congratulations, you have now read a circular story. i feel it loops pretty well, but still leaves room for side stories about Wade's adventures between the 21st and 29th centuries. to continue the loop, read Lost & Found and then Hypnic Twitches.
warnings: Earth-339. sci-fi. post-apocalyptic (not to be confused with post-Apocalypse, because he doesn't show up for another few hundred years). multiple character deaths. language: pg-13 (for f*** and s***).
timeline: 2065, shortly after (We're Gonna) Scream Until We're Satisfied.
disclaimer: i doesn't owns the movies, comics, or characters. or the assorted objects of pop culture reference.
notes: 1) the title is a reference to the Pat Benatar song "Invincible." 2) Lynchberg is on the far west end of Virginia. Interstate-95 is a highway that runs the entire length of the east coast of the US. 3) Double Stuf. a little call-back to Lost & Found. 4) a Segway is a ridiculous but awesome item of technology. if you don't know what i'm talking about, Stane was riding a Segway when he met Tony at the Arc Reactor building right after the press conference in Iron Man-it's this two-wheel upright motorized vehicle that looks stupid but is surprisingly intuitive to ride. 5) Wicked is great. Wade probably feels like Defying Gravity is his theme song.
Wade stands on the scorched earth and looks around. They were…somewhere around Lynchburg, last time he'd been able to check their nav maps.
Head east and follow the I-95. Easy.
He hesitates, peering up at the ash-clouded sky.
"East. That's, uh…"
He has no idea.
It's annoyingly difficult to navigate in a blasted nuclear desert where you can barely see the sun as a brighter orange blob above the ugly grey-orange clouds. The only landmarks in sight are various bits of wreckage. Four big ships in pitched battle make a lot of mess, especially when they crash. Especially when one of them is, quite literally, the size of frigging Kansas. The Excalibur is gonna be an amazing piece of brand new ecosystem for some enterprising decomposers.
He picks a direction and starts walking. Worst case, he'll hit the big-ass gorge where the Mississippi was and know to turn around.
Okay, no. Worst case, he'll hit the Canadian wastes and freeze his ass off.
"I feel like I'm forgettin' something."
Can't have left the stove on.
"Nah, we haven't used stoves in…in…" He pauses. "Thirty years, is that right?"
"God bless matter synths. Double Stuf Oreos nanometrically constructed from our nanometrically deconstructed poop. It's cool and gross at the same time."
Protons is protons, dude.
But Wade just can't shake that feeling he's forgotten something important.
After a while, he finds his multi-tool and flips out the screwdriver. Kneeling on the dusty ground, he starts to dig letters.
Laura Keller. Daken. Bullseye.
"There," he says, standing up. "That's better. Four thousand, eight hundred and sixty-six…seven…six. Shit. Can't remember. Good thing I didn't try to count civilians."
He just looks at the names for a while, decides he's been heading north-ish, and veers right.
Hey, Dani owes us a hundred bucks!
He stops to carve again.
Danielle Cage. Rachel Summers. Gabriel Frost.
"Why the hell can't I remember the names of Dani's gunners?" he groans, hanging his head.
Marisa…Schubert. Robert Young. R-something Marsh…Ralla, Razza, Ranna…Ranna! Calvin…starts with a B…
"Screw it!" he finally shouts, standing up. "Juliet's got a copy of the personnel database. Just make a list of all the people not on the lifeboat and start putting 'em on the wall."
He starts walking again.
"And what does it matter, anyway? Not like anybody's ever gonna remember who they were, so why even bother to sit down and…"
He stops again.
Feeling ashamed of himself, he shoves the screwdriver back into the dead ground and starts digging out the letter T, two feet tall and an inch deep.
"Stupid," he mutters as he starts on O. "They were counting on you. All of them. Nobody's gonna remember, so you have to. It always starts with one. One man saving one girl who grows up to save eighteen thousand-and-some civilians whose great-great-grandkids will overthrow Apocalypse."
He stays there, a few hundred yards from the husk of Providence, and carves until the name is done. It's getting dark by then, but he feels better.
It's chilly. He starts walking again.
"Destiny or whatever…it's gotta be you, stupid. What's left of the world is counting on you. So just don't fuck up, Wade."
Harder than it sounds.
"Yeah, tell me about it."
Night. In the middle of a desert. No wood for fire, no food to eat, no warm fur coat.
"Man. Saving the world sucks. Next time, I'll just start the self destruct, hop on the lifeboat, and hope for the best. At least if I'd done that, I'd be warm."
Might've missed Renquist.
"Woulda kicked his ass later."
Woulda lost civilians.
"Stop talking logic at me, yellow boxes. How far is it from the Virginia to New York?"
From where we think we maybe are? 'Bout three-sixty, as the merc flies. More like four hundred if this really is east and we take the I-95. Lot more if this isn't really east.
"Damn. That's a lotta walking with no cheesy puffs."
Wanna play 'I Spy'?
"No. You always win. I think you cheat."
Do not! It ain't my fault you think out loud!
Wade pauses, thinking. "Yes, it is," he concludes, and resumes his trek.
This is gonna take forever. Like…four days, unless you keep stopping.
"Thanks for stating the obvious. The math part of my brain already figured that out without my permission. I'm getting tired just thinking about it. My kingdom for a Segway!"
Sure you don't wanna play 'I Spy'?
"I'm incredibly sure. Like, as sure as I am that guns are awesome and swords are better."
…I spy with my little eye something that starts wiiiiith…R.
Dammit! And you accuse me of cheating!
"Cry me a narrative river."
…wanna sing some show-tunes?
"Depends. You know any of the songs from Wicked?"