Marvel Mayhem: X-Men/Thunderbolts #3 - Facsimiles
Last Issue the X-Men made a surprise visit to the Living Fortress and the facilities guardians the Thunderbolts. Potential bloodshed was avoided by a sneaky blackmail scheme thought up by Strikeback even as Zargot met a new alley in the bowels of the base. On the other side of the States, Nightcrawler returned and was soon hot on the trail of his allies in the hopes of helping end the threat of a Skrull Invasion
Labyrinth Super Max Facility, 1km under the Living Fortress, Seattle
“He’s incarcerated in here.” Melissa stated as she placed her hand on the palm scanner and felt the slight tingle of an optical laser running across her flesh before watching the reinforced wooden door slip open to reveal the Confessor implanted in the wall, vines pumping an IV solution into his body. With a slight touch the vines retreated and the Confessor was released by the Fortress, his body slipping gently to the floor. “He should be alert and active in a minute.” She added turning to the bat eared Skrull that stood behind her.
“Good.” Zargot hissed, “As soon as he is awake we will leave this rotten husk of a city.”
“No.” Melissa answered flatly as her skin turned green and elfin ears elongated into bat like fans. “You may be the ranking military officer but all you brought to the fight was a vengeful fist and a cunning mind. I have worked for eight years to ready a strike force long forgotten by my mother in pursuit for peace.”
“And you princess should watch your tongue lest you forget what I was incarcerated for.” Zargot snarled menacingly, “What possible use could this city of corpses possibly have?”
“This citadel has wormed its way into every computer system on Earth.” Pagon explained as the Confessor groaned and shifted on the floor, his human features replacing with his true Skrull genetics. “Years ago when I had just started my deception my employer Baron Zemo stole the data created by a group of human scientists know as the Enclave. He even beta tested the software for us and with the advances made when paired with our own technology every military system around the world will fall into out hands.”
“So you expect a bloodless coup?” Zargot snorted, “What of the various super human assets the planet possess? And just how do you plan to deal with them Princess?”
“Maybe I can answer that my comrades.” The Confessor croaked as he got to his feet, “Lady Pagon had me sink several hidden facilities in areas with little to no super human traffic. Inside each is an elite task force full of next generation Super Skrull warriors all hooked up to a central control node hidden within my body. As long as I live they live no matter what punishment they take.”
“And I took the liberty to order my engineers to retrofit the Staff of Veranke hidden in Earth’s debris field to possess the firepower of a full cruiser despite only being a corvette and use technology stolen from the science cartel AIM to bolster her gunboats to aid in ground attacks. These assets are under your control General but remember who was responsible for your exile after your assassination attempt. We are both powerful but only one of us can sit on my mothers corpse when her days come to an end.” Pagon threatened before shifting her form into that of a beautiful blonde woman and walking over to the next cell along from where the Confessor had been held.
“You wish to use this facility yet you waste your time with threats and shallow facades.” Zargot growled, “There is a risk of us being captured before you can deploy your wonder weapon.”
”Which is why I take this form.” Pagon answered before turning to the figure held within. “My love you must awaken!”
“Wha…angel is that you?” The man inside moaned.
“Yes but the Thunderbolts are after me.” Pagon stammered as a pair of red eyes stared out of the darkness at her. “They plan to kill me; you must fulfil your sacred duty and protect me.”
“The Thunderbolts will pay for their sins.” The man inside growled something under his breath before merging with the shadows inside the cell to carry out his holy duties. Pagon smiled before her form shifted again to become a hideous monstrosity wrapped in bandages, a gaping hole in her chest as the Confessor opened the third cell. “My child.” Pagon croaked as something large shifted in the cell now free of its bonds, “Lord Emplate has a task for you. There are mutants in this building for you to feed on. But they must be killed they are too dangerous to be left alive.”
“Feed.” The creature inside roared before springing out and sprinting down the corridor as the image of Murmur was replaced with Songbird’s new Gothic features.
“Those monsters will buy us time.” Pagon croaked, “Now to cripple the planet’s military.” She added glaring at Zargot, “This world will soon be the property of the Skrull Empire.”
Xavier Institute for Gifted Youngsters, Westchester
With a puff of indigo smoke Nightcrawler appeared on the front lawn of the Xavier Institute and stepped over the line of disturbed earth running across the grass. It was clear from the mild structural damage that something had happened while he had been away but considering that over sixty percent of the live in population could easily level the manor he wasn't going to write it off as an attack just yet. In another puff of smoke he vanished and teleported up to the breach in the wall noting that it had been smashed open from the inside before disappearing again and re-emerging in Scott’s office. As he arrived he saw five female students in their late teens crowded round the table whilst at it’s head a man dressed in a trench coat and jeans reclined on a chair, his feet on the table.
“Ha Four of a Kind Mon chère.” The man stated, “You know the deal Armour.” He added before taking the deck and reshuffling the cards. “Kurt Mon ami, I’ll deal you in if you like?”
“Afternoon Gambit, I have two questions why are you here and where are the others?” Nightcrawler asked as he diverted his eyes away from Armour as she slipped off her top.
“Hey when the cat is away les souris will play.” Gambit answered as he sent a kinetic charge through the deck of cards causing them to fly off into six piles. “Someone had to baby-sit these vulnerable young women no?”
“Perhaps I should tell ‘the cat’ about the games his mice play?” Nightcrawler replied. “Now for the love of god let the students put there clothes back on and behave like an adult.”
“For you Mon ami I shall.” Gambit announced, “There was some kind of disturbance that led Scott and the others away from the mansion. They were chasing after some kind of extraterrestrial intruder at least that’s what I heard while I was teaching these students.” He added with a grin.
“Mr Wagner I remember Ms Monroe saying that they were following a lead on the Don of the Dead and an illegal foundry he was running using mutant laborers for the Brazilian Government.” Armour chirped as she picked up her top from the floor.
“Where is this foundry?” Kurt asked locking onto Armour’s sparkling blue eyes and her cosmetic covered lips that glowed a pale green in the evening sunshine that shone through the windows.
“Just outside Sao Gabriel Da Cachoeria.” Armour replied as she looked back at Kurt. “From what I overheard Mr. Logan say he has hired a team of AGM mercenaries and Right Armoured Enforcers as security just encase the X-Men showed up.”
“I’ll make sure that they get out safely.” Kurt reassured her as her eyes appeared to darken to a light hazel; something he assumed was a trick of the light as he grabbed Gambit’s deck of cards. “Until I get back these are confiscated.”
“Then what am I meant to do for fun?” Gambit asked as he covertly pulled a second deck of cards out of his coat.
“Well for starters there is a hole in the west wall.” Kurt told him before disappearing in a puff of indigo smoke.
Market Mile, Living Fortress, Seattle
The main street within the Living Fortress was still abandoned save for a few stall holders and hungry security personnel. Apparently the X-Men had missed the busy morning rush hour where hawkers traded a wide range of fruits and vegetables grown in the Fortress’s roof top gardens for whatever people wanted. Some were packing up shop, satisfied that there would be no afternoon rush today.
“So you just let anyone come into your base?” Logan snarled at Abe as the mixed bag of mutants and former criminals walked towards the entry of Neon Street and the entrance shaft to the Labyrinth below.
“This facility is a community resource first.” Abe answered as she updated her internal map data. “Eighty percent of the Fortress is open to the public. The only areas with restricted access are the Thunderbolt and Seattle Internal Security Command Center, the Labyrinth and our personal quarters. Since the Living Fortress warps the dimensions of the Green there is enough room for everyone.”
“This place is fascinating!” Hank stated as he looked up at the ceiling and the leaves that hung across the edges connected to four large solar energy collectors that ran down into the floor. “A collaboration of technology and nature working in harmony.”
“Well I did create this place as a tribute to my team-mates and the Green.” Blackheath stated smugly.
“Well it smells strange, like somebody was messing with things they don’t understand.” Wolverine snarled as he they passed an imprinted shadow on the wall. “All these plants weren't meant to be found in the same place at the same time.” He added as Kitty stopped and put her hand on the patch of darkness before asking. “And what’s this meant to be?”
“That’s not part of the Fortress.” Blackheath announced, “I would step back if I were you.” He added as a solid black hand grabbed Kitty by the neck and begun to drag her into the shadows. With a snarl Wolverine leapt the twelve foot distance and stabbed his claws into the darkness only to see the humanoid shape disappear.
“What’s this a setup?” He snarled before turning towards Abe and Victoria, the latter responding as her ‘jewelry’ spread up her body, the Symbiote acting aggressively to Logan’s accusations.
“That!” Meteorite spat, “Is Smuggler, a bad guy with a grudge against the Thunderbolts. He is one of three criminals that were incarcerated in the Labyrinth.”
“If he’s lose then it’s a good bet Hard Shell and the Confessor are out of their cells too.” Radioactive Man grunted as he sent a low level microwave pulse across the floor, the ionized energy sparking around Stickleback’s shadow and causing it to scream in pain before dissipating.
“So this guy hides in shadows and jumps out at you?” Storm asked as she summoned up a frost that coated the walls of the chamber. “And this Hard Shell what does she do?”
She added as a gout of flame ignited a hole in the floor and a woman possessing a monstrous mix of reptilian and insect features leaped out and slammed into Colossus knocking him to the floor.
"Boize Moi!" Colossus yelped as Hard Shell pounced on to his chest and uttered a long low reptilian snarl.
“Stop her before she enthralls him.” Strikeback yelled at Cyclops even as she formed a shoulder mounted mortar from her cybernetics, the weapon refusing to fire even as it locked on.
“Little Sister can’t hurt me.” Hard Shell hissed as long shadowy arms grabbed Cyclops from the floor just as he fired an optic blast, the shot going wide and carving out a section of the roof. Springing into action Meteorite reached out and ripped the kinetic energy out of the masonry before accelerating up and slamming into each piece before redirecting her flight to terminate into Hard Shell, the force sending both of the Meta-Humans tumbling to the lower floor.
“Sister?” Shadowcat asked as she turned intangible just as Smuggler jumped out of her shadow. “You two are related?” She asked as she became solid and elbowed Conrad behind only to see him slip under her blow and into Orka’s shadow.
“It’s a long story.” Orka grunted as he heaved Colossus to his feet just as Blackheath fell to his knees screaming. “Hey Sam what’s wrong?” he yelled as Hard Shell shot a jet of flame up at Wolverine, the fire charring his skin before being extinguished by a summoned rain storm, the clouds drenching the inside of the hall.
“Someone…is…sending…bio-digital…signals.” Blackheath wheezed as Colossus took a swipe at Smuggler only for his foe to dodge the blow and his fist to accidentally smack Radioactive Man in the face. “Erecting…palisades…in the…network…to slow…argh!” He screamed before getting to his feet, “I must stop the upload before the bio modem signal is sent.”
“Bio Modem, huh looks like your past is coming back to bite you.” Wolverine snorted as he stabbed his claws into Hard Shell’s chest only to get an open handed slap to the face, the proto teeth in her hand biting into his skull before an optical blast lanced through the arm followed by wave of symbiote tipped darts that ripped through the fingers. “Didn't you try and take over the world with that thing?” He asked Strikeback.
“Which is why we need to move to contain it now!” Abe replied, “Sam I need you to create a cheater’s gate directly to the Labyrinth.” She commanded as Smuggler vaulted over a radiation blast and into Cyclops, the force knocking him into his own shadow and emerge out of Wolverines as Hard Shell advanced on the pair, drool hanging from all three of her mouths.
“Kitty go with him, I don’t trust these Thunderbolts not to screw us over!” Cyclops yelled as he blasted Hard Shell with a close range optic blast.
“First we need to stop Smuggler; he could easily intercept them in the dark force dimension.” Meteorite bellowed as both she and Storm fired at Smuggler as he sank into Beast’s shadow, the later electrifying the villain as he reemerged across the room his body sparking with discharged energy “Orka time for a Fast Ball Special; T-Bolts style.” She added as she reached out and ripped waves of potential energy from the walls of the Fortress before pouring them onto Colossus, the steel coated mutant buckling under the pressure. With a roar Orka charged across the room before grabbing Piotr and threw him underhanded at Smuggler, the increased energy accelerating Colossus beyond terminal velocity until he hit both Conrad and the wall, the later shattering into pieces and the former sliding to the floor into his own shadow before vanishing back into the Darkforce Dimension.
"Never knew you guys know that move," Wolverine muttered as Arke flew in between him and Hard Shell, a contrail of rainbow coloured light creating a temporary barrier between the two.
“There he’s down now go!” Cyclops yelled as Blackheath strained to open a hole in the floor before collapsing inside followed by Shadow Cat. “One down.” He lamented as Hard Case snorted fire across the room to form a wall of flame between her and her prey. “How did you take this mockery of a mutant down last time?”
“Massive Freon Explosion at the cost of a friend’s life.” Chen grunted as he pushed Arke back away from the fire. “Unfortunately Donnie isn’t here to pull off that trick this time.”
“Maybe not but we could still repeat the feat.” Strikeback answered, “Dr McCoy I need you to trigger a security melt down of my hardware and then throw me at Hard Shell. The gas in the coolant discharge acts almost like a sedative to Hard Shell.”
“You plan will cause your software, your brain functions to crash!” Beast gasped, “You plan to commit suicide to beat that thing?”
“I’ve got back ups stored in the Green’s Neural Network.” Strikeback replied, “All we need is a little time. Now can you do it?”
“I…I can but normally I’d advise against this kind of procedure.” Hank stammered as Abe’s left arm opened up to reveal bundles of cybernetic cable wrapped around her arm bones.
“You heard the lady.” Wolverine snarled, “Let’s give Hank all the time he needs.”
Blackheath and Shadowcat slid out of the green tube into a room carved from the Living Fortress’s main tap root, electricity running up the structure as three figures urgently watched the upload bar crawl to full completion.
“Skrulls!” Kitty growled causing the three figures to look up, “Zargot, the Confessor and…oh my god is that Songbird?” She gasped.
“My name is Pagon, remember that mutant as soon this world will be under my rule.” Pagon purred.
“Not if we stop your upload.” Blackheath groaned as the Confessor stepped forward, twin pistols already un-holstered from his belt. With a reptilian hiss he opened fire directly at the pair of heroes just as Kitty went intangible, the fire rushing over Blackheath and incinerating him.
“Upload complete.” Zargot purred, “It’s time to leave.” He added, “Staff of Veranke commence operations on target Alpha.” He added as both he and Pagon faded away leaving the Confessor standing over where Blackheath had once been.
“Genetic Abnormality you may hide through your gifts but this,” He stated pulling out a rugby ball sized bomb, “this was designed to rip the molecular structure of intangible Kree Infiltrators. It will suffice to slay you.” He added placing the bomb and setting the timer to fifteen seconds. “Dosvedanya or not in this case.” He finished before teleporting away after the others as the timer counted down towards zero.