Cataclysm Chapter 9


The Time Variance Authority: the once protectors of the sacred timeline found themselves with an entirely new job. While people were popping out of existence left and right, that was, as much as strange hated to hear it, what was meant to happen, and they weren’t going to do anything to stop it. Mobius explained this to a befuddled Strange as they walked through the office complex. Strange noticed as he walked that there were a few desks with paper signs reading “Absent” on them. He assumed that even this, whatever it was, was being affected by the Amalgam. Mobius explained what they were and what they did. Sometimes people slipped out of the timeline, they’d fix it. However, there was a new variant in the other world and they simply couldn’t reach him.

He walked the doctor towards a door that was locked tight and, before opening it, warned Strange about what he was about to see. The door opened and the pair walked into what appeared to be a prison hall. Hundreds of heroes, villains, even a few civilians were inside glass cells shouting at the doctor to save them. Mobius caught Strange’s horror at what he was seeing and quickly explained.

Motioning to them like a billionaire explaining their recent scam; he explained that these were people who had fallen out of the timeline and presumably had even fallen out of their own universe. Strange, familiar with the concept, asked how he was sure they were from another universe, he pointed to another Doctor Strange, rotting and banging at the jail cell door. Mobius simply told the living Strange that he was welcome, because of the TVA they weren’t dealing with a zombie outbreak on top of everything else.

Strange asked what he needed help with. Mobius smiled.

In the real world, the clean-up of the demolished city had wrapped up, more missing heroes, more missing civilians. Maria Hill oversaw collection of all the ISO-8 shards that the punisher had left; whatever had happened to him was certainly a new one. As she watched a mildly mournful looking Kitty Pryde scrape up a few scraps of the isotope with the tech that the lab boys had worked up, she placed her head in her hands. Strange came back, albeit for a second, Where the hell was Nick?

Nico stood with Wong in the Sanctorum. Both heard of Strange returning and Wong was attempting to do what Steven had done; attempting to peek into the other world they were in, Strange got caught up in the battle of the defenders before anything helpful could happen. This was much to S.H.I.E.L.D and their chagrin. Vision’s messages were not enough to figure out a location, an earth number, anything.

Nico sat down opposite Wong and closed her eyes, trying to focus with him, anything to try and get her teacher back. Chase was still watching over the runaways who had luckily avoided the waves sending them away. Their only plan was to try reaching Strange via magic and then maybe trying to go to wherever he was. It was easier said than done, all Wong was getting out of it was three letters: “T, V, A”.

Strange sat across Mobius as he explained what the plan was; There was soon to be a major event in the time that, if the variant was not caught in time, would go catastrophically. The timeline breaking to that level would be something they weren’t sure they could fix. Strange noticed something behind him as he was talking, he’d met many heroes and villains of all shapes but the one approaching behind him resembled one he’d only just met.

Mobius noticed, turned around and answered with a chuckle.

“That guy says his name is Wilson. And he’s going to be important.”

Loki wandered his cell in the playground world, he’d been pacing the same Twenty by Fifteen room since he’d brought the avengers to this wretched world. How many months had he been planning? He looked to the cell doors, waiting for his contact to meet him. A deal had been made, one that would spell bad news for the un-vanished heroes. A pretender had arrived, and offered him his staff and stone back in exchange for sending more people to this world.

He looked up, Wilson had soundlessly arrived with the staff; Space stone already implanted in it. Using the stone to phase it through the bars, he chipperly told Loki to remember the deal.

In the real world, in a S.H.I.E.L.D base, two soldiers were watching over the warehouse that the ISO-8 shards were being kept in. The men were talking about the missing heroes, placing bets on who would be next. The man on the right was joking that Maria would go next, and he’d get a promotion. The left just hoped that his ex-wife would go one way or another. Their chatter gave way to one of them noticing the sound of a truck accelerating, almost like it was getting closer, but-


The truck flattened the left, freeing him of his ex-wife in a morbid fashion. The right was carried by the truck and smashed to paste against the crates.

Two agents of A.I.M marched out the truck, blasting at the S.H.I.E.L.D agents that sprinted into the area upon hearing the crash. A peppy rookie for S.H.I.E.L.D barged one of the two A.I.M agents, crashing into other crates and scattering ISO-8 everywhere. As the A.I.M agent that was not tackled aimed at the rookie, of all things: a tank crashed through the wall. It crushed the truck and, lucky for the rookie, the Agent that was aiming at him into a bloody smear. 

A HYDRA agent stood atop the van, bewildered at the presence of the A.I.M. Of all times to plan a raid, it HAD to be now?!

Loki punctured the wall, it gave away into a portal; just what he was expecting. Wilson had informed him that this universe, whatever it was, wasn’t a “true” dimension, merely a facsimile; a sham, like a playground of people which he was enjoying playing hero; wishing Loki a “good luck”, Loki reached into it, and images flashed into his mind. A lone police officer, fighting off undead in a rainy city. A young boy discovering his father in a spaceship, agonisingly crying at the revelation. He reached his hand out as if he’d been shocked. He’d seen many things, been many things. This was something else.

Wilson sat at the table with the two of them. Strange offered a greeting out of courtesy. Mobius explained that Wilson was the first they’d pulled in here, albeit by mistake, they were trying to get a certain Pietro Maximoff, but accidentally dragged him in instead. Wilson followed on by explaining that the TVA  is able to see into the playground world, but can’t actually affect it in any meaningful way; an issue for dealing with variants within it.

Strange focused on the playground world, a small battalion of TVA agents surrounding him. Wilson and Mobius waited for Strange to do his thing, eager to get to work

Loki reached out again, he saw his own world. He grabbed towards it hastily, desperately. He didn’t know how long he’d have until someone noticed what he was doing. He saw the real version of his cell- whatever, he’d handle that too- with a shocked Daken staring at the portal. He crawled into the portal, pushing aside a universe where he saw a man in a blue Hawaiian shirt execute a black-clad mobster. He reached towards it as a few universes collided with him like dodgeballs. Looking to the side, he saw that obnoxious doctor that his brother knew. As he reached for the portal. he heard what sounded like an explosion. Then… Nothing.

Strange felt a jolt through him, he was being blocked from his body, what was happening? Mobius stared at him, expectantly. Strange began to try again.

Loki had stood in a cell, not the one he was in but…a cell all the same, where was he? He heard someone approach. A tired, angry looking Mobius approached him. 

“You really went and messed things up, didn’t you?”

Back in the empty cell Loki had left behind, Wilson carefully reached through the food slot for the staff that didn’t vanish with him. Grabbing the Space Stone; he left the complex quickly.

In the warehouse, amidst a scuffle between the three organisations; Captain America, dressed in a suit nobody in that earth had seen before, dropped in, throwing a shield at any HYDRA agents he could find. The SHIELD agents stopped in their place, staring at him in shock. Had the events been stopped?

The Winter soldier appeared behind him, shouting that he wasn’t Steve, that Steve had died and this impostor was mimicking a “Captain Carter”. 

Strange felt a jolt through him again. Mobius stared at him, this time impatiently. Strange tried again.

A wolverine, dressed in orange, impaled a HYDRA agent, throwing his bleeding out body at a fleeing AIM agent. 

Strange couldn’t do it. Something was keeping him outside his body. Mobius deflated. Wilson swore, what were they going to do, he begged with an impassioned plea for Strange to try one more time.

Cyclops shot at Wolverine, sneering at him. SHIELD didn’t waste time trying to shoot him: his outfit, a black and red affair, gave away his allegiances. Hawkeye, dressed as a Ronin, cut through a few SHIELD agents as the rookie dodged. Iron-man, looking bizarrely cartoon-y, engaged Captain America. The rookie hid behind crates as the heroes fought, what the hell was going on? As he frantically thought of a plan, a second Iron-man stood before him, adorned in a black armour. War Machine? The iron impostor grabbed the rookie and tossed him with ease, as he landed next to his gun, he reached to fire at the evil Iron-man. The bullets ricocheted off his armour as he effortlessly blasted a hole through a HYDRA agent who was attempting to flee.

The other Iron Man stared at the faker, charging his repulsor beam, he fired. The rookie noticed a Shard at his feet; and decided he needed to make a sacrifice. Tossing it in front of the beam, he held his breath as the world started to warp.

Strange tried to enter his body one more time, the offices of the T.V.A started to bend, Wilson recognised it as Mobius stared, shocked at what he was seeing. The outsider dived to join Strange, realising it was a wave event.

The real Iron Man doubled over in pain, getting memories of himself as a teenager, fighting to avenge his dad. Captain america joined him, they both recovered and gave each other a look, realising a new wave had happened.

Strange was in his sanctorum, Wilson next to him, he motioned with his hands and opened a portal to the Avengers tower and the pair rushed through it. Fury was about to ask for a status report, until he noticed a thing that made everyone’s heart stop. There were two Wilsons.

The Wilson that stood with the Avengers began to laugh, it was a strange, awful, wheezing laugh. His face appeared to get darker. The Wilson with Dr Strange angrily met his gaze. The Fake Wilson shrugged, revealing his true colours, and sneered that he was having fun while it lasted but now it was time to end it. A Space stone portal popped up behind him and before anyone could do anything, he left with a sneer.

“This playground was fun, but it’s time to close it.”

Everyone was quiet, Fury’s earpiece went off, a few HYDRA and AIM agents had come to the world; and a hapless Rookie. He sighed, time to get to work.

The warehouse in the real world was empty, save for a black-clad Iron Man trying to get his footing, whatever that had taken everyone but him; unbeknownst to him, he avoided having his memories merged into the playground Stark. He looked up to end up meeting an angry looking man surveying the damage. Mobius turned to Loki, wearing the same jacket as him and said that this was what happens when people try to escape the playground. Loki stayed quiet. Mobius jammed a stick with a lit end into the Stark Variant’s throat and just like that, the Iron man vanished into dust.

Mobius motioned for Loki to follow, and the pair left as Maria Hill scrambled into the destroyed warehouse, flanked with Hope Van Dyne and Bishop to survey the damage. As they were taking stock of the damaged and vanished ISO-8 shards, a hole in the ceiling lit up with a brilliant light. 

Adam Warlock landed in front of the perplexed and frankly, tired of this gimmick trio. He looked up and said only one sentence.

“Thanos is coming.”