Horangi and Skarra reached the doorway as chaos erupted inside the bar. Skarra drew to one side, pressing her back against the bulkhead, and closed her eyes. While this certainly wasn’t her first fight—one couldn’t be part of the Orlando’s crew without seeing battle—the noise . . . the chaos . . . it reminded her of the madness that had swept across Miskandar in the planet’s last days. She felt claustrophobic, and fought the urge to panic.
“What are you doing?” Horangi asked.
Skarra opened her eyes. “What I always do to survive. Hide.”
“You’ll never get vengeance by hiding.”
Horangi shifted form in the blink of an eye. Skarra was stunned by the speed of the transformation. The twelve-foot-tall fiery tiger pounced into the bar, and was immediately attacked by a pistol-waving Badoon. The alien leveled the weapon at her, but before it could squeeze the trigger, Horangi swiped at it with one burning paw, simultaneously removing most of her attacker’s face and cauterizing the wound. The Badoon shrieked in muffled anguish, its mouth a blistered scar. Then Horangi bounded deeper into the fracas, slashing and clawing.
Skarra peered around the doorframe and saw Thor surrounded by a dozen combatants. As she watched, the group rushed him, trying to crush him beneath their weight. At first he disappeared under the mass of bodies, but then his captors suddenly flew apart like rag dolls as he regained his footing and shoved them away with a shrug.
She heard footsteps pounding down the corridor behind her and turned to see Nott and Dagr running into the bar, their weapons at the ready.
“Come on, little one,” Dagr grunted. “You’ll miss all the fun!”
The two Frost Giants waded into battle, swinging their axes and mowing down attackers six at a time.
Swallowing hard, Skarra stepped cautiously into the room. It was hard to tell who was fighting whom. Some patrons seemed oblivious to Thor, Horangi, Nott, and Dagr, choosing instead to settle what she assumed must be personal scores against others in the crowd. But those who did engage her companions easily outnumbered them. Worse, the second bouncer, the one Thor had hit on the head, was slowly regaining consciousness, twitching and spasming as people fought over it or fell atop it. The creature lashed out with massive arms, knocking the combatants aside, and lumbered to its feet.
“Thor, look out!” Skarra warned.
Thor seemed oblivious, but she had attracted some else’s attention.
A knife-wielding alien emerged from a dark corner, neon lights flashing across its almost translucent skin. It looked Skarra up and down and then smiled.
“That gray fur will make a nice coat. Be a good dear and hold still while I cut it off you.”
Terrified, Skarra backed away, but suddenly Horangi appeared, landing atop the alien and smashing it to the ground. With two quick movements, she ripped its arms off and tore out its throat. Then, with a roar, the tiger bounded back into the fray. Shuddering, Skarra pried the knife from the mangled alien’s grip. The weight felt comforting in her hand.
Twelve members of a Brood gang surrounded Nott and Dagr in a tight circle and tried to close ranks, hovering at table height. The stingers on their tails dripped noxious, steaming, caustic fluid and their buzzing voices were like razors in the pair’s ears. Every time the Frost Giants struck at them, the Brood darted out of range.
Then, as Skarra watched, Nott dropped her axe and seized one of the aliens by its tail, narrowly avoiding the razor-sharp barb at the tip. The Brood squawked as she yanked the creature out of the air. Then, she proceeded to use it like a flail, swinging the alien by the tail in a wide arc, and smashing it into the rest of the gang. The Brood collectively collapsed in a pile of shattered wings and gooey pulp. Dagr danced atop them, smearing the floorboards with their remains.
Skarra sensed an electromagnetic bandwidth powering up behind her. She whirled to find a Chitauri attempting to charge some sort of energy pistol. He slapped the malfunctioning weapon’s side. Growling, Skarra ducked low and struck out with her leg, sweeping the alien off his feet. The pistol slipped from his grasp and skittered across the bloodstained floor. Before her opponent could recover, Skarra fell upon him. Her knife flashed in the neon light. When she was sure that the Chitauri wouldn’t be able to hurt her, she stood up, panting. Her attention returned to the other frenzied combatants.
The bouncer bulldozed through the crowd, bearing down on Thor once more. Then it stopped, arms at its side, and the single large eye in the middle of its head began to glow brighter. Skarra realized that Thor had his back to the...