Marvel Iron Age: Cage, The Fist part 8

Continued from here part 7

Southern Wastes

A young mutant girl flees in terror as a group of goblins chase her down. She fell to her knees in the middle of a swampy area and leaned on a tree as her pursuers moved in to capture her. As one was about to grab her a shadow came over him as something rose from the muck.

the goblins immediately began shooting the swamp creature who barely seemed to notice. He placed a sloppy wet hand on the nearest who started to scream as his flesh burned under its touch. The creature then proceeded to slaughter the rest of the crew. It then turned and the girl covered her head with her hands and began to beg for her life but the creature ignored her completely as it walked west, leaving her in relative safety.

***

Near Lake Tahoe, Nevada

The group followed behind Slapstick and his cart in a truck they'd taken from the goblins. The rear of the truck was filled with a dozen children that the goblins had intended to sell before they were beaten. They were stopped by two men dressed in clothing made from Krang hide with heavy guns. The larger of the two stepped up with a flashlight and looked them over before shouting to the other, "Its just Slapstick."

Fiddler Back stepped out into the snow and found it a bit odd for this time of year, "I heard stories about a frozen wasteland in the middle of Nevada, wasn't sure it was true."

The man nodded, "Some Omega level mutant with Ice powers died here during the take over, ruined the place for everyone but us."

The spider looked him over, "And you are?"

"Alex Russel, over there is my brother Mac. I see you brought us some more mouths to feed."

Slapstick hopped up, "That's what your father built the place for."

Curtis popped his head out, "What place?"

Alex looked over, "The Orphanage."

***

They drove for another half mile before entering a village built around the broken down ski lodges that once housed the rich who used to vacation here. Tiffany noticed that the place seemed almost entirely populated with children and teenagers all similarly dressed to Alex and Mac. As they hopped out an old man with a grey beard walked up and put out a hand to shake. As Curtis took it he introduced himself, "Ed Russel, I'd ask what brings you but I can smell that bastard goblin they call Ogre on the truck."

Curtis looked up, "You've heard of him?"

"He's the reason several of my kids are here."

Tiffany was a bit confused, "You smelled him?"

"Enhanced senses are one of the bits that come along with the Russel family curse." He then looked back to Curtis, "I take it you're this Iron Fist, we been hearing about?"

He then looked to Alex, "Get some blankets and have some supper made up, these kids look hungry and tired."

He then gave the Krang pulling Slapstick's cart a pat on the head, "How you doing Bongo?"

Fiddler Back looked to Slapstick, "You named Death incarnate, Bongo?"

Slapstick nodded, "I thought it fit. And he's not death incarnate, he's as tame as a Krang can get. I bet he'd just barely maim you if you got in biting range."

He looked Ed over, "Why ain't he biting the old man?"

"Krangs don't eat werewolf, the meat is toxic to them."

Fiddler Back started to nod as Slapstick walked away, "Wait... What the stark did you just say?"

He then ran to catch up with the group as they continued on.

***

Northern California wilderness

Balain and the Grey halted as Ogre sat propped up against a tree. Balain pointed her repulser at his face, "You wouldn't happen to have seen a couple people riding on a cart pulled by a Krang?"

He spat at her, "I ain't got a starking thing to say to an Iron b**ch."

She shrugged and looked to the Grey who forcibly entered his mind, "The one we seek soundly defeated him and took the spider children he intended to sell."

Balain gritted her teeth at that and knelt beside the man, "Last time I checked, slave trading was illegal in this part of the world."

He gave her a hateful grin as he chuckled a bit, "A morality lecture from an Iron goon? Look woman, the only difference between your kind and mine is that tin plate scrap on you."

She punched down on his broken knee, "If I had the time I'd drop you in the ocean, but you lucked out."

She then stood and gave the goblin a hard kick to the ribs, "I think the Krangs heading this way will deal with you just fine."

He fell to the ground and spat some blood as he glared at the general, "I'll do just fine."

They then moved on as Ogre pulled himself back up.

***

Outside Little Rock, Arkansas

An Iron soldier walks the perimeter of an outpost as a creature made of swamp muck marched past paying no attention. He moved in front of the thing with a shaky voice, "I-Dent."

The creature placed a hand on the soldier's chest and burned straight through the armor and into his flesh killing the man. He then pushed him aside and walked onward.

(To be continued)

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Gifted youngsters part 2

Continued from here part 1

Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters, Christmas 1985

Jean looked around the room as Hank's parents made small talk with her's and Xavier. Bobby sat alone playing Donkey Kong while Scott read a book on the couch. Warren opened a card from his parents. He pulled a check out and tossed the card in the fire place.

Hank's father left for a moment and came back with a large bag of gifts. He'd made sure to get something for all the kids while Jean's parents had only gotten a gift for her. Scott noticed her concerned look, "Don't worry about it, Nobody was expecting to get anything."

She sat down beside him, "Is Bobby an orphan too?"

"No, his parents just don't visit. Warren's folks send money every couple months but only occasionally acknowledge he exists outside of that. Hank's folks come around any chance they get, its like they don't even care their kid isn't normal."

She felt a little sad for the boys but they seemed to have formed their own little family, Warren and Scott feuded with each other but it seemed more like sibling rivalry than actual hate.

***

A few days later just after New Years Bobby sat flipping through channels and yelled out through the house, "Hey, guys, you need to see this. Scott and Warren walked in expecting something silly but were shocked to see a man on TV dressed in a red and purple outfit. He was attacking an air force base alone.

Xavier entered and dropped the book he held, "Erick, what are you doing?"

Scott turned, "You know this guy?"

"He was once a friend of mine. Now he's known as Magneto."

Warren chuckled, "Magneto? Isn't he like an urban legend?"

Scott pointed at the TV, "Obviously not."

Xavier turned and headed for the elevator, "I have to go."

Scott and Warren ran after him, "You can't go after that guy alone. He just trounced the US Air Force, we should call the Avengers or something."

He ignored them as he entered the elevator. Scott and Warren gave each other a look of agreement and ran for the stairs. Hank saw Bobby taking off after them, "What's going on?"

"We need to get down to the jet before the Professor."

Jean tossed her magazine and followed along with Hank.

***

Xavier arrived at his jet where the kids stood waiting. He looked to Scott, "I don't have time for this."

"Well then there's no time to talk us out of coming with you."

Bobby tossed down a bag, "We'll call it field training."

Scott pulled his yellow and black training suit from the bag, "Its basically a super hero outfit already."

***

Cape Citadel, Florida

Pietro Maximoff watched from a safe distance as Magneto attacked the base. He didn't like what he saw but he'd promised his sister he would follow this man he considered crazy. He gave a curious look as a jet landed. He watched as a winged man flew out followed by a snowman and three masked teens.

***

Magneto hurled several missiles at the base but was shocked as a blaze of red energy destroyed them in the air. He then noticed a large chunk of ice flying toward him. He dodged then saw Bobby making large Ice chunks to be hurled by Hank. Warren attempted to attack from behind but Magneto turned and caught him by the throat. He looked him over and noticed the logo of Xavier's school. He chuckled before shouting, "So you're letting children fight your battle, Charles?"

Xavier came out onto the field, "They insisted. Why are you doing this? It will only make things worse."

He landed, "I have no time for your fantasies, these people need to learn we can't be controlled or ignored. We are the next stage of evolution and should be treated as such."

Xavier glared as he attempted to penetrate Magneto's mind, "I've learned to counter you."

He tapped his helmet.

He then raised his hand to open the nuclear silo he'd come for but something held it half closed. He noticed Jean holding a hand out trying to resist his power. He stepped forward,"I'm doing this for your own good girl."

She grunted a bit trying to hold back the missile he was trying to pull free, "Heard that before, its usually a lie."

Magneto looked annoyed as he lifted a car to hurl her way but Scott fired a blast that he was barely able to avoid. His foot slipped on a bit of ice on the ground as Beast was dropped from the air. He slammed a fist into Magneto's helmet knocking it off his head. Xavier then attacked his mind sending him to his knees.

As the team looked on the helmet seemed to disappear. Then a man stopped beside Magneto wearing it. Pietro looked down, "Need a little help old man?" Magneto glared as Pietro tossed him over his shoulders, "Nice outfits fellas."

He then took off. Warren tried to catch up but couldn't gather enough speed while flying low enough to follow. Xavier looked to the team, "Its time to leave."

***

A bar in Calgary, Alberta Canada

The TV over the bar shows the attack on Cape Citadel as a drunk slurs out, "Damn muties are getting outta hand. Somebody ought to wipe 'em out."

A man turns to him, "You know what they say, bub. If ya ain't got nothin nice to say..."

The drunk turned, "What? You some kind of mutie lover little man?"

The man tightened his fist but the bar tender yelled out, "Got a call for a Logan, anyone here by that name?"

Logan shrugged as he looked on the drunk, "Saved by the bell."

He then walked over to answer.

(To be continued)

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Gifted youngsters (An X-Men Story)

Upstate New York, 1985

A young girl tells a cab driver, "1407, Graymalkin Lane, Salem Center."

The driver looks back, "Ritzy place."

***

The cab pulled up about twenty minutes later as the driver commented, "Jeez this place is huge, you said its a school right."

She nodded, "That's what the brochure says, Xavier's school for Gifted Youngsters."

As she got out she was met by Professor Charles Xavier and a solemn looking boy in a pair of red sun glasses that took her bags for her. They strolled up the wheel chair ramp after Xavier paid the driver. Once inside he looked to her, "Welcome to my school Ms. Grey, our student body is quite small at the moment but it will grow. At the moment it's just you, Mr. Summers here and three others."

The other three students stepped up as Xavier introduced them, "Robert Drake, Henry McCoy, Warren Worthington and Scott Summers. Allow me to introduce Jean Grey."

Bobby looked her over, "Does she need a roommate?"

Hank poked him in the side with an elbow, "Show some respect."

Warren stepped in front of them, "Sorry, my friends have a lack of class. If you need anything, I'll be glad to help out."

He then gave a bit of a sneer toward Scott, "Don't worry, no need to tip the bell boy."

Scott rolled his eyes and walked past without a word.

Jean looked to Xavier, "Are they, like me?"

Bobby nodded, "Yup, all freaks."

He gave a wide grin as he took on a snowman like form, "You can call me Iceman, my over sized buddy here is Beast, big feet, big hands, big...."

Warren and Hank glared, "What, I was gonna say brain. Haven't peeked downstairs, and no Hank I don't want to."

Hank swatted him on the back sending him staggering, "Don't mind Bobby, he thinks he's funny."

She looked to Warren who dropped his overcoat to reveal large wings, "And of course, I'm the Angel. Its fine if your impressed, the wings are cool."

Bobby and Hank gave a condescending nod as Hank spoke, "Powerful too, they can even lift that ego."

"What about Scott?"

Bobby replied,"Eye lasers."

Hank shook his head, "They aren't lasers, they are a concentrated force blast of energy. Though I'm not sure what type, if he'd let me examine them I could give a more accurate...."

He noticed the blank expressions of the others, "Never mind. So, Jean, how about a tour?"

***

In the sub basement

The three boys opened a large door as Bobby spoke, "This is what we call the Danger Room."

She looked at a giant robot sitting in the center of the room, "What is that?"

Hank grinned, "That is Colosso, the Professor uses it to help train us with our powers. Top of the line in robotic engineering."

"Is it dangerous?"

Bobby chuckled, "Wouldn't be much of a Danger Room if it wasn't."

***

After the tour she met with Xavier in the library, "This place is great and all but are you sure I belong here?"

He nodded, "Jean, this place is a home for any mutant who wishes to learn. The hope is that one day we won't need a place like this, when we can simply coexist with normal humans but for now I honestly believe this is the best place for you."

Bobby looked to Hank, "Is he gonna give the 'I have a dream' speech again?"

Xavier chuckled, "Don't worry Bobby, I promise I won't bore you. Jean, we start classes at Eight A.M. sharp Monday morning. Take the rest of the weekend to get settled in, and Bobby, have you finished your biology homework?"

"Having a Telepathic teacher sucks."

He then wandered off to his room as Warren stepped up next to Jean, "Want to check out the pool?"

She shook her head, "Not right now."

"Awe, come on. We got a hot tub."

Hank patted him on the shoulder, "Better luck next time, Tweety."

***

As Jean walked to her room she noticed Scott sitting in his room alone studying as he listened to a walk-man. She walked in and pulled up a chair beside him. He lowered his head phones, "Need something?"

She smiled, "No, you were just the only one not falling over yourself trying to get to know me. Figured this room had less pressure."

He gave a slight grin, "Hank and Bobby are annoying but generally good guys."

"And what about Warren?"

He raised an eyebrow, "I like Hank and Bobby."

The two then had a chuckle, "So, Bobby told me about your eye thing."

"I can't really control it, but the Professor figured out how to block it so I can see without blowing things up. So, what brings you to the school."

She lifted her hand over several of Scott's pens and pencils and made them stand up, "I can move things with my mind, and sometimes if I concentrate really hard, I can hear peoples thoughts."

"So you're like the professor?"

"Oh, I doubt I'll ever be that powerful."

He shrugged, "You never know, once you get a little training you might be stronger."

"Not sure I even want to be, but mom and dad said Xavier is better equipped than they are to deal with my, condition."

***

An old man sits waiting for a machine to activate. He looks to a man sitting crouched in the corner, "If this works, I'll be back in my physical prime."

The man, called Mortimer Toynbee nods, "It might be simpler to just pass on leadership, definitely wouldn't make this place a target."

"Pietro isn't ready, and Wanda isn't stable enough."

He gritted his teeth, "Guess that's a no, well by all means, become Magneto again."

Magneto gave an annoyed look, "If I didn't know better, I'd say that tone was sarcastic."

He then stepped into the machine. There was a bright flash of light and a great deal of noise. After a few minutes Magneto stepped out looking around thirty years younger, "Now, time to let our Brotherhood be known to the world."

(To be Continued)

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Marvel Iron Age: Slingers part 2 of 4

Continued from here part 1

Outside Dodge City Kansas, 2195

The old man was over seeing the group as they had a sparing session. Tarantula and Orbweaver faced off in a circle that had been carved in the dirt. David easily swatted away her attempt at a kick, "Too slow web slinger."

She gritted her teeth as some psionic energy began to form in her hands, "I told you, I can do more than make webs."

She then swung a psionic blade at David that he barely dodged. She then looked down, "Should have paid better attention."

David looked down to see he'd stepped out of the circle, "Awe, damn it."

The old man eyed Orbweaver with concern and beckoned her over, "The rest of you, go find something to do."

Fiddler Back chuckled at David, "Hard to take the Tarantula seriously when he gets beat by my sister."

Black Widow poked him in the chest, "Are you saying getting beat by a girl is worse than getting beat by a guy?"

Fiddler Back nodded, "Kinda, yea."

She then punched him in the gut and dropped him to the ground. David then looked down on him as he stepped over, "Least she left me standing."

Redback and Funnelweb watched this with amusement.

As they left the old man turned to Orbweaver, "I know that look in your eyes, there was a time when I had it often. The killer instinct is strong in you. It can be quite useful but don't let it consume you. Trust me when I say its a path that leads to nothing but misery."

She glared at him, "I wasn't trying to kill him."

"Are you sure about that?"

She lowered her head and went silent as the old man rose. He patted her on the back, "I know you Spiders love that Mantra about power and responsibility so I won't give a speech you've heard a thousand times. Go on now, I've dealt with enough teenage problems today."

Redback and Funnelweb walked into the town that had been turned into a make shift Spider camp. They stepped into the old Saloon where Madam Web had set up shop. She was playing cards with several of the elders of the camp. Redback gave a nod to Molly Creed who sat beside Web. She had brought him to the Spiders after rescuing him as a child from the Iron soldiers who massacred his family along with the rest of the mutant camp they lived in.

She returned the nod and waved them over, "How's the old man treating you?"

Redback got a grin, "Like a dirty rug."

Madam Web chuckled, "Good, builds character."

Funnelweb wanted to chime in but was nervous around her. She looked up, "You shouldn't be frightened of an old woman, boy."

Molly grinned, "Well, you do have a bit of the Wicked Witch look going on."

She swatted her on the shoulder, "Some of us don't have a healing factor to keep us young. You're every bit the old hag as me, just a bit smoother in the face."

The old men around the table laughed as a man named Ed Parker spoke up, "We're all agreed, you're both old crones."

Redback noted the healthy stack of empty beers on the tray next to the table, "We'll let you get back to your important work."

They gave a drunken cackle at that as the boys left. Widow sat eating off to the side of the old alley where David and Dennis had joined in a street soccer game. Orbweaver sat next to her, "I take it they're on different teams?"

Widow looked over to her, "Of course, they'll prove one's better than the other if it kills both of them."

Orbweaver chuckled, "How the hell did they survive this long?"

Widow shrugged before changing the subject, "You're getting better with the psionic constructs."

"Have to if anyone's ever gonna trust me to do anything but set traps."

Widow gave a wary look, "Its about more than power you know."

"That's what everyone without any says."

Widow now glared at her, "You make it hard to be friends some times."

They then turned their attention to the game where David kicked the ball out from under Dennis' foot and sent him crashing to the ground. The ball then struck one of David's team mates in the head as it veered way off its mark. Dennis chuckled, "Doesn't matter if you have the ball if you can't hit a goal."

David sighed.

The girls laughed as the kid David hit started arguing with him.

***

The Old man wandered into the saloon and took a seat across from Madam Web as one of the Spider elders left. She noted his hand, "I see you found another ring."

He nodded, "The children were helpful in that."

She nodded, "You are training them well. Perhaps its a better path than questing for your own death."

He gave her a wary look, "Is there anyone who deserves death more than me?"

She shrugged, "Not many, but I could think of a few."

The two chuckled as the waitress sat a beer in front of the old man, "Well, deal me in old woman. I could use a bit of extra cash."

(To be continued)

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Marvel Iron Age: Cage, The Fist part 7

Continued from here part 6

The Northern California Wilderness

Fiddler Back sat next to Slapstick with a glare, "Problem Spider?"

He nodded, "If you survived since the old times, why are you just now trying to help."

"The jar."

He stared blankly as Slapstick continued, "The soldiers couldn't kill me so they stuffed me in this little jar made of something I couldn't break and left me at the vault. Eventually they just forgot me so I ended up in a supply closet for a really long time. After the human part of me died I got a little loopy and lost track of how long I'd been in there."

He stopped for a moment looking a bit sad then shook himself and jumped up, "Long story short someone made the supply closet go Kaboom and now I'm here so, on to the bad guys."

***

They found a small hill to look down on the camp. Fiddler Back looked down through a pair of binoculars, "Oh, crap."

Tiffany slid over to him, "What?"

He handed her the binoculars and pointed, "That walking mountain over there in the goblin mask is Tom 'the Ogre' Polasky. He was damn near super human before he got on the Green."

"What's the Green?"

"Goblin Serum, sort of like what made Captain America only it makes you stronger and faster. Also it makes you crazy."

She sighed as Fiddler Back continued, "We need a pl..., where are your brother and the cartoon guy."

She handed him the binoculars.

***

Slapstick wandered into a group of several Goblins, "Hey fellas, how you doing?"

They gave the odd looking man a wary look. One raised his gun and shot. Slapstick dodged it, "Hang on a sec, so impatient."

He then reached into his pocket and pulled out a huge bag and began rummaging through it. The goblins stepped forward but then fell back as he hurled an anvil out landing on one's foot. He screamed as the bones crunched. Another raised his gun again but Slapstick hurled a cartoonish badger out that landed on his face. As the man screamed Slapstick produced a large mallet from the bag and used it to swat away those who remained.

He then dropped it and reached back in the bag, "There it is."

***

Curtis walked through the camp right up to Ogre, "Are you the leader here?"

He looked down on Curtis, "Yea, what of it?"

"I will give you two options. Option one, you let those kids loose and apologize and I allow you to walk away."

He chuckled, "And two?"

"I break your legs and make you crawl away."

The rest of the camp burst into laughter but Ogre was a bit unnerved by Curtis' calm expression but decided to save face, "I'll take option three."

He swung his fist to hit Curtis but he dodged. Curtis then kicked him in the face and sent him crashing to the ground. Several of the Goblins rushed to Curtis but one slammed into the ground. The goblins all looked to the sky and saw Slapstick on a pogo stick. He crashed down on another and shot high up into the sky. Ogre charged Curtis but he side stepped and tripped the massive man.

He growled as he pushed himself back up, "I'm gonna rip your damned head off."

Ogre moved fast for a man his size and caught Curtis a bit off guard as he slammed a fist into his gut and sent him flying. He then snatched Slapstick's pogo stick and and tried to slam him into the ground but he hopped on his head and began slapping it like a bongo. He tried to grab him but he tied a rope to his hand and dropped down and slipped under his legs dragging him down.

He then hopped up as several of the others charged them. He leaped into the air and produced a large mallet from his pocket and crashed it down on them. Ogre made it to his feet just in time for Curtis to drive a kick into his gut.

Ogre fell back a bit then charged and grabbed Curtis by the midsection and hurled him. Curtis crashed into the ground but quickly made it back to his feet. As the big man charged Curtis lit his hands up with energy. As Ogre swung Curtis ducked then delivered a hard shot to his jaw causing a few teeth to go flying.

Ogre struck back bloodying Curtis' nose. Curtis then slammed a fist into his ribs cracking them. Ogre growled at him as he snatched him up by the throat. As he held him in the air Curtis raised his knee into his jaw. He was dropped and as he landed he charged up his legs and kicked a knee sending it crashing into the other and breaking both of Ogre's legs. He roared in pain as he fell.

Curtis then rose and slammed a foot down on his chest, "How's option two sound now?"

Ogre looked around to see Slapstick standing over a pile of his comrades with the mallet over his shoulder then back up to Curtis, "I'm gonna find you, and I'm gonna kill you."

Curtis shrugged and walked away as Ogre began to crawl out of the camp.

***

The Wilds just outside Sacramento

Balain stood beside the Grey Hellfitta had loaned her. She raised her hand, "They met a silly man here and traveled east with him."

Balain was a bit unnerved by the monotone of the Grey, "Okay, guess we have a trail."

She then leaned down to the cart tracks and calibrated her scanners to follow the trail the krang who pulled it left behind.

(To be continued)

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Marvel Iron Age: Slingers part 1 of 4

The wilds of Colorado 2195

An old man sits around a fire with six teenagers he'd been training to become a part of the Spider movement. He was asked to sit and listen as they formed an idea, "So, you've all come up with code names?"

The youngest David Hardy raised his hand, "I'm Tarantula."

The Old man nodded as his fiddled with his ring, "And the rest of you?"

A boy only slightly older than David named Dennis O'Neil chimed in, "I'm Fiddler Back."

"Shouldn't that be fiddleback?"

"Fiddler Back sounds cooler."

The old man nodded, "Ahh."

A girl named Synthia Carpenter was next, "I'm the Black Widow."

A boy named Daniel Carver stood, "I'm Redback."

The oldest boy named Ed Reilly raised his hand, "Funnelweb."

The Old man turned to the older girl, "And what will yours be Melody?"

Melody O'Neil thought for a moment before saying, "Orbweaver."

He nodded, "Can we have dinner now? We have to be up early."

***

The next day before dawn the group walked toward a Goblin camp. David poked Fiddler Back, "Why do you get the rifle?"

"Because you can't aim for crap and we need precision shooting."

David sighed, "Well, I guess I'll have to settle for kicking Goblin ass while you hide in a bush."

"You see that I have a loaded gun, right?"

The Old man looked back, "If you do your job right, you shouldn't have need to do either."

As they came to a hill overlooking the camp the Old man dropped down, "Tarantula, Widow and Redback will enter the camp, find the objective and bring it back. Fiddler Back, find a decent vantage point. You should be able to see every inch of the camp. Funnelweb and Orbweaver will stand ready to cover your retreat. Be silent and swift."

***

Orbweaver looked to Funnelweb as the rest went where ordered, "We have powers, why aren't we helping Redback?"

"All we can do is spin webs, setting traps is our strong suit, Redback is the strongman but he's far from the most useful here. David is a world class thief and Widow's the best fighter on the team."

She formed an orb of psionic web, "I can do more than spin webs."

Fiddler Back laid on a ridge and hit his comm as he got David in his sights, "You think you can do your job with a bullet in the ass?"

David whispered back, "Don't know, we'll have to ask your mom when we get home."

Redback and Widow glared back,"Shh."

David shrugged, "What?"

They slipped silently past several half asleep guards and made their way to the leaders tent where David slipped in. He tip toed around three women asleep on floor mats as he made his way to the mattress where the leader slept. He sighed as he saw the ring they came for on his finger.

He grabbed a stick that was lying on the ground and lightly poked the man who raised a hand to brush it away and rolled over dropping his hand to his side. David then leaned down and gingerly slid the ring off before slipping back out of the tent.

He came up to Widow, "There all done."

The Old man listened over the comm then sent a message to Fiddler Back, "All right, time to test the rest of them."

He grinned up on the ridge as he aimed for a kerosene tank near the back of the camp, "Get ready to run kids."

The three in the camp attempted to creep away but an explosion from behind roused the guards. Redback sighed, "The old man is testing us again."

David nodded, "We so should have seen that coming."

A guard ran toward them but Widow jumped up and kicked him in the side of the head sending him to the ground as the rest of the camp came out. As the three ran two Goblins jumped in front of Redback with guns but he grabbed them by the throats and slammed them into the ground.

David punched another in the face sending him down as they ran out. Fiddler Back picked off three that blocked their path and the three left running. David shouted to Funnelweb, "Your turn."

A dozen or so Goblins ran from the camp after them. Several were caught in Funnelweb's sticky trap while Orbweaver caught the rest in with her psionic web. The team then made their escape as the confused and angry goblins tried to free themselves.

***

As they found a safe spot to rest Fiddler Back walked up with a chuckle, "The look on your faces was just priceless."

The rest of the group glared as David spoke up, "You're lucky you're armed."

David then tossed the ring to the old man, "Here's your trinket. What's next?"

(To be continued)

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Marvel Iron Age: Cage, The Fist part 6

Continued from here part 5

Sacramento Iron Hall

Balain sits in her office sitting in front of a monitor that General Falcon Hellfitta glares on, "Why would I need a general on a tracking mission?"

"My men aren't good enough, every decent soldier we have has been transferred to New York or the Chechyen border, the idiots you left me with can't tie their damn shoes without an instruction video."

Falcon gritted his teeth a bit, "The Supreme Commander feels the need to bolster the...."

She cut him off, "He wants revenge, and he's punching holes in all our defenses to get it. You know that as well as I do."

"Be careful General."

She gave an angry sigh, "Okay, tell you what. You let me take a leave to track down this Iron Fist kid, and loan me a Grey to help and I'll give you this."

He looked at a small drive device, "What is it?"

"Its the case file on your wife's murder. The real case file. While it has been kept from you, you do technically have the clearance so if The Supreme Commander really has our best interests in mind it shouldn't hurt too much to let you have a look."

He eyed it, "Send it, your Grey will be teleported to your office within the hour. And Balain, this meeting stays between us. Dispose of the clone when your done."

"Agreed." She then sent him the file.

He stared hard at it on his screen as he debated whether to open it or not.

***

Balain readied her armor as Marcum stared, "You leaving me to run these goons, while you run off and play hunter?"

"Relax, you pretty much run the place anyway. Consider it a temporary reprieve from my childish behavior."

His eyes went wide, "You read that?"

"Don't put your private journal on an Iron Hall computer, I'm required to read those. You should check out Private Beck's journal, its comedy gold."

Marcum then turned to see the bald, nervous looking woman sitting in the corner rocking back and forth with her arms wrapped around her knees while she hummed an ancient tune, "Should I even ask?"

"No. And if you did, I'd lie to you."

***

The wilds just outside Sacramento

Curtis grinned as he saw the sun after several hours trapped in the subterranean tunnel. Tiffany and Dennis stepped out more cautiously. Dennis checked his map, "The Nation of the Plains is a few hundred miles south east of here. I'm tracking a Spider camp about ten miles from here, maybe we could grab a truck there to speed up the trip."

Tiffany nodded, "Any Army presence around here?"

"Some, but our biggest problems are gonna be Goblins and Krangs."

Curtis looked back, "Can we get one of those?"

Fiddler Back's eyes narrowed, "You want a Krang? As what, like a pet?"

"Well he's got one."

Tiffany and the Spider looked where Curtis pointed and saw a man with a small cart being pulled by a Krang. A ham dangled in front of its nose from a rope attached to a pole coming from the cart. They watched as the man pulled up and noticed his very odd appearance.

Dennis gave him a wary look, "Is there a circus around here?"

He stopped and seemed to bounce out of the cart and stopped before them, "Howdy folks."

Tiffany found the man's almost cartoonish look creepy, "We're in the middle of something."

He looked over to Tiffany who screamed as his eyes shot out and his tongue hit the ground. Dennis looked shocked but Curtis seemed excited, "Cool, he's all stretchy."

He pulled his face back together and popped up beside Curtis with a hand extended to shake, "Steve Harmon, better known as...."

He appeared back on his cart with his chest popped out in a heroic pose, "Slapstick."

The three stared blankly and he dropped down an d lowered his head as a little storm cloud formed over his head, "Nobody ever remembers, sure they remember Nova and Firestar."

Curtis had a frown, "Awe, we made him sad."

Tiffany and Dennis shrugged as he spoke, "Well okay, onto the camp."

Slapstick's head popped up, "You don't want to go there. It got over run with Goblins and they're still squatting. I think they're waiting for a pick up. They left all the kids alive, they've taken to selling them off. I was heading there to help but the mercs I found to help me stole my truck."

Fiddler Back gritted his teeth, "You guys are gonna have to find your own way. I'm not letting Goblins sell kids to some pervert if I can stop it."

Tiffany looked to Curtis, "You're gonna go play hero again aren't you?"

Curtis nodded, "The Prince has waited this long, a few more days won't hurt."

Slapstick jumped back into his heroic pose, "I will lead you."

Dennis hopped on the cart, "Shut up and get the lizard moving."

Slapstick then pulled a comically large needle out of one of his pockets and poked the creature to make it run.

(To be continued)

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Marvel Iron Age: Cage, The Fist part 5

Continued from here part 4

Tiffany and Fiddler Back sit in a tunnel beneath Sacramento. As Tiffany cleans her weapon the Spider bounces a ball off the wall, "You sure we shouldn't be worried?"

"Nah, he'll be fine. He mastered Danny Rand's final gift to the world, doubt there are many on this planet that could actually beat him."

Fiddler Back gave her a curious look, "Final gift?"

"See before Rand died he perfected this technique called the Iron Body, basically it literally fuses a person's body with their chi so they can use it as much as they need to without burning out. Curtis mastered it before he'd even become the Iron Fist, now if he could just master some of life's more basic things he'd be golden."

Dennis nodded, "Yeah, I noticed he was a little off."

"Well, he's what you might call a savant, he's only really good for one thing. It just so happens that the one thing happens to be incredibly useful in this world."

Suddenly the tunnel rattled at the sound of an explosion. Fiddler Back looked to Tiffany who just shook her head while giving an annoyed sigh.

***

Sacramento Iron Hall

Balain walked into Marcum's office and saw him hunched over a holopad, "What's up?"

"Researching Daniel Rand, the last Iron Fist we knew of. Unfortunately it doesn't say much beyond what we know and that we killed him."

Balain chuckled as he looked at her curiously, "What?"

She flipped up a panel on the gauntlet of her armor mark, 'Shush' that shut down all the communication devices in the room, "Now this is way above your clearance but I doubt you'd go running off at the mouth about it."

He gave her his full attention as she spoke, "Now all those reports your going to find are gonna tell you that we killed him, found K'un-Lun and left the place a crater, that's a lie. We never captured Rand, he was a source of humiliation for us. He beat our side then disappeared. The Supreme Commander sunk twenty years and a couple billion dollars into finding the man and the lost city and came up with squat so they just made up a victory for the history books and called it done."

Their conversation was interrupted by an explosion, "What the Stark was that?"

***

Five minutes earlier

Scalphunter pulled a pair of knives and went to slash Curtis' throat but he dodged and spun around driving a foot into the back of Scalphunter's knee and an elbow strike to his neck. Scalphunter motioned as if he was going down but grabbed Curtis' leg and dragged him off his feet. He then put his foot on Curtis' throat and looked down with a grin, "You're good kid, but I'm starking amazing."

Curtis swung his leg up and kicked Scalphunter in the spine causing him to fall forward wher Curtis slammed a fist into his stomach as he rose. He then caught the assassin before he hit the ground and drove a knee into his chest and swinging him into a bench. He then turned to walk away again but Scalphunter hurled something at him from behind. Curtis dodged but the item was a grenade and went off in the crowd of people killing several and injuring more.

Curtis was shocked as Scalphunter chuckled, "Forgot to check me for fire works."

"Those people did nothing to you."

Scalphunter shrugged, "What's your point? Ahh, we got ourselves a hero complex."

Two compartments opened on the legs of his customized armor. He shoved his hands in and pulled out two fistfuls of small ball like devices, "Not real sure what all these do, let's find out."

He then hurled them out like confetti. As they flew several explosions went off along with various poison gases and random electrical arcs flying around wildly as the people on the streets fled in panic. Curtis dived out of the way of an explosion and landed near Scalphunter who tried once again to stab him.

Curtis rolled away and jumped to his feet. He delivered several rapid fire punches to Scalphunter's kidneys. he fell forward and turned punching Curtis hard in the face then kicking him in the gut. Curtis spat a bit of blood as the assassin came at him like a wild animal. He slashed him across the chest with his knife and brought a fist down on his jaw before trying to stab him in the eye.

Curtis caught his hand and gave Scalphunter a hateful glare, "Our hero looks on with righteous...."

Scalphunter's joke went unfinished as blood and teeth flew from his mouth. Curtis then gave him several ferocious strikes to the head and chest. Scalphunter grunted as his jaw shattered and his ribs broke. He fell to his knees and Curtis kicked him in the face.

He was shaken out of his rage by the sickening crack of Scalphunter's neck.

Curtis started to walk away when Scalphunter slurred, "Hey, we aren't done."

Curtis looked as he stood straightening his neck, "Crap, that always hurts."

Curtis sighed, "I suppose the gloves can come off now."

Scalphunter chuckled, "Awe, did I upset....."

He stopped as Curtis' hands lit up with energy, "Sweet, we got a light show."

Curtis charged and swung but Scalphunter dodged yet again causing Curtis to slam his fist into a parked car. The car launched across the street smashing into a restaurant. It slid into the kitchen smashing through a gas main. Curtis then went at Scalphunter with incredible speed. The assassin stopped joking as he saw the destruction Curtis was causing where ever his fist struck.

The car in the restaurant exploded taking the entire building as it went and causing a chain reaction that took out the block due to Scalphunter's explosives and Curtis' strikes weakening the structures. Scalphunter flipped and dodged but was beginning to tire when he finally got struck. He was launched through a brick wall and landed in a folded position. He looked up to see his own feet dangling above his head, "That's no good."

Curtis launched into the building ready to finish the assassin but he rolled out of the way grunting with the crunch of his spine. He straightened himself out and rolled under a shelf and hid as Curtis walked past. As he watched him go he pushed up bringing the shelves down on his enemy. He then jumped on the wreckage and went to finish him off. He moved some debris out of the way and found a large hole leading to a basement. He dropped down and found another hole in the wall leading into a sewer drain, "Well Damn."

***

Later Scalphunter sat on a bench next to Balain, "The kid's tricky."

Scalphunter nodded, "And he hits like a truck."

She looked over the destruction, "So we're telling the Supreme Commander the kid did all this, right?"

"Sounds like a plan."

***

Curtis walked to Tiffany and Fiddler Back, "We need to be leaving."

Tiffany looked at his bloody and torn clothing, "What the hell happened?"

"Don't worry about it."

(To be continued)

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Marvel Iron Age: Cage, The Fist part 4

Continued from here part 3

Sacramento Iron Hall

Balain walks into her office staring at a holo-pad when a familiar voice draws her attention, "This armor looks like what happens when a rodeo clown starks a Chevy."

She doesn't look up, "Hello Gerald, what brings you to town?"

"Our beloved psychotic dictator has been a bit touchy about people humiliating his soldiers lately, when news of your little kung fu master hit his desk I got a call."

She dropped down in a chair, "The kid is damn good, plowed through my men while he was barely paying attention. Fights kind of like you."

Gerald turned to face her, "But does he have my charm?"

She looked to him, "My mother taught me that if you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything."

She then got up and left the room.

***

Tiffany and Curtis followed the Spider known as Fiddler Back through a series of underground tunnels. He seemed to be giving a history lesson as they went, "Been about ten years since we've used these tunnels regularly. There was about a decade when Sacramento had more Spiders than any other city in North America then that General Balain came in and pretty much destroyed are entire support system so we had to vacate."

Tiffany nodded, "We've been in K'un-Lun so long I hardly remember the outside world. We moved there when I was about five, Curtis was born there. We never had to worry about the Iron Soldiers but Mom said they were terrible."

Curtis stopped and interrupted them, "I'm hungry."

Fiddler Back looked to him, "We can stop and eat as soon as we see daylight."

Fiddler Back then turned and started to head forward when Tiffany tapped him on the shoulder, "He's already gone."

They turned and saw nothing, "How'd he do that?"

She shrugged, "He'll be back, we should just wait he'll only get lost if we move on."

***

Curtis popped his head up from a manhole and noticed a hot dog cart. He hopped out and quickly made his way over and bought himself a couple of chili dogs and dropped down on a bench.

A man was wandering around behind him tapping on a device of some kind. He was Scalphunter trying to get the tracking device Balain had keyed into Curtis' energy signature to work. Curtis had mastered hiding his energy from these types of devices before leaving k'un-Lun.

Finally the assassin sat down on the bench paying no attention to the hooded man beside him munching on chili dogs. He may not have noticed him at all if Curtis hadn't dropped chili on his boot, "Are you a farm animal?"

Curtis looked over and held out a napkin, "Sorry."

Scalphunter recognized the face from the surveillance video he'd been shown, "Awesome, I got the rest of the day to sight see. But its Sacramento, well I can go make fun of folks at the Al-Mar I guess."

Curtis shrugged and continued to eat his hot dog as the man beside him seemed to be having a conversation with himself. As he finished he felt a gun on the side of his head.

Scalphunter casually placed the gun to his temple and pulled the trigger but nothing happened. He looked down to Curtis' hand and saw him holding the top half of his gun, "Okay, that was kind of cool."

Curtis gave a wary look, "Bit of an over reaction, its just chili man."

Scalphunter's jaw dropped a little, "You don't know who I am?"

Curtis stared blankly as the assassin got up and gave a very dramatic introduction, "I am the infamous Scalphunter, head of the EAD and greatest of all time."

Curtis seemed to be clueless, "I'm bald."

"What?"

"You're Scalphunter, so I assume you hunt scalps but since I'm bald you have no reason to come after me."

"I don't hunt Scalps."

"Then why are you called Scalphunter?"

Gerald thought for a second, "It sounded cool."

"Very confusing."

He then pulled his sword, "Don't worry, you won't have to think too much about it."

He moved to stab him but Curtis swatted the blade and snapped it in half before kicking Scalphunter away. He then rose and attempted to walk away but Scalphunter came after. Gerald went to sweep kick Curtis' legs but he jumped up and spun trying to land a kick on his attacker but the assassin was quick enough to avoid it and watched as Curtis land on his toe and spun himself into a fight stance, "Okay, kid. You broke my gun and my sword and after the ballet twirl thing, I'm slightly impressed and possibly a little turned on, but I'll deal with that can of worms some other..."

He then noticed Curtis' attention seeming to drift. He moved to capitalize with a punch to the face but Curtis caught his hand while he still looked away, "What the stark is so damned fascinating?"

"That is the fattest squirrel I've ever seen."

Scalphunter couldn't resist looking over to the morbidly obese rodent, "Good lord, that's huge."

He then shook his head to get back in the game and went to kick his enemy but his leg was swatted down, Curtis then tried to return the favor but Scalphunter leaned away and came up trying to strike him in the crotch but Curtis flipped away.

The people on the street had stopped to watch as the two tried to attack each other and each time being met with a block or a dodge. Curtis stepped back, "You're not bad, I haven't missed a hit since I was twelve."

Scalphunter gave him a wary look, "Thought you had super powers."

"I wouldn't use them on a normal person, you're a jerk but I don't want to kill you."

Scalphunter looked a bit angry, "Who you calling Normal?"

He then charged and went to swing his right but when Curtis went to block he changed hands before he had time to react and struck him in the face. As Curtis seemed to be falling he spun around and kicked Scalphunter in the side of the head.

Curtis wiped the blood from his nose as Scalphunter tried to shake off the daze from the kick. Gerald gave a nod,"Alright, I'll just have to more thoroughly introduce myself."

(To be continued)

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Marvel Iron Age: Cage, The Fist part 3

Continued from here part 2

Sacramento, Mexifornia

Tiffany was worried but Curtis looked almost awestruck at General Balain, "That armor looks awesome."

Balain nodded, "I know, right."

Tiffany and Marcum looked at them with a mix of confusion and embarrassment. Tiffany swatted Curtis on the back of the head, "Pay attention!"

Curtis turned, "Mom told you to quit doing that."

Marcum waved the men forward to arrest them as Tiffany looked stunned at her brother continued, "Its rude."

As a soldier moved in Curtis grabbed him by the arm and yanked forward while driving an elbow into his face plate and bending it in. He then spun around and swept the legs out from under the second sending him crashing to the ground.

Marcum looked on stunned as Curtis put down all twelve of his men with ease. he moved to stop him personally but was blindsided by a shot from Tiffany's gun. She launched an explosive at him that sent him flying into a store front.

Balain moved in and grabbed him in a full nelson, "Quick question, are the flames on the sides too much?"

Curtis shook his head as he struggled a bit, "Nah, they're badass."

He then flipped up and pulled himself free before driving his foot into her chest. An energy shield prevented him from damaging her suit. Curtis grinned, "That's cool."

Tiffany yelled, "Be impressed later."

He sighed, "Okay."

His fingers then lit up with energy and he hit five points on her armor and Balain noticed she could no longer move. She chuckled, "You're good."

Tiffany looked on them like they were insane, "What the Stark is wrong with you people?!"

She then blasted a hole in the ground and jumped down, Curtis gave a wave and followed.

***

Marcum came back as Balain yelled out, "Can you hit the restart under the panel on my gauntlet?"

He flipped open the panel and rolled his eyes at the button marked,'Ctrl-Alt-Del.' "Are you nine?"

She ignored him, "They went down the sewer, give them the full spider sweep in case they have friends."

Marcum hit his comm and gave the order as Balian tapped him on the shoulder, "You like my armor right."

He sighed, "Can we just do our jobs here?"

She opened her other gauntlet and raised a screen with a map of the sewer system and a red dot, "He's headed east."

"You bugged him?"

She gave a nod.

***

Tiffany and Curtis tromped through the sewer. Tiffany was frustrated, "Why do you need a rat?"

He pulled the small tracking device off his shoulder and planted it on the small rodent in his hand, "Just having a bit of fun."

He then put it down, "Give'em hell little buddy."

They then ran in the other direction.

***

Several hours later a filthy soldier yelled into his comm, "There's no starking way the tracker is right."

Marcum gave an annoyed reply, "Just follow it."

The soldier looked into the 3 inch wide pipe, "Will do as soon as my Pym particles get here."

Marcum put his head in his hands as Balain looked on him, "He put the bug on a rat, didn't he?"

"Would you mind if I put in for a transfer to Chicago?"

She gave a wary look, "Chicago is a crater."

"Oh, I know."

***

Tiffany knocked on a small door in an out of the way section of the sewer and the door swung open to reveal a man with a web tattoo on his hand, "You the Cage kids?"

Curtis nodded as he put out his hand, the Spider shook it, "Dennis O'Neil, most folks call me Fiddler Back."

"Why?"

O'Neil gave him a wary look, "Why not? Anywho, come on in and we'll figure out how to get you out of town."

(To be continued)

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