#15 - The Gatherers Crisis, Part Two
The Avengers were preparing for war.
The threat of annihilation had hung over them for days now. There had been no word from their east coast compatriots since they had travelled to another dimension to remove their former teammate from her throne of power. As hard as it was for all of them to believe, Wanda Maximoff was now a threat to everything she had dedicated her life to protecting. The former Scarlet Witch had apparently suffered a breakdown when it was revealed that her love, the Avenger known as Wonder Man, had not been brought back from the dead through her magicks as had been previously thought. Simon Williams was still dead from the Nega-Bomb that had exploded during Force Works' first mission, and it was a creature called forth by the demon Satannish that had seduced her. She was now Nexus, a creature of unimaginable power. The East Coast Avengers had left days ago to help her or to stop her if necessary, but there was no way of telling how time passed in the dimension they had travelled to. To their perspective they may have only just arrived or they may have died months ago. It was impossible to tell.
The West Coast Avengers had reluctantly agreed to stay behind to both protect the Earth in their team-mates' absence and to rally Earth's heroes against Nexus should they not return. They had not expected to face a threat that could destroy the entire omniverse during this uncertain time.
Hercules, the disgraced Prince of Olympus, stood in his room in the main Avengers Compound building, and stared for some time at a large wooden box without opening it. It had been a long time since he had even contemplated using the weapon it contained. With a mixture of reluctance and excitement, he opened it to reveal his Golden Mace. The mace was forged by the god Hephaestus from enchanted adamantine and was virtually indestructible - it had survived direct blows from Thor's hammer. It felt natural holding it in his hand once more, as though it was a part of him.
He opened the window of his room and threw it into the air where Firebird and Sunfire was enjoying the rare opportunity to practice their skills with someone with similar abilities. The mace flew safely between them as he had planned, before looping back and landing in his grasp.
"Hercules?" Firebird asked, flying to beside his window. "What was that?"
"It is an old friend," Hercules replied, looking at the way the mace gleamed in the sunlight. "It was forged for me by the order of my father Zeus, but I have not felt right using it since he stripped me of my immortality and declared that I was no longer his son. However, if the Exiles speak true - and I believe that is the case - then I will not put my own pride before the lives of trillions. The Gatherers will learn why the Son of Olympus became a legend"
Iron Man was exhausted. It was not that long ago that he had almost been killed fighting the Destroyer and he had undergone surgery to have his new armour become part of him. He was still trying to find out what Satsujin Moomji was up to, and the Stark were coming. He should have been devoting all of his efforts to that, but instead he had practically worked through the night to help an old friend.
Selected members of the Avengers and the Exiles were gathered in Hank Pym's lab to track the Gatherers. Hank was there of course, both as the Avengers expert scientist and their current leader. The new Mockingbird, who Iron Man was still having difficulty accepting, was coordinating their information with that of SHIELD. She seemed as competent as she was in his previous dealings with her, but looking at her made Iron Man think of Bobbi Morse, who he and many of the other Avengers considered irreplaceable. If the new Mockingbird had been given a different identity by SHIELD then the Avengers would probably have accepted her by now, no matter how much of a tribute Nick Fury intended the Mockingbird Program to be. Iron Man was trying to judge her on her own merits, but his current level of exhaustion made it difficult. He did not have time to rest though. Marianne needed him.
He had to hold on to the hope that she was still alive. From what the Exiles had said, she was probably more useful to the Gatherers alive for the moment but there was no guarantee how long that would remain the case. He had spent years feeling guilty over Marianne, wondering if exposure to his life had led to her mental breakdowns. Now he knew that the Gatherer called Mother Cassandra was to blame. Tony just hoped that there would be an opportunity for them all to put the past behind them before she caused Marianne any more pain.
The metallic Exile known as Chrome was connecting a hand-held device to wires that had been embedded in Deathlok's arm, which Iron Man then transmitted into the Avengers mainframe and into SHIELD's tracking satellites. It was completely alien technology to him, designed to track energies that should not rightly exist in this reality. He was confident that he could more than likely reverse engineer it given the opportunity, but there was too much happening to worry about his personal interests.
"The Gatherers are out-of-sync with this reality, so this should allow us to trace them now that we have a sample of their energy signatures," Chrome explained. She seemed like a nice woman to Iron Man, extremely well adjusted despite her condition. There was not an inch of her body not covered by the metallic substance that spanned her entire body, yet she seemed very well adjusted. Apparently it had been ten years since it has happened, placing her in her late thirties, he guessed. In some ways she reminded him of Jocasta, except his friend was a robot that looked like a woman while Chrome was a woman that looked like a robot.
"How much of a range does it have?" Blink asked. Iron Man had only known the young woman a few hours but he was beginning to like her. She was at least ten years younger than him yet she led a team ripped from their homes to face world-shattering threats without turning bitter. He doubted he could have coped as well.
"Practically the whole planet, at least it will once we plug it into SHIELD's satellites. It..." Hank Pym answered, pausing in mid-sentence and looking into space. "Of course I remember you, Professor."
"Hank?" Iron Man asked his old friend, worried. "Are you okay?"
Hank seemed oblivious to his whereabouts. "Oh. I see... No, I don't think it's a bad idea. Not necessarily."
"What's up with him?" Chrome asked no one in particular.
"I thought his mental problems were sorted?" Mockingbird demanded. "We're at a critical stage here!"
"Be quiet all of you!" Iron Man insisted. "Some one's contacting him!"
"I understand. We're in the middle of a mission, Professor," Hank continued his conversation with some one not in the room. "I'll be in touch afterwards to sort out the details. Goodbye, Professor."
"Hank?" Iron Man asked, cautiously. "Are you okay?"
Hank shook his head, as though he was trying to shake himself out of a trance. "Yeah. Sorry. I'll never get used to telepathic communication. That was Professor Xavier."
"Professor X?" Blink asked, amazed. She had never known him in her own time, but she had been hearing about Professor Charles Xavier ever since she had been drafted into the Exiles. "The Professor X?"
"What did he want?" Iron Man asked, relieved despite himself that Hank was not beginning another psychotic episode. He should never have doubted him for a second. Hank had come too far.
"To offer us a member," Hank smiled. "He pointed out that we are one of the most high profile hero organisations in the world, yet we don't have any active members who are mutants. He wanted me to consider taking a transfer from the X-Men. I told him he'd have to call back."
Hank looked at Iron Man and both men laughed. Some times they were reminded of how absurd their lives had become.
"Can we focus, gentlemen?" Mockingbird chastised them. "In case you've forgotten, we do have a world to save."
"I haven't forgotten anything," Hank told her. "And we're fighting for a little bit more than the world. As I was saying, once this is connected to SHIELD's satellites we should be able to scan most of the planet for the Gatherers' energy signals. Blink can teleport us to them if we get a match."
"You said most of the world, Dr. Pym. Not all?" Blink asked.
"Unfortunately," Hank stated. "We just have to hope it's enough..."
Marianne Rodgers felt as though she had been violated.
She had been left alone for a night in her cell in the Gatherers' Citadel to consider their offer. She had so much to think about. She had lost so much time. She had spent five years in an Institution because everyone thought she was insane. Five years! But there was nothing wrong with her! Nothing!
Guinevere, or Mother Cassandra as she called herself now, had come to this world and stolen her mind. They were the same person, separated by alternate timelines, yet Marianne knew that she could never have acted like Cassandra had. She had stolen her powers and her mind. Marianne had never hated someone so much in her entire life.
The door to her cell opened and Marianne sensed Cassandra before she saw her. Cassandra had somehow stolen Marianne's powers, but the bond between them was too strong for Marianne not to be able to sense her. Marianne had in fact been sensing her for over five years but she had just dismissed it as another sign of her insanity.
"Have you made your decision, child?"
Marianne stared at Cassandra with disgust. It was as if she was staring at a mirror of her future. Chronologically they were the same age, but Cassandra's body had been ravaged by the strain of living in this reality. She was shrivelled and defiled by premature aging, but Marianne could recognise herself beneath the wrinkles and scars of age that Cassandra wore as a badge of honour. Marianne wondered if that was all she had to look forward to. That, of course, was assuming she survived the next twenty-four hours, which was extremely unlikely.
Marianne held out her hand for Cassandra to take. The old woman smiled and walked closer to her. Before their fingertips could touch, Marianne slapped her across the face. Marianne had been a victim for too long. It was time to make a stand.
"You're a mad woman! I will never help you kill people! You are nothing to do with me! Nothing!"
Marianne started to choke her, hoping to make her pass out, but the old woman wore an exoskeleton. Cassandra easily broke Marianne's embrace and punched her, sending Marianne flying across the room.
"You stupid, stupid little girl! I was trying to save you. Even now I am trying to keep you alive..."
"I don't want to be alive if it means more blood on my hands!" Marianne shouted at Cassandra, desperately trying to find a way to get past her counterpart.
"Mother knows best, Child," Cassandra told her. She placed her hand on Marianne's head, and Marianne felt her mind explode.
Tigra stood alone in the sanctuary of her bungalow on Avengers Compound. She knew that the other Avengers would call for her soon. It was only a matter of time before they tracked down the Gatherers but there was nothing she could do until then. She figured she might as well stay out of everyone's way until she was needed.
She stared at a picture of her husband and her on their wedding day. She could not get over how young she had been. She had only been twenty-one when they had got married, but she had been convinced it was going to last forever. He was so handsome in his cop uniform. It was only after he had been killed while on duty that she realised how few photographs she had of him. A friend of his on the police force had to take the photographs of their wedding because they had too little money to hire a photographer. The only reason they even had a honeymoon was because his friends on the force had a collection to buy them two cheap airplane tickets to Las Vegas. She was a near penniless student and he was on a cop's salary and trying to support his widowed mother and younger brother. They had thought that they would have their entire lives to take more photographs.
Tigra transformed from her cat form back to her human form of Greer Nelson. She held out her hand to look at her wedding ring, which was normally covered in fur when she was Tigra. She wondered what Bill would think about Hank? Bill loved her. He would have wanted Greer to meet someone else if he could not be with her. And God knows she had been busy over the last few years as far as men were concerned. But Hank was different. She thought that Bill would probably have got along with him despite their differences. Maybe they could even have been friends?
"So that is what the cat is hiding behind her fur."
Greer turned around quickly, automatically transforming back into Tigra as she moved. "Who the hell..."
The Exile known as the Puma was standing in her living room, watching her as though she were prey.
"What the hell are you doing here?" she demanded. She felt exposed in front of him. How long had he been watching her? "This is my private space! It's off limits and you are not welcome here! What is it with you Exiles? It was only yesterday that I found Morph spying on me too!"
"I am all alone," the Puma told her, holding out his arms in an open manner. "I thought it would be pleasant to spend our free time together."
"What?" Tigra asked in disbelief.
Puma stepped closer and reached for her face. Tigra moved her head away but stayed standing in the same place.
"Don't deny the attraction you feel. I saw the way you looked at me on your quinjet. I feel it too. If I have learned nothing else as an Exile, it is that life is too short not to act on our instincts. It is our nature. I knew it the moment I saw you."
He touched her cheek and Tigra did not back away. She knew he was about to kiss her and she knew that part of her wanted him to. The animal part of her. For a split-second she was going to allow him to continue, until her eyes fell on the picture of her late husband, and her thoughts somehow went to Hank.
"Back off, Tiger!" she told the Puma firmly, pressing him away. "Go find a cold shower because this is not going to happen!"
The Puma was confused and he grabbed her arm. "You can not deny what we are! We are not like our teammates. We are creatures of passion!"
Tigra laughed, but she actually felt sorry for him. He reminded her of the way she was a few years ago when she had almost lost Greer to Tigra, before finding a way for both halves of her to breathe as one. "Nobody's denying anything. I am attracted to you on some level, but that doesn't mean I have to act on every instinct. I have some one in my life who might be worth far too much to risk losing him for a moment of meaningless pleasure. I can choose what I want for my life - it's what separates me from an animal."
"You are not being true to yourself!" the Puma snarled.
"Oh yes I am," Tigra growled back. "Now get out of my house or you will be leaving in a casket!"
Her communicard buzzed before she could reply. It was Hank. Her Hank, she realised for the first time.
"We found them."
How had it come to this?
She was meant to be a hero. She had wanted to be an Avenger. She had defeated Doctor Doom for god's sake. Doctor Doom! She bet Darkhawk had never done that, and they had made him an Avenger!
But no, Iron Man didn't think she had what it takes. He hadn't actually said that of course, but thinking back to their meeting it was obvious that he was thinking it.
This was entirely his fault.
If he had allowed her to become an Avenger, then she would never have been harassed out of town after mom died. The other students would not have spat at her when she walked through the corridors of the community college she attended for a few months.
Squirrel Girl could have been a name that demanded respect!
But they wouldn't have hated her.
Maybe all of this would not have been necessary.
Her squirrels had staked out the apartment building to make sure it was empty. Bracing herself, she extended her claws and climbed the building to the second floor apartment. She had been staking it for three days. The woman who had moved in there last week drove a silver 2003 BMW convertible and wore expensive jewellery. She wouldn't even miss the money, and maybe this time Squirrel Girl could earn enough to stop further burglaries being necessary. She produced a retractable knuckle spike from the back of her hand and smashed the glass window and climbed in.
Her squirrels had told her that the safe was in the bedroom. She crept in and made her way to it. She would be out in five minutes and then she could -
She heard a door creak open behind her. How was that possible? Her squirrels would have told her if any one had entered the apartment that day. There was no way any one could have got past her chief squirrel, Monkey Joe. Unless someone had been hiding here all day. But that was impossible... wasn't it?
Squirrel Girl did not have a chance to see who it was as bullets ripped through her spine. She twisted and fell on her back as her mind tried to comprehend what was happening. The contents of her stomach got caught in her throat but she was unable to move enough to throw up. As she choked on her own vomit, she could not even turn around to see her murderer. But she heard what was said to her.
"Justice is served."
End of Interlude
Sliver was used to masking her emotions but she was excited. It was hard to believe that this moment was finally here, but she was adamant that it would not be wasted. The accursed Priests of Pama had taught her as a child that all life was precious, but she had long ago abandoned their teachings. They had raised her to believe in a lie. They had convinced her that she would be the celestial madonna when she was a naïve and innocent little girl, and had abandoned her when it was revealed that her supposed destiny actually belonged to the Illyana Rasputin of her world. They had fooled her into thinking that all life was precious, but how could that be the case when they abandoned her as soon as they learned she was of no use to them. They were fools, all of them. She would dance on the graves where she had buried them once she got back to her world. How could any one blame her for taking a few lives if it meant that entire worlds would live?
And now Imperion stood by her side once more. She took his hand, knowing the other Gatherers would be watching but refusing to care. He was not her husband, but he was close. It was a sign that she was doing the right thing. Soon she would be reunited with her Imperion. It was meant to be.
"Are you ready?" she asked Cassandra. The old woman was floating in the air, Marianne Rodgers beside her. Every time Cassandra made any movement, Marianne followed suit. It was like watching two bodies with one brain. For a moment Sliver thought that Cassandra had not heard her, but then she heard her voice in her head. It sounded like there was an echo, until Sliver realised that she was hearing both Cassandra and Marianne communicate telepathically with her. "We have never been readier."
"Prepare the Source," Sliver told the Anti-Vision. "Notify me when he's ready for Cassandra to channel him."
Sliver turned around to find a combination of Avengers and Exiles standing in front of her ready for battle. Hank Pym. Iron Man. Blink. Chrome. Sunfire. Tigra. Hercules. Morph.
"It's over," Hank Pym told her. "You're going to destroy all of the omniverse if you continue, Mantis. Give it up."
Iron Man could not take his eyes off of Marianne. She was literally glowing from the psychic energy that was cascading between Cassandra and her. "My god... What have they done to you?"
"We've set her free," Cassandra and Marianne spoke in unison, telekinetically sending a wave of energy at the heroes that forced all but Hercules to disperse.
"Avengers Assemble!" Hank shouted as each of the heroes began attacking the Gatherers.
"There are too few of them..." Sliver whispered, as she effortlessly avoided Chrome's fists. The paranormal woman was as strong as steel, but she was a lumbering hippo compared to Sliver's graceful athletic movements. "Vision! Protect the Source!"
The android did as he was told as Sliver pierced Chrome's shoulder with one of her adamantium Sais. She was not concerned. Imperion was by her side.
The battle was as good as won.
"Do you think they have noticed our absence?" Firebird wondered aloud, as she followed Deathlok and the Puma through the corridors of Proctor's Citadel. Deathlok's internal sensors were looking for a concentrated energy signal while the Puma's animal senses were searching for any sign of any one approaching them.
"Impossible to know," Mockingbird answered her, holding her battle staves ready for battle, "but we have to assume they are looking for us."
"I believe we are here," Deathlok told them in his monotone computer-filtered voice as they approached a large door. "This room has the strongest energy signals of the entire citadel. I believe this is where the majority of Proctor's equipment is located."
Mockingbird stared at Deathlok, sizing him up. He seemed so familiar, but she still could not identify him. "Can you open the door?"
"Affirmative." Deathlok placed his hand against a sensor pad beside the door, and circuitry grew from his hand and infiltrated it. The door slid open with a large swoosh a moment later.
"Madre dios..." Firebird whispered, as she saw what was inside the room. "Is that..."
She led her team-mates inside as she stared at a large globe where a man was floating unconscious inside. It was impossible. She did not know him very well, but she recognised him from Avengers Mansion. But he was in Muir Island, wasn't he?
"Yes, it's Dane Whitman," the Anti-Vision stated, materialising through the floor and literally through Mockingbird. "But you're not taking your errant Knight any where."
Mockingbird was stunned but immediately backed away. She was too slow. When the Anti-Vision solidified, he did so over her right hand. Mockingbird screamed despite herself as her hand was crushed by the Anti-Visions' artificial torso. Normal flesh and bone was no resistance to it.
"Val!" Deathlok yelled, showing emotion for the first time as he bolted to her side. Firebird immediately starting hurling fire at the Anti-Vision, but the Gatherer was already intangible once more and the flames passed through him.
"How... did you know... my name?" Mockingbird managed to ask Deathlok as he cradled her. Her hand was gone. All that was left was a bleeding stump with a jagged bone sticking out of it. She looked up at him and his one remaining eye and suddenly she knew. It was impossible but she knew who he was. It was Charlie. Deathlok was really Charlie. As impossible as it seemed, the father of her child was back. Her husband was some how back from the grave where she had put him. As she lost consciousness from shock and loss of blood, she stared at him and knew it was true.
"But I... murdered you..." she whispered, as her world went dark.
Imperion watched as his friends fought.
Every thing was so strange. The only thing he remembered was a large explosion before waking up to see Sliver watching over him. Every thing had been so strange since then, but as he watched the Avengers in action he could not escape the feeling that he knew them. They were his allies.
He watched as the two psychics floated in the air, effortlessly shrugging off the attempts of the Avengers and the Exiles to reach them. The young Asian girl had sought to breach their telekinetic shield by heating up the air within it, but they had telekinetically grabbed her and thrown her against a wall. She was unconscious now.
Torq was standing firm against the Avenger with the golden mace, but Imperion did not imagine he would stand much longer.
And Sliver... The metal woman was bleeding from where she had been stabbed, muttering something about how she had not bled in over ten years. Now Sliver was struggling with the purple girl, who was attacking her with a spear and managing to prevent Sliver from getting close enough to land a lethal blow.
"Imperion!" Sliver shouted. "End this!"
Imperion paused. He wanted to help the woman who had helped him so much, but something told him this was wrong. What was he going to do?
Sliver watched Sliver's indecision, and made a decision for him. She deliberately left her side exposed and Blink immediately struck a blow there. It was non-lethal, but it hurt. Sliver screamed loudly, making it sound like Blink had done more damage than she had actually inflicted.
Imperion immediately rushed to the side of the woman who had nursed him back to health in recent days, and knocked the purple Exile unconscious by using his superhuman strength to simply flick his fingers against her head. She would be out for hours.
"Leave her alone!" Tigra growled, jumping on Imperion before Sliver could pretend to need his help. She immediately started scratching his facemask, trying to get through to his eyes.
Imperion tried to get a hold of her but she kept twisting her body out his grip like a cat and jumping around him. After a few seconds his mask began to tear away to reveal red glowing eyes.
"Greer!" Hank shouted at his lover. "Move away for god's sake! He's out of your league!"
Tigra kept tearing and the mask came away in her hands. She leapt back and stared at the face of Wonder Man in amazement.
Next: The final chapter of the Gatherers saga! Will Mockingbird or Marianne survive? Is Wonder Man back? What will happen to the Exiles? All will be revealed…
Well thank God that’s over. :) I found this issue very difficult to write for some reason, but I hope that doesn’t come across. There are so many different story threads in this storyline that I’m sure you’ll find a kitchen sink in this story if you look hard enough. Hopefully none of the balls dropped. Come back next issues to find out who lives and who dies. It could all go either way…
Thanks to every one who wrote to me about last issue. I’ll get straight into the mails.
First up this month we have a review by Alex Cook posted on the Heroes list:
The West Coast branch of the Avengers, or the Whackos, has never been a normal group of characters. The West coast was always the odd, the strange, the just weird. Not to the level of say Ren & Stimpy, but still a AWC story had its strangeness and wasn't something you'd see in Avengers proper. That same tradition is continued here, at AVENGERS 2K, in Gary Halpins down right engaging AWC series. Building on plots left by the last writer, Gary has spun a tale that goes above and beyond the base left to him to work with. He even made Tigra cool.
Thanks. Tigra is on my list of characters I want to redeem. Yes she has her problems, but they don’t define her.
A sub-plot thats been building since the begining of Gary's run as come to the forefront, and the Exiles (yea Blink, Morph, etc) have enlisted the help of the Wackos to stop a threat against the whole of the Omniverse.
The good, nay great here in this series is the characterization.
Halpin nails the different personalities of these characters, going so far as to add new people to the cast and have them seem every bit as real as Tony Stark in full Iron Man regalia. Also this team book never feels like it isn't giving enough page time to each of its cast. The dynamic of the group is as much a character in this series as the members of the team are. All this with Gary's refreshing style make for a very engaging read.
The bad, and this is specific to this issue, would be Clarice and the dialogue she spouts. This whole arc hinges on some serious past Avengers continuity, which nine times out of ten make for an even better story if done correctly. And I'm not saying Gary didn't do it correctly, he just, in my mind, didn't quite take it as far as he should of. Blink fills the expected role of narrator, the person explaining the 'problem' to everyone else so the reader is up to speed. While yes the sub plot has been running throughout the AWC series since it went under Halpins pen, the exposition given by the Tallus wearing teleporter is a little much to swallow, not because of its mechanics (which aren't a new idea) but because of how the information is dolled out. An issue leading up to Blink finally explaining why they are here and who Proctor was to the Exiles would have made for a much more engaging intro to this arc.
Thanks for the feedback, both good and not so good. I’ll consider your points when planning future stories.
Next Up is Jason Trenner:
Amazing issue. Wonder if the Avengers will run across Wonderman (in the Wonderman LS) or some of the other Marvel Comics fanfiction group's realities (like MV1, MX, Marvel Universe Transformed, Dark Lore, Omniverse, Pendragons and Marvel Revolution)....or even the "real" Marvel Universe. Or the Mangaverse. Or even the Ultimate universe. On to the questions...
Will the Gatherers try to steal that one device that allowowed Uatu to watch other realities(and the Living Laser got stuck in in Quasar)?
2) Is there any chance of Jack of Hearts(after helping the Avengers in the Nebula/Stark/Uncreated mess) joining the Avengers? Or do you not want to follow the "real" Avengers title very much?
He’s busy in Iron Man at the moment. Decent character, but not one I particularly want to write.
3) Is there any chance of Hawkeye and Songbird making a guest appearence sooner or later?
Hawk might show up at some stage but he’s active with the East Coast team. No plans for Songbird.
4) Is Strong Guy still on the staff or is he long gone?
I thought about having him stick around, but he’s gone. I didn’t have enough plans for him to warrant keeping him, and I think we’ll all agree the cast is big enough. Particularly with the new additions coming.
5) Is there any chance of a monster mash story(Dracula, Adam(aka Frankenstein's monster), a werewolf, and the creature from the black lagoon(there is an MU version of that creature actually..showed up way back in #208 of Captain America)?
It sounds interesting but there are no plans.
6) Is there any chance of the team fighting Stockpile?
No. I don’t have any interest in the character.
7) Is the new Gatherer anyone that we would know about?
Well, you know the answer to that one by now…
8) Is there any chance of Morningstar and the team she was once with showing up?
Maybe. Be careful what you ask for though.
9) Is there any chance of a guest appearance by the Guardians of the Galaxy?
No. I don’t know the characters well enough, and it would be overkill after the Exiles.
Next up is Barry Reese, author of the consistently excellent Pendragons series:
Another great one. There were so many things that I liked about this issue, but the most fun was simply seeing some very surprising faces -- > esp. Puma and Chrome. I though things were handled very well with the Gatherers this issue and I liked the Proctor/Exiles connection.
Thanks. It was one of those issues where I had no idea if it was good or not until I posted it. I toyed about calling it "Gathering
Exposition". I’m glad it worked for you.
The Exiles were so much fun. And I was thrilled to get chrome in there. I knew I'd work the New Universe in some day!
Hands down, my favorite fanfic title going right now.
Given that Pendragons is my favorite title, that's high praise indeed! Finally, a few comments from Tom Deja, architect of the upcoming Stark Invasion. And I thought my plots were complicated…
One of the best things about the issue was the reveal concerning the true nature of Marianne's visions--I literally twigged onto it a split second before Gary sprung it on us, which is the optimum place for a realization like that to hit.
You have no idea how I played with that scene. I thought I had messed it up, so thanks for the compliments.
The identity of Sliver was another really pleasant surprise for me...as was, once I sussed it out after eighteen guesses, the identity of Imperion
Well... More like three. :)
I wonder what every one else thinks after this issue…
I've said this to Gary privately a couple of times now, and I felt
I should say it publicly: he's doing a great job on the title. It's tight, it's full of surprises and lots of deep characterization, and
it's taking us places that are fun. This is a great series, and a cool read.
Thanks Tom. I have to work hard to keep up to the standard of all the
writers in this group, particularly you. That's one of the things I love about AV2000!
Catch you all next month.