Title: Darker Reign
Feedback: In lieu of a Faithbot yeah.
Disclaimer: Whedonverse characters owned by Mutant Enemy. Marvel Characters created and owned by the lords on high (aka Marvel Comics). Don’t blame me for the crazy plot (lol), making Osborn S.H.I.E.L.D’s top cop was the idea of the current writer of the Avengers’, not mine.
FIC: Darker Reign (1/?)
Sweat beaded down Dugan’s forehead as he shredded his papers. He had to get rid of these papers and fast. Any minute now they’d be-.
“Hell!” His gaze snapped down at the floor as he heard his apartment door crash open and heavy feet stampede in. He glanced down at the papers still be shredded, reached into his desk, pulled out a brass lighter, poured a glass of spirits onto the stack of papers, then lit them.
The papers went up in a woosh, the sudden jetting of flame forcing his head back.
And then the office door crashed in, half a dozen heavily armed and armoured men charging in, their guns pointed unerringly at him, the hated emblem of a hammer painted across their chests. “Commander Dugan, as a former confidante and advisor of General Nick Fury and Tony Stark, we’re authorised to detain you under the Patriot Act for questioning!”
Dum Dum Dugan growled, tendons and ligaments tensing then reluctantly relaxing. He wasn’t as young as he’d once been, and even in his halcyon youth he’d have been hard-pressed to take six trained men at once. Hands clasped behind his head, he knelt on the ground, eyes fixed on the burning papers, grateful that he’d already magnetised his computer’s hard drive.
* * *
“Stiwell, come on!” Quatermain cursed inwardly as he waited for his companion to catch him up. It seemed like all week they’d been rushing from hideout to hideout, ducking in and out of dirty, winding streets, only several steps in front of H.A.M.M.E.R and their infernal agents.
From all they’d been able to pick up on the back-channels, Dugan and the rest of the U.S. based Fury loyalists had already been picked up. Except, Quatermain allowed himself a grim smile, Fury himself.
And really, who needed the Fury loyalists when Fury himself would be more than enough to bring down this whole corrupt mess.
Dirty water splashed underfoot as Quatermain raced through the puddles, rain cascading down to soak them. “Damn!” Quatermain bellowed out a curse as two squad cars screeched to a halt in the alley’s far exit, their neon lights flashing in the darkness signalling their blocking of the escape. Quatermain spun around to go back the way he’d come, dragging a slow to respond Stiwell with him in only to see a horde of H.A.M.M.E.R. agents racing into the alleyway behind them.
Trapped, completely and utterly trapped.
* * *
“Today, the President announced the dissolution of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the forming of a new agency, H.A.M.M.E.R, with its director Norman Osborn, hero of the recent human-Skrull conflict and slayer of the Skrull Queen, following the President in making a speech where he promised a new era of security for -.“
“Oh no way am I listening to any more of this crap!” Xander interrupted as he turned the widescreen TV off.
Faith shot Xander an irritated look. “Jesus, Harris, what is your problem?” Faith shook her head. “Guy’s a freakin’ hero!”
“Guy used to be the Green Goblin, Spidey’s numero uno enemy, a complete nutcase!” Xander retorted.
Faith’s eyes narrowed to slits. “You sayin’ you don’t believe in redemption?”
“Oh no way,” Xander threw his hands up in supplication. “That’s a nutty comparison!”
“Why?” Faith challenged. “’Cause you ain’t bonin’ Osborn?”
“Ugh with the mental imagery,” Xander shuddered. “No, because you did one thing wrong and learnt from it, while Osborn has fifteen years of being a piece of shit. All I’m saying is sure give the dude a medal, but making him America’s top cop?” Xander shook his head. “World’s gone nuts!”
Faith scowled. “Everyone deserves a second chance X.”
“And how about when it’s onto the eighth, ninth, and tenth?”
* * *
“Hello Stark.” Osborn smirked up from behind his desk at the man stood before him, pointedly not offering him a seat.
“That’s Director Osborn,” he corrected, smirk widening. “I assume you’ll be going through your departure scan soon?”
“I’m on my way out,” Stark confirmed.
Osborn hid a grimace as he noted the billionaire inventor’s square shoulders and straight back. The genius inventor was far less broken than he’d like. “Then you’ve turned all over H.A.M.M.E.R. property and removed all personal effects?” he pressed.
“Yes,” Stark nodded, his gaze unflinching. “When I leave, I’m gone. Everything’s of mine is gone too.”
“And you’ll take nothing that belongs to me.”
“Belongs to H.A.M.M.E.R, you mean.”
“I am H.A.M.M.E.R.,” Osborn airly replied. “And the database?”
Stark’s look of bemusement was less than convincing. “Database?”
“Don’t play dumb, Stark, you know I’m talking about the Superhuman Registration Database,” Osborn’s fist crashed down onto the desk.
Stark tilted his head to one side and smiled. “It’s not your own personal toy, you’ll have to get warrants and I’ll fight you all the way to the Supreme Court for it.” Stark’s smile widened. “And I wouldn’t advise trying to hack it, there’s maybe half a dozen hackers in the world that could crack it, and they all work for me.”
* * *
It took Osborn several minutes to collect himself after Stark’s departure, only the promise of finally, completely and utterly ruining that insufferable smug jerk managing to calm him. “Director Osborn,” his office door creaked open and Victoria Hand strode in, a clipboard held in the crook of the statuesque red-head’s arm. “Your first appointments are here.”
“Send them in, one at a time.”
“Yes sir,” Hand backed out.
Seconds later a powerfully built grey-haired man in an Air Force uniform strode into his office. “General Ross, a pleasure, please take a seat.”
“I’m not sure why I’m here Director Osborn?”
Osborn noticed but ignored the fact the man had refused his offer of a seat, choosing instead to stand at attention. “You’re here because like me you believe in order and discipline,” Osborn replied. “And you’re here because I need the power within you, General Ross.”
The general took a half-step back but recovered quickly. “The Air Force has always been willing to co-operate with S.H.I.E.L.D. I’m sure we can continue to co-operate with H.A.M.M.E.R, although such matters of policy are of course dealt with at a higher pay grade than mine.”
Sensing he was at the edge of a precipice, Osborn forced a chuckle. “All true, but I was referring to your very personal power.”
“I’m not sure what you mean?”
Ross would make an excellent poker player, but Osborn was sure of his facts. “Please General, I’m fully aware of the experiment you yourself personally underwent. The lengths you’ll go to to protect us all from the Hulk is very noble.”
Finally the old warhorse’s shoulders slumped. “What do you want?”
“The first Avengers had a hulk, I want one of my own,” Osborn replied. “Think of it, General. An opportunity to protect your country as a superhero! You’ve always served your country most admirably General, this is merely another stage.”
After a second ‘Rulk’ nodded. “I’m in.”
Next through his office door was a towering, muscular yet still beautiful blonde dressed in a silken, emerald dress that had a low-cut neckline. “Enchantress,” Osborn rose to meet the Asgardian, “I am, may I say enchanted.”
“Save it, mortal,” Enchantress replied. “I am here only at the behest of Loki.”
Well aware of the immortals and so-called gods’ arrogance, Osborn ignored the insult implicit in his guest’s words. “As part of my remit as H.A.M.M.E.R. commander, I’m the leader of the Avengers,” he said. “And while I’m a man of science, magic has often played a part in the Avengers in the past. And you are a mighty witch, one of the strongest in the world.”
“And why would such a lowly post interest one such as I?” sniffed the Asgardian.
“Thor has often served as an Avenger,” Osborn needled. “Surely you’d welcome the chance to prove that anything he could do, you could emulate?”
“Not emulate.” Raw emotion flashed in the Asgardian beauty’s eyes. “Better!” Amora threw her head back and laughed. “I see your manipulation, mortal, but I accept your challenge. I’ll join your team.”
The next guest through the door was a crewcut, square-jawed man whose garb of linen braccae and tunic completely failed to conceal his impressive build. Osborn warily eyed the muscular man. According to his information this was an Eternal, a race of beings similar to but even more mysterious than the Asgardians and Olympians. According to his information, this Eternal was Gilgamesh, a being with a power to rival that of Hercules, Thor, and the other most mighty of Earth’s heroes.
Unfortunately Gilgamesh was fundamentally a good man, a former Avenger. Fortunately however Gilgamesh was currently suffering from chronic amnesia, a man of power who had no idea just who he was, indeed he believed himself to be the ‘true’ Hercules. “Hello Hercules,” Osborn purred. “I’d like to offer you a position in the Avengers.”
Gilgamesh smiled slightly. “I’d be honoured.”
The next through the door, a willowy blonde, Osborn knew would be a far easier sell. “Moonstone,” Osborn greeted with a smirk. “You’ve done some excellent work in the Thunderbolts program.” He paused momentarily before continuing. “Would you be interested in a promotion to the Avengers?”
Moonstone threw her head back, golden hair snapping from side to side. “Would I!”
“Good,” Osborn nodded. “However the ‘Moonstone’ brand has a rather negative conation, all those acts of terror and criminality, you understand. So I’d like you to take on a new identity.” Osborn reached into his desk drawer, pulled out a brightly coloured outfit and threw it to the woman.
Moonstone stared at the spandex outfit. “Ms. Marvel?”
“Precisely.” Osborn leaned over the desk. “Do we have a deal?”
The next through the door was a towering blonde with wide shoulders, mighty thews, piercing blue eyes, and lantern jaw. Osborn leaned back in his seat as he ran an eye over the cyborg that had killed Goliath. Pym, Stark, and Richards might be arrogant asses, but they certainly knew their work. “Ragnarok,” he greeted with a smile. “Are you ready to resume active duty?”
“Ready and willing.”
The final two to enter were a study in contrasts. One was tall and thickly muscled, short-cut dark hair and eyes, a brooding, square-featured warrior. The other was also tall, but lithely muscled with fine features, flowing blond locks, and light blue eyes.
“Ares, Bob,” he greeted the duo. “I trust you two have considered my offer?”
“Your victory over the Skrull Queen proves your worthiness as a warrior, I will serve by your side,” Ares confirmed in a grunt.
“Excellent,” Osborn turned his gaze on Sentry. “And you Bob, if I help you with your fractured psyche?”
Bob Reynolds nodded. “I’m your man, Norman.”
* * *
“Guards planted Director Osborn.”
Osborn glanced at the H.A.M.M.E.R. agent. “Excellent,” he grunted as he peered at the disused warehouse they’d organised for this meeting. “Establish a rotating perimeter. No one gets in or out without my permission.”
Osborn ignored the man’s brisk salute to stride into the warehouse, nodding as his gaze scanned over those assembled around the long table. Doom, let out of 42 on a technicality. Von Strucker likewise freed by paperwork and provided with the land of a South America-based abandoned Osborn facility to use as a powerbase, on condition he turn over all information on current US based HYDRA operations. Wilson Fisk who would be given leadership of the nation’s organised crime and aided in the removal of his rivals in exchange for a more orderly and discreet running of the underworld. The Hood who would run all super villain activity on condition he kept it orderly. The Taskmaster who would be given the Thunderbolts Initiative to run. Sebastian Shaw would get control of the remaining mutants in return for running Osborn’s hand-picked X-Men for him. Loki and Typhon would get Asgard and Olympus respectively, although obviously these two would have to wait until the remaining heroes were ‘pacified’.
It was through these men of physical power and political influence he intended to further guarantee his position.
“Thank you all for coming,” Osborn greeted. “I apologise for our less than salubrious surroundings, but you appreciate this meeting had to take place where prying eyes wouldn’t see it.” Osborn smiled. “We’re at the dawn of a new age, people. One I hope we can take full advantage of.”
* * *
Faith scowled as she stalked through the shadows, her temper still bubbling from her argument with Xander half a day ago. Her and Wood had broken up a few weeks after Sunnydale’s fall, something about her not being his idea of a Slayer, to be honest she hadn’t been listening to his drone. A couple of months after that, G had sent her to Africa to drag a descending into alcoholism Xander back to the states. Giles had assigned them to run the New York Slayer Council House, in charge of eighteen Slayers, the nation’s other Slayers divided equally between the Council Houses in Miami and Cleveland.
Faith smirked. She’d gone into tough love in a big way, working the flab off her bud with long runs and gruelling gym sessions, and in the process they’d fallen in love. Her mood took a downturn, least she’d thought they’d fallen in love, but if he really thought someone couldn’t be redeemed, then maybe she was just a convenient lay.
No, Faith shook her head. Xander might disagree with her over Osborn, but he was too considerate, too caring not to love her. There’d been hard times, arguments they’d had, girls they’d fallen, and battles they’d lost. But good times too, anniversaries, victories, and even the training sessions, Xander being Xander had been determined that HIS Slayers were the best Slayers they could possibly be, and as a result he’d hire a top class martial artist to train them for six months, then another and another. They’d been taught by America’s best golden gloves boxers and amateur wrestlers, Brazilian Ju-Jitsu practioners honed in the UFC, Asia’s Muay Thai boxers, Judo, Tae Kwon Do, Aikido, and Wing Chun experts, Mossad instructors in the Israeli art of Krav Maga, and even Spentaz’s Sambo instructors had been hired.
Whatever else Xander was, he was thorough when it came to caring for his girls.
Normally they patrolled in three groups of four, the other Slayers remaining in the Council House, figuring that any four Slayers couldn’t handle would be noticed by someone like the Avengers, Fantastic Four, or Doc Strange. But the mood Faith was in, she’d decided to lone wolf it.
Faith’s concentration was broken by a shadow flickering in the darkness before her. “Kz’vak,” she growled as she recognised the demon she’d been tracking for eight blocks.
And then she was up and racing, sneakerd feet slapping on the slippery wet ground as she darted through the shadowy, whining garment district, the great factories and workhouses silenced by the fall of night.
The Kz’vak was thick set with fireplug like legs and a powerful torso covered in a sturdy grey shell. Its arms were longer than its legs, knuckles almost scraping in the ground in fact. Its face was shaped like a dog’s, its ovoid golden eye sat in the top and middle of its snout, its mouth filled with dagger-like teeth.
What the Kz’vak wasn’t built for was speed, in half a block it was spinning to face her, three pronged claws slicing through the inky night at her. Faith glided into a baseball slide, water splashing as she slid under the hacking claws to bring her heels smashing into her rival’s heels. Faith rolled away from the falling monster, then leapt onto it before it could rise, her knee driving hard into the small of its back, and her hand reaching to grab the creature’s snout and yank it violently back, snapping the thing’s neck.
“Heh,” Faith grinned as she climbed up off the monster’s corpse. “Sorry, but I had frust-.” Faith’s eyes narrowed as she heard a sorta familiar voice coming from a near-by warehouse. Faith licked her lips as she crept towards the building, a terrible curiosity filling her. She knew she shouldn’t, she knew she should get the hell outta Dodge, but fuck her legs kept carrying her towards the run-down building, compelling her to press her face against a dirty, cobwebbed window.
“Son of a bitch,” Faith breathed as she peered through the dirty window, heart pounding as she recognised notorious face after notorious face. First thing she realised was that Xan was gonna lord this one over her for an eternity.
The second even more sobering thought was she was in way, way over her head.
Faith reached a shaking head into her jacket, pulled out her phone and began recording footage. Hell, she needed evidence if she was gonna bring these bastards down.
Sweat beaded on her forehead despite the night’s chill as the seconds and minutes crawled by, mouth drying as Osborn’s terrible plan unfolded before her.