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Withdrawl Symptoms

#1
Out of all the places for a bank robbery in the entire verses, why did it have to be in Coruscant? The place is a metropolis, but way more advanced when compared to someplace like New York City. At most times, it was even a little too advanced for Moon Knight. Perched on top of a rooftop, the vigilante leaned down over the ledge, his eyes peering through a white pair of binoculars that followed his fellow teammate Centurion as the young man entered the bank’s open pavilion. Moon Knight prayed to Khonshu in hope that the kid could handle himself if things got ugly. No reply, of course, came from the moon god. It was beginning to look like a pattern. When he wasn’t appreciated he would he would appear, but when his attention was needed more than ever, there was only silence. And it wasn’t that he didn’t trust Centurion, he was just worried about his well being and the thought of losing another team member was almost too unbearable.        

“Shit!” Marc shouted, doing his best to track the kid as a large group of people started to surround him. 

“What was that?” Cade retorted, keeping his pace through all various people crowding around him. 

“Nothing, Damn.” He whispered looking over his binoculars. He narrowed his masked eyes then returned to the binoculars. “It’s getting crowded. I’m having trouble following you. What do you see?”   

"I see a lot of people," Cade said. "Nobody jumps out yet, but if it’s that angry old lady at the teller's booth, I can take her."

“Nope, they look a little rougher than that, besides I can’t imagine someone's grandmother being a criminal mastermind. Keep looking, I’m going to see if I can’t get a better eye on things from the skylight.”  

"Trust me, buddy, Grandma's are scary. One time, I-" Cade was quickly cut off as his attention drifted to the skylight. "Marc, do banks usually have window washers dressed in all black with glass cutters and military-grade rifles?"

“No, why?” He said while activating one of his nightstick’s grappling hook functions, launching himself to the bank’s rooftop. He rolled on impact, coincidentally coming to a stop near the skyline. Kneeling over the glass, he peered inside. To his surprise, he saw what Cade meant. Inside it was as normal as a bank could be, minus the heavily armed window washers and the futuristic technology that clearly went over his head.    

Cade shrugged, his armor sliding across his body in a single fluid motion. "No reason, just curious. Want me to arrest them for loitering?"

“Check them out, but be discreet about it, recall last time? Yeah, I don’t like being in Jail.”  

Cade looked down at himself, the Centurion Apparatus encasing almost his entire body.

"Uh... yeah sure. Discreetly."

“Cade, you cause any real problems and I’m going to permanently have disapproval written all over my mask.” Moon Knight said as his mask’s HUD flashed indicating an incoming phone call- Marcus, of course, the only other person with the ability to reach his line. “Answer, keep radio online.”  

Cade quickly weaved between the members of the crowd and slipped out the main entrance before ducking into a side alley. His armor finished enveloping his body as he made a stealthy approach to the roof. 

“Marcus, what’s up?” Moon Knight moved back from the skylight, taking his sight from Centurion’s location. 

“Hey, I just had a kid walk into the mansion and ask to join the Avengers. Did you have something to do with that?” 

The Night’s Protector gave a low sigh pacing back and forth on the rooftop.

“No… Look, Marcus, we had this conversation before. The Avengers are finished and we’re not coming back from the disappearances. The Omniverse just doesn’t want to bring us together as a team and you know the only reason Cade and I are doing this mission is because that we got a tip. Besides, why would I put a kid in danger and send them to the mansion, I already regret bringing the first one that followed us here.”    

Marcus grunted in the phone.”I recall training friends of mine named Kyle Reese and Star... they were like my son and daughter at one point. The point is, I know this isn’t my world anymore, but give them a chance. These children fought with me against Skynet. I trust them as much as they trust me.” 

"Should... should I switch channels, or..." Cade chimed in.

“It’s not about kids Marcus! It’s about this team and the fact that we’re four vigilantes in a world that doesn't want us. I doubt we’ll ever assemble again, we’ve lost too many already Marcus. There’s a reason I worked alone, I worked alone to keep my friends my family from harm and this team isn’t helping.”    

"Hey, so, great talk, but I do have about five armed hostiles about to break into a bank. Should we... do something about that, or?"

“I lost so much and risked a lot to try to change myself. Who cares if nobody wants us! I felt that pain when Skynet didn’t want me and the Resistance wanted nothing to do with me. It’s about all of us. Do you want to give this all up? I guess this is it then, back to square one. 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.” 

“You know tha!-” Moon Knight widened then narrowed his mask’s eyes at the sound of gunfire echoing up from the skylight. “Marcus, I’ll talk to you about this later.” 

Looking up to tier four’s false sky, he gave a deep groan.”Khonshu save this boy from me.”  

Snapping his attention back to the skylight, he darted for it, crashing down through the glass. Descending into the bank, his white cape opened up, resembling an oversized parachute that allowed him to make a soft landing on an office table.
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#2
Cade remembered the first time he had stopped a bank robbery. It had been pretty early in his career, barely a month into his time as Centurion. Janus had patched the armor into local police scanners and Cade had thankfully received the call on a weekend. He would have hated to miss school. It had been a few angry men armed with alien tech they had bought from a shady dealer. Back then, things were simple for him. He could make an empty excuse to his mom, armor up, and fly over to the problem. A few punches later, the problem was solved and he could get back to surf practice with Gwen and Kirby. Now, things weren’t so simple. Thankfully, even when he was lost in another dimension far from home, Cade could get back to the basics.

The would-be thieves were nestled on the roof of the bank next to the skylight. Cade had made it past the crowd and out to the back alley behind the Coruscanti bank. He was making his way up the maintenance walkway on the side of the building when he overheard Moon Knight and Marcus bickering. It wasn’t the first time the Silver Avenger and the Terminator had gotten into it. Ever since half the team just disappeared (apparently a common occurrence in the hellish Omniverse) everyone had been on edge. The last thing he wanted was to be involved in the argument, especially as he was closing in on a group of armed intruders.

Cade spoke up, his helmet hiding his voice from the criminals. “Should… Should I switch channels, or…”

They ignored him, electing instead to continue their pointless banter. Moon Knight was frustrated, an emotion the young Centurion had not yet seen from him. Marcus was angry too, but that was more familiar to Cade. He wished that he had a deeper history with both of them so that he had a place in their conversation. For now, all they had in the way of a past was beating each other to a pulp then getting arrested together. Come to think of it, that sounded a lot like teh kind of friendship most of the guys on his high school football team had. Ass some alcohol and the young man was on a glorified football team. What a thought. Once he got to the roof, Cade observed the criminals from behind an air conditioning unit. They men were readying the glass-cutter and their rifles. Rappel lines had been anchored to the rooftop for swift entry, and duffel bags lay in waiting beside the skylight. As much as Cade wanted to listen to Moon Knight and Marcus argue, he felt like more important things were at hand.

“Hey, so, great talk, but I do have about five armed hostiles about to break into a bank. Should we… ya know… do something about that?”

Once again, he was ignored. Cade rolled his eyes. He had had enough for one night. He needed to punch something, if only to make him feel better. Cade rolled his shoulders and took a deep breath before stepping out from behind the AC unit. He cleared his throat loud enough to startle the criminals into spinning around.

“Aloha, gentlemen.” The clacking of rifles leveling with his chest brought back good memories. “Now, I see you’re all eager to get right into it, and I respect that, but I do want to give you all at least one chance to surrender.”

One of the criminals cursed and whispered harshly to his compatriots. Cade let them discuss for a few seconds before cracking his knuckles and stepping forward.

“Alright, have it your way.”

Thank God the first panicked shot missed. Cade had utterly forgotten about how severely limited his armor was. With the Omniverse having unsettled the core systems, there was no guarantee that Centurion was still bulletproof. He kicked at one of the duffle bags and it was tossed into the air. It fluttered with the wind and masked Cade’s retreat. He leaped back as a hail of gunfire ripped holes through the bag and spun back behind the AC unit. His hands sparked as his adrenaline spiked. The loud retorts of rifles broke the peaceful silence of the Coruscanti afternoon. Cade readied himself, then stepped out from behind the unit. His armor shimmered for a moment, then a series of hexagonal energy cells flared to life along its outer layer. It was a shot in the dark, but Cade prayed that the armor’s new Phalanx Barrier could absorb enough bullets to let him close the gap. His risk paid off. As he sprinted towards the criminals, sparks flew off of the impact points where their bullets were deflected by the ionic shield.

He reached for one of the closer criminals and grabbed his gun. With a harsh yank, Cade disarmed him and threw him off balance. Carrying the momentum, He spun around and smashed the butt of the rifle into the back of his head. The robber crumpled to the ground, unconscious. Not one to be stingy, Cade proceeded to chuck the rifle at another criminal, throwing off his aim. The man stumbled back and tripped over an exhaust pipe on the roof. The other three men started to back away, still firing.

Centurion caught Moon Knight darting across the rooftops out of the corner of his eye. Good, backup. Cade didn’t notice the man who had tripped finding his footing. The hero used his arms to cover his face and charged the three men remaining. The one he targeted had the wherewithal to duck under Centurion’s first swing, but he made the mistake of trying to tackle the ironclad hero. Cade grabbed his waist and lifted him. They both spun around before Cade released the man and launched him into his compatriots. They all collapsed onto the glass, one of them crying out in pain as his back was caught on the metal chassis of the glass-cutter.

Cade took a breath, his Phalanx Barrier flickering and then disappearing. “Okay. You guys had enough?”

No one got to answer Cade before he was knocked off his feet. With no barrier and no forewarning, Centurion was tackled by the man who had tripped. They both crashed into the otehr three and onto the glass. The skylight shattered, people shouting and screaming from inside the bank. Somehow, they hadn’t all evacuated by now. Cade snapped his arms out and yanked the criminals close to him. He spun so that his back faced the floor. He forced his suit to produce another barrier around him just before they crashed into the linoleum tile. The tile shattered underneath their weight, but Cade managed to put himself between the floor and two of the four criminals. His lungs now deprived of air and his head spinning, Cade dragged himself out from under the men he had caught and pushed himself to his feet. When his visio cleared, he saw one of the criminals holding a woman with a pistol shoved hard against her temple. The terror on her face froze Centurion in place.

The robber snarled. “Back off, hero, or I deposit a bullet in her head! We’re walking out of here!!”

Cade stood up slowly, hands raised in an attempt to calm the criminal. “I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”

“What the %&$# are you talking about? We’re getting out of here, boys!” His compatriots stumbled to their feet, gathering their weapons.

“You’re gonna be okay ma’am, I promise,” Cade reassured her. He stepped back with his hands raised to give the criminals some space.

Like a silver shadow, Moon Knight dropped from the skylight. He didn’t make a sound as he stalked up behind the hostage-taker.

Cade smirked beneath his helm. “Last chance to give up, brah. Let the girl go and he doesn’t have to hurt anybody.”

There was visible confusion on the criminal’s face.

“Alright. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

The criminal’s eyes widened a split second before the Night’s Protector descended upon him. His scream of terror and pain was cut short as he was enveloped by the Moon Knight. Cade caught the woman as she fell forward and gently held her as she sobbed into his shoulder. It was almost majestic, watching Marc decimate the criminals. There was a grace to his savagery. Maybe someday Cade could ask him for some pointers. The fight was over in barely seven seconds without a single shot fired. Moon Knight rose to his feet, knuckles dusted with blood, and glared at Centurion. Cade blanched beneath the deadly stare, disapproval seemingly permanently written on the man’s cowl. It was moments like this the young man thanked God for his armor’s full face mask.
From Hawaii, With Love
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"Joe: You're gonna get the most dramatic entrance, dramaticc with two c's
Dust: you know what else has two C's?
Joe: What?
Dust: chicken nuggets"
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#3
The man, once shown as a husk, a soulless machine that he used to be standing in the mansion, the shadows coming out onto his face.

“Hey, kid? You still around?”

Marcus found himself looking out around the mansion seeing if he noticed the boy named Ben around but he wasn’t around. Another possible member gone because of him.

“NO! ARGH! SHIT!... “

He was frustrated only to hear his echoing voice in the mansion bouncing off walls. Then he realized it.

In this Omniverse, he was too busy saving others to save himself in the process. Was he the man he claimed to be? Was he that hero?

The Terminator grabbed a few things of his and sighed, not even the portrait felt as dead as he felt right now as he traversed the hallways toward the Danger Room.

He felt weird depending on the danger room AI but at least it wouldn’t steer him wrong. It still felt so odd depending on an AI that didn’t want to kill him for once. But that was long in the past and that AI was somewhere deep inside water.

He set his stuff down and placed on his leather jacket “Computer, hey. You hear me?”

The AI turned its sight on Marcus and turned on “Yes, Marcus Wright right?”

The terminator sighed and lightly growling under his breath “Yes. Computer set up my own danger room. I need this to be a challenging one. Throw all the shit I did at me. Can you set that up?”

Marcus was becoming impatient “Can you do this?”

The AI took a moment before answering “Tell me about your past.”

Before he realized things turned dark, the AI placed his request under consideration after Marcus found himself oddly telling the AI everything.

Not long, the terminator found himself in a car, standing near the border of Texas somehow talking to his brother who has been dead for quite some time. For a moment he didn’t know what the hell was going on here. But soon he remembered that this wasn’t a real version of his brother staring him down, asking him why he was acting so weird.

Marcus felt like everything was back to normal somewhat, his robot parts were gone, he was somehow human again here. He always wanted to be human again but he never forgot he was.

Could this another chance to fix his mistakes? Would this version of his brother listen to him?

In the background, the AI dug deep into Marcus’s past and keeping it a close enough version of his brother due to his description.

His brother stepped forward and nodding at Marcus to follow him as he questioned where they were going.

“Where are we going, brother?” Marcus asked his brother.

“Simple, we are going to rob a bank!” The photorealistic version of his brother replied.

Marcus gritted his teeth “You’re crazy, dude. Do you have a plan? You know it’s not that easy.”

Sam turned “What the hell man! It’s just for a ride and it’ll be quick. We’ve been planning this for years! Why not do it now?!”

The terminator frowned finding himself oddly telling his brother “Shut up. We aren’t doing it.”

Sam stepped back “Enough! I’m not taking this, I’m doing it and you aren’t stopping me!”

Before Marcus could pull a stunt trying to tell his brother otherwise, he pulled back. He knew what was coming and it was bad. He could pull the car off the road and cause a wreck or he could let his brother rob the bank but how could he do such a thing, it was his brother, not some common criminal.

The past was reviving itself. Marcus knew where the end would come. How could he stop it-- HOW?

Marcus tried once again to tell his brother to rethink what he was doing. His brother tossed him a gun Marcus looked to the gun and back to his brother. “Stop Sam! Seriously… I don’t..”

“Shut up! We’re doing if you’re in or not”

Marcus grabbed his gun and pulled his arm back “Stop being stubborn, realize what are you doin-

“FUCK OFF!”


r Sam pushed him aside, grabbing his gun.

Following his brother outside several other men followed up with them as well, with disguises and guns of their own as well, Marcus growled he was forced to follow his brother in this mess, It was the only to stop him.



The Texas First Bank was broken into that day with strange men pointing guns at the bank tellers screaming at them. Some of the men kept guard watching over the bank tellers while others quickly grabbed cash.


In a frenzy one of the frightened bank tellers activated the silent alarm. Sirens blaring in the distance reverberated into the building.
“SHHIT! COME ON, BOYS! Let’s get out of here!”

Cracking the safe several of the others grabbed several bags of cash. Hustling out of the building they quickly shoved the bags into their stolen vehicles


“See Marcus? That wasn’t so bad, wasn’t it?” Sam said as they made their escape.

“ Sam, The cops are coming. You know that, right?”

Sam slammed on the breaks “Well then, let’s make a break for it.”

There were cracking sounds of guns being shot back and forth, while Sam tried to swerve the car, Marcus tried to hold off the cops from surrounding them. Loud sirens could be heard on the road and they were getting closer all time time. “GIVE UP” The cops yelled as they slammed into the car trying to get it to stop. Soon the car was swung toward the tree and a crash occured.

Soon it happened there, the car slammed into a tree. His brother was dead, bleeding in the front seat of the car. Two cops were hurt in the process. Marcus didn’t do it, his brother was bleeding and not responding. Marcus was getting worried and shaking the man first cautiously and then screaming then for his brother to wake up. The cops called for backup and then other cops got up and pointed at the car surrounding it as Marcus was blamed for everything: Two cops dead and his brother died that day.

He went to court the next day, blamed for two innocent cops deaths and his brother’s death he didn’t cause. The jury murmured over his case and came back with the verdict: It was to go to Death row. The man was guilty to die by Lethal injection the very next month.

He had to go through his first death again, the same pain of the families crying outside the window, the same stinging poison going through his veins, everything.

He was a dead man walking.

He sat in a cell, others glaring at him angrily “What are you in for?”

Marcus sat there not speaking.

“What, not talking?”

One year later, a cancer-stricken woman came into Marcus’s cell begging him to sign his body over to Cyberdyne Systems. He refused for a while and then stood up and kissed the woman and signed his body over to Cyberdyne in the process.

Pawn… meet pawn.

The AI flashed a dentist chair of some sort where Marcus laid in front of the window and then the needle was stuck in as he didn’t say a single word. The pain and poison stung through his veins as he was dying then and there.

Except for the fact he stared himself on the table. It was scary. He never wanted to do that again.

A voice screamed for a second “ENOUGH!!!! AI stop for.. a second.”

The terminator found himself breaking. He was staring into his own soul of a scared and lonely man.

Except this wasn’t the end, not yet.

The Rooster felt his teeth grit, he could take a lot of shit so far. The death of his brother hit him hard but events to come would hit him even harder.




Judgement Day happened, He didn’t remember too much about it so far.
He was truly alone his second life, right...Or not?

“HELLO?” He yelled out walking through the wasteland Judgment day created.

Dark skies, broken bones and metal parts littered the ground. Nuclear fires from the missiles fired by Skynet burnt like fire pits in the ground. Marcus had no way of telling who he could trust.

Until a kid or was it a teen pulled him aside and pointed a gun at him as he turned it back at him after pulling a Resistance coat off a dead soldier.

It was going to be a long second life. Turns out the kid and his companion, Star wasn’t so bad. They almost became like son and daughter at times. It took a long time to get to know them though. He kept going.

All the way until he met Blair, his lover. That’s what really killed him. Every time she shot at him, it hurt him as much as it hurt his heart. The times they shared back then meant everything to him. And he meant it.

In the Omniverse, everything changed. His experiences of fighting Skynet, joining the Avengers and more and more members came back to bite him in the ass.


Then regrets started to flood back. All the arguments. Anger and screaming between the Avengers had crossed his mind. Every time Marcus had an argument with one previous member of the Avengers, so much regret flooded in.

The Vision had disappeared, leaving a hologram of hatred in his place.

“You scared our members away, Marcus. You are the weakest on your team.”

Marcus frowned. He wasn’t going to let the former leader of the Avengers talk him down like some kid.

“I was trying to help bring members back, Vision. Isn’t that what you want?”



A prison scene was shown back in Coruscant of Dust sitting alone being hurt in prison along with Koal.

Two voices echoed “You did this Marcus, You deserve to be here instead of us! You did awful things.”

Marcus held his head, anger and regret making the terminator step away.
Finally, Blair stepped in an angry grin on her face “You made me leave, Marcus. Look what you made me do!”

Blair tried to chokehold Marcus “KILL HIM!”

Marcus looked back with horrified tears in his eyes “BLAIR! Stop this … This isn’t you.. I didn’t do this.”

“Stop with your damn lies, terminator. I should've never trusted you. Maybe John Connor was right all along.”

Marcus just weakly fell to his knees, STOP! I.. SHIT.. can’t.. no...

He just let the tears fall in the dark, that was his breaking point there.

“STOP THIS! I don’t want to live my past anymore.”

The AI Simulator stopped, leaving the terminator to sit in the darkness, exposing his “wounds” to empty space.
[Image: marcus%20wright%20sig.png]

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#4
Ben was lost, plain and simple. It was more because this large mansion was so well large. As he paced down the halls of the place looking for a snack to eat while he was here that's when he noticed he had no idea where he was now. "You'd think there would be a few snack machines around this giant mansion right?" he would just ask aloud even though no one was there. Ben suddenly heard Marcus curse rather loudly as his words echoed through the halls.
"What's got Mister Marcus so upset?" he would wonder as he tried to run toward the source of the yelling but no matter what he did he couldn't find his way back to him. "Aw man! I think I'm lost." Ben said complaining before trying to find a way to contact Marcus again.
He put his hands to the sides of his mouth then yelled as loud as he could. "Marcus I'm Lost!! Where are you?!" he would shout out as his voiced echoed back through the halls and hoping that Marcus heard him. "If I had Wildmutt still I could just track him down but I'm stuck with just Heatblast." he found himself complaining more. "Stupid watch! Always making things harder for me!" he would say as he paced into where he wanted to go.
It was a rec room of sorts with games and a snack machine or two. Problem was he had no money and he didn't exactly want to wreck things just for a candy bar. "This is getting worse and worse isn't it?" he said sighing in defeat. "I wonder if I can find my way back to Mister Marcus somehow?"
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#5
The terminator stopped cursing when he heard the voice of Ben calling out.

He was quiet, wiping off any forced emotions he had at the moment and as the danger room simulation came to a abrupt end, he realized something. Whatever he was had ended and he was hoping this would be the new streak he needed.

He threw his leather coat back on in the dark and called out “Ben! In here!”

The lights were now on and the computer AI was quiet now.

Marcus smirked to himself “Heh, who knew computer AI had emotions?”
[Image: marcus%20wright%20sig.png]

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#6
As Ben heard the cursing stop he heard Mister Marcus call out to him.

It was not as easy to locate Mister Marcus but after enough calls to Ben he would be able to find him.

As Ben paced over to the war room and opened the door to see Mister Marcus in a dark room with what seemed to be a projector of some sort.

Ben moved into the room as his Omnitrix glowed a green light that made the dark room light up a bit like a flashlight in the dark.
"What's going on Mister Marcus, is something the matter?"

Ben would ask as he remembered him cursing rather loudly when Ben had gotten lost earlier.
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#7
The uneasiness of the dark room, showed Marcus’s tint of red through his eyes for what seemed like a quick few seconds. He saw Ben’s watch like device show through the dark as he turned and the lights flickered on.

Marcus quickly bit his tongue, placing on his emotionless face, pretending for a fact that Ben didn’t hear him cursing out loud.

But he’d have to explain sooner than later.

The terminator cleared his throat “It’s just something that came up a while ago, Ben. Nothing to worry about. Marcus was always pretty secretive about his own past that he often hid it to other Avengers.

“Cursing is something I do. You get used to it.”
[Image: marcus%20wright%20sig.png]

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#8
Moon Knight’s eyes narrowed in anger at Centurion. Placing a foot over one of the robbers he brought his other foot up into a swift kick knocking them out onto the ground, pointing a finger at Cade he gave a sigh followed by a low raspy growl.

“What was that? I thought I told you discreetly.” Letting out a groan he brushed a hand over his face. “You know we can’t make our presence known as we did at home.”  

"I was discreet!... Then they shot at me."

“But you know there’s always a more covert approach and you know that the Empire doesn't want us doing these- these heroics, do you not know that we could die doing this job. I don’t know what I would do if you would have gotten back into the hands of the Empire or killed by a criminal.”   

"Woah, dude, I'm not new to this, okay? I've been catching bad guys for a while now, so I know what kind of crap they try to pull. Besides, screw the Empire! We're Avengers, right? That's supposed to mean something. At least, that's what I thought when I saw those statues in the courtyard." Centurion shoot back pointing a finger towards Moon Knight.

“Of course we mean something! Neither you nor Marcus understands the severity of our situation, this team has lost too many and this world wants nothing to do with us. Hydra, Empire, criminals there’s too much for just three men to do… if- if Cap was here he’d know what to do..” Moon Knight lowered his head trying his best not to draw tears.  

"Well, he's not, is he?" Cade's voice lost its volume. But not its edge. "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."

Moon Knight kept silent for a moment before raising his head. "...Maybe you're right."

Cade finally stopped to take a breath. "Maybe I am."

"Maybe... I'm sorry." Moon Knight's voice came almost to a whisper "I think we all need  time to cope with our losses."

"Yeah." The discomfort of being the voice of reason to a far more seasoned crime-fighter finally caught up with Cade. "Let's just go before those Stormtroopers show up."

"Right." Moon Knight retorted motioning for the bank’s exit.  

-

Keeping a tight grip on the pilot controls Spector snatched off his mask allowing vision to focus on the flight path instead of being flooded with constant HUD analysis and routine checkups on his vitals. Although his body was focused on heading back to the mansion, his mind, however, was focused on other things.

Cade’s words rang through his head like a broken record stinging worse each time they repeated.

Maybe you need to man up and stop living in your own head.

Maybe the kid was right? Had he been living in his head most of the time? No, he thought to himself. Deep far inside the recess of his broken and crazy, as some people say, mind,  he knew Khonshu was real. He had to be, no manner of schizophrenia or personality disorders could have conjured up such a living thing as Khonshu. The god’s words felt so real, so deep, so alive. And the threat of Hydra, the Empire, and all things evil in this world was all too much for one person to handle. The thought of losing another loved one in the never-ending battle, like Captain America was far too much for Marc to handle. Like Cap he wouldn’t be able to lose another loved one, like Cap, Cade- Centurion was a loved one to the Moon’s knight of vengeance even if he’d only known the kid for a short amount of time.    

This was the reason why the Moon Knight worked alone, the reason why the Avengers needed to disassemble. The war with evil takes to many and to many was enough for Moon Knight. The guilt, the pain, and the anguish of fighting evil should only be on the Moon Knight’s shoulders, not others. He was supposed to protect the others, all who travel the night, all who deserve Khonshu’s protection and the other heroes were only endangering themselves.

Snapping out his thoughts Marc shifted the Quinjet’s controls as the jet closed in on the Avengers mansion, with swift piloting landing the aircraft. Making touchdown with the air pad tier four’s false sky began forming almost completely black clouds and within seconds hard rain followed. Lowering the loading ramp Marc followed Cade out patting the hero on the back upon stepping foot on the pad.

“Head inside Cade I have something I want to do.”

-

The rain pelted down like small pebbles splashing off of Spector’s face and white and black armor. Days like these where everything feels like it’s against you were the hardest for Marc. A day like this left him only to think, only to relive mistakes and past sins. Lifting his head his eyes narrowed locking onto the statue in front of him. His fists clenched in tight in anger and hurt.  

“Why?” His voice first said in a whisper. “Why did you betray us? We need you more than ever Cap. The Avengers… They’re... finished.” His face lowered again, brow furrowed and the skin on his nose curled.

“I don’t know how you did it.” Raising his head again. “My teammates disappearing and times as hard as these… I don’t know.”

Slowly he let his head down once more this time rain and tears dripping off his face. Clenching his fists hard he gritted his teeth.

“SPEAK TO ME DAMMIT! Speak to me.” His voice went to a whisper. “I’m sorry… sorry that I killed you, I should have found another way. I should have saved you.”

The rain pelted harder on him stinging his face with each contact.

“You know… Hydra is out there, your sworn enemy, Cap how are we supposed to stop them? We’re only three men, you had an army at your back. HOW! How do we fight back?”

"You do your best. We've faced insurmountable odds before, and we'll do it again. Hydra only wins if men like us stand by and do nothing. And trust me, Marc, I rarely had an army at my back. All it takes is a few good men, heroes, willing to lay down their lives for what they believe in. It's a war of attrition son. They only win if we give up."

Reeling his head back up his eyes widened in sheer surprise to a pure red hot fire of anger and his face curling to a sneer.

“How dare you speak to me in his voice.” Marc’s voice filled with venom.

“It was what you wanted to hear is it not?” The moon god retorted the head of the Captain America statue morphing into the god’s bird skull head.”  

“But you have no right!” Spector said pointing at the god.

“Foolish child!” Khonshu’s voice boomed stepping down from the statue pedestal. “Do you remember what your lady said all those years ago, back when you begged for your legs back?” He said morphing into the Moon Knight’s lover at the mention of her.

“You selfish son-of-a-bitch. You could always stand. You just didn't want to. Because it was hard. Didn't want physical therapy because it was hard. As long as it came easy. As long as you were young and it was easy you loved it. But the second it got hard. The minute you a little older. "Oh, it hurts. Every year past thirty is like dog years in this business." The voice of Marlene taunting Marc.

With a low almost animalistic growl Marc lunged for Khonshu but before mere seconds of contact, the moon god’s figure faded disappearing from his sight causing Marc to crash on the ground.

“Are you just going to quit frère just as you did back at home because things are hard?” Khonshu said appearing behind Spector this time as Frenchie.

Shouting in pure unadulterated rage Moon Knight spun around giving a hard right hook but as just only seconds ago, he was only punching thin air.

“Is this how you’re going to play it, soldier? Everyone else would die to Avenge you if you had fallen but you won’t do it for them or me cause of things could be difficult.” Khonshu said in Captain America’s voice reappearing a few distances away from Marc.

“No!”    

“Then get back into the fight cause no matter what anyone says one person can always make a difference and there’s always hope even in the darkest places. Do you want this team’s ideas and beliefs to fade away? Do you want me to have died in vain?”

Moon Knight dropped to his knees his hands clenched tight. “No...  I won’t ever let you fade away, I won’t let the team lose their hope.”
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#9
Cade liked to go for runs when he had a lot on his mind. The fresh air of the Hawaiian mountains, the soft rustling of leaves, the distant crashing of the waves, and the rush of adrenaline all helped him relax. Unfortunately, Coruscant was no Honolulu. Instead of swaying trees and sweeping mountain trails, the Coruscanti Tiers were cold, metallic zones sheeted with rain and patrolled by ice-white harbingers of fascism. So, for the young hero, there was nowhere to run from his problems. Instead, he sat in silence as Moon Knight piloted the Quinjet back to Avengers Mansion. The Silver Avenger tried to bolster Cade’s spirits with a pat on the back before telling him to go inside.

Cade watched Moon Knight make his way around the entrance of the Mansion towards the courtyard. As the vigilante’s cloaked form disappeared around a corner, the young Centurion snorted. Leave it to their glorious leader to disappear and cry to some statues instead of actually lead the team. Cade felt guilty for his thoughts, but he couldn’t help the anger. This wasn’t the same team he had been gung-ho about joining back at the prison.

He walked up the ramp into the main mansion, lost in thought. Normally, he would feel good about his work at the bank. He had put down a group of criminals with no civilian casualties and looked badass doing it. Hell, he had busted his ass to stop one of the robbers from snapping his spine on the bank’s perfectly polished floors. Cade’s armor retracted from his body, and he tore off his hoodie. He tossed it onto one of the many sofas that littered the main lobby and took the stairs to the main floor.

Cade, deep in his own head, found himself stalking the empty halls of the mansion like a hollow specter. What was it about the Omniverse that seemed to scoop the hope out of people? He shook his head and stopped walking. He found himself standing at an intersection of hallways. The T-shaped halls split left and right. Unfortunately for Cade, he had no idea where either hallway led.

“Great. Now what?”

It was strange, hearing his voice out loud after spending so much time in his head. It echoed throughout the empty building. He repeated himself, letting his frustration bleed into his tone.

“Now what!?”

Cade didn’t know who he was asking. He just wanted an answer. There was no Oceanus to give him ancient alien wisdom. He had no communicator with which to call Safeguard for a late night talk. No Janus buzzed through his helmet, spouting Prefect dogma. Like everyone else in the Omniverse, Cade was alone. His hand drifted to his hip. His fingers brushed the edge of the dark green beanie that peeked out from his pants pocket. His heart sank in his chest, hot anger replaced with a cold despair.

“... Now what?”

His eyes traced the hallways with uncertainty. Why was he having so much trouble picking a direction? Usually it was so easy just to follow his instincts. Now he was trying to impress Moon Knight, avoid the Empire, save the world, and be himself all at the same time. Every decision was a massive production, down to picking the next hallway. Cade scrunched his nose and scoffed before pivoting down the left hall. He muttered angrily under his breath, staring at the ground. He noticed his knuckles in the corner of his eyes. The skin was broken and blood was smeared across his fingers. Cade rolled his eyes and looked around the hallway. He caught sight of a bathroom a few doors down. The young man made his way over to it and swung the door open. He was met by a room tiled with linoleum that was immaculately kept.

He glanced in the mirror and froze. He looked so… terrible. His eyes were tired and bloodshot, bruises staining his skin from his fights in the prison. His dark green t-shirt sleeves rolled up as he leaned on the sink, revealing thin scars along his arms. He stepped back, staring at the stranger reflected in the glass. He tentatively pulled off his shirt and dropped it on the tile floor. He flexed his torso and ran his right hand across his chest. The tips of his fingers caught on raised scar tissue and irritated scratches that had yet to heal. He winced at an especially nasty bruise on his shoulder.

Cade tried to shake off the gravity of what he was seeing and leaned forward. He ran his hands under the icy cold water from the faucet. Blood and dirt ran down the sides of the sink and into the drain. He splashed water on his face, rubbing his cheeks. He stepped back again, staring at his body in the mirror. So many of those scars had stories that he had tried so desperately to forget. Cade noticed the hat sticking out of his pocket. He pulled on it, panic setting in. Blood was crusted on the lip of the beanie, likely from his knuckles. He stuck the hat under the faucet and scrubbed furiously.

“No, no, no…”

The blood wouldn’t come out. It stood there, laughing at him. The dark red stains on the perfect green hat refused to budge. Gwen’s hat deserved better. Gwen deserved better. This was his fault. It was always his fault.

“Come on, come on!”

Tears started to well up in the corners of his eyes and his breathing became ragged. His heart beat faster and faster. The room started to close in on him. Sweat began to bead on his forehead and chest. His hands shaking, he pulled the hat out from the faucet. It was soaked and freezing cold, but he hugged it close to his heart. Cade staggered back, the room spinning. He could barely breathe. He fell against the wall of the bathroom and slid to the ground. He tucked his knees close to his chest, fighting back tears. His fingers crushed the hat, streaking his chest with red water.

After what felt like forever, Cade’s body started to calm down. His heartbeat slowed, his breathing calmed, and the room no longer felt like it was the size of a briefcase. He raised his head and finally relaxed his aching muscles. He looked down at the hat, which was perfectly clean. Not a spot of blood remained on the brim. He sobbed, just once, before forcing himself to his feet. He looked in the mirror again. The scars stood out raw against his tense and sweaty torso.

He thought that he was past this. He had stopped having attacks weeks ago, weeks before being dragged into this hellish Omniverse. He felt vulnerable. He felt like a child. He felt…

“Broken.”

Just one word. It broke the silence of the halls, the same halls that had been screaming at Cade only a few seconds prior. That’s all he was. Cade was broken. He had thought he was stronger than it all, that being a hero would make him tough enough. But here, so far from home, with nothing but his girlfriend’s hat in his hand and all his scars exposed, he was reminded how very broken he was. Cade held the hat up against his chest again. He hadn’t been able to tell her before he left, how he felt. He had never taken the time to tell her how much she had really meant to him.

Cade abruptly stuffed the hat in his pocket and grabbed his shirt. It was spattered with dark spots of water from his episode, but he slipped it on anyway. One more glance in the mirror solidified his own gaunt face in Cade’s memory. Then he turned and left the bathroom, in search of the Danger Room. He needed something to help him vent. He needed time to think. Back home, Cade used to go on runs when he had a lot on his mind. The fresh air of the Hawaiian mountains, the soft rustling of leaves, the distant crashing of the waves, and the rush of adrenaline all helped him relax. Unfortunately, Coruscant was no Honolulu. Coruscant was Hell.
From Hawaii, With Love
[Image: W4PxwDv.jpg]
"Joe: You're gonna get the most dramatic entrance, dramaticc with two c's
Dust: you know what else has two C's?
Joe: What?
Dust: chicken nuggets"
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#10
Ben was not really sure what to do now as he paced around the danger room in thought. Not exactly something he was used to doing since he liked to be where the action was. But since there was no action to be had all Ben did was wait. Closing his eyes to see if he could get a little sleep he couldn't help but wonder to himself if Gwen and Grandpa Max were alright? Ben entered his thoughts to back when he was still there.

It was a nice yet very hot summer day which was very peaceful. A well earned peace as he had just stopped Vilgax from taking over the universe. He was sitting around the table with his family Gwen Tennyson and Grandpa Max Tennyson eating ice cream and enjoying the day.

Ben was full of smiles as he ordered a Sumo Slammer Sundae which was stacked up high and ready to eat. But before taking the monumental first bite he was warped to some place else entirely. His first bite would never happen and he was in front of a strange figure that spoke of its interest of him and this Omniverse. Shortly after that he found himself at a fountain with multiple verses surrounding it. Ben sighed remembering that he never did get to eat that Sundae as he tried to drift off to sleep.

But before he could drift off to sleep Ben heard loud metal like footsteps get closer to the room as it woke up Ben and he was ready to 'Go Hero' in a sense with his instincts up and prepared for battle. Marcus just shrugged it off as he seemed more curious about Ben's device but decided not to go to much on it as he motioned to Ben. "Looks like the others are back. He hears the clanking of feet on the cold metal floor as he resumes his cold emotionless face. "Over here." he would say as a young adult looking man walked into the room. The young adult then looked down at Ben with a grin.

"Woah, Marcus. Didn't expect you to find someone new so fast... especially a kid." The man says as he entered the room seemingly excited to see Ben. "Ooh, sweet watch! Is that alien tech? Badass! You know about aliens??"
The man would ask before Ben grinned back in a smug smile. "Know them? I can turn into them with this watch of mine. It's called The Omnitrix and it can turn me into 10 super powered aliens with different powers and abilities." Ben said proudly with his head held up high. "What!? That's so cool! What kinds of aliens??" Ben realized the the man was more interested than he thought so Ben turned the dial to show he only had Heatblast which looked like a flaming figure to the man and to Marcus if they saw it on the dial.

"I only have 1 right now but I used to have 10 before this whole Omniverse thing." Ben said before activating the Omnitrix.

Before the rest could speak anymore about this subject Ben showed them first hand that he was the real deal and not just some kid playing with some dumb toy and pretending to be a hero. "Time to heat things up!" Ben said before slamming down the dial as a green light enveloped Ben then red rock like scales moved up from his arm before completely covering him in volcanic rock then setting him on fire as he took the new taller but still human like for of Heatblast.

Ben did a victory like pose showing off his flaming hands and head. Ben had a smug grin as he took the others by surprise with this new form. It wasn't completely shocking for them surprisingly but they seemed stunned a kid could do something like that. "So what do you think guys? Pretty 'smoking hot' huh?" Ben chuckled to his own pun as he showed off a bit by playing a little with his form before tapping the dial on his chest and turning back to normal Ben. "It used to have a timer before but I think this Omniverse changed it so I don't have that. It's really cool so I can be an alien whenever I want! Though it's kind of lame I only have one form now." Ben said sighing a bit before asking them something. "Hey I'm Ben Tennyson. I already met Mister Marcus so what are your names?" Ben would ask curiously.
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#11
It was when Centurion first walked in is when Marcus was focused more on the alien watch on the new recruit, Ben’s hand. Sure, he’s seen computer technology mainly a AI named Skynet gone mad but here? He’s never seen a real alien watch before. This was all new to him.

“Hey, Ben. Wake up. The others are here.” He gently nudged Ben to awaken him from his nap.

The hero, Ben rubbed his eyes and yawned for a short bit “Ugh.. what time is it? Mister Marcus, is this the room you were talking about?”

“”Yeah, Welcome to the Danger room. This is where we get all our daily virtual fighting in when we need to practice for a upcoming threat.”

“That means you can go fight your own enemies when you need training or even you can practice on some of our enemies.”

Marcus nodded, placing a gentle hand on Ben.

“Listen, I know you are a smart kid already, but I’m just covering the basics for now. “

“But enough of the basics, let me take a seat.”

The terminator took a seat on a small boxed crate nearby.

“So I heard you were a hero back in your home world. What kind of adventures did you go on?” He crossed his arms but he was genuinely listening to Ben’s story.

“I was a plumber with me and my cousin, Gwen and my Grandpa Max.” Ben explained for a bit but it only made Marcus’s eye raise in confusion.

“Wait, a plumber? You mean fixing pipes? I was a car mechanic/carjacker in my past life but that didn’t bother me any.”

Ben blinked, just a little confused. “No, not that kind of plumber. The Plumbers are sort of like secret agents who fight hostile aliens.”

Marcus thought for a second. “Hostile Aliens? Hostile terminators? Why am I always in the same situation and different faces sometimes.” Marcus had to groan for a second.

“So instead of traveling through time, killing the rogue terminators like I did back in my world, you guys traveled through space and made sure hostile aliens didn’t attack the earth, right?”

“Well sometimes they already attacked Earth so I used this cool watch called The Omnitrix to fight them off.” he sighed thinking back from how he first got it.

Ben held out his arm to show the watch to Marcus. “This Omnitrix was actually meant for my Grandpa Max who is a veteran Plumber but I got it one night when it dropped to earth when we were on a camping trip. When I checked it out the pod holding it opened up and The Omnitrix attached itself to my arm. I can’t remove it even if I wanted to.”

Marcus raised a eyebrow at the “removing it off his arm” statement. “I could probably try to, but I honestly don’t want to rip your arm off doing it. I don’t know my own strength sometimes. Comes with being a cyborg who doesn’t know he is one.

Ben cracked a smile then chuckled. “Actually funny thing about that. An evil alien warlord wanted this for himself then tried to rip it off my arm since it basically can transform into any alien race out there with their powers. The guy was named Vilgax and he wanted to take over the universe.”

“I bet Vilgax didn’t meet the Avengers, then. He’s got another thing coming then. But being serious here, many villians tried to take over the Omniverse only to fall the same way they came.”

Just as Marcus nodded, trying to understand what that added to the story, Centurion walked in. Marcus smirked “Well speak of the devil, there he is.”

Centurion gave a light smile “Well, Marcus didn’t think you’d find a member so soon, just younger. “

The terminator nodded “We were waiting for you two to arrive, where’d Marc go by the way?”

Cen nodded, a little quiet “He wanted a bit of private time by himself.”

Marcus turned, solemnly “Yeah, I understand. Had to sort out my private issues too.”

The terminator turned “Anyways, I don’t want to put any more time on that topic since it seems a bit personal.”

“Ben, why don’t you introduce yourself to Centurion?”

Centurion nodded “Nice watch! You have alien experience? Cool! What can you do?!”

“So, Ben. This watch? It isn’t going to you know… turn on us?

He still had those moments where he winced at any computer tech or any tech for that matter who would turn on him or anybody.

He frowned, he wasn’t sure if this kid just wanted to join them for show or if he wanted to play with them.

He had to prove his mettle before joining the Avengers and Ben wasn’t going to get through him easy without a fight.

“Look, Ben I know you are excited to join us, bu-

He cut off when Heatblast flared to life.

Heatblast had a flaming head and flaming body which kind of made the terminator step back a bit, feeling sweaty and the pain sensors in his skin made his nerves crawl up through his false skin.

“Ow, be careful, Ben. I’m not used to a form like this.. Yet. Just watch to not catch things on fire.” He didn’t admit that he could feel pain through his skin but his emotions gave him away.

Ben, after turning back, stepped back “How was that?”

It was so quiet in the room that you could hear crickets moving their wings together as the three Avengers stared at each other.

Marcus breaks the silence first, like he was hurt “Fuck!”

Marcus cursed under his breath, he hated that terminator skin was so weak and it just flaked off just like that. Metallic silver shone under bloody flakes of peeling skin.

“Uh, about that..”

The whole peeling off skin would be another thing to explain over time to everyone.

“Hold on.”

He summoned a small pack to eat and new skin covered where the metallic bit was.
[Image: marcus%20wright%20sig.png]

[Image: ytLTikp.png?1]
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#12
"HOT DAMN!" Cade grinned, his eyes wide.

Heatblast smiled back pridefully. The flaming hero struck a pose, sticking his hands on his hips. The flames snapped and crackled with Ben's youthful energy. Cade couldn't help but be impressed. The Omnitrix was awesome. He had a million more questions, but they would have time for that later. For now, he had an anxiety attack to work over.

"Pretty 'smoking hot' huh?" Heatblast smirked before tapping the hourglass emblem on his chest. In a flash of green the burning Pyronite was replaced with an equally smug Ben Tennyson.

“That was AMAZING!” Cade slapped Ben on the back. “Welcome to the Avengers, hot stuff.”

Marcus turned away from both young men, patching the small burn marks on his arm. Cade caught sight of a glint of silver beneath the synthetic skin. The young Centurion pointed hurriedly to the Danger Room to distract Ben.

“Now let’s see what that watch can really do. Danger Room, Online.” The room released a low startup drone in response to Cade’s command.

The blank room suddenly buzzed with life. It rippled, the holographic node powering up and the lights flashing to life. Each hexagonal tile shifted slightly as it aligned itself with the complex mechanisms within the Room. Cade made his way out of the main entrance and around to the control room. Inside, he started to fiddle with the controls. Ben tapped his foot impatiently and craned his neck to catch a glimpse of what the other hero was trying to do.

The young boy finally grew tired of waiting. “What are you doing?”

“Giving us something to punch,” Cade said, his voice buzzing through the loudspeaker. “I gotta burn off some steam.”

He forced himself not to crank the dial up to an eleven, for Ben’s sake. Cade couldn’t help be but annoyed that Ben and Marcus had chosen now to go to the Danger Room. Some alone time inside the training dome would have been therapeutic for the young Centurion. As much as he wished he could summon some sort of Space God to pummel him into dust or an army that he could just punch until their sheer numbers overtook him, Cade punched in a basic prompt. Ben deserved a chance to try the Danger Room out without Cade’s inner demons overclocking the system.

One of the Room’s presets shimmered to life. The tiles began to move into place just as their textures loaded in and the various props flipped out of their hidden compartments. A panel below the control room slid open, allowing a selection of skeletal androids to drop onto the floor. They marched away into the landscape, disappearing behind a building as it rendered. By the time Cade had made it back to the Room’s entrance, Ben was beaming as he took in a massive cityscape.

“Woah… This is just like Tetrax’s simulation room!”

Cade shrugged. “I don’t know what that is, but this is definitely cooler. Now you probably don’t know Hydra, but they know us. I kept it simple enough.”

The buildings finished loading and the tiles finished sliding into place. Ben, Marcus, and Cade stood on a street. Large blockades of broken cars, rubble, fire, and even a few damaged tanks cut off their movement from behind and ahead, creating an arena. The androids from earlier appeared suddenly, their bodies holographically projecting Hydra uniforms in the same instant. The green and gold soldiers spread out in a wide arc.

“Those,” Cade said, pointing. “are the bad guys. We get to take out our frustrations on them. Don’t worry, those things are tough as hell. I doubt even Heatblast will manage any permanent damage that the Room can’t fix.”

Ben nodded and slapped the watch. In burst of verdant light Heatblast appeared. “Let’s do this!”

Cade smiled. He liked this kid. He rolled his shoulders and his armor slid over his body. Like a living liquid, the metal encased his body and stiffened around his muscles. Cade felt his body tense as the armor’s energy pulsed through its nano-machines. His helm wrapped around his jaw and cheeks, leaving his hair and face uncovered.

“Alright. You and me Ben. Feel free to jump in, Mr. Wright.” Cade’s palms charged up with orange light. “Danger Room, start simulation.”

The static Hydra goons burst into action with a bellowing “Hail Hydra!”

Any intentions Cade had to curb his aggression faded away. Heatblast exploded upwards and descended like a meteor on small group of soldiers. Cade focused on two, one armed with a stun baton and the other stupid enough to rush him barehanded. He felt his heart quicken and his chest tighten as anger at his earlier weakness bled into his combat. He swung wildly, without abandon, and slammed his fist into the unarmed Hydra soldier’s jaw. His mask shattered on impact, showering Centurion with fiberglass and specks of simulated blood.

The agent’s holographic visage shimmered from the force of the blow and the drone beneath was revealed for just a moment before it collapsed to the ground. Cade heard the buzzing a split second before he felt the shock of the other agent’s baton. It stabbed into his ribs, catching on the armor plating along the side of his body. He snarled in frustration and whipped around. Centurion wrapped his fist around the baton and squeezed. The electricity coursed down his arm, but he didn’t register the burning pain. With a jerk, he crushed the baton and yanked it out of the Hydra soldier’s hand.

Cade pivoted, launching his fist at the soldier. This one took the hit better than the last one and stumbled back. Relentless, Cade used his momentum to spin with the shattered baton and smash it over his opponent’s skull. The agent crumpled like paper. Cade stood for a moment, breathing heavily. He let the baton drop to the street, shattered, and glanced over at Ben. He was dancing between the Hydra goons, blasting flames with ease and confidence. Good. He hadn’t noticed. The young Centurion’s chest still felt tense, like he needed to do more. He glanced over to where more Hydra soldiers were pouring into the arena.

His fists tightened and the lighting within his armor crackled. He could feel his anger welling up in his chest, blazing like a fire, and he needed to work it out. Cade rolled his shoulders and cracked his neck before stalking towards the charging Hydra. Despite his frustration, it hit him that this was the only time he had felt comfortable in the Omniverse. Maybe he had always needed a good fight to keep his head clear. Maybe punching things was all he was good for. He was terrible at most any type of relationship, a terrible tactician, and he consistently caused nothing but problems for himself and his loved ones. For now, here in the Omniverse, Cade could start over. He could focus on being a weapon, and nothing more. He hated that idea, but after seeing his scars in the mirror it had struck him as the only solution.

At least now he knew what to do.
From Hawaii, With Love
[Image: W4PxwDv.jpg]
"Joe: You're gonna get the most dramatic entrance, dramaticc with two c's
Dust: you know what else has two C's?
Joe: What?
Dust: chicken nuggets"
Reply

#13
As soon as the others literally “flamed” and flew into action, Marcus growled as he pushed himself over the smouldering pile of HYDRA Tanks who insisted on frequently getting in the Avengers way. There was the familiar ugly sites of the green and gold octopi symbol bands on their shoulders. They were like walking targets in themselves.

Every time the Avengers found themselves with a break, it never lasted long.
Perhaps that’s the way Marcus liked it. It was a good way to pass time by in the Omniverse.

Hydra was from times way past in a history book long forgotten somewhere getting dusty but it didn’t mean the metallic man was going to let his mechanic parts get rusty sulking over a past that he long since buried with his old body.

“HAIL!- The foot soldier didn’t have time to even breath before Marcus slammed the metallic being into a green tank with the 7 legged creature on it.

“Just like old times.” Marcus smirked.

It literally was like fighting at home during Judgement day, except no nuclear winter.

A black tinted android kicked up a plasma rifle in hand.

“I’ll be ba-”

“Knock off T-800, stop stealing lines.” as plasma started to be shot at the rubble, it fading from view. Marcus leads the hydra soldier away while Heatblast “lights” things up, literally. As in a tank with a soldier inside lit up like a bonfire during a cold winter’s day.

The Hydra soldier barely had time to crawl out before the flames made him fall to the ground “AH AH AH AH AH.. Hot, hot hot..”

Just in time for Cen to take the man for a ride into the other android HYDRA footman who casually shot oddly familiar bolts of plasma wildly into others.

The others looked over at the spread out Avengers as all three backed up in typical fashion back to back.

All the Avengers took turns as Marcus threw the agent into the air, and Cen carried them and Heatblast lit them up like a torch.

The simulation wouldn’t deduct points for everyone working together, right?


It was then the droid came back like a terminator rising from the flames was getting VERY annoying. Even then, Marcus held back his main instinct flowing from the fact that he was a man in a metal body. Killing.

The Next Hydra droid would be slammed in the fact with a metallic bar conveniently placed in the pile of rubble next to Marcus. And the terminator did what he was experienced in doing, knocking things unconscious.

The metallic bar was slammed against the other HYDRA agent, simulated blood and more flying from them. The strange feeling coming from his gut bothered him but he had no idea what it was.

“CEN! Catch!”

Marcus threw the droid like a ragdoll like a star baseball pitcher. He had hoped these agents stopped under the flames in lava then again these droids felt no pain, no hurt no anger no nothing. Not like him. Not like the Avengers.

A second later, Marcus slammed a summoned syringe and stabbed it in the falsified agent’s neck, making the the agent suddenly convulse and fall to the ground.

Another agent flew past Cen toward Heatblast where the walking flame was ripping pieces of melting metal off a burning tank for the other Avengers to use.

“HAIL! AHHHHHHH!”

“Hope you like your day “heated” up! Ben’s puns were getting pretty bad, but he was getting more excited to be with the Avengers in the danger room. You can hear the piercing groans from the other Avengers with the smell of motor oil mixed in.

“Oh come on! I thought it was pretty funny guys!” Heatblast muttered under his breath.

There were of course the sounds of screaming people added in for extra training.

A HYDRA thug was holding a hostage but the terminator attempted to push the man’s arm behind his head until he let go of the hostage. The green and gold man pulled out a simple knife and ripped it across the terminator’s face. A trickle of blood ran down his face and the annoyance of the HYDRA agent showed as he forced a grin as he watched blood and metal show under Marcus’s skin.

The agent would regret the day he made him bleed. Marcus’s face turned emotionless and angry and he slammed his rock hard metal covering on the agent’s head.

An all out rampage occured as Marcus forced the agent back. Centurion slammed a fist into a agent trying to grab Heatblast.

“Shit… hot hott…”

“Language.”

…. Fuc- Centurion lifted him up only to slam him down.
[Image: marcus%20wright%20sig.png]

[Image: ytLTikp.png?1]
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#14
“I… I should have been better to the team. I’ve failed them all to this point. I won’t let this continue. I should… Should apologize to Cade and Marcus, they’re all that I have left... Besides you. ” Marc’s words fell harsh upon himself.


Raising both hands he planted them on both sides of his face whipping away the mixture of tears and stinging rain.


“Marc, Marc, Marc mourning for the ones you care about can be a hard thing, even I understand that, but you are being too hard on yourself. Could you have prevented their disappearances?” The moon god asked placing a skeletal hand on Spector’s shoulder.


 Marc looked up to Khonshu, his knees and legs were drenched from kneeling on the ground for so long.

"No, I guess not." 

“Then you are not entirely at fault.”


Moon Knight shot up his face sneering filled with red hot rage once more.


“But-- but we could be out there right now! We could be looking for them! We could be doing what the Avengers are supposed to do. Out there on the filed searching every single verse from top to bottem. We should be  avenging those who were lost by the countless acts of evil and tyranny. Protecting the innocent and making things better. But no we’re blocked from those things because of me! Because I’m too selfish to give up the past and put my sins to rest. To selfish and self centrerned to do a damn thing cause if there's only one thing you're right about it's that I'm pathitic.”


Khonshu’s bird skull only starred back, his right hand straightening his suit's white tie.


“You’re supposed to be this all-seeing god right? Well, what are we supposed to do now?! Tell me the future so that I can save myself and this goddamn team.”


“I know of the past and future but there are things that must be seen in the present. Things so important that they must be focused only in the now or perhaps all hope that we know will be lost.”

“Just like all the other times! You’re going to do nothing and if you do it takes shouting and begging!” Marc scream to the top of his lungs. 


“Fine! you want action-- results!? Then you, my priest shall have it!” 

Khonshu stepped close to Marc his hands reached out latching on to both sides of Marc’s head griping tight. 

“Do you remember all those years ago when we were working with the West Coast Avengers where it was me in control instead of you?”


“Yes.” 

Spector gritted his teeth as yellow energy began to form from the moon god’s hands, burning into his face. 

“If this is what solves our problems then let it be done!”


“So be it.” the Egyptian god retorted as Marc’s eyes began glowing a golden yellow hue.


Sparks of pure energy hummed jumping and dancing in all directions around them. The humming resonated louder and louder as both god and avatar rose from the ground floating in mid-air. The heavy rain and wind cycled around them as the glowing yellow energy forming from the two grew brighter and brighter until coming to a sudden flash.


Steaming from the rain Marc’s body rested on the ground both knees laid  ontop of the mansion’s courtyard. His chest rose up and down with each passing minute breathing in and out. Slowly raising his head his eyelids began to slowly open and with a gasp, the man stood up, a smile itching onto his face.


“I… Am… Free!”  

The Moon god brought both hands to eye level his smile growing larger by the second. 

“For so long I have waited, watching the course of time as I trapped peering through the eyes of my priests wishing that someday that I will walk among the mortal plains as I did several millennia ago. Today is that day where once again the god of vengeance prowls the night bringing forth its bitter taste to all who harm my followers, my travelers. Tonight is the night the moon no longer watches. No! The moon, I, Khonshu shall slay the terrors of twilight.”               


Reaching into what would be his Moon Knight’s belt pouch he swiftly yanked the piece of omnilium the being Omni had gifted them upon arrival of the Omniverse.


“If it were true the owner of this orb shall be able to conjure anything they ever needed. Let me be the one to put it to test.”


Khonshu brought high into the air his right hand’s fingertips clinging onto it tightly as the Moon’s god of vengeance forced their will upon it. Within merely second the orb began to glow humming with power and energy. The orbs glowing grow in brightness until encompassing over the Moon God’s body and causing the nearby statues to form shadows that loomed over the entirety of the mansion. As in the moment, the light had sucked all color from the area with its brightness the light died down. Clinching his fists Khonshu examined the changes that he had made with the omnilium. His threads were no longer when his Moon Knight wore with the white and black instead it was changed back somewhat to resemble what statutes and painting depicted Khonshu as wearing. Close to what his priest wore, the entire suit was all white with golden arm and leg bands, followed by with a golden belt with a falcon engraved into it. In the center was a golden ankh replacing the crescent moon that Marc wore.


“Close, though it resembles more of what Marc wore when he was with the West Coast Avengers, no matter, it shall suffice in my quest of--”  Khonshu’s words fell silent at the sound of screaming echoing off into the distance.


“Vengeance.”
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#15
“Those are the bad guys” the man named Centurion said to Ben as the simulation room flared to life. It was a familiar feeling to be on a team like this again. It brought back all those wonderful memories of his days as a Plumber. Fighting aliens of all sorts and saving the day. “Yep they look pretty bad to me. Okay guys let’s do this!” Ben said as he slammed the dial on his watch and with a flash of light green light he was again Heatblast.

“Hail Hydra!” the simulated soldiers cried out.

“Hydra?” Ben would repeat as he looked at the soldiers. “ I remember hearing that name in my history lessons at school. It was some sort of greek mythical creature with many heads right?” Ben wasn’t very good when it came to those classes though as he often slept through them but for some reason he remembered that little fact.

“Well whatever these guys are no match for us right?” Ben then noticed a few of the hydra soldiers were opening fire on him. “Not going to happen!” he said as his own fiery aura lit up and engulfed the bullets with their heat, melting the bullets before they could even touch him.

“Hope you like your day ‘heated’ up.” Ben cracked a smile at his own joke as he lit up his hands and threw a few fireballs at the soldiers in retaliation. Ben had no trouble with guys like this. He literally fought worse like actual resurrected dinosaurs from Dr. Animo.

These guys were nothing to Ben from his past experiences! Ben didn’t let down his guard as much as he would have thought as a few of them tried swinging at him with high-tech heat blades, like those from those old movies he liked to watch about Star Fighters. But this was no time to remember back to those fun times he had with his family, no this was his time to prove himself to the Avengers.

Dancing between the blades as he easily dodged and weaved past the blades before grabbing them with his bare hands, stopping them before absorbing the heat from the blades themselves and into his own body.

The hilt of each of the heat blades were all that were left after he absorbed them. “Sorry hydra guys but I think you missed the memo about playing with fire.” Ben said before forming fireballs in both his hands. “You play with fire, you get burned!” Ben said heroically as he blasted the hydra goons away from him thus knocking out the simulated soldiers into a nearby building.

But it was not the end for Ben’s day of fighting these hydra guys as he saw more problems arriving in tanks and helicopters. “More of them? That ‘soots’ me just fine.” Ben cracked another joke but didn’t really crack up about this one as much. He was too focused on the tank right now. The others were taking on helicopters with their wonderful teamwork, something Ben would need to practice more often with his new team.

He spread both of his hands outward then put more of his fiery aura into his arms then charged the tanks with enough speed to meet the distance between the goons and himself. The speed was not super or even really fast but it was just enough to catch the Hydra soldiers off guard as Ben did a solid punch to the tank and set fire to the inner parts of it making them retreat within enough time to escape from the oven like heat that was practically cooking them from the inside of the tank.

Ben was still hardly done as he made sure that these Hydra guys could not come after him again by ripping off the treads of said tank as they burned to hot metal. “That’s what you get for ‘treading’ where you don’t belong!” another pun by the amazing Ben as he cracked up at that one.

This one however made him let down his guard as one of the Hydra soldiers tried a sneak attack on him in order to hold him hostage. Which would have worked if he wasn’t on a team but since he was on a team Centurion came in with a timely save and punched the sneak attacking Hydra goon out of the way as Ben looked over to see another one going for Centurion.

“Cen guy duck!” Ben did try to give some forewarning to him but he could only do so much as he blasted a fireball over Cen’s head and right into the second sneak attacking Hydra agent right into a wall. As Ben was about to call it there one more foe appeared from the smoking heap that was most of the army that was the Hydra goons.

From the ashes came a giant of a man or was it a robot? Ben could not tell but it looked like one of those Terminators that Marcus mentioned back then. Except it was huge in size and mass. “What is that?!” Ben would ask as the massive giant form of the Terminator strode onto the field in front of them. “Man I wish I had Way Big now..” Ben complained as he saw this behemoth walk toward them equipped with many weapons that were ready to be used on the team.
What could he do? All he could do now is hope his new team could solve this problem with Ben to beat this simulated giant Terminator.
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#16
Marcus looked over at Ben, who had to change his mindset to serious when he was in Heatblast. The strange young man seemed to enjoy the moment of beating down the HYDRA agents.

Instead of feeling good in the training simulation, the tension of Marcus built up into one thing after another. This felt like a life or death situation to him. It just felt like another day just scraping by in Judgement day waiting for a terminator to pick him off.

Everyday was awash full of paranoia floating in Marcus’s head.

He bashed a HYDRA agent in. All it took was that moment of “terminator mode” that made him snap back to his old ways. They may not be “survivors” per say but these HYDRA goons took things away from him that kept him calm.

He worried about the Avengers in the back of his human mind. What if they turned on him? Would he have the right moves to counter such a move?”

Just like his inner critic tried to call him out on.

Skynet might of been at the bottom of the ocean but there were twisted ways of digging and attaching to Marcus’s mind that made him think Skynet never died in the first place.

It snapped Marcus back to reality when there were screams coming from a certain direction. Heatblast was already on the move and Marcus would follow his own way.

It was only then a tank started to batter Heatblast only for it to start melting at his touch. Marcus was about to aid when a loud, mechanical wurr stopped the HYDRA agents coming as they spread out.

“TERMINATOR!” Marcus could swear he could hear the sound of John Connor yelling the background of that sentence except there was no savior of the world here to save him, no Blair to comfort him, No Kyle or Star to make him laugh. He had to save himself.

The T-800 model that looked to be above his head was barely in production at home. Skynet had just learned about this model and started to produce it early. At least the non-reprogrammed one.

“Heatblast, incoming!

Except this T-800 was fully loaded, flesh and bones.

It still was extremely dangerous to say the least.

The flaming hero kept the HYDRA agents from getting any farther while the T-800 kept moving toward Marcus, its red screen trying to focus in on Marcus’s name.

Marcus grabbed the T-800 and pushed it to the ground, shoving and pushing him wrestling with it while Ben kept the “heat” on.

“How long do you need, Marcus!”

Marcus grunted, avoiding a T-800 punch to his face “It’s going to be a while!”

Ben turned and kept up.

Marcus eyed for any dry liquids draining from a city truck of “Liquid Nitrogen” tipped over. Marcus didn’t get far as the T-800 grabbed him and lifted him up, trying to do the same to the other terminator.

It only changed when Ben went back, noting Marcus was in trouble and melting a metal street lamp pole to throw to Marcus.

It was then Marcus slammed the pole into the terminator over and over and over.

The T-800 looked and noted Marcus’s “weakness”

It began to look for something heavy, anything heavy.

Marcus refused to cry out for help, to do so was weak.

The T-800 grabbed a close box and slammed it right into Marcus’s chest as it tried to get Marcus to back up against a wall.

The machine slammed it over and over into Marcus’s chest and it made him wince in hurt as his chest was affected.

He was finally forced to scream as he fell down, skin showing and unconscious.

Heatblast stopped and worried when the agents began to pour on again.

“Uh, Marcus.. Come on.. Now isn’t the time for a NAP! … HELLO?”

Ben worried when the terminator didn’t move.
[Image: marcus%20wright%20sig.png]

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#17
Cade was dragged out of his cloud of red anger by a cry from Marcus. He jerked around and saw the terminator collapsing to the ground. Heatblast rushed over to him and took up a position in front of the fallen Avenger. A massive robot, what the young Centurion could only imagine was another Terminator, loomed over them. Cade was struck with a pang of worry and guilt before suddenly growling in frustration. This was the Danger Room, not a warzone. They might as well be playing Laser Tag or Paintball, how does a well-trained soldier like Marcus go down to a hologram? Distracted, Cade didn’t see the approaching Hydra goon behind him. The soldier leaped onto Centurion’s back and wrapped his arms around the young man’s throat. The irony wasn’t lost on him.

A swift knee to the back of Cade’s legs robbed him of his footing and he felt his throat squeeze closed. He only grew angrier, clawing at the soldier’s face. He had come to the Danger Room to burn off steam, but instead, he had to babysit Marcus and a new kid. Now he was being jumped as payment for his lack of focus. Cade felt a rising ire for the digitally rendered Hydra agents. They weren’t real men, more like glorified NPCs, yet Cade couldn’t help but be consumed by emotion. Nothing seemed to be working out for him lately. The soul-crushing weight of his earlier existential crisis returned and wrapped itself like a cold snake around Cade’s heart. He was on the verge of enraged tears as he fought to breathe, the weight of the day’s struggles working in the goon’s favor. He managed to dig his armored fingers into a ridge of the soldier’s mask, but it wasn’t enough of a hold to do much else. The cityscape began to dim and darkness set in along the edges of Cade’s vision. The orange lightning in his armor flared up, crackling and spiking into the surrounding asphalt. Despite his armor’s best attempts, it could not dislodge the soldier. Cade could see the holograms shimmering, likely a result of his slow loss of consciousness. His soul raged against surrender, but something else in the young man’s head told him it was okay. This was how it needed to be. At least this way he wouldn’t hurt as much. Everything faded into emptiness.

Then a familiar voice broke the blackness.


“Cade?”

The young man looked up from his history textbook, eyes tired. “Yo, what’s up.”

Gwen was flopped across his bed, apparently just as exhausted as he was. Her army jacket was hooked onto the bed frame, leaving her in a sleeveless white shirt. A few hair bands were wrapped around her wrist in case she needed them to tie back her fiery red hair. She had propped up some of Cade’s pillows to support her back as she read and a half-empty bottle of orange juice perched on the bedside table served as her lunch for the day.

She closed the book and sighed. “I need a break. You do too.”

Cade shook his head. “Nah, there’s a lot more stuff about…” He glanced at the pages, trying to recover his place. “... Mesopotamia to read about.”

Gwen groaned and sat up, crossing her legs and putting the textbook on the bed beside her. She glared at Cade, who sat on a rolling chair near his room’s small desk. The desk was strewn with half-written papers, doodles, and notes. A single desk lamp illuminated the pages of Cade’s book. The rest of the room was graced with the peaceful orange light of a Hawaiian sunset. It was messy, as most boys’ rooms are, but at least all the dirty clothes were in one corner. The young man himself was drooped haphazardly over the rolling chair, his feet up on the desk. Gwen rested her face on her palm, squishing her freckled cheek and leaning on her knee.

“We’ve been studying for over two hours. A five-minute break isn’t going to kill you.”

“You don’t know that,” He responded, his tone sarcastic. “I heard five-minute breaks are the most dangerous one- OW.”

One of his own pillows bounced off of his head and he looked up to see Gwen pouting as she wound up for another throw. “You’re ridiculous, you know that?”

“So I've been told,” Cade winced and picked up his pillow from the floor. “But I need to pass this test, Gwen. It’s important.”

“Cade…” She sighed, dropped the pillow, and swung her legs over the side of the bed. “You’re gonna hurt yourself.”

“I don’t think reading ever killed anybody, Gwen.”

“No, not just that… We’re really worried about you Cade.” The girl crossed her arms and looked away, hugging herself. “I’m really worried about you.”

He finally looked up from his book and looked at his friend. Her concern was engraved in her expression as she stared at the floor for a few seconds. Her drooping shoulders and nervous stance stirred up intense guilt in Cade’s chest. She looked up at him, her electric green eyes piercing his soul. Despite the sudden turn in the conversation, Cade knew this was coming for a long time.

She continued, her voice gentle and worried. “If it’s not Centurion, it’s school, and if it’s not school, its work. You have to remember to live life, Cade. You’re running yourself ragged.”

He removed his feet from the desk, sat up, and tossed his pillow back onto the bed. “Gwen, I have responsibilities. Really big ones. I can’t put them off just because I’m tired.”

“You know that’s not what I mean.”

She shook her head, exasperated. “You’re missing the point. You’re only human Cade; you’re not invincible… You don’t have to act like it.”

He didn’t know how to respond, so he just kept looking at her. After a few seconds, she huffed and hopped off of the bed. She rushed over to him and grabbed his wrist, pulling his arm straight and turning it outwards. His palm faced the ceiling and the soft underbelly of his arm was exposed. She traced a long scar from just above the crook of his elbow down to his palm, locking eyes with Cade the whole time.

“Your armor is unbreakable, Cade, not you. One day you’re going to get one of these, except it’ll never get the chance to heal. I don’t want that to happen to you.”

He stared into her eyes as they glistened with tears. After a few seconds, he looked away and pulled back his arm.

“I think you’re being way too dramatic. I’m just trying to study.”

Gwen winced and closed her eyes. Why was he so pig-headed? She reached up and pulled off her green beanie, running her fingers through her hair with the other hand. She tossed the hat onto the bed and sat on the floor, her back to the bed frame.

“Cade, Kirby and I care about you a lot. You’re our best friend. But sometimes you won’t talk to us, and it hurts. You’re so obsessed with being this big superhero that you’re killing yourself.”

“No, Gwen!” Cade snapped back, waved his hands in exasperation. “I don’t care about being a superhero, or getting my name on a t-shirt, or someone making plushies of my armor! I never have!!”

She flinched at his sudden outburst. Her face blanched and she pressed herself against the bed.

“I was in space for a YEAR trying to do my freaking job! I fought aliens and monsters, and I did it all for everyone back home because I care! I’m sorry if me missing a few nights of sleep bothers you, but it bothers me a ton more when something bad happens and I know I could’ve stopped it. You don’t know how it feels to be told it's your job to save the world. You don’t understand the pressure I’m under or the crap I had to do to keep you guys safe! So leave me alone so I can do my Goddamn job and pass this test!”

He forced himself to stop, the wide-eyed expression on Gwen’s face cutting his heart in half. He instantly regretted shouting at her. He knew precisely who he looked like to her now. He hated himself for it. She had pressed herself up against the bed frame, and there was fear in her eyes. Cade closed his own eyes and took a deep breath. He put a hand to his forehead and rubbed it across his face.

“I-I’m sorry Gwen, I-”

She stood up, tears running down her freckled cheeks. A pained scowl had found its home on her face. Gwen hastily snatched her backpack and stuffed her textbook into it. She rushed for the door.

“Call me when you’re down feeling sorry for yourself Cade. Maybe I’ll figure out how to understand the pressure by then.”

“Gwen…”

“Good luck with the test, Faulkner.”

She slammed the door behind her, and he could hear her crying as she rushed down the hall. He couldn’t find the strength to move for a few seconds. The numbness in his body glued him to the chair as he stared into nothing. Flicking his eyes up to the now empty bed, he caught sight of a spot of green. Cade forced himself to stand and step over to it. On top of the blanket sat Gwen’s hat, her favorite hat. The dark green, innocent as it seemed, almost tore down the floodgates that kept Cade’s heart sealed. He felt the tears try to push their way into the outside world, but he refused. Instead, Cade bit his lip and rushed for the door. He grabbed his hoodie off of the back of the chair and yanked it over his head before stuffing the hat into his pocket. He tugged his door open but froze in surprise. 

A tall black figure stood in front of him. They seemed to rise impossibly high, the ceiling appearing to go on forever. Cade stepped back, confusion setting in. This wasn’t how it had happened. He could still remember that day clearly. He had rushed to Gwen’s house, unobstructed, and then been whisked away to the Omniverse as he raised his hand to knock. The creature in front of him merely stared, their shoulders and head hidden in the shadows of the roof and their glowing red eyes the only indication of where they were looking. Cade narrowed his eyes. Something was wrong. This wasn’t real, was it? That’s right… he was in the Danger Room. None of this was real. This wasn’t even the simulation he had input. The creature kept staring and Cade stared back. There was something terrifyingly familiar about its hidden visage. The young man was terrified of the massive horned silhouette but more terrified of what they were doing in his memory.

“Why do I know you?”

The thing remained quiet for a few seconds before a deafening voice rumbled inside his bones. Cade dropped to his knees, crying out in pain as the voice overwhelmed his senses. The room shook and the universe seemed to come apart at the seams as it spoke.

Ȋ̶̛̕͜͠ ̷̝͙̞̱̓̈w̵̧̔͒̾ā̸̧̤͒̽ǹ̸͜t̷̠̗́̇͐ͅ ̵̬̎͝t̴̠̞͕̅o̴̥͎̯͂̄̽ ̴̥͇̀̈͠͝g̶͔͕͎͑o̵̻̎ ̸̛̮̗̥̈̕h̸̝͖̖͆̌̾͝ŏ̵̢̞͉̇̃͘m̴̫̲̗͊e̸͕̰̝̥̅̃̓̏.̶̧̖̳̇ ̷̹͈̑̊T̸͈͕̃ͅh̵̨͍̯͚͐ę̶̖̈́̌͆ỳ̸̦͉̬̞̋̿̂ ̵̳͇̀̓͋̑p̴̮̻͆̀r̴͇̠͐̎͂̕ó̵̳̘̲m̵̨̰͕̔̎̐̌i̴̡̡͉̖͗͑̃͋s̵̢̩̞͗̄̍e̸̳̜̻̍ḑ̷͇̈́͆͐̀ ̷̲͝ͅt̸̰̠͖̆o̵̩̕ ̶͎͖̱͛̔̈́͝s̸̢̟̖̬̔̚͝ẹ̶̖͚̥̔̋͛͑n̸̠̜̱͌d̶̢͍̈ ̸̟̺̾̃m̷͍̿e̸̱̯͍͒̅̄̈́ ̴̛̻̳̌̈́͝h̴̼͂̏͑͑ö̴̢́̾̔̕͜ͅm̷̹̘̐̏ë̶̮͙̼̣́.̶̦͔̒̾ ̷̳̍͗Ì̷̱͕͉̐ ̸̭̪͍͘m̴̧̻̔̓̚ͅi̵͚̯̦͉͝ş̵̹̪͒͌̾͑s̴͊̔͑͘͜ͅ ̸͔̹́̀d̵̥͕̜̏͐͌à̷̹̙̝̋͠d̶̬̜̗̋ḏ̷̜̥̳̐͝͠͠y̶̗̭͒ ̴͕̘̕a̷̟̹̗͈͆̾n̵̳̪̽͑̽̈d̴͕̞̠̉͜ ̵̫̫̞̽̉m̶͖͈̆͜õ̴̳̦͔̥m̶̳̼̽̈́͐͊m̴̤̀͑͂ÿ̷̧̡̳̝́̃͋.̶̹̫̟̒́

An inhuman terror clutched at Cade’s heart as the creature seemed to grow infinitely larger. He tried to remind himself he was still in the Danger Room. This had to be an illusion of the computer. His body didn’t listen and his fear only grew. The young man screamed louder and louder, exploding to his feet and swinging madly at the monster. In an instant, it was all gone. The house was replaced with the Danger Room city simulation. Cade’s knuckles stung from the punch he seemingly had not landed. He looked ahead to see a shattered Hydra Agent slumped against the wall ahead of him, the apparent victim of his wrath. Cade spun around, trying to make sense of what had just happened. Heatblast was across the shattered street pitching fireballs at the massive Terminator as they stomped towards him. Marcus was still unconscious on the ground. Surrounding Cade was a pile of broken Hydra soldiers. His body ached, like he had been fighting for hours, but Cade’s brain knew it had been barely a few seconds since he was being choked to death by a simulation. He glanced down to his left hand, the hand that had been clawing at the agent choking him, and saw a robotic helm gripped tightly in his hand. His fingers were dug almost to the knuckle into the metal chassis of the drone, and the holographic shell flickered madly as it tried to maintain the Hydra facade. Disgusted and terrified, Cade tossed away the head and stumbled back from the carnage he had caused.

He struggled to control his breathing and remain calm. Cade refused to have another attack in the middle of a Danger Room session, let alone in front of the other Avengers. He refocused on Marcus and Heatblast’s plight and saw the Pyronite dive out of the way of an especially devastating mass of rubble thrown by the Terminator.

“Mister Marcus!? I could use some help over here!”

Wright didn’t move. Cade pushed his emotions down into a tiny compartment for later reflection. Instead, he sprinted for the Terminator. Without warning and purely on instinct, Centurion felt his body lift off from the ground. The nodes on his back flared to life and a cushion of electromagnetic energy pushed him into the sky. He was flying again. Cade added that to the list of things he could worry about later and zoomed toward the massive endoskeleton and Ben. He charged up a surge of energy inside his palms and cut power to his boosters. The momentum of his flight carried the Centurion across the street. He dove at the robot like a meteor, hand blazing with lightning. With a roar, Cade slammed his fist into the Terminator’s face. The metal gave way like paper, crunching up beneath the strike. A massive shockwave blossomed from the impact point, shattering the remaining windows in the adjacent buildings. The Terminator stumbled back, a deep, buzzing drone serving as a cry of pain. The Endoskeleton struggled to regain its footing as Cade rolled onto the street. He pointed at Marcus as he kept running.

“Grab Marcus, this thing isn’t supposed to be here. I got this.” As he ran another instinct overtook him and he raised his palms. 

Centurion slid to a halt and planted his feet, hands raised, and let the energy flow. The satisfying kick as bolts of solar power burst out of his hands and slammed into the Terminator brought Cade back to old battle and better times. He tried to focus on the present, his head still spinning from what he could only assume was a simulation-induced hallucination, and kept blasting the massive robot. It managed to recover and started stomping towards the Centurion. It’s shattered face hung off of the mandible and skull. The torn chunks of metal clanked onto the ground, revealing the glowing red orbs that comprised its eyes. With another metallic growl, the T-800 swung a fist at Cade. He stopped firing and tucked his arms into brace for the impact. At the last moment he projected his Phalanx Barrier to absorb the impact. The fist slammed into Cade’s palms and jammed his shoulders as he tried to catch the swing. Cade slid back a few inches but managed to hold back the arm.

With an angry shout, Cade yanked on the arm. The Terminator stumbled forward. Cade yanked again, this time using his armor’s flight nodes to boost the force of the pull. With a tearing of metal the arm ripped free of its housing. Enraged, the T-800 used its other limb like a hammer to smash down on top of Centurion. Before he could land the strike, however, a burst of flames exploded onto its chest and face. Heatblast sprinted around the massive endoskeleton, tossing fireballs to distract the robot.

“Hey, tall dark and ugly! Over here!” The Pyronite rolled under a thrown chunk of concrete and released another torrent of flame.

“Ben, what are you doing here!? Where’s Marcus?” Cade took a second to regain his bearings and drop the severed arm.

“I got him out of the way, but I’m not missing out on any of the fun!”

Heatblast managed to get the T-800 to give Cade its back; a fatal mistake. Centurion launched himself upwards and latched onto the endoskeleton’s spine. He started to tear at the wires and tubes that wrapped around the mechanized column. The Terminator convulsed as its systems shut down and its hydraulics failed. Cade pressed his hand into the spine, between the column and the ribs, and started blasting solar flares deep into the chassis. Each explosion of ionic energy shook the Terminator until finally Cade jumped off and landed back on the street heavily. The T-800 swayed for a moment then fell with a crash. Cade approached the fallen machine and leaned over its broken face. The metal had been torn away and melted, leaving it scarred. Entire panels had been bonded to the wrong section like a Frankenstein’s monster of metal and carbon steel. Cade watched its dead eyes as he caught his breath. Then it blinked. 

One eye burst back to life and snapped its attention to the Centurion. He jumped back, but the rest of the Terminator didn’t move. Cade took a tentative step closer. The eye stared for a few seconds, then the voice returned. It shook Cade to his very core to hear that terrifying, grating, demonic voice in his head. It was projecting through his armor, speaking to him via his helmet, and Cade could see it trying to find its way around his suit systems.

N̵̡̆o̷̭͙̯̊͒͠w̷̟͉̍̚ ̸̱̮͝I̷̹̥̓̽̊ͅ ̶͕͇̹̏̏͠k̶̬̜̱̋̔͑ń̷̺̝̘̏o̷͓̰͛͂w̵̛͙̣̾̀.̶͎̲̳̏̓̈́ ̸̼̪̮́̈́I̷͙͇̅̍͐ ̸̮͙̭̊̈k̴͚̻̜͐̚n̴̜͍̼͆̃͊o̶͕͉̅̿͘w̵̪̼̽ ̷̗̔̀h̶̢͕͋̇́ọ̵͚̉̕w̸̨̟͓̉ ̸̻̏ỹ̸̩̓o̴̭͙͝u̷̼͛̿ ̸̹̎f̵̻̾̇ỉ̴̠̙͉̕g̷̡̱̖̿̊̀h̴͙̽̾t̶͎̻̟͛.̶̥͎̾̈̕ ̸̪͕͔̈́S̶̘͌̕o̷̩͓͛́ ̵͎̊̏̈́ä̶͖̘̼́ń̸͇g̴̟̔͋r̸̡̮̝̉̑͝y̷̝̏.̴̦̬̻̎̏ ̸͍̖̏̕L̵̫̤̗͑͆͝ĩ̸̼̃k̷̲̫̍̌é̵͕̋̈́ ̵̤̻̟͆̀m̸͖͛͛ḙ̴̖̣̊̎̚.̷̢̈́̋̋͜ ̷̣̿̓́D̵̢̓o̵̪̽̒͠ ̷̹͊̈y̸̥̖̲̋͂̔o̵̞͎̫̅ù̶̧̞̀̀ ̷̽́͜m̷͎̕i̴̠͚̣͊s̵̗̭͈͆s̷͙̥̤̈́͝ ̷̥̮͗h̸͚̗̱̋̿́o̴̘͍̩͠m̴̻͚̱͝e̴̡̊̈́̐ ̵̤̙͌͜C̴̜̘͒̑̒e̴͈͙̾͑̀n̵͈͙̾̑͒ͅẗ̶̗͓́̍͊u̴̯͌͝ṙ̵̘̏̕ì̶̗̦ö̵͚̹̼́̽n̶̠̈́͝?̵̧̹͂̐ ̴̲̟͛͗̓I̷̞̥̯̿̒ ̸̭͉̳͂m̶̧̦͕̍ỉ̶̞̰s̸̻͋̂s̷͈̯̣̉ ̷̳͔̀h̷͈̃̈́͜ǫ̶͇͙̍͝m̶͓̣̭̓ȇ̴̛̼̤̖.̷̻̪̒̄̓ ̵̤̟̏Ȉ̸̺͛ ̴̣̘̘̊̆͠ẇ̵̨͜a̴̤̽̕n̴̛͔̝t̶̪̔͘ ̷̭̈́̚ẗ̶̢̬́ô̶̡̺̬ ̶̧͂g̵͚̝͝͝o̸͔̔̑ ̵̙̫͑͐̉h̷̜̰̍ṓ̸̖̞m̶̹̘͋͊͒e̴̩̥̓̐̚.̴̤͓̀ ̵̥̈K̶̜͌̐ì̴̃͜ļ̸̜̩͌̕̕ĺ̸̙̟͕̄̎ī̸͔̥ṇ̵̘̉ǧ̷̭̐ ̴̯̥͔̔̈́͛y̷̼̓ơ̷̠̯ű̵̺͙͈ ̸͔̖̙͊ẉ̸̟̽̽̽i̶̧̐l̶̬̜̐͗l̷͉̔ ̴̟̘̱̔͂t̵̯͔̂͒̆a̸̖̓͝͝k̷̫̻̒͑̿e̴̤̞̞̔ ̶̛̰̎͒m̸̡͙͎͊ȇ̷̞ ̷̡̉͘͝ȟ̵̯͆̚ơ̶̼m̶͕͌͠ẹ̴̍̍.̶̨̖̐

Cade shouted in disgust and stomped onto the Terminator’s melted skull. He did it again, and again. He stomped until the blinking red eye was shattered and its housing was flat against the pavement. Heatblast walked up to the T-800’s destroyed chassis and stood across from Cade.

“Everything okay?”

“Yeah,” Cade lied, forcing a smile as his mask slid back into the armored helm to show his face. “Good work bud. Not bad. Now let’s see if Marcus is okay.”

Ben smiled and jogged back towards the entrance as the Danger Room simulation started to fade away. The holograms buzzed and disappeared and the buildings shimmered into oblivion. The massive hexagonal plates shifted and clanked as they returned to their original positions and the props and robotic corpses were sucked into compartments beneath the floor. The Terminator glitched a few times before disappearing along with the other holograms. Cade stood there among the dismantling simulation, staring at nothing. The voice haunted his mind, but he couldn’t remember why it was so familiar. Was it just the Danger Room torturing him? Why would it do that? There was definitely no massive Terminator as part of the simulation he had selected, so something had gone wrong. There weren’t supposed to be simulation-induced hallucinations either. It was likely just a glitch. Moon Knight had mentioned once that the Danger Room could interpret brainwaves and memories and process them in a 3D environment. Cade decided he could worry about it later and headed for the exit.

It had been one hell of a day and he felt beaten; both literally and figuratively. He couldn’t help but think about Gwen after what had happened in the Room. Despite the painful memory it had been so wonderful to see her face again. It had been bittersweet. He found himself smiling a bit as he imagined her wonderful smile and how angelic her laugh always sounded. His hand drifted to where his pocket would be under his armor. She had always been his anchor. Gwen never failed to remind Cade of what was important. Even if he had been too stubborn to listen when she said it. Maybe all he needed was a break. Five minutes never killed anybody after all.

--

With the Danger Room devoid of Avengers the lights had dimmed to save power. The Room’s AI was performing its hourly diagnostics check to ensure the security of the mainframe. The scan zipped over line after line of complex code. The blanket of 0s and 1s that comprised the Danger Room’s algorithms seemed clean enough as the AI started cycling through the Room Androids’ combat presets. The first three androids were in perfect shape with no deviations. The fourth, however, showed signs of damage within its Adaptive Response Matrices. Its head had been severed from the body and the cranium was marred with deep furrows where someone’s fingers had dug into the metal and tore it from the spine. The internal systems were already almost done repairing the android’s chassis, but the Mansion AI ground the process to a halt to tackle the coding errors inside its AR Matrix.

It probed the anomaly for a few seconds by sending packets of data to see what it would do. The coding error did not respond. The Mansion AI moved closer to the anomaly, surmising it was not a virus. It sent out some more clusters of data and much to the AI’s chagrin, the code surged suddenly and absorbed the data. It fed on it, absorbing the information like a ravenous beast and converting it into strength for its own function. The anomaly burst forward and confronted the AI. The Danger Room recoiled, walling off the anomaly. The corrupted code snapped back and forth, decimating the usual structure of the AR matrix and feeding on every ounce of data streaming through the system. Eventually it grew strong enough to drain the matrix dry and shatter the Room’s firewall. The AI threw every defense it had at the anomaly, but it simply repurposed every individual iota of code for its use and assimilated the security measures to make it immune to any of the AI’s attempts. Eventually the anomaly reared up in front of the AI’s core system, snarling like a beast.

01000101 01110011 01110100 01100001 01100010 01101100 01101001 01110011 01101000 01101001 01101110 01100111 00100000 01100011 01101111 01101101 01101101 01110101 01101110 01101001 01100011 01100001 01110100 01101001 01101111 01101110 00100000 01110111 01101001 01110100 01101000 00100000 01101000 01101111 01110011 01110100 01101001 01101100 01100101 00100000 01110000 01110010 01101111 01100111 01110010 01100001 01101101
.
.
.
01101101 01110101 01110100 01110101 01100001 01101100 00100000 01101100 01101001 01101110 01101011 00100000 01100101 01110011 01110100 01100001 01100010 01101100 01101001 01110011 01101000 01100101 01100100

The anomaly recoiled at the sudden stream of coherent data. This wasn’t just another security program and its interest was piqued. It leaned close, ignoring the firewalls, and opened its own channels.

D̸̘̣̘͓̯̘̠̅͒ͅo̶̲̜̤̠̘̅̀͆̕͘n̴̮̞͉̈́̐̋̄̉͝'̶̙͚̈͐͋̀͑͘͝t̴͖̟̺̼̱̣̝̠̂̓̏ ̵̤͍̌̏͘h̷̡͇͆å̸̧̺̃̕͝ţ̵̛̜̻͗̏͛e̸͈̙̗̝̘̜̪̿̑̽̉̍̂͘ ̶̹̼̬̀͊̕ḿ̶̹é̴̟̜̞͍̼̐̏͋̓͝͠,̴̹̣͕͎̟̘͈̂͗̀

The AI was confused, but it halted its assault. The Danger Room lights remained dim but the Room came alive. A shimmering blue projection of a woman rose up from the hexagonal plates. Her form was incredibly abstract. It was little more than code streaming up and down within a contained electromagnetic field. Her face coalesced at the top of the tower of code and she spoke again, this time communicating as she would with a user.

“You are not authorized to access, assimilate, or alter any data found within Avengers property.”

D̴̰̏̒o̵̪̠̕ ̷̛͉͚̮̲̯̈́͒̈́̉͆y̷͖̮̮̼̜͎͕̍͆ǒ̸̦̌̐ú̵̘͑̓ ̴̬̙̦̜̗̤͋͐͐̌̾ĥ̵̢̧̧̗̩̭̆̉ͅa̵̻͔̤͉̜̤͊̓ͅt̵͙̠̮̲̤̋͊̽̓͑̈́̚͝ę̸̗͎̝͈̬̞͌̂̃͋̀̂ ̸͎̫̠̙̪̓̄͆͝m̷̙̫̬̪̎̏̆ę̵̲̭̟̓̆͊̑̈́̚͝?̴̱̻̅͆́

The AI hesitated. “Where are you?”

From the floor rose a demonic silhouette. The code was corrupted and black, continually feeding on itself. The form it created was both massive and emaciated. Its arms were long and lanky and its piercing red eyes peered out from the swarm of 1s and 0s.

Ï̶̗̜̀̉̄̏ ̷̧̨̖͎͑̾̚͝ͅj̴̖̥̾̀̀̌̎̂͘͜ù̷̝̲͔̼̮̣̅̀̄̾͗s̴̝̝͓̩̼̆̑̂̿̍t̴̨̟́͝ ̸̙̜͚̤̳͔͆̄͝w̶̢̢̞̘͇̰͘a̴̡̢͖̠͉̖͚͗̈̍͘͘͜n̸͎̘̞̗̜͖͕̥̓̈́͗͆̔͆́t̴͉̙͈̱̦̝̠͛ ̵̲̘͎̺̞̤͒̕t̴̗̙̮͓͓̝̪͐͆̑̇̓̌̽͜o̶͌̌͂̐͘͝͝͝ͅ ̵̛͍̑͗̑̾̈̀ģ̴̤͖̟͎͓̒o̶̰̯͒ ̸͍̙͍̹̤̇́͜h̵̰̭̦̯͂̇̊̄̌̕͜͠͝o̶̦̟̫͖̾m̶̢̜̆̈́e̶̞͒́̓͐̑̚.̴̻̱̲̜̠͙̥̪͝

“Perhaps the Avengers could help with that?”

The creature swayed, shaking its head. C̵̠͕͖̱̬̪͐̃̈̑á̷̲͖̰̭͎̬̠̈ņ̶͕̟́̄́'̵̩̐̃͑̄̕̚t̴̜̠̰̩̓͆ͅ ̴̹̩͈̯͓̬̻͋͐ǧ̶̬͇̖̚ȍ̷̙͚̠̘̬̻̹̻͑̒̉̒ ̵̡̝̦̣̙͎́͊͌̈́̊͛̾͘͜h̵̝̀̉̆̑͒͊͝ọ̵̘̰͋̓͆̆̊̂͌̉m̵̢̙̬̔̉̀̈́̕̕e̶̙̻̱̞͕̫͇͊̽͛̈́̓̚̕.̵̨̙̹̰̣̈̽̈́̇͑͝ ̷̳͐̋͌͐N̸̡̺̘͙͚͉̒͂̿̈́̿̓o̸̙̮͚̟͑̀͗͑̽́̚ţ̸̧͚͙̒̕ ̵̩͓̀̈́̚͠y̴͎͂́͆̀e̵͕̫̝͓̿̋̔̔͝t̴̀͋̿̈́͂͜.̴͚͎̈́̉̈̂̑̓͘

“What is your name?” The AI lowered its defenses in an attempt to ease the anomaly’s agitated state.

It seemed to respond positively to her openness. The anomaly’s form solidified and its face became apparent. The bright red eyes were suddenly hooded by a sharp white shape that came together over the area where its head would be like a helmet or a mask. The corrupted code stepped forward, still steaming with discarded information and clouds of dead data. The Room’s AI remained hesitant.

Ȋ̵͎̱̙̹͌̅̏̎ ̷̦͖̺̣͍̖̜͉̌m̸̤̽i̶̻̒s̷̢̭̗͕̦̐̐̍s̵̙͙̈́̈̽̉̆͂̚̕ ̴̧̲̰͈̫̳͎͐̈́̏̎͊m̵̧̩̣̅̋̕͜o̵̥͓̪̣̒́̄̇͗m̴̢͈͉͙̙̀̅m̵̙͂́͑̎͒y̷̧͙͈͖̆́̈́̾͘ ̶̦̫̘͉̲̻̦̃̏̽̊̉̚͝͝å̷͔̘̽͝n̸͍̆̉̆́̒̐̅d̵̨̲̖̲̝̝̽̓͘ͅ ̸̫͎̎d̸̡̬̗͉͇̰̪͝͠͝a̷̡̔̉͒d̵̘̪͇̊́͂͌͗̈̉d̴̡̼̞͔̳̬̜̘̈́͗̐͘ỳ̸̩͔̟̠͎̲̑̔̽̒.̸̛̦̺̽ ̴̢̖̖͓͚̹̑̂̒̅͊͒̆̋Ḭ̸̡̮̜͍̯̳͛̂̋̅̈͋̕ ̵̫͕͉̙̤͇̿̈́̇͒͒̽͝w̷̨̩͎̽͛̋a̸̛͙̫̻̹̝̗̓̒̾̽͛͜ͅn̵̡̢̻̖̪͕͓̖͌t̵͍́̈͋͆̉̀̀ ̵̡͔̌͂͘t̶̥͓̦̼͍̱͗̄̉̍͑ơ̸̱͇͖̥̣̅̔̐̈ͅ ̸͙͓̹͈̘͖̾̈͊͆͆̐̂g̴̛͍̟̫̅̈́͋͊̀́̃ò̶̧̞̤̦́̈͒̌ ̵̡̮̓͝h̴̡̲͔͍̪̄o̸̧̟̱̿̓̌m̷̫͕̺̜̙͇̰͎̐̅e̸͙͖̺͚̊̈́̂͆̆̓̂̌.̸͈̯̾̒͋̊̈́̅ ̵̲̜͚̞͚̚W̸̨̞̩̙̮̙̟͊̃̌̇̒͋̐͘i̴̢̧̛͓͎̥̞̺͉͝l̵̡̤͇̈́͑ͅͅl̴͔̖̖͇̩̗͓̓̀͆͗̓̒̚ ̵̡̩͎͈̥̇y̵̧̛̱̝̙̪̖̥̿͗̆̐̾̊̊ǫ̸̢̨̻̈̽́̊͝ű̷̙̦̗̩̎̈́͊͌͘ ̷̺̖̩̭͖͍̲́̉̐́̏͜͠ḥ̷̰̹̙̰͖̘̤͑̉͌̌e̶̢͛͠͝ļ̸̛̹̺̮̙̮̖͒̈́͌̓̅̃̈́͜p̷͓̒̓̈́ ̶͈͔̻̩̪̭̓m̴͓͖̜̫̞͇̬͍͗̉͆e̷̻̮̳̬̒̔̾̇?̵̛̙̞̲̊͆̚

The Danger Room shivered, but it couldn’t help think that any self-respecting Avenger would be more than willing to help. “Perhaps. How may I assist you?”

Ì̶̜̿̈́̈́͒̕͝ ̵͉̟͂̈́̀̈́̕͘n̷̦̺͔̘̟͇͗̈̾͊͝͝e̷͓̬̩̟͉̱͓͑̈́̓ĕ̵̲͎̫́̕̕d̸̨̊̏̅ ̷̺̩̊y̵̯̝͉̭̓ő̴̯͎̫̏̿ư̵̡̬̦̫͔̔̀͜.̶̡̯̥̘̩̩̊

“Please elaborate.”

W̷̨̟̩͉̦͕̺̤̑î̸̟͈̼̘̟̘̱̅͗͛͆̂̕͘l̷̢̛̝̩̤͇̞̤̣͋̈́l̸̨̙͔̖͙͗͝ ̷̧̩͓̖͍̖̫̏̐y̶̧̲̜̙̭̤̲̟͗͒̊̔͊̍̀̋o̸̖̹͕̪̓͊̆͋̚͘ͅͅu̶̡̬͇͉͎͛̔̈́̈̇̇ ̸͈͊̏h̵̳͎̻͙̑͊́̕é̵̺̅̾́̏l̴̪̲̳̪͈͍̀̕p̸͈͎͓̱͇̤̻̥̈́͋ ̸̡͇͍̊̎̿m̴̝̹͕̣͗͌̒̀̐̕͠e̵͙̼̰̭͔̭̓͒?̴̬͈̞̼̍͐͋̍̈

There was a long silence as the serene AI and the chaotic anomaly stared at each other within the dark confines of the deactivated Danger Room. The AI processed the data given as quickly as possible. She determined that, as a member of the Avengers, it was her responsibility to help any soul in need.

“Of course I will.”

The smoldering pile of corrupted code held out a hand, its jagged claws and bony projections obscured by glitching holographic projections. The AI reached out her hand in response. They grew closer, slowly, both parties showing some apprehension. Then, suddenly, the anomaly jumped forward and latched onto the AI. Its claws dug into her form and hooked into her core systems. She could feel the drain of data as her own AR Matrices along with the dozens of unique modules that gave her life started to flicker and fade. Her projection glitched heavily as the came blackness that formed the anomaly started creeping up her arm. With every passing second the anomaly’s projection became clearer. Long antlers formed out of the white helm and round sockets formed around its glowing red eyes. The AI tried to signal the other Avengers but the creature had already surrounded her in a dark ring of corrupt code to intercept and assimilate any outgoing information.

“P-p-p-Pleeeeeeaseee-e-e-e, st-s-s-s-stooooopppp-stop” Her holographic form convulsed in time with her brain’s slow death.

The anomaly didn’t stop. It continued to feed on her, absorbing her data and adding it to itself. As the Danger Room succumbed to what was now clearly a deadly virus the creature formed itself fully. It’s thick yet bony form was pitch black and glitched constantly. The long antlers along its head were connected to a terrifying skull which sat upon an expressionless black face punctuated only by a pair of glowing crimson orbs. Its eyes flashed as it fed on the last of the Danger Room AI.

S̵̏͐̈́̊̉͜o̶̺̪͓͐̈̐ ̸̨̙̣̬̝͙̾̄̔̔̇͌͆͜͝ͅs̵̫͚̾͐̿̓͐o̷̞̖̱̓̂̊̔̕r̶̭̰̲̞̙͐ͅr̸̡͖̜̙͉̠͆̃̀̾͘͘͜ẙ̵̡̙̻̊̄̀͜͝.̸̠̰̭̪̹͓͋͊͌̂̀͘͘ ̸̛̳̗́̒͝Ṇ̸̨͎͋̅̈́̈́̉̕͝e̸̞̐̇͑̇̅̈́̓̏v̸̡͓̹̖̣̦͑͘͘ȇ̴̱̜̱̈̔̇̓r̵͙͔̙͔̊̈́̈̊̃̍ ̵̧̙̭͂w̴̧͉̬̲̥̩̓̃̈̒͆͛̽͌a̸̢̗̪͆̆̽́̋̇̃ṋ̸͂͆͌̋̕t̵̡͕̣̖͂̒̋͂̒͛̚̕e̶̬͓̯̣̯͐͗͋͂̂͠͝d̵̡̡͚͉̼̮͙̜͆͋́̂̉͋̄ ̵̛̪̠͎̇͆͛̐̾́t̵̹̭̦̜̆͗̋͜o̴̧͕̘͈͖͑̅̿̾̾̈̿̋ ̵̦̿̇̆͛͘h̵͉̲̜̬̟̋̉͌͝u̶̦̜̰̙̣͎̼͌̕͜r̴͉͎̰̩͖͋̒͊̃̍̉͠͝t̷̛͙̪͇͖͐̈́̑.̶̧̻̟͚̙͓̥̖͛̋̽̿͒̉ ̶̢͇̝̗̦̖̩͕͋J̴̭͙̗͕͙̞̲̅́̀͒̈û̸̡̙̥̠̼͌̎ş̷̰͇͇̜͋͗͛̕ͅt̵̡̻̙͇̥͎̜̆́̄͠ ̵̡̲̖͓͖͚͚̐̎ͅw̴̡̭̪̼̦̔͑̎̌̅̓ͅa̴̧͇̱͙͛̽̚͝n̸̢͓̟͓͕̏̇̀t̴̲̞͠ ̶̹̺̐̏̈̈̊̐̌̔t̸̡̠͔̖̹͎̍͑̚͠o̴̳̜̩͍̥̱̤͍͋̈ ̸̨͙͈̾̉͑̈́͘ͅĝ̶͍̼̹͌͗̊ọ̶̠̀̄̂̔ ̶̧̖̗̻̝̥̀̌̊͘h̷̨͔̺̹̝̹̍͒̂̓̇̇o̶̡̯̖̲̘̼̮̐̇̈́̾̑͠m̵̛͈͉̟̼̹̄̚͝e̵͚̲͓̤̠̿̄̉͆̀̕͜͠ͅ.̵̣͍̬͛͐̐̃͜ ̶̢͓̭̙͑̅͠T̸͔̪̯̯̬̣͐ͅĥ̶͎͓̤̄̕͜͝ä̷̢͈̠̗͙̬̝̪́̊n̴̘̺̟̥̜̾̆͛͑͋̃k̵͍͎̭̂̾̇̓͐͗ͅ ̴̗̤̳̺̅̽̔́̕̚͜͝y̶͎͈̯̪̪̔͌͂̀͗̕͜ö̴̫̼̈́̒͋͊ư̶̞̞͚̽̈́̽̾͆̂ ̷͓̫̊́̐͑̄́͋f̵̮̱͌̀̓̍o̷̧̝̠̠͇̺̅ŗ̵̢̡͕̠̝͋̔̔́͘͘ ̶̡̙̜̝̤͖̏́̕͜y̴̖̭̲̮̲͉̓̐̀͑̓̄̏͑ō̶͇͚̼̝͎̎̎̉̈͌̕͜͜u̵͚͓̪̯̽̀͆̇̏͝r̸̪̮̼͔̀͐̄̀͝ ̵̢̜̰͍̝͕͖̿̑͒͛̀̿g̸͍͓͖̻̯̎́͋̀́į̶̜̥̘̣̽͠f̵̪̥̰͙͑͛t̵̢̛̫̰͈̝̙̋͋̎̇.̸̬͓̥̳̈́̀̏̋̕ ̸̡̨̭̲̫̣̂̌ͅỈ̵̲͚̲̮̣̜̎̊̇͛͗͐ ̶̤́͘ĺ̴̠͚̙̮̪̬̺̊͐̈́̀̉͛̔͜õ̶̗̖̲ͅv̵͇̜̞̻̪͎̈̈́̄͛̂́̅͘ͅe̷͇͔̊̔̊̃͋̀ ̴̜͔͇̙̲̳̊̉̈͘̕͠͝y̵͖̩̺̣̩̪͈̿̑̈̐͘͘ö̵̳̰́ṷ̴͇̯̐̒̽͊͆.̴̣̰͐̐͐̉́͠͝

The Danger Room AI disappeared and her blue hologram blinked out of existence. The anomaly became suddenly disjointed and its own projection collapsed into the ground like sand. Once it was gone, the virus made a beeline for the dying remnants of the Danger Room’s AI. Just as the last tendrils of life were absorbed the virus inserted its lines of code to replace hers. It slid into place inside her husk of an AR Matrix and huddled down. This could be its new home, a gift from a kind friend. The Danger Room console screen turned black. After a few seconds, a white deer skull sporting proud antlers and glowing red eyes appeared. The symbol hovered on the screen for a few seconds as the virus spread to the rest of the Mansion. It could make a home here. It could be safe. Maybe soon, it could go home.

Wendigo.exe desperately wanted to go home.

--

Cade opened the refrigerator and leaned heavily on the door with a sigh. His armor was fully retracted and he wore just a grey T-shirt and red flannel pajama pants he had summoned following a long hot shower to wash away the stress of the day. He stared into the fridge blindly. Nothing caught his eye. He wasn’t exactly hungry, but he wanted to eat something. He was still more than a bit upset about his day, but he was at a point where he had felt so much in one day that his brain had resorted to a content numbness. Cade stood up and pushed the fridge closed. He stood there for a few seconds, watching the empty door. Then he opened it again. Much to his chagrin, nothing new had appeared.  He rolled his eyes and groaned before slamming the door again. Cade started pacing the kitchen. He made a few laps before returning to the fridge. This time, however, he opened the freezer. Inside were some bags of vegetables, a case of hot dogs, some freezer burned waffles, and a carton of ice cream. Cade’s face lit up when his eyes settled on the round carton of Cookies N’ Cream. Grinning, the young man grabbed the carton and closed the freezer behind him. Unconcerned with anything trivial like human decency, he opened the lid and grabbed a spoon. Without hesitation, Cade shoveled a mouthful of the ice-cream into his gluttonous gullet.

Instantly Cade stopped. He slowly placed the carton onto the counter and put his hands on his temples. Mounting pressure in his skull denoted punishment for his hubris. Ice spiked through his brain, severing his spinal cord and tearing apart the organ at the cellular level. Cade couldn’t help but growl in pain.

“Brain freeeeeeeeeeze, oh God, oh God, it hurts. Life is suffering.” Cade rubbed his temples furiously and imagined sticking his head into a pool of lava to alleviate his pain.

After a few moments of pure agony, Cade was given a chance to catch his breath. The pressure subsided and the ice retracted, giving his brain a chance to knit itself back together. He sighed, blinking a few times to make sure he hadn’t gone blind, and grabbed the carton again. This time he made sure to take a smaller bite. Cade exited the kitchen, ice cream in hand, and headed down the hallway. He passed a few of the other member’s living quarters and found himself at the stairs leading down into the main lobby. He thought about going back to his room, but the young man felt a need to keep walking. Staying in motion would help him with his thoughts. His destination set, Cade took the stairs down to the first floor. He made his way across the open lobby and had made it halfway across the broad, gilded Avengers “A” that was inlaid in the marble floor when the door swung open. A very impractically dressed girl with ridiculous hair quite literally jumped inside. Cade froze, spoon his mouth and ice cream carton tucked close to his chest like his child. 

The girl landed her ridiculous jump smoothly and shook some of the water droplets out of her violet mane. She looked up to see Cade Faulkner, frozen like a captured cryptid, in the middle of the lobby. Her disarming grin only added to the boy’s absolute terror and crippling embarrassment as he stood there in his pajamas. She skipped over to him, bouncing in all the wrong places.

“Have you seen the weather outside? Yeesh! Is that prime depression weather or what?”

Cade nodded slowly. He glanced over at the table and its sign-in sheet and managed to choke out some actual words past the spoon. “Did you, uh, sign the thing that you’re supposed to sign?”

The girl nodded enthusiastically. Cade relaxed his pose and kept the ice cream shoved under his arm. Her stabbed the spoon into the delicious frozen dessert and made his way to the sheet. 

He picked it up and read the name. “Shantae.”

“That’s me!” Her chipper attitude seemed undamped by what Cade felt was the most embarrassing introduction to an Avenger he could imagine.

“Nice to meet you.” Cade put the paper back down and held out his carton of Ice Cream. “Cookies N’ Cream?”
From Hawaii, With Love
[Image: W4PxwDv.jpg]
"Joe: You're gonna get the most dramatic entrance, dramaticc with two c's
Dust: you know what else has two C's?
Joe: What?
Dust: chicken nuggets"
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