: : : AVENGERS: HNG : : :

- Precise Location Unknown, New York City, May 05, 2024 1:50AM -

Rain. Some liked it, others didn't. But right now, almost everyone hated it. It wasn't a surprise really, what with the current thunderstorm. It had been raging for the last couple of days, ever since he supposedly returned. She hadn't seen him though. But that too was no surprise. He rarely came back in the first place, and when he did, he never visited her. None of them did, and she wouldn't have it any other way. She never liked them in the first place. But even then, she too was a little annoyed with the fact that he just had to make the weather rage like crazy whenever he visited. She should've brought an umbrella. Not that it would've done her much good. Not against this kind of heavy rain. And especially not with this wind.

A loud thunderclap broke the ever so peaceful silence of the night, the accompanying thunder lighting up the sky like a flashlight. It also revealed the silhouette of the woman, with her short and tidy brown hair, and her feminine yet unmistakably powerful posture. She was wearing what looked like a military-grade uniform. In the darkness, it was impossible to tell the details, but the uniform definitely had a dark color, perhaps blue, or maybe even black, and it was fitted with various pouches, all in white. The woman carried only one weapon though, which was a pistol holstered on her right hip. Not that it mattered what she looked like. She was here alone, after all.

She stood at the edge of a rooftop, overlooking the city. A rotten city. It seemed peaceful enough now, but she knew there were plenty of thieves and the like up right now, going about their business even in the dead of night. They were active especially at night, of course. During the day they risked running into Spider-Man.

Spider-Man. One of New York's last heroes, and one of a very select few that criminals feared. These days, the whole hero gig was practically a full time job for mister Parker, a fact that the woman both appreciated and regretted at the same time. He was still so young, he deserved to have at least a little bit of a personal life. Then again, he was also a bit of a preventive method. So long as he was out there, being a friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, people would think twice about becoming a criminal, and criminals would think twice about going big and becoming more of a threat than a nuisance. In short, Spider-Man was doing most of the work that they had always done.

They. The Avengers. She'd always thought of them as nuisances. They did good work, admittedly, and they had saved the planet, if not the universe, on more than one occasion. But they also operated without supervision, they were reckless, and they caused just as much damage as the villains they fought. It was worse that they actually chose to work this way. S.H.I.E.L.D. had offered them chances to work together on more than one occasion, but Stark always shot them down. And if it wasn't Stark, it would be one of the others.

Oh, well. It didn't matter now. Things would be different this time. S.H.I.E.L.D. would take the reins back into their very capable hands, and peace and security would be restored. First in New York, then in the rest of the country, and then the world. But those were plans for the future. For now, she needed to make sure S.H.I.E.L.D. would actually have the resources to enact those plans.

The woman snapped from her thoughts as she suddenly noticed someone walking down the street several stories below her. Funny. She hadn't really expected anyone to be up and about in this kind of weather. Not even the criminals of New York liked rain and thunder. Apparently though, that didn't count for this person. It was a woman, from the looks of it. A prostitute, probably. This one had had some late working hours, it seemed. Then something else got her attention. Something – or someone – moved in an alley further down the street, and whoever it was, the person seemed to have a knife. A big one.

Likely, the person who was in the alley had seen the prostitute too, and were now preparing to make a grab for her. Not surprising, since the prostitute didn't even seem remotely aware that she was walking toward her doom. Before she could do anything however, the woman on the rooftop was witness to something one didn't see all that often in New York anymore. Not these days, and especially not at night. Someone helped the prostitute.

Or at least, that was what the woman assumed. Because just as the figure in the alley was about to make a move on their target, they were dragged back into the shadows by something – or someone – unknown. The woman on the roof strained her eyes and ears, but found no indication of anyone ever being down there, beside the prostitute, who just kept on walking, completely oblivious to anything. Perhaps that was for the best.

The figure on the roof stayed where she was, keeping a watchful eye over the city. A short time – which felt like an eternity – later, she checked her watch. 2:02AM. Dammit, only minutes had passed since she last checked. And then suddenly, something felt… off. Just like that, out of nowhere, she felt like she was being watched. But that was impossible, right? She hadn't heard or seen anyone. Surely she would know if someone was trying to sneak up on her… but then, with her job, the impossible happened on a weekly basis.

"You're late."

"And you are lucky I showed up in the first place." A deep voice replied in an obviously African accent. Inwardly, the woman smiled. She'd been right then. She was being watched. "I do not appreciate being summoned like this."

"There is no luck involved. I asked for a meeting, and you came to meet me." The woman observed, turning around to face the roof. At first, she didn't see anything, but then she saw him. His suit blending in almost perfectly with the night, he was practically invisible. But his cape betrayed his position as it fluttered wildly in in the wind. Another thunderclap sounded, and another streak of lightning lit up the world. Briefly, the woman was able to see more than just darkness. She saw the yellow of the man's eyes, the toothed necklace he wore, and the design in his mask that vaguely resembled a panther.

"Why did you summon me, Maria?" The man asked. Apparently, he refused to call this a meeting. Well, that was fair. She had kind of summoned him, after all. He also seemed to think they were on first name basis. Now, she would've loved to call him by his name too, but then… he was a king. A powerful one. And right now, S.H.I.E.L.D. needed all the allies they could get.

"It's Director to you, Your Highness." Maria stated, before stepping toward him. "I need your help. The world needs your help." She added. The man was silent for a while, and Maria wondered whether she might've come on too strong. She immediately threw those thoughts away. He had abandoned the world, he deserved to be put in his place now, king or not.

"I will not return, Director Hill. You know this. We disbanded for a reason." The man replied stoically. Maria rolled her eyes.

"I don't need you to come back. And I don't want you to, either. But I know a mutual acquaintance asked a favor of you a few years ago." She stated, and she noticed how the silhouette of the stoic king went rigid at the mention of this 'acquaintance'.

"I want those files, Panther. And I want them now." She continued. She couldn't see it in the darkness, but she had a feeling the man had narrowed his eyes at her.

"You will have your files." He stated, and Maria nodded her thanks to him. It was only a professional courtesy, really. She didn't want to start a war here, after all.

"But do not think this will work. You have too many secrets. S.H.I.E.L.D. has too many secrets. Your little group will fall apart sooner than you think. But that is not my problem. Do what you must, Director. And do not think I am unaware of your spies either. Pull them out of Wakanda. That is not a request." The king of Wakanda stated.

Maria wanted to glare at him, but wasn't able to do so safely. Not in this rain. She reached up to rub some of the water out of her eyes and when she looked back up, the Panther was gone, leaving Maria alone on the rooftop with the promise that she would get what she needed.

"Always a pleasure doing business with you, T'Challa." She mused to herself, before frowning at his last words. How did he know of her spies? Did she have a mole in her organization? Or… no, the Panther was just that good. Nothing escaped him, and especially not in his own borders. Perhaps that was for the better. Wakanda could very well be the last safe place on the planet, soon.

: : : AVENGERS: HNG : : :


- Backyard, Barton Residence, May 06, 2024 02:00PM -

The axe made a low whistling sound as it sailed through the air. A rather loud crack followed as it hit its intended target, splitting yet another piece of wood cleanly. Stepping back to admire his handiwork, Clint swept a hand past his brow. He'd already worked through half of the wood, and he'd only been at it since yesterday. He didn't care much for the storm.

Sure, the weather was crazy, but the barn provided enough shelter from the wind and he wasn't afraid of a little rain. Weather couldn't scare him. Not even when the rain was so heavy it would soak you in a split second, the wind would literally blow you away, and there was thunder and lightning all around you. It didn't scare Clint. Not after everything he had been through in his life.

And besides, chopping wood like this was therapeutic, and Clint could sure use that. Especially since that day was coming up again. He had built a good life for himself, what with his farm, and his wife and daughter. He should be grateful for what he had, and he knew that. But still there was this feeling… like he should've done more. And he knew that he could have done more than just give up and walk away.

But everything had seemed so hopeless… Thor left, the team was mourning, and then with Stark and S.H.I.E.L.D. betraying them, what else could they do but walk away from it all? And now? Well, now it was too late to do anything. The world had already gone to hell, and Clint had no idea where he would have to start if he were actually planning to do something about it. And besides, how would he ever do that? With his bow and some trick arrows? Yeah, like that was going to work. It had before, obviously, but… back then he had the others fighting beside him. Firing an arrow at a small army of criminals was a lot easier when you had the likes of the Hulk and Captain America backing you up.

Captain America. The First Avenger. And one of the few Clint had considered an actual friend. The man always had faith in his comrades, even in the most impossible situations. Like that one time when Clint had decided to show off his skill to the team.

The shot would be hard to make, but it wasn't impossible. Maybe. I had set up an apple as a target, and between my bow and said target, Stark had set up a challenging little course. And now I found myself peering at the apple, taking aim.

My arrow would have to avoid electric fields rotating at various speeds, and a set of moving metal plates that shot up from the floor. Every few seconds, there would be a split second opportunity for me to shoot my arrow and hope to hit my target as I always had before. It was kind of funny, really. There was no real pressure on this, yet this was the first time in my life I actually doubted whether I would be able to make the shot.

"There's no way you're going to make that shot." Tony commented, looking at me from his position at the side. Wasp flew up to me, nodding.

"Yeah, Iron Man's right." She agreed. "That's just not gonna happen." She added, gesturing at the course Stark had laid out for me. Ant-Man spoke up next.

"I don't like to use the word impossible… but it may fit here." Dr. Pym said in his ever so calculating voice. "What do you think, Hulk?" He asked the green giant beside him.

"Don't care. Only came in case Hawkeye started a fight." The strongest Avenger quipped from his position leaning against the wall. I resisted the urge to roll my eyes.

"Thanks for the support, team." I commented sarcastically. In the corner of my eye, I noticed Steve was still observing the course.

"What do you think, Old Man?" I asked him. Captain America grinned and turned to me.

"I haven't seen you miss yet." He stated. "I don't expect you to start now."

A ghost of a smile played at my lips before I turned back to the course, focusing for a split second before letting my arrow fly. It avoided the first electric fields, then the metal plates, then another pair of fields…

"Daddy! Daddy!" Clint was snapped from his memories by a tugging at his raincoat. Looking down, he found his daughter clinging to his leg, trying to get his attention. A smile instantly appeared on his face, but it vanished just as quickly as Clint crouched down to look at his daughter face-to-face.

"Didn't I tell you to stay inside with your mother?" He asked sternly. The girl averted her eyes, staring at her feet. "Nicole Eleanor Barton…" Clint warned. She looked up and met his eyes again. She opened her mouth, seemingly going to apologize. And then she changed her mind.

"But I wanna play!" She whined. Clint smiled and shook his head lightly, knowing what that meant. Ever since she found his old bow in the attic, she'd been obsessed with learning archery. But there was no way he was going to teach her now. Not in this kind of weather.

"Nikki, now is not a good time. It's raining." He responded, running a hand through her soaked hair. Nicole used both her hands to push his away, getting a chuckle out of Clint. She never did like it when people touched her hair. Only Laura could get away with it, usually.

"I don't care! I told you I wanna play!" Nicole insisted, crossing her arms. Clint grinned, before scooping her up and starting to walk back toward the house. A thunderclap made the girl jump and let out a little squeal, and she buried her face in Clint's raincoat.

"And I told you to stay inside with mommy and be safe from the thunder and rain." Clint responded, playfully scolding her. Nicole pouted and looked up at him.

"But you're out here too."

"Yes, but daddy's allowed to be here. And besides, who's gonna protect mommy if you're out here too?" He asked his daughter, and he saw a small smile tugging at her lips at the supposed duty he had just given her. If it helped keep her inside from now on, he was fine with having to explain himself to his wife when Nicole started acting all heroic-like around the house.

Another thunderclap had Nicole jumping again, and she whined as she held onto her father tightly. "I'm scared."

"Don't be, Nikki. The thunder won't hurt us. I promise." The former archer said, giving his daughter a reassuring smile. Nicole looked up again, glaring at her father.

"Mommy always says not to make promises you can't keep." She stated, scolding her father. Clint sighed internally. Nicole was really too smart for her own good, sometimes.

"But I can keep this promise." He argued, grinning a little. He'd reached the house now, so it was just a matter of dropping Nicole off with Laura and then he could go back to chopping wood. Back to his therapy.

"Really?" Nicole wondered, skeptical. Clint nodded, before setting Nicole down on the porch, sitting on one knee to be able to look at her as they finished up their conversation.

"Yes, I have a friend who can control thunder." Clint reassured her. "He won't let it hurt us." He promised again, looking up as the door opened and Laura smiled at the two. She'd likely been looking for Nicole. Their daughter had a tendency to try and sneak out, after all. Especially when Clint was out and told her to stay inside.

"Where is your friend?" Nicole asked, curiosity clear in her voice. Clint looked to the side, averting the gazes of both his wife and his daughter.

"He's not here anymore." He answered his daughter. "He went away before you were born, Nikki." He added, attempting to rearrange her hair again.

The gesture was met with a glare, though she didn't push his hands away this time. Smiling, Clint looked up at his wife, whom he found peering at something in the distance. Before he had a chance to follow her gaze though, he heard his daughter gasp.

"What's that?" The seven year-old asked, pointing at the sky. Turning around and looking up, Clint had no trouble finding what his wife and daughter had noticed.

The figure of a rather bulky person could be seen amidst the stormy skies, and though it was far away, for Clint, there was no mistaking who it was. His sharp eyes instantly noticed the silhouette of the large hammer, the curves of the helmet, odd movements of that curved cape, the soft glow of those long golden locks… what the hell was he doing here? Oh, wait, that was a stupid question. It was that time of the year again, after all. He was always here these weeks. To remember the ones who'd fallen. He was likely the only who still cared so much.

"Daddy? What is that?" Nicole asked again, this time with a hint of fear in her voice. Seeing her father zone out like that must have been unnerving for the girl.

"Just a ghost from the past, Nikki." He answered, before starting to usher Nicole inside. Laura gave him a knowing glance before following Nicole inside. She didn't know much about his past, but over the years, she'd seen and heard enough to have suspicions.

Clint had a feeling she would have questions for him sooner rather than later. An he doubted he could keep the answers to himself any longer. Sighing, he began to take off his raincoat, deciding to follow his daughter and wife inside. He looked at the figure in the sky one last time, and a lightning bolt lighting up the sky revealed that the God of Thunder was actually facing toward him. He was likely looking right at the former archer. Clint stared at his former teammate a little longer, before turning his back to him and moving inside his home. He and Thor had never been too close anyway.

"Yeah, just a ghost from the past." He said again, not sure if he was trying to convince the world, or himself.


Hello people of the good life!

You seem to have stumbled upon my very first story since my rebirth, of sorts. As you should be pretty aware of by now, this is an Avengers fic set in a future without the Avengers. As you should also be aware of right about now, the world kind of went to hell without the Avengers.

Enough reason for S.H.I.E.L.D. to start looking for individuals who might have it in them to become Avengers. And guess what? You get to make said individuals, because this is a SYOC story! The form for making and submitting a character can be found on my profile.

For now, the new team will have either five or six members, more might join as the story progresses. As for the canon characters, most of them will be based on their Avengers: EMH versions, because that show was awesome, and there are too many of these fics based on the MCU already.

The deadline will be August 20th, 2018. I may extend the time if I don't get enough (suitable) submissions.

Also, the second half of this prologue is really just there for fun, as I thought it was fun to write, and it allowed for a little bit of world-building. Clint's daughter, Nicole, is an OC of a friend of mine, Little Red Riding Brat. I aged Nicole down a ton for this story, but who cares, because she's only going to have a teeny-tiny role anyway. After all, she'd only a part of Hawkeye's supporting cast, and I'm not even sure yet whether I want Hawkeye in this story! So a big thank you goes to Little Red Riding Brat for allowing me to use Nicole. The prologue would have been a whole lot shorter without her. And a lot less interesting, in my opinion.

Anyway, I'm not going to waste more of your time. See you some other time, folks!

RULES FOR SUBMISSION:

1. Be detailed! If you want your character to be accepted into the story, I will need to know as much about your OC as possible. I can't write a character I don't know!

2. Send in your submission through PMs only! I will not accept OCs from reviews! You may ask me as many questions as you want, but you may only submit 2 characters. When you send in a character, label the PM as AVENGERS: HNG – [Your OC's Full Name]

3. If the form is too big to fit in one message – and it likely will be – it's okay to break it up in sections and send them in separately, but make sure to use the same PM thread!

4. I am allowed to change your character any way I wish. After all, I'm the one writing the story. If you have a problem with that, don't submit. Usually when I wish to change things, it concerns small changes, and I will always try to contact you first.

5. Be realistic and descriptive.I also don't want to be guessing too much about your character, so I expect at least a small paragraph for things like personality, appearance, and background. You might need more for powers/abilities as well. However, don't feel the need to spend a ton of time on the form; I don't need a list of twenty something hobbies - I may not use them anyway.

6. HAVE FUN! I know all these rules make me seem strict, but it's for the benefit of the story! I'm here to have fun with this fic, just like you! So have fun creating a character, and don't hesitate to ask for help or advice if you need it. I'm happy to help you out, I promise!