Welcome back! Here you go!
"What didn't?" I didn't understand what Fury meant by that.
"After you went off the grid everything turned to shit," He started, "S.H.I.E.L.D agents started getting hunted down on missions; reconnaissance, espionage, covert, we started getting picked off one by one. Mostly higher leveled agents."
I was a little shocked at that. "Why didn't you call me?" Fury and I had a deal: As long as it was HYDRA, I didn't mind being the grunt. As long as I could kill them any time they decided to stick their necks out of their hiding hole, I didn't mind going along with Fury's plan, so why didn't he call me?
"It would have been worst." Was all he said.
"If you were here, what would you have done?" Fury asked me a question that for a second, made me doubt his intelligence. Of course I would-
"You would go after them with the same ferocity right? While in an ideal situation that would have been the best choice, unfortunately the present situation is as far away from ideal as possible." He said.
"What happened while I was away?" I asked, this time it was Clint who answered me.
"After our stunt with Malick, HYDRA went rabid. Terrorism attacks, local gang wars, assassination attempts, mutant protests, they did everything."
"To throw us off our tracks." Fury answered. "Malick was a pillar of HYDRA, they knew that so they tried to do everything they could to split our focus. Not only that, after we ousted some HYDRA spies from S.H.I.E.L.D, the distrust among the agents were… *sigh* Coupled with the elimination and assassination of the agents, S.H.I.E.L.D right now is a raging storm. We've been trying all we could to curb out the spies, but there's only much we can do considering those are just the ones on Malick's payroll." Fury almost seemed like he aged a few years after he said that. How much it was have hurt him to think that his nest was nothing but a safe breeding haven for his enemies.
"That's…" Even I didn't know what to say.
"A shit fuck of troubles. That what it is." He completed it for me.
"As horrible as that sounds, since you called me back you must have something in mind." This was Fury we were talking about. He had a whole pocket full of 'get out of a deadly situation' deck of cards.
"They are getting comfortable. With your recent sightings, they focus the bulk of their attack on you and since they think you are on your own, it'll give us the chance to one-up the fuckers. I can't imagine what sort of troubles it'll bring." He looked at me as he said that. "This time I want us to go for the heart, going for the head isn't going to cut it. We have at least, as I'll like to believe, a substantial amount of information on them, so we'll use that to cut whatever avenue they have. You're the biggest gun we have which means you'll be in the scope of heavy fire. Think you can handle it?"
I paused to think.
While I was glad that we'll be able to cut a whole lump of HYDRA's cake with this endeavor, I wanted to do something that'll give them a real panic attack. Something they'd have never expected.
I ran through my thoughts while the others looked at me. Searching for something that'll give us a real sharp edge. Got it!
"Arnim Zola." I said excitedly.
"Sorry to burst your bubble he's dead." The pirate immediately cut me down but I knew what he didn't.
"He's not. He's still alive." The moment I said that, Fury and Clint sat up straight.
"Camp Lehigh." I told them.
"There's nothing there." Fury debunked me but he still kept listening.
"There's a bunker hidden underneath the base. From what I know Zola transferred his consciousness into an AI program inside a mainframe there. He's been online ever since, coordinating HYDRA's movement to ensure they went unintercepted. He's had access to S.H.I.E.L.D's database from the camp."
Fury looked as if he's last eye was about to fall out, Clint… was Clint, with the ever unreadable expression on his face while Hill looked like she didn't know what the fuck was happening.
"You sure you're not fucking with me?" Fury asked me. For someone who lived in a world of mutants and aliens, I didn't understand why he was having a hard time accepting an un(?)dead AI.
"So you're telling me, that one of the brightest mind from the old ages put his mega-smart brain inside a COMPUTER!" Fury all but shouted as he looked as if he was on the verge of mentally breaking down.
To be honest, I didn't know why he was freaking out. From the time period, he should have already met Captain Marvel and made privy to the knowledge of the wider universe. Not even his future self freaked out about Ultron as he did, but then again when you have the precedence of mythical demi-gods, angry gremlins, a thirty year old looking man from the '40s, a playboy, a goodness to earth sexy redhead assassin and a random dude whose weapon of choice was a bow and arrow fighting off against an alien invasion and a nuke then the prospect of an AI megalomaniac genocidal robot modelled after the wet dreams of said playboy doesn't really scare you all that much. Too bad this Fury didn't yet have that experience.
"You sure you're not fucking with me? That might as well be the most ridiculous bullshit you ever spouted from that mouth of yours. How do you even know that?" Fury asked. I was surprised he even entertained the idea but given our rapport so far, I could hazard a guess.
I was tempted to tell him how to find the Capsicle, but I didn't see the need. Sure Rogers was a great fighter and team leader but I didn't see any reason to find him.
If Charles taught me anything, is that your heroes are not always how you picture them to be. And besides I was already involved with HYDRA and S.H.I.E.L.D more than I found comfortable so-
"I'll tell you what, whip another shit like that out of your ass again and I'll tell you my grandma's secret eggnog recipe." Fury said as he reclined on the chair he sat on.
There are things a man must do that goes against his heart desires… and eggnogs are at the top of that list.
A grandma's secret recipe? Now that's something worth breaking your moral code for. Besides even if Cap wakes now, it's not like he did anything before the invasion.
But most importantly…
"You have a grandma?" I asked completely bewildered. Fury didn't seem like a family guy… at all. My impression of him was that he just was. Nothing before that.
"Bitch! The hell you mean if I have a grandma? You think this walking embodiment of badassery came outta nowhere?" Fury asked with a 'what kind of fool are you' expression. He was about to continue when I dropped the bomb.
"I know where Steve Roger's is?" The moment I said that however, the jovial atmosphere between us immediately tensed that even Clint and Hill could feel it.
"Do you realize the consequence of what you just said?" Fury had the most serious expression I've ever seen on him as he asked that question.
"You do realize that the final decision is not something I can make alone." Fury said.
Nicholas Joseph Fury was a smart man and that was a fact no one could dispute. The moment I gave him such a vital information, he immediately knew what I wanted. Something that could tip the 'scales'in my favor, something only the information about Steve Roger's whereabouts could possibly buy.
The tension continued as both me and Fury locked ourselves in a staredown. To be honest I held doubts if my information of the ideal Soldier was enough for my demand but I didn't waver. It was something I really needed.
Thankfully, at the end Fury relented but he still didn't give me a 100% assurance. "I'll have to ask my grandma about it. It's her family's recipe after all, so I can't promise you anything concrete."
That was enough of an assurance that I hoped I'd get.
Family special eggnog recipes were that precious and were most times heavily safeguarded within the confines of its members.
"That's more than enough." I said to him.
The two other people in the room looked as confused as fuck like they didn't know what just happened. I wouldn't blame them, they wouldn't understand anyway.
"So, Captain Rogers. Spill." Fury said, and if I didn't know any better I would say he was sulking.
"All I know is the general location." I told him. "It around where his plane crash landed."
Fury frowned at that, "Howard Stark searched for him at the landing, and he didn't discover anything. There's no way Stark would have missed him if he was there."
Now this was getting harder than I thought. True, Howard Stark did search for him but then the place he landed hadn't been frozen over and made a Capsicle out of Rogers. But with my senses and resistance to the cold, I should be able to locate him if I was near enough.
"Trust me on this. Steve Rogers is still alive." I said. I couldn't risk losing it all after I came this far.
Coffee, whiskey, eggnog.
These were the holy grail of liquid glory. I haven't drank a pint of eggnog since I came to this world and there was no way I was going to miss out on a most likely traditional recipe. These shit were worth their weight in gold.
"Leaving the matter of the possibly-not-dead War Hero, if what you say is true and Zola is still out there, hiding in S.H.I.E.L.D backyard nonetheless, fucking pricks, we need to take him out as soon as possible but given what you said about him being connected to S.H.I.E.L.D network, they'll be able to receive information if we were to storm the base and if they so much as drop a bomb on us we'll be under rubble… and dead." Fury said. His mind running strategies and options.
"That won't be a problem." I told him and he gave me a scrutinizing gaze before he let up.
"I take it things worked out well?" Of course Clint would tell him about me trying to increase my powers and I didn't really see a need to hide that fact so I nodded.
"Seems like we all have our roles cut out for us." He said.
"How do you plan on taking out Pierce?" I asked him the all too important question. We've left Pierce so far and I wasn't happy at the fact that the leader of the current HYDRA was still up and about while we ran after offshoots.
"Don't worry, I'll take care of him." Was all Fury said before we talked about some part before I left the yard.
[MARIA HILL POV]
She didn't know what to think when her new boss took her in.
She was part of the group that were recommended for S.H.I.E.L.D agents by the force and only she was picked from her whole unit.
She was happy at that fact.
Being able to join the world's best covert organization wasn't a part of her plan when she signed up for the Army, but it was a welcomed surprise altogether.
Sure she was at the bottom of the hierarchical ladder but that didn't deter her. She was as strong-willed as the best of soldiers.
All was going good, as good as a newbie position could get, when it all happened. A simple mission, no errand, of delivering cargo to one of S.H.I.E.L.D's warehouses ended up in a gunfight she had no idea about.
That didn't even come close to faze her. She was skilled. Skilled enough to be at the top of her unit back in the Army so she composed herself and promptly returned fire. Turns out her new boss was tracking HYDRA movements that were camouflaged as S.H.I.E.L.D mission and he immediately opened gunfire when he got to the scene along with an archer.
So there they were, 3 people, an archer, a one eyed boss, and her; the newbie, against over 20 fully armed assailants.
She was good, that much was obvious, but the skills shown by her boss and mostly the archer was something that had her floored.
They were finally able to kill off all the assailants, with the ones who they left alive committing suicides.
Sure that was an awful hell of a mission for a newbie but she wasn't complaining. She wouldn't… if only they didn't start trying to kill her too with their assassination attempts.
It was bad to the point that she wasn't able to get good sleep for a week.
Thankfully, Clint came to her rescue the day she thought she was finally going to croak and ever since then, she'd been working to… get this, uproot a global terrorist organization who apparently had survived since the 1900s.
"Will he be alright on his own sir?" She was skeptical about this mutant who was speaking so casually with her boss but it wasn't her place to speak when the conversations were going on.
"If he says he'll be fine, then he'll be fine." It wasn't her boss who answered but Clint.
She hadn't personally fought against mutants but she had been debriefed about a lot of them. But just like the general human population, not all mutants were strong. Hell, almost all of them had basic human physique and strength parameters.
But there was also those who didn't. Now those were the ones to watch out for. Speed, flight, super strength, invulnerability, energy manipulation, kinetic manipulation, elemental manipulation… and the worst of them all; fundamental force manipulators. Space, gravity, electric and magnetic force. Those were the ones they were adviced to stay the hell away from.
Take someone like Magneto for example: 99% of the any military in the world was useless against him, just for the simple fact that he could control metals. That was what she called bullshit.
So she couldn't help but wonder…
"Is he that strong?" She asked.
This time it was Fury that answered. "If we were to classify him based on his mutant ability, then he'd be a Level 5 threat. Based on what he can do? I'll put a minimum on Level 7. That's just my gut feeling tho."
A Level 7 danger threat. So far Magneto was the only classified Level 8 and the guy was a behemoth.
Well at least her coming days won't be boring.
I used the Level 1 to 9 threat classification since Marvel never really classified it distinctively. You shouldn't pay it any mind since it won't have any meaning(not much) anyway.
Finally was able to put the clinch on the pa*treon site.
It currently has up to 5 chapters ahead. I'm burnt out. Really need to sleep.