Chapter 3


Arena of Tainted Souls.

Fiery Nether Realm, Hell.


A sickening crack echoed across the arena. With grunting wince of pain, Johnny Blaze turned away from the cloud of flames several meters above, where the chaos and devastation unleashed upon humanity from the hands of Mephisto's hordes was visible for the demon lord's pleasure. The human returned his gaze, one of suppressed rage, back to his torturer, who held a bone whip in his hands. The demonic being sneered as he readied to strike again; for every time Blaze looked away, he was to be struck by the bone whip again and again. His black was a bloody mess, ripped and shredded, with small chunks of flesh dangling from the scars from the whip strikes.

Within his being, Zarathos wailed in agony and burning rage, desperately trying to come out and deal hellspawned vengeance. However, the shackles on Johnny's body kept the demon contained, from giving Johnny its powers while causing him unimaginable pain.

Johnny scoffed internally; he couldn't remember when his body wasn't ever not in pain. After spending decades in Mephisto's "tender" care, pain had all but become his best friend. But even with all that he felt physically after all this time, he still felt the deep pain within his heart, caused by the woman who had unwittingly carved it all those years ago….

*Flashback, years ago. Mid 1970s.*

It had been a long intense battle that lasted three nights in the Nevada desert, culminating after an intense hunt of supernatural proportions. Mephisto had send a trio of demons to hunt the Ghost Rider down, leaving a trail of bodies and devastation in their wake. In a twist of the hunt, Ghost Rider had flipped everything against the three demons, leading to a devastating fight in the heart of Las Vegas on a Tuesday evening in the mid 1970s.

The site of battle was chaotic at best, civilians and reporters running in all directions as the Ghost Rider waged near-literal war against the demonic entities. Destruction echoed across streets and entire blocks, with cars destroyed and people killed, courtesy of Mephisto's hunters. After brutal exchanges of power and strength, the Ghost Rider eventually overcame the three demons, slaughtering the final demon with a particularly nasty blast of hellfire. Ghost Rider had stood victorious, but the battle had taken a heavy toll due to how much energy was needed, making him collapse onto his knees. His mission was accomplished, however; his vengeance had been carried out, answering the blood shed by those killed the demons. And so, he set himself to rest.

Right there, in front of the masses of shocked civilians, police and reporters, the flaming form of the Ghost Rider disappeared in a surge of hellfire. In his place stood the biker-outfitted form of Jonathan Blaze.

Panting, he saw the shocked looks of all those around him. What stood out most, though, was the shocked, horrified and almost betrayed expression of his wife Roxanne, lead reporter of Channel 12 News Network. Their eyes met for only seconds before Roxanne disappeared into the crowd, but not before Johnny managed to catch the glimpse of tears in her eyes.

Hours later, Johnny finally returned back to their apartment. He had initially wanted to go after Roxanne, but after what happened, Johnny felt that she needed some time to collect herself after what she had seen. He had kept this secret from her for so long; he wanted to at least have the chance to explain himself. Unfortunately, he never had the chance; as soon as he entered the apartment, Johnny was immediately struck by two demons disguised as humans. Each armed with supernatural weaponry on their knuckles, they quickly overwhelmed the exhausted and stressed human.

Johnny crashed into the floor, bruised and bleeded. Utterly dazed by the blitz attack, the two demons quickly placed shackles on his arms and legs, each inscribed with an unknown and ancient language.

Within Johnny's being, the spirit of Zarathos roared as he made to summon himself and lay waste to these demons foolish enough to dare to ambush them. The transformation was brutally halted, though, as the shackles began glowing and searing Johnny's body with hellspawned pain, forcing Zarathos in containment. Johnny's screams echoed through the apartment from the pain.

The sounds of footsteps made Johnny raise his head in wincing pain, and he was welcomed by the sight of an elderly priest in black robe attire and a silver cross around his neck, a metal cane in his hand. His glowing eyes, however, quickly betrayed his appearance for the disguise that it was, Johnny quickly realizing that this was Mephisto in disguise. Then, to Johnny's shock and horror, someone else came over beside the disguised demon: Roxanne. Her face was contorted in a mixture of fear, betrayal, shock, sadness...and hatred. No longer was there any love in them.

"Zarathos…" Mephisto said with a smirk. "My, it's been awhile. Your reign of terror is over." The other two disguised demons quickly grabbed Johnny and pulled him to his feet, the biker hero gasping and wincing in pain. The demonic overlord then turned to Roxanne. "Thank you so much, Ms. Blaze; the Vatican and the Church appreciate your support in the capture of this dangerous fiend."

Roxanne was silent for a few moments, her eyes never leaving Johnny's shocked and pained expression. She finally answered, "You don't have to thank me, Father; I did what I had to." Her voice was slightly cracked, evidence of her crying. " I just can't believe he...it lied to me all these years...How could I've been so foolish, all these years and that...that thing..." She stopped speaking, shuddering to herself as she rubbed her arm, like she were rubbing some filth away that only she could see.

With masterfully deceitful warmth, priest Mephisto smiled as he softly caressed her back. "Don't worry my dear; it's not your fault. Demons like him, especially of his kind, they lie and cheat. Unfortunately, it is most likely that the boy you knew as Johnny died years ago, and that Zarathos has been taking his shape all this time. It's a common ploy among demons; you are not the first to fall for such deception. But now, thanks to you, the Church can at last finally banish this demon from the face of the Earth."

Devastation and rage burned within Johnny. To his horror, Roxanne was believing every lie that Mephisto was throwing at her. Zarathos burned within him in desperation, desiring to fight Mephisto, but the shackles kept the Rider from taking form. In a last bid of desperate hope, Johnny turned back to Roxanne; he knew that she was of no use to Mephisto anymore, and he was afraid of what would happen to her. He knew quite well what was waiting for his wife. He had to try and save her, get her away from here, from Mephisto!

"Roxy, please, it's me! It's Johnny! Don't believe this bastard's lies; he's tricking you! It's really me! Who saved you from that vicious poodle when we were six?! Who took a beating from your dad because we snuck out to the movies?!"

"He lies, my dear," Mephisto retorted, turning to Roxanne. "All his kind know is deceit and betrayal. He's trying to manipulate you, turn your experiences with him against you. Don't let him get to you.

"Shut up, you filthy bastard!" Johnny roared, struggling in the demons' grips. "Baby, please, you know me! You've trusted me, you know it's really me! Roxanne!"

"Shut up," Roxanne snapped back, tears pouring out of her eyes, cringing at his words. Betrayal, hatred and pain rang from her voice; she could barely bring herself to look at Johnny. "You lied to me all these years...pretending to be my husband...all those nights we...we-you disgust me, you filthy monster."

"Roxy, please, you can't believe that! Let me explain! It's not what you think-!" Johnny didn't finish as something hard struck his face. To his disbelief and horror, Roxanne had ripped her wedding ring from her finger and thrown it right at his face. It was in that moment that Johnny finally realized that her mind wouldn't be changed. She was fully bought into Mephisto's lies, and turned completely against.

"Roxanne...please…"

"You sick bastard…" came the muttered, disgusted and tearful response.

The tension was suddenly broken by a sinister cackling that rang through the air. All eyes turned to the priest, and Roxanne was shocked by his glowing eyes; she hadn't noticed those before. Mephisto cackled as he returned to his true demonic form in a burst of hellfire and sulfur. Roxanne's eyes widened in horror at the sight before her. Before she could even react, however, Mephisto quickly pierced the woman's heart with the cane. Roxanne Blaze gurgled her last breath, blood oozing from her wounds and lips, dying right there before Johnny.

It took several moments for Johnny to realize that the new sound in the apartment was his own screaming.

"MEPHISTO, YOU SON OF A BITCH!" The stuntman yelled in rage and hatred, pain and agony. He viciously tried to break free of the grips of the other two demons, watching as Roxanne's body collapsed onto the now bloodstained floor. His efforts were useless, though, as the demons easily subdued and pummeled the thrashing man. Mephisto laughed with guile as he grabbed him by the hair and forced him to look as he took the two glowing white wisps of energy that flew out of Roxanne. Catching them, Mephisto slowly and savoringly devoured them.

"Oh, Johnny," Mephisto chuckled as he matched Johnny's glare of hatred. "You don't know the plans I have in store for you, as well as for our old dear friend. I can hear him now, screaming inside you. Quite angry, I imagine, though nowhere near what you must be feeling right now." Mephisto chuckled again. "Don't worry, my boy, I'll treasure her forever. I always keep delicious souls close to me; they're at their best just after death, especially the unborn."

At that, Johnny's glare abruptly changed. "W-what?"

Oh!" Mephisto replied in mock realization, seeing the frozen look of shock on Johnny's face at his words. "Wait, you didn't know that she was pregnant? Guess that was going to be a surprise…"

*Flashback Ends*

Mephisto's laughter from that night was burned into Johnny's mind since that moment, when his own hell had begun. It wasn't when Mephisto began his torture; it had begun when the bastard turned his now dead wife against him. For more than 30 years, the torture at Mephisto's hands didn't compare at all to his manipulations of his wife at her most vulnerable.

Chancing a glance back to Mephisto's viewing clouds, Johnny Blaze could see a number of Earth's heroes fighting their hardest against the forces of Hell. Heroes of an era he was unfamiliar with; not that it mattered, really. What did matter was that they were slowly losing ground to Mephisto's hosts.


Haarzareth Ritual Site. Central Park, Manhattan, NY

2:35 PM EST, Wed 23 August 2010


KAPOWWW!

FRABOOOOMMM!

Captain Marvel landed several dozen feet away from the site, crashing into the grass and dirt heavily with a resonating boom. The blow she had just received had been one unlike most she had ever felt, as if she had been struck by the Hulk or something of similar power. The breath had actually been hit out of her.

At the ritual site, Spider Woman and Wasp were both shooting their bio-electric blasts from their positions in the air. Mephista easily dodged Jess and Jan's strikes, shooting back with hellfire blasts. Seeing what the red-skinned female had done to one of the world's most powerful superhumans, the two SHIELD agents weren't too keen on close combat unless necessary.

It appeared as if that plan wasn't going to work, though. Mephista quickly took flight, her black wings pounding the air as she raced right for the two heroines. Swearing, Jess raced to meet her head on, both fists glowing with energy. Mephista caught her off guard, however, teleporting right behind the British agent and slamming her foot into her back. Jess was sent crashing into the ground, screaming in extreme pain. Jan quickly started shooting her own blasts, causing Mephista to curse angrily. Unable to fully see where the miniscule heroine was, the demonic entity simply sent a surge of hellfire in the general direction of where the bio-stings were coming from. Jan was forced to duck to the ground, returning herself to full size. Her fists pulsated with energy as Mephista readied to attack again.

"You weak, pathetic, mortal creatures," Mephista snarled. "All of your kind disgust me. You really think you have a chance against me?! The only place for your kind is under my heel, like the insects that you are, ready to be squashed whenever we feel like it."

"I feel like I should take offense to that," Jan replied. Before Mephista could react, she was sent staggering forward as Spider Woman rammed into her. Wasp quickly shot her bio-electric blasts, catching Mephista in the face as Jess shot her own blasts right after before she again bumrushed the demonic entity and threw her into a nearby tree.

"I feel left out, personally," Jess retorted as she landed next to Jan. "The proper term for my kind is arachnid; we're not all insects." Her fists began glowing again as she turned back to Mephista. "Now be a dear, red and ugly, and stay down."

Mephista growled like an enrage animal as blood started dripping from her nose. Her eyes began burning, literally as flames began . "You wretched creature! How dare you touch-?!"

FRABOOOOOMMM!

Mephista was send flying through one of the famous Central Park boulders, crashing through it, more and several trees until she landed in one of the park's lakes with a powerful crash. Captain Marvel had returned to the scene, paying her opponent in full for the blow she had gotten earlier.. Her eye glowing through the lens of her cowl, she then turned towards the actual ritual, where Blackheart continued performing the ritual, chanting in a language unfamiliar to her, the blood circle at his feet now glowing a vibrant green. Jess and Jan followed her gaze, all three women tense.

"Anyone knows what's going on with him?" Janet said, ready to act at any notice. Before the other two could reply, though, Blackheart's chants started getting louder, shouting with high intensity. The circle suddenly burst into violent purple flames. "Ok...that looks bad."

A sudden roar rang out, low but powerful and rumbling...coming from the flaming circle. The ritual site began glowing even more, and to the shock of the three superpowered woman, a gargantuan red hand began emerging from the circle.

"...That looks worse," Carol added. After a moment, she made her decision, her fists glowing. "Take him down, now! Keep him from finishing whatever he's doing!"

The three superhumans immediately shot forth their energy blasts, flying right for him. Unfortunately, before they could land any blows, though, another blast appeared seemingly out of nowhere, hitting theirs and exploding violently. Mephista had teleported back onto the scene. Her eyes glowed both with rage and literal flames.

"The hell did she come from?!" Jan exclaimed.

"You think you can stop the ritual?" Mephista sneered. With a yell of power, she shot forth two blasts of hellfire and energy from her hands. Before the three women could react, Jess and Jan were struck. They were sent crashing into the ground several feet away, screaming in pain, their uniforms burnt. Carol then turned her own photon blasts on Mephista, who met them with powerful optic blasts of pure hellfire. The two blasts collided violently with an explosive impact. Carol was sent flying back several feet from the shockwaves; she made to ascend to fire more photon blasts, but Mephista beat her to the punch, zooming through the smoke and bum-rushing the human-Kree hybrid, slamming her into the ground.

While one of the most powerful superhumans on Earth, the power behind the attack was immense. Carol yelled out in pain, dazed. Mephista then willed a hellfire sword into existence in her hand. She yelled as she made to strike the heroine, but never got the chance.

"AAAARRGGHHH!

The two turned towards the sound of the scream, seemingly coming out of nowhere. A red and blue blur, at astonishing speeds, was hurtling towards them in a ball of dust, smoke and flames; Carol could just barely make out the shape of a human. The blur slammed into Mephista, both now hurtling off like a bullet...

...heading right for Blackheart. Who, still chanting his spell, suddenly noticed the projectile hurtling towards him.


New York City Near Central Park.

2:35 PM EST, Wed 23 August 2010


Central Park was, putting it mildly, a warzone. Explosions and screams echoed from the city, fire and smoke reaching for the skies.

Hawkeye's sight was all over the place as he shot arrows left and right. It was all he could do to keep the demons off his back, and the backs of his teammates. Clint was currently back to back with Bobbi, both in vicious combat with the reptilian demons. He could easily see his fiance fighting the creatures as best she could, with Captain America and Romanova in his peripheral vision, in vicious combat with several other creatures. Iron Man, meanwhile, was shooting repulsor blasts left and right, hitting anything in sight that was trying to kill them all.

All four SHIELD agents could easily see Stark's condition deteriorating with every second. His repulsor blasts were visibly getting weaker with each blast, and Stark stumbled more often than not. His armor crackled, his chest arc blinking and dimming rapidly.

Mockingbird, relentless in her offense, kept dishing out as many blows as she could with her battles staves. Her brutal close quarters combat skills on full display, she held nothing back as she focused solely on her enemies, trusting her fiance's skills as he fought behind her. That same trust waived somewhat as Bobbi heard Clint's laughter. Taken by surprise, she did a somersault and smashed another demon in the face before turning to Clint.

"Babe, are you feeling okay?" she called out to him. He wasn't losing his mind out here, was he?

"Sure," Clint responded, firing off another arrow. "I just had a pretty random thought, is all."

Bobbi smirked as she avoided another demon's axe swing. "I always say those are bad for you."

"Here we are, you and me; super secret agents, working with an honest to God veteran from WWII who's also the world's first superhero. Not to mention the world's best engineer, who probably has the world's greatest weapon, and beings with alien powers. All of us, fighting demons, and all I have is a bow and arrow."

"Don't worry," Bobbi replied with a smirk. "You look hot doing it." As she struck another demon with her staves, she didn't see another making to slam its club on her. Luckily, Hawkeye quickly shot an adamantium-tipped arrow at its head, striking it dead. Before he could do anything else, though, another demon slammed into Clint. With a roar, it grabbed his shooting arm and easily crushed it with several sickening cracks, enticing screams of pain from the archer.

"Clint!" Bobbi screamed. Instinct taking over, she ran at full speed and stabbed her staves into the monster's eyes. Yelling in rage, she rammed her weapons deeper into its skull, until it stopped moving moments later. Panic in her eyes, Bobbi then rushed to Clint, who had collapsed onto his legs in pain as he clutched his arm, his bow on the ground.

"Oh God, Clint," Bobbi winced as she watched her fiance grit his teeth, his groans of pain loud even in the din of the war around them. Fighting the pain as best he could, Clint shocked Bobbi as he ripped the shirt from a civilian's body and began to form a makeshift sling, only to have Bobbi grab his good arm.

"You're not fighting in this condition," Bobbi said with a glare. "I'm getting an evac for-"

"The world is literally ending around us, Bobbi," Clint interrupted with a similar glare as he forced himself to his feet. "You think I'm just going to sit around as people are dying left and right?!" With a grunt, he grabbed a fallen sword from a demon corpse, testing it with several swings. "This is what we're trained to do, no matter the cost, and I'll be damned if-"

KRAKOOOOOM!

Iron Man crashed onto the ground only feet away, a large demon cushioning his fall as it roared in rage. Before it could do anything, though, the armored hero unleashed a powerful uni-beam blast right onto its face. A brilliant explosion of light and fire later, the demon was dead, its head smoking from the blast.

Turning to the two agents, Stark let out a mirthless chuckle as he stumbled off the demon's body. His armor crackled all over the place, sparks flying as his arc reactor blinked and fizzled on and off. Several chunks of armor were missing, as well. "Damn it, Legolas, can't you ever fight with a weapon from this century?"

Both immediately noticed the brokenness of the armor's voice modules. Iron Man's eye slits then suddenly blacked out, before the billionaire crashed onto the ground with a metallic thud.

"Stark!" Clint yelled as he and Bobbi rushed over to him. Natasha and Steve came over seconds later; the Russian's uniform was torn in several places, a bleeding gash on her forehead and one of her stinger crackling, damaged in combat. Steve's cowled helmet was missing, his blonde hair dirty, with his uniform ripped in several areas.

"Tony, you're not dying!" Steve yelled as he grabbed the hero's head, ripping the visor off and throwing it aside. "Not today!" Unsure of what to do, he addressed Tony's AI, "JARVIS, what do we do?!" Unfortunately, with the armor out of power, JARVIS was unable to respond.

"We have a problem, team," Nat said as she readied her remaining stinger. The other three quickly turned to follow her gaze, their eyes widening a second later. Lumbering towards them was the largest demon they had seen thus far, easily around 30 feet with a flaming axe in its hand, covered in armor made of flesh. With a horrible roar, it swung its axe at the heroes.

"Hit the deck!" Rogers yelled as he grabbed Iron Man and leapt out of the way, the other three quickly acting as well. The flaming axe exploded upon striking the streets, sending flames and shockwaves in all directions. The four SHIELD agents were caught in the blast, each sent flying. Steve's grip on Tony was forcibly rattled, the armored billionaire landing several feet away from the Living Legend...the closest to the demon.

Inside his armor, Tony was gasping and panicking. He knew that with his armor dead, he was completely powerless and vulnerable. His chest arc was now diverting all little that remained of its power to sustain his heart, even if it would only last precious minutes more. His voice hoarse from gasping and yelling in pain, he could do nothing as the demon grabbed him and lifted him up into the air with a sinister roar.

"Tony!" Steve yelled in horror at the sight before him. Quickly, he grabbed his shield and made to throw it with all his might at the 30 foot demon. The billionaire was one of his few friends in the modern world, and he was not about to lose him. Before Captain America could unleash his weapon, though, and before the demon could do anything to the billionaire, it began to instead roar in pain.

Dropping both Tony and its axe, the creature grabbed at it stomach area, eyes wide. Steve quickly moved to catch the falling armored hero. All eyes then widened in shock as six metal claws sliced their way through the demon's flesh, the monster roaring louder each second. Falling to its knees, Steve, Natasha, Clint and Bobbi were easily able to see the claws dig their way through the demon's stomach, a hole forming in its flesh and getting bigger with each slash. Within moments, a figure emerged from the hole, yelling and roaring in a berserker rage as demon blood covered him from head to toe to claw.

James 'Logan' Howlett, known to the world as the Wolverine, member of the X-Men. A fellow member of Captain America's elite squad in World War II, the Howling Commandos.

"What the fuck?!" Clint hissed in shock, clutching his broken.

The agents watched in shock as the mutant jumped out of the demon, roaring as he did so. As he landed, the large demon collapsed onto its hand, its other clutching at the gaping wound Logan had left him. Logan was covered in blood, his black X-Men uniform burned and charred by stomach acid and fire. With a grunt and snarl, he ripped the top of his uniform off and threw it aside, revealing his hairy build and his dog tags, chunks of flesh and skin regrowing thanks to his healing factor.

"Logan!" Natasha called out, Logan turning to the other heroes as the Russian came over to him. "What the hell happened-?"

"Bad day, leave it at that," Wolverine replied bluntly, cracking his neck as he scowled. He did not want to relive the scenario that ended with him inside the creature again. "Someone wanna tell me what the fuck is going on here?! This stink ain't coming off for weeks!" Noting how Steve was holding the unmoving Iron Man, he added, "The fuck is wrong with him?"

"The demon that you came out of basically trashed him, and his suit is broken," Steve replied, knowing not to bother with a greeting with his old friend.

"Well, that sucks, don't it?"

A vicious roar caught all their attention. The large demon, while dying in front of them, glared at them before roaring again. It began to stand, making to grab its weapon lying on the ground-

SCREABOOOOOMMM!

...only for something to slam through its head, sending demonic flesh and blood flying in all directions. That was only the half of it, though; just as the demon's body crashed onto the ravaged streets, the object that killed the demon crashed landed right in front of the group of heroes, several feet away. As the dust settled, it was revealed to be a human sized metal pod with a familiar red and gold coloring, and a vibrant arc reactor glowed from it.

"...well, look what finally showed up," Morse remarked.

'Captain, agents," the voice of JARVIS suddenly spoke from the pod, which began to hiss as it opened. 'If you could please place Mister Stark into the pod; his heart will fail within the next minute.' At that, the suit that Stark was wearing suddenly whined to life briefly for a second before it suddenly fell off Stark's body, revealing the dying billionaire. Stark was wheezing, trying to yell in pain but unable to, his skin pale and sweat pouring out of his body.

"Holy shit," Logan muttered as he helped Steve stuff Stark into the metal pod, slightly surprised by Stark's appearance. Once he was inside, mechanized whining rang out as robotic arms began placing pieces of black and gold armor, covering his entire body. A new armored chest piece was the first thing to appear, a vibrant arc reactor glowing on it. As the rest of the armor was placed onto Stark's body, the new reactor sent an overflow of power and energy into his heart's reactor, reinvigorating the billionaire. After less than a minute, Stark was back on his feet, ready to get back into action with his newest suit: black and gold, sleek and glowing red visor eyes, reactor and repulsor nodes.

'Iron Man Mk XX is now fully online,' JARVIS stated. 'All systems are fully operational.'

"JARVIS, I take back everything I've ever said about you, at least for today," Stark laughed as his repulsors whined with immense power. "Ladies," he added to the other heroes, "meet the MK XX, the newest of my toys."

Several demonic roars and screeches replied before the heroes could say anything. The concern for Stark disappeared as the situation at hand captured their attention again. Several dozen more demons landed around them, weapons at the ready and blazing, the creatures' maws gaping with acid and flames. More demons were on their way, all just as flaming and armed.

"Less talking, more fighting, Stark," Logan remarked, releasing his claws once more. "Time to put that fancy new suit o'yours to the test, bub."

"Hit them fast and hard!" Captain America called out as he leapt at the demons, Wolverine right behind him. Iron Man and Black Widow soon followed, with Mockingbird staying near Hawkeye to watch his back, still concerned about him with his broken arm. They clashed against the demons tooth and nail, the power of the feral X-Man and armored billionaire bolstering their efforts immensely. Demons roared and screeched as repulsors and bullets rang and exploded, with claws slashing away and metal striking burning flesh. The group of heroes continued to press on, pushing deeper into the carnage as they fought the hordes of Hell.

'Sir,' JARVIS suddenly spoke to Iron Man. 'There is a projectile approaching our position at an astonishing speed.'

"Head's up!" Stark yelled out as he blasted a demon in the chest. "There's something coming this way pretty fast!"

Logan was the first to hear it, thanks to his heightened senses. Looking up from another impaled demon, he was the first to see a red and blue blur pass by the heroes faster than they could blink. What was strange, though, and immediately caught their attention was that the blur was yelling.

"AHHHHHHHH!"

Tony blinked under his visor, he and the rest following the blur as it flew deeper into Central Park. "What the fuck was that?"

Logan, smirking and suppressing a laugh, had a pretty good idea just what it was. Or rather, who that was. "Let's find out, Stark. Let's see what else your new suit can do!"


The Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters. San Francisco, California, USA

12:35 PM PST, Wed 23 August 2010


Born out of a dream where mutant and humans could live together in peace, Professor Charles Xavier build his original school in Westchester, New York to push his ideals forward. Now standing proudly in the city of San Francisco, the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters shone as a hopeful symbol of human-mutant peace for the future. The school was also home to a team of mutant heroes known to the world as the X-Men. Not only do they defend a world that fears and hates them, they are tasked to defend and teach young mutants to control their abilities.

Normally, the school was teaming with energy. Students would be packing the hallways and classrooms, the X-Men happily completing their roles as teachers. While this has been the norm only an hour ago, it was not so anymore. The many students were instead in their dorms or the lounges, watching the demonic invasion of New York on TV. Many of the faculty were watching with the students.

"Professor, isn't there something we can do?" Kitty Pryde asked, immense concern as he ran her hand through her ponytail. "I mean, we're the X-Men. I feel so helpless just sitting here, watching."

"I wish there was, Kitty," Professor Xavier sighed with regret. He frowned as he rolled his wheelchair to where Kitty was sitting, holding her shoulder. "But even if it weren't being repaired at the moment, not even the Blackbird would be able to get the team to Manhattan fast enough. All that is left for us to do is pray and hope for the best."

"Don't worry, Sugah; You know that Logan's there somewhere, slicing and dicing some of those demon bastards for us," Anne Marie said in an attempt to comfort her teammate. She gave Kitty's shoulder a small squeeze through her gloves. Though she tried to sound confident, she was evidently worried about Logan; he was the closest thing to a father she had nowadays.

"I just can't believe he slashed the roof of my car again," Scott Summers muttered in agitation as he held an ice pack to his cheek. Beneath his ruby quartz shades, his eyes were narrowed in irritation. While he and Logan didn't get along at best, he was still concerned for his teammate; he wasn't one to vocalize such a thing, though. "Why did he have to stay in New York, anyways?"

"He said he wanted time to collect himself," Jean Grey huffed in a mix of agitation and worry, tearing her eyes from the screen to glare at her boyfriend from the other side of the couch they shared. "It's not like he should've known that an invasion was going to happen today. Give him a break; it's bad enough you went out of line calling him out like that in that last mission."

Scott turned to Jean in shock. "Come on, Jean, he almost killed those MRD agents. There was no reason for that, or for him to get into a battle with Sabretooth...or punch me, for that matter."

Jean only scoffed, returning her attention to the battle on the tv screen. Her worry for Logan gnawed at her like crazy, her head a storm of emotions and confusion. She felt like she was betraying Scott in this way. Yet, he had been really distant as of late, ever since their former enemy Emma Frost had joined the X-Men and school staff in an attempt at redemption.

Before anyone could say anything else, Piotr Rapustin suddenly exclaimed aloud in Russian. "Bohze Moi!" All eyes watched as the news cameras managed to catch the Wolverine clawing his way out of one of the demon's stomach, his expression like that of a feral beast. Covered with blood and guts all over, he ripped his burnt and melted off uniform and slashed the demon's head off.

The students cheered as they watched one of their favorite professor kick ass, many of the X-Men breathing in relief as they saw that Logan was ok. Professor Xavier simply shook his head and rubbed his temple in regards to his most difficult case ever.

"How the hell did he get in there in the first place?" Scott muttered aloud, shaking his head in exasperation. He didn't see Jean's expression of relief. She was glad no one could hear how fast her heart was beating. She hoped that Logan survived…so she could give him a piece of her mind when he got back.


Hello guys, Harlequin K here with yet another chapter for EMH: A. I do apologize for the delay but my computer broke, and it has been a crazy couple of months. But now I'm back and with my creative juices flowing. I hope you enjoy this chapter as much as I did writing it. Some questions that were ask in the reviews are answer in this chapter.

To answer a question some of you asked that where would I go from here now that they're facing the demons from the Marvel Universe. Well... I won't say much because that would spoiling it, but I have many situations for the Avengers, and especially Carol and Peter. So keep your eyes peeled for the next chapter that I'll be dropping two huge hints.

As always read and review any questions are welcome and I'll be more than happy to answer them.

Harlequin K