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The Defenders #66

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  • altmarvel-release-owner@yahoogroups.com
    Greenwich Village. Professor Charles Xavier emerged from the yellow taxi-cab and paid the driver from a small wad of bills. He was dressed in a brown suit.
    Message 1 of 32 , Apr 11, 2010
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      Greenwich Village.

      Professor Charles Xavier emerged from the yellow taxi-cab and paid the driver from a small wad of bills. He was dressed in a brown suit. He had decided against wearing anything flashy so as to avoid drawing any unnecessary attention to himself. As it was, no one on the street gave the bald-headed mutant a second glance.

      He turned away from the taxi as it began to reenter into traffic. His eyebrow raised itself as he looked upon the building which he had intended to be dropped off at; the driver had suddenly stopped talking to him after he had told the address, and Xavier could feel the disquiet of the man's soul as he thought about the renowned place of mysticism.

      The building was Doctor Strange's Sanctum Sanctorum, and it was now replaced by another building entirely, a shrine to fallen Marvels. Xavier's mind could pass freely into and out of the minds housed within, no shields present.

      The ones he sought were not in. Xavier began to walk towards the front door, which was open on this sunny afternoon. He stepped inside and was greeted by a hall filled with strangers in casual civilian attire. There was a guest registry and he saw several small statues of the Fantastic Four and various Avengers.

      He pinpointed one recognizable mind and walked down the hallway towards the man he sought. He passed two pastors of the Church of Marvels, discussing theology. He opened the door to the back yard of the place and found a tidy little garden. Here was Wong, tending to the plants.

      "Wong," Xavier said, walking up to him, pleased to finally find someone able to get him in touch with the Defenders. "I had heard that this shrine had opened here, but I assumed it was a sort of `public face' for your master."

      "Professor X!" Wong smiled, recognizing the world-famous author and professor. "It is indeed a pleasure to meet such a man!"

      "Wong," Professor X asked, "Don't you know me?" He did not want to pry into the mind of an ally, but if he was under some form of mind control…

      "Of course," Wong said, "Everyone has heard of the founder of the X-Men, the world's most gifted telepath."

      "Is the doctor in, Wong?"

      "I beg your pardon, Professor?"

      "Dr. Strange?"

      "I'm sorry," Wong said, looking up at him quizzically, "but I have no idea what you're talking about."


      The mysterious DOCTOR STRANGE! The savage WHITE TIGER! The alien RINTRAH! The high-flying VALKYRIE! Evil-doers tremble at the names--for these four form the crux of the greatest NON-TEAM in history, heroes called together only when the need arises--to battle MENACES that threaten the security--or the very LIFE--of the planet Earth!
      Dan Gordon Presents: The Dynamic Defenders!

      The Defenders #66
      "The Plain View, Part One"
      Guest-Starring Professor X!
      April 2010
      ************************
      Writer: John Flint
      Webmaster: Liam Gibbs
      ************************


      The next day.

      Professor Xavier sat in his old familiar wheelchair, synapses crackling with electrical energy as Cerebro augmented his natural mental abilities. While he no longer required the chair, he found that it was something of a comfort when using Cerebro; he was used to its dull familiarity and allowed him to concentrate on his mental energies entirely.

      `Ja, Professor, Warren's contractors have rebuilt Sanctuary from the ground up,' Kurt Wagner, appearing holographically before Xavier through the power of the machinery, reported. No longer an X-Man, he had built the Sanctuary in Genosha as a safe refuge for mutants the world over, no questions asked. He wore plain brown robes to show his new role as protector and guardian rather than flashy swashbuckler. `We have had no further break-ins since the Red Ghost.'

      `I'm very glad to hear that, Kurt,' Xavier responded.

      `And as for the X-Men?' Kurt asked. `Have you found Wanda yet?'

      `I'm afraid not,' Xavier admitted. `I've been scanning the planet every day. Ororo and Clarice have returned, so I'm confident that she will reappear shortly as well.'

      `I hope you are right,' Kurt said. `Well, it is always good to hear from you, but I am afraid I have duties to attend to…'

      `Of course,' Xavier said, `goodbye, Kurt.'

      The connection closed, and Xavier was about to search the mutant minds across the globe once more for any sign of the Scarlet Witch, who had gone missing in the final fateful battle with Apocalypse.

      Before he could commence the search, a green-furred minotaur presented his astral form to Xavier, arms crossed, blue cape billowing, amulet of Agamotto on his neck. `I hope I did not disturb you, Professor X.'

      "Rintrah!" Xavier said aloud. "Your manservant almost had me worried yesterday. I thought he might have been mindwiped, but when I took a look I saw enough of a glimpse of the truth to know to stay away."

      `Yes, I apologize for the subterfuge,' Rintrah said, `but there are other telepaths in the world, who might be watching and slip inside Wong's mind while you have it opened up. The world must not know that the Defenders are still together as yet. As far as everyone is concerned, there are no Defenders, there is no Sanctum, there is no sorcery.'

      "The X-Men have tried keeping to the shadows in the past, Rintrah," Xavier said, "It doesn't work out very well in the long run."

      `This is a temporary solution at best,' Rintrah agreed. `but I digress. You came to our former Sanctum in need of mystical aid, I expect?'

      "Indeed," Xavier agreed.

      `Then you shall have it. What is the problem?'

      [The Astral Plane, a short time later.]

      Professor X hovered in the air beside the astral projections of Rintrah, Valkyrie, and the White Tiger. Together they witnessed the activation of Richard Starkey's mutant solar power, obliterating his hometown of Plainview, North Dakota.

      `The Adversary activated Richard Starkey's destructive power for pure annihilation,' Professor X said. `In the end, he, Apocalypse, and the Scarlet Witch all disappeared in a swirl of mystical energies beyond my understanding.'

      `I am sorry we could not have been of assistance to you at the time,' Rintrah said, `we were struggling against Dormammu's emergence in spacetime.'

      `The X-Men did what they could,' Xavier said, `that isn't why I asked for your help, although any assistance you could provide in finding the Scarlet Witch would be greatly appreciated.'

      `We shall see what we can do,' Rintrah agreed, `but there is something you feel is more pressing at the moment.'

      `Yes, I'm afraid so,' Xavier said, `since the destruction of Plainview, whenever I've used Cerebro I've been unable to avoid picking up the ghost-screams of the minds of people killed there. Not just any people, but… children.'

      Valkyrie and White Tiger stared sympathetically, unable to say anything which could ease Xavier's torment.

      `They cry out to me for justice,' Xavier said.

      `There was no way you could have prevented this tragedy,' Valkyrie said.

      `Is there any sort of exorcism you could do?' White Tiger asked Rintrah. `To put their souls at peace?'

      `I am not sure, but I will try,' Rintrah said. `Meet us in Plainview tomorrow, Professor Charles Xavier. We will examine the problem in depth at its source.'

      [The Atlantic Ocean.]

      Stephen Strange ignored the cries of "Man overboard!" as he swam through the seas, thankful that Gaea had seen fit to restore him to proper health. For some time he had been ill, fatigued by overwork and the scars of a gunshot wound to the heart.

      He swam for over a mile through the choppy waters. Now that he had communed with Gaea once more, reconnecting with the planet itself as a source of power and life, he felt a desire to investigate certain curiosities on her face.

      Several miles of difficult swimming later, he found the island. His Defenders had battled the X-Men there once, and he knew of it from legends as Rune Island. No animal life existed on the isle, as a result of ancient druidic sacrifices that set it apart from other land-masses. No insects or birds stayed there. Plants grew in abundance.

      There was something else; now that he was attuned to Gaea as he was, he knew that it was somehow wrong. Rune Island was not a part of Gaea's continuity and life-force. Whatever it was and wherever it originally was from, it was not a natural cohesive part of planet Earth.

      Arriving on the beach, Stephen Strange stripped off his soaking clothing and strode across the sand, confident in his ability to make the island accept his animal presence. He would subject himself to it and it would ultimately subject itself to him. He would show it respect, it would respect him.

      Stephen felt the tired aching in his muscles, exhausted as he was after such a strenuous exertion, the first of such in many months. He dropped onto the sand and enjoyed the warm sunshine on his body. It was for the best that he could not simply teleport onto the island; alas, there were ancient mystical wards still in effect that made teleportation impossible on the island. If he were to get there, he had to do so by some other method, and thus he had opted to swim to shore to prove that he deserved to be there.

      He hoped that the spirit of the island, whatever it proved to be, would agree.

      [Plainview, North Dakota.]

      Valkyrie, White Tiger, Rintrah, and Professor X stood in a circle in the midst of the ash-pile that was once Richard Starkey's home, the epicenter of the blast that destroyed most of the city. The four stood facing one another in a square, a single candle burning equidistant between them.

      Everyone kept their eyes closed; though Xavier lacked the mystical training of Rintrah or natural magical affinity of the White Tiger or Valkyrie, his was still the most impressive mutant mind on Earth. And it had been to him that the dead souls had called out.

      After fifteen minutes of quiet concentration on the quartet's part, the dead souls contacted him once again.

      `Almost made it,' a child said, `close, but you're still a block off!'

      "What?"

      "We are not where the children died," Rintrah explained, then turned to the ghost, "but we are where the chain reaction started."

      `Nuh-uh,' the ghost responded. Several more ghost children began to appear all around them. `We weren't killed by the stupid blast! We were murdered by the Cookie Monster!'


      [To be concluded…]

      To read more about the adventures of Professor Xavier and the X-Men, check out UNCANNY X-MEN and Kenneth Beck's ASTONISHING X-MEN!
    • altmarvel-release-owner@yahoogroups.com
      San Francisco, California. Bobby Drake drove his rented SUV across the Golden Gate Bridge, admiring the waters below. Not such a long time ago, he could have
      Message 32 of 32 , May 1, 2010
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        San Francisco, California.

        Bobby Drake drove his rented SUV across the Golden Gate Bridge, admiring the waters below. Not such a long time ago, he could have frozen those waters by sheer force of will, his mutant condensation power allowing him to ice over anything he pleased.

        Thanks to the Leech virus, this was no longer the case. (1)

        Now, he was just plain, ordinary Robert Drake, spokesperson for human/mutant relations. He worked with the X-Men in cases of public relations and meetings with diplomats. He was no longer involved in any combat scenarios.

        This suited him just fine, for the moment; he knew he would have to settle down some day, he just hadn't anticipated that day coming so soon. He had been distraught, depressed, at first, upon losing his powers. Now, he was gradually beginning to accept it as a fact of life, and come to terms with being an ordinary human being with no x-factor gene separating him from ninety-nine percent of the population of the planet.

        "Just a normal guy on vacation," Bobby chuckled to himself, wondering what he was going to do tonight. Too bad Hank couldn't get off monitor duty with the Avengers, or they could paint the town—

        Bobby had to swerve out of the way of the car before him as he slammed on the brakes. Whatever was going on had stopped all traffic. Bobby got out of the vehicle and hopped onto the hood to get a better view.

        In the middle of the bridge, a giant scorpion, the length of a semi trailer, was snapping its pincers and wagging its tail at the parked cars.


        The mysterious DOCTOR STRANGE! The savage WHITE TIGER! The alien RINTRAH! The high-flying VALKYRIE! Evil-doers tremble at the names--for these four form the crux of the greatest NON-TEAM in history, heroes called together only when the need arises--to battle MENACES that threaten the security--or the very LIFE--of the planet Earth!
        Dan Gordon Presents: The Dynamic Defenders!

        The Defenders #73
        "Scorpion Crisis"
        Guest-starring Iceman!
        April 2010
        ************************
        Writer: John Flint
        Webmaster: Liam Gibbs
        ************************


        Bobby got back in the rented SUV and rummaged through his bags in the back until he found the one he was looking for. It had the gift from Forge that he had asked for. He hadn't planned on making use of it so soon, but when duty called…

        In under two minutes, Bobby had slipped out of the normal clothing he had been wearing and had slipped on the cold blue costume that had been in the bag. He slipped the mask over his face to protect his identity as he stepped back onto the bridge, resembling Blizzard more than Iceman of the X-Men.

        He iced up a bridge over the cars between him and the giant scorpion, and once he had crossed it he saw that another hero was already on the scene. At first he didn't recognize him as he was also wearing new duds.

        "Doctor Strange!" Iceman said as he came to a landing on the pavement, happy to be off the ice-slide which wasn't so natural to him as it had been when his own body made it and his feet were made of ice.

        Doctor Strange turned to look at him, eyes scrutinizing the unfamiliar costume. Strange was dressed in a sharp blue suit, black tie, and quickly yanked a silver pocket watch from his pocket, opening it up and shining its blinding light at the Iceman.

        "Yikes," Iceman said, shielding his eyes with his arms, "I'm a friend! A friend!"

        "I apologize, Iceman," Dr. Strange said, "I wasn't sure just who you were at first. I've been out of the loop of late and I don't know who is wearing what anymore."

        "Right, it's cool," Iceman said, "So what've we got here?"

        "What we have here," Dr. Strange said, "is a giant scorpion. Frankly, I'm surprised you had to ask."

        "Where did it come from?" Iceman asked, watching as the scorpion snapped and whipped about but did nothing to actually strike anyone.

        "That's what I would like to find out," Strange said, "he means no harm, of course, but given his size, could do considerable damage if let loose in a populated area. Worse, he isn't alone; where there's one…"

        Iceman watched as Valkyrie loaded up civilians on the back of her winged steed, Aragorn, flying them over the hastily parked vehicles to get them clear of the bridge. Rintrah wrapped several people up in his levitating cloak, carrying several more as the cloak carried them over the scene to safety.

        "I thought the Defenders disbanded awhile ago," Iceman said.

        "When the need arises," Dr. Strange said, "now, if you could be so kind as to freeze up our friend here, he won't present any problem as we take him home."

        "What? You want me to freeze him up?"

        "It won't hurt him but it will keep him from lashing out at us," Strange said.

        Iceman obeyed, firing his palm freezer-rays at the giant scorpion and slowly slathering it until it was iced over and had stopped moving. "Is it… is he okay?"

        "Yes, as long as we get him back quickly," Strange said.

        "Everyone is safely away," Valkyrie reported as she returned on Aragorn.

        "Excellent," Strange said, "I'm going to need you and Rintrah to carry the scorpion back to its island."

        "Lead the way, Stephen," Valkyrie said.

        [Shortly.]

        A tiny island poked up its head from the waves, and Dr. Strange hovered above it while Rintrah and Valkyrie, still astride Aragorn, lowered the iced scorpion down onto the island. Iceman followed on an ice-slide, which he repeatedly nearly fell off of.

        "Here we are," Strange said, "Scorpion Island."

        "Never heard of this place before," Iceman said.

        "That's because it was never here before," Dr. Strange said, as he used the flames of the Faltine to melt away the artificial ice and the giant scorpion stirred back to life.

        The scorpion fled towards a cave, and the Defenders and Iceman watched as several more scorpions, just as large, poked their heads out of the large cavern beneath the island.

        "The island rose above the surface recently due to seismic shifts," Strange explained, "the cave system under Scorpion Island protects them from drowning, but when they found they could leave the caves, well, naturally, this one wanted to explore a bit."

        "How did you know all this?" Iceman asked.

        "The Eye knows all," Strange said with a smile, slipping out his pocket watch again.

        "Okay, so now what?" Iceman asked. "Like you said, they aren't evil, but we can't just leave them here, so close to San Fran."

        "Whatever we are going to do," Rintrah said, "we had better do it quickly."

        The Defenders looked towards the water. "I can feel it," Valkyrie said, able to detect the movements in the waves. "Submarine?"

        "Yes," Strange said. "They're going to attack Scorpion Island."

        [Inside the sub.]

        The Blue Sabres went to work at their stations, prepared to launch missiles that would return the small island to beneath the ocean waves where it, in their opinion, belonged.

        `Wait,' a psychic voice commanded, and everyone halted immediately through the sheer force of the voice's will.

        The commander stared into the astral image of Doctor Strange, appearing before him as though it were a hologram. "Out of the way, mutant; we're here to protect humanity from those bug-eyed monsters!"

        `They're not monsters, they're living beings the same as you or I,' Strange replied, ignoring the mistake of labeling him a mutant. `They mean no harm; give us an hour to relocate them. We'll move them to an island further out to sea, too far for them to swim to shore, and you'll never have to worry about them again.'

        "Uh-huh," the commander grunted, "until the Mole Man or Doc Doom gets a hold of them an' sends them to crush the United States!"

        `I won't let that happen, I promise you. Please, an hour?'

        "Fine, have an hour," the commander agreed, "then we're demolishing your precious scorpions!"

        [A half-hour later.]

        Iceman, riding Aragorn, flew through the rip in the fabric of spacetime which Valkyrie tore via Dragonfang, thus moving swiftly from one ocean to another, plastering the sea beneath him with a steady ice-bridge which the giant scorpions crossed, with Rintrah riding the scorpion in the lead, having established a mental rapport with her.

        A mile ahead, Valkyrie and Doctor Strange waved to them from the beach. Though still carrying the dimension-splitting Dragonfang, Val now wore a pale yellow bikini, Strange in red swimming trunks. The Eye of Agamotto was in a pocket of his suit of levitation, wrapped over a branch of a nearby tree.

        The giant scorpions crossed the ice-bridge to Akhnet, and Rintrah patted their queen's head in silent praise.

        Iceman set down on the sand and hopped off the winged horse's back, sliding off his mask to enjoy the salty breeze. "Nice place you've got," he said, admiring the Rune Island.

        "And thanks to Stephen, animals can live here once more," Val said as the scorpions began to explore their new habitat, crawling into the massive forests full of lush habitation.

        "What are they gonna eat?" Iceman asked, scratching his head.

        "Akhnet will provide for them," Rintrah said.

        "Works for me," Iceman shrugged and laughed.

        "While we're all here, I thought we might enjoy ourselves for the afternoon," Stephen said and motioned with two fingers towards something in the forest. A volleyball rolled out onto the beach.

        "I'll do the honors," Iceman said, using his gloves to create an ice-net. "Should last long enough for one game, and I can make another when it starts to melt."

        "Alright, then," Stephen said, "Val, you're with me."

        Rintrah stepped onto Iceman's side of the net, and the game commenced.

        [The end.]


        FOOTNOTES:
        1. See Uncanny X-Men #421.
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