West Coast Avengers/Force Works

The Evil Men do, Conclusion

Forward Marches

&&&

The Story thus far: The West Coast Avengers and Force Works have discovered a plot to destroy The Dome of the Rock, the third holiest site of the Muslim faith. Two different extremist groups have been implicated and should anyone succeed in destroying the Dome, it would spark a world war! That might explain why a sixty foot Sentinel was slowly marching on Israel, and none of the heroes have any illusions as to why it's there!

Israel

Richard Rider thought he saw everything, giant robots, under ground races, intergalactic wars fought by silver space knights, almost everything in his rather long career for such a young man. And perhaps that's what made what he was seeing now seem so impossible. He was seeing something both impossibly huge and deadly not for the first time, but for the second.

The seventy foot robotic monster slowly marching towards Israel and the holy sites contained within was known as the Tri-Sentinel. The robotic head that sat atop its massive shoulders had three different sides, each one reflecting a different model of sentinel. Three massive arms swung on each side, each one containing power likely equal to that of the Hulk. And Nova didn't have to be the team's super genius to know that nearly every inch of that gigantic monster was packed with offensive weaponry.

But that only made their next course of action all the clearer.

"Everyone ready?" he asked behind him. A chorus of grunts and murmurs of assent was all he received. No one was looking forward to what they had to do. Nova was only in the lead because he was the fastest, after all.

Behind him trailed the combined powerhouses of both teams. The Kree-human hybrid Warbird, Thunder Goddess Tarene, the multi-powered Arsenal, invincible Iron Man, Protector of the Universe Captain Marvel and Kymaera the Sub-mariner, all wielding enough power, strength or both to equal a small army. It certainly wasn't the most powerful collection of heroes on the planet, but damned if they weren't powerful enough on their own.

The Human Rocket reached the towering robot first, crashing fist first. But instead of ultra hard steel, Nova felt as though he had just slammed into mattress, not the metal hide of a weapon of mass destruction. Nova could feel the energy on his skin, and though his body usually absorbed energy like a dry sponge absorbs water, but the power seemed to flow out of his body as quickly as it entered. The force field was just too mercurial to absorb, but more than enough to soften any impact from a high velocity super human. Kymaera was similarly repelled.

"I think we're going to need to cut our way into this tin can, no offense shell head!" Nova called out.

Tony Stark's eyes combed over the information his scanners were feeding his armor.

"Everyone, focus on the spot I'm firing on! Alternating frequencies, if you can!"

Warbird, Tarene, Arsenal, Captain Marvel, everyone save Kymaera directed their energies towards where Iron Man's repulsars were slamming against the hull of the giant triple robot. The combined heroes wielded enough power between them to sink an entire fleet within seconds.

And several forty seconds, they stopped to access the damage.

"…we didn't even scratch the paint!"

"I have to hand it to you humans," Captain Marvel stated, "your clunky weapons of mass destruction are fairly impressive. Though it would only take a level two Kree War ship to destroy this thing from orbit."

"Why the Avengers put up with his snotty attitude I'll never know," Arsenal sighed.

"Same reason why you put up with that little techno snot," Warbird explained, "he's useful."

"Look out!" Kymaera shouted.

The Tri-Sentinel suddenly sprang to have after having seemingly allowed the collected heroes to assault its form with immunity. An energy beam as wide as a bus lanced down from the center head, scattering the group. Two giant hands swung down and slammed both Iron Man and Tarene into the water, while another hand deployed capture cables aimed at Warbird, Kymaera and Arsenal. Nova and Captain Marvel moved in to help, but suddenly found themselves caught in a fearsome crossfire as energy beams lashed out from another set of giant hands. Stray laser fire filled the airspace, the entire area becoming a lethal live show.

"Fall back!" Iron Man called out as he emerged from the water, "everyone fall back, and that's an order!"

"Since when do we take orders from him?" muttered Nova as he and his teammates, never the less, did exactly as they were ordered.

Their ground bound teammates were waiting for them at the docks, the Israel military doing their best to keep the gawking spectators out of their hair. Even as the collection of super heroes touched down, a squadron of Apache attack helicopters and F-161 Sufa jets could be seen flying overhead. The Israelis were more than willing to allow the Avengers the first shot at this threat, but it would be naïve to think that they wouldn't want their own piece of the action.

Iron Man also knew it would be naïve to think that they'd have any actual effect.

"Any luck?" asked Hawkeye and Mirage as one as their teammates returned.

"None whatsoever," Iron Man informed them, "it barely noticed our combined power. We'd need at least three times the number of Avengers we have here to break through that thing's shields."

"At least that thing's pretty damn slow," Vagabond observed. To her silent amazement, the Tri-Sentinel was fighting off the Israeli attack force without destroying a single aircraft. Plenty of near misses and force fields were used to ward them off.

"It's not slow," corrected Kymaera, "it's waiting for the world to realize it's here. Remember, everything we've discovered so far appears to be an attempt to frame two different extremist groups for the destruction of a vitally important Jewish and Muslim holy site. To really piss people off, the world needs to see it as it happens."

"So that means we still got time before it steam rolls over us," Hawkeye snapped, "ideas anyone?"

"Well, we are at one o' the Holiest cities in the world," Two-Gun Kid noted," 'gainst somethin' like that, I think prayer might be a good option!"

"Maybe we could coordinate with the Israeli military, do hit and run attacks on one area of the robot?" Arsenal proposed.

"Wouldn't work," Iron Man countered, "that force field concentrates on areas under attack, according to my scanners. And even if we spread out our attack, we still don't have anyone powerful enough to break through the force field, let alone the armor."

"The solution is simple," Wiz Kid informed them, "we have to meet the Tri-Sentinel half way."

Everyone looked at Wiz Kid like he'd just grown a new head.

"Care to explain?" asked Mirage. Wiz Kid smugly indicated for the two teams to follow him.

"Our problem is that the Tri-Sentinel is protected by a defense system that adapts its response in proportion to the threat and reacts accordingly."

"Huh?" Nova grunted eloquently.

"He means the more powerful the attacker, the stronger the defense," Warbird explained.

"Exactly," by now the heroes reached where they'd parked their respective jets. The Quinjet was untouched, whereas the nose of Force Works' Stealth Wing was missing several panels, and wires were hanging out.

"So what's your plan?" Mirage asked with a heavy sigh, "the kid loves to hear himself talk," she whispered to Hawkeye.

"I can modify our Stealthwing so that the Tri-Sentinel's sensors won't register it as a threat. Darkhawk and Speedball will reinforce the ship with their respective force fields. With our heavy hitters providing a distraction and if we can hit a weak spot I believe I've discovered, I think we can get inside."

"Why don't we stuff our power houses into the plane?" suggested Arsenal, "if they get inside, they can do the most damage."

"Won't work," Wiz Kid shouted down as he continued fiddling with the Stealth Wing, "that many energy signatures would be impossible to cloak. Plus, so long as Marvel, Tarene, ET all are providing covering fire, they'll be seen as the greater threat. No, this'll only work if we use our least powerful."

"So what're we waiting for?" Hawkeye demanded.

"I'm…having a little trouble with a few interfaces," Taki admitted, "but if you'll give me a few minutes, I should have it."

Iron Man didn't hesitate to activate his boot jets, gently propelling himself upwards until he was beside Wiz Kid. With little more than a glance, he accessed the situation.

"Excuse me," Iron Man brushed and began fiddling around wit the innards of the jet, "you've miscalculated the capacity of that Stane designed power coil. Go one watt over the recommended limit and the thing will melt into high tech crap. And you haven't allotted enough power to the shield generators."

"I…I haven't yet finished!" defended Wiz Kid.

"Do it right the first time, and you don't have to come back to it," Iron Man explained, "look, I can handle this. Why don't you get Darkhawk and Speedball situated? I can handle things here."

"I have every cog, every mother board and wire memorized!" snapped Wiz Kid, "you'll…"

Iron Man gave Wiz Kid an 'why are you still here?' look, "I'm already halfway done, kid. Sooner you finish, sooner we stop that thing."

The mutant techno morph seethed inside, but acquiesced all the same, gently floating to the ground with his personal jetpack.

"Team 2, get inside. Speedball and Darkhawk will sit in the special seats in the back."

Team Two, composed of Hawkeye, X-Treme, Two-Gun Kid, Vagabond, Wolfsbane, and of course Speedball and Darkhawk.

"I think I'll be our pilot for this flight," Hawkeye declared, "no offense kids, but I've been doing this since you guys were counting along with Big Bird."

"Did you pass your latest senior eye exam then?" Speedball asked without missing a beat.

"Damn whipper snappers," Hawkeye sighed as he began the preflight, "in my day, we waited until we were in the thick of battle to question our clearly superior leaders!"

In the back, Wiz Kid was placing what looked to Darkhawk like a high tech life preserver and began adjusting dials.

"So you guys just have this stuff laying around, in case you need to plug a teammate into your plane?" Darkhawk asked, clearly astonished at the level of preparation these heroes, some barely older than himself, some much younger.

"Of course. Our jet is one of the most vital parts of our operation, and most vulnerable. Extraction is often the most vital part of a mission," Wiz Kid remarked, thinking back to a botched mission in Africa.

"See, that's why you ought to sign up with us, Darky. We got all the angles covered."

"When you gives put that much emphasize on the getaway, you sound more like badguys than heroes, Speedball!"

"Hmm, he's got you there," Wiz Kid adjusted a final dial on Speedball's vest, "There we go. Just project your energies into the vests, and that'll provide our plane with enough protection to break through that Sentinel's armor."

"You sure we won't just bounce off? I mean, that is what Speedball does."

"True enough, but it won't be Speedball's force field that'll provide the strength to punch through. His will be underneath yours, strengthening it, absorbing the shock and redistributing the impact allowing us entry. Or crushing the entire plane and killing us. I'm not entirely certain how our fields will interact with the Tri-Sentinels."

"Well, either way it'll be interesting," Speedball remarked.

"I've finished outside," Iron Man said as he entered the aircraft, "this thing is disturbingly easy to modify into a weapon. Everyone ready?"

"Almost. Mirage, get out," Wiz Kid said causally, like he was ordering a pizza.

"Excuse me?" the leader of Force Works snapped, "have you forgotten who's in charge here?"

"We'll need a constant line of communication between the two teams. Your telepathic link with Wolfsbane will be useful in that, and Rahne's powers would be of greater use inside the Sentinel than yours."

Iron Man looked at Mirage, who in Stark's eyes was the image of a warrior woman, then and then looked towards Wolfsbane, blushing slightly and couldn't have weighed more than a hundred pounds soaking wet.

"Are you sure…"

"No, he's right," Dani interrupted, "my powers are largely telepathic, useless against machines. But we're going to have a little talk later about respect and tact, Wiz Kid."

Almost as soon as he heard the door hiss closed, Hawkeye pulled the controls back and gave the computer consul to his left one last glance.

"You sure about this, 'Kid?"

"Do you really want to know the amount of conjecture, speculation and educated guesswork goes into my theory, or would you prefer to just to trust me?"

"Umm, do I really have to answer that?"

"I've mentally reconstruction the robot in my mind's eye, using extant technology, my complete study of sentinel technology and knowledge of what would be needed to move a thousand ton robot. Every nut, bulkhead, mother board and power cable to run that monster I have constructed within my brain, examined and discovered the flaws therein. It may be an educated guess, but I am very educated."

"Hmm, someone's a mighty touchy," Hawkeye observed.

"That's one hell of a target," X-Treme said from his copilot's seat, "even if he's right, there's no margin for error. You sure you can hit it?"

Hawkeye's smirk was as smooth as ice, "Kid, the name's Hawkeye, not purple arrow."

&&&

Danielle Moonstar never felt as helpless as she did she watched the Stealthwing climb vertically into the air, and dart straight for their looming enemy, the Tri-Sentinel.

"Attention team one, hit that thing with everything you have. Spread out your attacks and hold nothing back!"

Team one didn't have to be told twice. Tarene called forth a terrible thunderstorm, and lightning from the heavens assaulted the Sentinel's head. Captain Marvel unleashed an onslaught of energy at the robot's neck while Arsenal and Warbird focused their energies on opposite sides of the robot's chest. Nova and Kymaera focused on the robot's back while Iron Man unleashed a barrage of pulse bolt, his armor's powerful equivalent of energy missiles, at the Tri-Sentinel's right knee, which was as wide as the average building.

With all the energy saturating the air, Hawkeye found himself battling for control of the Stealthwing. The plane was expertly built, the turbulence outside would have shredded most other jets, but it was still struggling. Hawkeye flew the plane on pure instinct, calling upon years of both flying all types of sophisticated planes and hitting impossible targets, waiting until the last possible second before he poured on all the power they had to hit an otherwise impossible target.

Mirage screamed as shock and fear flooded the mind-link she shared with Wolfsbane as the Stealthwing hit the left knee of the Tri-Sentinel at full speed and exploded colorfully. It was Wiz Kid's conjecture that the knee, what with its need to bend and flex, would be the weak spot in the robot's armor. That the steel, plastics and force fields around it would have to be the weakest there, comparatively. A fiery explosion however didn't bode well towards that thesis, however.

"Mirage, did they make it? Did they get inside?" Iron Man demanded, instantly making Mirage regret giving the Iron Avenger her team's radio frequency.

Mirage focused on the telepathic link she shared with her oldest friend Wolfsbane, relieved to find it was still there and still active. But that wasn't enough; she needed to know the status of the entire team.

"They're alive!" Dani shouted with heart felt relief, "they're alive!"

&&&

"We're alive?" Hawkeye said with heart felt surprise. He looked around the dimly lit room (leg?). There were flood lights, exposed power cables and a small fire from the hole they'd punched in the Tri-Sentinel that provided enough light for Hawkeye to see that his team was all alive.

As luck would have it, there was a maintenance deck situated just below their entry point that most of his team was sprawled out across. They were banged up, bleeding, but still battle worthy.

He hoped.

"Don't 'pect me to happy 'bout that fact none," Two-Gun Kid groaned. The man looked greener than Hawkeye had ever seen anyone not affected by gamma rays look.

"So do we just start smashing things, or what?" asked Darkhawk.

"We need to make our way to the top," Wiz Kid stated as he picked himself up, "nothing vital will be down here."

Vagabond looked up as metal cables and wires stretched upwards to form an impressive technological peak that dwarfed anything she'd ever seen before.

"That's one hell of a climb. You sure there's nothing vital down here?"

"I don't know, I'd think your graves would be pretty vital to your next of kin."

The gathered heroes looked up to see Shadow Force hovering above them on one of Hardtime's solid air constructs.

"I have to say, as entrance lines go, that one was far too wordy," Speedball quipped.

Hawkeye notched three arrows and let them fly before Hardtime would respond to the insult. Much to his chagrin, he noticed that his screamer and flare arrows had no effect (they must have wised up) whatsoever, but his taser arrow was just as effective as before. Hardtime lit up nicely, and the platform he'd created for his fellows disappeared instantly.

Unfortunately, while Shadowforce might not have been the professionals Force Works and the West Coast Avengers were, they were still fairly well drilled. Airborne caught her two non flying teammates, the feral Ambush and heavily armed Firefight.

Their most powerful member by far, Oversize grew to a height of thirty feet and landed upon the platform with a boom that echoed throughout the leg of the robot and scattered the heroes like rice.

"Why are ye doin' this?" Wolfsbane begged, "the people who experimented you were put in prison and ye were cured!"

"They threw us back in the second the media forgot about us!" growled Ambush. She dropped down onto the platform, and lunged at Wolfsbane, "just like they'll do with I kill you!"

Ambush stopped in midair just inches before she stopped in midair, and fell flat on her face. Looking over her shoulder, she saw that Vagabond had caught hold of her leg.

"Tag team Wolfy?"

Rahne growled, "Aye."

Nearby, Hawkeye notched his third explosive arrow and let it soar until it exploded against the giant's forehead.

"As sympathetic as I am to your tales of woe, and I am, I can't let you guys start World War Three," Hawkeye said, "we outnumber you guys almost two to one. So why not make this easier for all of us?"

"Uhh, 'Hawk, it ain't gonna be that easy," Two-Gun Kid gulped. Looking up, he saw a half dozen Dreadnoughts bearing down upon them. Two-Gun Kid eyed several power cables dangling seductively ahead of the robots. With only four shots, the time displaced cowboy severed several from the wall, and they swung down to connect with three of the robots, lighting them up like a Christmas tree.

"Okay, this officially just got interesting!" Speedball ricocheted off the wall and slammed into three remaining Dreadnoughts, scattering them.

Several panels slip open to reveal capture cables, energy weapons and other devises meant to inflict grievous harm. Within moments they were calibrated and directed towards the heroes.

"Still feel so cocky?" Hardtime laughed earnestly, "the security system is designed to protect us and attack you!"

Hardtime felt someone grab him from behind and swing him around, and before he could fight back a bolt of electricity crashed through his body and he fell blissfully unconscious.

"I don't know," Vagabond chuckled, "I think the system works pretty good against you too!"

&&&

Captain Marvel, son of the greatest Kree hero, possessor of cosmic awareness, wielder of the powerful nega-bands and current protector of the universe, had had enough.

"I refuse to be beaten by some backwards robot with technology until to be used in a Kree toilet!" Genis' barked. His hands were blazing like newborn suns. No one save Nova and Iron Man could even look at the Captain, his power burned so brightly.

With a mental push, Captain Marvel directed all that impressive energy towards the Tri-Sentinel and to the astonishment of all, punched through both the force fields and robot like a cannonball through tissue paper. The blast struck the right shoulder of the robot, sliced through and just kept on going. Some hundred miles away, the remnants of the blast would leave earth's atmosphere.

"Damn!" Arsenal exclaimed, "I'm glad he's on our side!"

"Though there are days when I wonder…" Iron Man muttered.

Their victory was short lived. The Tri-Sentinel brought all its arms to bear on Captain Marvel, who was forced to end his attack to dodge. In his bravo, Captain Marvel refused to back away from the reaching arms. With smug ease, he used his cosmic awareness to bob and weave through them and rise straight up…where he was struck with the full force of an optic blast from the giant robot's head.

"Marvel!" Warbird watched in horror as the son of her best friend fell into the waiting hands of their enemy.

"Move, people move!" Nova snapped, "Tarene, Iron Man, give us cover fire! Arsenal, Warbird, get Marvel!"

The heroes soared into action. Iron Man fired every offensive weapon in his armor at their foe while Tarene hurled magic blast after magic blast. Warbird and Arsenal were at Captain Marvel's side in an instant, using their impressive strength to pry the giant fingers open just enough to allow Captain Marvel to burst free. Their mission accomplished, the heroes pulled back from the unmoving behemoth for a moment.

"That thing's completely repaired!" Marvel gaped, "what in Pama's name does it take to stop this thing?"

Before a response could be offered, a loud, ear splitting groan, like the horn of an ocean liner blared through the air. With amounting horror, the gathered heroes watched the machine take its first giant step, and then it's second.

"Oh this isn't good," Kymaera remarked.

"Pour it on!" Warbird barked, and almost every hero did, once again throwing every energy weapon or physical attack they could muster against the robot juggernaut to little or no effect.

Tony Stark, Iron Man, was the exception. His scanners had long since shown him just how powerful their foe was, and though he had no intention of giving up, he was still reluctant to go with his hastily conceived Plan B. He turned heel and head back towards shore, where Force Works' leader Mirage was waiting.

"Any luck?" Mirage asked as Iron Man set down in front of her.

"None whatsoever. That thing was built with us in mind. It's too adaptable to our powers and too strong to stop with physical force," Iron Man explained hurriedly, "you have a telepathic link with your teammate inside, right? How are they doing?"

"They're tied down with Shadow Force and the internal security systems," Dani answered, "they're holding their own, but I don't think they'll be able to make it in time!"

"Then it's up to you and me, then."

Dani gave the Golden Avenger a curious look, "Explain."

"In the process of creating devises to ward off mind control, I researched telepathy extensively" Iron Man began, "most telepathy can't affect machines for obvious reasons. But, I think that I can interface my armor with your telepathic projection abilities and in turn use them against the Tri-Sentinel. Your illusions were powerful enough to fool some of my sensors, and I think we could pull the same trick here."

"And the downside?"

"If it worked, not only would I have control over your mutant abilities, I've have almost complete control over your body and mind," Iron Man hesitated for a moment. Tony Stark knew better than anyone the emotional damage mind-control alone could inflict upon a person. The loss of control, the loss of sense of self and helplessness… it was maddening in and of itself. And to ask someone else to hand such control over to a virtual stranger obscene to Tony Stark. But desperate times called for desperate measures, "but there's no guarantee it'll work, and even if it does it may leave you brain dead. At best."

"Well, just watch the hands and we have a deal," Mirage quickly sat down into a lotus position, "and hurry it up. That thing could make it to shore in minutes if it wanted to. We both know the only reason it's dragging it out is because it wants the world's attention."

Iron Man placed his hands beside Mirage's head and issued a series of commands to his armor, "Brace yourself, Mirage. This won't be pleasant."

Iron Man activated his newly conceived protocols, and Danielle Moonstar would have screamed if she still had control over her body. It felt as if someone had just dug into her skull with a rusty spoon and was running charged electrical wires through her brain and out her eye-sockets.

Sweat began forming on Stark's brow as he began issuing a series of complex commands, all the while trying to determine what possible side effects his actions were having on his subject. It was like performing brain surgery with untested tools for the first time in history. To say it was risky was like saying the Indian Ocean was damp.

But Tony Stark could feel it working. His scanners were reporting how the sensors of the Tri-Sentinel were now saturated with psychic energy. With enough time, he would own that piece of junk.

&&&

"We're running out of time," X-Treme informed Hawkeye as he dropped down next to the Avenging Archer, "I'm sure you can feel this thing moving, and it doesn't have that far to go."

"Can't argue that," Hawkeye shot one of his few remaining explosive arrows into the open maw of a Dreadnaught. The head exploded in a shower of shrapnel, but Hawkeye wasn't one to celebrate. More than a dozen were left, along with assorted other security devises and most of Shadowforce. So far, they'd only been able to put Ambush and Firefight down for the count. The remaining three members were powerful in their own right unfortunately, "you got a solution?"

"I can make it up to the top in minutes, if you can give me cover," the alien warrior proposed.

"By your lonesome? No way. Take your tech guy with you," ordered Hawkeye. The two subconsciously backed to the periphery of the ongoing battle, if only for a second. Though Hawkeye had little trouble concentrating in a pitched battle, the extremely high stakes of this particular battle.

"Can't. They knocked him out, I had to stash him behind a bulkhead," X-Treme countered, "I just need cover fire, that's it."

"Alright, alright, get ready!" Hawkeye reached into his quiver with a smooth, fluid motion notched and fired. A glue arrow struck Hardtime's forcefeild, a tear gas arrow exploded in front of Airborne and the final arrow, an adamantium tipped arrow pierced Oversized's pinky finger, going half way through.

"Go go go!"

X-Treme didn't need to be told twice. He leaped towards the nearest gear and pushed off the moment he made contact, angling towards the cables dangling above them. Catching them with ease, the alien/human hybrid swung upwards what looked like a service panel. Grabbing hold of that, X-Treme continued his climb. He did it with such skill and ease Hawkeye couldn't help but think of Spider-Man.

"'Hawk!"

Chris Powell turned his head towards his leader, and saw the purple archer pointing up, where the former vigilante saw X-Treme disappearing into the metal mountain of the Tri-Sentinel above them.

Darkhawk activated his wing gliders and leaped into the air as he fired his cable claw high into the air above them. Once he felt it grab a hold of something, he reeled himself up, hot on X-Treme's heels.

"Everyone form on me!" Hawkeye barked.

No one argued. Within seconds, Hawkeye was side by side with Two-Gun Kid, Wolfsbane, Vagabond and Speedball.

"Patty cake time is over. Let's take these losers out behind the tool shed!"

&&&

"I don't know what they're doing, but I'll be damned…it's working!"

The gathered heavy hitters watched in amazement as the Tri-Sentinel stopped just a city block's length from Israel's Hadera shore. Three more steps from the behemoth, and it would have been inside the city proper.

"You get used to miracles when working with Iron Man," Warbird quipped.

"Did they shut it down, or just stop it?" asked Tarene.

"Hell if I know, I don't even know what he did!"

Captain Marvel focused his cosmic awareness for a moment, and then looked towards his teammates startled.

"There is a squadron of Israel military jets on an intercept course, and if they hit the sentinel…!"

The roar of the approaching jets drowned out Marvel's statement, but it hardly mattered. If years of experience as heroes taught them nothing else, it was that Murphy's Law had a way of asserting itself at the worst times.

Three Israel made F-161 Sufa jets overshot their enemy and began looping around, their computer systems having no difficulty at all locking onto their huge target.

"Crap," Arsenal deadpanned.

"I'll see if I can stop them, you guys make sure they don't connect!" Warbird snapped.

Nova, Captain Marvel, Arsenal and Tarene moved forward to, ironically enough, protect their seemingly indestructible enemy.

The Israel jets either didn't notice that the heroes were moving to protect the Tri-Sentinel, or didn't care. With the click of a button, six specially designed EMP missiles that were enough to black out a third world nation, if they struck their target.

So the pilots were quite surprised when they saw Captain Marvel indifferently incinerate three, Nova barrel through and destroy two and Tarene calling down lightning from the sky to disable the rest. The multi-million dollar missiles were so much junk now on their way to settle on the ocean floor like so much other debris.

"This is the Avenger Warbird, authorization code Paladin Omega ten three, please respond!" Carol Danvers eyed the Israel jets with trepidation. The first salvo was stopped easily enough, but Carol knew that the Israelis weren't people who just threw up their hands at the first sight of possible failure.

"This is commander Faynberg! Mind telling me why your friends just screwed up my operation!"

"Because this is our operation, commander! Pull your people back!"

"You are in Israel's internationally recognized borders, you do not give the orders here!"

"Fine, you explain to your superiors why you disobeyed a direct request from an Avenger then!"

Arsenal, who'd overheard the exchange, gaped open mouthed as the Israeli jets broke off and headed towards home. A former member of the air force, Arsenal knew just how many hoops and how much authority one needed to so much as organize a practice flight, much less call off interceptor jets during what would certainly qualify as a national emergency.

"…wow." Was all Arsenal could think to say.

"The pay ain't great, the danger is mind numbing, but at least the respect more than makes up for all of it."

"Let's hope we bought Iron Man enough time to finish whatever it is he's doing," Nova commented.

&&&

"I think that's enough," Iron Man commented, "I've seized control of their navigation and though they don't know it yet, scrambled their sensors to hell. They won't be moving for a while."

"Not…good enough!" Mirage forced out through teeth clenched hard enough to break skin.

"It'll have to be. The longer I keep this up…"

"Don't…stop…!" Mirage feebly attempted to lift her arms to keep Iron Man's hands beside her head, but considering the Golden Avenger had almost complete control over her body, her arms just shook for a moment before dropping back to her side.

But Iron Man still recognized the tremendous amount of willpower that it took to do just that, and felt his respect for the young leader climb. He couldn't find it within himself to completely condone their actions, but he consciously realized, for the first time, that without a doubt their hearts were in the right place, and wasn't that what made a hero?

"Alright then. Here we go again…"

&&&

The Shi'ar warrior X-Treme and neophyte Avenger Darkhawk took a moment to catch their breath. They'd just either fought or by passed too many defenses to count, and had reached their objective in record time. When the duo reflected upon it later, they would agree they were in all likelihood allowed to reach their objective as (relatively) easily as they had because their mysterious foe simply did not have reason to fear them.

For now, they could only hope it would be his undoing.

Darkhawk and X-Treme tore through the door with ease, and stopped instinctively. Though they lost the element of surprise, both heroes had long since learned that blindly rushing it invited failure.

And though in theory, they were prepared for anything, that was far more easily said than done.

Standing in the center of the room was a man dressed in a costume straight out of a 70s blaxploitation movie with a smoothly shaved head. Behind him was a screen that displayed the rapidly approaching Israel coast and if your eyes were keen enough (and Adam's were), the sacred Dome of the Rock could be seen inching closer and closer.

Naturally, examining the villain's costume, Darkhawk's first thought was 'when did Luke Cage become a villain?'.

"Welcome heroes," the man said slowly, "my name is Moses Magnum. You two have the honor of seeing the spark that will ignite the entire world in war!"

"Flattered," X-Treme attacked first, with his sword in one hand and axe in the other, he intended to disembowel the villain. Desperate times called for expedient measures.

The nearly indestructible blades, fashioned from alien metals designed to withstand space travel and reentry, stopped dead.

Darkhawk barely ducked in time to avoid X-Treme's hurtling body. Snapping out his glider wings, Darkhawk shot up and unleashed a volley of darkforce blasts at Magnum, who barely seemed annoyed.

"Is this all your power, boy?"

Magnum leapt into the air and tackled Darkhawk. The two slammed down on the floor with Darkhawk on the bottom. Moses Magnum picked himself up, grabbing Darkhawk by his helmet and hauling him up to eye level.

"My power is to channel the seismic forces of this planet into my body. A bit more impressive, don't you think?"

Only a second later, Magnum found himself thrown against the far wall where he came down atop priceless guidance computers and other sophisticated technology that guided this giant death trap.

"Power still needs leverage, skill…" X-Treme helped the still aching Darkhawk stand, "besides, we've already won."

X-Treme pressed a button on his belt, and the room around the two heroes exploded spectacularly. X-Treme had a big, stupid grin on his face for a whole ten seconds until he felt the Tri-Sentinel still moving.

Moses Magnum grinned like a wolf as he took in the destruction, "What kind of fool operation do you think I run, boy? Do you think I would build a monster this size and have only one means of control? The Corporation wouldn't bank roll an operation that foolish! I transfer the controls to a secondary system before you got within a hundred feet of this station!"

"…crap," Darkhawk summarized.

Moses Magnum cracked his knuckles, "Now, where were we?"

&&&

"Almost there!" Iron Man assured Mirage, but the pounding in her skull drowned out everything but the pain. By now, he'd used her mental powers to assume total control over their enemy, but that only worked so long as Mirage stayed conscious.

And try as she may, Danielle Moonstar was finding that task to be hard and harder. She mind felt as though her nerves were replaced with live wires and grafted onto her body. What made it a thousand times worse was that Dani didn't even have enough control over her body to so much as clench her teeth, let alone howl in pain like she wanted to.

"Almost…there!"

&&&

"Only a little time now…"

X-Treme and Darkhawk, battered and bloodied, slammed into the wide screen monitor and slid down on their asses.

Moses Magnum stood before them, looking none the worse for wear. In fact, he was beaming with pride as he looked past the two where the Dome of the Rock was now only three city blocks away.

"…and this will all be over. You will be dead, the Dome destroyed, the world at war…and to think, this was just a prelude."

"Prelude?" coughed X-Treme.

The powerful arms dealer opened his mouth, then paused, "I'm sorry, I fear I've said too much already. Let's just say this venture was sponsored by certain others with whom I wish to make an alliance. Ready to die now?"

X-Treme pushed himself to his feet, and Darkhawk could see the warrior reach for something hidden in his belt.

"I'm going to try something really stupid and desperate. We'll have one shot…"

Even Darkhawk was surprised by what he said next, "I'm an Avenger. We don't miss."

With one great leap, X-Treme shot over Magnum like a well thrown football. Landing behind the villain, X-Treme slapped two things of plastic explosives on both ears. By the time Magnum had pivoted to turn around, Adam had already leapt away, depressing the button that activated his final two detonators.

Moses Magnum's head disappeared underneath a small fireball, and his scream of pain could have been heard for miles, literally. He staggered, and was hit by a freight train of ebony energy courtesy of Darkhawk. When he hit the specially reinforced walls of the Tri-Sentinel, Magnum barely slowed in his journey before being propelled outside and far, far away.

"How's that…for one shot?" Darkhawk asked between gasps. His chest plate was smoldering and the young man was on his knees. If his robot body had actual lungs, Chris Powell suspected he'd be gasping for breath now.

"'Hawk, do you feel that?" asked X-Treme quickly.

The floor beneath them shook, and was then torn in twain by a laser blade. Their missing teammates spilled out.

"Sorry we're late, those Shadowforce losers took a little longer to beat into submission than I thought, plus the hike…!"

"Where's the bad guy?" inquired Speedball. Darkhawk silently pointed towards the hole in the far wall.

"Dang. Guess we were…"

"Too late," Wolfsbane whispered. The gathered heroes turned their attention towards the monitor, where they saw what had once been the Dome of the Rock was now a smoldering crater.

"I can't believe it. They actually won…the villain won," Vagabond felt a chill run down her spine as she recalled her secret debt, "the villain won…"

"Umm, guys?"

"This bodes ill for the Middle East peace process, to put it mildly," Wiz Kid observed, "this takes it all the way back to the beginning, at least."

"Guys! Nothing happened!" Speedball shouted, and then pointed towards the hole Darkhawk created. Israel could be seen in the distance, and a vast track of ocean between them and the shoreline.

"Don't trust everything you see on TV…"

&&&

Naturally, when a politically important and historically volatile Holy Site is reportedly threatened, the entire world (especially the immediate region) demand answers. The press conference was held by both teams with Iron Man and Hawkeye representing the West Coast Avengers and Mirage and Kymaera representing Force Works.

Namorita did her best to keep the press' furor to a minimum, but it was like trying to contain a tempest in a teapot. Within seconds of her explanation of why the Tri-Sentinel was standing outside, how it related to two terrorist groups captured earlier and how it might have affected the Dome of the Rock, the press room exploded in a furor of questions.

"Will Israel be allowed to keep the weapon of mass destruction?"

"The Tri-Sentinel will be dismantled by an international team, rest assured that it will not menace another nation," Kymaera assured them.

"How do we know this wasn't a frame-up by radical extremist groups?" asked another reporter, hate lacing every word.

"Because clearly, neither of the two groups involved had the resources to enact a plan like this," Kymaera explained.

"People might find it convenient that Moses Magnum escaped? How else can we confirm this story?"

Kymaera hesitated, and sensing an opening like a sharks smells blood, the gathered media pounced in a maddened frenzy.

"Aren't Sentinels primarily a weapon of the United States? How do we know they weren't a part of this?"

"Do you really know how well funded those radicals in France really were? How do we know a local oil rich government wasn't in fact backing them?"

"Why did you allow that thing to get as close as it did?"

And the leading questions from all political spectrums continued. By the time Kymaera had an answer to one, another five were thrown in her face.

For a moment Moonstar thought she might have to intervene, (which wasn't an appealing thought considering her migraine) when a high pitched whistle interrupted everyone.

"Now that I've got your attention, the Avengers can set the record straight," Hawkeye took the podium with natural ease and the most disarming grin Mirage had ever seen, "Moses Magnum, class A jerk and world class war monger, tried to start a war by framing two separate groups of whacko's for destroying the Dome Rock thing. But we whupped him and his cronies good. Shadowforce is going to jail. The three in one sentinel will be dismantled and turned into coke cans by Stark Enterprises. You have the word of the Avengers. Now…any more questions?"

There were murmurs of assent, and though there were plenty of follow-up questions, no one dared challenge Hawkeye's promise. To do so would challenge the moral authority of the Avengers themselves and no one wanted to do that without the proper ammunition.

Satisfied that the matter was well in hand, Mirage silently excused herself to get some air on the roof. After a few minutes and a moment's reflection, Iron Man followed.

He found her on the roof, looking out where the Tri-Sentinel was being illuminated by the setting sun. It was in Tony Stark's mind the most disgusting thing he'd seen in a long while. Such incredible technology, resources and willpower devoted not to the betterment of humankind, but devoted to war, death, and destruction. The cold, heartless part of technology that Stark loathed.

"How are you feeling?" Iron Man asked, "What I did…wasn't exactly approved in most medical circles…"

"Women go through pain on a monthly basis," Mirage answered matter of factly, "I'll be fine. But I will get a check up on Muir Island, if it makes you feel better."

"It would."

"The name 'Corporation' ring any bells? According to X-Treme, that's who Magnum was trying to impress with this scheme."

"Historically? Yes. Recent problems, no."

Mirage shrugged, "Well, if you don't run across them in the future, we will. That's usually how these things work."

"True enough."

An awkward silence blanketed the area for a moment.

"You have something you want to say?"

"Want? No," Iron Man sighed, "but I need to say it anyways. When I founded Force Works, it…wasn't with the best intentions. The West Coast team was on its last legs, my life was falling apart…I just needed something I could control.

With an attitude like that, it's no wonder the team fell apart long before it actually disbanded. When I heard about you youngsters, I'll admit, I was angry about your name choice. But seeing you in action…Force Works under me and my friends wasn't a legacy to be proud of. I'm confident you'll make the new legacy of Force Works a better one."

Mirage took in Iron Man's statement for a moment before answering,

"I'll be honest. Before, I didn't think that your blessing would mean that much to me. I had no idea how wrong I was. Thank you, Mr. Stark."

If Iron Man was startled, he didn't show it. The two heroes shook hands in understand, and went to their teams.

&&&

Epilogue 1

Moses Magnum, a powerful villain who'd once battled the X-Men and Wonder Man single handily, stood on bended knee in a secret room with several monitors focused upon him. It was humbling to a man of his ability, but like all power mongers Moses Magnum lusted for more. And he knew that if he ever wanted to truly achieve more, he would need to soothe over this...miscalculation.

"You failed. The day is out, and the world is at peace." The voice was scrambled, yet vaguely feminine. The anger was unmistakable.

"There were…unforeseen factors," Magnum defended.

"We provided you complete dossiers on the West Coast Avengers, complete access to our technologies which enabled you to restore the powers of Shadowforce. All you had to do was carry out this attack," this voice held a slight African accent, but had the tone of a silver tongue, "not only did you fail in this, but you compromised our existence to Force Works and the Avengers. We are not pleased, boy."

Moses Magnum gritted his teeth, but didn't lose control. His powers were dampened, and even if they were, making an enemy of these people over an insult was pure foolishness. Swallowing his pride, Magnum made one last plea,

"One more chance is all I ask. No one could have predicted Force Works would have gotten involved. Do we even know why?"

"Life is what happens when you have other things planned, my comrades used to tell me," said another voice, a Russian accent slicing through the scrambled voice, "if you can't handle life, then you are of no use to us. You may see yourself out, Magnum."

The screens terminated instantly, leaving the armors dealer alone with his thoughts. Without thinking, Magnum lashed out at the ground and utterly destroyed the abandoned warehouse they had been using as a relay station. Considering the power of the people he had been petitioning, it was the only measure of vengeance common sense would allow.

&&&

Epilogue 2

It was well into early morning by the time the Avengers Quinjet touched down in Force Works' hangar. The team exchanged a few mild pleasantries, but both teams were eager to call it a day and hit the sack.

"You sure you don't wanna join us?" Speedball asked his old friend Darkhawk one final time.

Chris Powell, Darkhawk, looked towards his teammates piling into their jet, and then towards Force Works.

"Thanks for the invite Speedy, I mean it, but…I think someone needs to save the world so you guys can change it."

The End