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Miraculous Escalation

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The smell of vomit filled the room as Master Fu handed Marinette a glass of water.

“That’s…” She blinked some tears out of her eyes, washed her mouth, and then spit it out into to the trashcan. “Why would anyone even have that?”

Marinette had decided that she and Chat Noir would review the information with Master Fu. Alya, Chloe and Nico had never met the Guardian and she wanted to keep it that way.

If Skitter was tracking them… Well that had been the first thing she’d warned Master Fu about.

And then they’d tried the USB in an old laptop Master Fu had, one without a Wifi connection.

Alya would be angry. Marinette resolved to only give her the short form of this. Nobody else needed to see this horror.

Slaughterhouse Nine

Behemoth

Leviathan

Simurgh

There were more files, most of them like their wikipedia, talking of entire cities destroyed, entire regions twisted so badly that all the authorities could do was wall them off and shoot anyone who tried to leave. Japan had been shattered, robot armies existed…

It was a world with superheroes.

Only, unlike the comics, they weren’t winning.

Skitter had been researching the Slaughterhouse Nine, so there was more information about them.

More information than Marinette ever wanted to see again.

Skitter had left notes.

D. Predicts end of world in up to three years if Jack lives. Longer if he dies. Maybe as long as 300—but still happens. Jack catalyst, not source.

Happens Fast. Not Endbringers? Something worse? 33-93 percent of humanity dies.

There were files on the Nine, former members, movements, actions, what they might do in the future.

The words were bad enough. Marinette had made the mistake of clicking on one of the video files.

3/25: Eisenhower Jr. High, Bonesaw, Siberian, Jack.

Master Fu had closed the window after the first horrifying ten seconds but it hadn’t been fast enough for her stomach.

There were more video files of the Nine. Marinette didn’t touch any of them. The Endbringer images were bad enough, including the before and after pictures of Skitter’s home, Brockton Bay.

According to the notes, that had been a good day.

“So, she’s a hero,” Chat Noir said, his voice faint.

“Or she believes so,” Master Fu replied. He looked troubled.

“Someone who fights that isn’t a hero?” Marinette asked.

“Are drug dealers heroes? Muggers?” Master Fu replied. “And yet they will help you, Ladybug, Chat Noir in the face of the greater threat.” He gestured at the image on the screen, a twisted angel hovering over a city, chunks of skyscrapers orbiting her. “Those abominations, from the Endbringers to this… Nine, would be the enemy of most, be they heroic or otherwise. That is why they have the… Truce, as they call it.”

“You’re saying—” Chat Noir fell silent at Master Fu’s raised hand.

“I am saying that this world is likely far more gray than our world is, especially the world of Paris in which you grew up. In a world without the miraculous cure, where sometimes victory appears to be saving some of a city rather than losing it all, even the brightest hero may be forced to make… The kind of choices you have been spared from. Skitter may be a villain who nonetheless has loved ones she does not wish to see die. She may be a hero who will be willing to do anything to protect the world, but make no mistake, you may—” Master Fu fell silent, then nodded. “Or rather, Chat Noir, Ladybug, if you lived in that world, and came here, how far would you go to gain the power to protect your family from the likes of the Nine and Endbringers. From the literal end of the world?”

Marinette was silent. She imagined her school with that… her stomach twisted and she banished the image of what Bonesaw and Siberian had done.

“When I met her… She didn’t attack me to knock me out, she tried to kill me,” Marinette finally said. “She went right to that. She stopped but…”

“But it was pretty brutal.” Chat Noir nodded. “But if we can—if the butterfly Miraculous can help her…” He gestured to the screen, his hand trembling only a little bit. “How could we ever sleep again if we didn’t do anything about that?”

“We will try. I will consult with Wyazz, and once we have the butterfly in our possession, we may attempt to aid them. But this is another universe. Our magic may not work there, though the fact that her powers work here…” Fu shook his head. “We must learn, but I caution you, be careful. Skitter may not be as patient.”

“Yes Master Fu.” Marinette nodded.

“And it is of course fortunate that only one acting by his free will can open the Miraculous case.” Fu said.

That’s for any listening bugs, Marinette realized. Mr. Fu had nodded to her, writing something on a pad. Then he displayed it to her, hands over it so that it was shielded some any other viewers.

Ladybug. Skitter has not seen the dragon. Give her the miraculous and explain the situation to her. You may need an ally that Skitter has not seen yet. I will give it to you before you leave.

Marinette nodded. She would. And hopefully tonight she wouldn’t dream of her parents, Adrien, timid Rose, or Juleka dying—or worse—at the hands of the monsters that lived in Skitter’s world.

What would I do to protect my friends and family from that? She understood Master Fu’s warning as the answer came back. The same answer that she bet Skitter had.

I would do anything.