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The West Coast Avengers Vol. 3 #23 (September, 2003)

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  • Unimatrix One
    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
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 1, 2003
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      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!
      Tigra--Feline Huntress! U.S.Agent--Soldier
      Extraordinaire! Dr. Cecelia Reyes--Forcefield
      Projector! Giant Man--Growing Goliath! She-Hulk--
      Gamma-Spawned Beauty! Hercules--Prince of Power!





      The West Coast Avengers vol. 3#23
      September, 2003
      Dark Tide Part One
      "Children of the Sea"
      By Daniel D. Gordon




      Bonita Juarez was a confused woman. She had been
      praying for hours and was no closer to the answers she
      sought than she was when she began. She wanted God to
      reveal the true nature of her powers to her. Every
      time she thought about the fateful night she was
      struck by a falling fireball from the sky, she
      believed that He blessed her with special powers so
      she could better serve Him. Later, she learned her
      fire-inducing powers were a by-product of a discarded
      alien experiment. (1) That did not explain the new
      powers she manifested recently.

      During the Devil's Night fiasco, she believed she drew
      power from God Himself to battle the demon D'spayre.
      (2) Her powers have always been "sensitive" when the
      presence of evil was near, but never had she felt
      closer to God than on that night. Was it because the
      world was under a demonic invasion and God used her to
      be his hand of judgment? Ever since she had tried to
      tap into the angelic energy she wielded, but nothing
      happened. Would she need to be in mortal danger in
      order to use it again?

      She tried not to repeat the same questions during her
      meditation, but it troubled her that she did not have
      full mastery of the gifts God gave her. She knew
      divine intervention played a role in her receiving her
      powers. There had to be a reason why she was running
      across the desert that night and was chosen to become
      Firebird and not someone who would have used the
      powers from Heaven in ways immoral and unimaginable.

      Bonita's thoughts were rudely interrupted by the
      blaring sirens of the West Coast Avengers mountain
      base. The pattern of the alarm suggested that
      something or someone was approaching the base at a
      high rate of speed. She headed for the conference
      room to learn what was going on. Whatever was coming
      wasn't evil. If it was she would have sensed it. At
      least she prayed that she would have.

      The uncertainity caused her to remember the last time
      she thought she felt the presence of something
      sinister. It was only for a brief moment. She had a
      feeling that something or someone besides the West
      Coast Avengers was living in the base. Whatever she
      had sensed wasn't entirely evil, but it wasn't
      entirely good either. She wished she had time to
      determine who or what it was, but she hadn't sensed
      any trace of it for a few days. (3)

      The doors of the conference room opened when she
      reached them. Inside were the West Coast Avengers
      along with Doc Samson, the leader of the West Coast
      reservists. Firebird took her seat and noticed
      someone was missing.

      "Where's Photon?"

      "She'll be here in a second," She-Hulk answered.

      On cue, the conference doors slid open and Photon
      entered the room. Accompanying her was the reason the
      proximity alarms were tripped. They detected Namor
      the Sub-Mariner, king of Atlantis, approaching in
      search of allies for his cause.

      "Avengers, we have a potential international crisis on
      our hands," Photon started. "And if we don't act now,
      the world may be on the brink of war."


      ***Somewhere in the North Pacific Ocean***


      For as long as they could remember, they had roamed
      the seas. Driven by a primal urge to find the one
      that gave them life, Cornelius and Coral searched for
      their mother. Their search had brought them nothing
      but misery. The death of their sister resulted from
      one of the attacks against them. (4) Everywhere they
      travelled, they were hunted by those who feared them.
      What had they done to deserve this? All they wanted
      was to find their mother. Was that so wrong?

      Their present journey brought them to Wake Island. At
      the bottom of the ocean floor under the small naval
      outpost nested one of the most amazing
      extraterrestrial finds in recent history. Ruins of a
      cacoon pod were scattered across the floor, signalling
      the rebirth of a hero long thought dead. (5)

      "Look, Coral!" the blue-skinned amphibious Cornelius
      shouted. "She was here!"

      Coral, whose bulky copper skin was covered with bony
      rocklike appendages, stared at the watery remains.
      "She is not here NOW! I grow tired of wandering this
      planet. We must find her."

      "I know, Coral," Cornelius sighed, looking for any
      clue to their mother's whereabouts. He examined the
      immediate vacinity of the cacoon, hoping to find
      anything that could led them to the one who gave them
      birth. Just when he was about to give up, a series of
      sparkles gave him new hope.

      "Coral, look!" Cornelius pointed to a barely-visible
      trail. "Does that look familiar to you?"

      Coral followed the pattern with his eyes. "It does.
      It seems to be the ion exhaust trail from a Plodex
      ship. How would I know that?"

      "It is obvious our mother's bio-rhythms are triggering
      knowledge previously hidden from us," Cornelius
      hypothesized. "We can not reach the next stage of our
      evolution without her."

      "Then we must find her quickly," Coral urged. "Let us
      leave this place at once."

      "You are not going anywhere!" a stern voice ordered
      from behind.

      Coral and Cornelius turned around and saw a squadron
      of United States Navy Seals pointing high tech
      weaponry at them.

      "You are trespassing on United States property and are
      hereby under arrest," the squad commander informed.
      "Surrender peacefully or we will open fire!"


      ***The West Coast Avengers Mountain Base***


      Namor paced the conference room. His anger roared
      inside him as if they were the pounding waves that
      brushed against the mountain base. He came to the
      Avengers for help, but all they did was talk about the
      ramifications of any action they would take. Hearing
      the debate caused Namor's blood to boil with
      unbridaled fury.

      "I came to you for assistance, Avengers. Not to sit
      and chatter. If need be, I will continue my quest
      alone."

      "Namor, please calm down," Photon said with the hope
      of relaxing him. "We didn't say we wouldn't help, but
      we have to be cafeful not to do anything that would
      strain the already unstable relationship between your
      kingdom and the rest of the world."

      "I will deal with that when the time comes," Namor
      barked.

      "I want to make your dealings as smooth as possible,"
      Photon reassured. "I know the clock is ticking."

      "Then what are we waiting for?" U.S.Agent asked. He
      was glad Namor arrived with a mission for the team.

      "Prep a Quinjet for departure, Agent," Photon ordered.
      "Doc Samson, I would like you to contact Secretary
      Powell and ask him to delay the naval fleet. If he
      gives you any problems, transfer the call to me on the
      Quinjet."

      "You got it," Doc Samson responded.

      "Leonard, I would also like you to contact the
      reservists. We may need some extra firepower if
      things get out of control. Alert the East Coast team
      of our whereabouts also."

      "On it," Doc Samson said, starting the tasks asked of
      him.

      Photon continued to give orders. "Tigra, I want you
      to use the sonar tracking system for any increased
      oceanic activity and relay the information to the
      Quinjet."

      "Yes, ma'am," Tigra sounded off, leaping to the radar
      consoles.

      Photon addressed the reservists present in the room.
      "Our ranks are a bit low and I would appreciate it if
      the three of you would join us on this mission."

      Giant-Man, who was glad Photon didn't kick him off the
      team, accepted her offer. "I will do anything I can
      to make up for my mistakes." (6)

      "Thanks, Bill," Photon smiled. Her smile faded when
      she saw a look of certainity on Dr. Cecelia Reyes's
      face. "Cece, I know you dislike going on missions
      with us, but I could use your medical expertise in
      case things go wrong."

      "Alright," the Puerto Rican mutant huffed. "I'm only
      tagging along as a doctor, not a superhero."

      "Agreed," Photon reinforced. "What about you,
      Bonita?"

      "Huh?" Firebird asked, her mind wondering in a daze.


      Photon wondered what was on her mind. "I know your
      powers are fire-based, but I would still like you go
      come along with us."

      "I would like to, but I have something I must do
      here," Firebird declined. "But I will be ready to
      join you if you call the other reservists to action."

      "Very well," Photon said.

      "Photon, I found something," Tigra yelled across the
      room. "There's a lot of activity at Wake Island."

      "That's not to far from here," She-Hulk added. "But I
      thought it was just a base used in case of emergency
      refueling for oversea flights."

      "You're right," Photon continued. "From what I
      remember from working with the Harbor Patrol, there's
      only about two hundred people stationed there and
      their primary job is maintenance."

      "There's something going on and they aren't replacing
      light bulbs," Tigra relayed. "According to a
      S.H.I.E.L.D. transmission, the naval fleet is headed
      there."

      "I have a feeling my children are there," Namor said
      with a parental instinct.

      "Then let us be off," Hercules boasted.

      "Let's go, Avengers," Photon headed to the door. "We
      can't allow anything to happen to them!"


      ***Somewhere Nearby***


      Attuma tightened his grip on his warstaff. He
      impatiently oversaw the installation of Altantean
      technology which would allow the sea-damaged machinery
      he recently acquired to function. Some time ago, he
      found an island which was raised to the surface by an
      insane surface dweller. A short time later it was
      returned to its home on the ocean floor. Rumors
      spread claiming the rise and fall of the island was
      due to the demon that was thought to have lived there.
      The Altanteans even named the island "Demonica" in
      reference to the evil believed to dwell there. (7) It
      was the perfect place for Attuma to plot when he did
      not want prying eyes watching his every move.

      "How soon will the laboratory be operational?" Attuma
      inquired.

      "A couple of hours, my lord," the chief technican
      answered, praying his answer did not cost him his
      life.

      "Good," Attuma answered. He heard footsteps in the
      distance and turned to see who entered the room.

      A blue skinned Atlantean wearing a red outfit with a
      large, yellow, anvil-like symbol walked toward Attuma.
      He had a large muscular frame which rivaled that of
      Attuma's. The main characteristic that stood out on
      the man was the burn scars on his scalp and the left
      side of his face. It was obvious he had been
      disfigured in some way. (8)

      "Deathcharge," Attuma called out. "What news do you
      have to report?"

      "Krang's diversion has worked as planned," he started.
      "Orka is in route and will be here shortly." (9)

      "Excellent," Attuma approved.

      "I also know something you might be interested in."

      "What?" Attuma growled. "I have no time for games."

      Deathcharge gave a wicked smile. "The surface
      dwellers are in pursuit of the heirs to the throne."

      "The half breeds have returned?" Attuma asked.

      "Yes," Deathcharge confirmed. "And their father is
      bringing those Avengers into the mix as well."

      "We cannot have them ruining my plans before they
      begin," Attuma blared. "But I cannot pass this
      opportunity to attack the surface dwellers. Prepare a
      warhost to intercept the land lovers"

      "But what of the heirs?" Deathcharge wondered.

      "I have no love for them," Attuma snarled. "They have
      no true Atlantean heritage." He paused for a moment.
      "However, if they were to die as a result of the
      surface dwellers's pursuit, we would have no choice
      but to declare war in an attempt to avenge them." He
      finished with thoughts with a grin. "On behalf of our
      king, of course."

      "Of course," Deathcharge repeated with an evil smile.


      ***The West Coast Avengers Mountain Base***


      Firebird stood in front of Sub-Basement 5-C. She
      didn't want to tell the others the reason she stayed
      behind was because she had to find out what was hiding
      inside this room. She was unsure if she was about to
      meet an hostile force and prayed to God for his
      protection and strength. If she was overwhelmed by
      what was inside, she hoped she would find a way to
      contact Doc Samson since he was the only other person
      in the base for the moment.

      She placed her right hand against the door's locking
      mechanism so it could be scanned. Once it verified
      her identity, the doors opened. She placed her hand
      over her mouth to prevent inhaling the dust that flew
      toward her. She could tell that it had been years
      since anyone had been inside. With her free hand she
      waved more dust out of her face so she could make out
      the contents of the room.

      The room was filled with hundreds of storage crates.
      Some crates were labeled and stacked in an orderly
      fashion while others were scattered across the room.
      In a far corner she saw what appeared to be a man,
      except it look more like a robot.

      She cautiously peered behind a stack of crates and
      upon further examination discovered that what she saw
      were actually robot parts. She wondered if someone
      was trying to build a construct or if this was a
      casualty from a S.H.I.E.L.D. battle.

      "There's nothing here," Firebird said to herself and
      headed for the door. She turned to leave in
      disappointment. She wished she had found what she was
      looking for. Or did she? Was she going crazy? She
      was thankful she hadn't told the others what she
      thought was going on. Photon would have probably
      recommended for her have a therapy session with Doc
      Samson or take some time away from the team.

      Firebird struggled with her thoughts and feelings as
      she reached the door. She knew something was going on
      here. She stopped and looked around one more time.
      She saw nothing out of the ordinary. Was there danger
      inside one of the boxes? There was no way for her to
      tell. She shouldn't have came by herself. She could
      have used some help going through the crates to
      determine if they contained dangerous materials.

      "I'll come back later with someone," she decided,
      heading for the door. As she was about to place her
      hand on the locking mechanism to exit, a transparent
      arm phased through a nearby crate. The owner did not
      intend for Firebird to leave until the time was right.



      To Be Continued



      NEXT ISSUE: The fight for Coral and Cornelius rages
      as the West Coast Avengers try to rescue them! Will
      things escalate into an all-out war between the
      Atlanteans and the surface world? How will Firebird
      escape her captor in the sub-basement? Find out in
      the next chapter of Dark Tide when the West Coast
      Avengers take a "Deep Descent"! Oh, and look out for
      cameo from a certain member of Alpha Flight as well!





      ***WCA 23 Footnotes***


      1. This was revealed in Marvel's Avengers Spotlight
      #24.

      2. Check out Altmarvel's West Coast Avengers #18 to
      see what happened!

      3. To find out more on what Firebird "sensed", check
      out Altmarvel's West Coast Avengers #19.

      4. See Marvel's Quasar #8 for this tragic act.

      5. See Altmarvel's Alpha Flight vol. 2 #4 for this
      historic event!

      6. See last issue for more details.

      7. This is the same "Demonica Island" used by Dr.
      Demonicus! It was raised to the surface in Marvel's
      Avengers West Coast #70 and sunk in Avengers West
      Coast #95.

      8. Check out the back-up story in Marvel's Namor
      Annual #4 to witness the actions which caused the
      disfigurement.

      9. What diversion? The one that took place in
      Altmarvel's Defenders #22!


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