AN-1: I dont own HP or Marvel in any way or form.
AN-2: I have a P*T*R*N, where you can read the NEXT THREE CHAPTERS right by the link on my profile
AN-3: A very big thanks to LordLexx, GladiusX and Hades for being such awesome editors.
"Stupid humans," Erik muttered as he deflected yet another missile away from him right into the armored suits below him, "How much idiocy does one need to send metal after me despite the last half an hour?"
"A lot less than you are thinking of," an amused voice whispered from right above his shoulder, and Magneto almost stumbled in shock as he whirled around, finding nothing but empty air from where the man had spoken. "Though, for a General, this Ross is terribly unimaginative."
Erik growled, as he felt nothing but empty air around him, but despite what his powers might be telling him…he had learned to trust his instincts. The next moment, he let his powers explode out in a manner similar to a shockwave grenade, everything in a twenty meter radius getting pushed away from him.
"Was I that irritable?" The infuriatingly amused man once again spoke, but this time, Erik actually felt his presence come closer to him. Looking in front of him, he tensed up as the newest superhuman in the block so to speak, came into view. Ravager was much more approachable in person, he noted as the man floated over to him. The armor, made from some sort of hide fit his body like a glove, and while he wasn't muscular like the strength-based mutants or the God of Thunder was…Erik knew that Ravager possessed super strength.
"Why are you here?" He asked, fully anticipating a fight, especially after he knew that Ravager had been living in Charles' mansion ever since his first appearance. "Charles sent you to stop me? I am surprised Logan didn't come to get used as a pinball."
"I came on my own," came the answer as the Ravager's face finally came into view, his emerald eyes shining brightly from within as the man raised his hand, and stopped the bullets coming for their heads. "I always hated snipers."
'He is fast, and talks like he is experienced with fighting a military force,' he noted, watching out of the corner of his eyes as the bullets disintegrated into ash…just an inch out of his own shield, 'Given how he tore through the Chitauri and survived a kick from Juggernaut, I am almost inclined to believe the latter. Enhanced strength, telekinesis, and a host of other powers, each one deadlier than the last, with obvious training in martial arts. If it weren't for the fact that I know manipulating the X-gene is difficult, I would have thought him to be an experimental weapon grown in a test tube.'
"That still doesn't answer my first question," he said, stopping the railgun slug coming for Ravager's head and sending it back to its source, noting the sudden drop in attacks that had been coming at him. "Are you here to stop me?"
"I am," the black-haired man nodded, still wearing that small smile on his face. "However, don't confuse my actions with a love for these drones below us. It is simply because your actions will cause the deaths of even more mutants, and that is something I wish to avoid."
"I did not attack first today Ravager," he frowned, his hands tightening into fists as he glared out at the burning wreckage of helicopters and vehicles alike. "A message needs to be sent to the governments in the whole world. That mutants are not some animals you can hunt down for sport and sadism…we are the future of humanity. Besides, Ross has been a thorn in my people's side for a long time. I have not forgotten how dozens of mutants died in the experiments he put them through in the name of military advancement. You are a mutant too Ravager…does this not make you angry, that your own people, children, are being caged and slaughtered like cat-what the hell?"
He stopped midway as a canister suddenly winked into existence in front of him, its size barely more than a tiffin box. He reached out to grasp it instantly, however, much to his surprise…his powers simply washed off the thing. Before he could even think about doing anything else to the polymer construct, both of its ends exploding out with a quiet hiss and a white gas came out of it, and his world darkened into blackness.
"You think this will work, General? Respectfully speaking, today's operation has been a total loss in terms of manpower and equipment both. We have lost sixteen of the twenty choppers we had, almost a quarter of our men are dead, and we are down to only three railguns."
"The President wants Magneto captured, Lieutenant Casy," the man in front of him answered, his arms crossed behind his back as they both stared at the screen on the wall, "the lives and the billions of dollars worth of damage today will only save us from losing a hundred times that amount in the future. Magneto is a danger to society, and the sooner we neutralize him, the better. Especially since he seems to have a slower aging rate than the rest of us normal humans."
"And Ravager? Are we equipped to deal with him should he attack us?"
"We will see Lieutenant," Ross said, watching as Magneto instantly began to fall. That gas was something the research department had been working on for some time. From the autopsies they had done on several mutants, it had been revealed that barring some exceptions, all of them had the same limitation as the rest of humanity. "That gas reacts instantly with the surrounding air, and even a single breath of it is enough to convert all the oxygen in your lungs into carbon monoxide. With less than 6 percent Oxygen, the brain stops functioning, and his breathing stops instantly, along with an instant cardiac arrest."
"It is working on Ravager too," Casy remarked with shock, as they watched the winged man also begin to fall from the sky just a moment later. "I wonder if this will work on Banner."
"We would have known, but Rogers was smart enough to keep that animal away today," he said, pressing a button on the table. "Capture them both and secure them with the power-dampening cuffs, I don't want any mistakes. Also, shoot the Avengers if they try to stop you, this is an official operation after all."
"Sir!" Casy suddenly shouted, and Ross looked at the much younger man, the Lieutenant's face shocked and pale as he stared at the screen. "The red-haired telekinetic is there too, and I just saw Johnny Storm fly right by the camera!"
"That is not good," Reed muttered as he read the scan results of the gas on his wrist, "Ross has really sunk to new levels. Ravager and Magneto both are suffering from a sudden loss of oxygen, they need immediate medical attention!"
"Johnny, catch them," Susan spoke as she leaned down to look through the data, "and bring them back to the ship before you go back to the rescue."
"Damn, Ross really went all Hitler with that gassing," Ben's voice echoed in their comms as he carried a bus full of children and teachers away from the area. "But how did they get their hands on teleportation tech? I mean, not calling everyone else a dullard but only Stretch has ever been able to make that shit work. You think he stole it from Baxter Building?"
"Possible, with how many times someone or the other has broken into it," Susan mumbled, creating looking as yet another building tilted and began to fall, its foundations destroyed by hell that New York had turned into in the last thirty minutes, "What is the President thinking, allowing Ross free reign into a city for fucks sake!"
"We can't do anything about it, sis," Johnny said as he came over to them, fire disappearing away to reveal the blue skinsuit as he dropped Magneto down. "Phoenix has got her boyfriend, though I don't think he needs any attention."
"What? Johnny, he is probably having a heart attack righ-Oh my God!"
"What?!" Reed asked, his wife's horrified tone making him blink before he turned his eyes to where she was looking at, his own pupils growing wide as he witnessed dark, stormy clouds roll over the city from nowhere, "Jesus Christ…is that Ravager?"
"Somehow, he started moving seconds after Phoenix caught him in her grip," Johnny said, watching the thunder rumble through the skies as heavy winds started to blow, "and by the time I caught Magneto and started to fly back, he was already sparking with electricity."
"Maybe his mutation has changed his physiology enough for him to not suffer the effects of sudden oxygen deprivation?" Susan muttered, creating a forcefield around them to block the wings and lightning started to get louder and brighter, "We need to stop him Reed. If he starts to kill the army, the world will have another Magneto to hate, and another reason to kill mutants."
"Only Johnny can fly that high," he answered, producing a mask from his belt and placing it on Magneto's face, "and in this storm, even our ship won't make it. We have to trust the Phoenix to stop him, and besides, it may be entirely possible that Ravager isn't even going to attack the army. It could just be an effect of a sudden, instinctive power surge his body developed to combat that gas and its effects."
"Mr. Richards," the voice of Captain America reached them as the living legend was dropped beside them by Tony Stark, both men touching down on the roof and nodding at the other superheroes. "What did Ross do with that thing? We all saw how Magneto and Ravager suddenly went down."
"That cunning, stupid man," Stark muttered, his face plate sliding open to reveal his slightly bruise and bloodied face as he kneeled down by Magneto, "He made a gas to remove oxygen from their surroundings and their lungs, and subsequently give them heart attacks right then and there."
All of them winced as the sound of knuckles popping echoed in the silent area, the Captain's fists tightening as he glared at the still form of Magneto. As one who had served in the Allied Powers and witnessed the cruelty of the concentration camps, it made Steve angrier than he had ever been to see the same thing being used by his own nation. He had known about Ross' obsession with creating a super soldier, one of the results of said obsession sat with him every night in the Avengers Tower…but this was madness.
Madness like the one he had seen in Red Skull.
"Fury," he snarled into the earpiece, making everyone else on the roof shift uneasily at the venom in his voice, "Connect me with the President."
'Harry you have to calm down!' Jean screamed against his mind as she lifted yet another piece of rubble, grabbing onto the few alive humans inside the destroyed room and floating them out of the wreckage. 'You are not going to help matters any by attacking the army! Just calm down and take Magneto away from here!'
'I am not attacking the army, Jean…or at least not today,' he said back, the storm slowly dying down as thunder and lightning dimmed down with each passing moment. 'As much as I hate Ross and what he has done over the years, I can't thank him enough for that sudden attack. He truly has no idea what he has done with that heart attack he tried to give me…now I just need to find where that bastard is holed up.'
'Relax Jean,' he said softly as the winds stopped blowing harshly, and the clouds moved away to reveal the moon once again, his winged form silhouetted against it. 'No one is going to die tonight. As I said, I just want to thank him. Also, head back to the mansion as soon as possible, Magneto is no longer a problem, and the rescue can be handled by the other people here. With me and Magneto not in the air anymore, you are the only unknown, and Ross may try to take you in as well.'
Cutting the connection between them off, Harry looked down at his hands. Clenching his fists, he felt the power his hands now held in them, easily double what it had been a minute ago…and that was just on the physical side of the things. On the metaphysical side…his connection to that primordial power, the divinity he had lost in his struggle against Cyttorak was restored completely. Over the weeks following that fight, he had made progress with reaching out to the power the Greek Trinity had left behind in the swords, but with the speed he had been going? It would have taken him another year at the best to even repair that connection halfway. Daily practice with what he had already been able to absorb had made his body more receptive to the divine energy, enabling him to take infinitesimally small portions of that power every day. However, what Ross had done today had been nothing short of magic…nah, magic was too short of praise.
It was a bloody fucking miracle.
Right at the moment when the canister had appeared, he had been about ready to bring down the largest fucking thunderbolt he had ever produced. The small fraction of divinity he was able to bring to bear, along with his whole magical power had been pushed to its maximum…when he had suddenly breathed in that gas. For a human, or even for a mutant whose body had not undergone many mutations, that gas was a straightaway ticket to unconsciousness.
But his animagus forms had transformed his whole body in certain ways, and one of them was the lower oxygen requirement for his brain and body to function—after all, a Thunderbird couldn't be expected to fall unconscious every time it flew above the clouds now could it? But even with his changed physiology, that had only slowed the symptoms for a moment, because after a single breath of that gas, his lungs had positively burned with fire.
He had felt his eyes go blank immediately as his brain was deprived of oxygen, and he had felt the beginnings of a cardiac arrest when Jean had caught him. However, in that moment, his magic and the latent divinity had both reacted to the mortal peril he was in. Evidently, the power of gods was as alive as magic inside a wizard, and in an act of what could only be called 'accidental divinity'...the connection between his soul and the godly power was melded back together completely.
Grinning sharply, Harry flared out his wings fully behind him as he felt power surge through every fiber of his being, and shot down towards the military men. Pulling his wings back into his body, he once again exerted his control over the air to propel himself down faster. Clearing hundreds of feet of distance in seconds, he slowed down to a stop right above what looked to be the medical station. Almost a dozen soldiers were lying on stretchers with bandages in various parts of their bodies, and behind them, covered with sheets or even left open were the bodies of the soldiers Magneto had already dealt with.
'Maybe this is what the Witch Hunts of the Medieval ages were like' he mused, calling upon the cloak and touching down on the road, slowly moving through the area to find the officer in charge. 'Where the wizards were disjointed, spread over the community, and only a few people were able to hone the magic for the purpose of combat. It took centuries of hiding, studying and preparing every child with basic spells that we were able to trump the muggles…and here, the mutants have just taken the first step.'
Moving a finger along the ventilator and life support system, he imperiused the officer in front of him, the fact that he was directing the soldiers behind him marking him as the CO. Ignoring how the machines sparked due to the sudden release of magic, he made the man move towards where they had brought the dead bodies of the soldiers, idly making note of the lack of civilians in the stretchers.
'Think of the location General Thaddeus Ross is currently at,' he commanded the man, creating a notice-me-not ward around them as he felt the officer's mind bring up the image of an army base. 'Thank you, good Sir. Now you will forget this conversation ever happening in your mind, and by the way, sabotage the armory and equipment of this unit after a week.'
Apparating silently, Harry appeared above the exact location he had seen in the man's mind, and looked down at the several tanks, heavy artillery, a dozen transport, and several jets. Clearly, Ross had the manpower and firepower to come after the Hulk and Magneto continuously—even the largest military installations in his world had nothing on the size of what was below him! Looking at the various soldiers stationed around every door and vehicle and hangar, he used the Point Me to find the General, and as the building on the far end of the base lit up with red, Harry smiled.
Apparating above the building, he phased down through the roof, turning his body intangible much like the ghosts in his old world were capable of. Passing through the walls, he looked around at the soldiers milling about the place, all of them talking about the losses they had suffered today. Scoffing at the hushed whispers, he passed through another two floors before he came inside the office of General Thaddeus Ross. The man in question was standing by the window, looking out of it at the storm in the distance with his arms crossed behind his back. On the desk, he could see the recently lit cigar, as well as the used glasses of alcohol in front of each chair. Looking around himself, he created the regular wards around the office—one to prevent anyone's interest, one to silence the sounds from inside, and one to freeze the camera feed.
Sitting down on the chair silently, he crossed his right leg over his left and removed the cloak's magic, snapping his fingers as he did so. Ross whirled around instantly, his pistol drawn and aimed at his head within an eyeblink as the sound of a gunshot echoed around them.
In the next few seconds, Ross unloaded every bullet inside the magazine of his pistol, his aim not moving even a single millimeter from the center of Harry's head…however, not even a single bullet touched his skin. Harry smirked amusedly as he looked past the line of floating bullets at the emotionless, but sweating face of Thaddeus Ross.
"Why are you here, Ravager?" He asked, the pistol not moving in the slightest as his eyes flicked over to the door, "and what have you done to my men?"
"Not killed them, for starters," he answered back easily, making the bullets float back to lie down on the table side by side, "and as for why I am here…well you are a smart man General Ross. Take a guess."
"The gas attack that happened while you were talking with Magneto."
"Oh, no. No," he waved his hand, a cup of tea appearing in his hands as another one appeared in front of Ross. "I am not here about that heart attack you tried to give me. To be honest, I am here to thank you for that. Because of that sudden stress you put on my body and mind, well, a major ailment of mine got cured and it's all thanks to your rather smart plan of taking Erik Leinshher out."
"Is that all?" Came the question as Ross sat down in his chair, picking up the still lit cigar from the table and placing it in his mouth, "If you are done, I'd request you to kneel down with your hands behind your head. Don't even attempt to teleport out, the anti-teleportation technology is straight from Reed Richards himself. Within five seconds thirty guns will be pointed at you from every angle, so I'd suggest you don't move a muscle. You might be able to stop a pistol, but can you stop 120 bullets in one second, each of them strong enough to break through concrete and steel?"
"And you just had to threaten me while I was in a good mood," Harry sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose, his hand transforming into a taloned, bony appendage with black cracks running through it instead of veins, "Hmm, though considering the size of balls on you, I am not surprised. Experimenting on captured terrorists, hunting a monster you created, and another monster you did not…all in a bid to create the perfect super soldier. But you know what Ross? You may have looked the Hulk in its eye while it bared its teeth at you, and you succeeded tonight in bringing the Magneto down…but I am way different than any monster you have seen in all your decorated years of service."
As if waiting for his words, various tiles and panels in the walls and ceiling slid away to reveal the barrels of the guns Ross had talked about, all of them unloading their magazines the very next instant as the deafening sound of gunfire echoed in the room. However, unlike the last time, Harry simply vanished them all together, stopping the barrage as well as the triumphant smile on Ross' face right then and there.
"You were saying something, General?" He asked, raising an eyebrow as he finally stood up, and Ross watched silently as the spot where he had placed his transformed hand simply withered away, "Now that your threats and declarations are over, shall we get to the good part?"
"SIR!" Hill shouted loudly as she barged into his office, "Atlantic News!"
Pressing a spot on the table, Fury watched Hill move to his right, her face pale and sweating as she watched the projection form in front of them. Commercials greeted him first, and Fury looked at Hill through the reflection on his desk. He had never seen his second in command so unsettled and…terrified for the lack of a better word. Not when Loki had destroyed their underground facility and turned their agents. Not when Coulson had been killed by the same guy, and not when the literal armada of aliens had started to pour down from the skies.
"In a series of events that have shaken the whole world today, we have recently received new information in the form of a video," the anchor began, looking as grim and pale as Hill, his eyes lowered down to something on the table. "This was sent to us straight from the San Francisco Army Base, from the office of General Thaddeus Ross himself. For the viewers who don't know it, it is the same man who ran the operation that destroyed a quarter of New York City tonight, resulting in billions in damage and an unknown number of casualties and injuries. But before we get to what gross negligence and deplorable lack of conscience regarding civil safety the General has shown, I think you should watch this video first."
"If you fear this video this much, then why not have it deleted?" Fury muttered, staring as the screen went black for a few moments before the face of Ross came back on it, "Your contact should have destroyed that video after sending a copy of it to us."
"It is already aired once sir, straight into every channel in the world," she answered, "Ross used his satellites to forcibly take control of every major news agency and broadcast his words worldwide. This is just a recording they are showing for those who came in late."
"I am General Thaddeus Ross," Ross' voice echoed around them, cutting him off as he continued, "For those who don't know me…I am the man who cleans the world when science and men both shit in it. For decades I have served the United States of America, earning medals after medals…but today, after seeing what my orders did to New York City and its people…I wish to confess a few things."
"I am the overseer, the commander of the Super Soldier Program. It is a program run under my jurisdiction to create an army of humans with enhanced strength, speed, stamina, and intelligence. Since the year 2002, I have been capturing terrorists instead of eliminating them in operations, and using them as test subjects for this top-secret operation. More than a thousand human trials have happened under my eye, and each and every one of them was a failure. I have witnessed hundreds die, strapped to a table with chemicals pumping into them and their blood bursting out of their orifices."
"In 2007, I recruited several scientists to work on an experimental serum we had been developing, one based upon the work that was done upon Steve Rogers aka Captain America. One of these men, a certain Bruce Banner suffered an accident in the lab, and he was subsequently transformed into the being the world knows as the Hulk. However, what no one knows is that the accident was planned by me, and in the years that followed the incident, I have hunted Banner across the globe relentlessly. USA, Mexico, Europe, Malaysia, and Australia. Every time I would get a hint of his presence in a populated, civilian area, I would order an attack on him. Due to the heavy losses my unit would suffer each time, as well as the fact that we were protecting civilians from a rageful beast, my budget went up each year along with the soldiers in my unit."
"At the same time, I also began the efforts to capture mutants because of the usefulness of their powers. I had succeeded in capturing a dozen, each with a power that was better than the last. Pyrokinesis, Hydrokinesis, teleportation, enhanced brain…but then Magneto found us. He destroyed half of my equipment in a single clench of his fist, and the next moment he was taking away all those mutants I had imprisoned in my cells," Ross stopped for the first time, taking a deep breath as he looked at something to his left. "Five minutes and two hundred deaths later, I shifted my attention to Magneto with the sole purpose of extracting the secrets of his power. Even if we would have been able to use one percent of his capabilities, it would have been enough to make the US military the most powerful on the planet for eternity. The EU, Russia, China or Japan climbing up on the ladder would have been left so far behind it would not even be a competition anymore."
"Today too, the same happened. I ordered the attack on Magneto despite his evidently non-violent exit from the city. I used everything at my disposal, from railguns to tanks, to heavy artillery and choppers, right in the middle of New York City with no care for the civilians. When the Avengers came down to help the people evacuate, I ordered a shoot on sight on them for interrupting an army operation sanctioned by the President himself. Despite the fact that he was perfectly capable of redirecting the attacks away from him and hundreds of my soldiers were sure to die, I didn't stop the operation. For I finally had the means of taking him out. I ordered constant attacks on him for over thirty minutes to lull him into a state of safety, but then Ravager appeared on the scene. I was…delighted that another Super Mutant had fallen into my hands just like that, and therefore I sprung the trap that had been set for Magneto."
"My scientists prepared a gas, which on breathing would turn all the oxygen in your lungs to carbon monoxide within an instant, and then react with the surrounding air to remove the oxygen from there too. In such an absence of oxygen, the brain suffers a shock and shutdown momentarily, causing a host of problems that result in a heart attack. But, Ravager survived it and disappeared from the scene, and Magneto was rescued by the Fantastic Four, leaving behind only my destroyed corps and battle-torn NYC."
"Today, I realized that what I had been doing was not to improve our soldiers…it was solely because of my ambition. I could have left Bruce Banner alone every time I found him, but I didn't and caused the deaths of thousands of civilians and soldiers alike. Therefore, in the light of all the inhumane crimes I have committed by experimenting on humans, being directly responsible for thousands of my men's deaths, and causing trillions worth of destruction…I, General Thaddeus Ross, have decided to charge myself with treachery, sabotage, gross negligence of command and corruption," at the final word, dozens of red spots lit up Ross' face and chest, and Fury closed his eyes as he saw what was about to happen. "Goodbye."