(AN/ Hey Folks, it's Garouge/Crewefox with another chapter of The Broken Mirror. Thank you to everyone who has left such nice reviews, comments and likes since the last update. So without further ado let's get cracking with this chapter...)
Chapter 38- The Challenge
Robyn always loved this part of the job; suiting up. No matter how many times she got dressed into her Scarlet uniform, she still got the same rush of excitement that she had experienced the first time she wore it back when she was fifteen. The ginger furred hybrid was in the armoury of the Kestrel, getting ready before they had to meet up with Blade for the Frost Rooms mission. She glanced at herself in the mirror and gave a satisfied grin, she always liked how badass she looked.
"And you used to call me a narcissist." Kodi jibed, waving his left paw and clothes transforming into Mage outfit with a flicker of orange sparks "You look at yourself way too much in the mirror during mission prep."
"Kiss my ginger butt." Scarlet replied jokingly "Anyway why are you looking so calm? I expected you to be all jittery."
"Because of the vampires? I covered undead and demonic creatures with Doctor Strange during my training, I know how to kill them." Mage answered, calibrating the HUD in his domino mask.
"No I mean about Clara, she's in her Sirius suit for five minutes and she's off chasing a magical sword to god knows where with Dragoness and Knight." Scarlet corrected, she was genuinely worried for Clara as she had grown rather fond of her.
"She is a genius physicist, has super powers and escaped from a prison ship controlled by the biggest bad in this dimension. Sirius can handle chasing a sword, her and the others will be fine." Mage said confidently, making sure to call his girlfriend by her hero name.
"Meh, I guess. But she's got that dead weight Knight with her, I hope he doesn't make trouble for her and Dragoness." Scarlet bitched.
"Ok quit it." Mage sighed, checking his trick cards were all ready.
"Quit what?" Scarlet asked back, but she knew what her friend was getting at.
"Giving Arthur a hard time, it's getting out of hand." Mage advised.
"So what? This a same species thing? You stick up for each other?" Scarlet tried to deflect.
"First of all Arthur is a different wolf species to me and Clara, we're Timber wolves and he's a Eurasian wolf and secondly this is not about species, this is about you acting like a jerk." Mage scolded in calm manner, sounding like a disappointed parent.
Scarlet was caught unawares by how mature her old friend sounded so defensively dismissed "Whatever."
"Scarlet I'm not going to the same old dance with you where we argue, you storm off and rage about it then we hug it out because we have a mission to complete so I'll just state the facts. You're being too hard on him, yes he shouted at Aaron but he apologised for it and you dangled him over a ledge, he's gone through a lot of stuff, he's still trying to figure out his powers and his past is a touchy subject for him. Plus he's right, he did save Alice and Jason when the drones attacked. So in turn he also saved your future nieces and nephews in Alice's tummy. Bottom line is you owe him some respect and an apology." Mage listed, knowing his words were working by the fact that Scarlet's ears got more and more droopy the more he told her the hard truth.
Scarlet looked away from Mage and conceded "Fine, I'll lay off him...and I guess I need to say sorry."
Mage just gave a small smile and nod in response before both of them walked out of the armoury and towards the lab where the all the heroes plus Agent Coulson had gathered. "Mage, Scarlet." Coulson greeted before addressing everyone "I'll be blunt, SHIELD cannot assist you in this mission, the whole vampire and demon thing is not covered by our jurisdiction, the only help we can provide is a safe haven for the rescued humans."
"That's all we need." Spitfire stated, the mouse was in her mech suit and ready for battle "Me and Ms Marvel have divided our teams best suited for each task and we've got enough weapons to use against a whole army of vamps."
"Garlic gel bullets for Bullet, UV blaster blasts for me, Iron Heart's sunlight grenades and of course silver stakes for everyone." Wasp listed, Nadia had her helmet off and was helping load extra sunlight grenades into Spitfire's mech.
Ms Marvel grimaced slightly as she looked at the silver stake in her hand and commented "The main objective is not to kill vampires, it's to save the humans."
"And to capture Ronin and Andi." Viv reminded, spinning the stake playfully on her index finger.
Alice who was sat with Jason in the corner watching the bizarre human version of Dragonball Z looked over at green haired synthezoid and noticed a few odd things; Viv was wearing a tank top instead of her usual sweater, her hair was tied back in a ponytail and around her neck was a simple silver cross. Alice's golden eyes lit up with nerdy joy "You look like Buffy the Vampire Slayer!" she beamed.
"Yes, that was my intention." Viv answered, glad someone noticed "I used to watch re runs of it with my brother Vin. How do I look?"
"Badass." Scarlet smiled, she had watched the show herself and was a fan of the ass kicking slayer.
"Wait you have that show in your dimension?" Brawn asked.
"Sure but in our world she's a sheep." Roar clarified, already in his giant white form.
"Growing up I had such a crush on her, that ewe was so sexy." Bullet mindlessly commented.
"Was she now?" Scarlet asked critically, arching an eyebrow at her wife.
"Well, uh, I..." Bullet began to ramble.
"Look enough talk about old TV shows, we have to get going, Blade is waiting for us." Maiden stepped in.
"Mage, if you'd do the honours please?" Iron Heart prompted before her bleeding edge armour covered her face.
Mage had googled the location Blade had given, he envisioned the meeting spot in his mind, extended his paw and used his sling ring to create a portal "Next stop, Queens."
Everyone piled through the portal but before Maiden made sure to give Alice a passionate kiss to which the doe purred in response "Bonne chance, Mon Amour."
Maiden was the last through the portal that closed as soon as her feet touched the cold concrete of Queens, The Champions and Team Ceartais were outside an all night diner before anyone could ask where Blade was he stepped out of the diner. "Right on time." Blade skipped the pleasantries, using a tooth pick to remove the remnants of the burger he had just eaten "I trust you've divided your teams up?"
Ms Marvel stepped up and explained "Me and Spitfire talked about and including you we have fourteen fighters. We'll split into teams of seven, the team intercepting the trucks with the humans on will be myself, Spitfire, Mage, Spiderman, Iron Heart, Snow Guard and Brawn."
"Leaving Maiden, Scarlet, Bullet, Roar, Viv and Wasp helping you inside the Frost Rooms to capture the targets and free the humans in the kitchen area." Spitfire informed Blade adding "Ms Marvel will be the team leader for the truck squad and Maiden will be the skipper for the Frost Rooms team but I'm going to guess you're heading straight for this Deacon Frost creep?"
"You guess right, tin can." Blade confirmed before looking at the strange mammal heroes and saying "Don't bother telling me your names because I won't remember them, oh and don't get in my way."
Scarlet then sniggered to Snow Guard "Wow you were right, he is an asshole."
Blade heard the insult but it didn't phase him so he continued "We best get in position, as soon as the trucks are in the slaughter house's yard you hit them blood suckers hard, with them distracted we'll infiltrate the Frost Rooms elevator."
Ten minutes later both teams were in position, with Ms Marvel's team sticking to the shadows between some shipping containers, the inhuman was still feeling uncomfortable holding the stake that she almost jumped a little when Spitfire suddenly said "Freaky."
"What is?" Iron Heart asked her fellow engineer.
"Check the heat signatures coming from the building, all the vampires have a core temperature of twenty Celsius." Spitfire answered, scanning the guards.
Iron Heart did the same with her scanners and saw cold blue figures which should've been orange and red "Damn they really are dead." she mumbled.
"That isn't the freakiest thing, that is." Mage shuddered, pointing at the sign above the slaughterhouse saying 'The Jolly Butcher' with a cartoon bull dressed a butcher with a cleaver in one hoof and a plate of steaks in the other "Why would a bull be a butcher?"
"Oh, I didn't even think about the whole abattoir thing. Are the others going to be ok walking into there?" Brawn asked, hardly believing he forgot such a detail.
"Depends, what sort of stuff are they going to see?" Spitfire asked.
Before Brawn could form an eloquent and less traumatising answer Spiderman blurted out "Headless pigs, sheep and cows with their guts ripped out and blood all over the floor."
"Dude!" Snow Guard hushed, swatting Spidey on the arm.
"Well he's not wrong." Iron Heart agreed awkwardly.
Mage tried to block the grizzly image of his head but then he thought about a very big hearted and sensitive lion "Oh god, Kion's going to blow chunks." he uttered.
"Or faint." Spitfire predicted.
"Hold up," Ms Marvel spoke up, her brown eyes narrowing "I see headlights."
Two seemingly normal looking eighteen wheeler trucks pulled into slaughter house's yard followed by two expensive looking BMWs which supposedly were the security escort for the cattle. Ms Marvel took a breath then said "Ok everyone, we all know our jobs. Watch each other's backs and make sure not to hit any humans in the crossfire." she then leapt from the shadows yelling "Champions charge!"
"Oo-de-lally!" Spitfire cheered flying out towards the trucks with the other heroes in her wake.
Brawn charged at the vampires clambering out of the BMWs. Before they could flick the safety switch off their guns the green teen leapt over them and headed for the gate, using his enhanced strength to pull it shut before Iron Heart welded it shut with a super heated laser "Gate secured, they can't escape." Brawn hollered at Ms Marvel.
"Thanks Brawn." Ms Marvel acknowledged, growing to twenty feet and picking up one of the cars like toys, she shook it and six vampires fell out of it.
Mage noticed one of the fallen vampires scramble to his feet and charge at him, the wolf smiled before opening his long trench coat and black hand made of mist grabbed the vamp and pulled him into the frozen void of space. Mage then clocked a few of the vamps trying to shoot some of his friends and over the pops of gunfire he grinned "Hey fellas, want to see a trick?"
"Shoot the dog!" One of the vamps, an eastern asian woman with a mohawk, commanded while levelling her gun at the canine hero.
"I can turn any old metal into silver!" Mage waved his paw and the metal of the vamps' guns turned to silver with a shimmer of light.
"Argh!" The mohawk vampire screamed, dropping her now silver handgun, leaving a distinct burn on her hands. Mage took advantage of her pain and closed the distance jabbing a silver stake into her chest, turning her to ash.
Spitfire landed beside Mage and threw a sunlight grenade at the other vampires that had been thrown from one of the cars. Two were smart enough to dive out of the way but the other three were caught in the blast of light, incinerating them instantly "Mage I need you behind the wheel of one those trucks and ready to make a portal when we give the signal." She reminded before chasing after the two stragglers.
"You got it." Mage complied, heading for the truck closest to him.
On top of one of the trucks, Spiderman was taking on two vampires with shock batons, the acrobatic hero was ducking and weaving away from the strikes with ease while insulting the vampires' fashion sense "Wow you two really went all in with the goth vampire look, although it looks like your make up was done at a slumber party." he barbed.
"I going to drain every last drop of blood from you, brat!" An angry early twenties vamp trash talked, he was still swinging his shock baton at Spiderman with no success.
"You'll become a child of the night like us!" The other goth vamp hammed up, Spiderman was surprised she could see at all with her long black bangs covering her eyes.
"Ugh, cliché much?" Spiderman groaned before turning invisible, the two vamps gawped with surprise for a moment before both feeling unimaginable pain in their chests. The last thing they saw was Spiderman reappearing between them with a stake in each hand, plunged into their chests.
The web head was trying to think of a witty one liner as they turned to ash but was distracted when he heard a collection of screams from below, he looked over the edge and saw that Snow Guard had transformed into a reindeer and had mowed three vampires down with her antlers while Iron Heart finished them off whilst they were floored. Snow Guard transformed back into her human form and called out "Spiderman, help me with these doors, we need to make sure the people are ok!"
"Right." Spiderman concurred, jumping down and ripping off the padlock for the back of the truck with ease.
Snow Guard went to open the doors but instead in slammed open in her face, hitting her to the floor in a daze, in her blurred vision she saw three vampire security guards jump at Spiderman and huge muscle bound vamp lunge at her. The vampire pinned both of her arms to the ground and smiled with fangs showing, she was so disoriented and scared she didn't have time to react, the vampire opened his mouth and went for Snow Guard's neck, she thought she was a gonner then he just stopped. The vampire's eyes bulged and a whimper escaped his mouth as her turned to dust, with his remains covering the Canadian from head to toe. Snowguard wiped the ash from her face and looked at her saviour; Ms Marvel was stood before her holding a silver stake, trembling and tears in her eyes.
"I...I..." Ms Marvel stammered, looking at the stake in her hand with horror.
Snow Guard saw her team leader and friend was struggling, she got to her feet and hugged the polymorph "You saved me, Big M." she eased.
"Guys, less hugging more saving. Check on the people inside!" Spiderman shouted, he had venom blasted the three vampires that had tackled him and was now taking them on with the help of Brawn.
Ms Marvel was brought back to reality when she heard someone croak "Help..." She looked into the truck and felt her blood run cold. The 'Cattle' were strapped to vertical boards held up by hooks, all of them wearing rags, painfully thin and had multiple IV lines going into them. Ms Marvel got into the back of the trucked and was met with the disgusting stench of urine and feaces but she did her best to ignore it and went to the closet human. It was a man in his forties, his stubble grey and eyes glazed over, Ms Marvel noticed the wedding ring on the man's finger and realised that this man and likely everyone else on these trucks had a loved ones who didn't know what become of them "They're drugged up." Snow Guard noted with pity in her tone, looking at the IV bags.
"We need to get them to SHIELD HQ now, they need medical attention." Ms Marvel stated, trying to remain stoic.
"Way ahead of you." Iron Heart replied, flying to the truck's cabin and ripping the vampire driver out of seat, as soon as he crashed to the ground Spitfire stepped on it's head with full force, beheading it and turning the undead creature to ash.
Iron Heart got in the driver's seat and shouted to Mage in the other truck "Time to get this convoy moving!"
Mage didn't shout a reply, he just spun a massive sling ring portal to the New York military base for SHIELD, big enough for the trucks to get through. As the engines rumbled into life Ms Marvel got out of the truck and looked at the piles of ash around her, she knew they had done the right thing but it still felt wrong to her. She took comfort in the fact that the team had already saved two hundred people and she hoped the team inside the Frost Rooms would be just as successful.
As soon as the other team heard Ms Marvel shout "Champions charge!" they moved into the jolly butcher abattoir, Blade led the pack and cut through the vampires guarding the place with ease, it's only when they were turned to ash that the mammals noticed their surroundings.
Bullet could smell the flesh and blood, thankful that she didn't have to witness the gore, even though she was distracted she fired a garlic gel bullet at a vampire charging at her with a crowbar, it hit him between the eyes and the garlic made his head pop like a zit "Where now?" she asked, determined to press on.
Before Blade could answer Roar had his paws on his knees and throwing up his dinner, Blade grunted with dissatisfaction "Never seen a vampire killed, cat?"
"T-the bodies..." He panted before throwing up again.
Scarlet had been watching horror movies since she was teen but the sight of slaughtered cows, pigs and sheep hung up on meat hooks made her feel almost faint "This is horrible." she whispered.
Even though Maiden was disturbed by the slaughter house she said "Pull it together, we knew humans were prey eaters but we have a job to do. Blade, where to?"
"There's a hidden elevator in one of the walk-in fridges according to my snitch." Blade answered, leading the group around the corner, he spotted one with an old nordic rune spray painted onto it and said "That one."
The door to the fridge was heavy and had three locks securing it, Roar wanted to be out of the slaughter house as fast as possible, he wiped the vomit from his mouth then stormed forward and the door off its hinges. Inside was an elderly vampire lady trying to work a control panel for the elevator, she looked at the heroes in panic before receiving a UV blast to the chest from Wasp. Viv glided over just as the vampire disintegrated and used her wireless hacking skills to activate the elevator, there was judder for a moment then the entire walk-in fridge began to descend.
"Ok, everyone state your roles." Maiden ordered, checking her garlic dipped arrows.
"I'm on crowd control." Roar answered, regaining a little composure after hurling "Their fangs can't hurt me, so I'll be taking care of any vampire trying to escape through this elevator."
"Me, Bullet and Scarlet will be raiding the kitchens, trying to locate any captive humans." Viv sounded off, spinning her stake in a very Buffy-like fashion.
"Leaving me, Maiden and Blade to capture Andi, Ronin and Frost." Wasp finished, the Russian heroine sharing a fist bump with Maiden.
"What I don't get is why the bug is with us? Last I heard, Ronin kicked her ass." Blade griped, twirling a silver three headed boomerang in his hand.
"She kicked yours too." Wasp smirked, when Blade shot her a dirty look she added "Oh yeah I read the SHIELD file, she took your title of greatest swordfighter in Delhi, right?"
"I'm getting that title back as soon as we rescue the humans and Frost is dust." Blade promised.
In last few seconds Scarlet's ear caught the sound of a familiar tune, she looked up at Viv was subconsciously humming the Buffy the Vampire Slayer theme tune, Scarlet got into a fighting stance and chuckled "Viv the Vampire Slayer."
"Huh?" Viv sounded just as the elevator pinged and the hidden door at the back of the fridge opened up to the Frost Rooms hotel lobby. Around twenty vampires were dotted around the lobby, furnished with antiques, marbled floors and the walls painted gold. In the centre of the lobby there were demonic waiters serving glasses of blood from the three slaughtered human dangling from the chandler into a blood pool.
The heroes stepped out of the elevator and the lobby fell silent, Blade looked at their panicked faces with glee, he unsheathed his sword and teased "Which one of you mother fuckers wants to die first?"
There was collective high pitched shriek as the vampires and demons ran at the heroes, hoping to overwhelm them, before they could attack Roar stepped in front of the other and unleashed a shattering roar that made the vampires tumble over and shake the room. While the vampires were trying to get their bearings after the deafening blast Roar prompted "You got your jobs, I'll handle these guys."
"Kick their butts, Roar!" Bullet encouraged, running to the east wing with Viv and Scarlet in tow.
"We'll rendezvous here, stay safe!" Maiden said before chasing after Wasp and Blade.
Roar returned his focus to the vampires, slowly rising to their feet and looking at the titan lion with rage. Roar's paw shot out and snatched a random vampire who was still dazed on the ground before addressing the crowd "You know I've been doing this job for nearly six years and I've only used my full strength once but right now I've got rare opportunity to cut loose and go berserk, because you're already dead." Roar then used other hand to grip the vampire's head then twisted it off like a toy, reducing its body to ash.
Even though they were scared the vampires ran at Roar, jumping on him and trying to sink their fangs into his flesh only to have their teeth shatter like glass, the giant lion began tearing the pests off him and using his claws to slice at the horde and his massive feet to crush them.
It didn't take long for Scarlet, Viv and Bullet to find the kitchen. Blade's intel was true, the service area and staff quarters were to the east of the Frost Rooms. "It looks housekeeping has a lot of vacuuming to do." Viv joked, having staked her eleventh vampire. The corridor's floor was caked in ash and blood from the burst bodies caused by the garlic.
"We need to keep moving, I sense people ahead, warm people." Bullet said, backflipping out of the way of an attacking vampire lobby boy and hitting him with a garlic bullet in the centre of his chest, causing him to combust.
"The humans." Scarlet figured, pulling a silver stake out another vamp's chest and eyeing a set of metallic double doors with the sign 'Staff Only' printed on it. She began to walk towards it but was halted when Bullet raised her fist, signalling for them all to freeze.
Before anyone could ask Bullet what was wrong a male vampire dressed in chef's whites scrambled out of the kitchen with a struggling human man in a head lock "Come any closer and I'll drain this bastard!" The chef threatened.
"Coward." Scarlet hissed, gripping her silver stake tighter.
Viv was about to attempt negotiating for the human's life but then a dozen other vampire kitchen staff poured out of the double doors and ran at the trio of heroines with meat cleavers and knifes in their hands. The chef took his opportunity and raced down a passageway to the left with his hostage still in his arms "Scarlet, rescue that human!" Bullet yelled over the carnage, dodging and shooting her attackers.
"On it, blind badass." Scarlet grinned, jumping over the crowd of kitchen staff and chasing after the chef.
The hybrid ran down the narrow corridor, weaving between crates of booze and cleaning trolleys as she did. She could see the chef at the end of corridor dragging the human into a room before closing the door. Scarlet increased her speed and leapt at the door, delivering a flying kick and bursting in open, the heroine landed in a darkened room but before her eyes could adjust to the darkness all the lights switched on, making her squint. As her navy eyes finally settled to the light, she looked around her and muttered "What the hell?"
She was in a room full of mirrored walls, it was a maze with branching paths and over the speakers an old creepy recording of 'Run rabbit run' was playing. "Do you like our play room?" The Chef's voice asked but Scarlet could not see him.
"What is this?" Scarlet asked, freaked out by the song and the setting.
"Some of our guests like to play with their food before feasting, we use this room to 'Hunt' our prey. It's so fun to watch the meat run around the little maze, scrambling for the exit but seeing as the walls are mirrors..." The Chef explained.
"They never see you coming because you have no reflection, kinda' sick if you ask me." Scarlet replied, focusing her hearing and walking down the path she thought the Chef's voice was coming from, she needed to keep him talking "What's with this freaking song?"
"It's just a little joke we have here, the meat runs around like helpless rabbits, I never thought we'd have an actual rabbit in here. What are you, anyway? A mutant?" The Chef asked with a chuckle.
"Nah I'm half rabbit, half fox and if you thought your fangs were sharp wait until you get a load of mine." Scarlet taunted, her long ears catching the sound of someone's panicked breaths, most likely the humans.
"That's if you can find me." The chef responded.
Scarlet knew he was close, less than ten metres, she was about to start running and hopefully catch the chef off guard when her eyes caught sight of something that overwhelmed her. "No...not now." She whispered. In every mirror there was a different figure, familiar to her yet also unknown. She saw variations of herself, some subtle and some drastic; different fur markings, different genders, more canine looking, different eye colours, different builds. Scarlet blinked her eyes trying to get the other versions of herself to disappear but they wouldn't. Then she heard them, multiple voices speaking in her head Evelyn, Nicholas, Waverly, Isaac, Violet were some of the words she could make out in cacophony "Names? That's what you're called?" She uttered, amazed but afraid.
Her navy eyes fell upon the mirror right in front of her and saw another version of herself, this one was dressed in The Undying Scarlet uniform but this one was clearly male. The male Scarlet was a hybrid like her but his features were definitely more fox-like, he had long ears with the right one having the recognisable grey fur of Judy and the left having the ginger tint of Nick, he had a long fox like tail with a streak of grey running through it and covering the tip "Jay-Tee?" Scarlet mumbled, knowing somehow that this was his name.
Suddenly Jay-Tee's face turned serious and his mouth moved, trying to tell Scarlet something, she read his lips 'Behind you!' Scarlet instinctively turned around and shot her arm forward. The silver stake had imbedded itself in the Chef's chest "Fucking rabbit..." The vampire cursed before crumbling into nothingness.
Scarlet looked past the ash to see the terrified human slumped against a mirrored wall "It's going to be ok." she assured, looking around and realising all the other versions of herself had disappeared for now. Scarlet said a quiet "Thanks guys." before going over and helping the human to his feet.
"They just keep coming!" Wasp crowed with frustration, shrinking down to avoid a duo of vampires tackling her, she fired UV blasts at them both killing them instantly.
"We need to get to Frost's suite, don't ease up!" Blade rallied, slicing through the vamps like blades of grass.
"Won't Frost try to escape?" Maiden asked urgently, using an explosive arrow to block one of the corridors vamps were pouring out from.
"Not this time, I've attacked his place of business, ruined his reputation, his pride won't let him run. He'll come after me." Blade grinned, pulling out a handgun and firing a silver bullet at a vampire trying to escape.
"You're right, Eric." A voiced cooed, the heroes looked to the end of the hallway to see Deacon Frost, Andi and Ronin facing them with two dozen other furious vampires behind them "I won't run."
"About time your skinny ass showed up." Blade smirked, wondering the best way to kill Frost.
"You think your new friends can help you win? This hotel will be their tomb." Frost blustered, holding an expensive looking assault rifle "And I have the greatest archer and greatest swordswoman at my side, you're outmatched."
Andi shot Ronin a knowing look before saying "Actually Deacon, I think it's time for us to check out."
"W-what?" Frost gasped, the other vampires looked surprised as well.
"Yeah we have a prior arrangement with Doctor Doom and we'd hate to disappoint him." Andi replied, keeping a close eye on Maiden.
"I gave you sanctuary and now you abandon me!?" Frost snapped at the assassins.
"You owed me a debt, the debt is paid and now we're leaving, merci for providing us cover." Ronin said glibly before sneakily dropping a smoke bomb.
As soon as the smoke bomb ignited there was a mad rush, the vampires bolted towards the heroes, shots were fired and Blade began to do what he did best with Wasp backing up, UV blasting every vampire who was flanking the swordsman. Maiden ignored the chaos erupting around her, she used her upgraded mask to look at the heat signatures through the smoke and instantly spotting two hot bodies sprinting into one of the hotel rooms. The vixen didn't tell the others her plan, she used her short stature to run through the crowd, firing off garlic tipped arrows at any vampire who got too close to her. Maiden made through the carnage and ran towards the room Ronin and Andi had gone into, she entered the lush suite and followed a mechanical sound coming from the bedroom, she bounded over a sofa and raced into the bedroom to find a secret doorway behind a bookcase was ajar. Maiden cautiously stepped into the hidden passageway only to find Andi grinning at her from behind a thick glass door with a complex electronic lock on it. "Hi Mommy's girl, loving the new look." Andi teased, spinning a dagger in her hand "Don't think about using an explosive arrow on this door, it can handle any blast."
"Andi, let's go!" Ronin implored, she was strapping a backpack on, stood next to a ladder that led to the surface.
"Maybe you'll get me next time." Andi smiled down at the vixen, pointing to the fresh scar on her cheek from the arrow Maiden had fired at her two days before "You nearly got me back in Manhattan...So you want to kill me, don't you?"
"Andi!" Ronin barked, trying to get her wife to move.
"I do and I will." Maiden replied with a straight face "I want you to escape because next time we meet I want it to be just us with no distractions."
"Oooh, sounds delightful." Andi reacted, tempted to unlock the door and fight the vixen now.
Maiden reached into one of the pouches on her belt and pulled out a slip of paper and pressed it against the glass, written on the paper in biro was an address. "Meet me at this address in two days' time, 9pm, we'll settle this once and for all." Maiden invited.
Andi got out her phone and quickly snapped a photo of the address "Are you serious?" she asked, giddy with excitement.
"I'm challenging you to a duel, two archers walk in and one comes out. No tricks, no back up, no mercy. One of us will die." Maiden proposed.
"Oh Mommy's girl, you've just made my day." Andi smiled before turning around to join Ronin at the ladder "I'll see you there."
Maiden looked on as the villainesses ascended to freedom with a satisfied smile on her face. She had never indented to kill Andi at the Frost Rooms, only to issue the challenge, Andi's defeat had to be perfect and Maiden had planned it down to the last detail. All she had to do now was wait.
It didn't take long for the SHIELD Quin jet to catch up with Sirius, she was hovering over a church in Brooklyn. Dragoness landed the jet down on a nearby basketball court much to the annoyance of the locals, the inhuman and Arthur emerged from the back of the jet and were met by Sirius who had powered down and walking over to them. "Damn that sword was fast." Sirius griped "What's the deal with that thing?"
"Honestly I have no idea." Arthur groaned, he was getting sick of this entire situation.
"Did you lose track of it?" Dragoness asked, flashing her SHIELD ID to a cop car that pulled up to investigate, as soon as they saw her badge they moved on.
"No, it smashed right through the roof of that church." Sirius informed "But it's a weird building though."
"You just chased a magic sword through the night sky, how can the church be weird?" Arthur questioned, looking at the very normal looking church.
"No I mean it's not supposed to be there, I grew up in this neighbourhood, the temple where I had my bat mitzvah is just down the street. In our dimension that church doesn't exist, it's a carpet store." Sirius explained, creeped out by the human version of her home turf.
"Well there's bound to be some differences, I mean I'm a flying fox in your world." Dragoness reminded "Come on, let's grab Excalibur and get back to the Kestrel."
"But wait." Sirius stopped the two from walking towards the church "The sword flew off as soon as Arthur said 'Find a rift'."
"I didn't phrase it like that, I was pissed off." Arthur clarified.
"Regardless, Excalibur obeyed you, so what if there's a rift in there?" Sirius asked, sounding cautious.
"Which would most likely be guarded." Dragoness huffed, going back into the jet and taking an energy rifle off the weapon rack.
The unlikely trio made their way over to the church with Arthur using his powers to move the tumblers in the lock and open the front door. The church was dark and a thick layer of dust covered the pews, Sirius flicked the light switch only for nothing to happen "Dusty church and no power, I'm going to guess no one's prayed here in a long time." she noted.
"Well looks like the sword created a nice skylight, that'll put the property value up." Dragoness joked, pointing out the hole in the roof.
The three walked to where the sword had crashed through, Arthur noticed one of the stone pillars had a fresh gash through it "Looks like the sword hit this pillar before bouncing off and landing..." Arthur spoke, following the direction of the scratch and finding the sword imbedded in the stone floor next to a statue of the virgin Mary "right there and what do you know? No portal, that sword really is useless."
Arthur began to walk over to the sword but halted when Sirius said "Wait." Arthur and Dragoness looked at Sirius who was studying the stone pillar the sword had scarred, more specifically the carvings on the pillar "I've seen this language and art before."
"Where?" Dragoness queried, looking at them and thinking they looked out of place.
"The Cauldron." Sirius remembered "In Doom's throne room, these words and glyphs were all around."
"Latvarian." Dragoness realised "We need to tell the others."
Arthur was about to go fetch Excalibur when something caught his eye; on the gashed pillar one of the carvings looked newer than the others, it was of a bow and arrow. He reached out and touched it with his paw and heard a click. Suddenly part of the pillar opened like a door revealing a very modern looking touch screen panel which lit up as soon as it was exposed. "Sneaky." he commented.
"This looks an awful lot like the technology we found at that subway station in Jersey city." Dragoness said with a smile, feeling like this was a break in the case "I bet this activates a rift."
"Um guys." Sirius said, her brown eyes fixed to where the sword was.
"Hmm?" Arthur sounded.
"What are those?" Sirius asked with a shaky voice, pointing at four figures stood around the sword staring at the trio. They weren't human, they weren't mammals either, their forms seemed to be hunched over and made of purple smoke with bright eyes staring at them.
Dragoness took a hold of her rifle and aimed it at the creatures before demanding "Identify yourselves!"
They didn't answer, they lunged forward with claws ready to rip the allies apart, Arthur's body acted on its own as he sprung forward into danger while growling "Stupid sword!"
(AN/DUN DUN DUN! What are the creatures? Maiden has laid down the gauntlet! Will Blade kill Frost? PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE Review. Next time on TBM; Arthur, Sirius and Dragoness fight an unknown force, Zoe clues in Rocket and Esso about her plan and Maiden's mission hits a snag. Please review and c ya soon...)