Chapter Eleven: One Child/The Famous Final Scene—Part Four

"The courtroom was adjourned. No verdict was returned. As the flames high into the night, to light the sacrificial rite. I saw Satan laughing with delight. While Lenin read a book on Marx. The quartet practiced in the park, and we sang dirges in the dark. The day the music died."

Glory stared at Wolfe as if he were insane, which in the very limited scope of the word, he was. The human mind, as it was presently constituted, could no more glimpse the infinite knowledge of the universe, all its myriad secrets, and not become unhinged.

For most humans such an occurrence is infinitely unlikely. While every being born possesses the potential, few ever truly grasp what lies hidden, buried deep in their core. They simply cannot fathom the heights to which they can ascend. They live their simple mundane lives, scurrying about, shouting in their tiny voices as they attempt to carve out a happy little existence in their microcosm.

Born. Breed. Die. Recycle and repeat.

That is just the way it is for most humans. They do not aspire to anything greater then their own messy lives.

Nick Wolfe isn't like the vast majority of humans. He did not have parents in the normal sense of the word. He was raised by good people, a loving mother and father who taught him right from wrong.

Those people had nothing to do with his creation, his conception. No human did. Instead of being born in the standard way, Nick Wolfe, like all Immortals since time beyond measure, was spun out by a semi-sentient construct known only as the Key, a device designed to lock dimensional walls in place, keep the universe from slipping back into the primordial chaos it emerged from.

The Key wasn't a living thing, not as flesh and blood creatures reckon things. It was a machine, created for a simple function, but it was sentient in a sense. It knew there would come a day when some would wish to do it harm, unmake the order it had been created to maintain, so it had created warriors, protectors, fashioned them after the humans who inhabited the world it had been hidden upon. Filled them with all the knowledge it held, the knowledge of the universe.

Only, its children were flawed, driven insane by their knowledge. It was in that moment the Key realized its mistake. Humans' even its Immortal humans, needed to grow, to learn. So that was what the Key had done, made its humans the same as newborn humans and placed them among the mortals with a desire to seek it out, to serve it, protect it.

This arrangement served the Key well for many years, but eventually its children were subverted, corrupted by their humanness; greed, love, anger, desire, envy—all that made them human—filled them. Made it easy for an Old One to twist them.

The Key foresaw its own destruction and removed itself from danger, hiding itself away where none could find it. Still, it couldn't abandon its children, leave them alone, isolated in the world. Every year more Immortals were cast into the world, but all too soon the game was born and the first of its children died.

Down through the centuries they moved, hiding among the mortals. Some living through long years, others burning brightly, flashing brilliantly, but all too briefly. For every life snuffed two more were spun out.

Until Now.

There would never be another Immortal spun from the Key, its time had finally come to a close.

In its place had come Dawn Summers. Created by a group of well intentioned Monks whose sole purpose was saving the world from Glory, they had taken the Key and given it humanity… Flesh and blood, a life, a family, memories.

Nick knew this, saw it all flash through his mind the instant he glanced up at the pinnacle of the Tower. Dawn was up there, shackled in place.

He wished he could counsel her, let her know it was all going to be all right, that it was going to work out.

Only he couldn't

The next few hours were murky. So much, so many possible outcomes it was all so confusing. The only thing he knew for sure was…

"You're not," he began in a solemn voice as he turned to his gaze back to Glory, "going to see the morning sun." He smiled a vicious grin. "You'll be dead before first light."

Glory growled, "I'm going to destroy you once and for all," as she rushed forward in a blur. Her left fist punched a hole through the right side of his chest as she grabbed hold of his throat.

A loud report thundered, as a reedy mist of hazy gray smoke billowed up and out. "…Nausea…" A familiar voice said, the thick German accent hung heavy in the wispy air.

Buffy doubled over as she dropped to one knee and planted her right fist in the hard pavement. She heaved, several times, but nothing came up. Her knuckles were white as slim fingers strangled the haft of the Troll Hammer and she was slightly amazed the worn oak didn't splinter between her fingers.

Struggling to regain her composure, Buffy looked up and was more then a little annoyed to see everybody else was rearing to go.

"It can take…"

"Cannonball," Scott began using Sam's code name. His voice was razor sharp and Buffy knew that he got it.

"You," Glory hissed savagely.

Buffy had the distinct feeling, that for once, the Hellgod's anger wasn't directed at her. There was a sudden crack, like dry twig snapping.

Sam's body tensed, he seemed to be flexing every single muscle all at once. "On it Cyke," he said a bare moment before his lower body vanished; sheathed, encased, something…

Wolfe's limp body crashed into Kurt with a boneless quality. The pair went down in a tangled heap.

…Buffy wasn't sure what or how, only that it was. His legs looked like a space shuttle lift off in miniature. A gout of flame billowed and the next moment Sam blasted off, careened wildly for an agonizingly long beat before he stabilized an instant before slamming into Glory like a runaway comet, dislocating her from the ground.

Scott stared at the assembled mass of demons before him. From out of his visor a crimson beam of pure force lanced out. It started no bigger then the slit in his visor, the thickness of a day-planner, widening and thickening until it was a little bigger then a double-decker bus by the time it bowled over the host facing them. He made sure not to target any of the androids, there was no way to tell what their capabilities were and he had little desire to learn they could absorb kinetic energy.

"He needs to get out of there," Buffy said with deep concern in her voice as she surged back to her feet. She reached down, grabbed Kurt around his bicep and hefted him to his feet.

Kurt stared down at Wolfe as he muttered, "He's dead."

"He's Immortal, I've heard they do that from time to time," Buffy said, her voice humorless as she watched Sam and Glory. The pair twisted wildly for a moment as they rocketed away, crashing through the wall of an abandoned factory. "Sam's," Buffy snarled as she turned Kurt towards her, "got to get out…"

Suddenly Sam blasted through the factory roof, the lower half of his body was still sheathed in his kinetic blast field, but his head was thrown back and the jet of flames were beginning to putter out. A thunderous boom, a sound like the hand of god pounding a steel drum, crashed around them. The building began to crumple in upon itself as a wall of dust and debris blow out the windows.

"Kurt!" Scott shouted.

"Got…" Kurt vanished with a soft pop, leaving behind a cloud of sulfurous smelling grey smoke. He reappeared in Sam's path. "… him," he finished latching onto Sam as he reached the top of his trajectory. "Ruhen…" He vanished and reappeared with only a fraction of a fraction of a second between the two events. "…Sie leicht."

"Lord," Sam breathed out while trying to remain upright, "she can sure hit hard for a girl. Feels like I just slammed full tilt into the side of a mountain. More like the mountain fell on me."

With a deep rumble the factory collapsed upon itself. A large debris cloud bloomed around it. "Mein Gott," Kurt whispered. "Least we don't have to worry about her now," he observed warily.

Buffy growled, low in the pit of her stomach as she said, "What don't you people get? Glory ain't some low rent mutant, she isn't some abnormally strong freakazoid. She's a bonafide, card carrying, dues paying God. She's dropped buildings on herself before, they slow her down but they don't stop her." She glared at Sam. "You're lucky to be alive," she said slowly.

"Walk away, while you're able." Scott ordered the gathered horde. Most of the demons were just beginning to climb back to their feet, those that had been knocked over. Quite a few hadn't, mostly the Fyrals and a couple even larger that she didn't recognize.

Of the nine different species of demon she didn't recognize five, but the four she did, left her with a sour taste in the pit of her stomach. She didn't know much about Mohra demons except that shattering the gem in their forehead would destroy them. That was what Angel had done, that time one of them showed up on his doorstep right after Thanksgiving, while she was there telling him to stay out of her life, that he couldn't just pop back up whenever it suited him. Three of them, with half a dozen Sisters of Jhe, and ten Fyral demons were a handful all on their own.

Fyral demons were immensely strong, and they had paralyzing boogers if Spike was to be believed. Her only measuring stick against their kind came when Giles had been transformed into one by his once best friend turned arch nemesis, Ethan Rayne. That had been a tough fight, but Buffy suspected true Fyral demons, accustomed to what they were would be more of a challenge.

The Sisters of Jhe she's faced before and had hoped to never see again. One of them was tough enough, six of them… She had no idea how they were going to deal with six of them.

Lagos' big brothers were there as well. Even after two years she still didn't know if Lagos was suppose to be an individual name, a species name, a clan name, or some combination of the three. What she knew was they didn't look happy to see her, but in her experience no demon ever looked happy. Most of the time she figured it had something to do with skin condition. Nobody could be happy with skin that mottled, or was all dry and flakey, or slick and slimy, or of such drab colors.

Still, she couldn't figure out if Scott was deliberately trying to rile them up. She didn't think the man was stupid, but pissing off a bunch of demons, it wasn't exactly what she would call smart.

"Brave talk, for someone out numbered ten…" Carol began as she studied the small group. She had the feeling this was nothing more then an advance strike group, but that begged the question why? Dawn was the obvious answer, but they had yet to make a move for her. Why make a move now and expose themselves… give information on themselves away? It wasn't strategic.

Wagner and the Summers girl were known entities in this conflict. The boy was a complete unknown; that he disposed of Glory so quickly was impressive and gave her cause to be concerned. Cyclops was the X-Men's Field Marshal and his powers were well documented, but his presence here was unexpected. It also meant other X-Men could be on their way even now. Why throw away such an edge?

For a quick hit against Glory? Carol didn't think so, but that would indicate Wolfe was the objective. Why would they throw away a tactical advantage for a grandstand gesture to save Wolfe…? How had they even known Wolfe was in danger?

Everything swirled in her head until it clicked in place.

"Obviously you're not alone," she stated flatly as her gaze grazed the rooftops of nearby buildings. They were up there. She didn't know where but she knew they were.

"We're here for the girl, nothing else. If you try to stop us… We'll be forced to use lethal force." His voice carried, his words carrying a note of resigned sadness, but a solid conviction as well. While he may not relish the idea of killing, it wouldn't prevent him from carrying out his promise.

"The Key," Carol began but stopped as she cast a clinical eye on Buffy. An easy smile, almost friendly, creased her lips. "Pardon, Dawn Summers, has been granted a provincial citizenship to Latveria by Lord Doom."

"Latveria doesn't have any laws against recreational drugs?" Buffy questioned hoping to keep her tone even. It was hard as the woman's voice grated on her, set her blood to seething.

Carol's features turned serious and she said, "Your sister, Dawn, asked for, and was granted asylum by Lord Victor Von Doom."

Buffy fumed at the woman's words but managed to hold her tongue. The longer she kept the woman talking the closer reinforcements got. She could feel Logan, Faith and Spike racing towards her at a clip few others could match, but she was sure a couple more were with them.

If she stretched her awareness to its maximum she could just feel Willow and the others and knew they were making as good time as they could. They didn't possess any super powers yet they were coming as fast as humanly possible.

"I'm sure a temporary visa could be arranged for you Ms. Summers. You'd find Latveria very pleasant, relaxing. You could think of it as a vacation."

"The only way Dawn's leaving this country," Buffy hissed at Carol, "is over my dead body."

Carol sighed softly, almost sadly. "That's a shame, Lord Doom was truly looking forward to meeting you. But if that's the way you feel…" She raised her hand.

A high pitched whistle from above pulled everyone's attention up. At first Buffy didn't see anything, but then her gaze shifted above Dawn and her eyes widened at the man standing stoically in the air twenty feet above her sister. A deep red form fitting body suit accentuated a lean, well muscled frame. Dark slashes ran up the outside of each leg and disappeared under his folded arms. A dark patch circled each eye giving him a strange, raccoon like face.

"The fuck is he doing here?" Carol whispered. Deadpool was the highest paid mercenary on the open market for a reason. He had a reputation for accomplishing the impossible, a knack for surviving the unsurvivable.

He never failed.

He never gave up, never stopped. In that regard he was a lot like the Terminator.

She would've called him in except for one detrimental factor. He was clinically insane, not to mention psychotic and totally unpredictable.

"I'm good at what I do," Wade said suddenly, conversationally. "The best. Specially since Wolverine went AWOL and Creed went—No, Creed's always been a blood thirsty whack job. But there I was, the best Merc in the continent, currently unemployed, enjoying the downtime, watching my all time favorite channel, 616. Sort of like CNN… CNN for Mercs like me. All the coolest gadgets, the latest news. And what did my little eyes happen to spy?"

He paused for a beat, a very short beat before answering his own question. "Why, it was you guys gearing up for a nice big battle royal, bringing in talent from all over the world, but instead of going out, hiring yourselves hard working Mercs, like me you bring in Doom and the X-Men… And, demons."

With a slight shake of his head Wade said, "Now just to review a little; Doom is country, The X-Men, idealistic fools, and demons… Well, they're just sort of like people with really bad skin conditions. And all the while, you got me babe, the best Merc out there, sitting on the sideline and I say to myself, Self, something's wrong with this picture, people hire Creed but nobody even checks my references. Then it hits me, I obviously haven't been diligent in passing out my business cards. So I figured I'd drop by and hand out a few."

Unfolding his arms revealed an Uzi in each hand. In one smooth motion he opened fire on everyone below. "Don't be bashful," he shouted at them, an insane glee bubbling in his voice, as he took several steps forward. Reaching the curve in the invisible dome he slid down the side. "Take a couple, they're small."

Buffy reacted instinctively as she tackled Scott to the ground. Out of every possible scenario she imagined, this wasn't anywhere on her list. She was sort of glad life wasn't getting too predictable. She didn't give any thought that she might be just as crazy as the guy shooting at her.

Behind her she heard Sam's blast field kick in, the dull roar swallowed the soft bamf of Kurt teleporting but did nothing to cover the sulfuric stench.

She looked up, quickly bouncing to her feet, in time to see a hail of bullets cascade into the blonde. Buffy knew they hit the woman. Her clothes were being shredded by the high velocity projectiles. "This isn't good," Buffy muttered seeing the irritation smolder in Carol's eyes.

"Somebody bring me Deadpool's head," Carol ordered. Demons, who only moments before would have sneered at any command given them by a human suddenly found themselves clamoring to obey.

High powered rounds slammed into a pair of Fyral demons and while both staggered from the impact, neither went down. Another bullet sliced through a Mohra's chest blowing out a large hole. The wound began to close incredibly fast.

Carol felt a twinge of grudging respect for Buffy as the tiny blonde raced ahead, weaving to avoid the sporadic gunfire Deadpool was spraying across the impromptu battle field. One of the large demons, it was nearly a picture of a Greek minotaur, massive upper body covered in coarse fur and massive muscles, thick arms, that made the heavy axe in its hands look a toy. Its head, face possessed faint human characteristic softening its prominently bullish features.

Carol didn't have any idea about its name, individual or species, didn't care either. It was fodder and that was all. It, with its companion two step behind rushed the Slayer with a pair of howling roars, wickedly curved battle axes poised to strike, to cleave the porcelain frail girl.

Scott cut the beam off, his gaze instantly refocused on her, "Dodge this," he growled unleashing a short pulse of crimson force. It started off pencil thin by a foot out it was the size of a two story house cutting a swath in the ground.

Buffy glided inside the demons guard as the axe fell. The troll hammer shot up, the ancient head smashed into the demon's jaw, snapping the beast's head back with stunning force.

The demon flipped up and over landing flat on its face as Buffy darted forward. She dived avoiding the deadly arc of the demon's axe; rolled, came up to a knee, and pivoted driving the hammer into its knee with bone shattering force. It howled as the joint buckled and Buffy swung back around, the hammer screaming for the creature.

The creature managed to get its axe up in time, staving off death, at least momentarily. Buffy quickly twirled the weapons, interlocking the axe blade on the hammer's haft.

A crimson beam cut a path to her right as Buffy rose to her feet with a savage spin jerk the axe out of the demon's hands. She snatched the haft of axe out of air as she continued her tight spin, quickly disentangled the weapons a bare moment before she completed her spin and the axe severed its former owner's head from its shoulders.

Without stopping she quickly dived behind the corpse and used the massive body as a shield as rounds of ammo slammed into its body. For once Buffy was glad of her diminutive stature, headless and on its knees she only had to duck a little.

With a little whoop, Deadpool hit the ground and dove away avoiding the sniper fire that tore chunks out of the pavement. He loved snipers, they made days like today all that more interesting. He came up, Uzis ready, and quickly began strafing the rooftops of the nearby building were he suspected the snipers were positioned.

He had teleported in only a few moments before that crazy guy staggered up the road and goaded Glory into killing him. He found himself respecting the man for that.

He left Mike with explicit instructions not to get involved in the coming chaos, good support staff was hard to come by and he already sort of regretted killing David, and teleported above the tower. He had noticed something different about the area and took a chance.

He dropped twenty feet or so before he collided with a spongy surface. He couldn't see anything but he could feel it. Whatever it was felt a lot like a thick rubber mat and he wondered what it was for.

Then he saw the other four teleport in, and a sudden thought bubbled through his head. A shield might be just the recipe to keep a teleporter out, maybe? He wasn't about to take that risk.

He sat and watched the proceedings for a few minutes when things started off with such a kick, but after a few sharp volleys they settled in to lob a few lazy returns back and forth.

The word boring couldn't get out of his mouth fast enough. Things needed to be spiced up, so that was what he did. The slide down the side of the bubble had been a rush, the surface had been springing enough, with just enough give to slow him down and keep him from becoming a grease smear.

Not that he was too worried about that, his healing factor, with one or two minor draw backs was second to none… Well there was Logan and Creed, but other then them, and maybe one or two others, his healing factor was second to none.

He slipped his Uzis into specialized holsters and surveyed the field. The little blonde was good, she moved with grace and deceptive power and possessed a ruthlessly efficient brutality.

An entire host of demons stood between him and her. That didn't faze Deadpool; if it bled he was confident in his ability to kill it. Twin Katana seemed to just appear in his hands and a flash of a second later he was in the midst of the large Fyral demons.

A savage roar pulled Buffy's gaze upward where a Fyral demon screamed toward the hard pavement. The demon hit with a bone shuddering impact that crumpled pavement. It groaned groggily, but began to push itself back up. With the gunfire off her for the moment, Buffy let the corpse go; it fell to the ground with a wet sort of noise that dead things make.

For the first time in hours, days, Buffy finally felt comfortable. This is what she was good at, it was what she knew. Let somebody else lead, take charge, take responsibility when everything fell to pot in a Gucci handbag. She could lead, formulate plans and everything, and has on any number of occasions, but she liked it so much better when nobody was looking toward her for leadership and she could just be who she was meant to be.

With a serene sort of expression Buffy raised the Olaf's hammer and drove it into the back of the Fyral demon's skull, turning the cranium to mush.

Sam picked a target, one of the large bulky demons that gunfire was having very little affect on, and blasted off. It was always a rush to fly, to feel the blast of air against his face as he rocketed above the ground. It passed underneath him so quickly, only an instant passed before he slammed into the Fyral demon with a crushing impact.

It was a solid creature, but after tackling Glory earlier the demon felt like he hit a marshmallow. Altering his trajectory was always tricky for him, but he managed it relatively well this time as he spiraled upward. The creature spit on him or sneezed, Sam wasn't sure which or if it supposed to do something. If it was his blast field protected him from the effects.

At a hundred and fifty feet Sam released the demon, waited another beat and shut off his blast field, it was the only way he could effect radical changes in his direction. Free falling for a moment Sam picked out another target, one of the androids, straightened out and ignited his kinetic blast field.

Clouds of grey smoke began to pop up all over as Kurt started removing Glory's victims, depositing them inside a rundown warehouse. What he called clearing out the clutter. It would have been just as easy to remove the demons, possibly an android or two but that would leave completely defenseless victims of Glory in harm's way, which was something he was unwilling to do.

The Sister of Jhe slipped around the crimson beam Scott unleashed. Fine, Scott snarled in his head and swung the beam to the left. The Sister ducked underneath and rolled back the other way.

"Detain the Slayer and her companions," Carol instructed the troop of androids. "If the demons start to step out of line, put them down."

The factory rubble began to groan and rumble before it exploded upwards like a massive geyser, chunks of concrete and steel rained down in a deadly shower.

"There's a minor detail that requires my attention," Carol informed the androids, then paused briefly as she wondered why. A second shockwave erupted sending another shower of debris arching high into the air.

A spark of fear gnawed at her gut. She knew Glory was powerful; the Hellgod reveled in her vast strength, luxuriated in her invulnerability. It was Glory's depravity that worried Carol.

She had accepted the fact that her life could be snuffed out a long time ago. That was life as a soldier, her fate had always been held in the hands of others, to be thrown away on a whim.

It was that other thing Glory did that had Carol twisted inside. There was no way she was going to spend her remaining days as a nut, locked away in some asylum.

The size of a small meteor, Sam closed in one the sound barrier.

A scream, like a fighter plane racing to the ground, roared in the air as Sam rocketed toward one of Doom's androids. Sam wasn't worried about the impact; so long as his blast field was up he was effectively invulnerable.

The android didn't even realize it was in the crosshairs until Sam slammed into it with the force of a speeding bullet train. The ground erupted around them, a fountain of dirt and debris exploded into the air.

As the dust began to settle, Sam coughed against the back of his hand as he staggered to his feet, gazing down. "Lord, you're put together better then Papa's '53 Chevy," he gushed in wide-eyed wonder. The android was seriously damaged, right arm dangling by a few wires, chest cavity cracked with tiny bolts of blue lightening sparking at irregular intervals, but otherwise it was still in one piece.

A shadow fell over the small crater and Sam looked up, suddenly remembering where he was. A second android stood over him, a huge boulder held aloft as if it was made out of papier-mâché. His blast field kicked in as adrenalin surged through his veins.

A razor thin beam of crimson force pulverized the boulder and Sam suddenly found himself capable of breathing once again as a need to empty his bladder faded into the background. He rocketed out of the hole, slamming head first into the androids chest, but only managing a glancing blow as the machine reacted with deceptively fast mechanized quickness.

Blue energy slammed into his side, it didn't hurt, but it did throw him off stride. With the lost of concentration his blast field shut off and he tumbled out of the sky. If not for long hours spent learning how to fall, Sam knew his landing could have been far worse then it was, though he didn't think he was going to walk properly for a week.

"Nightcrawler," Scott called out over his comlink. It wasn't as sophisticated as the devices S.H.I.E.L.D. operatives had, but they were top of the line communicators, better then what the military possessed at any rate. "Get Cannonball out of there."

Scott didn't like how this was playing out; they were jumping all over, putting out one brush fire before leaping on the next one while an inferno blazed all around them. They couldn't keep this up much longer. If reinforcements didn't burst onto the scene in the next thirty seconds or so, they wouldn't need a rescue.

He took his emotions and shoved them down deep, and concentrated on the job at hand. Worrying about what might or might not happen wasn't going to change what was happening.

Without hesitation Scott opened fire, a crimson beam lanced out from his visor an instant after Kurt began to materialize. The optic blast devastated the android. Driving the machine ten feet from its previous position. A second beam followed, only the android reacted faster then the first had, and avoided the brunt of Scott's attack.

A third android returned fire, unleashing a stream of blue energy from a diamond shaped gem in its chest plate. Scott's optic blast lashed out meeting the energy wave head on, they burst in a cascade of sparks as the two beams smashed together vying for supremacy.

Kurt flipped backward, avoiding the machine's calculated punch, it was faster then he had anticipated, smarter as well. A Pair of them we're keeping him away from Sam. They fought with an eerily human quality, keeping him off balance.

They were fast, too fast for him to risk teleporting in and grabbing the young man. For an instant he would be vulnerable; against most he would chance it, life as a high wire trapeze artist lent itself to a bit of risk taking and dare doing, but those things weren't human and reacted with lightening speed, faster then any person. He wasn't going to put Sam at risk. Not until he was positive of the outcome.

Buffy struck and dodged, she thrust, parried; danced among the demons, axe and hammer doing their utmost to hold the horde at bay. Small bloodstains dotted her top where a blade or claw managed to slip through her guard. On those rare occasions she would lash out scoring a hit of her own reminding them exactly who they were dealing with.

There was no time for her to think; right now, thinking would get her killed. Everything was happening too fast, better to allow her instincts to guide her. She wasn't sure how much longer she would be able to keep up the frenetic pace she was pushing now, a minute, ten…

Or did she only have another thirty seconds before a misstep put an end to her life.

None of that went through her mind as she scrunched down, twirling away from one attack, the of the haft smashing into the Mohra demon's lower back as the hammer passed the blade of a Sister of Jhe. With it's longer reach Buffy smashed the hammer head into the demon's face. The Mohra staggered as it spun around to lash out at her. Its attack went wide of the mark and it had to leap back quickly to avoid losing its leg to the gleaming axe blade.

There was no time to do more as she sensed a Fyral demon behind her. With a quick roll she avoided its heavy foot that would have crashed into her back and put herself in the shadow of the Jhe Sister. A solid mule kick to the Sister's hip shoved her in the foot's path. Too slow or too dimwitted the Fyral never even tried to alter its attack and its foot collided with her body. The Sister dropped to the ground with a bone shuddering thud.

Carol stopped as a deafening roar exploded out in a great fountain of debris. Chunks of rubble, concrete and steel fell all around her like a deadly hail storm, but Carol didn't flinch away. To her, even the largest piece of debris was little more then an annoyance. Almost like a swarm of gnats.

What was left of the factory, nothing more then a large pile of rubble had been shifting violently for nearly a minute and Carol figured Glory was close to escaping her own captivity. Carol knew it was too much to ask that the woman had killed herself.

Glory was suddenly in front of her, the woman was fast enough. Almost too fast. The irritation write on her face was enough to make Carol smirk, but she was careful to keep her expression neutral. "Isn't that wonderful," Glory mumbled disdainfully as she took in the chaos playing out below. She looked back at Carol and asked, "Shouldn't you be down there doling out orders?"

"They already have their orders," Carol answered. Her tone sounded overly casual. Glory began to walk past, and Carol added, "Just as I do," as she grabbed Glory's bicep. She pulled Glory back around as she moved forward, smashing her left fist into Glory's jaw.

Glory spun, pin wheeling frantically before she crashed to the ground. She landed in a heap, stunned. Her pride hurt far worse then she was. She looked back over her shoulder with a mixture of shock and anger. "How?" In her entire existence no human had ever struck as hard, not even the Slayer. There was a dull throb in her jaw.

"Did you believe Lord Doom to be such a fool that he wouldn't ferret out the truth? That your use of the Key would destroy the Earth… Blend all of existence, something that would throw a serious kink in his goals and that's something Lord Doom can't allow to happen."

Glory smirk as she rose back to her feet. "Yet he's not here," she pointed out calmly.

"He has every confidence in my ability to handle…" Hard eyes scathe over Glory. "… the situation."

Glory rushed forward, nothing more then a blur Carol barely tracked. Three rapid punches, first the gut followed by two heavy hook punches to the head, that sent Carol crashing to the ground. "Seems to me that would be over confidence," Glory gloated to the prone woman.

A savage growl hisses from between Carol's lips as she glared over her shoulder. She had anticipated the attack, on the woman's speed and counted on her innate knack of knowing where to be and where not to be, to guide her; only there had been nothing.

Carol wasn't sure if it was Glory or the proximity to ritual that was throwing it off. She survived just fine without it long before she ever gained powers and she'd survive without again.

It was so simple now, not like in the beginning, after Doom saved her from exposure to alien radiation and she first discovered she could fly. It was an exhilarating experience, soaring through the air, feeling it rush past. It was so freeing but mostly hit or miss. Long years of practice had given her an infinite measure of control. She shot backward like a bullet fired from a gun.

A hard shoulder slammed into Glory's chest driving her back half a dozen feet before she exerted her will and brought them to an abrupt stop, used Carol's momentum to twist her up and over, slamming Doom's lieutenant into the ground with enough force to cause buildings to tremble. A fraction of a heart beat later her fist descended.

Carol left palm slapped Glory's forearm, barely deflecting the blow. Her right plowed into Glory's chin, but the punch barely slowed the woman as she grabbed Carol's arm, spun and hurled her nearly thirty feet away. She hit hard and skidding back several more feet, but was back on her feet a moment later.

A moment was too long as Glory blurred forward, close-line her, forearm lashing across her chest to send her whip-crashing to the ground. For a brief moment, almost a pause she seemed to float in the space between seconds. As if time stopped having meaning and she could study, in great detail and the utmost reverence to the most mundane things; the petals of a flower, the veins of a leaf, the type of stitching in Glory's gown, the cracks and seams of a piece of rubble.

Then just as Carol realized she could, time snapped back to normalcy and she slammed, into the ground with a bone jarring force that caused her to bounce twice. Winded and dazed there was no way for Carol to brace for Glory's foot as it collided with her ribs.

She sailed through the air, crashed to ground thirty feet away and found herself hoisted to her feet before she rolled to a stop. Glory's left fist felt like a pile driver as it smashed into her face, "Did you…" Right hand followed and Carol felt teeth rattle. "…think, you could stop me?" Another left and right. "I'm a God." A left staggered Carol, but she reacted instinctively, her left arm wrapped around Glory's, cinched in tightly, painfully. She swung Glory around, pulling her into her right forearm. Glory crashed to the ground, bounced up roughly. Her right foot lashed out connecting with Carol's hip, keeping the woman off her.