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All Infinity Stone Sales Are Final (M)

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Offline Aries Jordan

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Steve saw Zola scrabbling in a drawer for his gun while he was waiting for the hammer, so his next move was to slide gracefully behind the creature whose jaw he had just broken -- just in time for Zola to shoot and hit his own creation by mistake. 

He probably didn't need to bother, as his armor and Thor's power were more than enough against a peashooter like what Zola was using, but he wasn't used to being bulletproof and old combat habits die hard. 

Two of the smaller creatures jumped at him and he swatted them away with the hammer, one after the other, as easily as hitting a pair of softballs.  The great ape creature was still roaring and flailing painfully, so he brought the hammer down on its occipital bone and it went down, unconscious if not dead.

That left him with just Zola and the third creature.  Steve wasn't about to hit Zola, that would kill him.  Vile as the man was, all of the world's great cities would have been destroyed if not for his willingness to talk about the Red Skull's plans.  He summoned a tiny lightning bolt down through the hole Mjolnir had left in  multiple ceilings and stunned the third creature with it.


Online EvilCopepod

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The smaller creatures weren't very durable, they were practice mostly, so the bullet was enough to kill it in one blow. The rest of his shots missed entirely, he wasn't the best aim and the trembling wasn't helping with that.

Zola was only slightly afraid of death, he thought that the other was far more likely to turn him in from his own experience, but he didn't know this Steve or how he responded to threats outside of war. When he called down the lightning, he dropped the gun with an unfired bullet.

"Mjolnir." He said, stunned, as there was little doubt now with that power, and if it wasn't it must have been designed after it.


Offline Aries Jordan

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Zola was kind of funny-looking even under the most dignified circumstances.  He was truly pathetic when he was scared.  He must have been a prime target for bullies when he was young.  It was hard to have any sympathy for him now -- especially with his thigh feeling bruised all the way to the bone --but Cap could at least see how he might have been drawn to HYDRA initially.

"I don't get you," he said anyway, kicking the gun under Zola's desk and then tugging the little  man to make him stand further away from any piece of furniture that might conceal another weapon.  "There was a time I would've killed you for what you did to Bucky.  If you'd gone to trial at Nuremberg, you would've been hanged.  But we gave you a second chance.  Safety and a decent life here.  Why would you throw that away just to resurrect HYDRA?"

He wasn't surprised Zola recognized Mjolnir.  The Nazis, HYDRA especially, made a fetish out of all those old Northern European relics and myths.  Zola probably had the Codus Regius memorized.

"Stand right there and don't move," he suggested.  He put the hammer down on the desk long enough to grab his quantum GPS wristwatch, strap it back on, and reload the vials of Pym Particles, while keeping one eye on Zola as if daring him to twitch.

"Now," he said, picking up the hammer and the briefcase again.  "I need to finish my mission.  I don't want to interfere with this timeline any more than I have to, so if nobody catches me, you should be safe enough.  But if I'm getting caught anyway, nothing to lose by ratting you out.  I mention this to motivate you to tell me the truth.  Where do they keep the Cube?"  They needed to get a move on, as SHIELD personal would certainly be investigating the hole Mjolnir smashed in the ceiling soon.


Online EvilCopepod

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He flinched as he was grabbed, showing his hands to prove he had no weapons on him. Even with the most powerful weapon, he knew that it wouldn't be worth much with Cap this close as he wouldn't be given a chance to fire it.

"And I gave all of my information to avoid that trial. I do not consider this a second chance." Not with what he'd learned, what he'd done, before he'd been recruited he had wanted a quiet life, to conduct his experiments simply to see if they would work. But now he wanted to use them to change the world, and the weapons he had made and would make certainly wouldn't get him a Nobel.

"That is the nature of HYDRA, it will always return, stronger and evolved." Despite his strong belief in the resurrection of HYDRA, he didn't have the same thoughts about himself, so he remained perfectly still as Cap retrieved his items.

Zola didn't answer immediately, weighing his options. Even if he called down the entirety of HYDRA, they would have a hell of a time combating Mjolnir, and he hadn't even seen the weapon's full potential. It was possible that Steve would turn him in anyways, but he figured the man wanted to avoid getting himself caught enough that he wouldn't risk it. As for the tesseract, it may have a future use in HYDRA, but Zola thought himself more vital to the organization. He didn't even think that Steve was returning it, but stealing it.

"I will take you to it." Zola agreed, moving forward slowly to lead him through the labyrinth of containers.


Offline Aries Jordan

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"And free men of conscience will always rise up to send it packing," Steve answered.  "And those men will include the original owner of this hammer, by the way."  Just in case Zola subscribed to the white supremacist notion that the old gods would be on HYDRA's side.

He gave Zola a minute to weigh his options, though suggesting by increasing tense body language that he wouldn't wait long.  "Go ahead," he gave permission when Zola agreed, figuring he might as well keep an eye on the little man rather than leave him to his own devices.  Before walking after him, he reset his nanotech outfit to the 1970s army captain uniform he'd been wearing earlier.  Now he just looked like someone who was carrying a briefcase and a hammer for Dr. Zola.

Before long, they were in the dim, narrow lab space where, only an hour ago, Tony had stolen the Tesseract and encountered his father.  Steve was relieved to see that, in spite of the delay Zola had caused him, no one had noticed yet that it was missing -- at least, that was how he interpreted the lack of any fuss being kicked up in this area.  However, the incursion of Mjolnir, not to mention Dr. Pym's missing Particles, meant the whole place was being searched and they were just lucky the search hadn't gotten here yet.

"Okay," Steve said when he saw the safe that Tony had lasered open, "now make yourself scarce.  Don't let me see you again."  He didn't need for Dr. Zola to witness him open the briefcase and see the other Infinity Stones.  He might start getting ideas that would spell doom for this timeline.  Of course he still had no idea that Zola had his little cameras all over the base.

Once Zola was gone, he opened the safe, then opened the briefcase.  The radiance of six Stones spilled out into the dim room.  He used a handy pair of safety tongs that Bruce had put in the case to transfer the blue Space Stone into the niche that had been occupied by the Tesseract.  He would have liked to weld the safe shut afterwards, to make sure Zola didn't investigate, but there were no acetylene torches handy even among Howard's very extensive tool set. 

Instead, he waited until he could hear SHIELD agents right outside the room, about to come in and check it.  Only then did he reset his suit and hit the button to shrink him into the Quantum Realm and the year 2012.


Online EvilCopepod

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By the time the SHIELD agents came, the ones not working for HYDRA as well that is, Zola had managed to get his own men to clean up the majority of the mess left behind by Steve. Though they had focused primarily on the larger creatures, he didn't care that they found the semi-public hounds beaten and shot to death by the intruder. He answered their questions calmly, saying that he had heard a commotion but not actually interacted with the intruder, having stayed away from the danger instead of investigating it. He had learned much from his encounter with Steve, and rather than be disheartened by HYDRA's loss in the future, he decided to do whatever it took to ensure that wouldn't happen.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Zola had not expected to live long enough to see the year he had found on Steve's device, but he also hadn't expected that he would be dying so early, far too early, and he had to prevent that from happening. To become a machine had been immensely freeing, as he was no longer restrained by his humanity, he didn't need to eat or sleep, and his abilities weren't restrained to his body. He could truly put HYDRA first in this way, for if one body was destroyed, he could have another ready to hold his mind which was now ones and zeroes. Though it was entirely possible to make a machine that resembled a human, he had no desire to fit in or live with the rest of society and wasted no time or resources on it.

Despite no longer having a biological body of his own, his fascination with creating new forms of life never dwindled, in fact, he only became more inventive with it. He found a way to control his creations and no longer had to mix them with domesticated animals to ensure their loyalty and training, nor did he need to spend time teaching them, and it was all because he was a machine. He didn't even need to give his creations the ability to think for themselves, making it much easier to produce acceptable results. 

The day had finally come, the one that he had seen on Steve's device, and he was certain that he would be back-- not the Steve he had seen recently, who was younger and less burdened than the one he had met at the base. He had set up several bodies around the country, so that he would be prepared to inhabit any, but he had gravitated everything toward New York, as an alien invasion seemed important enough to bring back a time traveler, and hoped he had placed his bets correctly.

((not too good, but here it is! you can set up what steve is doing/then i'll have them interact


Offline Aries Jordan

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Cap decided he'd return the Time Stone first, since it had someone actually waiting to get it back who was, according to Bruce, probably stressed about it.  He zapped to full size on the flat mansard roof at 177a Bleecker Street in the Village.  It had a spectacular view of the battle's aftermath -- dust and destruction hovering over Midtown, a Chitauri worm draped dramatically draped over a half-crushed skyscraper.

The Ancient One -- Bruce had warned him she didn't actually look Ancient -- turned away from watching the Hulk disappear, and Cap was literally right there, opening the briefcase for her.  She was relieved and thanked him gravely as she made the green Stone float into her tastelessly gaudy necklace and disappear.

"I, uh, I understand you can open portals?  It's a long walk to Midtown and I'd be conspicuous," he observed.  He switched his outfit to his 2012 Captain America uniform before hopping through the portal.  This time, he kept Mjolnir with him.  In all the craziness and destruction of the Battle of New York, no one was going to take note of him carrying a Norse hammer, unless he was unlucky enough to run into Thor.

She sent him to the same alley where he and Tony and Scott had had their pow-wow, and from there, he walked briskly into Stark Tower, Captain America, too important and too busy for anyone to interrupt.  Hopefully no one had found his unconscious other self yet...


Online EvilCopepod

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It was a very simple task, retrieve the scepter after the battle was through and Loki was neutralized, it would have been preferable to get the tesseract back into SHIELD's hands again as well, but he knew better than to send his men to try and get it from Thor once the god had announced he was taking it. But somehow, they had messed it up, by giving it to Captain America, no less. If he had pulled that stunt on any of the lower HYDRA agents, he would  see how they might have been fooled, but Sitwell should have known that if Cap was working for HYDRA, Zola would have told him so. He had enough sense to call him immediately about it, and while Zola didn't normally handle these issues in person, he knew that this was not the Steve Rogers from the current time Sitwell had given the scepter to. As far as he knew, HYDRA no longer existed, and he certainly wouldn't know any of their codes. Steve Rogers would not sit idly by waiting for more intelligence while HYDRA returned, if he knew about it there would have been a fight already.

No one stopped Captain America from entering, aside from the occasional awed look, sneaky selfie as he walked by, and salutes no one acknowledged him. However, as soon as he headed toward where the other Captain America was, they evacuated the building, clearing out anyone that wasn't SHIELD personnel so that they could do a sweep of the area. None of them entered the area in which the two Steve Rogers had met previously, and since it hadn't been too long ago since the fight, he was still out cold despite the serum. When Steve came in, there was a man crouched down by Steve, wearing a long trenchcoat which hid his form, his head wasn't visible as it was lowered to stare down at the soldier.

"Here is the proof of what I have known for so many years." Zola's voice came out, or rather something like it, he hadn't been able to get his exact voice put into the machine when he first made it (it would have been tedious and unnecessary to record himself reading dictionaries aloud, and he had been short enough on breath at the time), and what came out was what he had programmed that sounded the most like him, or at least to Zola's satisfaction, he did not mind the mechanical tone, the buzzing behind his words or the occasional warped vowel. There was a whirring sound as Zola lifted and turned his head, which looked nothing like one, it was a dark box with a red lens in the middle of it.

"To defeat a super soldier, one needs another of equal or superior make." He stood up and turned around, his entire body being made up of the same, dark metal as the box on the head, all except for the screen in the middle which had a face identical to the one that Steve had seen in the old base. "You are late, Captain Rogers."


Offline Aries Jordan

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Cap wondered why none of the Avengers were clustered around his unconscious other self, since his last communication to them had been I have eyes on Loki.  But then he remembered that part of the fight had occurred about five floors up Stark Tower, and the fight had ended here after a prolonged and painful fall.  They were probably still trying to figure out where he was.

He recognized Zola's synthesized voice because it sounded just like it had when he and Nat had woken the computer that occupied the old SHIELD base, but he was surprised by the robot -- it was like an Ultron before Tony had even conceived of Ultron, although nowhere near as graceful and articulate.  Robotics must not be Zola's strong suit.

"Obsession with punctuality is a Nazi thing," he observed.  He was annoyed with himself -- he should not have told HYDRA that time travel existed without telling SHIELD as well -- and getting angry with Zola.  He had hoped for minimal disruption to the timeline and had instead ended up with a disruption that was all negative, to wit, Zola continued to run HYDRA from beyond the grave.  It was going to mess things up for his alternate self, and even more for Bucky.

He spun the hammer in his hand to get it pointed in the right direction and take a firmer grip on it, the way Thor often did right before shit went down.  "Ironically, I don't have to fight you.  I'm just here to return what I took.  But I guess you've been waiting for me all this time.  It'd be impolite not to kick your head in."
« Last Edit: August 27, 2019, 07:09:26 PM by Aries Jordan »


Online EvilCopepod

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"You are here to return the scepter, and I do not need to stop you." It didn't seem important to make certain that HYDRA got the scepter, if it had truly helped them so much then Steve Rogers would have been eliminated before he got a chance to get the technology he was now in possession of.

"Unnecessary fighting is an American thing." he commented, there was a clang from behind Steve as one of the tower's vent covers was knocked off, and from it oozed a viscous, tan substance, which pooled onto the ground and formed a large blob. "I will not fight you myself, and I know that even without your new weapon, my men in SHIELD could not stop you. So I have made something just for you."

Two blank eyes formed on the blob as well as limbs too small to support its mass, it appeared to be sluggish and soft, its body seeming to be constantly melting. But it struck out with a mass of its body at Steve incredibly fast and with force more like a sledgehammer than the doughy substance it looked like it was made of.