Liberty Legion Episodes 1 and 2: Lovely Bones’ Earth-206 Miniseries

Hi lovelies! So I began working on a multi-part long-form Marvel fanfic series several months ago, long before the collaborative project of the Marvelcado Shared Universe fanfics began taking shape a couple of weeks ago. Thusly, there are two separate universes being used as the settings for comics series on the Avocado, with the potential for future crossovers! Those aside, the characters and events of the Marvelcado Shared Universe, AKA Earth-69420, do not intersect with or impact the characters and events of the Lovely Bones Marvel Universe, Earth-206, or vice versa. Although events resembling those in the series Monster Hunters occur in both universes, the chapters for it that I will be publishing every other Tuesday, starting tomorrow, will be set in Earth-69420 and not Earth-206. After this week’s chapters, I will be publishing chapters of Liberty Legion and Monster Hunters on the same page, but for their debuts I want to prevent any confusion, and prevent Monster Hunters from being overshadowed. Enjoy!

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Episode 1. A Date Which Shall Live in Infamy, Part One: December 7th, 1941. In a quick series of stark imagery without dialogue or music, a mysterious figure emerges from the ocean to protect and rescue people during the Pearl Harbor attack. Afterwards, he is recruited by US military officials. Fade to black. Fade back in. February 1942. Artist Steve Rogers protests Japanese internment outside the New York City courthouse, getting into an altercation with counter protesters and forcing his best friend Bucky to intervene, talking down the police from arresting both Steve and his opponents. Taking Steve aside in an alleyway, Bucky says he won’t always be around to protect him. Bucky knows he will be shipped out soon, possibly to Bataan, but he stops short of suggesting that he’ll die, just that he could be sent into the field without warning. Bucky softly kisses Steve’s cheek in apology. Steve’s stoic facade cracks into a smile, but he still stubbornly insists that wherever Bucky goes, he does, even if he has to enlist to do it. Bucky storms off in response.

After attending confessional at his family’s Catholic church, Steve attempts to enlist. His histories of both illness and being a conscientious objector obstruct his path. As Steve walks out upon being rejected, Bucky arrives at the recruitment station and the two being arguing once more, Steve trying to convince him to defect or at least fight for remaining stationed in NYC. Although Bucky tries to steer them out of the public eye and into discretion, Steve’s loud arguing catches the attention of Dr. Abraham Erskine, who has been quietly observing potential recruits as they enter and exit the facility. He approaches the two, frightening them with what he could do about their secret, but Erskine simply states that he believes Steve is an ideal candidate for his program with the Strategic Science Reserve, a secret international military, espionage, and research organization formed by the Allies in the wake of the Arcadia Conference and Declaration by the United Nations. Steve accepts only if Bucky is also transferred into the SSR, resulting in a meeting with Bucky’s CO.

Erskine’s secrecy proves a major obstacle to convincing the CO to allow this, leading to an emergence from the shadows of an older, one-eyed man. This abruptly ends the meeting as the CO defers to his authority without hesitation. Steve and Bucky are formally introduced to US Colonel Nick Fury, one of the SSR’s founding members. Fury remains skeptical of Steve and Bucky’s utility, sparking an argument in which Erskine says that soldiers and spies always need someone to hold them accountable. In response to Fury’s concern that accountability could hold them back in defeating the Axis, Steve angrily declares that to sacrifice their souls in the process of victory would undermine the purpose of stopping the Nazis in the first place. Fury remarks that he’ll take this under consideration and suddenly has Steve and Bucky bound and gagged, before driving them to the site of a hidden training facility in the countryside of New York state. When the bags are removed from their heads, Steve responds with great anger, both at these actions and at the sight of the R&D director for the SSR, famous entrepreneur Howard Stark, alongside other founding members like British Army Brigadier Timothy Dugan, and a former IRS agent, special operative Peggy Carter.

As Bucky tries to calm him down, Rogers firmly states his opposition to working with a weapons manufacturer and accuses Erskine of hypocrisy. An upset Stark spitefully responds that his contributions to Project Rebirth are far more vital than Rogers’ could ever be, and storms off. Bucky’s inquiry about the nature of this project they’re being pulled into prompts Fury to explain that Steve and Bucky would be potentially transformed into super-soldiers for a special task force called the Liberty Legion, which would serve in a morale boosting capacity such as with the USO, and in specialized rescue operations and other missions unsuitable for normal agents. Erskine attempts to reassure Steve about both the limitations of his duties and Stark’s work as long as he is part of the SSR, but Steve remains skeptical.

As they are led to their bunker to await training in the morning, Steve feels some encouragement when he encounters fellow recruit Kate Bishop, an old friend from his family’s neighborhood. Kate found in childhood that she had outright superhuman acrobatic abilities that she later put to use as a vigilante to protect New York’s latinos, soon attracting the US military’s attention and leading her to the SSR. Although skeptical of their authorities as well, she sees multiple benefits to the situation: the possibility of providing a protector and symbol of inspiration for women and latinos in military service, and the opportunity of refining her grasp of her inborn powers through training in archery and CQC by a veteran that she’s grown fond of in her weeks with, an old friend of Fury and Carter’s named Clint Barton. In her words, Steve sees exactly what he wants to be, a meaningful symbol co-opting this system for its own ends, with “Of course some Nazi punching along the way!” He and Bucky rest with optimism in their hearts, and in the morning begin their arduous new training alongside Kate, their instincts, coordination, and other attributes tested by Stark’s experimental combat drones.

In this montage the trio’s camaraderie and capacity for teamwork proves vital to their potential and their success, and one particularly notable moment displays Steve’s self-sacrificial quality. Stark bitterly acknowledges that it seems like if they want one of them, they’ll have to take the lot. Dugan, Carter, Fury, Erskine, and Stark vote on allowing Steve and Bucky into Project Rebirth, with Stark no longer holding out due to both what he’s acknowledged and his own being quietly impressed by Steve’s behavior.  After several more weeks of training, the trio are informed by Fury and Carter that they’re moving onto the next stage of Project: Rebirth. Erskine provides a serum treatment to the trio, Bucky and Kate receiving moderate dosage and Steve getting a more substantial one due to his condition. Steve and Bucky are awestruck by the changes to Steve’s body. The trio take these enhancements for a “test drive”, bounding through the woods in the countryside and leaping from tree to tree, startled at and excited by the results. After further preliminary combat tests, they are deemed ready for the field. 

With his on-site service done, Erskine wants to work on further protecting and duplicating his serum formula under SSR’s protective custody, needing to remain in hiding from the retaliation of Hydra, a secret society within the Nazi party devoted to the “weird sciences” Adolf Hitler obsesses over. As Erskine bids farewell, he assures Rogers to remain vigilant and all three of them to focus on being just and heroic rather than merely soldiers following orders. The trio are introduced to their remaining cohorts that already completed the entrance course: the aquatic king Namor, who seeks to protect his own people from the actions of the Axis, and Black Widow agent Natasha Romanova, the SSR’s contact with the Soviet Union since the Arcadia Conference and the failure of the Nazis’ Operation Barbarossa. Natasha must maintain a dual cover due to many Soviet soldiers and agents being kept unaware of their collaboration in the Liberty Legion, and thus Natasha will serve with them under the moniker of “Miss America.” Natasha briefs everyone on their first mission: evading the North African Campaign along their way to the kingdom of Wakanda, where they will negotiate for access to a vital resource.

Episode 2. A Date Which Shall Live in Infamy, Part Two: 

The Legion will divide into two groups for their excursion in Wakanda: the diplomatic team consists of Peggy Carter, Howard, Steve, and Natasha, which will meet with King T’Chaka, and the operational team of Clint Barton, Kate Bishop, Namor, and Bucky, supervised over radio by Colonel Fury, which will escort the diplomatic team to the Wakandan border and then attack an Axis supply line running through the Kingdom of Egypt into Libya. Bucky and Steve are frustrated about being split, but Peggy quickly assures them that it’ll be brief and is a necessary test of their abilities to operate separately. With Fury in their ear, the eight-person squad departs their hidden SSR facility and boards a Helicarrier under the cover of darkness to begin their long journey towards the continent of Africa.

The teams find themselves stressed and energized as they impatiently wait for the first leg of their flight to end in the West coast of Africa. The youthful Steve, Bucky, and Kate chatter extensively, to the frustration of Natasha and Namor, the stoic and irritable duo finding their own bond in quietly complaining about their compatriots to each other, while Stark more loudly teases them. Clint mostly remains quiet, but he finds his younger comrades charming and trusts Kate’s opinion of them. At last, they land to refuel in French West Africa, leaving their vehicle behind to continue their journey into Central Africa towards the Wakandan border. With the fighting in Libya and other territories, the tensions have raised considerably, our heroes uneasy as they attempt to prepare for their inevitable first combat. Finally, after many more hours of travel, the teams are close to Wakanda, and that is when he finally strikes. Under a starlit night sky, a pack of mercenaries armed with machine guns burst forth from their camouflaged positions in the underbrush, led by a buzz-cut Afrikaner wielding a…bizarre device.

The Hawkeyes are the first to leap into action, bounding out of the back of the truck, drawing their bows faster than their comrades could blink, and rapidly firing arrows as they advance towards their opponents. Carter and Stark find themselves disturbed by the experimental tech they witness, him quietly attempting to report back to Colonel Fury over radio while she arms the pistol in her hands, orders their driver to keep moving, and puts out her arm to hold Steve back, all in one brief, smooth motion. She leans in and whispers into his ear with gritted teeth, “Rogers, they will be fine. This is what they’re trained to do. We don’t have what you need for combat ops quite yet. Please trust me.” She looks deep into his eyes, her steel edge softening for the slightest of moments into earnest vulnerability. Steve stares back for a beat, before finally nodding, internally still considering even that expression might have been calculated on her part.

Bucky and Namor dive into the fray, following closely behind the archers as Steve’s partner cautiously returns fire while the Atlantean slams his hands together, sending a nerve-rattling thunderclap through the dark and rocketing one of the mercenaries straight into a tree-trunk. The mercenaries’ leader activates his weapon, sending a sonic wave much like Namor’s in retaliation for his fallen soldier, putting the Atlantean on his knees, doubled over in pain. Just then, a rustle in the trees is heard. The truck’s spotlight turns up quickly, just in time to see a mysterious figure in black armor leaping down and kicking the enemy leader in the face. Shining silver claws emerge from his finger tips and he slashes at the other mercenaries, their bullets harmlessly bouncing off his armor. They quickly retreat, unfortunately retrieving their unconscious leader in the process, and run deep into the shadows. Unperturbed by this figure, co-director Peggy Carter climbs out of the truck and demands to know why he allowed their assailants to leave.

The Black Panther pulls off his helmet to reveal his calm face and wise eyes, matching Peggy’s gaze without fear and firmly saying, “There is no worthwhile information to extract from that pest. They left all that is needed.” He nudges the sonic weapon, sitting in the grass, with his foot. “Ulysses Klaue has been nipping at my heels without effect for ages, long before your battles began in the North. One day he will be in my clutches, and on that day, I will gladly crush his skull between my claws, but that is my business and mine alone. I’m already regretting giving you permission to even have this little rendezvous.”

Howard Stark follows after Peggy, getting all up in the King’s space and arrogantly pointing his finger at T’Chaka’s face. “You’re lucky we were even gracious enough to come all the way here and ask nicely for your metal, your highness. He gestures towards the weapon on the ground. “Clearly you don’t even have it locked down the way you led us to believe. Peggy quickly stomps on Stark’s foot, reminding him that explaining why they needed the vibranium is all he needed to do, and orders him to go back in the truck, apologizing profusely to T’Chaka. In the midst of these arguments, the security team regroups, all standing alert at Peggy and T’Chaka’s side. Taking a deep breath as he struggles to retain his composure, King T’Chaka finally turns to the soldiers and calmly asks them to stand down, before looking back at Peggy and saying that this conversation can continue under better circumstances, despite the misbehavior of her ally. Peggy sighs in relief and calls for Steve and Natasha to join them. The soldiers reboard the vehicle, while Peggy formally introduces her diplomats to T’Chaka, the king and guardian of Wakanda, walking alongside the truck as it passes through a guarded checkpoint into his kingdom.

After a long rest, the SSR diplomatic team sit at the table with King T’Chaka in a safehouse on the other side of the Wakandan border, eating and reopening negotiations while Stark sits in his room and the operational team depart for Egypt. Their discussions go on for some time as Natasha establishes political channels for the USSR, and Peggy continues damage control for Stark. Carter and Romanova explain to Steve and T’Chaka that Wakanda’s vital resource of vibranium can be used for tech development, and most importantly, they intend to create an indestructible disc shield that will be painted with the US flag and wielded by Steve in the field as part of their planned ‘war of symbols’ with the Nazis. T’Chaka is concerned about trusting Stark with the vibranium, the resource that has built up his country in strength, independence, and futurism, let alone it being marked by and associated with the United States in such a way. He hopes to open his kingdom towards cooperation with other world leaders, especially in the wake of the Nazis and Japanese Empire’s actions, but had imagined it at a more carefully paced rate.

Steve smoothly stands up and delivers a speech to the king, as his words are juxtaposed with the actions of Bucky, Namor, Kate, and Clint, their journey to Egypt expedited by the advanced Wakandan railway and their assault on the Italian-protected supply line beginning in earnest. In the previous encounter, their instincts came together, but they were still haphazard, as frenzied as the circumstance of their ambush. Now, the four warriors nimbly navigate, silently moving and communicating in a harmonized unit, advancing on a low outcrop overlooking the supply depot and the roads leading out from it, a far cry from the previous chaos. Clint begins to precisely take out guards patrolling around the depot with his arrows, only stopping to realize that few Italian soldiers are still remaining on this side of the depot. They must be meeting with an arrival of Nazis on the far side of the facility! Sure enough, Clint recognizes an active response to his strikes, and a pack of armed soldiers rapidly approaching soon after.

“Your highness. I am here today not because I believe my country is great, that I must enforce its greatness on the world stage, upon all the peoples of the world, not because I trust the military or the government that I am now aligned with, but because people are suffering. People are suffering in America, in Germany, Italy, Japan, in Korea and China, and I’m sure, meaning no offense, that people are suffering in Wakanda too. They certainly are all around outside your kingdom. I have a dream, your highness. A dream that in this hard-scrabble life, the world over, we are all striving for some of the same things. We all want to see our children grow, and provide safety for our families, and to live in quiet, more equal times. I am loyal to nothing but that dream. I am a soldier not for violence and hurt, but for a more peaceful world, not just for me and mine, but for all that are suffering everywhere. There are men in Europe, America, Asia and Africa that are all living for the suffering of others rather than the flourishing of them. They must be stopped, for all our sakes.”

Steve calmly sits back down and confidently matches eyes with the Black Panther, the King, with utmost respect. A tense beat unfolds, until at last, T’Chaka gently smiles and puts his hand out across the table. Peggy and Natasha quietly sigh in relief. Discussions would continue for some time, establishing of specific terms not worth mentioning, and the trading of stories between a poor kid from Brooklyn and a royal prince from the Golden City, Birnin Zana. The worst, for sure, was over with.

Alas, back in Egypt, the quartet find themselves in dire straits as the Nazi reinforcements close in on all sides, unable to protect themselves and continue their attack on the depot at the same time. Suddenly, a figure bursts from the sky, clad in a bulky suit of armor, crimson and gold, propelled by a jetpack towards the trucks frantically attempting to depart their depot. He unleashes a relentless barrage, dozens of missiles hurtling through the air and striking all of the fascists’ trucks and their depot facility in an explosive maelstrom, engulfing the road in flames. The Nazis, shocked and distracted by this turn, attempt to fire their weapons at the flying soldier, their bullets harmlessly bouncing off him while they are left vulnerable to attack from the quartet. Kate and Clint send a volley of explosive arrows towards their formerly encroaching foes, with a quick round of shots from Bucky’s rifle clearing out whatever’s left. The supply line is completely demolished, the day is won, and the team is safe. They look up and wave, shouting thanks to their new arrival. After a short flight towards them, Howard Stark lands and pulls off the helmet to greet his comrades, grateful that he contributed something to their efforts.

Some time later, the entire Liberty Legion is reunited in Wakanda, joyously sharing their successes with one another. When they learn of Howard’s actions, Steve and Bucky give him hearty handshakes and hugs, proud of his heroism. Behind closed doors, Peggy and Fury by radio chew Howard out for acting without their knowledge. As they prepare to board an arrived Helicarrier which is being loaded up with several crates of vibranium, King T’Chaka arrives in traditional Wakandan garb, bearing a gift for Steve Rogers. Remarking that the royal family has a skilled engineer who did their best to work quickly, he unveils a perfectly carved prototype shield, painted in the colors of the Wakandan flag with an American star at the center. Steve proudly accepts this and says that he looks forward to serving alongside T’Chaka some day soon. The team bids farewell and begins their flight towards Europe, the real fight about to begin.

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Main Cast: Steve Rogers/Captain America – Oscar Isaac, James Buchanan Barnes – Enver Gjokaj, Colonel Nick Fury – Ron Perlman, Peggy Carter/Agent 13 – Kerry Washington, Howard Stark/Iron Man – Dominic Cooper, Kate Bishop/Hawkeye – Aubrey Plaza, Clint Barton – Keanu Reeves, Natasha Romanova/Black Widow/Miss America – Annet Mahendru, Namor – Pedro Pascal.

Recurring/Guest: Dr. Abraham Erskine  – Herbert Knaup, Brigadier Timothy ‘Dum Dum’ Dugan  – Damian Lewis, Ulysses Klaue – Arnold Vosloo, King T’Chaka/Black Panther – Djimon Hounsou.