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Houston, TX

Booster Gold landed softly on the roof of the Roxxon Compound on the outskirts of Houston. The heavily-armed, private security guards that patrolled that rooftop nodded stiffly at the superhuman newcomer. She could feel their animosity towards her. Not that she could necessarily blame them. If they brought someone in that could do her job better than she could, she would probably be just as annoyed. Granted there was no one that could do her job better than her, but she understood the sentiment.

"Nice to meet you too, gentlemen," she saluted and smiled.

"Up yours, meta," one of them called back.

"You kiss your mother with that mouth?" she asked as she was led into the building. It was located a few miles outside the city, and was located on Roxxon's first ever well. They had turned it into a kind of museum mixed with a design lab for future technology. Agger was sure that this would be a safe place for Irons to hide out and continue his work. It was defendable, separate from the city, and they could see anyone coming from a mile away. Still, there was something giving her bad vibes. Maybe it was just Agger. She didn't know. But there was definitely something wrong.

"Readings indicate that this facility is full of incredible technology, ma'am," Skeets chirped in her ear as he detached from her armor. "Doctor Irons seems to live up to his reputation."

Booster had done as much research on Irons as she could. Former soldier that served in the Middle East, but then came back and managed to get into MIT. There he got degrees in both mechanical and electrical engineering. If Tony Stark, Ray Palmer, and Reed Richards, among others, didn't exist, Irons would probably in the conversation as one of the smartest men in the world. As it stood, however, he was often overlooked. That's how he found himself working for Roxxon. He didn't have the private capital the other geniuses of the world did, so he had to work to prove himself.

"Yea, maybe we can get him to fix you," she looked at the robot slyly, who recoiled in horror.

"I am made from advanced future technology, ma'am," Skeets shook himself. "I do not believe that anyone in this time could fix me."

"Way to be humble, buddy."

"I do not believe you are one to talk on that front, ma'am," he responded matter-of-factly.

"Touche."

They were led by the leader of Roxxon's security detail, a man by the name of Williams. He looked back at her, "Sorry about my men up there. They're not necessarily thrilled about having enhanced back up."

"I get it," she shrugged.

"Nice robot buddy you got there," he added. "I got one at home. Plays my music whenever I ask her too."

"How dare you compare me to those antiquated things," Skeets was horrified.

"Whatever you say, Alexa," Williams chuckled.

He pressed a button on the wall and a gleaming, white panel split in half and opened onto a similarly immaculate lab. All around her as she stepped inside were automated manufacturing robot arms, welders, and workbenches filled with metal legs, arms, and torsos. She would have expected this kind of workspace to be dirty or grimy, but instead it was clean as a whistle.

"Doc's kinda a clean freak, to be honest," Williams whispered as they moved through the lab. That much was obvious, but so was the work of John Henry Irons. The mechanical limbs looked like a prototype of the armor she herself wore. That was impressive considering she had came from the future. Sure, they were bulkier and were several iterations behind, but Irons was on to something. She sure hoped that Agger was telling the truth when he said that they weren't weaponizing these things. They already looked like they could do some damage.

They turned a corner and she had to shield her eye from the sparks coming from a welding station. In front of it, a burly African American man sat controlling the welding arms from behind a protective barrier. Around his head she saw that he was wearing goggles to protect his eyes. As the sparks dissipated, she saw that he was putting the finishing touches on a completed suit. It was a hulking construct of metal, and she could tell that it was for mining.

John Henry Irons laid back and pulled the goggles off his head. She could feel the relief washing over him. He turned, revealing a face that seemed to be chiseled out of the same metal he had just been working with. If she didn't know better, she would have thought that he was a statue himself.

His deep, brown eyes narrowed at her, "Well, looks like my babysitter finally got here. How's it going, showboat?"

"Wow," Booster shook his head, "everyone is just so friendly here. Is it something they put in the food?"

"Sorry," he put his hands up. "Stressed after having to pick up everything I was working on and move it across the country."

"Sure," she nodded and presented her hand. "Booster Gold, pleasure to meet you, Doctor Irons."

He shook her hand with his oven mitt sized grip, "Glad you're here. And I appreciate you making sure one of my inventions didn't hurt anyone. Wouldn't have been able to live with myself otherwise."

"It's the job," she smiled. "What's that one do?"

He smiled with pride, clearly happy she asked, "Gives the wearer quite a bit of super strength, endurance, and durability. The idea is we'll get one guy to do the mining operations of twenty in a much, much safer manner."

"Quite impressive, sir!" Skeets flew over to examine the armor, before he shorted out and buzzed as he often did.

"Can you do anything about that?" she asked the engineer hopefully.

"Probably not," he shook his head. "I'm more of a nuts and bolts kind of guy. Not AI."

"Yea, that's what I thought you'd say," she sighed.
THE GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY

IN
RAMBLE ON



The four Guardians and their new charge tumbled through the darkness towards an unknown fate, before splashing down into a pool of clear, clean, and cold water. Thor came back up, breaking the surface with the small, green girl clinging tightly to his neck. Her grip was strong, but not strong enough to cut of his air. He was a god after all. It would take more than a child to take him down in such a situation. He looked back and met her eyes. She was scared. Of course she would be. But there was a determination to survive in them as well. She had to have that to have survived for this long in such circumstances.

He looked around, seeing that Rocket was now afloat on Groot, who bobbed up and down like driftwood in the calm waters. Quill treaded water next to them.

"Is everyone unharmed?" the God of Thunder asked his comrades.

"My guns better still work," Rocket grumbled. "I hate when they get wet. They're not supposed to get this wet."

"Seriously?" Quill shot back at the little mammal. "That's what you're worried about right now!?"

"They are expensive!" Rocket bared his teeth. "I understand that you don't appreciate the finer things in life, but that doesn't mean we can't."

"I am Groot."

"You're right, buddy, he is a simpleton," Rocket chuckled.

"He didn't say that," Quill rolled his eyes.

"I am Groot."

"Yea, that is rude. I agree," Rocket patted the living tree's head.

"Enough."

Thor's word rung through the cave with force, silencing their bickering. The three Guardians that were with him were strong and capable warriors, but they were still nowhere near what he would consider a team. During the days of Asgard, Thor had the Warriors Three, Lady Sif, and Heimdall by his side when he was on the battle field. There were none that could stand up to them when they stood shoulder-to-shoulder. Maybe one day Thor and these misfits would turn out to be just as strong of a fighting force, but the others would have to learn to work together before that would be possible. So far that was looking unlikely.

"Rocket," he started calling out orders, "can you find a beach? Or shallows where we can stand? If those creatures are here, and they find us like this, we will certainly end up as their meal."

"Yea, sure," was his response. "Let me just get a flare out. Should give us a clear view of the cave."

Suddenly, a blinding white light exploded before him and flew up, illuminating the domed-cave that surrounded them. Thor could see the hole they had just fallen through, as well as a beach about one hundred meters away, "There. A beach. Once we're there we can find our way out."

"Uh...we should probably get there pretty fast," Quill's voice was filled with fear.

Thor followed his eyes up to the roof of the domed cave. Where once had been what seemed to be black rock was now looked like a night's sky of stars. Hundreds of them gleamed down at the five of them in the cold underground lake. But they were not stars. They were the eyes of the creatures staring back down at them hungrily. There were more here than in the Asgardian cache on the dead planet. That much was for certain.

"Move!" Thor growled and the three swimmers were making haste towards the beach. The cold water slowed the others' movements, but not Thor. The cold was in his blood. He liked it. It fueled him. It gave him something to fight against, and that was always where he was at his strongest.

As they moved through the deep, black waters, he heard things falling around them. Usually one would have to worry about a cave in when hearing that in normal situations. This was no normal situation however. He knew the creatures were now in the water with them. More were joining with every swimming stroke. All it would take was one to get below the Guardians for them to end up a snack. They needed to get to that beach, and fast.

When they were merely yards from the beach, Thor felt a clawed, exoskeletoned hand wrap around his ankle and yank him below the surface of the water. He felt the girl panic on his back. She would not last long under the surface, and it would be easy for another creature to snatch her off his back and she would be gone forever. He would not let that happen. He reared back with his free leg and slammed it hard into the clawed appendage. He felt the insectoid's grip loosen as the arm popped off of its owner. Thor and his charge broke back above the water, where he found vines stretching from Groot's arms towards them. Thor grabbed hold, and the tree pulled them swiftly towards the shore.

Once they were there, he let the girl off his shoulders and he took Jarnbjorn off his back. All around them the creatures stormed their way.

"There's a cave back that way," Quill motioned behind him. "Looks like it leads...somewhere."

"That terrible choice of words is unfortunately the best we got," Rocket admitted. "Should we head that way and die in a small cave, or stay here and die in a big one?"

Thor's mind was racing with possibilities. The tunnel could lead to an ambush of more creatures. It could be a dead end. But it was probably the only chance any of them had to survive.

"Quill, you and Rocket take the girl through the tunnel. Find a way out. I will ensure this filth does not enter the tunnel."

"Thor, no," Quill shook his head. "You can't sacrifice yourself here. Not now. Come on, we'll all go."

"Nay, Peter Quill," Thor shook his head. "This is not where I die. But if it somehow is, I need you to find Niðavellir, the land of the dwarves. Tell them of the symbol we saw here. They will be able to tell you the rest."

"But-" Quill was cut off.

"No time for parting tears, fly boy!" Rocket yelled as he took his guns out of his holsters and began firing at the creatures on the ceiling who were now trying to cut them off from the tunnel. "We gotta go!"

Quill met Thor's eyes. The boy may have been a mere mortal, and not all that special of one. But he had courage, and sometimes that was enough to make one special. He would have died with Thor. The Asgardian could see that now. It was touching, even if he didn't think he deserved that dedication. He broke the gaze as one of the insectoids charged up the beach. Thor decapitated it with his large axe.

He walked backwards towards the mouth of the tunnel, swinging the great blade left and right, slashing through the exoskeleton armor of the approaching horde. None of them seemed to feel pain. There was only one, all-consuming goal, and that was to rip the Guardians limb-from-limb. They were like robots, alive only to finish their goal.

As terrifying as the situation would be for a mere mortal, Thor was not that. The blood that splattered on him after every strike Jarnbjorn was true seemed to empower him even more than usual. It was the berserker blood lust that he knew all too well. Often he would try and hide it, especially when fighting sentient beings. But now this was all he had to keep him alive. He would kill every single one of these abominations if it meant his comrades would escape unharmed.

Thor reached the cave mouth and set up a wide, powerful stance that would allow him to guard the entrance fully. The creatures may be able to get around him some other way, but he would kill all that tried him here. As he prepared for the next wave, a large rock from the cave flew by him and smashed into two of the approaching creatures. He turned to find the tree standing next to him.

"I am Groot."

"Thank you, my friend," he smiled mischievously. "It is an honor to fight by your side."


On the other side of the galaxy, sparks crackle around the mighty hammer Mjolnir.
WHere we at, people!?


She looked at herself in the mirror, unable to really grasp what she was about to do. She was a woman that had no idea who she really was, about to go out for a social meetup with a coworker. Was Sandy a coworker? Or was she Booster's boss? The hero honestly didn't really know.

Didn't really know. That was the story of her life at this point. She didn't know her real name. Didn't know where...or when she really came from. Hell, she didn't even know what kind of drink she usually ordered at a bar! She was a cypher to herself, how could she possibly have anything to say to another human worth their time?

She adjusted her shirt to make sure it looked as she hoped. Nothing more than a simple tank top and a pair of jeans to go with it. If she was being honest with herself, she had no idea what was considered fashionable in this time. She had seen so many different styles. This would, at the very least, be passable in the

"Ma'am?" Skeets's voice emanated from the door of the bathroom. She had gotten used to him not giving her much privacy. He was a robot, after all. He wasn't trying to be creepy, he just had no semblance of what was appropriate when it came to human behavior. "Are you okay?"

"Fine, Skeets," she shrugged. "Just getting ready to go out for a drink. What do people drink in 2019 anyway?"

Skeets buzzed for a second, "Bloody Mary's random fried food stuffed into them. Beers brewed less than five miles from where they are consumed. Whiskey."

"I think I'll stick with whiskey," Booster muttered to herself, the words seemingly springing from her subconscious. "Yea, that sounds good."

"Sounds good, ma'am," Skeets was apprehensive. "But that's not exactly what I meant."

She turned over her shoulder and looked at the robot, "What do you mean, then?"

"During the meetings today, you had two more reactions," the AI responded matter-of-factly. "Once when Captain America was mentioned, and once when Tony Star was. It didn't read differently on your vitals than when we first appeared in this time."

A long sigh escaped her as she thought about it. She knew that Skeets had been monitoring her vitals. Of course he was. The robot was attached to a suit of armor she never really took off. He knew when her heart rate spiked. Skeets hadn't brought it up to her yet. Maybe he did know a little bit about propriety. He didn't want to hurt her by bringing up things that made her uncomfortable.

"Yea, Skeets," she nodded. "I think...I think they're my memories. They're triggered by words, phrases, sights...different things. I don't know. But they hit me like a punch in the face."

"These seemed a little less intense than the one the other day with the news reports of Captain America killing that Stryfe character," Skeets added.

She thought about that long and hard. The vision that had come to her that day was the most intense that she had experience outside the initial one when she woke up in 2019.

Booster looked up at the robot and started, "When we saw that news report, I had the longest vision I've had yet. I saw the moments before I...before we were sent back in time. Parts of it at the very least. I was in a room. It was under siege. Captain America was there. He was giving me instructions. At least I think he was. But he was old. At least a few decades. Iron Man was there too. Then three people I'm not familiar with. An older guy in blue. An older guy in blue and red. And an older guy with white hair on the sides of his head. The three of them were working around some computer. You and I were in a transporter or something. I assume it was what sent us back to this time. As I said, Captain America was giving us instructions. Iron Man was preparing for something to come through the door of the room. I could smell ozone burning. Everyone else looked like hell. They looked like they had been through a war, and they were all on their last legs. This was a last stand. That much was obvious. Everything else was a blur. But before I was...transported, Cap said something to me. Something that wasn't clear in my vision. But it was important. As my vision began to be taken over by the time travel, something came through the door of the room. Ripped through Iron Man like he was a paper doll. That was the last thing I saw, I assume, before waking up in 2019."

Silence hung heavy in the air as Booster finished her story. It was something that had haunted her dreams since the day she saw it, but what made it even worse was the fact that she didn't know what it meant. The words that came from Captain America's lips were nothing more than the wind on a summer day on the beach. They were like trying to catch smoke. Each time she tried to figure out what he had said she just got a headache. It was maddening.

"I'm sorry, Booster," was all that the robot could respond with. "I remember nothing of our final moments from where we came from."

She looked over at him, "I kind of assumed that. If we ever get a chance to link up with Tony Stark or someone else who can fix you, we'll have them take a look."

"I would like that, ma'am."

"So would I," she nodded. Not because she cared about the robot's well being, but because she needed to know everything he had in his databanks.


The clinks of glasses and the hum of conversation floated in the back of Booster's mind as she shifted uncomfortably in the seat across from Sandy. She was wearing the same blouse from earlier, a shiny off-white, though a few of her buttons had been undone since she left work. Her hair, usually worn up while in the office, was now falling down to her shoulders in red, slightly-wavy cascades. It was lovely, Booster had to admit. Her gin and tonic rolled in her hand as she swirled her glass, and sighed, "It's good that this job pays well, because otherwise I dunno if I'd be able to take it."

Booster's eyebrow raised, "Dealing with me is that bad, huh?"

Sandy's freckled cheeks went deep red, almost matching her cheeks, with a blush, "Oh, I didn't mean it like that!"

"Relax!" Booster also spat up her drink from laughter. She had ordered a whiskey. Maybe it was something in her subconscious that told her she would enjoy it, and she really was. "I was joking."

"Not funny," Sandy shook her head at the superhero. "Pretending that I just pissed off the most powerful person I know isn't exactly ideal."

"Sorry," Booster was apologetic. "But I would figure Agger was the most powerful person you know. He is technically my boss, after all."

"Please," the PR rep rolled her eyes. "Agger's terrified of you. Only reason he looks so calm around you is because you make him money, and that cures all ills for him. But he's the reason I'd probably leave the job if you hadn't come around. Working for a company with big money sounds great at my age, until you really see how the sausage is made, and Agger is ruthless. When the world is moving away from oil, he's fighting tooth and nail to keep it alive. And even ignoring that...something else gives me the willies."

Booster was surprised to hear that, "You are a superb actress. In that meeting I would have thought you were behind him fully. But it relieves me you feel that way. The guy is slimier than a sea slug. Am I really the reason you haven't left?"

"Sure," Sandy nodded sheepishly. "We can do some good here, even if it's in the name of a shit company. But you need to be careful on this mission."

The superhero leaned over the table closer, "How so?"

"Agger is obsessed with Irons's project," she explained. "I've never seen him more invested in a single company project. He swears up and down that there's no desire to weaponize those suits, but I don't buy it. There's something fishy going on. At least I think there is."

Booster considered her words. It was nothing more than conjecture, and could be nothing more than Agger's normal ick factor. But if he really was involved with what was going on with the stolen suits, it meant he wanted to sell them to the highest bidder. Iron Man wanted to keep such tools out of the hands of those that would misuse them, but it tracked that other people would try to do the exact opposite. That was a scary thought.

"If something's going on, I'll figure it out," Booster comforted Sandy. "After all, who better to foil a plot than Booster Gold? I do it in my sleep."

Sandy's eyes narrowed at her suspiciously, "You can't fool me with that braggadocios attitude, Booster. You're hiding something too. And I'm going to figure it out."

"Well, when you do, let me know, would ya?" she responded, only half-joking.

Character Name


Kaldur'ahm
Aqualad

Character Age


17

Attributes & Abilities


Kaldur has the abilities of all Atlanteans possess thanks to their life underwater. He can breath below water, can swim and incredible speeds, has dense, durable flesh, and has enhanced strength, ranging towards super strength. Thanks to his time training under Queen Mera, he is also an accomplished Atlantean sorcerer. He has the ability of hydrokenesis, and can even form hard-water constructs, allowing him to turn water into bladed or dull offensive weapons. He can also generate electricity, not unlike an electric eel. He has also been working on the ability to speak to marine life, though he has far from mastered this. During his time training under Aquaman, he has become an accomplished hand-to-hand combatant.

Character Synopsis


Kaldur'ahm is the son of Atlantean Sha’lain’a and mutated human Calvin Durham. Calvin was experimented on by the villains Black Manta and the Ocean Master in order to have a man on the inside of Atlantis. While he was relaying information back to the Manta, Calvin slowly started to fall in love with the Atlantean way of life. More importantly, however, he soon found himself in love with the beautiful Sha'lain'a. He hid his true nature from her, and the two were married after a whirlwind romance. Nine months later, Kaldur'ahm was born to the joy of the two of them.

Kaldur grew up around the palace of Atlantis as his mother was a friend and handmaiden of Mera, the betrothed of Orin, king of Atlantis. As he grew, Mera saw the boy had a knack for Atlantean sorcery, and began training him when she could. As the years passed, he was joined under Mera's tutelage by the beautiful Tula, whom he quickly fell madly in love with. The two were Mera's prized pupils, and King Orin began to take a liking to the boy as well, and began training him in martial arts.

When Kaldur was in his early teens, Ocean Master and Black Manta launched their master plan. With the intel that Calvin had supplied years ago of a secret passage into the palace of Atlantis, Manta and his shock troopers attacked Mera and Orin, keeping them pinned down. Meanwhile, Ocean Master, the king's brother, attacked with his forces outside the city. Without their king and leader, the forces of Atlantis were disorganized. Calvin, though he had long ago abandoned his mission, realized his information had been used against his new home, admitted to his wife and son who her truly had been once, and rushed off to help the king and queen. His son, not missing a beat, followed close behind.

When they reached the throne room, they found the royal family near defeat. Father and son joined the fray, though they stood little chance. Kaldur used both his sorcery and his fighting skills in order to drive back the shock troops, but Black Manta proved to be too much for Calvin. The Manta killed Kaldur's father right in front of the boy, before beating Kaldur senseless. The young Atlantean was saved by a resurgent Orin, and the Aquaman repelled Black Manta before leading Atlantis's troops in victory over the Ocean Master.

After the battle, Orin offered Kaldur a place at his side as his protege. Kaldur accepted, and has worn the mantle of Aqualad ever since, protecting the Earth next to the Aquaman.

Location: United Nations Building, New York City



The crisp, clean hallways of the United Nations Building felt more alien to Kaldur'ahm than anything he had seen in his years since breaching the surface and becoming a part of two worlds. How the surface dwellers loved their straight lines, white walls, and shiny floors. He didn't understand why they wanted things to be so...sterile all the time. The buildings of Atlantis were swirling, sweeping works of art that cradled you in their embrace. They were as alive as the beings that lived in them. Here they were nothing more than a space you closed yourself off from nature in. He would never understand it.

Still, he was here on important business, and as strange as they still were to him, he enjoyed working with the people of the surface in order to advance his king's goals. Orin had sent him in his stead to brief the UN's science committee on ongoing ocean cleanup efforts between the two peoples. It was going well, even if there were some southeast Asia countries that could be doing more to stem the tide of plastics entering the ocean. Still, things were improving, and that was good news.

"Kaldur," the lead of the UN science team, a Doctor Khatri from India, smiled and shook his hand. "We're so glad to have you here."

"King Orin and Queen Mera send their apologies," he smiled politely at her, knowing he was not their first choice to address the gathered delegates. Orin, the Aquaman, just held far more sway of these kinds of people. Kaldur was not bitter at this. It was merely fact. The King of Atlantis was far more prestigious and inspiring than the King's squire. But the Aqualad would do his duty, and do it well. For that was what his king had charged him. "I do hope the scientific council are not too disappointed to be briefed by a sidekick."

"Oh!" she was taken aback with surprise. "Not at all! In fact I think it will reassure everyone that there is another generation of Atlantis ready to stand for our efforts in the future."

The thought brought a slight smile to his face. After all that had happened over the years, from Orm's attempted takeover of the surface, to Black Manta's repeated attempts to destroy Atlantis, it heartened Kaldur that the two peoples were creating a lasting partnership for the betterment of the planet. Aquaman always said that people were stronger together, and Kaldur took pride in the fact that he himself was helping to bridge some gaps.

"That is a welcomed point of view, Dr. Khatri," he nodded to her. "Whenever you are ready, I have my address prepared, signed off on by the King himself."

"Well, that's just great!" she smiled broadly. "If you want to follow me, we can get on with it right awa-"

A low rumble jostled through the building, and everyone around Kaldur'ahm fell into a deep silence. His eyes narrowed to worried slits. After a few moments, a pair of UN guards began trotting down the hallway towards him. The first snapped to attention, "Sir, we've been ordered to inform you that you...uhh...may be needed, sir."

"There's no need to salute me," Kaldur waved him off, embarrassed. "What's the situation?"

"Something unknown beamed down into the city," the other guard filled him in. "That's about all we known so far. We can give you the location."

"Thank you," he nodded to the pair of them before turning to Dr. Khatri. "My apologies, Doctor. Our address will have to wait for another time."

He headed off back to where he had left his water pack, knowing he would need it to deal with whatever was going on in the city. As he retrieved it, he fought the urge to call King Orin. The king had more important matters to attend to, and Aquaman had made it clear to Kaldur that he needed to try and stand on his own more.

"Kaldur," the king's voice echoed through his head, "you have served me well. But the world now needs you more than I do. It is time for you to start carving your own path, past failures be damned. It is time for you to become the man you were meant to be, and the hero the world needs you to be."

Kaldur'ahm was not sure if his king was correct, but he had his orders. He pushed aside any trepidation he felt and prepared himself for battle. He would not fail his king. He would not fail Atlantis.
THE GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXYY

IN
RAMBLE ON



The air in the cave was stale and damp, with more and more humidity as the four of them moved deeper into the bowels of the planet. The warm, wet air led Thor to believe that there was plenty of fresh water beneath the surface of the rocky planet, which made sense. The surface had no water, so it had to have its stores below for habitation suitability. The heat could also be used for geothermal power depending on the strength. It was a good spot to set oneself up, at least when they weren't being hunted by ravenous space insects.

"So what do these things look like?" Rocket asked as he kept his eyes peeled on the walls around them. Thor had told the group that the creatures enjoyed using rock faces as camouflage. Rocket, who could see better than the rest in the dark, was tasked with spotting them if he could.

"Like a Bolovax roach, only bigger than a guy," Star-Lord shrugged. "And with huge teeth. You'd be an appetizer."

"At least until I blew myself out of his stomach with these things," Rocket patted the weapons on his belt. "Ain't no one eatin' me without a fight."

"I am Groot," the living tree nodded.

"They are fast," Thor warned his new ally. "You may not have the chance."

"You managed to get away carrying all those muscles," Rocket shrugged. "I think I'd be okay."

The four of them shared a nervous laugh as they traversed the slick, metal platform that made up the floor of the mine, which was still in its infancy. The passage was dimly lit with green, glowing orbs lining the handrail they walked beside. The walls of the cave, assuming they weren't lined with the alien creatures, were black, with luminous blue-green streaks running through them. Rocket and Peter had explained that the ore, when refined, was an important additive to fuel for their ships. It kept the engines from exploding, which Thor figured was quite important for space travel.

"Hm," Peter said as he closed his face shield. "My scanners are picking up life. Looks mammalian. Might be some of our settlers."

"I am Groot."

"Yes, tree," Thor smiled up at the plant alien. "Some of them are indeed alive."

"Guess I owe you one hundred credits, Quill," Rocket groaned.

"Never in doubt!" Peter chuckled in victory.

"Keep your eyes sharp," Thor warned his friend. "The creatures may be leading us into a trap."

But as they traversed deeper and deeper into the cave system it was clear there was no trap coming, at least not imminently. Nothing but foreboding, rocky passage after foreboding rocky passage. Quill said that every step brought them closer to the life forms that were still on the planet. While it should have given Thor a thrill, he felt a pit growing in his stomach. There was something wrong here. He felt like he was trespassing on some forbidden ground. If that was the case, it wasn't a surprise that the settlers would meet a horrible fate. They would have been destined for it by just coming here.The three of

"We're only a click away from the signal," Peter warned them.

The four of them crept carefully towards an opening that seemed to glow with a red light, very different from the green light they had seen up until then. Entering, Thor and the group were completely taken aback by what they saw.

Six of the settlers were cocooned on the wall of the rockface, their insides splattered on the floor of the cave. The room reeked of death and fear, as if their dying moments had been trapped in the cavern.

"Oh god," Star-Lord shook his head. "We were too late."

"I am Groot," the tree sounded just as despondent.

"What kind of person could have done this?" Rocket's fear was palpable. This surprised Thor. The small creature's detached nature was a defining feature, and being shaken like this was enough to prove the scene's grisliness.

And Thor saw something that proved that some sort of otherworldly for was at work. On the back wall of the room, in the middle of the bodies, was an ancient rune that Thor had not seen in ages. A crude face, one side painted in white, the other in black, with pointed ears was drawn on the cave walls. The site sent a pang of fear rolling through the son of Odin's body.

"It's not possible," he muttered to himself, taking a few steps back from the drawing. "It cannot be."

"Man he's really freaked out about that graffiti," Rocket muttered to Groot.

"No time for that," Peter warned. "We got movement in that rock shaft."

"How many of them?" Rocket asked, spinning his guns in his paws, ready for a fight.

Quill paused, "Just one. Coming toward us slowly."

"A scout," Thor growled. "Let us avenge the settlers. We will leave none of these beasts alive."

The four of them dropped into battle stances, ready for anything that might come. They heard the scratching in the rock tunnel as the creature approached, scrambling over the rocks to get to them. It continued to get louder as it approached.

But what came through wasn't an insectoid. It was a little girl. Long, dirty black hair hung over her teal-green face, and striking blue eyes stared back at the four of them full of fear. She was small, no longer than eight if Thor had to guess. Malnourished as well. It looked like she hadn't eaten in days.

He motioned for her to come closer, "Come out, young one. We aren't going to hurt you."

"You wont," she said hauntingly. "But they are coming."

Thor spun to look at Quill, "Multiple movement signs! Shit! More than I can even keep up with."

"BRING 'EM ON!" Rocket growled, full of blood lust. "I've got a shot with every one of their names on it!"

"I AM GROOT!"

Thor scooped the girl up, who didn't struggle in the slightest. The four of them spun and sprinted back from where they came from. As their foot falls started to be drowned out by the clatter of exoskeleton-covered legs hitting rocks, the metal floor creating the floor of the mine gave way, and the five of them were thrown into complete darkness.
Personally I'd like if there was a former team. Kaldur could have been a part of it as a much younger hero. I could see him stewing over mistakes he made while younger and wanting to make up for them with the new team
@HenryJonesJr - More hints towards who Booster might be. They have memories of both Tony and Steve, not that either of those help eliminate too many possibilities but the mystery of her identity is definitely a driving force behind my interest. Interesting to see that Booster is clearly being manipulated. Should note here though that the use of Patrick Dugan might be problematic as he's part of @DocTachyon's supporting cast for Seven Soldiers. So the two of you might want to reach out to one another.


TFW you thought a CS had been withdrawn by the player, but it wasn't.

Don't drink, kids. It rots your brain.


"Great news, Booster," her handler and Roxxon PR Manager Sandy Vincent smiled at the hero as she landed on the roof of the Roxxon Building. "Your battle with Blackguard has raised your profile ten points in the biggest markets on the east coast. Great job making it look so easy, not to mention the quips. People love quips. Saving the guard at the last minute? Brilliant. And hitting the guy with the car he tried to use as as weapon!? Man, people are loving you."

The PR executive's long, red hair bounced excitedly as she swiped her finger on her L-Pad, scrolling through statistics. Sandy was short and thin, and relatively young for her job. Black rimmed glasses hung on her freckled face. She told Booster she just looked young, but Gold put the woman's age at twenty-five, almost the same as her. At least Booster thought her own age was around twenty-five. Sandy had been nothing but nice to Booster ever since the hero had come on board, but Booster couldn't say if that was anything more than normal PR fakery. Sandy seemed nice enough, but there was really no way to be sure.

"Even better is the fact that Mr. Agger was able to sell even more sponsorships for you during the battle. Three more high profile clients have agree to come on to the project," she nearly squealed in delight. If nothing else, she was damn good at her job. "We're going to turn you into the next Captain America."

As the words left Sandy's mouth, a flash came over Booster's vision. She saw a red, white, and blue uniform in tatters, the white stained with blood. The words "Go! Now!" echoed through her ears and she heard a metal disk clang to the ground. As the vision passed she had to steady herself by leaning on the wall. Her breath felt like it had been stolen from her, and her head swam and swirled.

Sandy, worried, placed her hand on Booster's shoulder, "Hey, are you okay?"

"Yea," Booster flashed her trademark smile and waved the PR employee away. "Just a little lightheaded. Must be dehydrated from earlier. Saving the world is tough work, you know."

"Sure," she motioned towards the water cooler near by. "I'll grab you a drink and then we can go meet Mr. Agger. He's go big news."

"Ma'am," Skeets's voice came through the comms. "Your heart rate has risen and your breathing is erratic. Are you okay?"

"Fine, Skeets," she tried to calm the robot down. "Just another vision...or memory or whatever."

Booster had no idea what that news was, be she figured as much when Agger had called her in the same day as she had a battle. Usually he gave her a few days to rest up before giving her the rundown of how much it had helped the bottom line.

The PR Exec returned with a cup of water that she downed, making it seem like she really needed it. So far she hadn't told anyone about the visions of the future she was having. At least she had figured it was the future. Without her memories that was nothing more than a hypothesis to work on. Better not to worry anyone until she knew what to worry them about.

"Whenever you're ready, Booster," Sand smiled broadly.

Booster nodded back and they headed for Dario Agger's office.


Spymaster walked confidently into the communications room of Onslaught headquarters. While his outward demeanor was calm and collected, inside he had to admit he was nervous. He was unsure as to how The Director would react to the loss of Blackguard. The experimental suit the bank robber had been given wasn't cheap, that much was sure. Not to mention the effort it took to even get the suit out of its holding place.

As he took his seat, the screen at the front of the room came alive and the shadowy figure of The Director came up. Spymaster had no clue what the man truly looked like. No one with Onslaught knew, in truth. All the organization knew was that he supplied the funding and its direction. Anything else was above all their significant pay grades.

"Sir," Spymaster nodded to his boss politely. For longer than he could remember, Spymaster had never been with the same employer as the months he had worked for The Director and Onslaught. Most of them couldn't afford him for long, so he performed a single, high-paying job before he left for the next one, sometimes working for the same people he had previous been working against.

"Spymaster," The Director sounded far more chipper than the espionage agent expected him to be. "I saw the report on Blackguard."

"Yes, sir," he nodded. "I wanted to apologize. We never should have sent the suit in the hands of such an unprepared operative. I shouldn't have been so literal when you said you wanted a bank robber."

His benefactor chuckled, the voice modulator he used masking his true voice under a deep baritone, "No, my friend. That was exactly what I wanted. Now our grand plan can be put into action."

"Grand plan, sir?" Spymaster was confused.

"We need to get the engineer. Now."

Under his mask, Spymaster's eyebrows raised, "Well, that certainly is the escalation, sir."

"It's time. And let's embarrass the bimbo in blue and gold while we do it, shall we?"


"Booster! Sorry to keep you waiting!" Dario Agger smiled broadly and flung his arm around her shoulder as they walked to his desk. If Sandy Vincent's friendliness's sincerity was hard to read, Agger's was the complete opposite. Agger was a slimeball through and through. She knew he was using her to make money and didn't care a spit more about her. But that was fine. She was gonna bleed him dry just as well. In the end, Skeets said his company would be dead, and she would be rich. "Great job today with that bank robber! We've been getting sponsorship offers left and right!"

"Sounds like I should be looking for a bigger loft," Booster smiled weakly and moved to sit down, getting Agger's slimy arm off her. "Sandy was giving me all the numbers. Seems like our business partnership is bearing the fruits you thought it would."

"I'm not the youngest CEO of a Fortune 500 for nothing," he smiled devilishly. Dario Agger was the definition of corporate greed. He didn't care that his company would continue raping the natural world. He didn't care how many native people he had to displace to get what he wanted. He didn't care how many endangered species he destroyed. But he was her meal ticket. "But I didn't bring you in to talk about how much people were impressed by you today or for a drink or anything. I mean, we can have a drink if you want a drink. Do you want a drink?"

"I'm good," she waved him away. The last thing she wanted was to get friendly with this guy.

"Okay," he shrugged and poured himself a glass of a dark liquid. "I'm gonna have one. But anyway, we didn't bring you in for a normal meeting. No, this one is about your battle from earlier today. About Blackguard."

"What about him?" her eyebrows raised.

"Well, the armor he was wearing, it was ours. It came from Roxxon Experimental," he smiled weakly after taking a sip from his drink. "A prototype. Take from our testing grounds in North Dakota."

"You're creating weaponized power armor?" she asked angrily, she felt her blood boiling with anger below her skin. She had seen what weapons of war could do in the wrong hands since she came to this time. If an energy company dipping their toes into that field meant they could be sloppy. Clearly they were sloppy. They wouldn't have lost the suit if they weren't.

"Oh no!" Sandy tried to reassure her. "We don't arm them! Ever since Iron Man-"

The words triggered another vision. Tony Stark flashed in front of her, older, but not by much. He was hunkered over some sort of machinery. He turned to her and smiled warmly. "What do you think, Booster? Is it gonna work this time?" As soon as it came to her, it disappeared and she tried to control her breathing. At least she was sitting down this time.

"-our armors are only designed for mining and extraction. Not for offensive capabilities."

"That's right!" Dario clapped. "But that doesn't mean people don't want them for nefarious purposes, as we've seen. Which is why we're sending you to defend the man who's been designing them for us."

"Excuse me?" she looked at him with trepidation. "I'm here to save people, not protect assets."

"I know, I know," he assured her. "But if he's captured by the villains who stole Blackguard's suit, imagine what they could force him to make? And that is far more scary."

She considered what he had to say, and had to admit it made a lot of sense. She motioned for him to continue.

"His name is John Henry Irons, and we moved him from the Dakota testing grounds down to one of our facilities in Houston last week. You'll rendezvous with him there, and then head to a safehouse in Arizona while we figure out who's after Irons and our armors."

"Sounds like a solid plan," Booster nodded. "I'll head home and pack."


As Booster headed for the exit of the building, she heard Sandy's voice echo through the lobby, "Booster! Hey Booster! Wait up."

She turned to find the ginger executive racing towards her, waving. When the other woman reached her, she smiled, "So I know you told Mr. Agger you weren't interested in a drink, but you really seem like you need one. I have to finish some things up in the office, but do you want to meet up after I'm done for happy hour?"

Booster studied Sandy carefully. She was being genuine after all. Surprising. And, to be honest, Booster could use some friends that weren't artificial intelligence if she was going to have any semblance of a life in this timeline. Plus she basically didn't have anything to pack. She hadn't gotten around to buying anything with all her money. Except for a Tesla. Why did she need a Tesla when she could fly? Because shut up, that's why.

"Sure, what the heck," she shrugged and smiled at Sandy. "Call me when you're done."
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