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[Actual Play, NSFData] Marvel's Agents of STRIKE - 402 "Downfall"

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Posts

  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    edited January 17
    @Fencingsax @Matev @see317 @jurner @visiblehowl @Powerpuppies @Nytewarrior @Zilla360 @MsAnthropy


    This is a bittersweet occasion. Season 3 is now complete. And that means...so is this story! For now. We wrapped up Season 3 right before the holidays and just had our first session of Season 4 last week; you're now just one episode behind where we the players are, so right now, for what happens next, your guess is basically as good as mine.

    I've been working on a revamp of the early installments to get them up to the standards of the current ones, fix typos, improve some of the art, etc.
    Lv1B63K.png
    icIyajW.png

    There are also some "deleted scenes" - by which I mean stuff that literally got deleted, because the early installments of this were transcribed by hand and sometimes mistakes were made. Now I do it all with an exporter program and a bunch of macros and it makes it so much easier and faster. But anyway, while apparently the missing stuff wasn't egregious enough to keep people from making sense of the story, it'll be nice to have it back. There's a whole conversation when the team met the Heavy Doombot in Wundagore Valley, for instance, that was just...gone, originally.

    The season 1 revamp is done and I'm going to start editing it into my old posts soon. I'll say something here when I do.

    Anyway, what I wanted to say is, thank you all so much for joining us on this adventure. Your feedback, thoughts, comments, or even just Awesomes have been energizing. I can't speak for the other players, but I know it's pushed me, personally, to keep raising my game since I started doing this.

    Jacobkosh on
    jurnersee317MsAnthropyvisiblehowlMatevFencingsaxRear Admiral ChocoGrog
  • PowerpuppiesPowerpuppies Registered User regular
    I like what things Miles cares about and what he doesn't

    Celestials? Fuck 'em.

    I like that Ryann didn't volunteer.

    Was there a chance Vlad could fail, or once Miles rescued him, the Galactus threat was effectively solved?

    It certainly seems as if Miles's choice to ice out the Celestials was the best one, if Vlad had it covered.

    sig.gif
    Jacobkosh
  • jurnerjurner Registered User regular
    Jacobkosh wrote: »
    NEXT SEASON ON:
    qZ8f0Dc.png
    "I'm going to do whatever it takes to earn this, Ryann. To become a real Nova, like you."
    2OGgeoTl.jpg
    "Your soul will burn with the guilt of your endless sin! Are you penitent?!
    f6RZlVxl.jpg
    "I am Rom, last of the Space-Knights of Galador, and I am here to save your world."
    eQn4WDUl.jpg
    "Asgard is dying, decaying into nothingness, Destroyer. Join me, and burn away the rot and we will resurrect Asgard to its rightful glory."
    TS6vFxGl.jpg
    "All hail Rabum Alal, the Doom Above All! He's pretty cool, Elise!"
    HLdoXaPl.jpg
    "Dear brother, the invasion is already over. The Earth belongs to me, Z'reg."
    ggqTNc8l.jpg

    Wait, does this all happen in Session one of Season 4, or is Matt hinting at what's to come? Because holy hell that is a lot of shit to go down in one session!

    Also, did Cable just sort of disappear?

  • MatevMatev Cero Miedo Registered User regular
    jurner wrote: »
    Jacobkosh wrote: »
    NEXT SEASON ON:
    qZ8f0Dc.png
    "I'm going to do whatever it takes to earn this, Ryann. To become a real Nova, like you."
    2OGgeoTl.jpg
    "Your soul will burn with the guilt of your endless sin! Are you penitent?!
    f6RZlVxl.jpg
    "I am Rom, last of the Space-Knights of Galador, and I am here to save your world."
    eQn4WDUl.jpg
    "Asgard is dying, decaying into nothingness, Destroyer. Join me, and burn away the rot and we will resurrect Asgard to its rightful glory."
    TS6vFxGl.jpg
    "All hail Rabum Alal, the Doom Above All! He's pretty cool, Elise!"
    HLdoXaPl.jpg
    "Dear brother, the invasion is already over. The Earth belongs to me, Z'reg."
    ggqTNc8l.jpg

    Wait, does this all happen in Session one of Season 4, or is Matt hinting at what's to come? Because holy hell that is a lot of shit to go down in one session!

    Also, did Cable just sort of disappear?

    Matt, like myself, feels quite meticulous in their planning of game and use of characters. Cable will totally be back.

    Helluva ride Jake. This game's been building to Galactus since the beginning, as Marvel stories tend to. What does one do when one finally punches out God? Looking forward to finding out.
    As usual, God/Entropy is not the final enemy. All roads lead to DOOM.

    "Go down, kick ass, and set yourselves up as gods, that's our Prime Directive!"
    Hail Hydra
    Jacobkosh
  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    edited January 17
    jurner wrote: »
    Jacobkosh wrote: »
    NEXT SEASON ON:
    qZ8f0Dc.png
    "I'm going to do whatever it takes to earn this, Ryann. To become a real Nova, like you."
    2OGgeoTl.jpg
    "Your soul will burn with the guilt of your endless sin! Are you penitent?!
    f6RZlVxl.jpg
    "I am Rom, last of the Space-Knights of Galador, and I am here to save your world."
    eQn4WDUl.jpg
    "Asgard is dying, decaying into nothingness, Destroyer. Join me, and burn away the rot and we will resurrect Asgard to its rightful glory."
    TS6vFxGl.jpg
    "All hail Rabum Alal, the Doom Above All! He's pretty cool, Elise!"
    HLdoXaPl.jpg
    "Dear brother, the invasion is already over. The Earth belongs to me, Z'reg."
    ggqTNc8l.jpg

    Wait, does this all happen in Session one of Season 4, or is Matt hinting at what's to come? Because holy hell that is a lot of shit to go down in one session!

    Also, did Cable just sort of disappear?

    That's all stuff to come. Matt liked my teasers so did one right after the credits music, just as you read it here. Which is a bold move since I dunno how we'll get to half of these, but I'm excited to see.

    And yeah, Cable totally just vanished. I think once he realized we weren't going to wake up Apocalypse and the Heralds weren't in his lane, he peaced out. Or maybe, with his future fixed, he stopped existing.

    Jacobkosh on
    Matevjurner
  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    I like what things Miles cares about and what he doesn't

    Celestials? Fuck 'em.

    I like that Ryann didn't volunteer.

    Was there a chance Vlad could fail, or once Miles rescued him, the Galactus threat was effectively solved?

    It certainly seems as if Miles's choice to ice out the Celestials was the best one, if Vlad had it covered.

    Yeah, without knowing it, by saving Vlad, Miles gave the team a backup plan. Vlad couldn't fail (since NPCs don't roll) but if he hadn't been there, stuff could have gone a lot worse.

  • jurnerjurner Registered User regular
    Jacobkosh wrote: »
    jurner wrote: »
    Jacobkosh wrote: »
    NEXT SEASON ON:
    qZ8f0Dc.png
    "I'm going to do whatever it takes to earn this, Ryann. To become a real Nova, like you."
    2OGgeoTl.jpg
    "Your soul will burn with the guilt of your endless sin! Are you penitent?!
    f6RZlVxl.jpg
    "I am Rom, last of the Space-Knights of Galador, and I am here to save your world."
    eQn4WDUl.jpg
    "Asgard is dying, decaying into nothingness, Destroyer. Join me, and burn away the rot and we will resurrect Asgard to its rightful glory."
    TS6vFxGl.jpg
    "All hail Rabum Alal, the Doom Above All! He's pretty cool, Elise!"
    HLdoXaPl.jpg
    "Dear brother, the invasion is already over. The Earth belongs to me, Z'reg."
    ggqTNc8l.jpg

    Wait, does this all happen in Session one of Season 4, or is Matt hinting at what's to come? Because holy hell that is a lot of shit to go down in one session!

    Also, did Cable just sort of disappear?

    That's all stuff to come. Matt liked my teasers so did one right after the credits music, just as you read it here. Which is a bold move since I dunno how we'll get to half of these, but I'm excited to see.

    And yeah, Cable totally just vanished. I think once he realized we weren't going to wake up Apocalypse and the Heralds weren't in his lane, he peaced out. Or maybe, with his future fixed, he stopped existing.

    The teasers are pretty awesome. I'm impressed by the faith he has in you all. There are certainly players out there who wouldn't handle that well.

    I'm looking forward to meeting another Rider. Fingers crossed they're God's black ops agents like in Aaron's run.

  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    jurner wrote: »
    Jacobkosh wrote: »
    jurner wrote: »
    Jacobkosh wrote: »
    NEXT SEASON ON:
    qZ8f0Dc.png
    "I'm going to do whatever it takes to earn this, Ryann. To become a real Nova, like you."
    2OGgeoTl.jpg
    "Your soul will burn with the guilt of your endless sin! Are you penitent?!
    f6RZlVxl.jpg
    "I am Rom, last of the Space-Knights of Galador, and I am here to save your world."
    eQn4WDUl.jpg
    "Asgard is dying, decaying into nothingness, Destroyer. Join me, and burn away the rot and we will resurrect Asgard to its rightful glory."
    TS6vFxGl.jpg
    "All hail Rabum Alal, the Doom Above All! He's pretty cool, Elise!"
    HLdoXaPl.jpg
    "Dear brother, the invasion is already over. The Earth belongs to me, Z'reg."
    ggqTNc8l.jpg

    Wait, does this all happen in Session one of Season 4, or is Matt hinting at what's to come? Because holy hell that is a lot of shit to go down in one session!

    Also, did Cable just sort of disappear?

    That's all stuff to come. Matt liked my teasers so did one right after the credits music, just as you read it here. Which is a bold move since I dunno how we'll get to half of these, but I'm excited to see.

    And yeah, Cable totally just vanished. I think once he realized we weren't going to wake up Apocalypse and the Heralds weren't in his lane, he peaced out. Or maybe, with his future fixed, he stopped existing.

    The teasers are pretty awesome. I'm impressed by the faith he has in you all. There are certainly players out there who wouldn't handle that well.

    I'm looking forward to meeting another Rider. Fingers crossed they're God's black ops agents like in Aaron's run.

    Oh my god yes, some players would absolutely try to torpedo that. I've seen people in rpg forums crow about doing that and it's like holy geez, guy, I guess...you sure taught your GM a lesson about trying to do something fun? What a hero.

    I'm really, really lucky to be playing with the people I am and that we all trust each other as much as we do. This game would be completely impossible without that.

    And yeah, I am desperately curious to know what's up with the Ghostier Rider as well.

    Matev
  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    Although what I'm most looking forward to is ROM!

    ROM!!!!!!

    QMq7j58h.jpg

    MatevFencingsaxjurner
  • NytewarriorNytewarrior Registered User regular
    Metal...

    steam_sig.png
    3DSFC: 4828-7889-8155
  • GrogGrog My sword is only steel in a useful shape.Registered User regular
    Finally got caught up reading this. Highlights include: beta-ray bill (and the entire space arc); Elise Arnell- Agent of Doom; any scene with Bob.

    Really appreciate all the work you've put in @Jacobkosh

    m3d1jf1cwv8w.png
    PowerpuppiesJacobkoshMatevRear Admiral Choco
  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    During this week's session, we were discussing the game system and I was arguing that for big fights, the potential forfeits for getting a partial success on a roll should be equally big. "Ryann has a choice: he can dash forward and snatch the Cosmic Cube out of Doctor Doom's hand, but in the process, he will shit himself."

    And without missing a beat, Jake starts belting out AND THEY SAY THAT A HERO CAN SAVE US, I'M NOT GONNA STAND HERE AND WAIT

    MatevNytewarriorRear Admiral Choco
  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    9GBnzdKh.png

    Freedom Force assembles at the tower, having been called back in after having two months of mandatory paid leave. They enter the conference room. As they filter in, STRIKE Director Clay Quartermain and STRIKE-2 Team Leader Robert Childan await them.

    m2Ht4eEl.jpg

    Elise bounds into the room, nearly vibrating with excess energy. She's not wearing her usual Attilan coat; instead, she shrugs out of a leather bomber jacket. "We're back!" she crows. "We're back, we're back, back to wooooork!"

    SP3kRhSl.png

    Michael walks in after two months away and he looks... quite different. He's let his hair down both figuratively and literally He's got a beard growing and his hair is longer, not his usual clean buzz cut. His suit has been replaced by more Asgardian fashion, with a shoulder cape to complete the look.

    KNzA2Ynl.png

    Ryann strolls into the room wearing general Earth office attire, looking happy and well-rested.

    Miles strides in, wearing dark purple combat armor under a brown trenchcoat. Close observers like Elise can tell he's thickened slightly around the waist; he's still got tone, but he's clearly been eating well and watching more Netflix than usual over the Christmas break. Stretching his arm to hit the button to elevate his chair, he all but vaults into the chair from behind, folding his hands before him and smiling at Clay expectantly.

    "I missed you guys, lemme just say off the bat." Michael smiles fondly at all assembled.

    Miles grins. "Right back at you, man. You're lookin' fly."

    "Thanks, kinda got tired of pressing my suits all the time,” Michael laughs.

    Julian walks in, dressed in a long sleeved black v-neck and skinny jeans. His beard is kept trim, hair cut short at the sides, the top swept over with dyed purple tips. He waves and smiles warmly as he plops into a chair. "Good to see everyone!"

    "Crys sent me a USB drive full of baby pictures." Elise grins and flourishes it. "Y'know, if anyone's interested. Babies are kind of boring?"

    Clay nods. "Send me a copy."

    Elise nods. "I'll put em up on...Facebook?"

    "I don't do Earth social media, but I'll check them out when I can," Ryann smiles.

    "Alright people, let's get started." Clay opens the briefing. "As everyone knows, we have some issues brewing between the Council and the Parliament. On Earth-44, things got a little bit heated. We need more intel to prepare ourselves from some potential blowback, and I've been working with ARMOR Director Jones on that front."

    "Aw, reunited with your best friend!" Elise grins widely, to a grumble from Clay. Across the table from her, Michael remembers his Earth-44 excursion and shudders.

    Clay clears his throat and continues, gesturing Longbow to the head of the table. "Robert's world has experience dealing with the Parliament, and I'll give him the floor to explain in more detail."

    Bob begins. "So, yeah...you guys know my world has...problems. Well, the Victor Von Doom on my world, he was a dude called Doomlord and he was, in hindsight...a good dude? Like the way he ran Latveria, he was protecting people, trying to keep them safe from HYDRA.

    "And HYDRA couldn't really do a whole lot about it because, well, you guys imagine picking a fight with Doctor Doom. Not easy.

    "Then, Doomlord got offered a seat at the table with the Parliament, and told them to go screw and then some. He picked a fight with them. They took that personally, and decided to strike a deal with HYDRA and give them the tech to take Doomlord down. And...boy, did they.

    "From there, HYDRA developed the technology to travel to alternate universes. They built a ship, the Kreuzritter...Crusader...and they...we, the Avengers, were the vanguard of a HYDRA raiding party that would sack other Earths for resources, slaves, stuff like that.

    "That's how I ended up here. The Crusader jumped in to this Earth, the Ultimates showed up in the Quincarrier and we lost. The Avengers had to abandon ship, and then we ran into Vlad and...lost that fight too."

    Elise grimaces.

    "I'm guessing Earth-108 isn't Galactius mulch because of its lack of cosmic interference. Do we know anything regarding that?" Ryann is still a bit wary from his experience on Earth-501 even though the Devourer is dead and gone in his reality.

    "Honestly, we've never heard of Galactus, or aliens outside of the Kree."

    "Wait. Wait,” Elise cries. “This is a really long briefing on this dimension. Clay, you did not call my gay ass back into the office to send me to Nazi Earth, did you?"

    Clay nods.

    Matev
  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    "I thought you were eager to get back in the saddle, Elise," Miles chirps.

    "I'm not even trying to think what Xandar is like is that universe," Ryann laughs.

    "Good god, Ryann." Julian hides a grin under pursed lips.

    Clay looks to each of the team in turn. "We need intel on the Parliament. Earth-108's dimensional technology is Parliament technology. We have studied some of it, thanks to repossessing the Crusader and repairing it, but the majority of their technology and research is on their world."

    "Are you kidding me? Do you expect me to hide this gay light under a bushel?" Elise gestures at her hair and lifts her shirt to point at her tattoo. "I don't just trigger gaydars, I nuke them."

    Clay sighs. "You're a spy. I expect you to do your job." Near him, Ryann gives Elise a slow nod. Michael laughs; he's missed this.

    "Hey, you're not the only one,” Julian laughs, pointing towards his own 'do.

    "No, you know what, maybe you're onto something,” Elise says. “I'll bring a bass guitar. Stand up on top of a truck or something. The hopelessly straight masses look at me as I rip off my shirt and play a sweet solo. Suddenly, they feel something stirring. They'll call me The Sex Rebel."

    "No," Clay says flatly. "We are not there to fix that world. We are there to gather intel and leave."

    Miles nods. "Plus I don't think she even knows how to play guitar."

    "I own a guitar," she protests.

    "I thought you've been to other worlds before, Elise? Like, do you do try to save them every time?" Ryann asks, looking at Clay.

    "I...we did a whole lot for Skrull Earth!" Elise snaps back at Ryann.

    "We won't be doing that for Earth-108,” Clay says. “We can't. That's larger than us or our mission.”

    He clears his throat and continues. "You'll be taking the Crusader. Robert will be going with you, as the sole surviving member of the Earth-108 Avengers. Your cover will be you are HYDRA agents from Earth-1491, who helped Robert repair the Crusader and escape. You will self-identify as members of STRIKE, a division of HYDRA. The best lies are ones that are tainted truths."

    Miles nods grimly. "So what are we actually looking to do? Take the Kreuzritter back and...ask nicely where they keep the Parliament tech?"

    "In German," Ryann adds.

    "I speak a little German!" Elise perks up. "From COMMS!" She begins to speak in heavily accented, halting German. She's very proud of herself.

    "Ja. Das ist gut, nein?" Julian speaks in an obviously unpracticed manner.

    Clay nods at Miles. "More or less. You're going to cajole them into sharing the technology with you, from one HYDRA to another, to help 'conquer' Earth-1491."

    Miles nods thoughtfully. "Cool. Been a while since we've run a real spy grift." He rubs his hands together in anticipation. "I'm looking forward to it."

    "Looking forward to it! That's some fuckin' straight white dude privilege, Miles. This is workplace hostility," Elise declares piously. "I'm filing a report."

    Miles meets her gaze. "You've been dodging HR for months. You're not going to go in that office now."

    Clay snaps his fingers. "People." Elise jumps. "Robert and Agent Josten from ARMOR have written up an extensive report on Earth-108. You can read it in your new ride on the way to the ARMOR base where the Crusader is stored. Keep in mind that German is the predominant language of Earth-108. Those of you who do not speak it fluently, or speak it..." He just looks at Elise, "Should consider getting translator tech, which you can obtain at the ARMOR base."

    Elise throws her hands up in frustration at Clay.

    Miles sucks his teeth. "...It's been a few years. I should probably just spring for the translator."

    "There's one other note," Clay adds. "And this is important. Which is how you're getting back."

    "We're not riding the ship back?"

    "No. Unless you plan to steal it."

    "Can we?" Ryann grins

    "I mean, we could," Michael notes.

    Miles grins approvingly at Michael. "I like that plan.” He turns to Clay. “But also, what, can we not call ARMOR and have them use the Holepunch?"

    "We are going to send you with an ARMOR transponder," Clay says. "But here's the catch: it's going to be blank."

    Miles squints.

    Matev
  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    Bob explains, "So, here's the deal: when the Crusader picked a target, that was Von Strucker's call. The data on our target was in the Crusader's computer. Which means that HYDRA doesn't know...where this Earth is. They don't have your number, so to speak. And ARMOR has blanked it out of the Crusader's computers. No return address. So when HYDRA takes possession of the Crusader, and they will, they won't be able to come back here. But neither will you, not using the Crusader, anyway."

    Clay continues. "That's also why the ARMOR transponder is blank. It'll need the call code to transmit to ARMOR to fire up the Holepunch. Which we're going to be giving in two parts, as an encrypted one-time use key, to Valt and Mason. Valt will encrypt it into his gauntlet, and Mason will encrypt it into his head with X-51."

    Miles nods. "Slick. Okay, I'm with you."

    "If HYDRA captures either Mason or Valt, but not the other, they get nothing. But you also need to rescue them, because you need them to get home. Even if they capture both, the encryption will be beyond their abilities to possibly deal with. X-51 is a Celestially-augmented quantum computer, and Valt's gauntlet is alien technology that they've never encountered."

    "That's a smart play," Michael nods.

    "Fine,” Elise sighs. “Fine. I just want this on the record, Clay. If I get caught as a gender traitor, you are going to feel so bad."

    "Yes, I will," he agrees.

    Miles tugs his lapels. "Feels good to be mission-critical." Ryann nods agreement.

    "I'm mission critical too." Elise grouses. "I had the Red Skull in my brain for months. I bet it'll turn out to be super useful. Everyone will be like, wow, Elise. You're so...critical to the mission!"

    "That sounds plausible," Miles agrees. Ryann just sighs.

    "You are Elise, we couldn't do this without you." Michael offers his fist; Elise returns the fistbump and makes it explode, at which point Michael makes his palm glow with energy.

    "’Mission Critical' should be the name of the first Sex Rebels album,” Julian declares. “Calling it right now."

    "Oh my god yes," Elise nods enthusiastically.

    "Alright,” Clay barks, “get going, Fury is waiting with your new ride, you'll get geared up at the mission site."

    Miles' grin is fierce as he stands to go. "HYDRA Earth won't know what hit it."

    Elise tosses Clay the USB on her way out. "Oh, I forgot. There's Attilan spy stuff on there, with the baby photos. Give it a lookie-loo while I'm gone." Clay nods.

    Matev
  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    edited September 8
    The team moves to the landing pad, where a new, prototype Quinjet is waiting as Mikel Fury preps it for launch.

    84iXqZBl.jpg

    Ryann smiles at the ship. "Lookin' good!”

    "Hi, Michael Two," Elise waves. Michael sighs and gives Fury a look of sympathy.

    Fury makes a face. "Why am I Michael Two? Why can't I be something like, Michael Omega or Michael Zero?"

    "Keep it up and I'll downgrade you to Michael Three," she shoots back. "I think we have a Michael in accounting. He can be Two."

    Mikel chuckles and shakes his head. "Anyway, check out my new plane."

    "Nice," Michael says.

    "It's the Omnijet X-01, Codename: Dagger. Smaller than the Zephyr, but a lot faster, has an experimental phase-based cloak that's a lot better than the holographic one the Zephyr has."

    "Siiiick,” Julian says. “Does this one get an ejector?"

    Miles whistles. "Everything's cooler with an X. Hey, you can be Michael X. If you earn it." This earns a grin from Mikel.

    "Transatmospheric?" Ryann asks, running his gauntleted hand along the flight surface.

    Fury nods briskly. "Transatmospheric and can kick up to luminal speed. No FTL, but it can get within the solar system pretty damn fast.

    “This is the prototype that SWORD's entire fleet will be within a year or two,” he adds. “We get it first because STRIKE's new budget gives us all the cool toys."

    Elise sighs. "Times like this make me wish I still smoked up, so I could just...leave my scent all over it."

    "I...” Miles stares at her.

    "I thought that's why you wanted to bring Crys," Julian quips.

    Elise looks briefly troubled. "Don't get me wrong, but I'm...okay with getting a tiny little bit of a break from Crys. I mean, like, if I can get away with it I'd dye my hair in the sink on my way over. But I don't think the trip is going to take long enough for a bleach and then a green dye. Look at me! Brown hair! I'm wilting."

    "All aboard, people." Mikel says with a grin. "We're going to get to Norway in like, an hour."

    The team loads up, and sets out. It's the fastest they've ever flown atmospherically.

    Along the way, they read the ARMOR briefing on their destination.

    Jacobkosh on
    Matev
  • PowerpuppiesPowerpuppies Registered User regular
    I am very excited rn

    sig.gif
    Fencingsax
  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    MHkEs8O.png

    We’ve put together as detailed a guide to Earth-108, the location we have code-named ‘HYDRA-Earth’. The intelligence on this guide has been pieced together from multiple sources, primarily from interviews with STRIKE Agent Robert Childan and interrogation of Earth-108 HYDRA personnel that are currently imprisoned in the Wonderland facility, as well as analysis of technology we have confiscated from their incursion in 2017.

    Because we have captured locals, obtained intact technology, and even possess a friendly agent that is willing to disclose intelligence to the best of his knowledge, our understanding of Earth-108 is possibly one of the clearest of any world we have never actually visited.

    We’ve broken up this guide into several sections for ease of reference. Several sections of this guide contain direct notes from STRIKE Agent Robert Childan, who as a native of this world is an authority on the subject.

    qlGmSdP.pngHYDRA-Earth History
    HYDRA-Earth’s differences from Earth-1491 seem to go back all the way to the Hyborian Age. On their world, Attilan never became a kingdom of Inhumans, and was left to dust as a vacant Kree research station when the Kree Accusers purged the Earth.

    Atlantis seemed to have destroyed itself in a war with the kingdom of Lemuria, a place that supposedly exists on Earth-1491 but of which we have little intel at this time. Accordingly, the kingdom of Atlantis does not exist in the modern HYDRA-Earth, and never did.

    Thule’s gateway was destroyed utterly by the Kree Accusers, and was never able to be re-opened.

    Asgard, meanwhile, took a very dramatic and different turn. Loki, the half-brother of Thor, was never born. Thor was exiled from Asgard not for accusations of fratricide, but for attempted regicide, trying to claim his father’s throne prematurely by murder. For thousands of years he walked the Earth, periodically interfering in mortal affairs whenever it suited him. He was never worthy of lifting Mjolnir, which still exists somewhere on HYDRA-Earth and has never been lifted by anyone.

    Leviathan never existed on Earth-108. It appears that the Skrull crash-landing that led to the creation of Leviathan never took place, or if it did happen, there were no survivors. The Skrulls never interfered in the rise of the Soviet Union, and never established themselves as a secret society in Russia. This actually led to more unchecked power for HYDRA, as Leviathan was one of their primary foes during World War II.

    Agent Childan: You don’t learn almost any of this stuff in history books. I know a lot of it because I was a top-ranking HYDRA agent and part of the Avengers. History books don’t treat Atlantis and Lemuria like they’re real. Asgard is real, it’s very real, and it’s idealized for…reasons. Thule too. The relationship my world has with Asgard and Thule is complicated.

    World War II is where Earth-108’s history dramatically departs from our own. Dr. Abraham Erskine never escaped Nazi Germany and died in a concentration camp. Instead, Dr. Arnim Zola was sent to the United States as a covert agent, essentially co-opting Erskine’s story and more or less his identity to set up a similar super-soldier program for the US. However, Project Rebirth on Earth-108 was secretly a HYDRA sleeper cell program, and recruited and brainwashed a young Steve Rogers into becoming their greatest asset; a super-soldier code-named Militant.

    Militant, at first calling himself Captain America and appearing to be superficially similar to Captain America on our Earth, performed covert espionage actions and sabotage for HYDRA. He helped undermine relations between the US and the Soviet Union, and aided the Nazi war effort until eventually he openly professed his allegiance to HYDRA, killing many of his comrades and turning sides.

    Militant and Red Skull went on a crusade across the world, working together with a small group of other extranormal individuals loyal to HYDRA to dismantle all opposition. They helped win the war for the Nazis.

    Agent Childan: This is considered really heroic on my world. Red Skull is still the Supreme Ruler of all of HYDRA but when it comes to who is the great hero of World War II, every kid will say Militant. I almost cried the first time I got to meet Steve Rogers, my hands were shaking, I grew up worshiping this guy as the hero who brought order to the world. It was one of my greatest honors and privileges to be promoted to working with the Avengers, to stand side by side with Steve Rogers, Militant. Then a few months back, I watched him die. Never meet your heroes, I guess.

    During the war, Militant helped Red Skull find Attilan, now a long disused Kree science station, but still a valuable source of Terrigen Crystals to create more Inhumans. They also discovered the Tomb of Kulan Gath, a Thulian sorcerer who served Shuma-Gorath in the Hyborian Age. From Gath’s tomb, Red Skull obtained an amulet known as the Eye of the Hydra, that allowed him to call upon the power of Shuma-Gorath locked away in Thule. Even if Red Skull had no power to summon Shuma-Gorath directly he could still use the Eye for mystical purposes.

    Armed with the Eye of the Hydra and Terrigen Crystals to make an Inhuman army, Red Skull and HYDRA took over the world. They quickly overthrew the Nazi Party, and disposed of any of their leadership that would not bow to HYDRA. From there, HYDRA established a global empire, permitting some regional rulership over areas they could not fully command and control themselves, such as allowing Imperial Japan to control almost all of East Asia.

    Organizations like SHIELD never existed, and nor did offshoots like SWORD or ARMOR.

    Over the course of the 20th century, HYDRA’s global government struggled to maintain control of the world. Resistance groups around the globe constantly formed and reformed and fought back, and for decades were secretly supplied with arms and technology by the isolated kingdom of Wakanda. Wakanda never permitted refugees, but did quietly allow some of its vibranium and technology to fall into the hands of rebels and resistance fighters, which slowed HYDRA’s control of the world by decades.

    Based on our intelligence, HYDRA doesn’t actually know where Wakanda is, and isn’t even completely certain that it is a centralized nation or a world-wide resistance network. Wakanda is currently led by King S’Yan, known as the Black Spider.

    Agent Childan: Wakanda is the perpetual thorn in HYDRA’s side, when you hear HYDRA agents cursing “The Spider” or talking about “the Web” in a derogatory fashion, they’re talking about Black Spider and his global resistance fighters. S’Yan is really good at what he does and has been doing it for decades. I spent a lot of years hunting down his guys with the Avengers, they’re formidable.

    Nearly ten years ago, Victor Von Doom took over the nation of Latveria and turned it into a haven for resistance fighters, as well as people who were constantly subject to discrimination, slavery, purges, and similar atrocities under HYDRA rule. He began calling himself Doomlord, and because of his significant technological knowledge and his alliance with Wakanda, he was able to fend off attacks from HYDRA for years.

    At some point, Doom was approached by representatives from the Parliament, who offered him membership. He declined, for reasons that are not entirely clear. He went further and attacked the Parliament, trying to engage with them on some level technologically and was a credible enough threat that the Parliament was willing to strike a deal with HYDRA to defeat Doom in exchange for technology that would allow HYDRA to traverse the multiverse.

    Agent Childan: Yeah, this is the heat of the meat, right? What I’ve never been able to figure out is why the Parliament ever agreed to help HYDRA out in the first place. Presumably every Doom’s a Doom, right? So, aren’t they all gypsies? I don’t know if that’s the right word on this world. But they’re an ethnic group that HYDRA doesn’t do kindly to, and so why was the Parliament just okay with giving them multiverse-spanning technology to screw over one guy? That’s always seemed like an overreaction to me.

    HYDRA used the Parliament’s technology, as well as technology they pillaged from other dimensions, to destroy Doomlord and invade Latveria. From there, they began deploying the Avengers as a forward vanguard on missions to other dimensions to scout out potential targets for invasions to broaden HYDRA’s rule. They have become inter-dimensional raiders, and are extremely technologically advanced as a result.

    Agent Childan: That’s how I ended up here. My team was checking this planet out, and we ran afoul of ARMOR and the Ultimates first and then Doctor Doom shortly thereafter. Didn’t go well for my guys. Worked out okay for me. The policy on this was always, if we didn’t come back, don’t send more guys. Always was the chance we’d bite off more than we can chew.

    Today, HYDRA claims to rule the entirety of Earth-108. Functionally speaking, there are vast areas of the world that are ungoverned anarchy and wilderness and wastelands from numerous wars and atrocities. There are also fiefdoms and puppet-states that HYDRA permits to exist quasi-independently, such as the Empire of Japan. There are also a handful of isolated micro-nations, such as still-hidden Wakanda or other places that are beyond our current intel since such information is, of course, coming from HYDRA sources.

    qlGmSdP.pngHYDRA-Earth Culture
    The culture of Earth-108 is very different from what you might be accustomed to. Over seventy years of being ruled by the HYDRA regime has led to entire generations growing up not knowing any world different from the one under HYDRA, and their worldview is the prevailing one.

    Language
    Nearly everyone on Earth-108 speaks German as at least a second-language, if not a first. It is taught in every school in every HYDRA-controlled part of the world, and is rigorously enforced. Television programs are broadcast in German, German music dominates pop culture, and so on. This is less a legacy of HYDRA’s Nazi roots and more a reality of their ruling elite still to this day being a close circle of individuals from German-speaking countries that consider their culture and language to be intrinsically superior.

    [/i]Agent Childan: Nobody’s ever asked, but my German is actually flawless because it’s my first language. I learned English in school. Learned seventeen other languages in school too, turns out that sort of thing comes in handy when you’re a global agent and someone who gets sent into alternate dimensions on the regular. Seriously though, if you go to this world and you don’t speak German? Get some of that fancy translator tech from SWORD or you’re going to have a bad time.[/i]

    Racism and Genetic Supremacy
    It is impossible to talk about Earth-108 without addressing the racism and racial inequalities of that Earth. In addition to the sort of racial discrimination and atrocities you might expect from a world ruled by a Nazi-originating fascist regime (laws against race-mixing, ethnic cleansing, apartheid and ghettos, etc.) there is a whole other element to the racism on Earth-108 that needs special attention.

    An individual’s social standing on HYDRA-Earth is defined in great part by their genetics. Being considered ‘well-bred’ is a social advantage, and HYDRA openly practices eugenics philosophies. Moreover, this is even starker when you consider that HYDRA tightly controls access to Terrigen Crystals, and chooses who and who does not undergo Terrigenesis. They have a systematic, global institution of testing, assessing and selecting people that is similar to the Genetics Council of Attilan but at a brutally worldwide scale.

    If a person is found to have the Inhuman Genome, and they are also otherwise considered to be ‘good stock’ (ie. the right race, the right political views, valued by HYDRA, and so on), they may find themselves eligible or called upon to undergo Terrigenesis, which happens at HYDRA’s tightly controlled Attilan base.

    [/i]Agent Childan: As you can imagine, I didn’t pass the sniff test here. Not a drop of Kree blood in my veins. This has always really sucked for me, it made advancing in the hierarchy really hard. You think you people have glass ceilings? Try one that is made of steel. I’ve persisted, though, and I thought of it as a great honor to be put on the Avengers, even if deep down I knew I was kind of a token ‘Untermensch’ to appease the proles, showing off the idea that anyone can be an Avenger if they work hard enough! Look at Clint, all he does is shoot arrows! Yeah, that’s all I do, I guess.[/i]

    Mutants, those who have a genetic capacity for extranormal powers that do not need to be activated by Terrigenesis, are broadly persecuted and hunted down by the state. While this might seem like an arbitrary form of genetic discrimination, its important to bear in mind that Terrigenesis is something HYDRA can tightly control and keep as a part of its genetic hegemony. Mutation is uncontrolled and individual by definition, and not something HYDRA permits.

    Freedom
    HYDRA-Earth is a global totalitarian state. Those who are part of the powerful hierarchy enjoy the benefits, and those who do not are oppressed. There are no freedoms of religion, expression, or speech. All non-HYDRA approved religions are banned and have been subjected to savage pogroms. Cultural works that do not conform to HYDRA ideals are censored or destroyed. History books are re-written to adhere to HYDRA’s narrative.

    This omnipresent and oppressive culture has been normalized for the lifetimes of generations, and so many people (especially young people) do not question it and are almost zealously loyal to the regime. This is not universally true, as evidenced by the existence of several resistance movements around the world, but it is important to keep in mind that your average person on Earth-108 does not view themselves as living under an oppressive state. Most people of this world have literally never known any other system or government, so this is their normal.

    [/i]Agent Childan: It’s not like we’re zombies, though. Even for me, take me out of that environment long enough, let me enjoy life outside that crazy place, and I start to see what’s wrong with it. But these people? They don’t get that. So keep that in mind when you’re dealing with them. They don’t know. They will rat you out to a HYDRA investigator in a heartbeat even if that same investigator would beat them for sedition later that week. They don’t know another world.[/i]

    Religion
    HYDRA does not permit basically any pre-existing global religion in most cases. In some regions, such as Imperial Japan, individuals are permitted to privately practice approved faiths like Shinto, but for the most part religions around the world have been stamped out.

    In their stead, HYDRA has replaced a veneration of heroes like Red Skull and Militant; the worship of Shuma-Gorath as a sort of overall eschatological god that will one day return and change the world into a new age; and a racially-oriented reverence for Asgard and Asgardian culture that is based around Nazi-originating notions of Nordic racial purity.

    [/i]Agent Childan: So, yeah, when I was a kid you said prayers to the Great One, the Elder God, he had a bunch of euphemisms. Shuma-Gorath. You asked him to clear away the challenges in front of you, wrap his tendrils around your obstacles and drag them into darkness, stuff like that. I wouldn’t have called myself a religious man. Sort of my world’s equivalent of a lapsed Catholic, I guess. Couple months ago, I shot Shuma-Gorath in the eye and killed him. Never meet your heroes still applies.[/i]

    Mind Control and Discipline
    According to our intelligence, HYDRA has spent a great deal of time and energy into making sure all of their high-ranking officials and agents are more or less immune to mind-control, telepathy, torture, brainwashing, and any other form of mental interference. The entire system is founded on loyalty to the regime, and would break down if a telepath or psychokinetic could simply will their way to the top.

    As a result, agents who are deployed to Earth-108 should not rely on telepathy or other powers to attempt to coerce enemy agents or gather information, since beyond a certain point in the chain of command they will likely be unsuccessful. This is one of many reasons our intelligence on this world is limited largely to what has been willfully volunteered by Agent Childan, what records we were able to pull from the HYDRA Avengers’ technology, and by laborious interviews with captured HYDRA personnel that we have been unable to psychologically break.

    Agent Childan: Yeah, so, about that. When you get high enough up in the food chain in HYDRA, you go through a process called ‘Reforging’. It’s like a form of mental training and discipline that hardens you and does all of the stuff above. It’s why Doom had to put a bomb in my head and killed all my friends. It’s why it’s always worth remembering that I live here and work for SHIELD by choice, not coercion. Your world, your agency, gave me a better life than I ever got on this Earth, so I flipped. Guys like Von Strucker? They didn’t get that deal.

    Reforging is really important to my world, you can imagine the damage one guy like Maximus could do if one day he just showed up and told the Red Skull he’s in charge now. So they got a lot of systems in place to make sure that never happens.

  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    qlGmSdP.pngHYDRA-Earth Politics
    Earth-108 is an absolute dictatorship, with one ruler on top who distributes power beneath him in a hierarchy, most of which is either based on region or area of expertise.

    This is not an exhaustive list of political figures of note on Earth-108, but the most important and relevant ones to an agent’s interests.

    Red Skull
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    Supreme Leader, HYDRA
    Real name:
    Johann Schmidt

    Red Skull’s origins on Earth-108 appear to be more or less the same as that of his Earth-1491 counterpart’s. Where they differ is instead of being physically destroyed in 1945 by Captain America, the Red Skull of Earth-108 led HYDRA to global victory and became the Earth’s ruler within a decade.

    When HYDRA dispensed with the Nazi Party, Red Skull killed Hitler personally and publicly, and declared the Nazi Party defunct and that HYDRA rules alone. He is loyal to none but himself, and appears to even be using Shuma-Gorath’s power purely to his own end.

    Agent Childan: I cannot overstate the cult of personality Red Skull has. It’s genuinely hard for me to speak ill of this man. You grow up and he’s your entire world. You don’t look at that red face on posters and billboards and TV shows and see fear, as a kid. You start to see it as familiar, comforting, like a father who is always there even if yours bailed.

    Viper
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    Commander of the Armed Forces
    Real name:
    Valentina Allegra de Fontaine

    Countess Valentina Allegra de Fontaine, also known as ‘Madame Hydra’, is the leader of HYDRA’s military and answers directly to Red Skull. She is known to be Red Skull’s current lover, although this is not formally acknowledged in public.

    Agent Childan: Red Skull has never married, but he’s taken a few women over the years as his lover. Never more than one at a time, he’s not a polygamist, and mostly he either outlives them or they outlive their usefulness or political standing. It’s never publicly talked about, but it’s never scandalized either. You don’t have tabloid gossip over the dictator of the planet.

    Baron Von Strucker
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    Director of the Avengers Initiative
    Real name:
    Wolfgang Von Strucker

    Baron Wolfgang Von Strucker is one of HYDRA’s originating founders, his life extended by bio-chemical means. Until the incursion into Earth-1491, he was the director of the HYDRA-Earth’s Avengers team and coordinated their efforts in the field. He was apprehended by the Ultimates during HYDRA’s incursion, and is now incarcerated in the Wonderland facility.

    Agent Childan: The Baron was kinda like Clay or Fury to me. Hell, he even has an eyepatch! But he wasn’t nearly so nice about it. He’s a ruthless bastard, and has a real skill for assessing an alternate Earth for its value to us, which is some cold math when you think about it. I don’t miss him.

    Arnim Zola
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    Scientist Supreme

    Dr. Arnim Zola is HYDRA’s greatest scientist, and was the primary architect behind integrating the Parliament’s technology and creating the multiversal travelling devices that HYDRA uses.

    Much like the Arnim Zola of Earth-1491, this Arnim Zola has transferred his consciousness into a digital state, and now resides inside a robotic construct.

    Agent Childan: Zola from my world is just as damn crazy as the one on yours. Some things are universal constants, it seems.

    Silver Samurai
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    Emperor of Japan
    Real name:
    Keniuchio Harada

    Emperor Keniuchio of Japan, known to the public in the West as the Silver Samurai, is essentially a puppet ruler under HYDRA. He is nominally in command of almost all of East Asia, but his authority is granted to him (and can be taken away) by HYDRA.

    He is a brilliant man, a master strategist who has navigated HYDRA’s political landscape to find his position, and also has designed and constructed a dangerous suit of power armor that he is usually seen in public wearing as both a way of protecting himself from assassins and as a public display of authority.

    Agent Childan: I met this guy once at a public political function after joining the Avengers. Intense, but respectful and polite. Deep down, he hates HYDRA, mostly because he hates being under HYDRA’s thumb, not because I think he’s a good person or anything.

    Black Spider
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    King of Wakanda
    Real name:
    S’Yan

    King S’Yan of Wakanda has ruled the quiet, secret nation for years now, and has used its resources and technology to help supply and organize a global resistance effort against HYDRA. He is one of the most wanted men on the planet, which would be reason enough to never leave Wakanda. Yet, he sometimes dons the Black Spider armor and leaves the kingdom to go on missions of support and to help inspire resistance fighters to continue.

    Agent Childan: Never had the pleasure of running into this guy. That’s probably why I’m alive to write this, he generally doesn’t leave his enemies breathing, and quite frankly, neither do I, so it would’ve ended up badly for one of us.

    qlGmSdP.pngHYDRA-Earth Threat Index
    Earth-108 has its own specific threats that are unique and bear nothing in particular, and some of them that we have reliable intel on are listed below.

    The Thunderbolts
    Earth-108 has its own version of the Thunderbolts, and similar to Earth-1491’s they are a government-sponsored extranormal tactical team designed to respond to and police threats to the state. However, because the government in this case is the totalitarian HYDRA regime, the Thunderbolts of Earth-108 are even more heinous than their Earth-1491 counterparts.

    With Earth-108’s Avengers having been defeated during their failed incursion, the Thunderbolts are the most dangerous threat on Earth-108 to be aware of.

    Sin
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    Field Commander, Thunderbolts
    Real name:
    Sinthea Schmidt
    Known extranormal abilities: Superhuman physical capabilities on par with Captain America or Red Skull.

    Sinthea Schmidt is the daughter of the Red Skull. She is the leader of the Thunderbolts and is a vicious sadist who is feared by even the most loyal among the HYDRA regime. She is an Inhuman, like her father, and underwent Terrigenesis, emerging as a super-soldier and without the grotesque facial scarring her father experienced. Whether her violent psychopathy is a result of the Terrigenesis or some other factor is unknown.

    Agent Childan: Sin is ten dollars of crazy with a generous tip. This doesn’t get written down in anything official, but she’s also sexually aggressive as hell and uses it to make people uncomfortable and assert dominance. She does this to men and women, despite that being…really bad for anyone else on my world. But, y’know, she’s Red Skull’s daughter, so she could probably do anything and it wouldn’t matter.

    So far as I know, Red Skull never had a daughter on your world. Count yourself lucky.


    Yellowjacket
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    Real name: Henry Pym

    Known extranormal abilities: None personally, but Hank Pym is a genius and has mastered technology related to size-altering ‘Pym Particles’, and has built exoskeletal armor that integrates that technology.

    Dr. Henry Pym is one of HYDRA’s chief technologists, and works as the Thunderbolts’ quartermaster as well as one of their field agents. The Henry Pym of Earth-108 is even more morally bankrupt than the one of Earth-1491, and ultimately pursues science as a goal to its own ends. He is a calm, calculating man who is ruthlessly efficient and helps serve as a cool tactical head to Sin’s psychotic rampages.

    Agent Childan: Hank is terrifying. I’ve never met the Henry Pym of your Earth, apparently he’s a real piece of work, but the Hank from mine? Damn. At least Zola has a personality. Talking to Pym is like talking to some kind of alien predator who is sizing you up on how it’s going to pull you apart and eat you. Guy’s getting on in years, but his suit of armor makes up for it.

    Bullseye
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    Real name: Matthew Murdock
    Known extranormal abilities: Murdock has superhuman senses and unerring accuracy, with one exception: he is completely blind. However, his other senses are so advanced that he is more than capable of compensating. He’s learned how to use the combination of sense data from his other senses to perfectly locate other targets and strike with deadly precision.

    Matthew Murdock is HYDRA’s deadliest assassin. Blinded at a young age, he was to be moved to a death camp to be processed with other physically disabled children. However, because he had sufficient genetic lineage to warrant an attempt at Terrigenesis, he was transported to Attilan and permitted to become Inhuman. Terrigenesis did not restore his sight, but it did enhance his other senses to the point that it no longer mattered. He was permitted to live so long as he served the regime directly, and was trained to kill.
    The Thunderbolts often use him as an advance scout and sniper, slipping in and taking out vital targets without being noticed.

    Agent Childan: Matt and I are good friends. Or were good friends, I guess. I don’t imagine he’d like my change of heart very much, at least at first. But I think deep down he’s not very much different from me. He’s a guy who got dealt a bad hand and was part of an awful system, but if he got taken out of that system and shown some other way to be, maybe he could be something else? I dunno. I’m saying maybe we don’t grease this guy if we see him, he might be a potential asset.

    Scarlet Witch
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    Real name: Wanda Maximoff
    Known extranormal abilities: Seemingly identical to the Wanda Maximoff of Earth-1491.

    We know very little about the Wanda Maximoff of Earth-108, because her file is heavily redacted from all the sources available to us. From a speculative point of view, it is curious to note that on Earth-1491 at least, Maximoff is of mixed Romani-Jewish heritage, two ethnic groups that HYDRA has aggressively committed genocide against, so she should doubly not be permitted to exist.

    However, she is still extremely powerful and dangerous, as much so as the Wanda Maximoff of our world, and should be treated as such.

    Agent Childan: I don’t know a whole lot about Wanda. She did have a brother, Pietro, just like she does on your world, but I don’t know what happened to him. Learning that she is a Jew and a gypsy was a shocker to me, because that sure isn’t a thing that gets talked about on my world. Truth is, HYDRA is full of hypocrites. Sin’s some pansexual psycho dominatrix despite the fact that there’s laws against gender treachery. Zola’s got Jewish ancestry. All of these guys talk a good game until someone is useful to them, and that stops when they’re not.

    Virtue
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    Real name: Ethan Edwards
    Known extranormal abilities: Superhuman strength, speed, endurance. Flight, near invulnerability, can project blasts of heated energy from his eyes, and other powers. Similar to the powers of Earth-1491’s Hyperion.

    Virtue is seemingly the most powerful being on Earth-108, and is fervently loyal to HYDRA in general and to Red Skull in particular. He is the Thunderbolts’ secret weapon, the one they don’t usually deploy unless they need to, and not a being that HYDRA advertises to the public a great deal. Instead, HYDRA prefers to center their personality cult around Red Skull as leader and Militant as public hero, so Virtue is largely kept as a background threat to deal with serious problems.

    Our intelligence isn’t clear on Virtue’s origins, as it is a deeply held secret within HYDRA. The name ‘Ethan Edwards’ is likely a cover alias. It is entirely possible that he is Earth-108’s version of Hyperion, which if true, is deeply troubling.

    Agent Childan: Never met this guy. From all accounts, he sure does sound like our version of Hyperion. If he is? I don’t know man. I’ve seen Hyperion in action. A guy like that, raised on my world and in our system, brought up to idolize HYDRA and everything that means? That’s no good.

    PHU1KZN.png
    Once again, another parallel world with enough plot hooks that you could set a whole game here. Although I’m not sure I’d want to. There’s an art to doing Nazi stories that walk the fine line of acknowledging how truly horrible they actually were without the grimness overpowering everything else. Do we walk that line here? I’ll let you be the judge.

    Matev
  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    wdvRrQ1h.jpg

    Partway through the flight, Bob turns to the team, "So, a few things. First of all, over there, I'm no longer Robert Childan."

    Miles nods.

    "Robert Childan is the name of a fictional character, from a novel, that exists in both our universes? I was being kinda cheeky when I used it."

    "...I knew that," Elise mutters.

    "My name is Clint Barton. My code-name is Falkenauge... Hawkeye. You know that, but it's worth remembering when we go over there.

    "Now, I've had surgery to change my face. Clay and I talked about me wearing a MASC to look more...Clint, but then there's a risk that HYDRA gets MASC technology, so fuck that.

    "I'll just explain to HYDRA that I had, y'know, surgery to hide my face because there's a Clint Barton in this universe because he's a piece of shit who hates HYDRA. Tainted truths and all that. They'll run my blood, scan me with some devices, they'll confirm my identity that I'm the Clint Barton from Earth-108. Nobody will question my loyalty because...mind control isn't really like, a thing, on my world. I can't be mind-controlled.

    "I'm pretty much immune to telepathy. Clay gave it a shot one time without telling me when I started dating Faiza and he god damn near had a stroke."

    "Should I wear a MASC?" Elise asks.

    "No, for the same reason," he says. "Also don't stress about your hair, Red Skull's daughter has her hair dyed like fire-engine red."

    "Yeah, but she breaks all the rules, so who fuckin' knows." Elise gestures at the file on her lap.

    "There's rules that apply to normal people, and then there's rules for the elite," Bob explains. "You will be guests, so as long as you don't mention being gay or going tongue-deep on any hot chicks you should be fine." Ryann grimaces at that last.

    "Well, there go half of my conversational gambits," Miles deadpans.

    "I make so many sacrifices for this team,” Elise protests. “I just spent two months with my hot princess wife after literally saving the world. Do you know how hot 'i thought you died while saving the world' sex is?!" Miles and Ryann nod contentedly; they do.

    "Also,” Bob adds, “if you do encounter Sin, she loves to play gay chicken with female agents. Don't step to that. She'll play to win, and you'll lose.

    "Also, obviously, Ryann, don't mention being an alien. Michael, maybe stay mum on being Asgardian unless you want people fawning over you. I dunno, you can play your cards close to the chest on that one."

    Michael nods. "Yeah, don't want to play the Ubermensch Card unless it's necessary."

    Bob turns to Machine Man. "Miles, we don't...we don't have synthezoids on this world. Like, there was Human Torch back in the 40s but shit went bad for him. There's some robots but they don't got rights, so, yeah, keep that under the hat.”

    "There's also 'you just dyed your hair for me' sex -" Elise is ticking off her fingers. "We just got drunk and went to the moon opera sex, I can't believe we have a kid together sex, I'm sorry that my distant relative made fun of you at that gala sex..."

    "I'm not worried about running into my double at all,” Ryann says. “Do we know the odds on that for everyone else?”

    "It's already happened once for me, so I should be in the clear," Miles observes. "I don't care if that's not how statistics work, X-51."

    "I mean, have you ever slept on a bed literally built for royalty? You ever fuck on a bed literally built for royalty? I mean, all I'm saying is, I am braver than any US Marine for not bringing this up constantly."

    Bob is trying really hard not to fixate on Elise's sex talk and answer Ryann's question, "Uh, like almost none? I was a senior agent in HYDRA, if you guys exist at all, you're nobodies. Like, if Elise-108 is also a lesbian, to be honest she probably got a train ride."

    Elise grimaces. "Can you fuckin' not."

    Bob looks at her. "So, hey, that brings up the other thing.

    “You're gonna...see some shit."

    "Like, it's all in the report me and Erik wrote but," Bob takes a deep breath, "to underline...my world ain't yours."

    Miles nods grimly at this, suddenly sobered.

    "And what I don't want is...you guys looking at me a lot and being like, Bob what the fuck. Like, I know, okay. I'm not going to make apologies for the Earth I grew up in, like...I am a product of my environment, you know? Not everyone there is. Sin fuckin isn't! She's a fuckin' psycho!

    "But lots of people they're just...part of a machine, you know? A machine that existed before their parents were even born."

    "I'm going to follow orders and I'm not going to start any shit, but I'm not going to parrot any of this gender treachery shit either." Elise folds her arms. "I'm going to stuff myself in the closet for this mission and that's all you'll get from me."

    "Yeah. Like, we'll play nice and do what we've got to do. We won't fuck around," Julian agrees.

    "I've seen horrible planets before and I've gone undercover in those places too,” Ryann declares. “If it's too much, just keep your head down and stick to the mission."

    Julian turns to Elise and speaks quietly. "But we'll come as the Rebels at some point. I'll be practicing my keytar, you better believe."

    Bob nods. "I'm not saying you gotta night-stick a minority to fit in or whatever. I'm just saying, keep the shocked and horrified faces in check. And...like...a lot of the guys we might encounter are my friends and you're gonna see me bro out and they're going to say some shit and I'm gonna nod and be like 'cool man, yeah, hail HYDRA' and like...don't judge."

    "We can play our roles, man,” Michael says. “We know that you're more that what your Earth is. You've proven yourself to me, at least."

    Elise nods at Bob in agreement with Michael. "You're my brother, dumb dumb, I'm not gonna judge you."

    Bob nods. "Good."

    "We know you're a good guy, man,” Miles says. “And you'll have to trust me when I say this isn't our first rodeo. Even if we, you know, come off that way sometimes."

    Michael chuckles. "Don't look at me, I'm professional as shit."

    "I feel like one rodeo still isn't very many," Elise says. "Or like, even two or three rodeos."

    Miles shrugs. "We've done some pretty big rodeos."

    Matev
  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    edited September 8
    The Omnijet continues on its way, and the team feels it decelerate and sees a glacier outside the window.

    vdqgdPJh.jpg

    The Omnijet circles around, and comes to land at a concealed base on the glacier itself.

    Ap0GA9Ch.png

    The Omnijet lands, and the team disembarks. ARMOR personnel are there to greet them. Among them stands ARMOR Agent Erik Josten.

    X2z4DtDl.png

    "We've got gear for you. HYDRA-1491 uniforms and equipment."

    Elise grimaces and wrinkles her nose, but suits up. She pockets the translator. She'll equip it later! Her COMMS German is fine. It's fine! Michael suits up, not needing the translator due to his Allspeak.

    Miles grabs a translator and the uniform. "By the way, guys. This is important. ....My HYDRA name is Cobra Commander."

    "You are such a fuckin' dork," Elise scoffs. "...What's mine?"

    "You're the Baroness, obviously."

    Elise likes the sound of that. "Hell yeah."

    "Then I'm Destro," Michael adds.

    "Whatcha got for me?" Julian raises a hand.

    Miles points. "Julian, you can be Dr. Mindbender."

    Julian grabs a translator and a set of HYDRA gear. "Oh ja, Herr Mason. Wunderbar!"

    Ryann squints. "I'm not getting it."

    Bob nods. "I'm not either. They're referencing a thing that doesn't exist on my world, I think."

    "It's…” Miles tries to explain. “There's these toys from when I was a kid...look, it's an important cultural touchstone." He finger-guns at Ryann. "And you're Zartan. Just roll with it."

    Ryann shrugs. "Alright."

    PHU1KZN.png
    The Cobra thing is a running joke; Miles posed as Cobra Commander, agent of HYDRA, when he entered Vlad’s mind-prison for Arnim Zola back in season 1. And, as I believe I mentioned in that commentary, I also enjoy the goof because Cobra began life as HYDRA, when GI Joe was originally writer Larry Hama’s pitch for a SHIELD comic.

    The team gears up in their HYDRA uniforms.

    1346smKl.jpg

    Elise feels a weird sense of...familiarity as she looks at the team in HYDRA gear. Like deja vu. She shakes her head.

    After the team suits up, Agent Josten leads them to a second landing pad, where the Crusader is parked.

    tmQ6wXth.jpg

    Miles whistles. "I'm not sure what I was expecting, but it wasn't that."

    They load up, and Bob calls out to the ship in German, which the team can either understand or translate by now. "Activate all systems, and ready to travel to home coordinates. Authorization Agent Clint Barton, codename Hawkeye."

    The ship responds, and begins to activate. It lifts off the landing pad, and turns to the open sky. A portal begins to open, and Clint looks back to the team and says in German, "This part always sucks."

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



    The team travels through the portal. It feels...different than other extra-dimensional portals they've traveled through. Barely any sensation at all (for everyone but Elise, who feels every part of it and hates it).

    But overall, traveling by ship is distinctly more pleasant than jumping through personally. Even Elise is managing not to vomit.

    They come out the other side, to a skyline that is both familiar and...immediately unrecognizable.

    XqAfKJSh.png

    Clint explains to the team, "We're...we're good at infrastructure. The trains run on time, regardless of what kind of trains they are. Those arcologies are extremely…efficient."

    The Baroness makes a noise that's half grunt of acknowledgement, half growl of irritation.

    Cobra Commander squints out the portholes, recording everything. X-51, pull down all the wireless traffic you can get passively. Let's bring back as much hard intel as we can.

    Doing so. Much of the wireless traffic's encryption is...crude. It appears the totalitarian state does not consider much in the way of foreign state intelligence intrusion. Likely because there is little in the way of foreign states.

    The comms of the Crusader light up. "HGLX-88 Crusader, respond immediately or be destroyed!" a voice barks.

    Clint responds "This is Agent Clint Barton, acting Commandant of the Crusader. I am transmitting confirmation codes."

    The Baroness blinks. Everyone's speaking English. Wait. No. They're not. They're speaking German, but it's crystal clear to her, even without the translator equipped. What.

    After a few seconds, the voice on the comms returns, "Hawkeye, you are to proceed offshore and dock with the Terror-Carrier immediately for debrief by Viper."

    "Acknowledged." Clint replies.

    "'Terror-Carrier'?" Miles mouths to the team.

    Destro shrugs and mouths "HYDRA."

    Dr. Mindbender mouths back. "Holy shit."

    The Crusader changes course, and heads towards the ocean. After a few minutes, the team can see on the main screen what they are flying towards.

    TZjw3K1h.png

    "Yyyyep," Miles nods grimly.

    The Crusader lands on the Terror-Carrier, and Clint looks at the team. "Alright, let me do a lot of the talking. We're going to be debriefed by Viper, and she's in charge of the entire HYDRA military and is second-in-command to Red Skull himself. Once we get off this ship, assume every place we go is under some kind of surveillance unless I tell you otherwise."

    Michael nods. "Should we 'Hail HYDRA', if someone else does first?" Clint nods at this.

    "Julian, set up a conference call if we need to talk in secrecy, then,” Miles says, then turns to Clint. “That should be fine, right?"

    "Yeah, should be fine, we don't have telepaths. We...make sure telepaths aren't a thing."

    Dr. Mindbender grimaces, nods and sets up the link.

    Yeah, Miles thinks to Julian. Probably stick to maintaining our link on this and not bothering with anything else. If things go south, think of ways to use your TK.

    Matev
  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    edited September 8
    "Alright, we've landed. We need to disembark," Clint says, leading them down the ramp onto the Terror-Carrier. In a way, it feels at first like landing on the Helicarrier, but...everything is upside down and HYDRA.

    A group of HYDRA soldiers arrive, look at the group, and salute Clint, who salutes back. They lead the team into the Terror-Carrier, and into an office.

    This is weird, Elise thinks over the link. I'm getting this weird like, shadow of deja vu about little things.

    Viper awaits them in the office. "Agent Barton. I see you brought guests.” She looks the team over. “Who are these people?"

    Clint gestures to the team. "Destro, Baroness, Zartan, Dr. Mindbender, and their leader, Cobra Commander. They are members of HYDRA from the Earth that I just came back from, they helped me return."

    She squints. "Where is the rest of the Avengers, Barton? Where is Von Strucker?"

    "...dead," he says.

    Viper is taken aback.

    "Their Earth is...different from our own. Significantly. On their world, Steve Rogers never became Militant. He became Captain America, and destroyed Red Skull. The Nazis, and HYDRA, lost World War II. The Americans and the Russians greedily carved the Fatherland apart. Their HYDRA is a noble resistance group, putting up the fight against an oppressive American-led global world order called SHIELD.

    "The Crusader was attacked by SHIELD when we first arrived. We were overwhelmed. The Avengers had to abandon ship, only to be attacked by their Victor Von Doom, who is just as formidable a foe as he was on our world. He...he killed Militant, Viper."

    Clint clenches his fist and attempts to steel himself. Elise can tell this is genuinely emotionally upsetting for him to talk about. "Doom made me watch. The Doom of their world is a savage, a cruel monster."

    Viper is aghast.

    Clint continues. "I alone survived, I believe. It's...it's possible Von Strucker survived, but if so, he is captured by SHIELD.

    "These individuals, they helped me escape, helped repair the Crusader. Unfortunately, the Crusader's main computer is damaged, and the records of their Earth's designation is lost. The trip was one way. These noble HYDRA agents, they knew. They knew, and came anyway."

    "There was no other choice for us," the Baroness says grimly.

    Viper walks over to Elise and puts her hand on her shoulder, "HYDRA thanks you for your sacrifice, Baroness. Know that on this world, you may find a better home."

    The Baroness nods. "It's no easy thing, to leave a child behind...but victory must be pursued at all costs." Elise's German is flawless. The translator remains, unused, in her pocket.

    Viper...hugs Elise? "How horrific, from one mother to another, I understand."

    Elise frowns. Oh, fuck, I acted too good. God damnit.

    Cobra Commander puts a hand on Elise's shoulder. "Someday we will return, Baroness. And our revenge will be great. I swear it."

    Viper looks at Clint. "Barton, I will see that your comrades are situated, and find quarters for them."

    "Hail HYDRA!" Zartan cries out of nowhere, but the others quickly join in. "Hail HYDRA!"

    Gross. Gross. Gross. Gross, Elise thinks. I just wanna... scrub my skin off with steel wool. Ugh.

    Viper nods. "In the meantime, I want you to go get checked out by medical, Barton. Your voice sounds...odd. Scans confirmed it was you when it entered, but..."

    "About that..." This entire time, Clint's been wearing a conventional mask over his face. "I needed to undergo surgery to conceal myself on their world. They also have a Clint Barton, and he is a member of their SHIELD and a colleague of their 'Captain America.'" He pulls off his mask.

    Baroness clenches her fist. "Our damnable Clint Barton. If only he was a fraction of this world's Hawkeye."

    Viper cradles Clint's chin, and squints at him. "Hm. Sinthea may or may not be disappointed. The surgeons on their world did a decent job, Clinton," she says with a smile.

    Clint grimaces. "Is...she here?"

    Viper nods. "I can call her up, if you'd like?"

    Elise frowns harder. No. No. No. Bob, do not bring the aggressive lesbian flirt up here while I am crushed in an iron closet.

    Clint shakes his head. "No. I...I should see the doctor first. It's been...months. I need time to be home."

    Viper nods at this, then regards the rest of the team. "I will have someone lead you to some quarters, make yourself comfortable. They will ask for your names, so they might cross-reference if there are any...doppelgangers of you on this world. Do not fear, you will not be judged by their conduct, if they are some manner of enemy of the state or some such. After all, on your world, Steve Rogers and Clint Barton are horrid people, apparently."

    The Baroness nods numbly. Can't wait to find out what happened to Elise on this world. Elises have such a good track record. Killed in the Age of Inhumans, killed on Skrull Earth, killed by Vlad, got trained here probably…

    Jacobkosh on
    Matev
  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    edited September 8
    HYDRA soldiers lead the team off to some guest quarters on the Terror-Carrier. They're fairly swank officer's quarters, with a nice common area. Clint, meanwhile, leaves with Viper.

    "I know we've all been through a lot, and these changes are difficult to process," Cobra Commander tells his loyal underlings, "but we should try to relax for the time being and appreciate this wondrous new world while our friend Clint sorts things out." Stay in character, folks. This is a happy occasion for 'us.'

    I'm in character! I just hailed HYDRA! Elise thinks. I'm in character, chief, get off my nuts!

    The door to the common area opens. Bullseye walks in.

    "I'm Agent Murdock from the Thunderbolts."

    Miles nods and offers a hand. "Captain Mason of STRIKE," he says. "Oh, uh...do you shake hands here?"

    Matt Murdock nods, and extends his hand; Miles shakes it.

    "I'm here to interview you,” Bullseye explains. “Please, individually, state your code-names and your real names. We need to cross-reference who you are for any known potential doppelgangers. Please be honest, remember that nobody will hold you to account for any conduct of your doppelganger on this world."

    Sweat beads on the back of Elise's neck. "Elise Arnell. I am the Baroness of STRIKE."

    "Michael Westin, code name Destro."

    "A pleasure. Agent Julian Adler, AKA Doktor Mindbender."

    "Miles Mason, Cobra Commander."

    "Agent Ryan Valt, code name Zartan."

    Bullseye nods. "Thank you for your honesty. Have a good day. Agent Barton will be along shortly." He turns and leaves.

    Elise breathes a sigh of relief. Oh, nice, he didn't react. Like he wasn't like, oh, you mean like Elise Arnell, the infamous Sex Rebel?

    If we do find this world's Elise, we ought to recruit her into the band if she's cool,
    Julian thinks. What greater act of sex rebellion could one participate in beyond sex with oneself?

    Uh, yes, obviously? Glad to hear you're on board. Sub-mission B is go: Find and rescue Elise Arnell #2,
    she replies.

    I don't think that'd be a good idea, for any of our doppelgangers, Michael thinks.

    A few minutes later, Clint returns. "Well, good news, folks! None of you are horrible enemies of the state!"

    Elise sighs. Kind of disappointed in Alt-Elise.

    Miles nods. "That's good news? ...They totally would have held it against us, wouldn't they."

    "Probably," Clint nods. "Michael and Julian's alts actually work for HYDRA." Julian groans.

    "Michael is some guy who works at a base in Washington, and Julian is an engineer who works at the Attilan base."

    Elise punches Julian's arm. "Hey!" Julian cries.

    "Mason is some mercenary who bushwhacks in south-east Asia for the Empire."

    Miles grimaces. "Sounds about right."

    "Probably smokes a lot of opium," Clint adds.

    "Nice,” Miles nods.

    "Ryan doesn't exist, but they just kinda assume that means he was never born."

    "Wow," Ryann nods.

    "And Elise qualified for Terrigenesis. She went up for it, and it, uh...went sour for her. All her senses were so much she like, couldn't function without a suit on. HYDRA tried to get her working for the state but she just sorta fell off the radar somewhere. Official view is she probably killed herself, which is what happens to most Inhumans who have a bad Terrigenesis. Suicide rate among those who it goes bad for is pretty high."

    "Ooof," Miles winces.

    "Wow. So fun," Elise says. "I am already loving this field trip."

    Michael frowns. Why is my alt always some low-level functionary?

    The door of the quarters' common area snaps open.

    Jacobkosh on
    Matev
  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    Sin walks in. "Clinton?"

    Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit, Elise’s thoughts come in a flood. She's hot.

    Clint's entire body language snaps into tension. "H-hey, Sin..." he says, nervously. Elise can tell he’s terrified.

    Sin walks over to Clint and looks at him, smiling. She's trying to smile warmly, like with affection, but she's not smiling with her eyes so she just looks like a cat looking at a mouse. "You did not come see me, Clinton. I had to hear you are back from Murdock. Why?"

    "O-oh, well...I had to be debriefed, and...then there was these people I brought from the alternate universe, and debriefing them, and medical wanted to see me because of the face and..."

    "Mhm...yes...I like the new face..." She leans over and runs her tongue across Clint's cheek. She runs her hands over his shoulders, and smiles. Clint is completely motionless, his body stiff.

    Miles decides to draw some fire. He clears his throat. "I'm afraid we haven't had the pleasure, Miss - ?"

    "Schmidt. Sinthea Schmidt." She turns and looks at Miles. "Take off your helmet."

    "One moment." He takes off his helmet.

    "Goodness. Clinton, is this simply the norm for this parallel universe? Are they all like this?” She licks her lips. "You there, woman. Off."

    Elise looks left and looks right for a moment. "Oh! Me? Yes, uh..." She takes off her helmet and gives a lopsided, nervous smile. Shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit -

    Sin squeals and has a huge grin. She walks over to Elise and curls her purple hair around her finger. "What fun!"

    "Uh, yes, hello, I'm glad you like the hair, m-my name is Elise Baroness and my code name is Arnell and -"

    "She means Baroness. ma'am," Ryann breaks in. "We've been through a lot."

    Julian looks at Michael and Ryann before looking back at Elise and Sin. Shit, who's she going after next?

    Sin hooks her finger around Elise's belt buckle, "Is this dye or is all of you like this?"

    Breathe, Elise. Elise turns pink. "It's, it's uh, it's dye."

    Sin clucks her tongue, sounding disappointed. "So is mine, sadly."

    "It's very vivid! It's...good. Good dye!"

    Clint clears his throat. "Erm, Sin, we...Viper gave us a mission. I need to brief the squad, if you will permit me."

    Miles draws himself up to his full height. "Indeed. There is much to discuss." He tries to sound as supercilious and impatient as possible.

    Sin sighs performatively, "Clinton, you're always so serious when you're not tied up. You will come see me before you leave for your mission."

    Clint stammers, "Y-yes, Sin, if there's time, I..."

    "You will," she repeats.

    "Yes."

    Elise gently reaches down and tries to disentangle Sin's hand from her belt. "Yes, well! Mission! Lovely. Lovely to meet you. Or, good. Professional to meet you. I -"

    Sin does a little wave. "You will also bring the Baroness." Clint gulps. "This, I command." She giggles and walks out the door.

    The door closes and Clint lets out a deep breath. "Fuck, I'm so sorry, guys."

    "It's cool." Elise squeaks, as she pulls her helmet back on. The conference call gets a strong surge of emotion from her connection to the line—embarrassment, fear, intrigue, giggliness, horror, guilt.

    "That was something,” Ryann mutters.

    PHU1KZN.png
    Sexual menace is one of the most common elements in the Nazi-themed pulp adventures that flourished after the war, transformed from real-life sexually dysfunctional fascists into symbols of desirable-yet-repellent licentious European decadence in a way calculated to appeal to Americans who wanted to feel horny but also to feel guilty about feeling horny.

    Those magazines were big in the 50s and 60s, but Sin, created in 1984, was definitely born in that spirit. Her original villainous nom de guerre was “Mother Superior,” which of course added some fetishistic Catholicism to the stew before she changed her name and went for the more traditional red leather lingerie in later appearances. Her characterization here is maybe like .0001% more explicit than in the source material but not wildly different.

    Matev
  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    "Our time here is going to be interesting one way or another,” Julian agrees. “Good lord."

    "We're alive and nothing actually bad happened," Miles says. "Let's call that a W and focus on what comes next."

    Michael nods. "It's cool, just as long as she doesn't invite us to the company orgy or something." Elise gives a long, nervous giggle at this.

    Clint does a little clap, "Okay, so.

    "I asked about getting access to the portal technology to, y'know, get you guys home. Obviously, Dr. Mindbender, being an expert physicist and scientist, will need to study that technology extensively. So you'd need direct access to it, right?"

    Julian nods. "Absolutely."

    "Viper agreed, but there's one hitch. The best person to talk to about that stuff, the person who knows the most, is Arnim Zola.” Clint frowns. "And Zola has been captured. By the Resistance.

    "So we need to...rescue Zola."

    "Oh my god," Miles says. "Why does this keep happening to me."

    "...I had better get so many coupons," Elise says. "Just, coupons. For days."

    "You're a princess," Miles hisses. "Expecting free stuff is problematic."

    "Yeah, I am a princess, so maybe let's hear a little less sass and a little more gosh, thank you, Elise, for coming to hellworld."

    "Hey," Clint holds up an urgent hand. "...remember uh. Where we are. And that this is a briefing. On the Terror-Carrier." He pulls out a portable holographic projector, and calls up a map. "So, fortunately, we know more or less who took him, and generally where they are."

    "What are we looking at?" Miles begins studying the map.

    "He's been captured by the Resistance's elite extranormal terrorist squad, a half-dozen individuals that we call the 'Sinister Six.' We don't know all of their real identities, but we do know their Resistance code-names: Shocker, Prowler, Vulture, Mysterio, Black Cat, and their leader, Doctor Octopus. Doc Ock, he's the one guy we have real intel on."

    Elise snickers loudly and holds up a hand with her ring finger curled in. "Shocker?" Miles snickers softly at this. Who, indeed, names themselves the Shocker?

    Clint stoically continues. "Doctor Otto Octavius. Was an engineer who used to work for HYDRA back in the day, quit out of the blue and joined the Resistance, now works as an arms-supplier for them, made the tech that most of the rest of the Six uses.

    "We don't know exactly where their base is, but we know it's in the tunnels below New York. The Thunderbolts have been trying to find these guys for months, they were on this track before I left, but I suggested to Viper that we'd have a better crack at it. So, that's our mission."

    "Seriously though, does Shocker mean the same thing on this world?" Elise asks.

    "No."

    "I'm pretty sure it would entail... treachery, or rebellion of some kind." Julian taps his nose at Elise.

    "The tunnels below New York..." Miles looks at the team. "Anyone else thinking what I'm thinking?"

    Julian laughs. "The Crypt?"

    "Bingo,” Miles points at Julian.

    "...Well. We should get to work, then." Elise sighs.

    "We really should. In fact, we need to leave, immediately. On the next jet out," Clint agrees. "Right now."

    "Yeah, before... Uh," Elise says, remembering Sin’s demands. "Which would be terrible."

    "Yes," Clint nods.

    "Sounds good,” Miles nods, chivvying everyone toward the door. “Let's roll out."

    "Just the worst," Elise continues.

    "Yes," Clint agrees again. "Did you know on this world we blew up the Eiffel Tower? Anyway. We need to leave."

    The team heads to the Terror-Carrier’s hangar. They board a HYDRA Quinjet, which looks almost exactly like a SHIELD Quinjet but slightly different in innumerable little technical and shape details, and ride it down to the surface of New York.

    "So, you guys have an idea on where we're going, right?" Clint asks.

    Michael nods. "Been a while.”

    "It's an old SSR base," Miles says. "So it's old enough it probably still exists here."

    "...huh," Clint says.

    "And we've seen it used in other realities, so....I don't know,” Miles shrugs. “It just feels right that they'd be using it."

    Matev
  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    The Quinjet lands, and the team proceeds down into the sewers.

    Nv29T5Gh.jpg?1

    Elise holds up a hand to the team, lifts her head, and takes a deep breath.

    She catches a whiff of...something above the sewer smell. Something familiar, but also alien. Something that smells like...home. The Crypt was home to Elise for nearly two years before she transferred to STRIKE. She knows the way. She has the scent.

    Miles puts a hand to his ear. X-51, we're about to screw over this world's good guys. And we're not supposed to be helping, but I feel pretty shitty about causing harm. So I'd like you to put together a quick care package of scientific data, tactics, whatever, that we can slip to this Octavius guy. Something to make up for spiriting Zola away.

    Composing, Miles.


    "Follow me,” Elise beckons. "You know what's weird? It's like...I lived in the Crypt for over a year, right? So it's got the smell. But it's...different, too. Different world. No owl shit, for instance." She leads the way, keeping her nose up to the air, sniffing for additional clues as they get closer to their goal.

    As they travel, Miles fills Clint in on his idea. "I'd like to get out of this without bloodshed if we can possibly avoid it."

    "I wonder how HYDRA would handle Jeremiah here, huh Elise?" Julian teases.

    But she’s not entirely listening, because as she moves through the tunnels, things seem...off. The way is wrong. The tunnels are different. But not just like, a different world, with different systems. They're wrong. Something is wrong.

    She holds up a hand again to call for a halt. "Something's not right. Hang on..." She lifts her collar and fiddles with something on her harness. After a moment, she disappears from view. "Stealth tech," the voice of Elise explains from seemingly nowhere. "Doom added it to my harness."

    Miles’ mind races. "Wait. Elise, try to...see if this is an illusion. I'm thinking if things seem off, it might be Mysterio."

    Elise tilts her head and sniffs again, peering into the gloom. "Let me see what I can sense..."

    There are holograms, leading them out of the way. Sophisticated ones, too, almost as good as Doom's technology. "Huh. You're right. Holograms."

    Elise feels something swiping at her, and instinctively dodges. "What the shit!" She's stealthed. How did they see her?!

    Something's out there and took a swing at her. The attack was extremely fast; nobody saw it but her. And she barely saw it.

    "Where are you, you fuckin' coward?" she cries, but the tunnel is cloaked in darkness. Not just a simple lack of light, but like light is being actively drained from the area. The darkness is oppressive.

    Elise looks for the rest of the team. Everyone is having a hard time seeing in it, even with lights on their suits. Elise can see through it, but only dimly. "We have company!" she cries.

    Michael takes up a defensive stance, his palm glowing with energy.

    "Defensive postures!" Miles tries to project his voice outward. "DOCTOR OCTAVIUS! WE'RE HERE TO HELP!"

    But it’s already begun, and something is rushing Elise. She has to move quickly to dodge, something she wouldn't normally have to do. Jumping back, she's able to swiftly dodge bladed claw swipes from glowing claws in the dark, as a hooded figure in a visor stares at her from the shadows.

    yMpshv5l.jpg



    The figure starts leaping and pouncing at her, swinging at her like an animal. They're fast. Fast and accurate. Elise is having an extremely difficult time dodging this person in a way she never has before in melee combat.

    Matev
  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    "Fuck! Fuck!" Elise is flipping and dodging, then charges her harness to propel herself forward. She doesn't have an ICER, but if she shoulderchecks this guy right under the chin...

    The Prowler dodges with a backflip, and sweeps Elise's legs out from under her, causing her to land on her back. It's like she's fighting air. She's fought Dark Elves with less difficulty.

    Meanwhile, two concussive blasts explode at Ryann; he’s able to dodge one, but not both. He flashes like a star, bright in the oppressive gloom. "Argh!"

    6XYficel.jpg

    "Whoa!" Julian feels a whip wrap around his arms and try to yank him off his feet. He unravels the coils telekinetically, and throws the person who tried to use it. She lets go of the whip, and gracefully lands on her feet.

    QmsQdjkl.jpg

    Four mechanical arms try to grab Michael from the shadows. He tries to overpower the arms using his Asgardian strength, but they wrap around Michael, restraining him.

    ZJKKkSLl.jpgClint draws an arrow, and tries to get a shot on Doctor Octopus, but then is swept off his feet and smashed into the ceiling.I9eUkwal.jpg

    As Miles is trying to call out to Doctor Octopus, a figure emerges from the darkness and whispers "Sssssh, sleep."

    NDSAlkNl.jpg

    He blasts Miles with a gas so potent it's overwhelming the filters on Miles' mask. Miles fires his extending arms forward, trying to shove Mysterio—and his gas—into a wall far away from Miles and his nose.

    The attack catches the illusionist by surprise, and Miles slams Mysterio into the wall so hard it cracks his globe-shaped helmet.

    ZU6HzTwm.png?1

    Stepping away, Miles tries to shake off the gas as the fight continues. He tries to use his arms to carefully wrap Mysterio up, binding him without hurting him.

    PHU1KZN.png
    As you see, this is more-or-less the traditional Sinister Six of Spider-Man villains, played pretty straight, aside from the conceit of their being good guys on this Earth. The biggest departures are the presence of Prowler and Black Cat, who aren’t really villains but misunderstood heroes and allies of Spider-Man, or at the worst, characters who turn to crime for sympathetic reasons.

    Otherwise, their inclusion in the group, isn’t that strange, as the Sinister Six has had a lot more than six individual members. Along with Doctor Octopus, Vulture, and Mysterio, who are usually present, its lineup has also included the Green Goblin (and, later, the Hobgoblin), the Sandman, Electro, Rhino, and Venom.

    Lying on the filthy floor of the sewer, Elise doesn't fancy the window of vulnerability in getting back on her feet. Instead, she growls and sweeps her legs in an attempt to bring Prowler down. It works, and she knocks the Prowler down so hard that their head slams against the tunnel floor. There's a loud hiss as their mask seems to break some kind of seal, and Elise can hear a yelp distorted through the vocalizer of the Prowler's mask.

    The noise is familiar.

    Too familiar.

    The Prowler scrambles backwards away from Elise into the shadows and seals off the breach in the mask quickly.

    "Wait!" Elise pulls off her own helmet and drops stealth. "Wait!"

    Meanwhile, Ryann gets to his feet and rushes the Shocker, but gets blasted again, slamming into a wall.

    Michael assumes the form of the Destroyer and tears himself free of the crushing metal arms. Doctor Octopus stumbles back, regaining his balance. "Who are you people?!"

    "We're not here to FIGHT you!" Miles calls to Doc Ock.

    "HYDRA scum!" Octavius yells in reply. "Take them down!"

    Elise can see Prowler scrambling around, looking wildly like they're trying to find something. Julian reaches out telepathically to the wearer of the sealed suit. We come in peace! I swear!

    Who said that? a familiar voice thinks. What...who is this? How are you doing this to me? Get out!

    Julian realizes it's her. It's Elise. Prowler is Earth-108's Elise.

    "Prowler! Listen, I'm an Elise too! I'm an Elise!"

    Prowler looks at her, and then yells out to the Six, her voice modified by her mask but still recognizable to STRIKE-1 as Elise's voice. "Stop! Otto, stop!"

    Matev
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    Octavius looks at her, and then holds up his hand, and the rest of the Six pause their attack. Prowler walks slowly over to Elise, gently reaching over with her clawed hand towards Elise's face. "H-how...?"

    "We're from another Earth. I'm an Elise who's here to spy. I thought if there was a me on this Earth she'd be dead, or… Holy shit, I can't believe we finally found another me."

    Miles takes off his helmet. "Doctor Octavius, your world is known by the Council designation Earth-108. We're from Earth-1491. We're agents of STRIKE."

    Michael powers down and takes off his helmet. "We mean you no harm."

    Prowler leans in close to Elise, and there's a whirring from her mask as she takes a deep inhale. "They're not lying, Otto. Something about them smells off. Foreign. They're not from here. This isn't a trick. This...Elise. She's real. She's really Elise. She's another world's Elise."

    "Elise high five!" Elise lifts her hand and looks expectantly at Prowler. Prowler looks confused, and then high-fives her.

    "Yess," Elise grins. We have to take her home with us, guys.

    "I...like your hair," Prowler says, gesturing at Elise's purple streak. "Before...everything, mine was purple and green. I like those colors." She gestures to her suit.

    Elise nods eagerly. "Listen, I come from a world where there's a whole place for Inhumans. I bet they can help you with everything." She moves to Longbow and gets him in a more comfortable position for when he awakens from his little nap.

    Otto moves towards Miles, "You seem to be in charge. Why are you dressed like HYDRA? Are HYDRA from your universe different somehow?"

    "Yes," Miles says. "They lost World War II. They're a loose-knit terrorist organization. Your world's Avengers attacked our world. We stopped them, and we're here in disguise, gathering intelligence. We work for our world's law enforcement agency - SHIELD."

    Otto looks over at Prowler, "Elise, are they telling the truth?" Prowler nods, and Elise-1491 looks over at Otto reflexively as well.

    Miles gestures to Michael. "You're field-rated, can you check on Bob? Make sure he's ok?"

    "Sure thing, Chief." Michael nods and goes to tend to Bob, who stirs slightly and grumbles.

    Vulture folds his wings and walks over to Bob and Michael. "Sorry about that. Didn't know you were good guys."

    "We're good at being spies," Michael says to Vulture.

    Shocker walks over to Centurion, "Uh...I was uh...shooting to kill. How did you...you know what? I'm sorry. I'm just sorry, dude."

    Elise sets her jaw and transmits over the telepathic connection. We're taking Prowler back to our Earth.

    Miles frowns. That's her choice, Elise. And her world may well need her here.

    She scowls at him. Well, I'm going to convince her to come. And then we're bringing her to a safe place.

    Otto helps Mysterio up with a tentacle, and looks over at him. "Quentin, cover our escape, we need to take these people back to our headquarters."

    Black Cat looks at Otto. "Is that smart? We just met these people who say they're from another universe."

    Miles points at Prowler. "Elise can tell if we're lying. Right?"

    Otto nods, "I believe Ms. Arnell can trust herself. This way."

    While the team moves, Elise hangs close to Prowler, muttering to her alt-self low enough that the rest of the team can't hear. "We can take you to Attilan. It's a place where we're royalty, and our people walk the streets. If you want to come, I will do anything I can to bring you. It can be home." I'm telling you guys, we can make this work.

    Prowler is quiet the entire time. She can hear. She's listening. She's just saying nothing.

    Miles sighs. Elise, she's a person, not a toy or a stray cat.

    Yeah, I fuckin' know, Chief. She's ME.

    I...I feel for her, Elise. I get it,
    Julian thinks. But if we take her away, that's such a huge asset for this world, just gone.

    You don't know what it was like for us. For me, before I joined SHIELD,
    Elise protests.

    Matev
  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    After a few minutes of walking through the tunnels, with Mysterio disguising their path with holograms, the team are led through a secure door into a base. It's the Crypt, alright, although it's arranged slightly differently and has been upgraded in different ways from its SSR days.

    YlUBhxkh.jpg

    Various members of the Six start taking off some of their gear. Prowler does not.

    Otto turns to the team. "So, how did you find us? Why did you find us? You said you came here for intelligence, why does that involve coming to us? Surely, with HYDRA uniforms, would it not be easier and wiser to spy on HYDRA directly?"

    "That's the problem,” Elise-1491 says. “We need access to their technology, but they said that's a no-go without Zola."

    Otto looks at her and shrugs. "And?"

    "Well, they said you guys had Zola," Elise explains.

    Otto looks at Prowler, who shrugs at him. "...we don't have Zola."

    "Well, fuck me," Elise says.

    Clint squints at Otto, "What do you mean you don't have Zola?"

    Otto looks confused, "We don't have Arnim Zola. So far as I know, he's likely on that godforsaken moon base of theirs. He would be practically impossible to capture, anyway. He's digital. How do you capture such an entity?"

    Miles stares at Clint. "We were set up."

    Michael gets a sinking feeling in his gut. "We've been had."

    Clint stares at Miles, "But why? They believed me."

    "How the fuck do you know, Clint?" Miles snaps.

    "I..."

    "Oh, God, maybe they think you saw too much of a world where America won," Elise says. "That's the kind of train of logic these Nazi fucks would use."

    Ryann starts to check the area. Miles puts a hand to his ear. "X-51, hack every wireless signal you can get your hands on right now."

    Scanning, Miles. ...Miles, there is a wireless signal coming from Agent Barton.

    I believe he may be bugged.


    Miles whirls to face Longbow. "Clint. You're wearing a bug."

    Clint stares. "What? No. That's impossible."

    Can you shut it down? Or spoof the signal? Miles thinks desperately.

    Attempting to hack the signal.

    Otto suddenly tenses, and the rest of the Six start to turn. Miles holds up his hands. "Hold on! I'm...dealing with it."

    Prowler nudges Elise. "Hey... do you see that..." She says it at a frequency only Elise can hear.

    Elise sees something incredibly tiny on Clint's shoulder. Where Sin was rubbing his arm earlier today. Her vision fixates on it. It's an insect? Wait. No.

    No3jmnYl.jpg

    "It's Pym!" she screams. "He's on Bob!"

    Matev
  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    X-51 intones in Miles' ear I have hacked the signal, but he has already been broadcasting his location for several minutes.

    As Elise watches in horror, Yellowjacket jumps off of Clint and begins growing to his normal size.

    "Ffffuuu-" Miles lashes out digitally, trying to shut down Pym's armor.

    Pym grows to normal size and then his armor's weapon functions shut down. His extended arm-guns are unable to fire. And his mobility is reduced.

    "Grab him!" Miles points. "He's been transmitting our location!"

    Moving swiftly, Michael pins Pym to the ground with his Asgardian strength.

    Miles turns to Michael. "He overheard us talking. We can't let him tell HYDRA what he's learned."

    "Should I remove the threat, Chief?"

    "Yes," Miles sets his jaw. "I'm authorizing full sanction."

    Elise’s eyes widen. "Wait, you're not going to -"

    Julian steps between Elise and Michael. "Think of our Pym. You think this slippery bugger's going to stick around and help us if we threaten him?"

    Michael punches Pym full force in the back of the head hard enough that his fist embeds into the concrete floor. Elise yells in shock. Miles nods, satisfied. Prowler doesn't react at all.

    "Don't leave any electronics for HYDRA to find," Miles adds.

    Michael opens his palm and unleashes cosmic flame on Pym's prone body, disintegrating him.

    PHU1KZN.png
    This was a great bit. Miles is a peaceful guy at heart who always looks for the best way out for everyone, but I really relish the chance to remind everyone that he’s perfectly capable of being totally ruthless sometimes. And, moreso than anyone else on the team, he knows he can rely on Michael to do what’s gotta be done.

    Matev
  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    The Thunderbolts are on their way to our location, Miles, X-51 says. I am attempting to mislead them by giving them several dummy locations, but inevitably they will find us. We need to move. The Six will need to abandon their base. I can expedite the process by wirelessly downloading all data and wiping it behind. I will make copies for our intelligence.

    I suggest informing Octavius of the former but not the latter.


    Good call. Do it. "The Thunderbolts are inbound! We need to move! Octavius, my AI is copying your drives so you can set up somewhere else!"

    Otto nods. "Fine. Superior Six, let's move."

    Elise's eyes are wide. "Everything is going wrong. How - how are we going to get home?"

    "We'll find a way," Julian reassures her. "Or we'll...well. If we really get stuck, we'll burn all the Nazis we can get our hands on. But we won't get stuck."

    Miles turns to study their surroundings. "X-51, are there any load-bearing structures we can bring down to slow the Thunderbolts down?"

    Scanning. I have identified weakpoints that I will transmit to Agent Westin, he will be more than capable of doing the necessary damage.

    Thank you. "Get ready to bring down the house, Michael."

    "On it Boss, you guys get clear."

    The Six gear up, grab bug-out-bags, and move. Elise stands frozen, staring. "Where - where are we going?"

    Prowler puts her clawed hand on Elise's shoulder, "We have a fallback point, follow me. I'm the scout, you can be the scout with me too."

    "Yeah. Yeah, okay," Elise nods. "Let's go."

    Miles turns to Longbow. "Clint, it looks like we're getting the tech the old-fashioned way. Where do we need to be?"

    Clint sucks his teeth. "Fuck...uh...shit...the Azores. We need to go to the Azores.

    "If these guys don't have Zola, if Zola really is on the moon base...the moon base is Attilan. Our Attilan. And the gate's in the Azores. Same as your world," he says. "That's where his lab is, too."

    Elise laughs out loud. "For fuck's sake, history repeats itself."

    Miles nods. "Okay. We'll regroup at the Six's fallback, and make plans for the Azores."

    Miles can hear Elise talking to Prowler as they move forward. "See, it's funny, because Clay—that's our team leader—told me I wasn't allowed to find Attilan. That's what we did on my Earth, see, we found Attilan..."

    "Attilan here sucks," Prowler grunts, "It's a moonbase full of HYDRA. The moon's full of fascist scum. If you people are going there, I'm going with you."

    Guys. This me is kind of a Debbie Downer, Elise thinks over the telepathic connection. I don't think she really gets what I'm trying to offer her!

    I don't think you really get what ARMOR means when they say your alternates aren't you!
    Miles shoots back.

    Yeah, I get it! They mean don't get emotionally attached, which is stupid!

    The team moves through the tunnels with the Superior Six until Otto suddenly calls for a halt. "Alright, we're far enough."

    "For what?" Elise asks.

    "For me to call in our transportation." Otto opens a communicator. "This is the Octopus to Blink. We require exfiltration to the fall-back point, the Crypt has been compromised."

    A pink-tinged portal opens a few moments later, and a woman steps out.

    JhEMTxUl.jpg

    She opens another portal. "Everyone, let's go."

    Miles stops to grin at her. "Hi. I'm Miles." Then he dives through the portal. Elise, Michael, Julian and Ryann quickly follow suit.

    As the Six make their way into the portal, the roof of the sewer tunnel explodes with a deafening crash.

    Zl7PoaMl.jpg

    "Fuck!" Blink shouts.

    Virtue dives at the portal, which isn't closed. Vulture, Shocker, Black Cat, and Clint haven't gone through yet.

    Clint, in a split second, looks at Vulture and says "...sorry." He grabs Blink by the collar, and pulls her through the portal with him.

    The portal closes, leaving Vulture, Shocker, and Black Cat behind with Virtue.

    PDKpJsK.png

  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    @Fencingsax @Matev @see317 @jurner @visiblehowl @Powerpuppies @Nytewarrior @Zilla360 @MsAnthropy

    WE'RE BACK!

    Also, every episode from the prologue to 3.02 has been upgraded to the Director's Cut version, somewhat rewritten, with better formatting (more like what you got in season 3, when I really had the process nailed down), some new art, and scenes that had been accidentally deleted. Also Obi-Wan makes this new noise that you're gonna love.

    see317MsAnthropyFencingsaxMatev
  • FencingsaxFencingsax It is difficult to get a man to understand, when his salary depends upon his not understanding GNU Terry PratchettRegistered User regular
    I think you are doing the Nazi stuff pretty well.

    torchlight-sig-80.jpg
  • MatevMatev Cero Miedo Registered User regular
    Oooof, that is a start to be sure.

    "Go down, kick ass, and set yourselves up as gods, that's our Prime Directive!"
    Hail Hydra
    Fencingsax
  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    54fpq9U.png



    Freedom Force comes through Blink's portal inside a subterranean tunnel.

    IRAPa1xh.jpg


    Most of the team and the Six came through, but Vulture, Black Cat, and Shocker were left behind when Clint pulled Blink through with him, in order to close the portal behind them and prevent Virtue from following.

    Ryann grabs Bob's shoulder. "We could have tried! Damn it, man!"

    Doctor Octopus looks back at the assembled group. "Wait, what just happened? Where's...what happened?"

    Elise feels a flash of...anger? Disgust? They had the drop on us. They had every conceivable opportunity. And they couldn't finish the job. This world is weak.

    She shakes her head. Where did that come from? "I... We had to run."

    Prowler points accusingly at Clint, "He pulled Blink through! He closed the portal!"

    "What the fuck. What the fuck. They got us," Julian mutters, pacing rapidly.

    Clint puts his hands up, "I made a call. It was slam the door, or Virtue followed us. Wherever we are now, I don't think you wanted him here."

    Miles nods at Clint. "I...get it. It sucks, but I get it." He turns to the rest of the team and to Octavius. "We can mourn them later. Right now, we need to move. Or their sacrifice will have been for nothing."

    Ryann sighs, shaking his head.

    "I agree, Chief,” Michael says. “It sucks and we could've tried but we gotta find our next steps."

    Julian nods. "Yeah. This is... this is fucked. This isn't a scouting mission anymore. We're made."

    "Yeah,” Elise nods. “Isn't it great?"

    "Great?" Julian squints. "I mean..."

    Elise nods. "We don't have to sit there and say 'hail HYDRA' like a bunch of traitor Nazi fucks!"

    Julian isn’t convinced. "Yeah, okay. What about home? This isn't fucking great."

    "We got out of space prison, Julian," she says.

    "Yeah. We did. Look, I'm..." Julian trails off. "So I get it. I get it. Every Nazi between me and home has a death sentence now," he laughs darkly. "But you got...you got a kid, man!"

    Blink leans against the wall. "We're safe now. We're in the X-Haven."

    As she studies their surroundings, Elise is extremely uncomfortable. She knows she's underground. She's been underground before. She lived for a while underground before, in the Crypt.

    But this is different. This is deeper. It's making her slightly claustrophobic, a feeling of pressure, like she's on a plane.

    She strides to close the distance between her and Julian. "Don't you ever. Ever! Suggest I don't remember Valeria. And! What is up with this place! It's like...It's...weighing on me. I don't like it."

    Prowler speaks up. "The X-Haven is fifty thousand feet under the Earth. I hate being here too."

    "Alright, alright," Ryann pinches the bridge of his nose and breathes. "So what's next, Bob, since you're an expert on dealing with being made?" His tone is openly sarcastic. "Or do you have an idea, Miles?"

    Miles nods. "The mission is still the mission," he says flatly. "We need that Parliament tech. Nothing has changed in that respect. The only difference is that we need to go on offense now. These people are used to hunting dissidents and infiltrators. It's been seventy years since they've fought a war.

    "So we're going to give them one.

    "Our first job," Miles folds his hands behind his back, "is we're getting ourselves a Terror-Carrier."

    "Fuckin' right, Chief." Julian pumps his fist.

    "Rrgh," Elise grumbles. "Okay. Okay. So we steal a Terror-Carrier, take it to Attilan, and peace out?" And we're bringing Prowler.

    Blink interrupts, "Hang on. Look, I'm not going to blame...who are you?" she asks Bob.

    "Longbow." he replies.

    "Call him Bob," Elise cuts in. And steps on Clint's foot.

    Blink nods, "I'm not going to blame Bob for the call he made there. I'm not...happy about it. But if he hadn't, we'd all be dead."

    Julian nods. "Yeah. Like...we all saw that guy."

    Otto growls, "You know if they die in battle it's a mercy." Blink nods solemnly.

    "So do we have any idea on how to steal this fuckin' 'Terror-Carrier'?” Michael asks. “Any intel on who would be guarding it?"

    Blink shakes her head. "Stealing the Terror-Carrier? That's...that's insane."

    Otto looks at them. "Why would you even want to do that?"

    PHU1KZN.png
    This was Matt asking in-character what his noises of confused concern over voice were already asking out-of-character, which was, “uhhh what?”

    Jacking the Terror-Carrier was an idea that had just then come into my head, and it had very obviously not been on the menu. Like plenty of GMs, Matt, in his planning, tries to account for various things players are likely to try, and what is liekly to happen if the dice go our way or if we beef the roll.

    But of course, no GM can account for every possibility. Players are weird and clever, but even with the dullest, least imaginative players on the planet the odds that the player and the GM are picturing the exact same scene in their heads, or have the exact same mental calculus on whether a given action is likely to work or not, are staggeringly against.

    Matt knows this perfectly well, and like all good GMs he stands ready to improvise and adapt, so when I come up with something that sounds goofy as shit, to his credit, he doesn’t just go “no” and flatly shut me down. He does a reality check. He asks “uh...you, you saw the big floating aircraft carrier full of fascists, right? Like, you know what it can do?”

    And oh.

    Oh, I know.

    Miles nods. "I have reason to believe it's got a linear accelerator onboard that might be the one thing on this world capable of killing VIrtue. If I know my HYDRA, they wouldn't keep a weapon like him around that they didn't have some way of putting down if they needed to."

    Otto grimaces. "They definitely have that, yes."

    PHU1KZN.png
    That’s, of course, a reference to the Gauss gun that the Helicarrier back home used on the Thule portal, and tried to use on Hyperion, back in season 1.

    "Yeah? I can get on board with this," Ryann smirks.

    Julian nods along as Miles makes his points. "I'm good with this plan."

    Elise suddenly checks her weapons. Do…do Hydra have ICERs in their standard loadout?

    Nope.

    Blink looks at the team. "Alright, first of all, your plan is completely insane. Second of all, assuming you could even pull it off..."

    Otto interrupts, "They could. I've seen them fight."

    "Killing Virtue is a secondary concern, to be honest. A big secondary concern, granted, but our main objective is getting to Attilan."

    "I'm not looking to get stalked across the globe by Aryan Superman while we're trying to get work done." Miles is silent a moment. "And we've ruined these people's lives enough. We need to give something back, not just get what we need and leave."

    Blink continues, "Okay, fine, so, say you can. You'll still need help. No matter how powerful you are, it's pure numbers. The Terror-Carrier is HYDRA's floating battle-fortress, there's thousands of them there. Plus, the rest of the Thunderbolts, and Red Skull himself, and he has the Eye of the Hydra."

    "Red Skull's on the Carrier? Not in Berlin?" Miles asks, rubbing his jaw thoughtfully.

    Elise scowls at the name "Red Skull." She also feels a deep, inexplicable...irritation? Envy? Contempt?

    Blink nods. "Yeah, our intel is he stays mobile."

    "Do you have anyone in mind that could help?" Michael asks.

    Blink nods after a moment. "The King.” She gestures to the team. "Follow."

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

    She walks them through the facility, explaining as she does. "The X-Haven is fifty thousand feet underground. It is completely cut off from the surface and totally inaccessible by any means. You need to teleport or portal in to get here. Every form of electronic communication is cut off."

    "Was this purpose built or is this something you guys took over?" Michael asks.

    "A mutant geokinetic created the space, and we built into it and closed it off," she says. "It's the safest place on Earth for our kind.” She leads them through a sealed door into a hydroponics bay.

    1qfkwKBh.jpg

    Miles whistles. "It's really impressive what you've accomplished here."

    "Thank you," she nods. "We grow most of our own food, and anything we can't make on our own, we get from re-supplies from the surface. Our power supply is geo-thermal. It's almost completely self-sustained."

    Elise can taste the air is extremely recycled. It's not foul or gross, but it tastes like the starship air aboard the Anabasis. It tastes artificially clean. She wrinkles her nose.

    Blink stops the group. "There's a change room over that way. I need you people to strip off all that HYDRA gear. Anything you're wearing underneath will be checked over by Prowler to make sure there's nothing suspicious. HYDRA can't possibly be transmitting down here, but once you leave, it could be a problem."

    "Prudent measure," Michael agrees.

    "As long as I get to keep these -" Elise produces a pack of candy cigarettes, "That's fine."

    Blink shrugs. "After that, I'll kick this upstairs, and see what's determined. Best case scenario? Black Spider will grant you an audience, and someone from Wakanda will come pick you up. I won't take you there, because I don't know where Wakanda is. Security thing, in case I get captured. I'm the in door, I'm not the out door."

    "What's the worst case scenario?" Elise asks.

    "You get told no, and you're on your own for your crazy plan,” she says. "I can drop you off wherever you want on Earth that's not Wakanda or the Terror-Carrier.

    "Get changed, grab a shower and some food, take a breather. This is probably the safest place on Earth outside Wakanda. I'll come find you." Blink walks away.

    Elise nudges Julian. "See? This is already ten million billion times better than space jail!"

    Julian shrugs. "I dunno. I feel...anxious. Not like, scared, but like...I gotta do something."

    Otto heaves a deep sigh, "I need to...make some arrangements. Toombs, Schultz, Hardy...they had people. They'll need to know, once we come up for air. I need to write some things." He walks away, and Ryann sighs as he watches the doctor go.

    Miles nods at Ryann. "I...know some of what he's going through. And it sucks because I know nothing I say can really help."

    Julian nods, looking towards Ryann and Miles. "Yeah. This guy's every day... What a shit world."

    Elise is already pulling off her HYDRA armor enthusiastically. "Hey. Julian. Can you, uh. Can you take a little lookie-loo in my brain? I'm having some, like... Stuff. Going on. Like I'm fluent in German? And…you know."

    Julian frowns. "I...that's weird. Maybe some leftovers."

    Prowler walks over to Bob, and leans toward him. Her mask makes a whirring hiss as she inhales deeply. "You. You're different from the rest. You're from here."

    "Oh, yeah, Bob. Long story." Elise steps in.

    "How long is it?" Prowler sounds suspicious.

    "Eh, the tl;dr... Do you guys have that on this Earth? TLDR?"

    "No."

    "Well, point is," Elise continues sounding casual. Casual! Everything is fine. "He got picked up by our people on our Earth. And since then he's been good. Good people! He's marrying my sister back on Earth.

    "My, uh, adoptive sister. Who is a Muslim."

    "Picked up?" Prowler looks at Bob. "You're Clint Barton."

    Elise winces.

  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    "You're Clint Barton, Hawkeye, of the Avengers," Prowler says, voice getting louder. "Our Avengers."

    "Do not make this a thing, please,” Elise pleads. “He is…not on their side."

    Prowler steps around Elise. "Is what she's saying true? Lie to me and I'll rip your balls and throat out, at the same time."

    Ryann whistles at this. Julian winces. He knows she could do it.

    Elise's eyebrows shoot up. I would... I would never say something like that. This me is fucking wild.

    Bob's eyebrows raise. "100% true. Absolutely true. I'm banging the hell out of her sister."

    "Oh, fuck off." Elise punches Bob's arm. "You're fucking gross."

    Prowler folds her arms. "Fine. I will tell Otto privately, and explain. He trusts my judgment absolutely."

    "Okay,” Elise says. ”Thank you. I told Bob I was gay, y'know? And he was cool about it. Even though he thought it was like, y'know, a crime on Earth too. He's cool. Wait. Are you gay too? Does that cross dimensions?"

    "What does that mean? Gay?" Prowler looks at her.

    Bob looks at Prowler. "She's asking if you're a gender traitor."

    "Fuckin' gender savior if you ask me,” Elise exclaims. “Why on Earth would I want to deal with a dick in any sense."

    "Kraven and I love each other very much, thank you. Fuck you both." Prowler walks away.

    "What." Elise stares after her. "WHAT."

    Michael's mouth is agape; Bob is trying extremely hard not to laugh.

    He's failing.

    "Gender Savior could also be a good album name," Julian helpfully points out.

    "Who's Kraven, again?” Ryann asks, confused. “I've heard that name?”

    Julian speaks quietly to Ryann. "Kraven is the guy - "

    "KRAVEN TRIED TO FUCKING EAT ME!!!"

    "That," Julian helpfully concludes.

    Bob looks at Elise. "Well apparently on this world he succeeded."

    Julian offers a hand up high, and Bob hits it. Miles extends both his arms to give Bob two thumbs up.

    Elise turns and gives Bob her most furious look. “Holy shit. You people are monsters and I am the only person here with any kind of soul."

    Ryann makes a hand-waffle motion.

    Bob laughs. "I'm gonna go get changed."

    "We... we have to double save her now," she declares. She stalks up to Julian. "Listen, fucker, are you going to look in my brain or are you just going to jack off with the peanut gallery?"

    Julian laughs. "Right."

    Miles squints. "Let me know how this goes, you two. Just...in general terms. I'm not trying to invade anyone's privacy. But I need to know if this ends up being important to the mission." He heads off to get changed.

    "For sure, Chief." Julian turns and carefully gives Elise a look.

    Julian has a choice. There's something there. Not a foreign presence More like, an impression. Writing something on a soft surface and leaving an impression.

    He could try to read it, but he risks leaving his own impression in return. Sharing some of his own personality and memories, what little he has, with Elise.

    Or he could just not. And leave it alone.

    He reads it. He wants to be sure.

    It's a psychic bleedthrough from the Red Skull. He was in Elise's mind for months and left an impression. She speaks fluent German. She knows HYDRA protocol and strategy. Being here is bringing it out more. She's…judgmental about HYDRA here.

    "Whoa, Elise."

    "...What?"

    "You're, like... You've got leftovers. Like... list out your thoughts on HYDRA. Snap judgment. First thing you think."

    "Shitheads. Shitheads, obviously! Just on this planet, they're clearly pitiful and weak."

    "Right!" he agrees. "Except... like...that weak thought, that comes from somewhere. Like, you had him in your head long enough that you like...carried a bit off. Like...you speak German? Since when? You know?"

    "Ugh. Fucking gross. Can you scrape it out?"

    "Yeah." He pauses. "Well... I dunno. I could try. But first of all...like, we should go over it with Miles. But secondly - you hate them still, and, what if you have something that could help us? Similarities between our HYDRA and theirs, I mean.

    "We get to some console, like, say it says PASSWORD: and you're like, ‘Oh shit, I know this! HAILHYDRA123.’ Boom! We're in! We run the Terror-Carrier. I don't know. Let's talk to Miles."

    "Yeah, okay." Elise slouches off to go change.

  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    Some time later, after getting changed, taking a breather and grabbing some food, the team assembles in the X-Haven's control room with Blink, Doctor Octopus, Mysterio, and Prowler.

    p95r0m1h.jpg

    From behind a control room desk, a blond woman steps up and turns to face them.

    hFKXPQNl.jpg

    Blink introduces her. "This is Esme. She's our communications with the surface."

    Esme looks at the team. "I've already sent a message to my sister in Wakanda, and she has spoken to the King. I'm waiting for word back."

    Miles nods. "Thank you. We appreciate your help."

    Esme nods, and then her eyes begin to glow blue, "Stand by." She stares vacantly into nothing. "King S'Yen has agreed to see you. Someone is on their way to retrieve you shortly."

    "Okay. Cool." Elise sidles over to Miles. "Hey. Hey, Chief."

    Milea nods. "Shoot."

    Elise glances sidelong at Prowler and pulls out a little notebook. She doesn't want the other her to overhear this. She scribbles on a page. "Remember the Red Skull thing?"

    Miles nods.

    Elise continues to write, glancing up occasionally at Prowler. "J says he imprinted on me - German, HYDRA tactics, other bad shit??? don't like it. want it purged. your thoughts?"

    Miles purses his lips. "I think that's your choice," he says. "If it can help you here. But either way, let's cut it out when we get back. Cool?"

    Elise gives a thumbs up and pockets the notebook.

    Suddenly, there's a burst of smoke and the smell of brimstone in the air.

    wRO3fzll.jpg

    "Hello,” the newcomer says. “I am Nightcrawler. I will be taking you to Wakanda."

    Elise has met Nightcrawler before, briefly. Or more accurately, Earth-1491's Nightcrawler. He's a member of the X-Men.

    Miles stands. "Okay." He looks at the team. "Everyone good to go?"

    "You bet," Ryann nods.

    "Ready, Chief," Michael says.

    "Yeah, I'm good," Elise says.

    "Ready," Julian says.

    Otto, Prowler, and Mysterio step forward. "We're coming with you."

    Miles nods. "Thank you, Doctor." He turns to Nightcrawler. He winks. "Take us to your leader."

    Nightcrawler nods, and looks at Prowler, "Kraven is in Wakanda, Prowler." She lifts up slightly.

    Elise darkens and glowers. Hate. Hate. Hate hate hate hate hate hate -

    Nightcrawler looks at everyone. "Alright, stay close to me. It is challenging to teleport this many at once, but it is within my ability." Everyone gathers, and in a burst of smoke, they vanish.

    PHU1KZN.png
    Esme is one of the Stepford Cuckoos, a set of five identical mutant quintuplets with a powerful psychic link to each other. Created by one of my favorite writers, Grant Morrison, during his brief but impactful run on X-Men in the early 2000s, they’ve remained a fixture of the team since, and appeared in live-action recently on the tv show []The Gifted.[/i]

    You’ll notice that it seems like the X-Men characters are the other big axis of the resistance here on Earth-108, along with Wakanda. In both cases, these are groups who already had some prier experience keeping their heads down and surviving in a hostile world.

  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    I5ybrzqh.jpg

    Most of the team, save for Ryann, has been here before. At least, on another world. But this place, more than any other part of this Earth, looks mostly the same. It looks completely untouched by the bleak, hellish world around it.

    People here look happy.

    They also look more diverse than the Wakanda of Earth-1491, however. Whereas Wakanda-1491 is mostly...Wakandans, the people here are a variety of different ethnicities, most of them some variety of other non-white ethnicities.

    As Nightcrawler leads the group through the city, no one reacts to his presence as if it is odd.

    Elise produces a candy cigarette and offers the pack to the rest of the party, chewing nervously on hers.

    Prowler looks at Elise. "Did you used to smoke?"

    "God, yeah, I still want to all the time."

    "How?!" Prowler seems to be staring. "I would want to die."

    "I picked it up after I first changed, before I went through proper Terrigenesis. Couldn't fuckin'...deal with anything. Everything was so gross, all the time. Drugs helped! So did cigarettes."

    "Drugs...helped?"

    "Oh, yeah. Weed was probably the least destructive and made me the most efficient. Had a coke problem for a while. Among...other things."

    "What do you mean, weed? Weed of what?"

    "Marijuana."

    "Oh."

    "Elise used to be a crazy paradoxical being,” Julian offers. “Like, you should have seen her van."

    Elise elbows him hard. "Haha, my tan?"

    "How that helped her condition I don't kno - ow!!"

    "Yeah, I spent...I spent some time outside."

    Bob calls back to Elise, "Cannabis is pretty rare here. If people do drugs it's amphs."

    Miles nods at Bob. "Sounds like my old unit."

    Elise wrinkles her nose. "This truly is a hell world.” She turns to Prowler. "You know what else helped? Hooking up with girls." She grins.

    Nightcrawler leads the group into the foyer of the palace. They've been here before.

    As they enter, Elise hears a woman's voice say her name. "Elise?"

    Elise turns. So does Prowler.

    cL4drrTl.jpg

    "Ana!" Prowler cries excitedly.

    "Uh..." Elise stares.

    Prowler runs over to Ana and the two hug. They gently touch foreheads together, in a way that seems pretty intimate given Prowler's sealed suit.

    "So you are gay!" Elise crows. "Yes! Yes! Thank God!"

    "Wait..." Ana looks at Elise quizzically. "Who...Elise, who is..."

    Prowler says to her, "This is...another Elise. From another dimension. She's weird, but she's... fine. I guess."

    "Fine, I guess?" Elise is scandalized. "I'm amazing."

    Ana nods at Elise. "Anastasia Kravinova. Kraven the Huntress is my code-name."

    Elise offers a hand to shake with her best attempt at a polite expression. She looks like she has heartburn. Kraven shakes her hand.

    Watching everything, Miles grins hugely.

    PHU1KZN.png
    As you can imagine, we were all dying in voice chat as this unfolded.

    Prowler explains, "Apparently 'gay' is what gender treachery is called on their world. I...I guess it goes pretty different."

    Elise is still flummoxed. Wanting to fuck a Kraven, any Kraven, is massively fucked up. Elise Arnell, you are a fucked-up person.

    Prowler looks at Ana. "These people are a mix of brave and insane. They want to steal the Terror-Carrier and attack Attilan."

    Kraven nods. "Are you in? Because you're in, I'm in."

    Prowler nods at her. "Absolutely."

    Elise taps into the team conference call. So I guess we have to bring this Kraven back too with this Elise.

    Miles catches Ryann's gaze and shakes his head.

    Nightcrawler looks at the team, "King S'Yen will see you now." The group is led into the throne room.

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