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Tim Stuart parked the car on his driveway, and as soon as he got out saw that the door had been forced open. Gesturing for his elderly father to stay in the car, he popped the trunk and removed a long handled spanner from his toolkit.
"Tom is that you brother?" Tim asked, his well-muscled arms tensed up as he got ready to defend his home.
"In the kitchen." A female voice announced, causing Tim to spin round in the half darkness and head towards the intruder. Opening the door he saw a red haired woman dressed in a metallic green suit of armour, a pair of bird like wings folded along her back. At her feet, hands bound and dressed in his costume was his brother Tom.
"He going to be okay?" Tim asked worriedly.
"He will be, I thought it prudent to take these off him though." The bird suited woman announced as she placed a small bag loaded with cash and jewellery on the table. "He'll be out for a while Mr Stuart or do I call you Discus?"
"Tim will do." Tim replied. "And what do I call you?"
"Valerie Jessup, or if we're in the field Kestrel." Valarie replied as Tim's father edged into the house, his hand shaking.
"What are you doing in my house?" Tim's father snapped as he stumbled to the phone. "You're all robbers! Get out or I'll..." Tim walked over and placed his hand on his father's. "Tim, you're back from Nepal! When did you get back?"
"A while back Dad, let's get you washed and off to bed." Tim stated.
"You and Tom are good boys, my good boys." The old man cooed, unaware of the armoured intruder in his home.
"Can this wait a few hours?" Tim asked, his response a sage nod from Valerie.
"It's dementia." Tim sighed, as he and Valerie rolled Tom onto the sofa. "Came back from Nepal and Bhutan to find that my dad's mind had slipped. Between looking after him and keeping my brother from stripping the ole family home I have little time for anything else."
"SHIELD would gladly give your father medical support in return for your aid." Valarie announced as she watched Tim pull a blanket over his brother.
"Why me though?" Tim asked as he sat down at the kitchen table.
"Because you spent three years wandering the world bettering yourselves." Valarie explained. "We realised that when we picked up some Hydra grunts who claimed to have been beaten up by a red haired Captain America wannabe with a Frisbee. We watched you from that moment on with baited breath to see which side of the line you'd stand on."
"Plan was to go back to hunting criminals but dad put that on hold." Tim replied as his brother on the sofa let out a loud snore.
"Would you like to try again? I need a dependable marksman and you've become one and more." Valerie stated.
"Only if my dad was cared for." Tim sighed as he heard a shout coming from upstairs.
"It'll be arranged." Valarie told him. "In the morning of course, although we need to go now, time is not on our side."
Tim nodded, before looking around, his eyes focusing on Tom asleep on the sofa. Walking over to the sleeping man, Tim jabbed him in the ribs so hard that the man woke up with a start.
"I'll gut you for that you..." Tom snarled only for Tim to cover his mouth with his hand.
"Shut up and actually be useful for once!" Tim snapped. "Look after dad while I'm gone, his medication schedule is on the fridge and the grocery budget is in the top drawer.
"But it's your turn!" Tom whined.
"It's been my turn for the last four and a half years, now it's yours." Tim stated. "And if I find anything missing or that Dad's been hurt..." He stopped and looked at Tom's shocked face, confident that his brother had got the message.
Alan Teach sat in the coffee shop next to the grizzled old man dressed in torn jeans and a mud stained shirt. Alan had been fine with Valerie picking up the modified 'Vulture' flight suit from one of her father's storage lockers, nor the swift drive up to Seattle via Denver. What he did object to was the strange old man that Valarie had met up with for a teleportation spell. It didn't help that the man, known only as the 'Bonekeeper', seemed insane and constantly carried around the thigh bone of a long deceased human.
"You're coffees." A scared looking waitress chirped timidly from the next table over as she placed the tray down.
"Ah yes, ah yes here it is." The Bonekeeper muttered, as he snatched two cups away and poured the contents of one over his bone, the liquid momentarily revealing intricate carvings. "Is that good, is that warming?" The man asked. "Good, good and no you can't have mine!" He snapped.
"Please stop, this is so embarrassing." Alan muttered through gritted teeth.
"She started it!" The Bonekeeper hissed. "Yes you did stop lying!" He snarled as he pointed an accusing bony finger at the bone.
"Enough!" Alan yelled as he snatched the bone away and put it in the duffel bag at his feet. "It's a bone, it can't talk!" He yelled, his words seemingly causing the Bonekeeper's eyes to water.
"Please give her back." He whimpered, as a woman dressed in a silver fish scale effect dress walked in, her platinum blonde hair contrasting with her dark skin.
"You've got to be kidding me." The woman sighed as she approached the table and sat down in a vacant chair. "Valerie told me that there would be...humans." She stopped and shuddered slightly. "She never mentioned there would be dirty ones."
"You must be Tekna, the hacker Valerie called up." Alan replied coldly.
"What does she mean by humans?" The Bonekeeper asked as he coyly tried to hook the duffel bag with his foot in order to reclaim the confiscated bone.
"We do blend in very well don't we?" Tekna purred as the scales on her dress moved slightly to reveal a swarm of cyborg silverfish embedded to her skin. "We often march as one, so my swarm brothers and sisters are used to sticking close to me." She added, her eyes darting over to the Bonekeeper and his struggle to reclaim his beloved leg bone.
"Why me? Why am I the one who has to stay with the crazies?" Alan moaned as the Bonekeeper's efforts were rewarded.
"He's very strange isn't he?" The Bonekeeper asked.
"Indeed." Tekna replied, her right eyebrow raised in equal parts competent and amusement.
"I wasn't talking to you." The Bonekeeper hissed, as Alan began to bang his head against the table. "Yes I know," He sighed, "the cheek of some people."
"That feels wrong." Tim groaned as reality warped around him as he and Valerie were teleported from Atlanta to Seattle in the space of a minute.
"Hopefully it'll be easier next time." Valarie moaned as she eyed the totem of both stone and bone sitting in the corner of the room. Beyond that Alan and Tekna were sitting open mouthed at a table, the later looking as if she was about to faint. "Tekna good to see you and your swarm arrived safely."
"Well 'V' I only had to take a ferry and a cab to get here." Tekna replied as she got up and gave Valerie a big hug. "I see you brought the beef with you too, now that's a man worth watching." She purred before letting out a low soft laugh.
"Hey aren't I good enough to be watched?" Alan asked as Tim walked over to the group.
"We can talk hormones later." Valerie stated as she sat down at the table, the others following suite. "Where's the Bonekeeper?" She asked as her head swivelled left and right.
"Preparing the space for whatever you asked him to do." Alan told her, a worried look on his face.
"Then I guess it's time to explain what the plan is." Valarie stated as she placed a coin sized hard drive on the table before connecting it to Tekna’s laptop. "Our target is Ford Iain Kallet, from now on known as the HVT. Our plan..."
"I'm not kidnapping the Vice President." Tim replied coldly as he pushed his chair back in readiness to stand up. "Or storming the White House for that matter." He added.
"Tim you were a criminal for a long time, one who got caught, not to mention one who was very overt. Trust me when I say that Kallet is a bigger crook than you, not only that but he's also getting away with his crimes because he has public office." Valarie stated, her ire raising with almost every word. "HE'S BLOODY WELL RUNNING THE COUNTRY AND HE'S SPREADING HATE!!" She exploded before banging her fist on the table. "He's an evil up there with Doom, Osborne and Kang, I just know it. I know you'd stand up to them if you could, all of us would."
"Look I'm not a politics kind of guy." Alan stated quietly. "But you can't accuse guys on the hill of being evil without proof." He added as the Bonekeeper walked wearily into the room.
"I have proof." Valarie stated. "Actually I and my friend have proof if we're willing to see her and claim it."
"Where's this 'friend'?" Tim asked cautiously.
"Hidden in the darkness, we wouldn't tread their willingly." The Bonekeeper wheezed, as Valerie got to her feet and led the others into the next room, a dark pool of water spilled on the floor in a room so brightly lit that everything looked dull in comparison to the areas the lights actually struck.
"She's in the Dark Dimension." Valarie sighed. "And we're going to bust her out."