*Stupid! Stupid! Stupid* During her beat of hesitation Adrian deduces what the armored young woman thought he meant at first, and he was blushing crimson under his helm. "My armor...umm...works off control of electromagnetic fieldsI can even...manipulate them at a certain distance, for picking up metal objects, or affecting electrical flows."
*Oh that was smooth.* Embarrassment had twisted Adrian's tongue around, like it always had. *Change the subject.* Union turned his head to his other companion "And how did you learn to do what you did? It certainly doesn't look mechanical."
By this point the trio had all but reached the other heroes.
Delta V tends to the Captain's wounds. "A gash like this would have killed a normal man, from loss of blood if nothing else. You should be grateful to be alive, so just try to relax and let me patch you up." Delta V notices some of the other heroes helping some people who are trapped in some kind of a car pile-up, and can't help but wonder about them. 'If I'd known there were so many others with abilities like mine, I might have tried to use my powers to help people sooner.' As he sees the heroes finishing up with their rescue and coming over to where he is, Delta V gets up and helps the Captain to his feet so that they may properly introduce themselves.
"We may not have won this round, but at least we stemmed the loss of life, and that's what really matters. You can call me Delta V, and I believe this gentleman is Captain America."
His strength slowly returning, his eyes spot a familiar form clustered together with the others he had nearly run into before the world had gone insane. Very deliberately, Darkangel draws a deep breath as he begins his descent. Meeting new people had never been his forte'. He had been perfectly happy working at the plant, one of the faceless masses, but that had all changed now hadn't it? "You better get used to it Sam," he thought. "If yer gonna be one of the 'good guys' you better learn real quick how to play 'nice-nice'."
On the other side of the battlefield, three men in normal street clothes and one woman in an obvious 'super hero' type costume walked onto the scene closely followed by another normally dressed woman with a young girl in tow. All were out of normal earshot to the future Avengers.
One man had a hand held reporter's camera with a large flash bulb, while another man dragged a news camera of sorts with him. The third man seemed to be in charge of the whole operation and actually carried a bullhorn. The group went over to a wrecked car that was run into a storefront. No one was in the car and it seemed as though the police didn't care about it or had approved their presense. One policeman actually approached the woman with the costume, while they were setting things up and apparently asks for her autograph.
The man in charge seems to direct everyone. One of the camera men opens the car door of the crashed car and the second woman helps the little girl inside the car and then steps away and out of view of the cameras.
After the cameras seemed to be set up, the man in charge could be heard yelling something through the bullhorn.
The woman in the super hero costume went around to the side of the building out of view of the cameras, then the heroes hear the little girl starting to cry even though she is in no apparent danger.
The movie camera seems to be rolling and the other man is snapping pictures when suddenly the girl is no longer heard crying and a second later, amazingly enough the costumed woman seems to appear with the girl passing through the roof and trunk of the vehicle as if they were both ghosts!
They watch as she drifts to the ground and sets the child down and they both materialize, no longer looking like transparent wraiths. The little girl runs to her 'mommy' off camera and the costumed woman looks on smiling as the man in charge yells out again.
"...And cut! Okay people that's a wrap. Great stuff Ms. Storm. The public with eat this stuff up!"
They seem to start packing things up and are talking amongst themselves.
Through the professional and noble efforts of the heroes and the authorities, the chaos of the waterfront is rapidly brought under control. Fires are extinguished. People trapped in cars are rescued. Those needing medical attention are treated on site and then rushed to nearby emergency rooms. The area is cordoned off and gawkers are kept at bay, including an increasingly large news presence.
The damage to the area is extensive. Buildings burned, facades destroyed, streets torn up, nearly every window broken. Even more distressing is the loss of life. All told, the Viking raiders killed seventeen people and another half dozen cannot be found. Presumably these, all women, were still aboard the dragonship when it vanished.
All signs of the raiders are not vanished. One Viking, badly injured by Captain America and abandoned by his cohorts, has been taken into custody. On the pier, next to a large, circular hole, lies a double-bladed axe used by Delta V to drop two Vikings into the river.
As the heroes work, they exchange greetings and thoughts, banter aimed at removing the sting of what will surely be painted as a disaster by the media, especially by the editors of the Daily Bugle. Banter aimed at removing the sickness over the murders and destruction. Banter that leaves many unanswered, perhaps unanswerable questions, including, "What now?"
As the minutes become hours, slowly the crime scene is secured, explored, documented, and gradually reopened to the public. The sun is setting by the time the heroes' work is done. While the heroes helped clean up and take care of things after the tragedy, Sue Storm made as much of the occasion as possible, talking to reporters and having her picture taken many times in her brand new clean costume. Some policemen standing nearby just shook their heads at the spectacle.
Slowly Darkangel descends, landing near the back of the gathering.
A voice attracts the heroes attention. It is a fire marshal, his face etched with weariness and a dull sense of shock. "You guys did all right," he says to the heroes. "If you hadn't got here when you did, no tellin' how much things coulda been. Thanks."
The hours of cleanup have seen Captain America's health and mood improved, if not fully restored. He just wishes that the looks on the faces of the survivors and rescue workers hadn't been quite so mixed. Sure, most had simply been grateful for the help and awed at superhuman power. A few had even seemed exhilarated that "Captain America" was on the scene.
But the faces that registered a touch of offense, or even scorn, towards the young man in the revered costume were neither few nor far between. A trace of that look hangs in the fire marshal's gaze as his eyes meet the Captain's.
Better start learning to deal with this now, man. "Thank you, Marshall. We're glad to do what good we can. You and the crews, here, are the real heroes." My God! Did I really just say that? Never mindKeep cool man, keep smilin'... He extends a firm handshake, which the fire marshal returns after an almost imperceptible hesitation.
"Thanks." The marshal's face livens up just a touch.
Aegis confines her response to a nodacknowledging both the thanks and the fact that despite their best efforts things are very bad. *Not exactly the kind of splashy debut we'd hoped for... oh, well, that's why SI has a PR staff, isn't it?*
His stomach slowly tying itself in knots, the pale man strides forward into the midst of the group of assembled heroes. "No time like the present," he thinks. His eyes lock on the fire Marshal taking the man a bit by surprise. For the first time the group hears the dangerous-looking Albino speak, in a voice completely at odds with his otherworldly features.
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© 1999 Mark L. Chance et al