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Chapter Three: The Salvation of Paradise
Rage. Violence. Destructrion. These were the things to expect when dealing with the Hulk. Cloak had heard tales of entire armies failing to stop him, the weapons of Doom failing to wound him, and even Hell itself failing to contain him. What were they, this mish-mash group of adventurers, supposed to do to him? The cloak dare not try to trap him in the dark dimension, lest through fury alone the Hulk rend that realm, and the cloak by circumstance, asunder. The quick one might pelt him with blows to only fuel his anger. The dead one had yet to display a talent to quell the beast. And she who had been brightest now shone with the same luminence as the others.

But perhaps the cart was going before the horse, as the saying went. Mayhaps they were not there for the Hulk at all, but instead for someone else. Yes. The Franki girl had raised a good point. Expectations were one thing, but the truth of the matter could be something else entierly. They could hardly form a plan if they knew not what to plan for. Working out ways to defeat the Hulk would do little good if they were to stumble upon the resting place of someone else.

All at once the cloak disappeared into thin air, thin wasps of smoke like fabric lingering in the air where it had once been before dissapating themselves. It moved quickly through the dark dimension. It moved with a purpose. If it could scout the interior of the structure before the others arrived perhaps they could all be better prepared for what lay ahead.
Victoria kept walking towards the Hulkbuster base. She knew instintively that everyone else would follow, they always did.
At Franki's mention of a plan, she looked over her shoulder at her. Pretty much at the same moment, the Cloak disappeared. Arching an eyebrow at that, she shook her head.
"Plan, not really. But we were sent here for a reason." she felt aggitated suddenly. Like she couldn't stand still even if she wanted to.
With all the worry of the voice in her head, the empty space inside her of that once burned bright with the presence of the Phoenix, she couldn't help but feel a little like she was in a constant spin.
She looked ahead, at the base, and kept talking as she walked.
"It all depends on what's inside of there. "
“Peachy.” Franki muttered, fighting the urge to roll her eyes, “I was hoping you would have a different answer, but I understand. Everything’s unknown, lets just hope we’re not gonna be facing an army of Gods or something; otherwise I’m toast.” She wondered where the Cloak had disappeared to, since it seemed his exit might’ve been caused by what she said.

“Not to sound like I’m complaining or anything, but I’m at a distinct disadvantage compared to the rest of you. It makes me edgy that we don’t know what we’re facing, and I don’t even have a weapon.” Batgirl continued, “Just some rope, which won’t be a hell of a lot of help against super-powered God-types. So that’s kind of where I’m coming from.” She really hoped that what she said wasn’t going to be taken the wrong way, it wasn’t a pity party of any kind; it was just Franki stating the fact of why she was edgy and asking questions.
"I'm..." Victoria started to say that she was at just as much of a disadvantage as Franki, but stopped. Having spent her entire existance depending on the Phoenix as her protection and defense and that sense of security was gone.

Victoria paused for a moment and let her telepathy take over. She let her mind begin searching the base before them. Her mission, simple. Find out what was in there and what they were up against, and if she could, mentally tear it apart.

"Give me a minute, I may have something." with her fingertips pressed against her temples, her eyes closed, her mind began it's search.
No matter what Franki thought, the Watcher did nothing without a purpose. Even though she was seemingly the weakest of the Watch, her presence in this reality was no accident. And it was a roster decision Dr. Strange had accepted without hesitation for he knew that the caped crusader would have a role to play. And she too would understand soon enough what that role would be.

It was true that the facility that stood in the distance was built for the capture and containment of the monster known as the Hulk, but since the Asgardians had set themselves up as the uninvited lords and masters of this reality, Bruce Banner’s alter ego had been fighting alongside the other mortals of Earth. Hulk was the strongest one there is, and he intended to keep it that way. But even though the Cloak’s fear of the Hulk was misplaced in this reality, his instincts were good. Because even though the military had long ago abandoned the base, it was anything but deserted. And its current occupants would not have the time to notice a flitting shadow moving about the corridors. The Cloak hovered above and peered down. It needed to be able to look out on its surroundings if it was going to accomplish its goal. Nearby, it sensed a being that might suit its needs. He was weak and would certainly pose no resistance to the Cloak’s presence. Looking out from behind this defeated man’s eyes, Cloak saw people of all kinds being held within cells. There were beings of all shapes and sizes. There were some that were as purely average as any other human, and others with apparent great power. The Cloak could see it within them, yet mysteriously these beings did nothing to use their power to escape their captors. And it was then that said captors finally came into view. They shined as bright as the sun as they came into view. But Cloak had little time to focus on these beings, for just then a tornado of sorts tore threw the corridor, upsetting everyone and everything as it progressed. And if the silver and blue blur at the tornado’s core hadn’t been somewhat familiar to the Cloak, it might not have even been able to distinguish Quicksilver amidst the tempest. Apparently the Watch was not alone on this mission after all.

It didn’t take long for Victoria to discover the torrent of emotions emanating from the bowels of the complex. As soon as she extended her psychic probe, the platinum blonde telepath got bombarded with a myriad of different emotions. There were many humans below, each of them experiencing the full gamut. Some seemed to be absolutely at ease with their surroundings while others were filled with blinding fear. But they were not alone. There were others lurking in the depths as well: beings of immense power the likes of which Victoria had only experienced once before, in the streets of Landsbystyv when they faced Hogun and Yarsug. Judging by the psychic picture that was forming in her head, it was clear to Victoria that they were now standing atop the dungeon of the Gods.
Victoria's hands slowly fell away from her temples as her eyes opened to look at the group who had been walking with her.
"It's a prison. It's a desolute, fear filled place...and the Asgardians are there. " she said in an almost deadpan voice.
Turning to Paige, she asked the little blonde a question she's never asked her before.
"Husk, have you ever turned to Adamantium?" "Because I think now would be the opportune time to experiement with that."
With each step closer to the dungeon, she felt her feet dragging in the sand.
She knew Pietro was there already, she had seen him in her mind when she scanned the dungeon.
"We aren't going into this alone. Quicksilver is down there. Barry, you may want to go help him. The rest of us, well...we finish this." she said as she pulled out the sword Deadpool had given her, a reminder of a more cheerful time, and took her first steps into the base.
At Victoria’s question Paige began searching her mind for any memory of ever trying Adamantium out. The tiny blond couldn’t think of a time when she’d tried it, diamond she’d tried, wood she’d tried, silver, gold, steel, and various other kinds of things. But never Adamantium, and now that she thought about it she couldn’t figure out why she hadn’t tried it before. No, ah haven’t tried it. But ah sure as hell can try and give it a whirl. Paige sent the mental reply to Victoria, not wanting the entire team to know that she was unsure as to weather or not she could pull it off. After all Guthrie’s are a prideful bunch, and Paige wasn’t exempt from that and she didn’t fancy having any of her new teammates seeing her insecurities as she tried out this new husk.

Please work. Paige mentally pleading with her body as she began to rip away her skin, staring with her hands first and if it worked on her hands she’d continue the husk. As she began to husk Paige could feel a weight growing in the pit of her stomach, her blue eyes revealing the nerves she now felt as they approached their impending battle. No matter how many battles she was in, and how many she came out of unscathed there would always be that worry that she may not make it out of this one. It would always be on her mind, and every mission she’d tell herself not to worry so much or brood so much on this mission and each time she would. Stop thinkin’ Paige mentally scolded herself, a mask of determination slipping over her usually pleasant features. Her blue eyes holding steeling look to them, at least she could look pierce and strong on the outside. Maybe just maybe it would seep through into her thoughts and she wouldn’t end up feeling like she wouldn’t be able to handle this, after all they were facing Gods.
He was called.....Quicksilver. Yes. A fitting name. Even without eyes the cloak would have been able to feel him sliding though the hallways and corridors like liquid Mercury. But one man alone would not be enough to free all these poor souls, and with his group still some ways away, the cloak wasn't sure the speedster would be able to stay out of arm's reach long enough to help to arrive. It couldn't take the quick one out of this place and risk foiling some carefully laid plan. And yet, it couldn't pull it's commrades into this place and thrust them head first into the heart of confusion and conflict.

Could he ferret the actual prisoners away?

No, it too might jeopardize some plan unbeknownst to the cloak. But it felt it had to do something. It had to lend the proverbial hand to the cause, and as such quickly separated itself from it's current host and teleported itself back to the group, latching itself onto the closest person to itself after re-emergence and bombarding him or her with everything it had just experienced. It couldn't 'port them all in blind, but it wouldn't feel so bad porting in someone who knew what to expect.
With vested interest, the Watch listened to Victoria tell of what she had seen in her mind’s eye. They knew that it would take everything they could muster to face the challenge that lay ahead. It wasn’t every day, even for the mightiest of Earth’s heroes, that one went into battle against a god. Let alone a whole army of them. Not needing much prodding, the Kid Flash disappeared in a blur the moment Victoria suggested it. He didn’t need much of an excuse to prove once and for all to his white-haired counterpart who the fastest man alive really was. On Victoria’s right hand, Paige looked around at the teammates walking beside her, doing her best to shut out all doubt, concentrating on forming an adamantium shell just beneath her skin. The picture in her mind began to come into focus as she looked down at her hands, noticing the skin there rippling slightly. She peeled back the layers of derma to reveal a shiny metallic casing that Husk knew to be adamantium. She was ready, as was Abbey. She had set aside all pretense and had drawn her pistols just as soon as they had emerged alone in the desert. All around them, the team was making the necessary preparations. Iron Fist was gathering his chi for the fight of his life, Alex was doing his best to rationalize the gruesome things he may be forced to do in the name of the greater good and Logan was simply walking. Like always, he was more than ready for anything. Or so he thought.

Just then, as they came up to the decrepit cyclone fence that used to encircle the facility, a swirling black form emerged from a nearby shadow, wrapping itself around Batgirl’s familiar form. It imparted all of its gathered knowledge to the young girl, who then relayed it to the team. But as Franki was relaying the Cloak’s concerns over Quicksilver fighting alone, Logan pointed something out. He had, like always, been paying attention in the caves and had noted that Quicksilver did not get sent alone. There was a blonde woman that had been with him: what was her name . . . Warhawk . . . Bird-girl . . . some stupid name or another? Whatever she had called herself, he definitely remembered her going through Strange’s portal with that jackass Pietro. And he told the group that in so many words. At least they knew there was one more powerhouse on their side just a few levels below.

But the question was how best to get to those that needed their help. The front door was an option, as it was blatantly hanging off its hinges, but that would likely only work if they intended to run in with guns blazing. They could have of coarse split up and found their own individual ways in. That would certainly add to the chaos that Quicksilver was seemingly intent on creating. Or there was always the Cloak. It surely seemed to have the ability, and it had the added benefit of already having been inside. There were many ways they could join in the mission, but which one would they choose?
It took Victoria only a moment to decide which way she was going on. Walking up the steps to where the front door hung off it's hinges, she turned and looked at the team behind her.
"You can follow me, or find your own ways in. I'd suggest adding to the element of chaos and going in your own way. I'll go in as bait, you guys follow."

With a deep breath, she took her first steps beyond the front door, her sword drawn and at the ready, her mind searching out around her, keeping her guard up and ready to pounce at a moment's notice.
Guns drawn, Abbey held her gaze to what lay in front of them. She didn't know what it was, she didn't even really care, all she really cared was getting out alive. Not just herself, but everyone else as well. She poised her fingers on the triggers and waited until she could get a clear shot. A small smile slid across her fac elike it always did when she was gearing up for battle. She looked down the line of her teammates, each one preparing for battle in their own way. She muttered a quick prayer in her head for them all.
Where was she going? Shouldn't they all go in together? Wouldn't that be safer? Quicker? More of an advantage? Concentrating all their efforts into one unit just might be enough to topple a titan or two. Spreading themselves to thin might leave them vulnerable. It wanted to get everyone inside as quickly as possible. It had to. To many souls were being imprisoned in the depths, and being held in the dark, in captivity was something it had only the deepest sympathies for.

Haste. Inside. Unity.

These were the concepts and feelings it tried to relate to Franki, hoping she'd rally the troops as it were for a direct assault. It could only hope she knew what it was planning, as there was a big difference between storming the gates and being plopped down in the middle of a fight. In transit it could "arrange" the group so they would emerge in a circle, backs to each other's, chests outwards ready to face their foes. The formerly brilliant one was alreadly slipping to far away for it to affect, and it could only hope none of the others would depart to prematurely.
Paige watched the group around her as they all went about their rituals before a big battle, Victoria taking on many of the responsibilities of a leader to this group. Good luck. The southern blond watched as Victoria entered the building, not worried for her safety as much as worried about what might happen now that the rest of the team didn’t have her to guide them. “So what’s the game plan?” Paige spoke up, not allowing enough time for this group to rush off every which way. They needed to learn to be united on everything, and this was the first step towards that.

“Toria’s even us and opportunity t’ surprise them by rushing them from different directions…now ah don’t think it’s a terrible idea, but ah think we should stick t’ groups of twos. Have someone to watch yuh’re back so t’ speak.” Tapping her foot impatiently as she waited for the rest of the group to respond Paige scanned the group, looking each one of them in the eye. “We don’t have much time…so that’s make this fast.” She continued, her impatient personality flashing through just a bit.
“Or we could make the whole thing quicker, and teleport in there.” Franki commented; the strategy that the Cloak had told her was looking pretty good in her eyes. Focus more of the team’s powers, take opponents down quicker and get to the prisoners quicker. She liked it better than going in there alone, that plan left them all more vulnerable than they needed to be.

“We’re weaker split up, at least in a group we can concentrate powers.” Batgirl continued to say, “It’s not a brilliant plan, but neither is going in there separately.” She was trying to appeal to the sensibilities of this group; not that anybody in this group had real definite sensibilities. Maybe they would at least have a sense of strategy, or self-preservation.
“As a larger group we’re less likely to encounter an opponent that we can’t take down, or at least that’s my guess. Plus, we’ll get to the heart of the fight quicker if we teleport because the Cloak knows exactly where we need to be positioned to make an impact.” She was BS-ing parts of this, but she had confidence that her ethereal teammate knew what it was doing in suggesting this idea to her. So even though she didn’t know his exact plan, she hoped she had pieced it together well enough to portray it as a good idea.

“We should be making a decision real quick, we’re losing our window of opportunity.”
Hanging desperately by one determined bolt, the twelve-inch thick door creaked helplessly as Victoria passed through its portal. There was a basketball sized indentation in the thick metal in the distinct shape of a fist, leaving the pale skinned telepath with the feeling that this was not a place that anyone had ever wanted to be held. But unlike the jade giant who was once imprisoned here, the current prisoners did not have the muscle to fashion their own departure. They needed help, and that was what the Watch was there to provide.

After passing into the deep shadows that lay beyond the moonlit doorway, outside of the Cloak’s influence, Victoria found it far more difficult to make out her surroundings. The only thing she could discern in the near darkness was an elevator shaft that appeared to have been torn open from the inside, leaving it without a passenger car and gaping to nearly three times its original size. Peering down, Victoria could definitely see light, but could hear nothing. With all the chaos that she knew was happening below, she wondered how there could be no sound. She attempted to scan for trouble telepathically, but there was nothing but static on the psychic plane. Something inside the building was disrupting her telepathy. She would have to do it the hard way. Slowly Victoria rose from the floor under the power of her telekinesis and lowered herself into the unknown, ready for anything. When she reached the bottom, Victoria quickly understood why the place had fallen so quiet. Her sword came to the ready, but her foe only smiled and asked, “Dost that not belong to me?”

The group of heroes that remained outside took a quick vote and decided that they would allow the Cloak to teleport them inside, but into small strike forces instead of one large group. They hoped this would allow them to accomplish more in a shorter amount of time, and get them all home just a little bit faster in the process. In a swirl of obsidian tendrils, the Cloak swallowed up the Watch and delivered them to the battleground. Logan was the first to emerge from the shadows, quietly by himself. This was partly due to his overconfidence in his own abilities and the team’s reluctance to work with him. The second group was led by Iron Fist, with Alex and Abbey under his command. Husk and Batgirl, with the Cloak still wrapped tightly around her shoulders, emerged last, having deposited their teammates as strategically as possible into the deep shadows that lingered around the large control room. All seven of them had managed to remain unseen by the demigod soldiers that littered the room, mostly due to the goings on at the chamber’s center. There were holding cell corridors that jutted out in a half-dozen directions on all sides, but in the middle of the circular room was what was left of the Separatist attack. Quicksilver and Warbird lay unconscious at the boots of the Asgardian forces. Only Victoria remained on her feet, having just arrived moments before her teammates. The members of the Watch glanced at each other from across the room, wondering how to proceed. Should they continue upon their mission to save Kya or risk everything by attempting to help their teammate who now stood face to face with Security Master Loki?
Once again, Victoria silently cursed Wade Wilson in her head.
“Never accept a gift from Wade and expect it to be anything that’s not “hot”.” she told herself.
She didn’t have time to dwell on this. The Asgardian standing before her, she knew to be Loki. Again, living in New York had it’s perks when it came to the Super powered set and their death duels in the streets of Manhattan.
“Perhaps in another time and place it was, but now…” Victoria turned the blade in her hand a couple of times… “It’s mine.” Her eyebrow arched upward in a daring way, she willed the blood red diamond on her forehead to begin glowing as if it were a warning, but the voice that had come to reside within Victoria warned her not to get too cocky with the God of Mischief.
She shot a quick look at Paige, but her attention remained focused on Loki. Her mind was racing, trying to figure out every scenario as to how to get out of this, and get out alive. With no Phoenix to call on, she was in a situation she’d never be in before. Her failsafe and fallback was gone, and she had absolute no idea how to proceed, but she wasn’t going to let on.
“It seems you have the upper hand Master Loki…for now. Unless I decide to rain hellfire down upon us all.” A bluff, maybe not a good one, but she couldn’t use her telepathy, her only other defensive weapon would have to be her telekinesis, perhaps a shapeshifting or two, and hope her healing factor would be fast enough to recover from whatever Loki had planned for her.
Frantically Paige began to run scenario after scenario through her head, willing herself to shield the panic she felt from being visible in her actions and in her gaze. This wasn’t a time to go all panicky teenager on her team. She knew she had the strength in her to face these guys; Paige just needed to believe that she could do it without a big brother type theoretically holding her hand the entire way. Almost as if she were looking for guidance Paige glanced towards Victoria, but seeing as the elder of the two women was undoubtedly busy Paige realized that her gut feeling was what she needed to rely on now. Paige keep calm, yuh can do this. She mentally reassured herself, Asgardians can’t be any worse then Sammy when he’s pissed. Paige was trying to play down the fact that these soldiers were probably light-years ahead of them battle wise, this wasn’t the time to be quivering in her new adamantium skin.

For the moment Paige was beginning to think it might be best to lay in wait until the opportune moment came to spring out and attack. We never did discuss a plan of action upon getting in. She mused, realizing that having an inner dialog with herself at a time like this was probably not the most productive thing she could be doing. But it beat rushing in blind and getting killed, or knocked out.
Franki was mentally cursing, having taken in the situation. She wouldn’t classify it as a lose/lose, but she wasn’t overly optimistic about their chance of winning.
“Any ideas?” She asked the Cloak, spotting the rest of the team in their own areas of the room.
“Blondie, any opinions?” Batgirl hissed to her companion, trying to keep their existence in the room covered. The last thing they needed was to be attacked without being prepared, not that either of them couldn’t think on their feet. She just didn’t feel as confident in herself without the assistance of her utility belt, which unfortunately had not made the jump with her.

Rope was a sad excuse for a weapon, but if needed be she could use it. Having been trained by one of her realities best fighters, she knew almost every possible use for that rope. But she still wished she had her full utility belt, “But if wishes were horses…” Batgirl thought to herself, rolling her shoulders, trying to find her center.
“We have two options; help Victoria, or rescue Kya…which is more important?” Franki paused, “Not to the team, but to the mission. Which is more important?” Franki knew it sounded cold, but they were stuck between a rock and a hard place, and time was slipping through their fingers quickly.
Intimidation was not something Loki was used to seeing from those he deemed beneath him. Which, these days was everyone, but especially the mortals. But still, she held the sword: the one that had been stolen from him some years ago. The implications were puzzling for sure, and maybe that was why Victoria was not yet begging for her life. But then a moment passed and the novelty of the situation faded. Annoyed with the woman’s false bravado and unmitigated gall, the Security Master moved toward the white-haired telepath, ordering his men to restrain her. But before he could wrap his long disgusting fingers around the alabaster skin of her neck, Loki hesitated. He glanced toward the phantom that caught his attention, but even the God of Mischief was too slow to catch sight of Barry Allen, the fastest kid on Earth. Dismissing the thing as nothing more than one of his many personal demons lashing out at his sanity, he quickly refocused his glare on Victoria. But in the spot where she had just stood, now held nothing. For before the guards could seize her, and while Loki’s attentions were momentarily elsewhere, Ms. Essex took the opportunity to use one of the many gifts her creator had equipped her with, and vanished amongst the whipping folds of her cloak. She thought that particular ability had vanished along with the near sentient shroud that she used to wear, but in a moment of desperation she seemingly tapped the ability once more, willing herself intangible and reappearing who knows where.

Unlike Quicksilver, Barry, having learnt more than a few tricks from his super fast forbears, had little trouble avoiding detection as he moved through the corridors at lightning speed. Even when just a split second ago the God of Mischief himself looked right at him, Kid Flash had but to vibrate his molecules just enough to blur beyond the visual spectrum, effectively making him invisible. Of coarse if the Security Master had used the all-seeing Eye of Agamotto, Barry would have been seen for sure. It was lucky for him that Loki was far too arrogant to rely on anything as trivial as a magical talisman to perform his duties: at least as long as his men were watching. The speedster was across the room in a hundredth of a second, crouching beside Batgirl as they watched Loki’s reaction to Victoria’s disappearing act. He was obviously upset at loosing one of the Separatist upstarts, but the pleasure that filled him upon looking at the one time Avengers that lay unconscious at his feet seemed to sate him enough to move forward with his agenda. He barked at his soldiers as he opened a portal in front of him, “I fear this was not but a distraction. These wretches are a shining example of what happens when you challenge the throne, and it is time that their friends are taught that lesson. Our lord needs me now, but you, my men, will remain here. I want that impetuous woman found, for mark my word, I shall retrieve that sword.”

With but a handful of guards left to oppose them, Batgirl knew that the time for action was now. But they needed a distraction. She formulated a quick plan of action and instructed Barry to relay it to the others, unseen by their Asgardian opposition. Once they each understood their role, Franki gave them a nod from her position and the plan was put to action. Logan, Iron Fist, Barry and Husk leapt forward from their divergent edges of the room, surprising and surrounding the guards. The team knew they only had to hold the brute’s attentions for a few minutes, but that didn’t make the demigods any less imposing. But the diversion would give Alex, Abbey, Cloak and Batgirl, the team members most familiar with subterfuge and shadows, a chance to complete their mission. And with Barry’s intel on the dungeon’s layout to help them along, the rescue of little Kya went off without a hitch. Of coarse having the guards completely distracted by Barry’s incessant taunting and Logan’s witty repartee, all the while being pummeled mercilessly by Paige’s adamantium fists and Iron Fist’s chi powered blows, helped considerably. Once the rescue team had attained their goal, Cloak swept back through the shadows and into the main chamber, whisking it’s teammates out of the fight and into the moonlight that lay above. A short distance away, a portal waited: looking just the same as the one Stephen Strange had used to deposit them into the desert in the first place. Trusting that he had sent it for them, they made their final escape, just as the Asgardians busted through the Hulkbuster base’s main gates, finally destroying the thick steel door’s one remaining hinge.

Stepping from the portal, the Watch were once again in the company of Porjyst and Zarrko the Seer in the caves below Landsbystyv. The Watch found themselves with many questions, mostly concerning the well being of this realties heroes. They had met them only briefly, but wondered how their campaigns in the war against Asgard had fared. Zarrko couldn’t help but be blunt as he explained that the heroes would not survive these battles, although he rationalized the hard truth as historical fact, explaining that it had already been written into the future’s history. For Zarrko was a man of the future, and like it or not, history had a way of fulfilling itself. But even in the shadow of the hero’s fates, he went on to explain, the Watch had heroically and perfectly completed their small part of this realty’s history, allowing small Kya the chance to grow up to be the great woman that he knew she would be.

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