Thursday, November 11, 1999

Iron Man #2 - Twin Trouble!


Issue Two: "Twin Trouble!"
November 1999
Written by Mop-Boy and Maximus Prime

Tony Stark: entrepreneur, playboy, millionaire, alcoholic, genius. These are all the labels Tony Stark has had to live with through his life, the names that the public calls him. But there is one label that Tony Stark wears that the public is not aware of--that of the Invincible IRON MAN, warrior and chamipion. For in a world of mutants, superheroes and villains, nothing is as it seems. And in this transformed universe, Tony Stark finds that even that which he thought was the truth is not. For Tony Stark has founded his empire on technology he knows nothing of, and now there is a price to pay. . .

The darkness has many faces. It can be the bearer of peace after long hard day of work. It can be the cloak of evil, hiding it from sight. It can bring happiness from the beauty of a few sparks of colored light, and it can instill fear by the unknown that lurks in it's shadows. It was darkness that allowed George Washington to cross the Delaware unseen. It was the dark that aided in the survival of many Jews, as they hid from the Nazi death squads. And it was also the dark, that gave Thomas Edison the inspiration to the brightest invention of all time. In all of these instances, darkness was not a harbinger of evil. Not an emptiness of life, but a force that can change the world. Many times the darkness will bring about good will and peace...but not this time.

Sarah awoke with a start, her fingers playing across a painfully sensitive area on her cheekbone. She felt the hot, swollen flesh there and wondered how she got it. Her memory returned to her in spurts. . .she had returned from a dinner date with millionaire Tony Stark, had gone to bed. The dog was barking, and suddenly there were men in her room. One of them raised a gun. . .and that must be where this came from, she thought, frowning as she poked at her sensitive cheekbone.

After deciding that she was only causing herself more pain by running her fingers along the bruise, she extended her attentions outward, to her surroundings. The floor underneath her was cold, with the feel of concrete. When she reached out to touch the wall, she felt more stone--this time rough, rounded, as if part of a stylishly set wall.

Not a prison cell, then. A basement?

As she started to stand up, she noticed a tugging on her wrists and ankles. Reaching to them, she found metal bands encasing them, chained to the wall and restricting her movements. This wasn't a normal basement, then. . .she doubted many people had shackles built in to their cellars.

"So, my little red-haired teddy bear. You finally awake."

"Wha--?" Pain flared through the side of Sarah's face as she spoke. "Who's there? Where am I? What do you want with me?"

Laughter, like the tinkling of glass, echoed out of the darkness. "I am called many things by many people, but those who look upon me and live know me as the Raveness."

Faint light appeared in the room, and Sarah blinked back tears from her burning eyes. A woman moved toward her from the other side of the chamber. She wore her black hair cut at the nape of the neck, and her skin was so white it almost seemed to be painted, the porcelain face of a porcelain doll. She was in her late twenties, roughly the same age as Sarah, and she wore a tight leather outfit not unlike what Sarah had seen in pictures of the Goblin Queen's attack on Manhattan years before, though this was decorated with shining, silver metal studs and spikes. Her lips and long fingernails were painted to match the black of the leather, and she displayed piercings in her ears, nose and lips.

"You look like a Jerry Springer sideshow freak." Sarah couldn't believe she could feel the words forming on her lips, spoken with her breath. As she said it, she knew it could only anger this...Raveness. But as soon as she said it, she hardened her face to stone, staring down the woman.

The Raveness did not appear amused. She produced a long, leather whip from a thong at her side, uncurled it lovingly.

Suddenly, the chains binding her were pulled taught, splaying her arms and legs and raising her into the air, upright, exposed, defenseless.

"You have yourself quite a mouth. I think it's time someone taught you how to shut it." She twirled the whip above her head, and swung it down with a crack.



"Oof!", grunted Stark as he fell back on the table. "You have such gentle"

"Danke, Herr Stark.", the obese chiropractor said as she grabbed Tony and flipped him over, onto his stomach like a pancake. "Now hold still!"

"B-b-b-but...", the dashing tycoon tried saying as the dominating German began pelting his back with several heavy massaging chops.

"Just sit still, Mr. Stark! It will be over in a minute." She said as she put him into a headlock and flailed him about.

Tony reluctantly went limp as she tightened her grasp. "That's what I'm afraid of..."

"Mr. Stark, I've got the information you wanted." Pepper Potts walked into the room carrying an armful of papers and folders.

"What?" The confused chiropractor said as she let loose of Stark.

Tony fell to the floor. "Ah, Pepper, how nice to see you," he said as he grabbed a towel and scrambled for the door.

"Hey! Come back here!" Ordered the large body bender as she chased after the fleeing millionaire. "The session isn't over!"

"Quickly, Pepper." Tony calmly said as he took her arm and escorted her out of the room in a fast-paced manner. They left the room with the Jenny Craig-reject fast on their heels. Stark stopped just outside the room with Pepper and slammed the door shut. Just as the door closed, there was a booming THUMP against it, and then a FLUMP as a large body hit the floor.

"Sorry, Tony," Pepper said as she looked at her boss in a confused manner. "Did I come at a bad time?"

"Not at all, Pepper," Tony said as he secured the white towel around his waist. "Your timing is impeccable as always."

Pepper smiled, "Oh good. Well..."

"Whoever it was that recommended Frau 'Poundmeister' in there, have his background investigated and see if he's part of, or ever has been part of a terrorist group," Stark said as he fixed his out-of-place hair. "Oh, and have her rescheduled for a Monday session."

"Ok, but what about your self defense class?" Pepper asked.

"I want her in it. I could use a good sparring partner. And find someone to be my new chiropractor," replied Tony as he stretched his neck.

"Ok, now about Dr. McIntyre..."

"Sarah's a chiropractor?", asked Stark as he began daydreaming. "Well, with those strong arms and delicate hands, she could give a very good massage. It could even be erot..."

"Ahem! I meant I haven't be able to get a hold of Dr. McIntyre on the phone," said Pepper as she fished through the many papers and folders in her arms. "Her office at the University said she hasn't been in all week, and I've called her home number several times but there's no answer."

"Well I'm quite sure she's busy elsewhere," assured Tony as he stroked his mustache. "She's very fit, and looks very limber. She could be working out somewhere, sweating and..."

Potts slapped a manilla folder against Tony's chest to wake him up. "Look. Not that it's any of my business, but a single woman, in this day and age, that has no answering machine at home? She either lives in a tent, or something is wrong."

"Oh!" said Stark as he took the folder. "Yes, I was just thinking the same thing. Maybe I should pay her a visit."

"Good idea," agreed Pepper as she handed him another folder. "Here's her phone number and home address."

"Cancel all of my appointments for the day. Don't worry about calling Charles, I'm going to drive out there myself."

"Yes sir!", Pepper replied. She then mumbled, "I hope she's dead. . ."

"What was that Pepper? I didn't hear you."

"I said 'Go right ahead'!"

"Ah!" said Stark as he open one of the folders. "I wonder what she's doing right now. She probably just forgot to turn her answering machine on and is napping at the poolside."


"Wakies, my sweet." Those words, almost gentle, before the harsh splash of ice-cold water in her face, waking her.

Sarah gasped, spluttering the cold water out of her nose and mouth, angry that she had been awakened after finally drifting into dark, painless oblivion. . .relieved that the water was cold against the burning of the whip-scores on her body.

"What do you want?" Sarah asked, hearing the weakness in her own voice, despising it. The water running off her onto the floor was a dull pink. "Do you want money? I barely have enough to pay my bills!"

The Raveness cocked her head jauntily, as if thinking it over. Smiling, she shook her head. "No, I'm not interested in money. I could be, mind, but not at the moment."

The whip cracked, Sarah screamed.

"Information, then," Sarah gasped. "This is about Sector 17."

"Sector 17 is inconsequential to me. I'm certain you know more about what's going on there than I do. . .but I have the good sense not to involve myself in such matters.

The whip cracked, Sarah screamed anew.

"Tony," she sobbed. "Is this about Mr. Stark?"

The whip cracked, Sarah began to cry, hating herself for it.

"Not about him, either, I'm afraid. If I wanted Tony Stark, I have better ways of pursuing him. ..I wouldn't have gone through all the trouble of buying you."

"Buh. . .buying me?" She was stuttering, now, and once again she was a little girl in front of her second-grade class on show-and-tell day, holding a box of rocks in front of her. She was trying to tell the other children about the different kinds, and they were laughing and snickering about her. "I'm a geologist! I'm not merchandise. . ."

She had tried to keep it in, tried to hold onto that strength her father had so tried to instill in her. . .and she failed. Her thoughts turned to the situation she was in, trapped in a dark basement with an insane woman beating her for no discernible reason, with no one knowing where she was, as though she had crossed into Dante's Inferno itself, and she began not to just stutter or cry, but sob uncontrollably, her chest hitching and tears flowing down her face to burn in her wounds and mix with her blood.

"Please," Sarah begged. "Please, just let me go."

Raveness stared at her with an expression of utmost sympathy and wiped the tears from Sarah's cheeks with the back of her hand. "There, there. Don't cry, my red teddy bear. I'm sorry for being so cruel. Let me make it up to you."

Raveness raised herself up on her toes and, with one hand on Sarah's chin, kissed her.


Stark pulled in front of the doctor's two-story house. He was well aware of where she lived, even though Pepper took the time to even draw out a map to the place. And being Iron Man you really get to know your way around. Pepper seemed very cold, though. She was always cold when she talked with Tony about the women he would get involved with. Tony shrugged and put the parking break on before he turned off the engine. He thought about the other folder Pepper gave him. It had some interesting information about the goings on at this volcano Sarah had been talking about. No topographical maps on the area where this Sector 17 is supposed to be, it was all acquired as government property. Also, the Stark satellites in that hemisphere experienced a very advanced jamming signal when attempting a scan there. As he stepped out of car he noticed that Sarah's front door was wide open. "Looks like she's home," Tony thought to himself. "She must be getting ready to leave."

Tony walked up to the open door and noticed the doorknob had been ripped off. "I get the feeling she's already left." He walked in and looked around. The place had been turned upside down. Books and papers lay scattered across the floor. There wasn't any furniture in the house, save a few fold-up chairs, and a collapsible card table that was laying on it's side. Tony could tell that the furniture hadn't been stolen. It looked more like it was never there to begin with. He heard some noise upstairs. There was a crash, then rustling, like someone looking for something. Stark decided to go check it out.

When the curious tycoon reached the top of the stairs he saw two men, in the room in front of him, dressed in black business suits and ties, pulling out some drawers from a dresser, and dumping the contents all over the floor. Tony thought this odd, but nothing he hasn't seen before.

"Excuse me, gentlemen!" Stark said, causing the two men to stop what they were doing and turn their attention to him. "I hope I'm not intruding, but I seem to be lost. Would you happen to know the way to Dr. McIntyre's residence?"

The two men looked at each other through their sunglasses, and mumbled to each other. Tony heard bits and parts, "Stark...don't kill...Iron Man." They then both looked at Tony as one of them said, "Sorry, Mr. Stark. Dr. McIntyre isn't here. You'll have to leave now."

Tony argued, "I'm afraid that won't be possi..."


Sarah had been a tomboy when she was a many ways, she never grew out of it. Without a mother, her father never had the time or inclination to teacher her very much about "womanly things." When he was around, all Sarah could do was watch him, and learn what he did. The rest of her education came from school, as any other kid. She learned about the birds and the bees from her friends. . .and thus had never had any serious discussions about it. When Sarah was in college, her roomate was always hitting on her, but never tied her up when she was turned down. The first person the geologist had ever slept with was Dennis Franklin, a personal aide for her father just before he died. They had become very close, and because she was only 18, and Dennis was nearly ten years older, they had kept their relationship a secret from her father. In fact, the day both her father and Dennis died in the accident, Dennis had asked for Sarah's hand in marriage, but she would only agree if her father gave his consent. So that afternoon, the three of them sat down to talk, but then the phone rang. The Professor answered it--funny, that she should think of her own father as the Professor--and both he and Dennis ran out to his car and left without explanation. It was a clear, sunny West Coast afternoon when they died.

Sarah thought about her anger at them that day, and opened her eyes to stare at this Raveness who was first beating her, now kissing her. She pulled back from the woman, and slammed her with a headbut that was more painful for her than it was for the Raveness. The Raveness, already off balance, fell to the floor and stared up at Sarah with rage in her eyes.

"You'll PAY for that, pretty!"


"...ble." Tony found himself lying on the front lawn spitting out grass and dirt from his mouth. "Well, that didn't go too well," he said to the nearby ceramic Gnome. "Maybe Iron Man might get better results."

The Gnome said nothing. He just sat on his mushroom winking, with a pipe in his mouth.

"Thanks for the advice." Stark said as he got up and left.


A few hours later the two men in black walked out of the house, empty-handed.

"You boys find what you're looking for?" Iron Man asked as he shadowed them from the sun with his arms crossed.

The dark pair looked at each other for a few moments, then reached into their coats and both pulled out what looked to be little toy guns.

"Aww, they're sooo cute!" mocked Shell-Head. "Seriously, guns?? Please. I'm Iron Man. You've heard of me right?"

The small guns made and escalating high pitched whining sound, then exploded a flash of light into the air.

"I guess not," the armored Avenger said, as he lifted himself from the rubble of the house he had just fallen into. He turned around and looked at the destroyed building. "Bullet-proof, but not phaser proof. When the owners of this house get back from work, they're sure to get a surprise."

The two dark-clothed flunkies ran up to the metal hero, and charged up their pistols another time. This time, however, they didn't get the chance to fire a second time. "Give me those things!" Iron Man grabbed their weapons and threw them into the rubble behind him. "Didn't your mother ever teach you kids not to play with guns?"

The black-dressed duo looked at each other again, and nodded in some sort of agreement. In a few seconds, their clothes and skin split, and fell apart on the ground like shells of some sort. Standing where the two men used to be were two humanoid robots.

"Now, that was the most disgusting thing I've ever seen..." Iron Man said. "...well, almost the most dis..."

One of the robots slammed Iron Man with a left hook, and sent him flailing into another house. He disappeared under the rubble, as the two bots walked up looking for him. They began digging through the debris, throwing broken wood and blocks of cement aside. Suddenly, two red metal hands broke trough the pieces of house and grabbed the droids by their ankles. Iron Man then shot out of the destroyed building, and into the air, carrying the hard-shelled pair.

"Being that you two aren't human, it'll make this a whole lot easier.", he said as he flew over a nearby harbor. He soared high into the air, then released his grip. "Hope you boys can swim! Don't get sunburned!", the chrome dome said as he brushed his hands clean. Then he noticed the two robots flying back up after him. "You two just don't know when to quit...oof!", he grunted as the double team both blasted him with powerful red optical-beams. He fell, and crashed into a nearby shipping warehouse.

"That sure was an eye-sore!" Iron Man said as he climbed out of yet, more rubble. He looked around at all of the harbor workers. "Too many people, and I think I'm bruising from Olga's handiwork. I think it's time I finish this here, and now!"

The two robots landed and rushed Iron Man, as he sat hunched over, looking like he was wounded. The pair of bots got a foot or two away from him, as their eyes began to glow red. "If I didn't know better..." Iron Man started to say as he looked up. "...I'd say you guys were moving in for the kill!" He stuck both of his hands in each of their midsections. "Full power to hand lasers!" he said as the two robots gave each other an 'Uh oh!' look.

Lasers at maximum power, replied Iron Man's onboard computer.

"Just a gut!"

Iron Man's palm blasters flashed for a second, then the two droids exploded into flames, and their pieces scattered across the harbor. He stood upright and turned on his radio. "Miss Potts, this is Iron Man. I need a clean-up crew down at the south bay harbor, and the residence neighborhood of a Dr. Sarah McIntyre. And please contact Mr. Stark and tell him to check out the doctor's home."

"Damage control was dispatched five minutes ago when complaints were phoned in about Iron Man fighting again, destroying property. Y'know, the usual. And as far as Mr. Stark, he won't be able to make it. He's got a dinner with Mr. Dominic Franklin at five.", Pepper replied over the radio.

"Ah yes, Mr. Franklin.", Iron Man mumbled to himself.

"What was that sir?", Pepper asked over the radio.

Iron Man forgot he had left the radio on. "Oh, nothing, Miss Potts. Just leave a message for Mr. Stark that I'm going to do a few more things here, then come back in."


Nearby, a little yellow Volkswagen beetle sat parked along a street curb. A radio inside squawked as a voice talked over it. ". . .and they just went to pieces! Too bad they couldn't pull themselves together!"

"Good work," a voice on the radio replied. "After he leaves, return to base."

"You bet!" replied the voice inside the car. Just then, a police officer walked up and saw the little yellow bug sitting there.

"What a shame," said the officer as he pulled out a booklet of tickets and began writing on one. "Parked next a fire hydrant."

"So that's what that little red thing is!!" the voice in the little sunny car said.

"Wha. . .who said that?", asked the bewildered cop, as he looked around. "I must be losing it! I think it's time I took that vacation the Sarge has been trying to get me to go on!" He finished the ticket, placed it on the small Volkswagen's window, and then walked away.

The car just sat there for a few minutes, then the voice said, "Hey! Fifty dollars? Where am I gonna get that kind of money. . .where am I gonna get any kind of money?"


The Raveness swung her whip again and again until a hand grabbed her wrist and stopped her. "Monica!"

Raveness turned around to see a blond woman dressed in a maid's uniform. "What do you want, Gabrielle? Can't you see I'm busy?"

"Mr. Franklin is looking for you. Mr. Stark is expected in less than an hour for dinner."

"Tony!" Sarah cried out, hopeful and frightened simultaneously.

"Shut up!" The Raveness whirled around, clubbing Sarah over the head with the handle of her whip. White light popped inside Sarah's skull, not unlike a light bulb bursting, and she fell into darkness once again.

NeoKnights #2 - The Third Degree

NeoKnights #2

"The Third Degree"

By Karl V.

"WHAT? ARE YOU NUTS?" Blackrock blew his top as Egavar made the proposal to go to the Ark. The others were not surprised by Blackrock's reaction.

"Sir, this woman claims to know the location of a secret base. One that could be the cause of all the recent problems as of late."

"Look, you just met the gal and your ready to go on a golden goose chase? I mean, have you taken the time to look at her? She's covered head to toe like she has the plague or something."

Blackrock waved his hand up and down in emphasis. Egavar had noticed her odd appearance, but didn't pay much attention to detail at the time. Blackrock was correct, as Egavar saw the woman wearing a long raincoat that drooped down to past her knees, the sleeves covering up her arms, and a big hat that kept her face in its shadow. Of the small parts that were exposed, several odd metallic strips ran across them.

"The man has a point, what's with the shiny stuff babe?" Lee was the only one who raised hubris when Egavar was too quick to allow the woman to follow them back to Blackrock's office.

"As mutants, I don't think you want to hear the answer to that. And, call me babe one more time, and I give you a whole new definition of pain." She said coldly as she raised her head. Her face was covered in spots with the metallic stripping as well.

"Oh, what's that? I suppose you'll tell us resistance is futile." Katrina quipped in the extremely rare agreement of Lee's previous statement.

Josie only gave a stare of complete spite. "You want the truth, fine."

Josie took off the hat and placed it on Blackrock's desk. She disrobed the long raincoat, as a complete metallic uniform was revealed underneath.

"Well, care to explain the getup?" Katrina acted unimpressed by Josie's costume.

Josie gave only a wry smile. "The nanotechnology that runs through my veins is something that I don't want. You see this tape provides a magnetic interference in the nanotech, a nice little side effect is that I get to fly as long as there are ferrous objects around. Not only that, the tape is rather useful in conducting electricity. If anyone were ever severely injured or paralyzed, it would act like a secondary nervous system. But, I don't need it for that. "

Josie shot off a spark for display. The others gave confounded stares.

"Not to be rude, but why didn't you just shock the heck out of the Onex Guard?" Hector decided to be the spokesman for the question on everyone's mind.

"The micro batteries that power the electricity can be drained. It takes awhile for them to recharge. Those five you encountered were originally twenty. "

Blackrock sighed for a moment. "Look, it's obvious you have outstanding expertise in your field of technology. Even though I gave Egavar a lecture, we could use someone like you on the team. I do need to know what the nanotech is meant to do."

Josie lowered her head. "Get the mutants out, because I don't want a fight in your office."

Lee grunted. "I don't know what your beef is against mutants lady, but we can handle whatever you dish out."

Josie glared in rage at Lee. "I NEVER HAD ANYTHING AGAINST MUTANTS. I hated Dr. Sesimen for putting this in me, as he knew I stood for mutant rights. He made me something I've grown to hate. I'm what you would call a sleeper. This suit is to prevent the awakening."

"Come on, you're still speaking in gobbledygook. What the heck is wrong with you already?" Katrina snapped in impatience.

Josie's face flushed red with embarrassment. "I'll give you a real big hint. The nanotechnology was stolen from a man who had Zero Tolerance for mutants."

The biting sarcastic statement made the room became deathly quiet as stares of surprise and loathing were cast upon Josie. The four mutants in the room couldn't help their instincts and took a step back.

"You better not be what I think you are, or else I will have words with you." Katrina said with bitter contempt.

"Dr. Archibald Sesimen made me the worst evil and tainted form of technology on this planet. So have words with him, he's the one that made me a Prime Sentinel. But, I use this suit to shut down every little twisted machine of Dr. Sesimen's, including the ones he put in my body."

"She's a human circuit breaker, how quaint." Katrina grunted in disgust.

"What happens if you remove the tape?" Blackrock seemed like the only one keeping his head above water.

"I don't know. Dr. Sesimen reprogrammed the nanotech. I don't know what he has planned for me. I just know that it's the same nanotech made to make the Prime Sentinels. At least that is what he told me."

Blackrock shot a dark glance at each of the mutants. "All right you four, she doesn't even know if it is the Prime Sentinel nanotech. We do, however, need to confirm what it is exactly, and what it will do if you take off the tape. But, since you're the one with the intricate knowledge of the stuff, you'll have to be an escort of sorts. We shouldn't give out your real name, and I think Katrina said it best. You are a human Circuit Breaker."

Josie grudgingly nodded in agreement. "A bit trite, but good enough for now. And it's better than the Star Trek reference. I'll be happy to show you Dr. Sesimen's lab, just be warned the Onex Elite guards it. The guys that have been running around are just the grunts."

"Great, I suppose better armor, weapons, and experience." Hector quietly stated.

"You got it." Josie replied while pointing her finger to her nose.

"All right, we can make the plans for this after I make my big announcement. I have an important statement to give about my financial backing of a new health care company. I also need to introduce you to someone else, a real major player on my team."

A tall approximately thirty-year-old man entered. His hair was black and his stature gave him away as a man of pride and power.

"Mr. Blackrock, I told you that hiring your own team of mutants was not advised."

Blackrock chuckled a bit. "You know me, I don't always follow your advice. This is my team, the Neo-Knights. Neo-Knights, I want you to meet my lawyer and future Senator, Spike Witwicky."

"You're too much G.B. I'm pleased to meet you all." The man shook each of the team member's hands. He stopped at Josie who didn't extend her hand to return the shake.

"You know those trick hand buzzers? Well, mine has more of a kick to it. The kind of kick that gets you unconscious." Josie created a spark from her hand once more.

Spike didn't waver. "Nonsense, you would shock anyone within a few feet of you from the static electricity. You can turn the power off if you want. Just tell me if you don't want a handshake and skip the convenient lie."

Josie gave a blank stare. "I can see why you hired him."

She extended her hand and gave an extremely brief handshake. He returned it and winked at Josie.

"See, it didn't kill you after all. I suppose you all have code names or something like that. Real Names would help too." Spike stood waiting for his indirect hint and direct request to be acknowledged.

The tall red headed soldier type stepped forward first. "Allow me. I'm the commander of this little brigade. My name is Jean Paul Egavar, also known as Ravage. The big fellow is Lee Gruber known as Impact."

Lee enlarged his hand and made a fist. "For obvious reasons, aye."

"The fair but obnoxious brunette is Katrina Vesotsky, she goes by Rapture. This is due to her ability to enrapture the opponent's mind with vivid fantasies."

"Keep talking mister and I shove one of those horns where the sun don't shine." Katrina sneered at the comment of being a snob.

"The quiet but bold Hector Dialonzo, his alias is Dynamo. He taps into the earth's vast energies. And, I guess our newest acquisition is Josie Beller. She just decided on Circuit Breaker as a name. And that silver suit helps her break more than circuits as she pointed out. "

"Well, thank you. But, I would like to know why they call you Ravage. What mutant power do you posses?"

Egavar changed into his bestial form. His black horns sprouting from his face and long sharp secondary nails extracting from his fingers. "This is about three fourths the reason. The other fourth is my experience in battle."

Spike nodded. "Well, I guess you are more than meets the eye. But enough discussion, I suggest all of you switch back to civilian clothes for the announcement. We have about an hour G.B."

"I can't get out of this tape for a particular reason Mr. Witwicky. I'm afraid I won't be able to make it." Josie smiled at having such a legitimate excuse.

"You're definitely trouble. But, there isn't anything that a little makeup can't handle. I'll have Mr. Blackrock's cosmetic artist cover that metal up. If that's fine with you, G.B."

Blackrock nodded. "All right, you heard the man. Get into civilian attire and meet us down by the podium in an hour. Josie follow me and we'll see what wonders my makeup artist can do."

"Yeah, just look at him." Lee joked.

The Egavar and Hector snickered while even Josie and Katrina cracked a smile.

"Funny Lee, maybe I should look into how I dock you pay." Blackrock flashed a smile as he whimsically retorted.

Lee gave a startled look and wondered if Blackrock was serious or not. Blackrock just smirked and shook his head in an indirect answer to Lee's question.

An hour later….

Blackrock stepped to the several microphones that were placed on the podium. On the big grandstand, the four teammates were seated on his right and his lawyer on his left. A huge rectangular block that was covered by a blue blanket was up above and behind them. Blackrock began to speak as the media started to take notes.

"As you know, there are two sure things that you can place money on, Technology and Health Care. As my esteemed college, Tony Stark has already got the foothold on the technology frontier. Therefore, I have placed my money on one of the many aspects of Health care, Pharmaceutical drug development and research. I would like to present the future of this bold new era."

Blackrock pulled a cover off the block revealing a sign that was placed by the podium. Several cameras flashed as the audience applauded. The sign read: Alchemax Co.

Loud clanking was heard as a woman's voice echoed forth with a metallic twinge. "You're dead meat Blackrock."

"WHO?" Blackrock looked as a woman came up to the podium. She was covered head to toe with metal junk.

"I ain't no Junkpile, so you can call me Amalgama." She leaped up by Blackrock with a thud.

She grabbed him by the throat and whispered in his ear. "You done good G.B. Mr. Boone is happy, now it's time to…"

"DREAM!" Katrina yelled as Amalgama was hit with Rapture's psionic attack.

She stood, crime lord over all men, as they bowed and kissed her feet. She smiled in ultimate bliss as her benefactor knelt before her and she quickly gave him a swift kick in the jaw. He fell unconscious as she…


"Damn…she has adamantium in there…" Impact shook his hand as it shrunk back down.

"Someone rang?" The female bundle of scrap metal turned to face Impact, while shaking off her induced dream.

"Yes, the death knoll tolls for you." Circuit Breaker powered up a charge and shot it at Amalgama.

Amalgama shrieked in sheer pain as she fell from the jolting shock.

"Cripes, you didn't have to kill her, aye." Impact rushed to where the woman fell.

Dynamo and Egavar instantly took to crowd control as panic took hold of the press personnel. Blackrock glared at Josie then turned his attention to the woman.

"What did you do?" Blackrock jumped to the woman's side and then frantically checked the crowd.

"She'll live. It's that time traveler you are worried about. Isn't it?" Circuit Breaker scanned the screaming masses for a solitary figure.

"How did you know?" Blackrock snarled with rage.

Circuit Breaker shook her head. "I was able to get some information about every player in the grand scheme of things. I learned about Jordan Boone when I was Sesimen's assistant. Was he the one who blackmailed you into creating this?"

"No, I had plans before but he told me how Alchemax would run this country into the ground, in his future. I didn't want anything on my hands; even with the slightest possibility that is was true. He blackmailed me into continuing with my original plan."

"Didn't pay your taxes or something?" Impact looked at Blackrock with a bit of lost respect.

Blackrock looked up and shook his head. "He had information that I was one of many anonymous backers of the Xavier Institute. Information like that could have destroyed me, with all these anti-mutant lobbyists around."

"Well, it don't matter now. Circuit Breaker was right, the heavy metal chick is still breathing. I guess she didn't bang her head too hard after all, aye." Impact smirked at his pun.

"L…Impact, no time for jokes. Where's Spike?" Blackrock looked around in concern.

"You idiot, you can't keep anything straight!" Spike yelled from afar.

"What is wrong with you? Oh no…"

Blackrock watched as his assistant morphed into a green ghoulish figure.

"This just proves that you don't know Jack." The crook gave a wicked smile as he displayed his pristine white teeth then cackled with delight as he disappeared into the crowd.

"That goblin the one blackmailing ya?" Impact asked the obvious.

"He goes by the name of Halloween Jack. He claims to be from the future, a hundred years from now. He can change his form at will, as you saw. " Blackrock noted with spite.

"Yeah, just peachy. At least we caught his merc. I'll make sure she'll talk." Impact clenched his bruised fist.

"First, we get her and you to the doctor, then we can interrogate. I'm sure Jack will be back, it's a guaranteed bet." Blackrock went looked up to see that Egavar and Hector standing with blank faces as the crowd seemed to disappear into thin air.

"I'm fine, just bruised. I just gotta train myself on some of the denser metals." Impact rubbed his hurt hand.

"Try hitting your own head, nothing is thicker than that." Rapture quipped as she walked up closer to the pair.

"Rapture, can you use your powers on several people?" Blackrock noticed the crowd was still trampling over each other.

She sighed. "I've tried before but the effect is lessened with the more amount of people."

"DREAM!" Rapture yelled, as the crowd stood motionless for a second.

Blackrock stood up and made an announcement. "People, the situation is over. The matter has been resolved. Please, continue to calmly go about your business."

They shook their heads as they heard Blackrock's announcement and wondered what had happened. Each simply assuming a mutant attack caused their situation; they dispersed while shaking their heads from the effects of Rapture's psionic blow.

"That went well." Blackrock sighed in relief.

Egavar walked up to Blackrock. "Are you going to tell us what just happened here?"

"Some loon from the future was blackmailing him to make this company a sure thing. He's a shape shifter, so it would be pointless to check the crowd." Impact bluntly stated.

"I guess that's the real reason why you wanted a team of mutants." Egavar looked at Blackrock for an answer.

Blackrock shook his head. "No, the reason for the pressure pills though. I swear that I didn't hire you guys to protect me from my own problems. I hired you to protect my assets."

"I think you got it the other way around. You didn't hire us to protect your property, you hired us to protect your ass." Rapture fumed in anger.

Blackrock grunted in frustration. "Look, I'll be more open with anything that might affect you guys in the future. That's all I can promise."

"Fine, you do that, after we take the tin woman to get her new heart. She'll probably need one after Circuit Breaker's little shock therapy session."

"I ain't in the scrap heap yet, girlie." The female mutant coughed up a bit of smoke as she began to get up.

"How the heck?" Rapture stated as the metal woman coyly smiled.

She simply shoved the others out of the way as she quickly ran off into the horizon. The others continued to stare in amazement as they watched her go.

"You knew she could take that didn't you?" Rapture asked the silent Circuit Breaker who was levitating overhead.

No reply was given as Circuit Breaker slowly descended down.

"Never mind her. I guess we got to find your lawyer friend. Obviously, that freak has him in captivity." Rapture pointed out the obvious.

Blackrock practically doubled over at the statement. "Oh no, Spike! Carly will not be happy about this."

"Carly?" Hector wondered about the name that Blackrock had dropped.

"His wife, she won't be happy to know a mutant has taken him hostage." Blackrock said with dread.

"Gee, don't care to much for you lawyer friend, ay?" Impact asked.

"Jack is more of a blackmailer then a murderer. I doubt he would honestly hurt Spike, but we do need to rescue him before I am proven wrong."

"I guess raiding Dr. Sesimen's lab will have to be put off for now." Circuit Breaker finally spoke upon Blackrock's statement.

"Yes, I'm afraid so. " Blackrock apologetically stated.

"Fine, I will go by myself." Circuit Breaker flew off into the horizon.

Impact shook his head. "She's got curves but she ain't much of a team player."

Rapture rolled her eyes and grunted in disgust.

Egavar spoke up. "I can track Circuit Breaker with my heightened senses. I'll go after her and you three can handle Halloween Jack and Amalgama."

"Gee, thanks for the enthusiasm Sarge." Rapture crossed her arms across her front.

"I was an officer, not enlisted." Egavar snapped back.

"Enough, all of you!" Blackrock shouted at the top of his lungs, "I'm the one signing your paychecks, so you better listen to me!"

They stood quiet as they turned to look at Blackrock.

"Now, Egavar I want you to track Halloween Jack and find Spike, and take Rapture with you. Dynamo and Impact can go after Circuit Breaker."

Egavar looked irate at the decision and was almost inclined to argue the point. "Fine, but I don't approve."

"Your disapproval is noted, and is too bad. According to your military standards, I’m your commanding officer now." Blackrock boldly stood up to the tall red headed man.

"Yes, sir." Egavar saluted with a bit a cold sarcasm.

"Now, go quickly before someone is hurt. And be careful. I'll handle Carly, and believe me when I say this. It will be as difficult as what you guys are about to do."

Blackrock walked off to tell Spike's wife the news as the teammates split up to complete their assigned tasks.

Halloween Jack entered his hideout twirling and laughing as a bound man grunted at his entrance.

"I don't suppose you are going to let me go, are you?" He spoke with bitterness.

Jack only smiled. "Why should I do that? I've told you everything you need to know. Even more than you could imagine."

"I don't believe what you have told me. It can't be true." The man shook his head in denial.

Jack hideously laughed. "Oh please. The history of the Armageddon of Heroes was lost, and I know what most likely caused it! I mean it's kind of hard to miss these guys. No wonder a great extent was went to cover it up."

"Look, I don't care who you are or what you think. Blackrock will send people to rescue me, that's for sure."

"Mr. Witwicky, I already met some of Blackrock's motley crew. Especially, that highly addictive babe that gave me such a nice dream. It's no wonder she is called Rapture. Poor Domino will just have to suffer the loss of being without me. I guess everything doesn't fall into place for her after all."

Spike shook his head once more. "You are one sick puppy."

Jack morphed into a small puppy and made a sarcastic coughing sound. "Your request is granted!"

Spike rolled his eyes. "Let me have my one call. It will be to a vet."

Jack morphed back into his ghoulish form and put a pointed nail to Spike's chin. "You're quite good with the wit. I'll be waiting for Blackrock's mutant friends to come and try to save the day, and I'll let them. I just thought someone else besides me should share the wealth of information that I managed to obtain. Besides, I'm just here to ensure my own future, and I've already guaranteed that."

Spike hesitated to add another comment, as he wanted to return home to his wife and four-year-old kid.