Blessing of the Phoenix: The Enigmaverse Episode 2 @ghostandmiracle42
Act II, Chapter 4

Act II, Chapter 4: Fires of God

Harry stared at the screen in front of him in horror as the blip of red light representing the Phoenix Force shot across the Pacific. Ginny's satellites and SHIELD's were both pointed at the thing, watching in real-time as it soared over the islands. It was about to rocket past Fiji, and a few minutes after that, it would collide with Alcheringa.

Nobody was under the impression the Ward Stones around the island's perimeter would do anything to stop it.

"GINNY! HURRY!" he screamed. Lavender, who was standing beside him with one hand over her mouth and another gripping his shoulder in a vice, started hyperventilating.

"Harry," Daphne whispered from his other side, face deathly pale, "If that thing hits Alcheringa… the war is going to explode…"

"I want President Isley out of the City now. Start an evacuation immediately," Harry said, using all his willpower to stop his voice from cracking. He glanced across the Bridge to Ginny, seated in the City's control chair, eyes closed as she was bathed in white light from the ceiling.

Six new blips appeared on screen, gold, and locked onto the Phoenix's course. Drones, the City's primary defence system. There was no way for them to circle the globe in time – so Ginny had sent them into space and used the curvature of the Earth to literally half the travel time.

"Collision in ten seconds!" Ginny called.

On the ground floor below them, Neville and Demelza were already suited up and preparing a strike team of Wizards that had been in the City. There weren't many. Just Jack Murdock – the City's Chief of Defence and Matt's father, Astoria, Eloise and Katie Bell, who had been visiting to help with the girls and try again to get Ginny and Harry to start their own Atlantis Quidditch team. The rest of the Defenders Army were all scattered across the world. Flitwick and their science team were still in Britain, and their nation was too small for a dedicated security force. The City was impenetrable, they didn't need one.

Perhaps that was a slight oversight on his part.

"2, 1…"

The golden blips collided with the red, and all of them vanished from view. Harry, Daphne and Lavender all stared at the satellite feed of the Fijian islands, watching as a mushroom cloud ripped through the air.

Then the Phoenix blasted free of the fireball and continued on its path. The red blip returned to their screens.

"Harry! I've finally got Peter on the line!" Colin called, breaking the silence that had descended on the room.

Harry turned away from the screen, rushing over to Colin's desk.

"Peter! The Phoenix is heading for Alcheringa, we need Spider-Man…"

"Awful time guys!"

Peter cursed as the sound of an explosion rumbled across the connection.

"Martin! You can still stop this!"

"Peter, what's going on…"

"Just a guy powered by anti-magic trying to unleash a deadly plague on New York City. I'm sor…"

Another detonation, the line crackled, then went instantly dead.

Harry was now seriously panicking.

"Lavender, call T'Challa. Now."

Lavender nodded, then began typing rapidly into her computer. The Phoenix had reached New Caledonia…


T'Challa's face appeared on the holoscreen. He was standing in Shuri's lab, and the genius girl herself was standing a short distance behind him, scowling.

"We need the Black Panther. Fast."

T'Challa hesitated for only a moment.

"Send me a Gateway."

They ended the call as Shuri started yelling behind him, and Harry gestured for Lavender to do just that. Another six drones crashed into the Phoenix as it reached the border of the Alcheringan Atolls, and had even less of an effect. Ginny cursed, sitting upright, jaw clenched.

"We've got to go after this thing," she hissed before jumping upright and storming towards the Gateway.

"Gin, we can't!" Harry said, rushing over and grabbing her arm. "That's exactly what it wants."

"You can't," a new voice said, and the Potters spun around to see Hermione step out of the elevator and onto the Bridge. She had forgone the Ancient Armour for her old red Defenders Cloak, and her body was haloed in white light.

"But I can."

"Hermione wait…"

But she didn't listen. She just ripped open a hole in reality and stepped through, sealing it instantly behind her.

Hermione stepped out of her rift atop the Central Tower of Alcheringa. The tower, based on a painting found by the Mer at the bottom of the ocean ages before Atlantis had been rediscovered, was a perfect external replica of the one in the City. The roof was a flat space, the tallest point on the island metropolis, railings around the edge. However, where Atlantis's rooftop was empty, this one had been turned into an elaborate garden surrounding a single eucalyptus tree. A couple were sitting beneath the tree, kissing softly.

Their moment was entirely ruined by Hermione's arrival. She might have laughed if she wasn't feeling so utterly empty inside.

Because Hermione Granger, genius, scientist, scholar and inventor, had no idea what to do next.

"Get out of here. As fast as you can!" She exclaimed as the two women jolted apart with embarrassed expressions. Not a second after she spoke, alarms started blaring through the city below them, great watchtowers flashing red beacons.

The sky over the ocean started rippling like water, then, with a tremendous concussive BOOM, the Phoenix crashed through Alcheringa's wards and shot towards the heart of the city.

The two lovers instantly entangled away, bursting into golden dust.

Hermione took a deep breath, then lifted herself up into the air, pulling as deeply at the Source as she could. That silver light forever over her shoulder pulsed brighter than the moon overhead, pouring the power of creation into her very blood. It suffused her core, her skin, her bones, and as it did so, it expanded her mind, letting her understand and experience the world around her as no mortal could ever dream of.

The Phoenix became aware of her immediately, and the cosmic firebird veered off course, straight towards her.

It screeched into the night, reared up and blasted her with a wave of pure unbridled flame.

Hermione didn't make a single motion as she cooled the atoms back to ordinary temperatures, and the torrent of fire vanished into nothing.

Her turn.

Raising a single hand, Hermione concentrated not on the firebird before her, but on the cosmic entity behind it. The Phoenix Force itself. Like when Hermione had perceived Voldemort's Nether Force, she could see the creature's purpose and design. Its thirst for destruction and genuine desire to burn the world to the ground. But she could feel no real malice behind it. The Phoenix was doing what it was born too: destroy, and use that devastation to start anew. It was an entity of rebirth, just as the Nether Force had been a reservoir of eternal evil and corruption.

But the Phoenix was different in a single, fundamental way, she realised.

Two minds were driving this Force.

The Nether Force had been Tom Riddle's to wield, even as it tainted his body and mind, warping and killing him. The Phoenix Force had its own conscious, a will of its own. One that was, even now, waring against the will of the person it had latched onto.

Hermione could see Jean Grey.

The Phoenix tried to attack her again, but Hermione dismissed its fire with a distracted wave.

Could she split them apart? The Phoenix was a well of power, it couldn't act without a host. Perhaps, if she dispelled it from the girl, it would return to its reservoir waiting for the universe to grow near its end.

And the emptiness, the guilt she carried for setting this thing on the world, for adding Jean Grey to the list of people whose lives she'd destroyed, might abate.

The Phoenix heard Hermione's thought and pounced upon it.

It launched another attack, but this time, instead of trying to burn her to a crisp, it assaulted her mind. Tendrils of flame lashed out at her, sheering through her Occlumency shields like paper, reaching into her brain to pull out the memories that lingered there, ripping at her conscious every day.

Her tether to the Source wavered.

Memory after memory the bird threw at her. Of doing nothing as Voldemort killed Professor Dumbledore in front of her. Of Gwen Stacy's dead body lying on the Brooklyn bridge. Jessica's body ripped to atoms in the Room of Requirement's destruction. Wiping her parent's memories. Claire and the SHIELD personnel still missing.

Of Ron Weasley, throwing himself into the Killing Curse to save her life.

What a pathetic life to save.

Hermione Granger was a failure at life, a failure of a human being.

She didn't deserve to wield the power of creation.

And so she didn't.

The link between Hermione and Source snapped, and she fell from the sky, powerless.

Because what Hermione had refused to tell anyone, even Harry and Ginny, was that as she'd grown more and more reliant on the Source, her ordinary magical abilities had been fading away. In part, that was why she was so desperate to understand what it was and recreate her original experiment.

So she plummeted through the air, dropped like a puppet from a string, and all she could think of was that at least now she couldn't ruin more lives.

And as she closed her eyes and waited for the inevitable, cloak whipping around her, the Phoenix grabbed the side of Alcheringa's Central Tower and ripped it apart.

She was too far gone to notice when soft hands grabbed her out of the air.

Harry stepped out of the Gateway flanked by his Defenders and the Black Panther, suited up and ready. What they found was a war zone.

People screamed and alarms blared out across the city as the Phoenix hovered over the rubble of Alcheringa's Tower: a giant wall of flame shaped like a bird with wings that blotted out the entire horizon, eyes of blazing gold. Each moment it lashed out with its wings or talons, destroying yet another building, making dominos of skyscrapers. All around them, people were trying to dig through the rubble, levitating or banishing debris to find their friends. Others ran out of the still-standing buildings, grabbing onto people to entangle away or disapparate.

"Harry, Ginny, I have President Isley and General Hobbs…"

"Ginny? Are you there? What's happening!?"

Hell. That's what was happening. Where was Hermione?

"I'm here, Pamela," Ginny whispered back to the young President. "And we're going to get this thing out of your city."

"Guys, the Concordat is already pledging forces, and General Hobbs is on the horn with the FPA," Daphne narrated to them as they watched the Phoenix destroy yet another building.

"The closest Hyperspace Cruisers are preparing to jump back to Alcheringa with their Sea-Dragon Squadrons…"

"No," Harry snapped, hand flashing to his ear, "Tell them all to stay away. They'll just be cannon fodder to this thing. Get them ready to receive refugees, and we need as many triage nurses and mediwitches as you can round up. Get them en route to the Rocks as fast as possible. We have to prevent the wizards from spilling out into Sydney or the nearby countries."

"What about Layqasuyu? Any statement from Solitude?" Ginny asked.

"Not yet, I'll keep you posted… Somethings… you've got incoming on your six!"

The team of Defenders spun around just in time to see a Quinjet fly straight through the protective wards, zooming straight towards the Phoenix.

"Gin can you…"

"Already on it," Ginny said, helmet forming around her. A second later, static started crackling in his ear, which then formed into a voice he knew only too well.

"Director, you want me to fly right at that thing?" Agent Clint Barton, Hawkeye.

"Sweep past it, there should be a girl in there somewhere. If we can get her out of the storm, we might be able to stop this."

"Roger that Director," Ginny said, the group watching as the Director's Quinjet banked to the right and began to whip around the Phoenix.

"Potter. I thought you were not supposed to be here?"

"Didn't have much of a choice," she said. "We'll approach from below, see if we can use magic to separate Jean from the Phoenix. And Fury… try not to die."

Fury huffed, and Barton answered.

"Will do Mrs Potter. I don't fancy being a bug on a windshield any more than the next guy. That and Romanoff would certainly kick my ass."

"Yes, I would." Came the disgruntled voice of the aforementioned agent, and Harry chuckled softly under his breath.

"Okay everyone," Harry called to the team. Fan out. Dem, Neville, two teams, evacuate as many people as you can."

"Where do you want me?" T'Challa asked.

Harry narrowed his eyes at the giant bird and was secretly glad to have the Prince on his side again, even if it was only temporary.

"We're going to figure out how to punch that thing."

Kara dropped to the sandbank, heavy breathing as she looked up at the giant magical firebird hovering over the city. Gently, she laid the brown-haired woman she'd caught down on the sand, and looked her over for any injuries. She seemed fine at least, and Kara had gotten quite good at spotting problem wounds over the years, even if she had never suffered one.

What had this woman been doing? Kara had seen her bathed in white light atop the tower, fighting off the creature somehow. But then her power had just… vanished, for some reason.

The woman was still breathing, and with the bird still screeching as it laid waste to the city, Kara had bigger issues to deal with. She'd learnt the hard way that her invulnerability didn't extend to protection against spells and other forms of magic, so, unfortunately, there would be no punching the firebird thing. So, helping people out of the wreckage was the next best option until some more qualified sorcerers came up with a plan…

Even as she had the thought, three people raced down the highway that ran adjacent to the river. Not away from the bird, but towards it. A red-orange haired woman and a black-haired man wearing the white armour of Atlantis, and… yep, that was the Black Panther himself, protector of Wakanda.

Excellent. Heroes always ran towards danger; which meant those three were just who Kara needed right now. Hopefully, they could explain what she could do to help.

Skye was going to be so pissed she missed this.

Harry flipped over a flying bolder as Ginny and T'Challa slid beneath it, and the trio ducked together over a toppled overhang. The Phoenix had perched itself right over the rubble of the tower, which had sat on an island in the middle of the city. The debris were currently littering the shoreline or sinking down into the water, which was a whole other problem. Because while the island's surface was home to the Druid city, the Mer city was inverted beneath the island. The river had no bottom, any debris that fell into it would fall down into the underwater Alcheringa and wreak havoc.

They needed to put an end to this. A gas main exploded a short distance away, and Harry and Ginny, both with helmets raised, used the sound as cover to charge across the field, T'Challa circling around them.

Harry, we don't have a Zodiac Circle, how are we going to dispel the Force?

We have to try.

But what's your plan?

I'm really not going to like it, am I?

Not in the slightest.

The duo dove into the river, hiding beneath the surface from the Phoenix's roving eyes, and Ginny started scanning it as Harry disengaged the Ancient Armour. While Ginny would have to wear it underwater, Harry didn't have to. Nine years ago, a Mer named Emilie, a friend of Claire's and Neville's future wife, had given Harry her single all-powerful Mermaid's Kiss, which now allowed him to breath and withstand all underwater pressures.

To say that Ginny, Harry, Emilie and Neville were still awkward about the whole affair would be an understatement.

He drew his wand, ignited the tip, and began to draw a single rune on his right palm. A rune that was a mirror image of the scar that still warped Ginny's hand to this day.

Sagittarius: Zodiac Rune of Intangibility.

Ginny did indeed not like this plan. Not in the slightest.

No way! Stop what you're doing right now!

It's the only way I can think of to stop the damage. If I can get the Phoenix into the Mirror Dimension, maybe it will stay trapped long enough for us to draw a proper circle and dispel it like we did with Voldemort.

… I don't like this.

I know. And I'm sorry.

Just remember I love you, okay?


Harry finished his rune and held his wand steady. The one problem with the Ancient Armour was that you couldn't use runic powers while wearing it. But he still had the Firebrand aiding his reflexes, and his natural skills. Hopefully, they'd be enough.

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