Heroes: The Fall
It's been nearly sixty years since the majority of the Heroes of the world were wiped out by a vast alliance of Villains who stood united in their hatred of the superheroes who had stopped them time and time again. The few who weren't killed have long ago given up on their beliefs and have gone into hiding among the non-superhero population. Others took their own lives after seeing the horror that their inability to stop brought upon the world. A few who have now been branded as traitors switched sides and became Villains and Warlords fighting over what little land the true villains have left untouched as they struggle to gain power amongst themselves. The villains for all intents and purpose have finally won..
But wherever there are villains, there will always be those willing to rise against them. Among evil and corruption there will always be those who feel the urge to do what's right. There will always be those who have special gifts who feel the need to use them for the greater good.
There will always be heroes
Outskirts of Las Vegas
Amy Zander watched the twinkling lights of Las Vegas fill up the night sky from her small but but functional house. It had taken her nearly two months to build the small but efficient little house. It protected her from the elements and from the occasional storm.
She looked up at the wall that held the most important thing in her life. The hammer that went by the name Mjolnir. As far as she knew, it was one of the last remaining items from the Age of the Heroes.
It's a shame that the hammer can't give me advice. She thought. I don't know where to start. I've trained with Mjolnir and learned how to use it's power. But I don't know what to do first. The villains have had years to grow stronger and stronger and I've only used Mjolnir for two months. I wish I had a teacher. Someone to guide me...she thought. She knew that the Hero known as Thor had once wielded the hammer in defense of the world before the Fall of the Heroes but he had had years to master it. What could she do after only two months?
Too bad there isn't anyone left to teach me. She thought as she continued to look at Mjolnir
On the outer reaches of the Sol system, a lone ship sat motionless and inert, it's pilot and captain fixated on the image of Earth projected from a screen.
"'Skuttlebutt', what readings can you detect?" The lone figure asked into the vast darkness of the ship.
A voice chirped in response, "There are no signs of cosmic energy, I cannot detect the Silver Surfer - Asgardian energy readings are unclear."
"Hmmm," Beta Ray Bill mused to himself for a moment, lifting his mighty golden hammer to his face and staring at the reflection he saw upon it's surface. His ship might not have a clear reading of Asgardian energy signatures, but 'Stormbreaker' could clearly feel out the distant and feint aura of Mjolnir, Thor's mighty hammer.
"I go 'Skuttlebutt', keep heading towards Earth at a slow pace, and hold on the far side of it's moon once you arrive, we do not wish to attract any unwanted attention," And at that the Korbinite Champion left, not only the room, but the ship as a whole, spinning 'Stormbreaker' and hurling it forward, casting himself into the empty void towards Earth at impressive speed.
Outskirts of Las Vegas
A house.....No, more of a hovel, put together piecemeal as a shelter from the elements and perhaps prying eyes. Or at least as Beta Ray Bill perceived it; as he looked at the small dwelling no more than a few yards away, his gaze shifting to the stars above before fixing on his hammer, his grip tightening.
He proceeded forward, opening the small dwelling's door without even a knock - not that the Korbinite even realized the concept.
"'Oath Bro'..." His words were cut short as he saw before him a tiny figure, a woman, human, with no aura of Asgardian energy about her at all, and on her wall like a trophy hung Mjolnir, though it seemed far more battered than it had been the last time he saw it.
"You!" The Korbinite Champion bellowed, his grip on 'Strombreaker' tightening. "Where is my 'Oath Brother'? What have you done to him!?"
Outskirts of Las Vegas
"You!" The Korbinite Champion bellowed, his grip on 'Strombreaker' tightening. "Where is my 'Oath Brother'? What have you done to him!?"
Amy quickly turned around and saw some sort of...well, she didn't know what it was. But whoever this was was wearing armor that was strikingly similar to what Thor had worn before his death nearly fifty years ago.
And whoever this was had recognized Mjolnir!
Is it possible that this is someone from Thor's world? Maybe they want Mjolnir back! I can't let them take it!
"Uh..." Amy stammered at the sight of the imposing figure. She wasn't scared, more like intimidated. "I'm...I'm sorry but I don't know who your speaking of." She said carefully as she edged towards Mjolnir and was preparing to grab it in case she needed to defend herself. Not that she could do much with it. She barely knew the extent of it's powers and she was far from mastering it.
Outskirts of Las Vegas
"Uh...I'm...I'm sorry but I don't know who you're speaking of," The woman stammered out, inching closer to Mjolnir. Beta Ray Bill saw what she was doing, his eyes narrowing, he could not fathom how this woman could hope to lift Mjolnir, but with Thor obviously not here with it in his possession Beta Ray Bill had to assume that some trickery was at play here; he could not let her get the hammer!
"Mjolnir, old friend, to me!" Beta Ray shouted extending his hand outward towards the hammer. Only, there was nothing....Until, the hammer shivered somewhat...Then more, and yet more! Until the whole house shook and rattled violently; the hammer flying from the wall, soaring into Beta Ray Bill's free hand!
All this only took a moment of time, though it seemed much longer. Bill closed his eyes as the feint words of Odin echoed in his mind, 'Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.'
Opening his eyes, he set his gaze on the woman, advancing towards her slowly, he menaced, "I ask for my 'Oath Brother', Thor. THAT is whom I speak of, tell me, where is he? And why or even how have you Mjolnir!?"
((Hope I'm not overstepping my bounds here, just wanted to show with irrefutable proof to Amy that he's pretty much legit as he's not only able to lift Mjolnir, but can wield it and utilize it's powers, you know: teacher, *ding ding*))
Outskirts of Las Vegas
"I ask for my 'Oath Brother', Thor. THAT is whom I speak of, tell me, where is he? And why or even how have you Mjolnir!?"
Thor? But Thor's been dead for nearly fifty years! She cautiously backed away from him and looked at Mjolnir as it was summoned to his hand. "You...You've either been gone for a very long time or your new here." She said quietly.
"I'm sorry to tell you this...but Thor died nearly sixty years ago." She said quietly. "Nearly all of the heroes died the same night he did. It was the night the heroes fell. The Fantastic Four, The X-Men, The Avengers, they all died that night."
"And I found found Mjolnir when I was being chased by thugs a few months ago. I...was scared. More scared than I ever was before in my life. I was running and I came across the site of Thor's last battle, His hammer hadn't been lifted since the night he died no one could lift it."
She took a deep breath. "I expected to die that night, thousands of people had come to the hammer to pray to it that the heroes would come back but they never did. And I grabbed it and I heard this voice in my head. It told me that, 'Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.'
She thought back to that night and shook her head. "There was this light...and the hammer was in my hands and they ran away. I swear on my life that's the truth. If you doubt me then let me hold the hammer so I can prove it."
A sudden thought came to mind. "Wait...you said that Thor was your Oath Brother. You knew Thor?" She asked excitedly. Her fear was momentarily forgotten.
New Babylon was eerily quiet this day.
For a city that had managed to maintain a population of multiple millions throughout the last 50 years of nearly constant upheaval and warfare, one would think that its condition would reflect that of an aged man, skin spotted and pocked with his years, than that of a vibrant mega-city.
Yet for all its might, between all the towering structures of titanium, each of them bearing the red and black banner of the skull, there was no activity. Silence filled the void, followed sometimes by the dancing crackle of an abandoned newspaper pushed alongside the road, forced, as it were, like the march of political prisoners that had marked the earlier week's festivities: purge.
And to think that at one point New Babylon could have ever been the hub of opportunity the world had believed its name to be New York or that Kampfgruppe District 19 was once called Long Island.
Or that at one time, children spoke openly of heroes.
Curtiss "Teddy" Bentley could recall no such memories, however.
"Herr Lynch, your surveillance report explained that the exchange would've taken place by now. You know how the Oberstandartenfuhrer feels about such delays..."
The black clad 'stormtrooper' tried Bentley's patience every moment they were in business together...but at least Bohrmann's presence was more preferable in comparison to the stiff and uncompromising group of men who called New Babylon District 19 their home.
Lynch, thought Bentley, You find one man, one man who happens to have the ability to jump more than 30 meters or can run faster than any vehicle...and can see farther than his own needs....and they never let you forget...
Pulling the smoking cigarette from his mouth, Bentley batted away another brief memory of a neighborhood hero strung up on a thin wire by the very communities he had tried to save. That memory was quickly covered by nearly 250,000 Reichsmarck placed in 4 rucksacks with a personal commendation from his boss, the Bureau Direktor.
"Bohrmann, trust me. He'll be here."
Bohrmann's tensity didn't relent and Bentley did what he did best. He fully understood the man standing beside him. They had maintained 5 minutes of conversation, more than enough for him to analyze this man. Already, images of goals, ambitions, fears, swastikas, rationed tater tots, and an odd BBQ from 20 years ago, flooded Curtiss' mind. Bohrmann was an easy man to read. He stomped his cigarette with his dress shoe a little too vigorously.
"Bohrmann, don't ever think of selling my information to the Black Market in case my leads end up getting you a reprimand from the StandartenFuhrer. I'm always right. Also, you left your refrigerator running. You already know that the electric bill from the Commissary will be arriving today. The note you read, on the nightstand."
Before the disheveled Nazi could react, Bentley pointed out the mark, a gray-coated man of around 45 walking around with an old Fedex package. Bentley turned on his heel as Bohrmann stumbled for words, quickly regaining some sort of composure and shouting for his men to arrest the mark. The money for this little bit of information was already in his account and now, it was time to wash his hands clean of this matter...and purse trying to manage nearly 25 world districts of information that the Bureau had tasked him with maintaining. It was ironic to Bentley that a lifelong skill of total empathy could be used to effectively decipher any situation was now being used to police and manage superhumans and other dissenters...ironic because the skill's very existence marked him as a superhuman.
His cellular phone beeped with a 12 digit number. A location of interest marked by the Bureau. A quick look told him all he needed to know regarding his next objective.
North Eastern Amerika
Exact Coordinates Unknown
They'd dragged his family and himself out of their beds in the middle of the night.
Giles Hendrick's could no more explain why than he could provide himself enough warmth. A dark green forest surrounded him and 300 other displaced persons, all of them rounded up in a pile of debris in a clearing. He could see his wife, Ema, not too far away, perhaps 10-20 meters. He'd run to her if it hadn't been for the fact that the black clad officers had separated the men and women from each other, threatening deadly force if they didn't comply. He could Ema clutching their daughter, Sarah, with a tightness that only a mother could truly muster under such freezing conditions.
The atmosphere was poor in the middle of this forest north of New Babylon...everywhere there was weeping, coughing, muddled words here and there, all of which contributed to the utter sense of confusion as to why any of them had been selected and stolen away by the authorities of Amerika.
Did it have to do with the death of the Red Skull?
Word had traveled fast in the classes of New Babylon. Try as the Reichsministry could to hide the fact that the Eastern seaboard of the 'Eternal Reich' was now 'headless,' hope permeated the concrete walls that choked the ports and harbors from escapees. Talk of 'heroes' had sprung up...Giles was among them. Perhaps this was a ploy to scare them?
Giles hoped so. He had gazed upon the banners of the Red Skull too long. The indoctrination, the speeches, the long lines of black clad men and women marching along Times Square to the Koniggratzer March, he'd had enough of the 'neue walt.' He could do with change.
He gazed out at the tall, menacing, and faceless soldiers surrounding them. They were motionless, silent, without sympathy for those they guarded.
"Please! Please! Just let us leave! We've done nothing!" Shouted a middle aged woman with red hair, likely dyed, as her age betrayed her appearance. She begged and begged, somehow managing a strong grip on a guard's black glove.
Suddenly, the black guards moved aside, leaving the woman in the fallow Earth in the open ground. A figure approached and the woman became silent.
The figure wore a black dress uniform. He was tall, muscular, and had the visage of a man all feared.
The Red Skull.
The protesting woman fell into line quickly. Giles wondered if it was because she was afraid...or that she knew that with men like the Red Skull...there is no compromise, no sense of empathy...no sense of Humanity. The group of captive civilians visibly shivered and moved away from the Skull.
A pair of almost reptilian eyes surveyed the group. He waved a gloved hand.
The guards parted from the middle of the group, allowing for the families to be joined back together. Instantly, Giles felt hope and he ran for Ema and Sarah,holding them tight and planting kisses on both of them, rejoicing in the security that family brought. But no way opened for them to leave this place. Instead, the stormtroopers encroached in their space even more so and man carrying pumps and gas canisters strapped to their backs began to make their way to the front of the line of stormtroopers.
The Red Skull turned and look at the crowd again, approaching it.
His cold gaze evaporated the temporary hope of reuniting with family. Giles felt his core begin to twist beneath the man's gaze.
The Skull seemed to smell it and it spoke.
"You are afraid...you are right to be."
The voice was deeply accented but no less resonant.
"All things which know that they are at a possible end feel fear. Animal instinct, if you will. But realize that fear is more than this. It is an indicator of your worth, of your importance...and the fact that I see it now...is proof, that you are truly, sheep."
The words were cryptic to say the least. The half smile of the Red Skull did little to help.
"I am your shepherd, your guide, to the better realm. A realm where you realize your place in the great wheel of the Gods, of society. And that is below me, beneath the boot of visionaries and activists...individuals who know the truth that they are true sons of the Masters....that they Masters. Quite honestly, you have forgotten such truths. You have spoken of pretenders, of creatures who pride themselves on weakness and refuse to truly save the societies they once served. But realize this..."
"...they are not the Superior Men."
"Because I am the Superior Man....and in your demise, I will find strength to help save you from your simplicity...and will forge the frontier to create the true Reich Eternal....one which will see perfection culminated in every man, woman, and child. The true Overman. The inevitable next step in evolution."
Giles couldn't comprehend fully what this thing intended, but he knew it could only put his family in danger.
"But remember...species move forward only when those who are weak have been weeded out. Only then can it progress. So...."
He raised a gloved hand, "Realize that this cause is greater than all you have surveyed, all you have comprehended....and as such, you are heroes."
Giles held his daughter closer.
The Skull lilted his head to the side.
"I will waste no more time."
He waved his hand and the men with the gas canisters stepped forward and sprayed liquid flame into the group. Instantly, the air was filled with the screams of the crowd. Giles shielded his wife and daughter with his body, but there was no protecting them from the scalding heat surrounding them. It was only a matter of time before he would watch their skin peel from their flesh as the flame stole them from his arms a final time.
Darkness panged with red flashes plagued Giles' vision as he fell away from his family...and watched a Red Skull walk amongst the flailing and flaming corpses, hands folded in a leather jacket.
Giles could only scream and writhe as he watched all that he loved do the same. The only mercy from this fate was death. And the Red Skull, clad in black, amongst them walked confidently.
Sinister Empire, the region formerly known as Pyeongchang
Woljeongsa Temple complex, on the eastern slopes of the mountain Odaesan
The snow crunched beneath Mia’s boot as she stepped into the temple courtyard. The heavy snow gear impeded movement, but the cold weather demanded it. The energy cell strapped to her right thigh hummed softly with energy, but didn’t provide enough raw warmth to survive the ice and snow. Besides that, there was the issue of the large backpack she carried on her back. She had scraped together enough supplies to survive the winter, and they weighed her down. Sinisters had little patience for snowy mountains outside of landscape paintings, and so she thought she could hide from him in Pyeongchang, at least until the snow melted.
The nine-tier stone pagoda that stood in the center of the courtyard was covered with snow. Mia walked past it and to the door of the main temple, inwardly amazed that the complex was still so well preserved. It had been ten years since she was last here, but little seemed different, though it was hard for her to tell through the snow and ice. She slid the wooden door to the side and quickly entered, closing the entrance behind her. It was still cold inside, but the wind was blocked at least, and night was falling. She lowered the heavy hood of the jacket and removed the snow goggles from her head, stowing them in a pocket.
Mia approached the temple’s special statue, the Medicine Buddha. She remembered the last time she had seen it. They say that this statue was found in a nearby pond, her mother had said. Mia had scoffed at the idea - You don’t just find statues in ponds, she had said. Her mother had just sighed, shook her head, and moved on. Mia smiled at the memory, one of the few times she and her mother had not been stressed about evading Sinister’s Marauder Battalions.
She set down her pack, and laid out a sleeping bag. Mia dared not unpack entirely, in case she was forced to move at a moment’s notice. The Sinisters did not extend much courtesy to their enemies, and more than once she had made the mistake of making camp only to be forced to abandon equipment due to an unexpected guest dropping by. Mia got out her dinner, an old can of soup, and cautiously warmed it by taking energy from her energy cell. She ate slowly, savoring each spoonful. After that, she dressed down and climbed into her sleeping bag, her handgun at her side.
Mia woke to the sound of footsteps outside, early in the morning. She immediately grabbed her gun and left her sleeping bag. Silently, she crept along the walls, weapon at the ready. She listened to the footsteps, trying to ascertain what was making them and how many there were. Her questions were answered when a man spoke outside.
“I can’t tell if somebody was here, Woojin,” the voice announced. “At least, not last night. The snowfall would have covered up any tracks.”
“I’ll take a look inside then, Kurtis.” came the reply.
“Be careful about that.” A third voice, this one a woman’s.
“Relax, ChoA. It’ll be fine.” The door to the temple slid open, and Mia pointed her gun straight at the man’s face.
“Who are you?” Mia asked, her voice firm, not afraid.
“Okay, calm down.” He said, backing away and raising his arms into the air. Mia could only see the two others besides him. They reached for their own weapons, cautiously.
“Answer.” She demanded.
“My name is Woojin.” The man said, speaking in a low tone. He gestured to each person as he spoke. “That’s Choa, and that’s Kurtis.”
“What are you doing here? Are you bandits?”
“We’re Resistance, actually.” Woojin said. Mia’s posture relaxed a bit at the answer. “We heard that somebody was hiking about up here and came to investigate. Who are you?”
“Call me Conduit.” Mia answered. “My real name is for me to know.”
“Well, I prefer real names, but if we’re doing codenames then you can call me Sky-Lord.” Woojin said.
“I’m Perception.” Choa said, an angry tone to her voice.
“I’m still Kurtis.”
Mia considered things, for a moment. She wasn’t part of the Resistance, but she was a fan. On the other hand, she had no way of known these three weren’t actually bandits, or worse, Sinisters in disguise. She gestured back, and Woojin backed up to join his companions. Mia kept the gun trained on them. Her powers were likely more than enough to deal with them, but they were unwieldy and she was loath to risk the temple’s safety.
“I’m going to have to ask you to leave.” Mia said, at last.
“We’re not your enemies.” Woojin responded.
“You’re going to need to prove you’re Resistance if you want me to trust you.” Mia insisted.
“How exactly are we supposed to do that?” Choa snapped.
“That’s for you to figure out and for me to judge.” Mia replied. “Now leave.”
Mia watched them leave the temple grounds, her gun raised, before returning inside. Only then did she realize how cold she was. In her rush to confront her visitors she had neglected to put anything more on. Setting her gun down, she put on some warmer clothes. Mia took a seat then, having nothing more to do than wait.
North Eastern Amerika
Jax Tirek, the hero who went by the name Slipstream watched as flames shot up from the ground into the air and began to burn the countless innocents that were trapped int he flames. He focused his vision directly on the man with the red face and shook his head.
It's impossible. Usually someone who dies due to decapitation stays well...decapitated and dead.
He looked down at the burning innocents and his hands clenched into fists. If only he wasn't so badly outnumbered he could have easily put out the flames and rescued everyone. When he had acquired his powers, he had decided that the name Slipstream would be one associated with honor and heroic acts.
But he was outnumbered...badly outnumbered and even with his speed it would be a very difficult rescue.
He looked at the man who was supposed to be dead and his mind began to race as a plan came to mind.
Screw it. I don't have much to live for these days anyway. I lost pretty much everything the first time this guy died.
In the blink of an eyes, Slipstream began circling the flames that surrounded the countless innocent people, he was moving fast enough that the air was being channeled out of the area and the flames were quickly dying but so were the people he had decided to save.
Just a few more seconds...he thought as he continued to snuff out of the flames. He could see the innocents clutching at their throats but it was at that moment that the flames finally died and Slipstream turned his attention to other matters as the air began to rush back into the area that the flames had once occupied.
He slammed into a few of the guards, hoping to grab their attention and he smiled as he came to a stop at the base of the hill. He waved at the Red Skull.
"Well, you seem awfully...alive for someone who was decapitated." He joked as he bolted randomly from spot to spot. "Got any beauty tips for someone who's starting to get up there in age." He asked jokingly as he continued bolting from spot to spot.
Outskirts of Las Vegas
"You...You've either been gone for a very long time or your new here," The girl told him softly. "I'm sorry to tell you this...but Thor died nearly sixty years ago. Nearly all of the heroes died the same night he did. It was the night the heroes fell. The Fantastic Four, The X-Men, The Avengers, they all died that night."
"Noooooo~" Beta Ray Bill gasped out at the news. All his friends and allies, dead. That would explain why his brother-in-arms, The Silver Surfer, never returned......Why 'Stormbreaker' was so troubled.
"And I found found Mjolnir when I was being chased by thugs a few months ago. I...was scared. More scared than I ever was before in my life. I was running and I came across the site of Thor's last battle, his hammer hadn't been lifted since the night he died no one could lift it." The young woman inhaled deeply. "I expected to die that night, thousands of people had come to the hammer to pray to it that the heroes would come back but they never did. And I grabbed it and I heard this voice in my head. It told me that, 'Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.'"
The girl shook her head. "There was this light...and the hammer was in my hands and they ran away. I swear on my life that's the truth. If you doubt me then let me hold the hammer so I can prove it."
Beta Ray Bill was devastated, but not stupid, he would not give her a potential weapon, yet......Did it not mean that if she could lift it, that there was valor in her equal to Thor and himself? If so, then what had he to fear from her? And if she were not worthy then he had nothing to fear, as she would be unable to lift it.
He pondered his options for a moment, all the while his mind reeling from the shock of hearing the news of his fallen comrades. Beta Ray slumped into a chair, leaning forward, arms on his knees as he held the two mighty hammers in each hand firmly; his weight barely tolerated by the old recliner.
"Wait...you said that Thor was your Oath Brother. You knew Thor?" The girl suddenly asked in an unexpected alteration of disposition.
Beta Ray Bill finally responded to her, his mind finally catching up to the question, "Aye, I did know him, I fought with him. Thor was my 'Oath Brother', for I had pledged to be there in his times of need, but........It seems I have failed him in my promise to him, and for that I have nothing but regret."
Bill shook his head, closing his eyes in remorse, speaking solemnly, "I knew and fought alongside many of the heroes of which you speak. I was counted among them during my time here. And Thor, I fought alongside him in defense of Asgard itself! He with mighty Mjolnir!" Bill lifted the worn hammer before his and her gaze with a nostalgic smile, well, what one could only guess was a smile on his face.
"And I, with the powerful 'Stormbreaker'!" He lowered Mjolnir, and lifted his own metallic-golden hammer before their gazes. He lowered it, staring at the girl with a brutally hard stare. "Neither hammer may be lifted by anyone, save for those deemed worthy. They must have valor and honor, be humble and selfless, noble and kind, but above all, willing to do what they must, whether it be slay or die, for those they wish to protect......."
Beta Ray Bill stood, walking up to the girl; towering over her, he held out Mjolnir, but before her hand reached it he retracted it out of reach, thrusting forward 'Stormbreaker'. He did not trust her to not have some trickery at play, that by some means unknown to himself she had garnered enough power from all the mighty evil beings with capacities for magic and other devices as to be able to nullify the enchantments of the 'Allfather', should that even be possible.
"....Take it, and if you be worthy, then you should have nothing to fear," He demanded flatly.
Amy could tell that whoever this person was had apparently been gone for a very long time. He seemed genuinely shocked by the news of the death of many of the world's heroes.
"If it makes you feel better...Thor took nearly of his foes with him." She said softly as she remembered what the old man she had once met had told her. "And the ones who survived never came back here. I think they were afraid of Mjolnir and the hope it and Thor's legacy inspired in people."
She was about to reach for Mjolnir when the creature offered it to her but he pulled it back at the last moment and instead offered her his hammer. Her eyes widened in confusion for a moment until he spoke.
"Neither hammer may be lifted by anyone, save for those deemed worthy. They must have valor and honor, be humble and selfless, noble and kind, but above all, willing to do what they must, whether it be slay or die, for those they wish to protect......."
She looked at the hammer and than looked up at the creature holding Mjolnir and she nodded as her eyes narrowed in determination. "I'll prove to you that I'm telling the truth."
"....Take it, and if you be worthy, then you should have nothing to fear,"
Amy took a deep breath. She had lifted Mjolnir. She had trained with it many times but she still didn't have that much experience with it. She didn't know what this new weapon was capable of or if it was rigged to kill her if she couldn't lift it.
No...if these weapons are similar than if I can prove myself maybe I'll finally have a teacher. Someone who can teach me how to harness it's power for the greater good.
She took another deep breath and took the handle of the weapon. It felt...similar to Mjolnir but not quite the same.
She took the offered weapon by the hilt and held it up in front of her. "I...It feels different than Mjolnir." She said quietly. "Similar, but somehow different."
"If it makes you feel better...Thor took nearly of his foes with him. And the ones who survived never came back here. I think they were afraid of Mjolnir and the hope it and Thor's legacy inspired in people."
"That I do not doubt, my 'Oath Brother' was mighty indeed, and would not have gone into Valhalla without sending his attackers to Hel herself!" Beta Ray said with exuberance.
The young woman reached out, grasping Bill's hammer firmly before her, his own hand still grasped it as well. Then....He released, and to his relief and bemusement she held fast to it, though her arm slunk down from it's natural weight.
"I...It feels different than Mjolnir. Similar, but somehow different."
Beta Ray Bill nodded, his expression plain, "Indeed, as I said, it is 'Stormbreaker', the younger sibling of Mjolnir. It is different for it was forged personally for me, by order of the 'Allfather' himself, Odin you might know him by. He is the one whom you hear when you lift Mjolnir, for I hear him also when I lift it, and have spoken with him personally also; a great honor, I assure you."
Beta Ray Bill took his hammer back, holding up Mjolnir to his face once more, "I failed you when you needed me most 'Oath Brother', so let me make this vow now, and keep it always to atone for my transgression. I will not leave your beloved Midgard, Earth, till I have seen justice done in your name, and those of all our fallen brethren. I will Avenge you all!"
With that promise the great hammer of Thor sparked, glyphs: words written into the side of it's face glowed, revealing the words of Odin. Electricity, no, lightning, lightning of Thor, 'The Thunderer', arced out of it, 'Stormbreaker' catching the stray bolts that left it's mighty sibling. But in an instant it was over, and Beta Ray Bill stood still staring into the hammer, a mix of sorrow and pride written on his face.
He looked down at the young woman before him, giving over Mjolnir with no more struggle, not even a hesitant grasp, only a feint smile, knowing that there was someone to take up his 'Oath Brother's' place to wield Mjolnir, maybe.....To fight alongside.
"I am Beta Ray Bill, champion, and one of the last, of the Korbinites! What is your name, worthy wielder of Mjolnir?" He announced and asked quite robustly.
North Eastern Amerika
Exact Coordinates Unknown
It was often difficult to go back to sleep when suddenly awakening from a dreadful nightmare...if only the people in this forest were dreaming. These people had been dragged from their homes, and all lined up like the good little sheep that they were. Many soldiers stood ever so silently, making the wind the loudest thing in the area when it passed by. It was careful though, as if it too did not wish to come across such a horrible thing.
A woman suddenly spoke up among the mute crowd, pleading with the soldiers to let them go. Her cries went answered...but not by the soldier. The man of the hour himself approached the woman. The Red Skull was certainly someone to be feared, and these people did just that. He was the shepard, and they were now his sheep.
A few feet from him stood another being who was just as quiet as the soldiers. A large purple cape was draped over the figure, covering almost the entire body. Only the domed helmet stuck out, which the being didn't mind in the slightest. A small smile curved on the figure's face. The reason for it was the thought of what these people would see if they were to gaze in that general direction. They would be greeted with their own reflection, and there were high hopes they would do so in their final moments. The second reason was simply due to the fact that no one would see the smile in the first place.
Mysterio watched the next series of events quite intently. The fire that soon smothered these fine folks came as both a welcoming sight and yet another headache. Fire was a beautiful creature when danced with properly. She was elegant and her movements could only be matched with an equal amount of grace. Such a fast movement like this could hardly be enjoyed let alone savored. It was brutal, and quite horrific...a classic mark of the Red Skull. The masked marvel moved towards Red Skull with a calm stride.
"Subtle as usual, aren't we?" Mysterio said with every bit of wit he could fit into that sentence.
No man or woman would dare speak to the Red Skull in such a way. Mysterio was no man or woman though, a soon to be god. With such a title and power to back those words up meant Mysterio feared no back lash from the man. Mysterio had brought down the X-Men, and in turn made a real name for "Mysterio" that day. The domed genius was also aware of this Red Skull's accomplishments. As such his words were not of arrogance or disapproval in his choice. He was simply speaking to the Red Skull as an equal unlike the rest of his soldiers. Mysterio knew how Red Skull viewed people like that, and Mysterio would be no puppet like these soldiers.
"Though I did enjoy the bit with the family reunions, it was a very nice touch" Mysterio added before letting out a light chuckle.
"I am Beta Ray Bill, champion, and one of the last, of the Korbinites! What is your name, worthy wielder of Mjolnir?"
A small smile appeared on Amy's face. "Beta Ray Bill, Oath brother to Thor, it is a pleasure to meet you. My name is Amy Zander." She said with a smile as she extended her free hand towards him.
"I do have to be honest though, Although I know what Mjolnir is capable of, I don't really know how to use it yet. If you'd be willing to teach me, I would be honored to accept your teaching and guidance."
"Beta Ray Bill, Oath brother to Thor, it is a pleasure to meet you. My name is Amy Zander. I do have to be honest though, Although I know what Mjolnir is capable of, I don't really know how to use it yet. If you'd be willing to teach me, I would be honored to accept your teaching and guidance." The young woman, Amy Zander, told Bill, who proceeded to scrutinize the proffered hand until he realized what she was doing, taking it in his own large, four digit hand, completely encompassing her own with it.
Beta Ray Bill contemplated this for a time; he had not considered her skill with the hammer, and he had not considered the necessities of teaching how to use it either. For him, a cybernetic warrior, and champion of the Korbinite people, wielding Mjolnir, and then 'Stormbreaker' soon afterwards came naturally, and with a surprisingly easy lack of forethought. Even the seemingly complex use of their powers in general had been something that he'd learned to wield without effort or thought. But Beta Ray Bill was forgetting something, this was a human, no noble virtue by birth, nor warrior caste history, only a story of desperate valiance in the face of certain death, an act of valor for sure, but no great measure of combat prowess and virtue beyond par.....No, Beta Ray Bill suspected that she was deemed worthy by her nature of heart, her need at the time, and maybe ~ perhaps the knowledge of what she might, no, would become!
Beta Ray Bill studied Amy intensely, seemingly gleaning something from her that only he could see, and that guess wouldn't be far off. "Then, Amy Zander, I shall honor you, and myself, with teaching you how to wield the mighty hammer of my 'Oath Brother', and together, perhaps, we can bring some peace and order back to this once beautiful world that Thor loved so much!"
With that, he placed his large hand on her slim shoulder and smiled, lifting 'Stormbreaker' to his breast as a sign of dedication of his words to her.
Kapital Airport, New Babylon
Curtis 'Teddy' Bentley walked slowly through the black, metallic, tiled hallways of one of the new world's most active airports on Earth. There was the crisp smell of steel rising from his every step, each footfall reverberating throughout the vacant private loading gate.
he walked forward into a part of the corridor completely comprised of steel-enforced glass, allowing him to peer down the 300 foot distance to the main lobby below.
There were countless civilians, bustling about with their brownish and yellow stained tags attached to their collars or suitcases. The lines, too, were countless, with at least a thousand black-clad Ostgruppen police officers positioned at various checkpoints, all the tall, dark, obelisks of men openly armed and hostile as they searched each and every ongoing or off going passenger. Though security was entirely visible with hardly any secrets, Curtis' instinct told him that it was far tighter than any transportation facility on the planet. Shifting his vision to the glass panel above him, he realized that the ceiling of the airport was pocked with guard posts and unmanned turrets. Clearly, the Eternal Reich didn't trust its populace.
"Herr Bentley, halt."
Curtis, temporarily enraptured by the sheer magnitude of the logistical masterpiece around him, mentally jumped in surprise. His focus returning, he slipped a black gloved hand into his coat pocket, producing a black book with a red swastika emblazoned upon its cover. The checkpoint officer took it with a purely deadpan expression on his face.
"Your business, Agent?"
Bentley adjusted his suit jacket, "Not disclosed as of yet, acting on orders to investigate an unspecified incident in Sinister Empire controlled Korea. Likely to be insurgent related activity."
Lifting his left eyebrow slightly, the checkpoint officer indicated interest, briefly breaking his visage of clear indifference.
"Very good. You may proceed."
The officer looked back at the search crew, giving them a fair shake of the head. Every once in a while, Curtis' security clearance actually went through.
Nodding in approval, Curtis strode through the checkpoint, embarking on The Bureau's private airline.
"Also, Agent, I was instructed to give you this."
Bentley turned and accepted a heavy manila envelope from the checkpoint officer.
"Your eyes only, as instructed."
Curtis turned back towards his destination and opened the envelope. In bright red letters read "Threat Assessment: Alpha, handle with caution."
In black print below it read the name of Curtis' mark.
North Eastern Amerika
A black boot on burning earth. Tiny specs of white waltzing across the sheen of a well polished exterior. The strangely sensuous and faintly delectable smell of burning flesh.
All these things reminded the Red Skull of times long past. Of the Southern Ukraine. Of the Caucasus. The Volga. The Steppes. Moscow.
Moments in history of great importance to him. This purification was like those moments.
The Red Skull allowed a slight curve to form on his upper lip as he sniffed the ash filled air. These creatures immolating before him were minuscule in comparison to the greater cause...the cause which all the Skulls, all the true Fuhrers, had desired. However small the sacrifice of these subservient creatures must be, every great endeavour must begin with a promise for what is to come. That promise being the return of the Ubermensch. The Red Skull's predecessor had paved the road but had refused to tread upon it. He had become content with the mere death of a man with a shield, the final roadblock...and thus refused the road to Rome.
"Subtle as usual, aren't we?"
Skeletal eyes darted to the domed head of Mysterio. It seems this alliance had caused a slight pretense of familiarity between the two. Red Skull disliked that terribly.
Do not make friends with your food.
That being thought, though, Mysterio was an absolutely necessary asset and as such, would be treated as one. At least, until he becomes another roadblock to the ascension of the Reich Eternal.
"Hmp. Subtlety is for the likes of the Untermensh, Herr Mystery. Though there is a certain art to it all."
A burning hand reached for the Red Skull's boot, failing to grasp it. The Skull countered with a quick smashing of its fingers. The burnt appendage broke in two as flesh gave way to flame.
"There is no reason their families be separated in their moment of ascension."
Suddenly, the atmosphere of the situation changed entirely as a gust of wind brought forth a costumed individual.
Red Skull's expression returned from its smile, taking on a frown. He returned the wave.
Got any beauty tips for someone who's starting to get up there in age."
"Decapitation is merely one form of constructive evolution. The survival of the Superior. When one is no longer viable, he is eliminated, with something greater taking his place."
Calculating his adversary's movement, he threw out a fist, knocking the incredibly fast hero to the ground, if only temporarily.
"As for your aging...well...there is only one true cure for that, Amerikan."
Red Skull grasped the hero's jawbone with the intent of ripping it from its place.
Sinister Empire, the region formerly known as Pyeongchang
The clouds in the sky parted, and the storm cleared. Eight horses, each carrying a Sinister soldier and two pulling a cart, trotted steadily up the mountainside. They would have rather been back home, in a more urban environment where they could be comfortable, but there was nothing better to make one appreciate home than being away from it. They were hunting rebels, rogue humans and mutants who dared act against the Sinister System. This was both for sport and to please his High Majesty Sinister back in Seoul.
“Stop here, boys!” Their leader said, raising his hand.
The Sinister Captain dismounted his horse, his boot landing in the fresh snow. His fellow Sinister soldiers did the same. They knew what the signal meant: from this point on, the terrain would be too steep for their steeds. The Captain reached into his coat pocket and withdrew the key. He went to the back of the cart and unlocked it, allowing the beast within to escape. Or rather, to attempt escape, as he quickly grabbed it by the throat and fitted it with the harness. Once the chains were on, the creature acted as it had been trained to.
“Captain, what manner of creature is that?” One of the soldiers asked. “It looks... human.”
“Well, this dreadful specimen is based upon a couple of old, dead mutants. Mostly the one named Victor Creed,” the Captain said, nudging the mannish beast with his boot. “That’s why we call them Sabrehounds. An old-fashioned scent tracker, Creed was. Good for finding humans.”
“And the other mutant?”
“Called himself Caliban. Tracked other mutants.” He explained. “Put them together and you’ve got yourself quite the rebel hunter.”
Diamond Pond, South of the Woljeongsa Temple complex, on the eastern slopes of the mountain Odaesan
The ice cracked as Mia smacked it with the hilt of her knife. Liquid water was still present below, as she had hoped. She lowered a plastic jug into the water, watching the air bubble up to the surface as the container was filled. When it was finished filling she screwed the cap back on and put it in her bag. Mia hefted the bag onto her shoulder and set off back to Woljeongsa at a brisk pace. It was a bit of a hike back and she wanted to reach it before sundown.
It had been three days since the three visitors had found her in the temple. She had wanted to move on, but there was no more shelter around for miles. Coming to Woljeongsa in the first place had been a risky proposition, and she didn’t want to take the chance that she’s freeze to death avoiding people who were only possibly enemies. As such, she had decided to remain in Woljeongsa. If it turned out that they were telling the truth, that they were Rebellion members and not thieves, she’d regret missing the opportunity. The sound of a gunshot echoed through the air. Instinctively, Mia drew her gun. More shots were fired, mixed with shouts and grunts. Mia cautiously scaled a hill and peered over.
Mia nearly cursed as she saw the eight-member Squadron Sinister firing, their trademark plasma rifles trained on a single target. Her hill was located behind the Squadron's position, and so she had a chance at surveying the scene without detection. Sinisters braving the cold was a rare occurrence, but even rarer an occurrence was her luck being good. Mia tried to see who they were attacking, if they were even attacking at all, and not just having firing practice. Unfortunately, she couldn’t see through the debris cloud the Squadron’s shots were throwing up.
A bullet impacted in one of the soldier’s foreheads, and he fell over dead. The cloud caused by the plasma rifle fire cleared somewhat, and Mia could see a human head briefly peaking out over a rock formation. It was one of the so-called rebels, Choa. Mia grimaced, not liking their chances. The rocks had protected the rebels so far, but the weapons the Sinisters used were sure to break through soon, and they’d have no chance exposed.
Mia dropped her pack, and pulled off her left glove. Her handgun was useful, but it wouldn’t be enough to take down a Squadron. She needed more firepower, and she was thankful that there weren’t any ancient temples around for her to accidentally destroy. Mia slid quickly down the hill, behind the Sinisters. Before they could react she drew energy from her energy cell and released it from her left hand. She did her best to direct it towards the soldiers.
Four soldiers remained, and they picked themselves up as quickly as they could, grabbing at their rifles. They were distracted, however, from the rebels they had just been assaulting, and were swiftly gunned down. Mia saw that the rebels were the same three as before. Besides Choa, there was Kurtis and Woojin, the latter of whom Mia presumed to be the leader. He certainly had acted like it.
“Fortunate timing, Conduit.” Woojin said. “We’re in your debt.”
“What were you doing back in this area?” Mia asked, ignoring the thanks.
“We were bringing you some food.” Kurtis said. “You asked us to prove we were Rebels, after all.”
“Why so desperate for me to believe you?” She asked.
“I’ve been wondering the same thing.” Choa quipped. Mia ignored it.
“The Rebellion needs everyone we can get our hands on.” Woojin said, walking up to Mia. “We’re all in this together. Humanity against the Sinister System.”
A growling sound came from behind them. They turned to see the sabrehound running about, chasing a deer. Mia hadn’t noticed before, but it looked like a man. Choa raised her rifle and, before Mia could say anything, pulled the trigger. The shot hit the hound right in the forehead. Mia knew it was dead before it hit the ground.
“What did you do that for?” Mia shouted. “Look at it! It was human!”
“That was a Sabrehound. They only look human.” She insisted. “The thing’s brain wasn’t much more advanced than a dog’s.”
“How exactly do you know that?” Mia asked.
“You think this is my first time engaging Sinisters?” Choa replied. “Or are you the expert now?”
“Enough!” Woojin said, putting himself between the two before the argument could continue. “We can argue morality later. Right now we’ve got to get out of here. No Sinister dies unnoticed, let alone a Squadron.”
Mia couldn’t argue with that. The Sinister might not have been a hive-mind in the purest sense of the term, but all members of the system were psionically connected. Reinforcements likely had already been dispatched. Pyeongchang wasn’t safe for her anymore, if it ever had been. She’d need to head north to have any chance of avoiding them. The three rebels had begun walking away, and one turned to call to her.
“Hey Conduit!” Kurtis called out. “You coming with us?”
“Mia.” She said without thinking.
“Hmm?” Woojin said.
“My name is Mia.” She repeated as she caught up to them.
“Well, Mia...” He said, shaking her hand. “Welcome to the Rebellion.”
Sinister Seoul, Capital of the Sinister Empire, heart of the region formerly known as Gyeonggi Province
High Majesty Sinister smiled as a new generation of the Sinister Species emerged from the Creation Engines, basking in the glow provided by the energy of the Life Seed that powered them. Nathaniel Essex would have been one of the oldest men on the planet, if he still considered himself to be that man. He had literally reinvented himself a thousand times over, fine-tuning his genetic code each time. Sinister was no long just a name. Sinister was a species, a superior species, and the High Majesty the most superior of them all. He tapped his cane and the platform he stood upon rose up.
He could not help but admire his city as he flew over it. Sinister Seoul was a masterpiece of a metropolis, gleaming and bustling with activity. When he had deposed Apocalypse and dismantled his Akkaba Dominion, Sinister had been quite tempted to simply raze the city and build his Sinister London anew in its ashes. But he soon found he quite liked the name Sinister Seoul, so instead he built Sinister London atop the ruins of Pyongyang. The High Majesty was no fool and so repurposed the pre-existing infrastructure, and so Seoul became the natural center of his Sinister Empire. London was his summer home.
The platform brought him to his castle, and as it docked an advisor of his hurried up to him. The Minister of Foreign Affairs was as handsome as any of the Sinister Species, with bushy but well-groomed mutton chops. He was bit more portly than most, with an appetite that outpaced his healthy metabolism, but not so much as to be chastised for it. Taking his cap off, he bowed deeply. The High Majesty motioned for him to rise, and he did so.
“I hate to disturb you at home, your Majesty.” the Minister said hastily. “We’ve received a request from the Bureau. They’re requesting permission to land at Incheon.”
“As always, they forget their station.” Sinister responded. “They work to serve me, not the other way around. Still bitter about Apocalypse, now doubt. Why have they come now?”
“They’re investigating an incident of unregistered superhuman activity.” He replied, flipping through the papers he held in his hands. “They say it occurred a month ago.”
“Ah, the Pyeongchang incident, I presume.” Sinister said. “I could turn them down, force them to land in the Mandarin’s pittance of a Kingdom and force them to make their way on foot. The Minister of the Interior assures me he has it under control” He paused for a moment. “But what sort of a host would that make me? I’ll humor them this time. Permission to land at Incheon is granted.”
“As your Majesty wishes.” The Minister replied, bowing slightly and then walking away.
“Oh, and Minister?” Sinister said, catching him as he left the room. “Make sure to keep them out of my way.”
Abandoned Akkaba port, Sinister Empire, the region formerly known as Kangnyong
The boat docked at midnight. It was the night of a new moon, and so the night was dark. Darkness usually made sailing difficult, but Choa could see through the shadows. Mia was rarely glad to have her around, but even she could not deny her usefulness. She heard the lowering of the gangway from below deck. Grabbing her belongings, she made her way to the deck of the ship.
The Akkaba port was an impressive sight, even in ruins. Sinister’s aesthetic taste trended towards a mashup of futurism and retroism. Apocalypse had not been much different, but his idea of retro was older than even Sinister’s. His taste was distinctly Egyptian, which clashed with the natural environment of Korea. Mia doubted that had bothered Apocalypse, but it had evidently bothered Sinister, judging by how thorough his demolition of Akkaba structures had been.
Mia fell to the back of the rebel party as they disembarked. Even though she had been with the Rebellion for a month, she didn’t feel like part of her group. They were willing to let her keep her distance, and she liked that. Her boots thudded loudly on the dark stone streets as Choa lead them to their destination. The buildings had obviously been made to last, through battle scars were evident at every turn. They soon found themselves in a large square, where a rebel group had made camp. There were terse greetings and reunions as the two rebel groups joined. Mia had a few of her own to make, but was in no rush. She found herself a seat, and stared off. One of the men broke off from the crowd to approach her.
“Mia, are you a sight for sore eyes.” Kurtis said, sitting down next to her and patting her on the shoulder. “What’ve you been up to?”
“You know.” Mia said in a humorless tone.
“Causing trouble up in Sinuiju, right?” He asked. “Get anything good?”
“Some guns, some body armor, not much.” She answered. “What’s with the tents?”
“Nothing surprising. Woojin trusts the inside of an Akkaba building to be safe as much as he’d trust a snake not to eat a rat.” Kurtis explained. “Nothing dangerous showing up when we’ve raided the insides, but he’s not taking the risk.”
“How soon until we set out for Haeju?” Mia asked.
“Soon as we get enough hazmat suits scraped together for a good unit.” He replied. “Genocide’s death released so much radiation that Sinister never even bothered to come back. But the city’s still standing.”
“So, a potentially untouched cache of Akkaba weaponry? That’s what we’re here for?” Mia frowned. She was as distrustful of Apocalypse’s work as she was of Sinister’s. Her mother had made sure of that.
“That’s the idea. Woojin thinks we’ll need something like that to make progress against Sinister.”
“He’s probably right.” Mia said bitterly.
“Well, it was good seeing you again.” Kurtis said after an awkward pause, standing up. “You’ll want to find a place to sleep. It’ll be an early morning tomorrow.
"Then, Amy Zander, I shall honor you, and myself, with teaching you how to wield the mighty hammer of my 'Oath Brother', and together, perhaps, we can bring some peace and order back to this once beautiful world that Thor loved so much!"
Amy smiled. She finally had a teacher and one who was familiar with the way that Mjolnir worked. She had an ally who could help her return peace back to the world.
"I...Thank you Beta Ray Bill." She said with a large smile on her face. "I don't know how to thank you. And I'm proud that I will be able to fight alongside you once I learn how to use Mjolnir to it's fullest extent."
She looked at the Asgardian weapon and smiled. "So...where do we start? Do you want to know more about what happened to the world and who you may be up against? Or perhaps you can tell me the basics of using Mjolnir if it's alright with you."
"As for your aging...well...there is only one true cure for that, Amerikan."
Slipstream grunted as he hit the ground and the Red Skull grabbed his jaw and began trying to rip it from his skull.
"You know, you really need to develop a sense of humor." He managed to get out before he unleashed a series of powerful, rapid punches that managed to get him away from the Red Skull for a moment.
He sped backwards towards he was at the bottom of the hill a good distance away from the red skull. "I'm a bit confused. Maybe you can answer a question? How are you alive? I heard that one of the surviving X-men killed you a while back. What brought about your resurrection?"
Abandoned Akkaba port, Sinister Empire, the region formerly known as Kangnyong
Mia gritted her teeth, listening while the metal shrieked and wailed. The blast door was twisted and torn out of place, the woman known as Fallout grunting as she dropped tossed it to the side. Rena Chandler-Jones wasn’t as young as she’d like to be, but even an old Hulk was a strong one. Mia followed her into the dark insides of the Akkaba building. A few others, Kurtis’ crew, went in after her, carrying lights and weapons. The illuminated room was completely bare, with a single passage into a back room.
“You’ve seen what the hazmat suits look like, so just keep your eyes out.” Fallout said, leading the group into the back room.
“Awfully convenient that there’s so many Hazmat suits lying around here.” Mia’s voice was only partially sarcastic.
“When Genocide came to Haeju to reinforce War, he arrived here. Akkaba used the suits to protect themselves from his radiation.”
“Then what killed them?”
“Starvation.” Fallout eyed a container on the wall. “There’s one. Kurtis, if you’d be so kind.”
“Way ahead of you.” Kurtis opened it up, and turned to his men. “Alright boys, get these things back to camp.”
“That should be enough.” Fallout said, turning to Mia. “Seeing as there don’t seem to be any terrible killer robots in this one, you’re dismissed.”
“Glad I didn’t need to be of service.” Mia said, walking away.
“Hey Mia!” Kurtis said, catching her on the way out. “The boys and I are making a special dish for dinner. Feel free to stop by our tent tonight if you want some.”
“Sure.” Mia paused to answer and then went on her way.
The light of day brought a very different feel to the Akkaba Port. At night, it had felt foreboding and dangerous, as if the emptiness was simply because the host of villains there to kill you had slunk into the shadows to prepare for a surprise attack. In the light of the sun, under a clear blue sky, it simply felt deserted. Mia made her way to the water’s edge and sat on the side a dock. A mutated three-eyed fish swam in the shallow water. She thought it tragic that mutation made a freak of the fish, but made herself into a marvel. Mia grinned at the mental image of a fish decked out in the classic X-Men uniform.
When the sun set, Mia got up and walked back into camp. It was noisier than the night before, the rebels become more accustomed to the idea that they were in an area where Sinister would not be venturing. It would have made a good base for the rebellion, if supplies were not an issue. She found her way to Kurtis’ crew’s tent, and he greeted her warmly. Handing her a bowl, he ladled in a thick stew, a spicy smell wafting up to her nose.
“Gumbo, cajun-style, just like Grandma taught me to make.” Kurtis said.
“Never had gumbo before.”
“Well, it’s damn good.” Kurtis handed Mia a spoon. “Try it.”
Mia took a spoonful.
“It’s damn good.” Mia said with a smile.
“I told you so,” Kurtis grinned back. “Sit down and eat your fill. Tomorrow’s a big day.”
Undisclosed Location, Sinister Empire, Kangnyong Region
Brief flashes of bright conical tubes of light bounced around the abandoned Akkaba ruins.
"Is that our mark, Herr Oberscharfurher?" Asked Sturmbannfuhrer Ullrich Becker.
Peter Schultz remained silent, his eyes watching the Egyptian silhouettes for any sign of a rear guard. Taking a deep breath, removing the standard issue Krieger A20 multipurpose goggles, and wiping the accumulated sweat from his brow, he turned to Becker.
"Ja. These are the ones....if those intercepted Sinister reports were properly broken, these are the rebels the Reichsmarshall wants."
Pulling his FG-62 assault rifle from his pack near his feet, Shultz pulled the scope to his eye, trigger hand resting on the stock. He flipped through the lenses, enhancing the image of the Akkaba port and viewing the infra-red signals emitted from the rebels' location. The heat emanating from the targets' bodies were hindered from view by pockets of radiation.
"Becker, tell Toller, Friedrich, and Mohlen to check their Geiger counters and to dress in the Zyklon padding we hauled from the Mandies in China. This area still has some nasty pockets of radiation."
For 3 weeks, Shultz's sturmgruppen had been tracking these rebels, always at least one step behind or just in time to smell the ashes of their last combatants. This particular operation was unusual for sturmtruppen, as Central Command had received orders from the Reichsmarshall himself, the second-in-command to Der Rote Schädel.
Shultz rubbed his eyes with a black gloved hand and bit into a hard cracker from his ration box. Not only had they landed in Mandarin territory without permission, but they'd assembled listening posts and dead drops for future operations...and then they'd crossed the northern border of the Sinister Empire. They'd upset the sovereignty of two of the most meglomaniacal leaders on Earth. Their mission already had top security clearance, but its importance was solidified by the fact that their capture risked total war between the Eternal Reich and its Asian counterparts.
He couldn't wait to get back to the Reich. Crawling around for days on end in a Ghillie suit and then cramping 5 large Deutsches-stock men into a small ruin while Sinister troops tramped about did little to change Shultz's negative opinion of the former Korean peninsula.
Now wasn't the time to think such thoughts, though.
"Ullrich, break position and load your depleted uranium rounds. I count 8, maybe 9 tangos and a few are superhuman. Men of the Reich, we move now."
Incheon Airfield, Sinister Empire
The flight had gone remarkably smooth, considering the fact that the Bureau and the Sinister Empire were far from amiable terms.
Nonetheless, Curtiss hated turbulence...and there'd been more than enough of that on the flight.
Combating a headache and fighting back the urge to advantage of the Bureau's extensive list of on-board alcoholic beverages, the agent's view on the world's condition had become increasingly negative with each passing hour that the differing time-zones changed. He still had his job to do.
The passenger door slid open, temporarily blinding Curtiss with the bright sun of a surprisingly clear day in Incheon. It certainly wasn't like that the last time he had to land in the city...then again, he had been more undercover then in an attempt to build his list of informants and contacts within Sinister's high court.
The airfield itself never failed to shock Curtiss. The field was perfectly flat with absolutely straight lines of bright green grass lining the cleaned concrete. The agrarian complex of an age long past had been revived and it always brought back his early memories of reading Jane Austen novels.
That was long ago for Curtis and in a far more embarrassing period of time.
At the bottom of the stairway stood a well-dressed, middle-aged man with a slightly portly figure and a deepening red complexion that suggested his drinking habits had far from died off. McDowell was an old colleague, though how he managed to remain within Sinister's service for so long a time remained a mystery for Curtis.
A smile exploded onto the Sinister Minister's face.
"Teddy, I'd not thought they'd send you here."
Returning the smile with a nod, Curtis replied, "Hmm, it's not as if my jurisdiction ends with the East Coast, McDowell. This is my territory."
The Minister's smile twitched slightly, inevitably taking insult with Curtis' poke, however small, at the Empire's power. The smile recovered quickly, though, and McDowell offered a soft hand.
"I see nothing has changed, Teddy."
Giving the hand a firm shake, Curtis, at last, returned the smile. Catching McDowell's eye, Curtis maintained the gaze for what seemed to be an awkward 3 seconds (they seemed much longer). It was as if Curtis wasn't absolutely sure McDowell was correct but failed to acknowledge it himself. Such doubts surfaced themselves in his mind far more frequently now. It was disconcerting to say the least.
Breaking the trance, McDowell produced a manila envelope from a small leather briefcase.
"By the way, you may wish to examine these. Whatever the Bureau sent you here for, I'm sure this is related to it. Consider it an act of goodwill from His Majesty."
Tilting an eyebrow, Curtis accepted the envelope. He didn't like it when 'His Majesty' came into the conversation. Sinister's appearance was that of a benevolent ruler, but Curtis knew this world well enough to know that such men always hold a deeper agenda.
Especially when they allow you, a possibly hostile force, on their territory.
"The Bureau appreciates His Majesty's gift. I'm sure it will be of great use."
Stealing himself away from the airfield, Curtis began reading the report. With any luck, finding Mia Ko may be one of the easier jobs the Bureau had ever had Curtis assigned to.
And it worried him.
North Eastern Amerika
"I'm a bit confused. Maybe you can answer a question? How are you alive? I heard that one of the surviving X-men killed you a while back. What brought about your resurrection?"
That name should never have been alluded to.
Johann Schmidt knew the risks. A pity he let himself grow weak in victory.
"You ask too many questions, Amerikan!"
The Red Skull felt no need to divulge such origins to his enemies. Better to maintain the image that Der Rote Schädel never died, never felt such humiliating defeat at the hands of a decrepit Old Man. There was no need to reveal Docter Zola's survival into the far future and how he had prepared the ascension of the Master Race by safeguarding Johann Schmidt's dream within the DNA of a true Aryan.
There was no need to divulge to the Amerikan that soon, the Eternal Reich, the Masters of the Earth, would soon break all bonds of peace with the world and begin the Grand Conquest...the Final Campaign to purify the Earth of iniquity and at last see the true Man Gods return to the Throne. Valhalla will tremble with the voices of the Victors, Asgard will be reborn in the shape of the Ubermensch.
Rubbing his chest from the blows delivered, the Red Skull withdrew an adamantium blade from its sheath within his black leather jacket.
"All will be revealed in time. Time, which these Untermensch do not have."
With his other hand, the Skull waved to the Kommandant to resume the liquidation of the selected civilians.
"Herr Mystery, I hope you realize that now may be the time to take our leave."
He gestured with the blade to Mysterio, motioning to the black helicopters which had brought them to this remote location.
Abandoned Akkaba port, Sinister Empire, the region formerly known as Kangnyong
The sun broke over the horizon as the silence of the morning was broken by gunfire.
Schultz would in that moment regret bringing Mohlen along for the mission. He was a good fighter, and from good blood, but with matters of stealth he was less than reliable. His clumsiness gave away their position before their bullets had, and the rebels gained themselves a few seconds. A few seconds made quite the difference, allowing their guards to take position, and their off-duty personnel to scatter to cover. Mohlen, in a bit of poetry, was the first casualty of the battle, taking a bullet square in the face.
Not that Schultz was bothered. They were the superior men, and therefore the superior fighters. Just because their surprise had come moments earlier did not mean there was no surprise. The advantage was theirs in more ways than one. Soon after Mohlen’s death the rebels suffered a casualty, and then another. They were on the advance, their foes retreating. Schultz let loose a round, hitting a woman in the neck. Instead of dying, she grew in size. They had a Hulk, or an Abomination rather, based on the transformation. Schultz grinned. He appreciated a challenge.
Mia hated to run, but she wasn’t too foolish to understand when the situation called for it. Woojin had rallied the retreat, while Kurtis’ squad stayed between them and the front line. They were to retrieve what supplies they could before the guard’s ranks broke. A few said prayers for the Guard, but Mia appreciated their sacrifice silently. It was a brave thing, to give your life for others, for a cause. Good men were dying.
She zipped the hazmat suit up over her regular clothing in the shelter of a dark alley. They would not stay in the port any longer: their advance to Haeju would be happening now, and that meant a trek through the nuclear wastelands. Hardly an ideal scenario for such a treacherous journey, but the choice was between that and dying with the Guard. With luck, they’d reach the city before their ambushers caught up with them. The only thing they knew for certain was the port was compromised. Leaving the alley, Mia saw Woojin floating a bit above the rest of rebels. ChoA and Kurtis stood on his crates next to him, the former glaring at Mia as she approached. ChoA always glared at her.
“My boys got all the stuff we’re gonna get,” Kurtis said. “We better move now.”
“We don’t have the food here for the expedition we had planned.” ChoA spoke before Woojin could reply.
“So we’ll have a shorter expedition,” Mia had not been invited into the conversation, but volunteered her opinion anyways.
“I agree with Kurtis and Mia,” Woojin said, and then raised his voice so that all the rebels would hear. “Listen to me! Soldiers, follow your squad leaders. Squad leaders, follow me.”
Officially speaking, Mia was neither a part of a squad, nor a squad leader herself. She joined up with Kurtis’ group as they made their exit from the port through a side gate. The land before them was barren and dry. Nothing that they hadn’t dealt with before, but it wasn’t the wasteland that scared them. They all hoped that Haeju was empty of hostiles, but by no means was that certain.
They cast long shadows in the light of the sun.
Two weeks previous, Sinister Seoul, Sinister Empire
The headquarters of Mister Sinister, once a supervillain and now a ruler of his own empire, loomed in the distance. A major landmark of the Seoul cityscape not easily missed. What was it with supervillains wanting to impose their might with that kind of pompous self-aggrandizement. He could see Sinister now, growing old yet more powerful, sitting on his self-imposed throne of an Empire wrongly gained after the fall of heroes long past. No longer he himself fighting heroes, but instead getting fat and ever greedier by having his millions of lackeys stamp out every threat to his throne.
'Do you think he will still be a challenge to defeat?' The young symbiote asked somewhere deep in his mind, sensing hesitation in the man crouching on a rooftop and observing the headquarters of one of the greatest supervillains to have ever lived.
"Perhaps. Perhaps the most challenge I will have is with his followers and not Sinister himself," the man said and smiled before turning away from looking at the cityscape and peering his eyes at the nearby ocean.
"But that doesn't matter. A man and his followers can be beaten, bruised and even killed, but nothing good will come of it unless the citizens are willing to step up after the evil is purged. This world needs symbols again, there have to be heroes still out there who can rise to the occasion like Spider-Man and Iron Man used to decades ago."
'Then why don't you step up?' the symbiote asked, causing the man to chuckle at the naivete he still perceived on it despite it being adult now.
"I'm not a symbol. I'm a shadow. The criminals will fear me, but the citizens cannot look up to me. I can stand between them and the villains, but I cannot act as a role model for them."
'Like Iron Man, billionaire playboy demolishing entire cities while fighting evil? Wolverine? Or maybe Daredevil?'
The internal conversation was cut short by the screams of people from somewhere below on the city streets. The "law" was hitting the streets again it would seem. Liu rushed to the edge of the roof and peered down. He could hear it more clearly now, the screams were below him some seventeen stories on a side street. He could see a small group of women fleeing from a larger group of men. Some criminals never change no matter how high their bosses climb on the ladder of control.
Without hesitation Liu jumped off the rooftop, dropping down ten stories before the symbiote warped on his back, expanding and creating a parachute that slowed him down just enough for him to land on his feet between the women and the criminals chasing them, the symbiote immediately returning back to form the back of his ragged very dark green outfit.
Shinobi, now with one knee on the ground and the other bent infront of him looked up at the criminals from behind his mask, his hand reaching behind his back to the grip of his katana. The criminals slowed down before laughing and starting to circle the man still keeping close to the ground.
"Who are you then? Another wannabe hero? I've lost count how many of you we've stomped in the last ten years alone!" the criminals kept laughing and moving around him. But as they had been concentrating on keeping an eye on the hand reaching for his sword, his free hand reached out for his kunai and picked one for each finger.
In one swift motion, Shinobi jumped up, throwing the kunai in an arc at the men. One of them managed to evade it, the other were less fortunate and now had the weapons lodged in their throats, gurgling and spewing blood everywhere. The remaining criminals got more serious now, rushing at the green-clad man who now took a ready stance and drew his katana.
In a flurry of motion, assisted by the symbiote not only giving him a heightened reaction time as well as speed and strength to cut down his opponents, Shinobi took care of two, then three criminals in quick swift cuts, only interceded by blocks from incoming blows. The three remaining criminals drew their pistols, seeking to gain a range advantage, but they would not be so lucky. Before they got their safeties off, one of the men had a katana sticking out of his chest and the other two had kunai coming at them, one attached to a light looking chain.
With two of the trio gurgling in their deaths, Shinobi flicked the chain enough to cause the kunai to swing suddenly, cutting the wrist of the lone standing criminal, causing him to drop the gun. Next he knew the green-clad hero was on top of him on the ground with the kunai safely in hand, the chain wrapped around the throat of the criminal.
"Wh-who are you?" the criminal managed to whisper as the chain pressed down on his throat, making breathing nearly impossible.
"When you wake up, go tell Sinister his reign is over," Shinobi said before smashing his elbow on the criminal's jaw, knocking him out. The hero then rose back up and began collecting his gear before he would get rushed again, either by criminals or civilians.
Now, Sinister Seoul, Sinister Empire
Liu Tao sat in his small hotel room just outside downtown Seoul, watching news on the television. Highly propagandised news admittedly, but it was still news. He had grown up with making a distinction between the propaganda and the nuggets of reality in there between the lines. The main thing he ever got out of the news was that life under the rule of supervillains was a bleak and whimsical place indeed.
Although the symbiote had withdrawn from sight withdrawn inside Liu's skin, the two were still discussing the kind of hero the people of the world needed right now. Still at a stalemate in the discussion, Liu was at the same time trying to form a mental image of Sinister's organization in Seoul. The city was heavy with his eyes and ears that one was certain, but right now he was just trying to pinpoint major incoming and outgoing traffic from the city. Something that would harm Sinister without causing too much collateral damage. He was not conducting open revolt here or a civil war, he was just here to cause harm to a villain's operation... just happens that the villain is the ruler of an Empire. He had heard rumours already of a resistance group in the empire fighting Sinister and his forces, but Liu had no way to contact them and he did not want himself to get pulled into a revolution either. He preferred the shadows... but still somehow the idea of contacting the group was inviting to him. Even if just for the fact of getting Sinister off his throne.
Prologue Part I
The Floating City of Attilan, Upper Atmosphere
Two Months Ago
Maximus grinned, watching the Inhuman city of Attilan - his city - rise through the clouds above Niagara Falls. This was the end of Project Number Nine. He was excited again, like he seldom had been since winning his Silent War against his brother. Blackagar had been cast into exile before the Purge, and Maximus had been much amused by the famed Black Bolt’s descent into the muck. He found himself bored by the tedium of Attilan’s new status quo - not much excitement was to be had when the city’s entire population had been made mentally his. There was the occasional issues to be resolved, but rarely anything exciting.
The Projects were Maximus’ solution to the boredom. Project Number Nine was cosmic in its ambitions. He had located an object in deep space, with a distinct magnetic signature. The signature was growing fainted - the object was moving away. Maximus viewed this not unlike a hunt, and had embraced the project with great fervor. He had built a great device, as he was wont to do, one that would snare the object and bring it to Earth. It had performed to task, as he knew it would. It was on the moon, now.
Attilan left Earth, and eventually settled back in the Blue Area of the Moon. It would return to its Bureau-approved place in Niagara soon. He left in a shuttle with a retinue to inspect the object, bringing all his favorites: Luna, Ahura, Karnak, and others. The only one who was essential was the elderly Karnak. Maximus had long ago conquered aging, but Karnak had annoyed him and been left to the ravages of time. He had his uses, Maximus could not deny. They disembarked, marveling at the object Maximus had brought from space.
It appeared to be a massive silver bullet, a weapon that could break worlds.
“Fascinating.” Maximus said, then pointed to Karnak. “Break it!”
Karnak mumbled a curse, but could not deny his master’s will. Maximus knew that Karnak alone would be able see the shatterpoints in the object. The Inhuman slave found one soon enough, and attempted to exploit it. Karnak’s hand shattered instead, leaving only a crack behind. The old Inhuman collapsed, both due to overexertion and due to the pain. Luna began to run to him, intending to help. That impulse was then repressed.
Maximus scowled, disappointed but not caught unprepared. Signalling his lackeys, he had one of his devices brought forth and Karnak dragged off. The device was fairly large, roughly the size of Maximus himself. This of course was little compared to the bullet, but he was certain that the device would be capable of exploiting the weakness that Karnak had exposed. Maximus was soon proved correct as the device pulsed with a green light and then exploded, a massive hole put in the side of the bullet. Those who were unlucky enough to be outside Maximus’ personal barrier suffered, but the cloning chambers would replace them.
Before Maximus’ servants could venture inside, a figure stumbled out from the cloud of debris. As it approached, he could see it looked much like one of his people. Maximus knew all the Inhumans, however, and so he knew that this was not one. A human, perhaps a spartoi, or a skrull morphed to look like one, Maximus counted off the possibilities. None made any sense, much to his delight. There was still a mystery for him to solve.
“Nahrees!” Maximus said. “Grab it.”
The figure had emerged from the cloud, and Maximus could see that it was a brown-haired female, dressed in black and yellow. Nahrees went to grab her, but passed straight through her. The mysterious figure did not react, beyond turning her head to look at the Inhumans. “It’s intangible!” He thought, and his servants acted likewise. The occasional terrigenesis had rendered upon him an intangible servants, and he had long since engineered a solution. A little adjustment to the standard inhibitor collar was all that was needed to circumvent such a condition.
Kitty Pryde was brought aboard the ship.
Outskirts of Sinister Seoul, the Slums
Boris Baryshnikov took a drag on his cigarette before tossing it into the gutter.
The Slums of Sinister Seoul were as dreadful as ever. It was here that humanity had been congregated, and in the other ghettos. They had no choice in the matter, and many considered it lucky that High Majesty Sinister had seen fit to let them live at all. They were not allowed to live in the countryside, let alone Sinister Seoul proper. None of the Sinister Cities were open to those outside the System.
That fact was something the Rebellion had made sure Boris was absolutely clear of. The Sinister System was not something one chose. In the Sister Empire, 95% of humanoid life was of the Sinister species, the manpower of the Sinister System. 40% of non-humanoid life was also part of the Sinister System. The Sinister System is not a choice, it is in their very DNA. The Sinister System did not accept humans. The Rebellion was not one done in the name of the populous. The Sinister System could not be turned against Sinister himself. Total victory for the Rebellion would be History’s bloodiest coup d’etat. The Rebellion was survival. The Sinister System was not a choice.
The ghettos, including the Slums of Sinister Seoul, and their human inhabitants were allowed to exist because there were some jobs considered too lower for even the Sinister Plebeians to handle. The slum dwellers were the lowest of the low, the Untouchables, no better than slaves. For this reason, the members of the Sinister Species rarely visited the slums when it was not time to recruit labor. The Slums had their own so-called government, which the Sinister Empire supplied with propaganda and minor assistance for the purpose of making them tools.
Boris, much to his annoyance, had been sent back home to the Slums to do some searching. There were reports of a vigilante with an anti-Sinister agenda. He was instructed to find this vigilante, who reportedly styled himself after the old shinobi. Recruitment was a possibility, but primarily the Rebellion wished to ensure that this vigilante would not interfere with their most delicately laid plans. Boris chuckled at the thought that there was anything delicate in the Rebellion’s plans for the Slums.
Boris took another cigarette from his pack and lit it, the light from the flame reflecting off his dark eyes in the shadowy streets. The streetlamps cast a dim yellow light. Boris’ head was bald, his clothes were black and plain, a concealed handgun in his belt. One did not need to worry about standing out or blending in while in the Slums, so long as one avoided the rare Sinisters, but Boris tried all the same. He did not like attention while walking the streets. He wanted to find the target and get the hell out of the Slums.
((This time skip is taking place for only Mine and MA's character since they met a few months before the events that are going on occurred.))
Amy looked down at her armor and at her hand which was now confidently holding Mjolnir. It had been months since Beta Ray Bill had begun training her to use Mjolnir and her skill with the mythical weapon had improved beyond her wildest imagination. She could summon lightning, create small storms with it and even fire blasts of energy from it.
But the best thing of all had to be the ability to fly.
It had taken her weeks to learn to use the hammer to soar through the skies and she couldn't go too far due to the fact that if anyone associated with the Villains saw her holding the weapon, she would be hunted down and be shown no mercy. But she loved the feeling of flying through the air. It brought joy to her heart.
She looked up at her mentor and grinned as she held the hammer. "I...want to thank you." She said to her mentor. "Thanks to you I feel like I can finally make a difference and I can finally help those who need help."
She smiled again. "I owe you big time."
She looked over the horizon and towards the sun which was setting. "Where are we going to go first?" She asked.
South West Amerika
Slipstream knew that he had failed.
He had failed to save the Civilians who had looked at him with hope in their eyes as he tried to put out the flames.
And worse, now they knew that there was a Super Speedster running across the county. And now there would be a manhunt the likes of which hadn't been seen since the Night the heroes had fallen.
He narrowed his eyes as he thought back to what that waste of a human being had done to the innocent.
As he sped across the devastated landscape he sighed. Already, he had heard of reports stating that he was to be taken alive or dead. Most likely they wanted him dead for daring to show himself and give people hope.
He stopped for a moment as he tried to get his breath back. He had been on the run for months now and he was getting close to the breaking point. Sooner or later, he would have to take a stand.
Bring it. He thought.
The Floating City of Attilan, Niagara Falls, Amerika
Three Days Later
“This will be attempt eleven.” Maximus spoke aloud in his laboratory.
The question of the female was proving harder to answers than he had expected. She would not speak, and he had not been able to bring her phase into a solid state. The equipment said she was a mutant, likely had been one of the X-Men before the fall. How she had gotten into the bullet, he desperately wanted to know. But though he could move her around with the collar, his torture devices were proving inadequate, and his powers were not having any effect.
Records said that direct exposure to the Terrigen Crystals had yielded surprising results on a mutant before the Silent War, the one they called Quicksilver. Maximus’ more basic experiments on the phased one had proven inadequate, so he would now try something fittingly mad. The restraining collar held the subject to a table, while a mechanical arm slowly lowered a Crystal down. He had attempted to sync the phases of the crystal and the subject, which was a difficult endeavor. Maximus controlled the arm from behinds a glass wall: experiments could get messy, after all.
At first, contact yielded no results. Then, suddenly, there was a flash of light as feedback rocked the lab. There was the sound of metal bending, and then tearing, and the rushing sound of air. When Maximus opened his eyes, the lab was empty of all subjects, and a hole had been torn in the floor. He roared in his mind, and all the Inhumans felt pain. He would have the subject returned to him. The Seekers would return to him his prize.
Kitty Pryde had not felt so much in a long time. Unfortunately for her, what she felt was pain. A tiny fragment of the Terrigen Crystal had been embedded in her chest, and she felt the mists race through her. Her powers, in response to the exposure, were going haywire. Far as she could tell, she had fallen because her powers had momentarily reverse themselves, making her incredibly dense, too heavy for the floors to handle. Her phase state fluctuated uncontrollably as she dragged herself out of the river.
She felt around on her chest and dug the crystal out of her skin, casting it aside, before collapsing on the river bank. The Terrigenesis had not only jump started Kitty’s powers, but also her long-dull mind. After a brief moment, she got to her feet and began to walk away at as steady a pace as she could manage. No doubt her would-be captors would be after her soon enough. With luck, she’d find her way to help before too long.
The X-Men could not be far away, or maybe the Avengers. Earth, it felt like it had been forever since she had been here. Niagara Falls was hardly remote, it was a city of its own. She could get to safety, no doubt. Terrigen burned in her veins as she scaled the cliffs, burning itself out. Kitty finally reached the top, and spying the silhouettes of buildings in front of her, began to run. As she neared the city, she slowed, and then stopped, as she saw the banners hanging from the buildings.
“No.” Kitty said, whispering to herself.
Swastikas, emblazoned on bright right fabric, fluttered in the breeze. “ALL HAIL THE REICH ETERNAL”, plastered on billboards in alternating English and German. The Red Skull posing proudly in the background. When she had been trapped in the bullet, she had often thought that perhaps it had been a terrible dream, and that she would one day wake up from it. Now she was awake, and found herself in a even more horrible nightmare. This was not the home she had longed to return to.
Kitty heard sirens in the distance, but not the police sirens she was familiar with. This was a distinct sound, haunting. She turned around and ran, before anybody even saw her. The terrigen was almost entirely out of her system. She ran across the countryside, phasing through trees and bushes. Kitty comforted herself with the knowledge that there could not possibly be any news more horrible than the Red Skull’s ascendency waiting for her.
She was wrong, of course.
Somewhere In California
"My Lord. We have found the Mutant that escaped from the Red Skull. It appears that he managed to flee to Nevada. Based on our spy network it appears that he's somewhere near Las Vegas."
At the center of the small city that Lord Steel was using as his/her base of operations, A figure wrapped in shadows looked over the monitors that were currently tracking SlipStream. He looked exhausted and he looked as though he had been badly beaten recently.
"Excellent. Are there any others currently tracking his location?" Steel asked in a calm, cold voice. One of the captains looked over as a report from one of the many spies that Steel possessed came in.
"It appears that the one who killed the kingpin and took his territory..."Spider-Girl" has also managed to track his location and is sending her forces to capture him. At least three meta humans are with the oncoming force."
"She cannot be allowed to capture him. Inform two of my Lieutenants to suit up and prepare my armor. I expect all weapons to be fully charged."
"Yes My Lord." The man looked back at his screen but then turned to watch as Lord Steel walked away towards the room that held her personalized armor. He looked back at the Hero and shook his head.
She is going to make sure she gets every secret he holds. She won't let up until he either gives up everything or he dies. May whatever he believes in save him.
Outskirts of Las Vegas
"I...want to thank you. Thanks to you I feel like I can finally make a difference and I can finally help those who need help."
Beta Ray Bill glanced over at Amy, whom he'd been observing from askance as he worked on the finishing touches to her house. Since Bill had been with her, he'd had no room of his own, and the little dwelling in which she'd both made and lived was barely enough for the young girl, let alone the relatively colossal stature of Beta Ray.
It'd started with an expansion to her home that they'd worked on together; a place for himself - and although he needed little sleep due to his cybernetic nature, he still needed privacy. As her teaching and training progressed, he found himself moving on to improving the rest of her home, until the construction of a better dwelling for the young woman became a personal hobby for Beta Ray Bill, and with little need for sleep, he found himself with plenty of time to do so.
He hammered one last nail in before stepping back and observing his work.
They were outside the house, and the outside alone was a testament to the time and effort he'd put in to the dwelling, as it was nothing like it was before - it was a house, not a hovel; well made, sturdy, and much bigger!
Amy smiled at Bill as he turned to her. "I owe you big time."
The Korbinite cocked his head to the side a bit, but returned the smile all the same. "'Oath Sister'.....Amy. No thanks are needed, no debt is owed by you. I made a promise, a solemn oath. And the debt.......The debt was mine to pay....It still is," Beta Ray Bill said in a stern but reverent voice. One could tell that his failure at coming to aid Thor in his greatest time of need still weighed heavily on him.
Beta Ray followed Amy's gaze, resting his own on Sol as it shied away over the the distant landscape.
"Where are we going to go first?" She asked.
Bill pondered this for a moment. he desired nothing more than to begin laying waste to all who held a seat of power in this world, knowing most if not all, were villains and scum, deserving nothing less than to be dethroned, but, the Korbinite knew better. Time and experience told him that discretion served their situation best right now.
"We start where we stand," he stated as he looked back to her, placing a large hand on her shoulder. "Long silent strides, before loud thunderous leaps. Our efforts must start small dear Amy, or we will do nothing but become icons and martyrs."
Beta Ray Bill lifted 'Stormbreaker' and pointed it out towards the distant city of Las Vegas, his gaze resting on the same.
"Understand?" He asked as he lowered the mighty weapon and looked back into Amy's gaze.
"'Oath Sister'.....Amy. No thanks are needed, no debt is owed by you. I made a promise, a solemn oath. And the debt.......The debt was mine to pay....It still is,"
Amy bowed her head. "Non the less. I still owe you my thanks. Without you, I would have most likely have been found and killed by now." She said as she turned to look at the house Beta Ray had built.
"I...Wow. It looks great Bill." She said with a large smile. "I don't know what to say."
"We start where we stand, "Long silent strides, before loud thunderous leaps. Our efforts must start small dear Amy, or we will do nothing but become icons and martyrs."
"Yes." Amy said simply.
Amy looked out at Las Vegas. She had listened to rumors and although a few of them may have been out of date they may still prove useful. "It's been renamed Hammer Falls. In fact, it's where I was living when I came across Mjolnir."
She turned to look at Bill. "It's where Thor made his final stand. People used to pray at the hammer for the heroes to return and to fight for them once again." Her eyes somberly turned to the ground. "When I took the hammer...people were so excited and hopeful. I feel like I let them down by not fighting for them."
Her eyes once again returned to Hammer Falls. "I intend to fix that. I intend to give people hope once again."
She turned to Beta Ray Bill. "From what I hear, Hammer Falls was under the Kingpin until he was killed by Spider-Girl. Now that she has control of the Kingpin's territory she's become an even worse threat than the Kingpin. I've heard rumors that another villain has been trying to wrestle her territory from her."
Ruins of Haeju, Sinister Empire
As the rebels reached the outskirts of Haeju, they stopped to rest, and Mia was thankful for it. Their ambushers had given up the chase hours ago, far as they could tell. ChoA’s perceptiveness would have alerted them to even the best camouflaged soldier. There was no cover to hide in like there had been in the port. Despite that, they had not let up the pace as they marched through the desert. It would have been a hard trip in proper desert clothing at a measured pace, but marching through in hazmat suits had proven torturous.
The walls of the city loomed high above them, still standing despite the heavy damage they had sustained years ago. The city had been transformed into an Akkaba Citadel long ago. Luckily, the walls cast a shadow, and they were all grateful to get out from under the sun. Mia sunk to the ground, sitting next to Kurtis and his squad. She wanted to removed her suit and cool off, but the radiation levels had only increased as they approached the city. That had not come as a surprise, given that the city had been the site of Genocide’s death.
“Who was this Genocide guy again?” Mia asked Kurtis.
“He was Apocalypse’s kid, a living nuclear reactor.” Kurtis said. “There’s a bunch of different stories ‘bout how he kicked it. Important thing is that he did, and he did it here. Haeju was War’s city. If there’s any weapons out there, they’d be here.”
“We’ve rested enough,” Woojin said. “Let’s move on in. I want a good survey of this place done before the sun goes down.”
Mia stood up, stretching and looking at the wall for weak points. She slipped through a gap, Kurtis and the others following. She found herself in a rubble-strewn square, with the ruins of Haeju clearly in sight. Mia was certain that the city must have once been rather grand, once, but Haeju had not been preserved like the nearby port. It was a broken, ruined city, covered with soot and sand. In its own way, it was impressive, but Mia and the rebels were not there to be tourists gawking at artifacts of a bygone era.
Kurtis and Mia walked at the head of the squad, heading up the main street to the central building of the city. They had been charged with finding a way inside, a task for which Mia had volunteered. Kurtis, never one to flee from risk, decided to accompany her with his squad. The Akkaba city planners had evidently not been one for subtlety, as the building towered over the rest of the city. They ascended the large stairs that led to the building, stopping as they reached the large entrance.
“What now?” One of Kurtis’ squad, Taewoo, spoke up. “We can’t just knock on the front door.”
“Why not?” Mia said. She raised her hand, and let off a blast of channeled energy. The door clattered down with much clamor.
“Knock knock.” Kurtis said with a grin, and started walking inside. Mia followed.
“If there’s cannibal mutants living in there, I’m blaming you too when we get eaten alive.”
Mia was not surprised to find the inside of the building as filled with debris as the streets had been. Part of the building had collapsed in on itself, limiting their paths forwards. All the hallways, save one, were filled with wreckage. Meanwhile, a gaping chasm awaited directly ahead of them. The fallen ceiling seemed to provide them with a slope they could use to access the lower levels quickly. Mia looked at a knowing Kurtis, who nodded.
Carefully, Mia began to climb down into the chasm. Luckily for her, the wreckage proved fairly stabile. She descended a few levels, each appearing rather identical to the others. She shouted to Kurtis, who led his squad down after her. It was dark in the below, so flashlights were needed. They found themselves in what appeared to be some sort of trophy room. Statues of War, the Horseman of Apocalypse, were interspersed with broken pieces of equipment and torn costumes.
The trophy room exited into a long, narrow hallway. Mia found that heading left led her only to a blast door, so she and Kurtis proceeded right. There was the occasional side-room to distract them, but none held anything to keep them for long. A few sets of stairs took them even lower underground. Eventually, they found themselves in a large, dark, empty room, what seemed to be a dead-end. The room was long enough that shining their flashlights directly forward did not immediately illuminate the opposite wall. After about fifty paces, they were able to behold the wall, which was not a wall at all, but seemed to be the door for a massive safe.
“Get Woojin,” Mia said, assuming one of Kurtis’ squad would follow the order. “He’ll want to see this.”
Once news of the vault had gotten out, all the rebel squads converged on the central building. They were all relieved that something had been found; friends had died that day, and the discovery meant that their deaths had been for something. Debris was refashioned into makeshift furniture, with flashlights left on top to provide lighting. Mia paced back and forth as Kurtis worked on the locking mechanism under Woojin’s personal supervision. Despite the size of the door, the lock seemed to be a simple matter, or so he insisted.
“Assuming this’s the only door, its looking like War was counting on the city’s defenses to keep this thing shut,” Kurtis said. “The first lock would be open already if this electronic stuff weren’t broke.”
“Can you fix it?” Woojin asked.
“Nope. But I can mess with the wires and skip it all.”
After a few months, Mia turned her head at the sound of a large thunk from the door as the first of three locks opened. Kurtis celebrated quietly, and began to work on the next lock. An obnoxious buzzing noise came to her ears, and she looked up just in time to see a series of lights flicker on. The light was dim and blue, and she did not have to shield her eyes. Mia and the others raised their weapons and surveyed the room.
Mia did not see where the first security mech came from, but soon they began filling the room. They dropped from the ceiling and came from holes in the walls. Some of them were old and rusty, and so easily dispatched. Others were fully operational and proved much tougher to take down. The rebels crowded around Kurtis in the corner, defending him as he continued to unlock the vault door. Mia grimaced, letting loose a blast of energy. She wasn’t sure how much longer they could hold this position.
Schultz’s face retained his slight grin as his men piled the last of the rebel bodies together. The pile was doused with gasoline taken from the rebel’s own supplies. His sturmgruppen had sustained a handful of casualties, but the rebels many more. At the bottom of the pile was their Abomination, who had proven too heavy to move. They had taken a photograph with the corpse, like a proud hunter did with his prey. Taking a matchbox from his pocket, Schultz approached the pile. He struck a match and dropped it casually, turning his back as the corpses went up in flames.
“Herr Oberscharfurher!” Ullrich Becker approached him, saluting. “Will you be readying your report for the Bureau today?”
“Of course. I pride myself on punctuality, Becker.” Schultz said. “Our long-range communication capabilities are limited. Who is the nearest Bureau contact in the peninsula?”
“HYDRA database says that Operative Curtiss Bentley is currently housed in Paju.”
“Paju? Must be hunting someone, then.” Schultz said. In his experience, Bureau agents rarely left the major cities except when they were chasing fugitives. “Be sure to send our surveillance footage along with my report. Perhaps he will find it of interest.”
“As you wish, Herr Schultz.”
“Hurry up with that last lock!” Mia said, crouching down behind a pile of fallen security droids.
“Shouting. Does. Not. Help!” Kurtis concentrated on the wiring, speaking slowly.
The assault had continued unabated for some time now. They had felled enough mechs to erect a barrier with their scraps, but Kurtis’ squad was beginning to run low on ammunition. The tide of robotic reinforcements was slowing, but they were expending ammunition at a faster rate than they could sustain. Woojin and Mia were the only superhumans in the room, and neither of their power sets were suited to taking bullets. Her energy discharge could only take out so many droids before they’d overwhelm her.
The final lock opened with the same thunk sound that the others had. The door began to swing out, breaking down the edge of their barrier but sweeping into the crowd of mechs at the same time. Momentary relief for the rebels turned to despair as the vault door revealed what appeared to be some sort of raw energy barrier. Mia, however, grinned. She could sense the energy, and tried to draw it out to her. Feeling bold, she stood and spread her arms, one towards the barrier, and another towards the crowd of droids.
“Get down!” Mia said.
A second after she shouted, Mia began repurposing the barrier as a weapon. The barrier was depleted as the security mechs were torn apart by the raw energy. The tide of the battle was turned, and soon Kurtis’ squad secured the room. They began venturing out into the hall, to see if the rest of the rebel force had need of assistance. Kurtis himself was enthusiastic, and gave Mia a strong hug. Woojin remained more serious.
“That was rather convenient. Not that I’m complaining.” He said. “Let’s hope this was all worth the trouble.”
When the matter of the droids was finally settled, a good deal of the rebels crowded in the vault chamber. The anticipation was palpable, and brought a sense of tension to the air. The vault had ultimately been what they had hoped to find in the first place, and many had died to get them to it. Woojin cautiously entered the vault, flanked by Mia, ChoA and Kurtis. The inside was large and spacious, lit by the same dim blue light. They found themselves on a bridge of sorts, leading to a platform in the center of the room.
The platform had a container on it, and as they approached it opened automatically, lifting the contents up. Displayed on a metal stand was a tear-drop shaped object, with dimly glowing orange spots along it. Mia could see surprise on ChoA’s face as she saw it. Woojin stepped up to it, and reached out a hand, but was hesitant to touch it. Mia turned to Kurtis, who seemed as confused as she was herself.
“Is that all there is?” Mia said. “What even is that?”
“That,” ChoA said, timidly. “is a War Seed.”
"From what I hear, Hammer Falls was under the Kingpin until he was killed by Spider-Girl. Now that she has control of the Kingpin's territory she's become an even worse threat than the Kingpin. I've heard rumors that another villain has been trying to wrestle her territory from her."
Beta Ray Bill twitched at the mention of a 'Spider-Girl', for he knew the barer of the original title of Spiderman, and in the past had fought alongside him, if only briefly.
Bill was no stranger to the events that had occurred on Earth, now. His time spent mentoring Amy had allowed him to learn from many sources of what had lead up to, as well as, the current affairs of this world. From large gatherings of data hashed together by 'Scuttlebutt', from the most remedial - to the most secure networks (those that still worked or even existed anymore), as well as stories and knowledge from Amy herself; to wandering around the nearby towns and villages as his alternate human form: Simon Walters - allowed him by 'Stormbreaker' - gathering information and rumors as best he could without drawing attention.
Beta Ray grasped his long face in his hand, pondering this news.
"A war....? Yes. That would be the best course. Would it not...." He muttered, though it was still audible enough to be heard. He turned his attention back to Amy.
"With the chaos of two warlords vying for territory our actions will be less noticeable. We'll start there, 'Oath Sister', disrupting them both where we can, yet, ultimately we will focus on the weaker of the two."
Beta Ray Bill straightened himself, slipping his grip from the handle of his great hammer to the strap below, allowing 'Stormbreaker' to dangle in his grasp.
"And night is best for flying, unnoticed." He said rather ominously as the sun finally set, the last light of day slipping away, darkness finally reigning in. Looking down at Amy both stoic and stern.
"With the chaos of two warlords vying for territory our actions will be less noticeable. We'll start there, 'Oath Sister', disrupting them both where we can, yet, ultimately we will focus on the weaker of the two."
"In that case, we should most likely focus on Spider-Girl. This Warlord she's been fighting has unknown forces. Although there have been rumors whoever it is has been using technology similar to the Iron Man suits that Tony Stark used to use."
She looked up at Beta-Ray's stern face and nodded as she held Mjolnir with one hand and the other hand pointed towards the city. "Always." She said as she slowly began to rise into the air and she looked down at Beta Ray.
"Be careful. I have a feeling that Spider-Girl has eyes everywhere."
Twelve miles outside of Hammer Falls
SlipStream was forced to dodge left and right as he continued to run across the landscape as the two mechanical suits that had been following him for the past few miles shot repulsor beams directly in front of him in an attempt to stop him or kill him. He had a feeling that whoever was in control of these suits didn't care much either way.
"I have a feeling that you guys aren't going to let up until either I die or you die!" He called over his shoulder as he continued to run. On the outside it looked as if he was still fine but in reality he was struggling to keep going.
He was exhausted and he couldn't seem to lose these two.
"Missile lock established." A cold mechanical voice spoke from behind him.
Missiles. That's not good.
SlipStream could hear the sound of a most likely explosive object closing in from behind him and he knew that he was going to have to get creative to avoid it.
Lets see here...what options do I have to work with? Cliffs to the North and West, Hammer Falls to the East, and a trail that anyone can follow to the south.
Wait a second...the Cliff!
Slipstream knew that he wouldn't get a second chance at this since he was nearly out of energy. But it was worth a shot.
Just as he was about to run into the cliff he jumped and threw himself legs first at the rock face and used what little energy he had left and the momentum he had gained to launch himself away from the wall of rock and let a small grin appear on his face as he heard the sound of an explosion behind him accompanied by the sound of the suits slamming into the cliff.
He took the opportunity to bolt once again and shot off towards the East. He knew that Hammer Falls wasn't exactly the...well, it was the worst possible place to go but he didn't have much of a choice anymore.
And who knew? Maybe he could find someplace to stop for a bit and rebuild his strength.
Paju hadn't changed much since Curtiss' last assignment. That mission, as well, had been a direct perogative from the Bureau Direktor.
As another sign of goodwill, the dignitaries of the Sinister Empire had opened up a direct channel for members of the Bureau to eradicate dissenting superhumans, opening up a permanent bridge between the Reich Eternal and its Asian neighbors.
Curtiss was the first company man to place his polished shoes upon the Paju tarmac, a day which had left his jet-black, well-tailored suit coated in dust and grime. By the time Curtiss had managed to leave later that week, 23 superhumans hung from the lamp posts and balconies of the Sinister Elite's domiciles. His suit, however, had remained unchanged.
Curtiss remembered that the filthy, sheenless view of dirt and blood upon his expensive shoes was oddly similar to the mess in Paju, the mess that was also on his gloved hands. The mess that would only keep getting messier.
The type of messy that no hand wash or disinfectant could clean.
Curtiss' mind shot back to the present with the distinct triple-beat tone of his personal communication device. He quickly unclipped it from his belt as he stepped from the vehicle dropping off his gear at the Paju safehouse. The communique emblazoned itself in bright green light on a nearby wall.
Von der Hande des Feldkommander Shultz:
Our mission parameters cannot be shared at this time, but we have encountered a small group of rebels who fit the description of a dossier sent to us prior to our current engagement. Please view the following footage.
This message's digital footprint will erase itself upon your closing of this message.
Curtiss wasted no time as he accessed the surveillance files. The screen presented a darkened setting, broken occasionally by the flash of gunfire and other equipment. He managed to catch a glimpse of several of the rebels as they made their escape from the Sturmtruppen squad. A brief second was just enough for Curtiss' active mind to do its work.
There she is, he thought, Mia Ko is far closer than even the Bureau had suspected.
Old memories of bodies swaying in the wind broke his concentration and Curtiss accidentally closed the communique, inadvertantly deleting the footage and information. He visibly shuddered.
Let's not make this any longer than it needs to be.
The money would be waiting for him when he brought her in. For a while, maybe he could forget the putrid waste that each of these missions left on his personal memories.
Curtiss refocused his mind, grabbed his bailout bag and got back into the vehicle. Utilizing his personal driving skill and knowledge of the backroads, Curtiss knew he could make it to the Haeju ruins in short order.
Time meant everything in these types of breaks.
((You do realize this RP has been dead for over a year now, right?))
Ruins of Haeju, Sinister Empire
ChoA made her rounds of the city walls as the rebels regrouped inside Haeju. While she could not deny that her abilities made her the inarguable best choice for the job, she still resented the assignment somewhat. She did not have the temperament for the job. Regardless, they did not think that the assailants they had faced at the port were likely to have given up the chase entirely. If they wanted to survive another encounter, they could not be left unawares. ChoA looked towards the distance, back towards the port. Here eyes widened in surprise as she perceived a battle taking place. The battle was between the new, unfamiliar enemy, and the most familiar of enemies.
Symphony Hall, Sinister Seoul
High Majesty Sinister sat in the place of honor, high on a balcony, as the Sinister Symphony played for a full crowd. Beside him sat the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and of the Interior. Only Sinisters were in the crowd, of course, the crowd becoming a pattern of ashen grey skin and fine black suits. The lower minister, McDowell, was brought in by a pair of escorts. Sinister did not look at him, but instead continued to look down at the performers. McDowell was visibly nervous, sweating profusely.
“I’m quite angry, you should know.” Sinister said. “My attendant asked if that meant I wanted to cancel the performance. I thought I made him to know better. Anger does not rob me of taste.”
“Angry, your majesty?”
“My Squadron Sinister discovered a Reich force within my territory. A heavily armed, elite black ops unit. Completely unauthorized.”
“I swear, I didn’t-”
“I know you didn’t know.” Sinister tapped the side of his head. “Telepathy. Your mind is an open book. And you know what I think of it?”
Before McDowell could say anything more, his escort set upon him, beating him to the ground with the butts of their rifles. High Majesty Sinister spoke now to his Ministers.
“All people like him to be eliminated from the Empire. The Reich has tested our sovereignty for the last time. The Bureau too. No more associating with neanderthals.” He spoke calmly. “No more humans.”
Three Months Later
Ruins of Haeju, Sinister Empire
A caravan of hazmat-wearing men approached the walls at the dead of midnight. A group of three came from inside, weapons ready. Once the identities of everyone were ascertained, they were escorted inside. They were lead past a large pit, down the remaining unblocked hall. An empty chamber awaited them. An elevator. One of the three escorts pressed some buttons and began the descent. After a few minutes, a light turned blue. The elevator operator removed her headgear.
"Is that safe?" One of the new arrivals spoke, voice audibly skeptical.
"Absolutely" ChoA replied. "The Undercity of Haeju was like a giant bomb shelter. Completely protected from the radiation above."
"You'd think there'd be Akkaba remnants in it."
"This was the Horseman of War's residence. He didn't much believe in non-combatants. When he went to battle with Sinister, he brought everyone with him." ChoA continued. "Which does mean there wasn't much in the way of weapons left behind. But this place is relatively self-sustaining."
"I suppose that explains how you've been able to taken in so many refugees."
"Sinister cutting ties with the rest of the world was a mixed blessing. It took the pressure off of us directly, but with the slums being purged, people need us more than ever." ChoA's voice was noticeably agitated. "We've been here for three months. Three months we've stayed put. Driving me crazy."
"I thought you found a weapon here?"
"Its a little more complicated than that. What's your name?"
"What the hell is a Boris doing here?"
"The Sinister Empire took half of Russia, remember."
"History isn't my strong suit." The elevator slowed to a stop, and the doors opened. "Well, Boris, here we are. Welcome to the heart of the rebellion."
New Babylon, Reich Eternal, The American Reichschancellery
"Would you care to repeat that, Herr Ribbentrop?"
Ambassador Hans Gerd Von Ribbentrop had a noticeable quiver to his lower lip, a single bead of sweat retreating down his forehead. Such perspiration could not be attributed to the weather, as the dark, gray-green marble that lined the FuhrersKabinett reflected only the cold, crisp air of both the lack of heat in the room as well as the efficiency of the activities performed inside it.
"Mein Furher..." stammered Ribbentrop.
The Red Skull stood across from Ribbentrop, seperated only by a titanium black desk with a rich mahognay wood in-lay, polished to a blinding sheen. Behind the Red Skull's hellish profile hung a large, room-sized curtain, a giant swastika emblazoned upon it, a single red skull centered inside the black spider. With the Red Skull's bust on the desk, an elegant portrait placed tastefully to the right of the large curtain, the centered skull, and the imposing figure of Red Skull himself staring him down, Ribbentrop felt insignificant in the face of all who surveyed. All of whom were, in fact, the Red Skull.
Ribbentrop struggled to finish his sentence.
"...The Sinister Empire has sealed off all communications, our men at the Embassy are being singled out and killed as each tries to leave the safe territory agreed upon in the Trade Agreement of Steel...we are utilizing the Luftwaffe to airlift them as we speak."
The Red Skull lifted a part of skin that would have belonged to an eyebrow had he any.
"The Mandarins have also begun to follow suite, threatening our Pacific Fleets...the Silver Shogunate, as always, has chided our efforts to expand into their territory. The Shogun's ambassadors, however, are largely staying on the reservation, fulfilling their trade and defense agreements."
The Red Skull's jaw loosened, his displeasure momentarily broken by what could best be described apathy, but to Ribbentrop, could also mean mercy.
"And why are my legions being denied their respect in the Far East, Herr Ribbentrop?"
The ambassador shifted his weight,"Mein Fuhrer...they...that is, the Sinister Squadrons caught whiff of a Reich team operating near Haeju. We've not heard anything since then, but we have reason to believe that they have successfully gone to ground to continue their mission..the one involving the tracking and capture of..."
The Red Skull waved a hand to stop Ribbentrop. Loose lips sink ships? That was true for the last strong American who tried to stand against the Reich Eternal. He lost far more than a few ships.
The Skull broke his expression, stating,"I knew your great grandfather, Herr Ribbentrop."
"Truly, Mein Fuhrer?"
The skull's nasal cavity wrinkled, a slight annoyance.
"Yes, I did. Good soldier during the Great War. Fought against the foolishness of Versailles. But all such leadership then was weak."
The Red Skull stalked around the table, his black boots clicking against the marble floor.
"You and your great grandfather are similar men."
The ominous Skull grabbed a small manila folder from his desk. It's print was warm and fresh, only recently made from the government offices below.
Ribbentrop beamed at the thought of being like his great grandfather, the man who acted as Adolf Hitler's voice in foreign relations.
"You are both foolish men. Both whom have left their leaders without proper intelligence and protection. What Untermensch would be so idiotic as to conduct covert operations over established channels?"
The feeling of pride deserted Ribbentrop. The fear returned.
The Red Skull moved swiftly and in a perfectly controlled rage, seizing Ribbentrop by his thick dirty, blond hair and smacking his head against the marble desk. If he'd used a fraction more of his immense strength, the ambassador's head would've popped like a melon.
"Examples must be made, Herr Ribbentrop, be thankful that I desire you to learn from your mistakes."
The man struggled upward, holding his bruised and bleeding skull as if he felt his brains would pour out.
"Thank you, Mein Fuhrer..."
Ribbentrop gave a half salute and turned on his heel to leave. A gloved hand grabbed his shoulder.
"Oh, and Ribbentrop...deliver this final message to Sinister. I hear he likes music."
Red Skull handed him the manila folder, little blood droplets coating its outside, giving it a more dramatic flair.
"Jawohl, Mein Fuhrer."
Ribbentrop hastily marched from the room, hearing the Red Skull say, with a sense of finality, "Two gods standing against each other in conflict always makes me think of Wagner."
The Red Skull exhaled loudly.
"Goetterdammerung may be upon him."
Three Months Later
"3 days, no contact."
Schultz lowered his enhanced binoculars, his breath turning to white clouds in the early morning air.
"The Reichsmarshall doesn't want to make the same mistake, Becker."
The SS soldier deactivated his communication advice, returning to complete radio silence. Schultz sat back down in the makeshift camoflage shelter the team had constructed.
"We'll cross the border back into Sinister territory again. We must complete our objective."
Becker nodded,"With our shields or on them, as they say."
Schultz grunted an affirmative and looked at the well-worn dossier he'd just taken from his pack. The picture of their target was emblazoned on the first page.
"Mia Ko cannot hide for long."
Curtiss had firsthand experience with purge, but genocide was an entirely different matter. After leaving his quarters in Paju, he'd witnessed what he guessed was a complete failure of international policy. Human denizens who had found themselves under the thrall of the Sinister yoke were fleeing from the cities en masse. Communication had been cut off for the most part, rendering the communiques with the Central Bureau impossible.
For once in his life, Curtiss had no idea what was truly happening. But he knew that whatever it was, it would shift world power once again. Those seemed far too common now.
Because of the crowds, the military actions, the general chaos of the change, it had taken him far longer to reach Haeju than he had intended. He had only been in the area for 15 days, scavenging and trading for supplies with old Bureau merchant contacts who were seeking access outside of the Sinister Empire. Having worked with the Eternal Reich, deportations and executions were normal occurrences, but this level of displacement was ambitious.
Prior to his field days and the discovery of his ability to perfectly empathize with targets, Curtiss had worked for the Bureau's Strategic Analysis Branch. He ran numbers on populations, crafted threat categories, and performed a triage affiliation of sorts within certain nations. It largely pertained to superhumans, but he also differentiated the Sinister Human population vs. the Sinister population....if their reports would be accurate, many many millions of persons were now refugees from a superior number of armed Sinister denizens.
And Mia Ko was smack dab in the middle of it.
He'd been gauging the ruins from a distance for days and interrogated a few refugees as they fled for the underground bunker beneath the city. The rebels were active, granting safety to many folks, but that also made them clear targets. Haeju's population was growing rapidly, it wouldn't be long before Sinister squadrons would put an end to this Humanitarian effort.
As well as ending the chances for bringing a live bounty to the Bureau's coffers.
Curtiss jumped down from his hiding place, an Akkaba spire half-burned, and walked quickly to join step with a small caravan of human refugees walking straight into Akkaba bunker.
The Rebels were far too trusting.
Why not walk right in? He thought.
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