Put to the Test
"Avengers," Fury said one morning at breakfast.
As soon as he said that, I zoned out: I only ate with them because Clint was there. Otherwise, I'd be in my room. So, whenever Fury said that one word, I knew it wasn't meant for me.
"You have a mission," Fury continued. "We've gotten reports on children disappearing." At that, I started to half-listen: I had gone back to the shelter one day on freetime and found that they were still gone. "We have some leads and we want you to report in on it."
"Give us the location and we'll start," Tony said.
"I'm not done," Fury said. "I want Agent Rose Barton to join you." He looked at me as I perked up, everyone else following his gaze.
It seemed that only my brother was the happy one.
"Are you sure?" I asked hesitantly. "After all, only last night I passed the first simulation without needing to go in multiple times."
"You will know the area better than any of the others," Fury said. "Keep your bracelet on and you'll be fine. This should be nothing too intense."
I nodded slowly. "A-alright," I said. "I'll do my best."
"That's all I ask," Fury replied as he walked out of the room.
I looked at the other Avengers for their reaction. Clint had a supportive smile on his face. Natasha had a half-smirk, which, knowing her for so long, meant a silent "good job." Bruce looked a bit unsure. Thor was uninterested. Tony took a great interest in his cup of coffee, but I could see he wasn't too thrilled about the idea of having me tag along. And Steve seemed to be doing his best to not look too annoyed, but failing horribly.
I looked down at my food again, an uneasy feeling in my stomach.
Would they accept me? Actually listen to me if need be? Would they trust me in this mission? And more importantly, could I trust them? Natasha and Clint, I could, but the others?
After I finished eating, Clint and Natasha took me away from the others.
"Nervous, Kid?" Natasha asked as we walked to my room.
"The others, they don't trust me, do they?" I replied, twisting my bracelet around my wrist. A nervous habit.
"They just haven't seen how you've grown," Clint said. "Show them what you can do, Magemancer."
"What?" I said.
"You need a code name, superhero name," Natasha said. "Don't you like Magemancer?"
"No, I do," I said quickly. "I just wasn't expecting it."
"Now that we got your name, we're going to get you your uniform," Clint said. "After all, you've gotta have a suit."
"What do you have in mind?" I said, looking from Clint's suit to Natasha's.
"Something that gives you mobility, even when you shapeshift," Clint said. "I know you don't like skirts, so pants and long sleeves. A belt that'll also help you control your abilities should you lose your bracelet for whatever reason."
I nodded, liking the idea already.
We reached my room and Clint stayed outside while Natasha and I looked through my closet that I barely touched once I arrived.
"You've never looked through this?" she asked as I picked out a suit.
I shook my head as I looked at it, examining it with a critical eye. "Not a lot. Never thought I would have to look past the training clothes, actually," I replied. "My powers were too unstable when I got here that I thought being in the Avengers would be ruled out."
"Well, look at where you got in two months," Natasha said. "Just wait and see how two more months will help." She looked at the suit I was still examining. "Well just staring at it won't do anything. Try it on. I'll continue looking through here." She turned back to the closet as I went to go change into the suit.
It was skin-tight yet still gave me the mobility I needed. I looked at myself in the mirror. It was mostly black with white lines goes down my sides.
I did a small frown. "Hmm, black just isn't my color," I mumbled. I look at my hands. "If I can fight bad guys, then surely I can change the color of a simple outfit." I waved my hand over the suit and it changed to the colors of my liking.
Instead of the black, it was a dark blue and instead of white it was gold. There was a small fire logo on my left side and it was bigger on my back.
I nodded. "This is better," I said. "Now a belt." I walked back into the room. "Think I'm ready to fight crime, Nat?"
Natasha looked over at me, casting an eye up and down my body. She smiled. "Definitely. And good color choice. The weapon's unit, our next stop, will have your belt ready."
We walked out of the room to where Clint was waiting.
"Perfect," Clint said. "Come on. Next stop, get your weapons for the field."
"So there's different kinds?" I said as we walked.
"Not really, but it just puts a finishing touch that'll make enemies think twice before fighting us," Natasha said.
We reached the weapon's unit and the three of us went in.
There was my own locker that had my name on it.
"You're one of us now," Natasha said as he walked to hers.
"And you'll be a good addition," Clint added as he went to his.
I stepped up to mine, running a hand over the engraving of my name. A small smile crossed my face. "Let's do this," I said as I opened my locker.
Inside was my weapons along with a belt. It was the same dark blue color with gold trimming. On the center buckle was the same fire logo as on my suit, the gold making it shine in the light. There were also fingerless gloves, the back of the hands having the fire logo in gold while everything else was the dark blue color.
I grabbed the belt and buckled it, gasping as I felt a surge of energy race through me. It made me feel alive, energy dancing through my body from my toes, up my spine, into my fingertips, and to the very ends of my hair. I slipped the gloves onto my hands and secured them, followed by the weapons.
"It's go time," Clint said as he closed his locker.
"I'm ready for anything," Natasha said as she closed hers.
"Keep up," I said, closing mine.
We looked at each other and smiled, nodding.
Time to get the work done.
"Empty, like the last time I checked," I said as the other Avengers and I came upon the shelter that I had called home for many years. "Spread out and search. Even if something looks like trash, chances are, it's not. If you find anything, let me know."
The others obeyed without disagreement, knowing that in this instance, I knew what was best for the team.
We each searched different sections but turned up empty-handed until Thor called out, "I have found something!"
I reached him first and found him picking up a gold necklace. He gave it to me as I examined it closely. As the others came, I said softly, "Chain appears broken by it being sliced through. This belong to one of the younger ones. Birthday present from his mother before she died in a car crash. He'd never take it off unless forced to." I paused as I used magic for a closer analysis of the break. "There's a substance on this. If we find out what it is, it should be a clue to where we're going."
"I'll take it to S.H.I.E.L.D. for examination," Tony said. I put it into his hand and he flew off quickly.
"Anything else?" I asked, addressing the others.
They shook their heads.
"When you were last here, did you search every place?" Steve said.
I shook my head. "Not my place," I said. "Assumed there was nothing there because I would've noticed."
"Then check there," Natasha suggested. "You never know."
I nodded and walked to my makeshift room, a hay mattress and a box full of old and worn-up clothes.
But, on the ground near the bed was a puddle of slime.
"Going to need this for analysis," Clint said as he pulled out a vial and carefully got some slime inside it, stoppering it.
I looked up as I hear a noise: a child screaming. I cast an eye in the direction I heard it from.
"Rose?" Bruce said."Everything ok?"
I didn't reply, only run in the direction I heard the scream.
"Rose!" Clint called as he chased after me.
"Oh great," Steve mumbled as the others followed us.
I darted into an alleyway and found a girl laying on the ground, unconscious. "Clare," I whispered as I went to her side, shaking her gently. "Clary, Clarissa, wake up."
Clare slowly opened her eyes. "Rosalina?" she said softly as she looked at me. "You look different."
"I am a bit," I said as I helped her sit up. I motioned to Clint to keep the others away while I talked to her.
Clint went back to the others, giving me and Clare space.
"What happened?" Clare said. "You disappeared one day. Never came back."
"I should ask you the same thing," I replied. "Everyone was gone."
"Some people came in, took us all away," Clare said. "We didn't have a chance to fight back."
"How did you escape?" I questioned.
Clare shook her head. "I don't know," she answered. "There were these...thing around us and I fought them. Next thing you know, I'm waking up here."
"What did they look like?" I said.
"My memory is fuzzy on what they look like," Clare said. "I'm sorry."
"No, it's fine," I said. "I know you can't answer everything. It's just making it harder for my mission."
"Mission?" Clare said. "Rose, where did you go? What happened? Why didn't you come back?"
"I'm an Avenger now," I said after a pause. "I'm helping save the world. And today we got a mission to investigate the disappearances of kids."
"I'll help as best I can, but right now, I need to rest," Clare said. "I think I got hurt in that fight. My leg."
"Alright, come on, I'll help you up," I said as I got to my feet, putting one of Clare's arms around my shoulders.
Together, we walked to where the others were waiting. They turned as we came into view.
"What's the status?" Steve asked as Clint helped me with Clare, though we said we didn't have to.
"She needs to rest before she can give us accurate information," I said.
"Guys, there's something big heading your way," Tony said in our earpieces. "I'm getting there as quickly as I can."
"Rose, Clint, get Clare to a safe place. Protect her," Steve said, taking over the leadership role. "The rest of us will fight whatever it is."
We both nodded and helped Clare get away from the others, going to the shelter. We sat her down where she had her bed and got on either side of her, an arrow on our bowstrings, looking identical except for our outfits.
"Keep alert," Clint said softly.
I only nodded as I looked around. "What could it be? Something that abducts children? Is this the start of some mass casualty that we're going to need to be on the lookout for?"
I heard a box fall and without thinking, I released an arrow as the noise.
A robot fell to the ground.
"Guys, we got incoming here," Clint said into the earpiece as we both started to fight the robots that charged at us.
"Heading your way!" Thor said.
"Clint, there's too many!" I reported as the robots inched closer.
"Use your powers, Magemancer!" Clint replied. "We've been training you for a reason!"
I nodded and froze time. I placed a hand on Clint's shoulder so that he could move and we started to attack the robots, trimming down the numbers before time began to move again. It was only a few seconds, but those few seconds were crucial in our survival.
Then I sent plasma balls out at a good portion of the robots, causing them to break.
By the time the other Avengers showed up, we had taken down a good portion of the robots, but more still came.
"Clare, are these what you saw?" I asked, seeing her panicked face.
"Yes! These!" she cried, looking around.
"Keep calm," I said. "Everything will be fine. Trust me. We'll protect you."
Missiles came at us but I threw up a protective shield, the missiles hitting that. I brought the wall down and charged into the robots, knife in one hand and my gun in the other.
"She's getting much more skilled," Tony said as he blasted a group of robots.
"And if you guys weren't so hard on her while she trained with you, she would be much better," Clint said. "She has to ask me about stuff nearly every night."
More missiles came but I sent them back, causing more robots to break.
Suddenly, the smaller robots began to flee.
We all looked at each other, unsure why they're leaving, but alert for a bigger threat.
The ground shook as we heard footsteps pounding on the street.
I stepped back between Clint and Natasha as the ground shook again, already forming a plasma ball.
"Careful you don't overdo it your first time," Natasha warned.
"I know," I said. "Last bit of magic for a bit."
"Whatever it is, make it big," Clint suggested as a bunch of large robots came into view.
I released the plasma ball at the first one, it being charged up enough to smash the robot to smithereens.
The other Avengers charged forward but I decided to hang back next to Clare in case they tried get her while our backs were turned.
While I was focused on one fight, I didn't notice something come flying at me and smash into me, sending me flying into a fall and hitting it harshly.
"Rose!" Clare cried as I crumbled to the ground, forcing myself to a knee.
"Clare, run!" I exclaimed as robots swarmed behind her.
She turned and stepped back, trying to run but they overwhelmed her.
"Let her go!" I growled, turning into a lion. I pounced on a group of them and chased them away as Clare got behind me. I stayed low to the ground, watching all of them closely.
The robots got their missiles ready to fire and I froze time long enough to turn human and put up a poorly-made shield. I turned to Clare and pulled her into a protective embrace as the robots open-fired, breaking the shield and striking me.
My vision got blurry as I heard Clint call my name.
I collapsed, barely seeing Clint and Natasha engaging the robots in combat.
Then I passed out.