Like the Wind

June 05, 2017:

Jessica Jones revisits Extra, now equipped with new and improved English. What she learns sends her on a desperate trek back to Stark Towers.

Shadowcrest Garden, Gotham City

Characters

NPCs: Extra, emitted by Iron Monger

Mentions: Just about everyone Jessica knows.

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

After the disastrous meeting between Extra and Six, Jess had needed a cool-down period. Sure, the fact that Extra speaks English now is a massive triumph. But the truth is, it had been emotional. It had been weird. It had told her that she’s really and truly on the crux of something so much bigger than anything she’s ever worked before…

And murders were already bigger than anything she’d ever worked before, truth be told. She is, after all, a PI, not a cop, even if she is also a God Damn Superhero (™).

The matter of Bucky’s arrest had also severely derailed her. It is a quiet, subdued, and somewhat shut-down woman who arrives at Shadowcrest today. Unfortunately, there is little she can do for Bucky right now that she hasn’t already done. There is still a murder case to be solved, and no good reason under the sun not to pursue it while she can, no matter how sad and shitty she feels. Her commitment to holding it together, to showing the grace Bucky has taught her, means doing what she thinks Bucky would do.

She thinks Bucky would chop wood. Whatever wood was before him to chop. She thinks he wouldn’t be best pleased with her if something horrible happened because she was staring sadly out the window, contemplating his impending trial and possible funeral.

She’d promised Extra she would return, with questions, and she gave her word that she would discuss his concerns with Six-point-Zero just as soon as she understood them. She had hoped by setting herself up as Six’s Warrior-Assistant that she could spare the hacker any stress. She is already beginning to suspect that this is the best service she could be doing for her friend, rather than poking any deeper into the issues of Kinsey Sheridan’s mysterious alter-ego.

After all, just as Kinsey herself was feeling that “her cup runneth over,” so too, is Jessica. The arrest of Bucky Barnes has put the final weight on her shoulders, the last one she can reasonably bear. She’s not sure she can help Kinsey with her other problem, at least not directly, at least not now, certainly not from New York. It pains her. But at least she’s doing something for her other friend, right here, right now.

She arrives dressed in jeans and a t-shirt that says Miss Scary on it, driving Trish’s vehicle yet again. She lets herself into the Shadowcrest garden, sparing it a wan smile. This was the first place she had come to feel really safe in the post-Kilgrave world. It will always hold a special place in her heart, even if her current couch-surfing campout is John’s heavily warded flat in New York, where she’d gotten two whole days of sound sleep after realizing that nobody from the spirit world would be spying on her there.

“Most Honorable Extra,” she calls out, even before she sees the robot. Really, she has philosophies about meeting lifeforms right where they are, on trying to make them as comfortable as possible. She is, as people have observed, an unlikely diplomat…

But she does have it in her when she manages to keep her temper and her language at bay.

—-

It flows like water, the impact of metal feet on the ground nearly silent, body shifting to account for the weight of this world's gravity, and the height from which it leaped. It's another tree, far at the end of the garden, one that Groot often has long conversations with before gnawing at it's bark. Extra had found this to be a most agreeable spot to meditate on all that had come before, and to contemplate this new avenue of communication it had unlocked.

Primitive. Raw. Lacking the context of history. It was difficult to truly make itself understood, and as it rose to it's full height to regard the Most Honorable Warrior Jessica Jones it steeled itself against the great task at hand: Explanation, without the specificity only it's own language can really provide.

"My honor is broken," begins the accented English, best described as 'digital' in inflection. "it will take many rotations to restore. But this is the first step. A tapestry must be drawn and woven by those of this iteration. I have run long enough, and will make my stand here, with it's Defenders."

The robot squares with the detective, waiting it seems for the tidal wave of what is to come. In truth it does not know what to expect from her, for it's usual operation has never had it sit and plot and plan. Not since the time before it knew Decimux as anything but a myth.

Not since the time before it betrayed it's clan.

—-

Jessica Jones draws to a stop before the sentient inorganic…for he can’t properly be called a robot, staring solemnly up at him. If he comes to understand, in time, the nuances of body language, facial expression, and tone, he might well find the human language has more nuance than he thinks.

She gestures to the ground, where she simply sits; they’d sat before, and she’s going to get comfortable for what will surely be a long discussion. She has many questions, but she will start by allowing him to say all he was so desperate to say to someone, even if he doesn’t get to say it to his intended target.

Above her head, the robot-formerly-known-as-Dunce bobs, burbles, and spins, not yet returned to his true master.

As gently as she can she says, “You’ve been trying to talk to us for months, and you didn’t get to say much to Six. Why don’t you start from the beginning, and tell me your story?”

It had occurred to her as she’d lain awake in her own apartment tossing and turning after their initial interaction that she did, in fact, know what it was like to be alone, to need to say things and to be unable to say them. It had occurred to her as the recently reawakened spectre of Kilgrave shouted at her like a dog through a wash of blue and purple in a hallucination she couldn’t shake. The circumstances? Hardly the same. But the sheer awfulness of that aspect of it? She can grasp.

She no more has it in her to deny him the ability to speak all he needs to say now than she has the ability to breathe, having drawn that parallel. It’s also a good place to start from an investigator’s perspective, which makes it a Win-Win.

—-

Six.

It had indeed tried to find her for many rotations of this world. In the end, it appeared that this world's concerns weighed heavily on the one it has sought, but not in the way Extra had anticipated. It is the truth Jessica speaks, desperation had culminated in another barrier, but this one was not of language. It was a barrier of the soul. Something that, for all of it's mechanical attributes, Extra seemed to have a firm understanding of. Whatever had ailed Six, Extra seemed to have understood at least. When Jessica sits, Extra leans down, a hand planting and it's body simply sweeping into position, legs crossing opposite of her with a disposition that could be described as relaxed.

Slowly, the mechanical man looks up and around, and as the breeze sweeps through the trees, it fixates on the way the leaves move.

"This world is very different from mine. All things here feed on your sun. All things on my world, are fed from The Core. It is also different in that there are many iterations of this world. Many different Honorable Warriors, with your designation. With your configuration. Some different, but core, the same." A slow nod, and it seems to be looking at Jessica again.

"My world was singular. My world was designed. It was not known to us at first. Decimux did not walk among us until many rotations, and many evolutions. The metal of my world gave us creation, and Decimux gave creation to the metal of my world. Your world is a multitude, layered against itself. Infinite but unique. My world was simply unique, every blade of silvergrass and every razorspire accounted for. All except for me."

It's head bows, photoreceptors fixed on some place between them, in the grass made not of metal, but something softer. Gravel almost fills it's voice, and something like sadness layers across it's digital tones.

"The clans were many, but mine was the clan of Ordus. The clan of thought and planning. We fought among the other clans as it was ordained. Conflict was perfection, and those who fell rose again in forms more suited for their battles. Our metal became their metal as battles were won, and their metal became ours as battles were lost. In this way, those who were victorious shaped the next wave of metal. This was the way of rotation. This was the way of my people. It was.. my way. You understand? My purpose. I betray this purpose, and speak to other clans. Only three remained. Why should we fight, I offered. Give away advantages, without war, and we could shape the metal together. But this is not the way of Decimux. And so, Decimux took me from the world he had created. Took me because I was not supposed to be. I was metal given form without loss of other metal, and I had halted his way. Brought a different way. For this, he destroyed my world. For this, he bent me to his will."

—-

For one who despaired of being able to explain he's doing well so far. It takes her no time to grasp that an iteration is a parallel universe. Universes of infinite Jessicas: PIs, Agents, Jewels, and perhaps even more. Infinite versions of everyone she's ever known, loved, and hated. The thought that had gotten her through her stint in Hydra-world…that there was a place where Brian, Alisa, and Phillip Jones lived to be proud of their daughter the hero— hadn't actually been a lie. Somewhere they're probably fine. Somewhere it's probably true.

The thought brings a stab of painful joy to her exhausted heart, but it doesn't steal her focus.

She is able to grasp that Decimux created a unique world, a world unique to the one universe where he chose to build it.

She listens to his tales of clans. "I think I understand," she says slowly. "Forced evolution. Designed to battle so that you could continue to grow through battle. You saw a different way to become better. You wanted peace."

She frowns. "It seems…insane…to destroy all of his other work just because you said something though. Why not just remove you, bend you to his will— and fuck him for doing that by the way—" Seriously, just how many Hydras, Kilgraves, and other mind controllers and slavers are out there? Fuck ALL of them. "But…why waste all of his other work?"

She winces…that's a bit of an interruption, and perhaps a segue that isn't called for right now. But…she wants to understand, and she supposes she hasn't veered too far outside of the conversational track.

—-

"It was not perfect."

There is no more horrible nor simple an answer than that. It cuts as sharply as the words that twist it from Extra's core. It cuts deep into the mechanical man's soul. They were not perfect.

"For Decimux, the Machine God, perfection is required. But he did not destroy me. Instead, he gifted me his God's Blood. It is what allows me to call upon the power of the Gigaplex. To see between iterations, to react before action takes hold. Because I was not accounted for, Decimux also gifted me a name. I did not understand this name until I understood your language." There is a slow look down and away, because some of Jessica's words are not entirely familiar.

What is a 'fuck' anyway?

"It makes sense to me now. It also tells me his ties to this world in all it's iterations is very strong. He values your language against the others of this world. Just as he values Six Point Zero. Many times, between those tasks he had assigned to Agency, I would see him speak to her. Many times he would send others to iterations he had not yet sanctified or evaluated, seeking her aid. I do not know the mind of the Machine God. It is impossible to fathom his vast nature."

When Extra looks back to Jessica, it straightens a little, as if drawing resolve from the very air around it.

"But perhaps it is not impossible to confront him before this world is unmade. Many forces align to keep it intact. They weave a tale in the very air." A hand raises then, and reality seems to distort where Extra's textured fingertips graze the barrier between worlds. "But those forces are in jeopardy. As they always are. Beings native to this iteration, who would protect it's fabric. Beings as powerful as Decimux, save for their confinement here. This is his advantage. I will not tell you the number of Gods I have slain, Gods native to iterations untold. They had no escape. They had no hope."

There is a beat, it's voice ever grim. "But no more."

—-

Now she starts to feel a little lost, so she backtracks slowly through his conversation. But first…comfort before questions.

"You want a different name?" she asks bluntly. "Something not picked out to insult and hurt you? Cause you can reinvent yourself if you want to."

She knows a thing or two about that.

But now it's time to get serious. "The God's Blood. Is that the shackle? Schism begged me for help, begged me to free her. You purged yourself of it somehow? Is that how you got free? And if you were able to purge yourself, can that be done for others?"

Okay. So she was wrong about all the different versions being tied together. They can just draw on the power of seeing the iterations, and perhaps…summon up any iteration that has taken the God's Blood. "Or…were you only able to free yourself because there is only one of you? When Schism and the others die and seem to come back…is he just summoning up some other version of them that drank the blood, but is unable to touch versions that didn't?"

Fuck. There might well be Agency Janes out there, just like Jane thought. There might be Agency Jessicas too, though she'd like to think there isn't a single version of herself that would drink THAT shit. "Why does he value Kinsey? How has she helped him? Why did her other iterations help him?"

She had been briefly afraid that Extra meant for Kinsey to be some sort of savior, a Chosen One she had no interest in being. This is a little bit of good news bad news, but she's glad she won't have to go back to her friend and report that. "Why does he unmake worlds? And…I don't understand this bit about weaving a tale. Who are the forces? The gods you say you've slain? Like Thor?"

Well. Thor did ask if Asgard's intervention would be required. And…that would explain why Itzpapalotl could gain an audience and make a bargain. Some gods, she bet, went for appeasement when confronted with a being that wanted to kill them. "What's Decimux's weakness? What do we need to do to get him to fuck off and go away?"

Forget the Guardians. This is seriously starting to sound like an Avengers-level problem.

—-

The questions come in rapid fire, and the tilt of Extra's head, those bird-like inflections here and there as the world of curiosity that surrounds Jessica Jones comes to surround the mechanical man as well. The moment of silence that follows is not promising, and it's gaze drops to the grass once more.

"I do not know all the answers to your questions. But.. I will try. he is my creator. My maker. I did as he told me to do because he is responsible for all that I am. It was not until he called me to my own world, now a barren sphere of reformed metal, to tell us of the next step of the Infiniplex that I remembered what he had done to my world, because of me. Because of the mistake. I do keep this name because it was a gift, and a reminder of my consequence. Six Point Zero feels weight, responsibility. I understand this. I too, do not want such a burden. But we do not choose the battlefield of our existence, only the manner in which we engage our enemies upon it."

Extra rises then, in one quick motion, and it is a reminder it is a creature made for movement beyond reason.

"Not all of the others come back. Seraphina has the ability to reform those who are damaged. Schism does not exist as you or I do. Her iterations are interconnected. As for the God's Blood, it still empowers my Momentium Core, as it empowers the others. It's effects are varied, and I do not understand them all. Except, that I am not like them. I am metal and cypher given form. They were flesh, and flesh does not conquer metal. Perhaps this is why they do as he asks. Or perhaps it is power alone."

The hand that Extra offers to Jessica is meant to pull her to her feet, and she will know that he is strong, like her, to some extent.

"I do not know the names of the Gods I have slain, just their forms. Great serpents. Creatures of lightning and thunder. A dark entity made of many wings. But they were not like Decimux, who cannot ever be fully known. They are not like Decimux, who exists in every iteration still formed, working towards the same goal. In this, I do not know his weakness, or his interest in Six Point Zero. Just that it exists, and that she is versed in The Source."

—-

She takes his hand, allowing him to pull her to her feet. He can't know that he's found his way onto a very short list— people who can touch her without freaking her out. But there seems to be something fundamentally decent about Extra, especially if he's telling the truth. He has been punished and horrifically for the crime of being a peacemaker. She has seen him save lives, lives she cares about. She thinks it's unlikely that he'd hurt her.

At least. Not in any of the ways she fears when people's touches bother her.

"Sorry to pepper you with so many questions. I have more, too. What can you tell me about Agent Holmes? Ace, go ahead and project his face there, buddy. Thanks."

The Agent's red-eyed face hovers in the air, courtesy of Ace.

She has no idea if Extra wants to walk about or take her someplace or what, but she wants to ask her questions while she gets the chance. He doesn't know everything, but…the idea that the answer to the entire puzzle might have been hiding in that head of his was far-fetched to begin with. That would have been like winning the lottery. It's enough that she's getting somewhere.

—-

The mechanical man turns to walk through the garden, more at ease, it seems, with the motion that will take it past flowers and bushes and trees, as questions fly at it sidelong. It does stop, however, to survey the new projection, it's head tilting ever so slightly.

"This one is named Sieve. He also interfaces with The Source… but.. different. Source for beings made like you. Understands how to change, reprogram. Understands how to bend operations to his will. He took the gift of God's Blood and betrayed Decimux. I do not know his circumstance, I did not work with him often. But my understanding, is he wanted Decimux's power for himself. Before I sought my freedom, Decimux had planned to root him from his world, believing him trapped. I do not know how his campaign went. With that world's Six Point Zero assisting Decimux, I did not dare approach her. Instead I came to the world where she was still being pursued. It is not tactical, his approach to Six Point Zero. I do not understand it."

Indeed, why 'recruit' Six if she's so special? Why not just scoop her up and give her The Talk? Why send bumbling emissaries? Some things, Extra just does not know.

"If you know of Sieve, he must have made it to this world. I will help you find him and remove his head." The matter of fact way that Extra promises the man's death is counter to it's almost gentle way of conversation. But that has always been Extra's way. In combat, it does not hold back. It knows only one way to execute itself against an enemy's interest:

With great prejudice.

—-

Jessica is content to walk with him. She is quiet as he speaks of removing heads. Killing does not sit so easily with her as she had thought it would now that she has actually participated in some that wasn't a direct result of a 'reprogramming' of her own source. And yet neither has she come to a conclusion that it's never necessary. She merely nods, putting the pieces together thoughtfully.

"Sieve recruited a bunch of people in this iteration and another, one where I am known as Agent Jones." She's self-conscious, using her own name like that, but it's one of the only markers she has to identify which iteration she's talking about. "A world in which the iteration of a man called Kilgrave here goes by Thompson." The other marker that she has, damn Kilgrave's hide.

"We're not sure if he's here or there right now, to be honest, but he killed four people over here by reprogramming them." It's confirmation, at last, that they have at least identified the perpetrator of those four murders. "They built a portal between iterations. Is that something that would help him steal Decimux's power?"

It is not tactical, his approach to Six Point Zero.

"Is it possible Decimux is in love with Six Point Zero?"

Love, that force which obliterates dignity. Love which would give Itzpapalotl a bargaining chip, a leg to stand on. A reason why Decimux would tolerate her presence. A reason why she would have cause to know precisely what was going on with him, enough to stop one of his Agents from killing a child. Love, which could make even a machine god act irrationally. Love, a reason to seek Kinsey out always. If they'd wanted to hurt Kinsey they would have. They'd have swarmed her garage with Agents and taken her down. She's all alone out there, and as formidable as she might otherwise be Jessica sure thinks she'd be in deep shit if four or five Agents showed up at once. He's got the manpower.

Love, which could well spur someone to seek someone else out in iteration after iteration, endlessly fascinated by the different ways the person's core could manifest itself.

Even as she asks it, it makes perfect sense to her.

—-

"Sieve has only been on two iterations. When Decimux sought him for The Agency, he did not hesitate in his betrayal. If his perception is that Decimux draws his power from his control over iterations, perhaps he thought replication would allow his survival, and ascension. He is a fool to think it so. A God is not simply made by tricks of power, no matter how strong. Beings on your world would seem as Gods to many, and they would not know different unless they met a true God."

Like Thor. Like Itzpapalotl. Xiuhnel. The Zataras. Countless others.

It does not take long for Jessica to bring their walk to a crashing halt. The way Extra looks to her, and then back at a nearby tree, assessing, evaluating. It takes far to long for a being that is supposed to move before thought can commit to action. Still, it has a very good reason for it's deliberation.

"I do not understand this word… Love. It's definition is known, but I do not understand." Basic word structure, language, context, definitions, it has all of those things now. But love is a concept that's definition, unfortunately, can never really do justice. The weight of Jessica's question will lend evidence to that all on it's own.

"It is possible her value is not fully understood by us. But we know it exists. I have not known him to claim an iteration or unmake it without first speaking to her."

—-

Jessica Jones rubs the back of her neck. How to explain love to a being who has never known love?

Or at least thinks he has not.

"You get sad, so you must have moments of happiness too. Imagine a person who makes you happier, just because you're standing near them. Even at your saddest, thinking about them, knowing that they are alive in the world, makes you a little happier. Imagine wanting to protect that person above any other person. Imagine caring about that person so much that you'd do anything for that person's happiness, even at your own expense. Imagine a person you'd maim yourself for, die for, if that's what it took to make sure they were well, and safe, and happy. That's love."

She sighs. "Problem is, love gets awfully twisted sometimes. Some people think they're in love, but they're really only obsessed. They have a part of the equation— the equation that is happier when that person is around, giving them their attention. But they don't have all of it. They are willing to do all sorts of horrible crap to own this other person. Even hurt them. That's not love, but it's driven by the same base impulse."

Jessica has been the giver of one and the object of another. From the outside, few would guess her heart, the size or extent of it. "There are other versions of love, versions that aren't quite so intense. But if I'm right? I'm going to guess Decimux has the intense kind. Probably the obsessive kind too."

She blows out her cheeks thoughtfully. Kinsey is going to flip her shit, if she's right. She'd better stick to 'just the facts, ma'am' when she talks to her again, and let Kinsey draw her own conclusions.

In the meantime, she's got to prioritize. "If Sieve were in this world right now, where would you begin a search for him?" Priority #1.

And…"If you were going to set out to protect this iteration from Decimux and make sure he could never harm it, what would you do, specifically? Have any other iterations ever accomplished this feat?"

—-

If Jessica will understand anything from this conversation, it is the futility of trying to explain love to someone who has no perspective, or point of reference. Still, Extra is patient and lets her explain, even as it fails to understand certain basic distinctions between love and other kinds of attachment. Which it does have a reference for. Finally, it begins to walk again.

"This sounds very much like Sieve's ability to manipulate the programming of organic beings."

How close is love to madness, or control? How close is it, always, to being twisted in just the way Jessica describes? Even emotion is not something Extra truly understands. So far, it knows emotion only as parts of it's Source, and the parts that are hardest to quantify. Another gift from Decimux? Another curse?

"Your existence is very strange, Jessica Jones."

These may be the truest words ever spoken by one being to another. Except Xiuhnel threatened to skullfuck Daredevil. That was pretty earnest too. A hand finds her shoulder, and there is a squeeze of reassurance.

"But then, so is mine. I will defer to you on matters of love. Please let me know when something has love for me, so that I might return this state of being." Right. It's got this down! "I would not know where to look for Sieve, except to know that he must be masking his Godsblood from Decimux and others. Hiding in places of high energy. At least until he can formulate a plan of escape."

Oh, then Jessica asks The Question.

"No iteration has withstood him in the time I have known his history. All have perished and fed the Gigaplex their energies." The very energies Extra draws upon when it fights.

—-

Jessica Jones can't help it. When he says that love sounds close to Sieve's abilities, she laughs. If it's a laugh with a bitter, wounded tinge to it, it's nevertheless a laugh. She can see it in the positive, and she knows the bite of the negative. Kilgrave was able to force desire when he wanted to, too. It is a thought that leaves her skin crawling, that makes her feel less like any kind of warrior, hero, or even a detective, and more like someone who needs to crawl away and hide forever.

She inhales deep. Mentally starts going through her list of street names. Finds, abruptly, that streets aren't in it any more. Her brain serves up a litany of people, of good people, in no particular order.

Trish Walker. Jane Foster. Zatanna Zatara. Bucky Barnes. John Constantine. Red Robin. Matt Murdock. Steve Rogers. Peggy Carter. Tony Stark. Elinor Ravensdale. Cindy Moon. Az, God help her, God help me. Kinsey. Juno. Kitty. Peter Quill and the Guardians of the Galaxy.

The exercise works better than the streets ever did. She swallows and turns her smile into something more genuine, though it’s still tinged with a great deal of sadness. The litany of people has comforted and calmed her, but it has also brought to mind her imperiled friend, awaiting trial.

Extra asks her to tell her when someone loves him. An alien inorganic life form just asked her for dating advice, never realizing how shitty she is at this particular game. Yeah. Her existence is strange.

"I will. I will tell you that I like you. I'm beginning to see you as a friend. Friend is a little like love. Like is a little like love. Usually less dangerous though." And really, she isn't sure, save for the intense attraction parts that separate Love from love, that it isn't basically exactly the same.

Places of high energy?

Jessica Jones narrows her eyes, even as Extra says nobody ever beats Decimux.

"Well. He's overdue for some disappointment then, isn't he?" But yes, this has officially graduated to being a SHIELD and Avengers Level Problem. She's just a fucking detective. Maybe they'll know what she can smash in some sort of productive god damn manner to help make something of this.

In the meantime…Places. Of high energy.

"Extra, please state the exact energy level parameters that would be required to mask the Godblood. Ace. Jarvis." Drone and phone alike. Either. Both. She doesn't care. "Please work together to find power plants or other buildings within New York or New Jersey that might offer the requisite amount of energy."

Someone else is going to have to plan the fucking invasion of Infiniplex, though they at least have the means to invade, and she'll certainly suggest it when they understand it better.

Jessica Jones? Is gonna do what she does best, and find herself a murderer. There's fire in her eyes; that one clue is a great fucking clue, one that narrows the vast array of buildings into a searchable matrix.

—-

"Ms. Jones." The crisp British accent cuts in, this time from her phone, which is still in her pocket. Ace warbles, but JARVIS speaks clearly. "I have already used the data Mr. Stark has gathered on the device you submitted to him, along with this new information. Unfortunately the only place with a high enough energy output that transgresses quantum boundaries…"

Extra looks around at first, unsure of this intrusion, and it's hand finds the blade at it's lower back. Still, it does not strike, especially when this dismembodied voice that seems to speak from Jessica Jones's hindparts does it's best to help.

"…would be the ARC Reactor at Stark Tower."

Jessica might know her skin to crawl when she thinks of people forcing their will on her. She might know to dread things that sound dreadful and forlorn coming from a simulated voice, one that seems to understand the gravity of this statement.

But has she known what it's like to search round and round for a murderer and threat to the entire world, only to know that he is hiding right under their collective noses?

Well, she knows now. Jessica also knows what else is at Stark Tower, a place that is supposed to be safe.

Another God.

—-

"Shit!"

Jessica wastes no time. She yanks the phone out of her pocket and dials.

"Tony. Jess. I know where Holmes is. He's in Stark Towers. Somewhere close to the ARC reactor. He's been there the entire god damn time. Oh Jesus, he might be controlling your mind, he might be controlling everyone's mind…call me. I'm on the way right now. He might also try to muck with Xihunel or kill or use Azalea…god fucking damn it." She can't go near Azalea, because that will bring down the wrath of Itzpapalotl. The ward in her pocket won't be sufficient if she just walks into that room.

She’s on the way right now?

To do what?

She doesn't know. And that is certainly a sensation she’s known before. She knew it on April 17th, a date that will forever be burned into her memory. To race desperately towards the source of a problem…to have no idea how she’s going to solve it when she gets there. To know that she must get there, and try, no matter what.

Next number. "Peggy. Holmes is at Stark Towers close to the ARC reactor. That's the only place he can be. I'll explain soon but you might want to gather a team…and we might need to assume that any or all of the employees there are under his direct control. Jesus fuck, I don't know what to do, call me, I'm on the way back from Jersey right now."

She looks back at Extra. "We have to go. We have to go right now. Sorry. I know you hate the car."

There's no way she's showing up to this confrontation without Extra. And she can't tell either one of them about Extra, because Extra is her wildcard.

She has to do something to protect herself. Well, cell phones are said to disrupt electromagnetic fields, right? And that's how Holmes is doing it. "Jarvis, Ace. I need you to create an ever-shifting field of low-level electromagnetic interference around me at all times. I want to be the queen of RF interference." SHIELD will just have to find their own way to protect themselves. Tony surely built one too…if he took her seriously. And maybe Constantine's lock on her mind will hold up as well.

She takes off at a run, knowing how fast Extra can move.

For once, she isn't going to drive like an old lady at all. Instead, she will fly like the wind.

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