Read The Avengers Assemble Online

Authors: Thomas Macri

Tags: #Marvel Junior Novel (eBook)

The Avengers Assemble (5 page)

CHAPTER NINE

HIGH ABOVE THE SEA
in his cliff-side Malibu residence with beautiful views, Tony was sparring with his pal and chauffer, Hogan. Though at the current time, Hogan was feeling more like a punching bag than a pal.

“What the heck was that?” he barked at Tony, who had just walloped him upside the head.

“It's called mixed martial arts. It's been around for three…weeks…now.”

“It's
called
‘dirty boxing', and there's nothing
new
about it!” Hogan replied.

Before Hogan could throw another punch, a stunningly beautiful woman with deep red hair and dressed in business attire entered the room with a portfolio. She glanced expressionless toward Tony and Hogan and strode over to Pepper, opening the portfolio and presenting her with the papers inside.

“I promise you this is the only time I will ask you to sign over your company,” Pepper said to Tony as she began to sign the papers. She loved teasing him now that Tony had decided to put her in charge of Stark Industries. He figured he had enough on his plate to begin with, and had to face the fact that Pepper had sort of been running the place all along.

“I need you to initial each box and sign on the
X
's,” the woman told Pepper.

As Pepper signed, the woman looked over toward Tony and Hogan's exercise. Tony clearly had the upper hand due to his amazing flexibility and natural agility.

Tony noticed the woman staring. Never shy, Tony pointed at her.

“What's your name, lady?”

“Rushman. Natalie Rushman,” she responded.

“Front and center, enter the church,” Tony said, inviting her into the ring.

“No, you're not going to…” Pepper protested.

“It's fine,” Natalie said, as she folded the portfolio neatly and carried it with her to the ring.

“I'm sorry…he's just…very…eccentric…” Pepper said.

Tony lifted the ring's ropes and Natalie stepped in. The two stared at each other for an awkward, silent moment. Then Tony turned to Hogan and asked him to give her a lesson.

With Natalie otherwise occupied, Tony left the ring and sat down next to Pepper.

“Who is she?” he asked Pepper.

“She is from legal.”

“I need an assistant, boss.”

“Yes, I have three excellent candidates lined up for you.”

“I don't have time to meet them,” Tony said, wiping sweat from his brow. “I need someone now. I feel like it's her.”

“No it's not,” Pepper replied.

While Tony executed a web search on Ms. Rushman and argued the many reasons she was qualified to be his assistant, an unexpected crash sounded from the direction of the ring.

Tony and Pepper looked up. Natalie had flipped Hogan down, rolled on top of him, twisted her legs into a position that looked nearly physically impossible, and pinned him to the ring in a powerful leg-lock.

Pepper screamed and Tony yelped, rushing over to the ring.

“I…just, uh, slipped,” Hogan said to cover for himself as Natalie slid out of the ring.

“I need your impression,” Natalie told Tony.

“Quiet reserve, I don't know, you have an old soul…”

“I
meant
your fingerprint.…”

“Right.”

She handed Tony the forms that Pepper had signed and Tony pressed his finger down to seal the deal. He turned to Pepper.

“You're the boss,” he said.

“Will that be all, Mr. Stark?” Natalie asked.

“Yes, that will be all, Ms. Rushman. Thank you very much,” Pepper answered for her former boss—who was now her employee. Then she smiled at Tony as he watched Natalie walk gracefully from the room.

ASGARD

Odin could not contain his anger at his son. The Allfather was
enraged. He told Thor that he was a vain, greedy, cruel boy.
Thor retorted that his father was an old man and a fool. Odin
agreed that he had been a fool—to think Thor was ready for
the throne of Asgard. He told Thor that he was unworthy of
the Realm of Asgard, unworthy of his title. Odin stripped Thor
of his armor, his title, and his hammer, all of which would be
returned to Thor if he proved himself worthy.

And then Odin, in all his rage screamed,
“In the name of my father and of his father before, I cast you out!”
He then uttered an incantation that would forever change not
only his son, but Asgard and Midgard as well:
“Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.”

CHAPTER TEN

TONY WAS TIRED
and weary. Ever since his first mission in Afghanistan, the government had been on his case about the Iron Man suit. They felt strongly it should be theirs, not Tony's, to own. It all culminated in a party-gone-bad the night before, when Rhodey had taken one of the Iron Man suits to deliver it to the military. This was, of course, against Tony's wishes, and the whole thing had turned into pretty big mess, especially when Rhodey put on the armor and battled Tony—who was wearing his. Two Iron Men blasting each other with repulsors did not a pleasant scene make!

To make matters worse, Tony had received a call from Colonel Fury saying he'd like to meet with him. Tony, still wearing his Iron Man suit from the night before, chose a place as good as any other: while Tony was waiting, he decided to spend his time the best way possible—enjoying a box of freshly baked doughnuts on top of a doughnut shop, reclining comfortably inside the huge hole of the tremendous plaster doughnut that sat on the roof.

“Sir,” Fury called out to him, “I'm going to have to ask you to exit the doughnut.”

Tony sighed, then rocketed down and entered through the back door, meeting Fury at his table.

“I told you, I don't want to join your supersecret boy band,” Tony said.

Fury laughed condescendingly.

“No, no, no. You see, I remember—you do everything yourself.…How's that working out for you?”

“It's, it's …I'm sorry, I don't want to get off on the wrong foot. Do I look you in the patch, or the eye?”

Fury didn't entertain Tony with a response.

“Honestly, I'm really tired, and I'm not sure if you're real, if you're just some sort of a…”

“I. Am. Very. Real,” Fury said. “I'm the realest person you're ever going to meet.”

“Just my luck. Where's the staff here?”

A woman strode up to the table, but she wasn't a waitress.

“We've secured the perimeter, but I don't think we can hold it too much longer.”

Tony was stunned, which did not happen often. The woman who had approached them was a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. But she was also Stark's legal counsel—Natalie Rushman.

Colonel Fury smiled, enjoying the shock on Tony's face and relishing in seeing him speechless for once.

“Huh,” Tony said after examining Natalie. “You're fired.”

“That's not up to you,” she said, taking a seat at the table along with Fury and Tony.

“Tony,” Colonel Fury said, “I want you to meet Agent Natasha Romanoff.”

“Hi,” Tony said, with mock enthusiasm.

“I'm a S.H.I.E.L.D. shadow. I was tasked to you by Director Fury,” Natalie—or, rather, Natasha—explained.

“I suggest you apologize,” Tony said.

Natasha just sneered in response.

“You've been very busy,” Fury piped up. “You made your girl your CEO; you're giving away all your stuff; you let your friend fly off with your suit. Now, if I didn't know better…”

“You
don't
know better,” Tony protested. “I didn't give it to him, he took it.”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa. What? No. He
took
it? You're
Iron Man
, and he just
took
it?” Fury said. “Is that possible?” he asked, turning to Agent Romanoff.

“Well, according to Mr. Stark's database-security guidelines, there are redundancies to prevent unauthorized usage,” Natasha reported.

Fury shrugged at Tony, indicating that he had some explaining to do.

“What do you want from me? Tony asked.

“What do we want from you? Nuh-uh-uh,” Fury said. “What do
you
want from
me
?
You
have become a problem, a problem
I
have to deal with.”

Tony had tried a few times to get a word in edgewise. But he eventually gave up. Fury would always have the last one.

“Contrary to your belief, you are
not
the center of my universe,” Fury continued his tirade. “I've got bigger problems than you in the Southwest region to deal with.”

CHAPTER ELEVEN

THE GOD OF THUNDER,
son of Odin, was propelled through space and time to a dark and rocky landscape worlds away from his home in both grandeur and dimension. As he rocketed to Midgard—to
Earth
—he saw ahead of him the dim lights of a motorized vehicle, the likes of which was unfamiliar to him. Disoriented from his journey, there was no way to prevent a collision. He was soon hit hard and laid out on the dusty ground.

Erik Selvig, who had been a passenger, sprung out, along with the driver, Jane Foster, and Darcy Lewis, who assisted them. Jane rushed to Thor's side.

“Do me a favor and don't be dead,” Jane said as Thor breathed heavily, attempting to recover from both the vehicle's impact and his exile to Midgard.

The son of Odin raised himself on his elbows and stared into Jane's face. She resembled those who lived on Asgard, but there was a look in her eyes that betrayed fear and concern—a look Thor knew was unique to mortals.

Finally, Jane sighed in relief. The man she'd hit didn't look very hurt at all.

“Where did he come from?” she asked her colleagues.

At the same time, Thor regained much of his strength and fully picked himself up. He spun around, attempting to regain his bearings. Where was Mjolnir? He began to call out for his hammer. Then he called out for Heimdall, guardian of the Bifrost. Finally, he began to question the group about the Realm on which he'd landed.

“Ohmygosh,” Jane said, examining the sky above the spot where Thor had landed. “Look at this. We need to take a record of it before it all changes.”

“Jane, we have to take him to the hospital,” Erik replied.

“Oh, he's fine! Look at him,” Jane said, motioning to Thor who now appeared to be fully recovered.

“Heimdall! I know you can hear me! Open the Bifrost!” Thor shouted to the sky.

Jane winced. “Right. Hospital. You go. I'll stay.”

But before Erik could take Thor anywhere, the mighty son of Odin spun around.

“You,” he pointed at Darcy. “What Realm is this? Alfheim? Nornheim?”

“New Mexico…?” Darcy replied. Instinctively, she lifted her Taser toward Thor and trained its red target beam on him.

Thor puffed out his chest.

“You
dare
threaten me,
Thor
, with so
puny
a weapon?”

With that, Darcy pulled her trigger and zapped Thor, who quivered from the electrical pulses that coursed through him before finally collapsing.

Erik and Jane looked at Darcy in disbelief.

“What?” she asked. “He was freaking me out!”

The three struggled to lift Thor, whose weight was considerable.

“Darcy, next time you Taser somebody, make sure he's already in the car, okay?” Erik said.

Before long, the three had arrived at the hospital. As the medics took Thor to the ER, Jane, Darcy, and Erik registered him.

“Name?” the receptionist requested.

“He said it was…Thor?” Jane responded, skeptically.

“And your relationship to him?”

“I've never met him before”

“Until she hit him with a car,” Darcy added.

“I
grazed
him,” Jane interjected, “but
she
Tasered him.”

“Yes, I did,” Darcy proudly admitted.

Shouts and commotion were then heard in the direction of Thor's examining room.

“How dare you attack the son of Odin?”

Glass was breaking, metal was clanging, and medical instruments could be heard crashing to the ground. Thor made his way out of the examining room and toward reception, followed by a great number of hospital workers. Two workers were able to steady Thor and push him up against a wall.

“You are no match for the Mighty…”

But before Thor could finish his sentence, he was pricked in the back with a needle and collapsed to the ground.

CHAPTER TWELVE

AGENT COULSON
pulled up to on the side of a desert cliff and parked his car near the edge. He stepped up to the rocky ledge and looked out over the desert. Before him was a huge crater, similar to the kind a dangerously sized meteor might cause. The crater was filled with people drinking, laughing, partying, and lining up around an object at the center of the impact.

He removed his sunglasses to get a better look. Then he took out his smart phone and called Director Fury.

“Sir, we found it,” he said.

Meanwhile, back at Jane's makeshift lab, which was set up in a former automobile dealership in the small New Mexican town of Puente Antiguo, Erik, Jane, and Darcy were examining the data that Jane had collected the night they'd met Thor.

“What do you see?” she asked Erik.

“Stars,” Erik replied.

“Yeah, but not
our
stars.”

She held up a celestial map. “See?
This
is the star alignment for our quadrant this time of year. And unless Ursa Minor decided to take a day off, these are someone else's constellations.”

“Hey, check this out!” Darcy called from across the room.

Jane and Erik ran over to another wall of photos. In one of the pictures, the unmistakable figure of a man could be seen spinning amid the swirl of electrical clouds.

“No, it can't be!” Erik said.

“I think I left something at the hospital,” Jane said, and then she quickly left the lab, with Erik and Darcy trailing not far behind.

They soon arrived at the hospital, but when they got there they discovered Thor had broken out without their help—trashing the place in the process.

“We just lost our most important piece of evidence. Typical!” Jane said.

“Now what?” asked Darcy.

“We find him,” Jane said.

“Did you see what he did in there?” asked Erik. “I'm not sure if finding him is the best idea.”

“Well, our data can't tell us what it was like to be inside that event, and he can. So, we're going to find him.”

As Jane backed her car out of its parking spot, she slammed into something big, solid, and blond. She put her truck in park, threw open the door, and jumped out. She rushed to Thor's side.

“I'm so sorry! I swear I'm not doing this on purpose!”

Apology accepted, Thor expressed how hungry he was.

“This mortal form is weak,” he said. “I need sustenance.”

They ducked into a diner and continued their conversation there.

“How did you get inside that cloud?” Jane asked as Thor polished off an entire box of breakfast pastries, followed by a plate of pancakes, then two orders of eggs and another of waffles. He'd also discovered a taste for coffee.

“This drink…” he said. “I like it. Another!” he shouted, smashing the mug on the floor.

Jane apologized to the staff, scurrying to clean up the mess.

“What was that?” she asked.

“It was delicious, I want another.”

“Well, you could have just said that.”

“I just did!”

“I mean, asked nicely.”

“I meant no disrespect.”

“All right, well, no more smashing, deal?”

Thor agreed begrudgingly. “You have my word.”

Just then, a group of men walked in and sat at the counter. They were talking about a satellite that had crashed in the desert. They said it looked “like a hammer or something.” Nobody could lift it. People had a lot of fun trying though—until federal agents stepped in and secured the area.

Overhearing this, Thor stepped over to the men at the counter.

“Which way?” he asked

“Fifty miles west of here,” one responded. “But I wouldn't waste my time. It looked like the whole army was coming when we left.”

Thor rushed out of the diner, and Jane, Erik, and Darcy followed him.

“Where are you going?” Jane asked.

“Fifty miles west of here.”

“Why?”

“To get what belongs to me.”

“Oh, so you own a satellite now?”

“It's not what they say it is.”

“Well, whatever it is, the government seems to think it's theirs—so, you just intend to go in there and take it?”

“Yes.” Thor smiled, and with that he was off.

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