"I can't believe he got away."
Clint "Hawkeye" Barton glared out the Quinjet's canopy, his eyes sweeping over the sky and the Atlantic Ocean below. For three hours they'd been searching the Northeast United States for any sign of the Wizard. They spotted debris from the villain's mass driver the Avengers managed to destroy before it could wipe out the entire Eastern Seaboard. As for the Wizard himself, there was no sign.
Growling, Hawkeye got on the radio. "Hawkeye to Cap."
"Captain America here," replied the team's leader from another Quinjet. "Go, Hawkeye."
"Sorry to report we've got no joy on this end."
"Same here. Looks like the Wizard gave us the slip . . . again." That last word came out with an edge.
"So what now?"
"We find as much debris from the mass driver as we can and mark it with GPS for SHIELD to pick up. The last thing we want is for any of that technology to fall into the wrong hands."
"Roger that, Cap." Hawkeye turned to the three other Avengers in the Quinjet. Wonder Woman, Colossus and Black Lightning. "All right, you heard the man. We get to play garbage man. Joy."
"I'm sure the Wizard will turn up again, Clint," Wonder Woman tried to reassure him.
He just grunted and nodded. He hated the idea of letting someone like the Wizard run loose. The guy was almost as intelligent as Reed Richards. But unlike the Fantastic Four's leader, the Wizard was a raging psycho.
"Even if we do catch him," said Black Lightning as he stared out the canopy, "he'd probably break out of the Vault five minutes after we put him in there. I mean, he is the Wizard."
Hawkeye scowled at the thought. Unfortunately, Black Lightning was probably right. "Maybe we could just zap him into another dimension. I think he'd like it in Annihilus' universe.
Black Lightning chuckled at that.
They flew along the coasts of Maine and New Hampshire, spotting debris with either their eyes or the Quinjet's thermal scanner. So far it didn't appear any of the mass driver's remains landed smack in the middle of a city.
Thank God for that.
Hawkeye skirted the coasts of Rhode Island and Connecticut. He and the other Avengers spotted fragments of the mass driver around Narragansett Bay. He let out a quiet sigh of relief, thinking of the battle that raged in Earth's orbit several hours ago. They had been less than two minutes from the first meteor being launched at Washington when Black Lightning and Wasp blasted the firing mechanism.
We always do seem to cut it close, don't we?
He scanned around him as they flew toward Long Island Sound, taking in the sprawling towns. How many of them would have been leveled if they hadn't –
"Look!" Colossus pointed out the canopy.
"What is it?" Wonder Woman leaned closer to the glass.
Hawkeye gazed down at Fishers Island. His brow furrowed when he saw a sudden bulge in the middle of the woods. It exploded, sending trees spiraling through the air. Another blast ripped more trees from the ground.
"What the hell?" Hawkeye contacted the other Quinjet. "Cap, this is Hawkeye."
"We've got a situation here. Something's blowing up the woods on Fishers Island."
"Unknown. We're going down to check it out."
"Roger," replied Captain America. "We're twenty minutes out. Be careful."
"We will. Hawkeye out."
Hawkeye banked the Quinjet right and dove for Fishers Island. He brought the aircraft to a hover, deployed the landing gear and touched down on a beach. The canopy rose. Hawkeye leaped out and pulled smoke arrow from his quiver. He nocked it as Wonder Woman, Colossus and Black Lightning also jumped out of the Quinjet. A rumbling sound rolled through the air. Hawkeye saw more trees tossed in the distant.
"Let's go." He led the other Avengers into the woods, the string of his bow taut, ready to fire.
They weaved through the trees. Hawkeye gazed around, looking for any threat. For a moment he wondered, actually hoped, it was the Wizard doing this. But no. Why would he go around destroying trees when he had to know the Avengers were looking for him? He would want to hide right now.
The rumbling grew louder.
Hawkeye steadied his breathing. He did a quick check of his teammates. All three wore determined looks as they moved deeper into the woods.
A roar filled the air. Tremors raced under his feet. Up ahead he saw several trees ripped from the ground. It couldn't have been more than 70 yards away.
"Hawkeye," Wonder Woman whispered and pointed to the right. "There."
He spotted a tall figure dart through the trees. It carried something long and slender. Too big for a rifle. A stick of some kind?
Another group of trees exploded.
Hawkeye took off through the woods. The other Avengers followed. He bounded from one tree to another, trying to stay concealed best he could. He caught part of the figure sticking out from behind a tree.
Eyes locked on his quarry, Hawkeye brought up his bow. The gap between them closed. Thirty yards. Twenty yards. Ten yards.
The figure swept the stick in front of him. The ground undulated and spat more trees into the air.
"You there!" Hawkeye shouted. "Stop what you're doing and turn around!"
The figure spun around and stepped into the clear. He was a tall man with tanned skin, an angular face and his black hair worn in a single braid. He wore a loose-fitting brown tunic and pants with beige hiking boots and a black eye mask.
Teeth bared, the man pointed his stick at Hawkeye.
TO BE CONTINUED