Issue 19: Terror in Albany
Date/Time: Friday, Afternoon
Place: Outskirts of Albany, New York
Dark Angel and Aegis flew at top speed toward Castle Doom to alert the rest of the Avengers about the impending crisis in Albany. They arrived to find that Union, Duststorm, Malachi, Ravdna, Delta V, and a resurrected Specter had already been notified by the efficient Agent Gyrich. All were ready to go, including the much changed Victor Von Doom, who had found suitable attire. In short order, the Avengers were racing toward Albany, making a slight detour to pick up Emerald from Beck's studio, this latter task being accomplished by quick-change artist Delta V using a "family emergency" as a ruse.
Emerald, Union, Aegis, and Duststorm fly under their power while Delta V races along on the ground. Dark Angel also flies, his mighty wings chopping the chill air, bearing aloft a Darkforce platform on which rides Malachi, Ravdna, and the Specter. Along the way, Aegis updates Union about the strange findings on the new Atlantic island, not forgetting to mention the lichen sample and the remarkable living fossil trilobite.
Then, there is Albany, New York, spread across the landscape, so different from the hustle and bustle and skyscrapers of Manhattan.
Everything seems peaceful. People walk about. Cars and trucks drive to and fro. The playground of an elementary school hosts a swarm of yelling, playing children.
Delta V, sliding to a halt near the outskirts of town, is the first to notice something is wrong, but the others, still airborne, are not left in the dark for long. The tremor starts small, a low rumbling felt more like an inaudible vibration in the soles of the feet, but then the earth grows violent. In seconds, new hills form, old hills collapse into pits, buildings are ripped apart and the streets likewise, and the air is filled with the sounds of alarm bells, screams, and the thunderous rumble of the ground as it spasms and bucks. There are a few explosions, most toward downtown, and a great gout of flame rockets into the sky.
The Avengers do not idle for more than a passing second. Innocent people are endangered, and it is time for heroes to act!
"Dark Angel, I thank you for the assistance in traveling," Victor states "Once my powers return, I think I might be able to figure out a way to do more than just float and walk on air as I have in the past. But for now, the new abilities that I've been imbued with, superhuman strength and resistance to physical and electrical attacks, will have to do."
Dark Angel pauses long enough to drop off those who were riding his Darkforce platform, and then races toward the elementary school. The playground is a tangle of metal and rock, and the building itself is crumbling, with nearly a third of it jerked about a dozen feet higher than the remainder. The ebon Avenger dives earthward, landing in the playground area, gripping the twisted jungle gym and tearing it apart to get to the children inside. Gently, he lifts each in turn, flying back and forth between a nearby area of stable ground and the school. As if in response, a group of dazed restaurant workers nearby shake off their confusion and rush outside to help take care of the children. One carries a bulky first aid kit.
Duststorm too lends a hand. With a gesture, the earth leading up to the raised section of the school quivers and changes, forming a wide set of stairs. A few teachers take the cue and start ushering frightened children down the stairs and across the street. Duststorm turns and starts manipulating the walls of the school itself, opening portals and clearing the way for more people to escape. She cannot help but notice that several children have to be carried. Many are cut and bleeding, and a few of the adults are also in a bad way, but, amazingly, they press on as if by instinct to protect the children in their care.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the ravaged city, Emerald gets the sudden premonition of a gas station across the street from a hospital. The station suddenly bursts into flame, and then explodes mightily.
From his vantage point in the sky the young Avenger locates the gas station, which thankfully has not burst into flames yet. Thinking quickly the young man creates a huge megaphone. "CLEAR OUT! THAT PLACE IS GONNA BLOW!"
The young man creates a huge bulldozer blade and digs it into the street between the hospital and the station. Within moments the young man has a wall surrounding the station several feet high. A tingling in the back of his mind gives Emerald a half second warning, and he throws up a wall of force between the two structures.
The fireball erupts up into the sky, knocking Rick for a loop. The heat is nearly unbearable, but the major force of the blast is thrown away from the patients a few dozen yards away.
Emerald pauses to reinforce his shield around the hospital, then looks to see if there is anything else he can do.
"Well this looks like a job for the Avengers!" Victor moved towards what he deemed as the epicenter where the gout of flame had erupted but along the way their were too many injured people to ignore. Dumas ran into the first semi-collapsed building and started to carefully remove debris from a caved in hallway.
"Help me!" a woman screamed from within.
"I'm coming. Where are you?" Victor desperately asked.
"I think I'm in the basement. The floor collapsed and I fell. But I smell gas." A tremble of fear could be heard in her voice.
"I'm on my way miss," Victor called out having pinpointed her location to be in the basement as she thought.
Eventually he reached the woman in the dark and now dusty basement. Her head and arms were visible but the rest of her was covered by a furnace of some sort that had fallen over after she landed.
"Can you move anything below your chest?" Victor quickly asked as he kneeled down beside her head.
"Uhm...I can feel my legs, but one of them hurts a lot and tingles," she replied.
"Okay, good. Now tell me your name while I examine the equipment that is covering you." he asked the woman.
"Alicia Masters," she replied.
"Good. Nice to meet you Miss Masters. My name is Victor and I'm with the Avengers. Tell me Miss Masters, is their anyone else in the house?" He asked as he studied the geometric patterns of the debris and what seemed to be holding up what. He ran through approximate molecular compositions of the materials and their sizes to determine what could be moved out of the way.
"I'm all alone here. My roommates are at school today. I stayed home sick," She answered. "I hope they are alright. Do you know what happened?" She started to seem worried.
"Some sort of earthquake. Geological peculiarities," he looked at the equipment again. "Okay, now I need you to do exactly as I say okay?"
"What are you going to do?" she asked a little scared.
"I'm going to lift this steel furnace up and your going to slide out with your one good leg. But I don't what you to go very far because you could have internal bleeding that is being held in place by the weight of the structure on top of you. Understand?"
"I think so," she replied wondering how a guy named Victor was going to lift this huge hunk of steel off of her.
Victor moved around to the side of the furnace and placed his hands underneath. He was aware of his newly enhanced strength, but was not sure to what extent it had been modified. In fact he needed to do much more study towards this new body that seemed to be composed of the very ether that he had controlled mentally while in Limbo.
With a heave he quickly lifted the heavy furnace about two feet. Alicia was first surprised and then started to squirm her way out as quickly as she could. But as she was almost clear she grabbed her side in pain.
"Uhn!" she rolled on her side in pain. She was still half under the furnace and Victor could not afford to drop it. It was taxing him quickly and he wouldn't be able to hold it much longer. An idea presented itself quickly to the man with the world's greatest mind. A mind that was useless here, but he did have a body that seemed resistant to damage and more rather strong. He quickly moved under the machine in one swift maneuver and sat on all fours over Alicia, bracing the machine from falling.
"Alicia! Listen to me. Your going to have to ignore the pain for a moment and pay attention. Move your legs from underneath the furnace. Curl up into a fetal position."
She stopped for a second and pulled her legs in towards her stomach and started to sob. Just then Victor's own over taxed legs gave out and the furnace came crushing down on top of him.
Alicia screamed as she saw Victor flattened by the machine she was under.
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© 2001 Mark L. Chance et al