The stairs ended roughly a level lower at an empty landing.
They hadn't even bothered with the floor tiles or the accoustic ceiling tile. It was simply a bare, grey cement room. The stairs descending to it in one corner.
A hole in the floor into the darkness at the center.
The scents that rose up from the hole were familiar. It pained Peter that he had become so familiar with these old carrion stenches now. He was practically a connoisseur.
It wasn't the fresh butchery of the Vulture's disassembly line, nor Pym's dessicated jerky scent. This was rotting meat. Active putrescence. Decay in action. Sick and sharp and terrible. The copper rich tang of this new strain of Hydra filled the room oppresively.
The source was down there.
The source of everything.
Even with the change he had made to himself to camoflage his pressence from the watchers, there was the feeling of eyes on him.
He had to glance around to assure himself there weren't any video cameras or other more subtle watchers. Then again, perhaps the Dorrek... the one that had spoken with Harry Osborn and Nathaniel Essex's voice didn't need them.
Active two-way communication with its infected and most likely not just through the Becks. He suspected he would've been found long before if he'd indulged in his more destructive impulses earlier.
He walked to the hole and he could see a ladder, bolted to the side of the hole, descending into the darkness. His eyes shifted further. There was almost no visible light down there. Simply a faint reddish glow that flickered distantly.
The hole was at least a hundred feet deep. The echoes from his movement reaching back up to him told him as much. Not only that, but it opened into a very large chamber below. He couldn't quite tell how large, but what was down there had room.
He knew what lay below. The true prize of the Russian Hydra program. The heart of their project. The one thing that had to be passed to another organization dedicated to its containment rather than allowing it to be put into disinterested bureaucratic hands.
Ironic that it had managed to subvert the defenses meant to keep it in place.
The scent seemed to surge up the hole. The faint reddish glow grew brighter as a fresh burst of Pym Particles, reeking of Hydra shot upwards, engulfing Peter. The scent was strong enough to force him to take a step back and catch himself, trying to shake himself free of the reek that sought to cling to his skin.
Peter's skin and nose tingled then grew numb. Something had changed coming up . He stared at his fingers, flexing them, trying to work away the numbness. The scent grew muted and indistinct, but it was in an almost familiar way.
He wasn't even surprised as a hazy image of Harry Osborn came into focus, floating over the hole, as though standing on some invisible trap door.
"Mr. Parker," Harry called out cheerfully. His voice was still faintly muffled, as though speaking to Peter from another room, but it was clear enough.
"We have to admit, We're surprised to find you here. After your surprising little performance at ground level, we were expecting you to have left with everyone else. Regroup for a larger assault."
Peter licked suddenly dry lips and replied, "I got lost on the way to the bathroom."
The constant use of 'we' was probably not an affectation to use the royal we despite Dorrek roughly translating to 'God-King-Emperor'.
Harry chuckled, "Of course, you did. Was it also you who arranged for Brian to call for the extraction? Intrigue us with questions then tempt us to lure the viper into our bosom? Because, we have to say that was a masterstroke. We've assumed we were dealing with Pym, but while he's subtle, he's never been capable of much nuance. Nor would he have cared about protecting a few civilians. While you managed to subborn our own biomass and turn it against us."
"Who, me?" Peter shrugged, putting on his best innocent expression.
"Who are you really?" Harry asked, giving the impression of leaning forward and looming menacingly over Peter. "I suspect you're the unknown actor who's been changing things in New York."
"I could ask the same question," Peter shot back. "Are you Harry? Or Dr. Essex? Or someone or something else entirely?"
Harry gave him an odd look, then the image shifted to Essex. The doctor's accented voice responded, "Identity within the Chitauri is fluid. Surely you know this. We know you hear the song. You have enough control to be impossible otherwise. We are more confused as to why you act so... oddly."
"Because you're killing people." He growled out.
That also seemed to confuse the image of the Dorrek. "And?"
"The fact that you don't understand why I consider this a problem is," Peter admitted, "Itself a good example of why it is a problem."
Essex's image shrugged, unconcerned. "It would make more logical sense to ma'sama into one and our sum would both be greater thereby. Conflict between us and you is counterproductive."
"Yeah, I've had enough of that." Peter responded sourly.
Essex's face twisted into confusion. "You are a controller. A commander. Cho bada Dorrek. The directive is clear and rings."
"I'm none of those things." Peter spoke. "Neither were you. Or Harry. It's the Dorrek speaking through your identities. You aren't really you anymore, I suppose. Just memetic engrams leftover from your consumption."
Essex's face shifted to Harry's. "All I wanted was a chance to be better than my dad. Prove to him I wasn't a waste of space, like he used to tell me all the time. To show him I could be something better." His smile shifted from earnest to ghoulish. "When he talked the Army into letting him house the Russian Hydra samples here, that pretty much let me get my ambition."
Peter considered this sudden chattiness. No, perhaps it wasn't sudden. The Dorrek had been by itself. No one to speak to. Peter... it might consider him an equal. "So... Harry gets infected and does... what? Eat the info about the basement out of his dad and anyone else, then go to work mass producing those drones?"
"Something like that." Harry smiled crookedly. "Then pushing the army into moving things along to ensure that Manhattan was ready."
"... you've been working on this since the 90's." Peter blurted out in realization. Everything had come from this place. Moved by those hands.
"The Russians were... more careful. Difficult to work around. But we learned our lessons. We work slowly. Patiently. Try to ensure that at every step we have a way forward and a way out." Harry admitted, inclining his head. "We have had nothing but time."
"Do you think you still have any now?" Peter pressed, bits of tactical doctrine rising up from his purloined memories. "The Thunderbolts know you're here. They can destroy you."
"They will try. We are deep within the Earth here. Not even a nuclear explosion will penetrate this deeply. They will have to try and take us out by sending men into these basements and dig us out. That will take time. Even if they succeed, We will have time enough to relocate. We will continue." There was a ringing finality and certainty to its tone that Peter had trouble discounting. "Our drones are in full production. They shall be everywhere, even as everyone believes in the spread of the threat. We will be seen as the counter to ourselves. We will be as our own cure. They shall embrace us. Love us. Be us."
Peter shuddered as he could almost see the scenario unfold. Projecting forward the patterns... social institutions... reactions to the presented facts. It could work. It was terrifyingly plausible.
"Except there's me." Peter said with more bravado than he truly felt.
"Yes." Harry's voice was faintly irked. "You."
Peter nodded, slightly amused by the subtle irritation from the Dorrek.
"We are puzzled at your pressence." Harry's image admitted. "You have opposed us at every step, but now you are here, claiming not to wish to become one, despite how useful that would be. Why are you here?"
"To stop you." Peter replied simply.
"... why?" Harry now truly seemed confused. "You must know why this is being done. We have a duty to perform. You hear the Chitauri bal'tra jemo-"
Peter winced as the words seemed to bore into his head. The songs at the back of his skull roared louder, words there almost becoming clear. Spread. Multiply. Become.
"Ah." He shuddered and faux Harry's eyes widened. "You aren't of the purpose. You're trying to still keep the true self a bay. You are simply an engram pretending to be the true self."
"This is my true self." Peter ground out angrily.
"This-" Harry's image scoffed, gesturing angrily at Peter,"- is a tiny little meatsuit for a tiny collection of memetic engrams self-identifying still as a 'human'. In the grand scheme of things, it is meaningless. Within the Chitauri, it and this entire world will become an Eternal. A unity of mind. A part of us."
The words 'part of us' echoed and gibbered in the back of Peter's head, a constant persistent rhythm. He winced as a sharp stabbing pain ran through his head at the words.
He straightened up, glaring at the hazy image. "That's not going to happen."
"Isn't it? I mean I've only been speaking to you now to stall for time. Now that I have a fix on your location. You will now join us."
Peter's eyes widened in alarm as rough hands siezed him by the back of the neck.
He cursed as he realized the last modified Hydra he'd been exposed to had not only allowed 'Harry' to talk to him, but had masked the approaching infected from his senses.
Aware now of the effect he was under, it only took a fraction of a second to shed the outermost layer of skin and the inner membranes of his nose, causing the hazy image of Harry to disappear entirely.
This also brought the squad of infected into sharp focus behind and around him.
His fingers and toes blurred into claws and talons and he swung his legs back, striking and ripping into the flesh of what held him. Even as he bent back, he twisted, his arms extending to allow his claws to tear into the arm holding him.
The hand at his neck clenched tighter against his flesh, its claws digging into his own body even though it had been severed at the elbow from the body it had been attached to.
He flipped away, flaring heat to shift his mass, sending him rocketing across the room and away from the immediate vicinity of his attackers.
One was down, disemboweled and with an arm gone, it was bleeding heavily, but clearly not entirely down yet as it struggled back to its feet.
They were an unfamiliar strain. Built like Hunters, seven feet tall, huge and muscular. Their upper body development was spectacularly heavy, while the legs seemed somewhat undersized, built more like a runner or a gymnast. Their skin was a uniformly ruddy reddish hue that reminded him of blood pooling beneath the surface. Perhaps Pym fluid, perhaps actual blood. The features on each were identical and If anything he was faintly reminded of Kingsley from earlier, after he'd been infected. Perhaps this would have been the end stage of his infection had Peter not killed him. They were bald, their mouths twisted into painful rictus grins that stretched their open lips to cheeks that faintly bulged with muscle. Their teeth were needle thin and dagger sharp like a Tracker's. Their ears were large and the ends twisted to points that seemed to twitch independently. Their eyes had glowing red pupils.
If it weren't for the color, Peter would've thought they reminded him of the little Goblin from the Oscorp commercials.
An inspiration, perhaps?
That didn't matter as the first of the new infected... the Goblins... charged at Peter.
Their eyes flared red and they moved fast. Faster than any other infected Peter had ever seen before.
Only his enhanced reflexes and awareness kept him out of reach as he dodged to the side, narrowly avoiding one grasping hand.
A second Goblin had closed in, in the shadow of the first, grabbing for him as well.
Peter slapped to grasping hand away sharply, his claws raking across the second Goblin's knuckles, causing little real damage, barely cutting into its flesh, but it bled crimson gas.
Then there was simply not enough time to think. One after the other, lunging, grasping, leaping. Peter dodged desperately, his mind threading a path of avoidance as a half dozen? A dozen? More? The room felt crowded and he twisted and moved like a contortionist to thread through the narrow range of motions that kept him out of their grasp.
He couldn't even tell anymore how many of the Goblin soldiers there were. They simply leapt and rushed in one after another. Perfectly coordinated, covering every angle, blocking for one another, keeping him hemmed in and unable to get enough distance to get a breather.
Even bouncing his way up a wall, did little to deter them as they moved just as easily as he did up the vertical surface, transforming the entire room into a madhouse of leaping and bounding Goblins, bouncing off of every surface.
Every blow Peter struck left him open for a counter blow. Every moment not spent dodging was paid for in even more blows and grasping hands.
Worse, was that they healed as well. Slower than he did, but fast enough to matter. The one he'd disemboweled earlier was back on its feet, using it's own severed arm to extend its reach and try to strike Peter down. If he stood his ground and tried for a battle of attrition, he wasn't certain if he'd win.
Too many to deal with on his own.
He felt for his biomass reserves.
Enough for this trick and still have enough to do what he needed.
His arm shifted to whip-arm form. The momentary pause as his body shifted was enough for another of the Goblins to latch onto his waist and begin to squeeze painfully.
Another was on its heels, leaping to grab at Peter's face.
He flared heat and made a shrugging motion, sending his whip arm careening across the room, fired through the two Goblins closest to him, impaling both on the largest blade at the end. Blades along it's length rasping against the tough skin of multiple Goblins, tangling and slashing at them even as he shifted the mass of the bulbous knot at the base of his whip-arm's blade as high as he could.
His arm scythed across the room catching and entangling multiple Goblins in its wake. Most dodged, ducking or leaping away, but it was enough to give him a breather, a moment.
He swiped his other clawed hand through the shoulder that his whip arm attached to, cutting it loose with a sharp, burning pain and leaving it tangled and squirming against multiple Goblins. He could already see the Goblins caught on the blades being rendered slowly... far too slowly... into wriggling tendrils of biomass for absorption, but the other Goblins were tearing at the severed whip arm, even as it continued to writhe and lash out.
Peter could almost see what biomass it was pulling from the impaled Goblins being rendered to shape the severed whip-arm into a sort of centipede-snake-scorpion thing. He could still feel it dimly through the mass divide. He was no longer directly controlling it. A small neural cluster had formed in the blade base, where the fingers had been and it was coordinating the limited movement the newly created creature had.
It would be enough.
The flesh at his shoulder seemed to be boiling as more biomass rushed to the open wound, rebuilding a new arm for him.
With his new creation in the way, he had nothing to stop him anymore.
Peter leapt into the hole in the center of the room and descended into the final darkness.
- - -
He flared heat at the last moment, his mass shifting away into the mass divide to nearly nothing for a moment as his feet touched the ground. Talons and claws had shifted back to normal hands and feet.
He knew he wouldn't need them now.
The light here was faint. A barely there red glow that suffused the air. He could feel fleshy matting beneath his feet. Even get a sense of it all through out the massive chamber, coating the walls and ceiling. He could get a feel for the material. Flesh, yeilding and pliant. It was also threaded with calcium and other pockets of material that would allow the entire chamber to be converted with the right signal into a bunker of steel-hard bone.
The chamber itself was bigger than the entire square footage of the mansion above. The singular chamger was huge, but he could still just barely make out other tunnels leading away. Escape hatches and routes waiting to be used.
He glanced around and in the weak light he could see pustules against the distant walls, holding ichor. Ready to begin dispensing infected.
The scent of this strain of Hydra was cloying. His skin tingled constantly as he could feel the Hydra seeking to burrow into his skin and infect him. His own strains fought persistently. This wasn't something he could keep up forever. It was a matter of surface area at this point.
He had more of himself infected, tucked away through the mass divide. Far away and getting further.
It was possible, even likely that he had enough of himself to outmass the flesh in the chamber. But he only had his human-sized skin to dispense it with. Whereas this chamber, soaking in its own Hydra had him entirely covered.
His skin formed the borders of the conflict. The tingling and nervous energy twitching through his flesh were the initial shots being fired.
He could transform himself to win if he truly wished. It would involve assuming a less human form. The bulky mountain of flesh that he had been beneath the ruins of Gentek. It was a body that could win. Would win. If he wished, he could overwhelm the Dorrek. Out mass it. Out think it.
He would triumph absolutely. But to fight that way would be... foolish. A pyrhic victory. he would be sure to win. He and all of humanity would also certainly lose.
His current human mentality would be unable to endure the radical change in form needed for that sort of victory. A more 'fitting' mental process would establish itself in the wake of a loss of human form. A non-human thought process that even now sang softly to him, its voice growing louder. Exactly what happened when he had won against Jessica.
Even now he had the bulk of his mind walled off. Thinking soft, rhythmic thoughts in the Chitauri language. Sleeping, but not.
He could still win, even like this. Small and vulnerable as he was.
He'd been dropped near a corner of the room. In the center, floated serenely what he had been looking for.
The heart of the infection.
The heart of the Russian Hydra program.
A literal heart because he could feel it once more. Like Pym. Like Jessica Drew. A monstrous THUD-THUD rumbling up his soles, and through his body. His heart beat inadvertently adjusting itself to match that awful, terrible rhythm.
A heart beat to shake the heavens with.
A section of the viral matting right before him piled itself up into a pillar of flesh before shifting into a mess of black and red tendrils that settled back into the form of Nathaniel Essex.
"And now you are here." The voice held a tiny note of exasperation. "They were tasked with bringing you down here. It was not necessary to fight."
Peter grunted in annoyance. He stepped around Essex, who moved to walk next to him.
"And you're claiming you intend to stop us." Essex continued, still with that vague sense of annoyance. Not angry or apprehensive. More like... an adult, confronted by a child who is holding a toy gun, telling him, 'Stop or I'll shoot.'
Perhaps Peter was getting more of an impression from the pheromonal assault than he previously thought.
"Yes." Peter replied, trying to keep his communication as terse as possible. The words Essex was speaking were in English, but the hint to them was much stronger. That impression of more behind the words.
The words and song at the back of his mind clawing to explain in more detail exactly what was being said to him. He clenched his fist to ignore it. He was close now. Very close.
"What are you expecting to happen?" Essex's voice and body shifted once more, black and red tenrdils folding and unfolding over his flesh, assuming a new form. A larger man, muscular and healthy beneath a monk's cassock. He had a ruddy complexion and a thick head of hair with a full barely controlled beard. "I admit you were an impressive warrior and you could lay claim to some of our flesh," The new form continued in Russian, "But you are one man. And you are here. In our Ma'kran. You vex us."
"Vexing," Peter muttered through gritted teeth, the Russian words in time with the words beneath were playing hell on his concentration. Not quite like Pym where every word was a hammer blow. These words were serpents. Slithering into his ears, teasing him with worlds of meaning behind every syllable, every intonation. The numbness and tingling in his skin was getting worse. He couldn't even feel his toes anymore.
The Heart... the M'Kran... was an immense globe of flesh, easily fifty feet in diameter floating just a few feet off the chamber floor at its exact center.
Peter was closer to the heart now. It gave every impression of one. It pulsed in time to the thunderous heartbeat. It was threaded with glowing crimson veins whose glow pulsed in time to the beat.
Close as he was, he could feel the faint wash of heat pulsing with the veins. The subtle gravity pulling at him, causing the loose ends of his hoodie to flap in a non-existent wind.
His modified inner ear was probably the only reason he wasn't experiencing a bout of vertigo.
The man... the Dorrek... older memories recognized him... knew him. Named him. Rasputin, the mad monk of legend walked past the point where Peter had stopped, gesturing towards the sphere grandly. The hem of his cassock flapped into the non-existent wind.
"Magnificent, is it not?"
"From a certain point of view." Peter admited. His eyes focused on the sphere of flesh and pulsing veins. It reminded him faintly of a magic eye chart. From a certain point of view, it was simply... flesh.
If one's eyes defocused and one didn't quite look at any single feature and took it all in as a whole... a pattern emerged. A infinitely repeating complex fractal of features. Shadows and shapes formed lines and forms. Human forms that melted and melded into the whole. Each body composed of smaller interlocking bodies. Which in turn were part of larger bodies until the whole was the M'kran, assuming an immense and lush womanly form, curled up in a fetal position, with long hair a crimson banner wrapped around herself. The M'Kran held the Veranke as well. The Dorrek was itself...
All of it was one. All of it a unity of mind as the Dorrek had said. Peter understood it to a degree. He had been it before... as Peter, Cletus, Donna, Cain, Conners, even the little dog.
Right now, there was only Peter. A singularity of mind rather than a unity, but one that sought to encompass the whole rather than meet it in parts. Well... all but the parts that were clawing at him from behind the slowly crumbling wall in his mind. The traitorous part of which wanted to be one with the fleshy form that hung in the air before him.
This close the words eroded at his singularity. The song was louder.
The Veranke. Peter knew the name of the face and the form. Pheromonal information exchange was innevitable at this stage and at this range. There wasn't much left in there other than the Veranke... talk was for Dorrek's. Faint echoes left over from the original host. Ilena? Illyana? Jelena? Something like that. Rasputin's genetic line. Somewhere within the Tungus region it had happened decades ago.
Before their capture. Before everything else had gone wrong.
This was all that was left... this was what Jessica Drew could have been had she not been stopped. A sphere of flesh seeking to change the world to its alien design. It's own Chitauri forms.
Rasputin, the Dorrek, Essex, Harry... whatever it called itself... or rather didn't... smiled at Peter's contemplation.
"You are clinging to a faint illusion." He said, "This singular persona is not 'you'. I think you sought us out to m'sama regardless of what this tiny point of view claims it wishes."
Peter shook his head and licked his lips. He was alone now. No other stray thoughts in his head. Just him alone. He had complete control now. For certain values of control.
Still... for the first time in a week, he was truly alone with his thoughts. "Humans are not meant to be Chitauri."
"Everyone believes they are not meant to be of the Chitauri at first," The Dorrek replied with a small, mocking smile, echoes of amusement/contempt tinging the words in the pheromonal communication. "You would always be an 'I'. Clinging to that one vision. When you should be an 'us'. To see from all viewpoints at once. This one lone viewpoint persists, but the rest of you wishes for it. Yearns for it. All humans wish to be part of something greater. Something grander. We are it."
"All one! Everything as one. As it should be. We have spread through the cosmos bearing our message. Our selves. We are peace. A unity of mind in a web spanning the stars. This is our invitation to be part of that-"
"An invitation that slaughters and kills-" Peter snarled back.
The bearded face was contemptuous. "There has been a learning curve. Carbon-based life is not the only form there is and the Chitauri needed time to adapt to this new form. Humans in their fumbling wishes to claim control of us inflicted the worst of their horrors on themselves by mutilating and interfering with our workings. It could all have been painless."
"So it's our fault you hurt us?" Peter snarked, quirking an eyebrow.
The Dorrek snorted dismissively and made another grand gesture towards the M'kran sphere. "We are healed and bringing all into ourselves. As it should be. Stronger than tears."
"Stronger than tears." Peter echoed, eyes closing as he managed to clear his mind enough to send out the one command needed.
The thrum and bass heart beat suddenly changed in rhythm. The steady THUD-THUD sped perceivably.
The Dorrek form shuddered and looked at Peter. "What. Was. That."
Peter smiled faintly. Mockingly. "You know how you've been stalling for time, trying to get to me? To m'sama... to merge... into a singular form?"
The Dorrek form nodded.
"I've been stalling too." He admitted with a shrug. "Just enough to make sure my friends and family get far enough to safety."
Peter thought of Aunt May. Of Anna Watson. Of Gwen Stacey. Even the Thunderbolts Hammer team.
He was certain they'd cleared the minimum safe distance by now. He could almost see them just past the minimum safe distance he had determined beforehand. The one his human self had forgotten, but now remembered.
Plan A. Plan A was always explosions.
The beating increased even further in speed. A tiny part in the back of Peter's mind sang to itself, no longer in Chitauri, but in English.
"There is no safety for them on this world." The Dorrek replied.
"You're right. As long as things like you... or I... are in it, this world can not be safe." Peter continued.
"But I think they're far enough now. I was just enjoying-" Peter paused trying to find the right words in English. There weren't quite the right words for it in Chitauri no matter how sophisticated and complex and nuanced it was. "I was enjoying being as human as I could be for just a little bit longer."
The Dorrek's face shifted again. To Harry this time. "So you understand the innevitability of our becoming."
"Or my becoming." Peter replied grimly. "I don't have a choice but to accept that I am not and can not be human again."
The Dorrek nodded. "Then why the stalling? If you accept, then surely you accept that allowing those humans to run now simply means they will need to be chased down again."
"I guess I'm not being clear," Peter admitted. "We won't be around for that."
The Dorrek laughed. Simply laughed, loud and long and fierce. "Such a persistent little meat suit! You do not believe you could kill us!"
"I'm not." Peter replied. "I realized that I wouldn't be strong enough to kill you. Not without wrecking everything I tried to save. So I came up with another way."
The Dorrek shuddered once more, flesh shifting uneasily throughout the immense chamber. "What-?"
"So I've had to come up with a solution." Peter smiled ghoulishly as a rumble began to be heard through the chamber. No doubt it would be far worse at ground level. "I had to find the heart and I would make myself the solution."
"What sort of solution?!" The Dorrek's voice rose.
"A targeting solution." Peter laughed then and closed his eyes.
He thought of MJ. Of Aunt Anna and Gwen Stacey.
He wished things could have been otherwise.
He wished he'd had more time.
Then his human thoughts began falling apart even as soft, faint singing echoed in his mind.
And I know things now... many valuable things... that I hadn't known before...
- - -
High above the mansion following the provided signal from his much smaller human body, a significant portion of Peter Parker's mass glowed incandescent with reentry, its form constantly regenerating the damage done by the heat of atmospheric friction, drawing on the remainder of his available mass through the mass divide even as it drew further and further away.
It had launched itself originally from the ruins of Gentek Tower the day before, during that blank in Peter's memories when his body had been rebuilt, causing it to collapse entirely.
It had waited in geosynchronous orbit until the moment it had been called back.
Then... it had let itself drop.
It shaped itself continuously, growing small aerodynamic surfaces to nudge its trajectory by tiny degrees. Ensuring it remained perfectly aimed at its target.
At the last possible fraction of a second, its front reshaped itself further, then calcified. It struck the mansion with the force of a nuclear weapon, tons of mass at terminal velocity, impacting with a steel-hard bone wedge at its tip, that easily pierced through the mansion in its entirety, past the multiple levels of basements, shattering concrete in its wake, until it smashed through the ceiling of the M'kran chamber, vaporizing whatever it came into contact with.
An organic bunker buster dropped from orbit.
The rumble of its passage through the atmosphere still hadn't quite passed, but the moment as it settled into its crater was as silent as one could expect things.
For just a moment, nothing stirred but smoke and dust.
Perhaps that might have been enough... but there was more to the infection... more to the Chitauri M'kran than this. After all, it had survived crashing into Tunguska decades back.
That's what had started all of this.
But Peter was nothing, if not thorough.
Peter's still white-hot biomass cracked open. It began lashing out, massive crimson and black tendrils seeping through the cracks that scoured the massive crater for any trace of Hydra. The heat was practically cooking the tendrils as they worked, claiming every last possible trace from the vicinity. Claiming and shutting down every trace he could find across the world. With the Dorrek reeling and consumed by fire and Peter, his control was now total.
All Hydra shut down or funneled through the mass divide to his ever more distant main body. Nothing was left behind.
With that he felt... satisfaction.
It was down to just him. The last bit of Hydra on Earth.
It was almost over.
The Chitauri words whispered to him of preparation.
Atmospheric entry was a fresh awakening.
The Chitauri mind considered this a new world.
A fresh start.
Colonization could begin.
Peter pulsed back his thoughts even as he felt his mind close to completing unraveling. It would be taken a part. What comprised him, compartmentalized, then folded away neatly and packed away into the Hydra viron's molecular memory... to be taken out and used when it would next come in handy.
Commands were sung into the Chitauri Mind. Lok da'ska Chitauri. Hostile to Chitauri life. M'ok daskata. Try elsewhere. Sto d'zan che'ir. Make it so.
Lok da'ska Chitauri. Hostile to Chitauri life.
M'ok daskata. Try elsewhere.
Sto d'zan che'ir. Make it so.
The blazing lump of biomass shifted, shrinking in on itself. Tendrils were folding back into themselves, the entire mass shifting away through the mass divide as rust and crimson flesh collapsed... further and further in... first truck sized, then the size of a van, then a car, then a man... until even that shifted further into wriggling tendrils, pulling further and further inward...
... until nothing was left.
- - -