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[Actual Play, NSFData] Marvel's Agents of STRIKE - S04E09: "In From the Cold"

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    The slipjet lands in the blasted remains of Saqqara, at coordinates that X-51 provided to Andros. Following those directions, they find a rubbled cave. The super-strong members of the team easily clear the entrance.

    They enter the cave. This feels so familiar. They've literally been here before.

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    "MAN," Miles announces, walking through sunlit eddies of dust as he enters the tomb. "I SURE HOPE NOBODY THWARTS OUR MAD PLAN TO WAKE UP THE ENDER OF LIFE. ESPECIALLY IF HE HAD A COOL GLOWING EYE."

    "Dial it back, Chief."

    But Julian has already joined in. "Gee, Miles. Do you think we might get stopped by someone with a man-sized gun? And let me just clarify that by man-sized, I mean it's the size of a man, and not that it is man-portable."

    "I gotta take my yuks where I can get them, Elise," Miles says. Then, more loudly: "A man-sized gun, you say? What kind of overcompensating goob would have one of those?"

    "Miles," X-51 communicates, "If Cable has some way of determining potential changes to the timeline, it is possible he knows you are...bluffing. You may have to commit to the change."

    "I am," Ryann says, cracking his knuckles.

    Miles nods. "Let's crack this sucker open."

    "I am capable of opening the tomb, I recall the codes from interacting with it previously," X-51 communicates.

    "Do it," Miles says. "Just...slowly, and be ready to stop as soon as anything happens."

    Miles places his hand against the surface of the pyramid, and it begins glowing.

    The cavern shakes

    The pyramid splits at the peak, and the sides fold down.

    En Sabah Nur, Apocalypse, rises.

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    "Ok, Cable, you can show up now," Ryann says nervously.

    "Ryann, be ready to make that call quick," Michael hisses.

  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    Apocalypse looks around.

    "Hi," Ryann waves.

    "Is it time? Is the world prepared?"

    Ryann shakes his head. "Uh, not quite, so we were just checking in. Making sure you're all good down here. How are you?" He glances around, hoping to see Cable any second now.

    Apocalypse narrows his eyes.

    "God. You must be parched in here." Julian kicks a little dust on the ground at his feet. "So dry in here."

    "Can we fluff your pillow?" Miles offers. "Would you care for a mint?"

    "Nailed it," Ryann whispers to him. Miles puts his fist out to Ryann for a bump.

    "Ever think about how pyramids are just half of a diamond?" Michael muses.

    "I will require messengers to let the world know of my coming. Horsemen. The strongest of the four of you will be chosen.” Apocalypse points at the team. “The weakest will be discarded."

    "Okay, okay, okay, everyone shut up the jig's up. Put him down and let's try Latveria next." Elise pulls her weapon and aims for Apocalypse's head, then fires.

    The bullet hovers in the air.

    It turns directly around, and fires back at Elise's head. If it weren't for her kinetic harness, she would have died. As it stands, it feels like she got punched in the nose.

    "Make the call!" Miles shouts to Ryann. "Take him down!"

    "Well, we're in it now, people! Let's go!" Julian bursts into flame. Iron Man armors up.

    "You will be destroyed for this insult!" Apocalypse shouts.

    "No we won't!" Miles retorts, then fires a full salvo of repulsors at the same time as Michael opens his faceplates.

    Behemoth's blast is absorbed by Apocalypse. Not just deflected. Flames lick at him from the other side as Julian pours unholy fire upon the giant, but they are similarly ineffective.

    "You sit down!" Focusing the Nova Force, Centurion uses mass fields to try to force Apocalypse back down into his tomb. He succeeds in pushing Apocalypse down to one knee, holding him down and preventing him from leaving.

    "Why did we actually hit the button?" Elise grumbles. "We couldn't wait twenty minutes?" She reloads and fires the clip into the kneeling Apocalypse, only to have the bullets fling off in random directions. She realizes that bullets are basically useless against him.

    "Ryann, make the call!" Miles shouts.

    "X-51! Link up with my gauntlet and send the signal!" Ryann yells.

    Miles has X-51 send the spoofed signal, while he adds his blast to Ryann's own. Apocalypse absorbs the energy of Miles' attack, and uses that to make himself stronger and break free of Ryann's fields.

    "Damn it!" Ryann cries, as Apocalypse bursts free.

    But the signal is sent.

    Elise pulls the vibranium daggers given to her by Kraven and darts around the back of Apocalypse, slashing at the back of his legs and knees in an attempt to slow him down. She buries them in Apocalypse, but the daggers don't seem to actually hurt him. On the upside, they don't go flying around the room, either.

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    Hyperion blasts towards Earth.

  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
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    Julian darts around the chamber, peppering Apocalypse with fire. At this point he's focusing more on keeping his attention off Elise than really hoping to damage him. The giant roars, irritated by Julian's fire. He is definitely paying attention.

    Ryann, Miles, and Michael combine their fire, and Apocalypse is knocked down by all three blasts.

    Elise! Julian thinks. Plant one right in his skull!

    She pulls the overcharged sonic blaster from HYDRA Earth free and, for the first time, fires it directly in Apocalypse's face. She realizes to charge it up hard enough to actually damage this son of a bitch will do more than just overheat it. It will probably break it. But it'll probably fuck up his face, too.

    Elise lets it break.

    The sonic blaster overcharges, and shakes the tissue of Apocalypse's face clean off his skull. He falls to the ground, seemingly dead, and shrinks back down to human scale.

    "Let's get him back in the box and close this up," Ryann says. "He'll get back up soon I think, right? That's like his thing."

    Miles nods. X-51, can you reseal this if we do?

    "I can, Miles.”

    Elise puts her arms under Apocalypse's and tries to haul him up to a sitting position. "Alright, let's do this quick." Michael bends down and helps stuff Apocalypse back into the Celestial pyramid.

    Iron Man looks around. "So...no Cable, huh?"

    Suddenly, there's a loud sonic boom.

    Hyperion appears inside the cave. He's old.

    Julian waves. "Oh, hi Marc."

    "Hey, old friend," Ryann nods.

    Due to having been pulled back in time once with the Leviathan leadership and living for a hundred years on Skrull Earth, Marcus Milton is pushing two hundred years old at this point.
    He looks around. "...are you serious."

    "Yeah..." Ryann nods.

    "Fuckin' time travel bullshit," Michael sighs.

    Hyperion grimaces. "I fucking hate time travel."

    "Right, so, we need help in getting, y'know, back," Elise says.

    Miles clears his throat. "Oh, also, we should mention, this is Apocalypse's tomb. We, uh, thought Cable would show up, but no dice. If you feel like tearing him in half again or whatever..." Miles extends an arm to the pyramid.

    "I remember. I've been here before," Hyperion says quietly. "Back when the Galactus stuff was happening."

    "Yeah,” Miles says. “I...didn't know how much you knew about all that. We never really got to compare notes."

    Julian kicks the dirt. "You know, I bet Cable was monitoring this and saw it play out, too, the bastard."

    Hyperion nods. "Probably."

    "Yeah, where the fuck is he?" Michael rumbles, looking around.

    "So, you're gambling on Cable stopping you from summoning Apocalypse again, so you can what, hitch a ride on his time machine?" Hyperion asks.

    "Bingo," Miles nods.

    "Best plan we had outside of going to Doom," Ryann adds.

    "But you beat Apocalypse," Hyperion points out. “So if he ran the math on it, or could predict things, he assumed you could beat Apocalypse, and didn't step in, right? Stands to reason?"

    Miles nods. "Christ. Yeah. So we need to...lose?"

    Hyperion shakes his head. He sighs. "Jenny died when the Skrulls invaded. You guys go back, you stop them, then she doesn't die. Our kid doesn't die."

    "Your...?" Miles swallows and nods. "We will. If we can, we will."

    Hyperion nods. "It means I stop being... this. But it is what it is." He tightens his jaw. "Cable didn't intercede because you were capable of stopping Apocalypse. You know what you're not capable of doing? Stopping me from killing Andros Fujikawa. Sorry, Andy."

  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    Andos yelps. "Whoa! Hey!"

    "What?!” Julian stares. “No!!"

    Hyperion cracks his knuckles.

    Miles stares and then, with a helpless expression on his face, blasts Hyperion. Shrugging helplessly, Michael pitches in. The two smash Hyperion into the cavern wall, but do no real damage.

    However, a portal opens. And something charges out and smashes into Hyperion.

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    It's the Juggernaut.

    "...What," Elise gasps. She can tell it's not the same Juggernaut as the one she’s met previously. But it's a similar guy. Same kind of outfit and general...attitude.

    Others step out of the portal behind him.

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    Juggernaut is pounding Hyperion's face into the ground.

    "Whoa, everyone calm down. We're all on the same side, here,” Michael says, holding up his hands.

    "Ryann, get him off Hyperion!" Miles calls. Ryann uses mass fields to separate the two heavy hitters.

    Cable puts up his hand. "STRIKE Force, stand down."

    Miles turns to Cable. "Cable. I'm Machine Man. Have we met?" Then he pauses and squints at the team’s outfits. "Whoa. Cool logo."

    Cable tilts his head. "Not in my timeline. Maybe yours."

    Miles nods. "Okay. Yeah. We met you in 2017, when Apocalypse was about to wake up, You were from a world where he had."

    Cable nods. "Sounds like something I'd do. I take it we were successful?"

    Miles nods. "We were. That's, uh, why we had the idea to come here. We need your help. To get back to the past."

    Cable inclines his head in the direction of the team. "Domino, scan them."

    Domino, the woman with the black spot on her eye, holds up a scanner. She nods. "Yeah, they're telling the truth. Chrono signatures match up."

    Cable grunts, "Alright then. Hyperion, I guess trying to kill Fujikawa was a gamble to get us to show up, then?"

    Hyperion nods.

    Cable continues. "Good, then you'll go back to the sun now. Granite, J2, Ravage, fall out and prepare for a jump back to HQ. You people? You're coming with us. The boss will want to speak with you."

    "The boss?" Miles repeats.

    "Who's the boss?" Elise asks.

    "Mona," Miles tells her. "Mona was the boss."

    Elise squints. "What?"

    Cable opens a portal. He looks back to Elise as his team walks through the portal. "Doctor Doom." He gestures for the team to enter the portal.

    "I fuckin' knew it," she crows.

    Michael sighs. "Of course."

    The team enters the portal.

  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
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    They're in Castle Doom. But it's different. But it's definitely Castle Doom.

    "So much soft light..." Ryann whispers, as they’re led through darkened corridors to a throne room, where an individual rises to greet them.

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    "Greetings."

    "Doctor Doom, I presume?" Miles says.

    "Hey, do you, uh, recognize me?" Elise adds.

    "I am. And I do, Princess Elise."

    Miles nods. "Then you can guess why we're here."

    "I can."

    "Can you help us? Will you?"

    "Yes."

    Miles exhales slowly. "Thank you."

    "Oh, thank God. Thank God, I'm going to see Crys and Val again, thank God." Elise is muttering to herself. "Wait. Wait. Oh, God damnit." She throws up her hands. "He's a Doombot."

    "You sure, Elise?" Michael rumbles.

    "I hung out with a Doombot for two fuckin years solid. Yeah, I'm sure."

    Miles shrugs. "Doctor, if you can operate a time machine, I personally don't care if you're a human, an AI, or a sack of rats in a trenchcoat."

    "That'd be nuts," Ryann muses.

    Doctor Doom steeples his fingers. "Princess Elise is very astute, this is indeed a mechanical shell. I am communicating to you from my temporal vessel. I do not physically travel to other timelines. I send Emissaries such as this one, and take command remotely as necessary."

    "Oh," she says. "Huh. Yeah, okay, I buy that."

    "Travelling to other timelines is physically dangerous, and unnecessary. That is what my temporal agents are for, after all."

    "Oh, temporal vessel like temporary? Or temporal like, throo-o-o-o-ough tiii-i-i-i-ime!!" Julian speaks in fake menace, waggling his fingers.

    Miles stares at him. "I feel like the context clues are there to figure it out, man."

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    I think at this point we’d all decided our characters had gone a bit goofy and loopy. Remember, this is the same day they woke up in Kamar Taj and assaulted Master Mold’s mainframe.

    "Alright,” Elise nods. “Thank you, Doctor Doom, this is a very generous offer. We'll take one back trip aboard your time ship."

    Miles holds up a hand and turns to Doom. "Doctor, we were on HYDRA Earth when agents of the Parliament threw us into another Earth. We've been trying to get back ever since. I'm worried that the Parliament might be up to something in our own time. We need to get back as soon as possible. Er, relatively speaking."

    "I am aware,” Doom says. “Clay Quartermain has informed me of this."

    "Wait, of all of that?" Elise says. "Does he know?"

    "Yes. He mounted a rescue operation after you failed to return from the HYDRA world. They found the HYDRA-world Clint Barton, whom they extracted along with some other individuals beneath my notice. Barton informed them of what transpired. Quartermain came to me for help."

    "Aw, Clay!" Elise puts a hand over her heart. "I need to get his goat a little less in future as a thank you."

    "I believed you would find your way back home eventually, but assumed it may take you longer than you intended or, given that your home location was encrypted, that you might make a temporal error in your translocation. I was, of course, correct."

    "Super correct! As always. Very impressive. Can we get aboard the time ship now please," Elise pleads.

    Behind her, Michael rubs his thumb between his index and middle finger as Doom does as Doom does. Domino sees that and snickers.

    Doom nods. "Of course. One last matter... Ravonna?"

  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    A woman walks over from the side hallway.

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    Elise takes a sharp intake of breath. Miles puts a hand on her shoulder. "Steady," he whispers in a very soft voice only she can hear. "He might be trying to mess with your head."

    Ravonna walks over to Doom, who gently puts his hand on her shoulder. "Do you know who this woman is?" he asks, gesturing to Elise.

    Ravonna looks at Elise. "She looks like the pictures of my great-grandmo....wait, is this...?"

    Doom nods. Ravonna walks over to Elise, smiling. Elise looks like a deer in the headlights. "H-...Hi?"

    "Hello!" Ravonna grins. "My name is Ravonna. Ravonna of House Amaquelin...well, I wish there to be a House Amaquelin. I am trying to rebuild what is left of Attilan."

    Elise nods. "That's...good. That's good. Attilan is a home to me now. Not as much as SHIELD is, but...it's special to me. I...respect what you're doing?" Elise gives Doom a panicked glance. Why?

    "Ravonna," Doom says, "Tell her about Ahura."

    Ravonna looks confused, but nods. "Ahura Agon was...was Queen Medusalith and King Agar's secret son. He challenged my grandmo-...your daughter, Valeria, for the throne. He won. Our family was exiled from Attilan for it."

    Elise's eyes widen. "Oh."

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    Black Bolt and Medusa have a secret son!

    Doom nods. "Thank you, Ravonna. That will be all."

    Ravonna looks at Elise, confused. "But...?"

    Doom puts up his hand up. "That will be all, Ravonna."

    Miles sucks his teeth. There it is. Doom's little twist of the knife. Miles can hear Elise grinding her teeth.

    Ravonna nods and walks away.

    "Shit," Elise whispers. "Shit shit shit shit. Do I care? Am I supposed to care? Crys would probably care. God. Damnit. Shit. Do I tell Crys?"

    Doom looks at Elise. "Do with this knowledge what you will, but I believed it was your right to have it. Our families, it seems, will become intertwined. Now, we will depart."

    "Wait, did you just imply you kind of consider me family?"

    Doom does not answer.

    "What the fuuuuuuuck." Elise says under her breath.

    Doom claps his hands, and there is a blinding light.

  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
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    They are aboard the timeship. Cable's STRIKE Force is there, along with Doctor Doom.

    Elise looks around. "I remember this place! It's where I shot Kang in the face!"

    Miles nods grimly. He turns to Doom. "So did Kang solve the infinite energy problem? Can we go back to where we started without...compromising and ending up in a different parallel?"

    "Of course." They hear Doom's voice, but it comes not from the blue-robed 2099 Doombot.

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    "It is why I do not traverse to such timelines physically. I dare not be over-written by my own dalliances," the real Doom says. "A lesson I learned from Kang. One of many."

    "Clay should have let me keep the helmet," Elise grumbles.

    "Possibly,” Doom acknowledges. “I had MODOC steal the helmet for me."

    "God damnit MODOC," she throws up her hands. "He's too helpful."

    Doom shrugs.

    "So what's the story with 'STRIKE Force'?” Miles asks. “Why that name, of all things? And who designed that sick logo?"

    "I did. You might say I was...inspired," Doom says. "Feel free to appropriate it."

    Miles squints. "...Huh. You know," he scratches his chin, "that's...not a bad idea..."

    "No! Miles, what! If we're rebranding, it's to the Sex Harpies," Elise says.

    "You don't know that that swooping bird isn't a Sex Harpy, Elise," Miles points out.

    "I need more tattoos," she muses.

    Julian holds a fist towards Elise. "Sex Harpies," he says in a loud whisper.

    Doom turns to STRIKE Force. "Cable, prepare the Orb." Cable nods, and walks away.

    "Crys is trying to get me to get Attilan war tattoos. And it's like, no! I want a sex harpy!" Elise fistbumps Julian while keeping up a steady stream of complaints. "Or something fucking rad."

    Michael holds up a hand. "Wait, Doctor, while we appreciate you helping us return to our own time, what about the bigger threat? The Parliament? Do you have any insight on how to deal with them?”

    "At this time, I do not. Unfortunately, their blighted cur Kristoff Vernard absconded with any Parliament technology that remained in the HYDRA world."

    "Tell you what, Doom, the next time I see that Kristoff cunt I'm going to shoot his dick right off," Elise vows.

    Doom nods firmly. "Good."

    Cable walks back into the room. "Orb's ready. Follow me." He leads the team down a hallway, into a glowing white chamber. Floating in the middle of the chamber is a huge, reflective black sphere.


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    Miles slouches forward, the lack of a current crisis finally releasing waves of exhaustion into his body. "I feel like I haven't gotten to see enough Orbs in this line of work," he murmurs.

    "Enter the Orb, and it will transport you back to your own time,” Doom explains.

    Elise goes first, running and flinging herself into the orb with one last "Thank youuuuᵤᵤᵤᵤᵤ"

    "Fuck, wait up Elise!" Michael dives in after her.

    Miles nods at Doom. "Thank you for your help, Doctor. I'd say we're in your debt, but I have the feeling you've already gotten your quid pro quo." He steps forward into the sphere.

    "What he said." Ryann follows Miles.

    "Thank you, Doctor. I..." Julian makes a slight bow. "I'm verklempt."

    The group enters the Orb. It feels like...nothing. Just darkness. For just a moment, those more distrustful and suspicious of Doom's intentions think that maybe, for reasons that don't even make sense, Doom tricked them into an elaborate death-trap.

  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
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    The team is standing in the lounge of the Avengers Tower.

    It feels like...home.

    Elise nearly collapses from the relief. She hears a shriek as a glass of water hits the ground.

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    "Oh!" She stares. "Jeremiah! Uhhhh. Let me. Let me help you with cleaning that up." Elise sweeps the glass shards under one of the long couches with her foot as Jeremiah stands there, dumbfounded.

    "Whoa!!" Julian stands shock-still and gasps as he stands. "Jeremiah!" Julian walks up and warmly grasps his hand and claps him on the back. "It's you!"

    "Good to see you, buddy," Michael smiles brightly.

    "What these guys said." Miles offers Jeremiah a hand. "You're a sight for sore eyes."

    "H-how..." Jeremiah stammers. "Nevermind!" He runs off and bangs on Clay's office door.

    Elise looks very satisfied. "Look, guys, I cleaned it up! That's the first time I've ever cleaned up a glass I dropped. I feel like this is a benchmark in personal growth."

    "And you helped Jeremiah," Michael notes.

    Clay comes out of his office, looks at the team, and smiles warmly. "Good."

    "Boy, have we got a story for you," Miles says.

    "We got stories," Ryann corrects him.

    "Now I don't owe that tin-plated idiot a damn thing," Clay sighs.

    "Oh, no, we're totally back because of Doom," Elise corrects him. "Long story.

    Also, uh... I gotta talk to you. And probably Fury. About Attilan. Another long story."

    "Oh." Clay calms down. "Well, I'm glad you're back, regardless."

    "But first,” Elise says, spreading her arms wide, “I think someone needs a hug!"

    "Yes,” Clay agrees. “Faiza. She missed you."

    "Me,” Miles murmurs quietly. “I need a hug."

    "Aw!" Elise says warmly. Miles gets a hug, though he wasn’t really expecting one from Elise. Then Clay allows himself to be hugged. "You know what I'm going to do? Have a bath and eat an entire fuckin' box of Swiss Rolls," she proclaims.

    "I'm gonna have a nice juicy steak while I can," Michael announces.

    "I just wanna see my family and find out how the Kid is doing," Ryann sighs.

    "I'd like you all to fill out reports once you've had some rec time," Clay says. "I imagine you've had some shit to go through."

    "Absolutely not," Elise says flatly. "It'd be redundant."

    Clay shakes his head. "You have servants, Elise. Just dictate and have one of them fill it out."

    "Oh, shit, life hack!" An idea occurs to her. "Be a dear and schedule that meeting for me, would you?" Clay narrows his eyes, and Elise grins at him.

    "I'll get that report to you, boss," Miles says. "But quick spoiler: we've been to the future. The Skrulls are coming in 2018. So are the Kree. Tell Fury. We need to get ready for the siege of Earth.” Miles turns to go. "But first, I'm going to fly to space and fuck my fiancee till my legs fall off."

    "You're fucking gross, Miles," Elise says.

    Clay sighs deeply. "I figured the Empire was going to return. We couldn't just boot their scouting party in the ass and they'd lie down for it."

    "Well, good news!” Miles says. “The Kree win! And rule Earth for a decade. It sounds like fun. We're gonna change it."

    Clay holds up a hand. "By the by, Mason?"

    "Yeah?" Miles turns, half out the door.

    "Next time we send you to shoplift, can you not shotgun the management just because they're tyrants?"

    "No," Miles says.

    "Good." Clay nods, satisfied.

    Miles winks and finger-guns his way out of the room, headed for the landing pad.

    Matev
  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    Elise can hear something. A voice.

    Faint, like a whisper.

    Calling her name.

    She's not 100% sure where it's coming from. Someone invisible? She turns as the group head their separate ways, tilting her head.

    It's getting louder. It's someone shouting her name. She's trying to see if she can identify the voice.

    "Elise!"

    She realizes, suddenly. It's Scott Lang's.

    "Scott?" says says to the room. "Am I being haunted?"

    "Oh my god! You can hear me! Holy shit! I knew this was gonna work! Arcturus was like 'myeeeh, nobody from the Oververse can hear us,' but I knew it!"

    "What?"

    "Hang on, okay, okay, this might freak you out..."

    She can see Scott Lang, in his Ant-Man gear. Almost as if he's inside her eye. It's really disconcerting. "Naargh!"

    "Sorry! Sorry! It's a projection! I'm sub-atomic projection, like my voice. You're the only person who is capable of seeing and hearing me."

    "Oh, God, this sounds like responsibility," she says. "Am I the only person capable of saving you from a fate worse than death or something?"

    "Yes! Holy shit, are you precognitive too?"

    "God you are going to owe me big time," she says. "Like, I'll do it, but I want a steak dinner."

    "Deal?" he shrugs.

    "No, actually, I have that in Attilan nearly every night. I want a fuckin'...Burger King feast."

    "Sure. Okay, so, there's something else. You guys are still fighting those Parliament and Council jerk-butts, right?"

    "Yep," she nods vigorously.

    "Yeah, well, I think I can give you guys on edge on that. I just need your help. Alright, Elise, I need you to go to a computer and type some shit out, and then pass them on to some science guys. I'm gonna need your team to enter…

    "...the Microverse."

    "God, you fucking suck, Scott."

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    jurnerNytewarriorFencingsaxMatev
  • jurnerjurner Registered User regular
    Disappointed at the short interaction with blue Ghost Rider! You did not spend nearly enough time in 2099 :(. You're right that all of these worlds could be entire campaigns ...

    Fencingsax
  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    jurner wrote: »
    Disappointed at the short interaction with blue Ghost Rider! You did not spend nearly enough time in 2099 :(. You're right that all of these worlds could be entire campaigns ...

    Yeah, this was definitely the quickie highlight tour, and I would 100% have not minded spending a bit more time in 2099, but I think a couple of the players (not just characters) were anxious to get back home to their supporting casts and stories. As well, that initial scene on the rooftop, with X-51 explaining the situation and everyone reacting to the developments, took up a not insignificant amount of real life playtime. I haven't grilled Matt specifically about this session but I wouldn't be surprised if there were a couple beats or segments that ended up being cut for time (at a guess I would bet dealing iwth the Phalanx nest and working more with the Defenders 2099 might have been on the table originally).

    I should note - and I might go back an edit this into the report - that so far as I know, the whole business with Apocalypse's pyramid was 100% unplanned. Ryann's player Jake legitimately had that idea as a way to summon Cable and Matt rolled with it and did a little shucking and jiving to make it work. How was it "planned" to go? I have no idea. Matt plans these out with flowcharts and tries to account for all the most likely choices we're apt to make. Traveling to Latveria to visit Doom was one very obvious option I'm sure was fully accounted for. It's the sort of thing I'd account for. There were probably several others; for instance, it's possible that if we'd gone into the Phalanx nest that Andros would have been put in a life-threatening situation, summoning Cable.

    Anyway, yeah. I really liked what we saw of 2099 and there's a lot of richness there that we didn't even really touch. The whole corporate hellscape angle never really came up, for instance, except by implication, and I'd love to see more of that. I dug the idea of the shiny overworld protected by corporate Avengers while grittier vigilantes patrolled the seedy Underhive (I knew there had to be an Underhive). I definitely want more and I'm hopeful that we can return at some point.

    That said, what's coming up (if you know your Marvel) is SO MILES'S JAM.

    FencingsaxMatevMsAnthropy
  • PowerpuppiesPowerpuppies Registered User regular
    Jacobkosh wrote: »
    "Mona," Miles tells her. "Mona was the boss."

    go to jail

    sig.gif
  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    Jacobkosh wrote: »
    "Mona," Miles tells her. "Mona was the boss."

    go to jail

    No jail can hold me!!!

  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
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    The team meets in the STRIKE conference room. Clay is there, along with Sam Alexander and Susan Richards.

    "Alright, people, I'm sure you've read Elise's report. One of her servants worked very hard on it."

    "Hey!"

    Clay continues. "Scott Lang is alive, and he's caught in a place he's dubbed the 'Microverse.' I'm going to let Susan take over the science jargon when I get to that bit, which brings up the fact that when it came to building the tech for this mission...we went to WHISPER for it. Not SHIELD SCI-TECH.

    "This is off-book.

    "Scott is one of our guys, and we're getting him back. He also said to Elise there's some possibility that this could lead to something to use against the Parliament, and that's our lane now.

    "We could have gone to SCI-TECH about this, but that would have involved HELM bureaucracy, and possibly getting Jones and ARMOR involved, because they might argue it’s an alternate universe somehow and he might get in my soup. I'm not having it, not after the HYDRA-Earth fiasco.

    "And I'm not filing budget requests and all that bullshit, either. I asked Susan here, explained it involves the Parliament, and her and Reed agreed to throw money at it to get it done."

    Elise gives Susan an enthusiastic wave; Susan smiles and waves back. "Who's the kid, though?" Elise asks, jabbing a thumb at Sam.

    Ryann looks at Sam and gestures for him to introduce himself.

    Sam scratches the back of his neck nervously. "I'm Sam. I'm uhhh...do I have to go with Kid Nova?" He looks at Clay.

    "You 18 yet?" Clay replies.

    "...no."

    "Then you're Kid Nova."

    Ryann laughs and slaps Sam on the back.

    Clay shrugs impassively. "I mean, we could ship you off to Xandar, you could through proper Nova Corps training, then get yourself a rank, you could be Denarian or something. But Agent Valt here could tell you that's no easy thing."

    "The group has a new baaaaaaby," Elise croons.

    Clay scowls at Elise, "Elise, no hazing the new kid."

    "What!"

    "Elise."

    "You never let me haze anyone," she pouts.

    Julian laughs. "You're just happy there's another to torture."

    "We don't need him to turn into Peter," Clay adds darkly.

    "Good to meet you, Sam," Miles says. "I'm Miles. We're kind of throwing you in the deep end here, but we've got your back. You'll do fine. And you'll get used to Elise eventually? Maybe?"

    Ryann nods. “These are good people, Sam. Trust them.”

    Elise is still complaining. "That was not because of my hazing," she protests. "Maybe if he smoked the pot I gave him he'd be doing a lot better. I was helping."

    Sam raises a hand meekly. "Can I ask who Peter is? Longbow mentioned that he hopes I turn out better than 'Peter' too. Did Peter...die?" He gulps.

    Julian laughs softly and shakes his head. "Nothing like that. Don't worry. You're in good hands here."

    Sam sinks in his seat a little. Susan walks forward and puts her hand gently on his shoulder. "Sam, have you heard of Spider-Man?"

    He looks up at her. "Y-yeah?"

    "He's Peter. He used to work here. He's doing okay now. For a little while, he wasn't. Working for STRIKE can be a lot. They have a counselor on-staff to talk to, and Ryann is a good person who will be a good mentor. He's a father himself, and has a son about your age. Don't worry. These people also have a really wicked sense of humor. They're spies, you kind of have to in this line of work."

    Clay squints at Susan. "You're a spy."

    She shrugs. "Okay, yes."

    Ryann nods. “Thanks, Susan.”

    Clay shushes the room with a gesture. "Continuing on. Sam will be accompanying you on this mission, because from what Susan explains to me, mass is conserved in the Microverse and the Nova Force powers won't be negated there, but might even be amplified. He'll be good back-up, and this will be a good field mission for him."

    Elise raises a hand. "Will my senses still work okay?"

    Susan nods. "They should. Once you've been shrunk down enough, they should adjust relative to your mass. I think. A lot of this is theoretical. Essentially all your powers should work more or less the same. They may be slightly more or less powerful.

    "The Quantum Realm is beyond shrinking, you enter another universe at that state."

    Clay looks at Elise. "We're not sure how ICERs will work on the denizens of the Microverse if you run into hostiles, so you should take SWORD pulse pistols, the kind that have stun/kill settings."

    "Okay. Thank you. I mean. I killed a guy. That happened. So maybe I just...I dunno. I'll take a thing."

    Clay nods. "If you're having trouble squaring that, Elise, take time with Dr. Sofen. When you get back."

    "Yeah, I know, I'm seeing her a lot. She's good."

    Miles nods agreement at this. "She's a lot better than the guy I talked to for half an hour at offboarding, that's for sure. Kinda wonder if stuff might have turned out different if I'd had a real therapist years ago."

    PHU1KZN.png
    STRIKE’s in-house therapist, Dr. Karla Sofen has never appeared on screen, but it’s canonical in our game that Miles, Elise, and Carol are all seeing her offscreen between missions; Miles and Carol for their assorted traumas, substance abuse, and split personalities, and Elise for her whole...thing.

    Clay continues. "Susan is going to take you over to the Baxter Building, where they built the Quantum Tunnel.”

    Susan grimaces. "Please stop calling it that, Clay. That's not...that's not what Quantum tunneling is. Quantum tunneling is a completely different thing. It's a scientific principle that..."

    Clay cuts her off. "It's a tunnel, that goes into the Quantum Realm. It's a Quantum Tunnel." She frowns.

    "Quantum Qanal?" Miles offers. "With a Q."

    Julian snaps his fingers and points towards Miles. "That's it."

    "The Q'zone," Elise adds.

    “That sounds like a Pizza Hut deal, Elise," Miles says.

    “Please no,” Susan rubs her temples. "We'll just go with Quantum Tunnel."

    But Elise is already off to the races. "Did you know I haven't had fast food in weeks? Every time I try to go, Crys is like, have you tried this upscale Attilan restaurant? They have divine food. I just...can we get a pizza? On the way to the Baxter Building?"

    “They are like this most of the time,” Ryann says to Sam.

    Clay nods somberly at Ryann. "Alright people, fall out."

    "Pizza?" Elise asks Susan, one last time, desolately. "Just one humble deep dish pizza?"

    Susan sighs and nods, and Elise claps her hands in excitement.

  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
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    CgHHs9BH.png?1

    The team arrives at the Baxter Building, having stopped for pizza along the way. Elise is carrying an entire box awkwardly while eating a greasy slice. Miles has rolled his into a tube and stuffed the back end into a paper towel in a doomed effort to catch some of the outfalling grease.

    They take the elevator up to Reed's lab. Reed makes a face at the pizza. He looks at Susan and practically hisses "Really?"

    "Y'want some?" Elise offers a half eaten slice in a greasy hand.

    "You live in New York," Miles says to Reed in mingled shock and outrage.

    PHU1KZN.png
    Who the fuck lives in New York and scorns pizza?

    Reed frowns at him. "Well, hopefully you don't cake the inside of this advanced prototype vessel with your greasy stop-over, we have no idea if this will induce severe nausea."

    "We're doing your destructive testing for you," Miles says through a mouthful of double cheese.

    Susan shrugs. "Reed, they spent a week kicking around the cosmos after being booted from a Nazi world. We're lucky their brains aren't canned soup."

    "Just get one of your HERBIEs to give Elise a scrub down if you're worried," Michael adds.

    Elise licks a smear of sauce off her thumb and glares at Michael. "I'm clean."

    "Oh, by the way, kid," Elise looks at Sam with a face slicked with grease and sauce around her mouth. "I never introduced myself. I'm Princess Elise Amaquelin."

    Sam tilts his head. "You're a Princess? Of...where?"

    "Attilan. On the moon."

    "Long story. I'll show you a report on it when we get back," Ryann says.

    Reed folds his arms in an elaborate double pretzel, and looks at Susan. "I still do not understand why we can't go on this journey. These sorts of journeys are our entire..."

    "Reed," Susan cuts him off.

    "Wait, that's a good question," Elise interjects.

    Susan looks at her. "The vessel design that Scott communicated to you can fit eight people, tops. There's six of you. Bringing Scott back with you, that's seven."

    "Well, you should come, Susan," Elise says. "We can have some girl time! Talk about things!"

    "Either of you is more than welcome to come along," Miles offers diplomatically. "You do have the kind of experience we need on a mission like this."

    Susan shakes her head. "I'm needed here. I'm going to be mission control for this thing. Miles is going to be piloting, or more accurately, co-piloting with X-51. We'll be uploading the piloting commands to X-51."

    "I get to pilot the experimental ship?" Miles pumps his fist. "Sweet."

    "I never get to pilot anything," Elise sighs. She opens the box and offers Reed an uneaten slice as a peace gesture.

    He scowls. And then takes the slice. Miles nods solemnly.

  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    Reed leads them to the Quantum Tunnel.

    rFyb10Xh.png

    "The Q'zone!" Elise claps.

    Reed looks at her. "I'm sorry, the what."

    "The...Q'zone? Like a p'zone, but...quantum tunneling."

    "That's not what quantum tunneling...is."

    Susan sighs. "I told them that."

    "I suggested Quantum Qanal, with a Q,” Miles adds helpfully. “Alliteration!"

    "Guys, can we just go?” Michael sighs. “We can brainstorm in the ship."

    "She started it," Miles points at Susan.

    Reed just shakes his head and quietly mutters. "I genuinely hate working with these people."

    Elise hears him. She stares at Reed. "Rude."

    Susan presses a button on a console, and a ship moves on a track towards it.

    uLHOO6jh.jpg

    "All aboard."

    "God I wish I had brought a conductor's hat," Elise sighs.

    Miles looks at Susan. "Dude, you could have shapeshifted yourself a little conductor's hat when you said that." He stares at Elise. "Jinx!"

    Susan’s mouth opens. "...I could have done that. Damn. I'm not used to using my abilities for...whimsy." Shaking her head, she hands Miles a Skrull crystal storage device. "Press this against your chest, it'll upload the piloting program to X-51, you'll be able to work together to pilot it."

    "Right? See, this is why we work well together. Whimsy. That's our value-add." Miles rubs the crystal on his chest, his eyes flicking around the room. "Getting this wireless shit to connect always feels like voodoo. There it...no....okay, there. Connected."

    I have downloaded the data, Miles, X-51 chimes.

    Elise squints. "Wait, if Skrulls can transform clothes onto themselves, can they take the clothes off or is it just fused to them permanently. Like if you fused a conductor's hat, and I wore it, that'd be fucked up, right? But, like..."

    Susan pats her shoulder. "Don't think about it too hard."

    "We've gone through fold-gates of varying kinds, through time, outer space, and alternate universes. I wonder how going to the Microverse is gonna feel." Michael shudders.

    "Right?" Julian says. "Maybe it's like when you walk around on the elevator in circles before it stops. Except you know, more intense."

    Michael nods. "Not looking forward to that, man."

    Miles rubs his chin thoughtfully. "I hope we can like, stop shrinking a little bit more than 1:1 scale, so we're like the Harlem Globetrotters of the Microverse."

    Elise is nonplussed. "The who?" Miles frowns.

    PHU1KZN.png
    Who the fuck lives in New York and doesn’t know the Harlem Globetrotters/

    Julian nods at Miles. "That would be cool, though I hope we don't flub it and we're like little hobbit people to them."

    "Welcome to my entire life," Elise sighs.

    FencingsaxGrogMatev
  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    edited October 29
    The team loads up into the vessel, and it moves towards the entrance of the tunnel. "Firing engines." Susan says over a microphone.

    YQZUwujh.jpg

    "Activating Pym Particles in 3... 2.. 1..."

    Hands on the controls, Miles grins at the team. "Here we go..." They trade looks of mingled apprehension and eagerness. Elise has her eyes closed and mouth pressed into a thin line in anticipation.

    The team feels the rush of inertia as if they are taking off in a Quinjet. They go hurtling towards the end of the tunnel, which is a solid wall, and for a split second it seems like...maybe there's something wrong and they're about to slam into a solid wall.

    Suddenly

    te2spC7h.jpg



    The ship's engines fully engage, as X-51 and Miles begin piloting.

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    Elise presses her hands against the windows and stares out in awe. "Want me to try to like, see if I can find Scott and the gang?"

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    Julian is right up there with her. "This is fucking wild," he murmurs.

    Ryann places his hand on the frame on one of the windows and peers out. "Hey, Kid. Come check this out." Sam is staring out at it, mouth open in wonder.

    X-51 comes over the ship's comms. "Agent Lang gave us a frequency to locate him through quantum space, Agent Arnell. We are tracing that signal now. Please stand by."

    Miles...navigating this space is complex. I require your assistance.

    "Here goes, buddy." Miles’ lips thin and he grips the yoke.

    "Is this what it was like to be you, Elise, in the Van Days?" Michael jokes while staring raptly.

    "Less titties, Mike, but yeah, basically." She pauses. "...Fewer titties?"

    "Fewer," Miles murmurs reflexively, eyes narrowed in concentration as he pilots.

    "Your time at court is paying off, I see," Michael chuckles.

    Miles and X-51 successfully locate the signal. "Zeroing in on the Sub-Atomica orbital chain, containing the 'Homeworld' planetoid,” X-51 announces. “Stand by..."

    ISh4Chlh.jpg

    "Homeworld located. Breaching orbit..." The disc of one of the worlds quickly begins to dominate the front view. "Locating a landing zone near Agent Lang's signal..."

    Miles turns in his seat to face the team. "All joking aside, let's be on our A game here. Bringing Scott back means a lot to Carol. So it means a lot to me too."

    Elise makes a face. "You know she cried all over me. It was awful."

    Miles nods. "She's been beating herself up over him for months. It's...it's hard to explain. But I know what she's going through."

    There's some turbulence as the team enters the planetoid's atmosphere.

    "All I'm saying is, you owe me $20," Elise insists. "Because I even hugged her back and made, y'know, soothing noises."

    "I don't think you - " Miles trails off. "What the...."

    Jacobkosh on
  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    edited October 30
    The planet is alien. Extremely alien. The team has been to alien worlds before. Sakaar. Strontia. But nothing like this.

    ZZUnVsRh.jpg

    Julian looks at the landscape before them in awe. "This is insane."

    The ship lands on the surface. X-51 comes over the comms. "The surface has air that is breathable to humans, you will not require any specific respiratory equipment. I have put out a broad spectrum, but encrypted, communication signal to Agent Lang to let him know we have arrived.

    "I have not received a return message."

    Miles frowns. "Are there any other signals?" Miles asks. "Radio, wifi, that sort of thing?"

    "As of yet, no. But signals may operate differently in this universe. Recommendation is to proceed on foot, and potentially scout from the air."

    "I can stealth myself and get some air, see if I can see anything from up high," Elise offers.

    Miles nods. "Don't wander too far ahead, though. I don't want you getting snatched by a...pterodactyl or something. Everyone else, fan out, move toward the waypoint X-51 is sending you."

    "Oh god, micro-dinos," Michael murmurs.

    The team heads down the ramp, Kid Nova falling in behind Centurion. Elise vanishes from sight and takes to the air.

    I am capable of sending a signal to the Quantum ship for it to auto-pilot to us if necessary, X-51 adds.

    Miles nods. Excellent. Thanks, X-51.

    Flying high above, Elise can very easily spot something on the horizon, moving towards the rendezvous waypoint. "I have visual," she says over her comms. "And - augh.” She makes a sound of mingled disgust and horror. “Aaaauuugggghhhh.

    "Aaaaauggggrrrgghhh!"

    Ryann and Sam blast off towards Elise’s location. "Holy shit! Something's up!" Miles takes to the sky after them, and Michael and Julian follow a moment later.

    Jacobkosh on
  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    edited October 29
    As the team arrives, Elise re-appears with a wrinkled face. "He's riding a fuckin'... germ beasty."

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    "Does he know where those come from?" she cries. "Gross. Gross. Gross."

    Ryann sighs. Scott looks up, sees the team, and waves happily.

    "Aauaughghghghhhhhhhhhhhhhh," Elise shudders.

    Miles waves back. "Hey, man!"

    "That's our guy, Kid." Ryann points at Scott.

    "Nice ride, Scott," Michael chuckles as he lands.

    "Worst ride. Did you know that if you look close enough, the germ beasties have germ beasties? Then they probably have germ beasties and..." Elise visibly gags.

    Miles alights next to the tardigrade. "Fill us in, man. This place is crazy. How've you, you know, eaten and stuff?"

    Scott laughs. "Wow, am I glad to see you guys. I was so worried something would get lost in translation and that quantum ship design would just smoosh you into very small pieces."

    Elise stares. "But you still gave us the tech to get here?!"

    "Well...yeah?"

    "Even though we coulda gotten smooshed!" she continues.

    "...yeah?"

    "You're the fuckin' worst!"

    "...yeah," he agrees sadly.

    She relents. "Aw, dude. I'm sorry. Bring it in for a hug." He hops off the creature and hugs Elise. "I woulda done the same."

    Scott slaps the side of the creature. "This is Terry. He's a tardigrade."

    She averts her eyes. "Haugughaghghg."

    Miles nods. "Nice."

    "I think he's kinda cute,” Michael adds.

    "Does he do tricks?" Julian asks, approaching Terry gently.

    "Sorta! He can travel dimensions and change size! Apparently, he munched on some of Dr. Pym's tech and got soaked with Pym particles, so now he can change size naturally."

    "...We are not bringing him back," Elise declares.

    Scott shakes his head sadly. "No...his body wouldn't scale up very well. He'd probably die if he got bigger than microscopic."

    "I'm gonna puke," Elise whispers to Miles.

    "What?" Miles hisses. "No way, he's great."

    "Anyway...the ship's here, right? You didn't crash it?" Scott looks up hopefully.

    "Nope! Everything's gone according to plan, for once," Miles says, dusting his hands off.

    Elise nods. "OK, so let's get you aboard the ship and we boogie home. Easy peasy lemon squeezy."

    "Yyyyeeeah, about that, Princess," Scott sucks his teeth. "I made some...promises?"

    "Oh God," Elise stares.

    "Promises," Miles says, pinching his brow.

    "Like I didn't invent the quantum radio to call you guys. So calling you came with some conditions. Plus, if you want the thing that will help against the Parliament, we gotta go get it."

    "Why don't you start from the beginning." Miles' voice is flat.

    "Please tell me you did not make extra promises so you could call me about fuckin' Riverdale.”

    PHU1KZN.png
    One of the things that Matt and Elise’s player Cass decided between sessions was that Scott has spent the past week calling Elise up at all hours of the day and night with inane questions about what’s going on in Game of Thrones, how his favorite teams are doing, and anything else that popped into his head when he got bored, like a particularly dull ghost, which is why she’s so exasperated with him now.

    "I did not do that." Scott says to Elise. He looks at Miles. "So, okay, the Microverse is inhabited by people. Like, there's people here. Planets! They're humanoid! The people of Homeworld pretty much look like humans, some of em are hot. There's this city-state of really nice people, Ithaka. They're ruled by a Princess, Mari."

    This gets Elise’s attention. "Ooh, another Princess."

    "But there's also these assholes, the Barony, ruled by this Darth Vader-looking shithead named Baron Karza. Baron Karza wants to take over all of Homeworld, including Ithaka."

    "Okay, I'm with you so far..." Miles nods. "Is the evil city shaped like a skull, by the way?"

    "He lives in a castle in a volcanic realm of lava, it's basically Mordor, dude."

    "Fuck yes." Miles is visibly happier.

    "So, there's these group of guys, led by Ithaka's chief scientist, Arcturus Rann, who have been travelling the worlds of Sub-Atomica to gather heroes to fight Baron Karza. I joined up with them, and called them the Micronauts. They didn't like the name, but I made it happen."

    "It's pretty sweet," Elise admits.

    "It is, thank you, Elise," Scott nods. "So, at first I was like, shit I gotta get back...but eventually, I realized, it's never going to happen. I accepted it after a while, you know? Made peace with it. I miss Cassie, but I started to...I don't know. Her mom's a good person.

    "But then, on my travels with the Micronauts, we went to the planet K'ai to recruit this warrior Jentorra, and we found Janet Van Dyne. Like, the original Wasp."

    Miles’ head whips around. "Wait. What?"

    "From the 80's Avengers?" Michael asks.

    "Yeah dude," Scott nods eagerly. "She's been here since the 80's. She's the one who designed the Quantum Ship, and the thing I used to call Elise.

    "She was like, the problem with the quantum radio transmitter is, you need a receiver on the other end that is sensitive enough to receive the signal, and there's nothing sensitive enough."

    "And I'm like, holy shit!" He snaps and finger-guns, pointing at Elise.

    Elise sighs. "Glad I could be of help, I guess? Why do I never get anything fun because of my senses, like...like a pony."

    "Are we bringing her back too?" Miles asks. "I guess we've got room."

    "Uh...I dunno man. I've kinda danced around it. She's...she's gone pretty native," Scott says, scratching the back of his neck. "You'll see. She's been here for like, thirty years."

    "Kinda on the same track, is time fucky in this place, or is it the same as above?" Michael rumbles.

    "Well, what day is it?" Scott asks Michael.

    "January 21st."

    "Okay yeah that tracks, at least for me anyway. But there's a whole...thing...with that. I'll let Janet explain," he says. "So...there's one other...important detail." Scott taps his index fingertips together nervously.

    Elise sighs. "What."

    "Remember how I said Princess Mari rules Ithaka? And the Barony is messing with them? Wellll...Baron Karza has kidnapped Princess Mari." Scott looks around and swallows. "And I... promised the Micronauts that you guys would help them rescue her.

    "So...are you guys...down to rescue a Princess from an evil Baron's volcano lair...?"

    "Hell yes!" Sam yells. Ryann, Julian, and Michael shout their agreement. Miles offers Scott an extendo-arm high five.

    "Is the princess hot?" Elise asks.

    Scott hits that high five. "I knew it. You guys are great. Alright, cool, so..."

    "Yeah, but is the princess hot?" Elise repeats.

    "Oh, yeah, yeah she's hot," Scott says. "She's taken, though. Arcturus is hitting that.” He pauses and stares at her. “Aren't you married?"

    "Of course I'm married! I just, y'know, if you're rescuing an ugly princess that's like...half points."

    "Oh, fair," Scott nods solemnly.

    "Man, I hope if I ever get kidnapped, they put me in a fuckin'...tower," she continues. "Or a crystal."

    "I thought you already spend a lot of time in a Crystal?" Scott waggles his eyebrows.

    "Ayyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!" she shouts.

    "Ayyyyyyy!" he agrees. They high five. Julian stifles a laugh.

    "Oh god,” Michael rumbles. “They're multiplying."

    Scott punches coordinates into a console on his wrist. "Alright, cool, I am sending the location of Ithaka to Miles, you guys grab the ship and meet me there, I'm going to take Terry."

    Elise slings an arm around Sam's shoulders. "So, what's your favorite part of the job so far?"

    Sam looks around "I mean this looks amazing but saving a beautiful princess is...wow. I mean even if she already has a boyfriend that's incredible."

    "Wow, it's not spending time with me?"

    "...that was a trap, wasn't it."

    Elise does her best to use her minimal bulk to pull Sam down for a noogie, but only succeeds in pulling herself slightly up. Sam is taller than her. "Let ... me... noogie you, as is my god-given right," she pants. Julian gives an exasperated sigh and gently plucks Elise away from Sam. "Hey! Put me down!!"

    Miles summons the Quantum Ship. "I hope we don't have like, a parchment parking ticket on it."

    Jacobkosh on
  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    The team loads up into the quantum ship, and takes off. Meanwhile, Scott gallops off on Terry.

    "Ugh. Ugh. This place. Huoargh." Elise does not like the way Terry gallops. "Ryann, you gotta let me noogie your understudy. It's the only relief I have from Terry."

    "No," Ryann shakes his head. "Noogie Terry."

    Miles jauntily flips switches and swipes touchscreens in the cockpit as he guides the ship to the rendezvous point. "This is great. We landed on Eternia! This is...this is so much of what I want. Gonna save a princess, gonna wear a jerkin..."

    "Whoa, settle down on the jerkin talk around the kid," Julian laughs.

    "Oh, like a seventeen-year-old doesn't know about all that." Miles shakes his head.

    Elise taps Miles’ shoulder. "Miles, I've been super useful. You wouldn't even be here if it weren't for me. Will you buy me a pony?"

    "Elise, I will buy you a hot dog," he says. "That's my counteroffer."

    "C'mon, Carol can visit the pony."

    "Isn't there a pony-like Inhuman you can ride?"

    "Yes, but that's rude. You're racist."

    "Against pony-men?" Miles pauses. "Sure. I can live with that."

    "Against my daughter's kingdom, you dingus."

    "Who wrote your report, again?"

    "I did! Marilla just transcribed it."

  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    The ship comes comes into a valley, and the team sees the city-state of Ithaka.

    V3GsEMth.jpg

    Miles points excitedly at the pterodactyl and makes mouth noises.

    Elise gapes through the windows. "I'm going to be honest. This place owns. I mean, it's no Attilan."

    Sam leans over to Ryann and whispers, "...can we visit Attilan?"

    "I'm assuming at some point,” Ryann says, then adds “...Atitlan is a little creepy."

    Elise turns to look over her shoulder. "No it's not."

    "I mean I have a friend who is an Inhuman,” Sam says. “She's wanted to go there."

    "Sure! I can facilitate that. Because, I don't know if I mentioned this, but I'm a princess."

    X-51 chimes in. "Agent Arnell, would you like me to keep a running tally of the number of times you mention that you are a princess? It would not be especially difficult."

    Miles suppresses a grin. Good work, X-51.

    Thank you, Miles.


    "Miles, can you get your bitch bot under control, please?"

    "No, because I believe in the rights of sentient beings," Miles says primly.

    "So do I! I just think if a sentient being is acting like a bitch, I'm gonna call him a bitch! If you refuse to do so, you're the racist."

    PHU1KZN.png


    THE WORLD OF THE MICRONAUTS!

    VGp7nKJl.jpg

    In the mid-1970s, the Mego toy company licensed the North American rights to a Japanese line of science-fiction-themed action figures with interchangeable parts and vehicles called “Microman.” Repackaging the original Japanese toys and adding some new figures and vehicles original to Mego, the company rebranded “Microman” as “The Micronauts” and began selling them in 1976.

    As was common practice at the time, there was no particular story or IP attached to the Micronauts; they were just toys with names given them by the marketers at Mego. However, serendipitously, the son of Marvel writer Bill Mantlo (creator of Rocket Raccoon) received some Micronauts as a gift on Christmas 1977, and the writer, struck by the figures’ design, began dreaming up stories and adventures for them.

    He convinced Marvel’s new editor-in-chief, the legendary/infamous Jim Shooter, to approach Mego to license the Micronauts for a comic series. This wasn’t unusual; both Marvel and DC maintained an intermittently-successful side hustle of publishing licensed tie-in comics. Earlier that year, one such tie-in comic, a comic series based on an unreleased sci-fi film, had actually pulled the struggling Marvel out of the red when the movie came out and turned out to be Star Wars.

    So Shooter was receptive to the idea, and Mantlo set about bringing the Micronauts to life, with not much more to work with than their action figure and vehicle designs and some names. “Baron Karza” was one such name, and Mantlo seized on him as the obvious candidate to be the Darth Vader-like main villain, but the good guy action figure was simply called “Force Commander.”

    Mantlo created names, personalities, a backstory, and a world for the action to take place in - the Microverse, a different universe from our own, accessed by shrinking below the subatomic level. Heavily influenced by Star Wars as well as the same pulp sci-fi and fantasy that had influenced Star Wars in turn, the Microverse was a place of science and sorcery, where sci-fi barbarian heroes armed with laser guns and carrying swords did battle with Baron Karza, his evil sorceress vizier, and his legion of definitely-not-Stormtrooper robot hordes.

    It was all very He-Man, very Saturday morning cartoon, and it was a hit for Marvel, to the point where the comic line kept going even after the toy line had folded. Also, as sometimes happened with licensed properties, Marvel freely intermixed the Micronauts IP with its own; Marvel characters shrunk down and went on heroic quests with the Micronauts, and the Micronauts sometimes visited the Marvel universe in turn.

    Unfortunately, the Mego company went into receivership in the early 1980s, and its properties and licenses were sold off to various other entities, leaving the Micronauts in license rights hell. The series, which by that point had more or less run its course, had to be shuttered, and would not be reprinted. Demands to “bring back the Micronauts” became a frequent fan request.

  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    The ship lands at a location designated by Scott. The city itself, in many ways, reminds the team of Attilan or Asgard, a mix of antiquated architecture and high technology. People walking around with swords on their hips and typing on computer consoles. The people, as Scott explained, look human.

    When they arrive, Scott is there. Mercifully, for Elise, Terry is not. There is also someone else.

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    "Oh my God, they have TRON clothes here?!" Julian grins.

    As the team disembarks, the newcomer approaches them. "Arcturus Rann, chief scientist of Ithaka and leader of..." he looks back at Scott, who gives him double thumbs-up, and looks back to the team and sighs, "...the Micronauts."

    Elise nudges Julian. "This guy fucks."

    "I am told you are mighty warriors from your world, and can help us against Baron Karza."

    Miles steps forward. "I'm Miles Mason, field leader of...Freedom Force. And we're here to help." Miles is beaming.

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    Elise may be impatient but Miles is getting to live out all his Saturday morning cartoon dreams and he refuses to be in a bad mood about anything that happens here.

    Rann gives him a polite half bow. "Which one of you is the one called Sensate?"

    "Oh! Uh, that's me." Elise steps forward.

    Miles waves Elise forward, then turns to Scott and speaks in a low voice. "He looks like Tron! Why don't we look like Tron?"

    Scott whispers to Miles, "Man that's just his style, not everyone rocks that look, he's like super fashion-forward."

    Miles nods. "Nice."

    Arcturus Rann regards Elise. "I am told it is you to thank for responding to the Beast-Man's call for aid. I am also told that your senses could potentially locate the Sword in the Star, and end this war for good. Is that true?"

    Elise nods hesitantly. "Uh, probably? I mean, potentially, sure. I'm the most powerful sensate to ever come from Attilan, where I'm a princess. I could probably find it, yeah, or at least try."

    "Beast-Man?" Julian murmurs. "Ohhhhhhhhhh! Because of course they would look like..."

    Looking between Elise and Arcturus Rann, Scott laughs nervously. "Ha ha! Arcturus I uh...haven't...had...uhhhh..."

    Rann looks at Scott. "If there are details you have yet to explain to these warriors, you can do so on the way to speak to Force Commander Argon. Follow." He walks off, and Scott shrugs and motions for the team to follow along.

    Elise raises her eyebrows. "Another promise?"

    "...yeah. Sorry."

  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    The group travels through a great hall.

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    "Now you gotta get me a pony," Elise hisses at Scott.

    "...okay?" He shrugs helplessly. "So, a few things.

    "One, they don't...have ants at this scale, but I learned if I modify the signal coming out of my helmet, I can control a lot of the native animals here. So, I'm not the Ant-Man, I'm the Beast-Man. It's why me and Terry are buds.

    "Two, they have this artifact, legendary thing, the Sword of the Star, it's like their Excalibur? Whoever can find it and draw it from the whatever-it’s-in, becomes the true King. See, Ithaka doesn't have a King, or Queen. They have a Prince or Princess, and like, a Chancellor of their Senate, and nobody gets to be King or Queen until they find the Sword.

    "But, it's lost, and nobody could find it, but there's a prophecy of who will find it and draw the blade and it's..." He snaps his finger and does a finger-gun at Arcturus, who is walking in front of him silently. "But he's never found it. So, I'm like, well, I know someone who can find anything."

    Elise's eyes widen and a grin spreads across her face. "What if I pull it?"

    "...then you gotta live here and be queen."

    "Can't I commute?"

    "I mean if the bus breaks down then...." He claps his hands loudly. "I dunno, wanna roll the dice on that?"

    "...No."

    "Me either."

    Arcturus looks back. "Only I could draw the Sword. It is prophecy." He looks forward as he walks, and Scott looks at Elise and does mouth-open-close flap-flap motions with his hands silently and whispers to her only I could draw the sword sarcastically.

    Elise stifles a laugh.

    The group arrives in what appears to be a council chamber, a large table with what looks like maps all over it. They've seen enough battle plans to know what they look like. There's an individual standing in front of them who is either a robot, a cyborg, or in power armor.

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    Arcturus Rann holds out a hand in introduction. "I present to you Prince Argon of Ithaka, Force Commander of the Ithakan Army, and brother to Her Highness, Princess Mari."

    Elise sketches an elegant bow. He bows in return.

    Miles bows as well. "Your Highness."

    "I prefer Commander," Argon says, gesturing for them to rise. "My sister is the true royal leader. I have only assumed my royal title in her absence."

    "She'll be home soon," Elise says.

    Argon smiles and nods. "I appreciate your optimism. It is needed in these dire times. Were my chief scientist so brightly shining, the dour would-be king." Arcturus frowns at this.

    Argon looks at Miles. "You are the leader of this band of warriors, I take it?"

    Miles nods. "I am. What can we do for you, Commander?"

    "According to Lang, you're more than just warriors, you're spies, and good ones at that. On your world, you've toppled dictators and rooted out subversives. Is this true or is he so much bluster?"

    "We've toppled dictators on a couple worlds now, but Scott wasn't there for some of that." As an aside to Scott, he mutters "we totally fucked up Nazi World."

    Scott gasps. "Like, Bob's world? Oh wow, dude, awesome."

    Miles nods. "It was rad, remind me to tell you later."

    Argon nods briskly. "Good. I have plans for a two-pronged assault. Lang referred to the Sensate in the feminine, I would not be so rude to assume which of you is such, so I'd ask her to speak up?" He looks around at the group.

    Elise raises her hand.

    "You, with two others of your leader's assigning but not himself, will go with Arcturus on a mission to retrieve the Sword of the Star. We have an inkling on the subject, and I am told by Lang that inkling is enough for your abilities to lead the path. Arcturus will take a portion of his...what are your people called now?"

    Lang says excitedly, "The Micronauts!"

    Arcturus sighs. Argon nods.

    "The remainder of your retinue will go with your leader, and your leader will take command of the rest of the Micronauts, in covert assault on Baron Karza's fortress to rescue Princess Mari. I will be leading a frontal attack on the Barony as a distraction, to commit the Baron's forces."

    "So I don't get to help save the princess?" Elise sounds disappointed. "Because...that's obviously so diplomatically important."

    Julian stares. "You have a princess waiting for you at home!"

    "The Kid and I will go with you, Elise," Ryann says decisively.

    Elise turns and looks at Sam with another wide smile. "Okay. Cool."

    Miles nods at Ryann. He sends a message to the Nova gauntlet. Good call. Keep her out of trouble, don't let her steal the sword or some nonsense. He turns to the others. "Mike, Julian, you ready to go full Robin Hood?"

    "Robin Hood." Julian nods towards Miles and offers a fist towards Michael, who bumps it.

    Argon looks at the team. "With Arcturus, the Beast-Man and K'ai warrior Jentorra will go. Under your command," Argon points at Miles, "Will be the cyborg Dexam, the mighty champion Acroyear, and the fierce ranger Van Dyne. On this day, Baron Karza will fall."

    "By the power of Grayskull," Miles intones solemnly.

    Scott nods to Miles. "I'll lead you guys to Janet's lab, she's got some ideas on how we can get into Karza's territory undetected."

    Arcturus says to Elise, Sam, and Ryann, "Follow me."

    "Sorry we don't get to rescue a princess, kid. Nova,” Elise corrects herself. “Kid Nova."

    Sam frowns. "Well, we get to find a magic sword. So, that's still pretty MMO."

    "Pretty what?"

    Sam grimaces. "...nevermind."

    But Elise has seized on it. "Ooooh, are you a nerd? Do you game? Are you a gamer?"

    Rather than answering, Sam quick-times it along, following Arcturus.

  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
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    Miles, Michael, and Julian follow Scott, and arrive in a large laboratory. They see a woman gearing herself up for battle, putting a quiver over her shoulder and grabbing a bow.

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    Miles stares. "....Ms. Van Dyne?"

    She nods at Miles, and smiles. "You must be 'Machine Man.' Scott has told me a lot about you and your team."

    He nods. "Only the good parts, I hope."

    "We're all good parts," Julian chirps.

    Scott nods. "I told her you guys took down Leviathan! Did you guys know she ended up here because she stopped a Leviathan missile back in the 80s? She's real proud of you."

    She laughs and shakes her head, "Scott. Don't you have another mission to be on?"

    Scott nods. "Oh. Right! Okay, seeya!" He runs off.

    Once he's out of sight, she breathes a sigh of relief. "I like Scott, I do, but he's a lot. So, the Quantum Ship is in one piece and functional, right? You didn't crash it and it survived getting here, the drive is still working?"

    "As far as we know," Ryann says.

    "Oh thank god."

    Miles nods. "You ready to go home?"

    "Yes." She nods emphatically.

    Miles holds up his hands in warning. "Fair warning. The President is a right-wing goomba, they made new Star Wars movies but they aren't very good, and there's this thing called the Internet that lets you get all the pornography and turns people into Nazis sometimes."

    "I'm aware," she nods grimly. "Scott's had time to fill me in on more details than I asked for."

    "'More detail than you asked for' is gonna be 2018 in a nutshell, honestly," Miles says.

    "I imagine. So, I have a plan on how to get in to Karza's territory and his castle."

    "All ears, Ms. Van Dyne."

    "Karza's sensors and sentries are extremely well-tuned to look for Ithaka's forces. It's why Argon is going to lead a frontal attack as a distraction. What he's not prepared for is the Quantum Ship.

    "I can modify the ship to emit an energy field that will slip past his sensors. It won't be...invisible. If someone just looks, they'll see us.So we'll need careful piloting. But we won't trip their radar-equivalent. Once we're in, we'll get help from...hey, Dexam...?" she yells.

    A metallic-skinned individual enters the room, a glow emanating from his chest.

    HuO5PAal.jpg

    She looks back to Miles. "Dexam is a cyborg, modified by Baron Karza to serve in his army before he flipped to serve Ithaka. He knows the castle inside out, and can guide us through."

    Miles bows slightly to Dexam. "Looking forward to working with you."

    Dexam bows back. "You as well.” He turns to the Wasp. “Acroyear is arming himself for the mission, and will meet us at your vessel."

    Janet looks at Miles. "Once we get in there, there's something else to consider. Our mission is to rescue the Princess, not to take out Baron Karza. Force Commander Argon doesn't believe we can take Karza out without the Sword in the Star. He also has allies, like Baron Zebek, and the Sorceress Visalia.

    "I'm not contradicting the Force Commander. As a subject of K'ai, an ally of Ithaka, I could not do that. So, those aren't our orders, to take on the Baron directly, and end the war. We can't do that without the Sword."

    Miles folds his arms. "But...?"

    "Well, I'm just saying, from what Scott was telling me of your exploits, fighting Hyperion, defeating Leviathan, all of that, there's no way we could defeat Karza." She shrugs. "Anyway, we should go."

    Miles nods. "Don't worry. Scott's probably told you how good we are at following directions."

    She nods. "Oh yes. Very good soldiers."

    "Mhm,” Julian nods. “Mhm."

    Dexam looks confused, and tilts his head as the group depart for the Quantum Ship.

  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
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    Ryann, Sam, and Elise are with Arcturus. They meet up with Scott, and another woman who is there with him.

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    Scott is arming himself with a sword and an energy rifle. Elise and Ryann have never seen Scott use either of those things before. "This is Jentorra," Scott says, introducing the blue-skinned woman, "She's a warrior of the K'ai."

    “Nice to meet you,” Ryann nods.

    Elise picks up a sword and gives it a few experimental slashes. "I've always wanted to be a sword lesbian."

    “So I take it you have some practice with that thing since you’ve been here, Scott,” Ryann says, pointing at the rifle.

    "Some, yeah, although I prefer this..." He draws the sword and gives it a few swings. His form isn't bad.

    "I taught him," Jentorra says, smiling. "He was a quick study."

    “Look at that, a soldier ant,” Ryann chirps, to a laugh from Sam.

    "Should I bring a sword?" Elise asks hopefully.

    Jentorra nods. "But of course, what good is a woman who cannot use a sword?"

    "Yessss," Elise pumps her fist. "I'm going to stab Julian with it."

    “We’ll have no need of them,”Ryann says, nodding at Sam.

    Arcturus grumbles. "Enough of this. Let us board our transport."

    Scott leans over to Elise and whispers, "He's grouchy because he doesn't get to save his girl."

    Arcturus wheels around. "Lang, you recall I have hearing of a capacity far superior to yours, correct?"

    Scott yelps. "...no?" Ryann laughs.

    Arcturus growls. "Nonetheless, you are correct, I am curt in my demeanor due to Argon's decision to send me on this fool's errand, instead of saving my beloved Mari. It is his belief that Karza would exploit my feelings to cause me to act rashly or do something foolish. Regardless of what I think of this decision, I defer to his leadership. Now, let us go."

    "Hey, Scott, did you leave a lady behind on Earth?" Elise asks.

    Jentorra squints at Elise's question, and then looks at Scott. She seems very interested in his answer. "Well, I have an ex-wife!" Scott says, laughing nervously, "and, y'know, a daughter. I told you about this, Jentorra." Elise can tell Scott is not telling the whole truth.

    "Aw, that's too bad. Have you ever had 'I thought you were lost forever in the infinite cosmos' banging?" she pries. "It's like, next level." Scott winces, and she realizes swordsmanship is not the only thing Jentorra has been teaching him.

    The group loads up into an Ithakan transport, which takes off into the sky.

    WhQ8etUh.jpg

  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
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    Miles and his group arrive at the landing pad where Janet gets to work on the Quantum Ship. Waiting for them is a cybernetic warrior, gearing himself up with a crackling energy sword.

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    Michael looks from the sword to Miles and back at the sword. "I want one."

    Miles nods. "Me too."

    "God, I will never tire of this place," Julian sighs happily.

    Dexam introduces the swordsman. "This is King Acroyear of the Spartak, an ally of Ithaka who has pledged to destroy Baron Karza for his crimes against the King's people."

    Miles, Michael, and Julian bow. “Your majesty.”

    Acroyear gives a curt bow, sheathes his blade, and moves to the ship. Dexam turns to the trio. "He is a man of few words. Karza has devastated his world, he seeks only vengeance."

    Miles nods. "I see. Let's not delay, then."

    Janet looks up from the ship. "It's done. We're ready to go. Machine Man, you flew this thing here, right?"

    Miles nods and hops into the cockpit. "Yep! 100% success rate so far."

    "Good. You fly us in there."

    Miles activates the Quantum Ship and takes off. "Okay, I'm going to need directions to Mordor..."

    "I've uploaded a flight path that will take us over the mountains, away from any visual sentries. But it will be dangerous. Flying through it is on you."

    Miles nods, all levity draining away. "Copy that. Here we go..."

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    Miles attempts to fly between the shifting, mercurial mountainscapes of the Microverse.

    But it’s a tight squeeze.

    "Uh-oh."

    The ship nicks the side of some basalt-like pillar, and begins going into a tail-spin, hurtling towards the ground. Miles is able to pull it out, and land safely. But where they land could hardly be called safe…

  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
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    Miles sits behind the stick for a moment, breathing heavily and regaining his composure. "Ahuh....ahuh....Jesus." He clambers unsteadily to his feet and makes his swaying way outside.

    Janet exits the vessel and looks at it, and whistles. "...well, any landing you can walk away from."

    Julian steadies himself and looks across the horizon. "Man. It really does look like Mordor."

    Dexam looks at Julian. "Is Mordor some dark place from your world?"

    "Uhhhh...kinda! It's fictional, but you know, everyone knows what it is."

    Janet looks the ship over. "Okay...this looks repairable. Okay! New plan!" she claps her hands, "I'm going to stay here and repair the ship. Acroyear is going to stay here with me and watch my back. Dexam and you three are going to continue the mission. There's a radio on the ship I can call you guys with if I get into real trouble, and hopefully, I can get it up and running by the time you’re ready to get out of there."

    "If not...you three guys can fly, right? Scott said all of your team can fly."

    Julian nods uncertainly. "Yeah, we can... Still, we'll have to take this ship to get back home, won't we?"

    "Yes... well...I'm going to work on that," she says. "Let me worry about that. I designed it, I can fix it."

    Miles nods. "We'll try to keep them too busy to worry about you, Ms. Van Dyne."

    Julian cracks his knuckles. "So we good to do another Hydra World?"

    "Sure am," Michael rumbles.

    Dexam looks at the three. "Follow me, I know a secret way into the castle with minimal guards. By the time we arrive, Argon's distraction attack will be underway."

    Miles nods. "Lead the way. We'll be right behind you."

    The group takes off through the volcanic Barony.

  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    edited October 29
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    The Ithakan ship flies across the surface of the world at incredible speeds. After a time, it slows and begins to land.

    "We are landing in Antica," Arcturus says to the group. "It is a dangerous region, full of beasts. Hopefully Lang will be able to prevents from being assailed."

    Elise makes a face. "He had better."

    Scott brushes off his shoulder, "I got this."

    The ship lands, and the group disembarks.

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    It's like an alien rainforest, teeming with life that Elise does not care for.

    "Eurgh. The ground is all spongey. I'm gonna hover. I don't even care if I drain my harness battery."

    Scott says "I can get us some rides while you do your thing. Hang on." He walks off.

    Arcturus turns to Elise, and draws a metallic fragment from his belt. "This is a piece of metal from the Star Forge, where the Sword in the Star was crafted. Lang told me you were like a Hunting Beast, in that you needed to catch a scent of something related to your quarry to track it.

    "This relic is the closest thing we have. It is sacred to the people of Ithaka, I had to negotiate with the High Priests to acquire it. I'm showing a lot of faith in you, Sensate."

    Elise gingerly takes it. "Okay. Well, uh, I'm not intending to like...betray that." She takes a deep breath.

    Elise has a choice. This is an ancient relic in an alien environment in another universe. For her to try to track something here, she'd have to open her senses in a way that is...potentially dangerous. She's not sure what would happen. But it'd be the only way to possibly find it.

    "Scott, you owe me so fuckin' bad." She opens her senses fully.

    She can feel her mind...slip away… Her senses....entering something...

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    Jacobkosh on
  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    edited October 29
    She's been here before. It's the Astral Plane.

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    "Oh, God damnit. Julian? Clay? Anyone? ...Hello?"

    Elise can feel a presence. There is something here. She's not alone. It's not something inside her head. It's someone else, inside the Astral Plane.

    "...Jewels, bud, that you?"

    Elise has a choice. She doesn't know who this individual is. She could reach out to them...or not.

    She reaches out.

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    Who... are... you…

    "I'm just visiting! Just a little mishap! I'm real sorry, I'll get right out of your hair."

    What... do... you... want…

    "The...sword in the star?"

    What... will... you... give…

    "Uh...what do you...want?"

    Exchange

    "I don't know what you want. I don't know what I can offer. Money? I have a shit ton of money?"

    Equivalence

    Elise can feel a shaking inside her. Like the entity is becoming impatient.

    "I still don't know what you want! Knowledge?"

    Knowledge.

    "Of what?"

    The pact is sealed

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    That’s always a thing you want to hear!

    "What pact? I didn't agree to anything!"

    Knowledge for Knowledge is Equivalence. The pact is sealed.

    Elise can feel herself falling, like in a dream. "No. No!"

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    Jacobkosh on
  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    She jolts awake. Ryann and Sam are standing over her. “Welcome back,” Centurion says.

    She blinks. She knows the way to the Sword.

    "Hey! I got us some rides!" Scott has arrived.

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    "Is she okay?"

    “Yeah, I think she went on one of her trips,” Ryann says. He helps Elise up. “You good?”

    "Oh, dang,” Scott says. “Did she find the Sword?"

    "...Yeah. I think I'm good. And I know where it is," she says, clambering to her feet. "We'll talk later about what I saw."

    Scott looks at Rann. "See! Told you."

    Jentorra looks at Rann. "You should not have doubted him."

    Acturus grumbles. "Fine."

    Ryann hops on one of the exotic creatures. “Come on, Elise.”

    "I am not riding on one of those things," she says.

    Scott coos at his ride. "Awwww, but they're nice."

    "They are not nice."

    Scott isn’t really listening. He pats one of the long-legged creatures. "I'm gonna name this one Nibbler, because he nibbles."

    "Huaguahgahgahghag." She makes a face. "I just, I want it on the record, we wouldn't be here if it weren't for me, and I found the thing. And I want, I want so many coupons."

    Scott scoops up Jentorra, who sits behind him, her arms around him. He looks at Elise and puts his finger in front of the mouthpiece of his helmet in a 'shush' gesture.

    Elise gives him a thumbs up. He returns the gesture, and the group heads off in search of the Sword in the Star.

  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
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    Moving through the black lands of the Barony, Miles’ team eventually reaches the castle. They hear alarm klaxons going off, and the distant sounds of battle.

    "That is Argon's attack..." Dexam whispers to the trio. He approaches a rock face, and puts his hand against it. He squints, and then looks confused. "I... I cannot access the doorway. It isn't responding to my commands."

    "They must have removed your clearance. Let me try." Miles presses his hand against the doorway.

    Miles, their computer systems are absurdly foreign. It is, to use an analogy, like trying to insert a key into a lightswitch.

    "No go," Miles says with a frown. "Michael, could you do the honors?"

    Michael cracks his knuckles "I got it." His faceplates open and he looses a blast of cosmic flame at the door. The door is obliterated. An alarm is set off, but it’s just one more added to the tumult.

    "We must go, now, while the element of surprise is still ours!" Dexam leads the group through the castle. Miles follows, assiduously recording everything for the sake of both intel and aesthetics.

    On the way, they run into twenty armored soldiers, wielding energized staffs.

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    Miles wades in, smashing through what he quickly discovers are robotic minions. Dexam unleashes a blast from his chest light, searing through a group of the guards as Julian takes down a number of Barony soldiers with fireballs.

    Michael unleashes a beam at the soldiers, sweeping the blast across a large group, though he has to cut the blast short when it nearly hits Dexam.

    Fewer than half the soldiers remain, and they start to retreat. "Leave them! They are not our target!" Dexam shouts.

    "Lead the way," Miles says.

    The team proceeds on their mission through the castle. They travel to the dungeon, where they assume, according to Dexam, that the princess would be kept.

    ....she isn't there. Dexam is confused. "I don't understand...she couldn't possibly be in another castle..."

    "Maybe she's locked in the tower?" Michael offers.

    "Is there a chapel?" Miles asks urgently. "If she's not here, I bet they're about to get married. That's always how this goes."

    Dexam stares at Miles, shocked. "That...that's mad, but that's...Karza is just mad enough to think of such a plan. Force the Princess into marriage, to try to claim himself legal ruler of Ithaka.

    "We need to head to the throne room."

    Julian strokes his chin. "It's a classic move, really."

    Miles nods. "I really wish I had some fur underwear right now to just...complete the vibe."

  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    The group moves through the castle to the throne room, bursting through the door for maximum dramatic effect.

    "I OBJECT TO THIS WEDDING!" Miles cries.

    They face a legion of at least fifty robotic soldiers, as well as three others.

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    "Oh, I'm sorry..." the black-armored despot sitting on the throne chuckles. "You're a bit late. The wedding happened quite some time ago. Didn't it, my beloved?" He turns to the woman in the red dress, who smiles back at him.

    "Of course, Baron Karza," the former Princess - now Baroness - Mari agrees.

    Realizing she must be mind-controlled, Miles leaps into action. "Julian! Un-mojo her mind! Behemoth, Dexam, throw down with the Baron! I'll tackle the witch lady! THUNDER-THUNDER-THUNDERCATS!"

    Julian carefully attempts to probe Mari's mind, but he’s never been very good at being careful. He has a choice. If he's trying to undo any mind control that might have been done to Mari, he could not do so...gently. He may harm her. Or, he can pull back, and do no harm, but to no avail. He pulls back. He's not about to cause a diplomatic incident here.

    Dexam rushes the Baron, who puts up his hand laughs. "Stop. The Seven Stars Align." Dexam freezes in place. He turns and looks at the team.

    "Kill them," Baron Karza commands.

    With a roar, Behemoth blasts the Baron, who puts crossed forearms in front of himself to block it. He takes the blast, but it knocks him down to one knee. Michael can see the armor on Karza's forearms is smoking and slightly melted, but still intact.

    Miles pins Visalia, the woman in red, against the wall as she attempts to draw her glowing magic sword. She hisses at him, like a snake. Miles grins joyously. "Cool!"

    He hurls Visalia at Dexam, trying to bowl him over with her. He does so with such force that both crash through a stained-glass window that was in the image of Karza himself. Visalia screams as she falls.

    Michael charges towards Baron Karza, smashes the tyrant into a wall with his metallic bulk, then driving the Baron further into the stonework with a blast.

    Out of the corner of his eye, Julian can see Mari trying to hide from the battle. He tries to get through to her. Princess! We're here to help you get back home!

    BONK! Julian gets hit from behind with an energized staff, and, distracted, he fails to transmit any intelligible telepathic message

    He feels...vengeful. Like heat rising through his body. His skull bursts into flame as the Spirit of Vengeance protects him from harm. The minions take a shuffle-step back.

    Miles shoots his extending arms up, grabs the massive chandelier atop the room, and yanks it down to the floor around the minions, crushing a few and corralling the rest.

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    Purely for my own lulz, I had Miles only make attacks out of the classic 80s playbook. Because of broadcast standards about kids’ television, 80s cartoons had strict rules against hitting, kicking, or swinging weapons at opponents, so He-Man and Lion-O spent a lot of time doing things like this - wrapping enemies up in big carpets, trapping them inside falling chandeliers, or doing body throws out of convenient windows or off cliffs.

    Michael gets up in Baron Karza's face and unleashes a blast point blank. But he has a choice.

    He can absolutely unleash on Baron Karza with his full power...but Michael knows he draws his strength from the Odinforce. And the Odinforce is a non-renewable resource these days.

    The blast, Michael figures, will annihilate Karza. He's quite certain. But it will sap Odin just that much more. Does he justify it?

    He does not, and dials down the force of his blast. The lesser force still damages Karza's armor, but doesn't seal the deal. Karza begins pushing Behemoth off of him.

    Julian feels the heat rising. Spectral chains clink around him, wreathed in flames. He whips them at the robotic horde. He can destroy the minions...but he'll do significant structural damage to the throne room.

    The Phoenix Rider unleashes his wrath across the room! The minions are torn apart as Mari screams "What are you doing, you fools?!" The room starts shaking.

    Miles tries to seize Mari to fly her to safety out the new window he made. But she ducks, grabs him by the shoulder, and tosses him out of the window instead. He manages to catch himself on a ledge underneath before he hits the ground.

    "Michael!" he radios. "Your turn!"

  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    "Kinda got my hands full!" Michael says as he cocks back his fist. Behemoth begins slugging Karza's head in over and over again as the metal bends and crumples until it begins to make crunching noises and Karza stops moving.

    Mari looks at Karza's limp body falling to the ground. She looks around at the crumbling roof. She lets out a deep breath. "Well, now we have to leave." She seems to be taking the death of her husband fairly well. She points at Michael, "Grab his body. We need it."

    "Uh, okay then." Michael scoops up the Baron's body.

    Mari runs over to the window and looks out of it, looking for Miles just as he hovers back into view. "Alright, Karza, this is your - oh.

    "Uh. Hi?"

    She reaches out to Miles. "We need to go."

    He nods and hoists her onto his shoulders. "Your chariot awaits, your majesty."

    The Phoenix Rider unsummons his chains and hops aboard his flaming motorcycle. "Let's get out of here,” Julian says. “I might have overdone it a bit."

    "Land at the front gates, in front of Karza's soldiers and generals," Mari directs the team. "And then trust me."

    "...Yes ma'am." Miles blasts toward the Barony’s army.

    From up here, they can see that Argon's attack, which was always a feint, has since retreated. Karza's soldiers and generals are falling back to the castle, in response to the keep crumbling.

    The trio, with Mari and Karza's body in tow, land in front of them.

    "Stop!” Mari cries. “As your Baroness, I command you!" The soldiers stop, looking confused. "Throw his body down at my feet..." she says quietly to Michael.

    Michael dramatically drops Karza’s body before the assembled horde.

    The Baroness puts one foot on his corpse, and her fists on her hips. "Baron Karza is dead. As his wife, I claim his lands as Baroness. I am your ruler now! Swear fealty to me, or be destroyed.” She raises one hand. ”Kneel."

    The troops and generals look to each in momentary confusion, and then begin kneeling in waves, chanting "All hail the Baroness!"

    She shouts to them, "Tomorrow, you will march to Ithaka, where you will join my city-state in a united nation under my rule.

    "The war is over. Now, go."

    The troops begin to disperse, and when they are out of sight, Mari leans over, hands on her knees, and breathes heavily. She collects herself, and looks at the STRIKE agents. "I take it my brother sent you? Given poor Dexam was with you."

    Miles nods. "I'm sorry about him. I wish we could have helped more."

    She groans. "So do I. I also wish I could have told my brother of my plan.” She sighs. "It matters not. Come."

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    So we got to have our Saturday morning fun, but there were a few modern wrinkles; the wedding had already happened, the helpless princess wasn’t helpless at all, but had a plan. And there’s more to come.

  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    The three Earthlings walk with her as she explains. "I knew of Karza's plan to kidnap me and use me for leverage. I permitted it, on purpose, because once so captured I allowed him to believe he himself conceived of the idea to wed me and take command of Ithaka by such a union.

    "It did not occur to him that, in death, his widow would also have such a claim. An arrogant man like him would not see such a thing as his own death being a factor."

    Miles nods. "Or he may not have really cared what would become of his city if he were to die."

    She shrugs. "Perhaps.”

    “At any rate,” Miles says, “we have a ride back to Ithaka. The rest of our team is retrieving the Sword in the Star. I hope they've been as fortunate."

    "The…” She stares. “Are you serious?" He nods, puzzled. "They can't," she says urgently.

    "Wait, why not?"

    "Because then Arcturus would have claim to be king."

    Miles has a sinking feeling in his chest that he's not going to like what he's about to hear.

    "Arcturus is many things, but a man to be king he is not. He thinks it is his place by right of prophecy and destiny. But he's a man of science, an adventurer, not a politician or leader.

    "I love Arcturus, and one day, I would like to make him my husband, but not as his Queen as he is monarch."

    Miles heaves a deep breath. "Do you want us to...stop them?"

    "Yes! It is imperative, because there is one other salient detail, and perhaps they did not deign to tell you this..." Her voice goes low. "The one who wields the Sword in the Star wields the Enigma Force.

    "The power to cleave time and space in twain and go anywhere, travel anywhere, with no limitations or barriers. For a man of science, an adventurer like Arcturus? I don't...I don't know if he should have that kind of power."

    Miles purses his lips and nods. "Is there someone you'd prefer to have it?"

    She shakes her head. "Could anyone? It does not matter. He certainly cannot. You have to stop him."

    Miles nods. He begins messaging Ryann, but X-51 interrupts. Miles...I'm not getting a response. I don't know that we can communicate with them effectively at this distance. We may need to find them before it is too late.

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    So getting the sword is a bad idea.

    And we sent Elise on that mission.

    You can imagine how Miles feels right now.

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    NytewarriorFencingsax
  • NytewarriorNytewarrior Registered User regular
    Saturday morning cartoon quest!? Hell yeah!!

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  • NytewarriorNytewarrior Registered User regular
    I finished a complete re-read of this crazy, awesome story earlier today, and I think that I have an idea who Rabum Alal, The Doom Above All is. Gonna put this behind spoilers.

    So, here we go:
    If I were a betting man, I'd be willing to bet good money that Rabum Alal is gonna be Doom-616 or Doom-1491(this is the right designation for the game world right?). Here's why:

    I can't remember exactly, but Doom told either Elise, or Freedom Force as a whole, that he used the time ship to tell himself to not join the Parliament.

    I don't know why but this made me think of something that happened to Doom-616; In Jonathan Hickman's Fantastic Four run Doom acquires, not one but, two Infinity Gauntlets and creates a completely new world. One in which one half is based around science and the other is based around magic. Needless to say, it ends up backfiring on him. When he returns to Earth-616, Reed and the Future Foundation, ask him what happened and Doom replies: "Doom became a god and found it was beneath him:" Or something to that effect.

    Later, during Hickman's Avengers/New Avengers and Secret Wars run, Doom, with the help of Owen Reece a.k.a The Molecule Man, worked to stop incursions of the other Marvel Universes. (If I'm sounding kinda vague, it is intentional. Hickman is one of my favorite comics writers and I think that everyone should, at least, check out his Secret Warriors, Fantastic Four, Avengers/New Avengers, Infinity, Secret Wars, and his current X-Men stuff. You may of may not like it, and you know what, that is okay.) It is during this time that Doom forms a religion around his identity as Rabum Alal, The Great Destroyer.

    I know that there is a pretty good chance that I'm wrong, but its something that came to me and I thought I'd share.

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  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    I finished a complete re-read of this crazy, awesome story earlier today, and I think that I have an idea who Rabum Alal, The Doom Above All is. Gonna put this behind spoilers.

    So, here we go:
    If I were a betting man, I'd be willing to bet good money that Rabum Alal is gonna be Doom-616 or Doom-1491(this is the right designation for the game world right?). Here's why:

    I can't remember exactly, but Doom told either Elise, or Freedom Force as a whole, that he used the time ship to tell himself to not join the Parliament.

    I don't know why but this made me think of something that happened to Doom-616; In Jonathan Hickman's Fantastic Four run Doom acquires, not one but, two Infinity Gauntlets and creates a completely new world. One in which one half is based around science and the other is based around magic. Needless to say, it ends up backfiring on him. When he returns to Earth-616, Reed and the Future Foundation, ask him what happened and Doom replies: "Doom became a god and found it was beneath him:" Or something to that effect.

    Later, during Hickman's Avengers/New Avengers and Secret Wars run, Doom, with the help of Owen Reece a.k.a The Molecule Man, worked to stop incursions of the other Marvel Universes. (If I'm sounding kinda vague, it is intentional. Hickman is one of my favorite comics writers and I think that everyone should, at least, check out his Secret Warriors, Fantastic Four, Avengers/New Avengers, Infinity, Secret Wars, and his current X-Men stuff. You may of may not like it, and you know what, that is okay.) It is during this time that Doom forms a religion around his identity as Rabum Alal, The Great Destroyer.

    I know that there is a pretty good chance that I'm wrong, but its something that came to me and I thought I'd share.

    I never read any of the Hickman stuff; I kind of wandered away from keeping up with Marvel around the time Bill Jemas left (nearly twenty years ago, yikes), so a lot of the major elements in this game, like the Council/Parliament stuff, Leviathan, and Secret Invasion, are either new to me, or things I'd only experienced in other media (for instance, Leviathan and the Black Widow program showing up in Agent Carter), so I often have no idea how this stuff will go. That said, from my totally clueless point of view that seems like a pretty cool theory. Without getting into spoilers, I can tell you that the Parliament and Rabum Alal are going to begin figuring a lot more prominently as season 4 approaches its end, and things take a swerve that I 100% did not see coming.

  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    Also, congrats, condolences, and big thanks on your re-read :D There's a lot of stuff in this campaign that I only really came to appreciate when I began this project and started combing through the logs. Lots of little connections and character beats that had slipped by me the first time. I hope it's been as fulfilling for you to revisit as it has been for me.

    Fencingsax
  • FencingsaxFencingsax It is difficult to get a man to understand, when his salary depends upon his not understanding GNU Terry PratchettRegistered User regular
    edited November 5
    Jacobkosh wrote: »
    Also, congrats, condolences, and big thanks on your re-read :D There's a lot of stuff in this campaign that I only really came to appreciate when I began this project and started combing through the logs. Lots of little connections and character beats that had slipped by me the first time. I hope it's been as fulfilling for you to revisit as it has been for me.

    I recently did a reread as well and I found it pretty cool, yeah.

    Fencingsax on
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    JacobkoshGrog
  • NytewarriorNytewarrior Registered User regular
    Jacobkosh wrote: »
    Also, congrats, condolences, and big thanks on your re-read :D There's a lot of stuff in this campaign that I only really came to appreciate when I began this project and started combing through the logs. Lots of little connections and character beats that had slipped by me the first time. I hope it's been as fulfilling for you to revisit as it has been for me.

    I enjoyed it about as much as the first time, maybe a little more because of being able to focus more on the little things, rather than focusing on the plot as a whole.

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