Vigilance

Volume 5, Issue 1
Missing Pieces and Debts Repaid

PART ONE

While the citizens of the Earth continued to relax after the Olympian Gods had nearly destroyed them, the Avengers remained as vigilant as ever.

In an attempt to learn information Deadpool had about the operations of Nathaniel Essex, the Stand had previously stolen $18,000 from the mercenary’s bank account. He then set FAITH to monitor that bank account’s activity in an attempt to find Deadpool. The mentally unbalanced mercenary was harder to track than the Stand anticipated, and Deadpool had his own plan to get his money back.

Deadpool used a large amount of C-4 plastic explosive to assault a branch of the bank that the Stand had used to facilitate the unauthorized transfer of the $18,000. He took 24 hostages, and after issuing a series of demands on construction paper written in crayon, he began releasing them using a game of “Battleship,” which he played with the negotiators. The Avengers were called in, and went inside to get control of the situation.

The Stand attempted to argue with Deadpool that when he had offered him 20,000, he had never specifically said it would be dollars; Deadpool made a counter proposal that if he wasn’t paid, he’d blow up the hostages. The Stand used his powers over matter to transform a wooden table into gold kruggerands, and the debt was settled.

Deadpool charged the Avengers fifty dollars for the additional information he had regarding Essex; the mad geneticist had at least two other hidden laboratories (locations unknown) and that he had managed to save at least one of the strange, monstrous creatures that he had created, which could duplicate the power of anything they had consumed (which, at one point, had included Deadpool’s arm).

The Avengers decided that, despite Deadpool’s belief that he had been wronged, taking a number of hostages in a bank and covering them with C4 was not an offense they could just ignore. Using a small-range EMP device of his design, the Stand disarmed all the detonators, and Deadpool grumpily, but peacefully, was taken into custody.

PART TWO

One Week Earlier

Kate Young, a 22 year old waitrees, was chained to a wall, a gag in her mouth. She was tired, cold, and terrified. An IV drip was attached to her arm. In the room with her was a metal surgical table, on which lay Donald Carson, covered with a towel but chained to the table, breathing in anesthesia gas through a mask being held over his face. The man holding the mask was a thin, gaunt man, dressed in surgical scrubs; the Surgeon. Once the victim was unconscious, the Surgeon began marking up the body with a marker, and described out loud and in detail the different incisions and amputation techniques that he was going to perform.

The Surgeon picked up the scalpel, about to make an incision on Donald’s knee, and Kate whimpered in fear and looked away. The Surgeon roared “NO”, and rushed to her. He grabbed her jaw and pulled her face so she looked directly at him. He held the scalpel in his other hand, threatening to cut her face. “Don’t look away,” he commanded. He motioned to Donald with the scalpel, and his eyes seemed to soften, almost with compassion. “He can’t feel this! He won’t feel any of this! He’s never going to wake up! His pain is over.” Then, as quickly as they had softened, his eyes became cruel points. “But you,” he snarled. “You have to watch! You have to see what happens to him. You need to know what I do to him!” He moved his masked mouth against her ear, and she felt his garlicky breath on her cheek. He whispered, “you have to watch, because you’re next!”

Justice was in contact with Doc Holly Day. A serial killer, one who left body parts (and sometimes torsos with heads) had killed several victims, and toxicology reports suggested that the victims were alive while they were dismembered. Justice was unable to find any evidence to track him down, and called on her friend to help her search. Justice indicated that she was growing a bit sweet on Steam, and Doc invited the young hero to join them on the search.

For hours the heroes searched the darkened streets of New York City, from Borough to Borough, going over the sites that the body parts had been left in an attempt to find additional clues. While comparing crime scenes to police photos, Doc Holly Day noticed something peculiar; the body may have been randomly scattered across the city, but the parts all pointing to a specific area of the Bronx. This location, half a city block of dilapidated buildings, included a City Morgue that hadn’t been used in thirty years.

Doc Holly Day used her telepathic ability and located the minds of three people in the basement; one sleeping, one awake and terrified, and one predatory. The heroes split up, with Justice taking one stairwell down and Steam and Doc taking the second. Doc and Steam came across the Surgeon’s operating room first. Steam disarmed the Surgeon with a targeting blast of fire, and then Doc subdued him. The victim they had saved from being dismembered was Kate Young. The person chained to the wall was a young man, Roger Anderson. Both victims were physically unharmed.

Justice entered the room and asked Doc for permission to kill the Surgeon. Sorely tempted, Doc relied on her morality, and instead called the police. As he was being taken into custody, the Surgeon stared at Doc’s face. “You have beautiful eyes. You’ll make a wonderful Watcher.” Doc Holly Day asked the NYPD’s lead detective on scene, Detective Mario Belletonio, to have copies of all psychological evaluations of the Surgeon sent to her for her review.

PART THREE

While researching the Legend of the Black Mask near the city of Reims in France, Vessel stumbled across a camouflaging force-field. He called in for some support from the Avengers, and FAITH used the Vigilance’s teleporter to transport the Stand, Nightingale and Nu to Vessel’s location. While unable to get a proper energy reading from the force-field, the Stand recognized it as technology they had encountered only once before; technology used by Kang the Conqueror.

Vessel was able to use his energy absorption powers to open a small hole in the force-field, and the Avengers went within. There, they saw six figures and a variety of unrecognizable technology. Four of the figures were humanoid robots. The remaining two were revealed to be Kang and Ghost.

After some obnoxious and haughty claims by Kang, Ghost flew into action, using his phase-shifting powers to strike at the Avengers. The Avengers quickly dispatched the robots, but found Ghost and Kang more difficult. While Nu confronted the self-named Conqueror, the others tried to deal with Ghost. His intangibility left him immune to most of their attacks, and he managed to strike Nu, Nightingale and Vessel. His attacks were not devastating, his hand passing though their bodies, but he did make them feel as if they had the “wind” knocked out of them, like their internal systems had a spasm.

Nu found that Kang’s personal force-field was stronger than it was the first time they fought. Kang ignored Nu’s attempts to strike him, but he learned that one does not ignore the granddaughter of Heracles. With the might of Olympus, Nu crushed Kang’s force-field and demolished his armor, removing it from his stupefied body like one would peel a shrimp.

Fearful that the Black Mask legend pertained to him, the Stand managed to avoid getting hit by Ghost until the local lighting was shut down, trapping the heroes in total darkness. Ghost took advantage of this and struck the Stand, before flying up above and disappearing. Kang, now powerless, was going to be locked up. Vessel opened a hole in the force field, through which Nightingale carried Kang. Once she was outside, she called SHIELD to prepare them for a new prisoner delivery, when Vessel’s ability to hold open the force-field abruptly weakened, and he knew he was barely able to hold open a small opening. The other Avengers felt their own abilities begin to feel drained. Knowing she could not teleport through the force-field if it were closed, Nightingale quickly teleported in through the hole. She had hoped to gather all the Avengers together to free them before Vessel’s could no longer hold open the exit, but the Avengers were too scattered and she was unable to release any of them.

Realizing that Ghost was still somewhere inside the force-field, the Stand once again proved himself to be the smartest man on the planet by using the futuristic technology to craft a one-shot device that would force Ghost back into phase with everyone else. While Ghost described that Kang had planned for their interference and hired him to trap the Avengers in the ancient past after being powerless, Ghost de-cloaked Kang’s Timeship and started the process to transport the Avengers backwards in time. At this point, the Stand blasted Ghost with the phase-shifting cannon, and Ghost fell to the ground. He cried out just as the Timeship performed as commanded.

The Avengers, along with Ghost, suddenly found themselves over 1,600 years before their time.

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Volume 5, Issue 2
History Comes To Life

In the present day, Doc Holly Day responded to FAITH’s distress call and traveled to France, ensuring a de-armored Kang the Conqueror was arrested by the authorities. VSI Corrections took custody of the time-traveling villain. While trying to assess how to handle the situation of the missing Avengers, she received an urgent call from a close friend of Nightingale. His name was Special Agent Aloyisius Pendergast, and he was currently assigned to a security detail in London. A ceremony involving the newly born Prince was scheduled to take place the following day, and Agent Pendergast had reason to believe that the Joker was in London, and was planning something sinister. With no full-time Avengers around, Doc resolved to do what she could to help stop the murderous clown.

The Stand, Nu, Vessel and Nightingale, having arrived in the past, quickly worked to gather information. Ghost, who was also transported into the past, was questioned about when they were and why their powers were diminishing. Ghost held out on revealing the details, but Nightingale’s powers of hypnosis proved stronger than his will. Ghost revealed that because Time Travel violated the Law of Conservation of Energy, all time travelers had to be equipped with a “Time Displacement Unit,” a device which maintained an energy field allowing a person to be displaced in time. Ghost also revealed that the Time Displacement Units created for each Avenger included power-nullification technology.

Ghost indicated that time travelers have their TDU implanted within their body. Ghost’s is located in his left arm. When Ghost had attacked them while phased, he was actually placing TDUs in the Avengers. Rather than in their arms, Ghost, had implanted TDUs in there chests near their hearts. The idea was that it would be nearly impossible to safely cut out the units when trapped without appropriate medical technology. The implanted TDUs had energy enough to function for approximately three years. Once the devices failed, the Avengers would return to their present, but three years hence from when they went back in time.

The Stand analyzed Ghost’s equipment, and calculated he could use the suit and its power source to create an energy field which would short-out the TDUs. He was reasonably certain he could nullify at least one, and perhaps even two, devices. With his powers fading, however, it would be risky to mold the TDU out of a person’s chest.

The Avengers gained their bearings and found themselves close to a quarry, currently the gathering point of a number of refugees. Ghost managed to gather enough clothes and blankets so the Avengers could be adequately disguised, but Nu refused to hide her wings, instead taking to the skies to avoid having her appearance upset the people. Nightingale and the Stand used Ghost’s specialized translation ear implants to communicate with the people. The refugees were being led from the nearby city of Riems through a tunnel network that led through the city sewers and out into the quarry. The person leading them was a large, physically unattractive woman named Eutropia. The Avengers recognized her name based on Vessel’s research on the Black Mask.

While Vessel stood watch over Ghost, and Nu flying above, Nightingale and Vessel followed Eutropia. Realizing that he needed to hide his belongings in a granite block as they had been found 1600 years later, Vessel used his fading molding power to create a granite block of the appropriate size, and to store his equipment with it. He wrote a note to himself, as he apparently had before, but in-between the words “must avoid a paradox,” he wrote “do not trust Ghost.” Moments later, he recalled reading those lines on the note from the past, but not knowing who Ghost was until the confrontation with Kang was inevitable, was unable to make use of that information. It did, however, prove to him that changes to the past could have some effect on the future. With the Stand’s equipment (minus an “Instapatch” and two smoke bombs) safely stored away, the two followed Eutropia and witnessed some of the events in the City of Riems.

The Stand and Nightingale watched from seclusion, desperate to help but terrified of altering the world’s history and creating a damaging paradox, as Bishop Nicasius of Riems was beheaded on the steps of the Cathedral. Even more disturbing, when the barbarian who killed the Bishop turned in their direction, he appeared to be nearly identical to Vandal Savage, filling Nightingale with concern that he was also a time traveler. The Savage look-alike left, and the two Avengers witnessed the remaining barbarians break down the cathedral door and kill the Florentius and Jucundus. Most of the barbarians moved on to further secure the city, but two stayed behind. The Stand and Nightingale then watched as Eutropia appeared in the Cathedral from somewhere behind the altar and was attacked. While the legend stated that Eutropia died with the others, they were surprised to see her instead kill her attackers and disappear back behind the altar.

Nu, unwilling to allow people to suffer despite the concerns that changing history could have a dramatic effect on the timestream, rescued a woman and her children, defeating an attacker and flying them to the quarry. The woman worshiped Nu as an angel of God. The Avengers regrouped with Ghost, and the Stand shared his plan. He suggested that, before his powers faded completely, he might be able to mold out the TDU from at least one of their bodies. HE would then use Ghost’s equipment to disable two of the remaining TDUs. If possible, he would then disable his own, but if not, he would go into hiding and wait out the three years until his TDU shut down. While reluctant to agree with that, they were willing to test the theory.

Ghost was the first test subject, as his TDU was located in his forearm and not near a major organ. The process was painful, but the Stand molded out his TDU, and Ghost immediately vanished, apparently returning to his place in time. Knowing of Vessel’s immortality, he became the next test subject. Unfortunately, while the TDU was extracted, Vessel’s body died. Whether Vessel would animate a body in their current time or back from whence they came remained unknown. However, it became clear that the Stand’s powers could not safely perform the extraction on the others. A bit later in the evening, Eutropia, who notice that the Stand was wearing a black mask he had created (believing he would likely have to live up to the legend himself), stripped him of his mask, claiming that to disguise himself as a bandit was unwise in such a time of despair. Eutropia walked off, Black Mask in hand, to mourn her brother and her friends.

That night, Nu flew off again, and decided that, even though she was weakened, she would stop the barbarians to the best of her ability. Annoucing herself as the Angel of Death, she beat senseless several groups of Vandals before finding a group of leaders. She beat them down as well, including the one that looked like Vandal Savage. She carried the look-alike’s unconscious body outside of the city to the main Vandal encampment, and threw it down as a challenge before King Gunderic. Nu, again calling herself the Angel of Death, demanded that the Vandals leave the city. Gunderic at first was intimidated, and vowed to leave the city within two days. Nu, recognizing that mobilizing a force of 20,000 would take significant time agreed, but threatened the king that she would hold him to that. Hearing grumbles of his men, Gunderic emboldened himself and instead attempted to insult and show his men that he would not listen to a “Roman Bird Woman.” Nu promptly battered the King into defeat, and he pledged to leave the city immediately. As he called for his troops to mobilize, Nu flew back to the Avengers.

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Volume 5, Issue 3
The Sound and the Fury

Part 1

In the present day, Doc Holly Day and Steam were flown to London via a Quinjet piloted by Ben Grimm. They met up with Special Agent Pendergast and his liaison with Scotland Yard, Detective Inspector John Smith. The Royal Family was holding a time-honored traditional ceremony introducing the newly born Prince to the people of the United Kingdom, and Pendergast suspected the Joker was planning an attack.

The Clock Tower at Parliament, and the home to Big Ben, was under renovations. Because of this, the bells were out of commission, but a massive speaker system had been put in play the tolling of the bells at noon, a critical part of the ceremony. Agent Pendergast suspected that Joker and his men had infiltrated the Clock Tower, which had line of sight and was within the shooting range of a master marksman like Joker.

Steam, Doc, Pendergast and Smith went in and immediately subdued a gunman in disguise as a construction worker. His fears confirmed, Doc Holly Day began circling the outside while invisible, searching for a sniper’s nest, while Steam and the two police officers took an interior route. After a gun battle, with a quick save by Doc, it was decided that Steam and Doc would immediately fly to the belfry, while Smith and Pendergast attempted to sneak to the top.

Doc and Steam flew to the belfry and saw both Joker and Harley Quinn. Steam knocked out Harley with a mighty blow, and Doc subdued the Joker. But for a bunch of Chipotle wrappers, a loose CD and a giant balloon-like object, there was nothing out of the ordinary, and no weapons. The Police Officers used disguise to bluff their way past the guards, and arrived at the top. Joker tried to get who he perceived to be his men to help him, but the police officers immediately made it clear that they were on the side of the super heroes.

Joker refused to reveal what his plan was, but just as Agent Pendergast figured out it had something to do with the loudspeakers, the clock struck noon. Rather than tolling bells, the sounds were that of prolonged flatulence. Joker fell over with laughter, and the heroes, super and not, were deafened and reeling from the noise. Thanks to ear plugs, Joker was able to act enough to free himself, but rather than killing the heroes, he reveled in the execution of his joke. The final, twelfth toll, however, was not audible. Instead, the balloon, more like a giant Whoopee Cushion, filled the belfry with a toxic laughing gas.

Steam was the only one able to resist the effects, and imprisoned Joker in a cage of flame. As the effects of the gas began to take its toll, Steam had FAITH teleport the heroes to a hospital while he waited for the SWAT forces to take Joker into custody. Joker took an opportunity to shoot the still-unconscious Harley Quinn, knocking her from the belfry. Steam rescued Harley from death, and after a pursuit, let the Joker go in order to save more lives.

Doc Holly Day, S.A. Pendergast, and D.I. Smith survived the poison gas, and despite that the Joker escaped, the only people that died were the Joker’s henchmen.

Part 2

The Avengers Nightingale, Nu and the Stand felt they were running out of time. The Stand confronted Nu about her apparent lack of respect for Earth’s history. Nu asserted that history or no, she could not just allow atrocities to happen which she knew she could prevent. The Stand became increasingly worried about changes to the timeline; with the Vandals retreating from the city instead of being driven out by the Black Mask, what impact would that have on history?

In the Vandal camp, the King Gunderic’s chief adviser Vandar Adg, who had been earlier knocked unconscious by Nu and thrown down as part of her challenge to the King, had recovered. He had been promised governorship over Riems at the conclusion of the siege, but with the Vandals retreating, his prize went with it. King Gunderic refused to change his mind, and Adg challenged him for leadership of the Vandals. Adg killed Gunderic and became King. He ordered the Vandals to return to Riems, and to raze the city.

As the Vandals returned to the city, the Avengers went into action. With history already off-track, the Stand determined it would be less of an impact to drive out the Vandals rather than have the city destroyed. He and Nightingale entered the city through the secret tunnels, and worked to defeat the Vandals and rescue the citizens.

Nu flew back and confronted King Adg. When he refused to honor the agreement that King Gunderic had made, Nu, again claiming to be the Angel of Death, challenged him for leadership. The two fought, and while Adg fared better this time, he was still defeated. Nu demanded that the Vandals leave, but did not take the mantle as Queen. Instead, Gunderic’s half-brother, Genseric, took leadership of the Vandals. Adg, while not dead, had been defeated in a leadership challenge and so could no longer command the respect of the Vandals. King Genseric called for an immediate retreat, and Riems was saved a second time.

With the risk of future fighting gone, the Avengers turned their thoughts toward returning home. The Stand, using the remnants of Ghost’s armor, created two devices which could neutralize the TDUs in their chests. But that still left one, and after much discussion, it was decided that one of them would have to undergo surgery to destroy the remaining TDU. Due to Nu’s tough cellular structure (though currently weakened) and that the Stand would need to make micro adjustments to the TDU disrupters, it was determined that Nightingale would have to undergo the surgery. They enlisted Eutropia to gather ingredients for a makeshift anesthetic, and once administered, the Stand quickly and effectively destroyed the TDU in Nightingale’s chest, his last InstaPatch used to slow the blood loss, and Nightingale was instantly transported to the future.

With Nightingale gone, the Stand used the TDU disrupters, first on Nu and then on himself, and both found themselves transported to their appropriate place in history.

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Volume 5, Issue 4
Changes Both Savage and Awesome

The return of the Avengers to their rightful place in the time stream triggered a cascade of small changes to the layout to history. A summary of the changes is at the end of this Adventure Log.

The hero group, now named the Defenders, secured the release of Nightingale and returned, via Quinjet, to Defender Mansion, where they were greeted by Awesome Man. Nightingale consulted with the Stand about her private matter. The Stand worked to create a device to assist in tracking “similar anomolies,” although without satellite scanning capabilities, the range would be effective only within a few miles.

Steam and Doc Holly Day and responded to a possible biological threat; the crew of a tank truck was attempting to administer a chemical into the New York City’s water supply. The heroes quickly took control of the situation, and identified the chemical was the property of VSI Technologies. One of the men apprehended in the situation admitted that he had been instructed by the head of security, Raymond Hollister, to pump the tank into the water supply.

The fluid that was going to be dumped into the water supply was analyzed by Awesome Man, and found to be containing a variant of the flu virus, but one which had Palatasian DNA signitures; effectively, a Palatasian flu. While it did not appear to be a particularly dangerous virus, it would have appeared to be a flu that originally was transmitted from contact with the alien race. Awesome Man shared his findings with the Stand, but the lead Defender was mostly occupied assisting Nightingale. Defenders Nu, Doc and Steam went to the headquarters of VSI Technologies to meet with Security Chief Hollister, and Hollister said that he received his orders in a very unusual manner – through Marilynn MacKenzie, the assistant to Chief Operating Officer Vandal Savage. Shortly after this admission, the Defenders were summoned upstairs to meet Ms. MacKenzie. Ms. MacKenzie provided information that the vial of chemicals they Defenders recovered had been stolen, thanked them for their assistance, and denied any involvement. When the Defenders made it clear that Ms. MacKenzie’s answers were insufficient, they were invited to meet with Vandal Savage himself.

In Savage’s opulent office, he denied any involvement, but his recognition of Nu was apparent. Nu informed Savage that his activities were unacceptable, and that he would be held accoutable for any criminal activity with which his company involved itself, before leaving his office and ignoring his attempt to get her attention. After Nu left, Vandal Savage presented Doc Holly Day and Steam with a pair of vials, something which he referred to as an ’insurance policy." The vials were taken back to Defenders Mansion and analyzed. One vial was a water sample of the Island of Amazonia, which had an inert chemical in it. The second vial contained a non-toxic chemical. However, the nature of the second chemcial was such that, were it introduced to the inert chemical from the Amazonian water supply, it would catalyze a chemical change which would result in a poison lethal to the Palatasian race. It became clear that Vandal Savage not only knew how to kill the entirety of the alien species on Earth, but that he had already laid the groundwork for the extermination.

Vessel awoke in a morgue in Rio de Janeiro, now in the body of a middle aged Brazilian woman, and after escaping the hospital, arranged for a pickup via Quinjet.

The following is a summary of the historical changes which resulted from the Avengers adventure in the past.

The First Change

Bruce Campbell overheard a couple of Comic-Con attendees make a disparaging remark about some of the “regular” guests at these conventions. Mr. Campbell, exhausted at the time from a long day of meet-and-greets, photo ops and a Q/A Panel for the final season of Burn Notice, decided that he would limit the number of conventions he attended to two per year. As such, Doc Holly Day will not have as many opportunities to see and/or interact with him at the conventions she attends as an artist.

The Second Change

is insignificant and unnoticeable to the Avengers, but considered “neutral” with respect to one or more of them. This change is that that the current President of Zambia only had seven children instead of eight. It had no impact on his politics or his election to office.

The Third Change

The chief architect of the Biology Wing of Empire State University decided to give an extra two feet of space in the refrigeration room for the DNA samples. Storage was increased by 3%, but the space had too be taken out of two of the staff offices. The width of Dr. Gail Greyson’s office at ESU is one foot more narrow than before, resulting in it feeling a bit more cramped.

The Fourth Change

A chemist for Ace Chemical came home from work early to find her husband in the midst of an affair. She took her children to her parent’s house to stay, and when at work the next day, was distracted enough that she over-diluted a batch of reagent. The error was discovered months later when the majority of it was found to be ineffective to create fertilizer by a mid-Atlantic agriculture plant, and all the barrels on hand were returned for a full refund. One drum had vanished, however, stolen from the loading dock. It was this barrel of reagent that the Joker used to create his plastic explosive on his first “appearance,” and as a result, the explosives were of insufficient power to convert the clown statues into bombs. No-one was injured or killed, and the Joker was quickly taken into custody. The Avengers were publicly credited with stopping an act of domestic terrorism.

The Fifth Change

Herman Schultz, a small-time hood tired of being nothing more than a purse snatcher, learned of a weapons manufacturer called “The Tinkerer.” For $50,000, the Tinkerer agreed to equip Schultz with enough power that he could rob a bank and escape unharmed. Desperate for the money, Schultz began robbing people shortly after they left an ATM or a bank, following them a few hundred yards before confronting them with a gun. Schultz saw a mark, but something felt wrong about it. Rather than going for the easy score, he passed his mark by, and thus avoided getting arrested by an undercover police officer. A few blocks later, he saw Mary McPherson leaving a bank, stuffing a envelope thick with cash into her purse. Schultz attacked her, dragging her into an alley and robbed her of her life’s savings. Now with all the money he needed, Herman Schultz would go on to become The Shocker. Mary, without the $20,000 she needed for the Power Broker, never obtained super powers, and thus never became the criminal Titania. Nu and Mary continued on as a couple, and so Nu never pursued a relationship with the Palatasian Saralayne. While Nu’s relationship with Mary is good, it’s nowhere near as emotionally satisfying as Nu’s same-species relationship.

The Sixth Change

The Stand decided not to kill the Palatasian-Human hybrids on Dr. Malus’s island. As a result of this decision, the hybrids were taken into custody by SHIELD. Without the death of the hybrids to cloud his judgment, Awesome Man chooses not to kill Bruce Wayne, and instead arrests Joe Chill. Without that death weighing on his conscience, he reveals the location of sufficient titanium to create the conduit used to drive off Galactus, and therefore Awesome Man is still alive and part of the Avengers.

The Seventh Change

After the defeat of Galactus, a small yet international xenophobic movement went came into existence, gaining notoriety with the accusation that instead of serving as warning about the Devourer of Worlds, the Palatasians had led him to Earth. While marginalized, the xenophobia served to tip the political scales enough that, instead of being given an island with a valuable mineral resources, they were given a sustainable, but non-valuable, island in the Carribean, Saba. The damaged Palatasian refugee ship was likewise not allowed to be returned to the Palatasians. As the wreckage crashed in the Queen Maud Land territory of Antarctica, a territory claimed by Norway, the Norwegian government has claimed ownership. The United Nations is currently leveling sanctions against Norway for failure to open the wreckage up to the International community for study. Norway, not having the resources to properly assess the nature of the wreckage, contracted out to a private company Jorden Forst (Earth First), a subsidiary of VSI Technologies.

As the crashed ship was never returned to the Palatasians, it was not in turn given to the Avengers, and so the Vigilance does not exist. The Avengers still live in the Mansion in New York City; because without the Vigilance, Thinker did not have a particle cannon to destroy it. Instead, his plot to destroy the Avengers involved large bombs in the Mansion and at the SHIELD Headquarters in New York. The Avengers managed to disable the bomb in the mansion, but the bomb at SHIELD Headquarters was detonated, killing Nick Fury and over three hundred other employees and operatives. Maria Hill is now the director of SHIELD, and she is less well disposed toward the Avengers than Fury.

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Volume 5, Issue 5
Revelations

After confiding with the Stand about her current condition, the clone of the original Nightingale performed some testing and analysis and determined that if she did not find a way to stabilize her DNA, she would perish in 17 days. Even with expensive tests, serums and trials, a cure would be nearly impossible to find without help. In addition, the visions she had were bringing her closer to the conclusion that if the original Nightingale wasn’t rescued soon, the results could be disastrous.

Nightingale called all the Defenders together: the Stand, Doc Holly Day, Nu, Vessel, Awesome Man, and Ben Grimm. She revealed to them that she was indeed a clone. She explained that she had limited time for a cure, but also wanted to find the Original Nightingale and free her. Not one Defender hesitated to offer help.

Nightingale, with the help of Ben Grimm and the Stand, recruited Reed Richards, Curt Connors and Hank McCoy to assist with seeking a cure. In addition, when the Defenders determined that a joint strike on the three Essex cloning facilities they had identified would be better than striking one after the next, the X-Men and SHIELD’s Fantastic Force were recruited to form strike teams.

Over the next several days, the three sites were scouted. Nu flew low and fast over North Korea, evading detection and identifying a remote military base as the most likely location. SHIELD discovered a oil platform, moored to a decomissioned Russian icrebreaker ship in the Arctic Circle. Meanwhile Wolverine tracked through the savage land to find an industrialized set of caves in a village of half-men.

The strike teams were chosen. Nu, Nightingale, Doc Holly Day, Vessel and Steam would hit the North Korean site. Cyclops, Wolverine, Iceman, Siryn and Colossus would go against the Savage Land, and the. The Fantastic Force, consisting of Captain America, Sue Storm, Johnny Storm, Mockingbird and Dum Dum Dugan would move against the arctic location. Plans were drawn up, and the teams made ready to attack.

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