Author: ZeroBen PM
Reboot of the Avengers in my own Marvel universe.Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Drama - Chapters: 13 - Words: 85,754 - Reviews: 80 - Favs: 18 - Follows: 16 - Updated: 02-16-13 - Published: 09-14-11 - id: 7382088
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
DISCLAIMER: I do not own the Avengers or any related characters. It's all Marvel/Disney.
Notes; This fic is set in my own personal Marvel universe. Other stories are Iron Man, Hulk, Captain America, Spider-Man and Thor. Now, let me say right off the bat that this takes 4-5 years into the future from when my Iron Man began. So, there are going to be spoilers. I'm looking at those fics as being prequels. At the end of this chapter, I'm going to explain more and the reason why I'm doing this fic now, rather than waiting until after I finish the others. But, for now, I hope you enjoy the first chapter. Please review if you do, I'm open to any and all criticism and critiques.
And there came a day, a day unlike any other, when Earth's mightiest heroes and heroines found themselves united against a common threat. On that day, the Avengers were born, to fight the foes no single superhero could withstand!
:::The Xandar Cluster:::
The home of the inter-galactic peace-keeping force known as the Nova Corps.
However, not anymore.
The Xandar Cluster had been ravaged by a violent and brutal surprise attack while the vast majority of the Nova Corps were away on a lengthy mission. An unknown invader slipped into the cluster un-detected. And, by the time they were noticed, it was far too late. The invaders killed all who opposed them with weapons not before seen. New creations. Devastation swept over the entire cluster. By the time the attack was finished, there was barely anything left. For all intents and purposes, the Xandar Cluster had been raped, robbed of all its glory, of everything it held so dearly. It had then been murdered and left for dead.
After the destruction ceased and the invaders finally left, one surviving member of the Nova Corps came out of hiding. He was covered from head to toe in battle scars, his uniform all but gone, bloody wounds littering his body. He crawled across the metal floor, a trail of thick blood left in his path. He wept at the sight of his people slaughtered before him. It was by sheer luck that his life hadn't been ended as well.
Painfully, he picked himself up, yelling from the torment his body was ravaged by. He staggered weakly to a ship. He crawled in. He was knocking upon death's door, but he had no choice but to continue, to somehow push forward. His duty as a Centurion in the Nova Corps was more important than his own satisfaction. He had to fly to Earth. Despite his condition, he just had to... Had to warn them...
They were next.
In the sky above the Golden Gate Bridge, two distinctive blurs could be seen. One being red and gold. The one it was following consisting of a peculiar purple color. Six years ago, this would have been strange. But, five years ago, Iron Man was born, combating larger than life threats on a routine basis. Therefore, everyone knew what it was. Just another superhuman battle. No need to panic unless who were unlucky enough to be caught in the crosshairs.
The purple blur came to an abrupt stop, standing atop the peak of the bridge. It was the energy form of Simon Williams, once a businessman. Now, in the supervillain business. Once upon a time, he battled Iron Man to a standstill. And now, he was back for the long awaited rematch.
"Stay out of my business, Stark!" Simon shouted, the energy crackling as his eyes glowed red, his fists clenched tightly.
"No can do, Simon," Iron Man also came to a stop, hovering overhead, "At least not until you're back safe and sound inside the Triskelion."
"That prison can't hold me," Simon sneered, preparing himself for a battle, "Just like you can't stop me, Stark!"
Iron Man let out an annoyed sigh underneath the armor, shaking his head, "Vision, remind me why I thought it was such a bright idea to out myself? I'm getting sick and tired of supervillains calling me by my real name. I mean, what's the point of calling yourself Iron Man if no one's going to use it?"
"Stop the jokes!" Simon shouted, unleashing two powerful energy bursts from his fists, and rising higher into the bright blue sky.
"Yeah, right!" Iron Man dodged the attack as it dissipated into the Earth's atmosphere, "Can the sun stop shining?" he escaped another blast attack, "Can the birds stop chirping?"
"They can if they're dead!" Simon growled, pounding his fists together, creating one big blast that sped right for the superhero...
Luckily, Iron Man was prepared for just such an attack. He unleashed a bit of power of his own, the uni-beam from his chest-core. It weakened him to use so much of his own biological energy... But, it did the trick. Plus, his healing factor always worked nicely enough.
Simon's own attack was used against him. The force rocked him back into the top of the bridge, and sent him falling toward the road below. Iron Man knew he couldn't risk Simon crashing into any of the cars down there and causing a big catastrophe. So, he spiraled straight for the villain and caught him. However, once he did, Simon smiled and leveled the armored hero with a strong punch.
Iron Man crashed flat on his back atop the hood of a car, effectively ruining the vehicle. Amidst the smoke and steam now rising from underneath, he turned to the family inside with a groan, "Just send the bill to Stark Resilient."
"Now you die, Stark!" from very high above, Simon dive-bombed directly for Iron Man.
"Add this to it, 'kay?" Iron Man ripped off the already dented hood and through it up toward Simon...
The villain crashed into it, slowing his speed. This gave Iron Man just enough time to rise up and meet Simon in the air, tackling him to the road. The two tumbled and rolled, but were no worse off than before.
"Give it up, Simon," Iron Man ordered, standing ready to continue this fight.
"No," Simon shook his head, his fists and forearms beginning to glow brighter than before, "Never!"
Simon forced another powerful blast from his body of complete ionic energy. But, Iron Man countered with giving it everything he had in his repulsors. The two blasts ended up meeting in the middle. Who would push who back? Who would topple their opponent first? Who would emerge victorious?
"That's... Enough... Simon," Iron Man struggled through gritted teeth, taking a couple slow steps forward, pushing against the energy as best he could. He could feel the strain on his body.
"Agh!" Simon growled angrily, falling onto his backside. In this test of strength, Iron Man had won. However, Simon had an ace up his sleeve that he had yet to play...
"Run a scan, Vision," Iron Man spoke to his Artificial Intelligence system, "How high are his energy levels? What's he got left?"
Something strange came up on Iron Man's Heads-Up Display, "Sir, something is wrong."
"I don't..." Iron Man was interrupted by Simon lifting a car full of people up over his head, turning toward the side of the bridge, "No, Simon!"
"I told you to stay out of my business, Stark!" Simon once again shouted, eyes more menacing than ever, "And, this is your punishment..."
"I swear to god, Simon," repulsors ready for full-on blast, holding nothing back, "I'll let loose and never stop until nothing's left."
"Good," Simon smiled evilly, "I wouldn't want it any other way."
The ionic form of Simon Williams tilted his arms back and then... Was blasted by Iron Man! He lost his grip on the vehicle and it fell on top of him as he collapsed in a heap on the pavement. The people inside, absolutely terrified, evacuated the car and ran as far away as possible from the scene. Thank goodness they were safe and sound.
"No life signs detected," Vision explained to Iron Man as the superhero approached the vehicle.
"I had no choice," Tony sighed, the helmet of his armor opening up to reveal his head, "What were you thinking, Simon?"
Iron Man lifted up the car, shock fully painting his face. It... The body... It wasn't Simon Williams. It was... What it was didn't make sense to him. Quickly, his helmet was brought back so Vision could perform a scan...
"Asgardian magic?" Tony wondered.
"No, sir. It is not magic. Scans can not determine what this is. However, it is biological. A formerly living and breathing organism."
"Then what the hell is it?" Tony was left with no answers, only so many questions.
In the spot where Simon's body should have been... There was a green... creature-like... monster. It bore a humanoid appearance in a sense, but certainly was not human. Green, wrinkled skin, some kind of purple uniform, and these sickly yellow eyes.
:::Special Radio Interview:::
"His book rests comfortably atop the New York Times Best-Seller list for the third consecutive week as of just this morning, and he is fast becoming one of the most trusted sources on Superhuman-Activity. Ladies and gentlemen, at this time, I'd like to welcome renowned writer Phillip Lawson to the Station 42 News at Nine program."
The scene was a radio booth. Thirty-five year old writer, Phillip Lawson, had been asked to make an appearance on the Station 42 News at Nine show. On satellite radio, this particular station had become the unofficial news network for all things Superhuman. And with Phillip Lawson having written an immensely popular book on the phenomenon, it made perfect sense to have him on.
"Renowned writer," the host repeated, "Just your first book, but you're referred to as renowned. How does it make you feel?"
Phillip shrugged slightly, just a touch shy, not used to public appearances or interviews yet, "Weird, actually. I mean, it's only one book."
"But, it seems that you've really hit the nail on the head," the host pointed out, "Scientist and superhero, Hank Pym said this... 'It's the best book I've ever read. Dealing with superhumans these past few years and becoming one myself, I've never encountered anyone that truly understood what it all meant and what it was all about.'"
"That means a lot coming from him," Phillip mentioned quickly, "He's a genius. The contributions he's recently made to the world are amazing. The Ultron soldiers are the single greatest invention ever."
"Now we have Tony Stark," the host chuckled, others laughed, "Who we all know is very vocal and opinionated. He said... 'I appreciate the book Lawson wrote. He's obviously a very smart and talented writer. However, I'm not crazy about him essentially outing my grandfather as the father of the superhuman.'"
"I never intended to make anyone angry," Lawson responded, "All the words in my book are either proven fact or what I honestly believe to be true. And, given testimonial by Captain America, and what we've been able to uncover, Howard Stark Sr. and Abraham Erskine did create Captain America. Hence, being the quote/un-quote, Grandfather of the superhuman."
"Now, very very quickly, enlighten us for a moment. You credit Howard Stark Sr. in creating Captain America. But, not the Red Skull. Although, it seems people lump the two together as a single creation. Can you expand?"
"It was a coincidence," Lawson stated fact, "Dr. Erskine was being forced to work for the Nazis. He had created the serum for Red Skull. It wasn't used until three years later, though. At the same time, a very young Howard Stark Sr. was developing a serum for the United States Army. He had nothing to do with the creation of the Red Skull. And, it was his Vita-Rays invention that stabilized the serum in Captain America's body."
"Interesting," the host said, "Now, my first official question; In the opening of your book, you claim that you have a morbid fascination with superhumans. You say... and I'm quoting this... 'Let me start by admitting my morbid fascination of the superhuman phenomena. I am enthralled and captivated. Not a night passes me by when the last thoughts I think before falling asleep are about superhumans. Is it healthy? Perhaps not. But, it is what it is and I choose not to deny it.' . Explain that to us, if you would. How did this morbid fascination come about, and why do you refer to it as such?"
"Well, to answer the second question first; It's fairly obvious that everyone is interested in superhumans. As a whole, we're curious, intrigued, and want to know as much as we can. But, I've run social experiments and polls, and I've learned that the majority of the population in all different countries - this is everywhere, mind you - feel mostly the same way; They're content to sit back and go about their daily lives as routinely as possible."
"The term... Life goes on... Is buzzing in my ear right now," the host politely interrupted.
Lawson partially smiled, "Yes, exactly. Now, I'm the exact opposite. To me, it's impossible to go back to how my life used to be. In fact, to even try is impossible for me. I'm constantly thinking about them, learning about them, trying to discover something new that I didn't know about already. It's consumed my life."
"I'm gonna put you on the spot, you ready? Tell us... Who's your favorite superhero?"
Phillip laughed, "I don't believe I have a favorite."
"C'mon," the host didn't buy it, "Listen, I'll tell you mine. Thor. I mean, how can you go wrong with the God of Thunder?"
"True," Lawson saw his point.
"So, c'mon, who's yours?"
He thought about it, "I think I like them all the same. I mean... They each represent something important and proud. Something that I think we as a people should strive to be."
He had their full attention...
"Captain America is truth, liberty, the undying spirit of a country. Black Panther means the same for Wakanda. Iron Man and War Machine are advanced in science... They're every scientists furthest dreams. Pym and Wasp are the same. Thor embodies that there is more out there... That magic is real... That other dimensions are not only fiction. Hawkeye and Mockingbird are action and adventure, that thirst for excitement. The Hulk represents survival through the worst case scenario. He is standing in control despite the monster swallowing him whole."
"You - This is very interesting - You consider the Hulk a superhero," the host followed up on that statement, "Which you do talk about in length in your book."
"Yes," Lawson nodded his head, "Why wouldn't I? It was him who thwarted Radioactive Man. He single-handedly defeated the Leader and countless others. I understand why he's been mistaken as a villain, but we mustn't judge a book by its cover."
It wasn't human. In any way, shape or form, this thing wasn't even the least bit human. From a biological standpoint, at least. The blood wasn't even remotely close. A scary thought kept crossing Tony's mind as he ran tests, but he didn't dare jump to any conclusions so soon. There was still much to be analyzed and learned. Whatever this thing might have been, it was a new species. Nothing that had ever been seen before. At least, through Tony's eyes.
As the body lay lifelessly on a table in his laboratory, Tony couldn't help but feel the need to alert Hank Pym. If there was a mind out there that could rival Tony's own, it was definitely Pym's. But, Pym worked for SHIELD. As did Janet. And, if SHIELD caught wind of this, that would be the end of it. This situation begged for silence and precision. That thing had mimicked Simon right down to the subtle nuances. Picture perfectly.
An even scarier thought crossed Tony's mind...
What if there were more? Who were they impersonating?
Maybe a better question was...
What were they up to?
:::Ryker's Island Prison:::
Twenty-eight year old Lucas Cage was currently in the sixth year of a twelve year sentence. He had been thrown into jail following the death of one Willis Stryker. It happened when he was nineteen, and when he closed his eyes, he could remember the event like it was yesterday. But, he rarely ever chose to remember it. If Lucas had his way, the memory would be wiped clean from his mind permanently. The remorse and regret were overwhelming, spurred on by the humiliation and outright disappointment he caused his family. He still remembered his father's face in the court-room when he admitted what he had done.
What Lucas wanted more than anything was the chance to make it right with them. The chance for redemption.
A prison guard approached the door to Lucas' cell. The tag on his shirt read Rackham. Lucas clenched his fist, assuming trouble was on the horizon. But, then Lucas noticed the man walking behind Rackham. Seemed familiar. Then it dawned on him who it was... It was Nick Fury of SHIELD.
The door to the cell was unlocked as Fury entered without a word. Then, it was locked again and Rackham vacated the premises...
Cage didn't know what to think.
"Nine years ago, you beat Willis Stryker to death with your own bare hands," Fury stated, staring straight at Cage, "Why?"
"Why are you here?" Lucas asked in his deep voice.
"Good question," Fury countered, "But, answer mine first."
"He made a threat," cryptic response, but a response nonetheless.
"But, to beat him to death... To take those two hands, ball them into fists, and repeatedly punch the man in his face until there was nothing left... That's something. He must have made one hell of a threat."
By this point, it was obvious that Lucas wasn't going to enlighten Fury on the specifics. So, with that established, Fury decided on diving into the reason why he was paying the man a visit in the first place...
"I'm gonna be blunt with you, Cage," Fury laid it down, "SHIELD is in the midst of an experiment. And, we need a test subject."
Cage listened closely.
"If you were to sign up," Director Fury explained slowly and clearly, "You would serve the remainder of your sentence as property of SHIELD. But, not on the inside of a cell. For the most part, you'd be a free man. Working for SHIELD, doing exactly as I ordered, but still... A free man."
Cage liked the idea, but was a little wary of the experiment part of the deal, "What kinda experiment?"
"Before his disappearance, SHIELD was able to obtain DNA cells from the Hulk. The experiment would be injecting you with those cells and seeing what happened next."
This gave the prisoner something to think about.
"Clock's ticking," Fury revealed, "You pass, and I go on to the next guy. It's up to you."
"You'd trust a prisoner to not go berserk after you inject 'em?" Luke wondered.
"If it was you, I would," Fury admitted, throwing Cage for a loop, "See, I know something about you, Cage. Something that you don't want anyone else to know. And, I think you can figure out what that is."
A bit of a stare down between the Director of SHIELD and the young man he was visiting. Was Nick Fury telling the truth, or was he just blowing smoke to try and sway Cage's decision? Either way, it didn't really matter. Just like, it didn't matter to him if he was going to become a lab rat. Some freedom was better than no freedom. And, with that decided, Cage had only one thing to say...
"Where do I sign?"
Being the head of SHIELD Security was most certainly a stressful occupation. However, when compared to having to deal with one Maria Hill, whom was the assistant to Nick Fury, and in charge of SHIELD operations when Director Fury wasn't in house, being the head of Security was a breeze... Nothing more than a crack in the sidewalk that could easily be stepped over. Needless to say, Carol Danvers did not care for Maria Hill. As did Maria Hill not care all that much for Carol Danvers.
Not bothering to knock, Carol swung open the door of Director Fury's personal office, not at all surprised to find Hill on his laptop, "Being in charge when he's not around doesn't mean you get to play leader when he goes out for a coffee."
Realizing Carol was privy to business recently transpired, Maria defended her actions as she closed the laptop, "Recruiting a convicted felon is hardly a cup of coffee. Don't be so dramatic."
"You sent our three best agents on a silly meet and greet," Carol was angry, "It's a waste of their time."
"Tony Stark battled Simon Williams in a deadly brawl on the Golden Gate Bridge. Then, there's no sign of Simon and Mr. Iron Man's not saying a word. I sent our three best because the situation calls for our three best."
"I know what you're trying to do," Carol saw through her like a window, "You're trying to make an impression on the President, because you want the Director's chair. But, Maria, you're no Nick Fury. And, continually grabbing at straws is pathetic."
"Like I said," Maria repeated, now also angry, "I sent our three best because the situation calls for our three best. Director Fury isn't here, so it was my call to make. I'd apologize for you disagreeing, but I don't honestly care what you think. Really, Carol, what's your problem with me? You've been on my case ever since I got my position back. What, are you jealous because President Obama picked me instead of you for the job?"
Carol scowled, crossing her arms, "My problem is your attitude. My problem is your personality. My problem is I want what's best for SHIELD. And, what's not best for SHIELD is you next in line for Director. Face it, Maria, you're not Director material. A true SHIELD Director wouldn't make Captain America, Hawkeye and Mockingbird all go out to Malibu to talk with Tony Stark."
"You're excused," Maria had heard enough.
"You can't kick me out of an office that isn't yours."
A stare down between the two ladies. It wasn't their first argument and definitely wouldn't be their last, either. The two of them just never saw eye to eye, compounded by the sheer fact that Carol Danvers - as well as many others within the organization - felt that Maria Hill wasn't qualified for the position of assistant to Director Fury.
Tony was busy reading over analysis and results from a variety of tests he was conducting using samples from the alien life-form. He agonized over every detail, trying to dig to the core. He just had to know what this thing was and how it had mimicked Simon so well, right down to his superpowers. His thirst for knowledge was driving him forward. However, a distraction came in the form of his ever faithful butler, Jarvis, entering the lab...
"You have company, Master Stark," Jarvis said.
"Tell 'em I'm busy, Jarvis," he casted it aside, not even looking away from his work.
"Sir, they're from SHIELD."
So much for keeping this ordeal a secret.
"I wonder how long he'll keep us waiting?"
"I feel uncomfortable just standing around in his home."
SHIELD Operatives Hawkeye, Mockingbird and Captain America were standing in what could be described as the main room of Tony Stark's cliff side Malibu home. If you looked through the sliding glass doors, you would spot a beautiful scene. This place was state of the art and the finest that money could buy. Though, for such a luxurious home, it was somewhat sad that the only ones living in it were Tony Stark and his butler, Jarvis. Well... There was also Vision... But he was merely an artificial intelligence unit implemented directly into the architecture.
All three operatives were in their battle gear, though Hawkeye and Mockingbird weren't wearing their special glasses and Captain America had his mask hanging off the back of his neck like a hood. As a side note, his shield was on his back.
Steve spotted a framed photograph on the mantle. It was of Howard Stark Sr.. He nearly smiled as the fond memories of the man who helped him become a soldier flooded his mind. He was then taken away from those memories by the appearance of Tony Stark...
"To what do I owe the displeasure?" Stark's sarcasm in full-effect.
"Golden Gate Bridge," Clint spelled it out for him, "Battle with Simon. Ring any bells?"
"What can I say?" Tony shrugged innocently, "Can't catch 'em all. Right... Captain?"
Steve gritted his teeth at the thought of the ever-elusive Winter Soldier. His stance tightened some, never a big fan of Tony Stark and his flamboyant style. Not to mention his rotten personality.
Bobbi spoke up, arms crossed, "Witnesses claim you flew away with the body."
"I did no such thing," Tony's defense was sarcastic.
"Simon's been missing for over three years. He's been completely off the grid. Now, all of a sudden, he shows up in broad daylight where anyone can see him and challenges you to a fight? You don't find that the least bit suspicious?"
Tony simply shrugged again.
The Captain confronted him, eyes focused, jaw strong, "Where is he, Stark?"
"You know, I've never once seen you out of that costume," Stark commented on Steve's attire, "What, do you have like a hundred of 'em?"
"This is going nowhere," Clint remarked.
"As usual." Bobbi agreed.
Steve had something to say, "Your grandfather would be ashamed of you."
Tony's pulse quickened as the anger level rose instantly, "Don't even..."
"He was a great man. Howard Stark Sr. was someone who dedicated himself to the betterment of the world... Of his country and people everywhere. You're nothing like him. You're self-centered, egotistical, and a pain in the ass. I give you credit for being Iron Man and doing a lot of good. But, you're lack of trust and overall refusal to work with SHIELD makes you a liability. Something that I know your grandfather would frown upon."
Tony pointed to the door, not wanting to hear one more word out of any of them, "Get the fuck out of my house. Don't you dare come here an-and think for one second that you can just say whatever the hell you want. You wanna know why I don't trust SHIELD? You wanna know why I can't stand Nick Fury?"
He continued, "SHIELD did nuclear testing on American soil and created the Hulk. And, instead of taking responsibility for a mistake that they made, they then decided to fight fire with fire and created that god damn Abomination. Let's not forget that Samuel Sterns was a SHIELD scientist. And that Whirlwind was courtesy of the great mind of Hank Pym. Not to mention, that the Triskelion couldn't hold the Mandarin. And that little blunder damn near ended the entire world."
"Mandarin's safe and secure," Clint dismissed that, "Don't..."
"Yeah, now," Tony was letting it all fly, "After I put him there for a second time. And you know what really pisses me off? The fact that SHIELD never learns from their mistakes. I know they're still gunning for a successful super-soldier, despite all the fuck-ups. And, the real kicker in all this is who gets blamed for all of this shit? Who? Howard Stark Sr.. That's right, all thanks to that hack Lawson and his highly erroneous book."
"Be that as it may," Steve knew there was business to take care of, and wouldn't leave until it was done, "Where is Simon Williams?"
Tony sighed, wanting to stand his ground and not let SHIELD interfere, but understanding they had him dead to rights. Maybe it was just plain stupid to try and make himself believe that he could handle this matter in a secretive manner. Maybe it was for the best that he hand over the body. Damn it... Damn it... Damn it!
"Come on," he said, begrudgingly leading the way to his basement.
After the short walk, the three SHIELD Operatives found themselves staring at a body that most definitely did not belong to one Simon Williams. It was green, wearing varying purple colors for clothing, and had pointed ears plus wrinkled skin. For all intents and purposes... It looked like a Martian.
"What is this?" the Captain asked.
"That's what I keep asking myself," Stark let his guard down, deciding to work with these knuckleheads after all, "I've run numerous tests. All I keep getting back is that this thing... Isn't human. Not even a little. It's entire genetic make-up is so radically different."
Before they could ask what this thing had to do with Simon and what took place on the Golden Gate Bridge, Tony opted to explain a little further, "I had no choice but to put a permanent end to Simon. But, next thing I know, he turns into this thing. It mimicked him and his powers perfectly."
"Dr. Pym and Dr. McCoy need to see this," Steve stated.
"Whoah, whoah, whoah," Tony slowed things down, "I don't feel safe having this transported. If the Amazing Hank's wanna see this, then they have to come here."
"He's right," Clint ran a hand over his short blonde hair, "We can't risk this thing being spotted. At least not until we know what's going on."
"Don't run anymore tests," Bobbi instructed Tony, "Keep all your results in order. We'll have them come here as soon as possible."
Tony smirked, "Oh yeah, love it when a woman tells me what to do. Smack me around, show me who's..."
"Watch it!" Clint got right up in Stark's face, dead serious, ready to take a swing if needed.
"That's right, I forgot, you two are..."
"Stand down, Soldier," Captain America grabbed Hawkeye away from Stark, and Mockingbird followed them out, "We'll be in touch, Stark."
"Lucky me," Tony dryly responded.
Night had fallen over the east coast. Which a young man of 27, Richard Rider, was very happy to see. Why? Because it meant he could go home, and get the hell out of that all-too hot oven called a pizza place. He'd quit the job if only he didn't need the money so bad to pay off late rent. So, the young man took off his apron and started walking out of the kitchen, only to be stopped by the owner, an overweight man with a mustache named Marv...
"Kid," Marv stopped him, "How about a word before you go?"
Richard rolled his eyes, and turned around, "Yeah, Boss?"
"How many got sent back tonight?"
Richard scoffed, hands going to his hips, really not in the mood to get into this right now. He just wanted to go home and call it a night.
Richard shook his head, "This is dumb. I-it's..."
"How many, Ritchie?"
"Three!" Ryder exclaimed, "Look, I know I messed up. It was just a bad night, though. It's nothin', just a bad..."
"Fifth bad night this month," Marv nodded, "And we're only sixteen days into it."
"Look, kid, I'm a small business. No bull, I'm just barely above water most the time. I can't have this happening. I can't waste ingredients, money and time. Tonight I took a loss."
"Just take it out of my check or whatever."
"I don't feel right doing that, actually," contrary to popular belief, Marv didn't enjoy this aspect of being an owner, "'Cause I gotta letcha go."
Richard's head dropped, hands going over his hair, "Shit."
"I know, but what can I do? You're pushing me into a hole here. You're a good guy, Rich, but you..."
Ryder turned his back on his former employer and walked out of the establishment, "No offense, Marv, but I kinda hope you rot in hell."
"C'mon, don't be like..."
The door slammed.
:::SHIELD Blackbird Aircraft:::
Captain America, Hawkeye and Mockingbird were given a lot to think about during the ride home. Exactly what was that creature Tony Stark currently had in his basement laboratory? How was it able to perfectly mimic Simon? And even scarier of a thought...
"What if there's more?" Hawkeye asked as the operatives sat in the back of the aircraft, SHIELD Agent Sam Wilson assuming pilot duties for this quick flight.
"They could be hiding in plain sight," Mockingbird worried, "We'd never know."
"Let's not assume the worst," Cap said, "Not until we get all our facts straight. Right now we are dealing with one mysterious villain. Who, of course, is now dead."
"Hawkeye's right, though," Sam spoke up from the pilot's seat, eyes in front, 'What if there are more? What if... One of us are one of them?"
They all looked at each other, suddenly unsure, suddenly feeling very uncomfortable. It was true. What if one of them were a shape shifter? The others would never realize until it was too late. You could get away with anything. Murder your comrades, steal secrets, come and go as you pleased.
Abruptly, the Blackbird took a nosedive.
"Wilson!" Captain America shouted, "What are we dealing with?"
Sam grinned in a sinister manner as he stuck the Blackbird on auto-pilot and stood up from his seat. With the others watching in confusion and then horror, his looks and body shifted into the form of one of those creatures. But, he was far more muscular, far bigger and intimidating...
"Jesus Christ!" Hawkeye couldn't believe it, but instinctively prepped his crossbow for a fight.
"Your weapons won't work," the voice was deep and otherworldly, and this thing had all the confidence in the world. It was practically radiating off of him like heat. Oh shit... That actually was heat!
Captain America sprang into action, grabbing his shield as a line of fire was shot from the alien's hands, "Arrghhh!" he struggled, the flames very powerful, "We gotta secure the plane!"
"On it!" Hawkeye had an arrow ready and aimed for the emergency switch on the control panel. Only... It was blocked as the flames stopped and some kind of invisible force-field formed over the controls.
Gun at the ready, Mockingbird took a shot, but couldn't get past the force-field, as couldn't Captain America, "Foolish, your weapons are useless against a Super-Skrull!"
The force-field dropped and this Super-Skrull extended his arm like rubber, pushing Mockingbird against the hatch at the back of the aircraft, then hitting the emergency lever to open it. As expected, she fell out, helplessly falling through the sky, hopefully to her death.
"NO!" fearlessly, Hawkeye grabbed a parachute and leaped out of the aircraft, hitting the lever on his way out, spiraling toward Mockingbird. He had to save her... He just had to... Failure to do so wasn't an option to him, not even a god damn possibility. And... He did, as he grabbed her and pulled the parachute open. Thank god.
Through the chaos, Captain America hoped Super-Skrull was distracted enough to land a blow. He charged and attempted an uppercut with his shield, but, the Super-Skrull's hands turned to orange rock and he blocked the move, grabbing the shield and head-butting Captain America with a rock hard skull!
Cap fell backward to the floor, feeling the effects of an instant concussion. Or, at least, what felt like one. Yet, he picked himself up, only to be swung at by the Super-Skrull with his own shield like it was a baseball bat. The impact sent him flying against the hatch in pain. Super-Skrull released the shield and his rock form to stretch for the lever again. Captain America saw it coming a mile away, and grabbed the rubbery arm, pulling on it to swing the alien into the side wall, causing a spark of electricity as the Blackbird took damage during the fight.
"I don't know who you are," Cap punched him across the face, "Where you came from," an uppercut to the jaw, "Or why exactly you're here. But, I'm telling you," a shot right between the eyes, "This is a war you will not win!" another shot, but this one was blocked and countered, sending the Captain back a couple feet, to the floor.
"A war would indicate that both sides of the conflict stand an equal chance of victory," Super-Skrull coldly declared, scowling at his opponent before leaning over to pick him up.
Captain America thought fast, using his feet to push Super-Skrull up against the ceiling with a thud. He had to get to the controls while his enemy was incapacitated for the moment. He hurried over, glancing through the window in front to discover this plane was heading right for the Sears Tower in Chicago. Cap reached for the auto-pilot controls, but was stopped by another rubbery arm around his neck...
"You will not stop this," Super-Skrull threatened, "It must happen."
Struggling to gain any ounce of breath he could, Captain America backed against the wall repeatedly until Super-Skrull's grip was loosened. Then the hero leaned forward, throwing his opponent off of him. Super-Skrull was quick to rise back up, though. Cap had to act quickly, and did. He jumped up, grabbing onto the ceiling of the aircraft and swung his boots into Super-Skrull's face with as much force as he could muster.
Super-Skrull was knocked back hard into the emergency lever. The hatch opened, and Super-Skrull was thrown from the aircraft, arms flailing as he fell through the dark night sky.
Captain America threw his shield to close the hatch, then turned his full attention to the controls as his shield returned to him. All he had to do was take it off auto-pilot and fly this bird back to the Triskelion. Problem being... He couldn't take it off auto-pilot. The Super-Skrull had done something weird to the controls. No matter what Cap tried, he couldn't unlock auto-pilot. In that case, there was only one other option. One other way to avoid disaster.
With his shield, Captain America started simply bashing the controls over and over until there was a minor explosion. He ducked his face behind his shield for safety, then thankfully found auto-pilot was off. The only downside to that was the damage made it impossible to keep this thing flying for much longer. Cap tapped into his limited flight expertise and managed to avoid the Sears Tower by mere feet. The Blackbird was dying fast, though. Time was running thin.
He tried contacting the Triskelion through the communication system but Super-Skrull must have eliminated that as well. Nothing was going out or coming in. The Blackbird was flying straight for the ground, right towards a heavily populated area of now terrified citizens. Yelling as he did so, Captain America somehow miraculously managed to avoid a complete catastrophe by missing the populated area and landing in a body of water with a massive splash, followed by an explosion that sent most of the water into the air.
High above the scene, the bottom half of his body now pure flames, Super-Skrull hovered in the sky as he grimly watched for any signs of life from the crash. Satisfied with seeing nothing, he then took flight, far away, moving at an incredible speed.
With a gasp of breath, Captain America pushed his head above water. For now, disaster had been averted. But, how long until there was another attack? Golden Gate Bridge, Sears Tower...
What was next?
Good? Bad? A complete slap in the face? Be brutal.
Okay, first off, why now? Why start writing Avengers when you're not even out of the origin phase with three other fics and Iron Man hasn't been updated in awhile. For one, I'm rewriting Iron Man. I'm not making any extreme changes other than Stane's company will be Stane International isntead of Advanced Idea Mechanics. I just want to clean it up and make it fit more continuity-wise with this universe of fics. The big question; Why start this now? I'll admit, it's a big gamble, but I have to do it. Why? Because it's so massive. I'm talking World of Warcraft huge, here. And by that, I mean the sheer scope. This is a fic about an entire universe. A cast of hundreds. I have to start it now. I want this to be my opus, to be my grand contribution to this place.
While this is heavily inspired by various sources, one of the main ones is the Ultimates. I want it to be large-scale action, political, at times controversial, I want the danger to feel real. I want you to care about the characters, to hate them, to cheer or boo for whoever. I want it to be an experience. I want people to look forward to updates, to get on my case if they're not out fast enough. I want people to point out mistakes, to force me to write better. By the time we reach that glorious and seemingly unrealistic 100th chapter, I want this story to be something great, something that the readers truly enjoyed. That they hope there's a sequel for.
Now, I realize this is basically like trying to read Ultimates 5 when you haven't ready any of the others. So, I'm just going to quickly do some write-ups for these main characters as they appear. Except for ones that are new to this story, such as the Nova Corps and Luke Cage. Oh yeah, in my world, Luke Cage is going to be a full-fledged Avenger.
Iron Man: The world's first known Superhero. After his first year as Iron Man, he decided to out himself to the world. After doing so, he moved to Malibu and made Stark Tower the headquarters of his company, Stark Resilient. Over the years, he's battled numerous villains and upgraded his armor countless times, as well as making new models and also providing one for friend and confidant, James Rhodes a.k.a War Machine. He has been at odds numerous times with SHIELD, the United States Government and United Nations. He trusts no one other than Rhodey. His disgust for SHIELD lays in all the reasons he's mentioned in this opening chapter. His look is based off typical 616 counterpart.
Captain America: The world's first superhero. We all know about his origin, but where it deviates is he was not frozen in this universe. He and the Red Skull were teleported by a device created by Nazi scientists during World War II. After capturing the Red Skull, Captain America officially joined SHIELD as an Operative. While it took some time adjusting to a new world, he's become a tremendous hero and has proven he is willingly to do whatever it takes to protect his country. His look is based off his Ultimate counterpart.
Hawkeye: The SHIELD Operative who never misses. He is Fury's most trusted ally in his fight for world safety. He uses specially designed high-tech arrows and crossbows created by Henry Pym. He's currently in a long-term relationship with fellow SHIELD Operative, Mockingbird. His look is based off his Ultimate Counterpart ala Ultimate Hawkeye 1#.
Mockingbird: A SHIELD Operative who rose through the ranks with Hawkeye. She wears special tech glasses like Hawkeye, and has extensive training in firearms and swords. Her look is based off the latest 616 incarnation.
Carol Danvers: Head of SHIELD Security, and also a member of the Homeland Security panel for the United States Government as well. She is very smart, very trusted, and respected by her peers. Save for Maria Hill, whom she has an on-again off-again rivalry with. Her look is based off of her Ultimate counterpart ala David Finch's design.
Maria Hill: Executive Assistant to Director Fury. A position she was once demoted from, but managed to once again secure. Some claim she's not ready, and is problematic in her tactics. Her look is actually not based on her own counterpart, but on the Ultimate Black Widow Monica Chang's design.
Nick Fury: Director of SHIELD. The man that watches you as you sleep. Big Brother has his eye on you. Ever since its conception, Fury has been in control of SHIELD. Over the past few years, he's managed to secure a trusted relationship with the United States President. He even has more clearance than the Vice-President, if you can believe that. His look is based on his Ultimate counterpart.