Guardians: Marvel Cinematic Universe

Aftermath E1S1

Conrad Carter sped away from the industrial building as fast as his suit’s repulsors could manage without redlining. The darkened cityscape still showed signs of damage—presumably this place also had suffered a major battle in the recent past. The important differences weren’t immediately visible. What world had they stumbled into?

That question was nearly rendered moot as the interference from the dimensional rift suddenly ceased. Conrad came to a halt above the street as a nigh-irresistible force seized him and began pulling him at right angles to reality! He struggled against it—how, he wasn’t sure—but the world began to pull away. Suddenly, the force abated, and Conrad was thrown to the asphalt below! As he shook off the shock, he rolled to his feet and took stock of his surroundings.

He was on a typical residential street of the city, one lined with row houses on one side and tenements on the other. The sounds of this city at night were subdued in this quiet neighborhood, which enabled him to hear the soft, high sound of pipes. The music came from a creature with the torso and head of a man, but the lower half of a goat. It stood in the shadows between streetlights, and lowered it’s pipes as Conrad watched.

“Can’t have you leaving us so soon,” the creature said. “You’ve only just arrived, and the real party is yet to begin!”

“Party? What party? Who are you!?” Conrad challenged.

“A benefactor,” came the response. “But don’t worry; the first one is always free.” The being took a step back, vanishing in the shadows.

Radar and other sensors confirmed that it was truly gone— probably a teleporter —and so Conrad dismissed the odd Gifted from his mind. He had other, more immediate concerns.

When his team had first encountered the dimensional rift and had been confronted with the appearance of their doppelgangers, Carter had assumed he was still in his own world. After all, it had been the hostile duplicates that had appeared out of nowhere. However, he had quickly noticed that his suit’s data feed from headquarters had been cut off. In fact, his divided attention between this and combat had resulted in his rather below-par performance in that fight.

Having fled both fight and interference from the rift, the situation became clear. SHIELD communications were present and nearly ubiquitous, but there was something odd… something hidden within those signals. It took a few moments for his communication suite to suss it out, but he was eventually able to lock onto the hidden signal.

Authenticate

“Hail Hydra!”

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