A Timely Told in a Timely Fashion!
All For One and One to Die!
In the former remains of a remote military base in Germany
"She's dead!" Spitfire cried as the assembled Invaders stood in shock. "What happened?" the Human Torch asked as a Atlantian commando reached into a large bag at his hip and pulled out two silver disks.
"Stand back!" he ordered as he placed both disks on Jennifer Walters's chest.
With a loud 'thump', the disks sent an electrical charge through Walter's body. The injured yeoman moaned and her eyes fluttered briefly.
"We have to get her aboard!" Namora ordered as a stretcher was quickly assembled and the now barely alive yeoman was placed as gently as possible upon it.
As Jennifer lay on the floor of the ship, her body broken [thanks in part to the beating she received last issue] she could sworn she heard a familiar voice laughing…
In a dark world, neither which is here nor there nor any time that ever existed before
Claire Voyant, better known to various demons and some humans as 'the Black Widow', howled with laughter as she saw Jennifer Walters being carried away on a stretcher.
"Well, well, well" she managed to rasp between peals of hysterics, "It seems that our paths are once again about to pass Ms. Walters." She grinned as her eyes suddenly became a inky black.
With a wave of her hands and a archaic phrase on her tongue, Claire sent the image away as another image appeared…the image of a young woman typing away in a busy office. "Soon Miss Mitchell, soon" she said to herself as she began to speak in a tongue not meant for a human mouth.
Over the British Channel
"I've radioed ahead, there should be a team waiting at the airfield" Namor spoke to the back as he piloted the ship.
"How is she?" Captain America asked the medics as Jennifer lay on the stretcher, her chest barely moving.
But before the medic could answer, they were both rendered speechless as Jennifer bolted straight up!
Captain America noticed with some alarm that her skin had started to take on a green hue, but before they could try and calm her down, a mysterious flash of light blinded them all.
"What happened?" one of the medics asked as he rubbed his eyes to try and dispel the spots.
"I don't know, but I doubt it can be anything good" Steve Rogers mulled as he stared down at the stretcher.
Jennifer felt like she was falling upwards as the inside of the airship vanished around her, only to be replaced by a bizarre Impressionist painting landscape.
"Where am I?" she asked aloud as the very fabric of reality shifted around her and reformed into a mist-shrouded field.
"Ah Miss Walters, how good to see you!" a far too familiar voice rang behind her. "Oh no…" Jennifer moaned as she slowly turned around.
"You" she said icily at the sight before her:
Claire Voyant, decked out to the nines in a slinky cocktail dress that seemed to be twitching on it's own accord.
"It's been so long Jennifer, you don't call, you don't write; why, one would get the feeling you didn't want to see me again" she said as her teeth gleamed in the moonlight.
"I don't. And you had better stay back honey. Remember what I did the last time you decided to pick a fight with me?"
Claire giggled as the fog increased, completely blotting out the field. "True, true. However, I brought you here for a two reasons. One, you got yourself pretty banged up, and I brought you here to heal. Why, your bones were so broken that if you tried to change back you probably would have turned your skeleton to a fine powder. You can thank me later for that. Second, there is…something coming up, and I'll need your strength and a few other heroes to help me. So until I return, just rest, relax and try not to do anything stupid while I'm gone." She said snidely before vanishing in a puff of smoke.
While in New York City
Mary Mitchell rubbed the bridge of her nose as she poured over the designs of a fabulous machine. "Pure solar energy focused into a tight beam capable of almost anything, and I'm stuck doing secretary work for the W.A.C. Why the blazes can't I just catch a break here?" she said out loud as the sound of a door slamming brought her out of her trance.
Fearing a higher up, she quickly stuffed the blueprints and what looked like a large electric torch into her attaché case and began to noisily pound away at the typewriter built into the desk.
"My, what a busy little creature" she heard a seductive and unmistakably female voice coo directly behind her.
Spinning around, she was nearly knocked out by the…assets of the stranger.
"Who are you?" Mary found the courage to speak as she stared into the pale flesh of the woman.
"Someone of little consequences, but you may call me Claire if you wish. I have need of your skills Mary Mitchell." She said briskly as she began to draw a circle on the floor.
"Hey, that's government property!" Mary yelped as the woman glanced back behind her shoulder and Mary could have sworn the woman's eye sockets were suddenly hollow.
Without another word the woman grabbed the arms of Mary's chair, easily hoisted her high above head and causally dumped into the circle like last week's trash.
The word spun like broken merry-go-round as Mary fought not to vomit. As the spinning slowly stopped, Mary opened her eyes wearily, expecting to find a hookah-smoking caterpillar on a mushroom staring back at her.
In lieu of that, all she was a faceless landscape and a nearly nude woman dressed in rags sitting on what looked like the absolutely nothing at all.
"Who are you?" the women asked in unison.
The other woman stood up and walked over to her. "I'm yeoman Jennifer Walters, what are you doing here?" the brown haired woman asked as she gazed Mary over.
As Mary explained how she came to be in her present position, the Black Widow was quite busy herself
"I don't understand it" Thaddeus 'Thunderbolt' Ross exclaimed as both Captain America and Namora told him of the events of the past twenty-four hours.
"Neither do I surface man." Namora said as she looked out of the hospital window and gazed at the airship parked in the courtyard.
As she watched her fellow Atlantians fix the ship, she suddenly became aware that something was very wrong with the scene below.
Looking (her eyes being accustomed to the near perfect darkness of the ocean depths) she was puzzled when a tool dropped by one of the men seemed to hover in midair.
"What magic is this?"
"You guessed it in one princess" a smooth voice said behind her.
Whirling around, Namora was shocked to see a woman causally draped over the paralyzed form of Ross and Captain America. "What have you done to them?" Namora shouted, dropping into a defensive position.
"Absolutely nothing at all my dear. I've pulled the two of us out of time so we could…talk, that's all."
Namora, being the first cousin to the Avenging Son himself, reacted in a not altogether unexpected fashion. She leapt towards the strange woman and wrapped her fingers around her throat, pushing the two of them out of the hospital via a window and sending the two of them crashing to the ground. "I am a Princess of Atlantis, and I will have answers from you even if I have to crush your head with my bare hands!" she growled as the stranger opened her half closed eyes, at which point Namora found herself on the floor shaking. "W-w-w"
The woman dusted herself off and looked down at the quivering princess. "I am known to some mortals as the Black Widow, and you will accompany me if you ever wish to be able to sleep again." She said coolly as the hospital grounds seemed to fade away around them.
Back in limbo
"So, you uh, know this woman?" Mary Mitchell asked as she continued to look around (mostly as a way to avoid looking at Yeoman Walters state of undress, but she wasn't going to tell her that).
Walters sighed as she leaned back. "You might say that." She began as another hole opened up and both the aforementioned Black Widow and Namora appeared.
"What reason have you brought us here sorceress?" Namora said, looking down her nose at the other woman the way only royalty could.
The Black Widow grinned (much too wide and with far too many teeth, Jennifer thought) as she began to draw images into the very air itself. "I have assembled you four"
"Um, there's only the three of us" Mary said sheepishly as the Widow glared at her with her death's head. "So there is. Be right back" she chimed as she vanished in a flash of light, only to reappear a moment later with an extremely disheveled Miss America tossed across her shoulders.
"My reasons for bringing the four of you here is simple. At this moment, there is an mortal fool who is trying to wake the being Zom from his eternal slumber.
"Wait, what's a 'Zom'?" Jennifer asked as she tried to adjust her scraps into a slightly more presentable state.
"Zom, to put simply, is magic itself. He is also pure evil and will bring forth the utter destruction of all life if he should wake again."
"You seem well versed in the mystic arts, why do you need our aid?" questioned Namora.
"I need you four because despite my power, there are places that even I am not allowed to tread. If Zom wakes, then we are all dead."
Jennifer (having abandoned the notion of trying to look decent) stood up and walked over to the bizarre mystic. "I've seen what you can do Widow. I also know you have the habit of stabbing people in the back. How can we trust you?"
And with that, all four women vanished in a puff of brimstone.
The Black Widow grinned as her hair whipped around her head as the landscape around her melted away to show the four women landing in heap in a mist shrouded wood. "Do not disappoint me girls."
As the mist cleared away, the foursome saw a small two lane blacktop leading down into a quiet looking town. "Where are we?" Mary asked as she rubbed her arms to keep warm.
Gazing over at a nearby sign, Jennifer Walters read the words out loud. "Valley Town, est. 1813 pop. 800."
"Alright, so where is Valley town?" Namora asked disdainfully.
"I think its in upper state Massachusetts. Old pioneer town from what I recall." Miss America spoke as she began to float upward. "Stay here. I'll recon up ahead and see what's going on." She said as she sped off through the night sky.
As her red clad form streaked off into the night, Namora looked the other two women over. "Well, what are we to do until she returns? A Princess of Atlantis is unaccustomed to waiting in the wilderness."
"Then I suggest you get used to it." Jennifer snapped as the cool night air did little to soothe the heat in her body.
"Really? I saved your worthless skin land walker, you are in my debt." Namora looked down her nose at the now shaking form of Jennifer Walters.
"Why you arrogant, stuck up hussy!" Jennifer shouted as she felt an all too familiar feeling race through her body. "Uh oh"
"Um, are you ok?" Mary questioned as she saw Jennifer shaking.
Jennifer glanced at the rightfully nervous woman and growled. "Get away!" she said as her eyes began to give off a green glow.
And then, with only a small amount of token resistance from her already tattered rags, Jennifer Walters once again became the green Amazon known as the She-Hulk, which while old hat to both her and Namora, it was something of a new experience for Mary Mitchell.
"What the heck?" she cried as she scrambled back away from the now quite larger (and greener) woman. "What's going on?"
"That's what I would like to know!" the She-Hulk rumbled, her voice still sounding vaguely like before yet deeper.
Namora barely flinched at the metamorphosis, but instead folded her arms across her chest and looked up to stare down at the now almost seven foot tall woman.
"Changing your color will spare you from my wraith…" she warned as Mary Mitchell suddenly found herself in a rather unenviable position as the Princess from Atlantis and the mysterious seven foot tall green Amazon were about to duke it out with her caught right in the middle of it.
Miss America, unaware of the chaos about to be wrecked by her companions, touched down lightly near the strangely quiet town square. There was not a single person to be seen and her footsteps echoed back to her eerily.
Peering into the window of a nearby drugstore, she was surprised to see that while every light was one and the door unlocked there was no one inside.
Venturing in, she almost slipped on a cold puddle of coffee. Grabbing a few paper napkins, she almost yelled as she glanced under the booth where the spill had originated: undernenth the table was the very still (and extremely cold) form of a young man, his face twisted into a pure mask of terror.
Backing away from the body, Miss America rushed behind the counter when she spied a phone, but in her dash she very nearly tripped again, only this time it was no spilled drink but another body.
The soda jerk, his body ice-cold and his face every bit as horrified as the young man's, was slumped on the linoleum, a ice cream scoop still in his clutched fist.
Slowly backing up against the wall, Miss America quickly flew straight towards the window. Not even bothering to flinch as her body shattered the glass, she flew as fast as she could back to her friends.
While back in the woods…
"Alright lady, I've taken about all I'm going to take form you!" the She-Hulk snarled as she ripped a large tree up and swung it like a bat.
"Indeed cretin? I grow weary of your boorish manner as well!" Namora shouted as she began to smash the tree on every swing by the She-Hulk.
It was only the sudden arrival of Miss America that brought the two titans to an uneasy standstill. Pale faced and shaking, she hurriedly sat down and began to take some deep breaths.
Mary, deciding to deal with what would hopefully be an easier problem first, went over to her. "What's wrong?" she asked.
"Dead…the whole town…dead." Miss America managed to whisper between dry heaves.
This was enough to bring the two battling femmes out of their feud. "How is that possible?" Namora demanded.
"I don't know, but the entire down is dead! People are just scattered about, and I don't know what's going on!"
At this, the She-Hulk strode over and placed both her green hands on the smaller woman's shoulders. "Then let's find out. We were sent here to stop the end of the world; I say we start looking for answers."
As the group made their way into town (with both Miss America and Namora flying & Mary riding on the She-Hulk's back) they were all struck dumb at the sight that Miss America had described.
People lay in the streets, their bodies quite cold. "I told you so. What could have caused this?"
"I don't know, gas maybe?" She-Hulk suggested as she gazed down the lonely street.
"Doubtful. There is no way you land dwellers could blanket that much of an area that quickly. We would have heard something." Namora argued.
Mary reached into her bag and pulled out what looked like to the other heroines as a large flashlight.
While they debated, she flicked it on, causing a near blinding beam of light to appear out of the bulb. The beam was nearly extinguished however, as she caught sight of something moving in the confines of a dark alley. Before she could further investigate, she heard footsteps behind her…
As the three argued, they stopped when the sounds of laughter filled the night air. "What was that?" Miss America asked aloud as she scanned the nearby buildings.
As if in response, the sound of clapping quickly replaced the laugh. "Most remarkable!" a older voice spoke, it's tone badly slurred.
"Show yourself base coward!" demanded Namora.
"Very well. My name is Enric Zangar, and that is all you fools need to know. The world's time is now over, but since I had rather not deal with any more meddling fools." The voice said as a sudden wind picked up.
The wind went from soft breeze to near hurricane level in almost an instant. The three women were hard pressed to keep their balance, as the wind grew ever stronger.
"Where's Mary?" the She-Hulk shouted above the din.
"I don't know!" answered Miss America as she was white knuckling a lamppost.
"We can't stay out here much longer!" Namora shouted as she ducked a flying truck. Cars, debris and everything that wasn't nailed down was being picked up and tossed around like matchboxes.
"Wait, look over there!" Miss America pointed towards the center of the town and two women saw a most interesting sight-
The town hall was the only building that wasn't being touched by the winds. Every other building was being smashed by debris, yet the hall's lights were on and not even a stray newspaper cluttered the doorway.
"Then let's go!" the She-Hulk yelled as she dug her feet and hands into the pavement and fashioned herself crude handholds. Namora and Miss America followed suit and the three were slowly making their way towards the hall.
Zangar, his hair stark white and half his face frozen into a permanent grimace, limped over to the stage, where Mary Mitchell was currently tied down.
"Yes, this is how it should be." He slurred, half of his lips locked into place. "After that inhuman Vision caused my lighting spell to backfire, the people of this town me defeated."
Mary's focus was left on the older man's ramblings and more on the large knife in his hand as he crept closer to her. "With your blood and the souls of townspeople in my possession, I shall be able to piece the veil that was placed around the Forbidden Dimension, where the mighty Zom lies sleeping. With him under my command, I will rule this and every other world!" he cackled as he put the knife down with his one good hand and picked up a musty tome and started to read aloud.
Mary didn't know what the old man was saying, and she didn't care. The only thing she was focusing on was the lump in her hand.
Her flashlight (which she had been thankful hadn't been damaged when she was jumped) was still in her hands. With sweat beading on her brow, she waited for Zangar to get closer to her. His caterwauling from the book was nearing fever pitch, and Mary could guess that wasn't a good sign.
As he continued to read, Mary gently aimed her beam at the older man's eyes, and the second he bent over to place the book down and pick up the knife, she squeezed the button on the side and shut her eyes.
"My eyes!" screamed Zangar as the light of a hundreds lamps suddenly blasted directly into his face. "You witch I'm blind!" he cried as he stumbled backwards and fell on the floor in a heap.
Sitting up (although her hands and feet were still bound) and hopping away from the madman, Mary was knocked back by the door blowing off of its hinges.
Standing in the doorway were the three ragged yet determined forms of her friends. "He's crazy!" she yelled as she hopped towards them.
"Let me deal with this" the She-Hulk snarled as she bounded across the floor in two steps. Hosting the old man up by his neck, she grinned as he squirmed under her gaze. "Ok pal, call off the weather." She said as her grip tightened.
"N-never!" he wheezed as he made a few gestures with his free hand. Before anyone could comment on that peculiar hand gesture, their questions were answered when the windows imploded, bathing the hall in a deadly rain of glass shards.
"I may lack the blood, but I still have enough souls to open the doorway!" he gasped as he smashed a large green crystal near the podium.
"What on Earth?" Miss America marveled as the crystal cracked open and what appeared to be living globs of bluish white light to pour our of the crystal and hover near the stage.
Forming a circle, the globs began to spin rapidly, causing the area they were hovering over to become blurred as the image inside the circle cracked like an egg.
"I don't think that has anything to do with Earth!" the She-Hulk whispered as the old man limped towards the vortex.
Inside the circle, the image had changed to now show what looked like a grand throne room. Sited upon large steps made from gold was a large vase, flanked on each step by small-lighted lamps.
"The resting place of Xom!" Zangar said reverently, "And it's mine!" he said joyfully as he reached out with his one good hand and tried to enter the vortex.
Sadly his joy would be short lived as the She-Hulk grabbed him by the ankle and dragged him backwards. "Where do you think you're going wiseguy?"
"No, I can't beaten like this, and not by the likes of you!" he wailed as his hand began to glow.
"Wait land dweller!" Namora ordered as she approached the taller woman. "Let me assist you." She smiled as the two drew back their fists and punched the old man hard enough to liquefy his bones.
With a sickening 'thump', Enric Zangar flew through the air like a rag and hit the wall like a over ripe tomato. Slowly sliding down into a bloody heap, the two heroines were rewarded with the vortex closing and the globs flying past them and outside the hall.
"You think we should leave? Mary asked as she spied several of the towns people coming too.
"I think we should. Too many questions."
"What about him?" said the She-Hulk as she jerked a thumb in the corpse's direction.
"Leave it to me" came a voice that none of the women particularly wanted to hear ever again.
"Black Widow…" the She-Hulk moaned in dismay as the slinky figure seemingly walked out of the shadows. "Figures you show up once the hard work is already done." She groused.
"If that's going to be your attitude, then perhaps you would like to deal with the next insane sorcerer all on your own?" she snidely shot back as she casually slung the quite dead man over her back using just one hand and showing no signs of even breaking a sweat.
"As crude as she is, she does have a point." Namora stepped directly up to the shorter Widow. "You seem to possess both the strength and the power to handle him, yet you forced us to do your bidding. Why?"
"Reasons that are my own. You four should be more grateful; I mean really, you did just save the entire planet. How many humans can boast that, hmm?"
Turning around, she began to walk back into the shadows. Stopping suddenly, she glanced around at the four women. "Oh yes, how silly of me. ELZEERE, ELZZARD, ELZZURD, ENORD!" she said as she gestured with her free hand.
Before the women could comment and yet another hand gesture, they were blinded by a great flash of light…
New York City
Mary Mitchell woke up with a jump. "Oh, my head." She whined as she slumped back in her wooden chair. "Crazy dream" she muttered as the recent events that she had been a part of slowly faded from her memory. "I guess I should cut back on the Human Torch comics." She mussed as she slowly stood up and pooped her back. Glancing down she caught sight of something most peculiar.
The super flash she had been building on her own was now sitting out on her desk, despite her recalling placing it in her attaché case the night before.
"Hmm…naw. Must have been part of that weird dream." She thought as she picked up her flashlight and some stray papers. "Although, it did feel pretty nice to fight with superheroes. I wonder," her thoughts trailed off as she stared down at the light. "Maybe, just maybe…"
Inside the hospital, things were running strangely smooth.
Captain America and Captain Ross were talking in the hallway when Namora suddenly came around the corner.
"Are you alright?" Ross asked as the Atlantian princess held her hand to her forehead and leaned against the tiled wall.
"I'm alright, just dizzy." She murmured as she tried to blink the floor into focus. "I just had the strangest feeling; like I was somewhere else."
"I know what you mean, these raids can be a toll, can't they?" Captain America causally replied as he popped his neck.
Namora, mutely nodding, wandered over to a chair and sat down. Within seconds she was sound asleep.
As the two men continued their walk down the hallway, a sudden scream grabbed their attention.
"Jennifer!" Ross shouted as he recognized the voice.
Without even bothering to turn around he dashed towards the room where she was kept. Like a man possessed he barreled by doctors and nurses until he reached the room where Yeoman Walters was.
Kicking the door down and charging in with his gun drawn, he was quite surprised to see Jennifer Walters, pink and healthy, sitting up in her bed.
"What happened?" he demanded from one of the puzzled doctors.
"I don't know!" he stammered as he looked at Jennifer with a mixture of fear and awe in his eyes. "We were told her body was broken almost behind repair; and yet when we came in to move her to the operating theater she's perfectly healthy. It just doesn't make sense!"
"Doc, with this woman I've learned to accept the impossible." Ross said as he holstered his pistol.
"Ah. I see." The doctor replied as he and the nurses quickly backed out of the room.
"Since you're not in any danger, I do have other patients." The doctor told Jennifer as he left.
"You gave me bit of a scare there kiddo." Ross admonished as he sat down on the edge of the bed. "What really happened?"
"I don't know. The last thing I recall was being in the airship." She said as the events from the last few hours faded away like mist in the morning.
"Well, whatever or however, you're ok now." Ross said as he slowly put his hand over Jennifer's.
Her eyes downcast, she couldn't even lift her head as she tried to choke back the bitterness in her voice. "So I guess they'll have me sent to Alcatraz before the next sunset?"
Ross, looking like he'd rather face down an entire squad of Panzers rather than the fragile looking female before him, loosened his collar before he spoke.
"Actually…no." he said as he pulled out a sealed manila envelope out of his jacket.
Staring at the presidential seal and the words 'classified' stamped on it, Jennifer could only look up in confusion. "What does this mean?" she asked as broke open the seal and gazed over the official document.
"It means, in a nutshell, that you impressed the hell out of the top brass and that they want you assigned to active combat duty ASAP."
Jennifer gasped at the news. "You mean, I'll be fighting out there with Cap and the others?"
Ross shook his head as he stood up. "Not just yet, they still want to see what you can do, so you get a small break before then."
Ross, fidgeting like crazy, stammered out a phrase Jennifer never thought she would hear from him.
"Yeoman Walters, would you be interested in accompanying me on leave?"
As the silence grew thick enough to slice, Jennifer came to the realization that he was serious. "But, wouldn't you'd be worried I'd change?"
Ross just smiled and embraced her. "Darling, in all my years I have never met a woman like you, and I mean that from the bottom of my heart."
Jennifer giggled at the sappy line. "Well, I suppose, but let's not go any where with too much gray or green. I've think I've seen enough of those colors to last me a while."
Man, what a trip eh? But let's get down to business on the fan mail.
From regular B Oots
I am really enjoying the series. Please update soon, so I can read, if the She-Hulk is really dead or not?
Well B Oots, I hope this issue answered your questions!
From the man himself, the Manic! (Shortened to save space)
Yes I did read Savage Comics 8-very nice work indeed!
Praise from Caesar, but I must thank you sir, for inspiring me to write this series in the first place.
From an extremely cool reader in her own right, Tiffani!
Another very cool chapter. Uh-oh! There might be a little problem involving the de… well, I don't want to ruin it for anybody, now do I?
Well, I don't think that's going to be a problem now, is it? Thanks by the way for the well wishes. Every little bit helps.
Next time, the Blitzkrieger returns! Be there True Believer!