July writing competition (Winners Announced!)



A great opportunity for writers to showcase their talent.

Moderators: Feral Female, Miles_Warren, Feral Female, Miles_Warren

July writing competition (Winners Announced!)

Miles_Warren
Eternal
Joined: 24 Feb 2013, 00:05

03 Jul 2015, 15:49 #1

Welcome to the July writing competition :guitar: Please read the rules before entering

http://z3.invisionfree.com/Mickeys_Comi ... opic=11460

Some important info for this month:

1) Entrants have until July 27th 4pm EST to submit an entry for the competition

2) Voting will then open for entrants before closing on July 29th 4pm EST

3) Voting for non-entrants will then open before closing on July 30th 4pm EST

Best of luck to all entrants

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Joined: 03 Oct 2013, 20:56

03 Jul 2015, 17:56 #2

The winner tally, so far:

November 2013 Winners
Invincible - Issue#28 - Anger Management by Feral Female (1st win)
Violet Avenger Annual #1 – Push by darktruth (1st win)

Decemberber 2013 Winners
Bumblebee Man (part 1) by Miles_Warren (1st win)
2013 Holiday Special by Mister_Oz (1st win)

January 2014 Winners
Song of Selwyn. Capter 1 - secret love by darktruth (2nd win)

February 2014 Winners
Marvel SW: Arsenal, Chapter 3 by Big Thunder (1st win)
Song of Selwyn-Chapter II-A Ranger Falls by darktruth (3rd win)

March 2014 Winners
Heavy Metal- issue #3- Welcome to the Jungle by Feral Female (2nd win)

April 2014 Winners
Hail HYDRA by darktruth (4th win)

May 2014 Winners
Outstanding Avengers by xMatt (1st win)

June 2014 Winners
Marvel Star Wars: Hulk, Chapter Four by Big Thunder (2nd win)
The Outstanding Avengers #43 by xMatt (2nd win)

July 2014 Winners
The Outstanding Avengers: Part Three by xMatt (3rd win)

August 2014 Winners
Heavy Metal #7 – Haunted – Feral Female (3rd win)

September 2014 Winners
Marvel Star Wars: Chapter Twenty-Nine by Big Thunder (3rd win)

October 2014 Winners
The Balance of Power Chapter Five: Discoveries by GreenScar1990 (1st win)
Heavy Metal - Issue #9 – Haunted by Feral Female (4th win)

November 2014 Winners
Balance of Power - Chapter Six - the Bonds that are Formed by GreenScar1990 (2nd win)
Marvel Star Wars: Arsenal - Chapter Seven by Big Thunder (4th win)

December 2014 Winners
The Balance of Power -Chapter Seven: Emotions and Revelations by GreenScar1990 (3rd win)

January 2015 Winners
Heavy Metal - Issue #11 – Haunted by Feral Female (5th win)
Ant-Man? by Ewkada (1st win)
Ultimate Flash #1 - A New Kind of Enemy - Part One of Two: "Red and Blue" by xMatt (4th win)

February 2015 Winners
Heavy Metal - Issue #12 – Haunted by Feral Female (6th win)

March 2015 Winners
The Clowns Come at Midnight by Miles Warren (2nd win)

April 2015 Winners
Outstanding Spider-Man: Chapter 5 - Your Friendly Neighbourhood Spider-Man Part 1 - My Long Day - In the Morning by silverspidey4ever (1st win)

May 2015 Winners
Marvel Star Wars: Guardians of the Galaxy, Chapter One by Big Thunder (5th win)

June 2015 Winners
Untitled Thor story - Ewkada (2nd win)
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Joined: 27 Nov 2007, 17:07

10 Jul 2015, 09:50 #3

I'm in between books so hopefully I can crank out an issue of Metal for the comp. this month over the weekend!
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ewkada
Inhuman
Joined: 21 Dec 2013, 01:44

12 Jul 2015, 20:43 #4

[desert]





:cry:





:smileydrunk:
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Miles_Warren
Eternal
Joined: 24 Feb 2013, 00:05

13 Jul 2015, 12:34 #5

It is a bit empty this month. I am assuming everybody is writing their stories ewkada ;)
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MsMarvelDuckie
Inhuman
Joined: 28 Nov 2007, 20:55

13 Jul 2015, 19:13 #6

I'm going to enter, just haven't gotten around to it yet.
"Well, this is another fine myth you've gotten us into..."
-from "Myth Directions"

"Where Science ends, magic begins." -Spiral, Uncanny X-Men #491
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Joined: 27 Nov 2007, 17:07

14 Jul 2015, 10:29 #7

Heavy Metal - Issue # 16 - Caught Somewhere in Time (Iron Maiden)

In the last chapter, Alex's curiosity got the better of him (a typical Stark flaw) and he ended up transported back in time. Despite his best efforts to avoid contact, he was accidentally bumped up by his grandfather`s car and taken to Howard's penthouse to rest until his parents could be notified.

I own nothing that isn`t mine.

*~*~*

My grandfather has great taste in homes. I mean it. It is a trait that my dad must have inherited because my father also owns some pretty spanking properties. Me? I look at a place, see it has four walls, a ceiling and a floor and call it good for habitation. Maybe this need to spend boo-koo bucks on a house comes with age or massive cash influx, of which I have little. I walked into a bedroom that looked like it should be part of Buckingham Palace, my backpack clutched to my chest and Jarvis on my heels.

"Wow," I whispered as the opulence of the room sank in. Rich carpeting, thick drapes, and antique furniture filled the spacious area. Oils that I knew were worth millions hung on the paneled walls. A painting that looked exactly like a Van Gogh that my father had in his den hung over a delicate side table that held a vase filled with fresh cut flowers.

"Indeed. Master Stark wishes you to rest while we search for your parents," Jarvis said, his voice amazingly familiar and yet not, if that makes sense. Here, standing in my grandfather's guest room, Jarvis was a man in his prime and his voice sounded it. The Jarvis that I knew, the one who had played with me and taught me which fork to use and how to bow when introduced to royalty, sounded old. He was old. Hell, the man must be pushing 100 and still insisted on running our house on Park Avenue, despite the fact that he forgot where he left his feather duster or didn`t have the strength to open windows to freshen up a room anymore.

"Right. Yep. Rest is on my agenda." I turned, backpack still held to my chest, and smiled at Jarvis. He accessed me with cool interest, one eyebrow gently arching, then he nodded and left, shutting the door behind him. I jogged to the window and threw aside a rich velvet drape of dark blue. Sure, I knew we were about forty stories up but hey, a dude has to check, right? There may have been a ledge wide enough for a Stark to make his escape. Sadly, the ledge was barely wide enough for the grey pigeon resting on it. My exhalation was large.

I spent several minutes checking out the suite and adjoining bathroom. Luxury abounded. I was bored spitless. Tossing my backpack to a padded chair beside the bed, I sat down on the edge of the mattress and turned on the radio. It was a huge wooden thing that hummed loudly until the tubes inside warmed up, or some such Mesozoic technological working.

"Oh man," I mumbled when a commercial for cigarettes ended. Some old show came on starring a dude named Edger Bergen who, it seemed, was a ventriloquist. I lay back on the bed, the mattress enveloping me, and tried to figure out how a ventriloquist had a successful radio show. How did we know if he was good or not since we couldn`t see if his lips were moving. "People in this day and age are so gullible," I snickered as hokey old humor filled the airwaves. My eyes dropped like lead weights. I never heard what Charlie McCarthy, Edger Bergen`s dummy, had to say after the next commercial.

I woke up a couple hours later judging by the position of the sun on the Van Gogh. Yawning widely I slowly sat up. A soft blanket slithered down my chest. I was no longer lying across the bed. Someone had removed my sneakers and positioned me with my head on the pillows. The radio was off. This kind of attention had Jarvis written all over it. I smiled as a memory of him reading to me on the nights that Mom and Dad were off doing their hero thing came to me. After a good stretch, I reached for my backpack to see if I could find any gum. My mouth was disgusting. All I found were my skater shoes on the chair by the radio. Where the hell was my backpack?!

I jumped up, kicked off the coverlet, shoved my feet into my shoes and jogged out into the hallway. The penthouse was quiet, I mean, so quiet it was eerie. Back home there is always at least one TV on somewhere in the house since my father needs to informed of everything all the time. The TV addiction drives my mother crazy. She's more of a book person. Either I'm playing music or my sister is, or was, since she no longer lives at home. Our house is rarely this quiet. I padded down the hall, stepping carefully, and began opening doors. This corridor was nothing but bedrooms; all done in differing colored themes. My room must have been the blue room.

When I reached the last door on the end, I paused with my hand over the knob for just a moment then I placed my ear to the door. I couldn`t hear anything on the other side. I so did not want to walk in on Howard entertaining some woman. The mental scars would linger forever. When I was sure things were kosher, I gently turned the knob.

"Are you lost, young man?" a feminine voice filled with British flavor asked. I spun around guiltily and looked at the woman. She wore her ash brown hair pulled over to the side and it fell to her shoulders. Her dress was dark blue with white stripes. Bright red lipstick and nail polish grabbed my attention, as did the legs that held her up. "If you would kindly direct your gaze up here?" My eyes flew from her calves to her face as heat raced up my neck. "Now, I'll ask again, are you lost?"

"No, I was just looking for my grand -- Howard. That grand man Howard, "I coughed as my face grew hotter and hotter."I need to go home now."

"Why don`t we let Howard be the judge of that. Walk this way," she said. I watched her hips for a moment as she walked away from me.

"Yeah, I could never walk that way," I mumbled then run to catch up to her. "I'm Alexander," I said as we hustled along. "Are you Mrs. Jarvis?"

"Goodness no," she laughed. It was a pleasant laugh. "My name is Peggy," she said then gave me a small smile. Wow. No wonder Steve Rogers had been so crazy over this woman. She was a beauty. She rapped on a door then entered when my grandfather called for her to come in.

"Well, look who`s up. I'd stand behind the protective barrier if I were you," Howard called. I gave the workshop a long look. It looked a great deal like my father`s shop without all the computer readouts and floating holographic tech designs. Tables littered with projects either being worked on or discarded were everywhere. Howard was wearing something that looked like a see-through welding helmet and an apron made of some sort of heavy-looking material. "I'm trying to work the kinks out of this new propulsion device."

Peggy grabbed my arm and yanked me behind a wall of glass. Howard smiled through his silly helmet then pushed a button on what appeared to be a shoe. I didn`t have time to ask. Grandpa`s super shoe exploded. Sparks and smoke filled the lab. Howard flew across the room.

"Howard!" Peggy shouted and ran over to him. I stumbled out from behind the barrier, coughing and tearing, and bent over to lift the super shoe from the floor of the shop. I could hear my grandfather telling Peggy that he was fine and that head wounds always bleed heavily. The shoe, which was a man`s dress shoe, was smoldering. Inside the heel my grandfather had put some sort of small device that had blown the heel clean off. I looked through the hole in the shoe at Howard, who was using Peggy to steady himself. His hair was on end and his face was covered with soot. His clear helmet was not on his head. A thin line of blood ran down the side of his face.

"Now that was progress!" Howard announced. Peggy rolled her eyes. Jarvis barreled into the lab with a first aid kit in his hand. He gave me a short look then went to gather my grandfather from Peggy. "I'm telling you kid, pretty soon mankind will have shoes that will lift them from the ground. Imagine flying to work every morning! Jarvis, stop tutting at me. You know I hate tutting. Hand me that shoe, boy. Nothing personal but can`t have that kind of advanced technology in any hand but a Stark hand."

I handed the smoking shoe over without saying a word.

"I was tsking, Sir. Peggy, would you be so kind as to take the young man down to the lobby for a bite of dinner? The meal I had planned is on hold until I can get Master Stark to stop bleeding all over the Berber."

"It would be my pleasure. Come along, Alexander. Let`s go get a hamburger and an ice cream soda." Peggy`s grip on my arm was firm.

"I was wondering if anyone knew where my backpack went," I said over my shoulder. Jarvis looked at me as Peggy led me from the shop. His lips flattened. I was about to pitch a bitch but Miss Carter pulled me from the lab. The woman was much stronger than she looked.

The lobby of the building, one that bore the Stark name, housed a diner. Peggy steered me into a booth then sat across from me. My stomach rumbled, announcing that the four-hour feeding had passed. My folks joke about how paying the tuition at Caltech costs less than feeding me does. What can I say; I'm just a growing boy.

"Sounds like we got here just in time," Peggy joked then waved at the waitress. The young woman rushed over with menus. "Would you like a Coke?"

"Thanks, yes," I replied then flipped open the menu to peruse the choices. I heard Peggy order hot tea. Pork chops and mashed potatoes sounded good but so did the fried chicken dinner.

"So, Alexander, is there a reason that Howard is having such difficulty finding your parents?"

I lifted my gaze and peeked at her over the menu. She had me locked down tightly in her sights. I swallowed and opened my mouth to feed her some sort of bull when gunshots peppered the diner. Peggy had reactionary times that would impress Pietro Maximoff. She grabbed my head and shoved it toward the table. I managed to block the blow to my forehead with my arm. People started screaming. Dishes shattered. Glass exploded. And my dinner date muttered something I would not have expected would ever tumble out of her proper British mouth.

"Bloody flecking hell," Peggy hissed. I lifted my head enough to see a rather large blood spot soaking through her pinstriped suit jacket. "Pardon me for that," she said through gritted teeth.

"I've heard worse." I slid under the table and tugged her down. She slithered to the floor, her face a mask of pain. "Is this somehow related to something secretive a certain someone with the last name of Stark and the first name of Howard may be working on?"

"Don`t be foolish," Peggy growled and tried to remove her arm from her jacket. She blanched. I helped get her arm free then rolled the jacket into a tight ball. "Who in their right mind would want their heel blown off? Silly boy, damn the knights this hurts."

"Give me your gun and I'll go shoot whoever is shooting at us." I held out my free hand. Her eyebrow kinked severely. A woman screamed from back in the kitchen. More bullets smacked into the walls.

"I don`t think so. What you need to do is-- Alexander!"

Someone wrenched me out from table. Peggy continued to scream my name. I rolled to my back, kicked out at the huge man who held onto my ankle. I managed to deliver a good shot to his knee. He took offense and dragged me to the door as if I were a bag of dirty socks. I heard Peggy firing off a couple of shots as I tried to drive my heel into the back of Mr. Big and Ugly`s kneecap. When one shot struck the doorjamb, my kidnapper yanked me out the door then threw me into the arms of someone who I couldn`t see.

The world went dark. I fought blindly to try to get the dirty hood off my head. My hands were tugged behind my back so hard I felt my left shoulder pop out of the socket. I never got the chance to yelp about that injury. A gun fired. A man shrieked in pain. I was shoved face first into the back of a vehicle then conked on the back of the head. The world flared bright white then started to dwindle to black.

If this cranial abuse continued, I'd be reading kindergarten primers instead of college textbooks next semester.

To Be Continued . . .
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Miles_Warren
Eternal
Joined: 24 Feb 2013, 00:05

14 Jul 2015, 16:59 #8

Fantastic entry Feral. [happy] Possibly one of my favourite Heavy Metal issues so far
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Joined: 26 Nov 2007, 16:50

14 Jul 2015, 18:50 #9

hmmm....i'll see if I can jump into this month too.
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MsMarvelDuckie
Inhuman
Joined: 28 Nov 2007, 20:55

15 Jul 2015, 04:53 #10

Here's my contribution for the month! A nice little one-shot (spoiler alert!) that is a mini-sequel to Love Is Shell, but this one is centered on Leo! It's short, sweet, and introduces a character who has been mentioned several times in the LIS universe thus far, but whom we've never (yet) met- Lotus Blossom.








Second Chances


He stepped onto the rooftop from the fire-escape silently, leaving the Tokyo city lights far below for the most part. She was here- he could already smell the fragrance of the flower that was her signature and namesake. She hadn’t sensed his approach; he felt a surge of smug satisfaction in knowing that even in his present form, he could still sneak up on anyone, even the world’s most skilled kunoichi. Technically, she was the world’s ONLY kunoichi, with their own currently side-lined by the limitations of carrying his baby brother’s children.

“You’re a hard woman to find, Lotus,” he said, breaking the silence of her vigil. She had been watching a hotel room window of the building across the street, and whirled toward the sound of his voice, drawing a tanto in one swift move.

“And who wishes to find me?” She asked warily, her long black hair swishing like a raven’s wing. “You court death by hunting me.”

He replied with a smile that was confident and filled with easy camaraderie. “I doubt that. Only a Master ninja can find another ninja. It’s funny that you mention courting, Lotus, because that’s why I’m here. If that means courting death, then that is something I will gladly do. I am Jonin now, by the way. Head of our clan. Our sensei stepped down as leader and handed it to me. I came here to ask if you would join us.”

“Who ARE you?” Her reply, simple, direct, was full of doubt; full of confusion. He studied her face, pale as porcelain, and as flawless. She was as beautiful and as deadly as the blade in her hand, her lithe body honed to perfection.

“Someone who would like to be your equal. The yin to your yang. Things are different now, Lotus. I can give you the things I couldn’t before. Unless you found them with someone else. If so, I apologize for bringing up past regrets.” He bowed and turned his back to her, standing still as he gazed out across the city. A stiff breeze blew the long black coat he wore, revealing a matched pair of katanas on his belt. She spied the blue wrapping upon the hilts, and gasped in astonishment. She knew those swords.

“Leonardo?” Her jade eyes widened in incredulity. He turned his head slightly toward her, and she caught the briefest hint- in the shape of his nose and jaw, the way he shifted his weight to one foot, his short, compact build- of what he had been. Kame. The neatly-combed, coppery brown hair tied in a short tail at his neck might mark him as human, but his eyes betrayed that lie.

“Yes. Surprised? We have Donatello to thank for this. It’s some of his best work. And Krang, too, I suppose. Donnie wouldn’t have been able to do this without his retro-mutagen formula to work with.” He sat on the parapet, patting a spot next to him in a gesture for her to join him.

Lotus replaced the blade in its sheath and sat beside him cautiously. If what he was saying was true, it would seem that his brother had found a way to turn him human, or nearly so. His eyes were still those of a terrapin. “This- is real?” Not merely an illusion?” She asked, still uncertain. Krang’s involvement made it more likely, yet…. “You are truly human?”

“For the next ten hours or so, yes. It’s not permanent- the effect wears off after twelve hours. Then I have to rest and recharge, as it were, before I can change again. And it shaves a few hours off my lifespan every time I shift, but it’s worth it.” She took that in, her sharp mind working over the situation, searching for the meaning of it all.

“We can do anything we want, now- as long as we remember to get out of sight before the change wears off. Mikey and Raph were the first to do it. You’ve probably even seen them on television and didn’t realize it. Mikey’s been setting records in the pro skateboarding world, and he even opened a restaurant with his first competition winnings. Raph went into MMA fighting. The audiences seem to love his bad-boy attitude. He eats it up.”

Lotus searched her memory, and realized he was right. She had indeed heard of two such individuals on the news. Though she didn’t take any interest in sports, she had heard the name Hamato mentioned in connection to not one, but two young athletes, whose names she had thought sounded oddly familiar.

“Why did you come here?” He had expected this question at some point; she trusted few, so of course she wondered about his motives. He knew she had been on her own- clan-less- for a very long time.

“You KNOW why. I want to start over. When you left New York, I felt- betrayed. There’s been an empty place inside of me ever since.” It wasn’t like him to be open about his emotions. Vulnerable. He was supposed to be the immovable one in the family. Firm, untouched by the world around him. A rock.

Yet he hid a heart as tender and caring in its own way as any of his brothers. Mikey, with his friendly, outgoing charm and zest for life- who wore his heart on his sleeve all too often. Raph, who hid his behind a gruff, cynical, and sarcastic veneer, a wall of toughness that only rarely ever showed a crack. Or Don, whose quiet, gentle spirit was like a calm, deep pool that rarely rippled, even in the midst of a storm. Now each of them had found happiness, and now their small family- clan, he corrected himself- had grown, and would soon be larger still. Three new clan-mates, each different, each bringing her own gifts and strengths to their lives.

“I’d like you to join us, Lotus. The offer still stands, if you want it. We’ve found a new way of living. Taken a new path.” He waited for her reply patiently, though inside, his heart hammered fearfully. If she declined, he would know it was over between them.

Lotus considered his words in silence. It was not her way to act or speak without first considering her options. She understood that this was his last offer. She had turned away from him once; if she did so a second time, he would not return. That thought bothered her more than it should. “Leonardo, you of all people should know that I cannot give up my career, my life as a kunoichi.”

He shook his head. “I’m not asking you to. Our clan is growing, but we could use your skill and experience. There is so much good we could accomplish together. You said once that I didn’t respect your career, but the truth is that I believe you could do so much more. So much better. A kunoichi lives by grace and charm as much as by deception and stealth. I’ve taken our mission of aiding those in need to the next level, by forming an operation of troubleshooters who fix problems that no one else can- but only if the cause is just. We also do security and protection, and even retrieval, if we think it’s worthy. You could be a valuable asset, Lotus. But only if you WANT it.”

She knew what he truly meant. Though it had been nearly three years since they had last spoken, he still wanted her. Leonardo would never openly admit it, but he had been deeply hurt by her leaving. He was, in his own way, asking her to give him a second chance. She glanced sideways at him through the curtain of her long jet hair; the man he appeared to be was taller than she remembered him, yet still compact and well-muscled. He had a round face, with deep coppery eyes, a nose that was slightly hawkish, and a wide jaw that narrowed sharply and jutted just a bit further than would be considered attractive, but it was a good face. A strong, noble face. His shoulders and back were wide, with a prominent ridge along the back of his neck, and she suspected that he was much heavier and more solid than he appeared. Subtle hints of his true nature.

“Should you not be leading your brothers? What will your father think of you leaving your duties to come here?” She asked bluntly. Surely his father and sensei would not have approved his choice in coming so far for a personal quest.

“Actually, coming here WAS my duty. Splinter requested a special task of me some time ago, to bring the ashes of his Master Yoshi here, since he could not. He died last month, so now I’m fulfilling my promise to him. And my brothers can get along without me for a few days. They all have their own lives and concerns now. Donnie handles all our finances and tech missions, Mikey keeps an ear on the rumor mill concerning anyone who needs help, and Raph steps in when we find troublemakers who don’t respect the dictates of the legal authorities. Stalkers, estranged spouses, or violent relatives, mostly. He makes sure they behave themselves. Other than that, most of the clients are handled directly by me or our kunoichi.”

“There ARE no other kunoichi,” Lotus corrected, shaking her head. “None have been so named by any Shinobi clan in many years. I have no clan, but I was trained by the masters of five clans, and none ever took another as student.”

“There is now,” Leonardo answered simply. “Splinter adopted a young woman into our clan. She only began her training about a year ago, before we lost Sensei. Her training is incomplete, but I’ve been attempting to continue it with the help of the Scrolls of Takahachi. And some instructions our father left behind, as well. But that’s why we need YOU. You could help with her instruction, and we could work together to strengthen our clan and its operations.”

She listened quietly, hearing not only the words, but their deeper meaning, as well. She understood what he was asking of her, and it was a prospect that was not entirely undesirable. Yet he had said nothing of his personal reasons for seeking her out. She had yet to hear him speak of his true feelings.

“You make very good arguments for your cause, Leo-chan,” she began, using the familiar nick-name that few in his small circle would ever dare to call him. Even his brothers rarely ever called him that anymore. “But you have not said why you are REALLY here. You have not spoken to me of what you truly desire. You have yet to speak the words I wish to hear. If I should choose to join your clan, you must tell me the truth.”

He sighed, and rose from the parapet, turning to stare out across the city as he struggled against his fears. As a ninja, he feared almost nothing. No danger was too great to face, no battle too perilous to fight. But this…. To speak of what was in his heart terrified him more than anything- even more than his little known fear of snakes, or of heights.

Time seemed to waver on the verge of standing still, not quite frozen, but waiting as if for his answer to tick on. The moment dragged by so slowly, but he knew he could not take too long, or she would simply leave, assuming he refused to answer. At last, he turned back to her, and swallowed nervously as he attempted to form the words.

“Lotus, I-” He began uncertainly, but the next words seemed caught in his throat, strangling him with their weight. “I’ve never been good with- feelings. My position always meant keeping them in check, keeping a clear head so I could make the hard choices that would keep us all alive. But beyond that, I just…. It’s hard to take that risk, putting myself out there in the open. Exposed. It’s against everything I’ve ever been taught. I always believed that to be truly of the shadows, I had to hide any trace of weakness or sentiment.” He paused, noting her expression, which appeared to be mixed between impatience and acceptance. She was waiting for him to get to the point.

He steeled himself, and continued. “I guess what I’m saying is this. I’ve known since the moment we met that there was a- a connection. When you defeated me that first time, and left the flower behind, I couldn’t believe what it might mean, and I tried to tell myself it was my imagination. Was it?” He gazed at her expectantly, wondering what she would do.

“No, Leo-chan, it was not. I would not have considered your offer if this were not true.” She said simply. That was here way, though. Simple and direct, only using guile when it was needed. Much like his own code.

He took that in, hardly daring to hope that his dreams had been real after all. “I see. Fair enough, then.” He took a moment to collect his thoughts, before inhaling deeply of the crisp night air. The stiff breeze blew the wisps of hair framing his face back, blew his coat again, as he leaned out over the edge of the roof, supporting his weight with his hands on the low crenellation. He straightened and turned to face her again. “Lotus, would you- I mean, I want you to come back with me. Not because it makes sense, or because we could use your skills, but…. Be- because I love you.”

There. He’d said it. Now that the words were out, he didn’t quite know what to do. He’d gone over it in his head a million times, planning this meeting, but somehow things had not gone the way he had expected. What now? She was everything he could want in a partner- no, in a mate, his mind reluctantly admitted. Intelligent, skilled, beautiful, courageous, bold, and honorable in her own way. But what did he really have to offer, even now? There was the sense of purpose, of course, belonging to a clan, however odd and misfit it might be, and there was the chance to hone and pass on her skills. But beyond that?

He had not lied about the new operation. Hamato Security and Protection Services. His own personal brain-child, created with Donatello’s help. It was discreet, professional, and he screened every client before taking any job. His brothers added their talents when and where they could, but it was mostly just him, and their two newest female clan-mates, of course. Mona and Irma were instrumental in running “the corporation” as he jokingly called it. What it really was, though, was a way to legitimize what they all still did. Within limits, of course. Mikey’s mate had been part of it, too, when she could take time from running the camera for April at Channel Six. But now she was relegated to only the safest of jobs for the time being.

He still couldn’t wrap his head around the fact that he would soon be an uncle. Uncle of four, no less. And Raph and Mona Lisa were expecting, too- another surprise, and even more unexpected, given that Mona could still shift back to her mutant form, though she hadn’t done so since discovering her condition. Another three new additions to the Hamato family, which seemed to be growing in leaps and bounds, now that the floodgates of possibility had opened for them. All but Donnie, of course. He still felt badly for his brother, knowing that he alone of them all would never share in that joy. Not that he hadn’t considered other options, to be sure. He had at least managed to partially “cure” his condition, by creating his own regimen of hormone treatments and diet that allowed him to at least experience physical intimacy, if not fertility. It was a small victory, at least.

“Very well. I accept, Leo-chan,” she replied at last, cutting into his thoughts. He had almost gotten lost in his reverie, and was startled by her voice. It took him a moment to register the words, but then a smile began to bloom on his lips, an expression of pure joy. “I had long wished for us to be more than allies, but-” she gave a slight nod, almost a bow, to tell him what she could not say. Of all the regrets they both had, the greatest was that things had remained unfinished between them.

“Then, you’ll join us?” He asked, wanting to hear it again, just to be sure he had not been dreaming it.

“Yes, but on one condition. You must defeat me to win my hand. I will not give myself to one who cannot best me in a duel.” He stared for a moment, unsure if she was joking. But no, she was not one to jest about such matters. She had meant every word.

“Alright, but I’ll have to change first. Can’t call it fair if I’m not at the top of my game, now can we?” Leonardo said with a lopsided grin.

“No. You must do it like this- I wanted an equal, remember?” She replied, smirking. She was teasing him now, he realized, but in her own way. “If you cannot do it like this, then how can I truly respect you as a warrior?”

He scowled, hating that she had just tossed that in his face, though he had to admit that she was right. It was the entire reason he had come here, after all. To prove himself to her. Prove himself worthy OF her. He drew one of his katanas, and nodded. “Alright. I warn you, though, I won’t go easy just because of my feelings.”

“Good. I do not expect you to. And nor shall I.” Leo caught the hint of humor in her eyes, and grinned. She was challenging him to do his best, knowing that both of their futures would be determined by the outcome. And it was a challenge he was more than willing to accept.

She drew her own blade once more, bowed, and fell into a ready stance. He bowed back, then shifted into one of his own and waited. Several long seconds passed, with neither one moving to attack. Leo smirked, chuckling softly. “You know, we’ll never get anywhere like this. One of us has to make a move,” he remarked dryly.

“It is you who must take the test, Leonardo,” she countered, a ghost of a smile on her lips.

“True enough. But I’m also a gentleman. Ladies first,” he shot back, his smile growing into an easy grin.

“As you wish,” she replied, and lunged toward him to strike.

And just like that, it was game on. He blocked the first strike so easily, it was almost a joke. He countered with a sweep of his blade that swished past her cheek. She leaned away from the strike and countered with a punch to distract him from the thrust she aimed at his left side. He blocked both. They traded blows for a few moments, steel clashing with steel, ringing out in the cool night air.

Minutes passed as they fought, each seeking the right moment, the opening needed to achieve victory. Her tanto stabbed upward, but was thwarted when he spun away, her blade finding only air. She stepped back, and pivoted to kick out at him. He ducked it, and dropped into a low crouch, legs coiled like springs to launch himself at her head first. It was a tactic he and his brothers often used against opponents, pulling their heads in to slam their shells into the enemy. It had become almost instinctive- except that now his head took the brunt of the impact. He had forgotten for the moment that he was no longer in his true form. Though she fell back a few steps, gasping from the blow to her midsection, he found himself slightly dazed by the contact.

Dumb move, Leo, he chided himself, as she slammed the hilt of her tanto into the top of his head in retaliation, further compounding the dizziness swimming in his skull. It sent him to his knees for a second, shaking away the cobwebs. Lotus took advantage, and attempted to kick him in the gut, but he felt it coming. He rolled away and came up in a flash, his blade coming straight down at her head. She blocked it instinctively, and both moved back for a moment to study each other.

“You are as good in this shape as your real one,” she commented, nodding her approval. “Though perhaps a bit predictable.”

“Oh? You think so?” He asked, quirking one brow. “I’ve learned a few things since we last met.” As if to demonstrate, he made a charge at her, gleaming blade raised high as if to slash down in a savage cut. She moved to dodge aside, but instead of striking, he side-stepped and tangled her blade with his, then stepped in MUCH too close, his free hand snaking around her waist to draw her against his chest. Still holding her sword arm up and out with his own, he leaned in and captured her mouth in a hard, hot kiss.

She froze, and stiffened in the unexpected embrace, her arm slowly slipping down as she began to reciprocate. He drew her arm down until her tanto fell to the rooftop with a clatter, unnoticed. At last, he shifted his weight, sliding one foot between hers, and without ever ending the kiss, took her legs out from under her. She tried to pull away with a startled gasp as she toppled backward, but he held fast, going down with her. They found themselves on the hard surface, Leo’s bulk pinning her down, as he finally released her lips.

“Still think I’m predictable?” He asked, a glint of amusement dancing in those cool coppery eyes that marked him as so very NOT human. Somehow, she found them almost hypnotizing, like the gaze of a deadly serpent. And she was the mouse, caught in his clutches.

Lotus glanced around worriedly, realizing that she had completely fallen for his trick. “Perhaps not as much as I thought,” she conceded. He grinned.

“Oh, just thought I’d mention this, but…. You lose.” He grinned again, and leaned in to kiss her once more. This time, she didn’t even try to stop him or pull away. This was ONE battle she didn’t mind losing.
"Well, this is another fine myth you've gotten us into..."
-from "Myth Directions"

"Where Science ends, magic begins." -Spiral, Uncanny X-Men #491
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darktruth
Neo
Joined: 08 Dec 2011, 13:45

15 Jul 2015, 09:35 #11

Working out my entry. Forerunners are the final issue of my Time-Traveller story, my dark and gritty story (basically a survival-horror with super-powers), an original super-hero story, or a Pixie one-shot.
"Don't Act Too Paranoid Or They'll Know You're Onto Them."

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ewkada
Inhuman
Joined: 21 Dec 2013, 01:44

15 Jul 2015, 19:50 #12

one day more
one meeting more
and I'll be free for working on the story
[wave;
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Joined: 27 Nov 2007, 17:07

17 Jul 2015, 09:39 #13

Thank ye kindly Miles.

Great entry Ducks!
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MsMarvelDuckie
Inhuman
Joined: 28 Nov 2007, 20:55

17 Jul 2015, 18:09 #14

Thanks! Yours, too!
"Well, this is another fine myth you've gotten us into..."
-from "Myth Directions"

"Where Science ends, magic begins." -Spiral, Uncanny X-Men #491
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Joined: 03 Oct 2013, 20:56

18 Jul 2015, 14:39 #15

As the Avenger - a captured Venator III Class star destroyer now in service to the Rebel Alliance continues to hunt Antoneid Starek's stolen prototype torpedo and its arc reactor, he has fallen into a near-comatose state after touching Malra Taron, a member of the Alliance's elite Rogue squadron...



Marvel Star Wars: Arsenal - Chapter Fifteen

In the Avenger’s med-bay nearest to Antoneid Starek’s cabin…


“Yeeagh!”

Antoneid Starek suddenly sat up in the bed that he was laying in, clutching the arc reactor embedded in his chest with images of Ti’i Pirates standing around him…chewing on something. [Note: when the Ti'i had captured him, they had threatened to eat his heart.]

“Mr. Starek is conscious,” a 2-1B droid announced as it continued to monitor a medical sensor scan displayed on a monitor close by as the man breathed in heavy gasps as he looked around the room as he tried to gain his bearings.

“What…what’s going on?” Antoneid asked nervously, glaring at the droid then noticing Mace Fury was standing nearby. Antoneid had a hard time shaking the images of his captivity from his mind.

“How are you feeling?” Mace asked as he placed a supporting hand on Antoneid’s shoulder as the man suddenly became dizzy.

“Like I’ve been placed in a blender,” Antoneid replied, blinking his eyes and placing his hand on his forehead. “Correction: a blender inside of an electrical discharge field. What happened to me?”

“Apparently, Malra Taron did something to you,” Mace replied. “Your nervous system suffered a severe shock. If it weren’t for that arc reactor in your chest and that artificial heart of yours, you might have ended up dead.”

“Malra did something to me?” Antoneid asked in confusion, trying to recall what had happened. “We were talking in my cabin. Some stuff about our childhood memories. She seemed kinda sad.”

“Did you touch her?” Mace asked.

“Hey, come on!” Antoneid responded angrily. “I didn’t do anything that would have warranted a violent response.”

“I wasn’t implying anything, Starek,” Director Fury told him. “What I’m asking is if you made physical contact with her skin.”

“Well, I, uh…” Antoneid said as he pantomimed his actions with his hands as he recalled the last things he remembered. “I placed my hand on her shoulder. No. I was going to do that when I saw that she was crying. I touched her cheek.”

“That follows Rogue 3’s testimony of the account,” the 2-1B droid responded when Mace turned and hushed it.

“What happened next?” Mace asked.

Tony shook his head, again, wondering if Mace was trying to uncover some truth that he was hiding.

“Nothing happened,” Antoneid asked. “I wiped a tear from her cheek when…” He thought for a few moments. “I suddenly felt like I stuck a hydrospanner in a droid socket. Did…did my arc reactor short or something?”

Antoneid looked down at the blue glow coming through his shirt. There was nothing visually wrong with it. If there had been, he imagined that Fury would have had it removed.

“The insulation on the leads to your arc reactor is in perfect shape,” Mace reassured him. “The med-techs did a scan when they came to your cabin after your droid called for help after you collapsed. That was right before Malra Taron confessed to doing something to you.”

Tony narrowed his eyes. “I don’t think she would do anything to… what did she supposedly do?”

“We’re not sure,” Mace replied. “She says she has this involuntary ability to ‘sap other people’s life force’ – as she put it - by touching them.”

Tony looked at him doubtfully. “So she’s not human? She looks human.”

“She’s human alright,” Mace replied. “But, she’s also Genoshan.”

“What?”

“She’s under guard in a cell having a cellular scan done as we speak,” Mace told him. “We’re checking for evidence of genetic alteration common in Genoshans.”

Tony sat for a moment. The dizziness had passed and he could concentrate more easily than a few moments before.

“I don’t think she did whatever she did to me on purpose,” Antoneid told him.

“She did say that it’s involuntary,” Mace agreed. “But if that’s true, she can involuntarily kill any member of this ship’s crew at any moment. So if she zapped you on purpose or did it accidentally, it makes her equally dangerous.”

Antoneid closed his eyes thoughtfully and lifted a forefinger. “That’s why she’s been playing the loner all this time. She’s been avoiding people on purpose.”

“She’s been keeping a dangerous secret,” Mace said, folding his arms.

“So, are you going to treat her like a criminal? Are you going to give her a trial or something?” Antoneid asked angrily.

“For the time being, I’m going to do nothing,” Mace told him, not wanting to argue with him. “Right now, we’re in hyperspace heading for the Queeine Nine system. We’ve received word that one of Jajonna Gaemson’s contacts had been hired to, and I quote: ‘go to Ti’i space with a couple of quantum physicist prodigies and rendezvous with a stolen Lancer Class cruiser.’ ”

“The Silkworm?” Antoneid asked eagerly.

“It sounds like it,” Mace replied. “Rogue Squadron is getting ready to deploy once we exit from light speed. That should be…”

"And you said 'quantum physicist prodigies'," Antoneid said flexing his fingers, trying to shake off a tingling feeling in them. "As in 'to examine a stolen arc reator'."

"That's the assumption," Mace answered.

Antoneid turned and threw his feet over the side of the bed he was lying in and both Mace Fury and the 2-1B droid tried to restrain him.

“Hey, I need to be with Rogue Squadron when they assault the Silkworm,” Antoneid told them as he tried to stand only to have his knees buckle slightly.

“You’re not going anywhere,” Mace told him. “Not in your condition.”

“I need to be there when we try and capture the Silkworm,” the weakened genius told him. “Even if I’m a little weak in the knees, my armor should be able to support me. Help me get back to my cabin.”

“If there is cerebral or neurological damage, that would not be recommended,” the medical droid responded, looking at Mace.

“The droid’s right,” Mace told him, looking him in the eye. “You shouldn’t risk your health, let alone your life. Rogue Squadron can handle it by themselves.”

“With their ace locked up?” Antoneid said, referring to Malra, as he climbed back onto his feet. He felt like someone had plugged his arc reactor into his nervous system. It wasn’t a pleasant sensation. “They’re a pilot short. You guys need me and my expertise. I know that ship and its layout. I’m the one that modified it, remember?”

Mace glared at him for a moment, but knew he was right.

“Okay, if you can walk by yourself back to your cabin and climb into your armor, then you’re good to go,” Mace told him holding up a finger to the 2-1B’s vocator to silence its protest before it came. “If not, you’re getting bed rest and treatment until you’re better.”

Antoneid grinned and hobbled to the med-bay’s door, nearly catching himself from falling as he did. Mace followed close behind.

“See?” Antoneid said as he felt as if the nerve impulses from his brain weren’t reaching the muscles in his legs correctly. Still, he opened the door and shakily walked down the corridor toward his cabin which was a few dozen meters away.

“Good as new,” he told Mace as he struggled to put one foot in front of the other. “No problem at all.”

Mace frowned as he kept pace with him. “If you fall on this floor, I’m gonna let you lay there until the mission’s over.”

“With people tripping over me and everything?” Antoneid asked with an upraised eyebrow as he carefully hobbled down the corridor. “I let the guy take command of my ship and he wants to turn me into a tripping hazard.”

Mace rolled his single eye.

“How long til we drop out of hyperspace?” Antoneid asked as he reached his cabin door.

“Twenty minutes or so,” Mace told him as the door opened automatically.

“Oh, that long?” Antoneid said with a grin as Jarvee rolled up to him. “Here I am in a hurry and I had time to get a snack.”

“Oh, you’re alright,” the droid said blandly. “I’m thrilled.”

“Droid’s a comedian,” Antoneid said as he stumbled toward a circular raised platform which he nearly tripped over. “Jarvee, initiate the startup sequence.”

“Absolutely,” the droid said rolling over to a socket which he plugged into. Soon after, panels in the floor and ceiling opened and mechanical arms emerged holding pieces of Antoneid’s armor. “Director Fury, are you actually sanctioning this activity? Shouldn’t my master be in the med bay receiving medical treatment or getting euthanized or something?”

Mace raised his eyebrow and looked at Antoneid.

“A comedian, like I said,” the genius engineer said raising his arms as the mechanical arms began placing pieces of the Arsenal armor over his body and assembling it.

“Maybe he needs another memory wipe,” Fury said looking at the blue and white droid.

“If you need help wiping my master’s memory, I am most willingly eager to help,” Jarvee said, turning his domed head and looking at Mace with his own singular red eye.

Mace grinned as the mechanical arms finished assembling the armor.

Antoneid flexed his arms, fingers and neck. “Ready to go.”

As Mace watched, Antoneid walked out of the cabin with ease.

“Director Fury,” the droid said. “I can monitor my master’s biological functions through his suit. I will relay any indications of a negative turn in his health directly to you.”

Mace nodded. While the droid seemed facetious toward his owner, he demonstrated that his rudeness to him had no real ill intent behind it.

“Thank you,” Mace told the droid as he walked toward the door. “I’ll be on the bridge.”

---

The second moon of the fourth planet in the Queeine Nine system, a short time later…

The Avenger dropped out of hyperspace and immediately deployed eleven of its twelve X-Wing fighters that quickly deployed their S-foils. Shortly after, they were followed by Antoneid Starek in his Arsenal armor. Orbiting the small moon was a sizable abandoned mining station – typically used by Ti’i Pirates as bases. Three ships hovered nearby: a pair of Pirate cruisers and a Lancer Class Imperial cruiser. As Antoneid did a quick visual scan of the Imperial ship, he noted it had been modified with an array of missile launcher tubes on each of its sides.

“Bingo!” Antoneid shouted through his comm as he accelerated past the X-Wings toward the target ship. “It’s the Silkworm alright! Rogue Squadron, close in and target its engines. Be careful of those aft turbolasers on that turret below and ahead of them. What the Lancer Class Cruiser lacks in firepower, it makes up in speed. The ship’s shield generator is located just in front of the bridge tower. You’ll have problems with its side guns if you…”

”Arsenal, fall back!” Commander Yallee Hill, aka, Rogue Leader shouted across her comm. ”Leading this attack is my job. Should you even be helping us in your condition?”

Antoneid bit his lip and decided not to argue with her, noticing the two Pirate cruisers were deploying fighters from their lower hulls.

”Rogues, spread out in assigned pairs and cut off the Silkworm’s exit vectors on its far hemisphere,” Yallee Hill ordered. ”The Avenger will cover this hemisphere. Watch those tailguns on those fighters.”

Antoneid inwardly kicked himself. Yallee’s strategy was sound and he was being overeager. His plan of attack completely overlooked the fighters. Still, he didn’t have enough faith in her or Rogue Squadron to keep the ship from escaping without his help.

“While you guys handle those fighters and provide a net, I’m gonna work on taking out the Silkworm’s engines,” Antoneid announced through his comm.

”Starek, don’t be reckless,” Mace Fury warned from the Avenger’s bridge.

“I’ve got things handled, Mr. Director,” Antoneid reassured him as he unleashed a volley of blaster fire at the nearest Pirate fighter. “My suit is faster than the Silkworm and I can outmaneuver her and her turrets. Besides, if I can breach one of her airlocks, I should be able to commandeer the ship and…oh, boy…”

As Antoneid watched, the Silkworm launched a volley of missiles from its launchers, all spiraling in seemingly random patterns in the general direction of him and the Alliance fighters.

“Missiles coming in!” he snorted as he maneuvered to get a lock on them with his arm mounted blasters. They were all around him and moving in seemingly random directions almost as if the ship’s commander (Danal Biet?) had them launched in a panic.

”See them, Arsenal,” Yallee responded. ”Rogues, evasive maneuvers and countermeasures.”

Antoneid began opening fire with his blasters, taking out two of the missiles immediately and continued to fire at two more. Suddenly, all at once, all of the remaining missiles quickly changed directions and accelerated at specific targets, including him.

“Blast it!” Antoneid grunted, spinning in flight to barely intercept the two missiles targeting him. “That was sneaky.”

”Keep your eyes open, Arsenal,” Yallee told him as she managed to turn and take out two of the missiles with her X-Wing's cannons – a stunt that left him impressed. The rest of the missiles were taken out either by the rest of Rogue Squadron or the countermeasures they launched from their X-Wings. ”They’ll probably do that again.”

“Will do, Rogue Leader,” Antoneid replied as he turned toward the Lancer Class cruiser again as the X-Wings flew past him. “If I get close enough, they won’t be able to lock onto me.”

“Do that, but watch your six,” Yallee told him as she maneuvered to take on a Pirate fighter engaging her.

Antoneid accelerated toward the ship again as his vision blurred slightly for a moment. Flexing his fingers, he still felt as if someone was running an electric current through them. Inwardly, he wondered if he should have stayed back after all. It was too late now.

As if on cue, the Silkworm launched another volley of missiles just as he entered its turbolaser range. Spinning, he managed to dodge fire from its aft turret, even as he noticed a particular pattern in the launched missiles.

“Sensor check,” Antoneid said quietly to his suit. “Give me a count on each of the missile volleys.”

On his HUD, two numbers appeared one above the other.

*65
65*


“Well that’s interesting,” Antoneid told himself knowing that the Silkworm had sixty-six missile tubes – thirty-three on each of its sides. “Comm: relay data to the Avenger’s bridge.”

*DONE*

Quickly, he targeted as many of the launched missiles as possible firing his blasters in a sweeping pattern. Angrily, he realized he had missed most of them. Five of them suddenly turned and locked onto him.

“Oh, yeah?” he asked them. “Well let’s see how well you can avoid friendly fire.”

Bringing his arms down to his sides he began firing behind him and accelerated toward the Silkworm utilizing the repulsors in his armored palms. His HUD automatically began displaying the sights from each of his arm mounted blasters while a flashing “*WARNING*” appeared above his forward view.

“Yep, yep, duly noted,” Antoneid told his suit as the Silkworm’s lower turret rained blaster fire in his direction. As he shot toward the ship, he zigged and zagged causing the turret targeting him to repeatedly adjust its firing angle. At the same time, the missiles locked onto him adjusted their courses and before too long, the blaster fire from either Tony’s arms or from the cruiser took down all but one of the missiles.

“Straggler!” Antoneid shouted and turned in mid-flight firing both of his blasters taking out the last missile and giving him a good view of one of the Pirate cruisers that was closing in on him. The second was trailing it and the Avenger was closing in on all three of the smaller ships. Fortunately, for the moment, Antoneid had positioned himself behind the Silkworm and above its engine blast out of the line of sight of any of its turbolasers.

Avenger, requesting some extra firepower,” Antoneid asked through his comm. “I’m in a bind here and have a Pirate cruiser closing in on me.”

”Starek, you’re out of range of our turbolasers,” Dir. Fury informed him. ”We have your current position and recommend evasive maneuvers.”

“Wow, no kidding?” Antoneid responded, noting that the Pirate cruiser was positioning itself so the Silkworm wasn’t in its line of fire. Unnervingly, its guns were locked on him. Within seconds the blood red, modified freighter would begin opening fire.

On a whim, Antoneid turned and accelerated flying past the Silkworm just as it began launching another volley of missiles. In response, he rapidly fired both of his arm mounted blasters just as they left their launch tubes. All but one of the blasts missed their marks. The one that did, however struck a missile directly behind its warhead. The warhead would have armed once it had reached a safe distance from the launching ship. However, the blast managed to detonate its engine. The explosion wasn’t horrific but it was enough to damage the launch tube and…disable the section of the ship’s deflector screens momentarily.

“Now!” Antoneid said in a gasp, rapidly launching himself the remaining five meters to the ship’s hull where he impacted shoulder first against one of the other launcher doors. Unfortunately, his proximity to the ship didn’t allow him to use his arm mounted blasters. His repulsors were his second option, but the ship’s armor would take hours to penetrate with them. His final option would be to use his suit’s brute strength and the only thing he could grab a hold of was the launcher doors…one of which was already damaged from the missile’s detonated engine.

Underneath, his helmet, Antoneid grinned from ear to ear. Soon, he was punching and tearing at the damaged door with his armored hands and pieces of it were tossed aside where they impacted against the inner surface of the ship’s restored shields. With the door removed, Antoneid extended one of his blasters and put it inside of the damaged tube.

“Time to see if anybody’s home,” Antoneid said before firing into the tube where the lasers tore into its inner doors which had also been damaged in the small explosion. Within seconds, the blaster fire had penetrated them and was shredding the loading mechanism beyond, preventing any more missiles from firing on the Silkworm’s port side.

Meanwhile, the Avenger closed in on the trailing Pirate warship and the two began to exchange turbolaser and ion cannon fire. The Pirate cruiser had purposely been designed to board other capital ships so it had incorporated high powered ion cannons for disabling them. The Venator III Class star destroyer, as old as it was, outclassed and outgunned it. Within less than a minute, it had cut through the Pirate cruiser’s shields and pummeled its engines. They immediately exploded ripping the modified medium freighter to shreds.

With the first cruiser out of the way, the Avenger pressed forward with the second cruiser in its sights.

With half of the missile launchers disabled on the Silkworm, Antoneid made his way along the surface of the Imperial cruiser until he reached the side of its outward port auxillary booster engine. Gripping the ship’s hull with his left hand, he began battering it with blaster fire from his right arm, chipping away at the engine’s cowling.

”Arsenal, the Silkworm is slipping through our net,” Yallee announced. ”Do what you can to stop it or its going to escape.”

“Working on it,” Antoneid replied as he grimaced at the thought of the cruiser making its jump to hyperspace with him still holding onto it. His blaster had done significant damage to the engine’s surface, but its casing wasn’t going to give way in time. Crawling along the ship’s surface, he reached the area he had been blasting and began pounding it with his fists until a small breach formed. Reaching his armored fingers in, he gripped the casing and began pulling with his arm and pushing with his feet against its surface until a meter wide gash formed in it.

That was all that was needed. Antoneid extended his blasters and fired into the breach and the engine went dark. Its loss caused the ship to bank and turn to its left until the pilot compensated by cutting thrust to the matching booster on the starboard side - slowing the ship's escape.

A bright flash caught Antoneid’s attention. Out of the corner of his eye he watched as, after ingesting a lethal dose of turbolaser fire, the second Pirate cruiser erupted into a fireball through which the Avenger triumphantly passed as it closed in on the Silkworm. Within seconds the Alliance’s ship began buffeting the stolen Imperial cruiser with its ion cannons, stripping away its shields.

“Blast it! Hold your fire!” Antoneid shouted into his comm as he realized the ionization had impacted his suit slightly and his HUD began to flicker. As the Avenger’s guns fell temporarily silent, Antoneid kicked off against the ship’s hull and accelerated away, watching as the Alliance’s star destroyer resumed working on disabling the enemy ship. After about fifteen seconds, the ship’s shields were gone and its guns and engines fell silent. The ship continued to drift harmlessly as Rogue Squadron finished off the last of the fighters that had launched from the Pirate cruisers.

“Easy work,” Antoneid said with a grin. “I’m going to breach the Silkworm’s forward airlock. Watch for escape pods.”

”Acknowledged, Arsenal,” Commander Hill responded.

As Antoneid accelerated toward the ship, he noticed a flash from its damaged launch tube. Before he reached the ship, there was an explosion from within the ship breaching its hull just beneath the damaged launchers and fiery debris bled out of the ship’s gaping wound.

”What was that?” Mace Fury asked. ”Sensors show an explosion from within the ship. What’s going on, Starek?”

“I’m not sure,” Antoneid said accelerating toward the area of the explosion. “I’m checking it out. Based on what I’m seeing so far, I don’t think I need to enter the ship through its airlock.”

Antoneid decelerated as he reached the ship, approaching the blackened hull around a jagged gash. Through it he could easily see the twisted wreckage of what was once its missile/torpedo bay. He entered the ship through the hole caused by the explosion and ripped parts of the port launcher’s loading mechanism aside as he entered the ship’s damaged innards.

“It looks like one of the missiles inside of the weapon’s bay exploded,” Antoneid reported, looking around at the damage as he floated within it. “Its warhead was evidently armed prematurely. Artificial gravity’s out along with the power, at least in this section. The explosion must have knocked out the subfloor power conduits. It also tore this place to shreds. Blast it. If that torpedo was in here, it’s going to be in a few thousand pieces.”

”What about the ship’s crew?” Director Fury asked.

“Ah, obviously the ones manning this section are now blackened pieces of soot,” Antoneid commented as he floated toward the forward hold. A door to the ship’s main cabin had buckled inward due to the explosion. “My suit’s sensors aren’t picking up any life readings. It looks like they lost atmospheric pressure in the main cabin. The bridge should still be intact, I would think.”

”Our sensors aren’t detecting anything alive there,” Mace told him. ”That’s too bad. We could have used information the survivor’s had. Starek, I’m going to deploy a quartet of analysis droids to your location. According to the data your droid’s relaying to me, you seem to be alright. How do you feel?”

“Not as bad as I was earlier,” he replied. “I think I’ll be alright.”

”Good,” the Director responded. ”Will you be able to assist them with scanning the hold and collecting debris?”

Antoneid looked around him at the mess.

“Well, I suppose. I guess I didn’t have anything else better to do. I’d also like to talk to Malra Taron when I return to the Avenger.”

”That’s being arranged. Droids are on their way.”

As Antoneid waited for the arrival of the droids, he looked down at his armored hand as he flexed his fingers. There was still a tingling sensation in them, but it was fading, fortunately. Despite Mace Fury’s apparent mistrust in Malra, Antoneid continue to doubt her intentions to do him harm. While the recovery of his missing torpedo and its arc reactor were vital, finding answers about her was taking a priority in his mind.
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ewkada
Inhuman
Joined: 21 Dec 2013, 01:44

19 Jul 2015, 21:12 #16

hohoho!
a bunch of stories, that's really great !

and here is mine:

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The ASHEN PLANET

------------------------------------

At the beginning we weren’t as numerous as nowadays, even now, after so many have been killed in the war, because our planet was almost as unfriendly as the Green Planet. Despite the fact that before we had more children, we also died young torn up by wild beasts, eaten by water species, also kidnapped by many khirghordurhs. First the taming of the wolves and hugebirds gave us the superiority. There was no king who would be heaving the hammer yet, so we were ruled by consuls.

And particularly the last one, as it turned out later on, consul Lori decided to send out groups of some dozen Asgardians each in search for a new, more friendly planet. Only volunteers without children were allowed to set off, and that meant mostly young Asgardians; some couples were also among them, and only some of the older singles. Plenty of arms, dried food and water generators were packed, and the fuel for the journey back. They set off through the portals with prior settled return-routes. Each group had several planets to check, so our travelers – we will concentrate on one group only – had no time to get bored, they also managed to contract some new marriages on the way, but for many years they didn’t find any planet suitable for living. For us it is funny, but in those days they didn’t posses the knowledge and powers we’ve got now and everything new was for them risky and tempting at the same time.

They were already happy for the journey home, when in the place, where they weren’t even supposed to find it, they saw a planet, single one with seven moons, and what was most important for them was: forty percent of its mainland was covered with vegetation. They were so excited that they had to pull straws for staying on the mother-ship. First transports brought back good news: the planet had many plants and birds, without terrestrial animals except some kinds of worms living in hillocks. They followed their principles for settling on a new planet: if this should be someday their home planet, they had to prepare maps first, and they also classified everything, from the flying species to the huge trees. Crawling worms of this size – here Thor had shown his hand – they learned to toast… and this way slowly they familiarized themselves with this new world.

---

Part of the planet was without any vegetation at all: a flat wasteland with scarce rocks only was covered with a fine dust rising by the slightest movement. They called it ash, ashes and weren’t much wrong with that. The first attempt to penetrate the ashen fields had been finished with no success shortly after it had started, as the dust rose quite high and covered the view entirely, no matter, whether they moved with their legs and hands or with their head only. This time they managed to get back relatively easily into the green thicket, which actually encouraged them to continue, to their misfortune, as it turned out later on.

On this planet they had to face occasional, totally unpredictable storms above the all-surrounding ocean and the mainland, and only then the ashes turned somewhat sticky making their clouds not higher than their tail. So after the storm they decided to organize another expedition into the ashen fields. And again they found nothing there, but the principle of settling down on a new planet requires the detailed and direct (!) view of the entire planet, so one day shortly after the next storm was over they packed the tents made out of leaves, equipment for collecting and transferring the data to the ship and divided into groups, almost all of the crew staying on the planet went into the fields. They were in a hurry to complete their mission (successfully of course) and to get back home as soon as possible - their return had already been postponed by discovering this planet.

Vast fields of ashes, once you had entered there, looked the same in all four directions. At the beginning they went in six groups, every day reporting to the ship the same data. But after a week the moisture, that was brought into the wasteland by the storm, disappeared and ashes quickly covered them with clouds higher than their size. They had to hide in pairs in the tents and sink into a conscious lethargy; they couldn’t move, even a deep breath caused dusty clouds to rise to a height that required a day to fall down again. And here the first surprise awaited them: this lethargy showed them, that they were wrong to think they were prepared for it – the company of another person is nice and eliminates loneliness if there is some interaction between the two, but here they couldn’t do anything, which wouldn’t end with dusty and biting clouds. They lay then almost driven mad, not moving and looking into the tent’s ceiling above them for two months - hours seemed to extend into eternity, eyes cheated them with blinking visions of dancing ashes – so that in the end even their thoughts were afraid to be created in their minds from fear of the arising dark, dusty curtain.

---

The next storm, when it came from the ocean’s side, heard their yells of joy and saw the tears of happiness; finally they could move, drink, eat and talk and touch each other and of course in a hurry report the details of further terrains in relatively low clouds of ashes. And exactly in this moment all groups did something, what for sure they shouldn’t: they called for transporters to take them back after the wet days were gone, as they didn’t want to go through months of lethargy again. The machines however setting down created huge dusty clouds and… activated something inside the ground, that started to wave blocking them in the sticky dust. But possibly they would deal with this unexpected problem and take off themselves in the transporters either back to the green zone or even into the orbit of the mother-ship, if not the fact, that additionally in the ground many holes had been opened and some of our Asgardians were swallowed up underground. The holes closed shortly after that and the ground again started to wave. The survivors on the surface hurried up to the transporters and this way, less by about a half, they found shelter. But the ashen fields didn’t give up the battle with their intruders, they still waved and opened their muzzles trying to swallow the machines.

– We’d have better chances if we tried to return on foot to the green zone, while we still are able to precise the direction for our escape. We are far from the destination by some seven days of extensive running, I estimate – Loren, one of the mechanical engineers and only one left out of the three, who managed to reach the transporter, proposed it. The rest however were reluctant to go out, they were too scared of the moving fields; so they chose to escape only when one of the holes started to swallow in their transporter’s parts.

Loren run first holding his compass. The waving ground made it difficult for them to maintain their balance and in these dusty clouds they weren’t able to spot any holes in advance. Estimating by the screams heard behind him, Loren didn’t see any regularity of holes, in spite of that he had the impression that they had activated a kind of a war machinery of this planet of not necessary natural origin. This running was like a roulette, but the winner was disappearing, underground. We, Asgardians are a tough kind since time beyond remembrance thanks to our planet, but this one day of running, shock after the loss of so many, mental paralysis caused by the lethargy in the dust, feeling to be a play-tool of someone unidentified and fear of losing their lives – all that seemed to be worse than meeting any of our Asgardian beasts alone. They were running without pauses, hoping that their ship will go down to locate and beam them out of the fields, violating this way one of the key principles for penetration of the universe.

And the night, at that time much shorter than the day, wasn’t better. Loren run with a steady tempo and was more than happy to hear footfalls of others, but also deadly scared for he had already calculated their chances for leaving the waving fields. He smiled however to his preferred star, setting off at this hour, that pierced with its light the dusty thicket and… then he felt no ground beneath and slid down by several meters in the narrow flexible tube. In the end he bumped centrally into a bigger room. In the same moment out of a side tube or tunnel jumped out also one of his colleagues.

---

There was a light in this room, faint and shaking; Loren looked at it like hypnotized; he wondered, whether it could be alive and if it were alive, whether it would be intelligent. The other Asgardian, Timo, who on this ashen planet classified the plants, was completely out of control: he kicked against elastic walls, spat on the light that clearly avoided him, laughed and cried in turns. Loren wanted to calm him down, but fear or maybe this keen light paralyzed him so that he was somehow sure, they will never get out of this room. He was scared to move and wanted to live as long as possible not provoking this someone or something that had swallowed them in.

They must have stayed there for a long time. Timo finally was too tired to attack the walls; he laid down himself murmuring something.

Loren closed his eyes, the light anyway didn’t change in its pulsation. Loren had never been an aggressive type; in Asgard he avoided fighting and generally he kept the distance while being in the company of other Asgardians. He definitely preferred his machines, they were predictable and could be repaired or corrected when errors occurred and they couldn’t suffer from his own mistakes. And this was, what he had seen in his dream there underground: endless numerous sequences without any visible regularities; they tried to speak to him, explain to him something, but he wasn’t a machine himself and therefore couldn’t understand them.

I don’t know how long he slept and dreamt, but when Loren awoke, Timo was fighting against someone. Loren after a while came to the conclusion, that Timo must had been fighting against his own imagination, but no… something was throwing him from wall to wall although it wasn’t visible at all. Loren avoiding the fighters instinctively searched for any escape, any passage in the walls, but in vain. Suddenly, in the middle of the room Timo was hung some inches above the ground, a dark smoke started to come out of his mouth. Loren all in panic got up and tried to hide within somewhat elastic walls; Timo trembled, it was obvious that he was dying. Loren looked helplessly into his eyes, they said farewell in silence. Finally Timo’s eyes turned lifelessly; his face first and then all his body started to fall apart.

Loren with disgust turned his eyes away and then on the wall he saw a pictogram of one of the Blackeyed with lit up outlines: standing and with both hands raised above his head. Suddenly something like shadow covered the pictogram, so Loren mechanically raised his hands. He lost his balance and fell down, and then he was pulled by this something. The tempo was significant, Loren estimated that the beast must had been quite strong and fast. Suddenly he was turned around like in a carousel and was thrown out back on the surface.

---

- So this time I am the lucky guy… And what about others? – Loren thought looking at the dried ashes dancing around; the fields didn’t wave anymore. Loren waited motionlessly for the next storm, he tried not to think at all, especially he pushed away any images of the ones who run with him. And as he had lost count of time, the storm when it came was a sudden change for him. Relieved, he closed his eyes enjoying the streams of water falling down on his face. When it finished he got up with one flexible move in order to run to the green wall of plants visible already on the left side on the horizon.

But suddenly he stopped as he realized, that on his right side someone was standing. Slowly, with difficulty he turned towards… - Jori! – he exclaimed.

She smiled to him and this deceived him.

– Jori, I am so happy, that I am not the only one left here! – he finished coming closer to her, but then he noticed, that her skin was more grey-like, which immediately reminded him of grey Timo falling apart – Nooo… - he uttered a groan with pain on his face.

– Hello Loren – Jori said unexpectedly – I’ve got a task for you –

– It’s her, but with grey skin! – he thought being still surprised.

– As you already have noticed, only two of us remained alive – she declared sadly.

Loren unwillingly looked at the sky.

Jori smiled again, but denied with her head instead of answering.

– Who murdered them? – Loren asked in a hoarse voice estimating the distance to the green zone.

– Me… - she raised her head proudly – I mean, my predecessor –

– The Blackeyed? –

– Yes, it’s me –

– Who are you then? – he asked still not understanding what was going on.

– Loren, it’s me, Jori, but I also have a new task; each new life means a new task, you too…-

Loren mechanically looked at his hands, they weren’t grey – I don’t understand… – he said to her.

– You don’t understand… - Jori copied the tone of his voice – This planet is hostile to us, to every intruder… it protects a great treasure… at almost any price – she explained looking straight into his face.

– And where is the… predecessor, who let us live and gave no chance to the others? –

Jori turned away from him – I don’t know… he disappeared… -

- Jori! – Loren again became watchful, he was afraid that the black shadow would catch him again and…

- Loren, I know what you’re thinking of… I can see and feel now more than you could have ever imagined. Come on, follow me! – The ground in front of her came apart and Jori jumped some ten or more meters down into the opening.

Loren looked at the green horizon of his freedom visible through the air filled in with only a little dust: there was no chance to get there on time… So he jumped after Jori.

---

The landing was not in the best manner, in spite of his hard Asgardian bones, because instead of reaching the bottom he bumped onto the steep stairs. Jori was going downstairs, above her head hung a shaking light. Filled still with pain he went after her, but cautiously kept the distance.

Jori suddenly turned to him – Believe me, we’re alone here, but I warn you: do not try to act against me, you wouldn’t even have the chance to raise your hand… - she went closer to him; in this reddish light her grey skin turned brown.

– She looks now more beautiful than ever before – Loren suddenly thought it not knowing why.

– No! – Jori protested with disgust.

– Jori, I meant nothing wrong…

- I know, let’s go further –

For some time they went in silence. And it was Jori, who decided to break it first – I’ll stay here, while you go back to Asgard… I will secure this planet from the next intruders, and you will have to ensure, that no one of ours decides to visit me here –

– And if some of us land here nevertheless, then what, will you again kill…? –

– Yes – Jori’s answer was short, but Loren was sure, she was serious about it, deadly serious.

– Then Asgard will certainly blow up this planet, you know, that we are capable of that! Even now…-

- You aren’t! Even with that, what I intend to give you. The treasure will be protected forever –

– And what, if some other species appear here, some… intelligent turtles or… – he asked looking around with curiosity as they entered a bigger and brighter room; to his surprise, he wasn’t afraid anymore.

– This is rather not possible, but if such turtles came here, then after some time… most probably only two would be left alive and I could be released –

– Who’s keeping us imprisoned, Jori? – Loren asked whispering.

Jori laughed at that – You still don’t understand, do you? But maybe you’ll have a better understanding if you look into it! – and Jori showed him a cube shining brightly from inside – Take it with both hands, please –

Loren, who had never seen such an intensive source of light within his reach, took it and suddenly he saw another room underground.

---

He saw Jori and Eda and Aton there; Aton lay unconscious on the bottom and Eda cuddled sobbing Jori in his arms, he caressed her and then kissed her on the forehead – No, Eda – Jori said – You’re married –

Eda looked at her – Most probably I was – he answered with a painful look – And now I also need to be comforted, I am sorry, but I always have had a weakness for you… -

Jori, confused, leaned against the wall, that moved back by an inch or two.

They looked at each other – Let’s try to push it again – Eda suggested it.

They tried, but the wall was covered with sharp rows, they had to be cautious as the rows hurt their fingers. Jori after intensive searching found a free place for both hands. Eda didn’t, so he covered her hands with his own, suddenly in-between their hands a light flashed – Wow, it’s quite pleasant – Eda exclaimed.

Jori in this light saw Aton lying on the ground and went to him – He’s alive! – Jori happily turned towards Eda.

But Eda, shaking, in silence was falling apart; soon there was only a pile of the well known ash left. Jori stood rooted to the ground.

Later on, still shocked she sat down next to Aton waiting for her end, but this didn’t happen… The time went on, but to her it seemed insignificant; she sat thoughtlessly and motionlessly, just waiting for the unknown.

---

Finally Aton awakened from his oblivion, he lay quiet for a while, then tried to get up. The dim light, that placed itself at the ceiling changed the color from white to yellow, but neither of the two seemed to notice it – Great, Jori, we’re alive! And I thought myself dead already! We should try to get out – he said touching the wall – Eh! – he had hurt his fingers – Jori, do you know, how deep underground we are? –

– We won’t get out Aton, something here makes our body fall apart, we will turn to ash –

– Ash? Like this? – Aton asked pointing at the pile close to the wall.

– This is Eda –

Aton nervously burst out laughing – Well, I am still OK and I won’t give up. Do you know anything else? –

– Yea, if we touch our hands, a light appears between them, like the one above… -

- Well… let’s try it! -

– What for? – Jori crouched – You already have one hanging above us –

Aton smiled at her and then turned to search throughout the room. Jori fell asleep.

---

- Jori, wake up sleepy, three days have passed already –

– How do you know that? – she got up, stretching her body.

– I don’t know it, I said it to make you curious – he looked at her – Wow Jori, how beautiful you are, and for sure by some hundreds of years younger! –

– And what of that?! – she screamed irritated, then sat down and burst out crying.

Aton sat down next to Jori, took her hand and started to caress it – Well, maybe you’re right, I don’t know, how to get out too – he bowed over her by that and finally he kissed her.

– Aton, no! –

– Why not? – he asked holding her tightly – We are alone here, and… -

---

No… I won’t now present to you their whole conversation, you can figure out by yourself, how it ended – Thor said to the Asgardians, who sat motionlessly – Better let’s go back to Jori and Loren holding the cube… -

---

- I wasn’t able to oppose his attempt to rape me – Jori whispered to Loren – You see, for me all the evil was bound to this planet, therefore the fact, that Aton, the only person left for the last minutes of my life, could be able to hurt me, for me was paralyzing – Jori fell into silence. Then, after some minutes have passed she took a deep breath – My predecessor wasn’t so lenient… - Jori smiled sadly at Loren - He turned him into ash, he… directed Aton’s own evil against Aton’s own body and then made himself disappear –

Loren looked for a while into the cube and then closed his eyes.

– No… watch further, you must understand it fully – Jori rebuked him.

---

When the dark grey ash of Aton rested on the bottom, for Jori it was too much to bear, she sprung to her feet and with trembling hands covered her head, but it didn’t help her, so finally she screamed all her pain at the top of her voice. And she stopped suddenly noticing the steep upwards stairs in front of her. She looked around carefully and slowly, leaning with the right hand on the wall she started to climb up. It was dark there, only far below was seen a faint light. Suddenly she felt someone moving close behind her, she turned back and… saw something that looked like a concentration of ashes.

---

- It radiated with fear, it scared me – Jori whispered faintly to Loren - As if all the default thoughts of Aton condensed in its central being. I felt its desire to feed on me tearing apart my body after that, to the smallest cell. It wanted to swallow me into its being, all my mind, my identity, leaving the body for the time being intact for some ill use, known only to itself… It rooted first in my heels, but then moved quickly upwards inside my body and… –

Loren’s hands trembled, he saw in the cube the shadow consuming Jori’s shaking body.

– And then my consciousness, so desperate after so many scarring experiences, and my desire to keep myself alive - both concentrated on their defense and I screamed again:

---

- You’ll never possess me! –

---

Loren saw the shadow reaching already to her throat…

---

– Even if II haad too staaaay heeeere fooooor eeeeeveeeer! –

---

Loren sat down impressed as Jori spoke the last sentence slowly and in a totally strange voice, unnaturally deep; none in Asgard could speak that way.

---

The shadow disappeared as suddenly as it appeared. Jori on the stairs vomited heavily, then after several minutes of crying and screaming she slowly continued to climb upstairs.

---

Jori took the cube out of Loren’s hands – Above, there was another room; when I entered it, I saw light, but it… has been in my head already, shining brightly, warm, nice and making me feel secure… and it was somehow alive… When it disappeared, I saw everything clearly, I knew where I was, what I shall do. And I saw you, bathed in streams of rain –

– And this shadow, this… smoky being, is it dead? – Loren tried to sound firmly although he was deeply moved.

Jori shrugged – It’s gone since I have received this light… Do not be afraid… Although I must admit that I feel as if I have failed to notice something –

It took Loren some time to gather his thoughts in silence – I am very sorry Jori… for Aton and for other men in this world – he said finally getting up.

– That means for you? – Jori laughed.

– Yes, for me also Jori, for me also… - Loren bowed to Jori – Only, I don’t know how to get back to Asgard without our ship –

– Well… take the Tesseract with both hands and think of your home… and never ever come back here – Jori stretched out her hands with the cube.

– Tesseract…? You mean this cube… Now? Right away? – Loren asked surprised.

– Yes, do it now, right away – Jori repeated after him mimicking his voice.

---

- So this was about searching for a new world for us – Thor finished his story – We’ve stayed here and in fact neither us nor the Hairies have ever tried to land on that planet ever since. Jori’s fate gets to know probably each king of Asgard; she may still be living there, or maybe she had left it to a new comer. We owe her much: since then the Tesseract has helped us, it’s a great treasure; maybe there was no more magnificent thing on this planet, as I’ve never heard other races disposing of such cube; Tesseract’s energy, well yes, is commonly used, even by the Midheimers, but only this cube transfers visions of events in all times and opens the passage -

---

Asgardians thanked the king by clicking the tongues, then turned back to their usual conversations, but only seemingly: from time to time Thor heard some comments to his story. Although their tradition didn’t allow them to question the king after he had told the story, Thor knew they were shaken; he was too, when for the first time he was shown Joris’ story. Well, it was good for all of them: ill experiences were a kind of warning… for the future’s sake.
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Joined: 27 Nov 2007, 17:07

20 Jul 2015, 10:15 #17

Great entries ewkada and BT!
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xMatt
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xMatt
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Joined: 28 Apr 2014, 11:02

21 Jul 2015, 09:26 #18

“We need a pilot!”

That’s how it always starts, Captain Carol Danvers thought to herself, folding her arms over her chest as she floated in zero gravity. With someone asking for something.

“There are at least eight other pilots in that hangar of yours alone, General,” Carol replied, with a hint of a smile. She knew how much it infuriated her once-commanding officer. “So why ask me? Not a very good show of faith in some of your men, is it?”

He went to say something and then stopped.

Lifting a thin, blonde eyebrow, she asked, “Hot under the collar, General? I haven’t been to the Air Base in years. You haven’t installed the air conditioning, yet?”

The Air Base that she had been stationed on during her early years had started as a small place, out of the way. Mostly used for training the new recruits, like herself and her old wingman, Alex Summers. But now, the Air Base had become one of the most important among the American military. The main reason being General Babbage, one of the most decorated among the Government, had seen fit to elevate its status. Now, hundreds of planes and pilots flew from that base, under the command of its taskmaster General. And here he was now dressed in his finest greens, his badges shining through the camera of his broadcast with sweat beading down his puffy and wrinkled face.

His eyes went to the side, as if in embarrassment. But he made it look like he was watching some of his pilots moving crates and equipment throughout the hangar. At last, he said, “There was much discussion about which pilots would be appropriate for this special operation, especially considering the amount of funding being put into it.”

“Why do I get the feeling, General,” Carol mused, “that you weren’t entirely happy with the decision that your peers came to?”

“Well, that’s the thing Danvers,” Babbage snapped, quickly losing his temper as well as his cool, “it wasn’t my peers who decided. It was yours.”

Carol turned, peering over her shoulder. Easier said than done, considering the bulky space suit she was wearing. There were a bunch of other engineers and pilots behind her, milling about and moving around. In a way, it reflected the hangar in Babbage’s Air Base; except that hers wasn’t in the middle of a desert ... hers was just outside of Earth’s orbit. It had been five weeks of space training and conditioning getting used to the habits in zero gravity, but now, she was absolutely confident in each of her movements. But the damn space suit was a hassle and not entirely flattering to her body shape.

“Your peers and,” Babbage went on, through gritted teeth, “other, generous benefactors. Among them was the Latverian government, while the other was an organisation known as SWORD. Have you heard of them?”

“They’ve been mentioned around the NASA base here,” Carol admitted. Her interest piqued, she continued, “But I can’t say I know who, or what, they are. But I’m guessing you’re about to tell me. You do so love a lecture.”

The General snorted, “I see my lecture on respect didn’t get through that thick skull of yours.”

“What can I say?” She jibed, “It never reached the skull in the first place. This blonde hair is like a helmet from logic and reason. They’ll be willing to hear about SWORD, though.”

“I’ll let SWORD tell you about SWORD,” Babbage replied, gruffly. “They’re to pick you up within the next forty eight hours. My job is to brief you on the mission at hand.”

“Why me, though? I mean, I’ll be the first to tell you I’m a great pilot, but I haven’t actually been in a plane in years. I was working as a field agent for the CIA. And this security job with NASA—“

“Was an audition, it turns out. You and I both know you’re more than just a pilot, Danvers and that it takes more than a plane to make a good one. As much as I hate admitting it,” he added under his breath. Then, he cleared his throat and went on, “The real reason is that you have something else that my pilots don’t.”

“Great hair? A sharp wit? A intense dislike of authority?”

“Space training in zero gravity, for one,” Babbage grumbled. “It would take over a month to prepare my pilots down here. That is time we just do not have. Especially when the fate of our planet is at stake. Captain Danvers, you’re being called upon to save the world.”

For the first time in a long time, Carol was left speechless.

xMatt Presents...
The Outstanding Captain Marvel #1
First Flight – Part One: “Into the Light”

Stars became mere streaks in a backdrop of darkness, as Carol raced toward her death.

That was an understatement for what she was looking at now. The Obelisk was a fitting reflection of its namesake, a massive rectangular structure that looked as if it could have been made from various bits of stone. Of course, this was anything but the truth. The jagged and rugged edges of the Obelisk, looking like the exterior of the Egyptian pyramids, weren’t stone; they were various bits of metal, collected across a dozen different worlds, throughout two different Empires. The Kree spared no expense when it came to the business of annihilation. Probably why they’re so good at it, Carol thought to herself.

Well, at least they found something other than red for me to wear. Though it was tight fitting, it certainly gave her more confidence than wearing the typical red jackets of her new allies. While there was red on the top and trimmed with gold most of it was dark blue, woven tightly and hugging her waist and thighs. She had a red scarf around her neck, catching the sweat in her warm cockpit and a red and blue helmet resting between her blue-clad legs. She pulled her long, blonde hair into a ponytail, clearing her vision and allowing her to see the doom that awaited her.

The Obelisk and the Kree’s forces, compared to her own, made it feel like a typical David and Goliath story. Except, David had forgotten to bring his slingshot and Goliath had brought a buzz saw that could tear planets apart from the inside out. With a steely determination, she banished the negative thoughts from her mind. Looking at her radial scanner, she saw the four ships flying behind her. They each had their designation, coming from a line out of the ship. Three names belonged to Torfan pilots, named Tic, Bee and Gil. The fourth was a Drenx native, who identified as Sydren. She had met all four of them and gotten to know them as best she could in the last two days since arriving at SWORD’s base.

Which was a colossal mistake, she figured. Already, she was feeling the weight of responsibility to take care of them. Not just because she was their Captain, but because she didn’t want anything bad to happen to them. She’d seen what bad piloting did to her old partner, she saw what the horrors of battle did to those who weren’t prepared for it ... regardless of these SWORD pilots’ training ... she didn’t want to see them hurt. Or worse. This mission was her responsibility and the weight of it carried on her shoulders like the world, itself. Especially when failure meant actually losing the world.

“Orders, Captain?” Bee asked, in a somewhat stifled voice. He had his helmet on, Carol figured. “We have not yet been detected by the Obelisks’ scanners.”

That was the other thing that came with command. It meant everyone looked to her for guidance. She felt uncomfortable with it. This was a team of pilots who were used to being led by Special Agent Jessica Drew. But instead of being in a cockpit herself, she was now watching the operation through the many cameras in the SWORD base. Now, all of a sudden, she had been called in and was expected to be able to handle each of them. So at first, she didn’t know how to respond. She knew what she would have done, if she were flying solo, but with a team of four others?

“Captain?” Bee asked, again.

Oh, Carol, she thought to herself, what have you gotten yourself into this time?
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

“SWORD,” the raven haired woman began, “or the Sentient World Observation and Response Department, is a counter-terrorism and intelligence organisation dedicated to defending the planet from extraterrestrial threats. Our headquarters is known as the Peak. But this is not the Peak and we are not, exactly, SWORD.”

“So, if this isn’t the Peak and you aren’t SWORD, what is this? And who are you?” Carol asked, taking in the wonders of the space station around them.

She had arrived in her dusty, weathered old Air Force jacket. And couldn’t help but feel out of place. Everything was clean. As in, Carol could see her reflection in the metal walls, clean. There were bright lights that would have scrutinised everything else, would have spotted the dust and the grime. But there was none to be seen. Instead, the lights offered the hallways a maroon illumination, one that was slightly unnerving to Carol, at first. To match the lights, everyone she saw was wearing a red shirt, or red top, of some variation and each had the image of an upward blade, emblazoned over their hearts. Eventually, as she was escorted by the woman, her eyes adjusted to the light. She almost didn’t notice it at all, now and she’d only been there for a few minutes. What she couldn’t get used to however, were seeing things that were not human.

Like a tiger, walking around on its hind legs and reading information off a computer, embedded in one of the walls.

“SWORD is the umbrella organisation that oversees its two smaller divisions, with the third currently in development. They all serve their own purpose, helping further SWORD’s goals. The two are known as Hilt and the Sheath. The third is the Edge. We are the Hilt—“

Before Jessica could finish, Carol couldn’t help but ask, “What does it stand for?”

“It stands for security and peace—“

“No, no,” she interjected once more. Shaking her head, she added, “What is ‘Hilt’ an anagram for?”

“It isn’t an anagram for anything.”

Carol chuckled, slightly. “OK, so you’re part of the Hilt. Whatever happened to good old anagrams like CIA? I guess you guys just really like your weapon metaphors. This is SWORD and I know there’s SHIELD. So we’re just waiting for the HAMMER to drop, right? Anyway. I meant who are you, specifically?”

When they had first met, both women had given each other what Carol had come to call the ‘rundown’. Not of information, but of each other. As if they were opposing works of art, held in comparison, both women had their eyes run down each other’s bodies. Immediately, the comparisons arose in Carol’s mind. While Carol had long, blonde hair, Jessica’s was silky and black, with light curls at the bottom. Her eyes were steel, placed upon a body of marble flesh – and what a body it was. Despite being hidden behind a crimson coat, Carol could see her athletic figure, honed from years of special training.

Carol wished she had washed her hair that morning and that she hadn’t spent the last day trapped in the tight confines of the ship, especially when held before such a gorgeous woman.

“I am Special Agent Jessica Drew,” she replied. “And I will be your handler for this mission.”

“So you’re not a pilot?” Carol asked, as her eyes lingered on a lizard crawling along the ground. No one else paid it any attention though, so it must have been on their team.

Jessica smiled for the first time Carol had seen her. “I am a pilot, actually.”

“Why don’t you fly anymore?”

“I was...” Jessica hesitated, “promoted. And now that you’re here, I won’t be needed out there. So, thanks.”

“Are you being sarcastic?” Carol asked, narrowing her blue eyes on Jessica’s green ones. “Or are you genuinely thankful? It’s hard to tell with your ... face. And I see your red jacket isn’t a fashion choice, its protocol. Haven’t you guys ever seen Star Trek? If you had, you’d know wearing red in space never ends well.”

Then, there was a beeping noise. Jessica reached into her red jacket’s chest pocket, retrieving a small circular object. She pressed the button in the middle and immediately, a sharp voice came out: “Special Agent Drew! Report!”

“Special Agent Brand,” Jessica said, the smile all but gone from her face. Her voice droned as she responded, “I have Captain Danvers with us now. She’s been briefed on the mission by General Babbage, but she’s yet to receive our latest intel.”

“About time,” the voice that belonged to Brand replied. “Make sure you have everything covered, Drew. We need our Warbirds out in the sky within the next forty two hours and if they aren’t, there’ll be hell to pay – and worse, I’m guessing. We’re running on Kree time, not yours.”

“I understand that, Special Agent. I’ll have her briefed immediately.”

“See that it’s done.” The light then flickered off and Jessica placed the object back into her chest pocket.

“And that,” Jessica said, turning back to face Carol, a wicked grin on her pale face, “is why I’m thankful. After today, it’ll be you she reports to, not me.”

“Ah,” Carol nodded, realising. “You hate your boss, too? Same here. I think we’re going to bond very well over the fact that we hate our bosses. Do you like Orange is the New Black? Because if you do, I think you might be BFF material.”

“First, I have no idea what Orange is the New Black is. Some kind of fashion trend? Second, I have no idea what BFF is. Is that slang? If so, it’s stupid.”

“Wait.” Carol stopped walking, forcing Jessica to turn around. With a low voice, Carol asked, “You don’t have TV? What about Internet?”

“I’ve been living on a space station for the last ten years. Watching TV isn’t really a priority. And just where do you think we’ll be getting Internet up here? All of our systems are linked the Peak, as well as communications and any other tech needs. Besides. We have work to do up here.”

“I understand that, but surely there’s something you do for fun.”

“We spend, at most, three days here on Station Alpha. The rest of the time, we’re out there,” Jessica said, waving her arm to nothing in particular, “in space. Doing missions, liaising with new, alien races or building things on foreign planets. So when we are back on Station Alpha, we spend it sleeping or receiving new orders to prepare for.”

“But what about...” Carol asked, nervously, “you know. Fun.

“You mentioned Star Trek before, right? Let’s just say Captain Kirk isn’t the only one who finds aliens attractive.”

“That’s actually a thing?” When Jessica nodded, Carol let out a breath of astonishment. Then, she added, “And you’ve been doing this for ten years? With no TV, no Internet and no Kardashians? That’s like ... the twenty first century version of living under a rock. Although you aren’t missing much regarding the Kardashians. I mean the mission stuff sounds great, but even on Earth, once we were done with a tour, we could communicate with friends and family, or even go home. It doesn’t sound like you get anything like that up here.”

“It takes a certain kind of person to stay in a job like this. So, for people like me,” Jessica answered, sombrely, “a job like this is perfect.”
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

“Maintain close proximity,” Carol finally decided. It didn’t matter that they weren’t used to her as a leader, right? All that mattered was that she made the right decisions. That she succeeded here. She was talented enough, smart enough and good enough, to make the best of this. She wouldn’t let the team down. More importantly, she wouldn’t let herself down. “We’ll dip down, out of the range of their scanners and maintain our presence below. We need to get in perfect position, to sneak aboard.”

“Yes, Captain,” they all said at once.

Then, there was a private line that opened up on the side of her Warbird’s dashboard. An octagonal image appeared and the red, lizard-like face of Sydren appeared. “I am sssensing,” he said, in that strange, distant voice of his, “great anxiety from you, Captain. Isss there anything I can do to releassse the ssstresss?”

“Well, unless you’ve got an iPod in that ship of yours,” Carol chuckled, more out of nerves than anything else, “I doubt it.”

“I don’t know about an iPod,” Sydren replied, with a wide grin, “but I underssstand you want musssic?”

“Yes. Music would be good.”

“A favourite of Earthlings, then,” Sydren said. Slowly, violins started to play through the radio. One of those Beethovens, or Rachmaninoffs of Mozarts or whatever. “I am connected with the communications system, feeding my telepathic powers through it. I hope this musssic soothesss you.”

“Not a fan, actually Sydren,” she replied. “So unless you’ve something a little more upbeat, it just won’t do.

“I think I have sssomething in mind. Rather, in your mind. Yesss,” Sydren replied, as the violins faded. They were quickly replaced with a far more upbeat tune. “Let us sssave the world to Bon Jovi.”

“Oh, this most certainly will do,” Carol answered happily, as ‘Living on a Prayer’ began to play across their communication system.

The drums, the guitars, the whooping vocals. Everything Carol needed to get pumped for the mission ahead. A thought ran through her mind, This could be the last song I ever hear. If it was, it was wildly appropriate. Carol noticed that even Gil, the horned alien, seemed to enjoy the music, thrumming his fingers along his dashboard, the sound of it coming through their shared radio. If Tic enjoyed it, though, she made no mention. Carol didn’t let the Debbie Downer douse her spirits. But what was to come next, certainly would.

“Captain!” Bee called out, hastily. His voice was sharp and the point, cutting through the epic chorus. “It is the weapon! They’re releasing the weapon!”

“Ah crap,” Carol grunted, just as the guitar solo exploded into full force. “That wasn’t part of the plan.”
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Even though it was their first meeting, it was obvious to Carol that there was more to Jessica than her ‘rundown’ had provided. Whatever history she had, she was using SWORD, or the Hilt, or whatever, to escape it. Carol couldn’t really blame her – it was a choice Jessica Drew had made and it was one that she had stuck to. Perseverance and dedication were easily Jessica’s two best attributes. And her hair, but that went without saying. Carol wondered if she could have done the same, lived on a space station for a decade.

No way. Need to watch the new season of OITNB, she thought. Can’t give that up for anything. Even, ironically, saving the world.

The Special Agent must have sensed a lull in the conversation, so she said, “Come on, we’re not far, now.” As she continued to lead the way, the professional talk came to a halt. Instead, Jessica asked, “I thought you were Security Head at NASA. That would make you your own boss, right?”

“I was talking about Babbage,” Carol answered. “He was one of those know-it-all XOs. Can never be wrong and even when he is, he’ll spin it to make it sound like he’s right. And I had a few handlers in the CIA that were the same. Still had a problem with female operatives.”

“Why am I not surprised?” Jessica quipped. “It’s different with SWORD. At least, not with the aliens. Most of them don’t have a problem with male or female. Or even with us being human. It’s the humans that have problems with other humans. But let me get this straight. I read your file and from what you’ve just told me, you were Air Force first, then CIA and then NASA.”

“And now SWORD.”

If Jessica were impressed, she did her best to hide it. She said, “Years upon years of duty, all in different forces. What inspires someone to live a life like that?”

Half-sarcastically and half-not, Carol replied, “And how long have you been with SWORD?”

“I told you. Almost a decade, now.”

Carol then shrugged, turning the question on her handler. “Well, what possibly inspires someone to live their life in a space station, off world, for almost a decade?”

“I think I see the point you’re making,” Jessica nodded, as they arrived at a set of doors. Carol noticed this wasn’t CIC, where she thought she’d be receiving the bulk of her intel. It was, instead, the barracks. “Come inside, Captain. There are some people you should meet.”

“Wait, what?” Carol interjected, before stepping inside. She grabbed Jessica’s hand, stopping her, as well. The Special Agent looked down, slowly and almost threateningly. Carol quickly let go. “Sorry. It’s just that I thought I’d be flying alone. I didn’t think I’d have a partner, let alone a team.”

“You can’t fly out there by yourself, Captain. Is there a problem?”

Yes, Carol figured. There absolutely is a problem.

“No,” she lied, “there’s absolutely no problem.”

“Alright,” Jessica said, as they moved inside. As soon as they did, the lights dimmed. “In that case, it’s time to meet the team.”

The doors slid open and Carol saw four humanoid-type aliens seated around an octagonal table. Smoke was rising from ashtrays or cigarette-looking devices hanging out of one’s mouth. Carol was dumbfounded for at least a good minute, while she and Jessica stood in the doorway. The four aliens didn’t seem to notice them, instead, they were continuing with their game. Each of them were holding what looked like metal cards, slightly indented with different scratches and pictures, with a bunch of round chips on the table, as if they were gambling. Perhaps they were.

“I’ll throw down two,” the largest of the aliens said. He had two horns, like a ram’s, coming from his forehead. He wore a scowl, slightly obscured by a wispy, brown beard. Shirtless, Carol saw his muscular frame rippling with sweat and also that his long beard disappearing into his thick chest hair. “Anyone game enough?”

“You’re adventurous, Gil,” a lithe, pale-green skinned alien replied. A Mohawk of black hair adorned her angular face. She slid forward two of her round chips, smiling wryly, “Looking forward to stinking for a week, huh?”

“You know me, Tic. I never make a bet,” Gil shot back, throwing down his metal cards with fervour. “That I can’t pay!”

“Then pay up, horn-head,” Tic guffawed, as she brought her own cards to the table .There was a cheer from the two other aliens, one a block-headed, pale-grey and the other looking like a red lizard. The same, in fact, that she had seen crawling through the hallway. “I win again!”

“Are they gambling?” Carol asked, as she eventually regained control of herself. Still getting used to the whole aliens at the dinner table thing. “For what?”

“The only thing that comes close to currency in this place,” Jessica shrugged. “Their hot water vouchers.”

“Should they be doing that?”

“Probably not,” Jessica answered. “But it’s how they have fun. Who am I to stop them? Besides, it’s not me who isn’t going to have a hot shower.” She then cleared her throat, took a step forward and announced, “Officer on deck!”

Immediately, the four of them leapt up from their tables, standing at attention: ankles together, with their fists on top of each other, as if they were holding an actual sword over their chest. Then, Tic nudged Gil, letting out a, “Phew! You stink already, Gil! Maybe I’ll give you back your vouchers ... don’t know if the base could handle that stench for a whole week!”

“Warbirds,” Jessica said, presenting Carol by pushing her forward. “Meet your new Captain. Her name is Carol Danvers, former Air Force, former CIA and currently working with NASA. She’ll be leading you out against the Kree’s forces. Now, Carol, I’d like you to meet the Warbirds.

“First up is Gil, ex-Torfan gladiator and persistent thorn in the Kree Empire’s side. He’s now our munitions specialist and self-professed weapons tester.”

“Someone needs to do the hard work,” he joked.

“And here is Tic,” Jessica said, moving down the line. “Originally from Nowlian, before her planet was destroyed by the very people we’re trying to stop. She transferred to Torfa, where we found her in shuttle races. You won’t find a more talented flier in the entire system.”

“Or a better looking one,” she added, intentionally pulling an ugly face.

“This is B-329, Bee, a Sentimault by way of Torfa, as well,” Jessica said, patting the third alien on his TV-like head. “Our best on-field analyst. Can decode information, hack systems and refer it back to us in real time.”

“Better than a computer,” Bee replied with a grin. “Because I tell jokes, too. Do you want to hear one?”

“No!” Everyone – including Jessica – howled.

“You’re no fun...” Bee grumbled.

“And lastly,” Jessica said, standing beside the red-skinned lizard. “We have Sydren. While the other three are specifically designated to the Hilt, Sydren works for SWORD and all its divisions. He’s on loan for us this week, to get the job done, considering his unique talents...”

“Which are?” Carol asked.

Sydren smiled at her, just as a voice spoke in her head. “Telepathy, mostly. And I make a delicious mud cake.”

“He just told you he makes a delicious mud cake, didn’t he?” Gil asked. He quickly shook his head and added, “Don’t believe him. On his planet, they actually eat mud.”

“I’ll need all of you in the briefing room in ten,” Jessica informed them. She turned on her heel and, as she exited the room, called out, “So that means you have to put a shirt on, Gil.”
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

It had all so quickly, gone to hell.

“Scanners are picking up four hostiles—“ Bee started, before he was cut off by Tic’s sharp voice.

“We know, Bee!” She replied. “Maybe instead of telling us about them, just shoot them!”

“I can do that,” Bee answered.

With each passing moment, her heart raced faster. This is why I prefer to work alone, she thought to herself. Even when she had been part of the team hunting the terrorist, Winter Soldier, it was the same: she had done her best to protect the Inspector, her best to make sure Falcon was safe because she didn’t think they were good enough. And, of course, to save Captain America himself. But in the air, it was different and in space, even more so. One shot, one miscalculation, would result in their deaths, for certain. That was all it took ... and so, when the enemies filtered out from the sides of the unleashed weapon, the Obelisk, Carol’s heart caught in her throat.

Thankfully, her team was as good as she had been promised. When the fighting began, none of them shirked in their duties and, if they were frightened, they didn’t show it. Instead, they broke formations and returned fire with deadly accuracy. The Warbirds lived true to their namesake, deadly weapons in the hands of capable pilots. Gil and Tic were the first to strike, taking the lead and forming a ‘V’ formation with the rest of the team. Sydren remained at the far back, along with Bee, the two of them sending and relaying the information back to Jessica Drew.

Who was hailing them now: “Captain, the readings are showing the Obelisk is weaponised! You cannot allow it to continue! The planet—“

“I know the deal, Special Agent Drew,” Carol shot back, as she barrelled sideways, avoiding heavy fire. “It won’t get any further than this. I promise.”

The Obelisk had opened up, the weapon being pushed out. Veins of light spread through it, enough power to destroy all of Earth. Looking around, she saw the rest of the Warbirds caught in the battle. They were being overwhelmed. For all their planning and preparation, it had still come to this. Their lives on the line ... the lives of everyone on Earth on the line ... she couldn’t let her team down. She was their leader, their Captain. The one named Marvel, who would claim only failures to her title. Well, if it were easy... she decided, pushing her own Warbird into the fray. Everyone would be doing it.

“Captain!” She saw Sydren pop up on her dashboard, once again trapped within the octagonal frame. “I can sssee your thoughts! You musssn’t do thisss!”

“You got any other ideas?” Carol retorted, flanking an enemy ship and destroying it. Wings clipped, it exploded with in a burst of red light. She saw Tic’s ship zoom out, unharmed. “Because I’m all ears, Sydren.”

Locking on, she saw that Gil was in pursuit of another enemy ship. Before he had the chance, Carol opened fire and destroyed his target. Those red lights glistened along her window, illuminating her cockpit in a flare of crimson. She zoomed straight through it, all the while hearing Gil berated her about how he was going to destroy the ship and how it was his target and blah blah blah. There was only one course of action that would end this. Setting her sights on the Obelisk’s weapon, she accelerated faster than she ever had before.

“I thought these Gardeners were tough,” Carol guffawed, piloting expertly. “They aren’t so bad!”

Like bees from a hive, dozens of Gardener ships emerged from the Obelisk at once.

“OK, I’ll admit, that was my bad,” Carol sighed, her grin immediately gone. “Alright, the plan has changed, obviously. You want orders? I’ve got just one. It’s simple: keep them off me.”

“Sydren!” She heard Tic call out through the radio. “What in Obsidian is she doing?”

“You know what we have in our ships, Tic,” Carol replied, flatly. She avoided more shots, flipping over the top of them. Flying upside down, she returned fire and destroyed her attacker with interest. “And that ship is minutes away from going Death Star on us! Right, Bee? Way I see it, there’s only one way out of this. And that’s using our precious cargo.”

“...Death Star?” Bee muttered in confusion.

“But, Cap, if you’re doing what I think you’re doing,” Gil grumbled, still angry over her stealing his kill, “you aren’t getting out of this!”

It was then that the Earthling pilot turned her radio off. She’d had enough of their arguing. She was the Captain of the team, which meant her word was gospel. Well, she figured, better me than all four of you, anyway.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

“They’re called the Builders,” Jessica said, as a three dimensional holographic image formed in front of them. Long and thick, with a rounded end, Carol also noticed that there were three different parts of the long construct that were circled with red light. “They command a mighty force, known as the Gardeners and this is their primary tool: the Incursion Obelisk. Should they succeed, Earth would not be the first planet they’ve torn apart, in order to build the Kree Empire over it.”

“I can attest to that.” Tic’s voice was filled with rage and sorrow in her voice, all at once. “Created a white hole that obliterated my home planet, Nowlian, within seconds.”

“So how did you survive?”

Tic turned away, silent.

SWORD were well outfitted and well funded. The kind of technology Jessica was operating wasn’t exactly handed out to anyone, not even NASA. Carol had heard rumours from her days in the CIA that SHIELD were privy to things like this and only because men like Hank Pym and Reed Richards had lent the technology to them. But what they had in technology, they most certainly lacked in furniture and interior decorating. And, considering Tic’s response to Carol’s question, good trauma support. The room was sparse, with little attention paid to the chairs, which were rigid and plain metal. The lights were mere instalments in the wall and though they were dimmed now, they had given off a pale glow when they were on, earlier.

“You know,” Carol said, tipping her head to the side, eyes on the Obelisk. Wanting to brighten the mood, she said, jokingly, “From this angle, it kind of looks like a—“

Jessica cleared her throat. “Let’s stay on track, shall we, Captain?” Lifting a dark eyebrow, she went quickly went on. “This intel comes from a reliable source, a princess and pop star, goes by the name of Lila Cheney. She tells us the Builders are one of the oldest races known in the universe. And, it just so happens, that their vision of perfection aligns with the Kree’s vision for their Empire. And, if that isn’t ominous enough, they’re cooperating with a Prince of Aladna, guy named Yan. A vengeful, power hungry and cruel leader, he’s exhausted the patience of his people. So he’s decided to take everyone else’s. And, especially with the Kree homeworld, Hala, currently under occupation by a mechanical monstrosity, they are seeking new avenues for refuge.”

“Homesss mussst burn,” Sydran said, “for the Kree to reign. Ever hasss thisss been the way.”

“The three biggest, baddest kids in the galactic neighbourhood, joining forces,” Gil said, to each of them. “Not to be underestimated. Two of my friends are in a burial pod to prove it, shot straight to Obsidian by a battalion of Gardeners.”

“Starting to sound like, for a lot of you, this is personal,” Carol noted, as the holographic image shifted. The round end of the Obelisk opened up, revealing the weapon inside.

“Of course it is,” Jessica said, for each of them. “And it’s going to be personal for us, too, Carol, considering its next destination. Now, according to Cheney, the Incursion Obelisk takes three minutes to completely weaponise. That means you have a three window gap to destroy the weapon, before it can activate. Running out of time is not an option, so we’ve outfitted the Warbirds with energon-nukes. It won’t be enough to pierce the Obelisk’s exterior, but if you can breach the weapons defences, you’ll be able to destroy it.”

“That’s a suicide mission,” Bee noted. He did the calculations with his fingers, saying, “The evac protocol in the Warbirds won’t be fast enough to escape before the nuke blows. If my math is correct, the pilot—“

“Your math is correct, Bee. When it is it not? So the nukes are a last resort,” Jessica advised. “But you can’t let it get that far. See these two red circles, here and here? They’re both exit points for the Builders’ ships. You could probably find your way in through there, get on board and detach the weapon before the Prince and his team can weaponise it. That’s the plan, understand? Engage with the enemy if you must, but know this: the Builders’ technology far outclasses our own. While our Warbirds might be state-of-the-art war machines, the Kree Empire have been doing this for thousands of years. And the Builders, even longer than that: their Gardeners have obliterated forces stronger than our own.”

“So, what you’re saying is,” Gil began, folding his burly arms, “either way, we’re all kinds of screwed.”

“I see you’ve been brushing up on your Earthling vernacular,” Jessica answered. “Dismal and defeatist as it may be. But yes, you’re screwed. This is why it is important you remain out of the range of their scanners. If they get even a hint of you—“

Tic snorted. “A hint? They’ll be getting the whole whiff, considering Gil’s stench.”

Gil was well armed with his own quip, though, returning, “Well, one look at your face and they’ll hyperspace the other way, I guarantee it.”

“Ah,” Sydran sighed, turning to whisper to Carol, “if they only sssaw what I sssaw in their minds, they wouldn’t be fighting as they are.”

“Any questions?” Jessica asked, addressing the room.

“I have one,” Carol said, lifting a hand. “Do I have to wear the red shirt? Do you have any other colours that are less, you know, cursed?”

“We probably have some black tights lying around.”

“Ew, no thanks,” Carol answered, shaking her head. “Never been a fan. Tights are not pants.”

“Well, I’m sure we can find something. Now, the Prince and his Builders are set to arrive in forty-one, make that forty, hours,” Jessica said, checking the watch on her red gloved wrist. “Run sims in the meantime, make peace with whatever God you hold dear, or drink yourself under the table. Doesn’t matter to me, so long as you’re all prepared when that Obelisk makes its way into our air space.”

As the hologram faded, Carol mentioned, “You don’t really inspire confidence, do you?”

“No,” Jessica replied, sternly. “That’s your job, Captain.”

“I don’t know about you,” Gil said, approaching Carol. He wore a cheeky grin, beneath his bushy beard, “But drinking myself under the table sounds like fun. Care to join?”

To Gil’s amusement and joy, Carol answered, “Yeah. Sure. But not before we find you body spray.”
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

In her years as a pilot, she’d never had the luxury of silence. On Earth, the jet engines would roar beneath her, the air would whoosh past the wings and the nose of her fighter and there would always be that voice coming through the speakers, either belonging to her co-pilot or her XO. But here, in the blackness of space, silence was all there was. She saw the Warbirds open fire on the enemy Gardeners; she saw explosions and gunshots blazing to her side. Tic and Gil were roaring with triumph, no doubt. Bee was computing and calculating and Sydran ... well, she was glad, at least, that he wasn’t bombarding her with telepathic thoughts.

This is it, girl, Carol thought, as she zoomed through the destruction of war around her, this is what you were born to do.

All her life, she felt held back. Protocols, fears, attitudes ... they stalked her, wherever she went. Throughout high school, her family denied her ability. Through military training, she was forever living under the fear that she would never amount to her father. And then, throughout her many careers, there was always some rule, or some officer, telling her what and what not to do. Well, not here. For the first time, truly, this was Carol making a decision through her own volition. The Earth was at stake. Tic, Gil, Bee and Sydran were under threat.

I’d never really been a good team player, anyway, Carol realised. All evidence to the contrary, she was better on her own. Better by herself, because that meant she only had one person to look out for. She didn’t have to worry about saving everyone else. Instead, all she could focus on was the mission. It started with Alex being discharged and had come, now, to her being given charge of her own.

Looking at her scanners, she saw that the Warbirds had begun their evacuation. The Obelisk’s weapon was brimming with white light, the power that would destroy everything she ever knew. She opened fire, removing the last Gardener that was impeding her path. Nothing to stop her, now. Dodging enemy blasts, zipping between Gardener ships, approaching the Incursion Obelisk ... a final thought, a strange thought, crossed her mind.

Damn. I’m never going to find out what happens in Orange is the New Black.

Her Warbird rocketed into the white light ... and the energon-nuke exploded upon impact.

...NEXT?
Outstanding Marvel Team Up - your favourite heroes (and villains) all in one fan fic!
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MsMarvelDuckie
Inhuman
Joined: 28 Nov 2007, 20:55

21 Jul 2015, 18:29 #19

Great entry, xMatt! And to everyone else, too! It's gonna be a tough call this month!
"Well, this is another fine myth you've gotten us into..."
-from "Myth Directions"

"Where Science ends, magic begins." -Spiral, Uncanny X-Men #491
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darktruth
Neo
Joined: 08 Dec 2011, 13:45

22 Jul 2015, 21:08 #20

Got a Pixie story on the way, hopefully up tonight.
"Don't Act Too Paranoid Or They'll Know You're Onto Them."

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ewkada
Inhuman
Joined: 21 Dec 2013, 01:44

22 Jul 2015, 23:20 #21

I've just corrected one name in my story,
if that makes me fall out I will accept it (saddly)
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Miles_Warren
Eternal
Joined: 24 Feb 2013, 00:05

22 Jul 2015, 23:27 #22

ewkada @ Jul 22 2015, 11:20 PM wrote: I've just corrected one name in my story,
if that makes me fall out I will accept it (saddly)
No worries ewkada. Minor edits are acceptable. Your story still stands :thbsup:
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Miles_Warren
Eternal
Joined: 24 Feb 2013, 00:05

22 Jul 2015, 23:27 #23

darktruth @ Jul 22 2015, 09:08 PM wrote: Got a Pixie story on the way, hopefully up tonight.
Can't wait DT [happy]
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ewkada
Inhuman
Joined: 21 Dec 2013, 01:44

22 Jul 2015, 23:41 #24

Miles_Warren @ Jul 22 2015, 05:27 PM wrote:
ewkada @ Jul 22 2015, 11:20 PM wrote: I've just corrected one name in my story,
if that makes me fall out I will accept it (saddly)
No worries ewkada. Minor edits are acceptable. Your story still stands :thbsup:
Miles, thank you!
that name was totally wrong, I just couldn't stand it there
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ewkada
Inhuman
Joined: 21 Dec 2013, 01:44

22 Jul 2015, 23:46 #25

Ha! And I read 2 stories - Feral's and Duckie's:
lovely pieces, and crunchy! :snack: :snack:
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