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Aftermath

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Having reached the penthouse level without any further trouble, Baymax followed Lucifer into the bedroom area, where he gently laid Hiro down on the covered mattress. Taking in the layout of the whole floor, he felt more than comfortable with leaving the teen to sleep while he joined the others. There was nothing to impede his sensor, and it would probably be a good idea to be on hand for what Loki had to say to their host.

Lucifer poured himself a drink before joining Loki on the couch where they'd shared a discussion only two nights before. "My how things have changed," he commented idly as he took the same seat across from the Asgardian god. "Now, what is this about Hiro and this Hydra business? What is it about this boy that they didn't know? Aside from the admittedly unusual fits, he seems fairly ordinary to me." That wasn't strictly true, but he hoped the slight goad would help get the ball rolling.

Loki didn't immediately sit down. Instead, he stuffed his hands into his pockets and began to pace, debating just how much to tell his host. While it was true this man was no ordinary man, he wasn't exactly sure just how much of what he suspected was merely pure conjecture or correct guessing on his part. He let out a bit of a sigh. "Very well," he said as he sat on the edge of the same seat he'd occupied that other night. Chances were good he wouldn't stay seated though.

"Are you familiar with Norse mythology?" he used the term loosely, knowing there was more truth to it than most people cared to believe. He paused only long enough to get a confirming nod from Lucifer. "In that particular line, I am considered a god. And though I'm not an actual son of Odin, being adopted, I have seen and learned a great deal, thanks to my adoptive mother. She taught me much of the deep magic."

The devil shifted his position momentarily, setting his drink down. "I'm not sure I understand where you're going with this," he admitted. "What does this have to do with Hiro and this group called Hydra?"

It didn't take a genius to realize Lucifer wasn't exactly following, and Loki couldn't blame him. There was so much more involved than even he could begin to fathom. "I'm trying to explain to you why these Hydra people wouldn't have let Hiro go, under any circumstances, had they known what I suspect."

Surprise reflected up from the depths of Lucifer's eyes. "Suspect? I thought you said you knew." This was certainly unsettling. Were they always to deal with the unknown? Well, maybe that wasn't such a bad thing. "All right," he said after a moment's pause, "what do you suspect then? And then maybe we can get to the why later."

Loki rubbed at one eyebrow, debating. Then he cleared a space on the coffee table in front of him. "I'm not sure how familiar you are with the different levels of beings in the universe so allow me to give you a basic introduction." He began to trace out a set of circles on the table. Thanks to his magic, those circles glowed with faint energy. "Odin, though a god in his own right, and quite powerful, is not the most powerful being in the universe. Above him are the Celestials, the Titans, and a race we know only as the Ancients."

Lucifer leaned forward. "Ah yes, I've heard about some of them before," he admitted. "The term Celestials is probably as close to my Father as anything. As to the Titans and Ancients… I can't say I'm as familiar. I do know they and the Celestials are on a similar playing field, sometimes taking turns as to who's on top. The lore tends to be a bit murky on the details."

The Asgardian nodded. "There are several veins of lore in my realm as well that make it difficult to tell." He painted a line between the three circles he'd created. "What is known is that each group was created by Life, which was created by Infinity. And if there is anything beyond that, neither I nor any other in Asgard seems to know."

"As fascinating as that bit of mythology is, I don't see how it comes into play with our current discussion," Lucifer admitted. He took up his glass and sipped the liquid inside, trying hard to not feel impatient. He knew the basics of the lore, mostly from personal study, but that didn't explain how it related to the subject at hand.

Loki nodded. He supposed the connection was not immediately apparent to those who didn't know the basics of what the boy had been through. Teen, he corrected, though there was the decided possibility, thanks to those repeated timelines, that Hiro was actually older than either he or Lucifer combined. There was just no real way of knowing for sure since no one seemed to know exactly how many times Hiro had repeated his timeline. At the very least, enough to break the universe into tiny little pieces before bringing them all back together into a cohesive whole. What that must have been like was beyond the god of mischief and the idea of experiencing it made him shudder ever so slightly, though part of him still would have liked to see it in action.

"Allow me to give you the basics of events Hiro has experienced over the last few years," Loki continued, now settling back into his chosen seat. "A few years ago, an alien entity, known only as the Makt, somehow made its way into the known universe. And by known universe I mean this realm. No one seemed to really know where it came from, except that it appears to have come from the Rift, as the Time Lords call it."

Lucifer held up a hand. "Now just hold on a moment. Are you saying this is all somehow connected to that Jack fellow?" Now it was his turn to resist a bit of a shudder at the thought. "He mentioned something about Time Lords and what they do. But I'm not sure I follow how that's involved with current events."

The god dithered a bit. "Allow me to go back a bit further. Several months prior to the Makt showing up, one of Hiro's college professors was arrested for trying to use a teleportation device another man had tried to develop for a government entity. Unfortunately, neither realized the technology was stolen from aliens and then mishandled." He put up a hand to stave off any comments. "It did what it was supposed to do, but the calibration was incorrect for organic transportation. Their one test subject was trapped inside the space known as the area between time and space. "

He then went on to explain how Hiro had managed to discover this human subject hadn't died as originally thought, and went into save her, completely unprotected from the energy inside this Rift. "I'm sure you might better know of it as the Void."

The devil pursed his lips in thought. It certainly rang some bells, though he wasn't about to admit to it. "Are you saying this energy somehow transformed Hiro into what he is now?"

Loki resisted the urge to snort. "Of course not! But it was the beginning." He then went on to explain how Hiro had become attracted to the Makt, or the other way around, and how they'd used him as a vessel to return home. He then had to explain how the Makt had promised to give Hiro a do-over, resulting in many repeated timelines, which broke the universe like a pane of dropped glass.

"When that opened up fissures to other dimensions, a few travelers managed to slip through the cracks, including a man called Q, who appeared to have similar powers to a Celestial." Loki stood at this point and began to pace, still working it all out for himself. "Having that much raw power in one realm was sure to cause problems and the universe tried to strip Q of his abilities. But since Hiro had been tainted by the Rift, he attracted that energy to himself like lightning to a lightning rod, which only pressed the breaking of the universe into prominence. In order to fix his mistake, Hiro had to go inside the Heart of the TARDIS, another entity similar to the Celestials, to fix it. However, while he was inside this energy stream, his body was infused with the life force and energy of the TARDIS, Q, and the Makt."

Lucifer's mouth slowly turned down into a frown as he leaned forward. "Are you saying this child, this… whelp, is somehow a mutation of three ancient beings, all of which are on a higher level than your or my father?"

Loki gave a quirk of the shoulders in response. "Well, more or less. That is the working theory. Except for one small detail I forgot to mention. "You see, after careful research, I've discovered that the Makt aren't on the same level of the Celestials, Time Lords, and this Q entity at all. In fact, the Makt are perhaps one of the first and relatively unknown creations of Life, which means he's technically a combination of everything older than anything we could ever hope to encounter. For all we know, he might be as powerful as Life itself."

The devil felt something funny settle into the pit of his stomach and he had to swallow hard. "So you're saying he's a genetic hybrid of every ancient power in the universe, except for Infinity? A direct, through mutation, descendant of Life?" If he'd had any liquid in his mouth, he would have surely chocked on it at that point, though there was the possibility his pants might be a bit more damp now than they were before.

Loki nodded grimly. "That is what I suspect, though I have no real way of proving it." He returned to his seat. "However, if what I suspect is true, and Hydra had known about it, they would have made it impossible to rescue him. As things stood, they were near impossible. All they knew is that Hiro's DNA was unlike any they'd seen before, and they were bent on exploiting it."

Before anyone could make any further comments, including Baymax, who had remained silent this whole time, the elevator doors opened and Maze stepped out into the penthouse. "Sorry for the interruption, but I found Hiro's aunt out in the lobby." She motioned for the woman behind her to join her outside of the elevator.

Cass, looking a bit more rattled than before, cautiously stepped onto the tiled floor, one arm across her chest in a self-conscious gesture. "I heard my nephew was here," she admitted, all the indignation she'd felt from before quelled at the sight of the place she was now in.

The god of mischief uttered a brief epithet under his breath. "I should have known she'd find her way here," he said to himself before standing. "Cass," he soothed as he moved towards her. "I can explain."

Hearing his tone, a bit of her previous ire came back and both arms crossed over Cass's chest. "I should hope so. Where's my nephew? And why did you bring him to a night club in the first place?"

Maze moved to join her employer, looking more than a little anticipatory at this exchange. Chances were good she'd get to see a bit of a fight before too long and she wondered how that would turn out, knowing who Loki was.

Loki hung his head a bit, though only enough to look resigned. "I meant to let you know," he continued to sooth. "I had promised Lucifer an explanation of certain recent events and couldn't, in good conscience, leave Hiro alone, so I brought him with me. I admit, neither of us thought about contacting you at the time, as it was going to be just a quick errand." He winced a bit inside at her sharp look.

"I thought you knew Hiro and I have a strict policy of openness between us," she frowned.

Sensing the tension rising, Lucifer nervously moved between the two adults. "Now, now," he said, looking a bit worried. "There's no need to be upset. The boy is fine. He was merely so tired we decided it best to let him sleep." He swung an arm towards his bedroom area to indicate the teen's whereabouts.

Cass turned her attention to Baymax. "Is that true, Baymax?" She knew the robot wouldn't lie to her.

Baymax waddled a few steps forward, putting one hand into the air, finger pointing up. "What Lucifer said is true," he stated. "However, what he refrained from mentioning is that Hiro had an unexplained phenomenon prior to his succumbing to sleep."

The woman ground her teeth. "Care to explain that?"

Loki moved closer, physically escorting her to a chair. "Of course," he continued in his smooth voice. "Not long after Lucifer joined us, Hiro had another fit, similar to the one at the arena. We think he was able to somehow connect with the people involved with the bombings long enough to give Mr. Stark a warning before his plane blew up."

Cass felt more than glad they'd reached the couches as Loki finished. She felt her legs turn to jelly under her and she had to sit down, hard. "What?!"

When Lucifer looked like he was about to talk, Loki silenced him with a look. "We believe that what happened to Hiro during his incarceration at the Hydra base has made him more sensitive to certain types of energy. It's possible he subconsciously tapped into the intent of the bombers long enough to send out a warning."

While there were hints of truth in the explanation, Lucifer couldn't help but wonder why Loki had refrained from giving her all the juicy details. Then it hit him. While he and Loki were essentially immortal, gods in their own right, Cass was still just a regular, run-of-the-mill mortal. To introduce her to such existences would be to change her life forever. And that was probably a change she was far from ready for.

"So you're telling me you were talking about what happened in that Hydra base without me?" Cass inquired, her voice rising in pitch.

Loki sat down beside her, his thigh right against hers as he tried to offer comfort by placing one hand on her nearest knee. "Believe me when I say we didn't get far in any explanation. The conversation simply turned to that direction only moments before you showed up."

Only slightly mollified, Cass bit chewed the inside of her lip as she refolded her arms across her chest. "Okay, so why don't you continue with that conversation. You did promise to give me the details."

Now that the moment had come, Loki couldn't help but feel a bit reluctant. "Very well," he finally agreed. And with that, he began to give a very truncated version of his involvement in Hiro's rescue, leaving out anything that might hint at what he'd discussed with Lucifer earlier.


It took a lot longer to get the bus back to the hotel than Bruce would have liked, but it was done. And the students were back in their rooms, with the added warning that if any of them so much as set foot outside of their rooms, they'd be suspended from school. While Banner might not exactly have that kind of authority, the serious nature of so many events in such rapid succession was more than enough to cow most of the students into obedience. Aside from which, they didn't want to spend another long afternoon being questioned by the police.

After making sure everyone was securely in their rooms, Bruce headed to the one he knew had been assigned to Cass. But when he knocked on the door, no one answered. Thanks to JARVIS, he knew where Hiro was, but had thought it a good idea to check in with his aunt first, mostly since he was already there. But realizing she was out, he felt no qualms about heading out to find out what was going on and how Hiro had known to warn Stark about the bombs.

The physicist hailed a taxi that happened to be waiting for a fair, giving the address for Lux, which he'd looked up while on the bus. He was only mildly surprised he hadn't gotten a call from Tony yet, giving him an earful. That told him the medical personnel either thought him in worse condition than he'd supposed, or they'd taken his phone away. Either was possible. And the man was sure to hear even more about it when Tony was finally free to call. Might as well have some answers to give him when it happened.

The cab he'd taken wasn't the cleanest, but by New York standards, was almost sanitary. There was that at least. And with the recent explosion out near the airport, the previous crowd of onlookers had moved on to newer, juicier pastures of thought. He didn't envy those who had to deal with them.

In no time at all, he'd arrived at his destination, feeling a bit awed by the tall building he was about to storm into. More than a little cowed by the sheer magnificence of the place, he didn't even contemplate pulling out the Big Guy, which was probably the best decision, given the circumstances. It helped that the Hulk didn't feel inclined to come out either.

The first real hurdle was when he found his way to the club floor. There was an exotic-looking woman behind the bar, and she looked more than capable of handling herself. "Uh, hi," he said, wishing he could look a bit more intimidating as his usual self.

"Bar's closed," Maze stated straight from the get go. She didn't look amused, a slight frown on her face as she contemplated the man. He definitely didn't smell normal either, which meant he was somehow associated with the group upstairs. Instead of heading up there using the elevator, she gave her boss a quick text over the phone.

Looking more than a little flustered, Bruce cleared his throat as he walked over to the bar. "Um, excuse me, but I'm looking for someone."

"Aren't we all," Maze drawled, still looking far from helpful. She hadn't gotten a return message yet but felt sure she would.

Bruce decided to try again as he slid onto one of the stools, taking a nervous look around to see if they really were alone. "A friend of mine was supposed to be here and I told his aunt I'd come and pick him up." It definitely wasn't true, but there was no helping it. He didn't know where Cass was and he needed to ask the teen how he'd known about the bomb.

Maze gave him a knowing, yet skeptical look. "Uh huh." She threw her towel down onto the bar and folded her arms across her chest. "Is that so?" She took pleasure in seeing him squirm, careful not to provoke him too much. There was no telling what he was capable of doing. If her intel was sound, which she had no reason to doubt, this man was Bruce Banner. And there was no way she wanted to bring out the Hulk in the bar. He might smash Lucifer's piano, and then there'd really be hell to pay.

The doctor nodded uncomfortably. "I really need to talk to him. Is he still here?"

"You're a friend of that Stark guy, aren't you?" It wasn't really a question, but it was fun to see his reaction. "You're probably here to find out why Hiro knew about that bomb. Am I right?" She flashed him a glinting, predatory grin.

"How did you know about that?" The surprise on Bruce's face was hard to hide, even if he'd wanted to hide it.

Maze scoffed. "You'd be surprised at what all I know. Like I know you're Dr. Bruce Banner, friend of Tony Stark and all those Avengers. It was only a matter of time before you showed up, what with everything going on and you being in the area."

That comment caught him off guard. "Tony's here?!"

Now where had he gotten that idea? Maze wondered. Well, whatever. "No. but it would be like him, wouldn't it?" She gave a great sigh before turning away from the bar, finally having gotten word from Lucifer. "Come on. I'll take you up to him."

Bruce took a moment to understand what she meant, but when he did, he quickly scrambled off the stool to follow her to an elevator he hadn't noticed earlier. He only hoped she wasn't pulling his chain.