Return of the Heroes
As the year 2099 began, a second Heroic Age came with it. Nueva York soon saw heroic legacies like Spider-Man and Punisher rekindled, along with new heroes like Ravage the Beast-Man. Across the country, a new Ghost Rider arose in Transverse City, the X-Men regrouped in the America Southwest, and a Hulk stalked the badlands of California. Doctor Doom also returned from decades' absence, reclaiming Latveria as its long-lost monarch.
The Alchemax Corporation saw heroes as a virus, an ideal that threatened their control of the minds and lives of the American people. To combat the heroic ideal, Alchemax CEO Avatarr commissioned the Valhalla project. Taking advantage of the Thorite worship popular in 21st century America, Avatarr engineered the creation of new Aesir "gods." Test subjects were cast into the form of Asgardian heroes from times past using nanotech implants and psychological conditioning to complete the illusion of the gods returning to Earth. Among the subjects chosen to become Thor, Heimdall, Loki, Hela and Baldur were Ravage's girlfriend, Punisher's parish priest and Jordan Boone, office rival of Spider-Man and old roommate of Meanstreak of the X-Men, ensuring the heroes' involvement in the program.
In addition, Alchemax constructed a floating city in the shape of a giant hammer, with a rainbow-colored energy bridge allowing access. The nicknames of "Valhalla" and "Bifrost" served to further prime the populace for the return of the Aesir. The Aesir performed highly-publicized acts of charity and heroism, while denouncing the "false heroes" who appeared before them. Meanwhile, the floating city of Valhalla was causing vast ecological damage due to its unstable anti-grav generators, as Avatarr primed it to fall onto the defenseless city of New York below.
Jordan Boone, Loki, played his trickster role perfectly, for he had modified the specs for Alchemax's conditioning program to maintain his own identity, unlike the other Aesir (although his sanity after the transformation was in question). He leaked information about Valhalla to several parties, and soon Spider-Man, Ravage, Doom, Punisher and the X-Men congregated in New York City and confronted the Aesir atop Valhalla. Heimdall and Baldur were killed by Punisher, while both Hela and Loki escaped with their true faculties intact. Thor survived his battle with Doom and the other heroes, but reverted back to his original form. Ultimately, the heroes prevented Valhalla from falling, and Doom claimed the floating city as spoils of war.
The next major shift in 2099 history came from Doom himself. Having fully reestablished his memories and identity as Victor von Doom, he turned his attention towards America. Doom believed the American MegaCorps were a potential global threat that needed to be disposed of, and arranged a coup to take control of America by right of revolution. He orchestrated a revolt overseas by subtly leaking that the American MegaCorp Angels' Breath were the puppeteers behind the government of Makhelastan. Doom assembled the Cyberdive Cadre, an organized team of net-gliders, who normally were fiercely private and independent. With the assistance of the sentient program Paloma and his ally Wire (who existed simultaneously in realspace and cyberspace), Doom had an unprecedented strike force for cyberspace warfare. For conventional warfare, he hired the Mercenary Elite guilds and the Panther's Rage, Wakandan soldiers empowered by the same herbs once reserved for royalty. With Valhalla, now called Libera Cielo (Latverian for "clear sky"), as his flagship, Doom was ready for war.
In one afternoon, Doom cleared Angels' Breath and their American Captains out of Washington D.C. His physical and cyber-assault claimed the country, and the titular President committed suicide rather than face Doom. Assuming the role of President Doom, he instituted massive reform around the country. Net access and information were now free thanks to data-dive booths on the streets. The elimination of the Red Market and its exploitation of the poor, mutants and Degens was a national priority. EMPs, Environmental Maintenance Platforms, were launched around the country to restore the ozone layer and cleanse the air of pollutants. Black carder status, symbol of the corporate elite and their nigh-infinite disposable wealth, was abolished.
Doom's reforms also touched upon the superhuman community. He declared Hellrock an unsalvageable biohazard, killing his former ally Paul-Philip Ravage and everyone on the rock while disposing of it in space. Doom was in the process of negotiating with Hulk and his Lotusland Studios allies when a gamma bomb went off in California, further damaging the West Coast fault lines and rendering the state a radioactive wasteland. Doom outted Jake Gallows as the Punisher to the Public Eye, but then gave him a cabinet level position as Minister of Punishment and leader of the new national police, SHIELD. Ghost Rider was also recruited as an independent SHIELD marshal, after Doom contacted his creators the Ghost Works and subtly reprogrammed Cochrane's personality program to comply. Spider-Man was also offered a position as Minister of Superhuman Activities. Finally, Doom established the X-Men as Protectorate of Halo City, a new city built by the Ministry of Humanity to house the victims of the Red Market and all the rejected and downtrodden of society.
The False Captain America
Doom's presidency did not last, however. Although the execution of Avatarr was one of his first acts, he was too slow in ferreting out all the secrets of Corporate America. The Chicago Reserve was a black zone where the various competing MegaCorps secretly met to share banned technologies and plot for their mutual benefit at the cost of the people. John Anthony Herod ruled in the Reserve, making him the secret most powerful man in America. With the hidden support of the MegaCorps, he arranged to oust Doom from the White House in exchange for taking over the country for himself. Herod used a Bio-Shop clone to orchestrate the supposed return of Captain America, once again found frozen in the ice. "Steve Rogers" was a meat puppet under Herod's control, and he openly denounced Doom as the architect of the end of the Heroic Age. With this excuse, Herod's army of banned tech lay siege to Washington and destroyed the White House, putting Doom and the surviving Cabinet members on the run. As an added act of spite, he unleashed necrotoxins over Latveria, turning every living thing in Doom's homeland into organic sludge.
Herod's America was even worse than the previous corporate America. Heroes were actively targeted, with the Punisher, Hulk and lesser known vigilantes like Metalscream and Galahad murdered on live broadcasts (and then the broadcasters were killed for airing the footage, after Herod allowed them to receive it). Mutants were declared illegal by legislation and hunted in the streets by SHIELD. Herod arranged for a mutant testing and experimentation facility to be housed at the Million Palms amusement park in Havana, Florida.
The Messiah Quest
Despite everything, hope still existed in 2099. The original Fantastic Four emerged from the Negative Zone, apparently trapped in stasis for one hundred years. They challenged the Corps with a form of heroism that was impossible to tarnish or ignore. Halo City remained open on the West Coast, an independent city-state challenging Herod's authority by its very existence. Although still a fugitive, Doom stopped in to Halo City long enough to pass on important intelligence -- his future prediction computer models indicated the coming rise of a "mutant messiah" in the current generation of young mutants, one who would need protection and guidance in order to fulfill their destiny. He gave this information to Cerebra of the X-Men, who established the Xavier Shelter in Halo City for indigent young mutants to search for the messiah. Doom's files were also accessed by Morphine Somers and Herod, however, and news of the messiah quest also spread to the savant Book and Vulcann the Bloodsmith, each with their own agendas.
Future society suffered a colossal setback when a moon-sized Phalanx ship entered the solar system, radically altering the tides. Water levels of Earth rose by a kilometer worldwide, flooding New York, Halo City and nearly all coastal regions. Refugees fled to the Savage Land, one of the few stable land masses left on the planet. Spider-Man, the X-Men and the Fantastic Four began building a new society in Antarctica. The Phalanx sought out Nostromo of X-Nation, who carried within him the "Scout" program that was key to the invasion. Implanted in humanity as a dormant genetic sequence when their last invasion failed against the X-Men in the 1990's, the Scout program would allow the Phalanx to assimilate the entire planet while awakening a new generation of Phalanx embryos on the moon base.
Doom attempted to stall the Phalanx, promising to locate the Scout for their Emissary in exchange for leaving Latveria untouched. In the meantime, he worked with Miguel O'Hara and Xina Kwan on ways to counter the transmode virus. The Phalanx grew impatient, however, and their agent Winn located Nostromo in the Savage Land independently, ending their treaty with Doom. Victor was hampered by the nanotech neuro-interface in his armor, making him uniquely vulnerable to techno-organic corruption. While Doom recovered from a procedure to remove his armor's vulnerability, Miguel and Xina staged a suicide run on the Phalanx spire. Spider-Man reluctantly intended to kill Nostromo before the Scout program within him completed its task.
At the last moment, however, Doom emerged triumphant. After the Phalanx refused his offer to accept their surrender, Doom revealed he had installed a Trojan horse in the Scout program a century ago after the first Phalanx attack, to forestall any follow-up invasions. He intended to follow the original Scout program as it passed from one generation to the next, but his time-jump into 2099 caused him to lose track of Nostromo's ancestors and the program. Doom therefore started the myth of a "mutant messiah" to get multiple parties looking for the Scout on his behalf, so that he could activate the Trojan virus. Doom's gambit was successful, and the sub-routines he installed in Nostromo's techno-organic systems allowed the boy to devastate the Phalanx collective from the inside-out. Doom himself died in the final struggle with the Phalanx, but in his will he named Nostromo heir to the throne of Latveria.
In the final months of 2099, civilization began to resurface. Xi'an of the X-Men oversaw Xavier City in the Savage Land, while Miguel O'Hara restarted Alchemax in New York atop a series of bridges connecting the highest spires. Miguel and Xina found the real Steve Rogers frozen in ice once more, and the hammer of Thor. Captain America wielding the power of Thor united the people after a century of strife, and the heroes of 2099 were soon gathered by the Watcher, blind but still active on the Blue Area of the Moon. He led them to an Interdict Barrier on the edge of space, designed by the higher powers of the universe to keep humanity contained. Drafted into the Avengers 2099 by Cap, the heroes of the future succeeded in destroying the barrier, but Cap was lost adrift in space. His final act was returning Mjolnir to Miguel O'Hara, who proved worthy of wielding the hammer.
Over the next thousand years, Miguel O'Hara ushered in a Golden Age of humanity. Lost technology from the Heroic Age regarding nanotechnology and genetic enhancement uplifted mankind and made resource scarcity a thing of the past. Transhumans became the norm among humanity, and lifespans increased by centuries. Mankind expanded into the solar system and beyond, becoming elite warriors, statesmen and negotiators for the entire galaxy. In 3099, while celebrating one thousand years of human freedom, Miguel O'Hara found Steve Rogers frozen again while adrift in space. The two old friends reunited and congratulated each other on all humanity had accomplished through their efforts.