Okay, here goes. Please note that my plans are obviously fairly Mark-centric and also pretty "raze and salt"-ish - this was how I wanted to wrap up *everything* about him.Wayward Son
Actually started way back when, then immediately abandoned after the first chapter, this was going to be kind of a side story to the events in Japan from Rising Son, centering around Valentina. The plot was mostly going to be Valentina being awesome and facing off against the rogue PAC leadership, power armor, local Shop assets (including some Avatars) and...dammit, can't find my Shadowforce Archer worldbook at the moment. The Archer agent who was supposed to infiltrate the PAC, pictured on the PAC splatbook cover, dual sai...argh, can't remember the name. Anyway, the gist of the matter is that Valentina eventually finds out that the agent has gone rogue *twice* - first defecting from being an Archer mole to being turned by the PAC, then upgrading to triple agent status by feeding intel to the Shop. She's been involved in the whole mess and she's the one who killed the rogue PAC control at the end of his fight with Mark. In the ensuing fight, Valentina has no choice but to kill her, but the experience leaves her deeply shaken and she gives herself up, leading to where Rowena finds her in the cell in Ultimates 2. Also, I had very vague plans to involve Raphael Marcos aka Az somewhere, revealing that he's the amnesiac result of the Shop "Archangel" cloning program, much like I've shown Mark's clone Michael and hinted that they've got a line of Rowena clones codenamed Gabriel.
Music planning: This was going to be pretty hard and heavy. Yoji Biomehanika - Samurai, Rob Zombie - Foxy Foxy (for Valentina), some Andy Hunter. Set the final scene of Valentina giving herself up and sitting down in her cell to Clint Mansell - Dead Reckoning.One Shot
Starting as a "What if?" story, this revisits Two Guns, showing what would have happened if Mark had, at the last second, not pulled the trigger in the stand-off with Sharon. Sharon's love wins out over her sense of duty and she carries Mark out of the apartment to be treated by dollar, narrowly evading the police response. With her alive, the cops don't come down like a ton of bricks on Mark, giving him the opportunity to tip off Karen Ayers about Captain Whitton's side deals. With help from the Ingues family, the lovers stay hidden long enough for the shitstorm to focus on Whitton and take him down, leaving Mark and Sharon home free. Mark still confronts little Miss Ingues over her inviting her family's enemies to attack, but instead of walking away, he forgives her. Sharon quits the force and decides to become a private eye, while Mark similarly retires, buys himself a clean legal identity, and joins her. Happily ever after...
...and if you think all that sounds way too good to be true, Mark agrees with you. Things seem to bend around his actions to make everything alright, and he can't seem to lose at anything. Deeply cynical as he is, he starts pushing, driving Sharon away from him and alienating his friends in his obsession of finding the loose end he's sure is lurking somewhere. Sure enough, he finds it: he's trapped in his own mind, and talking to the mental representation of his jailer - as talking through the illusion of Sharon, for maximum knife-twisting - he finds out that this isn't the first time he's figured it out - they've gone through this illusion a dozen times, and every time Mark figures it out, and every time, when it's revealed, he ends up deciding to go start over. This time, however, he rejects the illusion and says he'd rather deal with the pain, and dares the figure to bring on an eternity of torture. However, the figure simply releases him, saying that it just wanted to give Mark a happy life.
In the real world, we find Mark's been out for five days - whoever psionically attacked Rowena towards the end of Just 'cause hit him, too, and hit him much harder than her, squashing Mark's long-touted record of being resistant to psionics. The search for a suspect is short - Hunter/Villain X has escaped his holding facility. Mark and Rowena, both burning for revenge against him, set off to bring him back in.
Music planning: More 80s! Specifically, Journey's Anyway You Want It. I had it in my mind when thinking about this for so long that the song now sounds completely sinister to me.Hunter Hunted
Mark and Rowena go to LA, where Hunter's supposed to be hiding. In town, they meet with Dollar, who's since settled down and "runs" a crew, though the younger gangbangers are all fairly embarrassed by him. Dollar pulls them straight into a gang conflict that turns out to involve the Shop's local plans; Mark and Rowena get very worried that they can't seem to spit without hitting something the Shop has its fingers in. The rest is kind of vague still - I hadn't thought about it much - but at the end, Mark and Rowena find Hunter just in time to see him get killed for real - by the new Villain X. Oh snap!
Music planning: Lots of hip hop and rock. Reserved spots of Xzibit - LAX, DMX - Bring Your Whole Crew and White Zombie - The One.The Big Freaking Finale
Okay, this one's even harder because I thought I'd be writing just parts of it with Equinox, since, you know, it's the finale. So my plans pretty much focussed on Mark and Rowena. Anyway, all-out three-way war between the remains of the Archer conspiracy, The Hand of Glory, and The Shop. The Ultimates lead a strike team to the Shop's bigass submarine, and we find out that the plans in the splatbook don't come close to the thing's scale - it's gargantuan, and the team quickly gets split up tackling various objectives while Hand soldiers also attack en masse. Even the Ultimates are hard-tasked to break through, but eventually Rowena, Equinox, and everyone important manages to get into the inner sanctum where Gray awaits, while Mark seemingly sacrifices himself by locking himself into a room with Villain X.
In short, Mark gets pwned pretty badly, and when he's a bleeding, disarmed mess on the floor, Villain X reveals that he's the next Michael Simmons clone, just with substantial upgrades - among them massive psionic power. Together with the armor and being able to read everything Mark's gonna try, he's as close to unbeatable as anything living can be. Credit to Mark for fighting him and not dying instantly, but he can't match that. Michael 2.0, however, reveals that unlike his predecessor, he doesn't hate Mark - indeed, he was the one who turned the psionic attack into trying to fulfill Mark's fantasies because he wants to *replace* Mark completely and send him off to a nice retirement of sorts. Mark admits that Michael may, indeed, be better than him - not just as a fighter, but as a person, too. Before Michael can realize what this means, Mark calls on the memory of shooting Sharon, over and over again, driving himself to tears but getting Michael in on the act - the guilt of carrying this around for 20 years is more than Michael can absorb quickly. Then Mark adds the coup de grace: he tells Michael that he's the kind of person who not only shot the only woman he ever loved, but after twenty years of guilt and shame, he'd use her memory as nothing more than a weapon. That adds a massive dose of self-loathing to the mix; Michael tears off the armor's helmet, no longer able to control himself. Mark, with his trademark bleeding-to-death glibness, tells Michael that he didn't strip *all* his weapons - and stomps his boot, flinging the old spring-loaded knife at Michael. Michael deflects it, but the second is enough time for Mark to roll, grab one of his pistols and shoot Michael in the head.
Mark painfully gets up and laughs quietly - that was his ultimate gamble, but he knows it won't keep Michael down, as he's already using his powers to regenerate. Thoroughly beat, Mark wanders over to the discarded helmet, picks it up, then says that he - for a change - read the briefing about the armor because he needed to know how to kill Villain X. He admits that he didn't find a way - the armor is flawless. Michael's seconds away from regenerating when Mark puts the helmet on. The security system scans his brainwaves, they of course don't match Michael's what with the latter's massive psionic enhancements. Mark takes the helmet off and remarks that they don't seem to think alike, but because he won't get another chance to, he adds another one-liner: You're better, but I'm meaner.
The next part is kind of a massive spoiler taken from what Equinox told me of his plans, so beware:
Rowena goes berserk thinking that Mark's dead, but the old hitman shows up looking like hell - but still alive - after Rowena fights and defeats Gray. (Presumably, the other Ultimates would be up against further threats, such as, I don't know, Eve? The Hand children? The Assassins? Didn't plan anything here.) There's no discussion about clemency or forgiveness - Rowena and Mark straight up shoot Gray until he's deader than disco.
In the aftermath, Mark has trouble deciding what to do. The fight's taken whatever spryness he might have left, so when we see him, he's rocking a cane like Bruce Wayne in Batman Beyond and at about that level of physical ability. Rowena convinces him that he's way overdue for retirement, and Mark accepts it. He leaves Rowena in charge - she's afraid that he'll abandon her, but he says he just needs to take care of one thing and then he'll leave the past behind. Final scene: Mark finally makes it to Sharon's grave, kneels down and prays, but instead of his usual "Every day I sin and do not repent" prayer, he rocks the Lord's Prayer, finding it in himself to ask for forgiveness. When he gets up and turns around, he finds Karen Ayers there. He tells her that he's turning himself in for the murder of Sharon Collins, if that's what she wants. Ayers says that it's been 20 years - she's moved on, and she's not gonna do him any favors by making her arrest him. Instead, she semi-jokingly orders him to go turn himself in at the next police station, like a good criminal should. Mark says that if she lets him walk away now, she'll never catch him because he won't be back. Ayers, not without some bitterness, tells him she'll be glad if she never has to think about him again. Mark accepts that and bids his goodbye. We fade out on Sharon's grave - metaphorically speaking, she was dead before, but now she's buried
Music planning: For the big action scenes, I was planning to basically steal action movie themes wherever possible. This was gonna be a rollercoaster of the biggest, most epic music I could find. Of particular note: the Northern Kings cover of A View To A Kill, and their cover of Brothers In Arms for the Mark-Michael fight. Final scene set to Deep Purple - Soldier of Fortune.
Welp, that reads a lot more maudlin and depressing than it was in my head. But hey, Mark's always been put through the wringer, why lay off him now? And like I said, I wanted to make sure that he this would be the final story I'd tell about him - as such, it had to give him the redemption he hadn't wanted before, and it had to add more pain to the pile before he'd finally stop walking the path of the hitman and seek to make things right.
So, yeah. I know this is by no means a replacement for actually writing all those stories, but I hope it's at least worth *something* to the people who were curious how it would end.