MARVEL FANFARE 66
THE PEACE CORPS
by Alex Maggi
This story takes place at Year 3 - June
The man called Wundarr, but better known to the general public as the Aquarian, gently floats outside the rich penthouse apartment. It's night, and the young woman he's looking for sleeps in her bed behind that window, he slowly opens it to jump inside the bedroom, the alarm (and all the lights) completely shut off.
He whispers, gently, "Namorita! Nita! Wake up!".
A sudden move from the bed is the answer. A flash of pale blue skin under the moonlight. Clawed fingers, united by a membrane that immediately points to an undersea environment, stop barely an inch away from Aquarian's chest. A sharp voice cuts the silence, a voice that clearly shows a woman on the edge, anger and desperation mixed together.
"Don't, I repeat, DON'T ever do that again!" her black eyes, devoid of pupils, seem to glare in the dark, as if their darkness were so deep that they can shine in an awkward reverse manner. Her naked blue body vibrating for the tension , the anger, the stress of the last few months *, making her look even more sexier, if Wundarr were interested in that.
(* haven't you read New Warriors Annual # 5? Alex)
Aquarian fixes his gaze, full of compassion and calm on the distressed woman, then he speaks slowly, with a soothing voice, whispering comfort with every syllable.
"I apologize, Nita, I have tried to reach you many times in the past weeks, but your staff at Oracle, and your regal cousin, Namor, have always rejected my queries" he says this without the slightest hint of anger or reprobation, a calm statement of the truth "And I knew you needed me! So this is the reason for this impolite intrusion on your privacy".
Despite her tension, anger and sorrow, Namorita finds solace in her old friend's words. How can someone be angry in front of such an innocent, selfless attitude?
"Oh, Wundarr!" she almost breaks into sobs and tears again, as she had done so many times since the Warriors' massacre "How strange our lives seem! There was a time I was caring about you when you were just a frightened child in an alien world and now it's you coming to my side to offer comfort!"
She caresses his beard as he silently looks into her eyes, almost fuelling hope and strength through his own gratitude for what Nita has done to him in the past *.
(* looks for old issues of Marvel Two in One for the details on Namorita's and Wundarr's past relationship)
She gets up from her bed and hugs her silent friend. No words are needed: she knows what his presence means and they don't need to speak to communicate until a somewhat embarrassed Wundarr points out:
"Uh? Nita maybe you should put on some clothes " he struggles to find the words "You know, I still don't know how my physiology reacts to the pheromones the female of the human race produces but maybe your unique hybrid body well, I'm feeling reactions I didn't experience before when you were pink-skinned and younger "
A crystal laugh escapes Nita's
lips, the first after a long time of sorrow.
"Oh, Wundarr, you are truly a blessing for me! You should see yur face! But you're right, sorry for being this careless".
She turns away reaching for her dresser and finding a nightgown to put on. 'Liquid melted blue metal' is the thought that forms in the Aquarian's mind. A sense of strength and unconfined passion coming from this beautiful being. Wundarr thinks how his own growth as a "man" is still incomplete. He has reached a certain maturity of the mind, but he doesn't know yet how his own Dakkamite body will behave when that thing the human beings call "passion" or "love" or even "sexual lust" will hit him with its full force. Maybe this meeting with Namorita will help in that matter, too.
"So, Wundarr, why did you come to me? Save for giving me your comfort" Namorita slowly walks outside the window, signing her friend to follow her under the moonlight, on the terrace.
"I came because, after what I heard that's happened to the Warriors, I know it's time for you to accept something I would have wanted to give you before, a gift for your troubled mind" he answers regaining his calm and self-control, after the previous rush of passion?
"That's strange, Wundarr! What do you mean? What gift?" she asks curiously, while the moonlight plays with her black satin night gown, creating an even more exotic sense of beauty around her.
"Violence is not the answer!" he simply states.
Namorita cocks her head. Startled. Surprised. But then anger flashes in her eyes again. "What are you trying to tell me? That what befell the Warriors is the consequence of our aggressive take on the super-hero thing? That it was our own violence that ultimately built our downfall?"
"No, Nita!" he replies with his seemingly infinite calm, just as if his own Zero Field was dampening even the fire of emotion. "I mean that violence is not the answer to your present situation, the answer to the rebuilding of your life"
"I'm not seeing your point, here! I'm not doing anything violent. I have left the super-hero gig. I healed and I'm trying to put everything that's happened behind" she says, still tensing.
"You're lying" he states, again without malice or judgment, just addressing the truth "You're planning revenge every single waking moment of your life! I saw that in the way your eyes flash, in the way your body moves, your voice trembles. I saw you on TV specials, after the massacre. I've watched you from afar. You're willing to find the ones responsible for the Warriors' deaths and kill them. Violence has a way of showing itself, when someone has rejected it, like I did".
"What are you saying?" she's definitely angry now "That you WATCHED me for days? Getting voyeuristic in your growth? And that gives you the right to judge my intentions?"
"I'm not judging you!" he answers "I'm suggesting another "
"Shit!" she stops him "You're judging me! You're making me sound like some kind of blood-thirsty crazed woman out for vengeance!"
She steps onward and moves as
if to slap him in the face. But her hand slows down while
approaching him, as if its kinetic energy had dropped to zero. It
stops an inch away from Wundarr's cheek.
She glares at him, frustrated, then recognition comes to her eyes again and she retracts her arm and collapses on a chair, starting to sob.
"Oh, Wundarr, I'm sorry! I didn't mean to! I must be really crazy! If I had struck you with my full strength I could have torn your head from your neck!" she goes on sobbing, while he gently approaches her, putting a comforting arm around her shoulders.
"You're right" she says after a while, clearing her throat and wiping her eyes dry with her hand. "You're right about me dreaming of killing those who slaughtered my friends".
"But violence is not the way" he adds "I'm here to show you that. I know that only accepting another way of dealing with this problem will bring you comfort and peace of mind".
"I've been so alone" she stares at him "I couldn't look at Angie without feeling guilty for not stopping Starhawk from killing Vance. I couldn't stare at anyone of the others that survived. The only one I wanted by my side was Rich I mean Nova! But he disappeared! He left me! And I don't know why *".
(* but we know: Nova has been abducted for months by the Yellow Claw's scientists as explained in Force Works # 23-26, Alex)
"I'm here, now! Like you were there for me, long ago, when I needed you!" Aquarian says with sweetness in his voice. "I want for you to be happy and whole again".
In another part of the city, a man with long blond hair and wearing a green suit is cradled like a child in his bed. A terrible pain in his guts and an uncontrollable trembling coursing through his body.
Jackson Arvad thinks his hour has come. He has sensed before this terrible feeling of dissolution. His mind unable to keep his own body cohesive after the accident that made him the formerly villainous being known as the Will O' the Wisp.
Irony strikes him even through his unending agony. He had recently tried more than once to rebuild his life. To present himself as one of the good guys, even joining with other second-stringers in that Substitute Fantastic Four gig. *
(* see previous issues of the MV1 FF for this, Alex)
It is so unfair, he thinks. He was trying to atone and this is what he gets as a reward: dying alone, like a forgotten dog in an alley. Dispersing into nothingness It is UNFAIR!!! He shouts in his mind toward an invisible God he can hardly believes into.
Then pain makes him howl again as madness starts filling his thoughts if I have to die, I will bring down with me as many people as I can
Yes, madness is what's truly left to him.
"I appreciate what you're trying to do here, Wundarr!" Nita speaks with sadness in her tone "But I can't honestly be convinced by your arguments. I can't accept that my ways are only violence in your eyes. And it's easy for you talking about non-violence with a power like yours. Try to subdue a villain without violence when your powers are strength, endurance and flight."
"There are other ways to employ strength, even in a fight" he explains "You have only to try to be inventive to find them. Violence has the ability to kill creativity as well, while a peaceful attitude makes our minds open to new possibilities".
"You're a dreamer, Wundarr" she smiles, struck by his friend's ingenuous innocence, but still unconvinced.
"What I'm asking, Nita, is that you give me a chance to prove this dream a reality" he says with just a hint of a plea in his voice.
"Oh the hell! What do I have to lose, after all?" she almost sighs, defeated by the calm demeanor of the Aquarian "I think I can give you at least that "
They are interrupted by the tremendous sound of an explosion, coming from not so far away, as sirens start to howl into the night.
"Well, Wundarr, I think we could be testing your theories very soon" Nita says while darting inside her apartment and quickly donning what little makes her Kymaera outfit.
Smoke fills the street, while chaos reigns supreme. Firefighters are rushing to snuff the flames consuming the building, formerly the local P.D. Precinct. Ambulances are trying to get the wounded to the nearest hospitals.
A woman, her left arm bleeding, is barking orders to try to contain the situation. Her short, curled black hair matted with sweat, her brown skin made even darker by the dust and smoke from the explosion. Her thorn police suit giving her a little authority yet, to lead the rescuers. Officer Charlotte Jones blesses in her heart her decision not to let her son stay with her for the night, as he asked. Thinking of him, safe in his bed at home, is the only solace she has left, after seeing two of her friends and colleagues killed by the explosion.
"Officer! We're being radioed that other Precincts in Manhattan have been similarly bombed" another cop, bearing only a few scars, warns her from one of the ambulances.
"Terrorists! This must be a carefully thought plan! Where are the super-guys when you need them?" she mumbles angrily.
"My God! The building! It's going to collapse!" a woman cries, pointing to the structure through the smoke.
"There are a few people, trapped inside, on the highest floors" one of the firefighters warns.
"Blast!" Off. Jones curses while desperately looking for a way to save the trapped persons. Then she sees a slender figure swooping from the sky, fast, strong blue! For a moment her heart sinks, as the blue skin of this being reminds her of past happiness and sorrow *, then she realizes this is a woman. And that she's going right through the flames, to save those she was worrying about.
(* Charlotte Jones has been romantically involved with the blue-skinned mutant Archangel in the past, before he unceremoniously dumped her for the luscious Psylocke, Alex)
(I have to do this fast, or
the heat and the flames will dry my body) Kymaera thinks while
tearing open the roof to gain access to the top floor.
"Don't worry! I'm taking you out of here now!" she shouts to the few men inside. Two of them already out of their senses, due to the smoke filling their lungs. The other two barely standing.
She darts forward, taking the two unconscious men in her strong arms and hurries the other two to take a hold of her body. They unsteadily do that, after which Nita flies upward, carrying the four men.
Outside a bearded young man, dressed in white is slowly approaching floating in the air as if gravity couldn't get its grasp on him. He doesn't seem to notice Off. Jones' requests about his identity. He's fixed his gaze on Kymaera getting the men to safety, so he's the first to notice that one of the two who are grabbing her is passing out and losing his grip.
Shouts are heard from below, as Kymaera realizes she has her hands full and can't get to the ground and back to him in time. The man falls to certain death until the Aquarian, silently, without rushing, positions himself under him.
He doesn't move, he simply stands, as if praying, but in fact he's extending his own Zero Field upward, negating gravity's pull on the man. The fall is slowed down, gradually, not to cause any undue harm to the man. By the time Kymaera has handed over the other ones she rescued to the paramedics, Wundarr is catching the falling man in his arms, without effort.
"Well, OK, who are you?" Off. Jones approaches Kymaera and the Aquarian, after he's put down the fourth man. "The blue one I'm sure I saw more than once but the Jesus Christ Superstar there is new to me!"
"I'm Kymaera of the New former member of the New Warriors " she bits her lip "This is the Aquarian, you can trust him. He's worked with the Thing in the past, and with the Avenger Quasar".
"Right now I would greet even Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck if they can help can you do something to snuff the flames? This could spread wide " Off. Jones winches under the pain the wound in her arm is causing her "Is he mute or something?" she adds pointing at the Aquarian staring silently at the burning building.
"He has well, let's put it this way, a certain philosophy Hey, Wundarr! What are you ?" she shouts as the Aquarian walks toward the damaged and burning structure.
He doesn't reply, he just shakes his head with eyes full of sorrow, murmuring just a few words that get lost in the noise of the creeping flames.
"Is he mad? Or is he invulnerable or something?" Off. Jones looks puzzled at Kymaera, but she has already darted away towards one of the firefighters' vehicles. She wrenches open the seal to the water supply and, lifting it with her powerful muscles, she flies over the flames pouring water over them and snuffing them a bit but not enough.
Frustration fills Nita's eyes as she feels suddenly useless. Then she notices that around the Aquarian the fire is extinguished, the heat stops rising, the building stops crumbling. Everyone in the street looks at the man with the look of a prophet or a messiah as with each step he calms down the raging inferno, as if he commanded to the elements. Most of the New Yorkers have seen this scene many times, performed by one of the super-heroes crowding the city, but this time it has a remarkable difference as if the Aquarian were not only stopping the fire, but emanating a sense of calm and piece around him.
After a few minutes the extended Zero Field surrounding the alien being has conquered the flames. He looks at the destruction with pain spread on his face. Kymaera tries to reinforce the structure that's holding on only because the Zero Field negates gravity as well and would crumble immediately were the Aquarian withdraw his own field.
After the emergency has been contained the Aquarian floats into the air and without speaking a single word motions for Kymaera to rejoin him at her apartment. Kymaera is experiencing a mixture of irritation, due to her friend's attitude, and awe for the appealing sensation that his calm demeanor exudes.
"Hey, miss! Thanks for the saves and all but we would really have words with you and your silent Jesus-Wannabe there " Charlotte Jones speaks, her arm finally bandaged "Have you any clue about who's started all those terrorist acts? Are you onto something? Is this a case that some group of you vigilantes is working on?"
"I'm sorry, Officer, but we came here only because we heard the explosion and we were in the vicinity Are you saying something like this has been happening elsewhere?" Kymaera answers distracted, still thinking to what the Aquarian told her before about the needless violence.
"At least 13 different Precincts were targeted but we can't get anything more right now Will you Hey! Where are you going?" the black woman looks in disbelief while Nita takes off and approaches the Aquarian.
(Oh, God! I never learn! Blond, blue, flying and arrogant must be my punishment for my sins, evidently!) Charlotte returns to her duties trying to shrug off the feeling of uneasiness.
In a nearby alley, the blurred form of Will O' Wisp, fighting to retain his cohesiveness watches the scene. Pain distorting his features.
Nita's apartment. The next morning.
"How are you feeling this morning, Nita?" Wundarr is sitting on the terrace, reading the newspaper and having breakfast. The Atlantean beauty has just got up from bed.
"Yawn! You are disgustingly early, Wundarr! How can you be up at this hour?" She stretches her arms, bathing in the morning sun and annoyingly sitting in her chair while, across the table, her friend smiles at her for an instant and keeps examining the newspaper.
"I'm curious about those bombing last night, you know?" She's still trying to get into a coherent set of thoughts how she hates when she has a guest who wakes up so early.
"I think I've found a reason for those ones" he states impassively, as usual.
"WHAT!??!" Nita feels that she's suddenly awake.
"The 13 affected Precincts are the nearest ones to the UN building. This is probably an attempt to cause security glitches, since it's obvious that all that destruction and loss of lives will prevent a carefully thought out organization, today" he explains.
"What are you talking about? What organization for today? By the way, since when you read the newspaper in the morning?" she showers him with questions.
"I bet you've not been in touch with the current political situation" he smiles at her "Today there will be a heated session at the UN building. It's been in the news for quite some time now and for the newspaper thing I find it relaxing and useful"
"I haven't paid the news reports much attention, lately" she replies "What's the big matter at the UN and why do you think someone will try to make a mess out of it?"
"Have you heard tales of the island-nation of Genosha?" he asks.
"The mutant-enslaving country?" she nods.
"Well, today their ambassador will pledge to the UN for them to lift the sanctions that have been set against them" he calmly plays with his beard while talking. "And I think he's the target for the terrorists that struck last night".
"So, are you telling me you devised all these things on your own? You look pretty experienced for a disoriented alien" she's again upset about the Aquarian's calm attitude.
"I'm not the only one who did" he points out, showing her the newspaper "Sen. Robert Kelly has jumped to the same conclusions and has requested the presence of the Avengers for added security".
"Ah well, so the matter is resolved. The Avengers can take care of everything " she sips her grape-juice.
"We're going there you should get dressed" Wundarr says folding the newspaper and getting up.
"What do you mean ? Wundarr!!! Don't you dare to walk away without telling me what you have in mind WUNDARR!!!!" she watches as her friend without further word steps over the terrace perimeter and floats in the air heading calmly for the UN building, not so far away.
"Wundarr!!! The hell if I'm going after him!" Kymaera is furious "I'm stuffed with his sanctimonious attitude!"
One minute passes as she sees her friend walking away in the air, slowly.
"I'm NOT going! I don't want to get involved! He must be crazy!" she fumes, still staring.
Three more minutes pass, and she's pacing back and forth on her terrace, glancing at the shrinking figure of the Aquarian and cursing under her breath.
Another five minutes
"Neptune's beard! How I hate him!!! Grrrrrrrr" growling she enters her room and gets quickly dressed in her Kymaera costume, flying off to stop him.
In the streets below, Jackson Arvad almost passes out for the pain, but retains his consciousness out of desperation he knows that if he falls asleep he will simply dissipates as mist in the morning sun. He looks upward and sees again the strange man dressed in white and his blue-skinned companion high in the NY sky. A feeble hope springs in his tortured mind.
"Wundarr! Wait! Stop! I'm not going on with this if you don't tell me what you're planning in that crazy mind of yours" Kymaera reaches her friend and position herself so to block his intended path.
The alien simply retracts his Zero Field for a second dropping a few feet before he negates gravity again, floating onward under Nita's body.
"Hey! This is not fair! That's cheating! You MUST talk to me " she stops in her ranting when she beholds a huge brilliant cloud hurtling toward them from below. She reacts swiftly avoiding impact and diving into this unexpected opponent. She's bathed in the brilliance of the strange cloud and feels the tingle of electricity on her thick skin, but she simply traverses the cloud with no further effect. She glances back as the apparition clearly envelops the Aquarian.
"Wundarr! What's that? Protect yourself" she charges again but she stops, amazed by the sudden change of the scene In front of the now still Wundarr, the cloud coalesces into a green-clad, blond-haired man suspended in the air, no doubt by the effect of the alien's Zero Field.
"You did it! I know you would!" Jackson Arvad cries and falls into the opening arms of the Aquarian, as the alien perceives on an emotional level that this man is thanking him for saving his life.
Namorita approaches the scene with caution. She's trying to remember this man's identity.
Will O' Wisp is blubbering incoherently, then the Aquarian tries to calm him down and asks him why he searched for him in particular. Nita is ever more suspicious.
"I'm Jackson Arvad, the Will O' Wisp, I've worked with Spiderman in the past " he starts explaining, wiping the tears from his eyes, tears of joy after the last days of unending pain.
"You mean you battled Spiderman! Now I remember!" she states suddenly.
"No no! That was before when I wanted revenge for the ones responsible for my current state but I have since tried to rebuild a life and do good. You have to believe me!" he looks at Aquarian for recognition.
"Nita, you are too suspicious! And too prone to resort to violence!" Aquarian speaks to the Atlantean princess.
"I didn't mean to attack you before but last night I saw you snuff the flames and defy gravity and I figured you were the only one with the right power to stop my dissolution I was a physicist before becoming this and even if had been wrong I would have died anyway " he speaks in a rush.
"Calm!" Wundarr says while looking into Jackson's eyes and then Nita's. "You can explain that to us later. Now we have a matter to attend to. And I advice that if you fear for your powers to cause your death you should remain in my proximity so my Zero Field can stabilize you".
Without speaking another word he resumes his walk toward the UN building. A puzzled Will O' Wisp at his side and a shocked, more then angry, Kymaera flying above.
Officer Charlotte Jones feels
her arm still sore while inspecting her own section of the
perimeter security force.
(I'm sure that whoever did those bombing last night is going to show up here! And I want them nailed for what they did to my friends) she's too angry to feel the stress of the past night of drama.
"Barings! Alert the others! Another car is approaching! More diplomatic staff! Look out for any trouble!" she barks her orders but she barely manages not to fall to the ground as a series of explosions is heard on the opposite side of the security perimeter.
"They're attacking on the other side! They were not after the Genoshan ambassador!" she shouts, angered by the fact they were all fooled. She stares as the Avengers get into battle, but she can hardly discern their foes from this far.
The car stops and Sen. Kelly and the Genoshan ambassador step out, while Jones' squad watches over them. No-one on this side is truly under any kind of risk. The Avengers will dispose of the menace soon. Charlotte barely finishes this thought when all in the area experience a searing pain as a hyper-sonic attack incapacitates many and sends the other on the ground, hurting, trying to protect their ears
A woman steps over the fallen cops, heading toward the ambassador, one of the few still awake, but in great pain. She speaks with anger in her voice:
"Do you remember me? Do you know what's going to happen?" she wields a strange object, pulsating, probably the source of the hyper-sonic attack.
"Dr. Maj Majcomb!" the Genoshan blabs the name incoherently.
"Yes, me! You nazi pig! You who represents a nation that enslaves people for profit!" she grins at him, then she turns and calls "Nils! I think it's yours, now!"
A lithe black form swirls from apparently nowhere, emanating a strange aura of danger and deadliness around him. The ambassador's eyes open wide when he recognizes who's going to kill him very soon. Off. Jones desperately tries to regain enough control to draw her gun, when a voice from above speaks.
"Violence is not the answer, woman!" the calm and placid voice of the Aquarian resounds. Charlotte feels the pressure on her ears vanishing as the alien's Zero Field encompasses her. She lifts her gaze and see the blue-skinned Kymaera clenching her fists, readying for battle and a green-clad man she recognizes from some police files as a former villain, now presumably reformed.
"Who are you?" Dr. Majcomb is startled, as is her ally Nils.
The Aquarian calmly replies:
"We are the PEACE CORPS".
(Great!) thinks Charlotte (Another group of misfits!)
NEXT ISSUE: What's going to happen? Will the Peace Corps resort to violence to prevent Dr. Majcomb's attempt at harming the Genoshan Ambassador? Will Kymaera accept the Aquarian's claim that "Violence is not the answer"? And what of Will O Wisp and his unstable powers? Plus, the mysterious menace of Nils. I bet only one person is more curious than you are about the answers to this questions. And she's Officer Charlotte Jones! Be back soon with the second part of this story: "A trip to GENOSHA!"
E-mail your comments, thoughts and constructive criticism to PEACE OF MIND - AlexM@mclink.it
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This is a long awaited story I conceived some 3 months ago. I'm trying to do something really new with these characters. Trying to figure out if the non-violent approach is really an alternative to the usual hero stuff. I hope this sounds intriguing to you as well. If the PEACE CORPS idea will meet the favors of our selective MV1 crowd it could even become my first "creator owned" title out there.
Be sure that some new faces will be added along the way, but the nucleus of the new team will always be the relationship between Aquarian and Kymaera.
Let me know what you think of it!