After what felt like an eternity of revisiting the worst moments in her life, Wanda finally opened a door that led her back into Agatha’s basement. Agatha flicked a wrist and the runes dimmed, a shining book floated towards her and she began to flick through the pages absentmindedly.
“Alright, so, a lifetime full of trauma leads to a bucket list of issues and all of those somehow turn into you pulling magic from the sheer force of chaos and forming it into this little reality.” Agatha sighed. “I really hoped it wasn’t true but I’m afraid it is.”
“What is?” Wanda was feeling twitchy. She wanted to find her boys. She wanted straight answers from Agatha for once. She wanted to get out of the basement that was giving her the creeps.
“You’re the prophesied one, Wanda,” Agatha turned the book in the air towards Wanda and she saw a page that seemed to be written in a foreign scrawl dancing around a figure with wild hair and a crown. “You’re the Scarlet Witch.”
“And what is the Scarlet Witch supposed to be?”
“Well, in one of two versions, you bring about the end of the world,” Agatha shrugged nonchalantly. “But I just don’t buy it, all that end of the world nonsense is never right. No one prophesied a giant purple alien destroying half of life on earth so I don’t take their words for gospel anymore.” Agatha cackled.
“What about the second version?”
“It’s generally been left to interpretation but…” Agatha waved her hand and another book appeared from nowhere -- though the book itself was much more mundane. She flipped through the pages and when she found what she was looking for she smiled -- the first smile Wanda had seen on her face that wasn’t obnoxious or hiding something.
“In some translations the destruction of the world means new life,” she turned the book around to show Wanda who took in the slanting cursive scrawl. The book looked like it had to be several hundred years old. “I took notes in my classes, so aren’t you glad I’m a studious girl,” Agatha winked before shutting the book which disappeared into thin air.
“That’s your book?” Wanda was reeling -- too much information in too little time.
“Mmm,” Agatha hummed. “Now, where did I stash my guests…” She muttered to herself, turning in a circle at the center of the room several times before snapping a finger and striding to a wall where there was another rune that she placed her hand over and the empty doorway immediately filled with...another room.
“Pocket dimensions are oh-so handy, aren’t they?”
Wanda’s head jerked up as her boys rushed from the previously empty archway and tackled her around the waist. She placed her hands on their heads and hunched over trying desperately to hold them close.
“Again, I am sorry about that, Wanda,” Agatha drawled. “I hate having to lie, lie, lie, just to get what I want. It’s much easier to work together don’t you think?”
“What do you want?” Wanda’s tone was low and dangerous. “What do you want with me and my family?”
“I’ll be honest, honey, I really don’t want anything from you. I came here out of curiosity. You threw up quite the magical signal when you created this little Hex Universe of yours. The sheer structure and size should have been impossible for an ordinary witch, which clearly you are not.”
“So I’m just supposed to believe you wanted to help me?”
Agatha’s eyes grew haunted. “Is that really so hard to believe? Maybe I’m just as lonely as you, Wanda. Maybe I wanted to find someone like me.”
Salem, Massachusetts 1693
“Mother, I don’t want to do this,” Agatha whispered as she trailed behind the line of witches venturing deep into the forest. It was dark, the moon was full, and Agatha was afraid. Her mother whipped her head around to face Agatha and glowered.
“Hush, child, this is your duty to your coven and to your family,” she replied before turning back to the witches that trailed in front of her. Agatha cringed. Her mother had informed the coven that they were to meet with a man that night who offered them greater power than they could ever dream.
Agatha had learned a long time ago to not trust any promise that sounded too good to be true, but she was obedient to a fault and she followed along behind.
As the witches reached the clearing, Agatha noted the raised stone dais surrounded by blue flame. The witches took their place in the circle and began to chant, Agatha joining in, her voice barely a whisper.
The fires flared and died, leaving a man standing in center, regal and terrifying. His hair was black as the night and his eyes were red like burning coals, and Agatha could feel the sheer heat emanating from his mere presence. He held a box under one arm with a cape draped jauntily over his shoulder, disguising the symbols on the surface.
“Lovely to see you beautiful ladies,” he smirked.
“Mephisto,” Agatha’s mother called out with a firm voice, “You promised us a taste of power and I promised you release. Uphold your part and I will end the curse holding you in Hell.”
Mephisto rolled his eyes, and set the box at the edge of the flames. “As you wish, Lady Harkness. But I must warn you, power can be sharp as a double edged sword.”
Agatha’s mother scoffed before taking the box in her arms. She waved her hand and began to chant. A blue crown of magic began to take shape over her forehead as she and the other sisters cast a spell Agatha had never heard.
Before long the fires died down and Mephisto stepped over the borders they had created and he adjusted his shirt cuffs. He tipped his head in deference to Agatha’s mother before turning on his heel and striding towards the forest.
“I did warn you!” He called over his shoulder before disappearing into the dark.
“Mother, I don’t think we should trust him,” Agatha whispered, watching the box warily. “I fear we may be meddling in things far beyond our control.”
Agatha shrunk under the frosty glare of her mother and kept her opinions to herself. She watched as her mother placed the box upon the stone dais and raised the lid, an intense light bursting forth from the sunken depths and illuminating the entire clearing in a purple glow.
Her mother reached into the box with her bare hand, pulling from it’s depths a stone of wondrous shine, the source of the light.
And Agatha watched in horror as her mother began to disintegrate before her very eyes.
The other witches of the coven screamed, and at the sound of their voices they too began to turn to dust -- dust that was steadily pulled towards the stone as if it were feeding on their very essence. Agatha turned to run but she felt a tug at her center that gave her pause. She turned and faced the glowing stone, now hovering in the air unaided, and it felt as if it were looking straight into her soul.
A rattling voice echoed through her head.
The light exploded and Agatha was propelled through the air until she was slammed into the trunk of a large tree. The stone began to swirl with light and mist and a vortex opened in the air behind it, swallowing the stone and the light and leaving Agatha alone in the clearing.
2023, Outside the Hex
Tyler Hayward wasn’t a patient man. He didn’t like waiting and he didn’t like relying on others to do things he could have done faster and more efficiently. But he was the head of SWORD now and that required some strict delegation -- like waiting for his idiot scientists to finally maximize the power radiating off the missile Maximoff had dropped back at the base and using it to create a portal into the Hex.
Behind him was an enclosed pod standing upright, sleek and black and sealed. All he had to do was take his men into the Hex, release the Grey Vision to take out Wanda and one of the worst offenders of enhanced humans would no longer be a nuisance.
And then when he was lauded as a hero for returning with the revived Vision, and a dead Maximoff, he would pitch his idea to the Senate and United Nations that would prohibit the creation and use of enhanced and powered humans.
Monica didn’t understand. She had been gone during the five years after the destruction of half the life on earth. She hadn’t had to live with the consequences of allowing enhanced individuals to act as a beacon to the universe, drawing in the power mad, despotic, alien life forms that lived only to prove their superiority.
If taking out the enhanced individuals that alien life considered threats, then all the better. There would be no more incidents like Lagos, and no more threats like Thanos.
“Are you still not finished?” Hayward snapped at one of the lead scientists who had helped revive Vision with the Hex power.
“We’re sorry, sir, but this really isn’t the same area of expertise. If we still had Dr. Lewis --,” the man nattered before stopping at the murderous rage in Hayward’s eyes. “Apologies, I’ll work faster, sir.”
“We’re going to dismantle this Hex, take out Maximoff and her Alternate Vision, and turn the public opinion back against powered individuals like Maximoff and Danvers,” Hayward snapped. “So I’d appreciate it if you’d get us in there before the next century!”
The scientists scattered and Hayward turned back to the pod behind him, placing a hand flat on it’s surface.
“You will be the perfect weapon to execute my vision.”
Hayward heard a rumble coming from the Hex, and he smiled.
Westchester, New York 1984
Erik had cried more in the last twenty-four hours than he had in years. There was something about seeing his son’s face on the television screen, trapped in some warped reality that had pushed him to the brink. Finding out Peter had lost his twin, and Erik had lost a daughter he’d never even known, was like a blow to the sternum.
Because it was all his fault. Peter was gone, in danger, trapped, alone, and it was all Erik’s fault.
The Wanda of his universe was dead, destroyed by the very power that made her special, and it was all Erik’s fault.
Marya and Nina were dead , and it was all Erik’s fault.
Alone in his room he let another choked sob escape but he tried to keep it quiet. The students were asleep and he didn’t want to wake Charles or risk Jean picking up on the waves of grief that rolled over him.
He’d stolen one of Hank’s extra televisions two days previous and was now making his way through the tapes of recorded clips that had been picked up by Hank’s CMBR sensors. He’d been out with Charles investigating the disappearance of the little girl from the Bronx and he’d missed quite a lot of footage.
Wanda was an absolute darling. She was sweet and charming and beautiful. And she was also incredibly sad. Erik knew cognitively that she wasn’t his daughter but he couldn’t help but feel a vague sense of parental care as he caught glimpses of her grief and sorrow buried underneath the happy sitcom facade.
Her powers were incredible though, and Erik couldn’t help but be impressed with the entire scenario. It seemed as if Wanda’s hidden grief over something no one in the mansion had been able to quite suss out yet had resulted in her powers creating a perfect world where Wanda could be happy.
The next clip began to roll and Erik ran his fingers over his eyes, pinching the bridge of his nose. He had to collect himself. He was studying the clips, not just for reconnaissance on Wanda and any glimpse of Peter he might find, but to learn all that he could about the universe Peter had fallen into.
The next clip picked up in the middle of an ongoing conversation -- they frequently faded in and out of detection, and appeared randomly and never in any conceivable order. It was as if the wave itself was focused on bringing the most important information across the multiverse.
Wanda was seated at the edge of a large bed next to the man she called her husband in the television world. Erik wasn’t certain if they were truly married (or if Vision could rightly be called human), and the clip seemed to be from another time.
Wanda looked much younger than she did in the other sequences. Her hair was different, her makeup different, her clothes unusual and different from anything Erik had ever seen. Most of the scenes had been from decades he’d lived through and now he had to wonder if the universe next door was somehow ahead of his own.
Vision was saying something about humor when Wanda responded.
“No, he’s not really injured.”
Erik took a deep breath. Her accent -- she hadn’t had an accent in any of the other pieces of video in the CMBR as of yet. She’d sounded like Peter, American born and raised. Except, if Erik remembered correctly Peter wasn’t born in America -- he was born in Hungary, which was the last place Erik had ever seen Magda before he had left chasing after his demons. Was the alternate version of Wanda from Eastern Europe as well?
“It’s not that kind of show.”
Their conversation veered from whatever show they had been referencing as Vision asked Wanda about talking through her grief. Erik wondered briefly if “seeing him again” was a reference to her own version of Peter. If her surprise at Peter’s appearance on her doorstep was any indication, Wanda’s Pietro may have been dead for quite some time.
Like Peter’s Wanda.
“It’s just like this wave, washing over me again and again. It knocks me down, and when I try to stand up it just comes for me again. And I can’t…” Wanda paused and Erik held his breath. Wanda may not have been his daughter but it sounded like they were perhaps more alike than he initially believed. His own grief was a wave, never ending, and when he tried to fight it he always ended up hurting those closest to him.
“It’s just going to drown me.”
The clip ended abruptly there and Erik ejected the tape. He mulled Wanda’s words over and over in his mind, thinking of his own mistakes and his own grief that he had carried since he was a child. Perhaps Wanda also carried a grief so heavy she couldn’t fight it.
Erik vowed then, as he filed the videotape away, that no matter what happened when they reached Wanda’s universe -- he was going to protect her too.