugged on Blake's arm. "Always a pleasure, Mr. and Mrs. Donaldson." She added, waving as the couple turned and headed back towards her truck.

"What the hell kind of stunt was that? You pick Sunday, of all days, to stand up to your father." Barbara hissed as Thor shot her a glare.

"No mere man shall speak to me in that manner." He growled as Barbara took a step back, confusion covered her face as she looked up at him. The skies began to darken again as rain showered the pair prompting them to scramble inside the truck.

"You're not okay, Blake." She continued. "We're going home, and tomorrow you're coming down to the Sheriff's Office and I'll get the staff therapist to squeeze you in."

"That's not necessary," Thor replied, brushing her off. "I told you, I've never felt better."

"Bullshit, Donaldson," Barbara stated. "Tomorrow, you're getting help."
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Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Lord Wraith
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Lord Wraith Leaf on the Wind

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We all wear masks, and the time comes when we cannot remove them without removing some of our own skin.

Location: The Batcave - Wayne Estate, Bristol County
Welcome to the Masquerade #1.02: Growing Pains

Interaction(s): None
Previously: False Faces

“You’ve been doing this for far too long for me to have to babysit you, McGinnis.” Bruce growled, leaning heavily on his cane as he paced back and forth in front of the wall of monitors that made up the screen of the ‘Batcomputer’. A high pitched screech was followed by the leathery flapping of wings as the bats which occupied their namesake cave flew overhead, their slumber disturbed by the elder’s man’s volume.

“That was sloppy work tonight,” Bruce snapped as he continued to berate Terry. Every step the old man made was matched by the large dog beside him. Black as the night, Ace was more than enough to make even Gotham’s most seasoned crook second guess his next move. Clearing his throat, Wayne launched into another verbal lashing as Terry could do nothing but listen to his mentor tear him down.

“I can’t believe you allowed yourself to be shot. You should have never deactivated the cloak on your suit. It could have been a clean takedown, but you had to quip, you had to gloat.”

“The suit took the blow.” Terry protested by Bruce raised a single finger to silence him.

“That’s not the point, McGinnis!” Bruce retorted, “Your brashness allowed one of the False Faces to get away, that’s another piece of trash back onto Gotham’s streets. Another gang banger free to continue to sell stolen drugs back to the junkies and dregs that line the back allies of this god forsaken city.”

“Bruce, I-”

“I’m not done yet, McGinnis!” The old man interjected silencing his younger protege again. “When I started this mission, this war, when it was me out there, I was alone. I had no one to rely on, there was no one was watching my back.” He stated before taking a breath and continuing. “I worry I’ve coddled you too much, made you too reliant upon my eyes and ears. You’re not prepared, you’ve not yet made the sacrifices it takes to be Batman.”

“I’ve done everything you asked and then some, that’s not fair!” McGinnis spat back as Wayne stood defiantly before him. Even leaning on his cane, the elderly man was eye level with Terry. In his prime, he would have been terrifying without the cowl let alone with the mask. It took everything Terry had not to blink as the pair stared each other down, Wayne’s gaze still able to make Terry’s skin crawl.

“Life isn’t fair, you know that.” Wayne retorted, the growl gaining more of an edge. “If it were, you’d still have a father.”

Silence fell over the cave, broken only by the bats overhead as the two men stood nearly nose to nose. Terry felt his first curl as his eyes looked down for a second, noticing Wayne’s white knuckles as his fingers threatened to crush the cane grasped beneath them.

“Terry, I-” Wayne began, his tone softening only for Terry to take a step back, tossing the Batsuit down on the nearby table.

“Should probably check the suit for damage, synaptics felt sluggish on the way home.”

“Circuits might not be making full contact, it would reduce the response time,” Wayne replied as he pulled up a chair. “You should get some rest, Ace and I will handle this,” Bruce added, nodding towards the sizeable Dane mix pacing the floor behind him.

“Uh thanks,” Terry replied, the pain of Bruce’s words still stinging as he rubbed the back his head, “Goodnight, Mr. Wayne.”

“Goodnight, McGinnis.”

Next Issue: Meet Cute
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Hidden 4 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:School Day // Wooly Hat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

“Together we will accomplish wonderful things.”

Loki couldn't help but smile.

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

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The jeep bounced up and down the poorly kept dirt road with a cloud of dust following in its wake through the countryside. The driver of the jeep chattered away in French while the young, dark-haired man in the passenger seat barely listened to him. Instead the passenger's eyes were focused on what lay ahead. The road began a slow and steady incline towards the peak of Mount Cameroon. The volcanic mountain was one of the premier spots for big game hunting in Central Africa. Everything from lions, elephants, chimps, and wild hogs mixed together in diverse bioshpere. The young man knew if he wanted to find a serious hunter, he would be here.

"Nous sommes arrivés, Monsieur Wayne," the driver said as the jeep skidded to a stop outside a grass hut.

"Oui, je vous remercie," the young man replied in flawless French. Two years "studying" in Paris had left him with a fluent understanding of the language. He handed the driver a handful of African Francs. The grabbed the canvas bag behind his seat and stepped out of the jeep. "Ce sera tout. Je peux le prendre à partir d'ici," he told the driver.

"Très bien. Ce vieil homme est fou. Vous avez besoin d'aide, tu m'appelles," the driver said with a nod.

"Oui. Je vais le faire, George."

The driver of the jeep reversed the vehicle and began back down the dirt road. The young man watched the jeep disappear down the road before turning to the hut. While he had his back turned a man had appeared out of nowhere with a rifle in his hands.

"Explain yourself," the man said in a slight Russian accent. He slid the rifle's bolt action and cycled a round into his the chamber. "Two seconds before I shoot you dead."

"My name," the young man said in English, his hands raised and his palms out "is Bruce Wayne. I came to speak to Sergi Kravinoff."

The older man looked at Wayne with narrowed eyes before he pulled his rifle back. "You want Kraven, richboy? You have found him. What do you want?"

"I seek knowledge," he said, and then softer said, "training."

Old Gotham
8:04 PM

I was crouched in the shadows watching the lone gunman from a safe distance. Shortly before five this afternoon he walked into a daycare and proceeded to take the staff and a dozen toddlers hostage. The cops had been involved in a standoff for a little over three hours. Major Gordon stood outside supervising the scene, but word from Gotham Central was that new commissioner Peter Pauling was getting antsy. His orders were pretty straightforward: Give Gordon an hour to negotiate . If that didn't work SWAT would bang down the doors. The only way that ended was with dead bodies and bullets.

There's a better way. I managed to infiltrate the police perimeter with ease and slip into the daycare unnoticed. I'd been stalking the hostage taker ever since. The fourteen hostages, twelve of them scared and frightened children, were huddled together in an adjacent room.

"Attention!" Gordon's voice boomed through a megaphone outside. While his voice carried his tone was hesitant. "This is Major James Gordon with the GCPD... You have forty-five minutes to come out with your hands up or we will... we will breech the doors."

The gunman began to pace and fidget nervously across the floor. I stayed still and watched as he wildly swung the pistol in his hands. A child in the following room started to cry. The gunman ran his hands through his head and started to exhale in short, fast breaths. He growled and started towards the room where the crying child was.

"Can you shut that goddamn kid u--," he stopped short as my forearm came out the shadows and struck him in the diaphragm. The gunman gagged and grasped for breath. I slapped the gun from his hand and drove him to the ground with a forceful thump, my left knee pressed into his throat.

"Run!" I shouted to the workers in the room next door. "Take the children and get out of here, but be careful!"

As the hostages and children began to leave the daycare I had the gunman pinned to the floor. He tried to claw at my leg and find some sort of purchase, but he was too weak. "Please --gaak -- lemme go. Just following orders."

I relented my grip and leered at the hostage taker. "What?"

"Russian guy," he said weakly. "Told me he'd kill my family if I didn't come in here and take people hostage."

I slammed my fist hard into the floor just inches from his head. "Why?!"

"I... I don't know!"

Heavy footsteps were coming in the next room. I let go of the kidnapper and disappeared just as a cop came into the room, her gun out. "I found him," she cried out. "He's in here!"

While the members of the GCPD began to fill in the room, I was already out the daycare and on the roof of the building across the street. Someone threatened that man to take hostages. Why?

As Batman headed into the night, a pair of eyes watched him from a hidden vantage point. The man he had forced into service was adequate at doing his job. It had given him a chance to stake out the Batman and watch him in action. He was good. Patient, methodical, and ruthless when he needed to be. He needed more chances to watch his quarry, but for now Kraven the Hunter was convinced that the Batman would be a most worthy prey.
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Hidden 4 mos ago Post by DocTachyon
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DocTachyon Teenage Neenage Neetle Teetles

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New York City, NY --- The Daily Bugle Building

The Daily Bugle had never been a paper of particular repute. In Ben’s words they were mostly two-bits, preying upon the stories and hardships of the working person to string together a rag just barely strong enough to get pity purchases. A paper that would never rise out of the shadow of the New York Times, or even The Daily Planet over in Metropolis. There were no Pulitzers out of The Daily Bugle. Yet still, the Bugle’s investors gave it enough strength to have its own building, a blazing pillar of neon red against the black of the night, proclaiming a half-hearted message of ‘freedom of the press’, or something like that. It was a towering monolith to slipshod reporters everywhere, and unfortunately, it was the one place Peter Parker had to be tonight.

He crawled along the brickwork, fingers tracing the inlays and channels of it was he went, trying to make sure he was on the right floor. With his luck, he’d wind up smack-dab in the middle of the security office. He crept up the side, checking each window for signs of a floor number inside as he passed.

”Finally! Half worried I was gonna run out of floors.” Peter mumbled to himself as he stuck his fingers to the plate glass. He could feel it in all its detail through the fabric of the suit, every minute imperfection in the surface of its construction. It felt raw and uneven to the touch, and improperly seated in its housing, by the way it jiggled underneath his fingertips. One push and the window crashed silently into the thickly carpeted editorial office.

Peter flipped off the windowsill and onto one of the plaster pillars supporting the few floors above this one. It was an ocean of cubicles stacked high with keyboards and reams of paper, spilling over with pencils and multicolor sticky notes. There was one light source in the far corner; a corona of blue monitor screens and ancient mounted Tube TVs playing a half dozen twenty four hour news channels. Peter dropped from the pillar and began snaking between labyrinthine cubicles. Editor’s office. A fine place to start.

The office was separated from the rest by a thin wall of wood-framed glass, and all was silent but for the steady din of sleepless newscasters. Can’t turn these off when no one’s here? Save the planet, man. The door was frosted glass announcing the editor of this department, “Jameson, J. Jonah; Local News”. Peter tried the handle and popped the lock as he twisted, forcing the door across the carpet.

“Anyone home? The Spider-Scouts brought thin mints.” Spider-Man said. There was a flash of movement in his retinas and he was on the wall, scuffing the craquelure wallpaper and aiming both hands at the slowly turning swivel chair that sat before a network of interconnected monitors. No Spider-Sense again? Thing really must be bugging out on me…

“I hope you have cash in that kooky costume of yours, those locks aren’t cheap.” The man that turned to face him had salt and pepper hair that stood up like a paintbrush, and thick bushy eyebrows that gave shelter to two eyes that shone like burning coals in their darkness. He had a thick block of a mustache, and one hand on his wireless mouse, with the other on the meanest cigar Peter had even scene, unlit, with its end chewed to hell and back.

“Woah, picklepuss! Why are you here? They won’t let you shave that dead rat off your face without a hundred hours’ overtime?” Peter’s shoulders slumped and grinned beneath his mask. At least he doesn’t keep a gun in that desk. “Spider-Man assaults working stiff.” Great way to get my name out there.

“You’ve got thirty seconds to tell me why I shouldn’t call the police.” The reporter rolled his eyes and turned back to his monitors. He jammed his cigar between his teeth, stabbing at the gel caps of his keyboard. Peter tapped his palm and a glut of webbing stuck Jameson’s hand to his keyboard.

“Christ, the nerve of you to--” Jameson’s response was cut short as another glob nailed his other hand to his desk.

“Shh, Spider-Man talking now.” Peter dropped to the floor and his suit receded across his leg, revealing the battered copy of The Daily Bugle pressed to his thigh. He threw it onto Jameson’s desk. “Old man gets shot and left for dead. Bugle are the only ones to report on it. What do you know?”

”You think I remember every story that passes across my goddamn desk?” Jameson spit the cigar out in a cloud of spittle. It bounced across his desk. Peter shook his head.

“It is your byline, Triple J, and I don’t think you’re at the age for dementia just yet.” Peter dropped to the floor and knelt beside a neglected file cabinet, buckling under the weight of the dozens of folders stacked atop it. Peter sorted through them, tossing them into the trash as he went.

“So? You think I’m gonna help some webhead punk like you that muscles his way into my office?” Jameson grunted. He strained against the webbing, his feet dragged on the cheap carpet as he tried to gain leverage.

“Well, I was just gonna search your office, but why go without your pithy commentary?” Peter said. He turned from the folders and zipped to the ceiling, considering Jameson as he sat upside down. The man’s neck veins bulged as he fought the webbing, struggling with every ounce of his muscle. “The faster you tell me what you’ve got, the sooner you can see your whole paintbrush-head family.”

“Murder rates are up fifty percent this year, and I have more assholes like you flying around this city every goddamn day -- I don’t even know who the hell you are. You expect me to remember how some no name took a bullet?”

Peter’s hand cracked against Jameson’s desk and the corner splintered into a shower of sawdust. “Say that again. One more time.” Peter felt a tickle across the back of his mind, ice brushing his head. Is that…? No. No way.

“I’m not afraid of you. You go viral swinging around for five minutes and suddenly you --” Peter focused as Jameson droned and the sensation grew in his skull, spreading across his senses, at once unifying and dividing them. Hairs prickled on the back of his neck. Spider-Sense. His eyes flashed out the window, scarcely detectable from this height, but Peter saw the pulse of red and blue.

“What did you do?” In an instant Peter was on Jameson’s desk, scattering a hurricane of documents. Jameson howled, rocking back as far as he could in his seat.

“You really thought I didn’t already call the cops? Amateur. NYPD’s shitting themselves over the chance to grab a freak like --” Jameson was silenced with a burst of webs before he could finish and Peter closed his eyes, reaching out with his sense. The tendril fibers of his suit tuned and resonated, searching for a way out. Thump of jackboots up stairwell, safeties being released outside, rustle of equipment behind cubicle walls… Perfect, they already rolled out SWAT.

Peter opened his eyes and saw the PA microphone astride Jameson’s desk. His eyes flitted across the room, back to the file cabinet. “I really hope you don’t need that for anything.”


“Hold position…” Voices crackled over NYPD closed comm channels as SWAT officers tightened their grips on their rifles. Over response for a B&E, sure, but the promise of a bag and tag of a live mutant or meta-freak? The bureaucrats wanted a win, and by God would the NYPD deliver. Armor rustled as the officers shifted, double checking armor and munitions. They were sheltered behind and beneath desks, automatic rifles poking out from cubicles tracked the figure that bobbed and weaved inside the editorial office. Another squad would be up the stairs in moments, and then they could --

Four speakers situated at the corners of The Daily Bugle’s 42nd floor began to thump, in steady time with a drumbeat.

“What the hell is --?” The plate glass of J. Jonah Jameson’s office exploded behind the force of an steel filing cabinet, launched through the glass and exploding into fine metal shrapnel across the pillars strewn about the office.

“Contact! Contact!” Rifles chugged through their magazines as a black and white specter emerged from the shadows of Jameson’s office, swinging through the air on white strands of webbing. Spider-Man landed like a bomb, sending chipboard particles flying in the air as he grabbed an NYPD officer by the collar, hauling him up and webbing him to the ceiling.

The unit was already in chaos between themselves, diving between cubicles and ducking under each other’s gunfire. Peter pulled a monitor off of its housing and flung it like a frisbee, it exploded across the chest of the nearest officer and he was gone again in the shadows, barely revealed by orange bursts of gunfire.

“Guys, I swear this song was supposed to be White Wedding! I promise!” Peter’s voice was almost lost to the report of the gunfire and the thump of the beat, bullets trying to find him amid the office space and whizzing off into random directions.

“Where is he?” A stapler detonated into a million pieces against a riot helmet and another officer fell, slumped against a pillar.

“I can’t see shit!” Peter was a tornado through the newsroom, slinging tight packages of OfficeMax goods and laying high tensile weblines, clotheslining cops as they ran in the madness.

“Hold this.” Peter launched an officer from the skyscraper with a shove, the man dropped three stories before catching on a hair thin strand of webbing, but Peter was already gone, webbing another SWAT officers hands together and bowling over another pair with his body.

“Hey! Backup is cheating!” A steel door flung upon as more officers piled into the destroyed office, trampling over paperwork and the dropped forms of their friends as they hit cover and thumbed their safeties. Peter flicked his wrists and the stairwell slammed shut with a gout of webs, smashing back a half squadron of SWAT goons.

Peter was in the air again, webbing cops to printers and walls as he ducked and dived through the gunfire, weaving between the bullets as if they weren’t there at all.

“I’d love to stay boys, but I’ve gotta run. Early Spider catches the worm!” Peter slid beneath a cubicle and pounced up and over one of the last officers, thrusting into a front flip off of his shoulders and through the plate glass of the Bugle’s window, into the cool New York air.

The bursts of shots died in the background as Peter swang, webline to webline, faster and faster, further and further.

No leads? Check.
Hatred of the news? Check.
Property damage? Check.
Assaulting the cops? Check.
This superhero thing is working out great…
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Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Byrd Man
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Byrd Man El Hombre Pájaro

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Ural Mountains

The two men lay flat on their stomachs on the snow-covered mountain ridge. They had each come into the mountains with very little supplies three weeks ago when their hunt began. A few weapons and a rucksack with clothing, but no food and no water. They would find their sustenance on the mountain, the same mountain would provide shelter. The only thing they carried now were their hunting knives and the rifle they shared. They opted for knives most times to conserve ammunition. At last count only six rounds were left.

"I see something," the younger man, Bruce Wayne, said under his breath. Like his partner, he wore white camouflage and his face was covered in a frost-speckled beard. A large brown bear stepped out of the snowy woods and lazily plodded towards a stream below. Bruce saw the dark markings on the bear's hindquarters and knew it was the same one they had been tracking for the past week.

"This is your kill," the man to Bruce's right said. For the past six months Bruce had been under his wing. The legendary man they called the Hunter had already him so much about tracking, scouting, and of course hunting. The only hunting Bruce had known prior to this was duck hunting with his uncle once when he was a teenager. And even that had only entailed shooting at a pack of birds as someone else found them and stirred them up. Thanks to the Hunter Bruce could not only hunt, but also survive and thrive in some of the harshest wilderness this planet had to offer.

The Hunter cycled a round into the rifle and began to hand it to Bruce before he stopped himself and laughed. "I forgot. Man who wants to be hunter, but not use guns. For you there is only one thing."

Bruce pulled his hunting knife from its side holster. It was ten inches and had a serrated blade. "Me against a bear with nothing but my knife... Kraven, are you sure?"

"What is the first rule of the hunt?"

"'Know your prey, watch it. Study it, get inside its head. Know it like it were you own flesh and blood.'"

"Da. For past week, we watch, we study. We see bear in fighting. We know bear's every movement, we know how bear thinks. That is most valuable weapon, worth more than a thousand of my rifles."

"You're right."

Bruce began to slowly creep through the snow. He was stopped as Kraven grabbed his ankle. "I will watch," he said with a nod. "If need be, I will but bear now... but then again, maybe not. When I was in Spetsnaz , we had saying when we did not live up to expectations: 'Иногда вы едите медведя, а иногда медведь ест вас.'"

"What does that mean?"

"'Sometimes, you eat bear and sometimes bear eat you.' In your case saying is quite literal, no?"

"Yes," Bruce said as he began to crawl towards the bear. "Quite."

Wayne Tower

"Oh, Bruce, let me introduce you to one of our newest ADAs... Pretty young thing. Maybe even a potential candidate for the seat in the upcoming election."

"And me without my checkbook handy. Maybe they won't want to talk to me..."

Mrs. Van Patten, actually Judge Van Patten, laughed and took my hand. I followed behind her and let her lead me through the crowd gathered in my penthouse. The Thomas & Martha Wayne Charity Fundraiser, a black tie event that I was hoping to turn into a yearly gala. All proceeds were going to helping lower income Gotham residents find permanent work, affordable housing, and any medical treatment they would need. I may be doing... interesting work as Batman, but the work as Bruce Wayne is just as important, if not more important, to the future well-being of the city.

"Bruce Wayne," Mrs. Van Patten said as she stopped in front two people. A tall, handsome man in a tux and a shorter, blonde haired woman beside him dressed in a navy evening gown. "I want you to meet the District Attorney Office's newest star, Miss Janice Porter."

The blonde woman smiled and held her hand out for me. I shook it and grinned. "Well, the judge said you were a pretty one. I had no idea she had a habit of making understatements."

"Oh, Mister Wayne," Porter said with a laugh. "I'm flattered, by both your words and Judge Van Patten's. This is my fiancé, Henry."

I shook hands with the man accompany Porter and nodded. "So, the judge tells me you may have eyes for the DA seat?"

"That's putting the cart before the horse. I've only been in town for a few months. Lots of factors to consider, and the election is a long way away."

"Well, if you're ever interested in making a run I have lots and lots of disposable income, and like most people with too much money I like to meddle in politics. If I like what you have to offer we can work out a deal."

"I'm flattered, I really am. But for now--"

She continued to talk, but something across the room caught my eye. Someone with their back to me but with an unmistakable frame.

"--so just take a rain check."

"Will do," I said with a nod. "It was a pleasure meeting you both. If you'll excuse me."

I walked through the crowd and caught snippets of conversation as I navigated through the social scene.

"--missioner Pauling is just in it for the pension now, milk more time until he can retire--"

"--blepot is supposed to be coming back to town with some new business venture. His father, Chester, was always such a good businessman--"

"--And Mister Fields, let me introduce you to Miss Felicia Hardy--"

"Excuse me," I said as I approached the man. "I'm looking"

"You seek someone," the man said. He slowly turned around and revealed his face. Years had passed and there was more gray than I had remembered, but I would never forget the face and cold eyes of my one-time mentor. "And you have found them. Hello, richboy," Sergi Kravenoff said with a smirk.

"Kraven," I said without any warmth in my voice. "What are you doing here?"

"Not so happy to see me? We may have not parted on the best of circumstances but you were still my friend."

"You didn't answer my question," I said. "What are you doing here?"

"The hunt, my friend. Always the hunt. It calls me to Gotham."

"But there's nothing to hunt in the city," I said with a skeptical look.

"I am working for a client. They wish to bag big game. They call me in to hunt."

"What are you hunting?"

"I am--"

"Pardon me, Master Bruce," Alfred said as he approached us. "Councilman Dickerson is requesting your presence."

"Duty calls," I said with a glance towards my awaiting guests. "Enjoy the party... "

"I will try. If only you would serve vodka. Drink of real men, not champagne."

"I'll see what I can do."

I nodded and followed Alfred through the party. "Soon as you can, Alfred, I want you to pull the guest list for me. See who has plus one invitations and run those people through the computer downstairs, combing through their recent financial history. Look for large amounts of cash that have been withdrawn within the last thirty days. After that talk to security about the man I was talking to and see if he came here alone or with a guest."

"The large Russian?"

"Yes. He's here tonight on business, I know it. First rule of the hunt, Alfred: Know your prey. Watch it. Study it. Get inside its head. Know it like it were your own flesh and blood.'"

"Inspired poetry, sir. But who is he?"

"Sergi Kravenoff," I said, turning to look back at him. His eyes were watching me, unblinking and focused. "And he's one of the most dangerous men in the world."
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Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Lord Wraith
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Lord Wraith Leaf on the Wind

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Then he fuckin' dies too."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Donaldson Farm.
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Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Lord Wraith
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Lord Wraith Leaf on the Wind

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We all wear masks, and the time comes when we cannot remove them without removing some of our own skin.

Location: Gotham State University - Founder’s Island, Gotham City
Welcome to the Masquerade #1.03: Meet Cute

Interaction(s): None
Previously: Growing Pains

Chatter could be heard across the open campus space as it echoed between the buildings that enclosed it on all side. Words filled with gossip, weekend plans and the latest accomplishments of the Gotham Knights were all nearly indiscernible from one another as they rang out within the ever growing din.

A groan escaped from between the lips of Terry McGinnis as he lowered his head onto his crossed arms. The cold surface of the metal table was soothing against his tired eyes, the same eyes which now protested in agony as the sun continued to rise high above the Gotham skyline. For a brief moment, Terry had been able to forget about the Gotham State University student body that all around him hurried every which way. But the noise had brought him back to reality as Terry raised his head to watch the other students move between classes as they passed through the quadrangle.

Slumping back in his chair, Terry let his head fall backwards, squinting as the sun threatened to blind him. A disgruntled groan emerged from his loosely slung jaw as his personal pity party was interrupted by a familiar voice.

“You look like shit, Terry.”

“Good morning to you too, Max.” Terry replied before lifting his head as he corrected his posture. Smiling in response, Max flicked a straightened strand of bright pink hair out of her face before taking a seat across from Terry. For as long as Terry had known Max, she had always coloured her hair in the same shade, and it worked for her. The bright bubblegum presenting her with an eye-catching contrast between her hair, her warm, amber eyes and her rich, umber complexion.

Placing her bag down on the table, Max turned and smiled towards a nearby redheaded girl, who Terry only know noticed seemed to be waiting for an invitation. Before he could make the motion, Max eagerly waved her over, gesturing for the girl to take the seat directly beside her.

“Terry,” Max began gesturing to the girl beside her, “This is Carrie,” Max smiled before nodding back towards Terry. “Carrie, this is Terry, he and I have been friends since sophomore year.” She stated before quickly correcting herself, “Highschool sophmore year, not-”

“I follow,” Carrie replied with a smile towards Max as she adjusted the green frames on her almost comically large, oval glasses. “Be a little weird to introduce a friend from last semester like that.”

“Max is a little weird.” Terry smiled before realizing Max was shooting him daggers across the table. “Er, until you get to know her that is-” Max’s look only intensified as Terry scrambled to correct course only to thankfully be rescued as he felt an arm wrap around his neck.

“Hey, Babe,” Dana smiled as Terry turned to look at her. His eyes slightly widened as Dana’s nose crinkled while she looked down at him. “Terry, I don’t mean to be rude but-” Dana paused, lowering her voice to a hushed tone before continuing. “You look like shit this morning.”

“So I’ve heard.” Terry replied dryly as Max put a hand over her mouth, stifling her laughter while Dana took a seat.

“Mr. Wayne has you working all hours of the night, does the man not sleep?”

“I’m sure he does,” Terry replied solemnly before a smirk crept into the corner of his mouth, “‘Cept it’s while I’m at school.”

“Terry, that’s horrible.” Dana stated, her bottom lip sticking out in the slightest of pouts giving away her obvious dissatisfaction. “We’re young, and we’re fun, I can’t have my boyfriend falling asleep between every class and at every party.”

“Remember when he fell asleep with a drink in his hand?” Max interjected with a smile. “Spilled all over his lap, never seen Terry move that quickly.”

“Not my finest moment.” Terry muttered as Dana put a hand to his cheek.

“Forget about it, ask for this weekend off.” Dana pleaded, now emphasizing her bottom lip. “Everyone else is entitled to time off, why aren’t you?” She asked, “Besides,” She paused, leaning forward as her lips brushed against Terry’s ear. “I’ll make it worth your while.”

“Uh, guys? Right here!” Max exclaimed from across the table, waving her arms at the pair while Carrie looked down, the freckles dotting her face disappearing beneath a flush of crimson.

“I don’t think we’ve been introduced yet,” Carrie suddenly spoke up as she stood and extended a hand towards Dana, “I’m Carrie, Carrie Kelly.”

“Dana Tan, Terry’s girlfriend.” Dana replied, her tone almost icy as Terry looked up at her curiously. Drawing her hand back, Dana brushed a few strands of her dark hair behind the nearest ear as she waved a hand towards Terry not-so-subtly instructing him to move so she could sit on his lap.

“How’d you two meet?” Dana asked motioning between Terry and Carrie as Carrie’s face suddenly went red again. A small cough from Max broke the awkward silence, as Dana turned her eyes towards the other woman.

“I introduced them this morning,” Came Max’s voice as Dana turned her head towards her, “Carrie and I have been hanging out for a while now, so I thought it was time to introduce her to my friends.” She continued, reaching towards Carrie as she took hold of her hand and gave it an affectionate squeeze.

“Oh, you two-,” It was Dana’s turn to blush as flustered words tumbled out of her mouth, “I didn’t realize, I’m so sorry.”

“It’s cool,” Carrie replied. “Max already told me I’m her first.” She added, adjusting the lime coloured glasses again. “This was hardly the most awkward introduction I’ve had.” Carrie stated, allowing herself a small giggle as Max smiled.

“I’m happy for you,” Terry nodded towards Max, wrapping an arm around Dana’s waist, “Both of you,” He nodded towards Carrie with a smile. “Any friend of Max’s is a friend of ours.”

“Thanks,” Carrie replied before glancing at her cellphone as she looked at the time. “Sorry guys, I’ve got to run, but it was a pleasure to finally meet both of you.” She added, placing a quick peck on Max’s cheek, Carrie stood before disappearing into the throng of students that filled the quad.

“I like her,” Dana stated as Terry scoffed. “What?” She asked, her tone indignant as she turned towards Terry who held up in his hands disarmingly.

“Don’t mind him,” Max replied waving a hand towards Terry, “And thank you, Dana, I appreciate it.”

“The Dean’s Office does not reflect the wishes of the student body!” A voice suddenly roared over the din of the quad. Turning to look, Terry’s eyes were drawn to a figure who had climbed atop a central table, megaphone in hand as he shouted over the numerous conversations that filled the open space.

“Your school is managed by bureaucrats and magnates running back alley deals with your tuition. The highest bidder controls future, dictating who will receive their degree! It is sickening!” He was working himself into a frenzy now, “Education should not be a privilege held by gatekeepers, it should be a right to all!” The young man roared, his volume only growing as people stopped to listen.

“Who is that?” Terry muttered as he and Dana both turned to look at Max. Returning her gaze with an exasperated look, Max let out a reluctant sigh as she answered.

“His name is Lonnie Machin, big proponent of the old ‘anti-establishmentism.’ He’s all over all of the school’s boards under the alias ‘Moneyspider.’” She stated, raising her hand as she put air quotes around the alias. “But he’s harmless.”

“Good,” Terry replied in a low tone as Max smiled, acknowledging their shared secret. “Shit!” He suddenly exclaimed noticing the time. “I’m late for bio!”

Springing up, Terry hurriedly helped Dana to her feet before planting a quick kiss on her lips and scooping up his belongings.

“We’re still on for tonight right?” Dana asked pressing a perfectly manicured nail against his chest.

“You bet,” He replied before waving quickly towards Max, “Catch you around.”

“Will do, McGinnis,” Max called as Terry pushed his way through Machin’s listeners. “Ten bucks says he falls asleep in class,” Max muttered to Dana as the petite young woman spun around on her the heel of her ankle boot.

“Twenty and you’re on.”

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