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Marvel Mayhem: Avengers - Issue #1 - End of Days
Avengers Mansion, New York City - 25th June 2023
As usual the area around the two marble mausoleums in the grounds of Avengers Mansion remained barren, a final bitter curse from an enemy long dead, an enemy that had cruelly snatched the two most iconic members of the team from the mortal coil. Standing between the two were nine mourners, silent sentinels who awaited the sun to rise over the Atlantic and bathe the area with sunlight. Silently the woman dressed in a black cat suit, her long red hair framing the bronze full face mask she wore, looked up at the marble busts of the fallen Heroes and turned to face the others.
"As you all know it's the tenth annual Avenger Day commemorating the deaths of Steve Rogers and Tony Stark." she announced her voice choking as she mentioned their names, "Every past day has had some kind of statement from one of our numerous foes, the Crossbones bombing in 2018 springs to mind. That's why I want you all on full alert ready for whatever depraved nut job crawls out of the wood work, the memorial service in Central Park is a major target and while SHIELD hasn't picked up any traffic about an attack I want us to be ready."
"I reckon this year it will be the Circus of Crime." A golden clad woman whispered to a blue skinned man clutching a trident. "They have been silent for too long as a group yet the individuals have all been seen recently."
"Ney." The trident yielder replied, "I fear that the threat will come from a more serious corner like that villainous Commander Kraken who escaped last week from the Raft and whose followers tried to poison this very city."
"Yellowjacket, Poseidon if you two are very much finished then maybe we should continue listening to the Widow's briefing." A dark skinned man dressed in red and black, his arms supporting long bladed webbing hissed.
"Man Falcon you used to be fun what the hell happened to you?" Yellowjacket asked, "You know used to do your thinking on the wing when we were in battle."
"Cap died that's what happened." Falcon snarled angrily at her, "Iron Man too. It wasn't even a villain who took them out but some washed up ha…" His voice trailed off as a lithe Chinese man slammed his fist into the enraged Avenger's face knocking him to the floor. "Dr Lu, well I figured that's where your loyalties lay." he spat as his assailant, dressed in a jumpsuit emblazoned with a star and an A stood over him his hands glowing with green energy.
"She was a victim as well." Dr Lu spat, "You were not there from the beginning, not like I was, you didn't see what it did to Seattle, what it unleashed in the cascades. Good people died when the Cabal attacked Solstice including her so don't say her name."
"Sam, Chen enough." Black Widow spat, "We don't have the luxury of doing this again, not today at least so I am going to settle this right now. Chen what Son…Solstice did was unforgivable. And Sam you know that the host body was nothing more then a puppet for Gaia's manipulations. Now…" From her wrist a sharp buzzing sound could be heard and after a few taps it was silenced. "It's already started." she sighed, "One of the eighteen sites of continued monitoring just had an alarm tripped."
"Which one?" The dark skinned form of Power Man asked, his muscles barley contained beneath the yellow shit he wore, his eyes covered with a trade mark pair of 'Cage' brand shades.
"Its site number six, a graveyard in Baton Rouge, Louisiana were one of our old enemies was buried alive by the criminal known as the Digger. Until recently he was the guardian of the site but after nine years he decided to retire, as far as we know he never told anyone who was buried there. We can't really afford to let that accursed ground be disturbed."
"So it's assembling time?" The tall almost statuesque brunette woman dressed in a black leotard and boots, the former having white arms, asked.
"Enough sarcasm Lady M." Black Widow stated, "This is important and potentially dangerous. Now all of you get to the hanger while I finish off here." she ordered. As the other Avengers retreated back inside Black Widow bent down next to the one remaining figure, an old man dressed in a suit and spats, his wizened hands clutching a walker. "Hey Jarvis, stupid question but how are you holding up."
"It gets easier every year." Jarvis croaked, "Although I don't know why this new Iron Man has to be on the team, it seems almost like it's degrading Mr Stark's memory some how."
"I understand it's hard, and that the person I chose wouldn't impress you whoever they are but I can assure you this new pilot means well and isn't out to squander Tony's image." Black Widow assured him, "And the public and the current administration are responding to the new Iron Man and we need that desperately. After Tony and Steve died everyone began to think twice about being an Avenger and people begun to leave. And I know this line up isn't anywhere close to being the one we used to have but they have proven themselves in some nasty situations."
"Promise me you will make it to the ceremony Natasha." Jarvis asked, "I know after the last conflict with Sin, not to mention what happened during that fight that you have been a little agoraphobic but it would mean a lot to me if you could make it."
"I'll try Jarvis." Natasha sighed as she put a hand on his shoulder, "Site six, if he is reawakened then it will only be the beginning of the chaos to come, the same chaos that led to Solstice's emergence."
"Then you should get going." Jarvis told her, "Be careful Natasha, if this isn't some lost hiker then the intruder is there to free him and I can't lose anymore family." Natasha got to her feet and unholstered a slim matte black pistol. "Trust me when I say that whoever was stupid enough to walk in there won't be doing anything."
SHIELD Helicarrier, Somewhere over New York City - 18th March 2013
The two men sat silently looking down at the city they had both sworn to protect with a sense of failure. Earlier that day one of their own had done the unthinkable and had murdered and then displayed the criminals know as the Wrecking Crew before being brought down by SHIELD. To make matters worse the murderer was an original member of the team and while neither of them believed that he had really nailed Wrecker, Thunderball, Bulldozer and Piledriver to a wall SHIELD commander Maria Hill thought differently. Almost immediately all Avengers assets were seized and while they hadn't been arrested it soon came clear that until Thor was safely locked away in the Vault they were not going anywhere. Before she had left spitting and cursing Maria Hill had made her proposition clear; find new members or retire the Avengers name for good.
"Okay what about Hank?" The blonde burly form of Steve Rogers asked, his uniform replaced by a pair of jeans and a T-Shirt that read 'Keep on Walking' with a comedy drawing of the Stiltman on the front, the misguided villain's left foot stuck down a rabbit hole.
"First what about that shirt?" Tony Stark asked as he smoothed his Armani suit and took a sip out of a cup of coffee, "Where did you find it and why didn't you burn it?"
"Not all of us have money to throw around." Steve answered with a hint of bile in his voice, "Some of us buy out clothes from more humble places."
"I'll have you know that this is my cheapest suit it only cost just over a thousand dollars, no wait I brought it in Italy so it probably cost less." Tony answered, "And no Hank is currently building some kind of contraption, he requisitioned the Dragon Man Android a week ago, said something about compatible neural net patterns."
"I suppose Spiderman is out, he doesn't like this kind of pressure plus he works fine by himself." Steve suggested, "Maybe Logan or Namor could step in."
"No Logan runs a school, one which surprisingly has very few stab injuries, As for Namor he is trying to repair the damage that Attuma or Nekrod or whatever he was calling himself did to Atlantis so he's out. I still think we should go after Hawkeye and knock some sense into him, what he did to Grey Gargoyle was unforgivable but we both know that he is going to do something god damm stupid and end up having to be bailed out by my money and your charisma." Tony answered.
"I say leave Clint to follow his new path, maybe he will grow and realize what he did was wrong." Steve stated, "I guess we should look outside our usual selection groups since Carol is looking for Kl'rt in deep space after he burnt a Saudi oil field down and the Fantastic Four are helping Namor."
"But who? Sure there are heroic individuals out there but a lot of them don't operate as cleanly as us and while I can live with that SHIELD can't." Tony announced
"When did this become so bureaucratic?" Steve asked, "Back in the early days we just went out and beat the bad guys."
"Well we have grown up." Tony told him before crumbling his coffee cup up and throwing it at Steve only to see his compatriot catch it and throw it into the bin. "Speaking of that I have reservations to go to this new lobster restaurant in Maine, I was going to take Rhodey but then I remembered that he is allergic to shellfish not to mention he got attacked by a lobster in Corsica which mentally scared him for life."
"Tony as much as I want to leave we have to finish this." Steve told Tony as the later removed his Stark Resilient IMG Mk 2 phone and flicked through pictures on the screen.
"Well I'll move that to the Seattle opening next week. Hopefully it will be completed before the Thunderbolts wreck the place." Tony said not totally paying attention to Steve. "Okay so that doesn't float your boat, how about heading down to one of my riverside tech storage warehouses. A silent alarm was just triggered by…" He tapped the phone a few times, "Ah the Mauler and Madame Masque. And they say there is no surprises left in the world."
"You know what Hill said, we either chose an Avenger team or she shuts us down."
"Ah so it's a reason you need. Technically this is Stark business so Hill can do nothing to stop me and while I can take Doyle and Nefaria alone I'm bringing you along because I can't imagine anything you find more boring then sitting in this chamber doing nothing."
Steve smiled before getting to his feet, "I'll get my coat."