Marvel Iron Age: S.H.I.E.L.D Hollands Gambit
Author's Note: So this old story has finally reached it's conclusion. New twists, turns and big changes to S.H.I.E.L.D in the IA are ahead. As always, thank you for reading!
Denver Iron Hall:
The silence in the building was heavy. Outside of Shield Commander Holland’s office agents lined up alongside the hallway. Augustus Holland was dead. His body was shrouded on a gurney and carried by four Shield agents like pallbearers at a funeral. The agents saluted their fallen hero as his remains past them. Their faces betrayed the grief they all felt. Teary eyes looked on as Holland was swiftly taken away.
Holland had brought them hope. Confidence. Where was that now? Where was the leader that led by example everyday he appeared at a formation? Where were the miracles produced on an almost daily basis? Every agent had started to feel the gravity of the situation. The frustration at not really knowing why they were there. Anger at the situation that kept them stuck here. Holland had a way of easing those feelings. With him gone, despair really started to creep in.
That’s how Kimberlyn Brooks felt locked away in one of the Iron Hall’s jail cells. She watched the events through the eyes of her fellow shield agents. With her telepathy she felt what they felt. She had to. It was the only way she could justify the last orders given to her by Commander Holland. He just needed to fulfil his end. Even with him dead, she expected that much.
“Jessica Mongoose. I know you’re there.” Agent Brooks said with her mind as The Assassin turned Avenger swung around a corner and walked into Kimberlyn’s cell.
“Let’s use words as much as possible.” Jessica said as she sprayed pheromones into the air secretly with a small tube in the wrist of her costume.
Jessica watched Kimberlyn. Studied. She paced her cell. Violent tremors made Kimberlyn unable to stay still at all. Her skin was pale and her eyes were circled in black. “What did they do to you?” Jessica asked, as she approached Kimberlyn from behind.
Kimberlyn whipped around to make eye contact with Jessica. When she did impressions, not exactly visions of what happened to the Shield agent and her cell flooded her mind. “Stop it!” Jessica yelled.
The feeling Jessica felt ceased as Kimberlyn dropped to her knees as she began to sob. “You have to help me, Jessica! You have to! Holland promised he’d make it stop!”
The lights in the cell began to flicker and Jessica’s hair also stood up. Jessica joined agent Brooks on the floor. “You really can’t control your powers without MGH can you? This is starked. Holland uses you like this after what happened and expects me to deal with it when he can’t anymore? I don’t want to do this, Kim!”
“IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT YOU WANT!!”
Jessica winced as Kimberlyn roared in her mind. “Calm down.” Jessica said strictly.
Kimberlyn’s tremors stopped instantly, her powers stayed in check and her sobs were muted. “Thank you, Jessica.”
Jessica Mongoose embraced Kimberlyn from behind. “We’re friends so call me, Jess. It’s fine.”
“But you only let, Ngumi call you that.” Kimberlyn chuckled knowingly.
Jessica laughed to. It was good to let someone in so much pain feel better at least for a moment. Though she couldn’t be distracted, not now.” Don’t read my mind anymore.” Jessica ordered. Her pheromone control was in full effect. Though not making the situation any easier.
Kimberlyn closed her eyes and felt at peace. “Thanks, Jess. For being someone you aren’t any more for just a little while.”
“Don’t say anything else, Kim.” Jessica said as claws from her costume slowly extended from her finger tips as she held on to the shield agent tighter with one arm. Jessica hated Holland for this. Her voice so strict and confident earlier, cracked. She felt wrong, “Ple-ase.”
Center of the city:
Civilians from all over the state and the rest of the city were being massed in the center of the city. Why? Only Commander Holland and a select few really knew. Tens of thousands were easy targets for an empire that had no qualms about butchering its own citizens. So why? Mindbender, leader of a group of mutants from the Vault looked at a specialist from New Latveria that knew. They stood alone with one other pale skinned woman that spoke as if more than one person commanded her voice at the same time.
“Me and my people consider it a great honor to be working with the last X-man, Laura Kinney.” The mutant leader said respectfully.
Laura Kinney aka X-23 had been working with Carol Danvers as her double agent. It’s how she knew about Project Wide Awake, War Machine and many other Iron Army projects. Laura and one of her Reavers were sent by Carol to help Holland reach his end game. “Do not bring my history up ever again. It will be bad for you.”
Mindbender was unfazed by the two-hundred-year-old mutant’s threat. “As I expect it will be for you if your subordinate cannot deliver.”
Laura looked over at the Reaver she brought with her, “Glyph?”
Glyph peered out over the buildings, smoky sky and the stampede of civilians making their way to the center of the city. “It’s not like sending Doctor Doom to Hell. But I can do it”
Laura nodded and opened her holographic communicator on her wrist as a small child appeared on the screen, “Gateway, Ahern and his coalition should be on the cities edge and quickly surrounding us. Introduce them to some New Latverian shock and awe.”
Laura’s only response was a smile and a thumbs up as she closed her communicator. “Now we await Holland’s last little miracle.”
Iron Army Helicarrier:
The General was unlike his normal self. Not only was he sober for what would be the last few hours of this rebellion, some cape in a blue costume beat the tar out of the man that had him in constant fear of his head exploding, and the last rebels were rallying in the center of the city. This was a shooting gallery. Nothing could go wrong, he thought.
“Sir an atmospheric anomaly is interfering with our communications!” One of the flight operators shouted.
Ahern looked around the combat information center. Holo-screens flickered and projected the image of a blond woman in a costume, with scientists tied up all around her and Iron soldiers knocked out after what looked like a brief struggle. “Hello? Hello?!” The young woman said impatiently. She looked at General Ahern and smiled. “Oh, hi there! I’m Mockingbird.”
“Where is this signal coming from?” Ahern yelled.
“I’m calling in from a space station just to let you know, how bad we got you!” Mockingbird said.
“Sir! The Helicarrier’s comm signal is being hijacked! Our signal to the rest of the coalition is being used as a relay to each and every suit and activating their self-destruct mechanisims!” An operator shouted.
Mockingbird threw up the peace sign and winked, “Bye-bye!”
The Helicarrier started to rumble. He looked outside the giant window before him and watched as the suits of entire platoons of Iron soldiers exploded. Other Iron Army aircraft exploded creating bombs both in and outside the Helicarrier. “Turn that starking signal off!”
“Sir, you won’t have any way to relay orders!” An operator said. “No communication!”
“At this rate I won’t have an Army to give orders to!” Ahern said as he pulled out a flask in his pocket. “Do it.”
The Avengers/ X Faction,
Denver Power Plant:
Corporal America, Cam Evans, Hawkeye and Tank fought outside of the Power plant while, The Vision, Jason of the Avengers teamed with X-Faction members, Drake and Alyssa to free the being used as a battery to power the city. Iron soldiers flew and started the fray. Nicholas Roger’s shield, bounced a ricocheted off the soldiers, allowing for counter attack from Tank. Hawkeye and Cam fired arrows and electricity to pick opponents off at a distance and to their friends engaged in brutal hand to hand combat.
Their mission was given out by Vision after a meeting Jessica had with Holland before he was betrayed. They were only told to hold the power plant and if possible save the being powering the facility.
I can’t believe Holland is dead. He really is! In the short amount of time X-Faction had been active I’ve never seen more charisma and battle field brilliance. The S.H.I.E.L.D agents that know are shaken. I only heard about it once we all landed for this operation. He was loved. Admired. He fought so hard to save this starking world.
I’ve had close calls, but, what happens if it really does happen? What happens if it’s Alyssa, Tank or Drake that buys it? When that last mission finally…”
“Are you even here right now, guy?” Corporal America yelled over the radio. “You’re reading your diary out loud over the comms!”
“Sorry!” Cam yelled over the sound of repulsor fire and explosions. Came fired an arc of electricity into four Iron soldiers that shut their suits off just as they were about to tackle Hawkeye.
Hawkeye took notice and whipped around to the leader of X-Faction and pulled an arrow back, “Watch out!” He warned as Cam rolled out of the way as an Iron soldier was knocked back by an explosive arrow. “That’s how you warn a buddy when the bad guys have the jump on you, Cam!”
Cam coughed as he took a breath of the smoke clogged air as he stumbled toward the archer, “Yeah, sorry I just…”
Cam took a glimpse up at the sky, Iron soldiers were flying toward the center of the city. Helicarriers hovered over them. Even miles above the heroes, the main guns of the massive ships that darkened the sky adjusted their fire. Cannons pointed at them and whirred to life. “Stark me! They’re really gonna,”
“I got a message from Vision!” Corporal America shouted over the radio, “Mockingbird was successful but now the Iron Army is shooting at random. Their gonna—“
Rogers was cut off by the roar of explosions ripping through the air, hot wind rushed on to Cam and Hawkeye, knocking them away from each other. Buildings around them caught fire along with everything else Cam could see. He no longer got messages from Corporal America. He couldn’t see Hawkeye. The explosions tossed and rolled him all over the pavement. When he finally stopped, he fearfully started patting himself down in search of any wounds and to his surprise he wasn’t injured at all.
“Holy stark!” Cam looked down at his chest, confused and grateful. A glowing glyph had appeared on his chest that created an aura that seemed to protect him.
The area formerly known as New Zealand:
The Geofront floating fortress had swelled with life after the Thanos Invasion, so much so that Carol Danvers had commissioned the building of a second and third that’s being prepared for after the day’s battle. The second one was manned by a skeleton crew of eighty people that piloted the fortress in the control center at the base of the floating island fragment. Here The Director of S.H.I.E.L.D the battle in Denver.
“Everything is going to plan, sir!” Agent said as the Director mused on the events leading to this moment.
“Is this place going to be ready? Both Geofront’s are going to be at capacity in a few minutes.” The Director said. This plan was going to be the result of two hundred years of trial and error. Two hundred years of loss and hollow triumph that was going to be answered. Everything about Colorado had gone as planned. The entire campaign hinged on everyone, allies and enemies alike doing exactly as he thought they would. Nobody had disappointed.
“It’s time. Alert Gateway and send in the Giantmen.” The Director ordered.
Center of the city:
Since the occupation of Colodrado civilian confusion about the event was high. What started out as fighting at Iron Halls quickly turned into a strict marshal law, men and women being drafted into an armed militia to fight the men in metal suits while others people in the same suits fought with them. The Iron army had destroyed their homes, lively hoods were gone and now for the first time they were angry. Iron soldiers had rounded them up like cattle into the center of the city.
Some in the crowd took the time to protest their conditions. They screamed at the soldiers hidden beneath their armor. Told these conditions would only be temporary, along with forced conscription and being violently pulled from their homes. For some of them it was the first time they noticed what their freedoms actually meant to the Iron men protecting them. Of course they lashed out.
In the distance approaching just approach the inner city an Iron Army fleet. Engaged in a battle that would see more of their lives destroyed. The city quickly began to burst in flame, heat from the explosions choked the air as more smoked darkened the sky. The Helicarriers were blasting the city, without care or concern for the people down below. They tried to scatter, but Iron soldiers halted their advance, their repulsors pointed at them. As what was normally done to intimidate them. They began to fire into the crowd. Dozens fell. Screams echoed with the wind carrying them.
The strangest thing also happened. Men, women, and children were randomly being marked with a glowing glyph on their chests that protected them. In the sky above holes opened up in what seemed like reality itself, they opened all over the city and at that moment for the first time in two hundred years’ civilians witnessed a sixty-foot-tall man tower above them. A Giantman.
More followed through these portals. As quick as you could blink the people marked with a glyph were being swallowed by similar portals. The panicking unmarked ran through the Iron soldiers firing on them and began to fight.
The general had resumed his drinking. His brief sobriety ruined by a clever surprise attack. Now he instead drank while the operators flying the Helicarrier just tried to stay above ground. The whole conflict had been a failure from the start. Tried and true tactics weren’t working on these rebels. The usual show of overwhelming force the Iron army employed was met by immovable resistance. Cyberwarfare and infiltration proved fruitless. They always got False information that turned out to be a trap that inflicted heavy casualties. It was like they knew everything he was going to do and had a counter for it.
Ahern had to be honest to himself now. This was a disaster. Even now when he thought he gained an advantage on these rebels, they showed him otherwise. Giantmen were falling out of the sky. One by one they were dragging down Helicarriers and swatting Iron soldiers like flies. “Damn.” Ahern said gruffly as he chugged the remains of his flask.
His posture sagged and a weary frown formed on his face. He wasn’t shocked by this outcome. The panicked cries from his subordinates at the site of a Giantman landing on the window of his helicarrier. He walked off toward the exit as glass shattered, screams and gunfire erupted behind him. Alarms all over the ship blared. Soldiers were fleeing all around him. He didn’t care, not anymore. The carriers shuddered hard, knocking him to the ground and making him drop his flask. He crawled desperately for it. He groaned as he picked it up, he had forgot he was out of whiskey and tossed the empty container aside.
“Ahern.” He heard in his head as he sat down against the wall. He always dreaded these talks. He dreaded it even more now that his only solace was denied him. The carrier shuddered again and the power cut off.
He gripped his head in pain! Bones in his face began to feel like they were slowly cracking, every nerve felt like it was on fire and still the voice spoke, “Your carrier is crashing. You don’t have long but I will make sure your final moments are painful!”
“Supreme Commander I did everything I could!” Ahern sobbed as his entire body began twist as bones popped, muscles tore as skin split beneath his uniform.
“You did an excellent job, if your best was get drunk and consistently fail!” The leader of the Iron army roared from parts unknown as he tortured Ahern with his telepathy. “What was that you were always afraid of? Your head exploding? Well… General.”
Ahern tried to scream as he gasped for air and his body levitated. His skull began to expand until it erupted with bone, blood and flesh.
The Geofront II,
The Directors Private Quarters:
“It was… an undertaking. All those moving parts and coming up with it on the fly. But I have to say this was our greatest win yet, Carol” The Director said in the confort of his bed with the Queen of New Latveria. It had been six months without speaking to her. Without her touch. The Colorado mission unlike previous victories against the Iron Army was something to celebrate. Something to share with the woman he had served with for two hundred years. It was just as much a gift to her as it was a mission to show the world Stryfe could be beaten.
“Ours? It was your plan, Augustus.” Carol Danvers said, looking a little dejected as she lied on Holland’s chest and embraced him tightly. “Only you could have inspired the resistance so much. More than me these days, I’d say.”
“You’re still a hero, Carol.” Holland said as he ran a gentle hand through the queen’s hair. “I just turned our resistance into an Army. With Mindbender sifting through the minds of the civilians in Denver to see who we could trust, and the militia built up by our agents S.H.I.E.L.D is as it was when Nick Fury died.”
“The Iron soldiers that were under Agent Brooks’ control don’t remember a thing. Only that they were fighting rebels, but unconsciously they’re giving me data on the Empire.” Holland said.
Carol raised an eyebrow and looked at Holland with a look of confusion, “You have spys inside the Iron Army that don’t even realize they’re spying?”
“Yes. By now they all may have been moved around the world. All over different bases, feeding us any and everything.” Holland said feeling triumphant. “And when I call for it… they’ll strike Stryfe at his very core.”
“People think you’re dead still, Augustus. Will it work even then?” Carol asked as she teasingly poking him in the chest. “The Life Model Decoy was really convincing. Agents in the know are a little upset you took it that far. I had to convince the ones that stayed here after Denver that it really was you calling the shots here.”
“Kimberlyn before she died, imprinted them to follow my orders. It won’t be a problem. Though…” Holland rolled on top of Carol and kissed her affectionately. “There are advantages to being dead. Nobody in the Iron Army will see me coming.”
Carol smirked and rolled the Director of Shield on his back. She pinned him beneath her with her super strength and laughed as he squirmed under her, “It’s going to be a pain keeping that a secret. But if you stay dead we have an advantage.”
Holland laughed,” Now that I’ve got you all riled up, we need to have a serious conversation about actually defeating the Iron Army.”
“About finally killing, Stryfe!”