A/N: Thanks to my editors: Those-Who Walk-Alone, Elsannity, and SexyMist.

This is the final chapter of Part 1. This marks the beginning of a very long hiatus as I go back and rewrite everything. Part 2 will commence once Part 1 is properly polished.


The blood bubbling out of Ameeil's mouth is already pooled in her mask by the time she hits the ground. She chokes and struggles to breathe. She blinks the sloshing spit and blood out of her eyes to stare at the gleaming armoured meta poised above her.

"Good afternoon," the meta says in a voice as rumbling and sharp as splitting glaciers. They rip the heaven spear out of Ameeil's abdomen and rest it over their shoulders. "Nice day, isn't it?"

Ameeil stares at the spear. That damnable weapon she recognizes from Athena's back, but there's no way. Is there?

The stranger with the monstrous helmet snaps their head to the sky then . . . disappears.

Ameeil is so shocked that for a moment she doesn't register the shards of ice cascading around her. What are the odds of a third person on Earth being able to teleport? Why isn't Rho dealing with them?

Blizzard lands with only a little more grace than the projectiles shattering around her, with her armour splintering with the harsh impact. She reforms her compromised armour as she half limps into a defensive position by Ameeil's feet. "Archangel, I need a heal here. A meta just took down Hive Queen."

"I have no quarrel with you," says the stranger in the same disquieting voice. She's crouching on a nearby jut of ice.

Blizzard whips around and punches out a blast of freezing air, but the other meta just teleports away with a sinister laugh.

"Blizzard, please," the meta chuckles. "Do this the easy way. This is the only time I'll ask."

Blizzard's fists lower, just enough to notice. "That's Athena's spear." She sounds horrified.

"That isn't an answer." Whoever this meta is, they don't have the patience for conversation.

Ameeil clutches at her stomach and coughs out another mouthful of blood. At this rate she'll either have to start swallowing it or take her helmet off. She's not sure she has the strength to do the latter.

"God damnit!" Blizzard hollers. "Red—fuck! Rho promised she had you under control!"

Red? Is that the maleficence Ameeil sensed deep in Rho's brain? If so . . . she doesn't even want to think of the consequences.

Red's helmet evaporates to reveal a crooked smirk. She blinks out of existence and reappears standing almost nose-to-nose with Blizzard, who backpedals. "You should be happy to see me. I killed Hades." She leans forward with a wicked glint in her eyes and adds in a stage whisper, "And I'm not killing you."

Archangel slams into the ground, lifting a cloud of dust and debris in her wake. She stalks forward with hunched shoulders and narrow eyes. She waves a hand in Ameeil's direction but doesn't even spare her a glance as she positions herself between Red and Blizzard.

Ameeil gasps in a breath, and promptly chokes on her own blood. She pulls off her helmet before she can get all the fastens undone and rolls over to puke up whatever remains in her newly repaired stomach.

She wipes the bile dripping from her lips with the back of her hand and reaches for her helmet, then pauses. A small puddle of blood and saliva is dripping out of it and the mere thought of putting that back on turns Ameeil's stomach anew. But the idea that Red can teleport her into space and be done with it makes Ameeil grab the helmet and put it back on. She tries not to focus on the way her stomach clenches when the chilled slickness inside sloshes against her face.

Red's eyebrows are set into an unamused line when Ameeil focuses her red tinged, blurry vision back on the woman. She squints her eyes. Did she burst one too many blood vessels, or is her visor smeared?

"I'm not discussing this with you." Red gestures to Ameeil. "She will die. You don't have to."

Archangel keeps her steely gaze on Red, but Blizzard glances over to Ameeil. Her fingers curl into fists and the League leader turns back with a straight back. "I can't just allow you to murder her."

Red dips her head in a shallow nod of understanding. "Just don't retaliate afterwards."

There's a finality in her tone that has Ameeil pawing the ground for her weapon, but she can't remember for the life of her if she dropped it before or after she landed. She doesn't get much time to think about it.

Next thing Ameeil knows, Red's hand is around her neck and they're hovering above a beach.

Red raises her other hand, burning with white flames. "The Ambassadors ruined Arson's life, but you ruined mine." Her cheeks twitch and a scowl pulls at her lips. "You don't deserve to die for that, but if Anna got to slaughter the Goats for what they did, then I'm allowed to slaughter you."

The flames around Red's hand flare. Smoke bellows out in concentrated rings and the sound barrier breaks right beside Ameeil's ear when the flames spit towards her in a focused wave.

Tears well in Ameeil's eyes. It's all she has time to do before everything goes dark.


Elsa pushes away from Emma the moment their surroundings change, but freezes in terror when heat beats against her armour with enough force to melt it. She plunges the immediate area in freezing temperatures, but everything still feels like a chill autumn day with the heat competing against it.

She squints against the wind and grits her teeth at the sight.

Fire rockets out of Red's hand with a force that is wholly unnecessary for the limp opponent in her grip.

And Elsa shouldn't be surprised. She shouldn't be hurt. Her chest shouldn't burn with betrayal. But when Red's flames end and Ameeil falls headless towards the ground, Elsa feels her heart breaking all over again.

How many times can Arson destroy her life before the truth sets in?

Red's head tips to the sky and she puts her hands on her hips. Then she's standing beside Elsa in the same position, and Elsa's too numb to extract herself from melee range.

"I don't feel better," Red mutters, more to herself than anyone else. She turns her head to the side and stares into the ocean with a contemplative expression. "I thought I'd at least feel—I'm not . . . fuck, what a mess."

For the first time in a long time Elsa gives Red a once over. Besides the discolouration of her eyes, there's a distinct lack of malice in her posture. It's obvious she still craves violence, but it's like the act of actively seeking it is no longer appealing to her.

Emma takes a few steps forward despite the defensiveness of her posture. "Rho's promise about Alpha, do you honour that?"

That's a strange question to ask when Red is just a temporary—

Elsa's thoughts stutter to a halt. If Emma has the power to suppress Red and she's not exercising it, what does that mean? Is Emma simply unwilling, or is there nothing she can do?

Red shrugs but shows no other sign of emotion. "Yeah. Seems fun." She dissipates the rest of her armour, stuffs her hands in her pockets, and turns to Elsa. "I suggest you give Reeves and Poseidon orders to stand down. I'd rather not kill them, but I will if they attack me."

It's a trick, is Elsa's first thought. Her second is: if Red really wanted us dead, we'd be dead.

Fighting Hades, an equally terrifying foe, was . . . he was different. The League had Rho as the heavy hitter and Archangel on support. Against Red—a being with no inclinations against using finishing moves right off the bat, and with Emma wholly unwilling to fight—the League's defense is nothing but wet paper.

Elsa connects to her comm and says, "This is Blizzard. Hades is taken care of and no other threats remain. Regroup at base."

"More Goats are inbound," Red murmurs. She taps her forehead when Elsa sends her a skeptical glance. "Chel tells me. We have a quarter of an hour, perhaps." She scowls and starts muttering to herself. None of it is loud enough to hear, and she stalks off to sit heavily on a small dune of sand.

Emma's features tighten and she leans in until her lips almost touch Elsa's ear. "The name I'm getting from her with information vision—" She pauses and looks over, as if to confirm something. Her shoulders slump and she turns her head back. "I think the brain damage was more extensive than we gave it credit for."

Elsa clenches her hands into fists and tries not to grind her teeth into stumps. "You're trying to tell me Rho's gone, aren't you?"

The question appears to age Emma by a decade. "She never existed. Anna's mind was so fractured—I don't know how to describe it, but I think Rho was Anna. Now, though . . . her brain is dark, Blizzard. I think this is all that's left."

The implication is clear. Chel is the only thing keeping Red moving around, which means Chel somehow saved part of Red before the organic form faded completely.

It leaves an easy solution: shut off the AI. But the idea doesn't settle well with Elsa. As monstrous as Red is, there's a mellow edge to her now that's so palpable Elsa can almost touch it. What happened when Anna's brain stopped? "Is she dying?"

Emma frowns and rubs the back of her neck. "You should talk to her. I'll collect the others."

Elsa doesn't even have a chance to process the words before the other hero disappears without so much as a goodbye. Great. Leave me alone with the sociopath. She runs a hand down her face, takes a moment to breathe, and walks over the sand. Most of it has turned into glass.

Elsa pauses behind Red to look at Hive Queen's body. She expects there to be a pool of blood underneath it, but it's just a headless corpse with scorched and melted armour and cauterized wounds. Somehow, it's more disturbing than the gore she was expecting.

With a soft sigh through her nose, Elsa takes those last few steps and sits beside the woman who's been the cause of too many night terrors to count.

She doesn't know what to say at first. Memories of burning cities assault her brain, the screaming and scent of burning flesh, and out of that hell walks a monster with eyes burning as red as the fresh blood dripping from her armour.

All the times she's bolted awake in the dead of night, gasping for air and clutching at her chest with tears soaking her cheeks; all because of this nightmare of a woman beside her. How does she even broach a conversation with someone who's single-handedly destroyed her faith in heroes?

Red doesn't look like she knows how to handle the situation, either. She glances over out of the corner of her eye, frowns, and hunches forward until her elbows rest on her knees.

It's such a contrary reaction to what Elsa expects that she finds herself laughing. After everything she's been through today; after all the goodbyes she made and Ambassadors she slaughtered, Red awkwardly sitting next to her on a glassed beach is too much to bear.

The tears come soon after. Sobbing, hiccupping laughter bellows out of Elsa's mouth, as if it can numb the pain in her mind. Dull the images. Silence the screams.

She feels the mental pressure crash into her emotions with a heat her powers can't regulate. It burns through her senses until she can't feel what her fingers touch and all she can taste is ash. It makes her brain skip and her cackling switch to wails of despair when suddenly all she knows are the surprised faces of impaled Ambassadors and an insistent feeling of being wrong.

The battle was wrong. The death was wrong. Her taking someone else's life for the first time is wrong.

Elsa drops her head in her hands and screams. She had promised herself that she would be better, that she would somehow leave the world a healthier place without abandoning her morals. But she did, didn't she? She bent to Rho's conviction the same way Anna bent to the Old Elites, and for what? People still died en masse, the world is in chaos, and she's nothing more than a fractured meta tacked onto a long legacy of broken heroes.

In the end, is she any better than the Arson who fell from grace?

It takes a long time for her tears to stop, for her stomach to stop threatening to upheave everything she hasn't eaten. When she finally finds the energy to lift her head, she notices Red staring at her.

A smile overtakes Red that has an oddly comforting quality to it. "I could have killed you at least a thousand different ways." There's no animosity in her tone, which would have shocked Elsa if she didn't feel like her insides were just shown the express tour of an active blender.

"I might have paid you to try a few of them."

Red's features harden and the muscles in her jaw jump. She tsks before breaking eye contact. "I hate that I can't accept that offer."

Can't. It echoes in Elsa's head until that word is louder than the phantom sounds of Ambassadors choking on their own blood. "Shame. Feels like you could save me a lot of pain with a swift beheading."

Reaper's scythe hisses into existence under a tight cloud of black smoke, and Red holds the tip of it to Elsa's throat. Elsa feels her soul, or essence, or whatever makes her her tug unnaturally towards the blade, but she's not as scared as she thought she'd be while flirting with death.

A soft hum vibrates in Red's throat and she stabs the butt of the weapon into the glass in front of her. She holds the ghastly weapon with the only hand she can as she leans forward to rest a shoulder against the shaft. "You have a habit of trusting my restraint when you have no proof I have any."

An image of recklessly confronting Arson about her parents makes Elsa bark a broken laugh. "Maybe I'm just tired of—" of what? Living? Stress? Cleaning up messes? She never finds the words she wants and lets her unfinished sentence hang in the air like a noose.

Red bobs her head in a shallow nod, then she tilts her head to the sky. "Are you up for one more game of whack-a-mole?"

Elsa doesn't dare look up. "Are they here?"

"Soon." Red's free hand flexes. The metal catches the sun and glints into Elsa's eye. "I was eager to slaughter them before killing Ameeil, but—well, now I suspect it won't feel all that rewarding. No excitement. No thrill. I might as well drink Juon and shag a terrified prostitute. At least then I'll be entertained."

The idea of Red sauntering up to a wide-eyed street-walker with a drunk stagger to her step is enough to make Elsa snort. She tries to cover her smile with a hand, but she knows Red sees it when the corners of her eyes crinkle in amusement.

Elsa rubs her mouth with a groan. "What does it say about me that I actually find you funny?"

Red's expression falls as if she were hit by a torpedo. Her jaw works as if she were literally chewing the words she wants to say. After a moment the scythe goes up in smoke and Red stands with her metal hands clenched into fists. "You never answered my question. Did you want to join this round?"

No, is what Elsa wants to say. She wants to scream it at the top of her lungs while scooping out her eyes for Red to burn, but at the end of the day she's still in charge of the League. Arson didn't abandon that mantle even when the villain label was slapped across her chest, and Elsa can't find it in her to shed the responsibility, either.

Her bones feel leaden as she pushes to her feet and offers her hand to Red. "To going above what was ever expected of us."

Red's eyes widen in what might be surprise, but it changes into smug satisfaction too quickly to tell. She takes the offered hand and jerks it in one solid shake. "You're putting a lot of trust in me."

"Haven't you already put your trust in me?"

Red glares, but it soon softens into irritation. "You know, don't you?"

That you're not just Red? That much is clear. "You aren't crushing my hand and cackling while I scream. Pretty obvious." Something Emma mentioned before leaving comes back to Elsa, and she tilts her head. "The only thing I'm not sure of is what you want to be called."

A thoughtful expression overtakes Red. It must be weird for her, the split personality who never got a proper name of her own—

"I suppose it'd be Red Anna, technically. Red's fine, though."

—Or perhaps she doesn't give a shit. That makes sense.

Red's head snaps up, her sharp eyes focusing in a way that makes dread pool in Elsa's stomach. "Gear up. I'll throw you into their command centers once they're in orbit."

Elsa releases Red's hand and summons her icy armour. Red summons her own armour, a strange mix of her demon-verse set and what she wore as Rho.

"I like the cape," Red says when she catches Elsa staring. There's no voice modulator in this model, allowing Red's normal voice to ring out crisp, clear, and commanding.

Elsa grins despite the nervousness fluttering in her stomach. "It fits. They're unwieldy, just like you."

Red's shoulders shudder with a low laugh. "At least I can still manage that." She rolls her shoulders and bounces on the balls of her feet. Under her breath, she murmurs: "Three. Two. One."

It isn't nearly enough time. Elsa finds herself longing for more time with just her and Red, staring out into the ocean and wishing everything were different.

Then her sense of balance shifts and she's standing in the middle of dozens of Ambassador officers. She flash freezes the whole room before she can doubt herself. Her stomach turns at the faces forever frozen in surprised terror and she whips around to face the view screen before she can puke. But what she sees makes her heart drop into her stomach.

"Red," she says without connecting to her comm. She suspects Chel is always monitoring it anyway. "Are they part of the refugee retreat?"

It's a redundant question, she knows. The three ships are very clearly League heavy cruisers, and they're all suffering from major structural faults.

"Assistance!" It's roared through Elsa's comm loud enough that she almost rips it out. "Internal systems damaged! Life support failing!"

Elsa's eyes widen. She recognizes that voice. "We're here, Crossroads. Upkeep evasive maneuvers as long as you can." Without disconnecting from the line, she yells, "Red! Teleport me!"

She doesn't hesitate to let loose a flurry of ice shards when she finds herself on the bridge of a new ship. "Again!" She drops her new surroundings into ultimate zero. "Again!"

Adrenaline and terror sing in her veins with an intensity that makes bile burn at the back of her throat and her powers react on muscle memory alone. "Again!"


Red is teleporting between gunner stations too quickly to enjoy the pain of any individual Goat, but she finds her spirits rising the higher her death toll climbs. Anna's complete distaste for this species is almost a godsend for Red's turbulent ethics.

Besides Chel's insistence of making Red painfully aware of Elsa's location and all active Ambassador weapons systems, Red could almost call this fun.

"Ships entering Earth's atmosphere," Mulan says. "We require piloting assistance. Is there anyone available?"

"We've got you," Emma replies. Then, on a personal line, she adds, "I need a top-up, Red."

'I'm a little fucking busy' hangs on the tip of Red's tongue, but the idea of stating the obvious is revolting. She punches through the skull of a nearby Goat and ignites an explosion in the payload storage chamber behind him. She teleports to the next location before she can appreciate the fallout.

That's when she feels the thump thump thump of cannons firing under her feet.

Then over three quarters of the networks Chel's connected to disappear.

For a moment Red stands still in the middle of living targets, feeling only the hammering of her own heart and an oily feeling of dread. She waves her hand when the Goats aim weapons at her and sets them all on fire, but even as she stays to hear their shrieks and see their flailing, she can't stop focusing on that silence.

She swallows the thick lump in her throat and teleports to the bridge. She takes her time tearing each of the officers limb from limb before she finally allows herself to stop and glance at the display.

Red closes her eyes and sits heavily in the captain's chair.

"Red, come on! Again!"

Elsa's earnestness is enough to bring tears to Red's eyes. No wonder Anna always wanted to kill herself, she's too damn sensitive.

"Blizzard," Red murmurs in a dead tone. "Look outside."

The answer doesn't come right away, but when it does Red almost wishes it were impossible to hear it.

". . . Gone."

Red opens her eyes and stares, once more, at the destruction floating before her. At the bits of League ships shattered across space. At the bodies floating among the wreckage. At the demolished planet spanning the landscape behind it.

"Gone," Red repeats. She teleports Elsa to her location while grabbing the cuff of the beheaded second-in-command and tosses them to the floor like a ragdoll. "Take a seat."

To Elsa's credit, she doesn't question the carnage and sits without hesitation.

For a long time they just stay like that, stuck in their own thoughts. Or, in Red's case, stuck monitoring the process of Chel hacking into every ship in the Ambassador fleet and turning off the life support. It's a slow process, but a satisfying one.

Seconds. That's all it took between arrival and this. If the first wave had released that payload then no one at all would have been left standing. Not that it really matters in the end.

Elsa holds the armrest in a death grip. Ice creeps over the metal surface with an ominous hiss. "Did anyone—" Her voice breaks and she leans back with enough force to crack the backrest. "Anyone?"

If Red had heeded Emma's request for power then perhaps she would have survived, too, but no one else stood a chance against that volley. Not when they had no warning.

Red flips an armoured palm upwards and offers it in the yawning distance between her and the winter meta. "We're here," is the answer she offers instead.

Elsa places her hand in Red's. "That's not what I asked."

"I know."

With a shuddering breath, Elsa's armour dissipates to show her tear-streaked cheeks and haunted eyes. "It's just us, isn't it?"

Red de-summons her own armour and offers an empty smile as she watches a body tumble past the screen. "I'm sorry." Under different circumstances, under her original morals, she would have considered this a win. It doesn't feel like that now.

Elsa doesn't break down like Red expects her to, but that may be the sheer enormity of the sight before her. Not everyone has experience with the destruction of planets, and the only Elite that knew what it was like to lose her own planet is dead. Just like everyone else.

Elsa sucks in a quivering breath through her nose. "What now?"

Good question. Red can't go after her Father without Emma backing her, and that was her only goal after she'd dealt with this mess. "That's up to you." There's never been a time in her life when she didn't have a plan or a path, and she's not sure how to deal with its absence.

Elsa squeezes Red's hand, which she can only tell by the soft sound of shifting metal. "I think . . . I think I'd just like to sit here for a bit."

Red nods because she doesn't have any better ideas, and screw ambling around the ship by herself amidst the corpses. Not that the bridge is any better with all the blood and dismembered bodies, but it hasn't become putrid yet. Red can deal with it until then.

She glances past the debris, past the clumps of ocean, past the chunks of earth and stares into the sun. Her eyes adjust the same way they always do when she uses her own powers. It's easier looking at that inferno that allowed life to thrive, than the graveyard it illuminates now.

It's over now. A grudge five years in the making. Anna lived her life as a villain—in a living hell—to stop the Ambassadors from controlling Earth. In a way, Red supposes she succeeded. And now it's over.

It's over.


A/N: This is the firm ending with no cliff-hangers to allow for peace of mind during the long wait ahead. There is a second half to this chapter that is only accessible through Discord, available to those who are gluttons for punishment. Code: rA9UKwZ