AUTHOR'S NOTE: This chapter marks the first chapter of the two-part end of the first arc of the story. The characters' time in Storybrooke is coming to the end, but the story is far from over. They'll have new challenges to face upon returning to the Enchanted Forest. Also as a reminder, please check out my Fringe-Once Upon A Time Crossover Fic, which is a companion to this one.
The group of resistance fighters and escaped prisoners were about a ten-minute walk from the portal when the rear guard saw the trolls emerging from an underground entrance.
"The trolls are coming," the scout yells.
Everyone turns back to see hundreds of trolls emerge from the cave. Upon seeing them, all the civilians drop their few possessions and start running full out for the portal.
"We'll have to fight them," Emma says.
"We only have thirty trained soldiers," Lance says. "That's nowhere near enough to win the battle."
"We don't have to win the battle we just have to hold them off long enough to allow the civilians to escape through the portal," Emma replies.
"And what's to stop the trolls from following them through the gateway?" the scout asks.
"I have some kind of magical powers," Emma says. "I don't fully understand how they work, but I did manage to free the slaves from their enchantment. I hope that I may have the power to close the portal behind me."
"I agree with Emma on this," Graham says. "We have no choice."
As they plan, the trolls advance.
"Do we have any bows and arrows?" Emma asks.
"Yes, we have enough bows and arrows for all our troops," Lance answers.
"Good," Emma says. "Who's your second-in-command?"
"That would be me," a man says. "Corporal Zell."
"Corporal, you're in charge of making sure the civilians get through the portal," Emma says. "Make sure my son, Pinocchio, and all the other children are first."
"But mom, I want to see you fight," Henry protests.
"I want to fight too," Pinocchio adds.
"Henry, I don't have a lot of time," Emma says gently. "I won't be able to concentrate properly knowing you're in danger."
"But what if you die?" Henry asks, afraid.
"I'm not going to die," Emma says in her most reassuring voice. "I'm the Chosen One, remember? Who killed that dragon?"
"Right," Henry says, his fear vanishing.
"Take them now," Emma orders as the trolls near their position. "Archers, draw your arrows and prepare to fire."
Corporal Zell immediately takes the two children and heads for the portal while Emma gets a bow and turns to Graham.
"Are you sure you want to stay with us?" Emma asks.
"I am," Graham says. "For so long, I was enslaved by the Queen and before that I was a wanderer, never having a home. But since meeting you, I finally feel like I belong somewhere."
Emma is not sure how to respond to this, so she just nods and turns back to the trolls. "Fire," she commands.
At her command, all the archers fire, most of the arrows hit their mark, causing twenty-six trolls to fall to the ground, either injured or dead. The trolls respond by having their archers fire back. A few hit their mark, killing two soldiers and injuring three others.
Emma is hit hard as she realizes soldiers under her command have been killed. She isn't used to being responsible for anyone but herself, and now she is leading a group of soldiers into battle. She looks around desperately for some option, but saw no cover. She could see no choice but to hold their ground, and buy time for her people to escape.
Snow looks at her daughter in shock. Emma is in a gown that she recognizes as the work of Abigail, her royal seamstress. Her make-up is expertly done, making her look even more beautiful than she normally does. She also has an expression of contentment and happiness that Snow has never seen on her daughter in the brief time since they were reunited, but what really caught her attention was Emma's stomach. She was eight months pregnant.
"Emma, you're pregnant," Snow blurts out.
"Way to state the obvious," Emma says smiling at her mother's bewildered expression.
"But how?" Snow asks.
"I'm from the future," Emma answers. "Your wish allowed me to project my image here, but I don't have long."
"My wish?" Snow asks. "You mean about what to do about Rumplestiltskin's offer?"
"Yes," Emma says. "You cannot accept his offer. To do so would invite disaster."
"But Emma, he showed me your childhood," Snow says. "It was horrible."
Emma shudders. "Yes it was," she says. "But it was necessary. It helped me become who I am. It gave me strength for the trials I had to face after returning to the world of my birth."
"Trials upon returning home?" Snow asks in confusion. "What trials?"
"I can't say much about it it's something that's going to happen very soon," Emma says sadly. "But I want you to know that you will be an excellent mother to me. I know it will always sadden you that I never had a proper childhood, but you will make sure the rest of my life is happy." Emma begins to fade. "My time is almost up," she says. "I have to go. Now you need to get to the marina. You'll be needed there."
"Wait," Snow says. "I have so many questions for you! Who's the father of your child?"
"Spoilers," Emma says, with a mysterious smile as she disappears.
As soon as she vanishes, James and Rumplestiltskin begin moving again. Rumplestiltskin quickly looks around, having sensed the build-up of power around him. Something happened the second Snow White said she wished she knew what to do, invoking some kind of magic.
"What magic was that?" he asks. "What just happened?"
"No deal," Snow says.
"What happened when you made your wish?" Rumplestiltskin asks again.
"I received information on what would happen if I made a deal with you," Snow says. "I won't ever make that mistake again."
"Well then I'll just have to go to Plan B," Rumplestiltskin says, and disappears.
"Snow, what happened?" James asks.
"I'll tell you later," Snow says. "Right now, we need to get to the marina."
Elsewhere, in a hidden room built under the hospital, Belle is sitting in her cell reflecting as she has for the past twenty-eight years. She doesn't know how long she's been here only that it seems like forever. She remembers the day she found out she was pregnant with Rumplestiltskin's child. When her father discovered it, he said Rumplestiltskin had cursed her and called nuns to lock her up in a tower. She wasn't there for long when the woman she met on the road showed up. 'The Queen' she remembered Rumplestiltskin telling her that was who the woman was.
"What do you want?" Belle had asked.
"What I want is you, my dear," the Queen had replied. "You are going to be my chance to destroy Rumplestiltskin once and for all."
"I won't help you," Belle had said defiantly.
"Such loyalty," she had laughed, "but tragically misplaced. I'm afraid. Rumplestiltskin doesn't care for you or the child. I'm going to lock you away where he can never find you."
After that, the Queen had Belle locked away in a special cell in her castle that prevented anyone from magically sensing her. A few months later, the Queen cast her curse and transported them all to this new world. The Queen implanted new memories in Belle that would enable the Queen to control her.
However, the Queen made a fatal mistake in her plan. The magical protections she put on the cell to prevent people from sensing Belle, also protected her from the Queen's curse. She was able to retain memories of her original life.
This enraged the Queen, so she built another special magic-proof cell under the hospital and that was where Belle remained for twenty-eight years. Nothing much happened to her in all that time. The Queen would make occasional visits to try to get Belle to change her mind about joining her side, which she always refused to do.
Then, a few weeks ago, something changed. She noticed the baby starting to grow again, and the visits by the Queen grew more frequent. She knew something was going on in the outside world, but didn't know what. Then today, she started hearing screams from the upper floors of the hospital. She was starting to grow worried, something was happening and she had no idea what. She just had to hope someone would find her, but considering she had been hoping the same thing for over twenty-eight years, she didn't think there was much chance of that.
"I'm sorry father," Ariel says as the first arrows fly through the portal. She knows there is no way now to save her people. They are going to die. She grabs the shovel she was using to dig the trench to use as a weapon against whatever creature comes through the portal.
It shocks her that what emerges from the portal is not hideous creatures, but several dozen children followed by a soldier carrying a sword and a stream of people dressed in shabby clothes. The group immediately clears away from the portal as arrows continue to emerge behind them, barely missing them.
"What's going on?" Gepetto asks in amazement.
"Dad," Pinocchio exclaims, running to his father.
"My boy," Gepetto says, embracing his son. "Where did you come from?"
"We came from the Forbidden Realm," Pinocchio says. "Princess Emma rescued us."
"Emma!" Gepetto exclaims, for the first time realizing that their new deputy was in fact Snow White and King James' daughter. "Where is she?"
"She's fighting the trolls on the other side of the portal," a worried Henry says.
At that very moment on the other side of the portal, Emma was fighting with Captain Lance and his troops, and their side was not doing well. They had abandoned their bows and arrows as the trolls reached their position, drawing their swords to try to keep the trolls from getting to the portal.
"Capture the Chosen One," Commander Kajsa shouts.
The trolls all focus their attacks on Emma. Together they manage to knock her sword out of her hand, and one overeager troll, forgetting they were supposed to capture her alive, goes in for the kill. Graham, seeing this, quickly knocks Emma out of the way of the attack. Time slows down for Emma as she sees the troll's sword, preparing to behead the captain. She looks around for her weapon and sees her sword embedded in a nearby rock. She quickly dives for it, pulls it out of the rock, and deflects the troll's attack just in time.
A golden glow envelops her and she looks down to see that lightweight steel armor has replaced her torn clothes. She looks at the sword and realizes it isn't hers. She reads the hilt and it says 'Excalibur' on it.
"You've got to be kidding me," Emma mutters in disbelief. However, the trolls regroup against her, cutting her thoughts short. The sword seems to alleviate her fatigue, so she quickly dives back into battle, killing three of the trolls easily.
"All the civilians are through the portal," one of the soldiers shouts.
"Everyone, fall back through the portal," Lance orders.
Emma swings her sword in a wide arc, causing the trolls to fall back a few feet and then dashes for the portal with the trolls right behind her.
When she reaches it, she sees everyone but Graham and Lance have gone through. "Go!" she shouts.
The three of them dive through at the same time.
"Portal, I command you to close!" Emma shouts.
The portal immediately closes, just before the trolls can get through.
"Is everyone okay?" Emma asks.
"We are fine, Princess," Corporal Zell says.
"Emma," Gepetto says, hugging the princess. "I am so glad you are safe. It was I who created the magical wardrobe which carried you..."
"We don't have time for this," Ariel says. "My people are dying. We need to finish this trench and fill it with water."
Emma quickly turns to see the hundred or so mer-people in bad shape.
"Okay everyone, grab a shovel and start digging," Emma commands.
Emma quickly grabs a shovel, followed by the soldiers and nearly a hundred adults. Why the marina had so many shovels was a mystery, but Emma wasn't about to question it. Working together, the group manages to complete the trench and fill it with water in about ten minutes. They then quickly help the mer-people into it before any of them die.
"Thank you," Ariel says.
"No problem," Emma responds. "Now we have to determine what to do next."
At this point, Snow and James come rushing up to the group.
"Emma, you're okay," Snow says in relief, rushing to hug her daughter. Despite the vision she had of her future daughter earlier, it was still a relief to hold her in the flesh once again. Her father was right behind Snow, joining in the embrace.
After a minute, the three break apart and Snow and James look at the group before them.
"Gepetto, Grumpy, Pinocchio, Ariel, Prince Eric, Nova, Captain Lance," Snow greets her long absent friends, "it's good to see you again."
"What happened to you after you dived into that portal?" James asks. "And where'd you get that armor?"
"It's a long story," Emma says.
Her father then examines the sword Emma is carrying and his jaw drops in astonishment. "Is that Excalibur?" James asks in complete disbelief.
"Like I said a long story," Emma says. She is preparing to tell her story when black storm clouds cover the sky of the town, which had been purple since the force field appeared. Then the wind starts blowing heavily and lightning flashes. "Now what?" she asks in frustration as the group turns to the sky in apprehension.