Disclaimer: I dont own Marvel or Captain America

Hey guys, I'm back with the first chapter of a spinoff to my "The Hunt" story. As part of my Struggle of the Apprentice series the Marvel Universe has been changed. Avengers Initiative character Michael Van Patrick is Captain America, but with Steve Rogers lost in time, he and his allies race against the Red Skull and a ticking clock to bring the "reaL" Cap back.

But inbetween this is the chaos of Deathblade's hunt for criminals, using resurrected heroes as his allies, including old heroes and men that have tried to be Cap before. Featuring characters from the Forties era and other classic heroes, Cap relives parts of his life while his allies fight to bring him back so he can prove the value of Captain America again.

Italics are Steve's experience through time, enjoy!


Captain America: Rebirth of the Dream

Chapter 1: Two Eras

Nick Fury

There comes a time when some kids want to be super heroes. Even back in 1912 some kids would look at an old comic book and dream of being a hero. In my case it was a war hero, I'd look at the old recruitment posters and see an image of glorified war. But when I actually got to live that dream, it turned out to be a nightmare I can't escape from. World War Two was one of humanities worst moments and despite how films and comics portray it the experience was far from glamorous. We all developed a pretty dry humour, the amount of times Dugan would shake a stiff man's hand got old but we did laugh at first. A stiff hand is basically what can happen when a body is left in a particular shape. Right now I'm looking at a stiff hand, a body from the latest Hydra and AIM alliance raid. You've probably read that Hydra and Aim recently joined forces to take advantage of how messed up the world is right now. Well this is what brings me back to heroes. Some people dream of being Captain America, one kid got to live that dream.

"If you want to stay alive Van Patrick you listen to me," James "Bucky" Barnes said as he looked at the latest man to hold the shield.

Right now my Warriors and I are in an old S.H.I.E.L.D. safe house with Bucky. Barnes used to be Captain America, but during the invasion he did things that he felt the idea of the Captain shouldn't represent. So he gave the shield to a younger kid, his names Michael Van Patrick.

"Good, watch your surroundings but keep your shield high, don't just rely on your eyes," Bucky seemed to suit the mentor role, hell even if I still thought of him as a kid.

I watch this younger Captain America fight and it kind of reminds me of what Steve later became. Steve Rogers was the first Captain America, but he wasn't just a symbol, he was a soldier. As I watch Van Patrick smash aside Hydra agents with his shield I remember a different technique Steve used to do.

Shield, smashing through bones, blood staining my face. There are explosions all around me, where am I?

His moves are sluggish; he doesn't have as much training as Steve. But the kids got potential; potential that ain't being reached working on an organic food farm. He lived with his father before joining the Iniative. But during a training exercise he was killed. In a sense I could say he was resurrected when he was cloned but there are probably people who'd disagree with me. The point still stands, Michael Van Patrick is Captain America and right now he's kicking ass. He blocks a hail of bullets just like Steve would. But he does something different he doesn't throw the shield. Instead he runs and dives head first into the crowd of Aim and Hydra agents. He's not as strong as Steve but damn he's fast. With each swing of his arm he cracks a skull or shatters an Aim troopers helmet. Then he reaches into his utility belt and throws a series of smoke bombs. As I expect the Aim grunts fire mindlessly into the smoke. But Michael ran around the smoke and dived into the guards, knocking them down like dominoes. He doesn't weigh as much as Steve but the advantage of his speed is that he gains more momentum for his jumping strikes.

"Wow, I say we give him an offer before the Avengers do," I hear Daisy say behind me.

Quake's right, he's good enough to be an Avenger. But I know for a fact that he still needs more work. Plus with the latest bomb Agent Carter dropped I can tell that the kid's confidence has been affected. Alex gasps as agents pop up behind Michael. But he crouches, blocking the storm of bullets. He then rolls another grenade at the agents. The concussive explosions knocks them back and Michael turns his attention to the Supreme Hydra leading the operation.

"HAIL HYDRA! CUT OFF A LIMB ANOTHER TAKES ITS PLACE!" The Hydra dog yells like a man possessed.

That's one thing Mike's just starting to learn. Hydra agents are a mixture of religious fanatics, brainwashed grunts and down right insane. He's starting to learn that the Hydra agents would die for their organisation without a second's hesitation.

Bucky dives to the floor, gunning down several Hydra Agents. His gun clicks, out of ammo. Another Hydra agent runs towards us, he's got a grenade in his hand. A suicide attack, but wait, I remember this perfectly.

Michael throws another concussive grenade, knocking the Supreme Hydra before he could even put his thumb on the trigger. The kid doesn't even try to throw his shield; I suppose that's another difference between him and Cap.


Bucky

He's good, not great, not perfect but good. Michael Van Patrick has just enough fire to survive like I did. His technique seems flawless though; he doesn't leave him self too open, at least no opening an opponent could take advantage of. He swings the shield like Cap did, enough force to break someone's neck but he holds back. That's good; I gave Michael Van Patrick the mantle because the younger generation needed a symbol to believe in. But I've read the recent polls; even kids are starting to lose faith in their heroes. The people are starting to lose their connection with the symbol.

"All right Cap, return to the base now," I order the kid around like he's a soldier, and he's obedient enough.

The boy's smart enough to listen to me because I've got the experience. But he took certain risks that Steve never took. Steve wore a cowl with a built in helmet. Michael wears a cowl with slits to reveal his hair, which isn't regulation length. That and he relies on technology more, something Cap didn't often do. He's got skill, just not as much as Steve had…has. Michael opens the nearest door and reappears at the base. Its Hank Pym's invention, that Infinite Avengers mansion. He implanted a device in Michael's hand that would allow him to access the Infinite mansion and go through any door on the planet. It's a good method of travel but its available to only a few.

"Great job out there man."

"Yeah, couldn't have done it any better ourselves."

Fury's team, his "kids" all gather around Michael. I see the look in Fury's eye, its one I share. We're both reminded of a better day.

Bucky's smiling; we've grabbed victory out of certain defeat. Fury grins as he lights a cigar, Dugan and the other Howling Commandoes gather around me. My back actually starts aching from the amount of times they pat it.

"Great job Cap," Dugan says.

"Couldn't have done it better ourselves soldier," Fury salutes, offering me a cigar.

I didn't accept it then, and I don't accept it now.

Fury and his kids soon leave; they're getting ready to hit a Hydra base. Viper has apparently been found there, despite reports of her being killed during the invasion. I get a call from Hank Pym, but I ignore it and turn to Michael. He pulls off the cowl, placing his shield onto the table.

"There was one better way to end that fight, without wasting your grenade supply," I go into lecture mode, like any good drill sergeant.

"Yeah I know, listen Bucky I'm not in the mood for a lecture right now," He says dismissively.

He knows that this life isn't a game, despite the times we smile during a fight we know not to take risks. Michael walks over to the computer, picking up the phone to talk to Hank Pym. I already know what the calls about. Tony invited Michael up to the tower in order to talk about their latest plans. Siegfried Wallace, a hero a few years younger than Michael is getting a team of heroes together. Fury told me that they attacked a Hydra base before his warriors did. The old Colonel doesn't like getting his plans changed; he hates it when people get in his way. But I've seen the way Sieg fights in comparison to how he used to. Before he fought more like that Aeon guy, now he fights like an assassin.

"I'm going out Bucky, we can probably have this talk when we get back," Michael says as he puts on his cowl.

He leaves as quickly as he always does, delaying an inevitable conversation. Natasha is with Sharon, tying up loose ends while Sam's checking the prison. We can't leave anything to chance; otherwise we could lose him forever. My job is to prepare Michael; it's not an easy job really. Before he was a nameless former Initiative recruit. Giving him the shield gave him a shot at something. It may have been someone else's name, but it was a name he used well. But I'm always wondering, what does Captain America mean in this new world era? Is the symbol important any more? Alls I know is one thing, Steve Rogers is lost and we're going to find him. My attention turns to the TV and the image causes me to gasp. The President tried to lead a parade into New York City. He was trying to show the people that there was nothing to fear. But what the people find is something that causes me to shake. Norman Osborn was the most wanted man in America. Now he's a symbol of what's to come.

"Let the punishment fit the crime," I unwittingly whisper the words, because I know it applies to me too.

Norman Osborn was murdered and pinned against Times Square. He's just the beginning. Once a long time ago I went by the name Winter Soldier, and I still haven't been punished yet. Its quite funny actually cause I was planning to turn myself into the authorities once Steve got back.

I see the tears in his eyes. The moment I've prayed for looks nothing like how I dreamt it. His hands, even his cybernetic one shakes as he looks at me. I see the boy he once was, not the man the Soviet's had brainwashed.

"No…you should've just…" He trembles overcome by the pent up guilt.

He was turned into a cold weapon, but I used the cosmic cube to change him back. For a moment it's a decision I begin to regret. My hands are still on the cube, I could stop what's about to happen right?

"You should've killed me," Buck Barnes whispers before he lunges towards the cube.

It seems plans have changed. I hear the S.H.I.E.L.D. port activate Fury must be back. But wait…normally I'm hearing the youngsters talking about the mission. Fury's team is good, I know better than to dismiss it as the silence of a mission gone wrong. I immediately grab the pistol on the table. Swinging around I level the gun on the intruder. She's a red head, with freckles to match. Her red costumes practically hugging her chest. But I immediately know who she is from her sadistic smile. But she isn't alone.

"Surprise!" I hear her friends hissing behind me.

Swinging my arm, I crack one of the intruder's skulls. That'll slow them down, but the woman's already drawing her gun. I turn to fire mine, but a weight hits my back. Two men tackle me to the ground, knocking down chairs and display cases for costume. I elbow one of them with my cybernetic arm, feeling his teeth shatter. Flipping to my feet, I use the arm to block the taser wires she launches at me. My gun broke in the fall, but I can still choke this bitch to death. This is a woman even Steve wouldn't mind hitting. I pull my arm back, ready to strike. Suddenly I stumble, falling to the ground. I look at what tripped me and feel the constriction around my legs. A snake of some kind has wrapped itself firmly around my legs. There's not much time I need to act fast. Drawing my knife I throw the blade towards the intruder. She mumbles like a child in a tantrum, the blade cut her arm.

"Hold him up!"

I'm lifted off the floor by two familiar faces. Ones dressed in a costume consisting of different shades of purple. The other's stronger, wearing an orange vest and green mask. They're Eel and Viper, members of the Serpent Squad. The snake like man who snuck up on me must have been Cobra, and the snake must belong to Anaconda or Princess Python, whichever one's still alive.

"You cut me bastard, that means I get to have some fun with you before we leave," She still has that sadistic grin on her face, god I hate her.

Her name is Sin, the Red Skulls daughter. The Guys on Fury's team like Hellfire and Stonewall call her "Hot". They changed their tone when I told them about the hundreds of bodies she's piled up. She rips my shirt off and her hand begins to glow. The Skull or Zola must have empowered her with some serum. She takes pleasure in hurting me, but I don't give her the satisfaction of a scream. I'm not giving up and I know Steve wont either. I struggle against them and grit my teeth together. My efforts make the pain worse, but no matter what I don't scream.

They dunk my head under the water. My struggling makes it worse, but I'm not going to give up. When they pull me out of the water I finally get a good look at them. They call themselves the Dawn clan, a group of ninjas that utilise magic and technology to do business. They want S.H.I.E.L.D. access codes from me; codes that will access a database on under cover operatives. I see dead bodies on the floor; they're other agents that had been given the cold. One of the ninjas brings a tazer towards my wet face. I clench my teeth and take the pain, never give up, no matter what never give up. But I've taken this pain before and it gets easier every time.


Michael Van Patrick sat in Tony Stark's office, slightly nervous about this encounter. Before the Civil War Tony Stark had been one of Steve Rogers's closest friends. Now he had obviously called Michael here not for this meeting with Sieg, but to judge for himself whether he was a worthy successor to the shield.

"So Mike, I can call you Mike right? How's the shield?" Tony asked, swinging his feet onto his desk.

"Honestly sir, its heavy, but its worth carrying," Michael said.

"A lot of people would disagree with you, hell a large majority of America would say that the idea of Captain America isn't necessary anymore," Tony explained.

"What do you mean sir?" Michael asked.

"I thought you'd ask, you've been on so many missions lately you haven't seen the news…I recorded it for you," Tony lacked a grin as he turned on his DVD player.

Michael looked at the screen; CNN was running a special on "The relevance of the shield". He had heard that lately a lot of talk shows had been debating the need for super heroes. As part of the show, Henry Gyrich, Jonah Jameson and Miriam Sharpe, all three of them active speakers in the super human debate were bought in to speak their views.

"Mr Jameson, you have been a speaker on this issue before, but we seldom hear your view on Captain America, tell us Mr Jameson, what's your view on the new shield bearer?" The newscaster asked.

"Simply put Jim he's an unknown, I mean most of the people don't even know who this guy is, why has he started wielding the shield?" Jameson asked.

"It's a question everyone asks Jameson, but over to you Miss Sharpe, I understand your foundation Damien's Gift has been very active in the fight to keep the Super human registration act going. What's your view on this new Captain America as well as its relevance on American society today?"

"Captain America, or rather Steve Rogers claimed that he was a Patriot and yet he did exactly the opposite of a patriot, opposing our government, disobeying orders from elected officials or generals that had earned their command. I do feel that his loss was a tragic blow to American Morale, but what more did he really do for us? Did he support our troops in Iraq? Did he do anything when the New Warriors were running their TV show? I'm beginning to doubt whether we really need a Captain America or any kind of super hero. Our focus should be on senators and presidents that are willing to change this country for the better, not thugs who have only been good for hitting people or blowing up towns."

Sharpe's statement came as no surprise. She had been very active lately in condemning super heroes. When it came time for Gyrich to speak, the program was interrupted by the events that happened in Time square.

"This whole thing with Osborn is a big deal, but there's the matter of what Sharon Carter says, that she knows how to bring Steve back. Now I don't know what he'll think of all this, I don't know whether he'll have a plan for it, but what I do know is that when he comes back…"

"There's a good chance he'll ask for the shield back," Michael finished Tony's speech before he could.

"Would you give it back?" Tony asked.

"Like I said, its heavy," Michael sighed.

"Fun while it lasted right?"

Michael smiled as he got off the chair. His eyes suddenly widened, causing Tony to turn to the window. Floating in front of the window was one of Steve Rogers's old partners. Sam Wilson, AKA Falcon tapped his finger against the window and pointed to the roof. Before Tony could react, Michael ran straight out of his office. He stormed up the stairs towards the roof, astonishingly getting there before Falcon did.

"What happened?" Michael asked.

"Something bad, we need you at Bucky's safe house and quick," Falcon said.

He felt his heart pounding as Falcon flew him back towards the safe house. As soon as they landed, Michael rushed into the hairdressers, sat on the chair and took it down towards the basement level. Falcon flew inside after him, watching as the young man ran to the computer. He stopped, seeing Sharon Carter and the Black Widow already there. Natasha had a rare look of concern on her face, while Sharon held regret in her eyes.

"Where's Bucky?" Michael asked.

The women remained silent as Michael walked around the computer. He widened his eyes, seeing the blood stains across the floor. Placed in the middle of the circle of blood was Bucky's cybernetic arm, it was still twitching. Michael picked the arm up, looking at the tape and letter attached to it.

"Give us Sharon Carter or the sidekick dies again," Michael read.

He turned to Sharon, who looked away.

"What is this about Miss Carter, what do they need you for?" Michael asked.

Before she could answer his question, Michael felt his Avengers alarm go off. He reached into his utility belt, taking out the card he had been given. Gritting his teeth together, Michael put on his cowl and moved towards the exit.

"Fine if you don't feel like talking then I'll go, once I've helped the Avengers with this Osborn mess you guys are going to tell me exactly what's going on," Michael said before exiting the hideout.

Falcon walked to Sharon's side, putting a comforting hand on her shoulder.

"Sharon, you haven't told us much either, you say you can bring back Steve but how?" Sam asked.

"Steve never died," Sharon said.

Natasha and Sam both gasped as Sharon turned to them.

"Steve Rogers is lost in time, reliving every moment of his life. The Red Skull has a machine that can bring him back, but they need me, his tether to this world in order to do it!"

World War Two again, the beach is similar to Normandy but I had no involvement in that. We're carrying out a strike on a Nazi encampment, one of the Red Skull's labs. At the time we were completely unprepared for what we would find. I know what we'll find but the day still comes as a surprise. The haze of the sea waves, the smell of seaweed, they are the things I forgot. Even the feeling of my helmet, modified to resemble my cowl seems different, as if I'm wearing it for the first time. I turn as I did before, to the men and women I'll be leading to battle. They are my Invaders against the German's, people I respect and will never forget. Not just Invaders but a Squadron of Winners, all of them Winners.

"Ready to go Steve?" Bucky asks me.

"Come Captain, let us get this over with," Namor says.

I grin and nod, holding my shield out as I did before.

"All right people, lets go and win us a war!"

I ran forward, leading the first generation of costumed heroes. My name is Steve Rogers; this is a hidden chapter from my life.

Next Chapter 2: Needed


Hope everyone enjoyed the chapter. Next time we'll see action in both eras, leave us a review and tell me what you thought please