The Mantle of Elijah, Finale: Lord of the Flies

June 23, 2015:

Through somewhat dubious means, SHIELD has found information they believe will lead to the capture of the revived Red Skull. Could this be the end of HYDRA as we know it? And what happens when evil begets even greater evil?

Events so shocking, you need to read it!

Mt. Sinai, Egypt

The last major Hydra base.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: Smashing Pumpkins - Tales of a Scorched Earth


Fade In…

THE MANTLE OF ELIJAH
FINALE
LORD OF THE FLIES

"You don't really believe all this shit, do you?" Nick Fury asks Steve Rogers as they walk out toward the quinjet that will take them to the Hellicarrier.

"Which part?" Captain America responds as he walks up the ramp. "The part about God? The part about a magical cloak? Or the part where HYDRA is looking for a desperate Hail Mary? Or that I told you all that torturing was not going to be worth it."

"You know I had nothing to do with the torturing. That was all Upton."

The blonde man from another time begins to check over some of the weaponry as the pilots pull into their pre-flight procedures.

"So, you agree then. You think this is the end," Fury says, folding his arms as he leans against a bulkhead.

"Damn well better be," Rogers says, looking back at Fury. "All wars need to come to an end."


MOUNT SINAI
EGYPT

Fifty days later, Nick Fury's gamble has paid off.

After a secret order, signed by President Upton, demanded the execution of Kwabena Odame, the General made a play. Rather than killing the Ghanian, he set up an elaborate ruse and gained a new ally. That ally rang home, calling an old friend Steve Rogers, with an update that was about to blow the socks off of this war between SHIELD and HYDRA.

The information was better than they'd hoped it would be. HYDRA had taken its lumps lately. Between Orleans and other operations that had gone sideways on them, the terrorist group was successful in getting rid of the President, but took major losses everywhere else, including thousands of men on their TerrorCarrier.

In a desperate maneuver, it's rumored via the information SHIELD got from torturing terrorists, that Skull wants to use the mantle of Elijah to conjure up some assistance in a last ditch effort to try and take over the world.

As the Hellicarrier and its squadron of quinjets flies towards Mount Sinai, it's clear that the intel they got from Shift is right. There's definitely movement. Troops scatter along the desert, while a platoon guards an entrance way. The entrance way, however, glows with a blue light. Probably a forcefield of some sort.

Within 20 minutes, the heroes have set up a front outside the line. "We're going to need to rush the mountain," Steve says to those who are accompanying him. "Once we get in, we need to get past that forcefield, and figure out what in the world Skull is up to inside that cave."

"Let's get to it," Steve says as he leaps over a rock and begins taking machine gun fire that bounces harmlessly off his shield. His feet move faster and faster, nearly 40 miles per hour. When he hits the first HYDRA shoulder, the latter goes flying off into the darkness.

Weapon fire begins hitting out in all directions from the darkness. Whatever happens now, it's clear that if HYDRA did not know they were here, they do now.

Large bits of fire drop from the sky as the Hellicarrier moves in to support the heroes, spraying carnage left and right.


Kara was prepared to kick some Hydra butt, presently wearing her full-body costume that she pulled out in the most dire of situations; even though it did little more than her normal costumes, the appearance of a suit of Kryptonian battle armor was more intimidating than a skirt and halter top.

Leaping into action behind Captain America, her blonde hair whips in the wind as she flies towards the Hydra battle line.

Bullets impact against her and all around her as she tries to serve as a de facto distraction and sledgehammer, pushing right into the middle of the Hydra line.

Landing in between a heavily armored machine gun position, she begins to knock soldiers around, smiling, "Hey boys. Didn't anyone ever tell you? Being Hydra doesn't pay."


Hair pulled back, gun unholstered and pointed to the ground, Peggy surveys the landscape. For her, World War II wasn't all that long ago and she's used to the front lines: some might say it's where she was most at home. As the group establishes their front, she is right up there, picking off shots and laying down cover fire to ensure that everyone is able to set themselves into their positions.

The plan from Steve is given a nod and then she smirks at the man of Red, White and Blue, quipping, "This feels just like old times again." And then he's off and she is fast on his heels. Or as best on his heels as she can with not being enhanced by any sort of serum. Her eyes scan left to right, marking targets and shooting to clear a space both for herself and the others.


"While you rush the mountain, I will come from the skies." Shayera's intent was clear, for the staff that she currently holds breaks apart within her hand with a loud crack, the Nth metal armoed woman gleaming as clawed, golden gloves twist harsh upon the surface. The Captain moves and Shayera takes a knee, slamming her rods upon the ground until it cracks once.. twice.. firing up with a row of electricity that coats the surface in a lovers embrace.

The time for action was now, teeth grit and eyes narrow as she hears the first cacophony of bullets hailing through the sky, her grin piercing her lips as she lets out a low laugh, launching high into the sky as metal wings fan out and sings against the wind. It was marvelous, that rocketing flight, one that archs in the sky like a missile, bolting at an incredible speed to land in betwixt the forces, landing hard enough to separate the milling, firing few with a pit to the ground and a flying of bodies.

Like sheep. They scatter.

The bladed knives of her wings fan out as she does that all too familiar dance; on the tip of clawed tow, wings deathly arched, a quick spin to slice middles, rods twirled and slammed into knee caps which shatter and electrify with speed. Thou shalt not kill. Naturally.

But no one ever said that one should not beat some ass and take names afterwards.


Sara Pezzini has been working as a SHIELD agent for several months now. It's been a while since she had the chance to go in as more than just an agent. She's joined the front of the line with the other bricks, the Witchblade in full armor to protect her as she runs into the fray. Bullets don't have much effect on the strange metal that makes the armor, but the blades in her hands? Those are pretty good at cutting through the enemy. Heavy and curved, one rests in each hand as she pushes toward the force field.


The information had come at a price. A very steep price. Murdering the holy men in Israel had gained Kwabena a place at Skull's side, deeper than any spy has ever made it within HYDRA's ranks. It had also earned him enough freedom to slip away and deliver his message to Rogers, a calculated risk, and one that was required. He hasn't slept ever since.

Deep within Mount Sinai, Kwabena is amongst those gathered with Red Skull. He does not, however, partake in the ritual. One had asked him to go to the front lines, but he'd argued that it was a foolish maneuver; if HYDRA's pawns weren't able to break the enemy front, they would need a heavy hitter like himself in the inside, to protect Skull until the job was done.

Straying away, he walks the corridors in darkness, silver eyes brooding as they watch for signs of infiltrators. The sounds of battle rumble through the deep, deep rock; sounds upon which he judges the progress of battle based on its volume, intensity, nearness. His mission inside was not yet over, and there was something deep within suggesting that, even if HYDRA should fall, Fury's ruse may not end here. Call it paranoia, or perhaps, intuition. Earning his place within HYDRA's ranks had come at a cost, but it had been enlightening, to say the least, and the Ghanian is not yet convinced that the endgame lies with Skull and the Mantle of Elijah.


Being part of the JL:A has some advantages. Like an early warning that this action is about to go down. Oracle has been asked to play Overwatch, a position she knows and apparently does well. When the news came through, the wheelchair bound redhead has spent time preparing - backing up her OracleNet system and sending the data offsite. If her system is compromised, she'll kill it - it might take time to restore, but her people will be safe.

From the Clocktower in Gotham, the action is observed by Oracle. Patched in to SHIELD, JL:A and OracleNet communicators and communications networks, she's also (ahem) 'borrowed' bandwidth on Satellites to give the team as many advantages as she could.

"This is Oracle, monitoring now." Once the action begins, Oracle gets to work. She's going to try to compromise the HYDRA systems. First the forcefield and then anything else she can find to give them something else to think about while the field team does it job.


It isn't quite the time to go into Berserker rage, as dire as this may be, but these are still men, subject to the limitations of the flesh despite their toys, but given the unholy things with which they trifle, Thor is not holding anything back. He attempts to honor the sanctity of life that those who he fights with so enjoy, but he is ultiamtely a warrior born, and this is not super heroics….

This is war.

Hydra agents fall like bowling pins as the God strikes from the heavens with a torrent of lightning bolts char them to slaw, with the hammer moving faster than a machine gun, back and forth mowing them down by the dozens, soon becoming hundreds, straight through the front gates of the enemy. A giant robot used for heavy infrantry support, the kind that might challenge a mid level hero is turned into so many shreds by the doubled power of the thunder god, and an infantry mounted laser is shredded with yet another burst of lightning after that.

And on he goes.


Quietly recites a Kushite prayer, Ozymandias is not a deeply spiritual, but they are going to battle on Mt. Sinai. He has lived, walked, and have done battles in places spoken in religions that honor this place. He looks down the puzzle box that he deciphered, and brings it along for the journey. After finishing his prayer, he stands up and double checks his weapons again. The calmness from the coming battle is beginning to wash over him, but he still wonders how many battles he is fought in this land, and how many battles he will continue to fight here. Nick Fury is right all wars need to come to an end.


The recent peace accord between NATO forces and the tiny nation of Khandaq introduced a new player to this fight…

..there is no way they could place a Helicarrier in the skies above Egypt and begin raining Mt. Sinai without risking Adam's intervention and risk introducing an unknown into the fray. The Westerners opted for permission rather than forgiveness, they were wise…

«Exterior — Mt. Sianai»

Above, the clouds cry out in a peal of thunder as five arcs of power race through the clouds to combine with terrible might.

A brilliant stroke of power ionizes the air as mystical power from the edge of Eternity itself cascades across the enemy rending desert sand to sheets of glass..

..leaving Mighty Adam. The tyrant hovers feet from the ground amidst a pile of charred remains and twisted glowing metal hulks.

Nearby, the God of Thunder makes quick work of his foes. "Good, an actual challenge." he says to himself and then moves into the fray in a blur of ebon and crackling lightning making it difficult to deduce which god is vaporizing which foe.



"It's her!" yells one of the HYDRA agents as much of the fire begins to flow towards Kara. They have it in for Supergirl. For them, she is their great maven of massacre. A lot of their friends died at her hand.

Peggy squeezes off several shots that take out assorted HYDRA goons with apparent ease. Lucky for them it is quick and she apparently does not come equipped with a stapler.

KRACKATHOOOOOM! From nowhere, a blinding ball of blue light heads for Shayera as she starts picking goons apart from the skies. "Look out," screams Cap into the communicator. "They've got cannons!"

Witchblade makes quick work, slicing and dicing her way through the line with ease. All things considered the resistance is pretty light, showing precisely how much HYDRA has been damaged in the past few months.

As Shift combs the hallways out toward the battle he'll be able to see the gunfire and the silhouettes of heroes and friends as they knife through their enemies with relative ease. They're coming and they'll be here soon. But an odd thing happens. The blue forcefield simply flickers, then blinks off. If anyone bothers to look it'll seem as though Shift did it, but in fact it was a young red haired woman sitting in her Gotham Clocktower.

"The shield is down!' yells Captain America. "Make a break for it!" He waves his arm while looking back towards the heroes before heading up the mountain, a wake of battered but live bodies behind him.

Moreover, the rest of the field is full of HYDRA agents all wailing and gnashing their teeth. "Holy cow," Steve says at the destruction levied by Thor, and Black Adam. "Guess they have less cannons now," Steve says as Thor smashes his hammer through one.

Ozymandias will see that as he saunters along much of the way is paved for him. Like walking a red carpet to a show. A red carpet. of Blood.

Steve runs right past Kwabena and gives him the slightest of nods. It was not discussed whether he would be losing his cover tonight. If not, well, that's something Kwa would have to sift through. Three turns and he's there.

In the middle of the room stands Red Skull, just as he finishes a chant. He wears the purple cloak and his arms are still lifted. As he turns to see Captain America he begins to laugh. "Too slow, Captain. Just as you were too slow to save your President! It is too late for you now!"

"We'll see about that," Cap responds, the shield already in the air before the throng of HYDRA agents open fire on him. The shield clips Skull in the throat, right where the mantle clasps. Red Skull doubles over from the throat shot, while the cloak itself goes flying. Cap, meanwhile, takes a hell of a lot of gunshots. Some are stopped by his armor. Some are not.


Kara amuses herself a little by whipping her head back to look over her shoulder, calling out, "WHO!? Agent Carter?" After-all, Peggy was a living legend; but she knew who the Hydra terrorists fighting her were referring to.

Supergirl doesn't hold back as she prepares to move in, using a sonic scream to knock back the group of Hydra thugs nearest her and hopefully incapacitate them.

It would also likely be loud enough to make the ears of any ally too close to her ring.

Her eyes glow red as she shoots one of the cannons still firing with a quick burst of her eye lasers before flying in after Captain America.

Deep down, she was terrified to be heading into the bowels of the installation. The last time something like this happened, she had been rendered utterly powerless.

"Nice One Cap!" She calls out at the shield throw and then she begins to shield the veteran hero from fire, standing in front of him so he can't be shot more.


Peggy, however, doesn't have the unmistakable costume that Kara does. From most angles, she looks like just another SHIELD agent. The anonymity is something that Peggy uses to her advantage quite often. She pauses just for a moment when she hears her name, glancing up at Kara to ensure the woman is alright before pushing forward. The lightning and Gods that make quick work of the HYDRA agents all around her are met with raised eyebrows. "That would have been handy against Hitler," she says to herself, using the distractions of the much flashier attack crew to weave her way past others and into the base proper.

Though she's slower than Steve, Peggy is following as quickly as she can. Shift is given a narrowing of the eyes as she runs by, not giving him any other acknowledgement. By the time she reaches the main room, she has stopped running and is instead walking forward with purpose, using the steadier pace to make her shots count, aiming right in a line toward the HYDRA agents attempting to shoot down Captain America.


Cool. Calm. Decisive. There were many fallen bodies on the field and some were her comrades within the JL:A. Shayera couldn't be messy. The rocket that flies towards her after the hollar from Captain causes her to launch upright, sectional staff slamming together as her eyes quickly scan the horizon. It was a quick overlook; left, right, down.. up.. both hands clasped against the metal and twist to turn the electricity off.

"GOT IT!" She hollars out into the coms, pointing towards a field out into the left, but suprise! Kara took care of it for her. Sweet mother of God, she didn't have to try to hit a home run and get blown up in the process. With the shields down, thanks to Oracle, Shayera gives the woman an unseen gesture of honor before she flies in after Captain and others, landing hard upon the ground, her wings wrapping around herself to keep from knicking the door.. but all of that flies out the window once the second fight begins.

As Kara takes up perch in front of the Captain, Shayera rushes in, bullets bouncing from the parts of her armor that covers her skin, others kicking, her long staff swinging with whiplash speed, aiming right for the guns they wield. And then kneecaps. What is it with her and kneecaps?!

"Who.." *THWACK* "..invited.." *PING!* "..Thunder-jerk?!" *BONG!*


As HYDRA agents go down, Sara keeps moving, striding purposefully through the field and into the halls of the base. The Witchblade is hungry, leashed too long, and the darkness in the HYDRA agents is enough to feed the hunger, putting an amber glow behind Sara's eyes. As a pair of agents rush her, she half-turns, going to a knee as she spins in a circle and cuts through them in a single, graceful motion. The skill is hard-earned, but it isn't all hers; the Witchblade and its previous bearers work through her.

As she steps into the chamber, one of the blades simply disappears back into her armor. Instead, she pulls a very standard revolver from her hip, aiming it at the Skull.


There's… a lot of firepower out there. When nobody is looking, Kwabena allows himself the slightest of smirks, a gesture of appreciation for just how dedicated Rogers and Fury's allies are. The smirk is short-lived, as soon as the force field goes down. One of the HYDRA goons looks toward him, glaring.

"You!" the soldier shouts, then stalks toward Kwabena with anger in his eyes. "What did you do!?"

Kwabena passes a look to Steve as the hero passes, then waits until the HYDRA soldier is close enough, then throws his elbow into the soldier's throat. Even as the HYDRA soldier chokes and gags, Kwabena spins around and relieves him of his assault rifle, then relieves the soldier of his consciousness by cracking the butt of that rifle into his forehead.

"Dat's what I did," he murmurs, before turning and chasing the heroes back toward the center room.

When he arrives, Shift's presumed betrayal is plain to see for those who remain unaware of his deep cover operation (which, of course, is everyone save for Peggy and Steve); he's wearing the uniform of HYDRA, and is now armed with two large assault rifles held under each arm and a third over his back. He immediately begins unleashing fury upon the heroes, sweeping a spray of bullets toward Supergirl, Hawkgirl, and Pezzini in particular. His feet carry him in a swift crab-step toward Red Skull, as if he were positioning himself as a last-ditch stopgap between the heroes and their primary target. His silver eyes remain cool and collected, narrowed just so as he decides to maintain his cover, for now, while quietly hoping that none of his bullets do any real damage. He'd chosen his targets intentionally, after all.

When his eyes spot Sara aiming her revolver toward Skull, he decidedly turns his attack more heavily upon Kara and Shayera, bullets spraying from each rifle and filling the air with spent casings.


Oracle listens to the activity, her eyes fixed on her screens as she attempts to compromise the HYDRA computer systems. The activity is physical, there isn't much she can do to help there, but… she can certainly take data for later reference and potentially disable the security safeguards of the compound (like … a self destruct command).

Shift… is known to Oracle. His betrayal has been kept somewhat a secret and as the man appears on her video feeds from the communicators and fires, her green gaze flicks to the screens and she winces. Nothing for it though - the team on the ground has to deal with that.


Thor uses a rare bit of his Earth power to tunnel into the rock once the force field goes down, lightning coming down in droves as he uses the Gauntlet's to channel power straight into the mountain, searing rivulets of men. There will be no prisoners of Hydra. Some enemies are sufficently evil that you do not make peace with them.

He spots Adam, and ignores the Hawk. He is here on a mission, and it is to support his comrade in arms. And that means removing as many of the pawns as possible around the ritual. He comes bursting up two hundred yards away, stone and dust gusting up causing an avalance to bury yet more Hydra agents, three more well placed cannons crushed under the rubble.


Ozymandias can't help but grin behind his mask at the destruction that has taking place already. The lack of any obstacles in is path allows him to use his superspeed to catch up with the others. Hearing the gunfire, he enters the room with with shield out. His eyes quickly scan the room for the mantle.

He decides to make a beeline towards the mantle, pulling out his sickle sword as he make his way through the room. His sword slashes while he uses his shield for cover and to bash the Hydras in his path as he wounds them enough to keep them out of the battle. The damage from the bullets of the Hydra that manage to get pass his shield and armor are quickly healed by him.


Bullets bounce harmlessly off of Kara as she protects Captain America. He looks pretty worse for wear, though, as a pool of blood gathers around her feet.

When Peggy turns the corner she'll see Captain America on the ground with Kara above him, protecting him from certain death. The attention towards Supergirl gives Peg an advantage, as she noted, as no one happens to be shooting at her.

Shayera zooms past Peggy and her initial shot slams a do-badder against the wall. BAM BAM BAM. It's like whack-a-mole and it's HYDRA season.

Skull is still on his hands and knees trying to get his bearings as Witchblade takes aim at him. She could end it all, right now. Years of misery, years of fear as he went unaccounted for after the war. All of the lives he would undoubtedly take in the future…

Enter Kwabena from the left. Hero or Villain. It's not clear. He's attacking the heroes, kind of, but he's not hitting anyone. But it seems good enough to fool his fellow HYDRA agents, at least.

Because of their limited resources Oracle finds that taking their information is akin to stealing candy from a baby. It's easy, and almost cruel, but it's pretty funny. There's tons of stuff about their money, spies, and future plans. Whoa man, if the world survives this, HYDRA is going to be in a world of hurt.

Meanwhile, Thor finishes up the final group outside, accounting for the canons and those outside.

From the side of the cavern wall there comes a ripping and crunching sounds as a large rock splits in two! Emerging from the shadows comes what some might consider a beautiful man with long black hair and a pair of leathery black wings. His face to the front is human, elegant, almost elvish like. Male, presumably, but certainly androgynous. The grey skin upon his face, however, sags in places, with black blood filling in gaps where the skin has cracked away. On one side of his another face, that of a lion, on the other a face of an ox. From behind the long face of the eagle.

The being raises his arm and immediately the room begins to become filled with flies. The other arm comes up and everyone in the room will feel a burning sensation on their foreheads. On the others they will see the numbers 6 6 6 burn themselves on to the foreheads of the others. Almost immediately the fles are so thc they begin to cover the heroes and remaining HYDRA agents. The lights within the room commences to flcer and Oracle will see crazy things happening with HYDRA's power sources.


Kara was keeping as close as she could to the wounded Captain America, ripping off her cape now and draping it over him. While it wasn't exactly a bulletproof shield, her costumes were pretty resistant to damage whether she was wearing them or not.

"Cap, you're badly hurt. Do you want me to get you out of here?" She looks to the senior member of the team for orders or guidance, not entirely sure what to do.

She's glaring at Shift as he shoots towards her, raising her hands instinctively to block as many bullets as she can.

Then, everything goes insane.

Kara stares in some terror at the being that has appeared and when the flies begin to try and consume everyone, she inhales deeply.

Ugh.

She swallowed some flies. Teeth brushing would happen later.

Exhaling now, she tries to create a cyclone of freezing air that will whip around and carry the flies to the ceiling.


Peggy's a professional. She's been in the midst of wars and battles before. Her attention remains, for the moment, on the agents aiming at Steve as opposed to the injured man himself. There will be a time later to rush to his side; right now he needs cover and for the bad guys to stop shooting at him and she can certainly take care of that. Her shots are not wild, but they happen in rapid succession. Agents who were focused on Steve fall, thinning the crowd and making it easier for Kara to guard him as well as the others to move forward.

The sudden appearance of the dark winged creature happens in her periphery. Her focus remains on her targets until the flies swarm and make that impossible. Blinking and coughing, she is quick to cover her nose and mouth with her elbow, the cloth of her coat giving her some relief. Her gun remains at the ready, though she can't see much of anything to fire at just yet. Slowly, she attempts to move forward, through the flies and the crowd toward Kara and Steve.


Shayera took care of those within her way with ease. It was nothing. Guns rattled and riddled againt the floor until a heavy press of rapid-fire against her back gains her ire. Her wings fan out, the Nth metal warping, drawing spikes from the middle of her spine as the last of the HYDRA agents she dealt with falls. That turn, that glare towards Shift gained her a heavy press of bullets as she staggers back, taking the heat right within the middle of her armor, denting it as such.

And this will not do.

Her foot plants against the ground as she takes off with a launch, spinning within mid air towards Shift, her staff broken apart yet again as the bullets bounce and ricochet where ever they might. This HYDRA agent was a bold one, how dare he fire at the battle goddess and attempt to remain unscathed?! As she nears towards him, her foot plants against the ground, a deathly twist and turn of her sticks which were knuckled in a tight grip to try to beat away the gun that fires. Crack it in half even. But she does not stop until her world turns, the attempt of a razor row of wings to the middle.. along with a kick of the foot until someone released the hounds that were flies.

She stops just in time to get a look at the … angel, her wings drawn upward and outright threatening.. sticks soon pressed and melted away within her palms as she lifts into the air to try to fly towards the being, arms shielded, wings battling against the air within the room to push away the flies so that she could get to the being but..

Boy does her head hurt!


Now is when Sara really, really wishes she still had the Spear. That seems like the sort of thing that would be incredibly useful right now. The Witchblade demands blood, her finger tightening on the trigger…but when she pulls it, it isn't aimed at the Red Skull's head. Granted, he probably isn't going to appreciate the trio of shots to center mass, either, but she knows more or less what Steve can survive, and that's her standard for what the Skull can survive.

She doesn't have time to follow it up, though, as the monstrosity breaks out of the wall. Nor does the Witchblade have any more interest in the Skull with that target offered. The gun falls, and instead, a beam of searing white light shoots from her palm toward the creature. She'll worry about the state of her soul later. Right now, everything is pure, burning rage.


Oddly enough, the flies do not seem attracted to Kwabena. It would be easy to assume it may have something to do with his savagery or viciousness - understandable considerations, especially considering the wicked things that had been done to him under HYDRA's witchcraft. Indeed, when he was serving as their mind-washed puppet, he'd exhibited a similar ability; the transformation from man into so many thousands of insects.

The charm, hidden safely around his neck, had been the stopgap to HYDRA's witchcraft. Acquired in the Nowhere Market, it was the single item that had allowed him to spy on HYDRA from within, without their wizards knowing.

Shayera's advance has him turning to face her, lips curling into a snarl. He is unrelenting in his barrage until the rifle in his right hand is severed into pieces, prompting him to release his grasp and let it fall to the rock below, useless. Her razor sharp wings seem to sever him through the midsection, only small tufts of black smoke flick out as the wings pass right through him, leaving the HYDRA uniform tattered but the Ghanian unscathed. He drops the second rifle, prepared to engage the hero, when something catches his eye.

It is Ozymandias, going for the Mantle of Elijah, that prompts his cold expression to break. Being behind enemy lines, he had learned a few things about the mantle; things none of the heroes could have possibly known. The moment Ozy moves, his expression becomes fearful, and his mouth opens in a cry of true horror.

"NO!"

Dashing away, Shift shrugs the third rifle from his back and leaps into the air, transforming into a cloud of black smoke that flies faster than his legs could have ever carried him. The cloud curls around the Mantle, obscuring it from view for a breathless second. When the mutant reforms, his hands are clutching the Holy Artifact, his body curled around it in mid-air.

Many years ago, when his family and country had forsaken him as a man, Kwabena's faith in God had been damaged, but not destroyed. He'd hated God once; come to loathe Him later, and eventually, he merely stopped caring. But yesterday, when he sold his soul to maintain his cover and murdered a handful of innocent, Holy men, it wasn't his faith in Christ that was destroyed; it was belief itself. No Messiah, no Savior, no God would have ever led him to that position. Deep down, in the depths of his soul, Kwabena no longer wondered. He simply did not believe.

The would-be villain reveals his play when the power of evil floods his body at the touch of skin to Elijah's Mantle. His momentum through the air stops cold, and he rears his neck back, releasing an unearthly cry of anguish that deafens the room and floods even the ears of the gods with its horrific malice. Then, in the blink of an eye, Kwabena bursts into a thousand pillars of blinding light, searing out in every direction.

From afar, the beams of light slice through Mount Sinai, reaching miles across the earth and high into the sky, leaving ash wherever they've cut.

This wasn't how he expected to go, but all things considered… it was a good death.


The data pulled from the HYDRA systems is stored in a separate section of the OracleNet, behind multiple firewalls that stop stuff getting out of that zone. Checking it as it comes in, Oracles eyebrows rise, she's going to be doing some verification on this data … it's all been too easy.

As the lights start to flicker and the readings go heywire, Gothams Information Goddess considers… "I'm cutting power, be ready. Whatever is coming through is drawing from it." She'll give each member of the team a few seconds only to adjust before she cuts the complexes power. That can't make things worse, right?

And then Shift shatters into those beams of light….


Is is only a few yards from the mantle, when Shift makes it to the mantle first. Before he can realize what is happening, eyes fall on the being and his eyes quickly widen in terror. He is about to shout to the others that this seem to be a cherubim mention in Ezekiel, but instead of words he screams out in pain as the burning sensation on his forehead starts.

The mystical cobra that protrudes from his forehead and is only visible to people with medium to high levels magic is starts to extend and wriggle away from him in attempt to flee from the pain from out of his forehead as it attempts to protects itself from the burning. Ozymandias scream out in pain as he takes hold of the mystical cobra which seems to like everyone else that he is trying to pull a bunch of flies to him. The blinding lights of the shattered Shift allows him to regain the cobra.


Kara's breath goes a long way into dissipating some of the flies, but it seems as scores of them float up towards the ceiling, more and more make their way out from the hole in the wall. "No," Steve responds. "We need to stay." He has a bad feeling that if they don't beat this jerk, then things will get a lot worse for the world outside.

They fight Baal, for those who know such things about the Bible. Beezlebub. Satan's right hand. Like John the Baptist, this fallen angel is paving the way for his master. And the day of revelation is coming. Today.

Peggy's trek towards Steve and Kara is difficult sledding. She struggles to gain proper footing, slipping and sliding as she squashes the flies that buzz beneath her feet. As she comes upon him, she can see Steve struggling. He's trying to crawl in the direction of the cloak.

As Shayera comes at him, Beelzebub smirks. The snicker turns into full laughter as he raises his hand once more. Immediately, her angelic wings crumple and fall in upon themselves and she is sent flying towards the wall, which she collides with a slam.

Beelzebub mutters something but it's a long dead language that no one here understands.

But the smirk on his face stops suddenly as Sara hits him with her power of purity. He reaches his hand up just in time to block with some power of his own; a sort of stalemate between good and evil.

"No," Cap mutters as Shift puts his arms around the cloak, incinerating into a million different pieces. That was his friend, who'd stuck with him to the end despite the trials and tribulations. A good death, maybe, but not one Captain America is willing to have had sacrificed.

Immediately the lights finally go out, but the light from Sara's attack still illuminates the room after Oracle cuts the power. Later, she'll find that the information is legit, and enough to put the final bits of HYDRA away. For now, anyhow.

As Steve begins to feel weary at the lack of blood, his mind goes back to the old tiny church in Brooklyn his parents took him to. Back in those days, memorization was key, and he had to memorize bible verses like school boys memorized times tables. Roamns 6:23: For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. And, before he loses consciousness, his last thoughts are of his friend Kwabena, his friends, and of the book of Revelation.



There is nothing more Kara can do for Captain America, she knew he was tough and she had spent most of the fight trying to keep him from harm. She was sure he would live, he had to; he was Captain America.

She checks on him briefly, kneeling down to check his pulse and transmitting to Oracle, "Oracle, we're going to need a med-team in here immediately. Cap is down, he needs a doctor fast."

Grasping the Ley Pendulum firmly in her hand, she looked at the chaotic sight before her; the religious significance of it not fully lost on her even as an alien.

Her head hurt, but she had to focus.

Moving in towards the Demonic Lord, she focussed the energies of her Ley pendulum towards Sara, calling out, "Draw upon the power of my pendulum and yours, banish this jerk Witchblade!"


Shayera was so close, but coupled with the burn upon her forehead, the reach of clawed fingers towards the 'man', she felt a different kind of burn, one that stemmed from the tip of her wings. It was like a reversal, her wings curling and withering, slamming right inside of her back, the force of it all sends her at an arch towards the being mid-flight, only to be thrust back with a concussive force that sends her smashing right into the wall.

It caves around her body, the rock falling to the ground, followed by the limp body of Shayera. Once she hits the surface, the flies begin to swarm, buzzing all around her as she crawls at a snails pace, the light blinding her eyes which soon shut to draw everything black.


Though used to fighting her way through many things in life, this is the first time that Peggy has attempted to fight through a swarm of flies. But, much like everything else she puts her mind to, she puts her head down and keeps moving. It's slow going, but as long as she's making ground she does not care. By the time she reaches Steve and Kara, the grabbing match over the mantle has just ended.

Despite the flies and her fight forward, she pauses and shields her eyes from the brilliant light that is Shift burning up and then turning to ash. The last few steps forward to Steve's side is much easier in the stunned wake of Kwabena's disappearance and Ozymandias' backpedal away from the area. Her breathing is clogged with flies and her forehead sears with pain, but she drops to her knees by both Steve and the Cloak. First, a hand reaches out to find his pulse and to ensure that he is still breathing.

Then, her attention is turned to the mantle. It is the reason they came. It can't be left behind, despite the recent display of the power of what it can do to a person. If she takes it, perhaps that means this will all be over. The enemy she has fought since the beginning of the War might be vanquished.

Without hesitation or even a whispered prayer, Peggy reaches over and gently picks up the holy relic from the floor.


Sara Pezzini grew up going to church. Catholic, born and raised, from a long line of Catholic cops. That the Witchblade doesn't seem to entirely fit into that philosophy bothered her at first. There was a crisis of faith. And then she came to terms with it. It doesn't hurt that, until just about a week ago, the Spear of Destiny was in her hall closet. Or that one of the previous bearers of the blade was none other than Joan of Arc. But faith isn't something she lacks.

When she first joined the force, one of the first things she did was put her father's old St. Michael card in her locker. The prayer on the back is old and familiar, long before she fell into the rabbit hole of magic and mystery.

Stepping forward, gathering her will, she adds a second hand, the bar of light thickening. "Saint Michael defend us in battle, be our protection against the malice and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray; and do though, oh prince of the Heavenly host, by the power of God, thrust into Hell Satan and all evil spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen." She doesn't even pause for breath as she finishes the prayer, starting again from the top. "Saint Michael defend us in battle…"


The med-team is already on the way. Oracle didn't need to send them, SHIELD have been monitoring the same channels as the redhead. "They're on their way, Supergirl."

Watching in abject horror as the Demonic Lord manifests. There really is little she can do, Sara seems to have this… if they need the lights switched back on, she can arrange that, it will take a few minutes.


«Exterior - Mt. Sinai»

It took them mere minutes to reduce one of the most highly fortified locations in the region to a scene of twisted steel and burning flame..

Black Adam's surveys their handiwork while lifting gently from the firmament to ascend—

Light explodes outward from Mount Moses as divine energy lances for miles in every direction.

He scowls and the Speed of Heru overtakes him..

«Interior - Mt. Sinai»

Mighty Adam appears at the threshold of the scene looking very cross for the progress they've made without him, "Elijah took his mantel and wrapped it together and smote the waters of Jordan." He announces in with simple recitation.

The Courage of Mehen gives him no pause for the archetypal horror.

Black Adam moves swiftly in a blur that burns the air to appear behind the Demonic Lord. No sooner did he materialize then reaches outwards to take hold of the ears of this hellish ruler — and would then pull hard and away, "Listen not to ungodly council." He demands of the regal terror.

Suitable distraction?


Ozymandias thinks to himself that his not been his battle, and perhaps his never ending war is about to end as he wrestles with himself. He can feel his entire body fighting with itself; in fact, that is what is happening as the mystical cobras inside him seek to devour to each other to escape the pain from the forehead and these unnatural flies. In the midst of this, there is a bit of regret about Shift. This was the second time that Shift intervene in protecting his life. If he somehow survives this, he makes an oath to look after those that Shift cares for generations to come. He first have to survive his body ripping itself apart.

Ozymandis remembers the puzzle box and uses his last remaining strength to pull it out. He speaks the solution of the puzzle box, and shatters the box. The flies that are around him turn into sand encase into a perfect life life tomb.


Shayera and Cap lose their consciousness, and Shift his life, but the rest fight on valiantly against the harbinger of the End Times.

Kara does her best to hold the Beast, as the book of Revelation calls him at bay, but it's fleeting. His sort of power she has no protection from, and that is a very bad thing now that he turns his full attention toward the young Kryptonian. But just as he's about to attack her, Black Adam enters and wrestles with the demon. The man from Khandaq is face to face with the eagle, who screeches horribly at it.

Meanwhile, Ozy goes into a sort of fly-sand-cocoon, struggling with his inner demons. And outer demons.

Peggy strides over, grabs the cloak. Those expecting her to burst into flames like Kwabena did might be surprised as the cloak begins to burst into a white flame; a fire that doesn't seem to hurt Peggy at all.

This change causes Beelzebub to lose attention on Black Adam. Whatever just happened is something he takes seriously. All of his power and might is now going to come crashing down upon Peggy, ending her life, even with Mighty Black Adam hanging upon him, but as black tendrils reach out towards the Lost in Time Englishwoman, they are blocked by something mysterious.

Sara continues the prayer, over and over, just like a good Catholic girl, and gradually a light blue sphere encases Baal, preventing him from harming anyone. Likewise, all of the flies seem to die right where they are, falling off everyone without a further bite.

The white flame that used to be the cloak is growing to a crescendo, far too brilliant to look at. Finally it explodes, directly at Beelzebub, incinerating him immediately, and all of his minions with him.

In the end, the only things left are the heroes, the HYDRA, and a hole in the wall.

By the time the medivac team pulls Steve out of the side of the wall, he's already regaining consciousness and can see the brilliant early morning sky and the desert heat upon his face. The men who carry him on the stretcher pull past Sara and Steve raises a hand to stop them. Pulling alongside her as she makes her way to the awaiting quinjets, Steve tries to speak to her with a raspy voice.

"I still don't believe Jesus had a daughter."

He gives a wink to his ex-girlfriend and the SHIELD agents carry on bringing him towards the jet.

EPILOGUE

CINCINATTI, OHIO
TWO WEEKS LATER

Outside a basketball court in the projects, a pair of youths stop playing once they realize Steve Rogers, Captain America, is watching their game. He's been going door to door in this neighborhood, telling those who knew Odame what had happened.

"Yo, is it true? Is Kwa dead?" The way the kid's voice cracks a bit tells Steve that he had a lot of love for the man who was big brother to a lot of these kids.

Steve nods solemnly, putting his hands in his jean pockets. He wears a white t-shirt on his upper half; underneath there's padding that covers up a handful of stitching from the gunshot wounds he received.

"Why do you care? He was your enemy, wasn't he?"

Steve shakes his head. "Nah. Kwa was a hero. Don't let anyone tell you any different," Steve replies.

"Did you know him?"

"I did. He was a good friend. And I'll miss him a lot."

The pair go back to playing, and Steve watches them for a long time.

THE MANTLE OF ELIJAH

THE END

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