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32.69% Reality Warping in Marvel (A Crooked Man) / Chapter 17: Chapter 17

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Chapter 17: Chapter 17

Ben Urich is basically the Lois Lane of the various Marvel universes, if Lois Lane was a middle-aged man with prematurely grey hair, a reporter with a nearly flawless ethical record, even when it's to his own detriment, such as his discovery of Daredevil's real identity which he refused to reveal both with Jameson screaming bloody murder at him, and the FBI putting pressure on him. His one misstep, as far as I can remember anyway, was that he had discovered some of Tony Stark's dirty dealings during the Civil War, and had simply kept them to himself rather than risking the fragile peace afterwards. Well, I'm not here to discuss morality with the guy, that's up to him and his own conscience.

I AM here to try and get him to give up the information and use it myself. Well, I'll give it to Jen and have her use it, yay justice and all but I'd rather chop off my own fingers than spend more time in court than I have to.

The offices of Front Line, the independent newspaper Urich and Sally Floyd started during the aftermath of the Civil War, is pretty small but bustling with activity nontheless, far more so than I'd expect from an indie paper during the death throws of print media. The various reporters and writers are so busy with whatever stories they're working on that no one even notices when I pop out of thin air in front of the reception desk, where a harried-looking secretary is talking into a headset while writing something on a laptop.

"-no, sorry, the meeting has been pushed up. Mr. Urich wants space for an article on the mutant resurgence in-"

I wait for a moment, but the call doesn't seem to be winding down anytime soon, so I clear my throat. No reaction. I clear my throat again. Nothing. Okay, screw this.

The secretary blinks, tapping at the headset when her call suddenly disconnects for no apparent reason, then happens to glance up at me, doing a doubletake before she seems to register that I'm standing there. "...can I help you, sir?"

"Yeah, I'm here to see Mr. Urich?"

She begins tapping on the computer "Do you have an appointment, Mr...?"

"Oh, just Ginnungagap. It's a mononym, like Cher!"

She stops typing and gives me a second look. My picture IS out there, but apparently not spread around enough for people to just recognize me on sight, which is weird because even before I had powers I stood out in a crowd atleast a bit. "Sir, we're very busy here, we don't have time for people coming up here just to pull some stupid prank. Please leave, or I'll call security."

I sigh and point at the cheap Bic pen lying on the desk next to her coffee cup, and suddenly the pen transforms into a small grey snake that quickly slithers away into the clutter of papers nearby. The woman shrieks and pushes herself backwards, knocking the cup off the desk in the process and shattering it against the floor, splattering coffee across the carpet. All activity in the office stops at the noise, and I hear several gasps and one muffled "oh shit" as several of the other workers recognize me.

I hold my hand out and the shattered cup rebuilds itself in my palm, before refilling itself with the coffee, and even reheats itself before I place it back in front of the secretary who looks close to panicking.

"Now, if we have all the theatrics out of the way, could you maybe check if Mr. Urich has time to see me today?"

.....

Urich turns out to be out chasing leads on some project he's working on, but one phonecall later has him hurrying back to the office as fast as New York traffic allows. In the meantime, I'm shown to a corner of the office they've cordoned off from everything else and turned into a makeshift lounge with a few chairs, a table and a vending machine. A kid who can't even be out of college yet walks up as I study the selection of sodas in the machine.

"S-so, can I g-get you anything, sir? C-coffee maybe?"

I shake my head "No, no, I got it." A can of Coke disappears from the vending machine and reappears in my hand, making Obvious Intern squeak in surprise. "I suggest you might want to cut back on coffee yourself kid, your eyes look like they're about to pop out of their sockets."

He seems unsure if I mean that as a joke or as a threat, and quickly backs away, almost tripping over an extension cord on the way, and that pretty much sets the tone for the rest of my wait. Office activity drops off as everyone is busy gawking at me or taking pictures with their phones while desperatly trying to look like they're not doing either of those things. Eventually I get bored and just start showing off, warping around my now-empty soda can in the air and morphing it into different objects just for kicks. A banana, a set of chattering joke teeth, one of Osborns pumpkin bombs, a gold bar, pretty much any random thing that pops into my head. The reality warper equivalent of doodling in the margins of your homework.

Finally, a grey-haired man dressed in an old trenchcoat over a rumpled business suit stumbles in through the doors, opening his mouth to ask the secretary something, only to notice me sitting over in the corner. I give him a cheerful wave.

Urich blinks, then straightens up and nods at me "Ginnungagap. I understand you wished to speak with me? Would you like to step into my office, please?"

"Of course, Mr Urich. Lead the way" I toss the can, which I leave in the last shape I switched it to, a silver pocketwatch, on the table before I follow Urich through the door into his private office.

...

The room is even smaller than I expected, and the mess of papers and books everywhere doesn't help, but it's not the worst I've seen. Urich steps behind his desk and sits down, indicating for me to sit down in one of the two chairs in front of it.

"I'm sorry for the wait, New York doesn't stop because one is in a hurry."

I sit down "It's alright, if it had been an emergency I coouuuuld..." I trail off as I realize something and I close my eyes and sigh at my own stupidity "...I could just have teleported you right back here. Which I only just now realized I could have done. Sorry."

He doesn't seem sure how to respond to that "...d-don't worry about it. I'm afraid I wasn't informed exactly why you wanted to meet with me..."

Alright, showtime "To be perfectly straight, Mr. Urich, it's about your time as an embedded reporter with Iron Man's pro-registration faction."

Urich stiffens, trying desperatly not to show it "My work with Tony Stark and the SRA are a matter of public record, I'm not sure why you require my personal help with the issue. If it's references you need-"

"Mr. Urich, I know for a fact that you uncovered more during your investigation than you ever revealed to the public, information that incriminate Tony Stark in all manner of illegal activities he undertook to bolster support for the SRA. I'm here to ask you to release those records to an associate of mine to be used in legal proceedings."

"What exactly are you accusing me of?" His face is blank, but I can tell he's trying to supress his own nerves.

"Nothing, because you haven't committed a crime and even if you had, I'm not a police officer or even a superhero. At most you've committed a mild ethical breach out of misplaced loyalty. I'm simply here to ask you to rethink your decision."

Urich doesn't answer for a moment, turning around in his chair to look out the window "While I admit to nothing, hypothetically speaking, if I did have these records, why would you need my help? From what I understand, you're powerful enough to simply conjure them up out of nothing!"

"Because something like this requires validity, I need the records to actually come from you. If I just take them, all the courts need to do is ask if you gave them to me, and the whole case goes out the window. I'm not even the one in charge of this, I'm just the middle man, I'm not stepping inside a court room at all if I can avoid it."

Turning his chair back around, Urich studies me "Again, why are you even bothering with this? If you're so certain Tony Stark is guilty, you could just turn him to stone if you wanted to, why go through all these extra hoops?"

"Because I want Stark ruined for what he's done. Because the man is a traitor in every sense of the word, and just going Old Testament on him isn't enough, I want his name to be synonymous with dirt like it deserves. I COULD probably do that by myself, but I'm not the only person with a stake in this, and they would rather the courts handle it. If the system fails... well, we'll see what happens."

Urichs next question is interupted by a muffled cracking sound, followed by something bouncing off the spot between my eyes and down into my lap. I blink, looking at the small hole that has suddenly appeared in the window behind Urich, and then down at the round object in my lap.

Urich looks around in confusion "What the hell was that?"

I hold up the small, squashed metal slug that just crushed itself against my skull "Thaaaaat would be someone trying to blow my brains out with an adamantium bullet from the other side of the street."


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