So eventually the kiss had to end.
And when it did, Steve didn't miss a beat. He just looked back at the rest of the assembled heroes and said: "Forgive the interruption. Had some catching up to do."
Some of them laughed. The world was falling down around us and Captain America got them to laugh. Then he was right back to laying out the battle plan, talking to all of us like we actually had a chance. You know he's the best at that sort of thing. Strategy…tactics…there's nobody better.
But there are some enemies that are just too strong for even the best plans.
We plowed through the battle-drones escorting Thanos with no problem. We had him surrounded in short order.
He killed a dozen of us in the blink of an eye.
Somehow, I was still conscious when the flash from his energy burst had faded and I could see again. I was conscious but I was out of the fight, one leg wedged under a twisted piece of metal and one arm broken. I had to lay there and watch while Thanos started going hand to hand with the few heroes that could still fight.
Within moments, it was just Thanos and Steve.
I so wanted to close my eyes, but I couldn't. I had to watch every moment, even though I was sure how it would end. Captain America is the greatest hand to hand combatant who's ever lived. The ultimate human fighting machine they call him. But that impressive title still contains the word 'human' – and he was facing an alien titan who could stand toe to toe with the Hulk. Cap dodged and evaded with the kind of skill that Olympic gymnasts would sell their souls for…but that was all he could do. Eventually, Thanos cornered him.
Just before the killing blow would have struck, the sky darkened. A shadow fell over everywhere I could see. It distracted Thanos long enough for Cap to get out of harm's way. The titan didn't chase after him. Instead he looked up, just as I did, and saw that mammoth airship overhead. I'd never seen anything like it before…and I've seen a lot of strange things in my line of work.
For a second I wondered if it was more aliens…maybe some buddies of Thanos who wanted to hone in on his Earth-destroying fun. But this craft wasn't from space. It was from a tiny but famous country over in Europe. Latveria.
Doctor Doom had arrived…with thousands…THOUSANDS…of combat ready robots. Salvation came wearing an iron mask.
Everyone knows how it went from there. Around the world all of Thanos' battle-drone strongholds came under Latverian-led assaults. And it wasn't just Doom's robots. In California, the ground shook and great cracks appeared in the earth…out of which poured yellow-skinned humanoids and prehistoric beasts. Doom had coerced the Mole Man into sending his subterranean forces into the fray. At the same time, Atlantean shock-troops rose from the Potomac to liberate the nation's capital. Funny, when you think about it. Even after all the tensions that Atlantis has had with the U.S. government over the years, King Namor himself led his people to victory and smashed the last of the battle-drones there on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
Doom had coordinated it all. It made sense, really. The man wants to rule the world too badly to let anyone destroy it. So he'd taken everything he'd had…every weapon he'd stockpiled, every robot he'd ever built and hidden away for one of his complex contingency plans…and brought it all into play. That's how desperate things had gotten.
The Daily Bugle changed the headline for what they'd thought would be their final edition. They added an apostrophe and a space, changing "DOOMSDAY!" to DOOM'S DAY!" That wasn't much of an exaggeration. It took just less than thirty hours for all of the battle-drones to be defeated worldwide, though the victory cost Doom almost 99% of his robots.
But that still left Thanos. Nothing that was thrown at him could take him down. He rampaged through the city, destroying everything in his wake. There was nothing to do but retreat until Doom or one of our top science guys could figure out a way to stop the monster.
I bet none of those geniuses would ever have thought to send in a man with a bow and arrow.
I'm sure I'm going to be writing plenty more about Hawkeye as this diary goes on. He's become one of the closest friends I've ever had. No, that's not true. 'Friend' doesn't even begin to cover it. I don't think there's a word that really fits what he is to me. But that's Clint Barton...the man. And right now that's not the part of him I'm writing about. This is about Hawkeye the archer. The hero. The Avenger.
The lunatic who limped out of a hospital bed to hunt down a mad demigod.
Clint had been wounded badly in one of the first attacks by Thanos. He'd had to lay in bed as his friends and teammates were killed. He'd had to watch as their deaths were televised. And one of those deaths...a death that those damn cameras got particularly good footage of...was of the first woman he'd ever loved.
He vanished from the hospital the night that the Black Widow died. And none of us saw him again until he showed up on that deserted street, standing right in Thanos' path.
I know he expected to die there. He's told me as much. He didn't expect to stop Thanos. He'd just wanted a shot at him. A chance to hurt the bastard, even just a little. So he'd packed as much micro-explosives as he could into two hollow steel shafts and placed adamantium arrowheads on both of them.
Despite the fact that Hawkeye had joined the Avengers early in the team's history and has taken part in some of their most epic battles, people used to view him as second-rate. They'd joke about him. How did a guy with a bow and arrow get on a team of the Earth's mightiest heroes?
Nobody jokes about him anymore.
Because on that day, in the street, with an unstoppable monster bearing down on him, Hawkeye fired two arrows at once...and they struck exactly where he aimed them...one in each of Thanos' eyes.
The unbreakable arrowheads had enough force to get most of the way through the titan's brain...and then the shafts exploded.
It didn't kill Thanos. It destroyed his brain utterly, but he kept breathing. When Death rejected him, it rejected him completely.
Thanks to some cameramen with more guts than brains, the whole world saw Hawkeye take that shot...and what happened next. I still get chills when I think back to that moment. Nobody knew what was going on when Thanos dropped to his knees and became motionless. As Hawkeye limped toward the monster I expected it to lash out...but that didn't happen. Thanos was a vegetable...and that's how he'll stay, forever.
So when Hawkeye swung his bow and smashed it across Thanos' face, sending the titan's mindless body crashing backwards to the ground, I let out a cheer just like millions of others did the first time they saw the footage.
They also saw Hawkeye's lips moving, but there was no audio...and the shot was too far away for lip readers to make out what he'd said. Lots of people have speculated about those words. It's all become part of the archer's legend...but he doesn't answer questions about it. The press has learned that it does no good to ask.
That's why I'm honored that he's shared with me the truth of what he said.
"I got him, Tasha."
I don't know where the Black Widow's soul is resting...but I think she's resting easy.
To be continued...
author's notes: And so the world was saved from Thanos. Future diary entries may not be so much about specific battles and adventures as they are about Diamondback's thoughts and feelings on other characters and 'slice of life' accounts of what it's like for her to join the reorganized Avengers. But there will still be battles and adventures ahead. Please review.