Death of the Empusa

December 26, 2016:

The Empusa accidentally pulled into this plane of reality by a serial killer's summoning circle is finally cornered and swiftly destroyed by some of the most famous (and infamous) personalities in the Northeastern United States…along with an innocent construction site.

Brooklyn, NYC


NPCs: The Empusa (GM: John Constantine)


Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

It's the day after Christmas, and most people fortunate enough to do so here in Brooklyn are spending it comfortably at home with the heat on, surrounded by friends and family, leftover food, and the scattered debris from a frenzy of gift-opening. Light spills buttery-yellow and warm from countless banks of windows in red brick and brown stone. In what may be one of the few true grace notes of 2016, a year that most people surveyed on the street have roundly agreed 'can go screw itself sideways,' it snowed yesterday and all last evening, and the blanket of pure white has brought even New York City a thin veneer of idyllic winter magic. Traffic — pedestrian and otherwise — is light. It is as peaceful here as it ever gets in this corner of the northeast corridor.

Dr. Jane Foster, at home — by herself, presently — is spending it on the computer in her pajamas: a pair of sweatpants, some slippers, and a green t-shirt featuring Darth Vader, fists clenched, helmet thrown back, behind a lawnmower in the foreground. The yellow, ragged text behind him reads, 'MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOW!'

It's in the transition between a light webpage and a dark one that she would realize she's not alone. In the reflective sheen of her monitor panel, suddenly visible against the dark background, is an enormous, alien visage she may have thought she'd never see again. Eyes the size of softballs, vertically slit, golden, empty as the eyes of a caiman crocodile, crown of flaming red-purple-black tresses all in fire (non-traditional), and that mouth full of transparent teeth—

The peace of Brooklyn is shattered along with the glass of her window as the massive Empusa breaches it and falls the several stories to the street level. It cracks the street with one enormous clawed foot, the other leg terminating in a bronze spike, and becomes a blur of terrifying motion as it carves a swath up the street with a clear destination in mind.


Christmas is for home and family.

Or when you're as pathetic as Dr. Foster, it's for oversized mugs of coffee, an entire pot also on stand-by, in preparation for a mean 12-hour programming blitz. Station set up of her two laptops and requisite clutter of notes, she reclines back, and turns her restless mine to the second project she's working on — simultaneously as well — which is strangely enough, uncapping a sharpie pen with her teeth and drawing strange, angle-and-vertice shapes all over her left wrist. She pauses, huffs annoyance at herself, and scrawls some quick math on the inside of her elbow.

Her program finishes its error check, and she glances back up at her screen.

Jane squints. She's forgotten a bracket somewhere. Somewhere in the mess, somewhere in the code, and it's driving her crazy. Coffee in hand, she leans closer, frowning at the text. Her eyes widen. There. She found it. Missing bracket, right there, in the — giant reflected DEMON EYE.

The blood drains out of her, turning in her chair. Glass smashes. She screams.

And the next thing she realizes — it's COLD. It's cold, it's freezing COLD, and she's probably going to die. She knows immediately what to do — the only ridiculous way to STOP this thing, but one of its claws, whether on accident or with intelligent deliberation, has curled over her mouth. Eyes wide, struggling desperately, eyes tearing from terror and the blowing winter wind, Jane punches feebly and tries not to completely lose her mind.


[INT. Clark Kent's Apartment - Metropolis - USA]

A number of Christmas gift bags stand atop a quilted bedspread their presence serving as evidence of his recent flight back from Smallville for an overnight with his parents. A pile of newly opened black and white socks rests atop the dresser and as he opens the drawer to begin the post-holiday ritual of folding his socks there is a sound..

Three chimes interrupt his podcast of 'This American Life' and he digs into the pocket of his jeans to produce his phone. The tweet is simple '@DailyBugle Monster attacking in New York!! What do you bet Spider-Man is involved?!'. Peering at the attached image he takes a moment to examine each individual pixel to determine that the image has not been electronically altered.

As his right hand begins to unbutton his shirt he looks through the north wall of his apartment - towards New York City.


It's the day after Christmas, and the Winter Soldier is at work on a job he thought he'd already finished. This in itself put him in a pretty bad mood already, as he left his Brooklyn foxhole and slowly made his way towards Manhattan, traveling his usual circuitous routes to avoid notice while in active operation. It's about as uneventful as a day in the life of the Soldier can get.

And then a roar and a titanic crash break the relative quiet of the city.

The Winter Soldier almost misses his step on a rooftop. He glances around, confused, finding himself in a familiar part of the city. Was this on the route he meant to take? He must have drifted, while traveling. He sometimes loses time like that…

He looks left, and sees a building he knows, a street he has walked down before… and some unholy thing PUNCHING out a window he himself has gone through in the past. Yes— he knows that building. That's his repair stop! He needs that!

He starts running, skimming along rooftops, until a leap off the edge of the last slings him out into space. His left arm swings out with a whir of metal, catching a decorative outcrop on the wall of a building; momentum swings him around it, and with a smooth turning flip he slingshots himself around and redirects his angle of attack, using himself as a projectile.

A projectile that aims straight downwards to land squarely on the presumed tendons of the demon's wrist, trying to force it to jerk open and release Jane in spasmodic reflex.


Caitlin's out doing her post-Christmas errands. Returning a sweater that was two sizes too small, and seeing if Foot Locker either has a policy about cashing in certificates or can make metal-framed shoes for 350lb amazonian gingers.

And then, there's a monster slavering up the street like a ballistic spider, flipping cars, ripping hydrants, and generally making everyone run and scream like a bad monster movie. From the height of the beast's shoulders, Caitlin must look like just one more big ant— one more to be trampled and borne down on. Cait touches a bracelet and flings off her shirt and jacket, a green leotard appearing under her clothing as she goes. At least her good shirt won't get ruined as she dons her League-issued jumpsuit.

When the creature is almost on the verge of trampling her, Caitlin abruptly takes two fast steps forward and leaps up in a flying uppercut that'd make Ryu himself proud, shouting forcefully as she puts enough velocity into her leap to crack the sidewalk under her— and swinging a fist right at the monster's chin!


This was just gonna be a normal, calm, meeting. Well calm would be a relitive term, considering Peter Quill had woken up that morning with aproximately 10,000 missed calls from one Jane Foster. He listened to the first two nonsense hyperventaliting messages instespaced with crying and shouts of 'SPACE' and 'SPACESHIP!!!' before he decided it would just be easier to go by and see what the hell she wanted.

Women. Right?

So the self proclaimed Star-lord was back in NYC to see what the crazy woman wanted. He was busy making bets to himself on weather her totally-not-boyfriend-with-the-rifle would hold him at gunpoint or not. Its Christmas after all. Just passed. And what kind of total jackass would do something horrible at this point in the year?

Apparently a demon would.

Staring with stunned silence as a monster from a pulp fiction film stalks /out/ of an apartment and starts down the street, Peter Quill can only think one thing.


There is a moment where he considers just going right back home. Just turn around. Head back to Gotham. Pretend this never happened. It would be pretty easy to do.

…but then the monster has to kick the street and send debris flying everywhere. "HEY JACKASS!" Quill calls up at the creature. "YOU KNOW PEOPLE LIVE HERE RIGHT?!" Its that moment where a stray hot-dog cart splatters into the street next to him, getting mustard on not only his jacket but his walkman.

There is an eyetwitch, then a second one.

"THIS PLANET IS MESSED UP AND I'M NOT GONNA TAKE IT ANYMORE!" The pilot roars as he taps his armor, the face-plate slamming into place as he rockets off the ground and towards the demons freeking eyes.

Where he will shoot them. Repeatedly.

Pew pew lazors man.

His razor honed senses catch the sight of familiar figures with the creature. "…huh. Vader? And of course PRINCESS SCIENCE IS THIS YOUR FAULT!!" His voice amplified by his armor. The he's rocketing past a third familiar figure that he at least reconises. At least Cait isn't throwing tables at /him/ this time.


"Hey, I'm so hungry, I'm making us soup while Mom and Dad are getting us pizza."

"But Todd, shouldn't we take out the spoon before putting our food in the microwave? It's metal!"

"It's only for a few seconds, it isn't a big deal, Ron!"

"Actually, Ron's right, you should listen to him."

At the strange voice, the two children look from their apartment kitchen to see a familiar man on the fire escape and they cry out his name in unison. "CAPTAIN AMERICA!"

"That's right, kids, you should never have the microwave, it could cause ruin the microwave or worst yet," Rogers states as from the other side of the window.

"Thanks, Captain America, now I know!" Todd replies.

"And knowing is half the battle!" Cap replies back.

Meanwhile in a paneled van that is Not At All A SHIELD Listening Unit, a man speaks into his radio. "You're SUPPOSED to be on standby incase the exchange goes sour with Bronski! What are you doing?"

"I was just there and the kids…"

The woman in the van just facepalms. "How the hell do you barely work a cassette player and you knows about metal in microwaves?"

"I just do," Cap replies quietly, not all reminding them of the MYSTERIOUS FIRE that happened in his kitchen while microwaving a potato wrapped in tin foil. So mysterious.

Perhaps as a small mercy to all parties concerned, there is a sudden demon attack. "Captain, are you able to respond? We got some sort of monster attacking. Seems we have multiple heroes already on it." one of the SHIELD agents replies after giving the location.

"Better safe than sorry," Steve replies, already leaping down to the street onto his motorcycle and racing toward the site of the disturbance with his shield placed in the front the cycle to protect his face and help toy sales.

"Mom isn't going to believe that this happened, is she Todd."

The other child holds up the phone to display a photo of a certain hero. "Pics or it didn't happen!" he proudly exclaims.


Brooklyn, the day after Christmas. It's usually time to spend with family and just relax, for most people. To enjoy the day of respite. Of course, for others, that's not the case. For others, today is a day to begrudgingly get back to work after a brief reprieve. A day to remember your obligations again. A day to lie to your aunt about having to return all the terrible gifts your friends gave you so that you can put on your skintight spandex and parade around the city for a few hours worry-free.

Which brings us to now, where a certain Peter Parker perches precariously upon the precipice of a building rooftop, a festive red back settled in front of him as he hoists a red shirt into the air, decorated with what looks to be a sled, led by AT-AT riders and being ridden by Darth Vader, with the caption 'MERRY SITHMAS.' His brows scrunch up behind his mask as those large white eyes shutter into a squint.

"… They really are terrible gifts though—"

And it's just as Spider-Man utters those words of ingratitude that the universe sees fit to have a giant damn monster barrel through the skies just below him and crash into the city street like an engine of destruction. Spider-Man pauses. He blinks. He looks down.

"Oh wow. The Krampus really -is- real. Uh. Sorry Santa!!"

His newly-restored faith in the Christmas mythos, however, doesn't stop Peter from immediately throwing those (terrible) gifts by the wayside to divebomb down towards the city streets below, ramping up momentum as the creature barrels down the block at dizzying speeds. It's as he's about to hit ground with fatal impact that a string of webbing unwinds from his wrist-mounted shooter with a soft -=thwiiiip!=-, attaching to a nearby building and sending him careening in the demon's direction with a firm tug.

It's as the creature is running that it might notice a small, red and blue blur swinging nearby lifting a hand in a cheery wave and a shout of, "HEEEEEEEEeeeeeey….!" before falling away, only to sling back ahead of it once more. "WHAT'S UUUUUUUUUUUuuuuuppppp…" Falling away. Swinging back! "BUUUUUUDDDDDYYYYyyOH HOLY CRAP IT'S SOLID SNAKE"

This is the sound of Peter yelping at the sight of Angrier Cyborg Rambo slingshotting himself into the demon. Spinning another web, the young hero yanks himself away at breakneck speeds not to be in the trajectory of the man's murderous path, just in time to see someone shooting lasers at the thing and some crazy redhead just up and aiming to uppercut the thing into space.

Landing on the side of a building, Peter stares. A second passes.

"Yeeeah it looks like you've got a lot on your plate today so I'm just gonna take… that" And this would be the sound of Peter aiming to shoot a web the demon's way, to snag Jane and yank her away, hopefully, from the creature's injured grasp.


The Empusa's destination is a little less than two blocks away, and this smash-and-grab must have seemed, even in its peculiar, otherworldly brand of cunning, like a milk run, simple as it gets. It clearly did not account for the sheer supernormal-to-civilian density ratio.

Its first hint that things are not going to play out the way it would like is when it takes a several-hundred-pound Winter Soldier to the wrist, a surprise that causes it to stumble, albeit only briefly. Its hands are massive but spidery affairs, fingers as long as a man's arms and just about that big around, terminating in wicked claws, and it happens to have a free one. It reaches for this pest —

— but said pest has spent nearly three quarters of a century mastering battlefield awareness, and is fully prepared. The demoness takes a riddling of assault rifle bullets to the palm just before closing its hand around him and tearing him from its opposite wrist. From the holes in its flesh, semi-translucent and riddled with pulsing chromatophores, comes a sickly ichor with more clots in it than blood should have, from which toxic vapors immediately begin to rise. Daughter of Hecate, its blood is as caustic and poisonous as any potion brewed by that ancient witch.

It may have intended to discard Bucky, but it's distracted almost immediately by the sudden impact of something it never even saw coming. Caitlin Fairchild, a blur in green, lands her upper-cut soundly against the bones of a jaw that hinges like a snake's, snapping its head back and to one side. On reflex it takes a blind swing at this new assailant with the fist containing Jane, but whiffs.

And then there's a man with rocket boots…

Infuriated, it stops dead and braces its feet, leaning forward to open its maw, teeth unfolding from the inner cavity like fold-outs in a pop-up-book. Its enraged scream shatters window for a full block, and it punctuates that scream with a sudden snap forward of the arm holding the supersoldier, a vicious throw at Peter Quill.

It also decides it needs to hustle. Without any idea that Peter Parker is there at all, it launches itself toward the side of a building, flashing upward and over so quickly that it's almost instantly gone from sight, making a hard bee-line for its ultimate goal: a construction site just on the opposite side, the building still poured-concrete, dirt and rebar.

It drags Parker with it.


And Caitlin's along for the ride, too.

The slash she dodges, with a motion even surprising the leggy redhead— a year of relentless training under the likes of Carol Danvers, Wonder Woman, and the Lady Sif, have given her reflexes she didn't know she had. Anticipation, balance, all the hallmarks of a warrior— all clicking into place at once when the demon lashes out, missing wildly.

Caitlin slaps a palm onto the demon's wrist and grips with all her might as it starts scrabbling away. And then she gets her balance, grabs on with both hands, and /squeezes/. And squeezes. With enough force to crumble brick— to put dents in a steel girder. Enough to shatter rocks.

"LET. HER. GO!" Caitlin shouts, unconcerned with being dragged along and slamming into debris as they go.


Jane Foster is a woman of logic, and on her mind right now is a very logical mantra: I'M GOING TO DIE.

I'm going to die, she keeps thinking. I'm going to die! I'm going to /die/. I'm going to DIE.

Maybe not, maybe if she gets her mouth free, can TALK, can try to verbally punch the demon the way she did several days ago, but Jane can do little now, little but struggle in terrified, half-delirious vain as too-powerful claws hold her captive, squeezing manacles down that make it hard to breathe.

Maybe, Jane starts to think, as the trembling starts to set in, she made a mistake back there, maybe was a bit too reckless, maybe a bit too impulsive, when she decided to quantum tunnel through a brick wall —

A blur of someone connects the wrist, and jarred, Jane turns up her eyes — and the uncovered half of her face breaks in relief to see someone so familiar. It's her soldier! He's here! She tries to scream something at him, her voice muffled, a hand stretched out between its curling like she tries to reach for him.

Then the world tilts and blurs by in a vertiginous wash of colours, Jane pulled along in the same monstrous fist the Empusa uses to strike at its new aggressors. She shrieks, still muffled, thrown backwards and forwards on her non-consensual roller coaster ride. And she hates roller coasters. She HATES roller coasters.

Jane's terror tics back up when she loses sight of the Soldier, struggling in her own climbing hysteria. Out of her peripherals, she can see the efforts of others coming in — people she's never seen — heroes, she thinks? Heroes?! Heroes and — Quill?! And someone shooting WHAT out of his WHATS?

She has to TELL them. She has to tell them, somehow, wrenching her head violently to try to free her mouth, taking in a sucking breath —

— and /screaming/ the entire way as the Empusa THROWS them both into the air so fast she can taste her small intestine.


[EXT. Demonic Invasion Site in Super Speed - New York City - USA]

Superman's perception has adjusted to his present speed by rendering the entire affair as if his actions were occurring at normal rate but the rest of existence were subjected to Hollywood speed-ramping techniques.

As he arrives upon the scene the arc of his descent carries him past the Winter Soldier and Caitlin as they execute their martial artistry. The hostage is in danger but it appears they're working on extricating her.

Carefully he navigates the hail of laser bolts whose relative speed is so much faster than everything else. Each seems well-aimed and none appear to overshoot their mark too widely so as to strike anyone he can see down range.

The rest of the crowd is his priority. Skimming the ground he flies into their midst..

Normal Speed Version..

And suddenly there is a wind? No, not a wind. A red-blue blur of motion; moving through the area and then into the crowd which seems to teleport one by one as if the blur subjected each to the special effects of a 70s sitcom. To normal cognition people seem to just vanish from frame creating a perimeter on the street that allows for more risky behaviors for battling extra-planar threats.

The time investment needed to move seventy-eight people was too costly..

Distraction, is what he assesses Caitlin needs but much of the cargo this beast carrying is currently very - fragile.

The blur materializes into Superman then the Man of Steel hovering within what would be an intimate social distance face-to-face. Then he exhales - a pale mist that can flash-freeze a lava low directly into its face.


"I'm /really/ glad she only tried to hit me with a table," Quill comments to no one in perticular as he notes Caitlin being dragged though debris without so much as a pause. Then his gaze is snapped back to the combat at hand at the creature from myth and legend screaches its annoyance to the world.

Quill. Being highly mature. Just wordlessly yells right back at it. Because thats what you do dammit.

That wordless roar of violence is cut short with a startled 'WOAH!' as he notes that he is suddenly a target of his own. He has a split second to weigh the options. Vader did pull a gun on him. But he didn't shoot him with the gun…


Time runs out though since the Winter Soldier is being propelled with supernatural levels of strength in a javelin like trajectry right for his skull.

"YOU OWE ME VADER!" He shouts as he aborts his shooting at to prevent the Winter Solder from being a pavement stain. Proving once again that he is not 100% a dick.

The guns are put up as he turns his boots on boost and tries to snag the hurling Soldier out of the air. Its not /hugging/ its saving. Just so we are clear on that.

Sadly his boots are designed to carry /one/ person into the air, maybe two. Not stop someone flying at OMGWTF speeds. And /one/ of those boots was /already broken a little/ thanks to /someone/. So it shouldn't be too much of a supprise that they do a little more than slow down the pair of them. Thankfully it won't be bone-crushing force when they slam into a building.

Quill is totally starting to hate this planet.


Well, this could have gone better.

The good news: that webbing hits its mark, becoming hard as steel in the open air as it adheres to Jane. With a little, mechanical whirr, those white lenses shutter in something approaching pride. "Alright, now then, I just have to very… gently…"

The bad news: the Empusa's grip is still as strong as ever and Spider-Man gets a first-hand look of just how strong it really is as it powerfully yanks its tremendous body forward. "Whoa whoa wait WAIT—" Everyone's Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man gets to play a tug-of-war he was not even remotely prepared for, for all of half a second before he goes flinging like a ragdoll after the demon.


Flipping through the air in a wild spiral, its only his preternatural sense of balance that lets Peter land on the back of the creature hands-and-feet first. Clinging onto its back as if he were scaling a wall, Spider-Man detaches that webbing as quickly as he can before ascending up the Empusa, looking to seal up whatever seeping toxic wounds he finds along the way, because seriously, that does -not look safe-. "Wow — I'm not one to judge — you only live once! — but you when your bodily fluids start requiring hazmat suits — you've REALLY got to start taking better care of yourself—"

Peter really tries his best not to feel like he's a parasite riding on an elephant or something but when this creature is lugging him around like an elephant oblivious to a parasite riding on its back it's -really hard-. So, he just busies himself flipping up onto the thing's shoulders, spreading his arms out to either side of him in preparation to web up the buildings on either side of him — intent to use the creature's own momentum against it to divert it from its path. He sucks in a breath. And then tries to reassure Jane.

"Hey so okay I'm not really sure what you did to piss off Krampus' angrier, fatter, weirder sibling — I mean I'm guessing it has something to do with that shirt if I'm being honest but it's just theory — but don't worry, I'm going to save you right about—"

He presses his fingers down on his palms. Nothing comes out.

"—now?? Uhh."

Press. Press. Presspresspress. By some sort of STRANGE, LITERARY FLUKE, the webshooters just make sad, pathetic 'pffffft' sounds like someone fat and lazy and giving up.

"— uhhhh your salvation might take a little while longer — OH MY GOD IS THAT SUPERMAN??"

He's got his priorities in order. Definitely.


Jane looks up at him, and pure relief breaks over her face. The Winter Soldier looks, starts to look away— and something yanks his gaze back. He looks at her pensively for half a brief moment, as if sure he's seen people look at him like that before— with relief, and not with fear.

Then his mind clicks back into place. With impeccable balance, the Winter Soldier twists on the narrow balance beam of the creature's wrist, anticipating reprisal from the other hand. Unslinging a carbine, he flips it into his hands and starts preemptively firing, intent on deterring that counteroffensive at the very least. When combined with the uppercut from that sudden Amazonian bombshell redhead, it should be—

Huh. Vader?

A familiar annoying voice rings through the air. Something spazzes out in the Soldier's mind. His finger pauses on the trigger and his attention swings over to the left one critical moment too long. Claws shut around him a second later— claws steaming with toxic vapor. The Soldier grits his teeth, holds his breath, but he gets his arms free. The rifle aims upwards, the Soldier squinting down the sights as he burst fires at the creature's eyes.

The thing doesn't like anything that's going on. So naturally, it takes that out on the Soldier in its grip.

Flung hard, the Winter Soldier twists in the air with the agility of a cat. His hand goes for his belt—

—and he feels himself hit something that definitely isn't pavement or a wall. Something that's yelling at him.

"I DON'T OWE YOU SHIT," the Soldier answers Quill with extreme agitation, though he kinda belies that by choosing NOT to kick Peter free when he finally gets his grapnel free and fires it at a fire escape, using it to assist even further in slowing the both of them.


As Captain America wheels the corner, he sees a shocking display. He thought he would be a first responder to deal with this threat, but it appears the war against the demon has already begun. There are familiar faces involved with this fight for sure… A good number actually. Weapons fire and brutal melee combat make for a chaotic scene.

With combat experienced eyes, Steve assesses the scene, understanding all the working pieces that knowingly or accidently are working in concert: Superman is doing damage control and protect civilians, Spider-Man is attempting to save the woman in question who appears to be: "Foster?" The spoken word of realization is swiftly discharged as Rogers finds other things to keep him busy. Fairchild is fighting that being up close in personal, attempting to help the man with web issues free the hostage. The 'Star-Lord' is helping Winter Soldier and? The thought of helping his friend while there is a chance rings out, but Steve grits his teeth and knows what comes first.

Still catching up to the fast paced scene on his cycle, Captain America figured he'll do his best to manage the situation in his own way. A hand lift up to his helm as he speaks into it, "We need to keep police and EMTs away from the situation until it's handled, it's currently very dangerous! We need blockades on the following roads to ensure that the fighting is contained."

As the fighting seems to close in toward the construction area, Rogers smiles. There we go, superhero prime fighting grounds. Of course, he's not involved with the conflict and he doesn't really command any of this people, so he tries his best.

"It's highly recommended we get the creature toward the construction site? Thanks for your help!"

With his order/request given, Rogers moves his bike up and forward. His shield slides from the bike and over the arm, preparing for any possible attack. But Cap doesn't go on the offensive, instead he tries to stay on the outside of the battle, only coming in close to try and push the demon with his shield (or throw it if the monster is too high). His goal is simple; to do everything he can to herd the creature toward a place far easier to manage damage control.


Caitlin's assault is excruciating. She can feel the dense core of the beast's body crack, pop, collapse millimeters at a time as she bears down on it, and feel the beast's pulse, laboring at an alien rhythm, fighting to supply its hand with blood against the pressure of her grip. What physical pain is to a demoness — goddess, if you ask some — is not clear, but there can be no question that it feels /something/ very like agony…which makes one wonder just why it feels that Jane Foster is so mandatory a prize. The city is full of countless human beings; if it's just hungry, why not just drop her and run?

Hellish agility guides it up and over the building at top speed, even as it repeatedly /SNAPS/ its angler-fish jaws at the leggy redhead clinging to its wrist and crushing splinters off of whatever passes for its skeleton, sharp shards that needle its flesh from the inside. It misses her every time, which only sends it into further fits of agitation. It is not accustomed to dealing with prey capable of moving more quickly than it is. And if it thinks Caitlin is bad, it's about to find out the hard way that there are some things even faster than Caitlin Fairchild.

One of them appears out of virtually nowhere in front of the Empusa just as she reaches the lip of the building's edge. She's been so distracted with Caitlin — and at this point she's been shot in the eyes repeatedly — that she never had any hope of noticing Superman before it's too late. And it cannot possibly comprehend what happens to it, when that misting exhale blooms across its alien face, and frost penetrates its being so deeply that every last supple part of it is suddenly locked solid as though made of ice — all but the head, which is wreathed in flames of an entirely Non-Traditional sort.

All that means, though, is that it's capable of shrieking its ear-splitting, skull-vibrating dismay as its momentum carries it over the edge of the building and into the construction site. Even if it had been fast enough to change direction at the last moment, there is Captain America, prepared to herd it onward, and he's more than sufficient to compel that. It uses its last moments of bodily control to whip itself in a twist that holds Jane above it, its prize: whatever it wants from her, it doesn't want her smeared across the pavement, fortunately for Jane.

Unfortunately, it does mean Jane is now super-frozen inside of the demoness' hand as it comes careening six stories downward and lands in the gravel and dirt, pieces of its body explosively detonating off of it like shattered glass. The rest of it, maimed but not quite dead, skids to a rigid stop.

And all is well. Right? …Right?

Not quite.

There is a reek in the air. Rotting meat. And the sound of soft skittering, of hissing, of mewling that could never come from a human being's throat, nor that of any terran beast.

The shadows come alive with movement, scraps of darkness skittering, descending concrete pilings head-first, eyes and mouths too large for the undernourished, sickly-transparent bodies.

The Empusa may have wanted Jane because of a personal grudge, but it was desperate to keep her because /it has a nest/.


Caitlin abandons trying to break the demon's wrist when it goes flying through the air. She closes her eyes and sets herself against the cold— miserable, biting cold— but it is only pain. It's only uncomfortable, unable to really penetrate that superhuman muscle and flesh to freeze her core.

She abandons her fight and instead helps protect the terrified scientist trapped in the Empusa's grip, wrapping herself around Jane like a living, breathing shock cage, the entire ride down trying to remind herself not to grip Jane Foster tight enough to do her real harm. Protect the brain and neck— Caitlin shoves Jane's face against her chest (the only soft spot on the redhead) and grips the base of her spine, forming a brace to keep it all aligned.

It's remarkable how clearly one can think while plummeting most of six stories.

She absorbs all the impact on her back and shoulders, forcing herself to flex, to spread out the hard landing. They hit so hard they bounce, and land on Cait's knees and elbows, then again on her back, and finally they come to a halt, Caitlin sprawled over Jane to spare her the worst of it.

"….oww," she wheezes. A six story flop onto her back is apparently enough to knock the wind out of even the mighty ginger scrapper, but the hissing, otherworldly crackle of teeth and sinew and slavering jaw widens her eyes. She grips Jane in one arm, almost like a baby, and starts trying to get her back to a wall and put as much of herself between Jane and the monsters as possible. Blood drips from her arms and legs, the result of a few lucky slashes and impacts with the world during the wild ride.

Caitlin curls one hand into a fist, holding it out level like she would a shield.

"Uh…I could use some help down here," she says, her voice a bit weak, as the monsters starts scuttling closer.


"NEXT TIME I LET YOU PANCAKE!" Quill shoots back as he sees Bucky fling out that grapel. Grumbling and growling he adjusts his one remaining fully working boot and points it directly back. He boots it into overload, internally wincing at the fact that he'll now need repairs for both damn boots.

However the boots power, combined with the anchor point does exactly what the pilot wanted. They start to swing.

See. He can be competant when he wants to be.

As the rocket assisted swing takes them back in the direction of the mayhem that is the rest of the hero community zeroing in on a giant effin' demon.

"Annnnd…now…" With pinpoint accuracy Quill shoots the rope.

This might come as some shock to Bucky, but he can roll with it.

Tumbling though the air, the pilot grins like a madman behind that mask of his as he reaches terminal velocity in a controlled dive towards a pack of demonlings.

The last second he flips, his boots producing one last boost of power to slow his fall just enough so that instead of splattering he /slides/ across the concreate even as the slavering baby demons come charging out of the shadows.

"I hope Rocket was right about these…" He mutters as he towards the demons and flings what looks like a handfull of marbles at a quarter of the rushing horde. Covering Jane and Cait from at least some of the monsters.

Smoke trails from his boots, his jacket flares dramaticly, and he raises one pistol. "Boom."

For the record, Cherry Bomb is playing on the battered Walkman.

The shot sets off whatever it was that Rocket made and there is a rippling sheet of flame as the 'marbles' explode. Heat and debris arcs away from Star-lord and others and into the ruined construction yard. …though the little marbles release /other/ little marbles.

That explode.

And then a third time.

"…man Rocket, I really need to get a a new hobby…" He mutters as bits of demon rain down all over the construction yard.


That is -cold-. Even from the outskirts of it, Spider-Man can feel the sub-freezing chill whisk across his spandex-covered legs as he flips onto the demon's strange, semi-transluscent back to hide from the billowing blizzard blasting from Superman's breath. He feels his toes go numb as he flattens against the creature, white lenses widening with shock.

"W-w-w-wow that wuh-wuh-was so coo-coo-ool!!" the young hero enthuses. "… d-did I just make a pu-pun??"

He has no time to wonder over his burgeoning wordplay prowess, however. Superman does what Superman does best, and the Empusa is taken out of the picture in record time and is sent toppling in a wild descent towards the hard earth below. His spider-sense helpfully tingles to inform him he is about to die painfully.

"Aw crap this is bad this is bad this is really really bad—" Not one to stick around and wait to get flattened into the earth by gravity and a demon made out of toxic fat or something, Parker reacts immediately, bending flexible muscles and sinew to coil in on himself on the creature's back before -bounding- off of it. The result has him whipping through the air in ways that would put a gymnast to shame, if not for the way he's swinging his arms around him and chanting, "Please work please work please work please work" as he presses the triggers on his webslingers over and over again. Really, he knows what he's doing, it's just — a bad day. And right when he's meeting all his idols, too, and some other weirdos!

It's his great — and lone — fortune that his infamous bad luck does not quite end with his death tonight. With an organic sound of unleashing adhesive, those shooters spring back to life: the first shot is aimed for the ground in an attempt to provide a shield of webbing for Caitlinn and Jane just as those creaures lunge to protect the Very Fragile Scientist as best he can from his position; the second slings a string of webbing into the scaffolding, the rebound slingshotting him up higher into the construction site.

He lands — and he has every intention of joining the fray again to fend off those creatures. "Yes! Take -that-, fate! Looks like things are finally looking—" But before he does, his spider-sense tingles. Painfully. Parker looks up; behind the mask, hazel eyes widen.


And he finds himself staring at a large clutch of bizarre, otherworldly, eggs. "Oh, come on."

A span of a second passes for what seems like one tense eternity. "Uhm. Hey, guys? I think we got a like… evil gross blubbery monster breeding shack situation going on here…" But with everyone else busy not being eaten, the young Spider-Man heaves a sigh, slinging a web as he launches himself towards the egg clutch with all the proportional recklessness of a spider.

"I am NOT looking forward to reading a headline about how I'm building a toxic mutant spider nest in Brooklyn—"


It's not turning out to be Jane Foster's best day.

When those claws shut around the Winter Soldier, right in her precarious line of sight, the tiny pajama'd woman's fight kicks up twice as hard — feeling her heart drop out and her insides twist painfully. She loses sight of him and he takes her hope with, desperately trying to crane her head past the vice-hold of those claws — and only losing all sight to see AT ALL when the Empusa shakes her violently around, briefly upside-down as the ground rushes lethally by.

Then it all seems to get worse, becaues things always can, things always will, when a red-blue underoo'd SOMETHING sticks something to her arm — don't think about it, Jane, don't think about it — and begins chattering such things that leave her brown eyes glazing over a thousand-mile stare. She can't talk back, not with the claw around her mouth, but when he talking about fatter, weirder siblings, her eyes widen and she begins nodding IN CLEAR EMPHATIC APPROVAL — keep doing that KEEP DOING THAT —

The Empusa bowls them straight into the air, straight up a building, so fast that Jane uses her newly-freed mouth to let loose a fading-doppler scream.

It happens so fast, the whistling wind watering her eyes, the scream of velocity stealing the sound from her ears, that Jane can only see swathes of colour, hear her own frantic blood rushing past. Cold comes in, a shock of it worse than the winter air, and though it doesn't touch her, it seems to freeze those claws around her, holding them in some permanent rigor mortis chain-locked around her body. She shakes violently, unable to comprehend so quickly what is even happening —

— and she falls.

There is no time to scream, or fight, or even think — only for terror, only for the panic of the wind rushing by as hypoxia eats at her mind, threatening to just pull the woman under. Only then, numbly, through the cold, she feels someone her, and a distant warmth of contact, and someone's hands who hold her still.

Something absorbs the impact. The demon's frozen, shattering body first, and Caitlin second, and the tiny Dr. Foster slings brokenly, consciousness returning like one last punishment from the world, because God would she really like to sleep.

Jane comes to somewhere when Caitlin grabs her, her eyes focusing when — oh. She's a clever one. She starts to get it. Held up, geeky pajames and bare feet and all, by a woman she's never seen before — bloody and beaten up and probably just SAVED her — she begins to animate, struggling like she'd like to be let down, because she really wants to be on her feet right now. "Oh God. Ohhhhh God. Oh — um, don't ask me," are the first, breathless words out of her, "the — big one. Empusa, I — I guess the mother? You have to insult her! Do we insult these too? You GOT DEADBEAT-DADDED, YOU LITTLE MITOTIC DAMIEN REJECTED P—"

Or grenades happen. "Or — that?!"


As the monster is placed where he needs to be, Captain America is content. Now the stronger heroes can just mash it into a pulp, so his aid won't be needed. While it's regretful that he won't get into a good bout of fisticuffs, it's best to leave this to those that are able to take a much harder hit. And…. "Swarms of evil, I see," he notices. He doesn't believe that they would surrender, so for now, he doesn't offer the choice. Last time he asked demons to surrender and they laughed they hurt his feelings so much. So. Very. Much. Not that he would ever show such things.

So instead, the First Avenger rides straight for one of the hoards away from innocents or heroes. At the last second before reaching them, Cap puts a hard brake on the front wheel, causing it to come up and over before he kicks off it to send it right for the demons. A hand moves toward his belt where he presses a simple button, which sends it up in a MASSIVE EXPLOSION.

Meanwhile in the van, the woman SHIELD agent states darkly as she watches the fight from a drone, "I don't think he even CARES about the monthly expense reports."

Now on foot, the super-soldier charges into the fray that is not moving in Caitlin on Jane, making sure they don't sneak away to kill random people or make reality shows on MTV, both of which Cap would find unacceptable. The hum of uniquely alloyed shield pairs well with the sounds of his fists seeking to rival the sounds of the demons with whatever demon sounds they make while fighting.

"We can't let any of them escape!" he strongly recommends before remembering that no one takes orders from him. "Please!" This is really going to take some getting used to.


"I WOULDN'T HAVE," some buried fragment of Bucky Barnes bickers back, but the Winter Soldier's mind is only half on arguing with Peter Quill. The grapnel flies out and secures, providing a much-needing point of stability, and— catching on quick— Peter fires his rocket boot and transforms their tumble through the air into a breakneck swing straight past the building and over the construction site where the Empusa collapsed.

This is fine with the Soldier.

Somewhere midway through their crazed flight, the Soldier disengages from Quill and grapples away again, twisting through the air to hit the wall of one of the buildings overlooking the construction site. He slides down the brick in a controlled descent, left arm throwing up sparks, landing eventually on a terrace a few stories up. Where he temporarily vanishes from view.

A few moments pass. Captain America shouts something about how none of the monsters can be allowed to escape.

Then a faint whistling through the air heralds the descent of something vaguely bullet-shaped, except way too big and slow to be an actual bullet. The grenade arcs down through the air, into a pocket of the smaller demons scuttling out across the open space. And there, it detonates.

A second follows, aimed into another pack. Then a third, explosives spread through the swarm with controlled precision. And the number will go all the way up to six, because that's when the grenade launcher the Soldier is holding will need a reload.


What better way to break eggs than to swing through them, with the proportional tensile strength of a spider? And so Peter Parker shoots his web-line and follows that graceful, sinuous arc into the center of a pile of eggs that are iridescent, like mother-of-pearl. They might even be beautiful if not for the unholy reek of the mucous envelopes containing them, and the faint shadows twitching within in embryonic dreams.

Dreams that he shatters with is spider-feet. Multiple eggs explode as though riddled with bullets, and most of the contents slop out and ooze across the cement, inert, too nascent to live.

Not all, though. On his outswing there's a sharp stinging sensation followed by a perhaps worrying numbness in his lower leg. The thing with its teeth in the meat of his calf is still all eyes, like its brethren, little more than cartilage with organs attached. Its slim, flexible body winds itself around his ankle.

Below, the wounds of the main demoness are beginning to leak again, toxic gasses rising from the great weals opened in her flesh. The bitter cold that snap-froze her body is beginning to thaw, beginning closest to the flames of her hair, and that process is hastened along as her offspring are detonated like just so much flak. Their death-cries, or perhaps some innate sense of their peril — and that of the unhatched brood above — sends her into a frenzy of panic, limbs thrashing, her cries taking turn for the plaintive, nictating eyes wide…or, rather, wider than usual. In spite of her bestial qualities she is quite clearly feminine, and the expression on her alien face is one of wild animal incomprehension. She never asked for this, never asked to be summoned somewhere she didn't belong, and if she ate people — well, she had to eat, didn't she? And in such fertile feeding grounds, should she not make a nest?

The parts of her body shredded away from her are already beginning to dissolve.


Caitlin whirls around and pasts Jane Foster against the wall, facefirst, and covering her ears with both hands. Uncomfortable and awkward— at least, until the explosives start detonating. Caitlin puts herself between Jane and the detonating bombs, shrapnel peppering her broad back and shredding her uniform as repeated bursts of shrapnel rip at her invulnerable skin. The detonations are almost more uncomfortable than the explosives themselves, but it's clear this isn't a tenable position to be in. Caitlin looks over her shoulder as Spoder-Mang— er, Spider-Man— swings through the eggs.

It gives her an idea, particular with Captain America's stentorian voice of Patriotic Authority ringing in her ears.

"Cap is right! We can't let any of them get loose!"

"I've got a plan!" Caitlin shouts, bellowing loud enough to be heard two blocks away. "Cap! Keep them herded this way!" she shouts. "Spider-Man! Get nets up, don't let any of them out!"

"I'm really sorry about this, miss," Caitlin says to Jane, sounding seriously remorseful. "Jet-boot dude!" she yells at Star-Lord. "Get her clear!" — then she tosses Jane in a high, looping arc near Peter Quill's position, a softball special.

Trusting the other hero to dynamically intercept Jane Foster in a cinematically appropriate manner and abscond with her to somewhere safe, Caitlin turns then and looks around, swatting off bugs attempting to chew through her impenetrable skin, muttering under her breath, something about 'structural load-bearing units'.

Then the redhead is off like a juggernaut, gaining an improbable amount of speed in the space of twenty yards, and slams fistfirst into an interior wall. More demons pour onto her— cutting, biting, spitting, trying to slow her down, as if sensing her efforts.

Caitlin punches once. Twice. Three times. Concrete cracks and explodes, flying away, revealing the load-bearing internal cables that keep the building's internal structure stable. Caitlin grabs them in her hands, sets her hips, and twists her entire body, shouting for extra effort.

The first cable snaps with the noise of the world's biggest guitar string breaking, and then the next, and then next— and then the building shudders and as majestically as a landslide in slow motion, the entire six-story structure starts to collapse like a flan in a cupboard, falling inwards as the internal supports are neatly sabotaged by the redhead's mighty thews.


The unfortunate demoness writhes, broken and maimed, on the construction site ground. Her back arches, her face twisting up in panic and agony at the sound of her children dying and screaming. She didn't ask to be brought here. She didn't ask to have to survive in this hostile world. She made the best of it, and now her babies are being torn apart.

She twists on the ground, crawling towards her babies, perhaps trying to shield them from the impending threat of that collapsing building as it crumbles in slow motion, inwards—

—and there is a deep, booming crack as a .50 caliber round flies dead center for the demoness' face, right as she reaches for her babies.

Up on his perch, the Winter Soldier looks up briefly from the scope of his sniper rifle. He gauges the situation a moment, watching for effect, then lowers his eye back to the scope and fires again, for good measure.


It seems the area around Quill is clear for a heartbeat as fire and destruction rain all around him. He nods for a moment before his pistols snap out again, because it seems that damn demon had a lot of kids. Like a lot a lot.

More than that.

We arn't even considering what happened to the dads either.

Eight legged freaks chitter out of the shadows and the paired pistols fire faster that most people could count. Every fiery bolt finds an eye or a body. For all his swagger he seems at least able to back up some of it.

'Hey! Jet-boot dude!'

His head snaps up at the call and he sees Princess Science arching though the air. "Oh balls." He mutters before he's running again. Stomping though gore and demonkids to make it to a point he can actually jet-leap enough to catch her. He does, once again coat flaring dramticly in the light. A perfect princess catch that lands them above the swarm on a stack of debris. The faceplate retracts, the light gleams off his grin just so. Framing his perfect hair and rakish smile.

"Well. One good thing about Terra. Angels do fall from the sky."


Caitlin whips a water bottle at the back of Peter's head as he takes a minute to hover and deliver a one liner while she's analyzing the structural weakness of the building.



And in a fit of perfect timing, that water bottle flung by a exasperated bout of super strength connects with the back of Peter Quill's massive ego-filled head and knocks him forwards.

Right into Jane.

This is going to get awkward isn't it?

Naw. It'll be fine.

Yeah. It'll be fiiiiiiiiine.


One second later, a piece of debris right over Quill's head /explodes/ as another .50 caliber round decimates it.

A couple hundred yards off to the left, light glints disapprovingly off a scope aimed their way.




Spider-Man's victory celebration for vanquishing the clutch is a parade of embryonic fluids gushing over his poor spider-body in thick, smelly goop that reeks so badly it feels like it's sinking into his soul. Eggs shatter and burst in a rain of weaponized shrapnel shells, helping to domino effect their way into other eggs as Parker bowls through them shoulder-first. The gunk is still clinging onto him tenaciously as he plows past and tumbles across the ground in a stringy mess of fluid and shell chunks.

"GUH— worst… idea… to date," sputters Spider-Man with a spasmic sigh as he drags himself up. "Oh god I think some of it got through the mask, why don't they ever tell you how gross being a superhero is — wait — why's my leg feel numb?"

Parker blinks. Looks down. The lenses of his mask slowly squint into little white slits as he stares at the creature gnawing on his ankle.

"Oh. Okay. That makes sense." And with a voice remarkably flat, he calmly turns — and then starts swinging his leg about through the air wildly.

"Get off get off get OFF I don't want powers proportional to some Cloverfield monster reject—!"

Spider-Man is in the process of trying to web up the creature's mouth and stick it to the nearby scaffolding when he hears that voice. Webbing flying, he peers at Caitlinn. "Wow, that's a pair of lungs," is his first, astute observation at the redhead's mighty bellow. But he quickly grasps what her intent is, eyes widening a touch behind his mask before he's already on the move once more.

And he's fast. Very, very fast when he wants to be; securing a webline to a nearby rebar, Parker becomes a blur of motion as he swings around the building. At every opportunity he sees, adhesive goes flying at calculated trajectories to create barriers of web to impede the creatures' paths, from one entrance to the next as he swings about the construction site at record speeds.

"You know — you ever have those dreams — where it's your first day of class — and you're trying to make a good first impression — and you realize you're in your underwear??" he chats conversationally as he swings about, his voice fading and coming into focus over and over as he slings past various people to spin nets up in front of their targets, even as the structure starts to groan dangerously around him with the sound of Fairchild's rampage. He feels his spider-sense starting to go ballistic. He ignores it for now. He has to time this perfectly…!

"I think — I'd rather be — dealing with that — then whatever this stench is going on inside my nostrils right now—!!" A pause.

"So just — y'know — fair warning."


The drone that the SHIELD handlers were talking about seems to be visible now, lowering itself to get a better view of the fighting. Oddly enough, the attention of its camera seems to be away from the collapsing building and Fairchild's. Not even on Spider-Man to sell the video for JJJ who will likely use serious video editing to make it look like he's commanding the demon or throwing demon babies at children. Instead, the flying drone seems to be moving toward the rooftop where a certain robot-armed is taking the shots. A flashback to a previous time where a certain sniper had his back causes Captain America to look up and see that the SHIELD surveillance is moving toward the Winter Soldier. Remembering a certain conversation with Agent Carter, Steve frowns. "We need eyes on the building, see how many heat signatures we still got." It's rare that the man knows what tech is needed, but sometimes, he remembers what he needs to when it counts.

"Of course," the male handler states as the drone moves back.

Somewhere in a darkened office, a figure clad in shadow watches the drone's feed, hearing Captain America's words with a small frown. "It is always sad when people lose sight of what matters. Seems like Ms. Carter's influence has rubbed off on him."

"Sir, aren't your worried about Rogers getting to Barnes? If he does-"

"Then we'll likely have the chance to tie two loose ends with one string. That's always the problem with playing the hero." The dimmed desk light is just high enough to show the glint of a confident grin. "Accidents happen."

Meanwhile, at the construction site and unaware of complicated politics involving him, Captain America hears something that tears his attention from the drone: a baby creature that has leapt onto him and is tearing at his neck. Thankfully, Cap moves with the speed to throw off the thing off before it tears anything vital. There is only a couple of gnashes around the shoulder area of Cap to show the creature was there at all. Steve merely ends its life with a simple stomp to the neck, as if returning the favor.


So much happens. Grenades, opening eggs, what she figures is that same, talkative guy in the — ant costume? Ant Man? — and —

Jane's eyes widen. Captain America? It reminds her — James. The Soldier. She saw him, and saw him get thrown, and hasn't seen him, and — she needs to think. Needs to pace herself and think. She's the scientist here, the academic, the professional, and she might be wearing her pajamas and her really embarrassing Darth Vader lawnmower shirt, but she can adapt. She's still alive, still has her limbs, and can still think.

She offers up her absolutely logical and not-ridiculous instruction for how to deal with the Empusa, and instead — gets apologized at. "What?" asks Dr. Foster, world-class astrophysicist.

And then she's thrown like a volley ball right into the air, shrieking the entire way. NOT AGAIN.

Feeling the wind careen by and her stomach drop out at the apex of the throw, Jane yelps as she's — caught, pulled from the frying pan into the fire, landing neatly into the daring and heroic arms of Peter Quill, who taps away his faceplate in time to give her the smoulder. And that line.

Jane's mouth twitches at one corner. "For Christ's — just get me back down there, I need to hMMF"


Tearing herself free, Jane just up and tries to SLAP him across the face. "You — /JERK/ — " Right about when a piece of a building EXPLODES right past Quill's head.


Two shots to the head, nice and neat, leave anything but a nice, neat result. The Empusa abruptly stops moving, officially Dead, capital 'D.' The size of the rounds fired into the head leave a bowl-shaped depression in the packed earth beneath it, into which its rapidly liquefying body puddles as noxious slurry. Soon all that will remain is the bronze spike of its lower left leg, no trace of the rest of it to be found.

Nasty vibrations whine through the building's temporary cable supports. Peter Parker's intervention with webbed barricades could not have come too soon, as those juvenile Empusae that remain have enough survival instincts left to scatter once they sense that their most likely protector has expired. They hurl themselves at the open spaces, intent on escape, and in every case are foiled by the sticky tangle of webbing, only succeeding in worsening their situation as they struggle to free themselves.

There is a sudden /CRACK/ as the first significant structural support of the half-constructed building gives way. Everything shudders. The ground beneath them trembles. A massive hoving pile of dirt rises on the lever action of the buried length of the support as the building compresses it on an angle.

On upper floors, tables containing half-used pressure-treated wood and power tools jangle, slide, crash into walls and pillars. Debris begins to rain from up above. Pieces of concrete shred as the floors skew and crack, stitched together only by the rebar contained within the center. There are precious few moments for those within to escape before the entire thing comes crashing down.

It all piles inward on itself, on the eggs, the beasts that should never have been called to this plane in the first place. Every last trace of the atrocity that the heroes came here to eradicate disappears beneath mundane mortar, concrete, twisted and shrieking metal. Dust explodes delicately upward into a cloud that mushrooms against the pale, grey sky.

Brooklyn may never know how close it came to hellish disaster.


Considering that Caitlin is taking the thing down and Spider-Man has trapped them, there is little for the American Hero to do. Not that Cap minds, though he definitely feels like he didn't 'pull his weight', far too used to handling a problem on his own. A glance is given toward the web-slinger, Steve's eyes narrowing as he tries to figure out who he is. It takes a bit, but he remembers watching some sort of interview with some guy yelling at the top of his lungs about how he was destroying America while chomping a cigar. Oh, he remembers the name of the picture they were showing.

"And thanks to you, Spider-Boy! You definitely are a natural at this."

Rogers was close! Really really close.

The hero does an inventory of the heroes gathered. Quill, check. Foster, check. Barnes, tragic check. Superman, check, Spider-Boy, check. Fairchild, ch-wait. As the smoke continues to clear, Cap doesn't see the red-haired heroine anywhere. Cursing under his breath with a soft "suger bears", he races to the wreckage, trying to pull out pieces of debris to hopefully uncover her.


Well that was unexpected. There is a moment of confusion on Quill's face when Jane jerks back. "Strawberries?" Then there is a hand rocketing towards his face. Five fingers defintally have something to say to him and that stinging sensation is a familiar one thoughout most of his storied adventures.

"Something hit me!!" He replies before a chunk of masonry is blown entirely apart.

"OH MY GOD YOU TWO ARE SO POSESSIVE!!" He shouts before turning towards the dissaproving glint of that scope and pointing right at Jane's head before mouthing the words.


Jane can of course hear those words before Quill peers back down at her. "Tell your boyfriend to stop shooting people trying to save you from death by demon! My god. Just sleep with him. Maybe it'll mellow him out!"

Saying that he /will/ put her down. All among the spider guts as the building just collapses right behind them.

There is a pause again.

"And people say /I'm/ destructive!"


IF YOU WANT HER YOU CAN HAVE HER, Peter signals. Through the scope, a blue eye appraises this.

The disapproving glint of the scope disappears.

A moment later, the Winter Soldier straightens up on his terrace and hooks his rifle back into its sling, moving quickly and efficiently with the fluency of long decades of experience. The launcher is similarly stowed, secured high on his hip. This was already enough of a detour, and there are way too many personages around that he doesn't want to stick around to have conversations with. Especially the one with the shield, the one who accosted him so recently, the one who made his head hurt—

He glances up, as if on instinct. His masked features notice the drone coming closer, but before he can fire upon it, for some reason… it starts edging away again.

The Soldier frowns behind his mask. Leaning briefly out over the terrace rail, he looks between Jane, and then Steve. Then he turns away and vanishes silently from the terrace.


He needs to keep going. He needs to. He doesn't know if he can survive a building falling on him — honestly, Peter still doesn't know much of his actual limits and he isn't exactly eager to find out — but he's also not about to let a single one of these creatures escape. Webs of steely adhesives spring up in thick labyrinthine walls to cut off each of the Empusae as the children try to flee. He'd feel terrible about it if they weren't gross, man-eating monsters, but they are, and he's too busy trying to make sure his city isn't turned into a feeding ground. Maybe later.

He can't stop though. And he doesn't. Not even as that extrasensory warning goes off like a hellacious foghorn inside his mind, not even as concrete and metal rains down around him. He weaves through jagged chunks of metal as he traps in the remaining monstrosities, relief painting his features. Alright. It's done. Now they just need to get out of this. His attention turns towards Fairchild as the building starts to come down all around them, his body tensing as he snaps a string of webbing to connect to a nearby building.

"C'mon!!" shouts the Spider, his other hand swinging in the redhead's direction. Ring and middle finger squeeze into his palm as he triggers another web. He can get her out. He can get them both out. He can—

he could. He could, if not for the rebar that strikes him right as that web goes flying — right as he tugs back in a motion that -should- have been designed to perfectly yank the both of them out of the building. But instead? That strand of webbing veers wildly off path even as he goes flinging backwards at maximum velocity, hazel eyes widening behind his mask. "No! Wait — get outta there NO—" He tries. He really tries. Cuts off that web line, tries to spring another, but it's too late. The timing is all off.

And as Spider-Man flies out of the building just before collapse, as the kinetic force blows him away like a ragdoll until he's striking ground shoulder-first in a heavy crunch of bone on pavement, the young man gets to see the building collapse on poor Caitlinn with no idea she's built to withstand things like 'entire structural collapse of six story construction sites.'

He's just going to lay there looking horrified for a minute before he gets to feel really stupid. He can't even feel terrible about how his idol gets his name TOTALLY WRONG.

Really, that's just -cruel-.


It all comes down on top of her. Thousands of tons of wreckage— concrete, girders, rubble, detritus. The dust cloud flies for a hundred yards in ever direction, a booming collapse that bangs at the eardrums and no doubt sends up consternating alarm from thousands of residents. A building collapsing in mid-town; there's a certain amount of modest pride that must go into Caitlin's work, sabotaging the building from within so neatly that it doesn't fall outside the worksite proper.

Some superhumans would have just pushed it over, after all.

Cap's strong enough, and others (presumably not the infatuated Peter Quill) pitch in to try and help, but there's an immense amount of wreckage. It seems improbable that anyone could have survived it.

But as the heroes pitch in to try and rescue Caitlin, as rescue efforts and city responders show up, there's a sound of weight shifting. Something moving under the mass. Rubble shifts alarmingly, slewing sideways in miniature landslides as something rises up from below. More demons? The last of the hatchlings? Some new foe?

With a crackle of breaking concrete, a slab that must weigh at least thirty tons rises up, and Caitlin heaves it overhead like a Crossfitter flipping a tire. She walks her way out from under it— too considerate to throw it aside where someone might get injured— and drops it heavily behind her, staggering a little. Blood cakes her cheek, her bare legs are scratched by many multitudinous claws, and her uniform's been shredded from her shoulders and back, barely hanging on by the neckline— but she plants her feet and stretches tall, shoulders heaving with the extertion of her escape.

"Uh… I'm not in trouble for knocking a building down, am I?"


All at once, Jane tries to twist in Peter Quill's HEROIC arms back to the source of the shot. It's so distant to make out detail, and her eyes are still watery from all her impromptu bouts of aerodynamics, but — it's him?! He's all right? She didn't see him after the Empusa grabbed him, and it might mean —

That's about when Quill tells her to get her boyfriend to stop shooting people. And to just sleep with him already.

There are really more important things to be worrying about, namely the Empusa, its hellish SPAWN that it somehow bred — seriously, asexual reproduction? she assumes? does it have a mate? probably mitotic? was it pregnant? oh, God, was it summoned while nine-months' demon pregnant, no WONDER it was in such a bad mood — the collapsing construction site, the Ant Man guy weaving webs who obviously has no idea how ants work, she should tell him, Captain America — has he seen James? is he aware? — and that woman who saved her, who saved her life, is somehow still down there, and, and, and —

Jane Foster still has time to round up and SLAP Peter Quill a second time. It doesn't work, because she's still pissed off! And she starts furiously smack smack smacking her hands on him because he is such an ENORMOUS BAG OF D—

He puts her down, and her tiny tornado tirade ends, as Jane hits on the ground, slips a bit on ankle-deep demon guts, and makes the most despairing face as it squelches and sucks wetly underfoot. Thankfully, what distracts her is Caitlin's superhuman resurrection, shrugging out of the dusting, metal and concrete-slabbed tomb and — to the scientist's widening eyes, at least — appearing otherwise unharmed.

Everyone — sans for one ghost story, disappearing from his rooftop — seems accounted for. Jane, for her part, hunches a little, hugging herself in her thin pajamas against the cold. "I'm ready to go home now."


Normally Peter Quill would happily have a shouting match with Jane all day long. A running Red-White-And-Blue hero catches his attention though as he peers towards the man. He seems to be running towards the rubble. Quill frowns just slightly at that before he glances around.

Princess Science? Urgh. Check.
Vader? Check. He really needs to get laid.
That Weird Web Guy? Yup. Cratered over there.
Hot-When-Angry? …wait where is she?

"Awwww man…" He muttered as he looked back towards the wreckage. "…she's under there isn't she?" He was just starting to turn when he gets slapped a SECOND time. Red handprint bright against his stubbled cheek. Ah yes. This is familiar territory for Peter Quill. At least she hasn't started with the stabbing yet. They /always/ start with the stabbing.

He raises one hand, one finger up. "Hold that thought." And he starts to turn to help the rescue crews work…

…when Fairchild just stands up from the rubble.

There is a pause, a look of definite appreciation as the woman stretches like that. Eyebrows raising just slightly. Then a flash of a grin.

"You totally are!" He calls out to her question. "You can make me that tomato bisque to make up for it!"

However Jane's last statement causes him to sigh slightly. Grumbling, glowering at the woman for just a moment the pilot then slips off his beloved coat and puts it around her shoulders. A noble gesture. It might actually win him points…

Of course then he raises his voice to the rescuers around. "Can someone take Princess Science here home? I would but I might get shot. Or slapped. Or shot /and/ slapped. Which man I'm telling you from experience /sucks/."

…and there go those points.


There is no sound from behind Peter Quill. But there is suddenly a presence.

The Winter Soldier rematerializes, having quietly scaled down from his perch and come around through the construction site without being noticed. He goes ahead and picks up Jane.

There is a moment where he notices Quill's coat is on her.

Then he walks right off with Jane anyway, clearly intent on taking a quiet and rather circuitous route to deposit her back at her home where she belongs. His supply chain around these parts is already fractured enough! He needs this repair station back in its proper place.


It doesn't take too terribly long before Spider-Man is back on his feet. He ignores the stinging in his shoulder to race over to the rubble after Cap. For such a svelte young man, Peter picks up gigantic chunks of rubble as if they weighed little more than a pillow might, the strange properties of his adhesive grip helping him in prying free chunks of metal and concrete and whatever else as he tries to find Fairchild. "C'mon — please, like, have found the one exact area in six floors of falling bone-crushing debris where nothing landed or something" he braces himself for the worst

—when she just kind of casually breaks out of the wreckage herself with nothing but her clothes being worse for wear. Spider-Man stops, mid-desperate tossing of an i-beam. Those wide, white lenses flicker in what might as well be a blink. Silence passes.

"Oh. Uh," and so, as foretold, Spider-Man stands there, feeling like an idiot, rubbing the back of his mask-encased head. "… I totally knew you were fine. I was just… lost… spider-phone."

If those words don't sound like they make a coherent sentence, it's probably because they don't. Awkward silence eclipses him.

"And it's Spider-Man!" he blurts out in a most delayed reaction, looking the good Captain's way. And then he remembers who he's talking to, THE MIGHTY WAR HERO AND FIRST SUPERHERO (EVER). "… sir. Huge honor, by the way. Never thought I'd — y'know — with — and — there's all these awesome people here, plus Rocketeer and Raiden I guess and I was uh — y'know — … good squashing Krampuses with you." Because he's still preeeetty convinced that's what was going on here.

"… Welp." And just like that, to save himself further embarassment, the good Spider-Man just immediately latches a web to a nearby building. "Gotta go! Spin class!" And off he flies (swings). Saved from further humiliation. Good job, Spider-Boy.



Caitlin is cut off by Peter's ramblings.


She blinks.

"Your ph—"

Then he's yelling at Captain America, and every time Caitlin reaches out to touch his arm (with a strangely polite diffidence and consideration for his person), he's ranting at someone or something else, leaving Caitlin feeling, weirdly warm and cozily, that she might /not/ be the most awkward person in the room.

Then Peter launches himself skywards and swings away while Caitlin's lips and curling around the first syllable of 'thank you', and leaving her wordless as he sails into the sunset, her fingers curling towards her palm on the verge of stopping him from leaving.

She slides off the debris, arms pinwheeling for balance, and blinks when Winter Soldier picks up Jane and just… walks off the designated damsel in distress, leaving her there awkwardly with Captain America and Peter Quill, and scratching at the very itchy venom-filled bites marking her already fast-healing flesh.

"Glad you were here, Cap," she tells her ally, standing closer to him than Peter. "I never would have thought about dealing with the eggs. That would have been a heck of a mess if they'd gotten out."

"…good catch," she tells Peter Quill, grudgingly paying the fellow a compliment— and she scowls at him as if /daring/ him to examine her ragged, torn uniform too closely.

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