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177A Bleecker Street, Manhattan
“You don’t seem too bothered by Rintrah” said Dr Strange nodding towards the massive green minotaur standing in the corner of the room, muscular arms folded across his chest watching his master and his guest. Dr Strange poured some tea into two cups and walked over to the lounge.
Lorna took the cup and blew the steam off “I’ve seen worse at open days at the X-Mansion”
“So, please explain what happened Laura”
“Lorna” she corrected “You don’t remember me, do you?”
“I’m afraid no,” Dr Strange waved the minotaur off “I have met several incarnations of the X-Men and I am…was…an acquaintance of Charles” He paused thinking upon the founder of the X-Men “And have worked with Logan several times, but I do believe I would recall someone as striking as you!”
“Save the charm doctor,” Lorna magnetically pulled a tea spoon laden with sugar from across the room and made it stir her tea, all whilst looking directly at the sorcerer “I don’t like being used. Now from where I stand, you sent me and three others to Mexico to stop an illegal DVD ring”
“That is odd;” he sipped his tea “I normally deal with the mystical”
“Which is what Cody said”
“Cody? Is that the boy who looks like a corpse?”
“Uh huh” Lorna sipped her tea “You two seemed pretty chummy”
“I have met him once” Dr Strange stood and touched the brooch that held his cape “He was resurrected by Agamotto, to be his wrath in the War of the Seven Spheres. Why him?” Stephen waved his hands, purple prisms and red sparks flew into the air as he cast a spell.
“What are you doing?” asked Lorna hesitantly.
“I am casting a divination spell to…” The doctor was cut off as a ball of crimson energy exploded sending him and Lorna flying across the room. The parlour door smashed off its hinges as Rintrah charged through it.
“Master?” He ran to Stephen’s side scooping him up.
“I-I am okay” he panted tapping the minotaur on the arm.
“What the hell was that!?!” yelled Lorna as she got up from under the arm chair.
Dr Strange wiped his forehead “Mephisto!”
“And what is a Mephisto?” said Lorna as she wiped tea off her pants.
“He is the dark lord of the Nether Hells” said Dr Strange “We have to reassemble the group to work out what exactly he was up to!”
Dr Strange and Lorna Dane appeared at the front door of an apartment in a modest block. Lorna looked around “That was similar to what happened last time; how don’t I know this is just another trick?”
Dr Strange looked at her “I suppose you’ll have to trust me”
“Last time I trusted you doc, or at least someone who looked like you, I killed a guy” said Lorna “You’re going to have to do better that that!”
“What would you like me to do Laura?”
“Firstly, you call me the wrong name again,” Lorna warned “And I’ll break your nose! How do I know this isn’t another demon taking me for a ride?”
Dr Strange looked at her “You have my word as sorcerer supreme of this dimension Lorna”
Dr Strange stammered unsure how to answer as Lorna placed a hand on his shoulder and knocked on the door “Its okay doc, you let me at this Mephisto and we’ll call it even”
The door opened and Cathy Webster opened the door, pen in her mouth, arm full of papers “Harr-oo?” she mumbled.
“Hello Cathy” said Dr Strange.
“Do you actually know this guy?” said Lorna, a bit perturbed.
Cathy pulled the pen from her mouth “We dated. Can I help you both, I have papers to mark”
Palm Mortuary, Henderson, Nevada
Dr Strange, Lorna Dane & Cathy Webster teleported into the quaint cemetery with immaculately kept lawns. The sounds of digging came from an open grave.
“Cody?” asked Dr Strange.
“Just a minute” came the voice from the hole. After a few minutes a shrivelled grey hand shot out of the grave and hauled a grey corpse from the grave, just like a horror film. He stood and dusted himself off “So what can…oh this can’t be good”
“No Cody it isn’t” said Dr Strange “I need to reassemble the group that went to Mexico”
“Something to do with that tall, dark stranger I saw I’m guessing” replied Cody “Hello ladies, nice to see you again”
“You work in a cemetery?” asked Cathy.
“Not all of us are one of the pretty people” said Cody “Besides, the hours are reasonable, the pay is good and nobody hassles me. Plus I get to scare drunk teenagers”
Tiger Claw Gym, Brooklyn
The group teleported into the gym.
“Hello?” called Lorna “Anyone home?”
Out of the darkness, two sais sailed towards her head. Lorna quickly raised her hands and stopped them magnetically, but that didn’t stop the foot that smacked her across the face. Bengal set upon them like his namesake, knocking Cadaver across the room before turning on Dr Strange.
“WHERE IS MY SON?” rasped Bengal as his hands gripped around Dr Strange’s throat. Cathy leapt on Bengal from behind and put a choke hold on him.
“Let him go” ordered Cathy as she squeezed his windpipe. Bengal grabbed Strange and shunted him up, causing him to head butt Cathy who released her grip. Bengal smashed a back kick into Cathy before turning his full attention back to Dr Strange.
“WHERE IS MY SON? YOU PROMISED YOU’D PROTECT HIM?” Bengal grabbed either side of Stephen’s head and shook it like a magic eightball.
“If you’ve broken my nose,” yelled Lorna as she picked up a punching bag with her powers and swung it by the chain like a mace and slammed it into Bengal’s head knocking him across the room and into Cadaver.
“Settle down tiger pants” said Cadaver as he tackled Bengal “Seems we all got played” Bengal smashed a knee into Cadaver’s groin, but to no avail. Cody shrugged “No nerve endings, no pain receptors, no…” Bengal smashed his forehead into Cody’s jaw dislocating it and wriggled free of the grip.
The punching bag hit him again knocking him clean across the room and into the wall.
“Stay down!” warned Lorna.
“Let the Crimson Bands of Cyttorak bind you!” Red energy shot from Dr Strange’s hands and bound Bengal in a tight crimson package.
“Ahh riddle hlp” mumbled Cody pointing to his jaw. Cathy took the hanging jaw in her hands and popped it back into place “Thanks”
Dr Strange walked towards Bengal “What happened?”
“You said if I helped you, you would protect my son” said Bengal “Now you have taken my son!”
“I haven’t taken your son” replied Dr Strange “I promise you” With a click he removed the restraints. Bengal stepped up, grabbed Dr Strange by the collar and drew him eye to eye.
“You best explain yourself mage!” growled Bengal
E 149th St New York The Fallen Angel Tavern
“It seems my identity has been compromised by the major demon known as Mephisto” explained Dr Strange to the quartet as they reassembled in the tavern where they first met. “Assembling my old team of Secret Defenders for some nefarious plot.”
“So what’s the plan?” asked Cadaver as he sipped his beer “Invade hell or something?”
Dr Strange nodded “Exactly!”
“We’re going to hell…literally?” asked Cathy.
“A hell dimension, but essentially yes” replied Dr Strange “Mephisto has used me and used you. By masquerading as me, he has tricked Lorna into killing a man and taken Bengal’s son.”
“If my son is harmed, I will kill you!” stated Bengal.
“Understood” said Dr Strange as he waved his hands and conjured up a portal to Mephisto’s realm. Heat and wind gushed from the opening in the centre of the bar “Are you ready?”
The Secret Defenders, led by Bengal, marched into hell.