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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Mean Streets E2S1

Fire crackled in the pit before his throne, the eerie green flames providing an eldritch and flickering light for the otherwise-dark hall. Shapes moved in the shadows—guards and members of his court, all giving him space and silence in which to brood.

The Erlking pondered his involvement with mortals.

His home was now attached to a new Earth, one he had come to in the company of the mortal woman Natalia. He liked this Earth better than the other; while not free from conflict, it lacked the all-encompassing war between magical factions that had dominated the other and severely restricted his freedom of action there.

Of course, this Earth had its own hazards. The Eye was in motion, and had taken note of Natalia. The Erlking would have to be circumspect in his interaction with her, as he did not want to come to the attention of the Eye or its wielder. Which begged the question: why was it watching her?


Diamond Jack gradually came to in the back of what appeared to be a prison ambulance. He was shackled onto the gurney with heavy restraints and the interior of the vehicle was obviously heavily armored. A tube led from his arm to a bag suspended above the gurney, although the needle was unaccountably withdrawn from his arm. Two guards in armor and bearing what looked like hi-tech cattle-prods slumped on seats—unconscious from their posture and lack of movement, although their grossly swollen hands indicated poison or severe allergic reaction. The vehicle’s engine rumbled, but Jack had no sense of movement.

A few minutes of diligent effort freed him of the restraints—even the heavy steel was not proof against his prodigious strength. Jack carefully tried the door in the back of the compartment and found it to be not only unlocked, but slightly ajar. Outside revealed itself to be a dark country roadside with only distant glimmering lights indicating human presence. Down the road, an alternating green and white light lit up part of the horizon, indicating an airport.

But here there was only the sound of the truck idling.

Grimacing at the sartorial offense of his orange jumpsuit, Jack availed himself of the darker uniform of one of the guards and vanished into the night

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Code Green S1E3

“Your mission failed.”

The imposing presence of Taurus was not one lightly faced when one had reason to believed he was displeased, and Leo was under no illusions about his team’s performance.

“The Avengers were to be removed from the equation for our plans to go forward. This will now be… difficult.”

Leo held himself still, unwilling to show the fear or anger that raced through him. Taurus was not a person who tolerated fear or undisciplined emotion in his subordinates. To show either would be yet another failure. The rest of the Council seemed disinclined to intervene on his behalf… except maybe…

“Before you continue,” interjected Capricorn, "consider: Stark and Banner are effectively neutralized for the near future. They will be too consumed with “solving” the problem of the Hulk going rogue again to interfere. Thor is still absent following the events in London. We have a window in which we only need to counter Rodgers, Barton, and Romanova. Of those, we can easily sidetrack Barton. With minor modification, we can launch Phase One.

“After all, we don’t need Hydra to succeed. We merely need SHIELD to fall.”

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Snake Eyes S1E4

“My lord.”

The aide was hesitant to interrupt the Baron’s reverie. Around them, the operations center was a hive of frenetic activity as Hydra’s forces engaged SHIELD across the world. The call to rise up had come unexpectedly early—the bombardment weapons had not yet been employed, and now, thanks to rogue SHIELD elements, they were lost.

“Speak.”

“My lord, most of our operations are succeeding with the notable exceptions of the Citadel and the SHIELD academy. We…”

“Wait.” The Baron cut him off. “I know about the Citadel, that outcome was part of the plan. What happened at the Academy?”

“Interference, my lord, by the so-called ‘Fantastic Four’. They arrived via a hypersonic transport and routed our forces.”

“I see. And the Avengers?”

“Other than the few present at the Triskellion, my lord, they have not made an appearance. There was…” He checked his notes. “…a SHIELD security center in New York. We subverted it as part of preparations for today, but they haven’t reported in.”

“Hmm. Lady Viper was there, was she not? One of our few Gifted. If she’s gone silent, that does not bode well. What of Mount Washington?”

“The assault made significant progress before stalling, my lord.”

“Stalling? Why?”

“It appears a third party has intervened for reasons unknown. We don’t know who, and we are attempting to open communications—a straight assault failed with the loss of all agents in that wave. The party is apparently a Gifted of significant strength.”

“These… Gifted. They are dangerous. Untrustworthy. We must have the systems that SHIELD stole from Trask, and then we will be able to put these Gifted in their rightful place. Detach what you need from the strike on Chicago. Use the entire force if you must, but bring me what is in Mount Washington!”

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Every SHIELD Shattered S1E5

Dust still hung in the air about Mount Washington, but the large crater marring the mountainside was visible even through that haze. The low-kiloton explosion that had destroyed the SHIELD facility had sent alarms through the national security structure of the Untied States, coming as it did on the heels of the firefight over Washington DC.

SHIELD was being blamed. Having seen their chance to take down a hated rival, the American military services were deploying to those few SHIELD facilities that survived Hydra’s assaults. In some cases, they took out the Hydra forces only to arrest and imprison the beleaguered SHIELD remnants. Hydra and SHIELD were being conflated in the media, and Nick Fury’s secret agency would never recover.

But here on the New Hampshire mountains, that struggle remained distant… for the moment.

“You have my thanks for the rescue,” said Loki, “But I expect you want something more than that. Name it, and if it is within reason, it is yours.”

“All I want is for you to hear me out,” his strange companion replied. “Think on this: you control Asgard, but even all of its power will not help you prevail against Thanos should he turn his attention your way, and he will do that eventually. The Mad Titan does not forgive failure.”

“I suppose you think you can help protect me?” Loki mocked.

“Oh no,” was the answer. "No, not as we are now. But Earth is an… untapped resource of great power. Read what Odin has no doubt written in his archives. He was not protecting Earth by repelling invasions of it… he was protecting Asgard. You see, humans respond to threats by manifesting power. The greater the threat, the greater the power.

“My leader intends to harness this. Even now, the Gifted, as the humans call them, are increasing in number and power. With the fall of SHIELD and Hydra, the governments of Earth have lost their ability to control the Gifted.”

“I suppose you lot have a plan to do so.”

“Indeed. And when Thanos turns his sight towards you, you will have an ally. A powerful one. One that joined with Asgard will give even Thanos pause.”

“So, what is the price of this aid?”

“Join us. Aid our plan, and in return Taurus pledges our aid against Thanos.”

Loki mulled over the options for a few silent moments.

“Alright, I agree to your terms.”

“Welcome to the Zodiac… Gemini.”.

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School’s In Session S2E1

“So, you have failed.”

“For the moment,” answered Mystique. “Xavier has her now. But I can still get her for you, I just need more time.”

“Time.” The man on the other end of the comm link sighed. "Yes, I have no doubt you could succeed given time—a more judicious infiltration would work. But I do not wish to spend that time.

“Keep the money,” he forestalled her complaint. “Keep it, and keep your silence in this matter. Your role has ended.”

He broke the link. Finesse had failed; it was now time for a different approach. For a moment his eyes flicked over to the sarcophagus. The sleeper would awaken.

Soon.

Oh yes. Soon.

He activated the comm link again.

“I have decided to accept your offer…”

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Mutant Massacre S2E2

Silence reigned in the tunnels below New York.

The Guardians, their charge in hand, had left. Likewise the X-Men, dragging their wounded with them. The huddled bodies of the fallen Morlocks lay where they had fallen. Calisto and Caliban, two of the few survivors, had yet to return to retrieve them.

The silence was broken by a rhythmic dragging, accompanied by the rasp of labored breathing. A clown, bloodied and broken crawled along a tunnel, dragging one forlorn bowling pin behind him. Despite the sheer amount of his blood that decorated his clothing and left smears on the concrete of the tunnel, he was far from dying.

Clowns are, after all, immortal.

But they can hurt, and this one did beyond the limits his fragile rationality could withstand. A hysterical giggle bubbled from him at odd moments during his painful trek. These outbursts didn’t have any relationship with the physical travails he endured, but were wholly related to whatever passed for thoughts in his shattered psyche.

In the dark, two gleaming eyes opened, and the clown felt his throat gripped in taloned fingers.

“Uuurk!” he wittily commented.

“Heeelllloooo…” a voice half drawled, half growled. “We’re going to have such fun together.”

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The Sinister Hand S2E3

Taurus stared down at the display, the tapping fingers of his cybernetic hand the only sound in the room. The others had left him alone to contemplate the data… and to avoid his rage. HE didn’t need to actually look at the display; his direct link to the computer systems gave him a more thorough and intimate connection to the data than anything achievable through mere vision. It was simply a place to rest his eyes while he thought.

The Plan had gone askew… somehow. Some influence, some unforeseen force had altered the flow of events, rendering his psychohistorical projections increasingly wrong. But he had accounted for everything, hadn’t he? The totality of vision available to the psychohistory algorithms was flawless.

Unless… unless time travel actually was possible.

But no, that was ridiculous.


Some indeterminate time previously… or subsequently… or both and neither at the same time…

“OK Wabbot, activate the tachyon matrix, polarize the quantum shielding and yank on the starter cable!”

BOOM!

“Huh… that’s not quite what I expected. Interesting.”

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Sentinel Rising S2E4

“Sir! SBIRS reports multiple signatures across all fields…”

PAVE PAWS at Beale shows multiple returns…”

“Hot line is down, I repeat Hot Line is down!”

“Cape Cod reports contacts…”

DEFCON 1; we are at DEFCON 1. Get NEACAP up!”

EWO! EWO! Emergency War Orders, Emergency War Orders! I have a message in five parts. Message begins: Tango. X-ray. Alpha…”

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Nightmares of Present Time S2E5

Loki gave the closed door a hard stare. Taurus had dismissed the rest of the Zodiac once the tachyon field had dispersed and the timelines had synchronized. In this time, Apocalypse still slept, Mr. Sinister had returned to their company, and Mastermold had been checked. The Zodiac’s plans could proceed.

The Asgardian listening device he had left in the conference room delivered Taurus’s speech to Loki’s ears. The lord of mischief frowned.

All was not as it had seemed, and Mr. Sinister wasn’t the only one pulling a con within the Twelve. Apparently, so was Taurus.

And so, of course, was Loki…

But for now, forewarned was forearmed. He would watch, and wait for the opportune moment.

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