"What I'm asking is if you could arrange conventional air transport for yourself and Sam. You took a plane down here, so you must have had plans for taking one back, and none of us have the funds to afford that. Malachi and I will fly back tonight, and you two can meet up with us once your plane lands." He quickly writes out his name and phone number on a slip of paper and hands it to her before turning back to Sam.
"Once you get back to New York we'll see what we can do to solve your problems. Don't try and use your powers before then if you can help it. This might just be an adjustment as your body gets used to these things, or some sort of controllable biochemical balance problem. We'll know more once Delta V has a chance to look you over, all right?"
"I can get us there right away." They turned to look at him. "I'm not afraid any more. Only good can come out of this. I know I'm being tested and I can't let them down...or any of you."
Stern closed his eyes, concentrating on the Darkforce. Tendrils of inkiness seeped from his pores, his mouth and nostrils, even his eyes. The shift from man to winged angel took just a few seconds. There was no rolling of blackness on to his features. It was as if they had blinked or looked away and then Stern was gone and Dark Angel stood in his place.
When he spoke, his voice was different, deeper and otherworldly. "Stand close together, let the blackness envelop you." They all felt the cold, chilling grip of the Darkforce surround them and then...all was black.
And then, there is light again, as well as the sounds of cars and people and the water. The air is chillier, and the sky has just darkened. In a matter of seconds, the heroes have traveled from Birmingham back to New York. Dark Angel, remembering his dream of the other night, suggests they travel to the Empire State Building.
A few minutes later, they fly towards the observation deck. Aegis, Emerald, Delta V, and Ravdna are there, talking. Ravdna is the first to spot the four other heroes as they descend.
"Hail allies" Ravdna says as she greets the other Avengers. Sensing surface level thoughts of concern and curiosity over the death of Dumas from Union she answers Aegis' question:
"My fear is that the time to transport Dumas' essence to Vahalla may have passed. The Valkyrie are always present at the demise of their charge...by rescuing the mortal named Hammer I may have failed Dumas."
"I would not be worthy of mine eternal heritage if I did not try...if we can gain admittance to view his frail form mayhaps there is still something that can be done."
Union lands lightly on the observation deck of the Empire State seconds after Ravdna's last statement, her keen Asgardian eyes having made out the armored man and his companions from a great distance. He has taken a second to look over the situation, including the crowd of tourists and natives gathered to watch sunset over the city from this highest of aeriesall of whom are keeping a respectful distance from the grieving heroes, but still watching and talking among themselves as another costumed quartet arrives. _This place is a little more cramped when it's still open..._ Adrian thinks. _At least they're keeping their distance so far._
Janet lands gently on the roof, glad to be back in the city. Even more glad she found the time to repair her costume. Though she feels rather silly standing on top of the world, dressed like she belongs in a Mardi Gras parade, she gets the feeling she had better get used to it.
"Hail, Ravdna. I heard your name mentioned in the radio reports, but I couldn't fathom what brought you back to us from Asgard. I hope things are still well there?" Adrian is giving the valkyrie his full attention, not wanting to meet the eyes of his other allies after having seen the look of anguish obvious on Emerald and Delta V's countenances.
"As do I brave Union. Loki's mischief has seemingly melded me to the flame haired mortal Patsy Walker. I fear less for mine bretheren then now that the All-Father has returned and all is right with the Mighty Thor then for the state of the 'child' I have joined."
"Ah. I see. You can explain all of that again later..."
Union turns to the others, still not looking directly at their faces, "Aegis. Gentlemen. When we heard what happened, we got here as fast as we could. I'm sorry we couldn't have been here, but the situation in Alabama was both critical and... personal." He gestures to his two new companions, "These are DustStorm and Malachi. I know we don't have any formal rules for membership yet, but if anyone has the qualifications to be Avengers, it's they."
With a few sentences he outlines what happened in Alabamathe Wasp and his allies, the Red Skull, the missile attack, DustStorm and Dark Angel's saving of downtown Birmingham, and the fascists eventual capture or destruction. Union carefully omits certain facts, such as the identity of Wasp, the reason for his and Malachi's presence there, and oddly, the fact that he was strapped to a missile in his underwear. _There are crowds who could hear this after all. We all have secrets to protect,_ he rationalizes to himself. _There are things its better of the public doesn't know._
Duststorm makes a presumption, and the air shimmers momentarily around the entire group. Ears pop slightly as the pressure regulates. "Uncle, " She smiles a coy little smile at Union. "No one outside the group can hear us."
"How are you holding up here?" he asks, realizing that he's talked too long to keep from confronting the painful topic of Dumas' death.
Speaking for her mortal colleagues who are most assuredly thinking of their own mortality as well Ravdna answers first:
"We are troubled. Despite his arrogance the Specter was a valiant righter of wrongs. He earned his heroic death and while it may be difficult to traverse the veil to carry him on to his reward I would like to deliver him unto Asgard."
Ravdna states with examples from the earlier Asgardian raid on New York that a Valkryrie typically takes a soul at the moment of death...and that to her shame she was unable to make it to Dumas in time earlier as she was saving Hammer's life.
"It is unheard of friends but perhaps if I can make certain preparations for a rite to Hela or find a way to contact Odin again perhaps I can speak for his soul's need for a reprieve. I fear failure in either regard but we would not be heroes if we did not try. I also fear for where his spark may have traveled if not to Valhalla..."
"Do not fear what only He may divine," Dark Angel intoned. "Dumas shall earn a place in His kingdom. It is with good reason that He has chosen to call him home." Dark Angel floated above the rim of the observation deck, his pairs of wings unfolded.
"Doust thou truly believe that a man like Dumas would be happy in yon pristine pearled "kingdom"? He was a man of action and valor not piety winged one...are you even certain your God would have him at his side?"
"I for one do not wish to gamble with his soul. No, we must take action and it must happen anon!"
"Human trivialities are of no matter beyond the body. He loves us all, even the sinners if they but show true remorse. No man is beyond his own salvation." Dark Angel intoned the words absently, almost by rote. "He shall be judged in His own time. Only Dumas may help Dumas...."
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