Vesper was out on one of his nightly patrols. He was hoping for plain, normal criminals. After a few supernatural run-ins with the Defenders, he was hoping for normalcy. Though demonic infestations of mystical doodads was apparently good at making the lesser evils hide out. The city air felt vibrant but wrong as Vesper banked alongside a building. He was scanning the neighborhoods for some sort of heroics to do.

He was just about ready to turn toward home when he caught a faint voice on the edge of his hearing.

"-do you got it? I got the money."

Vesper slowly wheeled toward the sound. It was late enough at night for whatever was being purchased to be of an illicit nature. Something he could stop on his own. Something he could control. After the last six months, he desperatly needed that.

It took a little night-sky circling, but he found the alleyway where the dealing was happening. He silently landed on a rooftop and peered over the edge. Looked like a dealer and two addicts. When he briefly dropped his silence field, sounded like it, too. Vesper put his silence field back up before he carefully scaled down a fire escape. A few quick checks as he went and it looked like the drugs were getting paid for.

Vesper launched himself off the last platform to the pavement below. He hit the ground on the other side of a dumpster and rolled. He came up smoothly and flexed his fingers. Time to go to work. He stepped out into the alley more as he dropped the silence field. Vesper opened his mouth to call out and paused.

In unison, all three people looked at him. It wasn't being noticed that made a cold chill run down his spine. It was because all three sets of eyes reflected light back at him. He was positive he didn't just walk into dogs and cats dealing drugs.

The human shapes of the three bodies down the alley grew blurry. The druggie on the left moved forward a step, the human guise disappearing. A wave of uncertainty washed over him as the demon clacked his teeth together. Vesper was about to take a step back when the druggie on the right, moved closer. The human guise dropped to reveal another demon. Its appearance hit him in the gut with how much he reviled it. He grit his teeth and clenched his fists. Vesper raised his arm to fire from one of his bracers as the dealer moved toward him as well. Its appearance changed as six appendages grew out of the demon's back. With every twitch of the legs on the back of his torso, Vesper grew more confident he could take these demons. He was one of the Defenders; they did this all the time lately.

He wasn't immediately overwhelmed when all three demons attacked him at once. He fired with both bracers. The sonic attack reverberated between the close buildings. Though three attackers at once started to slip through his defenses. One of the spindly, spidery legs darted across one of the pouches on his thigh. It ripped right through the pouch and sent the contents spilling out across the concrete. Thankfully, the armor under the pouch was stronger, but the disposable cell in the pouch clattered against the ground.

Two of the demons redoubled their attacks on Vesper while the Pride Demon bent over to pick the phone off the pavement. It tilted its head left and right. It hit the one number programmed into the phone.
It was the end of a long work day with meetings, arguments with his father, reminders from Sage about how the orchestrated downfall was going, and a few appraisals keeping him late. Stephanie had a late class so he had no real need to rush home. Though a nice bottle of Chilean wine couldn't be amiss.

He rolled his shoulders as the elevator slowly descended to the parking garage. Most of his employees were out for the day. He huffed out a breath and loosened his tie. He tried to remember when he next boxing class was supposed to be. Tomorrow or the day after he assumed. It cut down on his patrolling but did have a side benefit of giving more tools to use as he patrolled. Since most of what he knew about the fighting arts prior to taking those classes were not very punch-heavy.

As the doors rumbled softly opened, he tossed his suit jacket over his shoulder and let it hang down his back off his index finger. The parking garage was mostly heated so he wasn't particularly worried about catching a chill. He hummed to himself as he started to saunter to his fixed up dark green Tesla Roadster.

He was oblivious to any counter-measures Sage had set up or to anyone else lurking in the garage. Though the buzz and soft clink of one of the overhead lights flickering on and off made him glance at it. He needed to remember to call maintenance about that.
"You'll forgive me, but I'm rather surprised to hear from you, Mr. Rosenthal." Stephanie replied after picking up the phone, expecting the call to have something to do with some unfinished bureaucratic process, or perhaps some regulator asking questions about why she'd been dismissed from the board. It was surprising when the next thing he insisted was for her to call him 'Ben'. What she'd heard next absolutely floored her.

"... you what?" She paused for a moment and spoke into the phone. "Ben. I'm flattered, and you know that I do want it, but Sebastian will kill you if he finds out you've been in touch with me like this, let alone to offer me a seat back. You have kids and a grandchild." But she didn't hang up, she couldn't even if she wanted to. She remembered Ben Rosenthal as a fairly mild-mannered man, but she heard a righteous anger in his voice when he spoke. He didn't know what exactly Sebastian had done to them, but he'd clearly influenced their minds. She imagined that such a thing would be especially offensive to a man who had loyally backed her father through thick and thin.

"You'll forgive me, Stephanie, but I've also taken the liberty of getting in contact with your husband, through quiet channels. Allow me to be very clear about this. We want Sebastian Shaw out of our lives, and out of the company that we spent our lives building- that he is <i>destroying</i> with his personal grudges. Something that he would never have done in the past. The news hasn't come out publicly yet, but the last quarter was ... pretty dire for us. Sebastian's lost a lot of his old political influence and the loss of the Veridian accounts hurt us more than we thought it would. We're virtually shut out of Latin America entirely now, and the Europeans are too broke for us." 

Rosenthal paused for a moment. "Maybe we've been King's Men too long. If you or your husband or any of your allies can give us reasonable assurance that Sebastian won't be able to personally target us, we will give you the company. Maybe we would do better with a Queen. It seems the Hellfire Club has been thinking similarly." 

After the conversation ended, Stephanie set down the phone and texted Marcelo immediately.

"Have you heard from a Mr Rosenthal?" 

The Godstorm made landfall just outside of New York City. Though the massive storm did not stop once he hit land. He pushed further inland. Rain battered large swaths of land behind him. While the fury of the weather abated once he made landfall, he was still a powerful storm making weathermen consider new careers.

The Godstorm was after something, and he was willing to go over land and lose some power to get it.

Though those left in the cities behind him had to clean up from the massive flooding, wind-damage, and rampant power outages.
New York City felt taut from the skies. As Vesper winged his way around buildings, he could feel the tense anticipation brought on by wall-to-wall coverage of the huge storm heading their way. Though that didn't mean the gangs he tracked did less.

It just meant they got more trigger happy and frantic about the next shipment getting in before the rest of the city blew away. He was on his way to a meeting. He'd overheard part of it. He didn't have all the details but enough to get there and make these drug-pushing gangs regret it.

He kept his ears tuned toward the ground as he flew. It was always good to know if he was spotted and going to be shot at. Which is why he didn't fly right by a set of apartment buildings in Brooklyn when he heard a blood-curdling scream.

Vesper adjusted course and swooped lower to try to figure out what that was and where it came from.
Marcelo Jaoquim Alencar da Silva double-checked that everything had been in order before he left the penthouse. This business meeting was vastly important. It had many aspects he had to juggle in both parts. He had gone through the right channels to get this meeting at Frost International.

Sage and Stephanie had given him pointers on things outside of the realm business. The business end he could handle; everything else that mattered he would take pointers on. He had a ring on his right hand to block cursory telepathic scans. He was assured if Emma Frost really wanted in his mind, she would get there. So, he had to be careful not to think of things, even in passing, about his secret identity. The ring would help remind him.

He walked confidently into Frost International in his tailored dark gray suit. The appointment had been set. He had made sure it was before school started at Stephanie's alma mater and it was with Emma Frost herself. Patrolling had been light the night before so Marcelo moved smoothly into the building.

He caught his reflection in a surface. There was a brief satisfied smile at what he saw. His double-breasted wool suit fit perfectly. His white, cotton shirt helped his emerald green silk knit tie stand out as an accent. He reached up and adjusted his cotton pocket square slightly with the hand not holding his leather briefcase. His silver cuff links caught a sparkle of light from the motion. His newer leather ankle boots, thankfully, did not squeak as he strode across the small expanse of floor to the reception desk.

"Bom dia," he greeted the receptionist with a smile. "Marcelo Alencar da Silva to see Ms. Frost."
"Y'know," Sofia Strange said in a conversational tone to the zombie whose butt she was currently kicking, "All I really wanted? Tonight? Was a pastrami sandwich. Maybe a can of Cel-Ray." She threw her left hand up and a trio of marble-sized fireballs flew forth, twirling around each other before smacking the zombie straight in the face. Its dead skin started oozing off of its face, showing bone and wiring underneath. Whatever this thing was, it was a lab-created zombie. 

A mix of science and magic.

Sofia grimaced. That was never good. 

"Instead? Instead I get you." She attacked with a savage backhand, empowered by a surge of mystic lightning. The electronics in the thing fried. Whoever was watching wouldn't see the rest. "Not the kind of dead meat I was craving." Sofia conjured up another trio of fireballs, these ones glowing hot-white, and sent them at the zombie again. These pierced his chest and set his heart on fire.

Within moments, the zombie was ash, its electronics charred. Still, Sofia cast a spell of telekinesis, and the charred remains of the electronics flew up to her. She took them and shoved them into embroidered mirror-work messenger bag. Maybe someone on the Avengers would be able to help her track down whoever was building a zombie army.

Given how badly this one was made, though, there seemed to be no sign of any zombie hordes coming right away. 

She could, thankfully, still grab that sandwich. 

If the place was still open, anyway.
It took a bit of scouting to find a rooftop with the right vantage point for the job he was employed for. One Marcelo Alencar da Silva had a big price on his head. Bullseye meant to collect on it. He had been contacted by Assassin Nation after one of the regular stable of killers failed.

The man dressed mostly in red wasn't the first one to have this moniker, but he planned on doing better than his predecessor. He set up his rifle on a rooftop a half mile away from the mark's penthouse apartment. Bullseye sniffed at the hot New York City air as he sighted the killzone. There were very soft metallic clinks beneath his flowing red overcoat.

He had strict instructions to leave the mark's wife unharmed. As she was a mutant, Bullseye figured distance would be the best buffer he could use when he blew da Silva's brains out. It gave him a chance to prepare at worst or the time to disappear at best.

He chambered his specially designed cartridge. Bullseye looked down his telescopic sight and waited. The happy newlywed should show up soon. The assassin had seen the mark's wife pass by the killzone not too long ago.
The American Museum of Natural History was set ablaze with lights and the mingling scents of exotic flowers perfumed the cool evening air. Brooke Wyngarde had put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into arranging for this soirée, and she was going to be damned if anyone was going to ruin it for her. After all, this was to welcome Stephanie Shaw da Silva and Marcelo Alencar da Silva back to Manhattan and, most importantly, receive them as a newly wedded couple.

Thus, Brooke had pulled out all the stops. Everyone who was anyone who knew the Shaws or the da Silvas had been invited (though Brooke had also dutifully chopped some of the more unsavory names off of her list). The food was a delightful blend of American-Brazilian-Spanish fusion. The cocktails were some of the most popular ones from Brazil, and only the finest Spanish wines were served. The music was live, big band-style stuff, because this was not some hideous high school Kiss on the Lips party. 

Brooke herself, being the hostess of the event, may have gone just a tad bit overglam when it came to her look for the night, but then she was certain that she was going to be gracing many a society page the next morning.

She needed to look great, and she certainly did as she stood next to the entrance of the Arthur Ross Terrace, receiving guests for the cocktail hour which would precede that night's dinner, directing them towards the guest sign-in book, the gift table, and everything else. 

She hoped, she prayed, that everything that night went off without a hitch.

After all, the supervillains only crash the weddings of the A-List superheroes, right? 
Things post-wedding had been going well. Husband and wife had no left the mansion for a few days after the wedding. By the time they were willing to visit around São Paulo, Marcelo kept their days busy. But not so busy their nights at home weren't busy either.

After sending off information to Brooke about the Symkarian group to hire as security for the New York reception, Marcelo went looking for his casual, not extremely well-tailored clothing. He needed to take Stephanie to visit his aunt. While she had been briefly at the Brazilian wedding reception to congratulate the couple, he knew she expected a visit.

The chauffeur would arrive soon to drive them to outside of the favela his aunt lived in. They would have to walk in to the slum. A standard precaution Marcelo had taken.

Now, he just needed to find his pants...
It had been a very long yet oddly quick week since Stephanie finally came home. They got the paperwork squared away, Sancho to the vet, and a few last patrols done. Well, he did the patrolling to keep his nerves steady. Marcelo's father sent a private jet to pick up his son, his soon-to-be daughter-in-law, their growing kitten and Brooke to bring them to São Paulo.

Marcelo had packed his wedding attire and a few toiletries for the most part. Also, a few things for the wedding night. Other than those, he still had belongings in Brazil he could still use. And whatever else he needed, he could buy. Thus, the cargo in the jet was left to the ladies.

He had not mentioned it was winter in Brazil until they landed. Once they all deplaned, it was a nice 65 F outside. There was a couple days to settle in. Brooke was set up in a five star hotel while Marcelo and Stephanie had the family's northern mansion to settle into. The back of the mansion's grounds nestled up to a national park with a lush bit of rain forest.

The day of the wedding, Marcelo couldn't stop pacing. Even with his father assuring him everything would be fine. The rooftop of the Hotel Unique was rented out for privacy so the vows could be said looking out over Ibirapuera Park. The civil servant was on time. Marcelo was decked out in his HUGO 'Amaoro Hill' Trim Fit Chintz Wool Suit, David Donahue Blue Dress Shirt, tie, belt, mercury dime cuff links, purple polka dot pocket square, and To Boot New York 'Winston' Oxfords.

Marcelo swallowed and tugged a bit on his Robert Talbot Lilac Woven Silk Tie. Per tradition for good luck, he hadn't seen Stephanie this morning. He wasn't completely sure she would show up. Mostly sure, but then her father might kidnap her or she changed her mind or karma would come back and bite him for leaving Helena before they married.

His father, as steady as ever and filling in as best man, readjusted his son's tie back properly and told him it would be fine. Also, Marcelinho needed to get ready. Stephanie would be there shortly.
The assassin knew up front this was not supposed to be an easy job. The mark had to know another attempt on his life was coming; two previous ones had failed. The bounty on the man's head was pretty sizable. Caution and paranoia or not, this kill was within Man-O-War's ability to do. The stocky man with buzzcut hair stepped out of the stairwell. He wore a slightly loose green, button-down shirt, blue jeans, scuffed combat boots, and a baseball hat slung low. If he had been in a monochromatic uniform, the gun on his hip might have been taken for a security guard's weapon.

Man-O-War's eyes narrowed at the front door being partially open. The assassin's booted feet tread lightly as he crept up to the door. One hand reached to slip fingertips into the opening while his other hand went to the holstered Glock. When nothing happened when his fingertips slipped inside the doorway, he quietly pressed the door open just enough to slip in. His gun stayed in his holster as he got inside the entry hall of the penthouse.

A quick glance around told him the entry hall was clear of his target and of any waiting booby traps. No shotguns aimed at the door. No tripwires across the tile floor. Nor a landmine shoved under the rug. Man-O-War let out a slow breath as his ichthyic eyes searched the entry way over one more time. When he was sure it was safe, he quietly closed the door behind him.

The door open had been a warning. He knew that much, but the rest of the 3,000 square foot apartment seemed quiet and calm. Man-O-War had studied the blueprints for it. He needed a lay of the killing grounds in mind. The mark needed to be killed as painfully as possible and then the grisly bits cleaned up so it looked like the Brazilian billionaire just disappeared.

There was a van parked two blocks away marked with a maid service logo. The assassin would bring the van closer once the job was done and haul up the cleaning supplies.

Man-O-War stealthily moved farther into the penthouse. As he emerged from the entry hall, he glanced down the short hallway to his right. It lead to a bathroom, the kitchen, and a gym. He decided to check the bathroom and gym later if he didn't find the mark hiding somewhere in the rest of the colossal place. He stepped up to the doorway to a large dining room the opened directly to a slightly larger living room.

The second thing he noticed was most of the furniture in the rooms had been moved to clutter along the walls. The first thing he'd noticed before that was Marcelo Alencar da Silva sitting in a chair by a small table right between the dining and living room. Let the body hit the floor )
After he had presumably killed two mutants in the middle of Mutant Town and caused some more deaths just by trying to save his own skin, Marcelo called his lawyers to get ready for anything to come up. After assurances they would handle everything if the matter arose, he texted Stephanie to see if he could stay the night with her. His hands were shaky as he punched the letters. His spelling wasn't great to begin with, but he assumed the message got through.

He contacted Xavier's when he managed to calm himself. He got clearance for him to arrive via helicopter. The five minute jaunt to the school was necessary if he was going to ply Stephanie with La Navarra food. It would still be fresh by the time he got to the school. While he put in the order, he gathered things for the night and some presents for Sancho.

The Brazilian let his fiancé know he would be there in five minutes. He had a small duffel and a selection of Stephanie's favorites from her favorite restaurant. Marcelo just wanted to spend the night with the one person he felt safe around. Though he wasn't sure he would be allowed to stay after he told her what happened. If she didn't already know.
Marcelo had started regular patrolling in earnest when he wasn't trying to spend the night with Stephanie. It felt good to get the suit on. It covered his scars well and he had added a little protection to the spots where a sword had run straight through his body. In addition to his normal patrols, he used what little superhuman power he had to keep tabs on what Sebastian Shaw was doing. Since he could listen to things at a distance and fine tune his hearing from there, he tried to be careful not to blip on any of Shaw's cronies' radar.

Though that was where he picked up Shaw had put a bounty on Marcelo Alencar da Silva's head. The target wondered if this was the first time the same man had bounties on his head for two separate identities. He doubted it, but he liked to think he was pioneering in some way.

Ignoring the tabloid stories about him and Stephanie being on the rocks was easy enough since Marcelo didn't read tabloids nor did he have a secretary who did anymore. It was harder to ignore Helena when she scheduled a visit with him during office hours. The hour-long visit started pleasantly enough. It actually lasted that long because despite his small, almost heartfelt prayers, no business came up to interrupt the visit with his ex. It turned slightly awkward when she started sounding out if the tabloid reports were true or if Stephanie had gone to rehab or something of the sort. Then it got into well-controlled infuriating when Helena casually brought up some information she gathered about the time Stephanie and Marcelo weren't together. Marcelo was more than happy to escort Helena from his office after the hour was done.

He wasn't quite sure what the future had in store for him, but the Brazilian billionaire figured everything but the impending wedding would give him a headache at the very least.
To say that Stephanie had been eagerly awaiting seeing Marcelo again was an understatement. She'd been more active than at any previous point, making sure everything was as perfect as could be for his arrival. Most of the restrictions against her had been loosened. Which was a good thing, because she desperately needed to shave her legs. They were still watching, of course, but her telepathic sessions had been progressing well enough. They'd probably be doing better yet soon, as the worst of the psionic traps began to be clared out of her head.

Stephanie wasn't really thinking about all that right now. She missed Marcelo. She missed just about everything about him- his silly jokes, his unfailing support (though she knew she always had that) ... among many other things, sweatly and lewdly physical ones. There was little doubt that he'd be staying the night at the very least, and indeed, she'd made sure that was no problem with the Mansion staff. Thankfully the soundproofing on the rooms was excellent.

The waiting, however, was utterly dreadful. She wanted him to hurry up and get there. Nevermind that he wasn't late or anything.

She was, of course, aware that they probably had some things to talk about too, but it wasn't near the front of her mind at the moment.

Right now, she just wanted her damn man.

WHEN: One week after the Hellfire Club soiree
WHAT: Stephanie is a complete mess, guys.
WHO: Could be a variety of folks, honestly. This is just laying the fields of awful.
WHERE: The Mansion.

Cut for angst! )
((OOC Note: This takes place shortly after Marcelo leaves from here.))

Marcelo managed to keep his calm facade for a couple blocks away from the soiree. His steering wheel got a few angry smacks. They had done it somehow. They had managed to take Stephanie from him. He was realizing nothing a nice human could do would stand up.

So, he would get others. They might not go for Reginald Crane, but there would certainly be people who would want to take down Crane's boss. He pulled his Tesla Roadster out of traffic before he slammed into the back of something because someone was not driving the way he liked.

He glanced at his wrist and saw his wrap-around cellphone. He took it off and hit the contacts to call the one person he figured could help him go in the right direction. She had appeared in his office not long after Stephanie's father 'resurrected.' He was going to find out how close his hunches were.

Marcelo put his phone to his ear and waited for Sage to pick up the other end of the line.


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The Next Generation of Marvel Heroes

Current Game Date

June, 2013


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