FANTASTIC FORCE #7

Latveria, circa 2099

“Something is terribly wrong,” said Victor Von Doom to his minion Wire. “The timeline is disintegrating.”

“What the hell does that mean?” said Wire.

“It means, fool,” said Doom, “that the past has altered, and the present in which we live may not come to pass unless the past is corrected.”

“Well…” said Wire, “…is that really so bad? 2099 is kinda rotten.”

“And it could become worse if this flaw in the time stream is not corrected,” said Doom. “There are obstacles in this present, but the changing timestream is entirely unpredictable. There could be no Latveria. There could be no Earth. There could be no Doom.”

“What’s the plan, then, boss?” asked Wire.

“I will travel to the year of the flaw,” said Doom. “And I will bring the past world to its knees if that is what it takes.”

***

United Nations, present

Doom stood at a podium, facing a rabid mob of press.

“Are you a superhero now?”

“Do you intend to apologize to the Fantastic Four?”

“Will you be joining the Avengers?”

“Silence!” said Doom. “I cannot see how you intend for me to answer your questions when you do not allow me to speak. I do not intend to fit into your narrow-minded idea of a ‘superhero.’ I care not what Reed Richards and his family think of me, and I apologize for nothing. The Avengers, while they provide a valuable service in certain respects, are not an organization that would serve my purposes to associate with. Here is what I will say: while I do not repent for any perceived past sins, I am recognizing a need for a change in my strategies. While I answer to no authority besides my own, I intend henceforth to engage in less conflict with those you call superheroes. I will take a more active role in ensuring this planet’s safety and in assisting those who could benefit from my resources. That is all. If you will excuse me, I have work to do.”

Doom vanished from the podium in a flash of light. The press went wild.

***

Transia

“Hi, Longshot,” said Sue, walking into a hospital room with a bouquet of flowers.

“Hi!” said Longshot.

“How are you holding up?” asked Sue.

“Well,” said Longshot, “it still hurts to move because of the large stab wound in my back, but other than that? I’m pretty much fine!”

“No crazy mystical stuff from having been possessed by Chthon?” asked Sue.

“Not that I’ve noticed,” Longshot said. “I guess I wasn’t possessed long enough for anything to leave a mark.” Just then, Longshot fell back, his jaw dropping and a blank look going into his eyes. Longshot saw a crowd of people with cameras and notepads, and heard confusing questions. He snapped back to the hotel room.

“What just happened?!” asked Sue.

“I’m… not sure,” said Longshot. “There was… some sort of press conference? It was weird.” Longshot’s phone suddenly buzzed. “Hm,” he said. “It’s a news update. Apparently Doom just gave a press conference at the UN.”

“Wait, but…” Sue pondered for a second. “Are you and Doom… you know…”

“I’m dating Dazzler!” said Longshot.

“No, no!” said Sue. “I mean, I think you might be psychically linked.”

“Oh,” said Longshot. “Huh.”

***

The Bronx

“So,” said Jen, “why exactly did you want to meet up?”

“Well, for one, I wanted to apologize,” said Emma. “I was prepared to kill Longshot, and it turned out that it wasn’t necessary to. I was wrong.”

“Uh huh,” said Jen.

“Also,” said Emma, “I was wondering if you had any interest in being a super-supermodel for my new fashion line.”

“Aren’t you one of the acting leaders of mutantkind?” said Jen.

“Your point?” replied Emma.

“How do you have time to launch a fashion line?” said Jen.

“Style waits for no one,” said Emma.

“Well,” said Jen, “I’m a lawyer who also fights supervillains. I have negative free time.”

“Oh, but you’d be so perfect!” said Emma. “A tall, muscular woman, with such poise and confidence! And your skin tone! There really is so much that goes with green.”

“No thanks,” said Jen.

***

Camp Hammond, Connecticut

“Mr. Hammond, we have a breach!” said a SHIELD agent. “Short guy, says he wants to talk to you. He’s being detained in cell 67.”

“I’ll go see him,” said Jim. He flew down to the holding cells, where he found a familiar raccoon in tiny handcuffs behind bars.

Jim rubbed his temples. “Rocket,” he said, “what’s going on?”

“Oh, I just wanted to talk to you,” said Rocket. “Figured this was the quickest way. You never gave me your phone number or anything.”

“This had better be worth it,” said Jim. “How did you even get in? This is one of SHIELD’s most secure facilities.”

“That’s like being shocked that a positron pistol shot through the strongest piece of tissue paper,” said Rocket. “What even is SHIELD? Kind of a dopey name for an organization, if you ask me.”

“I didn’t ask you,” said Jim. “What do you want?”

“The way you burnt up all the demons on that mountain kicked ass,” said Rocket. “I wanna look at your circuits and figure out how you can do that.”

“I’m flattered,” said Jim, “but I’m not in the habit of letting psychotic space rangers dissect me.”

“First of all, thank you for the compliment,” said Rocket. “I do consider myself somewhat psychotic. Now come on, seriously. I want Torch blasters on my ship.”

“On your spaceship?” said Jim. “Fire doesn’t work in space.”

“Well, obviously we’d only use it for intra-atmospheric battles!” said Rocket. “I’m not stupid. Now, what do I have to do for you to let me look at your parts?”

“Whoa, Rocket, I’m not that kind of girl,” said Jim, chuckling.

“Don’t be an ass,” said Rocket. “You know what I mean.”

“Well,” said Jim, pondering, “you could tell me exactly how you broke in to my facility, and help me cover those security flaws.”

“You got yourself a—“ Rocket was cut off by an explosion outside the cell block.

“What the hell?” said Jim, letting Rocket out and stepping outside. Someone looking like Doom in a blue cape with bright red eyes was flying above the facility.

“What’s he doing here?” said Rocket.

“I don’t think that’s Doom,” said Jim, “or at least not our Doom. Lemme go get backup.”

Jim ran to a group of SHIELD agents, who immediately pointed their weapons at him. Rocket yelled from the site of the explosion, “This is some sort of nanite bomb!”

Fighting off the agents while trying to minimize harm, Jim replied, “Can nanites do mind control?”

“Not with any tech I’ve seen!” said Rocket.

The man in Doom armor summoned all the SHIELD agents to him, and Jim and Rocket regrouped.

“The armory is up in the northeast corner of the facility,” said Jim. “I can cover you to get there if you can rig something up to take on our armored friend.”

“You got yourself a deal,” said Rocket. They ran, Jim keeping agents at bay with walls of fire. When they arrived at the armory, Rocket began taking weapons apart and putting various parts together until he had a cannon larger than him.

“Can you carry this?” said Rocket.

“I’ll do you one better,” said Jim. He grabbed the cannon, flew up to the armored man, and pulled the trigger. A massive sonic pulse fired out, but the armored man dissipated it with a wave of his hand. Jim retreated. Un-flaming one arm, he grabbed Rocket and flew away from the facility.

“We need backup,” said Jim.

***

The Bronx

“Jen is down at a restaurant with Emma,” said Jim. “I texted her with my brain and she said she’d be waiting outside.”

Sure enough, Jen and Emma met the android and the raccoon as they landed.

“What’s going on?” said Jen.

“Someone looking like Doom just attacked Camp Hammond and mind-controlled all the agents,” said Jim. “I think me and Rocket were the only ones to make it out.”

“Are we sure it wasn’t Doom?” asked Jen.

“Armor was different,” said Rocket, “and this dude wasn’t nearly as talkative.”

“So what exactly are we going to do?” asked Emma. “I could attempt to break the mind control if you could get me in there.”

“Don’t think it would work, blondie,” said Rocket. “It’s nanite mind control, physically hijacking the brain. No telepathy can get around that.”

“Then we’ve gotta take out this Doom cosplayer,” said Jen.

“He might be too tough even for the four of us,” said Rocket. “This dude’s tech was decades ahead of this planet. He stopped a sonic megapulse blast with a wave of his hand, and I’ve never seen nanites that took effect as quickly as what he used.”

“Then there’s an obvious strategy,” said Emma. “We do all share a certain contact known for his futuristic inventions, one who has potentially turned over some portion of a new leaf.”

“So we’re getting the band back together?” said Jen.

“I suppose so,” said Jim. “Looks like he might be our best resource at the moment.”

“I don’t think it counts as ‘getting the band back together’ when it’s only been a day,” said Rocket.

“Shut up and come to Latveria,” said Jen.