The grand being known as Uatu the Watcher stood on the Blue Area of Luna, the sole natural satellite of the planet called Earth. The towering bald being held the hem of his robes in his right hand, watching via his cosmic powers as he ever did. This awareness alerted him the moment a stranger joined him.
“What do you see Watcher?”
“The same as always,” he said. “The entirety of reality, but focused on this orb in front of me.”
“Earth,” the visitor said. “Of course. The strange hub of much in this universe.”
“Indeed,” the Watcher said. “What do you desire?”
“The same as always. Knowledge.”
“Then stand by my side and observe as I do.”
Steve Rogers stared at the desk, his shield mounted behind it. His jaw set firmly as he stared. He had never dreamed that he would be in a position like this, but here he was. Steven Rogers, director of SHIELD.
“I know that look,” said a voice from behind him. Steve turned slightly to see Tony Stark approaching him. The industrialist wore sunglasses, a suit, with a gold shirt and red tie. Steve chuckled. Even out of the armor, he had to maintain that color scheme.
“You do?” Steve asked, walking further into his office.
“I had the same one when I first walked into this office,” he said. “It means ‘I’m not going to get tied down. I’ll still do field work.’”
“That it does,” Steve said.
“Don’t worry, you will,” Tony said. He strode into the office and sat down. Steve grinned and leaned against the desk.
“Get you anything to drink?”
“A cranberry juice would be fantastic if you have it,” Tony said. “Otherwise I’ll have a water.” Tony grinned and removed his sunglasses. “And I know you were being sarcastic. For the record.”
Steve walked around his desk, leaned down and opened a mini fridge under the desk. He pulled out a small bottle of water and tossed it to Tony. His fellow Avenger’s jaw dropped slightly.
“SHIELD director for almost a year, and I never put in a mini-fridge? What the hell?”
Steve chuckled. “I was surprised.”
Tony popped the bottle open and took a large swallow. “No kidding. So how’s it going?”
“I’ve been SHIELD director for almost fifteen months now,” Steve said. “And it’s still surreal. I hadn’t ever dreamed that this would happen.”
“No kidding. If you’d told me a year ago that I’d be the headmaster of a school full of future Avengers, I would have laughed in your face.”
“How are things at the Academy?” Steve asked.
“Excellent,” Tony said. “And the Academy is exactly why I’m here. We’ve got some students almost ready to graduate. I’m wondering if you could spare some personnel to take them on some missions.”
“Like an internship of sorts?”
“Exactly,” Tony said.
“I’ll talk to Dugan,” Steve said. “I think something can be arranged.”
The Watcher’s attention was suddenly redirected. The stranger was caught unawares, but continued to watch.
Charles Xavier jolted up in bed. His body was drenched in sweat, and the image of his nightmare began to fade away. He took several deep breaths, before turning and dangling his feet over the edge of the bed. He slipped his feet into a pair of fur-lined moccasins- a gift from Dani Moonstar- and stood. He was still not used to the ability to walk again, but he was grateful for it.
It was the third time that a nightmare had woke him in a week. Unfortunately, each time it faded quickly. He had a foreboding feeling that it was something important. Something that worried him. He prayed silently that his position direction the scientific arm of the X-Men, the X-Club, would be sufficient to take care of whatever it was.
He shuffled towards his bathroom, and flipped the light on. He glanced back at his nightstand. The clock there displayed 3:00AM. Too early. He stepped into the bathroom, then to the sink. He turned the water on, cold. He leaned down with his hands cupped, and filled them with water. He took a sip, then splashed the rest on his face. He looked up and was stunned to see fire burning in his mirror. He stumbled backwards and cried out in surprise. The flames coalesced into a familiar face.
“Professor!” the face of Jean Grey moaned. “Help me!” Then she was gone, and the mirror was back to normal.
“Charles!” a voice exclaimed from his bedroom. Hank McCoy bounded into the bathroom, and offered his hand to Charles.
“Thank you Hank,” he said, taking the offered hand.
“Are you okay Professor?” he asked as he helped him stand.
“I am,” he said. “But I worry that we may not be for long.”
The image swirled again, but the Watcher’s visitor was prepared for it this time.
Brunhilde stood on what she considered sacred ground. The valkyrie braced against a spear as she gazed into the crater. She stood near Broxton, Oklahoma. The ground she stood one was once the terrestrial home of the mighty Asgard. Now it was simply nothing. Asgard had vanished nearly a year ago, shortly after the Serpent was vanquished.
Brunhilde was the only Asgardian in Midgard. And had been since the day Asgard had vanished.
She lifted her spear, and spun away from the crater. Nothing had changed, and there was no sign of change as well. So she ended her weekly sojourn to Broxton. She strode to where her winged horse, Cloudbreaker, waited for her patiently. He whinnied as she approached and she shook her head.
She pulled herself onto the horse and with a flap of his mighty wings, they took to the skies. A few moments later, an electronic ringing began from her saddle bag. She reached down to her belt, plucked a wireless headset from it, and placed it in her ear.
“I’m afraid not Deputy Director Hill,” Valkyrie said. “Still no sign. I cannot even sense my realm or the Valkyrior. It is as if Frigga closed off Midgard from the rest of the Nine Realms when she departed to find Thor.”
“I guess one question remains then,” Maria Hill said on the other side of the line. “Why?”
“With the fondness that the whole of Asgard has for your realm Director,” she continued, “there is only one explanation. A threat. One so grave, that Frigga had to seal Midgard off from the other realms to shield it.”
“That’s a terrifying prospect Valkyrie,” Hill said.
“It is indeed.”
The image swirled once more.
Henry Pym had learned to sit perfectly still in his fifty years. It was one of the first habits he’d learned as a scientist, a pursuit he’d returned to after some time leading the Avengers Academy. That role was firmly in Tony Stark’s hands now. Hank was now known as the world’s greatest physicist, and according to Stark himself, the man that would change the world.
That was a huge responsibility on his shoulders.
Thankfully, he had huge shoulders.
He watched the swirling energies in the small globe, almost perfectly motionless. A clock beeped behind him, and he exhaled. He reached down to his belt and pressed a button there. Instantly, he began to grow, and the large steel and stone landscape around him suddenly transformed into his laboratory. He jumped off the table when he was about half size, and landed at his full (normal) five foot, seven inch height.
“Jocasta,” he called. “Do we have it?”
“I am still computing, Doctor Pym,” the electronic voice of his lab assistant, the android Jocasta, said. Her body was currently in the process of being retrofitted with Pym Particles, an upgrade long overdue in Hank opinion, but her essence was all throughout the lab.
“I have to tell you, it was spectacular to watch!” he exclaimed. “If we didn’t get it this time, we’re so close!”
A sound approximating laughter filled the air. “We’ve done it Doctor Pym!” Jocasta exclaimed. “The energy source is stable and self-replicating. It works!”
“You know what this means then Jocasta?”
“I do, Doctor Pym.”
Hank smiled. “Call in the Future Foundation then. It’s time to upgrade the planet.”
The stranger took a deep breath as the image swirled a final time. He had watched alongside Uatu for multiple more scenes after he turned his gaze away from Hank Pym. Although he gazed briefly into the stars, upon the Kree, the Skrull, the Brood and the Shi’ar, his focus remained on Earth. Spider-Man, the Hulk, the X-Men, the Avengers. All of them he gazed upon. There was no sign of what he desired to see.
This had confirmed his suspicions as the Watcher was not aware of what he suspected. He took his leave from the cosmic being, and ventured back into the Blue Area. He held his hand up and gave a mental command. An instant later, a small shape rocketed towards him. It caught reflection of Sol at one point, and the silver surfboard shined brightly.
His board came to a stop at his side, and Norrin Radd, the Silver Surfer, stepped onto it. He leaned forward, and an instant later he rocketed away from Luna and Earth. He glided through the Sol system gracefully, riding the currents of energy that flowed through the cosmos. Once he reached the edge of Sol, he gathered together much of the Power Cosmic, and burst forward at incredible speed. He raced forward to his destination, only taking a short time to reach it.
He slowed to a near stop as he came within a few thousand miles of the asteroid. It was the only celestial body in the area, and far removed from any known starship routes. No one but those already assembled there would ever know about it.
He rounded the asteroid, and a small station came into view. He came to a halt near the entrance and stepped off the surfboard. He picked it up under his left arm and walked into the station. After passing through an airlock and a short corridor, he found himself in the station’s main room. He was glad to see that he was the last to arrive. All conversation stopped as they turned to him.
“And what news does the Silver Surfer bring?” the woman currently known as Captain Universe asked.
“Both Earth’s champions and Uatu are unaware. We are alone in our cause.”
“Troubling,” said Adam Warlock. “Despite all our power, I fear that we alone would not be enough for the challenge facing us.”
“So what course do we attempt next?” asked Firelord.
“We must return to our various actions, duties and causes,” the Surfer said. “But in doing so, we must prepare our friends and allies for this darkness to befall the universe.”
“And prepare to combat it,” Quasar said. “To win.”
“Indeed,” Warlock growled. “For this is a fate greater than the destruction of existence.”
“Truly,” declared Thor. “This would mean the enslavement of not just this, but all of the Nine Realms. If Midgard falls, all of existence falls with it.”
Stay tuned for more of Marvel Forever!
THE AVENGERS BY SCOTT REDMOND
THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN BY TONY THORNLEY
SHIELD BY JD MATHIS
CAPTAIN AMERICA BY BRENT LAMBERT
THE X-MEN BY SCOTT REDMOND AND TONY THORNLEY
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY BY BRENT LAMBERT
THUNDERBOLTS BY MIKE HINTZE
THE ULTIMATES BY ED AINSWORTH
And more to come soon!