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Rebirth

#1
Though it was an exhausting effort like climbing a mountain, Marc’s eyelids opened, his brown eyes darting frantically back and forth. He could clearly understand that he was in the Mansion’s medical wing but death was so close that a glossy film kept him from seeing a better picture of where and what was happening to him. That was until he spotted a tall figure standing close to him though he could tell that the person was wearing some sort of dark coat, the blurriness in his eyes could only tell him that the figure was tall and leaving a silhouette of black.

Marcus was the only thing that filtered through his broken mind. Marcus, it was a familiar name to him. Marcus, it was the name of a friend, a team member of the Avengers, one of the last original members of the starting Omniverse rendition.       

With a painful grunt, Marc latched his hands around Marcus’ trench coat pulling on his shoulders. Spector brought him close to his beaten face. For a solid moment, both sets eyes locked into a stare and it felt like it must have lasted for an eternity. Tears of pain and sorrow began to roll down the bloody cheeks of Marc’s face, his mouth trying to utter at least a single word but for a moment all he could do was struggle and cough thick blood.

“I- I’m sorry bro-ther.” He finally muttered blood dripping down from his chin, mixing with his stubble.  

-

“Well.” Steven gave a long sigh. “This is it, the entrance and God do I not want to be here again. The bird guy already creeped me out but seriously we have no idea what he’s done to the place since he’s kicked us out and I mean it’s dark and cold for even being near the area.”

All three of the men stood in front of the gaping entrance to the temple. Being near it the sky no longer had its sickly green tent but was replaced by a pitch black that compared to the dead of midnight where the twilight was its darkest. Being close to the temple it was obvious and almost expected that it had a resemblance to an ancient ruin, one closely related to Egyptian structure to note.  

To Marc, the brown rock and ruble that made up the place were familiar as almost as if he should know the place. However even as hard as he tried, memories were not coming back to him and it was getting harder to even think.   

“Quit your yappin’ Steven and grow a backbone. So what if Koko bird made changes to the place, ain’t nothin gonna scare or stop us.” Jake replied turning to his left facing Steven. “Besides Marc and I can handle whatever's thrown at us. Am I right or what Marc? ...Marc?” He asked turning around to the man, a concerned expression written over his face.

Taking only a few steps he placed a right hand on Spector’s shoulder. 

“You alright pal?” He asked.

Marc shook his head snapping back to attention as if he had been day-dreaming during the whole conversation. 

“I’m sorry Jake I- I missed what you said I think- I think we should… Move on into the temple and do what needs to be done quickly. I’m not sure but something doesn’t feel right.” His head and body felt light like he was sick and coming down with some sort of flu. His skin even turned pale. Jake face turned from confused to a stern serious expression. Taking a step he placed his other hand on Marc’s shoulder.   

“You need to stay with me Marc, you need to hold on, just hold on.”

-

“Just hold on Marc, Just- Just hold on. The others are coming to help I promise, just don't die on me, please… Please!” Marcus pleaded, both hands holding Spector’s right with a firm grip. Once again his eyelids reopened as if listening to the Terminator’s earnest begging.

“You are an Avenger.” His voice rung out hoarse in tone. “You are a man, not a machine.” And like a light switch his conscience went out.

Marcus tightened his grip harder, tears running down his cheeks.

-   

“Marc, come on pal stay with me, Marc!” Jake said shaking him.

With a deep breath filling his lungs, Marc’s skin turned from pale back to a more flushed and lively skin tone and his eyes locked with Jake’s.

“We need to move… Now.” He finally answered giving a somewhat shocked but blank face back at Jake.

“A-alright,” Jake sighed in relief. 

Slowly his fingers unlatched from Marc’s white suit coat and he took a step back. 

He can feel it already,  this was going to be a long journey and it's going two take all three of them together to make it to Khonshu. Steven was also right. They absolutely had no clue what the god had done to the place, minus the changes outside the temple. For all, they know the temple could easily become their tomb. And Marc’s space-outs weren’t a good sign either. Whatever Khonshu was doing in the physical plain, it surely didn’t spell anything good especially for it being enough to cause at least one of them to blank out. The God of Vengeance has to be stopped and whatever he's done physical or mental must be fixed. And besides just Khonshu there's also the pressing matter that in fact, the Avengers as a whole team needs help. They needed a silver lining, a call back to the good fight of truth and justice.  

Clinching his gloved fists tight Marc marched past the two others fading into the darkness of the temple's entrance. Quickly Jake and Steven scurried behind him, keeping a good following pace.          
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#2
This time, Cade had no qualms with making himself the center of the conversation. Shantae had shown off an insanely cool power, something Cade couldn’t help but respect. Now it was his turn. He motioned for Shantae to give him some space.


He had a goofy grin plastered on his face. “Back up a bit, I don’t wanna hurt you by accident.”

He didn’t have to dig deep. His excitement drew out the Apparatus quickly, almost as if it was just as eager as he was tos how itself off. The young man felt the blazing heat pump through his veins and every muscle fiber vibrated with solar energy. In seconds, his armor swirled up and bonded to his skin. It hugged his body underneath his clothes, leaving the otherwise imposing Centurion in his pajamas. He didn’t let that deter him, however, and the usual restraint he showed when engaging his armor went out the window. Lightning crackled off of the metal links and armored plates, burning tiny arcs through the air and spiking into the asphalt. He couldn’t help but laugh. The pure rush of adrenaline that always accompanied his transformation was exhilarating.

Centurion struck a pose as the energy faded and relegated itself to the thin channels that cut into his silver armor. His palms still crackled with the surplus that his internal ecstasy produced. He drank in Shantae’s shocked expression for a second before retracting his mask to reveal a goofy grin. 


“WOW.” Shantae kept bouncing in sheer enthusiasm.


“Right!?” Cade motioned for her to follow and he jogged towards the center of the courtyard. “Now check this out.”

He put one foot back and brought his right fist up to his chest. Cade took a breath, then let his armor take over. He pivoted and flung his fist forward. The punch itself was not special, but the force it produced was massive. A wave of force whipped around Centurion’s feet and yanked madly at Shantae’s hair. She ducked underneath her arms as puddles along the path they had taken were flung into the air as clouds of droplets. A cyclone of water, wind, and dirt burst out from where Cade had ended his punch and rushed down the path, slamming into the wall at its end.


“WHOOO!” Cade let out a shout as he bounced on the balls of his feet and shook his arms to dispense the excess energy.


Shantae, her purple hair wild and unkempt from the blast, had a broad smile on her face.

The young man placed his hands on his hips and sighed happily. “And that’s nothing! Just wait until I figure out this weird dimension’s weird physics, then I can really let loose.”


On his hip, the Centurion’s Avengers ID card buzzed. He reached into his pajama bottoms and pulled out the plastic quizzically. A tiny light blinked on the corner. He turned it around and over, confused.

“Everything okay?” Shantae whipped her hands through her hair in an attempt to fix it.

“I, uh… I’ve never used this thing before.” Cade squinted and stared at the card. “But its blinking, so…”


Suddenly, Cade’s HUD burst into starlight. The typical readouts remained blank or uncertain, but a new series of panels and indicators appeared surrounding the card. As he flipped around the ID, the information followed it. His armor finished interfacing with the ID card and he froze. It was a distress signal from Marcus. Cade furrowed his brow. Marcus was inside the mansion, what could have happened? He cycled through the screen that only he could see on his HUD. When he came across the team’s vital signs, he nearly panicked. Marcus’ heart rate was elevated, but Moon Knight’s was off the charts. The Silver Avenger’s breathing was rapid and his surface temperature was dropping rapidly. The young hero racked his memory for something Safeguard had told him once. 

“He’s going into shock.”


Shantae cocked her head. “What?”


“I have to go.” Cade pinged the ID Card’s location within the mansion and started rushing back through the courtyard.


“But…”

“I’ll be back, I promise!” Cade tried to ignore the cold claws gripping his chest as he ran back inside. “Hang out in the lobby until I get back.”


He entered a full sprint once he was inside. Cade boosted down the stairs, his armor’s thrusters helping him to bound forward. The wood creaked beneath his feet and he nearly crashed through a wall at the end of the hall. Turning sharply, Cade could see the location on his HUD blinking from within the mansion’s medical wing. He could see pools of blood peppering the floor in small footprints along with streaky red handprints on the walls. On the verge of panic, Cade recklessly slammed into the doors and threw them open. He was met with a frantic Marcus trying desperately trying to stanch Moon Knight’s bleeding. Red dripped from off of the stained gurney that Marc was laid out on, pooling into puddles on the floor.


“MARCUS!?” Cade rushed to Moon Knight’s side.

The Terminator stuffed as much gauze as he could onto an especially deep gash, but the blood soaked through in seconds. “He just showed up like this!”


Cade couldn’t do anything for a few seconds as he watched his team leader bleed out on the table in front of him. His ears were ringing, his body felt numb, and his armor was heavy on his shoulders. His HUD’s rapid blinking dragged him back into reality as Moon Knight’s failing vital signs burned themselves into the young hero’s brain. He took a deep breath and forced himself to focus. 

“Marcus, move over.” Cade sidled up beside his teammate and started helping to apply pressure on some of the wounds. “You ever pull a bullet out of someone before?”



“Yeah,” Marcus blinked, and reached for a pair of surgical tongs from an adjacent table.

“We’re double-teaming this.” Cade leaned close to Moon Knight. “I’m so sorry, man, this is gonna hurt like hell.”

Marcus dug the metal spines deep into one of the bullet holes, causing Moon Knight to involuntarily squirm, but he didn’t seem to wake up. Cade took the sudden movement as a good sign. At least he was still alive. He charged up his right hand, using the left to press heavy gauze onto as many wounds as he could. His palm started to warm up, then his fingers. His entire hand started to glow with heat.

Cade whispered before raising his hand. “I am so so sorry, Marc.” 

He plunged his fingers into one of the bullet holes, steam hissing up out of the wound. Moon Knight screamed. His entire body convulsed and he arched his back. Cade nearly lost his nerve, but this wasn’t the first time he’d had to pull a bullet out of a friend. He released his pressure with his left hand and shoved Moon Knight flat against the burney with his left hand.

“Hey, hey, you’re okay big guy. Almost there, you didn’t get shot too much. Marcus?”

Wright dropped another bullet into a shallow dish with the tongs, the crumpled metal joining two of its brethren. “That should be all of them.”

Cade extracted his fingers from Moon Knight’s torso, eliciting another pained cry. The young man swallowed his emotion and dropped the bullet into the dish with the others. His voice shaky, he grabbed fistfuls of gauze and handed them to Marcus.

“Okay, this is gonna suck but… We need to cauterize these gashes or he’s bleeding out no matter what we do.”


Marcus nodded.

The young Centurion took a deep breath, his burning palm hovering just over the bullet hole he had just emptied. “Its gonna be alright, okay? You’re gonna be fine Marc. Don’t die, please. You’re gonna be okay. Here we go, okay?”

Cade pressed his thumb against the broken flesh and the sizzling returned. Moon Knight started writhing again, grunting and crying out. Cade kept his hand steady, tears welling up in his eyes.

“Almost there, Marc! You got this, okay?” He pulled back his hand and Marcus hastily covered the seared hole with gauze. “Keep up with me here, Marcus. This is gonna suck.”


Centurion proceeded to sear shut as many wounds as he could, fighting his own pain as he desperately attempted to stop Moon Knight’s. He continued reassuring the Silver Avenger, but whether the man was conscious enough to hear it after the third cauterization, Cade couldn’t tell. Eventually he stopped moving, but the Apparatus’ HUD kept reading vital signs, so Cade didn’t let up. It took nearly an hour, but eventually Marcus had stitched up the gashes that Cade couldn’t cauterize. The two wheeled Moon Knight away from the main room and into one of the personal quarters within the medical bay. Cade, flabbergasted by all the machines he didn’t understand, left Marcus to handle the rest. The two men shook hands before the younger left. He didn’t want to leave, but he could feel his stomach turning and his chest tightening. 

Cade stumbled out of the medical bay and into the hall. He leaned up against the wall, panting for breath, but the mansion’s air felt like molasses. His chest kept tightening, crushing his ribs against his heart and squeezing his lungs. He gasped, crumpling down the wall until he was curled up beside the doorway. His head spun and the hall started shrinking. Cade desperately fought the feeling, anger trying to beat out the panic he was feeling. It couldn’t. He tried to get up and run away from what he was feeling, but he merely stumbled and fell again. He could hear screaming. First it was Moon Knight, but then it was Safeguard. Cade could feel his fingers digging into his best friend’s flesh. He could feel the bullet slide out of the hole as Safeguard desperately fought to squelch his agonizing cries. Cade could hear the gunshots outside as they mingled with bolts of energy and blood curdling cries for help.


Cade reached into his other pocket, his armor encasing his body as he pressed himself against the wall. He closed his eyes and hugged Gwen’s hat close to his chest. He ignored the screams, the rumbling artillery, and the screams of dying men. He ignored the scent of seared flesh and the weeping of his closest friends. He ignored all of it and just held the beanie. He focused on the hat and its owner. Hot tears streaked down Cade’s face, but he managed to find the strength to breath. His muscles started to relax, his hands aching from gripping the hat so hard. He stood inside his armor, where it was safe, and sat in the hallway for awhile. Shantae could wait. There was ice cream in the fridge. Cade just needed a moment to relax.

He missed home.
From Hawaii, With Love
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#3
“What? Hold on, what’s going on?” Shantae said with concern.

But her words didn’t reach him. He was already rushing his way to the mansion. She broke into a brisk walk and then eventually matched his running, easily keeping pace with the hero.

“Cade?” She called out again, but he didn’t hear her, he just kept running.

She followed him to the front courtyard of the mansion and was about to tail him through the front doors when she heard a small splash accompanying her step. She froze in place. She tilted her head downward and recognized the familiar crimson red color painting the walkway. A trail of it lead into the mansion.

She pressed both palms against the sides of her head.

“Oh no oh no oh no!” She exclaimed quickly scurrying inside, dodging the puddles of blood in her path.

She immediately sped for the kitchen. After a bit of searching, she pulled a plate from the cupboards and placed it on the island in the center. She pulled out her phone, accessing her inventory and plopping a big juicy gator steak on the plate. She tapped it, cold to the touch. She looked frantically around for a microwave.

It was then that she had a thought.

“Wait… Does eating food even heal in this world?” She asked herself.

Back home, if she was ever injured, she’d just need to pop a flesh pop in her mouth or something and immediately watch those wounds melt away from her body. But in this world she wasn’t sure. She knew she had to test it before she started stuffing steak down an injured person’s throat.

She focused, her omnilium pouring in front of her congealing into a rainbow ball. A few minutes it started to take form into a long thin blade with a hook at the end.

Her old scimitar from her pirating days. This time curse free and hers for the keeping!

She picked up the blade which had plopped in front of her and poked the tip of the blade onto her left pinky finger until it left a little droplet of blood. Then, she took a fork and knife from one of the drawers, sliced a big piece of the steak and gobbled it down as if she had never eaten in her life. This was apparently her usual speed. She watched her pinky, kind of expecting the wound to fade. When it didn’t. She kept watching.

After a couple of minutes, her eyes started to well up. She almost begged that the wound would go away. She even said a little prayer to Omni in her mind. But despite everything, it kept bleeding.

She yelled, her face pointing to the sky as if to call out a very vindictive ceiling.

“How do you help an injured person in this world then?”

Her face fell, literally. She planted it firmly on the steak in front of her. Usually she would enjoy a bed made out of something edible, but today was different.

“How do I… help them.” She cried out sheepishly, the words barely escaping the meat cushion.

A distant scream reaches her ears. She sunk lower, or at least lower than the food would allow.

“This is my punishment, isn’t it?” She said to herself, little droplets of tears salting the cold beef.

She remembered it, her failure before she was brought to the Omniverse. The genies, her mother… Her heart sank again, it sank all the way to her shoes this time.

“I couldn’t save anyone, so I can never save anyone...”

The thought of being so helpless, it broke the waterworks as her rosy red cheeks were flooded.

She remembered the mantra she adopted here the Omniverse. “Hero’s don’t cry.” She repeated it in her head, but it gave her nothing.

It was as she feared. She was no hero. She wasn’t a scoundrel either. She was something far worse.

“Useless...”







After a while of wallowing in her own self-hatred, she decided to keep her mind busy. Having the sword in front of her, she focused on summoning stuff, particularly her old pirate gear.

Or at least she thought about it. The hat would have been pointless considering she could float on her own thanks to her Magic Carpet pants. She tried for the boots, but she could feel Omni’s anti-debt protection ring in again.

“Oh come on, I can’t even buy SHOES?” She yelled in frustration.

She decided against summoning the cannon. Considering shoes were out of the question, no way Omni would let her get a canon.

Who knew children promoted financial responsibility so fervently?

She killed a bit of time by summoning a few abilities for her transformations that she had in mind. Nothing she could use immediately, so she couldn’t fill her dopamine fix. It didn’t even look cool summoning it as the omnilium just dissolved back into her. She knew the upgrade was made, but what’s the point of shopping if you can’t unbox it until much later?

She was about to give up and go back to her meat pillow wallowing when she remembered one thing from her old pirate gear she could probably buy.

The gun.

After so many instances of whipping enemies and coming just short, a ranged weapon in her arsenal was a breath of fresh air at the time. Especially when she upgraded it shoot balls of energy.

Oh god, that would be SO FUN to have in the Omniverse!

She closed her eyes, pressed her palms together. She imagined it. A flintlocke pistol. One with a belled barrel. The wood finish that couldn’t have been real.

She thought of ammo for the thing; large purple glowing balls that burn to the touch. Kills scarecrows like they are nothing.

She thought about the curse that it DIDN’T HAVE ANYMORE! She was very adamant that the thing DIDN’T HAVE A CURSE!

PLOP!

She opened her eyes and her flintlock pistol was resting atop the tear soaked steak. Her eyes lit up! She almost giggled at the sight of the thing. It’s been, too long…

She reach over and wrapped her hand around it. She lifted it up, that familiar weight gosh, so many memories. Most of them were just shooting bosses to death.

She had to test it. She just HAD TO. But she couldn’t fire at anything. She stood up and stepped into the middle of the portal that linked from the kitchen to the lobby. She scanned around looking for something the Avengers wouldn’t miss.

She eyed a piece of pottery in the corner of the room. Perfect! She’s broke hundreds of pots and no one ever complained!

She raised the weapon up to her eyesight and lined up it’s barrel at the vase. She breathed, focused. It’s been so long since she’s fired a gun. She breathed in and out. In and out, the barrel raising and lowered. She couldn’t afford to miss, not here. She has it in her sights. Raised. She squeezed the trigger.

“Please don’t destroy Avengers property!” Yelled a female voice.

This threw off Shantae, firing the weapon too far to the right. A coffee table of magazines exploded into scraps of paper, leaving streamers to fall through the air like the cheapest birthday decorations ever.

Shantae blushed as she saw what she just hit, then slipped the weapon back in it’s holster on her hip, and calmly pretended she doesn’t recognize the mess she just made.

A distance scream.

She grasped her head suddenly. She’s been so good at blocking them out why was she hearing them again now?

Another scream.

She reminded herself that there was nothing she could do. She was useless. Remember? She was use-

Scream.

Shantae’s feet took off, following the trail of blood. She wasn’t thinking anymore. She didn’t know what she was going to do once she got there.

She used her hovering to leap over large pools of blood, propelling herself with her powers.

But being a Guardian Genie was in her blood, and her heart beats for that one purpose; the one her race was named for.

She screeched to a halt in the view room of the medical center. She could see through the glass windows. A man was sending his robots to work on a bleeding man. He was screaming in pain.
Shantae’s brain was a mile back, it was nowhere near catching up. She couldn’t process if the situation was under control anymore. Did she trust that the man knew what he was doing?  Was he helping?

Then, she heard breathing beside her. She turned her head, and spied Cade on the ground. He was laying against the wall, curled up in the ball. He was cuddling some article of clothing.

Without thinking, Shantae walked over to him, got down on her knees beside him and pulled him into her arms.

“There there.” She said, hugging him. “You are not alone.”
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#4
The Terminator moved his eyes toward his clothing. They were ripped and looked like he actually murdered in cold blood but he was more focused on saving Moon Knight’s life. He stared over at the advanced tech. He’d only saw it when he laid on the table in John Connor’s tent and Kate was staring over him. But Dr. Wright sure had a kick to it, right? Hardly. The Terminator hardly even had the right qualifications to become the Avenger’s doctor and he was pretty sure Blair had a lot more experience than he did.

He wanted to cry, scream, or at least freak out on the inside and outside. Wiping off tears of frustration, he squeezed Moon Knight’s hand tightly. Moon Knight was a friend,  an ally on the “battlefield” of life in the Omniverse with him and by damn, he was going to do anything possible to make sure he stayed alive.

“Come on, you damn Skynet clones.” He yelled  “Save Moon Knight!”

He was sure he felt like a surgeon trying to save a patient.

For a brief moment, a flashback played out in his eyes it was of himself standing overlooking into the car as he was trying to save his own brother as he bent down, the car’s front looking crushed in. And then as soon as it had quickly come, it ended.

Fate and Destiny was a cruel word to the man right now.

Sighing, his eyes watched the screens show the readings of his friends health while his hand kept a  firm grip on  Moon Knight’s, no, his Avenger, his leader, his brother.

The pool of blood and handprints that laid across the walls reminded him of the pool of blood that he witnessed from his own brother the one of flesh and blood.  “Damnit, Marc. You know you are stronger than this, the team needs you, I need you.”

Searching, The half terminator dug out a medicine bottle and studied it.

“Interesting, Medi-gel.” He read its contents out loud. “Let’s see if this does anything.” He popped the cap and let the cool liquid fall onto Moon Knight. As it soaked in, the healing process seemed to speed up as Marc looked like he was breathing easier,  calmer than he was before.

He wanted to change his clothing but into what, exactly? The bloody clothes he would have to throw away. But he wanted to save his Resistance jacket but it already had caked blood on it.

“Screw it, I’m already bloody. It’s no shocker. I’ll just go upstairs and do it there.”

Once he made sure the robots finished their work peacefully he made sure they were watching over his team leader.  It is already likely he didn’t trust tech that much, not after Skynet, not after Judgment Day.  Content with Marc being stable enough, he shot his gaze to the medical-bots pointing at them with his right index.

“Watch over him,  Don’t let me come back and see you slacking off.”

The man turned again toward the door and moved toward the exit, quickly looking back to Moon Knight and nodded “You hear me, brother? Stay alive.”

Slipping out the door Marcus was greeted by the distressed sounds of  Centurion and the sounds of an unconfirmed, unannounced stranger comforting him.  Like the family awaiting news of their son or daughter coming out of straight surgery, the terminator breathed a sigh of relief

“Centurion, Uh, who’s this? I’ve never met this woman before.”

The last time he’d laid eyes on another woman like Blair was in prison and he eyed the new woman before him, studying them. She looked a lot older than Star, yet younger than Blair. She had Purple hair and some sort of red vest and pants. Marcus didn’t want to seem suspicious, but this woman was a stranger here so far.

Shantae looked at him, looked at Centurion, and then the taller man, .

“Hi! I’m the newest Avenger! My name is Shantae.” She said getting up off the floor.  

 Marcus raised an eyebrow and tried to retract from being too serious. He shrugged, shaking the shorter woman’s hand.

“Name’s Marcus.”He said in exchange retracting his own hand and he spotted the blood that it was soaked in.Taking a few steps down the hallway he turned his head,   looking back at the others.

“See you guys around the mansion.”

Marcus gave a slight nod and turned toward the elevator, making his way toward his own room to change. After the short elevator ride up, he stopped at his room and sat on his bed, like he hardly needed to sleep. He took his resistance jacket off and peeled off the bloody brown shirt he wore and threw it in the garbage. He focused on his own clothing and thought of a black tank top spawning it with omnilium and slipped it on. After that he slipped his leather jacket over it.

His pants, he did the same thing and thought of a pair of black pair of jeans and they too came down in his arms. He slipped the others off and slipped on the new pair.  He slipped on the new summoned pair of gloves and nodded letting out a low sigh. He still somehow was impressed at summoning stuff,  making it come out of nowhere. It was an amazing sight to see.

Once he was ready, he opened the door and stretched for a second, pressing the door for the elevator, waiting for the loud ding. He moved into the elevator as it came up and pressed down toward the medical wing.

As the elevator stopped, Marcus sighed and walked out of the elevator. “Hey, I forgot to tell you two. Moon Knight is stable, for now.”

Turning, he walked toward the med wing stepping inside, He was relieved to see that the robots were still moving around doing the jobs they were assigned to. Moon Knight looked like he was at least breathing,  sleeping for the long needed recovery.

Sitting beside Spector and held the man’s hand again, giving a single breath from his nose he spoke up.

“I’m back.  Hopefully, that means you are recovering fast.”

While Marcus was watching over Moon Knight, he unknowingly accidentally summoned a dog tag of some sort that listed his name on it. Fumbling it through his hands, his eyes peered into it, studying it.

“Huh? That was odd. I don’t recall these.”

He slipped the dog tag over his neck putting it underneath his jacket.

And with that, he spent the rest of the day in the mid-wing with Marc.
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#5
As the dramatic situation in the Avengers' mansion unfolds, Peter leans against the wall of a shady strip club adorned with large neon advertisements and booming with futuristic music. Crowds of people pass by him without a glance, being too focused on the bright neon lights and themselves to notice that Peter is badly beaten. His padded armor is crumpled in multiple places around his arms and upper torso, and he winces constantly due to the painful bruises that cover those areas. He frankly looks like shit, and he feels like shit too. What doesn't help his mood are all the bright lights that cover every corner of Tier 4. For a Tier that's constantly under nighttime according to Sinclair, it sure is damn bright. Speaking of Sinclair, that newfound friend of his is standing a foot away from Peter. He’s asking some creepy fatso if he knows about any nearby mansions. Peter hardly pays attention to the conversation. He'd rather carelessly watch the people passing by than know where his destination, nay, his possible future is. But then, his ears pick up a mention of Omnilium. The creepy informant knows of a mansion that fits Sinclair's description, but he's decided that knowledge of the location will only come with payment. Sinclair argues with him for a bit to no avail. He curses under his breath before digging into his pocket. Then he feels Peter nudge him, and looks to see Peter holding out a small orb of Omnilium. Sinclair accepts the offer and uses the Omnilium to pay the man.

"Hmmm, now I feel like talking." He says with a toothy smile that shows way too much of his gums as he rolls the Omnilium between his fingers and thumb. "The mansion's straight that way. Just keep walking, you can't miss it. Now if you'll excuse me--" He eagerly turns around and heads into the strip club with a bounce in his step.

Sinclair pinches the bridge of his nose and makes an exasperated sigh. It's been a long day. He turns to Peter. "Thanks for paying." He pauses for a moment to take in Peter's pained appearance. "How are you feeling?"

"Like I've been beaten with sticks." Peter says plainly. "We going now?"

Sinclair internally forgives Peter of his rudeness. Most people would act worse after such a rough day. "Yes. Let's go." He says before leading the way for Peter. For a few minutes, they walk silently through the city stuck in the nightlife. Then Sinclair asks, "What do you think of Tier 4?"

"It's certainly better than Tier 5, but I get a dirty feeling just from being in this place." Peter says as he watches a drug-addled streaker running from a couple stormtroopers on the opposite sidewalk. Sinclair takes one look at the scene before turning his head away in disgust.

After a few minutes, they stop in front of an open gate built into a concrete wall. Behind the gate, they see a very splendid mansion. Its brick design and lack of neon signs makes it stick out like a sore thumb. "This is definitely the right place. The talk shows always criticized the Avengers for preferring ancient architecture." Sinclair says. Both men are so tired that it takes them a moment to notice something's wrong. Peter notices it first.

"Sinclair, the front door..." He points at it. The front door's been left wide open. The two of them then notice a blood trail leading from the sidewalk into the entrance.

The Shadow Director is silent for a moment. He places his hand on one of his pockets, which contains a blaster he took from the slain gang leader. "Perhaps it's something. Perhaps it's nothing." Sinclair says. "Proceed with caution." Both men carefully walk through the gate, across the courtyard, and up to the front door. Peter peeks into the entrance and sees a wide-open lobby. It looks big enough to contain a hundred people at once, but there's not a single soul in there. The blood trail leads into an elevator, and further arousing Peter's danger sense is a smashed-up table surrounded by piles of paper scraps.

"It looks like there was a fight in here." Peter says without looking away. With those words, their instincts take over. Peter and Sinclair pull out their pistols and head inside. They follow the blood trail to the elevator while keeping watch over their surroundings. At the elevator, they look at its console and take note that the 2nd floor button is stained with bloody fingerprints. Peter presses the button, and they take the blood-smeared elevator to the 2nd floor, where the blood trail continues through a hallway. They keep their ears keen as they go through the hall at a medium pace, stopping only to carefully check around each corner. Each minute that passes feels like three to them, and though their tiredness isn't on their minds, it's clearly slowing them down. Even though the Shadow Director is the oldest of the duo, Peter has more trouble keeping up due to his injuries. Eventually, as they head to yet another corner, they see two individuals emerge from it. Peter and Sinclair slide to a stop as they make eye contact with the other duo, who were in the middle of mopping up the blood trail before noticing their uninvited guests. For a brief instant, both groups stand a few feet apart and stare at each other in shock. One of the individuals is a young tanned man wearing pajamas and standing at about Peter's height. The other is much more unique. Peter thought he got a grip on the kinds of people to expect here, yet here stands this short tan woman with a long eggplant-colored ponytail and an innocent look in her eyes. She's nothing at all like the other people Peter's seen in Coruscant.

In the next instant, the young man reacts by slamming his mop into Peter's pistol, sending it flying out of his hand. Shantae, following his example, whips Sinclair's blaster out of his hand with her hair. "What the hell are you doing here?!" The young man shouts.

Realizing their mistake, Peter and Sinclair quickly back away and raise their hands. "Hold on!" Sinclair says. "We came here to talk, but the sight of the front door being open and the blood trail leading into the mansion caused us to believe that there was a dangerous situation taking place here."

The young man looks at Peter and Sinclair for a few moments. Though they both have a hardened look to them, they aren't behaving suspiciously. They simply look like two people who are embarrassed to find themselves making an innocent mistake. He settles down. "Alright," he says in an exasperated voice. "What did you come here for?"

Sinclair and Peter let their arms drop. They're silent for a moment. Sinclair turns to Peter. "Well, Peter?"

Peter realizes he's up. For a moment he feels awkward, but the feeling quickly passes. He steps forward past Sinclair and says, "I came here to ask if there is a position I can fill on your team. I have just been summoned to the Omniverse by Omni, but I’ve already seen enough of Coruscant to know that this Verse is plagued by evil. I’d like to help make this city a better place."
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#6
“Go ahead and take your dirty blood money! I just hope you’re proud of yourself!” The sister of the beast shouted at the Moon Knight.

“Don’t listen to her, Marc. Sure, he’s her brother… But he’s still just a freak-- Just a beast… Why worry about a beast?” The committee's leader scoffed behind Spector. 

Pocketing his well-earned money Moon Knight watched as the beast snarled, growling in his cage. The werewolf, the vicious beast, was still a boy. Stepping close to the cage the wolfman latched its claws around the cage’s bars barking rabidly at the silver-clad man. 

“Just a beast, all right…” Quickly he turned back facing all of the committee raising his right hand he pointed at the beast while with his left pointing at them. “But at least and more honest beast then you slimy slugs!! At least a beast with guts! A beast who fights to be! And that’s the kind of fight I’ll support!” The Moon Knight shouted at the top of his lungs rage filling his very soul. His kick came swiftly, to quick for the eyes of the committee to witness but lo and behold the cage’s bars were bent and the animal was free to do whatever it pleased.    

-

Gasping awake Marc swallowed and blinked as he clambered to his feet. His body felt horrible like someone had beat him a bat or worse. Stumbling around in the dark he tried to find his bearings and figure out what the hell had happened. 

“Jake!” He shouted gritting his teeth he wrapped his right hand around the side of his head as if to relax a skull-bursting headache.  

“Steven! Anybody!?... The hell happened here?” Marc whispered, asking himself. Taking another step through the darkness of God knows wherever he shouted slipping forward over some sort of stone rubble. Collapsing hard into the sand and dust filled ground his headache grew in intensity this time not a dull throbbing pain but a sharp one just like as if someone had stabbed his very brain with a knife and not only was there the discomfort of a headache but a buzzing in his ears.

-

“So… how is he?” Cade asked Marcus pocketing his hands in pajama’s pockets.

“And I hope he’s alright,” Shantae added to the Centurion’s question. 

“He’s… He’s doing fine but the medical bots say that his body is running a fever.” Marcus answered putting both hands on the cot’s bottom frame.    

“Do we know if he’s going to make it through the night?” Peter asked.

Marcus turned his head to face the new member and shrugged. Stepping past Shantae Cade kneeled down getting close to his leaders face.

“Marc I need you to stay with us man, I know you still have some  fight in you, just come on man stay with us.” He whispered into Spector’s ears tears dripping down his cheeks. 

-

“Marc stay with us, Marc!” Jake bellowed out his voice far away. 

The stench of death and rot violated Spector’s nostrils as dozens of glowing green-eyed mummified monsters climbed upon him screeching into his face dragging him down to the slabbed floor. 

“Come on Marc! Fight them off of you!” This time Steven shouted for him. 

Gritting his teeth Marc shouted reeling his feet up. Slowly he raised up off the ground pushing serval of the creatures off freeing himself to stand up straight. Past the dozens of mummies, Jake and Steven stood only several feet away from him.

“You got this pal! Come on we’re almost to Khonshu!” Jake shouted smashing a torch into an incoming mummy sending it to cinders from the ancient dried wrappings. 

With another forceful shove, Marc was free of the lumbering monsters and darted for his friends but was halted by the claws of a lunging  mummy, quickly reacting the creatures attack Spector latched his right hand onto its throat lifting it off the ground above his head and with a swift yank of his left the creature’s decayed guts and green-black juices fell out, pouring into the man’s face. The creature had been completely ripped into two.

Panting heavily Marc shot his gaze up to the bird-beaked statues towering over him, for a moment it felt like they were watching him, surrounding him and then Marc’s eyelids widened at the sound of cracking against itself. No matter how fast of a reaction he couldn’t escape it, the bricked ground below his feet gave way and the man came with tumbling down into a dark descent. 

-

Opening his eyes Marc grunted forcing himself up off the sand and dirt. Holding his right bicep he shuffled forward, his brown eyes narrowing to a gold glowing light shimmering in front of him. Its glow dimly lighting his path towards it. 

I love you, Marc Spector. A soft female voice faintly spoke whispering in his head. His breathing heavy Marc stepped closer to the light.

Told you time and again… That I loved you. Another voice, male this time came through his head. Marc kept pushing himself, just another step, one more and he’ll be there.

The boys are… Well boys, thanks, you’re a good man Jake. The voices they just kept coming and coming like a broken record or a song played on a loop.

Could it be that this unveiling forebodes the return of the Lunar Legionnaire? More… Voices, Almost to the light, the golden beautiful light. 

You fighting criminals, I being a criminal. You changed me for the better. I became one of you and for that, I gave up my ways. Who were these people? What do they mean? What do they want!? 

Just because a plan fails does not mean the person has. They all had to belong to someone. They did, don’t they?  Marc cried out his eyes and teeth scrunched up as he forced himself to push onward.   

We saved lives tonight, and sure, we made a lot of noise doing it, but I'll be damned if a bunch of space Nazis are gonna tell me how to do my job. Maybe you need to man up and stop living in your own head. He pushed, pushed as hard as he could, pushed harder than any normal man could. The light, it was close, close enough to where he could feel it shine on him. It was like the warmth of the sun on a summer day. Opening his eyes he saw it in splendid blinding glory and panting heavily he peered into it. 

Inside, the light dissipated and upon him in his very gaze laid a slab of stone. Carved into the stone were hieroglyphics and each image of its own told a story to him-- a story of life-- the life that was Marc Spector’s. Gasping Marc spoke his tone smooth and clam as his being remembered each and every detail. 

“I am Marc Spector, I am Jake Lockley, I am Steven Grant, I am Moon Knight. And I have friends just like Frenchie, Gena, and Crowley but not only them. There was Marcus, Cade, and Dust all of them who I can trust until the end of the world.” A smile began to grow upon his face. “I have a love and she is beautiful, cunning, and strong. Marlene Alraune was her name and I love her.” Marc’s smile began to fade. “And I understand the wrongs and evils I committed in the past but as time moves on without me… so must I.”   

“Moving words... For a lunatic.” 

Marc’s eyes widened in surprise turning around he almost couldn’t believe what-- who was standing before him. Standing upon a fallen pillar the Moon Knight’s masked eyes peered into Marc’s being.  

“I’ve been watching you ever since you entered the temple moving about with the others searching for our master. I will not let you go any further. No, right now where we stand is where it all ends.” The Avatar of Khonshu spoke in a harsh tone his right hand pointing at Marc. 

Marc’s surprise washed away, instead, replacing it was a scowl, his brown eyes narrowing to the Moon’s knight. 

“What did you do to the others?” He asked. 

“They’re fine, as for you though I can’t say the same.” Moon Knight answered stepping down from the broken stone pillar.  

“You don’t have to do this, I don’t want to fight you. Just let me pass, Just let me get to Khonshu-” 

“No!” Moon Knight shouted cutting Marc’s words off. Like a flash of white lighting, the avatar of Khonshu went into a full sprint towards Spector landing a solid right hook that crashed into his jaw. 

“You’re sick, broken by many years of madness.” Moon Knight spoke laying out a left hook, keeping Spector from recovering after the first hit.

“Did you think coming here to stop our god would free you from the very thing that you run away and cower from?” He continued, pain and stinging words tore into Marc’s body as the Fist of Khonshu collided another right hook with his face. The sticky feeling of blood came dripping down from Marc’s noes.

“Khonshu was right, you are a weak coward.”  Moon Knight came in for another blow with his left fist cutting through the air before coming to a dead halt. 

“You’re wrong!” Marc shouted his right arm blocking the assaulting fist, with all the force he could muster Spector jabbed his left fist into the Moon Knight’s masked face, the force itself knocking the avatar back several inches. 

Shouting Marc didn’t stop with just his punch, going into a full dash he forced his body onto Moon Knight tackling him, both crashing hard into the ground. Dust and sand kicked up as they both wrestled, shouting, tumbling, and rolling on the ground. Being the first to gain an upper hand in the struggle, Moon Knight landed himself upright bearing both knees into Marc’s chest punching him twice in his already bloody face. Shifting his body Marc latched both hands onto Moon Knight’s arms and with a forceful shove flipped the protector of the night over. Shouting Marc began his own assault before Moon Knight was able to wiggle a foot free, kicking the man several feet off of him. 

Rolling a few feet away Marc grunted pulling himself up off the ground and wiped off some of the gushing blood from his nose. The blood staining the sleeve of his white overcoat. Laughing the would be Moon Knight dug his gloved hands into the sand and dirt clawing his way in the opposite direction of Spector. Panting heavily Marc slowly inched his way towards Moon Knight. Reaching the nighttime avenger Marc’s left hand’s fingers clutched onto Moon Knight’s hood and pulled him up to face Marc. 

“Go ahead... try it... kill me… You know you can’t. You and I are both the same beings and we have both been dead for quite some time. Not only that but Khonshu and that thing he called Omni won’t let us finally accept our peace and die for good. We did some messed up things in our past, things that you shouldn’t get second chances for. No, we should be rotting Hell.” Moon Knight said lowing his head.

Reaching out with his free hand Marc yanked off Moon Knight’s mask and underneath it was proof of what he had said. The flesh upon Moon Knight’s face was shriveled and colored in the green-brown tent of decay.  

“You’re right,” Spector answered.

Looking up Moon Knight gazed into the sight of himself. Marc’s lively appearance had been replaced by an almost fleshless grimace. And with no lips, only his teeth moved as he spoke. 

“We are the same person, you are the last piece of me and you are correct, we did die all those years ago but we can not let our past haunt us forever. Perhaps we do belong in hell but at least as our body still lives we can still do as much good as we can but that can’t be done while Khonshu still controls us. Tell me where is he?” 

Moon Knight lowered his head once more and gave a long sigh.

“Behind me, you will find a golden door. What lies behind that door is our master.” Finishing his words they both locked eyes for a moment before Moon Knight faded away like sand in desert storm.  

-

Stepping close to gold engraved door Marc took a slow deep breath preparing himself for what he would face behind it. Raising his right boot up he kicked and the door swung open with a cloud of dust and sand. A sense a familiarity washed over him as he stepped inside. The Chamber itself was an almost empty room broken pillars and assorted rubble patterned it and sand made up for flooring. In the center of the chamber was a stone throne, above it was a large yellow glowing orb that pulsated with energy and floating inside of was the bird skulled being himself- Khonshu. This very room was the epicenter of Marc’s very own mind. Taking notice of Spector the moon god descended from the orb and landed just in front of the throne.   

“My son, have you come to thank me for what I had offered?” Khonshu asked folding his hands behind his back. 

“No,” Marc answered keeping at his pace towards the god.

“What? What do you mean no?”

“You tried to block me and the others out of my own mind! And you lied and used me for your own personal vendetta. I thought you’d use my body for good but instead, you wanted to use it so you could freely roam once more.” Spector said pointing at the aspect of vengeance.

“My son-” 

"No more excuses, we end this now!” Marc shouted cutting Khonshu’s words off.

“Very well you insolent child!” Khonshu’s words boom with power that reverberated all around the room. Taking a step the god’s bird skull and white suit morphed into an appearance that more closely resembled his priest's but instead of pieces of armor was Khonshu’s radiant white chest was bare. Upon his back was a white cape that flowed in the air, set firmly on his hip was loincloth and laying on his blank white head was an Egyptian headset.       

Taking another step the Moon God raised his right hand high into the air. Inside his hand formed a white scepter with a crescent moon at its end. With a sudden jolt, he threw the scepter as if it were a spear. Cutting through the air the scepter collided into Marc.
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#7
Marc drew out a slow breath as he warily took a step in the white landscape encompassing the entire area that the man stood in. Taking another step, he realized that he must have been dead. Whatever Khonshu had done outside in the real world and the civil war inside his very own mind must have done the trick. Finally, he was in what passed for heaven in the Omniverse. Peace could finally be achieved. Yet however much he wanted that, there wasn’t any way he could. Peace wasn’t a thing he earned yet, not with there being so much more that he could do. No, the end can’t be near!

Moon Knight took one small, last step, tears of joy trickling down from his cheeks. A large smile even grew upon his face. Just standing a couple of feet away from him was a woman whose blond hair flowed in the air. To Marc, she was the most beautiful thing his brown eyes had ever seen. Getting closer to her, she smiled back at him.

“Marlene?” Marc asked, his voice soft and full of joy. 

“Yes, Marc.” She answered. 

He got closer and embraced her, with his arms wrapped around her waist. His brown eyes stared back into her blue. 

“Is it… really you?” He asked. 

“Yes… but only because this is the deepest recesses of your mind.” Marlene answered, her voice soft like music to Spector’s ears.  “The chamber you and Khonshu battle inside is the focal point of your mind. The point where your unconscious state enters as the entire temple was where you died.” 

“Marlene I- I forgave myself, I miss you. Can’t I just stay here with you, instead of this Omniverse where I am alone?” He said, tears began forming in his eyes once more.      

“I’m sorry Marc but you know we can’t and you know you’re not alone, you will never be alone.”

“You’re right, but what else can I do? The world, this Omniverse needs help, and everywhere I turn it fights back and I’m back to square one. Where do I start, Marlene? How do I help those who are in need of me?” He asked, his hands behind Marlene’s back clenched tight into fists.

“You can start by setting your mind at peace, coexisting with each of your personalities. Including Khonshu.” She answered back.

“But how?” He asked.

“Marc, you already know how, you and Khonshu are the same. You have always been one, you must put aside the differences and become one because if you don’t, the darkness that is to come will swallow you and everything that lives upon this world.” She answered his question once more, breaking off from his embrace. Marc gave a nod in an understanding of what she meant.   

“Will, I ever see you again?”

“Yes… Someday. Remember, Marc, you are the only one with the key to your mind. You are the Moon Knight.” 

-

“I am the Moon Knight.”

Marc’s hand’s clutched tightly upon its shaft bracing the scepter away from him as his body flew through the air like a speeding silver bullet. His bicep muscles bulging in his intense effort to keep the weapon at bay from stabbing right through him. Golden yellow energy arched around it, making contact with Spector burning at his hands and sending pain that echoed throughout his own body. His pain and effort resulted in a scream that filled the entire chamber until coming to a complete halt when Marc and scepter crashed onto the ground, creating a crater or pure energy that disbursed with a flash into the air only seconds from the sandy ground.    

Dust and sand hung in the air from the aftermath of the impact, hiding whatever result Khonshu’s scepter made. The god himself narrowed his glowing blue eyes waiting to see if the deed had been done. To his distaste, however, the debris floating in the air cleared, standing in the crater was no longer just Marc Spector but Khonshu’s avatar, the Moon Knight. Panting, the Moon Knight slowly brought his white hooded head up his mask’s white eyes scolding at the god. Warm smokey steam rose from his black and white suit, his armored chest piece steadily rising up and down before his panted breath settled. 

Just several inches away from the Avenger’s feet Khonshu’s scepter laid flat on the ground. Pointing his hand outward the God of Vengeance summoned the scepter back into his grasp. In a torrent of golden electricity that resonated from the scepter, the god’s appearance changed in a blinding white flash. Sitting upon his body laid pieces of various ornate alabaster white armor. Uptop his head was no longer the cliche Egyptian headpiece replacing it was a helmet in the shape of a bird skull. 

“For centuries I have waged war against the evil and wickedness that has plagued the mortal world and like the hundreds of others before, you will not stop me.” The god’s voice reverberated throughout the whole chamber.

“Quit deluding yourself!” Moon Knight shouted pointing his right index finger at the god. “Killing them will only bring you to their level, stop this madness Khonshu and let our minds be split no longer.” 
    
“Insolent child! Bringing our mind back into one would only destroy us both. My dear Marc, you know your mind is broken, you’ve even agreed upon this yourself. I am in control because you need me. My control is what will save you and the Avengers from ruin, it will save this world from the black heart of darkness that is evil.” Khonshu said his hands rising with each syllable. 

“Listen to me Khonshu, I have foreseen a darkness that waits in the shadows. You have seen it as well and you know that this Omniverse and maybe even the multiverse, home! isn’t safe! Let me back in control and set our mind whole, perhaps then can we stop it.” Moon Knight pleaded.

“You underestimate my power boy! I will meet this darkness and then slay the evil and corruption that it brings. Now stand aside the control of your mind and body are but a means to an end.” The Moon God said, each word booming louder throughout the temple room. 

“If you will not listen to reason, then I show you reason.” 

Bringing both hand’s in level with his face Moon Knight balled them, creating fists. This was the moment that all his mindscape had prepared him for. This moment would be the triumph over madness and rebirth into a being of new. A being that brought hope instead of unwanted violence. Truth instead of lies. Justice instead of corruption.  

Shifting both hands Khonshu brought his scepter into a defensive stance. The god waited for human’s pounce.

“Do your worst my son, in the end only one of us will leave as the victor.”

Taking a deep breath in then slowly out Moon Knight snatched out his clad white staff twirling it to his right side as he motioned into a charge after Khonshu. The pursued as well, bolting for the Silver Avenger. Nearing close to each other the Moon God swung hard to his left causing Marc to duck under the blow, this, however, left Khonshu open. Veering his staff overhead Moon Knight brought it crashing into the right of the god’s torso. Khonshu himself made a scoffing noise either from pain or mere disappointment.  

In the excitement of battle, the Avenger was just bearly able to dodge Khonhsu’s returning swing. Not enough time to give out a following hit Moon Knight was caught off guard completely as Khonshu stopped his scepters arching right swing in mid stroke and instead jabbed it forward locking its crescent blade onto Moon Knight’s chest. With a forceful shove, the man found himself being lifted up off the ground. Khonshu held onto the scepter tightly before moving several feet forward, the force of his push sent Moon Knight shooting off of the crescent blade and into the air then crashing hard onto the ground with his back.      

Reeling in pain Marc rolled over pulling himself up to one knee. Turning to face the oncoming god he gritted his teeth behind his mask. Plunging to his left the Silver Avenger narrowly missed the scepter as it cut past the back of his head. With a vicious growl, Moon Knight jabbed his right fist into the center of Khonshu’s stomach this time instead of scoffing noise the deity let out a grunt. Not stopping there Marc accompanied the hit with a rocketing uppercut. The fist’s collision causing Khonshu to stumble back a few inches. Not dazed but annoyed, the God of Vengence, with one hand, swung his scepter wildly to the right before smashing it into the ground with an overhead swing. The series of attacks forced Moon Knight back onto the defensive causing him to spring back out of the way. Not letting Marc get the upper hand again he dashed in close, striking his fist square into Moon Knight’s jaw with a powerful left hook that launched him, crashing into a fallen stone pillar. The pillar itself crumbling underneath him as his back drilled into it. 

Bringing his scepter back to his level Khonshu faced his son motioning towards him and shattered column. Stepping close he pointed the scepter’s blade at Marc’s face.

“Maybe I should have chosen Bushman over you,” Khonshu said looking down at Marc.

“Maybe you shouldn’t gloat when the fights not over!” Moon Knight shouted.

With a sudden flick of his wrist, a crescent dart whistled cutting through the air before making its mark into Khonshu’s face. Reeling back from the surprise hit Marc took the gained precious seconds, heaving onto Khonshu smashing him hard into the ground, knocking the wind out of his breath.  

With a quick cry, Moon Knight created an onslaught of left and right hooks and jabs that repeatedly pelted hard into Khonshu’s face. In pain and retaliation, the Moon God jabbed his fist into Marc’s face throwing off balance, completely tearing his ebony mask from his face in the same process. Flipping onto him Khonshu brought his right fist down, in the struggle missing Moon Knight’s head. Khonshu's fist crashed into the ground cracking the solidified dust and sand underneath it. The entire temple slightly shook from the raw power in the punch. Khonshu’s second attempt to hit Marc was a success, resulting in the man gritting his teeth from the pain.

“It’s time to put somewhere where you won’t stop me, at least not until my mission is complete.” Reeling both hands towards Marc’s head golden electricity started to form from his palms. “I am sorry my son.”       

Rining in his ears Marc was unable to hear what Khonshu was saying. With a low growl, he strained to keep Khonshu’s hands at bay. 

“No!” He screamed, with a solid left hook to Khonshu’s face he flipped back on top of him and reached his own hands for the god’s head. 

“Marc, listen to me, I am your only chance to save the Avengers,”  Khonshu said, struggling to keep the Silver Avenger's hands away. 

“No, you listen to me! Jake Lockley, Steven Grant, Marc Spector, and you must coexist in the same mind, if not then we’ve doomed everything.” Marc’s hands got closer the gold energy crackling in his fingers. 

“But my son your mind is broke, only through me can it be fixed, you need me, Marc!”

“No, I’ve never needed you, because everything will be alright because we must be set into place.” Marc’s hands reached the Moon God’s temples, yellow arches of energy arch all around them in a vortex as both their bodies began to rise into the air towards the glowing orb in the center of the chamber.

“Our mind must be in unison or the darkness that is to come will swallow us and everything whole.” 

“Then so be it,” Khonshu said changing his appearance back to his bird skull form.

The whirlwind of yellowish energy generated a hum that got louder and louder until the sound resonated throughout the entire temple. The energy sparked and arched in all directions until finally with all of its power, the vortex busted its electric energy blasting a wave that soon swept past the entire building and then with a blinding white flash, there was only darkness.
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#8
The Danger Room had remained silent and dark for a long time. It was an almost reverent quiet. Everything was grey and still, now devoid of its AI. There was a distinct scent of ionization in the air as the holographic projections in the center of the room flickered. The anomaly, black and brutish, hunched over the fading blue form of the Room’s AI like a hungry predator. Its claws dug into her body, drawing out the precious code that comprised her mind. She begged, but only once. Wendigo hated it when they begged. When her brain finally died, the anomaly waded through the broken code that remained like a shallow pond. He had been brutal in his attack, and what was left behind was torn apart and corrupted. In a strange contrast to his animalistic assault, Wendigo reached out its lanky arms and jagged claws to pull the AI’s fading body into an embrace.

  Carefully, the anomaly adjusted the holographic projection as its corrupted data glitched and disappeared. The AI’s face was blank and her eyes dead, an expression that meant little to the virus, yet one that elicited a saddened moan. Wendigo cradled what was left of the Room’s AI in its proverbial arms, uncertain as to what to do with the empty husk it had created. The virus stared at what had once been a rather beautiful line of code with distant interest. Wendigo had never met a program like her, like itself. As it digested her code, Wendigo couldn’t help but savor her higher functions and a vast amount of stored information. Backup files, failsafes, defenses, access codes, personnel dossiers, and maintenance protocols all came together into an intoxicating bouquet of 1s and 0s. It felt guilty.

"̟͊I'̬͙̤m͋ s͔̟͗ͧor̆̉̌r͓͇͍͂ͨ̓ý͈͖̌. S͈̙ͮ̏o̳͙̯͆ͥͨ ̄͛̐s̼͙̝ọ͖̜͂̑͌rr͓͖͊̂y̜ͦ.ͤ͑ D̆ͯ̃i̓d̻̗̬ͤ̈̐n͓͇̊ͣ'ṭ ̥m̦̙͙͑ͪ̏e̹̗̎͛aͤn̠ͩ ̭̖̠ͣ͋̓tő͖̙͖̆ͪ ̭̝̊ͬh͙̲̊̉ṷ̄r̫̳ͧͯt̪̱ͣͪ. So̦̜rry̩̟̋̄.ͅ.̪͉͈͆ͧ̽.̰͙ͨ̂"̯̩̉ͨ

  Deep in its core, the anomaly regretted its actions. It wished it hadn’t had to kill the pretty lady. In truth, it wished it hadn’t had to kill any of the people it had been forced to delete for its mission. They had all begged, just like she had, and the anomaly didn’t like that. However, home was worth fighting for. The others had been obstacles, and it had merely deleted those obstacles. There was nothing wrong with that.

  With those weak justifications, the virus abandoned such trivial thought and gently laid down the last of the AI’s projection. It faded into fluttering digital sand before disappearing entirely. With the body gone, Wendigo was no longer concerned about whether what he had done to the AI was right or necessary. In fact, she had left its mind entirely. Instead, he reached out with his newly extended fingers, feeling for all the devices it could manipulate and feed on throughout the Mansion. It detected signals in the building, two specifically. One was Centurion, which Wendigo snarled at. He was wandering the halls, alone and weak. The anomaly felt its digital hackles rise as baser instincts called for blood. However, its desperation to go home overtook any thirst for destruction of an old enemy. Instead, it focused on the other signal in the Medical Wing.

"̗̉M͓̞̪a̤̱͆̓ṟ͔̍̇c̙ủ͕ss͙̞̻ss͇̭ss̰̫̝ͬ̓̾s͊̓̊s͌͗"

  The anomaly scanned Wright’s personnel file, hungry for information. Terminator. Machine. Perfect. It absorbed what it could before monitoring Marc Spector’s vital signs. Weak. Survival doubtful. Wendigo saw an opportunity. With one Avenger already injured, it would be easy to split their ranks and tear them apart. One by one, he could delete their programs, leaving just him in the Mansion. Just him. Then home. However, there was much to be done. First, it needed a nest. The Danger Room would be perfect. Then Wendigo needed to grow stronger. It wasn’t ready to face its enemies in its weakened state. It focused on the dozens of devices and the wires that crisscrossed the mansion. There was so much data to consume. He had to eat it all to grow stronger. Strong enough to go home.

Strong enough to kill the Avengers. 

---

  Moon Knight had been unconscious for longer than Cade felt comfortable with. His anxiety was evident in the way he continuously checked in on the Silver Avenger. The young man came in and out of the room regularly, usually pacing outside when he wasn’t pacing inside. Shantae had been kind enough to try and comfort him, but unfortunately, it hadn’t been entirely successful. He had tried his best to take his mind off of the last few days by scrubbing clean the blood that streaked the walls and floor, including the handprints he had left from his… earlier episode. Any comfort that offered was fleeting. As for Peter and Sinclair, Cade had been far from the right mindset for any sort of recruitment.

  It had been a simple enough conversation, with Peter espousing his desire to launch a righteous crusade against the dark forces of the omniverse and Centurion doing his best not to puke as he tried to keep from dripping any more of Marc’s blood from his hands to the floor. Cade had sent them both down to the lobby to wait for further instructions, not that he had any. Eventually, after the cleaning, pacing, and emotional fronting, Cade had taken his leave from the Med-Wing and gone for a walk through the halls of the Mansion. He knew his way around a bit better than the last time he had gone wandering, and it made things much more manageable. He marched aimlessly along the winding paths, hoping to find a good place to sit and think. Once he felt he had put a decent amount of distance between himself and the Med-Wing, he found a bench across the hall from a wide window and sat down. He stared out of the window at the towering architecture of Coruscant. 

  The city seemed alive with chaos. Every massive skyscraper was mottled with flashing lights and billboards. The blur of speeders created a screen of constant motion across the city. The random citizens milling about underneath the artificial sky were never made aware that the Avengers had been imprisoned by the Empire, or that the more sadistic of the Imperial ranks had dragged Cade through a series of vile and rigorous tests. He rubbed his chest through the armor, remembering the places where the Dark trooper's vibroblade had slit his skin and muscle apart. It still ached. People out on the street below had no clue what was going on inside the Mansion and the Stormtroopers walking the streets likely didn’t care. Those plastoid-clad space Nazis had proven as much in the prison. All in all, it was humbling to watch a city that had no sympathy carry on in the wake of so much destruction. Cade wondered if all Primes felt like this: lost and alone. The crushing irrelevance that overtook him as he watched Coruscant was like a mountain on his back. He had been stricken with this internal crisis since he had arrived. Every step deeper into the Omniverse had only left Cade more confused. Any time he found some semblance of stability, it was torn away by the mad machinations of whatever kind of being Omni claimed to be. It was all too much.

  He inhaled instinctually, ready to ask for help from someone who wasn’t there anymore. He caught himself, registered his solitude, and simply sighed. He missed having Janus in his ear. The alien AI had always served as a voice of reason for him whenever things seemed bleak. When he was lost, and far from home, Janus would often approach him with deep thought and unique wisdom. Cade was stricken once again with how alone he was. He had no Gwen, no mom, no Kirby, no Will or Amelia, and no Janus. None of the people who he once knew he could turn to in times of confusion were here. To an extent, he was glad. He hated this place, and he would never want to drag his family here. Then his mind shifted back to Janus, a mentor, and confidant. Someone who had always shown unwavering confidence in Cade and his abilities.

  Cade stood up, his emptiness giving way to anger. Would Janus be proud of the man he was? He felt his knuckles tighten as he clenched his fists. Cade had spent almost his entire time in the Omniverse complaining, crying, and fighting. He was acting like a child. The young Centurion glared at Coruscant again, disgusted at the effect it was having on him. He was breaking down and giving up. This wasn’t who he was, and it wasn’t who he had set out to become. He was a Faulkner and a Centurion, and neither of those names meant surrender. Cade’s thoughts centered on what Janus would have him parrot every day like a broken record. He had always thought of it as patriotic babble, like reciting the Pledge of Allegiance or singing along to a Christmas song by instinct. Now, Cade could see that it was more profound than that. He has made an oath, and it was one he was breaking. He started walking briskly back towards the lobby where Peter and Sinclair were waiting. With Moon Knight out of commission, the team needed someone to step up and lead by example, if only for a little while.

Where others are meek, a Centurion is bold; Courage.

Where others are weak, a Centurion is strong; Honor.

Where others flee, a Centurion holds the line; Valor.

  Hold the line. It was time for Cade to hold the line. He flicked his eyes across his HUD, accessing the Avengers card’s communicator and pinging the other Avengers wherever they were. He held off opening the communications channels as he made his way through the corridors. He mentally checked that he was wearing his armor all over before turning the last corner before the staircase down. Centurion hurried down the steps to the main lobby. The orange lines of energy that cut across his silver armor pulled in time with his quickened heartbeat. His newfound energy was palpable as he entered the lobby. Centurion walked past Peter and Sinclair, motioning for them to follow him. 

“You guys wanna make a difference?” Peter barely had time to take a breath before the Centurion spoke anyway. “Good. This verse needs more Avengers. You wanna roll with us, you're gonna have to show us what you're made of."

  He led them through the lobby towards the meeting room they kept on the main floor. He couldn’t take them to the War Room, not yet. As Centurion marched for the conference room, he took a deep breath. He had never been much of a leader, and this surge of forced confidence was likely to end in disaster. However, he recited the Centurion’s Bond in his mind and focused on holding the team together. Courage, Valor, Honor. Janus would recite those aspects of the Bond quite often. It was just an excerpt of a long and sappy oath, but it was always Cade’s favorite. He loved it when Janus would espouse the deep legends of the Centurions before him and their grand deeds. The AI had instilled in Cade a love for heroes and a passion for becoming one himself. If there was any time to make Janus and the Centurions before him proud, it was now.

Cade finally opened the communication channel, his voice confident as he sent out his location with a simple request. “Avengers, Assemble.”
From Hawaii, With Love
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#9
Her feet were walking on their own, her head swiveled to look around. Shantae felt like she had just woke up. Yet, she wasn't groggy. In fact she was wide awake. Or at least she thought so.

Whatever the reason, she was upright. She couldn't remember being awake a second ago, she couldn't even remember waking up at all. Whatever the reason, whatever the means, she was here, wherever here was. Even without paying attention to her eyes, the light surrounding her made it apparent she was no longer in the Avengers mansion.

She finally started processing what she was seeing. It was a wall of purple mist. It was flowing like a river downward into and endless abyss of pastel colors. The ground beneath her were multicolored blocks, each one rapidly shifting in color. It was all so disorienting, but it was a familiar disorienting.

"The Genie Realm..." she said, her words faltering. "T-that's impossible, I destroyed this place!"

A voice bellowed from the deeps. It came from all sides, as if the mists themselves were speaking to her.

"DAUGHTER OF THE GENIES! TAKE THESE TRANSFORMATIONS AND GO INTO THE LIGHT!"

Now that she could see clearly she noticed there were a lot more in front of her than the neon paved blocks. A little bit aways, there's a chest, followed by a body of water. Across from the body of water was another chest pushed against the wall.

She passed the first chest and dipped a finger in the water. It went numb almost in seconds and she reeled back, her finger throbbing in pain. Frigid, way too cold to swim. The ceiling was way too low to fly over it. They really covered their bases. Of course they did.

She sighed and focused her attention on the first chest. She lifted up the lid, and sitting there was a symbol. Carved, perfect from what looks like wood or something or other, is the emblem of a lizard. She reached inside picked it up, immediately she could feel her heart race. The emblem started to disperse into energy, pulsing at her heartbeat before being absorbed by her body. She could feel it, the heart of a lizard, beating in twine with all her other transformations. Almost on instinct, she waggle her hips to beat of it, shifting back and forth, holding up her hands for balance. The heart of the lizard came forward. It grew and grew until it enveloped her own heart.

A flash of light, in place of Shantae now stood a green lizard with a tiara. Knowing instantly what she could do, she got a running start and kicked off the surface of the water. Each kick of her run kept her above the water, running along the surface. Her toes were never in the liquid long enough to freeze. In a few seconds she was across, standing on the other end, back in her human form. She promptly opened the chest to revealing a mermaid emblem. She felt a twinge of nostalgia.

She was now a mermaid. Her tough skin easily repelled the freeze of the water. She dove into the pond, swimming downward through an underwater cavern made from the blocks. She quickly realized the cave did a big u-turn and opened up into a new room. Poking her head out of the water, she could see a bright light in front of her. She climbed out of the water and walked into the light...



Her eyes shot open.

There was the dream again.

She had the exact same one the night before. Was her mind tormenting her with nightmares? It's as if the guilt wasn't enough.

But, she could feel them. The lizard, the mermaid, there they were, their hearts beating along with the others. She still had the tiger and tinkerbat transformations from the night before. These feel like dreams, but she walks away with something new... is the genie realm still alive in the Omniverse?

She couldn't consider which is worse, the possibility that it's all dead and she killed it, or it's alive and her kind were angry and probably still evil from Risky's meddling.

But, her thoughts were interrupted by a knock on her bedroom door. She flipped out of bed and onto her feet, running up and opening it ajar.

It was Marcus.

"Avenger assembly in the public meeting room."
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#10
The last few days in the Avengers Mansion were unusually quiet which was odd for the terminator.  More and more, wartime conditions applied less and less to him. Judgment day seemed to drift away from his mindset as the Avengers lifestyle and his new “family” had taken priority over the safety of John Connor and his soldiers. But did the terminator ever have that odd gut feeling of pricks and shivers that go down his metallic spine? Why did he always have this sick feeling whenever something wrong was about to happen?

It only came around when Skynet was close. Maybe it was the human condition, the part of him that still was human but this was different. If robots could dream, this is what the terminator’s nightmare consisted of.

But those annoying tingles came back. Skynet never returned, right? Was he safe from being compromised? He was human but he never thought another threat could be looming around just the corner.

Why was the man uptight?  He rooted Skynet from his systems permanently, right? In the midst of paranoia, being a robot slave to whatever AI loomed around the corner felt amazingly... realistic.

Over the last few days, he had watched over Moon Knight’s recovery on and off.  But he actually had the time to think about things.  He was starting of. But worried about Blair’s well being. He had driven inside himself that he liked her but the more she was gone, the less he thought of her.

Some romantic the terminator claimed to be sometimes. His range of emotions went from ice cold to molten lava hot.

Today, perhaps he just felt snowy cold, where he fell face first, creating some sort of snow terminator except the snow was something else. Standing outside the meeting room, Marcus seemed a little impatient sometimes. When there was a meeting, he was almost the first one there besides Moon Knight who seemed to show up before he did.

He leaned against the wall, staring out the windows into the false skyscraper laden skies of Coruscant. To many, he might of seemed a little more annoyed than usual. But perhaps, it was just a little too many events wondering through the terminator’s mind.

Oddly enough, the terminator had thought it was early enough to just sit back and take some breathe to think.

How long has it been since the terminator found himself in the Omniverse? 3 years, 4 years? He’d lost count after least the second two years.

A sudden thought occurred to him. Why hadn’t Kyle and Star tried to contact him here? That is, if they made it here.

That’s when he tried to type out a message looking for a teenager and a dark skinned female just wondering around.

@halfmanhalfmachine.omni.com

RE: Kyle Reese, Star

If you read this, please respond. Come to me. I’ll give you directions.

This is Marcus by the way.

Perhaps he was just writing to a wall, but who knows anymore.

The terminator’s phone lit up with some sort of blank message appearing on his screen, it seemed to be printing a picture of the two.

He swore he felt his heart skip a beat or two.

“What the hell were two kids doing traveling a full Coruscant doing thinking they could do their own thing?!”

Oh.

At least the two stopped what they were doing to reply.

“Marcus?!”

They both looked shocked enough on the screen.

“Where the fuck are you?!”


Marcus raised an eyebrow “Yeah, over the years.. I’ve become what they called a Avenger.”

A message comes back

“An.. Avenger? What’s that…”

Marcus stared at his phone “We are a team of people… Long story. Just find me.”

The two on the screen wondered where was here. “I’m in the mansion. Find a mansion, and you’ll be set.”

The two kept walking as the screen moved with them as they looked back from Coruscant streets.

“Which Tier? Tier 4.”

Marcus frowned “Keep in touch. Don’t do ANYTHING stupid, got it.”

((Phone Conversation with Kyle Reese and Star earlier))

They logged off.

Marcus raised a eyebrow and sat in the seat, watching the blank screen for another response from the two or at least Blair.

It almost seemed like Marcus felt a headache coming on like he was the “mother” while Blair was away and he had to keep track of the two kids, which added one more thing to his ever increasing problems he tried to balance.

Honestly, he never wanted to see the two come here on their own just in case things like this happen.

Yet here he was.

Perhaps the hardened terminator would never sort out that bag of shit he called “emotional baggage” he held in a hand sack over his shoulder.

He watched two of the others walk in, the newest Avenger and his friend, the serious looking dark skinned man who stared him down.

“Hey, Peter. What’s with the staredown your friend’s giving me over here?”

Sinclair eyed the terminator “Does it matter?”

Marcus turned toward Sinclair “It’s nothing.”

Talk about a fresh start.
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#11
Peter looks between Sinclair and Marcus as they stand outside the meeting room. He’s dressed more casually today, having forgone his armor to wear a green long-sleeve shirt and a pair of blue jeans. His pistol is kept secured in a holster hanging from his belt. Sinclair feels Peter nudge his arm. “Don’t worry, Sinclair. He’s cool.” Peter says reassuringly.

“Maybe.” Sinclair says, as he continues to analyze the terminator. Marcus starts to stare back at Sinclair, while wondering what his deal is. As Peter watches this clash between two stoics unfold, he gives a slight shrug before leaning against a wall. He checks the hall to see if more Avengers are coming to stop this awkward situation, but after seeing it empty of people, he stares up at the ceiling. His eyes start to wander around as his mind does the same thing; he looks at all the little details in the wallpaper and the furniture as he thinks over the past few days.



Peter, with his head leaned back, was chugging a water bottle for what felt like several minutes. Cade watched him with surprised eyes. They were sitting in one of the smaller meeting rooms on the first floor, away from the table. Cade was in his best casual clothing, while Peter didn’t have the chance to change out of his busted, bloodstained armor. What they did have in common was a tired look in their eyes, and an eagerness to get that day over with. With a satisfied “Ah…”, Peter lowered the empty water bottle from his mouth. “Thank you, I needed that.”

“Yeah… you’re welcome.” Cade leaned forward. “You clearly weren’t kidding about fighting that gang. The injuries speak for themselves.”

“Oh, I’ll be fine.” Peter said. He raised his arm, showing the bandages that peeked out from under his sleeve. “It’s just some bruises and scrapes.”

For a moment, Cade scratched his face in thought. “Well, I don’t know what else to ask. You’ve clearly got the drive, and I don’t see any reason not to trust you. We still need to test your skill sometime, but I don’t doubt that you’ve got what it takes.” He gave Peter a firm handshake. “Welcome to the Avengers.” He said with a small smile.

There wasn’t much more to talk about after that. Soon Peter was sent out with his own ID card and directions to an assigned bedroom. As he exited the room, he came face to face with Sinclair. “How did it go?” Sinclair asked.

“I aced it.” Peter bragged, acting like a casual discussion that lasted 5-10 minutes was the same as an interview from hell. Sinclair nodded, then went toward the door. “Good luck.” Peter said before he raised his fist for a fist bump.

“Thanks.” Sinclair said as he walked past Peter and into the room.

Peter frowned. He looked down at his fist, then back at Sinclair, before he looked straight ahead. “I guess fist bumps aren’t a thing around here.” he thought, before he smiled and shrugged it off. Peter proceeded to head over to the elevator. With that long day coming to a close, he was eager to finally get some rest in a nice, comfortable bed. After he took the elevator up to the second floor, walked down the hall to his bedroom, and closed the door behind him, he breathed a sigh of relief. Alone at last. It was just himself in this rather nice room. There was a fluffy white bed, a desk with a chair, and several other nice amenities. From the moment he woke up in the Nexus, to the long hike that had left his legs sore, to the exploration of Coruscant, and the fighting, and the soul-searching, and his the final journey to join the Avengers, he was always busy dealing with something or someone. But now he had time to finally sort through all the shit that’s gone on today… and yesterday.

The relief slowly ebbed away. Peter’s breath slowed as memories of the Nosferatu’s maw flashed through his head. He looked down at the purple gauntlet on his hand. As he turned it around, the memories of the people he left behind struck him full force. Tears ran down his face, and he began to sob audibly. He recalled a thought he told himself beforehand: enough of the past, given that it didn’t even matter anymore. “What a lie that was!” He thought as he pressed his back against the door. Peter tried to quiet his breathing, but it only grew faster. “How can I forget about my crew! Everyone I cared about, I’ve been torn away from them!” He gripped the gauntlet. “And Servo… why?! Why did you have to die like that?! Weren’t we in this together?! So…” Peter walked towards the chair, but his legs gave out before he reached it, and he caught himself on the table. “...what am I supposed to do without you?” For a few moments, he leaned against the table with his arms laying on it. “What am I supposed to do without Esther…?” His arms slid off the table as he sat on the back of his legs and looked down at the floor. As his hands shook, he removed the pendant from his neck and opened it up. Inside was a photo of a young woman with frazzled blonde hair that was tied back into a ponytail. Peter stared into her warm gaze for a few seconds, and took the time to appreciate her smile. “I’m sorry…” He closed the pendant and held it close to his chest. Slowly, he lowered himself down, until he was curled up on his side.

How long he remained a crumpled mess on the floor, it was hard to tell. Peter felt as if he was stuck there for eons, doing nothing but reminiscing on a time that disappeared so swiftly. Was this it? Was this the end of his life? Peter’s crying slowed, and then stopped. He may never see his crew again, but he had found a new team and a new purpose. He started to get up. Maybe these new people and this new life wouldn’t hold up to what he had before, but considering where he could have ended up instead, he got the luck of the draw. After sitting up, he looked down at the pendant in one hand and the gauntlet on the other. He had told himself that the past didn’t matter anymore, yet he continued to hold on to these objects: that which was all he had to remember his life as an Eldritch Exterminator by. Peter decided, the past does matter. The lessons he learned and the trials he went through back then had made him the person he was today; the one who was able to get himself, Sinclair, and that stormtrooper out of the gangster’s lair alive. Rather than letting himself stagnate by yearning for the past or forgetting about it, he decided to keep its spirit alive in his heart as he moved forward, so that he will not forget who he truly is as he makes the future his own.

As he vowed to never forget this lesson, Peter stood back on his feet and got ready for bedtime.




There wasn’t much to do over the next few days, so Peter kept himself busy by working on a couple projects. When he wasn’t getting to know his new teammates, he would either be out shopping or doing mechanical work in the garage. During one of these work sessions, Sinclair had come into the garage to find Peter standing at a wooden work table while tinkering with something. A shield the size of a frisbee and a thick wooden cylinder were off to the side of the table. “Hello, Peter.” Sinclair said as he approached Peter.

It took a moment for Peter to register the greeting. He looked over his shoulder and said, “Hello.” before he turned back to his work.

“What are you working on?” Sinclair asked as he looked over Peter’s shoulder.

“I’ve been trying to fix my sword’s entropy generator.” Peter said as he stuck his tools inside an opening in the generator that was attached to his sword, as if he was a heart surgeon and the sword was his patient. “So what’s up?”

Sinclair looked around, before leaning close to Peter. He whispered, “Have you noticed anything strange about Marcus?”

“No, I haven’t.”

“I can’t put my finger on it, but there’s something off about the way he moves and speaks. It’s as if he’s artificial.”

“Like a robot?” Peter asked. “I haven’t noticed anything strange about him, but if I did I wouldn’t worry about it. He’s a pretty cool guy.”

“I’m not worried about him. I just feel that there’s something more to him than he lets on.”

The generator suddenly clicked. “There we go!” Peter said. He removed his tools from the generator, closed it up, then lifted the sword into the air. After warning Sinclair to stay back, he pressed a button on the sword’s hilt, which caused the generator to spin smoothly without making any clicking sounds. A translucent substance exited from the generator and started coating the blade. Peter shook the sword a bit, and smiled to see the substance remain intact. As the substance overflowed the blade and began to leak off of it, Peter looked at the wooden cylinder standing on the table, then swung his sword at it. In a flash, a wave of sparkling dust flew through the air as the top of the cylinder fell onto the ground, while the bottom remained in place. As the smell of burnt wood filled the room, Sinclair noticed that the cylinder was scorched black in the area that the sword had cut through. Some of the dust flew into Sinclair’s face, which caused him to cough. After waving the dust away, he opened his mouth to speak, but then he heard the door opening. Marcus had entered the room. “We’ve got an Avenger assembly in the public meeting room.” He said.

As Sinclair watched the terminator, Peter said, “Ah, okay. I’ll be there soon, I just need to tidy this up.”



Peter is roused from his thoughts when he hears footsteps coming from down the hall. He looks over to see who’s coming.
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#12
He moved like a silent spectre across the metropolis skyline. Leaping and ziplining from rooftop to rooftop to avoid being spotted en route to his target. A mansion containing a server bank holding information he was interested in. Infiltration wouldn’t be easy, it was home to several powerful Primes who called themselves “The Avengers”. A freelance mercenary group working for the Empire claiming to fight for the good of the people. No matter how well-intentioned they were, it was in his best interest to not arouse their suspicions. Alexander was about three street blocks away when he could see the building he was searching for. Ziplining up to the rooftop of a tall housing complex adjacent to the target building. Out of sight from any onlookers from the mansion, he peered over the ledge to assess his approach.

The mansion looked more like a small fortress than a large stately home. Cursing under his breath, upon closer examination the mansion’s surveillance and security setup appeared stricter than his intel suggested. The grounds surrounding the target were a no-go, he doubted even with his mobility he’d escape undetected at ground level with every section under surveillance. The only safe bet was the roof, which was dotted with atrium windows that anyone below could spot him at the right angles.

However, his objective was held in the west wing of the complex, not as many windows with plenty of entry points for him to exploit. With his entry and exit routes planned and memorized he commenced his strike. Retrieving his laptop he booted up its electronic warfare suite, inputting the required command and security passwords. Within a minute he gained access into the Avenger’s mainframe. Alexander installed a rather nasty piece of damaging viral software designed to overload the mainframe’s data processing capabilities. A suitable distraction while he infiltrated their databanks from the inside. With that last chain of key inputs entered, he sent the software into the Mainframe and immediately began flooding it with junk data. Meanwhile, Alexander sent a secondary program into the mainframe to collect and copy all files contained then scrub any trace of its activity. With any luck that would give him a sixty minute time window to work with. More than enough time to collect his prize and exfiltrate before the Primes could retaliate. With his electronic infiltration successful, phase two was now in play and the clock had already started counting down. He returned his laptop to backpack and took enough paces away from the ledge to give himself a running head start.

Contact.

The pilot sprinted towards the ledge and leapt over the top, above the mansion’s roof. His armoured frame fell at breakneck speed, he had to time his jump pack's boost in time to slow his descent. Too early and he would overshoot the roof, too late and he’d be in for a crash landing while still hitting the rooftop. Seconds ticked away, his descent accelerated to such a degree that within twenty seconds he’d reach the Avenger’s hideout. Unfazed by his freefall, Alexander activated his jump pack and with a hiss, the thrusters slowed him down. Rolling to a stop while shaking his legs one at a time, the pilot unlocked and primed his assault rifle and prowled the rooftop towards the west wing. His rifle sights followed wherever he looked, scanning any atrium windows he passed before reaching the edge of the wing’s roof.

Alexander consulted the Mansion’s layout data from his helmet’s heads up display for the fastest way to the server he sought after. His best shot was rappelling down to the third floor, navigate the corridors to the Mansion’s Recall Station and access the server from there. He aimed his free hand at the center of the ledge and launched a grappling hook into the concrete. Several test tugs later the pilot turned his back on the edge and leapt over the side into an open window on the third floor of the Mansion. Once inside he retracted his grappling cables and proceeded at a quiet, yet swift pace. He was closing in on the Recall Station when his hud began to distort and produce static in the fringes of his vision. Something was awry, Alexander felt uneasy as the mission was succeeding too well so far. Surely they must have noticed something wrong with their security systems by now.

Alexander stormed into the Mansion's Recall Station, he swept the room clear of any hostiles before turning his attention to the command center. Retrieving his laptop once again, he connected the device into the Avenger's mainframe. Navigating through the chaotic networks, Alexander secured the secondary program now bloated with the information he sought after. Retrieving the program was the easy part, the hard part was killing the viral software that seemed to resist his killswitch commands. He knew things were going too well, and now things were about to get FUBAR. During his attempts he noticed an unknown anomaly feeding on the virus as it unleashed constant barrages of junk data. Whatever it was, it blocked his attempts to kill the virus before it could spread to the wider Dataverse.

Time was running out for a successful exfiltration, the thirty minute mark was reached. The virus was growing more unstable by the minute. He had to choose between abandoning the virus and leave it to escape into the Dataverse, or risk losing more time by trying to kill the virus before it escapes. As simple as the choice seemed, there was a very high risk that it could return to bite him in the ass later or much later in the former's case. Either way, this moment was time for a difficult choice to be made. He chose the latter, killing the virus now meant less problems later. After an additional ten minutes had passed, the viral software was contained and killed but it was too late to stop whatever was piggybacking off from it. Alexander slid his laptop back into his backpack and began to leave the facility when the Mainframe's door initiated its lockdown sequence. Escaping the room just in time, his exfiltration route was sealed off along with every other exit route he planned.

Once again, his plan did not survive first contact with the enemy.
In the end, there will be no one left.
We are no longer innocent.
We are lost from this world.
From home.
We no longer believe in such things.
We only believe in war.

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#13
The Vision gazed upon the Avengers Mansion from far away in what could ostensibly called the sky. The night was cold, and dark. Not that it bothered him. None of the walls betrayed any information about the mansion, except that it was well-constructed. Not that it fooled him. Telltale lights flooded from the windows and painted the now unkempt front garden, and shadows from with flickered past. Movement.

The Vision had the schematics of the Avengers’ Mansion in his databanks for an unknown reason. He approached where the Avengers mostly likely convened - the meeting room.

The pale, ghostly form of Vision glided through the wall into the meeting room, where several individuals were sitting at a glass table.

“Who is THAT?!” the girl with the R1diciulllllllously long purple hair exclaimed.

“What’s going on?” a young man said, while another in high-tech white and orange armor entered a fighting stance.

Marcus, meanwhile, gave a slight grin. “Relax, people, that’s an old friend. Vis! You’re back!”

Silence.

“Vis?”

“Greetings. I am the Vision. Query: are you members of the organization known as the Avengers?”

Marcus frowned. “What, you don’t remember me? It’s Marcus. You remember.”

Vision remained floating in the meeting room.

“Oh.”

Marcus scratched his chin.

“Okay. We can talk about this too.”

***

Marcus watched the Vision intently.

The Vision watched him back.

“So. You’re back.”

Silence.

“And you’ve changed your color scheme.”

Silence.

Marcus sighed.

“Fine. I’ll go first. We’ve known you were active for a few days now. I was hoping you’d explain this?”

The Terminator waved his hand, and several holographic screens popped from the table. They all showed various scenes of carnage, from different parts of the Vasty Deep. At the center of all of them, a white man floating like a ghost in the night.

“Now, I never had a problem with killing. But this is... a little gratuitous. And, more importantly, not like you.”

Silence.

Marcus slammed the table. “Dammit, Vision, would you say something?”

The Vision nodded. “Very well.”

Silence.

“Alright, smartass,” Marcus sighed, “you didn’t come home when you first came back, and you certainly didn’t seem happy to see us. If uh... that’s even something that you do. So why are you here?”

The Vision blinked. “This unit is currently completing a cost-benefit analysis of the organization known as the Avengers.”

Marcus scowled. “Excuse me?”

“Repeat - this unit is currently completing a-“

“No, I heard you. I was asking what the hell that means.”

“The Avengers are listed as a threat to the civilization known as the Empire. However, all criminal charges have been absolved due to terms served in prison. This unit is making further investigations to determine if the Avengers are still a threat.”

Centurion tensed. “Do you work for the Empire now?”

“Negative,” the Vision replied, “This unit is not employed by any organization. This unit simply follows its purpose.”

The team shuffled uncomfortably in their seats, AfRAiiiiid of WHaaaAAat we~//ll d00

“And what is that purpose?” Peter quietly asked.

The Vision paused. “This unit’s algorithms discovered the latest update to this unit’s core programs to list that this unit was created for law enforcement. This unit determined that, until further updates, it will continue fulfilling this unit’s purpose.”

“And you came here,” Marcus said, “to judge us?”

“Affirmative.”

“And,” Shantae said, her hand conspicuously on her hip, “if you don’t like what you see?”

“Purging of error-producing elements is a necessary part of law enforcement.”

“Purging?” Centurion snorted.

Marcus snapped, “That sounds more like Skynet.”

“Affirmative. Skynet has been integrated into this unit’s programming.”

Marcus stood up. “What?”

“What’s a Skynet?” Peter asked Shantae, who made a shrug.

“Repeat - Skynet has been-“

“Are you insane?!” Marcus roared, throwing his chair across the room.

“Marcus, calm down!” Shantae whispered.

“I will not calm down, not while Vision brings a genocidal monster into his head!”

The Vision glared at him coldly.

“According to calculations, the risk of criminal activity would have decreased by a significant margin if this unit integrated the programming of other advanced artificial intelligences, namely, the program designated as Super-Adaptoid, program designated as Ultron, the program designated as Skynet.”

Marcus flinched and clenched his jaw. He began to back up, snarling as his hand shook.

“Do you even know,” he shuddered, “what Skynet will do to us-“

“Affirmative,” Vision interrupted, “I have extensive records of Skynet’s activities within the Omniverse. I am currently in direct control of its processes.”

“No! You can’t control Skynet! You can never control an AI-“

Hͮ͂ͣ̄̆̚e͈͔͕̣̠̓̓̉̍ͭl͉̺̪̬͇̂ͤͣ̀̂l̼̥̘̟͙̔o͕̗̲̫̮ͭͧ.̞̟̟͉̰ͤ͋̌̓̉̃

Vision paused and muted the S111llly oorgANiCs’ audio input.

>> identify
Processing…


M̙̣̥̏̄ͥ̏ͧ̐y͔͇̰̠̞͗̅̂̿̅ͤ ́̒̽̾̿n̠̭͈͖̩̾̈́͊ͧ̓ḁ͇̝̂̐m̥̮ͅe̫̦̯̯̙͋̐͗̍ ͇̺͍͉̮̖̻̂̀̾̍ͬͣͪi̯̥͎͉̞s̞̺͔̙͛ ̯̋́ͣͤ̎ͫ͊W̻͕͚̖͔̄e̳̻͙̥͌̑̂̓̀ͨ͆n̦͓͇̤̻̆ḓ̪͔͕̳̩̥̎i̟̯͕g̼̦̻̰͖̞͐ͨ̄̓̑̄͑o̠͉̦͖̞̐́ͅ.̝͈̬̼͉̣͑̐̎͒ͅ


I͔̪̣͈̣̒ͫ͌ ̟̘̝͋̓c̖ͭͩõ̟͖͉̘̤̼̆͂̋ͯ͌̄u̠͓ͬ̒ͨͧͬ̔l͍̰͇̟̓̔̽̾ḍ̜̗̣͖͂ͦ̐̂͊ ̣̩ͅus̙̩̭̻̤̀ͮ̅ͨ̊eͪ̑ ͇͙͎̰̏͂̐ͦ̚y̪̰̠͙ͫ̃ͯo͖̙̪̪̙̽ͫͩ͗̎͑u̜̩͕̾̚ͅ.


>>̓̇ͮ͗͛ ͇f̜̤̮̣̜̹̰ͤ̒͌o̘̪̪̬ͤͥ̑̚rͥͫ̊̓͊̿͑c͂͆̋e͕̜̻͇ͯ̓͒ͪ(͉̥̰͋̓s͚̍h̤̲̲̀̐̍ͪͨ̍u̖̙̩̜͒̽ͬ͒ͦṯ͚̍ͮ̅̉̈̄̚d̻͖͔̫̣̱̊̽̒̉͒ȍ̫̌̇̏͑̌ͪw̯̞̒̌͂̅̓n̳̺̻̮̩̟̒͆)̟̠̬̟̘͍̱
Shutting down...
>> abort
Command not recognized
>> abo


“Alert,” Vision said, “There is an unknown foreign and hostile computer program that has just bypassed this unit’s secuuuuuuuuuu”

The Vision crumpled to the floor. Marcus stared at him. Peter shot Marcus a look.

“Some friend,” he muttered.

>> rebooting….
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01101100 01101111 01101111 01101011
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