The vast expanse of the icy arctic was breath taking and beautiful in its own way, and the way that the ice of all forms seemed to shape up in large cliffs and archways in all different forms had something of an artistic sense to them, but in all honesty, none of the six Avengers that were traveling through the area really cared about any of that right now. The morning after the battle with Enchantress and Executioner, the team had gotten a call from Nick Fury saying that if they did not get the Hulk back with them, then the director of S.H.I.E.L.D. would have to put General Ross and the Hulk Busters on it. The minute they all received the message, they were all suited up and flying out after the Hulk as soon as Iron Man had picked up a small trail of gamma energy to follow, which led them to the icy terrain they were scouring now, with Iron Man and Thor leading the way from the air, while the remaining four Avengers flew behind them in the Quinjet.
"This is the coolest thing I've ever done. I'm driving a jet," Wasp exclaimed excitedly from where she was sitting in the pilot's seat.
"It's actually on autopilot Wasp. Sorry," Iron Man then revealed to the insect themed heroine, getting a pout from Wasp in response and a short laugh from Naruto, who was sitting right behind her. "The fishermen we encountered earlier were pointing at that crater. What is that Ant-Man a meteor hit?"
"No, that's the Hulk throwing a tantrum," Hank instantly corrected as the Quinjet, Iron Man, and Thor landed on the edge of the crater.
"Truly, the Hulk's anger is impressive," Thor commented as he turned to Stark. "Tell me Iron Man, how do you intend to convince him to come back with us?"
"I have no idea Thor, at least nothing short of having Sasuke using his fancy eyes to make him come back," Iron Man admitted.
"I am not doing that," Sasuke told Tony flatly. To be honest, he had not told the other Avengers about the communicator Naruto gave to Hulk because he knew that they would try even harder to get him or Naruto to convince Hulk to come back with them. It was already bad enough that they were doing that already after the blonde told them everything else about his last chat with the Hulk.
"Well I'm just saying," Tony shrugged. "J.A.R.V.I.S., scan for life forms."
"Mortal technology," Thor groaned as Iron Man's armor ran the requested scan. "You would do better to trust your eyes and ears."
"To be fair Thor, there are some things that mortal technology can accomplish much better than we can on our own," Naruto pointed out from in the Quinjet as he checked the scanner.
"I'm picking something up. It's a life sign but it's faint. That's so weird though since I can't see or hear it," Iron Man reported a minute later while he gave Thor a knowing look from behind his helmet's face mask.
Naruto had to laugh at Thor's expense as the Asgardian was once again one-upped by someone and quickly told him, "Thor I think we need to give you some lessons on smack talk, otherwise you won't be able to ever one up on anyone in that area ever."
Sasuke could only shake his head in good humor at the three men before he leaped out of the Quinjet in the direction of the life sign Tony had picked up with Wasp. "Okay, if this is some kind of evil snow monster I'm going to be…," Wasp started to say.
"Jan, watch out!" Sasuke suddenly shouted, but his cry came too late as Janet flew right into a large outcropping of ice before she bounced back. Once Janet had regained her bearings, she got a good look at what she hit and her eyes instantly widened just as Sasuke's had, but for an entirely different reason than the Uchiha.
"Never mind," Wasp said as Iron Man and Thor came to land behind them. "Tony, that's…that's…"
Iron Man instantly finished for Wasp in a tone that displayed his own shock at the sight of the man in a red, white, and blue suit with a similarly colored shield that had a star in the center frozen in the ice. "Captain America, and according to my armor…he's alive!"
Now Sasuke's eyes were almost as wide as Janet and Tony's were, as while he had seen the statue of Captain America in New York and seen the pictures of him in the history books of this universe, to realize that the actual man himself was frozen in ice before them was another thing entirely. "We have to get him out of there," Sasuke exclaimed, getting everyone out of their stupor.
"Right. Just give me a second and I'll cut him out of the surrounding ice to…" Iron Man started to say when he was suddenly cut off by the sound of Sasuke's flames from his Phoenix Flower Jutsu. A minute later, the ice surrounding the portion Captain America was trapped in had completely melted. "Or you could just do that. You know sometimes I can't help but feel those powers of yours are kind of like cheating."
Sasuke just chuckled with a small smile in response as Thor carefully lifted the frozen captain up off the ground to fly him back to the Quinjet.
A few hours later as the Quinjet was finally reaching New York city, the machines Tony had onboard had finally thawed Captain America all the way out when suddenly the World War II soldier started to stir. "This is incredible. He's waking up," Hank gasped as he approached the table that Captain America was lying down on, which Thor, Iron Man, and Naruto were all standing over.
"Is his brain okay," Wasp asked from up in the cockpit.
The moment Captain America started to get a bit more color into his frozen face, Hank approached him and asked, "Captain, are you alri…"
"BUCKY!" the captain suddenly shouted as he sat up and slammed his shield into Ant-Man, sending him flying up to the cockpit. A hard kick was then connected to Thor's side and caused him to nearly stumble into Naruto as Cap spun off of the table and shoved it into Iron Man, pinning him against the wall.
"Captain, you're safe. You're with friends," Tony grunted, but Captain America was not buying it.
"What are you? Some kind of HYDRA automaton," the captain demanded.
"Captain, calm down and just listen to me," Naruto said as he gave the captain a placating gesture. "You've been frozen in ice for decades."
"You're creative son, I'll give you that," Captain America told Naruto with a side glance. "Where've you taken me? Where's Bucky?"
"Calm yourself Captain. As the robot and shinobi say, you are among friends," Thor then tried to assure the captain, but his efforts only got him a shield to the head and an elbow to his gut. Before he could recover, Captain America had grabbed Thor's arm and flung him over his head and into the cockpit where Thor hit the dashboard and caused the autopilot to go offline. The jet's boarding ramp then lowered, and Captain America took this opportunity to jump out of the plane and into the water below.
The Avengers would have gone after him, but they had bigger problems. "I can't stabilize it," Wasp called.
"Move over and let me," Sasuke told Wasp as she took the controls. "I'll try to bring the jet in for an emergency landing on the water, you guys go and get the captain."
"You sure you can do it Sasuke?" Iron Man asked.
Sasuke merely glanced over the controls as he began to work them and replied, "I learned all I can about it while I was gathering information on your world."
Iron Man looked to the others and simply said, "Good enough for me. Let's go!"
With that said, the other Avengers were quickly out the door as Sasuke did exactly as he said he would and safely landed the Quinjet on the water. Meanwhile, Captain America had finally climbed ashore on Ellis Island where he saw the Statue of Liberty itself standing proud and tall in the shinning sun, and confirming that he was likely back in his home country. He did not have much time to ponder this as Iron Man floated down in front of him calling out, "Captain America, stand down! You really need to come with us."
Cap's response was to throw his shield at Iron Man and knock the armored hero out of the air while the shield rebounded off the statue's torch and flew back to his hand. "Hey! We don't want to fight you we're trying to help you," Wasp called out as she flew up to the captain.
"What are you lady? One of Zemo's experiments?" Captain America demanded.
"What? No I'm…well it's complicated," Wasp admitted.
"Stand aside Wasp," Thor shouted out as he came down with his hammer raised to attack.
"Thor, no!" But Wasp's protest came too late as the lightning infused hammer collided with Captain America's shield, creating a powerful shockwave the minute it did. The minute Thor's lightning had died down, Cap swept Thor's feet out from under him with a sweep kick just as Giant-Man rose out of the water behind him.
"Sir, we really need to get you to a hospital," Hank told the captain calmly. Everyone's attention was then drawn to the boat of tourists that was passing by and the people taking pictures of the heroes as it did. The sight of this caused Captain America to pause in shock for a moment, which allowed the Avengers to approach him once again.
"Okay enough," Iron Man stated as he flew into the captain's view as he tried to explain the situation once again. "You have to come with us. You don't understand. This is not 1943."
"He is a warrior Stark. He will not yield," Thor told Tony.
"You've got that right buddy," Captain America shouted as he threw his shield once again. This time Iron Man quickly dodged it on its initial path and then again after it rebounded off the side of the passing boat, but Thor was not so lucky to avoid the flying projectile. Iron Man then found himself getting tackled to the ground by Captain America and then reacted on impulse and prepared to fire his repulsors. The captain quickly took advantage of that and redirected the blast into Giant-Man's face with his bare hands, sending Hank crashing down into the ocean, before he flung Iron Man over his shoulder and into Thor. Seeing that he had effectively disabled his opponents for the moment, Cap tapped his shield with his boot and flipped it up onto his arm as he assumed a ready stance for anything else that would get thrown at him. What he did not expect though, was the sudden feeling of getting kicked at high speed on his back, and he instantly spun around to see Naruto standing there having assumed a fighting stance. Naruto then decided to change tactics and stated as he cracked his knuckles, "You know from what I've heard about you, I always thought you were more than just a shield."
Cap instantly saw what Naruto was doing and strapped his shield onto his back and assumed a fighting stance as well as he replied, "Let's find out then."
Naruto smirked in response as the two fighters stared each other down for a minute, waiting for the other to make the first move, until Naruto charged in with a fist aimed at Cap's head. Cap was quick to block the incoming fist, but had to quickly react when Naruto threw his leg up to kick his side. The Seventh Hokage did not miss a beat though as he threw an elbow into the captain's face and followed up with a hard kick to Cap's chest, but Captain America quickly recovered with a roll and caught Naruto's next kick with both hands, only to find himself flipped over Naruto as he rolled back with the Captain in a tight hold. Both fighters quickly recovered and faced each other in another ready stance, and Naruto smirked and said, "Pretty good for an old man."
Captain America allowed a small smirk of his own to grace his face before he took his turn to charge in and attack. He started off with a series of quick jabs that Naruto was able to block fairly easily, and then spun a kick into Naruto's side that he just barely blocked before he was suddenly hit by a hard upper cut. Naruto simply back flipped onto his feet just in time to block Captain America's next series of punches which were followed up by a sweep kick that nearly knocked Naruto off balance had he not rolled to his side and back onto his feet again. If the two of them were being honest with themselves, they were actually enjoying this a bit. It had been a while since Naruto had a chance to really get serious in a sparring match of taijutsu, and Captain America was definitely a good challenge. Captain America actually had to admit that he was feeling the same way about the Hokage as he found himself wondering where this man had trained to fight so well, when he was suddenly stung on the back of his head.
"Sorry, sorry, but I need you to listen," Wasp instantly said as Captain America turned to face her, keeping a close eye on Naruto as he did.
"My apologies Miss. This soldier doesn't listen to HYDRA agents, he just takes them down," Captain America told Wasp.
"Alright fine, then don't listen. Just look," Naruto told the captain as he dashed off up a nearby flight of stairs with his speed. Cap instantly followed the blonde shinobi up the same stairs in pursuit, but he came to hard stop when he saw what the Hokage was leading him to. Standing there before him, was a memorial to himself and his partner, Bucky.
As he continued to stare in shock, the Avengers all came up behind him as Iron Man lifted his face mask and simply said, "You've been gone a long time Captain. Welcome home."
Captain America just glanced at the team for a minute before he nodded in thanks and finally collapsed from fatigue, silently allowing them to escort him back to the Quinjet so they could explain what had happened to him.
While the Avengers were dealing with the return of Captain America, somewhere in a remote location in the ocean, in the base of HYDRA on HYDRA Island, an alarm had suddenly gone off, and the door to Baron Strucker's throne room was blasted open. The HYDRA soldiers were quick to respond, only to stand down the next second when their previous leader, Baron Zemo, walked into the room along with a woman with long red hair tied in a ponytail, wearing a black outfit that was rather revealing, and carrying a whip on her right side.
"Zemo! So you escaped as well," Strucker commented from his seat.
"Yes, I escaped the prison you left me to rot in Strucker," Zemo quickly accused in response as the Hydra soldiers were quick to kneel before their previous leader. "I see you have kept my seat warm."
"HYDRA is MINE now!" Strucker protested.
"Don't embarrass yourself. I was running HYDRA when you were a child. Now look at you, a child in an old man's body," Zemo mocked.
"Reaper!" Strucker commanded, and his cloaked right hand man was quick to charge in with his arm blade, only to be intercepted and disposed of by the red haired woman that had come in with Zemo with but a few moves.
"I'm sure you know of my new associate, Whiplash," Zemo commented as Whiplash dropped Reaper's scythe to the ground at Strucker's feet. Strucker only snarled at his fellow Baron before he stood to fight against Zemo with his red arm glowing fiercely, when someone interrupted.
"Baron Strucker! I have…" a HYDRA soldier shouted as he ran in, only to pause and kneel down when he saw Zemo. "Uh…sir, there is news."
"What!" Strucker demanded, clearly angered at being interrupted and at being ignored in favor of Zemo.
The HYDRA soldier then pulled out a small device that displayed an image of the Avengers along with a face that Zemo never expected to see again. "Captain America is alive."
Zemo glared at the image of the World War II soldier before he gestured for Whiplash to follow him as he left. "Where are you going," Strucker demanded.
"You can have HYDRA, Wolfgang. All I want is Arnim Zola," Zemo replied as he and Whiplash walked out.
"What are you going to do Zemo," Strucker then asked.
Zemo's eyes narrowed in anger as he replied, "I'm going to destroy Captain America."
Zemo and Whiplash then entered an elevator in the HYDRA base, and as it was descending down to Arnim Zola's lab, Whiplash turned to Zemo and stated, "I hope you haven't forgotten our deal Zemo."
"Patience dear Whiplash," Zemo assured the whip-wielding woman. "You will get your chance for revenge on Iron Man soon enough. I guarantee it, but there are some things that must be dealt with first."
Whiplash only glared at Zemo before she finally nodded in acceptance and turned her attention to the dark lab that they had just arrived in. Inside the lab, one could see a number of strange machines and glass tubes with a weird substance inside of them, but Zemo paid them no mind at all, until one large portion of the substance came at them from behind, forcing him to draw his sword and chop off its tentacle. The strange blob creature then floated further into the light, allowing Zemo and Whiplash a better look at it as it growled at them, and when they finally saw their attacker, they could see that it was a large, round, dough-like creature with two skinny arms and a large mouth and eyes.
"Enough my pet," a synthesized voice then shouted out, getting the glob monster's attention. A minute later, a man in a large orange suit with a camera where his head should be, and his face being shown in a screen on his stomach stepped forward as he told the two, "You'll have to excuse Doughboy. He is very excited to see that you also escaped from S.H.I.E.L.D.'s prisons during the recent Exodus."
"I have news Arnim," Zemo told the man as he sheathed his sword and then flicked Doughboy's hand off his shoulder. "But first…"
"Yes," Zola replied, and he then led Zemo to a bed beneath a large machine. The moment Zemo had lied back on the table and it was lowered to a resting position, Zola walked over to the machine's controls saying, "It is good you escaped when you did. Your last treatment has almost worn off."
The machine was then activated, and a beam passed over Zemo as Zola continued what he was saying before. "We did too good a job on Virus X, my old friend. Sadly, I still have found no cure. Our formula is the only thing keeping it from…"
"Captain America is alive," Zemo interrupted as the procedure came to an end.
Zola's eyes widened as he proclaimed, "Amazing! Erskine's super soldier serum must be responsible. Had we ever obtained a DNA sample from the captain, we could've created an army of super soldiers." Zola's camera eye then turned to Zemo as the masked man stood up, and he quickly added, "And of course, cured you, Baron. I still believe the serum will reverse the effects of the virus."
"You need a DNA sample? I will bring you Captain America's head," Zemo told Zola confidently.
"There's a small problem with that Zemo. In case you hadn't noticed, Captain America has now allied with Iron Man and other powerful heroes," Whiplash pointed out.
"I am the finest bio-engineer on the planet, my dear, and over the decades I have learned one thing. Every problem has a solution," Zola declared as he gestured to one of the glass tubes near them. Zemo looked to see a creature that greatly resembled Doughboy, but was clearly even more powerful than Zola's pet.
Zemo smirked under his mask in anticipation for his upcoming battle with his old, long lost foe, and then turned to Whiplash as he said, "I know you will wish to fight Iron Man, Whiplash, but I believe that I will be in great need of your services when I face the captain."
Whiplash just nodded in silent consent, while she mentally threatened Zemo to not rob her of her chance at revenge against the armored avenger.
A few hours after the scene on Ellis Island, Captain America had woken up once again as the Quinjet was about to fly into its hangar in Avengers Mansion, and Iron Man and Naruto were quick to start filling him in on everything that had happened in his absence, or at least everything that was important. "So we…won the war," Captain America asked, just for clarification as everyone stepped off the Quinjet and into the mansion.
"Thanks in part to you," Tony replied as he opened his face mask once again.
"So HYDRA's gone," Captain America then asked.
"Uh…it's complicated," Tony told the captain. They had not really had a chance to explain how HYDRA had changed over the years. "I've had J.A.R.V.I.S. prepare a room for you until we get everything sorted out. You've been gone a long time, Cap."
"Welcome back sir," J.A.R.V.I.S. added, getting Captain America to pause in surprise and look around for the source of his voice.
"The building has its own voice. Tis very disconcerting," Thor explained as he walked past.
"Yeah…" Captain America replied. Naruto and Sasuke shared a look as they both wondered how badly the captain would freak out after he found out about their life story, but that would have to wait until another time as everyone had arrived in the Assembly Hall.
"There's something I have to show you," Tony told the captain as he brought up an image of a news article that was titled Captain America Fallen on the holographic screen. "My dad used to tell me stories about you when I was a kid. You were an inspiration to me."
Cap stared at the news article being shown for a minute before he simply hummed and said, "That's…some poor reporting, but if I survived…maybe Bucky…"
Tony placed a hand on Captain America's shoulder as he told the soldier, "I'm sorry Cap. Every kid in school learns that Captain America and Bucky sacrificed their lives to stop the Red Skull. It's a miracle you survived."
"Not quite every kid in school," Naruto muttered to Sasuke, who only elbowed him in response.
Steve hung his head for a minute as he muttered, "Bucky's gone. Everyone I ever knew…my whole world…it's all gone isn't it?"
The captain then simply placed his shield down on the table before he walked away sadly to the room that J.A.R.V.I.S. had prepared for him. Wasp was about to follow him when she was stopped by Hank who simply said, "Give him some time Jan."
Naruto would've agreed with Hank usually, but he and Sasuke knew better than any of the others that healing from this kind of loss was going to take more than just time. It was going to take someone that could relate even just a little, and Cap's healing process had only just begun.
Captain America was sitting in his room in a fresh version of his costume with his mask down to reveal he had blonde hair and a small, black and white picture of him and Bucky in his hands when he heard a knock on the door. "Who is it," he asked.
"It's Naruto, Cap. Mind if I come in?" Naruto called through the door. When the captain said it was okay, Naruto opened the door and walked in as he asked, "I know this is probably a stupid question, but how're you holding up?"
Cap just looked down sadly as he told Naruto, "I should never have woken up. I'm a soldier, not some future man. I can't imagine a world that's changed so much still needs…Captain America."
Naruto did not need to guess where Captain America was going with that last sentence, and it honestly made him sympathize with the super soldier. After all, there was still no guarantee that his own family and friends were okay despite what happened to back in Konoha. Still, he had to stay strong, and if he was going to do that, he had to make sure that Cap did as well as best as he could. "It's really tough, isn't it," Naruto asked as he sat down next to Cap on the bed, just to make sure he had the war hero's attention. "Suddenly waking up in another world that seems so similar and yet so different from your own, not knowing where any of your friends are or if they're even okay, and in the end, even if you want everyone to think that you're doing all right, you can't just hide how much its tearing you up inside forever."
Hearing all of this come from someone else surprised Captain America a little and he just had to ask, "How do you know about all of that?"
"Well…let's just say that you're not the only one here who's going through that kind of change. Just the most recent," Naruto replied, and from the look that Cap was giving him, he quickly figured out that he was going to have to give a little more than that. "I'm actually from another world entirely, and I ended up here after me and my friend had stopped a very powerful entity from destroying my village and stealing our power, and because that bastard was such a sore loser, we ended up being separated from our families and friends. I have no idea if they're okay or not."
Captain America stared at Naruto for a minute, and the blonde was starting to think that Cap was thinking he was crazy, until the super soldier smirked a little and said, "Somehow I just knew you were going to tell me you're from another world. After all, out of everyone on your team, you and your friend definitely look the most like someone who comes from another world, aside from Thor."
Naruto stared at Cap with a look of surprise before shaking his head and getting back on topic, saying, "My point is that the transition you're going through might seem hard now, but it can get better with time if you let it."
"I'm not so sure about that," Cap admitted with a sigh. When Naruto remained silent, Cap knew he was going to have to elaborate for the man. " I can't really imagine a world that's changed so much still needs…Captain America."
The two just sat there in silence for a few more minutes, until Naruto thought of something that might help Cap feel a little better. "You know, my dad was known as one of the greatest ninja who ever lived before I was born. He accomplished so much during his lifetime. I'm not entirely sure how many of them were true, but for the longest time, they served as inspiration to me for my own dreams," Naruto started off, gaining Cap's attention and making the super soldier wonder where he was going with this. "Dad was never around because he had unfortunately died shortly after I was born along with my mom. It wasn't until years later I found out what happened to him, that he gave up his life to save mine. He was the kind of person that would do anything to make sure that those he loved could live in a peaceful world even if he had to gamble everything to achieve it...even his own life. More than that, it's because he knew that no matter what changes, any world will always need those who want to protect it.' With that in mind, I think that this world is lucky that you woke up, because you're one of its greatest heroes. At least, it certainly seems that way based on what I've heard about you."
Captain America mulled that over for a minute. While it was sad to hear that Naruto never knew his parents, the reason for why the man's dad had sacrificed himself was certainly a noble one in its own right. After all, if a man loves his family so much he's willing to sacrifice himself just to keep them safe, it certainly says a great deal about his character. Maybe it is wrong to have to let Naruto grow up without a family for so long, but if Naruto's dad was doing something that would allow both the boy to live a peaceful life, then Cap could not really fault him for his decision that much. To be totally honest, he could sympathize with Naruto a little more after hearing that. After all, his own father had died serving his country, and his mother had died not long after that, so he had a pretty good idea of what it was like not having at least one parent around in your life. Learning all of this about Naruto allowed Captain America to see that this person really could empathize with his situation and that made Cap smile a little in spite of himself.
Knowing this, Captain America immediately stood up, fixed a much more confident gaze on the Hokage and said, "How about I make you deal son? If you keep believing in what you're doing and never give up the good fight, then neither will I."
Seeing the fire that was now burning in his eyes made Naruto finally see just why everyone saw this man before him as one of this world's greatest heroes. It was a fire that was brimming with confidence and determination to never give up, and while it may not have been all that strong right now, it certainly seemed to be steadily building up to the point where it would have made anyone want to believe that anything was possible so long as Captain America was standing with them. That feeling was all that Naruto needed in order to grin in response to the captain's offer, earning a smile from the super soldier in response, and he was just about to ask Cap to tell him a little bit more about his past adventures, when another knock sounded at the door, and the two turned to see Wasp standing there with a small smile on her face.
"Janet, where you eavesdropping on us," Naruto playfully accused.
"Not intentionally. I was actually just on my way up to help Steve myself, but it looks like you beat me to it. I only stuck around in case you needed an extra hand in the matter," Janet admitted. She was then wrapping Naruto in a comforting hug to show him that she was going to be there for him if he ever needed her, which Naruto recognized and reciprocated in kind with a small smile, and with that out of the way, she then turned to Cap and asked, "So, I've gotta ask, how do you like the room? Iron Man tried to make it as much like the Forties as he could."
Just then, a beep sounded from the radio and one of J.A.R.V.I.S.'s terminals popped out of it as the AI said, "Excuse me Miss Wasp and Mister Uzumaki. There appears to be a guest at the main gate."
"As much like the forties except for the talking computer," Jan admitted with a small laugh.
Steve just smiled kindly in reply as he said, "It's alright actually. I'm just still trying to get used to…well, you know."
Wasp just nodded and placed a comforting hand on his shoulder, when the mansion suddenly shook under the force of an explosion. "What was that?" Naruto asked.
"Don't know, but we'd better find out," Wasp replied as she raced out of the room with Naruto and Captain America right behind her as the latter pulled on his mask. All the while, they could not help but wonder how the other Avengers were doing with the situation on Ellis Island at the moment.
Simply put, they were not doing so well. Large, blob creatures had completely covered the island, and the Avengers who had responded to the situation were not fairing very well against it, as Thor proved after getting his arms and hammer stuck in the strange blobs. "They appear to be some kind of man-made, biological life form," Hank studied in fascination.
"Hank, please don't say that like it's a good thing. In case you haven't noticed, they are trying to eat us," Sasuke shouted as his bird summon Garuda flew out of the blob monster's reach and threw a pair of kunai infused with lightning at the creatures, proving that so far, his attacks were one of the only the only things that were actually affecting the creatures even a little.
Eventually though, the creatures began merging together to cover the entire island and trapped Hank, who quickly gone Giant-Man to try and escape, and Thor in their grasp, while it started to grab Sasuke and Tony as they tried to fly free of the glob monsters. "Good thing Cap's not here. This kind of thing probably didn't happen in the forties. He might freak out," Iron Man commented as he was suddenly wrapped up even more tightly in the globs and he fired his thrusters to their maximum settings.
"You mean like you are right now," Sasuke asked as he cut through the globs with his sword to free himself for a moment.
"Yeah pretty much," Iron Man replied before he was pulled under the blob.
Meanwhile, the remaining two Avengers and Captain America were racing through the mansion to see what had just hit the mansion as the captain shouted, "I need my shield!"
"Come on, we're almost there," Wasp told him as she flew ahead.
"Wasp, wait! Ah damn it," Naruto cursed as he chased off after her, only to stop short at the sight of Doughboy coming in and oozing around one of the columns.
"Ewww," Wasp groaned.
"Meh, nothing I haven't seen before," Naruto commented, having seen people and objects pass through walls plenty of times before. The mansion's defense systems then fired some missiles at Doughboy, which the glob monster just absorbed into him as it belched in response.
"You ever seen that before," Wasp asked in disgust.
"No, that's actually a new one," Naruto admitted.
"Okay then, you're fat and disgusting, and lucky for me, slow," Wasp then said as she turned to Doughboy with a disgusted look that soon morphed into a smirk.
"Jan wait a minute," Naruto tired to warn her, but Wasp had already flown directly ahead to fire her stingers at Doughboy, hitting him a few times and getting a groan in response until the blob started to evade her blasts easily and quickly.
"Okay, I take it back. Not slow," Janet yelled as she flew out of the way of the glob monster when it lunged at her. The minute Doughboy hit the floor behind her, Cap came from around the corner and slammed his fists down on it. Doughboy just retaliated by throwing the captain into a wall and trapping him there until Naruto raced in and slammed a Rasengan into the monster, hurting it just enough to get it off Captain America and allowing Wasp to get its attention once again with another barrage of stingers. Naruto quickly raced over to make sure Captain America was okay, but the two were soon both widening their eyes in fear when Doughboy clamped his mouth down on Wasp, swallowing her whole.
"NO/JAN!" Captain America and Naruto cried out respectively, and they prepared to face Doughboy once again. Just as Doughboy was approaching them though, the monster seemed to glow yellow for a minute before his whole body started bubbling and he suddenly exploded, covering the entire hallway and Naruto and Steve with what was left of him.
"Ew! I am so glad none of the guys I used to fight ever exploded like this," Naruto groaned in annoyance as he wiped the goo off him. A few seconds later, some of the goo allowed a pair of yellow insect wings to extend and fly up, and Naruto and Steve both smiled when they saw Wasp's face after she wiped some of the goo off of it, proving that she was alright.
"Okay, that was disturbing," Wasp coughed as she continued to wipe herself clean. She then gasped in shock as Naruto whipped out one of his kunai and swung it at a laser blast that nearly hit her, deflecting it and all the others blasts effortlessly like a Jedi deflecting lasers with his light saber.
The three then looked to where the blasts were fired from and saw a man in a purple outfit and two swords on his hip holding a smoking pistol as he said, "Captain America. It's been a long time."
"Zemo," the captain snarled as he narrowed his eyes in anger, instantly recalling all the atrocities that the man had caused during the war.
"I take it you two aren't old war buddies," Wasp quipped before she was suddenly knocked to the ground by a long black whip. Naruto was about to respond to it, when suddenly the same whip wrapped around his arm and forced his kunai out of his hand.
Naruto looked to see that Whiplash holding the other end of the whip as the red haired criminal mocked, "Aw, did I make you lose your sword little man? Too bad."
Naruto narrowed his eyes and then with a flick of his wrist, pulled on the whip with his trapped arm as he pulled out his another kunai and slashed the woman's weapon off of him, freeing his arm. He then quickly picked up his previously dropped kunqi back to his free hand and assumed a fighting stance back-to-back with Captain America as he said, "You take sock face. I'll handle the dominatrix over here."
Captain America just nodded in reply and instantly charged up to Zemo as the former Hydra leader fired on him. Cap was able to dodge his old foe's fire easily until he was close enough to knock Zemo's pistol away with a hard kick that he followed up with a second kick to pin Zemo beneath his boot. "Excellent! I was worried you wouldn't be as I remembered you," Zemo declared excitedly. "I wouldn't want you to be anything less than perfect."
The minute he finished saying that, Zemo kicked Captain America off of him and retrieved his recently dropped sword as he charged the captain with a slash of his own. "All these years, I thought the Red Skull had defeated you. Now I can finally have my revenge," Zemo declared as he slashed at the captain, and began circling him as Captain America did the same.
"How are you still alive Zemo," Captain America demanded.
"Death means nothing to me. I have evolved my body over the years, while you remain as you ever were," Zemo boasted. He then charged Captain America and slashed a bit of Captain America's costume with his sword as Steve did his best to fight off the old World War II criminal.
Meanwhile, the Seventh Hokage was engaged in just as fierce a battle with Whiplash, as he was using quick bursts of speed to stay ahead of the whip wielding woman, slashing at her whenever he could only to jump away before she could catch him in her whip once again. When he got in close though, he could see that the woman was well versed in hand-to-hand combat, and it was almost as though he were fighting Captain America on Ellis Island again, but she was not as refined as the captain and much more brutal than him as well, and lucky for Naruto, a bit easier to gain an advantage against. "What's the deal Whiplash? You've never had anything to do with Zemo before, so why help him now," the shinobi asked.
"He offered me a chance to get revenge on Iron Man, and I wasn't about to pass up on that," the woman replied as she flung her whip at Naruto once again. The blonde shinobi was quick to avoid it with his skills and then slashed the weapon apart once again before he raced up to her and began to try and hit her with a few jabs. Whiplash was sure that he would never get her until Naruto landed a spin kick to her stomach, knocking the wind right out of her and then pinned her to the ground with his kunai at her throat.
"I think you're going to have to wait a little longer for that shot at revenge," Naruto smirked. He then heard Captain America cry out in pain and turned to see Zemo had knocked the soldier to the ground at his mercy. That moment of distraction was all Whiplash needed to sweep kick Naruto's feet out from under him and jump back to her feet with a back flip.
As Naruto quickly rolled to his feet, he heard Zemo say, "You are alone Captain. A relic in this world. Arnim Zola's creatures will deal with your new friends, but you…let the Skull have Bucky. Your life is mine to take!"
With that declared, Zemo leaped at Captain America with his sword ready to strike, when suddenly the blade was blocked as Captain America's shield was flung into the wall and right into his path. Everyone looked to where the shield had been thrown from to see a man in a black cat suit leap from one ledge to the other as he made to leave, but their attention was quickly brought back to the situation as Captain America declared, "Alright Sock Face. You want a fight, you've got one!"
Captain America then charged in with his trusted shield at the ready this time. The minute Zemo's sword clanged against his shield, Cap kicked Zemo back and threw his shield at the masked villain. Zemo ducked as the shield flew over him, only to rebound off the wall and ceiling until it hit him in the back and returned to Captain America's waiting hand. Zemo leapt to his feet and was about to slash at Captain America again when his sword was suddenly deflected by Naruto's kunai as the jinchuriki shouted out, "And you're wrong Zemo. He's not alone!"
Zemo looked to see that Naruto had used his Shadow Clone technique to provide Captain America with some backup and change his odds against Whiplash to being two-on-one. He did not have long to think on this though as Captain America slammed his shield onto his chin in an upper cut and then kicked Zemo away hard. As Zemo started to rise, he was suddenly knocked off balance as Naruto raced in with a diagonal, upward slash from his kunai that he immediately followed up with a kick. Naruto then spun around and slammed his left fist into Zemo's face at the exact same moment that Captain America did, sending Zemo to the ground.
"Give up Zemo," Captain America ordered.
"It's over for both you and your new partner," Naruto added as his clone pinned Whiplash against the wall with their kunai at her throat.
"Never. This is my world, and you don't belong in it Captain, no matter how much your little ninja friend seems to believe otherwise," Zemo protested.
"I may not know a lot about the future, but I know one thing about the past," Captain America told his old foe with a small amount of pride. "You lost the war. You'll always lose whether I'm here or not."
Zemo was not going to be beaten so easily, and he pulled a small device from his belt and activated it before tossing it over to where Wasp was lying unconscious. The minute Captain America saw the countdown on the device as Zemo threw it, he knew immediately what it was and quickly shouted, "Naruto, hit the deck!"
Naruto quickly sped out of the way while Whiplash knocked his clones aside and used her whip to swing herself clear as well. Captain America quickly jumped and landed with his shield blocking Wasp from the device just as the countdown hit zero and it exploded. Whiplash then landed next to Zemo and helped him to get out of the way after she turned to Naruto, who was suddenly torn between letting them go and checking on his friends, and said, "This is far from over ninja. Consider yourself now higher up on my revenge list than Iron Man."
Naruto just snarled in response before he ran over to see Captain America and Wasp seemed to be okay, despite the fact that the hallway around them was not. Wasp then jolted up and asked, "What'd I miss?"
"We'll explain on the way," Captain America told the miniaturized woman. "Your team is in trouble."
"Then let's get moving!" Naruto shouted and he immediately ran to the Quinjet so that it would be ready by the time the two got to the hangar.
Back at Ellis island, the blob monster had nearly consumed all of the island beneath it, and Thor's lightning attacks were not making any difference in stopping it. If anything, they were just making it more of a problem. "Thor, the lightning blasts are not helping! You're just making it bigger," Sasuke shouted as he struggled to get free so he could use his more powerful jutsu.
The minute Thor ceased his lightning blasts though, he was immediately swarmed by the monster's gooey form. "You say science is responsible for this monstrosity?" Thor asked as he struggled to get free.
"Well, people are responsible for it," Giant-Man clarified as he pushed against the blobs around him. "Bad people using science very irresponsibly."
Iron Man blasted himself free for a moment then, but he was quickly pulled back down, and he had to cry out, "Someone do something!"
His request was fulfilled when a red and white blur sliced through the tentacles that were pulling him down, and the tentacles holding Sasuke were suddenly slashed apart by a blue blur. The two heroes then looked to see Naruto and Captain America standing on the end of the Quinjet's boarding ramp as the latter caught his shield and Wasp flew down to fire her stingers at the monster that was holding her friends prisoner.
In a matter of minutes, both Wasp and Sasuke had blasted and burned the blob monsters off of the other Avengers and cleared an area for Naruto and Captain America to land safely. Iron Man immediately thanked Captain America as the soldier pulled him free, only for the captain to reply, "We're not done soldier. This is one of Arnim Zola's genetic freaks."
"Zola, of course! I should've recognized his work," Hank exclaimed as he shrank down to his normal size. "That's why Wasp's stings were so effective. They're bio-energy, and the same must be true for Sasuke's fire attacks since they were so effective as well."
"You know that madman?" Captain America asked skeptically.
"I've studied some of his creatures before," Hank admitted. "They all had a weakness. Instability, and with the right energy signature, we can accelerate that instability!" Hank then activated his Ant-Man helmet and began cycling through the sound frequencies it put out until he found just the right one, which caused the glob monsters to move back and cry out in pain. Hank then looked to his armored teammate and shouted over the noise, "Iron Man, modulate your repulsor. Match the energy signature my helmet is putting out!"
"J.A.R.V.I.S…what he said," Iron Man then told his AI.
"Indeed," J.A.R.V.I.S. replied, and he immediately began doing just as he was asked while Ant Man, Wasp, and Sasuke continued to hold back the monster. The minute the modulation was finished, Iron Man fired his unibeam at full power, and the monsters were instantly vaporized, leaving nothing more than a gooey mess on the island and everyone on it.
"Victory…is ours," Thor declared unenthusiastically as he blew some of the gunk out of his face.
Wasp just flapped her wings a bit to clear some of the gunk off of her as she shivered and then sarcastically commented at the same time as Naruto and Sasuke, "Hooray."
Everyone just stood there for another minute either looking over what had happened or wiping the gunk off of them, when the sound of excited cheers of the grateful people reached all of their ears. As they all turned to face the crowd, each of the Avengers could see a smile on the faces of Naruto, Sasuke, and Captain America, as they all finally felt like they had proven to themselves that they really were still making a difference by continuing to be the heroes that they were born to be.
That night, everyone had returned to Avengers Mansion for much needed showers and some downtime. As the others were all relaxing somewhere in the mansion or just showering off, Tony and Naruto were just sitting back and watching the news reports on the attack on Ellis Island from earlier that day with Captain America. "Bio-engineered monsters, freaky ooze creatures…is that what it was like fighting evil in the forties," Tony asked the captain.
"No. Sometimes it got strange," the soldier replied with a smirk.
Tony stared for a moment before he asked, "Did you just make a joke? Captain America has a sense of humor."
"Don't get used to it soldier, and please, call me Steve," Rogers then told Stark with a smile.
Tony smiled as he stood up and held out a small picture to Steve and said, "I found something. I want you to have it."
"Howard Stark," Steve exclaimed as he accepted the photo of him, the previously mentioned man, and Bucky.
"My father," Tony explained. "He looked up to you so much. We all did. We all do."
"That was a long time ago," Steve argued.
"I don't know about that. I mean I look up to you a great deal and about over a month ago I never even knew about you," Naruto told the super soldier.
Steve smiled at Naruto before turning to Tony and saying, "Thank you for the photo Tony. It's really all I have now."
"That's not true. You saved our lives today, and Zemo and Arnim Zola are still out there. You have place here Steve, with the Avengers," Tony then told the captain as he held out his hand.
Steve smiled proudly as he accepted the handshake saying, "I'd be honored. Now, when can I meet the Avenger who saved me from Zemo? The one in the black cat suit?"
Tony paused for a minute as he raised an eyebrow and asked, "Wait, who?"
"Oh yeah, did I forget to mention that such a person somehow snuck in here," Naruto asked sheepishly. Tony instantly started ranting about how he was going to be giving the security system a complete overhaul as he stormed out of the room, and Steve looked to Naruto with a questioning eyebrow. "Don't worry, he'll be fine once he does a bit of tech work," Naruto reassured.
Steve smiled and said, "Thank you again for what you said earlier Naruto, and if you ever need someone to talk to, I'd be happy to listen."
Naruto smiled and said, "Thanks Steve, that means a lot."
Steve nodded in response before he said, "Now I've been meaning to ask, and don't think I'm being rude towards your friend Sasuke when I say this…"
"If you're going to ask if those eyes of his are part of his natural eye color then, that's a rather long story."
Steve just chuckled in response while saying, "That is actually kind of strange."
"If you think that's strange, let me tell you about the time when me, Sasuke, and Sakura had to do for our first test as shinobi," Naruto told Steve as they moved to join the others.
During this celebratory time at Avengers Mansion, Zemo and Whiplash had just returned to Arnim Zola's lab as the former called out, "Your creatures failed me Arnim. In order to defeat Captain America, we must destroy the Avengers." Zemo then paused for a moment when he received no response and called out again, "Arnim?"
A light suddenly came on behind them and they spun around to see Arnim Zola lying on his side at the feet of Enchantress and Executioner. Whiplash was about to attack when Zemo held up an arm to stop her, allowing Enchantress to say, "Baron Zemo and Whiplash. I have an offer for you two."
AN: Well, looks like Naruto and Cap are starting to become very good friends at least in terms of sparring partners, and for those of you who don't know, this version of Whiplash is a character from the cartoon, having first appeared in Breakout, Part 1. I know that Doughboy was already there, but I wanted Naruto to fight another supervillain for a bit while Cap had to deal with Zemo alone for a while. And yeah, she's going to be in this story's version of the Masters of Evil as well. Just so you know, I also plan on adding one other person to that line-up as well so that the villainous team will even up with the Avengers team, since Naruto and Sasuke's inclusion on the team would make it so that the Avengers outnumber the Masters of Evil by the end of the season. I'll try to get the next chapter out sooner than this one, but I can't guarantee that for sure. Please read and review, and I'll see you next time!