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Bad omens.



Nightmare at the United Nations

The fateful day has arrived. It is a cool morning, with an unseasonable north wind blowing gently through the city. Four limos idle out front, waiting for their passengers. DePalo and his agents are on hand, as well as several armed men sporting windbreakers marked "Dept. of Treasury". At the appointed time, the assembly exits the hotel and moves directly towards the waiting limos.
    The assembly is a veritable who's who of American big business. Of course, the heroes all recognize Tony Stark, who, Aegis notes, seems remarkably calm and refreshed. The heads of Dow, Monsanto, and Diamond Shamrock are next, all elderly men in dark suits with an air of detached superiority about them. Specter recognizes Theodore Sallis, one of the nation's leading researchers in botany and genetics. Justin Hammer, a slight, oily man who seems every bit as unpleasant as the tabloid press makes him out to be, is in the group as well. Other men, all millionaires tied to the likes of Uniroyal and Thompson Chemicals, also exit the hotel lobby.
    The security detail immediately becomes active, monitoring the street and skyline, keeping the throng of press back a comfortable distance. DePalo mutters something about the "damned first amendment." In short time, the limos are occupied, armored doors are closed, and the passengers are hidden behind bullet-proof glass.
    Floating a few yards over the lead car Emerald watches nervously as the various VIPs walk from the building to their cars. He is clad in a skintight black bodysuit, accented at his chest and arms with green, and his face is hidden by a mask of the same hue. Although most of the faces and the names are foreign to him Emerald is determined to see nothing happens to the men while he's around.
    Floating silently over the convoy as it begins to move out, Aegis half-consciously tracks the others' location. Emerald is at lower altitude, watching the crowd; she concentrates on the towering buildings to either side of the route. She is calm and watchful; the issues that caused her so much turmoil the day before will resolve themselves soon enough.
    Meanwhile, the back of her mind chews over what Specter told them earlier that morning.
    "...with nothing else to do yesterday, I decided to pay a visit to the Soviet Union," Victor said with a smug grin.
    "Actually it was the Soviet consulate, but its still Russian soil. Anyway, I thought I would take a look around to see if the Super Soldiers were using it as a base of operations. Inside I ran into Doctor Kragoff, AKA the Cosmonaut. Though he did not provide me with any answers overtly, their was little that he could hide from a man of my intellect," Dumas paused. "Kragoff exhibited the ability to levitate a glass, something that could only be accomplished two ways. Either he has the ability to manipulate a tremendous amount of magnetic energy, more so than we think, or he is telekinetic like Emerald. He was also aware of my presence, which could mean he managed to detect the iron in my bloodstream regardless that I was phased or that he is also telepathic and therefore is now aware of all of our plans if he read my mind," Specter suggests. "I believe Kragoff can lift more than two tons of weight as well."
    "I must reiterate my initial suspicions that the Super Soldiers are not using the delegation as their main target, and that instead they are using it as a diversion. I think their plan is to get the regenerative formula from Punisher, and send Kravinoff to attack the delegation while they leave the country with the formula. Kragoff said Kravinoff is not dependable, something I can second from my past experiences in dealing with him back in Latveria and the Soviet Union. I believe the Communists will win this day no matter what happens. The Punisher, who I believe is the original Captain America will reveal himself at the UN meeting and denounce the American government for its poisoning of young men over in South Viet Nam. American morale and dignity could be hurt so badly that we could have to pull out of the war prematurely. The Communists will win because they have the formula. They'll win because China will take the ROC's seat on the Security Council and they will win because the Americans will look real bad on the international stage while simultaneously be shamed by their greatest hero into possibly leaving the war early," Dumas shook his head.
    "I don't see how we can win this. The best we can do is minimize losses and protect lives," Victor said.

    So the super-soldiers are here, after all. She considers his hypothesis for the fifth time and rejects it yet again. Specter does have more experience with these people, but she's not quite convinced. There is no need for them to attack the delegation, especially if they already have the formula. "Punisher" has admitted to working with communist agents or at the very least sympathizers; they'll have the information soon enough without risking a direct confrontation with their avowed enemy. Their hand is strong, their best move to stand pat while the US disgraces itself. Perhaps they simply don't trust to that?
    Perhaps they are here for something else... but what? It continues to nag at her as they move slowly through the crowded streets.
    _We'll find out soon, no matter what._ She puts the thought aside and concentrates her full attention on her surroundings. Their little team can't be everywhere, but she promises that it won't be a lapse of vigilance *here* that brings disaster, should it visit.

    Dumas paced the interior halls of the United Nations. Just being within these hollowed halls as a 'guest' and not as a 'head of state' raised his ire. But Victor managed to push those thoughts and feelings to the side while he kept his eye on conference room where the delegates would be meeting.
    This whole meeting could be so very easily disrupted in so many ways, it was nearly impossible to safeguard the delegates. They, the 'Avengers,' would only be able to react to whatever plan the Communists or whoever decided to implement. Specter hoped that he and his comrades were up to the challenge because he knew that the Super Soldiers definitely would be.
    Then their was the 'Punisher.' Dumas assumed it was the real Captain America that had last been heard from over in South Viet Nam, but it didn't matter. The Punisher had taken on a crusade to right the wrongs of the American government. The Captain's challenge alone was enough to win the respect of the Specter. But after speaking with the 'Cosmonaut,' Victor wondered if this whole meeting was only a secondary diversion as he had originally suggested to the others and that the Communist's true purpose was to get the formula from Connors. It would certainly be more valuable than making the United States look bad over their involvement in South Viet Nam. Though they would achieve both because the Punisher would reveal himself as Captain America during the meeting and the morale blow that America would suffer over it's greatest hero turning against the government could bring a premature end to the war and give the Communists a double victory.
    What to do.....Dumas rubbed his chin thoughtfully,

    Specter, Ravdna, and Delta V have already been at the UN when the motorcade arrives. Wiesel, the obese security chief, certainly appears to run a tight ship. There is a noticeable contingent of armed guards. The heroes also note several other men in normal clothes, not obviously armed, but obviously on the alert. Wiesel himself is on hand to greet the arriving businessmen.
    It is only a few minutes before the motorcade arrives with Aegis and Emerald providing aerial cover. All at once, security teams move to greet the men exiting the cars, forming a human wall around them, and everyone is quickly ushered inside. DePalo and his men—six total, including the now familiar Mulhare—fan out, paying particular attention to Stark. Everything seems to be going well, and both DePalo and Wiesel seem pleased with the proceedings so far.
    Ravdna, however, seems disturbed, her face growing slack as she watches the businessmen enter the building....
    Ravdna cannot but help notice the deathglow around the faces of Stark, Sallis, and Mulhare. When she looks about at the other Avengers, she is even more shocked to notice the same glow about the face of the Specter.
    It had been centuries since she had to deliver a mortal she knew to Valhalla...and despite his arrogance even in the face of the divine she did not want to carry Dumas' brave spirit onward. She also knows that The Spectre would not give much credence to her mystical foresight and at the same time she does not want to distract the group from their goal. Privately to Dumas she says in a thought that carries tremendous gravity, *You are not invincible, careful.*

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