Counter (Sequel to "Zemo")

DJ Dubois

May 2012

Notes: Captain America and his cohorts belong to Marvel Studios.

Chapter 1 [A Week Following Dr. Zola's Capture]

[Mountain Retreat—Sorvino, Italy]

The icy wind continued to stab through the Alpine passes and peaks on the range's southern edge. A few shaggy goats and birds braved the elements. Occasional pack mules braved wet dirt trails while trucks sputtered their way up steep asphalted inclines. Snow drifted deeply over the cold ground. Nary a track could be seen on its pristine surface.

Obscured by thick cloud cover, a stone structure sat atop one high peak. Its grey granite blended into the surroundings rendering it all but invisible to all but the most scrutinizing search. At its sides, two enormous generators hummed. Solar panels had stored power for the resident's designs. An electrified fence discouraged intruders.

Inside the structure, Baron Zemo tweaked his death ray. Since his defeat at the Howling Commandos' hands, he'd been on the run from the Nazis, Hydra and Allies. He'd barely escaped as three lairs were bombed out from under him. He fumed over the slights toward his stature.

The smoking ruin of his ancestral castle….

Hitler declaring him Public Enemy Number One.

The Red Skull personally taunting him openly.

He shouldered the metallic rifle and considered its weight in his hands. He'd regretted not using it in Le Bleu on the Americans. It had claimed several of the dark suited Hydra agents before they responded with their own cobalt energy weapons. "This time, I will not hold back!" He fired a burst at the concrete panel.

A smoking crater and some ash were all that was left.

The plum hooded villain nodded to himself. The adjustments were complete. On his next engagement, his enemies would see just how he could adjust the settings of his weapon.

A green light flashed on his console.

"All is in readiness!" His eyes narrowed with an insidious combination of glee and intensity as he pulled a lever and pushed two buttons.

A radio signal shot out from the structure toward a valley northeast of his position.

Zemo smiled underneath his hood. "Let those peasants deal with that!"

[Brumwald, Austria]

The popular Alpine ski village bustled with both tourists and Nazi soldiers during the peak winter months. People skied down the mountains, rode the lifts and stayed warm by the fire when finished. Soldiers drilled out of sight of the former but still maintained their presence.

As on most days, things seemed pristine…well until an enormous white tank rolled into town. The monstrosity's treads chewed up the asphalt and cobbles as it progressed. It flattened several medieval era homes and businesses. Its triple guns fired missiles from the left and right nozzles.

Almost on cue, the Nazi squadron rushed the invading machine. They attempted to shoot with a Gatling gun. A bazooka shell exploded against it without so much as a dent. They even brought out their own tank against it.

The white goliath opened a bottom panel. From nozzles therein, Adhesive X shot out onto the cobbles grabbing onto the soldiers' boots and, in some cases, their hands. Its gunk held the Nazis' vehicles in place.

Then the central turret glowed bright red. Its beam did a clean sweep of the square, cutting through metal and incinerating the imprisoned soldiers in its wake. Its pirouette left a circle of ash, blood and melted steel on top of the paste.

As if that wasn't enough, the offending tank exploded in a bright orange flash. A plume of smoke rose into the air marking the spot. The heat and force splintered every structure and shattered every window. A resulting avalanche steamrolled the lodge under a deluge of snow and rocks.

But Zemo wasn't done yet….

As the three dozen remaining denizens and surviving soldiers sought safe haven, a plum colored cloud wafted from the tank's remains. It spread throughout the area seeking out all who could breathe it in.

People gasped and choked on it. They spasmed and screamed. Their eyes bulged as they fell to the ground and writhed in pain.

[Alpine Lair]

Zemo toasted the view screen from where he could see the carnage. He poured himself a glass of his family's finest vintage and toasted his achievement. "Now the fools know what a butcher truly is! Let them find me if they can!"