Avengers #3 - Skeletons
For more Marvel Mayhem check out the library
Last issue the Future Avengers were shot down by the new Frightful Five over Baton Rouge as they attempted to stop a deadly foe from the Avenger's past from being resurrected. Things were not going to well in the past either as Iron Man and Captain America fought Madame Masque and the Mauler only to have the pair of crooks escape but not before 'Masque' revealed a clue to the Star Spangled Patriot.
Baton Rouge, Louisiana - 25th August 2023
The graveyard in Baton Rouge had gone from a peaceful place of rest to a free fire zone as mortars and explosive pool balls crashed around the Avengers as they advanced up the field of mausoleums to where their attackers had set up a defensive line. The advance was made more complicated by the occasional strafing runs by the Dreadknight, his atomic steed spitting out waves of napalm to block the main paths forcing the Avengers to find alternative routes up to the large mausoleum decorated with the stylized A that was the team's logo quartered with the Williams Family Crest. Leading the charge Black Widow came to a halt at the last line of cover before looking at her opposition. The hulking armoured form of Prometheus stood in the centre firing wave after wave of explosives, his power armour occasionally firing sonic pulses through the ground to update his digital maps of the area. The others; Dreadknight, Diamondback and 8-Ball were all mounted on the Avengers Mausoleum with later on a deployable turret ripped off the back of the skeletal hover skiff that was anchored nearby.
"Omen is already inside." Natasha instructed the others, "Poseidon and I will get inside and attempt to disrupt the ritual. Everyone else keep the rest of the Frightful Five occupied long enough for us to shut down the resurrection spell."
"And if you fail what should we prepare for?" Power Man asked as the Dreadknight slung himself back over the saddle of his atomic steed.
"The Grim Reaper himself." Falcon said grimly, "Eric Williams was among the original Avenger's deadliest foes and he vowed that his death wouldn't be the end of his campaign against us."
"It's not going to come to that." Natasha snarled, "Poseidon do we have any idea how far Omen has got in the spell."
"Nephtys daughter is canny with her magic." Poseidon stated, "She has cloaked the area from magical sight making it near impossible to determine what kind of spell she is using. Even with my power her mystical fog hides her intent, if I were a lay sorcerer then I would say she was trying to complete a binding spell."
"Head's up." Monet yelled as Dreadknight flew past before signalling to Prometheus where his targets were hiding. "We need to move now before old metal head starts shelling us."
"Agreed." Natasha sighed, "Chen I need a wave of radiation to clear the path. Iron Man shoot down the Dreadknight on his next pass." Both Avengers nodded as the Dreadknight swung his atomic steed around and opened fire with the devices underslung 30mm cannon, the shells ripping up clods of turf in sprays of mud. Through the carnage Iron Man stepped forward and opened up a concealed compartment revealing a shoulder mounted laser array, the photonic core already charged up before the pilot fired, an invisible beam of UV energy ripping the bottom of the Dreadknight's mount causing the rider to bail before landing feet first in front of Prometheus. "Now Atomic Star." Natasha hissed as Dr Lu's hands begun to glow green with a rolling wave of radiation forcing its way forward seconds later, the powerful tide of energy knocking all but Prometheus off their feet as the Avengers seized the initiative.
"Omen heads up your about to have company." Prometheus buzzed as he opened fire with a shoulder mounted Gattling gun that caused most of the Avengers to scatter with Poseidon wading through the fire, his near invulnerable body sheltering the Black Widow behind him as they slipped past the guards and into the tomb as the other villains recovered, each one of them drawing their trade mark weapons ready to continue the fight. "We will deal with the rest."
"Deal with this." Powerman yelled as he ripped up a planter and threw it up at 8-Ball and Diamondback only to see his opponent whip out a pool cue and fire the ceramic urn back at him, the pot shattering on contact and showering with soil and compost.
"Bad luck Power Jerk." 8-Ball called down at him as he removed a pool ball, his hand glowing red around the projectile. "Let's see what this will do?" he added as he lobbed it down the range only for it to be blasted into ash by a focused beam of radiation as Atomic Star stepped forward.
"Games of Chance are not really my thing." Chen told 8-Ball as the villain pulled out another ball with the same glowing hand effect occurring.
"Well I'm a master of chance thanks to my probability warping abilities." 8-Ball sneered as he threw the ball before triggering its detonation prematurely, thick blue foam showering Atomic Star and draining his radioactive power away. With a roar Power Man charged forward as 8-Ball leapt down and slammed his cue into the Avengers stomach before propelling him back into a mausoleum, the structure collapsing on top of him and pinning him under the debris.
"Power Man." Yellow Jacket gasped as she flew around Diamondback's head firing bio-electric blasts down at the villainess face and arms.
"Take a cue from what my husband just did and buzz off." Diamondback hissed, her forked and pierced tongue flicking out as she raised one of her armour plated arms and opened fire with a wrist mounted sonic blaster, the force causing Yellow Jacket to scream and enlarge as her body convulsed on the floor. "What's that you want to know where I got this?" Diamondback mocked, "Speak up I can't here you."
"Second hand tech stolen from the Serpent Society is nothing to brag about Diamondback." Falcon stated as he fired a flurry of darts down at the blaster, the impact causing it to explode in a sound stripping buzz that neutralized the local noise. Shaking her head Diamondback threw a hail of throwing diamonds up at her attacker, the barbed projectiles easily evaded as Falcon looped round and out of the line of fire. "Is that the best you can do?" Falcon asked not realizing that Iron Man had shifted position at the same time that the Dreadknight had fired a pair of micro rockets from his lance, the projectiles locking on to the red winged Avenger rather then their original target. With a muted explosion the rockets detonated above Falcon, showering him with shrapnel that cut his turbine control leads and sending him plummeting to earth.
"You like the Serpent Society?" Diamondback asked as Dreadknight and Ironman traded laser blasts and Repulsor fire. "Then you are going to love my girls." she added as she stroked a brass serpent bracelet that ran up her left arm, the ruby eyes of the snakes lighting up as they dropped to the floor and split open to reveal a pair of fully grown armoured diamondback rattlesnakes. "Cleo, Tanya kill the little bird." The villainess ordered as she removed a foot long diamond edged knife. Save me the wings though, I plan to add them to our trophy room."
Ironman grunted as he was forced to land due to extensive damage from the Dreadknight's power lance. The Latvarian villain was know advancing his hands clutching the ebony blade he had stolen from the Black Knight, a powerful weapon even in the hands of a lay swordsman and devastating in those of a trained one such as the Dreadknight. "And now I end Stark's legacy." Dreadknight lamented, "Know that this is not personal Avenger, I would rather that you had stayed out of our work." he added as he unsheathed the Ebony Blade and swung it towards Iron Man's neck. With a quick flick Iron Man produced his own blade, a silver double handed katana, from within his armoured wrists and rose to meet the sword strike.
"Got news for you Bram." Iron Man grunted, "You would be lucky to take Me." he added parrying the blade and thrusting forward only for the Dreadknight to return the favour and block the Avenger's attack. "As for your sword well I have one to match it, this weapon was taken from the Silver Samurai and is strong enough to resist the power of your weapon."
"Ah so your blade is strong." Dreadknight stated, "But your armour is a liability when my team mate Prometheus is around." he informed the Avenger as the hulking armoured figure hovered over him and pulled him away from the Dreadknight, the Iron Man armour sparking and hissing in the suit's grip. "You could say that your control has just been overridden."
"Overide this." Lady M yelled before plunging her fist through Prometheus's chest plate only to be swatted away by the suit, the whole breast plate stuck around her arm following suit to reveal an empty set of power armour. "Where's the pilot?" Monet asked before feeling a cold familiar feeling behind her, turning just in time to see a man in a helmet and red jumpsuit lunge at her, a psychic shield hastily formed to keep the feral figure away, the mouths in his palms snapping at the smell of mutant bone marrow. With a snarl Overrider attacked again this time scaling the psychic shield, his palm mouths aiding his climb up and over to land on Monet feet first, knocking her to the ground.
"Don't worry Avenger." Overrider snarled, "I don't plan to feed on you, I have resisted the hunger for ten years thanks to my friends and the Haunt's magic. No I have a worse fate for you." He added as an organic bladed wire snaked out of his palm mouths and dug into Monet's skin, the tips snapping off as she threw him away. In seconds she had regained the advantage and went straight for a face punch only for her blood to start boiling and her body to stall. "No my puppet, you will not harm me or the others not while I have overridden your systems." Overrider ordered her, "Now Iron Man, Lady M deal with the Avengers." he snarled as he climbed back inside the Prometheus suit. Behind him an explosion rocked the Mausoleum showering the members of the Frightful Five and the Avengers with masonry as the later recovered and reassembled. "8-Ball take the others and help Omen." Prometheus ordered, "Me and my 'friends' will deal with the Avengers." He added as Iron Man and Lady M lined up next to him and got ready to face their former team mates.
SHIELD Helicarrier, Somewhere over New York - 21st March 2013
Maria Hill barley reacted as Captain America and Iron Man entered her office on the SHIELD Helicarrier, their anger and mistrust was to be expected as was their brash behaviour. "So have you come to a decision?" she asked trying to deflect the conversation in another direction.
"Don't play dumb Hill." Iron Man snapped, "We just had Madame Masque and the Mauler escape from us with a piece of Stark tech. Now I don't believe for one second that you didn't have anything to do with that."
"I don't, that operation is run by Parker Robbins, you may remember him, well it looks like he is trying to reconsolidate his criminal empire, this time with better operatives." Maria told them as she shuffled the papers on her desk, "My mole is keeping a tab on his 'gang' and sending me the data required for arrests later down the line."
"And how long have you had Natasha sitting in on the Hood's criminal activities." Steve asked, "You forget Hill that she has loyalty to the Avengers as well as SHIELD. Also why did you have the Falcon stationed as a security guard in Tony's warehouse?"
"Falcon?" Tony spat, "I knew that guy looked familiar."
"He was there to report on any breaches in the Widow's cover." Hill answered, "We were lucky that the Mauler didn't notice. But since he didn't I'm choosing to give you details of operation Skeleton."
"Operation Skeleton." Tony sighed, "That sound's dramatic."
"It is." Hill told him, "It's also why I asked you to hurry up and form an Avenger's team to deal with the outcome if SHIELD can't contain the end result that the Hood is looking for."
"And that is Director Hill?" Steve asked as Maria brought up the mug shots for nine of SHIELD's most wanted.
"The Hood has hired Madame Masque, the Mauler, Constrictor, Living Laser, Whirlwind, Flying Tiger, Warrior Woman and the Absorbing Man as security for a ritual he is performing in a Boston cemetery tonight. The tech he has had them steal is designed to shepherd the right demon to his side and then transport it past the security spells placed to stop it from escaping past the grounds and into the outside world." Maria explained, "The Avengers were meant to stop that from happening but now we have virtually run out of time."
"That is a lot of power to protect the summoning of one demon." Tony observed, "Who is the guy they are trying to bring back Satan?"
"In a way yes." Maria answered, "The Hood is trying to summon up his son Blackheart. The question I want to know is why? Under the power of Dormammu he shouldn't even have been tempted to summon up a rival to his own patron's power."
"Then someone is pulling his strings." Steve suggested, "That's why you needed Widow on the inside to find out who has the power and ambition for Dormammu to risk such a move."
"But so far we have nothing." Hill announced, "We need the Avengers and we need them now."
"Well that will be a problem, the first assemble always takes time." Tony said sarcastically, "If you had been straight then maybe we would be ready."
"We still have some favours." Steve stated as he ignored Stark's snarky comments, "We are going to stop the Hood from completing his ritual come hell or high water."
"Yeah with Hell being the literal kind rather then an inspiring metaphor." Tony added sarcastically. "Alright sending the call, let's just hope somebody answers. Avengers Assemble."