Author's note: I apologize in advance to any hardcore Marvel fans out there, but I've only seen the movies, so I'm basing the universe this fic takes place in off of the Marvel Cinematic universe, though I have done a little research into the comics. I hope you like it. Please let me know if you have any suggestions. The events of this story are set to take place at roughly the same time as those in Captain America: Winter Soldier. In my mind I have cast Nathan Fillion as Dr. Franklin Hall.
I own nothing but my OCs.
Chapter 1: The Big Bang
April 2014The Reynoldston Research Facility44.7431° N, 74.4496° W
Agent Clint Barton had to stifle a yawn. Here he was, infiltrating a private research center located just a few miles away from Reynoldston, New York, in the northern foothills of the Adirondack Mountains, which had been founded with the goal of creating new tech to help mankind in the event of another alien invasion, as one of the facility's many security guards, but he just couldn't find it in himself to get nearly half as excited as the group of scientists he was watching from above. The teleporting device they were working on was cool and all, but it felt like Fury had sort of just dumped him here to keep him busy. Things just hadn't been the same since Loki used the 'glow stick of destiny' to turn him into his personal flying monkey three years ago. They finally let him have a decent vacation after one of the agency's shrinks diagnosed him with PTSD (being possessed by a god will do that to you), but even after he was cleared to work again, Clint could tell Fury was avoiding sending him into potentially volatile situations. He might not have minded so much if it didn't mean that he was stuck here, babysitting a bunch of scientists, while Natasha got to go on all the fun missions with Cap. Normally it should have been the other way around, since she was a spy and he was a soldier…Clint's internal rant came to a halt when he spotted that one of the people he was supposed to be watching was staring up at him from the ground floor. The girl with blonde and pink hair smiled and gave him a friendly little wave. He smiled a little wryly as he waved back at the quirky intern from Louisiana, Alex Starr. Even though she was just an intern, he had taken special notice of her after she had surprised him by correctly guessing that he had received some form of military training (S.H.I.E.L.D.) and had seen some action after just one short elevator ride together. Even though she always seemed to be either joking around with her fellow interns or trolling Dr. Hall, the genius in charge of this particular project, Alex was very sharp, perceptive, and a hard worker. When the other interns left to grab a beer after hours, she would stay behind and double-check all their calculations and the data they collected with her mentor, Dr. Rousseau, the project's leading astrophysicist. He heard Robert Rousseau had been called in after Erik Selvig and Jane Foster both declined their invitations to come here to stay in England and study the after effects of the spatial anomalies that took place when Thor saved the world from that WoW reject. Well, that was one thing Clint could be thankful for; whatever his problems, at least he hadn't gone the same route as Dr. Selvig, who cracked and let himself caught running around without his pants by a news crew. Clint watched as one Alex's friends tapped her on the shoulder, and she turned back to face them.
"Who are you waving at?" Aaron Abrams, another intern, asked curiously.
"My elevator buddy." Alex replied matter-of-factly.
"Elevator buddy?" Aaron asked again, raising an eyebrow.
"She told us about him weeks ago, remember?" Avani Narang, the last member of what the older scientists often referred to as the 'AAA alliance', reminded him. "They take the elevator together because they usually leave at about the same time."
"Right, because Alex is a workaholic." Aaron said with a teasing smirk.
"Well, someone has to cover for your error-making butt." Alex retorted dryly. "How did you even manage to graduate from Culver without learning how to calculate a reduced Planck constant?"
"Yeah, that's basic quantum mechanics." Avani chimed in, looking extremely unimpressed. As an applied physics major, that was her bread and butter.
"Quantum mechanics isn't my specialty, okay!? I'm an astrophysicist!" He reminded them for the hundredth time.
"So am I." Alex reminded him.
"But you're different, Alex." Avani said, crossing her arms. "We all know Rousseau brought you in with him because you're ten times better than that dinky little BAAS you have."
"Most people don't have a brain that works at the speed of light." Aaron added with a sigh, ruffling his hair as he reined in his temper.
"You're exaggerating." Alex told him with a casual wave of her hand to dismiss the notion. "I'll settle for the speed of a particle collider."
"Everyone, quiet!" Dr. Rousseau said loudly, getting everyone's attention. "Everyone to your stations. We're about to begin."
A hush fell over the room as the scientists all sat down in front of a computer, leaving the interns to watch from the back, as an image of Hall came into view on the main monitor's screen. He was standing in front of the massive teleportation device that he and everyone in assembled below had all been working on for the past year. Because of the potential risks involved should something go wrong, it had been decided the actual device would be built and experimented on in a shielded lab that was in another part of the building. Only Dr. Hall and Dr. Winters, his acting assistant, would be allowed to remain in the lab for this part. The rest of their team would monitor his progress and record all data collected during the experiment remotely from this room. For now they just wanted to see if they could transport a physical object from one side of the room to another. They could work on increasing the distance later, once they knew whether or not it actually worked.
"I have just finished some last minute recalibrations and am ready to begin." Hall announced for their benefit as he placed the grapefruit they had decided to use in order to test the teleporter's affects on living tissue on platform A. If the fruit remained unharmed, they would move on to mice next. "Activating in three… two… one…" Hall carefully began sliding the lever that was supposed to build more power for the teleporter to rip open a small wormhole between platforms A and B.
Alex glanced up at the ceiling as the lights dimmed in the room they were in. With the amount of power they were drawing on, she wouldn't be surprised if all the lights in upstate New York had been affected.
"Ah, this is so cool!" Aaron whispered excitedly, practically squealing like a fan girl in his excitement. "Like something out of Star Trek!"
"If this is Star Trek, then does that make Dr. Hall and Dr. Rousseau Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock?" Avani asked, biting her nails nervously out of habit. She just hoped the damn thing wasn't going to explode or something and end up creating a gravitational singularity, which wasn't entirely an impossibility since they were basically ripping a hole in the fabric of space and time to do this…
"Personality-wise, I'd have to say Rousseau is more of a 'Kirk' than Hall. Hall is more like Spock with that cold logic and antisocial personality of his." Aaron remarked with a quiet laugh. Dr. Hall was not an easy man to get along with.
"I think Hall strikes me more as a Khan." Alex said thoughtfully. There was something about him that made her uncomfortable. He reminded her of that line from Anger Management: 'There are two kinds of angry people in this world: explosive and implosive. Explosive is the kind of individual you see screaming at the cashier for not taking their coupons. Implosive is the cashier who remains quiet day after day and finally shoots everyone in the store.' Hall was the cashier. He looked down on everyone and seemed to take it as a personal offense if someone said something he deemed 'unintelligent'. But this holier-than-thou attitude was why she had started making a game of trolling him to pass the time. He was gonna judge her anyway, so why not at least get a little fun out of it? It was worth it to see the look on his face on the occasions when she managed to really get him. Frankly, she was surprised he hadn't kicked her off the project. She knew probably had Rousseau to thank for that.
"Whoaaa!" They all gasped in amazement as they watched a glowing vortex begin to form on platform A over the grapefruit.
"It… It's actually working…" Avani said, stunned.
"!" Alex started when she noticed something strange on the live feed from the lab. There was a strange, blue glow of energy beginning to form across the ceiling of the lab. "Doc!" She shouted to get Rousseau's attention, pointing up at the screen.
Rousseau's eyes widened when he saw what had alarmed her. The pattern of movement was similar to St. Elmo's fire. That shouldn't be happening! If the plasma came in contact with the teleporter—
"—Shut it down!" Rousseau shouted nervously over the intercom to Hall. "Shut it down now, Frank!"
There was no reply. Just static.
"I don't think he can hear us!" One of the other scientists spoke up. "The radiation levels in the lab just spiked!" Even the picture on the monitor was starting to show some interference.
"Then use the landline!" Rousseau barked.
"There's no phone in that lab!"
"If he doesn't shut it down in time, it's gonna blow!" Alex said lowly, clenching her jaw, before immediately turning on her heel and dashing from the room.
Clint stood up as her friends called after her. She wouldn't…
Alex sprinted down the hall to the lab as fast as her feet could carry her. She slid the keycard she had 'borrowed' from Hall a few days prior into the scanner and shoved open the door without hesitation.
"Sh—" Before she could even get the words out, the plasma made contact with the teleporter, and the wormhole collapsed in on itself briefly before exploding in a blinding wave of energy that sent her flying back out the room with enough force to send her sliding across the floor of the hallway a quarter of the way back to the control room. Alex groaned in pain as she tried to lift herself up off the floor, only to fall. Everything around her sounded muffled except for the high-pitched whining sound ringing in her ears. Her head was killing her, and her vision was blurred. She knew there were people running towards her, but she couldn't see their faces. She blinked a couple of times, trying to focus as she felt someone kneel down and start examining her.
"Hey! Stay with me, Starr." Clint said urgently, checking her for signs of concussion, as her two friends and Rousseau came running up behind him.
"Alex!" Rousseau shouted with concern, while Avani gasped when they saw her on the floor.
"Oh my God! Is she all right!?" Aaron asked anxiously.
"She's a little concussed, but she'll live." Clint announced.
"She's also a little hot." Rousseau added.
"Now is not the time to get all creepy and hit on your undergrad!" Aaron snapped at the older man.
" 'Hot' as in radioactive, genius." Avani deadpanned, pointing to the device Rousseau had in his hand for measuring different types of radiation. "Is it bad?"
"The readings indicate she was hit by some kind of gravitational wave with some high-level cosmic rays mixed in. Nothing deadly, but prolonged exposure has been known to result in physical and psychological damage. She's lucky she wasn't exposed to them for very long." Rousseau explained while Clint reported the incident so they could get a containment team and a medic in.
"Hall and Winters—They're still in there!" Alex coughed weakly, feeling winded.
"In there?" Rousseau asked, furrowing his brow. "Alex, if they were in there when the teleporter blew, they—"
"I was in there too." She said urgently. "The explosion threw me back. If he ducked behind the control panel, he could still…"
"What are the radiation levels in the room like?" Clint asked Rousseau. "Can you tell from out here?"
"I can tell you that you should wait for the containment team to get here, Smith." Rousseau said, scanning the outside of the door. It must have been slammed shut by the explosion. "The radiation levels are much stronger inside the room. I can't advise going in without a suit." He backed up to stand a safer distance away. "I hate to say it, but Dr. Hall and Winters will have to wait."