Spacer Unfriendly Pillagers 9
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    Curt Connors stands stunned for a moment, surprised that his ploy worked so completely. The surprise lasts for only a moment, though, as he sees a figure sail through the air and into the East River. "That didn't look like a Viking," he says as his mind races with thoughts of how to help. Deciding on a course of action almost instantly, he puts his plan into action.
    The ladle dips into the water once more, searching for something more precious than water this time. At the same time Emerald hurls a blast of telekinetic energy at the blond man calling himself the god of deception.
    As the ladle speeds out over the river, a green blast of force flies from the bandana-wearing man, catching Loki dead center. The self-proclaimed god recoils from the blast, but doesn't appear unduly put out by it.
    "Foolish creature!" he shrieks. "Thou dare attack Loki!?"
    "Ne'er mind that one, Loki!" Thor says, flying past, heading towards Emerald. "I shall deal with him! 'Tis time for our departure! Ready the gate!"
    As Emerald's attention is drawn away from the rescue attempt by the rapidly advancing god of thunder, Curt Connors speeds down the pier, trying to get as much of a head start as possible, before he takes off directly into the river! "If I get enough of a head start, and run fast enough, I should be able to run on the surface of the water for a limited distance," he hopes to himself as he desperately tries to rescue the sinking man. Connors zooms over the water, his trail marked by a wake of white foam, until he reaches the spot where Darkangel sunk from view. The heroic doctor dives, swimming down several feet before he spots the white-skinned, unconscious figure of Darkangel. A few moments later, Connors breaks the surface, Darkangel in hand, and reaches out to grab hold of Emerald's energy ladle. Connors can tell that Darkangel has swallowed some water and that his left arm is broken, but he is alive and in no apparent danger of dying now.
    Overhead, the whirl of Valkyries has broken from their holding pattern and are heading out over the water and down river. On deck, Loki raises both hands, his arms and fingers tracing a complicated pattern in the air. As he does so, the dragonship impossibly rises smoothly skyward and begins to glide forward, flying about 50 feet over the water. A half mile ahead of its bow, the air shimmers, ripples, and bursts into a rainbow colored shower that fades to reveal what can only be described as a hole in the sky, beyond which can be see a dark, starry expanse cut by a rainbow of unnatural solidity.
    Meanwhile, Thor streaks towards Emerald, who dives for the nearest cover, hunkering down behind an automobile. Thor banks to a halt overhead, nearly centered on the battlefield, spinning his hammer overhead. Thunder rumbles. The sky is suddenly filled with thunderclouds. A night-like darkness falls as a torrent of wind, rain, hail, and lightning begins pounding the entire block.
    The car behind which Emerald is hiding explodes as a bolt of lightning cuts through its gas tank. Union's spinning, hardware projectiles, held in orbit around his body, are sent flying away, and Union himself is driven to the ground by the elemental onslaught. Even the mighty Captain America is blown off his feet and sent skidding a few yards down the rain-slicked sidewalk.
    "'Tis time to depart, Skurge!" Thor's voice can be heard echoing in the thunder as he swoops down, catching the Executioner's hand and bearing him aloft.
    Meanwhile, inside the Dragonship's hold:
    Memo to TS: *This needs some work.*
    Memo to Self: *I need some more practice. Tony'll kill me if I get killed on this jaunt....*
    Once the sparks have stopped flashing behind her eyes, Aegis sees that this section of the hold is partially full of a bizarre selection of Viking "loot" which includes a parking meter and a pinball machine, but she's alone for the moment. Above the pain, and somewhat worse, is the thought, *We've been going about this all wrong. Underestimated them.* But she knows better than to waste time regretting her tactical errors now; the thing to do is get the innocents out of harm's way, regroup, and do it right.
    Aegis engages the armor's AG so she'll be able to move silently and at a moment's notice. Judging from the size of the boat, there are at least five other chambers its size in the hold. In one of them these hyperarticulated primitives have a bunch of women they were evidently planning to carry off as spoils. Moving about an inch above and parallel to the wooden hull in hopes they won't look down, she takes a quick glance out the door the Vikings went through.
    The sudden lurch of the dragonship at begins to fly forward jostles Aegis a bit in the doorframe. Looking back, she can see the river growing more distant through the hole she'd punched in the ship's hull. On the other side of the doorway, there is a long hallway, apparently running the length of the ship. A half dozen doors lead off the hall, which ends in a steep flight of steps leading up to the deck.
    Curt Connors looks up into the air at the man who formed the green ladle. "Looks like he's not going to be much help to us with that huge Viking flying at him. I'll have to get us back to shore myself. I hope this ladle will last long enough to get us back to shore."
    With that last thought, Curt Connors sticks his legs back into the water and starts kicking furiously, trying to propel the ladle back to the pier.
    About half-way back to shore, the tempest explodes over the battle site, tossing men and debris, driving hail smashing windows and cracking concrete. Of course, there is also the amazing sight of the dragonship flying by overhead, heading towards the rip in the sky. There is a faint moan from Darkangel.
    "What happened?" Darkangel asks.
    The line of Valkyries are racing through the tear in the sky, outpacing the dragonship, their spectral cargo well in hand. The dragonship itself continues on at what is a leisurely in comparison. Thor, with the Executioner in tow, catches up with the ship, landing on its deck near Amora. Several feet from them, standing high on the bow, Loki lowers his arms and turns with a savage grin on his face. Meanwhile, in the belly of the ship:
    *What the...We're moving. Flying,* Aegis registers. No time left for dawdling, or for proper caution. She flies down the corridor, rapidly checking the other rooms in the hold for captives. Aegis finds, in the very first room she checks, two extremely frightened women shackled to the far wall by heavy chains about their wrists. They both shy away at first, but then one seems to recognize that Aegis is not one of the invaders.
    "For Chrissakes! Help us!"
    Aegis makes short work of the shackles, the metal bending and breaking easily under the her augmented strength. There is a lurch, as the dragonship suddenly picks up speed.
    "I can't fight this! I can't even stay airborne!" Union angles his descent towards the burning car, landing with a hard but not painful thump a few yards away. The gale force winds prevent any acrobatic maneuvering, but his agility is sufficient to let him move through the hurricane, inching his way over to the burning car, hoping that the braved, masked young man who put out the warehouse fire hadn't been critically injured by the car's explosion.

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© 1999 Mark L. Chance et al