(AN/Hey Folks it's Garouge/Crewefox here's another chapter of The Broken Mirror. Damn writer's block was a bane this week, but thank you for all your reviews and messages you've sent me. And as always I'd love to thank my dev team who help me create new chapters. So without further ado let's cracking with this chapter...)
Chapter 35- Hunting buddy.
Ronin and Andi had separated when the escaped their botched attack on the SHIELD safehouse, out of the dozen rendezvous points Andi had set up across Manhattan she chose the one that was closest to a bridge off the island and eastbound towards Queens. The meeting point was a junk yard centre run by people with very little scruples, for a fee criminals could stash vehicles here or dispose of them if needs be and the fact they didn't use security cameras was an added bonus. Andi had arrived at the yard first, finding a very average looking sedan that was stashed there earlier and opened the trunk. Andi tossed her bow in, along with her quiver and daggers then took out a change of civilian clothes to get dressed into. As she unlaced her emerald green bodice, Ronin jumped over the fence of the junkyard and walked towards her wife. "Do you mind telling me what the hell you were playing at back there?" Andi asked coldly, taking off her bodice and quickly putting on a t-shirt.
"I...I lost focus." Ronin replied, sounding ashamed.
"Yeah, no shit." Andi said, still cold "And why? Because you saw a knocked up rabbit."
"I reacted badly, I know but there's no changing that now." Ronin mumbled, removing her various weapons and putting them in the trunk of the car.
"I get why you were upset but why did you go so off plan?" Andi asked, sounding vexed. Getting out of her leather trousers and replacing it with a pair of shorts.
"When I saw that bunny I...I remembered everything we've lost." Ronin answered, her shoulders slumped "Every time you held my hand, every time the doctors told us what we already knew, every time I screamed in agony. I was envious, I was angry and I reacted on impulse...I'm sorry."
"Lover." Andi sighed, her icy demeanour melting as she stepped over and held her much shorter spouse close "I never want you to relive those memories."
"Five miscarriages, I never even got to feel them kick." Ronin began to whimper, holding onto Andi tightly "Yet that rabbit has what we can never have, it's not fair!"
"Hush, now." Andi soothed, rocking Ronin slightly "Look things have been rough for us, I can't have kids because of being shot too many times and you just have bad luck when it comes to pregnancy but we WILL have a family. As soon as we complete this assignment for Doctor Doom and we're set up in Latveria we'll adopt as many children as we want and give them the childhood you never had."
Ronin was quietly crying and took comfort in her lover's embrace "I'm so sorry, Andi."
"It'll be ok we just have to smooth it over with-" Andi began to answer but was interrupted by the ringtone coming from Ronin's phone, both killers knowing who it was that was calling "Doom."
"If we ignore it he won't think twice about killing us." Ronin told Andi and herself, she retrieved the phone from one of the pockets of her sneaking suit and placed it on the ground,
Both women knelt out of respect with their heads bowed as the custom phone's hologram projector flickered into life showing Doctor Doom, stood with his arms crossed and his eyes glaring down at the assassins "Doom is furious." he said with ironic calm.
"We beg your forgiveness, Lord Doom." Andi spoke up first.
"Fourteen dead SHIELD workers, scores injured but not a single self righteous hero among them, most notably that cursed wolf Bloom, Doom was promised her hide but instead you offer apologies and bowed heads." Doom bristled.
"The fault lies with me, M'Lord. I failed to control the drones properly." Ronin grovelled with a half truth.
"Doom saw the footage; shoddy work that tarnishes both your reputation and the might of Latvaria. If you weren't required for the remainder of the plan Doom would organise torture to educate on how to properly execute your missions." Doom threatened "But there is no time to dwell on your failure; Ronin head back to where you've been hiding and await further instructions, maybe it will give you time to appreciate Doom's seldom given mercy."
"I am not worthy, M'Lord." Ronin replied quickly, breathing a sigh of relief that she would not be killed for her mistake.
"Andi, go check on Dr. McCoy. Make sure the Beast is working to schedule, Doom has selected a new prisoner to extract powers from." Doom instructed.
"Yes, M'Lord." Andi obeyed, grateful the conversation went so well as Doom cut the connection and the projection vanished.
Despite the fourteen souls lost and despite parts of the building missing, the SHIELD safehouse was still standing. The heroes let the emergency services and outside SHIELD operatives come and begin the clean-up operation while the remaining heroes huddled in the lab and it didn't take long for the team to figure out how Ronin and Andi had tracked them down.
Jason was sat in a chair, with his mouth wide open with Arthur close by and Brawn holding a tray with some very small tools on it. "I got it!" A voice cheered from within Jason's mouth, a few seconds later Wasp strolled across Jason's tongue holding a incredibly small silver piece of metal shaped like circle, she flew off the tongue and returned to her normal size "Ladies and Gentleman, we have a latvarian tech tracker."
"That thing was attached to my tooth?" Jason asked, spooked by this revelation.
"Yeah, it's my fault for not sweeping you and Clara for bugs when you came through the rift." Wasp criticized herself, putting the tiny tools back on the tray Brawn was holding.
"So I'm the reason..." Jason began to talk, sounding sullen.
"You weren't the reason this happened Jason," Brawn assured, put the tray down on a workbench "Ronin and Andi would've found this place anyway, SHIELD has a lot of leaks lately."
"Jason." Scarlet's voice called over, she was holding a bucket of KFC "Have some of this and cheer yourself up?"
"'Kay." The Caracal responded, hopping off the chair and going over to the hybrid.
"Poor kid, he's been through hell and back. Just when he thinks he's safe, this happens." Brawn said quietly, his tone caught between sympathy and guilt.
Wasp looked at Jason interact with Scarlet and Bullet, the new mothers were trying their best to make the child comfortable but something seemed off to her "Arthur, how old is Jason?" she looked to the wolf.
"Twelve." Arthur answered, still feeling groggy from Ronin's poison.
"Really?" Wasp asked instantly, Brawn shared his teammate's baffled look "I thought he was younger, he doesn't act like a twelve year old."
Arthur nodded in agreement before elaborating "Jason's had a bit of a rocky childhood from what I've learned, when he was younger he had leukaemia. Anyway he missed a lot of school years and when he finally beat it he joined grades where he was nearly four years older than his classmates."
"And now I feel even more sorry for the kid." Brawn mumbled.
"This is mental!" The excited voice of Olivia cackled from the centre of the lab.
"Olivia, have some respect." Iron Heart hushed "People have died."
"Sorry, sorry. But you've got to admit these readings are insane." Olivia made an excuse, using her tablet to display data from Arthur's sword which was placed on a diagnostics table with multiple scanners running over it with Viv assessing the weapon as well.
Arthur walked over to the lab table, his muscles still twinging with pain after the battle, "So, what have you found out about it?" he asked the group.
"Well as an scientist, this simultaneously scares the living crap out of me while also make me excited as a wee child on Christmas morning." Olivia answered, reaching into her pockets and pulling out a rodent sized chocolate bar to feast on.
"What's frightening about it?" Wasp questioned, shrinking down to Olivia's size and standing next to her on the lab table so she could take a look at the data.
"The energy emitted from the sword is similar to Arthur's powers, it seems to be able to control particles." Viv answered.
"So I'm not stopping stuff with my mind, I'm manipulating the energy and particles around me?" Arthur asked, sounding unsure.
"If these readings are to be believed, yes." Viv confirmed "Which in itself is extremely worrying."
"The ability to manipulate particles, someone could do a lot of damage with that. I guess Doctor Doom isn't that smart after all if he thought your powers weren't useful." Brawn commented, slapping Arthur on the back.
"What gets me is the whole pendant going into your chest and magically growing a sword out of your chest." Iron Heart griped.
"What's to get? It's magic, I mean we've seen Snowguard and Mage do some crazy shit." Olivia replied in between bites of her chocolate bar.
"That sword isn't completely magic, someone engineered this thing with some pretty advanced science.." Iron Heart said firmly, pointing at the weapon.
"Really?" Arthur asked, surprised.
"It's got circuitry and code embedded in it, like someone programmed it for a specific purpose. Plus the materials are so vastly varied it doesn't make sense; it's part adamantium, vibranium, the stuff that goes into Nova corp tech and even Uru is in that thing. Those materials are from opposite ends of the universe to each other and yet someone or a group of people gathered them and made this." Iron Heart ranted, leaning on Brawn's arm and resting her head on his muscles "This is giving me a headache."
"It is mind blowing." Brawn said, pulling his girlfriend into a cuddle.
Arthur's head was hurting to but wanted to know something important "Scarlet and Bullet's son said something about this sword being used to find rifts, can it?" he asked.
"Well it does give off a similar energy signature," Wasp mused "we could work on it, see if we can't use it as a tracker of sorts."
"So Excalibur can help the kidnapped mammals." Arthur uttered.
Olivia nearly choked on her sweet treat before snorting "Excalibur? Talk about cliché."
"Seriously Olivia? Stop making jokes." Iron Heart judged, still comfortable with her head laid on Brawn's muscles.
Arthur ignored the spat and clarified "I know it's called Excalibur, I can feel it."
"Arthur by name, Arthur by nature?" Wasp enquired, unconvinced.
"Arthur may be correct in his feelings." Viv voiced her support for Arthur's reasoning "We all know that are endless amounts of dimensions, with some similarities popping up between some. I offer a theory; what if this is sword is the real Excalibur? What if Arthur Knight, a police officer from Zootopia is his universe's King Arthur?"
There was a spell of silence around the lab table, all of them were considering Viv's theory as a strong possibility, all except one; Arthur himself "Just get working on the tracker, the sooner we find the rift, the sooner all those mammals can go home." the wolf stated before walking out of the room, he needed some fresh air and time to gather his thoughts.
The briefly mute tech heads went straight back to discussing ideas for tracking rifts after a moment while beside Jason, Scarlet and Bullet was a stressed Ms Marvel, frantically trying to get a cracked SHIELD tablet to work "Please still work, please still work, please still work." she begged.
"Is that your tablet?" Scarlet asked, dipping a fried chicken thigh in a tub of gravy.
"No, that's why I want it to not be broken." Ms Marvel freaked "Coulson gave it to me for a project I'm working on but I dropped it when the drones attacked."
"What kind of project?" Bullet asked, the gunslinger wondering why she would need government equipment.
"Well I started thinking after what happened on the Jersey subway that The Champions' ranks are too small, we need more young heroes to join the fight." Ms Marvel answered, gasping slightly when the screen lit up "Thank the stars, it works!"
"You're doing a recruitment drive?" Scarlet figured, passing Jason a portion of fries.
"Yeah, this tablet has the details on some young heroes across the globe, I'm cherry picking the ones that share The Champions' ideals." Ms Marvel confirmed, swiping at the tablet's screen and delighted to see that she had some replies from potential new members.
"So any luck?" Bullet wondered, picking up some popcorn chicken and tossing them in her mouth.
"Well Honey Badger has to ask her big sister first but Bombshell, the new Falcon, Patriot and Locust are interested. There's this kid from Delhi; Pinpoint who's begging to join us." Ms Marvel listed, typing away messages to the possible new recruits.
"Maybe we should recruit some powered mammals when we get back to Zootopia." Scarlet commented, still munching on her food "How about it, Jason? Want to join to Ceartais when you're older?"
"Me?" Jason asked, sounding stunned "But I get scared easily."
"Being scared is part of being a hero, me and Scarlet get scared all the time." Bullet chipped in.
Jason had been told this before from Arthur but hadn't believed it, hearing this from a hero changed that "Me as a hero?" He mused, going back to his junk food.
In the corner of the room the unmasked Kodi and the powered down Kion were tending to the very downtrodden Clara. "Clara, we know you're upset but you helped with the rescue operation, lives were saved with your help." Kion offered, the kind lion was wearing a SHIELD t shirt after ripping his regular one during the attack.
"You guys would've still saved them, I got in the way and made an ass of myself." Clara digged at herself.
Kodi took hold of Clara's paw and gave it a comforting squeeze while saying "Listen when me, Scarlet and Bullet tried our first attempt at hero work it went terrible, Spitfire had to save us. So I know how you're feeling right now, you've just got to practice like we did."
"I know and the logical part of me wants to accept this and try again but I still feel like an idiot." Clara fussed.
"Listen we've been heroes for five years and we still feel like idiots when we mess up, but getting back up is the important thing." Kion encouraged.
"Birds don't just fly, they fall down and get up. Nobody learns without getting it wrong." Kodi smiled, knowing his girlfriend would get the reference.
Clara's glum expression quickly transformed to a smile as she chuckled "Did you just quote Gazelle? Are you really using your Mom's song to prove a point? God, you're a dork."
"It made you smile, so it was worth it." Kodi said, pulling her into a hug "Plus hugs make everyone feel better."
"True." Clara sighed happily, melting into the embrace.
Kion saw this and decided to go one step further and announced loudly "Everybody hug Clara! She needs cheering up!" The big cat then wrapped his arms around both canines and soon enough everyone else the room came and joined the massive group hug, even the meek Jason.
The small group tracking Ronin and Andi had reached the junk yard and found the exact spot where the villainesses car had been parked. Alice was on one knee, touching the tire marks in the dirt and assessed "They left in a regular sized family car, my bet Is a sedan, the worms and bugs in the dirt are already crawling around in the tracks meaning they've been gone at least twenty minutes." she then stood up and looked at the nearby bridge off Manhattan "They chose this spot for a reason, to get off the island quickly, they're heading east, most likely towards Queens."
"Then let's check this yard's security cameras and find out what car they were in." Luna suggested, her bow still gripped in her paw.
"Don't bother," Spiderman cut in, looking around "I'm seeing no cameras in this place."
"That's likely by design." Alice pointed out, looking over at some rather unscathed parked cars in the yard "I bet criminals use this place to stash getaway vehicles, the owner turns a blind eye in return for a fee."
"But can't we use traffic cams on the bridge to look for Andi and Ronin in a car?" Snowguard asked, the teen still had her angelic wings formed on her back.
"We can try but I bet we won't find anything, if it was me I'd have new clothes and disguises ready to avoid detection." Alice guessed.
Luna's amber eyes were aimed at the ground, a speck of blood was close to the tyre tracks, Andi's blood. The cut from the arrowhead must've been deep to cause it to bleed for so long, it would surely leave a scar but Luna wasn't satisfied with scarring Andi "So the trail's cold...damn it." She growled lowly.
"We'll find them, Luna. Creeps like those two never stay out of trouble for long." Spiderman assured, the web head was perched atop a dilapidated ice cream truck.
"But Andi needs to be stopped, before she hurts anyone else." Luna seethed, gaining a concerned look from Alice.
"And Ronin." Snowguard reminded.
Luna seemed to snap back into focus "Yeah, her to." she mumbled.
Alice's suspicion had peaked she took a step towards her wife and questioned "Mon Amour, what's with your sudden urgency to find Andi?"
"She's the bad guy, we're the heroes. You know, that's what we do." Luna dodged.
Alice's eyes narrowed, clearly unsatisfied with the answer "Is this about Captain America?"
Luna felt a twinge of guilt before answering "Of course this is about Steve."
Alice fiddled with the red feather on her katana's handle and sighed "Luna, I know you want to get justice for him but we need to be careful about this, if we rush in angry we are more likely to lose."
Luna took offence and bickered "That 'We' seems to be aimed at me."
"Um, should we leave you guys to it?" Snowguard asked, feeling awkward.
Alice ignored Snowguard and kept her focus on the vixen "I mean we. Listen all of us are at risk here, our kits are at risk every second we stay in this universe, so I want to find them as much as you but we have to keep our minds clear and unclouded by anger." she replied forcefully.
"Don't you use the babies against me." Luna argued.
"I will use them, because I want you to be there to raise them and not in an urn because you got too reckless." Alice snapped, poking at Luna's chest.
Luna was about to respond but in the corner of her eye she a glint of metal flying towards the doe, she pulled Alice out of the way and shielded her wife her body, the fox caught the sight of an s shaped blade whirling past them.
"What the?!" Spiderman gasped, before his spider sense kicked in "Luna look out!"
A figure darted at the couple with unnatural speed, a figure draped in black armour and leather with a longsword in his hand. Snowguard leapt into action and grabbed Alice from Luna before soaring into the air, as soon as the bunny was out of her grip Luna ducked to avoid the first swipe of the sword before rolling away and firing a brace of arrows at the attacker, who sliced through the arrows like grass and was about to stab the vixen but was stopped by a kick to the face from Spiderman.
The attacker was brought to the ground while Luna drew a tazer arrow, ready for another offence from the mystery man but before he could rise to his feet he was webbed to the floor by Spiderman. Snowguard had gotten Alice on top of a shipping container and finally got a look at the person who had attacked Luna and Alice and gawped "No way."
Spiderman knew who the attacker was, when he was a kid he had heard legends about this warrior and with his brief time in the Avengers he had learnt most of the legends were true but he still felt starstruck as he looked at the swordsman struggling to free himself from his web restraints. The black man looked to be in his mid-forties, with short styled hair and a trimmed goatee, his signature sunglasses covering his eyes and the unmistakable fangs could be seen as he grit his teeth with frustration "Blade?" Spiderman muttered.
"You know this guy?" Luna asked, ready to fire her arrow at the slightest provocation.
"He's an ex-Avenger, a hero." Spiderman answered.
"Well this hero just tried to kill my wife!" Luna growled.
"Not kill, wound." Blade replied before looking at Spiderman "You're the new Spiderman? Release me, now!"
"Not until you explain yourself." Spiderman stood his ground.
"Explain why you're protecting two villains!" Blade barked.
"Ugh, this again?" Luna groaned, lowering her bow.
"I don't what magic you've employed Andi but glamour spells won't trick me, I'd know yours and Ronin's voices anywhere." Blade said with spite.
Spiderman's eyes rolled under his mask and clarified "This isn't Andi and that rabbit isn't Ronin, this is Luna and Alice, they're from another dimension."
"Ronin was trained by The Hand, they use magic to disguise their forms and bewitch their enemies, like they've done to you and your team mate." Blade defied.
"They're not them, we're hunting them." Snowguard said firmly, flying down with Alice in her arms.
"And does Ronin have a cybernetic arm?" Alice asked, removing her prosthetic and holding it up to prove a point.
"...But your sword, it's the same." Blade said, starting to doubt himself.
Alice reattached her arm and unsheathed her blade, adding "The design is the same of course, but Ronin's sword is human sized and this blade is vibranium not steel."
"...Shit." Blade cursed, realising he was wrong.
Luna went over to Blade and cut through the webs with an arrow head "You should be saying sorry instead of shit." she said bitterly.
But Blade still didn't apologise, he rose to his feet and asked "What the hell are you all doing here?"
"Like I said, hunting Ronin and Andi." Snowguard sassed, disappointed with her first impression of the legend "They just killed over a dozen people at a SHIELD facility."
"Tough break but that's not my concern." Blade brushed off.
"Why you..." Snowguard began but was halted by a look from Spiderman.
"Blade why are you here? What does a vampire hunter want with a couple of mercs?" Spiderman questioned.
"Vampires?" Alice and Luna voiced in unison.
"Yeah he's a good vampire who hunts bad vampires, the day walker." Spiderman answered.
"The douchebag, more like." Snowguard grunted.
"Vampires exist? Like 'Bleh, Bleh, I'm Dracula'?" Luna asked, doing a stereotypical Dracula impression.
"Dracula's a punk ass bitch." Blade simmered before looking at Alice and answering "And I've got two reasons for tracking down Ronin and Andi; one I owe Ronin an ass kicking and two they're going to lead me to the biggest vampire nest in the city."
"What've Ronin and Andi got to do with vampires, wait is Andi's how blood high thing linked?" Alice asked twice, wanting to keep on the matter at hand despite her curiosity about Blade's rivalry with her human doppleganger.
"No but Ronin is tight with a vampire called Deacon Frost, he's got a massive hideout somewhere in New York. I heard the married mercs were laying low after what happened to Captain America, so I figured they'd go to Frost. My hunch was right, my informant told me they spotted two women matching their description parked a car in this junkyard." Blade explained, returning his sword to it's scabbard strapped to his back.
"A Vampire nest?" Alice mumbled "And I thought tracking them to an outlaw hideout would be difficult."
Luna didn't like Blade, he was rude, he was a brute and most significantly he tried to harm Alice. But she could use him to get to Andi "I have a proposal, Blade."
"And what's that, Swiper the fox?" Blade scoffed.
Luna didn't understand the reference but continued "We become hunting buddies, we pool our resources and hunt them together, once you have the intel you need for this vampire nest thing we get Andi and Ronin?"
"I don't work well with others, that's why I quit the Avengers." Blade refused.
"But who better to help you track them than their alternate versions? We can think like them and predict their moves, what do you say?" Luna convinced.
Blade was quiet for a moment before reaching into the pocket of his leather jacket and pulling out a cheap burner phone, tossing it to Luna "If I find something I need your help with I'll call you." he said before marching away.
When he was out of sight Alice looked to Luna and asked "Was that wise? He doesn't seem that trustworthy."
"Oh I don't trust him as far as I can throw him but I do trust his hate for Ronin, I could tell that he really wants to get her, he'll do anything to get at her." Luna answered while thinking And I'll do anything to get Andi.
Beast's eyes hurt, he'd been staring at the computer screen for hours, the hum of the multiple monitors in the room was annoying him and the clothes he had been wearing since his kidnap were ripe with body odour. But he couldn't stop, he knew what was at risk.
His prison wasn't exactly traditional, it was an apartment with the living area converted into a makeshift lab, he could easily escape but he knew if he took one step outside there would be deadly consequences. To remind Beast of what was at stake his captors had set up a video feed of the Cauldron's security cameras, one feed of Nightcrawler and the other of the main communal area for the kidnapped mammals. The threat was simple; should Beast step outside the apartment Nightcrawler would be tortured with electric shocks and if he tried to sabotage Doctor Doom's work a kidnapped mammal would be selected at random and killed. Doom knew how to play Beast, the mutant was nearly sixty and had been a hero since his teens, there was no way he'd let innocents die. So the geneticist kept on working on the sequence to remove powers from the mammals and copy them into humans.
The sound of the front door unlocking startled Beast, he looked towards and felt a surge of hate surge within when he saw the sick grinning figure of Andi walk in. The villain was dressed in civilian clothes but did have her daggers strapped to her belt "Good afternoon, Dr McCoy." she greeted.
"Andi." He replied curtly "Come to inspect me for your master?"
"Oh Doctor Doom knows that you'll be a good little fuzzball and do what you've been instructed to do." Andi smiled, walking past all the out of place lab equipment and over to the window, cracking it open to let in some much needed fresh air.
"Then why are you here?" Beast asked, taking off his glasses.
"To tell you to hurry up, Doom's picked a new test subject. You've had over a week to work on this, so it's time to show your work." Andi answered.
"A week?" Beast asked, sounding confused "I've only been here a day."
"Oh yeah, I always forget that time moves differently in Zootopia." Andi replied, looking over Savannah central from the high rise apartment.
(AN/ DUN DUN DUN! Beast is in Zootopia!? Luna wants to team up with Blade?! What did you think? PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE Review! Next time on TBM; Coulson has a surprise for the heroes, Esso steps up to help Rocket and Luna & Clara seek help with some new gear. Please review and c ya soon...)