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Marvel XP

The News Bulletin Section of Marvel XP. This section contains in-game news explaining more details about the story of the game.

In-Game News

Pulse +0,5

***EMERGENCY BROADCAST***

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CATASTROPHIC “PULSE” HITS EARTH

News Story 01 Marvel XP

As technology fails and chaos spreads, authorities grope for answers.
By Ben Urich, special to the Daily Bugle

A massive wave of electromagnetic energy swept across Earth yesterday, disrupting or disabling most machinery and precipitating a worldwide panic. Twenty-four hours later, no scientist or government official is willing or able to say what caused this event (already dubbed “the Pulse” in some quarters) or when its effects might be neutralized or reversed.

As of this writing, all but the simplest electronic or mechanical devices are inoperative or malfunctioning - sometimes with catastrophic or fatal consequences. Power grids around the world are offline. Battery backups and generators are non-functional. Landlines and cellular phones can neither make nor receive calls. Even shortwave radio operators have been silenced. Planes are stranded on runways, cars are stalled in the streets, and subway trains stand exactly where they were when the Pulse hit Earth.

(This reporter, in fact, wrote what you read now on a manual typewriter, while this special “Post-Pulse” edition of the Bugle has been typeset almost entirely by hand.)

Reports suggest that rioting, looting, and general lawlessness are spreading from major cities to more suburban and rural areas, as more people panic and attempt to stock up on food and other staples. Police and National Guardsmen are doing their best, but effective crowd control may be impossible in the face of such widespread anarchy. In the face of increased terrorist strikes from groups such as Hydra and super-powered criminals, Deputy Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. Maria Hill was asked what steps her agency was taking. “Those who seek to exploit this crisis will find out soon enough,” was her terse response.

The President of the United States called on Americans to stand together and see each other through what he termed “an unspeakable horror that has, in the wake of its relentless destruction, reminded us that we are all citizens of one world.”


Pulse +7,12

WORLDWIDE BLACKOUT STILL UNEXPLAINED

News Story 02 Marvel XP

WORLDWIDE BLACKOUT STILL UNEXPLAINED
By Norah Winters, Exclusive to THE DAILY BUGLE

SEATTLE, WA - In the wake of what some analysts are calling “the real Y2K”, power grids are dark and computer systems dead in thousands of cities around the globe, now for a second week. The cause is unknown to top authorities, or at least, they're not saying much. “This may well be the result of a computer virus or worm, designed to destroy our electronic infrastructure. Technicians are closing in on a solution,” was the explanation Homeland Security representative Henry Peter Gyrich offered in a Q&A session. “There aren't many groups who could have pulled this off.”

The theory has many supporters. Still, the widespread nature of the blackouts, happening over the course of several days in a wide swath of countries, both friendly and hostile, seems to argue against that. There is also a rumor of an unknown glowing substance found at multiple sites, but this is generally discredited.

The crisis is not merely electronic. An estimated 600 hospital patients on life support have died. Dozens of ships relying on GPS data for navigation have collided or run aground, in some cases sending their sailors to a watery grave. Airplanes and satellites alike have fallen from the sky, causing scores of fatalities.

With Internet, broadcast, cable and satellite communications down, CB radio, once the province of truckers and eccentric enthusiasts, has buzzed with conspiracy theories. During one heated debate overheard by the Bugle, a self-identified spokeswoman for the “Mutie Watch” web site alternated blaming Magneto's Brotherhood of Mutants and the mysterious “X-Men” for the attack.

Unnamed sources within the worldwide counter-terrorism organization S.H.I.E.L.D. indicate Executive Director Nick Fury isn't waiting around for an explanation before enacting an unprecedented Avengers Initiative to recruit as many super heroes as it can into its ranks before the violence from villains and terrorist groups escalates further.

For now, we can only hope there are enough heroes to answer that call.

Pulse +13,17

EFFECTS OF THE PULSE: PART 01

News Story 03 Marvel XP

EFFECTS OF THE PULSE OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES: AN INITIAL ASSESSMENT
Internal S.H.I.E.L.D. Dossier

The Pulse has done widespread and in some cases catastrophic damage to energy, communications, and transportation throughout the world. Political upheavals and armed conflicts are in progress and will likely spread, particularly in regions of historic conflict. Here follows a list of known significant consequences of the Pulse. NOTE: Social unrest is widespread and therefore not specifically listed.

NORTH AMERICA
Canada and Mexico experienced the Pulse in much the same way as the United States, and are recovering. The exceptions are large earthquakes near Mexico City and Seattle, which coincided with the Pulse but may not be related.

EUROPE
Latveria has closed its borders. No information about activities inside the country is available.
A cluster of large meteor impacts on a rough line from Marseilles to Athens has caused widespread damage to infrastructure and generated a tsunami on the Tyrrhenian coast of Italy. A meteor impact in the Irish Sea also caused tsunami damage.
The Pulse appears to have caused accelerated calving of Arctic and North Atlantic ice sheets and glaciers.

SOUTH AMERICA
South America was very hard hit. Power is sporadic in urban centers and political crises are multiplying. We expect this instability to be exploited by enemy organizations. Information is scarce at this time.

ASIA
The Indian subcontinent and Asia were somewhat sheltered from the Pulse. An exception appears to be that a large number of meteors fell in China. The government appears to have subcontracted Bruno Horgan’s Brand Corporation, which already has close ties to the Communist government, to retrieve these specimens for study.
A suspected munitions research facility in Madripoor exploded immediately after the Pulse. Exotic compounds and isotopes were detected by S.H.I.E.L.D. scanning arrays.

AFRICA
Hydra is reported to be searching for large impact sites in East Africa. Their presence is destabilizing regional governments.
SHIELD orbital sensors have detected a very intense Iso-8 signature near Busia, Kenya.
King T’Challa of Wakanda has reached out to S.H.I.E.L.D. and offered to put his nation’s vast technological resources to work analyzing any samples of Iso-8 the agency wishes to provide him; as the Black Panther does not always work with S.H.I.E.L.D.’s best interest in mind, Director Fury is debating how to best respond to this proposal.

SUBSURFACE
There has been no contact with or information from Atlantis, Subterranea, or the Savage Land.

NEAR-EARTH
Orbital platforms, research stations, and satellite networks have suffered extensive damage. S.H.I.E.L.D.’s deep space probes detected the Pulse before it reached Earth, and was able to mitigate its effects on the Helicarrier and other terrestrial technology.
Satellite networks were partially destroyed. They are being reconstructed but remain compromised.

The state of lunar facilities and of the Blue Area of the Moon remains unknown.

Pulse +27,5

EFFECTS OF THE PULSE: PART 02

News Story 04 Marvel XP

EFFECTS OF THE PULSE AROUND THE WORLD: UPDATE
Internal S.H.I.E.L.D. Dossier

Observations of organized criminal activity in New York mirror events elsewhere in the world. Iso-8 deposits worldwide continue to be targeted by Hydra, A.I.M., and R.A.I.D.. The Hand is also actively present in some of these areas, although—as in New York City—they do not appear to be concentrating on Iso-8 at this time. Their true goals are unknown. A lively black market in Iso-8 (as well as fake specimens of the material) is present wherever the deposits are found, resulting in increased criminal activity. National governments have in some cases been slow to react.

Computer networks and advanced cybernetic systems throughout the world have apparently suffered a series of incidents since the Pulse. S.W.O.R.D. (Sentient World Observation and Response Department), ARMOR (Altered-Reality Monitoring and Operational Response), and S.T.R.I.K.E. (Special Tactical Response for International Key Emergencies) have all reported such incidents in recent days and weeks. All appear to have been resolved, but increased vigilance will be required until the nature of the intrusions has been clarified.

S.H.I.E.L.D.’s supermax prison facility known as the Vault is suffering some difficulty in returning to full function. Several of its inmates, including Juggernaut, Abomination, and the Wrecker, escaped thanks to an attack by the Wrecking Crew which took advantage of The Pulse’s disruptions. Their whereabouts are currently unknown, but Wrecker is believed to be en route to New York to join the Wrecking Crew. Juggernaut will, it is expected, resume his leadership role within the Brotherhood of Mutants. Efforts to restore the Vault’s security and integrity are continuing. Recapturing escaped Vault inmates is a top priority.

S.H.I.E.L.D.’s intelligence gathering has intensified in the Pacific Rim and China. Large deposits of Iso-8 are known to have been recovered by parties in the Chinese interior. Madripoor is another location of concern. Hydra’s historical influence there suggests that they might use it as a base of operations for Iso-8 storage and experimentation.

In Europe, Latveria’s borders remain closed. Victor von Doom is believed to be pursuing Iso-8 aggressively. Several of his associates are active in New York City, leading S.H.I.E.L.D. to intensify surveillance of the Latverian Embassy.

Pulse +39,22

EFFECTS OF THE PULSE: PART 03

News Story 06 Marvel XP

WORLDWIDE EFFECTS OF THE PULSE: UPDATE
Internal S.H.I.E.L.D. Dossier

Worldwide fatalities from the Pulse and its aftereffects reached one million today, according to a collation of government reports… —Now Magazine

NASA and the European Space Agency announced an accelerated launch program to rebuild destroyed satellite networks… —Amalgamated Press

Recovery is proceeding more quickly in developed nations, but as they were more heavily damaged by the Pulse’s electromagnetic nature, life is closer to normal in much of the developing world… — World News Service

Pitched battles between Hydra terrorists and a temporary combined force of African Union and United Nations troops continued near the site of a large meteor impact. Neither side has been able to gain the upper hand, and the Iso-8 present at the impact site remains, by all accounts, untouched. —OneAfrica

Batroc the Leaper pledged his assistance “to the end of my strength and will” in the fight against resurgent worldwide terrorist groups. —Savate Monthly

The Chinese people are in firm control of all known Iso-8 within Chinese territory, including Tibet and Taiwan. There is no cause for concern. Damage caused by the Pulse is being repaired quickly and its long-term effects will be negligible. —PRC Government News Agency

New York City mayor J. Jonah Jameson today issued a statement condemning S.H.I.E.L.D. for employing Spider-Man “and other masked vigilantes who are as much a menace as the criminals they claim to fight” in its efforts to bring order to the streets in the wake of The Pulse. Anti-mutant sentiment is on the rise following reports that the Brotherhood has kidnapped and forcibly mutated innocent New Yorkers… —Daily Bugle

The Emperor Himself, flanked by the members of Big Hero 6, issued a plea today for the Silver Samurai and Sunfire to put the interests of Japan ahead of their long-standing rivalries with the American mutant heroes known as the X-Men… —Tokyo Today

Mothaxle Filmed Entertainment has announced plans for a TV series based on the events of the Pulse. “This is the event of a lifetime,” pronounced Mothaxle CEO Walter Davidsohn. This reporter is unsure whether he was referring to the proposed series or the Pulse itself. —Hollywood Insider

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EFFECTS OF THE PULSE: PART 04

News Story 07 Marvel XP

EFFECTS OF THE PULSE AROUND THE WORLD: UPDATE
Internal S.H.I.E.L.D. Dossier

Wakandan intelligence services are reported to have shared information with S.H.I.E.L.D. about Iso-8-bearing meteor impacts in the mutant nation Genosha. The CIA is said to be furious about being cut out of the loop, and Senate sources said they were going to take a close look at S.H.I.E.L.D.’s independence within the federal government and armed forces… — The Daily Bugle

Detroit Tigers outfielder Jackson Fuentes sat down with columnist Kerry Gradishar today to talk about his recent decision to quit baseball and join S.H.I.E.L.D. “Helping the world after The Pulse is more important than baseball,” Fuentes said, shaking his head in disbelief. “I never thought I’d say that about anything.” — Sports Today with Jack Magniconte

As their computers and observatories come back online, astronomers across the world have focused their telescopes on the aftereffects of the Pulse, in hopes of discovering where it came from—and, more importantly, what caused it. “Earth has never seen an event like this,” said NASA astrophysicist Jerome Grant. “In fact we’ve never observed anything like it. For all the destruction and misery it caused, but Pulse could teach us an incredible amount about the universe we live in.” —Space&Telescope

Asked about rumors that Victor von Doom was behind the recent appearance of the supervillain team known as the U-Foes, [Reed] Richards calmly replied, “You can never assume anything about Dr. Doom.” Further requests for comment were brushed off as Richards returned to his lab complex in the Baxter Building. —Amalgamated Press

We’re live in Madripoor watching the authorities here—not the government—move a large shipment of what we believe to be the exotic mineral Iso-8 from a container ship to a truck. The truck is registered to a subsidiary of a shell company known to be wholly owned by the multinational Brand Corporation…you can see the number plate there…What is that? We’ve got to move. Esmeralda Singh, World News Service

Several of the world’s most dangerous supervillains, who were broken free from S.H.I.E.L.D.’s ultra high-tech prison known as the Vault by The Wrecking Crew after the Pulse, have been recaptured. Others are still on the run, with at least three—Abomination, the Wrecker, and the mutant Juggernaut—having appeared in New York City… —MSM

Pulse +66,11

EFFECTS OF THE PULSE: PART 05

News Story 08 Marvel XP

EFFECTS OF THE PULSE AROUND THE WORLD: UPDATE
Internal S.H.I.E.L.D. Dossier

Cascading failures in core computer networks are causing sporadic problems worldwide, leading to fears that terrorists are exploiting the Pulse to further their own ends. The culprit in the attacks—if there is a single culprit—has yet to be identified. Security services and counter-terrorism officials in the affected areas are being close-mouthed about the problem, but sources indicate they believe the Pulse has caused long-lasting issues that will take time to resolve.

“Nobody’s ever seen anything like this before,” one unnamed consultant said. “That means nobody knows how to deal with it. Did the Pulse leave holes in networks? Maybe. We don’t know. But if I was dealing with information security or cybernetic interfaces right now, I wouldn’t trust anything.” —Data Systems Weekly

Germanic neo-pagan groups hailed the appearance of the Norse frost giants known as Jotuns, claiming that the Pulse was the first sign of Fimbulvetr. This event from Norse sagas is said to be the beginning of Ragnarok, when innumerable wars will culminate in the end of the world. Jotuns, together with rumored appearances of Asgardian deities and sorcerers, have caused extensive damage to New York City in recent weeks.
Nicholas Fury, director of the American defense organization S.H.I.E.L.D., refused to comment. —Der Tag

Canadian authorities, dealing with a surge of crime related to clandestine Iso-8 trading and post-Pulse disruption, stated publicly that Alpha Flight would not be permitted to travel to the United States. “We need them here first. Canada’s got to take care of itself,” said a spokesperson for Department H, the government’s superhuman affairs division, who did not wish to be identified.

Eighty-six of the UN’s member nations have recalled their delegations in the wake of attacks on the General Assembly in New York. A letter sent out on behalf of those delegations stated they would return when the security situation had stabilized and matters in their individual nations no longer demanded all of their attention. —Amalgamated Press

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EFFECTS OF THE PULSE: PART 06

News Story 09 Marvel XP

EFFECTS OF THE PULSE AROUND THE WORLD: UPDATE
Internal S.H.I.E.L.D. Dossier

Mutant homesteaders are staking out territories in the mutant-friendly nation of Genosha. Some of them say they’re tired of being stared at and attacked on the streets of New York and other cities. Some are overtly political, professing support for the Brotherhood of Mutants and arguing that its goals will never be reached as long as mutants have no place of their own.
There appear to be significant Iso-8 resources in Genosha, raising questions about how these new colonists will establish markets for the area’s resources. Neighboring countries including Wakanda would not comment on the possibility of a rejuvenated Genosha and the shift it might bring to regional politics.
All of this takes place against the backdrop of violent mutant-rights demonstrations in New York, as well as a growth in apocalyptic cults across the world. —World News Agency

NASA astronomers combing through data from the Hubble Space Telescope announced today that the Pulse appears to have faded. They had been able to track its path through space by looking for the ionization of different particles in its wake. Now those effects have nearly disappeared. The Pulse, apparently, is over. —Astronomy Today

All communication has been lost with an Antarctic research station on Brabant Island, shortly after a meteor impact a few kilometers off the island’s mainland-facing coast. Iso-8 readings in the region are said to be extremely high. Evacuations are being considered at other Antarctic stations, much to the frustration of their staffs. Vostok, Rothera, McMurdo, and other large stations remain operational. Rescue operations are underway, as is a concerted monitoring effort. No tsunami was detected, leaving the cause of the communications blackout uncertain. —South Pole Newsletter

The increase in Lunar Transient Phenomena (LTP) in the wake of the Pulse has piqued the interest of both scientists and conspiracy theorists, who have long held LTPs to be evidence of extraterrestrial presence on the moon. A recent working session on the topic at a Leeds University astronomy conference was overrun by conspiracy enthusiasts demanding answers. —Skeptics Update

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EFFECTS OF THE PULSE: PART 07

News Story 10 Marvel XP


WORLDWIDE EFFECTS OF THE PULSE: UPDATE
Internal S.H.I.E.L.D. Dossier

An attack on the headquarters of STRIKE, the British counterpart to America’s S.H.I.E.L.D., raises the possibility that organized terrorist groups are trying to decapitate defense organizations. S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Nicholas Fury, himself recently the target of a similar attack, offered whatever support STRIKE should need. “The special relationship between Britain and the US will not be a casualty of the Pulse,” Fury said. “Enemies of both countries need to know that.” —Daily Mail

New reports are emerging of mutant groups in Central Africa, near the location of the largest known post-Pulse meteor impact. Whether these are sightings of true mutants, local people somehow affected by Iso-8, or some other phenomenon is not yet known. —AllAfrica.com

New York Yankees ownership is applying for federal disaster grants after a series of battles were fought in and around Yankee Stadium between the Avengers and the Green Goblin. —Baseball Weekly

German police, with the assistance of international intelligence agencies, are investigating a series of thefts from museums and sealed archives containing records of the Third Reich’s occult research. Authorities are saying little about the investigation, but it is known that the main suspects are elements of the terrorist group known as Hydra. —Augenblick

The Prime Minister of Madripoor, Selwyn Mishakuni, has declared that Hydra and the Hand are no longer present in his country. “We have rooted them out and they are gone,” said Mishakuni at a press conference yesterday. “The new Madripoor is going to shed this part of its past.” There was no word from sources outside Madripoor on whether any genuine effort had been made to decouple Madripoor’s government from organized terrorism. —The Times

Hip-hop mogul Garret McKay has offered a personal bounty of one million dollars for the capture of any of Hydra’s senior membership. His childhood home was destroyed in a recent battle between Baron Zemo and Captain America. NYPD brass asked McKay not to make the offer public, but he refused, saying, “If guys like me don’t get involved, how will the man in the street know when to stand up?” —Groove

Pulse +106,19

EFFECTS OF THE PULSE: PART 08

News Story 11 Marvel XP

WORLDWIDE EFFECTS OF THE PULSE: UPDATE
Internal S.H.I.E.L.D. Dossier

Continuing disruptions in online communications have begun to have an effect on e-commerce. The giants of that industry recently banded together and appeared on the Senate floor to demand stronger security measures. “The internet is a national resource,” said ShopBot CEO Frank Reshevsky. “It is critical to our economy and our defense, and it is under attack. What are we going to do about it?”
Several senators, interviewed off the record after the proceedings, said that they could not comment due to the question’s bearing on national security. Stark Industries, which had a representative at the hearing, is said to be taking the lead in stabilizing cyber-security. The Pulse damaged information systems in ways that will take years to fully understand, according to the Stark representative, who did not wish to be named. He added that there were very real threats from hostile entities who would take advantage of security gaps created by the Pulse.
Pressed on his use of the word “entities,” the representative would not elaborate. —Congressional Observer

For the first time since the Pulse, nonstop jet service resumed between Detroit and Tokyo. Transatlantic flights have been crippled by fears of another Pulse-like event that might strike when planes had no place to attempt an emergency landing. “It is our hope that the citizens of the world will see that the Pulse is over, air travel is safe, and it’s time to get out there and see the world again,” said a spokesman for the airlines. —World Traveler

A new fad among Satanists: calling themselves Mindless Ones. The jokes write themselves. —@[REDACTED], via Twitter

Russian authorities have denied reports that they are mounting an expedition to the Savage Land under cover of a rescue mission for the Brabant Island Antarctic research station. A spokesman claimed that the reports were the product of Western attempts to marginalize Russia. “Our official position is that the Savage Land does not exist,” the spokesman said. “We have no interest in chasing myths.”

Pulse +120,3

INTERVIEW: CYCLOPS OF THE X-MEN

News Story 17 Marvel XP

DAILY BUGLE EXCLUSIVE
X-Men’s Reclusive Leader Cyclops Talks Mutant Rights & Iso-8
Joy Mercado, special to the Bugle

The streets of New York have been the scene of running battles between rioting mutants, gangs of anti-mutant thugs, and law enforcement in recent days. The X-Men have played a role in suppressing the riots, but they’ve restricted their criticism to Magneto and the Brotherhood of Mutants. Why? The Bugle scored a sit-down with the mysterious mutant leader. Here’s what he had to say.

On the recent mutant riots: “The X-Men are firmly on the side of rights for all. That includes mutants. We do not condone rioting under any circumstances. In this case, the Brotherhood of Mutants is inciting demonstrators to violence with false promises and divisive rhetoric. That’s always been their MO.”

On Iso-8 and its potential to create mutations: “We’re looking into this. I will tell you that the X-Men absolutely condemn the forcible mutations we’ve seen. If the Brotherhood is responsible for this, they ought to be vilified. Mutation isn’t a choice as of right now. If it ever becomes a choice, that choice should be up to every individual. We’re talking basic human rights here.”

On the use of Sentinels: “Mutants are pretty unanimous on this. We see Sentinels as a symbol of artificial divisions. They have never yet been used without a political ulterior motive, and we don’t see that changing soon. S.H.I.E.L.D. and the world’s governments know how we feel about this.”

On rumored cooperation with S.H.I.E.L.D.: “I can’t confirm or deny that the X-Men have allied with any human agency. But I will say that though there are differences of opinion, homo sapiens and superior are all in this together.”

Pulse +134,15

EFFECTS OF THE PULSE: PART 09

News Story 18 Marvel XP

WORLDWIDE EFFECTS OF THE PULSE: UPDATE
Internal S.H.I.E.L.D. Dossier

A spokesman for the social networking site Unomi said the site would not delete a group devoted to the terrorist organization Hydra. “We monitor content carefully,” the spokesman said. “Free speech doesn’t stop at the boundaries of popularity.” —Spotlight on Social

Before the European Court of Law today, the Latverian ambassador denied that his nation or any of its citizens has any involvement in underground Iso-8 research. He further denied that Latverian diplomatic designation has become a flag of convenience for suspected terrorist and occult figures to exploit international provisions of diplomatic immunity... —EUWatch

International mutant groups are said to be closely monitoring the situation in New York City. An anonymous spokesman, communicating via masked email, said, “It’s definitely possible you could see other actions like this in other places. Wherever there are mutants, people are talking about the Brotherhood.”
Smaller demonstrations have already occured in St. Petersburg, Kuala Lumpur, Cairo, and Buenos Aires. Others are reported but unconfirmed due to media blackouts in the relevant locations. In addition, the flow of emigrants to Genosha is said to be accelerating. —The Futurist

Iso-8, in addition to being the subject of intensive scientific investigation, is also making its mark in the Twitterverse. #Iso8 has been a trending topic for eighteen of the past twenty-one days, a sustained popularity never before seen on the popular microblogging site. —Morning News

As effects of the Pulse fade, political splinter groups in the world’s trouble spots are already blaming it on each other. Rejecting the standard explanation that it was an astrophysical phenomenon, a member of the Pakistani parliament today accused India and the United States of creating the Pulse to destabilize Islamabad. Similar accusations have been heard across the world, from the Middle East to the Balkans to Southeast Asia. Here in the United States, evangelical radio programs are humming with speculation that the Pulse was either the creation of “humanistic arrogance” or the first sign of the oncoming Rapture... —Conspiracy Today

Pulse +168,20

EFFECTS OF THE PULSE: PART 10

News Story 19 Marvel XP

WORLDWIDE EFFECTS OF THE PULSE: UPDATE
Internal S.H.I.E.L.D. Dossier

BREAKING:MASSIVE RELEASE OF ISO-8 CONTAMINANTS REPORTED IN CHINA
A plume of Iso-8 particulate form is spreading over a large area at the edge of the Gobi Desert west of Yinchuan. The reported cause is an explosion at a research complex previously known to have been a center of space science and advanced physics research. ——World Headlines

S.H.I.E.L.D. is facing increased Congresinal pressure to maintain order in the aftermath of the Pulse, as the Brotherhood of Mutants and Viktor von Doom's Syndicate seems to be growing in power and influence... ——Capitol Reportter

Current CIA estimates suggest that United States government may control as little as 25% of the worlds Iso-8. The agency does not share its estimates about amounts controlled by other national and/or corporate entities. ——Scientific Observer

At S.H.I.E.L.D's request, the United States Departement of Homeland Security added the millenial cult The Circle of Eight to its list of known sponsors of terorism... ——PressWire

The domain name [REDACTED] recently sold to an administrator identified via whois as Joe Smith. Wether this is a prank or the Red Skull is embracing modern life is difficult to say... can't wait for the Twitter feed. ——ComedyBitz

Pulse +316,6

CONSTRICTOR: BREAKOUT PART 1

News Story 12 Marvel XP

Written by: Alex Irvine
Illustrated by: Marko Djurdjević


Frank Payne knew something had gone wrong because the lights went out. A minute later, emergency lighting kicked in, but outside his cell all hell was breaking loose. Crashes and booms echoed down the steel corridors of the Vault, S.H.I.E.L.D.’s custom-built holding facility for the bad guys deemed too dangerous to be held on the Raft near human populations. Frank, even in his identity as the Constrictor, was not one of those guys. At least he didn’t think so.

Nick Fury, however, apparently did, which was how Frank had come to be sitting in a cell underneath a mountain in Colorado with his suit hidden away in a locker somewhere.
But now the lights had gone out and the little series of lenses around the doorframe was dark.

Was this some kind of setup? Frank went to the doorway of his cell. Generally it was screened by a force field that knocked you out cold if you touched it. He reached out and ever so gingerly tested the space where the barrier was supposed to be.

Nothing. The lenses stayed dark and Frank stayed conscious.

From down the hall he heard someone screaming, but only for a second. He looked in that direction—the walls of the cells were clear for full panopticon effect—but he couldn’t see anything but the empty hall and reflections of emergency lights on the walls of other cells. He didn’t know if anyone or anything was in them.

After he’d teamed up with Juggernaut to blow open the Raft and advance the Brotherhood’s Iso-8 experiments, Frank had found himself in a Top Ten position on Nick Fury’s enemies list. The Raft wasn’t good enough for the Constrictor anymore, no; he had to go to the Vault and sit in one of the transparent glassteel cells like he was some kind of extraterrestrial freak. Part of him was flattered by the attention. Most of him was on edge because the rest of the Vault’s population consisted of malformed or mutated psychopaths, aliens, sociopathic monstrosities like Zzzax…Constrictor didn’t belong there. He wasn’t crazy. He didn’t want to annihilate humanity. He just wanted to make a buck.

And settle a score or two.

When he got back to New York, he was going to have to have a talk with Fury about letting bygones be bygones. It had been a long time since Frank was a S.H.I.E.L.D. operative. No reason for Fury to still be holding a grudge about it.

Before he could get to New York, though, he had to exit the Vault without running into any of the various baddies who seemed to be running amok in the Vault’s cellblocks.
Frank took a deep breath and stuck his head out into the hall, getting a good look at how the cellblocks in the vault were arranged. Pods, he corrected himself. The sign at the end of the hall said so. Apparently he was in Pod K, level IX. The Roman numerals seemed a little self-important, but if Henry Pym and Tony Stark had designed this place, self-importance was part of the territory.

Nobody was around. The cryptids had fled. There was nary a Mandroid or shape-locked Skrull or Humanoid in sight, which was fine with Frank. He wanted nothing to do with any of them. They weren’t like him. He was human, for God’s sake. The mutations and monsters like Abomination or Zzzax were the real dangers.

Whatever had happened to the Vault, it was only right he should get out.

He hopped out into the corridor, looked both ways, and headed for what looked like the nearest exit. Transport between levels of the Vault took place in vertical shafts, circular in cross-section and built from a surface so nearly frictionless that no known being could climb it. You had to float up and down these shafts on magnetic platforms.
Frank leaned out over the lip of the exit from the hall into the shaft. There were a lot of levels below IX, it seemed. He looked up and didn’t see any way to climb. But hey, S.H.I.E.L.D. was a quasi-government agency. They had regulations about safety. There had to be a fire stair somewhere. Also there had to be some kind of building diagram, since the average S.H.I.E.L.D. grunt couldn’t be expected to memorize the layout of a place like this. Soon as Frank found that map, he could find his suit. Then he could get the hell out of here.

Up on one of the top floors, someone was firing a gun. From the other direction came animal sounds, as if something very large was eating. Yikes, Frank thought, and went looking for the stairs.

He found them at the far end of the block of pods, and lo and behold there was a map inside the stairwell. EQUIPMENT HOLDING ARCHIVE, read a room label on Level VII. Only two flights up. Frank hit the stairs and immediately almost tripped over the scattered remains of a Mandroid DR-1. Yikes again, he thought. He wasn’t used to feeling like prey, but right then that was exactly the feeling the situation was giving him. He looked around for a weapon and the only things that presented themselves were the Mandroid’s individual limbs and a fire extinguisher at the next landing up.

Frank prided himself on being adaptable—he tipped his mental cap to S.H.I.E.L.D. for that—but he couldn’t quite arm himself with a Mandroid’s arm. So the fire extinguisher it was. He lifted it out of its case and cracked the fire door an inch or so to get a look at what might be on the other side.

He was looking down a corridor that had regular doors instead of open force-field doorways set in transparent pod walls. This wasn’t a containment floor. Good. Frank could see the door he wanted. He headed for it, and had taken all of three steps when he heard a noise from the closest door.

Frank froze. A Hydra Brute came out into the hall, four hundred pounds of shambling muscle and bad temper, with arms as big as Frank’s ribcage and some kind of green skullcap covering the top half of its face. Also it was still wearing its Hydra-issued uniform, which ticked Frank off. He hadn’t gotten to keep his uniform. The Brute looked the other way, away from the fire stair, and Frank hit it as hard as he could right at the base of the skull. The Brute went to its knees and Frank ran, covering the distance to the Holding Archive door and slamming it behind him before the Brute had gotten to its feet. The first thing he did was shove a desk in front of the door even though he didn’t figure that would do much good. The second thing he did was marvel at the amount of loot S.H.I.E.L.D. had stored in this archive. The third thing he did was note the presence of his suit in a stasis locker not twenty feet from the door.

Problem was, the emergency generators had repowered the locker and he couldn’t open it. Frank issued a string of profanities. Outside the door, the Brute was doing the same.
The locker was a cylinder, steel at the bottom with some kind of transparent material making up the case. It went from floor to ceiling. His suit was right there, and he couldn’t get to it, and because he couldn’t get to it he was going to end up just like the Mandroid back in the stairwell.

Unless…

He turned as the Brute smashed the top half of the door out of the frame. “You hit me with that,” it said, pointing at the fire extinguisher. It kicked the desk out of the doorway and stepped into the room. “Now I’m gonna hit you with it. A lot.”


To be continued. . .

CONSTRICTOR: BREAKOUT PART 2

News Story 13 Marvel XP

Written by: Alex Irvine
Illustrated by: Marko Djurdjević

Frank didn’t need the Brute thinking. He needed it mad. Furious. In a blind rage. If it stayed in control it was going to kill him.

“Here you go, then,” he said, “Hit me all you want if you can catch me.” He threw the fire extinguisher at it, hard enough to force it to react before thinking. The Brute did exactly what he’d hoped it would do; it smacked the extinguisher out of the way, hard enough to snap the pin and nozzle off it. Instantly it was enveloped in foam. With an incoherent roar it lowered its head and charged as foam exploded in a wake behind it.

It would never work, Frank thought. But it had to work.

He ducked around the column of the stasis locker, figuring that the Brute would take the direct approach. He was right. It slammed straight through the column, spiderwebbing the glass and wrenching the entire case loose. Then both Brute and case hit the floor as Frank ducked out of the way, shielding himself from falling debris. The case shattered and the Brute sprawled through the pieces, scattering them and Frank’s suit across the floor. The rest of the stasis locker column fell from the ceiling and smashed onto the prone Brute.
What do you know, Frank thought as he hopscotched through the debris and picked up his suit. It sort of worked. If he survived the next few seconds, he might live out the day.
He got his hands on the suit and spun to see the Brute getting to its feet and swiping bloody foam out of the eyeholes of its skullcap. Skidding face-first through the broken case hadn’t done its complexion any good.

If it got close to him before he got into his suit, he was going to die. Frank ran like hell back into the maze of stasis lockers and holding bays in the storage room, looking for a chance to get a breather long enough to get his suit on. The Brute charged after him, but Frank’s one physical advantage over it was agility. He ducked and jinked and then saw a gantry with some kind of powered armor hanging from it. Hanging onto his suit with one hand, Frank climbed the gantry and swung up onto the horizontal support beam above it.

The Brute was rampaging around in the area but it had lost track of him. “Kill you, little man,” it growled. “Find you, kill you. Maybe eat you.” Frank got into his suit and immediately felt less like prey and more like predator, which was how he liked it.

He flicked out a tentacle and swung higher into the ceiling beams. There was a maze of catwalks near the roof and from one of the back corners of the room, Frank could hear something moving around. He steered clear, scooting back toward the door and pausing just above the Hydra Brute. “Psst,” he said, just because he couldn’t resist. “Hey down there. Cut yourself shaving?”

The Brute looked up and Frank looped a tentacle around its neck, coiling it tight and lifting the Brute off its feet. It gargled and kicked and then it scared the bejeezus out of Frank by starting to climb his own tentacle toward him. “Whoa,” he said, and squeezed harder. He didn’t want to kill it—Frank was many things but not a killer, at least not by nature—but he also didn’t want to die.

It was almost to him. Frank swung it off and up in and arc, bouncing it a few times off the beams and almost shaking himself loose in the process. But after two or three impacts and ongoing oxygen deprivation, it went limp. He felt its weight relax and he let the Brute go. The beams and catwalks shook again when it hit the floor.

Okay, then, Frank thought. He, feeling the suit finish settling around his body. Yeah, that felt good. He was ready to go.

He headed back to the fire stair and started climbing. Apparently he wasn’t the only prisoner who had found the stairs, either; at the next level up the main door was torn from the hinges and there were scorch marks all over the frame and the walls on the other side. Also he could hear gunshots, screams, all kinds of chaos echoing from other floors. The thing to do was get out before he ran into something he couldn’t handle.

Looked like the only exit was through Block A, so once Frank got up to Level II that’s the direction he headed. And he was almost out, too, when he took a shortcut through a lab that looked like it had recently doubled as a slaughterhouse and ran smack into the last thing he’d expected:

An ethical conundrum.

On the one hand, the exit passage was right there in front of him, clearly marked and with no visible obstacles.

On the other, there was one survivor of whatever massacre had taken place in this lab, a Guardsman whose armor hung off his body in pieces as he dangled semi-conscious from the talons of a supernatural monstrosity Frank unfortunately recognized. It was tall and ropy and covered in white fur flecked with blood and bits of flesh, with jaws big enough to swallow a wolf whole and eyes aglow with demonic malevolence.

Wendigo.

Frank knew that he stood no chance of beating the Wendigo in a straight-up fight. You had to be realistic. The problem was that Frank Payne might have been a ruthless mercenary, but he couldn’t just walk away from some poor S.H.I.E.L.D. grunt who was about to be dismembered and eaten alive by the Wendigo.

On the other hand, if he intervened, the Wendigo would eat both him and the Guardsman, so what was the point in suicidal chivalry. Frank took a slow step back toward the door. The Wendigo lifted the Guardsman off the ground and drooled.

The Guardsman saw Frank. “Help,” he said.

Frank froze. So much for the slink-away option. The only remaining path was foolhardy bravado. Frank whistled, sharp, like he was calling a dog. The Wendigo looked up.

“Hey, ugly,” Frank said.


To be continued. . .

Pulse +316,17

CONSTRICTOR: BREAKOUT PART 3

News Story 14 Marvel XP

Written by: Alex Irvine
Illustrated by: Marko Djurdjević


Frank’s salutation had exactly the effect he’d both wanted and dreaded. The Wendigo clocked his suit and decided he was more interesting prey than a random schmoe in a crunchy armored shell. It dropped the Guardsman and vaulted a bank of monitors. Frank ran like hell.

He had no idea where he was going and it occurred to him that during his (ahem) strategic retreat from the Wendigo he might run into something else. He cut diagonally across the hall outside the lab and through another door. About two seconds later the Wendigo came through the door too, and also through part of the wall next to it, not even slowing down. “Wennn-di-goooo,” it rumbled.

Frank had managed to hang with the Hulk for a few minutes back in the day, but he had no illusions about the end result of any prolonged encounter between him and the Wendigo. His plan, insofar as he had one, was to run until he lost it and then find his way out before it tracked him down again. He was in some kind of hangar, maybe a testing area for confiscated gear and goodies. As he ran, he grabbed everything he could and threw it behind him. He didn’t look back, but from the sound of it he wasn’t slowing the Wendigo down much. The hangar was a big open space with raised platforms along the walls for cranes and cameras and all kinds of observational gadgetry. High above it Frank caught sight of a viewing balcony.

He flipped a tentacle up and caught the balcony railing, hoisting himself up and risking a glance over his shoulder just in time to see the Wendigo’s claws shred the air inches from his face. Reflexively Frank snapped the other tentacle straight into its face.

It bit down and he thought, oh no.

His arms stretched as it pulled back, and Frank had a flashback to his first great brawl as a costumed mercenary, with the Hulk back in the day. The only thing that kept him alive then was also his last resort now. He fired up the power pack woven through the fibers of his suit and let the Wendigo have it with every volt his overcharged tentacle could carry.
The flash was so bright that he saw it coming out of the Wendigo’s mouth and nose. Smoke burst from its fur and it spat the tentacle out with a roar. WENNNN-DII-GOOO! It thundered, leaping for Frank as he hauled himself up onto the balcony. It missed him but came close enough that he could smell both burning hair and the blood on its breath. It landed on the platform just under the viewing balcony and tensed for another spring.

Frank was already running when his feet hit the balcony, back into the viewing area and then through the attached lab and out into another of the shiny stainless corridors that seemed to be a primary feature of the Vault. He would be on the top level now, he thought. The Wendigo was tearing its way through the lab right on his heels. It came out into the hall behind him and Frank experienced a moment of sheer terror as he realized he was cut off. It was between him and the stairs, the burns on its face healing visibly as he watched. At the other end of the hall was the transport shaft.

This, thought Frank, is what it’s like to know you’re going to die.

The Wendigo charged at him and Frank did the only thing he could shot out both tentacles and stiffened them, lifting it up and just barely managing to hold it away from him as its momentum carried it over him. As it passed, he held onto it, lifting and directing its enormous mass as best he could…right to the edge of the shaft. The Wendigo kicked out at him as it passed, shearing away part of his hood and gashing his scalp. But it didn’t know the shaft was there, and by the time it figured out what was happening it was already over the edge. It caught the lip of the hall floor with one claw, scoring the steel surface and trying to slow itself down.

As the Wendigo slid howling over the edge of the shaft, Frank used it as a pivot, turning himself into a bolo. He swung far out into the shaft and then back in an arc, aiming for the open doorway two levels down. The Wendigo’s last grip gave way under the force of Frank’s angular momentum…or more accurately the floor did. Its claws tore loose and it started to fall. Frank, on his return arc, sailed just underneath it, letting it go on his way to the doorway and coming just a bit too close. One passing slash of the Wendigo’s claw shredded the energy pack powering his tentacles with a crackling boom and a wash of heat that scorched Frank right through his suit. But he tumbled into the hallway of Level III, skidding on his face until he came up short against a pile of rubble. Alive.

Behind him, roaring, the Wendigo fell. Wennn-di-gooooo… It was a surprisingly long time before Frank heard the impact of it hitting the bottom of the shaft.

Slowly, panting, he got to his feet. He was in a containment level again. There were broken and empty glassteel cells just about as far as he could see. Frank found the fire stair again and decided he’d stop in and see if the Guardsman was still alive on the way out. Inconvenient, but once you started saving someone’s life you sort of had to see it through. Frank cursed his momentary lapse into altruism. It wouldn’t happen again, especially if he sat around thinking about it. A little thing like a three-hundred-foot fall onto concrete wasn’t going to slow the Wendigo down for long.

He got a deep breath and did a brief triage of his various claw marks, burns, and bruises. Looked like he would live. That settled, he went and found the Guardsman sitting up against the wall at one end of the bank of monitors where he’d fallen. His nametag read KOHLER.

“Hey,” Frank said, still panting a bit. “You going to make it?”

Kohler braced himself with one hand and started trying to stand up. “Better get back in your cell,” he said.

“Funny,” Frank said. “Tell Nick Fury I’ll see him soon.”

“No, wait a sec,” Kohler said. “You’re escaping, right?”

“That’s the plan,” Frank said.

“Mind if I tag along?” Kohler asked.

Frank sighed. This was what you got for saving someone’s life.


To be continued. . .

CONSTRICTOR: BREAKOUT PART 4

News Story 15 Marvel XP

Written by: Alex Irvine
Illustrated by: Marko Djurdjević


“Since the Wendigo isn’t eating you right now,” Frank said to Kohler, “how about you do me the favor of telling me what the hell is going on in here?”

They were in a huge rectangular room just inside the final series of halls that led to the exit. Kohler had wanted to see if any of his colleagues were still alive to be saved. After saving Kohler, Frank could hardly say no, but he made a mental note to be clearer in the future about just how far his altruism extended.

“System-wide failure,” Kohler said. “We had some kind of attack that cut our cybersecurity open before we even knew it was happening. The power went out and all of our containment systems failed. That’s what the techs said, anyway, before, ah…well. You saw the rest.”

Right away Frank wanted to know who had done this. Anyone who could peel open the Vault and shred S.H.I.E.L.D.’s best security was someone the Constrictor should work for. That was real juice. “You ID the source?” he asked, trying not to sound as greedy as he felt.

Kohler shook his head. “No idea. Lab geeks didn’t have time to run any traces because all the cryptids were loose. It’s kind of hard to sit through a security back-check while Abomination is tearing your head off.”

“Come on,” Frank said. “Seriously. No idea?”

“None,” Kohler said. “Can we get out of here?”

Frank let it go for the moment. Getting out was a good idea. “There’s one more level above this one,” he said. “Should we go out that way?”

“That’s a hangar and receiving facility for aircraft,” Kohler said. “Unless you can fly, there’s no way down.”

So it was back to this next series of halls. Everyone else trying to get out of the Vault would be heading this way too. Frank listened, but other than the ongoing distant sounds of mayhem, he heard nothing that seemed like a threat. Ahead everything seemed quiet.

“Okay,” he said. “Let’s go.”

They moved quickly through the halls and to the front doors of the Vault, heavy reinforced metal on tracks that had been wrenched free by a very powerful and very angry being. But whoever that being was, he was long gone. There was a groaning heap just inside the door that turned out to be another S.H.I.E.L.D. Guardsman. Frank and Kohler got him sitting up and Kohler got his helmet off. “Hey. Cruz,” he said. “Can you move?”

The Guardsman nodded. Something crashed back inside, closer than the other noises. Frank decided to move things along. He picked this Cruz guy up with one tentacle and headed out the door.

It was a beautiful day in the Rockies. Snowpack gleamed on the peaks and there were all kinds of flowers coming into bloom in the meadows. An access road snaked away down a valley below the Vault entrance. A few hundred yards down that road, one side of the valley fell away and the road wrapped around the side of a sheer drop.

“So where are we?” Frank asked Kohler as he set Cruz down at the edge of the road. Cruz promptly fell over and passed out. Frank ignored him.
“You mean like in relation to Denver?” Kohler said. “I don’t know. The closest town is Stubblefield. I think that’s Red Mountain Pass over there.” He pointed across a broad valley past the road to a notch between two peaks. “But S.H.I.E.L.D. doesn’t tell us exactly where we are. I do know this place was built out from an old mine.” “Huh,” Frank said. It made no difference in the end. From Colorado to New York was east. So he would go east until he found something he recognized and figure things out from there.

Once he did that, he was going to see what had been happening in New York while he was buried under a mountain. All the Iso-8 lying around had put some strange ideas in people’s heads. It made regular people crazy and the already crazy ones, man, it was like they were just barely hanging onto their humanity.

The test subjects Juggernaut had cooked up back in Bellevue came to mind. They were more like the Hydra Brutes than Frank cared to admit, and he’d been part of it. He’d even thought about letting Juggernaut juice him up with the MGH/Iso-8 compound used to create the test subjects. In retrospect he was glad he hadn’t done it, but at the time it had been hard to resist.

“Okay, Kohler,” he said. “Take it easy.”

“You’re leaving me here?” Kohler said. “There’s still cryptids around.”

“Let me explain something to you,” Frank said. “You are not currently in pieces and that’s because of me. That means you don’t get to complain if I feel like heading out on my own now. You get the whole gift-horse-in-the-mouth thing? Jeez, your mother didn’t raise you right if you’re complaining now.”

“What about him?” Kohler said, pointing at Cruz.

“What about him? Stark and Fury already have people on the way. You can bet on that. They’ll be here any minute. The cryptids will know that too. They’re not going to stop just for you, or him.”

This was not in fact true. Frank figured that many of the Vault’s inmates would stop to make a snack or a quick kill of wandering S.H.I.E.L.D. lab techs and Guardsmen. But he had done his bit. These two guys, anyway, were still breathing and if he hadn’t helped out, they wouldn’t be. To his mind that squared things for a solo departure. “Cruz has a gun,” he said. “Looks like two. You see something, shoot it.”

“Thanks for the advice,” Kohler said.

“Later,” Frank said, and started walking away. He was just getting to the curve where the right-hand wall of the valley fell away into a cliff when bam, something hit him and his right leg went numb.


To be concluded in Part 5

CONSTRICTOR: BREAKOUT PART 5

News Story 16 Marvel XP

Written by: Alex Irvine
Illustrated by: Marko Djurdjević


It was said of Hawkeye that he never missed, and in Frank’s experience that was pretty close to the truth. Certainly he hadn’t missed with the blunt-tipped arrow that had hit Frank on the knob of bone at the outside of the back of his right knee. Frank saw the purple of Hawkeye’s costume up on the rocks above the road. He leaned into the rock face and flicked his tentacles loose as he looked around for a way out. Sure would be nice if he could charge them up and zap Hawkeye comatose, Frank thought. The Wendigo was still ruining his day.

“Clint,” he said. “Are you it? Where’s the cavalry?”

“Not a good time to disclose operational intel,” Hawkeye said.

“Fair enough,” Frank said. “Then maybe I could suggest that you should be more worried about Zzzax and Abomination and those guys. I’m no threat. I’m just, you know, headed down the road.” Or would be as soon as he could walk again.

“Appreciate the advice,” Hawkeye said. “But I think I have an adequate grip on the tactical situation. It starts with you.”

“All right,” Frank said. “Whatever.”

He slashed out with one tentacle and tore a piece of the rock outcropping loose, dumping Hawkeye down to the road in a hail of rocks and dirt and mosses. Hawkeye hit and rolled and came up with his bow leveled. Frank followed with a series of whips, but he had to support himself on the rocks because he still couldn’t feel his foot. This made him telegraph his moves, and Hawkeye danced out of the way with mocking ease, ending up on a granite outcropping on the cliff side of the road.

Standing there like freaking Errol Flynn he cracked the faintest shadow of a smile and asked, “You planning to fight me on one leg, Frank?”

“The other one will be back in a sec,” Frank said, even though it was still almost completely numb from the knee down. Just a few pings and flickers of feeling along his calf and down to his ankle. The pins and needles, when they came on full force, would be worse than anything Hawkeye could dish out.

He knew this because if Hawkeye had been going to kill him, Frank Payne would be one more body in and around the Vault. The situation, then, appeared to less dire. Hawkeye wanted to bring him in. Constrictor did not want to be brought in.

Looked like they were going to fight.

Frank lashed out at Hawkeye with first one tentacle and then the other, keeping Hawkeye off balance as the tentacles chipped bits away from the granite outcropping at Hawkeye’s feet. “Plus,” he said, “I don’t need feet. It’s all in the hands.”

In mid-pirouette off the rocks Hawkeye hit Frank with an arrow square in the sternum. Without his armor on it would have collapsed his ribcage, and even with the armor it knocked the wind out of him. He sank to his knees but at the same time reached out with both tentacles and ripped Hawkeye’s bow from his hands. Still trying to get his breath he flung the bow away…but he wasn’t paying close attention to where he threw it, and it landed right at the feet of who else but Kohler, staggering toward them and supporting the guard, Cruz.

“Oh, hey,” Frank wheezed. “Before you start telling me what an awful person I am, I should tell you I saved this guy. From Wendigo. Kohler, tell Hawkeye here how I saved you.”

“It’s true,” Kohler said. “But I told you to get back in your cell and you didn’t. Here’s your bow, Hawkeye.”

Frank rolled his eyes. “Seriously? I’m just going to toddle back to my cell while all hell is breaking loose and wait for a Skrull to come eat me?” The pain in his sternum was almost as bad as the pins and needles in his foot. Plus he was still bleeding and flash-burned from tangling with the Wendigo. Not his day so far, despite the fact that he’d escaped from the Vault. He needed a nap. Instead he thought he was going to get more of a fight.

“Sounds like you disobeyed a direct command from a S.H.I.E.L.D. authority,” Hawkeye said.

“Well, sure,” Frank said. “But you’re forgetting I did you a favor. I took care of Wendigo. That ought to balance things out. Also, you would have gotten the hell out of the Vault too.”

Hawkeye shrugged. It was uncanny how he could do that and not move the head of his arrow a micron. The head was stubby and cylindrical. Frank wondered what it did. “Maybe so. But we’re not talking about me. We’re talking about you, and you’re a traitor.”

“Yeah, well, you’re a hit man who developed a convenient conscience. I don’t think you have the moral high ground here,” Frank said.

“That’s my problem,” Hawkeye said. “Yours is that you’re an escapee from the Vault and I have direct orders to put Vault escapees back where they came from.” “I told him,” Kohler said. “Can’t say I didn’t tell him.”

“You shut up,” Frank said. “Next time I’m going to let the Wendigo eat you, you ungrateful sonofabitch.”

“Not a chance,” Kohler said. “I’m quitting this job anyway.”

Frank got to his feet. The pins and needles in his right foot were something fierce but he was starting to get his breath back. Truth was, though, he was exhausted. He’d tangled with a Hydra Brute and played cat-and-mouse with the Wendigo already that day, losing his tentacles’ energy pack in the process. He wasn’t sure he had it in him to take down Hawkeye, too.

“You’re not going to leave me alone,” he said to Hawkeye. Kohler and Cruz watched the two of them like they were torn between running away and sitting down with popcorn.

Hawkeye shook his head but the head of the arrow stayed perfectly still. “Nope.”

“Okay,” Frank said. He shook out the coils of his tentacles and flexed his legs. Everything seemed to work. He was getting a second wind. It was go time. “Then let’s do this right,” he said.

And right as the words were leaving his mouth, Hawkeye’s arrow hit him right between the eyes. The last thing Frank remembered was the bright blue Colorado sky as he went over backward. He was out cold before he hit the ground.

Pulse +316,18

***THE VAULT***

Pulse +317,1

***THE CRISIS***

Pulse +317,4

***THE TEAM***

Pulse +317,5

***THE HULK***

Pulse +317,6

***THE MASTERS***

Out-of-Game News

February 6, 2012

WELCOME TO MARVEL XP!

News Story 05 Marvel XP

Marvel XP is your connection to an exciting new line of Marvel games. Immerse yourself in the stories, characters and worlds of Marvel like never before. Stay connected to all of the latest developments, and gain access to S.H.I.E.L.D.’s detailed files on the Avengers, their strongest allies, and greatest foes!

This is just the beginning of an epic storyline, continued across all Marvel XP games, unlike anything you’ve experienced before in games. Your progress and actions in Marvel XP enabled games unlock new exclusive content:

o Earn Award badges for your feats and victories.
o Compile Dossiers on the allies you’ve recruited and the enemies you’ve defeated.
o Receive News bulletins about the unfolding events in an epic, multi-game storyline.
o Chart your adventure throughout the entire Marvel Gaming Universe.

As Marvel XP grows we’ll be unlocking new features and content from many of Marvel’s most beloved creators. Connect and share your experience with friends, unlock exclusive Marvel content not available anywhere else, and get recommendations from Marvel’s huge library of books and comics.

Prepare yourself for the ultimate Marvel Experience.

September 4, 2012

***AVENGERS INITIATIVE***

December 12, 2012

***AVENGERS INITIATIVE - CAPTAIN AMERICA***

December 19, 2012

MARVEL XP LEVELLING UPDATE!

ShieldLevelUp

A mole has infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D. using weaknesses caused by the Pulse! The Marvel XP leveling system and database are being rebooted. Your level may change but S.H.I.E.L.D. will continue to recognize each level you gain with special ongoing rewards. Play Avengers Initiative to help uncover the culprit.

December 21, 2012

BEAT HULKBUSTER!

Marvel XP - Beat Hulkbuster

Defeat Hulkbuster Iron Man in Avengers Initiative and unlock Iron Man’s Classic Mark V costume in Avengers Alliance!

RESCUE MOCKINGBIRD!

Marvel XP - Rescue Mockingbird

Defeat Taskmaster three times consecutively without losing or retreating (3 complete game play without losing or retreating) to help Mockingbird escape in Avengers Initiative and unlock Mockingbird in Avengers Alliance!

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