Ensign Fisher’s voice carried across the main security station aboard the S.H.I.E.L.D Helicarrier. Sharon Carter, aka Agent 13, turned her head in his direction even as she stood up from the command chair. The technician was peering intently at his monitor display.
“You need to see this Ma’am. There’s been some sort of high density energy explosion detected at Colonel Fury’s last known location.”
Sharon bit back a curse even as she leaned over the young man’s shoulder to look at the readings on his monitor. The computer showed an incredibly powerful energy spike that was even now still slowly dissipating.
“Make sure that you are recording every detail about this energy spike Fisher. We’ll need to know exactly what it was. Especially if the Colonel’s been injured.”
Lieutenant Simon’s voice called across the room, “Agent Carter, Ma’am!”
Sharon looked over her shoulder at her Comm Officer and grimaced.
“I’ve got a priority call for you from General Halstaid. Line two.”
Sharon could feel her anger building, but pushed it down as she walked back to the command chair and lifted the wireless comm gear to her ear and snapped it into place along her jaw. She had a feeling that she was about to get some bad news and that it would be related to Ensign Fisher’s mysterious energy spike.
With one last mental command to herself to be polite, Sharon pressed the button that would send the connection through to her mobile unit.
“Agent Carter here, General. How can I help you?”
Sharon could feel her face slowly pale as she listened to the tinny voice speaking into her ear. It was worse than she thought.
“I see, General. Our sensors detected the energy flash that you speak of. We’re still analyzing the data, so I am unsure of its origin.” She paused a moment in thought. Colonel Fury’s mission was to begin negotiations with the General in hopes of coordinating efforts against their mutual enemy; HYDRA. It was possible that the energy spike was the side effect of a new HYDRA weapon.
“Any information that your people have collected would be helpful to our scientists when they study the phenomena. If you could have the initial findings put together in a package for us…?”
There was another brief pause as she listened to the General talk. While he spoke, she had to bite back the urge to yell at him for refusing to hold his meeting with Colonel Fury aboard the Helicarrier. She was almost certain that their shield technology would have prevented the current crisis.
She nodded, even though the General couldn’t see her. “Of course, General. Would you like me to dispatch a unit of medics to assist your medical personnel?”
She nodded again. “Very well. You should expect a team of Agents shortly to collect data and evidence as well as to conduct interviews of yourself and your staff.” She smirked briefly. “Carter, out.”
Disconnecting the comm unit’s open line and flipping the device off of her head, she stood up and began issuing orders to her people.
“Fisher, keep scanning the energy spike. Send all available data to Dr. MacLain for initial analysis. Top priority.”
She paused, hating to say what everyone needed to know, simply because a tiny voice inside of her believed that saying something made it true and if she didn’t say it, then it couldn’t possibly be happening. She ignored that little voice and cleared her throat.
“That energy spike somehow managed to blast apart the meeting room where Colonel Fury was talking with General Halstaid and his people. It somehow managed to make the Colonel disappear in a flash of light.”
The room grew quiet as everyone stilled to absorb that information. Eyes widened briefly in shock and then jaws hardened as determination set in.
“I want to know who coordinated this attack. How it was done and most importantly, where the hell they took Colonel Fury.”
Her eyes blazed with anger.
Everyone leapt back to work.
“…care what you say. It’s down right eerie…”
Hushed voices wobbled in and out of his hearing amongst the delicate clink of metal and the electronic beeping of equipment.
“…had doppelgangers before…”
He felt woozy and nauseous as if the room was slowly spinning to the right. That and his entire body throbbed like a giant toothache.
“…just like the Commander. Even the same eye is…”
He wasn’t sure where he was and he definitely didn’t know how he got here. He tried to open his eye. It felt like it had been cemented shut. The amount of effort and willpower it took to lift his eyelid was exhausting and blinding white light stabbed his brain.
A brief pause in the background noise.
“Quick. He’s waking up.”
A fast scuffle of feet and then a pretty red-head was smiling down at him.
“Shhh… You’re safe. You’re at Command Base Delta of the United Slayers Army.”
His confused mind couldn’t truly process what she was telling him. He only knew that he hurt and that he was exhausted.
Slowly, darkness crept in and he slept.
Xander Harris looked up from the display screen where he was talking with Andrew Wells, the Quartermaster for the United Slayers Army Europe and watched with a smile as Kathryn Elizabeth Harris nee’ Giles strolled into his office.
“What are you smiling at?” Andrew’s voice echoed from the speakers as Xander’s wife walked around the desk to lean against his chair and smile at the screen as well. “Oh, heya Kath.”
“Hi, Andy.” She nudged Xander’s shoulder. “Xand here still whining about the logistics breakdown?”
Xander rolled his eye even as Andrew smirked and nodded.
“I thought that the last two runs by train worked out good.” She shrugged slightly. “They were a bit slow since the route is rather roundabout, but we received the full shipment in excellent condition both times.”
Andrew’s smirk faded and he grew more serious.
“A recent battle demolished part of the line. The tracks themselves were melted into little more than slag.” Andrew sighed and shook his head. “I’m not shipping anything across the Mediterranean until that Kraken is killed. And if I ever get my hands on the idiot who woke it out of hibernation I’ll…I’ll…” he trailed off with a squeaky sounding growl.
Xander and Kath shared a quick grin. Andrew was a fairly decent mid-level mage and a real genius when it came to world-wide logistics. Xander figured that it was because of his geek-like ability to remember thousands of trivial details and recall them to mind at a second’s notice. He was not now nor had he ever been, however, in any way a frightening or intimidating man.
“Still,” Andrew continued, “our best bet for large transport of materials is either by air or by magic. Both have their risks and their benefits.”
Xander nodded in understanding. “Just check the manifest first. Most of its food, but there are a couple requests in for magical items and supplies. I’d rather that any magical transport not interact with some world-ending widget overtop of the Hellmouth.”
Andrew snorted. “That would be badness times ten. Don’t worry. I’ll check the manifest personally instead of handing it over to one of my staff.”
“Thanks Andy. I appreciate it.”
Andrew beamed. Even after all these years he was terribly easy to please.
“No problem Xander.” He nodded at Kathryn. “Andrew out.”
The line went dead and the symbol for the United Slayers Army came up on the screen. Grinning at his one time annoyance turned good friend, Xander shifted back in his chair and reached out to pull his wife onto his lap.
After a delightful and rather hot kiss that ended way too soon for Xander’s tastes, Kath leaned back and flashed him a wide grin complete with mischievously gleaming eyes. This expression was one that Xander knew and loved well even though it made him a bit wary. His wife was a lot like her Uncle Rupert in many ways; incredibly intelligent and well educated, a little bit of a rebel hidden inside of refined manners and a temper that could easily turn ‘Ripper’ on a person. Her sense of humor was much more in line with Xander’s, however and she was obviously trying hard not to laugh in his face. It was always worrying when he found himself the punch-line of one of her jokes.
Kath snorted lightly and shook her head grinning at him. “The Rift Rider that was brought in the other day woke up.”
He nodded at her, confused. “Ooookay? And is there a problem?”
“Well, no. He’s a bit banged up, but nothing that won’t heal with time and rest. Although…” she grinned at him again, “he has the nursing staff a bit weirded out.”
Xander was conflicted. Weird often translated into bad painful things, but it couldn’t be too bad because Kath was grinning fit to burst. “Okay, give. What’s up with the Rider that has the nurses freaked and you grinning like a loon?”
“A loon!” Kath gave him a fake hurt look and pouted. He laughed lightly and kissed the tip of her nose. She rolled her eyes and grinned again.
“Fine. The Rider says his name is Nick Fury, but no one believes him because he looks exactly like you. They think he’s your doppelganger from his own dimension.”
Shock rushed through Xander and froze his brain. His eye widened and his jaw dropped open. Kath’s grin began to fade as she saw her husband’s reaction to her news.
Instantly, his one dark eye focused on her with that odd intensity that he normally only got when fighting for his life. Kath stilled in his lap and shivered.
Silently she nodded. Xander’s eye lost focus and his jaw dropped open again. She barely heard the word that he whispered softly, “grandpa?...”