“That’s right! You were there when it happened!” Gonzo recollected, his excitement growing every second in listening to Sam’s story. “I remember Kermit, Fozzie, and me covering it for The Daily Chronicle. You were one of our eye witnesses, but you left out a few details.”
“Well…uh…yes,” Sam stammered, “but mostly because I was under direct orders from the higher-ups at the time. And I’m still not allowed to share them. But…” He stopped and considered for a moment, looking around the room to make sure no one besides Gonzo was listening. And then he told the weirdo, “I will divulge them only to you. But you have to swear not to tell a soul about any of what you’re about to hear.”
“Cross my heart, spleen, liver, and intestines and hope to die,” Gonzo swore.
Sam shuddered at his odd way of pledging. “Alright. Here’s the entire account of what happened…”
By the year 2014, I had celebrated over sixty marvelous years being the poster eagle for the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement, and Logistics Division.
That’s S.H.I.E.L.D. for short.
Anyway, on that faithful spring day of 2014, I stopped by the sublevels of the Triskelion to check in with the facility’s resident researcher, Dr. Phil van Neuter.
Yeah, I know him. He’s the original “Dr. Phil.”
Or so he claims.
I came to Dr. Neuter to check out his latest stool sample. He was a specialist in designing the best stools you’ve ever sat on.
Ohhhh! Stool sample.
Of course. What other type of “stool samples” did you think I meant?
Well, I thought…You know what? Never mind. Continue.
Just when I was about to test Neuter’s latest stool sample, there was a sudden transmission over the Triskelion’s intercom. It was Captain Rogers, who – by that time – was still a registered fugitive.
He gave quite the rousing speech, as he always does, and with it came that disturbing revelation:
“Attention all S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, this is Steve Rogers. You’ve heard a lot about me over the last few days. Some of you were even ordered to hunt me down. But I think it’s time to tell the truth. S.H.I.E.L.D. is not what we thought it was. It’s been taken over by HYDRA. Alexander Pierce is their leader. The S.T.R.I.K.E. and Insight crew are HYDRA as well. I don’t know how many more, but I know they’re in the building. They could be standing right next to you. They almost have what they want. Absolute control. They shot Nick Fury. And it won’t end there. If you launch those Helicarriers today, HYDRA will be able to kill anyone that stands in their way. Unless we stop them. I know I’m asking a lot. But the price of freedom is high. It always has been. And it’s a price I’m willing to pay. And if I’m the only one, then so be it. But I’m willing to bet I’m not.”
I was in total shock from what I heard Captain Rogers say. The very organization I had been the face of…the one I swore to serve and protect…it was a front for HYDRA for all those sixty years!
After the speech, I instructed Dr. Neuter, “We must stay put here in your lab, until we have determined who is friend or foe. Be wary of anyone. There’s no telling who we can or cannot trust.”
And then I heard the sound of a large steel door sealing shut. I turned my head to see that Dr. Neuter left his lab and stood outside, waving to me with one of his dirtied, gloved hands through the only shatterproof window looking in. “Sorry, Sam,” he told me. “I’m one of those foes, but I hope we can still be friends.”
“I will never be friends with a traitorous agent of HYDRA!” I declared.
“Now, ya see, that hurts me, Sam,” Neuter said. “Because I really enjoyed working for you – giving you all those wonderful stool samples. That’s why I’m going to let you die, listening to your favorite song.”
On that, Neuter took out a remote control that operated the stereo system he installed in his lab. It did in fact play my favorite song, “Owner of a Lonely Heart,” at reasonable volume while toxic gas began to cloud into the room.
Neuter gave a very flippant “Hail HYDRA!” and fled the scene.
I remained calm, using my SSR training to hold my breath as I tried to find a way out of Neuter’s trap. As I examined the lab with only short minutes left, I realized that the gas came from the loudspeakers – the stereo system itself functioning as the gas machine. With this knowledge, I did the only resourceful thing: use Neuter’s latest stool sample to demolish the machine.
Not only did this shut it off, but it also unsealed the lab.
Thank you. It was quite the thrilling escape.
No, I meant “Yes” is the name of the rock band who sings your favorite song.
Ugh! Anyway…I knew there was little time in hunting down Neuter, as one of the Project Insight Helicarriers had been shot down and crashed into the Triskelion. It was at that time when I heard Agent Romanoff call my name over the comms: “Sam! Sam, if you’re still in the building, meet us on the roof! We’re waiting for you in the chopper!”
So I rushed as fast as possible to the rooftop, finding Agent Romanoff and Director Fury – who I was surprised to see alive and well – in the waiting helicopter. “I am here! I made it!” I told them, although they were both confused to see me there.
I found out why when Agent Romanoff told me shortly thereafter, “Actually, I was calling for Sam Wilson…not Sam Eagle. But, since you’re already here, get your feathered tail onboard.”
In spite of the mix-up between Sam’s, we were able to rescue Wilson before the entire Triskelion collapsed into rubble.
“Wow! Years later, that whole experience still gives me goosebumps!” Gonzo rolled up his sleeves to show the bumps. “Ya probably can’t see them underneath all the blue hair, but they’re there.”
Sam cringed with disgust. “Um, yes…Although Dr. Neuter still remains at large and S.H.I.E.L.D. is nothing more than a shadow these days, I remain vigilant in upholding its legacy and that of Captain America… until a more worthy individual decides to take on the responsibility.”
In his proclamation, the proud American eagle stared off into the distance, imagining who or what the next Captain America would be like.
His focus was suddenly disrupted when he heard music playing in the room.
“Owner of a Lonely Heart” again.
Gonzo played it on a nearby, ordinary stereo system, without a single word of warning or consideration to the PTSD that it triggered within Sam.
Regardless, the eagle refused to pass on the opportunity to jam along.
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