All across the world, the aftermath of Hydra's death left echoes.
But I didn't focus on that. Too tired.
The night after the battle against Hydra, and the death of Strucker, the Avengers returned home.
We flew back to New York City in groups. Some of us went in Quinjets, others in the Enterprise and Behemoth.
When I got back, I crawled into my apartment, laid down in bed, and passed out. I felt like my head was going to explode. Hell, maybe it was, considering what I'd gone through.
I didn't dream. I took that as a blessing.
When I woke, someone was in my arms. I looked down at her.
Jennifer Walters, her brown hair laying against my chest, snored. It was adorable. I watched the part time-Hulk, current tiny human, for a good while, then reached out for my phone to check the clock.
I'd been asleep for 28 hours… fuck.
Groaning, I gently pulled my arm away from Jennifer, rising to my feet and walking over to the wall. I waved my hand at the wall, bringing up a holo-screen. Then I started typing.
About ten minutes in, I heard a groan behind me. "Uhhhhhg… Why are you awake?"
Jennifer's voice made me smile. "There's work to do."
"Oh shit, what time is it!?" Jennifer snapped to her feet. "Oh god, I was supposed to be at the office-!"
"No, you aren't. You fought in a war. We all get a break."
Jennifer froze behind me. "Oh… oh right."
She was silent for a moment. I sent an email off, then took a look at some blueprints. Goddamn, this would have been so much easier to read as Jury Rigg or Upgrade, but I needed a human perspective on the blueprints. Thank god Tony constantly ran me through mechanic lessons…
"You okay?" Jennifer walked up. "You look like hell."
I stopped, turning to look at her. I thought about it for a moment, opened my mouth, then closing it as I tried to figure out what to say. "At the end, when I fought Strucker? I don't know if you remember, but I dragged him across the universe. And I ended up taking that mental journey with him."
Jennifer curled up on the bed, looking up at me. "You saw everything he saw."
"I felt it. I stood in those places. I was in Hel-" Mephisto winked. I forced the memory back. "I saw a planet die," an impossible mind pressed against mine. "Felt… things…" Moist air crawling into my lungs.
I swallowed, then clenched my fists. "I look like hell. But… I'm also a superhero."
I grit my teeth and turned back to the holoscreen. "Superheroes. We don't run from horrors. We shut them down. Natural disasters don't scare us. They're Tuesday."
"Mahmoud, you can't just ignore what you saw with some kind of macho speech," Jennifer said sternly.
"I'm not ignoring it," I brought up another screen, the Omnitrix on my arm catching my attention. "I'm preparing to fight it."
The things I'd seen horrified me. The reveal of mutants and all the monsters that came with those memories, was… god.
But once the fear was acknowledged, I could get to work. Galactus, the Brood, Apocalypse, Thanos. They were monsters. But they had been driven off, beaten, even killed. If it could happen in other universes, it could happen here.
"I would win. We will win. No matter who gets in our way."
Another screen popped up to my side. A news article. 'Proposal for a Superhuman Registration Ac-'
"Let me take that," Jennifer walked over next to me, taking the article and pulling it to a holoscreen of her own. When I glanced at her in surprise, she scoffed. "Please. You aren't a lawyer. I'll figure this travesty of the constitution. You work your angle."
I grinned. "Thanks. I'll remember you when I need to sue Galactus."
She chuckled. Then she scowled at the screen in front of her. "Any enhanced individuals who use their powers to break the law (including those who take part in extralegal vigilante activities), or are otherwise deemed to be a threat to the safety of the general public, may be detained indefinitely without tria- Are you kidding me!? Jesus fuck man! That's, what, four amendments being ignored!? Wait, no, five now!? Who suggested this utter pile of-ugh!"
As my girlfriend raged at something that had been pissing off comic book lawyers real and fictional for decades, I added one more thing to my calendar.
In a mansion at 1407 Graymalkin Lane, Salem Center, located in Westchester County, New York, a bald man in a wheelchair stared out his window, a black woman with white hair standing behind him.
"When will they arrive?" she asked him.
"Tomorrow. Have the children prepare, Ororo," the bald man smiled. "I think they'll be unable to keep away."
"I'm sure they won't," the black woman said with some amusement. She became a bit more serious a moment later. "Are you sure about this?"
"It wouldn't matter if I was," he sighed. "I'm afraid that Emma took the decision out of our hands."
"...I hate that woman."
He smirked, unable to disagree.
Deep within his lair, the Leader held up a cup of wine. "To Strucker. May you burn for eternity, and look upon my works in-
"Are you toasting to someone by yourself in the dark?" the Leader jumped in surprise, turning in his seat to see Klaue staring at him skeptically. "That is creepy. Turn the lights on at least."
The Leader scowled at the ruined moment. "Damn you, Klaue. Is everything ready?"
"Need a bit more time. But we're on our way," he said. On Klaue's new arm, a silver disk with a glowing diamond 'antennae' sat.
"Good… then the Intelligencia will have its way with the world."
"Okay, I just want you to know, I hate when you put it that way."
"I know, it was on purpose this time," the Leader said with a grin.
Behind Klaue, two more people walked up. Red Ghost, a gorilla standing protectively with him. Next to him, a massive specimen of a man strode forward. He wore a skintight black uniform that clung to his muscles, with a red diamond symbol sitting on his chest, and a black feathered cape on his back. His handsome face was a pale white like marble, his head bald, but his ink black beard neatly groomed, his eyes a crimson color.
The Leader smiled warmly. "Mr. Essex. Thank you again for joining us."
"Oh, of course Leader," the man smiled. "I'm sure we will do great things together."
Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel
In another part of the galaxy, far from the place of her birth, Carol Danvers stood on a planet on fire. She had no idea of the events taking place on her homeworld. She'd been far from any place that could accept a signal. More importantly, she was extremely busy.
A fist smashed her in the face, adding another bruise to the many spotted across her skin, and sending her smashing through a skyscraper behind her. She landed on a spaceship that had been idling in a parking lot, the metal crumbling beneath her. She groaned in pain, stumbling to her feet with a gast. Carol wiped some blood from her lips, a broken finger bouncing off her nose.
Her Kree battle armor was torn across the abdomen, her left boot gone. Her helmet was ripped off long ago, leaving her hair burnt almost to the
"That… hurt," she mumbled, looking around.
Mydon had once been a garden world, a place full of millions of people. The Mydonians had been a normal civilization. Not entirely peaceful. Not entirely warlike. Just a planet like any other.
Now it was crumbling. Carol watched the skyscraper she'd been punched through fall to the ground. As it fell, the sky behind it could be seen. Far in the horizon, a large swirling portal could be seen in the night. It glowed an eerie magenta. Inside, a universe of strange planets could be seen. Every once in a while, another piece of Mydon ripped off and was pulled into the portal.
Carol swallowed. The planet was dying, bit by bit. And she couldn't stop it.
"Beautiful, isn't it!?"
Something crashed into the ground in front of Carol. She watched the dust fall, allowing the man who had landed to be seen.
He was hairy. Extremely hairy, with a large beard, fur across most of his body, all of it a deep gray, almost silver in color, the flames around them sending red light flickering across him. His armor was navy-blue, covering his torso, groin, and feet. One of his hands glowed with orange energy. His body was stocky and powerful, thick with muscle. The man looked down at Carol with a wide smile. He was bruised in some place. Cut in others. But he stood proud all the same.
"The Genesis Portal. Soon, this place will come home with me. My Cerulean Army will enslave these people and create a throne. A new throne in the Negative Zone, all dedicated to the wonder that is BLASTARR!"
As he laughed, Carol mentally sighed.
Mar-Vell, her old mentor, had once commented on how many bad guys they fought seemed to love their dramatics. And the names. 'Genesis Portal.' 'Negative Zone.' 'Cerulean Army.' 'Blastarr' for crying out loud!
Mar-Vell wasn't right about everything, but on this, he definitely had a VERY good point. Bad guys were way pretentious.
"How about you shut your mouth and fight?" Carol spat out. She staggered upwards, grabbing her broken index finger and painfully readjusting it. The glow of cosmic energy surrounded her. "I've got things to do. So come here and sign on the dotted line. I'm here to hand you your ass, delivered express."
Wow, she must have been more concussed than she'd thought.
Blastarr smiled, fangs flashing. "Yessss. When the Mydonians toil under me, enslaved in my great empire, they will remember your defeat as the beginning of the en- OOF!"
Carol shot him in the stomach. He stumbled back, then fired back at her. She was already flying around the blast, moving in on him.
In terms of power, they were fairly equal. Super-strength, energy blasts, durability. But in terms of experience, he had her beat. Carol had been at this since the 90's. Blastarr had hundreds of years of battle experience.
She didn't stand a chance.
She felt her fist crunch across his chin, then his knee smashed her in the stomach. Carol ignored the blood dripping from her lips to dig her heels into the cement, pushing him back, then hitting him with two punches enveloped in energy. He brought one fist down onto her head in a hammer blow. She gasped in pain, the ground cratering beneath her, then forced herself to uppercut him. As he stumbled back, laughing, she brought both hands up and let loose.
A blast of golden-blue energy hit him like a truck. Blastarr fell back a step. Then he raised his own hands. He blasted his own energy at her.
And she blocked it with her arms, pulling her feet up. The energy licked across her frame, biting at her skin. She grinned, a fatalistic grin. God, this hurt so fucking much. But it was working.
Blastarr blinked in surprise at the sight of his attack sending Carol tumbling through the air. At the apex of her flight, she twisted out of the path of the energy beam, then blasted upwards into the air, shooting up into the atmosphere. Blastarr fired again, the blonde superhuman dodging the attack by diving aside, but continuing to run.
He stared at her, confused. In their battle, the blonde had shown many things. Confidence, then, as he had beaten her to pieces, tenacity, an unwillingness to give any ground if she could help it. But not cowardice. So why was she-
Blastarr's eyes widened. He looked around.
The people. The Mydonians. Where were they?
He ran towards a nearby building, kicking the doors open. Empty.
Another door. Empty.
He charged through the buildings now, smashing through walls, desperate. No, nononono! Where were they!?
Blastarr roared, energy circling him like fire, then exploded upwards, shooting towards where Carol had gone.
He could see her in the distance. A tiny blonde dot against the atmosphere. And… a ship! A damn ship!
She'd tricked him. He'd been so focused on her, and all the while his army had been defeated somehow? How had they been beaten? Subterfuge?
The Mydonians had been gathered by his army, to prevent their escape! So how were they getting away!?
Blastarr snarled, clenching his fist as he rocketed towards-
Carol twisted in mid-flight. Blastarr raised his hands to attack.
A beam the size of a ship smacked him like a swatter hitting a fly. Blastarr gasped, physics working against him. In the moment he'd stopped blasting energy to fly, he'd become an easy target. He tried to reorient himself, but every blast he fired sent him spinning more chaotically. He might have been able to figure it out with enough time. But he didn't have that luxury.
He was sent tumbling through the vacuum of space, entering the 'Genesis Portal' as he screamed in furious rage. Carol floated in space, energy pooling around her, flickering in her exhaustion. She didn't gasp, not in the vacuum, but she was tired. She watched as Mydon was finally pulled into the Genesis Portal. Sent to the Negative Zone… as an empty planet.
Blastarr gained his throne. An empty rock, with none of the people he'd planned to enslave.
Carol felt the last of her energy flicker out. Blood from her nose floated off her face, freezing in the vacuum of space. She smiled.
'I got them out. I got them out. At least they'll be oka-'
Floating in space, she passed out, blood swirling about her like beautiful maroon trails, the blood vaporizing, then freezing as it left her.
Then a spotlight landed on her body. A ship floated towards her, a port opening in the side. She was pulled into it, landing on a metal floor.
A man ran towards her the moment the port closed. He started with pink skin with red feathers. Then, as he ran over to her, with worry on his face, he began to shift. Pink skin became green scales. Red feathers pulled into his body. And his flat muscular chest flowed, growing breasts and showing new curves.
By the time 'he' got to her, a female Skrull replaced him.
"Carol!" she got down next to her, looking her over. "Damn!" the woman looked over her shoulder. "Someone call Talos! Tell him Carol's injured!" the woman turned back to Carol, her eyes wide, pointed ears wiggling. She smiled shakily while pulling out bandages from a pouch at her side, hurriedly beginning work on putting the superhuman in her arms back together. "Damn it, Carol. Talos is going to lose his mind when he finds out you got hurt like this again."
A green hand wrapped around pink as the Skrull woman waited for help, and Carol began to breath slowly. Around them, Mydonians came from the shadows, surrounding them. Staring down at the woman who had broken herself saving them as a Skrull wrapped bandages around her, the medical wraps quickly soaking through. One Mydonian man moved forward, creating a splint for her broken arm, trying to help save her.
Beaten to hell, but still triumphant, surrounded by those she'd fought desperately to save.
Just another day in the life of Carol Danvers.
Even as one hero lay passed out on the floor, other important figures worked tirelessly.
They all made their plans. Heroes and villains alike, preparing for the future.
Gideon Malick stood before a stone portal, awaiting the arrival of his god.
Blackagar Boltagon sat in his throne room, watching as the armies of man fought off an alien invasion.
Erik Lensherr sat in silent contemplation within a room of steel.
And on an asteroid deep in space, a man stood. Dressed in armor of gold, he stared out at space, the purple skin of his face twisted as he thought of the footage he'd seen. Thanos, the Mad Titan, watched the stars. And all the while, he smiled.
And yet, of those conquerors, heroes, kings, and madmen, none were as important in the now as the event happening in a small laboratory within AIM.
Lyle Getz hadn't known about the lab. His underlings only followed orders. They set up the equipment as their instructions said. Installed the programs, put the technology together, and left it as asked.
While the Battle against Hydra had hit it's final moment, the machinery activated. A computer came to life.
On it, a program activated as well, with the name of the one who had approved the activation of the equipment.
There was no Doctor Salazar in AIM's directory. For three minutes. Then, in the blink of an eye, he existed. His file was made, with a history, schooling, job experience, and even a psychological profile. All slotted seamlessly into AIM.
The machinery began to work. On a slab in the center of the room, metal arms stretched out, picking up small metal pieces from crates about the room and fitting them together. They worked quickly, efficiently. Slowly, the skeleton of the body they were creating began to form.
On the computers the name 'Dr. Salazar' shone a bright crimson.
Across the universe, many worked.
But none as dangerous as this.
Dial's story was not over yet.
End of book 1.
Author's Note: Next Book of the Dialverse should be coming down the road. For now, I'm taking a small break from Dial. I've been writing this story for… god. For forever.
That said, I'll be back to it in a couple of months, and will keep working on it in the meantime. I love this story too much to ever want to really end.
My hope is that in my next book I can start focusing more on character moments, with the story much more nailed in on Dial. Essentially, stuff will still happen in the overall world of Dial, but he's the main character.
As for the actual content. Uh… Okay. Mutants, Politics, Inhumans, Space, Fantasma and Creel, Fugitive, Spies, Black Order, Big Monster.
There, that should do it as spoilers Once everything comes together, it will be available on my pa reon ASAP. The people over there will forever have my thanks. After the fire, the move, all the other stuff that messed with this, you patron folks kept me, my family, and these stories alive. Thank you.
Oh, who is the final baddie at the end? Well, all the hints are there!