Disclaimer: It's the property of either Marvel or JK Rowling not mine, so clearly I'm not getting paid in any way for the use of their intellectual properties.
A/N: To answer a couple of good questions from the reviews I've received. The Winter Soldier is not working for Hydra, his handler Lukin is the one giving the soldier orders, whether those come from the Skull or not, that's not within the conditioning of the soldier to argue about…yet. It would take something truly traumatic to undo decades of brainwashing after all.
The thing with Harry is, being a god of death is something which is completely beyond his knowledge of how to tap into. Instead what we see is vast amounts of power he uses via his magic, once again…spoilers to let you know more than that. I'm going to be perfectly frank about one thing, in my mind the battle in The Avengers was a trial run concocted by Thanos to see what sort of organized resistance there was. If Loki succeeded so much the better, but not all of the eggs were in that basket.
I also like to think I've set up more than a dichotomy of Harry and Thanos, but rather Harry and the Avengers against Thanos, Chthon as his advisor, and whatever other forces he can draw to his banner. The Avengers have some growing to do before they are up to a threat of that level. Sit back, read and enjoy as we get there.
As the group soared through the air at high speeds Harry continued to puzzle over the scepter as he used passive scanning techniques to puzzle out its origins and weaknesses. Steve was watching the Skull closely as if trying to puzzle out his relatively quick surrender.
All in all for a win, the Avenger's initiative certainly wasn't feeling so certain. Steve shook his head before he walked over to Harry who erected a privacy ward, "A little too easy, don't you think?"
Harry nodded, "Oh, he definitely wanted to be captured. This tells me one of two things. Either he is arrogant enough to think we'd not consider this as a possibility, or he has some serious back up in reserve."
Steve frowned, "Well, he's plenty arrogant, but he wouldn't risk himself without being confident that he would be rescued."
Harry exhaled slowly through his nose, "I've been here before. We need to let them think that Schmidt is being rescued, and set our own trap. Hopefully Tony and Bruce have had some luck tracking that thing down."
Steve nodded in agreement as the pair lapsed back into silence, the whir of the engines the only sound made as they neared the Helicarrier and hopefully some answers.
Nick Fury was in a similar position to Odin in many ways. Both were responsible for the safety and security of their people, and having this burden meant that some less than palatable decisions were made from time to time.
As he scrolled through some of the scenarios that Schmidt could have devised he kept getting caught on a reactive footing instead of the proactive one he preferred to operate on. Potter had developed his own rather powerful niche within S.H.I.E.L.D and in many ways had bailed the organization out of a few possible messes in the last year alone.
However, anyone with his personal cache of power and several allies more beholden to him than S.H.I.E.L.D had to be at least occasionally viewed as a possible threat. Now, Potter and Rogers had captured Schmidt with no reported casualties aside from the ones committed before they had arrived, by what he assumed was the lethal combination of the Winter Soldier and Barton. Days like these were the worst Fury mused, not because of the deaths associated, but rather because the fluid shift of power from one side of the board to the other.
Coulson entered the skiff on the Helicarrier, "Director, we've received independent confirmation from Interpol, the Winter Soldier has been confirmed on American soil. Images have been forwarded to your work station."
Fury accepted the news with a nod and waited for Coulson to leave before resealing the room, as the first image came into view, "What the devil is Lukin doing with the Winter Soldier?"
"So how are we doing Bruce?" Tony asked as Jarvis broke through several levels of encryption on the way to securing a few of S.H.I.E.L.D's more jealously held secrets.
Bruce fixed the glasses perched atop his nose, "Just wonderfully Mr. Engineer." At Tony's arched eyebrow and smirk he continued, "The scan for the gamma signature is initializing as we speak."
Tony sighed as he glanced at his watch, "Harry and Steve should be here shortly. What's your theory on what they plan to use the cube for?"
Bruce itched his stubble before he replied, "All things considered, I would assume some sort of a stable passageway or portal. He obviously had help coming out of the portal with weapons, and with help like that, it doesn't take a genius scientist to puzzle that one out."
Tony shrugged, "Of course, he might be something like a suicide bomber sent to soften us up for the next wave. We've already established the cube could be converted into a bomb which makes any other nuclear event in history look like a sparkler on the fourth of July."
Bruce's face had gotten very pale at the thought of that. An entire continent irradiated with enough Gamma radiation to spawn thousands of other monsters just like the one he contained. He figured many would die, but there would be enough individuals and other animals with whatever genetic quirk that he had possessed to manifest itself in any number of horrible ways.
He finally settled on, "If that happened, I'd shudder to think of the long term ramifications for humanity."
Tony quirked his lips but for once had nothing to add to Bruce's statement, which drove home all the more the necessity of what they were going to accomplish.
Upon landing on the Helicarrier Harry shot off to speak directly to Fury while Steve, Natasha, and several other heavily armed S.H.I.E.L.D agents escorted Schmidt to their Hulk-proof cage that had be designed by Tony well before he had ever met Bruce, before even he had become Iron man himself.
Schmidt drew a few looks as he was marched to his prison, and yet not as many as one would think given to overall training and discipline of the personnel. In his German accented English the Skull pondered aloud, "I wonder Captain, when I shall have the great pleasure of finally killing you. Perhaps my ally the Winter Soldier will be afforded the honors. Such delicious irony it would be to order such a thing."
Next he turned his venom to Natasha, "As for you fraulein, I shall end you like I ended several other Russian strumpets during the war. It shall be delicious." Stopping for a moment he added, "Then again, a pleasure I may save for your beloved Agent Barton."
Steve took Schmidt's arms from a pair of agents and walked him into the cell, "I've got news for you Schmidt all of your plans aren't going to amount to a hill of beans."
Schmidt smirked as Captain America left the cell, the door closing with a swish behind him, "Why, dear Captain do you assume they are my plans?"
Harry was starting to get frustrated with one Nicholas Fury, "I'm telling you, we can turn this around on them, we just need to lay a trap."
Fury crossed his arms defiantly, "If you think I'm not aware of the various possibilities then you are more arrogant than I had assumed you were."
Harry ran a hand through his hair irritably, "Being aware of something and preparing for it are two different things Fury!"
Fury arched his eyebrow before he sighed, "I've got Banner and Stark on Tesseract treasure hunt duty. I'll have Romanoff and Coulson baby-sit them. Why don't you, Rogers, and Thor devise something and implement it on your own. I'll give my agents in that portion of the ship approval to help you in anything you need."
Harry exhaled, "Thank you."
Fury smiled wryly in reply, "Now get out of my office."
With a wink Harry vanished, off to enlist Thor and Steve in concocting a properly diabolical trap, or at least to make an effort at it.
Schmidt gazed around the room from his glass cage; everything was going according to plan with the only unknown variable being the damnable wizard.
The most delicious irony of the entire situation was that neither Thanos, nor any of the others save for Zola was aware of the real power behind S.H.I.E.L.D. Zero hour was not far away given what he'd seen from the technology of the time, and then HYDRA would rise again once more and the world would tremble at its name, much as it had during the war.
Ultimately, the only plan the trio could concoct that had the greatest chance of success was to keep the two primary targets as far apart as possible. Given what Natasha had asked of him, Harry took personal responsibility of the scepter, while Steve and Thor had made the area adjoining the Skull's cell into something which resembled a kill box.
The group had all gathered in Tony and Bruce's lab, Fury and Romanoff were off doing their S.H.I.E.L.D thing, being secretive and whatnot.
Harry rubbed at his hair absentmindedly pondering the various ways to fully restore Barton's mind and will without shredding them. It would be ticklish work, but he would need to brush up on his Legilimency, the process would be a very sophisticated version of unblocking a river in a mindscape.
Glancing over Harry filed those thoughts off to the side, "Steve, I know he isn't the man you knew, but any thoughts on dealing with Barnes if he makes an appearance?"
Steve grimaced, "Bucky was deadly, even by the Howling Commandoes standard during the war. If he's been modified like me to survive that fall, and then had more work beyond that, you are looking at the deadliest assassin you'd ever want to face unless you can appeal to his humanity no matter how far it's buried."
Harry sighed, "I figured as much. Well, maybe he and Barton might have more in common than just playing for the wrong side."
Thor puzzled, "Does this mean that his mind is not his own?"
Harry nodded, "That's exactly what I'm thinking. Not as direct as Barton's mind being controlled, but rather brainwashed and programmed. I might not be able to bring him all of the way back, but even if I can unbury fragments it might make him less of a threat."
Steve sagged a little, "If you could do that, then you would definitely be a wizard."
Harry smirked a little, but refrained from answering, they had only seen a tithe of his magical talents, and he was still finding new things himself. If he didn't know for certain that he was strong enough to handle his powers and the temptation to misuse them, well that had been his admission fee to get on this ride and he would carry that baggage himself.
Bruce and Tony both shook out of stillness as the program finally zeroed in on the location of the Tesseract. Tony summed it up succinctly, "Well, this is not good."
Steve settled into soldier talk, "What's the bad news Stark?"
Bruce answered, "Well we've got it down to a 20 mile radius. Unfortunately, that 20 mile radius is right in the heart of Manhattan. Give us ten minutes and we can give you a street address."
Tony slapped his forehead suddenly, "Of course, where else can they get access to a reactor to provide the necessary energy for the initial stage of the reaction."
Looking panicked he added, "Pepper is still there."
Harry nodded, "Do you need me to…?"
Tony shook his head, "No, you've got enough to do here, I'll track her down. But, when you've finished best that you check in on me."
Harry sighed before he suggested, "Bruce how long would it take the Hulk to get there?"
Bruce shrugged, "Not long, you want me to follow Tony?"
Harry and Steve shared a look before Steve replied, "I hate to ask you, but at this point we've got their game plan and I think it best that we don't split our numbers too fine."
Tony left to suit up and left Bruce to rustle up a ride, if he could, at least off of the Helicarrier; things were now in motion for better or for worse.
Loki had assumed the persona of a random HYDRA underling named Bob, and he was just important enough to be in the same room as Zola and the others prepared to mobilize for something known as zero hour. The tesseract was gone, and it had become apparent the cube had only been a means to an end for something that the skull needed to do.
As Loki idly twisted dials in the corner, doing his best to look busy, he gained access to the first bit of information he had been tasked to find.
Zola hovered above the ground in his flying chair, "Ze Other will use his abilities to make contact when the Chitauri have reached their staging grounds. Lord Thanos insists that we allow time for Herr Schmidt's plan to have a chance for success."
Loki blinked and it took a little concentration to look as normally as possible, he had no idea who the Other was, but he had a feeling Odin would. However, Lord Thanos…this would require a mixture of delicacy and speed to alert the proper people. It seemed as though Harald would have his first true test sooner than later.
Harry glanced around the control bridge of the Helicarrier; no real comfort could be felt at the moment. It was as if everyone knew something big was coming just that they didn't know what it might be.
Harry glanced at Natasha and Steve who were having a quiet conversation off to the side. Harry imagined their friendship might make the most sense seeing as how the pair was both people from a different era, and had some shared experiences in living during that time. Of course by the smirk on her face and the vague blush on Steve's face he figured it wasn't the sort of shared experience that the poor Captain was comfortable talking about.
He turned towards Thor, but found the burly blonde in some sort of hushed conversation with Agent Coulson. Finally he turned to Agent Maria Hill, an attractive brunette who seemed to be Fury's second in command.
"Any more facial hits on any of Schmidt's known allies?" Harry asked with a frown on his face.
Hill glanced over but shrugged, "Nothing on any known accomplices, seeing as how most are confirmed as dead. Zola was recruited to S.H.I.E.L.D after the war as a lead scientist, and he was confirmed deceased over 30 years ago. Nothing from Barton and the only other name we have on file is a Baron Strucker, and that was an unconfirmed link that popped up in the 60's."
Harry shook his head, "I find it hard to believe that is all S.H.I.E.L.D has compiled on an organization that was as powerful as HYDRA. Even with the end of the war there is no bloody way that they could have just completely disappeared off of the radar."
Maria looked uncertain at that assertion, but with a glance from Fury she spoke no more aside from to add, "Even if we appear to be all knowing, we actually have several mysteries we are still finding answers to."
As the paired conversations tapered off, the group took seats around a conference table off to the side of the room. Thor idly drummed his fingers on Mjolnir; Harry snapped his fingers creating different magical effects, Steve stared off into distance, and Natasha idly twirled a stray lock of hair.
Harry glanced down at the agents monitoring the Helicarrier and the outside world, amused to see an agent playing a videogame on his station. He prepared to make a light comment on the fact when a series of alarms began blaring.
Hill reported to Fury, "We have some sort of a wormhole opening a mile above the Helicarrier. Energy readings are off of the scale sir."
Fury turned his good eye to the remaining members of the Avengers initiative, and to his best remaining agent, "Well, time to see how good you really are."
Tony landed on the balcony outside of his penthouse apartment; he could see a couple dozen men dressed in some strange garb. Sitting on a chair in the midst of the men was Pepper, looking defiant but resigned even now, dear god did he love the woman. He assumed that blasting his way in wasn't the best play even now as he watched Bruce bound ever closer in his Hulk persona.
Saying a silent prayer J.A.R.V.I.S initiated the suit removal program, he could only pray that Bruce was aware enough to differentiate between friends from foe. His emergency launch bracelets jangled as he shook free from his arm bracers. Hopefully, between him and Bruce they could clear the building, but at worst he needed Pepper to be safe.
As he walked into the room he was surprised at who led the coterie stationed in his apartment, they were led by a man who appeared to be dressed in a Soviet era Military uniform signifying a general's rank. Tony decided being himself was the best path here, "Did I just drop into a bad remake of Red Dawn?"
The lead man stood stiffly his hat in hand, "Ah, Mister Stark so nice of you to join us here at the origin of our glorious victory."
Tony opened his mouth to reply who the Hulk smashed into the room, sparing Tony a glance, albeit a dismissive one before he swept ten men away from Pepper before he grabbed the strawberry blonde and launched himself back out of the window.
Tony prayed that Bruce was gentle with Pepper, but at least now she could not be harmed by these men, or held hostage against him.
Harry immediately apparated outside and above the Helicarrier, and gazed upon what seemed to be a rather small invasion force exiting a smallish opening to the greater universe. There were a couple dozen of small ships and one large metallic flying worm thing. Deciding to leave the smaller fish to Thor and S.H.I.E.L.D Harry soared straight upward in a spiral roll dodging various blasts as he climbed nearer to the massive ship. As Thor and Harry engaged the force the portal collapsed leaving the small invasion force with no escape route.
Lightning arced through the sky as Thor made his appearance frying several of the cruisers, unbeknownst to the pair a cloaked vessel approached from the underside of the Helicarrier.
Bruce was surprisingly in charge of his faculties as he bounded down to the bottom of Stark tower just as Tony had instructed, gently he sat Pepper down, "Hulk save little Pepper lady, go smash now."
Pepper smoothed her skirt as the Hulk bounded away again intent on smashing some other bad guys, swiftly she moved to the secured basement of Stark Tower, while not impregnable, anything short of a nuclear blast would see her safe from any other potential dangers.
The main thrust of the attack on the Helicarrier, Barton included, entered via an antechamber with auxiliary door on the underside of the Helicarrier. The primary thrust of the incursion was to free Schmidt, leave S.H.I.E.L.D in disarray for the actual attack, and to repatriate the scepter for the eventual return to the Other as it was his creation to better control the situation from a distance.
Barton motioned a few nondescript men to the left corridor before he led the others to the right, "They are working on finding the scepter, our job is to disrupt and free the Skull."
The group scattered, each with objectives, now was the time to strike a decisive blow.
Harry figured the easiest way to deal with a…thing this large was to pick the most important part and be creative. Now above the behemoth he spiraled down first trying a massive blasting hex, which while it did dip the beast's head, did not penetrate the strange metallic shell. Taking brute force as a bad job he instead tried to focus his magic into one thin beam, his magic arced out and did penetrate the shell punching all of the way through and out the beast's jaw.
While staggered, the beast kept flying and Harry decided to take off the kids gloves landing near the hole on the metallic shell. Taking from his recent experiences he placed a time delayed explosion hex deep in the hole he had just made, jumping away. As he flew away a safe distance his phone decided to ring, "Harry's phone."
"I have your names." Loki's voice softly spoke over the phone.
Harry glanced back as the alien ship/monster detonated, debris flying in every direction, "Well, Mr. Odinson would you be kind enough to share?"
Loki simply replied, "Lord Thanos, and the Other were the names attached. I shall send word to the Allfather to enquire more about the Other."
Harry swooped down towards the Helicarrier, "Excellent work from the God of Mischief. You do what you feel comfortable with given your present situation. Oh, and do let me know if the Allfather comes up with something on this Other fellow."
Loki snorted and ended the call; Thor was mopping up the remnants of the attack when he felt a ping on both his scepter proximity detection ward, and the kill box series of goodies being activated.
Over his comm. He spoke, "Thor, we've got activity in the Helicarrier. You get the cage with Schmidt, I'm checking on the scepter."
Thor nodded, "Very well, Harald to further glory and for Asgard." Twirling his hammer he shot off at near supersonic speeds.
Harry huffed and took off at his own top speed which was about ¼ of the speed of Thor, something else was now afoot.
Fury whistled as he watched Thor and Harry work, he was certainly glad they were on his side, because those two heavily balanced the engagement on his side. H was about to check on Stark when gun shots rang out on the command bridge, two technicians dropped from wounds as Fury and Hill spun into cover to return fire on the unseen assailant.
An arrow shot out from a ventilation vent frying all of the electronics on the bridge, which would leave them blind and deaf for hours. Fury spent a few rounds to chase the archer away, "Romanoff, Barton is in the ventilation ducts working towards the holding cell."
Natasha's voice came over the comm, "I've got him."
"So, Mr. Stark now that your annoying green friend, and your less annoying lady friend have left, shall we discuss why you have been chosen for this great and momentous honor?" Lukin asked pleasantly.
Tony pondered for a moment as he listened to Bruce rip intruders into pieces on the roof and adjoining roofs, where the tesseract had been stationed, connected to the iridium and his arc reactor for the building. In all honesty, it was probably the best place for his friend, if anyone could figure out the energy of the thing it was Bruce, in any form.
"You discuss, while I pour myself a drink, if you don't mind." Tony stood and walked behind his bar, he hoped Harry and the others would be coming soon, but whatever the tesseract was doing, it was jamming a lot of his technology.
Lukin merely continued as Tony poured himself a scotch, "Your father, while a loyal member of S.H.I.E.L.D did unknowingly aid the Soviet Union at various times due to his ideas in regards to technology. In fact one of his first great aids was an early prototype of cryogenic preservation. However, I digress from the purpose of our discussion."
Tony feigned boredom, "You know, I would really appreciate it, if you could get to the point."
Lukin shook his head, "Ah, you Americans, always so brash and rude. Where was I? Ah yes, Ivan Vanko was merely the tip of the ice berg for the legacy of the Stark family as murderers and butchers. The arc reactor technology was not a gift from the creative geniuses of Howard Stark, or Vanko. Rather, it was a divine design, one which predates the existence of humanity on earth by some 10,000 years. The blue print for this fantastical device, it was found in a cave in Siberia in 1949." Tony did blink at this but refrained from speaking.
Lukin continued, "Interestingly enough, your father first connected the design to the marvelous tesseract now in our possession. As these things go, when S.H.I.E.L.D knows something HYDRA will soon know them as well. Now, you as Howard Stark's son will be responsible for connecting the simplistic portal we are about to open, to something even more substantial in the years to come."
Tony grimaced at the sounds of that, sort of sounded like he would be spending time in a cave in Afghanistan once again.
Harry short distance apparated inside of his wards near to the scepter, the pile of bodies on the other side belied their relative effectiveness. Deciding he needed a more permanent solution he cast an altered Fidelius which pulled the item out of both memory but also time and space. This little treat was the first real godly level work he had been able to accomplish since his return from Asgard.
Making that out to be safe he next apparated to a room just off from the holding chamber where Schmidt was held. Entering the room he found several more bodies, the kill box had at least been somewhat successful, but stopped as he found the chamber missing, dropped down and out of the bottom of the Helicarrier. There was no sign of Thor, but he did see one worrying thing, Agent Coulson on the ground bloodied but still alive, at least for now.
"Coulson, what the hell happened in here?" Harry kneeled by the side of the man a quick healing scan found several severe injuries, but nothing life threatening yet. Casting a few rudimentary healing spells Coulson straightened a little.
"They managed to drive Thor back into the cell. Schmidt dropped the cage and said something along the lines of 'send my regards to Odin'. They beat on me for a few minutes before they left. Thanks for healing me, by the way." Coulson added.
Harry sighed, the first plan rarely survives and all that rot. "I'd still suggest a medic. Let Fury know I'm going to Stark Tower. If Steve, Romanoff, and anyone else are able send them that way, that first portal apparently was a distraction. I'm guessing the arc rector at Stark Tower is what they'll leach off of for the next."
Coulson stood up shakily, "The Helicarrier is barely staying in the air right now, but I'll send your request down the pipeline."
Harry nodded before he used his comm., "Steve, this is Harry. I'm going to track down Thor and rendezvous at Stark Tower. We'll need you and anyone else we can get ASAP."
Steve reply was succinct, "I'll be there."
With a last glance at Coulson Harry jumped into the hole left by the cage, he needed to get a message to Thor and then he could go to Stark Tower. A moment later a giant ethereal stag went galloping down and towards Thor. With a sigh he vanished, his next stop would be Stark Tower.
Thor staggered to Mjolnir, it had not been a pleasant ride, but he had managed to survive it, more or less intact. His communicator was broken, shattered in the fall and he knew not Midgard enough to go where he was needed.
Despair settled in for a brief moment, Mjolnir suddenly becoming much heavier in his hands, when a giant glowing stag ran to him and in Harald's voice said, "Follow the stag, we're meeting back up at Tony's tower."
His strength and resolve renewed he took off at speed the stag amazingly enough was keeping ahead even as it sprinted across a body of water. What more marvels of magic could Harald produce again on this glorious day?
Harry arrived right in the penthouse of Stark Tower, he was beginning to feel that he could teleport anywhere he wanted to on the world, and perhaps beyond. What was the fun of being able to fly if he could do that?
Tony was sitting on the couch, a military type was speaking to him, but there was no one else there that he could tell.
"Tony, what's going on?"
Tony looked up, panic on his face when the first bullet hit, not penetrating his skin, but definitely painful as he dropped to a knee. Two more followed in quick succession, the first had hit right as the base of his skull, the next two kill shots to the lungs and heart, which is if they had penetrated his dense tissue. Instead it felts like red hot burning nails were embedded in his skin as he dropped to the ground fully.
Tony's anguish was real, "No!"
A boot turned him over his eyes were closed, but passive Legilimency led him to know who he had the unfortunate pleasure of meeting, the Winter Solider. Harry knew how important the man was to Steve, but next he heard the military man's Russian accented English call out, "Gather the corpse, Dr. Zola will be pleased to have another gift for his collection."
As the solider reached down with his metallic arm Harry's eyes snapped open a brutal thrust of Legilimency meant to accomplish one thing, to temporarily shut down the mind of another. It was the one trick in Legilimency he had managed to learn beyond thought skimming. No finesse, no art in this savage attack, but after all it was only to be used in such situations as life saving emergencies.
The soldier dropped like a puppet with his strings cut, Harry with a grimace summoned the depleted Uranium shells from his flesh, the healing already taking some of the sting from the attack.
Lukin was not a man used to surprise but this was definitely one such case, "You are not human."
Harry rolled his neck to work out the kink of having a bullet lodged in it, "No kidding genius, well not fully human anyways."
Absently he stunned the man as the light flickered in the penthouse, binding both Lukin and the soldier and disillusioning them he walked to Tony, "When are you going to realize I'm sort of hard to kill."
Tony sighed as he signaled to JARVIS to release his refurbished and reloaded armor, "When you stop acting dead when getting shot I suppose."
Harry grimaced, "Oh, don't get me wrong that hurt like a bitch. But, the nice part is, they don't look at you as a threat when you're dead, do they?"
Tony acknowledged that as he stepped into his suit, he wished he could summon his suit like Harry had just summoned those bullets out of his body…hmm there was a thought.
Shaking his head from his distracted thoughts, "Bruce is hulking it out on the roof; I'm guessing the tesseract and a machine to make a portal are stationed there."
"I've seen a smaller portal, so I'm guessing they know what they're doing up there. Why did the lights just flicker, could that be related?" Harry pondered.
Tony cursed, "JARVIS, can you confirm that a portal has been opened?"
JARVIS replied over the intercom, "Confirmed sir, the size of the portal is stable at roughly 500 meters in diameter. Unidentified organisms are starting to exit out."
The pair shared a look as they took off into the sky. The invasion had finally begun.
Steve, Natasha, and Clint Barton zoomed towards New York City and Steve had to admit he was somewhat uncomfortable with the archer like they were suddenly allies after the man had killed dozens since being subverted.
As they approached Stark Tower a red and silver blur flew past them, they supposed Thor was making his arrival just before them. Of course as they cam into view of the tower, they could see why they were needed here, and masses of aliens swarmed into the air from the portal, much like ants when an ant hill was kicked over.
Cursing Steve glanced down, watching the alien carts zoomed low to the ground and took pot shots at civilians. "Get us down there now Barton, Romanoff see if you can make contact with Tony or Harry now that we're closer to being in range."
"Tony here, unless you've brought reinforcements please leave a message after the beep."
"Stark, this is Romanoff, Barton, and Rogers where can you use us?"
"Down at street level. Between Bruce, Harry, Thor, and I we've got the skies covered."
A massive worm creature larger than the one Harry had destroyed earlier appeared through the portal, "Actually Steve, Schmidt is on top of my tower, be a dear and deal with him if you would. Also, see if you can do anything about this portal while you're at it."
"Sir we've got communications back on line, but navigation and propulsion will still be some time."
Fury grimaced, it could have been much worse, but he hated feeling helpless, or more importantly out of the loop. "Do better." It was a classic Fury line, but said in that earnest manner that always got results.
Switching over to his comm he called out, "Potter, Stark, Rogers does someone copy?"
"Rogers here." Grunts and metal clanging could be heard in the background.
"You want to seal up that portal ASAP, because our communications is still partially down, and the world security council is known as being rather reactive when I'm not around to moderate."
"You, moderate? Compared to that messy phase II business I dug up, I shudder to think what reactionary would look like." Tony's voice cut in.
Harry chimed in, "Phase II is not at issue here Tony, the only person I'd expect to have an issue in Steve, has laid those demons to rest. Weapons are just that, no reason to borrow trouble when we've got plenty to be on with already."
Tony audibly sighed, "Fine. Have I mentioned that I hate how you and Pepper have the ability to appeal to the very small reasonable part of my brain?"
Harry ignored the statement, "Steve, have you sighted Schmidt yet?"
Steve's voice was nearly a whisper, "I disabled two guards, stand by."
Fury clenched his hand into a fist; he hated not being able to contribute. Opting to focus on what he could control he glanced over to Hill, "Do we have an encrypted line to the World Security Council?"
Hill glanced over to a technician who raised five fingers in response, "Five minutes sir."
Fury's gut clenched, in a situation like this, 5 minutes might be too long.
Steve used the same little pocket mirror he always had when clearing blind corners during the war, it had worked so why bother trying something new. He figured that sort of thinking was what had really prevented him from accepting his current situation.
All he could see what Schmidt watching for intruders, and he supposed that wasn't surprising, aside from Zola the man had never relied on someone else to do something. It was, in Steve's opinion, the man's greatest weakness and why they had managed to stop him during the war.
"Captain please come out, I so desire to speak with you." Schmidt's voice suddenly rang out.
Steve sighed slowly he stood his shield strapped to his arm, just in case, "So we find ourselves here again."
Schmidt smirked as a Chitauri speeder flew by, shooting down at the panicked masses, "Unfortunately for you Captain, I have brought the army this time."
A moment later the sky flashed with lightning as Thor and the Hulk brought down a massive Chitauri flying beast somewhere in Central Park. Harry and Tony created some bizarre energy net and filled it with smaller Chitauri ships before a flick of Harry's wrist crushed them. Frankly, Steve was amazed by the friends he had surrounded himself with, "Better check that one again Schmidt."
Schmidt shrugged unconcerned, "My army is limitless, even you and your allies shall tire eventually, and then they will be overwhelmed. As long as the portal remains open I am impossible to defeat."
Steve shook his head, "Well then, I guess we're going to have to close up your portal then after we'll see what we can do for your face."
Schmidt laughed derisively as explosions continued to rain down behind him, "Your brash American attitude has not changed at all. As I recall last time, I was banished and you spent nearly 70 years frozen as a block of ice."
Steve stalked forward, "Something tells me that's not going to happen this time."
Tony didn't revel in this sort of action like it appeared Thor and Hulk did, but he didn't mind being able to test his limits, "So Mr. Wizard, you heard it over Steve's comm., how can we get this portal shut down?"
Taking a hit from a Chitauri blaster his cloak shrugged it off before he answered, "Well, magically I'm not seeing a way to do anything aside from pulling all of the energy away from the system. It's the only way to shut down a self sustaining system that I can think of."
Tony pondered, "How can you approach absolute zero though?"
Harry glanced around, spotting hulk taking on a squad single-handedly while Thor took advantage of the metallic conductivity of the ground soldiers to drop scores.
"I'll have to take it out to space and then I won't have to worry about collateral damage. That should smother the cube enough where the portal won't be sustainable any more when I draw everything else away I can." Harry frowned in thought.
"Fury, this is Potter, do you copy?"
"This is Fury, hold on one second I am bringing the World Security Council up."
Muffled words could be heard before Fury spoke, "You can't do that. That is the island of Manhattan."
Muffled breathing, random gunshots were all that was heard for a couple of minutes before Fury spoke. "Stark, while Potter is working on the portal you need to deal with an incoming nuclear missile ETA 4 minutes. Coordinates are inbound."
Harry took a deep breath, this was going to be magic on a scale he hadn't attempted before, and while confident it was still a daunting task. "Tony, I'll get this to the lower atmosphere. Release it into the portal then I am going to take it safely away."
Tony started a sarcastic reply but stopped himself, Steve spoke over the comm., "Harry, you know that's a one way ticket."
Harry grimaced as he unleashed his magic, enveloping the portal and displacing the cube and its connection to the arc reactor. "I'm pretty hard to kill."
His magic stretched out for the first time since arriving in this universe, it was truly a sight to behold as a blue translucent bubble swiftly rose into the sky.
All of the Avengers save for Tony, who was in pursuit of a certain missile watched in amazement, even Thor who simply said, "Tis' the power of the universe my friends. It is but a tithe of his true power."
Schmidt sagged as if a puppet with his strings cut when the tesseract began to ascend, "Nein, the Mad Titan will destroy you all like the insects you are."
Steve backhanded the Skull with his shield, the mad man slumping into unconsciousness, "Whoever this Mad Titan is, he might find that for insects we pack a pretty good punch."
Watching Harry pull the tesseract and its portal straight up into the sky, he had a hard time connecting this awe inspiring show of power with his unassuming British friend. All they could do now was watch and hope for the best.
Tony intercepted the missile and began heading upwards towards the massive blue dome courtesy of Harry, the whole plan was brilliant more than he would have given Harry credit for. Unfortunately, he knew that what Harry was doing was even more dangerous than the Dr. Strangelove he was pulling at the moment.
"Got an ETA their Merlin?" Tony pondered over the roar of the missile.
Harry's voice crackled over the comm., "Give me another minute and you can ride the rocket into the portal. Aside from the whole blowing up and dying bit you know Slim Pickens."
Tony grinned inside of his suit, "I know you're hard to kill, but you can't die after that whole bonding moment we just shared."
Harry chuckled as the rest of the Avengers listened to the conversation in silence, "Yeah well, regardless of how this looks, just remember I am very hard to kill, and even harder to keep dead."
Tony paused for a moment, "I don't like the sounds of that."
Harry softly answered, "Whoever rigged this thing used both science and magic to safeguard against a maneuver like the one I'm pulling. I'm suppressing the safeguards with sheer power, when I release that power, their will be a backlash; so back to my previous statement."
Thor's voice rose over the silence, "I shall see you again soon Harald, I can foresee as much."
Steve simply said, "Thank you Harry."
Surprisingly Natasha spoke next, "I may have misjudged you."
Harry smirked to himself as Tony neared the portal with the missile, "Oh, you definitely misjudged me. Let Barton know, I'll be back to finish up his mental programming."
Barton jumped in, "Mental programming?"
Harry snorted, "What, did you think you could have your mind expanded by a cosmic artifact and not experience side effects?"
At this Tony released the missile into the portal before turning back, with one more surge Harry entered the outer atmosphere and next left the atmosphere as an explosion rocked the remaining Chitauri fleet.
The vacuum of space closed the portal just before the blast radius reached beyond the portal back to earth, Harry closed his eyes and like a rubber band, the protections snapped back at the one who had suppressed them, he felt himself wash away into blissful darkness.
Tony watched from a hijacked feed of an orbiting satellite, initial relief that Harry's plan worked before an intensely bright flash of light followed by an explosion. By the time the energy and light had dissipated all trace of the portal, and Harry, were gone.
A/N: I wouldn't call it a cliffhanger, but some might. Next chapter, more answers are found and the Avengers struggle a little in the short term without Harry's presence. We continue into phase two of MCU, so sit back read and enjoy. Oh, by the way leave a review on the way out if you would.