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Not-so Random Musings

24th September, 2013. 12:05 am. Ideas for the MCU




Three ideas for expanding the Marvel Cinematic Universe that will not let me sleep until I've written them down for posterity.


1) Ready, AIM, fire!

Just because their boss bought it in Iron Man 3 doesn't mean the Advanced Ideas Mechanics is dead, far from it in fact. Being forced underground following their exposure as something less than legal could be the catalyst for their transformation into the bee-keeping bunch of evil super-scientists we all know and love. Heck, with a decent PR man (and that does seem to be their speciality), they could remain overtly active and in the pay of the government(s), much to Tony Stark's disgust. With all the technology lying around from the various battles the superheroes have been involved in (Chitari weapons, Hammer drones, even bits of the Iron Monger), they could corner the market in cobbled together exotic tech – just what twitchy global powers would want as the superhuman revolution gets under way.

And hey, they'd make great recurring foes for Phil Coulson and co.

2) Van Dyne Particles

With Hank Pym nowhere to be seen in Avengers 2, here's an idea: move the shrinking technology over to the Wasp. Have Janet Van Dyne be the brilliant physicist who invents a way to make people shrink to the size of ants and grow to the size of skyscrapers. In one fell swoop, you can bring in another strong, smart female hero, torpedo the Wasp's dizzier portrayals (I'm looking at you, EMH) and remove any need to involve Hank How-Can-I-End-The-World-This-Week? Pym in anything, ever.

This would work especially well since the size-shift technology would involve the kinds of complex quantum physics that you can only understand while standing on your head after several pints and a whisky chaser, so even Bruce Banner would be let behind when Janet explains it. That way, you have someone who can deal with the very strange things they come across (like wormholes) and you don't have to make Tony or Bruce into omni-disciplinarians.

Janet would also be a nice contrast if she really wanted to be a party girl but didn't have either the time or the ability to stop doing equations in her head, a sort of half-way point between Tony's effortless playboy lifestyle/act and Bruce's self-imposed isolation. There would be no need to lose the more extrovert parts of her personality: they would just be tempered by the effort involved in getting the science to work.

3) Strange Tales

Doctor Strange should be played as a man using cold arrogance to hide from the fact he cannot save everyone. His single-minded obsession to restore the use of his hands should stem from the burning conviction that his entire life is bound up with his skill as a surgeon and that he is nothing without it: if he cannot save some people, some of the time, he is nothing. In his travels, this hubris is shattered and he comes to realise that that world is bigger than that and requires more of him than he has been willing to give. He needs to open up and accept the slings and arrows, not hide from them.

When Mordo betrays the Ancient One, have him wounds his teacher – and have Strange be the one who rushes to the old man's side to staunch the bleeding. Strange's first impulse, however high he tries to hold himself above it, is to rush in and help. So, while the other students (Wong etc) fight off Mordo's demons, it is Strange who tries to save the teacher, and Strange who receives the trappings of the Sorcerer Supreme. The Ancient One is too weak to open the Eye of Agamotto and so uses his power to move himself and Strange outside time to a place where he can teach the surgeon how to be a sorcerer, how to be the sorcerer. Not only does this negate the 'Mighty Whitey' aspects of the origin by making Strange's selection a result of chance and his good impulses, it also leaves it open whether it was destiny or luck that means he takes the Ancient One's place.

Once he has done his part in driving off Mordo's forces, Strange is left in the odd position of being Sorcerer Supreme with the training wheels on. He needs Wong and the others to teach him the complexities of magic that the Ancient One did not have time to impart, thus setting up a reason to keep an expanded cast around and not just casually dismiss everyone else who trained under the old master. The Sanctum Sanctorum could be quite crowded, or at least full of comings and goings and the constant exchange of knowledge – the very keystone of magic.

Also, Dormamu should posses people as a burning light that blazes from their eyes and mouths and slowly burns them up from the inside out. Not only would this be
incredibly disturbing, it would make him look distinct from Ghost Rider.

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27th December, 2012. 2:48 pm. Transformers: This Is How It All Began: 2.16: Ignition

This Is How It All Began
A Story From Before the Great War
Act 2: The Last Days
2.16: Ignition
Defence Directorate Command Platform
Primon Flats
Cybertron


Optrion marched quickly through the access corridor, the alarms that had pulled him from shut-down still ringing in his head. Running feet echoed around the temporary structure, technicians and soldiers alike startled from their rest by the call to duty stations.

He spied Bentwing emerging from a side door and headed to intercept him. The blue flyer glanced down at him and nodded, expression puzzled. “Any idea what this is all about?”
“No more than you, I'm afraid.”
“Better get in there and find out then.” Wings twitching with anticipation, Bentwing led the way to the briefing chamber.

They found a dozen officers and adjutants crowded in front of the main displays, keeping only a little way back from Megatron and Vieuxuun. All optics were locked on the holo-screens which, absurdly, were flooded with news-feeds. Only the heavily annotated maps of the Vos/Tarn border remained at military spec – the rest was given over to an endless stream of images, from the Celestial Temple in Iacon to the slums of Tagen. Most prominent, however, were pictures streaming from the Vosian Palace of Law and the Tarnian capital building.
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22nd December, 2012. 12:03 am. Transformers: This Is How It All Began: 2.15: Point of No Return

This Is How It All Began
A Story From Before the Great War
Act 2: The Last Days

2.15: Point of No Return
Sub Level Warehouse Sixty-Seven
South Merchant District
Praxus
Cybertron


That wasn't the end of it, of course.

There were the Praxian guardsmechs to brief, the crime scene to secure, the evidence to catalogue, the property damage to access, and many, many reports to file. Diatrion spent the best part of two hecta-cycles repeating himself in increasing detail to a group of very eager investigators who he suspected were slightly over-compensating for only being involved in the case right at the end.

Then the Magnus arrived.

The shuttle landed while Diatrion was being checked over by a med-tech. He was quite relieved for the interruption – the stocky feme treating him had turned out to be a devout neo-Tractist, who took the opportunity to give him a stern lecture on how the sanctity of life as enshrined in the First Covenant explicitly forbid deliberately endangering that life and how, consequently, his recklessness when it came to his own was an affront to Primus and an insult against his hallowed ancestors. The slim constable sent to inform them that the Magnus wanted to see Diatrion immediately could not have been more welcome if he had been carrying a whole barrel of premium tetra-helix.

Diatrion's relief at escaping the audio-bashing lasted roughly as long as it took to emerge from the temporarily medical platform and see the blue and red figure towering over the crowd of guardsmechs outside.

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11th December, 2012. 7:28 pm. Transformers: This Is How It All Began: 2.14: Case Closed

This Is How It All Began
A Story From Before the Great War
Act 2: The Last Days
2.14: Case Closed
Sub Level Warehouse Sixty-Seven
South Merchant District
Praxus
Cybertron


The warehouse was, like any warehouse, a maze of stacked crates and containers. Plunging down through the district's sub structure, it resembled more than anything else a city in miniature, with streets and towers and platforms spread across a hundred different levels, most of them in darkness. The sheer volume and variety of materials held there made it impossible to scan properly, and searching manually would have taken days.

As Nightbeat had made clear with excruciating thoroughness on the drive over, they did not have days.

“We should have called in the Praxus Guardsmechs,” Diatrion insisted for the third time as he moved cautiously along the surface-level gantries. He had his gun drawn but uncharged. That would delay firing by several micro-cycles, but would hopefully also help prevent their targets detecting him before he was in position.
“We could also have had the Lor-Galun Choir announce our arrival with a full ceremonial chant,” Nightbeat beamed from somewhere on the other side of the chamber. He had produced his own gun when they arrived, a bulky weapon that looked far more dangerous than it actually was.
“Two of us can't cover every exit in this place,” Diatrion shot back.
“We don't have to, we just have to cover the exit they go for.”
“Which you can 'extrapolate' already, naturally.”

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4th December, 2012. 10:21 pm. Transformers: This Is How It All Began: 2.13: The Brink of Victory

This Is How It All Began
A Story From Before the Great War
Act 2: The Last Days
2.13: The Brink of Victory
Emirate Xaaron's Suite
The Celestial Temple
Iacon
Cybertron


“We are acting in good faith and with all due deference to the Inter-State Accords. We haven't done anything wrong in offering our assistance to the people of Simfur, and I am getting tired of repeating this.” Haccano's face-plates shifted in annoyance and he thumped the edge of Xaaron's desk for emphasis. “I would have thought that protecting innocent civilians would be something even the Council could agree on.”
“And if the Council was convinced that that was what Tarn was doing, they probably would.” Xaaron shrugged. “Would you accept troops in Simfur if it was Vos putting them there?”
Annoyance became anger. “That is an unjustified comparison. Vos' unscrupulousness has been more than adequately demonstrated by its response to the Mahlex disaster. We, on the other hand, have never behaved with anything less than total honesty with our neighbours.”

“I know. That's what's so worrying.” Resting his chin on folded hands, Xaaron frowned thoughtfully. “You must understand that doing this will only aggravate your relations with Vos. And I find it hard to believe that is what you really want.”
“We have never been the aggressor!” Haccano drove a fist into an open palm. “Vos has tried to undermine Tarn since we were established as a city-state. They have only intensified their efforts now that the Logical Revolution has proven a success.”
“And Vos would argue that Tarn is overtly threatening their borders with its extravagant military investment, that its obsessive monitoring of its citizens is the sign of a dangerously oppressive autocracy, and that by moving troops into Simfur it has simply revealed the expansionism that lies at the heart of Viilon's regime. I suspect everyone on the Council knows this argument by rote – look, I did not ask you hear so we could exchange official rants.”

With a gesture, Xaaron cut his desk's recording system, then made a show of closing down his in-built third-party recorders. He looked pointedly at Haacono. The big Tarnian scowled, then shut off his own documentation units. They stared at each other in silence for a moment.

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30th October, 2012. 8:00 pm. Transformers: This Is How It All Began: 2.12: Confessions

This Is How It All Began
A Story From Before the Great War
Act 2: The Last Days
2.12: Confessions
The Underground
Inner City
Praxus
Cybertron


“This is how it's going to go. You are going to tell me everything. You are going to tell me what Konntryn was doing. You are going to tell me how you found out. You are going to tell me how much detail you got. You are going to tell me who you sold it to.” Nightbeat shifted his balance, pressing his foot down ever so slightly harder. “And you are going to tell me quickly.”

Almost as if it had been perfectly timed to underline his point (it was two micro-cycles late) a train hurtled past on the opposite track. The shock wave from its passing broke over the two of them, making the grey racer – better known to his friends/enemies/creditors as Hardrive – flinch and squirm. Nightbeat's foot was unrelenting. As were the heavy binders he had fastened around Hardrive's arms and legs.

The bound mech's struggles died away with the echoes of the train's engines. He stared up at his captor with wide blue optics. “I don't know what you're talking about!”

The predictability of the response brought out Nightbeat's sadistic tendencies. “Sure you don't,” he growled, digging his heel in, “That's why you tried to attack me in the bar when I accused you of being a blackmailer in league with murderers. Look, I'm in a bit of a hurry here. I don't have time for the usual 'don't know what you mean officer' routines. And you –” He grinned. “You really don't have time for it.”
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21st September, 2012. 3:21 pm. Transformers: This Is How It All Began: 2.11: Night Scene

This Is How It All Began
A Story From Before the Great War
Act 2: The Last Days

2.11: Night Scene

Racetracks Precision Bodywork

The East Merchant District

Praxus

Cybertron

They always said rain was unlucky.

It was very unusual for it to reach Praxus, or any of the northern Lakatera cities. Only once in a long while would the clouds rising above the Iron Sea travel so far. Most often, they would break over Polyhex or be driven west toward Kalis or Prodium. It was rare indeed for the wind to herd them up from the south and pile them menacingly in the sky over the East Ridge.

When it did, anyone sensible huddled inside. Even if the rain was light, it still caused disruption and discomfort, leaving roads slick and joints sodden. When it was heavy, travel in the open became near impossible and it was not uncommon for people to wind up in need of a medic. Some lost control on the expressways and ended up with their bumpers bumped. Some had to deal with short-circuiting systems, rust-rashes and a dozen other maladies that got inside you and wrecked you from within. Some…well, the worst storms had left memorials in their wake.

So rain was unlucky. Over time, that short hand for all the things it caused had mutated. It wasn’t just, ‘rain is unlucky because of the consequences,’ it was, ‘rain brings bad luck.’

Rain brings bad luck.


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21st August, 2012. 1:08 pm. Transformers: This Is How It All Began: 2.10: Foreign Affairs

This Is How It All Began
A Story From Before the Great War
Act 2: The Last Days

2.10: Foreign Affairs

The Celestial Temple

Iacon

Cybertron

The ring of Council seats felt uncomfortably empty with only the three of them sitting there. It was, Xaaron thought, uncomfortably close to being a private court, a triumvirate of self-appointed arbitrators ready to dispense arbitrary justice. Even the Prime was absent, his throne looming empty behind them. There was just the three of them – Iacon, Nova Cronum and Vos.

And the one they were there to pass judgement upon.

I formally request asylum,” Aetalon said, a tremor in her voice, “on behalf of myself and the remaining members of the Simfur government.” She looked from Traachon to Xaaron to Graviitus, eye widening and narrowing. “We fear for our lives if we do not find some protection from the malcontents who have instigated mob rule in our city. They will kill us if they get their hands on us.”

Silence. The sort of silence you get when no one wants to be the first to speak.

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25th July, 2012. 11:13 pm. Transformers: This Is How It All Began: 2.9: Public Image

This Is How It All Began
A Story From Before the Great War
Act 2: The Last Days

2.9: Public Image

Main Conference Room

The Palace of Law

Vos
Cybertron

Come now, surely it is but a small consideration given the benefits that Tagan will see?” Sarristec put on his most winning smile. “Benefits your citizens surely deserve.”

And more importantly, he added silently, benefits your citizens are getting ready to rip from your rusting carcases, you bunch of slack-witted cretins. And if you’ve looked across at Simfur lately, you’ll know where that leads. Clearly thinking similar thoughts, the Tagan ambassador shifted uncomfortably on his perch and flicked at the air with crimson wings. “Small considerations have a habit of leading to large concessions, Lord Sarristec.” The avir angled his head sharply to the left. “We appreciate that your proposed conditions are relatively generous. We are not, however, willing to prejudice our city’s future security for the sake of the Conclave’s ambitions.”

Sarristec lent back, expression cooling. “I’m sure your people will understand your reluctance to commit yourselves to a course of action you deem imprudent. I feel it only fair to warn you, however,” he went on before the ambassador had a chance to respond, “that while we would like to extend our help to all those suffering from the loss of Tarnian-sourced fuel supplies, we realise that this is not a realistic goal. At some point, we will simply be unable to assist any more cities. Given the vital role that Tagan plays in this region’s economic life, we would hate for it to fall the wrong side of that point.”

Lord Sarristec…” The ambassador drew his wings about him and looked down his beak. “You appear to be under the mistaken impression that Vos is the only state willing and able to replace our energy needs until Tarn is able to restore its export facilities. We have already received several offers, most of which do not involve any ‘considerations’, small or large.”


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6th July, 2012. 8:52 pm. Transformers: This Is How It All Began: 2.8: Fire-fighting

This Is How It All Began
A Story From Before the Great War
Act 2: The Last Days

2.8: Fire-fighting

Underground Bunker

Qosho Region

Cybertron

The rumbler charge shattered the bunker’s roof in two-point-oh-four micro-cycles. The shockwave drove the resulting dust down into the chamber below, filling it with a thick metallic fog that smothered everything in an instant. Three anarchists gave themselves away at once by crying out and were tagged with disruptor claws. They collapsed in agony, twisting and morphing uncontrollably as the claws overrode their primary transformation relays.

Optrion’s combat subroutines were picking out fresh targets before his feet touched the floor, the variation of the fog's the content and density and the hum of burning energon providing more than enough data to map the room and everyone in it. Already thrown by the explosion and with their less sophisticated sensory systems struggling to adjust to the abrupt environmental shift, the terrorists were overwhelmed in moments. Those who managed to fire back did so with little accuracy and only scored hits by virtue of the confined space, and even then, military grade armour was more than a match for their limited arsenal.

The egress point secure, Optrion led the way deeper into the base, pausing at the first junction to allow Ironhide to scout ahead. A rocket burst against the red mech’s reinforced shoulders, shrapnel ricocheting across the passageway. While his lieutenant’s vision cleared, Optrion darted into the open and fired twice past his knee. The defender gave a short, sharp yell as the unexpected angle allowed the suppressor rounds to enter his body through his hip joint. A blaze of electricity and he crashed to the ground, smouldering and unconscious.

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