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Chapter Two: Black as Night
More than anything else at this precise moment, Mad McCoy wanted to snap the Spider-man in two, if for nothing else than the annoyance his interference was causing him. Not only was the hero keeping the grey-haired vampire from a perfectly delectable looking snack, but he was covering him in webbing to boot. Not that the stuff was all that effective against the impossibly strong beast, but it was incredibly annoying. But as badly as McCoy wanted to throw himself into an attack against the web slinger, he found himself almost paralyzed and unable to retaliate. It was that blasted crucifix that the scrawny hero was wearing around his neck. For the moment it was keeping Spider-man safe, and as much as McCoy’s educated mind hated the thought of being held at bay by a mere symbol, the supernatural limitations placed upon him prevented him from doing anything about it. Realizing that he would not be able to land a claw on the Spider, McCoy returned his attentions to Tessa and Wong, and the mystical barrier that the demonic predator knew wouldn’t hold for long.

Barry watched the swarm of bats looming over head as they quickly approached Paige and the others. They were being led by a particularly nasty looking fellow with metal wings and most likely, a very pronounced set of canine teeth. He made his way to Castle’s team of vampire hunters as quickly as his super speed would allow for, and warned them of what Blade’s team was facing in Westchester. But as he watched the bats approach, he realized that they had problems of their own. Victoria, perplexed by the feelings inside her, used her fear and rage against her enemy, lashing out with a telekinetic blast that scattered the bats and left them off balance for the fiery bolts that she sent their way next. As the demons converged on their prey below, Victoria gained enough control over the Phoenix force to incinerate two dozen of their number. But just as quickly as the fiery glow had emerged, it was now dying out again. And no amount of mental prodding on Victoria’s part was successful in rousing the troublesome entity again. Above them, the demon Archangel flapped his metallic wings menacingly, hovering in place as his horde, whose number was cut in half by Victoria’s initial onslaught, swarmed around them. Castle, Vance and Paige held their arms at the ready, but did not fire. The sight before them kept them from it. For as the fires of the Phoenix died away, the bats began to flutter around Victoria, seemingly, and inexplicably, enthralled with her. But it did not last as Archangel angrily called his minions to his side. They did as they were told, as they soon landed behind the angel of death, transforming themselves back into their human shapes. With his prosthetic wings folded around him like armor, Archangel took a step forward, glaring at Castle the whole time. “I have come for you, Castle. I have come to exact my revenge. For taking my beautiful wings from me, I will spill your blood this night. McCoy has already taken care of Wong and Ketch. The Master is dealing with Blade himself. But you . . . you are mine!” And with that declaration made, the man once known as Warren Worthington charged forward, razor sharp wings ready to do their worst.

In Westchester, Rogue made her move. As she rushed to put herself between her allies and Logan, Blade reached out for the impetuous girl, hoping to keep her from doing anything rash. But he was too late. The invisible barrier was up and he didn’t dare do anything to try to get through it for fear of what his actions might do to Rogue. It was her show now. But as she was worrying about Logan, his demonic disciples were worrying about Norrin and Blade. They clawed, scratched and bit at the shield that surrounded them, taxing Rogue’s conscious mind more and more with every strike. It didn't take long before the punishment they were inflicting on the shield caused the girl enough mental strain to force her to drop the barrier. Admiring her heroism, Logan took a few slow steps forward, “Your valor is admirable. But Blade will become mine tonight. And if you want to stand between us, then you will die as well.” With his intentions made clear, and ignoring the heat of the flames, Logan lunged forward, aiming his adamantium claws for the stone covered jugular of Rogue.

Back in the Village, the dark Beast turned toward Tessa with an evil glint in his eye. Behind her, Wong replied, “Against his kind of evil, I do not know how long it will hold.” The statement didn’t exactly fill her with hope, but Spider-man’s confidence did. In fact, the distraction caused by the vampire’s obvious disdain for the rosary around Spider-man's neck was all the opportunity the web slinger needed. As McCoy turned away from him, Spidey blasted a shot of webbing against the side of his head, latching onto the protective device inside. With a start, the villain whipped around, dislodging the earplug, ready to power through his repulsion of the religious symbol and kill the bug man where he stood. But when he turned he did not find Spider-man waiting to meet his blows. He faced another opponent altogether. Recovered from the fight outside, Ghost Rider was now standing directly behind the killer, intent on delivering vengeance. With a fierce determination, Ghost Rider swung his supernatural chain around McCoy’s neck and pulled the vampire forward, holding him firmly. The fiery glow surrounding Ghost Rider’s head intensified as the spirit of vengeance began to administer his penance stare, an ability that forced his opponent to relive the horror of every sin he ever committed through his victim’s eyes. Locked in a sort of mental prison, McCoy was soon incapacitated, no longer posing a threat to the group. With relief, Wong sighed and suggested, “Maybe we could finish that translation now?”
"NOOOOOOOOOO!" Norrin screamed out in horror as he watched the lord of the Vampires make his way toward the young mutant. My blasts had little effect on him...Is it that I'm weak or is he just THAT strong? I've got to do something. I can't just let him attack Rogue like that. What can I do, though? Even though it suprised the heck out of me that I was able to project energy like that, it didn't have any effect anyway. What can I do to stop Logan's advances? It was at that moment that Norrin realized he had other tricks up his sleeves. He got off of his board and with a mental command he sent it charging at Logan's Neck at a blinding speed. He charged up his energy again and prepared to fire another blast towards the Vampire Lord. He's distracted with his goal. With any luck, this wil work! The surfboard was mere moments away from striking the demonic creature. Norrin unleashed the energy he had been storing up as well. If this doesn't work, then perhaps we are all doomed.
When life hands you lemons, you gotta squirt lemon juice and life's eye and make it your B!TCH
Rogue's eyes gew wide with fear. As the shield dropped she stood there in a weakened state. Logan's words rumbled in her head. Behind her she felt movement. Afraid to break eye contact with the master, she held her gaze. Exhuasted from the shield, the voices in her head began to scream again. Without control of the voices, she loses control of her powers. The flames died, but her body began to disappear as she collapsed to the ground.

Maybe he'll She thought moments before she blacked out.
“With pleasure.” Tessa responded, taking a seat at her makeshift workstation and re-opening all the files she had been working with previously. She was confident that Dan had control over McCoy, but she still wasn’t going to take her time in finishing the translation; it would be detrimental at this point to take unneeded time on the project. It was likely that whoever had sent McCoy would send more just in case he didn’t finish whatever job he had been given.
“Once I finish this I would assume we’re going to be moving on to Westchester, which brings me to my next question; who else should we expect to meet up with?” Sage questioned as she furiously typed away in an open window, piecing together the bits she had translated with the bits that had been translated previously.
“Better information on possible opponents is an advantage in my case, I can judge them better and attempt to keep myself out of trouble without relying on the three of you to keep me safe.” Tessa continued as she typed, finishing another paragraph of the text.
He was sure his rage had put even certain members of his own team on the back foot, such was the suddenness and ferocity, but he couldn't help but to admit to himself it felt good to act on instinct rather than intellect. Continuing his assault through the disintegrating vampires, Hank eyed Toria from the corner of his eye. Even in this heightened animalistic state, his connection to her was still strong enough for him to know something was wrong. Throwing himself forward through their vampire attackers Hank paused mid stride as his eyes fell on the face of one of his oldest friends, now transformed into a creature of the night.

"Warren?" he asked in a semi faltering voice that nonetheless carried across the ever slowing battle. He had prevented himself from thinking about what would truly happen once they reached the mansion, but now such misgivings as he had seldom known rushed headlong into his mind. Throwing the remains of the creature he had been mauling aside Hank took a few steps towards this version of his former team mate, running his fingers through his blood matted hair in order to pull his loose locks back from his face. With nimble fingers he tied his long hair into a loose knot as he stared at the disfigured Warren Worthington. Casting a quick glance around the rest of the team, Hank moved to put himself partially between Castle and this Angel of the night. "I would like to say it is good to see you Warren." he said slowly, interrupting whatever further accusation the younger mutant was about to utter. "But it isn't. Not like this." he said, then after a seconds pause he muttered again. "Not like this.."

Hank took several more steps forward, his senses unconsciously telling him where everyone else was in relation to himself. Shutting out all of the happy memories which threatened to overwhelm him Hank closed the distance on this unfamiliar friend. "I can't let this nightmare go on Warren." he said as his own golden eyes held the undead ones before him. "If you want Castle, you will have to go through me." Hank now stood at least half in front of Frank Castle, not enough to block the other man's aim should he need to take a shot at his opponent, but enough to provide a shield to his less physically endowed teammate.
From Sinister's Diary...
"She's gone. I do not know where or how, but my Victoria has seemingly vanished off the face of the earth. Yet inside, I know she is still alive. I can sense her at times. I've gone everywhere, her loft...the Parker boy, the Rasputins...and even in my shadowed form I've listened in and no one knows where she is. I must find her. I cannot lose her this close to gaining complete control over her, over the Phoenix..."

Victoria closed her eyes for a moment and listened in silence at the sound of the creatures around her. It was almost euphoric feeling that swept over her before she shook herself out of it and dropped back down lightly on her feet and helped defend her group as much as she possibly could. The Phoenix was useless, whimpering and cowering in her psyche as the bats converged on them.
"Damn..." she muttered, if her telekinesis wouldn't throw them off, she'd have to try telepathy.
Sending out scattered mental messages, hoping to at least throw them off balance before she volleyed yet another attack at them.
She took only a moment to glance at Hank. Thinking that it might be a wise move to place Castle and Hank in a telekinetic bubble.
"Hank, remember, we've been through this a million times, just because they look like someone you knew, doesn't mean they are." The message floated between their minds, Victoria's fraught with worry and concern...and something else she couldn't quite put her finger on.
"Wow." Barry uttered as he looked upward at the Angel of Death, Warren Worthington. He quickly turned his attention to Victoria however, after she decimated quite a few of their opponents. "You okay Vic?" he asked with genuine concern "Want me to go get some back-up or somethin'?"
Hank pondered the almost friend before him, every muscle a coiled spring ready to throw his hefty frame into battle. "I've had enough of being misled by people I thought of as friends." he thought in response to 'Toria's mental comment, an image of the Timebroker flashing to the front of his mind. "I'm not about to let my emotions get the better of me. This is not 'my' Warren, but if I can get his attention for a while then I can gain an advantage for our team. It's a risk I am willing to take."
With a blinding ferocity, Logan dove at the quickly disappearing Rogue. Just a few yards from her, acting on instinct alone, Norrin mentally commanded his board to knock the vampire Lord off his murderous path. But as blindingly fast as the silver surfboard was, Logan was just that much faster. The demon spun out of the way and easily evaded the attack, continuing on toward Rogue. With Norrin preoccupied by the attack on his teammate, Blade was doing his best to fend off the advancing horde that was raining down upon them from all sides. He was a blur of motion as he did his best to dispatch one after another. But it seemed with every one that he reduced to ash, two more took its place. None of the blood sucking lackeys were all that powerful, but Blade was left to watch his allies defend themselves against the Master as the villains made up in number what they lacked in skill. Realizing that his board had missed Logan, Norrin unleashed another cosmically charged blast. It would have decimated the Master easily if not for the countless vampires that were swarming the heroes. Four of them latched onto chrome-covered alien, trying desperately to sink their teeth into the man. But instead of feasting on the alien, they found themselves burnt by the mere touch of his silver skin, sending them recoiling in pain. However, the attack was enough to send Norrin’s blast off its mark and ripping out into the surrounding forest, cutting multiple trees in half in the process, toppling them to the ground. The result left Norrin with no doubt about the level of the power he possessed, but he still found himself watching as the Master set upon his now invisible prey, white gleaming fangs mere inches from her unseen neck.

As Sage worked her own brand of magic, Wong watched intently, making suggestions and comments to help her along in the translation. He replied to her curiosities as best he could, “I am hoping that we will not have to travel to Westchester this night, but just in case, you should be ready for anything. Logan has killed many of our kind, and those that haven’t been lucky enough to die have been turned into a member of his undead army. McCoy was one of the most dangerous of his brood, so I count us lucky to have had your aid in subduing him. The one called Storm preys upon the city nightly, recruiting more and more to her side. Her blood lust is horrific in its totality. The Panther, Nightcrawler, Gambit and the Widow have been sent out to extend Logan’s hold outside of the city. I fear his influence grows stronger with each passing night. Of coarse I couldn’t possibly list all of the Master’s allies, but I must mention Warren. He is possibly the worst of them all. After Betsy’s death and the loss of his wings, his insatiable self pity led him to willingly take a place at Logan’s side. And now the Angel of death stalks the night skies, raining suffering down upon all he sees.”

Selflessly, Hank threw himself between Archangel and his prey, sufficiently blocking the winged vampire’s path. But Warren realized that this was not the McCoy he knew. The resemblance was uncanny, but the scent told the charging vampire that the similarities ended there. Shrugging off the familiarity with the man he now faced, Warren continued his charge, intent on going through Beast if that was what he had to do in order to separate Frank Castle’s head from his shoulders. Castle and Victoria both realized that Beast’s position would do nothing to slow the Angel’s advance, so they took measure against him. Castle drew back on the string of his bow, aiming a wooden shaft past McCoy’s right shoulder, directly at the monster’s heart. Releasing the string, the arrow shot forward with amazing force and then snapped in mid air, shattered against the inside of Victoria’s newly erected telekinetic bubble. A split second later, Worthington impacted against the outside of the shield and ricocheted to the ground nearby. Realizing they were not out of the woods yet, Vance pointed to the rest of the vampires and yelled, “Look alive people, here they come!” And come they did, as the hellish version of Warren Worthington pulled himself to his feat and commanded his legion to attack. In a split second the monsters were all around them, putting a tremendous strain on Victoria’s mind as they scratched, clawed and did whatever else they could to get around her telekinetic shield.
Tessa’s eyes blazed angrily for the briefest moment at the mention of Warren Worthington, regaining her composure to looked at Wong.
“Thank you for the information, though I can’t say I’m entirely thrilled to hear that Warren is amongst Logan’s ranks. Though, I cannot say I’m surprised by the knowledge that he willingly joined the bloodthirsty mass, he always was vain about the wings.” Sage tried to keep the annoyance to a minimum, “I suppose some things never change, no matter what reality you are currently in.” Then giving Wong an apologetic look she explained, “My realities version of Mr. Worthington and I have a history, an unpleasant history…the feelings are rubbing off on this vampire Worthington, I apologize for the attitude.” She gave what constituted as a smile in her book and looked at her translation.

“I think I may have finished the translation, do you think we could try it on McCoy?” Tessa asked, abruptly changing subject from the current thread about Warren, even though they were speaking of a different entity it made her quick mind jump to the man she had thought she loved. Saving her files she made the final translation larger and read through it silently, trying to catch any words that were incorrect.
The Surfer felt as if defeat was imminent. He could not remember a time before where he felt more vanquished than he did right now. I'm having little to no effect on Logan! The rest of the watch said that in their realities, I was one of the stronger beings they had ever encountered, and even I seem to be ineffective to this monstrosity! What hope do ANY of us have? Norrin's own self defeating thoughts were beginning to eat away at his confidence. He didn't know how much longer it would be before these demons of the night would claim him as one of their own. Just as he was about ready to accept defeat, some of the lesser Vampire lackeys jumped him from behind. "GET OFF OF ME!" They tried to sink their fangs into his neck, but as they came in contact with his shining skin, they found it's touch to have quite the adverse effect on them. "Someone had said earlier that vampires were hurt by silver! Perhaps I CAN still do something to aid my friends!" My attempt to use my board as a battering ram against Logan failed the first time. Perhaps with Blade's help, it won't fail twice. Norrin looked over at Blade who was struggling to fight off the horde of lesser vampires that they were being attacked by. Looks like I might have to help him if I am to expect his help with Logan. Norrin commanded his board once again to soar towards Logan. This time, however, over a dozen other vampires were in it's path. Maybe if I cut a path through the lackeys, the Punisher would be able to focus on their dark master with me. Lord, I hope this works.
When life hands you lemons, you gotta squirt lemon juice and life's eye and make it your B!TCH
Victoria gave Barry a quick look and nodded.
"I'm fine." her voice quivered just slightly.
That was far from the truth though. Her hand had begun shaking as she held the bubble in place. Trying to concentrate on the battle at hand and holding back the invading horde was taxing on her.
She tried to spy some of the arrows that had maybe missed their mark from Castle's bow. Knowing that if she could find any, she could easily hurl them into their attackers.
Giving the two men inside her telekinetic sphere a moment to gather themselves after the Angel bounced off of it, she dropped the shield and went back to trying to fend off the undead.
As soon as the force bubble dropped Hank hurled himself forward once more. Warren had been shaken by the impact on the shield and was kneeling groggily on the ground several feet away. His mighty leg muscles powered his massive frame swiftly across the short distance and seconds later the claw tipped fingers of one hand closed around the neck of their attacker, digging mercilessly into the undead flesh. His mind raced through alternatives, he didn't have a stake or holy water to hand never mind a crucifix. Suddenly he remembered another way to stop a vampire.

Not pausing to let the realisation of what he was about to do overwhelm him, Hank reached swiftly around the recovering Worthington and ripped one of the razor sharp metal feathers from his captives wings. "Forgive me!" he thought as he sliced it with all his strength towards the exposed throat above his huge hand.
Peter clung to the exterior of the building that hosted Tessa and Wong. He watched as Dan dealt with the demonic version of Hank, and from the agonized look on the vampire's face, whatever Dan was doing must have hurt like hell. But Peter didn't let his guard down. He was ready to leap into action in a moments notice should Hank somehow break free from Dan's grasp. He would not allow 'Hank' to have another opportunity to harm his teammates. So the spider stayed where he was, waiting, but ready to strike at a moment's notice.
With eyes locked on the brutish form of this reality’s Henry McCoy, Ghost Rider spoke to Spider-man, trying to ease his apprehensions, “Do not worry, friend. As long as my penance stare is in effect, he will remain locked within the horrific confines of his own sins. You have nothing to fear from this wretch any longer.” As Ketch reassured Spider-man, Wong moved to Tessa’s side once more. He dismissed the loathsome feelings that she harbored for the vile Mr. Worthington, for he felt the same as she. But if the woman’s work had truly been completed, none of them would have to worry about those thoughts much longer. He stooped over her shoulder, peering hopefully at the screen displaying the translated spell. His eyes darted quickly over the mystical incantation, wanting nothing more than to see this hell be done.

Giving her companions a moment to ready themselves, Victoria dropped her telekinetic shield: although its dissipation was only partly due to strategy. It fell as much from the strain its existence put on Victoria’s mind as anything else. But with it no longer taxing her abilities, combined with the added incentive of the charging vampires, she was now free to cut loose with her telekinesis. She grabbed up as many arrows as she could and let them fly. The villains began to fall rather quickly as she flung shaft after shaft through the approaching vampire’s hearts, turning the battlefield into a veritable dust storm. Of coarse Barry’s lightning fast attacks, Paige and Vance’s gun fire and Castle’s expert aim with his bow helped the cause as well. But as fast as they fell, it seemed that more arose to take the demon’s places. It was times like this that Frank wished he knew more about the talisman that hung at his belt, and how to use it against the army of the damned. Fortunately, Hank had a plan. While the rest of the squad was fending off the endless supply of blood suckers, Beast was going for their leader. He took full advantage of Worthington’s momentary daze, as his superior strength was soon put into action. Hank found himself latched onto the Angel of Death, going for his opponent’s throat. He plucked a razor sharp feather from the man’s flailing wings and brought it swiftly around, aiming to separate his head from his shoulders.

Elsewhere, it was the vampire’s who found themselves with the upper hand: an advantage that Logan had become quite used to. All his life, very few people had ever been able to best him in combat. But since becoming Lord of the Vampires, none had successfully opposed him, save for Castle and his band of whelps. The rebels had become an irritation that would not be sated. Their presence would be tolerated no longer, and Logan intended to begin the night’s extermination with the familiar looking girl in his arms. Behind him and out of his thoughts for the moment, the Surfer and Blade continued to struggle with the Master’s lackeys. But Norrin’s grim determination and extraordinary willpower would not allow the man to accept the defeat that Logan intended to dish out. He launched his board once more, this time easily mowing down every villain in its path, with the hope of plowing down the Master before his fangs could pierce Rogue’s flesh. Seeing the opportunity that his ally had given him, Blade readied his sword. Rogue had become completely invisible by this time, but Blade’s heightened senses allowed him to set the blade on its proper coarse, two inches above Rogue’s right shoulder, straight for Logan’s heart. However, if the Lord of the Vampires could be taken down that easily, the war would have been over months ago. Instead, Logan dropped Rogue to the earth and snatched the sword in mid air, laughing as he did. Fortunately for the heroes, Blade never intended to dispatch their adversary: only to distract him. Because while Logan was focused on the silver blade, the silver surfboard was about to be his undoing.

Back at the brownstone, Wong grinned from ear to ear. “My child, I think you have unraveled the Montesi Formula at last. No matter what Mr. Castle may think, we would have all fallen to the Master if you had not come along. You have literally unlocked our salvation.” Clasping her happily on the shoulder, he straightened himself and continued, “I think it is ready. Although, due to the inherent power of the spell, it must be I who recite it.” Standing as still as a statue, with his hands formed into a protective configuration, Wong began to speak the words. Calmly he worked his way through the spell, making double sure to enunciate each syllable to perfection. As the last word was spoken, Mad McCoy began to writhe in pain. But it only lasted a second as he then exploded into a cloud of dust that swirled inward upon itself and then disappeared completely. Elsewhere, in the vice like grip of the Watch’s Beast, the feather had just nicked the Angel’s flesh as he began to squirm inexplicably before he too exploded into a swirl of dissipating dust. All around them, the other vampires displayed similar symptoms: startling and unexplained destruction. The same was happening in Westchester. The swarms of blood suckers that surrounded Blade and the others suddenly exploded, leaving only the Master with a look of horrible defeat upon his face. But the look did not last long as the Surfer’s board connected, cleaving the vanquished vampire in two. Before the two halves could collapse to the ground, Logan burst into a cloud of dust just like the rest, defeated once and for all. The spell had worked to perfection, leaving the Punishers and the Watch at long last, victorious.
She felt like she’d been having an out of body experience, like she’d been standing on the outside watching herself fire round after round at the bloodsuckers. It had felt so surreal to Paige that she’d actually for once in her life not relied on her powers or fears to get her through a battle, okay so she’d started out scared and massively in doubt of her own abilities. But in the end she’d face that and come out on the other side better off then when she first started the mission. So as she stood staring at the piles of dust that now surrounded them Paige had to wonder momentarily what they would do now? Would they head back to the moon or stick around in this reality for a bit? Because truth be told Paige had hoped to spend a bit more time with Vance, because basically without him she probably wouldn’t have made it through the mission and finally owned up to the fact that she needed to start acting like a super hero and not so much like a scared teenager.

“What now?” Paige questioned as she put the safety back on and shoved the gun into the waist of her pants. Shifting her weight form foot to foot the blond had already husked back into her normal appearance, her blond hair disheveled from the battle and her blue eyes held a hint of tiredness in them. Paige was positive she wouldn’t forget some of the images from this mission to quickly, nor would she forget that not ever reality had a ‘nice’ version of her.
"Now dear...we go home." Victoria turned from where she had been standing to look at Paige with a slight whimsical smile on her face.
"And doesn't it feel good to hear that?" Stepping over piles of ashes she stretched her arms high over her head and could only help but feel somewhat content with herself.
True, the Phoenix had played a small role in her duty here, and now she'd be able to go home and figure out exactly what was wrong with the entity, and run some tests on herself and find out exactly what was wrong with her. Not that she was entirely sure she wanted to know the answer to that just yet.
"Tessa, Spidey..everybody else...You guys ok?" Victoria called out mentally to them, hoping that they had survived their encounters and had done as well she, Hank and Paige had.
Peter's muscles slowly relaxed as he watched the demonic form of Hank turn to dust. He watched as the slight breeze captured the creature's remains and carried it off across the city. His gaze went to Dan and then slowly to Tessa and Wong. They had made it, all alive and intact, save for a few cuts and bruises. His eyes returned to Dan at the thought of their wounds. He was relieved to see that the Punisher's wounds that had been inflicted upon him earlier were not serious.
"Glad to see that you're okay Dan and thanks for taking care of 'Hank'."
The Spider paused for a moment and then his thoughts drifted back to the rest of the team.
"Well, I guees we better hurry up and rejoin the othe-"
His statement came to a halt as he recieved a mental message from Victoria. Peter was quite relieved to hear that she was okay, though his thoughts did not express such a feeling.
"We're fine. Had a run in with a few alterations of our team that put up quite a fight. But Tessa was able to complete the spell, so we're currently pest free. How about you guys? How are you doing? Need us to come down and lend you a hand?"
Rogue slowly opened her eyes. To her surprise, she heard nothing. She was completely unaware of whether or not that was a good thing. Putting her arms behind her she shakily began to pull herself up hoping her arms would continue to support her. She sat up and brushed a fine dusting of ash off of her stomach. It was at that moment she realized she was invisible. Returning herself to her normal appearance, she caught the tail end of Victoria's message. Pressing one hand to her head, she begged for the pounding to stop. She laid herself back down and decided to relish in the peace for just a moment.
"Thanks Spidey, but we're ok. We're just finishing things up here. Glad to hear you guys made it out ok."
Victoria couldn't help but smile even more. True, she had so many things going on within her but for once, just ONCE...they had made it through an assignment without losing a team member. It was a reason to smile all over again.
But then, her smile faltered as an image floated across her mind. A sullen smile, eyes hidden behind a pair of ruby quartz glasses...Scott.
Letting out a deep sigh, she tried hard not to let her smile fall, Scott would have been proud of her right now and she knew it.
It was odd...that at a time like this she would think of him. That he would play across her mind. She couldn't help it, but even thinking about him made her smile. She missed him more than she cared to admit, and maybe deep down where she had never bothered exploring, her feelings for Scott had been a little more than just friends.
With a glance at Hank, she shook her head and let her arms drop back to down her side after the massive stretch she had just done. She could easily peek into his mind and find out what was going on, but she'd rather hear it from him. Hank had been so remote lately that she wasn't sure what was going on, but she wasn't going to invade his privacy to find out.
Her mind turned yet again to going home and she almost shuddered. Part of her really wanted to, part of her wasn't really sure she could fit back into that life again. But she had to get some answers to the nagging questions that were plaguing her. Was she pregnant? What was going on with the Phoenix? Why was she feeling so torn apart anymore? Was it all some programming of Sinister's? Again, a cold chill ran over her at the thought of her father. She'd have to face him again...and she didn't know if she was ready for that yet.
Even as these thoughts filled her mind, another image flashed across and caused her to smile. Peter. God she missed him! A small bubble of excitement curled up in her as she thought about going home and getting back in touch with her best friend. Where was he? What was he doing now? She knew he, along with Kitty and Piotr were probably mad with worry as to where she had disappeared to all this time.
Looking over at Paige again, she smiled wider.
"I can't wait to go home and give my mom a hug and let her know I'm ok."
Norrin stood in sheer exhaustion and disbelief that he had made it out of this fight in one piece. He looked down at where his teammate was now rematerializing before his eyes, and he smiled upon seeing that she was not harmed as well. He looked around him saw that there was not a vampire to be found. I can't believe it...I made a difference. I'm not so helpless after all. A small glimmering tear ran down his metallic cheek and Norrin collapsed to his knees. We are all doing fine, Victoria. It was questionable for a while, but ultimately, we rid ourselves of the Vampire Lord. Now, if you don't mind, I'm going to pass out now.
Norrin slumped over and fell the rest of the way to the ground. The smile was still on his face.
When life hands you lemons, you gotta squirt lemon juice and life's eye and make it your B!TCH
"That was... intense." He both spoke out loud and thought as he fell to the ground. The battle had tired him, making it hard for him to keep open his eyes. "Dad... will be proud." he whispered before his eyes finally gave in and he fell asleep.
As Norrin lay passed out on the ground his surfboard floated silently at his side. It was at it's normal postition floating approximately a foot off of the ground. It was slowly lowering itself, however and soon was laying flat on the ground. Nobody seemed to notice the board, though, as it appeared to melt into a silver puddle near the Surfer's head. Slowly, the liquid that was once Norrin's surfboard began to rise up off of the ground and take a humanoid shape. Within a few minutes, it looked like an exact replica of the body that lay beside it on the ground. It began to speak. "Hello Rogue. I am glad to see that you and the vampire slayer are unharmed. Is there any way that I can be of assistance?"
When life hands you lemons, you gotta squirt lemon juice and life's eye and make it your B!TCH
Rogue stared in wide-eyed disbelief at the figure standing in front of her. "What's going on, and wo are you?" Rogue addressed the figure. A bit on the frightened side she wrapped her arms around herself and waited for an answer.
“Home….” Paige felt the pang of homesickness sink into her petite body, her blue eyes wide as she fought off the happy tears that wanted to stream down her pale cheeks at the thought of actually going home, but at the same time she felt odd at the thought of leaving Victoria, Tessa, Hank and Spiderman. Because they had become her family in her first mission, kept her alive and strong during times when she thought she’d break down.

“It feels damn good t’ hear those words.” She replied flashing Victoria a trembling smile as she still fought with her emotions over going home. “Though ah’m goin’ t’ miss y’all.” Paige confessed as she ran a hand through her long blond hair, working out the tangles and snarls. “Does anyone know if Tessa and Spiderman made it through this?” The young southerner felt a small jolt of panic course through her body as she wondered if everyone else had made it through this battle.

“It’s surreal t’ think that ah’ll be seeing Jono and the rest of mah family, but ah’m right there with yuh in the hug giving ‘Toria.” Paige chirped happily, her blue eyes sparkling as she bounced from foot to foot like a small child who was impatiently waiting for something.

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