The Secret Defenders stood on a rock plateau in a massive subterranean cavern that looked like the classic Judeo-Christian version of Hell.
“Well this is…horrible” groaned Cadaver as he gripped his sword “So what’s the plan?”
“I find who took my son,” snarled Bengal snatching the sword “And I jam these into his heart!”
“Are we ACTUALLY in…?” asked Cathy as she looked around at the horrors.
“We are in Mephisto’s realm” stated Doctor Strange as he cast a spell over them “It is known as Hell or Hades”
“My skin feels tingly” said Lorna “What did you cast?”
“A minor cloaking glamour” replied Stephen “Anything bigger and it would immediately alert Mephisto to our presence. It will keep us slightly hidden”
“Worst. Plan. Ever” stated Cadaver “I thought you were the Sorcerer Supreme. So this Mephisto, probably knows were coming because we’re here in his house, right?” Doctor Strange went to speak when Cadaver waved him off “So we’ve already been made. I suggest we wreck the joint like a bunch of teenagers and let Bengal…” Cadaver turned and the silent assassin was already gone “Well he’s off seeking revenge!”
“I like it!” smiled Lorna as she reached out with her magnetism and grabbed hold of a large section of roof “Lot of magnetite and iron oxide in here” With a wave of her hand she pulled and brought down tonnes of rock in a massive avalanche.
“Don’t just stand there doc” Cadaver bumped Stephen almost playfully “Break something”
Doctor Strange smirked; it was a rarity that he actually got to cut loose, especially against such a hated opponent as the spell of the Seven Suns of Cinnibus formed upon his lips and the burst from his hands ripping into the bedrock. Hell shook. Free Spirit stood close to Cadaver as the mutant mistress of magnetism and the Sorcerer Supreme torn the realm asunder.
The air rippled and the realm shook as the evil master of the dimension appeared before them from a cloud of sulphurous gas; his teeth gritted. He waved a taloned hand the damage done to his home was instantly healed.
“You dare!” he spat as he looked at the group, Cathy shrunk back behind Cadaver.
“You brought this upon yourself” said Dr Strange.
“The mortal speck of a magician!” growled Mephisto “And his band of ragtag misfits”
“Misfit huh?” said Lorna as she grabbed another chunk of roof and slammed it down upon him with a thunderous crash “How do you like that?”
Mephisto rose from the rubble like a phoenix from the ashes, growing in height and mass.
“I think you pissed him off!” whimpered Cadaver as he shuffled back, Cathy clinging to his back. Doctor Strange cast a shield over them all as Mephisto opened his mouth and roared a column of flame that engulfed them. The shield buckled under the ferocity but held. Mephisto wiped his mouth and returned to normal human size.
“You bunch of pathetic, insignificant nobodies!” laughed Mephisto “I give you purpose and this is how you repay me?”
“What?” snapped Strange.
“Oh come now Stephen” smiled Mephisto “If it wasn’t for your meddling, this pack of forgotten toys would have been my personal squad, doing my bidding and simply happy that someone remembered who they were! Free Spirit, washed up, forgotten and teaching in small town America. Lorna Dane the forgotten daughter of Magneto adrift in the world with no purpose. Cadaver, the discarded weapon of Agamotto digging graves. I gave you all purpose, meaning. And this is the thanks I get!” Mephisto shook his head “Ungrateful”
“You manipulated my identity to make heroes do your dirty work” said Dr Strange.
“Well when you say it, it sounds cheap, but yes” gloated the demon “I needed a man killed who’d promised me his soul in return for power. He was actually getting close to completing his end of our bargain. I can’t outright kill him, but you can!” He pointed at Lorna “Thank you”
“I’m going to smash another rock across your head” growled Lorna as her hands bristled with energy.
“Pointless the first time” said Mephisto dismissively “He’s dead, I win his soul and you all thought you did a good deed. He was by your mortal standards, a bad man. So what’s your problem?”
“YOU USED ME!” shrieked Cathy as she marched forward “YOU THINK I’M NOTHING BECAUSE I’M A TEACHER AND NOT A FULL TIME SUPERHERO? I’M GOING TO PULL YOUR FORKED TONGUE OUT AND CHOKE YOU WITH IT!”
“This is why I chose you Cathy” chuckled Mephisto “All that rage, but no focus! This mission gave you that”
Cadaver touched his belt and then frantically patted himself down “Where’s my sword?”
“What?” said Dr Strange.
“My sword is missing! I just had it”
Mephisto looked at the two women, protected by their mystical shield, their eyes aflame with hatred “I do love scorned women.”
“What about a wronged father?”
The Sword of Bone burst through Mephisto’s sternum. He screamed like an animal and tried to change shape but Bengal grabbed him by the hair, pulled his hair back and yelled into his ear.
“Return my son now, or I will cut your head off!”
Mephisto clumsily clicked his fingers and Minh Tran appeared, startled but unharmed.
“Threaten me, my family or my friends” whispered Bengal into the demon’s ear “And I will end you!”
Bengal withdrew the sword and Mephisto collapsed on the ground, coughing from the wound from the magical weapon.
“Take that!” cheered Cadaver.
Lorna shrugged “Sure it might do nothing, but god it feels good!” and pulled another large section of roof down onto him.
“Hopefully you have learnt something today, evil one” said Dr Strange as he cast a spell of transportation “Let us leave this place” And with that they were gone.
Mephisto slowly rose from the rubble, his wound nearly healed. “Well played Secret Defenders, well played. But that was merely a battle in a war, a war that will continue til long after you are all dead. Though I would’ve like to use you again, seems I will have to resort to plan B”
177A Bleecker Street, Greenwich Village
Doctor Strange and the Secret Defenders arrived back in his Sanctum Sanctorum with a slight jolt. Lorna turned to Cody “Drink?”
“You want to have a drink? With me?” He scratched his head “Really?”
“After laughing about your Sword of Bone and then seeing it nearly decapitate the Devil, its definitely my round”
“What about you? You nearly collapsed Hell! That was great” The pair wandered off towards the door. Bengal glared at the magician before slightly nodding his head, then quietly slipping away with his son. Cathy’s hands were clenched into tight balls of rage as she stood looking at the floor, her body quivering.
“Are you okay?” asked Stephen.
Cathy lashed out and knocked him to the floor with a hard punch to the jaw “Its things like that, combined with dumb questions, is why we broke up! Get your act together Stephen!”
The Sorcerer Supreme sat on his butt, rubbing his jaw as Free Spirit stormed out of his house and his life, for the second time.
Anaconda, Montana, one week later
“Welcome to the Secret Avengers!”a slightly odd smile was on the bastion of liberty’s lips, unseen by the gathered heroes, who were just thankful that someone remembered them.
That's the end of my Secret Defenders run...for now anyways. Hope you enjoyed it