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All the Pawns in the World

scourge

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All the Pawns in the World
« on: October 16, 2014, 09:25:38 PM »
The only fanfic I ever wrote called All the Pawns in the World was inspired by the shared universe stories on the old board (I hope people start up with those again!) This was something that I hoped to actually finish. It was 20 something chapters and the end was in sight but when the old board went down the thing was lost. For any who were reading it, I'm going to try and put it up again. I found most of the old chapters on my computer. Some really needed some editing (some I might edit and make worse). I'll try and put them up fairly regularly till I'm caught up then finish the thing.

Just to give some reference this thing is Marvel meets DC with some Street Fighter thrown in for good measure. Every now and again there might be something outside of those.

It starts with X-Men in Gotham.

Enjoy!

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Re: All the Pawns in the World
« Reply #1 on: October 16, 2014, 09:32:18 PM »
Chapter 1: Luck on Ice

“Savor these moments, for they shall be your last.”

Steam should have come from his breath, yet none appeared to fog up the dome that surrounded his pale gourd of a head. Steam would have meant the promise of a spring—that finally the long winter that consumed his soul would end and the permafrost like casing around his soul was perhaps ready to dissipate.  Perhaps this would have meant a change of heart. Or perhaps the world was better off with such a casing intact. Beneath the ice laden exterior something churned, hidden, yet in control, all consuming. Twin demons: rage and tragedy. The emotion may not have come across on the surface, but it would be a mistake to underestimate the lengths this solitary man would go through to make the world suffer as he himself had.

His eyes, two glowing red discs, like break lights shimmering amid a thick downpour of sleet trained upon his target. In an instant, faster than such a frozen thing should be able to act, an impulse shot down from Victor Fries’ motor cortex to nerves activating skeletal muscles. A gloved finger contracted on a trigger and advanced cryogenic technology came to life as quickly as it’s creator had. As he fired his weapon, a device born of his brilliance, the blast froze the very air in its path. There is no doubt that such a shot would kill almost any other man, but his target was nothing if not extraordinary.  Ice trailed and hung for a moment in the air before breaking apart crashing to the cold concrete beneath. And far above the ice, effortlessly sailing over the solidified moisture was the intended victim.

Landing in a crouch with such grace as to make even the finest gymnasts in the word jealous, the blonde man with the funny haircut looked up with a casual disarming smile and met eyes with his would be attacker.

“Brrrr. Too bad, Ice-T. I’ll give you another free shot.”

Again, Freis (Freeze) took aim with his advanced cold generating side arm.

“The name is Mr. Freeze… not that you will have a second chance to confuse it.”

Again streaks of ice erupted into the still air, yet they were no closer than the previous shot.

“Sorry, Frosty, but you’re dead wrong. You’ve got no idea who you’re dealing with.”

The words that echoed across the dimly lit facility, came out as the silhouette of their speaker spryly tumbled through the air, backlit by an unusually bright moon pouring light through large pained windows.

“But, never let it be said that Longshot didn’t give the little guy a chance.”

The two men, who now found themselves together in Gotham’s prime water pumping station, could not have been more different. One was alive, filled with joy, an immeasurable lightness, the other heavy, figuratively weighed down by years of loss and pain, and literally weighed down by a suit of armor—entombed in the caprice, unable to leave least he risk his very life by facing a world that was too warm for his chilled being.

This time, no words, just another blast, and another miss. Mr. Freeze was beginning to understand that his odds of hitting this strange Longshot were very slim indeed, fortunately he was nothing if not patient and time was on his side. In all his encounters with the Batman and his many varied young protégées, none had ever moved like this.  Had he been a different sort of man more given to such flights of fancy, he would have found watching Longshot move through the near empty water pumping station practically… entertaining. Not only was this stranger staying one step ahead of his icy blasts, but he was also doing it with a flair for the dramatic. Almost as though this Longshot were more interested in putting on a show than confronting Mr. Freeze. Another shot, another miss, and as if to reinforce Freeze’s thoughts his opponent began quipping again –

“Would it be easier if I just stood still?”

“Stand still, jump up and down, it makes little difference. Either way; I expect you to die.”

“Then maybe you should swap the ice cube maker in for something with a little more ompf? Or heck, why not actually put some effort into this whole ice gimmick. You want Bobby Drake’s number? He could probably give you a pointer or two.”

“Enough.”

A man not easily frustrated, Freeze began to fire with more abandonment, without the slightest concern for the incapacitated hatchet men he had hired to assist him with his latest project. This was, of course, normal for Mr. Freeze who had no concern for anyone else save his dear sweet Nora. 

With his icy calculating intellect, Freeze (Freis) understood that his actions would lead to one of two things. A) This new distraction would end up frozen solid, or B) the environment, that now offered many pipes and much space for nimble displays of agility, would soon turn on this acrobat.  Very few people could cope with the current temperatures inside the station and Longshot, though built like no other man, was not an exception to this.

Mr. Freeze was also adapting to Longshot’s movements. He found short bursts came far closer than any continuous streams of cold. His next shot came right over Longshot’s shoulder, an inch from his ear. The air was growing colder by the second.
“You are slowing down. The cold is taking hold. Submit – there is no point in trying to fight it.”

“I don’t have to defeat the cold. Only you.”

As Longshot became airborn he stretched his arm out towards Freeze, and out flew two concealed small blades. Though they hit their mark in the center of Freeze’s chest, they bounced off and fell harmlessly to the ground.

Longshot grimaced. “Alright plan B.”

Another blade came flying out, this one froze in the air, fell to the ground and shattered. Then three more darts of silvery moonlight erupted from seemingly nowhere as Longshot continued moving around the giant room at a dizzying pace. Two of these blades again became frozen, but the third severed the tube connecting the cryogenic freeze ray to the tank on Mr. Freeze’s back. Coolant sprayed out around the room everywhere.  Freeze dropped the gun. Even though it was a balmy summer night outside, filled with crickets and sweet scents carried on warm breezes, the air temperature in the water plant could not have been more than 5 degrees Fahrenheit.  Outside it was Longshot’s world, but in here it was Freeze’s.

Realizing that the situation was becoming dire, Longshot charged at Freeze, who simply stared him down coolly. Face to face Longshot , gave a half smile and threw a punch  intended to crack the dome over Freeze’s head, but his fist was caught in mid air. Again, the impossible realized—a man weighed down by armor, frozen to the core and yet able to move so fast that he could catch Longshot’s fist in mid-swing. Then as Freeze’s hand clutched Longshot’s own he realized how. The suit must have weighed nothing to Freeze he had the strength of a titan and he was going to break every hollow bone in Longshot’s four fingers.

Longshot’s pained countenance relaxed for a moment as his hand was released, only to be backhanded. The sheer force of the strike coupled with the weightlessness of his hollow bones sent Longshot flying across the large room. The man who almost always landed on his feet now landed in a broken heap on the ground behind one of the many rows of water pumping devices. He remained in the inky darkness of the shadows shivering and clutching his fist as Freeze slowly and deliberately walked towards him.

“I can hear your labored breathing. The chattering of your teeth. The cold, has you. I have you.  This is over.”

As Freeze rounded the corner to where Longshot lay, the shadows obscured his prey from site. The only thing Freeze could see in the darkness was an eye, bright, shinning, glowing yellow. Suddenly a bevy of blades shot out from the darkness, splinters of light, a few bouncing harmlessly off of Freeze but two striking the dome encasing his head. Cracks began to form and the cracks touched. The dome was now leaking and mixing with the air.

Freeze observed the penetration into his once hermitically sealed world with the same emotionless expression he reserved for absolutely everything else he encountered. “Defiant to the end I see, but your efforts are meaningless. The temperature in here is perfect. I have nothing to fear from the air – the same of course is not true of you.”

“Let’s see if we can’t do something about that”

Two more blades parted the shadows going right past Freeze, shattering two of the giant windows behind him. Then another blade, and another window broken.

“Stop that.” The words came without emotion. Freeze was now moving much quicker in Longshot’s direction, but this time Longshot was ready and on his feet.

“It’s too stuffy in here, I still think we need some more air.” Another blade flew through another window.

Longshot had more than enough blades on him to break every window in this place twice over, and there was nothing Freeze could do to keep up with him. As the air temperature rose, Longshot seemed to move easier and easier while Freeze seemed to now take on the same labored breath his opponent once had.

Longshot stopped and stood in the middle of the large station, his one eye glowing, the corner of his mouth turned up in a smile. “You might want to ditch the heavy suit, it’s about to get a lot warmer in here.” With that he jumped back into the air and threw more blades than could easily be counted.

The crescendo of breaking glass was all consuming. Freeze’s head was spinning. he leached forward struggling to maintain balance, but the world was fading, the heat was too much, and with a heavy clang that echoed loudly through the entirety of the facility, Longshot’s would be attacker was subdued.

nu-safado

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Re: All the Pawns in the World
« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2014, 08:11:35 PM »
 :). Keep it going, loved it

HalloweenJack

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Re: All the Pawns in the World
« Reply #3 on: October 18, 2014, 09:16:00 AM »
Glad to see this is back up.

scourge

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Re: All the Pawns in the World
« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2015, 11:47:39 AM »
Glad to see the interest! I've found all the chapters except for one. I mostly edited on the old board so I'll have to go through and do a little cleaning up, but mostly I'll post as is as I did before. Going to try to knock a bunch out right now and just get back up to speed.

scourge

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Re: All the Pawns in the World
« Reply #5 on: January 18, 2015, 11:50:41 AM »
Chapter 2: Enter the Bat

15 minutes later and with a little help from his enhanced healing Longshot was feeling as good as new except for a slight pain in his right hand. Freeze on the other hand was out cold, laying in the shadows Longshot had been hiding in, and breathing just as heavily.

“So what were you doing here?” Longshot mused to the unconscious killer and his equally unconscious cohorts.

There was ice everywhere, but it was already beginning to melt. The place was big, but Longshot was quickly able to locate the tanks Freeze’s men were carrying in. He had subdued them in relatively short order and the tanks were still together in a pile. The markings clearly identified them as containers of hazardous materials, with long chemical chains identified on the labels—none of which made a lick of sense to him. As he studied one of the larger tanks he heard a voice coming out of all of the shadows at once. It was everywhere and nowhere.

“Who are you? What happened here?”

It was gruff, gravely and overly aggressive—the voice of someone who wanted to sound tough and intimidating, or was tough and intimidating. It reminded him a lot of one of his missing friends, and then thinking about it, he realized what it must feel like to be hunted by Wolverine. But this wasn’t Logan. Logan was gone, along with the others.

“I’m not going to ask again. Tell me who you are and what happened here.” something flew by Longshot’s head from behind and landed stuck in a chunk of melting ice right in front of him.
He replied calmly. “Name’s Longshot” Three blades rising from in between his fingers, he rose and turned in one fluid motion, his arm stretching as blades flew out from his hand faster than the naked eye could see.

Ting. Ting. Tang.

No luck. 3 misses.

For an instant he heard a slight fluttering, he turned to meet a boot to the jaw that sent him splaying out across the slippery wet floor. Rising up slowly and wiping a bit of blood from the corner of his mouth he muttered in a bit of a mock tone

“and they say I’m lucky…”

“That all depends on how you want to play this.”

 Standing before him was an intimidating sight, not nearly as large as Mr. Freeze in the armor, but a hell of a lot more startling despite being exactly who he expected. It was clear who this was, he was in Gotham city after all, it was only a matter of time before The Batman showed up.

“You could have taken my head off with that damn thing.”

“If I was aiming for your head, you wouldn’t be conscious and I wouldn’t have my answers. Now you’re going to give them to me. What were you doing here at this hour if you’re not with Freeze, which it certainly doesn’t look like… or maybe it’s not meant to look like.”

“Hey pal, first of all, you need to stow the attitude, second of all it doesn’t look like I’m with Freeze cause I’m not with Freeze. I’m looking for someone… some people. Friends of mine. I have reason to believe they’re here. Not at this place but in this town in Gotham, and I’m not talking about a vacation.”

“That still doesn’t explain why you were here, at the Water Plant, at 3am with Mr. Freeze. “

“Would you believe me if I told you it was a coincidence?”

“No.”

“Then you’re not going to believe the truth, cause more or less that’s what it is. What are the odds that I’d be in the right place in the right time, to stop someone from doing something they shouldn’t be doing?”

Batman’s eyes narrowed as if to say ‘get to the point.’

“I’m lucky, I’m not lucky, but I affect luck. Things happen to me… for me. I happen to things, I affect situations. I affect probabilities. No one should just happen upon something like this. 99 times out a 100 Freeze would have carried on undisturbed till you showed up, but that one time out of 100, that’s me. “

“Do you realize how insane you sound?”

“Do you realize you’re a grown man, creeping around a water works at 3 am, dressed like a bat?”
Batman uttered a deep unsettling grumble and then turned to look at the tanks.  Without looking up at Longshot –“Don’t think about leaving.”

“Wouldn’t dream of it – it’s not as though I’ve got anything to do”
The sarcasm is possibly lost on Batman, more likely he just doesn’t care.

“Counter-Thermal Reaction.” Batman absent mindedly said aloud.

“Counter what?”

“These chemicals, they’re designed to create a counter-thermal reaction. The more heat they’re exposed to the more they cool something down. In a relatively cool climate the chemicals remain inert, almost undetectable in water, but when exposed to heat they begin to immediately become a very powerful coolant. And the hotter the heat, the cooler the reaction.”

“So what, he was going to put that in the water… make people have to buy new hot water heaters?”

“That’s a best case scenario. These chemicals become active in temperatures slightly greater than 70 degrees Fahrenheit. At 70, to 75 degrees you don’t see much of a reaction, a cooling of less than 5 degrees.  At 80 degrees you’re down to 60, at 90 they get down to 50.  The human body is slightly warmer than 98 degrees depending on the person. From here, tap water is directly pumped into the eastern and central districts in Gotham and many of the surrounding counties.”

“Luck. You wouldn’t have been here in time to stop them. Even if you did figure out a way to make some kind of super science chemical solution to cancel this stuff out, it would have been too late. Luck.”

“Even if what you say is true, that still doesn’t explain what you’re doing here, in Gotham.”

“Listen, there’s a lot going on, I’m not saying I won’t tell you, but I will tell you that I don’t have all the answers. I have to meet my friend, he’s trying to do the same thing as me somewhere else. But getting leads and following them hasn’t been easy. They say you’re a detective, and that’s pretty much exactly what we need right now. I’m happy to explain all this to you, but I…er… we could really use your help.”

“I’ve contacted the police, Freeze and his men took out the security here before they could hit the silent alarm. If I hadn’t noticed the broken windows when I was on patrol, I wouldn’t have come in here either. Have to make sure Freeze and his gang are safely taken away and the security guards that were working here are attended to. Have to tell the commissioner about the chemicals. They’ll be here shortly. Get out of here. Get your friend and meet me at The Greenwood Cemetery in south Gotham in an hour.”

“I don’t know where that is.”

Batman glared

“… but I’m sure it won’t be too hard to find”

With that Longshot sprung into the air, back flipping and cart wheeling up and out one of the many shattered windows lining the room.

Batman marveled “Not even Dick could move like that”

scourge

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Re: All the Pawns in the World
« Reply #6 on: January 18, 2015, 11:51:25 AM »
Interlude:

Eyes crackle with energy. There is an ear to ear grin on his face as if he was trying to show her every tooth in his head at once. Psylocke does not know who this man is, nor does she care – years of implanted ninja training take hold. Her psychic energy flows through her and out her fist forming a blade this is of her entire essence.

Where she is, how she got here, these are questions that become irrelevant as she senses the pure unmitigated evil radiating out of the man in front of her. This is all she can detect his thoughts are walled off and she knows that only a direct strike from her psychic blade will be able to pierce the barrier.

His fists begin to glow brightly, Psylocke wonders if somehow his power is mimicking her own? And then the thought is gone. She is all warrior again.

She is airborne, and coming down at him fast, and then he is gone. She lands without grace swinging at air a whiff, but at least she’s still on her feet. Suddenly this ghost is behind her and again she is all instinct, her blade lunging at the man’s head only to meet his own energy incased fist. Her blade goes through his hand and out the other side and then something happens that has never happened before. She’s stuck, not physically but mentally. This should be impossible; her energy is held by his own. If only it would stop there, she feels the sickening realization in the pit of her stomach first and then her mind screams as her body goes limp. He’s sucking her energy out, pulling her soul apart and she is fully aware of almost every agonizing second of it. Darkness begins to tug at the corners of her reality, and then mercifully she is gone.

scourge

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Re: All the Pawns in the World
« Reply #7 on: January 18, 2015, 11:57:33 AM »
Chapter 3: Enter The Beast

“‘Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.’ – Dickens”

Built like a football player, yet dressed like an English professor, Hank McCoy warmly smiled at his friend in the cool early morning air. The sky was still dark, but a lighter shade of blue off to the east. The first bird had just begun chirping, and this cemetery felt like the most inviting place in the world to these two outcasts.

“Yeah well, I’m not so sure the guys a hero. But you know about as much about him as I do, and if anyone can help us, I think it’s him.”

Longshot sat on the ground leaning against a tree running his fingers along the blades of grass.
“I suppose you were just lucky to run into him.”

“Ha ha, you’re a funny man, Henry. Did anyone ever tell you that?”

There was a loud throat clearing, the same dry voice that Longshot had heard earlier, again in the same way seemingly coming from nowhere but also everywhere. A silhouette took shape against the brightening eastern sky.

“I hope I wasn’t interrupting anything”

“Not at all, I’m Dr. Henry McCoy – I trust keeping such hours is nothing unusual for you?”

“Criminals aren’t exactly 9 to 5ers, so I can’t afford to be either. And you can drop the disguise – I don’t scare easy.”

McCoy looked like someone had just punched him in the gut.  He knew the image inducer inside and out, he had helped adapt the design of it himself. There shouldn’t be anyway to see through the bent light. “How did…”

 “That’s not important. I don’t have a lot of time.  I understand you have friends who have gone missing, what makes you think they’re here in Gotham?” Batman subtlety switched his inferred off.

Longshot rose up and stepped forward “So it’s like this, the weirdness with me doesn’t end at the luck.”
“You’re missing a finger on each hand. I suspect you and your friends are mutants.”

“Guilty as charged” Beast still kept the image inducer on. “But my young friend is an artificially created humanoid life-form, with the ability to defy probability from an alternate dimension.”

If Batman was phased by this, it didn’t show. Beast might as well have said he was a school teacher from Brooklyn for all the reaction it received.

Longshot again took over “I’m not exactly missing a finger. And as I was saying, another facet of this interesting guy that stands before you is sometimes, when I touch things, I can ‘read’ them. Where they’ve been, where they’re going.”

“Psychometrics.” Batman acknowledged.

“Precisely!” Beast enthusiastically chimed in, he was already fond of the man in the cowl. Perhaps he was a little curt, but he was clearly educated.

“Ok, sure, that. So I found this.” Longhshot produced a thick white wallet sized blank card and tossed it more at Batman than to him, as if he was throwing one of his knives.

“It’s a key.” Batman grumbled.

“But to what?” McCoy responded. “Unfortunately, Longshot was not able to get any clearer reading on the item. Gotham City is all we have. An office swipe, a hotel card, there’s more possibilities than I care to think about.”

“And it gets worse, Bats, our friends weren’t exactly ordinary.”

“No, I don’t imagine that they would be considering you two.”

“Yes well, they numbered amongst the most powerful psychic minds on the planet, all except for one. A small ball of fury that is quite literally the deadliest man this side of the Shi’ar empire. Anyone with enough power to abduct our friends, well I rather not think about what that means we’re up against.” McCoy adjusted his glasses as if to emphasize his point.

“Hmm.  X-Men. McCoy, I thought I recognized the name. What of the others then? What of Scott Summers?”

“Unfortunately these thing don’t always occur under the best of circumstances, and with the X-Men that’s par for the course. We’re spread thin as it is and in the middle of a rather messy affair with one of our oldest adversaries. Being less combat oriented than many of the other X-Men, it made sense that I would attend to the missing persons. Longshot, isn’t currently running under the X-Men banner and is on board as a personal favor. With his psychometric talents he seemed like a natural choice, and we couldn’t have come this far without him. Should any of our leads check out, they’re a mere phone call and short jet ride away.”

“Leave this key with me, meet me here, tomorrow night at one.  I’ll have your answers.”

“But how can you be so sure? We haven’t found anything and Hank here is a first class super genius.”
Henry McCoy met his friends gaze with a warm smile “’Stranger, pause and ask thyself the question, canst thou do likewise? If not, with a blush retire.’ – Dickens once again.”

They both turned back to Batman, but where he was standing there was now only sky, now a few shades brighter and with a hint of pink. It was late, or early, and the question of how exactly Batman had disappeared without a trace, without the slightest sound from right under their noses would have to wait for another time.

An old feeling returned to Longshot, a feeling he hadn’t felt in quite a long time. Whatever lay ahead, one thing was certain; this was the beginning of what would prove to be, quite simply put, an adventure.

scourge

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Re: All the Pawns in the World
« Reply #8 on: January 18, 2015, 11:58:30 AM »
Interlude:

The street is busy – it’s always busy. 5th Avenue New York City, a few short blocks from Rockefeller Center. The sun beats down, New York is in the grips of a heat wave. Accordingly the legions of tourist walking the street are in the standard shorts, Hawaiian shirts, fanny packs, and garish hats. It’s as it always is here. The few locals stand out in the crowd, the ones in the suits, with the shoulder bags, the ones rushing, and getting angry and frustrated that they have to weave through the crowd. People are packed too tightly on the ample sidewalks. Every tourist is in heaven, every local is ready to snap.
Perhaps that’s why no one seems to notice, not the tourist, not the locals the incredibly large man, dressed in a full tan trench coat and matching fedora making his way through the crowds. He walks faster than the tourists, slower than the locals, always looking forward seemingly unimpressed as he passes the Neo-Gothic architecture of St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

George Benton is an ordinary man on vacation with his family. He works hard in middle management, virtually unnoticed and unappreciated by his peers. It is an unfortunate turn of fate that this should be his last day on Earth.

The crowds are a little too tightly packed, someone , probably a local shoves him he loses his balance and George goes spilling into the large man in the trench coat and fedora.

“Excuse me –“ he begins to say as he looks up, and then his face becomes a mix of shock and horror. A Large fist covered by a white glove grabs him by the shirt collar and he is now a solid foot off the ground, squirming to get free.

Suddenly he is airborne and everyone notices – tourists and locals alike. A women screams, quite possibly his wife. He keeps traveling higher and further like a balloon that was let go of by a child only much much faster until he is a speck and then gone.

scourge

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Re: All the Pawns in the World
« Reply #9 on: January 18, 2015, 12:16:27 PM »
Chapter 4: Why do they look so much alike?

It’s raining, the typical summer thunderstorm in Gotham. The occasional streak of lightning lights up the night sky in the distance. The occasional crack of thunder breaks the silence. The cemetery that was so inviting one night earlier seems far less welcoming.

Still, Longshot seems impartial to the rain – it almost feels like nothing on his tough leather hide. Henry McCoy on the other hand stands perfectly centered under his umbrella.

“Ever since the secondary mutation, you understand, I have had a particular aversion to getting wet.”

“Cats, water, say no more.”

“It’s to a storage locker. An unusually expensive facility at that.” The voice comes from behind them – neither are surprised. Thunder cracks as they turn, and there, of course, is Batman. Lightning lights up the sky the instant after they see him, almost as if he had somehow planned it.

Longshot runs a hand down his face as if to remove some of the excess water allotted to him by the storm. “So how did you figure that one out?”

It’s clear that Batman heard the question; just the same he goes on as though he hadn’t. “I checked it out, the locker was empty. Whatever was there, isn’t there anymore.”

Longshot, this time with a comment. “Then that’s it the lead is dead, a lot of good this trip did us.”
And this time Batman responds directly to him. “Not exactly. The locker was registered under the name Robert Swenson – a known alias of one of the most dangerous men I’ve ever met. Bane.”

“And this, Bane fellow, you know where to find him?” Beast is as much watching the rain in apprehension as looking at Batman.

“He should have been in Blackgate – but he wasn’t. So I asked some people nicely.  He’s been active, and at one of his old estates just outside Gotham.”

“You didn’t check this out already?  Seems to be your style to just run off and look into these things without us.”

Batman turned to Longshot and tossed the keycard back at him the same way Longshot had tossed it the night before. “Didn’t have time. Had to meet you two and this place is a bit outside the city.”

“We’re coming with you.” Longshot quickly added.

“That’s doable, but you need to know something about Bane first. When you see him, don’t be fooled by his size, his muscles. You underestimate him, you think of him as just a strong man, he’ll kill you.  This may very well be a trap. Bane is one of the smartest opponents I’ve ever faced.”

“Please believe me when I say this Batman -” Beast now for the first time switching off his image inducer in front of the caped crusader dropping the guise of a man and showing his true size, and ferocious jungle cat like face. “I’m fully aware of the often incongruous nature between intelligence and physical appearance.”

45 minutes and an all too cramped ride in Batman’s state of the art Batmobile later, the three arrived at their destination.

Beast switched the image inducer back on before getting out of the vehicle “Just in case. I wouldn’t want to scare any small children or the like.”

Batman quickly turned around and brought a finger to his lips. “If stealth is part of the X-Men’s training, now would be the time to exercise it.”

Batman quickly made his way up and over the fence of the white stone luxury estate before them.  It was an oddly massive yard to have to cross, even for an estate of such opulence. The rain was falling lighter now making small concentric circles on the sizeable reflecting pond situated in front of the driveway. The others followed, clearing the fence with even greater ease than Batman himself.

No guard dogs, no armed guards, this was a bit strange. The place looked practically deserted except for the two parked cars in the driveway. Even still, Batman proceeded with his usual caution. The manor was enormous but ranch style, only one floor. No grappling hooks were needed as Batman quickly ascended the one story building to the roof. Beast and Longshot followed him up as easily as if a staircase had been laid out before them.

The rain had all but stopped as they came upon a skylight. The perfect entrance. Batman always hoped for a skylight. The lights were off in what looked like a typical living room below. He removed a small device from his belt; a metallic cylinder no thicker than an AA battery, no longer than a pencil. He slowly rotated one end of it and the other end began to glow a bright red. Carefully and deliberately he moved the device to the glass and as he pointed the light the glass dissolved. The glass was not being cut, it was actually disappearing. He rotated the end again and the red light grew larger until the section of glass missing was large enough for even Beast to fit through.

McCoy marveled at the device and made a note to ask Batman if he may inspect it later, even though he was almost sure the answer would be no.

Batman held up a fist, clearly indicating he wanted them to wait. He descended – Beast and Longshot both noted the sound of the fluttering cape.  They also both noted that while his descent was graceful, their respective entrances would make it look sloppy by comparison.

As they watched Batman look around the room, touching the side of his cowl right next to his eyes several times, they waited for their signal. There it was. First Beast descended and landed more lightly than any cat, followed by Longshot who was clearly trying to show Beast up with his landing. There was no question that he had accomplished his goal.

Beast switched the image inducer off, as Batman was pointing straight ahead. As if to emphasize the inducer was truly off, his ears turned directly forward. He heard the sounds first, the voices that were nothing but mummers to his colleagues were as clear as day to him. One of them spoke with a thick Spanish accent, the other had a hint of New York in his voice. What really stood out was how vulgar this one was.

Without sound they crept down the hall towards the din of a lively conversation. A warm inviting light was emerging from somewhere ahead. It was soft and diffuse, tack lighting. There was a bend, Batman signaled Longshot to approach from this angle.

Still in the dark and still at least 20 feet away Batman and Beast caught sight of the speakers standing in a combination kitchen/ TV entertainment room.

It was the oddest thing, both of these men were wearing masks, and the masks looked almost identical. Both masks simultaneously invoked images of Mexican luchidores and sadomasochists.

The larger of the two was in a white suit, black button down shirt and white tie. Two large red eyes were the main defining feature upon his mask . Batman instantly recognized the man who broke his back.

The smaller one, who was still larger than either Longshot or Batman, clearly meant to invoke a skull with his mask. The base was black, but the white of the skull took up much of the surface area. He looked like a killer, unabashedly through and through. There was a pair of white cross bones on his shirt, and even though the two men looked to be having a casual jovial conversation, this man was armed to the teeth with several high powered automatic weapons, knives and explosives strapped to his vest. Henry McCoy recognized this one, but didn’t know too much about him except that he was bad news and that he went by the name of Crossbones.

Now it was clear why there were no guards. Why would two men like this ever need them?

Longshot came into view behind the men’s backs.  Batman was about to give the word.

“…that don’t beat all. So I seen him and I says, you can do one of two things. Give me the suitcase and I kill you, or don’t and I still kill you and take it anyway.” The smaller of the two men, Crossbones, was talking loudly.

Bane gave a hardy laugh, “So what did you do?”

“Shit, I killed the motherfucker as soon as I said that, I wasn’t gonna have a fuck…” Suddenly

Crossbones stopped talking span and opened up two fully automatic machine guns in Longshots direction.
“You don’t think I see you? Bring it on, Cocksucker!”

Longshot defying the odds once again flipped out of the way of almost every round. A large big screen TV exploded as it filled with bullets.  Longshot felt like an idiot, at the last second he had seen his own reflection in the row of glass display cases. Noticing that at the same time as Crossbones is the only reason he wasn’t full of lead yet.  The only damage he took was a slight graze of his cheek, and even then his leather skin prevented it from being anything more than a small scratch.

Batman and Beast both simultaneously charged out running at the two masked men. Batman at Bane and Beast at Crossbones.  But what Beast saw next made him change direction in mid spring to help Batman.

“Oh my stars and garters…”

The larger man in the white suit, was growing. The suit was ripping apart muscle upon muscle, larger still. Beast wasn’t sure who was bigger, or stronger, himself or this Bane. No, it was definitely Bane.
Now completely shredded out of the suit, he invoked images of the all too familiar Hulk. Batman was backhanded out of the way into a stainless steel refrigerator. He slid down, revealing a large dent in the door, but was on his feet very quickly considering the blow he had just received. Beast was on Bane’s back in an instant.

“Go for the tubes, rip them out!” Batman screamed.

“What tubes?”

“Haha” Bane let out another hardy laugh.  Bane’s typical weakness was gone. The tubes carrying the muscle enhancing venom were gone, perhaps internalized. “Am I not allowed to upgrade?” He said this as he grabbed Beast by the head and flipped him into Batman, who was still too stunned to get out of the way in time.

Longshot wasn’t doing much better as he fled from the bullets and the man shooting them. He knew he needed to open up the space. This guy was good, too good, and the space was way too small.

The hail of bullets shattered the glass in front of him as he ran towards a sliding door. Now out on the lawn he felt a bit better about the situation. There wasn’t any cover, but there was a lot of space.  As he was about to spring into the air he took an extra second to compensate for the slippery wet grass and in that same second, a bullet to the left shoulder. Not good.

Still he was airborne and in the open, where he was at his best.

“Now, you’re going to pay.”  Longtshot launched two blades at Crossbones, imbedding in his right bicep. For all he seemed to notice they might as well have been toothpicks.

Snort. Crossbones laughed as he through the empty machine guns down and switched to two smaller hand held semi-automatics. “Who the hell’s gonna make me? Shit, twinkle toes, you’re a dead man and you know it!”

Longshot took another hit, this one a much cleaner shot even though he was spinning in the air. The bullet punctured his abdomen and he rolled to the ground. Who was this guy? Longshot had defeated legions of gun wielding psychos back on Mojoworld. None of them were this good.

“You trying to put on a show, boy? This some kinda gymnastics competition to you?”

Meanwhile, back inside the cold realization struck Beast that they weren’t going to be able to defeat this Bane. Batman wasn’t kidding with his warning. The man was practically as skilled a combatant as Batman himself and had strength that rivaled Beast’s own.

Bouncing off a wall, Beast came flying back at Bane, letting out a sound similar to that of an enraged leopard – “Catman?” Bane mused half laughing. ”You would do better to go back to throwing young boys at me, I think.” With that Bane caught Beast in a variation on the sleeper hold. The pain was excruciating.

Batman was back on his feet, running to Beasts aid. Conventional moves weren’t working, nerve strikes weren’t working – and some of the nastier items in his belt couldn’t be used with McCoy at this range. This is why he liked to work alone.

As Batman took a flying jump kick to Bane’s head, a kick that he knew was powerful enough to go through solid concrete, he found himself caught and upside down. Bane was now holding Batman by the leg with one hand and Beast around the neck in a headlock with the other.  At once he flung Batman through a wall, and then began punching Beast in the face, over and over again, while letting out another hardy laugh.

Back outside, Longshot had taken the fight toe to toe with Crossbones without much luck. He found himself casually out matched at every turn. This mysterious killer was even better with his bare hands then he was with his guns. Every punch blocked, every kick countered. Even if he weren’t injured, this mercenary would have been too much. The only thing Longshot had on his attacker was agility.

Fighting this guy hand to hand, or otherwise just wasn’t working. It was time to run, and hope to delay him long enough for Beast and Batman to finish off Bane… If only Longshot knew the folly of that hope.
Back with distance between them again, Crossbones was having too much fun.  He took out his hunting knife and chased after Longshot. The chase led up the side of the house and back onto the roof – Crossbones had no trouble ascending the wall of the building.

“I’m coming for you, there’s no where to run.” This wasn’t exactly true. The roof was large and it was dark. Crossbones had lost sight of his prey. He crept along now, much more stealthily.

Longshot crouched and hid behind something that looked like it was used for heating or cooling. At that moment a smile crept upon his face. He could feel it happening, things were lining up. He didn’t know how, but suddenly the situation didn’t seem so hopeless.

“Come out here twinkle toes, I just want to talk” The sound of Crossbones voice was right on top of him.

It was now or never.

Longshot jumped out but Crossbones was too good.

“You’d have an easier time ambushing a fly. “He held Longshot a few inches off the ground had him with a hand on each arm, and his hunting knife still in his right hand pinned against the arm of his captive.
“This just isn’t your day, pretty boy.”

That’s when Longshot saw the grenades on Crossbones chest.

“It wasn’t… until now.” Longshot was looking down, one of his eyes was glowing a bright yellow.
Crossbones looked down to see what the hell he was talking about. There was a grenade pin around each of Longshot’s index fingers. Crossbones began his usual foul refrain.

“Oh shi..”

At that moment Longshot  doubled over at the waist bringing his legs up and kicking out.  This forced Crossbones to drop Longshot and sent him stumbling back. Had Crossbones been anywhere else on the roof, Longshot would have been in just as much trouble. But as luck would have it he was in front of that skylight.

Crossbones took one step too far and crashed through bringing all the glass down with him just as the grenades were going off.

Glass blood and debris shot out from the opening where the skylight had been, Longshot on the ground breathing hard and looking forward.

The explosion didn’t phase Beast or Batman. They were too far gone for that. Bane turned his head, but kept where he was, holding Batman’s throat in one hand and Beast’s in the other with his arms spread out the full distance.

“It would seem our friends got a little crazy, no? Someone will be paying for my home, I promise you that.”

Neither could muster a response. Beast hung limp, Batman was still trying to fight the iron grip closing in on his windpipe.

“This has been fun, but I think it is well past time for both of you to die.”

Suddenly the kitchen was flooded with light streaming in from where Longshot and Crossbones had run out. Bane winced and turned his head away, Batman crocked a hazy eye to the direction the light was coming from but found it too bright and brought his hand up trying to shield his eyes.

An engine revved. Crashing through the remains of the sliding doors right in front of him was Bane’s own Bugatti Veyron.  As the car approached faster than Bane could react, the last thing he noticed before he lost consciousness was a smile and a certain glowing yellow eye shinning from behind the cracked windshield.

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Re: All the Pawns in the World
« Reply #10 on: January 18, 2015, 12:23:39 PM »
Chapter 5: Last day in Gotham

“So when I got down off the roof, I could see right into the kitchen. Batman almost looked dead, Henry – and you looked worse!”  The two injured X-Men stood out on the lawn. It was going to be another late night.

“I appreciate the save, my friend, I wouldn’t be here right now if it wasn’t for you. And he wouldn’t be either, but he’s still very perturbed.  And I can’t say that he doesn’t have the right to be. For God’s sake’s Longshot, A man is dead!”

“You would think he’d be grateful. And besides it’s not like I had many options up there. It’s also not the first time you or I have seen death, and it probably won’t be the last. I’m sure the same is true of the Batman.”

“I get the sense that there in lies his problem with all of this. Knowing death does not imply a welcoming of its presence.”

Back inside the kitchen, Bane, slowly rejoined the world. A car on his chest – his car on his chest, and on his car, bloodied and bruised, crouching down with a sadistic smile on his face was The Bat.

“I wouldn’t try to venom up if I was you. You might find that some of your tubing doesn’t go exactly where you expect it to.” Bane was numb, but he was too smart to doubt Batman in this. As long as it didn’t kill, he knew Batman had no problems with maiming.

“Wh-where’s…” Bane had to stop talking, his breathing was too labored. After a moment he began again.” Where’s…. Crossbones.”

“Your associate met an untimely death. I accept blame in this, and will deal with it personally.”

“When… The Red Skull… finds… out…”

“You let me worry about that. You need to tell me what you know about the X-Men.”

“Mutants… freaks.”

“You know what I’m talking about, Bane. Don’t play games with me.” Batman leaned forward on the car and it put more pressure on Bane’s chest.

“F-F-fine. Just… get… off… the…”  another long pause.

“Yes?”

“Car.”

Batman jumped off to the side. “I’m listening… don’t make me go and get the big blue cat to come in here and sit on the car.”

“Nothing… you can do about it anyways… at this point. They’re not in Gotham… Shipping yards. Left days ago.”

“What ship did they leave on?”

“Don’t know… you’ll have to ask the man who made the drop off… and I’m afraid you’ll need a clairvoyant to get anything out of Crossbones at this point.”

Batman glared, he was clearly not amused.

“Who else took part in the kidnappings?”

“There were four of us total. I had never met any of them before that night. We did not speak about anything else other than the mission. Even Crossbones was new to me, but he came along to Gotham to make sure that these mutants were secure. I can tell you this: these people were good at what they did all professionals, all very powerful and with advanced technology. Whoever hired us, knew how to get the best.”

“Why’d you do it, Bane. What score do you have to settle against these X-Men?”

“Haha” Bane’s laugh came out, weak and nothing like the hardy one he had displayed before. “What’s in it for me? Bruce, you of all people, must know what makes the world go round… Money, more money then you could possibly imagine… well maybe not you.”

“That’s not like you. You wouldn’t work with anyone affiliated with the Red Skull. And taking part in kidnappings? You’ve never been the ‘work for just money’ sort, the ‘take orders’ sort. You’ve never done anything without a reason in your life!”

If an expression could be seen through the mask, it changed. Bane’s next words were grim and serious, they lacked the air of levity that he had carried this whole night. “Do not presume to know me. You have no idea of what’s coming. The world has changed. It is no longer a question of right or wrong. To oppose the coming shadow means death to any and all. I played a small part, yes, and in doing so, perhaps  I damned myself. But at least I am alive. At least. I. Am alive. At least I will live to fight another day.”

“I wouldn’t be so sure about that.” Batman’s boot came down hard, rendering Bane unconscious for the second time in one night. It was clear there was nothing else useful that could come out of him. And after that last bit, Batman wondered if maybe Arkham wasn’t a better place to keep him than Blackgate. That would be up to the law to decide. It would take a while for the nearest Gotham units to arrive still, but at least they were on their way.

Longshot could see Batman clearly as he stomped down on Bane’s face. With that The Bat turned and made a hurried pace towards the quickly healing inter-dimensional action hero.

They came face to face and the seconds felt like minutes. A right hook from Batman caught Longshot off guard and sent him out across the lawn.

“You work with me, we do things a certain way. That means no killing. Do we understand each other?”

Longshot hadn’t had a choice. If there was another option in the situation to save himself and the others, he couldn’t see it. He wanted to explain that sometimes rules need to be broken, but it wasn’t worth it. For all his bravado, for all the lives he may have took on Mojoworld, death didn’t sit well with him either.  That’s part of what made him such a good fit with the X-Men in the first place.

Batman clearly didn’t need a response. It wasn’t a choice as far as he was concerned. He had already turned towards the street.

“Come on. We’re leaving.”

The ride back to Gotham was uncomfortable and silent. Beast’s image inducer was broken, and when they got to the hotel that Beast and Longshot had been staying in, Henry stayed in the car with Batman long enough for Longshot to get Beast’s spare.

As Beast got out, he was silent, he was in pain, he just wanted to get to sleep.

The silence was broken by Batman’s gravely voice. “Tomorrow night. Same time. The cemetery. Have your bags packed. We’re leaving Gotham.”

We? Those words hung in Longshots mind for a long moment. Did he just say ‘we’re leaving Gotham?’
“Don’t you…?” McCoy was cut off as the hatch at the top of the Bat Mobile slid closed and the high tech vehicle sped down the street.

The two wayward heroes looked at each other. Neither said a word, both turned towards the hotel entrance. It was time to let sleep and let healing factors do their jobs.

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Re: All the Pawns in the World
« Reply #11 on: January 18, 2015, 12:30:03 PM »
Chapter 6: Out of the frying pan…

With the third visit in as many nights, The Greenwood Cemetery was becoming familiar territory to the agile graduates of the Xavier Institute, as was the voice that greeted them.

“Thailand.”

And that was all The Dark Knight needed to say. Longshot trusted him by now, or at least trusted his methods. He had, after all, been able to get results where his fellow X-Men and he had not.

As Beast surveyed the moonless night he tried to sort out the methods Batman must have used. How many ships could have left Gotham’s port in the past week? How could Batman be so sure? Like Longshot, despite questioning the how, he did not question the man’s results. He had seen his work first hand—had seen what an effective interrogator he was on Bane. No doubt someone was more than willing to cooperate by the time this vigilante was threw with him.

“So about that.” Longshot began. “Last night you said “we’re” leaving Gotham. You’re coming to Thailand with us?”

“Thailand’s a big place. If you plan on finding your friends, you’re best chance is with my help.” 

“And who shall watch your fair city?”

Batman looked to where Beast’s attention was. The artificial lights of downtown Gotham cast a glow on the overcast clouds above.

“You let me worry about that, it’s taken care of. Now we’re going to need transportation. ”
McCoy now polishing his glasses looked up at Batman. “You let us worry about that, it’s taken care of.”

--------------------------

It’s rare, but it happens. Batman can be impressed. The interior of the Blackbird was not what he had expected. To start, the interior seemed more spacious than he would have thought—and the technology was unlike anything he had seen—at least on this planet.

Beast caught Batman staring at the consoles before him.

“Shi’ar. They’re an incredible race—an empire really. This technology is the culmination of efforts of dozens of worlds.”

Seconds after take off the craft broke the sound barrier. It was cloaked from visual and radar detection so that they could fly through any airspace. Whatever other hardships the rest of the X-Men were facing, they did so without their primary aircraft.

Longshot had his feet up and eyes closed. His dreams were more like nightmares, filled with the bulging eyes and contorted smile of the lord of entertainment and excess, the cruel death god, the spineless blob of yellow mush that had made his life a never ending sequence of combat. Mojo was everywhere and then he was everything—his pools of yellow flesh were the landscape and Longshot was sinking right in. Like being caught in melting cheese. Right as his head was about to sink below the flowing tide of fat—“

“Longshot, wake up! We’re almost there.”

Longshot eyes opened with a start. Beast, his blue furred savior, had spared him a fate worse than death. The sky was bright on the horizon. It would be morning soon, not that it mattered. The pilot and two passengers of the advanced craft were still functioning based on a timezone on the other side of the world.

“We’ll have to land outside of Sattahip—Even with the cloak up, we’re going to want to avoid an area that densely populated. If we’re going to find…
Oh my stars and garters!”

“McCoy! Get your head in the game, take evasive action!”

The Blackbird pulled up as giant bat, three times the size of the craft and made out of pure fire flew directly under them, narrowly missing the plane.

Longshot, darted over to a window on the other side of the plane. He could see the enormous creature turning back in their direction.

“Your bat friend is coming back!”

“This isn’t one of mine.”

“Actually, Longshot… I think this may be one of ours.”

Beast was no Scott Summers. He was a good enough pilot, but he wasn’t good enough to shake this thing. All of the windows were now engulfed in flames.

Batman was studying the consoles.

“The exterior hull’s at 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit and climbing… 1,600 degrees… 1,700… how hot can this thing get before it breaches?”

“Sustained like this? We can probably stand twice this hot… but not for more than 20 seconds.”

“We’re already at 2,600 and climbing faster— 2,900 if you don’t shake this thing NOW we’re dead.”

“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore. – Andre Gide.”

Longshot was now up at the front of the plane with Beast and Batman.

“I’m not going to live long enough to find out what that means, am I?”

“On the contrary my bird-boned brethren, strap in, cause you’re about to find out!”

With that, Beast jammed his full weight forward on the controls and as he did so the Blackbird took a sharp nosedive. Longshot almost went flying into Batman’s lap; his preternatural agility, fortunately allowed him to compensate for the shift in cabin orientation and he held fast in place.

As the craft rapidly descended, for a brief moment it was out of the fire, but not a moment later the fire creature was back on them, again engulfing the entire Blackbird.

“That was your plan?” Longshot was struggling to get a seatbelt on while simultaneously holding his position in his seat.

“Hardly.”

Beast reached for a lever above his head. Flipped a switch to his left and brought a dial all the way up.
In the next moment the plane cut through the surface of the ocean below with almost no splash but rather instead accompanied by a huge geyser of steam and smoke.

The water boiled for only a moment and the creature was gone.

As the now, converted Blackbird righted itself and started traveling towards the port city underwater, Batman was the first to speak.

“Submersible—effective.”

“Fortunately we adjusted this plane for nearly every terrain on Earth.”

“I thought we were running cloaked.”

“Cloaked to radar, cloaked to the naked eye, but not cloaked to thermal detection. Not cloaked to him.”
“To who?”

“To Pyro.”

Longshot felt it was safe to remove the seatbelt he had just fitted on and ventured up to the front to again join the other two.

“Beast, Pyro’s dead.”

“I know. That’s what makes this all the more disconcerting.”

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Re: All the Pawns in the World
« Reply #12 on: January 18, 2015, 12:41:56 PM »
Chapter 7: Sattahip

The tide was on it’s way out, the sun just beginning to rise. A picturesque scene at other points along the same coast, but this was not the beach in the tourist brochures-- this was Sattahip, the busiest industrial port in Thailand.

A freighter was pulling into port, the harbormaster having again cleared ships to enter after the chaos of the predawn monster. The police we’re calling the apparition a trick of the early morning sunlight cutting through the pollution of the port, but hundreds had seen it; the fire bat brilliant, glowing hot orange to white and then descending into the ocean and disappearing from sight.

As a dockworker was being interviewed by a local police officer, 15 yards away a familiar grappling hook shot up from the foaming waves to hook onto the edge of an unpopulated dock. Then another grappling hook, this one looking average and unspectacular connected to the same dock. Two slim yet muscular silhouetted figures made their way up their respective lines in the early morning light; one adept at keeping out of sight, the other a fan of the spotlight.

Once they were clear of earshot Batman spoke.

“Whoever we’re dealing with, they’re connected. Bane would barely have had a chance to get word out. He’s still being processed back into Blackgate at this point. Someone knew we were coming. Knew I was involved… wanted me to know they knew.”

“Pyro wanted you to know?”

“Pyro is likely just a pawn—now let’s see if we can draw him out.”

Longshot touched the communicator tab on his belt—fortunately it was water proof. “Alright Beast, let’s give him something to burn.”

Beast’s voice came crackling through the receiver.

“I can’t begin to tell you how much I love this plan.”

“Hey, don’t blame me—you’ve got the most experience flying that thing.”

The cloaked jet began to rise from the water while staying parallel with the surface of the ocean. As the water began to drip off the vehicle, it quickly disappeared, blending in with the sky, forming an all but visible silhouette of movement.

No one on the shore or on any of the large shipping vessels noticed it. No one save Batman who tracked it with his own thermal scanning cowl and as he scanned he looked for signs of another who might be able to detect the plane’s heat.

For five minutes Beast flew lazy circles around the port, fishing for some manifestation of fire to yet again engulf the craft, but there was nothing.

“Longshot ,This isn’t working—I’m going to find a place to land somewhere beyond the city limits. You two see what you can find and I’ll meet up with you as soon as I can.”

“Alright, Hank—be safe.”

“You too. McCoy out.”

“So I guess it’s just you and…” Longshot turned and realized he was talking to no one. “Different city. Same Batman.”

A short distance away, all but unnoticed by the crowds gathered at the docks, an unassuming older British man drove up to the port alone. If he stopped, no one seemed to notice. As he drove away from the bustle of the docks he was no longer on his own.

“A ‘fire-bat,’ Master Bruce?”

“A mutant named Pyro…  a dead one at that. What time’s my meeting, Alfred?”

“9:30, Sir.”

“Good, that gives me just enough time—connect me to Barbra.”

Longshot realized why Batman may have left, other than his seeming aversion to daylight and police. As he assessed the scene, the interdimensional action star figured it might be a little difficult to explain why, he the only non-Thai person, was standing there, on the docks immediately after the fire bat incident, dripping wet, brandishing a grappling hook and a bandoleer full of knives. Adding to that difficulty would be his lack of a passport and inability to speak a lick of Thai.

With uncanny ease, he flipped from a crate to the second floor fire escape of a nearby building, bounded up again, barely planting his foot on a window sill and while spinning in the air caught the ladder of the same fire escape flipped straight up and landed on the roof of the three story structure.

“Beast—I lost the Batman.”

“I’m sure he’ll turn up, in the meantime, if you want to start heading east, I’ve landed the jet outside the city. In fact, if you could find a taxi to come pick me up in, I’d greatly appreciate it.”

“Do you speak, Thai?”

“ผมก็จะทำ”

“I’ll take that as a yes. Just tell me what to tell the taxi driver and I’ll figure it out—I’ll get back to you once I’ve found one.”

“Indubitably.” 

Longshot began making his way from rooftop to rooftop. As he bounded across the early morning cityscape he caught movement out of the corner of his eye. Several rooftops away, heading in the same direction and matching his pace was a figure, a woman, clad in a bright blue Chinese dress, something out of an earlier century, but modified to allow her free movement from the waist down. The outfit was complete by what looked to be a pair of brown stockings and white combat boots.

Longshot made his way closer and as he moved in, instead of fleeing, she mirrored his movement, now also approaching him. He could now see that she was Asian—not surprising considering he was in Asia, but she didn’t look Thai, maybe Chinese? It would make sense with the dress and her hair up in traditional Chinese style ‘ox horn’ buns.

“Hello!” he shouted, as they were now only a rooftop apart. She was beautiful and perhaps his match in agility. He’d never seen a woman move like this. As they landed on the same roof he slowed his pace so as not to charge at this beautiful woman. She did not do the same.

Suddenly she was airborne with her powerful leg stretched directly out in front of her flying directly at his face. He leaned back, dodging her foot and flipped a full 360 degrees, again righting himself just in time to see her bounding off of a doorway right beside him and now coming down directly on top of him, feet first. Without time to get out of the way, he put up his arms to block, and she sent him down to the ground.

He was on his feet again in no time, but the woman was already attacking again, her feet moved faster than his eye could track, she reigned kick after kick to his head, his mid section, his arms—how was she moving so fast?

“Lady—“ He managed to get out between blows “I’m a gentleman and don’t—“

A powerful boot to the jaw shut him up and sent him flying back to the ground.

Now she crouched on top of him lifting him by his collar. She delivered a powerful short jab to his bloodied jaw and again retracted her fist reeling it back, ready to strike.

“WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE? WHO DO YOU WORK FOR?” she demanded.

“Nothing! No one!” Again he caught a palm square to his normally handsome face. He wasn’t quite looking his best in the moment.

“Lie to me again, and get another one. Eye witnesses report a white man, blond, lurking around the docks before dawn, before the incident with the ‘fire-bat.’ What do you know about the creature?”

“Listen… listen—I think… I think we might have a misunderstanding.

Fire-bat, yeah? It wasn’t alive, or independent, or whatever. It was a man who controls fire. A mutant named Pyro. He was—he was attacking me and my friends… well one of them was my friend.

Pyro’s the man you want. We were looking for him ourselves… “

“And why did this ‘Pyro’ attack you?”

“Cause I think we’re on the right trail…tell me, Ms…”

“Chun-Li.”

“Ms. Chun-Li. You ever hear of the X-Men?”

scourge

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Re: All the Pawns in the World
« Reply #13 on: January 18, 2015, 12:42:45 PM »
Interlude:

Madam Web knew this was coming. She had seen the metallic face, the glowing yellow eyes peering out from under the detective style fedora.
“Well, get on with it!”

And as Madam Web uttered those words, the front door to her apartment exploded inward shattered irreparably into countless pieces.  It was just as she predicted. What she couldn’t have predicted was the size of this assailant. She hadn’t expected her tan trench coat clad abductor to be so large. This massive parody of a spy or a detective, just stood there for a moment before walking through his remolded version of her entrance way.

To the unenlightened, this might have been an excessively powerful agent to send for such an elderly and frail woman, but those in the know understood that she was an occasional host to one Amazing Spider-Man. Had the wall crawler shown up at this time, perhaps he would have been able to give this walking powerhouse pause… perhaps. The point was moot.

Web was alone with her captor; as one who could see what was coming, she knew this next part. She knew she would have no choice but to be escorted from her New York City apartment by this strange character. What bothered her now more than anything is that she could not see what happened after that.

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Re: All the Pawns in the World
« Reply #14 on: January 18, 2015, 01:38:06 PM »
Chapter 8: New & Old Friends

Som Taan didn’t mean to stare, but they were such an odd site, and the only ones besides him in his dimly lit restaurant. Generally, the only people who came in here were local dockworkers and perhaps the occasional suited businessman overseeing something at the docks. A blond white man wearing a black leather action suit, adorned with a rope and a strap of knives accompanied by a Chinese woman in an even stranger get up. One who he thought he recognized, but had never seen her looking like this, garbed in an outdated blue dress that would almost look traditional Chinese if it wasn’t cut so short. Perhaps they were with the circus?

“Khao phat poo. It’s the best thing going here near the coast. My treat, it’s the least I can do.”

“Don’t worry about it, I’m tougher than I look.”
With that Longshot tenderly dabbed at his split lip. The blood had stopped, but the pain lingered as a reminder of what this now, gracious and kind woman was capable of. The mid morning light was mostly blocked by several decade old blinds, concealing the extent of Longshot’s bruises. The stagnant humid air was slightly cooled by a single ceiling fan. Chun-Li had gone up to the counter to place the orders as Longshot found a seat by the wall.

“Beast, come in, I might be a little bit.”

“It’s ok, I have to update Scott. Let him know where we are… Is everything alright with you?”

“Yeah, I think so. I may have just had another one of my “lucky” run-ins—I’ve gotta go. I’ll be in touch. Longshot, out.”

As Chun-li made her way back towards Longshot, the bright colors of her pristine dress and boots popped against the subdued drab interior of Som Taan’s restaurant.
“So, is that a standard Interpol uniform?”

“Very cute. It’s what I wear when I fight. I was formerly an undercover agent. This was my look on the competitive fighting circuit. I stopped working undercover a few years ago… but I never stopped fighting.”

“That’s what you were doing here? You came to Sattahip for a fight?”

“Not to Sattahip—I was scheduled for a fight today a few hours inland against the second best Muay Thai fighter in the country. When things got crazy this morning I was sent to go investigate and had to reschedule the fight.”

“And what kind of results has your investigation yielded?”

“I’m afraid that’s Interpol business, Mr.—“

“Longshot.”

Som Taan brought two orders of the khao phat poo to their table, along with two Styrofoam cups of water. They thanked him and continued their conversation.

“Ok, Mr. Longshot. My turn to ask the questions. What do you know about the captors of your missing friends?”

“Not a whole lot. They were taken by a four-man team—they must have been really good, or really prepared as the X-Men are a tough lot to say the least. They took all the psychics and our best tracker/fighter. We found two of the men responsible back in Gotham. A reliable source says the missing X-Men were on a shipping vessel to this port at some point in the past week.”

“And this Pyro fellow, you think he’s involved?”

“A few years ago I would have had no doubt in my mind that it was him.”

“So what’s changed?”

“Pyro’s dead.”

The last words hung in the air. Chun-Li looked down into her plate for a moment, wheels were turning in her head. Some of what Longshot had said touched a chord.

“Tell me, Longshot is there any where you have to be today?”

“I have to pick up a friend… and maybe meet up with another ‘contact’ but other than that, my schedule is pretty open. Why?”

“I’m going to that fight today, and you’re coming with me.”

“I am?”

“Yes. You are. The man I’m scheduled to fight today, Adon, the second best Muay Thai fighter in the country—I believe he knows how to find a man named Sagat, the best Muay Thai fighter in the country… best in the world, as a matter of fact. Besides being one of the most dangerous men I’ve ever met, Sagat is also a man in the know, and if there are dark dealings such as smuggling super powered mutants into the country, Sagat’s the man to ask about it.”

 ----------------------

Back in the Blackbird, Henry McCoy a.k.a. the Beast was reading a collection of essays—occasionally he’d look up to eye the two motorcycles kept in the storage bay of the jet. If only Beast knew how to ride a motorcycle, he’d have been on his way. He put that out of his head. Reading was nice. It was relaxing. He needed this. A nap, some reading, just waiting for Longshot—life was ok if you understood that sometimes all you can do is wait.
Suddenly he heard the crackle of the communicator. He switched on the two-way viewer. It was his “leader.” Scott Summers—X-Man number one. Though Scott may have been leader of the team, the two of them had a relationship of equals. Beast had been there all along since the start of the group and had always been a valued advisor for his keen intellect.

“I reviewed your report. Good work, Henry—It sounds like you and Longshot are getting somewhere.”

“Yes, well, we couldn’t have done it without the Batman.”

“It’s lucky that you ran into him.”

“That, of course, would be Longshot’s doing. On that note he might be drumming up some more help as we speak.”

“That’s excellent. Things here are still a mess, but I’ve got Guthrie’s team on standby ready to deploy at a moments notice. You give the word and I’ll send them to your coordinates. I don’t want you taking any chances… especially not with this Pyro business.”

“Worry not, o fearless one—Should we require the aid, I shan’t hesitate to call the kiddies in for back-up.”

“Alright, Henry, be careful, keep me posted as the situation develops.”

“I will do my best and Scott—you be careful too. You may be my leader but you’re also my friend… I worry about the burden you take on.”

“I appreciate that—you get Emma and the others back safely and once this situation on the home front is taken care of, maybe I’ll even take a vacation.”

“You know I’m going to hold you to that, right? I have this conversation recording here in the jet.”

“I don’t doubt that you will, Hank—we’ll continue this later. Cyclops out.”

Beast returned to his book. He only got half way through another essay before he heard a loud engine pulling up. He could see a jeep pulling up. It looked like Longshot was in the passenger seat. Not knowing the driver he switched on his image inducer, he now looked almost identical to the disguise he wore in Gotham except now he switched the ethnicity of the disguise to Thai.

As the cargo bay hatched opened the sounds and smells of the mid afternoon jungle came alive. His enhanced hearing picked up the most beautiful range of birdcalls, a few monkeys chattered off in the distance. He smelled that there were both elephants and tigers somewhere in the area. This was indeed a sharp contrast from the foul thick air of the Gotham streets.

“Not a bad parking job!”
Beast was becoming rather accustom to Longshot’s easy going demeanor—he recalled a time when he would have been considered the easy going one between the two of them. It almost reminded him of spending time with Simon Williams, the Avengers very own Wonder Man.

“I appreciate that—this clearing was pretty much the perfect size for the jet.”

As Beast jumped into sight. Longshot was taken back.

“Beast?”

“Is something wrong?”

“You’re… a, you’re Asian now?”

“With this image inducer, I’m whatever’s the least conspicuous… speaking of conspicuous…”

Beast now caught a good look at Longshot’s new friend.

“Hello Ms…”

“Chun-Li.”

“Ms. Chun-Li.”

“And you are?”

“Dr. Henry McCoy, Ph.D.”

“Alright, Hank, let’s pack it up, we’re hitting the road—going with Chun-li here to see her fight.”

“And why are we doing that… you know what? Nevermind. I’m sure you have a perfectly good reason for it.”

With that, Beast closed up the jet and got in the jeep. The three drove off, exchanging pleasantries as casual as could be with no concern at all that one of them was about to fight one of the greatest competitors the martial art of Muay Thai has ever produced.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2015, 04:42:04 PM by scourge »