The West Coast Avengers Vol. 3 Annual # 3 (2006)
- To combat those threats against which no hero can face
alone, Earth's Mightiest Heroes forged a covenant to
unite in battle to protect all mankind. Due to the
actions of an unstoppable menace, the team's second
charter has been reborn! These are the new adventures
of the West Coast Avengers!
Team Roster: Photon--Mistress of Energy! TigraFeline
Huntress! U.S.Agent--Soldier Extraordinaire! War
Machine--Arsenal of Destruction! Vision--Artificial
Synthezoid! She-Hulk--Gamma-Spawned Beauty!
Hercules--Prince of Power! Hawkeye-Flawless Marksman!
The West Coast Avengers Vol. 3 Annual #3
By Daniel D. Gordon
Plot Assist By Joel McCrory
The cool, brisk Wyoming breeze rustled Bonita Juarez's
skin. Being raised in the warmth of New Mexico, she
had never been a fan of cold weather. Feeling the
cold air made Bonita realize how much she missed home.
She often thought of her parents. She hated how her
hectic schedule with her new job and involvement with
the West Coast Avengers limited her time to visit
them. She promised herself to make time for a trip
home as soon as her life gained some measure of
Another breeze jolted Bonita back to reality. All she
could think of was that she volunteered to follow the
Vision to the outskirts of this mining town. She did
not hear the entire distress signal he received from a
former Avenger, but she knew something was wrong when
only his presence was requested. (1)
More cold air brushed against her and Bonita wished
she was monitoring the situation from the comfort of
the WCA Mountain Base. She was tired of sulking in
the dusky hilltop shadows waiting for something to
happen at the mining station under surveillance.
Bonita glanced at the Vision next to her, who had
remained silent throughout their trip. She wondered
what was going through his mind. She knew it sounded
weird, but she could sense his loneliness. She
somehow knew that he did not find comfort among the
rest of the team. She often heard sly comments from
the others as far as their mistrust of him and how
they did not consider the android in their midst as
the Vision they knew and loved. She barely knew the
Vision the other Avengers spoke of. Whether she did
or not, it would not be right for her to treat this
Vision like they did. Regardless of being man or
machine, he did not deserve to be an outcast.
"Find anything interesting?" Bonita asked her silent
"Local interference has diminished the validity of my
scans," Vision reported. "If there is illegal
activity inside the coal mine, I am unable to detect
"Neither can I," a robotic female voice confirmed from
behind. "If it was not for visual confirmation, I
would not have discerned this location as the object
of my query."
"Greetings, Jocasta," Vision welcomed.
"You're the one from the transmission," Bonita
"Yes," Jocasta confirmed, turning to Bonita. "Why are
"She came to assist me," Vision answered.
"Her presence here has already doomed us," Jocasta
activated her defensive optic weapons. Her eyes
glowed with a red tint that almost gave the robot a
"What do you mean?" Vision inquired.
"The government has been trying to track the terrorist
group known as Sirius ever since the attack on Boston.
(2) They work in many faction sects and I was sent
on an undercover mission to infiltrate this sect.
When I discovered who was operating this sect, I
contacted my superiors in X-Factor, only to learn that
my status with them was in question. (3) When I
could not contact the East Coast Avengers, I then
contacted you." (4)
"I guess we do have a stigma for being known as the
'other' Avenger team," Bonita mumbled.
"We must leave immediately," Jocasta warned. "Her
presence must have been detected by now. This Sirius
sect specializes in utilizing nanotechnology. Any
organic being that does not possess it is captured and
implanted with it."
"We must contact the others," Bonita suggested.
Before the androids could respond, the trio were hit
with a sonic wave. Bonita covered her ears as she
fell to her knees. The high-pitched frequency
immobilized Jocasta and Vision. Bonita felt her
consciousness slipping. She tried to reach for her
Communicard, but was overwhelmed by the unseen force.
Bonita struggled to maintain control of her mind as
several men in brown armor hovered over her. Bonita's
world faded to black as one of the men reached for
***Meanwhile at the WCA Mountain Base***
Bill Foster sat at the monitoring station. Watching
various screens and listening to numerous police
scanners was the most dreaded duty of an Avenger. No
one wanted to spend four hours trying to be attentive
of everything that was going on throughout the world.
If a person's attention wandered for a second, it
could have disastrous consequences. However, for some
reason Bill looked forward to today's shift. Maybe it
was because he was gone for a few days and actually
missed being around the others.
He occasionally kept an eye on things as he read the
weekly-updated S.H.I.E.L.D. datastream. This was the
only mandated reading the West Coasters were assigned
to. Since their headquarters was a former
S.H.I.E.L.D. base, the team had access to the spy
organization's intelligence resources. Since events
in the superhuman community constantly changed, it
helped them keep the shared Avengers/Fantastic Four
Bill turned around when he heard Doc Samson,
U.S.Agent, and Tigra enter the room. "So, how did the
transfer to the Big House go?"
"Without a hitch," Doc Samson informed. "I wanted to
get more insight into why the pair caused all the
destruction, especially since Eternals rarely interact
with the rest of world." (5)
"The guy wasn't in much condition to talk," U.S.Agent
added. "And the woman looked like she lost the love
of her life."
"I wouldn't be in the mood to talk if something
happened to you," Tigra mentioned.
"You not talk?" U.S.Agent grinned. "That would be a
"Whatever," Tigra gave a friendly shove. She then
looked at Bill and smiled. "Check you out, Bill!
Where did you get the new duds?"
"Celia made it for me," Bill answered, admiring the
new sleeveless redesign. (6)
"What's up with you two?" Tigra asked in a girlish
Bill was glad to be interrupted by a loud, beeping
noise. Bill returned his attention to the station and
saw a flashing red button.
"What's this?" Bill wondered. He pressed a flashing
key and the image of the Vision appeared on the main
"If you are reading this, then it means that it has
been five hours since either Firebird or I contacted
the base. We are presently investigating a distress
call from former Avenger Jocasta in regards to an
unknown threat. Please send reinforcements to the
enclosed location and proceed with caution." The
image was then replaced with a map of Riverton,
"Hit the call button," U.S.Agent ordered. "Looks like
we got ourselves a mission."
***Deep Inside the Mining Station***
Bonita squinted as she tried to focus her blurry
vision. She did not know how long she had been
unconscious. She tried to move and saw that she was
bound to a table. She looked around and saw the
disabled forms of Vision and Jocasta. She tried to
use her heat powers to free herself and noticed they
were not working.
"Your powers have been temporarily negated," a
high-pitched robotic female voice informed. "You will
be able to access them once you are remade in my
"There is only one God and you are not Him," Bonita
"Not yet," the female robot continued. "You are the
first superhuman I have experimented on. Once my
nanotech rewrites your DNA and bind you to my will, I
will use you to bring the rest of your kind under my
"I would rather die than to let you use me for your
evil plans," Bonita declared.
"Do not be so quick to deny me," the robotic woman
continued. "Once you are remade, you will experience
a life with no pain. You will have no worries or
concerns. All you will need to do is obey."
"I will never submit to you."
"Resistance is futile," the robot stated.
"Where did I hear that before?" Four arrows zipped
through the air, landing on Bonita's shackles. They
unsnapped and Bonita quickly jumped off the table.
"I wondered when the rest of you would show up," the
robot acknowledged the arrival of the West Coast
"Alkhema," Hawkeye called the robot's name in disgust.
"I wondered when you would show up again."
"Did you miss me, Hawkie?" Alkhema pointed to her
frame. "I got an upgrade since we last met. Do you
"I'm going to put an arrow through your head and be
done with it," Hawkeye answered with an unusual
disdain. He aimed an arrow at Alkhema's skull, but he
was unsure if he could follow on his threat. Much
like the Vision's brain engrams being based on the
thought patterns of fellow Avenger Simon Williams,
Alkhema's engrams were based on Bobbi Barton. (8) If
he destroyed Alkhema, he would be responsible for
erasing the last thing on Earth that represented his
"You know it will not be that easy," Alkhema laughed.
Hawkeye thought she was talking to him, but saw that
Alkhema turned her attention to Bonita who was trying
to free Vision and Jocasta.
Bonita froze in place against her will. She wanted to
untangle the cords wrapped around the androids, but
another force controlled her actions. She turned
around and saw the Avengers and her hands ignited.
"Bonita?" She-Hulk called out. "What are you doing?"
"She is part of my Machine Nation now," Alkhema
revealed. "Soon you will all be." (9)
From every corner of the sub-station, men and women
wearing brown armor surrounded the Avengers. With
weapons drawn, each soldier had some visual sign of
cybernetic alteration. Some had blades and guns
attached where arms should have been. Others had
optic enhancements replacing their eyes. There were
few that had so much machinery installed that they
barely looked human. None of them spoke as they
awaited their leader's next command.
"You have two choices, Avengers," Alkhema offered.
"Surrender willingly or waste the last moments of your
free will against my unstoppable army."
"We choose Option Three," Photon readied her
teammates. "We're taking you down. Avengers
"Detain them, but do not injure them," Alkhema
ordered. She strolled toward the hanging androids
after watching Bonita join the assault on the
"We need to take these people down fast," Photon
assessed. "Jen, Herc, and Tigra, take care of crowd
control. Hawkeye, I want you and War Machine to
distract Alkhema long enough for Agent to get Giant
Man close enough to free Vision and Jocasta. I'll
deal with Bonita."
"Let the battle be joined!" Hercules shouted,
grabbing two nearby soldiers and tossing them to the
side. The soldiers he did not toss, he disabled with
powerful punches to the face and chest.
She-Hulk, on the other hand, was more graceful
engaging the enemy. She grabbed and crushed
cybernetic joints with her gamma strength. She even
exercised her agility on certain soldiers with
forceful and sweeping arm spins. It did not take long
for her to discover that the damaged soldiers started
to repair themselves so they could rejoin the fray.
"They can regenerate," She-Hulk bellowed, disarming a
soldier who tried to sneak up behind her.
"I noticed," Tigra relayed, dodging an array of
weapons fire. With her feline speed, Tigra managed to
stay one step ahead of the soldier trying to kill her.
With ease she directed most of their fire against
She continued her pace since the wounds inflicted on
the soldiers quickly healed due to the nanotech in
their system. Tigra had no problem evading her
attackers, but she knew she would tire eventually. If
they were not stopped soon, she would end up like
Bonita. She did not want to be forced to hurt the
people she loved the most. With renewed
determination, she continued to disarm and dismantle
the soldiers who wanted to convert her into one of
Bonita was glad she was unable to touch Photon with
the numerous fire blasts coming from her hands.
Despite chasing her through the catacombs of the
mining station, Bonita wanted to stop. She wanted
control over her body again. She prayed that Photon
would find a way to break Alkhema's hold on her before
she did something she would regret.
"Fight it, Bonita!" Photon stopped in midair and
fired soundwaves in Bonita's direction. Bonita
screamed as the soundwaves washed over her. She could
feel the nanotech inside her body react to the sonic
barrage. Her ears tingled and a bio-substance poured
out of them.
"My God," Photon gasped. She watched tiny strips of
black technogrowth sprout from Bonita's ears and
spread across her face. She stopped her attack and
Bonita fell to the ground.
Bonita tried to fight the influence that was slowly
taking over her body. There was nothing she could do
to stop it. She did not want to be turn into an
unthinking zombie, but she had no idea of how to stop
her impending transformation. Her faith was the only
thing that told her that she would overcome. That
small glimmer of hope faded as the mechanical program
rewrote her thoughts.
"Bonita?" Photon flew down to help her. "Can you hear
"Perfectly," Bonita replied in an
electronically-distorted voice. She looked at her
leader and fired microwave energy from her eyes.
"Can you reach them?" U.S.Agent shouted over the
sound of his shield smashing the skull of one of the
"Almost," Giant Man stood at ten feet. He did not
want to grow too tall and become ineffective in the
close quarters. There seemed to be an endless supply
of Sirius soldiers. As Giant Man pushed his way
through the sea of cyborgs, he saw the looks of lost
humanity in their faces. It instantly reminded him of
how he felt when he used to lose control when he used
his powers. (10) In his mind he did not realize what
was happening, but from the empty gaze in the
soldiers eyes, he could tell they had no control over
Vision and Jocasta were nearly in his reach, but the
Sirius soldiers barred his way. Giant Man grew four
feet taller and pressed his way to the hanging
androids. He started to disconnect the cables
surrounding the Vision when he felt something pierce
his right arm.
"Ouch," Giant Man pulled his arm back to see what
pinched him. This was the first time he questioned
his decision of going sleeveless. He looked to see
what pinched him and it was the reactivated Jocasta.
"You will be one of us soon," Jocasta informed.
Giant Man grunted and shrunk to his normal size
against his will. U.S.Agent glanced in Giant Man's
direction and saw the Vision phase through the cables
around him and solidify next to Giant Man.
"This can't be good," U.S.Agent mumbled to himself.
He tried to make his way to Giant Man, but was
overpowered by three Sirius soldiers. He struggled
against his captors until one of them placed a
chopping blow against his neck, knocking him
War Machine provided repulsor fire from above while
Hawkeye leapt past the Sirius soldiers who tried to
subdue him. He had one goal and none of these
Deathlok wannabes were going to stop him. Everytime
he saw Alkhema out of the corner of his eye, he
thought of how she desecrated Bobbi's memory. He had
to put an end to it. No matter how much he wanted to
believe that some part of Bobbi was inside that
monstrosity, he knew he had to destroy it.
Hawkeye pulled out one of the uru-tipped arrows given
to him by the mighty Thor and aimed for Alkhema's
head. He trained his sights on his target and saw the
transparent form of the Vision standing in front of
"Out of the way, Vizh," Hawkeye barked. "You're
blocking my shot!"
The Vision said nothing and solidified in front of
"Move or I'll shoot right through you!" Hawkeye
Vision fired a solar blast from his brow and rendered
Hawkeye unconscious. By the time Hawkeye hit the
floor, Vision was tackled by a flying kick from Tigra.
"Why are helping her?" Tigra screamed. "You're
supposed to be helping us!"
The Vision responded with another solar blast. Tigra
coiled and launched herself at Vision. Her plan was
to claw his eyes out, but Vision's power of
intangibility prevented her from doing so. By the
time she turned to renew her attack, she was
backhanded by the Vision's diamond-hard skin. Tigra
joined Hawkeye on the ground, barely stirring as she
***Not Too Far Away***
She-Hulk and Hercules started to feel the physical
toll of the battle. They had not fought so hard in a
long time and the endless supply of soldiers did not
help matters any. The duo continued to smash their
opponents and momentarily paused when they saw Jocasta
march toward them.
"You're a little late for the party," She-Hulk smiled.
"But we left a few of them for you.
Jocasta stared at a pair for a moment and uttered
three words. "I am sorry."
Twin beams of energy shot from Jocasta's eyes and
struck She-Hulk and Hercules in the chest. As they
stumbled, twin probes ejected from underneath
Jocasta's palms and she injected them with nanotech.
After the pair collapsed, she placed one on each of
Jocasta saw a flash of light from one of the
catacombs. As the light grew brighter and brighter,
she noticed that two humanoid figures emerged from the
dark cavern. Bonita flew out carrying an unconscious
Photon over her right shoulder. Both were submerged
in Bonita's energy aura, which took the shape of her
namesake, a firebird.
She landed next to Jocasta and the two of them carried
the defeated Avengers to the others.
War Machine saw that the battle was going poorly and
trained his weapons on Alkhema. She spat out a wicked
laugh and activated her jet boots. She hovered in
front of War Machine and continued to laugh.
"You know there is nothing in your arsenal that can
harm me. My body is composed of adamantium. No
matter what happens I will survive. Surrender and
become part of the new race that will rule the earth."
"You bigots sound all the same," War Machine powered
the electroknife housed above his right gauntlet.
"It saddens me to think on some twisted level, Bobbi
thought like that."
He rammed the electroknife into Alkhema's chest which
sent an electromagnetic pulse to Alkhema's internal
systems. Alkhema convulsed as the pulse disrupted the
inner workings of her body. War Machine thought his
plan worked until Alkhema grabbed his hands.
"Did you miss the part when I said I got an upgrade?
How about a taste of your own medicine?"
Alkhema redirected the pulse through War Machine's
armor and his systems started to shut down. Both he
and Alkhema started to tumble towards the ground. He
was the Avengers' last hope and it looked like he was
about to fail. Not only was he about to fail them,
but everyone on the planet as well. If he did not
stop Alkhema, she would turn everyone into her slaves.
He would rather die than to live as anyone's slave.
War Machine tried to activate his armor's
self-destruct mechanism, but the pulse had already
A large thud echoed throughout the station as the two
crashed. Vision, Jocasta, and Firebird placed the
unconscious Avengers on the ground and rushed to the
newly-made crater. By the time they reached it,
Alkhema stood to her feet.
"Well, that was fun," Alkhema brushed the dust from
her body. She surveyed and analyzed the aftermath of
the battle. "It appears I need to make some
improvements if my soldiers are to withstand future
"There will not be a next time," the Vision replied.
"What?" Alkhema turned to Vision, who had already
phased his hand inside her chest.
"Your 'Machine Nation' is about to fall," The Vision
pulled on her primary power source. The tug triggered
Alkhema's defensive electrical forcefield and forced
Vision to withdraw his hand.
"So you managed to override the nanotech I implanted
in you," Alkhema deducted. "There is no way you could
have stopped the nanotech Jocasta distributed."
"No he did not," Jocasta confirmed. "I was able to
disarm it myself. I simply injected them with a
tranquilizing agent so they would not witness what we
will do to you."
"Avengers do not kill!" Alkhema laughed. "And I am
"No one can kill what is not alive," Firebird's energy
aura started to glow. The technorganic material on
her face started to melt. "Your evil must be purged
from the Earth!"
Firebird's yellow aura turned hot white and expanded
towards Alkhema. Alkhema tried to escape, but found
that she was frozen in place. She was in awe of the
power the human wielded. Never had she encountered
such power! How could one such as her control and
harness it? She wanted to know how! Alkhema reached
to capture a sample of the power around her and found
herself instantly incinerated in the fury of the
Firebird powered down and for the first time since the
ordeal began, she felt whole. She was cleansed of the
foreign elements in her body. She thanked God for His
mercy and thanked Him for His grace when she saw that
the West Coast Avengers had regained consciousness.
"Is everyone okay?" Jocasta asked with concern.
"We will be once we find out what is going on here,"
Photon inspected her team, making sure everyone was in
"With your assistance, a major terrorist plot was
foiled," Jocasta explained.
"What was with the sucker punch?" She-Hulk blared,
her usual curly locks hung wildly over her head.
"I could not reveal that the Vision help me regain
control of my body," Jocasta stated. "I followed
Alkhema's orders to subdue you until the moment was
right to confront her."
"How do we know you two aren't still under her
control?" Tigra sneered, giving Vision a hateful
"I assure you I am operating under my own cognizance,"
"So what do we do from here?" Hawkeye looked at the
bodies which littered the floor. "What do we do with
"You do not have to concern yourself with them,"
Jocasta informed. "I will see that this site is swept
"Fair enough," Photon looked at the damaged caused by
their battle. "That may take a while. Do you want
"That won't be necessary, Avengers. We have this
under control now."
Men in blue mecha suits stormed the cavern. They
established a perimeter to conduct the clean-up
process and started to collect samples from the
diseased soldiers. The West Coast Avengers recognized
the black insignias which stood out on each of the
mech units. It was that of the Sabres, the United
States government's response team to domestic threats.
"Do these guys get paid to show up when we're done?"
U.S.Agent asked the rhetorical question as the Blue
Sabres began to take statements from the Avengers.
***Some Time Later***
Bonita stood on the same hill she had hours earlier
and stared into the night sky. She reflected on the
day's events. Her faith was tested in a way she could
never have imagined. She was glad God gave her
strength to preservere so she could be on hand
whenever the Avengers needed her.
The Vision phased upward through the earth and stood
next to Bonita. He joined her in observing the night
"Thank you for accompanying me," the Vision extended
Bonita did not know what to say. Was the Vision
opening up to her? Was that why she was here? Was
she suppose to be a light to lost souls? Was the
Vision one of those souls? Bonita told herself she
would answer those questions later. Right now there
was only one thing she could say.
"You're welcome," Bonita smiled and held his hand.
The two of them continued to watch the movements of
the stars above.
***An Unknown Location***
Ultron turned off the monitor when the transmission
ended. He had more proof of the threat the Avengers
could be to him. He always considered dealing with
the team his "father" currently led after he completed
his current endeavor, but it appeared that the other
team may prove to be a greater threat to his plans.
He would treat the West Coast Avengers as an equal
threat, especially if Firebird remained with them.
The door of his base opened and two figures entered.
One wore the brown armor of the Sirius soldiers who
were just defeated by the Avengers. The other was the
being that he just saw perish on the screen.
"Alkhema? How did you survive?"
"I almost did not," Alkhema admitted. "I barely had
time to download myself into a new body and deliver
the improved nanotech you desired."
"Where is it?" Ultron scanned the room.
"Just a moment." Alkhema pressed against the
technorganic mesh on the soldier's face and he jerked.
He continued to jerk and twist until the chest
compartment of his armor opened. Alkhema retrieved a
cylinder filled with aqua fluid. Without the nanotech
to sustain his life, the soldier died and fell to the
Alkhema gave the cylinder to Ultron and he scanned its
content. His optic scanners registered the
microscopic nanotech, but they were invisible to his
"Impressive," Ultron commented, observing the
nanotech's duplicating abilities. "You have done
"Good," Alkhema head for the door. "Our business is
"Are you sure you do not wish to join me in my plans
of conquest?" Ultron offered.
"As I told your predecessor, I am my own woman. Just
save some humans for me to experiment on. It may get
boring when you actually conquer the world and a girl
will need something to do."
"I will keep that in mind," Ultron pondered, watching
Alkhema exit. He finally had the final piece needed
to rid him of a current annoyance. Once he was rid of
it, he would return to destroying everything his
'father' held dear.
To Be Continued in the Pages of Altmarvel's The
***Machine Nation Footnotes***
1. This happened at the end of Altmarvel's West Coast
2. This happened in the now-classic Altmarvel's
3. With the dissolution of Altmarvel's X-Factor the
people in charge of Altmarvel's New X-Factor are
determining Jocasta's status with their team.
4. Check out Altmarvel's Avengers #451-454 to find
out why the East Coast branch is unable to help anyone
at the moment.
5. Who is he talking about? Read Altmarvel's Captain
Marvel #52 to find out!
6. For more on Bill's new costume, read the back-up
feature in this very issue!
7. Alkhema escaped Avengers capture in Marvel's West
Coast Avengers Annual #8 and is now sporting her
Version 2.0 look as seen in Marvel's Ultron Imperative
8. It's true! Ultron did this in Alkhema's first
appearance in Marvel's Avengers West Coast #90.
9. Is this the same Machine Nation seen in the
alternate future shown in Altmarvel's Captain Marvel
#48-51. Probably not, but go read it just to make
10. Bill Foster used to succumb to an uncontrollable
rage when he used his powers during Altmarvel's West
Coast Avengers #15-30.
Alternate Marvel Presents
Dr. Cecelia Reyes in a Tale of Love and Betrayal
By Daniel D. Gordon
A thousand thoughts ran through the mind of Dr.
Cecelia Reyes. For the past few days, she had been
debating the issue of telling Bill Foster how she felt
about him. She tried to map out all the outcomes of
the inevitable conversation. What would she say if he
embraced her? How would she react if he rejected her
advances? Should she even bother with telling him at
all? Was she truly "in love" with him? Did her
feelings form due to the time they spent working
together or where they a by-product of the loneliness
in her heart?
Cecelia paced herself as she walked down the hallway.
She wondered why Bill asked her to come to his
quarters. He had just come back from visiting his
ex-girlfriend, Celia Jackson, who needed to be
relocated after being kidnapped by the Maggia.
Cecelia guessed he either remembered that she wanted
to talk to him before his abrupt departure or he had
some news that she did not want to hear.
Cecelia exhaled when she reached his room. She waited
a moment and pushed the buzzer. The door opened and
Bill Foster stood over his bed, unpacking his
"Come in, Cece," Bill greeted. "I need your help with
"Are you having problems with your powers?" Cecelia
"No, my powers are fine," Bill assured. "I need help
in a more...personal manner."
"What do you mean?" Cecelia's heart started to pound
faster. Why was she feeling like she was being asked
to the prom?
"I need you to help me make a decision that will no
doubt affect our future," Bill conceded.
"'Our' future?" Cecelia repeated.
"Yes," Bill unzipped a traveling bag which housed two
suits. Each was streamlined variants of his Giant Man
costume. One was a sleeveless gray muscle shirt with
a large navy V-shape pattern in the center that
accompanied navy pants and a domino mask. The other
was of the same design with the exception of gray
muscle shirt being yellow. Each suit sported a golden
belt buckle in the shape of the letter G.
"So what do you think?" Bill waited for a response.
"Where did you get them?" Cecelia inquired.
"Celia wanted to thank me for helping her out so she
redesigned my costume. Since she couldn't decide
which color scheme she liked best, she let me have
both of them."
"And you want me to pick one for you," Cecelia
"You ladies do have an eye for fashion," Bill grinned.
"Which one looks the best?"
Cecelia wanted to storm out of the room. Everytime
she wanted to address her feelings towards Bill, she
was reminded of his involvement with Celia.
"Go with the silver one, Cecelia chose. "The other
one makes you look like a member of the X-Men."
"I thought so too," Bill laughed, hanging the silver
costume in the closet and returning the yellow one to
"Was there anything else you needed?" Cecelia headed
for the door. She wanted to see if there was anything
else on his mind.
"No, that was it," Bill confirmed. "I know I must be
keeping you from your work. Thanks for your help."
"Sure," Cecelia mumbled, leaving the room.
Cecelia quickly walked to her office. She was not
sure who she was madder at, Bill or herself. Why was
every word out of his mouth about a woman he had not
had contact with in years? The better question was
why Cecelia was so upset about it? It was not like
Bill had any reason to suspect how she felt about him.
After Cecelia's office door closed behind her she
thought that if she buried herself in her work she
will find some way to keep Mister Foster off her mind.
Staring at the medipads on her desks and the piles of
paperwork scattered everywhere did not change the
turmoil inside Cecelia's heart. In fact, it made it
worse. She told herself that the feelings she was
having for Bill were the very reason why she was in
her present situation. She would have never been
charged with the crime which landed her in the "care"
of the West Coast Avengers if she had not acted on the
feelings of her heart. (1) She sighed as she thought
about the man who turned her world upside down.
***Elm Hill Hospital***
***A Few Months Ago***
"Say 'ah'," Cecelia pointed her thermometer at her
"I don't have a fever."
"This is just a formality, Mister Sorenson," Cecelia
coaxed. "Federal law requires that we document your
health before placing you in the system. I am sure
you have been through this before."
"What's that suppose to mean?" Sorenson's eyebrows
briefly flickered with flame.
"I am well aware of your file, 'Equinox'," Cecelia
flipped a few pages of a nearby chart. "I know you
have been in the Vault before. You also know that the
sedations given to you neutralizes your powers. If
you want to continue being difficult, I have no
problem having security hold you down while I obtain
your temperature in a more...unpleasant fashion."
Terry thought about the times he took his daughter,
Janet, to the doctor when she was a baby. Her screams
and cries when they stuck the cold, metal object in
her apple bottom sent chills through his body. He
swore that no one would ever violate him like that and
he was not going to give the doctor any reason to.
"Thank you," Cecelia said, inserting the thermometer
in Sorenson's open mouth. When she recorded her
findings, Sorenson asked an unexpected question.
"You enjoy this, dont'cha?"
"Excuse me?" Cecelia looked up from her chart.
"Using your position to invoke your will on others."
"What are you talking about?"
"I know exactly how you feel," Sorenson ranted. "When
I first started using my powers, I felt I could do
anything to anybody. I saw that same thrill in your
eyes when you made your demand. You know that with a
push of a button, you could terrorize anyone you want.
You're no different than me."
"I am nothing like you," Cecelia rebuked. "I would
not abandon my child so I could rob and hurt people."
"What else was I suppose to do?" Sorenson shouted,
his prison shirt smoldering from the heat his skin
generated. "Wilson promised to help me find someone
that could help my little Janet control her powers.
(2) No one would look pass the fact that I used to
be a criminal! What is the point of reforming when no
one would accept you? The Maggia was the only place I
could turn to. I knew if I had got caught, they would
take Janet from me, but I had no choice. I had to
feed her, right? What else was I suppose to do?"
Cecelia saw the pain in Sorenson's melancholy face.
She did not expect Sorenson to tell his story. Never
before had a prisoner opened up to her. Her job had
become so mundane that she just expected everyone that
she saw to be guilty. They did wrong because they
wanted to. How many felons had she seen that was like
Sorenson? How many inmates walked down the wrong path
because it was the only thing they could do to
"I'm sorry to hear about the loss of your daughter,
Cecelia tried to console him.
"I'm sorry for flipping out on you, Sorenson
apologized, glazing into Cecelia's brown eyes. "If I
had someone like you in my corner, I'm sure things
would've been different for me."
"Maybe," Cecelia started to blush. It was hard to
imagine that a handsome man like Sorenson was the
half-fire, half-ice monster depicted in the photos
attached to his chart.
"Doc, I would do anything to show you that I'm not
some stupid super thug. I would love to show you a
Cecelia knew where this was going and headed to her
desk. "If we had met under different circumstances, I
may take you up on that, Terry. Unfortunately, you
examination is done and it's time for you to head for
the processing center."
"Sorry, doc. I have other plans."
Before Cecelia could respond, she suddenly felt a
surge of heat emanate from behind her. She turned to
see Sorenson's body upper body engulfed in flame.
"How is this possible?" Cecelia asked, reaching for
the silent alarm under her desk. Before she could
press it, the desk was encased in a block of ice.
"I have more control over my powers now. As we were
talking, I was using the thermo energy inside me to
overwork the neutralizing meds you gave him."
"So you were using me?" Cecelia's face filled with
"That wasn't my intent, doc," Sorenson confessed. "I
will do anything to get my girl back and I can't do
that sitting behind bars."
"You won't get far," Cecelia warned.
"I guess I have to make a distraction." Sorenson's
palms turned to ice and he fired two heat blasts into
a nearby medicine cabinet. The combustable chemicals
instantly exploded and a fire erupted.
"No!" Cecelia screamed. "The fire spread to the
nearby patients in the other rooms!"
"That's not my worry and it shouldn't be yours,
Sorenson blanketed the office window with a sheet of
ice. "Forget about them and come with me."
"So we can play Bonnie and Clyde?" Cecilia ran for a
nearby extinguisher. "No thank you."
"I really meant about what I said earlier," Sorenson
formed an ice bridge toward the window. "I really
wished you could've been in my corner."
Cecilia jerked when she heard the shattering of glass.
She turned and saw that Sorenson had escaped. She
struggled with the extinguisher and tossed it aside
when she could not get it to work. She had to act
quickly to stop the fire or it would consume
She hated using her mutant power. She had gone to
great lengths to hide the fact that she was mutant.
She knew the stigma being a mutant carried. None of
that mattered if she was dead. She focused her
thoughts on containing the fire and a large forcefield
slowly formed around the flames. As she concentrated
harder, the field shrunk, smothering the dancing licks
of heat until they burned themselves out due to the
lack of oxygen needed to ensure their existence.
Once the threat was gone, she surveyed the room and
saw the damaged done to it. She heard footsteps and a
dozen Guardsmen entered the room. To her
astonishment, four of them trained their replusors on
"Where is he?" the Guardsmen leader asked.
"He jumped out the window," Cecelia pointed to the
hole in the wall.
"Doctor, I need you to come with me," the Guardsmen
***Back in the Present***
Cecelia silently stared at the image of Terry Sorenson
on her computer screen. He was the reason she was
charged with being an accessory to his escape. There
was no proof to this claim, but they needed a
scapegoat and she was the obvious choice. If it was
not for the ties her brother had in the government,
she would have probably been rotting in the Vault next
to the same inmates she treated. She often wondered
how Lorenzo knew Charles Xavier. She reminded herself
to ask him about that the next time she spoke to him.
Cecelia reread the screen to see if Sorenson's status
had changed. According to the S.H.I.E.L.D. database,
he was still at large. She wondered if he was
reunited with his daughter or if he was still running
jobs for the Maggia.
She also wondered why she always thought about him.
In the short time they spent together, did they really
form a bond? Was the compassionate side she briefly
saw genuine or was it all an act? She hated that she
may never know the answers to her nagging questions.
Cecelia shook her head and came to the realization
that the answers to those questions did not matter.
The anger she associated with her scorched love
blinded her to the fact that she was living a more
positive and productive life than she had at Elm Hill.
She no longer had to hide her mutantcy and she was a
member of one of the world's premier superteams. In
a way, she was glad she crossed paths with Terry.
Without him, she would have been stuck doing the same
thing day in and day out instead of helping to make a
difference in a way that mattered.
"Girl, it's time to let it go," Cecelia said to
herself. She was tired of festering the boiling anger
inside her. She made a decision to focus on the
positive things around her. She had a new home and a
new reason for being. She had been places and seen
sights most people only dreamt about. And to top it
all off, she had friends who would lay down their
lives for her. What more could anyone ask for?
"Thank you, Terry." Cecelia kissed the tips of two
fingers and placed them on the image before her. She
turned off the screen and returned to the joy that was
her new life.
1. Cecelia has been in the "care" of the Wackos since
her first appearance in Altmarvel's West Coast
2. That would be Sam "Falcon" Wilson as shown in
Marvel Comics Presents #147.
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