Been a while right?
Well for answers to my absence, read to the end till ya get to the AN.
Till then, let's pick up where we left off.
Rate Read and Review and as Always Have Nice Day.
Avengers Infinite Wars Chapter 80: The Immortal Khan
Concepts long desired and pursued by mankind.
To have power is to be able to exert your will upon the world and those around you. The power to achieve and pursue what it is you desire without repercussion or obstacles to stop you, only delaying the inevitability of your victory.
To have legacy assures your name will be known by all the world over until the last page of history is written.
With that legacy, it gives way to immortality. Immortality to your lineage, your history is secured. But there are other forms of immortality that men pursue.
The immortality in the more literal sense of the word. To never age, never perish, never wither away to the sands of time.
To be eternal and let the world personally know that you are one who shall never die.
These three concepts are ones that men from all corners of the world have chased after since the dawn of mankind. There are those who achieved one, for the most part, primarily powering briefly as it was.
Legacy was trickier as it can be eternal or a short reach in the pages of history. Immortality even more so.
Yet there are some rare exceptions that manage to attain all three.
Be it by chance, fate or self-determination, the trifecta of power, legacy and immortality has been achieved by people of exceptional make.
This is the tale of one man that achieved power, legacy and immortality in one fell swoop.
How it came to be was one that was constantly in question. Was it stumbled upon? Found by complete accident? Or was it the work of destiny?
These questions persisted him just as much as his many titles that came in the wake of his rise to prominence.
The warrior king.
The Last and Immortal Khan.
The Conqueror of the underworld.
The Most Dangerous Man in the World.
The leader of the organization that he named after his tools.
Xu Wenwu, the head of the Ten Rings.
Where he comes from, well, China is the broad answer but his true origin remains as elusive as he is.
He had led the Ten Rings for centuries, a thousand years at least but the man behind it all remains a mystery. Almost as mysterious as the tools from which the organization gets its namesake.
The ten rings, or bands, as some might describe them to be, gave Wenwu extraordinary powers and capabilities.
Enhanced strength, speed, reflexes, agility, stamina, immortality, energy manipulation and so on and so forth.
Where they come from, no one knows. Rumors persisted that the leader of the Ten Rings himself had no true inkling of an idea of where these powerful artifacts originated from.
But that didn't matter to the man at the end of the day. All that mattered to him was one thing.
Or rather, three.
Power, Legacy and Immortality.
He could have been a good man, a gracious man who led many times over towards prosperity but ah, the vanity and desire of humanity overcame such wants and beliefs.
For centuries, Wenwu spread the influence of the Ten Rings far and wide until it engulfed all of China.
And when he conquered all that there was in the country, his eyes turned west and east and south and north. All four corners of the world would one-day fall sway to his power whether they would know it or not.
But Wenwu soon realized that there were other orders, other people who would stand in his way.
Martial artists of incredible renown, sorcerers whose power defies the laws of this universe, literal gods and monsters that denied him on his path.
Yet they did little to deter the Immortal Khan. They had only strengthened his resolve and determination to attain more and strive for greater riches and influence.
But Wenwu wasn't a bullheaded fool.
No, in these encounters and battles, the leader of the Ten Rings learned that despite the power he had received, he was still fallible, vulnerable to defeat.
So he would not fight the enemies he makes in this world alone.
He began recruiting individuals of extraordinary capabilities and power unto themselves to bolster the strength of his organization. This has occurred time and time again when said individuals have died -one way or another- for other reasons.
As time went on, he had to be creative in terms of one's power; more so with the present age.
For a man like Wenwu, seeing such change occur so drastically in such a short amount of time being eight years… well, put it into the perspective of a man who has lived for a thousand years, he has seen empires rise and fall. He even participated in causing said empires to collapse.
This man has seen an assortment of events transpire, him sometimes being at the epicenter of it all. Through time, Wenwu has discovered greater mysteries and wonders of this lone blue planet. From Gods to ancient civilizations hidden in plain sight, the Khan of the Ten Rings knew there was much in this world still yet to be seen.
However, things started to change or rather, escalate in the eyes of this immortal conqueror.
The 20th century had its own fair share of events but the most significant was that of the legend birthed during the Second World War.
That of Captain America.
The man that many regards as the world's first superhero and retroactively after 2012, the world's First Avenger.
Wenwu didn't realize he along with one other man would herald an age of Marvels and Heroes.
2008 was the year it all began.
It was a splinter cell of his faction but nonetheless, they inadvertently caused the birth of one of Earth's most famous heroes and defenders.
Tony Stark AKA Iron Man.
Wenwu made sure to hunt down this rogue faction and silence them should they ever be tracked and found by Stark himself. They had been purchased by one Obadiah Stane for his ambitions of taking over Stark Industries. And for that, they were compromised until the Mandarin came in and cleaned up the mess.
Yet then again, another instance occurred, drawing focus towards his organization, even if it's not direct.
Once more, the issue was focused on Tony Stark because of a man snubbed by him years ago. Him having his revenge with his AIM whilst using the Ten Rings as a front for his goals. In the end, they were taken care of by Stark.
And again, there were some factors Wenwu needed to take care of in the end.
Yet, being as long-lived as he was, Wenwu was a man of foresight. He made sure to have his mind focused on the present but had his sights always ahead to the future.
With how drastic the world was beginning to change during the 20th century, the immortal Khan realized that the 21st century would only compound on such change. So he needed his Ten Rings to be ready.
Enter one of the first recruits of his modernized Ten Rings.
An outcast by the name of Mordred the Mystic, the Mystic being a moniker given to him by the village he found him in.
He was an ambitious man, having broken away from the order he was once sworn to in pursuit of higher knowledge, power and mysteries.
A cut from the same cloth as the bearer of the Ten Rings.
And be it by divine providence or chance, when Wenwu met this sorcerer, Mordred sought a location he himself had been searching for centuries.
The fabled land of Ta Lo.
A land known for its creatures, mythology and above all else, power.
He hasn't thought of going there in years, ever since her passing.
But now things have changed with recent events.
And now it's time for a long-awaited reunion.
There are certain days that everyone goes through that they will look back on in life and ask just what in the hell happened that day.
Like a prom date gone wild, a trip to the store turns into a mini adventure of errands and odd occurrences.
Or a bus ride to work turning into a life or death situation where your best friend is apparently a kung fu master and the guys he was fighting tore the bus in half. And right after such a hectic event, being brought into the nearest police precinct and being questioned for what felt like hours about the random violent men causing the whole issue before being released.
You know, those types of workday mornings.
We've all had them.
Well… other than Katy Chen. At least not to that previously mentioned example/experience that she just went through.
The young woman was barely keeping up with her best friend who was speed walking ahead of her back to his home.
"Shaun!" She called out to him in vain, her friend completely ignoring her. "Hey Shaun!"
He continued on without acknowledging her words, reaching his apartment entrance and walking in at a rushed pace.
Getting fed with how he was acting, Katy shot her arm forward, grabbing his elbow and roughly pulling him back.
"Shaun." She nearly exclaimed in his face though he showed no reaction to it. "You need to start telling me what the hell is going on? Why'd those guys attack you? What was all that Bruce Lee shit you just pulled off?"
Shaun's shoulders sagged, a look of remorse crossing his face. "I'm sorry you got dragged into all this Katy."
He then turned away from her before she could respond, opening one of his drawers, rummaging through it.
"What-What are you even doing right now? Are you going somewhere?"
Katy's head jolted back in a shake, blinking several times as she registered what he just said.
"Macau?" Katy parroted, almost not believing what just said. Her brain did a mental map of where it was that he was going to, landing in- "China? You're going to China? Why? What's there?"
"My sister." He revealed, sending yet another surprise to his friend. "Those guys are gonna go after her next. I gotta get to her before they do."
"You have a sister?"
"Look, I know this is all confusing but I promise I'll explain everything when I get back." Shaun stated, shoving a bundle of clothes into a small suitcase.
"When you come ba-" Katy caught herself, getting fed up with parroting everything her friend says. Instead, she moved to grab the suitcase he was packing and wrenched it out of his hands.
"No Shaun." She firmly said, glaring at him now. "This is bullshit and you know it. This just happens and you leave without telling me anything?"
"Katy, I just-"
"No." Chen cut him off authoritatively. "That's not how this works Shaun and you know it. I have known you for ten years now. We've been through College and high school together. I get not wanting to talk about certain things which is why I never pushed. But our bus just got ripped in half literally by some dude with a machete for an arm! And now you're just packing up and leaving all willy-nilly? Who the hell does that, Shaun? Who even are you right now?"
Her best friend slumped, eyes gazing down, being unable to meet hers.
He glanced back to see she remained firm in her stance, ready to not budge on whatever excuse he may throw at her.
With a resigned sigh, Shaun walked over to his nightstand, grabbed an opened envelope and handed it to her.
"This came to me a few months ago." He watched as Katy inspected the envelope, seeing an origami dragon design plastered near this apartment's address. Inside was a lone plane ticket voucher. "It came from my sister and that's probably the address where she's staying."
Her eyes lingered on the envelope followed by the plane ticket voucher with an odd feeling of anxiousness welling up in her gut as she stared at it.
"And…" Katy was still trying to process all this. "Those freakshows on the bus?"
"My dad's men. He sent them after me and most likely, they're gonna go after her now."
His friend looked up at him in confused concern.
Shaun's expression then darkened, fists clenching tightly.
"If they hurt her…" The threat was left hanging but Katy was unable to fight the chill running down her spine.
She had never seen such an intense and dangerous expression on his face.
"I'm sorry but I have to go." He quietly said, breaking her out of her thoughts.
Katy looked at him for a few seconds before scrunching her face up and tucking the envelope away in her pocket.
"Fine. You can explain on the plane." She stated, turning to leave.
Shaun was thrown off for a moment. "What? No, Katy, you can't just-"
"You can explain on the plane, Shaun!" She interrupted, emphatically jabbing her finger in his direction.
Shaun's raised arm fell to his side as the door to his apartment closed. Much as he wanted to leave right now, he felt horrible enough as is with Katy having seen all that madness and put in danger because of it.
Though, he shouldn't be all that surprised. His best friend wasn't one to be refused and once she gets something on her mind, she's seldom ever talked out of it.
With a shake of his head, Shaun was about to resume his packing when he realized something.
His necklace was gone, stolen by that sword armed assassin back on the bus. The necklace he got from his mother when he was still a child. He still cursed himself for losing something so important to him. That was the last memento he had of his mother.
Shaking his head again, Shaun looked over at his nightstand and slowly walked over to it.
The top drawer was still open and he reached in to pushed aside the clothes in there to find what he was looking for.
It was a square, plain black box that could flip open to reveal a shape meant for his necklace whenever he were to take it off and put it in a place to keep safe. Hand shaking slightly, he took the top layer out of the box to stare at the other object he kept hidden inside.
An object he really wished he had back on the bus earlier today as it would have made the fight infinitely easier to handle.
Tentatively, Shaun picked up a circular ring that glowed with a bluish-purple energy upon being touched before it died down. Wincing at what he was about to do, Shaun slipped the ring band over his wrist and felt it tighten somewhat around him.
A quick thrust of his fist to make sure it was secure, he then resumed his packing whilst ignoring the ring briefly glowing orange before dying down.
As this went on, once storming out of his apartment, Katy had called her respective jobs to inform them of her and Shaun's sudden request for time off.
The first one was relatively easy as she and Shaun had accumulated some vacation days and were planning on using them later this year. Unfortunately, such plans had to change for the here and now.
The one with Hank, however, was slightly tricky.
"Hey, boss, listen I'm not gonna be around to help take care of your lab. Something came up, due to Shaun and I dealing with these crazy goons on our way to work and we now have to go to China to save Shaun's sister I just learned about. Look, I'll explain at a later time but I clearly don't have the answer on hand. Hope you understand, bye."
"... I-I-I-I Mean, I don't know what to do, Mr. Stark. Ahsoka and Barriss are just… well they're both… GRAH, Aunt May is gonna kill me." Whined the young teen superhero, Peter Parker, who was pacing back and forth in the recording he made for Tony Stark.
Said billionaire was watching with a cheeky smirk, eyes alight in amusement and relief at seeing the kid doing alright. More than alright, it would seem, given the fact that he has not one but two lady loves that he found in a galaxy far, far away.
He didn't know if he should feel slightly ashamed of perhaps influencing young Peter into this path or proud that he took his playboy skills to a whole new degree.
…Who was he kidding, of course he was more proud than ashamed of this.
Peter pulled off a James T. Kirk down to the letter in landing with an orange-skinned space babe and a… well, she wasn't green green but she was close enough as yet another alien beauty that the teen hero had scored.
And from his ramblings, Tony was sort of surprised to learn that the two girls not only wanted him but each other and it was that Ahsoka girl that came onto him first, not the other way around.
Sounded like something from a manga or anime. God, he needed to stop watching all that but dammit was it entertaining.
What was he thinking about again?
Ah yes, Peter Parker's plea for help in this matter.
"It's just that Uncle Ben and Aunt May taught me… well… they didn't really teach me much about relationships. But I'm pretty sure they wouldn't approve of me being in a three way-Oh god, what did I just say?!"
Stark began to guffaw at the teen's slip-up, laughing even louder as the boy collapsed to his knees in the recording, hands over his head before he slowly dragged them over his face.
"I don't know what to do, Mr. Stark." Peter Parker whined. "I can't talk to my Aunt May about this, she'd disown me. Uncle Ben would… well I don't know if he'd congratulate or throttle me… or both."
This was just too much fun.
"I doubt she actually could." Muttered out Tony, a large grin in place as Peter kept on rambling. "It's not like she'd disapprove of her only living family member in such an incident. She'd more likely blame me instead."
"Blame you with what?"
Tony clenched up, hand over his chest at the sound of Danny Rand's question.
"Jesus, Kung Fu Hustle, what the hell was that? Haven't you heard of knocking?"
The martial artist flinched slightly, rubbing the back of his head apologetically.
"Er… sorry about that." He said, one eye closed. "What are ya even doing?"
Getting his heart rate under control, Stark gestured to the paused scream of comedically miserable, though not really, Peter Parker.
"Relationship problems." Tony said. "I should be proud of what young Mr. Parker has accomplished. I should be… and I am."
"Uh-huh." Danny responded, unsure of what Stark was insinuating, shaking his head a moment later. "Nevermind, Tony, I got some help over for us."
"Yeah, I reached out to Mordo and Strange." Rand stated. "With the whole Ten Rings stuff, I'm wondering if they may have anything for us that can help."
"Think the wizards of Hogwarts can provide an answer with their magic wands?"
"That was weak Tony, even for you."
"Yeah, yeah, whatever." Stark waved him off. "But what makes ya think they might know?"
He and Rand walked out of the room Tony was occupying and made their way towards the meeting room of Avengers HQ.
"The Ten Rings have always pursued power in any shape or source, be it science or magic." Danny said. "That's what I was taught about them back in K'un-Lun. So I figured if my super secretive kung-fu temple knows about them, then there's a chance the sorcerers do as well."
Tony silently nodded in agreement at the sound logic, the pair of billionaires soon arrived at the meeting room just in time to see Celeste portal in with Strange and Mordo around the table, scrolls and books were strewn about the surface.
"Hey everyone." Danny greeted, getting the attention of the trio of sorcerers. "Thanks for coming so quickly."
"Well, it's not like we had other things to do." Strange idly said. "Sanctums to guard, otherworldly threats to manage."
"We're happy to help." Celeste said, a pointed look at Stephen who ignored it.
"Seemed rather important with how you called us in." Mordo commented, unfurling a scroll. "But when I heard the Ten Rings… not something to be ignored so haphazardly."
Tony perked up at hearing that. "So you know them?"
"About them." Mordo answered, a conflicted expression on his face. "Only passing references here and there. They're rather difficult to find within our library."
"Nothing in our codex either." Celeste tacked on. "I've looked through the London Sanctum and found just passing mentions of these guys."
"Where's Wong?" Stark asked, casually picking up a scroll that had the mark of the Ten Rings on it. He frowned at the inscriptions, not recognizing the language on them. "Figured he'd be here at least."
"He'll be here shortly." Strange said, a wave of his hand to teleport several books back that ended up with no knowledge of what they were looking for. "He's seeing what can find in Kamar-Taj."
"I advised he skim through The Ancient One's personal study." Karl stated, unfurling a parchment, analyzing its contents before making it disappear, sending it back to where it was kept. "If anyone were to have knowledge of the Ten Rings, it's her."
The group continued sifting through the many books, scrolls and parchments, finding only mentions and passing knowledge of the Ten Rings.
"Seriously?" Strange spoke up, getting a bit frustrated with their lack of progress. "There's really nothing we have on them? Nothing at all?"
"We have their tramp stamp." Stark countered.
"But that only acknowledges they exist." Mordo mused, rubbing his chin. "But… if there really is nothing, then it is likely to be true."
Everyone in the room turned to him in confusion.
"What's true?" Morne asked on behalf of the group.
Mordo didn't respond for a few seconds, opening a book up, blinking in surprise.
"Or maybe not all of it is true."
Stephen and Stark rolled their eyes in sync with each other.
"Mord, seriously?" The latter said impatiently. "We're not here for cryptic shit."
The Sorcerer in jade robes cleared his throat apologetically. "Sorry, it's just I had been told by my former master that much of the knowledge of the Ten Rings was erased a number of centuries ago by one who defected from our ranks. But this-"
Mordo turned the book he had opened and placed it on the table for all to see.
"-This is more than likely the last clear knowledge we have on the Ten Rings." Mordo said, placing his finger atop the open page. Below his digit was ten rings piled atop each other in a rough sketch.
"What is this?" Celeste asked, walking around the table to get a better look at the images. She squinted her eyes when they widened a moment later. "Wait… wait, I know these symbols!"
Everyone now turned their attention to the Jedi.
"You do?" Danny asked in slight astonishment.
Celeste rapidly nodded, picking the book up to inspect the symbols and characters closer.
"Yes! This is all made by-"
"-The Kwa made these indents for a reason." Jane said, writing down possible equations and formulas that might serve as a basis for understanding the Infinity Gate better. "These are most likely keys of some kind or devices that can grant us complete control and access to the gate."
"We've had our assumptions on that." Princess Shuri chimed in, idly typing away at a computer to add in her own set of possible formulas that would unlock the secrets of the Gate without the use of outside sources.
"That still doesn't answer several questions." Hank stated, walking around the gate with a flummoxed frown. "This gate turned on its own, sending the other Avengers to an entirely different galaxy. How is that possible without these keys you keep mentioning?"
"The Space Stone." Selvig spoke up, making everyone turn to the astrophysicist.
"The Space Stone?" Said several of the others present in the room.
Selvig nodded, looking through the data that had recovered from the room where the gate was found in.
"When I was researching and testing it and with what Thor has told me about it, the Tesseract… the Space Stone is an Infinity Stone, one of six. That means its power is in its name, infinite. More than a suitable replacement for the ten keys needed to operate this Infinity Gate."
"But HYDRA lost the Space Stone years ago." Darcy pointed out.
"But they also had it for decades when they paraded around like SHIELD." Selvig countered. "More than enough time to have studies of their own and siphoning a near limitless supply of its energy."
"But how'd the Avengers get all scattered like that in another galaxy then?"
"That's 'cause HYDRA were messing with a power that they did not understand nor have control over." Jane surmised. "With the presence of the Mind Stone, the residual energy of the Space Stone sent them all scattering across the stars to that other galaxy."
"But that doesn't answer how they got to that galaxy specifically." Shuri remarked.
"Sure it does." Darcy Lewis chipperly said.
"Well, ain't this gate thing from that galaxy? Maybe it connects directly back to that galaxy and only that one like with on Stargate."
There was a brief silence that befell the group of geniuses with all trying to figure out the mystery of this Infinity Gate.
"Doors open both ways." Selvig muttered out, making Jane turn to him.
"What?" She said in confusion.
"Doors open both ways." Her mentor said more emphatically. "It's something Barton told Fury years ago when we first researched the Tesseract. This gate is a doorway. A doorway to another side of the universe. That means that there is a likelihood of there being another gate on the other side. The Infinity Gate is fixed up, but we just need the keys to make it operate properly. Using the Space Stone is what caused the Avengers to scatter the first time. It was a proper substitute but it didn't have a fixed location in mind. If we can get the Avengers in that other galaxy to find an Infinity Gate, be it random or matching, we can operate this gate and traverse from here to there without issue to a fixed location."
"But what about the keys?" Shuri pointed out, thumbing to the ten circular indents within the gate that remain unfilled. "We need to find them first."
"Can't Wakanda whip something up?"
Shuri rolled her eyes at that. "Vibranium can do a lot but it can't fix or solve everything. It ain't some Deus ex machina metal, you know."
Suddenly, a cell phone jingle interrupted the group, all looking around to see where it was coming from.
"That's mine." Hank Pym spoke up, pulling out his ringing phone. Taking a moment to look at who was calling, the elder retired hero stood from his seat. "Sorry, gotta take this."
Hank moved aside whilst the others continued their conversation. Whipping out his phone, he saw he got a voicemail from Katy. Pulling it up and listening, he went through several reactions before looking up something in particular.
It was about a minute in when Dr. Pym let out a frustrated groan.
"Oh you gotta be kidding me."
"Do you think he will come?"
"Has to. Bossman is confident."
"Yeah but… should we really have him?"
"What? Are you scared of him? It's just a dumbass with a gun."
"A lot of guns. He killed three groups of ours already. Why the hell would we be tempting him to come after us?"
"Oi, we're the Ten Rings ya dumb asshole. We got a rep to uphold. Can't let some no-name fucker just come in and walk all over us."
"Knock it off." Said an authoritative voice, cutting into the conversation between the two grunts. "Stop yer yapping and focus up. That bastard could be here at any moment."
The two guards clamped up, their leader huffing in irritation at their chatter.
He was a tall, dark-skinned man with broad shoulders, a muscular physique with his most striking features being his metal-encased legs.
On the back of his neck was the tattoo of the Ten Rings.
The man held an imposing figure and aura as he directed the grunts under him to their stations in preparation for their "guest of honor."
His name was Caldwell Rozza but he preferred to go by the moniker he was best known for because it was something he excelled in doing.
A name not earned so haphazardly.
For years, since he was found by the leader of the Ten Rings, he rose the ranks with every mission he underwent gaining notoriety for how brutally effective he was in completing his objectives. Almost as ruthless as his close friend Mattias.
He was sent here to correct these insults and attacks that the Ten Rings had suffered by the hand of this lone assailant.
And he would not let down the man he admired and looked up to the most.
"Be on alert." Crusher sternly said, voice gruff and annoyed. "This bastard isn't a slouch so don't let your guard down. If he can take out three bases of ours, he isn't some pushover."
He heard them mutter "yes sir", resuming their watch whilst he walked around the little base that they had set up to trap their target. Crusher had been thinking about this man for a while now since coming to NY and he had to admit, this man was something else.
From what Rozza had gathered, the Ten Rings weren't the only ones who had suffered from loss by this lone man. Several gangs from the Irish, to the Yakuza, were hit and they were hit hard. Their losses were several dozen each meaning this single person managed to kill over a hundred people in a week.
Caldwell isn't taking this guy lightly.
The precision, speed and method in which it was implemented showed that their target was a trained man with a great deal of experience, especially in killing.
'Soldier?' Crusher internally mused. 'Possibly. Mercenary works too.'
But what truly troubled and confused him was what and why he was doing this.
He was taking out gangs and criminals with military precision. And the people that were eliminated hadn't had their roles get taken up by anyone new.
The power vacuum he had created had not been filled and this served to only set Crusher on edge.
When growing up under the tutelage of Wenwu, he had learned much about the psychology of humanity, of mankind and their need for power and domination. How no matter what, the will of man is always one of control and power, whether they know it or not.
So to encounter a situation such as this one where the actions of this lone man had unnerved Crusher.
When he had investigated the sites that had been hit, Caldwell had been told of how other than some weapons and equipment, most of the content such as drugs and money were left untouched.
What was this man after?
Crusher's head whipped around to see the two guards he had reprimanded earlier collapse to the floor, arrows embedded in their chests and electricity coursing through them.
Gunfire then rang out and Rozza whirled to see a middle-aged dark-skinned man in a yellow shirt with bullets bouncing off his skin.
"Shit!" Crusher said aloud, watching as a woman with black hair and another young man with glowing fists. "It's the Avengers."
"We have fans." Said a voice from above and Crusher looked up in time to see an arrow being shot in his direction.
He narrowly jumped back though the arrow sent out a small shockwave upon hitting the ground. Caldwell was sent flying back, hitting the wall but landed on his feet as he looked up at Clint Barton rappelling down from the ceiling above.
He quickly notched another arrow in his bow and pointed it at him.
"You're in charge right?" Clint asked yet it was clearly rhetorical. "Saw you bossing the guys around and well, just make it easy on yourselves."
Rozza grit his teeth, eyes darting around the area.
These four Avengers rushed in with blinding speed, the Ten Rings forces being taken out in rapid succession.
"Dammit." Crusher cursed beneath his breath, pulling off a pouch strapped to his metallic legs. He threw it down, an explosion of smoke erupting around him.
Clint raised a brow at that and quickly changed his arrow tip out, firing it into the smoke which was dispersed from the wind the arrow expelled.
The man in the smoke was gone, making Barton 'hmph', shaking his head at the generic outcome that the guy got away.
Without even turning his head, Hawkeye notched an arrow and fired it which burst into an electrified bolas. It wrapped around two other men, knocking them out through electrocution.
Jessica swooped in, clobbering or really, bonking men on the head as she flew by whilst Luke swatted men aside left and right with only Danny being the more athletic of the group.
"Do you really need to show off like that?" Jessica asked with a raised brow, watching as he performed a spinning kick to a man's face, knocking him out cold.
"I'm a martial artist." Rand said since it was obvious, smashing his fist in the face of a thug that tried to jump him without looking back. "This is my fighting style. And you can fly, how is that not showing off?"
"Least you're not looking away when ya clip someone." Luke commented, watching as Clint once again took out several goons with his arrows without even looking in their direction.
It didn't take long for the four Avengers to round up all the men here, tying them together whilst the Iron Fist went through each of them. He checked their wrists, necks, arms, ankles and heads, finding the symbol of the Ten Rings on all of them.
"Yeah, they're all Ten Rings." Danny said with a deep frown, kneeling down to one of the still conscious men, a steely-eyed look in the Iron Fist. "Why are you all here? What's the purpose of this place?"
"Like we'd tell you." The man unintentionally spat in Rand's face, the young man looking greatly unamused at what just happened to him.
The interrogated paled slightly, realizing what he just did and started stuttering out apologies.
Jessica snorted, eyeing the trembling thug.
"Well now," Jones leered at him. "Any other reasons you wanna give us to kick your shit in further? How's your dental plan for teeth shoved down your throat?"
All the men now trembled at the rather stone-cold delivery of the threat whilst Luke now stepped forward.
"Talk and you just might live."
"You-you wouldn't." One of the other men said in fear. "You're Avengers."
"So?" Clint shrugged. "I used to work for SHIELD and killed people when need be. You guys are assassins too, right? So~ should you really be surprised if ya guys don't leave this room?"
The bound men all began sweating profusely whilst from afar, they were being observed by a single man.
This man stood in a darkened corridor, his black clothing helping him blend in more without being seen or detected. His eyes were hollow as he watched the Avengers interrogate the captured men whilst he slowly placed his guns onto his back.
Much as he wanted to send these bastards to the hell that was waiting for them, he knew better than to draw further attention to him than he had already gotten.
Frank Castle was well aware that his actions were garnering attention but he honestly didn't care that much.
All that mattered was his objective though he wouldn't rush it.
With a huff, Castle turned to walk away from his would-be targets, muttering their luck that the Avengers had gotten to them first and not himself.
All the while, Clint Barton played his "game" with the captured men of the Ten Rings, taking some pages from Natasha's playbook in scaring them into revealing the purpose of them being here on top of inadvertently learning of other plans around the world.
"So you got them to talk?" Was Tony's immediate question upon seeing Clint, Luke, Danny and Jessica return from their "excursion" in Manhattan.
The whole point of their mission was to find the Ten Rings cell operating within the city whilst also hoping to find the wildcard tearing through the gangs of New York.
Though they didn't find the guy who had already shot up half of the gangs of the city, they did pin down a number of Ten Rings agents. They returned with a measure of triumph, finding Tony waiting for them along with Dr. Strange who had a book in hand, continuing research of the Ten Rings that the Masters of the Mystic Arts were conducting.
"Dude got him to sing." Luke Cage said with a shake of his head. "Sweet Christmas, where the hell did that come from?"
"SHIELD agent, remember?" Clint stated. "Lots of things to get the job done."
"How are you the moral one of the Avengers?" Jessica inquired wryly.
"That's Cap's job." Barton waved off. "I'm second-in-command in that regard."
"I thought that was Tony? Or was it Natasha?" Danny remarked.
"No, I'm second-in-command for morality." The archer clarified.
"What are you guys even talking about right now?" Asked a familiar female voice, several heads turned to see Jennifer Walters. "Did I miss something?"
Tony Stark answered her many unasked questions. "Gang leaders, Ten Rings kooks, Clint scaring them, that sort of thing."
"Ah." Was Jen's response. "Wait, Ten Rings? What's that?"
"A terrorist organization that's apparently thousands of years old." Dr. Strange answered, not looking up from his book.
Tony was rubbing his chest subconsciously. "And quite possibly the reason I'm Iron Man."
"Long story." Stark quickly said.
"We've kinda stumbled upon them in Manhattan and now, we might have a lead on possible future plans." Rand commented. "Don't know if this was a coincidence or not, but I'm not complaining."
"I might." Jones said. "This feels all too easy cause it just fell into our laps."
"It more than likely is." Stephen stated. "Anything that's easy means we're in for some deep shit soon."
"Yeah, well, we're familiar with that by this point." Tony waved off. "So Clint, what song came from our canary?"
"They're target being a man around our age, possibly younger." Hawkeye said. "That place was meant to be an ambush for the guy till we got to them first."
"But it's not only that." Rand chimed in. "One of the guys slipped up about something in China. That metal legged guy who ran off is supposedly going there."
"Metal-legged guy?" Strange repeated in confusion.
"The guy who was likely in charge but he literally ran off soon as we came in." Luke elaborated.
"So what does that entail for us?" Jen inquired, arms crossed in a patient manner.
"It means we're probably splitting up." Jessica stated. "These Ten Rings assholes are global right? They got some groups here but this ain't their only target. The guys we got to talk said that there's something going on in a place called Macau in China."
"But there's still that killdozer running around in Manhattan that we just can't leave alone." Cage firmly added. "So Jess and I are staying behind to hold down the fort here."
"What about the rest of the team?" Danny asked, turning to the two senior Avengers.
"No need for that." Tony dismissed. "They've all got their own things to do but they're on standby if anything. This doesn't need to be an all hands on deck. Not yet anyway."
"I don't like that you say that." Luke flatly said. "It sounds like a full on team effort is guaranteed, collateral included."
"Better to be safe than sorry nowadays." Stark retorted. "And besides, that's what Damage control is for."
Strange clapped his book shut, as he stood up, sling ring alighting with magical energy.
"Hopefully this is done quickly."
"Got anything to take care of later, Jen?" Clint asked.
"Have an appointment with a client and I don't wanna cancel." Jen said, shedding her suit for the tighter spandex beneath it. "So let's make this quick."
Things on the plane ride over to Macau, China were… interesting for Katy.
She learned many things she never knew about her best friend.
Yes, she understood it was tough for him to talk about. But was he ever going to bother letting out a hint of his actual past to her?
A hint to his father being an immortal conqueror and Khan who had conquered all of China at several points in history or how his mother was a master warrior from a land of myth and legend. How his father had ten rings of incredible power with his mother possessing abilities of her own. How they fell in love by pure chance and that his mother perished from a rival gang years later.
"...After my mom died, my dad started my training. From sunup to sundown, I was taught every possible way to kill a man; all for the purpose of preparing me to replace him one day. By the time I was fourteen, I could barely remember what life was like before she died. That's how old I was when he sent me on my first assignment. I was willing to do anything he wanted. If he asked me to burn the world down, I would've asked him-"
"Beef or vegetarian?"
The story was interrupted when the stewardess showed up and asked for their in-flight meal. Both Shaun and Katy were awkwardly silent when looking at the airline employee.
"We're out of chicken, so I can only offer you beef or vegetarian." The stewardess said with a polite apologetic tone.
Shaun paused for a moment, still feeling a bit off from the interruption before answering. "...Vegetarian would be great."
Once the flight attendant left, Katy spoke what was on her mind with where Shaun left off in his tale.
"Did you go through with it?" She tentatively asked.
Shaun looked over and was silent for some moments before shaking his head 'no'.
"What I don't get is, if he wanted you to succeed him then why'd he send people after you and even your sister?"
"My sister, I wish I knew her story. But as for me… last time, I knew that I couldn't go back to him, so I just… ran. But now I can't run anymore."
From his best friend's perspective, it was difficult for her to see him like this. She was so used to his easygoing and light-hearted nature. To see Shaun so solemn and grim was not something she thought she could ever get used to.
Katy was silent, processing it all.
"I know this is a lot to dump on you."
"...I'm sorry about your mom."
Shaun didn't say anything else in response. An awkward bubble was around them as they were surrounded by other plane passengers. He contemplated for some moments before deciding to reveal something else to his friend.
"There's… something else." He spoke up. "Another reason why my dad's after me."
Katy didn't verbally respond, instead looking at him patiently as he raised his arm up to her and pulled back his sleeve to reveal the ring around his wrist. It glowed briefly, making Chen's eyes widen considerably. She briefly looked around and saw no one had noticed this and she gently took his arm and lowered it slightly while pulling it closer to her.
"What… what is this?"
"I didn't just run away, but I betrayed my father… by taking this."
"And this is… a fancy bangle or something?"
"One of ten rings which made my father infamous." Shaun said, pulling his arm back to hold the ring up to his face. He held a conflicted expression, his other hand trailing over the ancient tool of conquest. "For the longest time, I was ashamed of taking this from him. If I didn't, then perhaps things may've been easier for me without a big target on my back."
"And how'd you take this arm ring thingy?"
"My father didn't wear them all the time. On the day of my first assignment, making my decision to leave, I thought 'what the hell' and just took one of them without his notice."
Katy didn't know how to respond to that.
"Yeah, I know, weird spur of the moment choice." Shaun remarked with a self-teasing smirk. "What can I say, I was just a teenager. Stupid and young."
"Shaun, no offense, but that's still you… us… you know what I mean."
Her best friend chuckled at that, eyes filled with mirth and reminiscent fondness at the past few years where he hung out with Katy practically every single day.
Katy then hummed aloud in thought, eyeing the ring again.
"When you said rings, I thought of the ones you wear on your fingers."
He gave her a look. "Oh like the ones some gaudy and flamboyant rich people wear?"
"Possibly." She said teasingly.
Shaun hugged in amusement, shaking his head.
"Hopefully when we reach Macau, we get some answers to all of this."
"You and me, both."
"Though I do wonder if your sister was indeed the one to send that ticket voucher to you or not. Maybe it was from your father and you're heading for a trap." Katy commented, earning an anxious look from him. "Hopefully it's the former, Shaun."
Her friend then made a face, akin to a low key cringe for what he was about to reveal. "I should also probably mention that my name's not technically Shaun."
This certainly caught her a bit off guard.
"What?" Katy shifted in her seat to better face her friend. "What is it?"
It took a moment for Katy to realize just what his name really was or rather, just how little effort he put into changing it.
"You changed your name from Shang to Shaun?"
He looked away, rolling his eyes at the disbelief in her tone. "Yeah, I don't… yeah."
"I wonder how your father found you." She dryly said.
"Okay, I was fifteen years old. Alright?" He lamely defended.
"What is your name change logic?" She rhetorically asked. "You're going into hiding-"
"-And your name is Michael, and you go on and change it to Mishael."
"That's not what happened." He jokingly argued back
"It's like "Hi, my name's Gina. I'm gonna go into hiding. My new name's Gyna"." She looked over and saw Shaun place his headphones on. "Yeah, okay. Oh, yeah, you can hear me."
The rest of the flight was relatively more lighthearted, with a more relaxed air between the pair until their flight grounded in Macau. It was quite the city; located on China's southern coast and east of Hong Kong.
For Katy, it was the first time in a long while that she was out of the country and out of the continent.
This was a whole new experience for her, seeing a whole new side of the world, one directly linked to her roots.
Her grandparents and parents all left this country decades back so she felt a bit weird being here without them. She did believe she would have come to China at one point.
It's just she thought it would have been with her family and Shaun, not just him and her and it having to do with some assassins and his immortal warrior dad.
After getting a cab, they drove by many bazaars, lots, stores and all sorts of other sights Katy wished they had the time to see.
But they had more pressing matters on hand.
They arrived at their destination, which most of it appeared to be under construction given the bamboo scaffolding present.
This had to be the place, given it was the address on the envelope Shang got.
Riding the elevator was rather lackluster in Katy's opinion. Glancing to the side, she saw Shang was expressing a similar manner but there were some hints of growing anxiousness.
There was another person in the elevator with them, but he was more along the lines of being there for his job as an elevator attendant. Nothing like a stereotypical bellhop, but something akin to fit with the environment and setting.
The man soon turned to them and held out a tablet with an electronic pen.
"Sign here to get in."
Without much of a glance, Shang grabbed the pen and signed in.
The attendant only presented the tablet to Shang, but not Katy from what she noticed.
'Maybe just to sign us both in.' She thought. Her eyes wandered a little to the elevator and couldn't help but comment aloud. "Wonder if this elevator is up to code. Hopefully there's no chance of it just falling off the side of the building-"
The elevator soon took an abrupt stop. Katy didn't know if it was out of technical issues or them reaching a particular floor.
Soon the elevator door slid open, revealing a lot of commotion on the other side. The person nearest to them was a man wearing a tie-dye jacket with red-colored hair.
There was a look of odd recognition the man bore when he saw Shang.
"Bus boy!" He excitedly greeted.
This of course threw them off.
"Uh… what?" Was Shang's "intelligent" response.
The man whipped out his phone and pulled up a particular video, speaking in Mandarin.
"Two million views in a few days, bro!" He chattered, throwing his arm around the fighter.
There they saw footage of the bus fight from someone's phone.
The man then noticed Katy. "And you're the driver."
"Uh, sorry but my Chinese sucks." She sheepishly admitted.
"Oh, all good." The man said, switching to English. "I speak A-B-C."
Katy blinked at the fortunate turn of luck. "Oh, great."
"I'm Jon Jon." The man soon swung his arms over their shoulders and escorted them in. "Welcome to the Golden Daggers Club." He exhaled a sigh before patting Shang's shoulder. "Okay, let's get you ready to fight."
"We're a multi-platform global operation. Every fight is live streamed on the dark web." Jon Jon proudly said. "Thousands of viewers placing bets as we speak. This is gonna take your brand to a whole new level."
On each side of them, the two friends could see "cage fights" behind various graffiti covers, sturdy windows. Different kinds of fighters were present like a sumo wrestler with someone looking like a Mui-Tai specialist to a judo master facing off a bladed-weapon user.
"Think there's been some sort of confusion." Shang said.
Katy soon spotted someone wearing a peculiar mask with all of these studded spikes all over the surface. Made her wonder if the person could see or hear from it properly.
She tapped him on the shoulder and gave an earnest comment. "I like your spike face."
"Thanks!" The man said in muffled, cheerful Mandarin before focusing back to the fight he was seeing beforehand.
Jon Jon resumed talking in an enthusiastic manner. "Usually, you gotta fight your way to center ring, but a viral star like you? Front of line, baby."
"I'm not here to fight anybody. Okay?" Shang argued back. "I'm looking for my sister, Xu Xialing."
"Never heard of her." Said Jon Jon. "We just lost a fighter at the last minute, so you get the next slot."
"Is he gonna be fighting one of these?" Katy questioned worriedly, looking to the various glass "cage fights" they were passing.
"Oh, no, no, no. These are like low-level fights." Jon Jon soon turned their attention elsewhere. "You're gonna be fighting up there."
The place their escort was focusing on was a large ring with various chains encircling the enlarge space.
The trio saw what appeared as an Extremist male, given his body was glowing and somewhat exposing his bone structure underneath his skin. His opponent was a woman in a tight body suit with a facemask with a variety of weapons on her person.
The Extremist was letting out a volley of flames in the arena, letting many scorch marks litter the floor and the occasional chain fence. The ninja-like woman threw a variety of knives at the man once coming out of a recovery roll. Whilst the Extremist was distracted, she leapt at him and repeatedly stabbed the man more, but this time in the face. He fell onto the ground as his body began to combust, prompting the woman to leap back to avoid getting hit with the coming explosion.
The space surrounding the cage match rattled with much smoke and vapors obscuring the view. The vents quickly went to work, sucking up the fumes. Eventually, all attendees witnessed the female fighter was relatively fine, albeit most of her armor was smoked and beaten up from the explosion. Her hair was even singed to a degree from the flames.
Suffice to say, the crowd loved it as they roared in applause.
"GO AHMA!" Jon Jon cheered on from below. "Her nickname is the Black Rain here. She's won like fifty times in a row here. I always bet on Asian."
"Oh my god." Katy murmured, turning a bit green at how many people were cheering at the carnage in the cage.
"Yeah, look, I'm not going up there, okay? I'm just trying to-"
"Whoa, whoa, whoa." Jon Jon cut him off. "It's too late to back out now. You already committed bro."
"You signed the contract, remember?" He made a pen wavy motion with his hand. "Your name's on the roster. The bets are piling in."
"The one you signed when getting into the building." Jon Jon said as it was the most obvious thing in the world.
Shang-Chi blinked before groaning to himself.
"...Oh for the love of-"
"Hey, what's our cut?"
"What? I'm just curious." She defensively said.
"Oh, it's huge." The Promoter said with a wide grin.
"It doesn't matter."
"It matters." Katy whispered with a grin of her own now.
"Dude, I saw you fight five assassins and a giant Romanian with a razor for an arm on a moving bus. This is just one guy. Just do it. Then we'll all get paid, and then I'll help you find whoever you're looking for."
"C'mon. You got this." Katy encouraged.
"You got this." Jon Jon tacked on.
"Don't be nervous."
"Thank you." Shang said sarcastically.
Katy saw her friend be dragged away by Jon Jon, leaving her all by herself now as she decided to familiarize herself in this fight club.
Quite a lot was happening with people placing bets on various fights left and right. People commenting about said fights and questioning who may come out on top in the upcoming ones.
Minutes went on by before Katy thought she may try to find her friend or the nearest restroom when she heard the loudspeakers flare to life.
From the loudspeakers, Jon Jon spoke to everyone in attendance and to those watching through the dark web. "Ladies and gentlemen, the fight we've all been waiting for. The incredible viral sensation, all the way from San Francisco, USA, it's Bus Boy!"
Katy looked up to the caged arena and did a double take when seeing her old friend… naked from the waist up. The only thing present was the metal ring worn around his wrist.
'Holy hell he's ripped.'
"What happened to your shirt?" She asked, flexing her own arms.
Shaun only threw his arms up with a look that said 'wasn't my decision'. The only thing he wore was a pair of sweatpants and his ring around his wrist.
"And for his opponent for tonight," a figure soon appeared from the hallway at the other side of the enlarged cage arena, "it's Macau's own fearsome killer…" The person walked forward, revealing it was a hooded woman. "Xu Xialing!"
The person pulled down their hood, revealing her features to her opponent.
"Sister?" Shang said in disbelief. "Is that you?"
She didn't say anything, only looking at the ring worn around his wrist before glaring at him venomously.
Shang-Chi didn't know what to say next, instead glancing down and spotted a jade pendant around her neck. One that looked exactly like the one he always wore.
"Xialing." He sorrowfully whispered. "I'm… I'm so sorry. I shouldn't have left you-"
That seemed to have the opposite effect to what he desired, her gaze becoming far more murderous.
"Sorry." She spat out in Mandarin. "You're sorry? That's it? That's all you have to say?"
"I know you're upset. But can you hear me out?"
"You have some nerve asking me for that after what you did." Xialing's eyes glazed over briefly, lip trembling before she shook it off. "I don't want your apology. Now fight me."
To his knowledge, his sister never learned how to fight before. So perhaps this may be an easy fight. If he were here to fight.
Oh… Oh how naive such a thought that was.
"I'm not fighting you, Xialing." Shang-Chi argued. "I came here to warn you."
Seeing as her brother wasn't going to make the first move, she decided to do so herself.
She leapt forward with an elbow strike. He evaded the hit before he was assaulted by an unleashed flurry of kicks and punches which caught him off guard.
Several struck him but his instincts kicked in and he began blocking them all. Still, the effect was there and the younger sister smirked at the dumbfounded look her sibling had.
"Surprised?" She mockingly asked. "Who do you think father trained after you abandoned us?"
"He wasn't a fool." Xialing sneered. "After mother died and you left, he wanted to at least make sure I could defend myself."
She didn't allow for a response, going into a set of spinning kicks, going into a low angle high kick that Shang hastily blocked.
Whilst not as strong as her brother, the momentum was enough for him to visibly cringe as he felt his arms rattle from that last kick he got.
His sister shot back up, lunging at him with an overhead strike that he shot his hands up to intercept and block. Looping his arms around Xialing's forearm, he caught her elbow, pulled her in whilst slapping away a kick and punch.
Shang held her close to his face, conveying remorse and frustration now.
"We don't have time for this." He argued. "Our father is looking for us."
Xialing didn't verbally respond, her glare coming back in full force as she managed to free herself and attack once more.
Shang was quick to defend himself but he started to notice her speed and ferocity.
He was skilled but she… the look in her eyes was that of a killer.
Having been distracted by her eyes, Shang failed to see the elbow coming to his face.
His head throbbed with pain, holding his jaw, stumbling away from his sister.
"Oh, that's gotta hurt." Jon Jon said over the loudspeaker.
Xu Xialing wasn't finished, quickly rushing in, hoping to inflict more harm upon her brother. He managed to block half her strikes yet got struck several times all the same.
Shang-Chi managed to catch her arms again, glaring at her irritably now.
"Can you please stop hitting me?" He complained.
A backhanded fist was his response.
For him, that was the last straw.
Just as she went on the attack once more, Shang-Chi cocked his arm back at the ready.
As a last resort, Shang activated the ring of power worn around his wrist. It flared to life in an orange glow as it flew out of his arm and nearly smacked Xialing across the face.
"Holy crap." Katy muttered aloud.
Xialing held a slightly stunned expression, as if not believing her brother would go to such lengths.
Though Shang appeared nonplussed, moving in to go for several more swings, his personal ring following their trajectory. His sister hastily dodged a majority of them until one landed on her gut and sent her flying into the chain walls.
The audience began changing "Bus Boy" over and over, an audible tide shifting from one competitor over the other.
Xialing was quick to stand up, a surprise for her brother but he didn't have time to dwell on it as she was already running at him again.
She jumped in for a flying knee which Shang repelled with a Ring enhanced palm strike. She fell down to the ground again and at this moment, her brother gave pause.
His sister was quick in the recovery, whirling on the ground before getting back up again. As she did, she charged forward with her one arm flinging back with something shooting out.
The action was quick, having a green blur soon arching around and smacking Xialing's opponent across the head.
To Shang's surprise -and to many- Xialing had a trick up her sleeve.
"Are you kidding me?" Katy said from down below.
Or rather, a ring of power.
Xialing's face twisted into a smug and malicious grin at the surprise of her older brother. For a glowing green ring soon hovered and orbited around her.
"What's the matter? What? You thought you were the only one to steal one from father?"
Flowing with her body movement, the green ring of power whipped out and sought to strike Shang. Acting quickly, he evaded the blow and retaliated with a mirrored attack.
Soon enough, the siblings were giving out a dance as their respective rings were doing the fighting in their stead.
Orange clashed with green. Metallic sounds rang out as the rings swung and sang through the air. They sparked and rippled with each strike. And cheers went from "Bus Boy" to Xialing and vice versa.
"I would have thought you would have used your ring sooner." Xialing taunted, holding up her arm that looked more muscular, her ring back on her wrist.
"You forced me to!" Shang countered. "I wouldn't have done so if you just took a moment to let me talk."
"You lost that chance ten years ago!"
Launching her ring once more, Xialing saw her brother knock it aside. It whirled back around towards its owner.
Instead of going back to the arm, Xialing whipped out a leg, having the ring slip into place. It was from here did she surprise Shang by letting loose a number of kicks with the ring of power rapidly shooting out and coming back to and for, either back to the original leg or onto the other. And each time it flew out via kick, Shang had to quickly evade the hits, either by the ring itself or the close contact of his sister's physical strikes.
Having to sadly admit it, Shang never thought of using his own ring of power in such a manner. Him only using it via arms and nothing else as he only thought of such things from his father.
It appeared Xialing was more creative than he originally thought or he was too shortsighted on possibilities.
"Stop it! I'm trying to help you!" He called out to her, evading and blocking the blows as best as possible. "Dad's coming for you. I'm not fighting you-"
That was the last straw for his sister who brought the fight to its conclusion.
With a quick upwards swing that parried his arm, Xialing gained the upper hand, being quick enough to use her ring of power to knock her brother unconscious with a swift blow the his jaw.
The last thing he saw was Katy wincing, a pathetic attempt of a supportive expression before looking away to sip at her drink.
Xialing stood over her brother, a smug smirk visible for all to see. She looked up at Jon Jon, gesturing her head at Shang-Chi.
With a simple nod and a quick handwave, several suited men walked into the arena, picking up the unconscious man, taking him to Xialing's personal office.
As Shang was in a state of unconsciousness, he dreamt.
It was something of a recurring nightmare he had throughout the years. He hadn't experienced the dark nightmare for some time now, only having it come back recently for some reason.
In it, he saw this giant bat-like creature. It was eldritch in nature with all these tentacles. He couldn't understand because he kept seeing this thing. All he did know was this dark feeling radiating off of it, making him know it was absolutely dangerous.
Shang soon returned to consciousness… an hour later…
Waking up, Shang let out an audible groan.
A cold feeling was quite literally slapped atop his head. His hand went up to keep the bag of ice from falling, sitting up in pain, nursing his jaw and placing the bag where it hurt most.
He blearily looked up at his sister who regarded him coldly, rage still evident and radiating from her demeanor.
"I deserved that."
"That and more, brother."
Shang was silent for some moments, mewling his options on what to say next.
"How is it you're here as a contestant?"
"A contestant?" She scoffed at the question, slowly placing her hand down upon the desk in front of her. "No, I run this place."
Katy soon walked in, flanked by Jon Jon with a happy expression on her face as she counted a large number of bills in her hands.
"What's that?" Shang asked in bewilderment until a realization set in.
"Did you bet against me?" He really felt betrayed right about now.
"No." Katy unconvincingly said.
"She did." The dyed hair sponsor proudly declared.
Katy sent Jon Jon a look of betrayal. "And here I thought we were becoming friends."
"Katy." Shang incredulously said.
Shang-Chi sighed, shaking his head, dragging his hand over his face at his friend's actions. He should have expected this really.
With one more shake, he refocused his attention on his sister who was looking at him blankly.
"So you run this place." Shang stated, picking up where they were interrupted.
"Six years." Xialing tacked on. "Wasn't easy but," She held up her wrist, her glowing green power ring radiating briefly. "It helps when you can beat down any competition."
He didn't reply at first, a pit in his gut forming, lowering the icepack from his face.
"And you can fight now."
Her expression became a bit more derisive.
"I trained in secret at first, watching everyone train and me copying everything I could. Of course, father was attentive and decided to instruct me properly. He couldn't at first, given I reminded him too much of mother. He reluctantly caved in."
"But how'd you build this?" Katy asked, standing next to Shang-Chi, tucking away all the money she earned, missing the annoyed deadpan her friend shot her way.
"I learned more than just martial arts from him. Many days, I secretly paid attention to his meetings, studying everything I witnessed in knowing how he ran his organization. What tactics he used, what strategies to manage his many operations. Eventually, I pleaded with father to name me his successor, letting me run the Ten Rings when he decides to pass on since you abandoned us." She tsked, sneering at her brother. "He refused of course, making me repeat history and leave, but not before taking one of his rings like you have."
"And why'd you do that?" Asked Katy.
"A means of proving myself in my own way."
"Like this underground fight club?"
"I took inspiration from my father's organization and made one of my own." Xialing proudly said, hands outstretched on either side of her. "All this was built under my name and my actions with neither my father nor my brother being a part of it. This is my empire and mine alone."
Shang-Chi was having a bit of a difficult moment in processing seeing his sister like this. Last he saw of her… well, she was still a kid.
Scared, lost and alone with only her older brother.
And he abandoned her the first chance he got.
"How'd you find us?" Shang quietly asked.
"Like father, I have scouts around the world. This place always needs new talent. Most were tasked to track you down until one day they finally investigated further in San Francisco. Once confirming it was you, I sent the voucher to you so you could properly find me. To my displeasure, you didn't come right away those months ago."
"Sorry, but I was hesitant and didn't know if it was actually you or not."
"Of course we had to come here due to your father's goons attacking us." Commented Katy.
"Yes, I saw the video. Oddly have to be thankful for that; which got you to finally get off your ass and find me." Xialing said with a crossed look before forming a smirk. "Now that you're here, gotta ask, but are you two married?"
Both of them stammered and stuttered, looking at one another and then at Xialing.
"No." They both emphatically said at the same time.
Xialing quirked her brow at that.
"Funny. With how you two acted in the video, I swear you are or at least dating."
"Yeah, well, we're not." Katy brushed it off with a dry tone. "I get enough of that from my grandma, thank you very much."
The younger sister simply smirked now, slightly amused by Chen's personality.
"They took my pendant." Shang abruptly said, drawing in Xialing's attention. "They're gonna come for yours next."
His sister brought a hand up to where her jade necklace rested with an unfocused look on her face.
It was the first time he had seen her look nervous and conflicted since reuniting with her.
"I don't know what he wants with them, but we both know it can't be good."
"Oh, it can't be good, you say?" Xialing parroted tauntingly.
Katy felt a bit awkward now in being here, considering the prominent tension and animosity the sister held towards her brother. She found herself shifting about uncomfortably when Xialing turned to her.
"You know what Shang said to me when he left? 'I'll be back in three days.'" She quoted. "After those three days, I went to our mother's shrine and waited. That time turned to a week, then a month, then a year and so on. It was from then that I realized I didn't really need him anymore." Xialing then turned to her brother with a mild glare. "The reason why I wanted to see you one last time is so I can properly say that to your face."
"You did a little more than that." Shang-Chi was unable to help himself, wincing at the glare that intensified. "Look-"
"If you say you're sorry, I'm breaking your jaw." Xialing venomously said, her hands now curling into fists, turning white and trembling. "Do you have any idea what I've been through after you left? Any semblance of the torture I endured when my entire family abandoned me?"
Her brother had no proper rebuttal to such a question, only hanging his head in shame.
*WHAAAA* *WHAAAA* *WHAAAA*
Both Katy and the siblings shot up at the sound of an alarm going off in the entire establishment, many people screaming now.
A moment later, men armed with electrified hooks and staves descended from on high, with muscular men leading the charge.
Shang-Chi looked at his sister who caught his eye and both were quick to figure out just who it was that had come to this place.
Whilst he looked back at the Ten Rings assassins rappelling down into the fighting rings, his sister was already on the move.
He and Katy were distracted as they spotted the razor-armed man who had attacked them on the bus.
Katy then heard a brief squeak of metal and she turned to see Xialing and Jon Jon opening a secret door in the wall behind the desk of the former.
"Sh-Shaun." Katy said, making the brother turn his head in time to see his sister and her associate ditch them. Jon Jon even flipped him off for added measure, frustrating Shang-Chi.
"You gotta be kidding me." He bit out.
"What do we do now?" Katy questioned, panicking slightly now.
Looking to the nearby windows, he got an idea.
Shang whipped his arm forward, having his ring come out and crash through the window. He ran to the opening as the ring slipped back on.
"Come on!" He called out to his friend, hand outstretched.
Katy slowly approached the edge and found herself looking down.
"Oh, hell no. Screw you! I'm not doing this."
"Katy, now's not the time, we're out of options." Shaun argued, emphatically gesturing his hand for her to grab. "If we make it to the elevator, we can hop in on the next floor."
Muffled explosions followed by more screams followed, making her turn back in fear.
"Katy, we're out of options, we have to go now." Shang-Chi emphasized.
"Can't you just use your ring on that secret do-"
With a startled cry, Katy instinctively jumped forward and Shaun caught her, holding her close so as to not drop her.
"I got ya." He assured, feeling her trembling against him.
Once she got a grasp of one of the bamboo poles, she looked at him in fear and trepidation. He could only give her a half-forced look of support, glancing back towards the elevator.
"Just head straight for that elevator." He instructed. "You got this."
She really hated where she was right about now but forced herself to move. Katy didn't get very far from him when an explosion of glass from behind and above them caught their attention.
They looked up to see Ten Ring assassins looking out at the city until they caught sight of them.
Mentally cursing their luck, Shaun looked back at his best friend.
"I'll buy you some time. Just keep going."
Katy wanted to protest this but she knew better considering this was way outside what she was used to. She began to move away just as the assassins descended upon her friend.
The first one dropped down, hoping to use his electrified hook sword to get to Shaun quicker.
Shang-chi had other ideas in mind.
He thrust his hand out, sending his power ring right into the chest of the assassin, sending the man flying.
Whilst he was quickly disposed of, other Ten Ring assassins were quick to replace him, beginning their assault on Shaun.
He immediately blocked a punch, elbowing the arm away, grabbing the hook and pulling its owner in to smash his head into one of the windows. A quick knee to the head knocked the man and he fell off the side of the building.
One managed to swing in from above, nearly slicing through Shaun's head but he nimbly moved his head in time, grabbing the man's wrist and with a strong jerk, unbalanced the man. He hit his head on one of the scaffolding columns, rattling his head and fell from the skies.
All the while, Katy carefully kept moving towards the elevator in the distance. She occasionally glanced back to see if her friend was still alive and fighting, relieved and terrified to see that he was.
That of course changed, her heart rate plummeting when she saw one of the assassins managed to electrocute him briefly, her friend falling from the scaffolding. She let out a choked breath when she saw him land on a walking plank but the tightness in her chest remained as he didn't have much time to recover, fighting again.
Unfortunately, she could only spectate for so long.
She heard a thump next to her and Katy whirled round to see an Assassin approaching her.
Without even thinking, she threw her arms up in surrender and-
"On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair-WAAH!"
Apparently the singing trick didn't work anymore as Katy had to quickly duck from an electrified baton swing.
She barely avoided another one by going around a bamboo pole and hanging on. The assassin reached up with the hooked baton and had the electric currents break the bound rope.
This caused the pole Katy was hanging onto to bend and arch backward, due to her present weight. She screamed, hanging on for dear life as a result.
Hearing this, he paused in his fight and was horrified to see his best friend in mortal danger. Shang-chi made a mad dash toward his old friend. He swung and kicked several of his father's men out of the way, sweeping away and getting to lower levels in order to reach Katy.
He practically got to her in time, reaching out his hand and snatching her as her hands slipped from the pole.
"I got you!" He strained out.
Before he could begin pulling her up, one of the assassins came in with an electric staff and brought it down on Shaun. He groans in pain with the electric currents running through his body, which forced him to let go of her.
In the quick response, Shaun kicked the man away before turning over and saw Katy plummet to her demise.
"KATY!" He yelled in horror, watching as his best friend fell before him.
At that moment, Katy practically saw her life flash before her eyes. Many instances were quickly appearing, most of them being regrets.
All this -on top of the fall- came to an abrupt halt. Katy was yanked from the side and pulled in. Her rescuer was Xialing.
She almost couldn't believe it. Xialing gave her a quick nod.
"Keep on going." She said.
Much as she wanted to ask where she even came from, Katy shook her head and quickly moved.
Xialing scaled up to where her brother was fighting, fending off several assassins in the process.
Once reaching her brother, he grabbed one of the assassins, twisted his arm and glared at his sister.
"You left us for dead." Shaun yelled, shoving the man forward.
Xialing caught him, kicking his face with a smug smirk.
"Now you know a fraction of how I felt."
'Abandonment is not the same as death.' Shang-Chi mentally screamed.
The siblings began working through the assassins left and right. Xialing ascended to the higher level with Shang forced to cover for her. She knocked one man away, who plummeted to his doom while Shang performed a spartan kick on another once swinging around a pole.
Before the assassin could fall to his death, Shang grasped the front of their armor.
"What does my father want with the pendants-"
His little interrogation was interrupted with Xialing knocking the assailant out of her brother's grasp, forcing him to see him fall.
He looked at her incredulously whilst she seemed nonplussed with what she did.
"Did America make you soft?"
"We need to know why he wants our pendants." Shaun argued back.
Before they were able to argue any further, a glowing red kunai was embedded into the window closest to them from the interior.
They heard the sound of a ticking noise, both realizing too late what it was.
An explosion followed a second later, the siblings being flung back. They were disoriented from the explosive yet were still able to see who it was that threw the kunai. From the building jumped a man garbed in dark blue garments and a white mask over his eyes and nose.
Shang-Chi and Xialing seized up upon recognizing this man.
It was their old instructor, the Death Dealer Li Ching-Lin.
It only took him a second to spot them before moving again.
The masked assassin climbed down on the bamboo scaffolding and was parallel to Xialing's face. His hand shot out and snatched the jade necklace and ripped it off of her neck. She sought to take it back but was smacked away by Ching-Lin taking off by reentering the building through the broken window.
Seeing this, Shang took off and went after their old instructor with Xialing following soon after.
Katy Chen could only gape at what just happened, clutching onto the scaffolding for dear life.
"Oh, yeah, thanks for leaving me here alone." She yelled out at them in vain.
Whilst she attempted to get to safety on her own, the Xu siblings sprinted through the building, chasing after their former instructor with heated determination.
Eventually, they reached Death Dealer in time to stop him from jumping out a window towards a helicopter waiting for him.
In a momentary effort of teamwork, they utilized their rings at the same time, grabbing his wrists and pulling him back just as he was about to jump.
Without missing a beat, Death Dealer rolled backward, getting into a stand on one knee, flicking his wrists to have more kunai appear in his hands. He eyed both siblings who were glaring at him, their rings returning to their arms and getting into fighting stances.
Not waiting for them to go on the offensive, he struck first.
He corkscrewed to get in between them, separating the pair. Ching kicked Xialing in the arm whilst flicking one of his kunai at Shaun who used his ring to deflect it.
The siblings tried to attack again but Death Dealer rolled away in time, the two missing yet remaining unperturbed.
Xialing went for an ax-kick that was blocked, the man inclining his head back from a swinging back fist from Shaun. In retaliation, Ching-Lin jabbed Shaun in the chest and as the sister went in for an attack, got a knee to the gut for her attempt.
Yet the siblings persisted, going in for the attack once more.
They could've had the upper hand in this fight… if it weren't for them getting into each other's way at every swing and strike.
They occasionally bumped into each other, had to halt their attacks midway as they were about to strike each other and nearly used their rings on each other again. Their coordination was awful, with no semblance or idea of working together.
Not from Xialing's perspective.
Shaun tried to tell her to try attacking at once but she disregarded his warnings and was relentless in her own attacks.
This was something Ching-Lin capitalized on in facing off his former students.
The Death Dealer exploited their mistakes. He worked through their faults to gain the upper hand. Every mistake they made was met with devastating strikes to their bodies.
Even with their power rings assisting them, it did little in their efforts to beat their former instructor.
Eventually, a misstep from Shaun and an overzealous Xialing kick got them both on the ground with kunai raised above them.
Just when he was about to take them both out with a few devastating dagger swipes-
The handclap halted his action, prompting Ching-Lin to instantly back off.
The next thing Shang and Xialing knew, they felt the rings worn on their arms quiver and shift. Looking down, they saw the respective orange and green glows turn purple as they slid off their limbs and flew off. Their eyes went to the darkness as they saw their respective rings join with others.
It was then did the siblings know what happened.
Shang looked over and saw Katy was practically dragged into the room by some assassins. Leading the goons were Mattias the Razor Fist and Rozza the Crusher.
And off from the side was their leader, who wore a white suit with the sleeves rolled up showing ten glowing rings of power.
It was their father, Xu Wenwu.
He looked at both of them with a neutral expression, walking slowly towards them.
"I told my men they wouldn't be able to kill you, even if they tried." He casually said. "Glad I was right."
Katy struggled and made a plea towards Wen Wu. "Don't kill them!"
The Ten Rings leader said nothing, only looking at her for a moment before standing in front of his two children.
He gestured for them to stand up, the pair hesitantly doing so.
A tense silence hung in the air between them, the brother and sister unsure and secretly terrified as to what their father was going to do.
So naturally, neither Katy nor the siblings would expect to see Wenwu come up to Shang and Xialing, wrap his arms around them and bring them into a fierce hug.
"I missed you, my children." He said, his tone wrought with emotion.
Shang and Xialing were too dumbfounded by what was happening. It was only the brother who voiced a seemingly shared thought.
"Aren't you here to kill us?"
Wenwu pulled away and gave his son a questioning look. "Why would I do that? I merely want to bring you home."
"There is much we have to discuss, my son." His father interrupted. "But we shall do so in-"
The man was unable to finish his statement as Death Dealer rushed forward abruptly and caught something in his hands.
Everyone present froze, turning to the man to see an arrow in his hand. A second later, a shockwave emanated from the arrow, sending a majority of them sprawling to the ground.
The leader of the Ten Rings was the first to recover and what he saw made him freeze for a second.
"Hey everyone, mind if we drop in?" Iron Man casually asked, flying up to hover in front of the broken window. A rope was shot from his side, connected to an arrow and from the rope came Hawkeye rappelling down, landing in a roll with his recurve bow at the ready.
Three portals then opened from above and dropped Danny Rand, the Iron Fist, Jennifer Walters, the Sensational She-Hulk and Dr. Stephen Strange, Master of the Mystic Arts.
The entirety of the Ten Rings all had their weapons up, all openly shifting about nervously.
Razor Fist and Crusher were thrown off by the arrival of Earth's Mightiest Heroes, their specialized limbs aglow with energy.
Death Dealer remained difficult to read but even he recognized the threats before him and his Khan, exchanging his kunai for a miniature scythe with a chain attached to it.
Katy and Shaun's reactions were practically comical with their eyes widening and jaws dropping at the sight of the Avengers being here.
Even Xialing was unable to hide her surprise at their arrival.
Wenwu tensed up as the armored Avenger hovered before them all, the glowing white eyes looking over all of them until they landed on him. The Immortal Khan felt the billionaire's gaze boring into his own before the emotionless face plate tilted down slightly.
"Ok… a lot of assassins… around one guy… who has ten rings on his arms." Iron Man idly noted, eyes on the ten glowing purple bands around the arms of Wenwu. "Yeah, you're the one in charge."
And without any further prompt, Iron Man's arms shot up and fired.
Thanks to Wenwu's superhuman physiology and years of honed fighting instincts, he managed to throw up a barrier with his Ten Rings. Despite blocking the two beams, the power behind them held substantial power.
They sent him stumbling back though he was quick to recover.
In retaliation, he sent four of his rings, creating four edges that shaped themselves into a large shuriken made of energy. Iron Man nimbly flew around the shuriken and flew directly at Wenwu who was quick to recall his rings.
They returned to his arms in time, the man throwing both up into an X-shape just as Iron Man's metal fist collided into him.
His rings took the full force of the impact and as a counter, threw his arms out that unleashed a shockwave that sent Tony flying in the air.
All the while, the rest of the Avengers that had accompanied Stark engaged the enemy forces of the Ten Rings. Particularly those that were a substantial threat being their head honchos.
Danny clashed with the masked assailant that was the Death Dealer. They entered into an exchange of martial arts that could only be matched by Shang, the two trading punches, elbows, knees and kicks.
Doctor Strange had his attention taken up by Wenwu's assassins who rushed at him in hopes of overwhelming the sorcerer.
Hawkeye was stuck to deal with Razor Fist, Crusher and the rest of the Ten Rings foot soldiers. Nothing he wasn't used to before.
He also had She-Hulk by his side who was swatting aside any foot soldier unfortunate enough to try their hand at stopping her.
Iron Man and Wenwu, all the while, had taken their fight outside onto the bamboo scaffolding of the building. The latter used constant movement to dodge the near-constant attacks of the former who was relentless in his assault.
"I would have thought an Avenger like yourself would fight with some semblance of honor." Wenwu called out to the armored superhero.
"Do I seem like the kind that plays by those standards?" Iron Man rhetorically asked. "If you want honor, deal with Kung Fu Hustle, Cap or Thor."
Wenwu opted to remain silent, focusing on the fight at hand.
Chaining his rings together, the Khan started throwing them around in wide arches that Iron Man dodged and weaved around.
"Ten Rings huh?" Tony idly noted. "Yeah, you're definitely a more suitable Mandarin."
Upon hearing this name, the calm veneer of Wenwu broke, an angered look coming over him.
"Never call me that name!" He yelled, landing on some scaffolding and firing all ten of his rings at once.
Their speed caught Iron Man off guard, the bands striking his armor.
He was sent careening in the air though he quickly righted himself, just as Wenwu recalled his rings and launched himself into the air.
"Touched a nerve, did I?" Iron Man taunted, shooting another repulsor beam that his opponent deflected.
"A stain on my legacy." He snapped back at the billionaire, going in for close quarters, his rings enhancing his strength.
They were fighting in the air but with the efforts of his rings being used as steppingstones to keep him up, Wenwu fought as he would upon the ground.
Iron Man grits his teeth, feeling himself jolt slightly from every strike the leader of the Ten Rings landed upon him. His suit was quick to analyze the source of the man's strength coming from the rings but his skills in martial arts were all his own.
He was likely as skilled as Cap and Danny with how he was moving.
All the while, the fight with the rest of the Ten Rings was going as expected.
The Avengers were beating back the Assassins with only the high-ranking officials of Razor fist, Crusher and Death Dealer putting up a fight.
Shang-Chi, Katy and Xialing only watched on, not really wanting to get involved in this fight.
Yet they were quickly overwhelmed by the combined efforts of Rand, Barton, Walters and Strange and were on the brink of defeat when the sorcerer of the Avengers caught something out of the corner of his eye.
He turned at the last second to see a red, ethereal dragon sent in his direction, nearly biting him in two.
Strange hastily created a shield that caused the dragon to bounce off of him. However, the force behind it was enough to send him sprawling.
"Strange!" Danny called out to him when a yellow chain manifested from behind him, latching around his ankle and tossing him away.
"What the hell?!" She-Hulk yelled.
Clint, being one for keen eyes and intellect, was quick to realize just what was happening.
"Shit." He said under his breath. "They've got their own sorcerer!"
Lo and behold, said Sorcerer appeared, casting a spell that pulled all the men of the Ten Rings and their captives away from the Avengers.
Strange recovered from his initial disruption and eyed the newly arrived magic user standing in the midst of the Ten Rings.
He wore black robes, had a hood over his head and his eyes and hands glowed with sickly yellow energy.
The Master of the Mystic Arts saw he had no garments or symbols on him that would help him in recognizing who this man was and where his allegiances lay in terms of sorcery. But it wasn't hard to deduce that this man was an enemy.
"Sorcerers." The newly arrived magic-user said with a sneer. "Finally coming out of the shadows to play a larger role? Never thought I'd see the day."
Strange was guarded, rapidly thinking over on how to deal with this new foe when he heard an explosion of power from outside.
The Avengers turned their heads back in time to see Iron Man falling from the skies and Wenwu reentering the building with a burst of power from his rings. The heroes were sent flying back for a moment though some managed to stay standing in time to see Wenwu standing next to the robed man.
"Get us out of here, now!" Wenwu commanded.
The enemy sorcerer nodded, swiftly forming glyphs that surrounded them all. They fiercely glowed, which soon became blinding. The light became encompassing, forcing the Avengers to either look away or try and stop it.
It was a useless effort as the light died down a moment later.
With the Avengers all able to see again, they say they failed; for everyone affiliated with the Ten Rings disappeared from the building, and so were their three captives.
"Dammit!" Iron Fist exclaimed, stomping his foot in frustration. "They got away."
They heard the sound of thrusters and all turned to see Iron Man flying up into the building to join them, armor slightly beaten and scorched in a few places.
"So we lost, I take it." Tony wryly stated more than asked, seeing that the Ten Rings were all gone now.
Hawkeye hummed in response to that, making everyone turn to him. The master archer held up an arrow that was missing its specialized tip, a coy smirk in place.
The Avengers looked up and down at the arrow and at its owner, their minds slowly piecing together what Clint did.
"Can we track them?" Was Jen's immediate question, Barton bobbing his head from side to side.
"Well, it's never traveled through magical portals before so the Wi-Fi might get a bit screwy but-"
"You have me." Strange confidently said.
"Yeah, precisely." Hawkeye pointed at him. "So we're just getting started with these bozos."
"Alright then." Tony approvingly nodded. "Let's call in the others. Time to get back to it."
Greetings one and all, glad to be back after a little while longer away from this story than usual.
So, a quick response is in order, I moved recently. Yeah, transition period in my life, so to speak and that came as my first priority.
Lot of adjusting, work stuff, home stuff and all that shit.
And that's just on my end. Jebest has also been just as busy with his own stuff on top of us trying to get back on other stories.
And speaking of which, boy is there a lot to talk about.
Specifically, in terms of the IPs regarding our crossovers.
First, let's start with She-Hulk.
What a god-awful show. The writing is atrocious, the characters are horrible, the acting is… meh at times, the CGI is just uncanny valley and that's only the surface. Plot, setting, story beats, "comedy" (if you could call it that). Like… my god, I haven't seen an MCU show this bad.
We're contrarian comic book fans. By default, we wanna love our comic book stories and characters come to life.
But ONLY when they're done well.
She-Hulk is a straight-up insult to the character, the MCU and the fans.
Jebest4781: I agree. There are only a few things, literally a few things on the show that are… alright but they are greatly overshadowed by the rest of the issues. One such thing is the writers and development team not having proper consultants given this is supposed to deal with court cases among a variety of other things. Not to mention a litany of other factors that'll be too long to dwell into.
FMW: House of the Dragon.
Great show though let's be real, unless you're a lore aficionado like Jeb and I, the time jumps are gonna be screwy as fuck with you. Still, it's been enjoyable, serving as good inspiration for our A Song of Fire, Ice and Hearts story. Mostly just to get us to write the story more often, that kind of thing. Great acting. Viserys Targaryen and Daemon are my favorites so far.
Jeb: Man I feel bad for Viserys that we see the "fucking politicking" is literally eating and rotting the man alive from the inside out, both figurative and literal. He has all this crap placed upon him and he can't satisfy anyone while everyone is just feasting on his issues. Yes, he's a tragic character, but also heavily flawed as he wasted years in not training Rhaenyra properly and making it so that she isn't really invested in wanting to lead as a result. Not to mention all of the other issues she has created which is fueling more of the upcoming problems for the upcoming Dance of the Dragons. Then again Alicent was just fed all these thoughts by her father and paranoia seeped in to make it all worse. But overall, the show is great… despite the big time skip in episode 6 that made many people wish we got more developments with characters. And I wouldn't blame them if they weren't ASoFaI fans as they'd be thrown off to a degree.
FMW: So House of the Dragon is doing well on reestablishing goodwill with the GOT fanbase. You know what isn't doing so well? Rings of Amazon. I mean… I don't even wanna say it to be honest. I'm a diehard Tolkien fan, I've read all the books, watched hours of content on the legendarium and to see what Amazon is doing to it right now, Jesus fuck, Tolkien is rolling in his grave right now. That show deserves nothing but scorn, apathy and pity and I'm glad to see so many people understand it's a bad show and a disgusting stain and spit in the face of the legacy that is J.R.R Tolkien. You could've told ANY OTHER STORY in the legendarium but ya went with one that was vague and the tagline being, "the story that Tolkien never wrote". Yeah no shit ya fucking dumbasses, Tolkien would NEVER write the shit that you have the audacity to associate with his name and legacy. Fuck right off Amazon.
Jeb: RoP, while visually nice, is bad in storytelling. It was outright hard for me to continue watching the show after the first few episodes and… I couldn't anymore. Even if I'm not a Tolkien fan, I at least know a number of basic stuff to at least respect that series universe. What was done with Galadriel was just disappointing. She's not supposed to be like this swordswoman as I've always known her as a spellcaster/cleric at most. If they were going with a spellsword before transitioning to the straight-up spellcaster/cleric then I could be fine with that but… ugh! Just so many issues with her and that's just one of many problems I have with the show.
FMW: Other than that trash fire, one show I need to get on that Bullet and Jeb have watched is Andor, which is surprisingly good from what they've told me which is pleasant to hear after the disappointment that was the Reva- I mean, Kenobi show. So I gotta watch that when I can.
So to wrap things up, this chapter was supposed to be, way, way, way longer but I realized that with me moving recently and Jeb's own responsibilities, this chapter would not have come out for another two weeks minimum or month maximum.
We had to cut some scenes and shorten others in order to get this chapter out already cause we gotta get to the rest of Shang Chi on top of returning to the Star Wars galaxy.
If some of the changes to Shang-Chi seem familiar, the YouTuber Savage books with his rewrite video of the movie cause, much as we enjoyed the film, enough for us to include it in this story, we recognize the flaws and unfulfilled potential that the story still had.
So we tweaked it our way and the Savage Books video helped.
Thanks for being patient everyone.
Rate, Read and Review and as Always Have Nice Day.