Chapter Sixteen:

Tony and Bruce talked near the side of the room as Emblym pounded into the punching bag, one fist after another. Her knuckles smacked against the leather and the bag jangled on it's chain.

The voices were calming down at the show of violence and her bloody knuckles, but they were never completely satisfied until there were bodies on the ground. Emblym didn't mind much. Keeping her body count at the bare minimum usually kept her out of another institution.

She continued, pound for pound, at the sandbag. Her hands were beginning to sore and sweat trickled down the sides of her face. She didn't slow, she didn't even stop to drink water. Emblym couldn't help the urge of adrenaline that seared through her, just like it did her voices. She resented it sometimes, she wanted it gone, but in the end, it was a curse that she'd have to bear.

"Hey?" Emblym nearly jumped. She forgot that she wasn't exactly alone there. Emblym turned to look at Bruce who was staring right at her knuckles. The skin was torn up and the ligaments looked exposed. She looked like she had just beat a man to death.

Bruce reached out, his eyes widening, but Emblym snatched her fists away. If she let him fix her up, the voice a would go back to being just as cranky as they were earlier. "Your knuckles...! And right after they were broken! Why weren't your hands wrapped? Why didn't you wear gloves?!"

"What's going on?" Tony asked, he had been looking down at his phone. He rose an eyebrow when neither of them spoke up.

"It's nothing," Emblym assured, turning away from both of them and moving to stand on the padded flooring. Emblym was really liking this 'gym'.

Emblym summoned her knife and closed her eyes. She needed to work on summoning something else other than her knife. The axe came in handy, but it only came when she was in distress, which didn't help her. If she could figure out how to call any weapon of her choice, at random, whenever she needed it, she could be in serious business. Maybe this was the training Hatter wanted her to go through, figuring out how to use this curse to the best of her ability.

Emblym focused on his words, trying to remember everything. She recalled the sunny field of her training with Hatter back at the house. Emblym heard the birds tweeting, and the sun bearing down at her. She was hot and wanted something to drink. She was also on dishes that afternoon.

Emblym focused on his words, what he told her back then. "Listen to the voices. They're there for a reason."

Emblym tried to listen. She tried to seclude everything else around her and listen to the screaming voices in her head. She could hear each and every one so prominently, which was the main reason why it was so hard. Everything at once but not being able to hear anything at all?

Emblym sighed, that was getting her nowhere. The voices were laughing at her, mocking her and calling her names in every language she could recognize, and more.

"I need to learn," Emblym said clearly and the voices laughed at her.

'Kill them all! Kill them all!' Emblym tried not to wince. She inhaled and continued.

"Give me your strength," Emblym asked. "I can-"

"Kill them!' They screamed.

"Stop yelling at me!" Emblym snapped. "This is why we can never get anything done! If you don't start cooperating, we won't be able to kill anything? Do you want that? If I die, and there are no more queens - or at least no more queens who know what the hell they're doing. What are you going to do, huh? You're going to sit here and suffer - we're going to sit here and suffer. Hatter and the others didn't die so your stubborn asses could complain all the damned time! Lend me your power when I need it, and we can be great. Don't and we will be nothing, for the rest of eternity."

Emblym went quiet so they could respond. She huffed slowly, gripping tight on her knife.

'We want blood,' a more prominent voice spoke. It was harsher and louder than the rest. 'We want Wonderland destroyed.'

"I can do that," Emblym said, only half lying.

'We want them all dead,' it hissed, and Emblym swallowed.

"Deal," she said and the voices laughed. "You have my word."

Emblym felt something hot burn in her hands and she was forced to open her eyes. The knife was pulsing more than usual and burned at the touch. Emblym stared at it, confused, fascinated.

'What do you want?' The voices asked. 'What shape shall the knife take?'

"Axe," she breathed, and the axe took shape in her hands. It was larger than it was the first two times.

"Holy shit," Emblym heard Tony say. She nearly forgot the two scientists were there.

Emblym swung the axe experimentally. Fighting stances seemed to come to her and she flipped it, aiming at the air, but cutting down her fake opponent.

"What else do you have?" Emblym asked and everyone started to scream at once.

'Claws!'

'Rapier!'

'Pan!'

'Whip!'

'Broom!'

'Sword!'

'Gun!'

"Wait wait wait," Emblym said, trying to sort through all the suggestions. "Decide on one." They began to argue again, and Emblym waited. After several minutes, they finally came to a conclusion.

'Sword! We want sword!' Emblym nodded and focused on the sword. She watched the axe burn and twist in her hands. Soon, a long sword was extending from her grip. The edge was scarily sharp and looked dangerous.

"How are you doing this?" Tony asked, staring at her. He had came closer to get a better look at her knife, that was now a sword.

Emblym stepped back and tried a few experimental moves, listening to the instructions of the voices. 'Keep your stance wide and grip tight. Don't do that! Hold it like it is another arm!'

All the instructions and shouting was making her dizzy. "Okay, I'm done for today," she said, shaking her head and unsummoned the knife.

Emblym rubbed her knuckles, the blood from earlier had crusted over, but still stung when she moved them. She didn't want to waste Hatter's hat, so she left it as or was. It would heal soon, especially with the voices in a better mood.

"So... Are you ready to work?" Tony asked, not trying hard enough to keep the eagerness out of his tone.

Emblym sighed, she did make a deal. Hopefully, this would be done and over with soon enough. All that concentrating and punching had made her a bit tired. Maybe she hadn't quite healed completely yet, she wouldn't be surprised if there were some lasting damages.

"Great! This way!" He said, waving her along. Bruce followed behind them, also looking excited to play with knives.

"It's really sharp, I can tell you that now," Emblym said.

"Oh really?" Tony asked, sarcastically, but Emblym rolled her eyes.

"I'm serious," Emblym scolded. "It can cut through bone like butter. So, be careful not to lose a limb, alright?"

"Got it," Bruce said and Emblym nodded. She felt slightly better with Bruce there to keep Tony in check.

• ️ ️ ️ ️•

After a quick elevator ride and a few stunted conversations, they had made it to Tony's lab. It was huge. The walls were glass and see through. The room was filled either medical supplies and some of them Emblym recognized, like the beakers and the scales. But most of them, Emblym had never seen in her life and didn't even know how to describe it.

There were also several computers around the sides of the room, and a few cabinets that she suspected was full of medicines and whatnot. There was a fridge off to the side labeled 'Animal Parts' and Emblym made a disgusted face.

On the other side of the room was tables full of scrap metals and other building supplies. She saw a few scattered parts of Tony's suit lying around, like a shoe or an arm or a helmet. There were tall robots lining the room, and one of which stuck out to her. It had a cone hat labeled 'Dunce' on its head.

"Wow," Emblym said, looking around and nodding. "This is cool."

"I know," Tony grinned arrogantly and Emblym rolled her eyes.

"You can go sit over there," Bruce said, pointing to a chair on the 'medical' side of the room. Emblym nodded and moved to sit down in the rolling chair. She moved it forwards so she could be at the table with them.

"JARVIS start recording," Tony called to no one. Emblym gave him a weird look, but then something answered.

"Yes sir. Beginning recording." Emblym nearly jumped at the unfamiliar voice.

"Who is that?!" She hissed, looking around, but strangely found no one strapped to the ceiling.

"That was the building's AI, JARVIS," Tony said proudly. "Ask him for anything and he'll do it for you."

"That's cool," Emblym nodded. "Uh... JARVIS, what day is it?"

"It is August third," he replied.

Tony gave her a weird look, "You could asked JARVIS anything in the world, and you asked him what day it was?"

"I was curious!" Emblym defended herself, crossing her arms and huffing.

"Can I see your knife?" Bruce asked, holding out his hand gently.

Emblym summoned it, but frowned. "Tony give me your hand," Emblym said, holding her palm out for him to put his hand in hers.

He raised a distrustworthy eyebrow. "What are you going to do?"

"The knife needs blood if you want someone else to hold it," She explained, and before he could react, she swiped his hand and cut cleanly across his palm. Tony jerked away, holding his hand to his chest and hissing. "Don't be be a baby, it's practically a papercut."

"I'm bleeding!" He exclaimed, holding his bloody hand for her to see.

"I can see that, now go put a bandaid on it. Actually, wait, drip it into a cup or hat first. This blood will only last so long."

"That's freaky," he muttered, but walked towards the side of the room and grabbed a plastic cup, dripping into it.

Emblym handed Bruce her knife and he took it gently, setting it on the table underneath a spotlight. Now that her part was done, Emblym moved to sit on a swivel chair near the side. She wished she had a book to read.

Bruce put on a pair of gloves and began to go to work, pressing against the knife and tapping it gently. When Tony had finished bleeding enough and bandaged his hand, he set the cup down beside Emblym begrudgingly and helped Bruce.

"What are we testing first?" He asked.

"Hardness. Here's the diamond," Bruce said, holding up a sharp silvery rock. Tony watched intently as Bruce scraped against the blade of Emblym's knife. She grimaced, suddenly feeling itchy. He went again and she heard a snap, as if someone snapped a pencil in half.

"What was that?" She asked curiously leaning over to see. Bruce and Tony's jaws had dropped, and they stared at what was in Bruce's hand. Or, at least what was left.

"It broke," Tony said, shocked. "Have you tried this thing against Cap's shield?"

"No," Emblym said, but thought about it for a minute. "Should I?"

"Yes," Bruce said with a half-hearted laugh. "Definitely!"

"I will, later. Is that all?"

"Hardly," Tony said, going across the table and picking up a small, handheld, sickly-yellow machine with a winding hose. Emblym rose an eyebrow, but didn't say anything. Tony turned the small thing on and it began to buzz. He passed the hose over the knife, watching the results.

"That isn't much," Bruce admitted.

"True," Tony agreed, setting it done after a while. "But can it change, though? When it's pulsing, have you seen it? I had JARVIS scan for radiation during the fight and it was off the charts!"

"Hmm..." Bruce murmured, writing something else down.

Emblym leaned back with a bored sigh, closing her eyes and resting her head. She wanted to do something interesting after this. She wondered how long she would need to stay cooped up in this building. She was wasting time and energy being here. Emblym needed to contact Thor. He told her he would take her to Wonderland. She had to find it.

Emblym watched curiously as the rubbed and scratched her knife. Occasionally, she would apply more of Tony's blood so it wouldn't disappear. The voices got bored as well, and some of them were upset, screaming because Tony and Bruce were touching the knife.

"They're not going to do anything," Emblym muttered. "Chill."

But, as soon as she said that, she felt a bit of heat on the back of her neck. She rubbed it, frowning, but watched as Tony downed a blowtorch on her knife.

Emblym screamed, feeling as if her entire body was on fire. The voices screamed as well, louder than they usually did. This hurt them just as much as it hurt her. Emblym brought the knife back to her hand, but dropped it when it still was smoking.

"Emblym? Are you okay?" Bruce asked, coming to her.

"Y... You burned me," She said, trying to breathe steadily.

"We didn't burn you," Bruce frowned. Emblym shook her head, bringing the knife to her hand, which had since cooled down.

"You have sensory connections with the knife," Tony said, amazed. "That's why you kept itching!"

"I don't know what that means," Emblym muttered, closing her eyes and trying to calm down the voices. "Be quiet, we're fine."

"You feel what the knife feels. When we kept touching it, you kept scratching, and when I tried to see if it would melt. . . well, you saw what happened." Emblym only nodded, rubbing her temples.

"Are you done?" She asked, tiredly.

"There's still a lot more tests, and this brings a lot more to the table. We have to test it frozen, at higher heat, what happens if it's broke―"

"You are not breaking my knife!" Emblym snapped, anger flaring.

"We're not," Bruce jumped in, raising his hand as a sign of peace. "In fact, we're done for today. You're exhausted, as we can see. We can finish the rest later."

"Later!?" Tony exclaimed, turning angrily on his partner. "Bruce, this is a scientific discovery ― it's beyond that! We can't―!"

"We will," Bruce said, putting his foot down. "You can go lie down if you want, Emblym. We can work with the rest of what we have. Right, Tony?"

Tony made a face, crossing his arms over his chest in a pout, "Fine, whatever, go to sleep, Emblym."

Emblym rose an eyebrow as he began to fiddle mindlessly with a gadget on the table. She was tired. . .

She sighed, sitting back down and summoning her knife, "Hurry up and finish." She said, crossing her arms over her chest. Tony grinned and brought the cup of his blood over ― which would soon need a refill. He lathered some blood on the knife and then grabbed it. "Just. . . tell me if you're going to do something like that again, okay?"

"Got it, boss," He said, and turn to the table again.

Emblym watched as he tested the knife in different climates, this time creatively using a makeshift hair dryer instead of a blowtorch. She leaned back and closed her eyes after hearing the two men talk science for a while. Although she wasn't a sleep, she was relaxed, which was very uncommon as of recently for her.

Finally, the men finished their tests and Emblym put her knife away. "Thank you, Emblym." Bruce said.

"Don't mention it," She said, and Bruce smiled, but Emblym was serious. "Really, don't. If Fury hears I let you play with my knife, he'll throw a fit."

"Consider it our secret," Tony assured with a amused smirk.

"Give me your word," Emblym ordered and they both looked at her, slightly surprised. "A. . . friend once told my that to give away your word is a powerful thing. You say you won't tell anyone? Prove it. I don't like liars."

"We promise, right Tony?" Bruce swore, looking at his friend, who nodded absentmindedly.

"Yes, yes, I promise, don't sweat it, Princess. Your secret is safe with us." Emblym gave him a untrustworthy look, but soon dropped it. "Well, now that we're finished, you can go to sleep."

"I don't sleep," Emblym deadpanned. "And besides, I want to do something else, like watch a movie or play video games ― do you still have video games? Did that go out of style while I was gone?"

Tony snorted, a huge smile on his face, "Oh, do I have news for you, Princess."