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[Actual Play, NSFData] Marvel's Agents of STRIKE - S04E12: "Cut the Knot"

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  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    Looking for any hint of where to go from here, Elise opens her senses. The place is a symphony of smells both familiar and alien. Exotic, and known. She fixates on a familiar smell. A cologne. A cologne of someone she knows.

    ...it's Rick Jones' cologne.

    She'd know that jerk's weird mix of sweat and Aqua Velva anywhere in the cosmos. Her eyes widen. "No fucking way."

    "Guys, you'll never believe who I smell. Rick Jones, that rude dude," Elise exclaims. "He could be anywhere, so hopefully we don't run into him, because the last thing I want to hear is him lecturing us about...whatever he's mad about. It's always something dumb."

    "Bigger question is, is he stuck here too, or does he visit this place and have a way out?" Michael asks.

    She makes a face. "Ugh. Gross. Are we morally obligated to find that out?"

    "Not morally, no. Just nice to have an escape route," Michael notes.

    "Ugh, you're right." As Miles and Julian rejoin the others, Elise sniffs the air. "Where is that fucker. Is he close? Maybe he fell off a cliff, and his legs broke."

    Miles frowns. "If Rick Jones is here, we need to find him. He might be in trouble."

    Elise stands in the middle of the market, sniffing the air and tilting her head from side to side. She begins threading her way through the streets, and the group falls into line behind her.

    They find where the scent is coming from.

    FqRiLq3h.jpg


    "Wait, Rick's... It can't be." Elise blinks. "Is he some Multiverse Rick who runs a cafe here?!"

    "That fuckin' hypocritical sum bitch.." Michael mutters.

    MIles shakes his head. "It's not our Rick." Hopefully.

    "Hey!" Elise hops up on a table. "Hey, where's Rick?"

    "Get down from there," a familiar voice barks.

    4tGZA73l.jpg

    It's Rick Jones.

  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    "Hey, there's Rick!" Elise waves. "Do you know who I am?"

    "Someone who doesn't respect the establishment."

    Elise squints at him. "Okay, but that doesn't solve the real question..."

    "Kid, I don't know you. If you know a Rick in your universe, that isn't me."

    "Moral dilemma solved! We can boogie." Elise hops down. "Wait! Can I get a selfie with you?"

    He looks baffled. "I guess?" Elise puts on her biggest grin and snaps a few photos with Alt-Rick.

    Then Rick notices the others. "Hey, are you Michael Westin?"

    Michael nods slowly. "Uh, yeah? Why?"

    "On your world are you a bad-ass SHIELD agent?"

    "Yes, I am."

    Elise leans towards Julian while Michael and Rick converses. "I'm going to send these to our Rick's email," she whispers.

    Julian nods excitedly. "Do it!"

    "I'm going to make up this whole story about how me and this other Rick were best friends," she whispers excitedly.

    Rick smiles warmly at Michael. "Good stuff, kid. Did you end up turning into a cyborg too?"

    "Kinda? Got an Uru arm from Asgard after my fleshy one got ripped off from a portal closing."

    "Oh. Huh," Rick nods appraisingly. "So, are you and your buddies looking to jump in to the Mojo Royale?"

    "Yes we are,” Michael says. “Apparently we need a sponsor for it, though."

    He nods. "Well, I stay out of that stuff. My cafe is neutral ground." A pause. "But I know a guy."

    "That would be a huge help," Michael says.

    "Look for a guy named 'Forge'. Tech guy. He'll set you up. Tell him Rick sent you." He points at the Gello ball that Julian is holding. "Oh...don't eat that. I mean, not unless you're looking to have a kid."

    "Are you looking to have a kid?" Elise squeals. "A beautiful redheaded baby with that one chick? A psychic baby!"

    Michael laughs. "Is the Mountain Dew to help make your body more fertile, Julian?"

    "I... maybe?" Julian pokes the Gello ball with a mixture of wonder and disgust.

    "Our kids can be friends!" Elise squeals. "We can do play dates!"

    MIles turns to Rick. "Is there anything you can tell us about Forge, or the Mojo Royale?"

    Rick nods. "Sure. If you're good friends...you're going to have to kill each other to win the Mojo Royale. Only one of you can win.

    "Forge...Forge has been here a while. Him and his mutant buddies have had it rough. They're still trying to focus on, y'know, escaping." Rick shrugs. "Me, I focus on making a damn good cup of coffee."

    "If we find a way out, do you want a lift?" Miles asks.

    "I don't like that 'if', Chief," Julian says with a frown.

    Rick laughs. "I...I don't even know," he says. "I've been here a while. I don't even know what's happened to my Earth since I left. Maybe they've been destroyed by Skrulls or something."

    "This 'Prize', do you know what it is?" Michael asks.

    "If you win, you get to meet with the Big Yellow Slug himself, and request passage to anywhere in the multiverse. Can be back home, can be a paradise of your choosing, can be whatever."

    "Interesting..."Michael says.

    "This also applies to your sponsor," Rick adds. "Hence why sponsors participate at all."

    "Hm. Kind of thought the prize would be the Cube," Elise murmurs.

    "It probably is, but this Mpjo guy isn't gonna give it up or advertise that it's up for grabs,” Ryann says softly.

    Rick raises an eyebrow at Elise. "What Cube?"

    She grins. "Saw some cubes of Gello back there that looked tasty." I wonder if I could grab the thing when we meet him.

    With a puzzled shrug, Rick gives the group directions to Forge's place. "Best of luck to you guys. And...don't think you can try to cheat it, and outfox the system so you don't have to kill each other. Forge's 'X-Men' buddies tried that. Didn't...didn't go so well. He can explain."

  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    With directions in hand from Rick, the team sets out through the city to find Forge, a potential sponsor for the Mojo Royale.

    98hQmL7h.jpg

    "What do you think Rick meant back there? Like when he was talking about Forge?" Ryann looks at Miles.

    Machine Man frowns thoughtfully. "It sounds like Forge was a member of the X-Men of some alternate universe or another who found their way here. It doesn't sound like it went well for them, either. Here's hoping we can succeed where they failed."

    Michael nods. "With our track record, I'd like to think we'd have a much easier time swiping the Final Tesseract from this Mojo guy than some alternate X-Men team."

    "I got an idea about that," Bob says. "What if we run the same deal with the Mojo Royale that we did with Kang's contest?"

    "Explain," Ryann starts to say, turning to Bob.

    But upon Bob saying the words 'Mojo Royale', a nearby holographic advert chirps, and begins displaying an image and blasting music.

    HWfNtdul.png



    Julian scowls. "Slay-per-view?!" He listens along to the theme for a moment. "...Ugh, but the music is good."

    "What is this song?" Ryann asks.

    Bob stares. "I have no idea but it owns."

    "A classic," Miles says raptly.

    "Hey, that could have been your new name, Elise. Princess Universe," Ryann smirks.

    Julian fingerguns at Ryann. "Hey, yeah!"

    "Princess is part of my secret identity," Elise shoots back. "Because I'm dope, and I do dope shit."

    "Ok, Cap," Ryann chirps.

    "Anyway..." Bob continues, "So, a while back we got kidnapped by this time-travelling ass-hat, Kang. That's why Doom ended up with a time-ship, by the way. Because we fucked that guy.

    "He was going to make us duke it out with a bunch of super-villains for the fate of our world. We said, fuck that, and allied with the bad guys, and the whole group of us just wrecked all his shit.”

    Elise shrugs. "I mean, sure. We don't need the other guys, though, do we? I mean, I can literally just baffo outta there, once I touch a monolith. Baffo all of us outta there."

    "Right, but the idea is to get the Cube," Bob points out. "And if only you have your powers, that puts us at a disadvantage."

    "We need to be prepared for what happens if 'baffo'ing us doesn't work," Miles adds. "Mojo's cube might trump the Enigma Force."

    "I don't think anything can trump the Enigma Force," she says.

    Ryann and Michael shake their heads at her. Miles just sighs.

    "If that's so, why do we need to worry about something neutralizing it?" Julian points out.

    Bob nods, pointing at Julian. "Like what if we face Mojo, and only you have your powers, and he just murders the rest of us? Without his fire stuff I don't think even Julian can come back from that."

    Nebula speaks up too. "Elise, you really want to carry the whole team on your narrow shoulders? What if Bob gets killed? You really want that on your conscience? If anyone is going to die, we all know it's going to be the guy whose only power is he shoots arrows."

    Bob squints at Nebula. "Hey. Fuck you." Nebula grins.

    Elise sighs dramatically. "I'm just saying it's good to be confident going into a thing."

    Bob grumbles. "Point of order, I'm probably the most competent right now because with you all covered in safety foam, the one-eyed man is king."

    Julian nods. "Personally, I think the dude who's lasted this long with just the arrows is gonna be the one clowning everyone else here." Bob offers Julian a fist-bump, and Julian hits it.

    "So it looks like if we want to stand any chance of pulling this caper off, we need as many of us alive and empowered as possible, which is easier said than done,” MIchael says. “In any case it won't matter unless we get sponsored."

    Miles nods at Michael. "Yeah. One thing at a time. Let's see what this Forge guy has to say."

    Elise clambers on Bob's back for a high-five. "I've only had the Enigma Force for like, two weeks, but I still have my super senses, so really I'm the king."

    Bob hits the high-five. "Alright, fair-enough, pint-size. Let's roll."

  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    edited November 23
    Working their way through the raucous crowds and riotous sights and sounds of the city, the team finds Forge's workshop. They hit a door chime when they arrive, and a voice from within tells them to come inside.

    SmKJfmYh.jpg

    Miles whistles. The group files in, and a man and a woman walk out from the back of the shop.

    trCwurIl.jpgiSTnhorl.png

    Miles’ eyes widen as he recognizes the woman. She's Alison Blaire. She was a famous musician...in the 1970s. Big disco star. She doesn't look her age, but then again, she's probably not from Miles' universe. "Alison Blaire? Holy shit, uh...do you...do you sing?"

    "Used to." She takes a long draw of a cigarette. She definitely has the voice of someone who used to sing. And now smokes a whole lot.

    "In my universe you were a disco queen. My dad had all your albums, used to blast them when he mowed the lawn."

    "...gross."

    MIles scoffs. "What, are you all, like, riot grrl or something on your world? C'mon. Disco rules."

    "I was an alt-rock musician, thank you very much."

    "Nice," Ryann nods approvingly.

    "It's okay, Miles,” Julian says. “I think disco rules."

    Elise looks at Alison, then down at her chest, sighs, and straightens her back and pushes her shoulders back.

    Forge is scowling at Julian. "Are you...Julian Adler?"

    Julian tilts his head. "...Yes?" Ryann cocks an eyebrow at Julian, who looks increasingly uncomfortable. "I feel like there's a story I'm not gonna like, here."

    Forge steps a few feet forward and looks closer. "Have you encountered the X-Men on your world?"

    "I've mingled a bit," Julian says.

    "...explain.”

    "I've liaised with them on a few occasions. I've visited the academy." He's ticking off on his fingers.

    "So you have...an amicable relationship?" Forge presses.

    "Oh yeah, I'd say so!"

    "You don't call yourself Mastermind?"

    "He's fucking a redhead from over there," Elise pipes up.

    "I get on great with Ms. Grey, and I got the best Christmas gift from the Professor. You wouldn't believe." Julian shoots a glare at Elise.

    "What!” Elise protests loudly. “She's a classy lady! You should show her off! Advice from a married lady, Jules!"

    Blaire raises her eyebrows up at what Elise said, and then snickers. "Is there...a Scott Summers in your universe?"

    Julian just laughs at Scott's mention. "Yeah."

    Blaire covers her face and whispers, "...oh shit..." She shakes her head. "God is that a universal constant or something...poor Scott..."

    "Anyway,” Julian says, trying to move on, “We're on good terms, sure. Like I said. We've mingled a bit. Not a huge professional relationship, though. Like, I'm not...an X-Man? I'm not on the team, so to speak."

    Forge nods. "But you're not a member of the Hellfire Club, is my point."

    Michael shakes his head. "I don't think Jules has ever referred to himself as Mastermind. Kind of had a different gimmick to name himself after."

    "The Hellwhah?" Miles holds up a hand. "What's that?" He's all ears.

    "Sounds like a Disney Secret restaurant or something," Michael laughs.

    Forge waves it off. "Doesn't matter. You're not who I was worried you were, and that's all that is important. They might not even exist on your Earth. So, brass tacks, what do you people want? Is this about the MR?"

    "Dude, I want to be a member of the Hellfire Club. I'd be like," Elise makes a karate chop. "Hiyah! Hello, ladies, I'm Elise Arnell, the Hellfire Princess."

    Blaire leans over to Elise and whispers, "They're linked to the Nazis."

    "Oh shit -"

    "HA!" Ryann crows.

    PHU1KZN.png
    Forge and Dazzler!

    dlbRuUbl.pngbzpaFKWl.png

    Alison Blare, better known as Dazzler, a mutant with the ability to convert sound into flashes of colorful light, was created in the late 1970s as part of an abortive multimedia co-promotion between Marvel and Casablanca Records. The idea was similar to those Japanese virtual pop idols, where there would be albums, videos, comic books etc about a fictitious character.

    Of course, with Marvel’s typical sense of timing, Dazzler was conceived after disco was already on the way out. The cross-promotion went nowhere, but just as with the Micronauts and Rom, which hung around in the MU long after their respective tie-in toylines ended, Dazzler just became a regular fixture of the comics (particularly as a recurring guest character and sometimes team member in the X-Men), changing styles and musical genres to match the times. When I started reading the X-Men in the mid-1980s, for instance, she had a very Cyndi Lauper/Debbie Gibson energy, and has gone on to be an alternative rocker, a grunge artist, a pop star, and so forth.

    Forge, a mutant engineer with the intuitive ability to create purpose-built bespoke machines to do any job but without understand how they work, first appeared in the X-Men in the mid-1980s as a sympathetic antagonist turned ally. A Cheyenne medicine man and Vietnam veteran, he is asked by the government to create a power-neutralizing weapon to combat the Dire Wraiths, but the gun is taken by NSA official Henry Peter Gyrich and used on the X-Men, where it permanently negates Storm’s powers.

    This kicked off an extended, years-long story arc where Storm, who had been hailed as a goddess in her home country in Africa and had maintained a kind of unassailable, saintly dignity, now had to content with the humbling experience of being an ordinary human while still serving as the X-Men’s tactical leader. Filled with grief and rage, she confronts Forge, and in an acclaimed story illustrated by legendary Conan artist Barry Windsor-Smith, they end up growing close while working to banish a demon that Forge had accidentally summoned with his shamanic skills during Vietnam. He’s since become a more or less permanent fixture of the various X-comics, rarely a main character but always there in the background.

    Like many other characters in Chris Claremont’s X-Men run, there’s a degree to which Forge’s conception could be regarded as problematic. Like I’m sure there are plenty of Natives who wouldn’t be particularly impressed with a medicine man from a real tribe being depicted as having actual magical powers. But he’s also a Native character who’s fully a part of the world he lives in, with a backstory that doesn’t just involve his ethnicity, with his own personality (very engineer-y - terse, drven, sometimes oblivious), and who’s allowed to be a sexy romantic lead. And I think that’s pretty emblematic of the X-Men as a whole. There might be stuff we’d do differently in 2019, but even now we’re not exactly tripping over love stories between an African woman and a Native man.

    Jacobkosh on
  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    Miles asks X-51 to make a note to research the Hellfire Club later. "This is about the Mojo Royale, yes. What can you tell us about it?"

    "It's a battle to the death. 16 entrants, one winner, one survivor."

    "Rick Jones says the X-Men tried to outwit it."

    Blaire grimaces. Forge sighs. "Yes. They...didn't." His expression is pained. "Here's how it works…

    "16 entrants. One winner, who is the last one alive. No 'powers', the place nullifies all abilities that would give you an edge over others. So if you're a telepath," he points at Julian, "nope. Mutant powers get shut down. If you're a cyborg, that'll still work. If you're alien, you'll still be able to breathe or whatever weird stuff you have with your basic anatomy, but the contest will bring you down to 'normal'."

    Elise narrows her eyes. "I still have my senses, though. Am I technically cheating? Do I have an edge?"

    Forge looks at Elise, "What senses? Do you have a mutant power?"

    "Kinda? I have super senses. Like, super super senses."

    "Yeah those will go bye-bye, unless it's cybernetic."

    "Fuuuuuuck!"

    "Or unless it's literally from a modified nose structure or something, which it doesn't look like you have."

    Elise, for the first time since being told she could keep the Enigma Force, looks concerned.

    "There's a twist, though," Forge adds. "At the center of the battle-field, there's a Monolith. First person to touch the Monolith, physically touch it, gets all their powers back."

    "...Just one person? Not everyone?"Elise asks.

    "That's right," he says. "So it's a mad dash to the middle, and you kill anyone who gets in your way so you get there first."

    "Figured as much," Michael sighs.

    "So, it should be me," she says decisively.

    Ryann sighs. "Yeah, it should be you," he says. "But it might not."

    "We'll try and run interference so you get there first," Michael says.

    "So we need to plan for that too," Ryann says.

    Elise pumps a fist in the air. "I thought you guys were going to argue with me!"

    "Hold on." Forge puts up his hand. "Hold on, hold on. What's your powers? I thought you said you had super-senses."

    "She did. She got new ones. The Enigma Force, it's a sort of dimensionally transcendent....uh...stuff...thing," Miles says. "It's vaguely-defined God power, I think. Hop between realities, alter matter, shit like that. Do you guys have Star Trek on your world? She's Q."

    "....huh." Forge pauses a moment, then shakes his head. "That still isn't going to help you, though. Because we tried that kind of scam." He looks at them gravely. "It didn't work."

    "...What?" Elise whispers.

    "So, listen, when my people, the X-Men, arrived here, we realized the same thing you probably did: we're trapped.

    "Only way to leave is to participate in Mojo's sick games. That's the prize for winning the Mojo Royale.

    "And we hatched basically the exact same plan you're hatching now. Stick together, work together, us against the rest of the contestants, our most powerful member gets the power of the Monolith and takes down Mojo, we're free.

    "And our most powerful member was Jean Grey, who had the power of the Phoenix Force. I don't know if you have that in your universe but...trust me, it's potent." He sighs. “You know what happened?"

    "I mean, I don't think I'm going to like it, but go ahead," Julian says.

    "Mojo wouldn't let her leave until she killed the other X-Men. She wouldn't do it. It was a stand-off. So he sent his Warwolves after them. She tried to fight them off, and protect the rest of the team, but she couldn't. She couldn't protect all of them. In the end, only she survived.

    “Which meant she won. And Mojo gave her...the Prize.

    “She was sent away. And I, her sponsor, was disqualified." He puts his hands on a console to lean for support, looking away, "Normally, a sponsor gets to share in the Prize. That's...that's why a sponsor does it. They get to go with you.

    "But Mojo determined I had cheated the deal, tried to pull a fast one. So, as an example to other sponsors, I was denied. Jean was sent off, because I think he couldn't actually deal with her any other way so he had to get rid of her."

    Elise laughs in relief. The horrifying story doesn't seem to have shaken her at all. "Oh, the Phoenix Force is baby shoes compared to the Enigma Force."

    Blaire looks at Elise. "You don't get it, do you?" She shakes her head. "No matter how powerful you are, your friends won't be.

    "You'll win. They'll lose. The deck is rigged."

  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    Miles nods slowly. "We come knowing a bit more than you guys did. We know Mojo's secret - where his power comes from. We're not looking to get home. We're looking to jack his shit," he says. "So let's talk about that."

    "The Final Tesseract," Blaire says, "Longshot told me about it. It's what lets him control this place. Make it one-way. Nullify powers. All of that."

    "...Longshot?" Miles asks.

    She looks down at the floor. "...my...husband. He's from here. Was, from here. He went with Forge's X-Men." She and Forge both look grim-faced.

    "I'm sorry," Miles says.

    She draws a cleansing breath. "Regardless, if you want to take the Final Tesseract from Mojo, whatever her powers are, the Enigma Force? It won't be enough. However he is shutting you down now, he could, in theory, do it again.

    "The Monolith is his control mechanism. As long as it exists, you only have your powers if he lets you. He could activate the Monolith again and take them away."

    "Right,” Miles says. “So we need another option. You two have had time to think about this. Do you have anything?"

    Forge nods. "He created the Monolith using the Final Tesseract. To destroy it, you'd need powerful weapons technology beyond its reach. Something created by the Celestials or the Builders.” He shrugs helplessly. "Like a Tactigon or something."

    "The Builders. I've heard of them before...do you have any idea who they are?" Miles asks. His brow furrows. "Tactigon?" That name sounds familiar....

    "Yeah, a Tactigon was an adaptive weapon created by the Builders. The Builders were...man..it's hard to explain. Their origins vary by universe, but in my universe, they were a precursor race from the universe before mine. Their war ended up destroying the universe, and Galactus survived. They're extinct, but a lot of their stuff remains. They created stuff like Cosmic Cubes and the like."

    "Is there something like that in this universe, do you think?" Miles asks.

    "So the tools exist," Elise says, sounding confident. "We just need the time to find them."

    Miles,

    Yeah?

    X-51 chimes in his mind, The gift Carol gave you, it is a defunct Tactigon. She said it was non-functional. It is in your left vest pocket, near your heart, because you are somewhat sentimental.

    "Wait," Miles says, "Wait. Wait! Everyone shut up!" He fumbles inside his vest. "Hey Forge. Think you can do something with this?"

    reCUWyml.jpg

    Forge gasps. "That's...that's a Tactigon. Are you serious?" His eyes have the wonder of a child on Christmas morning. He reaches for it.

    "It's burned-out," Miles says. "Nonfunctional. Supposedly." He rolls the dull jewel between his fingers. "Do we have a deal, Forge? You help us with this and we get you out?"

    Forge slowly nods. "Deal."

    "Go nuts." Miles hands it to him.

    "Hey, nice Miles!" Elise offers him a high-five, and Miles hits it.

  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    Forge takes the crystal and scans it with his cybernetic hand. "I see the problem. The AI core is burned out. Like someone killed the AI inside it. Tactigons are governed by a powerful AI, it's how they function. They're living, sentient weapons.

    “This one is effectively brain dead. If we could replace the AI in it, it would function. But it couldn't just be any old AI from just your average android. We're talking a super-intelligence. Something on the tier of a Celestial ship AI, like the one Cable used to roll with." His face sinks. "I...I don't know what to do with this."

    Elise glances at Miles. "What about X-51?"

    "Well, I'm just full of surprises today," Miles says. "Hey, X-51, feel free to chirp in here. What do you think about this? Can you manage this thing remotely? Or copy yourself onto it?"

    "Copy X-51?" Ryann says.

    "X-52?" Julian suggests.

    "X-102?" Elise adds. "Oooh, XX-51."

    "Adding more X's goes to a dangerous place," Miles notes.

    "Xfinity," Julian nods. "Wait, I think that's copyrighted."

    I could fork my operating runtimes into the Tactigon, X-51 says. It would not be...me. It would be a new artificial intelligence, based on my core system parameters. It would also have underlying elements of my personality, values, empathic notions, and so on. I would...hesitate to duplicate the specificities of my relationship attachments so as to not to create conflicting dynamics. I would need your assistance, Miles.

    Miles nods slowly. I'm okay with this in principle. The big question is what do we do afterward? Creating new life is a responsibility. What do you think...X-52 would want, after? We could build him a body, maybe?

    I am not certain. I am not entirely certain how the Tactigon operates. As for what I would want... I would want some kind of connection to an ambulatory frame. Either a body of my own, or, to be implanted in a body in a symbiotic relationship as we have now.

    Miles nods. That shouldn't be difficult, right? We still have Zola's synthezoid research, and options from galactic civilization, or alternate universes like this one.

    Indeed, X-51 thinks. It is entirely possible the Tactigon may be able to build its own body. I am not certain of its parameters. Insufficient data.

    Miles nods. Story of our life, right? But we have to try. Let's do this. He explains the situation to the group, and that he feels a responsibility to house X-52 after, if it can't do that itself.

    After making preparations in Forge’s lab, Miles begins to attempt the copy process, carefully working with X-51 step by step.

    He works slowly, painstakingly. But after a time, he realizes the transfer is destabilizing.

    Miles has a choice.

    The file-copy is corrupting. He can either allow the file-copy process to continue, which will possibly have...unknown consequences, as there will be corrupted data.

    Or he can discontinue the file copy, and turn it into an outright data transfer, and send X-51 itself into the Tactigon. It would be safer, but Miles would 'lose' X-51 in the process and X-51 would be transferred into the Tactigon. He would not be corrupted by the process, but could he be safely removed? Miles doesn't know.

    Miles sends X-51 into the Tactigon. "The copy...it's not working. X-51 has to go in wholesale."

    I understand, Miles. There was no other way, is the last message Miles receives inside his mind from X-51 as the file transfer completes.

    The crystal changes color.

    PHU1KZN.png
    This really happened. I borked the roll to perform the copy, and by so doing set in motion some big changes in Miles’ story.

  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    The room's lights briefly darken, and then come back to full light, and X-51's voice comes over all the speakers and comms in the lab.

    "Hello everyone," he says. "Everything is fine. I have full system access to the Tactigon. It is...quite impressive.

    "Suggested course of action: play along with Mojo's ruse. Enter the Mojo Royale as contestants. Miles will continue to carry...me, in his pocket as he has done thus far. He and I will be able to communicate over comms. I will not be detected by Mojo's scans.

    "Make your way to the Monolith. If it is possible to recruit other contestants, do so. If not, eliminate them. Be frank about the nature of our plan. If we are successful, they will also be emancipated. As will all residents of Mojoworld, as it is Mojo's power that keeps them trapped here.

    "Once Miles and I have arrived at the Monolith, and all other contestants have either been recruited or subdued one way or another, I will destroy the Monolith, and restore our powers. We will then be able to defeat Mojo and take the Final Tesseract."

    "Man, occasionally X-51 is actually pretty useful!" Elise sounds impressed. "Good job, bud."

    "Pfft,” Julian scoffs. “Occasionally."

    "Well,” Elise says. “He's no me."

    "Occasionally, indeed," X-51 says.

    Forge looks stunned. "What about us? Allison and I, and her son?"

    "...Son?" Miles swallows. "Well, um. If we find the Final Tesseract, we can portal you home, right? And also...um. This might be a, uh, a pipe dream, and it's kind of awkward to bring up, but maybe like...we could restore the dead? Or time-travel back to when they apparently died and pull a switcheroo?"

    Allison shakes her head. "Don't...don't over-promise and under-deliver. It's supposed to work the other way."

    Miles nods. "Yeah."

    Forge nods at Miles. "Allison was pregnant when the X-Men went into the Royale. Longshot insisted she stay behind. So, she did."

    Allison sighs. "Gaveedra is all I have left of him. If you can get us home, that's...that's enough. Don't try to mess with time."

    Elise nudges Longbow and leans in. "He's doing the hero thing again," she murmurs quietly. Bob nods quietly. "I hate the hero thing,” she continues. “Sounds like a good way to make our escape route out of here mad awkward."

    X-51 speaks over the comms. "Once Mojo is defeated and the Final Tesseract is taken from him, there will be no specific inhibition keeping any being here. I anticipate a mass exodus once this is realized.

    "In terms of net good, defeating Mojo will emancipate...hold for estimation...17.6 billion sentient beings. This is not the most lives STRIKE has ever saved, but it is...high-ranking."

    "There's one problem that I anticipate, and we gotta talk about it now, because it'll be tough to talk about in the arena," Elise says. "Our sales pitch is that we're breaking everyone out with artifacts of immense power, right? And we're using that to recruit a whole bunch of desperate people?

    "I know desperation, and I bet you fifty bucks someone's gonna be tempted to make a grab for it."

    Bob nods. "Yeah, even people who aren't necessarily desperate, might have ideas about power and who has a right to it that might make them...handsy." He scowls. "Better to just grease everyone who ain't us. Cleaner that way."

    "So we break their hands," Michael says.

    "Woah, hey!" Elise protests. "There's a middle ground, I feel like."

    "...wasn't that your point?" Bob says.

    "Do I seem like the sort of person who ever has a policy of greasing everyone?" Elise asks indignantly.

    Bob shakes his head. "You don't have to, that's why I'm here!"

    "That's not why you're here!" she says. "Do you think we just bring you places, as, like, our murder guy?"

    "...do you not?"

    "That's my job, usually," Michael says.

    "You're my brother-in-law you fucking doof!" Elise says to Bob. "Not...Murder Guy!"

    "I mean, on my team, Red's our murder guy," Bob points out. "I just figured morality pyramids upward. Y'know?"

    Nebula turns to Ryann and says quietly, "I want you to know, I don't have these kinds of conversations with Carol. Mostly I get lectures about stealing."

    "No, I wouldn't think so," Ryann laughs.

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    I love Nebula the Dirtbag.

    Miles holds up a hand. "We're not killing anyone if we don't have to. I'm not saying it's off the table, we're going to be in a deathmatch with god-knows-what kind of people, I'm not a pacifist, but let's make it like, Plan C."

    "Right. My Plan A is get the monolith, get the tesseract, go Captain Universe, ka-pow, everything is awesome," Elise says. "Ka-pow!"

    Miles shakes his head. "Plan A is we get me to the monolith and X-51 does the kapow."

    X-51 chimes in. "Elise, there is a high likelihood you could be killed on the way to the Monolith. Your best avenue is to look for other team members, not the Monolith itself."

    Miles nods. "Then we...fight Mojo. That part is vague. Elise, as soon as your Captain Universe powers come back, I want you on locating him. He's probably in some kind of...throne room full of TVs, or some nonsense like that."

    "Like Thomas Jerome Newton crossed with Jabba the Hutt,” Julian shudders.

    Miles takes a beat to remember who Thomas Jerome Newton is. "That's...yeah, pretty much, Julian. Elise, your senses can find him, and the Enigma Force can help us get to him."

    Bob points a finger at Julian. "I understood that reference! ...I watched Star Wars recently."

    Julian holds a hand up high for Bob. Longbow hits that high five, and then leans in and whispers, "...who is Thomas Jerome Newton, though?"

    "Oh man,” Julian whispers back. “So I kinda don't wanna ask what he's like on your world, but if you know him, it's a David Bowie reference."

    Bob nods slowly, and then begins shaking his head. "I don't know who that is."

    Julian nods. "Okay. That's…almost comforting."

    “So we get to Mojo, we have our big showdown, yadda yadda yadda, we win, obviously, and Ryann or Michael grabs the Final Tesseract," MIles concludes.

    Nebula nods. "I nominate Ryann, he's the most trustworthy person to have it. He's also the fastest. He could grab it before Mojo even knows what happened."

    Miles nods. "Yeah, if it's an actual physical grabbable thing, definitely Nova Force that shit away from Mojo with a quickness."

    Ryann nods. "It's possible, but maybe Michael can have my back at that moment."

    Michael nods. "Of course, man. You are faster than me."

    "I'm just saying, I could take it," Elise says. "I mean, Enigma Force. It's pretty strong. I could teleport us out of there with it like, ka pow!"

    Michael shakes his head decisively. "Ka pow is not going to be your catchphrase, Elise. It's not gonna catch on." Miles nods gravely at Michael.

    Bob puts his hand on Elise. "Hey, kiddo, wanna come have a word with your future brother-in-law over here for a sec? I suddenly thought of a stag party thing I want to ask you. You do those on your world, right? Stag parties? I'm going to be super embarrassed if you don't."

    "We do, Bob, but I bet Elise has never heard the term. It's kinda...Hugh Hefner," Miles says.

    "Uh, yeah, we do stag parties." Elise says, surprised. "I think we do? Like, bachelor parties?"

    "Same thing," Bob says. He leads her to a corner and they begin speaking in low voices.

    While they confer, Miles steps over to Ryann. "Get that thing before Elise does," he murmurs.

    "The Force knows I'll try. Starting to think that's one of her powers."

    "Right? I just...on top of everything else, we really don't need that," Miles murmurs.

    While Bob and Elise speak to the side, Forge looks at the rest of the team. "It sounds like all of you have a plan. I'm willing to sponsor you, and arm you. If you don't have any weapons, I can give you guns and body armor. It looks like a lot of you have stuff already, which...good."

    "Weapons are allowed?” Miles asks. “I have Stark repulsors built in. Would those work?"

    "If they're built into you, because you're an android or cyborg or something, they should still work. Something that's magic or mutant-powers or whatever, they won't. Why does Mojo let tech work, and not other stuff? Because he wants to see people get shot up and blasted apart, that's why."

    "Fun guy," Miles frowns. "But okay, cool. At least I'm not going in completely disabled."

  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    Elise huddles with Bob. "I mean, what were you thinking, 'cause, like, I've never planned a bachelor party? Shouldn't I be focused on, like, the team? I want to help!"

    He shakes his head gravely. "So, I don't know if you're getting a lot of deja vu, shortpack, but I am. We're here in some extra-dimensional weirdo-zone, about to embark on some crazy gladiatorial contest directed by a fucked up cosmic being, and we're saying fuck that shit, we're going to steal his cosmic cube.

    “And...you're getting really insistent about how you alone are the best person to have that power. It...reminds everyone here of a very similar situation, y'know? And the one in that situation, he ended up not taking no for an answer and went for it anyway.

    "And just recently, you did that exact thing. You didn't take no for an answer. You went against orders. You grabbed the brass ring and took power for yourself.

    "Now, you'll argue 'but it worked out! It's been fine!'" He frowns. "Vlad kept making that argument too, Elise. ...until it wasn't fine."

    She looks stunned, and then hurt. "I just - I just want to help the team. And my family. I'm not running off with like, Doom, and doing weird shit like talking about how much I like castles."

    "He didn't start out that way either, Elise," Bob says. "He wanted to help everyone. He wanted to save the world. He wanted to save you.

    "He was motivated by good intentions...until he felt hurt and held back and told No too many times. And then he felt power was his right. And then he just wanted it for its own sake.

    "So he just started taking it.

    "Chances are, we'll need you to use the power of the Cube down the line. You're right in the sense that you're the person who probably has the most chance to do something good with it. But you don't need to be the one to dive on it. Not right off the shot."

    "...Okay," she says softly.

    "Now, two things." Bob puts his arms out. "One, give me a hug."

    Elise gives Bob a hug. There's some tension to her, but she seems more hurt than hostile.

    "Two, I want to have my party in Attilan, can you pull some strings?"

    "Pffft. I'm a princess. Of course I can."

    "Fuckin' nice."

    Elise sighs and socks Bob on the arm. "...Thanks."

    He fakes being really hurt and grins. They walk back to the rest of the group.

  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    edited November 24
    Forge puts an arsenal of weapons, ammo, and armor up on the tables. "Grab what you need. A variety of gear from across the multiverse that I've picked up, rigged up, modified, and built."

    Michael keeps his SWORD pulse rifle but takes a techy-looking sword from Forge's arsenal. Miles grabs an enormous gun with a weirdly squared-off barrel and which seems to have both a belt feeder, a magazine, and a charge pack.

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    Forge’s arsenal would obviously be packed full of Rob Liefeld guns.

    Julian looks across the array with a whistle. He looks for grenades and any kind of chained weapons he can get his hands on.

    Nebula picks up a sword, hits a switch on it, and it grows to something absurdly oversized, with a gravity generator to make it swingable and not completely unbalanced. "....oh…oh yes please."

    Elise steps up next to Miles and taps him on the elbow. "Next time you whisper to someone," she says, quietly. "Remember I have super senses, ya donk."

    "Okay, fine," Miles says, turning to face her. "So don't grab the thing. Don't try to grab the thing. Let Ryann do his job."

    "I'm not...gonna grab the thing. I promise. Pinky swear?" She holds out a hand and raises her eyebrows.

    "Pinky swear," he says, and extends his hand to meet hers.

    Elise grins. "So if I go back on this, you get to cut the pinky off. That's how this works, right?"

    "We're not the Yakuza," Miles says. "But I'll hold you to that anyway." Elise grins and steps to the weapons rack, where she grabs a pistol and spins it in her hands, testing the weight.

    Ryann takes off his gauntlet and hands it to Forge. "See what you can do with that."

    Forge looks at it. "Alien tech...what're you looking for me to do? Do you want a blaster on it?"

    "Yeah, that would work."

    Forge nods. "Easy mode." He grabs components and begins combining them effortlessly into the gauntlet, like he's conducting a symphony.

    "I'm going to toss an energy shield into this, just because. Hit this button here," Forge shows Ryann. "It'll create an energy shield kind of like Captain America. You guys have Captain America, right?"

    Ryann nods. "Thanks, Forge."

    "I'm Captain Universe," Elise butts in. "I'm gonna take two of these pistols, and a big fuck-off knife. Can you do anything to amp up this harness, too?" She lifts her shirt and jabs a thumb at the Doomtech. "Since I'm going to be a tiny baby in there, anything you can throw on there would be sick."

    Forge squints at it. "Hm. Kinetic shielding, holographic cloak, anti-gravity induction...pretty sophisticated stuff. Looks Latverian. I could...hang on...." He rummages around in a drawer like a mechanic looking for the right wrench. "Ah, yeah, found it."

    He holds up a violet chunk of metal, and begins building a housing around it. "Raw vibranium from the Wakanda of Earth-772854. It will absorb kinetic energy that your field deflects, storing it. When it reaches critical levels, you can project the energy using the grav induction coils in the harness."

    Julian's eyes widen. "Holy shit!"

    Forge attaches the housing to the harness. "Basically, if you take a bunch of hits, your harness will start glowing. Once it starts beeping, you press this button here, and you'll release a kinetic pulse that will knock the hell out of everything around you.

    "It'll increase how much the harness can absorb in terms of kinetic energy, too."

    Miles whistles. "Dang, that sounds great."

    "You, uh, got anything to beef this up? Maybe with fire?" Julian taps his body armor.

    "Hmmm... not sure…” Forge rubs his chin. "That's pretty advanced body armor. Has SHIELD branding on it, but looks like alien tech. I think you've got as good as I can give you, armor wise."

    "Hah,” Julian nods. “We appropriate what we can."

    Forge claps his hands together. "Alright, you guys look geared up, I'll send your paperwork over to the MR." He gives Miles directions on where the actual entry point is. "Go there, and talk to a woman named Spiral. She'll set you up with actual entry into the Royale. You'll be separated individually, and sent into the arena on your own. It'll be up to you to find each other and survive.

    "Good luck. Your plan is...surprisingly good."

    "Thank you for your help, Forge,” Miles says. “It means a lot."

    Forge nods. "I'm...I'm actually hopeful. I haven't been like that since....since I got here, pretty much."

    Elise shoots Forge a thumbs-up. "That's what we do! Bring hope, engage in minimal murder - BOB - and get stuff done!"

    Bob nods. "Minimal. The exact required amount of murder. No more, no less."

    Miles chuckles at Elise, then kind of squints at Bob, then turns to Forge. "I know you're taking a big risk on us, Forge. We're going to do our best to redeem your trust." Nodding at his team in satisfaction, he shoulders his giant gun. "Let's get ready for prime time."

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    Jacobkosh on
    Nytewarrior
  • PowerpuppiesPowerpuppies Registered User regular
    Jacobkosh wrote: »
    This really happened. I borked the roll to perform the copy, and by so doing set in motion some big changes in Miles’ story.[/spoiler]

    Is this no longer casually termed “Jake”ing the roll? Should i update my files?

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    FencingsaxMatev
  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    Jacobkosh wrote: »
    This really happened. I borked the roll to perform the copy, and by so doing set in motion some big changes in Miles’ story.[/spoiler]

    Is this no longer casually termed “Jake”ing the roll? Should i update my files?

    I don't Jake rolls anymore! The curse has moved on.

    Powerpuppies
  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    YUHMhV5.png



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    Following the directions given them by their sponsor in the Mojo Royale, Forge, Freedom Force moves through the chaos of Mojo City and come to a large official building. They explain to an armed guard they want to enter the Mojo Royale, and sit through laborious paperwork (in quadruplicate)

    Why is this necessary? Mojoworld is a realm of madness. Who is to say.

    Elise attempts to foist her paperwork off on Julian, and he shoves her away. "God, I thought Xandar's bureaucracy was bad!" he grouses as he navigates a particularly difficult form. "It's like it's just for theatre!"

    "I think that's it exactly," Miles says quietly, as he efficiently dots every i on his document. Nearby, Ryann has already finished his application, which sits in a neat stack before him.

    Some time later, the team is led into a massive chamber where a six-armed woman waits for them.

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    Ryann's eyes widen. That's a new one, he thinks.

    Miles blinks. "Hello."

    "I am Spiral. You are entrants into the Mojo Royale. I understand you all have the same sponsor. Do not believe this will make you anything but temporary allies. There can be only one victor in the Mojo Royale, Sponsored by Mojo Burgers™." She audibly says the 'tm.' Her tone is deadly serious as she does so, speaking in a near monotone.

    "Six arms, huh?” Elise chirps. “You must be great at hugs."

    "I am not," Spiral says. Two of her arms fold over her chest, while another points at the team. "You will be separated. Each entrant will begin alone in the arena. At the center is the Monolith. Do not attempt to hide, or remain in one place for too long, as over time the area of the arena itself will shrink with a 'death field.'"

    Elise snaps her fingers. "Hey, yeah, like Fortnite!"

    "The field is both audible and visual. The effect will slowly disintegrate you, destroying your flesh and bones. It is quite horrifying to personally experience, but results in great ratings."

    "...Yeesh," Miles grimaces.

    "The first individual to touch the Monolith at the center of the arena will gain the full capacity of all their powers. If they do not possess any such powers personally... they will get the choice of any powers that any entrant into the arena possesses."

    Bob is taken aback. "...huh."

    "...Huh." Miles scratches his chin in thought.

    "You know, you guys fucking suck at full disclosure," Elise says.

    Bob looks at Elise and smiles. "Captain Universe," he whispers. "It could be anyone." She squints at him.

    Spiral intones, "Prepare to be transported to the arena. The contest will begin shortly. If you are religious, you may pray. It will not matter, your gods cannot help you here, but you may feel better. It may also do well with religious demographics.

    "You will be recorded the entire time you will be in the arena. Fight and die spectacularly."

    "Don't worry," Miles finger-guns. "This is going to be bigger than Who shot JR?"

    "It was Kristin Shepard," Spiral says. "Kristin Shepard shot JR." The lights of the room begin flickering, and then dim. "It has begun."

    "Test your might," Miles intones before vanishing.

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  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
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    Ryann stands alone in the ruins of some city. It looks alien, but not like any world Ryann has seen.

    He spends a moment looking back a forth, taking in the vista, then check his gauntlet "Alright, I guess I'll head towards the tow -"

    A giant, horrific spider comes charging out of the ruins!

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    Venom drips from its fangs.

    "Let's see what this can do!" Ryann points his gauntlet at the charging spider. A beam lances out, and the spider explodes into a huge cloud of green mist.

    Hissing and popping, the mist starts rolling in a cloying cloud towards Ryann.

    Ryann rolls out of the way, but hears chittering and shrieking.

    "More friends?" He stands and looks around. And sees swarms of hundreds of the same spiders crawling all over the ruins towards him. Each the size of a grizzly bear.

    "Oh, fuck that." Ryann turns and tries to run, but there's too many. Everywhere he looks, there's more spiders. More and more spiders. This is impossible. An impossible amount of spiders, which is not an amount of spiders you ever want to have.

    As Centurion desperately looks for higher ground, he hears maniacal laughter coming from above him. "Fool! Know that you are doomed by the inevitable sorcery of the greatest mystic in the multiverse, Mysterio!" Following the voice upward, Ryann sees an orb-headed, robed figure standing on a nearby platform.

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    "Lay down your arms, and surrender, and I will make your death quick and painless. Resist, and your suffering will be unending."

    Ryann stops. He looks at his gauntlet. He looks at the horde of enormous, chittering spiders all around him. He looks back up at Mysterio. "Okay," he says. "Here you go." He raises his gauntlet at Mysterio and fires.

    Mysterio dissipates into smoke. An illusion. The spiders close in on Ryann. As one approaches, he tries to jump onto its back.

    But he has a choice.

    He's not even one hundred percent sure these things are real. If they are, he's basically going to be bronco-riding a spider the size of a bear. But if they're not real, he's going to eat pavement like a buffoon.

    He goes for it.

    And it turns out the spider is very real. He lands on it with a smack and steadies himself.

    Another Mysterio appears nearby. "Fool! Now you will suffer for your defiance at the hands of my nano-sorcery, as my cloud-spiders rend your viscera asunder."

    Ryann grabs the spider by the hairs on its head and yanks back, making it rear up. He levels his gauntlet and fires. "By the Force!" He blasts Mysterio again, but this one is also an illusion. And now he's got a bucking spider underneath him, and more clambering to try to get to him.

    Suddenly the spider dissipates from under him “Oof!” Ryann lands on the ground with a thud. Around him, the rest of the horde do the same, bodies falling apart into viscous black sand. They flow together in a ferro-fluid like gel, coalescing.

    They're...retreating.

    "Oh, what now?!" Ryann braces himself for the combined organism to turn into some kind of super-spider. He holds up his hands. "Ok, stop!" He detaches his gauntlet. "Here! Take it!" He holds the gauntlet out, looking around himself for Mysterio to appear again.

    Mysterio strides down a flight of stairs, the black goo flicking around him like tendrils. "Cast it to the ground, and you will not be killed."

    "Here, take it." Ryann extends the gauntlet outward, keeping the blaster aperture pointed away from Mysterio. "I just want to go home."

    Mysterio approaches. "I know you have allies in this arena. I saw you and your group enter the spire. I know that you'll work together, at least until the end. I know that you will be a useful hostage. They won't want to see you harmed." He reaches for the gauntlet. "You'll be the last one left alive, and it will be quick and painless for you, I promise."

    "Alright..." As soon as Mysterio places his hand on gauntlet, Ryann moves his thumb to the new shield button Forge installed. The force field activates with an electric crackle and Mysterio’s helmet shatters, releasing a cloud of nanomachines into the air.

    A synthetic, haunting shriek fills the air as the cloud dissipates and vanishes. The robe falls to the ground.

    Mysterio is gone.

    Ryann looks down at the robe and shakes his head.

    From behind a pillar, Nebula emerges. "Oh wow.

    "I did not see that coming."

    Ryann whirls around. "Were you there the whole time?!"

    "Yeah."

    He stares.

    "I was gonna stick him through the back like I did the Grandmaster," she explains. "I thought of a cool line this time!"

    "Yeah, I bet." Ryann hastily reattaches his gauntlet. "Well." Ryann shuffles the robe with his feet. "He's gone. Let's move on."

    She nods. "Yeah, let's find the others."

    "Glad you have my back now," he sighs, as they begin walking.

  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
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    Elise stands in a ruined wasteland. She is alone.

    Everything feels...blunted without her normal senses. She still gets sick from time to time, and this feels like she has a cold. Like she's stuffed up. Her hearing feels diminished, her eyesight feels blurry.

    None of those things are true. She's just...normal. But she's had her sense cranked to 11 for so long she's forgotten what normal is. It feels like illness. She feels clumsy and blurry and gross. Gone is her preternatural grace and agility.

    "I hate this. I hate this. I hate this." She taps her harness under her shirt. "Just you and me, Doomtech." She takes off into the sky.

    She flies for a bit, taking in the arena. It's a ruined city, alien in architecture. Not the insane kind of alien, like Thule. More like Xandar, or Sakaar.

    An energy bolt strikes her out of the sky. If she had her powers, she could have felt it coming on the wind. Dodged it. Instead, it just hits her, smashing into her kinetic field and knocking her out of the air.

    She plummets to the ground, landing with a loud thud. Fortunately, thanks to the vibranium upgrade, this entails no particular harm, although the harness starts glowing and beeping, indicating that it is charged with kinetic energy, and needs to discharge that energy.

    Elise grunts, frustrated, sitting up and looking around. "C'mon. C'mon, Arnell, where are they?"

    She hears a shrill voice shriek, one she has heard before. One she very much does not like. "MODOK KILLS!"

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    "Oh no no no no no no. The only way this could be worse is if it were him." Elise climbs to her feet. "Hey, there, buddy. You could kill, but what if I said you could win instead?"

    "MODOK IS ONLY DESIGNED FOR KILLING." He starts blasting with beams from his forehead. Elise dives back into cover, the blasts vaporizing concrete rubble nearby. She just needs to get close enough to trigger the harness...

    Suddenly, a huge piece of rock flies overhead and smashes into MODOK, bouncing off a force field of his own. He shrieks, and looks in the direction of the tossed rock.

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    "What." Elise decides to take advantage of the distraction and trigger the harness.

    She has a choice. She can get in there and detonate the kinetic blast, but it's going to hit both MODOK and this...Grey Hulk? And if he wasn't hostile to Elise before, he might be after, unless it KO's him. It's a risk. Or she can bail out, and let them continue to fight.

    Elise turns and runs. Fuck that. Fuck this. Let the two of them deal with each other.

    While she hightails it, she hears an explosion, and then Bob's voice yell, "Fuck you, asshole!" The sound came from the direction opposite MODOK and the Grey Hulk. Bob must be fighting someone else.

    "Bob! BOB!" Can he hear her? How does anyone live like this? Elise lifts up, flying as fast she can toward Bob’s voice.

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    Hulk has been grey a few times in his career. He actually began grey, in 1962’s The Incredible Hulk #1. However, the colorist and printers had immense trouble maintaining a consistent shade of grey, so Stan Lee decided to make him green with issue #2 and thereafter. The change was baked into canon such that flashback stories and even reprints of the original comic were recolored to have a green Hulk right from the beginning.

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    However, what most comics people think of when they hear “Grey Hulk” comes from an extended story arc in the early 1990s, by legendary Hulk writer Peter David. Bruce Banner at long last managed to integrate his own mind and the Hulk’s into the same body, but due to various circumstances, Banner’s personality is subsumed, but the Hulk retains some of his intellect, becoming a person of average intelligence who is the Hulk full-time, but with grey skin and considerably weaker than the full-on green Hulk. Neither fully Hulk nor Banner, this new personality finds work as a Las Vegas enforcer and bodyguard and calls himself Joe Fixit.

  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    g3xuawl.png

    Michael finds himself in a ruined city square. It looks like it might have been a marketplace at one time.

    "Huh, could be worse. It could be on fire." He surveys his surroundings warily, looking for any immediate threats. Nothing stands out at first...but then he hears a strange sound.

    The ground begins making a cracking noise. Like it's...giving way. The ground is collapsing under Michael. He takes off, a sinkhole yawning wide just behind him.

    He outruns the collapse, and sees a figure on a high ledge overlooking the chaos.

    ZnzlqGMl.jpg

    It's Rom: The Space-Knight. Michael recognizes him from the commercials. He jumps down from the ledge, and walks towards Michael. "The ground here seems stable enough. This ruin is precarious. I am Rom, last of the Space-Knights of Galador. You are?"

    "I am Michael Westin, Agent of SHIELD. You seem to be an honorable warrior, at least from what I saw of your commercials."

    Rom growls. His voice is partially synthetic. "Those damnable commercials. Bane of my existence. I beg you, do not ask me for an 'auto-graph.'" He bows his head. "Instead, are you prepared for an honorable duel?"

    "I am, but may I ask for just a moment of your time? My comrades and I have a plan to get rid of Mojo and free everyone. If after I've said my piece you wish to duel, then I will oblige you."

    Rom tilts his head, curious. "I accept your terms. Speak."

    "My team and I have defeated several 'god-like' beings before, some even more powerful than Mojo. It's our job. We have a means to wrest Mojo's control over this place, and free everyone here. We are aware that the odds are against us, and some may perish in the process, but to be honest, it's what we do. We save the world. We would be honoured to have your assistance."

    Rom cradles his metallic chin in his hand, and begins to nod slowly...before he is sent sprawling to the side from an energy blast.

    “Ha ha ha!” A sinister, metallic laugh echo across the ruins. When Michael looks towards the origin of the blast, he sees another figure he recognizes, this one from personal experience.

    oXuVlnPl.jpg

    It's Baron Karza.

    Michael races towards the stricken Rom, firing at Karza with his SWORD pulse rifle as he goes, but the blasts aren't very effective. Karza simply stalks slowly down some ruined steps towards the pair. It looks like the Baron has some kind of energy field around him, blocking Michael's shots.

    Rom struggles to his feet. "Baron Karza, you dishonorable cur. Let this be our final battle!"

    Karza laughs again. "Indeed it shall."

    Rom looks at Michael. "Blasting him will only make him more powerful. Only a blade or a fist is slow enough to pass his dark shield." Rom draws a sword from his back.

    Michael slings his rifle over his shoulder and draws the sword he got from Forge. "I killed you already in my world, Baron. Time to slice and dice."

    "If the Karza on your world died, then he was weak enough to deserve death," Karza snarls. "I have killed champions from a million worlds and only I stand alone. Prepare to die." He charges Rom and Michael.

    Michael leaps into the air, giant sword gripped tightly in both hands in an overhand slash. With an explosive flash of sparks, the sword penetrates Karza’s barrier, and the Baron is split in twain.

    Rom gasps. "By the Fourteen Moons!" He sheathes his sword. "I will join you in your quest."

    Michael twirls his sword before shouldering it, playing it up for the audience. "Glad to have your company, Rom."

    Rom extends his hand, and Michael shakes it with a smile.

    PHU1KZN.png
    Michael’s player rolled a big ol’ crit there, as you might imagine.

    Which marks the last time the dicebot was really kind to us for a while.

    jurner
  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    edited November 27
    g3xuawl.png

    Miles is walking through the ruins of the same ashen city that, unbeknownst to him, his comrades are also in.

    He hears X-51, now over comms and instead of in his mind. "Miles, I can't reach the rest of the team. Long range communication is jammed. This is anticipated, but unfortunate. Short-range communication seems to be limited within the radius of a city block."

    Miles nods rather than responding, not wanting to tip off X-51's existence to anyone who may be watching.

    "Miles Mason, former Agent of SHIELD, surveyed the blasted landscape," he intones. "He was far from everything he knew. His world. His beautiful fiancee. Would he ever see her again? But he was trained for a day like this. It all came down to this."

    At the last second, Miles notices a red-dot sight on his chest. He leaps out of the way, not fast enough to completely evade the shot, but fast enough to only get winged. The round cracks his armor and sends him sprawling, bruised but alive.

    He's under sniper fire from someone.

    "Owww! Nice try!, Miles shouted," Miles shouts, jumping to put cover between him and the direction of the sniper. This isn’t the first time he’s come under sniper fire in a ruined city.

    "Miles, are you actually narrating your own voiced statements?" X-51 asks, incredulous.

    "I'm catching our seventeen billion audience members up on my story," Miles says defensively. "And my rugged, brooding charm." He levels the absurdly enormous gun he picked up at Forge’s and opens up in the vague direction of his assailant for what he hopes will be a suppressive three-round burst.

    "Would you like fries with that?" he shouts.

    The giant gun fires a far more potent blast than he was hoping for, and rips any appreciable cover apart in the direction he was pointing in a broad cone. But the sniper is either gone, or gone.

    In Miles' periphery, a figure drops from a wrecked building, dropping a sniper rifle and drawing a sidearm.

    zkWNk3Vl.jpg

    Miles recognizes him. It's Deathlok.

    It's not...the same Deathlok that Miles encountered on Inhuman Earth. Who was also Miles. Because they killed that Deathlok But he's definitely a Deathlok.

    Miles whirls to face him. "Hold it right there, Deathlok! I just want to talk!" In a lower voice, he adds "Miles knew the cyborg could be a powerful ally in his plan to fuck Mojo up."

    Deathlok fires a Mozambique Drill. Miles dives forward, trying to close the distance between them and get below Deathlok's line of fire.

    PHU1KZN.png
    For non-gun folks, a Mozambique Drill is a handgun shooting pattern where you fire two rounds at the center of mass and one round at the head, the idea being to drop a target as quickly and efficiently as possible. Tom Cruise’s hitman uses the technique on several occasions in Collateral.

    Miles completely dodges Deathlok's shots and closes the reactionary gap. Bringing up his palm, Miles fires a full-on repulsor shot, knowing it probably won't kill Deathlok but hoping to slow him down long enough to get him to see reason. "I said I want to talk!" The blast sends Deathlok flying into a backward flip.

    The cyborg crumples to the ground. He's not moving.

    Miles levels the big gun, approaching carefully, keeping Deathlok covered. "Miles approached the cyborg carefully. 'Are you going to let me talk about how we can get out of here?' he said, ready to blast Deathlok at the first false move."

    Deathlok grumbles, barely conscious.

    Jacobkosh on
  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    Miles hears a familiar voice from behind him. "Jocasta approached Miles carefully, making sure he knew she was a friend, and not an enemy."

    "Miles stood up warily. He and Jocasta had had a unique chemistry before. He had trusted her before. He hoped she knew that she could trust him to get them out of this." He turns to face her.

    OiyNTnll.jpg

    "Hello, Miles."

    "Hello, Jocasta," Miles smiles warmly. "Are you the Jocasta of Earth-209? Either way, it's good to see you, whichever you it is."

    "I am, yes. And I know you're the Miles of Earth-1491. You're the only one who would do..." She smiles and makes a waving gesture. "All of that."

    "The one and only," he grins. "How'd you end up here?"

    "Tell Jocasta I say hello, Miles,” X-51 says. “Her wireless communication is closed."

    "X-51 is happy to see you too," he says. "He says your wireless connection is closed."

    "Yes, a matter of safety," she says. "I had returned to my world after you had defeated Galactus. I had enough data on how to do so on my own world. Which we did, by the way, and thank you for your assistance in that matter. My entire universe is now safe from the threat of Galactus."

    "Oh, thank goodness. I'm glad something good came out of all of that."

    "However, for...how did they put it..." she pauses. "’Utilizing cross-dimensional interference for cosmic alteration,’ the Council became very upset with me personally. Apparently, the Council considers it 'cheating,' for lack of a better term, to use knowledge or technology gained from another universe to solve your universe's problems.

    "I think they wish to hold the monopoly on doing such things, since that appears to be their entire remit," she adds. "I was dispatched by my world to find more information on other matters, and in my travels, I ran into some Council Executors, who explained the nature of my so-called transgressions, and exiled me...here."

    Miles frowns then turns to face the middle distance, hoping some Camera 2 somewhere gets him in frame. "You're speaking, of course, of the Council Fantastic, the corrupt oligarchy of alternate Reed Richards. Who are dicks. Almost as bad as the Parliament of Dooms, their enemies in an ongoing interdimensional war." Miles is helpfully filling in the plot for the viewers at home. He faces Jocasta again. "But we've got an idea about that. Can you and X-51 set up some kind of handshake protocol so he can fill you in on the big plan without spoiling it for our lovely viewers?"

    Jocasta nods. "I'll establish a secure wireless connection with you and..." She squints. "Miles...X-51 is...where is..."

    "He's in a new piece of hardware," Miles says. "Spoilers."

    Jocasta nods. "Scanning." Her posture registers surprise. "O-oh. OH! Oh hello X-51. Hello."

    Her eyes begin rapidly moving back and forth. She starts smiling. She lets out a giggle that can only be described as dirty.

    "I see. Well then, best we get going. Deathlok is unconscious. He's not dead, but he will neither be a threat nor an ally anytime soon. We could carry him, or leave him here for the death-field. As he is partially synthetic, I am...morally ambivalent? Your choice, Miles."

    "Let's take him with us," Miles says. "Can you carry him?"

    "Easily." She hoists the cyborg up on her shoulder with one hand. "It is good to see you both again. I am...excited to see how things will turn out. No spoilers."

    "I think we're going to give 'em a show for the ages," Miles says, winking at her. "And I've got my own twist in mind at the end."

    She grins, and they walk on.

    PHU1KZN.png
    In case it wasn’t clear by this point, Miles wasn’t just being lolrandom (although I did relish the laughs of disbelief that erupted over voice chat when he started his bullshit). I had a plan. And part of it meant keeping the audience watching.

  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    g3xuawl.png

    Julian lands on top of a ruined building. After surveying the city for a bit, he realizes the only thing he can do is make his way down. He carefully skitters down the ruins, checking his weapons and armor. He tries to reach out with his senses reflexively, but hears nothing.

    He checks the radio. "Miles?" Silence. "Elise?"

    He hears a familiar voice call out "Hey man, you can give up any time now." Followed by the snap of a bowstring.

    It's Hawkeye's voice.

    Not Bob's. Hawkeye's. Their voices do sound slightly different. The voice is coming from out the window, down below on the street. Julian sneaks down, and looks out a window to get a vantage on this Hawkeye.

    Z1gwYt7l.jpg

    He's shooting down the road at someone else. Who shoots an arrow back. The arrow misses.

    Hawkeye looks at the arrow on the ground, and then immediately dives behind different cover. The arrow explodes. Hawkeye looks up from cover. "Explosive arrows? Seriously? Fuck you!"

    Another voice from down the street yells back, "Fuck you, asshole!" It's Bob.

    Longbow and Hawkeye start rapidly shooting arrows at each other in an archery duel. They are not fucking around. They are trying to murder each other.

    Julian watches out the window. He sizes up the chains he took from Forge's shop. At that moment, Elise swoops into view.

    With Hawkeye distracted by her arrival, Julian rushes the archer, brandishing his chains! With a skillful toss, he swings a chain around Hawkeye, pinning him.

    Longbow holds his fire, and yells, "Fuck yeah, Jewels!"

    "Bob, Julian!" Elise waves. "Hey!"

    Julian whoops, holding the chains pinning Hawkeye from behind him. "Hey guys!"

    Hawkeye looks around. "What?! You're on a team?! There's no teams!"

    "Says who?" Julian laughs.

    "We should grease him, he's Evil Hawkeye," Bob says, still holding a broadhead ready to fire as he walks over, pointing it at Hawkeye. "Can't trust him."

    "Well, why's he evil?" Elise sounds like she's seriously considering Bob's point.

    "Look at him, he's got an H on his hat for HYDRA," Bob points out.

    "I'm pretty sure that's for Hawkeye, dude," she says. "Hey, Hawkeye. What do you think about the gays?"

    Longbow sputters. "What? That's fuckin' stupid. Why would you do that?"

    PHU1KZN.png
    This is Hawkeye’s normal costume from the comics. More superheroic, less paramilitary. In the regular Marvel Universe, Clint Barton is a former stuntman and circus trick-shot performer, not a Special Forces sniper. He’s also much more happy-go-lucky, a bit of a trickster, practical joker, and con artist, so butts heads with authority figures sometimes.

    The version of Hawkeye from STRIKE and the MCU comes from the early-2000s “Ultimate Universe,” which I’ve talked about here before. Like a lot of the other Ultimate versions of characters, that Hawkeye diverged significantly from the original, making him a trained government agent with a more business-like personality and a family back home to care for, while the team dynamic of being a jokey foil to Cap was given to Iron Man instead.

    Unlike some of the other Ultimate revamps, it wasn’t inherently objectionable or problematic or edgelordy, but I do miss Hawkeye as a more lighthearted character with a big H on his head.

    Elise shrugs. "Not everyone has amazing fashion taste like us. High five!"

    Hawkeye looks confused at Elise. "What? I...I don't...they're...fine...? I have gay friends. Is that how you tell who is evil on your world? Really?"

    "...I mean, usually it's a much more rigorous check," Julian laughs. "Goatees are an important factor, too."

    "Oh, okay, so you're saying we shouldn't take you on your word that you're a good person just because you're not homophobic?" Elise tsks. "Uhhh. Okay, so there's a trolley.” She splays her hands wide, daring him to imagine it. "And it's going down this track, right?

    "But it's going to run over someone? But if you hit the switch, it runs over...five people? Is that how it goes?"

    Hawkeye looks at her, completely at a loss. "Are you... are you seriously using the trolley problem as a test on whether you should kill me or not?"

    "Something like that,” Julian says. “But hey, this problem isn't even figured out on our world!"

    Elise sighs. "I think he's good, Bob." She gestures. "Can we talk alone for a sec, though? Bob? You and me?"

    Bob grumbles, puts his arrow away, and then walks away with Elise. But not before giving Hawkeye the I'm watching you gesture.

  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    Elise and Longbow step around the corner of the ruined block to talk. "So, they said if someone without powers touches the monolith, they get anyone's powers," she begins.

    Bob shakes his head. "No, only if they don't have powers."

    "Yeah. And guess who doesn't have powers?" Elise jerks her head in Hawkeye's direction. "He's an unknown element, man. I don't like that."

    Bob squints at Hawkeye, and nods slowly. "I think I get what you're putting down."

    "I don't think Julian would." Elise chews on her lower lip.

    "No problem, no problem,” he says. “You and Julian just, y'know, get lost for a bit. We get separated. I'll take care of it."

    "...Am I a bad person for having this conversation?"

    Bob makes a see-saw gesture. Elise grimaces

    "That's why you delegate, Princess," he says. "I learned that in SHIELD leadership training!"

    She nods slowly. "Well, let's go back. Before they get suspicious."

    Bob nods.

    PHU1KZN.png
    Man, this is a dark conversation and I spent the scene with my heart in my throat, wondering how I was going to handle what would happen when Miles found out that Elise had solicited cold-blooded murder. He’d be furious. On top of all the other shenanigans lately, he might threaten to quit the team. I was actually sitting there wondering to myself who I’d roll up to play, in that circumstance, and hoping that Julian - poor, oblivious Julian - would pick up on the bad vibes and so something about it.

    Rejoining the others, Elise gives Hawkeye and Julian a thumbs up. "Okay, you're probably not evil. So, do you wanna join us?"

    Hawkeye squints. "Join you for what? There can be only one winner. Did you guys sleep through orientation?"

    "Pfft! No. We're just bending the rules a little. Makes for good TV," Julian says.

    Bob nods. "You know what they say; rules are meant for people too weak to defy them."

    "I, uh, yes. They do say that. Somewhere," Julian says, staring at Bob.

    Hawkeye stares too. "You guys are from a really messed up world."

    "Okay, so you're a baby coward who probably got banished here, but we dropped in here to break the game," Elise says. "So, you in, or are you gonna lick some Mojo boots? And I'm a Princess, actually, so y'know. Maybe show a lil respect."

    Hawkeye nods slowly and auspiciously "Ah. I see. I apologize. Well, your majesty, may I request being unchained so I can join you in your...plan?"

    Elise grins. No one's ever taken her this seriously before! "You may."

    "Awp!" Bob puts up a finger. "Quiver. Bow. Until we know you can play nice with others."

    "Also, you can only request it." Elise grins. She's high on power. Bob nods and disarms Hawkeye.

    "Thank you for pointing that out, Elise. I was itching to," Julian says.

    "Man, I wish you treated me with this level of respect," she says. "C'mon, let me give you a noogie."

    "Pssssh," Julian scoffs.

    "C'moooon."

    Bob regards Hawkeye. "We can unchain him. Without his bow and arrow, Other Clint's kind of a punk-ass."

    Elise grabs the chains and unwinds them. "Alright, bud, c'mon."

    Hawkeye tilts his head. "Wait, what do you mean Other Clint?"

    Bob clears his throat. "I mean we have a Clint Barton on our world, man, how do you think I knew you were Hawkeye on the spot?"

    Hawkeye nods slowly. "Yeah...okay."

    Elise doesn't engage further. She doesn't want to get...attached.

    Bob looks at her. "Hey Cap, think you can take to the sky and give us an aerial recon? Jewels, you feel comfy doing an on-foot look-ahead? Cap will be your eyes in the sky."

    Julian nods. "Yeah, works for me."

    "I have no idea how you poor fuckers deal with this level of eyesight. I can do recon, but it's like..." Elise grimaces. "It's like I have a bag over my head and it's full of cotton."

    "Yeah, well, nobody else fits in your harness so it's not like I can take it for a spin," Bob says. "Besides, you found our dumb asses."

    Elise gives a sarcastic salute and then takes off. Bob turns to Phoenix. "Alright, cool. Julian, I'll keep pace with our new friend. If things get too heated, I'll call out for help."

    Julian nods. "Yeah, alright. Let's get moving!"

    The group begins traveling through the ruins. While flying, Elise loses visual track of Bob and Clint for a period of time. For the best, really. She doesn't want to see it.

    It's fine. It's fine. She's delegating. It's what royalty does! Probably!

  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    edited November 27
    Julian is walking ahead, when suddenly, a grey shape leaps in front of him.

    It's the Hulk. But he's...grey-skinned?

    He looks seriously injured. Lot of burn-marks, bruises, cuts. Julian has never seen the Hulk of his Earth hurt like this.

    Julian speaks into his comm unit. "Whoa guys. I'm looking at the Hulk, but grey. And fucked up." He pauses. "Like, hurt real bad."

    The Hulk looks at him skeptically. "Who are you talking to?"

    "No one!" Julian says, putting his hands up.

    "Bullshit," the Hulk growls.

    "Okay. You got me."

    Elise hears Julian's comm signal; although it's a bit garbled she understood most of it. There's some kind of jamming frequency going on, comms go out after a short distance. She definitely understood "Hulk. Grey. Hurt real bad." She swallows, and swoops lower.

    Back on the ground, Hulk looks at Julian, and breathes heavily. "So. Answer the question. Who are you talking to? On the radio?"

    "Oh you know. A couple of buddies. Gonna break outta here. No big deal." Julian looks up at the Grey Hulk. "What got you so cut up, anyway?"

    Hulk snorts, turns to the side, and coughs up a glob of blood. He then laughs darkly. "Bust out of here. Ha! Yeah, okay pal. Only way out of here is the same way anyone is. With a winner. And there's only going to be one.

    And...and I don't think it's going to be me." He leans on some rubble. "So uh...be a pal and...make it quick, eh?" He's wheezing, the sound someone makes when they have a broken rib and possibly a punctured lung. Julian's had a punctured lung or too. He knows that sound.

    "Yeah, buddy,” Julian grimaces. “You're doing pretty rough."

    "Oh, I know. I tangled with MODOK. Won, but the little bastard got me good. Thought I'd be...stronger here,” Hulk says. “But something about this place. Weakened me out. I know they warned me but..."

    Julian approaches cautiously. "Alright, man. Look, you're busted up pretty bad. Why don't you come with us and see how this unfolds, at least?"

    "...sure."

    "I know that rattle,” Julian says. “You're not done quite yet."

    "Name's Joe, by the way," the Hulk rumbles.

    "You can call me Jewels." Julian makes a thumbs up at Joe.

    "Jewels, I like tha-..." he starts coughing, nastily, hacking up blood on his wrist. Julian winces.

    Elise is in comms range now. "Jewels? You okay?" Elise sounds irritated; she's not used to having to rely on other people's senses.

    "Hey Elise. All good here. Got a buddy here, Joe's the name. Big guy. You nearby?" Julian looks around. "He's roughed up pretty bad. MODOK got him. Or I should say, he got MODOK."

    Elise drops from the sky to join Julian and Joe. "Well, hey. We're overthrowing the system. Welcome to join us." She hollers into her comm. "Bob? Can you hear us?"

    "yeah... ju... catchi... up" Bob is staticky, but Elise can hear him. She takes back to the air, trying to spot him.

    She sees Bob walking towards Julian and Joe. Clint is with him. He's not wearing his mask anymore. He's clutching it in his hands.

    Elise looks at both of them. "...Hey."

    Clint is pale, and shaking. He looks like he's been crying. He's clutching his mask tightly.

    Bob puts his hand on Clint's shoulder, which makes him flinch. "Other Clint and I had a good conversation. Sussed things out. I explained who I am, where I come from, what I am willing to do, how important you and our mission is to me, how much I love my fiancee, and how I won't let anything or anyone get in my way. In a lot of detail! And now Other Clint understands how important that is!

    "Don't you?"

    Clint just nods quietly.

    "...Oh," Elise says. "Okay!" She claps Clint on the shoulder. "Good stuff!" Clint practically jumps.

    Elise is used to reading every flicker and microexpression. She can obviously tell Clint's shaken, but everything's a little...muted. It'll be fine!

    Bob smiles at her. "Clay's been teaching me a lot of stuff about how to convince people with only using your words, it's been super informative!"

    "Aw, dad's great like that."

    "He is," Bob agrees. Clint just stares forward, vacantly.

    They catch up to Julian and the Hulk. Bob looks at Joe. "Hey...this dude looks in a lot of pain. I have a medkit and some field training, man, if you want some help."

    Joe shakes his head. "Think I’m beyond that, buddy."

    Bob shrugs. "Okay. I got a bunch of good drugs?"

    Joe shakes his head and laughs. "Not unless it's enough to down an elephant, it'd be like Tylenol. Thanks anyway."

    Julian slams a fist into his palm. "That's what I forgot to bring!"

    Bob slaps Julian's chest with the back of his hand. "I got you, fam, I grabbed all kinds of shit when we were in the market."

    Julian grins hugely. "So that's where you were!"

    Bob taps the side of his nose and winks. Clint shakes and whispers, "...you people are monsters."

    "It depends on your perspective, I guess," Julian shrugs.

    Bob looks at everyone. "Alright people, let's find the rest of our guys, and if anyone else doesn't want to join Team Kick-Ass, they can eat shit."

    Jacobkosh on
    Fencingsax
  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    g3xuawl.png

    The various surviving enemies and allies across the Mojo Royale hear a booming noise, as the death-wall begins moving inwards, closing them towards the center.

    One by one, as they move to the edges of the city, every combatant sees the same sight in the distance, across a blasted plain.

    mWga8kbh.jpg

    A colossal stone monolith, rising a mile into the sky.

    They couldn't see it before now, obscured as it was by thick mists that now part and roll over blasted hillsides and wasted valleys. Almost as if the pacing of the entire contest was designed this way, artificially, for preliminary fights and a final round of combat as there is a mad dash to the monolith.

  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    g3xuawl.png

    Some distance away, Miles approaches the monolith with Jocasta and the unconscious Deathlok.

    "Miles, I believe that with the fog clearing, I have located the other members of the team,” X-51 says. “Attempting to connect to their communicators, stand by."

    The rest of the team hears X-51. "Hello STRIKE-1. Please take account of yourselves, and any competitors you have encountered, recruited, or defeated."

    After X-51 connects, Miles puts a hand to his ear. "Sound off, everyone! I've got Jocasta - our Jocasta, the one we met in the Kyln - in tow, and an unconscious Deathlok."

    "Centurion and Nebula checking in here," Ryann barks into his communicator.

    "Hey X-51, I am alive and well,” Michael’s calm voice comes in. “I’ve recruited Rom the Space Knight and split Baron Karza in twain."

    "Rom is real? Fuck yes!" Miles pumps his fist. "That guy looked bad-ass."

    "This is Elise. We have a big ol' Grey Hulk named Joe here and another Hawkeye. I found Longbow and Julian."

    "Joe's injured, though,” Julian adds. “If we can get him some help..."

    "We killed a Mysterio, one made of weird nanotech," Nebula says.

    "Did we?" Ryann cocks an eyebrow at her.

    Nebula looks at Ryann. "I was gonna..." She shrugs helplessly. "You had it!"

    "Yeah, yeah," he says. "Thinking of a cool line."

    "I'm saving it," she declares.

    "I hope you get to use it," Ryann smirks as he looks at the monolith.

    "Hey X-51, Julian here. We ran into another, hostile MODOK. Joe took him out."

    "He did not want to help," Elise adds.

    "Between all accounted for allies and foes...that is 15 out of 16 entrants,” X-51 says. “That is...troubling. We must make our way to the monolith immediately."

    "Alright! Up, up, and away -!" Elise suddenly stops and groans, rubbing her face. "Being regular ol' Elise fuckin' sucks."

    "As you all know, we have to reach the monolith before anyone else and one of us will touch it to get our powers back," Miles says, helpfully expositing for the viewers at home. "At which point we'll put our secret plan to fight Mojo into action, which he doesn't think we have but we totally do. But we're not going to blab it right now, obviously, so anyone watching should stay tuned!"

  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    Everyone starts running towards the Monolith. Miles, Rom, and Elise are capable of flight, so they move faster than the others.

    Miles spots the 16th entrant first. And he recognizes the person, and they are feet away from touching the Monolith.

    It's Stephen Strange.

    Whatever universe he's from, he's also the Sorcerer Supreme of that universe, cape and all. That's probably not doing a whole lot for him right now, given that magic is negated here, giving him the superpowers of...a gifted neurosurgeon with a crippling hand injury?

    "DOCTOR! STOP!" Miles shouts, holding up his hand.

    Strange looks up at Miles. He's within arms' reach.

    "...never." He dives for it.

    Miles boldly dives for Strange, hoping to distract him from Elise, who's coming up from the other side and is smol. And stealthed!

    Strange is able to roll beneath Miles’ repulsor blast...but not the kinetic discharge from Elise’s harness. She's careful with it, not turning the guy who doesn't have any powers into paste or anything, but enough that he's on his ass and safely away from the Monolith.

    "What the fuck is up, doc?!" she crows.

    Strange gasps for air, having the wind knocked out of him. "I can...I can get us...out of here...all of us..." He’s struggling to his feet. "Just let me."

    "Don't you think Mojo planned for that, Doctor?” Miles says. “We've got a different way. Let us try it."

    Strange looks confused. "How could you possibly? There can be only one winner here. I know a way to circumvent that. What could you do differently?"

    "We're gonna blow this fucker up, give powers to everyone," Elise grins.

    As the rest of the group catches up, Miles produces the Tactigon. "Are you ready, buddy?"

    Suddenly, inky-black portals begin appearing in the air.

  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    "That's gotta be the Warwolves!" Miles calls. "Form up around the monolith! Keep them off us!"

    Cybernetic creatures, each the size of a man, leap out of the black portals. There's dozens of them.

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    Looking closely at them, they look like they're composed, in part, of Council technology.

    Rom gasps in horror. "The Warwolves."

    Ryann turns and takes a defensive stance with Nebula at his flank. He brings his gauntlet up and activates the shield forge installed in it.

    "Go, Miles! I'll watch your back!" Elise pulls her weapon.

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    "We can handle them, Rom,” Michael calls. “We will slay these foul beasts with honor!"

    Miles aims the Tactigon at the obelisk. "X-51, whatever you're gonna do, now would be a good time to make the magic happen!"

    The Tactigon speaks. "I am hacking the arena's audio system for an appropriate audio cue, so as to maximize dramatic effect. Stand by." A pause. "Hacking complete."

    The sky darkens and thunder begins to rumble.

    The Tactigon starts glowing red brightly.

    "C'mon, X-51,” Elise cries, firing round after round at the Warwolves. “Give me that good good!"

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    The Tactigon begins floating out of Miles' hand. It rises into the air, rotating of its own accord, glowing brighter and brighter.

    And then, as music starts blasting from the sky, it transforms.

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    Miles’ face is a vision of giddy joy as he stares skywards, then he and all the other combatants must shield their eyes as searing red light lances forth with a deafening roar. From where he hovers above the battlefield, X-51 sweeps the Warwolves with wide destructive beams of force, scything through them. Their multi-angled carapaces blacken and buckle as unearthly, plaintive howls fill the sky.

    Then, with the Warwolves subdued, he lands. Putting both arms together, fusing them with his chest to create one massive blaster, X-51 turns it upon the Monolith. The contestants fall to the ground as the Monolith cracks and rumbles, creating earthquakes that rock the arena.

    The Monolith implodes on itself, and everyone who has powers feels a rush as they return to normal. Joe, the Grey Hulk, rapidly regenerates, rising to his feet and cracking his knuckles while grinning.

    Julian wreathes his hands in flame, flicking each hand alight with a snap of the finger. "We're back in business!"

    Miles leaps into the air, pumps his fist, and whoops. "Fuck yeah!"

    Michael assumes the form of the Destroyer and sighs heavily. "Ahhh, much better."

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    Next to him, shaking his head with a grin, Ryann deactivates his shield.

    A constellation of stars spreads and condenses around Elise, and she gives a jubilant cry of "Yes! Yes!" before exploding into a form of sky and stars.

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    Michael looks at X-51's humanoid form and nods. "Nice theme song, by the way."

    The new X-51 nods. "I believed it was dramatically appropriate. I attribute it to Miles' influence, perhaps."

    Dr. Strange also stands, forming mystical sigils as a way of checking to make sure his powers return. He smiles as he looks at the others. "Finally, we can do what must be done."

    Elise notices Strange's smile isn't...okay. He's not smiling with his eyes. She narrows her eyes. "What must be done, Doctor?"

    "Assimilation. We must set the universe right. For we..." An oily black ichor begins flowing over Strange's body.

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    "...ARE THE SYMBIOTE SUPREME!"

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    Uh-oh...

  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    Ryann stares in disbelief. "A fucking Klyntar?!"

    "Alright, I'm not allowing any of this!" Elise rises in the air, glowing with power, and then divebombs Strange in a tackle! She slams him into the ground as Strange growls and hisses gutturally.

    "That's right motherfucker, I'm Captain Universe!"

    He's restrained, but his cape begins to surround Elise. Like it's trying to consume her. She suddenly realizes the cape is actually a maw.

    "Wait, wait, fuck!" Elise is grabbed and bitten by Strange's maw-cape. It's eating her! "GET -- OFF!"

    "Get off her, you liquid bastard!" Ryann attempts to pull Elise free, but Strange is using magic to hold her in. She is consumed.

    And then...she is released. Strange rises, flying up over Elise.

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    Elise then turns to face the team.

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    Julian stares in horror. "Elise!!"

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    Elise’s player completely beefed the roll to keep Strange restrained. And that marked the end of the dice’s love affair with our party.

    Behemoth opens his face plates and blasts Strange, who attempts to deflect with a mystical shield but is overcome by the combined might of Behemoth and Rom, and is knocked flying over sixty feet skidding across the ground. Some of his symbiote is flayed away, before pulling itself back over Strange. He's hurt. Badly.

    "X-51! Jocasta!” Machine Man cries. “Help Ryann deal with Elise! I've got Strange!" Miles and Jocasta exchange nods, and he charges the Sorcerer Goopreme fist-first! His extending arm launches forth and cracks Strange across the jaw with piston force, dropping the abomination to the ground.

    "X-51! Do you have any kind of sonic or high-frequency weapons? We can force separation with the Klyntar if we bombard her with it," Centurion calls out.

    "I do not. But I can create such a weapon. Stand by."

    Ryann nods. "I'll keep it...uh, them busy." Ryann flashes forward and tries to distract the infested Elise with a flurry of lightspeed attacks.

    "Naw, I got it chief!" Longbow yells. "Sonic arrows, motherfucker!" He draws an arrow from his quiver and aims it at Symbiote-Elise. "Sorry, hun! For your own good!"

    Unfortunately, Symbiote-Elise has Captain Universe’s full powers. She easily evades Ryann’s strikes, then teleports out of the way of Bob’s arrow. Holding her claw-like hands aloft, she snarls in a voice like Elise’s, but combined with something else, "We can fix this...."

    Longbow, Nebula, Joe, and Hawkeye suddenly drop to the ground, writhing in agony.

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    Worse still, Julian and Michael can feel...something changing...in them...

    They try to resist.

    "What's...happening?!" Julian cries, as black ooze runs up his hands and arms, then begins coating his face.

    Closing his eyes, Michael focuses, trying to burn out the corruption with the Odinforce inside him. Intense white light streams from his faceplates and from the seams in his armor, and the inky tendrils boil away with a shriek. Michael resists.

    Julian...does not.

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  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    "Michael!” Miles points. “Kill Julian!"

    "Anytime, Chief!" Michael turns to face Julian, face plates opening. The eyes of the skull flash with power. Behemoth's mind is controlled by the Host Rider.

    He turns his beam on Rom, who is driven into the ground and heavily-damaged by the blast.

    "Jocasta, Rom, Centurion! Concentrate on killing Julian! We need him free to get into the others' heads!" Miles yells. "I'll keep this asshole busy!" Miles blasts Strange full-force at point-blank range with both repulsors, peeling the symbiote off of Strange bit by bit. If Miles keeps the pressure up, it's going to rip the symbiote right off him.

    X-51 calls out, "Sonic blaster reconfiguration complete! Call target!"

    Ryann staggers to his feet behind Elise as the chaos unfolds. "Elise!" Ryann calls out to both her and X-51. "Your daughter’s name is Valyria, remember!"

    But with a snarl, Elise holds out a hand towards Michael and, given he's already mind-controlled, Behemoth does not resist the change as black tendrils erupt over his body.

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    With hulking, lumbering steps, Symbiote-Behemoth turns towards Ryann. His jaw unhinges, and the corrupted Odinforce blasts out.

    But Ryann crosses his arms and his shield flares to life, and he stands his ground. The blast rages against his force field...and then he turns, deflecting the blast at Elise.

    She’s driven into the ground and dazed, and that gives X-51 the opportunity to fire his sonic weapon. The AI hovers safely out of reach, waves of high-intensity sound issuing forth from his reconfigured arm cannon and pummeling the sensitive Klyntar organism with what must be pure agony.

    Meanwhile, Rom and Jocasta attempt to fight the other Symbiotes to get to Julian. Their bodies are purely synthetic, leaving them immune to assimilation, but they must still contend with the Hulk’s strength, Nebula’s resilience and dexterity, and the archers’ preternatural aim, all further enhanced by the dark gift of the Klyntar.

    As she writhes beneath X-51’s sonic blast, Elise can feel the Symbiote's grasp weakening. She desperately tries to resist, but its will is still too strong.

    Nearby, Miles nearly has the Symbiote off of Strange. One last repulsor push should clear it off him...or kill him. Either/or. Miles grits his teeth and keeps the pressure on.

    Suddenly, Strange creates a mystical barrier and turns the repulsor blast aside, and then creates a circular portal behind Miles. "Oh, this is bulls-" Miles sputters before Strange kicks him into the portal. With a gesture, Strange creates a second portal in the sky above the first, and Miles begins to just...fall.

    Jocasta yells to Ryann, "Centurion! Help!" The Symbiote Grey Hulk is way too much of a challenge for them, and is defending Julian. He swings a meaty fist at the synthetic woman.

    Flashing forwards at sublight speed, Ryann intercepts the Hulk's attack, crashing into him and bowling him over. Jocasta leaps forward past the Hulk, a retractable blade coming out of her arm, and she decapitates the Host Rider.

    She's then hit with an EMP arrow from the Symbiote-Longbow, and drops to the ground.

    Gritting his teeth, Ryann watches Julian’s headless form. Fire begins wreathing the body...and then sputters out.

    Julian lies there, unmoving.
    ]
    Elise can feel the sonic waves peeling away the symbiote. If she could just...concentrate...she could change shape, and force the symbiote out of her.

    ...But she can't do it. It's too much. It's all too much. Instead of forcing the symbiote out, she changes shape into something immune to sonic attacks.

    She stands up, and opens a portal, grabs X-51, and throws him through it. With a snarl, she beckons the infested Michael to slay Centurion and Rom, the last two defenders standing.

    But Behemoth stands stock-still, tendrils flowing over and around him as only a slight tremor in his frame betrays the titanic battle occurring within. Michael's mind is no longer being controlled by Julian, but there is a symbiote within him, its whispering tendrils seeking to move him like a marionette.

    Michael is sick to death of being mind-controlled. And with a superhuman effort of will, he assumes direct control. He still has the symbiote, but he's in the driver's seat now. As Elise angrily orders him to fire at Ryann, he unleashes the Odinforce at her instead.

    The cleansing fire blasts forth, and Michael has a choice.

    He can definitely burn the symbiote off of Elise. But Michael can't exactly gauge that. So he may do significant damage or even kill Elise. But she has...the Enigma Force? Maybe she can take it? Michael doesn't know!

    Or he could just not.

    "I'm sorry, Elise.” He focuses the beam.

    The symbiote is being ripped away from Elise. But if she stands there and takes it, she'll be ripped apart too. Her only chance is to take as much of the blast as possible to get the symbiote off and then teleport away before it kills her.

    Just as her skin begins to sear and char, she teleports away, landing in a smoking crater, burned but alive. "OW. OW. OW. JESUS CHRIST." Gouts of smoke billow off her. But she’s free.

    She staggers to her feet, faces the symbiotes, and clenches her fists. "I...can...fix this!" She calls upon the Enigma Force.

    Elise...does something wrong.

    She's not sure what. But something has gone wrong. She can…feel it. She tried to remove the symbiotes from her friends and allies and...something went terribly awry and she has a terrible feeling about it.

    ...but nothing is visibly different? Ryann, Rom, and Michael are still locked in desperate struggle against Doctor Strange and the four symbiotes.

  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
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    Miles is falling. Leaving one portal only to fall into the next, the world whizzes by him at ever-increasing speeds, until he attains terminal velocity.

    He tries to catch himself. Counting down in his head, he times the activation of his boot jets to catapult him out of the fall, but without X-51 in his head, he miscalculates.

    "fffffFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU-" Underestimating how much inertia he needs to counter, he doesn’t push vertically enough, and slams into the ground hard, leaving his synthetic body half-wrecked.

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    While his body lies unmoving, Julian’s consciousness fights to return. And he has a choice.

    He can burn the symbiote out of himself entirely, but he will become a pyre, burning for a time, and will have to resurrect himself later.

    Or he can resurrect himself now, with the symbiote still inside him, but in full control of it... for the time being.

    Back on the battlefield, flames erupt in roaring gouts as Julian's body rises into the air to become a towering pyre, and the symbiote dies.

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    Michael focuses the Odinforce inward to try and burn out the Symbiote inside…again. Cleansing light streams from his face and body, and the infestation is purged. Michael is free again, and he turns his attention to his corrupted companions.

    In front of him, Elise clenches her fists again. "Okay, fuck this, let's try smaller." She turns to Longbow and attempts to free him of the symbiote!

    The creature shrieks as the Enigma Force rips it away from Bob. Longbow is transformed back and free of the symbiote!

    "Bob! Are you...are you okay?" Elise gasps, her voice filled with mingled hope and suspicion. "Are you different?"

    Bob draws out a sonic arrow. "I'm going to save Nebula even though she's mean to me!" He shoots the blue Nebula symbiote with a sonic arrow, and she drops to the ground, the symbiote being driven off her by painful sonic waves.

    "I can't really tell if that's out of character for you!" Elise complains.

    "Let's try this one." Ryann hurls mass fields towards the space around the Hulk. He draws them together, bending space and gravity to create a massive, contained concussive blast. The sheer force shakes the Symbiote loose enough that Hulk's towering anger takes over and he begins pulling at the Klyntar, ripping it off him and throwing it on the ground.

    Strange floats into the air. "You do not understand! All must be consumed! That is the only way!"

    "Consume this." Michael blasts Symbiote Strange at full force, not caring if he lives or dies. When the beam ends, Strange is gone. The Symbiote Hawkeye shrieks, and suddenly the creature leaves Hawkeye's body and slithers into the ground.

  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    Julian’s body burns, and Miles lies unconscious in a crater, with the deactivated Jocasta not far away. Rom nurses several visible dents in his alien frame. But the heroes have taken the field. Ryann rushes to check on Nebula and help her to her feet.

    "I am…so sorry about that," Elise says, surveying the carnage.

    Michael offers Rom a steadying hand. The Space Knight is banged up, but pats Michael on the shoulder. "I like the armor."

    Miles staggers to his feet and dazedly checks on Jocasta with his forensic vision.

    "Okay. Okay. I'm gonna go find X-51. Again, I am really sorry. Miles, I need you to do me a favour," Elise says. "Can you just make sure everyone's okay?

    "Like, not just physically okay, but like...I think I did something. To everyone."

    "I...what? Did something? How am I supposed to..." Miles shakes his head confusedly. "No idea what I'm looking for here..." He picks up people’s injuries and burns, but nothing out of the ordinary. Everyone’s hurt, but only in the ways you’d expect.

    "Okay I'll be right back!" Elise frantically wrings her hands, then vanishes.

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    She is in a formless black void.

    There is nothingness in every direction.

    "Oh, this is bullshit. Okay. Let me try again. X-51, c'mon..."

    She...doesn’t vanish. She can't get out of this place. She tried to teleport and failed.

    "Come on. Come on! Today has been the biggest pile of bullshit!"

    She concentrates again, and this time teleports away from that black void. She wasn't sure...where or when that was. But it's not somewhere she ever wants to return.

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    She finds herself in a subway station.

    She's surrounded by... machines. Machine people. A lot of them look like Jocasta?

    "Uh...X-51?"

    "Hello Elise," X-51 says in response. He was talking to two other synthetics, and walks over to her.

    "Uh, I am really sorry I threw you through a portal."

    "It's fine. This appears to be Earth-209. Jocasta's world. I am not certain why your symbiote-self transported me here, but in the brief time I have spent here it has been quite enlightening! I would like to return at some point. I take it, given you are no longer possessed, that you've won?"

    "Yeah, and I mean, if Miles is cool with it we can probably do a field trip," she says. "You good to go back?"

    "Yes," he nods.

    "Alright, so, let me figure this out, I'm not used to bringing other people with me, so..."

  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
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    Elise and X-51 return to the blasted alien waste. "Is everyone okay?"

    Julian is leaning on Michael. He nods at Elise. "I can't get the smell of smoke out of my nostrils, but I think I'm okay."

    "Everyone looks fine, considering,” Miles says. “I'm not sure what you wanted me to look for..."

    There’s a loud, electronic roar. The sky darkens. The death wall is rapidly approaching the center of the battlefield.

    "Alright, I'll have to figure it out later. Something's wrong," Elise says. "But for now...everyone hold on and please keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle."

    Stretching out her senses to find the Final Tesseract, the artifact whose power created the battlefield and the very physical world around them, she traces its influence backward to the origin point, and the group teleports.

    They find themselves in a huge, spherical room where the walls are lined with televisions. And at the controls sits a large, grotesque alien with spider-like cybernetic legs.

    He turns to face them.

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    "PULLING A ROBOT OUT OF YOUR POCKET TO WIN? THAT'S LITERALLY DEUS EX MACHINA! DING!" His voice is shrill and shrieking, reminding them of MODOC or Arnim Zola. "WHO THE HELL ARE YOU PEOPLE?!"

    "I'm Captain Universe, motherfucker, and I'm gonna kick your head clean off!"

    Miles sends a message wirelessly to X-51’s new body. X-51, get control of the broadcasting rig! Make sure everyone sees every moment of this!

    X-51 nods. I have assumed control, Miles.

    Miles draws himself up to his full height and points dramatically at Mojo. "Who are we? We're STRIKE - and you're cancelled!"

    "TITLE DROP! DING!" Mojo has a scorpion-like weapon-mounted tail. It raises itself to fire.

    Elise attempts to make a portal around that tail, snipping it off with cosmic force. But her portal fails. "Wait! Wait, I had this earlier."

    "AH-AH-AHH! HERE, ONLY I HAVE NARRATIVE CONTROL!" As his tail wags like a scolding finger, Mojo produces a metallic cube.

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    Ryann grits his teeth at the sight of the damn cube. He flashes forward.

    Ryann has a choice.

    He can definitely get to the cube and get it out of Mojo's hand fast enough, he's pretty sure. But...faster than Mojo could react? He has cosmic power. Ryann will have to go faster than he's ever gone in his entire life. It could be...very dangerous for him.

    Does he take the risk?

    Nova Force, guide my path…

    Ryann appears to teleport the cube out of Mojo's hand and into his, not merely to teleport over to the mad alien. One second, it's in Mojo's hand, and the other second, it's in Ryann's.

    Ryann didn't even move. Even Elise had a hard time seeing that. Ryann holds the cube up. "And your story needs an editor."

    Mojo shrieks "NO! PLOT ARMOR OUT OF NOWHERE! DING! DING DING DING! NONE OF YOU ARE FREE OF SIN!" His laser begins firing wildly, but the beams go in every direction except Freedom Force’s.

    Ryann scowls at Mojo. "Oh, I hate this guy." He looks at the group. He closes his eyes. He grips the Final Tesseract.

    Elise flings herself at Mojo's face, aiming for his eyes. "Hey, what do you think about this character arc, motherfucker!"

    Mojo swats ineffectually at her as she flits around his corpulent form, firing energy blasts into his blubber. "YOU'RE SUCH A MARY SU-...."

    Mojo vanishes.

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    I cackled like a witch through this entire scene. Something Matt and I have in common is our towering contempt for a certain genre of amateur media criticism best exemplified by the Youtube channel CinemaSins, where an obnoxious VO complains about (often nonexistent, if he’d pay attention) “plot holes” and made-up “tropes” and “deus ex machina,” mixed with a healthy dollop of sexism.

    If you’re not familiar with the CinemaSins thing, you’re a lucky person living a blessed life. If you’re curious what is and why it annoys us, or if you know what it is and don’t get how anyone could have a problem with it, I recommend the following videos:











    There’s also a nod, particularly in his last line about Mary Sues (Christ I hate that term), to the small army of grotesque chuds who made six hour videos with titles like HOW THE LAST JEDI FUCKED STAR WARS TO DEATH FOREVER or whatever.

    Fencingsax
  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    The room is suddenly silent. Ryann has destroyed Mojo. The being’s existence was so wrapped up in his powers that by removing them he was completely undone.

    "Hey, I am not a Mary Sue! What the fuck!” Elise lands on the ground with a backflip, then looks around embarrassedly. “...Not that I even know what that is, because I'm a cool trashpunk who doesn't read fanfiction!"

    Bob laughs. "That is 0% true, Faiza has said you totally share good fanfics with her."

    Elise turns red. "Oh no. Oh no. DId she...did she show you..." She grimaces. "I mean, they're normal fanfics."

    "No, I'm apparently forbidden under pain of death from any of that," Bob grins.

    "Normal fanfics?” Julian laughs. “I don't understand."

    Elise exhales. "You seem okay," she says to Bob. "Are you sure you don't feel fundamentally different in some small but horrifying way?"

    X-51 scans the systems in Mojo’s panopticon. "It appears that the forces keeping people inside Mojoworld are no longer in play, and given our very public (and high-quality) performance, everyone knows this. A mass exodus, as predicted, is beginning."

    Miles points. "Ryann, we need to send these people home to their own dimensions. We need to help out Forge and Alison Blaire - and bring their friends back, if we can. But before that, I've got something to say."

    Miles turns to camera 2.

    "People of the multiverse! I am speaking to everyone in the range of my voice. That means you. Yes, you.”

    "The people imprisoned in the Mojoverse can go home now. They're free. You've just watched the series finale of the Mojo Royale. But when you get home, there's something worse waiting for you.

    "The entire multiverse is under attack. The Council Fantastic, made up of an infinity of alternate Reed Richards, and the Parliament of Victor von Dooms. Two interdimensional dominions that have ruthlessly murdered billions. Sterilized entire Earths in their insane war.

    "The only hope for all of us - everyone, everywhere - is to put a stop to it. You probably have a Reed Richards and a Victor von Doom on your world right now. They might be plotting to rule you right now.

    "If you value your freedom, your lives - whoever you are, whatever you believe - why don't you stand up and do something about it?" He turns to camera one. "This is Miles Mason of Earth-1491, wishing you good night and good luck." He winks, and the transmission ends.

    X-51 nods. "Miles, I can confirm that this broadcast was received by ARMOR of our Earth. I imagine Rick Jones will be...surprised."

    "Good," Miles says.

    Elise sidles up next to Ryann. "Hey. Can I look at the Cube? With my special eyes?"

    Ryann looks at her and shakes his head. "No. Take no offence from this but no one is interacting with this thing until we are back in front of Clay, Then he can make the call on what happens next with this damn cube."

    Her shoulders slump. "Okay."

    Michael puts his hand on Elise's shoulder and says to her quietly "I would trust you with it, Elise."

    Elise turns and gives Michael a hug. "Thanks for saving me from that stupid fuckin' bug."

    "Anytime, Princess."

    "We should return to our Earth at once," X-51 says. "This place will destabilize quickly with Mojo's death. Once there, we can get others here back to their home dimensions."

    Elise swallows and steadies herself. "Alright, I'm still new to this, so everyone hang on..." Elise snaps her fingers.

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    So yeah, that was Miles’ plan - grabbing the camera and sounding the interdimensional alarm about the Council and Parliament. I didn’t say it was original!

    Whenever someone tells me in an RPG that we’re on TV, I’m going to want to use that in some way, I think because I’m acutely conscious of all the stories I’ve watched and read where the problem could be solved or at least ameliorated by telling everyone what’s going on instead of just keeping it a secret. (I’m looking at you, the entire CW network.)

  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
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    The group appears in the portal room of the Baxter Building. Sue and Reed and some WHISPER staff are there, as are Clay and Sam.

    Clay looks at the group. "Reed was able to tap into a feed from the Mojoverse. We watched the entire show, so we're...more or less up to speed. I'll get a more detailed debrief later." He turns to the other contestants. "Those of you who want to return to your world, and have a decent sense of what that world is, we'll figure out a way to do that. Those of you who don't have a home to go back to, don't know where that is, or wish to stay, we'll figure something out for you."

    Elise coughs. "Wait, you saw everything?"

    "Everything that was in the Mojo Royale, yes," Clay nods.

    "Like, everything though?" Elise pales.

    Ryann nods at Sam. "Hope we didn't miss anything."

    Clay puts his hand on Elise's shoulder, "You were possessed by a Klyntar. It happens. Michael can give you some advice about not raking yourself over the coals over what happens when you're mind-controlled."

    "It'll be the topic of our next training session," Michael nods.

    Elise makes a face. "Oh, fun."

    Miles dusts his hands off. "So, what blew up while we were away? Is Kang president now?"

    Clay looks at Miles and shrugs. "Thankfully, this time, everything is fine and the world didn't go to hell while you were gone. We've been settling in here at the Baxter Building. Reed and I have been discussing what to do with...that." Clay points at the Final Tesseract in Ryann’s hands.

    "I'd like to hear what you've come up with," Ryann says.

    Clay nods. "We'll talk about it. In fact, let's do that. Susan, can you take care of our...guests? Everyone else from STRIKE, come with Reed and I."

    Susan nods, and waves Jocasta, Rom, Joe Fixit, and Hawkeye over to join her.

  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    The team takes the elevator down to the Quiet Room. Some members of the team have been here before. Ryann hasn't.

    Elise runs her tongue over her teeth. "Fucking hate it in here. Just want to take some Febreeze or something and just...spritz." She actually hates the Quiet Room more than she did before. She feels...weirdly disconnected in here. Like...if she wanted to open a portal in here or teleport out...she couldn't.

    It's uneasy. She does not like it.

    There's a conference table in the room, which is a change from before. Reed and Clay sit down.

    Elise sighs. "Seriously? We're using this as our briefing room? Not, like, literally anywhere else?"

    "For this subject, yes," Reed says. "This is the safest place in the building, possibly anywhere on the planet, from any kind of prying eyes or interference from extra-dimensional beings. No portals, no electronic monitoring, nothing.

    "There's a powerful energy field in the walls of this place, extremely disruptive, putting the whole room in a quantum phase vari-" Clay shoots Reed a gaze, and Reed stops. "It's very secure."

    "It fuckin' sucks," Elise grumbles, but takes a seat.

    Miles grabs a seat too. "So the Council and Parliament won't be able to eavesdrop on us here?" Reed nods.

    Taking a seat, Michael looks around thoughtfully. "Would it not stand to reason that the Council members would have also made similar rooms and would know how to infiltrate this one?"

    Reed turns to Michael. "The Council won't be able to eavesdrop here. If they've built similar rooms...I wouldn't be able to eavesdrop on...them? They would know that I have such a room. In fact, they certainly do. But they won't know what's being said here."

    "Again, I am really sorry about the whole...thing,” Elise says. “Back there."

    Julian scratches his face around his jaws. "Don't mention it." He winces. "Like, ever, please."

    Clay folds his hands, "Alright, people. You accomplished all objectives. That's a big win. I'm very happy."

    "We've got the Final Tesseract. Based on what Reed was able to find out, not just trusting Kristoff's word here, that thing can effectively enforce physical laws, dissipate the Power Cosmic, essentially the opposite of most Cosmic Cubes. It also, as a result, acts as a sort of 'index' of all the multiverse, meaning we can use it to find the Council's headquarters."

    Elise raises her hand.

    "Go."

    "Can I use it?"

    "To what end?"

    "I think I...did something. Like, I'm realizing just how powerful the whole changing reality thing is? So if I had more juice, maybe I could --"

    "It's not a battery, Princess," Reed says. "In fact, it's the opposite of that, in some ways."

    "Elise, what did you try and do that went wrong?" Michael asks.

    "I tried to...remove the symbiotes from everyone. I mean, I had put it in everyone, right? But I hadn't really tried anything that big, and it went wrong. I just know it went wrong."

    "This seems like something we should take to Strange," Miles muses.

    Clay nods at Miles. "I agree. Strange could possibly go back through her memory or something like that. We'll figure it out, Elise. Right now, though, we have this other issue.

    "In theory, we could use this Cube to absolutely ruin the Council's day. All their folding dimensional nonsense, you could just make all of that collapse. That's how it works, right, Richards?"

    Reed tightens his jaw, and nods. "In theory, yes. If we could find the Council's headquarters, which I suppose we could also do with this object, we could simply...destroy it. From what I understand, the 'Structure,' as it is called, is outside normal space-time."

    Elise nods. "Oh, yeah, I saw it. It's wild."

    Reed continues. "One use of the Cube would utterly destroy it, and likely kill everyone inside. Which is...morally troublesome."

    Clay quirks an eyebrow. "How you figure?"

    Reed squints at Clay. "You're talking about killing an unknown number of human beings, Quartermain. Most of them, of course, are going to be parallel versions of myself or my family, which of course biases me on the subject irrevocably, but nonetheless they're human beings. That's mass murder. Why? Because they're politically your enemy?"

    "I mean, the other thing is...what would stop the Parliament from rolling in and clowning on us afterwards?" Elise asks.

    "On the one hand, they gave us their word,” Clay says. “But even if that is worthless, which who knows, we'd still have the Cube? No reason we can't do the same thing to them."

    Reed puts up his hand. "Did you just...completely ignore me, Quartermain?"

    "I don't believe that rat-bastard Kristoff wouldn't have some kind of plan in place. I mean, he gave us the Cube. He'd protect his own ass, if nothing else." Elise is also ignoring Reed.

    "Elise is right, from the beginning of this I've felt like we're being played," Ryann adds.

    "Listen, Ryann, I know you - wait, you agree with me,” Elise says, deflating. “Huh." Ryann smirks.

    Miles raps his knuckles on the table. "Killing off the Council is our last resort. Reed's right - it is murder. Just as importantly, it's also what Rabum Alal wants."

    Michael nods in agreement with this. Reed gestures at Miles, "Thank you, Mason."

  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    Clay sighs. "Alright so, both of these groups have leaders, right? The Parliament has Rabum Alal, and who is in charge of the Council? Who is the big stretchy swinging dick there?"

    Reed makes a sour face. "They call him the Maker."

    "Pretty lofty title," Julian observes.

    Clay nods with his eyebrows raised. "That is not a pretentious title a multiversal collection of Reeds would call their leader. No sir."

    "What's he make, though?" Elise muses. "Like you're a scientist doctor guy, right, Mr. Richards? You wouldn't call yourself a Maker. You don't make things, right? You invent them, study them, but... Weird title, right?"

    Reed sighs and nods at Elise. "That is true. I assume the Reed in charge of the Council is a very different person from me."

    "I gotta say, our Reed is the least dickish one I've met, so we've got that over the Council too," Michael nods to Reed, who squints.

    "How is that even possible?" Elise stage whispers to Michael.

    Michael leans towards Elise, and makes jazz hands. "Multiverse."

    Clay continues. "The Parliament is a powder-keg. Rabum Alal has managed to be Big Doom In Charge and get the others to kowtow to him through, I imagine, a constant regime of fear, power, subterfuge, and tyranny. And he's the only thing keeping them from exploding on each other into ten million knives in the dark.

    "So, one plan is to simply snuff out Rabum Alal and let the Parliament eat itself. The Council will see that weakness and help do the job for us, even."

    "Maybe that's Kristoff plan, isn't he some kind of prince or duke or something?" Ryann asks. "Do we know there is no line of succession?"

    Reed nods at Ryann. "He's right, Quartermain. Maybe that's the set-up: you snuff out the king, and the boy-prince takes over and you did his job for him."

    Clay grumbles. "Bah. See, this is why, take out the Council, take out the Parliament, just, wholesale. Much cleaner."

    Reed growls at Clay. "The Council wanted to kidnap my son. How many times, on how many worlds, have they succeeded like that? How many children are there on the Structure? Other non-combatants?"

    "Leaving a dork like Kristoff in charge of the Parliament still seems like an objective upgrade from the cleverest, evilest, most powerful Doom of all,” Miles says. “We might be 'doing his bidding' but that doesn't mean we should automatically rule it out."

    "Maybe we need to get some kind of spy on the inside." By way of demonstration, Elise snaps her fingers at the table.

    Elise transforms into a Doctor Doom. A tiny one.

    A very small Doom sits at the table. Clay looks at her and sighs.

    "Okay, see, so I just head over to their HQ..."

    "Elise, I'm a Skrull," Clay explains patiently. "If we could just infiltrate them with shapeshifters, you think we wouldn't have done that already?"

    "THIS DOOM EVEN HAS A VOICE MODULATOR BUILT IN."

    "Stop yelling, Elise," Ryann says, wincing.

    Reed puts up his hands. "All of this is academic if we can't find the Parliament and the Council." He brings up a console on the table. "This computer system is keyed to a dimensional frequency indexing system. It's what we use to choose where a portal goes.

    "We need someone to learn where the Council and the Parliament's headquarters are from the Cube. And then input them into the console."

    Elise raises her hand. Reed grumbles, and Clay nods at Elise. "Go."

    "It should be me."

    Clay nods, and Reed begins to protest and Clay puts up his hand before continuing. "I agree. You're the person with the most cosmic awareness to understand what you're even seeing. You've also been to both places very recently.

    "However.

    "Elise, I need you to focus on the task at hand. Also take that ridiculous Doom disguise off. It's not making anyone here more confident."

    Elise grumbles and then poofs back to being Elise. "I always focus."

    Julian whispers to Michael, "It was making me more confident."

  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    "Ryann, give her the Cube," Clay says.

    Miles frowns at this but says nothing. With a glance at him and Clay, Ryann places the cube on the table and folds his arms.

    Elise holds both hands out and wiggles her fingers, then sighs and gently places both hands on the side of the cube. "Okay. Okay. I'm gonna try this."

    Her mind enters the universal index of the Final Tesseract.

    PMu8cLAh.jpg

    Every universe, everywhere in the multiverse, is shaping out in front of her like infinite paths folding in on themselves.

    GdNvCxeh.jpg

    "It's beautiful." She can see it all. The entire index. It's all laid out before her.

    ldQRQDph.jpg

    She can see where they are. Latverion. The Structure. The Parliament and the Council.

    But she sees more. She can see every single universe. Every single timeline. She can't understand it all, but with enough time, she could. All this knowledge.

    ...knowledge

    BeLdZddl.jpg

    THE BARGAIN IS COMPLETED

    "No!" she cries. "No, no, fuck you, there was no bargain!"

    Her mind is pulled out of the Cube.

    "NO!"

    She's sitting at the table.

    She...she remembers where the Council and the Parliament are? But...but there was...there was so much else in there....she has a hard time remembering it.

    Dormammu.

    The Bargain is Completed.

    "Oh no," she whispers. "No, no, no, no..."

    "Elise?" Julian asks softly.

    "Come back and fight me, you cowardly son of a bitch! There was no bargain! I never agreed!" Elise stands and yells at what is technically nothing.

    Ryann frowns deeply. Miles half-stands from his chair. "What - ? Julian, is she okay?"

    Clay rubs his temples. "It was Dormammu," he says. "I was in there with her."

    Elise’s head whips to stare at Clay. "What!"

    "In case she did something dumb or got lost," he adds.

    Elise sighs heavily and sits back down.

    "Wait, so what does that mean?" Julian asks.

    "I saw it,” she sighs. “I know where they are. I saw everything. I could… If I could go back in, I could go through it all. I could solve everything. It'd be so easy, when you see it like that."

    "Elise," Clay growls, "what did you just learn about the dangers of doing exactly that?" He nods at the console. "Put the frequency into Reed's computer."

    "Yes, dad. Sorry." Elise moves to Reed's computer, seeming to snap back to reality.

    Reed is silent, his face motionless as he watches. "Thank you," he says when she finishes. "I'll get this to my people."

  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    Clay sits back in his chair. "Right, so we need a plan. Who do we hit first? Simultaneous teams? Help me out here because apparently my plan of turn off their powers and stuff nukes in their glove compartments is 'unethical.'" He makes sneering finger-quotes.

    PHU1KZN.png
    During one of the Atlantis episodes, I wrote about how the various participants are (mostly) good people trying to do good, but come at problems from completely different perspectives. Clay is a loveably grouchy dad but he’s kind of weirdly cool with mass murder? Meanwhile, Reed can be thoughtless and condescending on a personal level but has a code of ethics that’s unflinching. And at this moment, Miles starts to find himself drawn more to Reed’s point of view.

    Miles considers for a moment, then begins nodding as a plan starts to form. "Ryann takes one team, I take another,” he begins slowly. “I'm thinking Ryann, Elise, Michael, Nebula on the Council team; and for the Parliament team, me, Julian, X-51, and...I'd like to bring Carol in on this, if we could.

    "We hit them simultaneously. We also have Nextwave do a similar split - maybe Bob heading up one team, Jessica the other - and they make diversionary strikes at Utopia-44 and one of the Parliament's worlds."

    Clay nods thoughtfully. "I like it." Elise shakes her head, but says nothing.

    Reed puts his hand up. "What's the final objective here? Blowing up the Structure or killing Rabum Alal are not good ideas. We talked about this."

    Michael nods to Reed.

    "I think taking out the leaders needs to be our final objective,” Miles says. “It doesn't have to be murder, but we need to take them out of play."

    "Wouldn't that create a power vacuum? Like it would certainly destabilize the groups for a time, but not get rid of them completely,” Michael says. “Then they'd regroup and come after us."

    "Do we have to do this now? Look, the Final Tesseract gives us everything. How do we know the Skrulls or an Attilan civil war won't break out while we're going on this ill-defined mission?" Elise says. "If I just have enough time to look at it..."

    "Elise has a point,” Michael says. “About the first two things specifically."

    "Elise, the answers to everything aren't in the Tesseract,” Miles says. “You need to stop fixating. It's really worrying me."

    "I'm not fixating, I'm being reasonable!” she protests, then mutters “Maybe you're fixated on X-51, if you won't give it up.”

    X-51’s hand lands on her shoulder. "Excuse me. I'm standing right here."

    She jumps. "I...uh, sorry."

    Clay points at the Final Tesseract. "Where's this come in?"

    Miles turns to Clay. "As for that thing...I'd rather do all this without its help. There might be some monkey's paw shit we don't know about. But if we're going to use it, I think the best balance between being humane and also dealing with the problem would be to cut the HQ worlds off from the rest of the multiverse. Close the doors. Let the Reeds and Dooms simmer in their own juices, sequestered away from everyone else."

    Clay nods at Miles. "I like that. Just, lock them out. Mojo was able to do it, it's clearly something the Tesseract can do."

    "It's where I got the idea, honestly," Miles says.

    Clay takes a deep breath, and smiles. "I like this plan, Mason. I'll try to write Danvers in. Reed, any WHISPER personnel you can spare on this op?"

    Reed nods. "I'll see what I can do."

    Clay continues, "I'm going to talk to Strange. He's the person I trust most to use this," he points at the Final Tesseract. "When you guys have finished your objectives, we'll have Strange use the Tesseract to lock the Parliament and Council out. Forever. And then we're getting rid of that thing.

    “If we stole it from Mojo, someone could steal it from us. I hate the idea of my garbage sister getting ahold of it."

    Miles nods. "I agree. Having that thing around gives me the willies."

    Elise grumbles wordlessly, and Clay turns to her. "Elise, I talked to Crystalia while you were gone about the whole situation. It's not going to be a big issue for her, at least in the short term. HELM might pressure Attilan to revoke her diplomatic credentials out of...spite?

    "But that's the maximum blowback she'll get," he says. "I also talked to her about what Kristoff said vis a vis Maximus. We'll...work it out."

    Elise sighs. "Okay."

  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    Clay claps his hands. "Right then, we've got a plan, we've got some objectives, we have a major win on our hands. Anything further?"

    "We probably need to figure out where X-51 stands," Miles says, "now that he's got a body. I mean, not where he literally stands. He can figure that out himself now."

    X-51 raises his hand. "I have a new body which is an Omega-Level weapon created by the Builders, an ancient precursor race from the universe before ours. I am capable of a nearly limitless amount of destruction, although at this time I have no inclination for such things."

    Elise raises a hand. "Oh! He wants to go to another dimension, I said we could probably make it happen."

    Michael raises his hand. "I'd like a quick word privately, Boss. Just want to run something by you."

    Clay grimaces. "That's...that's great that is. That'd be the Tactigon, then?" X-51 nods, and Clay looks at Elise. "What's this about another dimension?"

    "Earth-209, the universe Jocasta hails from,” X-51 says. “When Elise, under the influence of a Klyntar symbiote, threw me out of the engagement zone, that was where I landed. Perhaps subconsciously she sent me somewhere I would be safe?"

    "Let's go with that," she says.

    "Perhaps when Jocasta is returned to her Earth, I could accompany her for a short visit?" X-51 asks.

    Clay's eyebrows raise all the way up his head. "Absolutely not."

    Miles squints. "Why's that?"

    "We have very little intel on that world. X-51 has a body that, well...you heard him describe it. What if they attempt to hack him or get hostile with him? Perhaps he's more than capable of defending himself. Perhaps it causes a major inter-dimensional incident! Not right now," Clay says. "We can't have that. What we know of Earth-209 is it's all synthetics and they don't have humans anymore. Which means at some point...humans became extinct. I'm not a huge fan of that.

    "Maybe you can visit with the entire team at some point, X-51. But you're definitely not going there with just Jocasta."

    Ryann shakes his head. "Do we know why? Do we know that they were involved in the lack of humans? If not. I think it's pretty clear we need all the help we can find."

    "I could go with him," Miles offers. "Besides, Clay, Jocasta's been a help. Maybe that was just a facade, maybe her world is a hellhole. If it is, we need to know. If it's not, we could use them on side, and a good relationship with them could avoid trouble in the future. X-51 has all my knowledge and training, and my rad taste in music. Why can't he be our man on the inside there?"

    Clay starts to argue and Reed talks over him. "I agree with Mason. X-51, you're cleared to return with Jocasta. Gather intelligence on her world and return."

    Clay stands up from his chair while staring sidelong at Reed. "I'm sorry what."

    PHU1KZN.png
    Bear in mind that, as a Skrull, Clay still has an actual lingering religious prejudice against artificial life-forms. Dealing with Vlad didn’t help that any. Miles know that, so he’s pushing back - he takes X-51’s personhood very seriously - and is pleased to find Reed and Ryann agreeing.

    Reed looks at Clay. "Your team will operate largely independently, Quartermain, but if you work for WHISPER, you work for Susan and I and if I feel it is in our best interests, I will over-rule you."

    Clay sits back down and folds his hands. "...fine."

    Elise raises a hand. "Wait, do I need to move my apartment again?"

    Clay shakes his head. "It's already been moved."

    "Well, then, can I go take some Advil and lie down? I got hit by a lot of beams today."

    "Sorry 'bout that," Michael says.

    Clay nods. "Team, you're dismissed. Westin, if you want to have a word, stick around."

    Reed reaches over and puts the Tesseract in a secure case. Elise gives it one last look before turning and slouching out, grumbling. Ryann watches the damn Cube get placed in the secure case and nods with satisfaction as the case clicks shut. He turns to Sam. "Alright, kid, I'm starving, let's grab a bite to eat."

    Miles gives X-51 a shoulder pat and a thumbs-up and heads out, already dialing Carol's number.

    Bob leans over to Julian, "Psst, hey Jewels, wanna go get fucked up on space drugs?" He subtly half-draws a packet of red powder that he bought on Mojoworld from his pocket and shows only Julian, who nods eagerly.

    "Hell yeah."

    Fencingsax
  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    Everyone shuffles out the Quiet Room except Clay and Michael.

    "What can I help you with, Westin?"

    "Asgard, actually. Are you aware that it's dying? That because we sealed off the Power Cosmic that it's basically slowly degrading?"

    Clay nods. "I've read briefings. You've got a plan or an idea, something you want to run by me, I take it?"

    "Yes. Could we potentially use this Final Tesseract to essentially 're-open' Yggdrasil? Obviously we'd only open it to help Asgard and not, ya know, free the Celestials."

    "Hm." Clay nods thoughtfully. "I'll talk to Reed about it, get him to do some math. The real risk there is, what if by peeking that door open to let the energy from Yggdrasil in, we mess up the trick Miles did to lock out the Celestials. I don't want to undo the fix we did there.

    "But we'll look into it. It's a good idea."

    Michael nods. "Thanks for hearing me out, boss."

    "If Reed says it's a bad call because of Quantum Bullshit or whatever, then we'll figure some other alternative energy source," Clay adds. "You know now that I think about it, I'll ask Susan, she'll give me an answer that won't take four hours."

    "Hahaha, that's true,” Michael snorts. Then he grows serious. “Our Reed is pretty insufferable, but he's one of the good ones, trust me."

    Clay nods. "Terrifying to think about, what the bad ones are like." He gestures at the door. "Well, let's go get settled in to the new place..."

  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    g3xuawl.png

    aaNZlS9h.png

    Kristoff gazes at a monitor in his quarters, watching the end of the Mojo Royale. "This is Miles Mason of Earth-1491, wishing you good night and good luck."

    Kristoff folds his arms. "A touch dramatic, but at least they accomplished the task," he murmurs to himself.

    S3WE6WRl.jpg

    Another Doctor Doom enters the room, and Kristoff sneers at him. "Doom-7245, does your universe not have the concept of knocking? Are you the Doom Who Does Not Knock?"

    Doom stares at him.

    Kristoff scowls. "What? What are you here for? Does Rabum Alal summon me? Speak! Or are you some misbegotten Doombot?"

    A black tendril begins sliding from between the plates of Doom's armor.

    Kristoff squints at it. "What...what in the-...."

    5DEP3eAl.jpg

    PHU1KZN.png
    Welp! Now we know what happened with Elise’s bad roll!


    r2C6Mbd.png

    FencingsaxjurnerNytewarrior
  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    I'm sorry that the forum's CSS is being a punk, guys! Tube's filed a ticket with our Vanilla overlords and normal service should resume soon. Hopefully. Please god.

    FencingsaxNytewarrior
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