After a recent brush with death, I am back for at least one more chapter and advancing things. Really rough draft but I am happy about doing something. Probably a few more writing mistakes than usual.

Avenging

Act IV

The Hate Monger and the Peacemaker

Chapter 4

Any and all C+C appreciated. You can contact me at:

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Standard disclaimer: I don't own any of the Marvel characters or other characters from the numerous animes which are within.

Here's a great reference guide for many character and objects in the Marvel Universe.

[ . ]

Forward: What's gone on before. The Hate Monger drove a mutant singer crazy, who then tried to make everyone else crazy, before being stopped by both Thor and some other mutants. Someone was upset at making a mistake at a party Kodachi and Captain Japan (and the late Orochimaru) attended and is cleaning up her mess with her shapechanging, power duplicating minion and is whacking some of the partygoers and covering up her tracks. And oh yeah, Nabiki found out Ranma was Captain Japan.

PS: The epilogue ties into the party in Chapter 1

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Nabiki Tendou had a problem. She knew Captain Japan's identity... and couldn't do anything with it.

Ordinarily such information would be a source of revenue to make a gold mine look like a social security check, but the problem lay in *who* he was: her live-in, unwanted, might-be fiancé. Blackmail would be the normal choice, but given Ranma and his 'paragon of virtue' ideology, she just couldn't see him caving in. You couldn't bluff in blackmail. Do it once and they never believed you again. And she couldn't actually release his identity for a number of reasons.

The first was every super-villain in a pair of tights would descend on the Tendou home and turn it into a combat zone. Two encounters with super-villains in her life was more than enough for Nabiki Tendou, thank you very much. No more masked freaks were needed.

The second was almost as repellent as the first: the fathers would insist she be his fiancée since her martial arts skills would enable her to stay alive much more easily than her handicapped or homemaker sisters. She knew on some instinctive level this would be the outcome. No way in hell was that happening.

And so she had no real choice. Damn it.

She looked across the table at the somewhat sedate Ranma, waiting for her ultimate reaction. No sense in dragging things out. Better to lose short term gain in exchange for losing very long term, terrible pain.

"I'll never tell a soul of your secret identity." Nabiki threw in, "But you really owe me one, Saotome." She'd find some way to get him to pay her back if he felt like he owed her. She'd just have to be careful not to ask for too much or push him too far. Favors weren't as effective as blackmail, but they'd do.

Ranma was visibly relieved. "Thanks. Actually, it'll be kind of good not having to hide my identity around you. The whole 'Lucky Hubcap' thing, well, it felt like I was dodging bullets rather than deflecting them, like I usually do."

Oh yes, the fact he talked about people shooting at him like it was an every day occurrence, one that didn't strike him as odd, that was the exclamation point that this was definitely the best course of action.

"I'm not becoming a super hero," she informed him.

Ranma looked at her in surprise. "I wasn't thinking you would, though I guess that sort of thing does tend to happen. You know, people around a hero becoming ones themselves." He considered that. "It's a pretty silly idea that you, or your sisters, would become fellow crime fighters or something."

Nabiki envisioned Akane and Kasumi as costumed vigilantes, and found herself enjoying the best laugh she had in years.

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Dr. Tofu took another hit from the bottle he had stashed in his office. He had actually grabbed a swig, maybe two, right before he had seen his last patient, but it was close enough to the end of office hours he was fine. But with all the frustrations in his life, he needed just a little something to help out. And help out it did. Things actually became clearer, and certainly easier, after a drink or two.

Damn that stupid machine Pym had sent him. It was responsible for the mess his life had become. Not so much what it had done to him directly as Kasumi, the love of Tofu's life. It had somehow addled her brain, making the ideal woman into some kind of hot violence machine. And she didn't even see anything wrong with it! Even now she was on monitor duty for the Avengers, which she volunteered for all the time, hoping for something to go wrong. Trouble wasn't something you sought out: it found you. Only fools and the mentally unbalanced went looking for trouble.

Tofu took another hit. He wasn't deliriously happy like he used to be when he was around Kasumi. Those were the days. He could barely remember them due to his mental state, but wasn't happiness bliss? Now it had all gone wrong. She was actually trying at times. Kasumi! It was inconceivable. And that word meant exactly what he thought it meant. What that woman needed was someone, some man, to tell how things would be. That was the advice his mother gave, and she had had the happy marriage of a proper Japanese woman. Maybe a bit of putting his foot down (and it could be a big foot when he went large), would bring Kasumi in line. Revert her into the ideal woman she had been. Attacking dust was the most violent thing she should do. Yes, best to get this super hero nonsense out of her head. Shake it out of there somehow.

He'd take a few more drinks and come up with just how to go about it. Or maybe he'd just finish the bottle and do it tomorrow. The whiskey did taste pretty great.

Who said alcohol didn't make everything better?

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Shiro Yoshida took another drink. It didn't make anything better. Nothing could wash away the bitter taste of humiliating defeat. Stripped of his title. His country on a downward spiral of humiliation. His society falling apart around him. Would the gods talk everything away from him? They were doing a good job of it so far.

His mind flashed back to the events of a few weeks ago.

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Sunfire flew through the air, answering this ridiculous challenge by his cousin. True, somewhere along the line women, who were inherently stupid to begin with, had in recent years been denying the superior role of males. But Rei Hino was stupid even for a woman. Why did the god's curse her with abilities identical to his? True, identical mutations occasionally ran in families, but to give his gifts to a woman? It was an affront to the natural order.

And here she was, flying in a sailor fuku with orange and red flames around it. His costume was a hundred times better. And the ultimate travesty: she was daring to challenge him to the name of Sunfire. She was barely worthy of wiping his bottom!

However she was family, and honor demanded he afford her yet another chance at avoiding her inevitable humiliation. "Cousin, come to your senses. Your place is to be a shrine maiden, or better yet, married to some man, bearing his children and keeping his house, as is befitting for all women."

And then she had the audacity to sound angry. "That archaic way of thinking was outdated even in the previous century. Your nationalistic pride, your sexist mentality, your conceited superiority complex about all things Japanese, and just your personality in general, is why you must be stripped of your title and have it passed on to one who would lead Japan into the next century, rather than being dragged into the previous one."

"Our country is in shambles thanks to the weakening of our culture due to outside influences!" he railed, but enlightenment still eluded her. Worse was her actual response.

"It's true we are going through a time of strife, but it can be fought through," And then her voice took on a distant cast. "I have seen it in visions in my fire. A silver millennium ruling over all with a gentle hand of love. It happened before; it shall happen again. And I shall serve at the side of she who will usher us to an eternity of peace and prosperity once again, with love over all."

And that was when he knew she was insane, and if he wasn't destined to win because of his superior gender, he would because she was out of her mind. And everyone knew the insane never won.

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Except she had. It had been by the narrowest of margins, but she had bested him fairly. It was inconceivable, but at the same time it had happened. He was there and witnessed it himself. And now he was here, drinking everything he could until the room was spinning and the chair moved itself to the floor while he was sitting in it. And now the nice large men were picking him up and throwing him into the alley onto a nice pile of garbage.

It was probably cold out, but the nice thing about having the mutant ability of solar radiation generation was that you were never cold.

"Ah, I've found you at last."

Shiro was on his back, slightly elevated on the pile of garbage he had been thoughtfully thrown upon, so his vision was upside down. Still, even in his saki soaked brain he could tell that the figure was a large man wearing a purple conical mask and matching tabard with an 'H' on it. "You look so much cooler than a pink elephant," Shiro slurred.

"We dyed Peanuts once. It's really not impressive," The Hate Monger walked close enough to make eye contact. Shiro's gaze met his suddenly he more aware. Those eyes were beyond anything human. Nothing human could be filled with such rage. That kind of anger burned through anything and left nothing behind.

Something tickled in the back of Shiro's mind. He could feel the anger. It was palpable, emotion given physicality. His heart stirred as the Hate Monger spoke.

"Such rage. You are admirable, for your kind. Nothing but constant hate fills you. Justified hate. But then, all hate is justified when you get down to it. Love is embraced by society, hate shunned. Ironic because hate is the true fuel which humanity burns in. They can never escape it, never avoid it, no matter how hard they try. Dancing on the razor's edge of love while praying they never lose their precarious balance lest they fall into the pit of rage which snaps and bays at them, ready to revert them to their natural state.

"Your kind was so much more honest when you were more primitive. Civilization is nothing more than a veneer of lies you tell yourself when deep down inside I represent all you can ever truly hope to be.

"As hate fuels humanity, hate fuels you in a way no mere homo-sapien could. Atomic fires which course through your body. Those same fires can burn the cancer which consumes your homeland. Embassy Row is located nearby, Shiro Yoshida. You can burn out the foreign invaders the way your body can burn out any foreign intruders. You are Japan, and Japan is you. Save your homeland. Save yourself.

"You were born to burn."

And Shiro Yoshida knew his words gospel, and what Truth finally was.

Let it all burn.

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"... and man said, that was no ladle, that was man's knife. HAHAHAHA... why Red Man not laughing at Hulk's joke?"

Daredevil sighed. "Because it lacked humor, something that is required for a joke."

"Hulk is master of dazzling word play!" he insisted. "Stupid Satan Man not know good joke if Hulk's fist hit him in head."

"Why did you just call me that?" Daredevil snapped.

"Woman on TV say stupid man worship Satan. And Man is stupid for not appreciating Hulk's sense of humor. And man is man, not woman. So... Stupid Satan Man."

"I'm an atheist! And another thing. If you can say all of that in reference to my name, you can also say Daredevil, which is my real name. It would be shorter and easier, in fact."

"Yes, but Hulk's names are more descriptive and accurate. Stupid Shield Man is stupid man who uses shield. Pretty Hammer Girl is girl who has hammer and is pretty. See? System works. Hulk will continue to use it."

"I..." For once, the blind adventurer was speechless.

And then his potential embarrassment was derailed as Wasp flew into the room and shouted in a gleeful voice. "There's an incident along Embassy Row. We need to get there now!

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They were burning now. Five embassies had fallen to the flame. Shiro had allowed the people inside five minute to evacuate. He wanted these scum who would dare emasculate his country to see what it meant to be rendered impotent. Burning to death, their despair would end too soon. Let them live in pain, for that was where true torture lay.

The next one in the row was Genosha's. Shiro was saving the greatest cancer for last. Once he burned the U.S. Embassy they would tremble and know Japan had become like the much vaunted phoenix, only it would be from their defilers' ashes that their rebirth would spring forth. Then Japan could go forward to the glory it so richly deserved, with no one standing in their way this time. Japanese superiority was inevitable.

As Shiro issued his warning he saw someone in olive drab rush out, lacking any sort of weapon. Shiro was about to announce the need for them to evacuate when there was a *bamf*. He was only vaguely aware of a figure appearing in a flash of light and a small cloud of what smelled like brimstone.

Then a fist struck Shiro from the right. Before he collect his wits there was another bamf and the figure disappeared, only to reappear in a another bamf that came so fast it was almost like the first. Another blow, this one in his gut. Then another from a different direction. And again.

He was threatening to lose consciousness. No! He would not fail! He was Shiro Yoshida, the salvation of Japan.

So he lashed out the only way he could that would ensure his foe's death.

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On the ground, Daniel McKellen, mutant 10056, (aka 'Demon)'s handler, watched in glee as the teleporting mutant beat the hell out of the former 'superhero'. How dare some mutant attack Genoshan soil. This was proof the freaks needed to be collared and controlled all over the world, not 'worked with' like that damned Alice Academy implied. Unfortunately they were slowly insinuating themselves into Japanese society as 'equals' (as though the genetic misfits were human in someway). A dangerous attitude. Genosha had shown the world the proper way to maintain control of the tools, which was all mutants were. And they were not slaves, as some implied. You had to be human to be enslaved.

Acquiring Demon had been fortunate, since Genosha had been secretly going overseas to increase its workforce. The German catch had been one of the better ones, as was being proven now. Once 10056 brought down the mutant terrorist, their government could have a nice public trial and execute the mutant for daring to attack his betters on Genoshan soil. Let that be a warning to the likes of Magento and his kind.

And then there was a flash of light. McKellen saw Demon's skeleton highlighted for just a second before it was rendered into ash.

Then McKellen got to experience total immolation firsthand.

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The Hulk landed a quarter mile away from the blinding light that consumed the entire Genoshan embassy and grounds. It had been a sphere of fire that had burned everything.

Wasp and Daredevil got off the Hulk's back. They had decided it would be quicker to let the emerald goliath get them there in several leaps than dragging the quinjet out, prepping it for flight, boarding, landing, unloading, etc. It also meant clinging to the Hulk for dear life the entire way. For Wasp, she had wings so it meant little, and while Daredevil did have a parachute tucked away, he still didn't like falling, even in safety.

Now Wasp was all eagerness. "Let's get him."

Daredevil turned to her, horrified. "Are you insane? Did you see what he just did? He melted everything around him. "He'll fry us into ash like he just did to everyone else!"

"We can take him," she insisted.

"No, we can't. You can't dodge him if there's nowhere to dodge."

"He looks weakened. If we rush him now we can beat him."

"We can get kille-"

The rest of the diatribe was cut off as the Hulk flicked his pinkies into the back of his teammates' heads. Daredevil had been right, so Hulk made certain the pair wouldn't be harmed.

Actually, he had only needed to do that to Wasp, since she was the only one that had wanted to go. He had knocked out Daredevil since he had refused to laugh at the Hulk's jokes. So everything worked out in the end.

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Shiro was just coming fully around from the beating that had been administered to him. How dare they these scum try to stop him from his righteous crusade in removing the foreign threat from his lands. They had received the deaths they so richly deserved. In fact, he'd just start killing everyone rather than warning them. Let their fiery demise herald a new age of glory for his country.

It was out of the corner of his eye Shiro spotted the movement of green. He flew left, feeling six-inch thick fingers graze against his back and nearly bring him down. Flying a distance away, he spotted what could only be the Hulk. Damn him! He must not be Japanese after all. Only a foreign dog, or a traitor, could not see the honorable actions Shiro was taking. Or possibly he was just that stupid.

The Hulk had landed and was turning, preparing for another leap. Traitor or fool mattered little. He would have to...

"Dieeeee!" Shiro shouted as he unleashed a torrent of flame that would melt the Hulk where he stood. His body was enveloped in flame for several seconds. Once Shiro ceased the maelstrom he focused to see if there were any remains. The Hulk was reputed to be durable, after all.

Instead the Hulk stood there in now puddled ground, terribly naked and extremely angry.

"That was hot!" he raged.

Shiro couldn't believe it. Nothing could withstand his holy flames of retribution. This one had to die more than anyone, for no one could resist Shrio in his struggle for national redemption.

Again he unleashed a gout of flame, double the size of the first. He could hear the Hulk's screams of pain over the fury of fire. He should have been dead. Already weakened, Shiro poured everything he had into his wave of heat. He landed on the ground, unable to spare the power and concentration for flight.

And then he could see a dark figure move against the flames.

"Nooooo!" Shiro shouted, and poured out fire that liquefied everything in its path, an inferno which nothing spawned purely of nature could survive.

And still the Hulk screamed in agony and approached.

Shiro could see him now, and he was at his limit. No, the hate fueling him would never let him go out. He had to kill the Hulk. Had to kill him. Had to...

And his mind snapped and Shiro went beyond any previous limit he had before. Hot enough his body started consuming itself. On some primitive level it was now him or the Hulk, who was standing right before him. He had to die. Had to.

And then the Hulk's hands reached over Shiro's, and squeezed. The pressure shattered both irreparably.

There was a moment of agony for Shiro, and then he collapsed to the ground, unconscious.

And the burned mess that was the Hulk collapsed to the ground, his body undergoing a metamorphosis into that of Ryouga Hibiki.

He lay there like that as sirens drew near. Lucky for him, Daredevil had recovered, and whisked his teammate away before messy questions could be asked.

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Ryouga was wrapped in a towel, inexplicably suffering from the worst case of sunburn ever. Well, the others had told him why that was. Wasp had gone for some Bactine they had in the mansion's infirmary, still sullen over not being able to kick super-villain butt, but acknowledging spreading your ashes over someone was not the best way to defeat them.

Ryouga suddenly realized something. "She didn't see me naked, did she?"

"She said you didn't have anything to be ashamed about and made some sexually suggestive statements about needing a lot of lube for later." Daredevil provided.

Ryouga mind unwillingly envisioned that. His nose bled quit profusely and his head hit the table, unconscious.

"And that's how you tell a joke," Daredevil smiled, then removed the grin before his teammate returned. He was supposed to be grim, after all, and it wouldn't do to let everyone know he had the best sense of humor of all.

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Epilogue

Sunset Bain, known to the world as a leading industrialist, also had a lesser known guise: that of the arms dealer known as Madame Menace. Anything for the right price was her motto, and it had served her well over the years, as well as fattened her coffers. In many ways she found that part of the business the enjoyable one, rather than her more numerous, legitimate enterprises. It was exciting. No, intoxicating. It was why she had taken a name like Madame Menace, after all

Even now she was seeing firsthand to the final details of a shipment of energy weapons bound for Hydra. Not that they couldn't make their own weapons, just that it was more economical to subcontract the work, and they paid fair market value for such things, cash up front. The same thing couldn't be said for the Maggia. The cheap bastards thought their 20th century tactics to 'pressure' her into lowering prices could carry any weight. No wonder they were considered such low end cheap thugs. And Master Vamp and his Allies of Evil seemed to think a credit card could cover things. So ridiculous. Hydra were professionals, she could appreciate that.

But recently Bain had become very excited. Some of her sources inside the Japanese government had hinted that Councilwoman Arjuna was pushing for some sort of robotics program to be initiated. Baintronics was a real force in that field, thanks to her securing the toy next to her, and would have an inside line on a contract like that.

Bain turned to the robot formerly known as X-51, and briefly as 'Machine Man', who she had renamed Aaron Stack He stood next to her as she admired his form. She had gotten lucky in obtaining him after he had been badly damaged in a confrontation with American troops. Of course it had taken going into his central processing unit and removing that nasty little AI that had gotten itself in here, but now he was an obedient tool, wonderful bodyguard, and fully functional in more carnal arts. It really was the perfect relationship. And it wasn't perverted. Look at how much surgery and augmentation people underwent to look attractive anymore. Plastic was already involved with the game, so why not take it to the next step? That made her a visionary, and honest instead of some kind of hypocrite.

Bain was thinking of just how perfect her life was when an object shot through the ceiling and to the floor below, shattering the concrete and kicking up enough dust to obscure its form. Aaron went into his defensive posture, weapons popping up from their hidden housings in his arms and fired into the cloud. Sunset made certain to remain hidden behind him. Aaron was as deadly as they came, a robot for the ages. He could defeat whoever had the audacity to attack her in her lair. Aaron would leave him dead before even being accurately seen.

However, Aaron kept up a rate of fire, not hesitating. Despite the offensive deluge, Sunset could make out the figure rising up, something tall. Inhumanly so.

And then Aaron spoke, "Dearest, my sensors indicate this being is far more powerful than myself."

And with that statement Bain finally knew real fear. Overpower Aaron? It was nearly inconceivable. Even half an armored division had been unable to do that. Whoever their foe was, he was beyond any normal power level. This was very, very bad.

Aaron continued. "This is at best a holding action. I fear you are about to become the next victim in the litany of deceased company owners unless you initiate Plan DD."

Once Bain had realized someone was almost certainly assassinating the heads of companies, and as a primary stockholder in her own company, she had taken to keeping Aaron around her at all times. She had also set up a backup plan: a body double always close at hand. Bain herself would go to an emergency escape pod (every base had at least two) and run for it, praying the assassin wouldn't be able to tell the difference when he came across the soon to be dead double. When the assassin came across the corpse who would appear to have been shot by her own cowardly guards, (who would kill their own non-bulletproof boss rather than face a bulletproof assassin) he wouldn't look further. At least Bain hoped that was what would happen. At this point it was her only chance.

Bain ran for it, shouting, "Good bye, my love." Curious. She hadn't planned on saying that. Aaron was just a machine, after all, and love was for the weak. She had many lovers, but never loved. So why in the hell when her life was literally on the line was she crying for someone else?

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Left to fend for himself in his impending destruction, Aaron Stack found himself in a quandary. The artificial facial muscles in his face had involuntarily lifted the edges of his mouth and there was something twitchy in his central processing unit that was making his thought processes inefficient. Yes, he was about to be destroyed, but for some reason he was having a feeling, one he had never experienced before. Then he made an intuitive leap in logic. It was happiness. But why would he feel it now of all times?

And then it came to him. The words Sunset had said. His existence had had meaning. His creation was not all for nothing after all.

Aaron's bullets finally ran out. It was just as well. According to his sensors, some sort of force field had deflected them anyway. So he opened up with a super hot form of napalm that could reach 2400 degrees. Aaron was delighted as the flames actually hit the figure rather than being deflected. Perhaps he stood a chance after all.

And then two rock covered arms stretched through the flames, grabbing Aaron's head and squashing it into scrap. Flames then shot forth from the hands, melting Aaron until only a molten puddle of slag was left.

The being stepped out of the fire, bathed in it, but unharmed. The Fantastic Four templates had been sufficient to remove the only true threat to his mission. A pity the enemy robot had an AI, otherwise Mr. Fantastic's ability to control mechanical devices would have been ideal. But destruction was more efficient than domination. He had only to eliminate Bain now, and his mistress would be ready to swoop in on yet another company. The timing was nigh perfect. An upgrade to the company's robotic division would be useful as it appeared there was a reasonable chance Councilwoman Arjuna's desire for Project Wideawake would see fruition. Once the mechanics were in play, all they would need was designers and techs to make the robots work.

Truly his mistress was a genius.

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End chapter. Well, finally felt like writing something. We'll see how long it keeps up.