CCC #100 WRITERS CHALLENGE

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silverspidey

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#1  Edited By silverspidey

WELCOME TO THE 100TH CCC WRITERS CHALLENGE!

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It is my honor to host this milestone challenge. This is the 100th CCC Challenge and we have been around for 100 Years (No we haven't but digitally, its equivalent and we're saying it so deal with it) and we are celebrating big time!

In reflection, past CCC's have been on a variety of themes.

Character Creations like Celebrity SuperHeroes.

Unique Weapons.

Villians for Danger Man

My hope for our 100th, is the present an epic topic as epic as us reaching 100.

It is my sincere hope that the topic challenge will be both equally challenging and fun! So, here is.

*drumroll please...*

TOPIC - DYSTOPIAN FUTURE/APOCALYPTIC EVENT

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Rules:

The Tale must be of any character doing one of following, not necessarily all:

1. Surviving a dystopian future

2. Escaping an Apocalyptic future/past or whatever

3. Witnessing the start of an apocalyptic future.

How the event occurs, why it occurs, when it occurs....is up to you.

The voting rules:

  • READ the stories, PICK your favorite one, and CAST your VOTE!
  • If you wrote, you should vote! (It's just sporting)
  • No voting for yourself. (Also sporting)
  • The CONTEST DEADLINE Sunday, July 12th @11:59PM New York time (click the link if you're unsure).
  • Remember: All are welcome to vote, and the winner....gets heavy brass Pulitzer Award (image) that has not been copied off the website in any suspicious manner....as a prize. ALSO, bragging rights to all other readers.

If this be the final CCC, maybe it be known as the best last hoorah of its type and a firm spit in the eye to all those poozers and Rancor smelling womp rats who say Fan Fiction isn't legitimate

Lastly, a firm loud shout to @tommythehitman, @batkevin74 & @cbishop for keeping this topic alive for as long as its been, for keeping the writers spirit alive and for championing the joy of writing in a digital age.

To all them and all those who continue to support, I salute you.

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#3  Edited By wildvine

@silverspidey: We normally have the contest deadline before and separate of the vote deadline. The duration of each is up to you, but we do need a contest deadline

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lol... Oddly enough, I think I thought of an idea today (before I saw this) that will work for this.

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@silverspidey: Must not allow Last Of Us to influence me to much...

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good luck everyone

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An Epic...

Craddock’s Paddock, Dimiedo City

Gary Fish wandered into the rebuilt bar and whistled. The owner Oscar Craddock rolled his eyes at the dwarf and waved him to the bar. “Nice to see you too, Gary.”

“How is it that after all that insurance money from when this place burnt down…”

“That you caused!”

“Being attacked by a Ghaddar was not my fault!”

Oscar gave his hand a noncommittal waver of his hand as walked behind the bar, grabbed a bottle of tequila and gave it a flourish. “This ones on me.”

“A free drink for saving your life, don’t I feel special.” Gary climbed up the barstool. He ran his hands across the bar. “Silveroak, very nice.”

“Can’t be too careful here in Dimiedo,” Oscar remarked as he filled the glasses with soda. Cheers!”

The bell on the entry rang getting both of their attention. Timidly Irving Welles, the former mayor of Dimiedo City, crept into the bar. Gary cheered and raised his glass. “Welcome back Killer!”

“Leave it, Gary.” Oscar hushed.

Irving scurried to a booth and blended into the corner. Oscar took over a bottle of gin and a glass for the man who caved in the skull of Ari Vysokovic. Gary sipped his drink and looked at Irving; they locked eyes, Gary nodded in respect and they returned to their regular silence. Oscar moved around the refurbished bar cleaning the tables.

“Oscar?” Gary raised his glass and waggled it. Suddenly a weird black vortex opened in the middle of the room. “Best make it a double.”

Standing in the room was a handsome man in a red and blue suit holding a mallet. Around his neck was a yellow brooch and rings to make Liberace jealous on his fingers. Standing beside him was another young man dressed in hessian sacks that crackled with sparks of electricity.

“If you wreck this bar, I will &*&%$g kill you!” Gary said as he jumped off the stool and walked towards them. “So…?”

“Hi, I’m Daniel Warstar,” his face lit up in a genuine smile. “Do you shake hands here or…?”

Gary stretched out his hand. “Nice hammer.”

“Thanks, it’s Asgardian. This is my new friend Barallen,” Warstar looked around. “This place smells amazing.”

“Thanks,” Oscar smiled. “Drink?”

“Ale please,” said Barallen as he looked around like a wild-eyed child. “Where are we?”

“Dimiedo,” Gary said.

Barallen shrugged. “How close to Ekbir City is that?”

“This might sound a bit strange, but I need you to help me save a universe,” Daniel said as he waved away the beer Oscar pushed his way. “Oh no thank you, don’t drink and dimensional teleport.”

“You need me?” Oscar gasped. “I’m just a bartender.”

“Not you, idiot!” Gary snipped. “Or is it?”

Daniel Warstar smiled. “Gary Fish, I need your help.”

“How’d you know my name?”

Daniel tapped the gold amulet around his neck. “Eye of Agamotto, its very handy, sometimes.”

Gary grunted and pulled out one of the new chairs. “Daily rate is one hundred fifty plus expenses, seven days retainer.”

Daniel tilted his head. “I’m not from around here. My world has credits transferred to I-Dent cards.”

The room filled with a brown whirl, napkins flew about as everyone’s hair got mussed and the bell rang. Before the bell jangled a second time Barallen was back in the room holding a hotdog. “By Heironeous, this massive land is crazier than a bag of cats!”

“Is that a Pink’s hotdog?” Gary asked looking at the giant Jalapeno Dog in his hand. “They’re in L.A.”

Barallen shrugged as he chomped down on his food.

“My rate just went up,” Gary murmured as motioned to Oscar for the tequila. “Danny is it?”

“Daniel,” Warstar corrected. “Danny makes me sound like a kid.”

“Aren’t you?”

__

Gary nursed his tequila and soda as more strangers entered the bar via Daniel Warstar’s portal. A weird looking guy who gave off vampire vibes, a large Scottish man dressed like he belonged in a Jane Austin period piece, another man in military attire like he’d stepped out of a cartoon, a woman who’d mashed together Native American and Neanderthal culture and an androgynous person wearing Japanese clothing over bionic parts.

“Everyone!” Daniel Warstar stood up on a table much to Oscar’s dismay and addressed the group. “Hi! My name is Daniel, Sorcerer Supreme of my dimension. I’ve gathered you all here because there’s a problem of apocalyptic proportions that requires your help. Seems someone here on Gary’s Earth, that’s Gary over there. He’s the…detective medium; this is his reality.”

“Welcome,” Gary raised his glass.

“Someone has gotten a hold of all the pieces of The Griffin Cube,” Daniel waved his hands and conjured a magical slideshow to accompany his story. “It’s a stone box that contains magical power that it’ll blow your starking mind. It can undo the fabric of reality.”

“Why did’ya choose me?” Argyle Crane asked in his booming Scottish voice.

“Good question, Mr. Crane. You were all chosen because your realities immediately surround this one. Look at this, we’re all here in Gary’s universe. Each of your Earth or universe is adjacent to his.”

“I haven’t a clue what you’re talking about!” Argyle replied.

“Also, I had a dream and visit from Doctor Strange telling me that you were all vital to stop this. If the Griffin Cube is assembled, it’ll begin a chain of events that’ll lead this world to an apocalyptic future, a dystopian nightmare.”

“You mean worse than Trump running the country?” Gary laughed.

“I don’t know who that is…?” Daniel crinkled his face. “Is he like your version of the Supreme Commander; an immortal nutcage with an army of iron men?”

“We could call in the rest of the Joes.”

Daniel shook his head. “Not according to my dream, Sea Eagle…that’s right isn’t it, or should I call you…”

“Sea Eagle is fine.”

“So, you’re my strike team. You’re going to after the Griffin Cube and stop it being assembled.”

“You have others?” The blue samurai asked.

“Yes, Lady Gunsword. I’ve also got the Protectorate of Time involved because this is totally their thing.”

“Protectorate of Time? Sounds like one of my bad novels.”

“I wish it were just a story, Mr. Kevin,” Daniel said. “Because if this happens, it’ll permeate and spread into your universes and essentially create a multiversal black hole. Everything you, you, you and me know will be sucked into oblivion.”

“What do you want us to do?”

“Well, Princess of Wolves, I need you prevent the Cube being assembled.”

“Why don’t you do it with your magic, Danny-boy?” Gary suggested. “And my rate just tripled.”

The whole bar shook if it was a cocktail in the hands of a champion barman. Barallen was out and back in seconds.

“By Heironeous’ eyes! Giants! On giant horses!!” He yelled.

“That’s why!” Daniel said to Gary and they all rushed outside. Standing unfathomably tall were four gargantuan horsemen upon massive beasts. “Right, you guys find the Cube and I’ll deal with the end of the world.”

Daniel took to the sky towards the giants leaving the group on the cracked road.

“Oh Lord Jesus!” muttered Argyle at the sight, crossing himself.

“I need to know what each and every single one of you can do, and I need to know now,” ordered Lady Gunsword.

“Vampire…” Mr. Kevin muttered.

“%$^##g knew it!” Gary gloated. “Alcoholic detective with minor psychic abilities.”

“I wield the Demon’s Fang,” Princess of Wolves declared holding the weapon forged from the heart of a star aloft.

“Codename: Sea Eagle of the G.I Joe’s, serial number: AUS33786CC. Airborne Infantry with demolitions and unarmed combat classifications, ma’am.”

“Argyle Crane of Inverness. I can fight.”

“I’m Barallen. I was hit with lightning. Then doused in magical elixirs that makes me run faster than any horse.”

Lady Gunsword rubbed her chin as she pondered the situation. “Warstar has told us nothing about the Cube’s location. Barallen…”

“Yes milady.”

“You will take our psychic friend, Gary, on a search. You’re our best hope at locating it.”

“As you wish,” Barallen bowed and grabbed Gary like he’d carry a pig to market.

“Put me down you high speed hill billYYYYYYYYYYYY!” Gary and Barallen whooshed away at hyper speed, gone between the blinks of an eye.

“Princess, you and I will be on point. Sea Eagle, you will secure us aerial transport. Mr. Kevin, you will locate any weapons that we coul…”

“..YYYYY!” Gary screamed as he and Barallen returned.

“Milady, there is some sort of sorceress across the way, constructing something strange,” Barallen puffed. “Does anyone have something to eat?”

Mr. Kevin rubbed his chin. “Barella?”

“Barallen,” the medieval speedster corrected.

“Was this sorceress wearing purple?”

“Aye.”

“Raven hair, alabaster skin, claw mark upon her chin…”

“Aye!”

“Oh,” Mr. Kevin was a bit shocked.

“What is it man?” Argyle snapped. “Speak!”

Mr. Kevin glared at the Scotsman with half a mind to chomp into his neck and drink his blood. “The woman’s name is Astrid Kasdeya, a witch of immense power and ambition.”

“How would you know that?” Princess of Wolves asked edging forward, enchanted dagger at the ready.

“Because I created her in my third novel, Spellkissed Seductress,” Mr. Kevin explained. “She’s a character.”

“Well your woman is making something glowy and nasty,” Gary added. “From the brief glimpse I got thanks to Smelly Gonzales. So, spill!”

Mr. Kevin gulped. “Well, if she’s here then we are all doomed.”

Lady Gunsword frowned. “Explain?”

“She’s a generational witch. Her mother was a high witch, her father an archwizard. Her grandparents were sorcerers, mages, dragons and druids which condens…”

“You dribble nonsense!” Argyle roared. “Let us go to her and stop this!”

“She’s my big bad!” Mr. Kevin retorted. “I made her, so she’d be able to come back novel after novel.”

“And somehow your book has come to life and is going to end the universes…” Sea Eagle almost couldn’t believe what he was saying. “We’d better do something because that doesn’t look….” Sea Eagle gazed up at the four unbelievably huge giants as Warstar, who looked like a firefly in comparison, took them on. “Is he fighting them all by himself?”

“Then we should do our part. Mr. Kevin, you will tell us EVERYTHING about your creation, spare no detail,” Lady Gunsword told them. “And if you are the cause of this, I will cut your head off. Are we clear?”

Mr. Kevin tensed at the threat and nodded.

__

Doubleday City Museum of Antiquities

Barallen transported the newly formed group to where he’d located the sorceress during his highspeed search. On the horizon several hundred miles away the giants were fighting a pinpoint of light, it seemed Daniel Warstar was holding off the apocalypse singlehandedly. Carefully and cautiously, the ragtag group of interdimensional heroes snuck into the museum. Sea Eagle took point, followed by Argyle Crane, Mr. Kevin and Gary Fish in the middle whilst Lady Gunsword and Princess of Wolves took the rear.

“Should we spread out or just follow the pulsing green light?” Gary said sarcastically as he pulled out a black tube. Barallen and Argyle looked at the strange device. “It’s an electro-bean tube, fires a charged bean bag for non-lethal takedowns. It’s illegal in most countries.”

“Guys have a look at this,” Sea Eagle pointed over the railing to the centre of the Museum where a column of swirling green energy took up the room. “Everyone spread out, if we surround her, we’ll have a tactical advantage.”

Quickly as they could they took up positions on the upper level looking down on Astrid Kasdeya in the centre of the maelstrom, grinning malevolently.

“Griffin Cubes! Give me your power!” She yelled at several stone boxes floating around her and the room, each stone container oozing out mystical energies.

Barallen zipped over to Lady Gunsword spoke and was back in position. “IthoughtWarstarsaidthattherewasonlyoneGriffinCubeandthiswitchhassixofthem?”

Lady Gunsword looked over at Gary and tapped her temple, hoping he’d pick up what she was indicating. Gary rolled his eyes and mouthed “My powers don’t work like that.”

“Oh, enough of this,” Argyle Crane muttered as he drew his out his blunderbuss and flintlock. “WITCH! YOU WILL STOP!”

Astrid looked up at the Scotsman leaping off the balcony at her. She smiled and waved her hand catching him in magical strands as if he were a marionette. “No, I shan’t.”

Mr. Kevin couldn’t help but feel pride at seeing his creation come to life when Sea Eagle stood up and opened fire with his Steyr AUG pumping twenty or so rounds at her. Astrid held her hand up turning the projectiles into wisps of smoke.

“ATTACK!” yelled Lady Gunsword as she also leapt into the fray. Gary fired his electric bean bag as Barallen charged in to pummel her. Astrid snapped her fingers and stopped time around her.

“How very interesting,” she mused at the chaos around her. “I collect six different Griffin Cubes from six differing realities, and THESE are the champions sent to defend them? A midget, a soldier, a noble, a runner, a swordswoman, a native and…”

“Don’t move! Protectorate of Time!” P.O.T Emissary Regina Pace of the Kvaronjara Causality Squad stepped out a shimmering portal pointing her quarkonium rifle at the witch. Behind her the three other members of her squad were locked and loaded. “You are an unauthorised time stopper!”

“GNATS!” Astrid fired lightning from her fingers causing them to jump for their lives. “You dare tell me to stop when I stand on the edge of godhood? Insignificant meddling insects!”

Regina rolled and returned fire. “Pace to Homeworld.”

“Go ahead Pace.”

“That tip we got from that Warstar kid is true. Send reinforcements.”

“Affirmative, locking down timeline for insertion of backup.”

Astrid swished her hands about flinging energies unbelievable across the room whilst simultaneously keeping time at a standstill. From the balcony Mr. Kevin watched his creation proudly as for some reason he was unaffected by the chronal stop.

“You’re going to have to stop her,” P.O.T Emissary Rysa Bracken of the Forecast Team said softly to him as she rested a firm hand on his shoulder. “Rysa Bracken, Protectorate of Time Emissary. Nice to meet you Mr. Kevin, or do you prefer Chris?”

“How…you need to explain this to me?” Mr Kevin replied. “One minute I was at home drinking blood, writing my novella and now…”

“Astrid broke the 5th wall,” Rysa explained as she opened up her visor. “You made her powerful and she took her reality to the next level…which isn’t the P.O.T’s department, but as soon as she broke the time barrier, that’s where we come in. My job is on the Forecast Team which views and reviews alternate timelines to prevent things like Heller Wave’s and Sphinx Spirals…and looking at your face you have no idea what I’m talking about, and that’s okay. What you need to do is decide what you’re going to do?”

“You’ve seen what I’m going to do, haven’t you?”

“To some degree. Here is what we called a Schrodinger Nexus. It’s where time splits into two, one happens, and the other doesn’t. I’ve seen both as both are valid branches.”

“Is this like that cat in a box logic puzzle?”

“Very much so. Both timelines are valid and real until you make a choice.”

Mr. Kevin watched as Astrid dealt harshly with the P.O.T team sent to stop her; fireballs, ice knives, spectral tigers, crimson chains, wave after wave of seemingly endless spells from her fingertips.

“What should I do?” he pleaded with her.

“I’m not allowed to tell you,” Rysa said. “But if you’re going with timeline B; that is saving this universe and the dozen around it with minimal loss of life then you’re going to need to take Demon’s Fang dagger from the Princess and introduce it to Astrid Kasdeya.”

“And timeline A?”

“A dystopian hell dimension on the edge of a new super massive black hole that swallows forty different realities and ushers in an apocalyptic nightmare the likes you can’t really imagine.”

“And those giant things outside?”

“The Judeo-Christian horsemen of the Apocalypse. They were coming to this world anyway to usher in the end of days. It’s purely coincidental that Astrid picked this reality to assemble all the Griffin Cubes from across the multiverse.”

“So even if I stop Astrid, this world, which isn’t mine, gets destroyed by God’s henchmen.”

“For want of a better analogy, yes.” Rysa glanced at her wrist chronometer. “You need to make a choice, Chris. And not making a choice is a choice.”

Mr. Kevin rubbed his temples in frustration. It was hard enough being a vampiric writer, now he was going to have to either kill or not kill his greatest creation that had somehow birthed itself. The P.O.T emissaries were being overwhelmed by a summoned swarm of undead kangaroos as the Griffin Cubes began to shudder and shake.

“Fine, but how do I stop the giants.”

Rysa shrugged as she stepped through a shimmering portal. “You don’t.”

Mr. Kevin sighed as he slowly made his way towards Astrid. He knew her better than he knew himself. He plucked the Princess’ dagger from her time frozen fingers and snuck around behind the witch.

“You will all be flayed and made to eat your own entrails!” Astrid hissed as the undead roos brought the P.O.T team to their knees. “How dare you!”

Mr. Kevin looked at the dagger, gripped it tight and stepped in front of Astrid.

“What sorcery is this?” she gasped.

“Astrid Kasdeya, ninth warlord of Gronminh, eternal ruler of all, I pledge my allegiance to you!” Mr. Kevin knelt and held up the enchanted weapon. “I am your humble servant.”

Astrid eyed the vampire suspiciously as she took the weapon. “How do you know me?”

“I…” Mr. Kevin thought hard before lurching forward and sinking his fangs deep into her alabaster neck. “…am sorry.”

Astrid screamed and flailed as the vampire locked on as a pit-bull does. The witch screamed and fired spell and enchantment at him, but he refused to let go. Blood gushed from her jugular as he drained her life. Astrid grabbed his head and cast a spell of disintegration turning his head to a fine dust. Mr. Kevin’s headless corpse fell to the ground, as did the bleeding witch. Astrid gasped as her fingers glowed yellow as she began a healing spell.

“I think not witch.”

Astrid looked up at the angry Scotsman above her, blunderbuss pointed at her face. BOOM! White flesh and red blood showered Argyle Crane and all those around.

“Jesus!” cried Gary Fish who copped a torrent of blood. “Thanks a lot!”

Everyone slowly gathered around her corpse and that of Mr. Kevin’s.

“Did we win?” The Princess of Wolves asked hesitantly.

__

Ma & Pa’s Pancake Place, New York City

“So, you just made them intangible and invisible?” Lady Gunsword as she cut into her pancake stack with her sword.

“I didn’t know how else to stop the end of this world, so I ghosted them!” Daniel shrugged as he magically summoned the syrup from the other end of the table. “I asked them several times to stop.”

“You mean to tell me that they’re still there, trying to usher in the end of the world, but can’t…” Gary tapped his knife on his teeth. “That’s cruel and awesome. Well done.”

“Can I have some more please, milady?” Barallen held his plate up to Ma as she passed the table. “These are the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten.”

“Did we witness and prevent the end of the world?” Sea Eagle asked Rysa Bracken who was next to him.

“You sure did. Now everyone hurry up and eat, you’ve got to get back to your own timelines because the paperwork on this case is going to be horrendous enough as it is.”

Everyone laughed.

__

Epilogue

Spellkissed Seductress Chapter 3

Astrid’s lineage was powerful and very long; centuries. Demons, druids, enchanters, dragons, witches, psychics, warlocks, wizards, mediums all twisted via breeding and inbreeding under the watchful gaze of Rasputin Kasdeya, her immortal necromage great grandfather of sorts, who was fulfilling his part in an ancient prophecy.

Her chin was marked by the claw of an emerald manticore that she killed when she was seven as part of a trial to earn her first spellbook. By nine she’d climbed to the top of Oracle Willow to eat the peaches of enlightenment. By twelve she’d bedded the Shaman of Phorcys using darkest magics that sent that kingdom to ruins. At sixteen she and Rasputin ate her first born to secure her place in the Elder Council of Warmanchar. At each stage of her development she excelled in cruelty and power, growing in each.

Her ebony hair was like liquid darkness which was a stark contrast to her pure white skin that rivalled the marble columns of Gibraltus. Her eyes were her most striking feature. Pools of evil crimson rimmed with charcoal.

__

“That’s just bad writing,” Gary Fish remarked as he looked up from Mr. Kevin’s novel and rattled his empty glass. “Oscar!

Notes:

3525 words!!

All characters created by me in mostly previous CCC contests, except Warstar who is from Iron Age, the Protectorate fo Time which was in a shared universe with @stumpy49er called Chronos Cops, Ma & Pa's Pancake Place which is a place started in Marvel Mayhem and is slightly multidimensional, the Griffin Cube which is something I wrote in the RPG forums, and Astrid who is the original character for the piece.

Links to where they came from are below and links made on the initial appearance in the story

https://comicvine.gamespot.com/forums/fan-fic-8/marvel-iron-age-warstar-651486/ Daniel Warstar

https://comicvine.gamespot.com/forums/fan-fic-8/ccc-87-occult-detectives-2028261/ Gary Fish

https://comicvine.gamespot.com/forums/fan-fic-8/cc-contest-73-1947445/#11 Argyle Crane

https://comicvine.gamespot.com/forums/fan-fic-8/ccc-80-vampire-1982222/ Mr Kevin

https://comicvine.gamespot.com/forums/fan-fic-8/character-creation-contest-18-1505868/#8

Barallen

https://comicvine.gamespot.com/forums/fan-fic-8/character-creation-contest-15-1490183/?page=2 Sea Eagle aka Jeremy Tamm

https://comicvine.gamespot.com/forums/fan-fic-8/character-creation-contest-2-fan-fic-edition-702664/?page=1#div_shout_post_8362136 Princess of Wolves

https://comicvine.gamespot.com/forums/fan-fic-8/character-creation-contest-32-1616176/#72

Lady Gunsword

https://comicvine.gamespot.com/forums/rpg-9/the-griffin-cube-adventure-743591/ The Griffin Cube

https://comicvine.gamespot.com/forums/fan-fic-8/ccc-25-a-villain-for-raven-diablo-agent-of-kali-vo-1559287/#1

https://comicvine.gamespot.com/forums/fan-fic-8/ccc-89-create-a-villain-for-danger-man-2038502/ Doubleday City

https://comicvine.gamespot.com/forums/fan-fic-8/chronos-cops-the-protectorate-of-time-1-1870737/

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cbishop

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@batkevin74: Dude, that is freakin' awesome! I am tempted to not compete against it! But I will. I have to start on mine tonight. Finally decided who's in it today. :)

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Hulk_Like_Fire

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@batkevin74: Yo bro, I am totally confused, can you tell me what to do?

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batkevin74

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@hulk_like_fire: it’s a fan fix competition where you write a story (see the above for specific elements it has to have) and post it here. Fun, free and fantastic and we’d love you to give it a whirl!

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@batkevin74: thanks for the clarification. I'll have it by tomorrow.

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IfDCRuledTheWorld

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Cool. Will try to have it in by Saturday.

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silverspidey

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i'm running into the deadline date, but i'll get mine in by Sunday.

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The Unnamed Vampire

I really hate zombies.

It’s not just because I’m a vampire and hate everything that’s different from me (I do) but it’s because those selfish, inconsiderate cretins have no concern for anybody else when it comes to the matters of fine dining.

I don’t know how the outbreak started, just a few hundred years ago those brain dead skullmunchers were nothing! Barely a couple hundred of them on the whole planet but now? Now there’s 300 million of them in America alone and almost certainly more on the way. I can’t open my curtains at night without seeing those cretins lurking around in the street outside, their jaws gaping dumbly as they look at me. The same thing always happens, they see that I have no nutritious value and stalk off in search of more nourishing prey.

It goes the same way, I’ve tasted zombie blood before, and it is disgusting. It’s been centuries since I last felt the desire for human food but if I had to compare it to something the blood of one of those cretins would taste like a sheep’s tongue mixed with liquid feces.

That’s why I’m lucky. Well. Was lucky. Most of the other vampires I know have starved to death, no tears shed there though since they were all right bastards. I had a marvellous idea a few decades ago to work the night shift in one of those Blood Banks, they care greatly for their blood these humans and I don’t blame them! It was quite difficult at first. They kept a close eye on their stock before all those bloodbags died so I had to get used to taking less blood than I needed, just sipping teensy bits from the various vials they keep refrigerated.

Cold blood is wonderfully refreshing, even more so than blood from a beating heart but warm blood that’s been shed is foul. If I had to pick a favourite flavour, I’d pick AB Negative, just a pity that it’s so rare. Tastes like a fine wine and I’m slobbering just thinking about it.

So, when the apocalypse happened, I was fine. I suppose it had to be zombies really. Werewolves aren’t organized enough to pull it off, mummies are overrated and if we vampires conquered the world it’d be like shooting ourselves in the foot really, which I suppose is exactly what the zombie population did.

Sometimes when I’ve nothing better to do I go to the roof of the Blood Bank and laugh at them while drinking. Not sure if you’re aware but scientists have theorized that zombies moan as a form of communication with one another, that’s a load of bollocks. The reason why zombies moan (I learned this from a friend) is because they’re hungry, trust humans to overthink every bloody thing.

So, a few months have passed now since humanity fell. I was loving life, sleeping in as late as I want and all that. I moved my coffin to the Blood Bank’s basement as soon as things kicked off, it seemed the thing to do. It wasn’t until the other day that a problem occurred that I had not foreseen.

All the blood had gone off.

I suppose those inconsiderate humans that run the government decided to cut the city’s power in an attempt to save energy! Pathetic fools, they’ll all be dead within a year mark my words. If those idiots can’t even handle a zombie apocalypse it’s a good thing that none of the more capable creatures roaming the night decided to give the old apocalypse show a go.

So, then I was stuck. Sure, the blood was still drinkable but it’s warm! I can’t go back to the filthy sludge of warm blood after spending decades drinking in cold blood paradise!

But it seems lady luck was on my side.

I was on the roof just a few hours before dawn, glass of disgustingly warm blood in hand and a sad expression on my face. The moans of those brainless cretins was flowing up from the streets below but I’ve grown so used to it that I’m able to ignore it.

Only something caught my attention.

The zombies’ moaning had stopped, replaced instead by the quiet fury that fills those beasts once they catch the scent of food.

I stared at them in amazement and watched those fools shamble almost excitedly down the street. I sniffed the air and a flicker of excitement passed over me.

The scent of fresh blood filled my nostrils.

A most devilish smile crossed my face and for the first time in awhile I sprouted my fangs. There’s a bit of confusion amongst the meatbags about whether we vampires need our fangs to actually drink blood, we don’t. We only use our fangs if we’re biting a victim, makes it easy to drink while the blood is still fresh.

Even though I hadn’t used my powers properly since I joined the Blood Bank the use of them never faded from my mind. I stepped towards the edge of the roof and immediately felt the different parts of my body, shift and form into a flock of fluttering bats. The bats aren’t actually real, just an illusion conjured up to make my movement all the easier. It’s wonderfully convenient for getting to places quickly in the dead of night.

Following the horde and the scent of blood I saw them. A cluster of survivors situated in an alleyway. The poor things seemed utterly pathetic, surrounded from all sides and standing atop a dumpster.

What delicious prey they would be.

Transforming back into my material form I descended towards the horde below, not content with sharing my meal with the carnivorous cretins that have unintentionally made my life a living hell recently.

I was never one for physical combat, but when fighting zombies one doesn’t have to be. I dropped down into the middle of the horde; all of the cretins ignored me due to my own membership as one of the undead. The scent of those lovely human survivors filled my nose and in that moment gave me fury.

My fists flew as quick as lightning, the heads of my victims flew with them. It was effortless, easy and in a matter of minutes the last remnants of this vast horde were nothing more than black splatters against my fist.

A wonderful scent caught my attention, the tantalizing smile of AB negative blood.

‘You… you saved us!’ One of the survivors exclaimed, shock on his face. A smile crossed mine.

‘Did I?’ I asked.

Ah, what a wonderful life I lead.

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#26  Edited By cbishop

Well, crud. Mine's about half written, and I am out of steam. Have to go to bed so I can get up for work later. I'll have a little less than two hours to write when I get home from work. See you guys at the finish line! ...I hope. <gulp>

Just don't go pulling the entries early- I'm going to need every last second tonight. :^/

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And Further Still

Catha had rarely been so close to one of the Reds, they were even more imposing up close. Taller than her such that she had to crank her neck to look up at him, as he walked passed her. Clad in an intricate crimson carapace, high tech pulse armor that hummed as it distorted the air around him.

It wasn't long ago that the Reds stayed in their cities. Their homes were impossibly tall, technological towers patched together with the remnant of the structures built by the old ones. A testament of their lavish lifestyles.

The Reds had always used villages like hers. Though they forced them to grow crops and mine their caves to provide resources for the Reds and the entirety of they're cities. They allowed the rest of her people to live in relative peace.

For generations that is all that was required of Catha and her people. They grew into one of two roles created to serve the Reds. Miners or farmers, but in more recent years the role of soldier, at least for the men, was added to that list. As a young girl her teachers taught her of the war between the Reds and those from their homeworld. The proof of which was something they only saw in rare clear nights. Ships battling above the sky would flicker like dim stars. That was a long time ago however. Years before she was born the battles began to grow closer, and could now be heard at any time, like thunder cracking loudly from a blue sky.

She trailed sheepishly behind the Red into the town square. A crowd had already formed, three more Reds, these in less ornate armor, turned suddenly to greet the Red she had followed in.

"He must be in charge", she thought to herself as she joined the crowd.

The Red leader crossed his arms behind his back before floating slowly up above the crowd. He carefully and methodically surveyed the villagers below him before signaling to his subordinates with a quick nod.

The lower Reds stood to attention before entering the crowd. They shoved women and children out if the way as their heads dashed back and forth between the men. Their helmets flickered and flashed as they searched through the group, they shoved men to the ground at random. But when they found one of the unlucky few they'd be led into the center of the square near their leader.

She turned to look for Tilen, he stood tall in the crowd a stern look on his face, as though resigned to the inevitable. Months ago she had asked him to leave to join the rebels. Many people in her village called them zealots but the more days passed the more their words spoke to her. She'd probably join them too if her family didn't need her on the fields. At least people who joined them weren't shuttled off into space to fight a battle they didn't have a part in. It wasn't their fault that the Reds had cannibalized their home world and stripped it such that they now fought for her planet. A planet that her ancestors had respected and only taken from what was necessary or forced to by the Red invaders. She'd already lost her brother to the Reds on their previous run through the village three years ago. And although she'd hoped to see him again she knew she never would. She didn't want to lose Til too. She couldn't. Tilen however refused, he thought it was his duty if chosen, to do his part.

"If I leave and they have to chose someone else, then that person's life is on my hands. I can't do that". He'd tried to embrace her then, but she'd pulled away. He was proud to a fault and she couldn't accept his decision.

A lower Red approached Tilen and her heart lept into her throat as it scanned him. The lower Red turned away to scan the people around him before returning his gaze to Tilen and leading him into the circle with the other chosen men. Tears formed in Catha's eyes and she pushed forward into the crowd attempting to get near Til. The Reds made one final sweep as she reached him.

"I told you!" Catha wept as she grabbed onto her friends crumpled tunic. He pulled her close into him, he smelt of coal and sweat from the mines. She looked up at him, he had tears in his eyes. She couldn't recall ever seeing Tilen cry, the sight broke her.

"I told you" she repeatedly weakly.He cupped her face "I'm sorry Cat, but I had to".

She went to argue, but before she could she was pulled away and tossed back into the crowd.

"Is nuff ey?" A lower Red asked another.

"Not many shiner 'ere be guessed" another replied. Their words were mostly gibberish to her.

The final lower Red shrugged "eh, ring da bods up, topper be gonnin as is" he said nodding to their captain who had already exited the gathering.

Tilen turned to see Catha once more before being placed into the carrier. It grumbled softly as it hovered above and away from the courtyard.

She ran after it chasing it out of the village. Catha heard rustling in the field, the suddenly a number of men riding d'anos shot from the stalks and swarmed the carrier. She froze, where the rebels trying to liberate her people? Or just attempting to eliminate potential enemies?

The three Reds lept out of the carrier which did not stop on it's path out. Some of the rebels went for the carrier but wheres stopped short by the lower Reds, who zipped in the air much faster than their captain had shown possible. They pulled out whips which with a flick of their wrists hardened into large silver shining spears. The rebels light arrows sputtered on the surface of the Red's pulse armor but couldn't penetrate their shell.

A Red cut the power of his boots and fell onto the gravel path with a thud. He spun the length of his silver spear over his head taunting a rebel but when he turned his d'ano to head in his direction the Red spun quickly on his heel to avoid the lizards swiping claws and used his silver spear to skewer a rebels skull.

Catha fell back, the horrifying sight wasn't like anything she'd seen. Another rebel roared at the sight of his fallen friend and attempted to charge the Red warrior, who made no attempt to dodge. Instead he threw his spear into the throat of the quickly approaching d'ano causing it to hurl the rider off as it cried and bled its dark purple blood into the dirt. The rider slammed into the ground his makeshift armor warping from the impact. As the Red slowly approached the prone rebel. He knelt down and lifted the man by his neck.

Then out of the field an explosion followed by a loud howl grabbed the Red's attention he dropped the rebel and turned to see his comrade missing his left arm, half of his helmet was crumpled and melted. The Red in front of her reached for a blaster on his hip but before he could fire he had been impaled by his own tossed spear.

The final Red turned his attention onto the rebel with the spear and dipped down to attack him. The rebel attempted to use the spear to defend himself but he was no match for the skilled Red. A quick strike from the Red's spear caused the rebel to drop his weapon and attempt to run. The Red bent to pick up the spear. He stood, flicked his wrist returning his weapon into the state of a whip which he used to wrap around the leg of the fleeing rebel. Then with another flick caused the whip to harden severing the Rebels leg.

His pained scream was torture to Catha's ears, she'd seen enough she thought turning to leave. The rest of her village were smart enough to have hid inside their cobbled homes long before her.

Another scream caused her to turn back to the rebel, the Red had used one of his spears to pierce the man's abdomen. A second rebel came at the Red, without missing a beat he wrapped his whip around the attackers neck. Catha swallowed hard, she knew what must be coming.

The Red used his the spear to finish the rebel on the ground a swift shot through the center of his skull. Then turned his attention to the man at the end of his whip, the rebels face had begun to turn purple as he tried desperately to take a life saving breath.

"Be nest, I's shook. Not be spectin much from sum Earth bods" he said, venom in his voice.

"Yeah? Well there's more where that came from you piece of filth!" The rebel struggled to spit out.

The Red cocked his head, "Nah, thas it, least for ya tis". He made a show of straightening his arm he wanted to see the fear in the man's eyes.

Then, bang. Before he could activate his whip and decapitate the man's head. His back exploded, he'd been shot. He dropped his whip and fell to his knees. He clutched at his chest as though trying to keep the blood from escaping. Then he turned towards Catha before falling lifelessly to the ground. It was only then did she realize she was holding the fallen blaster. She didn't know when she grabbed it. But she did, she'd killed him. She killed a man.

She was going to be sick, how, why. She was going to leave, why did she stay, why did she get the blaster, how did she shoot it, why did she shoot it? The man she saved brought her out of her head by placing a hand on her shoulder.

"We have to get out of here. They'll come looking. They'll know what we did. If we stay they'll blame the town." He said standing and calling for his remaining allies.

"But I'm not part of this, I'm not one of you. I'm not a rebel."

"Sorry to tell you kid, but you are now."

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#28  Edited By silverspidey

“I hate it when it's this quiet.” she mumbles.

Her green eyes peer along the desolate avenue, waiting for movement of any sort, but finds nothing. Hidden behind an overturned car, its framed charred black from whatever fire consumed it years prior, a young woman draws a deep breath. The crisp winter air exposes the steady fog from her nose and mouth.Yet, it is not the cold that makes her fingers numb or tremble, rather its the anxiety welling in her stomach.

Pressing the earbud in her ear, she whispers in a low voice that’s barely audible to her own ears.

“This is EsperanzaOne, TigerTwo, what’s your status?” she asks, her eyes darting around the street to see if she was heard somehow.

Flicking the transceiver, the response of static. The anxiety in her stomach now weighs like brick in a plastic bag and an uncontainable pained sigh escapes her.

“Oh gawd.” she mumbles, rubbing her face as a flurry of nightmarish possibilities flood her mind.

No. She couldn’t do this. Not now. Emotions later. Stay the course of the task at hand.

Switching mental gears, the red-headed young lady rubs her gloved hands for warmth and then picks up her rifle laid next to her.

Her clothes, tattered and army green fit her loosely but thanks to the utility belt fitted around her waist with an assortment of - four knives, two hand guns, eight bullet cartridges, matte black mini bombs that resemble a cluster of grapes - she didn’t have to worry much about her clothes ‘fit’.

Letting out a steady deep breath, wishing and hoping for a reply, she starts loading her gun.

“Hope.”

The low whispering voice prompts the young woman’s to pulls out a blade from her back-sheath so quickly, it seems as if it magically appear in thin air!

However her green eyes settle on the voice, and she relaxes, slightly.

A young girl decked in a black jumpsuit with a pink bandana on her head and a metal arm shield encasing her left bicep and forearm, keeps low the ground but sprints towards her with a green sack slung over her back.

“Molly be careful.” Hope loudly whispers. The woman was as quiet as a wrestler walking across a squeaky wood floor. She tried, but stealth was not her thing.

“Last thing we need is for this to break.” Hope chides as Molly skids on her knee to her side and excitedly slings the bag off her shoulder. Carefully resting it on the ground, Hope hears the metal ‘clink’ as the bag meets the pavement.

“Seems like all went well.” Hope says.

“All did not go well.” Molly immediately corrects.

Hope’s vibrant green eyes snap open in surprise. Molly’s face turns sorrowful and her voice goes soft, “I had to leave him.”

Hope lets out a frustrated sigh before frustratingly opening the sack wide, exposing a metal cube, “Did you see if he made it out?” she asks.

Molly’s face hardens at the questions, “Would you?” she asks with bite in her tone

Shaking her head, Hope reaches in and pulls out the metal device, “Mission first.” she replies almost robotically, pulling out a knife, “No matter what I feel.” she says, resting her tearful gaze to Molly.

Both remain silent as a shared nod is exchanged. Returning her attention to the ‘goods’ Molly brought, Hope starts to pull off the sack while Molly peeks over the charred frame of the car.

Looking around, Molly gulps, “I was worried though…” she whispers, “...if they got’em, why haven’t they made a move yet?“

Using the knife tip like a screwdriver, Hope quickly starts unscrewing the top of the device, revealing a nest of wires, “Because it takes a few minutes for ‘Him’ to process all the information.” she answers. “He’s a lot bigger now. Last count, it takes close to five minutes for his memories and knowledge to get assimilated into the collective.”

“Well...” Molly says, squirting her eyes as she peers into the distance, “...it might be about five then.” she says.

Eyebrows furrowing at the statement, Hope’s eyes lift to observe Molly’s worried face as something put the fear of god in her. Slowly rising to her feet, Hope peeks from behind the toppled car and peers down the street.

There, like a lanky scarecrow, in the middle of the abandoned street with abandoned buildings towering on his left and right, is one lone individual staggering about in the middle of the street. Then, he stops. His emaciated frame barely covered by the stain clothes sagging off him, as his cold black eyes, stare at them.

THE LAST HOPE: A SPIDER-MAN STORY

No Caption Provided

“Tell me you set the explosives?” asks Hope, squatting back down to the device, working even more diligent. “That’s our only warning sign right now.”

Molly gulps, looking around, “Yes, but, still, can we honestly pull this off?”

Beads of sweat rolling down her face, temples pounding with each heartbeat, Hope quickly pulls out the wiring and tosses it aside, “Reed came up with this plan, everything he charted out has worked until now and too many died for this to work so its going to work.” she says firmly, “It has too.”

“Hope.” Molly mutters under breath in a worried tone. Hope, still working, gives no attention until Molly pulls out her pistol and aims it forward, “I got hostiles. Northbound and Southbound.” she says, “But their…” she says in disbelief, “...waiting? No, that can’t be right. Right?” she asks.

Glancing down at Hope, Molly watches Hope pulls out a glowing crystal splinter with a metal tweezer. Glowing bright green, Hope's eyes meet with Molly as they both smile.

“They're waiting to see if we have it or not.” Hope answers.

“Because if we have the last shard of the Time Gem...” Molly mumbles, returning her gaze to the street, “..then them cutting off our escape routes is the last thing we have to worry about.”

Hope turns over her left arm that’s decorated with a metal wrist gauntlet. Tapping the side of it, she places the crystal splinter inside, closing the battery case, “Me either, but this is endgame, and its almost over.”

A wash of worry comes across Molly’s face, “He wouldn’t have told them, right?” she nervously asks, “Like, he can fight it, right?”

Hope kicks aside the metal case and slides off her rifle, reloading it, “Victor Creed’s the hardest nut to crack, but even he can’t resist the symbiote horde. Best he can do is cause doubt when he’s in the hivemind.”

Suddenly a deafening and distant explosion thunders afar.

Molly and Hope both look at each other, a chill running up their spine. There lifting over the abandoned skyscrapers with smashed windows, black smoke lifts into the pale white sky.

Hope looks at Molly from the corner of her eye, “That was the Manhattan Bridge right?”

Nodding at her reply, Molly gulps, “Y-yeah, their coming.” she sighs, “What’s the plan boss?”

Looking around, Hope takes a deep breath, “Highest point we can get to, satellite relays clear, and we’re out’ve here. C’mon, slowly.” she says.

Stepping out from behind the toppled cars, Hope walks into the middle of the street with her rifle cradled across her arms. Peering down the grassy street, Hope steely gaze remains locked at the group of people idling in the middle of the abandoned intersection. The grass had grown highest there, breaking through the pavement with defiance at waist height.

Glancing over to Molly, Hope calls her over with a head nod. Slowly Molly emerges to the street as well. Pistol in hand, Molly frighten expression remains fixed to what is down the street, to the left and right.

Amassing people standing idly in the middle of the intersection, talking to each other.

Under the pale sky and sway broken traffic lights, the growing group, now crowd of people stand together in a huddled mass, seemingly conversing with each other. Their clothes torn and ragged. Some with shoes,others with none. Fake laughs fills the air as each individual stands with clothes flapping in the wind, revealing their emaciated frames. Their faces, regardless of skin color, pale and sickly in appearance with black veiny lines stretching up their necks and reaching across their faces like crooked lightning in the sky.

“Don’t stare.” Hope whispers to Molly, breaking her gaze, “It provokes them.” Hope whispers.

“R-right.” Molly nods.

Shifting her gaze off of them, Molly looks to Hope’s calm demeanor with her extended gloved finger to her face, “Just look at me. Watch my six. I watch ours. Its you and me - we got this.”

Molly nods.

“We’re gonna run.”

“What?”

“We’re going to run.” Hope says again, more firmly. “If we don’t. We get boxed in. We move. We make this dance last until the gauntlet’s charged and we’re out’ve here. Got me?”

Molly nods, “Okay.” But she wasn’t okay. Hope could see her face getting paler by the second. Hope places her hand on both sides of her face, “Hey, run fast. Run True. Powers on, guards up. Take no prisoners.” Hope says.

Suddenly a distant roar is heard in the distance. Molly couldn't help think of a stadium full of roaring fans suddenly came to life over a scored achievement, but it was not that.

Hope closes her eyes, resisting the extreme panic welling up within her. She clamps down on the emotion, steadies herself, and draws a breath.

Molly’s face drains but Hope pats her across the face, “Hey, focus on me. We, are it!” she says, “We succeed. There’s no failure. We win because winning is all we do…”

Her statement gets a smirk from Molly, “I hate that song…”

Hope smiles, “Thats why I say it darling. We’re sisters. We look out for each other. We get through this. If I get caught…” she says, gesturing to the pistol, “...you know what to do, then you get to the rendezvous point.”

Molly gulps, and nods.

“And if you get caught…” Hope continues, pointing at her glossy chrome pistol, “...its the same one I used on Logan and Bruce, it’ll work for you too and my aim, is second to none.”

Again, the once distant roar now erupts but closer as if a storm of people were gathering close by.

“Okay.” Molly says, nodding in readiness, “I’m ready…”

Looking into her eyes, Hope nods, satisfied, “Okay, see the building behind me…” she says, “...Left, over my shoulder, see alleyway? Go on three….THREE.” she says.

Bolting in a dead sprint, the women run for their lives. Hope and Molly immediately hear the unnatural shriek behind them. Like cats seeing a mouse run towards a hole, both groups of people bolt for Hope and Molly. Chasing Hope and Molly and from opposite ends of the street, Hope glances over her shoulder. They were fast.

“GO GO GO GO!” shouts Hope, dropping to a roll on the pavement. Molly leaps over Hope as she plants drops two small matte black grenades on the ground before springing to her feet in a trailing after Molly.

Turning down an alleyway, Hope runs behind Molly but in the skinny shadowy alley, she watches Molly comes to a swift halt. Before Hope can protest, she peers past Molly and sees at the end of the alley, a pack of people skid to a blocking their exit, glowering at them like hungry dogs.

The blood drains from Molly’s face and she takes a step back, “Hooope....” she fearfully, cries, watching the group hunch low and stalk into the alley.

Fishing her arm out of her long draping sleeve, Hope aims her arm upwards, “SCALE THE BUILDING!” she orders, shooting out a thin line of webbing from her concealed web shooter.

Feeling the web-line go taut, Hope pulls and bounds up into the air as Molly leaps off the ground in super-powered jump! Breaking the pavement under her feet, Molly soars up wards and swiftly slams her fingers into the bricks of the building, digging her nails into the mortar for grip.

Passing her, Hope looks down below her feet and watches swarms of people savagely clamor over each other as they race into alleway.

Pressing a button on her forearm, Hope activates the grenades. An explosion erupting with red flash thunders in the street. Black smoke rises and lifts up between the alleway as she reaches the ledge. Pulling herself over, Hope plants her feet on the rooftops and peers over, but her vision is obscured by voluminous black smoke.

“MAAAAAHL!” Hope cries out in a pang of worry.

“HAAAAAAAOOOOPE!!!”

Crawling up the side of the building through the billowing black smoke, Hope spots Molly’s crawl fast in a panicked climb with hundreds of people racing up below her and opposite her. Some on fire. Other with smoke lifting off their backs.

Hope blinks hard and opens her eyes wide as a curse rises in her throat.

“A LITTLE HELP HERE!” Molly shouts.

Baring teeth, Hope slides off her rifle. In one motion, Hope leans over the side, peers through her sniper scope and aims straight down, “DON'T...” she hollers to Molly as she rattles off a shot, “....STOP...” she shouts, cocking the rifle as a bullet flies out the chamber, "...CLIMBING!"

The loud gunshot and the sound of a bullet whizzing by her makes Molly stop. Fear grips her and Molly hunches close to the bricks as another bullet zips by. Then another. And another. Craning her neck, Molly sees a man, covered in ragged clothes with black veins covers half his face climb to her and all at once, his head snap back from a bullet.

“MOLLAAAAY!” Hope shouts from above.

The loud KLACK KLACK of Hope’s rifle is a melody to her ears as she reloads, “GOD @#$% DON’T FREEZE ON ME!” she screams.

Hearing snarls behind her, Hope’s green eyes scan the roof but then open wide in shock. “Wonderful….” Hope growls, dropping her rifle to favor her pistol.

Aiming in light of sight, Hope moves away from the ledge, “MOL! I NEED YOU UP HERE NOW!” she screams.

Hearing her plight and rapid shots of a pistol as Hope disappears, Molly shakes herself out it. Digs her fingers into the bricks, rears down and pulls herself up with every inch of might she has.

Clearing two flights, Molly somersaults up and over the side of the building and lands in a floor trembling squat, arms spread. Immediately, Molly spots Hope swinging her rifle like a bat inside the side of an infected mans face! In one motion, Hope spins away, shoots three bullets in the head of a woman coming at her left, spins again to a dropped knee position and shoots another man behind her in the head.

Seeing the man she shot stagger back, the individual snarls his blackened teeth as black ooze exits from the bullet entry wound. Slowly rising up, Hope’s can’t believe her eyes as the wound seals over with glossy black ooze. The man staggers back painfully but then the pain leaves, and a wide grin with sharp rows of teeth and green acid dripping from the corner of his mouth appear.

Hope's brow furrows and she immediately aims the gun at her own left temple!

“RAAAAAH!”

Caught off guard, Molly skids on her knees, landing a solid power punch across his jaw that sends the man clear off his feet and soaring over the side of the building, “Sorry I froze.”

Hope sighs in relief, “Good thing I did!” she chides, watching her attacker fall to his death, “But we gotta…”

Interrupting her, Molly pulls Hope down as a woman, covered in what looks like black ink, slashing at them both with 6 feet long, knife-like fingers.

On her back, Hope shoots the woman in the head, the knees, arms and again on the head as Molly gets on her feet, grabs Hope by the scruff of her jacket and drags her away while she still shoots.

“WHICH WAY?”

“EAST!” Hope shouts as Molly lets her go. On her feet Molly and Hope run for the edge of the roof. Glancing over their shoulders, Molly and Hope spot hundreds of people climb over the side!

Pointing ahead, Hope gestures for the other rooftop, “KEEP GOING!”

Racing for the ledge, Molly glances at Hope, “YOU GOT THIS?!”

Hope cocks a smirk, “ALWAYS!” she says, both leaping off the edge!

Legs outstretched, Molly and Hope glance down at the street. Down below, their hearts stink at the glimpse of the writhing dark mass of people climbing up the sides of the alleyway walls. All of them, covered in black ooz, sharp teeth, shrieking an ungodly sound.

Dropping to the other rooftop, Hope rolls as Molly lands solidly on her two feet.

Rolling onto her stomach, Hope watches Molly, in a crouch, spring up in the air and grab a woman springing over them mid-air and slam it down to the floor!

“GAAAH!” Molly shouts, punching the being with enough force to send it through the floor, leaving a gaping hole!!!

Through the floor, Molly pulls back seeing dozens of hands emerge from the hole, clamoring at her metal arm!

"GET OFF!!!" Molly screams, punching them back before dropping in a grenade!

Rolling away, Molly hears the muffled explosion as smoke bellows out the hole. Rising on both feet, Hope swings her rifle around and shoots out a enlarged bullet. Quickly it zips across the path they came and explodes over the roof they left from, incinerating their diseased pursuers and more from climbing onto their rooftop.

As a thunderous and fiery explosion erupts behind her, Molly sees the charred black ooze splattered all over the edge with human hands quivery in the flames, but slowly, regrow its body from the arms, to the shoulders, the neck to the head...

Molly’s jaw drops, “Dear lord…” she gasps.

“MOLLY MOVE IT!”

Molly looks to Hope, already racing across the rooftop and gives chase behind her. Leaping over long tops of HVAC systems, Molly follows behind Hope as she reaches the edge of a rooftop and jumps off. Following behind her, Molly leaps off, plummeting down two stories like a stone before landing and rolling over while Hope uses her shot webline to slow her descent.

“FIVE MINUTES BEFORE THE CHARGE TO BODYSLIDE!” Hope shouts, sprinting ahead as fast as she can.

Following behind her, Molly keeps pace, “GOT IT!” she shouts.

Both women race towards the edge of the rooftop. Hope could see it, leap to the next and keep going until they got to Central Park, then they hold a ‘Last Stand’ and have a better chance at seeing who comes. However, before they can reach the edge of the building, Hope squints.

There. Ahead.

A hand plants itself onto the rooftop edge, something trying to climb over.

“TWELVE O’CLOCK!” Hope shouts to Molly, aiming her pistol forward.

Holding out her gun hand, Molly immediately opens fire as a civilian, dressed in a torn green shirt, a dirted yellow scarf over its face, clamors over the edge as bullets riddle its body!

“HE’S NOT DROPPING!” Molly shouts.

Shooting bullets into him, Hopes eyes flash white before tossing her gun aside and thrusting hands, palms open in a forward motion, “Frack it!” she shouts.

Immediately a telekinetically wave strikes the infected man, shattering the bones in his cheesy as he’s thrown off the roof edge to the street! However, leaping straight up past the man, an agile woman somersaults over both Molly and Hopes heads and lands behind them in a squat.

Fanning her arms out, coated in a glossy black liquid with a red swirl over her covered face. Hope and Molly skid to a stop and look at the creature. Grossly different from the rest, the slick black goo on the face of the woman melts away, revealing Jessica Jones toothy grin with black veins crawling into her eyes, nose and mouth.

“Hi girls.” she says, bolting at them.

Quicker then both Molly and Hope, the creature darts between Molly and Hope and kicks them both away from each other. Sent rolling opposite each other over a distance, Hope finally rolls onto her stomach but open eyes wide at the sight of the creature, on all fours like an animal, charging right at her.

“Our god is coming!” she yells.

Telekinetically stopping her, Hope outstretches her hand, lifts her up into the sky and slams her straight through the roof, “THEN GO FIND HIM!” she screams down the hole.

Looking for Molly, Hope sees across the rooftop, Molly kicking off a black coated rabid before punching a man away off the roof! However, Molly’s tackled down by a second rabid dog, dripping black goo with a long red tongue wrapping around her neck!

“NOOO!!” Hope shouts, running to her and thrusting out both her hands together before moving her palms away from the other.

Floating in mid-air, Molly struggles to hold the dogs away from her as Hope telekinetically unravels the tongue from around Molly’s neck and throws the dog aside. Dropping both to the rooftop gravel, Hope runs straight at Molly as the dog gets on its feet and vomits out a red screeching blob with white eyes!

“OH MY GAWD!” shouts Molly as the creature skitters across the roof straight for her!

“MOLLY JUMP!”

Immediately Molly jumps as Hope thrusts both hands and telekinetically launches her off the rooftop with all her might as she follows after her.

Soaring over the street, Molly and Hope gasp at the sight of thousands of people filling the streets and scaling up the buildings after them!

Landing hard on the adjacent rooftop, Molly and Hope rolls over and over before slamming into an HVAC unit. Shaking her head, shrugging off the pain, Hope gets onto her feet pulling at Molly who remains on her stomach, still.

“MOLLY GET UP!” Hope exclaims, pushing her over but then doubles back.

“NOOOOO!!!” cries Hope, immediately seeing an evident dog bite on her bleeding black goo as Molly’s eyes slowly turn black. Her chest rising up and down, Molly reaches out to Hope as tears roll down her eyes.

“Ha-ha…” Molly gasps, “...Hope….” she says as a tear rolls down her eye.

Pulling out her adamantium gun, Hope aims it at Molly’s head, “Mol…” Hope cries, “...I’ll make this right I promise.” she sobs as grief washes over her face. .

Suddenly black veiny lines rise under Molly’s skin. Her eyes gloss over black. Black ooze spills out between her clenched teeth and sharpens them as a blood-curdling shriek echoes out at the top of her lungs, “AYEEEE!”

Hope grits her teeth, shooting Molly multiple times in the face before shooting her twice in the chest.

Seeing Molly lay still, Hope waits momentarily but then notices the black goo slithering out of her body. Her cheeks wet with tears, Hope shakes her head, trying to focus.

Glancing down at her gauntlet, Hope sees the time, 2 minutes left before charge.

A sharp pain suddenly cuts at the back of her calf. Hopes eyes open wide in horror and she turns around. There on the edge, she telekinetically grabs hold of a thin framed woman covered in black goo by the neck and shoots it in the head!

“YOU DON’T GET TO HAVE ME!” Hope shouts, kicking over the dead body.

Looking to her leg, Hope hovers her palm over her calf. Biting her lip in agony, Hope grimaces while telekinetically pulling out slithering goo snaking under her skin from her bloody cut.

“NO NO NO NOOOOO!!!” Hope shouts, forcing out wriggly black goo that shrieks out her in a high pitch tone.

Tossing it aside Hope barely as time to register before a red web line affixes to her arm.

Immediately, Hope’s stomach goes nauseous with terror as she sees the distinct red webbing.

Forcibly, Hope is launched off her feet and thrown through the air by her arm! Gritting her teeth, Hope is in a blur, swung around at high speed before hitting her back up against a brick wall!!

Pain explodes on the back of her head and back as everything seems to swirl.

“GUAH!” Hope gasps before falling forward onto her stomach.

The pain was excruciating. Something was broken somewhere, but Hope feels only pain swim through the entirety of her body with no beginning or end point.

Hope struggles to focus her telepathy. The nerves, she had to stop them. Like following a current of electricity, Hope stops the flow of pain surging her nerves endings. The pain gone, Hope felt only the cold liquid running down her neck. Reaching back, Hope sees the bright red blood from her back and part of her head.

She was going to pass out. Soon, in a minute? Fifteen? She shouldn’t tell. All she knew is that she couldn’t do this for long. Nathan had taught her that much. Her skill wasn’t there yet. Telepathics were good at getting into other heads, but getting into her ‘own’? Cutting off her own pain, had energy and effort that she didn’t have or could spare at the moment.

However before Hope can resolve a plan of any kind, something massive drops out the sky, trembling all the Earth!! Buildings rattles. The ground roars with quake and reverberates through Hopes body without conscious or consideration.

Hope, panting in shock and fear, looks up in shock at the sight of dozens of individuals floating in the air like sentries. Then, a massive form fills her view. A giant scaly neck like that of snake rears its long head. Massive car sized triangular spikes disappear with a wide dragon’s face now in full view.

Hope can’t help the astonished look on her face. The immense dragon known as Fin Fang Foom stands upright, drenched in black goo white enormous white eyes. Fanning out its immense wings, its intimidating appears almost makes Hope loose the contents of her bladder as its shadow blocks out the sun!

However, Hope narrows her eyes at what the top of the dragons head, a Red jewel at the crown of its head. Swan diving off, flipping the air, a figure in bright crimson red drops onto the gravel at Hopes feet.

Hope starts to feel sick. Tears sting her eyes but she clamps down on that emotion. Killing it where it started and instead, sliding out her adamantium pistol. Then a red web line sticks to the front and yanks it out her hand.

“Hi babe!” exclaims the figure as the red goo melts away from his face, “So good to see you?” smiles the man, “How’ve you been?”

Hope firms her face and her brow furrows, “You are NOT my husband Carnage.”

Grinning a toothy smile at her, Carnage points at his own face, “But I have Peter’s face, peter’s thoughts, peter’s memories…” and then points at her, “...doesn’t that make you peter’s wife! Did I miss something?” He asks, winking his orange eye at her.

Hope nods “Yes…” she spits, “...the Neogenic BULLET meant to end you!” she bitterly replies.

Carnage grins at her, “Is it just me or am i sensing a lil hostility here?”

Hopes face tightens, “You slaughtered billions. You jumped from host to host, INFECTING everyone you touched. Everyone thought it was a cold. Everyone thought it was a flu, but it was you..." she recalls, "It was you, and Peter found out. He found a cure, HE had the ability to stop you.”

“He did.” Carnage grins and spreads out his arms welcomingly, "And now he’s with the winning team!" he exclaims.

A thunderous applause fills Hope's ears as she watches the flying masses of infected symbiotic people float behind him.

Resting his hands on his waist, Carnage tilts his head and points at her, "All we're missing is you. So why fight us? We want you by our side, Our RED Queen.”

On her feet Hope shakes her head, “Peter I know you’re in there..."

Carnage eyes narrow and his grin disappears, "Stop it..."

"...Somehow, in some Infinitesimal form…” Hope continues, “...I know you’re trying to fight him but you don’t have to anymore. Let go Peter I know your alive…”

“HE’S NOOOOT!” Carnage savagely roars.

Hope sighs, “...I know you're scared..." she bravely continues, "I know you blame yourself, but it worked. You know what I mean..."

Carnage white eyes narrow. Nodding at his left, a Carol Danvers, coated in a black venom symbiote, descends out the sky to his left, “Get ready....”

“...its all right, we won…” Hope says.

Carnage narrow his eyes, surging through his thoughts and memories. He had everyone’s memories. Random people. Politicians. Homeless. Children. Villains and Heroes alike, bu the focuses on to Peter’s memories like a small ball in his hand, with something hollow inside. Something secret he held on to. He had all his memories, except this one. Something, inconsequential, it had to be. He had everything else.

That is, until Carnage sees Hope holding up her gauntlet, “... and I promise, we'll make this right.” she says, pressing a button that glows red.

Suddenly, a white flash erupts on the horizon. Wind howls and swirls. The intensifies, silhouetting buildings with a vacuuming wind pulling debris, car's off the ground towards it.

Carnage turns around, craning his neck but then turning fully to see the glow. Like a second sun rising. He could hear it now. Something laughing within himself at his own expense. It wasn’t funny to him, but it was funny...for Peter Parker.

Carnage glares at Hope, “WHAT HAVE YOU DONE!” he shouts over the howling wind picking up like that of a hurricane.

Hope eyes well with tears, “Thank you Peter, I know you’d hold on.”

Suddenly, like glass shattering on the ground, Carnage gains the memory Peter hid for so long. It was a safe house, built not by anyone but Reed Richards. An endgame to end all endgames - a Tachyon bomb building out of a shard of the Power Gem. The gem would be the fuel, a fuel no one could absorb, overpower or snuff. It would annihilate everything on the planet. It would reverberate continually, wiping out all traces of any life Carnage would overtake.

“Annihilation Wave.” Carnage mutters.

Enraged, Carnage leans back, roaring into the sky as the bright light intensifies like a star!

“RIP HER APAAAAAART!” Carnage shouts.

Like demons in the sky, Hope watches all the venomized heroes, villains and ordinary people, dive out the sky at her. Holding up her hands, Hope closes her eyes, “Don’t fail me now!” she shouts, mustering every bit of telekinetic strength she can muster.

Opening her eyes, flames of a bird ignite. A fiery aura encapsulates her in a sphere. This was going to take everything. Hope strengthens her shield, buying herself to time for her gauntlet to charge. Slamming against her shield, maddening individuals pound against her shield. Holding them off, Hope glances down at her gauntlet and sees the timer winding down to the last ten seconds.

Suddenly, Hope sees a shadow cover her. Looking up, Hope sees Fin Fang Foom’s massive fist smack her shield like a bat to a ball.

Rocketed through the air, Hope smashes through the ledge of the roof, smashes through ten consecutive buildings before crashing like a meteor to the street, landing in the base of a building wrapped in black webbing.

Covered in debris, Hope lays on her side in some dark basement. Her flames snuff out to red smoke. Debris flattened around her, Hope groans in pain as she rouses awake. First breath taken smells of mold and dust. Blood leaking out her nose and ears, pain greets her awake. Everything hurts. Her eyes, flutter open, resting on the side of her gauntlet’s timer counting down from 7 seconds.

Hearing crunching of debris Hope suddenly feels a slimy coil wrap around her neck and tighten! Gasping for air, Hope awakens more gasping for air.

Whimpering in pain, Hope comes eye to eye with Carnage as he brings her close, “He tried to save you.” he says.

Hope’s face winces. His breath reeked of the scent of blood. His large white eyes, hollow and lifeless rest on her, split. All at once, Peter Parker’s angry face fills her vision.

Hope’s eyes cannot help the tears that well in her eyes.

“Pete.” Hope chokes.

“Yeah.” Peter smiles and holds up his hand that morphs into a blade, “He’s gone.” he says, running her through the torso with the blade.

Gasping in pain, Hopes mouth gapes open, unable to scream out the overwhelming horrified pain as the blade protrudes out her back.

Dropping her to the floor, Carnage scowls at her, “You. I don’t know how but he stopped me from killing you. Well that’s okay. Now I can.” he smirks, watching Hope crawl on the floor, bleeding out on the ground.

“Kill you slow...” Carnage snarls, “...make him watch, just as the world is going up.” he says, thrusting out his finger stretches out and stabs her through her leg.

“AAAHK!!” Hope screams, wrenching in furious pain.

“I’ll spawn again somewhere…” Carnage grins, “...but this, this moment, i’ll cherish it forever.”

Hope, turning over on her back, clutching her bloodied wound props herself up against the wall. Watching Carnage squat in front her, he mercilessly thrusts a fine long razor bladed finger through her shoulder, pinning Hope to the wall.

“GAAAH!!” Hope cries out.

Carnage grins, “Ah, pure pain. That’s the good stuff.” pulling out his finger before aiming it between her eyes, “One, more time, with feeling.” he grins. Feeling the entire room tremble, Hope sighs. The annihilation wave was coming and soon this entire world would be gone, and her along with it.

“Peter…” Hope says, her voice trembling in pain, “... babe if you can hear me...fight…”she pleads, exhausted by the pain and ready to pass out.

Carnage rolls his eyes and slowly extends his razor sharp finger forward, “He’s dead Hope, but don’t worry...you’ll be too soon, even if we both go...”

“...fight for the future…” Hope pants, watching Carnage finger grow closer, , “...fight for what we should’ve been, fight for Aunt May, for our child that died, for me, for...”

Wincing, Hope feels the sharp prick of carnage red finger rest between her eyes, as blood drips down her nose.

“This is going to be deliciously horrible…”

“Fight Peter…” Hope sighs, “...you have to, this is the moment, with the last of your power, this is your last responsib…”

Carnage growls and pulls away sharply, grabbing his head, “SHUT AAAAAP!”

Dreary with pain, Hope watches Carnage stagger about like an injured animal in the basement. Collapsing onto his knees, Carnage hunches over screaming a bone chilling scream.

Seeing him distracted, looks to her gauntlet and sees the words ‘Charged’ just as the entire room starts to tremble with increasing ferocity.

“HOPE! GO!”

Hope’s green eyes snap up to the familiar voice that strikes at her heart like a blade. Leaning forward, Hope watches at Carnage looking to her, but with Peter’s face, drenched in sadness. Tears rolling down his cheeks.

“I c-can’t…” Peter groans, “Oh gawd...he...I can h-hold him Babe.”

Hope bits her lip, bursting into tears as covering her mouth, “Pete…”

Closing her eyes in pain, Peter growls, “Do it...”

Shaking her head, Hope leans forward, “I can get you out, I can...”

“GO NAAAOO!!!” Peter roars, thrusting out his hand as a red blob to her gauntlet.

Taken off guard, Hope sees a red web ball depressing her activation switch. Her eyes snap to Peter looking at her somberly as dust and ash sift down from the ceiling as the room trembles.

Slowly, Peter leans his head back as the red ooze of the symbiote slowly crawls up his mouth, drowning into his gaping mouth, “AH...laavv….yaaou…” he says as tears roll down his eyes.

Hope cries bitterly as a white portal suddenly opens behind her like vacuum, sucking her in.

No Caption Provided

The cold ground pierces Hope's clothes to the bone. Covered in a bed of red and yellow leaves, Hope grinds her teeth and sits up. Her body screamed but she bit down on her teeth.

"Jarvis..." Hope sighs, ready to pass out, "...what year is it?"

Feeling her gauntlet vibrate with the query, she hears the reply.

~Earth 616 - November, 2nd - 7:15 am~

Closing her eyes, Hope feels the tears rush down her cheeks, "Good." she says, smiling contently before dropping to her side in a thump

~Bodily injuries detected...calling Ambulance~

end.

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Okay. I guess I will put my hand in the ring for the fun of it.

Days End

No Caption Provided

The streets were empty....good. Civilians were doing just as instructed, for their own good. Hopefully things would go well this time.....

"Alright, converge on target", uttered a singular cybernetic man, created specifically to hunt the mutant menace. Always the mutants interfering with humanity's way. Had they just stepped down off of the whole next stage in evolution crap, things wouldn't be like this. A lone man named Hunter wouldn't have sold his soul to become a new kind of robotic invention that would theoretically end the mutant threat.

"Sentinel unit to Unit PR3D4+0R. Visual of two mutant specimens. Converging."

"Perfect, just as planned. Now, lets get a look at you two.....", Hunter uttered in a semi-mechanical voice that still held his baritone voice, making it sound like he was talking through a can....well, he guessed in someways he was. ".....well, I'll be damned......"

The image the came within his vision as he flew over the rooftops of New York came in the form of a rather short man, infamous for his string of felonies that involved destroying millions in Sentinel production and units. A one man army, considered the best by some. The old man was accompanied by a middle-aged brunette, who had a semi-worried look on her face. She seemed inexplicable on first glance, but Hunter had accounts of a ghostly brunette who would steal government and destroy entire electronic networks. Some wondered if she were a real ghost. Others called her an urban legend. On file, she was called Shadowcat.

No Caption Provided

"MUTANTS! YOU ARE UTTERLY SURROUNDED! BY AUTHORITY OF THE U.S. GOVERNEMENT, YOU ARE ORDERED TO SURRENDER OR RISK LETHAL FORCE TO DETAIN YOU!", Hunter said through a loud speaker installed in his hardware. As the two began to speak to one another, Hunter ran diagnostics on what exactly his next plan of action would be, which seemed almost impossible given one was specialized in his work while the other was an anomaly that could either turn the entire tide of the battle in their favor should she be revealed who he thought she was. In effort to gain more info to prepare for, he turned on his internal sensors that enhanced his sensory perception as far as his eyesight and hearing went.

"Just as planned?", the woman whispered to the man.

"So long as you don't plan on playing hero like last time, then yes", the man whispered back as he kept his eye on the Sentinel shining its light on the two of them.

"Don't worry. That won't be necessary, just remember what your job is, Logan", the woman said as she took a couple steps back.

"NOT ANOTHER MOVE!", Hunter said aloud.

"Go 'head, Kate. I will be just fine.....", Wolverine said with a smirk forming on his elderly face.

"Good luck, ol' knucklehead", the woman said before dropping below the surface of the ground beneath her and disappearing from all traces.

"Damn!", Hunter uttered before turning his loud speaker back on. "THAT'S IT!-"

"Save yer breath, kid! I ain't gonna resist. I surrender myself to ya without further trouble, so long as my friend goes free", the man said with his hands raised and his claws retreating into his knuckles.

".....Just like that? The infamous Wolverine is going down just like that?', Hunter replied uncertainly.

"Why not? Ya clearly have me outnumbered", the man replied dismissively with a shrug.

No....this was too easy.....but its not like he could simply let Wolverine go. He was a prime target. This whole thing felt wrong though......what was the plan they had going?

"Alright, take him in!", Hunter commanded the Sentinel units. In an act that did nothing to calm Hunter's nerves, Wolverine complied with no sign of resistance. This man, whom Hunter had seen recordings of fighting against threats. This man with a will to survive and abilities that few could match?

"What're you starin' at?", the man asked irritably as he leaned against the containment vehicle. Riding with the prisoner was entirely unnecessary, but Hunter didn't feel right about this. There was no way he was gonna let this one get away.

"What was this plan that your friend. 'Kate', spoke of?", Hunter asked.

"That she go free and I be captured. She still got her life ahead of her. I lived longer than I really should have. Not that complicated to figure out", the man said.

That answer made sense.....too much sense. It came so easily, so casually. It couldn't be it.....and it wasn't......

BOOM!

It was at that moment that the vehicle was jerked and tossed aside across the street. Both men hit the roof and walls hard before the vehicle finally landed from its continuous flip in mid-air. As Hunter's internal systems were repairing themselves, he activated security camera's to get a view of the battlefield. Two lone figures stood among the rubble as the Sentinel's began to be ripped apart by an unseen force with incredible ease.

The first visibly seen. A man with white hair, a cybernetic arm, a glowing eye, and one really big gun. Mutant Registration intel told that the gun was the least deadly thing about him, yet it could destroy a Sentinel with one shot. No, this man had psychic abilities to accompany the amassed weaponry and technological know-how. A man simply known as Cable....

No Caption Provided

"Stay behind me, Mother", Cable said before blasting each Sentinel that came his way and shot at the two of them. None of them touched the two, yet their aim was spot on. That same invisible force was shielding them from heavy fire.....

"Save your power, Nathan. I have this", the woman said before gesturing at the vehicle and ripping the door open with her invisible weapon. Her mind.

"Target locked!", Hunter uttered in a mechanical voice as he unleashed a giant beam that took both mutants out of the way. He turns to gather Wolverine only to be met with claws slicing off his limbs. In response, the man unleashed the Stark Grade Repulsor Cannon from the arc reactor in his chest. Wolverine is shot through the vehicle and into a building. At the age he was, his healing factor would take time to fix his injuries completely. Enough time to restrain Wolverine before gathering the new prisoners.

Before he could reach Wolverine though, he is suddenly stopped, briefly in mid-step. It was then he got a good look at the woman, her features sending him red alerts. Code Level: Omega. The same mutant threat level as precious mutants like Magneto or Phoenix before her. A woman thoguht ot have been an urban legend to the people of New York and a sort of messiah alongside her servant, or possibly son, Cable. The prodigal savior of mutantkind, the one called Mother Askani. Yet, despite the apparent relationship between the two pointing to that of a mother and son, she looked much younger than Cable. This could point to her mutant gifts giving her some sort of immortality, or the "Mother" being a mere title. Either way, she was the most dangerous combatant on the field, a fatal error that would cost Hunter dearly.

No Caption Provided

"Got him. He isn't going anywhere. Are you well, Logan?", the woman says to the older man.

"Yeah. Took ya long 'nough", he said as he stretched his limbs.

"No, I'd say we are right on schedule. Now, I can start analyzing the data from this thing", the other man said as Hunter could feel his interface being intruded. No matter how many firewalls he put up, the man was constantly finding his way past the barriers. And the woman was keeping his emergency systems on lockdown. He was their prisoner now.....

"There will be more coming. We should get back to Clan Askani before reinforcements arrive", Mother Askani uttered.

"Just give me a sec. Almost go tit. Then we can destroy this trash heap", Cable said as Hunter could feel him wriggle his way through the wholes in the defense system.

"....N....No.....", Hunter strained to say.

"What was that?", Wolverine asked, attention now on Hunter.

".......I....said, go 'F' yourself......"

"GET BACK!", was all Cable yelled before the area was suddenly covered in a great explosion. A security measure to keep secrets where they lie. A measure that would end Hunter's existence, as well as the rebels of Askani........

"Ugh, everyone still alive", Mother Askani asked as she coughed the dust from her lungs.

"Peachy", Cable said as he pushed off the rubble and dusted off his gun.

"Please tell me ya got it, kid", Logan asked Cable directly as the open wounds and burned skin healed.

"Nate?", Rachel looked to her brother questioningly......

".....Yup, got it all here", the man answered with a smirk as his eye glowed by his response.

********************************************

The End?

@batkevin74: Sorry if its a late admission. I don't mind if it ends up not getting there. Just figured I would try it at the last moment.

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@pyrofn: I just looked at the time and you made it by like 9 minutes...too easy :)

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Phantom Conversations

Stepping up to the podium, he sees that they've replaced the one he cracked a couple of weeks ago with one made of Absorbalite so that he can't break it again. He smiles as he looks at it, then chuckles nervously as he rubs it lightly with his weathered hands. Looking at the group before him, his face not nearly as stern as the white skull emblazoned on his chest, the old man in the blue and brown costume says, "Hi. My name is John Phantom."

"Hi, John," responds the room.

"I've been clean for thirty-five years, five months, and a day," he says evenly. The group applauds. "Some of you may remember that in the last month, my wife returned from the dead." The room murmurs a bit, but settles quickly. "When I first mentioned it, I said, 'sort of,' but..." he pauses as he brushes the podium hesitantly. Then he continues, "but memory is a funny thing. Especially as you get older. A lifetime of associations makes triggering a memory easier and easier until sometimes it's just the oddest little thing." He reaches into a fanny pack that he's added to his costume today, and pulls out an orange. Holding it up like Hamlet holding Yorick's skull, he says, "Nine days ago, it was this."

He turns the orange first one way, and then the other, then rolls it so he's holding it between his thumb and forefinger. "You see, thirteen days ago, when I told you all my story for like the seventh time that week, I also did an interview- you may have seen it on television if you didn't have anything better to do." He shrugs. The group chuckles good naturedly. "It got me brooding a little bit; thinking about my wife and daughter, and that went on for a few days. Until nine days ago, when I fell back on a familiar habit. I like to eat clementine oranges when I think of them, because, well, they were both named Clementine too."

The room kind of splits at that, and mostly along gender lines. The women mostly coo at the sweetness of it, and the men mostly groan at the bad pun of it.

John just laughs lightly, and starts picking at the orange's peel while he talks. "I know it's silly, guys, but there's a reason for it. Y'see, when I first lost my Clementines, and wasn't completely stoned out of my gourd to numb that pain, all I could do was think about them. I mean all I could do." He nods as he says that, clearly reflecting on some silent horror of that time as he pulls at the peel.

"After Wartime and the others got me into rehab, and I finally started to commit to it, I knew I had to do something besides just dwell on their deaths, and h-" he falters. "H-how I..." he takes a deep breath, and pries the orange in half with his fingernails. "How I caused it," he finally finishes. "So, whenever I was stuck on their memories, I'd peel one of these and eat it, a section at a time," he says as he holds up a section, and then pops it in his mouth. He smiles as he chews, and after several seconds, he swallows and says, "I used this as a timer. I'd think about my wife and daughter for as long as it took me to eat one of these oranges. Or two. Or three. Or a bag." The group laughs. "Depended on how hard the memories were. Then, I'd go and do something else. Anything else. Whether it was brush my teeth, put a puzzle together in the rec room, or work out in the gym. It got me through rehab, started me on the road to getting through my grief, and frankly it helped calm the oral fixation I had with pills and pipes at the time." He ate another section of the orange, and the room waited silently.

"Ugh! Bad clementine."

"So, nine days ago," he says, getting back to his story. "Nine days ago, I'd been brooding for a few days already, and so I got a basket of clementines, and sat down at my table to eat. I bit into my first one, and man, that thing was awful!" he says, making a sour face. "I said, 'Ugh! Bad clementine,' and spat it out. And that's what triggered the memory." Holding up another orange section, he said, "I'm glad this one isn't bad. I needed this today." He eats the slice, and then without looking tosses the other half into a trashcan across the room with uncanny accuracy. "That's enough of that though," he says, wiping his fingertips lightly on the sides of his shirt.

"It was the oddest thing. As soon as I said it, that memory- half a memory, really, maybe not even that- that memory whispered in the back of my mind, and I shouted, 'This is bad, Clementine!' And although I didn't know when or why, I knew it was something I had said to my wife at some point.

"I call it a 'phantom conversation.' No pun intended," he adds, but the room chuckles anyway. "A phantom conversation is any conversaiton you have aloud with yourself- whether repeating a conversation you had at a previous time, or rehearsing a conversation you plan to have, or wish you'd had. I call it that, because with no one else around, it's like you're talking to ghosts, and it's kind of a waste of time. Still, I have them from time-to-time."

"So now I'm sitting there talking to myself: 'This is bad, Clementine! This is bad, Clementine! What's bad? What were we talking about? I was never fool enough to criticize her cooking.'" The group laughs. "'So what in the world? What's bad?' Y'know? It was like that. I just kept wracking my brain, trying to remember when I said, 'This is bad, Clementine,' and it was just refusing to come up.

"Man, it just drove me bananas. I tried, and I tried, and I tried, but I just couldn't remember when I had said that to Clementine. I started to doubt myself, and wondered if maybe it was something I had said to my daughter instead. I thought about it for awhile, and I really couln't make a connection there either. Clementine had always been a pretty good child, so I never really had to get after her too much. So I went back to when I might have said it to my wife, and it just wasn't there for me. So finally, after a couple of days of this, I just threw up my hands." He mimics the motion for the group, and continues, "I said, 'Ah, well, it's not the end of the world.' And that's when I remembered the rest of it. And the shock of it through me back across that universal divide, to the world with Sky Phantom and that other Clementine!

"Clementine?"

"Only, it wasn't 'that other Clementine.' It was her. My Clementine. And there she was again, in all of her glory. No older than the day I lost her. She was just... there... and she didn't even seem surprised to see me. She just looked over her shoulder like she was waiting on me to say something. My mouth had gone really dry, but I finally managed a weak, 'Clementine? It's really you, isn't it?'"

"She didn't answer. She just reached for a T-shirt on the bed, and pulled it on. Then she picked up a pair of sweatpants, and pulled them on as well, turning towards me as she slid them over her bare bottom. I hadn't seen my wife in a very long time, much less like this. I couldn't help it- I just stared for a long minute, both elated to see her, and horrified that she'd been in this other universe all this time. Finally, she walked to her nightstand for her watch, and said, 'What do you want, John?' She sounded tired when she said it."

"'Wha... what do Iwant?'I was dumbfounded. 'It's been... you've been... thirty-five years, Clementine! I saw you die, and you've been gone for thirty-fiveyears!What do I want? An explanation wouldbe a nice start!' I shouted at her. And then I realized I wasn't really so angry at her as I was just so damned happy to know she was still alive. So I moved towards her and said, 'And I want a hug. It's been too long, Cle--' She cut me off by drawing a gun from the nightstand drawer and pointing it at me.

"'A gun?' I asked her. 'Really?'

"'This is loaded with Time Stoppers,' she said.

"'Time... where did you get... only--'

"'--Wartime has them. Right.' Before I could ask, she answered, 'He gave them to me before he gathered everyone to stop you.' I couldn't hide my shock, and she just looked at me like I was stupid. 'You were that out of control, John. Blasted out of your mind on God knows what, and your worst enemy had to stop you! And you're going to give me grief over Time Stoppers?'

John looked at the room of anonymous addicts, and just shrugged. "She was right. I can tow loaded tanks under my own strength, fly, teleport through time, and nevermind the fact that I carry an ordinary loaded sidearm on my hip. I added a street pharmacy to all of that? She had every right to defend herself. After all, she had our daughter to think of too. That reminded me...

"I hardly dared hope, but I finally managed, 'Is... is Clementine with you too? How did you survive? I have so many qu--'

"She jammed a hand in her pocket and came out with a gold coin between her first and second fingers. 'This, John,' she said angrily. 'Remember? You gave me this Time Token in case of emergencies? "But it can only save one," right? Isn't that what you told me, John? And before I could get to our daughter, the damned coin "saved" me!'

"'Oh, God,' is all I could say to her," he said, hanging his head low over the podium. "Time tokens are... special. There's a group out there that uses them to lessen the effects of a disaster. They're called Operators, and they work from a... well, a Central Dispatch Station, for lack of a better term. Last Operation I know of was back in 2015, but who knows, there may have been more. That's the point- that they fix it, and no one knows about it. They try to head trouble off before anything bad happens, but when it does, a Time Token allows an Operator to go back in time just long enough to save one person." The hero shrugged again. "I don't know why it's like that, but that's how it works." He shook his head. "Unfortunately, it worked against Clementine. Oh, Lord, she was angry.

"She hurled the coin at my head, but I caught it, and looked it over. 'This isn't the Time Token I gave you,' I told her. 'It has a different year on it, and you "spent" yours. Where did you--'

"She just stopped me with a look again. 'You called an Operator?'

"Just then, Sky Phantom came in. 'Hey, I heard shouting. Is everything o--'

"I knocked him cold with a right hook and said, 'Stay out of it, kid. The grownups are talking.'

"Clementine only glanced at the other me on the floor. 'No, John, I didn't call an Operator.' she said warily.

"'Then who gave... Oh, come on! You went to Clockwise?!' Clockwise is kind of hard to explain. It's a little more complicated than this, but basically, he's a rogue Operator. Only, he's not a badguy. Well, most often he's not a badguy. He's kind of a... time vigilante, I guess. He's kind of paranoid. Kind of a conspiracy nut. But he knows more about being an Operator than almost anybody, and... ah, y'know what? Not important," he said, waving off what he had been about to say.

"'Yes, I went to Clockwise! He has Time Tokens! And I'll tell you another thing,' she said, thrusting her finger in my face like this," he said, mimicking her gesture. "'He knows how to bypass the Time Lock on your precious trophy room!'

"'You went into the Time Vault?!' I said with real horror. 'Do you know what could have--'

"'What could have happened, John? I know what did happen! That coin kept taking me back to right before you fired that damned chain gun from your car, but after Clem' had already started running to you! I tried, John! I tried, and I tried, and I tried!But I couldn't reach her! I couldn't reach her!' she wailed. 'I c-couldn't re-reach her-herrrrr!'

"I instinctively went in to hug her, and she thrust the gun back in my face. 'No,' she said through gritted teeth. 'No. You have no idea how long I spent trying to get her, John. None. Over, and over, and over! And before I could reach her, she'd catch a bullet, and disappear. And then I'd catch a bullet and disappear!'

"I realized what she was talking about, and it must have shown on my face. 'That's right, John- you gave her a Time Token too. She caught the first bullet, so her coin saved her before my coin saved me. She got back to the starting point before me, and all she knew was that she was in danger, and the only thing she knew to do about that was to run to you- her hero.' The way she said 'hero' was like a slap in the face. 'Her high, drugged out, miserable excuse for a hero father. Who got her shot.'

"I didn't realize I was backing away from her until I hit the wall. I couldn't say anything. 'My little girl took bullet after bullet after bullet because of you, John, and I couldn't do anything to save her. I couldn't even touch her before she disappeared. So you don't get to touch me. And that's why you haven't heard from me in thirty-five years, you miserable bastard!'"

The room was quiet. John was contemplating some point on the ceiling at the back of the room, and then looked at the group. "She was right. Completely right. I just stared at her for a few seconds, and then managed to stand up without the wall's help. 'What about this, Clem'?' I asked her, motioning around me. 'What about him?' I said, pointing at younger me. How?'

"'You again,' she said. 'Or your Time Vault anyway. Clockwise got me in, and I took everything. Everything, John.'

"'NO,' I shouted in horror," and that horror was still evident as he stood at the podium. "Clementine, what did you do?'

"'Everything I could! Time Tokens! The Stop Watch! The Cuckoo Clock! Everything, John! And all it did was cause problems, let me tell ya! And I... did... not... care. Wartime showed up though. He tried to warn me. Can you believe that? You completely screw the pooch. I throw all caution to the winds of time. But Wartime is the responsible one, and tries to warn me that too much focus on one point in time could destroy everything. Ha,' she laughed miserably. 'I still didn't care. I kept trying, and kept trying, until finally, me and Clem' dropping into the same point in time so much started to send out ripples, and then waves, and then... it just unraveled, John. Everything.'

"'You were there. Wartime had yanked you out of rehab to try to get you to talk to me. This is bad, Clementine! Real bad! you hollered at me. Big help there, turd. Finally, as the time waves started to get violent, Clockwise showed up with one of Captain Curley's Time-a-Rangs. A lot had been either leveled, de-aged, or flat wiped out of existence. There was a lot of energy just building out there, and he used the Time-a-Rang to send it all back to me.'

"'I absorbed enough time energy to be a hundred thousand of you, John. And I used it.'" John just looked at the group, and raised his eyebrows, nodding at the truth of this impossible-sounding story. Then he went on, reciting her words back to us. "'I walked between seconds, and saved Clem', sending her out of harm's way. But I don't know where I sent her, or when. I didn't have a good enough grasp on the power yet. So she's out there, and I've been through time and universes looking for her. And I'll go through more. And you can't stop me.' And she disappeared."

John through up his hands, and then rested them on the podium. "And I didn't know how to find her. And then I was back. So here I am. It's been a hell of a month. But apparently there was an apocalypse, and I was there, and didn't even know it. Hell of a thing." He just shook his head, and took a seat to let the next person speak.

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cbishop

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Sheesh, on the nose much? No reason for CCC 100 to be any different, I guess. ;)

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cbishop

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We're five minutes past the deadline now, folks. @silverspidey, you can either make a voting thread, or I will be happy to do it for you. Either way. Jus' lemme know. ;)

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@cbishop: Very Indiana Jones (gif may or may not work)

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@batkevin74: Indiana Jones? Y'think? Cool. (Good gif too)

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@cbishop: In terms of scraping in by the skin of your teeth

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silverspidey

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@cbishop - you mind making the voting thread?

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@cbishop: In terms of scraping in by the skin of your teeth

lol Too true.

@cbishop - you mind making the voting thread?

Not a problem.