Piercing the veil.
Union nods "Captain America was arrested for all of about 30 seconds. Aegis managed to subdue him, a pretty impressive feat in itself, but he escaped capture once the Avengers present took their eyes off him. Judging from how DePaulo sounded at your funeral, I can bet that he's still at large."
"Well that's a relief. He didn't seem to be in control of his own mind. I hope he finds that control. He's a good man and a personal hero of mine."
"Delta V, how is your family? I must say that I enjoyed having them stay here at my home while they did."
After another hour or so of quiet work, Union turns to the speaker (the closest he can come to directly addressing Victor) "So what was going on with those people in Limbo? Some sort of fraternal war?"
"Though my stay was short, apparently Kang seems to feel a need to counter his brother's every move. Apparently they are all quite powerful. Unfortunately I lack further details, but perhaps a return visit in the future could answer provide them."
"Well, I hope you find a less dramatic way of getting there on your next trip. I just wonder what they're up to, but I suppose it will never matter to us."
"I'll be sure to file a complete report upon my return so that everyone can benefit from the knowledge I gleamed in the event they come here."
Some time later, the trio consider their work to be complete. "OK. Stand back behind the screen..." Union advises the worlds fastest biochemist, then flicks the cinematically large and ominous switch. Electricity starts to leap from one of the two metallic arcs to another, until the blue-yellow glare of energy makes the space between the two arc look more like a disturbed pool of water than anything else. Nearby dust motes become negatively ionized, floating around the arcs in clusters of small black spheres.
Union yells over the noise of the machine "OK Victorit's time to start calibrating vibrations! What next?"
Victor looked down at the speaker device on his side and adjusted it appropriately. "The next part will be relatively easy. But I'll need you to kick up the power levels up a few notches. Over on the East wall, there is control panel that should be labeled with the word 'F.R.' I need you to turn that console on and start the power up sequence. I'll tell you which buttons to push in which order and you have to be sure to do it exactly in the manner that I relate to you. Otherwise... well let's concentrate on getting it right. There is no danger to anyone, it's just that the reactor would have to be re-initialized if we do this incorrectly, and that would take some time. Fusion power is a tricky thing to deal with."
"For your information, the reactor uses a deuterium-tritium fusion process. It seems to work the best for me and the tritium is rather easy to produce with available supplies of lithium. The reactor is made up of a large magnetic coil, I use a tokamak and it will heat the plasma to approximately 100,000,000 degrees Celsius after the correct sequence of buttons are pressed. The magnetic field should be contained entirely, but we will be pushing it a little farther than normal. So be prepared for anything unusual."
_He has his own Fusion Reactor? Fusion Reactor?!?_ Union stands close to the searing wall of electricity, prepared to activate the emergency shutdown if things get out of hand. "You mean more unusual than you coming back from the dead? Delta V, get ready to hit that reactor sequence while I keep and eye on things here. And prayers might not be out of order."
"Heh. No. Not more unusual than that," Victor laughed.
The Game's Afoot! II
Alfred nods. "Of course, sir. Walk this way."
A few minutes later, Ravdna is decked out in suitable civilian attire, perhaps a bit masculine, but somehow the Valkyrie's appearance is no less stunning. Only her spear stands out as completely incongruous.
"If I might suggest, sir," Alfred says. "You could borrow one of the automobiles. Mistress Ravdna's more conspicuous accessories could be stored in the boot."
The two Avengers exit the castle through the rear and walk toward their goal, the dewy wet blades of grass moistening there feet. Rotating her shoulders, Ravdna tries to fit more comfortably into the clothing. She tugs at the collar of the turtle neck she finds herself in. "Yon vestments seem to be constricting me with the might of the Midgard Serpent. How do ye abide these things?" Entering Von Doom's adjacent garage, Ravdna pauses even as Malachai pops the trunk. "Verily they shalt take the reins of this... wagon...."
Central Park turns out to be Asgardian free, excepting Ravdna, of course. Though the heroes search for hours, they turn up nothing more threatening than a couple of would-be muggers, several hippies getting back to nature, and a few lovers strolling quietly along the park's lanes. Still, the time is not ill spent. If nothing else, the two Avengers have time to talk. Close to morning, a bit tired, Malachi and Ravdna climb back into the automobile and drive back to the mansion, arriving about the same time as Duststorm
Island Hopping II
Dark Angel flew in silence over the ocean. Aegis flew twenty yards to his right.
"Samu-el," the voice called to him.
Stern closed his eyes, striving for internal calm, striving to shut the voice out.
"You're turning away from us."
"I want my life back," Stern told the voice in his head.
"He needs you."
Stern grabbed his head, squeezed. "You're tearing me apart!" he screamed, his voice swallowed by the wind.
"Calm yourself, Samu-el. You are of no service to the Lord if you cannot stay focused."
Stern decelerated, came to a stop. "I can't take this any longer! I don't know who I am, what I'm doing, why I'm doing it"
"You are serving him."
"Why should I care?!" Stern yelled at the voice in his head.
"This is a crisis of faith. Nothing more. But we have faith in you... He has faith in you."
"I don't care! So I went to Sunday school! I learned the catechism... it doesn't mean I believe! I didn't choose thisso, leave me alone!"
"We will not convince you, Samu-el, despite your pleadings. You know in your heart. Trust yourself. Trust Him."
Dark Angel groaned with frustration. "Who are you?!"
"We are who you want us to be, Samu-el. We are your conscience, your mother, your father, we are the spirit that moves you to do His work. You chose this path. It was not forced upon you or chosen for you. You sought it out. You, Samu-el. You...."
When Dark Angel opened his eyes again, he was within shouting distance to Aegis. He couldn't remember having begun to fly again. Then again, maybe he'd never stopped.
The pair of heroes arrive at the epicenter about the same time a Navy cruiser is stopping engines in the vicinity. Both Aegis and Dark Angel see several soldiers pointing in wonder at them. There is also a group of men and women in unusual blue and white uniforms. Gyrich is noticeable amongst them.
The center of attention quickly shifts, however, to the island, newly formed by the volcanic eruption and still steaming in the early morning light, the rough, black earth obviously quite hot near the center of the land mass. A gaping crater, nearly fifty feet across, drops ten or so feet to the slowly bubbling surface of molten rock within. Here and there, spread across the dark land, are patches of light green and dull brown.
The cruiser has come to full stop, and two smaller motorized boats are being lowered. The SHIELD agents, along with Gyrich, are in the boats. About half the agents are now dressed in bulky gear that resembles space suits. They also have several shiny boxes. Gyrich lifts a bullhorn to his lips.
"Aegis! Dark Angel!" he calls. "Glad to see you! Come on aboard!"
Aegis waves an acknowledgement and circles the island's shore slowly, studying the new land massare those plants on it already?before coming to a hover just above the deck. She nods to Gyrich and, in an attempt to reverse the impression he probably has of her from last time, says, "Prime beach-front real estate, I seethank you for sharing the coordinates."
"How may we help you, Agent?" Dark Angel asked earnestly.
| Top |
© 2001 Mark L. Chance et al