A/N: Hey! So, as you all have probably inferred, I have a passing fascination with Marvel movies. So, as is tradition with productions from Marvel Studios, here are two "post-credit stingers". There were supposed to be three, but the third would be better served as part of Book Two itself.
Warning: the first one contains smut. MaravillaKatana is rubbing off on me.
"The Greatest Trick the Devil Ever Pulled"
He'd done his part.
He'd acted the role of the grieving brother. Worn the mask of a sorrowful sibling lamenting the fate of a role model taken too soon. Attended the funeral procession through the streets of New Arendelle, following just in his shadow as per usual, and endured the wailing of the onlookers and the dirty looks of his other eleven siblings. Given a fitting yet empty eulogy at the burial, concealing his puzzlement at the solemn contemplation adorning countless faces before him.
All of that, plus having to act the part of the bereaved brother so convincingly his own father was fooled, in the stage production of Supreme Commander Henrik Larsen's Exquisite Yet Completely Nauseating And Redundant Funeral was, quite frankly, exhausting.
The cast of his brother's favourite procedural crime holo-show was among the processions attendees, however. He'd have liked that.
The moment Hans walked into his luxurious New Arendelle apartment, away from the trivial and perplexing emotional turmoil of the family mansion, was the moment he could finally let the mask drop and banished the conjured emotions of grief and sorrow. There were many things he'd rather have done, but still. One must keep up appearances.
Passing through the living room toward the bedroom door at the far left, he began unbuttoning the jacket of his dress uniform. A moment of rest before the next phase of his scheme, the ascension to Supreme Commander. It was a sure thing - the success of the Purge had seen to that - but one cannot account for the unpredictability of life.
When he opened the door to his bedroom, however, and made a beeline toward the wardrobe on the opposite wall where his spare uniforms were kept, a voice crept his way from the vicinity of his bed. Husky and playful, it reminded him of carnal escapades and depraved antics.
"You know, you almost had me convinced."
Startled, his head whipped around, and his gaze rested upon the voice's owner. There she was, draped on her side on his bed like an irresistible temptress, his grey silk sheets moulded around her like they were but an extension of her glorious, curvaceous body, stopping just above her nipples yet showing off her cleavage like a silent coax. She looked at him with hungry yet amused emerald eyes, her loose red hair cascading down the arm propping her head up and pooling onto his silk pillow.
"How did you get in here, Kowalski?"
His snap did not make her flinch in the least. Rather, her smile widened, and even the way she slowly blinked aroused a familiar sensation in his pants.
"I have my ways, Supreme Commander," she said, her sultry tones doing a marvellous job of strengthening his arousal.
Hans watched her for a few more seconds, before scoffing quietly. He turned back to the wardrobe and resumed unbuttoning his dress jacket as his other hand opened the oak door. "You're getting ahead of yourself, Kowalski."
"Oh, but I disagree." There was an edge to her voice that instantly held his attention, and set off a sensation of wariness in his gut. "I think it's only a matter of time."
Hans froze, and the button slipped from his left hand. He turned back, right hand clenching at his hip. Eyes narrowing, he gave her a look of utter suspicion.
"Why are you here?"
She let out a small but sly giggle, and her voice took on an edge of silkiness. "I have a proposition."
"And what would that be?"
Her right index finger slowly, temptingly, moved to the empty space of the bed where it glided delicate circles in the bedsheet. "Well, part of my career… under you… is to see patterns. To see the devil in the details. One might look at the events leading up to this moment as coincidental, but… three years ago, the Valkyries were created, and they did a marvellous job of cleaning up the abnormal filth. Under the late Supreme Commander, they become the poster girls for Unity's military - and subsequently, application numbers have never been higher. However, no-one knew who was the true mastermind behind their creation."
Hans stiffened, his mind already conjuring his options, predicting where her train of thought was leading.
"Three years later, the Purge. Several weeks after that, Supreme Commander Henrik Larsen and High Inquisitor Gothel Delrada are murdered while on their way to a routine inspection… by the very same black ops squad the Supreme Commander oversaw. A strike team is dispatched, and the Valkyries are shot down and destroyed, thus paving the way for Inquisitor Jafar… and you… to ascend to their positions. All of Unity sees this as a horrible turn of events, as some kind of coincidence… but I saw a cleverly constructed scheme… and opportunity."
"For what?" Hans asked, his voice low and careful. "All I hear is the product of a vivid imagination."
Another giggle. "Perhaps."
He stalked over to the bed, clambering onto the mattress like a predator cornering its prey. Grabbing her wrists, she emitted a surprised gasp as he pinned them either side of her head, and leaned down over her, staring deep into her eyes with darkness… and lust. "And even if, hypothetically, you were right - what's to stop me from having you executed for sedition?"
Her smile widened, and Hans was gaining the impression he had underestimated just how dangerous and attractive she was. "Absolutely nothing. All I have is a theory, and even if I told anyone… who would believe a lowly personal assistant over the man who orchestrated the destruction of the abnormals? No… I am vulnerable, in an extremely precarious position. I am no threat - you have all the power. I have nothing to offer as a bargain… except…"
"Except what?" Hans growled.
"Myself," she answered so matter of factly, he wondered if she hadn't been plotting it from the beginning. "How hard do you intend to pursue this? How deep? How… far will you go?"
If it hadn't already, Hans' pants were stiffening to breaking point. Kowalski had a way with words in the bedroom, dirty talk and innuendo that consistently teased his arousal and intensified his lust to an animalistic level. She was the only person who made him feel anything, even if it was sexual or powerful in nature. His hungry gaze traced every inch of her perfect face, and a rush of heat swelled in his abdomen.
"All the way," he murmured, as he lowered his lips to brush against hers.
"Well, we have a problem," she responded. "don't we?"
Hans' lips glided over to her neck. "And what would that be?"
There was a small gasp, and Hans could feel the shift of her weight on the bed as she arched her back.
"Becoming Unifier would put an end to our regular meetings - it would be unspeakable for one in such a position of power to continue an illicit sexual relationship with a lowly personal assistant of the Staging Ground… and I have become rather fond of how you fuck me," she explained, her voice breathy.
"So, what is it you want?"
Kowalski let out a playful titter, followed by a sharp moan as his tongue played with the crook of her neck. "Personal Assistant to the Unifier sounds like a prestigious position, don't you agree?"
"It does." Hans released her wrists and straightened up. His hands glided down her arms, over her shoulders, and grasped the fabric of the silk sheet. Slowly, teasingly, he pulled it down, uncovering her glorious and ample breasts for his visual delight. Large, soft as cotton, with nipples rock hard and at attention. Just how he liked them. "I have fantasised about fucking you senseless over the Unifier's table."
"I look forward to making that a reality for you," she said in a come-hither voice that did little for his raging lust, her hands reaching to hold his shoulders, a pleased smile adorning her lips, "but for now…"
He felt a gentle push against his left shoulder as a silent request to change position. Normally he would harden his body and resist, preferring to be the one on top and in control, but something about her at that moment gave him pause, telling him that maybe once, she should be on top. Maybe she should take the lead, at least for the next hour or so. He slipped out of his dress jacket and tossed it away, seconds before her soft, hungry lips crashed against his with a desire and thirst she'd rarely displayed until then. He followed her wordless direction, and laid down on his back at her side, watching her beautiful breasts sway temptingly over his chest as she clambered over him, and felt the tell-tale searing heat of her wetness against his hardened groin.
"...my commanding officer has had a tough day, and I know just how to help him relax."
Hans said nothing as she shuffled backwards, choosing instead to revel in the feeling of his pants being undone and yanked down to his ankles, and bask in the sensation of her scalding mouth as she wolfed him down. Her cheeks hollowing, she locked gazes with him as her head bobbed, turned and shook over his length… and she never looked prettier than she did sucking him off.
Maybe the arrangement would be worthwhile - especially when the next thing out of her delectable mouth reminded him of just how handy she was - and how he'd underestimated her - once his length left her mouth with a loud pop.
"There is one thing that is concerning me," she murmured, before leaning over his dick and wrapping her voluptuous bosom around it. A shuddering breath escaped his throat at the sheer bliss of her silky skin gliding up and down.
"And that is?" he asked with a touch of a growl.
"The Valkyries were destroyed, leaving behind nothing but a sword and a smoking crater, correct?"
"Yes," Hans answered, trying to focus on her line of questioning and not on the sensations of pure pleasure coursing through him.
"So," she continued, stopping once to suck on the tip before speeding up her jerking, "why did none of our fighters return?"
Hans' eyes snapped open. She was right, and he'd been too focused on the next stage of his scheme, preoccupied with fooling everyone around hinlm to truly think on it. A three day search of the wreckage - not that there was much to begin with, having been vaporized by a suspected fuel cell overload - had yielded nothing but Elsa Snowfield's pure unidium sword. Jafar's Inquisitors had conducted the search, and brought it back as evidence of their demise.
Which meant one of two things; either Elsa's excellent piloting skills and Astrid Hofferson's exceptional aim had won them the day…
...or he was being lied to.
"I mean, the idea that the Valkyries destroyed a superior force before they perished, with no bodies to prove their demise, and only the word of a High Inquisitor-to-be to go on strikes me as a little convenient," Kowalski mused, her voice breathy, her eyes calculating
"You think… they had help?" he panted - it was becoming harder and harder to think straight.
"I think no bodies belonging to four Valkyries, and no remains belonging to the Ghosts makes for a… curious notion."
The last thought that went through Hans' mind before a roaring orgasm banished all cognitive thought, coating the moaning Kowalski's face and breasts with his inevitable victory, was that it was definitely worth keeping her around.
And that another plan was needed - but not before fucking the delicious redhead senseless, of course.
"From Russia With Love"
The caves of Siberia were no place for a baby, especially one who had likely inherited Aster's preference for warmer climates. Considering he preferred to walk barefoot - his abnormality liked to destroy footwear through excessive wear - the perpetual Russian winter led him to constantly lament that he couldn't feel his feet. Nicholas loved the cold, but he had kangaroos loose in the top paddock, in Aster's humble opinion.
Still, portable heaters powered by Lumino-Cells did a decent job of making liveable the widespread cave system in which they lived, so there was that at least.
Serena shifted her weight in his tattooed arms, sound asleep, and he dipped his head to marvel at the six week old, his dreadlocks draping down his shoulder. Their miracle baby, a product of the deep love between him and his handfasted wife Thiana "Tooth Fairy" Vaswani. The day she was born was the day Aster swore an oath to make the world a better place for her and her kind to live in.
To keep hope alive.
He remained there, perched on the edge of their basic, flimsy camp bed, admiring his daughter for several further, happy minutes, until a voice from the small cavern's entrance reached his ears.
"How's she doing?"
It was the voice belonging to the woman who never failed to bring him joy and love, beauty and comfort. He felt the bed dip at his left side, and saw a hand glide across his vision to stroke a single, dainty finger over Serena's temple.
"Little mite's had a big day watching the world go by," Aster cooed. "She's all tuckered out."
He looked over at his wife, whose purple eyes glimmered with motherly warmth. She was as beautiful as the day he first met her; heart-shaped face framed with vibrant yellow, green and blue hair, and fairy-like wings that grew proudly from her shoulders. Fast and fierce in battle, yet gentle and cheerful at home.
She looked up at him, and her cheeks flushed with a visible, shy red. "What?" she asked, smiling awkwardly under his gaze.
"Just counting myself lucky, is all."
Thiana let out an amused giggle, playfully pushing against him with her shoulder, and said, "Damn right. Hope you've still got some of that luck - North just called for a meeting of the Guardians."
Aster's brows knitted together in bewildered confusion. "What, now? We ain't scheduled for another mission yet."
Thiana shrugged, her silent way of saying, "do I look like a clairvoyant to you?" and gestured with her head toward the cavern entrance she'd entered from. Huffing, Aster held the peaceful Serena close to him as he rose to his feet, and a cloud of irritability followed him as he walked behind Thiana to the large cavern in the centre of the sprawling cave system, dim golden lights fixed to the rocky walls leading the way. He'd hoped to be spending a good few days with his family.
The tunnel opened up into the Nexus, the nerve centre of the Resistance, where men and women bustled to and fro, some carrying pre-war firearms or crates of supplies, others holding data crystals or spare parts needed for repairs, a dozen voices all morphing into one background noise. Aster shot a glare at a muscle-bound man with long auburn hair and striking blue eyes for nearly bumping into him on his way past, muttering that "Hercules better look where he's going," after the man blurted a quick apology.
Nicholas St. North, a big, boisterous man with superhuman strength and limitless cheer to match was the first to notice their arrival, leaning over the digitable in the centre of the room. To his left stood the comparatively tiny Sanderson "Sandman" Mansnoozie, a mute warrior with golden sand for weapons - weird as that was, though Aster had to constantly remind himself not to judge - and the serious, dour Li Shang at his right, and up until North had looked up at Aster and Thiana's entry, they'd been deeply focused on some text scrawled on the digitable's surface. Whatever it was gave the mercurial Australian a sinking feeling.
"Bunny! Tooth!" he greeted them, as they stopped a few feet away from the table, prompting Li Shang and Sanderson to glance up. "How is child?"
"Sleeping, and I'll knock out whoever of you lot wakes her up!" Aster snapped.
Nicholas' lips pursed into an O shape, and he leaned down to tap a small red button on the digitable's edge. Aster's vision was immediately flooded with a deep, dim red; the call for top secrecy always came in the form of the wall-mounted lights flashing twice in red, instantly silencing the raucous bustling and causing everyone not called Nicholas St. North, Sanderson Mansnoozie, Li Shang, Thiana Vaswani or Aster Bunnymund to cease their activity and file out of the Nexus. Several seconds of footsteps passed until, mercifully without disturbing Serena's slumber much to Aster's relief, the Nexus emptied itself of all but the Guardians.
Bar one - the woman they'd picked up several years ago off the western coast of Japan. Sat on a crate against the rocky wall far to Li Shang's left, her face dwelling in the shadows cast by the newly-returned dim gold lights, she seemed to be observing the proceedings.
Or she could be asleep, for all Aster knew.
"What's this all about, North?" he asked.
"Is good question, Bunny," Nicholas answered, his thick Russian accent turning his sentence into one the English language would be cringing at, "and one requiring I get down to tacks of brass. Six hours ago, data crystal was left at one of drop points in Kiev. We study it closely, and reach only one conclusion: is from Alliance."
There was a twofold gasp from both Aster and Thiana. "Wait, they-" she began.
Nicholas waved it off. "Do not worry, Thiana. Nearby safehouses have been disavowed. We will not use them again, and will change inter-communications protocols."
Aster exchanged a look with his wife; the idea that the Alliance knew where and how to leave a data crystal for the Resistance to find sent a deep chill through his bones, and caused him to hold Serena a little bit tighter.
It also begged the question:
"So what's on the crystal?" Thiana asked.
"It was a message," Li Shang answered, "from President Frollo himself."
Aster gaped. The most racist, hyper-religious, ruthless man in control of the Alliance - though with the constant arguing of the Senate, that was an impressive feat - sending a message to the very people his soldiers fought? The hell was he playing at?
The chill in his bones grew all the more.
"I have a bad feeling about this, mate," Aster muttered.
"You are not the only one," Li Shang agreed, giving him a grave look, "but once we took the necessary precautions, we listened to the message - and it's bad news. Their spy in the upper echelons of Unity's power structure has been steadily feeding them information for years, now, and according to them we know there's been a change in the key players. Their Supreme Commander and High Inquisitor were murdered a few weeks ago, which means their spy is now in line to take one of their places."
"Which puts them one step below Unifier," Nicholas added. "Most powerful man in Unity. If spy can be manoeuvred into place, Alliance have puppet government sympathetic to its interests."
Aster shot each of them a dumbfounded look, though it was less out of stupidity and more of bewilderment they were even entertaining President Frollo's clandestine schemes. It was like he'd walked into an alternate reality where everyone had taken idiocy pills and slept upside down, and he was the only damn sane person in the damn room.
"So why do we care? The Alliance wanna instigate some coup d'etat, let 'em. Not our problem - but the people like us stuck in the internment camps are."
"I have to agree with my husband," Thiana chimed in, moving close to his side. "I don't see why this is any of our business."
Li Shang's lips curled into a half-smile. Aster hated that, since it usually meant something was going from bad to worse. "This is why," he said, and tapped a button on the hidden side of the table. Four green orbs blinked into life at the four corners of the table, emitting cones of translucent emerald light that met in the dead centre, hovering a foot above the surface. Within the glowing convocation, a large object made of hard light rotated in a leisurely circle - and it didn't take a pilot to understand what it was.
"This," Nicholas gestured at the object, "is called Hammer of Unity. Has six heavy pulse cannons, four medium pulse cannons, and energy resistant armor. You recall what we saw in middle of Atlantic, where Guardian Star sailed?"
It would take a miracle to remove the images seared into his memory of corpses floating listlessly on the sea's surface and the wreckage and debris of the once proud aircraft carrier. It was the only time he ever saw Li Shang shed a tear, and the only time Aster ever felt hopelessness - such a loss of life was tragic, and though it was clear a great battle was fought, it only ended in a massacre.
Li Shang added to the heavy sensation weighing Aster's heart. "This was responsible."
Thiana let slip a loud gasp, and Aster felt the familiar rush of air as her wings gave away her reaction, fluttering her into a gentle hover. Casting her a concerned glance, he said, "At the risk of sounding like a broken record, mates, what's that got to do with us?"
Rubbing the back of his neck, Li Shang groaned in exasperation. "Everything, Aster. This ship is huge, deadly, and the Alliance believe it was built for one thing, and one thing only - full scale war on Alliance territory. If that thing ever makes landfall, there's no stopping it - and if you think abnormals have it bad this side of the Atlantic? The spy says Unity makes our internment camps look like five-star hotels."
"Li Shang and I-" Nicholas held up his hands as a peacemaking gesture, noticing the look of daggers Aster shot at the Guardians' second-in-command, "-both agree that if Unifier were to launch full-scale offensive with this-" he pointed at the hovering monstrosity, "-as the spearhead, then it would only be matter of weeks before Alliance falls to Unity… and if Alliance falls, we fall."
Aster scoffed, loud enough to disturb the slumbering Serena into issuing a quiet whimper. Quickly sending his arms into a gentle jiggle, he said, "So, what, we've gotta go with the lesser of two pretty fuckin' evil evils?"
Li Shang gave Nicholas a look that screamed "do we have to?", prompting Aster to throw him another death-glare, and the huge man returned Li Shang's expression with an unimpressed eyebrow. "That is what we are saying, Aster," Nicholas said, turning his head to look at him. "If Alliance can manoeuvre spy into Unifier position, then there will be no war - is better to fight one enemy, rather than two. Which is where we come in - as we can get into Unity territory easier than Alliance black ops squads can."
"We're going to assassinate the Unifier," Thiana breathed.
Nicholas clapped two hands together in an uncharacteristically gentle display. "Exactly. I knew you were smartest one in family."
Aster shot a glare at his wife, who merely returned it with a knowing smile.
"So let me get this straight," he said with a brisk cadence, irritation rising by the second, "we're going into a country we don't know, to assassinate a guy who's probably guarded by every soldier and his mother, with no backup and no plan? You've come up with some crazy schemes, North, but this takes the cake."
"Which is why we will need help."
Four pairs of eyes instantly switched to the woman in the shadows, who uncrossed her legs and stood. She took two steps forward, revealing dark brown eyes, black hair, and a face of Chinese ancestry despite speaking with a clearly American accent. Dressed in an all black bodysuit, she stood tall and proud, confident, as befitted an exceptional jianke - her twin jian swords were more than a match for Nicholas' shashkas.
Aster snorted, shaking his head. "Since when did we need help?"
The woman ignored him, and instead addressed the group, holding her hands behind her back. "I can get us into Unity territory the same way I left, but it's been over six years. Things have probably changed since I've been gone, so we'll need help from people who know the lay of the land." She paused, giving each of them a look… though Aster swore he was the only one who received a glare.
"We will need to find my old team."
Thiana looked puzzled at the notion, like the woman had overlooked something critically important to her plan of action. "Um," she hummed, casting each member a confused look, "you saw the Star. How do you know they're still alive?"
The woman gave her a knowing smirk. "Oh, they're alive. If there's anything the Ghosts do best, it's survive. I did lead them, and personally mentored one of them, after all."
Can you tell who it is, yet?
See you all soon!
*clicks Completed button*