Chapter 18

The Next Day

"She's good, Steve." Natasha repeated herself. Danielle sat on the edge of the bed of the guest room, watching the pair argue. "She got us out."

"She's not ready."

"Sure she is. She has superpowers." Natasha said. "Look, I understand your inherent need to protect whoever you care about-"

"Can you not be condescending right now?" he interrupted her.

"She was amazing, Steve!"

"I am aware of that. But this isn't...this is a different situation."

Danielle pulled her legs up underneath her, watching them go back and fourth. She finally cleared her throat.

"I'm going." she said. "I don't want you guys yanking eachother's hair out."

"What?" Steve said, looking at her with wide eyes. Natasha smiled smugly.

"I appreciate you defending me, though, really." Danielle said. "But I am definitely going."

"My work here is done." Natasha said, brushing past Steve and leaving the couple alone.

Steve sat beside her, his hand on his forehead. "Dani-"

"You don't need to keep trying to save me." she said gently. "And I want to be there with you. I can help you."

"I don't want to lose you."

"Steve. I am literally indestructible." she sighed.

"But what if you get shot in the head and can't heal?" he asked. "What then?"

"You won't let that happen." she said. "That's what that's for." she pointed at his shield, which sat in the corner of the room.

"And what if I get compromised?"

She waggled her fingers. "I have your back."

He sighed again. He took her face in his hands, kissing her, and then laughing slightly. "I'm going to have to get used to doing that." She knew she'd won him over.

"You most certainly are."

Natasha, Danielle, Clint, and Steve hailed a taxi, and took it to a location four blocks from SHIELD. They wore street clothes, jeans, hoodies, ball caps, tourist tshirts. Natasha wore a passable blonde wig, knowing her actual hair color would draw attention to them instantly. They walked down a side street, along some townhouses, passing groups of children playing, people sitting on their stoops smoking and talking.

As for Sam, he was already inside the building, disguised as a maintence man. Since he hadn't ever worked with SHIELD, there was no chance of anyone recognizing him, and his face had been covered when he broke through the Atrium the day before. Tony was laying in wait for the signal, with a couple automated sidekicks should they need some extra Iron Man power.

They reached the block with the building, and all ducked into a coffee house half a block away. They pretended to read the menu, but Steve leaned down to whisper in Danielle ear.

"Are you sure about this?"

"Too late for that now, sweetie." she smiled, talking through clenched teeth. "I'll see you inside."

She turned on her heel, leaving the coffee shop, nervously brushing her thumb across the gun in her pocket. It had a heavy silencer on it, but she still waited for a break in the crowd before ducking into a tiny alleyway and shooting herself in the side. She gasped, willing her own body to not heal. It took more concentration than she expected. She covered her stomach with the sweatshirt, tossing the gun down the alley. She rushed into the building, passing a scan card through one of the first turnstiles and trying to keep a low profile. She hurried to the elevator, and when the doors shut, she checked to make sure she was bleeding sufficiently.

She reached SHIELD's main level. She looked up at the glass of the atrium, which seemed to be already in the process of getting repaired. She hurried up the stairs to the lab offices, trying to not whimper from the pain.

She burst through the doors, crying.

"Help me!" she said desperately. The doctors looked instantly terrified to see her, but when they caught sight of her bleeding stomach, they rushed to help her. "Stark reversed the serum, he said it would be safer that way!" she sobbed as they laid her down on lab table.

"How did he do that?" the female doctor asked, and Jemenson shook his head.

"Natasha shot me when I tried to leave..." she said hysterically. "She told me I could trust her...I didn't know where else to go."

"We'll figure this out, Miss Shaprosa." Jemenson said, and she nodded, hiccuping.

Upstairs, in a computer hub, Sam, the maintenance man, inserted a flash drive into the main security processor. The program set to work instantly, Tony and Natasha had spent hours developing the algorithms the night before. Within 30 seconds, the whole floor was dark as far as security cameras, motion detectors, communications, and alarms.

Danielle saw the doctors look up as their computers went dark. They looked at her, realizing.

"Sorry." she whispered, her side stitching itself back together. She sat up, and again, rendered them unconscious. She wiped away her tears and hopped down, putting a finger to her ear.

"Sam?" she asked.

"Roger. Everything's in place. I'll meet you in the hallway. What's your guys' ETA?" he said over the earpieces.

"Under 2 minutes." Natasha replied.

Danielle pushed her way out of the lab. Two suit wearing agents caught sight of her, and instantly turned to run in the opposite direction. She knocked them down before they took two steps.

A door burst open. Out stepped a man, one of the men she recognized from the files. He glared at her, and she felt herself launched into the air, and bounced against the ceiling before she fell back down again. His head bulged, as if his actual brain had expanded with the serum.

"Telekinesis?" Sam shouted as he flew over her, his wings on his back. "You've got to be kidding me."

She tried to weaken the man from across the room, but it wasn't working. He began to launch huge chunks of wall - cement and plaster, at Sam, who was dodging them somewhat well for being in such a confined spot.

"The Soldiers are here." Danielle told the rest of the team. "Now would be an excellent time to get a move on."

As she said it, she watched Steve burst through the door. She pulled herself to her feet, running to the cart Sam had been pushing. She opened the bottom cabinet, and pulled out his Shield. She threw it towards him like a frisbee, and he caught it just in time to block a huge chunk of wall from crushing him. He rushed the man, but was instantly thrown back.

Danielle ran down the hall, sliding underneath another rock as it flew over her.

"What are you doing?" Cap shouted at her as she went directly for the man. She knew if she could get her hands on him, she might be able to weaken him.

She jumped at the wall behind him, using it to ricochet herself to his back. She pressed her hands firmly into his chest, focusing on breaking down his extraordinarily strong immune system. It worked, she pushed everything she could at him, every disease and various injury she could think of, and he slowly lowered to the floor, gasping for air as his body tried to heal itself.

She stood, pushing the stray hair that fell from her ponytail out of her face. Steve reached for her hand, and waved Sam towards the exit doors and into the atrium.

Danielle wondered to herself how many times they were going to fight within the immense bright room. Iron Man had finally made his appearance, and flew down to meet Steve at the balcony, hovering on the other side of it.

"There's 6 more super-soldiers," Tony said. "I don't know if they're all here yet."

"5." Steve said. "Danielle took one down."

"Alright, 5. Have we any idea their location?"

"Uhhh," she heard Natasha's voice over the earpiece, and looked down to a lower level, where two more people, both women, emerged. Their features looked to be mutated, both almost bird like. With a hideous ripping noise, huge skin and bone wings tore out of their back, and they began their flight towards Iron Man and The Falcon. Danielle and Steve jumped back as they flew past them.

"What was Banner thinking?" Steve asked, staring at the women as they began their fight with the two men in flight.

"That serum must have mutated their anatomy." Danielle said, looking at them. Suddenly, a great blue flash appeared on the ground level. Within it stood another man, his hands and extremities glowing an electric blue.

"There's 3." Steve said before hopping the railing and dropping the four stories.

Danielle ran to the staircase, calling for Natasha over the earpiece.

"I'm resetting the whole communications process so we can have control over it." Natasha said. "I'm in the computer room."

"Where's Clint?" Danielle asked.

"Oh, somewhere up high, I'm sure."

She glanced up at the rafters to see Clint crouching, firing arrows at the action below him.

"Who is in charge of SHIELD when Fury is gone?" Danielle asked.

"Thomas O'Brien. It's looking like he's the one who gave the orders for all this." Natasha said. "I'm trying to contact Fury now, but you can probably find O'Brien in office 312."

Danielle turned down a hallway towards the office. Two body guards started in on her, but she deflected the bullets and dropped them. The door was locked, so she picked up a gun and shot out the lock.

Thomas O'Brien was a massive man, but this massive man was hiding behind his desk when Danielle came in.

"Hi," Danielle said, slamming the door behind her. "You and me, Thomas, we need to talk. Call your soldiers off."

"Not until yours-"

She slammed the gun against the desk, glaring at him. "Why are you doing this? It was your job to retrieve the serums, not use them on people."

"It was too late. When we found out who bought them, they'd already used them on a few volunteers. They agreed to work with us peacefully instead of fighting us." he said, standing slowly, keeping his hands in the air.

"Seriously?" she asked. "You gave government secrets to criminals?" she sighed.

"If you can't beat them, join them." he said. "Why do you think we recruit all of...super spies, hackers, assassins? We need powerful people on our side."

"They wanted full control, you know that."

"It was a business arrangement, and it got out of hand." he said. She rolled her eyes.

"Will they listen to you if you asked them to stop?" she said. "And don't lie to me."

"They won't. Even the lead scientists are worried they'll act out. As far as I know, the serums aren't acting like yours did. They've effected their brains, their processing now, it's just protect themselves at all costs. They think it's because they were administered on perfectly healthy subjects, they were twice as potent. And while yours is getting stronger, theirs is spiraling out of our control."

"That's the problem. You can't control people. You seem to have forgotten that." Danielle said.

She took the heavy gun with her as she left the room, returning to the fighting.

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