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Rating: 3-3-3

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RPF* Real Person Fiction; IE Apping an actual celebrity

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Thread Contributor: Belle Scarlet StreetDust to Dust
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#1
Belle ran her cloth across the surface of the chipped surface, red, blue paint had faded over the centuries since the last time the shield was held by a real hero. Belle carefully wrapped the circular burden into a solemn black cloth, she had no better covering that would fit it and she was at loath to do much more beyond gently polish, the dirt that had seeped into the few scratches was the last remaining breath of a world she‘d witnessed die. There was something so horribly sacrilegious about cleaning that away from this last relic.

Perhaps this more properly belonged to the few dozen or so survivors, and if Steve wished she would gladly give it to them, along with what stories she could get Chris to tell of the man who‘d welded it...but the truth was they had no idea what that Steve Rogers had been like, what he would have wanted to happen to this last link.

Which lead her to the door of the mansion Chris had been staying at. The stories he had told her of Steve Rogers made her think that this was a man who would beable to put the shade of his otherself to rest..

„Captian Rogers?“ Belle‘s sweet soft voice came over the intercom, Chris had arraigned the meeting but she didn‘t want to just barge in unannounced.

Belle stood at the front door of the avengers mansion, holding a black wrapped bundle.
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#2
Steve had been very excited when Christian had approached him and asked if he would like to meet his sister Bella. Steve had heard so many good things about her that he jumped at the opportunity. Further intriguing, Christian had mentioned that she had something for Steve, yet when Steve pressed for more details Christian remained oddly cryptic.

Now Steve waits eagerly for her arrival. The intercom buzzes and Bella's voice comes through oddly tinny. It reminds him of how Mr. Stark sounds through his Ironman mask. He finds the intercom to be such an interesting invention, too bad nobody taught him how to use it. After a few false starts where he didn't realize you needed to push the button when speaking, Steve gets it right and invites her up.

Shortly after he opens the door to greet her. She's holding something large and round in a black cloth in her hands.

"Hello, you must be Bella," Steve greets, stepping inside to let her in, "Christian has spoke a lot about you."
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#3
„Belle.“ She corrected with a small smile to show she didn’t mind the mistake. Belle was an omnivore of books, but even she wasn’t exactly enthused to be confused with the heroine of THAT book series!

She’d assumed the pause was do to other reasons besides him not knowing how to manage the door buzzer, after all he was a intelligent man, and handsome to boot, surely she couldn’t be the first guest he‘d had over!

„Chris speaks on ya often as well.“ she confirmed her brothers tiny obsession, keeping in mind his request that she not pry into to his ship.

„Ah am not sure if Chris has spoken ta ya on what has been occurring but, Ah recently was..taken ta a world. One which ah been told had a Steve Rogers.“ Belle held out her burden, lifting the wrapping slowly to reveal the scarred surface, „Tha world died.“ she murmured with quiet respectful grief. „An this...it saved mah life when ah needed it.“ Belle‘s vibrant blue eyes met his, „An‘ ah wanted ta know if ya wanted it...or what ya think He would have wanted.“
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#4
@"kel"

Steve blushes at his mistake, hoping he hadn't offended her, especially because she was actually polite enough to use the intercom system. Mr. Stark and Bucky, his two most common visitors just walked in as they pleased as if they owned the place. Which in Mr. Stark's defense, he actually did.

Oh great, another world with a Steve Roger's. Steve gives a tiny sigh, wondering what type of trouble this version of himself had gotten into.

She reveals the shield. It's paint is faded and scratched, but it's unmistakable. Steve reaches out for it. Cold metal is familiar beneath his fingertips.

"Did you say the world died? No survivors?" Steve asks. He takes the shield gently. He hopes it served it's Steve Rogers as loyally as his own has served him.
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#5
Belle was more astute than she was given credit for, the play of exasperation, faint irritation across his face was not lost on her. Maybe she was stupider than the men who kept running over copies of themselves but Belle thought she’d treat another her as a sister and not as some heat to unknown potential disaster.

Some of that quelling though seeped into her expression, pulling down the corner of her mouth into a faint disapproving frown.

Maybe she was expecting to much of him considering what she'd heard from Chris about his
Encounters with his other self, but.

This was the last relic not only of a dead man, but a dead world. That deserved more respect than a put on suppressed sigh.

At least once he realized exactly what the Shield symbolized he had a slightly more respectful attitude.

Her world didn’t have a Captain America besides in comics, an she‘d never really read them, that had been her brother. And yet perhaps because she‘d seen the arm still gripping the broken bands, had felt the world die under her feet...Belle was attached to it.

„About 20 were evacuated.“ Belle took a breath, „They ain‘t in good shape, been survivin‘ on the ashes of a nuclear wasteland for long as the oldest can remember. Ah know a doctor, we been trying to get them on their feet, but...shellshocked is a understatement.“
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#6
@"kel"

Belle is giving him a disapproving look. Steve isn't sure why. Perhaps she knew this other Steve Rogers. Or perhaps he isn't living up to all the Captain America stories her brother told her. Either way, he's used to ignoring looks of disapproval. Captain America may be a hero, but Steve Rogers always seemed to be doing something wrong. Sergeant Duffy had given him disapproving looks at least twice a day during the war. Secretly Steve thinks, Sergeant Duffy just liked to be disapproving in general.

"How did it happen?" Steve asks. The whole world dead. Gone like it was never there to begin with. His heart aches for the survivors, he knows what it's like to lose ones whole world.

He holds the shield out to her. He doesn't want to let it go, but it's not his to take.

"This belongs to the survivors. It's one of the last pieces of home they have." Steve says.
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#7
„An evil man.“ belle shuddered instinct level reaction to the memory of Martin‘s very presence leaving a stain on her soul.

„He brought the moon down on it.“ Belle shook her head, „They didn‘t know him…“ Belle‘s hands gripped the edges of the shield between them, „He was killed...in a war long long before any of them were born…“ Belle‘s knuckles whitened with repressed rage, „He said he killed anyone that would have been been a threat before they could be-„ When Belle looked up there were tears in her eyes, „I don’t understand-„ She whispered hoarsely, „How can a man be so evil...unrepentant? He destroyed that world because he wanted ta, there wasn‘t nothing that meant anything to him…“
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#8
@"kel"

"It doesn't matter if they knew Steve Rogers or not... Captain America was always bigger than just a man. And this, this is a piece of their world that hasn't turned to ash. Let them decide what they want to do with it. I can't take it from them." Steve says.

Her eyes well with tears. "How can a man be so evil...unrepentant?"

Steve gives her a sad smile and invites her to sit down.

"I've been asking myself that since I read about Hitler invading Poland, and I'm sure humans will be asking that long after we're gone." He says gently. It's a question that used to keep him up long nights during the war, where the sound of gunfire in the distance was the only thing keeping him company. He's stopped asking though. He knows there's no answer that would satisfy him.

"You said he went back in time to kill those who were a threat to him...how did he go back? And would it be possible for someone to go back and stop him from changing the timeline to his advantage?" Steve asks.
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#9
Belle‘s hands curled around the shield protectively, possessive even; it had become in her mind a symbol not only of that lost world but of her own rebirth, that maybe it shouldn‘t be burried or left in a museum. It should be used, honor the purpose it had once represented, keep the spirit of not just a man but a whole species alive.

And she tried to vocalize that, poorly.

„Ah don‘t know?“ Belle blinked at what to her was an odd conversational twist. „There was an awful lot of talk about stones an‘ pillars. But Ah don‘t think that man had been near human in a dogs age.“ she comment, a shiver of revulsion slipping down her spine.

Belle was a bibliophile and no slouch when it came to the scientific concepts she read about, in both fiction and in the publications that had comw across her desk. „Change t‘much…“ Belle bit her lip, „An thats na even addressin‘ tha‘ it would based on wa Hub seems ta prove, tha‘ it would only create an alternate universe. Which implies that it might ha‘ already been done?“

@becky
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#10
@"kel"

Steve gives her a small encouraging smile at the way she clutches the shield possessively. He knows the feeling. He hopes she gives it a good home.

Stones? That sounds vaguely familiar. Perhaps Mr. Stark has mentioned something...but Steve can't pull up the memory. He makes a note to ask Mr. Stark later about time traveling stones.

"I admit, I'm no scientist," Steve says, "but there has to be a way to stop him. He can't just destroy the world and get away with it."
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#11
Belle isn’t quite sure what that little smile playing around Captain Rogers mouth means, there is something nostalgic and...Something almost sad? Belle wondered if he wished for a normal life. From what her brother had told her he wouldn’t take back the choice to become the hero he was but..maybe sometimes he wished for something simpler.

Cocking her head Belle gazed up at him thoughtfully; “If ya serious, ah know a man that’s made that his life work. If ya want ah can bring ya too him?” @becky
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#12
"Yes, please." Steve says Immediately, "I'd like to help in any way that I can."

He looks back at the shield in her hands. It's still so familiar he has to glance at his own shield lying on the table just to remind himself it's still there. Steve feels a certain sadness for his counterpart who never got to see the end of the war and for a universe that has been needlessly destroyed.

He looks back up at Belle who looks so young.

"If that's alright with you. I don't want to drag you back into something if it's going to be dangerous," Steve adds.

@kel
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#13
Danger.

Once not so long ago, really less than a year her life had only been as dangerous as any other Gothamite; which to be honest was an above average amount of mortal peril. Yet she managed to keep her head down and never considered herself to be brave.

The last year had changed Belle, the last month solidifying the shift from mousey librarian...into something, someone who wanted to be more.

Belle had uprooted herself from her home, her world, her everything to create a new life, a new future.

„Let’s go,“ She nodded to him, nimbly turning on heel to lead the tall man out of the mansion.

Hub was interesting, no matter where you started from you could get anywhere else in an hour. Always. Sure if it was close it took less time, but for the larger burrows you could cross what seemed like the island of manhattan and be into Wakanda in less than a hour.

Or in this case the castle Virgil had assumed control of; „Hallo? Virgil?“

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#14
If there had ever been castles in America, and they had survived into the time of the Old West, this was probably what they would have ended up looking like. The castle itself was a massive stone structure, though it was more broad than it was tall. Within the walls were other buildings, workshops and other smaller, support facilities, less sturdy than the massive castle, but functional, and from the various cables running about, apparently powered, despite the rustic look to the place.

The Hall of Gilead was looking a bit more active today, and Virgil was happy to see it. No, the place wasn't yet full of those sort of people who would stand up and save worlds, but it was stocked with the sort of people you needed to run a castle, though perhaps not a castle of this size yet. Some of the workshops showed signs of use: Smoke coming from a forge, the flashing zap of an arc welder. While land wasn't exactly expansive, there was a functioning garden, and there were people out in it tending it, and to a small amount of livestock back behind the workshops. Tracks at the gates showed that vehicles came through here as well as horses, though the horses seemed to be more prevalent, given that distance in the Hub wasn't quite as great a thing as within the worlds. Mostly, the need was for carrying heavy loads, although Virgil had taken to riding about on his horse just because he could.

The Gunslinger himself was coming out of the castle through the work entrance, a much more humble (and normal) door than the great entrance that loomed into view through the gate. Visitors came and went from the castle, he was trying to encourage trade and barter for what the people he'd taken in could produce, but the people that they'd rescued from the dying world had come to know Belle, and knew to let him know when she'd come for a visit. And, apparently, she hadn't come alone this time, which was a pleasant surprise in itself. Her companion looked like the capable sort, after all, and he needed to know as many capable folks as he could. "Well, now, there's a welcome sight for these tired old eyes," he said, tipping his hat in Belle's direction as he approached them. "And you've brought me more company. That suits me just fine, there's nothing more sad than an old man eating lunch alone. What brings you to my door today?"
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#15
"Let's go" Belle says suddenly and just like that they are off. Their journey is unexpectedly short and in only about an hour they arrive at a castle. Steve cocks his head. He's seen castles before - he's even stormed a few during the war - but he's never seen a castle like this. It looks like someone plunked a castle in the middle of the wild west. How odd. Before he can ask about it an old man strolls out to greet them. Steve follows Belle's lead as the stranger invites them to lunch.

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#16
Belle had never been a girl to wobble about getting on with something once she made up her mind to do it, seemed to her that once you made a choice best to get on with it. Time for second guessing was before you pulled the trigger after all.

„Virgil!“ Belle smiled reaching up to wrap an arm around his shoulder and press a quick kiss to his cheek. „How are ya hun?“ Belle grinned happily up at the older man, robot? Person. „May I introduce you ta Steve Rogers? Captain Rogers is was a soldier. One of his counterparts owned this-„ her fingers drifted down the shield she still held.

„He wants ta stop Martin.“ she finished more seriously.

„Steve, this is Virgil Barnett. His History with the man tha‘ killed that world is...well Ah‘ll let him tell the story.“



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#17
He shrugged at her question, giving her a little hug back in return. “Oh, I’m a busy man these days, but I’m getting used to that. Been an age since I’ve had to manage the runnings of a place this big, but some things you never forget how to do.” He made a little gesture at the castle up above him. “Folks we brought back from our little apocalyptic trip have been a lot of help. They learned how to survive with nearly nothing left in a world. Give them soil that will grow, living animals, and actual, working tools and they can do amazing things.”

Virgil offered Steve a firm handshake, then saluted him, fist to forehead in the Mid-world fashion. “Long days and pleasant nights, Sai Rogers,” he said. “Welcome to the Hall of Gilead, and may her gates always open for you. Come, come inside. Like I said, lunch is almost ready, and I’d just as soon have company for it.”

Belle’s next five words, though, stopped the gunslinger cold. He looked back at both of them, then nodded, his eyes intense, his expression unreadable under that broad moustache. “Pamela!” He called toward the castle, and a face appeared in the window next to the door he’d just come through. “We’ll be heading downstairs. Be a dear and bring my lunch down there, and something for my guests if they want it.” He led them in through the kitchen, which turned out to have an odd mix of stone baking ovens, wood stoves, electric appliances, and some devices whose use wasn’t readily apparent. Each room they went through seemed to be like that, like the place hadn’t seen fit to abandon its rustic roots as electricity became available and technology advanced even beyond what either of them were familiar with.

The door to a great meeting room opened before them, and this was where Virgil finally settled them, at a broad, aged wooden table surrounded by much newer, comfortable looking chairs. “Food will be here shortly, if you want it. All good fare, but a bit on the simple side. We haven’t exactly built up an expansive store of food yet, but as I said, the people here know how to make the most of whatever they’re given. Lunch is usually stew.” And stew, of course, was usually finishing off last night’s supper, along with whatever else they had on hand, but the details were unimportant right now. Tossing his hat on to the table, Virgil sat down, looking seriously at the other two.

“I’ll be honest with you… I think that at some point in the future, stopping that man is going to be everyone’s business, but he may be too crafty to make it obvious who we’re working against. And I don’t rightly know if he can even be killed. There have been accounts of his death many times, but you saw him there, just as I did, Belle, alive and as malicious as ever. It’s dangerous to assume he’s incapable of anything, as much as it sickens me to admit it. He’s a sorcerer, and has some of the most powerful magics to ever rise into existence, but he understands the sciences as well. He works on a grand scale… he can pull strings from afar, orchestrate events over the course of decades, even centuries, I believe, but it’s never beyond him to play a small role when it amuses him. He loves nothing, cares for nothing, but his goals are always a mystery. He can work toward the end of all existence for a time, then spend years doing nothing but trying to corrupt the life of one seemingly pointless individual.” He considered, then shook his head. “All of it might be related, or it might not be. There’s never any way to be sure, although I’m sure that he’ll always claim that everything is part of a bigger whole. What would you have me tell you?”

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#18
@kel @mike

Steve shakes the man's hand and returns the salute. They follow as Virgil leads then through the most bizzare castle Steve had ever seen. Modern technology say side by side with ancient tools. And though Steve will be the first to admit that all modern tech looked like science fiction to him, he definitely spied some tools that looked especially futuristic amongst the clutter.

Virgil leads them to a room and invites them to sit down. The room looks like the type of room that ancient Kings would use for their war council.

Steve listens to Virgil's explanation with a thoughtful expression. Then Virgil pauses for questions.

"If he can't be killed, can he at least be locked away somewhere? Does he know about the hub? And do we know where he is now?" Steve asks. He has more questions, but these are the most pertinent for the moment.
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#19
The man got right to the point, and Virgil could appreciate that. “Well, in order, I don’t know, oh yes, and no.” Virgil hated giving less than satisfactory answers to important questions, but it was the truth. “I’ve known for a few months that he’s taken up at least an occasional presence in the Hub. Fact of the matter is, I don’t think he needs the Hub to access other worlds. There was technology on the world he was from, my adopted world, that could cross you into other places, other worlds, other times, and as long as he has some working models, he can go wherever he pleases. It might be that he can make a door from his sorcery without the technology… it would be foolish to assume he can’t. Underestimating this man is much more dangerous than overestimating him. As for what he wants…”

Virgil himself sat back in his seat. “Sit back. I think I can show you better this way.” There was a waver in all of their senses, and then it was like they were floating in darkness. “We haven’t moved, but these chairs have systems that can give us realistic experiences. It’s useful for something like this…” Around them, glowing planets, some earth and some not, began appearing. Each one slowly zoomed out to show a rough representation of its universe. “When you think about creation, you have to take into account all the worlds, in all the different versions of the universes. What happens in one can be reflected in another, and in the next, and so on.” The universes began to duplicate, each one overlapping the next somewhat, though not completely, until something of a chaotic omniverse surrounded them. “It works somewhat like a body like that. Working as a whole, each cell supports the next. Unfortunately, that means that when something goes wrong, and if you can make it go wrong in enough places…” He pointed to a few different universes, which each began erupting in fire, which spread to the next universe, which then spread to the next… “Creation can handle the death of a universe, it can counter it in other worlds around it. Some die naturally, some just… go wrong. But if you can get enough universes to die in enough places, and those changes echo into the next universes unchecked…” The chain reaction continued, the flare of dying universes spreading around them until finally, as the flames died out, they were surrounded in darkness. “That’s what he wants to do. The last one standing when creation falls is supposed to be able to be the controlling party when the next creation rises. I don’t know if that theory holds true, but I’m not inclined to let him try.”
@kel
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#20
@kel @mike

 “Well, in order, I don’t know, oh yes, and no.” 

That wasn't a lot to go on, but Steve had worked with less before. Then Virgil tells him to sit back and suddenly it feels like they are floating in inky blackness. As Virgil explains the science behind it Steve is amazed. He's never seen technology this advanced, even in Mr. Stark's lab before. He wonders if Mr. Stark's has met Virgil and seen this type of technology before.
Then Virgil starts explaining the universes and before them they begin errupting into flames. Steve watched in horror as whole universes are consumed. Billions of lives lost in a matter of moments.

When it's over Steve asks, "how many has he already destroyed? How close is he to winning?"
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