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Ari

Four Kings(IC)

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Marceau sat in the superficially-comfortable chair the airline had grudgingly shelled out for years ago. He was well-used to harsher luxuries, but something about his seat aggravated him somehow.

Despite that, the plane was well-made as far as its budget allowed, the engine worked smoothly and the navigators were dedicated to ensuring a harmless journey, so the young Frenchman could think upon his destination without great worry.

He was traveling to Morocco to see the Circle of Friends super-team, who almost two decades ago had taught him how to use his once-held powers. They wanted to see him both for old-times' sake and to help them with a case they were having difficulty with. They had said they would tell him the full details of the case upon his arrival.

Marceau put his arms behind his head and watched the clouds pass by, wondering what awaited him...

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GM

"Excuse me, is this seat taken?"

A man of indeterminate age, probably around his mid thirties, although quite possibly a decade younger or older, sat himself down by Marceau. He had slightly thin black hair, and dark skin. He was sweating profusely, despite the air conditioning, and although he looked a little odd, he didn't appear out of breath, or particularly anxious. He wore a crumpled cheap suit, dark rimmed glasses, and a fedora he quickly placed in the overhead compartment along with a small carry bag.

"Thanks" he muttered. "Ford Fector" he said, by way of introduction, a rather peculiar name. He did not offer his hand, but merely buckled in, as the plane started down the runway and took off.

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"No-" Marceau had begun when Ford had simply invited himself into the seat next to him. He didn't think much of it, probably a businessman hurrying off to another detested overseas trip. He moved over slightly and put his arms on his lap to save space.

"Marceau An-Sallah" he answered pleasantly when the other man had introduced himself. He saw the unusual phone, and decided that while the other man was odd(Ford Fector? What parent would do such a thing?), it would be terribly rude to just be quiet and make things awkward.

"Your first trip to Morocco, Mr. Fector?" he asked cheerfully, "It is for me, I'm off to see some very old friends I haven't seen in a decade or so"

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"Your first trip to Morocco, Mr. Fector?" he asked cheerfully, "It is for me, I'm off to see some very old friends I haven't seen in a decade or so"

"Yes my first, trip..." replied Fector, in a somewhat stilted tone. "I like to keep, moving"

There was something just a little odd about the intonation of his voice.

He gave a toothy smile.

"Please to, meet you Marceau. I hope you have a, good, flight!"

The plane was already at altitude, and speeding off across the Atlantic. Drinks were being served, and Fector ordered a whisky and orange juice. He promptly mixed the two together and drunk the odd concoction down in one gulp.

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"I quite agree with that sentiment, Mr. Fector. If I may ask, what brings you there? Family there?" he really didn't think that was why Ford was going to Morocco, but hey! You never knew.

For his part, he was just glad that there was someone who seemed quiet as his traveling companion. As an afterthought he added "Nice phone". He then spent the next several minutes in a cold sweat. Never having owned a cell phone himself, he had no idea if he had committed a terrible faux pas. He hoped to God he hadn't.

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GM

The trip was proceeding without incident. A rather dull B-Movie showed as inflight entertainment, followed by some equally uninspiring television show reruns.

The hours rolled by.

Ford fell asleep next to Marceau. The man barely seemed to breathe at all whilst he was sleeping. He looked almost dead to casual eyes. At one point, a stewardess shook him to check he was all right, concern shining in her eyes. He awoke quickly.

"I am, quite, fine" he replied "I just sleep, heavily that's, all" he explained, before almost instantly dropping off to his deep slumber again.

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Marceau himself nearly fell asleep, only the slight worry over what the case was that awaited him(not to mention the chance to see his relatives) kept him awake at all. Of course, the novelty of flight was there, but the meticulously-arranged distractions meant that he gave less time to the wonder of his position than he ought.

Ford's odd sleeping methods, such as his lack of evident breathing, didn't exactly trouble him, but he did begin to ponder the idea that Ford might nit be what he seemed..Bah, that's being paranoid, he's just a businessman with a weird way of speaking, nothing really odd about him

Getting ready to disembark as he saw the glorious curve of Morocco under the plane, Marceau wondered what he should do to get prepared for the rigors of investigating in the arid city he was approaching. I should get a phrase book, my Arabic is rusty...

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GM

As the plane started it's descent, there was a sudden bump. A few nervous laughs erupted from the passengers.

From the speakers came the tinny but reassuring voice of a stewardess.

"Ladies and gentlemen, please fasten your seatbelts, we are experiencing some mild turbu...

Boom!

The explosion rocked through the air plane. Oxygen masks dropped to the passengers and the temperature dropped. A howling wind ripped through the plane, a clear sign of pressure drop. Something had exploded!

The plane was still flying, but veered off to the left, rolling and pitching as the pilots struggled to keep it in the air.

"How did they find me?" gasped Ford, as he put on his oxygen mask. Curiously, the man, who previously was sweating profusely, was now quite free from sweat, despite the terrible danger they were in.

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Shocked at the sudden explosion that had struck so suddenly, the young adventurer only dimly heard Ford's calm declaration of surprise, and it was only after getting his own mask on that he started to wonder at Ford's calm in the midst of what was likely something that would kill them all.

A thousand confused questions raced through his head as he stared at the shabbily-dressed man, a suspicion beginning to grow that maybe Ford was some kind of spy. Turning to other, more important things, he began to pray for forgiveness of his sins, as he was now staring death in the face and thought it best to prepare himself to meet his Maker.

After consigning his soul to the hands of a higher power he turned to Ford and jerked his thumb outside with a puzzled look on his face, hoping the odd man would get his meaning: Who's doing that?

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GM

The plane veered and banked sharply, and smoke bellowed out of one of the wings. Where ever it was going, it wasn't going to be Morroco airport.

Ford looked outside, his face anxious, but not perspiring as he had been previously.

He did not seemed to be paying much attention to Marceau, but rather to the plane itself, and also to the rest of the passengers. He just gave a shrug to Marceau's question.

"Ladies and gentlemen..." came a voice over the speakers, a frightened, scared stewardess trying to keep it together. "...does anyone here know how to fly a plane?"

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Taking off his oxygen mask, Marceau politely excused his way into the ailse, where he waved to the flight attendant to let her know he was willing to try. Led to the cockpit by the stewardess, he sat down before the terifying array of buttons and steering devices. Taking a deep breath, he set out to try and land a damaged plane at lethal altitudes and murderous speeds.

It should be repeated that this was his first time in a plane in his entire life.

And he had certainly never flown one.

No harm in trying though, right?

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GM

"Oh thank you mister" screeched the stewardess. "I don't know what happened... the Pilot... and Co-Pilot, they are unconscious...I tried everything, but I can't rouse them. I...I...I only know the basics of flying, just took a few lessons. I can't land this thing!"

She was desperately trying to keep it together. To her credit, she was doing a fine Job, she had kept the plane in the air this time.

At Marceau's offer however, she quickly jumped away from the controls to let him take charge.

No matter what how skilled Marceau was, it was clear the plane was going down, with not a runway, or indeed a city, in sight...

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Marceau felt a sinking feeling in his stomach. She had only a basic knowledge of flying, and he was stepping up even though he knew nothing about it at all.

Horrible, I'll doom us all, and she wanted someone who could actually land these things. Great job, Marcy, you've given her alse hope, and now you'll pay the price...

So he thought as he punched whatever buttons looked likliest, pulled what seemed the appropriate levers and settled into his seat gripping the steering mechanism like he trusted it with his salvation.

Oh well, he thought, I'll do my best...However far that goes...

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GM

The plane veered left. It veered right. The ground, however, consistently veered closer.

"You do know how to fly a plane, right?" asked the pretty stewardess, who had taken the co-pilots seat and was doing her best to help.

And it seemed that Marceau was not doing a bad job despite it all. The burning, smoking airplane levelled out, its wheels popped out from the under carriage, and it hit the dusty plains of Morrocco at an acceptable speed.

Of course, it was not perfect. The tyres shredded, then buckled, and the plane collapsed onto its undercarriage, tearing up the ground beneath it as it skidded and came to an abrupt, sudden holt. Passengers and crew screamed and were thrown around the plane - Marceau and his ad hoc co-pilot being no exception. But they had landed.

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Marceau had held his tongue when the stewardess had asked about his flying experience, seeing no reason to give. Her extra cause to worry.

Besides, there was plenty to do, like desperately pressing/pulling/orienting and generally doing whatever seemed to do the best job of keeping them level. He thought he did pretty well, all things considered, and he made the fatal mistake of letting that thought guide his actions. He was a little slower to pull up than he ought, and payed for it with a blow to the sternum from the steering device. It didn't get through his armor, but it still stung. And that wasn't even taking into account the rattles, jolts and crashes as he and the flight attendant madly fought to control the direction of the downed plane, their efforts made futile by the abrupt existence failure on the part of the undercarriage.

After staggering out lf the seat, surveying the desert around them, and upbraiding himself mentally for his mistake, he turned to the stewardess and said bluntly: "Ma'am, I apologize for the deception, but I have no idea how to fly a plane. Still, we're alive as far as I can tell, so if you need to take me to court for anything that's still a possibility"

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Ma'am, I apologize for the deception, but I have no idea how to fly a plane. Still, we're alive as far as I can tell, so if you need to take me to court for anything that's still a possibility"

The stewardess, whose name tag identified her as Vanessa, ruffled her short red hair and wiped her brow.

"A fine time to tell me!" she commented. "But you handled it well enough, and we are alive, so lets leave it at that..." she smiled "frankly, the fact I can speak to you at all is more than I dared hope for"

She unbuckled herself from the seat.

"But right now, we best get off this wreck, and get our passengers to safety, clear of here. We are in the middle of who knows where, and some of them might be injured, or worse..."

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With a quick nod, Marceau helped unload the passengers and their belongings from the wrecked plane. Squinting around the desolation about them, he tried in vain to figure out where they would have to go to get to cvilization. Consoling himself with the thought that least they were expected, and a flare or three would be quite sufficient to get attention from anyone who happened to be nearby, he set about setting up a temporary camp for himself and the other passengers, including a covered space for the injured to be treated as far as the gathered skills could do.

After making whatever haphazard things could be done to get ready for the coming night, he sought out Vanessa to see what could be done about their situation in the short term, not to mention he needed to find Fector and see what he knew about the attackers. "Vanessa, Marceau Suvou, before we get down to the serious business of what to do, have you seen a man who" he described Ford in as much detail as his memory permitted "-with an odd way of speaking? I think he might know who attaked us"

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GM

"Yeah, I think I saw the guy. Funny looking guy. Crumpled suit. Sweating badly" nodded Tiffany.

"I think that is him, over there" she nodded, past the hordes of passengers. Some were quite badly hurt. At least a few broken bones, and one or two unconscious (or floating that way).

Ford Fector was gazing, unblinking at the sun, and pointing his mobile phone at it. He looked anxious, as well as one could tell from the rather odd man. His suit was even more crumpled, and it looked like the left sleeve had been torn off. The man himself looked unharmed, however.

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Bowing smoothly, Marceau declared he'd "Be right back, thanks for helping save all our lives!" and dashed off to see if he could get anything out of the odd man.

Skidding to a halt on the sands a few feet from Ford, he asked him point blank "Ford, what attacked us? Please, do you have a name? We need to know, there are people not far from here who can assemble a force that could beat down Omega himself if they needed to!"

He looked imploringly at Ford, wondering vaguely if Ford was some sort of conspriacy unraveler, and the attack was a try at keeping him from The Truth. It would make more sense(and be a little less terrifying) than facing terroists in stolen fighter jets. At least he had some experience fighting a conspiracy.

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"Ford, what attacked us? Please, do you have a name? We need to know, there are people not far from here who can assemble a force that could beat down Omega himself if they needed to!"

Ford looked distracted, to say the least. He briefly looked at Marceau, then at his mobile, which had a very strange display on it. He was mumbling to himself.

"Transmission still blocked. How did they find me... local resources? who did he send? got to get out of here..."

He looked at Marceau with desperation in his eyes. "Can you get, me out, of here I have, to get out, of here! My name is Ford, Fec,tor".

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Out of the corner of his eye, Marceau saw four passengers he recalled seeing on the plane. At the time, their black clothing and similar features hadn't sruck him as odd, but now he very greatly doubted they were up to any good.

To Ford, he said quickly "We'll sort this out in a moment, just let me take care of these fine fellows" he then turned to face the four men in black.

"My friends" Marceau said genially, "Please return to the plane. If you want to know who attacked us I will gladly tell you what I find out in due time. However, i think you're part of what downed the plane; I don't know but I suspect you aren't regular passengers. State your busniess with this man Fector, or I shall happily smash the answer from your bodies" he took up a fighting stance, signalling Fector to get behind him.

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GM

"Ha, ha ha, ha" laughed the man facing Marceau, in the same stilted, odd intonation as Ford.

He reached into his jacket and drew out a strange little pistol, a sleek grey thing, something of very peculiar design.

"You wont be, doing that earth, ling. This traitor is marked for, death, and you won't be, stopping us any, time soon!"

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Lunging forward, Marceau swung his left fist into the hand of the closest alien(for now he knew them fully to be!), knocking their pistol into the air. Catching it as he jumped backwards, he pointed it fully at the one who had spoken, declaring furiously "You've got another thing coming, pal! If you want to enforce your laws, take it to our courts, try to commit a murder on our watch and face the Defenders of Earth! Prepare yourselves for battle!"

He knew that he couldn't hope to beat them all with just one of their weird guns, but he wasn't about to lie down and let them get away with attempting to kill an entire plan full of passengers!

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GM

The man facing Marceau looked shocked.

"Wha....?" he mumbled, before reaching out to try and reclaim his weapon. He was far to slow for the lightning reflexes of the King of Suits, however.

"Get, him!" he shouted at his three fellow assassins, who promptly took aim and fired three bolts of purple energy at Marceau. They may not have been crack shots, but neither were they poor aims. They got close, and Marceau could feel the crackling energy fly past a hairs breadth from his face.

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Drawing backward for the briefest of moments, Marceau kicked off of the sand, flying towards the alien he had just disarmed. Curling his fingers around the strange, lumpy pistol, he struck the creature in black with all the force he could muster, his fist strengthened by the core of metal he gripped.

The blow struck true, and one of the beings crashed onto the reddening sands, a crisp wind blowing a faint plume of the grit into the air nearby. Retreating neatly, Marceau once again positioned himself between the aliens and Ford. "Come on!" he snapped "Either leave immediately and settle your dispute in our courts or join your comrade!"

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