Return to the island.
"Sounds about right." Janet began, "I just need a couple hours to recharge and then I'm raring to go." The cafe they were in was no place to take a nap though. "Agent Gyrich, is there anywhere I can bunk down safely for a couple hours. I'm not sure if SHIELD has a command post already set up or not." If SHIELD didn't have facilities available, Janet supposed that she could get a room at a local hotel or motel. Providing they were still open for business after the earthquake and aftershocks, that is.
Gyrich nods. "I don't know about hotels, but we're already working on a tent city. I'll see to it that you have cots and cover in a cordoned area. You'll be left alone."
"Thank you", Janet answered simply, too tired to say anything more eloquent.
Addressing Aegis Victor says, "I won't choose Duststorm as much as I'd like to have someone with us to investigate and move larger pieces of earth at the island, I think she'd be best suited for this site right now." Victor ended and looked around at everyone.
"And my professional opinion would be that Delta V should stay here where he can be of more use saving people with his super speed and near limitless endurance. I think my own scientific expertise will suffice at the island site, where as Doctor Connors could be utilized in various capacities here the least of which would be as medical doctor. As for taking someone else, I would suggest Aegis so that the Avengers will have sufficient leadership at both sites and along with Dark Angel she has experience with visiting the island already," Victor said as he looked over at the armored Avenger with no apparent change of expression.
"In fact perhaps Dark Angel might stay here as well since he is strong and has many abilities that can aid in the rescue and investigation at this site. I'm sure Aegis could fly me there under her own power."
Union shakes his head, "No Victor, I need Aegis here to lead the clean up, because I'm about ready to fall over. You're right about Delta V, but I had never intended for Dark Angel to fly you thereDA's been to the island, and he can teleport your team there. If something happens, your team is going to need all the speed, versatility and power it can muster in the smallest number of bodies. Dark Angel's our most powerful member, and can get you out of there if something untoward does happen."
Union looks over to Emerald, "You're going to need a third body, though. Emerald, if you're up for it why don't you go along. From what I heard about the incident at Delta V's house, you have some sort of extra-sensory perceptions. You might be able to turn up something."
Standing up again, he looks at his fellow heroes "If you get attacked out there, clear the shield personnel out and get outwe'll come back to deal with it in force. If something comes up here, we'll contact you through SHIELD and you can play cavalry. Regardless, try and be back in four hours. I'm off to a cot where I can power the armor down and collapse. Aegis, wake me if something comes up."
And so that Avengers go to work again. Dark Angel instructs Delta V, Emerald, and Victor to stand close by. He gestures simply with his right hand and a globe of impenetrable darkness grows up in the blink of an eye to surround the quartet of heroes, and then it implodes just as quickly, taking the four Avengers with it. There is a timeless state of being in a realm immune to the senses and then light and sound and touch and smell return as Dark Angel, Delta V, Emerald, and Victor appear within the Castle.
Meanwhile, back in the ruins of Albany, the remaining Avengers follow Gyrich to SHIELD's operational HQ which is set up in the center of a football field that has been overrun by military issue tents. Generators hums in the background. Those such as Union and Duststorm, who are bone weary, retire to the relative privacy of one of the many tents. Along the walk to the site, Ravdna cannot help but notice the pale aura of death hanging over the faces of so many of the injured people she sees being treated in various field triage centers.
Is this disaster not natural but planned? If so, it counts as an act of mass murder on a staggering scale. If so, then the tidal wave was also no accident of nature, meaning that someone or something may have been willing to drown hundreds of thousands of people. But to what end?
Back at the Castle, Victor has gathered whatever field equipment he needs and is ready for the second leg of the journey. Again, Dark Angel calls upon the Darkforce and, in the next instant, he and the others with him are standing on a black sandy beach. A US Navy ship is stationed some distance off shore. Nearby is a SHIELD camp in which a team of techs are hard at work analyzing and experimenting. One of them, a hawk-featured woman with thin gray hair, puts down a radio receiver and walks toward the Avengers.
"I'm Doctor Bertelmann," she says in clipped words. "Agent Gyrich just notified me of your arrival. I've been instructed to place ourselves at your disposal."
"Hello Doctor Bertelmann. This is Delta V and Dark Angel and I, though appearances may be deceiving, am the late Doctor Victor Dumas. You may address me as Victor if you so choose. Could you provide us with an update on what you've discovered thus far and if you don't mind me being so forward, what is your specialty doctor, your name sounds familiar? Perhaps I've read a paper you've published?" Victor gives the woman a coy smile but maintains his business-like almost regal stature.
Bertelman nods curtly. "Right this way, gentlemen. My fields are xenobiology and bioradiology, and I doubt you've read any of my recent work. Mostly in house dee oh dee stuff." Inside the SHIELD tents, confusion seems to reign. "We're having a hard time collating any useful data. Too many variables keep varying from hour to hour, even minute to minute. Radiation levels and patterns, especially gamma, fluctuate wildly. The growth rate of the vegetation and appearance of new species is occurring at an almost visual rate. Same is true of animal speciation, but not at quite the same pace. This morning there were no trees or land animals at all. The center of the island is now a jungle, and Carson has caught several varieties of salamanders and numerous winged insects since breakfast."
"Perhaps Doctor, if you had read my profile more closely, you'd have seen that I actually did some work for the government when I first arrived in America. I imagine that is when I came across your name," Victor paused. "No matter, though, the task at hand is what is most important and most intriguing indeed," he said as he continued to read through the combined data.
Bertelman actually cocks an eyebrow and rolls her eyes, but does not comment.
Victor read through the data, "You see their are patterns in all things in the universe. Even chaos has a pattern and thus its just a matter of data collection and a passing of time that will reveal the secrets of what we are searching for here. I have some ideas on this, but I'll need to investigate the center of the island."
"By all means," she agrees.
Victor turns towards Dark Angel, "Dark Angel fly an every increasing circular pattern around the island for one thousand meters and then begin an investigation of the base of the island at the seabed floor and let me know what you find."
The Ebon Avenger nods. "It will be done." Then, with a single beat of his mighty wings, he rockets into the sky.
Then Victor turned towards Delta V, "Doctor could you go investigate the flora and fauna that has been collected thus far? I'll review their technical findings and investigate the center of the island."
Delta V shrugs. "That's what I came for. If someone could show me what to look at."
Bertelman gestures and a harried little man with wire rim spectacles speaks up. "Over here, sir. I'm Doctor Carlson. Most of our specimens are in this tent over here." Carlson leads Delta V away.
After speaking with Doctor Connors, Victor looks over at Emerald, "Could you accompany me to the center of the island when I go there in a little bit? I'll need to examine the eruption point and I think floating over it would best achieve the intended results."
"You got it," Rick says. "Ready when you are."
He turned back towards Bertelmann, "If you could provide me with your raw data that you have collected thus far, I will examine it. Also how many people do we have here and what are their abilities and what sort of equipment is at my disposal?"
As Victor listens to her answer he adjusts a hand held machine and starts scanning the island having his attention immediately drawn towards the center of the land mass. As he reads his findings he raises an eyebrow. His Ground Penetrating Density Spectrum Analyzer (patent pending) starts to show him with information that SHIELD would be unable to provide him with.
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© 2001 Mark L. Chance et al