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[Fiction] Wreckin' Crew

Warren Verona

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Time flew idly by upon the tallest spire of Chicago. The Revenant had placed a call out for heroes, brave novas who would accompany him into the stars and investigate the orbital weapon that had bombarded South Dakota a day or so prior.

The Crusader answered his call. Only… the… Crusader.

Which in and of its self was saying quite a bit. If there was one thing that was difficult to earn with Revenant it was respect, and a guy like The Crusader being so quick to pipe up was certainly a shock for the grim nova.

Patiently he waited, and talked on his phone constantly pacing back and forth. “Sweetie, c’mon! Someone has to take a look at the thing. I’m a cop now, it’s my job.” He rolled his eyes as the plum beauty on the other end of the line chewed him a new one. “I never said I was going to destroy… okay, so I did say I was going to destroy it, but I have an image to uphold.”

He looked off into the distance and could see The Crusader approaching from his tour of the city. His clueless expression and chiseled features spoke of a godling who could see it all, tell it like it was and yet know nothing of any of it. “I gotta go baby.” He turned away from the approaching Crusader, in muffle his words. “I-I love you too sweetie. I gotta go.” He was about to close his cell phone and sighed heavily. “Yes, I’ll pick up cat food. I. Have. To. Go. Big time super hero stuff. I’ll be home later.”

His phone clicked shut and tried his best to slip back into his mean spirited machismo. He’d never admit it, but talking with his girlfriend always made his unlife seem all the more surreal.

“Took you long enough. You stop to quote scripture to a pimp?”

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A smile bright enough to signal ships at sea gleamed at the Angel of Death as The Crusader touched down deftly on the rooftop, his blue cape streaming behind him in the high winds above Chicago; for the briefest moment, Revenant could almost swear that the sheer optimism that shone from those perfect rows of pearly whites was physically painful to experience.

"Ah, good to see you, Dark Knight!" Despite the painfully cliche reference, it was even odds whether or not the blonde god even remembered the originating comic book title at the moment; odds were that it was just his latest accolade for what was, admittedly, a particularly dark Windy City Knight. The deep baritone boomed on. "Yes, it's another day of dealing out justice in this crazy card game we call life! So, I understand there's someone dealing death from the bottom of the deck, and you're wanting us to go take a look up his space-born sleeve, eh chum?"

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If you kill him, you can't take his whisper... be strong.

"I'm sorry Sam, I'm not really good with kids so try not to talk to much, eh?" The Darkest Nova tried to shake off the waves of thought that Sam "The Crusader" Hill always brought to the surface of his mind. It was quite the odd pairing on this day: one hated to think, and one almost couldn't do it if he tried.

The public was welcome to guess one from the other.

"Look, all joking aside Crusader," Revenant made sure to use his moniker. For people like Revenant and The Crusader their titles were a sign of their personality, a path they chose to walk or a totem that had selected them, called out, and then they answered. There was power in their name. "Yes, I plan on going up there, but I need your help. My undead state might make me rather impervious to most things natural, it doesn't however, grant me much protection against the vacuum of space. I should know, I tried it once."

He paused and looked at the bronze God of Get-A-Clue. He was honestly listening, absorbing every word he spoke, because with every word Revenant spoke he knew the Crusader felt like it was just closer the two were becoming to better understanding one another. If only he knew...

"Look, Sam. We're not exactly sanctioned for an investigation like this. You could get into quite a bit of trouble for this. You don't have to go man, I understand if you wanna stay." He slipped in one last thing to make sure he didn't sound to sappy. "I'm used to working alone anyway."

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"Well yes, my grim bluish friend, I know how you like to take the path of the lone wolf on your hunt for righteousness," The Crusader began... and then stopped, confusion returning like an old friend to grace his flawless features.

"I, um... if you're going alone, but can't go into space... um... huh?"

The feeble mental Engine That Couldn't ground to a stop.

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Revenant smiled, even chuckled lightly. "That's where you come in Crusader."

With a sudden slap on the Crusader's arm Revenant channeled the power of his dark gifts and in a single touch stole a fraction of Sam Hill's soul.

The mighty novas power flooded through him and he felt the euphoria of life wash over his grim features. The deathly pallor faded slightly, giving Revenant just the hint of sickness. Something isn't right... He thought to himself as the whisper dispersed itself through his system and acquainted itself within it's new prison.

Indeed, something wasn't right, not right at all. For certain strong willed individuals their personality could often bleed through into The Angel of Darkness forcing him to adopt some of their more dominant personality traits. Apparently Sam was one such individual.

Revenant could feel the sun on his face and wanted to cry out for joy at the big ball of life giving warmth. The clouds were fluffy and the sky was blue. What more could a man ask for in life? The weight of the worlds’ problems were lighter with this whisper and Revenant suddenly claimed the epiphany that one can not save the entire world in a day, peace like anything worth working hard for takes time.

Gosh dang it, was this guy cross-bred with a Teletubby? Did I just say gosh dang it to myself? A sudden realization washed over him.



Holy crud... I can't... I can't swear!

As he struggled with the chains of the whisper that he bound to himself, Revenant paid no mind to Sam 'The Crusader' Hill, who was suddenly learning that the gates of hell opened both ways...

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"So... cold..."

For the first time in a decade, Sam Hill felt a genuine chill... and only after a moment did he realize that it came from within, a pit of ice lodged somewhere deep within his soul.

Clouds cast shadows across the rooftop, each one sending sinister thoughts swirling through the mind that had, until now, been utterly incapable of anything remotely resembling sinister.

The sky was no longer bright for The Crusader.

The newly-grim man, his skin fading to blue-grey, was shrouded in despair; the gleaming white eufibre shifted to the color of ash, and the streaming azure cape became midnight blue, the edges jagged to match the sharp pain of the wearer's soul.

Eyes - still blue, but no longer shining, blue rimmed not in white but in black - looked up to his baffled companion in anguish, and his baritone voice did not so much boom as toll. "You need to go, go do what must be done, Warren."

It was not a voice of joyful optimism. It was the voice of resigned sorrow, and it carried the bite of winter in its words.

"I'll stay here and keep watch over the damned."

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Miles up from Earth, in the void called space; Cosmic began searching the Opnet to see what if any new news had been posed about the attack. While searching the Op net he stumbled across something that was rather surprising. Revenant whom he had only seen once, had made a call to any space capable Nova, to join him in investigating the orbital weapon. Upon more delving, that call had been met by the Crusader, a member of the WCK. This is quite the surprise, he thought to himself. I'd better hurry and make contact with him before he goes off running half-cocked into the void of space. Cosmic last knew him to be located in Chicago, and wondered if he still resided there. Opening a warp, CC made his way to the Windy City, and hopefully to find Revenant as quick as possible.

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"So... cold..." The Crusader shivered out as his breath could be seen floating off on the summer breeze.

Revenant grinned. It pleased him to see someone as joyful and kind as The Crusader have his eyes opened to the evil and corruption within his very one soul. Every coins had two sides and nova spectre believed that the only true way to understand ones self was to face both sides of that coin. Sam was getting a long overdue wake up call; he just hoped the guy didn't cut his wrists or anything while he was gone.

"I'll stay here and keep watch over the damned." He muttered, looking grimly at the pathetic creature milling about like ants below them.

"Very well." Revenant said, his nether world tone overlapped by a rich baritone. "Keep an eye on things my verbose, right-winger compadre. Now, if you'll excuse me, I must lodge my foot to the derriere of villainy." With another pat on the now morose Crusader, Revenant shot into the air carried by wings as black as night.

Confound it all! I'm talking like him!

As The Cosmic Comet exited his warp gate he could already see Revenant soaring off high into the fluffy, cottony soft clouds.

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"Shit" he swore as he saw Revenant flying off. Glancing briefly at Crusader, CC quickly calls out to Revenant as he chases after him. Turning on the juice CC quickly makes his way towards the ashen colored Nova. "Revenant, hold on sec, I can get you to the weapon far faster than by you flying there" he calls out.

Not waiting to see if he heard him or not, CC opens up another warp gate to the location of the orbital weapon a few meters in front of Revenant, who at the last second was able to slow himself up, and turn himself toward Cosmic.

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He halted his momentum as Cosmic called out to him. Hovering in the air, his mighty wings beating to keep him aloft. "Ah, why if it isn't the Cosmic Comet. Far faster you say? Hmm..." He stroked his chin and tried to look like he was thinking. In truth he was doing his damnedest to try and control the damn Crusader speech. "Care to join me in a bit of Galactic Gallantry?" His ghostly voice continued to be overlapped by the rich pleasant tones of the Crusaders own voice of optimism.

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Hovering along with Revenant his pleasant tone was a far cry from what Blackthorn had described to Cosmic when he had last visited earth. With a nod he quickly agrees "I had every intention of accompanying you, and I'm glad I caught up with you before you made it out into space."

Taking a more serious tone "That thing up there caused some major damage down on Earth and I for one would like to see you take it out." "But are you sure you can take out something that big? I'm not sure what type of defenses it was built with, but if that thing can kill a Nova, it wouldn't hurt to take a careful approach trying to destroy the thing lest we hurt ourselves in the process."

Pointing towards the warp, Revenant can make out the orbital weapon on the other side, floating aimlessly in the darkness, poised to strike again if need arose.

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In the vast unknown of space the warp gate The Cosmic Comet had opened showed the Crusading Revenant his first glimpse at the massive orbital weapon of mass destruction.

His pinpoints of grim vision remained locked on the structure opposite of the scintillating gate. "Yes my friend. I can take that thing down, with your help. We can do it because we must." His stolen confidence washed over his companion to the cosmos as Crusade-a-Reven clenched his fist and shook it vigorously at the most dramatically opportune moment. "Come, let us make haste! We have a date with villainy and come the morning light it shall awaken in the wet spot of retribution. Sticky, sore, and confused wondering if we truly cared!"

Heh. Eat your heart out Sam. These are easy! He thought to himself. The death tainted nova, although not shaking off the effects of the stolen whisper, had begun to 'go with the flow' instead of fighting it. The desire to do good things and macramé was still a bit unnerving, but it was all for the cause. Wait, no... don't encourage my self.

His wings stopped their flapping and stiffened themselves behind him like a diving hawk as he launched through the warp gate with CeCe. The air thickened as they shot through and for a brief moment the visible cylinder of air could be seen around them and a sonic boom filled the air a split second later.

In the cold of infinity they flew. His soul, if it was believed he still possessed one, soared as he saw for the very first time the eternal beauty of space and for Revenant, the temperature was a cozy one too. Cold, like the void of Oblivion.

On they raced at a determined pace. When Revenant's vision slipped into the quantum spectrum he grinned softly to himself before he launched forward nearly doubling his speed and leaving CeCe behind to wonder what the sudden rush was.

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Guest The_Aesir

They approached. He knew someone would eventually, and his superiors did as well. From his vantage point on the Hammer the weapons’ ‘guardian’ and orbital technician watched the two novas appear from the warp gate several miles away. It was procedure to move the satellite whenever it was fired, however the stress from firing it in rapid succession instead of permitting a cool down time (like it said to do in the manual) has caused several mechanical failures through out it.

The nova, which had been performing repairs to the propulsion system so that the satellite could be moved to a safer location and repaired there, hadn’t noticed The Cosmic Comet until he opened a warp gate to the earth below. When he now saw reinforcements his form faded from view and starlit expanse of forever rippled a bit as he cloaked himself in quantum.

“Heimdall to Asgard.” He said calmly into his headset radio. “I have two Einherjar on Bifrost. Advise.”

“Copy that Heimdall.” A static voice came through the receiver. “Is Mjolnir in danger? I repeat, are the einherjar a threat to Mjolnir?”

The nova calling himself Heimdall watched as Revenant shot forward at speeds his enhanced perceptions had difficulty tracking. “Affirmative Asgard. These boys aren’t here to check the tires and run her through the wash.”

“Do you have positive identification?” Asked the man stationed in ‘Asgard’. “Do you have a clear visual?”

Silence. There was a lot of that in the cold reaches of the Earth’s orbit. All of ‘Asgard’ patiently waited for Heimdall’s reply. Hiemdall himself swallowed hard. His breathing came a bit faster and for the first time he could remember the special agent nova felt seriously afraid.

The tips of their noses were less than a half an inch apart, and while invisible to normal and most nova perceptions, he was looking eye to eye with Revenant. The Angel of Death took to breathing with his stolen whisper and now, like a junkyard dog, every inhale was long and smooth his muscular features expanding as his lungs filled with the icy chill of vacuum and every exhale carried with it a low growl of rage and disgust.

“I repeat Heimdall. Do. You. Have. Visual?”

The cloak of invisibility wavered and Heimdall stood face to face with Revenant. “Asgard, tell my wife I love her.”

“I shall say this but a single time miscreant.” The Crusader-hearted Lord of the Undead spoke softly and in a tone that could only be considered polite and calm. “Turn yourself in and atone for your evil deeds, lest my companion and I be forced to thwart you.”

Meanwhile… in Asgard.

“Sir! We have visual! Heimdall is staring him down. The surveillance cam picked this up a second ago.” An image of the current scene high above the Earth began playing in a pocket window on the officer’s terminal.

“Who is it?” Asked a man decorated with several pieces of flair that announced him as a Colonel.

“It’s a nova named Verona, Warren J. sir. Calls himself ‘The Revenant’. He has an accomplice but we do not yet have confirmation on their identity.” The officer held up a file containing just about everything there was to know about Revenant, and it had all been collected in a matter of less than eight seconds. Proof that The Directive knew just about everything there was to know about just about everybody.

“So, the General’s son has returned to dance with the gods.” The Colonel glanced over the file. “Send a squad to help Heimdall immediately, open a warp gate a quarter of a mile opposite to Revenant, behind his back up. We’ll take out his help first, then if need be send more to deal with this… Revenant.”

“Do you think we’ll need that many sir?” Asked the officer.

“When a man has novas like Sean McCline, Long, and Procyon on speed dial. You make sure his hands stay where you can see them. Hmm?” The Colonel walked off, taking the file with him. The assault was already being planned and the squad had gathered preparing for transport into Low Earth Orbit before the Colonel’s third step had touched down on the floor.

A war of Gods had begun.

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"I can't believe you're strapping that thing on. Does it even still work? Though... damn, it's good to see you in the suit again, hon."

John Reider - the man who had for years been known as Cat's Paw - looked at his wife with both appreciation and concern.

Pulling the straps tight, Cassandra met her husband's eyes. Fact was, she was very certain that the contraption would still work. After all these years, she still did regular maintenance on the old gear... and while neither would say anything to the other on the subject, she also knew that John was perfectly aware of that fact.

"It'll work. It has to. You saw the readouts of what's up there." Indeed, he had. When the first word of the blast had hit the news, both John and Cassandra, despite their ostensible retirement, had exchanged a wordless look before heading at a run to the deep sub-basement beneath the mansion. The Cray had come online like it was yesterday; all those sensor links that had been so painstakingly crafted during the darker days of her old career paid off, and the source of the debacle in South Dakota was soon looming large on the display. Both realized all too well what it meant... and with a single glance, John knew what his wife would do.

"Don't say this enough, but... I love you." For the briefest moment, Cassandra hesitated at John's words. He was right; he didn't say it nearly enough, and hearing it now, it sounded... ...it sounds too much like 'goodbye'.

She pulled the mask into place, and the Blue Hawk replied, "I love you, too," before fitting a clear helmet to the neck of the airtight suit.

With the press of a button, sunlight speared down into the Hawk Cave for the first time in seven years as a thick concrete panel slid aside to reveal a shaft to the surface. John backed away as the rocket pack coughed once before flaring to life, and without another word, the midnight-blue form of the Blue Hawk took off into the blue Seattle sky.

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With Revenant's speedy departure, CC's followed right behind him, hoping to catch up with Revenant. His body filled with quantum and his enhanced hearing picked up Revenant’s voice speaking to an unknown person. “I shall say this but a single time miscreant. Turn yourself in and atone for your evil deeds, lest my companion and I be forced to thwart you.” By the time the words were done, CC spotted the unknown Nova, and a sudden dread fell upon him. We've been spotted, by someone, and this can't be good for us.

Another sudden surge of quantum and CC body’s begin’s to light up as bright and hot as the sun, as he makes his move toward the weapon. Behind him unnoticed by either CC or Revenant, some new players have joined the game. Two Nova’s appear out of the gate their single goal; take out the snoopers and preserve their weapon. The advantage of surprise on their side, they waste no time in making their presence know, as a blast of blue energy streaks towards CC, hitting him squarely in the back.

Just as his body's sonar goes off, sudden pain rips thru CC as he is struck by the bolt of energy. His voice rings out into the void in a loud and thunderous scream. The blow had hurt him, more so than at any time he could remember. He turned cursing himself for not having the foresight to expect this and surprised that he had been hurt. Healing himself as he turned and faced his attacker he was filled him with even more dread. The Nova’s who had wounder him was covered in a blue glow, and the smirk on his face meant that he was glad that CC had survived his attack, and he was not alone. His partner on the other hand was motionless, and appeared shocked that CC was still alive. CC knew the moment he saw his attackers that they meant business and he didn't know if he could count on Revenant to help him out.

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Perhaps it was the compassionate soul of the Crusader that swam within his quantum signature, perhaps (arguably) it was Revenant's own compassion, none can say, but whatever the reason it caused him to ere.

As The Cosmic Comet cried out in pain Revenant made a fatal mistake: he took his eye off his opponent. Glancing out of concern for his companion gave Heimdall all the time he needed.

A fist crashed into Revenant's jaw shattering it with Atlas-like power. His jaw shattered and the death nova flew back carried by the caress of zero gravity. Stupid Warren! Get it together! He berated himself while simultaneously calling upon his dark gifts.

Heimdall made his approach but his spirit touched opponent was far to fast. Like a wisp his opponent darted to his flank and before he could react Revenant grasped his bicep, flung him completely around and back into the satellite.

The metal crunched and buckled from the impact. Revenant, realizing it might take Heimball a moment to recover, summoned forth the tormented souls that dwelt within him. His hands crackled with black negative energy and eerie purple life-draining aura surrounded them.

A first, a second, then a third shrieking soul screamed past the nova shrouded within the blue anima. Each missed, but that was okay, the aim was more to create a distraction to buy Cosmic Comet some time before the nova's next assault.

An impact rocked Revenant from behind. His scapula cracked and sound of muscle and sinew tearing filled the area. Black ichor floated in small droplets from the wound caused by the crackling radiance of Heimdall's summoned quantum blade. Violent pleasure crept up on Heimdall’s face and he twisted it aggravating the injury even further.

Warren cried out in agony as his 'blood' began to fill his lungs.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Blue skies darkened around her as the Blue Hawk's eastward arc carried her upward through the thinning atmosphere and finally into low orbit.

The rocket pack did, after all these years, still function perfectly... and to her surprise and secret delight, so did she. It didn't just feel like yesterday, it was yesterday. For most of the past decade, she had lived half a life - Cassandra Foster, CEO of the Foster Foundation, wife to John Reider... but not this. Nothing like this.

Beneath the clear helmet that was needed to survive the cruel vacuum of space, the mask felt right, felt natural, felt a part of her soul that she had been missing until putting it back on. And as the satellite gradually grew from a dot above the shining earth below to loom large in her view, as she watched a warp field open up to discharge novas to defend the orbital gun, she knew that she was once more complete… and that even if she did not come home after this, even if she died up here today on the fringe of space, she would end her life as a whole person one last time.

Through the heads-up magnification, she recognized Revenant, the erstwhile Windy City Knight who had, against all odds, sent out a rallying cry to deal with this grave threat. She could also see that his life was about to end at the hands of another nova, one who wielded a crackling blade that looked to be of pure energy. With a sharp, tight movement of her wrist, energy surged through the battle glove she had built so long ago in an effort to deal with the increasingly overpowered threats that had descended upon Seattle. She thumbed the controls in her left hand, switching the rocket pack into tactical mode, and veered in, leading with the glove.

Heimdall never saw what was coming. One moment, he was taking apart the nova of death; the next, pain exploded through his ribcage as he was propelled away from Revenant on the end of a fist as hard as iron.

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"Cauldron-born, disengage visual camouflage."

Disengaging. Probability of hostile action, 87%.

Alexandra Rothstein's lips peeled back in a predator's smile as she brought up the targeting for her armor's internal railguns, sighting in on the nova whose blue glow made him a perfect target against the inky void. "Considerably higher than that." A flick of her fingers sent two hyper-dense projectiles whipping into the target's chest, tearing through steel-hard bone and muscle like tissue paper and sending a crystalline shower of flash-frozen blood pouring into the void. A flick of thought sent her sliding along the electromagnetic shell of the Earth, her dark armor almost invisible except as a hole against the stars as she lined up her second shot.

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The pain was gone. Like most of Revenant's dead body pain was fleeting, a pulse of sensations that informed him where an injury was, but little else. The pain itself rose from the searing quantum of the blade Heimdall produced. It scarred and flayed Revenant's negative signature with the fury of holy fire. His eyes burned with a nimbus yellow aura while a purple anima caught around him like a stoked bonfire kept contained by the crackling black negative energy that coursed through it.

There would be death. Lots of it.

His head snapped suddenly in Blue Hawk's direction, her energy charged gauntlet still cracking from the searing blow she delivered to Heimdall. It was the only thing that saved her life. Putting the math together Revenant knew where his assistance had come from, but said nothing. His face contorted in rage as he sped off and into Heimdall at a breakneck speed, gripping the mans uniform at the chest the Lord of Undeath reached back and slammed him into the weapon, each blow carried with it several tons of borrowed force. The moment sped up as Revenant called upon his inhuman speed and like an action sequence from a movie one moment everything was normal and the next Heimdall’s back slammed against the device several times as nothing but a blur and an echo, with the concave dent on the satellite becoming deeper with each impact.

"From the body of one guilty deed a thousand ghostly fears and haunting thoughts proceed." His ghastly cacophony of souls spoke for him as he refused to whisper his taunts. Tendrils formed from the aura around him, they serpentined down his arm, one black and one purple. Past his fist they continued entwining around one another like two snakes until the stiffened into a quantum laced double edged sword spiraling around itself. Death’s Scythe had been upgraded for the new millennia.

The death nova iron-like hand grabbed the still dazed Heimdall by the throat and with his opposite, drove his life stealing, soul draining 'bladed' arm deep into the nova's abdomen. "Your suffering shall be permanent, dark and obscure and it will share the nature of infinity."

“I’ll see you in Hel.” Heimdall moaned painfully.

“No, you won’t.” Revenant replied. “I rarely leave my castle.”

The trumped nova inhaled deeply as shock and horror gripped his expression. The cold clammy hand of death made the frigid void of space seem like a roaring blaze. His flesh withered and became gray and mottled slowly tightening against his frame. Hair fell away and receded while his eye sunk back. Desperately he tried to fight back, raising his hand up to rest it upon Revenant shoulder, each bulbous joint in his gray knuckles were visible but lacked the strength to push the enraged nova off him.

As Heimball breathed his last the gory hole in Revenant's chest closed slowly as flesh and bone knitted itself together, rejuvenated by the soul of another. When it was all over there was just a withered husk of a man crucified by death against the weapon he was ordered to protect.

"Justice is served." The complete lack of compassion was punctuated by his pleased grin.

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Within seconds upon facing his opponents, all hell had broken loose. Revenant's energy blasts and the sudden appearance of a rocket packed propelled Nova, was all the distraction he needed to make his move upon his attackers.

With a ruthlessness that surprised himself, CC rammed into second of the unknown Nova's, quickly grabbing him and enveloping him in his solar glow. His assailant's look quickly turned from shock into one of complete and utter pain, as CC body begin to burn thru the Nova's skin. Struggling to no avail, CC's fury held the Nova tight, their bodies glowing as bright and as hot as the sun itself. The death screams of his enemy fading into nothingness, CC's turns to face his other attacker, only to find nothing but a lifeless body floating in the void.

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The stranger armored in dark silver whose weapons tracked across Comet, then past him offered him an off-handed salute before turning her attention to Revenant and his opponent, only to find that the Knight had quite thoroughly settled the matter himself.

"Well, that was certainly exciting," Alexandra Rothstein murmured to herself behind the privacy of her T-slit helmet, examining the heavy bulk of the weapon against the stars with a hint of admiration. "So now we come down to the interesting part..."

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Back in the days when the Blue Hawk had patrolled the mean streets of Seattle, in those strange first few years of the Nova Era when she had fought beside the likes of Cat's Paw and Ferrous and Rose & Ivy against the growing threat from those who let newfound powers overwhelm their moral compass, there hadn't so much been a policy as a simple understanding: you do what you can to preserve life, even those of the maniacs, and bring them in. It never needed to be a written rule; it was just understood that the Good Guys didn't kill, even if the Bad Guys did.

Looking around at the bodies, ruptured and broken, floating around her in space, she remembered why she had taken off the mask, almost a decade ago. Oh, there had been all of the excuses, of course. Seattle had closed many of the loopholes in their hugely-exploitable Good Sam laws, which had been the reason she eventually sited in the official biography. And there had been the growing backlash against nova "heroes": forced involvement by half a dozen bureaus, massive pressure by Team Tomorrow against secret identities, etc. She had even tried to use her genuine love for John Reider, the man beneath Cat's Paw's mask, as a reason to hang up the cape and cowl for good. But when it came down to brass tacks, the problem was that the Good Guys had started killing to get the job done - had indeed felt that they had to. And she could feel herself, as the threats escalated and fights became more desperate in the latter half of the '00s, starting to slip down that road. So she had "retired", which was a wonderful euphamism that look so much better in her printed memoirs than did "quit".

Here, hanging in what should have been the peace of orbit, hundreds of miles above the soft swirling white and blue and green of the world, she knew that, for all of the joy and excitement and feeling of being fully alive again, this would be the last time she would be the Blue Hawk. The game had simply changed too much; it was now played by a new breed, a breed that was both more pure and less human, and relics like her and her quaint adherence to the moral qualms of a more innocent age could not long survive in this brave new world.

A final task loomed large before her, before she could make the final retreat from the only thing that had ever really fulfilled her. The massive satellite hung there in space with an almost palpable malevolence, a huge gun in unseen hands pointing at the world below. The Blue Hawk flashed hand signals for a radio frequency to her collegues - her murderous collegues, she knew only too well - and after a moment to let them make adjustments to whatever equipment they may have, she spoke. "We need to disable this thing, and do so in a way that leaves us with good forensics to find the source. Ideas?"

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"Take whatever forensics you like now." The cool female voice that crackled in the Blue Hawk's ear had the crisp, precise authority of a warrior accustomed to being obeyed. "Then I'm going to tear this lovely work of art out of the sky and make a very expensive meteor of it. At your convenience, of course."

The icy blue glitter of the Earth reflected against the smooth metal shell of Wargear's armor as she slid in close to the Directive weapon, almost near enough to run a gauntleted hand across it surface, left no doubt of the absolute seriousness of her assertion.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Procyon’s “faster-than-light” teleportation, like most of his abilities, is far from subtle in appearance or effect. A brilliant flash provides a clear visual indicator of his arrival as the sudden streaks of light resolve into the figure of a tall, well-built man, clothed only in a hazy aura of solar radiance, motes of light flaring in the nimbus surrounding him. He flies unaided, naked to the vacuum of space and uncaring of its chill as he swoops closer to the Novas, living and dead, that float in space around the lethal-looking instrument that killed his friend. Procyon’s iridescent blue eyes narrow slightly as he studies the others gathered here, sorting friend from potential foe.

Revenant he recognises, though there is something a little… odd about his quantum signature. Odder than usual, at any rate. He must have borrowed someone’s powers to get up here. As far as I know, Revenant isn’t spaceworthy. Then again, I have been gone awhile… The other he recognises is Cosmic Comet, both from the boards and from the one glimpse some months back, when Procyon’s home was attacked by fanatics. The armoured figure is unknown to him, as is the woman who floats next to the weapons platform. He glances around briefly, noting the drifting bodies around the four as he glides closer. Looks like the party is well underway.

Coming to a halt ten meters away, he stands on empty space, his arms folding over his well-muscled chest as he faces the four gathered Novas. Searching through the communications frequencies, he finds a likely one and broadcasts his voice on a tight wavelength to the others.

“Apologies for the late arrival.” He nods to Revenant and Comet, then to the two mystery Novas. His too-beautiful features are set in a stern, sober expression, quite unlike his trademark dazzling smile seen on the OpNet. Though naked, he seems quite unselfconscious of the fact, his innate dignity and poise seem to be clothing enough. The force of his personality is evident even though he is not focussing himself on such at present, as he keeps his sparkling gem-like eyes on the four Novas before him.

Whoever put this monstrosity up here isn’t going to let it go down easily. And if they understand what I have in mind, they’ll probably shit bricks. Too bad.

“Am I to understand that we’re all gathered here to destroy this piece of murderous space garbage?” He asks somewhat rhetorically, yet politely as he scans the vacuum around them with his mind, looking for trouble. The slightest pitch and spin on the tone of his words suggests to the others that he has something else in mind. Something better.

Let’s see if there's a shill here, shall we? If one of the four Novas gathered here was working for the owners of the satellite, they wouldn’t like the idea Procyon was about to propose.

Not one bit.

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"All things considered," Blue Hawk's voice crackled across the frequency, "I want to get some forensic evidence from this thing before we finish it off. Whoever is responsible for it needs to be held accountable."

Already, she had a small pocket instrument aimed at an access panel on the deadly satellite. Hundreds of miles below, a new subroutine came to life on the Cray, flashing through analysis of electronic and magnetic signatures at a phenomenal rate. After a moment, Blue Hawk pulled a small pair of cutters from a pouch on her belt; with deft caution, she snipped a pair of nearly invisible wires, and opened the panel to reveal a maze of circuitry.

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"Aight cupcakes, staring at the gosh danged thing with our thumbs lodged in our quantum glory holes sure doesn’t seem at all comfortable to me." The gruff nova looked at Procyon. “Okay, well, maybe he’d like it, but it sure doesn’t get anything done.” Slowly he hovered to the great weapon and looked at his ‘team’. “Listen up mutants,” He rummaged around his inner coat pocket producing a tattered piece of notebook paper. He had little trouble reading it, but it did little to hone his ‘professional image’. “As a duly designated representative of the City of Chicago, and State of Illinois, I order you to cease any and all unsanctioned quantum activity and return forthwith to your planet, time stream, of origin or to the nearest convenient quantum pocket dimension.” He looked at the corpses floating through space and if he could have, he would have blushed.

“Oops, that was supposed to come first…” His ‘team’ could only stare on in bewilderment while he scanned further down the note. “And, that’s as far as I got.” He crumpled the paper and pitched it over his shoulder and looking at Cosmic Comet who was trying his best not look amused. “What,” Revenant shrugged. “I was in a hurry.” With a huge toothy smile and a wiggle of his eyebrows he amended. “Well, least I’ll sleep knowing I read it. Ya know… gave em their chance an all.”

Quickly his massive fist shot back and abused a bolted seam on the satellite. Digging his finger tips in through the break in the seal he tore a panel off exposing circuitry, gadgetry, and a slew of other technical stuff that was way beyond Revenant’s understanding. “Just as I thought. It ain’t filled with breasts, beer, or breasts filled with beer, so that means I couldn’t give two rancid Gerber squirts what we do with this thing.”

He turned to Mrs. Foster pointing a calloused finger that was bleeding from where he tore off the panel. “If you want evidence, sort through the sh…tuff dang it! we rip out and leave floating for the EPA to have a heart attack over. I have half a mind to throw this thing right back down there and see how many of those gangly apes I can wipe out with it.” The sheer silent volume of how serious he was pulsed off from him like a sonar wave pinging each of those standing around him. He sighed and tried to calm himself. “Let’s just do this already…”

His fist smashed through circuitry as lights strobed and blinked out. “What’re we lookin’ for any way?”

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