*What are these people? The Captain hovers over his fallen opponent. I hit this guy hard enough to collapse a building, and he barely looks like he's seeing stars! There are too many of them for me to clobber individually. I need something big, something to hit several of them at once...*
Glancing around, Captain America spots the right tool for the job-a scrap metal barge at the dock by the factory. Taking advantage of the momentary disorientation in the wake of his surprise strike, he darts away over the reach of the nearest warriors. He flies over and hefts the barge up over his head.
Trying to gain as much velocity as he can on the short return trip, Captain America attempts to sweep the Viking-crowded area with the broad side of the barge. Tearing up pavement and sidewalk alike, the red, white, and blue avenger's improvised weapon slams through the throng of raiders.
The knot of Vikings goes flying like tenpins in all directions as Captain America literally plows through them, sliding to a halt nearly a hundred feet away, the barge laying crosswise in the street. Looking back, his jaw drops. Four of the Vikings are still moving, feebly attempting to crawl away in various directions!
"Not to worry miss. You're safe now." Union said, hoping his electronically modified voice wouldn't panic the poor woman more than she already was. He darted across the battle scene to drop the woman off near the approaching public servants, using the opportunity to scan the field of battle for an idea of what to do next...
*I can't even see the winged guy or the leader anymore in that darkness...The armored woman and the kid with the bandana are taking the battle to the longship itself...I don't even want to know what beached this ship...I need to get to those women before the Vikings hit the ship, but...Hey!*
"At last," a rough voice growls. "A foe worthy of mine attention." Captain America turns to see a gigantic, bald man. He stands at least seven feet tall and is perhaps half again has broad across the shoulders. In one meaty fist he clutches the haft of a vicious, double-bladed axe.
"Prepare to see why I am called Skurge the Executioner!" he bellows, charging forward.
Union shakes his head, a slight smile playing under his helmet. "Sorry buddy, but poser or no, no one gets a free shot at Captain America!" Union lifts himself to a good vantage point behind the charging Viking and locks his magnetic powers onto the raiders axe.
"How!?" the Executioner yells as the axe twists and bucks, yet remains, in his grasp.
With a level of courage and focus that would have seemed impossible to the young man in his former life, Captain America squares off and launches at his assailant. "I've seen enough of the work you monsters do, murderer! It ends, NOW!"
Captain America takes advantage of the distraction and lunges in, hammering a thunderous uppercut into Skurge's jaw, staggering the big man back several steps and then down to one knee.
Captain America says to Union "I don't know what you did, there, friend, but thanks! Who are you?"
"Call me Union. Now that this is..." Adrian's head swivels back when he hears Skurge speak.
"Well struck," Skurge growls, spitting blood, as he begins to rise.
It's impossible to see Union's shocked look as Skudge begins to rise under the Captain's phenomenal blow but, as always, his inhuman reflexes overcome any delay in his actions. The silver-clad hero drops suddenly behind the staggered Viking and attempts to lay a single finger alongside the warrior's head as he lands in order to deliver the flash and crack of his electrical touch to stun or incapacitate the powerful Asgardian.
But the cards are stacked against both Union and Captain America. The giant Skurge, in addition to being able to take a super-powerful punch, is also a warrior of incomparable talent.
"Bah! I hath fought in battles for more centuries than I can count!"
In a single motion, Skurge rises to his feet, spinning, and hammers a vicious punch to Union's head. Bright blue and yellow sparks erupt from Union's armor with each impact: the initial strike that nearly deformed his helmet; the shattering rainbow flash as the plate glass window spectacularly failed to halt his flight; the floor of the hardware store, where the suits charge arced harmlessly throughout the room, causing hammers to dance and saws to bend with odd, alien sounds; the far wall when the armored hero's back is forcibly reminded that inside the armor is a 60 year old man. To add insult to injury, the shelves over his head totter precariously and then surrender to gravity, pouring plumbing accoutrements atop him while he lies quietly for a moment to regain his equilibrium.
But that is not all. Skurge continues his spin, his axe arcing down across Captain America's chest, cutting through cloth and muscle alike. Captain America staggers a bit, but regains his footing, ready to fight on, but then looks down and notices that for a wound that causes so little pain, there sure is an awful lot of blood! Captain America looks back up just in time to see the back of Skurge's fist slam across his jaw, sending the star-spangled hero flying backwards to get tangled in a chain-link fence.
*Ow. Ow. Ow. That did not go at all as planned. I was supposed to hit him, he was supposed to be at least staggered, and the kid in the Captain America suit was supposed to be able to take him out with minimal effort.* The last of the washers fell six feet from their aluminum can to the now nearly buried Union, each striking with an almost musical tinkle. *And _I_ was going to chastise _HIM_ on wearing a particular costume. I may do that again... as soon as I have room to talk.*
"Need to get up, find out what's going on. Where the hostages are..." Adrian trigged three cybernetic circuits in rapid succession, reversing and amplifying the polarity of the armor. Under the sudden surge of blue-white energy the washers and nuts and bolts flew outward in an explosive pattern, then set themselves into a series of complex orbits around Union's rapidly rising form. "This would look a lot more impressive if anyone were here to see it..." Adrian thought as his feet found traction and he propelled himself back out of the store window and into the fray, holding the orbits around him for use as projectiles if the occasion arises.
The scene outside is staggering: bodies strewn everywhere; Vikings hieing their way back to their ship; Captain America tangled in a distance fence, bleeding from the chest; the police and fire department trying to cordon off the battle zone. *This is ridiculousthey've been here for five minutes at most and the carnage is incredible. They can get hit by 40 ton steel barges and get mildly rattled. They're tossing me and the other would-be heroes around the landscape. Forget trying to stop them for leaving. We have to get the women off the ship and just let them go. We can Avenge ourselves later when we know what we're dealing withif we wreck they're ship we're just stranding 30 or so super-strong invulnerable warriors in Manhattan, which is NOT a good plan.* Union slowly lifted himself off the ground to be able to dodge any other attacks. *Now I just have to tell the others that...*
Spitting concrete dust, Captain America clambers awkwardly to his feet, popping joints in the chainlink mesh tangle. His red and white striped cape is a tattered rag on his back. He grabs a spot of fencing with both hands crossed before his chest, and with a mighty yank, tears his shroud asunder. Bits of wire POP*ING away in all directions, and a spray of crimson from the young man's chest casts dark, wet, flecks onto the dusty rubble before him.
"Whoa! I barely felt those shots, but I'm bleeding a river! What is that, a magic axe? That's crazy! Man your whole life's crazy, quit whining and get to that ship!"
"Union!" He shouts to the electromagnetic hero emerging from the storefront across the street, looking a bit battered but armed for bear. "Can you play Bugs to his Elmer while I play chaperone on the Titanic?" He hopes these Vikings aren't hip to modern lingo. He likewise hopes that Union can make some sense out of his coded plan to make a beeline for the ship while Union keeps Skurge occupied....
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© 1999 Mark L. Chance et al