Previously: Unforgivable Deeds
Theme Song: Waters of Babylon by Don McLean
Stepping back into the Warehouse at the end of that jump filled me with dread. I’d just gambled the fate of an entire world on the next jump being somewhere better than Black Bullet (not hard), as well as somewhere that could support 12 million modern humans (fairly easy), and somewhere that wouldn’t be instantly destroyed by the arrival of two and a half million super powered adolescent girls (bwahahaha! yeah, right). Imagine my initial horror when I saw the Marvel Logo on the Vending Machines of Destiny. For a minute I had visions of having to destroy sentinels to protect the girls and their guardians against the anti-mutant crowds… then I realized it was the MCU logo and relaxed. Much better, no mutants. Just Tony Stark and HYDRA. Weeeee!
I was almost looking forward to this.
Step 1… spin that wheeel! Click click click! West Virginia! Woooo. Site of the Hulk’s rampage in 2005! Wait, what was the year? 2009… ah… Tony Stark is just breaking free of the cave in Afghanistan. Interesting time. Wait… ooo, this should be funz! 2009 is Iron Man, 2010 is Hulk 2 and Thor, 2011 is Avengers, 2013 is the Fall of SHIELD… hmmmm… busy busy busy.
Options options options. Who do I want to be? Drop in had a style perk, a find the plot perk, a steal the macguffin perk, and a screw things up perk. Eh. Tech Expert was the Tony Stark line. Operative was the Black Widow line, and Tac/Comm was the Nick Fury line. Hmmm… none of them screamed at me.
Maybe I should look at drawbacks first. 1000 CP maximum. That might be enough. Corpse of a Hero caught my eye immediately. Phil Coulson stays dead after Loki kills him? Wait, that’s it? SHIELD falls apart and Coulson stays dead? Excellent! Bringing back Coulson always bugged me. Sorry Phil, you should have stayed dead. It was a great moment in cinema, how the sacrifice of a mere mortal could galvanize these great beings! And they wasted it… but then again, they wasted Loki’s redemption, which would have been an awesome and memorable cinema moment, a “Even the Bad Guy can change” in a comic movie… but that’s Comics for you. No one stays dead.
And SHIELD falling apart pretty much will derail the events of Winter Soldier, which might stop Civil War… especially if I can limit Ultron’s depravity. All around good news in my book [+300] (1300/1300). You Owe Rocket also amused me. Being followed around and having my plans messed with by Rocket just because he thinks I owe him? Excellent! [+200] (1500/1500). Horrible Costume? Catch Phrase? Both worth [+100] I can cope with that. Hulk has purple pants. Too edgy or too corny or both, and I keep repeating a catch phrase. Sure, why not (1700/1700).
I could max myself out by shifting my starting point to 1942 and pledging to obliterate HYDRA… seriously… I couldn’t leave the world until HYDRA was gone… actually… I could do that… Help end WWII early… though I suspect I’d make things worse… and if I left before modern times, what was I going to do with the kids? Did I really want to live through the 1950s, 60s, and 70s again? Eh, why the heck not. Glory of a Monster for [+300] (2000/2000) and I was maxed out. Starting Point 1942, Austria… and I’d be here until at least 2011? Oh good. 70 years. I had that long to make a world that was a decent place to release the cursed children.
To do so, I was going to need help. And that meant it was time for JumpVengers Assemble!  (1800/2000). Honestly, a free background and 200 CP for perks and items wasn’t great, but it wasn’t nothing. I’d make due.
I’d been an Operative last time I’d been through this section of world history. This time I was going for Tech Expert  (1700/2000). Granted me incredible intelligence (sure, I could use a few more IQ points) and the capability to understand the greater workings of the Universe (as if I didn’t have that already) as well as meaning I’d pick up on information and science a lot faster than most (which was a bonus worth having).
Everyone got Soundtrack of the Galaxy and They Call Me “Star-Lord” for Free, and Tech Experts get Professor of Asskicking free with purchase. Universal Freebies are nice. The Boss’s way of saying, “Here, these are barely worth the bother, but we like making you feel appreciated.”
Soundtrack of the Galaxy was a BGM perk that ensured I’d have a fine selection of music that defined the moment, whatever it may be. Superb orchestra, rock music, even a hefty dash of songs from the 1980s if that’s what was called for. It even came with a handheld cassette player capable of function in deep space. See what I mean by barely worth the bother?
They Call Me “Star-Lord” was for those times when I really needed a codename and for people to know that codename was mine. Apparently my real name… not that I used it and hadn’t for… a while… wasn’t intimidating or awe inspiring enough. With this I could designate an alias and people would associate that name with me… even if it didn’t guarantee they’d actually call me by it. So, apparently, with this, I could pick my nickname. I’d just come off like a douche for mentioning it. Wooo! Even less worth the time and effort. Professor of Asskicking on the other hand… that was 3 free PhD’s in a science or tech field. Quantum Physics, Computer Engineering, and Chaos Theory. There. A science, a tech, and a math. STEM for the win! I felt nerdier already.
Before I purchased anything else, however, I’d noticed one perk I had to have in the non-discounted section… Asgardian  (1300/2000). If I was going to be here for 70 years fighting monsters in human guise, I might as well become a Godlike alien. I already was Skadi, right? “You are an Asgardian, a powerful alien species. As such, your strength is enough that you could bench press an APC, your speed would let you outrun a car at 80MPH, and your toughness enough to take an RPG and survive with minor bruising. This is on top the ability to heal wounds noticeably faster than the average human and immunity to any Earth disease. As a bonus, your appearance and physique have been improved to pleasing effect. May you enjoy your perfect, immaculate hair that could only belong to one as grand as you.” I already was immune to diseases and my hair was already omni-spiffy, but more spiffy could always be achieved. A small hammer symbol appeared on the screen and I poked it. “Your hair and body only get dirty enough to make you ruggedly handsome/beautiful.” Well that was nice. “It also works on body fur, fluffy tails, scales, or chitin.” Heh. Covering bases. Excellent. I would have to check out how I looked as Asgardian Snowjaeger. It also set my age to 1224. That was going to be a lot of memories to sort through.
I didn’t really need Unusual Specialization or I Am Iron Man… I already was pretty scientifically skilled and I already knew how to build half of Tony’s tech… and as long as he developed it before I left, I could steal his actual specs. On the other hand, I had to take the Tech-Expert Capstone, Retro-Engineer  (1000/2000) which granted me the basics of tinkering with alien technologies. As long as I take the time to study something and experiment properly, I’ll eventually figure out a use for any tech I find. As a bonus, it made me far less likely to accidentally break whatever I’m tinkering with. I noticed that hammer symbol flashing on the text box for Retro-Engineer and poked it curiously. “Since you’re Asgardian, this grants a basic understanding of Asgardian Technology and comprehension of how they work. In time, you’ll be able to make technology on par with that of the best of the Asgardian Technical Elite.” OOOoo…OOO Yay!
I scrolled around, intrigued. Were there other Asgardian synergies? There were! Especially on the other capstones. The Tac/Comm and Operative capstones were both combat boosters, and the Tac/Com one was nice, combining leadership and morale boosts… but the synergy for Operative was right up my alley… I really wanted the elemental boost… but I decided I could do without. Leadership and negotiation solves more problems ultimately that freezing everyone solid. That meant the choice of “Old Fashioned Asskicking”  (400/2000) was pretty much an unavoidable expense, though it meant giving up several other choice options. Ah well, can’t have everything. Any group I fight with will have their morale drastically improved, and their battle tactics improved just as much. Synergy, accuracy, reflexes, and coordination will all noticeably increase, and they hit just a bit harder too. As an Asgardian, my charisma and intellect increase greatly, allowing me to lead armies and negotiate with hostile forces without difficulty. As this develops, I could become a wise and powerful queen whose rule is almost never challenged. See why I had to have it? That’s twice I’d given up a nice elemental power for the demands of leadership. Siiigh.
On the other hand, I could make up some of the loss by taking “Super Soldier”  (200/2000) “You’ve been bathed in Vita Radiation and have taken the eponymous Super Soldier Serum, and have found yourself enhanced as a result. You are at the very peak of both physical and mental Asgardian ability. Things like increased agility, speed, strength, mental calculation, memory, and more are all enhanced. You could potentially take an army by yourself, or even laugh in the face of a tank or two… to say nothing of mental comprehension.” Yeah, that would do.
That left me with 200 unspent. Time for Items. Everyone got a Tactical Suit for free “A standard bodysuit made of a polymer blend with ten layers of treated composite materials, allowing for state of the art protection, in the style of your choice.” I plugged in something that looked good before my drawbacks made my sense of style fly out the window. Tech Experts got their own free Holotable “A device in the shape of a table used to create holographic models that allow the study, analysis, and reconstruction of a vast array of items, weapons and events. Comes in any color of holograms you like and each hologram is capable of being interacted with. Naturally this performs better with additional data.” (bonus! Gaming Table! At least until I get Holodeck tech.) and Nitramene “The formula for the chemical compound known as Nitramene, this compound has multiple purposes. A typical Nitramene bomb has a blast radius of five hundred yards after which it creates a vacuum that causes an implosion as matter rushes to fill the void that it has created, but a grenade of that size will do considerably less damage. On the other hand, Nitramene also emits low levels of Vita Radiation, which has a specific wavelength that has stabilizing properties.” (Huh. no idea what I’ll do with this crap, but whatever. Source of Vita Rads. I could use them if I had the Super Soldier Serum.).
As it turns out, said Serum or rather the “Strange Formula” cost  (100/2000) “This chemical formula is the brainchild of the German scientist Dr. Erskine, and is directly responsible for the creation of Captain America. As is, this is only the formula, and you must make it yourself… but as a result it could possibly let you modify the serum for other uses. Beware its tendencies to amplify the personality traits of the user, or be prepared to find a way to fix that fact.” Experimentation needed. Very true, didn’t need to exacerbate some of the crazy on my squad. I wonder what Ziggy would be like on Super S… Ferret Serum?
And now I had 100… and Infinite Shawarma was on the list. I bought it and SHIELD Membership for  each, running me out of points. Sure, I could make damned good shawarma in my kitchen… but this hooked my warehouse up with an infinite supply of Shawarma of all kinds, perfectly cooked to my specs, regardless of ingredients or meats. It had better come with the complete pickle bar and tahini on tap. Probably have to source Israeli Fanta myself… it’s more tart, less sweet than American Fanta. The SHIELD membership was of negotiable usage, but by purchasing it I got a legitimate position within the organization that is S.H.I.E.L.D., whether that is as a consultant or an agent or a scientist. Or would once it began. If there were other Marvel jumps later, having an in at SHIELD might be useful.
I retired to the kitchen to make dinner while the others discussed who was coming with me and why and what builds they wanted. “Astraea gets right of first refusal. Then Sextus. And I’m taking Zane and Reggy. Ahab, Joy, I’m going to need you to help me destroy HYDRA, so you can come too, but I don’t know if you want to import normally or what?” I said over the counter.
“What kind of world is this?” Garl asked, looking like a pretty boy outside his armor. “Is it like the last one?”
“Tech level is lower. If you come with and stay you’ll probably die of old age before it gets to that level. You’ll be able to adjust. Right now, the world’s in the middle of the worst war in recorded history, a war against two genocidal empires… one so bad the forces of liberty and justice have allied themselves with a tyrant who rules a third empire in a pact of mutual protection. It’s complex, and bad news. But there’s a Catholic church here that worships the Son of God and the Virgin Mary. And the war will be over soon and a lot of worthy people will need help.”
Astraea umms, “But you’d be giving up a chance to improve one of your constant companions to import, that’s the word, yes?” I nodded. “Import me? Why?”
“Because it’s the only way to give you a new body. Otherwise you’ll just be a ghost. You and Garl could start a family.”
“You’d do that?”
“Sure. Least I can do. I could turn you into an Arrancar if you’d rather. You’d still be a ghost, but a really dangerous one. Could hook you up with a Gigai too… but you’d outlive everyone and I don’t think you’d like that.” She nodded slowly. “So it’s resolved.”
Over tacos, the roster was decided. Reggy, Zane, Velma, Cirno, Kendra, Ryoga, Yoiko, and Astraea. Ahab and Joy would import themselves. Sextus had bowed out and Bao had decided he could do without living through Maoism. We promised to see if we could stop that from happening. But there were a lot of things that needed doing first. Cirno was coming because everyone said I was being too hard on her. I’d been outvoted in favor of the idiot. I was clearly in charge here.
I walked Astraea through the decision process for the first and almost certainly the last time. “If you take any origin besides Drop-In you’ll end up with another set of memories, the memories of who you were in this life, in this world.”
“And if I don’t?”
“Drop-Ins are just you. As you are.”
“Then I would still be a ghost?”
“Naw, it always gives you an… I don’t know. Maybe.”
“That is alright then. Hopefully she and I will be of a mind. And I could use knowledge of this world and its peoples.” I nodded. It was her choice. She read through the choices, then, after several days, announced, “I have decided.”
I was surprised it hadn’t taken her longer. Deciding who you want to be for the rest of your life is a heavy choice… even if there are only three options. She picked Tac/Comm, which came with a fair amount of resources and a position of authority in what would one day become SHIELD… and a wanted woman. Had to admire her gumption. She was going into a global war that would morph from active combat to a war of spies in only a few years armed with only her native magical skills and 200 CP worth of perks, to make a home and life for herself and her friends, and to help people she’d never heard of before.
She took “Make This Look Good  (which made her a master of stylish acronyms and codenames, as well as costumes and emblems.), Grootologist  (the ability to understand the general idea of what anyone is saying, regardless of language barriers or simple phrase repetition), Smooth Operator [Free Tac/Com] (the ability to bring confidence and calmness to those you talk to, or become intimidating at will), Tactical Suit [Free], SHIELD Membership [Free Tac/Com], Mouse Hole [Free Tac/Comm] (a laser cutting device that cuts through almost any material and is handheld)… and Infinite Shawarma . I asked why. She said, “Shawarma is good… it is also food. With this, I will have a way to feed many who would otherwise go hungry.” It was a good answer.
Ryoga, Kendra, and Ahab also went the Tac/Comm path, with Ahab getting just the freebies. Ryoga picked up Tick Tock [200 Tac/Comm] (a planning and timing perk that made him instantly a master of preparation and scheming) in addition to the freebies, while Kendra picked up Data Disassembly [100 Tac/Comm] (a super hacking / cyber-security perk) and SHIELD SUV [100 Tac/Comm]. It was a self-driving, flight-capable, armored, machine-gun / grenade launcher equipped, self-repairing mobile command center that was guaranteed to be easily upgradable. Not a bad ride… I wonder what it ran on and how far it could go without refueling.
Reggy, Zane, and Joy went down the road of the Operative, with Joy getting the freebies from what was for her “Old Home Week” of course, which in this case consisted of “Vehicular Manslaughter” (Ace Pilot, Ace Driver… especially when trying to kill people… even with alien vehicles.), “Collapsible Bow” (Hawkeye’s bow essentially), and “Thunderstick” (A sonic stungun / shockhammer.)
Zane added “Armed to Disarm” (How to appear Harmless and Innocent for non-suckers.) and “Destroyer Armor Prototype Gun” (A gun dangerous enough to serious imperil an Asgardian based off of Asgardian tech co-opted by SHIELD) to the mix… and Reggy would surely benefit from my picking “Way of the Widow” (The whole super spy package… stealth, infiltration, cover identities, etc.) for her. I wanted to increase her ability to understand humanity from the inside out. I doubted it was possible to make her more of a sociopath than she already was. Still, by my best guess, she was now about 16 years old. After this jump she’ll have experienced far more time as a human than she had as a Vord. For good or ill.
Yoiko joined me on the path to Tech Expertise, enjoying the Intelligence and learning boost, and becoming a Professor of Asskicking in Electrical Engineering, Computer Sciences, and Computer Engineering all at the same time. Triple threat. Then she added “I Am Iron Man” to the collection, which made her essentially a decent knock-off of Tony Stark with regards to technological inventiveness, if not retro-engineering. It would be nice to have another techgirl around, finally… we were going to do very dangerous things together.
Velma and Cirno went Drop-In, for two different reasons. Velma wanted Darcy Time, which was the ability to locate all the cool alien invasions and rampaging gods and supernatural cataclysms instead of avoiding them like a sensible person, and Yondu’s Yaka Arrow, which was seriously armor piercing and could be controlled with sound… though Velma might need a piccolo to do so, since she wasn’t that good a whistler. Drop-In was the only way she could afford both. Thus, intelligence.
Cirno on the other hand wanted to pick up the shinies and so she took “This Looks Important”… a perk that let one track the MacGuffin and maybe even figure out what it did… even in the heart of a battle royale. At that point, I was vaguely hoping someday I’d look back and think “That was a useful choice.” but right now I’m mostly suspecting she’s going to bring a doomsday device into my warehouse claiming “I found it!” This is not a happy-making thought.
Once more into the… wait… this is my 42nd jump! We must make Pangalactic Gargleblasters! That done and the party well and truly burned into our drunken memories… Reggy was like “I do not understand the purpose of this. This substance is poisonous?” But after twelve of them she was trying, rather incoherently, to make the harmless Pseudo-keeper she’s allowed as a pet dance, despite understanding the concept only poorly herself. Yes, it’s harmless. No poison production ability and way too big to be a Taker and both she and it are allowed to participate in group activities only through a transparent Aluminum box on the edge of the living area. If I sound paranoid about her… I am.
I’m not the only one. Sextus keeps coming up to me and asking if I’m sure she’s safe and telling me that he’s certain he saw something sneaking around the warehouse. I point out that, in addition to Ziggy, there are several hundred anti-vermin hunting pseudo tree-spiders (courtesy of VIvian) making sure that there aren’t any rats, roaches, silverfish, or vord scooting around and that I don’t exactly trust her either. I think he’s a little traumatized even though I’ve cleaned out his emotional baggage twice now. I need a Starfleet Counselor. Closest I’ve got is me, and while I could in theory mindmeld (Vulcan, remember) or genome meld (Asari too) I’m not sure either would be helpful.
Honestly, I wasn’t certain even with all my telepathy and soul reading if I’d ever be fully able to trust the Vord Queen. But time would tell, I guess. Until then, I had to stick to the program.
Our planning was intensive for this jump. We had to strike hard and fast. No, not to destroy HYDRA… no, for higher stakes. There were millions of Jews, Gypsies, Homosexuals, and Political Prisoners to save from Concentration Camps, millions of Russians to save from the battles of 42-45, Dresden & Berlin to save, and even a couple of atomic bombs to stop. Plus, maybe I could save Patton, Rommel, and FDR from untimely deaths… but that wasn’t top of my list. Top of my list was giving the lives of a handful of people a very short shelf-life. Rolodex, Rolodex, I love you so much.
We dropped on the first of August, 1942, into Austria. My followers (Cirno and Reggy still in the warehouse) fanned out, heading for the various operations which would, in time, allow us to map all of HYDRA. I on the other hand had a few individuals to look up. Imagine a Norse Goddess sitting on a throne of ice in the middle of an Austrian forest, flipping through a Rolodex, muttering “Lavrentiy Beria… Isamu Cho… Zhu De… Oskar Dirlewanger… Adolf Eichmann… Zhou Enlai… Hans Frank… Odilo Globocnik… Joseph Goebbels… Hermann Göring… Reinhard Heydrich… Heinrich Himmler… Adolf Hitler… Shiro Ishii… Kan’in Kotohito… Iwane Matsui… Josef Mengele… Mario Roatta… Joseph Stalin… Hisao Tani… Deng Xiaoping… Mao Zedong” Twenty-two names. It wasn’t nearly enough, and I was letting others get away with crap, but these were the worst of the worst. In fact, they were so bad that I briefly reconsidered my stance on the Kiharas. If I just executed these war criminals… why was I so bent on punishing the pair of them. That made me pause, reevaluate my plans. So I changed them.
First, I had to gather them. With my list and a bunch of cryopods I installed in my Safehouse on Svalbard, I collected the butchers of WWII set. One by one I held trials for them all, summoning up their deepest secrets and desires to confront them with. Then I left them, one by one, to their victims. The chinese peasants were more than happy to take care of the Japanese commanders. Yugoslavians took care of the Italian. Poles took care of Frank and Globocnik. Dirlewanger I just staked ala Vlad the Impaler… though I did it over a fire ant nest in Mexico. The German High Command I deposited, naked, chained, and sobbing, begging for release from the terrifying apparition in the middle of Trafalgar Square. Mengele I left blind and naked in Siberia. As for the Communists… Stalin and Beria, Mao, De, and Enlai… Them I just shot… in space suits… into re-entry.
The war in Europe ended with a stalemate as the German Military seized power (under the guidance of HYDRA) and Nazi party members began finding out what it was to be rounded up and imprisoned. Khrushchev took over in Russia… Hirohito surrendered unilaterally after a visitation from what he believed to be Amaterasu told him too. By July of 1943, the war was over and the face of the 20th century was changed forever. No nukes, no Communist revolution in China, lots of tension in Europe, but no Iron Curtain and Soviet Puppet States. No UN… no Israeli mandate, but nevertheless, an Zionist state did rise in the region, with the help of the Demon’s Souls crew, helping settle so many refugees and keeping peace as only a Saint could. I was deep in political manipulation mode, trying to explain what “Let’s Getter Dun” meant, trying to keep the 20th century more or less ticking along as the map of HYDRA grew and grew and grew.
Rocket of course showed up, decades before he should have been born and experimented on. And got hugged and told how cute he was and got kisses on the nose. He tried to bite and claw me, but I’m harder than I look. I couldn’t get rid of him, of course… but I could make sure he kept falling for the same transparent lies over and over again. He did, for some reason, keep joining HYDRA, but I kept erasing his memory of that fact.
I was trying very hard to stay out of the limelight… which is why it came as so much of a shock when Thor and his Warriors Three… and Syf… showed up to arrest me on Odin’s orders for messing with the timeline. And that’s how I spent the 1950s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, and most of the oughts, trapped in a cell in Asgard. Weeeeee! No idea how they managed it, but I had as much luck escaping (I couldn’t even open my warehouse.) as Loki did… but thankfully, Loki got me out. Okay, not really. Turns out Loki was running amok on Earth and had killed some temporal lynchpin according to Odin and if I promised to be very very good, they’d let me out to help hunt down the rogue prince. I gave Odin a kiss on the cheek that must have chilled the All-Father to his toes, then asked where Thor was.
“Midgard. With some people who call themselves “The Avengers or SHIELD.”
“Right. Let’s getter dun!” I snapped, then summoned my armor and sword (currently doing time as a massive battle axe) as I headed towards Bifrost. “Oh… wait… You haven’t fixed the bifrost yet have you?”
“How did you know it was broken?”
“I am that excellent.”
“You look ridiculous.”
“I Yama Doctor.”
“Yes, that’s what your coat says. In 15 different languages… and it’s always misspelled.”
“It’s a joke.”
“Not a funny one.”
“Shush you, I’m being awesome. Wait for it it…” and with me out of my cell, calling Zane for a pickup wasn’t hard. PHS has no range limit. Boom. “Hello boys and girls, did you miss me?” I asked as I appeared aboard a damaged SHIELD Helicarrier. Most of my people looked… old. I sighed “Yeah… well… it wasn’t fun for me either. Report?”
Look, you’ve seen what Hulk can do to a Helicarrier… right? Who hasn’t. This one wasn’t in great shape. And Loki was about to bring the Chitauri down on New York City. So that was great. Part of me wanted to rush over there and help save the day, I’m not going to lie. But the rest of me was like “I have a mission. Let’s getter dun.” I opened my mouth to start giving commands, when Rocket, wearing a janitor’s costume, leapt out of a vent and pointed a gun at me.
You owe me!”
I sighed and squirted him with Jusenkyo water, then picked up the wet raccoon and said “It’s in a forcefield atop Stark Tower in New York city. Go get it yourself.” and tossed her down the corridor. “Now… HYDRA.”
My people had not been idle during my hiatus. Instead, they’d mapped the rise of HYDRA very carefully. The list was a long one. But I had places to start… still… it would take awhile to deal with. I could spare an hour to save NYC. “Okay people, let’s getter dun! Time for I Yama Doctor to make her appearance!”
Laugh all you want. The Chitauri weren’t laughing as I flew up through their rift and smashed their spaceship with Meltdowner Beams. I’d had a lot of time to practice in that cell. So that was tuesday. With their primary mission to observe HYDRA done, my team went to work shoring up SHIELD while I tracked down every member of HYDRA I knew about and first scanned their minds to learn everything I could about the organization, then erased their memory of ever having been a part of it. Sure, it was mind control, but my alternative was to kill over 28,000 people. Thankfully, most of them were drones who barely knew what they were doing, or who they worked for. Yeah, there were cells of Neo-Nazi’s and hate groups, but they were controlled by HYDRA, not HYDRA directly. Still, I made them go home and dedicate their lives to not being dickheads.
Some of the HYDRA heads were good at shielding themselves from my mind reading… others resisted my personality editing. A couple put up a fight.It’s amazing how hard an Asgardian Super Soldier can kick. I actually managed to punt one of them across a city. Finding Bucky and deprogramming him was actually the hardest part of the operation. Dealing with Odin and Rocket was more annoying, and I don’t think The All Father appreciated me sending the kleptomaniacal raccoon to Asgard via Bifrost express, but I did anyway. I also found time to have a Mjolnir duel with Thor. He wasn’t amused to see me wielding a copy of his hammer.
That taken care of, I was racking up a simply huge collection of HYDRA memories for the Pensieve I’d lifted from Dumbledore’s office (I’d replaced it with the one I bought in Diagon Alley… his was nicer) when I ran out of HYDRA. That wasn’t how it was supposed to work. I was supposed to leave when the last of HYDRA was gone. None of my companions knew what was going on… until I looked around the warehouse and spotted the pink bunny box. Crap. Crap. Crap.
I’d forgotten about them… well… not forgotten… I don’t forget anything… but there’s a lot of stuff to take care of and some events get shelved for later.
I picked up the box and took the occupants to Detroit. “Yes.” I said, looking at the shambles of the once proud city. This will do nicely.” And then I abused SHIELD Resources, construction robots, Asgardian technology (I’d had a lot of time to read, and no one felt it odd that I asked for tech texts… I was one of them), and even some of my own money… and rebuilt vast swaths of the city in a matter of months. Housing for 8 million, Egyptians, Russians, Japanese, and Native Detroiters. Then I released the seals and watched as people started appearing. Took over 2 years, releasing 10,000 a day, getting them settled. I could have done it faster… but my ability to change history works only once a month. Each month I just… rewrote history to add another few hundred thousand people, mostly children, to the Detroit area. Businesses that had been having problems suddenly found they were thriving… but had no memory of the problems. And the families remembered having moved here legally… and of being families.
Oddly enough, Detroit was a good fit. The city already had sizable populations of russians, japanese, and muslims, and of course the natives were natives. But that didn’t solve the problem of 2.4 million Cursed Children and their guardians. I could have released them into the general population… but that would have turned Detroit into Superheroine capital of the… universe. And made them targets. No. For this I sought out Odin’s help.
“Yo, Big Daddy!”
“Yup, swat I said. Anyway. I need a place to stash 4 million humans and quasi-humans where they won’t starve and won’t get used as pawns or experimented on. Come on, tell me we can getter dun.”
“Virus mutated little girls who have superhuman strength, toughness, and speed. Cured of the disease, but still transhuman. 2.4 million of them.”
“Two… million… little girls?”
“Yup. Can they move in?”
Odin choked “To Asgard?”
“Sure! Think of them as Next Gen Valkyries, only instead of bringing you the spirits of the dead, they bring you stuffed animals and you get to pretend to be Santa.”
“What? Why would I-”
“Dude. Read a book some time. Anyway. I’m going to be unloading them in like… a few hours, so can we Getter dun?”
“You do not have my permission-”
“Oh. Cause, see… I wasn’t actually asking. I’m going to release 4 million humans on the streets of Asgard in an hour’s time and you’re going to help me find a new home for them where they’ll be safe.”
“I am am I? I am ODIN!” he thundered. “You do not-”
“And you chide Thor for his anger? Don’t you snap at me. I’m trying to do a solid here.”
Odin slumped. “Humans, in Asgard.”
“It’s a big world. You can put them on the other side of the mountain.
“Where will they live?”
“You’re Odin. You’ll figure something out. Oh. This is Enju. She likes bunnies and kicking jerks in the head.” I pushed the redhead towards Odin, then backed out, signalling to Zane to unleash the flood. Still took 200 days before the box was finally empty. Asgardians are much better about figuring out how to handle refugees than they thought they’d be, as it turns out.
And yet… Still… no pillars. “There must be some HYDRA left somewhere.” I growled… “Fine. Let’s do this” and I focused hard… and changed history so all the remaining members of HYDRA had signed onto a website called “HYDRAnet” and given their own home address and full legal names two days ago. There were four names on the list. HIVE, Rocket Raccoon, Brewster Morgan… and Astraea Vinland.
I cursed myself for forgetting Hive, a.k.a Alveus, the inhuman behind the cult that was Hydra. Of course… he was on the planet Maveth, a barren world he’d been banished to centuries earlier. I sent him an Asgardian planet buster for his birthday, vaporizing the ancient entity via Bifrost.
Rocket was a matter of erasing his memory… again… Brewster turned out to be a 97 year old man in a coma, dying of being 97 years old. He’d joined a HYDRA cell in the 70s and outlived everyone who knew he was a member. He’d woken up, tobbled to the nurse’s station, logged into HYDRAnet, then passed out again. No one knew why or how, as he hadn’t moved from his bed in 6 years. He was a raging bigot, hating everyone who was different from him. I checked his brain function and vitals. He was permanently vegetative. I eased him into darkness, which didn’t make it any less murder, but I’d done worse and would again.
Then I went to Jerusalem and met with Astraea. “So? HYDRA?”
She blinked, then nodded softly. She was an old lady now, but her eyes were still bright. “You knew all along, I’d do whatever I needed to help others. No matter what demon’s bargain I had to strike.”
I groaned. “And I wasn’t around… what about the others?”
She sighed. “Garl and Selene are both long gone. Garl of Cancer in the 80s, Selene in the 70s in a car crash. I had my children and grandchildren to keep me going… I thank you for that Sarah, Skadi, Sunny… whatever you call yourself. You gave me a life I never would have had. And my family owes you so much. More than we can ever repay.”
She laughed. “Oh. I’m not really one of them, not officially. I just… I wanted to make sure you didn’t leave without saying goodbye. So I decided I was a member of HYDRA decades ago. Never told anyone. Just myself.”
I chuckled. “You’re a piece of work Astraea.”
“Astrid. I was Astraea in another life. I’m Astrid in this life. Or for a little longer.”
I asked, “What would you have of me, Astrid?”
“I want your guarantee that this world… that my children and my children’s children… that they’ll survive what’s coming.”
“I know you can’t guarantee… so I want you to stay until this Thanos has been defeated.”
I gaped “I… I… I don’t know how to defeat him. I’m sorry. I… wait… Do you trust me?”
“With my children’s lives.”
“Then let me go. Time will not pass here while I am gone. I will find the answer… somewhere out there. And then I’ll return. Then I’ll return… I pledge my word. I’ll find a way to defeat the Mad Titan and I’ll come back and I’ll getter dun.”
“You so swear?”
I nodded solemnly. “I’ll be back in a moments… by your time.”
“Then I, Astraea, do hereby… wait… you do this on the beach, don’t you?”
“Then let’s go there.”
“How about the river?”
And we went down to the River Jordan and there Astraea washed away her membership in HYDRA and as she did so… Rocket came leaping out of the water yelling about how I owed him and I froze him in a ball of ice and said “I’ll be back.” as the pillars rose from the shore. It was May of 2016. I’d been here for just under 74 years.
Next: World 41 – Going Deep