“You said ‘we,’” said Sue. “Does that mean you’re coming with us this time?”
“Given that the five of you completely failed to retrieve the dagger and allowed it to fall into the hands of an enemy,” said Doom, “it seems incumbent upon me to take matters into my own hands. I will bring the rest of you with me for tactical purposes, but every single move you make shall be according to my instructions. Have I been clear?”
Ignoring the question, Jim asked “What about Longshot? We need all the luck we can get for this.”
“He is a redundancy at this point,” said Doom. “I have stored an enormous amount of his probability magic in a crystal. Longshot no longer has anything to offer me.”
“Well,” said Jen, “what if something happens to the crystal? It’s always wise to cover your bases. You should bring Prince Charming as insurance, so you don’t lose your luck magic.”
“…Very well,” said Doom. He chanted a spell, and Longshot appeared once again. “The seven of us will depart for Mount Wundagore immediately, reclaim the dagger, and destroy the Darkholders’ base.”
“Does it need to be immediately?” asked Sue. “Seems to me that we should draft a plan of attack before we head out.”
“Susan, you of all people should have no excuse to underestimate my preparedness,” said Doom. “I have had this plan of attack prepared since before I summoned all of you for the first time. We will approach the encampment atop the mountain from three separate directions. Ms. Frost will accompany me in attacking from the north. Susan and the rodent will take the southeast. She-Hulk, Longshot, and the android will take the southwest. Let us depart.” The seven vanished from the laboratory.
Susan and Rocket found themselves in the snow at the base of a mountain.
“Goddamn it’s cold here!” said Rocket. “Would it have killed that guy to give us coats or something?”
“Shut up,” said Sue, turning both of them invisible. “I’m gonna make force stairs for us to climb up with. You won’t be able to see them, so be careful about your balance.”
“Yes ma’am,” said Rocket in a deadpan voice. They climbed for about 45 minutes, until the two spotted something coming toward them—some sort of massive grey reptile, looking like the N’Garai but much larger and more muscular.
“Keep quiet,” whispered Sue to the visibly frightened Rocket. “It can’t see us, so we can move past it without a fight.” The two crept along up the force stairs, and were almost past the creature, when Rocket said, “Ah, screw it,” drew an antimatter grenade from his belt, and tossed it at the creature.
“What the hell?!” said Sue.
“You wanted us to leave an unsupervised giant monster in a populated area?” asked Rocket, pulling the pin from another grenade and tossing it over his shoulder. “That’s very irresponsible of you. Frankly, I’m disappointed.”
“Shut. Up,” said Sue, making a force dome over the two of them as the monster lunged in their direction. Sue cried out in pain as the monster’s weight collapsed on her force field.
“Get me up onto his back,” said Rocket.
“Are you gonna try to ride him?” asked Sue.
“Would you trust me for a minute?” replied Rocket. Sue formed a force bridge and pointed at where she had made it. Rocket scampered up the bridge, hopped onto the monster’s back, and scampered onto its nose. Rocket then removed his belt of grenades and tossed it into the monster’s open mouth.
“You didn’t pull the pins!” yelled Sue from the staircase.
Ignoring her, Rocket yelled out “Remote detonation. Passcode: Drax’s dirty underwear.” A loud pop was heard from inside the monster, who promptly keeled over.
“Okay,” said Sue. “I’m impressed.” The two soon reached the camp on the summit.
Jen, Jim, and Longshot climbed. Jim melted the snow around them to make it somewhat easier, and the three plodded along. The three took a moment to rest on a large ledge, when a fourth figure appeared out of nowhere.
“Darnocha,” said Jim. “Nice to see you again.”
“Where did you take the dagger?” said Jen, angrily.
“It’s safe,” said Darnocha. “Did you assume I was working with the Darkholders? Rather rash assumption, don’t you think?”
“Why should we believe you?” asked Jim.
“The only reason you have to believe otherwise is a vague hunch from a man you despise,” said Darnocha. “You can either believe Doom with no evidence, or you can come with me and help me destroy the dagger once and for all.”
Jennifer called a huddle. “She could be telling the truth. I don’t trust her, but I don’t trust Doom either,” she said.
“We should go along with her for now,” said Jim. “At least we’ll be able to figure out what she’s up to. We might never find out if we refuse her.”
“Works for me,” said Longshot.
“Splendid,” said Darnocha, having listened in on their huddle. “Your agreement was all I needed.”
Darnocha snapped her fingers, and the three heroes were suddenly bound in shackles on a wall in a dark room.
“You lying asshole!” yelled out Jen.
“Oh, I didn’t lie,” said Darnocha. “I just asked you to come with me, and you did. Never said you could leave.”
“What about the part where we help you destroy the dagger?” asked Jim.
“Also not a lie,” said Darnocha. “Once the sacrifice is complete, Chthon will consume the dagger’s energies to fuel his rampage. Speaking of the sacrifice, I’m going to need this one.” Darnocha unshackled Longshot, and led him out of the room, leaving Jen and Jim alone.
As soon as Darnocha was out of sight, Jen transformed back into her non-green human form, allowing her to slip out of the cuffs made for someone much larger. She turned back into She-Hulk when she was out, and busted Jim’s cuffs.
“Let’s go save us a Prince,” said Jen.
Emma, in her diamond form, followed Doom in ascending the mountain. “Why didn’t you just teleport us to the camp?” asked Emma.
“There are enchantments surrounding it, preventing magical entry,” said Doom.
“Well, can’t you at least fly us up there?” asked Emma. “These heels continue to be entirely wrong for this sort of endeavor.”
“We would assuredly be spotted,” said Doom. “Climbing is our only chance to get there undetected.”
“Very well,” said Emma. “Though I think you may have been wrong about our going undetected.” Emma pointed at a group of six grey-robed Darkholders approaching them.
Don’t make a move, said Emma to Doom telepathically. I can make them think they aren’t seeing anyone.
Nonsense, said Doom. I can dispatch these peons with nary a thought. Doom fired a laser blast from his gauntlet at the Darkholders, but it hit a magical shield and fizzled out. The Darkholders charged at Doom and Emma, chanting out ancient dialects to summon hordes of N’Garai. Emma turned to diamond and prepared for a fight.
There was an easier way to do this!, thought Emma at Doom.
Silence, replied Doom, fighting off demons with lasers and spells. Eventually, the two cleared through the mass of demons, and Doom grabbed Emma and took to the sky. They landed at the fence surrounding the Darkholder camp.
“Let’s find the others,” whispered Sue. “They’re probably up here by now.” Sue and Rocket, still invisible, tiptoed past the guards at the front entrance and slipped into the camp. Immediately, they saw Jen and Jim sprinting away from three Darkholder guards. Sue covertly tripped the guards with a force field, allowing their allies to get away.
“We’ll tail them and stay undercover,” said Sue quietly. “Don’t show your hand unless it becomes absolutely necessary.” Rocket nodded.
Just then, Doom and Emma burst in through the fence. N’Garai were summoned and directed toward the two, but Sue knocked them back with a force field.
“The Invisible Woman must be here somewhere!” yelled a Darkholder. “Find her!”
“What was that about not showing our hand?” said Rocket.
Where are you and Susan?, said Emma’s voice in Rocket’s mind.
10 o’clock from you, about 30 paces, said Rocket. He produced two energy pistols and opened fire on the N’Garai.
Suddenly all the N’Garai disappeared. Doom laughed, then loudly declared, “Your minions have been banished to the vacuum of space. Is there anything better you have to throw at me?”
Just then, Jen and Jim burst out from a small building. “They’ve got Longshot!” yelled Jim at Doom. “He’s the—“
Jim was cut off by a magical gag from Darnocha, who suddenly materialized in front of him, holding a bound and gagged Longshot. “Hello again, Victor,” said Darnocha.
“I see your Prince was under my nose all along,” said Doom. “No matter. You will surrender him at once, or feel unthinkable suffering.”
“I think not,” said Darnocha. “The sacrifice is tomorrow, same time, same place. Hope to see you there, but don’t feel guilty if you can’t make it. We’ll get on fine without you.” The demon vanished, taking Longshot and the entire Darkholder camp with her.
The six intruders came together on the now-empty summit. Doom was on his knees.
“We’ll find a way,” said Jen. “That’s our job.”
“I already know the way,” said Doom. “There is only one. I must kill Longshot.”