17235/Heroes Assemble 4th Anniversary: The Watchers

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Heroes Assemble 4th Anniversary: The Watchers
Date of Scene: 24 February 2024
Location: Near Earth Orbit asteroid, and various times and places on Earth
Synopsis: For the four year anniversary of Heroes Assemble Mush, Uatu the Watcher again hosts some of his colleagues to share what he has witnessed over the last two years of events on a small blue planet called Earth.
Cast of Characters: Uatu the Watcher, Kitty Pryde, Michael Hannigan, Gwen Stacy, Cain Marko, Monet St. Croix, Peter Parker, Steve Rogers, Emma Frost, Natasha Romanoff, Audra Meridian, Harley Quinn, Mary Jane Watson, Stephanie Brown, Roy Harper, Roxanne Spaulding, Alura In-Ze, Lois Lane, Clark Kent, Talia al Ghul, Cable, Marc Slayton, Daisy Johnson, Frank Noble, Alfred Pennyworth, Sharon Smith, Donna Troy, Kiana, Jinx, Warren Worthington, Colette O'Connail, Barry Allen, Dick Grayson, Jean Grey, Kurt Wagner, Kian, Austin Reese, Oliver Queen, Felicity Smoak, Richard Stadler, Cassandra Cain

Uatu the Watcher has posed:

The sun was but a small yellow dot, but bright beyond imagining. Nearer, the Earth looked but a small blue ball set among the stars.

The asteroid had floated for millions of years, undisturbed and unvisited, but for once, two years ago this very day. At the agreed on time, tall cloaked forms shimmer into existence. Taller than a man by half again, wearing deep blue cowled robes, the three Watchers form a semi-circle.

An ancient race whose generosity with their technology had led to the extermination of a less advanced race, the Watchers vowed a strict policy of non-interference going forward. Only observing and compiling knowledge.

A fourth form shimmers into existence shortly after the other three. This one has the appearance of that of an older man, with greying hair and a bristly moustache. He's wearing an orange NASA space suit and a clear helmet, with dark glasses behind it as if against the brightness of the distant sun.

The illusion is not enough to fool his brethren. They know him immediately as Uatu, the Watcher assigned to Terra. Uatu settles onto a rocky perch on the asteroid, as if feeling the old bones that his appearance would possess.


Uatu the Watcher has posed:
"Uatu," one of the Watchers says. "Two more orbits of Terra about its sun have concluded. We have come to hear firsthand of the actions on this planet the humans call Earth," the ancient being says.

Uatu breaks out in an expression that is as much smile as sadness. "So much I have witnessed. The humans live their short times, but pack so much into the time that they have. I have seen heroism, and villainy. Love to touch the heart. Generosity to make one smile. Greed to dash one's hopes for the species. Caring to redeem them. So many stories which I have recorded, but these few I have chosen to share with you orally, as per the oldest traditions," Uatu confirms.

"Come, and I will begin," Uatu says. He fades out from the asteroid as do the other Watchers.

Kitty Pryde has posed:
The Watchers reform on a hill in a time and place above an isolated US military base built against the side of a mountain. "Below is a facility studying technology from Earth's Second World War created by a fanatical organization called Hydra. Technology that a decade or so ago was improved upon to create Sentinels," Uatu explains. "Robots nominally built for defense, but with secret programming to carry out the prejudicial aims of their main creator, Bolivar Trask."

Uatu motions towards the large doors that open into the mountainside. They open and smoke begins rolling out. Men stream from the opening doorways just before they blown open. "That cluster of men includes the President of one of Earth's most powerful nations, Lex Luthor. He is a man with many secrets who have not yet come to light."

A gigantic robot emerges from the facility, sweeping across soldiers with a ray beam. A group of costumed heroes including Phoenix, Emma Frost, Boom Boom, Shadowcat, Sunspot and Divine move to oppose the gigantic robot. They provide cover as a convoy of vehicles pull up and the Secret Service rush President Luthor, and his guest Sebastian Shaw inside an armored vehicle.

"A faction of Hydra is behind upgrading and powering up the robot and attacking. There are political manipulations at work as well. A member of President Luthor's government who was a mole, not who he seemed. This was but the first salvo of a long struggle," Uatu explains as the other Watchers watch the event play out. Soon the convoy are rushing out of the facility, while the X-men and allies team up and finally destroy the gigantic robot.

"In the end, the struggle would include some of Earth's finest heroes. The X-men, the Avengers, members of the Justice League, Titans, Amazonians and others," Uatu shares, mentioning heroes he has spoken of before when he met his brethren two years ago. "They would save Pete Ross, a childhood friend of Earth's greatest hero, Superman. Ross had uncovered the Hydra infiltration of the government. He would end up high in President Luthor's councils at the end."

Uatu pauses. "This matter may have seemed completed. But I expect there is more yet to come around it. Things that the humans do not realize. But that can be a story for another day."

The Watchers fade away, moving on to the next story Uatu is going to share.

Michael Hannigan has posed:
Moving along, the Watchers soon find themselves moving unseen through a windowless room. Chairs are filled with people waiting holding various cards of different colors and paperwork. Some come bearing instruments. And off to a corner there's a trio singing together.

"Ticket Red 15. Please report to room 3!"

The trio is paid no heed as they follow after a small woman, not even five feet tall wearing a corset dress with long sleeves. In her hands she carries a violin case, sheet music, and a red card. Without ceremony they follow Ariah Olivie into the announced room and witness the confused look as she inspects the sheet music set out between her and the two judges, Timeteo DeRossi and Wade Shaw.
"...singing... role...?"

Instead of excusing herself, she remains much to the amusement of the duo situated behind their tables. There's the commentary, drawing a likeness of her to another they know of.

"Whenever you are ready, number 15."

"Oh, I had planned to simply play the violin, but..."

She stays, looking through the pages, and takes up the unexpected challenge.

The Watchers stay, listening as a beautiful voice fills the room. They watch as the judges still, listening intently, hanging on each note. Only for one to be disappointed when the woman stops mid song.

"Why'd you-?"
"...They forgot to give out the second page. Didn't they? ...Thank you. I believe we have enough here."

There's the formalities of the departure, but as Ariah leaves, the Watchers linger for a few moments, looking to the judges as the door closes.

"Keep her tape at the top. I think she'd pair well with him, Timoteo."
"I believe you're right, Wade."

With a nod, the Watchers continue, stepping through the door but ending up in a ballroom where Ariah is centered in the room, dressed in a red and black dress that complements her very form while she dances with a long haired Nick Drago wearing a red dress robe with golden trim. The pair dance in front of a cameraman, exchanging dialogue.

"The movie was received well with her listed as a highlight. It is interesting how things can cause change. " Uatu comments to the other Watchers, "With a movie you expect more jobs, maybe more of an economic benefit. For her, it was getting into the wrong line. Who knew that she would touch so many lives?"

The group continues, stepping outdoors, but the scene has changed to where there's a view of the docks with a ship that looks not of this century tied off by its lonesome. They are not near but are set much further back where several dressing trailers are situated.

Megan Gwynn emerges from a trailer, dressed as a smuggler captain while Nick Drago emerges from another, sporting a sizable beard, even longer hair, and tattered clothes. As they get acclimated to the outside light, a couple of crew members nearby discuss a sudden vacancy in the smuggler crew casting.

Caleb Dykstra wanders around, coughing as he tries to dodge security. But soon security is on the trail as Caleb gets swept up in a crowd of extras. Taking notice, the bearded Nick steps forward, intercepting Caleb and leaving security to assume him to be part of the work study program.

It isn't long until the crew members spot Caleb and rush over. Not long after, they are tugging him into the costume trailer.

The Watcher nods in the direction of Caleb. "A series of mishaps combining together to present an opportunity for him. " Uatu comments, "This opportunity helped start the dialogue with newfound friends to start the process of escaping from a bad situation. Next year will likely be full of interesting events for him. I'm interested in seeing how it turns out."

Gwen Stacy has posed:
The group of Watchers appear on a sidewalk in Greenwich, near Empire State University. A rather gruff looking dark-haired man and a younger blond woman are standing together, holding each other hands as they speak to each other, words too quiet to be heard.

As they pair are unknowingly observed, Gwen Stacy and Eddie Brock both lean forward for a gentle kiss, arms about each other in a tender hug. They let each other go, and Gwen continues on down the sidewalk towards the door to an apartment building, looking back over her shoulder to see Eddie watching her and smiling, before she goes inside.

"A man and woman who met by chance, and as the human's say," Uatu tells the other Watchers, "one thing led to another. They both had feelings, but harbored secrets." He motions to the Watchers, and all four of them fade out.

They reappear first in Gwen's apartment, where she's listening to a police scanner talk about a driveby shooting. She goes to pull out her Ghost Spider costume.

Uatu gestures again, and they relocate. This to another location, a dingy basement apartment, where Venom is complaining about having to eat tater tots again. At the news of the driveby, Eddie lets out a sigh. "Alright. Sounds like someone you can eat."

Gwen Stacy has posed:
The Watchers relocate again, forward in time and elsewhere in the city, up in the air. Below can be seen the roof of a car that has been ripped open like a sardine can. Police are there, arresting three young men who are webbed.

But the sights in the air overhead quickly draw their attention. Ghost Spider and Venom are swinging about through the air. Venom has one of the gunmen in hand, apparently intending to eat him. Ghost Spider's smaller form hits him and the man slips from Venom's grip. Falling and screaming, until Ghost Spider swings over and snatches him from the air.

Back and forth the fight goes, the man who shot at children going from the clutches of the symbiote that would devour him for the evil he did, to the heroine trying to save him, and back again.

In the end, Ghost Spider shoots a pair of webs that miss to either side of Venom. He cackles and makes a quip about her aim, turning back just in time to see the metal sign for the Hammer and Anvil Bar that Ghost Spider snatched with those webs and yanked towards the swinging Klyntar. It smacks into Venom's head and he tumbles to the ground, tearing up the pavement where he hits. Ghost Spider swings away.

One of the Watchers looks thoughtful. "Falling in love. Never knowing the other to be their enemy?" he murmurs.

Uatu nods knowingly. "Two households, both alike in dignity, In fair Verona, where we lay our scene..." The other Watchers stare at him blankly. "Shakespeare? Romeo and Juliet? Clearly I have a lot more stories to tell you. That one can wait until later," he says. They disappear, moving onto the next tale.

Cain Marko has posed:
The veil of space and time slips aside as The Watcher speaks to the others, "For all of Earth's heroes, it has its share of villains both great and small. Often it is their greed that motivates them".

The preamble is offered as the scene of the Juggernaut in all his crimson armored glory marches down the center of a busy city street. An unsettling grin visible from within his domed helmet. The oncoming car strikes him in a bid to weave around the massive figure. It takes only a moment for the occupants to flow out of the vehicle, end up snatched by the Juggernaut, subdued, and the Big Red Meanie makes up with the duffle bags of stolen cash while more heroic and scrupled individuals work to apprehend them.

"Sometimes they even have a streak of honor to them. Despite their poor ethical choices they still maintain some sense of important to keeping their word," Uatu explains solemnly. The mists of time shift anew.

The ship rocks and sways with the terrifying, stomping steps of the Juggernaut. Overhead a being in a frightful suit soars upon the back of a platform that screams through the sky. The pair share an exchange as the flying man proclaims his desire for only a single occupant of the ship. One which the Juggernaut seems to have been hired to protect. Cain Marko's ruse fails when the soaring Goblin fails to land to negotiate terms. The viewers can practically feel the guile involved and the Juggernaut's desire for the other to land; not to negotiate, but to simply allow the brute to get his hands on the more evasive combatant. Ultimately their battle continues because the Juggernaut refuses the request to step aside. He's being paid to perform a specific job and the mercenary will not break his contractual agreement. The scene fades away with the sounds of explosions, the heat and light of flame, and the acrid scent of smoke. The ship is sundered and the Juggernaut can be seen cradling a grown man to his chest like a doll, the red armored behemoth utilizing his own body as a human shield to protect his client.

Cain Marko has posed:
"Despite the nature of the man and while he may always stand out among his human peers? He can look good while doing it," Uatu remarks with some measure of amusement as the view transitions into a luxurious mansion on the California coastline, overlooking the sea.

Cain Marko is dressed in the attire of the wealthy and elite attending one of their exclusive parties. Today he works under an alias and is seen dancing with an heiress, but when her soon-to-be husband arrives with chastisement; Cain doesn't standing his ground or defend the woman's honor. He's working. He slips away with an almost mindboggling ease. Moments later the Juggernaut has made an appearance and is wrecking his way through a vault so that his more nimble partner may get the item she'd came for. A simple wall stands no chance against the Might of Cyttorak and crumbles, opening the way to their escape as the pair soon leap from the cliffside to the sea below.

Somewhere in New York City's Chelsea neighborhood the Watchers look on from above, as though peering over the edge of rooftop to a scene below. Uatu the Watcher offers some explanation, "Here we see Cain Marko, the one they call The Unstoppable Juggernaut, doing what he does best. Causing chaos. In this instance though? There was a rather clever plan. While the titan empowered by Cyttorak did what he does best? It was all a ploy to draw attention from the real heist. Thankfully there was no loss of life," Uatu remarks serenely.

The Juggernaut rampages through the streets after he's provoked by - in his opinion - idiots. Vehicles are thrown, somewhere a grenade goes off and it's not on account of the Juggernaut's doing, and even a police officer is sent flying high into the sky. The timely rescue of a hero taking to the sky to prevent the loss of life allows that human to continue living another day. It is amidst all the chaos caused by the Juggernaut that he is able to escape by disappearing into an occupied building - after walking through it with the power of Cyttorak supporting him - and a crimson flash seals his escape.

As the view of the crimson armored Avatar of Cyttorak begins to fade away, Uatu gestures vaguely toward the fading scenery, "It's only a matter of time before he is stopped, of course. Unfortunately for the people of Earth it will only be temporary. When chance and fate do bring him to a stop, it will always only be for a brief time. I'm sure there will be more excitement in the years to come, but we all know that excitement is often just another word for chaos."

Monet St. Croix has posed:
Terror. Terror. There was her mother. On the ground, ash sizzling off of her. Monet St. Croix could only look at her and scream. Howling over at Marius, "Freak! How could you do this!? Our mother!" Jabbering wildly in a blind panic, seeing her brother looking like a monster. Spikes, ash, grey. Her brother turning to face her, breathing.
    "Survival. Survival of the fittest."
    Monet would only be able to stare at him and shudder. As he would vanish. And she would collapse to the ground, crying and holding her mother's corpse, even as it would disintegrate.


    However long after.. Staring at her brother once more. Fists clenching, screaming over as she would abandon all pretense of control to charge at him, fists flying. Him holding up a hand. Her stopping in midair. Nothingness.
    Trapped in the form of Penance.

    However long later. Her looking in amirror. Perfect. Down at her wrists. Down at her throat. Screaming. Punching the mirror,smashing it. Grasping wildly at the shards of glass. Trying.. Trying.. Nothing. Convulsing to the ground in a sob, shrieking. Then.. Firmness. That isolation of Penance.. Now in her eyes. A hard shell. Of mental adamantium. Burying it all. The only way she could function.
    The only way she could survive.
    The only way she could live with herself.
    Or live at all.
    There was no more Monet.
    Now there was just M.

Peter Parker has posed:
The scene shifts once more and this time the unseen Watchers find themselves in the skies of New York City, the streets and buildings below seeming to spin about in a wild kaleidoscope of imagery, shifting and blurring before finally resolving on a single figure.

Clad in red and blue he swings through the nighttime sky, the city lit up around him, windows glowing with light, street lights casting their glow, car head lights filling the avenues below with their illumination. Even the stars above dance in the midnight sky as the figure casts himself joyfully through the air in a dizzying rush of motion. Twisting, soaring, flying, falling all at once. At each time another webline bursts forth from one of his wrists, snagged in a ready hand as it *thwips* and finds it's target, find it's purchase and keeps propelling him through the city.

His home.

He might have been doing this for years now, traversing the city like this, but none of that magical allure seems to have been lost for the wall-crawler and for a moment at least he lets himself indulge, to enjoy the moment. Not exactly to forget the heavy burden of responsibility that lays across his shoulders. But to put it aside, even if just for an instant. To dwell in the moment.

A loud 'whoooooooop' splits the night and Spider-Man again releases his hold on that webline as he takes flight once more, all flailing limbs, body twisting as he flies through the air, reaching out as if seeking some purchase on the empty air.

Then another webline flicks out, latches onto the brick and mortar above and that sudden descent turns into a cresting arch that carries him upwards once more, cruving around the building as Central Park comes into view up ahead, an oasis amongst all the towering steel and glass and concrete.

The evening has been quiet, remarkably so really. So when that quiet is broken it is almost a surprise, even to someone with a Spider-sense.

Peter Parker has posed:
There is only that barest warning, that faint tingle in the back of his head before the ledge above where his webline is anchored suddenly explodes in a bright flare of light and fire, of shattered brick sprayed out and with that purchase lost again the costume-clad young man goes into freefall, though this time not of his own accord. Again limbs flail and body twists athletically as he reacts on instinct as much as anything else. The street rushes by dozens of feet below, the looming trees of the park up ahead and Pete flings out his arm once more, tossing out that webline again, snagging a building across the street to slow his descent.

But only for an instant.

Almost before it latches on that line is suddenly seevered and the descent that was oh so briefly stalled resumes as he tumbles down into the branches of those waiting trees, rough bark raking at his costume as he again seeks purchase, trying to grab hold of one of the limbs.

The first one breaks, though again slows his fall enough so that he can catch the next one down. But before he can catch his breath, before he can glance skyward and get some idea of just what is happen another explosion tears into the wood of the tree right behind him. Splinters fly out, racking his form, tossing him aside casually as the tree limb shatters beneath him and he flies back. Dazed. Blinded

For a moment it is not really all that different from swinging through the city, flying through the air, the wind rushing past his ears, filling the air with that breeze, with sounds of the city.

But then he lands. Hard. Breath rushes from him and pain explodes through his body. That red and blue suit is torn, that mask a shreaded wreck, tatters of fabric still barely concealing the bloody features beneath. Struggling to get his bearings, to get back to his knees at least he peers through the wooded darkness around him, the light from the nearby trail only faintly filtering in past the trees.

That gaze swings around, takes in the shadowed forms starting to draw closer, to emerge from the trees and a brief, pained grimace filters across his half-exposed features, struggling to get back to his feet as he spits out blood from his mouth. "Heh. Somehow I knew it would be you..." Spidey manages, shakily confronting his attackers.

The scene flickers out, shifts away again as Uatu and the Watchers move on. "The heroes journey is rarely an easy one. Especially for this particular hero..."

Steve Rogers has posed:
"Now," Uatu tells the other Watchers, "I want to share with you something about the connections that humans make. They are a very social species. Their friendships and presence leave lasting impacts on each other. And their losses affect them all the more."

He motions and the group disappear together, and reform on a battlefield. The beaches of Normandy. Assault craft are pitching across the waves heading for shore. Avoiding not just the explosions of falling shells, but also blasts of energy weapons.

One of the Watchers takes pause, then grows flustered. "This is a different dimension, Uatu! Why do you bring us here!?" he asks sharply, turning towards the Watcher still wearing the guise of an older human.

"Because of them," Uatu says back gently, pointing at a specific landing craft whose ramp lowers so the occupants can charge out into the shallow water. Captain Marvel, Black Widow, Captain America, Bobbi Morse, the Scarlet Witch, Darcy Lewis, Richard Stadler and Stefanie Houston all pile out of the landing craft, along with soldiers carrying guns. "They are heroes from our dimension, our Terra. Who came here seeking an energy source, needed to stop a dimensional traveler from embroiling their universe in his wars of conquest. It is but a smaller moment of that larger battle that I want you to see," Uatu says, turning back to observe. He motions to draw their attention to a spot on the bloody beach fight.

Steve Rogers has posed:
Steve Rogers is helping other soldiers up out of the surf, getting them moving towards the scant cover afforded by some of the tank barricades and the raised dunes where Carol is gathering the team.

Cap fires off a few shots, only to hear a voice behind him. "Steve? I thought you were parachuting in!?" the surprised voice says.

Steve Rogers turns to see a thin kid of about 22. Dark hair is soaked from a plunge in the ocean. The GI is carrying an odd looking rifle, but other than that, he's all too familiar. Steve not even needing to look at the nametag that identifies him as PFC Jenkins.

"Jenkins?" Steve says in surprise, the sight of the young soldier like a punch to the gut. The surprise lasts just a second before being replaced by urgency. "Jenkins, get to the dune, get to cover! You can't stay out here in the open-" he manages to get out, before the crack-whip sound of a bullet passing close by. Jenkin's body jerks and he goes down in a spray of red mist that goes to coloring the sand and water.

Steve grabs Jenkins before he's even hit the sand, laying him down gently. He just looks at him for a moment before rising to hurry on to join the team.

"Not everything is different here," some of the team might hear him murmur, before Steve pops his head up over the sandy ridge and starts firing on a pillbox, joining Stefanie to suppress fire while the others move.

Uatu turns back to the other Watchers. "Even after what has been years for Steve Rogers, the impact of losing a comrade in arms never went away. A sorrow that he was forced to relive again in this alternate dimension. The humans make connections that stay with them, and become part of who they go on to be."

The Watchers are quiet. Somber. And fade away, returning to their own dimension to see the next story.

Emma Frost has posed:
The Past.. That defines the present. THe future. One is molded by experiences. Are they fated to be a way? Or does life make them that way? Is it fate or is it choices?
    Not all experiences are so grand or so moving. A culmination of many small things..
    She is young. She is happy. Emma Frost wants to be a teacher when she grows up.
    She is older. She is a target for her older sister. That is a model. That is sadistic. That is psychopathic. That enjoys inflicting pain and manipulation. She is nearly killed. She escapes. She steals.
    She is at university. She has friends. Other mutants. She is happy. She is betrayed. She finds that evil can come in the form of friends.
    She uses her powers purely to inflict pain on the one that betrayed her. She devours her. That darkness that she has absorbed comes to define her. The one that loved her cast her away when she told him she was a mutant.
    Not so much time later in the grand scheme of things, Emma Grace Frost has all those things which will define her as the White Queen. The only one she can rely on.. Is herself.
    There is Emma Frost. There is Adrienne Frost. Blonde hair and white outfits. Black hair and black outfits. How the victim has become the victimizer.

Natasha Romanoff has posed:
The Watcher intones. "Individuality. Identity. Names. Meaning. People can be broken down and remade. They have to be torn down and built up again. That is the way that they become something else. A soldier. A spy. An assassin."
    The Black Widow, the most infamous exile of the Red Room.
    "When even identity is stripped away and torn off, what is there left when you face only yourself in the mirror?"
    The Red Room, Russia. However many years ago. A short time. A long time. Where Natasha faces off against herselves. She is alone. The SHIELD Agents are elsewhere. The Avengers are elsewhere. Yelena is elsewhere. Nadia is elsewhere.
    There is just a room full of Widows. All of them wtih the same faces. The same abilities. The same memories. The same weapons. Now they fight. A blow. A blade. A body. Many bodies. Dying in different ways. Falling in different ways.
    "What does one do when they see that they can be reduced to something so simple. A mind, a clone?"
    Bodies fall. More and more of them. The room is covered in corpses. One Widow rises. Steps out. Stumbling over. Covered in blood. Her own.. Or from many of her own.
    "How does one respond when all they can see is a field of possibilities snuffed away? Reduced to one moment that defines them."
    Leaning against the wall, Natasha Romanova staggers away towards those with her.
    The Watcher looks down upon one corpse. The one that came in to the room in the first place and faced off with all the others.
    "And seeing that you are replacable."

Audra Meridian has posed:
"There are times where it is not just the story but the parts within it that provide interesting observations." As Uatu reaccounts to his breathern as they transition once more, this time to the Metropolis PD HQ. Which is unfortunately already in midst of chaos, as a breakout of several of the infamous Rogues has been orcestrated. "With the great number of empowered beings in the universe, it is inevitable that some will come to posess similar powers. Abiet in very different ways."

Glimpses of several Heroes can be caught fighting to recapture the Rogues, contain the riot and not harm the officers that have already been mind-controlled into aiding the breakout. The position Uatu brings them to is one of the upper floor corridors, where Shazam is fending off several heavier hitters like Tar Pit and Girder. But its to the other end of the hallway that Uatu directs their attention. Weather Wizard steps into view, raising his sparking wand and firing a bolt of lightning down the hallway, a threat to possibly force Shazam out of his heroic form.

"Sometimes, those similar forces come to a dramatic clash."

The thunderbolt never hits its target as Windrose steps in to intercept it with her own lightning ability, catching the blast and surging it through her suit's tech. "And when it happens, that difference is not the powers, but the purpose with which they have decided to weild them. One, an agent of chaos and greed." As Uatu reaccounts Windrose shifts, pointing her other hand out to fire the electricity back, forcing Rogues to scatter. Then sends a blast of cold after it to disperse where the building has been set on fire around them.

His allies take cover but Weather Wizard uses his wand to recapture the lightning blast, and having realized he can't just electrocute the woman, fires the energy this time at the floor beneath her feet. The structure gives away, resulting debris threatening not only Windrose as she falls but the people still struggling on the floors below.

"The other, embracing focus and respect for the power she has harnesses for protecting rather than destroying.."

That's when Windrose rises back out of the gaping wound in the building, suspending in a minature whirlwind around her having captured much of the debris instead of letting it crush the floors below. With her precise control of the galeforce Windrose sends several of the pieces of hurtling at Weather Wizard, impact aimed at knocking him back into the next room, away from the corridor brawl, while he was stunned at her recovery.

Audra Meridian has posed:
Windrose pursues, hoisting the villain up intending to take him back to his cell. Only to get bumrushed by Captain Cold and Heatwave, so Weather Wizard can be recovered while she's forced to use her powers to disperse their attacks from farther damaging the building. Wind power against fire and cold united without the usual bickering amongst the Rogues. But the intervention effort between contrasting forces puts her back against a wall, and while she blows out Heatwave's fire Cold is able to turn the wind back against her, the freeze ray turning it into ice pinning her arms down to the wall. While Windrose struggles with the bind the source of their unusual precision and teamwork whisks the Rogues away.

"Not every battle ends in victory," Uatu laments softly. "However the Heroes did keep the rampage contained to the police building and not spilling out into the city, where many more lives would of been at stake. In itself a small win, but a win none the less. The Rogues' numbers were too in their favor, more organized and disciplined than ever thanks to another far greater mind. A sinister scheme still in the works, though the heroes continue to oppose their ongoing endeavours at every turn they can."

Windrose grunts as she manages to generate enough heat to melt her arms free, though by then the Rogues have been evacuated, leaving the heroes to clean up in their wake. There's fires to put out, people to ensure are not trapped in the damage done. The fight was over, but for her the work was only starting.

"Times like this, it may be the smaller fights that matter most. One young heroine proved she has what it takes to stand up to the odds and do what she could to help others." Uatu turns to shift the Watchers gathered away from the fading scene. "Mayhaps most importantly, proven to herself... Which for many humans is the hardest fight of all. The one within, with their own destiny. How to make the time in this world they do have matter. One small chapter in a much greater story, but every piece is as important as the whole."

Harley Quinn has posed:
Last minute of the game of their lives. The Brooklyn Derby Queens versus the Flat Iron Flatterers. Brooklyn District vs Flatiron District in roller derby.

A game where Harley Quinn had put all her chips. It was do or die. Or in this case close doors for losing this game would mean there would be no more roller derby in Brooklyn. The team gathered had been one of friends Harley had been gaining since reforming. Those that had trusted her. Birds of Prey and more. She had asked and here they were, no questions asked. A team made of Poison Ivy, Barbara Gordon, Harper Row, Dinah Lance and late-call-replacement Phoebe Beacon.

Last minute of the game! Harley had already been sent off, now the coach on the sidelines, gesturing wildly. "GO FOR THE FUMBLEROOSKI!" the blockers moving to keep the path open for their jammer to roll past. Last seconds and Barbara scores their last point. The needed point for the win! The rink erupts in a mixture of happiness and chaos. Harley jumps onto the field to go hug her players!


The two watchers are sitting on the stands, watching the last moments of the game, "Sometimes it's the simpler gestures that mean the most. Friends being there for Harley Quinn, notorious ex-criminal trying to turn a new leaf in her life. Chaos follows her and --" the other watcher stops him, "Are you wearing a Derby Queens jersey?" "Yes, I am." "Why?" "Harley told me we had to buy merchandise in order to watch. I have your jersey here." pregnant pause, "And a hat."

The watcher looks expressionless at the other before sighing. "Let's just go."

Mary Jane Watson has posed:
Our tale is from a long, long time ago. In the darkest days of humanity. Where the gods had fled the realm. Where no civilization arose that did not fall. A place of no memories. Even stories. But even in this era, oh traveler, there are tales. Tales not of good or evil, but of survival, of slaughter, of the worst in humanity. Slavery, war, genocide. This is a time not of heroes. Nor even villains. It was a time, oh listener..
    Of Adventure.
    Two Watchers sit around a campfire, listening to an old man wearing rags looking up at unfamiliar stars.
    "Men and women who fought for no cause but payment. That obeyed no oaths but those to themselves. That had enemies and few friends. Where the greatest of the Gods merely listened, but did nothing. Where there was no belief but in selfishness."
    Over the campfire a man appears wearing little more than a loincloth, boots, with a large sword on his back.
    "What stories and legends have come to this modern age?" A woman wearing a chain metal bikini, hair as red as pouring blood. In one hand holding a sword. In the other a severed head of a king.
    "What lessons from this era long ago, when the gods could not answer the desperate pleas for help and guidance from man, that only those few that have come to this day recall?" A necromancer in robes. A pale,a lmost vampiric woman in a black leather corset. The warrior woman.
    "Oh travelers.." TO the Watchers. "You see all and hear all. Great and small. But.. These are stories perhpas left forgotten. There are no lessons to be learned from them. The past should stay the past. Not for great fear, for great monsters.. But that one can do nothingto them but close your eyes and cry."

Stephanie Brown has posed:
The Watchers find themselves in Gotham City in winter. Fresh snow has the city looking cleaner than normal. "Christmas is one of the largest holidays for some of Terra's nations," Uatu explains. "It has both religious and cultural meanings, depending on the individual. It's often considered a very positive, magical time of the year. When people are their kindest to each other."

The human-shaped Watcher turns back to the city. "But not all are kind, even at that time of year."

A blimp adorned with colorful strands of Christmas lights is playing Christmas carols as it drifts amidst the Gotham skyline.

Atop GCPD One, the headquarters of Gotham's famed police force, Commissioner Jim Gordon and some of his officers stand watching. "Look," one of the officers says, pointing towards the front of the blimp as it turns, going past a skyscraper, heading towards the GCPD headquarters. "There's a platform on the front. Looks like they've got a Santa out there," he says.

Jim Gordon walks a few steps closer in that direction, looking up through the brisk evening air at the figure on the platform at the front of the blimp, definitely wearing a Santa hat.

Several sets of long pipes swing out from the blimp, extending to either side. A larger scale of the sprayers towed behind a farm tractor to spray large sections of a field. A white mist starts to spray from them. It hits a building that the blimp is passing over, and frost and ice immediately grow along the outside of the building, spreading downwards.

"That... that isn't Santa Claus," the Commissioner says slowly backpedaling as he gets a better look of the man in the Santa Hat.

"Ho ho ho! Merry Christmas! My favorite holiday, could you guess!?" Mr. Freeze shouted down to the police headquarters. "And this year I'm going to guarantee a very white Christmas!

Henchmen on aerial cycles fly out to flank and protect the blimp on all sides. Down on the streets, carloads of Freeze's men are helping themselves to expensive goods from the frozen homes and stores.

The blimp passes over the police headquarters, leaving nothing but ice in its wake. Commissioner Gordon frozen solid, his hand still on the lever that activates the Batsignal, having just managed to pull it as the freeze spray was hitting him.

The light shines into the sky, Batman's logo reflecting off the clouds above as the city calls for help.

Stephanie Brown has posed:
The Watchers observe as a host of heroes, and some possibly less heroic, come forth to stop the subzero villain from freezing the city solid. Talia al Ghul, Meggan and John Constantine, and Impulse. Sunspot, Franklin Spade Jr, and Windrose. Batgirl soon descends on the scene, alongside Cassandra Cain, responding to the Batsignal that signs overhead. Even people on the street like Caleb Dykstra work together to hold off Freeze's henchmen.

The fight is long and treacherous, with some of the heroes taking to the air to deal with those flying cycles. A fall would be enough to kill. The henchmen are stopped, their plunder recaptured.

Mr. Freeze doesn't go down easily, but eventually the heroes manage to capture him. The blimp's controls are smashed in the fight, and they abandon it after setting it to climb. It drifts further and further up into the clouds, before finally detonating. The freeze spray seeding pure, white snow that falls down upon the city as if to help clean away the stain that the supervillain tried to leave on Christmas Eve.

Uatu turns back to the others finally as the fight ends, and the work of saving those who were frozen begins, employing chemicals and techniques perfected by Batman for use after just such a fight. "Gotham is often considered an unpleasant place by Earth's standards. Crime and poverty, and man preying on man. But in those darkest moments among humans, there are often those who rise up to protect their fellows."

He turns back, watching as the Batsignal is extinguished. "Even if to do so, they need to dwell in the dark with those they hunt."

The Watchers nod slowly, and fade away to the next location.

Roy Harper has posed:
When the scene shifts again, Uatu and his Watcher companions once more find themselves back in New York City. The evening is cool, even moreso up here on the rooftops of the city, the shelter of the canyon-like streets below forsaken for a better vantage point, a better view. But despite the chill in the air right now the redheaded archer that stalks across those ledges above is nothing but hot. He almost always is when he is hunting this particular brand of predator.

Down below a man makes his way through the streets of Hell's Kitchen, the contents of the briefcase he carries long since emptied, distributed to dealers across a dozen or so street corners in the surrounding blocks. A simple middleman. Another time he woud gladly take him down, just like the dealers on the street. They might all be low men on the totem pole, symptoms of the problem as much as the cause, but they are still part of that problem.

And it is a problem that is very near and dear to Roy Harper's heart.

But tonight he is hunting slightly bigger fish. Not the biggest, not the real source though even removing the higher ups, the ones who truly control and direct the drug trade doesn't do much more then slow it for long. But this will send a message. And Arsenal has learned that some of the best communication can be done without a single word.

Down below, the go between glances up and down the street before slipping into the darkened alley, his pace picking up just a little. Most men fear the dark at least a little, even those that go out armed or in force. Even those with the back of the Triad behind them. So he trots to that door at one end of the alley, raps on it twice before it slides open and lets him slip inside, a single light bulb casting a small pool of illumination there as a larger, heavyset man peers out after his entrance, checking to see if he's been followed.

But he doesn't look up. They so rarely do.

For just a moment the redheaded archer smiles tightly though the expression is almost immediately wiped away. More often then not he approaches this sort of thing with a smile on his face and a song in his heart, despite the danger, despite the seriousness of it all. But not when his prey is men like these. Not when it's personal.

Dropping down from his perch, he lands in front of that reinforced door, eyeing it for just a moment. Then he simply rears back and with a solid kick right where the door meets the frame, he sends that heavy entranceway flying back into the face of the man standing watch there.

He doesn't rest on his laurels though, already practically flying into that stairwell that leads down, twisting into dimness and the basement drug lab below. The man hit by the door reels there, stunned by the heavy impact and Arsenal doesn't give him a moment to recover, hitting him hard and fast, slamming a fist into his gut to double him over before bringing his knee up sharply into his head, sending him falling back down those stairs. A path that he swiftly follows.

Roy Harper has posed:
There is really no time for those in the lab below to do much more then turn and stare at the source of the disturbace before the redheaded archer is amongst them. A pair of men armed with automatic weapons move to raise them but Arsenal is already bringing his bow up, an arrow flying from that bow to strike the first of the guards, blue arcs of electricity flaring as it strikes home, the taser on the end of that shaft sending the armed man into a series of seizures before dropping him.

Not that Roy is watching. No, he's already turned to let another volley fly. The first arrow cuts cleanly across the second gunman's hand, making him flinch as a spray of blood flicks through the air, the weapon dropping from his suddenly nerveless hand. Shocked and surprised, he never even notices the blunted end of the other arrow that hits him square in the forehead, sending him crashing to the ground.

Turning towards the others with usually warm blue eyes gone icy, he looks over then men in their plastic ponchos and masks and simply says, "Go."

The scene pulls back as a half dozen of the drug cookers race out of that building, tearing down that cold, dark alley as crashes sound from behind them, the sound of the previously functional drug lab being well and truly smashed.

And then after several minutes the redheaded archer emerges once more, coming up those stairs and out that door into the brisk, chilly evening. Those blue eyes aren't icy any longer and a merry little whistle sounds as Roy Harper emerges, a smile on his face.

As Uatu and the Watchers move on, he notes, "Some heroes batle their own demons as much as the foes that they face each night..."

Roxanne Spaulding has posed:
The Watchers observe a young woman, clad in a black leather jacket and a dark purple and green body suit. She's out in the middle of nowhere, far from the major cities and she finds herself alone, save for the little green cat-alien thing that perches on her shoulders.

Uatu looks down from his own perch, "This young woman would be the youngest of a group led by her half sister. They would have had multiple adventures throughout time and space, but this time, she finds herself alone, having had to rely on no one else. What has changed since she was released from the confines of Project Genesis?"

The scene shifts back and focuses on Roxanne. She nosewrinkles as she stares at a mountain range, not too far away. One of the plateaus is close, and she winces, putting her hands together and focusing.

A sudden blast of pure force is released from her hands and destroys several large boulders. She huffs and puffs, now looking at the wreckage that she has done to the terrain, and blinks for a few moments, wanting to try something else out.

Uatu continues, "With her friends, she learned how to control gravity to a point of creating a singularity to stop a potential nuclear and gene bomb. That was after many trials and tribulations that made her develop her powers. What is she going to do now that she's left a bit of a mess in the middle of Nevada.

Several hours later, and Roxie is still there. She's been concentrating, beads of sweat on her brow, making her look like she has intense concentration... or constipation. But suddenly something shifts.

In the middle of the pile of boulders, a little pinprick in the fabric of time and space, a singularity is formed, and immediately sucks in all the debris like a little baby black hole. It vorps out of existence, practically letting out a bit of a boom of a belch when its all said and done. Nature abhors a vacuum.

"HOLY SHIT." Roxie says, as she looks around, surprised she was able to do that again. Not since she was under the training and watch of Project: Genesis was she able to do such a thing.

Queelocke chirps, and then skitters about before turning into a portal. She steps through and sighs.

"Time to go home."

The Watchers remain there impassive, having nothing else to say.

Alura In-Ze has posed:
"Alura In-Ze, mother of Kara Zor-El. She made an impossible journey through time and space to be reunited with her daughter only to discover a new mantle placed upon her head - that of Superwoman. The last great scientist of Krypton," Uato began as he stood ghost like upon the bridge of Superwoman's spaceship.

Alura was adjusting the subquantum alignment of her phantom drive, the only one of its kind, in orbit around Earth. "And there-" she says to herself as the phantom drive kicks in.

Uato continued, "...but she is always two steps behind the threat from another timeline, the Kryptonian Hegemony spawned in to existence by her sister Astra In-Ze when she travelled back in time to save Krypton from its destruction at the hands of the fearful Oans. This one action will spell the inevitable doom for all freedom in the galaxy."

Alura pauses and turns around swiftly. Her eyes sweep the bridge of her ship. "Who said that?"

The old man in the space suit paused in his recollection and predictions not moving a muscle as impossibly Alura's eyes rested upon him.

"Who are you?"

Uato looked behind him, then looks back to Alura. "Oh bother."

A lot rushed through Alura's mind as she realises he is teetering on the edge of her visibility. It's the quantum drive somehow revealing the Earth Astronaut. Yet he is clearly not, her super senses tell her that much. "You just said something about the doom of all freedom in the galaxy."

Uato fidgeted on the spot with semi turns as if that would somehow get him out of this mess. "Pay no attention to me, I'm not here."

Alura took a step forward and placed a finger on his space suit helmet, "You're definitely here."

Alura In-Ze has posed:
"Try as he might, he could not convince Superwoman that he was not there. Her new technology intended to hide from the Kryptonian Hegemony had temporarily swept him away from Earth and made him visible to her." Uato narrated.

"Perturbed, Superwoman insisted the strange alien on her spaceship would give her a straight answer," Alura quipped back at him and folded her arms. "Cut the games and explain yourself."

Uato let out a hefty sigh and sat down on one of the crystalline seats. "I am what is known as a watcher. But we watch but we do not interfere."

"Then you know who the Hegemony is and how I can stop them?"

There was an awkward pause from Uato as he dipped his head down a little, "You do not stop them."

Alura felt a chill run down her spine, "...but someone else does."

He shook his head, "Not in this reality. Here they win. Here Zod rules the galaxy with an iron fist."

Alura dropped her subquantum alignment tool.

"I've said too much already. Please disable your quantum drive, I must return to my duties."

Alura felt her center of balance wavering. It's not every day a strange alien miraculously appears on your spaceship and tells you the galaxy is doomed. But she has a very keen analytical mind. Here. Here she does not stop them. "...there are other realities in the multiverse where they are stopped."

Uato back peddled rapidly, "Oh. No. Don't. Don't be doing that kind of thing. You're not meant to think of that idea here."

"But I have. It's thought. I've had the thought in my head and now it's in my head. This is it. This is the answer I couldn't think of - another version of me solves it. I just have to find her."

Uato placed a hand to the side of his spacesuit helmet with a groan.

The ships console begins to beep. The quantum drive had been running this whole time and was starting to overload again. "ACk!," she exclaimed and shut it off. And just like that the watcher was gone. It was silence on her ship once more. She looks around and listened but she could not sense him at all.

"Thank you strange old man," Alura said to the nothing.

Uato had put his foot in it. Again. He drifted out of her spaceship and back to the asteroid where his companions had wondered what happened to him. "And so once again this reality would become entangled with another. Their fate hung in the balance. The Kryptonian Hegemony may yet be defeated. Only time will tell."

Kitty Pryde has posed:
The Watchers appear in a balcony of the famed Gershwin Theater. The sounds of Elton John's piano fill the space as best they can, coming from a pair of bluetooth speakers connected to a phone. On stage two young women in leotards are dancing, and as often as not, laughing.

Uatu looks down on them from their high vantage point as he speaks to his fellow Watchers. "Humans often have dreams when they are young, of what they want to do with their lives. That one," he says, pointing down at the stage where Kitty Pryde dances with her friend, one of the supporting dancers in the cast of 'Wicked'. "She grew up dreaming of being a dancer. Only to find that she was a mutant, with the power to phase herself through other matter."

The Watchers gaze down at the two women, dancing freestyle to 'Tiny Dancer'. Another woman comes on stage, Olivia Gaudin commanding immediate attention as the woman who headlines the hit Broadway show. Kitty's eyes widen with a bit of excitement as Olivia seems to greet them both with the kind of warmth and down-to-earthiness one doesn't necessarily expect from a big time star.

"It is a simple moment. But the young Shadowcat has saved people's lives. Been a part of saving the world, in the most literal sense, more than once. She's gone to space, been welcomed by the Empress of a galactic empire. Things that most humans would never even let themselves dream of doing. But, look at her," Uatua says, gesturing towards Kitty, and smiling at what he sees.

Kitty's a bit starstruck at meeting Olivia, who lived the dream that Kitty had always had for herself. "Even with her accomplishments," Uatu says, "those old dreams of being a dancer never really died. They are still magical for her. Dancing on the Broadway stage, even if just with a friend and to no audience, is a moment she'll treasure. As she will meeting the show's starlet. You see, no matter what they achieve, humans still cling to their heart's fondest dreams," Uatu finishes before turning back to the other Watchers.

They share no words, but sit and watch, and listen, through the end of the song, before all four fade away to the next moment Uatu wants them to see.

Lois Lane has posed:
The ambiance is dark, smoky and sexy. Powerful men in powerful suits lounge about the Hellfire Club as women dressed in the most revealing of clothing going around serving drinks.

Uatu watches impassively, letting his gaze focus on one woman in particular dressed in a skimpy black outfit.

"Lois Lane, mother of Jon Kent, and married to Superman is hardly neither this time around. Having gone through trials and tribulations with her own inner demons, she decided to set off on a mission to write an expose on the Hellfire Club and the potential corruption within. Here, she's somewhat disguised herself as Laura Lockwood, a blonde in desperate times, as she does what she can to get closer to the men involved."

If Clark can fool people with nothing more than a pair of glasses, surely Lois can pass as someone else in a long blonde wig and some smoky eye with more makeup than an Instagram filter.

Bending over as she serves the drink to one man in particular, she flashes her pearly whites as she listens in on some potential insider trading between two powerful conglomerates. Clucking her tongue on the inside her cheek, she forces a smile as she walks away and immediately heads back to an employees only room.

Coughing a little from all the smoke in the room, she immediately beelines for her locker where she pulls out a recorder, speaking into it about the insider trading going on. Would that be a good enough angle for a Pulitzer? Or should she stay and continue to try to find the secrets of the club.

Putting away the recorder, she takes in a deep breath and goes out to get some more drinks. Clearly, a decision has been made.

Clark Kent has posed:
A voice intones in a deep monotone voice, "Legends. Myths. Gods and Men. Aliens. Kansas. Sacrifice. The Last Son. Battle. Death. Loneliness. Heroism. Love. HOPE. All of these words are part of the story of one of the greatest heroes in the history of countless Universes. Although he has incredible powers, he would only say he was just a man trying to do good for Truth, Justice and the American Way. In this reality, Superman was as he was in an infinite number of Realities. Today was just another day."

The sun was setting on the horizon. His adopted home was so beautiful. Up here, in the upper atmosphere was where Superman...Kal-El...Clark Kent was most at peace. It was also where he could hear the sounds of the planet from one end to the other. So many people crying out for help...so many need him. There.

Pushing his speed at the upper levels of where he would not harm the atmosphere, Superman lands with a frown. The sounds of explosions and weapons fire going off all around him. The cries of the victims ringing out with fear. Speaking in their language, he tells the crying victims that he was there to protect them. <"Get to safety!"> Next, he speaks to the attacking soldiers firing on the helpless, trying to get the "bad guys" to stop.Then, Superman finds himself being charged by a tank. "BOOM!" The tank fires at him. Aware of the people around him, and grabs the projectile, and with his massive strength turns it into a tiny ball, dropping it to the ground.

Standing his ground, he grabs the cannon, and with a slight flex, rips the top end of the tank from the body of the machine of war. Seeing the crying people running away to safety, Superman nods, and in a few seconds, makes sure no one else would be hurt that day. When he was done, there were no firearms or weapons of war within a 10 km radius, and the invading soldiers found themselves back to their origin point. In just their "drawers" as Ma Kent used to say.

There. With a flash of red, yellow and blue, Superman was in California. He could feel the vibrations under the ground. An Earthquake. A big one. He knows there were others and other organizations who could help, but right now, he was there. Using his vision powers, he sees the origin of the Earthquake. A detonation. With grim determination, he was burrowing into the Earth, and utilzing his heat vision then super breath, he repairs the damage. With firm resolve, Superman concentrates and then follows the radio signal back to the terrorists responsible. They quickly found themselves in the custody of SHIELD.

There. "Child Overboard!" A vacation cruise near Alaska. He was there. Hovering above the ocean, Superman's eyes search for a few seconds, and finds the child. With gentleness that reflects his gentle heart, Superman returns the child to the arms of her family. Taking a moment to comfort all of them with a smile and a few kind words, he waves and flies off.

There. Metropolis. The Toyman. Sighing, causing a flock of Canada Geese to squak at him in alarm, Superman heads to his adopted city he calls his home....

The Man of Steel fades away, his cape fluttering in the breeze, his arm outstretched heading to another battle. "Just another day for Superman. A day like yesterday. A day like tomorrow. May he always be there to help those in need."

Talia al Ghul has posed:
The Watcher goes on, "Some have their courses set by others. Those that try to determine their fath. Obedience, duty, purpose. Some fight against it. Some surrender to it. Some lose themselves in what others would intend for them. Some do not fight what is to be done with them at the command of others."

There is Talia Al Ghul. To the side as her father speaks to Bruce Wayne. "It is your destiny, Detective. To be my heir. The one that leads the world to it's next phase under our guidance. That casts off the old and gives it purpose." She stands to the side, her head bowed.

Things move ahead. Her fingers rest around her belly. Her father glances at her in this image. "This is your purpose, for now. You ahve given me an heir. Whether or not they will be useful is to be seen. You exist to provide me succession." Talia bows her head over once more.

"Some do not fight out of fear. Because they know no other way. Their life has been chosen for them. Their path defined."

Damian walks away from the League of Assassins. And joins his father.

Talia looks at him heading off in the distance, trembling. Then she races after.

An image flicks to that of an old man. Ras Al Ghul. "I have more that she needs to do. But all goes as planned on schedule." A flicker to the image showing this of thought, nto reality.

"When one surrenders to fear.. Of the omniscience of their ally or their enemy.. THen they give in to helplessness. Thinking that their every thought is manipulated by another, that sees all and knows all. One gives in without a fight."

Cable has posed:
Again the scene shifts and when Uatu and his Watcher companions resolve it is over a sunlit island. Warm, tropical breezes drift through the air, stirring palm leaves below and the brightness of the sun is only amplified as it reflects of gleaming towers of steel and glass, magnificent monuments of opulence and the greed of their human inhabitants. A point only amplified by the absolute squalor only blocks away where crude shelters swelter under that same sun.

Madripoor, a city of great extremes. Wealth and poverty. Innocence and absolute corruption. Ancient history and modern world sensibilities, all colliding in one great mass.

And at the moment it serves as the base of operation for Cable and his team. Nathan Christopher CHarles Summers. Nathan Dayspring Askani'son. The mutant soldier from the future has picked up more then a few names through the years. At least from those that live long enough to learn his name at all.

While their previous safehouse might have been reduced to rubble, the results of a coordinated assault by a host of local warlords and mercenary organizations -- all under the sway of Cable's latest target, John Sublime -- that doesn't seem much of a detriment. Preparedness seems to be baked into the grizzled, white haired solider so it is no surprise that another safehouse was already waiting.

While most of those present can at the very least be called allies if not friends, at least one amongst them is not. A rich industrialist, a financial backer of at least a half dozen of Madripoor's most successful mercenary groups and a general purveyor of human misery -- not to mention a supporter of John Sublime's Transhumanist movement -- Gaerth Solomon is not enjoying himself very much at the moment.

But then he is not meant to be. At the best of times, for those that he likes, it is probably fair to say that Cable is something of an indifferent host.

These are not the best of times and he most definitely does not like Gaerth Solomon.

The man finds himself tied to a heavy chair in the center of an unadorned room set out at the end of safehouse. Stark and bare, the metal roof overhead seems to invite the warmth of that tropical sun overhead, turning the dark chamber into little more then a sweat box. Certainly virtual rivers of perspiration drip from Solomon as he shifts uncomofrtably under those bonds, arms and legs bound tight to the chair beneath him giving him hardly any ability to move or even shift. Just to sit there in the dark and swelter.

When the door does open, the light briefly backlights the mountainous form of that mutant soldier from the future, the grizzled warrior lingering there for a moment, simply watching from the door, that single cybernetic eye gleaming in the dark.

Then Cable flicks a switch and the solitary light bulb overhead springs to life, a bright, piercing glare from the bare bulb, particularly so long in the darkness. Certainly Solomon shies away, tries to recoil, as little as he is capable of doing in his tied up position, eyes watering as he peers at his captor. "I won't... I won't tell you anything," Solomon rasps, voice parched both from thrist and lack of use. He can't even begin to guess how long he's been held now, kept here in the heat, in the darkness. "Whatever you think you can do to me it's nothing compared to what SUblime will do if I tell you where to find him," he blusters.

Cable has posed:
Still just a shadowed form on the other side of the room, that single burning source of light standing between him and his captive, all but blinding him. Then Cable steps into the room at last, letting the door slide shut behind him. "Everybody talks," he says quietly, voice flat and cool, devoid of both anger and threat.

But then who needs words when actions will serve so very nicely instead. From across the room, from the table and the small metal tray resting there a variety of blades and hooks and other cruel looking implements suddenly begin to float up into the air, dancing through the room, playing out their little show in front of the bound man. Who if anything somehow finds a way to gush even more sweat from his body. "Everybody talks," Cable reiterates. "But I don't need you to say a thing. Just try not to think about what I want to know," he says quietly, tapping one side of his head with a finger.

The gleam from that cybernetic eye brightens and the metal that crawls up one of his arm seems to come alive for a moment, little ripples marring that smooth, gleaming surface like thousands of insects roiling beneath. As the white haired solider's gaze gets that much more intense, that gleaming mass creeps higher along his arm.

From behind that closed door the harsh, ragged breath of Gareth Solomon can be heard, a whimper finally sounding before all goes quiet. And when the door opens once more, the roiling mass of the techno-organic virus that infests Cable's form is stilled once more, brought back in sway. Those gleamering metallic instruments of torture all rest, unmarred and unused on that tray once more, the show enough to get the results that he needed. This time.

Turning to the others gathered, the future solider simply nods once. "Briefing in one hour. I have the information that we need. It's time to end John Sublime, once and for all."

As the scene fades out and Uatu and his Watchers move on to their next tale, he says simply, "And so the mutant soldier from the future fights his ruthless battles in the here and now, so that he does not have to fight an even more desperate, more hopeless war in the decades to come..."

Marc Slayton has posed:
A deep monotone voice can be heard, as though echoing through the Ages. "A Man out of Time. A Man of Three Worlds. Kheran. Atlantean. Human. A Warrior. A Mentor. A Fighter. Marc Slayton strives for excellence and perfection, knowing he could never reach it. A story of a time past...a dark time indeed."

"What do you mean, they are gone?" The sounds of artillery fire can be heard, drowing out the response. Tapping his right ear with his right forefinger, Marc Slayton lets the man know he didn't hear him. "They were ambushed at the pass. They were slaughtered to a man by the...zis." Another barrage.

Gritting his teeth, Slayton shakes his head. "That was my intel and it was sound dammit! I'll have to do the job myself. Where is the Super Soldier? I could use his help. And his platoon!"

The man wearing Corporal's rank and in the fatigues of a British soldier shakes his head. "I don't know sir! I haven't heard! I can come with you!" The Corporal did not look confident.

"No! Report to the Colonel! I'll deal with this!" Slayton turns, and vanishes into the rain-soaked darkness that was the outskirts of Paris. Moving silently, he looks up and blinks, seeing someone in the flash of lightning, someone in the clouds, a massive figure...was he bald? Blinking his eyes again, he shakes his head as the visage he saw was gone. "Slayton, you are going dumb with all this combat. World War II. Indeed."

Slayton knew that if he didn't finish the mission, then countless Allied Soldiers would die, including some of the "super" variety. He had a feeling that his opponent sported a garish crimson skull visage, but he could not be certain. "So. Chess it is."

Maneuvering through enemy lines, Slayton climbs a rocky cliff face that would have deterred a climbing crew in full gear. Dropping into the camp quietly, Slayton moves like a shadow, and finally finds the area containing the "bad guys" ammunition. Only two guards. Done.

"Now the hard part..." Slayton starts, realising he was talking to himself. "Senility finally settling in..." Still talking to himself. With a shake of his head, Slayton placed the charges, and knew that he could not get away in time. "Lived too long anyway..." Running full speed through the camp, Slayton could hear the shouts of alarm, then feel the ripping of his skin as three shots found their mark. "Elite troops. Good shots. Ouch."

Feeling weak from loss of blood, Slayton counted down in his head, "4-3-2-1..." Bracing himself for the explosion, the Ammunition Dump went up like the 4th of July. The flash of heat and pain hit him like a wave, propelling him into the air and welcome darkness.

Blink. "Am I...?" Waking up in a tent on a military cot, Slayton looked around, but then decided for the best that he should not too that. "Ouch". Then, a female voice, her British accent unmistakeable, so angry it hit him like a whip. "Dammit Slayton! You could have gotten yourself killed! That job was for a team, not some stupid heroic last sacrifice...!"

With a sigh, Slayton thought about playing possum, but decided against it. "Sorry Captain." His words sounding contrite. "The job needed doing or good men would have died. So..." Her anger falling away, the Captain simply said, "Welcome back. Don't do it again."

"Promise." Slayton said with a smile. "Ouch." The Captain's expression told him she did not believe him, but he could tell she was relieved he was okay. "What's the next mission?" His voice trails off, as the tent fades into the clouds above. Storm clouds. Then lightning flashed, and Uatu's voice concludes the story, "A soldier. Trying to die. Trying to live. His journey was far from over. But that is a story for another time." The lightning flashes once more, and Uatu was gone.

Daisy Johnson has posed:
It had been quite the journey for Daisy. From hacking into SHIELD to find out about her family. Becoming an Agent. Finding her mother and now ....?

Two figures stood near the entrance that led to Afterlife. New Afterlife in this case. So similar but at the same time so different too. Daisy could still not believe what they had found when they had investigated that Kree signal. A lost laboratory where another Inhuman had been found. One that shared her own blood.

Her sister.

The two of them stood on the road, close to a few houses on the hidden enclave where the Inhumans had found a home after Hydra's attack. A place where their mother was waiting. "Are you nervous?" Daisy says to Kora with a faint smile. She knew the other woman would be no matter what. It had been a long time since she had seen mother. Too long.

"Don't worry, I won't lose you again." Hand rests on Kora's shoulder and they both walk inside. To a new chapter of their lives.


The watchers observe from above, "The end of a long journey for Daisy and Kora Johnson. Never losing hope they'd find their family again." the other then saying, "Now that they have found each other what does the future hold, mmm?"

Frank Noble has posed:
The Squirrels in coordinated form with nuts are a force to be reckoned with . Set to magically mayhem enahcned usic, its pure pandemonium. One of the mice smiles once the harp is through the portal and draws a small little rapier and begins cutting left and right. The gangers are finally broken though, the barrage of nuts hits them in places they didnt think were vulnerable but fury furry doom bombards them en masse.

Then the talking animals are gone, just as mysteriously as they appeared and the music itself is gone. That allows the police to enter the scene and begin mop up.

There is much cheering from the squirrels who feel quite proud though attend to their wounded. None died, but a few were quite severly wounded and will take time toget better.

There's some witty saying about how you only have to worry about Canadians when they stop saying 'I'm sorry'. Which pretty well sums up the moment with Doreen when she stops holding back. In the end, and thanks to squirrels and other critters, the gang fight is finally put to an end.

Doreen sits down on top of one of the goons, and Tippy-Toe scurries over to retake her shoulder perch. To which Doreen looks around.. but doesn't see either Dapper Squirrel, Bard Bunny, or the harp they were protecting. "Guess they got it off somewhere safe. Good.... maybe next time we see them we can ask why it was so important." She turns back to Tippy. "Can you go back to the northern grove and check on Monkey Joe's group?" Tippy-Toe faux salutes with a paw, jumps down and scurries off to do so.

Doreen sighs and gets back to her feet, stepping aside with the remaining squirrels. "Com'n, lets get your wounded out of the way before the cops come, and see if anyone needs to go in for more serious medical attention."

When the cops do show up, get an account from the girl with the squirrel tail they've gotten somewhat use to seeing, and explain that Metformin isn't even that strong of a drug to be fighting over, barely nore potent than over the counter if at all...

Well, the gang goons are lucky by that point Doreen had calmed down. We will leave it at that.

Frank Noble has posed:
The curtain call goes out, a soft pealing tone that pleasantly reminds people for the train treck they paid good money to see; for the kids. He looks at Nick and whispers, "There's not enough alchomahol on the planet but I'm game to try...." He is actuallly smiling now though he doesnt now why until the intern for the producers (who are to terrified to ask directly) hand him the note asking him to introduce the play. SERIOUSLY?!?!?!?

Ben smiles a very clenched smile and waves to the producers. . o O "I can crush every bone in your body to powder. Thats right assholes. I know a man who can transfer your minds into Llamas and would do it for fun if I bet science couldnt do it...thats right, smile."

People take their places. He walks down the aisle of the place and people begin to quiet down as he steps up to the mike and the spotlight comes on to him.

"For the kids. I appreciaet you all comin here, this is for the Yancy Street Community Center, a dream that I and many othr fine folks shared. So, as we explore the um..." keep it positive, "the boundaries of what it means to er...um...explore the boundaries of artistic...uh...creativity. I want everyone to rememer that this is for charity and the kids. For a better tomorrow....and um....yeah. For the kids." He waves and there is a minor stirring in the audience at his speech and the lights dim, and the curtain begins to rise.

...."Space. Space. Space is Big. Space is enormous and cold. But one man dared to challenge space...and mutate his whole family into weirdos...."

Ben actually laughs out loud at this as he takes his custom large seat in the front row. MAybe this wont be SO bad?

"Behold, the epic, the legend, A THING is born....

" And out came the tap dancing Thing.

Oh Great Maker.....

Alfred Pennyworth has posed:
Gotham. Alleyway.

The Batman has finished an overly long stake-out. He was well aware of the time, and the demands for his attention elsewhere. But if he did not follow this trail, he would have no way of knowing which dock had the freighter. And if he could not find that freighter..."Sorry Alfred," he had murmured to himself, crouched on the opposing rooftop.

Getting the data was easy. Getting to the data easier. The Dark Knight had it, and was making his way back to the Batmobile. There was still time, if he took the ...back roads. He was nearly at it when he heard the scream. Two alleys over, based on the reverberations. "Sorry Alfred."

The two would-be muggers were trussed up and waiting for the Gotham PD as the shaken, but unharmed couple consoled themselves. The World's Greatest Detective was already on his way and gone by the time the woman thought to ask for a selfie. She will just have to console her friends with the story. Racing down the alleyway, he heard the plaintive cries from above, and the sobbing from below. The boy was pointing up at the white haired hissing feline that had occupied the highest branch of the tree. He was nearly past the boy when he heard the wailing. "BAAAAATMAN, pleeaaaaaaase." He sighs and closes his eyes. "Sorry Alfred."

The wooded road towards Wayne Manor flows by as the Batmobile roars down. Within, covered in white hair, the Bright Knight glances at the clock. He spies the blinkers up ahead. A Volkswagen beetle, lopsided. Its well known spare is off the back, lying on the floor, as a man stands with his fingers in his hair, a woman holding a small child against her leg. The Gotham Guardian drops his head back against the rest, as if aiming his eyes at the sky. Maybe he can pretend he does not see them... The man turns and waves his arms in the air. "Sorry Alfred."

Hands covered in grease, the dust kicked up by the Batmobile coats the VW Beetle as it pulls out onto the road again. The family has a snapshot to share for years to come - how many other people can say that the Caped Crusader himself changed their spare tire.

Interior. Wayne Manor.

Bruce Wayne manifests from the hallway, looking sheepishly at Alfred Pennyworth, his longest companion. "Sorry, Alfred," he says. "I overslept." It is, of course, late in the afternoon.

Alfred Pennyworth is not at all surprised, offended or shocked, "Master Bruce I feel that when the manor is yours, the time you arrive is precisely the time you are meant to of course sir." He smiles and hands him a hot cup of tea. If he got offended at Bruce being late, he would have had a stroke a Loooooong time ago. The video game talk is a bit beyond his understanding but he is pleased they are having a good time at least.

Its complicate of course. He worries about Bruce. This kind of event is for him more than any of the others, t o remain in the daylight world enough to have the energy to do the things he does elsewise. Its the same for all of them really. The small things allow the bigger things to happen. Its a quiet struggle he has worked with since the beginning but he smiles thinly at the tenor in the room. It is doing what it was meant to do.

Sharon Smith has posed:
Sharon Smith paused in the middle of the sidewalk. She stared off at a tall blonde woman pushing a stroller, narrowing her eyes as something about the woman seemed distinctly familiar. The narrowed eyes grew into wide blue pools of wild excitement as she came to realize just who it was. The mutant practically jumped out of her shoes, flailing her arms for attention as she bounced over. "Sarah! It's me!" she beamed.

Catseye's excited gaze was met with one of a very different nature. The woman stared back into Sharon's wide blue eyes with a look that could only be descirbed as pure terror, disgust, or distain. Sarah quickly snatched her baby from the comfort of its stroller, clutching it tightly to her chest to shield it from the purple haired woman who's arms stretched out for a hug. "Get the hell away from me you filthy, disgusting... abomination!"

The woman abandoned her stroller and dashed off down the street as quickly as her feet would carry her, leaving Catseye deflated, her arms still wide for the expected hug that never came. A look of confusion came over Catseye's face, followed by a deep frown. Hatred of mutants was not uncommon, but the woman's hatred seemed far more personal. Personal enough to bring a well of tears to Sharon's eyes.

"Oh go brush your teeth!" Sharon shouted in a very odd retort, but the woman was gone.

Sharon Smith has posed:
Uatu and the watchers quietly turned away. They appeared at a time and place far before Catseye was left abadoned on the street. It was far before the woman had a baby, and far before Catseye was Catseye.

Floating just outside the window of a plain suburban home, the watchers observed a young girl with her kitten. "I already brushed my teeth! Kitty did too!" the child whined.

The girl's mother sighed, seeming suspicious of the claim, but not suspicious enough to demand she do it again. "Okay hun, goodnight Sarah."

"Goodnight mom!" the girl impatiently beamed back, eager for her mother's departure.

As soon as the door clicked shut, the kitten poofed into the shape of a full sized human girl. A familiar pair of bright blue eyes were wide with excitement. "Let's play dress-up!"

"YES!" Sarah beamed, stampeeding hastily to her closet to gather the supplies. Sharon was the best imaginary friend ever! She was fun, smart, pretty, and whenever Sarah needed someone to snuggle, she would puff out the, softest, fluffiest, blackest coat of fur you could ever imagine! "We're going to make you a princess!" Sarah boasted.

Sharon Smith has posed:
Saddly, this was the last day Sarah would have an imaginary friend. It all ended with a toothbrush. The bedroom door swung open suddenly as her father peeked in. "Sarah did you brush your-..." He paused with a look of confusion as he saw not one but two little girls sitting in his daughter's bedroom. Usually there was only one little girl he had to worry about not brushing their teeth. "Who on earth is this?" he asked.

Sharon quickly poofed back into the form of a kitten, staring up at Sarah's father with the cutest, most innocent look she could muster. Kittens were good at giving cute looks. Unfortunately, the cute look had no effect as the father stared back with a look of horror. He quickly dashed in to get between the shapeshifting mutant and his daughter. "Get the hell out of here you wretched abomination!"

A chase ensued. The dad trampled down the hallway to chase Sharon out of the house. Along the way he grabbed and threw at her anything worth throwing, while Catseye crashed into anything worth crashing into. It wasn't an elegant chase. Instead it was something more worthy of Benny Hill music, as it involved a great deal of slipping, tripping, and fragile props flying through the air and smashing into pieces.

Eventually Catseye made it out the kitchen window, but not before sending a pile of plates crashing onto the kitchen floor. The window slammed shut loudly behind her. "Lois, there was a mutant in the house!" the father's voice echoed from within the house. "Sharon, the cat, was a god damned mutant!"

The kitten sat in the cold wet grass and stared saddly at the closed window, listening to the commotion within. She would never be an imaginary friend ever again. Her eyes drifted up to the bedroom window the watchers were hovering over. She almost caught Uatu's eye, but he and his companions vanished before their gaze could meet. The kitten slowly turned and padded away, hunting for someplace warm and dry to spend the night.

Donna Troy has posed:
    The scene shifts, and the watchers find themselves viewing the boardwalk waterfront at St. Martin's Island in Metropolis. It's a warm summer's day and the boardwalk is full of people enjoying the sunshine and entertainments. Amongst them a particular pair stand out; the teenage mutant Madison Evans would not on her own stand out in a crowd if she wasn't demonstrating her telekinetic powers, but her companion is certainly unusual.

    The pair stand talking close to a stall selling funnel cakes, one of which is in Madison's hands. Her companion, an unkempt girl with rainbow-dyed hair who appears to around Madison's age, puts a finger into the funnel cake and starts swirling her finger around. Batter, chocolate and strawberries follow in her finger's wake, spiralling more and more rapidly until the entire thing has become a miniature tornado of reds and browns in Madison's hand.

    "What are we looking at here?" asks the watcher Xecu, curiously.

    "A youthful race learning responsibility," Uatu answers. "There is an artificial realm within the astral plane formed some time ago by a human sorcerer. A century and a half ago a human writer wrote a fiction based on visions of that realm which became immensely popular amongst human-kind. At this moment in time, the realm had become dangerously unstable. It could have caused significant astral disruption, but one of the young human's team mates sacrificed himself to stabilize it, by accepting an eternal sleep whereby he could continue to dream the narrative of that realm. "

    "Dream the..." the watcher Acba peers forwards, studying the girl with rainbow hair. He notes her mismatched eyes, her gaunt features, the dog leash she's holding, which has no dog on the end of it yet moves as it were around the neck of some invisible hound sniffing out the area. "Oh... oh! This one is one of /them/, isn't it."

    "THERE. NoW it'S A Proper fuNnel" the rainbow-haired girl Tells Madison.

    "Indeed," Uatu replies. "These young heroes looked for a more permanent solution, and one that would not require their friend's sacrifice. They negotiated with the fundamental forces of the universe to achieve it."

Donna Troy has posed:
    "I Lost my doggY" the rainbow-haired girl says to Acba, who is visibly startled at being addressed by one of the people in this vision of the past. "HaVE YoU SeEN HIm?"

    Madison seems wholly unaware that her companion has turned to address the watchers. "...I don't know that the vendor would want you messing with all of their funnel cakes, but I gotta admit - that is pretty neat," she says as she examines the tasty tornado in her hands.

    "Yes. They can do things like that," Uatu says with the faintest sigh. "Let's move on." The scene fades, but the rainbow-haired girl remains. She grins at Uata, and points to Acba. "IT'S A TRAP! " she tells him with a giggle, before vanishing.

Kiana has posed:
The Watchers appear near a road running along the ocean's edge. The sun is warm, and the palm trees and lush vegetation have the feeling of the tropics to them. The senses of the Watchers tell them far more than just what their eyes can see. "This is the first place you showed us, two cycles of Terra about her sun ago?" one of the Watchers asks. "Genosha."

He and the other Watchers look about. "It has come a long way. It was little more than destruction the last time we were here," one says before turning to Uatu.

"Yes, the mutants and humans have worked together to rebuild the island. The city," Uatu says, motioning towards the skyline of Hammer Bay not too far away, "Is being rebuilt. The population is only a fraction what it used to be. But more people are coming in search of work and opportunity. Though this is the arrival I brought you to see," Uatu says, motioning over towards where a few buildings perch near a crossroads where another major road runs inland. A diner and a small garage and a few houses. And a jewelry stand set by the road.

A golden-skin man stands talking to Old Ned, the elderly mutant who owns the jewelry stands. Josh Foley inquiring as to prices, when a boy with Latin American coloring comes running up, saying he found a wounded girl in the nearby surf.

The three run down to the beach. Josh moving to the mocha-skinned young woman who was dragged up out of the waves' reach. Her body covered with bruises and cuts, so many that approaching he might think she's bled out. But as he checks her with his power, he declares that she's still alive.

The next moments are tense, especially for Rafael, the younger teenaged boy who found her. Joshua starts to heal her before pausing. "Water, we need to get her into the water," he declares after finding her lungs full of water, but that somehow seeming right for her. Taking her back out into the light surf, he heals her enough that she regains consciousness. Kiana sits up in the water, uncertainty painted in her eyes and expression.

"A girl with no idea who she is, or where she comes from. Washed ashore on an island of mutants, who of course assume she's a mutant since she can breathe water and control it's flow," Uatu says. "Her story goes deeper than she knows. But she's started on a good path, making some friends who may stick fast to her. But by the time she learns her own history, she might look back on these days of ignorance, and consider them bliss," Uatu says. "Maybe next time I'll show you her past that she has yet to learn."

"Come," Uatu tells the others. "There is more to show you." The group of Watchers disappears, moving again through Time and Space.

Jinx has posed:
"Water. Earth. Fire. Air. Mind." Uato states as Jinx moves through the forms. Her internal balance has been improving daily with practice. Donna's mantra of constant training hits a trigger inside her implanted by H.I.V.E. more than she likely knows. It's an anchor to keep her focused on the now. "And yet for all her strides in magical ability of late, it is the heart that remains broken in Jinx."

The fire twirls from her hand as it glows pink; but then falters and she feels her heart getting heavy once more. She pauses and stares off in to the distance. "Jinx mourns the life that was stolen from her unable to see the new life she has found," Uato explains to his compatriots. Her eyes well up in tears and she slumps.

"A life stolen from her by a nefarious organisation known as H.I.V.E.. They specialise in all forms of mind control from simple psychology to big magic. Jinx was meant to be their big magic but they pushed her too far and she escaped. In body, but not yet in mind."

Jinx has retreated down in to a squat on the vibrant green grass. In the distance the skyscrapers of Metropolis but nearer her home the Titans Tower. Curling in to a ball, hugging herself, the normally confident sorceress in this quiet moment allows herself to be true and raw and broken. Who she really is.

Donna Troy has posed:
    There is another watcher, a figure clad in black-and-silver armor leaning against a tree a hundred or so feet away. She has been quietly watching Jinx struggle to master the new magical potency that has recently opened up to her, and struggle to master herself. When Jinx seems to give up, she straightens up and walks over to the pink-haired sorceress and crouches down in the grass next to her, resting one hand gently on Jinx's shoulder.

    "Hey Jinx," Donna says in her smoke-and-honey Themysciran accented voice. She takes in a deep breath, and lets it out slowly. "Finding it tough?" Donna takes her hand away again, and sits down, leg's crossed, next to Jinx. She looks out over the water of the Delaware bay, sunlight dancing on wave-tops. "There's a long road ahead of you. That can be daunting. Sometimes it can help if you remember to look back over your shoulder from time to time to remind yourself of how far you have already travelled. You've come a long way you know."

    Donna breaks away from looking out at the water to turn and smile at Jinx. "These two did not meet under the best circumstances," Uatu tells his fellow watchers. "The warrior is part of the heroic group called the Titans. As well as being a warrior she is something of an artist. Her first public exhibition of photographs was destroyed before it opened when the Warzoon invaded. Her second was destroyed on the opening night by Jinx. The Titans captured Jinx, but have given her a chance at redemption. Despite that grievance, the warrior has been steadfast in supporting Jinx since, and accompanied her on much of the sorceresses' journey."

    "Believe it or not I get the same way too, sometimes," Donna says. "People think I'm full of confidence all the time, but that's not exactly true. Ever since I started training as a warrior, I have trained with those who have a millennia more experience than me. Rationally I should just be happy with how far I have come, but it's easier to see how far I still have to go. But you know what?" Donna's smile widens. "I'll make it. And so will you. You're not /alone/ any more, Jinx."

Jinx has posed:
Jinx wipes at the corners of her eyes. A subtle look of betrayal at Donna seeing her like this. It's not the first time. Likely won't be the last. No one else in the world has seen this side of her. No one but the watcher Uato. The urge to pull away from that simple touch is born from mistreatment, unhealed wounds, and a profound difficulty with trust.

But Jinx has come to recognise Donna as one of her biggest cheerleaders despite all that she has done in the past. The number of people she can count as friends rests easily on a single hand. Donna is one of those people. Just what a friend means is still an evolving concept for Jinx; but she wraps her hands about the solid Amazon and hugs her.

Jinx rises back up and wipes away her tears a second time. "If /we're/ going to stop Thaddeus Sivana and the Five, we'll need real mental protection. No gimmicks this time. Pure bloody minded practice," she says in her less than posh English accent. "I want to use what HIVE taught me against them. I could dominate the minds of the Titans over and over again until they are immune enough that Psimon has no power over us."

"Jinx fears nothing more so than a violation of mind. As was done to her far too many times as a teenager. This is what it means to be a hero instead of a villain. Triumph over fear instead of succumbing to it," Uato explains to the other watchers.

Donna Troy has posed:
    Donna's smile grows wider until it becomes a grin. "That's the spirit," she says to Jinx, standing up as Jinx stands up and brushing grass from the palms of her hands.

    Only a few months ago, Jinx talking about dominating the minds of the Titans would have got a very different reaction, involving hitting at the very least, and probably threats of feeding her to Raven. It's a mark of how far Jinx has indeed come that she can say something like that without eliciting distrust.

    "I have a plan of my own when it comes to Psimon," she tells Jinx. "See the way I figure it, it's very hard for someone to use psychic powers when they're lying on the floor unconscious. You get me close enough to punch him and I'll deal with the rest. Teamwork, right? We're in this together, Jinx. Always."

Warren Worthington has posed:
Warren Worthington III, the unmatched Angel of the X-men, is seen within his luxury apartment, just last year, entertaining a guest. It's Doug Ramsey, also known as Cypher, an often underestimated mutant that the Watchers and Warren himself have seen come of age in recent years. Warren here found both a chance to push that development further and perhaps discovered his own path to making a difference outside of wearing tights.

"He does look good in tights, though." one of the Watchers says.

Warren Worthington has posed:
Through the parting mists, the Watchers can see Doug and Warren sitting on well-upholstered furniture and having the following exchange:

He mixes the drink carefully and makes a highball for himself, taking a sip as he comes around to settle into a custom easy chair, his wings accommodated, allowed to rest against supports extending to either side. "Put simply, I've had an unexpected job opening. My Chief Systems analyst got poached by a rival corporation. I might have prevented it, I got a last minute heads-up from an intermediary. But when I looked into his work, I found it...substandard. Tangled. I think a lot of the metrics for our data management across the board throughout Worthington may be woefully inefficient. So I need someone with the capability of untangling such a web. And yes, Kitty and I are...close, but she has a full time job already. I'm not saying you're the second best in any way, in that regard. Frankly, I wouldn't know. But I'd also like to help the career of a fellow mutant and a fellow Xavier's grad.

Doug thinks about that, as he tilts that copper cup from side to side. "Well," Doug muses, "I'm pretty good at data analytics, interpretation, extrapolation..." He perches on a stool. "I work remotely a lot. There are times when I need to disentangle myself from uh - everything. Decompress, reduce my data intake until I can get back on an even keel."

He thinks about that, and then he adds, "To be honest, I don't know if you'd find anybody with a better set of tools to do the job you're asking for than me. I suppose I could be humbler about that. But I would want to know about pay, benefits - all that stuff." He takes a sip of his drink, and then he muses, "Hmmm. Australian Finger Lime. Nice." He clears his throat.

"To be honest I've freelanced for some time now. It'd be nice to have steady work."

Warren Worthington has posed:
There's a sparkle in Warren's eye there. The Watchers know that Warren understood that he could offer another path. Not every X-man, not every mutant, can be a warrior and a fighter. Warren could hold his own, but he'd never have the firepower of Jean Grey or the ferocity of Wolverine.

But he does have a lot of money. So maybe it's time he started finding jobs for his fellow mutants and getting them to work on building a future where mutants are included. Plus: their superpowers are totally useful and will help him make EVEN MORE MONEY.

Capitalists. Whatcha gonna do?

Colette O'Connail has posed:
    Kate Bishop enters a bar, joining Colette O'Connail at a table. On the table is a bottle of whiskey that is already empty enough to suggest that Colette's pre-gaming of this meet up has been somewhat spectacular. Kate hooks the chair opposite Colette with a foot, pulls it out and sits down. "That, is a stout start to the bottle, Trouble," she says, looking amused "This all social or is the world ending again... or did you join a team?"

    Colette pours out a whiskey for Kate, and tops up her own glass. "Yeah I joined the *beep*ing Justice League Kate," Colette answers with a grin. "Apparently Superman is retiring and they said they needed someone as upright and moral as he is to take his place, how could I say no?"

    Yes, Uatu is beeping out the swearing of this particular playback. Xecu raises a brow. "Oh I remember two years ago, you started to show this swearing one doing something with Harley Quinn and cut it short. It is good of you to spare us the bad language Uatu," he says dryly.

    Despite the whiskeys already on the table, Colette orders more drinks. "I thought I'd ask your advice for a code name. I know you super types are into those. I'm pretty sure anything I came up with would be vetoed by Batman and all those guys," she says as she knocks back her whiskey, and pours herself another one."

    "This appears to be a demonstration of the human propensity for sarcasm rather than heroic endeavors," Xecu notes.

    "The uh... swearing one... is not exactly human," Uatu replies. "

    Xecu furrows his brow in concentration. "Oh so I see. How interesting, I didn't think anything of that nature still existed. Will this ancient remnant of the darkness of the Empire of Tears consume the heroic one?"

    As the conversation between the Watchers continues, so does the conversation between Colette and Kate (and the drinking, at a frightening rate). "Viltrumite? Sounds like a brand of toilet cleaner," Colette says, raises her bottle in a salute. "NOTHING gets your toilet cleaner than VILTRUMITE! Now with oxy-release foaming action, to clean in all those hard to reach places. Kills 99% of all known germs!"

    "Surprisingly, no." Uatu gestures to the vision of Colette and Kate. "These two are friends. The mote of darkness has embodied itself in human form for its own reasons, and becoming human has had a surprising effect on it. Indeed, it played a significant role in the reformation of the hero's team. Several of the team's members, including this one, have urged her to use her powers the way they do, though as you see she resists."

    The conversation between the pair of drinkers continues. "Hey you're always accusing me of caring more than I admit," Colette tells Kate, laughing. Well... maybe. But only for my friends, mind you. Everyone else can go *beep* themselves. Or each other, for that matter. "

    "Do you think it ever will?" Xecu asks.

    "Unlikely," Uatu says after a few moments thought. "It's as likely to revert to its nature, which is to seek the destruction of all life. It was intended as a weapon of desperation, after all, in the war against the Oans. So far, it has contented itself with masquerading as a teacher and occasionally helping out those amongst Earth's heroes it considers friends. Yet even that is remarkable, given its origins. Humanity has had an interesting impact on it."

    "Not just humanity," Xecu replies. "I detect something of the Martian about it. How odd. I suspect this entity has a rather convoluted backstory."

Barry Allen has posed:
When the scene shifts once more, Uatu and the Watchers find themselves in Metropolis again, right in the downtown core of the glimmering city, brightly lit by the towers that rise up and stretch towards the heavens. the home of Superman. The home of the Hall of Justice. Perhaps the foremost center of earthly technology and a shining example of what a city can aspire to.

So naturally enough Paradise attracts more then it's fair share of serpents.

For sometime now the Justice League and it's allies have found themselves under seige, defending against the depredations of a collective of their greatest foes, intent on claiming what htey feel is justly their own. Power, riches, or simple revenge. No longer standing alone against their respective enemies, they have taken a page from those same foes and grouped together to better achieve those goals, to thwart the greatest heroes the planet has to offer.

And while they may have had their fair share of setbacks, they've had their victories too. And still they endure.

So when yet another power surge registers in the city so familiar to some of the others that have been noted shortly before some appearance of the self proclaimed Injustice League it is no surprise that one of their opponents is there. In a Flash.

The Metropolis Police Department Forensic Lab might as well be a second home to one Barry Allen, for all the time he spends there, working through case after case. While the Flash might help take criminals off the streets, it is Barry Allen that keeps them off, finding the necessary evidence, testing and cateloguing it to insure that the the proper authorities have everything they need to secure convictions against some of the city's worst.

Of course, it helps considerably that he can manage that substantial caseload with a little help from the Speed Force here and there. Not to mention keeping an eye on the city.

Like on this evening. While most members of the League are only an alert away, it is often Barry that is first on the scene. With good reason. He is, afterall, the Fastest Man Alive. Or at least pretty damn close. So when the alert sounds, when those all too familiar fluctuating energy signals indicate that one of those portals have opened up in the heart of Downtown Metropolis, Barry shoots a quick look around the quiet lab, only a couple of members of the team still working this late. "I'm just going to step out to grab a coffee. Anyone want anything?" he asks, striding towards the door, the absent responses taken in as he steps out into the hall.

And as the door swings closed behind him he suddenly blurs, costume expanding from the ring he wears on his finger. In a literal flash he is changed, the scarlet and gold costume gracing his form as he speeds out of the Metropolis Police Headquarters and out onto the streets of the city, faster then any normal eye could ever hop to track.

It takes less then a beat of the heart to reach the streets of the city to see those familiar figures there, standing, waiting for him. So many old foes gathered in one place. United in purpose. Foes who were always dangerous. But even more so now that they are under the sway of the Injustice League. And as fast as he is, they seem to be waiting.

Barry Allen has posed:
A gout of fire lashes out, blanketting the nbearby street, lighting up the night. But as quick as it is, the Flash still darts past it. Heatwave.

Almost immediately hot is followed by cold and a brilliant beam of white-ish-blue intensity, lashes out, leaving slick ice coating the pavement, the lamp post and a mailbox that line the street. But again the Scarlet Speedster darts away from Captain Cold's gambit.

A figure cackles above and exploding jacks rain down from above as the Trickster skates by in mid air. The sky overhead crackles, the distant boom of thunder suddenly brought very much to the immediate scene as a bolt of lightning sears down out of the cloudless sky as if summoned from on high. But not by any god, no, just the green and yellow clad form of the Weather Wizard hovering up above.

Again, the Flash avoids the gambits, that red and gold blur darting in among the attacks, weaving amongst his foes, pausing only for a moment to begin to remove those innocent bystanders caught nearby from the frey, to speed them away to safety.

But each way he darts there is another of his old foes. Mirror Master. Pied Piper. Captain Boomerang. The Top. Abra Kadabra. The Turtle.

Then another blur, this one the equal and opposite to his own in yellow and red appears, slamming into him and knocking him off-stride, knocking him to the pavement as he goes skidding to a stop. Eobard Thawne. The Reverse Flash.

And finally, emerging from the shadows, the hulking form of the returned Grodd, head still bandaged from Miss Martian's assault on him before he was whisked away, lost in space for weeks. But now returned by the Injustice League.

The Rogues. His Rogues.

<< Looks like you stand alone Flash >> that beastial voice sounds inside his head, nearly a roar filled with rage as the massive gorilla glares at him with hate-filled eyes.

Slowly rising to his feet, the Scartlet Speedster looks undaunted. "I would have thought you would have learned now. I don't stand alone. Not when it counts," Varry says quietly. Confidently. And sure enough shadowy shapes already approach through Metropolis' night sky, through the air and on the ground. The Justice League and their allies.

<< Neither do we, >> comes Grodd's growled response. << Not anymore. >>

And their, behind the Rogues more shapes emerge from the darkness, so many old foes of so many of their members. So many threats all gathered in one place. All seemingly united to one cause.

Again the scene fades out as Uatu and the other Watchers move on to the next moment to catch their attention. "Some of the greatest heroes this planet, perhaps this universe has known, pitted against forces of darkness, great and small.Only time will tell who has the greatest power, the greater strength of unity..."

Dick Grayson has posed:
    The Watchers are next taken to a dockside warehouse where a somewhat mismatched group have gathered. Mostly comprised of Outsiders, with a couple of non-regulars along for the ride. Nightwing is introducing the person he has brought with him to the others.

     "This is Essix. She wants to help people the way we do, so I'm training her in all the important skills. She hasn't quite gotten brooding on a gargoyle quite right yet, but that's a fairly advanced subject." Changing topics, he continues "So we're going to violate international borders, from what I understand. I do hope you all thought of ways to keep covert."

    The group may be far away from home in Gotham, but they're protecting their city anyway, stopping a major arms shipment at the source instead of waiting for it to filter into the city.

    Xecu muses "They risk going this far to protect those they care for. And are even willing to take this alien with them on this Nightwing's say-so. Perhaps this race is growing just a little."

    The heroes plan out their entry and jobs, then move into action. Things go mostly as hoped, except that the arms dealer turns out to be a speedster. Fortunately, so is Bart Allen. After some high speed exchanges, Bart finishes the fight with a well-place knee, leaving his opponent on the ground.

    In the meantime, the others have knocked out or disabled the normal human guards. Essix did her part by forming herself into a metal box around the crates of arms. Once the fight is over, she returns to her human form, and the heroes look through the crates, finding that the weapons are all hidden inside mannequin arms.

Uatu muses "I assume the smuggling method was partly humor, as sometimes humans refer to guns as firearms, or just arms. Still they did protect their city and capture the criminals."

    "I may never understand this race's humor, but yes, they succeeded." states Xecu as the scene fades out.

Jean Grey has posed:
Previously, on X-Men...

It's a long story, a story of many parts. Some of them are decades old. An expedition to Antarctica, a young woman with blonde hair sliding on the ice, and a young man her age reaching out his hand to save her. And then, a high-pitched screech.

Years later, and that young man is older, standing with Professor Xavier - who is younger than we know him now. They discuss the secrets of the human genome, while the young members of the First Class wait in an exam room beyond. They shake hands. Great minds, doing great work.

The mists draw back around the man, leaving him standing alone, highlighted in darkness, all the rest of reality falling away. Dr. Karl Lykos. And then behind him, the superimposed vision of his Pteron alter-ego: Sauron.

The scene becomes a montage. The X-Men fight him, more than once, in New York and in the Savage Land. Sometimes, some of them are dinosaurs (T-Rex Jean can be seen waving her little arms in frustration). More often than not, they win. Eventually, Lykos sits alone in a prison cell. He has returned to his human form, to the man he was. He is full of regrets, for wasted life, wasted talent, and a love he cannot be with. Years pass, and with good behavior, he is allowed to work remotely with other doctors. It isn't a trick, a ploy. He wants to do this, to make ammends. And he succeeds.

A flash, and elsewhere, a container in a medical lab is grasped by a tall and lanky figure, who teleports away before SHIELD agent Romanoff can close in on him.

Another flash, Lykos' cell, where the wall is shattered by the Rhino in the midst of a prison riot. He reaches out-

Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, the home base of most Antarctic missions. Tanya Anderssen, the young woman from before is now herself an experienced scientist and researcher, leading a team. Without warning, they are attacked by a squadron of feather-winged humanoids, Aerians from the Savage Land. They drag her away, as she reaches for a photo of her and Karl together.

Ororo Munro picks it up, a day later. The X-Men are there on Sauron's trail. He arrives, with his own Pteron army. Neither side knows the truth of the situation. They fight. Rahne is injured, Sauron rebuffed. Elsewhere, the bird-men drag Tanya before a woman who looks like them superficially, but is not. Before the Watchers, her hologram projection is transparent in its origin. Cal'syee Neramani, the Shi'ar Princess known as Deathbird.

Her soldiers drag Tanya into a lab, inject her with the last remnant of a race perhaps better left extinct. "It is imperfect, like this. It creates only monsters, not the intelligence I require. Stabilize it. You know his research, and we have brought you his work. Cure yourself, save yourself- or die a monster, along with everyone on this planet."

The X-Men know little of this, as they come to the Savage Land in their pursuit of their old rival. Rogue kneels to give scritches to Zabu, the intelligent saber-tooth tiger and companion to Kevin Plunder - Ka-Zar of the Savage Land - as he pins a captured Aerian near their homestead.

Later, the X-Men feast with the Autumn People, old friends and allies. With guides, they set out downriver on what will be a long and treacherous journey...

Jean Grey has posed:
Here, the scene draws back, as the Watchers place it in context. They look back not a few decades, but 100 million years, as the Celestial called The Progenitor descends upon a much younger Earth.

The great cosmic titan surveys the world.

Through its work, many species will be born or changed. At the southern pole of the younger planet, it establishes just one of many experiments, preserving life at a snapshot in time. Later, it departs, leaving its work behind

The Eternals become the stewards of its porjects, and the great computer that maintains them.

Eons pass. The Eternals struggle with the Deviants, what they call those whose altered evolution is too quick or unstable. A familiar note.

Eons pass. The land looks different now, still lush, still inhabited by the ancient beasts preserved here, but it is decorated by the occasional elegant Atlantean spire. The Celestial machines are ancient, yet their influence is visible in this highly advanced society. An Atlantean sorcerer-technician wears an access token as an amulet, as he works upon one of the machines.

Again in the present, the X-Men continue their joutney, down river, over waterfalls, across wide plains. Their journey is treacherous, because that ancient system has marked them an anomaly, and a danger. Life here is to be perserved as it existed, or as it grows naturally. Their powers exceed the parameters, and must be used little, if at all...

They encounter many ancient creatures, and meet many strange humanoids, some beastlike, some barely distinct from human. Rahne 'negotiates' with a feline tribe, balancing violent aggression with submission.

Upon the plain, they are stopped by an almost medieval procession, riding ostrich-like dinosaurs, knights of the Kingdom of Lemuria. In their palace, they hear of a prophecy of knights and fallen princesses, even as they agree to search for their missing Queen Leanne.

Aboard a ship, they cross the inland sea. They are boarded by Aerians... under the leadership of 'kidnapped' Queen herself.

The Watchers zoom in to show the amulet she wears, the same seen earlier.

After a few punching-based misunderstandings and capture, an attack by Pterons and MORE punching, they discover they are all on the same side, each rebelling against a different tyrant: Leanne against her scheming uncle, the Aerians against the 'false goddess' (who we know, clever viewers, is a sneaky evil Shi'ar!), and the Pteron Phangor against Sauron himself.

The fellowship is forged, and they travel to Mount Doom to face Sauron. The dinosaur one. But he really does live in a volcano. A volcano, they discover, helps power the ancient computer system that controls the Savage Land and bars access to their powers.

For some reason, Jean and Rogue make out, Jean collapses, and then Rogue and the Queen use her amulet to help access the machine and reboot it. With their full powers returned - briefly, perhaps, but long enough - the X-Men rally.

Storm amd Tabitha Smith unleash everything they've been held back from using on Sauron, while Emma Frost turns his dino legions against him. The fellowship is successful.

Later, Karl Lykos, again in human form, is handed over to SHIELD. Free of the Sauron personality, he relays what he knows...

In the meantime, SHIELD has been busy. Following the initial theft, in montage, they raid dozens of labs, sometimes dealing only with small time criminals, but often encountering ones armed with high-tech gear. The find Rhino, still loose from the prison break, but now transformed by the strange virus. More than once, Natasha Romanoff squares off against that lanky, shrouded figure she met at the first break-in.

Finally, on the Russian-Kazakh border, they stop an attempt to use an ICBM to launch something into space. The Black Widow (with assistance from Richard Stadler and a VERY big shotgun) downs her recurring foe, a Shi'ar spy. The rocket payload reveals mutated biological super-spore.

Jean Grey has posed:
And thus, the final act.

SHIELD has identified the bioweapon as utilizing Brood DNA, introduced into Lykos' original cancer-fighting retrovirus. The X-Men, on intel from their captive, travel to the Aerie Shalan, where Tanya is held, and where the surrounding jungles are now utterly infested with mutated dino-Brood. They rescue the woman, who is now held in stasis, nearly transformed into a new Brood Queen, retaining only the last remnants of her human intelligence.

In the throne room of the spire, they fight Deathbird - or at least, a hologram of her - as a Shi'ar scout ship uncloaks above the jungle (with a very confused Rahne sprawled on top of it). Rogue is stabbed, Jean goes a bit nuts, the ship explodes-

-and they're all teleported out to the boundary area near Ka-Zar's home. The Celestial Computer is a bit mad.

(Which is why, a bit later, they bring Doug Ramsay to talk to it. He's really good at that. The montage her involves the Sun Priestess Zaladane and a giant humanoid face in a mountainside.)

With the Celestial programming de-activated, a coalition is brought in to fight what is now a rapidly expanding Brood infestation across the central basis of the Savage Land. The images here are as impressive as they are quick in succession:

Wonder Woman leads an Amazonian phalanx against a wave of ravanous brood, backed by units of Autumn People and Lemurians mounted on an assortment of dinosaurs, charging in alongside Kanga Cavalry.

In the background of this, a colossal, titanic Brood monstrosity lurches through the jungle, blasted by Kryptonians, Green Lanterns, and Martians - and a whole damn SHIELD Hellicarrier. It refuses to die, until Phil Coulson hands off a bandolier of bioengineered antiviral grenades into the hand of one Alura of Krypton, who tosses them down the thing's mouth.

The final assault happens on the spire of the Aerie itself. Literally. The Hulk runs through the jungle, and starts pushing the mountain over. Meanwhile, the X-Men fight their way inside, fighting Brood - not the insane mutated varieties, but ones now displaying the full intelligence of their species. Some display superpowers stolen from those who have been previously infected, mimicking everyone from Tabitha to Wonder Woman herself.

On the Hellicarrier, in a containment lab, Tanya screams as she fights against the emerging Brood Hivemind. And on the command deck, Coulson speaks with Fury, receiving authorization for nuclear launch.

The X-Men reach the central area, seeing hundreds of the same strange spore-pods as SHIELD found before, which the spire starts launching into the sky. Yet in orbit, a Shi'ar cruiser (a friendly one, not a Deathbird one!) helps shoot them down as they exit the atmosphere.

On the Hellicarrier, two sets of hands move in synch, turning keys, and then pressing launch buttons. A missile streaks toward the toppling spire...

...before an explosion blooms, born for just an instant, before contracting inward, and then pulsing out again. But this time, it is not a nuclear blast, but an aura of fire, spreading its wings outward into a familiar shape.

A final montage shows the aftermath. Celebrations and feasting at the Lemurian palace, in the Fall People village, people shaking hands and congratulating each other aboard the Hellicarrier. Another day's work, another time they can count the world saved.

The image zooms out to orbit again, as a single speck flies past the Shi'ar, into space.

"Do you think they know they missed one?"

Kurt Wagner has posed:
As Uatu and the Watchers continue their flitting through scenes, of moments great and small they settle on a dark, quiet street. The sounds of the city still rise up all around, the hum of traffic both in the distance and near, broken by the occasional passing car. Few slow or stop, not everyone comfortable this close to this particular neighborhood.

Though in fairness more then a few of the locals probably prefer it that way.

Not that there is anything that immediately feels wrong, the streets relatively neat, relatively quiet. The nearby park is dark, quiet now, the little playground there deserted except for a for a handful of figures. One is small, a boy no more then eight or perhaps ten, though the curling goat horns that poke through his dark hair add a little to the height. And make him stand out.

Particularly from the cluster of boys who circle him, taunting and jeering, crowding in close though not quite worked up enough to actually attack the frightened young mutant. Older, teenagers, though clearly not old enough to know better. Not that age alone necessarily teaches the right lessons.

"I jus' wanna go home," the scared mutant says, a waver in his voice though he does not directly meet the gaze of any of his tormentors. It is a self-defense mechanism, sadly ingrained. Don't meet those eyes. Don't challenge them. And on the street nearby another pair of eyes sees it, golden eyes that easily through the darkest shadows. It is a look that he is not entirely unfamiliar with. One that he grew up seeing in the reflections in windows, or puddles on the ground. At least until he found another way to deal with it.

"Awwww, isn't that sweet? The little freak just wants to go home. There's a grassy little lawn just over there. Is that your home goat boy?" the largest of the boys asks, pressing a little closer.

The wind rustles through the trees but it is another sound that attracts attention, once that comes from atop the playstructure, the little hut that creates a sort of shelter at the apex of the twisting slide.

Kurt Wagner has posed:

Where there was nothing there before, a dark shadow seems to crouch there, dark enough to sound out against the backdrop of the lighted buildings across the way though nearly featureless in those shadows. Little more then a shadow itself. Except for those eyes. Brilliant yellow. "There is no need to torment the boy. Surely you can find a more entertaining way to spend the evening, Ja?" comes a faintly accented voice out of the darkness, gently chiding.

The group of teens gathered around the younger mutant boy take a step back, eyes wide as they peer up at that dark shape, the flickering motion of... is that a tail... attracting their attention and increasing their ill-ease despite the calmness of those words.

And then that *Bamf* sounds once more and the shadow is closer, only feet away there on the ground, amonst the swings. "On your way," that gentle voice reiterates. Which is enough to send the small pack turning on their heel, racing off, out of the park and down the street, panicked glances tossed back into the shadows that lay between the little pools of light cast from the streetlights above.

The small horned mutant youth raises wary eyes towards Nightcrawler. While all sorts might reside in Bushwick, not many look like the fuzzy blue elf, even here. "Are you a monster?" the boy asks slowly, instinctively taking a step back.

That dark fuzzy visage in front of him suddenly smiles, teeth gleaming in the faint evening glow of the city. "I do not think so my young friend, though others sometimes seem to think I am," he offers up before extending that three-fingered hand. "No, I am just Kurt. And you are out late. Let me walk you home..."

"Not all battles can be so easily settled by a fight, by violence. Some go on and on, fought again and again, every day," Uatu murmurs to his fellows before they fade away, moving on.

Kian has posed:
Personal Communication: Kian k'Rhytak t'Kiare to Ria q'San t'Akiar
My Lady Ria:
    I can state categorically that I will learn the Earth methods of dealing with violent threats.  I do not know when, but I have been given evidence that I eventually do.

Personal communication: Ria q'San t'Akiar to Kian k'Rhytak t'Kiare:
    Can you explain in any detail?

Personal Communication: Kian k'Rhytak t'Kiare to Ria q'San t'Akiar
    My Lady Ria:
    Probably not without sounding like I have completely lost my grip on reality.

Personal communication: Ria q'San t'Akiar to Kian k'Rhytak t'Kiare:
    Explain anyway.

Personal Communication: Kian k'Rhytak t'Kiare to Ria q'San t'Akiar
    My Lady Ria:
    I met myself from some two millennia in the future and that version of me was quite capable of applying Earth-style methods of dealing with violent threats.

    There is a very long pause in communications.

Personal communication: Ria q'San t'Akiar to Kian k'Rhytak t'Kiare:
    Some day I will learn that when you say you can't explain in a sensible way, that you really can't.  Today was not that day.  Carry on.  And are you really joining with two Earth... no, never mind, I don't want to know.

Austin Reese has posed:
The Watchers are brought into Gotham City, deep into the heart of it, the ACE Chemical factory, and the Joker, cackling madly as he dangles several factory workers over large vats labeled 'ACID: Do Not Enter', the hostages hung up with several winches. Outside of the factory, The Batman and his newest protege Osprey are racing to the scene, bursting inside, only to find themselves surrounded by a multitude of the Joker's goons, each of them wearing a silly outfit of purple. Batman and Osprey leap into the fight, visible BIFFs and POWs appearing as they strike at the Joker's minions.

Batman's focus is on the Joker, while Osprey's is on the hostages. The pair of them are seen speaking in a strange tone, and despite the seriousness of the situation, don't seem to be that concerned, even Batman is telling jokes as they fight!

Osprey has made his way up to the catwalk, finding a conviniently labeled button labeled 'HOSTAGES' that he presses to release them.

Batman finally fights his way to the Joker, avoiding the acid bath that the Clown Prince tries to hit him with, socking the Joker and knocking the large barreled revolver out of his hands.

"You're going up the river, Joker, so it's time I boxed you up for shipping!" he says, grabbing a box and hurling it at the Clown Prince of Crime.

Then the Joker reveals the truth, and Batman calls out to Osprey. "Osprey, watch out for bombs! They'll be big black bowling balls with fuses on them! Just trust me!"

Osprey begins to search, finding a bomb looking exactly as Batman had described it, picking it up and calling out, "Batman, I found it!" Looking up at him, Batman points outside, "Throw it in the harbor, it's not that big!"

As Osprey reaches the outside catwalk overlooking the harbor, he spots a boat full of the Joker's goons trying to escape. He pulls back and throws the large bomb towards the boat, the goons scrambling into the water before the explosive turns the rowboat into splinters.

"I guess some days you can get rid of a bomb."

Uatu motions to the pair as they leave the factory, and they appear to be back to normal. "Batman suspects that one of the chemicals inside of the factory caused brief but vivid hallucinations. A decent enough explanation, if perhaps not the correct one."

Jean Grey has posed:
As the Watchers review the (lengthy) saga of the Savage Land, they occasionally take pause, shifting to look at a particular detail here or there. There is a lot there, and all very grandiose. At some point, they stand in Sauron's cave, before the Celestial computer, where Rogue now holds a passed-out Jean.

"We saw the Celestial build the computer, but what about this? Smaller things have backgrounds, too."

"I believe it was here..."

Suddenly, it's a scene of almost cliched grandeur, framed by fractured crystaline facets reflecting them in a myriad of images. Rogue holds Jean's body in a similar way, as the Phoenix burns in front of them, in all its terrifying glory. "Fire and life-"

"-No, no, we all know this part."

Now it's Halloween, several years ago. Jean and Rogue are Daphne and Velma (and Jeepers is Scooby, of course). The Watchers can blend in as partygoers, as Xaviers holds one of its annual gatherings around the pool in the back yard.

"Too far back."

This time the Watchers are winding their way through a corn maze. Jean runs by, dressed as Ariel and wielding a fork as she's chased around by zombies. Rogue is Belle. Disney this time, huh? Yet while the two cross paths in the maze, they're each escorted around by other partners, Scott dressed as a knight, and Remy as some sort of royalty.

"They're not even together."

The next time, they're dressed as... Game of Thrones characters? There's a nerd-quotient mismatch, as the former keeps quoting lore while the latter complains about difficulty breathing in her dress. Again, Rogue has Jean in her arms... only to dump her in the back of a wagon, filled with hay bales.

"I think we're getting close."

Now the pair are both cheerleaders, with "Xaviers" written across their chests. Along with Noriko, Kitty, Monet, Hope and Hank, they all navigate a truly spooky haunted house. The 'effects' are impressively realistic (courtesy of a mutant illusionist - it is a Mutant Town haunted house, after all). They all have to get through various locked rooms, and defeat a ghostly murderous doctor. At the end, there's a party. Spiked punch, the whole nine.

"Here it is."

Jean holds out her hand, with a little crystal fragment in her palm, her powers soon forming a ring to hold it. "So, um... you want to get married?"

They kiss. Apparently, she said 'yes.'

Oliver Queen has posed:
When Uatu and his entorage next appear it is in the dark. Not with the night sky above, but in the cramped confines of the underground, the network of tunnels that run beneath New York City, beneath Hell's Kitchen. The stomping ground of the Triad menacing the neighborhood above.

And the target of Team Arrow as they work to neutrailize the threat to the residents of Queen Consolidated latest project, the Phoenix Towers housing development.

Of course cleaning the streets above is not exactly an easy matter, not when there is a literal underground for the criminal element to take shelter in, but the Green Arrow and other members of the family have slowly but surely been mapping out the maze of tunnels and basements, from make shift, dug shafts to the literal support structure that runs beneath New York, supporting the power and sewage and all the other necessary workings of any great city.

It helps, of course, that they have Overwatch on the job mind.

While the Emerald Archer might be accustomed enough to skulking about in the dark, the close and cramped confines of these underground passages do make for tricky work. The tight quarters make Ollie's trademark weapon a little tougher to use. Not that it seems to hold him back too much. Nor is he exactly a one trick pony, no matter what his heroic identity might suggest.

"Moving through the southeast quadrant. It's a rat's nest down here," the blonde billionaire grouses over the comm channel as he creeps through the darkness. "I've come across at least three basements that they've broken into and commandeered for storage. Looks like a combo of drugs and weapons," he adds with a shake of his head, pitching his voice low and creeping on.

That slow progress ceases altogether for a moment, the Emerald Archer holding in place as strange noises echo up from up ahead, taking a moment to try and sort them out, to tell where they are coming from and just what is making them. One more problem down here in the dark.

As those noises fade away, Ollie resumes that journey across the broken concrete, half turned to rubble by age and the makeshift construction undertaken by the Triad in secret. "One more block and then I'll hit a couple of those caches on the way out. Calling it a night. Tell the rest of the team that we'll finish trying to map this part of the Kitchen tomorrow," he murmurs, a brief, fierce grin slipping across his features, unseen by any except perhaps the beady little eyes of the literal rats that linger in the shadows.

"If you have those drones up and ready they might go a long way to speeding this up Fel. I wouldn't exactly object to spending a little more time out of these sticking tunnels and under the open sky you know..."

Felicity Smoak has posed:
Back at the temporary homebase for Team Arrow in Manhattan works a blonde, typing quickly away at the computer as she looks over various monitors at once. Take that multitasking!

"Already ahead of you. The little rat-drones should have been exploring ahead of you when we dropped them off." Those would be the little quadraped robots that skitter around with what can only be described as a really hi-tech GoPro<tm> camera as its eyes.

Overwatch looks over at the largest monitor where there's a split screen of four different little critter drones skittering in various direction. There's one window that she focuses on when he says what quadrant he's in.

"Bingo." she says with a soft chuckle as she spies the blonde billionaire, before doing a silly little focus of that superhero butt. Snap! "I gotcha." she tells Ollie. "You're on candid camera."

If he looks behind him, there will be the two foot tall drone, sitting much like a little dog would, begging for attention. Looking at him through the lens of the drone, Felicity nods. "I checked with the three other drones. There's nothing really worth investigating in this section. I'll send them out in the other quadrant we still haven't explored. They can go on auto-pilot anyway. It'll save the team trouble"

With that, she leans back in the chair and lets out a soft sigh. Taking in a long and deep breath, she looks at the latest handywork. The new drones seem to be working to plan, and so far other than some troubles with crawling over trash, and getting knocked over by some really large rats, the four drones survived their survey so far.

Much like Uatu and the Watchers, she lets the drones continue to wander. Staring at the monitor, she can see more and more of the sewer system, and she makes mental notes of anything odd, like that one tunnel that should be closed, but isn't.

"I'll see you at home." she says, before easing on up out of the chair so she can head back to the penthouse to take a proper shower to get cleaned up for the night.

Richard Stadler has posed:
     As the Watchers travel on to another scene in the ether around them, they settle upon a scene of what could be considered a mistake. The man here stands in front of a class of students, teaching with gusto on a biology topic.

"So the place that they meet the skeletal system is..." Searching for empty room on the white board, before uncapping his pen and scrawling across, "muscul... otendinous... junction." Tapping on the long word with the marker. "The Regent's exam might refer to it as the myotendinous, but just remember it has an m and tendon close to it, and you should be fine."

It was a class whose brethren had been taught many times over the course of the year; nothing extraordinary, seeming like the man himself. It was after, talking to a student, Belinda Guiterrez, with concern.

"...How often to you go into harm's way with this? Some people who have these gifts like to... go out with them. Solve problems. Is that something you do?"

Of course it was concern. A teacher like him seemed to have students that were due it, after all. That needed the assistance. And he seemed to do what he could, weather offering advice on powers...

Or, as the scene shifts, using other skills; educating Xiomara on the use of a firearm, the true use, unvarnished... as he dissembles a pistol with skill that could only be hard won.

"Short answer is that it's meant to kill someone. End someone's life. Wounding them is a side effect you can only sometimes plan for." The barrel is back in. Rod and spring, slide snapped back on, magazine inserted, and the empty pistol racked with a loud 'ka-klack' that almost seems to fill the room.

It set up a duality. A man trying to educate peacefully, to support and help his students anyway he could... and a professional who, in another moment, would be seen taking a rifle and a gasmask into an alien held facility and engaging a target with rifle fire and grenades.

Who, when caught with a select few battling a goose from Hell on the Hudson, reacted by having the presence of mind to call a contact, gather a weapon, and hold down the trigger as spell slingers did their work.

A man ceaselessly caught between two worlds, and preoccupied with the journey between them.

Cassandra Cain has posed:
A superhero in a tutu.

It's odd, but someehow, it works. The lady in a ballet recital has been seen fighting dark forces, bleeding, broken and breaking others. But there was one time, with all of her family and friends present, when she shined. On a stage before an audience, arms raised and holding flowers, Cassandra Cain danced.R

She flew, she sang with her body. It was a shining moment of pure joy, and it was one that she shared with others. Nobody hurt, even her mother was present that day. And there, with her body holding a tall pose, she leaped into the air. To land in the spotlight, hidden from none. And proud of her self, for who she was. Hard work? Definitely. But yes. Very much yes.

Uatu the Watcher has posed:
And so the Watchers follow Uatu from one time and place to another. Viewing all of these events and stories, and more.

Eventually their forms shimmer back into existence on the asteroid where they first met. One of the visiting Watchers turns to stand and gaze out upon the blue plant that looks no bigger than a marble at this distance.

"Again," the Watcher says, "Our visit to learn of Terra has proven worthwhile. The humans are such a turbulent mix. Often the cause of their own problems, yet also their solution. And this region of space, or maybe it is just the humans themselves, draws increasing attention from others in the galaxy." He turns back from his contemplation of the planet to face Uatu.

"Yeah, they can be a real hoot," Uatu replies. "There is in them the same aspects of possible self-destruction that led us to our solemn vow to only observe and record. Yet they struggle against that, and they lead lives more poignant than in cultures that are uniform."

The Watchers nod their agreement. "We will look forward to another visit in two more of Terra's years. Be well, Uatu."

The forms of all four shimmer and dissolve, once again leaving the asteroid alone to itself in the void of space.