SPOILER WARNING AHEAD!
This Fic contains spoilers if you have not yet seen Captain America: The Winter Soldier or Marvel's Agents of SHIELD season 1!
The narrative is set after the events of the film.
Also contains references to Marvel comics, it is not necessary to read these as the story only uses them as a plot point and will then veer away from said comics.
You have been warned.
Date: June 10th 2014
Days, Months, Years, Time seemed inconsequential in this place. There was no day or night. No windows into the outside world. Only concrete and steel. Blinding lights and total darkness. Even gravity held no meaning in this place.
Sometimes the cell would hiss, causing the air to shiver and consciousness to flee. The next waking moment would be in a clinical white room. Wrists restrained by thick metal clasps that were bolted to the cold table with only a thin dirty rag between skin and steel.
They would prod and poke. Take blood and give strange looking fluids directly into thinning veins. Struggling was useless. Even once free of the restraints the room would hiss with shivering darkness only to awaken in the cold cell.
The most terrifying of these tortures was, occasionally, waking in the Fish Bowl. Wrists bound to thick heavy chains bolted to the floor and slowly water bubbled up from tiny grates embedded in the floor. Chocking, freezing, coughing, spluttering, floating, bubbling, clawing, screaming, drowning. Until then darkness clouds the edge of the world the water would slowly recced to be replaced by the familiar hiss of darkness.
The only solace was the second cell, a tiny vent at the top of the adjoining wall allowed quiet conversation to stave off madness. At first they had whispered of escape and the life before the cold and the dark but as time stopped having any meaning, so did thoughts of escape or freedom.
Then one day, this day in fact, a sound erupted beyond the cells that had not been heard before. It sounded like growling, banging, howling, screaming, running, shouting, alarms blaring over and over. The White Coats ran around their computers, clicking, clacking, saving, erasing, hiding. Then the Suits ran in with guns raised and blazing.
Shouting, screaming, running, bang, bang, bang, clang! A large metal disc was suddenly embedded in the thick glass window looking into the cell. A tall figure ran into the observatory outside the cells. He spoke as if to his ear dressed in his stars and stripes and wings and mask. He wasn't a White Coat or a Suit so he couldn't be there. But he was.
He retrieved his disk of stars and stripes before shock rocked what could be seen of his features. Gloved hands pressed to the thick glass as if looking for an entrance but if there had been one escape would not have only been whispers.
"There are people in here!" He yelled to a room with only the prone White Coats and Suits to hear him, they would not help him, they helped no one. "Don't worry we're going to get you both out of here."
Date: May 4th 2012
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
"And you're sure you don't mind me crashing at your place for a few days?" Cleo asked again as she leaned against her rental car in the pleasantly warm sunshine, she was pretty sure she had never been so tanned in her life and her skin only had a gentle golden glow.
"I said so didn't I?" Laughed the tinny female voice from the phone Cleo held to her ear while she adjusted her prescription sunglasses, it had been so sunny she had barely worn her regular glasses during her holiday in Vegas. "Plus if I changed my mind now your mum would throttle me, no matter how many oceans she would have to across."
"I'm glad you're so concerned for my welfare." She laughed as she clicked the central locking on the car and climbed in. "Okay, I am going to hang up as the road is calling and I'm sure you have lots of boring work things to do right now." The smile clearly rang in her voice as she bid good bye to the chuckling sound of her cousin on the line before she disconnected the call and plonked the device into the cup holder by the gearstick. The engine roared to life as she started back on the road.
Cleo was driving to her next holiday destination, having enjoyed the glittering lights of Las Vegas, Los Angeles to play tourist for a couple of days before she made the final leg of her road trip to San Francisco and the welcome, also free, hospitality of her cousin who had emigrated to the US a couple of years before.
The road seemed to stretch on forever with only the odd cactus whizzing by telling her that she was moving at all. The glistening sand dunes gave the landscape an endless feeling despite the savage beauty it held.
'One girl revolution' rang through the car speakers as she drove and quietly sang along to the familiar Super Chic lyrics. The window hummed quietly as she lowered the glass to allow cooler air in to circulate around the stuffy car interior.
She glanced down at the built in SatNav on the dashboard, the little screen showing what it had been for the three hours previous to her phone call, a small blinking dot on a seemingly endless line surrounded by nothing.
Her thick dyed red hair, only a couple of shades off Ariel, whipped around her face occasionally flying into her mouth making her wish she had thought to tie it up before getting back into the car. Her eyes flicked up to the rear view mirror and she caught a flash of her own reflection causing her to groan slightly. Her dark roots were starting to show and knew that it would irritate her until she managed to get it sorted.
When her eyes returned to focusing on the road ahead she was horrified to see a figure standing in the middle of the fast approaching tarmac and it was entirely possibly that she may have been going a little over the speed limit. Then he was suddenly directly in front of her and her mind raced into panic mode.
'Oh God I'm gunna kill this guy!' 'Where the hell did he come from?' 'Is he wearing spandex?!' These thoughts flashed through her mind simultaneously before she managed to get her head into gear to swerve. Her white knuckle grip on the steering wheel tightened as she yanked the car to the right and straight towards a large dune. But even her attempt to avoid hitting the figure seemed pointless as he appeared directly in front of the car before it passed through him entirely and sped into sand.
Her eyes drew in and out of focus as her ears rang persistently and the air bag erupted from the steering wheel. She fumbled for the door handle before managing to pull herself out of the car. Cleo's legs faltered as she got out of the vehicle her legs buckling slightly beneath her. Frantically she looked around for the stranger she had tried to avoid expecting a body or at least someone calling for help. Hot fluid seeped into her eye before she noticed she was bleeding. Gingerly she felt her forehead until she came across the throbbing cut, not too big but still served to be distracting.
Then she saw him. A tall athletic build, blonde hair floated around his face and he was in fact wearing black and red spandex with a yellow star in the middle of his broad chest, half his face was masked but she could just focus enough to see they were a bright blue. His expression was difficult to read, mostly because of the mask, but he seemed angry which was understandable considering she had almost mowed him down. Cleo approached slowly, mostly hoping he wouldn't sue her, and as she drew closer it became more obvious that there was something different about him, aside from the really really random spandex.
"Erm… hi. Are you ok? Do you need an ambulance? I think I might." She spoke cautiously and the last was said a little quieter and mostly to herself. He said nothing. In fact he was eerily still. She noticed the missing rise and fall of breathing lungs and the fact his piercing gaze had not left her for a moment.
Alarm bells started going off in her mind that she had been attempting to ignore until that moment. She had been so sure that she had hit him full pelt with her car but here was standing straight, a little too straight, and not a scratch on him nor a tear in his spandex. Why was he wearing spandex?! Had he been on his way to an 80's convention or something?
Maybe she was hallucinating? She had gotten sunstroke while on the phone to Robin and she had passed out in the car. Maybe she had just imagined him when she swerved off the road and after she hit her head it made it worse. Neither seemed like a great option but nevertheless she slowly started to backtrack towards her car. The damage seemed minimal, maybe a little sand in the engine but she hoped it would still run. She was definitely no mechanic.
Suddenly he was directly in front of her gazing down intimidatingly. She yelped a little before stepping backwards and stumbling on something protruding from the sand. As she fell gracelessly to the ground her hand grazed the object that had caused her misstep. It was surprisingly cold to the touch despite the barren heat of the desert. Before she had even realised what was happening she felt the cold metal grasp her wrist and clamp down. Cleo looked down at her left arm to see that a golden cuff had somehow latched itself onto her wrist. Panic rocked through her as she looked up at Spandex-guy to see him nod once before disappearing. He bloody disappeared! She thought he might have said something before he went but her mind was too busy freaking out about his disappearing act to process it.
Sharp pinpricks then erupted across her skin before quickly evolving into pain that made every nerve in her body scream in agony. A pained cry tried to escape her lips but ended up only chocking in her burning throat. Thick salty tears welled up as her limbs began to spasm out of her control and into bone crunching positions. Her skin seemed too thin as vein after vein became more prominent and eventually hummed with power that glowed as brightly as it burned. Her blood was on fire and every haggard breath she took only added to her suffering. The blazing pain seemed to last forever before it eventually built so high that she felt it erupt within her and then golden energy engulfed her and everything in sight before she was finally blessed with unconsciousness.
Date: May 4th 2012
Location: San Francisco, California
Robin chuckled to herself as the call disconnected from her cousin. Cleo had been right, of course, she did have lots of work things to do but Robin thoroughly loved her job and the work she did. She was an exhibit designer for museums, firstly because she was passionate about design but also because she loved history especially ancient history. Her favourite subject was ancient Greece followed in a close second by ancient Egypt, the first of which she happened to be working upon at that time.
She tucked her mobile into her pocket before returning to the closed off exhibit that would soon be on show to the general public. Pulling out her design folder she carefully went over the final details of various sets. As she glanced over the various Greek garbed mannequins she noticed a box full of small trinkets that had yet to be placed into any of the sets. Printed on the side 'recent acquisitions' explained why she had not included them in her own designs but she did feel irritated that no one had thought to tell her about these new items that her bosses would no doubt want showcasing.
Calm determination pulsed through her as she approached the box. 'It's not like we open tomorrow.' She thought with bitter sarcasm before she plucked the inventory list from the side. Her eyes scanned through the items as she mentally tried to think where she could include them and where they would refrain from overcrowding her designs. Slowly she sorted through busts and jewellery and pottery and plaques and a couple of small statuettes. Her small notepad was quickly pulled out before she scribbled down shorthand notes about each item and ideas of where she could put them.
A cursory glance at the box told her it was empty as she began to flip through her design folder and compare it with her note pad as she checked to see everything matched up. It took her ten minutes to make the required alterations to her notes and designs before she was happy that she would fit the majority of the new items into the exhibit without too much difficulty.
Carefully she started to return each item to the box so she could take them to the sets she had just assigned and as she did she thought the hours she had spent in England taking inventory for her first museum job. Back then she was a simple part timer that had only got the job because the curator was a friend on her uncle's, Cleo's father, and he had assured them that she would be an asset. She had been eighteen at the time, fresh out of college, and with little desire to attend university she had hoped to get on the career ladder the old fashioned way. Two years passed her by at the museum, seeing her become a full time employee who assisted with the design and upkeep of various exhibits. Until, and she wasn't exactly sure of the details, she received a job offer from a museum in America that had been impressed with her work. The offer had been a surprise but a totally welcome one, she had never ventured outside Europe before and had always wondered what life in America would be like. Robin had taken time to consider her answer, asking for the opinion of her family and friends, and to figure out if it would in fact be a financially viable.
After the studious consideration Robin eventually accepted the job offer and applied for her Green Card before she flew to California, where the museum resided. She smiled as she thought about the crappy cramped one bedroom flat she had rented when she first arrived in the US, hardly the glamorous digs she had expected after watching American SitComs as a teenager. Thankfully she had only lived there for a matter of months before a far nicer place presented itself and had turned into her current place of residence and home.
Hoisting the full box onto her hip with her folder in her other hand Robin visited each set she had marked an addition and carefully rearranged each item to the new design. It took her longer than she had hoped but eventually she managed to add the majority of the new items while still being happy with the overall balance of each altered set. Then after she had finished adding in the final item she noticed that in fact there was one piece she had not noticed when she had been going through the box. A quick glance at the inventory sheet told her that, no, it definitely was not supposed to be there. The small unassuming gold wrist cuff was clearly meant for the Egyptian exhibit that had finished the previous week. She wondered if the curator or another member of staff was playing a practical joke on her but she hadn't noticed any muffled laughter or hidden cameras. With a sigh she reached in to take it back to be properly processed.
After the briefest whisper of contact somehow the band was latched onto her right hand wrist and despite her best effort the damned thing had managed to shrink to almost skin tight and would not budge. A wave of nauseous dizziness overcame her as her body suddenly seemed so incredibly heavy. With a weak groan she reached out to steady herself using a cement pillar she was stood close to but when she gently leaned against it the plaster began to crack and she could hear it creak dangerously. Immediately she pulled away from the unstable support structure but the movement brought with it another wave of dizziness. Every muscle in her body ached as if she had been abusing herself on a treadmill for a week straight. Her limbs convulsed causing her to flop in a heap onto the floor making the ground shake as she landed. Thick cracks shot out in the marble floor beneath her and a fleeting thought crossed her mind, 'I am so fired', before the intense ache in her muscles became a burning pain. Robin tried to stand but each attempt only caused more pain to flare and craters to form in the marble under her hands. The gold band glowed bright and golden making it difficult to see anything clearly. Then the distinct sound of bone breaking and muscle ripping caught in her ringing ears before the inevitable backlash rippled through her. If she had been able to form a coherent thought 'how?' and 'why?' would have crossed her mind but she couldn't and they didn't. After a while she was sure that she would become numb to the pain but she was not that lucky, even as she felt it all building bringing forth new sharper pain all she wanted was for it to stop. For everything to stop.
She could feel the ground around her quake, the marble floor crumbled beneath her and then explosive energy pulsed through her bringing the numbing darkness she had craved.
Date: May 16th 2012
"Is the report ready? Peirce said he wanted an update ASAP." Agent Sitwell said as he strode into the lab without so much as a 'good morning'.
"It had only been a few days but so far the subjects seem very promising." Dr Colfer informed the agent as she stepped out from behind her desk, clipboard in hand, and gestured him forward. She glanced down at her notes and the sealed envelope containing her full report along with a USB full of various results and audio/visual evidence of the experiments performed, each file strictly top level encryption. Eventually they stopped in front of two identical steel reinforced concrete cells with specially armoured glass designed for intense strain, like super human abilities for example, as they had no idea for certain whet the subjects were capable of. They looked into the first cell, Colfer expected some kind of reaction from Sitwell but was only shown his impassive mask.
"Interesting." He said almost absently as he glanced at the charts beside her cell.
"A little more than interesting I'd say." Colfer scoffed defensively as she straightened her lab coat. "Subject 2319, Cleo Harris, female, Caucasian, source of the initial energy spike. Response team got to her within the hour, found unconscious in a pretty sizable crater-"
"As interesting as her life story is, Doctor, I would prefer the cliff notes and the files so I can get Peirce off my back." Sitwell interrupted before she could start telling him more time wasting trivial information.
"Very well," She said irritably before shuffling some of her notes "Source of the energy signature appears to be the gold band infused to the subject's wrist. Attempts to remove the band have proved unsuccessful and on one occasion lethal.
"The subject herself appears to have been altered physically to a molecular scale. Though her DNA appears to be mostly intact her organ tissues have been altered to work more efficiently than any I have before encountered.
"Moreover, the energy originating from the band has interwoven with her genetic makeup in such a way that seems to allow the subject to manipulate and absorb energy around her, hence the removal of all electrical devices and cables from her cell, and though we haven't determined how, as of yet, this may explain the physical discharge of energy." He glanced at her for a moment before she sighed and pointed at the subject. "The glowing."
"What about the levitation, do you know how she's doing that?" He asked with an inkling of genuine interest.
"Unfortunately, we have yet to determine this and it would seem that the subject herself has little to no control over her flight, she seems to float around aimlessly. At first she screamed and tried to grab onto anything that could hold her down but as you can see both cells are completely empty. Eventually she gave up and just floats around the cell.
"There may be more that we have yet to uncover about her abilities but these are our current findings." Colfer stated as she began to walk to the second cell with Sitwell at her heels. "Subject 2320, Robin Cousland, female, Caucasian, first cousin to subject 2319."
"They're related? I thought they were separate incidents?!" He asked becoming seemingly more interested the more that he learned.
"They were isolated incidents, or at least appeared to be, the second energy spike occurred twelve minutes forty-three seconds after the first. We have yet to identify how and why these specific individuals were affected.
"As you can see the subject has a similar band on her wrist, again the source of the energy, however the effects of the energy seem to be different. When we first acquired the subjects they were placed in regulation holding cells to be processed. Subject 2320 broke a hole through the holding cell on her first confused attempt, once she was recaptured both subjects were moved to these holding cells, these are the strongest cells we have in this facility and you can see the damage she has done. Most of it seems to have been incidental, as was her initial escape, but you can easily see the cracks and craters in the walls. She has been gassed three times to allow us in to make repairs since her arrival.
"As far as we can tell, the energy from the band altered her molecular makeup, her strength has increased dramatically since she had been here and the increase has only recently begun to slow. It's possible she may be ten times stronger before the energy eventually levels out in her system.
"And physically her muscles and bones have been restructured, stronger than anything I have seen, most attempts to take samples via syringes have failed because they couldn't penetrate the skin!" Colfer then realised that she had started to get a little over excited, so she paused and cleared her throat to regain some of her composure. "Anyway, I have placed a request to begin more invasive procedures and to run tests to find the limits of their endurance. Hopefully find some more strengths and weakness, see if we can extrapolate the energy and replicate its effects." She said a little more calmly as she handed the suit the envelope.
"I am sure SHEILD will be very pleased with your work." Sitwell affirmed as he took the envelope and tucked it away in his briefcase. Then he extended his hand towards her to conclude their business, as she clasped his hand to shake it he leaned forward slightly and spoke so lowly she wouldn't have heard him had she been breathing too loudly. "Hail Hydra."
Date: June 10th 2014
He couldn't find a release, no button or latch that would allow him access to the shadowed figures locked away for God knows how long. Eventually frustration wound through him as he turned away from the glass. There had to be some way into the cells or else they couldn't be in there in the first place.
After what seemed like forever he heard the mechanical footsteps that always preceded a headache. Stark sauntered into the room, his helmet open showing his signature casual smirk, once he realised what was in the room his playful superhero routine dissolved into someone actually helpful.
"JARVIS, you done with the data mine?" He asked the air as he quickly approached the glass, assessing how it worked.
"Yes sir already sent to your private server." An English sounding voice responded though neither man had spoken.
"Good, can you see a way into these cells, I think these people have been here long eno- woah is she floating? Yup and there is definite glowing going on too." The metal man stood in front of the first cell and watched as the woman confined within flew from one space to another. "Who are these people?" He asked quietly.
"Subjects 2319 and 2320. Results show they are also Cleo Harris and Robin Cousland, both missing persons and then declared dead two years ago." The disembodied voice answered automatically.
"Cleo, Robin, don't worry. We'll have you out of there real soon." Steve Rogers told them in a gentle tone.
"Immediate release is not recommended." The voice chimed in.
ALL MARVEL CHARACTERS IN THIS FIC BELONG TO, SURPRISE SUPRISE, MARVEL! ALL RIGHTS REMAIN PROPERTY OF MARVEL.
THE PLOT AND OCs (CLEO HARRIS AND ROBIN COUSLAND) BELONG TO ME.
EVERYTHING ELSE IS DONE FOR NON PROFIT AND THE AMUSEMENT OF FANS.
ALSO ANY REFERENCES MADE BELONG TO WHOEVER OWNS THE RIGHTS.