#8 - Hero For A Day
It surrounded Cain Marko as the recollection of how he came to be here returned to him through a haze of confusion.
Moments ago, Cain had been at his first day on the job as a construction worker for Multiplex Constructions. The foreman, a gruff man named MacKenzie, had taken one look at Cain's size, and hired him on the spot. The project was another skyscraper to grace the New York skyline, and currently it was only half-finished.
Cain's job was hauling building materials to the top of the structure. He had been carrying a load of bricks, which was four times the amount that could be normally carried in one go, to the top of the building when it happened...
For some as-yet unknown reason, the entire structure had come tumbling down around everyone's ears. And now, as Cain looked around, he could see that he was trapped underneath rubble, probably tons of it considering the skyscraper they were constructing. He looked up and saw two massive concrete slabs, the base of one of the floors, leaning against one another to form a triangular shape. Within the space, there was barely room for Cain to move.
He listened and heard moans from others trapped under the debris. He wondered how he was going to get out of here, without causing the whole lot to come crashing down. He wouldn't be hurt, protected by the invulnerability granted to him by the Ruby of Cyttorak, but he knew the others trapped wouldn't be so lucky.
"Hold on guys!" he called out, "I'm comin'!"
"Hurry..." came a weak voice from deep in the darkness. Cain knew he had to work fast, but he also had to be careful.
He picked his way through the darkness. His eyesight had adjusted to the gloom, but he still couldn't see as well as he wanted. And then it happened...
A faint reddish glow began to eminate from Cain, glowing brighter until the entire area around him was lit up in a reddish hue. A look of surprise crossed Cain's face, until he made the connection between the red glow and the ruby of Cyttorak.
"Cool..." he quietly said to himself, and with the aid of his newfound ability he carefully began picking his way through the precariously-balanced debris.
It wasn't long before Cain found the trapped workers, huddled together under some more concrete slabs and girders that had formed a makeshift shelter from the rubble above.
It had been slow going... several times the rubble around him shifted as he picked his way through and threatened to collapse about him, but he had waited it out and, thankfully, it hadn't caved in.
He reached the workers and noticed that there were only five of them. Considering the team working the skyscraper was upward around the thirty or forty mark, at Cain's recollection, he hoped that most had been clear of the building when it came down. Otherwise, this would turn out to be a very grim day indeed...
Most seemed surprised to see Cain, and even more surprised to see that he was glowing red. The day he had arrived on the site, his sheer size alone had caused rumours spread about the possibility of him being a superhero of some sort. Cain had overheard some workers comment that he might be the Hulk, the Thing, or even that Strong Guy from that government mutant group, X-Factor. The last one had given Cain something to chuckle about.
Cain noticed that, luckily, most of the workers weren't seriously hurt, except for one man that Cain had only met briefly, but recalled that he was a riveter - one of the team responsible for riveting the girders that formed the skeleton of the skyscraper together. This man appeared to have suffered a broken leg during the collapse, so Cain carefully scooped him up with one massive hand. Cain then motioned for the other workers to gather in front of him, so that he could shield them in the event of a cave in.
Slowly, the small party moved forward into the gloom, lit by the red glow cast out from the Juggernaut's mystic ruby.
The trek through the rubble had been painfully slow. After what seemed like an eternity of near cave-ins and settling debris, the small group reached what appeared to be the edge of the collapsed structure, through which a small beam of sunlight streamed in to pierce the gloom.
After considering their options, Cain decided that the best, and quickest, way would be just to punch through to the outside. With his strength, he should be able to clear a path for the workers with one powerful blow.
After discussing the strategy with the workers, it was agreed. Cain gathered the group in front of him once more, and reared back one massive fist. The rubble at the point of impact shattered into powder, and the force of the punch cleared a hole big enough for the workers to scramble through. The shock of the blow collapsed part of the rubble on top of Cain, and his workmates looked back with anticipation.
But they had nothing to fear... Cain Marko strode out of the rubble to the cheers and applause of his workmates. Several handshakes and claps on the back ensued as those that escaped being trapped rushed over to congratulate the newest member of the construction gang and his heroic effort.
Cain joined in the celebration, rejoicing in the fact that he was the hero of the day. 'This working for a living idea seems a lot better than bank robbing as a career after all.' he thought to himself.
Once the applause died down, and Cain's eyes adjusted to the afternoon brightness, he noticed that the reddish glow had faded, having served its' purpose. Looking around to survey the extent of the damage, Cain saw a figure striding purposefully toward him, masked by the dust whipped up by the collapsing ruins.
When the figure emerged from the smoke, Cain saw that it was a costumed figure. A white bear pelt was wrapped about the large man's shoulders, the head of the pelt forming a mask over the man's head with the jaws encompassing his face. The rest of the costume appeared to be white fabric, with fur-tipped boots and gloves. On the gloves, Cain can see small claws glinting in the sunlight.
The costumed man stood before Cain, bringing himself up to his full height, which was at eye-level with the Juggernaut.
"Who are you?" demanded the man.
"The name's Cain," the Juggernaut replied, "an' who the heck are you? Frosty Bear?"
"Polar Bear actually," stated the costumed villain, "and just what are you doing saving those workers? I dropped this building to get back at MacKenzie for firing me, not so someone could play hero!"
"Oh, so you're the loser who's job I got!" Cain smirked, still relishing in the triumphant glow of his heroic deed for the day.
Polar Bear fumed at this remark, and reared back both arms, ready to entrap the man who had dared to mock him in a vicious bear hug. Cain kept grinning as he threw one huge fist square onto Polar Bear's jaw, knocking the villain out cold.
More cheers erupted from the workmates gathered around as MacKenzie himself came over to congratulate his newest recruit.
"What can I say son, you've saved the day in more ways than one!" MacKenzie said, clapping Cain on the back.
"Just doin' my job, boss..." replied Cain humbly.
"Rubbish! You've done more than your fair share, and on your first day at work nonetheless! How can we repay you?"
"Nah," replied Cain, "no need..." He remembered Cyttorak's threat to strip him of his power if he continued to abuse it.* Besides, he was actually being accepted for himself here, not for the fact that he was the Juggernaut, but for the fact that he was just another worker. "Just glad to help," he finished off.
back in issue #5 - Eric
"Well, consider yourself permanently hired Cain!" smiled MacKenzie, "You've proven your worth to us, and I'd have to be mad to let you go! Now you'll have to excuse me... the company lawyer's arrived to assess the situation..."
After firmly shaking Cain's hand once more, MacKenzie walked over to greet the new arrival on the site. After speaking briefly with her, MacKenzie walked back to Cain with the woman accompanying him.
She was quite an attractive woman - slim, of medium height with long dark hair, and Asian in appearance. For some reason, Cain found he couldn't keep his eyes off her, retaining just enough self-composure to stop his jaw from hanging on the ground. He hadn't felt this way about any woman since Amber,* and the sensation made him feel quite uneasy.
Amber Hunt, whom Cain had a relationship with in the All New eXiles series - Eric)
"...and this here's the man responsible for saving the lads!" explained MacKenzie to the woman as they approached Cain, "Ma'am, I'd like you to meet Cain Marko."
The woman held out her slender hand, and Cain shook it gently.
"Pleased to meet you, Mister Marko. My name is Sachi. Sachi Yama..."
Next: There's a new woman in Cain Marko's life, but he's still torn over his feelings for Amber! So, what do you do when your heart and mind are at odds? Well, in Cain's case he heads to the nearest bar for a quiet drink! But what happens when Cain is interrupted by the immovable mountain of flesh known as the Blob?!
Well, here it is! The first issue in a new chapter of the life of Cain Marko, the unstoppable Juggernaut!
I'm doing my best to return Cain to the character he was in the pages of the short-lived (but great) All New eXiles series from Marvel/Malibu, the one that actually showed the Juggernaut was human enough to do things such as fall in love, whilst still retaining elements of the braggart that Marvel portrays him as.
Eric J. Moreels