APPALACHIANS, 00:32 am
Energy crackled against the dark night setting of the Appalachians as an interdimensional rift tore through the fabric of the universe. Bright light poured through the rift, scaring the wild animals that slept under the cover of night. A body materialised out of this light and softly fell onto the thick snow -this less than graceful gazelle was named Aurora.
"Get back here!" Hela’s voice boomed across the rift, her long nails stretching out to peek through the dimensional curtain.
"Make me!" Aurora stuck out her tongue before she clasped her hands together to seal the rift.
Energy pulsed around her as she lay unconscious in the snow.
SANCTUM SENCTORUM, NEW YORK, 00:32 am
Strange had his nose firmly stuck in a thousand-year-old book; its words written in Aramaic -a translation spell causing the words to move and shift until legible with each page turn.
Wong was polishing the brass Centurion of Dismemberment downstairs, leaving the Cloak of Levitation to wonder about the room aimlessly.
Shimmering out through half-closed curtains, a crystal ball became agitated, displaying images of a mountain peak, a woman falling through a rift and darkly painted nails being severed once it was closed.
Curiously, the Cloak hovered close to the heavy drapes but was unable to move them apart.
The crystal ball began to whisper in a thousand angry voices too low for any of the mortals within the Sanctum to hear. In a panic of human-esque movements, the Cloak hovered in front of Wong's peripheral trying to get his attention.
"Not right now, I'm busy." Wong swatted the Cloaks coattails away carefully. "This is a very delicate procedure. One wrong move and I risk awakening the Centurion of Dismemberment. Even the slightest gust of wind could risk awake--"
The Cloak wouldn't take no for an answer and wrapped itself around Wong's midriff, pulling him backwards.
"The hell's gotten into you?" Wong frowned before using his sling-ring to singe the ends of the Cloak, causing it to let go abruptly.
"Oh, shi--" Off-balance, Wong's head hurled directly into the Centurion's folded brass exoskeleton.
The noise travelled through-out the Sanctum.
Strange rolled his eyes when the loud noise disrupted the flow of his spell.
"Wong, can you keep it down?" Strange shouted before he mused quietly to himself in annoyance: "Is it really too much to ask for a day of quiet?"
In a hurry, completely ignoring the magical animatronic machine coming to life in great puffs of steam and groaning metal, the Cloak flew up to the sound of Strange's voice.
It tapped on Strange's shoulder several times only for him to subsequently brush him off. Then the sound of something large stomping around and crashing into things finally caught his attention.
"What in the--?" Strange turned to head down the stairs, the Clock tugging him in another direction.
The top floor of the rotunda was filled with several frightened apprentices using sling-ring whips to try and keep the Centurion in one place as his sword crashed into every glass casing.
Wong, having just been woken up off the floor, shook his head and used his magic skills to move each magical artefact away from the Centurion's path destruction.
"Strange, get down here! We need you!" Wong said with great effort as his magical abilities were being stretched thin.
Just when Strange took a step down the stairs, the Cloak had managed to pull his attention towards the shimmering light behind the thick red drapes.
"Hmmm," Strange said as he walked towards the strange lights.
The Cloak finally bringing itself to rest easily upon the Sorcerer Supreme's shoulders.
"Str- Strange? Where the hell are you going?" Wong demanded as he watched his friend walk away with disinterest in his eyes at the fact a live Centurion was slashing and knocking and stomping about.
"You've got it under control," Strange said nonchalantly without looking away from the light. When he pulled back the drapes, he read the inscription plaque fixed upon the crystal ball's stand out loud: "Upon this cutting of the Great Oak of Knowledge sits the Orb of Impending Doom. Beware the day its eyes are opened, for when the screams of guardians past gain their voice again shall be the final lament that foretells of the end of days..."
Strange rose his eyebrow in though, his arms folded around his midriff, one anchored up to rest his chin upon, "That doesn't sound very comforting."
"Wong! Hold down the fort!" Strange shouted from the other room as he opened a portal.
Between deep pants, Wong nodded his head, "Hold… the… fort! Right, no problem… it's not like that wasn't exactly what I've been trying to do!"
APPALACHIANS, 00:40 am
Strange stepped through the portal, his cloak dethatching itself to hover to a humanoid looking figure a few feet away.
"This better not be aliens," Strange hoped.
The Cloak wrapped itself around a sleeping woman’s frame and lifted her off the ground like a hammock.
The portal, still open, let out orange shimmers, making the snow appear like it was set aflame. On the other side of it, the loud shouts and shattering noises coming from the Sanctum permeated through the cold air.
"So… this is the bringer of the end of days," Strange pursed his lips in thought. "Huh, I pictured something a little more… Well, more. Let's bring her with." He told the Cloak.
"Strange!" Wong's shout trickled out.
"First things first. Let's go deal with that Centurion."
SANCTUM SENCTORUM, 06:30 am
Wong used magic to make the clean-up efforts go faster while the rest of the sorcerer's carefully levitated the now deactivated Centurion towards the vault in the basement.
When he was done, Wong made his way to the communal resting area where their newfound guest slept on a couch while Strange -floating cross-legged- looked through several hovering books open on different pages simultaneously.
"Anything?" Wong asked.
Strange just furrowed his brows.
"Maybe we should just ask her?"
"What if her waking up creates more problems than it solves?"
"Then, just like earlier, we'll deal with it." Wong was a bit bitter from earlier.
Strange set down from his sitting position and placed the palm of his hand on the sleeping woman’s face, "Wake."
Despite his awakening spell, the woman stayed asleep.
"That's unusual..." Strange uttered.
Then he felt the cloak tap on his shoulder and point at something at the end of the room.
Wong and Strange were surprised to see a copy of the exact same woman, partially translucent and standing with the edge of a coffee table passing right through her knees. She was incorporeal.
"Det er et bord som stikker ut av meg!" The projection shouted frantically.
"This is new," Strange stood from the girl’s unconscious body and walked closer to the semi-transparent version.
Wong cast a translation spell as the projection kept shouting and pacing about, "I think she's astral projecting."
"Who are you?" Strange asked after she passed through him. The feeling was odd.
"Polarlys, Goddess of Limbo and soothsayer to the restless dead. But my Uncle's call me Aurora," she said matter-of-factly.
"I'm Stephen Strange and this is Wong."
The Cloak swatted Strange's hand.
"And this is the Cloak of Levitation," He added.
The Cloak made a waving gesture.
"Greetings," Aurora said with a pleasant sing-song voice that made Strange and Wong stifle sudden yawns.
"Would you mind telling us why the Orb of Impending Doom thought you'd somehow be responsible for the end of days?" Strange asked when the outside world was overcome by an ethereal green hue, blocking out the sun and turning the sky a bluish-green colour.
"What is happening?" Wong said as he peered out the Sanctum's circular windows.
"That would be the impending doom you speak of," Aurora said with bulging eyes.
Out of the corner of the room, rainbow streams of light beamed down like a flashlight as Loki stepped out of the bi-frosts portal perimeter.
"Aurora, would you mind explaining to me why Helheim's gates are opening? And while you're at it, would you also explain why you're on Midgard?" Loki questioned with his finger waggling about, staring at her with disappointed brows.
Aurora shrugged like a teenager, face pulled into a long pout making her doe eyes seem even more pronounced. Immediately, Loki's expression changed into one less scary.
"Ah, Loki," Strange greeted.
"Imposter," Loki replied in greeting.
"You know her?" Wong asked.
"She's my concern, and the reason all mortals on your realm have fallen into an endless slumber.
"What?" Both Wong and Strange said completely unaware of that last sentiment.
"You're probably conscious because you possess magical attributes, or at least what humans pass for magic anyway," Loki said with his nose pointed high.
Wong conjured several birds-eye-view portals around him to confirm Loki's words, and sure as day, through each portal he could see countless humans slowly beginning to fall into a slumber causing chaos to erupt around them.
"I'll gather the apprentice's and other sorcerer's and try and contain the situation," Wong assured Strange before he made for the other room.
"Come on Aurora, get back in your body so I can take you back," Loki ordered.
"No!" Aurora pouted again, arms folding around herself. "You can't make me?"
"Yes, I can and I will," Loki inched further to her. "Now get back in your body or so help me I will--"
Having grown impatient with Loki's interaction, Strange had opened a portal to Timbuktu and swept Loki through it, forcing him out of the room.
"Now that we have some peace and quiet, mind telling why you're causing everyone to fall unconscious?"
Aurora sighed, "It's a protection spell..."
"Why do you need a protection spell?"
"It wasn't my idea. My mother is a little overprotective."
Before Aurora could elaborate, Wanda and Vision flew into the Sanctum through the open observatory window.
"Hello, Doctor Strange? Monk wizards? Anybody home?" Wanda asked the seemingly empty space. "Viz, you sure you detected an anomaly here?"
"I'm positive Wanda," Vison replied.
"We're in the back!" Strange shouted.
Suddenly, Loki rematerialized angrier than before, "Do that to me one more time, mortal and I'll have your--"
Strange accepted the challenge and swept Loki away into another portal.
Loki rematerialized just as quickly as he had disappeared, "That's it!"
Loki was about to charge at Strange when Wanda used her abilities to separate them to either side of the room when a subtle rumbling caused the walls and floor to trail cracks.
Several skyscrapers were threatening to topple into one another when Wanda shouted, "Viz take care of that, I've got things handled here!"
With a crack and a thunderous streak, a tear was sliced through the sky as a woman dressed in black and green with a helmet affixed with several sharp prongs sticking out of it descended from the sky -hundreds of swords materialising to form a circular perimeter around the Sanctum.
Wanda let go of Strange and Loki before she jumped out of the Sanctum and landed by an empty park in full view of the ethereal looking woman.
Loki and Strange followed suit.
"Wait for me!" Aurora groaned as she shimmered to their location.
"Who is that?" Wanda asked.
"I believe, that's Hela, Goddess of the Dead," Strange said knowingly.
"That's my adoptive older sister," Loki corrected.
"That's my mother," Aurora said with a deep exasperated sigh.
Everyone but Loki turned to her.
"What? Nobody's family is perfect!" She protested.
Loki chuckled as he summoned his sceptre, "Oh, she doesn't look happy."
"Aurora! I warned you about travelling to Midgard without my permission! You're in big trouble young lady."
Aurora's projection gulped, "Uh-oh..."
"Can't we just reason with her?" Wanda asked.
"Not when she's lost her temper," Aurora warned.
"So what's the plan?" Strange asked.
"We tire her out until her ears aren't blocked by all the blood rushing to her brain!" Loki said sarcastically.
Red, green and orange. Uniformly, Strange, Wanda and Loki took defensive stances as their signature magic colours wisped to life.
“Why couldn’t it just be aliens?” Strange whined as several magical swords embedded themselves into the tarmac and soft grass.