Read The Avengers Assemble Online

Authors: Thomas Macri

Tags: #Marvel Junior Novel (eBook)

The Avengers Assemble (7 page)

BIFROST

Whilst Thor was banished to Midgard, Loki used his time in
Asgard to dominate the Realm. The Bifrost, being the key to
travel between Realms and also a powerful force of energy in
itself, was an integral part of his plan. Loki approached the
Rainbow Bridge, used the Casket of Ancient Winters to freeze
Heimdall, and traveled over the prismlike road to Jotunheim.

Once in the enemy kingdom, Loki set out to seek Laufey.
Upon finding the Jotun king, Loki disclosed how he had
sneaked in the Frost Giants during Thor's coronation and
offered Laufey the opportunity to re-enter Asgard—this time
to murder Odin, who was in the mystical Odinsleep. Loki
would then see to it that the Casket of Ancient Winters be
returned to its rightful place in Jotunheim, and Laufey and
Loki would part in peace.

Laufey, no fool, agreed to Loki's plan. Soon, Frost Giants
were marching into Asgard. As the Jotuns invaded, Laufey
approached Odin's bedchamber and, smiling, prepared to kill
the Allfather. But just before the deed was about to be done,
Loki murdered Laufey. Now he would be hailed as a hero. And
with Thor banished to Midgard, he would be the rightful ruler
of Asgard!

Before Loki could flee Odin's chamber, in order to complete
the final phase of his plan—to destroy Jotunheim in order to
cement his place in the annals of Asgardian history as the
great savior of his people—he noticed that the other Frost
Giants had been driven back. Only one warrior in all of Asgard
possessed such power—his brother, Thor. But Thor was exiled
to Midgard…

Thor confronted his brother, and a fierce battle began.
It started in Odin's chambers, and soon the two brothers
found themselves fighting inside Heimdell's Observatory. Loki
planned to steer all the energy of the Rainbow Bridge toward
Jotunheim and destroy the Realm.

Thor flew toward Loki and began to struggle with him
again. But Loki did not betray his reputation for quickness
and trickery. Thor found the battle complicated and difficult,
and eventually he realized that the only way to prevent the
full-on destruction of Jotunheim was to destroy the Bifrost.
He thought about his adventure on Midgard and all that
he'd learned—and learned to love—there. He might never be
able to return if the Bifrost was destroyed.

He raised Mjolnir and began to hammer away more and
more furiously until dazzling crystal pieces of the bridge
drifted into the sea of space surrounding it. As the bridge
exploded, the two brothers were blasted off the ruined bridge and
dangled on the edge of space. But their father, having emerged
from his sleep, grabbed hold of Thor, who in turn held on
to Loki. Thor did everything he could to save his brother.
But Loki allowed himself to slip from Thor's grasp and fell,
screaming, into the void of space.

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

IT WAS DIFFICULT
to make out exactly what was happening in New York City, but a large blur of a figure was moving at great speeds, converging with vehicles, buildings, and the ground, and generally wreaking havoc on 125
th
Street in Harlem.

The destruction was more widespread than it had been earlier. There was more rubble and smoke everywhere. And now for the first time, a camera fixed itself on the face of the monster causing the chaos.

An ugly blue-gray…thing—about fifteen feet tall, judging its height compared to the nearby lampposts—looked like a bulging mass of twisted muscle and overgrown bones. Its hands and legs were enormous—each about the size of a tree trunk—and though its head was small as compared to the rest of it, it had a terrifying reptilianlike quality that made it no less intimidating than the rest of the creature. The spikes that protruded from its spine did nothing to soften the look of this thing.

The creature balled its fists, lifted its head, and let out a vicious growl.

Suddenly, a bright green beam shot out of the sky toward the monster followed by a thunderous impact. What was the government doing—nuking the thing with gamma rays now?

The green flash was not a nuke—or any other kind of missile. It was another big ugly thing. This one was green and had hair, and was in no way as grotesque and distorted as the one tearing up the city.

But the ugly monsters were not fighting together—they were fighting each other. The big green one pummeled the ugly one straight down 125
th
street, and it left a ditch in the asphalt where it skid. A ticker at the bottom of the screen read: crowds describe rampaging beast as an abomination.

The Abomination grabbed the green beast and threw him into a building, which crumbled around him. The green beast didn't even need a minute to a recover, and burst from the rubble as if from water. It leaped in the air and soared a great distance to land on the Abomination, and the two continued to wrestle.

Now the ticker read: hulk appears to have upper hand.

The two giants faced each other, hunched in ready stances, prepared to attack. Both lunged at the same time, and they collided in midair. The impact created a disturbance that shattered windows as far as ten blocks away.

The beasts continued to attack each other. Then a helicopter, looking very small compared to the larger-than-life scene unfolding below, began to pelt the Abomination with bullets.

The Abomination jumped on top of a roof, and the copter flew in, attempting to achieve more effective fire at closer range. The Abomination grabbed a ten-foot girder from the roof's water tower. He ripped it out, scattering its rivets on the ground. Then he launched the girder into the air as easily as an ordinary man might throw a spear. It clipped the helicopter's rear rotor, and the aircraft started whirling out of control and spiraling toward Earth.

The Hulk took the opportunity to reengage the Abomination, and the two continued to battle.

The copter crashed into the ground, and the news cameras caught people escaping. A woman ran out of the chopper—and
toward
the scene of the fight.

The Hulk roared as the woman approached. The Abomination tore from the ground two marble posts connected by a chain, using them as bolas. The woman continued to approach. She seemed to be calling out to the Hulk. She must have been in shock. The Hulk raised his arms, and his veins and muscles bulged and pulsed.

The Hulk smashed his hands into the ground and it opened up, creating a great chasm into which his adversary fell. The Hulk moved toward him, and then finished off the Abomination. The Hulk saw to it that the woman was safe, and then bounded off into the New York City night. The Hulk was gone, and the Abomination had been defeated.

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

TONY OPENED THE
dark restaurant's splintered door, flooding it with the bright afternoon sun. Even from outside, he could smell the reeking barroom. Stale drink, cigar smoke—these were not the kinds of smells Tony was used to surrounding himself with. Though disgusted, he strode in as comfortably as if he were walking into a fundraiser at the Waldorf Astoria. He made his way past chatting couples and drinking buddies, straight to General Ross who sat at the other end of the bar.

“I hate to say I told you so, General,” Tony started before General Ross even had a chance to look up at him, “but that Super-Soldier program was put on ice for a reason. I've always felt that hardware was more practical.”

“Stark!” General Ross said, finally facing Tony.

“General.”

“You always wear such nice suits,” General Ross said, alluding to Tony's alter ego, who wore the coolest suit of all.

“Touché,” Tony responded. He paused and then continued, “I hear you have an unusual problem.”


You
should talk,” General Ross said again taking a stab at Tony's life as Iron Man.

“You should listen.”

General Ross took a long puff of his stinking cigar, and Tony coughed a little. Then his face became deadly serious.

“What if I told you we were putting a team together?” Tony asked the general.

“Who's ‘we'?” The general responded.

Tony looked pensive, thoughtful, brooding. Then Tony smirked the way he always did when he knew something others didn't…which happened quite often.

CHAPTER NINETEEN

SOMETHING WAS HAPPENING
in the Arctic Circle, one of the most inhospitable regions on Earth. Wind whipped up snow and ice so furiously that visibility was reduced to within mere feet. Anyone who could bear to leave their naked eyes open long enough would see only thick sheets of snow and ice blowing before him. The arctic desert beat on the rescue vehicles like a frozen sandstorm. As their bright headlights cut through the thick storm around them, wandering aimlessly through the terrain for a place to land, they hit upon the figure of a man, dressed in Inuit garb and waving a flare to signal the vehicle.

The scouts stepped from the relative warmth of their vehicle into the solid snow.

“Are you the guys from Washington?” the man with the flare asked.

“You get many other visitors out here?” one of the men answered, speaking loudly to be heard over the wail of the wind.

“How long have you been on-site?” His companion asked, straining his voice as well.

“Since this morning. A Russian oil team called it in about eighteen hours ago.”

“How come nobody spotted it before?”

“It's really not that surprising, This landscape's changing all the time,” the man with the flair said as he motioned to the squalls of snow whipping up and over snow-dunes. “You got any idea what this thing is exactly?”

“I don't know, it's probably a weather balloon,” one of the men from Washington replied.

“I don't think so.” The guide chuckled. “You know, we don't have the equipment for a job like this.”

“How long before we can start craning it out?”

“I don't think you quite understand.…You guys are going to need one mighty big crane!”

With that, their guide beamed his flashlight toward a huge ice-covered steel slab jutting out from the frozen landscape, like the head of a mammoth whale breaking the surface of the ocean. It appeared to be the wing of some sort of aircraft, but neither of the men had ever before seen a craft like this. The three men looked up at it in awe, wondering what it could possibly be. The flashlights of a half dozen other workers surveyed the metal, examining it for any clues. One of the agents rushed back to the truck and brought back a device that looked equal parts drill and buzz saw. He called for some of the others to assist him, and soon set it on top of the craft.

He flipped a switch and activated the device. The nozzle began to spin with a steady cadence. A blue stream of bright energy shot from the nozzle and cut right through the craft's hull. The cut steel crashed a great distance below, creating a chasm in what now clearly appeared to be some sort of ship.

The agents quickly attached grapples to the body of the vessel and lowered themselves into the craft. The softly falling snow illuminated by the bluish floodlight glowing above the blue aperture heightened the feeling that the men were traveling a passageway to another world.

“What
is
this?” one of the men asked as the two scouted the area with their flashlight beams.

The men tried to keep themselves steady as they traversed the craft's ice-covered steel and made their way through an area lit only by their flashlights and whatever dim radiance could make its way through the incision above them.

One of the agents' flashlight beams landed on something covered by a thin veil of ice crystals. It looked like a symbol of some sort—a star, circles. There was something familiar about the patterns, but the agent couldn't determine what exactly. He wiped the ice from the object. Whatever he'd found, it should yield some clues to the ship's purpose.

“Lieutenant!” the agent called.

The other approached quickly from behind.

“What is it?” the agent asked the lieutenant.

The lieutenant stared down in dumbfounded amazement. It was an unmistakable emblem—a bold white star set over blue metal—not just any metal, vibranium. And it was ringed with red and white circles. A shield—one that belonged to a hero that some discounted as a myth, a hoax.

“BASE!” the lieutenant called into his monitor. “Give me a line to the colonel”

“It's three a.m. for him, sir,” the base responded.

“I don't care what time it is,” the lieutenant said. “This one's waited long enough.”

CHAPTER TWENTY

SINCE HIS BATTLE
with the Abomination, Bruce had been moving from town to town and country to country, so as not to be tracked down. He knew that S.H.I.E.L.D. was looking for him. He also knew Ross wanted to capture him, force the Hulk out, then dissect it to study and replicate it. But Bruce was the only one who understood just how dangerous and unpredictable the Hulk's power was. He'd been living with it inside him for years now and had spent most of his time finding ways to keep the Hulk locked up. For long stretches, he'd been successful. But on the occasions when someone had been able to track him down, things went terribly wrong.

Bruce was becoming encouraged by the fact that he'd finally gotten the Hulk under some sort control and that he could bring some of himself into the Hulk. He did this when he protected Betty and General Ross from the Abomination, and even when he attacked the Abomination itself—he knew what he was doing, knew what was at stake. And for all the injuries the Hulk caused—and Bruce felt partly responsible for each and every one of them—he'd saved scores of other people who might have perished if the Abomination hadn't been stopped.

What Bruce did not feel great about was S.H.I.E.L.D.'s understanding of what the Hulk was. As he tried to explain on so many occasions, the Hulk was not the kind of thing that could ever be captured, controlled, or studied. S.H.I.E.L.D. seemed to disagree. Keeping himself out of their hands not only protected Bruce himself, but also anyone who would get in the Hulk's way once he'd become enraged.

As a result, he returned to his wandering ways, just as he'd done years ago when he was hiding out in Brazil, where he worked in a bottling plant, or squatting in Mexico as a beggar. Whenever he could do so, he helped whoever needed it along the way. He currently found himself in Calcutta. Bruce had made a life for himself here, and there was really no end to the number of people in need. This kept Bruce in the city longer than most places.

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