Captain America #1

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Captain America #1

Post  Paul E. Schultz on Wed Jul 25, 2012 4:14 pm

Captain America #1
"Lone Gunman Theory, Part I"
By Paul E. Schultz

Writer's note: The events in this story take place shortly before Avengers #8...

The motorcycle barreled down the runway, engine screaming, throttle wide open as its two riders desperately chased the drone plane screaming just ahead of them. Around them, the military base was little more than smouldering ruins, the aftermath of a high-stakes battle between Allied forces and highly-trained, heavily-armed Axis agents lead by a tactical mastermind in a crimson hood. Beyond the runway, the English Channel flowed unchanged as it had for centuries, unconcerned and unsympathetic to the plights of Man.

"It's no use!" cried the motorcycle's driver, wind whistling violently past his ears, rustling his blond hair. "We're too heavy!"

As they gained on the unmanned plane, it's wheels began to leave the blacktop, inching slowly, steadily upward.

"No! Don't stop, Cap!" called the young man behind him. "We can reach it!"

"We're too late, Bucky! We'll have to go after it in another plane!"

"Then, I guess I'll just lighten the load!"

To his horror, Steve Rogers, known better over the last few, bloody, war-torn years as Captain America watched his long-time partner leap from the motorcycle to the wing of the drone.

****

"You have five minutes, Stark," said Winter Soldier, his tone as emotionless and cold as his expression. "After that, you leave here and never come back. You don't get to be here. Ever! Say goodbye to Steve and disappear before I find you,"

With that, he left the sterile, dimly-lit hospital room without so much as a glance at the man kneeling on the tiled floor. Once the door slowly closed, Tony Stark stood. He looked down at the broad-shouldered figure lying silently upon the bed.

"If you ever do wake up," said Stark, "you're gonna have to explain how you put up with that pompous, little twerp all those years."

Rogers's blank, slumbering expression seemed to answer him.

"Yeah, I know," said Stark. "Puberty is hell."

"Anybody ever tell you you look like that guy from The Breakfast Club?" came a woman's soft voice from behind him.

Stark turned to see the woman in the Navy blue bodysuit passing ghostlike through the wall and into the room. Her long, reddish-blond hair trailed behind her, cascading about her shoulders as she came to a stop. Her eyes were obscured behind the ruby visor she wore. Gloved hands came to rest upon her hips. Both wrists were adorned with six inch, golden disks.

"You're a much better actor, though," she said. "All that crying and kneeling? Was it really necessary?"

"Whoever you are," said Stark, unmoved, "Black Widow wants her bodysuit back."

"Better like this?" she asked, unzipping the front of her bodysuit down to the tip of her sternum.

"Uh..."

She smiled patiently and stepped up to the unconscious Rogers.

"Am I supposed to be impressed?"

"You should be, Stark. They're real."

"Not that! Dimensional phase discontinuity is sophomoric tech at best. I dabbled with it back in junior high."

She looked her question to him and he shrugged. "I recognized the smell. Kinda like the smell of an electric space heater when it kicks on for the first time in months. Voelker reeked of it. You do to. Last I heard, Sidewinder retired. Who are you? His protege? I gotta admit, the guy's got good taste in...students. What do you want?"

"The same thing you do, Stark," she said. She gently ran the backs of her fingers along the side of Rogers's face, softly asking no one, "Why is it I always fall for the boy scouts?"

"So, I'm guessing dinner is out of the question?"

"This isn't an L.M.D.," she said, reeling back suddenly. "What is it?"

"Trade secret," said Stark. "S.H.I.E.L.D.'s little robots are as far removed from my masterpiece there as cavemen are from us. If you came here to finish the job, you're gonna leave let down. Short of cutting it open, even the doctors around here won't even be able to tell, until the real Mr. Rogers wakes up or we find out who's responsible for all this. This is a public hospital, for God's sake. Even under the name Grant Gardner, it would only be a matter of minutes before every two-bit Batroc the Leaper would be trying to get at him. I'm pretty sure any bad guy worth his salt has already figured it out. Which brings us to you? In about a minute, there's going to be a very pissed-off, angsty cyborg coming through that door. He already hates me. I'm pretty sure he's gonna feel the same about you, too. It's your move, beautiful."

For a moment, she didn't speak, then: "You mentioned something about dinner?"

****

The drone plane buzzed over the English Channel as the two figures struggled for their grasp against the ravaging winds.

"Bucky, let go! Zemo rigged this plane to blow! Why else would he have strapped us to it?"

"You're right, Cap! I can see the fuse in the cockpit from here! It's gonna blow!"

To his terror, Captain America felt his grip slip from the wing of the experimental plane. Wind and gravity took hold of him, seemingly pulling him in an unseen grip.

"Jump, lad!" he called against the air current rushing over him. "Jump!"

"I can't!" cried his young partner. "I'm hooked! I--"

The air around him became a ball of fire, thunder and speeding shrapnel, unleashing hell upon the sky over the channel. The forced air of the explosion knocked the wind from Captain America's lungs, rendering him instantly unconscious. A heartbeat later, his body hit the waves below, trailed by a shower of burning plane fragments.


****

"What have you got for me, Chuck?" asked Detective Taylor, stepping into the small apartment. "Jesus! Somebody crack a window!"

Detective Napier stepped up to his partner and, glancing at his note pad, said, "Got a John Doe. Looks like suicide. The landlord called us this morning after numerous complaints about the smell. From the looks of things, the guy's been dead awhile."

Detective Taylor took in his surroundings as the other officer spoke. Crime Scene techs moved about the little living room along with a handful of uniformed officers. Lights from a number of cameras flashed, punctuating Napier's words as he spoke them. Taylor's eyes fell upon the nearly-headless body lying on the floor next to a straight-backed wooden chair. The body wore a white bathrobe, like the kind found in upscale hotels, stained in blood. The floor under the corpse was covered with nylon tarps. A .45 automatic lay near the body. On a small table near the room's only window was a neatly-folded stack of clothes. With the tip of his pen, Taylor nudged through the stack. From the custom-fitted shirt at the top, to the designer underwear at the bottom, the evidence pointed to money. And something else.

Napier continued, "We talked to the landlord. She said the guy checked in here about seven months ago, paid each month in cash and never caused a scene."

"Until now," muttered one of the photographers.

Napier chuckled in spite of himself and said, "The guy was registered as Theodore Calloway, but we've already run the name and found nothing. All of his identification is missing, so he's a John Doe for now."

Taylor found himself drawn to the blood spray pattern on the wall and lamp shade nearest the body. He looked back at the pile of clothes.

"The Crime Scene boys are slipping," said Taylor, poking at the clothing again. "This ain't no suicide, Chuck."

"How you figure?"

"Who takes their underwear off first?"

"Well, in their defense," said Napier, "they've kinda had their hands full with something else. Check out the bedroom."

Taylor stepped through the door into the adjoining bedroom, his attention immediately drawn to the unusual blue and yellow garments spread out upon the bed. Upon the front of the long-sleeved shirt was a globe-like circle crossed with a stylized dagger.

"Anybody running that symbol?" asked Taylor.

"Already on it," said Napier from behind.

"We found it in a ventilation shaft," said one of the technicians, sensing Taylor's question. "Along with some pretty high-tech hardware. The weapons are already on their way downtown. Not sure what this suit's made of, but I'm betting it isn't normal fabric. Probably some kind of bullet-resistant Kevlar blend."

"Who is...was he?" asked Taylor.

"Not exactly sure," said Napier. "We found a bunch of unmarked bottles in the medicine cabinet as well as a nice, fat Ziplock bag of high-grade weed hidden in the back of the toilet. Not sure what all the drug were, but I have a hunch."

"Cancer?" asked Taylor.

"We'll know soon enough," said Detective Napier.

****

From the controls of the hovering Flagship, Union Jack watched as Prince Namor sprung forth from the English Channel below.

Carried aloft by the tiny, yet powerful wings about his ankles, the mutant known as the Sub-Mariner sailed effortlessly to the cockpit door of the experimental plane, where he was eagerly met by his companions.

"Well?" asked Spitfire. "Any sign of him?"

"Nay," growled the prince of Atlantis, his pride obviously wounded at the admission of failure.

"Some lord of the Seven Seas you turned out to be," scoffed the man in the yellow bodysuit.

"Hold your tongue, Whizzer!" snarled Namor. "The channel is deep and the current is strong! But rest assured I will not stop searching until Captain America is found!"

"I'm afraid I'll have to be the barer of bad news then, mates," said Union Jack, removing his headphones. "We're being ordered Stateside for another mission."

"What?" gasped Spitfire. "But the Captain is---"

"M.I.A.," said the Whizzer. "And war is hell, kiddo."

****

Detective Taylor looked up from his desk at the entrance of Detective Napier.

"You ain't gonna believe this," said Napier, plopping down in a chair opposite Taylor.

"Surprise me."

"I did a Google search on that dagger symbol from this morning," said Napier. "Unless I'm mistaken, it belongs to this gun-for-hire goon called...get this, Spy Smasher."

"Don't you mean Spymaster?" asked Taylor.

Napier glanced at his note pad and chuckled. "I didn't think that was right when I said it. How'd you know?"

"He's one of Justin Hammer's hired goons who, a few years back, tried to take out Iron Man," said Taylor. "There's just one problem."

"What's that?"

"Spymaster's already dead."

"You're kiddin'?"

"Nope. But there's more. Ballistics checked the ammunition they confiscated from this guy and before they knew it, S.H.I.E.L.D. was all over them like white on rice, ordering everything be shut down. It's out of our hands, Chuck. They took everything but the kitchen sink, including our body."

"Seriously? What the hell for?"

"Well, it's unconfirmed, but one of the lab techs told me before they shut everything down, she got a confirmation on the ammo."

"And?"

"The bullet that took out Captain America six months ago was fired from our dead man's rifle."
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"Less Than Zero"

Post  Paul E. Schultz on Wed Jul 25, 2012 9:11 pm

That's the movie I meant to mention, but "Breakfast Club" came out instead. I'm not really a fan of either one, which would explain my confusion, I suppose.
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Re: Captain America #1

Post  Erik Dee Fullmer on Fri Jul 27, 2012 2:51 am

Killer read man! I never really read Captain America in th comics. Reading this has definitely got me wanting to get more into him. I also learned a lot by reading this and will help me on my next HtD issue. Like the way you go to different scenes quicker like it should be by using the **** thing. Like I think I stay on one scene too long, then I also have trouble weaving it together. I know I'll get better by just keep going and learning from you and the other guys, so yeah this was awesome read as all of yours usually are, and very helpful as well.
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Re: Captain America #1

Post  Paul E. Schultz on Fri Jul 27, 2012 11:32 am

Thanks, man. Entertain, educate and inspire are my three goals when I write. Glad you liked it.
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Nice start

Post  Nik Havert on Tue Jul 31, 2012 11:57 am

I don't know why you were nervous, because this is off to a great start. I love all the intrigue.

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Re: Captain America #1

Post  Paul E. Schultz on Tue Jul 31, 2012 3:45 pm

I was nervous, Nik, because, and The Toad can testify to this, Cap's my all-time favorite superhero. Thanks, guys.
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Movie line

Post  Nik Havert on Tue Jul 31, 2012 8:04 pm

I thought of you while watching the Avengers movie when Capt. America knocked down Loki with a reflected energy blast and said (more or less), "You know, the last time I was in Germany and a guy was making people kneel, I didn't take too kindly to it." I figured you had visions of the Invaders running through your head at that point.

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Re: Captain America #1

Post  Paul E. Schultz on Wed Aug 01, 2012 12:28 am

Hell, Nik, I had visions of the Invaders running through my head when Craig invited me to this little Redux! They're pretty much always running through my head. That's why Spitfire's in my Defenders.
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I like it

Post  Mechajared on Mon Aug 13, 2012 4:45 am

So far you have got me interested, I can't wait to see what number two will bring.

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Re: Captain America #1

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