Fireangel76

My Writtings

Month: January 2016

At the Gates

Loki looked attentively at the base entrance; he could see some transports and troops deployed in the field surrounded by the rock formation he was hiding in. The dense jungle vegetation protected him from any unwelcomed eyes. He had been there for a long time; enough to notice that most of the officers were members of Hydra, their arrogant ways betrayed them. Okanjo´s army was composed mostly of young people of not more than 30 years, probably even younger. The discipline with which they followed orders and their almost mechanical movements surprised him; even Asgardian soldiers didn´t showed that level of discipline at such a young age.

Something was wrong; Okanjo should´ve recruited them a very early age to get that kind of result was his first thought; although according to the reports Okanjo hadn´t been in power long enough, he must have cut some corners somehow. Then it occurred him, the only way he could´ve manage to create this kind of army in such a little time was if most if not all of his army was composed of brainwashed super soldiers. It was unlikely that they were all volunteers; he must have forcible recruited them. That could work either in their favor or against them.

Suddenly he remembered the mission directives, no prisoners, no witnesses; he sighed annoyed. If someone had told him over a year ago he would be having second thoughts about killing he would´ve laughed in their faces, but too many things had happened; he wasn´t the same man he once was.

He cursed both Doom and Fury under his breath; if it wasn´t for them he wouldn´t be in such a position. He knew he didn´t had a choice, not if he wanted Fury to fulfill his promises; he would have to do whatever it took to accomplish their mission successfully even if he despised himself for doing it.

“How did this happen?” He questioned himself mentally. “When did I became so soft? I would have had a problem killing them all if I hadn’t met her. Is this really what I want? To be like … Thor? To strive to do the right thing? Is she really worth it?” He immediately answered his own question vehemently. “Yes, she is.”

With that final thought he discarded his reserves about the mission and resumed his surveillance; it was just one mission, the only mission of this sort he would embark on ever again. “What had she said to Doom? Oh, yes, that she would forfeit her soul for our sakes, it seems it´s my turn to make good on her word.” He sighed decided, he couldn´t lose her, he knew the price when he accepted the mission.

He needed to gather more information, walking undetected to the base wasn´t a problem; he could just shapeshift into a soldier and mingle in. What worried him was how to move inside the compound without restrictions and not raise any suspicions. He would have to get a closer look; he needed to understand their enemies better, learn about their ranks, uniforms, rules and procedures if he was going to successfully infiltrate them. Becoming invisible was an attractive option, but although he could hide without a problem of the security cameras; doors opening by themselves would certainly call someone´s attention. No, a simpler solution would be best.

He teleported from his current position to only a few meters from their perimeter where he could observe them closely. After thoroughly learning the uniform differences between ranks and many other useful facts he shifted into a young soldier; he contemplated for a moment his current darker skin and uniform. “This should do just fine.” He thought pleased by the result. “Now let´s find out how far can I go into this rabbit´s hole.” He waited for the perfect opportunity and joined a column of soldiers that were returning to the base after their watch had ended.

Once inside he noticed Fury´s assumptions had been right; the first level was the transports hangar. He could see tanks, trucks, jeeps and even some small airplanes and helicopters lined around. “No sign of the armory yet” He thought as he slyly memorized every detail. “It must be on the next level.”

A couple of hours later he returned to their base.

“Where have you been? And why did you turn your communicator off?” Was Fury´s irritated greeting.

“I went to see if your intel was right.” Loki answered unconcerned.

“I thought we agreed that Chameleon would do that.” Fury scolded him coldly as he crossed his arms.

“I decided I wanted to see the place for myself.” Loki told him with a smirk as he added. “You´ll thanks me when I teleport us safely in.”

“You said you could do that successfully without even knowing the place.” Fury sternly answered while looking him in the eye.

“I could, but why risk it?” Loki just brushed off Fury´s comment as if it wasn’t important.

“What do you mean risk it?” Fury asked a mix of anger and concern in his voice.

Loki frowned annoyed; why was Fury interrogating him? He would make sure they get the mission done; what did it matter if he had gone by himself? No one had noticed him.

“Don´t worry about it, as I just said there´s no risk now. No one suspected anything and either way two pair of eyes are better than one.” Telling him that there was always the risk of teleporting in the middle of a crowded room instead of an isolated hallway didn´t seem like a good idea.

Fury grunted annoyed. “Loki might be right. We need all the information we can get.” He thought to himself. “All right; I´ll let it slide … for now. Tell me what you got.”

It wasn’t long before Chameleon returned to the base too; between his information and Loki´s they had enough information to understand what they were up against.

The compound was 9 levels deep, the first level was the transportation hangar; the armory and the mining equipment was on the next level. The 3rd and 4th levels were living quarters of the army as well as the kitchen and mess hall. The following level was shared by Okanjo and Hydra´s officers; they had learned that the Hydra leader was Deiter Eberstark. Levels 6 and 7 were the shooting and training facilities and probably also the seat of their super-soldier program. Levels eight and nine were the labs; strictly off-limits unless you had a special identification badge which unlocked the elevator and allowed you to descend to those levels. The last level was the entrance to the mine shaft; the mine had its own elevator and could only be reached from the second level.

“Wouldn´t it be better if we created a diversion and get everyone out of the way?” Loki suddenly asked Fury once they were alone; Fury looked up at him surprised by his suggestion. “That way it would be easier to break in.” Loki added quickly.

“You know our orders Loki.” Fury responded sternly.

“You gave the orders; you can change them.” Loki volunteered.

Fury stared at him for a moment. “All right. Let´s say we do that. Then, what am I supposed to do with hundreds of enemy super-soldiers running around? He asked him defiantly. “Wait until something goes wrong?”

“Many of them are barely in … their teens.” Loki elaborated; it didn’t hurt to try to change his mind.

“I already know that Loki!” Fury acknowledged displeased. “It doesn´t matter. Okanjo and Hydra have molded them to serve their twisted purposes; there´s no turning back for them. We simply can´t afford such assets to fall into the wrong hands. I might not like it either but it´s necessary.”

“But …” Loki tried to protest.

“I said no; if you have a problem with that you can go back right now.” Fury menaced him angered.

Loki clenched his jaw angry at Fury´s negative and answered between his teeth. “I don’t. I just think it is a waste.”

I´m sorry

Leah´s and Tony´s argument worried Steve; after some consideration he decided to try to talk to Tony again. It didn´t took him long to find him; he was in the communication room working busily while he ended his second bottle of vodka.

“Tony, what are you doing?” Steve asked worryingly eyeing the empty bottles.

“What does it looks like I´m doing? I´m working!” Tony spat annoyed.

“You know that´s not what I meant.” Steve told him sternly.

“As soon as Loki returns I´m out of here; I don´t want to leave any loose ends.” He replied dryly as he kept working in some wires.

“Tony, you don´t need to do that! I´m certain Leah will apologise to you about this morning. Just give her a chance; she´s having a bad day …” Steve tried to reassure Tony who just kept working as he wryly answered. “Well, I´m having a bad life. I don’t care.”

“Tony I know she hurt you, but you can´t do that. Think about how Leah will feel if you leave.” Steve kept trying to reason with him.

“I don´t know and I don´t care. She made it very clear. I´m done worrying about her.” He furiously glared at Steve.

“But Tony …” Steve started to say when Tony interrupted him.

“I don’t care Steve. Beat it! I´m working.” Tony growled.

Steve sighed disappointed and told Tony before he left. “Just make sure you won´t regret it later.”

“Regret it later? Regret it later!” Tony mumble between his teeth. “The only thing I regret is getting caught in this mess.”

Leah didn’t have a hard time looking for Tony either after her session with Andrew ended.

Tony had piled three empty bottles by the time she arrived to the communications room. As Leah walked in she looked nervously at the bottles. “Oh God! He´s really angry. Dammit Leah! You just couldn´t keep your mouth shut.”

She swallowed hard before frightfully calling his attention. “Tony?”

“So you finally came!” He spat slyly. “Save it! I don´t care.”

“But Tony, I’m sorry …” Leah nervously told him as she clutched her hands.

“I don’t care how sorry you are! I´m not forgiving you this time.” Tony yelled at her spitefully. “I´m done playing this game!”

Leah looked at him hurtfully and gingerly volunteered. “I know I deserve your anger; but please Tony listen to me.”

“Why on hell would I do that?” Tony spat enraged. “So you can tell me again how sorry you are until the next time you conveniently forget and do some stupid bullshit again. No, Leah; if the other´s put up with your crap that´s their problem; I´m done with you.”

“Tony please. I didn´t meant it. I just was so angry …” Leah pleaded anxiously.

“Why should I believe you?” Tony asked her wrathful.

“Because I’m telling you the truth!” Leah cried desperate.

“The truth?” Tony laughed wryly. “Like when you told us the truth about just wanting to take a stroll before you tried to escape? I should’ve learn my lesson then. No, I wouldn´t believe you even if you got Saint Rogers to vouch for you.”

“Please Tony, just give me a chance to explain.” She begged again; she was trying very hard not to cry. Even so, her eyes threatened to overflow with unshed tears.

“And for God´s sake don´t even start crying! The broken girl routine is getting old.” Tony harshly admonished her.

“But tony, please! Think of everything we´ve been through together …” Leah tried to appeal to Tony once more.

“I am.” Tony assure her. “I´m sick of your martyr routine too! Yes, Doom; you can rape me if you let Loki and my child go.” He mocked her merciless. “Who does that?” Tony ranted against her again.

“Tony!” Leah looked at him appalled. “Why …?”

“What?! Does the truth hurts?” Tony mocked her. “You can stop trying. As soon as Loki gets back I’m out of here. And then we won´t have to see each other ever again.”

Leah´s tears pour freely by now; she didn´t even though of defending herself against his accusations; she didn´t wanted to fight with him anymore. She bit her lower lip before gathering herself to tell him. “It doesn´t matter if you don’t believe me. I …am … sorry. You were the best friend I´ve ever had and I´m so sorry I hurt you. I … I will miss you!” Her voice broke; unable to stop the outpour of emotions she ran out of the room crying.

Tony just looked at her leave before resuming his work; after a couple of minutes the full realisation of what he had done settle in. As she stopped working he spat out loud. “Dammit Leah!” Next he rushed out to find her.

First he tried her room, next the interior garden; there was no sign of her in the nursery or the kitchen. He felt too guilty to ask the rest of the team to help him find her; suddenly he pass through one of the training rooms and thought he had heard her voice. As he peaked in he saw a shocking scene. Leah kept ranting against herself while she punched the sandbag placed in the back of the room with all her strength; sand was pouring out through a dozen holes. But what made him open his mouth horrified was the blood smeared all over the bag; the same blood that dripped down from Leah´s knuckles into her arms and clothes. After his initial shock Tony was able to make out Leah’s words between her sobs. “Stop doing everything wrong … stop being so stupid … stop failing every time … you´re doing it wrong … you´re doing it wrong … can´t you do anything right? The accident … your escape … Doom … Loki …. Tony … Thor … stop doing everything wrong … “ She kept repeating the same words over and over in the same cycle as she bawled her hear out completely unaware of Tony´s presence, venting all her anger in every single blow; she didn´t even acknowledge the pain in her bloody hands anymore. She kept playing everything in her mind again and again; she needed to get things right, she couldn´t afford to keep failing … she just couldn´t.

Tony was taken back by the heart-breaking scene; seeing all the pain reflected on Leah´s face made his heart cringe. Swiftly he walked behind her and in one swift move embraced her while pulling her away from the punching bag.

“Leah stop! Please … stop.” He pleaded with tears in his eyes.

Leah looked back at him astonished before wailing. “Tony, I’m sorry! I´ll get things right, I promise. I promise … I won’t screw up anymore. Please, I’m sorry.” She kept crying with her head bowed down. “I´m sorry, I’m sorry!” She was sniffling so hard she was shaking.

“I know, I know, i´m sorry. I shouldn´t have said those things to you. Please stop crying.” He held her tight against his chest leaning his head into hers. For a couple of minutes they didn’t said a word comforted by each other´s presence. It was Leah who broke the silence as she leaned her head to look at his face; with great effort she managed to tell him before starting to sob again. “You are all my family.”

Tony´s eyes watered again after hearing her confession; he turned her to face him so he could embrace her, resting her head in his chest he told her. “And you are ours.”

“I´m sorry.” She said once more.

“Shhh, it´s all right. It´s al right.” He rocked her against his chest for a while until she stopped crying. Suddenly he sighed as he told her in a joking tone. “If I didn’t know better I would swear we are related. We sure know how to make a mess.”

Leah couldn´t help to laugh. She looked up at him as she answered. “Yes, we do.”

“Let me take a look at your hands.” He told her next trying to hide the concern in his voice.

Leah felt like a child about to get a scolding and shyly lift her hands for him to see with a worried expression in her face she realised how bad they look.

Tony sighed disapprovingly as she examined them. “We are going to need Bruce to take a look at this.”

“But …” Leah pouted with a pleading expression in her face.

“Sorry love; not this time. We need a doctor.” Tony told her firmly.

When they found Bruce Tony approached him; Leah stood nervously behind him hiding her hands which Tony had provisionally bandaged with a piece of his own shirt.

“Bruce, before you start nagging us … we know; we are a couple of fools, but …” He pulled Leah in front of him showing Bruce her injured hands. “We need you to take a look at these.”

“So Andrew, what do you think?” Bruce asked him as they watched through the glass at Leah and Tony chatting animatedly.

Andrew stared at the pair teasingly joking with each other. “She´s going to be all right Bruce. I think we can relax now.”

“But Andrew; she just managed to break four metacarpals not to mention the damage she inflicted on her knuckles. Without the nanobots it will take her a week or more to heal …”

“Bruce …” Andrew interrupted all the time keeping his eyes on Leah and tony. “What do you see?”

Bruce looked up. “They are fooling around.” He finally suggested.

“Yes.” Andrew smiled. “When was the last time you saw her that relaxed?”

Bruce considered his answer for a while before admitting. “When her child was born.”

“So, you would say she looks happy, am I right?” Andrew asked him.

“I guess so.” Bruce reluctantly volunteered.

“Whatever happened it looks like it might have been worth a couple of broken bones.” Andrew suggested kindly.

Bruce looked at them attentively before acknowledging “Maybe … are you going to talk to her?”

“I you allow it I would like to.” Andrew admitted.

Meanwhile inside the room Tony teased Leah about her new splints. “Even with your healing factor you won´t be able to get rid of them before Loki arrives. I would hate to be you when he sees them.”

Leah pouted, she knew she wouldn´t heard the end of it if she had to explain o Loki how she managed to break two fingers of each hand. “You´re supposed to cheer me up, not get me down. What kind of friend are you?”

“The one that puts up with you.” Tony jokingly answered. “And …baby. You´re going to get it!” He nodded his head negatively faking a concerned look.

Leah pouted even more. “That´s not fair. It isn´t all my fault!”

“You´re the one that decided to knock the hell of the punching bag … so it is your fault.” Tony told her with irony.

Leah whined. “Can you make some nanobots to fix my bones? Please Tony…”

“I don’t know.” Tony told her. “What´s in it for me?”

“My eternal gratitude.” Leah suggested hopefully.

“Mmm… I don´t know.” Tony kept teasing her.

“Come on Tony, you´re so smart … I´m sure you could make some with your eyes closed.” Leah compliment him trying to get him to help her.

“Maybe if you compliment my skills again.” Tony joked.

Leah sighed amused. “All right…. Tony …”

Tony hurried to suggest her. “Please help me …”

“Please help me …” Leah repeated.

“Cause you are the only one smart enough.” Tony continued.

“Cause you are the only one smart enough.” Leah repeated.

“And also handsome and great …” Tony added.

Leah whined annoyed. “Tony! Are you going to help me or not?”

“I´ll do my best girl” He finally agreed. “But remember I can´t make you any promises; most of my equipment is in the tower.”

“Thank you.” Leah smiled him with a smile.

They were just changing the subject when Andrew walked in.

Leah´s first thought was “I´m screwed.”

“Tony, could you give Leah and me a minute?” He nicely asked.

Tony looked at Leah´s guilty expression and considered it for a while before acceding.

“I´m out of the rescue team.” Leah plainly volunteered before Andrew said a word.

“Actually not, you´re still in.” Andrew told her with a smile. “Strictly off field till you are healed, but you can still lead the team.”

“But… why? “Leah asked intrigued before adding “I broke my hands.”

“Yes, you did. But I have a feeling you will manage one way or the other. “Andrew volunteered.

Leah expression changed to a thankful one. “I … thank you.” She hugged Andrew warmly.

Hanging on

“No.” Leah whispered agitated in her dream waking up Tony who drowsily complained. “What …?”

“Shh…” Thor shushed him, he had noticed her restlessness too. “she´s dreaming.”

Tony looked at Leah´s concerned expression and replied quietly with a frown. “No, she’s´ having a nightmare.”

Leah whined softly as she tossed in her dream.

“Shouldn´t we wake her up?” Tony asked anxiously.

“I don´t think so.” Thor volunteered in a low tone.

Tony pouted slightly unconvinced of letting the nightmare to continue and turned left to gently shook Bruce who was still asleep.

“Mmm? What…?” Bruce frowned about being abruptly woken up.

“Bruce, should you wake up someone who´s having a nightmare?” Tony asked without waiting for Bruce to be fully awaken.

“Should you … what?” Bruce asked as he yawned.

“Leah´s having a nightmare.” Thor explained. “should we wake her up?”

Bruce sat up as he took a glimpse at Leah who had curled up while mumbling something he couldn´t quiet discern. He scratched his head for a moment before answering. “No, not unless it gets worst.”

“Worst how?” Tony asked impatiently.

“Only if she starts screaming or if there was a risk of her hurting herself or any of you.” Bruce elaborated.

“so we just watch and do nothing?” Tony angrily huffed.

“It might fade by itself.” Bruce suggested in hope.

“what´s happening?” Steve drowsily asked as he stretched beside Thor; he had heard something going on.

“Leah´s havinga nightmare.” Thor explained again.

“Is it bad?” Steve asked concerned.

“Do you know any good nightmares?” Tony asked in irony.

“No.” Leah said softly.

“Did she just answered us?” Bruce asked intrigued.

“I don´t know; she might have.” Tony answered confused. “Are you sure we can´t wake her up?”

“No, Tony; we shouldn´t. You would startle her.” Bruce asseverated.

“I´m sure that´s not a good idea.” Natasha volunteered, both her and Clint had also woken up at the sound of their voices.

“Go back to sleep.” Clint complained while hoping the nightmare would stop by itself.

Suddenly Leah sat up startled by something im her dream, her breathing was ragged, her eyes were unfocused and misty.

Tony leaned to hold her shoulder as he asked. “Leah, are you ok?”

Leah looked at him confused for a moment, suddenly she noticed everyone staring at her; with a big frustrated sigh she buried her head between her hands, her long hair hid the rest of her face. “It´s just a nightmare.” She plainly told them. “Why now? Couldn´t it waited until I was alone? The look on their faces …” She complained mentally. “They think … I´m broken, and why shouldn´t they? Maybe I need to accept I’m never going to be all right ever again.” Regardless of her thoughts she told them. “I´m fine.”

“Are you sure?” Tony asked again as he gently placed his hand over her back.

His touch made Leah snap annoyed. “I said I was fine.” For a second he glared at him angrily before closing her eyes as she sighed with frustration. “I´m sorry. I´m fine.” The moment she opened her eyes she asked. “What time is it?”

“Around eight.” Clint answered drowsily; he had turned his back to the whole scene and was lazily hugging the pillow.

“I´d better take a shower before Eerika wakes up.” She volunteered; without giving them any time she jumped out of the bed and walked to the dressing room. No one spoke again until they heard the sound of running water.

“She´s … angry.” Tony told them bemused.

“Of course she is, you all just had to stare at her.” Clint complained angrily.

“And you weren´t?” Tony asked incredulous.

“Of course I was, I just wasn´t that obvious.” He answered as he sat up. “How would you feel if you were in her place?”

“Angry.” Bruce suggested. “Clint is right; we all need to stop treating her as an accident waiting to happen.”

“But …” Tony began to say when Bruce interrupted him.

“Just think about it Tony; we all have been treating her as you treated me the first time we met on board of the hellicarrier. Take my word on it, it´s frustarting.” Bruce confessed.

“I guess you are right.” Steve volunteered next. “We need to start trusting she will get through this.”

“It’s hard to trust yourself when no one else does.” Natasha added in a pensive tone.

Tony huffed, he knew they were all right but he didn’t felt comfortable with the idea. “so what? We leave her alone?” He asked vexed.

“No.” Thor answered. “We just give her some space. She will ask for our help should she need it.”

As they kept discussing the matter a complete different scene was taking place in the bathroom.

Leah had turned on the shower and crumbled under it; she hadn´t even bothered on removing her clothes.

“I´m never going to make it.” She repeated to herself mentally as she silently cried under the spray of the shower; the cold water hit her merciless but she didn´t cared. She just sat there shivering; at least the cold distracted her from the pain she felt in her chest. After a while of debating with herself she whispered. “They can´t know.” Trembling she closed the shower faucet. “Maybe If I´m convincing enough I can fool myself.” She wryly reasoned as she removed her clothes.

“Do you think she´s all right?” Tony asked worryingly. “She´s been there for a while.”

“Tony … for love´s sake; let her be!” Natasha admonished harshly.

“But …” Tony started to complain when Leah walked out of the dressing room; she had changed into a pullover and jeans. She hadn´t even dried her hair in her hurry to get out; despite her best efforts to hide it the redness in her eyes betrayed her; she had been crying.

“I´m going to check on Eerika.” She informed them sternly before walking out of the room. She felt too angry and embarrassed to be amongst them.

Thor sighed concerned, but knew she would need some space before calming down. He already had made the mistake of overburden her once.

Before anyone could prevent it Tony rushed out to follow her; she was a couple of steps from the nursery when he managed to grab her arm. “Wait! Leah!”

“What, Tony?! What?!” She asked trying unsuccessfully to hide her anger.

“Are you all right?” He asked again ignoring her tone.

“I already told you I am. What else do you want from me? Why won´t you leave me alone?” She growled defiantly. “I don’t need you to watch over me, I don´t need any of you to watch over me. We are not related; we are not family, you are not my brother; stop acting as you fucking were. “

Tony was unprepared for her reaction; as he opened his mouth to say something Leah just snapped. “You know what? I don´t have time for this. Stop following me! And get this through that thick skull of yours I want you to leave me alone!” With that she rushed into the nursery leaving tony alone in the hallway.

“I´m sure she didn´t meant any of that.” Steve said to Tony trying to comfort him. “Just let her calm down.”

Tony expression changed from hurt to angry. “She´s right! Why should I care? After all we are not family, she´s not my sister.” He huffed angrily before turning walking back to his room.

Steve watched him with a concern look on his face before walking back to Leah´s room. Everyone had overheard Leah´s and Tony´s argument and were lost in their own thoughts.

Steve sighed before telling them. “I think we should fix her room up before we leave. And … we should give her some space; at least for a while.”

They all agreed quietly.

When Leah closed the nursery door behind her she leaned her back into it as ash let herself slide down. “What´s wrong with me?” She asked herself before answering with irony. “As if you didn’t know …” Eerika´s cry pull her out of her thoughts; as she cleaned her tears with her sleeve she answered in a soft voice “I´m here.”

She stayed in the nursery until it was time for her session with Andrew; she really didn’t wanted to see anyone but knew that if she skipped a session Fury may had left instructions to leave her out of the rescue mission; and she couldn’t let that happen. Clint would surely check on Eerika as he did every time she went to her sessions. Unwillingly she walked into the studio where Andrew was already waiting for her.

Andrew watched her attentively as she sat in; it was obvious something was wrong. “How are we doing this morning?” He asked in a casual tone.

Leah looked at him annoyed. “As fine as I can be.” She spat angrily.

“That´s not true.” Andrew volunteered.

“So?” Leah answered back irritated.

“I thought we had already agreed that you wouldn’t lie to me.” Andrew admonished her.

“What does it matter? I´m never going to get any better than this. I might as well accept it” Leah huffed vexed.

“What happened?” Andrew asked her calmly.

“I decided I should just accept it; everyone keeps looking at me as if I were broken. They can´t all be wrong, then why keep on trying?” She volunteered as angry tears threatened to pour out.

“What happened?” Andrew asked again in a firmer tone.

“What do you think?” Leah wryly asked. “I did what I do best, a mess.”

“Ok, tell me …” Andrew told her sternly.

Reluctantly Leah told him about the incident; as she ended she added. “See? I´m hopeless; you should all just stop wasting your time. It´s pointless.”

Andrew frowned while watching her attentively; she had hit rock bottom; either she snapped out of it or she would drown in self-pity.

“I see.” He told her calmly. “It´s a good thing then that Fury let to me the final decision about you joining the rescue team.”

Leah looked at him panicky. “No, you can’t. I have to be on it.”

“Why? According to what you have just told me, you wouldn´t bring anything positive to the team. Loki will be better off without you.” He told her harshly.

“No, please! You can´t! Fury promised …” Leah pleaded anguished.

“You really don´t think I would let you lead a team, do you? You would most probably get everyone killed including Loki.” Andrew told her slyly.

“I …” Leah didn´t knew what to answer to that; thick tears rolled from her eyes. What if he was right? She thought before breaking down crying; what if he was right?

“He´s not.” A small voice in her interior told her but she refused to believe it.

“I´m sorry Leah.” Andrew added. “But there´s no way that I can in good conscious let you participate even less lead the rescue mission. I think you are right; you were broken even before Doom crushed you. For a moment I too deceived myself thinking you might pull through but as you so clearly pointed out there´s no hope you will. If I were you I might even consider leaving Loki in case he does comes back. You will only be a burden to him; to him and to your child.” With that last comment he stood up. As he was walking to the door a voice stopped him.

“No.”

“Excuse me?” Andrew asked as if he hadn’t heard her; all the time hoping that all that reverse psychology act had finally got through her.

“I said no.” She replied in a more confident tone.

“No … what?” Andrew asked as he turned to face her.

“I´m not a burden.” She told him sternly; she had stood up and was staring at him with her fists clenched. “I´m not a burden.” She repeated. “It doesn´t matter if you add me or not to the rescue team. Loki is smart, he will succeed and in the rare case he doesn´t I have friends that will help me get him back. Even if I´ve been horrible to them I know they will forgive me and they will help me.” Tears kept flowing from her eyes as she told him. “I´m not broken. I will pull myself together one way or the other, they need me … and I won´t let them down. Not any more … I won´t.

Andrew walked back to her with a serious expression on his face, Leah looked at him intrigued; unexpectedly he hugged her. “I believe you, I always did. I´m glad you finally were able to figure it out.”

Leah looked at him confused. “But …” She started to say when Andrew interrupted her. “You didn´t gave me much choice, did you?”

Leah realised what he had done. “You didn’t mean any of it.”

“Not a word.” Andrew confessed with a smirk.

“You tricked me!” Leah complained.

“That, I did.” Andrew acknowledged. “Sometimes the end does justify the means.”

“But … but …” Leah studded uncertain if what to say. “What now?” she finally asked.

“I would suggest you to go look for Tony and apologise.” He offered with a smile. “I think we can call it a day; it was a good session. We can continue this tomorrow.”

“Ok.” Leah agreed a bit unsure; he was right she needed to find Tony and somehow apologize for all the stupid things she had said.

What do we know?

Loki went through the plan in his mind as he prepared for disembarking, it was more like a sketch of a plan which trouble him the most; they would have to gather more information before being ready to attack.

“So, you are telling me that you really don’t have reliable intel about this base?” Loki spat bewildered as Fury first explained him the situation.

“Regretfully no, I don´t. There wasn´t enough time to infiltrate someone.” Fury admitted.

“How do you even expect us to prepare for this mission then?” Loki asked irritated as he crossed his arms over his chest.

“Well … that´s where Chameleon will come in handy. We´ll need him to corroborate or disprove all the information we have at this moment.” Fury volunteered.

“I like this mission less by the minute.” Loki complained.

“Let´s concentrate on what we have and work it out from there.” Fury suggested sternly.

“All right.” Loki agreed reluctantly with a big sigh. “What do we know?”

“The vibranium mine is 2.4 km deep, the base was built over it; so if we take other Hydra bases as reference there should be only a small number of levels over the mine shaft.” Fury explained him.

“What do you suggest we do about that? Vibranium is practically indestructible.” Loki asked with a concern look on his face; this mission was going to be one of the hardest ones he had ever been on.

“You are right; we can´t destroy it. We´ll just have to content with collapsing the mine… and the base.” Fury agreed, at least they would buy time for coming up with a more permanent solution.

“That´s only a momentary solution; nothing will stop them from reconstructing it again. Especially with Hydra behind them; in a couple of months they will be mining again.” Loki pointed out.

“Do you have a better idea?! Fury spat angered, he also preferred a permanent solution but couldn´t find one.

“Not yet.” Loki admitted. “But there´s another problem; I don´t know if you have considered that the real reason Doom agreed to participate in this mission is to get his hands on some of that vibranium for himself. The rumour says it can amplify mystical powers.”

“Actually I have.” Fury admitted, Doom had been too easy to recruit. “We can´t let him get anywhere near that mine.”

Loki looked at him sarcastically. “How do you propose we do that while we fight an entire base? We simply can´t keep an eye on him at all times.”

“That´s why I´ve been thinking we should split into two teams; the first one will be in charge of sealing the base and preventing anyone from leaving as well as start the cleanup.“ After making sure Loki was listening attentively; Fury continued. “If I were them I would have the vehicle hangar on the first floor; and the armory either on the same level or the next one. There must be two or three levels for the chemical and biological labs which should be on the lower levels, that way they would have a chance to evacuate in case of a spill. Between those levels should be the living and training quarters. Doom, Venom, Octopus, Mysterio and Rhino should be on that first team.”

“Sounds good, but how will you guarantee Doom won´t just abandon the mission and try to seize some vibranium?” Loki interrupted him.

“We won´t have too, Dr. Octopus will take care of that.” Fury revealed.

“Why would he do that?” Loki asked intrigued.

“Because if he does I´ll get him something even better than money.” Fury smirked.

“Better than money?” Loki thought to himself. “And what can that be?” He asked Fury out loud.

“Our Doctor is dying.” Fury simply stated. “His body has sustained too many injuries over the years and is failing; but I promised him we would use every available technology to save him if he … helps us keep an eye on Doom.”

Loki looked at him surprised, he had negotiated every payment except for that one.

“Don´t worry, we´ll deliver on our word.” Fury reassured him. “I already have a team working on that.”

“All right.” Loki finally said. “Any more secret deals I should know about?”

“None that should concern you.” Fury dryly told him.

“As you like.” Loki conceded slightly annoyed.

“On the second team should be Chameleon, Electro, Sandman, you and me. We´ll be in charge of neutralizing the weapons in the labs and setting up the explosives to collapse the mine.” Fury explained over some diagrams he had sketched on the screen.

“I´m guessing you don´t want to risk any quemical or biological spill, even if that could do the cleanup … faster.” Loki volunteer.

“You´re right. Besides the point that not all of us are immune to earth diseases like you there´s the matter of the vibranium, it´s highly mutagenic so I´d rather not spill god knows what around.”

“Known one at least.” Loki added. “You are right; we have no idea what have they been playing with in those labs. But I´m sure you know that incineration alone might not destroy all the threats.”

“I know, but we hardly will have time to neutralize them one by one.” Fury acknowledged grimly.

“Maybe we can.” Loki told him pensively, they would need to have more information to come up with an effective plan.

“We´re five minutes from the drop point Sir.” Melinda informed Fury.

“All right people, get ready to jump.” Fury told to no one in particular.

Loki and Doom eyes each other zealously, as the rest of their team mates put on their parachutes.

“I´m not wearing that.” Loki pointed to the backpack Sandman was offering him. “I have my own means of getting there.” He added with a smirk.

Doom had also refused to wear a parachute; his suit had minor flying capabilities.

Fury gave some final instructions to Agent May before finishing strapping his own parachute.

The back door opened and a strong cold wind flooded the inside of the Quinjet; Fury yelled. “Remember you have a tracking device in your equipment; should you get separated during the landing it will guide you back to the drop point.”

The first to jump was Chameleon, followed by an overly enthusiastic Venom and theatrical Mysterio. Sandman was amongst the last to jump; he had to be pushed out of the aircraft by Fury when he failed to jump by himself. Loki simply teleported to the drop point after Fury jumped. Doom had left the aircraft moments before Sandman did.

Loki watched as some grey spots slowly descended into the jungle. The first one to arrive was Chameleon, he glided into the drop point; it was safe to admit he had done it before.

The rest for the team except for Fury weren´t that skilled and ended up somewhere in the jungle. Doom landed a few seconds before Fury did. The last one to arrive was Rhino who have had some trouble figuring the tracking device operation.

After everyone had arrived they travelled by foot a couple of miles till their provisional base.

In the morning Chameleon left early to infiltrate the enemies base; he had been equipped with all sort of interesting gadgets from SHIELD´s scientists that would allow him to find any vulnerabilities in the base and exploit them.

Loki watched him worryingly as he walked away; the reconnaissance mission would take at least a day. “How will Leah be doing?” He thought to himself allowing the thought linger for a while before grunting displeased; he couldn´t scry fop her to find out.

“I´ll better do some reconnaissance myself.”

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