Marvel Mayhem: X-Men/Thunderbolts #5 – Faces We Once Knew
All Characters are owned by Marvel Comics
Last Issue despite saving the Living Fortress the X-Men and Thunderbolts quickly found themselves in the line of fire as the Skrull’s took the fight to the Seattle streets. With death raining down from the sky as gunships drop off ground troops it looks as if once again Seattle is about to become a free fire zone. Meanwhile in Brazil Gambit and Nightcrawler were able to pacify the Don of the Dead and rescue the prisoners only to be attacked by Sauron and Whirlwind. Desperate to find their friends the pair along with allies Scalphunter, Andrea Von Strucker and Noche picked up on the tail that leads to the war-torn streets of Seattle.
"This is Azure Lead we are under attack; I repeat we are under attack by an unknown force!" The woman in the Mattock uniform yelled down the radio as a platoon of Skrull infantry advanced down the ridge safely behind the energy bucklers held by the leading edge of the enemy forces. "Crud Gunship incoming." She added as a massive insect winged ship emerged from a pile of debris, the ball mounted canon opening fire, bursts of plasma ripping through a large percentage of the troops trying to hold back the ground troops. "We need reinforcements!" She screamed as she unholstered her pistol and emptied into Skrull forces just as the Gunship orientated itself to fire on her position.
"Reinforcements are here." A voice announced from the opposite ridge as a red laser lanced through the gunship's cockpit sending it spiraling into the ground before catching alight. Skidding down the ridge the remaining Mattock troops watched as the united forces of the X-Men and the Thunderbolts slammed into the Skrulls. In a few seconds the Skrull Column was beginning to disintegrate with the flashes of energy pistols and shorting out energy shields before all the aliens were lying dead or broken on the floor.
"Captain," Radioactive Man called as he walked over to Azure Lead. "Where are the rest of Mattock and Seattle Internal Security?"
"Most are on the perimeter to keep the contaminated population within the city limits now the energy dome has been forced offline." Azure announced. "I disagreed, took some old weapons and lead any who agreed with me to meet the Skrulls in combat. Chances are if we survive we'll be court martialed but it would be worth it."
"Can the security forces really be that stupid?" Storm asked. "Securing the perimeter rather than saving civilians. It's a sign of how selfish humanity is."
"We're not all like that." Meteorite hissed as the debris rumbled and Skrull snipers popped over the ridge and opened fire, hard light beams lancing out and disintegrating all the remaining troops save for Azure until Orka and Colossus pulled up a slab on concrete together to erect a defensive shield between them and the shooters.
"As much as we need to take out the foot soldiers." Wolverine growled. "We need to deal with their leadership more."
"But where are they?" Beast stated. "Do you have their scent?"
"No." Wolverine sighed as Orka sat on the ground and closed his eyes. "What is the fish doing?"
"Meditating." Orka muttered. "Songbird or Pagon, whatever she's calling herself isn't the only one with sonic powers. Of course mine are passive but by focusing I can track high frequency sound such as the ones created by the Vibranium fuel cell in Melissa's sonic carapace. She is somewhere above us, high above us shielded by the noise of technology."
"You mean the capital ship leading the assault." Azure answered. "We tried to shoot it down with some old manual operated AA guns but the ship is shielded." She added as the sound of tumbling debris sounded and a squad of Skrulls came sprinting across the space to the barricade. Reaching the barricade the Skrull bolted a series of discs to the concrete before activating the devices, the barrier disintegrating in a haze of green smoke to reveal the surprise of the people behind them. Seconds later the sappers were dead, charred by energy discharge or ripped apart as more Skrull infantry appeared on the ridges around them, weapons trained on the Earth Heroes.
"This ain't good." Wolverine snarled. "What are they waiting for?" He added as a pair of shuttles hovered low over the battlefield before deploying twelve matte black canisters into the hillside and basin around them. The nearest landed within touching distance, the metal radiating cold mist that crept ominously across the ground.
"There is something inside." Radioactive Man announced calmly as Arke and Colossus flanked the canister. "Something not human." He added as the Shuttle's departed. "They all do." Looking at the canister Colossus gestured for Shadowcat to walk forward and look inside, the young woman putting her head inside before screaming as the door was explosively ejected away with her stuck in the metal, the inside of the pod glowing red as a green skinned woman stepped out.
Clad in a red bustier, green hair glowing as if caught by an imaginary wind was a Skrull seemingly unaware of the two figures flanking her. With a roar Colossus took a swipe at her only for a green aura to so round him and send him flying. His scream was drowned out by Arke's inhuman hiss as she stabbed claws into the Skrull's arm only to see her victim turn and begin to vibrate, the movement sending the Symbiote slithering away to safety leaving Victoria naked in front of the Skrull. With a gasp she leapt for cover just as a wave of metal shrapnel flew towards her.
"X-Men engage!" Cyclops ordered as Meteorite darted over to Victoria just as the next canister begun to activate, thick green gas leaking out of the case.
"What are these things?" Shadowcat asked as she tried to pull herself free from the metal door just as Beast slipped on some debris.
"A Super Skrull." Victoria gasped as the Arke symbiote slithered towards her. "If only Strikeback was here she could have analyzed the energy surge."
"No need we've seen this kind of thing before." Colossus grumbled as a second Super Skrull emerged, one hand glowing purple whilst the other shone like steel before breathing out a wave of thick toxic gas. "It somehow has the Scarlet Witch's probability warping powers not to mention Quicksilver's speed and Polaris's magnetic abilities."
"But for all there power they are just mortals." Storm announced as she blew back the toxic gas. "That one has the U-Foes abilities." She stated as she summoned up blasts of lightning that ignited the Super Skrulls reducing them to charred remains.
"Now those are real Thunderbolts." Meteorite stated as she nudged Beast. "Wait there's another one opening up other there." She added as a third canister opened to reveal a Skrull carrying a scythe in one hand and a sword in the other, its arms studded with diamonds.
"I will deal with this Svoloch." Colossus hissed as he ran at the Skrull, the alien readying its weapons only to see a green aura surround the X-Man and hold him in place. Stepping forward the Skrull lashed out with its sword, the tip carving a long slash across his chest. With a yell Cyclops opened fire, an optical laser cutting through the Skrull's neck, the beam decapitating the creature.
"Over there." Orka yelled as he spotted one of the charred corpses containing Colossus in a magnetic field. Snarling and spitting Wolverine lunged and sunk his claws into the Skrull, the energy field dissipating as it died. "Okay what kind of voodoo is this?"
"Not voodoo." Radioactive Man stated as he pumped radiation into the other Skrull corpse causing it to explode violently. "I can detect cybernetic pulses in the bodies feeding data to an airborne source."
"Which leads us back to the capital ship?" Meteorite announced as two more pods opened up. "Which we can't bring down due to its shields."
"We had plans to field testing a weapon that bypassed physical defenses" Azure told her as the decapitated Skrull got to it's feet and staggered towards her as she fired five rounds into it's chest before Orka thundered in and shoulder barged the creature away. Turning he saw a figure that smelled like nitroglycerine walk towards him before delivering a punch to his stomach, the force exploding outwards with enough energy to send him flying across the field. Looking up he saw a gunship swoop in low and fire a salvo of rockets into the area that exploded into electrostatic energy that caused all the X-Men and Thunderbolts to scream in pain.
"Humans your fight is admirable but is not welcome." Pagon's voice announced from the gunship’s loud speakers. "There was to be a place in my order for people such as you but it is too much trouble to keep you alive. As of now all Skrull ground forces are ordered to terminate you." She added as the gunship departed. With a simultaneous whine the Skrulls charged up their weapons as the Super Skrull stepped out of the line of fire. As they got ready to fire a puff of indigo smoke emerged on the west bank as seconds later the Skrull forces found themselves engaged. Distracted by the flanking maneuver the Skrulls forgot about the X-Men and Thunderbolts giving the heroes time to rally.
"Who? Who is that?" Victoria spluttered as the Arke Symbiote clambered up her body to form a silver amour across her body.
"Looks like the elf finally showed up." Wolverine snorted as the entire ridge exploded in purple and golden energy that swallowed up the charging Super Skrull in a tide of debris as Nightcrawler and his allies vanished in a puff of indigo smoke.
"Cavalry is here Mon Ami." Gambit stated as Nightcrawler reemerged. "And just in time it appears."
"Kurt." Shadow cat gasped as she ran forwards and hugged him. "You're back!"
"Looks like it." Cyclops stated happily before scowling at Scalphunter and Strucker. "Although I do disprove of your allies."
"If you don't want our help we can go get some coffee." Scalphunter grunted.
"We can't turn down help." Victoria stated angrily, "If you aid us you will be able to walk away as free agents. Especially considering..." She added waving towards the quaking debris piles as the Super Skrulls dug themselves free.
"Everyone go." Radioactive Man ordered, the level of emotion in his voice surprising everyone. "I will teach these intruders to stay dead. Now go!!!" He stated his words causing the very ground to shake. Gathering everyone together Nightcrawler teleported to the top of the ridge as Chen began to steam and smoke, thick radioactive clouds surrounding him as the Super Skrulls advanced menacingly. "Now here's one for you. Get the hell out!" He boomed before exploding outwards, waves of radiation washed over the Skrulls vaporizing them into a mass of quivering body prices.
"Do you think he can do that again?" Colossus asked.
"Why?" Scalphunter asked before looking at where the big Russian was pointing. Dropping through the clouds came the Staff of Veranke, the ship already charging up its mass accelerator canon ready to decimate the entire area flanked by a swarm of gunships carrying battle ready squads of infantry.
"You won't need it." A voice came arching over the team radio. "Just keep watching the skies." Turning the group watched as the Mass Accelerator de-powered and several of the gunships begun to drop out of the sky.
"I've seen that before in Brazil." Gambit gasped, "One of the AGM guys said something about a Bio-Modem."
"That's correct." The voice announced over the radio. "By accessing my memories in the Green's network I was able to find and redistribute the dampening field onto all unshielded Skrull technology. However as we speak all remaining ground troops are converging on the Living Fortress, I could use a hand until I can access my own."
"Strikeback must have started the reboot process remotely." Victoria stated blankly.
"No when we were at your facility to drop off Noche there was a man there accessing systems. Said he was there to help." Nightcrawler announced as Wolverine sniffed the air and snarled before pushing Kitty into the ground as a grenade flew over the remains of the ridge and exploded.
“Go I'll deal with this guy." He snarled as the Confessor walked over the ridge. Nodding the rest of the group ran towards the Living Fortress. With a smile Wolverine watched as the Confessor drew his sword before leaping into the fray, his sword meeting Logan's claws only to shatter on impact.
"What? How?" The Confessor gasped as he kicked Logan away and removed a carbine rifle and firing it just as Wolverine leapt at him, the blast disintegrating the flesh off of Wolverine's bones. "You're alone and that makes you easy prey although I'm disappointed that this Chatauri Quantum Deconstruction Canon was unable to finish you off."
"Got a confession for you bub." Logan wheezed. "I ain't alone." He added as Shadowcat leapt out of the ground and knocked the canon away before punching the Confessor in the face. "That was for Black...argh." she screamed as sonic energy radiated out of the Skrull's body causing her to spasm on the floor. Silently the Confessor drew a knife before tossing it away and summoned an energy blade around his fist.
"Time to...what is that?" He asked as a bluebell pushed itself out of the soil just as he collapsed to the floor, his mouth frothing as he fell unconscious.
"Thank you for the concern Ms Pryde." The bluebell stated, "But my demise has been misinterpreted. As long as the Green retains some power I can always return. It was I who awakened Strikeback and took the test subject from your friends. But right now you need to divert the team to CampFalx, the weapon Mattock has is about to be taken. You must hurry now!” As if on cue the ground cracked and vines snaked out dragging the pair of mutants under for a few seconds before they breached the surface along with the rest of the X-Men and Thunderbolts, low squat burning buildings surrounding them.
“CampFalx?” Orka asked, “How did we get here?”
“Welcome to our world.” Beast groaned, “By my stars and garters this place looked like it was ripped apart. Azure where did you say the weapon was?”
“In the warehouse, the one with a gapping hole in it.” Azure answered as she took a deep breath. “The Skrulls slaughtered everyone here, they will pay for that.”
“Giving the space goblins credit for our work huh.” A British accented voice snorted. “To shame with you.” He added as Zaran the Weapons Master trotted out of the storage room armed with a pair of machine pistols. “The boss wants that ship and these babies will get it for him.” He added gesturing to the pair of foot wide domes that Unicorn was carrying as he stepped out followed by Gauntlet and Whiplash.
“You know what spot wants?” Unicorn muttered as he pointed at Cyclops. “Those groovy glasses worn by Mr. Shades over there.”
“Give it up Zaran, the Masters are outnumbered and outgunned.” Radioactive Man stated coldly. “Give us the weapon and start talking; first question is who hired you.”
“I can answer that.” Meteorite purred as she walked over to Zaran before shaking her hair, the dark roots turning corn silk blonde and her skin lightning. “These men are my Masters of Evil.”
“Moonstone!” Chen spat, “So you were a spy all along.”
“I was and I would watch your tone Doctor. The gravatonic cores in this device can rip you apart in seconds.” Moonstone stated. “Let me demonstrate.” She added as she powered up the domes, yellow energy spreading across the surface.
“Stop it!” Azure yelled. “Stop it now Karla or you will regret it.”
“Well well well looks like soldier girl is my first target.” Moonstone purred before gasping in surprise as pink orbs of energy rotated around the domes and pushed Karla onto her back. “You?!” She growled as Azure removed her helmet to reveal long flowing white hair streaked with pink. “But you’re…”
“A Skrull?” Songbird stated, “I was rescued a few years back and with the help of those who saved me got ready for this day. And even though you never threatened me I kept a close eye on my duplicate and your treatment of her.” Melissa continued as she levitated the orbs over and dropped them in Storm’s hands. “Now bring down the sky.” She ordered as electricity charged through the domes and the sky went from a hellish red fire-storm to a dark funnel cloud as the Staff of Veranke bucked and twisted, life pods jettisoning from the ship only to be caught by the gravity waves and slammed back into the corvette’s hull as the entire vessel fractured and plummeted down towards the Living Fortress.
“You will pay for this Gold.” Karla snarled as the other Masters stood stoically behind her. “And pay dearly.” She added as the group teleported away as Storm vaporized the gravity domes with a quick lightning strike.
“Melissa that was wonderful.” Chen stated reaching out to embrace Songbird only to feel a sonic fist strike him in the stomach, the blow sending him reeling as Melissa took to the air. “We are not friends; next time we meet it may be as enemies, remember that or embrace your doom.”
“Nice people you hang around with.” Beast whispered to Orka. “Do you all try and kill each other on a regular basis?”
“Abe will once we tell him this.” Orka moaned. “Is it too late to get Skrullbird back?”
Pagon groaned as she stepped out of the wreckage that had until forty seconds ago been the Staff of Veranke’s bridge. She ached as she slipped down into the upper chambers of the Living Fortress heading for anyway that would lead her out of Seattle. Wincing as she walked she missed the cybernetic woman leaning against one of the door ways until her stalker spoke.
“So limping away from your own conquest.” Strikeback stated as Pagon shifted form into that of Songbird and turned to face her. “Not good for morale.”
“You will burn, your entire planet will burn and only I could have saved you all!” Pagon hissed. “And now you seek to stop me from withdrawing.”
“Nope.” Strikeback replied, “I can’t see the woman I love in jail, that’s why I’m letting you go.” Pagon winced before turning and staggering off. “On one request,” Abe continued, “that I can have one last kiss goodbye.”
“Human emotions,” Pagon snarled as Abe put her hand on the Skrull’s shoulder, “they will be your downfall.” She added as she turned and kissed Abe only to feel something stab into her shoulder before recoiling away, her body aching as her body changed once again, her hair darkening while her skin flashed green before tanning to more human hues of olive brown. “What did you do?” Pagon screeched as she tried to access her powers only to find them gone.
“Welcome to the human race.” Abe told her, a machine gun sprouting from her shoulder. “You have till I turn around to get out of my line of sight.” She added as Pagon looked at her feet before running as fast as she could.
“You shouldn’t have let her go.” Blackheath’s voice stated from the walls.
“She won’t get far.” Abe stated as he turned and saw a blot of darkness slip after Pagon. “Not far at all.”
“So this portal should lead us straight to Emma’s school?” Cyclops asked as the X-Men stood around a swirling maelstrom carved in the soil.
“Or within close proximity.” Blackheath stated, “It is locked onto the woodland around the building rather then any man made structures.”
“Good enough.” Cyclops sighed. “Hank hurry up before we leave without you.” He stated as Beast walked in followed by the Radioactive Man.
“We must talk again Doctor Chen.” Beast said shaking the Thunderbolt’s hand. “Your theories on dimensional rifts are quirky but intriguing.”
“So what did you two do with all the Skrull POWs?” Orka asked as Beast rejoined the others.
“We took them out to Colorado where I contacted a friend who works for SWORD to come and collect them.” Beast explained. “They will all be well cared for during their incarceration although Agent Brand was worried that we failed to catch two of the Skrull leadership as well as letting Scalphunter and Noche escape.”
“It was part of the deal.” Gambit told him. “I can’t see Greyclrow being a problem for a while. His boss will most likely keep him busy just as all the former prisoners will keep SHIELD’s logistics teams on their toes for a few weeks.”
“The real Confessor will be stored here until a court date can be arranged.” Strikeback sighed. “Unfortunately for him SHIELD has decided to charge him with all of his doppelgangers crimes.”
“I still want to know what happened to the Skrull who was helping Krunn.” Shadowcat chirped. “Does anyone else feel that he’s going to be back?”
“When he is we’ll call you.” Blackheath told her as the X-Men stepped into the vortex, the soil closing up over them as they left. “Do you think we should have told them about the sightings in the sewers?”
“No.” Abe answered, “It’s Thunderbolts business, we will catch him and find out what he knows about the Masters of Evil and the force behind them. My gut says Karla isn’t the ring leader for the group, someone else is pulling their strings.”
Zargot groaned as he pulled himself along the sewer floor a gunshot wound in his chest causing a thick bloody smear to revel his trail, the slow sadistic sound of boot steps echoing around the tunnel along with the sounds of snarling. With a cough he stopped, his arms aching from the slow pursuit, it was time to face his doom like a warrior not a mewling coward.
“Relax.” A voice echoed around the tunnel as two half humanoid fish creatures emerged. “Piranha was only brought in to track you; she won’t harm you unless I give the order. My name is Flag Smasher alien and I need your help.”
“I won’t help you human.” Zargot groaned as the figure in white pushed past the two Piranha spawn, a mace tapping against his side. “I still have a warrior’s pride.” He added before Flag Smasher swung the mace into the Skrull’s face, the blow ripping off chucks of flesh, blood trickling down into the toxin stained water Zargot had pulled himself thrugh. With a violent follow up blow Flag Smasher plunged Zargot’s body under the surface until green tentacles reached up and infiltrated the corpse before dragging it across the floor into the darkness of the deeper tunnels.
“I wasn’t asking.” Flag Smasher stated. “Just like I didn’t ask the rest.”