Without him, all of you would be lost souls roamin
Feb 23, 2005
Captain America #4 "Endless Darkness"
1945: The light blinded Steve like a million flash bulbs going off at once. The air rushed past at an incredible speed and Steve suddenly realized he was falling. He hit the water like concrete and everthing went dark. In the black silence his mind drifted somewhere else and his body floated down, into the endless darkness.
"My Darling Gail,
I can't imagine what's going on in your head right now, but just the fact that you're reading this means something bad has happened and for that I am so sorry. Sorry for saying you were wrong, sorry for going to war, sorry for dieing and leaving you alone like this. All I ever wanted was for us to get married and have kids and buy that little house with the cherry blossom trees on Cedar Street. It breaks my heart to think that you and I might get cheated out of all the tiny joys other people take for granted. But even if we are seperated for a little while, we've got to remember that God is good and even the most terrible things happen for the best of reasons, sweet heart. Heaven and Hell couldn't keep us apart, Gail Richards. I know in my heart that no matter what the future holds, you and I will be together again one day.
Always and forever,
*from Ultimates Vol. 1 #1
SOMEWHERE IN EASTERN EUROPE
1946: Johann awoke to see Heinrich standing rigigd and expressionless at the end of his small, uncomfortable cot.
"Good morning, Johann."
"...Good morning, Sir."
"Do you know what time it is?"
"No. Five O'Three."
"I am so sorry, Sir..."
"There is no need for apologies. Just get dressed and meet me outside."
Johann put of his clothes and left the humble wooden cabin that he had been calling home for the past 6 months. Across from it sat Heinrich's cabing, and across a clearing there was a small hangar. Johann had grown accustomed to the fresh air and the smells of the forest. Johann could see Heinrich standing at the tree line, quietly. As Johann started towards him, Heinrich turned into the woods. Johann followed. He found Heinrich sitting in a wooden chair in front of a large tree, ten feet from the clearing.
"Do you know what this is?"
"It is a tree, Sir-"
"Yes, it is a tree. But it is also a symbol. This tree began life as a tiny helpless sapling. It grew stronger, though. It took years, but it grew strong. I want you to hit the tree, Johann."
"But-Alright, Sir." Johann punched the tree. His knuckles stung slightly.
"Keep hitting it, Johann."
"Do not question me, Johann. You are a 'supersoldier.' When that formula entered your blood stream, you became something different. If you cannot do this, then how could you expect to face Him."
"Sir, is the War over?"
"The War will never end. Not until you end it. Now start hitting the goddam tree. I'll tell you when you can stop."
Johann pounded his fists into the tree and did not stop or say a word. Heinrich sat and watched, without expression. The forest was silent except for the crack of Johann's knuckles hitting the tree. Johann continued for hours as Heinrich watched. The sun had gone down and the forest was blanketed in darkness. The skin of Johann's knuckles had worn off and his hands were covered in blood. The muscles in his arms felt like they were on fire. He lifted his right arm to batter the tree, but found that his arm was paralyzed. He tried his left but had the same problem. His knees buckled and he slowly fell backwards, hitting the ground with a thud. Heinrich got up to inspect the tree. Where Johann had been punching, the bark was stripped away and the wood was worn and cracked with blood. Heinrich sighed.
"This is...unacceptable. You hardly made a dent. Every week, we will do this until you can demolish one of these goliaths. You may feel...tired, now. But you wil get used to it. Maybe one day you will have an idea of what it feels like to topple a giant. Then you can bring down a real giant. You can make it back yourself."
Heinrich left Johann sprawled across the forest floor, in the endless darkness.
2004: The air touched Steve's face as he stood at the door. He looked down at the sceneryas the plane passe into the city. He had been doing drops for years and he knew the routine: the sick, uneasy feeling as you board the plane, the slow relaxation as you take off, and the euphoria right before the jump. Steve suddenly heard Nick's voice over his earpiece.
"Steve, are you ready?"
"All right. Drop time in 5...4...3...2...1."
Steve took a step off the edge of the door and began to fall. The wind whistled around him and he realized that the ground was rushing towards him. His boots hit the ground with a dull thud. As he rose, Steve looked around. The crowd around him had become deathly silent. They were all staring at Steve. Finally, the crowd began to part inexplicably, and whispered murmers spread like a wave. A path cleard through the throng, and a hulking figure emerged. He was wearing an S.S. uniform and must have been over seven feet tall. He spoke in a bellowing voice.
"Captain America? Our master has been waiting for you. Follow me."
1986: Johann was hitting as hard as he could. He had done this so many times, but this was different. He was so close to breaking the tree. It was dark, but within a few hits, Johann would reach his precious goal. Heinrich watched from his wheelchair with more anticipation than ever. He was nearly 90 years old and had grown gravely ill. On the other hand, 40 year old Johann barely seemed to age. A Johann pummeled the tree, a familiar feeling returned. He could feel hsi arms go limp and his body become sore. Not now. Not now. He realized tha the couldn't hold out any longer. Before he knew what was happening, he was already on the ground. He staggered to his feet and tried to hit the tree, but he found that his hand wouldn't form a fist. His eyes glanced at Heinrich. He was staring, without expression at Johann. He turned his wheelchair around and slowly rolled away. Johann spoke.
"Where are you going, S-sir."
"46 YEARS, DAMMIT! 46 YEARS WASTED!"
"B-but I could still-"
"You are a failure, Johann! You had every oppurtunity, and you wasted it!"
"I tried so hard..."
"Get out of here. I never want to see you again." Johann crumpled to his knees and began to sob.
"I-I'm not a failure." Heinrich rolled through the door of his cabin and sat still. He cocked his head to the side.
"I'd tell you I'm sorry, Johann, but I'd be lieing."
"I'm not a failu-........" As the tears streamed down his face, Johann felt something grow within him. He rose to his feet and stared at Heinrich's back.
"I AM NOT A FAILURE!!!" He charged at Heinrich with new found fury, knocking him to the floor. He began to hit Heinrich and found he could not stop. Heinrich pleaded and screamed, but all Johann could hear was static. Johann couldn't stop. Not even after Heinrich stopped screaming. Not after he stopped moving. Not after he was dead.
When he finally pulled himself away, he was surprised at how he felt. He felt calm. Calmer than he ever had been. He rose without hesitation. He knew what he had to do. He walked to the hangar and found what he was looking for. He put Heinrich on the bed and put the tools on the bedside. He removed his bloodstained shirt adn got to work. It was a long job: he had to work until the sun rose. But it was worth it. Cutting through the bone was the hardest part, but the skin was easier than he had thought. When he had finished painting, he knew he had been reborn. Everything would be different from now on. Everything.
2004: The huge man led Steve through the massive crowd and everything felt surreal. Thay were all staring at Steve. He could feel their eyes follow him. Some sported hateful glares, but no one said a word. The group ahd built a ramshackle city with makeshift houses. Steve looked ahead, and realized where he was going. He saw a two story department store on a corner he was nearing. The building was covered in swatstikas, painted on the side an sewn into banners.
He was led in, and to the second floor. The store seemed to be empty. Steve was brought to a large tent structure in the center of the second floor.
"He is in there." said the large man. Apprehensively, Steve entered the lion's den. Inside the tent was an office setup, with a desk and chairs. On the far wall was a map of the world. Behind the desk sat a man clad in a black uniform and hat, with his back turned to Steve.
"Mr. Rogers." said the Man in a gentle tone. "Please, have a seat."
"Who are you? What do you want?"
"Hmmmm....Who am I, you ask. Well, let me tell you a little story, Mr. Rogers. See, America wasn't the only nation that wanted a so called 'supersoldier'. In 1940, the German authorities rescued me from my squallid, useless life and began to train me. No own understood better than they did that to become great, one must forget compassion, remorse,....love. They tought me strength. And that's all that's important. Your little attack on the Iceland facility almost ruined everything. I and the head of the project escaped. We took the last samples of the German 'supersoldier' serum, and I was able to become more than human. There was one obstacle that stood in my way, but I destroyed Him. When he was finally dead, I felt like I had been reborn. I was stronger than ever. I ran away. I built an empire. I forged a revolution. And I did it right underneath everybody's noses. Theres hatred everywhere Mr. Rogers. Many ignore it, but I use it. I exploit it. Now the revolution has begun and nothing will stop it."
"Why are you telling me all this?"
"They use to tell me about you. They said someday I would destroy you. That day has come."
"You think you're going to kill me?" Said Steve as he stood up. "Well, I don't think you know who you're dealing with, budd-" He fell to the floor and clutched his head. It felt like his mind was falling apart. A telepath. He looked behind him and saw a pale man in black an white garments, with a shaved head. The large man held him with a metal leash.
"We found him in a store. He hadn't evacuated in time. He is a Jew. We were going to kill him, but he launced a psychic attack and we learned he was a mutant. We decided to spare him. He makes an excellent weapon. Enjoy you sleep Mr. Rogers."
Steve's eyes closed, and he fell into endless darkness.
Steve opened his eyes and found that he could not move. He was hanging from the ceiling and was wrapped in chains. He groggily struggled but he still could not move. He was in a small black room when the man in black entered. His face was in shadow.
"Don't bother trying to break those chains. I assume you know what adamantium is?"
"You never answered my question. Who are you? Really." The man moved to the corner of the room and turned on the light. Steve could now see his face. He wore a skull as a mask, painted red. Steve shuddered to think where it came from.
"My Followers call me the 'Red Skull'. Seems fitting doesn't it?" He produced a slow and sour laugh. "Now let's get to work." He walked over to Steve and punched him in the face. "I'm going to make this last." He continued to punch with the rythm and determination he learned so long ago. He kept on going. Steve could not resist. His face became bruised and his teeth shattered. The Red Skull kept hitting. The hours passed and Steve knew he would not last. The glaring red face in front of him went blurry and he once again blacked out.
Steve woke up when the punches stopped. He realized that his skull felt....cracked, but the punches had stopped. The Red Skull lay on the floor, struggling to his feet.
Johann realized Heinrich was staring at him. He stood in the doorway, staring.
"You failed me again."
"No...I'm almost done. YOU WERE WRONG!"
"It's over, Johann." Heinrich raised a gun and pointed it at Johann, and fired. The bullet hit Johann in the gut and suddenly his senses returned. Heinrich was gone. There was only a man with an eyepatch. Johann could almost remember who he was, but his mind drifted away.
When Steve saw Nick, he couldn't help but smile. Nick spoke to the Red Skull.
"It's over, Johann." He shot the Red Skull in the stomach. Nick looked up at Steve. Steve strained to speak.
"Angel in an eyepatch." Nick grinned back at him. He spoke into his earpiece.
"Send a containment unit up here. We've got their leader. And a med team." Nick began to unlock Steve's chains.
"Johann?" asked Steve.
"Johann Schmitt. The Germans knew all about him. They didn't bother telling us until you got in here. Apparently, he was-"
"He told me."
"SHIELD knew about the Red Skull, but we never knew who he was. We figured he was just some psycho revolutionary."
"What about the city?"
"They're securing thing." The containment unit came in and took Johann out on a stretcher. A second stretcher took Steve. As he was being pulled out, Nick noticed Steve's expression.
"I can't help but feel like this was all my fault."
2005: Johann sat still in his cell. There was nothing left. He had been stripped of his face. Stripped of his empire. Stripped of his destiny. He thought his defeat would only strengthen his hatred for Steve Rogers, but he only questioned it. As he sat in his cold, prison cell, awaiting his pointless trial, he realized he had nothing. Nothing but his thoughts, his silence, and the endless darkness.
Without him, all of you would be lost souls roamin
Feb 23, 2005
Captain America TPB By: Moonmaster
I liked Nur's idea of creating a TPB (for the UC fic), so I'm stealing it! I won't be starting a new thread, though, I'll post all four issues in one post on this thread.
Features exclusive extras: character sketches, and more!
I have to say this reads pretty well now that the whole piece is up. Sometimes it's difficult to follow the plot when a story is posted piecemeal, which is one reason I tend to wait until something is finished or a substantial portion is available before I review.
I know a couple of people have commented on the trouble with following the switches between dates, but you've got the sections pretty well labelled, so it wasn't too hard to keep track of where I was. This switching tends to work better with longer sections, or even separate paragraphs, but works pretty well here.
Some very strong comparisons and contrasts between Johann and Steve Rogers come out of this story. One is stolen from his family and forced into the supersoldier program, the other volunteers but is initially turned down. Both feel like failures at various points in the process. Johann has mentor rather than a friend; with Rogers it's the opposite. Nice balances there.
I admit I'm a bit confused about the scene in which Fury shoots Red Skull. What triggered Johann's hallucination of Heinrich? I'd also be interested in knowing how Fury found Rogers and get himself in there to rescue him. We know from the comics that Fury can pull off some pretty amazing surprises, but I'd like to hear him explain how he did it.
One thing I would suggest is that if you ever decide to revise or expand on this, you might want to find a beta-reader to check for typos and commas in the right places and other details. We don't worry about that much here, as most reviewers tend to focus on the story rather than the technical details, but checking for grammar and punctuation could be part of the second draft of this story.
I'm curious about the scene in which Johann is punching the tree. Is this something you saw somewhere and adopted to this story, or did you make it up yourself?
And I think it was a very clever idea to use a telepath against Captain America, who would likely have limited defenses against psychics.