"Bro. I want your power. We're in space. Outer space! Dude… we're astronauts," Ned had his forehead pressed against the glass window of my Fortress of DOOM. Capital letters, because why wouldn't they be?
I usually preferred to stay on the streets because it kept me on my toes in case a future me tried to take me out, but I think I was going to make an exception in this case. It was a fortress in outer space. It was totally awesome.
"I want your power. I want your power so bad," Peter agreed, right next to Ned. With each breath that they took, they fogged the window up as they gazed down at Earth. "This is incredible. I want to tell people so bad… but I don't think that anyone at school would actually believe me."
I smirked at their reactions - it was everything that I thought it would be. Both of them had their doubts when I claimed to have a secret base in outer space. Then their eyes about popped out of their heads when they saw a portal open up in the mancave. Now that they were here? They were absolutely geeking out over it. I didn't even mind that I was forced to drag a desk through the portal while silently hoping that it didn't have a time limit.
"I haven't finished exploring it yet," I said, barely getting their attention. They had to physically tear themselves from the window. "There are a bunch of rooms that require some kind of weird thingamajig to get through them." I was hoping that Peter could circumvent that. Why a door needed a key the size of a gas barrel, I had absolutely no idea. The doors weren't big enough to imply that giants built this place.
Though, the statues and the inscriptions on the doors themselves seemed to imply that devil worshipers had made this place.
That certainly was an ironic twist of fate…
"Oh. My. God. Dude… aliens. We could find aliens here?" Ned breathed, practically vibrating at the prospect. "We could find aliens? Oh- dude! We're on an alien spaceship!" If I hadn't seen it, anyone would have forgiven me for mistaking the squeal that escaped both Ned and Peter as having come from a pair of overexcited preteen girls. "We have an alien spaceship as a secret base! In space!"
"I love my life," Peter decided. "I have the best life. Everything is just so awesome all the time and it just keeps getting better. It's great!" He practically radiated pure joy from every pore.
"Yeah? Then do me a favor and help me get this desk up the stairs," I said, the portal closing after the desk was through. So it didn't have a cut off feature. Kind of lame, but whatever. Both Peter and Ned quickly scampered over, helping me lift the desk up the ornate stairs. We were sort of retiring the mancave. We were bringing over everything - the 3D printers, materials, and yada yada. The Cave of Wonders had been moved up to the Fortress of DOOM too.
The reason the mancave was only semi-retired was because we still needed an easily concealable drop off point where we could appear in New York. Plus, it actually helped that Tony knew about the mancave, but he didn't know about the Fortress of DOOM, so we had a way to throw him off our trail.
I had upheld my end of the bargain and he chose to take the Tesseract over the Scepter. He got to run his experiments on it for a month, as we had agreed. After that, he would have to give it back unless he earned another favor. Though, I'm not sure if I would need another favor from him. Peter had already been smart before, but after a dose of the Divine Water, he was something else entirely.
"Guys," Peter grunted as we pushed the desk in place within the command room. One of the two rooms that I had access to at the moment. "Why… why didn't we put all the stuff in the Cave of Wonders first, then open it up? We wouldn't have had to carry everything up the stairs," he pointed out, making me and Ned glance at each other.
Like I said. Smart. Just not smart enough to figure that out until after we broke our backs carrying everything up. A far off future me was going to hate me for the things I did to my spine today.
"Because we're all smart, but also very dumb," I decided. Fuck. We should have thought about that. Eh, whatever. Unless I wanted to wind back the clock? Hm..., fuck it. A fucked spine would be future me's problem. "Let's get everything hooked up, then we can get Dr. Hall up here."
"Sounds good to me. But, erm," Peter began, raising his hand awkwardly before scratching at the back of his neck when he realized that he was being awkward, "Your ATs. I know we talked about figuring out how to mass produce them, but we never actually… talked about it?" He began, and I realized that was true. He took a look at them to figure out how they worked, but that was about it. "Now that we actually have the resources, I'd like to take another crack at reverse engineering them. If that's okay with you? Because the Gravitonium… that stuff is really powerful, and it'd be way harder to rebuild them if they break. Or fine tune them to take advantage of the gravity manipulation effects."
"Sure, makes sense to me. How long would that take? Got a hot date in a couple of days," I reminded, making Peter's face pinch.
He offered a small shrug, "That should be fine? Probably," he added, sounding less than certain. "I'm pretty sure I could do it?"
"If you're sure, then I'll believe you," I told him and he seemed a little surprised by the faith. Not sure why. It wasn't like he had let me down before.
"I think I already have an idea for the chemical composition of the batteries, which is all I really needed," Peter continued to explain, as if I didn't already give him permission.
"I thought you were going out with Mary Jane? You're not cheating on her, are you?" Ned asked, narrowing his eyes at me. His tone told me that I'd lose a huge amount of respect if I said that I was. And his expression told me that he'd absolutely tell. Ned really was the best kind of friend.
"Nah - with MJ, it's more of a no strings attached kind of thing. She's not looking for a boyfriend, and I'm not looking for a girlfriend." I explained with a shrug of my shoulders. She understood I wasn't someone that could be tied down. I had no strings on me. And, rather than trying to tie me down, she seemed to accept it.
Ned narrowed his eyes, still suspicious. "You can ask her if you want," I offered and that seemed to seal the deal. He offered a small nod in response.
"Okay. Well, what does Black Cat want with you? Can we finally take down Tully?" He asked before puffing out his chest. "I have a script I've been dying to use. Since we can't give back all the money legally, I've set up a bunch of offshore accounts connected to everyone's main bank account, so we can launder the money through it." It sounded like he had put a lot of thought into side-stepping the legality issue.
"Sounds interesting. Black Cat wants to meet up in a couple of days to stir up some trouble, didn't say how or when." I said with a shrug. But, if she was asking for my help at all, that meant it was something she felt she couldn't do solo. Otherwise, she would have done it herself. Or she was planning to use me as a distraction, which amounted to the same thing. I didn't really mind either way. I was interested in her entire deal.
Peter cast me a look, "If it's what you want to do, then I'll know you'll do it regardless, but are you sure that this is a good idea?" He asked me, earning a smile.
"Probably not. But it sounds like fun," I answered and I really don't know what else he had been expecting from me. If there were consequences then I would either duck them or accept them. It all depended on which was a bigger pain in the ass. And I genuinely couldn't think of a better use of my time than going on a heist with a super smoking hot cat themed burglar with absolutely massive… personalities.
I was under no delusion that my top head was operating with anything resembling rational or higher thinking.
Peter let out a small sigh, "I should have expected that." He admitted, sounding ashamed that he hadn't. As he should. "Well, we should bring Dr. Hall up here to get started on the upgrades. You do know how to operate the teleporter right?" He asked me, earning a slight smile.
"Not really," I confessed. It wasn't exactly user friendly. Picking a place was more complicated than setting down some coordinates. There was a surplus of options that gave me choice paralysis. I had absolutely no interest in accidently teleporting myself into outer space.
Peter seemed to have expected as much and all of us headed over to the teleporter for him to figure it out. I saw him growing more and more interested as he explored the doohickey that controlled the teleporter. It was something like a pedestal that had a hologram in it, which Peter used to control where it was going. However, I also knew that it was controlled by thought because I could open a portal at will, pretty much. However, that portal only led up to the Fortress of DOOM. It took me over an hour to figure out how to get back down to earth.
"I think I get how it works. Good news is that it can teleport us anywhere on Earth. Bad news is that some places look really protected?" Peter muttered, setting the coordinates for the safehouse that Dr. Hall was in. "That should do it."
"Hit it," I said, giving Peter the nod. He pressed the button and the portal flashed to life. I saw the interior of an upscale apartment, and when I poked my head through the portal, I saw Dr. Hall.
He didn't look like he was doing too good. He looked a lot like a cornered rat about to start climbing up the walls to escape with the double bagged bundle of Gravitonium clutched to his chest. "Yo! Dr. Hall! We're here to pick you up!" I said, just about succeeding in making his eyes fall out of his head.
"Is- a teleporter?! You've had a teleporter this entire time?! Why didn't you use it during our escape?!" Dr. Hall started to complain, clutching the Gravitonium even tighter to his chest.
"Eh, don't worry about that. Come on in - we got a lab set up for you," I told him, beckoning him into the portal. He seemed extremely hesitant for a long few seconds, seriously reconsidering running back to Shield if I had to guess. Or maybe running from us as well. But, all the same, however hesitantly, he got up and cautiously entered the portal. He seemed more than a little surprised when he saw Peter and Ned on the other side.
"Oh! H-hello, you two are… all three of you are… children," Dr. Hall seemed to realize, looking between the three of us.
"We thought about wearing masks and stuff, but figured that it'd get pretty annoying really quickly. Plus, you've already seen Sebastian's face. I'm Ned," Ned introduced himself with a big friendly smile.
"I'm Peter! I've read all your papers on the physics of gravity manipulation and how to utilize it for practical applications!" Peter said, thrusting out a hand. Dr. Hall seemed a little caught off guard, but he shook the hand weakly as he still clung to the Gravitonium.
"A pleasure to meet you?" He tried before he started to look around- "Are we in space?!"
"Don't worry about that. I wanna show you my skates that you'll be upgrading," I told him, leading them all forward. I still heard him mutter under his breath, though.
"Sweet mother of Jesus, he was serious…"
"Ohhh…" I said, holding up the wheels that had been created over the course of three days. They looked cool. Really cool. They were silver and black - with some kind of weird polymer on the wheels, but they were mostly made out of metal.
"The wheels are containment fields for the Gravitonium," Dr. Hall informed, looking happier than I had ever seen him. He looked like he'd skipped sleep for the past couple of days, but he was bringing with him an excited energy. Peter was right next to him, dark bags under his eyes as he tried to fight a yawn. "Peter here synthesized an impact resistant polymer since you intend to use them in combat. It'll protect the casing of the Gravitonium while also creating an electrical charge from friction - both to manipulate gravity, as well as to charge the batteries. It's an ingenious design, truly."
Peter seemed sheepish at the praise, "I've had some time to think up some solutions to any issues we might have. And I was already testing out the polymer for another project…" Peter said, struggling to take the compliment. "But I ended up wildly underestimating how powerful Gravitonium is. Each wheel contains about a point zero five of a milliliter, and…"
"A drop of water. And one drop was able to throw around that eighteen wheeler," Dr. Hall voiced. "Your ATs - fascinating things - are outfitted with eight. Between all of them, you can manipulate up to six hundred and forty thousand pounds of weight when working against Earth's natural gravity. We've also expanded the controls for your ATs, the heel is still the throttle, but your toes will be used for control. You can make yourself as light as a feather or as heavy as a fully loaded semi truck, including gravity in a determined radius around you."
"Cool," I repeated, immediately taken with the ATs. They were awesome. So much cooler than I thought they would be. They were awesome. So sick. So fucking cool. I loved them. "And they're up for a trial run?"
"Yes. Sorta. Maybe… go a little easy on them at first, Sebastian?" Peter requested, sounding a little nervous. "We have the in theory estimates about what they can take, but these are the first iteration."
"Regalia," I decided, catching both of their attention. "I'm gonna call it Regalia." It just felt right.
Peter beamed while Dr. Hall seemed a little surprised, but he had something on his chest. "About the rest of the Gravitonium…" he began cautiously while I continued to inspect the Regalia. It even had cool designs etched into the wheel. They really went all out! So fucking cool.
"Hm?" I prompted when he hesitated for too long.
"With… your permission… I would like to continue to study it. I dedicated most of my college years trying to prove its existence, and now that it's here and out of the wrong hands…" he trailed off again, prompting Peter to speak up.
"It's so awesome! We could do a lot of stuff with it, so can we?" He asked, his eyes lighting up.
"Eh, sure - knock yourselves out. Just one thing," I said, stopping their celebration before it could begin. "Storage. I want to store it in a giant lava lamp in the Cave. Could we do that?" I asked, and Dr. Hall gave me a tired smile and it seemed like every ounce of stress that he had carried with him since I've known him melted away. He had been pretty vocal about it. Enough so that he tried to sink the island of Malta.
But it was clear to see that he had been deeply terrified of someone like Shield or… er… that rich guy whose name I couldn't remember getting their hands on it. I think it said a lot that he considered me 'not in the wrong hands'.
"Of course. We have the rough sketches started already," Dr. Hall said. Sweet. Giant lava lamp here I come. Or maybe we could put it in the Fortress of DOOM? It'd be a nice conversation piece - 'Ah yes, this is my lava lamp of a super cool element in my secret base in space. Indubitability.'
Or whatever fancy people said.
"Thanks. Really - I know you both worked hard on this, so go get some sleep," I told them, popping the Regalia into the slot and sliding the AT's on. I was already in my Audacity gear, complete with most of my items with the Sheikah Slate in the fanny pack that was slung over my shoulder. "I'll give them a test run," I said, rolling over to the teleporter.
"Go easy on them!" Peter warned me as I inputted a command.
"I trust your work! See ya later," I said, proving as much when I kept going through the portal. I heard Peter shouting when he realized what I just did, but I was falling too fast to hear him shouting after me.
After all, I set the teleporter a good half a mile above where I was supposed to be meeting Black Cat, after all. The wind buffeted my mask while it raced by my ears, pushing back my hood as my loose clothing whipped about. "Yeeeahahaha!" I laughed, my blood surging through my veins as I rapidly plummeted down towards New York city. It looked pretty different from this high up! "I'll really die if I fuck up!"
All the more reason to figure out how to use my Regalia.
They didn't have a training manual of any kind, beyond vague instructions to use my toes. Meaning that I was stuck relying on pure instinct to save me. With that in mind, I started fucking with the controls, and I felt the exact moment that the Gravitonium hummed with power.
Mostly because I began to fall faster.
Earth had its own gravity, and it served as mankind's understanding of physics. What is in motion will stay in motion, blah blah blah. It was why if you took out factors like wind resistance, a feather and a bowling ball would fall at the same speed. Gravity was affecting them both equally. However, with my ATs, I could create my own gravity field that usurped the effects of Earth's gravity on me.
Which is why I had started to plummet like a falling star. I panicked a little bit. Or a lot.
A nervous giggle escaped me as I button mashed the controls, trying to undo what I just did. And, through pure dumb luck, I managed it. Instead of falling to the ground, I suddenly found myself being flung upwards at breakneck speeds, rising even faster than I had been falling. A sharp chill cut through my clothing, the air getting thinner… I…
Found the happy medium. A split second before it really would be too late, I managed to level myself out, not falling or riding. Simply hovering thousands of feet in the air. I let myself fall again, this time managing to create a controlled descent. I explored the controls, finding that they were like a throttle - the harder I pressed, the stronger the effect of the gravity. I wasn't limited to up or down either. I…
"Incredible," I breathed, summarizing my thoughts about the upgraded ATs. Absolutely incredible. A soft smile tugged at my lips, feeling a surge of appreciation for Peter and Dr. Hall. These fit me perfectly. They embodied me.
I could go where I wanted to go. I could be as light as a feather or as heavy as a mountain. Nothing in this world had any strings on me.
"This," I decided, getting a hang of the ATs, falling with style down to the meet up point. "Is my Road," I decided, spotting Black Cat with her arms crossed on top of a building, clearly waiting for me. I grinned to myself as I came in hot, only to kill my momentum directly in front of her, hovering a few inches off the ground.
Black Cat just about jumped out of her skin with my arrival. Her gaze darted to my ATs, then up at the sky, before settling back on me. "It's rude to keep a lady waiting," she remarked, getting herself under control as she crossed her arms. She had a pretty good poker face, but when you saw it slip, it was pretty easy to see when it was in place. The same cool, calm, confident air that she had carried herself with the last time I saw her was back in force.
"Sorry. Got a little distracted playing with a new toy," I said, doing a lazy backflip through the air before touching down on the ground. I couldn't wait to actually use them. Who would make a fun opponent? Would have been nice if I had them back when I was fighting Loki… hm… Thor? That could be fun, even if I had some serious doubts that I'd actually win that fight. "So, what are we doing today? Oh, and I feel like I should warn you - as far as my robberies go, I'm zero and one in favor of something going horribly wrong."
To that, Black Cat's lips quirked up in faint amusement, "I noticed." She remarked drily before tilting her head at me, "I noticed that you didn't ask any questions when I called. I thought you might like the surprise," she mused, her gaze sultry. Oh, she was trying to distract me with her boobs. And, I had to admit - it was working like a charm.
"I don't particularly care what we're doing - it was more of a general question. Are we cracking open some heads? Stealth mission? A heist complete with a chase scene? Because I already did the last one, and sequels are never as good as the original. Not counting Terminator Two. And the Godfather part two," I amended.
The amused look didn't diminish. "You're hired muscle," she informed, her smirk becoming a smile. "There's a certain someone that I need to scare into acting a certain way to get what I want. Do you think you can be scary?" Black Cat questioned, striding forward and placing a hand on my chest, invading my personal space.
"...What kind of scary are we talking about here? Because I have range. Strong silent type? Bust a kneecap at the slightest offense type? Or do you want me to just drop this guy from the stratosphere and catch him before he goes splat?" I questioned, making her eyes widen in surprise ever so slightly.
"I didn't realize I was dealing with a professional. The last one does sound amusing, so lets go with that if there's a need," Black Cat said, leaning her face close to mine. "I do appreciate this favor you're doing for me. I'll make sure to… pay you back," she whispered, her tone low and husky. Oh, my. It was really scary what a woman could accomplish when she knew exactly how sexy she was. I'm pretty sure if she asked, I'd take on the entire world right now.
"Don't worry about it," I told her, catching her off guard in a different way this time. "I'm agreeing because it sounds fun. And I'm curious as to what your entire deal is."
Black Cat backed off a bit, "A hedonist, huh? I can respect that… actually, I admire it a fair bit…" she seemed to purr before she began to walk away. And, based on the smirk she sent over her shoulder, she knew that I was checking out her ass with every step. "Come on, then. Let the fun begin!"
The next chapter is currently available on my Pat re on and Subscribe Star, so if you want to read it a week early, all it takes is a single dollar in the tip jar. Or, for five dollars, you can read the chapter after that two weeks before its public release! I hope you enjoyed!