[FFML] [SM/Marvel][Draft 1] The Age of Marvels Chapter 1

StudioPC studiopc at sbcglobal.net
Tue Jun 3 11:54:28 PDT 2008


This is the sequel to the Amazing Spiderwoman. Enjoy.

Disclaimer: I make no claim to any copyrighted characters.

------------------------------------------------

David Banterman, alias Bruce Banner, alias The Incredible Hulk,   
pulled experimentally at the chains attached to the cuffs around his  
wrists, listening to the clink.

Adamantium.

He scowled, heavy brows lowering, and moved his hips and legs. The  
restraints there were also adamantium. His arms were pulled above his  
head, legs spread wide, and a harness prevented him from using his  
hips. In short, he had no wiggle room. No way to use his considerable  
strength or bulk to pry his restraints from the wall and floor.

His savage side could probably break the restraints if it got mad  
enough, but Banner was no longer able to call on that side without  
consequences.

Turning his head, he looked at the slim figure chained next to him.  
Unlike him, she was hobbled so tightly she could barely breathe.  
She'd proven to be far too slippery and their captors were taking no  
chances.

"Why aren't you dead yet?" he demanded.

Sailor Moon screwed up her face in thought. "Because I'm cute?"

"That's your answer for everything, isn't it?"

"It's worked so far."

Banner growled and pulled on the chains again.

--------------------

One Year Ago . . .

"Ow." Makoto "Flash" Kino rubbed her head where the bit of plaster  
had struck her and raised her eyes to the perfectly round hole in the  
roof. It was about a meter ride and looked to have been drilled  
there . . . if it wasn't for the charred black edges and the faint  
smell of smoke in the air.

Re-directing her gaze to the lab station across the table, she  
watched as Usagi Tsukino poked at what moments ago had been a simple  
chemistry experiment, now so much slag. "Toji?" Usagi asked, poking  
harder at the experiment. "Hey, Toji, wake up. Lazy bum of an  
experiment."

Flash rolled her eyes. Lately, Usagi had taken to naming everything.  
Food, her textbooks, her class assignments. Everything. It felt like  
the setup to a joke and yet, Flash was looking forward to the  
punchline. That lack of fear was frightening.

"Hey, Flash?" Usagi asked, laying the glass rod aside, "what do you  
think it would be like to kiss somebody with no nose?"

"Disgusting?" Flash replied, beginning to wipe plaster off the lab  
table.

"No, seriously." Usagi leaned forward. "When you kiss someone, you  
have to tilt your head so the noses don't bump, right? But if one  
person doesn't have a nose, do you still tilt your head or not?"

Flash looked at her steadily. "Usagi, don't you think maybe you  
should be worrying about the hole in the ceiling instead of kissing?"

"There's a hole in the ceiling?" Usagi looked up, wide-eyed. "How did  
that happen?"

Flash rolled her eyes. "I've changed my mind. You're insane."

"Aw, you say the sweetest things, honeybunch," Usagi cooed. "Hey,  
where's Ami? Isn't chemistry her thing?"

Ami Mizuno was their friend. Their only friend, and a genius. Despite  
having the body of an acrobat, she was shy and bookish, almost  
reclusive. It drove Flash nuts, because as near as she could tell, It  
all seemed to be the product of genetics. She'd simply "sprouted" two  
years ago. Flash, meanwhile, who was an athlete herself, simply  
couldn't match her. It was infuriating . . . it made Flash angry.  
Made her want to smash things.

Smash Ami . . .

Flash pushed the thought away. "Science in general is her thing," she  
said out loud. "And she already passed advanced honors chemistry.  
Twice. She said that the principal gave her half days so the rest of  
us could catch up."

"Huh. So what do you think she's doing?"

Flash shrugged. "Hell if I know. Probably curled up with a book  
somewhere."
-----------------------

An abandoned warehouse
Somewhere in Tokyo.

The big green man stood there, eyes half closed. He was listening.

A movement of air was his only warning. Fists the size of a small  
child snapped up as a blur came at him from the side.

He stepped back, knocking aside the kicks as they came at him with  
enough force to put holes in light steel.

One hand closed around an ankle and he threw the figure across the  
room, only to watch it rebound off a ceiling support and land in  
front of him in a crouch.

It was a teenager. Her blue hair, too long to be called a bob, too  
short to be tied back, was pushed back from her face with a white  
headband. Her workout lycra suit was a dark red and clung to the not  
insignificant curves of her body like a second skin. Her arms, corded  
with muscle gleamed with a light sweat. Her shoes were half-boots and  
she wore leather gloves. Her expression was a grimace, and her blue  
eyes like ice and focused.

For his part, the big green man was dressed in black and wore no  
shoes. His lips curled up in a slight expression of approval. He was  
huge, with a face that was hard angles, with heavy brows and a broad  
jaw. His hair was of a slightly darker sheen than his skin, and his  
eyes were brown.

The girl seemed to be measuring him, and then came out of her crouch  
as he reached for her. One hand grabbed his wrist, the other formed a  
fist and slammed into his belly.

He grunted and reached for her, but she'd planted her feet on his  
thigh and leapt upwards, disappearing into the shadows of the  
rafters. He rubbed his belly. He'd actually felt that. Not bad. He  
looked upwards. No movement in the shadows and he smirked as he  
raised his fist to strike the nearest support beam. But before his  
hand could make contact, he felt booted feet hit him in the small of  
the back and he went sprawling, even as he felt, then watched her  
roll clear and come up in a fighting stance.

"Thirty seconds," he grunted as he stood. "And I didn't even hear you  
rebound off the walls. Not bad."

"Thank you," she replied, blushing with pleasure and she straightened  
from her stance.

Without warning, the green man lunged, fingers outstretched, reaching  
for her neck, but she only grabbed him by the shirt, somehow throwing  
him over her hip, and he hit the ground hard. A knee planted itself  
in his chest, her right hand clamped around his neck and her left  
drew back for a punch, that as tough as he was, would probably break  
his nose.

"Yield!" he snapped and she blinked at him. "I yield," he said again,  
more gently and with a smile. "Well done."

She smiled at him and let go of his neck. "Thank you, Bruce. I am  
ready for the next lesson."

"There are no more lessons, Ami," Bruce Banner said, squeezing her  
shoulder, "I've nothing left to teach you." He smiled at her. "Head  
outside."

As they walked towards the door, he considered his words. It was  
true, he'd nothing left to teach her, but he hadn't had much to begin  
with. He had every confidence in her ability to deal with opponents  
built like himself, and over the past two years, she had proven she  
could deal with most of the usual scum that infested Tokyo's streets  
with little trouble. But she was far from fully trained.

And Bruce was out of ideas.

----------------------

He was in a hospital. He could tell that much from the white walls.  
But the equipment surrounding him! He'd never seen the like. His brow  
furrowed as he tried to remember. The mission, the plane, he'd . . .  
oh no.

"Steven Rogers, Private, 2272462637422," he snapped out in German.

"No need for that, Rogers," said a voice. He turned his head to see  
an older man sitting nearby.

Rogers recognized him, even with the eyepatch. "Sergeant Fury?"

"Colonel, these days," Fury replied. "You've been asleep a while."

Rogers processed this. "How long?"

A pair of jeans landed on Rogers' lap. "You'll find shoes under the  
bed," Fury told him. "Let's take a walk."

Once Rogers had dressed, the two men left the room and Rogers paid  
attention to his surroundings. The walls gleamed with tile and  
occasionally he heard voices from speakers in the ceiling. Once, they  
had been forced to leap aside as a black woman wearing a doctor's  
labcoat and a stethoscope charged by, followed closely by two men.  
She was snapping orders and the two men one a mexican and the  
other . . . japanese, were obeying.

Rogers harbored no prejudice against the color of skin, and his own  
mother would have bent him over her knee if he'd ever viewed a woman  
as an inferior, but this . . .

"Like I said, Rogers," Fury's voice had a smirk to it. "You've been  
asleep a while."

They exited the building onto the hospital grounds. The air was dry  
and cool. They walked in silence, moving away from the buildings.

"You're in Sacred Heart Hospital, twenty miles outside Vegas in the  
Nevada high desert," Fury began. "What's the last thing you remember?  
Or to be more accurate, what's the last date you remember?"

Rogers thought for a moment. "February twelfth, nineteen forty-four.  
Bucky and I boarded a Nazi plane in Norway to stop it from dropping a  
bomb on London. There was an explosion and the next thing I know, I'm  
here."

Fury nodded and removed a cigar case from his pocket. He took out one  
and offered one to Rogers, who also took one. "These are supposed to  
be bad for you, now." he growled. "They also want us to stop eating  
red meat, drink milk from soybeans, and filter the water. Damn  
hippies." Rogers had no idea what a hippie was, but it sounded bad.  
They lit up and Fury sighed.

"The explosion was over sixty years ago," he told Rogers. "We invaded  
Germany in June of forty-four and clawed our way into Berlin, only to  
find Hitler had committed suicide rather than be captured. Italy  
ousted Mussolini and Japan . . ." The older man was silent for a  
moment. "You remember Oppenhiemer? Headed up the Manhattan Project?"

Rogers nodded. "Vaguely. Bucky and I helped a German physicist defect  
and one of the generals we delivered him too mentioned the name." He  
sucked in his breath as it hit him. "What about Bucky? Where is he?"

Fury ignored the last question. "The project was a success. The war  
officially ended when we, yes, America, dropped two nukes on Japan in  
August of forty-five." His voice dropped to a whisper. "What came  
after . . . God help me, Rogers, may I never see anything like that  
again." He shook himself. "As for Barnes, nobody knows. Until you  
were discovered in a block of ice at the bottom of the Atlantic, you  
were presumed dead. Barnes too."

"How . . ." Rogers trailed off and puffed at his cigar. "How am I  
alive?"

"We'd like to know that ourselves. Best guess is that between the  
force of the explosion, the shock of the water and the serum, you  
went into suspended animation. An ordinary man would have been killed  
by that. But you . . . you survived."

Rogers bowed his head in a moment of silence for a man who had been a  
friend and a brother and then pushed the grief behind him. Bucky  
would have wanted him to keep moving, keep fighting the good fight.  
"What now?"

Fury grinned at him. "Some things have changed in sixty years, Steve,  
but there's still bad men who need a spanking. To that end, there's  
an outfit called S.H.I.E.L.D., which is the special ops arm of the  
United Nations." Rogers gave him a blank look. "The heir to Wilson's  
League of Nations," Fury clarified. "All the member nations  
contribute troops and there happens to be an opening in the American  
contingent. Thing is, you won't be doing this just for America. The  
whole world has changed, but it could still use your alter ego to  
remind 'em that freedom and justice ain't just words. So what do you  
say? Ready to get back in the saddle?"

Rogers looked at him and then drew himself up straight. "If there's a  
need, then Captain America is ready." He came to attention.  
"Reporting for duty, Sir."

"Good soldier," Fury approved, clapping him on the shoulder. "Good  
soldier."

---------------------------

11 Months ago . . .

For once, Tony Stark wasn't drunk. Not even slightly intoxicated. In  
fact, as near as Julia Carpenter could tell, he was stone cold sober.  
It was a first.

In a way, it was even more worrisome then if he'd been drunk. Tony  
was always drunk, so if he was sober . . . she sighed. She supposed  
he had reason.

After all, she wondered, looking out the window of Tony's front room,  
how often does one person singlehandly change the world with a single  
news conference?

"Five minutes, Tony," Carpenter said, giving her suit jacket one last  
tug.

 From the bedroom, Tony Stark emerged, trailed by an impassive figure  
in red and gold armor. "Julia, can you . . ." he fingered his tie. He  
was a handsome man, with neatly trimmed mustache and goatee, short  
black hair, and light blue eyes that twinkled with mischief. He had  
an athletic build and an aquiline nose.

"Honestly," she huffed, her fingers a blur. "You build wonders of  
engineering, work on the other side of cutting edge, control a  
worldwide company, but the great Tony Stark cannot tie a tie."

"We all have a weakness, Julia."

She poked him lightly in the chest. "You have two, Tony, remember that."

He nodded, and hefted the silver and gold cane in his hand. "All  
right, Julia, let's change the world, shall we?" He grinned boyishly  
and she felt herself smile back.

"Let's" she agreed.
------------------------------

The stage was set up on the waterfront. The backdrop was a single  
curtain with the Stark Enterprises logo. In front of it, TV cameras  
and news crews were nearly ten deep. A row of chairs held local  
dignitaries.

With slow, steady steps, Stark walked onto the stage, cane in hand.  
When he reached the center, he stopped and turned to face the crowd.

"Ladies and gentlemen," he intoned, gesturing with the cane, "My name  
is Tony Stark. I am the CEO of Stark Enterprises and I want to  
welcome you . . . to the future." Behind him, a holographic  
projection of a massive complex appeared. "What you are seeing is the  
first of twelve planned space elevators. We intend to have all twelve  
up and running by the middle of this century. Within our lifetimes!"

The crowd began to murmur excitedly.

"For those who don't know," Stark continued, "a space elevator is  
exactly that, an elevator from here, to space. The economic potential  
is enormous. Tourism, cheap, quick, ground to space travel, and most  
importantly, jobs. Lots and lots of jobs."

The murmurs turn to excited conversations. Japan, fighting a  
recession, needed this kind of shot in the arm.

"As I speak, ladies and gentlemen," Stark said, hands behind his  
back, "shuttles in Russia, China and the United States are preparing  
for launch. Onboard each of the three shuttles is a module, which,  
when combined, with form a space factory and docking port that will  
eventually become the primary space side of the elevator. In the  
meantime, construction will begin here in Japan on a complex the  
likes of which have never been undertaken before. A sprawling  
artificial island housing hotels, a resort, an amusement park,  
shopping and homes, linked to the mainland by a suspended monorail, a  
bridge, and ferries. An Island that will be open to the public in six  
months." More excited murmurs.

At the edge of the stage, a short, broadshouldered man built like a  
gorilla turned his head to look at Julia Carpenter.

"Anthony seems to be promising quite a bit," he observed. "I confess  
to concerns that his capabilities to fill them are hollow."

"Don't worry about that, Doctor McCoy," Julia said, "One thing Tony  
does is deliver his promises. The island will be ready when he says  
it is, even if he has to pick up a toolbelt and do it himself."

"Now," Stark said with a smile, leaning on his cane. "You may be  
wondering how I can make these promises. Surely even the most modern  
construction machines and methods aren't that good. And you're right.  
They aren't. But at Stark Enterprises, we're about solutions and  
building the future. In order to accomplish these goals. Stark  
Enterprises has constructed a new type of system, operable by one  
person, and allows them to do the work of a crane, cement mixer,  
welder, riveter, and basic carpenter." He paused. "We could have made  
it look like anything, but, and I hope you'll forgive us, but once  
Japan was selected as the primary site, we couldn't help ourselves.  
Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you, THE VULCAN!"

The backdrop fell away, revealing a three-story tall rounded  
rectangle with arms and legs and the murmurs burst into an excited  
roar. It was a mecha, an honest to god, mecha.

"And to answer your next question, yes it can walk and run, no it  
can't do Karate, though I'm assured that that one's on the drawing  
table." Stark grinned and the crowd laughed appreciably. "What you  
are seeing here is the general purpose Vulcan, which, for the initial  
phase of construction, is all we need. Speciality Vulcans for the  
underwater phase are currently in production at Stark Japan. Now for  
the good news. We break ground in two weeks. If you can drive a car  
and operate a cell phone, you can drive a Vulcan. But, we also need  
people for driving trucks, carrying, engineers, contractors,  
plumbers, everything. Hiring starts tonight at 7pm in the parking lot  
of this hotel. This is the future, ladies and gentlemen, let's build  
it." There was the roar of applause." Stark accepted a glass from a  
uniformed waiter and held it up. "To Japan. Land of the rising sun,  
the birthplace of the next chapter in human history." He drank. "Now,  
I'm going to turn the floor over to Doctor Henry McCoy, the senior  
chief of research at Stark Japan, and Julia Carpenter, the Chief  
Financial Officer for Stark Enterprises worldwide. They'll answer all  
your questions and provide more details. Thank you."

Stark limped off the stage and sighed. He could use a drink.

"Nice speech."

Tony looked up. Standing by the edge of the stage was a man in some  
kind of uniform. He was big, but not too tall. His hair was gray and  
he wore an eyepatch. A cigar was in his hand. Next to him was a much  
bigger man in civvies, but he held himself like a soldier. They both  
did. The second man could have stepped off a recruiting poster.  
Broadshouldered, square jaw, piercing blue eyes and wavy blond hair  
cut short. But there was no mistaking the eyes. Soldier's eyes.

"Not interested," Tony said. "I'm out of the weapons business, so  
whoever you are, whatever military you're with, take a hike." He  
turned to go when the eyepatched man said a name and Tony froze.

He knew that name. It drove him like a whip, even deeper than his own  
sense of responsibility. He'd never spoken it aloud, not to anyone.  
The few who did know it were dead.

Slowly, he turned on his heel, anger in his eyes. "Where did you hear  
that name?"

The eyepatched man simply smirked and lit his cigar. "You said,  
'whoever you are'. Well, Stark, I'm the guy who knows that name. Just  
like I know he died in a cave in a backwater shithole, giving you the  
chance you needed to escape and go from Tony Stark, playboy weapons  
manufacturer, to Tony Stark, playboy philanthropist. Just like I know  
that that little piece of circuitry wired into your chest and cardiac  
arteries is his design and the only thing between you and a very  
nasty heart attack." He took three quick steps and poked Tony in the  
chest. "That's who I am."

A metal clad hand grabbed the eyepatched man's wrist. "Please step  
away from Mr. Stark, sir," the red and gold figure said. "If you do  
not comply, I will use force." It shoved the eyepatched man backwards  
a few steps.

"Thank you, Iron Man," Tony said and brushed at his tie. "I've cut  
all ties with the military, friend," he laid no particular emphasis  
on the last word, but there was no mistaking the ice in his tone. "So  
secrets or no, I've got nothing to say to you."

"Oh, but this isn't about you, Stark," the eyepatched man replied.  
"It's about your red and gold alter-ego standing there at your  
shoulder. Nice A.I. by the way. If I didn't know better, I'd swear  
there really was someone inside that metal tuxedo."

"Iron Man is a highly trained handpicked operative," Tony shot back.

"I gotta hand it to you, Stark, you got a mind for details. Jordan  
Black has a driver's license, pays his taxes, maintains a bank  
account, even buys stuff with a credit card. Funny thing, though.  
He's an orphan and the orphanage he was at burned down, his school  
had a fire in the records room, and even the flight school he went to  
has gone belly up. Every computer record says he's real, but yet, try  
to find a hard copy, and poof! Nothing. Now, that means either Jordy- 
boy is a fake, or just happens to be a one in a billion chance that  
his paper trail got wiped out. Be a heck of a coincidence, but then  
as a dictator I know likes to point out, coincidence is a crutch for  
those who can't walk the path of fate unaided."

Tony stared at him. "Who the hell are you?"

The eyepatched man smiled. "Colonel Nick Fury, senior field commander  
for the Strategic Hazardous Espionage and Intelligence Directorate."  
He indicated the blonde man. "This here's Steve Rogers. The two of  
you are going to be working closely from now on, so I'd suggest you  
start being friends. When you're done schmoozing, Stark, I'd  
appreciate it if you'd join me in your rooms for a briefing on your  
new part time job." He gave Tony a mock salute and wandered off.

Tony watched him go and looked at Rogers. "Just met him and I already  
hate him. What's your story?"

"Volunteered for a secret experiment to create a super soldier,"  
Rogers replied. He had a deep bass that nontheless was gentle without  
losing authority. In fact, he wore it like a suit so casually, it was  
simply part of who he was. "Fell out of an exploding plane into  
arctic waters and spent the past sixty years in suspended animation."

Tony considered that. "Used to build weapons. Got a special pacemaker  
that keeps shrapnel from entering my heart and killing me. It was a  
wake up call." He tapped his cane on the ground. "You know Fury long?"

Rogers looked at him. "I knew him sixty years ago, Mr. Stark. I  
fought alongside him and his squad several times during the war. He  
hasn't aged at all."

"That's a neat trick," Tony reflected and then clapped Rogers on the  
shoulder. "Why don't we go find some beers and talk about it?"

"I'm not much of a drinker, Mr. Stark."

"Don't worry, you'll learn. And call me Tony."


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