Into the Rift, the Valkyrie flew, their formation showcasing a powerful and united unit. Surrounding them, in the Netherrealm, or as the Asgardians called it, the Middle Passage, were massive turrets of brimstone that rose in the darkness. The black sky was punctured by a myriad of colorful lights that cast the Valkyrie under a rainbow-colored glow.
The Netherrealm was undoubtedly ethereal but the dangers in the darkness kept the Valkyrie tense and ready to fight. It wasn’t long before those exact dangers emerged from the deep; shadow-like creatures called Nevix clambering up the brimstone turrets. Their moaning cries filled the air as they clawed and jumped at the Valkyrie, their open maws revealing fiery innards.
“Keep formation and follow me!” Samantha yelled as she slashed a Nevix that was jumping at her from above.
“Yes, sir!” her Valkyrie responded.
Valkyrie sent her Pegasus, Destiny, into a steep dive, for down in the depths they would reach Hel, hence Hela.
The Nevix continued to assault them in staggering droves but they were no match for the combined strength of the Valkyrie who simply swatted the creatures out of the air with practiced efficiency.
Samantha could see the bottom approaching. It appeared to be a stone floor the grey-black color of storm clouds against the nighttime sky but she knew better. It was simply a facade hiding the entrance to Hel. Or at least, she hoped so.
She could feel her mount’s hesitance beneath her but she urged Destiny onward with a squeeze of her thighs, emphasizing that she had everything under control. And sure enough, as her Pegasus’s nose would’ve collided with the ground at full force instead it passed through the ground, entering what was instead a thick layer of black clouds.
Samantha couldn’t see a thing. It was as if every light in existence had been turned off.
“Valkyrie, are you with me?” she called as she continued to dive.
“Yes, we are with you!” she could hear Priscilla and the rest of the Valkyrie call behind her.
“Stay vigilant! We could face anything in here!”
As soon as she said that there was a flicker of blue light in the darkness. A Valkyrie cried out.
“Light!” the warrior exclaimed with relief.
The light flickered again and this time Samantha could see that it wasn’t a simple play of luminescence in the darkness. Illuminated in the flash of blue light was a long spiky row that resembled a range of mountains. That is if mountains moved.
“Valkyrie, break ranks! That light is not our friend!” Valkyrie said, dipping Destiny to the side.
In response, the Pegasi whinnied in horror, as if they could see what the Valkyrie could not. A second later, there was no more guessing of what the light belonged to. The very space in the blackness before them was illumined by a monstrous dragon whose body, covered in inky scales, was coursing with wavelengths of blue light. Its maw opened, revealing a neon blue pit that sent forth a stream of blue flame, catching a screaming Valkyrie in the blast.
“No!” one of the Valkyrie screamed for her friend as she barely managed to evade the blast.
Samantha pulled Destiny around, her sword poised for battle.
“Valkyrie, attack!” she commanded.
The Valkyrie didn’t hesitate. With defiant yells, they descended like an angry swarm upon the massive dragon in the darkness, piercing the dragon’s thick armor to the hide with their Asgardian swords. The creature roared in agony as it twisted in the air, catching a Valkyrie with a swing of its tail before incinerating another warrior with a quick burst of blue flame.
Samantha refused to see another Valkyrie perish at the hands of this beast. She sent Destiny into a dive straight for the dragon’s head, rising to a crouch on the Pegasus’s back. As soon as she was in range she jumped, momentarily freefalling through the blackness, before landing directly on top of the dragon’s head. As she rolled she thrust her sword directly into the dragon’s cranium.
The creature’s fiery blue eyes widened in shock. It began to roll in the air, striving to shake her off, but she grabbed one of its scales and managed to hang on.
Priscilla adopted her tactic, jumping off of her own Pegasus onto the dragon’s back where she was able to pierce the dragon more efficiently. The rest of the Valkyrie followed suit, jumping onto the terrifying beast and stabbing the creature with their swords until the dragon released a final roar and died, tumbling into a black abyss.
The Valkyrie dismounted the beast, jumping onto the back of their Pegasi and flying to safety. Even though they were thrust back into darkness Samantha could see a glimmer of grey in the distance.
“Follow me!” she commanded again, leading the Valkyrie to the spot of light in the depths of the Netherrealm.
That light was the entrance to Hel, to their enemy, and to whatever fate awaited them.
The lightning flickering in the brewing storm clouds over New Asgard resembled the flicker of the dragon’s light in the Middle Passage. Chills ran down her spine and not because of the cold. Instead, it felt as if the very sky was an omen to this next chapter in her life.