Authors Notes: I'd say sorry for being late, but I'm not, as I've spent the last two weeks both continuously puking my guts out, and glued to CNN as fascists stormed the US Capitol, neither of which is very conducive to inspiration. (Full disclosure, there has also been a considerable amount of doomscrolling... What have we come to?) And my husband is stuck on like ten-hour shifts as he works to save Australia's collective google account from a bunch of dumb ass politicians, so he's no help. *sighs.
Now if you'll excuse me, I need to suck up some courage and pee on a stick. Toodles.
"How the hell are we going to get inside the Dark Multiverse!?" Miracle screamed, sending a nearby flock of birds scattering to the wind.
Gwenpool lifted a hand and started counting.
"I don't know!" Ghost snapped back. "You can't just waltz down into the Destroyer's prison and leave again."
"Four," Gwen muttered, seriously wondering at how nobody could see this coming.
"We helped you get your information, we are not helping you go down there," Shade demanded, standing up and stalking across the hillock with his fox daemon. He held up a hand, then jerked it down, tearing an opening back to his own world.
"I'm sorry for your daughter Miracle," Wonder said, owl daemon perched on her shoulder. "I really am. But if she's been taken into the Dark… she's already gone."
Then she walked across the hillock and followed Shade through the window, which they sealed behind them.
"We can't just do nothing," Will said, grabbing a handful of snow and tossing it off the hill.
"There's nothing we can do. If she's in the Dark…" Clarissa began but was interrupted by Gwenpool, who proclaimed loudly and emphatically.
The next second, a line of light broke the silence of the hill. The line ripped open to form a square-shaped rift, and a woman with dirty blonde hair stepped through, dressed in a ragged top and ripped jeans.
"Hey guys. You miss me?" Claire O'Neill, Will's sister said, grinning like a made woman, surrounded by a halo of energy, eyes glowing white.
"I heard you needed a lift."
Gwen grabbed Ghost and faceplanted him into the camera.
"Seriously? How obvious was that? You guys suck at writing."
Act II, Chapter 5: LifeLight
Alcheringa, the Coral Sea
May 16th, 2006
Trapped in the abyss of white, Jean was forced to watch as the Phoenix destroyed tower after tower. Every person the creature killed, Jean could feel their souls being torn from their bodies and sent only God knew where.
'There is no God watching out for you, Jean Grey. The Creator abandoned your Multiverse long ago; only the Destroyer remains.
She tried swimming, moving, through the abyss of power, but nothing she did achieved even the slightest movement. Whatever this place was, Jean didn't think it was a physical space that could be traversed.
'IT IS THE WHITE-HOT ROOM. THE RESERVOIR OF REBIRTH.'
"Just shut up!"
All Jean could do was watch.
Until he appeared.
Jean had seen photos of Harry Potter. Who hadn't? He was on the front page of magazines, always in the news and quoted on the Wizarding Wireless. She knew that chiselled face, the windswept black hair, the faded outline of the scar on his forehead, and the crystal green eyes. She'd be lying if she said she didn't have a tiny crush on him. How could she not? He was stunning.
But Jean had never met him. Not until now, when he came charging out of the river, slinging spells from his wand to catch falling debris, pull people out of hiding places and force the Phoenix back.
And fall back it did.
Banishing spells, reductor curses, advanced trapping spells and runic weaves. All of them flared from the tiny figure visible out the little window the Phoenix had left for her. Slowly, surely, he pushed the Phoenix Force back with sheer force of Will, and Jean thought for a moment that he might be able to defeat it. The Phoenix had bit off more than it could chew with Harry James Potter. He had dispelled the Nether Force, destroyed Voldemort, restored light to the lost city of the Ancients. He could do anything.
The Phoenix purred.
And Jean was, unceremoniously, spat back out.
The White-Hot Room collapsed inwards, and Jean shrieked as the world around her was restored to life. Sound, sight, smell, touch, all of it came rushing back to her. The crashing thundering echo of the city as it burned, the ash flooding her nose, the searing fires of the Phoenix as it burned her skin, and the rush of the wind as she plummeted through the sky.
The Phoenix, now silhouetted against the night as a bird of fire once more, hostless, dove towards Harry like an arrow of red power. But Harry, casting a single furtive glance towards Jean ash she fell, planted his feet wide apart and thrust his right hand forward, wand in the left.
"Adiuro te in speculo!"
He closed his hand into a fist, a symbol carved into his skin blazed with white energy… and the Phoenix collided with the air around him as it shattered like a reflective mirror. Harry strained to keep his fist closed as he used the glowing point of his wand to pull more and more of the Phoenix into the shattered air. What was that thing?
Jean, still shrieking, slammed to a halt, inches from the ground, then dropped onto soft grass. Then a hand was there, pulling her upright. Ginny Potter.
Jean totally had a crush on her too, full disclosure.
"It wants you!" Jean exclaimed, rushing the words. "It wouldn't tell me why, but it'll do anything to get…"
A sleek black jet with two propellers embedded withing the wings shot overhead, and at the same time, a man wearing black armour lined with purple and silver rushed out of the darkness towards Harry. The last of the Phoenix's power vanished into the mirror, and Harry released his fist and wand, collapsing, the armoured man just catching him.
The jet ground to a halt, hovering overhead, spotlights pointed at Harry.
"Did it work?" A speaker on the jet called out.
Everything was falling quiet, silent, the fires dying down, the screams fading away. Leaving just the whirring of the jet's engines and Jean's ragged breathing. She hadn't reverted back to her real body. She was still an adult, and still wearing the outfit the Phoenix had made for her.
"I… I think so."
The shriek of the Phoenix ripped through the burgeoning silence, and Ginny jerked away from Jean, hands flying to her head. There was an old scar on her hand, and the skin had just broken open, blood dripping everywhere.
"GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT NOT AGAIN I WON'T LET…"
Ginny vanished. Just gone. Poof. Into thin air. One second she was there, the next she wasn't.
"Ginny!" Harry screamed, then the faded outline of the glyph on his hand blazed with red light, and he too disappeared. Right out of the man in black's arms.
'Thank you, Jean Grey.'
The air beneath the jet cracked asunder, and a flaming talon shattered through the barrier to collide with the plane. One of its wings was torn free, the other propeller exploding in a shower of fire. The next second, the jet was spinning towards the ground, about to crash…
The man in black pulled something from his belt and tossed it at the Quinjet, where it collided with the nose.
"Shuri!" He bent his knees, then sprang with far more power than any man should have possessed, grabbing hold of the jet's undercarriage as it tried to stay upright. The device now attached to the plane blinked twice, then the engines roared back to life, and the man in black actually pulled the jet down to the ground, preventing a crash.
Jean couldn't bring herself to be happy. She was watching as the Phoenix crawled its way free of the glassy air. Trapped within its flames, were Harry and Ginny. It rose up into the air, gave one single cry of victory, and burst into embers, taking the two heroes with it.
Clint was having a bad day. Of course, this was not much of a marvel, as Clint had a lot of bad days. And on a scale, it wasn't that bad, as he still had two arms and two legs. Still, between waking up this morning out of cereal in his apartment, having to jump into the Central Park to catch his dog after it decided to chase a duck, and surviving a plane crash, he was not having a terrific day.
"Director Fury? Agent Romanoff? Agent Barton? Report!?"
The Quinjet was toast, burnt toast. The cockpit was crumpled, engines busted, and there was no way they were getting the ramp down.
Shaking the ringing from his ears, Clint pressed a hand to the comms.
"We're alright, Agent Gordon," Clint wheezed. "BP saved our asses."
Director Fury pulled himself upright, jaw clamped tightly shut as he started pounding against the window. Nat was unconscious on the ground in the back of the jet, but she hadn't broken any bones he'd been able to find.
"What the status on the Phoenix? It vanished from our satellite surveillance."
Five claws slammed through the glass, then ripped it free, letting fresh air flood into the Quinjet's body, and Clint breathed a sigh of relief. Ash filled relief, but still, relief.
Black Panther was standing atop the fuselage, offering a hand. Fury took it, letting the Wakandan pull him out of the craft. Once the Director was out, T'Challa caught sight of Romanoff, and Clint motioned that he was fine, so he moved to grab Clint's red-haired partner.
"Director, this is Agent Coulson. I'm with Agent Henshaw and the rest of my team. What's going on down there?!"
"We got our assess kicked," Fury hissed. Clint climbed out of the Quinjet behind T'Challa and Nat, his gaze settling on another red-head standing awkwardly a few metres away. The girl, Jean Grey. She was stunning, flawless, actually. Perfectly proportioned and skin so clear she might have been airbrushed within an inch of her life. She somehow seemed to scream 'girl-next-door', 'Hollywood sex-kitten' and 'Victoria Secret model' all at once. Clint actually forgot that she was only fifteen under all that for a moment. Then he slammed his foot into the side of the jet, and the scolding heat of the metal was more than enough to shock him back to rational thinking.
Clint rushed over to her, checking for injuries or wounds.
"Jean? Are you okay? Are you hurt?"
The girl swallowed, then nodded meekly.
"It took Harry and Ginny," she whispered, voice trembling.
"I tried to stop it. But it locked me in my own head, turned me into… this." She gestured to her body.
"Jean, are you okay?" Clint asked again, placing hands on her shoulders and giving her his best reassuring smile.
And just like that, the damn shattered. Jean burst into tears, and Clint pulled her into a hug, letting the girl weep into his uniform.
Another explosion rocked the city, but Clint kept her head down, stroking her the crying girl's head. One of the nearby skyscrapers was buckling, falling towards the ground.
"We need to get out of here," Nat said, and Clint glanced to the side to see she was awake, if leaning against Fury and T'Challa for support. "The girl needs to be moved to a safe location."
"The Triskelion?" Clint suggested, but Fury shook his head.
"No. As advanced as our magical protections have gotten, I don't think anything could stand against that thing if it comes for her again."
"The Wakandan Shield might," T'Challa started, but Fury cut him off.
"As formidable as it is, we can't be sure. There's only one place we can be certain she'll be safe. As much as I don't like it."
"Atlantis," Nat said. The Director nodded, then raised his hand to the comms unit in his ear.
"Agent Gordon, can you get Miss Brown and Miss Greengrass on the line. I need permission to enter the Potter's City. We have Miss Grey… and they need to know the Phoenix has their leaders."
Clint held Jean close as Fury and Nat deliberated in whispers over whether it was a good idea to trust the wizards. Clint couldn't bring himself to care at that moment. T'Challa removed his helmet and sat down beside him, waiting until a shimmering silver-blue portal exploded into existence a short distance away.
Kara skidded to a stop as two people in the Ancient Armour, standing beside a young woman with stringy brown hair, evacuated what looked like a day-care centre, judging by the number of children running out the building's bottom floor.
One of the skyscrapers was falling straight towards them.
"Nev!" The brown-haired girl screamed, clutching the man in the armour's arm and pointing towards the falling building. The trio looked towards the children, running towards a shimmering blue portal a short distance down the street, older kids, guiding the younger. That must go to Atlantis, Kara reasoned. She hadn't managed to get inside yet, though Skye had.
A mission for another time.
"Go with the kids!" Kara shouted to the trio before sprinting past them.
"What the fuck! Run chick!"
Kara almost snorted. Kara Zor-El didn't run anywhere.
She launched herself into the sky, hair and clothes whipping in the wind as she shot towards the falling building, shattered glass raining all around her. Weaving about the debris, everything around her seemed to slow down as she reached the building side and pressed her hands against cool metal.
This… would be the heaviest thing she'd ever lifted. That was for sure. But Kara had once carried an entire pirate ship over her head, out of a whirlpool, while it was being attacked by a Kraken. A falling building should be easy, right?
She heaved against the metal, pushing all her strength against the building side. And just as they had every time before, her strength refused to fail her. The skyscrapers fall eased to a stop, Kara screaming as she pushed her weight against the building. The glass in the air around her even froze in the air, hovering in place, though the pieces already far from the building continued to fall.
Kara… she didn't know how she could do these things. Why she was so strong, yet that strength broke the laws of physics. Why she could fly, or hear the screams of children kilometres away. She'd spent years searching for answers, helping where she could. The Warlocks in New Orleans had confirmed that she was no Witch; but nor did she carry any trace of a curse or blessing. So, what was she?
Right now, she was the saviour of these people.
That was more than enough.
She glanced to the ground, straining, muscles bulging against the strain. But she could see the last of the children rush into the portal, which snapped closed behind them. The trio remained. Or, actually, there was only two of them now. Where was the woman in the armour…
The wheezing of engines started to Kara's left, and she turned to watch the armoured figure flying through the debris towards Kara.
"Get out of here! I've got this!" Kara told her.
"The grounds clear! The woman yelled. You can let go! I'll apparate us out!"
"I'm invulnerable, I'll be fine," Kara told her. The woman, with mousey brown hair, grinned.
"Sweet. But I've still got you. Ready?"
Kara hesitated, then nodded as the metal beneath her hands started buckling.
She let go.
The building started falling again, the woman grabbed her…
And Kara was being compressed and sucked through the smallest tube imaginable, colours whirling and twisting out of control.
They snapped back into reality in a second, armour girl stepping aside as Kara puked into a house plant in front of her.
"First time?" armour girl asked with a knowing look.
"No," Kara wheezed. "My body just hates magic."
"Odd choice to be living in a magical city then."
Kara stood up, wiping her mouth on her sleeve and wincing at the clothing's rips and tears. She'd have to buy more… again.
"I'm just passing through. Was supposed to catch the hyperspace train to Tahiti in the morning."
Armour girl grinned.
"I hear it's a magical place."
She held out her hand, and Kara took it, careful not to crush her hand – armour or no armour.
"I'm Demelza," armour girl said.
"You're no druid; even they can't fly like that. And I don't think even Harry could lift an entire building. You a metahuman?"
Demelza pursed her lips.
"Maybe not, then." She shrugged, throwing an arm around Kara's shoulders at the same time her phone started ringing.
"You should come back to Atlantis with us; Lav was just on the horn, the FPA battleships have jumped in, and they're taking on refugees and wounded who haven't already been evacuated. We can get you some clothes, and you can talk to Harry and Ginny. You've got some serious skills, and they're always looking for people like that – when they aren't trying to deal with the munchkins of course."
Kara pulled her phone out, pressing it to her ear.
"Kara! Thank Rao you're okay. I saw you holding up that tower!"
"Relax Babs, I'm fine… wait you…"
"YES! I've deleted the footage from the downed Quinjet cameras, and I'm pretty sure no one saw, but Fury and his Agents have just been given clearance into Atlantis, and without either Potter – they've been nabbed by that bird thingo. If you want your secret to stay a secret, DO NOT enter the city. At least, not right now."
Kara sighed. So much for that. Metahuman… she'd have to investigate that once she was done with the Aten Mer of Tahiti – one of the oldest Mer clans. Their high-priestess had agreed to meet with Kara next week. Supposedly, the Aten Mer had one of the oldest languages on Earth. If even they didn't know where the language Kara could speak came from, the only part of her lost home she had left… That would be her last lead.
She couldn't afford to waste that.
"Kara? You still there?"
"Yeah. Yeah, I heard you. Thanks for the warning Babs. I appreciate it. And thanks for covering for me."
"Always babe. Always. I'll tell Lena, Alex and Lex that I spoke to you."
"Thanks." She hung up and placed the phone back in her pocket, sighing.
"Bad news?" Demelza asked.
Demelza nodded, then reached into her armour, and withdrew a coin? The letters DA were printed on the front. She handed the coin to Kara.
"If you ever need to get into the city, grip the coin and ask for entry. It's an emergency passkey. Should get you through the gate shield. Then ask for me, I'll vouch for you."
Kara smiled softly.
"My pleasure. You saved all those kids, that means you're a hero. And heroes are always welcome in Atlantis." She waved farewell, then disapparated.
Kara took a deep breath, then looked towards the sky. Guess she was going the long way to Tahiti. Tucking the coin in her indestructible and extended bag – another gift from the Warlocks – she launched herself into the sky and started flying towards the barrier.
*Kara and Babs' story concludes in The Lost Daughter of Krypton: An Enigmaverse Story. You can find it on our profile.
Atlantis, the North Atlantic Ocean
May 20th, 2006
3 days later…
Jean rushed into the Control Room of Atlantis just as three people stepped through the Stargate. A tall, African-American man, a white man with curly blonde hair, and a woman with long brown locks and matching caramel skin. An odd trio to be sure.
"What's happened?" The white man asked, scanning the Bridge and no doubt noticing precisely who was missing.
Jean imagined that the City of Atlantis was not usually this dour. After all, the place was absolutely stunning. But since she'd arrived, and Fury had explained to everyone that Harry and Ginny had been taken… well, the mood had never once risen above doomed. It certainly didn't help that the Black Panther and three SHIELD Agents, all of whom were not supposed to be in the city, were currently also on the Bridge.
And it was all Jean's fault.
She should have been able to control the Phoenix, do something to stop it… or… oh she didn't know.
The only saving grace had been that she'd reunited with her grandpas'. The Atlantis staff had been kind to her, helping her, checking her over, but it was clear they weren't sure what to do with her without Harry or Ginny. Daphne Greengrass, a tall, somewhat stern blonde girl, was currently in charge of the city's day-to-day running, while Lavender Brown was running point on the hunt for Harry and Ginny. Director Fury, Agent Barton and Agent Romanoff had been confined to guest-quarters one level below them and permitted to move only between the quarters and the Bridge, always accompanied by guards.
As far as Jean knew, they'd abided by the restriction. Of course, that could just mean they'd all snuck out without being detected. But counter to that, the City's UI was watching them twenty-four-seven, and they probably knew sneaking would earn them instant dumping into the surrounding ocean at best, in a cell at worst.
Jean had been helping Ginny's mother Molly care for Harry and Ginny's daughters Jessica and Lily. The girls were still recovering from Dragon-Pox, and, according to Molly, were far from their rambunctious and hyperactive selves. But Jean enjoyed the distraction, and it allowed her to assuage some of her guilt.
"Danny…" Lavender started, tears falling from her eyes once more. Jean had seen her cry several times in the past few days.
"Harry and Ginny have been taken… by the Phoenix."
A still crying Lavender led Danny, Luke and Kamala – ex-Defenders – into Ginny's private office, through a secret wall passage in the room with the glowing chair. Jean had come to realise that was 'Ginny's Chair' as whenever the witch was mentioned, everyone would look towards the chair in anguish. The office was a cosy space, with a couch in the corner, and open balcony, a small mahogany desk in the corner, and a large wooden table surrounded by wheely chairs like a conference table.
By the time Fury, Romanoff and Clint arrived, Daphne had caught the newcomers up on everything that had happened in Alcheringa, as well as Jean's identity. Clint sat down next to Jean, placing a hand on her knee under the table, for which she was secretly thankful. He was a kind man, and she felt so bad for crying on him like she had. But he'd taken her aside when they reached the city and told her all about his own dark past. About how he'd had to grow up fast too.
"It's hard. It's messy. You hate it. You don't know which way's up and which way's down. But you gotta remember. You're still you. Young, old, or hag. Magical firebird or teenager. At the end, who we are doesn't change. That's what you've got to hold on to, Jean. Remember who you are. Always."
She could do that, even in this adult body. She had to remember. She was still Jean Grey. Other Jean's had tamed the Phoenix, the creature had told her as such. That meant she could do it too. She just needed to figure out how.
"We found something in Kun Lun," Danny explained. "A way to maybe stop the Phoenix if we can find it again."
"How?" Fury demanded.
"An Iron Fist was able to hold the Force in the past, which means my powers should be able to hurt it. But what's key is this. The Aether Force can apparently temper the Phoenix's power enough that the host can properly bind it to their control."
Jean snapped to attention. Something to help her master the power? If she had an edge, a chance… she could do it. She wouldn't fail again.
"But we don't have the Aether Force," Lavender said, shaking her head.
"Why? What is this Aether Force?" Romanoff asked, forearms on the wooden table, sea-breeze from the balcony rustling gorgeous red locks that made Jean feel utterly pathetic, despite the make-over the Phoenix had done to her. Though, Jean had a feeling Natasha Romanoff made everyone feel self-conscious.
The wizards and witches all looked to one another, clearly debating whether or not to answer. Eventually, they deferred to Daphne, though Fury's face twitched as she started talking.
"The Aether Force is one of the Enigma Forces. Specifically, the force of growth and cosmic good. It's supposed to be wielded by the Sorcerer Supreme, but the Vishanti still haven't appointed a new one since Doctor Strange was killed by Voldemort."
"So we go to these Vishanti and get a new one appointed. Problem solved," Clint said, sitting back in his chair and grinning.
"It doesn't work like that," Kamala said softly.
"What do you mean?"
"The Vishanti are gods. Ascended Beings. They don't live on Earth, no one knows where they came from at all. Just that they show up from time to time and declare a new Sorcerer Supreme. You can't go looking for them."
Fury's face twitched again, and Jean scooted her wheely chair away from him slightly.
"What can we do then?" Romanoff asked, still calm and collected. The entire table sat in silence.
Until a voice called out from the Control Room.
It was Doctor Granger.
"In here Hermione!" Daphne called, and a few seconds later, Hermione appeared, a diminutive man beside her, who looked a bit like a Goblin. Though he wore wizard clothes and glasses, so maybe not.
"Sorry I'm late! Professor Flitwick just had a breakthrough…"
"What?" Fury asked, spinning on the little man. "Something about the Window? About the Phoenix?"
Flitwick – which Jean thought was a brilliant name – beamed.
"The mist that was leaking out of the opening? It was LifeLight!" The witches and wizards sucked in a collective gasp, while the humans just blinked.
"LifeLight? What the fuck is LifeLight?" Fury asked.
Hermione and Flitwick took seats at the table as Daphne and Lavender started arguing under their breaths.
Eventually, it appeared as though Lavender won, as Daphne sat back in her seat and directed a sneer towards Fury.
Then Lavender started talking, in a voice like the prophets of old, speaking ancient dooms.
"LifeLight is something we discovered on our first trip off-world…"
The End of Act II
Next time on Blessing of the Phoenix…
With Harry and Ginny taken by the Phoenix, the Atlanteans and SHIELD will have to work together to save them. They have a solution, a dangerous one, but only Jean Grey can put the plan into action and save the Potters and bring them home. But shadows grow ever longer, the Magical Cold War threatens to turn hot, what is the Phoenix's ultimate endgame, and what is the mysterious LifeLight the Atlanteans found on Dakara?