Captain America: Secret War (THIRTY-SEVEN)

Dr. Frost stepped out of the HYDRA headquarters, a feeling of triumph covering her senses. She spread her arms, looking at the sky as she took a deep breath. She was about to tell the Winter Soldiers “Let’s rule the world” when suddenly the Winter Soldiers’ stances shifted in preparation for battle as they raised their guns stolen from the fallen Deputy Task Force soldiers.

Dr. Frost followed their gaze. Her eyes widened as she beheld thirteen individuals standing in a row in the near distance staring straight her way. As she recognized the people she gasped. There were The Avengers and Wakandans, former S.H.I.E.L.D agents and a woman in striking yellow. Their expressions looked like they were ready to fight. A snarl distorted her features.

“Well, it looks like my plan to wipe you out will come sooner than expected,” she said confidently, her words masked by the whistle of the wind. “Great. I like a good fight!”

King T’Challa, still red-hot with rage over his grief over Nakia’s death, charged forward at the doctor’s words, and General Okoye and Shuri followed him with a mighty yell. It was official. The fight had begun.

The rest of the heroes followed suit while The Ancient One remained still as she created the spell that placed them in the mirror dimension. This slowed the heroes’ advance as they stopped, gaping at the shardlike appearance that surrounded them. Then The Ancient One, with more movement from her hands, began to bend reality itself as she took the ground and the sky and the headquarters and it bent upside down and sideways every which way that you could imagine. The heroes found themselves in different groups facing off against one of the Winter Soldiers on raised and lowered platforms crafted from the snow-covered rock that made up the Russian tundra.

Steve Rogers, Colonel Rhodes, and Sharon Carter were facing one Winter Soldier who was clearly outmatched.

Nick Fury and Agent Hill were taking on another Winter Soldier. Their skill sets were closer to their opponents but it didn’t matter. They had faced many tough opponents before, making this duel against The Winter Soldier a walk in the park.

Wanda and Vision were easily handling the Winter Soldier they had been forced to fight.

Sam Wilson and Natasha Romanoff were fighting one of the Winter Soldiers with relative ease.

And T’Challa, General Okoye, and Princess Shuri were taking on their opponent with angered ferocity. In short, that Winter Soldier had no chance.

The Ancient One stood in a ravine created between the cliffs where her newfound friends were locked in their personal duels. Dr. Frost stood at the other end of the ravine, her eyes filled with fear.

“Your reign of terror ends here, Sarkras the Mindful,” The Ancient One said.

Dr. Frost’s face morphed as Sarkras the Mindful’s horrifying features melded with hers.

“You can never defeat me!” he yelled through the doctor’s voice, causing their voices to form a sound that would haunt the dreams of most.

“Face it, Sarkras. Your path of destruction has reached its end. Earth has defenders you cannot defeat.”

“We’ll see about that,” he replied.

With a terrifying yell augmented by his and Dr. Frost’s combined voices, he charged forward, floating through the air. The Ancient One stood still, waiting for his attack. Ten-foot long translucent wraith-like arms appeared from Dr. Frost’s back, raising high with enlarged hands that tried to smash The Ancient One but to no avail. She created her classic weapons of choice, the disks of power that she held in her hands like blades, and cut the arms with a whirl as they came within her reach.

Sarkras screamed in rage, lashing out with a translucent foot at her. She ducked the attack before whirling and throwing the disk at him. It cut the leg, sending him sprawling in pain to the snow.

The Ancient One turned, the one amber disk sparking and filled with symbols, in her left hand.

“Your power is clearly outmatched Sarkras,” The Ancient One said as she slowly walked forward. “You have done much harm to innocents around the galaxy. And now you threaten this world. By yourself, I would end your reign of terror at this very moment but you inhabit the body of one who does not deserve to die. So I’m giving you this one chance. Leave her now and you will be spared.”

Sarkras bared his needle-like fangs. “I will never bend to your will!”

Dr. Frost suddenly screamed as she was lifted from the ground, her arms spreading to either side as great darkness poured from within her and enveloped her.

Sharon turned when she heard her sister’s scream. When she saw what was happening she cried out, “Olivia!”

The darkness coalesced into a giant twenty-foot-tall creature whose body made from dark matter dripped onto the snow, corrupting everything the drips touched.

The Ancient One’s eyes widened as she beheld Sarkras’s true form.

“I am more powerful than you will ever be!” the creature bellowed.

He unleashed a wave of darkness that The Ancient One managed to shield herself from. The heroes atop the raised rock platforms were not so lucky. The power sent a ripple through the rock platforms that left the heroes struggling not to be shaken from the cliffs.

Natasha, however, lost her footing and ended up slipping and falling. She screamed, her hands grasping for a handhold but instead they only caught air. Sam, who was still preoccupied fighting the Winter Soldier, heard her scream. He kicked The Winter Soldier away and hurriedly dove after Natasha who was plummeting to the snow-covered rock below.

Sam managed to catch her just in time but as he turned to fly back toward the cliffs another wave of darkness, partially blocked by The Ancient One’s shield, hit Sam.

“Sam! Sam!” Natasha yelled as he plummeted to the ground with her still in his arms.

She tried to turn in the air to soften the blow but it still knocked the breath from her as they collided into the snow. She patted Sam’s sleeping face.

“Sam! Sam!”

Her gaze turned to her left where The Ancient One was having trouble fending off the enraged Sarkras the Mindful.

“You cannot destroy me!” Sarkras said. “I am more powerful than anything you have ever faced!”

The Ancient One raised another shield to block Sarkras’s power. And then she stopped. She had had enough.

“You think you are the most powerful being in the universe,” The Ancient One said. “You are mistaken.”

With an intense expression of concentration upon her face she began to conjure the most powerful spells, she could muster. Circular disks of power appeared out of the air, cutting at the being’s dripping form with relentless efficiency. Sarkras bellowed, reaching for her with its elongating arm. She then raised her hands and like a hot spring, a torrent of amber power rose from the ground, engulfing Sarkras in a stream of destruction.

Sarkras roared in pained anger as his body was torn apart into shreds of darkness.

“Noooooo!” he screamed for the last time before he was no more.

The Ancient One stopped the spell as the doctor, released from the Sarkras’s power, fell to the snow.

The Ancient One bent reality back to normal and closed the mirror dimension. The raised cliffs melted back into the rolling tundra and as the heroes looked around the presence of evil was eradicated.

“Where are the Winter Soldiers?” Nick Fury asked.

“They are in a different dimension,” The Ancient One said, her yellow robe billowing about her. “Destined to roam endlessly through a world they cannot escape.”

Steve Rogers noticed Sam’s unmoving body and ran forward while Sharon ran to her sister who was lying in the snow. Natasha was still trying to shake Sam awake as Steve reached her.

“Is he okay?” Steve Rogers asked.

Natasha shook her head. “I-I…I don’t know.”

Steve Rogers knelt by his side. Natasha sighed.

“Damnit,” she said.

She then began performing CPR on Sam, pumping his chest and breathing into his mouth to bring him back to life. She did this three times before Sam finally came to with a gasp full of life. Natasha cried out with relief. Steve Rogers grinned. Sam’s eyes opened.

“Oh man, what happened?” he asked groggily. He looked over at Natasha. “Wait a minute. CPR?”

She nodded. “Unfortunately.”

He grinned. “Told you one day you’d have to save my life that way.”

She smiled. “Don’t make it a habit.”

Meanwhile, Sharon was by her sister’s side, tears streaming down her face.

“Olivia,” she wept. “Oh please, Olivia. Don’t leave me like this.”

The Ancient One approached, kneeling alongside Sharon Carter.

“Sarkras latched himself onto her soul,” The Ancient One told her. “When he died he took some of her with him. It will take time but she will recover.”

Sharon nodded, stroking her little sister’s hair. Everyone gathered ’round as The Ancient One stood.

“The threat has been abated,” The Ancient One began. “The world has been saved.”

She opened several portals that each led to different places in the world; a park in Washington D.C., a room in the Deputy Task Force headquarters, New York City, Wakanda, and what appeared to be the lawn in front of the Carter Estate.

“And now we must part ways,” The Ancient One began. “You cannot tell anyone what has happened here today otherwise hidden dangers around us waiting for a chance to inflict harm will arise.”

The warning was heard and acknowledged by everyone.

Nick Fury and Agent Hill stepped forward.

“Thank you for everything,” Nick Fury said. “Is there any chance I can call you if we ever need you again?”

The Ancient One smiled. “If the world needs me I will always be there.”

Agent Hill smiled at that response. Together she and Nick Fury shook The Ancient One’s hands before stepping through the portal that took them to Washington D.C.

Sharon picked her sister up before looking at The Ancient One. “Thank you for saving my sister. When she ran away from home all those years ago I decided to never care about her again. To let her have her own life and to forget that she even existed.” Her head fell as tears dropped from her eyes. “I’ve now learned how wrong that was and I am determined to show my sister the love she should’ve had a long time ago.”

The Ancient One smiled.

Sharon nodded a farewell before looking over at Steve Rogers who had watched the exchange, giving him a smile before walking through the portal that led her to the Carter Estate.

T’Challa, whose helmet had retracted, looked at The Ancient One. “When I step through that portal will Nakia be alive?”

The Ancient One nodded. “Yes. She is as she was a few days ago.”

T’Challa’s eyes glistened with tears and relief. He clasped the bald woman’s hands. “Thank you.”

The wise woman placed a hand on his face. “You are a powerful and benevolent king, T’Challa. Wakanda is wise to have you as their leader.”

T’Challa smiled, dipping his head in appreciation for her kind words. He then turned to his sister and the Wakandan general.

Let’s go home, he spoke to them in ixiXhosa.

With that, they stepped through their portal back to their world.

Colonel Rhodes saluted The Ancient One. “Thanks, Ancient One. I don’t know what we could’ve done without you.”

The Ancient One nodded in response, a smile resting on her lips.

Colonel Rhodes then turned his attention to Steve Rogers, Natasha Romanoff, and Sam Wilson. “It’s been nice being with you all again as a team. I’ve…missed this.”

Steve nodded grimly. “I’ve missed this too, Colonel.”

“You know, things are going to have to go back to the way they were before,” Rhodes told them.

“I wasn’t expect anything else,” Steve said.

Rhodes shook his hand. “See you around, Steve.”

With that, he walked into the portal. Steve turned to The Ancient One.

“So what about you,” he asked her. “What do you do from here?”

She smiled. “It seems I will have a new pupil to train very soon. A man seeking healing after great tragedy. One day, you may meet him.”

“I hope so,” he replied. He stuck his hand out. “Until we meet again.”

“Stay safe, Steve Rogers,” she told him as she shook his hand.

Natasha Romanoff and Sam Wilson also offered their goodbyes before heading to the portal.

“Be careful, my friends,” The Ancient One warned them. “It seems a few HYDRA terrorists are ready to cause some trouble in New York City.”

Steve and Sam laughed. “Oh, this should be easy.”

With that, they walked through the portal. The only ones left was Wanda Maximoff and Vision who were standing still, lost in each other’s eyes as they held hands.  Vision placed his hand on Wanda’s face.

“Like I told you that night, I will find a way to see you,” Vision told Wanda quietly. “I promise.”

Wanda nodded. “I know.” She stroked his cheek. “I don’t want to go.”

Vision smiled sadly. “Neither do I.”

They hugged tightly for about thirty seconds before finally releasing the embrace. Vision turned, walking toward the portal that would take him thousands of miles from the woman he loved. He looked back at her.

“Take care of yourself, Wanda,” he said before stepping through the portal.

Wanda had to hold back the tears that were threatening to seep from her eyes and down her cheeks. Sighing she turned to The Ancient One.

“You can see the future, can’t you?” Wanda asked.

The Ancient One nodded. “I can.”

“What happens between me and Vision?”

The Ancient One smiled. “You will have many beautiful times together.”

Wanda nodded, a hint of a smile touching her lips, before stepping through the portal to join her friends in New York City. As she disappeared The Ancient One’s expression became grim, for she had not told Wanda the full truth about her future with Vision and the truth was very saddening indeed.

With a sigh, she made her own portal. One that would take her back to Kathmandu. She couldn’t wait to tell Mordo about her latest adventure.

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