It was supposed to be a safe place to hide. Ha! The New Warriors should never have figured on there being a true safe place left in the world after allowing Captain America to use their television slot to send out the anti-registration message.
“Run, Thrasher, run!” shouted Robbie Baldwin, the bouncing maniac known as Speedball. “Zemo’s onto us!”
“I’m running, Speedball!” said Night Thrasher angrily. “They already got Microbe!” It was true; the largest member of the three had fallen to Atlas’ mighty hand.
“We can make it!” Speedball said in encouragement. This enthusiasm was met with a sudden burst of energy, directed from the Swordsman’s blade.
Andreas von Strucker smiled beneath the mask. “I have them!” he shouted.
A sudden barrage of porcupine-like spikes landed at Night Thrasher’s feet; he was forced to stop or be skewered. The sound of wing-beats made him look up. The man named Mimic descended upon him.
“Time’s up,” Mimic said. “You can’t run from the registered heroes. We have the law on our side now.”
From the last two New Warriors’ left came gigantic footsteps. The saw Atlas peering over the treetops at them. “It’s over, Thrasher,” said Speedball in exasperation.
“What’s going on, Thor?” asked Mr. Fantastic. He and the rest of the Fantastic Four had come to the Arctic Circle to trace Thor’s hammer. They had no idea that Thor himself had come back from the grave to hold it.
“Ragnarok hath ended Asgard,” said Thor soberly. “I have awakened from my eternal slumber to return to Midgard.”
“Why now? Why are you here?” asked the Invisible Woman warily.
Thor gave a hearty Norse laugh. “No longer have the gods of old a home,” said Thor. “Is it not obvious? I’ve returned to make a home for the gods on Midgard.”
“Do you know what would happen if you did that?” asked Mr. Fantastic. “There’s no possible way the world could stand it! How could we force them to register?”
“What are you talking about, Reed? There are more important things going on right now!” Sue said, almost scolding her husband.
Thor’s grin turned to a frown. “I am sorry, Reed Richards, but this is my duty to my people. If you wish to stop me, then there is no choice. Mjolnir, your duty!”
The hammer left Thor’s hand and spun around in the air. It left them, spinning round and round, creating a spiral that drew in every spare bit of dust and compacting it into a larger object.
“He’s making an island,” Reed whispered, coming to the realization. “By forcing together the particles in the air, he could make a floating island. It’s…ingenious.”
“We have to stop him!” said the Human Torch. “Like it’s bad enough when Loki has to jump through a portal to get to Earth? Now he gets to board a plane on frequent flyer miles?”
“Johnny’s right,” said the Invisible Woman. “This could only make things worse.”
Ben grinned. “It’s clobberin’ time!”
Project Number Forty-Two
The secret project of the pro-Superhuman Registration Act side was in motion. It had just received its first new shipment of inmates. Project Number Forty-Two had a name from the past.
Mutants called it Neverland.
When they came to, the Runaways, Young Avengers, and Power Pack all took a moment to gain their bearings. They were in a small, dark room, laced with ceramic tiling. Their powers were nullified. If they relied on weapons, the weapons had been taken.
Once the majority of the group had woken, lights flickered to life. “Please, boys and girls, separate. Boys will enter the door on the left. Girls will go to the right. The Skrull and mechanical entities must remain behind.
Groggily, the kids complied. They didn’t know what else they could do. In the next room were the showers and a plastic bin. “Please remove your costumes and/or clothing. You will no longer need it while you are here. Then rinse off thoroughly. We will call you through individually.”
This part was particularly embarrassing, especially for Wiccan and Hulkling. The pair had been dating, but had enough moral fiber not to have exposed themselves to each other yet. The only person more embarrassed than those two was Banger, the boy who had set off the Civil War. He was the only one there who was not part of any type of team, and had no one to cluster with. Desperate to find a rock, he stayed nearest Jack Power.
“One by one, please exit the room. There will be stations to your right. Each of you will enter a station and put on the skinsuit provided. Then, advance to the bonding station. Have a nice day!”
Speed grimaced. “Yeah,” he muttered. “F*** you, too.”
“Uh-uh!” said Iron Man. “You boys thought you were going to sneak on in here and change things back to normal? You must think I’m a bigger idiot than I realized!”
“We’re not in the United States anymore,” Cap said. “You can’t arrest us.”
“Actually, I can,” said Iron Man. “You’re wanted for crimes in the United States—all we have to do is worry about extradition.”
Cap gritted his teeth. The situation was bad; Tony had quite a few powerhouses, and the others weren’t exactly pushovers. Sure, Bridge and Cable were powerful in their own right, but against this multitude, the comparison was pitiful. He and Hawkeye would be no match for any of the super-strong ones. Still, bad odds were better than none—they would have to fight their way out of this. Otherwise, Tony would win.
The Scarlet Witch was key.
“We’re prepared to fight our way out of this,” Cap said. The hand behind his shield held out two fingers. Hawkeye got the message—strike in two seconds.
“Wait,” said Tony, distracted by his observations. “Is that Clint—?”
Three electrical arrows caught Iron Man in the chest. “You bet it is, scumbag!” shouted Hawkeye, launching a many more arrows. Most of them were laced with stun explosives. A sort of guilt came over him when he saw one hit the Wasp, but Clint knew that it was him against them. There was no way he could feel sympathy even though she was his former lover.
Cable’s telekinesis amplified his strength enough to take on the She-Hulk. He and she traded blows, though his own personal shield kept him from feeling most of the blows. Still, Doc Samson was closing in, and he didn’t know how long he could take such a pummeling.
Captain America rammed his shield into Iron Man’s throat, pushing him backwards. The Golden Avenger returned the favor by turning Cap’s momentum around and forcing him into the ground. “You can’t keep winning, Cap!” said Tony. “You have to lose sometime!”
“Not today, we don’t!” Cap replied through gritted teeth.
The fight continued.
Sage caught all of this and more from her data-center and processed the possible outcomes before the fight had truly began. Without a second thought (and knowing the X-Men’s stance on registration), Sage picked up her comm.-link and called Captain Britain.
“Sage? What’s up?” asked Brian Braddock, his voice letting her know that he was ready for action. “Has the Otherworld come into play again?”
“No, Brian,” said Sage. “This one’s a bit more diplomatic. The team’s on full alert. I’m sending coordinates—there’s a super-fight between heroes, and I highly doubt that, without our interference, it would turn out well.”
“I’m on it,” Brian said. Already, he was putting on his uniform. “Excalibur is on the move.”
The X-Men had to deal with Bishop. To do so, they were going to steal a time machine. From their friends.
Civil War disturbs things.
“Where’s it at?” asked Iceman impatiently. “I can’t find the stupid time machine!”
“Keep looking,” Archangel hissed. He folded his wings over his shoulders so that he wouldn’t disturb any of the equipment shelved behind him while he searched.
There was a small noise, and a crack of light spilled from another doorway.
“Hello? Who’s there?” asked Franklin Richards, peering around the corner in his flannel pajamas.
Let me handle this, Emma Frost said through her telepathy to the others. “Hello, Franklin,” Emma said soothingly. “Your mom and dad aren’t home, but we need to borrow their time machine. Where is it?”
“Are you really the X-Men?” Franklin asked suspiciously.
Of course we are, Emma sent subliminally into his mind. “That’s right,” she said with a smile.
“It’s over there,” Franklin mumbled. “I’m going back to sleep. G’night.”
“Sleep well, my vertically challenged, youthful compatriot,” said the Beast as Franklin turned the corner.
Beast lifted the time machine carefully, and Iceman and Archangel flanked him to help keep it balanced. “What do we do when he wakes up and tells the Fantastic Four we were here?” Bobby asked.
“He won’t,” said Emma. “When he wakes up, he won’t remember a thing. It will have all been a dream.”
“Riiiiiiiiight,” said a new voice. Turning to the window they had entered, the X-Men swallowed new lumps in their throats. “Add that to the list of crimes for the X-Men.” Miguel Reyes stood in his uniform with his arms crossed over his chest. “Men, prepare to fire upon the X-Men in response to breaking and entering as well as violation of curfew. And theft. Plus, if they fight back, let’s throw in evasion of arrest. Ready?”
Emma cursed and shook her head. “I knew there was a reason I stopped being one of the bad guys.”
The soldiers that Reyes had brought prepared to fire. Beast closed his eyes in preparation while Iceman muttered something witty but inappropriate for the situation. Archangel glared.
With a flash of red, all hell broke loose.
In the maximum security section, Brent Jackson drummed his fingers on the desk. He had been relieved of his Neverland facility by his former employers at S.H.I.E.L.D. This job wasn’t better—it was arguably worse—but at least his criminal record as Weapon X’s director was wiped clean. All he had to do was keep track of the max security prisoners.
In the past weeks, the section had held four different inmates, but three of them had been broken loose or set free by a government deal. The boy who had set off the Super Hero Registration Act and Captain America had been broken free while Maria Hill had cut a deal with Darkhawk. The only remaining one was Namorita, a New Warrior who had been captured during the breakout for Captain America. She’d have been moved to Neverland already if they had only discovered a way to dull Atlantean powers. So far, the only dampeners worked on mutants, human mutates, and aliens.
Jackson continued drumming his fingers as he took a sip of coffee. He didn’t usually drink it, but sitting in the white and silver room made it almost too easy to fall asleep.
In the deeper section of the Raft, the noise that should have been telltale was mistaken for rain. The ceiling began to shake where it had just been repaired since the previous breakout. Jackson dropped his mug. The ceramic shattered and brown liquid went everywhere along the white floor.
Metal tore from the ceiling. Jackson had his stun-gun in tow, as well as his regular guns. He was especially worried with the knowledge that this break-in knew how to get in without going through the front desk.
Daylight poured in from the hole in the ceiling as a man with wings on his feet flew in with amazing speed. He grabbed Jackson by the front of the jacket and rammed him against a wall. “Where’s my cousin?!” shouted Namor as threateningly as he could. Ask anyone who ever faced him before—no one was more threatening than Namor in rage.
“There,” Jackson said, pointing and wincing at the same time.
Namor dropped Jackson to the ground and ripped the door from to the cell from its hinges, just as Namorita had days before. He stood back as the tranquilizing darts flew from the defense system and then ripped the bindings from his tranquilized cousin’s body.
Cradling Namorita in his arms, Namor hovered up toward the hole in the ceiling. Before he left, though, he gave one final warning to Jackson.
“Tell your superior that she just brought the war to Atlantis,” he said ominously.
Maria Hill smiled as she looked around at the individuals she had assembled. They were to be S.H.I.E.L.D.’s new enforcers. Iron Man could have his Avengers as long as they were still in S.H.I.E.L.D.’s back pocket. Otherwise, they were a liability too.
Natasha Romanov was the first of the Enforcers. She had been backed into a corner by the Registration Act. As the Black Widow, she would have to play a part in forcing others to do the same as she had been forced to do herself.
Hill’s next recruit was made to force the hands of the X-Men, if the time came. Her top scientists and psychiatrists had molded the man named Northstar into something new and put him to work. His eyes were full of hatred and he rarely spoke a word.
The third was there as a personal request and a deal that no charges would be pressed against the man behind the mask. His name was Jason Macendale, and he was the former Hobgoblin. Now he donned the costume again to work legitimately, if not for the right reasons.
“Is there anything any of you three don’t understand about this job?” asked Maria. There was no reply. She took it as a no. “In that case,” she rolled out a long list of names and addresses, “these are the supers who haven’t registered. I don’t care if they’re retired, maimed, or even supposedly in their secret identities. Find them, register them, and if they don’t, subdue them. With any force short of lethal.”
“Oh, goodie,” said Hobgoblin as Maria left the room. “Sounds like this is going to be loads of fun!” He cackled menacingly. Black Widow and Northstar looked at him blankly.
“Well, at least I thought it was funny,” he muttered.
Xavier Institute for Higher Learning…
The students were sleeping. That’s how they always were at this time of night. Asleep. Normal people do that. Face it, secret operatives aren’t normal people.
“The X-Men aren’t home,” said Reyes through a comm.-link. “Operation: Roll Call begins now.”
The soldiers began to move, entering the mansion and beginning the stealthy move through the halls. What they got, they were not expecting.
“No way you’re tranquilizing me, jerk-wad!” shouted Mercury, rising in a puddle around one of the men’s feet. Dust filled the air—quite literally, Dust herself filled the air. Her sand particles clogged and disrupted many of the electronic components on the weaponry.
“I’ll take that—please check weaponry at the door—no guns for you!” said Surge as she used her electrically-granted speed to disarm one man after another. Meanwhile, Rockslide disarmed himself, firing his hands like rockets at the soldiers as they poured in.
“May I?” asked Hellion, getting slightly bored. He had been told by Surge to let the others strike first so there would be as few casualties as possible.
“All yours!” Surge shouted, releasing stored electricity from her gauntlets.
Hellion grinned. “You guys messed with the wrong people tonight!” A flash of blue-green telekinesis swept the men all back outside. From the lawn, the soldiers saw that the mansion was covered in a blue-green shield.
“How long can you keep that up?” asked Mercury.
“Until help arrives,” Hellion said shortly.
Surge frowned. “Do you have any idea how long it will take for them to get back? You might have to keep that up all night.”
“Who said the X-Men were our help?” asked Hellion. He peered out the window. “I think that a big, blue and green, glowing mansion was the first sign for the 198 to attack.
“I know every move you’ll make, Cap!” shouted Iron Man. “You can’t stop me!”
Blood poured from Cap’s nose and his right eye began to swell. “I’ll stop you and there isn’t a thing you can do about it, son.”
“We’ll see, won’t we?” Iron Man said, as he slammed Cap into the ground again.
The fight raged on, with punches and arrows flying everywhere. It wasn’t that hard for Captain Britain and the rest of Excalibur to find them.
“What do we do here, Sage?” asked Captain Britain. “This is a fight about the American Registration Act. Do we take sides or act accordingly?”
“Choosing a side is not a wise course of action,” Sage said. “However, there does not appear to be a wise course of action here.”
“What are you talking about?” Nocturne asked. “He’s killing Captain America!” Without another word, Nocturne dove into Captain Britain to possess him and joined the fray. Her rashness would have a big effect on the team.
“I always knew Iron Man was a sleazebag,” muttered Juggernaut. “Besides, why fight the small crowd when the underdogs could use a hand?”
Peter Wisdom cursed. “Stupid government tells me to comply with pro-registry numbskulls and my team does the opposite? Damn.” He did the only thing a person in his position could—he joined the fray.
“Well, Dazzler?” asked Sage. “I do believe that you’re the only one who has not made a decision.”
Dazzler shrugged. “Not my fight. See you at home.” She turned her back on the scene and walked away, past a shocked woman with frizzy, long, red hair and looked like a gypsy goddess. If she had joined the fight that day, things would have turned out differently.
The emergence of more heroes onto the scene made Iron Man go dumbstruck. “How many more do you have up your sleeve, Cap?” he asked in disbelief.
“Let’s call these ones a pleasant surprise, okay?” Cap said, grinning slightly through his pain.
The fight was still just as serious as it had been moments before. Bridge fought with Yellowjacket. He fired up his energy gun, catching Henry Pym in the chest. The mammoth hero staggered for a second before recovering.
“You don’t get in two hits like that on me!” he cautioned.
Bridge fired up his gun again; the shot lanced toward Pym. Hank reversed his Pym particles to shrink to an inch tall. It missed him…and hit the woman a hundred yards behind him—the redhead. The Scarlet Witch. Point blank.
Hawkeye saw this and gasped. He stopped fending off Ms. Marvel and sprinted toward Wanda’s fallen form.
“Who…?” she asked, the world already fading from sight.
“It’s…it’s Clint,” Hawkeye said. “Remember me?”
“I…I remember,” she said after a few seconds. “I did something bad…”
“It’s okay,” Hawkeye said, sobbing. “It’s all right.”
“I’m sorry…you died…” she muttered, before her hands went limp and her eyes stopped shuddering. A single tear fell from her eye across her cheek.
Hawkeye stood up, holding the dead woman in his arms. Tears streamed from his eyes. “No more games,” he said, teeth gritted. “This is war.”
“Did you feel that?” Magneto said suddenly, looking at Quicksilver.
Quicksilver nodded. “Wanda is gone.”
“We’ll stop what’s happening, then,” said Magneto. “And avenge her death. We start with the freedom of the 198…”
“And move on to the freedom of all mutantkind, X-Men included,” said Sinister, walking up. “Has Rictor returned?”
“Right here, boss man,” said Rictor. He was followed by two individuals—Domino and Shatterstar. “And I brought friends…”
The End…For Now.
Okay, first off I’d like to note that this ends the two-parter of Divergence. Next issue is an interlude, and if I felt like it, it would be called “Where the !@#$ is Spider-Man?!” He’s the biggest character I’ve basically left out of this, besides keeping with Marvel’s identity reveal. Following the interlude is a multi-issue arc entitled “Twenty-Four Hours.” Put simply, the arc takes place in twenty-four hours, and believe me, a lot can happen in between then. For example, what happens in the Runaways’, Young Avengers’, and Power Pack’s first twenty-four hours of confinement? Do the X-Men make it out unscathed? How goes the 198’s revolt? What’s the revelation of Thor’s island? How does the battle in London turn out?
Also, if this is the first issue you’ve read and you’re confused on the status of some characters, check out the Civil War Scorecard which will be updated with each issue.
Thanks, and have a good day,