Issue #9 – Monsters & Masters – Part Two
United States - 1,000 Miles of the East Coast
"According to the scans the island is man made and constructed mainly of robotics and computer technology," Songbird said as she looked at the readings, hoping she didn't sound too dumb since she was totally excited to be on her first official mission as an Avenger and didn't want to blow it.
"I've tried making contact with any bird life on the island and no luck. From what I see, everything is mechanical, even the birds," Falcon said as he sat next to Songbird, co-piloting the Avenger's new A-Craft.
"You don't think this could be Ultron?" Spider-Man asked from her seat where she sat next to Novastar, Tigra, Goliath and Namora.
"No, he was permanently put out of commission after the final battle with the old Thunderbolts and Avengers teams," Iron-Man said as he glanced at Songbird who also knew the losses both teams suffered that fateful day.
"Then who put it there? Namora, anything?" Bucky "James" Barnes, former Winter Soldier and current Captain America asked the beautiful cousin of Namor.
"All sea life has fled the area around and below that strange land mass. From a faint few, I pick up fear," Namora said as she used her limited empathic abilities with sea life. She couldn't one hundred percent control or communicate with sea life, just pick up and give off emotions.
"Then let's just go down there and check it out," Goliath said, eager to show that should have always been an Avenger.
"It's shown no signs of a threat yet but I am not getting any responses to my hailing," Iron-Man said as he continued to broadcast in all forms of signals and languages to the land mass hoping for a response.
"Well, we can't just go in guns a blazing with the entire world watching," Captain America said.
"Then the Avengers leaf by Cap fly in on a mission of peace while Namora and Novastar slip in under cover form below while me and Spider-Man slip in from the air," Iron-Man said as he switched his armor to stealth mode as it he became blind to all forms of technology and he shimmered and vanished form site as his suit deflected light rendering him invisible to the naked eye.
"Rock!" Spider-Man said as he pressed a button on his belt causing his suit to shimmer and went into camouflage mode making him practically invisible as well.
Peter was excited about being a full time Avenger and a chance to prove to the world and J Jonah that he was a hero and not a menace, but was reluctant when Tony had offered to upgrade his suit. He had always done fine with what he had created but he also new he was in the big leagues now so he settled for a compromise. He had let Tony had a tech lining to his suit that made it more resistible to damage but allowed him to use a camouflage mode/change color of his suit as well as a few tricks, like and upgrade to his web slingers with Pym Particles so they stored more web fluid and reduced the chance of running out during battles. It was enough change to make Spider-Man a bit modern without losing who he was or becoming an Iron-Spider.
"I wish you would have let me added jets," Iron-Man said as he took flight out of the A-Craft and headed towards the other side of the island with Spider-Man in tow.
"Spiders don't fly," Spider-Man laughed as he held onto a strand of web attached to the back of Iron-Man and attached webbing to his feet so it looked as if he was surfing though the air.
"Ready?" Namora asked as she dove into the ocean below not waiting for an answer.
"Lovely," Novastar said as she willed her helmet to enclose and her suit and powers adjusted to allow her to breath and survive in the ocean depths as they did when she was in space before diving into the water after her Atlantian teammate.
Angelica had been devastated when she had lost her powers. **See New Warriors Backup Story in Power Pack #27** Not only had they been a great part of her but it took away one of the things she had in common with her husband and allowed her to fight by his side. Then during a battle in space, Nova had infused her with the Noveforce making her a Nova Corps in Training and then into a Nova Centurion the highest level in the Corps. **Started in Power Pack #32** As a Nova Centurion, she had the full power of the Novaforce merged with her own power with a fraction of the World Mind. Even though she thought her powers gone, there was enough of a spark left in her body that the Novaforce was able to latch on to it, regenerate it and combine it. Now she had powers again and was back to being a full fledge Avenger.
"How's it going?" Came a voice in her helmet as she easily kept up with Namora under the water.
"Vance, what a surprise," Angelica said with great joy as she heard her husbands voice.
"We have taken in a lot more kids and a few new teachers and getting ready for some training. Thought I would give you a quick call before I go down," Vance's voice said.
"I'm currently under water with Namora heading to investigate a large island that appeared off the East Coast," Angelica said as she glanced to the side to see the small image of her loving man.
"I saw that on the news and kind of jealous. Don't get me wrong, I love the opportunity to train the next generation, but I do miss the thrill of battle and of course, I miss you," Vance said with a smile.
"I miss you too. I better go, we're approaching the underneath. I love you," Angelica said with a smile.
"Miss and love you too. See you soon," Vance responded as his image vanished.
"Novastar!" Namora screamed bringing Angelica's attention back in time to see a large monstrous squid holding Namora while another once was coming right at her and taking out her vision with a burst of black ink.
On the Island
"So far so good," Captain America said as he and his team stepped out of the recently landed A-Craft.
Captain America, Falcon, Tigra, Goliath and Songbird were now standing on the island. It looked completely normal and quiet. They were on a sandy beach that slowly turned to grass and then folded into a large forest of trees. From flying in they knew that the center of the island consisted of large mountainous rocks. They picked up a strange heat reading but no indications that it was volcanoes. The only wild life so far were birds but they weren't normal since Falcon could not see through their eyes or influence them. Tigra could also feel other creatures out there but that was it as they weren't normal.
"Well, let me take a peak," Goliath said as he pushed his powers and grew to a very large size so he could see over the forest tree line.
"Anything?" Songbird asked.
"No, but I think there is something intertwined within the mountains but even with my enhanced lenses in my mask it's too far to make out," Goliath said as he shrunk back down.
"Let's proceed with caution," Captain America said as he led his team into the forest.
Inside The Mountains
"Look," Spider-Man said as they had entered a large room.
After the two Avengers had flown in they discovered a castle looking building built into the mountain. They soon found a way in through what looked like a small passage way that led to the room they were in now. It seemed the passageway they had used was actually a chute allowing things to go out of the base, like the rows of large missiles they now saw. They quickly saw that there were dozens of other passages leading out of this room with more missiles setup up near them. It was clear this was a large weapons or military base of some sort.
"This is not good. It seems this castle is one large manufacturing plant for weapons and monsters?" Tony asked suddenly as he had hacked into the computer and saw not only rooms full of strange creatures being manufactured but it seemed it seemed this whole island was not organic or real but technically built.
"I see you have made yourself at home," a voice said as a pulse went out causing Iron-Man and Spider-Man to become visible.
They turned to see a large man in a black suit with silver accents that matched his silver helmet that had a red "V" in the center that matched his red cape. The helmet covered his face except for his mouth where they saw a dark goatee. Standing on both sides of him were several strange looking creatures. They were tanned skin with long green hair growing on their arms and chins. They also appeared to have sharp teeth and claws. They looked like they could attack at any moment but were being held back by one person.
"Master of the World?" Iron-Man asked as he recognized the outfit of the Alpha villain he had thought dead.
"Oh, that was my father. You can simply call me Master," the man laughed.
"Whoever you are, the Avengers are here to shut you down," Spider-Man said as his spider sense began to tingle.
"Oh, you're too late," Master said as he pointed to the wall and an image came to life.
"As head of the United Nations, as we have done so in the past, are granting temporary sanctions to the Island Nation of Eshu. Until all paperwork and investigations are complete and we can render a final verdict, Eshu is protected and any country invading or showing signs of hostility will be considered a violation of international law. On behalf of the United Nations, we welcome you King Easton," the voice came from the news coverage.
"I can't believe this," Spider-Man mumbled.
"You see, my father tried to be master of the world the wrong way. I plan on becoming part of it and just when they think I am their best ally, I will start world war 3 and become master of what ever is left," Master laughed.
"Not if we stop you and expose your plans," Iron-Man said as his suit began to power up.
"Oh, don't you get it. I am protected right now and you are not permitted to be here," Master said.
"We are not bank rolled or controlled by the government. We can bring you down," Spider-Man said.
"No, but after I Bring you down, my edited footage will be presented to the world that you attacked me with no just cause and you will be branded International Terrorists. Even if some of you escape, you will be wanted and hunted by the United Nations," Master laughed sending a chill down the Avenger's spines.
"We will stop you," Iron-Man said and then paused as he looked up at a screen and saw the rest of the Avengers being attacked by dozens of monster.
"You wish," Master said as he signaled and dozens upon dozens of his tanned skin creatures leapt from his side and attacked Iron-Man and Spider-Man.
Exiled – Part Two
Moon Knight recovered from the blast and got to his feet to see the hooded woman who had attacked them leap into the air. He prepared to engage her when she landed over Quake and in front of the attacking aliens. She swung her staff and hit the creature dead in the chest causing a white lighted explosion that made the alien creature burst into red dust and disperse amongst the blowing sand storm. She took out one more alien creature when she got near him and pulled back her hood to reveal a similar mask as his but made of some kind of armor.
"Sorry, I didn't recognize you at first," the woman in the female armored version of his Moon Knight outfit.
"Who are you?" Moon Knight asked.
"Not important. We need to take out these things and get my friend and into cover before the main sandstorm hits us," the woman said as she suddenly had two crescent moon shaped boomerangs in her hands and she threw them turning two more alien creatures to red dust before spinning around and catching them on their return and then quickly had her staff in her hand again.
Moon Knight quickly communicated to his team and they all went to work on the alien creatures. Thanks to the armored A-Suits boost in strength it was a little easier to punch the creatures to red dust. The female had reached Sunfire and picked her up and motioned in a direction of where they need to go but hundred more alien creatures had formed to block their path.
"We need to get past them and into shelter fast for if they don't kill us the sandstorm will," the woman holding Sunfire said.
"Allow me," Quake said as she took point and faced the oncoming alien creatures.
Quake faced the enemy as she call on her powers. The planet shook as a large shock wave went out causing the ground to split and crack as every alien creature in front of her instantly exploded into red dust. Once the path was clear, the woman carrying Sunfire ran forward and motioned for them all to follow. They made it to the side of a large looking sand dune. The woman said something under hear breath and then turned to back to them.
"Gather real close," she said as a figure in a black hooded cloak appeared out of nowhere and the Avengers became defensive.
The Avengers got real close after the woman commanded them near her once last time and then hit something on her belt and suddenly her white costume lit up in a blinding white light that engulfed them all. The dark hooded figure moved forward as his cloak opened up and instantly surrounded and swallowed them all whole. The woman holding Sunfire screamed as she seemed to be pushing her armor's light hard as if she was trying to desperately keep back the darkness. Then a few seconds later they were all standing in a large, dimly lighted room and the dark hooded figure walking away from them heading down the passageway after taking a quick glance at Sunfire.
"Next time, warn us," Super Soldier began to say when the woman turned on him and thrusted Sunfire in his arms.
"Be thankful I saved your lives. Not only do I hate teleporting like that, but I've spent the last of my moon energy protecting you all and making you safe from him while teleporting. Now bring her," the woman said as she quickly, but obviously weakened, walked after her dark hooded friend.
"The sandstorm, what about Crow, Hellcat and Ant-Man?" Silhouette suddenly asked with panic.
"Don't worry, the platform they are waiting on is designed to survive all the elements of the planet it is on. Once the dust storm starts they will be perfectly safe inside the A-Tube's shuttlecraft," Super Solder answered.
"Where are you taking us?" Arachne asked as it seemed they were going in deep as well as elevating downwards.
"We are here," the woman said as they finally left the passageway and entered a very large cavern.
The Secret Avengers looked as they saw that the room they entered was very large and the walls were made of solid red rock. Besides their host and the man in the dark hooded cape, there were four others in the room. There was a woman with pointed ears and long braided hair who seemed to be a living solid shadow who's completely black body had very small flecks of white light shimmering all over it and a strange silver looking wrist band on her white arm. There was what appeared to be a female looking version of Iron-Man standing over two figures, one sitting up and one lying down, on manmade beds. The female version of Iron-Man waved at their host and she turned and motioned for them to place Sunfire on a third empty bed.
As Super Soldier placed the woman in his arms down he glanced at the other two beds. One was what appeared to be a young girl, either late teens or early twenties, wearing a red with black outfit and a face mask that covered everything but the front of her face from the nose down to her chin and had what appeared to be insect-like antennas coming out of the top of it. One arm was in a sling while the other had a similar silver wrist band on it. The second figure was that of a woman with long white hair wearing an all purple suit that covered every inch of her body, including her hands and a white face mask that covered her entire face as well as a matching wrist band on her right arm. Steve would have guessed she was dead they way she was laying so still if he didn't see her chest move every so often when she took a breath.
"How are you all surviving down here with no oxygen?" Quake asked.
"The Tallut we all wear generates a field around us to allow us to breath in any environment. Unfortunately that's about all it does for at the moment," the insect looking girl said as she looked over each of the Secret Avengers.
"What is she staring us like that?" Arachne whispered to Silhouette.
"Unlike most of us, she hasn't gotten used to seeing other reality versions of people she knew or heard of back on her world. Hi, I'm Nocturne," the shadow looking woman said coming up behind the two women and extended her hand.
"Nocturne, you look different than I remember," Super Soldier said as he realized despite looking like a shadow, she still had all the features and outlines of Nocturne.
"I am cursed to only survive when I possess and take over a recently dead person's body. I don't recognize the suit but your voice is familiar," Nocturne said with a shrug as most of the Secret Avengers stared at her with mortified looks hidden by their masks.
"I'm Captain America, but I go by Super Solider now and this is my team of Secret Avengers. We got a distress call and a strange cosmic reading from this planet and came to investigate," Super Soldier said as he introduced his team by code names only.
"That would have been the distress signal I sent out, but I didn't think anyone would receiver it," the woman in white armor who led them here said as she stared at Switchblade who just stood off to the side, never saying a word and just watching, giving her the chills.
"What happened? Last I knew the Exiles were supposed to be on their way home, at least the group I meet," Super Soldier said as he realized he only knew of two of the seven before him, and feared what it meant for the others since he recalled about the seven member team and how one gets replaced.
"First, let me introduce everyone else. I'm Nocturne, leader at the moment, and the one you carried in for us is Sunfire. The one who brought you here is Moon Knight of 2099, the one in the dark cloak is Gambit of Earth-295," Nocturne said as they stared at the female version of their Moon Knight and the one called Gambit who pulled back his hood to reveal is face, skin the color of darkness and long wavy white hair.
"Greetings," Gambit said as his white eyes glowed with a strange reddish black hue to them.
"This is Iron-Girl and the one with the broken arm is Red Queen, both are from what we refer to as the Time Quake Universe. The one lying on the bed is Twilight," Nocturne said finishing her introductions.
"What's wrong with her?" Arachne asked.
"She was injured very severely when we arrived here. Her powers are all that's keeping her alive as she resides in some kind of coma," Iron-Girl said as they all looked at her with confusion.
"Her powers, when her skin is exposed it gives off a white light that drains energy from her victims causing them to pass out while rejuvenating her. Every half hour, Iron-Girl links her Tallut with hers and tells her face plate to peel back and we take turns feeding her power which seems to be keeping her alive and hopefully healing her," Nocturne answered.
"What happened?" Super Soldier asked.
"All of us Exiles plus many others from different realities had arrived at the Crystal Palace for a huge battle. **See final issues of the Exiles Series** We won with a cost. The Palace is down and there is a team working on fixing it and until it does, any agents or teams out there are trapped. We knew Blink and a few others were trapped here on your Earth, so with enough power left for one one-way jump we all volunteered to come here to find them and hopefully bring them home.
"These Talluts, until the Palace is up and fixed can only allows us to breath in any environment, communicate with each other over a specific distance and gives life sign readings of each member so we know if we are alive or not and allows for limited tracking. So when we got ported through, landing on this planet we had no worries of needing oxygen as the Tallut kicked in automatically and that cosmic reading you picked up was probably our arrival into your reality.
"We expected to arrive on Earth but were disappointed when we realized we missed the mark and wondered how we would get off this planet. So as we pulled out resources we tried sending off a distress signal but were then immediately attacked up alien creatures. It was so fast we were unable to see what they looked like. Red Queen and Twilight were quickly injured but we managed to grab them and fight back but our attackers had vanished as quickly as they had arrived.
"We noticed that they had taken five of us. Mimic, Dazzleshot, Blaze, Blade and Sunfire. We tried searching for them but had no luck and between the sandstorms and the sand creatures you meet earlier we knew we had to find shelter and hidden protection. We found this place here and spent the last few days going out looking but never picking up any signals of our teammates or any signs of the aliens that took them. It wasn't till a few moments ago we picked up Sunfire's signal on the Tallut and I sent Moon Knight to go check and bring her back," Nocturne said as she finished their tale.
"She must have escaped then," Silhouette spoke the obvious.
"And until she wakes, we wont know where the others are," Gambit grumbled as he thought of his one and only light, Dazzleshot.
"Not only will we help find the rest of your team we can also take you to Earth," Super Soldier said as they all sat and waited for the dust storm to stop and Sunfire to wake
"Man I wish this would stop already," Ant-Man said as he, Black Crow and Hellcat sat in the shuttlecraft.
"They've been gone a long time," Hellcat said getting worried.
"They are safe," Black Crow said with confidence.
"Can't you do something about this storm with your voodoo?" Ant-Man asked.
"What I do is not Voodoo and my gifts don't work the same here on this alien planet," Black Crow said as he did pick up some very strange vibes from this planet.
"Something's out there," Hellcat said suddenly sitting up as Black Crow felt the same thing.
"What is," Ant-Man began to say when suddenly with a loud roaring howl the top of the shuttlecraft tore off and something reached in as they were each suddenly yanked from their seats and pulled into the heart of the storm.
Next: Issue #10 – Monsters & Masters – Part Three & Secret Avengers: Exiled – Part Three