Apocalypso: Part 1
by Sami Merchi
1) This material is not used for monetary profit in any manner. It is done solely for enjoyment purposes, and as homage to the great stories and characters of Marvel Comics Group
2) All the characters, events, and locations portrayed within are recognized as property of Marvel Comics Group should they so wish.
3) This story has been written by Samy Merchi <firstname.lastname@example.org>. Any commentary in the form of compliments or critique is welcomed, and eagerly hoped for. So go ahead and drop me a line telling me what you thought, okay? It'll make my day. ;)
4) This story is being archived at
least at my fanfic page at <http://www.utu.fi/~samerc/fanfic/index.html>.
Previous parts can be found there if needed.
* STARRING *
Samuel Zachery 'CANNONBALL' Guthrie
Danielle 'MIRAGE' Moonstar
Roberto 'SUNSPOT' Da Costa
* CO-STARRING *
Julio Esteban 'RICTOR' Richter
Gaveedra-Seven 'SHATTERSTAR' of Mojoverse
Douglas 'DOUGLOCK' Ramsey
Warlock 'DOUGLOCK' of the Technarch
Tabitha 'MELTDOWN' Smith
* CONTINUITY *
This story takes place after YOUR WAY.
* CHAPTER ONE: RHYTHM OF THE DRUM, *
* RHYTHM OF THE HEART, *
* RHYTHM OF THE GUN *
*** TWO DAYS AGO ***
July 1st. It's summer on the northern hemisphere. One of the hottest summers of the century. (No, not Rachel.) In New York, New York, the Big Apple, the air warmed by the burning asphalt wavers and creates little mirages as people try to flee the sweltering heat into what little shadow they can find, and even there, they can't stop sweating. In Los Angeles, California, the City of Angels, masses and masses of shoes get ruined when their rubber soles melt on the sidewalk when people stand in the same place on the sun-heated asphalt. In Phoenix, Arizona the water reserves are so low that the city rations the water supplies, only letting houses have water on certain days. In Mexico City, hundreds of people die of sunstrokes and dehydration daily.
In Southeastern Mexico, in the state of Chiapas, high in the mountains where a jungle so thick few others on this planet can rival it, a low, endless, rhythmical sound defies the merciless wrath of the sun, going on and on and on and on, never seeming to tire or to hold pause, even under the hottest midday burning sun.
BRUM BRUM BRUM BRUM
BRUM BRUM BRUM BRUM BRUM BRUM BRUM BRUM BRUM BRUM
BRUM BRUM BRUM BRUM BRUM BRUM BRUM BRUM BRUM BRUM BRUM BRUM BRUM BRUM
BRUM BRUM BRUM BRUM BRUM BRUM BRUM BRUM BRUM BRUM BRUM BRUM BRUM BRUM
BRUM BRUM BRUM BRUM BRUM BRUM BRUM BRUM BRUM BRUM BRUM BRUM BRUM BRUM
BRUM BRUM BRUM BRUM BRUM BRUM BRUM BRUM BRUM BRUM BRUM BRUM BRUM BRUM
BRUM BRUM BRUM BRUM BRUM BRUM BRUM BRUM BRUM BRUM BRUM BRUM BRUM BRUM
In the jungle, no one can hear you drum.
Or so you think.
*** TWO DAYS AGO, X-FORCE ISLAND BASE ***
"Geez! How hot can it get??" Sam asked as he just tried to lay back on the towel spread upon the sand of the beach, and listen to the soft undulating sounds made by the waves as they reached the sand and the slowly absorbed into it, fading into nothingness, the sand drying almost instantly as the sun practically scorched the moisture out of it and into the air.
"Ah, stop whining, Sam!" Tabitha retorted, as she reopened her bottle of Coppertone, put some of it on her hand, and then closed the bottle again before rubbing her hands together and starting to apply the sunscreen onto her skin while watching Shatterstar go thru his usual endless shadow-fencing exercises a few dozen yards away along the beach. "You only get to have a summer like this a couple of times in your life. Loosen up and enjoy it. You might actually *like* it."
"Back home in Guadalajara", Rictor started, as he sat up from his own towel, and then stood up, briefly using his mutant vibratory powers on himself to shake the sand off, "we used to have summers almost as hot as this every few years." He then proceeded to walk a few paces over to the cooler and crouched down beside it, opened the top, and took out a blissfully cool can of beer, before putting the top back on and pressing the chilly can against his forehead.
"Ahhhhh", he moaned in pleasure.
Tabitha adjusted her sunglasses slightly, looking at Rictor over them, quirking an eyebrow. "'Almost'?" she asked.
"Uhm --" Rictor said, as he stood back up from the crouch and opened the can with a slight fizzing sound, and then looked over to Tabitha with a half-sheepish grin. "Well, *almost* 'almost'. Does that count?"
"I'll let it slide", she grinned in return, lifting her sunglasses back up a bit and resuming looking at Rictor thru them now, "if you toss me a can too."
"You *would* have to say that *after* I got back up again", he smiled, and shook his head, crouching briefly back down to get another can, and then tossing it over to the blonde. "The things I do for beautiful women." Then, he paused, and his grin widened. "And you."
"Ah, shut up, Ric!" Tabitha commented as she caught the can, and started opening it. "If it wasn't so friggin' hot, I'd blow your butt from here to Miam--" FSSSHHHHTT!!! "AUGH!!"
Rictor erupted in uproarious laughter as he watched the now beer-covered Tabitha take off her sunglasses and wipe the drink from her face, all the while glaring venomously at him. "I can't -- HA HA -- believe you -- GUFFAW -- FELL for -- SNICKER -- that!!! That's the oldest trick in the -- HEE HEE -- BOOK!!"
"Oboy", Sam said, and hid his face in his hand to conceal a smirk at the situation. "Ric, you do realize you just signed your death warrant?" he continued, looking up at the Mexican, grinning widely.
"Indeed", Shatterstar commented, as he triple-flipped backwards in the air, landing in a graceful crouch back on the sand before lashing out in a flurry of sword-slashed at the air in front of him.
"Angering Meltdown is far from a wise thing. The genetically engineered soldiers on my homeworld, at least", he went on, "are less prone to remember their humiliations."
"That's probably because if your rebel forces defeated and humiliated them, Mojo would have them killed..." Rictor remarked off-handedly, still grinning widely at Tabitha's predicament. "Kinda hard to come gunning for you to get revenge when you're dead, you know..."
Shatterstar paused in his exercise for a moment, and turned to look at Rictor. "Hmf. I had never considered that", he reported in a thoughtful voice, obviously pondering why he had never realized that before.
"That's because you no smart Dinobot, like ME, GRIMLOCK", Tabitha said, putting on a very low, very deep, growl of a voice, before her voice returned to the normal tones as she finished wiping her face clean, and turned a cold glare towards Rictor. "And now me, Grimlock is gonna get all Jurassic on your butt, Richter. You are so dead and you don't even know it yet."
"You make that sound like it's a bad thing", Rictor grinned innocently. "And what've you been doing, watching a Transformers marathon? I didn't know your cultural knowledge went past Melrose Place..."
"That does it!" Tabitha growled, and started running towards Rictor, a few golden energy globes appearing around her as she called upon her mutant powers, and then, pointing her hand forwards, launched them forward, to strike the ground at Rictor's feet and explode up a veritable sandstorm.
"AUGH!" Rictor cried out as she sand flew up into his eyes, and he stumbled around blindly. "Hang on, nobody move, I lost my contact..." he said while trying to clear his eyes.
"You don't HAVE contacts!" Tabitha growled, as she tackled the blinded Rictor to the sand, and then grabbed the Mexican's long brown hair, and shoved his face in the sand. "Say uncle!"
"Should we stop them?" Shatterstar asked Sam in his usual, calm and detached tone, one eyebrow rising slightly as he watched Tabitha yank Rictor's head up from the sand every now and then, before smashing it back down.
"Nah, he asked for it", Sam smiled as he watched, and shook his head, most of his concentration on the fighting pair as he reached for the cooler beside his towel, taking out a can of Coke and popped it open, taking a sip, before he asked, "She come any closer to beating you yet?"
"Darkchilde?" Shatterstar asked, his eyebrow rising further. Sam didn't have to nod, so he didn't, but Shatterstar nonetheless remained silent for a few moments -- uncomfortably so? -- before answering. "She is as fine a swordswoman as I have ever met. However, I am better. To answer your question, no, she has not made any progress in her skill."
"Mmhm", Sam nodded, as he took another sip, savoring on the taste as he pondered on how to put his next question. "How..." He paused for a moment, making certain he was about to say what he wanted to say. "How often d' you see her 'round?"
"She comes by a few times a week, unless the Fallen Angels have more pressing concerns", Shatterstar answered, and with a SCHTCK!, stuck his sword into the sand, and then vaulted atop it, stiffening his body, his feet pointing towards the sky as he balanced atop his sword, with just one hand holding the handle.
Sam blinked, obviously surprised. "That often??" he asked in a slightly astonished voice. "Ah only see her 'bout a few times a MONTH, 'r so."
Shatterstar simply shrugged with his free shoulder, while the other one was tense, the arm straightened downwards to balance on the handle of his sword. "Her pattern is usually quite predictable. She finds a suitable ambush site, waits for me there, attacks me, loses, and then teleports away. Is there something wrong with that?"
"Some of us, Shatty, would like ta SEE our friends once'n a while. Have a chat'n stuff. Life ain't just trainin' for all of us, you know", Sam commented, before adding, "We do things a bit different here on Earth, y'know", with a little grin.
"I am aware of that, Guthrie", Shatterstar replied, as his elbow slowly bent, bringing him downwards towards the ground, and then straightened in a lightning-fast motion, sending him upwards in a strong enough motion to pull the sword from the sand with a SCHUCKT! sound, as he flipped backwards in the air, and landed gracefully on his feet a dozen feet behind where the sword had been buried in the sand. "Have I not spent years here as a member of X-Force? I was, however, commending her on her exemplary dedication to the tactical side of our training routines. There is nothing wrong with honing one's hit and run approaches."
Sam sighed, and facepalmed silently. "Nevermind", he smiled faintly. Some things would never get thru to Shatterstar. He glanced in another direction, a few dozen feet down the beach, where sand was flying.
"UNCLE! UNCLE!!" Rictor cried out breathlessly.
Shatterstar didn't seem to hear the cries, as he sheathed his sword with an emotionless expression, still watching Sam. "A more intriguing question, however, is why you are not with Mirage and the others, seeing Wolfsbane off. I had understood there was an emotional bond between you and her?"
Sam looked back towards Shatterstar, as the Mojoworlder asked the question, starting to again ignore Rictor and Tabitha. What to answer? The truth? Or avoid telling the entire truth? He was quiet for a few moments, before his lips parted to give a reply.
*** STILL TWO DAYS AGO, MIAMI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT ***
"...'tis just tha' seein' ye all's been so WONDERFUL!" Rahne smiled brightly, but sniffled a bit nonetheless, as she clutched to Dani, hugging her tightly.
The Miami International Airport was bustling with people as the former New Mutants congregated in one of the hallways, saying their final goodbyes in front of the check-in point. Roberto and Douglock -- the latter morphed to look like an exact replica of an adult Douglas Ramsey -- were standing off to the side while Rahne was hugging Dani, while people passed them left and right.
"I know, Rahney", Dani smiled, and ruffled the Scot's short red hair softly, as she let her go. "Don't worry about it. I may not be crying now, but you should see me at weddings..."
Rahne nodded quickly with a small smile, while rubbing the moisture from her eyes, a bit embarrassedly. "Ye'll tell Sam A'm gaunae see him soon...?" She blushed a bit, a rosy glow rising to her cheeks. "Look a' me, A'm bawlin' like a wee bairn... This is why A told him not tae come... A didn't want him tae see me cryin'..."
"Shh, Furtop", Dani smiled. "You don't owe me any explanations. I'll tell him. Now say goodbye to the others, or you're going to miss your flight."
"Not that that's a problem", Roberto commented in his typical arrogant, nose-stuck-up-in-the-air tone. "I still don't understand why you didn't let me charter a Learjet for you..."
"SOME of us dinna like livin' on other peoples' money, 'Berto", Rahne replied while wiping her slightly reddened eyes dry. "A'm nae special person, A'll fly just like the rest o' the people."
"You'll always be a special person to us, Rahne", Douglock smiled, and reached out to take the wolfgirl into his arms, hugging her close. "Never forget that, okay?"
Dani glanced over towards Roberto as he did his half-pouting schtick because he didn't get to show off his money. "Remember how much YOU just looooved it when your trust fund was frozen and we lived off my money? You wanna make her feel like that?" she smiled to her so infuriatingly high-handed boyfriend.
"Hmp", Roberto simply commented, and crossed his arms over his chest, as he resumed waiting.
"A won', Dougie", Rahne smiled as she hugged the techno-organic composite being of Doug Ramsey and Warlock tightly. "A'll see ye soon, tae. A'll see ye all soon..." Her voice went a bit quieter, into a whisper. "Warlock? Can ye hear me?"
"Affirmative, SelFriendRahneWolfsbane", a voice came, a small monitor screen forming onto Doug's forehead, and on the screen, Warlock's face smiled at his former teammate. "Self expresses regret over the temporary nature of SelFriendRahneWolfsbane's visit. Query: When will Self be able to engage in physical interaction with SelFriend again?"
"Watch your tongue, Warlock", Dani remarked with a grin.
Rahne blushed slightly at Dani's remark, but smiled at the combined face of Doug and Warlock. "A'll be back next month...or September, if A won't get a chance t' come over next month... A miss ye both already!" she exclaimed, and gave Douglock a tight squeeze.
"We miss you too, Rahne. Take care of yourself", Doug said affectionately.
"Exclamation: Self does not wish SelFriendRahneWolfsbane to leave --" Warlock said, the corners of his mouth turning downwards in a sad expression.
"A'll call ye all soon's A get home tae Mummy an' let ye all know A got there safe..." Rahne said, and smiled sadly at Warlock. "A dinna WANT t' leave, either, bu' --"
"-- last call for flight 616, from Miami to London --" the airport's loudspeakers spoke over the ever-present noise of the crowd.
"-- but tha's muh call... A've got tae go..." Rahne continued with a sad smile, and then looked over to Roberto. "A'll see ye around, 'Berto", she said with a half-hearted wave of her hand. "Take care o' Dani f'r me..."
"Trust me", Roberto simply said. "NOTHING will hurt her while I live."
"You're making empty promises again, 'Berto", Dani smirked. "You need to get a grip on reality." Then, she looked over to Rahne. "What're you waiting for, Furtop?? Go! You'll miss your plane!" she smiled. "I'll see you soon! Run already!" She grinned, and added, "That's an order!"
"Okay", Rahne smiled, and then turned around, glancing once more over her shoulder, before going to the check-in point, passing it, and then heading towards the passageway leading to the plane. She turned around once more, and waved thru the crowd, and then disappeared into the passageway, heading to her plane.
"So much for that", Roberto then commented calmly, and looked towards Douglock. "Are you heading towards New York or the Island?" he asked, as he started walking down the corridor towards the exit of the airport, his eyes lingering for a few moments on a tall, leggy blonde who passed by.
Douglock and Dani followed Roberto, heading towards the exit with him. "We're not sure yet", Doug answered. "I'd love to stay at the island and get tanned, but", he grinned, "our techno-organic body doesn't tan." A brief shrug followed. "I dunno. There's a lot of data to sift thru back in New York, the stuff we got from the Supreme Intelligence..."
Dani frowned slightly. She hadn't ignored Roberto's little stray glance, but remained silent for the moment, waiting for the two Fallen Angels to work their plans out.
Roberto nodded once, thoughtfully. "Well, considering that there is no pressing matter at hand right now", he said, as he stepped thru the doors which automatically slid open before the trio, and out onto the sidewalk before the airport, "you might as well take some days off if you'd like. It's not like we're heading to Madripoor to track down a Farouk-possessed Xi'an right now. There's no urgent need for you to go thru the data. However, if you do not mind, I will ask Amara to do a quick glance thru the data, if you intend to stay at the Island for a few days."
"Nah, we don't mind", Doug replied. "As long as she leaves all the stuff intact, she can go thru it as many times as she wants."
"Self suggests extreme caution", came Warlock's voice from somewhere on Douglock's body. "LifeForm designate: Kree have developed extremely sophisticated electronic encryption security. If files are protected, incorrect approach may destroy files --"
"Hm", Roberto mused, and then shrugged. "On second thought, maybe I WON'T ask Amara to take a look at them. Better safe than sorry. You'll look into them when we finish our vacation here?"
"'Our'?" Doug asked, lifting an eyebrow. "I thought you were going back to New York."
"Yeah, me too", Dani commented, her eyebrows rising slightly in surprise, her expression a bit unsure whether it should be happy her boyfriend was staying, or frustrated that he always made these last-minute decisions without telling her anything.
"I have been contacted by a woman calling herself Poison", Roberto simply stated. "It seems our exploits in Key West made the news, and the woman made the effort Magneto didn't, to track down my anonymous check for Ms Forrester's funeral."
"Poison..." Doug murmured silently to himself. "Poison... Poison...ah!" He smiled slightly as data raced in his techno-organic eyes, and he danced thru it like a ballet artist in a perfectly choreographed play. "Superhuman. Miami based. First showed up almost a decade ago...mainly connected with Spider-Man. Cecilia Cardinale. Cuban. Has son Carlos, who has at least once been kidnapped by a mercenary called El Toro Negro to blackmail her... Super-strong, flies, invulnerable, can teleport, force blasts... Holy Moses, she's got it all... What would someone with all that power want from you, 'Berto?"
"I have no idea", Roberto replied. "But I intend to meet her tomorrow, and find out."
Dani frowned. (( Of course. Business. It would have been too much to hope for, that he would actually stay here because of ME. He's got such a way about him to make a girl feel important... ))
"She's mainly involved in taking down drug cartels, according to most of the intel I'm hacked into right now. Maybe she's in trouble?" Doug suggested. "Her kid get kidnapped again?"
"Maybe", Roberto said, and then glanced up and down the sidewalk. "Go thru police files. See if any recent underground events would give any leads connected to Ms Cardinale. Also try and see if you can hack into the systems of the most important crimelords down here. Perhaps their files might give us some clues."
"Piece of cake, 'Berto", Doug answered. "I'll do that on my trip from here to the Island. It'll give me something to keep myself from falling asleep during the flight", he grinned. "I'll call you back in an hour or three, and tell you what I found out?"
"Acknowledged", Roberto replied, and then started walking down the sidewalk towards the limo waiting nearby, glancing over his shoulder at Dani and Douglock, raising an eyebrow as Dani didn't follow him. "I'll talk to you soon, Ramsey."
"Bye, 'Berto -- Dani", Doug answered, and headed down the sidewalk into the opposite direction, to find the closest alley he could duck into, and drop his Doug Ramsey guise.
Roberto waited a few moments after Douglock left, watching his girlfriend, before asking, "Dani? Are you all right?"
"Yeah, just fine", Dani said with a dark, stormy frown, as she walked over to the limo, pushed away Roberto's hand when he tried to open the door for her, opened the door herself, and got into the car without another word.
Roberto quirked an eyebrow, and then closed the door behind Dani, and entered the back compartment of the limo from the other side, sitting down beside Dani, and giving the driver the signal to drive off after closing his door. "Dani?" he asked, now a slightly worried expression on his face.
"I hate you", Dani simply snapped, crossing her arms over her chest.
"Wh-- What??" Roberto was completely flabbergasted. "Dani, what did I DO?"
Dani didn't reply for almost a minute, as the limo drove on towards downtown Miami, simply staring ahead of her with a stormy expression. "Would you prefer someone tall, and blonde, and leggy, huh??" she then snapped, suddenly, out of nowhere. "Would you stay around me if I was like that??"
"What are you talking about??" Roberto asked, completely confused. The poor schmuck never even realizes when he does wrong. Doing wrong comes so naturally to him. "Dani, if I did something wrong --"
Dani's head turned to regard Roberto with an icy stare, but as she looked into the pleading chocolate eyes, her heart quickly melted, and she sighed quietly. "I'm sorry, 'Berto... I shouldn't have snapped at you. I'm...I'm a bit edgy." (( I always am, this time of the month... ))
"There's always a reason for snapping, Dani", Roberto said softly, and placed a hand over hers. "No matter how small. Tell me?" He looked quietly into her eyes. "Please? I want to understand you."
"It's nothing", Dani said quietly, lowering her eyes into her lap, as she now felt completely stupid having made such a fuss over...well, over *something*, but still...
"Tell me?" Roberto asked again, in a soft whisper, his hand taking hers, and squeezing it lightly.
"It's just that..." Dani bit her lip, and closed her eyes. "You still love Juliana, don't you?"
Roberto blinked, the words coming completely out of the left field. "Juliana??" he asked, feeling the hurt creep into his soul at the reminder of his first love, long dead.
"Juliana. Juliana Sandoval", Dani said, feeling slight hurt in her heart. "I can never forget her name, you know."
Roberto frowned, concernedly, looking at Dani, but her eyes were still lowered and closed. "Dani --" he just said, hesitantly.
"She was blonde. Just admit it, 'Berto -- every time you see a gorgeous blonde, you think if Juliana could have grown up to be like that, and if -- if -- you could --" She sniffed once, suddenly.
"Spirits, I'm making such a fool out of myself -- just let me out. Stop the car, please, 'Berto...?"
Roberto grabbed Dani's hand stronger, holding it tightly. "You're not going anywhere, Dani", he said sharply. "When I told Rahne I wouldn't let anything hurt you, I *meant* it. I'm not going to let you run away and be hurt. We resolve this now, for better or for worse..."
"...in sickness and in health...?"
"...til death do us part", Roberto whispered gently. "I love you, Danielle Moonstar. Juliana is a part of my past. You are a part of my present." He paused for a moment, and then leaned a bit closer. "And my future."
Dani nibbled on her lower lip nervously, as she looked at him, wondering what those words actually *meant*. "'Berto, I... Do you even want to be with me?" she asked softly.
Roberto's expression went serious at the words. "I do", he said without hesitation, and with conviction, and then closed his eyes for a moment. "And I know one way to prove it." Suddenly, he knelt onto the passenger compartment's floor, and took Dani's left hand, cradling it in both of his hands as he looked up into her eyes. Dani blinked slightly, her moist eyes widening a bit at the movement. Before she could say anything, Roberto was already continuing.
"I love you, Danielle Moonstar. We've known each other for what, over a decade now? You've always believed in me. Trusted in me. Even when we weren't lovers, we were friends. And I will always be your friend, no matter what. But I want to be more to you as well. I loved Juliana, with all my heart. I still do. I'll never forget her. I shouldn't. But she's a part of my past. In spite of the constant resurrections everywhere in our line of work, I doubt she is ever coming back. And if she were, it wouldn't matter. I've moved on. To you. I love you. My past was with Juliana. My present is with you. And I want to make my future with you. And I want you to know that I am dedicated to making that future with you. Will you marry me, Danielle Moonstar?"
Suddenly, Dani grabbed the front of Roberto's shirt, and yanked him up, bringing his face right in front of hers. "If this is a joke, I'm going to kill you", she said sharply.
"It isn't", Roberto replied, quietly, looking into Dani's eyes seriously.
"You're just doing this to make me feel better, then", Dani said, insisting on not believing this was happening.
"No", Roberto shook his head. "I have been considering this for quite some time. I love you, Dani. I want to be bound to you so I can never lose you."
"You have not. I don't believe it. Prove it?"
"All right", Roberto said in a whisper, and reached into his pocket, taking out a small, black velvet box, which he handed to Dani silently.
"'Berto..." Dani said breathlessly, her throat constricting. "This isn't what I think it is?" She took the box, and opened it, and sure enough, there was a ring. Her eyes widened at the huge diamond, almost an inch diameter.
"The ring is obsidian", Roberto said quietly, "to symbolize me, as I will always be wrapped around your finger. There is an inscription on the inside, it says --"
Dani took the ring from the box, to inspect it closer, looking at the miniature text, written in gold engraving, onto the shiny black stone. "-- From Roberto to Danielle. I'll be yours forever, if you'll be mine."
Roberto nodded. "In Portuguese, and in Cheyenne. The gold embroidery and the diamond are just to look flashy", he grinned. "I don't want you to have to be ashamed of showing a ring that is basically made of rock. My wife will never have to feel inferior to anyone."
"I want them off", Dani said quietly.
"I want them off, 'Berto. I'd never be ashamed of showing your ring, even if it were made out of nothing but string. I don't want all the flashy stuff. I don't want you to think of me as a wife you can parade around like a trophy, I don't want you to -- I don't want you to think of other people. Don't you get it, 'Berto? I love you, too. And I don't need this flashy stuff to prove it." She paused for a moment. "I just need you." Another moment of silence. "Spend time with me, instead of getting me expensive gifts." Again, she paused. "And a diamond this big is just tacky."
"Dani, there are certain standards my wife must maintain -- how will it look to Shaw, Osborn, Stark, Doom, T'challa -- I associate with important people. I can't let you be seen in a simple ring of rock. And as for the size --" he added "-- it will be bigger than anyone else's. That is all that matters."
"Typical man", Dani said with an icy glare, and put the ring back into the box, and handed the box back to Roberto. "Just like on our first date, huh?" Dani asked, tears now welling up in her eyes. "You want to show me all the best stuff, but I can't handle it! I can't live in your world, 'Berto!" she cried out. "I can't wear fancy dresses, or have fancy dinner parties, or anything! I can't be your high society wife! I don't know anything except being in jeans and eating at McBurgers! You KNOW that!"
"I --" Roberto started, and bit his lip. "Dani, I love you -- but I do have my life. I can't just turn my back on the important socializing a man in my position must do. As my wife, you are obligated to --"
"Then I won't be your wife!" Dani cried out, her heart breaking, and tears starting to stream down her cheeks. "I won't --" she then sniffled, quietly. "I won't...I won't --" Her shoulders shuddered, as she sobbed.
"Shut up. Just -- be quiet, 'Berto... You just gave me everything I've ever wanted -- and then jerked it from right in front of my face. I hate you. I'd kill you right now, if I didn't love you so much."
"Just shut up --"
*** NOW ONLY YESTERDAY, IN NICARAGUA ***
"Gimme a red."
A gloved hand handed a small red capsule to another hand, which brought the capsule to the lips of an Aryan man. Built like a stone wall, with a blonde buzzcut hair, he had the United States flag painted on his face, the blue rectangle with the stars over his left eye, and the stripes going downwards over his cheeks, and ending at lip level. "Our boys, our boys..." the lips chanted like a mantra, the blue eyes like those of a madman who could see it all, like the 'thousand yard stare' of Full Metal Jacket, as he put the red capsule into his mouth, and swallowed it.
"Look, Nuke, you're getting this all wrong. You're NOT in Vietnam, and you're NOT looking for M.I.A.s. This is Nicaragua", the pilot of the helicopter explained.
The words went in one ear and out the other. "Betty...I forgot --" the Aryan Nuke mumbled as he caressed the rifle in his hands. His upper body was bare, covered only by the ammo belts going across his chest and back. On his waist, a belt full of pouches. The pants, standard military olive drab, running down to a pair of black army boots. "She's got a good record --" he continued mumbling to himself as he looked down from the helicopter, at the ground three hundred feet or so below. "-- but I'm gonna do a better one." Pressing a button, the red LED counter at the side of the rifle went from 162 to 000.
"You'll get your chance, son", the pilot said, as the helicopter remained at the altitude of a few hundred feet, skimming over the jungle. "There are a lot of 'em down there."
"And they've got our boys --"
The helicopter passed quickly over a hidden camp in the jungle, and Nuke simply stepped out, into freefall. His rifle, Betty, started humming quietly in his hand, even as the red started taking effect. "Our boys --" Nuke mumbled under his breath, as he rapidly fell the first hundred feet.
The trigger goes down. Betty shoots out a shower of napalm towards a guard tower, and it explodes in a firestorm, three Nicaraguan rebels suddenly changing into human torches as they leap from the tower, away from the fire, and fall to their deaths. Betty knows how to take care of business.
She's counting. The red's taking full effect, adrenaline rushing in Nuke's veins as he lands in a crouch in the middle of the camp, and switches to bullets. The rebels drive towards him in jeeps, fire at him, and he opens fire back at them, holding Betty's trigger down as she spits out a hailfire of death towards the approaching jeeps.
He rolls quickly on the ground, a moving target, getting out of the way of bullets fired back at him as several jeeps drive towards him, rebels in them, and on the grounds, all opening fire towards him. But he doesn't blink. He flips a switch, and presses Betty's trigger, and Betty blasts the lead jeep with a rocket, causing it to go up in a fireball.
"Our boys --" he keeps mumbling under his breath, as he stands up again, and switches back to the bullets, and pulls the trigger down, sending an endless stream of destruction from Betty to the rebel camp around him. A red haze covered his mind, a determined expression on his face, Betty's muzzle glowing with the bright light of repeated flashes of firing, only one thought on his mind as he keeps lowering a shroud of blood and death over the rebel camp...
"Gimme a white."
A gloved hand handed a small white capsule to another hand, which brought the capsule to the lips of an Aryan man. Built like a stone wall, with a blonde buzzcut hair, he had the United States flag painted on his face, the blue rectangle with the stars over his left eye, and the stripes going downwards over his cheeks, and ending at lip level. "Where now?" Nuke asked, the blue eyes like those of a madman who could see it all, like the 'thousand yard stare' of Full Metal Jacket, as he put the white capsule into his mouth, and swallowed it.
"Ever been to Me-hee-co, son?"
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