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Act 1, Scene 2: Three Beauties and a Beast

A Ranma ½/Avengers fusion by DB Sommer

Disclaimer: Ranma ½ owned by Rumiko Takahashi and whomever she sold the rights to. The Avengers are owned by Marvel Comics. Yes, the superheroes, not the British TV Series.

As always, all C&C appreciated. You can contact me at: sommer@3rdm.net

And the rain came falling down.

To the inhabitants of Nerima, it seemed the rains never stopped for very long. It would rain at least once every third day, and the citizens still talked about the vicious thunderstorm that had appeared out of nowhere two months ago and nearly flooded the district. Only recently had people stopped looking up to the skies with trepidation when the rains came. Currently, no tension was present as a light rain began to fall, bringing in temporary relief from the late summer heat wave that had just rolled in.

The two newcomers to Nerima were unaware of the unusual weather conditions of late. What they did notice, as they walked down the street, was that they were receiving more than their fair share of odd stares. Of course that was probably the normal reaction to a teenage boy that used a red, white, and blue shield with a white star in the middle as an umbrella while scolding a rather large panda behind him.

"…and it's all your fault, Pop!" Ranma said to the large soaking furball that trailed behind him.

A sign appeared in the panda's hand. *It's not my fault you were clumsy and fell into that cursed spring.*

"What do you mean it's not your fault?! You're the one that knocked me into it!" the boy shouted back.

*A superhero martial artist must be prepared for anything at all times.*

"There ain't nobody in the world that can be prepared for their old man turning into a panda and attacking them!" Ranma snapped back. The argument seemed to die after that, and the two relaxed just a little more. They only made their way a little further down the street until Ranma spoke again. "Where are we going anyway, Pop?"

*We're…uh…going to see an old friend of mine.*

Ranma tensed up. It didn't take long to learn the little nuances that panda sign language gave away on a 'speaker's' feelings, especially when there were hesitations like the one his father had just demonstrated.

Something really bad was going on. "Why?"

*No reason in particular. You're just going to be engaged to one of his daughters*

"WHAT?!" Ranma bellowed, causing everyone to stop what they were doing and stare at him. "Exactly when were you planning on telling me of this?!"

*When we got there. That would give you plenty of time to adjust to your new sit…* The panda suddenly realized he was talking to Ranma's back as the boy turned around and began walking in the direction that they had originally come.

A 'Garumph,' caught Ranma's attention and he turned around to confront the panda once again. He knew what his father was going to say, and headed him off. "To hell with this fiancee stuff! I'm going to do something important, like going back to China and getting a cure."

*No you're not. You're going to marry a Tendou and become a superhero.*

"I ain't gonna be a superhero, you stupid old man," Ranma growled once again, nearly moving the shield too far to the right and allowing rain to fall upon him.

The panda gave him an offended look. *How can you say that after what I went through to get that costume and shield for you?*

"Whaddya mean what you went through?" Ranma spluttered out. "You won that stupid shield in a card game from that American scientist. You were pissed as hell until you found out it was indestructible. And as to the costume, well, I don't think mom would be too happy about what you went through to get it."

*W…what do you mean?*

Ranma gave him an evil glare. "We didn't have no money to buy the dumb costume, and I saw how that seamstress was looking at you. How did you pay for something that elaborate, huh, Pop?"

The panda looked nervously back and forth, sweat joining the rain that had already dampened his fur. *It was for the cause. Besides, I didn't let things go far and I never had any intention of doing the things she suggested. Why do you think we left in the dead of night right after we got it? Your mother is the only one for me, so don't tell her, please.*

"So you swindled her, too?" If he hadn't been using the shield to keep the rain off himself, he would have held his hands up in disgust.

*It was the only way to make you a paragon of virtue for this nation; a symbol which would represent the common will of the people. Besides, your mother made us promise we'd use that super-soldier serum to help every…where are you going?*

Ranma looked over his shoulder at the panda he had left behind once again.

"I'm a guy, not a paragon. I'm outta here." He walked away again.

This time the panda did nothing to catch Ranma's attention. Instead, he went over to a nearby stop sign, ripped it out of the ground, and tiptoed quickly to catch up to the boy. Seeing the shield still poised above Ranma, the panda drew back the sign and targeted the back of the boy's head.

The blow never arrived. With one fluid motion, Ranma dropped the shield from its position above his head, looped his arm through the straps, and blocked the attempted blow from behind. "You rotten old man!" Ranma shouted along with several other epithets. "I oughta just…" he trailed off as he realized that without the shield to keep the rain from hitting him, his curse had activated.

The now fiery-haired redhead seethed. "Now look at what you made me do!"

The panda switched from the stop sign to one of his own. *This is just a minor inconvenience on the path of becoming a true martial-artist superhero. And I'm sure Tendou raised open-minded daughters.*

Ranma-chan trembled in fury. "If you want a damn superhero so much, you be one! Here's the shield!" Ranma-chan leaped back several meters and threw the shield like a discus, the edge of it slamming into the panda's face.

Even as the target was knocked backwards into unconsciousness, the shield took a high arc into midair and back towards Ranma-chan. Her hand was a blur as she snatched it before it could hit the ground. A moment later, a smile broke out across her face as she admired her handiwork, noting that the rain had finally stopped. "Time to get some hot water," she said as she walked away.

"It was nice seeing you again, Mrs. Godai."

"It's always a pleasure, Akane."

Akane handed the older woman several forms to sign, then watched her walk out the door of Dr. Tofu's offices. She was always a nice enough patient, although her husband was something of a wimp.

Akane looked to see that Kyoko was holding open the door to allow a delivery man to wheel past her with several crates on a dolly. Akane rolled her eyes as the man thanked the older woman, then turned his attention Akane.

"Kawada, I thought you said the stuff we got three days ago was the last shipment," Akane said.

The man in the blue coveralls shrugged. "We found these towards the back of one of the storage rooms. One of the new guys must have misplaced it there. Sorry, Akane."

Akane gave another sigh and held out her hand to accept the form for the latest delivery. They had received so many shipments of crates of equipment over the last two weeks that she was now on a first name basis with two of the delivery men.

All of the crates were from some bio-chemist in the United States that Tofu had met when he was a foreign exchange student. Apparently, the two had hit it off so well that they had remained in touch over the ensuing years. Recently, though, the American had died suddenly and apparently left all of the lab equipment to Tofu. When Akane had tried to find out what sort of equipment it was, Tofu had uncharacteristically become evasive and gave a vague answer to her. That he had not trusted her enough to tell, hurt, but she ignored the pain and continued to do the best work she could. He would trust her enough someday. It would just take time.

As she finished signing, she shouted out, "Dr. Tofu! Some more crates of equipment for you!"

Tofu emerged from his office to examine the delivery himself. Upon seeing it, he gave a broad smile. "I thought there were still a few pieces missing." He thanked Akane and escorted Kawada to the back. Currently, all of the equipment was being set up in an addition Tofu had built onto the back of his offices, the whole thing having been completed less than a month before the first crates came. The addition itself was now locked up tight, Tofu denying anyone entry, even Akane.

Akane watched as they unloaded the crates in front of the addition, then followed Tofu as he escorted Kawada out. Once the man had left, the doctor asked Akane if there were any more appointments. After she informed him that the last two had canceled, he gave her the rest of the day off, telling her he would see her tomorrow after school. Her instincts began caterwauling for her to find some excuse to stay, but her nerve gave out so she simply closed up the office, grabbed her cane, and headed out.

Not having any desire to return home, she elected instead to go out to a nearby park and try to enjoy the weather as best as she could, given her mood. At least the weather was pleasant, though she noted that there were few people outside, apparently not enjoying the light rainfall as she did.

She would have preferred a nice thunderstorm to cheer her up, but changing and summoning one would have been a bad idea. Almost two months ago, after she had first returned to Japan from her Norwegian journey, she summoned a tremendous thunderstorm. Unfortunately, she was still out of practice with her god-like abilities and conjured one that was too big, causing a great deal of havoc throughout the surrounding districts. Since then, she practiced until her control was perfect, and would only occasionally summon light rainfalls when she felt really down. As she looked up to the sky, she noted that it appeared the clouds were breaking up, so she vowed to enjoy the weather for as long as she could.

With a flip of a switch the bright red glow that the lasers had been giving off vanished, allowing the normal white glow of the phosphorescent light to illuminate the test chamber again. A smile broke out across Kodachi Kunou's face as she removed her protective goggles and ran a surface analysis of the 'Iron Rose Mark II' armor. There was only a light bit of scoring that was all but unnoticeable on the night black armor, and that was it as far as damage was concerned. She was now convinced that her new toy was resilient enough to take on any weapon within Kunou Industries' impressive arsenal and still remain functional.

Upon her return to Japan, she had upgraded the armor to its current 'Mark II' designation. The outward appearance had changed little, the only truly noticeable change coming from the now midnight-black coloring of the armor from the gun-metal gray it had originally been. But as to the actual performance of the armor itself, that was different. The improvements she had made in both the equipment and materials had made the armor lighter, even with the dozen new weapons systems she had incorporated into her and Yinsen's masterpiece. The only problem she saw with it was that, in spite of the slight trimming down in size, it was still incredibly huge and bulky. It was so large she doubted anyone would even realize it was actually a woman inside the armor, not that she wanted the world to know it was Kodachi Kunou behind the mask of the Iron Rose. Still, she found herself increasingly disliking the size. She had managed to trim down her life-saving chestplate so that it would not be noticeable behind loose fitting blouses. She could do the same to her armor. There were some ideas she had on radically streamlining it, although she would sacrifice some of the protection the additional armor plating gave her. However, the increase in maneuverability should have made up for that.

There were also some more immediate problems to be concerned about. During her long journey back home, she had been concerned with exactly what to do about the armor. It was indeed powerful, moreso than anything Kodachi had produced over the years. Once her father got his hands on it, he would start mass production of it within a year. But Kodachi was beginning to consider that it might be too powerful. Truly it was a marvel of engineering, the creation of two minds that complemented each other to perfection, but it had only been made under duress and as a matter of survival. Yinsen himself was a man of peace, and he certainly would never have wanted his creation to be shipped out over the open market as a tool of mass destruction.

There was another consideration as well. Kodachi liked using the armor. It made her feel powerful, as though at long last the Black Rose was being allowed to bloom. How ironic that she only felt that way within the confines of a metal shell. Once her father found out, she would be forced to relinquish the armor and the rose would wither and die once more. So she came up with a plan. It was not the best of ones perhaps, but it was what she had come up with given her limited options. She would keep the knowledge of the armor to herself alone, working on it in her private labs while claiming to work on other projects. The only times she would use it would be when no one would notice her absence, and even then she would take steps to make certain no one would make the connection between her and the Iron Rose. Perhaps employing one of the Life Model Decoy's Kunou Industries made for S.H.I.E.L.D., in her image, would be in order.

It had seemed like a workable plan at the time, but it was one which had temporarily become unnecessary. When she had finally returned home, she learned that her father had gone missing. From what others had told her, he had traveled to Hawaii to look over some of the company's pineapple holdings. On the return trip, his private jet disappeared without a trace somewhere over the Pacific. Despite a widespread investigation, nothing had turned up, not even wreckage to indicate the plane had gone down.

Kodachi wasn't certain what to feel. He was her father, and she knew she should have been worried sick over his fate, yet some part of her was glad that she was at least temporarily freed from the bonds he had placed on her. Part of her was sickened by that as well. Yet another wonderful irony that seemed to have become a regular part of her life.

In her father's absence, Tatewaki had been left in charge of things, not that he was the least bit qualified. However, he was the apple (or in this case, pineapple), of her father's eye. There was nothing Tatewaki Kunou could do wrong, and he would be left with everything, no matter how quickly he would lead it into the ground.

But Kunou too ended up doing something unexpected. Apparently, after only being in charge for a week, he decided to go off somewhere alone without notifying anyone and had not been heard from since. Between her own mishap, which was now followed on its heels of the rest of her family's disappearances, Kodachi began to suspect that something more than coincidence that was involved with all of the recent events.

She tried considering every possibility, including who would gain something from the disappearance of all the members of the Kunou family, and she came up with an idea. She had two of the more trusted members of the board look into the public stocks to see if anyone had recently made any large purchases of Kunou Industries shares. If there had been no Kunous present, the company would have been ripe for a hostile takeover.

As she turned away from the testing chamber's control panel, she felt a headache coming on. She was ill-tempered (though capable) for the maneuverings of the business world, preferring the battlefield of the lab instead. What she needed was the feeling of freedom that could be gained only by the use of her new toy. It took her only a few minutes to place the armor in an overly large briefcase and order a car brought to her.

With that completed, it was a quick drive to a burned out warehouse that was located far from the public's prying eyes. Once there, she quickly donned the armor and took off.

The moment she was in the air, her problems seemed to fall away behind her, leaving only a giddiness in her. Everything seemed so alive. The clouds were breaking up, making everything bright and new. The buildings looked majestic. The masses below appeared happy.


The birds were being knocked out of the sky as she flew too fast for the airborne creatures to react. She made a mental note to incorporate some kind of device that would send out a sub-sonic pulse to frighten the birds away. Still, all seemed right in the world. At least for now. In fact, she felt so delighted that she could not help but laugh.


Laughing like that made her feel without a care in the world. All she needed now to achieve true euphoria was to meet a good-looking man. Someone that could show her what it meant to be a woman.

The blinding flash of being teleported disoriented the Hulk for several moments. He was going to ask the purple and green armored man why he had blinded him when his vision began to clear. Shapes swam into focus. He now found himself not on the endless expanse of a white glacier, but in the middle of a busy street with tall buildings on each side. People were everywhere, surrounding him on all sides and staring. A portion of his mind informed him that the crowds and buildings were familiar. It took him a moment to remember why that was.

The Hulk was home.

It was just as he was about to shout out in joy that a nearby woman pointed in his direction and shouted, "M…M…Monster!"

The Hulk spun around. "Where? Where monster? Hulk will smash monster."

The woman's scream seemed to snap everyone out of their stupor as more shouts of 'monster' were heard echoing throughout the crowd and a mad panic ensued. The Hulk tried to look though the mob of humanity to spot the monster everyone was fleeing in terror from, but his efforts were in vain as he failed to spot it, even after the street began to empty out.

That did not matter to him. He would smash the monster and protect all of the people around him. All he had to do was locate and smash it. As he began his intensive search, he took no notice of the news helicopter above him.

Ranma congratulated himself as he emerged from the ladies restroom undetected. It just figured that the mens restroom would have been closed for repairs. Going in as a girl was embarrassing enough, but if he had been caught coming out of there he would have died from embarrassment.

He passed by the large display window of an appliance store. It was as he was using the faint reflection from the glass to make certain his hair wasn't messed up from the water he had dumped over it, that he heard the news report of an emergency. He watched carefully as the reporter loudly described a 'giant rampaging monster' that was terrorizing the districts inhabitants and devouring people's pets in a mad 'orgy of destruction.' To Ranma, the video seemed to show the creature was simply wandering around, but who knew what chaos it had already caused? It didn't matter. It was his duty as a martial artist to help others, and he damn well wasn't going to do it in a stupid costume either.

Besides, from the look of the bruiser, Ranma was probably the only one that was tough enough to stop it.

Yoshi Tanaka's grip tightened on his rifle as he watched the green monster approach the makeshift barricade he and his squad had set up. When he had first gotten the call for a full mobilization of all of the riot control squads, complete with maximum armaments, he had feared some kind of uprising. When he had been told they were not being activated to stop a riot, but a large green monster, he scoffed.

But now, faced with the unmistakable presence of the towering monstrosity, he found his courage wavering. He had been trained to deal with crowds of people or terrorists, not giant, green beasts that looked like they could crumple a Toyota if they sneezed.

He heard several of his men behind him shift nervously and begin to comment on the situation.

"My god! That thing is huge!"

"My god! He looks mean!"

"My god! Just look at his awful fashion sense. Torn purple pants? PUH-lease! That look went out decades ago. And that silly-looking bandanna completely clashes with it!"

All eyes turned to Fuji. "Do you mind?" Yoshi asked just as another man began tapping on Yoshi's shoulder.

"Can we shoot him now?"

"No, Ohta. We'll try to talk him down." He caught sight of Ohta's crestfallen face. "And I mean it this time."

"Yes, sir," he mumbled, then began quietly complaining about how he should have become a mercenary since they got to shoot their guns.

Yoshi examined the approaching creature more closely. There was no way they had cuffs large enough to hold the green goliath. Maybe they could get some steel cable…

His thoughts were cut off abruptly as the Hulk began to walk much more quickly towards the barricade. Maybe Ohta had the right idea in shooting first and asking questions later. No. He had to maintain his professionalism. Besides, he wasn't absolutely certain if bullets would even stop the thing.

He stood up before his unit. "Men. I am going to approach the creature. Whatever you do, don't open fire."

It was of course at that moment that one of the men panicked and shot. With the first round fired, thirty more guns followed suit.

Ranma, was standing atop a nearby roof as he looked down at the scene of carnage before him. Apparently, the television reports were true. He had arrived just in time to see the Hulk crush the last of the five armored cars the police had used in some kind of makeshift barricade to corral the monster. Only now the barricade was composed of five rather large, crumpled balls of metal. The police themselves were scattered about, most of them unconscious. Ranma reevaluated the monster's threat as he watched the Hulk idly brush aside one of the remaining officers with a backhand, knocking him out despite the body armor he was wearing.

"Looks like I'd better get down there and take care of that guy," Ranma said as he cracked his knuckles. Sure, the big green guy might have been able to take care of twenty policemen, but they weren't Ranma Saotome.

*That's the spirit, boy,* Genma-panda 'signed.'

Ranma nearly fell off the roof in surprise. "How'd you find me?"

*I knew where there was danger, you'd be there, being a paragon of superheroism for this country.*

Ranma swatted his panda-father in the head. "I already told ya, I ain't gonna be a superhero! I'm going to take care of this without a stupid-looking costume!"

*I don't think so.* Genma-panda's eye's nearly gleamed with disturbing glee as brought out his claws. This time he caught Ranma unprepared as he lunged forward and ran his arms in a slashing motion towards Ranma. He was past his son even as Ranma brought his arms up to block the attack.

Ranma did a quick assessment of what damage his father had wrought with his pass. As impossible as it seemed, there appeared to be nothing wrong. "Ha! You missed, old man!"

The panda turned his head to look back at his son, and smiled. *Did I?*

Ranma's red and black, Chinese-style outfit fell to pieces on the ground, leaving him clad only in his underwear.

*That was called the 'Clothing Meets the Maker' maneuver that I learned from a horrible person whom I hope you never have to meet. It destroys the clothing while leaving the undergarments intact. Truly it is a terrible technique. Although claws sure make it easier to use. And I have used it on occasion with your mother. Hehe-"

The rest of the message was cut off as Ranma buried his fist in Genma-panda's face. "I don't need to hear nothing about your perversions, you old man!" Ranma made sure his father wasn't getting up any time soon, and rifled through his pack, looking for some other clothes. Somehow his father had shredded those too. That is, all save one item of clothing.

Ranma held up the white and red uniform with the rising sun on it. It might have appeared to be the 'appropriate garb for a superhero' to his father, but to Ranma it just looked stupid. But since it was the only thing he had to wear, it was either that or attack the monster while only in his underwear. After actually considering that for a moment, he sighed and pulled out the uniform, slipping on the mask with the eyes and lower portion of its face cut out and prepared to go into battle. If he had to wear that stupid costume, he sure did not want anyone recognizing him in it.

The Hulk observed the final assailant go unconscious underneath the force of his blow. The men had fired on him, so obviously they were enemies of the Hulk. It was odd, since he didn't think he recognized any of them. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he knew it all had to be someone's else fault. What was the name again? R…Ra…Rambat? No. Ranno? No. It was Ranm-

Something hard landed on top of the Hulk's head, making him lose his concentration. He turned to see the thing that had landed on top of his head now vaulting from it to land several feet in front of him. It was a man, dressed in a form-fitting white outfit with red gloves, boots, and a red, rising sun on across the middle of the body. He also bore a red, white, and blue shield.

"Why clown attack Hulk?" he bellowed at his assailant. Then the shield met his face, causing him to back up a foot, as much from the shock as the momentary pain.

Ranma began quivering in anger. It was all his father's fault. He knew the costume looked dumb. "I ain't no clown, you big green dope. I'm a…" He couldn't bring himself to say the words.

"…ENEMY!" the Hulk shouted out, at last recognizing the costume Ranma wore. It was just like the floating man had said. The man before him was an enemy.

The Hulk charged, seeking to bury a fist in the smaller youth's body. The blow connected with air as the smaller figure seemed to disappear right before his eyes. "Where did clown go?" He then felt something tap him on the back of the head.

Ranma's anger made him ignore the pain his fist was in from hitting the Hulk directly in the skull. "I told you I ain't no clown!" Ranma backed away as it suddenly became obvious his blow had served only to anger his opponent.

Once again the Hulk tried to hit him, and once again the blow missed as Ranma ducked and rolled between the Hulk's legs. This time he went for the backs of the Hulk's knees, managing to make his giant opponent fall backward. Ranma's then leaped up into the air landing with both feet as hard as he could in the Hulk's solar plexus, hoping to wind him. It wasn't even close as Ranma couldn't feel the monster's skin give even an inch. Worse, the Hulk rolled, forcing Ranma off-balance. He was only just starting to recover when the mighty giant regained his own footing and threw a punch towards Ranma. In an instant Ranma brought his shield up to block the blow. When he had first gotten the shield, he had tested its durability and knew it could absorb any punishment with no ill effect. He was already calculating his next move as the Hulk's fist impacted with the circle of metal…

…and Ranma found himself hurled more than thirty feet away, landing solidly on his back and ending up temporarily winded.

The Hulk smiled as he observed his fallen foe and decided what to do to him next. It took but a moment for him to make what he considered a small leap, only fifteen feet or so in the air, and aim his landing point right for the fallen masked man. Just as he was about to connect, Ranma rolled out of the way. The Hulk gave a dissatisfied grunt until the unexpected happened.

Due to his large frame and mass, (combined with the armored car he had bounced like a giant basketball at one point) the particular part of street he landed on was worn, causing the pavement to buckle and give way, causing him to fall into the ground below.

Ranma began laughing as he watched the surprised look on the Hulk's face as he fell into the earth. "What a moron! Hahahaha!"

It was as Ranma was laughing that the asphalt below his feet erupted and two enormous green hands burst through it, latching onto his ankles with a firm grip. He found himself upended as the Hulk pried himself out of the street, maintaining a firm grip on Ranma's ankles. The world turned upside down for the young warrior as he found himself looking into the eyes of an enraged behemoth.

"Hulk smash enemy!" he growled as his gaze tore into Ranma's eyes.

Ranma gave a smile. "Hey, Bulk!"

"Name is Hulk! Not Bulk!"

"You want to know what the most powerful thing about you is?"

The Hulk released one of Ranma's ankles and scratched his head. "What?"

"Your breath." And with that Ranma brought the edge of the shield right between the Hulk's eyes. There was enough force behind the blow that it would probably have decapitated a normal man, but given the Hulk's tough hide, Ranma just hoped that it would be enough to make him release the hold.

Ranma got his wish, though not quite in the way he wanted. The Hulk released him, but only by drawing back his arm and hurling him at a wall, as the Hulk himself howled in pain. It was only Ranma's superior reflexes that prevented him from ending up a colored splotch on the bricks as he twisted his body in midair and managed to use his momentum to bounce off the wall and land on his feet on the ground.

"Hey, ugly!" Ranma stuck out his tongue at his opponent, only fueling the red-hot shards of anger that overwhelmed the emerald giant. With an incomprehensible roar, the Hulk charged at Ranma full-bore.

Rather than try to move out of the way, Ranma stood his ground, remaining completely motionless. Had the Hulk been in control of his temper, he might have given pause as to Ranma's seeming obliviouness to the danger, but a haze of red was all that existed in his mind.

The Hulk saw himself lunge over Ranma's form, arms outstretched, when Ranma's hands lashed out and he grabbed the Hulk by the wrist. Using a leverage maneuver, he redirected the Hulk's momentum as the huge goliath was sent hurtling into the side of a building, collapsing a wall in the process. Having learned of the Hulk's impressive durability from his previous crash, it came as no surprise to Ranma that he quickly got back to his feet, angrier than ever.

It was going to be a long day.

"Get those cameras into place!" News reporter Akemi Shutaro turned away from the scene of destruction that the two opponents were waging and looked at the men that had been assigned to her to cover the 'Mad Creature' story. Her boss was angry enough that Arika Miamata and channel 4 had already gotten the scoop on her and the station, but if they couldn't even get down there to send live images of the fight, Akemi might as well not bother going back to the station.

The cameras were set up, and Akemi began to consider what to say as they prepared to go live on the air. She made up a quick, simple speech in her mind and began. "This is Akemi Shutaro of channel six news, proud to bring you live coverage of the emerald monstrosity and mysterious masked man that are doing battle in the streets of Nerima. The two as yet unidentified participants are waging aAHH!"

Akemi suddenly discovered a large panda directly in front of her. She was about to bash it in the head with her microphone when it held up a sign.

*I know who that heroic paragon of superheroism is.*

Genma-panda found himself lifted up by the fur on his neck. "Tell me," Akemi growled, smelling blood as she knew she was at last going to get the scoop on that bitch, Arika. The next news award would go to her instead of that undeserving little hussy that had slept her way to the top.

*His name is Captain Japan. He is Japan's greatest superhero. He is a man among men. A hero among heroes. A…* He brought a paper out from his fur and read it. *…symbol of our country's greatness and what it means to be Japanese.* Genma-panda sighed in relief. That was all of the points his wife had made him promise to make Ranma into.

"Captain Japan sounds dumb," one of the cameramen said.

"Yeah, it is," another mentioned.

"'Rising Sun' sounds better."

"And exactly how would a mere panda know all of this?" Akemi asked.

Genma-panda suddenly appeared nervous. *Umm. I'm his cute animal sidekick.*

The comments began again.

"You're not very cute."

"I thought only magical girls had cute animal sidekicks."

"Why do people call them sidekicks anyway? Are you kicked to the side often?"

Akemi came to Genma-panda's defense. "Well, I think he's a cute animal sidekick." And pinched his cheek for emphasis. Genma-panda placed his hand behind his head and laughed nervously. Maybe reporters weren't such bad people after all.

The Iron Rose decided to listen to some music as she soared through the air. It was as she was going through the stations that she heard the news report about a fight in downtown Nerima between a monster and a masked man. Using her armor's global positioning system, she redirected her flight directly towards the area.

Other eyes watched the drama unfolding before it. Multiple screens that took up one side of a huge room broadcasted coverage of the events unfolding in Nerima. A huge monster had easily demolished several squads of law enforcement officers without breaking out a sweat. It was now trying to destroy an elusive man with a curiously durable shield. Very interesting indeed.

A pair of hands clapped, summoning forth a diminutive man dressed in an immaculate gray uniform. "Yes, M'lady?"

"Roquat. I believe that our recent acquisition has gained me several interesting toys," the woman spoke while idly resting in her chair. "I wish to test one of them out against this creature. Let's see if Mishima Heavy Industries had anything worthwhile. Use that flying prototype."

"And the protocols for this mission, M'Lady?" the little man asked.

"I want to see the full capabilities of the machine. No restraints. And if there should happen to be civilian casualties, well, it's not as though Japan has any shortage of people, is it?"

"No, M'Lady. It is not. The prototype shall be airborne within the next five minutes."

Ranma felt his pride suffering as he found himself backing away once again. There was nothing that could be done about it. Nothing he did seemed to really hurt the monster. Even tricking the beast into running into the fallen power lines only served to slow him down for several seconds. Ramming his face into the shield did little good either, only feeding the monster's seemingly limitless anger. Though his reflexes and agility clearly surpassed the Hulk's, even Ranma's tremendous stamina was being taken to the limit.

If there had been any doubt in Ranma's mind that he was beginning to tire, it was quickly erased as the Hulk came close enough to snag the front of Ranma's costume, specifically in the chest area. It took all of Ranma's strength to tear out of the grasp of his opponent, though it cost him the entire front of his costume as it was left behind in the Hulk's grasp. Not that that was a great loss considering how much he hated the thing anyway. With great reluctance Ranma decided it was time to unveil the Saotome Secret Technique and come up with another plan of action.

Ranma began running away.

The Hulk looked down at the piece of costume that was still in his hand. That was the closest he had come to solidly hitting his enemy and still the tiny man eluded his righteous vengeance. He looked away from the white and red cloth towards Ranma once again, only to see him begin to retreat from the field of battle at a rapid clip.

"Enemy no run away!" The Hulk bellowed in rage at the smaller youth, and he brought his arms together with such force that a tremendous shockwave emanated from the force of the blow. The shockwave caught Ranma fully, stunning and throwing him more than twenty feet forward, his flight coming to a stop as he landed in the basin of a large fountain.

The Hulk stalked forward menacingly towards his fallen foe, noting that the fallen youth was barely moving in the water. The Hulk brought his fist downward as his enemy at last sat up, giving the Hulk an unrestricted view of her generous bosom.

The Hulk's brain fixated on that one new fact: her bosom. His fist stopped abruptly stopped no more than six inches from the target's head, then twin gouts of green blood flew from the Hulk's nostrils as he felt lightheaded and dizzy. He began to back away, anger inexplicably turning into embarrassment. It was just as he was covering his eyes and about to stammer out an apology, that twin beams of energy struck him cleanly in the chest, causing him far worse pain than anything that his previous enemy had done to him.

As he tried focusing his attention on where the beams had originated, a black armored figure flew down directly in front of him and punched him with a metal encased fist. This time it was the Hulk who was sent flying through the air, his flight only stopping when he struck the side of a previously damaged building, causing the entire structure to collapse around him.

The burial lasted only a moment as the Hulk hurled the debris off, sending it in every direction. As he rose to his feet, he at last caught a good view of his opponent.

"Why did stupid-looking stove person attack Hulk?"

"I DO NOT LOOK LIKE A STOVE!!!" That did it. Kodachi decided she was going to streamline the armor the first chance she got.

"Hulk think stove person should take a look in the mirror."

The Iron Rose kept her anger in check, though a part of her relished the opportunity to give full release to her emotions, unconcerned with how the others viewed her. She gave a sneer of disdain beneath the armor. "Insulting monster, it is time to bring your unchecked rampage to an end."

The Hulk seemed stunned at the accusation. "Hulk not monster. Hulk, Hulk."

"Whatever." Dozens of ribbon-like projections shot out from the gauntlets of the Iron Rose's armor, wrapping themselves tightly around the Hulk's head and chest. He was about to rip them to shreds when five hundred thousand volts of current shot through the ribbons, flowing directly into his body. The Iron Rose gave a hearty laugh as the Hulk's legs buckled under the electrical assault.

Ranma-chan shook her head free of the haze it had been under from the moment she had been caught in the Hulk's tremendous clap. She had just regained her feet when she found herself surrounded by a news team and her father/panda.

The woman bearing the microphone stepped forward and took charge of the situation. "Once again this is Akemi Shutaro bringing you the scoop on what appears to be Japan's newest superhero." She thrust the microphone into Ranma-chan's face. "Excuse me, Miss. But what connection do you have to Captain Japan?"

"Who?" Ranma-chan got out as she found herself blinded by a light.

"You know, the guy who was fighting that monster. Are you his other sidekick? What's your name? How did you pull that switch with your partner? What attack did you use that caused the monster to pull back like that? And is going around topless part of your costume design?"

Ranma-chan looked down and suddenly realized why it was so drafty out. The second realization, that her bare chest was now being broadcast to the entire nation of Japan, caused her to give out an 'Eek!' and cover herself up. She turned away from the camera, covering her chest as best she could while tearing off the remainder of her costume's top. She hurriedly managed to create a makeshift top that just barely covered her essentials.

A groan of despair issued from the two male members of the news crew. One of them said, "Aww. I think your costume looked better without the top."

"Shut up, pervert!" Ranma-chan landed a red-booted kick on his jaw. The other crewman mentioned he thought it was in much better taste to have a top with the costume.

Once again Akemi thrust the microphone in Ranma-chan's face. "Are you Captain Japan's girlfriend?"

"Who the hell is Captain Japan?" Ranma-chan asked once again.

"You know," Akemi said, exasperated enough that she felt like smacking the young girl in the head. "The hunk with the shield that was fighting the green guy."

For the first few seconds, all Ranma-chan could do was blink. Then the words set in. "Who told you that was his name?!"

Genma-panda was beside her in a flash. *It was me. Pretty cool, huh?*

Ranma-chan grabbed him by the throat. "What kind of stupid things are you tell-" The redhead was cut off as the microphone found its way between her and Genma-panda.

"And what is your name?" Akemi asked, smelling a raise if she managed to get this scoop too.

"I'm RanMURF!" Ranma-chan found herself cut off as Genma-panda clamped his paw over her mouth.

He raised a sign. *This is Captain Japan's official human sidekick: Bucky.*

That was the final straw. Wiggling free, the redhead grabbed the sign and broke it over her father's head. "Where the hell did you come up with that one?!"

"There you have it, folks," Akemi said, now focusing her complete attention on the camera. "We have now met Captain Japan's official sidekick, Bucky. A name that is as mysterious as the hero whom she follows. What is the relationship between the two? Are they lovers?"

"Of course not, you pervert! And my name's not Bucky!" Ranma-chan shouted as she hit her father again for good measure. She was fed up with the whole situation. If being a superhero wasn't bad enough, now she was two. She was about to tell Akemi the whole situation when the sound of tearing metal caught her attention.

She turned to see that the Hulk's armored foe had her metal ribbons ripped to shreds, The Hulk overcoming the amperage running through him. In the process of destroying the ties that bound him, he had thrown the Iron Rose off balance, giving him an opening with which to bring his fist into her form. The top of the fountain was destroyed as the force of the blow sent her flying through the air, just as she had done to the Hulk earlier.

Ranma-chan told the others to get out of the area while she hurried to the Iron Rose's fallen form. "Are you all right?"

Kodachi cleared the ringing out of her ears long enough to catch what 'Bucky' was saying. "Yes. It will take more than that to prevent the Iron Rose from saving the day."

"Nice name," Bucky said, lamenting the fact that her father couldn't have come up with a cool name like that for her.

"Stay back while I deal with the beast." The Iron Rose manually targeted the Hulk's approaching form. Once she was certain he was in her line of fire, she discharged her specially designed chest laser. It was one of the few weapons she had taken the time to give a special touch. One three hundred thousandth of the laser's power was shunted to forming the shape of a rose blossoming from the center of the beam. The brief image was there but for a moment before the beam shot outward and struck the Hulk dead center, the sudden pain from it causing his knees to buckle.

"OHHOHOHOHO! Victory is mine!" Kodachi shouted out in glee at her fallen foe. The heady feeling of victory threatened to overwhelm her as she reveled in her display of superiority over her foe. Truly, donning the armor was the best thing that had ever happened in the brief life of the Black Rose.

"I wouldn't count him out yet," Ranma-chan warned as she saw the Hulk's eyes practically turn red from anger.

The Iron Rose scoffed. "The simpleton, for all of his muscle, is no match for the wondrous weaponry of my armor. None can stand up to my might."

"Hulk not need to stand to knock stupid stove person off his feet!" The Hulk dug his fingers deep into the asphalt of the street and pulled up, tearing up a huge section of the lane, including the part both Bucky and the Iron Rose stood upon. The nature of the attack caught even the more agile Ranma-chan off-guard as she suddenly found herself hurled head over heels, landing on her back and then having several pieces of asphalt land on her.

The Iron Rose was just reorienting herself from her unexpected trip when she caught sight of the Hulk's upraised fist over her head. It took her a moment to realize that this was the exact same pose the Hulk had when she had first flown overhead and spotted him about to hit the girl in the fountain. Only this time there was no armored hero to save her.

Akane Tendo did not have the luxury of having a television or a radio close by to inform her of the war zone that Nerima had unexpectedly become, like Ranma and Kodachi had when they had first heard about the Hulk. She was made aware of the fact by the sounds of explosions and buildings falling, their noise destroying the relative calm of the park. Identifying that it was the sound of trouble that was assailing her ears, she decided on a course of action instantly. People might be in trouble, which meant she had to go and help.

She ducked behind some bushes, then brought her cane down on the ground. A flash of lighting struck the area, a bolt which would have blinded anyone had they been present. Once the light disappeared, Thor, Goddess of Thunder strode Midgard once more. Spinning her mystic hammer in a circular motion at her side, she hurled it away, the enchantment on it enabling her to fly by maintaining her grip on the leather thong as Mjolnir cut through the air. She made a direct line for the cloud of dust that rose from the unexpected urban renewal Nerima was under going.

In less than thirty seconds, Thor was directly overhead and witnessed the Hulk getting ready to strike an armored warrior. Deciding the monster was the one that was undoubtedly the cause of the war zone her district had become, Thor changed the direction of her flight and aimed straight for the Hulk. "Turn and face the Goddess of Thunder, beast!"

The Hulk turned in rage towards the person who dared to interrupt him as he was about to deal out his righteous vengeance. He turned to the sky, and one thought suddenly overcame all the others.

"Oh. Hammer girl pretty."

Further thoughts on the matter ended rather abruptly as Thor connected with a powerful haymaker straight to the Hulk's open jaw. His head snapped back as he felt light-headed once again, this time not from embarrassment or blood loss.

Thor looked on, impressed. "Few are there that can withstand the might of mine blow. But fall you must." And with that she drew back her hammer and connected solidly with the Hulk's skull once more, this time with the full power of Mjolnir.

The Hulk's head snapped back again. He fell backward this time, landing on his bottom. His head wobbled back and forth as he tried to follow the motion of the stars that seemed to be twirling around his head. The stars weren't as pretty as the hammer girl, though.

Thor looked on in surprise. "The beast must have the blood of storm giants running through his veins to remain conscious after that blow." She was reluctant to strike out at the semi-fallen form again. Perhaps he was simply dumb, and it would take several extra moments for him to realize he should be unconscious.

Colonel Yamaguchi looked towards the satellite image of the scene of devastation on the screen. He turned from the tableau before him to look once again at Professor Anno. "Tell me again why you won't obey our command?"

Professor Anno scowled at the man once again. "Sir. The Super X-1 was designed to be used against Godzilla. Simply put, it lacks the precision necessary to be used against a man-sized target like that green monster, especially in an urban theater. Collateral damage from employing any of the weapon systems would be unacceptable. And unless you completely evacuate the area, the chance of innocents being killed is too great."


Col. Yamaguchi turned in irritation towards the soldier manning the communications console. "What is it?"

"We have visual confirmation on an unidentified flying object entering the targets' airspace. It is definitely not one of ours."

The colonel felt his headache worsen. Somehow he had a feeling that things had just gotten worse.

Ranma-chan was still thinking evil thoughts of her father as she pried herself up from the wreckage of the street. How had the blimp come up with names as stupid as Captain Japan and Bucky? And how the heck was she supposed to be both a superhero AND her own sidekick?

She walked over to stand next to the tall newcomer with the metal winged helmet and hammer. The woman was obviously a foreigner, but it had sounded to Ranma-chan like she had spoken Japanese, though with an archaic dialect. "Nice job there, uh, Miss."

Thor turned to look at the small red-haired girl that wore a strip of cloth that just barely covered her chest, and red mask. " I am Thor, Goddess of Thunder. Thou should leave the area, harlot."

It took a moment for Ranma-chan to translate that. "Hey! I ain't no harlot!"

"Judging by your raiment, I presume thou art a harlot of some kind. No woman of decency would go about in such tawdry clothing that was obviously meant to tempt men's desires. Even at her worst, the Enchan…" Thor suddenly felt dizzy as a pain went through her skull. There had been something she had been about to say. Something about a woman with platinum blonde hair that had attempted to kiss him…no. That should have been 'her', not 'him.' She was confused.

"Hey, you okay?" Ranma-chan moved to help the suddenly swaying woman. She was at her side just in time to catch her as she began to fall. Unfortunately for the newly dubbed Bucky, Thor's weight proved far greater than it appeared, and she was nearly bowled over as she tried to support the taller woman's frame. In so doing, she had to shift her grip slightly in order to better support the goddess.

The pain passed as Thor's thought's cleared. It was as the ache subsided that she noticed a not altogether unpleasant sensation coming from her chest. She looked down to see that there was now a hand upon her breast, squeezing it slightly.

Hand squeezing her breast? Her eyes followed the hand to the arm, then followed the arm to the body, then followed the body to the head. Recognition followed. "PERVERT, UNHAND ME!"

Bucky barely got out of the way of the blow aimed at her head as Thor regained her feet.. "It wasn't my fault! You're heavier than you look."

Thor's face began to twitch. "Didst thou call me fat?"

"That wasn't what I said at all!" Ranma-chan protested. She turned to the recovered Iron Rose. "You tell her."

"It sounded like you called her fat to me," the Iron Rose answered. Certainly that was the way Kodachi would have interpreted it if someone had said that to her.

Bucky looked at her in shock. "I did not! I just said she was heavier than she looked."

"Pretty hammer girl not fat!"

"Exactly." Thor nodded appreciatively at the Hulk's defense as he came up to stand at her side. "It was…Od's blood!" Thor exclaimed as she realized that the Hulk had indeed recovered. Never had anyone recuperated so quickly from two of her blows.

Before yet another battle could erupt, the final player arrived at the scene.

Floating on nearly silent fanjets, the discus shaped aircraft had flown as low as ten feet off the ground and traveled at speeds in excess of two hundred kilometers per hour, changing its altitude only when confronted with an obstruction in its flight path. The circular craft was dull sliver, with black stripes along its wing tips and in two long lines across the top and bottom portion of the craft. Two white ovals protruded from the tiny nose at the front of the vehicle, almost like eyes, giving it the appearance of a feral animal sizing up its prey. Where once there were seats designed for pilots in the craft, there now rested an advanced Mujuru 5000 computer system that was designated as being superior to any human that could pilot the craft. It was able to simultaneously track more than thirty individual targets and employ any of its fifty-two various weapon systems in the most appropriate fashion in less than 0.3 seconds. It was the pinnacle of what had been Mishima Heavy Industries Weapons Department.

Poison One was prepared for combat.

Blue eyes watched Poison One's external monitors as the aircraft hovered overhead.

The diminutive man spoke once again. "It appears the fighting has stopped, as well as several other people appearing in the combat zone. What shall we do, M'Lady?"

"What shall we do?" she repeated. "More people mean more targets to test the weapons systems on. Eliminate every living thing in the target zone."

The man bowed and relayed the orders to Poison One.

The hair on the back of Bucky's neck stood up as the Iron Rose shouted, "My sensor's indicate a power build-up from that craft. I think it's getting ready to-"

"DUCK!" Bucky shouted as she saw the metal projections suddenly pop out from a concealed spot on the wings. White light formed in front of the projections, giving her only a moment to hurl herself, shield first, in front of the person closest to her that it was targeting: Thor.

Thor's reactions were slower as she managed to do no more than raise her arm in front of her before Poison One fired a set of its wing lasers at her. She was amazed to see the small form of Bucky leap in front of her and take the brunt of the laser with the shield.

The other target of the wing lasers was not so lucky. The Hulk found himself struck in the chest by the white hot beams of energy coming from the left wing, and howled in pain from the coherent beam of light.

The Iron Rose had been in the air a second after she had determined the assault craft weapons had been powering up. She flew to the left side of the craft, hoping to flank it as she brought her arms up and prepared to unleash a pair of palm mounted repulsor blasts at the craft. Just as she rose up to the height of the airborne attacker, a panel slid aside to reveal a three-by-three grid of cylinders hidden within. The Iron Rose had only one second to recognize the nature of the device before it launched a series of nine slender missiles at her.

"Oh dear," she said quietly as she tried to dodge the barrage. She evaded the first five missiles, but due to the armor's tremendous weight, combined with her inexperience, allowed the remaining four to hit. The impact of the explosions sent her spiraling into the ground, striking the street hard and damaging even more of the area around her. The scent of something burning assailed her nostrils. Quickly she gave the voice command to run a diagnostic check. Within moments the report came up, showing damage to thirty percent of her systems. The extra armor was paying off, and she began to reconsider streamlining the armor.

The moment the lasers discontinued their sustained burst, the Hulk was ready to retaliate. He said no words. Rather, leg muscles that could propel him five miles in a single jump tensed up as the Hulk crouched for a moment, then leaped, aiming for Poison One.

The Mujuru 5000 instantly calculated the Hulk's leap and spun on its axis, suddenly becoming perpendicular to the ground. The Hulk shot past where the left wing had been a second ago and continued upward. As he passed, Poison One tilted back so that it was parallel to the ground once more. On the top of the vehicle, yet another metal panel peeled back and the barrels of four machine guns poked out. They took only a moment to track the Hulk's now descending form, and began firing experimental, armor piercing, explosive bullets into him. The Hulk's hide was far too thick for even those rounds to pierce, and they bounced off of him instead, though the kinetic energy from the impacts still caused him pain.

Even as the Hulk was being fired upon, Poison One discontinued its ineffectual laser shot at Bucky, the computer determining no damage was being done to the target. In less than a second a new course of action was decided upon and another weapon was activated from the underside of the hovering craft.

Bucky felt the lasers at last stop and poked her head from above her shield. A second later, she felt herself picked up by the back of her neck by the woman she had just saved.

"What the heck do you think you're doing?!" Bucky exclaimed into the irate face of Thor.

"The Goddess of Thunder does not need the protection of mortals. Better to keep thou out of harms way." With that said, she casually tossed the redhead more than twenty feet away, and in the opposite direction from Poison One.

Bucky landed on her feet, more angry now than when she had been fired upon. "Where do you get off telling me I can't defend my… LOOK OUT!"

Thor turned just in time to see a nozzle extend from the bottom of the aircraft and shoot some kind of pink spray at her, quickly covering her from head to toe. She was about to growl out how demeaning it was for her to be attacked with a giant squirt gun, but then felt her limbs suddenly stiffen.

"Good lord! That's a molecular bonding Shimataka plastic!" The Iron Rose shouted as she regained her feet. The substance was incredibly expensive, a gallon of it costing almost as much as a conventional tank. Whoever was behind the aircraft must have had unbelievable financing. She activated her loudspeakers and turned her attention to Bucky. "Once that makes contact with the air, it'll become five times harder than titanium! We have to get it off her before she suffocates!"

Bucky was about to run to the pink lump that had just been Thor, when she saw cracks begining to form on the plastic. She barely got her shield up in time before the cocoon exploded outward, throwing pieces everywhere.

Thor glared in fury at the metal object before her. "Enough, mortal chariot! Thou hast incurred the full wrath of Thor!" And with that she threw her hammer. Even the computer systems aboard the Poison One were unable to compensate for the velocity at which the hammer traveled, and Mjolnir struck the aircraft directly on its nose. Four layers of armor were peeled back as the craft was hurled back twenty feet, before internal gyroscopes compensated for the unplanned movement.

It had just finished righting itself when its targeting computer spotted the Hulk trying to attack it from behind. Twin nozzles extended from the rear of the craft this time, hurling a combination of napalm and white phosphorous at its would-be attacker. Rather than succumb to the heat, the Hulk jumped anyway, this time connecting with the rear of the craft and sending it end over end as though it were some kind of poorly thrown frisbee. It deflected off of two buildings before righting itself again.

The Hulk was dismayed to discover that even though Poison One had stopped shooting him, the flames remained, clinging to his skin. He roared out in pain as the heat began to get to him.

Thor, despite her fight with the Hulk before, could not bear to see him suffering so. "I shall summon a storm to ease the beast's pain."

"Water won't put it out," the Iron Rose warned. "We need something to remove the substance from the skin itself."

"Then I shall employ the winds to do mine task." Thor began to spin her hammer by the thong, faster than any human could hope to do. Within moments a gale force wind emanated from it. The Hulk felt the winds come and braced himself as best he could. The wind proved sufficient as the gel was blown from his body, while his hair remained backward with a windswept appearance.

As Thor admired her handiwork, Bucky spoke up from her side. "Guess who's back."

All gazes turned skyward to Poison One's reappearance. Over a dozen gun ports opened up across the width of the vehicle, all of them aimed towards the quartet of people below it.

"As much I've enjoyed the exhilaration of this combat, I've grown weary of these games." The Iron Rose raised her arms and used both repulsors, as well as her chest laser. Damage from the combined blows of Thor and the Hulk to the computer's evasion circuits prevented Poison One from reacting in time as all three beams struck home. Blasts of energy were joined by a Toyota, hurled harder than any cannonball, by the Hulk. Again armor plating crumpled as the automobile ricocheted off the main body of the vehicle.

Seeing Poison One withering under the assault, Thor at last took her turn. Smiling at long last being given a chance to use her full power, she brought her hammer down, summoning a tremendous bolt of lighting from the heavens that crashed down directly upon the center of the craft. Currents of electricity leaped about its surface as its electrical shielding was overpowered by the amount of amperage that struck its metal surface. Smoke began to pour from various rents in the craft as it wobbled in midair.

The woman glared at the screen before her. "It appears Poison One was not as promising as I had hoped. I'm afraid we'll have to scrap the whole project. Roquat."

The smaller man turned stiffly towards the woman once again. "M'Lady?"

"According to the damage report, the gravity cannon is still operational."

"True, M'Lady. However its a fairly useless weapon. The amount of power it draws from the craft would drain its primary systems dry in less than a minute."

"That's all right," the woman assured him. "It only takes forty seconds to overload the main power core. That should effectively eradicate any evidence, as well as those annoying people."

"The detonation will completely obliterate ten city blocks," Roquat pointed out.

"Good point. Have our construction businesses standing by to take the rebuilding contracts. We should make a fortune in the aftermath."

"Well done, M'Lady." Roquat bowed before her.

The Iron Rose's eyes widened as the craft's bottom tilted in their direction and a large greenish light built up on the underside. She recognized the distortion effect in less than a second.

"Gravity wave!" It was too late. The greenish distortion leaped forward, catching her in its effect. Her mind raced even as the increase in gravity suddenly pinned her to the ground. Gravity cannons took an ungodly amount of power to run. None of her readouts on the craft indicated it had that level of power within it. She did a quick analysis of the craft as she diverted power to her musculature in the hopes of being able to get out of the gravity effect. As she got the feedback on the analysis, she at last understood what was about to happen.


"It appears everything is going well," the woman commented.

"M'Lady," Roquat interrupted. "It appears only three of the targets were caught in the gravity cannon's blast."

Bucky had just barely ducked under the distortion effect as it passed overhead. Even catching only the faintest portion of the blast had weighed her down, forcing her to use every ounce of her strength to continued rolling until the effects were non-existent. She ducked behind the shattered remains of a building to evaluate the situation. Bad enough that her fight with the Hulk was inconclusive, but during the entire fight with the strange vehicle she had been all but ineffectual, angering her to no end. She had to do something to prove to the others she was not some sort of wimp that let others do her fighting for her. Noting the other three had been caught in the gravity blast, it now fell to her to take the flying vehicle out.

Her eyes looked over the damaged vehicle. There were rents and tears all over its exterior and smoke was pouring from a number of places all over the craft. There had to be some spot she could strike out at. Some part which would disable the craft.

Then she saw it. A large portion of the armor towards the nose of Poison One had been torn away when Thor had thrown her hammer at it. The craft was still slightly tilted towards Bucky's direction and she saw what appeared to be computer consoles in the nose. She was willing to bet that was what ran the ship, and that it would be far easier to damage those then it would the exterior of the vehicle.

A plan formed in her mind instantly. She ran out from the cover of rubble and charged the craft. Poison One detected Bucky's charge and side armaments popped into view. Bucky saw the weapons but continued charging, shield held at the ready, dodging back and forth as she continued her run.

A missile just missed her as a hail of bullets rang off her shield. She weathered the storm of fire and leaped up, her finger catching the edge of a hole in the metal. She swung her legs back once, and executed a flip onto the top of the craft. Poison One could not actually move its position without losing its targeting on the three people in front of it, so it diverted power to the metal skin, raising the surface temperature of the craft in the hopes of frying the intruder.

Bucky felt her feet begining to get hot as the surface of the craft grew to an almost scorching heat. She leaped onto the nose of the craft, straddling the nose, ignoring the heat as she felt her calves begin to burn, and wedged her shield into the rent in the armor. Using all of her strength, she levered the shield until more of the metal peeled back, allowing her full access into what was once the cockpit. Having a clear shot at the main console of the computer, she brought the shield into it, causing a cascade of sparks to shoot out from it. Within moments the gravity wave flickered, then faded from existence. More importantly Poison One hovered in the air only a second longer before wobbling badly, then crashing. Bucky barely had time to leap free of the craft before it impacted with the ground.

She stood off to the side with the others. "You think that finished it off?"

"Not know. Hulk make sure it not hurt him again." The Hulk stepped forward, sinking his fingers into the metal of the craft and practically ripping the thing in half.

"That'll do it," Bucky said as she stared at the wreckage that had once been Poison One. "So, what do we do now?"

The Iron Rose examined her diagnostics again. Thanks to the gravity cannon, her power levels were low and her heart was beginning to shoot waves of pain through her. "Business calls elsewhere. I must depart. It was quite fun." Saying nothing else, she activated her boot jets and took off, giving a hearty 'OHHOHOHOHO!' as she cut through the air.

A different thought shot through the Hulk's mind. The pretty hammer girl was standing next to him, and he felt embarrassed again. He began to poke his mighty finger into a nearby wall as he tried to figure out what to say to her. It was as he was subconsciously spelling out 'Hammer Girl' that his eyes spotted a fallen sign that had once hung in a now demolished floral shop.

'Want to say something to the girl you love? Say it with flowers.'

The Hulk smiled at that. He would tell her how he felt with flowers. He leaped off in search of some.

The remaining duo watched the Hulk leap off with a wide grin on his face. "It appears yon monster hath lost his appetite for destruction. It is time for me to go as well." And with that she flew off as well.

Bucky scratched her head as she looked over the demolished area once again. No one had better try to tell her to clean things up. She was still trying to figure out what to do when she found herself surrounded by reporters once again.

"What was that flying craft you fought?"

"How did you know how to defeat that thing?"

"Do you have a boyfriend?"

"Did you know that your top just disintegrated?"

Bucky looked down to see that, indeed, the fight had taken its toll on the makeshift top as it finally gave up and fell into several pieces on the ground. That was it. Tired of giving the world free peep shows, she covered herself as best as she could and began leaping from rooftop to rooftop, getting as much distance between her and the reporters as she could.

She hadn't made it more than four blocks away when her 'cute animal sidekick' appeared at her side. *Nice job, Bucky.*

That got him a whack in the head. "Where the hell did you come up with a dumb name like that?!"

*It seemed like a good one at the time. Full of character, and easy on the tongue.*

Bucky gave a soft chuckle. "Well, I'm afraid that's the last time we'll be seeing 'Bucky,' or 'Captain Japan.' This costume's destroyed." She indicated the tattered remains of the costume she was wearing.

*Not to worry.* Genma-panda produced another complete costume from out of nowhere. *I had that seamstress make dozens of them. You're going to make a top-notch superhero, son.*

Bucky began seething in anger. "And in a couple of minutes, I'm going to have a cute, shag panda rug! And I ain't gonna be a superhero!" she watched as her father acknowledged the threat of impending violence in her eyes and made a run for it, his 'son' hot on his heels.

And in the distance, a green armored figure cursed how event had occurred. Captain Japan should have been dead at the Hulk's hands, but instead The Iron Rose and Thor had shown up and saved the day.

Even worse, when the odd craft had appeared, they had shown that they could form an alliance and work as a team should the need arise. Instead of preventing their formation, the seeds of the hated Avengers had been planted instead.

Kang shouted at the skies above, cursing his luck. Now he had to form another plan. There was still time. Perhaps dropping a suggestion to a certain American scientist that was trying to locate a gamma-irradiated pig would be in order. Kang knew first hand that, in spite of the difference in physical forms, one's gamma signature never changed. Yes. That just might work. It might take a little while, but he still had time. Killing the Avengers one-by-one would work just as well seeing them never form. Yes indeed. His cry of anger now became one of joy.

And the rain came falling down.


To be continued.

Special thanks to:

  • Gary Ee
  • Jurai-Knight
  • Lord Talon
  • Ryoucilio
  • Wade Tritschler
Act 1-3
Layout, design, & site revisions 2005

Webmaster: Larry F
Last revision: May 21, 2007

Old Gray Wolf