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Saladin Ahmed (writer), Eric Nguyen (artist), Rico Renzi (colorist), Virtual Calligraphy's Clayton Cowles (letterer), Martin Simmonds (cover artist), Carlos Lao (graphic designer), Alanna Smith (editor), Tom Brevoort (executive editor), CB Cebulski (editor-in-chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)
Quicksilver created by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby
Pietro Maximoff a.k.a. Quicksilver is the fastest man in the world – but now, everything depends on him slowing himself down. He glances nervously side to side, he knows he is not very good at slowing down, trying to use his calm as a weapon. He breathes in, and out, in, and out, as countless energy creatures race towards him, and engulf him in a blur of brilliance. He pushes away the thought that he will die here, the thought that he must do something. He pushes away all thought and he breathes – and somehow, impossibly, it works. It hurts the energy creatures. But he barely notices, and every time his thoughts start to wander to the creatures, he brings them back to breathing. Quicksilver is calm, and present, and in control of his own breath – and that kills these monsters that look like him. A wave of calmness spreads, and Quicksilver gets to his feet, 'Is that all of them, then?' he asks. 'Alone at last' he remarks when he gets no response, until, suddenly, a voice calls out 'Not quite, jackass'.
Pietro looks up, to see a colorless version of himself, wearing his purple and white costume with the “fast forward” symbol on his chest. 'After all, I'm here' the colorless Quicksilver grins. 'I... ah.... who the hell are you? You can speak?' Quicksilver utters. 'Yes, genius' the other Quicksilver responds, boasting that he can speak. 'Really impressive watching that lightning-quick brain in action'. Pietro asks the colorless version of himself if he is one of them, one of the monsters he has been fighting. 'Monsters? Where do you get off calling other people monsters?' the colorless Quicksilver asks, before revealing that they lived here, between moments, hungering – they didn't have their own selves, they were just a force that needed to feed. 'Then you came. We learned how to take shape from you. Mouths that can snarl. Hands that can strangle. Angry thoughts. We copied you, Pietro. And we became something. We tried to feed on the people we found in your mind' the colorless Quicksilver announces.
The colorless Quicksilver continues: 'But you found a way to force us out of our forms. Now I am the last. I wear a shape you gave me. I think your thoughts. I've even learned to use hard words like you' the creature explains, smiling as he declares 'I have to say, Pietro – you are one pathetic piece of $#%&'. The colorless Quicksilver tells Pietro that he is too selfish to be a real hero, and too soft to be a villain – so it is no wonder no one likes him. 'Will you please shut up!?' Quicksilver shouts as he speeds over to his doppelganger, attempting to punch him, but the colorless Quicksilver steps aside, and swipes Pietro with a punch, his fist connecting with Pietro's face. 'The truth... hurts... doesn't it?' the colorless Quicksilver asks as he delivers several more punches. But Quicksilver doesn't give up, 'Are you some kind of illusion?' Pietro asks as he speeds along the ridgeline, his doppelganger keeping pace. 'Are you?' the doppelganger asks.
'Leave me alone!' Quicksilver exclaims as the colorless doppelganger slams a fist into Pietro's face, knocking him backwards and telling Pietro that he can't do that, and that Pietro of all people should know that. 'Maybe if you weren't such a jerk, we wouldn't have found something to latch onto. I bet this never happens to Captain America' the colorless Quicksilver mocks, before announcing that this is boring, and that he has spent long enough in between times, and is ready to kill people in living color. The colorless Quicksilver then speeds away, 'It's time to get real!' he shouts as he breaks through the in-between time, and into reality, with Pietro racing after him, 'What the – oh no you don't!' Pietro calls out.
'The real world. The present time. So this is what it looks like!' the colorless Quicksilver grins as he looks at his new surroundings, while civilians gaze at him in shock. 'You – you brought us back. How?' Pietro asks, confused, looking around. 'We brought us back. You thought it would be your love that saved you? Or your hope?' the colorless Quicksilver asks. 'You stupid %$#&. I'm here because the only thing within you strong enough to break through was your rage' he adds. 'Anger. Impatience. They're who you are, Pietro. They make you strong when you're not whining. They made me'. The colorless Quicksilver then announces that he is going to kill a lot of people. 'Let's see if you can stop me' he exclaims as he speeds off.
Pietro follows – his doppelganger's words cut deep. Pietro realizes that he is not an impostor, not even a doppelganger – he simply is him. The me he refuses to see when he looks in the mirror. The colorless Quicksilver knocks two civilians aside as he runs past them. Pietro thinks to himself that whatever the force is that lives between moments, it latched onto something that was already there. 'Got you, you $#%&!' Pietro exclaims as he grabs his other self. He has been trying to get home for so long, now the colors and sounds of home overwhelm him, the city drowns his senses. The colorless Quicksilver punches back, while a fire engine races by, sirens blaring. 'What's the matter, loser? Are you wimping out?' the colorless Quicksilver asks as he slams Pietro to the ground. There is too much noise for Pietro, too many people – and it makes him angry. 'And my face looks like his' Pietro thinks to himself.
But, then he hears something – and looks over to see an old man playing the saxophone, “The Girl from Ipanema”. Pietro loves that song, and decides the saxophonist is pretty good. Pietro looks past his opponent and he sees talented kids dancing, moving, not frozen. He smells shawarma and realizes that he is starving. He remembers how much he loves shawarma. The colorless Quicksilver realizes Pietro's attention has turned away from him and reminds him that they are supposed to be fighting here. 'Come on, Pee-etro. Rip my throat out!' he exclaims. Some youths are watching the fight: 'Holee – it's that Avenger – the fast one!' one of them exclaims. 'Quicksilver' one of the youths remarks, before asking who the other guy is. 'Dunno, his brother, maybe?' the other youth asks. Pietro remembers that he might look like this raging monster sometimes, but he is not him. He remembers that, at his best, he has been something better than this, and tells himself that he could be something better again.
'You don't want to fight? Fine then' the colorless Quicksilver mutters, before announcing that he will just go kill their sister, and speeds away. Pietro thinks to himself that every day of his life, this hurt inside him has made him as angry as this colorless creature, it has given him a kind of strength. 'Oh, Waaaaanda... I'm hoooome!' the other Quicksilver shouts as he arrives at Avengers Mansion, with Pietro hot on his heels, realizing that this thing is indeed his reflection, and like him, it draws its power from being hurt. It uses pain to cause pain, and Pietro knows that there is only one way, then, to stop it from hurting anyone else. 'Pietro! I was hoping you'd -' the colorless Quicksilver remarks as Pietro speeds towards him – then puts his hand on the colorless Quicksilver's shoulder. 'Wait, what are you – don't touch me!' the colorless Quicksilver exclaims, trying to brush Pietro away. It's hard, isn't it? Living in this world. Getting through each day. It is just so. Damn. Difficult'. Pietro tells his other self that they have been hurt so much, and that he knows where this other Quicksilver comes from – he understands.
'But you don't belong here. You have to go' Pietro tells his other self. 'Go? But Pietro... I can't go – I'm a part of you -' the colorless Quicksilver replies, as he begins to dissolve, while Pietro looks at him calmly, until his other self vanishes completely.
'Pietro! You're alive!' Wanda Maximoff the Scarlet Witch exclaims as she, Captain America, Iron Man and Doctor Voodoo rush towards Pietro. 'Wanda? Am I really free?' Pietro responds. Cap looks at Pietro and tells him that Wanda explained the situation as best she could, and that they are glad he is back. 'She didn't explain much. What the hell happened here, Pietro?' Iron Man asks. Cap tells Iron Man that they can sort this out later, but right now, Quicksilver has earned some rest. Quicksilver looks at the Avengers and, calling them friends, tells them that he is sorry about so much.
'Sorry? I caught a glimpse of what was happening in that in-between world. You saved our lives, Pietro' Doctor Voodoo points out, putting a hand on Pietro's shoulder. Pietro looks at Doctor Voodoo and thanks him. Edwin Jarvis approaches Quicksilver and tells him that it is good to have him back. 'I believe this is yours' Jarvis adds, handing Pietro the turtle he rescued called Mister Dibbles. Jarvis assures Pietro that he has kept him fed, and remarks that he is quite the spirited little fellow. 'Mister Dibbles! Have you been a good boy while I've been gone? Have you been helpful to Jarvis?' Pietro smiles, but Mister Dibbles just hisses in response. 'You... you do realize the turtle can't talk, Sir?' Jarvis asks. Cap smiles and suggests they get Quicksilver a solid meal and some shuteye, then he will feel like himself again after forty winks.
Late that night, Quicksilver lies on his bed in Avengers Mansion. He thinks that his double is gone, he is exhausted and should get some sleep – but sleep won't come. So he walks the halls of the closest thing he has to a home – it feels good to walk, to watch time pass. 'You couldn't sleep, either, huh?' a voice asks. Pietro looks down the corridor to see Wanda, and tells his sister that he is just agitated – this thing, being trapped, it got to him, and he keeps closing his eyes and seeing gray. Wanda promises her brother that it will get better, and reveals that she keeps dreaming about their Mama and Papa. 'Something about this night...it wasn't made for rest' she remarks, and Pietro agrees. Wanda then points out that it may be three in the morning, but the diner they used to go to on 68th is still open – and they still have those milkshakes. 'You're a genius' Pietro smiles.
Shortly, Wanda and Pietro smile at each other from across the table at the diner, while Mister Dibbles sits on the table. Pietro thinks that he is the fastest man in the world, but he has learned that he can't outrun the things he has done – he has learned that he has to face them – good and bad, and that the only way to do that... is to slow down!
Captain America, Doctor Voodoo, Iron Man, Scarlet Witch (all Avengers)
Synapse appears on the cover to this issue, but not in the issue itself.