At 20, Melinda May becomes Agent Melinda May of S.H.I.E.L.D. She spends around a month doing grunt work at the Slingshot - standard procedure for most new recruits while the powers that be try and determine where they fit best within the organization. Some of them go straight to the field. Some of them are stuck behind the same desk for years.
May has no intention being trapped within a bureaucratic fortress of paperwork and obscurity. And she's certain it won't happen anyway. All through basic training May could hear the instructors talk about her combat skills. Her parents had sent her to martial arts lessons since she was nine, "just for recreation". They never expected her to rise through the ranks so quickly. During training May went undefeated in every single sparring match. Of course, she also trained herself to be a crack shot and aced very driving exam they had, but it was in close combat that she truly shined.
So when the order came down from that she was to join a recon team to locate the source of a bizarre energy signature in Hamburg, she knew she was only just getting started.
At 25, Melinda May was gaining a reputation for herself. Most of her colleagues thought of her as more of a soldier than a secret agent, but May took it as a compliment.
She had saved lives. That was the reason she'd joined S.H.I.E.L.D. in the first place, and two years in she had lived up to her own expectations. Her team always felt confident going in with her by there side, because they knew she had their backs. But when some of them called her "brutal", that was what she did take offense to. May was no weapon, she was a person. Her opponents might be injured, but she never took pride in the fact. The defense of self and others; that was what she had been taught since a child.
When each department was picking the best agents to meet the new commander, May knew she was going to be chosen. When Commander Fury shook her hand, he spoke to her.
"I hear you're quite the asset on the field. Is it true you're able to handle anything thrown at you?"
May smiled. "Of course sir. I haven't been beaten yet."
Commander Fury grinned in response. "Well, let's hope it stays that way."
At 27, Agent Melinda May stands in the ring once more. Agent Coulson is facing across from her. His belt is black, just like hers, but he's got two degrees on her. The two bow to each other, and assume their starting positions. The sensei gives the go ahead and the two begin.
Coulson tries to strike first, but May is faster and deflects the blow, creating an opening. She goes in for a kick, but Coulson grabs her leg and tries to flip her. She uses the momentum to strike at his face as her other leg spins upwards. Point May.
In the second round, May is able to get the advantage, throwing several jabs at Coulson. He's able to block them - barely. She see's him shift his weight and jumps just as he tries to sweep her legs, and while he's distracted she strikes at his shoulders, then his head. Point May.
In the third round, they both lunge at the other. Each fist is shifted out of the way to make rom for another. He tries to kick her. She strikes it out of the way. She tries to hit him in the gut. He shifts backwards, and she comes up just short. Her momentum is thrown off and she starts to lean towards him off balance. He sees his opening and jabs at her head. Before he knows it she's dropped down, spun 180 degrees, and thrust her leg directly into his chest. Coulson grunts in surprise. Point May.
At the end of the night Coulson has one degree on her.
At 30, Agent Melinda May is called into a meeting with Agent Coulson, Commander Fury, and an older woman she doesn't recognize
"You wanted to see me sir?" May asks upon entering. Fury motions for her to sit and she does.
"Tell me what you know about the Super Soldier Program" Fury asks her. May doesn't know what it has to do with her, or anything for that matter, but she knows to always answer when the Commander gives you a question.
"It was developed during the second world war by Doctor Erskine. He first tested it on members of the Nazi party, but after defecting to America he held a successful trial with Captain Rogers - shortly before the doctor's death. The formula was lost, and after his final mission Captain Rogers was as well." May noticed the older woman grimace slightly at the mention of Captain America's death, but continued. "The project and the Scientific Strategic Reserve were the impetus for the creation of S.H.I.E.L.D."
Fury nods, and turns to the woman. "Agent Carter?"
The woman hands May a file with the word 'CLASSIFIED: LEVEL 5' stamped all over it. May opens it as Agent Carter begins speaking.
"We recently found and raided an old Hydra base. They'd managed to get ahold of Erskine's later notes somehow, which includes the formula for the serum. We've never been able to reverse-engineer it from the small amount of tissue we have of St - of Captain Rogers, but we did do tests on the formula we created and found it to be a match."
May nods as she skims the file, seeing each note agree with what Carter had said. "You plan on reinstating the Super Soldier Program."
"And we want you to be the first subject." May turns to Coulson in surprise as he continues. "You score great in every field, you have unprecedented combat and espionage skills, and let's face it: everybody who works here loves you."
"I - I'm flattered, but I'm not sure -"
"I handpicked you as the first subject" Agent Carter interrupted. "I was there when Rogers went through the procedure, and I can tell that you have the same spirit he does. Would you disagree?"
Agent May shakes her head. "Not at all, ma'am."
At 32, Agent Melinda May can barely hear herself think. There are alarms blaring all around her, and the smoke his making it hard to see. but it doesn't sting her eyes - it's just a distraction, nothing more.
May grabs a fallen girder and wrenches it aside. It's taken this long for her to get used to her own strength, but it's never let her down before. A fallen agent lies at her feet, but as far as May can tell he's only been knocked unconscious. She lifts him up and drags him to the nearby escape pod. A rookie agent - May thinks his name is Burton - is standing in their with a look of panic.
"We have to go Agent May!" the boy calls out. May shakes her head.
"There are probably other survivors out there, and I need to make sure whoever attacked us isn't hacking into our database while we're crashing!" She doesn't wait for him to reply, since she knows he's not going anywhere. That's fine - she has time to grab stragglers and insure the safety of S.H.I.E.L.D. files before the Helicarrier drops into the Pacific.
The debris in the corridors doesn't bother her at all. Her eyes are peeled for anyone in S.H.I.E.L.D. gear, but when she finally does spot one it's not the way she was hoping - the girl is hiding behind a sputtering console clutching a rifle while the hostiles are taking shots at her from elsewhere in the cockpit. The agent sees May, but doesn't say a word. May holds a finger to her lips to ensure it stays that way, then silently draws her pistol.
She spins quickly form their point of view, but to her it's no faster than normal. She sees exactly where her bullet needs to go, and puts it there. Before the other enemies can react she's vaulting over the console. As soon as she lands she wastes no time with causing pain or distraction - May only deals out quick blows to pacify the hostiles, and soon there are none left to pacify.
May hear's the young agent mutter praise to Allah as she jogs over. "You came just in time! If it wasn't for you -"
May cuts her off. "Did you see any other survivors?" The younger agent shakes her head. "Good. Help me carry this guy out - we'll need to interrogate him."
The other junior agent freaks out when he sees Agent May dragging a man responsible for bombing a Helicarrier into the escape pod.
At 33, Agent Melinda May is rewarded her fourth degree black belt. Coulson jokingly tells her that she's "cheating".
At 35, Agent Melinda May has become "The Cavalry". She likes the title. A force of justice, racing towards where it is needed most, arriving before her allies are defeated and helping them gain back all the ground they had lost. It defines her.
As she races through the forests surrounding the foothills in the Rockies on her motorcycle, she can hear the sounds of gunfire draw closer. The firefight was expected when the first team had been dispatched, but nobody thought that whatever cult they were dealing with would have access to old Hydra tech. Agent May had been called in to terminate the threat.
Her muscles tense when she sees the clearing, and as soon as she sees an opponent she jumps and send both feet flying straight into his side. He goes down instantly, and she hears something crack. She stomps her boot just to be sure. The other five hostiles are now redirecting their fire towards her, but she's fast. Faster than anything they've ever dealt with. After all, Agent May is super human. She reaches the first one and slams her fist into her skull. Bits of white fly out. Four left. As he falls she snatches the gun out of her hand and fires two round into the kneecap of the next enemy. Three left. She ditches the weapon and grabs cover when they start shooting at her again, but before they know it she's back up again. One man points his gun at her, but she's close enough to grab onto his arm with both hands and snap the bones apart. He screams in pain, and May smiles because people don't scream like that if they still have fight left in them. Two left. One runs at May with a knife, while the other levels a semi-automatic at her. May grabs the knife out of her attacker's hand and rams it into his thigh, using him as a human shield. The other hostile didn't want to fire at their own teammate (not that May cared), and it gave the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent the opening she needed to tackle the two of them into the cliff face. It's enough force to pacify them both. Zero left.
She could see it now as the other agents came out of their covers. A little wary at first, but then most of them smiled and seemed to warm up to her. It was the look she always got after being a big damn hero, and she loved every minute of it.
She doesn't know why she vomits up blood later that night, but doesn't think anything of it.
At 37 Agent Melinda May receives her ninth degree black belt. It is a S.H.I.E.L.D. record. Agent Coulson still says that she's cheating. She doesn't think he's joking any more.
She still vomits blood after each mission, but she feels fine. She's scared that if she tells the medical staff that they'll try and reverse the effects of the serum.
She will never allow them to change her back to how she was before.
At 39, Agent Melinda May is engaged with approximately twenty hostiles in the middle of an abandoned village outside of Chernobyl. They're wearing bright yellow hazmat suits because, in this condition, who wouldn't. They've also been outfitted with the latest in Stark Weaponry, but ammunitions and artillery is nothing against the one woman army known to most government agencies simply as The Cavalry.
May doesn't keep count of how many she takes out. All she cares about is making them drop like the flies they are. If they're able to feel it as they go out then that's even better. Other agents would panic after being surrounded by so many opponents, but not The Cavalry. She is unstoppable.
Agent Barton is trying to say something to her through her earpiece, but May is too caught up in the rush to notice. A shattered pelvis. A dislocated shoulder. A split jaw. A bullet directly through one eardrum and out the opposite side. She's surrounded by bodies clad in yellow, and now they're coming in black. It's brutal - just the way she likes it.
Barton's voice is getting louder and more frantic, but it doesn't matter. Can't he see that she's doing what she's been trained to do? Neutralize the enemy. She snatches a gun out of the next hostile's hand and points it right in their face. The girl squeaks in terror.
Suddenly May realizes that she's surrounded by bodies clad in yellow and black. Black. The Russian terrorists weren't wearing black.
But her unit was.
The girl facing down the barrel of the pistol is the same one that she'd saved that day on the Helicarrier. She's crying. Not bawling, she's too frightened to make noise, but the tears streaming down her face show no signs of stopping.
Agent May drops the pistol in shock. She feels the familiar warm ooze of blood coming up her esophagus as she passes out.
At 40, Agent Melinda May is sitting behind a desk sorting through applications to S.H.I.E.L.D. basic training. It's the job she never wanted until recently. It's the job she never needed until recently.
Agent Carter retired from service a few years before after the onset of Alzheimer's, but in her lucid moments she discussed how the personality of the subject was effected by the serum, and vice versa. May's superiors had thought that she had the right personality type. Apparently they had made a mistake.
She does eventually stop vomiting. She never has to deal with anything close to the deformations some other test subjects had. There is no procedure to totally remove the serum from her system, but treatments are created to dampen most of the effects.
Most of the agents she had taken out eventually recover. Some don't. And those who do never want to work with her on another mission again. Because of security protocols, most agents outside of the incident itself never find out what exactly happened. Those with high levels only know that Agent May retired from field duty after an incident in Russia. On the lower levels, they don't even know that she is - was - The Cavalry.
She has trapped herself within a bureaucratic fortress of paperwork and obscurity. Sometimes she finds herself missing being out of the field, but then she sees the girl's face and reminds herself that she's in this cage for their own safety.
It's been 10 years, now, and Agent Melinda May hears that Agent Romanov is attempting to get her ninth degree black belt. She hopes that the girl succeeds - it would take focus off of her own record.
She almost never feels any of the effects of the serum, but there are times when she squeezes a little to tightly, or moves just a little too quickly - not enough to set off anybody's alarms except for her own.
She still misses it. She hear's Coulson is putting together a team and for a moment, one brief moment, she considers applying for it. Then she turns away. She knows she has to turn away.
A part of her knows all too well that he'll try and recruit her anyways.