Marvel Iron Age:
War Machine- War Crimes Part 4 of 4
Weapon Twenty awoke without the words of his A.I. to prompt him. The landscape had been completely flattened by the blast. A crater had taken the city’s place. The SH.I.E.L.D agents that had been brought with them were absent. Queen Danvers that had led the mission was missing.
“You there?” Twenty spoke to his A.I. He was out of his armor, the nodules grafted into his body were unresponsive and his usually talkative built-in artificial intelligence was offline. “Anybody?”
He limped toward where the pillar of light had been. His feet sunk under the dust that had once been a city. The plan had utterly gone wrong. They were supposed to go in and take out the Wide Awake presence. S.H.I.E.L.D had the perimeter secure when Weapon Twnety and Carol started taking fire. Then a wave of light completely obliterated their defenses. “Anybody out there?” He called fruitlessly.
The wind was his only response. Weapon Twenty’s legs gave in and his limp turned into a crawl. He had never been this damaged before. His A.I. that monitored the War Machine armor was silent; he couldn’t activate the nodules to unleash the armor his body felt heavy under its own weight. “My Queen we found him!” A female voice yelled at the top of her lungs.
Then the voice belonging to Carol Danvers barked, “Oh thank god! Now get us back to the castle!”
Weapon Twenty didn’t respond. Speaking had become just as hard as simple movement. So he didn’t bother to try. He didn’t see either woman. Only their voices. They both spoke for a while. Then their voices turned into whispers. Then he heard nothing at all as sparks seemed to dance around him out of thin air. Then he blacked out.
Carol Danvers, Lodestone and Weapon Twenty appeared in her office in a cascade of magical energy. Twenty was unconscious and both Lodestone and Carol were worn and bloodied from the explosion at Hamburg. “So, Doom taught you that?” Carol exclaimed as she materialized inside her office.
“Yes, your Grace.” Lodestone answered with a sigh. “He taught every member of his elite guard basic spells to use in an emergency. This qualified.”
“I can’t believe this!” Carol growled. “It was a trap and I took the bait. Damn it! Damn it! We lost three hundred agents because I…” Carol paused and snapped her attention to the door of her office. There was running on the outside that was quickly silenced after the sounds of gun fire.
“Oh, no!” Lodestone went for the door and gestured to her queen to stay back as she investigated. Carol stopped her by placing a hand on her shoulder.
“Stand back.” Carol raised her other hand and fired a full strength energy blast at the door. Wood and stone were reduced to debris as several howls of pain can from the other side. Carol marched forward.
Mixed with the rubble were Shield agents that writhed in agony from the blast. As the queen stepped out into the hallway she looked at the other end. The bodies of her attendants were ripped apart by gun fire. Blood splashed the walls and pooled on the floor. Carol clenched her fists tight and gnashed her teeth.
Carol lifted a groaning Shield agent from the rubble by the neck and slammed him hard into the wall. “You have one minute. Use it by telling me what the hell is going on in my castle!”
“You weren’t… suppo…sed to be here!” He coughed. “Stark! How…” Carol clenched the agents forearm and squeezed. The bones snapped like a bundle of sticks under her grip.
“Thirty seconds! Answers! Now!” Carol barked.
“We have hostages! In the throne room! Your aides! Ministers! The…” Carol interrupted by crushing his throat with a sickening crack and let him drop to the floor.
“Lodestone. I’m going to secure the throne room. Get War Machine to safety. Call in someone to pick up the mess afterward.” Carol ordered coldly, as she flew down the hall toward the throne room.
Lodestone used her powers over magnetism to levitate Weapon Twenty as she quickly did as her queen ordered. She was angry about the mission. It was her first as commander of the queen’s imperial guard. Three hundred agents were dead and the world wouldn’t even know. Now the castle was under siege and she couldn’t help take it back. She prayed the queen would make it right.
The Throne room:
Kimura had taken command from Major Laura Kinney after she was freed from the castle’s dungeon. Guards were posted at every entrance to the throne room. Actually nobody even knew the castle was taken yet. Not that it would stay that way. The hostages were all high value targets important to Queen. Some had to be executed as examples. Since the attack on New Latveria a year ago Kimura and Laura had collected a number of allies against the crown. A few of them were notably Shield agents.
Kimura sat on the absent queens throne and before her was a member of the higher class. He was groveling atop a pile of freshly dead servants, diplomats and aristocrats like himself. Blood was staining his expensive clothes and his shaking made the bodies on the floor beneath him wiggle unnaturally. Much to Kimura’s amusement, “Die.” She ordered as one of her guards pulled a pistol and shattered the man’s skull with a bullet at point blank range.
Blood splashed the Weapon plus agent’s boots. Kimura spoke loud to the rest of the chamber with a smile on her face, “Who else wants to grovel? Hurry! People are starting to pile up!”
Kimura looked at the direction of a loud boom and then frightened scream. All over the throne room her guards were being picked off one at a time. Limbs were flying along with bodies. The wind in the room picked up and knocked several hostages around. A black figure could be made out by her eyes and was quick to dispatch the guards ruthlessly. Then the guard that had just killed a hostage turned to view the mayhem. Only to live long enough for his head to free itself from his body and smack the wall next to Kimura.
“Well done `super-hero’!” She mocked as the pushed her back into the throne as she began to clap.
Carol had flown into the chamber at Mach 3 and killed all the guards in the room. The sonic booms tossed around the hostages, though most seemed to be alright at first glance and if she was being honest at the moment she wasn’t concerned for their personal safety; just eliminating the threat at hand. “How was Hamburg? Like the light show?”
Carol didn’t say a word before she blasted Kimura with the energy she generated from her hands. The chair splintered as Kimura managed to dodge out of the way. Carol leapt and launched the killer with a kick before she could rebound. Kimura’s body cratered the stone wall as she smacked into it. “Damn it!” She said.
Carol flew and snatched Kimura before she could respond with a counter. Using her superior strength she tossed the assassin through a pillar. “Did I press a button… hero?” Kimura gasped as she picked herself off the floor.
Carol floated back to the ground and marched toward her enemy with deadly purpose. Her fists were tight as she looked furiously at Kimura. “You started this, queenie.” Kimura taunted with a wide grin that showed her bloodied teeth. “You did. I WONDER how many people in this room know that?”
Kimura ran to meet Carol head on. When she was close enough Carol intercepted her with a fist that floored her attacker. Kimura flipped back and caught the floor with her hands and pushed herself at the queen of New Latveria. Kimura’s feet drilled Carol in the stomach and knocked her back a few feet. The assassin rolled forward and continued her attack. The assassin threw punches and kicks that staggered Carol.
Carol recoiled at the hits that landed as she blocked others. She tried to counter. But Kimura was fast. When she threw a punch the assassin wasn’t there anymore and landed a strike. The damage that Carol had inflicted didn’t even seem to slow her down. “Argh!” A knee to Carol’s ribs folded her over as another kick planted itself on her face.
“That was for the conjugal visit the other day. What a headache!” Kimura screamed as she jumped on top of Carol and wrapped her hands around the queen’s throat. Carol struggled beneath Kimura. The assassin squeezed tighter. Though Kimura’s sadistic cheer was short-lived.
Carol, while struggling for air had a knowing smile on her face. The former Avenger wrapped her legs around Kimura’s waist, held on to a wrist and put her free hand up to her assassin’s face. Her palm came to life with energy before a beam had fired from it and vaporized Kimura’s head.
“Why?” Weapon Twenty whispered. He was in a narrow hallway, facing a long staircase and couldn’t move. His arm was outstretched. The armor was deployed. At the bottom of the stairs was Lodestone lying in a pool over her own blood. Her white hair was stained red and the only signs of life left in her he could tell were the sounds of her choking on her own blood.
There were others however. Voices he didn’t recognize. He couldn’t move to face them. His body felt so heavy. So useless. “Weapon Twenty has been secured.”
“No word from agent Kimura. We’re continuing the mission on the assumption she has been KIA. Our last allied troops are also to be considered KIA. We’ve heard nothing from the Throne room.”
Weapon Twenty listened, unable to respond and unable to retaliate. He was to be a prisoner again. To whom? For what? The choices he had made for himself were being taken away. Just like before. “The War Machine is ours.”
Carol Danvers had gone to visit Lodestone in the hospital days after the failed mission in Hamburg. Officially and most vocally by General Kurske who still refuses to speak of his personal experience as a hostage is calling the attack a coup attempt. Three hundred Shield agents died in the explosion at Hamburg. No survivors. The operation officially didn’t even happen. What it did reveal were the traitorous elements inside the New Latverian branch of S.H.I.E.L.D and resulted in a number of deaths of several hardline opponents to the current Queen in the throne room.
Carol found this time to visit between briefings and state funerals. She felt she owed this soldier that much, “I failed… you muh…my queen.” Lodestone said weakly with her eyes half open and an oxygen mask over her face. “I was taken… by… surprise. They took… they took… took…” Speaking was still hard for Lodestone and for a little while she tried desperately hard.
“I want to hear about it when you are better. As we speak we’re closing in on the ones responsible.” Carol said confidently as she took Lodestone’s hand. “I’ll find out what happened to Weapon Twenty. And get to the bottom of this conspiracy.”
Carol released her hand. “You’re cousin; Elizabeth is in this very same hospital right?” Lodestone nodded as Carol continued. “Good. When you are well you should visit her.”
“Yes. My Queen.” Lodestone said as she drifted off into a medicated sleep.
“That was a kind gesture.” A woman said, as she materialized next to Carol and spoke monotonously. Carol never even looked she already knew she was there.
“I’m not a monster, Laura!” Carol responded harshly. Laura Kinney was a Major in the Iron Army and a member of its Weapon Plus program; the organization responsible for Project Wide Awake.
“I know.” Laura answered. “That is why you send people like me to kill them.”
"I just wish the cost wasn't so high." Carol looked at her from the corner of her eye, “Speaking of—“
“Weapon Plus has gone completely to ground. I can no longer locate them. It is possible they piggybacked on to several organizations or one. It is likely they will find me before I, them.” Laura announced in an unemotive voice. "Stryfe and War Machine here in Europe were very thorough in whittling down our numbers. I poured the last of our available resources into Hamburg. That is all I have for you."
“So just like that they’re gone? Everything they worked on?” Carol said under her breath.
“Ngumi Takada does have the plans to reproduce the process that creates our soldiers.” Laura stated. “Not that you need them of course.”
“Of course.” Carol said matter-of-factly. Carol opened her mouth to speak but a moment of hesitation stopped her. The queen cleared her throat and asked, "How is Weapon Twenty?"
Laura faced forward as she answered, "Safe. The War Machine was badly damaged. His brain functions have slowed to a crawl. It will take time before the repairs hold."
Carol just exhaled deeply and hung her head low. “There is our other problem. The S.H.I.E.L.D traitors. I still have no way to identify their leader. Only that they have connections to high level government contacts that are able to move around large amounts of money. Too bad, Kimura insisted upon being a psychopath until the end. They would have far less contacts.”
“Or they might have more.” Carol said flatly. “But I have an asset working on that.”
Laura turned to face Carol and Carol did the same, “Deathstrike hasn't failed you yet. With everything she’s been through... can you trust her?”
Carol glared at the mutant, “Just don’t blow your cover. You’ve been my greatest weapon in this war.”
“And there is going to be more fighting before it’s done.”
To be continued in Lady Deathstrike Vol. 2 Part 4!