Ravdna passes the Empire State Building to find the Avengers have moved on. Her telepathic senses expand, searching the city as she rushes on, and she eventually makes contact with Delta V, who passes on the main location. Soon, the mighty Valkyrie is in the fray, her immortal strength helping the city prepare for the oncoming deluge.
In Harlem, Malachi assumes the role of commander in chief. He quickly has several normally rival gangs organized into platoons that move from building to building, shepherding people to rooftops and upper stories. When the city workers arrive, he pitches in there as well, assisting in the creation of break-walls, sometimes physically wrestling construction material into tight places.
Out at sea, the mighty Dark Angel and the Emerald Avenger continue their battle against the inexorable advance of the wall of water. Aegis, seeing no effect from dozens of powerful energy blasts, dives into the water just as Dark Angel and Emerald throw more constructs into the wave's path. Submerged, Aegis's amplified muscles strain against thousands of tons of water. While the dauntless trio strives mightily, it seems as the wave actually gains speed, but the battle continues nonetheless. Bursting to the air again, Aegis pauses just for a moment to watch her companions.
She is amazed that someone as young as Emerald can be so resolute in the face of such a hopeless task. Even more impressive, however, is the sheer power and fury of Dark Angel. Emerald's breathing is labored. Sweat dots his face. But not Dark Angel. With each pass, huge Darkforce construct churn ups the water, and the ebon Avenger doesn't seem to tire. Sure that Emerald and Dark Angel are doing as much as can be done, Aegis turns and flies back towards the coast.
Back on shore, the main groups of Avengers as well as the lone Malachi in Harlem continue their preparations. The work proceeds at a zealous pace. Union, hovering overhead, watches the water, which he is certain is beginning to grow shallower. Then, on the horizon, there is a flash of green light. In the next instant, Aegis flies into view, hauling a smallish yacht despite the protests of the captain.
Slowly, the work stops. All that can be done has been done. The emergency crews themselves head to safer ground, and soon no one is near the coast except the Avengers and several helicopter-mounted news crews. The flashes of green grow brighter. Large dark shapes become visible. The water level drops some more.
A mile away, and Dark Angel and Emerald battle on against the wave. Aegis heads back out. After a moment's hesitation, so does Duststorm. To the combined Darkforce and telekinetic assault, Aegis renews her blasts and underwater maneuvers while Duststorm directs blasts of wind. A half mile away, the water level is no longer dropping. The wave is starting to break up on its edges, becoming shorter, not quite as high. A quarter mile. Two hundred yards. One hundred yards.
The swell is large, but now is only about half its original size. Emerald is nearly exhausted, and even Dark Angel is beginning to feel the strain. Aegis's muscles are nearing exhaustion, and Duststorm feels a migraine creeping up the back of her skull.
"Brace yourselves!" Union yells.
The wave hits, but there is little damage. Between the city's stopgap measures and Duststorm's walls, most of the force is blunted. Between Dark Angel and Emerald, with the help of Aegis and Duststorm, much of the waves energy is spent. In several places where the breakwalls do not hold, four or five feet of salt water rush through, but this water quickly spreads.
Along the coast where the wave hits, there is surprisingly little damage.
Victor listens in to the radio in his castle wishing he could have helped in some manner. But he comes to the realization that being stuck on his estate grounds and being permanently phased and unhearable, he would not have been much use.
When the reporter declares that the Avengers have stopped the wave, Victor nearly cheers out loud. Though the nearby Alfred would not have heard him if he had.
Victor renews his determination to set himself free of this existence. Again he heads down to his laboratories and searches the grounds of the estate for some clue while exercising his amazing intellect.
Dark Angel floated in mid-air, over the water's edge, head down in supplication, arms by his side. "Thank you, O Lord. Thou art merciful," he whispered wearily. "I am tired, Lord, but I did not fail you. I am forever your servant and your soldier." It took a great deal of concentration for him to not simply let go and plummet into the ocean. "I have to sleep," he said to no one.
He began to streak away, although at a fraction of his normal high speed.
"Yes!" Union exults as the wave crashes against the Manhattan shore with minimal effect. "We did it!" He suddenly realizes that he's forty feet in the air, virtually back-flipping in his excitement, as the tension and fatigue of the last hour are washed away by joy and adrenaline. Realizing that despite the shared euphoria he probably should show a little more decorum as team leader he floats back down to the ground, meeting with the deputy mayor and the head of the work crews to see what he and the rest of the Avengers can do now.
Duststorm echoes Union's exaltation, although somewhat less energetically.
Wishing for aspirin, she decides to sew some pockets into the blue costume, and certainly in the next one she makes. It doesn't take too long for her to locate a paramedic, and get some of the little pain relievers, although they don't do enough for her head.
As the crowds begin to disperse, and the cleanup begins, Janet begins the daunting task of undoing the breakers, and restoring the coastline to near its original shape.
Once things have calmed down slightly and the Avengers, tired and ragged as they are, have set themselves to reappearing what damage they can, Union approaches his teammates.
"I seriously think this calls for a celebrationSaving the city twice in a month I think deserves some sort of party. Why don't we all meet at Victor's estate later tonight. It would be nice to start associating the place with something other than funerals, and I think after today we could all use some relaxation. Why don't we say nine o'clock? We can relax and go over what's been happening."
"Good idea," Aegis agrees tiredly. "I'll bring the onion dip. See you there."
"Verily. The mansion halls shall flow with Mead on this night!" Ravdna smiles in a very large Asgardian way. Through their combined efforts the Avengers had managed to steal all of these souls from Hela's cold hands. The visage of death see saw across every man, woman, and child's face has been lifted. She could get used to this joy. She could also, despite her initial hopes to have Aegis as leader, get used to Union's command. She looks slightly skyward at the Magnetic Marvel. He has a strong soul. And though his years are greater than the others that taint of death has not yet touched him.
Duststorm nods, "That would be fine, I do have some news to share, but I think it can wait till this evening." She then sets herself back to work. _That will hopefully give me a chance to explain how I know, without letting them know Dad told me._
Assuming that everyone else is amenable, Union spreads the word to Malachi up in Harlem, gives a call to Mr. Pennington, letting him know that the team will be dropping by the mansion later this evening. Once the messages are delivered he reopens his shop and spends the rest of the afternoon in quiet relaxation, puttering on people's radios and televisions.
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© 2000 Mark L. Chance et al