Hawkeye, Mother Nature and Black Widow walked behind Captain America as they walked towards one of the few Quinjets that survived Hulk's rampage. As they entered it, a technician stood and said words that forced a chuckle out of Mother Nature's mouth.
"You guys aren't authorised to be in here."
"Son, just don't." Cap warned, as Mother Nature stepped forward and ushered him out. Even if someone thought they could argue with Captain America, there was no arguing with a founder of SHIELD. A fact Alex often used to her advantage against the higher-ups.
The Hawk quickly situated himself in the pilot seat, with Widow as his co-pilot while Cap and Mother Nature paced around in the back.
They took off after safety checks, following behind Iron Man as he zoomed towards Manhattan faster than they could. Tony would try and stop the portal from being opened, and if he couldn't, then he'd hold of the Chitauri until the rest of the team arrived as back-up.
Alex spent the brief journey to Manhattan letting ivy grow over her palm, watching the little green vines twisting around her fingers. Even after thousands of years, it still fascinated her how she was able to both create life with earth and destroy it with fire. She was a contradiction, but the Olympian didn't really find it in her to care.
"He couldn't stop the Cube. The portal is open." Natasha breathed, as she looked up at the blue beam that tore a hole into the sky, and let aliens that would stop at nothing to destroy anything in sight.
"Well that's not good." Alex said.
"Stark, we're on your three, headed northeast." Natasha informed him, as Clint continue to fly towards the city.
"What? Did you stop for drive-through?" Stark snapped back at her, heard by all through their ear pieces.
"Drive-through is the post save-the-world plan." Alex retorted, knowing that Clint always got the 'munchies' post-mission after the adrenaline crashed and the weariness kicked in.
"Swing up Park. I'm going to lay them out for you." Tony instructed. Clint did so, and Natasha readied the jet's gun, and began firing at the aliens that were on Iron Man's tail.
Clint pulled the Quinjet up to Stark Tower, and spotted Loki and Thor battling it out on Stark's balcony.
"I see him." She informed him, and started firing at the god wearing the silliest war helm that Alex had ever seen, but Loki fired back, and hit one of the wings, sending the Quinjet on a spiral down. Clint swerved buildings and people as he tried to find a relatively empty spot to do an emergency landing. The jet landed with a thud, and skidded forward a couple of yards before stopping, and everyone quickly bailed out.
"We got to get back up there." Cap said, and they all began running back towards Stark Tower.
"I should offer Stark some assistance. He's outnumbered and I'm the only one who can fly." Alex asked, as she jogged beside her archer. Her archer. That thought would have brought a smile to her face had they not been all but marching into a war that they possibly could not win.
"Go. We'll meet up later." Steve ordered, not looking back at her.
She nodded, though he couldn't see her, and launched herself onto the bonnet of an abandoned car, using it as a place to kick-off from, before she went zooming up into the air.
"Stark? What's your location? I have an itch that only killing a few murderous aliens will scratch." Alex questioned, speaking into her ear piece, her eyes scanning all over for any sign of the man in the red and gold titanium alloy suit. Iron Man was a cute moniker, but scientifically inaccurate.
Alex twisted her entire body around, still flying forwards, and Iron Man was directly behind her with a dozen of their enemy on his tail.
"I'm going to nose dive, you keep them on you, and I will pick them off from behind you." Alex informed him, before she suddenly started zooming head first towards the ground. The aliens would think she was a lost cause, and carry on going after Stark, and then she'd loop up and burn them.
She stopped with her face a metre away from the ground. Alex breath quickened. She hadn't quite factored in her speed into her calculations, and was a lot closer to the ground than she had intended. She shook her head slightly, before shooting back up to go help Stark.
Alex made sure she was at the back of the pack, and formed a fire ball in her hand, making it grow until it was the size of a large beach ball.
"Surf's up!" She muttered to herself, before smacking it forward with her palm and taking out all of Tony's flying stalkers.
"Stark, Cosmos, are you seeing this?" Steve's voice questioned. Alex glanced forward, trying to find what Cap could see. It only took her a sec.
"Seeing. Still working on believing," Tony said, and Alex found herself agreeing. What the hell was that? A giant flying alien centipede? Never in her life had she seen something like it, and she had seen chimera and real hydras and giants. The creature before her was armored, whether it was born that way or designed that way by its creator, she didn't know. "Where's Banner? Has he shown up yet?"
"Banner?" Steve's voice questioned, confused on why Stark believed Banner would show up to an active war zone anyway. Bruce was trying to avoid conflicts that would unleash the Hulk, and this certainly would do that.
"Just keep me posted."
Alex turned her head and noticed a swarm of the aliens starting to flank her. She pressed her comms link down and a smile came onto her face.
"Nat, Clint, I'm bringing some friends to meet you. See you in two," Alex waved at the Chitauri soldiers and then veered sharply towards the ground, but this time slowed her descent and stopped herself next to Clint. The Chitauri followed her and landed in front of the trio, using scepters as weapons not unlike Loki, but they seemed to be more like guns, like the weapons Hydra had used during the war.
"Don't ever say to me that I don't introduce you to new people." She teased, flicking her fingers up towards the sky and watching colossal vines shot up through the concrete from the earth below. Alex smirked as the creepers wrapped around Loki's soldiers and crushed them, dragging their bodies back below the surface.
Natasha caught the look on her friend's face and smiled slightly.
Alex had been thinking of leaving this life. She wanted to spend more time with her family, who she often thought she neglected in order to work. She didn't want to constantly fight for her life, but Natasha knew that there was no leaving the fight for Alex. It was all she had ever known. Even when raising a family of her own and working in the SHIELD labs, she hadn't been able to escape her need for this world. It was never more clear than now, with a satisfied grin on her face as the plants she conjured so easily with her Olympian powers killed the enemy.
"Not the kind of people we want to meet." Clint said, firing one of his special arrows. Alex loved Clint's arrows, especially the ones that shoot bullets to take out the surrounding bad guys. She often found herself having a hand in the design of new trick arrows for her partner, just to see if she could.
Alex threw a fire ball into the dwindling mass of extraterrestrials, and expanded it until it engulfed all of them.
"Nice work, Hothead." Stark praised Alex, to which she grinned.
"You are not the only one with a few tricks up your armor," Alex retorted, as she found a broken piece of a metal railing on the floor. Alex picked it up and set fire to it, making it look like a flaming sword. "Oh I remember the days when the only weapon humans had to fight with was a sword. Those were much simpler times."
A Chitauri charged towards her and she flipped the fiery pole over in her hand. She pulled the pole back behind her head as though she were wielding a baseball bat, and waited until her enemy got close enough before she put all her strength and weight behind the swing.
Alex shielded her eyes from the sun as she watched the Chitauri's head soar and land with a thud about seventy yards away from her.
Moving backwards, Alex stood between Clint and Natasha as they fired both bullets, fire balls and arrows towards oncoming aliens, using an abandoned taxi cab to shield them from enemy friendly.
"Just like Budapest all over again." Natasha remarked, and Alex thought back to the legendary mission. The kids at the Academy traded stories about the Strike Team Delta mission in Budapest, all guessing what went down, but none of them knowing because it was highly classified. Yet, still nothing like what was happening now.
"You and I remember Budapest very differently." Clint retorted, firing another arrow, nailing his target.
"I'm starting to think that you weren't even on the same mission as us!" Alex added, before flipping herself over their cover and charging towards the alien mass, slowly setting herself on fire. She didn't feel any pain and her armor and cape were fire resistant, so nothing, but anyone stupid enough to touch her, got burned.
Alex slid through the legs of one alien, then she kick upwards at another, hitting it in the stomach and setting it alight. She flipped herself up, and jumped onto the back of another Chitauri, opening its mouth and shoving a fireball down its throat. Alex back-flipped off of it, and kicked it towards two more. She counted to three, before she expanded the fireball inside the original alien and burned all three.
That's when Captain America showed up again. Alex helped Steve and then Thor take down the last of the enemy that surrounded them, before she aided Clint in a search for his arrows.
"What's the story upstairs?" Steve asked Thor, as the two men approached each other.
"The power surrounding the Cube is impenetrable." Thor answered, making the Olympian sigh.
Nothing could just be easy, could it?
"Thor's right. We got to deal with these guys." Tony said, his voice coming through their ear pieces. Alex handed Clint three arrows that she thought were reusable, and he nodded his thanks. They couldn't do the whole 'romance' thing right now. Not that they would anyway. They weren't those kind of people to do big displays of affection in public.
"How do we do this?" Natasha questioned, looking at Steve for an answer. He was the 'Captain' after all.
"As a team." He replied.
"I have unfinished business with Loki." Thor stated his intentions and Alex understood. Loki was his brother, even if he had betrayed him and his family and their people. The fallen prince was Thor's to deal with, but Clint disagree with that, however.
"Yeah? Well, get in line." Clint said, inspecting one of his arrows he'd just found, running his finger along the edge gently to see if it were still sharp enough to pierce through the Chitauri's skin.
"Save it. Loki's going to keep this fight focused on us, and that's what we need. Without him, these things could run wild," Steve said, in total 'commanding officer' mode. "We've got Stark up top. He's gonna need us to..."
Steve trailed off as the sound of a wheezing motorbike engine got closer. Alex walked past Steve, a grin on her face as she waited patiently for Bruce to get off the bike. The other four followed her lead, and met Bruce halfway.
"So, this all seems horrible." Bruce said.
"I've seen worse." Natasha says, looking directly at Bruce, who looked a little sheepish. Natasha had told Alex about her run in with the Hulk, and knew the effect it would have had on her, but also knew that Natasha felt a bond with Banner.
It was undefined, because they barely knew each other, but the seed of it was there. Bruce considered himself a monster, or at least his alter ego, and Natasha believed herself to be the same. All the lives the Russian assassin had taken, the terrible deeds she had performed, had her believing that redemption was beyond her reach and that she was just as monstrous as the green giant who had no control over his rage.
Alex had spent years convincing her partner and friend that everyone was worthy of redemption if they really wanted to change for the better, but Natasha only listened to what she wanted to hear.
"Sorry." He replied, wincing slightly as he remembered that the Hulk had tossed the tiny assassin into a wall.
"No, we could use a little worse." Alex smirked at Natasha, who was smiling slightly towards Bruce as they almost gaze at each other.
"Stark, we got him. Our brother of science has finally graced us with his presence." Alex informs him, a grin on her face.
"Just like you said." Steve informed the billionaire.
"Then tell him to suit up. I'm bringing the party to you." Tony said, and a sense of dread filled Alex. She had a bad feeling that Tony Stark had a different opinion to her as to what a party was.
They watched as Iron Man came veering round a building towards them, with one of the giant flying alien centipedes on his tail. Part of it came crashing through a building, and Alex winced, hoping it had been empty. Most of the buildings were, but sometimes fear makes people do stupid things like hide under desks and not move from under them until the whole room was destroyed and they were dead.
"I don't see how that's a party." Natasha said, shaking her head at the same time as they all stared at the creature approaching them.
Bruce moved towards the giant flying alien centipede, shooting a look towards Natasha.
"Dr Banner," Steve said, stopping him. "Now might be a really good time for you to get angry."
"That's my secret, Captain," Bruce said, turning to look at them all, before he changed into the Hulk. "I'm always angry."
Alex watched with scientific curiosity and pure, simple wonder as Bruce transformed into the Hulk. His shirt shredded, and so did his shoes, but his pants seemed to stay intact. They had probably been too big for Bruce to start off with or perhaps they were made of a highly elasticated material that gave enough give to stretch with the Hulk's larger body.
Hulk punched the giant flying alien centipede right on the head, forcing it down, but, just like the Titanic in 1912, its back end lifted.
"Hold on!" Tony said, as he fired one of his rockets into the now exposed soft tissue of the creature. Steve pulled Natasha under his body and used his shield, Alex surrounded both herself and Clint in a sphere of concrete which worked as a shield to protect them from the falling bits of rubble and dead alien centipede, turning it into a fine dust once the danger had passed.
Once the alien had fallen, the seven Avengers stood in a circle, backs to each other, facing the enemy as a united front.
Until Natasha noticed more of the Chitauri army flying out of the portal.
"Guys." She said, to draw their attention. They all looked up, and waited for their orders from Cap.
"Call it, Cap." Tony encouraged. Steve took a couple of steps forward, before turning to them and giving them their orders.
"Alright, listen up. Until we can close that portal, our priority is containment. Barton, I want you on that roof. Eyes on everything. Call out patterns and strays. Stark, you got the perimeter. Anything gets more than three blocks out, you turn it back or you turn it to ash."
"Can you give me a lift?" Clint asked Tony, his eyes on Alex, as she gave him a meaningful look, basically telling him he'd better not die.
"Right. Better clench up, Legolas."
With that last sarcastic comment, Tony grabbed Clint by his quiver and shot up into the sky, dropping Clint off on the roof that Steve had pointed out to him.
"Thor, you got to try and bottleneck that portal. Slow them down. You got the lightning. Light the bastards up. Alex, Natasha, we stay on the ground. We keep the fighting here. And Hulk..." Steve ordered. When Hulk's name was mentioned, he turned and looked at Steve expectantly. Alex was once again amazed by how animalistic, yet human, Hulk acted. Steve pointed upwards, before he spoke. "Smash."
Hulk grinned, before jumping high, grabbing the Chitauri soldiers off the side of a skyscraper and flinging them around like rag dolls.
Alex grinned at his enthusiasm, but her smile fell when she noticed a whole squadron of Chitauri heading in their direction. Alex and Natasha exchanged a look, and Natasha nodded.
"Captain, would you like to see a party trick of mine?" Alex asked, stepping towards a piece of the armor that had fallen from the giant flying centipede after Stark blew it up.
"Is it something that will help to get rid of that?" He questioned, gesturing towards the approaching foot soldiers.
"Wait and watch, Boss, wait and watch." Alex said, mimicking her words from earlier that day to Fury.
Alex used the air to levitate the long piece of armor, before she stepped back from it, walking towards Steve and Natasha. Steve watched her with confusion on his face. Alex grinned, before she turned and ran towards it, jumping up on it and creating a wind to push her along.
"Is she surfing? That's what it's called, right?" Steve questioned Natasha, who nodded with a smile on her face.
Alex was over the squadron in a matter of seconds, and she pressed down on her comms link, making sure it was connected to Steve's.
"Captain, my Captain, are you still watching?" She questioned.
"Yes. What are you doing?"
"Wait and watch." Alex repeated, as she created a wave of fire behind the Chitauri, with herself on top of it.
Alex whistled, which got the aliens' attention, and then with the help of a gust of wind, she rode the fiery wave back towards Steve and Natasha, who were fighting a few of the aliens who had come at them from the other side, taking out the whole squadron as she did. She put the fire out, and skidded the extra yard back to her original position by Steve's side.
"That was an impressive party trick." Steve commented, as Alex stood, holding the armor up vertically, like a surfer would do with his or her board at the beach, before she dropped it, set aflame her hand and shot a ball of fire at an alien creeping up behind Natasha.
"It's something I've been practicing," Alex grinned, before she noticed a group of aliens heading towards them. And then she saw some of the aliens on the gliders flying overhead and Alex found herself silently communicating with Natasha again. Natasha followed Alex's gaze and seemed to understand where her thoughts had gone and nodded at her. "Cap, can you handle these guys? Natasha and I can make our way to the portal."
"You sure about this?" Cap questioned, as the two women moved closer together. Alex would fly and drop Natasha onto one of the speeders. She couldn't carry her the entire time, otherwise she'd be defenseless. She needed at least one hand to motion where the fire/air/water/earth had to go to.
"Yeah, it's gonna be fun." Natasha replied, just before Alex pushed off the ground and the pair sped upwards into the air.
Alex flew after a couple of the alien speeders, and when she was close enough to the last one, she swung her partner forward and let her go. She made sure that Natasha had landed on the speeder before she flew forward and shot the aliens flying in front of her. She was creating a clear path for Widow, and occasionally helping Iron Man out of a jam.
The Avengers were working together, sometimes pairing off to help each other out, but they were slowly becoming what Coulson had dreamed of and believed in...a team.
"Hawkeye! Mother Nature!" Natasha drew her partners' attention via the communications link. Barton stopped taking out the flying Chitauri soldiers and turned to see what Natasha needed. Alex flew around a building, trying to do the same.
"Nat, what are you doing?"
"Uh, a little help?" Widow requested, as both her partners witnessed Loki in pursuit of her and firing at her.
Alex was fully prepared to take Loki out, but Clint beat her to it.
"I got him."
And Alex watched as an arrow whizzed past Natasha, and careened towards Loki...but the trickster caught it in his hand. Alex could almost see the sardonic look on his face as he looked back at Barton. Loki thought he had the archer beat, but that was until the arrow exploded and sent the god in a literal shame spiral back towards Stark Tower.
The explosion allowed Natasha to launch herself off of her speeder and onto the roof of Stark's hideous tower (in her opinion). The Black Widow fell into a forward roll to break her fall and skidded to a stop. Alex knew that her friend would have no trouble with handling the situation on the rooftop, so decided to go after Loki.
Yet...something big, green and angry beat her to the punch quite literally. When Alex landed inside Stark Tower, the Hulk was tossing the evil demi-god around like a tiny rag doll, smashing him repeatedly into the solid marble floor of Stark's living room.
Alex just leaned against a wall, and waited for the Hulk to finish with his new plaything. She could barely contain her laughter when Hulk finally dropped Loki in a Loki-shaped crater, and the demi-god let out a tiny kitten-like mewl of pain.
"Puny god." Hulk said, as he walked towards his team mate.
"You did well, Hulk. Go smash something else, preferably the aliens outside. I'll handle things in here, my friend." Alex said, patting his arm as she walked past him towards the very pathetic looking Loki, who she suspected wouldn't be able to move for a while yet.
She stood above him, and smirked down at him, before she sat down next to the crater where he was still laying as still as the stone beneath him. He had taken a real beating from the Hulk and his brother and even Stark. And from the look in his eyes, he fully expected another one.
"You will not be harmed by me, I assure you. I don't attack people who have already lost. I doubt I would even have to, because we will win this war, and you will lose and whoever it is that put you on this path will want your head for themselves. Because there must be some higher power behind this. You didn't get this army by charm and charisma alone," Alex moved her face a little closer to Loki's, and grinned manically. "A fallen bastard prince who has nothing to offer but a thirst and desire to seek revenge must have been easily manipulated by someone far more clever than the silver-tongued son of Laufey the Frost Giant could ever hope to be."
She recognized the flash of fear in his eyes all too well. Loki knew that if he lost this battle, lost the war to enslave the people of Midgard, he mostly likely die a rather painful death.
And she pitied him.
Despite what he did to Clint, which infuriated her to the core, and despite what he was doing to her world, she pitied him because she knew what it felt like to be controlled by a higher power that she was afraid of. Alex and Zeus haven't been on speaking terms since 1906, when she fell in love for the second time.
But that story was for another time.
"You are from another realm, and Midgard's jurisdictions end here. Thor will take you back to Asgard where you will be punished for your crimes against this world and its people. That should be protection enough from whomever you fear," Alex said, straightening up. She looked out at the destruction outside, but noticed something that could be useful. She stared at it a moment before deciding to risk leaving Loki alone to collect it. "This goes without saying, but you are going to stay here, and if you try to run, which I don't think you can with the amount of injuries you've sustained, there is no place in this world or any other where I could not find you."
"You called it Midgard and not Earth. You are not from this world either, are you?" Loki croaked, still not moving from his crater.
"No, I'm not, but I have lived here for thousands of years, and this world is my home now. And it is my duty to protect it from all its enemies." She replied as she walked towards Stark's balcony.
"And who gave you this duty?"
"My father. You might have heard of him in Asgard as a boy. His name is Zeus, the Father of Gods and Men, the King of Olympia. You have effectively declared war on three realms, Loki Silver-tongued. Congratulations, you must have made your mother so proud." Alex smirked back at him, before heading outside.
She rushed over to Loki's scepter, and looked up at the blue beam of light that was creating the portal.
"I was just about to come down and get that." Natasha said into her communications link, causing a smile to break out on the demi-goddess' face.
"Well, I'll bring it to you," Alex grinned, before flying upwards and then lowering herself down onto the roof. She handed Natasha the sceptre, and scrutinized Dr. Selvig to see if he was a threat anymore. Natasha shook her head, knowing where her partner's thoughts were and dismissing them quickly. "I take it you've got this under control, because I'm sure my assistance is needed elsewhere."
"We've got this." Natasha replied, moving towards the place that Dr. Selvig pointed her to.
"Right at the crown." He said, and Alex watched as Natasha moved into position.
"I can close it. Can anybody copy? I can close the portal down." Natasha said, and Alex felt a huge surge of hope in her heart. She had lied to Loki. She hadn't been sure that they could win, but now...now, she was sure.
"Do it!" Captain ordered.
"No, wait." Stark's voice came out a little breathless through the comms link.
"Stark, these things are still coming." Cap protested, but Tony quickly said something to dissuade further objections.
"I got a nuke coming in. It's gonna blow in less than a minute. And I know just where to put it." Stark said, and the hope that had filled Alex was replaced with dread. She knew that the journey Stark was willing to take was a one-way trip...one she couldn't allow him to make.
Zeus had created her to protect Midgard and all intelligent life upon it. Tony Stark was as intelligent as they come. Alex couldn't allow him to sacrifice himself. She launched herself off the building and streamlined the air around her so she would fly faster than she ever had before.
Alex reached Tony just as he started to fly up towards the portal.
"What are you doing, Cosmos?" Stark grunted at her, obviously feeling the weight of the nuclear warhead on his back.
"The job I was created for," Alex replied, grabbing hold of the warhead, and then manipulating the air to freeze Stark in place. She gritted her teeth as she forced herself upwards, leaving an angry Iron Man behind her. "To save Midgard and its people."
"Cosmos, I was going to do that! I needed to do that!" Tony yelled down the comms at her.
"You didn't need to prove anything to him, Stark. You already did. You were going to sacrifice yourself to save the Manhattan and the world, but I can't let you do that. The world needs Tony Stark, it needs your clean energy project and your inventions and your genius," Alex said, as she got closer to the wormhole. "It doesn't need a two thousand year old demi-goddess who almost failed her mission, let her partner get brainwashed and let an Asgardian prince kill well over 80 people within three or four days. Besides, I made a promise to a dear friend of mine and I intend to keep it."
"Alex, wha-" Alex heard Clint start to say, but then she flew through the portal into the vast, cold nothing-ness of space.
She had calculated that her super-human body could withstand precisely four minutes on this side of the portal, and she was correct. Her body was quickly shutting down, and using the last of her strength, she sent the nuclear warhead on the path to the giant Chitauri spaceship.
Alex watched as the nuclear exploded, destroying the ship and sending a wave of nuclear radiation towards the rest of the army on that side of the portal, and then she gasped a breath, and her world went black.
Her body fell slowly through the portal, just before it closed, and then began its free-fall back towards the ground.