SPANISH HARLEM – MANHATTAN, NEW YORK
Victor Alvarez, a young man from Spanish Harlem, was walking down the stairwell with bags of garbage in hand. He was heading to a dumpster. He seemed a bit mad, which he was thanks to his mother. They didn’t get along very well and unfortunately she was all he had. While at the dumpster he noticed some people he knew looking up at the New York skyline.
“What’s going on?” he asked.
“The White Tiger just ran through here, she was fighting some guy dressed in a mariachi outfit,” answered one of the onlookers.
“She?” he followed up. “I thought the White Tiger was a guy.”
“Yeah, but this was clearly a chick.”
“There are so many new heroes and villains in the city lately,” he said. “What’s so special about New York? Can’t some of them move to Philadelphia?”
FIGHT FOR YOUR FREEDOM
Part II: Rockin’ the Party
RESCUE INC. TOWER
James Miles was suiting up in his American Panther costume while Nomad looked at a tablet with the Rescue Inc. logo on it. She was watching the video featuring the Bastards of Evil member Warhead who at the time had fought and defeated James’s sister, Monica. They had only found the video because it went viral over the internet.
“AP, look you can’t do this alone,” Nomad explained to him. “This guy just took out your sister who was wearing Stark Tech. I don’t know much about Tony Stark but I remember Iron Man from Counter-Earth. If something was strong enough to take Rescue down on its own, what chance will you have on your own?”
“We’ve always been on our own and we’ve always looked after one another,” he answered. “I’ve faced worse situations than this.”
“James you’re not alone anymore. You’re part of a team and being part of a team means we’re supposed to work together.”
WORLD PARTY HQ
The Goblin was in a dark room that happened to be the computer room of the World Party’s headquarters. Viewing from the inside of his mask you could see a display set up similar to that of Iron Man’s helmet. He was attempting to hack into the World Party’s mainframe.
“I knew it, I knew there was something up with these people,” he said to himself. “A group of Nazi leftovers . . . Way to go Rome, nice little situation you got yourself into. There’s no way I can get out of this. If I don’t do this he’ll hurt my family.”
Just as he finished looking through some files the door behind him opened. In stepped a young woman dressed in a metal suit.
“There you are,” she said. “The World Party leader wants us to gather in their meeting hall.”
“Layla, do you know who these people are?” he asked. “They’re Nazis. The boss has us working with a band of racists. We can’t work with these people.”
“Who cares?” he replied. “You should care! These people are responsible for the persecution of many people during World War II and now this new generation is trying to do the same here in the U.S.”
“I don’t care what they’re about,” she replied. “All that matters is that I get paid! And that the boss helps me get to my father, the Stilt-Man.”
The American Panther was surveying the area. This was the scene of the fight between Rescue and Warhead. The Panther was looking for clues on where to find the Bastards of Evil. Nomad joined him.
“There’s nothing here,” she said. “If there was a trail it has gone cold. We can find no radiation from the green guy and no scraps of armor leftover from Rescue.”
“Hmm, there has to be something.” He reached for his communicator. “Jolt, do you see anything from above?”
“I haven’t found anything yet,” she replied back. “If I do I’ll let you know.”
The rest of the team joined them. Mettle took a look around and tried to see if anyone had witnessed the fight but no one could get around his unusual looks. He just shrugged his shoulders when the American Panther looked at him. Hazmat was working on locating a trail of radiation but she came up with nothing. Toro walked up and scratched his head.
“I can’t find anything either,” he claimed.
“Damn.” The Panther lowered his head.
Nomad patted him on the back to reassure him, “Don’t worry we’ll figure something out. All right guys let’s get back out there and try and find something.”
The team split up and began to search the area. Mettle walked a couple blocks. There was nothing out of the ordinary. It was just the usual thing, people staring. He walked a little more before something caught his attention. There was a flash of light that gleamed in his eyes. He immediately went for a look. He found next to some trash bins a piece of scrap metal that of a titanium alloy.
“Why is a piece of her armor back here?” asked Mettle.
Mettle heard someone approach him and who he saw was Victor Alvarez. “The fight was all over the place I’m not surprised a piece of scrap like that made it back here. Since you’re looking for the Iron Man wannabee I assume you’re a friend of hers. Are you supposed to be a hero? And who are you with?”
“Yeah, I’m a hero and I’m with the Young Allies,” replied Mettle. “Don’t let appearances deceive you. Do you know anything? Did you see which way that green dude took Rescue?”
“Rescue, is that her name?” smiled Victor. “It looks like she’s the one needing the rescuing. Yeah, I saw which way they went but why should I tell you? It’s you people that have been wreaking havoc through our streets. Both heroes and villains fighting, destroying our neighborhood and when everything is said and done, do you come back here and help clean up the mess you make? You don’t even help with the regular street crime here, you only come here when your fight spills over to our neighborhood.”
“Hey man, don’t judge me based on what other people have done,” Mettle defended himself. “I don’t roll over for nobody. I do my own thing and I’m willing to face the consequences.”
“Whatever,” muttered Victor. “The Bastards of Evil took your teammate into a helicopter, she just floated into the helicopter without anyone touching her and then they flew north. Now you got what you wanted so leave our neighborhood.”
“Jeez, nice guy.”
Mettle left and Victor watched for a moment before going back into his building. Mettle got back out to the street. He looked to his left and was than greeted with a steel chair to the back of his head. He didn’t feel it but heard it clunk on the ground with a large dent on the seat. He looked up from the chair and saw a young man floating above. His costume was all black with six white ovals running down his torso. He wore no mask but his costume did cover the sides of his face.
“I see I have a tough one here,” said the gravity manipulating villain known as Singularity. “The file on you says you’re basically invulnerable. That would be a serious problem for any other member of the Bastards but me, I’m a force of nature!”
NEW YORK SKYLINE
While Mettle had his stare off with Singularity, Jolt was flying high above the city with one thing on her mind. She was looking for a lead. A lead that could help her find Rescue. As of yet she had no luck. From below people only saw a flash of blue light soar passed the buildings. This was because of her biokinetic energy that enveloped her while using her powers. This power turned her whole body blue including her costume except for the yellow lightning bolt centered on her.
“I don’t get it,” she said. “Why would these people want to come after us? The only ones who had any interaction with them is AP. Is it something he did?”
“No it’s something you all did!” called a voice from nearby. “You know talking to yourself is really bad. Maybe you should get yourself checked?”
Jolt turned and stopped in the air. Behind her flew the Goblin on his snowboard-like glider. A compartment in the glider slid open and popped out a pumpkin bomb. He caught it with ease and then chucked it at Jolt. She moved out of the way and looked back as the bomb exploded in the air.
“You’re one of the ones who fought alongside us during the Wasp Dominion,” said Jolt. “Why would you do this?”
“I have my reasons,” he replied. “I’m sorry it has to be this way but this is business. I have no choice.”
Jolt’s hands charged up as Goblin glided towards her. She hurled a bolt of energy at him which he intercepted with his sword that was strapped to his back. The sword pulsed with its own energy and absorbed Jolt’s attack. He then swung his sword slashing the air.
“Have a taste of your own power!”
OUTSIDE SPANISH HARLEM
Hazmat and Toro, although not together, had left Spanish Harlem in favor of a wider search. Toro stopped when he reached an area that had a number of vehicles that appeared to been ravaged in some sort of battle. He looked around a bit before he came across a woman whose whole body was gray. Her skin and clothes were all one solid color. Her left arm extended and her hand morphed into an axe. Meanwhile, Hazmat found herself confronted by a young woman who happened to be Longstrike, the one who spoke with the Goblin earlier.
“It’s the radiation-based hero,” said Longstrike. “You know Warhead should be the one facing you right now. You’re both Asian, have radio-active powers, and clearly have daddy issues with the Radioactive Man.”
“The Radioactive Man is not my father!” exclaimed Hazmat. “I was born before he got his powers idiot.”
Not too far away the gray woman known as Mortar broke the silence between her and Toro. “So you’re the quiet one of the group. Are you anti-social or something? Anyway I’m Mortar, daughter of the Grey Gargoyle. Nice to meet you. Now what exactly do you do now? The person we’re working for at the moment gave me a file on you but I was too busy posting on Facebook and Twitter to look it over. My page has been blowing up ever since Warhead had that video of him kidnapping your teammate posted. Of course no one can track me through social media so you don’t have to worry about me.”
“Hmph . . .,” he just sighed as his bull-like horns extended from underneath the bandana on his head.
“You can grow horns?” asked Mortar. “What kind of power is that? Seems pretty useless to me . . .”
With his horns fully extended he then began increasing his muscle mass and then his feet turned into hooves. Toro stomped his right hoof before he charged forward.
WORLD PARTY HQ
The leader of the World Party and brother to Nomad stood in another computer room that was little different from the other. In the center of the room sat an operating table that lay vacant. The bald man examined the room to see if it met his expectations.
“Quite the operation you got here,” called a voice from the dark portions of the room. “I see you’re all prepared to set your plans in motion. My Bastards of Evil are tending to the Young Allies. As we speak they’re taking care of four young heroes. That will leave three to capture including you’re little sister. Will she go along with what you’re planning?”
“No,” replied John Barnes. “My sister and I had a falling out quite some time ago back on Counter-Earth when the heroes of this world were calling our planet home. It’s all thanks to Captain America. I thought the original one would bring the downfall of this country but this new one . . .”
“You don’t have to say another word,” said the mysterious person. “I already know where you’re going with this. I don’t concern myself with these petty differences. Black, white, Hispanic, or mutant, it doesn’t matter to me what they are. All that matters is that I control this world.”
“You made it very apparent during our first meeting,” stated John. “That you and I have different agendas and views on life. But as long as you keep up your end of the bargain I’ll keep mine. My people will keep their hands off the Hispanic arachnid. She can stay in the care of your Bastards. All that matters is getting my sister on this table.”
Nomad and the American Panther rejoined each other a good distance away from where Mettle was fighting Singularity. Neither knew what was happening but they were becoming concerned about the lack of response from the rest of the team.
“I don’t know what’s going on,” said the American Panther. “Everything seems to be in order with the Rescue Inc. mainframe. Something has to be wrong on their end.”
Nomad changed the direction she was facing. “Then we need to back track and find the rest of the team.”
“Speaking of the rest of the team, I think we need to contact Araña,” the Panther said much to Nomad’s displeasure. “I know you don’t like her but she is part of this team and at a time like this we can use all the help we can get. Not to mention the fact that she usually never travels alone.”
“The bug still hasn’t earned my trust, but if you feel the need to summon her then do it. Let’s hurry and get to the others.”
“Oh, you’re not going anywhere!” A large mass of water fell from the sky and splashed on the ground eventually reforming into a human shape. “Remember me Panther?!”
Hydro-Girl stood before the two heroes now reverted back to her human form. Aftershock was then next one to appear. She glided along the wires of the electrical transmission towers. She found her way down and landed beside Hydro-Girl.
Mettle thought to himself as he stood before Singularity who levitated overhead. Based on what he’d seen Mettle believed that it would be impossible to get his opponent down. Singularity’s power over gravity presented a serious problem. Nevertheless, Mettle decided it would still be best to test the limits to Singularity’s powers. He picked up the steel chair that was thrown at him and sent it back to Singularity. As expected its flight path was altered. The chair plummeted at Mettle but thanks to his strong frame he swatted it away with one arm.
“So I guess I can keep hurling things at you and you won’t feel anything?” asked Singularity. “It seems we’re at a stalemate. This really is the definition of a battle between an immovable object and an irresistible force, but then again I’m just over thinking it aren’t I? I can’t hurt you but I can hurt everything else around you.”
“What?!” Mettle wasn’t sure what to expect. “What are you planning?”
Mettle noticed himself being lifted off the ground. With a twisted grin on his face Singularity pulled Mettle closer to himself to get a better look at the hero.
“You lost your battle the moment I was selected to collect you,” laughed Singularity. “I’m the son of Graviton, the most powerful man on the planet. He gave the Avengers a run for their money, what chance do you think you have against me?”
“You run your mouth too much!” yelled Mettle before being propelled back.
He was slammed into a building behind him. The brick walls crumbled on contact. Mettle still didn’t feel anything but was helpless to put a stop to his movement. The building’s tenants ran wherever they could as Mettle’s body crashed into walls and pillars. Outside Singularity looked bored as he examined the fingernails of his one free hand. Mettle continued to fly through the building eventually he completely cracked the building’s foundation. His movement finally stopped when he hit the basement floor. Several floors up, Victor was in his bedroom trying to do his homework. The cheap internet connection on his computer cut out on him making it impossible to continue.
“Damn, I knew I should have just stayed at the library,” he said just before he felt the building shake. “What the hell?”
The shaking got worse. A picture frame hanging on his wall fell to the floor shattering glass everywhere. He got up from his desk to look out his window. From his window it seemed as if his floor was getting lower. From outside the sight of the building was terrifying. Onlookers heard the violent sounds the building was making. Shock and disbelief filled the street as the building crumbled down. New Yorkers ran for their lives while a large dust cloud billowed up into the sky. Singularity showing no remorse for his actions used his powers again to pull Mettle out of the wreckage.
“Down and out, aye?” asked Singularity. “Well that was easy. Now I can get back to what I was doing before being sent out here after you.”
Everywhere else the noise echoed through the city, leaving the citizens of New York wondering what was happening. Other than the collapse the only other thing that could be heard was the sound of sirens. The police and all other emergency responders were already racing to the scene. The other heroes and villains fighting all stopped for a moment when they heard the commotion. Toro stopped for a moment. He tried to imagine what could possibly be hearing. Mortar smiled as she knew exactly what Singularity had done. Toro figured something may have happened to the rest of the team. The only way for him to find out was to make short work of his enemy. He charged forward like a bull seeing red. His head-on assault was halted when Mortar quickly grabbed his horns. With her great strength she lifted him a couple feet off the ground and slammed him into the street. She then pulled him up and changed her body’s density which made her more like wet cement. She contorted her physical form allowing her to wrap around Toro’s entire body. This tactic not only prevented his movement but made it impossible to breathe. Mortar would keep this up until he finally passed out.
Where Toro had a chance to contemplate the events occurring not too far from them, Hazmat found it difficult to even put together a plan of attack against Longstrike. The young villain wore a suit similar to that of the Stilt-Man and to a lesser known Lady Stilt-Man. Yes, that’s right Lady Stilt-Man. Neither of the stilt-themed villains were particularly memorable or a threat to any superhero, but Longstrike wasn’t going to let that hold her back. The metallic armor that covered her arms stretched outward and whipped at Hazmat. She was pummeled into submission.
“Heh, already doing better than the old man could ever do,” said Longstrike referring to the Stilt-Man. “You know this was a real drag. I was expecting more from you.”
Jolt floated above the city trying to determine which way the noise was coming from. She tried to contact the rest of the team but got no answer. She looked in the direction of the Goblin. He was looking away from her. She was confused. He let his guard down way too easily. He placed his fingers on the right side of his faceplate which from the inside view showed information about the incident.
“He actually did it?” asked the Goblin. “These people are monsters. How can I keep doing this? My family is in danger but would they really want to be saved knowing this?”
“What was that you said about talking to yourself?” Jolt flew in hands fully charged.
Without looking the Goblin threw an orange sphere that hit Jolt in the chest. It popped open unleashing steel cables that wrapped around her. She struggled to get out. Even her powers couldn’t help her break free. All she could do was float in the air.
The Goblin glanced to his left. “Make this easier on yourself. It could be worse. You could be suffering the fate of the rest of your team. Like the red one. He just had a building dropped on him.”
“What?!” Jolt was completely shocked and afraid of what this meant for Mettle.
“The other Young Allies are being taken captive by the Bastards and the World Party,” claimed the Goblin. “If you come quietly I’ll bring you to their headquarters so you can free your friends. If you agree to this all I ask is that you act as my prisoner.”
“Why are you doing this?” she asked.
“I have my reasons. I want nothing to do with the Bastards of Evil or the World Party but I have no choice. So what will it be? Come quietly and save your friends or we can keep fighting until I have to take you by force?”
Jolt silently nodded in agreement. She knew better than to right out trust her enemy but she had a gut feeling that she needed to do this. Another cable came out from his glider and hooked with the one wrapped around her. Together they flew off.
Back at the scene of the building collapse, the NYPD had arrived with the fire department and paramedics. Despite past events everyone was still completely flabbergasted over what they saw. No one could ever be properly prepared for quite a sight.
“Dear God,” said a police sergeant by the name of Quentin Palone. “What the hell happened here?”
“It was a one-sided battle between two super-powered people,” said a detective that approached him. “I’m detective Alan O’Neil, sir. I saw it all and called it in.”
“And you let this happen?” asked the sergeant.
“What was I gonna do? One of them had control over gravity and the other was invulnerable.”
“Enough chitchat!” exclaimed their commanding officer. “We have people to save. We need to get equipment over here to dig out any survivors.”
Before anyone could make a call everyone was stopped cold by a loud crashing sound. No one could believe what they saw. It was a Sentinel, a giant killing machine built to hunt mutants.
“What’s going on here?” asked Palone. “Why is that thing here? Didn’t the ones fighting leave already?”
“Maybe it’s malfunctioning,” replied O’Neil.
The Sentinel lifted its arms. The police all grabbed hold of their guns in preparation for an attack. The Sentinel began to move slightly but stopped when an orange flash appeared. Out of nowhere Araña’s crime fighting partner landed on the right arm of the Sentinel. His chilling stare looked right into the Sentinel’s metallic eyes. The insides of the Sentinel were quite different in comparison to most units. There was a cockpit. Inside sat a brown-haired green-eyed young man in the pilot seat. The view screen in front of him showed the appearance of Avispa that sent chills down his spine. Another surprise came in the form of the White Tiger. Unlike the original, this White Tiger was female with long flowing black hair that came out from behind her white mask. She extended the claws built in her gloves while Avispa formed a fireball in his hands.
“Great more capes,” said O’Neil.
Avispa’s long scarf and the White Tiger’s long hair blew in the wind as they waited to make their move. The tension finally broke when the Sentinel spoke.
“I’m not here to fight,” called the robotic voice of the Sentinel that relayed the pilot’s message. “I’m here to help move the rubble. And save people.”
Avispa and the White Tiger looked at one another. They simultaneously withdrew and cautiously went to work digging through the wreckage. The Sentinel joined in.
“That was a close one Juston,” he thought to himself. “That orange guy is scary looking.”
After sometime digging, the Sentinel piloted by Juston Seyfert found someone. It was Victor. The White Tiger walked over and checked his pulse.
“He’s still alive!” she yelled. “Get a paramedic over here now!”
Everyone looked away long enough to miss Victor’s skin glow and emit a strange orange energy that appeared to bubble off him. When a paramedic reached him he returned to his normal appearance.
A van drove the opposite direction of the disaster. Inside Mettle was locked in a metal contraption that only left his head visible. He did his best to get out but he was unable to.
Singularity snickered. “It’s no use you’ll never get out of that. It’s pure adamantium. The only purpose for this is to keep individuals with your unique strength pinned down. Just relax we’ll be at our destination in no time.”
“When I get out of here I’m gonna crush your skull in for killing all those people!” yelled Mettle.
“Technically you killed all those people.” Singularity tried to turn it on Mettle. “I just provided a little assistance.”
“You heartless bastard!” Mettle struggled to get out.
To be continued…