Every person is part of a greater machine, a huge device known as existence. Few people realise that this machine has countless layers; more than most mortal minds could comprehend. They already feel insignificant within a single universe, how small would they feel if they realised they dwelled within a sprawling multiverse?
Some select individuals have transcended the layers, and play a much greater role in the cosmic machine. The Exiles are one such group, traversing the multiverse, correcting timelines and staving off an apocalypse worse than any seen before. Though they sometimes have to get their hands dirty they do so whilst maintaining their morals.
“Are you sure we have to kill her?” asked the Spiderman of 2099 as he leapt through the air, avoiding a flying tombstone.
“She’s already dead you pansy!” replied Sabertooth curtly.
For over a week, the Exiles had been rapidly repairing dramatic timeline damage in over a dozen worlds. The cause of the damage was a fellow reality hopper by the name of Axel Asher. Somehow, the man had been blasted across reality, causing severe damage to a slew of realities, which if left unchecked would lead to the collapse of the multiverse.
This mission was relatively simple; Peter Parker, aka Spiderman, had died in battle with the villain Morlun, only to be resurrected. After forming a cocoon of webbing, the half dead man had been consumed completely by the Venom symbiote, becoming the deranged madman known as Poison. After being rejected by his wife, Mary-Jane Watson-Parker, the creature had exhumed the corpse of his dead girlfriend Gwen Stacey. The symbiote spawned, and the offspring brought the corpse back to some semblance of life, albeit as a zombie like monstrosity.
“Our mission parameters are clear Dr O’Hara; put Gwen Stacey’s corpse but in the ground and subdue Poison,” stated Power Princess, who was in charge of this mission.
The purple armoured warrior woman charged for the Gwen Stacey creature but was intercepted by Poison, who tackled her to the ground and enmeshed her in webbing. He would have ripped her throat out there and then if it wasn’t for Longshot hurling a blade into the beast’s back. The villain wailed in pain and tried to reach the weapon, but it was embedded in his most difficult to reach spot.
Meanwhile, the feral mutant Sabertooth and Spiderman were engaging Gwen Stacey. The dead woman but barely lucid, and kept making bizarre rasping noises. Dr O’Hara presumed she couldn’t speak because her tongue and vocal cords were rotted away.
“I don’t remember seeing any of this in the job description,” he muttered.
The Crystal Palace; Nowhere, nowhen.
Morph couldn’t help but smile at Miguel’s joke, it was a little cliché but he was coming along nicely in the humour department.
Things had been so hectic since their first encounter with Proteus months ago that the team had barely taken a break. The only real downtime they’d had was when they had to send the corpses of their former team mates home. When a simple mission like this had come along, Blink and Morph had jumped at the opportunity to stay behind in the palace with Heather for a brief rest. It also provided the three team mates who had been Exiles from the beginning (Heather was an honorary original in Morph’s eyes) to assess and discuss their newer comrades.
“Victor’s a loose cannon,” said Heather, as the trio watched the fight on screen. There was no annoyance in her voice; it was a simple matter of fact.
“His rage does get the better of him sometimes, but we can rely on him I’m sure,” replied Blink, the leader of the Exiles. She had spent most of her life with the man and was sure he wouldn’t let them down.
“Yeah he really pulled through on that Silver Surfer mission,” Morph agreed, “Though how he could have turned down those shiny new threads I don’t know,” he briefly transformed himself into an Oscar award in a reference to Creed’s golden Herald form.
As usual, Heather ignored Morph’s humour “Longshot’s a great aid to the team, but his naivety could cause trouble at some point,”
“My only concern with Longshot is the mullet and the leather I mean this isn’t nineteen eighty five.” joked Morph, whilst looking like Macgyver.
No one laughed; Blink didn’t understand the reference and Heather was too stressed after a week of watching her friends going on so many dangerous missions. On their very first mission repairing Asher’s damage she nearly had to watch her team mates die at the hands of an enhanced Magneto. The extreme interference caused by the mutant’s power output had prevented her from teleporting the team out.
Morph refused to give in though, “Miggy’s fine, he’s learning the fine art of humour from yours truly, but Power Princess has got to go. I’ve tried all my best moves and she still refuses to lower the defences at let me rock her world. It’s clear that she wants me, so her flaunting it around in that skimpy Xena outfit just makes her a tease. I say she goes!”
Silence…and then the dams break and both women burst out laughing. The sound is like sweet music to the shape shifting mutant. Laughter melts away the tension, a motto Morph has always stood by. Humour had become a real crutch for him ever since his mother died, but his jokes had increased greatly in the past few months ever since his two best surviving friend, Blink and Heather, had started acting odd around him. It wasn’t anything really obvious, but he had noticed the girls had become slightly more withdrawn from him lately. He suspected it was because he somehow reminded them of times when Mimic was still alive, and so he had vowed to make the girls laugh everyday. It was hard work.
“Zarda’s an excellent warrior and tactician Morph, she stays,” replied Blink when she eventually regained her breath. He noticed she dodged around the fact that Power Princess was incredibly bossy and annoying.
Heather looked back to the monitoring screen, “Aww look we missed the rest of the fight!”
The corpse of Gwen Stacey lay on the ground in flames, its newly born symbiote burnt to a crisp. Zarda had seemingly pulled a gas pipe from the ground and turned it into a makeshift flamethrower. Poison lay nearby, unconscious and ensnared in Miguel’s webbing, as the Avengers arrived to take him away.
“Wow Luke Cage’s an Avenger on that world?” asked a surprised Morph, “I miss the old outfit though, not many guys can pull off a tiara like him.”
With a few fingertaps at the control station, Heather teleported their four team mates back to base in a dazzling flash of light.
“Aren’t you were meant to be restin pup?” said Victor when he spied Blink by the viewing screen.
“Just channel surfing,” replied Blink with a cheeky grin.
The Med Bay, several minutes later
After every missions Heather always insisted that the team have their vitals checked over in the med bay; she wanted to avoid causing a pan dimensional disease outbreak. Enough damage had been caused to the multiverse already. Thankfully, the four were disease free, and none had sustained any serious injuries during the battle.
“Any change with Asher while we were gone?” asked Creed, as he sniffed the air suspiciously. He was sure the comatose man sleeping in the med bay was some kind of threat to the team, but trust wasn’t in his nature.
“We have brainwave activities, so it looks like he’s dreaming,” replied Heather, “other than that, nothing. By all signs he should be waking up but he’s not. I’ve considered bringing in outside help but after what happened to Doctor Strange here I’m a bit wary.”
“Our primary duty is to repair the damage this man caused, not playing doctor. We should focus on the task at hand and move on to the next mission,” Zarda was brusque as always, she clearly wasn’t here to make friends.
“Don’t you think you should rest first Zarda?”
“That last mission only took half an hour, and two of the team didn’t participate. I’m confidant we can handle it.”
“Who’s in charge again?” Morph whispered to Blink.
“Leave it Morph, she’s right.”
In the blink of an eye the team were teleported back to the control room by the pink woman. One of the sovereign class Timebreakers quickly scurried out from where ever it was and activated one of the display screens, revealing an unremarkable picture of Earth.
“Earth three-two-zero-eight,” explained Heather, “This one needs some detective work; somehow, all the people on Earth have disappeared. We don’t know why and we don’t know how, that’s for you guys to find out. Once we have some more data the Timebreakers are confident they can work out your mission parameters. Good luck, and be careful.”
Morph, wearing a red Star Trek uniform, gave her a salute, “Boldly going where no man has gone before.”
The team appeared on the lush green lawn of the Avengers mansion. Heather figured that even if the premier hero team was missing, they should have the resources to figure out what was going on. Seeing the extremely familiar building made Morph homesick; he couldn’t help but miss his old life. When given the choice he had remained with the Exiles but so much had changed since then; Nocturne was gone, Mimic was dead and now his two best friends were being distant towards him and he wasn’t sure why.
Eerily, Fifth Avenue was completely deserted; empty cars sat abandoned in the street, many of which had collided with each other. It was as if everybody had been snatched away in an instant.
“I’d say some sort of mass teleportation technology, possibly alien in origin,” speculated Spiderman.
“Let’s take a look at the Avengers computer before we…”
In a silent flash of green light Blink disappeared before the groups eyes.
“Blink!” Screamed Morph in shock.
Sabertooth was next, followed by Power Princess, before he realised the source of the flash was a focused beam of light shooting down from the sky. He leapt aside at the last minute, and the beam struck a nearby shrub, causing it to vanish. Spiderman attempted the same move but whoever was firing the beam seemed to sense this and struck him where he landed.
It had all happened in a matter of seconds, he was all alone. He jumped backwards to avoid the next beam but was too slow; an intense green light filled his vision, blinding him for a moment and surprisingly it wasn’t painful.
Upon opening his eyes he discovered he wasn’t dead, and he certainly wasn’t locked away in an alien prison cell. A massive green structure rose up before him; it was tall and flat, with noticeable veins running up and down its surface. Looking around, he realised that the structures were everywhere, like a forest.
Realisation dawned on him quickly; he had been shrunk! The giant green structures were blades of grass.