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Like a Thing Unto Iron

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This story is No. 1 in the series "The Heart of the Dragon". You may wish to read the series introduction first.

Summary: Xander touches the heart of the dragon, and is changed forever. You didn’t think the Slayer was the only legacy power did you?

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Marvel Universe > GeneralneoolongFR1814135,385184056,18030 Nov 0812 Dec 08Yes

Coda: In the Land of the Blind

He walked silently through the hallways of the building until he had reached the office at the end of the row. It was night, and he was the only one still out there. Well, everyone except for the man at the end of the hall. He didn’t mind being there by himself; it wasn’t like he had much better to do. Either at home or at work. Government special projects and exotic homeland defense was a lot less sexy than most people would believe. But it was necessary for national security, and a burden that he gladly took upon his shoulders.

The agent knocked on the door, briefly glancing at the black and white eagle emblem that was on the wall next to his boss’ door. While not a top secret organization anymore, they still kept off the radar for the most part, and the average person wouldn’t be able to recognize the symbol off hand.

“Come in,” a deep voice from inside called out after a moment.

The agent turned the knob and entered the office, closing the door behind him. It was a large office, comparably speaking. But, even he knew that the size didn’t mean all that much. Besides, the director wasn’t in the office that much of late, having to actively look at potential candidates himself as well as briefing his superiors on the Hill. The Director's pet project had not gone so well after the initial progress, and he was bringing in more bad news.

“What is it, Phil?” the director said, waving a hand at the empty seat in front of his steel desk. He rubbed a hand over his bald head, feeling the time of night, or rather early early morning. The organization was relatively new; quietly moved into being after several public displays of the exotic threats that were supposed to be kept quiet.

Two had garnered much public attention; at least those had gone with a minimum of losses. The early days had been much less clean and sanitary, though covered up just the same.

Despite the DRI getting heavy funding for research, he didn’t think that they were what was needed to protect the country. He had managed to convince a few generals and senators that it should be in the hands of the military, or at least former military. Of course, that didn’t mean that he got the budget to do much.

He had managed to get lucky with the last couple. Brilliant minds capable of so much, if their own personal problems didn’t consume them. It had been like catching lightening in a bottle, twice. He didn’t imagine that he could do it a third time.

Phil took the offered seat, placing a manila folder on top of the desk. He slid it over to his boss, waiting for him to open it and at least scan the contents.

“Another operation?” the Director said through clenched teeth. He refrained from yelling though. It wasn’t his agent’s fault that his newest budget increase proposal had been turned down, and the money sent to fund another black project for the DRI.

“Yes, sir,” Phil said, feeling the anger that his boss was repressing. He felt some of the same, but he had always been one to keep a level head and to always appear calm for the sake of the others. Some of the other agents talked about it behind his back, saying that he was dull. He considered it a good quality, especially with some of the things he had seen. He was primarily a field man after all, and panic helped nobody. “Projected time to implementation is eleven months. They’ve already picked out the space for the facility.”

It didn’t have to be said that it meant that their proposed Camp Hammond was off the books for the foreseeable future. Not that there were many that needed training at this point. As it turned out, all of the viable candidates now had either been evil or insane. The majority of superpowered individuals evidently did not turn out to be the most decent and humane of people.

Of course, Uncle Sam sometimes saw fit to interfere with that too. The last candidate that he had come up with that had any hope of being considered, Carl Lucas, had been rejected due to his past criminal record. Despite turning his life around and actually helping out his community. But, evidently that was enough to disqualify a man that was superhumanly strong with unbreakable skin. As if they could be so choosey given the current state of things.

“That’ll be all,” the Director said, still looking down at the report. “Get some sleep, Phil.”

Agent Coulson nodded and stood up as the Director glanced up in dismissal. "Nick, we'll figure this out."

The head of the agency waited for his agent to walk out of his office before looking at the report again. He frowned, and reached into a drawer under his desk and pulled out a cigar, lighting it.

He got angrier just reading the thing. Apparently a Dr. Margaret Walsh had got it into her mind that the HST’s could be utilized to create the next generation of super-soldiers. Genetic and pharmacological tampering and the like. He had seen how badly that could turn out. It was hardly a new idea, even in his day.

Even the Soviets' Red Room had not been a model of sustainable super soldiers, their star agent having turned rogue after finding out about the mental programming that had been used there. That had been quite a coup for him, though she still wouldn't go to work for the United States full time. Not even with him in charge of his own agency.

But, the higher-ups viewed them as the wave of the future. Even if they had lost their only successful subject in the closing days of WWII. Despite the classification slapped onto the fiasco, he also knew about what had happened at Camp Cathcart. Something else that irked him to no end about the things that the American government could get into. America the beautiful indeed.

He blew out a puff of smoke as he closed the file. He had other things to look at after all. The same incidents that had gotten Sunnydale picked as the next DRI facility had garnered his interest as well. Especially a couple of sightings of superhuman activity nonattributable to HST’s. Apparently someone in that town had stumbled upon some superpowers and was using them. He had to make a note to keep an eye on that.

He was just glad it wasn’t as bad as that last debacle in New York. That had been a mess to try to cover up. At least Tony was a bit more subtle now, and Dr. Banner was getting better at controlling his base emotions to prevent any unintentional outbursts.

The tall black man stood up, walking over to the large window that made up part of an office wall. He looked outside at the city below him. They still didn’t even have their own building yet, having to share it with another agency.

By his calculations, they probably only had a couple of years. They either had to prove their worth, up to and above whatever the DRI was doing, or they’d be shut down. His assets, at least the ones they knew about, shuffled to another agency. What he knew of the Initiative didn’t exactly instill him with hope about what would happen to Banner if that happened. He did know that it wouldn’t end well; Ross had been proof enough of that. And, Tony would likely go off the deep end if the Initiative tried heavy handed tactics to acquire arc technology. A couple of dozen terrorists in Gulmira could testify to that, with their corpses.

Whatever was in Sunnydale, he’d have to find it. Find it first if the country had any hope of sticking around for another two hundred years.

Director Fury sighed for a moment, blowing out smoke as he scratched at the cord around his face. His wound didn’t hurt him anymore; wearing the patch having become natural at this point. It was quite a burden being the last competent man left with any authority.

The End

You have reached the end of "Like a Thing Unto Iron". This story is complete.

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