(AN/Hey folks it's Garouge/Crewefox here with chapter 30 of The Broken Mirror. I know this over a week late but I've had to care for family members with cancer lately. Thank you for your lovely messages of support and all the hugs from the TAS dev team. So without further ado let's get cracking with this chapter...)
Chapter 30- No More
"What the hell is that?" Mage asked, scrunching up his face. The Wolf and Viv Vision had just walked through a sling-ring portal into the wartime era Wilson station. In the offices of this station, Team Harry's Collosus, Laura, Spiderman, Snowguard and Bullet were stood around a few modern workstations that encircled what looked like a huge metal bowl with a multitude of cables running from it and plugged into highly advanced generators.
"We were hoping you could tell us." Snowguard replied, the mystic was sat on a nearby swivel chair.
"I'll run a diagnostic and try to identify what this machine actually is." Viv informed, the synthezoid held out her hand and began to scan the device "Have you found anything else?"
"I have been looking through the files but they seem to be written in a code." Collosus said, the metal mutant was flicking through some papers.
"I should've got to Ronin, we could've forced her to give us the ciphers." Laura tutted, wiping Doombot oil off her claws.
"Wait, Ronin was here?" Mage asked, sounding concerned.
"Yeah but Bullet totally kicked her butt." Spiderman answered, fist bumping the gunslinger.
"But you were the one who saved my tail." Bullet praised before sighing "But she got away. At least you caught Taskmaster."
"You caught that douchebag!?" A pissed off voice asked. Everyone looked to the doorway of the office to see the four members of Team Dick; Ms Marvel, Brawn, Scarlet and the foul-mouthed Rocket, walking through the door into the 1940s office. "Where is that skull masked prick? I want to introduce my gun to his junk." Rocket asked gruffly.
"Safe and sound." Mage grinned holding up the card emblazioned with the merc's likeness.
"No way." Scarlet gawped, fascinated by the magic.
"Shame, I wanted to personally thank him for nearly blowing us up." Ms Marvel huffed, cracking her knuckles.
"Blow you up?" Bullet worried, hurrying over to Scarlet and gripping her paws.
"No big deal, just a sword to the chest, y'know normal stuff." Scarlet smoothed over, kissing her wife on the cheek.
"But the bomb was a big deal, if Rocket hadn't disarmed it every train tunnel from here to New York would've been aflame." Brawn grimaced, holding onto the now deactivated bomb.
"Doctor Doom's mercenaries were trying to burn away all the evidence, even if that meant innocent lives were lost." Snowguard deduced.
"I just can't wait for Alice to interrogate ol' Taskmaster, he must know a way to get onto The Cauldron." Rocket thought out loud before looking at the odd bowl-shaped machine in the centre of the room "What the hell is that?"
"That's what I asked." Mage mumbled.
"It is an energy dampening device." Viv answered, lowering her hand.
"Meaning?" Laura prompted.
"This was where the portal was but to make sure it wasn't discovered these dampeners made sure SHIELD or Princess Shuri's scanners couldn't detect it." Brawn hypothesised.
"Can these computers open up the rift?" Scarlet asked Viv with hope.
"Impossible, I'm afraid." Viv answered, her voice stained with disappointment "Without the power source for the rifts we will not-"
The crack of the air stopped Viv's words, the heroes staggered back as a sphere of purple cloud emerged above the bowl. "Is that what I think it is?" Spiderman questioned, his eyes growing wide under his mask.
"The purple cloud! Get ready!" Scarlet shouted, retrieving her telescopic baton from her belt and extending it.
A few seconds later everybody in the room was poised to fight whatever came through the rift, but when a metal coated caracal landed at their feet everyone was left confused. The gentle Collosus asked the panting metal boy "Are you ok?"
"Wha?" The boy sounded, looking around him with amazement and fear, but as soon as he saw Bullet and Scarlet he exclaimed "Ceartais!?"
"Jason? Jason Alonso?" Scarlet gasped, lowering her baton.
"Hummingbird!" Jason yelled his fur returning to its normal state, hugging and latching onto Scarlet "Hummingbird! Hummingbird! It's Zoe's codeword!"
"Zoe? You saw Zoe?!" Scarlet nearly laughed with joy.
"What about a wolf called Clara?" Mage asked anxiously, stepping towards Scarlet cradling the frightened kid.
Then his answer came. Another figure fell through the rift, Mage lurched forward and caught the body, a form of amazing purple and green lights but soon the light faded, Mage's voice was chained as he saw the green eyes of the elemental form faded to a warm brown framed by black framed glasses. "Kodi?" Clara whispered.
Mage wanted to be cool, to be suave but he couldn't contain his feelings. He wrapped Clara in a hug, his voice was choked by tears as he said, "Hey you."
The tender moment was ruined by a crass tone of Rocket "Were you just on The Cauldron!?"
Clara seemed perplexed by the strange looking creatures around her but focused on the racoon asking the question "Uh, yeah." she replied, still reeling from her inter dimensional journey.
"That's all I needed to hear!" Rocket grinned, cocking his rifle before jumping into the rift.
"Rocket!" Ms Marvel snapped in shock, a second later the rift closed.
"Um...Is that bad?" Laura queried, noticing that Clara was staring at her with half fear/ half astonishment.
"Are...Are these mutants?" Clara asked with confusion, still hugging tightly onto her boyfriend.
Rocket didn't know what to expect jumping into the rift, but he didn't care if, it got him one step closer to Tazerface he didn't care if he was stepping through the gates of hell itself. Rocket landed on his feet, feeling the familiar sensation of artificial gravity take hold of his body, his experience of space travel didn't allow him to be overwhelmed, he had his gun ready to fire in his paws. Rocket immediately recognised the person in front of him, there was no mistaking Doctor Doom. The tyrant had a unknown bat pinned against the wall while the familiar figure of the Nightcrawler was chained to an upright operating table, Rocket didn't know what he had just walked into but that didn't faze him, he fired a laser blast from the kree rifle right above Doom's head, the villain flinched and released the pressure on the captive flying fox, who saw her chance and swiftly zipped out of the room with a flap of her wings. "Who dares shoots at Doom!?" Doctor Doom bellowed, angry that the soldier had escaped once again.
"One pissed off bounty hunter, how ya' doing Doomy?" Rocket sassed.
"The Guardian's pet." Doom hissed, looking down at the bounty hunter "This day keeps serving up disappointment after disappointment."
"Well you'll be happy to know I'm not here for you, I want ya' pilot." Rocket responded, not intimidated by the towering ruler.
"Tazerface? That lowlife?" Doom simmered, wondering how many ways he could make the hero cry out in pain.
"The very same. Now you know the damage I can do to this rust bucket you call a ship, so hand over Tazerface, put The Cauldron up on autopilot and I'll be on my merry way." Rocket bargained confidently.
"And what makes you think Doom would grant your request?" Doom asked back.
"Cos' I've got a big ol' firework here and you don't want it going off." Rocket answered with a grin, holding up a homemade magnetic explosive.
"Rocket!?" Nightcrawler gasped, surprised by the space fairing hero's threat.
"You have courage for one so small, but bravery is often mistaken for stupidity." Doom spoke while waving his hand, suddenly Rocket's makeshift weapon was in his hand.
"What the!?" Rocket barked, looking at his empty paw.
"Technology is a fantastic tool but magic is the original weapon." Doom replied, walking towards the unwelcome intruder.
"Ah crap." Rocket uttered, trying to scramble for his rifle.
Doom lifted Rocket by the scruff and tossed away the kree rifle "This day might not be all lost after all, Doom's got a Guardian of the Galaxy and one of Captain Marvel's best friends as a hostage." He then cast a sleeping spell on the thrashing mammal, causing the hero's body to go limp.
Agent Phil Coulson was the first to learn the bad news, the SHIELD agent had been looking at a bank of CCTV monitors observing the battle in the rail yard that was winding down to a close when a subordinate had come up to him saying the words he never thought he'd hear "Captain America is dead." Coulson felt numb, the hero he had grown idolising, the hero had a complete set of vintage trading cards of, the hero he had the pleasure of calling a friend was gone. His body was on auto pilot as he called The Avengers on the mission to tell the grim news, Coulson arrived at the subway station just as Iron Man and Captain Marvel landed outside the station, by the time as the three had gotten down to the platform Black Panther had come sprinting through an adjacent tunnel and had leapt onto the platform.
"Where is Rogers!?" Black Panther panted, worried for his old friend.
"Train JS13..." Iron Man answered, sounding shaken.
"Easy guys, keep a level head, we don't know if Andi is still on that train, she could have Luna has hostage." Captain Marvel reasoned, despite her own dread.
Coulson looked over at the stopped train, local Jersey City cops and paramedics were tending to the traumatised passengers. Coulson walked toward a police Sargent comforting an upset passenger and asked "I'm sorry to interrupt but is there anyone else on that train?"
"Just that fox woman, she won't leave Cap's body...everyone's saying she was trying to stop the bleeding, that red head got 'im with an arrow." The Seargent answered, her eyes showing her shock and her voice strained.
"No." Black Panther breathed, his vibranium nanite mask fading away.
"Come on." Captain Marvel beckoned, leading her fellow Avengers, plus Coulson, onto the train.
Captain Marvel was no stranger to death, she was an air force colonel and been a hero for too long not to lose fellow heroes and friends but when she saw Captain America's lifeless body her heart flared up with the same sadness and loss she had felt too many occasions through her life but it was Iron Man who gave the grief words "Oh god..."
Black Panther took in the whole scene, he saw the arrow protruding through Cap's throat despite the entirety of his skin been stained crimson with blood. A beaten, wheezing and weeping Luna was on her knees beside the fallen soldier, her paws and uniform caked in blood. "Luna." Black Panther said, approaching the vixen as calmly as possible.
"I tried to stop...but the blood, it just..." Luna wept, her crying amber eyes fixed on Cap's face.
"All the reports said you both saved lives." Black Panther consoled, kneeling beside Luna and taking hold of the vixen.
"But I didn't save his!" Luna snapped, not at T'Challa, but at herself.
Iron Man flipped up the front of his helmet looked down at his friend of nearly twenty years, he took a knee and used his fingers to shut Captain America's eyes "Damn it Steve, I thought you'd outlive us all." Tony choked on his words, unable to mask his sadness.
"I hesitated. Andi was right, I could've stopped this happening." Luna cried, replaying the altercation in head, over and over.
"Luna this isn't on you, we heard the witness reports over the radio." Captain Marvel tried to comfort but imagined it wouldn't do much good.
"We need to get him out of here and tell the other teams." Coulson said, trying to keep professional despite his feelings "They'll probably transport his body to Washington, lay him in state."
"Steve wouldn't want that." Captain Marvel corrected, picking up Cap's shield off the floor and placing it on his chest "He's a Brooklyn boy, we're taking him home."
The newly freed Clara and Jason stuck close to the mammals of Team Ceartais, despite the physicist being familiar with the blue mutant Kurt Wagner she couldn't help but wary of these strange looking creatures. Neither of the newly arrived mammals understood the conversations that were transpiring around them; Captain America killed by Andi, Doombots defeated in the railyard, Taskmaster and Kraven in SHIELD custody, all these words were a foreign to them as this world they found themselves in. Jason had latched onto Clara and hardly spoke a word as they were led to a fleet of SUVs by the sullen Team Ceartais and The Champions.
Ceartais and The Champions arrived back at the SHIELD owned apartment building, the traumatised Luna had rushed into the building first being closely followed by Scarlet, the sisters getting in a separate elevator to the others. "Is Andraste ok?" Clara asked anxiously, she had only caught a glance of the archer but she had noticed the large amounts of blood staining her outfit.
"Uh, no." Kodi answered, taking off his domino mask "We lost a friend today."
"Oh..." Clara sounded, unsure of how to react.
"But don't worry about that now, you're safe, Jason's safe and we're one step closer to rescuing everyone." Bullet eased the professor's worries.
"Coulson told us we'll debrief tomorrow, everyone...everyone needs to process what happened to Cap." Ms Marvel told Clara "Tonight you just rest up."
"You finally got your girlfriend back," Snowguard smiled sadly at Kodi "Cap would count that as a win."
The sound of a crying sniff caught everyone's attention, the source of the sound was Spiderman "Um, listen I'm going to the head back home for tonight, my parents have been texting me like crazy." he tried to distract.
"Spidey it's ok to cry, we're all hurting." Brawn assured, his own expression was weighted by sadness.
"I know, but I just want to see my parents." Spiderman waved off, before firing off a web and zipping down the street.
"Whoa." Jason murmured, amazed by the webslinger.
"Is that sort of thing normal in this dimension?" Clara queried.
"Pretty much, it's kind of nice that we're not the only freaks here." Kion shrugged, the lion had returned to his normal size.
There was a rumble of thunder that echoed through the skies of Manhattan just as the rain began to fall "Let's get inside." Spitfire suggested, guiding the group into the apartment building.
While the teams rode up in the elevators, Kion looked down at Jason and smiled "Jason, I know you've been through a lot today and you've been so brave but I promise it's going to be ok."
The young caracal was gripping Clara's paw tightly, he was fidgety and nervous as he replied "But all my friends are on that ship."
"Not all of them." Kion responded, the doors to their floor opened and he added "There is one friend that has really missed you."
Bullet walked forward and opened the door for the others, they were greeted with the sight of an upset Scarlet explaining the situation to bewildered looking Arthur. For the first time in an hour Jason let go of Clara's paw, he bounded into the apartment cheering "Arthur!"
"Jason!?" Arthur gasped, crouching down and opening his arms.
"You're alive!" Jason celebrated hugging onto his friend.
"I can't believe it." Arthur breathed, hugging the child back "You were always a survivor."
The heroes took some comfort out of this reunion, they had lost an ally and friend today but two lives had been saved, one of them a child, this was a hollow victory but a victory none the less. Before Arthur could ask any questions, the sound of rushed footsteps from down the hallway leading to the bedrooms was heard "Luna, come back and talk to me!" Alice's voice pleaded.
"This won't take long!" Luna cried, storming out of the hall, dressed in her blood stained uniform with a sports bag slung across her shoulder.
"Luna?" Spitfire called after, but Luna barged by the mech and out the door.
"Mon Amour!" Alice fretted, hurrying after her wife only to be stopped by a hug from her sister-in-law.
"Lu needs to do this on her own, Alice." Scarlet soothed, the red clad heroine fully aware of what her big sister was about to do.
"But she's upset, she needs to be with you and me, we can comfort her." Alice worried aloud.
"She told me Cap gave her some advice this morning, she's taking it." Scarlet said, looking out the door and hoped her sister's mental state wasn't about to fracture once more.
Luna was very aware of the concerned looks she was getting from the SHIELD agents stationed throughout the building, she knew she looked an emotional wreck because that's exactly how she felt. But she needed to do this, she couldn't save Steve Rogers but she swore to avenge him and this was the first step. As soon as the elevator doors opened up on the ground floor Luna hurried by the SHIELD agents guarding the lobby, when she stepped outside she found the rumbles of thunder had transformed into a downpour of rain. The droplets were bouncing off the pavement as normal citizens rushed by for shelter, but Luna didn't care about the rain even though she was getting drenched, she walked around the building and into an alley and found what she was looking for; a trash can. "No more." Luna cried, lifting the lid of the metal trash can "No more excuses, no more being scared, no more shame." The archer then unzipped the sports bag, within was her spare Andraste uniform in case the one she was wearing was damaged and stuffed it into the garbage. Luna then took a deep breath and set her bow down on the ground before unsheathing her daggers and tossing them in the trash, she then removed her leather pants leaving her in a pair of athletic shorts, she then took off her jacket not caring that she was only stood in a black sports bra and flung into the bin. Luna looked at the bow on the ground and considered if she should throw it away but it was a gift from her late grandfather, she wasn't giving this up. She picked up the bow and walked away, throwing her domino mask over her shoulder, it missed the bin and landed in a puddle "I am Andraste, no more."
(AN/DUN DUN DUN! Luna quits her Andraste persona! PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE Review! Next time on The Broken Mirror; Kodi and Clara catch up, Doom plans his counterattack, Rocket meets the prisoners, Luna gains a new ally and heroes gather to pay their respects to Captain America. Please Review and C YA soon!)