This story takes place in mainstream Marvel continuity, in between Avengers Volume 1 issues #344 and #345.
“Dreadfully sorry, Mistress Black Widow,” said the Avengers’ manservant, Edwin Jarvis, “but I fear there is a matter that I have been unable to effectively deal with.”
Natasha Romanova, the Black Widow, turned from the Avengers Mansion’s monitor to face Jarvis. “Of course, Jarvis,” she said, “what is it?”
“A most unpleasant young woman is at the door, demanding to see Master Black Knight.”
When Natasha reached the mansion’s door, what she was greeted by resembled a hybrid of a haute couture model and a vision out of a Celtic fairy tale. The fashionably dressed young woman had a long and fiery mane of red hair, blazing green eyes, and an exquisite peaches-and-cream complexion. She stood poised and confident, hands on her hips.
Before Natasha could say anything, the young woman blurted out, in a thick Irish brogue, “I’m so pleased to finally meet you in person – so that I can tell you that your short haircut looks awful.”
Natasha fidgeted, but as a former spy turned costumed heroine, she wasn’t about to let an insult like that get under her skin. She cleared her throat and said, “Who are you and how may I help you?”
“Mary Clarke. I’m an old friend of Dane Whitman, and I must see him now.”
“He’s busy at the moment, but I’ll tell him you stopped by.”
Mary looked Natasha in the eye. “What you’ll do is lead me to him, right now.”
Suddenly, Natasha felt dizzy and nauseous. There was some kind of supernatural influence in Mary’s stare, and, with Natasha’s lack of experience dealing with the supernatural, her normally formidable will crumbled like dry mud. Quivering, she began leading Mary to the mansion’s gymnasium.
As they walked down a corridor, the Inhuman princess turned Avenger Crystal was walking the other way, cradling her daughter Luna.
Mary smiled enigmatically at Luna, causing the toddler to start crying. Crystal scowled fiercely at Mary, the devoted mother all but daring the threatening stranger to try something unwise.
“You remind me of my sister and her daughter.” said Mary serenely before jabbing them with a verbal stinger. “That’s not a compliment.”
Natasha and Crystal both wanted to wring Mary’s neck, but, though they hated to admit it, they were both afraid of her. The parties went their separate ways.
Inside the gymnasium, Dane Whitman, Eric Masterson, and the living legend known as Hercules were merrily bonding as only men can.
“Zounds!” exclaimed Hercules upon seeing Mary. “Thou art truly a thing of beauty, fair lady. The Prince of Power would know thy name...and would invite thee to become better acquainted with the Lion of Olympus.”
“Shave your beard off, and I’ll consider it.” was Mary’s tart reply.
“Thou dost presume to give commands to Hercules??” roared the offended demi-god.
“Take it easy, Herc,” said Dane dryly, “she’s nothing but trouble, and she’s not worth getting worked up about.”
“It’s good to see you again, too, Dane.” said Mary, her voice dripping sarcasm.
“Uh-oh,” said Eric, “Herc, ol’ buddy, I think that’s our cue to leave. C’mon, I’ll treat you to a beer. A real beer. I know a place where they serve the good stuff.”
“Thou art a true friend, Eric.” said Hercules. “Let us take leave of this foul environment.”
“You’re wasting your time, Mary,” said Dane after Eric and Hercules had gone, “Stephen and Victoria warned me about you...”
“Yes, after the fact!” laughed Mary.
“You can delude yourself that what happened was anything more than you manipulating me, but that won’t make it the truth.”
“The truth is eternally elusive. If only more people would realize that, there would be less conflict in this world.”
“I don’t have time for your riddles, Mary!”
“Oh, Dane,” came a sultry voice from outside the gymnasium, “are you busy with anything?”
The stunning Sersi walked into the gymnasium. Without exchanging a word, she and Mary fell in hate at first sight.
It was Mary who broke the silence. “Well, well, you really are as remarkably well-preserved as I had heard. Shame about the stupid green bathing suit.”
Sersi’s eyes began glowing bright red. “I don’t know who you are,” she screamed at Mary, “and I don’t care! If you don’t leave right now, I’ll vaporize you where you stand.”
“No, Sersi,” said Dane as beads of sweat across his brow betrayed his nerves, “you won’t. I don’t like her any more than you, but...”
Suddenly, Dane heard Mary speaking in tongues. He turned to see her making a hand gesture at Sersi similar to that which his friend Dr. Strange made when attacking his enemies.
Sersi began to have difficulty breathing, and her knees buckled. “Great Zuras,” she gasped, “what kind of witch are you??”
Mary replied with no words, just a smirk.
“Mary!” growled Dane, “If you don’t stop this now, I’ll...I’ll...I’ll get Stephen to turn you into a hood ornament!”
Mary lowered her hand and sighed. “I knew it would go like this. You really are no fun anymore, Dane.”
“Get out.” said Dane through clenched teeth. “GET OUT!”
Mary began walking towards the exit. “Don’t fight your destiny, Dane,” she said to him, looking over her shoulder right into his eyes, “that’s always been your problem. We’ll meet again.”
“Not if I can help it.” snarled Dane.
Mary laughed heartily as she walked out of the gymnasium, her laughter echoing eerily for what seemed like an eternity.
Dane approached Sersi. “Are you okay?” he inquired.
At this point, the always-proud Sersi was more angry than hurt. “Nice friends you have.” she sneered.
“Believe me,” said Dane, “she’s not my friend and I wish I had never met her.” He looked Sersi in the eye. “If there’s anything I can do to make up for what she did...”
Suddenly, Sersi regained her composure and smiled end-to-end. “Hmmm...” she replied, “...let me think about that for a minute...”
But before she could go on, she was unintentionally interrupted by Crystal and a still-weeping Luna. “Excuse me, Dane,” said Crystal, “but Natasha says she needs to see you right now about upgrading the computers.”
“Okay,” replied Dane, “but first things first. I have to help you calm Luna down, as I’m guessing that horrible woman who came to see me is what she’s upset about.”
“Yes,” said Crystal, handing Luna to Dane, “and thank you.”
Crystal smiled and Sersi seethed as Dane tenderly comforted Luna.
Outside, Mary Clarke walked gracefully down the streets of New York City, and as the sun went down, she appeared to melt into the shadows, going back to wherever she came from...for now.
NEVER THE END