"Boss...Agent Hill, please, no..."
"Oh, I've had fantasies about holding a gun to your head, Ross... " Maria Hill, one of S.H.I.E.L.D''s finest agents, gripped her assistant mercilessly by the collar, teeth flashing in a murder's grin.
"All you underling interns need a lesson in discipline."
"And this underling?" purred a voice from the darkness. Before Hill could register who spoke, Darcy Lewis stepped out from the shadows and raised her pistol. Hill pulled her gun, but Darcy was faster, firing three rounds into her superior's chest. Hill staggered backward, gasping for breath, wiping the crayola red stains from her uniform.
She dropped her gun, recoiling in pain as she slumped away into the darkness. Darcy looked over at Ross, then both their eyes darted towards Hill's discarded weapon.
"Kick it to me." Darcy commanded, watching Ross shake in fear. He reached for Hill's gun.
"I said kick-HEY." Darcy readied her pistol as Ross stroked the barrel of his new weapon.
"C'mon, Darce. Can't you leave this with me? I'm defenseless out here..."
Darcy glared, drawing a bead on her colleague.
"I thought we were friends, Darce..." Ross whimpered. "We played galaga together..."
"That was a game." Darcy spat, turning to walk away. In the silence that followed, Ross aimed his gun at her back. Hearing the click of his safety, Darcy spun on her heel and aimed at Ross' head.
"This is paintball."
"All warfare is based on deception" Darcy muttered, thumbing through a monolithic stack of flashcards. The sky was clearer than Desmond Tutu's conscience, and the grass felt softer than a shag carpet. A gorgeous day she couldn't enjoy because she was stuck studying at a S.H.I.E.L.D company picnic.
She could have killed Jane, who darted off to New Mexico with Thor a week prior, leaving Darcy to represent them among the suits and agents. In addition, she was scraping towards the finish line of her bachelors degree, and she had nine thousand words on Sun Tsu due Monday. More than a year had passed since the Tesseract incident. Well, less incident, more apocalyptic nightmare of death. Construction crews still flooded Midtown, cleaning debris from the Chitauri attack. Jane moved their entire operation to New York, and thus Darcy followed. Where else would she go? Her entire life was in that Puente Antigua lab. Well, not anymore. She was officially a S.H.I.E.L.D grunt now.
Sick of reading her notes, she peered over the thick frames of her glasses to observe agents in their natural habitat. Clint and Natasha were swapping war stories with Fury, while Tony unveiled an entire wallet full of fresh baby pictures to Steve and Agent Hill. Pepper was with them too, and Darcy refused to believe that Pepper was still that thin and poised after delivering a baby four weeks ago. A few of her fellow S.H.I.E.L.D interns were clustered together by the refreshment table, looking weary.
"Still wrapped in your studies, I see..." hummed a familiar voice in Darcy's ear. Loki had seated himself next to Darcy under her tree of choice.
"Careful, if you are too distracted, I just might reap some havoc upon these unsuspecting -UUUUNGH. Curses, child, I was only joking! Must you use that at every-"
"It's my job," sighed Darcy absentmindedly, spinning her taser in one hand, furiously scribbling an outline with the other. "To 'monitor and rehabilitate the external threat, at the request of both S.H.I.E.L.D and Asgard, throughout the duration of his exile from his homeland.' That's what my file says, anyway, and pays for my crap apartment. Would you rather be stuck with Thor and Jane in New Mexico?"
Loki grimaced at the thought. His seven month punishment from Odin had been pure anguish, but now he was stranded with limited powers on Midgard, the realm that wanted his head on a platter. A cherry atop a sundae of cruel and unusual punishment.
Darcy turned back to her cards, scowling at the endless blanket of white rectangles and notebooks at her lap.
She darted down the hallways, firing at everyone who stood in her way, dodging paint left and right. She swiftly ducked behind a familiar corner and barricaded herself in Selvig's office, swapping the ammo pack from Hill's gun with her own. She couldn't lose. The prize was too valuable.
Her thoughts of victory were cut short by the percussion of boots behind her. Darcy drew her gun and pointed it at none other than Clint Barton, who was helping himself to her emergency cliff bar.
"I heard a rumor you don't shoot the unarmed..."
"Yeah, well take another bite and I'll my tune."
"Well, it's a good thing I'm armed, then..." Clint smirked, aiming a shotgun at Darcy's stomach.
After a few seconds of silence, the two holstered their weapons.
"Tony wants to see you," Clint began.
"Yeah? Well, Jagger once said-"
"C'mon, Darce. Can't hurt to hear the guy out?"
Darcy folded her arms and glared at Barton, remembering her reading:
"We cannot enter into alliances until we are acquainted with the designs of our neighbors."
"We've got a good hiding spot near the conference room. As safe as you are here, you'll be safer with us. Besides, Hill might shoot you down for real knowing you let Loki out of your sight."
"Hill went down an hour ago. I kind of shot her in the chest. Repeatedly."
"Wait, seriously? Damn, girl."
Darcy mused on his proposal. It couldn't hurt to have Hawkeye, the man who never misses, on her side. At the same time, she would be walking into a room with multiple master assassins ready to paint her like a mural.
She hoped Loki was behaving himself.
"So where is the little monster?" Steve asked Pepper, noticing the Stark family was missing a member.
"He's with Bruce back at the penthouse. Bruce didn't want to come, and I didn't necessarily want Howie around all these new people. He's barely a month-"
Pepper was cut off by the static of a microphone, followed by Fury's voice.
"Thank you all for coming. Now, I bet many of you are wondering why S.H.I.E.L.D is sponsoring this event, as we aren't the most touchy-feely organization in the world."
Darcy's ears perked. She'd been curious since the e-vite.
"The council asked me to run our employees through a training exercise. The lesson is survival."
Everyone looked at each other, knowing full well what survival meant at S.H.I.E.L.D.
"We are providing you with special issue non-lethal projectile weapons, loaded with a polymer based fluid..."
"PAINTBALL?!" shouted Tony. "Seriously? You're pitting a league of master assassins and soldiers against each other in PAINTBALL?"
"Essentially, yes." began Fury, his good eye glaring at Stark. "After the events in New York last year, we all need a lesson in the judgement of our peers..." he continued. Selvig and Clint flashed each other a sympathetic look, knowing full well the inspiration behind this little exercise.
"Wait, hold it." Agent Hill interjected. "We're not obligated to participate, and a surprise test of this caliber doesn't exist in S.H.I.E.L.D's bylaws. What makes you think we're all going to shoot each other like a violent Holi festival?"
Fury stared daggers at his right hand woman.
"I'm getting to that, Agent Hill. No, this is not required, but there is a prize to the last man standing: One-Hundred Thousand Dollars. Cash."
Everyone was silent, including Darcy. One hundred THOUSAND DOLLARS? Student loans, gone. Apartment, paid off. Credit card debt, a non issue. iPod, replaced. She knew she wasn't the only intern with these thoughts, and certainly not the only agent. Steve talked about raising money to help the failing Stork Club, and Clint let it slip he wanted to find an engagement ring for Natasha.
"There are a few rules!" Fury shouted, silencing the murmurs of the crowd.
"First, the only weapons permitted are the ones provided. No one is to be killed during the exercise. Second, you get paint on you, you're out! No exceptions. Agent Ross, if you will"
Darcy spotted Greg Ross, Maria Hill's cute assistant, pulling a sheet off a massive table of paintball guns. The minute the sheet cleared the table, everyone clamored violently to grab a weapon. Darcy lurched from under the tree, sending flashcards fluttering in all directions, when Loki held her back and presented her with two green pistols and an ammo belt.
"For you, milady."
"How did you...?"
"Magic, my dear."
Darcy knew she should have tased him for using magic, a violation of his exile, but the glorious thought of one hundred THOUSAND FUCKING DOLLARS overwhelmed her judgment like tequila.
"Stay. Here." She growled.
"Oh, I have no intention of leaving now. This promises to be most entertaining." Loki purred, sprawling in the grass like a panther. "What is your Midgardian saying? 'Let the games begin?'"
"Thanks, man. Seriously though, don't move, or I'll put you on the first flight to New Mexico." Darcy said, planting a small kiss of gratitude on his cheek before charging into the fray, guns blazing.
"Well, this shall be most entertaining."
So, this fic is an homage to NBC's Community season 2 finale, but there will be original story aspects as well! Also, the italicized quotes are all from "The Art of War" by Sun Tsu. Should update semi-regularly. I'm kind of in computer-purgatory, but hopefully that will be resolved soon. Please keep reading! This is the first *fanfiction* I've written in a long time, but I do write quite often. I hope you like it! Love, DC.