Hey, so I guess this is another adoption notice, though it's coming in late (sorry). Fernandidilly-yo has adopted this story, and though I haven't yet read what they've got so far, I'm sure it's great! They seemed excited about it, even as I was rude and kinda forgot about their first PM (I'm so sorry, Fernandidilly-yo) so if you're interested, please feel free to check it out. I can't leave a link because fanfiction kind of sucks with that, but it's on the same site so I'm sure none of you will have much trouble finding it.
ONCE AGAIN, FERNANDIDILLY-YO HAS ADOPTED THIS STORY! YAY! GO CHECK IT OUT!
This time around, your story tidbit is actually the rough draft of the story I wrote that eventually lead to Reintroducing Hope, though it doesn't have much in common with, I think. If anybody wants this idea, you're more than welcome to it. You can even make off with the basic writings I have if you want. Ha. I have a lot of unfinished stuff.
Steve found the facility entirely on accident, happening upon it while he'd been searching the riverbanks again, looking fruitlessly for a clue about his old best friend. He had taken to jogging along the muddy shores instead of around Central Park, like he used to, because even though he knew it was pointless, it felt a little better then resuming everything like nothing was wrong.
He didn't know what had caught his attention. Maybe a branch had been broken, or a stone had moved, but he noticed something different about the pattern of trees, and a bad feeling stirred in the back of his mind. Steve knew from experience to not to ignore his instincts, so he veered off path and made his way towards the different spot, his eyes hopefully scanning the ground for a hint.
After a small wrestling session with a determined bush, and a few lashes from stubborn branches later, Steve discovered a trail in the mud from something with wheels. The trail continued into the small section of wood, and Steve hummed. The factory on the other side of the woods belonged to Oscorp, and while he knew at least Tony disliked the company, he had written the distrust off as company politics until now.
Steve followed the tire trail into the trees, and found that past the initial point, the path was very easily followed. He guessed that the foliage was only a cover for a trail that had been there for a while. The path went directly through the wood with no twists or turns, and when Steve emerged from the wood he could see that his suspicions had been correct. The tire tracks lead to a small metal garage door on the west wall of the Oscorp factory. Other, similar doors flanked the door, all with the same type of tire tracks leading to them, though fainter.
Steve dug in his pocket for his phone, pulling it out and flipping it open, dialing Tony's number in quickly. He put the phone up to his ear, and after a couple of rings, Tony answered.
"Dammit Cap, I'm in the middle of something." Steve could hear music blaring in the background, something loud and heavy, and the clack of metal against metal.
"Don't worry about it," Steve reassured him, suddenly feeling self conscience. "I'm pretty sure it's nothing, but I just got a bad feeling when I was jogging this morning, and I found a tire trail. I'm outside the Oscorp factory, I'm going to look around a little. I just wanted somebody to know just in case anything happened."
"Wait, what?" Tony asked, and the clanking of metal stopped. "Cap-"
A loud creak filled Steve's ears, and the bad feeling returned. He turned towards the Oscorp building, watching as one of the metal doors slowly opened with a hideous screeching sound. This was probably ridiculous, and he was probably trespassing and would be breaking and entering soon, but he couldn't shake that feeling, and he felt like he had to investigate.
"Gotta go, Tony," Steve said into his phone, and flipped it shut, shoving it deep into his pocket as he watched the metal door finish rising. Slowly, a large tank-looking vehicle rolled through the opening. Steve sunk back to hide in the trees as the large, blocky vehicle drove forwards, leaving behind tire tracks identical to the ones Steve had followed through the wood. It drove right past him, emitting a low-pitched grumble as its wheels rumbled against the uneven ground.
Steve glanced around quickly, seeing nobody, and jogged forward towards the opening. The garage door started squealing again as it was lowered, and Steve quickened his pace, glancing around again to make sure nobody was looking. Nobody was, and he made it to the garage doors fast enough so that he could have limbo'ed under them, given the inclination. He ducked into the garage and looked around for any people, but there was only a doorway, and the slowly closing metal door behind him.
Steve knew, logically, that he should probably stop here, duck back under the metal door, and get out of here before he actually did something really illegal. Except he'd learned by now that his intuition was something to take very seriously, and he'd already come to far. He looked around until he found something useful, a crowbar, and wedged it under the screeching metal door, stopping it's progress. A faint whine came from the joints as they kept trying to push down, but the crowbar held. Just for good measure, Steve added a second one, and then went to the door.
Surprisingly, it was unlocked, so Steve opened the door as cautiously as possibly and peered into the hallway beyond. There was nobody in sight, so he stepped forward and glanced around. There was a hallway to either side of him, lined with doors identical to the one behind him, which Steve assumed lead to similar garages, all hidden behind the metal doors he'd seen earlier. Two doors to his right there was a hallway that lead off perpendicular to the one he was standing in, and Steve crept towards it, peering his head around the corner. Strangely enough, there was nobody in that hallway either, which made Steve just a bit more suspicious as he started jogging down the hallway.
After about fifteen feet, the hallway became lines with doors on either side, narrow windows in each one. Steve peered through the one to his left, but recoiled as a sharp flash of light seared his retinas. He blinked the spots away just in time to see two people clad in white prodding a small child with a long metal rod. The rod started glowing again, and Steve looked away, waiting for the flash, which came a minute or so later. HIs mouth tasted foul as he peered in the other window and saw another pair or white-clad people standing over a blonde girl chained to the wall.
A high pitched ringing sounded, and Steve had a moment of terror before he realized it was his phone. The scientists over the blonde girl hadn't budged, so they must have not heard it. As much as Steve wanted to rush in there and save the kid, he knew he needed a plan, so he shoved his phone up to his ear.
"Cap, you can't just drop something like that on me and then hang up," Tony snapped angrily. "Look, your gut better be onto something, because I was in the middle of a huge project-"
"Tony!" Steve cut him off with a sharp whisper. "I need your help over here. They're torturing kids inside the factory, and could you call the rest of the Avengers, or anybody you think could help. I left a door open on the west side-"
"Wait, wait, you're actually inside?" Tony swore. "Dammit, Cap, I thought you were the man-with-the-plan. Look, I'm on my way over. Just try to stay put."
Steve opened his mouth to reply, but an alarm suddenly started blaring overhead. "I think they discovered me."
"What do you mean, they dis-" Tony's angry shout was cut off as Steve shut the phone and shoved it back in his pocket again. When he glanced through the window again, all three people in the room had looked up at the sound of the alarm. The blonde girl's face had faint hope on it, while the others' faces (Steve didn't want to call them scientists, because that was most definitely not science. It was immoral torture) had pure annoyance again. The blonde girl caught sight of him peeking through the window and her eyes widened, pleading. Steve made a promising gesture and ducked out of sight again, looking down the corridor for guards, but instead the alarm stopped.
A moment later, there was a crackle, and then an annoyed, static-y voice came over the intercom system. "Apologies for the interruption. Unit five is to be dispatched to sector three. Project 117 is proving much more difficult than we anticipated, and even as his twenty-third escape attempt has proved unsuccessful, additional security is needed."
Project 117? Steve mouthed to himself. That didn't sound that important, especially if it-or he or she-was located in thethird sector, and not the first, but twenty three attempted escapes deserved at least a little recognition. Plus the annoyed tone of voice, which implied that this project was very rebellious, even past the attempted escapes.
Steve glanced back into the room he stood near, just in time to see the two white-coats turn from the blonde girl and start walking towards the door. Her eyes widened in panic and she jerked her head, but it was too late, as the white-coats were already reaching for the doorknob. Steve froze for a moment, just long enough for the door to start swinging inward, before his mind rebooted and he tossed a punch forward, his fist solidly connecting with one of the white-coats' faces.
"Hey-!" the other one started out, but Steve clapped a hand over his mouth and twisted as he stepped forward so he knocked the man clean out with his elbow. He repeated the movement on the one he had punched in the face and let them drop tot he ground, quickly closing the door behind him. The blonde girl looked at him with wide brown eyes, hope ad fear equal parts in her expression. Steve knelt down beside her, breaking one of the chains that kept her close to the wall in his hands.
"I'm not going to hurt you," he reassured her, and wished he had his shield or his cowl. Kids seemed to be fascinated with those two objects in particular, and it was always easier to rescue a calm kid then a panicked kid. Of course, this situation was probably going to be anything but easy. "What's your name," he asked as he broke the last chain and she collapsed against his chest.
"T-Tessa," she practically sobbed into his chest. "Th-thank y-y-you Mister."
"Okay, Tessa," Steve began, shifting his arm up to pat her on the back in a comforting manner. "Are you okay with telling me what they're doing here?"
"Uh, yeah, o-okay," Tessa said, sniffling and pushing back from his arms, giving him a determined look. "Th-they took d-d-disabled and or-orphaned k-kids from different p-p-p-places and st-started injecting u-us wh-with st-stuff to s-s-see if we'd re-react t-to it. O-only a f-few ki-kids did, b-but most of th-th-th-them d-died."
"Most of them?" Steve wondered, gripping Tessa's arm lightly.
"P-P-P-Project 1-117," Tessa said, confirming Steve's suspicions. "I-I don't kn-kn-know w-why, b-but he d-did."
"How long have you been here, Tessa?" Steve asked softly as moisture started to form at the corners of Tessa's eyes. "Can you tell me anything else."
"Few w-weeks," she replied in a shaky voice. "I d-dunno that m-m-much else, b-but I kn-know th-th-that the l-lower the s-s-s-s-sector n-number, th-the longer the p-p-prisoner h-has been th-there. A-a-are you gonna h-help th-the o-o-other kids e-e-e-escape?"
"I'm going to try," Steve said in a determined voice. "You should probably get out of here. If you go down the hallway you'll find the door I came through slightly open. If you go through it there should be a garage door held open with two crowbars. Wiggle under the space and hide in the woods outside. I'll be sending as many kids out as possible. Okay?"
"O-okay," Tessa stuttered, nodding bravely, and Steve's heart ached. She couldn't have been more than eight, but she had a bravery that rivaled many of the soldiers Steve had fought with. She stood up on shaky legs and followed Steve to the door, running down the hallway like he'd told her when he'd opened it. Steve almost wanted to kick the downed white-coats for what they had done, but refrained, instead closing the door behind him quietly and stepping across the hall, opening the door.
As soon as the door opened, the kid inside-a young boy this time-looked up with wide, terrified eyes. The white-coats looked startled, but they were easy enough to take out, and after a little coaxing, Steve calmed the boy down enough to free him, trying to ignore the horrific burn marks all across the boy's torso and arms. Steve asked the same questions to him as he had Tessa, and got much the same information, except for one little piece that made Steve's blood run cold. "They said they was lookin' to create a 'Supa' Soldia' Serum'," the boy told him, his speech heavily burdened with pain and sleepiness, besides the accent. Steve had repeated the same instructions as he had with Tessa and seen the boy off before going onto the next door, and the next.
The questions became more and more brief, until all he was asking about was if they were okay, and if they had heard anything about the "Super Soldier Serum". Soon Steve just asked if they were alright before telling them that he'd already gotten several kids out, and that they just needed to run down the hall and escape through the two doors Steve had left open. They all seemed very willing to do this, and with every kid Steve rescued, his heart grew a little heavier.
He came across kids
Finally, Steve came to the end of the hall, and saw a sign neatly printed, declaring this to be 'Sector 9'. Steve looked around, and breathed a sigh of relief when he saw signs for only ten sectors. Briefly, he eyeballed the sign for Sector 3, considering the option, but then turned away in favor of going down Sector 10. His phone rang again, and Steve picked it up just as he ducked into Sector Ten. It was a miracle in of itself that he hadn't been caught yet, but he supposed most of the guards must be in Sector Three, making sure that the twenty-fourth escape attempt didn't succeed.
"Hello?" Steve said into the phone, thanking God that nobody was in the hallway for Sector 10. "Tony?"
"Steve," Tony greeted, his voice distorted by something metallic that was no doubt the Iron Man armor. "I'm on the west side of the Oscorp factory with Natasha, Clint, and Bruce. There are kids coming out of one of the garages, and Bruce is tending to some of them. Is that the entrance you mentioned?"
"Yeah," Steve panted, leaning against one of the walls. "I could use your guys' help. Apparently Oscorp is trying to remake the Super Soldier Serum, and they're testing it on kids. They've only had one success so far, I don't know why he was special, but I need your guys' help to get all the kids out. can you open some of the other garage doors and maybe make sure they stay open before coming to find me. I'm in Sector 10 righ-" Steve was cut off by the same alarm as earlier, but this time it was accompanied by a robotic voice over the intercom blaring "Intruder Alert! Intruder Alert!" like some of the bad sci-fi shows Clint had made him watch.
Steve hung up on Tony for the third time that day, setting his phone away before running to the first door in Sector 10. The white-coats inside were arming themselves with a chair and a rod similar to the one the boy at the second door in Sector 9 had been tortured with. Steve used the chair to fend off the rod, glad he had wen he saw how the plastic of the chair melted like sticky butter under the heat of the rod. When both white-coats were incapacitated, he helped the teenage girl out of her bindings and she gave him a hard squint before hobbling over to the heat rod and taking it in her hand.
"Help the others out and try to get as many armed as possible," she requested, flicking the rod on so it started to glow with heat again. "I took two years in mixed martial arts before my leg got hurt, so maybe I can help." She looked backup, her eyes shimmering. "And thanks, you know, for doing this."
"Of course," Steve replied. "I appreciate your help. There should be a way out if you go to the end of Sector 9 and find the open door. Could you direct the other kids to it?"
The girl nodded, and went to stand at the end of the hallway while Steve broke into the room across the hall. After two more, the white-coats seemed to understand that staying put was a bad decision, and they all started pouring out into the hallway. Over half of them were armed with the heat rods, or short metal maces with wicked looking prongs at the end. Steve took a deep breath and dove into the battle, ignoring the pain of the burn marks on his skin and the sharp dig of spikes into his flesh. The kids he'd managed to free fled down the hall for Sector 9. Steve hoped they'd make it.
Just as things were starting to look painfully morbid, because even though the white-coats seemed to be horrible at fighting, their numbers and superior weaponry was wearing on him, a blast of blue light came from down the hall and several of the white-coats were sent flying. Steve looked over his shoulder at Iron Man, hovering just slightly above the ground, slowly made his way towards them.
The white-coats panicked, and everything was a mess of screams and white and light flashes, but a minute or two later most of the white-coats were either unconscious or they had fled, and Steve and Tony were free to each take a side of the hall and start freeing the kids willy nilly, repeatedly shouting the directions to the way out. The kids were helpful enough to repeat the message and help the members of their party who couldn't walk or were slower than the rest. It simultaneously warmed and broke Steve's heart, and made him even more determined to bring down the mind behind this operation.
"Clint and Natasha are in Sector 8," Tony explained between doors. "Bruce is outside, dealing with the injuries he can and gathering the kids. I don't know how long they can avoid notice of Oscorp's security system, but the NYPD should be arriving pretty soon for back up. You mentioned a success? Which hallway?"
"Sector 3," Steve yelled back. "I don't know if they actually succeeded or if they just think they did, but there's something special with him. He's attempted escape twenty-three times, and he can't have been here longer than a few months at most, going off my information. We should all go into Sector 3 together, since that's where the most guards are, and I'm assuming that they'll be really tight security around him, since they don't want the twenty-fourth escape attempt to succeed."
"Alright, I'll contact Hawkeye and Widow. We should meet up with them briefly between Sector raids. Just enough time for Widow to give you your equipment."
They were past halfway down the hall now, dodging past fleeing kids as they worked to break the bonds in each room. Some of the other kids were using the rods to melt the chains on the other kids' wrists to make the process go faster, which was really useful.
A blur of broken chains and frightened, thankful kids later, and Tony and Steve were shepherding the last of the kids out of Sector 10 and watching as Clint and Natasha did the same. Natasha handed him his shield and his comm with a nod before running down Sector 7 after Clint. Steve followed Tony down Sector 6, since they were apparently doing this in reverse numerical order, and the process started again. Some doors were already open, the white-coats missing, probably in another Sector. Steve was a lot happier with the use of his shield, and taking down the white-coats proved a lot less painful and much easier with the use of it. The kids also seemed a tad bit calmer knowing two superheroes were on the case, and not just an odd man with surprising fighting skills.
After Sector 6, Steve and Natasha took Sector 5 while Tony and Clint took Sector 4. They skipped over Sector 3, knowing they'd have to take it together, and Clint and Steve took Sector 1 while Tony and Natasha took Sector 2. Between 4 and 1, Steve saw some NYPD members arriving at the scene and helping usher the kids to safety, as well as putting countless white coats and guards in handcuffs and dragging them out. Everything seemed to be going really slow and really fast at the same time, so Steve remembered freeing each individual kid with painful accuracy, but suddenly he was busting down the locked door to Sector 3 with Tony, Natasha, and Clint beside him.
"You think this kid is really another Captain America?" Clint asked, taking careful aim and letting loose three arrows, which stuck to the walls and let off a high pitched noise that made several of the white-coats collapse to the ground.
"Probably not," Natasha replied, sweeping a leg out under several white-coats' feet. "But it would be best if we got the kid for security and wiped the files on how they did it anyway. We should also monitor his behavior at the tower to make sure there aren't any advanced signs of aggression or other dangerous things before sending him back to him family."
"I can probably wipe the computer memory and files on the kid," Tony offered. "Plus, if the serum did somehow work, Bruce should be able to tell with a simple blood test. If it did, we'll have to consider our options. We can't go to SHIELD because SHIELD doesn't exist anymore, and the regular police aren't exactly equipped to handle something like this. Besides, he's probably really young, and I don't want anybody treating a kid, or any person, like just a weapon, which is probably what they'll do if we just hand him over to the police to use." The guards and white-coats were thinning out. "I doubt the serum worked, though. We'll figure it out back at the Tower."
Steve hit one of the last guards over the head with his shield, felling him with a single blow. HIs teammates took care of the rest, and they all branched out in the hallway to look for a label marking the success. Something pinged in Steve's memory, and he called out to them, "Look for Project 117!"
Strangely, all of the rooms were empty in this Sector, and the doors were windowless, which meant they had to peer into every room, just in case. A few of the guards were smart enough to hide behind the doors and attack the first person who opened them, but they were dispatched with a few bumps and bruises.
"Got it!" Tony called from down the hall. Natasha, Clint, and Steve all finished checking the rooms quickly, with a little assistance from Tony, before they went back to the door marked 117. None of the other doors were marked, and Steve briefly considered this, as well as the fact that each hallway had only held around thirty kids, give or take, and while that was a lot, 117 was too high to be in Sector 3. They'd have to look into that later.
Tony got the door open with a hard kick and the squeak of hinges, and they stepped into a dark room, the light of the hallway behind them and the faint glow of Tony's tech the only lighting. Faintly, they could see a figure shift to look up at them with a pale, gaunt face, and Steve stepped forward, grabbing the chain around the boy's right arm and yanking hard. The chain rattled and stretched, but didn't break, so Steve tried again, putting more strength into it. It still didn't work, until halfway through the boy braced his back against the wall and pushed the cuffs away from the wall too. Their combined strength together managed to break the chain, and Steve moved onto the other arm while Tony, Clint, and Natasha worked on his legs. Three slightly strenuous efforts later, the boy was freed, and Steve helped him to his feet.
"Can you walk?" Steve asked kindly, and the boy chuckled, a little darkly.
"Probably," he replied, his voice scratchy from disuse. "I'll wobble a little bit, so maybe an arm around my shoulders, but you don't need to pick my up like a damsel in distress."
Clint stepped forward and slung the kid's arm around his shoulder, and the kid managed to do the same to Clint so it was a more solid support system. "What can you tell us?" he wondered as they made there way out of hte building, the kid indeed wobbling on his legs, but staying steady enough to keep pace, which was very impressive, all things considered.
"Uhm, there should be around 289 kids, including me, give or take," the boy started, starting to breath heavily. "I think they've been giving me two meals a day, according to my metabolism, which means I've been here for roughly six weeks. Sunlight is going to hurt like a bitch when it hits my eye, so we should watch out for that. I was tortured and repeatedly injured in the same spot to test my capabilities, so be careful of my left thigh and, you know, everywhere else, but there in particular. I think they were trying to replicate the Super Soldier formula, and they thought it succeeded in me, for some reason. It didn't, if that's what you're wondering about. I don't know what it did, but I'm as scrawny as I was a few months ago, just malnourished and half-dead."
"We'll want to find any averse affects of what they injected you with, just in case there was a reason behind them thinking that it worked on you," Tony told the boy. "We'll probably take you back to the Tower for medical examination, and a blood test, before sending you back to your family. What's your name?"
"Peter," the boy answered shakily, suddenly looking a little more nervous, though Steve couldn't think of a reason why? Shouldn't the kid be happy to head back to his family? "I'm sixteen."
They emerged from the now completely open garage door at the end of Sector 9, and Peter nearly doubled over, cringing as he hid his eyes. "Oh, crap! I expected that but I should have been ready," he swore. "God, sunlight is painful. Can we get to some shade?"
Clint herded the boy over the lawn, past dozens of police trucks where white-coats and guards were being loaded into, and over to where Bruce was treating a young child's burns. Peter opened his eyes when they reached the shade of the woods, holding a hand over his eyes but slowly letting them adjust. "Oh, fresh air, how I've missed you!"
Several children were looking at Peter with shy awe, and Steve guessed that they knew that he was the supposed success. Peter noticed a small boy near him looking at him with complete awe, and knelt down. "Hey, you're Kyle, right? Dude, remember me? I think that was escape attempt number sixteen, when I met you."
The boy nodded, and suddenly children were swarming around him, all sharing their stories and the number of the escape attempt Peter had met them on. Clint, Natasha, Tony, Steve, and Bruce all exchanged surprised looks before Bruce began to push through the crowd of children to start tending to Peter's injuries.