Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Heroes for Hire #4 - And the Verdict is...

Heroes for Hire #4

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!

"And the verdict is...."

Written by: Wes A.


Mr. Basset poured himself a cup of coffee from the coffee machine in the lounge of the Bransteg building. After he was done pouring the coffee, he added three sugars. Usually he only took two, but today was proving to be a bit of a stressful day. He took a sip from the mug and let out a sigh of approval. The extra sugar was definitely helping him calm down a bit.

After a few more drinks of his coffee, Mr. Basset left the lounge. He left to another level of the building, to a sort of "ready room". When he entered, he found five men putting on suits of armor. Four of the men had armor that was very similar in design, but one had armor like the kind the Guardsmen had at the Vault*(*A type of prison of super-criminals-Wes). Except his armor was a more advanced version. The man in the Guardsman armor turned to Basset as he entered.

"Ah, Mr. Elkins. I trust your trip here was a pleasant one?" Mr. Basset asked the man.

"Yes sir, it was."

"Good, good." said Basset with a smile.

"Excuse me sir, but how long is this going to take? We DO have another job to be getting back to." said one of the other men.

The man in the Guardsman armor turned and gave the other man a hard glare. Mr. Basset merely smiled.

"Don't worry Whysper. I'm well aware of your mission against the Thunderbolts. But with no recent sightings of them, your superiors didn't object to you all getting the chance to sharpen your skills further."

"We'll do our best Mr. Basset." said the Guardsman.

"I expect nothing less Sentry. Now, on to your assignment."

With that, Basset turned to a TV in the room. Basset turned it on and on the screen was footage from newscasts of the Heroes for Hire in action. This new-bit showed the Heroes battling Orca and Killer-Shrike on a battleship in New York Harbor**(**this scene is from Heroes for Hire #4-Wes).

"These are your targets gentlemen. We recently hired them for a job. Some secret files were stolen from us, so we hired them to get the files back, which they did. But they were recently attempting to break into our computer system to retrieve those files for themselves. We'd like you five to take the Heroes down so that they can be convicted for their crimes."

"Don't worry Mr. Basset," said Sentry "the Jury will bring them down."


At Oracle Inc., the Heroes for Hire were gathered in their meeting room. Also in attendance was Jennifer Walters, better known to the world as She-Hulk. Jennifer was hired on as the group's lawyer, nothing more. Occasionally she did lend a hand on missions, but that was a rare occurrence. Right now though, she wasn't a very happy camper.

"I don't know which is more unbelievable. The fact that Bransteg is lying about having government affiliations, or that you guys tried to hack into their computer system." said Jennifer.

"Jennifer, they're hiding something. We KNOW they are." replied Jim.

"So you hacked into their security system? Jim, you guys could be thrown into jail for something like this."

"I contacted S.H.I.E.L.D., we have their full support in dealing with this matter. And as soon as we give them a shout, they'll come charging in with the Calvary."

"I think we may have a more pressing concern here." said Danny. "Bransteg knows we're on to them. If we are going to make a move, we have to do it soon, before they do it first."

Jim sighed. "You're right Danny. Ok team, get ready. You move out within half an hour."

The rest of the team nodded in agreement and left to prep themselves for battle.


"This appears to be the correct address." he thought to himself.

He checked again, just to be sure. It was indeed the right address. Now the only problem was what to do now? It was one thing to get there, but quite another to make his move. He was one hundred percent sure that nobody knew of his presence. All the equipment was still in working order and he made sure to test it out beforehand. Granted, this mission wasn't exactly in his orders, but he knew that it was important.


His sensor just detected five bogeys, headed by air towards the Oracle building. Suddenly, it seemed like the timetable may have to be pushed ahead.


"Ready for some action Scott?" Luke asked as they approached their aircraft in Oracle's landing bay.

"You bet."

Scott just put on his helmet and his little Deviant flew up onto his shoulder. Luke raised his eyebrow.

"Isn't it kinda weird ridin' around on that little dragonfly-whatever it is?"

Scott nonchalantly shook his head.

"After a while you get used to it. Besides, this little guys a lot faster than an Ant any day of th-"

Scott's sentence was cut-off by the ceiling of the landing bay was caved in. Rubble came raining down onto the ground. Luke and Scott looked up to see the Jury hovering in mid-air. Sentry was using the flight boots built into his suit. Whysper, Bomblast, Firearm, and Ramshot all had small flight disks attached to the bottoms of their feet.

"HEROES FOR HIRE! Stay where you are! You are being placed under custody of the Jury, for the crime of stealing top-secret files from the Bransteg company and the U.S. government! Come along quietly and no harm shall come to you!" ordered Sentry.

"What was that Danny said about moving out before they made the first move?" Scott whispered to Luke.

"You've had enough time! Put your arms up!" barked Sentry.

Scott moved forward.

"Listen, you've got-"

"Get 'em!"

Several energy beams suddenly shot out at Scott. Scott quickly leaped out of the way, landing roughly on the floor.

"Aw well." shrugged Luke as he picked up a piece of rubble from the roof and flung it at the attackers.

The Jury quickly evaded the piece of debris and took the offensive. Sentry, Bomblast, and Ramshot went after Luke while Firearm and Whysper took on Ant-Man. Sentry fired a Repulsor blast at Luke. Luke's skin merely absorbed the brunt of the blast, but Luke was knocked to his knees. Sentry dove at Luke, fists first. At the last second, Luke grabbed Sentry's wrists and flung him at Ramshot. The two armored fighters smashed into each other, both of them colliding with the ground.

"Try this!" said Bomblast as he shot a plasma bolt from his large cannon.

Luke took the full force of the hit and was thrown clear off his feet. He skidded several feet on the floor before he got back up.

Meanwhile, Whysper and Firearm closed in on Ant-Man. Whysper shot a sonic blast, but Ant-Man shrank down to miniscule size and avoided the hit. The two Jury members looked around.

"Where'd he go?" asked Firearm.

"He must have shrunk himself. It'll probably be impossible to find him now." said Whysper.

While the two were looking around, Ant-Man was carried by his Deviant right behind the two men in armor. Ant-Man aimed his gauntlets at Whysper and fired at full force. The sting hit Whypser and he was thrown to the ground. Firearm activated his armor and his forearms became surrounded with flames. He searched for any sign of Ant-Man, but was also met with a sting blast.

Sentry and Ramshot got up and began to power-up their weapons.

"Got us good that time." said Ramshot.

"Yeah, he did," said Sentry with venom in his voice "we better finish these two off before the others come looking for them."

"Too late for that."

Sentry and Ramshot turned to see Iron Fist, White Tiger, Black Knight, and She-Hulk. Both sides looked at each other for a second then broke off into their own attacks. Ramshot fired the small vibration-cannons he had built on his gloves at Black Knight while Sentry took to the air. Black Knight's shield absorbed the blast, channeling it into his sword. Sentry shot a Repulsor blast at Iron Fist and White Tiger. The two martial artists evaded the blast with ease. She-Hulk used her leg muscles to leap at Sentry. She collided with Sentry and both fell to the earth.

"White Tiger, help Black Knight with Ramshot, I'm going to help Ant-Man." ordered Iron Fist.

White Tiger nodded in agreement. Black Knight shot his energy blast out of his sword at Ramshot, causing him to lower his defenses. White Tiger leapt in and used her claws to slash at Ramshot's armor. She followed up with a series of savage punches and jabs before Ramshot knocked her away. Black Knight then launched an offensive attack, taking Ramshot by surprise. As the two fought, White Tiger recovered to help Black Knight double-team his foe.

"Give up now and you won't get hurt." said Whysper.

"Yeah, right." thought Ant-Man.

By now, Whysper and Firearm recovered from the sting blasts. Firearm configured his armor to pick up Ant-Man's body heat and the two Jury members were throwing blasts at him left and right. It took all of Ant-Man's skill and the Deviants speed to keep from getting blasted to pieces.

"He's tiring. One more shot should get him." said Firearm.

He aimed another blast when his shoulders were grabbed from behind and he was flung backwards. Before he knew it he found himself on his back, looking up at Iron Fist.

"I'd ask for an explanation, but I have the feeling you'd just tell me to 'give up and I won't be hurt.'"

Whysper aimed a blast at Iron Fist's back and fired. Iron Fist heard the blast being fired and backflipped out of the way. While in the air, he charged his fist with chi power and when he landed in front of Whysper, he let his fist smash into the armor warrior. Whysper was then hit by a roundhouse kick.


Whysper doubled over and was hit with an uppercut by Iron Fist. Not far away, Luke was smashing Bomblast with his powerful fists. Without being double-teamed anymore, Luke was holding his own quite well.

"You think you can beat us?" asked Bomblast spitefully.

"Mama didn't raise a quitter." responded Luke.

Bomblast then aimed his cannon at Luke and fired, knocking Luke into a wall. Luke tried to get up but only got as far as his knees. He grunted as he got to his feet once again.

"She might've raised a loser though."

Luke's eyes saw red. Before Bomblast knew what happened, Luke was flying through the air and had tackled him to the ground. After pinning Bomblast, Luke laid blow after blow into the armored Jury member.

"Suddenly, I'm starting to regret this job." thought Bomblast.

Bomblast finally managed to get Luke off by using his plasma cannon as a club. Luke came tumbling off and Bomblast did a check of his armor. He had taken heavy damage and it was doubtful that he could last much longer.

"Don't you bad guys learn? Storming the good guys headquarters is an invite for a butt-kicking." said She-Hulk.

Sentry threw a punch at She-Hulk, but it was blocked. She-Hulk laid a left punch into Sentry's torso. The blow left a small dent in Sentry's armor. Lashing out, Sentry laid a punch of his own into She-Hulk, hitting her square in the jaw. The blow only had a momentary effect however and She-Hulk quickly retaliated with several hits of her own.

"If you think you can get away with stealing top-secret information, you're wrong!" said Sentry.

With that said, Sentry hit She-Hulk with another hit. She took an involuntary step back and sighed to herself.

"You ever think of checking into your bosses 'top-secret' project with......oh, I don't know....the government maybe?" she asked.

Her response was another hit to her face. She-Hulk quickly responded with a hit of her own. She began to lay into Sentry with some her most powerful hits. Sentry got in some of his own, but it didn't make up for the beating he was taking at the hands of the jade giantess.

"My armor wasn't designed to take this kind of beating." he thought to himself.

Finally, Sentry took to the air and shot a Repulsor blast at She-Hulk. She was hit hard and hit the floor. Sentry quickly surveyed the battlescene and found that the Jury was losing. Bomblast had sustained heavy damage, the others were barely holding their own, and he knew that he couldn't take on She-Hulk. The mission was doomed to failure unless they evacuated immediately. Sentry patched into the Jury's Comm channel, built into each member's helmet.

"Jury, prepare to retreat! I repeat, prepare to retreat!"

The others had quickly gotten away from their opponents. Firearm swooped in to pick up the badly damaged Bomblast. The armored warriors were headed out through the hole in the ceiling when they found themselves at the ends of two-dozen gun barrels belonging to S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. Each agents was armed to the teeth with various weaponry and had a flight suit on. Accompanying the agents was half a dozen S.H.I.E.L.D. Mandroids. In the lead was none other than S.H.I.E.L.D. commander G.W. Bridge.

"Do yourselves a favor boys, and come along quietly." said Bridge.

Down below, Iron Fist's face broke into a smile.


"So how did you guys know we needed the assist, G.W.? And don't tell us you were just 'in the neighborhood'."

Bridge smiled at Danny.

"After Hammond informed us of Bransteg's suspicious activities, we decided to keep an eye on them. Shortly after we handed the case over to you guys, we found out that the Jury had been called away from their Thunderbolt hunt and been temporarily hired by Bransteg. It doesn't take a Reed Richards to guess what assignment the Jury would be given."

After Bridge and his team showed up, the Jury promptly surrendered themselves. They gave their side of the story and were willing to take responsibility for their actions. The heroes hadn't taken any major wounds during the battle. Right now, they were discussing plans with Bridge.

"So what'll happen to the Jury?" asked Jim.

"Well, there'll be an investigation, but my guess is that they won't be punished very severely. Bransteg did pull the wool over their eyes. But the sooner we can bust Bransteg, the better."

Danny nodded.

"I think it is time we settled with Bransteg. The fact that they sent the Jury proves they're hiding something, and they're afraid that we know it."

"So what're we waiting for, let's go get 'em." said Dane.


"YOU IDIOT!!" yelled Morden.

He backhanded Basset and the man went to the ground. Basset wiped a trickle of blood from his mouth and stood up to face Morden once again. Morden's eyes were like daggers, shooing out at Basset.

"What were you thinking?" asked Morden with restrained anger.

"I was thinking of the safety of this project." stated Basset.

"Well now thanks to you, our cover has been blown for sure. We might as well just invite every super-powered do-gooder on the face of the Earth in now."

"Just because the Jury hasn't reported in yet doesn't mean-"

"SHUT UP! Thanks to you, we'll have to shut down and try to move it elsewhere. I'll contact the Overseer and arrange for some security, just in case our enemies arrive before we've moved. You get everyone in this facility ready to leave as soon as possible. Can you do that without screwing up?"

Basset just nodded. Morden turned and left the control room, on his way to contact his superiors. He hoped he caught them in a good mood.

Next Issue: The Heroes for Hire pay a visit to Bransteg's headquarters......

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