Avengers: Masters of Vengeance
#1. Attack on the Mansion
Stark Tower, Manhattan
Stark Tower was a modern landmark of New York City. Built on the corner of 5th and Broadway it had been designed by Tony Stark to be a gleaming beacon of modern architecture, a glimpse of the future if you will. Built to resemble a four-pointed star from above, it stood at 93 stories, casting a large shadow over the rest of the Stark Tower Complex. Beneath it stood the South building at 35 floors and the North building at 55 floors, dwarfed in comparison. They had completed construction less than a year ago. Tony had initially designed it with the idea of moving into the top three floors in mind, but he had soon found out he didn't like living so close to his office space. The ladies didn't seem to like it, despite the modern aesthetic, nearly as much as his mansion either. He never moved in.
Most of the building was filled with offices and conference rooms for his executive teams, though some of the more sensitive Stark Industries projects had moved their labs into the building for security's sake. The bottom three floors were taken up by cafes, vendors, a cafeteria, and storage rooms filled with equipment that was worth more than most of his employees' lifetime earnings. It was because of these that a number of highly paid and trained security guards remained on the constant prowl around the premises night or day. Few criminals would entertain the idea of attempting to enter the building uninvited, especially since Iron Man could be there at any given time.
When Tony Stark came storming through the main doors no one questioned it. Not even the man who actually counted him as a friend, Harold "Happy" Hogan, his head of security, an auburn-haired former professional wrestler. Happy saw Tony, smiled, and immediately walked toward his boss, noting how he looked, worn and rough, he chalked it up to a late-night, drinking and womanizing, nothing unusual for the Billionaire playboy Tony Stark.
"Tony, the sensitive shipment you sent to Rhodes arrived without incident, but there were some security concerns at one of the old labs that I wanted to talk to you about," Happy started without so much as a 'hello'.
Stark stopped and turned to Happy, his expression obscured by a pair of large dark sunglasses. He usually wore sunglasses in the morning. "Don't talk to me yet, Happy, I haven't had my coffee yet."
Happy shut his mouth and looked mildly offended. In his memory, Tony had never needed coffee to talk to him. In fact, sometimes Happy had worried whether Tony had picked up a cocaine habit for all his manic energy. Maybe something had happened to his espresso maker at home, he'd have to ask Pepper later. Tony continued toward the Tower's main elevator and Happy followed silently.
"You know what," Tony spun on his heel to look at Happy again. His goatee just beginning to show a few gray hairs. "Don't follow me either, I don't want to see you until I'm fully caffeinated and ready to deal with you."
Happy frowned and took a couple of steps back away from Tony; his gaze never left the billionaire's back until the golden elevator doors closed behind him. Even then his suspicious gaze remained on those doors for a moment.
"Don't let him get to you," Happy's second in command, Vince Martell, said to him approaching from behind. The balding Italian-American always had his back. "You know how he can be when he's at the end of a bender."
"Yeah," Happy said doubtfully, a frown still firmly stuck on his face. "That's probably all it was."
"Let's go work on the warehouse problem on our own," Vince nodded toward the security office. "He usually doesn't want to be bothered with that kind of stuff. I don't think he'll mind at all."
Meanwhile, in the elevator, Tony Stark removed his dark shades and pocketed them. His right cheekbone had a small scar the glasses had covered. Tony Stark didn't have a scar there. A smile slowly grew across the imposter Stark's face as the elevator counted up. He unbuttoned the top button of his pink dress shirt and reached into his suit jacket and touched something strapped to his side. They had no idea what was coming, none of them. It wasn't just Tony Stark, CEO and Avenger, no, soon the whole world would be affected by what was about to take place. He had to force himself to stay calm and maintain his hungover facade, he was practically drooling with anticipation.
With a pleasant ding, the elevator stopped and opened its doors. They opened into a large reception room with four desks, two on each side, lining the wall that led to Tony Stark's opulent glass office, the whole of Manhattan spread out beneath him. At least the man knew to live like a king, maybe it would sting less when he was dethroned, better to have loved and lost and all that.
"Mister Stark!" one of the four ridiculously attractive secretaries, a beautiful black girl, said in surprise. "I thought you had just left your home."
"Where's Pepper?" the imposter asked.
"She's representing you in the Fujikawa meeting," one of the other secretaries, a blonde, volunteered quickly, obviously eager to please the boss. The look on her face said she really wanted to please the boss. It was going to be such a shame to ruin these beauties without having some fun first, but he was on a timetable and had to be out of here before the real Tony arrived.
"I just told you that on the phone," the first girl said suspiciously, her eyes narrowing as if looking at him for the first time. The imposter sighed.
"I supposed the four of you will have to do," the imposter had hoped to get more information from them, but one was already suspicious. They weren't who he had come for, but Pepper was elsewhere and time was short.
"What's she have that we don't?" a third asked.
"Chrissy, shut up," the first one barked. "Who are you?"
"I was gonna give you more time, but now you've forced me," imposter Stark sighed.
"What are you talking about?" Chrissy the secretary began to back away. It wouldn't do her any good.
In one quick motion, the imposter reached under his jacket and pulled out a Glock. The girls screamed and turned to flee. There was nowhere to go. Three loud reports echoed in the glass-walled reception area. Three bodies dropped to the floor. Chrissy, the suspicious one, the only one left alive, stood trembling and frozen to the spot.
"What do you want? Why are you doing this? Please!" she choked through uncontrolled sobs that shook her entire body. Staring down the barrel of a pistol that had just killed your co-workers could do that to a person.
"It's nothing personal," the imposter told her as he raised the gun to her face. "It's just business." BLAM! Blood spattered the white sidewalls. It was over. Far too quickly for the imposter's taste but he had to stick to the plan, the plan he had helped create. Too bad, they would have been fun.
He carefully placed the Glock on the desk, making sure to leave several very clear fingerprints as he did so. He then ran toward Tony's office and punched in the code to enter, it being the date of his mother's death, and ran to the center of the floor where supposedly the support beams were hidden under a golden circular wall.
When he had built this place Tony Stark had gone to great lengths to cover up the construction of his own personal and secret elevator. Only his very closest allies, Pepper and Happy, had any clue of its existence. The imposter pressed one of the electrical outlets in the golden wall then twisted it to the right then left. A section of the wall began to slide down from the ceiling, revealing a small circular one-man elevator inside. The imposter hopped inside and pressed a button on the interior wall. The wall slid back up to the ceiling just as the main elevator opened and shouting security guards came spewing out of it. They would never figure out how the imposter had disappeared right from under their noses.
Timely Bank, Manhattan
The Timely Bank, located on Madison Ave, right next to Credit Suisse. The once small-time bank had nearly gone under years ago but then their saving grace account fell right into their lap, the Liberty Legion account. The governments were desperate for any help they could receive at home while sending the majority of their troops to Europe during World War Two, the government agreed to work the bank to help bankroll the team. Having already worked with both the UN and US governments the Bank established new ways of verification and ID for those of the superhero persuasion to be able to bank and be paid by the Government without having to reveal their secret identities.
The floors were made of white Italian marble and decorated with expensive rugs imported from the Middle East. They may have once been a small-time bank but now they were one of the wealthiest, there were established branches in sixteen other countries, including Sweden. They showed off the luxuries their exclusive status had bought them. The floor was scattered with large expensive steel and mahogany desks that weighed far too much for one man to move. Their teller booths were made of solid steel but then decorated with golden vine patterns etched into their surfaces. Their teller windows were bulletproof as well. Their vault was the very best in the business.
They could do all of this thanks to the protection they received from their very own clientele, the superheroes. Though some whispered that they secretly worked with the supervillain community in some capacity. Due to the increased risk, and costly insurance, few other banks would follow in their footsteps, it solidified itself as the exclusive superhero bank in New York City, and several other major world cities. The other banks may have considered it a risk but Timely has been robbery free since the 1945 transition.
"Everybody on the floor!" Seven costumed individuals tossed off long trench coats and revealed themselves. Each of them dressed in their own unique costume, none of them looked friendly. A few people dove to the floor without hesitation, a few glanced around uncertainly before acquiescing, several customers stood firm, glaring in defiance.
"We're the Power Tools!" the man, known in superhuman circles as Jackhammer, shouted. He wore a gold, blue, and white costume with a kind of horned metal helmet that also covered most of his face. "We've taken on Captain America and other Avengers, you don't want to mess with us!" The Power Tools used to be seven normal criminals who had then been augmented to superhuman status by someone known only as the Power Broker. All of them had superhuman strength, endurance, and durability. In addition, each of them had been given a weapon, some of them were cybernetic while some were simply strapped on.
Jackhammer was perhaps the most powerful of the seven, his weapon was part of the suit he wore, it enhanced the concussive force of his blows by emitting pulsed vibrations on contact. He had designed the golden, white, and blue suit himself, unlike the others, and possessed intelligence that most of the Power Tools did not.
For the most part, the others were a bit simpler. The man known as Buzz-saw had two super-durable handsaws attached to the wrists on his suit. Before his transformation, he was more worried about looking good than committing crimes, not anymore. Drill, a white-haired man, had powerful electric drills attached to his wrists. Jackhammer thought him psychotic. Handsaw, Pick Axe, Triphammer, and Vice all had cybernetic implants. Their left hands transformed into their signature weapons with a simple thought.
"You did take on Captain America and some other Avengers, but you're omitting one important fact," a handsome man in a leather coat and blue pants, he had remained standing, told them.
"What do you know?" Jackhammer demanded and advanced on the man, his devices created a menacing hum.
"Well for starters," the man reached toward his back, under his heavy coat then stopped and looked up. Weird. Jackhammer roared and lunged at the man. Jackhammer was stunned to see his devices had been stopped by a personal-sized safe that had stood nearby on display. "I know you lost." As the two pushed against each other the handsome guy's jacket opened to reveal his red white and blue costume underneath.
"It's the Star-Spangled idiot!" Jackhammer shouted back at his muscular companions.
"How'd they know he was gonna be here?" Vice, a curly-haired blond man in sunglasses asked, shocked.
"Vice, shut up!" Jackhammer barked over his shoulder. Before they could speak any further Cap sprung into action. With a backward flip, he put some distance between himself and Jackhammer. Not wasting a second he flung the safe, it bounced off one of the stone pillars in the building and then collided right into the back of Vice's head. The criminal face-planted into the marble floor of the bank, unmoving. The safe fell next to him.
"Get him!" Jackhammer commanded, pointing at Cap but not moving. Buzzsaw, the only black member of the team, launched himself at Cap. Of all the Power Tools Buzzsaw had the most physical strength. If he were going up against an average powerless hero, he was a deadly combination of strength, speed, and lethal weaponry. Captain American was not your average powerless hero.
Cap grabbed a nearby chair and used it to bat aside a cutting swipe from Buzzsaw. Sawdust and chair legs flew around them. He leaned back to avoid the next blow, Buzzsaw lunged further forward. Cap slid to the floor with his foot extended, tripping Buzzsaw who went tumbling forward of his own momentum. He turned his buzzsaw back into a hand to avoid cutting himself in the fall. Handsaw, the only female of the group, was already upon the hero, using her cybernetic saw to slash at him. Thanks to her cybernetic abilities the saw was much sharper and heavier than a normal handsaw. Cap was careful to avoid them as he had once seen it take a Shield agent's arm off in one swipe.
Drill, the most sadistic member of their team, was shoving people to the floor, hard. One woman was crying as he shoved her face down into a quickly growing puddle of her own blood from her broken nose. Handsaw pursued Cap relentlessly She hit a large metal desk, sparks flew. Cap slowly maneuvered the fight, slowly turning until Handsaw had her back to the exit doors.
She reared back, ready for her strongest blow when Cap threw himself at her, feet extended, catapulting her out of the bank and she tumbled down the long cement steps. Cap threw what was left of the chair then charged at Drill without it.
"You ain't so tough without your shield!" Drill sneered as he rushed to meet Cap.
"How long are we supposed to keep him busy?" Triphammer, who had been taking a backseat in the fight, asked Jackhammer. He was the closest thing to an equal Triphammer had on the team. The man was smart, not as smart as Jackhammer, but smart enough to handle is money well and contribute to team plans. They both were watching the fight. They weren't sure how long they would have to keep this up.
"They said we'll know."
"I don't trust them."
"That's why we got our payment in advance," Jackhammer growled. "We've been wanting to take this guy down for how long now? We've finally caught him without his shield, this is probably the best shot we'll ever have. Let's just keep him busy as long as possible, and if they don't show then we take him down ourselves.
"Yeah," Triphammer said doubtfully as Drill, bloodied and bruised, fell after one too many collisions with the stone pillars.
Cap, engaging with Pick Axe now, cursed himself for leaving his shield at the mansion, but it was an obvious giveaway and he was hoping for some anonymity. Today's celebrity worshipping masses never failed to annoy him with constant requests for selfies and signatures while he was out just trying to run a few personal errands. He tried to be understanding but even the simplest of errands turned into an all-day public event. Most of the time it was Jarvis who did his shopping for him so he didn't have to deal with the teeming masses.
Now, what had been meant to be a quick bank run had turned into a brawl with supervillains. Still, even without his shield, he knew he could beat these seven psychos with relative ease. He just wanted to minimize civilian damage. He glanced around trying to find something to help him even the odds while Pick Axe made several wide swings, he avoided them easily. His eyes lit up when he saw two security guards lying unconscious on the marble floor. He tripped Pick Axe with a sweeping kick then dashed over to the two prone men and grabbed the batons from their belts.
"Now I'm scared," Jackhammer said sarcastically. His weapons hummed into action and he charged forward again. Cap dodged the first swing and retaliated by bringing one of his borrowed batons down on Jackhammer's wrist, hard. Sparks flew, the baton shattered, the device on his left hand was broken and sparking.
"Maybe you should be," Cap said. He brought down the other baton but Jackhammer stumbled back, barely avoiding the blow. Cap kicked backward, his foot slamming hard into Pick Axe's chest. The criminal stumbled backward.
"Where are they?" Triphammer asked again as he charged forward, putting himself between Jackhammer and Cap. Cap smirked, he had a feeling that their mysterious employers weren't going to show, at least not in time.
Avengers Mansion, Avengers Island
The mansion had been rebuilt many times but always in the exact image of the first mansion, the Stark Mansion. Below ground, however, there were many modern additions to the premises, such as the 'dangerous devices' storage rooms, The Combat Simulation Room, and the Avengers Assembly room. At the moment the basement and sub-levels were quiet. Tony was on his way to work, Cap had made a quick bank run, Thor had taken a leave of absence, "the Odinsleep is nearly upon us" he had declared, clarifying the situation for no one. That left at the mansion, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Hank Pym, Janet van Dyne, and the butler Jarvis gathered on the patio near the mansion gardens.
None of them saw the man that looked very much like Cap enter through the front gate, identity verified. If they had seen him they would have known something was wrong. The uniform he wore looked like Cap's but instead of the singular large white star on his chest, there were five smaller ones arranged in a pentagonal pattern. His face was rougher, not just because of the stubble he wore but more aged. An angry-looking scar ran from directly below the left eyehole of his mask down to the bottom of his chin, barely avoiding his mouth. Cap had no such scar.
The imposter Cap stalked purposefully toward the mansion's front entrance. It was quite obvious he knew his way around the mansion as he entered and made his way through the massive dwelling without hesitation or a second to pause. He made his way to the second floor where all of the Avengers that needed them had living quarters. After exiting the elevator he walked straight to the real Cap's apartment.
It opened without a struggle, the trusting Cap never locked his room, and the imposter entered and closed the door behind himself. He pulled a pistol that he kept strapped to his back, hidden by the circular shield strapped over it, and shot a single smoke alarm attached to the ceiling. The gun, a Lahti L35, had been in common use during World War Two but was surprisingly quiet, much more so than any silencer could have accounted for. He walked over to the small simple wooden desk Cap had in the room, on it the star-spangled hero kept his computer, a comb, an old pocket watch, and a picture from World War Two with Bucky at his side, grinning from ear to ear.
The imposter snatched up the small wooden frame and smashed it against the metal computer. The glass shattered and the imposter pulled the picture from what was left of the frame and stared at it for a second, his face expressionless. Then he took a lighter from his pocket and lit it on fire. He placed it, still burning, back on the desk and then grabbed the pocket watch. Inside was a small black and white picture from a photo booth of Cap and Peggy Carter snuggled together, obviously giddy with infatuation. The imposter took the picture and lit it ablaze as well. He then smashed the pocket watch against the computer.
"I know you've got more in here," the man muttered to himself, his voice identical to Steve Rogers' if perhaps a bit rougher. The man ripped up the blankets and pillows from the bed, tossing them onto the floor. Next, he proceeded to open Cap's chest of drawers and fling the clothes onto the floor with the blankets. He did find an old pocket knife that he slipped into a leather pouch on his belt. Muttering more to himself he turned to the small closet and opened the door.
"Eureka!" the man smiled widely, an unsettling sight. Inside the closet sat Cap's shield, there was also an old army duffle bag. The imposter grabbed the shield and strapped it to his arm. The duffle he tossed onto the bed and unzipped it. Inside were all sorts of old memorabilia from before the time Cap had been frozen in ice. A red beret, likely from Peggy Carter, stacks of old photos, Cap's old army greens, and various other precious memories were organized neatly in the bag. "Perfect."
The man took out his lighter again and lit the frayed old sepia-toned photographs in the duffle, watching satisfactorily as the fire slowly spread to the rest of the bag's contents. With a quick glance around he spotted a few framed pictures on the wall, just for fun, he smashed one as he walked out of the room, the duffle now surrounded in a three-foot-tall flame. He closed the door behind him, still carrying Cap's shield.
Out on the patio the four remaining Avengers; Hawkeye, Black Widow, Giant-Man, and Wasp, sat at a picnic table, eating delicious grilled food that Jarvis served them. Hawkeye talked with his mouth full, which wasn't that unusual for the archer.
"I think that Fury and Shield are getting way too comfortable sticking their noses into our business," Hawkeye grabbed another barbecued chicken leg before he had even finished swallowing his first one and began gnawing on it.
"The oversight is only going to get worse from here," Widow said in an almost bored tone, her accent, which hadn't been very strong, to begin with, had almost completely faded since moving to the United States as an Avenger. "It's the way the world is going, the quicker we can make peace with that the sooner we can get back to our jobs."
"Natasha is right," Janet van Dyne, the Wasp, said. "They've got body cams on all the police and there isn't a single intersection in this city that isn't completely covered in monitoring cameras."
"Maybe it's for the best, maybe it's time we hung up the costumes and let Shield protect the world." Giant-Man chimed in.
"Are you crazy?" Hawkeye said, his mouth full again. "Being a superhero is the best thing that's ever happened to me, there's no way I'm hanging up the mask!"
"What would I do?" Widow asked Pym pointedly. "Go back to being a spy? Some of us don't have the luxury of just quitting."
"Come on, Janet, you've got a whole fashion empire to run," Hank turned to his former fiance. "You must be feeling the weight of what we are doing here, surely your business has suffered since becoming the Wasp."
"Actually, being an Avenger has given my company more exposure than advertising ever could," Jan smiled. "Business has never been better. Why do you think I design a new costume for myself every year?"
"Does anyone know how long Thor is going to be gone for?" Hawkeye interrupted, changing the subject. "If it's too long we may need to start looking to recruit some new muscle. First Hulk left, now Thor."
"Giant-Man is our muscle now," Widow said sardonically with a crooked smile.
"You can forget about that . . ." Hank shook his head.
"Oh, Thor, sir, we weren't expecting you," Jarvis interrupted in surprise, looking behind the conversing Avengers into the garden. He had been cleaning up what little mess he had made while cooking. "I'll fix a plate for you."
"Thor? Speak of the devil." Hawkeye sounded surprised as well. He turned and looked at the massive man with long blonde hair that stood in the gardens behind him. He squinted his eyes. "That's not Thor!"
Everyone turned just in time to see a Thor imposter lift his hammer and unleash a massive lightning blast. They reacted as only Avengers could, quickly. Hank and Janet began to shrink, Hawkeye was already leaping into the air with his bow in hand. Widow dashed for Jarvis. They were all too late.
Massive jolts of electricity coursed through each of their bodies, seizing up their muscles and silencing their cries with a loud crack of thunder. They all fell heavily to the ground, smoke issuing from their bodies.
The Thor imposter smiled and hung his hammer back onto his belt. He also was different from the real Thor, several scars traced their way around his large bare arms. Tattoos also showed on his forearms and could be glimpsed on the top of his chest. He was also bigger, bulkier if that was even possible for the sinewy Asgardian. His armor was also made out of a darker metal than Thor's.
"Well done," the Cap imposter walked out onto the patio from the mansion. "Now, let's go get Stark and get the hell out of here."
Imposter Thor simply nodded, grabbed the imposter Cap, and flew away, using his hammer as lift. The mansion's fire alarm began to sound, but there wasn't anyone left standing to investigate. The Avengers and Jarvis remained motionless.
Stark Tower, Manhattan
As Tony Stark pulled up to work in his Audi R8 he saw a roadblock ahead and avoided it by driving down into the underground parking garage reserved for the Executives of Stark Enterprises. He caught a glimpse of the entrance and saw it was swarming with police and some emergency services. Worried, he rushed out of his car and to the elevator that went directly to the lobby. He'd regret it.
The elevator doors opened on a somber scene. The lobby had at least eight police officers milling about interviewing expensive-suited executives. A pair of paramedics were wheeling out a stretcher, whoever was on it was covered from head to toe in a white sheet. Someone had died. Tony's senses went on high alert, his mind racing. Had a supervillain attacked his Tower while he had been late? Had there been an accident, some experiment that had gone wrong? He headed toward the nearest police officer.
"Excuse me, does someone want to explain to me what's going on in my Tower?"
Anne was a secretary of one of his top executives. She had been flirtatious with him before, most were. That was why it was so bewildering when she looked up at him and terror welled up in her pretty brown eyes. Wordlessly she pointed her finger at him and screamed. Before Tony could even overcome his surprise two police officers and one of his own security guards tackled him to the floor.
"What the?" Tony blurted out as the officers wrestled his arms behind his back. "What is going on here?"
"Tony Stark you are under arrest for suspicion of multiple counts of murder!" one of the officers growled at him.
"What are you talking about?" Tony asked as they cuffed him and hauled him roughly to his feet.
"Why did he come back?" he heard one of his executives ask. There were lots of people whispering in alarming tones.
"As if you don't know," the other officer snapped. He jabbed Tony in the back with some knuckles, propelling him forward.
"You've got to be making a mistake!" Tony shouted, for once he didn't know what to say. What the hell was happening? Every face he saw was looking at him with horror in their eyes. Or hatred, a few looked at him like he had killed their best friend. He had worked with these people all his life. Where was Happy while he was being arrested? Where was Pepper? Adrenaline was rushing through his veins now. "Who was murdered?"
"Let's go. You have the right to remain silent and I suggest that you do so," the larger police officer shoved him forward while the other began barking into his radio. Tony could barely hear his Miranda rights being recited. Blood was rushing in his ears.
"The suspect returned to the scene of the crime, we have him in custody. I repeat we have Tony Stark in custody."
Before Tony could formulate a coherent thought they were already stuffing him into the back of a police car, none too gently.
"There's got to be some kind of mistake, I've been asleep all morning." The two cops didn't even acknowledge that they had heard him. They slammed his door shut. They were joined by five more police cars, all had sirens blaring. How was Tony going to get out of this one? What happened? He had a sinking feeling he was going to find out soon.
Avengers Mansion, Avengers Island
Captain America smiled as he rumbled toward the mansion on his custom-built Harley Davidson. He had taken down all seven members of the Power Tools before police could arrive on the scene and he had done it without his shield. His smile faded as he turned a corner and the mansion came into view. It was swarming with emergency service workers, the gate wide open while cops kept a crowd of noisy onlookers at bay. He gunned his motor loudly, the crowd saw him and instantly began to part for him, looks of concern on their faces. His gut clenched, something was definitely wrong. As usual, he headed straight toward the center of the trouble. The police waved him to pass as they made a path for him. He saw a pair of ambulances out near the patio and drove his motorcycle over the lawn and directly there.
"There he is!" a policewoman noticed him and waved him over to the back of an ambulance. "Over here, Cap, quickly."
He hopped off his motorcycle and didn't even bother to lean it over, just let it drop. What had happened to his friends? He ran to the ambulance and discovered Black Widow on a stretcher, her face burned and some of her hair singed off. She motioned for him to come to her side. A paramedic jumped out of the vehicle to give him room to get to her side.
"Steve," her voice was rough, it obviously hurt to talk. "It looked like Thor, but it wasn't. Maybe Skrulls . . . can't trust your senses."
"Nat, what do you mean? Who looked like Thor?"
"I'm sorry I need to get her to the hospital," the paramedic touched Cap on the forearm. "Good thing her suit was insulated, the others were in worse shape."
"Others?" Cap questioned as he got out of the ambulance. The policewoman that had initially waved him over summoned him again. Cap gave another glance toward Widow as they closed the back doors of the vehicle.
"What happened here?" Cap asked as he advanced toward the cop.
"We're still trying to determine that. If it hadn't been for the fire there's no telling how long the victims might have laid here dying."
"That's what brought us here, there was a fire on the second floor of the mansion that set the fire alarm off. It was sheer luck that one of the firemen found your friends lying on the ground, burned by what seems to be lightning."
"Have you contacted Tony Stark? This is his mansion."
"Your friend has his own problems to deal with right now, you and I are going to need to work together to figure this whole mess out."
"Was he here, was he one of the Avengers that got burned?"
"He wasn't here, we've identified four Avengers, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Wasp, and Giant-Man. There was also a man in a very formal tuxedo."
"Jarvis?" Cap grabbed the policewoman by the shoulders in shock. "Was it Jarvis?"
"He hasn't been identified yet."
"It had to be," Cap whispered, staring around at the blackened cement and brick patio, scorch marks showed where they had been hit.
"The question is who did this. Do you have any ideas?"
"Someone who wasn't Thor," Cap muttered to himself.
"Nothing," Cap said dismissively. "Let's go check the security feeds."
Central Park, Manhattan
Central Park was busy with joggers, walkers, and vendors hawking their wares. The sight of superheroes was common enough in New York by now that few took more than a passing interest when they were spotted. That is why when Thor and Cap came walking down a path and met with Tony Stark a few people watched casually but no one bothered them. The three heroes were smiling and laughing. Then Thor raised his hammer over his head and all three of them vanished in a flash of rainbow light.
The three imposters reappeared on the White House lawn, but this White House was different. Its columns were painted blood red and its beautiful white dome was now a cobalt blue. Its lawn was covered in dozens of blue-uniformed soldiers with the same pentagonal five stars design as the imposter Cap. They were finally back in their own world.
"I am declaring the mission a success," the imposter Cap said, pulling off his mask and revealing his hair was just beginning to gray and another scar that slashed up his forehead and creating a rift in his hair on his scalp. Other than these things he was the spitting image of Captain America.
"Was there ever any doubt, General?" the imposter Thor grunted.
"Never, Thunder God," the imposter Tony said.
"Do you need me to take you back to your tower in Manhattan, Iron Emperor?" Thunder God asked.
"No, I'm going to fly there, I always enjoy a good flight after a multiple murder," the evil alternate Tony smiled. It was true, the first time he had done it to clear his head, now it was to give himself time to savor what he had done. With that, he tapped his chest where the arc reactor that replaced his heart stored the nanotechnology that formed his Iron Emperor suit. It looked like gray goo as the nanites spread all over his body, but once it solidified it was the same gold and red that Iron Man is known for though his suit had some black accents. "See you for the sequel." He rocketed off in the sky.
Thunder God once again called upon the rainbow bridge to take him home and disappeared in a flash of brilliant colors. General America turned and headed home.
Inside the White House, known in this world as the Great American House, was completely different from our world. The few paintings that were up were of General America and Iron Emperor. Instead of secret service, the walls were lined with soldiers in the same blue uniform as those that were outside. He passed right through the entry without acknowledging a soul and advanced into what should have been the East Room. It still had a gleaming wooden floor, long luxurious golden curtains covering the windows, and more space than most rooms in the House. Instead of a grand piano and open space, it was filled with row after row of lit glass displays. Inside the displays were almost one hundred star-spangled shields paired with a colorful and usually torn cowl. General America took the shield on his arm, the one he had taken from Cap's closet, and placed it proudly in one of the few empty displays. Then he stood back and admired his collection.
"Don't worry, I'll get you a roommate soon," General America smiled.
Stark Tower, Manhattan, Earth ?
Stark Tower gleamed golden, now the tallest tower in all of Manhattan, no one was allowed to build one taller. It was a magnificent achievement of technology, with several hangars located on the outside walls near the top, to be used only by the Iron Emperor and his personal pilot. The walls of the hangars were lined with old versions of Iron Emperor suits before he had perfected nanotechnology. It was into this hangar that Tony Stark landed only moments after General America had hung up his latest trophy.
"Janet, little minx, how's the girlfriend of the most powerful man on Earth?" he said into an earpiece as the suit retracted into his arc reactor. He walked through a door located deep in the hangar and into his large personal office. He smiled and immediately removed his suit jacket, tossing it carelessly aside. A panic-faced young woman dashed to catch it before it hit the floor. Her long heels made her stumble and she fell awkwardly but desperately kept the jacket held high. It never touched the floor. Stark watched her in amusement.
"You're a lucky girl," he said simply and then walked on. The girl breathed a sigh of relief and scrambled back to her feet. She ran after him.
"No Ms. van Dyne, I wasn't talking to you, but you are. Who? Oh, the clumsy little girl I have for a secretary. Anywho I gotta go, catch you later my lucky girl." Tony rolled his eyes and removed the earpiece. He removed his tie and tossed it, the girl was there to catch it in plenty of time. He unbuttoned his top button and turned back to the girl who was hanging his jacket and tie up in a nearby closet.
"Hey, Pop Tart, I thought you and your friend were supposed to be my entertainment this evening," Tony folded his arms.
"We are!" the girl reassured with a blush.
"Well then where is she?"
"She's just freshening up," the girl glanced nervously toward the bathroom.
"Then why aren't you in something sexier?" his voice was low and menacing.
"Yes, sir!" the girl jumped and began to quickly strip off her dress clothes.
"Jesus Christ, slow it down, speedy!" Tony barked. "Let me enjoy it a little."
"Yes, sir," the girl repeated more demurely. She slowly slid her shoulder out of her light suit jacket. Just then the door banged open, girl slid her jacket back on quickly.
"There's something wrong with the interdimensional map," Hank Pym blurted as he came striding into the office. "Oh." A look of fear slowly began to take over his face.
"This had better be important," Tony barked, his eyes going cold. "Come on, girl, I didn't tell you to stop."
"It it it is," Pym stammered.
"Can it wait?"
"Um, uh as long as you want."
"Then GET OUT!" Tony screamed in rage. He snatched a vase off his nearby desk and threw it violently at his scientist. Pym scrambled desperately to get out of the office. The vase collided with his back and stumbled and fell outside the office door. It closed behind him. "Now where were we?" The girl trembled.
Asgard, Universe ?
Thunder always announced his return. There was a loud BOOM and lightning fingered across the Asgardian sky. The rainbow bridge had called him home. Armored guards rushed to be at their posts, peasants fled to their homes, out of sight and mind. Inside the great golden palace, the courtesans jumped. Thor, the Thunder God, has returned.
Within seconds he landed on a great gold and marble patio, shattering the short stone walls around it with the boom of his arrival. A few Asgardians smiled at his return. "Hail Thor, God of Thunder, all-father to all Asgardians!" they shouted in unison. The thunder god simply strode off the balcony and into a wide tapestried hallway. He descended a massive marble and stone stairway straight into the throne room. His throne room.
"Those ignorant mortals think I'm doing this for them, " he told a servant who began removing his cape. They simply nodded eagerly at him. "They have no idea how much I'm benefiting from taking down the other Thors."
Black marble and gold adorned his favorite of places, a massive throne of gold and steel awaited him, he smiled. Next to his throne was a beautiful blonde woman chained to the wall in a bikini of green and gold, her enchanted golden chains glinted as she flinched upon his arrival. She smiled weakly to try and cover for it.
"Ah, Amora, you are a sight to behold after the drab mortal women I have been subjected to, " the Thunder God smirked. Upon the wall hung the spear of Odin, and next to it Loki's golden helmet. He grabbed an ax also hanging on the wall, the former weapon of the Executioner, finding it lacking; he tossed it aside and grabbed Odin's spear from its mount upon the wall.
"Yet another universe shall fall to the Masters of Vengeance! I will be the god of yet another universe, " he said with a smile. He sat upon his throne, his legs spread wide and large, a smirk formed on his face. "Soon, I will be more powerful than any other god in all the multiverse!"
Next in Avengers #2 Magic and Science: Cap calls Thor back to Earth and those left active in the Avengers are determined to find out who attacked the mansion, but they'll need help from the Fantastic Four and Doctor Strange! Iron Man is imprisoned in the Vault.