|Ava Starr / Ghost (stealthyy) wrote in avengers_logs,|
@ 2019-06-14 16:07:00
Although Strange’s texts had come as a surprise, Scott was quick to throw on some pants (the lifestyle of the unemployed, ladies and gentlemen) and snag his suit. There was a little voice in the back of his head reminding him that his last foray into the quantum realm to get healing particles hadn’t gone so well, but leaving Ghost to be tortured and killed by her own body wasn’t an option. There was no alternative, here. Besides, if it wasn’t for her, he’d have never been trapped in the quantum realm in the first place, never learned how differently time had worked there, never insisted on a Time Heist. She’d kind of saved the universe.
Well, the other one.
And since they hadn’t gotten to help her there yet, Scott felt particularly responsible to see it got done here. He was first through Strange’s portal, quick to thank the wizard for his help and assure him they’d take it from here.
“Hey, Ava,” he greeted, sympathetic. “Hope’s coming. We’re gonna get this figured out.”
Hope was right behind her partner in all things bug. She had her suit, just in case, her hair swinging in a ponytail - but her job was going to be manning the controls. The built-from-scratch (and without requiring parts from shady businessmen) tunnel could be used to send someone to a specific coordinate within the quantum realm; now, it was just a matter of finding it.
And they would. Quickly. Ava’s particular condition meant that she was basically bleeping in and out of what they all knew as the earthly plane - she existed in multiple parallel universes, which was kind of strange yet fascinating to consider. Painful for her, however.
“Shouldn’t take long,” she assured. “And we’ve already been through the whole ‘yay, let’s turn to dust’ thing, so - Scott will just be in and out.” To reassure him (as well as herself), she locked eyes with him - conveying how much she needed him to come back in one piece.
Then she booted up the tunnel mechanics, flipping switches and adjusting dials to tune to the correct frequency.
“It’s good to see you both,” Ava greeted them once they’d arrived through the portal. “Thank you for coming so quickly.” Two familiar faces did a world of good for her fractured nerves, though it wasn’t really visible - the outline of her body was still phasing in and out as she spoke. Being transported from one universe to a new one apparently hadn’t been ideal in her state.
But with any luck, that would soon be remedied; thanks to the two of them.
“I appreciate the risk you’re taking,” she directed to Scott, sincerity in her tone since she knew well what had happened the last time he’d taken a trip to the quantum realm. But there would be no turning to dust this time, leaving him there without a way to return.
Ava took up position next to Hope at the controls. She wasn’t as familiar in how the tunnel worked, but if Hope needed anything during the process; she wanted to be close by just in case. For all that the two of them had experience and knew what they were doing, it was still a bit unsettling to watch the process. After what had happened to her parents, just being around a quantum tunnel didn’t exactly set her at ease. But this was necessary now, if she was to have any semblance of normal functioning; as well as a break from the constant pain.
For all the pain she was in, it impressed Scott that Ava had made a point to be empathetic. Her experience with a quantum tunnel had been way more negative than his, so she had every right to downplay his misgivings - or ignore them, at the very least. The fact that she’d acknowledged them instead went a long way in reaffirming that this was just The Right Thing To Do. He smiled in reply, hoping to pass some of that reassurance he’d gotten from Hope along with it, and wandered over to the control panel himself to scour it for the collection unit.
Once he’d plucked the device from a small tray nearby, he returned to the opening of the tunnel. “Ready when you guys are,” he announced, offering the girls an almost-too-enthusiastic thumbs up, and popped his helmet into place. In and out. No problem.
When all the buttons had been pushed, the collection units decoupled, the countdowns said, Scott returned in exactly one piece. The mic had been uncharacteristically quiet during the trip, with the exception of confirming that he’d made it in and was ready for extraction, and he’d be lying if he said he hadn’t tensed up - as much as anybody could tense when they were floating around in another realm - when Hope had started preparing for him to leave. But once he was out, collection unit in hand, he could breathe a little easier. The helmet fell back as he offered the device to Hope. “See, that was easy. I don’t know what you were so worried about.” By which he meant: I don’t know what I was so worried about, but teasing you makes me feel better.
After Scott had disappeared deep into the depths of the quantum realm, Hope remained at the controls - and with Ava. “It’s good to see you too,” she told the other woman, hand resting on her arm comfortingly - even when the edges of her flickered in and out; but it was meant to be a grounding force, something to assure her that help was coming. Hope still didn’t think she’d ever be as compassionate as Janet - she just had been raised by Hank and thus emotionally stunted for far too long - but she could try. Her mother’s influence rubbed off on her sometimes.
But there help was - now, finally, Ava could exist on this plane as opposed to flickering back and forth, never truly existing in either. They might need to take future trips into the quantum realm, because the canister only held so much energy, but they could figure that out later - to be honest, Hope wasn’t going to complain about taking more trips. There was still so much she personally wanted to know and understand about the quantum realm.
“Scott!” For now, she breathed an audible sigh of relief when she saw him with the specialized canister meant for collecting healing particles, a different and distinct form of quantum energy - they were all still learning, to parse through the thirty years worth of knowledge about the quantum realm Janet could convey to them. But it was fascinating, learning about the mirror worlds beyond mirror worlds, other dimensions, ones teeming with incredible color and life - there were whole cities, civilizations even. It was why Hope was always working, always researching - she wanted to know more.
“This way,” she led them to what could be called a transference chamber - but she could calibrate the machine to take the energy from the canister once inserted, and the particles would be absorbed by Ava in waves. Similar to the chamber Bill built for her, but it was something Hope had devised as part of her goal to study the healing effects of quantum particles over time. If they had the ability to aid in curing diseases, well, it would be a breakthrough. “After you,” she motioned for Ava to step inside. “Slide the canister in here,” she added to Scott. “I know it looks like an ATM machine, but.” It would work.
Ava gave Hope a somewhat shaky smile at the gesture; the other woman’s hand did phase through hers (which was frustrating, it always was), but she appreciated the gesture regardless. After all the bad blood between Hank and Bill, and the fact that Ava had been hell bent on harming Hope, Scott and their families at one point to get what she needed to survive; the fact that the two of them were willing to help her now was hard to fathom. She had seen and done so much harm working for SHIELD, but if these two were willing to give her a second chance; maybe there really was a way back from everything she’d done in the past.
The time Scott disappeared then reappeared wasn’t a very long wait, but Ava still felt as if she was holding her breath - concerned that something might again wrong terribly wrong; like it had the last time. Old traumas and all, it was hard to shake sometimes.
She let out a breath of relief when he was back; wasting no time in heading over to the chamber to await the next phase of all of this. It reminded her of Bill’s chamber, but with any luck; she would not be reliant upon either chamber to barely scrape by in terms of functioning. She was a little nervous and hesitant (would this really work?), but overall, trying to remain focused and steady as possible. “I’m ready when you are,” she said to both Hope and Scott.
Ava couldn’t have been more than a few years younger than Hope, but standing there in that chamber, waiting for the little bit of relief he held in his hands, Scott couldn’t help but think of how young she looked. How young she must have been when SHIELD had turned her into a weapon. How long she’d been in pain.
And he hoped this was a long-term solution, truly. Scott had no doubt it would work, as his partner in crime was a literal genius, but it was possible that their Ghost friend’s disease was particularly advanced and she’d need additional sessions in the chamber. So long as she was solid, though, he’d call this a win.
“All right, here we go,” he replied, with an optimistic smile in Ava’s direction, and slid the canister into the receptacle. Hand now free, he settled it between Hope’s shoulder blades - a silent, physical gesture of support.
It was possible to visit the quantum realm and not ‘get dead,’ as they say, as long as there was caution taken and enough preparation - so Hope felt good about this, and about more trips in the future as well. There was so much that could be done with not only quantum energy in varying forms, but just the knowledge of the realm in general - like, time travel anyone? Not only that, but a slew of other things scientists would salivate over.
The canister shot up and over, traveling through the various tubes on a path toward its destination - which was another receptacle on the opposite end of the chamber, where the canister’s lid opened and the sides of the chamber glowed. The waves pulsed, quantum energy dispersed.
And sunk into Ava, practically lighting her up from within.
Hope nearly whooped with joy. But no, she could keep it cool. And calm. “How do you feel?” she asked Ava - her excitement was tempered by taking Scott’s hand and squeezing. We did it ajhfdsahkjdhfkja.
Without thinking, Ava felt herself tense up when the chamber began to glow - for a split second concerned that something could go wrong. After being in the blast zone of a massive quantum energy explosion once before; it was just a reflex she couldn’t really control.
Fortunately though, nothing went wrong this time. What happened instead felt somewhat similar to when Janet had placed both her hands on the side of Ava’s face - except this was on a much, much larger scale. The pulses of quantum energy washed over her in steady bursts; none of it was painful (which she appreciated), and when she closed her eyes she could gradually start to feel her own molecules stitching back together. Except this time, they stayed that way; rather than ripping apart over and over again. “I think it’s working,” she responded to Hope, and really that was all she could tell at the moment, but it was promising.
Ava wasn’t sure how much time passed, but when the chamber eventually released its final pulse; she slowly brought her hands up to examine them. Afraid to test it out, but also filled with anticipation, she reached out to rip a glove off and was surprised to find that her hands touched down upon the material without issue - no phasing, not even a flicker.
Is this possible?
She felt her heart start to pound in her chest; excitement, hope, and shock flooded her system as she took her other glove off. When she pressed her hands together and was able to actually feel the weight of her own skin, an elated smile broke across her face and she was out of the chamber in seconds.
Ava was not typically a hugger, but she practically flung herself at Hope, and then yanked Scott into said hug as well. It was a brief but enthusiastic embrace; because the fact that she even could physically hug them right now was a miracle to her. When she let go she held out her hand and was able to phase it through the table with ease, without her body flickering in and out like it typically had. Her body felt solid, in a way it hadn’t in a very, very long time.
“Is this—is this real?” she said softly, her gaze alternating between the two of them; a hesitant but hopeful smile on her face. “Will this last?”
There was a weird sort of beauty in the way the chamber lit up, pulsed. Not all that surprising when you considered the weird sort of beauty of its source, but surreal to see here, in this realm. His grip on Hope’s hand tightened as the waves rolled over Ava, breath held more in awe than apprehension. She wasn’t screaming or writhing in pain, so he had to believe the chamber was working as intended. Luckily, she was able to confirm for them that she felt something - and that it wasn’t horrible.
The exact opposite, really, if the way she darted out of the chamber and taken them both into her arms.
Scott laughed a little, energized by her excitement, and reached out to pat her shoulder when she broke away from them. “Yeah, Hope’s pretty good at this stuff,” he said, figuring that would serve as his vote of confidence.
“We’re both pretty good at it,” Hope grinned, still a little breathless from the spike of nerves that seemed to catapult through them all, and then the hug from Ava. She’d responded with a surprised but happy oomph and managed to return that hug - because, no, Hope wasn’t really a hugger either. But in this case, the gesture was warranted.
And to think that before, Ava had knocked her and Scott unconscious and tied them to chairs (plus Hank). How things had changed for the better.
“As for its lasting power, well - “ She had to be honest, since she wasn’t about to lie to Ava like SHIELD had for so long. This was a new era, a new SHIELD entirely - and besides, the woman had been deceived enough in her life. “We’re not sure because we’ve never done anything like this before, but we can always make more trips into the quantum realm. That’s not a problem. So just keep us in the loop on how you’re feeling?”
Who knew, there may even be a way to replicate the particles using science so going into the quantum realm wasn’t needed at all (but again, Hope considered it her laboratory - she wanted the chance to explore).
Ava nodded as she took in the information about possibly needing to make future trips to the quantum realm. She’d hoped the healing that had been achieved today would be permanent, but based on what she knew about the illness that had afflicted her; it was difficult to predict exactly what would work and for how long. She appreciated that Hope hadn’t sugar coated the answer.
“I’ll let you know if anything changes,” she responded. Ava had lived the majority of her life with debilitating pain, and the fact that it was now non-existent made her feel… a lot of things, all at once. Giddiness, disbelief, fear (that it would come back); but most of all she was just happy. What felt like a thousand ton burden had just been lifted from her, and she almost didn’t know what to do with herself as a result. Even if she needed future treatments, this was leagues better than anything she had experienced previously.
“I don’t know how I’ll ever repay you both,” she said solemnly, because surely if someone did such a massive favor for you; you had to even the scales at some point. In the circles she used to run in, that meant things like murdering their enemies or stealing sensitive intel; blackmail, extortion, etc. Unfortunately none of those things were probably considered appropriate ‘gifts’ to Scott or Hope. So… gift baskets? Maybe? She’d figure it out.
“Thank you,” Ava said once more, emphatically. “I must ask - are either Janet or Hank in contact with Bill? I need to see him as soon as possible.” A trip to San Francisco was next on her list.
With this expedition to the quantum realm having been a success, the prospect of subsequent trips didn’t feel quite so intimidating. There was still an inherent risk in traveling there, but with Hope at the helm and advancements in technology on the horizon, it was sure to get smaller over time. Even if it didn’t, though, Scott didn’t see himself as anything but dead-set on helping prevent more pain for Ava in the future - so he nodded earnestly when his partner claimed returning would be no problem.
And neither would repaying them. “Don’t worry about that, that’s not why we did it.” They’d be pretty crappy superheroes if they expected a quid pro quo every time they helped someone. Ava might have done some awful things in her life, but Scott couldn’t honestly say he wouldn’t have done the same if he’d been as motivated by pain and anger as she was. That didn’t make her any less deserving of a new lease on life. Especially when you considered that she didn’t seem interested in doing awful things anymore. He waved a hand, dismissive, and offered the younger woman a small smile.
“Bill’s in San Francisco, yeah. He and Hank are back on speaking terms--Janet kind of saw to that.” They should probably sic his future mother-in-law on Middle East peace next - woman could get results. “The guy who brought you here probably left you a welcome package in your apartment, it’s got a card pre-loaded with some money in it. If you need more to cover a ticket, we can spot you.” He hadn’t needed to spend much when he’d first gotten here, so he hadn’t taken note of the starting balance. “You want to head there now?”
It was true, Janet was a negotiating powerhouse. Hope liked to think she had skills like that - well, at one point she talked down the reality stone from a temper tantrum? So maybe she kind of did, even if they weren’t as polished as her mother’s.
“Yeah, I guess they figured they had held on to that grudge long enough,” she rolled her eyes - and really, she blamed it entirely on Hank. He was great at burning bridges by being a sourpuss about everything. “We can definitely help you get to San Francisco though. The sooner the better.”
The concept of doing something for someone because it was the ‘right’ or ‘morally good’ thing was admittedly, still a little new to Ava. She understood things in a more transactional manner - you did A, you got B; but maybe that wasn’t how everyone else worked. Particularly good people - like Hope and Scott. She may not fully understand it yet, but Ava would do everything she could to make sure they never came to regret helping her.
“I’m glad to hear they are on speaking terms,” she said with a somewhat surprised grin. It would make everything a lot easier, at least. Things were rocky between them for a while, and for good reason. For many years, Ava had held her own resentment and anger toward Hank for having her father fired and discredited - she blamed him for her parents death, and her condition. It wasn’t that simple, but at the time it didn’t matter. She just needed a target to point her anger at.
But it was hard to hold onto much of that resentment after both Hank’s wife and daughter had already done so much to help her. She looked up to Bill, and had followed his lead on many things since she was young; so if he was willing to give Hank another chance, she was willing to try and do the same as well.
“I’d appreciate the help. Let’s head home then,” she said to them both. Ava had lived and traveled all over the globe, but San Francisco had always remained a home base of sorts. She was eager to see Bill, to show him the results of what the quantum healing particles had been able to achieve; and eager to start over - in more ways than one.