Fic #18 in my Christmas Challenge Fic-A-Thon.
Disclaimer: They all belong to either Joss and ME or Marvel Comics. Deal with it. I have.
I've had the chapter this excerpt is taken from written for months, and was originally intending it to be the second chapter of 'A S.H.I.E.L.D. Against The Darkness,' but then decided that it revealed too many upcoming plot developments.
Since it's Christmas time,though, I decided to give you a preview of how some things are going to be developing in upcoming chapters.
I think you'll enjoy these next couple of scenes, but if you don't, let me know why.
Outside the Hyperion Hotel
Los Angeles, CA
May 19, 2004
The lone black V-22C Osprey helicopter swooped down through the rain-streaked skies to hover a few feet above the rubble-strewn macadam and allow the handful of variously-costumed individuals bristling with weapons and impatiently waiting inside its cargo hold to jump out, each of them immediately assuming defensive positions as they did so, their weapons at the ready as the chopper immediately soared back up into its native environment.
"Valkyrie, Huntress, our satellite sensors are indicating there's a significant energy build-up that's apparently localized somewhere in the general area in front of you, but there's some kind of interference that's preventing us from getting any kind of visual on the area. Tell me what you two are sensing down there," General Nicholas Fury's voice echoed through their earpieces as the team evaluated their surroundings for any potential threats.
"Shit-loads of demons, all over the fucking place, boss," the lithe, curvaceous brunette wearing a red-trimmed black bodysuit and a pair of high-tech goggles grinned widely as she answered first, indicating to her unseen audience the buildings immediately in front of them and to each side with a wave of her hand. Code-named Huntress, the dark-haired beauty was casually carrying a lethal-looking, magically enhanced high-tech crossbow, in addition to the uniquely modified, red-enameled lochaber axe sheathed on her back and the two large calibre pistols holstered at her hips.
"From all the different vibes I'm getting, I'm guessing there have to be at least a hundred demons of all kinds pretty close by, either inside or behind the hotel, boss man," the blonde wearing the silver-grey and dark blue bodysuit and her own high-tech goggles chimed in a moment after her teammate had finished her report. As the woman code-named Valkyrie spoke, she ignored for the moment both the arcane black pistol holstered at her right hip and the longsword hanging at her left in favor of the recurved bow held in her left hand, and she reflexively drew a long wooden arrow from the tri-sectioned quiver slung on her back as she glanced around their surroundings, nocking it for immediate use.
"What kind of read are you getting on the situation, Arcanna?" the head spymaster inquired over the team's comm link, and the other four members of her team all took a moment to glance towards the redhead clad in the dark green and gold bodysuit, goggles and flowing, hooded golden cloak, who was holding an intricately carved six foot golden metal staff in her left hand, while a customized black MP7A1 machine pistol hung at her right hip across from the bag of spell components at her left.
"There's some sort of portal that's radiating a whole lot of power behind the hotel, boss," Arcanna replied, the glowing, white eyes behind the protective glasses half-closed as she focused on the environment around them. "Other than that, all I can say for sure is that I'm picking up a whole lot of different magical signatures – and, since I haven't seen anything like some of them before this, I'm not at all sure what a fair number of them could be, actually."
"Paladin, you got anything to add?" Fury asked, and the big man in the black and silver uniform, hooded mask and goggles, who was currently holding a massive futuristic-looking rifle that somewhat resembled an M41A pulse rifle from the 'Aliens' movie which had been pumped full of steroids, took a moment to survey the team's surroundings before responding. Like Huntress, he had two pistols holstered at his hips – the one at his left hip appearing to be a cut-down shotgun, while the one at his right more closely resembled a large customized semiautomatic – and the hilt of a knife projected from the top of each boot while the hilt of a sword was visible jutting up by his right shoulder.
"I don't know what the satellites might be showing you, boss, but there's some sort of dull glow coming from behind the hotel, though the rest of the area looks to be clear of any obvious hostiles," Paladin reported as he gave the area around them another inspection. "To quote one of my idols, 'I've got a bad feeling about this' – 'cause everything looks just a little *too* normal for my liking, if ya know what I mean. The sooner you guys can get here, the better I'll like it."
"Nightstalker, anything to add?" Fury asked the fifth member of their group, who was attired in a mottled black and grey uniform, including a hooded mask and goggles which completely hid his head and face from view, and who was also holding a rifle similar to Paladin's. A dark silver-gray axe was hanging from his belt at his right hip, opposite the lethal-looking, custom-made black pistol holstered at his left.
"Smells like there's a truckload of Fyarls and maybe a couple dozen Kinsari around, along with a Jantu or three, maybe a half-dozen Belgari, and what's gotta be at least four or five dozen vamps, boss man," Nightstalker told him after taking a deep sniff of the air around them. "And there's at least a dozen other scents I don't recognize, too, if that helps at all."
"It's gonna be at least another twelve minutes before we can get there and provide any sort of support, people," Fury warned as the team began carefully approaching the hotel, their weapons ready and their senses alert for any indication of danger. "Rogers and the rest of his group are heading down your way from Oakland in Stark's latest Quinjet prototype, but I don't think they'll be able to get there any faster than we can.
"If you can, hold off on engaging any hostiles you encounter until we get there," Fury's voice instructed his team as they warily began making their way closer to the center of the disturbance which had necessitated this trip.
"But I also don't want to find a bunch of bloodsuckers or any of their friends throwing a welcome home party for any long-lost relatives when we do show up to combat drop," the team's commander ordered, making his intentions and the team's objectives completely clear.
"Oh, and try to keep the property damage to a minimum, understood?" Fury added a moment later, his directive eliciting a brief exchange of amused glances and muffled laughs from all five agents before they managed to stifle their hilarity and acknowledge their instructions, just as the clouds above unleashed a heavy pouring rain.
As they drew closer to the hotel and entered the alleyway, the quintet caught slight of an equally small group gathered together in the narrow passage a short distance ahead of them – a dark-haired man whose coiffure wasn't being disturbed in the least by the pouring rain, a shaven-headed black man who was leaning against the hotel's back wall, clutching at his bloodstained side with one hand while his other grasped what looked like some sort of home-made axe, a blonde woman with the characteristic furrowed forehead, yellow eyes and fangs of a vampire who was fussing over the black man, and another woman, her hair and complexion tinged with streaks of royal blue, in what appeared to be a red leather catsuit, who had just finished setting an apparently unconscious, bespeckled, dark-haired man whose abdomen was swathed in bloodstained bandages, against the brick wall of the alley.
Approximately seven minutes following the above meeting
As their Quinjet transport abruptly began dropping down from its stratospheric cruising altitude to a level where it could safely drop its impatiently waiting cargo of combat personnel, Fury looked over the chaotic scene below them which his view screen was showing him with a practiced eye, evaluating the seemingly individual battles going on so as to best deploy his people.
"Aurora," he called, not taking his eyes off the battlefield below them for even an instant.
The striking brunette beauty in the black bodysuit adorned with scattered white starbursts immediately rose up out of her seat and moved to stand beside the spymaster.
"Yeah, boss?" she asked as she peered over his shoulder to evaluate the scene below them, too.
"Team Hellmouth seems to be holding their own for the moment on the ground, but I want you to give them some air support," he ordered. "Their initial reports said there appeared to be a large number of vampires among the invaders, so I want you to take out as many of those leeches as you can, without giving them any chances to reciprocate. Any questions?"
"No, sir," Aurora shook her head as she moved to stand in front of the emergency exit. "Warn the troops to make sure their goggles are on and that they're not looking out the windows, boss," she said as she stepped inside the rotating cylinder which would provide her exterior access.
"'Cause I'm gonna start off with a nova burst as soon as I'm far enough away from the 'jet to not endanger any of our people."
"Gotcha, Aurora," Fury confirmed, as he relayed her instructions to the rest of the waiting assault team on board as well as his people on the ground. A moment later, a muffled 'Wummp!' indicated that the superpowered brunette had ejected and was now making her own way to the ground to rejoin her teammates.
Fury's own protective eyegear allowed him to track the rapidly descending figure that was now rocketing towards the battleground below, and he smiled as he contemplated the welcome Aurora would be offering their remaining unwanted visitors.
A handful of seconds later, the night sky outside the Quinjet lit up as though the noon-day sun had suddenly broken through a heavily clouded sky, illuminating the ground below with a momentary brilliance that quickly faded away.