Captain America: Secret War (THIRTY-EIGHT)

The Hunter had been summoned to see Secretary Ross. Apparently, Steve Rogers, Sam Wilson, Natasha Romanoff, and Wanda Maximoff had been sighted in New York City stopping a group of HYDRA terrorists threatening to blow up a few buildings and kill thousands.

He knew what Secretary Ross wanted him to do. Find the fugitives and capture them, dead or alive, but that wasn’t The Hunter’s agenda. Not after what had just transpired; a strange bald woman in yellow had appeared before him and told him of this mind-boggling thing that had happened involving herself, the fugitives, and, surprisingly, him. When he confronted her with the prospect that she was lying she simply smiled, telling him things about himself that only he knew to be true.

It was then that he realized this wasn’t a fancy prank.

Now, as he entered the room where Secretary Ross’s temples seemed as if they were ready to bulge out of his head, a small smile came to his lips.

The officers gazed at him with wide eyes. Yes, he looked intimidating, but he really was a nice guy if people got the chance to know him. Secretary Ross seemed pleased upon seeing him.

“You have a mission for me, sir?” he asked.

Ross’s smile became even smugger. “Yes. Yes, I do.” He seemed about to explain to the officers who he was when The Hunter interjected.

“Is the mission to hunt down the fugitives?”

Ross looked at him with wary surprise. “Yes…”

“I won’t do it,” The Hunter said.

The secretary looked as if he couldn’t believe what he had just heard. “What?!”

“I said I will not hunt for the fugitives. They are not doing anything wrong and while I may be a bounty hunter I am not devoid of sense. These are heroes whose only goal is to save the world. How can I take these people away when they are helping keep our friends and families safe?”

Secretary Ross jumped to his feet. “You dare defy me!”

“Yes, Secretary. I’m defying.”

He dropped his Deputy Task Force clearance card on the table. “Call it my resignation.”

With that, he turned around and left the room. On to new missions, he would go where true villains needed to be stopped. Not people as good as the heroes Secretary Ross wanted to see behind bars.

And for the first time in a long time, a genuine smile came to his face.

Nakia was in a training room in the Wakandan palace, taking down simulated bad guys with ease simply with her martial arts, when suddenly she heard the door open. She looked to see T’Challa standing at the door. His Black Panther suit was on for some reason. Her eyebrows furrowed.

“Is something wrong?” she asked.

He didn’t respond. Instead, he ran toward her, picking her up in his arms and spinning her around. She laughed, taken aback by his sudden joy. When he let her down he kissed her hard enough to knock the breath from her. When he stopped the embrace she chuckled.

“Oh T’Challa, where did all of this come from?”

“I’m just so happy to see you,” he told her.

She smiled. “Well, I’m happy to see you too, T’Challa.”

And she kissed him to emphasize her point.

The Ancient One was sitting in a room with Mordo, drinking tea and conversating about nothing in particular. Just the beauty of the trees or the difficulty of certain spells or, on a grimmer note, the trouble her former pupil Kaecilius could bring to the temple or the sanctums.

“You can bet he’s preparing for his next attack and when he does we must be ready,” Mordo said.

The Ancient One smiled. “We will, Mordo. In fact,” her gaze tilted to look at the ceiling, “our fate may change quicker than you’ve anticipated.” Her smile widened. “He’s here.”

Mordo’s eyebrows creased. “Who?”

“You’ll see. Go out into the city. You will know who I’m talking about when you see him.”

Mordo nodded. “As you wish.”

As he stood and left the room The Ancient One’s eyes closed and in her inner eye she could see him reaching Kathmandu, an aura of determination surrounding him. If he passed her test he would be her newest pupil.

“Doctor Strange.”

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