Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Heroes for Hire #2 - Regroup

Heroes for Hire #2

Iron Fist - martial arts master raised in the mystic city of K'un Lun! Luke Cage - street-tough private eye with super-strength and steel-hard skin! Black Knight - man of science armed with weapons of sorcery! White Tiger - acrobatic feline fighter created by the High Evolutionary! Ant-Man - scientific genius with the ability to shrink to miniscule sizes! Together, they make the Heroes for Hire - an organization devoted to righting wrongs for a price!


Written by: Wes A.


"I'm late." thought Danny Rand.

He walked through the entryway to the fancy restaurant before him. He straightened out the bow tie on his tuxedo and went in. When he got inside, he took a look around the restaurant to find who he was looking for. Then he spotted her: Misty Knight. She was sitting at a candle lit table, dressed in a beautiful black dress. She saw Danny and smiled as he rushed over to the table.

"I'm sorry, traffic was just awful through midtown." he apologized.

"It's ok." she smiled.

Misty had known Danny for several years. The two had an on/off relationship. Currently, the relationship was in the "on" stage. Misty was a detective for the New York Police, and had a bionic arm attached when she lost her real arm.

The two sat down and began to look through their menus. After a few minutes, they ordered their food. When the waiter left, they began to talk.

"So how was work today?" Danny asked Misty.

"Picked up a few burglars, murders, drug dealers. Same old thing. You?"

"Couldn't be better. We got the check from that Bransteg assignment we had. Jim's deciding what charity to donate it to."

"Any requests?" asked Misty as she sipped her water.

"Well, Luke wanted us to give the money to help rebuild some of downtown Manhattan. Scott wanted the check to go to the foundation for Gamma research. Dane and I almost had to tie them down before they knocked each other's heads off." finished Danny with a grin.

Misty gave a chuckle.

"And people call you heroes."

"Hey!" said Danny, smiling.


The man known at Mr. Morden was pleased. He stood atop a catwalk at a Bransteg lab, and below him were dozens of Bransteg technicians and scientists working around three large tables, each one with the remains of a Battloid on it. The crews started working on rebuilding the Battloids right after the remains were retrieved from the Hydra base in the Rocky Mountains. That incident happened nearly a week ago.

"Mr. Morden!" came a voice.

Mr. Morden didn't bother to turn his attention away from the scene below. He could hear Mr. Basset rushing towards him on the catwalk.

"I'm sorry I wasn't here to greet you. I wasn't informed you'd be...stopping by." said Basset.

"I let myself in." said Mr. Morden, still keeping his eye on the repair of the Battloids.

"Yes, I'm sure you did." mumbled Basset, low enough to hope Mr. Morden wouldn't hear him.

Basset underestimated Mr. Morden's hearing abilities. Mr. Morden turned to Basset and gave him a cold look.

"I came here to check up on your progress, Mr. Basset. wanted to be sure that the project was proceeding according to plan. We lost precious time with the Hydra incident. Time that we have to make up for, soon. Am I clear on that, Mr. Basset?"

"Y-yes sir." said Basset more than slightly afraid.

Hearing this, Mr. Morden smiled.


A chill ran down Basset's spin. Seeing Mr. Morden smile was scary to say the least.

"Perhaps you'd like a rundown on the progress of the Battloids while you're here?" Basset asked Mr. Morden with a nervous smile.

"Unnecessary" said Mr. Morden, "I've already spoken to Dr. Nordstrom. He's given me a very thorough run-down. Now if you'll excuse me, I'll be on my way."

With that, Mr. Morden turned to make his exit. He only walked a few steps before he turned back to Basset.

"By the way, we must keep Dr. Nordstrom around. He's quite good at his work. He'll be very useful to us in the future."

Basset nodded, and Mr. Morden finished making his exit. He exited the Bransteg building, taking a moment to admire the sunny day. He then proceeded to the limo waiting for him. He sat in the back seat and closed the door.

"Take us back home." he told the driver.

As the driver began to pull out of the Bransteg parking lot, Mr. Morden reached into a pocket inside his business jacket. He withdrew a small remote and hit a button. Before his eyes, a mid-sized screen slid into view from the back of the driver's seat. Static filled the screen for a second, then a shadowed figure appeared, with glowing red eyes.

"You have completed your inspection?" asked a voice that definitely wasn't human.

"Yes, I have. According to Nordstrom's estimates, the Battloid's will be operational again in about three to five weeks. After that, we can begin building the Battloid's at a faster pace." finished Mr. Morden.

"Excellent." said the shadowy figure, "I shall inform the others. Report again at the appointed time."

"Understood." said Mr. Morden with a nod.

With that, the screen went blank and slid out of view back into the back of the driver's seat. Mr. Morden put the small remote back into his pocket, then turned his head to gaze out one of the limo's windows.

"I love nice days." said Mr. Morden with a smile.


Back at Oracle Inc., Jim Hammond sat in his office. He was behind his desk while his secretary was reading over the appointments for the week.

"....and you have a meeting with Mrs. Walters tomorrow at noon. Shall I make reservations at any restaurant?" she asked.

"Yes, make reservations at that one Chinese restaurant she likes...what's its name again? Oh, yes. The Hunan Garden." replied Jim.

"Alright." said the secretary as she wrote it down in her notebook.

"Is there anything else?" asked Jim.

"No, Mr. Hammond."

"Good. Now if you'll excuse me, my dear." said Jim with a smile.

After his secretary left, Jim turned to the computer on his desk. He typed a special code into a keyboard off to the right of the computer. On the screen came up the words: "Communications contact establishing, please stand by...."

Jim relaxed for a few moments, then the screen flickered, and a man appeared on the screen. He looked in his mid-forties, with black skin, white hair and white goatee. He also had on a blue uniform, that worn by S.H.I.E.L.D. officers. This man wore the rank of a high commander. The man's name was G.W. Bridge.

"Hammond! What do you want?" asked Bridge gruffly.

Jim let out a chuckle.

"What's the matter Bridge, not happy to see me? I thought you'd appreciate a break from all that important government paperwork."

"Very funny Hammond. Now why don't you go try and find some work for that band of mercenaries of yours."

Hammond just smiled.

"Actually Bridge, I called for a specific reason. I wanted to know if you got any info out of those Hydra agents we helped you guys catch up in the Rockies."

Bridge just stared at Jim for a moment.

"Hammond, what in the Sam Hill are you talking about?" asked Bridge with a confused look on his face.

"You know, the Hydra agents that stole those Battloids from Bransteg Incorporated." asked Jim, suddenly feeling a bit uneasy.

"No, I don't know, Hammond. What would S.H.I.E.L.D. be doing working with a company like Bransteg?" asked Bridge.

Now that uneasy feeling Jim had was worse, a lot worse. Jim leaned toward the screen a bit.

"You mean to tell me that S.H.I.E.L.D. hasn't been working with Bransteg during the past few months to develop weapons?" asked Jim suspiciously.

"Hammond, if we were making weapons of ANY kind, I'd know about it."

Jim leaned back in his chair, his brow furrowed and a puzzled look on his face. Suddenly, a lot of things weren't making sense. "So do you want to fill me in on this story or not?!" demanded Bridge.

Jim turned back to the screen.

"G.W., I think life's about to get a whole lot more complicated."


In his lab at Oracle Inc., Scott Lang was busy working on his computer. He was reviewing the data on the Battloids that Bransteg had been building. When Scott took a glimpse at the data from the Hydra base, something about the technology seemed odd .

"Ok, let's see what we can find." Scott murmured to himself.

He scrolled through the Battloid schematics. He was impressed by them to say the least. The main computer that operated the Battloids was one of the most advanced systems he had ever seen . Although main-performing commands had to be given, the Battloids could make simple decisions on their own. This seemed to be tied with a complex program designed for use in battle. Scott decided to take a closer look at the combat programs. It appeared that the combat programs somehow enabled the Battloids to predict what their enemy may do next. The Battloids could study how an opponent fights in battle, and use that data to help predict what the opponent's next moves would be.

"They can adapt." whispered Scott in astonishment.

Scott then realized that the Battloids were more than just robots. They seemed to border on artificial intelligence itself. Scott suddenly had a bad feeling.


"So let me get this straight! You took all the money you made back in the time of the original Heroes for Hire....and bought a THEATRE???"

Luke smiled at the expression on Dane's face.

"Well not ALL of it. I mean, how do you expect to pay for take-out every week?" answered Luke with a smile.

Dane and Luke where at a bar downtown. With Danny out to dinner with Misty and Scott busy in his lab, Luke snagged Dane to go get a drink. Dane was asking Luke about the old days of the original Heroes for Hire, back when the team was just Luke and Danny.

"But why a theatre?" asked a confused Dane.

"Back when I was in prison, movies were the only thing that kept me goin'. They were the one thing that made me feel like something more than a caged animal. So when me and Danny shutdown Heroes for Hire, I bought that old theatre downtown. I treat her good, and she treats me good."

There was a moment of silence between the two. Dane didn't know what to say. He always pictured Luke as some guy off the street. But as was finding out over the past few months, there was much more to Luke Cage than meets the eye.

The moment was interrupted by a sudden boom from outside. Luke and Dane immediately noticed.

"Sounded close." said Dane.

The two rushed outside to see a wave of police cars rushing down the street. Luke and Dane turned to each other.

"Trouble." they said simultaneously.


"Your rampage stops here villain!" came a thundering voice.

The voice belonged to none other than Hercules, the Prince of Power. Hercules stood in the middle of a downtown street, right across from the large figure of Crusher Creel, the Absorbing Man. Absorbing Man stood several feet from Hercules, his wrecking ball and chain ready to strike. Hercules was on his way to Avenger mansion when he saw the Absorbing Man robbing a federal truck with several tons of gold bars in it. The two had been going at it for the past half-hour.

"Come and get me Herc." taunted Creel.

Hercules lunged at Crusher, only to be hit by Creel's wrecking ball and thrown into a nearby barber shop across the street.

"You heroes go for anything." taunted Creel as he moved in on Hercules' location.

"What can I say, we're gullible." came a voice behind Creel.

"What th-"

As Creel turned around, he was greeted with a right hook to the jaw. Now it was Creel's turn to go flying. Hercules got out of the wreckage of the barber shop and saw Luke Cage and Black Knight, in their costumes, standing where Creel was.

"Ho good friends! Long has it been since we last fought side by side." greeted Hercules as he ran to his comrade's side.

"Too long." said Dane.

"No time like the present to catch up." said Luke, flexing the fist he used just a moment ago.

Creel got up and readied his wrecking ball for another swing.

"Three on one, huh? No problem. I've gone toe-to-toe with the entire team of Avengers. You guys ain't gonna be that tough."

The heroes got into battle stances. Creel charged them, his wrecking ball swinging wildly over his head, and a bloodthirsty look in his eyes. Luke just stared as Creel charged.

"Come get some." he said coolly.


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