I am Uatu, the Watcher.
It is my duty to observe, but never interfere, with the course of all existence on Earth, as it is for my brethren across the universe and multiverse. I am to simply watch events unfold, but I have already broken my vow of non-interference on a small number of occasions. I have taken a…likeness to the Earth.
But today, an event of catastrophic proportions rises in the human city of New York. A madman makes a stand for power, and to rule mankind. I ponder if I should intervene here as well, but I soon see that there is no need for me to do so.
For today…is a day unlike any other the Earth has seen.
Chapter 1: Assemble Part 1
*The Raft, 1 of 6 SHIELD superhuman prisons located worldwide, New York City*
14:33 EST May 4, 2012 AD
"This is a very big mistake you are making, General Ross," said a man of his mid-thirties wearing a crisp formal suit, his firearm hidden underneath, as he followed an older man, in his mid-fifties but still in good shape, wearing US Army general attire, with the name "Ross" on his tag under his medals. "What you are hoping to do it going to backfire on you completely, I guarantee it. Director Fury has made it very clear that he is against you having custody of the man, and after the last incident with the US Army in Culver University-"
"Agent Coulson," the general snapped as he turned around, looking at the man, clearly out of patience. "No matter how much you try to convince me otherwise, I am not changing my mind. The Hulk's blood is property of the United States military, as is Banner's work. I don't care what you or Fury or SHIELD thinks on the matter-the World Security Council OK'd the request that we retake custody, so you can cancel your little plans to transfer him to the Cube. I am taking him, and that is final." General Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross then got into the SHIELD agent's face and snarled, "End of discussion."
Phil Coulson, ever keeping his cool, simply maintained his passive expression. "Experimenting on the Hulk, his gamma energy and on his blood is very dangerous," he said. "You've seen what's in the Cube, the psychopaths that have been created by gamma exposure-Captain Zolandia, Leader, Madman, Half-Life and others…some of which, I should remind you, are results of your previous failed attempts to weaponize Dr. Banner's Hulk formula."
"Simple mistakes," Ross retorted.
"In which numerous people lost their lives," Coulson countered, before adding, "Each being a case in which there would have been possibly more casualties had it not been for the Hulk."
"The Hulk is a monster, Agent Coulson," the general replied, turning away to continue his brisk walk to the Raft prison transfer dock, where US military & SHIELD personnel were waiting. "A monster that threatens lives, but the military potential locked in the Hulk's DNA is something that the American Armed Forces is not going to just throw away."
"I fail to understand why the United States would want such kind of power, knowing full well that there are many enemies of the nation out there that would see this as a very big threat. It's bad enough that you still have Project: Rebirth up and running."
"Well, if you and Fury and SHIELD didn't hog Captain America to yourselves, we wouldn't have a reason to keep it running."
"Captain Rogers is a man who fights for freedom and liberty, no matter where in the world it is found. If you feel a certain way about it, you're telling the wrong person."
"Captain America should be helping us further our national interests and security. America is looking to build the next generation of soldiers-the super soldier. The Super Soldier Serum is the one thing that can guarantee that, and with the Captain working with you instead of us like a true American soldier, that is very difficult to continue, so we use Project: Rebirth, and the Hulk serum is also beneficial."
"Making your own private army of super-soldiers…sounds like the premise of a comic series."
"Think what you want, but this is final: I'm taking the Hulk, and that's final."
"So what do I tell Betty?"
This grabbed Ross' attention instantly. "What?"
"Betty Ross, your daughter? She's been visiting Dr. Banner here for the last few days since he arrived on the Raft. She's currently staying in New York, and she is scheduled to arrive for another visit any minute now. Would you like to speak to her instead when she comes and finds out you're taking him away again?" They arrived at the transfer area, where SHIELD transfer ship was waiting, five squadrons of US Army personnel and three Hulkbuster battalions stood waiting. A few miles out, in between the distance of the Raft and the coasts of New York City of the East River, a US Navy cargo ship was waiting for its load.
"Betty…she's confused," Ross said, saluting his men as they gave him the proper respected salutes. "She thinks that it's never the Hulk's fault…but she doesn't know better; she still believes that there is a way for the Hulk to do some good for mankind, and that it's not being a guinea pig for our boys in the labs."
"Smart woman," Coulson smirked. Before Ross could retaliate…
The two men turned to see a woman in her mid-thirties, with brunette hair and wearing a white sweater and black jeans, running up to them, with three SHIELD agents not far behind. "We tried to stop her, Agent Coulson," one shouted as she and the SHIELD agents caught up to Coulson and Ross. "But she insisted-!"
"It's alright, agents," Coulson reassured. "Ms. Ross, I can only assume you found out what's going on today?"
"Yes I did," Betty Ross replied before turning to her father. "Why, Dad? Why must you always ruin everything? Can't you just leave him alone?!"
"No, Betty," Ross replied. "This is my job, and not you or Coulson here or anyone else will change this."
Before Betty could reply, a voice on the intercom system yelled out, "Prisoner Transfer in progress!" At that, two large metal gates that served as entry points from the transfer dock to the rest of the prison opened, revealing a large mobile prisoner holding pen, accompanied by several SHIELD agents and several Hulkbusters. On each side, there was a sizeable viewing glass, and Coulson and Betty could easily see the man in his mid-thirties inside, his unkempt brown hair and slender but fit figure clothed in orange prison clothes. At this, Betty gasped and bit back a sob.
Dr. Bruce Banner, also known as the Incredible Hulk, looked at them, and tried to give Betty a smile.
"Is he sedated?!" Ross yelled out to his men.
"Yessir," one replied. "He's not turning into the Hulk anytime soon."
"Perfect; ok, men, let's get him onto the Minneapolis and head down to DC. From there, we're off to Gamma Researcher & Air Base; and make such he gets sedated hourly." Ross started walking off to the transport, mumbling, "Last thing we need is for him to get angry on the ride."
"A bit late for that, General," Coulson smirked, causing the general to turn to him. "Banner…he's always angry; he's just learned to control it."
*Embassy of Wakanda, New York City*
14:38 EST May 4, 2012 AD
King T'Challa took a sip of his herbal tea, and took another look at the man before him. He had to be honest; this American bored him to death. It reminded him of the reason why he, his father, his grandfather and all the other Black Panther kings before him had preferred to keep Wakanda in constant isolation from the rest of the world. Most foreigners were simply greedy and selfish, and Wakanda had many resources that the rest of the world, including the American government, would love to get their hands on, namely the Vibranium his people so closely guarded. It had benefited Wakanda for millennia, and the nation had prospered and advanced beyond imagination. Of course, America would want to enjoy some of those benefits…and more so the military properties of Vibranium.
"As I said earlier," the man continued, "the American government is willing to trade whatever it is you desire for a supply of Vibranium. Weapons, vehicles, medicine, Sentinels, oil, energy, you name it. We are also willing to deliver a very suitable price if your Majesty so desires, instead. Just name your price and I'm sure a deal can be-"
"Mr. Gyrich," T'Challa interrupted, setting his tea down and looking the US ambassador-potential in the eye. "My people have no need of any of the things you have just mentioned and wish to offer to Wakanda in exchange for Vibranium. We are a self-sufficient people, and we are very capable, thank you very much. As I have said to various other heads of state and their representatives, we are not interested in giving the world access to Vibranium, and that goes for the United States as well."
"Your Majesty," Henry Peter Gyrich continued, not ready to surrender this battle. "You're missing out on an opportunity to create a whole new global market here. The United States can help you with-"
"My decision is final," T'Challa said, standing up. "There is no deal, end of story."
"You can't do that!" Gyrich snapped.
"I don't see why not," the Wakandan monarch retorted, raising an eyebrow. "The Vibranium belongs to Wakanda, so I think I can." He then motioned to his guards. "Please see Mr. Gyrich to the exit," he said, and with that, the guards escorted Gyrich out of the Wakandan Embassy. Once the door to the conference balcony shut, T'Challa sighed, picking up his herbal tea and walking to the railing; watching the traffic on the busy streets of Manhattan below, he heard the door open again.
"I trust my King remained firm in his standing?" an elderly voice mused. T'Challa smirked and turned to see the Wakandan Royal Advisor/Shaman standing a few feet behind him, his staff in hand and his traditional Wakandan headwear on. "T'Challa," the elderly man continued, "perhaps it is time to return to Wakanda; these outsiders truly have wasted enough of your time, and with war with the White Gorilla tribes looming close, your duties as King must-"
"My father always believed that the outside world had nothing to offer," T'Challa interrupted, pulling out the Panther mask that he inherited by birthright. "He believed that the world outside of Wakanda would never give anything of value to our people. Do you know he was wrong?"
"It has given me…perspective…experience," the monarch continued as he pulled the mask over his face, never taking his gaze off the streets below. "It has given me a new way to see the world…and sometimes I wonder…why do they suffer and do nothing about it? Was it wise for me to end Wakanda's isolation, so it could be exposed to this? Or…can Wakanda maybe show the rest of the world how to finally find peace and prosperity?"
"That is something you must answer with your actions, my-oh…" the elderly man said suddenly, his hand going for his head as he rubbed it.
"My old friend," T'Challa said as he instantly went for his aide. "What is it?"
"I sense…very dark magic energy in the city…something…or someone is preparing to invoke powerful magics…"
"Could it not be the Sorcerer Supreme?"
"No, my King, not from this distance; the Sorcerer's magics have never reached this level of distance from Haiti unless there be dire circumstances…this is…different…"
*Stark Tower, New York City*
14:38 EST May 4, 2012 AD
"Tony, are you up here?" a beautiful redheaded woman in her late thirties called out as she climbed up the stairs, searching for her boss/lover. Virginia "Pepper" Potts easily guessed that if Tony Stark wasn't anywhere else in the tower that was the headquarters of Stark Industries, he'd definitely be up here, in his armory/workshop. Tony had said he was working on another suit these last few months, and he seemed pretty excited about this one. He had taken to spending nights in his workshop, sometimes pulling off all-nighters, not only pissing off the Board when he fell asleep in the meetings, but pissing her off too due to the fact that she could start feeling quite lonely in their bed. "JARVIS, is Tony up here?" she asked Stark's AI butler as she neared the top of the stairs.
'Yes he is, Miss Potts,' a British accented synthetic voice replied. 'However, I would advise you to avoid the top of the stairs for a few moments."
Pepper arched her eyebrows in confusion. "Why?"
'That is why, Miss Potts,' JARVIS replied as Pepper stood back up straight from instinctively crouching down. At the top of the stairs, where a highly thick wall had been, only a gaping and smoking hole remained, courtesy of a repulsor blast; upon reaching the top of the stairs, Pepper saw that the glass doors to Tony's workshop were also shattered, and she could see the billionaire whooping for joy, a black and yellow armored gauntlet covering his left hand. At this sight, Pepper smirked affectionately.
"I take it the Mark 22 works?" Pepper chuckled as she sauntered over to where Stark was standing.
"Best model yet," the man in his very early forties smirked as he took her into his hand & gauntlet and softly kissed her. "Standard armor capabilities, extra features from other armors and-my personal favorite feature-it can come to me at will, thanks to these new microchip implants. Wanna see it in action? I need to give it a test run anyways and-"
"Do that later," the redhead pouted. "I haven't seen you all day. We need to catch up some…"
"Well, if you don't want to spend a while with me, you can go to that board meeting that starts in…I don't know, 30 minutes ago?" There was no board meeting today, but it caught Stark's mind, alright.
"JARVIS," Stark smirked. "Cancel all my appointments and make sure no one interrupts me and Pepper for the next…let's make it three hours, m'kay?"
'Sir, my sensors are detecting some kind of energy fluctuation in the city,' JARVIS stated.
"Does it involve the Arc Reactor?"
"Then someone else can handle it."
*Upper West Side, Manhattan*
14:38 EST May 4, 2012 AD
She was disgusted by the mortals of this world. They were all so pathetic, so weak, and they were such vile and filthy creatures. Nothing comparable to the Pantheon that sat in Odin's Palace in the Halls of Asgard. Nothing like Odin All Father or Frigga or Balder, Heimdall, the accursed War Goddess and Thor… her beloved Thor…no…she would not think of that oaf, he who had chosen her over her own beauty.
She smirked to herself; she would derive a bit of personal pleasure from this invasion, after all.
Disguising her true form with a spell, her blonde hair held up in a ponytail with skintight blue jeans and green jacket, she was still a lovely woman, and many men turned their heads to capture her delicious form-only to turn away in fear from the muscular bald man that accompanied her as she walked slowly through the streets. He was heavily built, like a pro-wrestler or body builder and he had an expression that gave the impression that he could easily kill one of these pathetic humans, adorning his mustache and goatee face. He wore a black light jacket and dark colored pants and boots, and walked with the blonde woman in a subtly protective motion. He easily intimidated everyone that passed them or the both of them passed.
These mortals, she mused to herself. They do not suspect that today marks the end of all they know…and the beginning of the reign of the Trickster.
The two individuals suddenly stopped walking, causing an immediate reaction: they stopped right in the middle of a busy street crossing and their stopping forced a few vehicles to stop abruptly. In anger and confusion, they began honking their horns and shouting in anger, yelling at them to get out of the way, not knowing at all just who-or what-they were dealing with. The passersby and nearby folks also didn't fully comprehend what was going on. Even the three nearby cops didn't suspect a thing as they approached the two of them-to them this was just their regular boring beat getting some kind of small action.
"Sir, ma'am," one of them said with authority as he approached them. "I'm going have to ask you to –AACCKKKK!" Everyone started screaming in shock as the large man grabbed the officer by the throat, nearly squeezing the life out of him, and hoisted him up in the air. He ignored the frantic yells of his fellow cops as they took out their firearms and pointed them at him, ordering him to let their comrade go.
"You do not interrupt us," he snarled as he threw the officer across the street, right into the window of a nearby deli, making everyone scream even more. Two shots rang out as the other cops shot him, only to be horrified that they did nothing to him at all.
"Amora…it is time to begin."
"Very well, Loki," Amora the Enchantress smirked viciously as her hands suddenly began glowing with green magical energy. Shooting her hands to the sky, the energy blasts flew into the skies, erupting into various bursts as they cascaded all across the island of Manhattan, landing with powerful crashes as they did so. Everywhere in Manhattan, people started screaming in a panic and in fear and in worry as green energy balls crashed left and right. But it didn't stop there.
They would wish it stopped there.
Where each ball of energy crashed, a portal was created. Rather large portals to be precise; and from these portals, blue skinned & red-eyed creatures arose…by the dozens. Each of them were equipped with various ice carved weapons-swords, spears, axes, shields, maces…each of the wielders stood about three times the size of normal human beings, and were adorned with white colored tattoo-like markings across their entire bodies. They were clothed with heavy animal fur skins, and as they came out of the portals, they brought with them winds of temperatures of freezing cold proportions. They unleashed vicious war cries and brandishing their weapons, they began their invasion.
These were the Frost Giants of Jotunheim, one of the Nine Realms of the cosmos.
"ARISE, FROST GIANTS OF JOTUNHEIM!" Enchantress yelled out as she reverted herself and her male companion to her true form. "ARISE AND STRIKE AT THIS WORLD! TAKE THE MORTALS BY STORM! FOR TODAY, MIDGARD FALLS UNDER THE MIGHT OF LOKI!"\
As she said this, her modern attire was quickly replaced by a fantasy style all green dress that ended just a few inches above her knees, the rest of her legs covered by green leggings and covered at the bottom with green boots. Her top consisted of a rather revealing bustier, showing an ample amount of delicious cleavage; her arms were adorned with green gauntlet like gloves that went above her elbows and ended just at her fingers, while her hair was crowned with a green tiara crown.
Meanwhile her associate was instantly changed as well, from his jacket and jeans to a more fantasy-medieval type look. He wore grey chainmail fatigues, along with black metal shoulder pads and chest armor, with a dark red axe insignia on the front. A warrior armor kilt adorned his belts and his feet were covered with armored battle boots. In his hands, a monstrous axe, capable of slicing through almost anything manmade and able to used elemental attacks, glistened in the light of the energy bursts of the Enchantress. He looked like a medieval executioner, which was fitting being his name was Skurge the Executioner.
He joined his Enchantress as from a nearby portal, another group of 15 Frost Giants arrived, and among them, one stood out in particular. He was slightly larger and he had an air of dominance about him, as if he screamed authority and demanded obedience from his fellow giants. He looked at the Enchantress and Executioner and gave a sinister sneer, relishing the screams the mortals around him gave.
"Ymir of the Frost Giants," Amora said with an evil smile. "Welcome to the realm of Midgard."
And with that, the king of the Frost Giants gave an echoing and earth shattering roar.
About a block away, a blonde woman in her late 20s had yet to join in with the other humans running away in sheer terror. Instead, she sighed and allowed her eyes to begin glowing as her shirt, jacket, jeans and boots began morphing into a red & blue costume as Ymir unleashed another powerful roar.
"I can never have a normal day, I swear to God…"
*Some random bar, Lower East Side*
14:39 EST May 4, 2012 AD
The bartender stood them in shock as the man before her placed the cup onto the counter with a thud. "That…that'd make it your 50th one this last hour!" she sputtered.
The 6'3'' man looked at her with a deadpan expression. "I don' see the problem here…" he replied, scratching his bushy sideburns as he puffed his cigar. He was wearing light & flexible black leather/body armor attire with fingerless gloves on his hands. The attire also had small yellow lines running across it, forming an X along the front and the back of his top, with another X insignia on his belt line.
"You're not drunk!" the bartender exclaimed, still shocked by the spectacle before her.
Before the man in black could respond, however, the streets outside shook powerfully as a few green bursts of energy crashed into the middle of the street, sending cars flying and people in a screaming panic frenzy. The bartender, the man and the other patrons looked out the window just in time to see the giant blue skinned creatures arise from portals made by the energy fallout. With roars, they began attacking anything and everything in sight. The people in the bar soon began screaming in fear.
...all except for the man in black.
"S'gonna be one o' THOSE days, ain' it?" he sighed. He really regretted not going back to San Francisco with the rest of the X-Men. He chugged his final glass and got up, placing a $50 bill on the counter, and the bartender, still recovering from the shock of the events outside, gasped even more as from the man's hands ejected six metallic claws, three on each hand. "S'cuse me, ma'am." With that, he walked out the bar to confront these creatures.
*The Peak, orbital space HQ of SWORD*
14:40 UTC May 4, 2012 AD
"We have extraterrestrial gates opening!"
That got her attention instantly. The green haired woman dashed to the monitors of the Peak's Supreme Command Center where the agents were frantically reading the new data that was bombarding the network. "What the hell?! Where are they opening?!"
"Data's coming in now, Director," one of the agents replied as the screen was suddenly filled with thermal and satellite images of Manhattan. "They're opening in Manhattan-the incursions are opening up in Manhattan!"
"Sydrill!" the green haired woman yelled out to the canine-like extraterrestrial now dashing into the Command Center. "I need identification on these things, now!"
"Of course!" Sydrill replied as he got to his post and began typing furiously, the monitors scanning the creatures now plaguing Manhattan. "We can't identify them, Director Brand! This species isn't in any of our databanks! Something else-these aren't extraterrestrial gates, they're extra dimensional!"
"So they're not aliens in a sense," the woman muttered. It only took her three seconds to make her next decision. Opening up a channel on the Peak's communications system, she yelled, "This is SWORD Director Abigail Brand calling the SHIELD Helicarrier! I need to speak to Director Nick Fury, now!"
*St. Francis College, Brooklyn NY, across the East River from Manhattan*
14:41 EST May 4, 2012 AD
"Well, that was a good speech, wasn't it, Donald?"
"It was, Jane," the blond man said with a smile as he shook the astrophysics professor's hand. The blond man was heavily built, with a large frame of muscle and abs, blonde hair that flew to the bottom of his neck, and a slight scruff of facial hair. "Thank you for having Miss Foster and myself as guest speakers here, Professor James."
"Of course," the professor smiled in return as she led them to the exit of the college. "The students were thrilled to hear such experts in the astrophysical field-especially you, Dr. Blake, your recent works on the Einstein-Rosen bridge theories is just brilliant."
After saying goodbye, the two guest lectures walked to the railings that separated the college from the East River. Jane Foster, one of the most well respective astrophysicists smiled as she remembered her companion giving his speeches to the awed students. After three years since arriving here, he had adapted as best he could, even going so far as to take up her career field. And surprisingly, his knowledge…it amazed her. He soon became a respected consultant and expert in astrophysics. He still missed his home, his father and friends, but he did his best here with them…with her. Even though it was partially her fault he was here…Yep, he had come quite the long way since she, Darcy and Erik found him in New Mexico three years ago…
Suddenly, an ear splitting monstrous roar rang out, echoing across the river and surprising both them and the other students & faculty of the college who were on the campus grounds outside. The roar…it sounded as if it came from Manhattan, and Jane was shocked to see elements of green energy in skies.
"Oh my god," she whispered as she brought her hand to her mouth.
"That roar…" her partner said with dread, and she turned to him.
"Donald?" she asked, using his alias in case there were other nearby people listening, which she soon saw wasn't the case as they were all too busy seeing the spectacle over Manhattan. He didn't face her, but kept his attention to Manhattan. She then called him by his real name. "Thor?"
Another earsplitting roar.
He turned to face Jane. "That was the roar of Ymir, King of the Frost Giants…"
TO BE CONTINUED…