Amazing Adventures #48
- [Morvania International Airport.]
Designed by Anthony Stark nearly a decade ago, the MIA was built only
three years ago, after the completion of the clean-up of a mad
dictator's regime which the Incredible Hulk had inadvertantly
smashed. Since the bloody civil war of Morvania began, flights in and
out of the country were sporadic at best, no one wanting to board an
airplane that may have an explosive on it. Now, with the Champions
having secured the small European nation from magical and guerrilla
forces, the airport was getting used more and more regularly, by more
and more people. Morvania was slowly being considered a safe country
in which to do business, if a bit backwards, and many saw it as an
untapped marketplace for international opportunities.
Today, a very special passenger arrived, stepping down from the plane
like everyone else, a civilian who secretly stalked like a Marvel. No
one took notice of him or his briefcase, which was a bit larger than
normal. The way he held it did not demonstrate the great weight of
the thing, which was heavy enough to make most men sweat.
Suddenly, this man disappeared as though he had never been there.
Seconds later, four guerrillas emerged, blasting their semi-
automatics into the high ceilings. Everyone else immediately ducked
to the ground for cover.
"Listen up, scum!" The leader of the four cried out, "We demand safe
passage to Georgia! Let us on your plane and we'll be on our way, and
nobody has to die!"
The four guerrillas wore the patches of members of Warlord Kong's
militia, of whom several small bands still were on the loose but
wanted and heavily searched for by the local police forces. "Let's
avoid any bloodshed! Just give us what we want!"
"I don't think so," a voice thick with electronic manipulation said,
causing the four to whip around to see the man in the crimson and
gold armor. "No, I think you're going to jail. If you didn't commit
any atrocities under Warlord Kong already, this really isn't going to
help your case before the judge."
"What's he doing here?"
"It don't matter," the leader of the guerrillas said, though he began
to sweat in big, thick sheets, "waste him!"
Four guns pounded sheets of bullets at the armored man. Fearing that
the ricochets would hurt the innocent bystanders, he opted to fly
over the gunfire instead of let it bounce off him. Before they could
even follow his movements, he was hovering over them, blasting them
with repulsor rays.
Quickly, the threat was dispelled. All four were unconscious. The
Invincible Iron Man landed in their midst. "What a fun town," he
commented to himself.
Seven heroic figures step into the light. Tired of reacting to the
evil perpetrated by those who have little or no regard for the lives
and rights of innocents, they have decided to take a proactive stance
to superheroics, becoming the sole protectors of a small, war-torn
European country now filled with magical forces. Captain Wonder,
Sersi, the Torch, Captain Victory, Wildman, and Superpro, led by
Psykos--together they will fight injustice. For the innocent and the
helpless, they are the Champions!
The Champions #48
"Return of a Champion"
Writer: John Flint
Editor: Josh Greer
Webmaster: Liam Gibbs
[The Dren Forest.]
Whilst Captain Wonder piloted the Golden Castle overhead, unable to
help out in any way but in keeping their floating fortress from
crashing in the forest, where there were no viable landing strips
nearby, Superpro and Thunder Head took on Agni, the thick, super-
strong beast who split from the magician, Omni, engaged in combat
with the Torch, Sersi, and Wildman.
"Die!" Agni shouted, throwing Superpro and Thunder Head away as
though they were paper dolls. "None can stand up to the might that is
in the furious fists of Agni!"
"I think this guy's lines are even worse than when he was Agni-Omna,"
Thunder Head groaned, "Do the Champions always get the lamest
villains to fight?"
"Generally speaking," Superpro said, catching his breath in the
"Harder to take 'em serious--oof!" Thunder Head found himself tackled
by the magical brute, who tore at his metallic chest. "You want to
see what's inside?"
Thunder Head smiled. Agni's raging face turned to curiosity. Thunder
Head's chest opened up, revealing a small cannon. Before Agni could
move out of the way, it fired, blasting him in the face and knocking
him back, off his feet.
"Wow," Superpro said, rubbing the back of his head as he rose to his
feet, "That was pretty cool."
"Thanks," Thunder Head laughed as his chest plate smoked. Agni
squirmed in the grass, his face burnt and blackened. "He probably
won't be dumb enough to fall for that again, though."
Agni pounced on Superpro, throwing him into Thunder Head.
"Nope," Superpro sighed, "No such luck."
Meanwhile, Omna held up a magical force field that kept the three
Champions from hitting him in his now physically weakened form. He
could still, however, fire blue bolts of mystical power out at them.
The Torch volunteered himself to zip about, keeping the fire away
from the others as Omna tried fruitlessly to strike him, growing more
annoyed at the old android by the second.
Sersi and Wildman stood outside, blasting at the field, keeping the
magician's attention divided.
"I wonder," Wildman said, an idea brewing inside his head, "it's been
awhile since I've really tried to stretch my powers... if I could
mimick your powers, Sersi, as well as Omna's..."
Sersi kept blasting the field with cosmic energy as her former lover
attempted it, first mimicking her power and then trying to take on
that of Omna, without extinguishing her Eternal power within him.
"Arrgh!" Wildman shouted, as energy exploded out of him, both of the
cosmic and mystical variety. He collapsed, and Sersi immediately went
to his side. The feedback knocked him out; the Troyjan experiment
that permanently altered his powers, and the magic of Morvania that
altered it, had not allowed for more than one power or power set at a
[Meanwhile, in the Himalayas.]
Psykos was on his honeymoon, but after finishing the afternoon
activities with his new wife, he let her drift into peaceful, restful
sleep, while he sped over the globe to find a place of solitude in
which he could think by himself.
Floating on the air over snow-capped peaks, the newly elected
President of Morvania considered the paradox of his position: he had
been elected because of the good work the Champions had done in the
country, he himself having been one until his resignation from the
group because of a conflict of interest with his political position,
and yet the people wanted the Champions out of their country as soon
It was entirely understandable; the country had never had many super-
powered threats until the Champions came, at which point the
villains, mystical and scientific, came pouring in. The populace
weren't aware that they would have anyway, due to the mystical
influences at play. As far as they knew, the Champions came in to
assert order, and there followed the flow of Marvels into the land.
"I can ask them to leave," Psykos said to the Yeti sitting beside
him, tranquilized through the manipulation of pleasant chemicals in
her brain. "And if they resist, I can alter their minds enough to see
reason. It would be easy, except for Sersi, who would detect the
influence and could wind up falling to her dark side once more, and
Iron Man, whose psychic defenses would detect the attempt, if not
defend against it altogether."
The Yeti looked at Psykos, understanding his words through mental
manipulation of her intelligence. Still unable to speak, the creature
could only utter grunts and noises.
"Yes, I may have to fight the Champions, my former teammates," Psykos
said, "I pray it does not come to that, however. Must I assemble my
own cabinet of Marvels, Eternal and otherwise, to combat the
Champions of Morvania?"
The Yeti snorted. "Yes," Psykos agreed, "Tony Stark is an agreeable
man. I'm sure he can talk some sense into them if I cannot. There are
plenty of other countries in the midst of savage wars that could use
their aid, if they want to continue in places as they are in now. I
see no need to continue on in Morvania."
The Yeti spoke again, unintelligible mutterings.
"Thank you, my friend," Psykos smiled, "I appreciate that."
"What's this?" Dr. Saunders asked, "Another one? This is the third
child today, with symptoms not quite like anything we've seen before!
What's going on?"
Dr. Saunders put down the child's chart. "Alright, Billy... do you
know of the other children sick with this? Your chart says you all
come from the same village. All with these... weird symptoms..."
Billy tried to reply, opening his mouth wide, but only electronic
garbles came out. His left eye burned with a red light, his right arm
falling apart, wires exposed. People were beginning to talk, all
throughout the hospital and these boys' village, that they were
exposed parts in some government conspiracy to build androids to take
over. Others said it was some weird strain of virus, a techno-organic
virus of some sort.
"What is going on?" Dr. Saunders asked himself quietly, rubbing the
bridge of his nose regardless of his glasses. Exposure to radiation
might slow the spread throughout the body, but it also would, more
likely, kill the lad. If not, it would no doubt give him powers that
would forever change him, and Dr. Saunders had heard of parents suing
doctors who turned their children into super-human freaks. The
hospital and Dr. Saunders could not afford those lawsuits, and had no
radiation machines that powerful if they could.
Unknown to Dr. Saunders, a tiny mechanical spider recorded his
conference with his young, dying patient from the corner of the room.
It transmitted the images and sounds to a hidden lab nearby, where an
evil presence sat and watched the speed of his work's spread.
The metal man with a face carved like a jack o'lantern watched with
glowing eyes, pleased.
[The Dren Forest.]
"Hold him!" Thunder Head shouted as he punched Agni in the face,
Superpro struggling behind him to keep him gripped tight.
"Got him," Superpro announced as his arms wrapped around Agni's,
restraining him as the brute pushed forward with all his superhuman
Thunder Head's chest cavity opened up again, and he blasted Agni in
the chest from inches away, blasting through Agni's own chest. Only a
small amount of the blast got all the way through, tearing up his
internal organs, and hit Superpro's well-armored form. Still,
Superpro fell back, releasing Agni.
Agni crawled forward, looking to kill, to destroy, for the Maggia,
for the sake of power and his dark secret gods... his power failed to
regenerate him once again, having spent itself in healing his face
from the last blast. Agni began to unravel, his organs falling free
from his body and then bleeding into the soil, being absorbed into it.
"Um," Thunder Head said, "What's going on?"
"Magical energy can't be destroyed," Superpro explained, "just
displaced. Damn magic, you'll learn how to hate it if you stay with
"Lucky me," Thunder Head smiled as the last of Agni evaporated.
"No! My physical presence in this realm has been underminded!" Omna
cried out as his body began to unravel as well. The Torch watched as
he fell, turned to red liquid and was absorbed into the grass as his
counterpart had. Snuffing out his flame, Jim Hammond went to Sersi
and the fallen Wildman, who was beginning to come back around.
"Pretty sloppy, I must say," they heard a voice laugh, and the
Champions turned to face a hovering man in armor. "The Champions need
a lot of work before they earn that title. Let's get to work, people."
"Iron Man," Thunder Head stated in admiration. "That... that's Iron
"It is," Superpro responded, equally impressed with the mere sight of
the living legend. "We're on a team with the Invincible Iron Man."
Sersi scowled at Iron Man, then returned her attention to her fallen
"What happened?" Jim asked, as Iron Man hit the ground and walked
over to them.
[The beginning of a new era...]
Werewolf by Night
"Creatures on the Loose"
Writer: John Flint
Editor: Josh Greer
Webmaster: Liam Gibbs
[New York City, evening.]
The doors to the theatre exploded inward in a burst of fluffy, white
light. Men in black body armor stood to attention and others came
rushing to see what was going on, the air vibrating as electro-sticks
Whiteout walked into the theatre as though he owned the place. It
looked as though he held a clump of snow in each hand, though it
congealed and swirled like a form of alien energy. His mutant power
was this white, otherworldly light, which was not entirely energy nor
completely matter. It was something in between; it was somewhat both.
And, as one unfortunate guard quickly learned, it burned like a
mother when it came into contact with the human body, easily phasing
through his armor. The man fell, screaming, and the other guards
radioed in that they were under attack. One guard held a radio to his
ear as he listened in for confirmation, only to have radio, helmet,
and ear smashed all in one stroke by the swinging sledgehammer of the
man with the same name as his favorite tool of destruction.
Sledgehammer worked on tripping up another guard with his
sledgehammer whilst the first one was still falling to the ground.
Successful in falling another guard, Sledgehammer returned to the
first, bringing down his mighty hammer with both hands, shattering
the rest of the guard's helmet and pulverizing his skull. This was
Sledgehammer's job; this was what he did. He didn't mind the blood
and gray matter splattered all over his clothing; he could buy more.
It more than paid the bills.
A guard with an electro-stick tried to sneak up on Sledgehammer, but
Whiteout hurled a burst of solid light at him, and the guard went
down, crying and screaming and smoking and liquifying internally.
"I got you covered, Sledge," Whiteout cried triumphantly, as two more
human guards charged him with electro-sticks buzzing blue with
"Mellane," Sledgehammer said, gently letting his namesake hit the
floor and whipping out twin pistols from a hidden fold in his baggy
pants. "Where is he?"
The guards were too busy either crying and dying or roaring and
charging to answer him coherently. This being the case, Whiteout and
Sledgehammer stood their ground, casually pumping the guards full of
bullet holes and searing scorches as unreal matter ate away at their
"Poor kid," Whiteout muttered to himself, looking down at a
helmetless guard who was screaming voicelessly in his desperation,
his voicebox melted away. "You poor, stupid kid," Whiteout said,
before holding a hand over the kid's mouth and nose and smothering
him where he lay, helpless. The kid struggled, so Whiteout activated
his power in his palm once more, and after a final, spastic jerk, the
victim went limp.
"Do you really think that was wise?" Dr. Vurge asked Mellane, as the
heavy wooden door to the dungeon behind them cushioned the sounds of
a wolf's howls. "Lillith's forces are already at war with us! Now
we've got them upstairs, and that thing down here, and we--"
"There is no 'we,' little man," Mellane snarled, grasping Dr. Vurge
by the throat, "I allow you to live in my presence because I chose
to. You have no right to consider yourself my equal, human. I could
cure your cancer, yes, by giving you my own status. I choose not to
do so, because I have no use for a man of your intellect in a
position of power as one of my fellow Undead; you would only serve to
undermine my future status as Lord of the Vampires."
"You never intended to turn me," Dr. Vurge realized, horrified, as he
stepped back, closer to the wood door behind which a monster was
scratching and foaming at the mouth. "You were just using me, for
your own amusement! My vampire-armor--"
"Your research will continue after you," Mellane smiled, "And I thank
you for the start. I can find plenty more mad scientists of your
kind, who will make a deal with the devil himself just for the hope
of a cure for whatever disease ravages their bodies. You are not a
unique individual, Doctor."
"No, maybe not," Dr. Vurge said, his mouth twisting with rage, as he
struggled to hold back tears, his face turning red, "but at least I
can make amends for helping you out all these weeks..." He took
another step back, and Mellane's eyes widened.
"You wouldn't. It would mean your demise as well."
"...by helping to put an end to your evil," Dr. Vurge said, standing
before the door, hand on the lock, "forever."
And Dr. Vurge twisted the bar loose, and grabbed at the handle to
open it wide. Before he could do so, the door itself rammed into him,
knocking him off his feet.
Mellane stood frozen in horror, as the werewolf stood in the doorway,
snarling at both vampire and madman. Blood stained his brown fur, and
a slight trail could be seen going from the wolf-man back to the body
of the hooded man whom Mellane had finished moments earlier, so as to
invoke the lycanthropic transformation which he had hoped to have
proper time and tools to shape and manipulate, so that the werewolf
would work as his servant.
"Back," Mellane said, "stay back!"
Mellane stared into the werewolf's eyes, hoping that, in this savage
state, he would be more susceptible to hypnosis than he had been in
his human form. Whatever protection the Defenders had given him was
still in effect, and the werewolf lunged, tackling the vampire and
immediately tearing at his throat.
Sledgehammer put his pistols away and picked up his sledgehammer once
more. The deed was done; all the human guards in the long theatre
were on the ground, dead. Smoke rose still from those destroyed by
Whiteout's awesome mutant power. Whiteout himself sat on the stage,
chin resting on his fist as he thought about his life. He was still
fairly young, and new to the game; his mutant powers hadn't even
manifested until a few years ago.
"Ready to check backstage?"
Sledgehammer nodded as he walked down the aisle, sliding out two
wooden stakes. He threw one to Whiteout as he neared the stage, and
the mutant caught it in one hand. "Be careful," Sledgehammer said,
seriously. Whiteout knew what he meant; though he was often immature
on the street, once he was on a job, he knew it was time to be all
business. Otherwise, he would find himself dead.
"Hopefully my mutant light-mass will kill them," Whiteout said. He
wasn't sure what his energy-matter was, nor whether or not it had the
properties needed to kill a vampire.
They stepped backstage, carefully, and saw that no one was there, the
darkened area illuminated by blobs of hard light in Whiteout's free
hand. Sledgehammer didn't need it, his eyes being incredibly
sensitive to light, but Whiteout wasn't as fortunate.
"What's this," Sledgehammer murmured to himself, and stepped forward.
He crouched and, with his stake, turned up a trap door in the
ground. "Well, well... looks like we found ourselves Mellany's hiding
"I'd say so," Whiteout said and grinned. Seeing how nervous
Sledgehammer was, even if he wouldn't admit it, Whiteout
offered, "I'd best go down first, partner. Just in case my power does
finish this off in record time."
Sledgehammer nodded his agreement, and Whiteout took steps down the
winding staircase to the underground.
Sledgehammer felt his grip on his sledgehammer slip, so sweaty had
his palms become. He held it in one hand, the stake in the other. He
drifted back to the last time he'd encountered vampires, so long ago
in that Atlanta nursing home, with Blade. There would be no last-
minute rescues from Blade today; so far as he knew, Blade had died in
Whiteout screamed, and Sledgehammer instinctively followed him down
the winding spiral staircase. "What is it? What's wrong? Did'ja find
Sledgehammer stopped several steps from the floor, as he looked upon
a dimly illuminated scene. A large, mongrel breed of dog had torn
Mellane apart, black ichor streaming from the Undead's ragged
remains, with a human doctor hiding in the corner, browned blood
stains painting his shirt.
The werewolf's eyes looked up at Whiteout and Sledgehammer and a
growl came, warning them away from his meal.
[To be concluded...]
NEXT TIME: "Monsters on the Prowl"!
- The Champions #50
One month ago.
Thunder Head stood, scratching as patches of his thick red beard fell
loose, his skin pale and cold, as Captain Victory sat, restrained by
chains that kept him less than six feet away from the wall at any
time. The pair had been taken captive and were in a prison cell in the
catacombs beneath Macabra, while the rest of their teammates waged war
on the infected hordes of the major metropolitan city above.
"Hunh," Captain Victory said, as he bolted upright, pink light
suddenly blinding his mind. Since his resurrection, the same mystical
energies that had revitalized his dead body also served to make him
immune to the nanovirus infecting the populace above as well as
gifting him with a superhuman power he never had while fighting the
Nazis in World War II, precognitive flashes of insight.
"What is it, did you see something?" Thunder Head said, weakly, as he
shambled across their shared cell to meet his teammate. He had been
infected; though he was fighting it as best he could, they both knew
that it was merely a matter of time before he would be gone. "One of
"Victory," the captain proclaimed, with a serene smile on his face. He
crossed his arms as best he could given his chains. "Neither of us
will live to see it, but it happens. Ultron will be defeated. There
will be further losses, but human life will continue."
"I guess that's all that really matters," Thunder Head said as he
struggled onto his robotic knees, "in the grand scheme of things."
"Let it go," Captain Victory said, eyes closed, as Thunder Head fell
backwards, his eyes rolling up, mouth opened, life dissipating.
There was quiet in the room for several moments. Finally, Thunder
Head's body began to jerk, briefly at first, and rising in frequency
and violence. "I know you can hear me, monster," Captain Victory said
to the robotic being who was their jailer. "Know this: you will not
win. It has already happened, in the future.
"The book has already been written," Captain Victory said. "Victory is
Thunder Head shambled over to his former teammate and, with the
strength granted him by his mechanical limbs, tore the undead Champion
limb from limb, killing him once and for all.
Invisible magical energy silently hissed, released from the mortal
body, and returned to some otherdimensional fount, never to be seen or
heard from again, retaining some vestigial traces of the mind and
memories of the Champion.
[Present. The catacombs.]
Ultron watched on the massive view-screen as Giant Man and the Black
Knight strode above ground, tackling the horde of infected who guarded
the city over which stood the catacombs which he had taken on as his
base in Morvania.
"Your team has allowed other 'heroes' to pass through the field
barrier," Ultron said to his captive, the man in the Iron Man armor.
"I have not been able to discover any way of piercing the barrier, as
yet, but this gives me hope that I shall soon do so."
Iron Man kept silent, still groaning internally over his wounds
sustained by the adamantium monstrosity, who took him prisoner an
unknown infinity ago. His life was now measured by beatings rather
than by minutes.
"If they are advancing on my stronghold," Ultron said, "then it is
only fitting that we finally end this game. A pity I had not brought
in more before you sealed this nation off from the rest of the world."
Two other Ultrons walked into the room, exacerbating the living
nightmare Iron Man was already experiencing. He would have screamed if
he still had the voice for it. "Weaker, secondary vassals; constructed
of secondary adamantium, but that should prove more than adequate for
the threats they will face.
"Giant Man, Bill Foster; former flunky of my father. Black Knight,
Dane Whitman; a modern-day Don Quixote. No, I shall only require one
of my seconds to deal with them. The other shall take the battle to
your comrades in the sky. I will obliterate the Golden Castle, and
with it, whatever force is sealing my virus in."
The two Ultrons departed in different directions, to head above
towards their distinct tasks. Ultron walked up to Iron Man and grabbed
the sides of his head. Finally, he thought, the monster was going to
put him out of his misery.
Ultron wrenched the faceplate off and stared at the man inside. His
computer-mind scanned the features, searching international databases
which he had uploaded before the communications freeze-up which
resulted from the powerful barrier, and found no one on file matching
"A complete unknown," Ultron said. "Anomaly."
Gas spat out from Ultron's jack o'lantern face, and Neal Richmond
coughed. He had run into Tony Stark many months ago and was offered a
job helping him run the Champions by leading them in the guise of his
famous bodyguard, Iron Man. Tired of working alone in the guise of his
deceased benefactor, Nighthawk, the man from an alternate Earth agreed
and took the weeks necessary to learn how to use the armor before
And now, he knew that he was going to die. Even if somehow the
Champions could stop Ultron and free him, it was too late. He had
breathed in the gas; he was infected with the nanovirus, which his
armor had protected him from via air filters in his suit.
Ultron turned his back and walked over to the computer console, though
Neal knew he was in constant communication with the machine and
instantly knew all data it gathered.
All he needed was a few moments of freedom and he could show Ultron
his feelings on the subject. Alas, that was time he didn't have.
Reed Richards moved furiously throughout the lab, his arms telescoping
and winding about, nearly knotting himself up, as he worked to move
beakers and study slides. He was sweating, but extended his eyelashes
to wipe the sweat from his brow as he worked. He was the only one on
this side of the barrier who could create a solution to the nanovirus
which had stricken the nation of Morvania.
Suddenly, the giant, flying castle shook with impact from the side.
"What was that?" Jim Hammond asked as Mr. Fantastic went to work
keeping everything from sliding off the table and breaking.
'Attack,' was the only word Psykos could mentally project into their
minds, as he was so supremely intent on maintaining the massive
force-shield that kept Ultron and the infected trapped within the country.
"We'll deal with it," Captain Wonder said, "you just keep working on
The captain, Sersi, Wildman, and the high-flying Angel stormed out to
face their foe, while Mr. Fantastic and Jim Hammond continued to work
on a cure. It had been agreed upon that it would be best to play it
safe and keep the Torch out of battle, since he was an android and
might be susceptible to Ultron's dark designs.
When the quartet reached the garden square, they found Ultron, energy
snaking about his clenched fists, as he scanned the towers, searching
for the structural weak point to attack to bring the entire complex
down on the city below.
Angel took to the sky, pulling out his mace from his jacket, while
hammering Ultron with metallic feather-wings, which dinged and sparked
as they struck his secondary adamantium shell but did not perceivable
"Blast him, Alex," Captain Wonder shouted, and Wildman complied,
firing off an optic blast that had no effect on the robot but to
distract him while Sersi circled around behind him and blasted him
with cosmic energy.
"Don't let him get too close," the captain warned, not wanting anyone
else harmed, "everyone, keep your distance!"
Ultron shot out an encephalo-beam, which Captain Wonder easily dodged.
Ultron blasted Wildman and Sersi with energies from his fists,
knocking them both back.
"Weak flesh-puppets," Ultron said, "I am the future. I am cold, I am
hard, I am unstoppable. I am Ultron."
"Yeah, well," Wildman said as he plowed into his foe, "now, so am I."
Wildman's skin grew hard and stiff and crimson energy glowed in his
eyes and mouth, as he duplicated the mad robot's power for his own.
Black Knight ripped through the infected legions with his photonic
sword. It was a good thing he hadn't brought the Ebony Blade instead,
as he was sure that some of the unliving cyborgs he hacked through
still had blood to ooze out. His helmet reassured him that they were
dead; they lacked any vital signs and were cold.
"Don't worry about killing them," Black Knight said, "They're already
Giant Man had already heard him say this three times, but he would
never be entirely comfortable with decimating human bodies and
stomping them into paste. He waded through the crowd, twelve feet
tall, costume armored to protect him from the sharper elbows of the
"I knew this was a bad idea," Giant Man said as he threw twelve of
them away, as twenty more instantly filled in the empty space before
him, "I wish I still had gamma-rage to amp up my strength!"
"We'll just have to make due," Black Knight said, "somehow." He had
fought in the crusades, and so this horde was no worse than other
battles he'd already met and fought nobly in, but never had the foes
been so resistant to pain; while the photonic sword cut through metal
as easily as bone, a one-armed cyborg would keep going, having felt no
"Avengers," a cold, electronic voice said as hard steps sounded and
the infected parted to let Ultron through, "today is doomsday."
"Maybe for you, buddy," Giant Man said. "I'm getting tired of this;
wasn't that long ago we Wackos stopped you before!" (1)
"The initial testing," Ultron said as he shot blasts of energy from
his fists, the two Avengers almost unable to dodge it with the crowd
around them, as the cyborgs got torn apart instead of them. They could
feel the heat of the blasts. "This nation proves my virus to be a
success. As soon as I can destroy this pitiable barrier, it will
spread over all the world."
"We won't let that happen!"
Ultron recognized the voice from earlier battles, but Black Knight and
Giant Man had to look beyond their enemy to see Superpro, his
football-themed armor in tattered rags, a blood-stained axe in hand,
as he came out from hiding within the city, rage painted profusely on
Thunder Head, the man's life now well ended, nothing more than an
empty shell controlled by Ultron's nanovirus, stumbled towards his
former teammate. Superpro immediately, unthinkingly, went to work,
hacking at the large corpse, tearing at its vulnerable neck.
With a squirt of black liquid, the head came free and the body
shivered as it reached out to grab him. "Don't let up," Superpro
yelled to the Avengers, "Keep fighting until we're dead!"
Wildman and Ultron tussled, Ultron's wild hatred for all things human
giving him the advantage, his attack far more ferocious, and he flung
the Champion away. "I will crush your bones into a fine powder,"
"Not this time," Wildman said as Ultron advanced. Captain Wonder
hammered against his back, a minor annoyance Ultron tried to swat away
with a quick backhand. The old hero dodged it easily enough, and Angel
swooped down to smash at the robot with his mace, inspired by the
adamantine mace of Hercules.
Ultron took a step back to analyze their attack procedure, walking
directly into Sersi's path, as she pushed her power to the limits and
grabbed onto the robot, transmuting his secondary adamantium,
degrading its alloy further and further until it was more tertiary
than secondary adamantium, and began to crack and whine.
"It's going to explode," Angel warned, "Everyone, get back!"
"No, that won't be necessary," Sersi said, as she absorbed the energy
quickly leaking out of the cracked open shell, redistributing it into
the air as a bright light. "Just keep your eyes closed for another few
Inside the laboratory, meanwhile, Reed smoked his pipe while looking
down at the potential cure. "I think this will do it, but there's no
way to test it first. If it doesn't work, it couldn't make the
situation any worse than it already is. Now, the question is how to
disperse it; air-borne would work, although I don't know if we have
any way of--"
"I have an idea," Jim Hammond said. He took the new creation, a
syringe full of nanites which countered the nanovirus, neutralizing it
and reversing its damage to tissue; assuming, of course, that he
hadn't made any mistakes in the formulae.
Jim injected the syringe into his own neck. "We do not have time to
discuss this matter. I am sorry. Remember me, Reed. Please give my
regards to the rest of your family."
"You can't possibly be--"
"Flame on," the Torch ignited himself and rose several inches off the
ground, then flew through the door, melting the doorway, trapping Mr.
Ultron watched as the Black Knight, Giant Man, and Superpro struggled
with his other body and the infected hordes. The other Ultron might
have been less successful, having been destroyed by the other
Champions in their flying castle, but he would make sure to be wary of
Sersi when he encountered her himself.
Neal, meanwhile, began to shiver and shake as he felt an ungodly cold
approach him. He knew that his time was fast approaching; it wouldn't
be long before he would drop, and return as some... thing.
"The hell... with it..." Neal croaked, his voice barely audible to
Ultron's enhanced auditory sensors. He pressed thumb to forefinger and
depressed an emergency button which Tony had warned him never to use.
An electromagnetic pulse rang out, powerful enough to send Ultron
crashing to the floor. The shackles, which were controlled
electromagnetically by the computer, opened up and Neal crashed to the
floor. He was in no shape to stop Ultron.
He crawled across the floor, fear and anger and pain and cold shooting
through his every fiber, and lifted his hand up to the computer
console, plugging his armor's pre-planned virus into the system. A few
moments more, and...
Ultron grabbed Neal by the back of the neck and threw him across the
room, to slam into the wall. His back would have been broken if not
for the protection of the Iron Man armor. "You will pay for that,
wretched human! Your attempt did nothing to harm me, but I will
prolong your suffering!"
"Guess again," Neal whispered, slamming fist into fist, hitting
another secret set of controls in his armor that, when struck in the
correct sequence, activated the self-destruct program.
Black Knight hacked at the legions of unliving cyborgs, while Giant
Man futilely hammered Ultron into the ground, not so much as denting
it, and Superpro continued to hack apart the flesh parts of the
cyborgs with his ordinary axe.
"Why is it getting so hot," Black Knight said to himself, his helmet
read-out informing him that it wasn't just the heat of battle, the
area was getting significantly warmer.
"Oh boy," Giant Man said, looking up into the sky and smiling, "Looks
like the cavalry has arrived!"
Ultron looked up, vision magnifying it so that the figure looked as
though he were right next to him. The Torch flew overhead, burning
brighter and ever-larger flames, spinning and soaring wildly, like a
"It appears that another Champion has been infected," Ultron said, and
back-handed Giant Man, sending him faltering into the crowd who began
to elbow him.
"Look upon my works, ye mighty," Ultron said, arms outstretched as he
watched the android in the sky high above, burning hotter and hotter,
The Torch reached further, burning more than he ever had before, his
internal registers warning him to slow down, to stop, before he would
burn out. He pushed even harder, straining to keep it going, until he
pushed beyond all unconscious safeguards and it was over.
The sky exploded, fire licking at the roof of the energy barrier,
nearly detonating the entire country into a massive fireball.
Antivirus nanites rained down, carried by wind and dropping through
gravity, while the Torch's seemingly magical healing blood quickly
cooled and spattered over the cities and the countryside, the debris
of his body mostly burning up, tiny pieces scattering and landing in
the Dren Forest and the rubble and debris of the cities.
"It's over," Ultron said, "Your friends are as doomed as you are."
The infected started suddenly dropping dead, and the heroes stopped
fighting them. A few scattered cyborgs remained standing, color
gradually returning to their skin, wounds mystically healing,
sentience miraculously returning to their minds.
"Looks like your minions have changed sides," Superpro laughed as the
army of cyborgs crowded in on the secondary Ultron.
The heroes turned to see huge clouds rising from the cellars of the
half-ruined buildings, as the catacombs were destroyed by the massive
"My god," Superpro said, "Iron Man was still down there..."
The red energy barrier flickered repeatedly before going out, as the
assembled heroes in the Golden Castle watched while Sersi opened up
the power chamber. Nothing lie inside save for crackling cosmic energy.
"He's here," Sersi said, "The stress, the constant pressure of
maintaining such a powerful field... it destroyed his body. This is
all that remains of him now, the energy that powers his castle."
"What are we going to tell everyone?" Angel asked to anyone.
"The truth," Mr. Fantastic said, absently. "Perhaps knowledge of what
happened here will keep anyone else from exploring these same avenues."
"Or it could encourage people to investigate, try to replicate the
virus," Giant Man said.
"All anyone needs to know is this," Black Knight said. "Ultron took
over Morvania, you sealed it off. Now the citizens who are still alive
are cyborgs, freed of his mind control. Several Champions died to save
them. The citizens tore one Ultron apart to be free of him, the
mastermind Ultron has disappeared after his headquarters was destroyed."
"What about Iron Man?" Wildman asked. "There was no body, but you say
Tony Stark is out to the public as Shellhead now. Who was this other guy?"
"We may never know," Black Knight said. "He couldn't have been Tony
Stark. We'll have to have a talk with him when we get back to the
States. Maybe it was someone on his payroll, maybe it was an imposter
who stole the suit. I don't know."
"Nobody needs to know," Giant Man said. "Say Ultron killed them. Leave
out the virus."
"The Torch?" Captain Wonder asked. "No one will know of his sacrifice--"
"Yes, they will," Black Knight countered. "They'll know that he died
to save the world from Ultron. That's all they need to know."
Mr. Fantastic looked off into the horizon, his upper body stretching
down the hall to the open window. "You're right, of course. The virus
was eradicated. Best to leave it forgotten for all time."
"And what if Ultron returns," Angel asked. "No body..."
"Then we'll be ready for him," Sersi said. "After all, it isn't just a
rag-tag band of super-heroes who will face him next time.
"We have an entire nation of Champions to stop him."
1. See West Coast Avengers Annual #3.