A\N: Thanks to Allen Pitt for his idea as relates to the Prez's address.
FIC: Darker Reign (18/?)
“This facility controls the output and distribution of the satellite network broadcasting to the Eastern seaboard,” Fury began his briefing. “According to Stark,” the famed inventor nodded at the mention of his name, “this facility is unhackable from outside but should be hackable from inside.”
“Should be? Words to fill the unwittingly brave with confidence.”
Fury heard but ignored Harris’ mutterings. “This facility controls and broadcasts the TV signal for the US. from Maine to Georgia. If we get in, hide a file of Lehane’s taping of Osborn’s meeting with his backers in the system, then program the system to access the file right in the middle of the news, we should reach tens of millions of Americans in prime-time.”
Faith threw up her hand. “Not that I care ‘bout missin’ out on my claim to fame, but what happened to me broadcasting the news about the corn-haired cretin?”
Fury allowed himself a slight smile at the Slayer’s description of Osborn and the collective titter that followed it before replying. “That’s still the long-term plans, I have plenty of information on Osborn’s under the table deals and alliances, as well as the criminal activities of some of his ‘Avengers’. However, nothing has the immediate impact of the phone footage you took of Osborn meeting with his cabal, many of the faces very recognisable to Americans throughout the country as some of the most dangerous threats this nation has faced. Hell, he’s sat there cosying up to Victor Von fuckin’ Doom, never mind the goddamn Kingpin. So that’ll form the first broadcast, get our rebel movement off to a racing start before we use other hacks to break into other networks, and you do those broadcasts.”
It was Finn who spoke up next. “I guess this facility is highly-guarded?”
“Yeah,” Fury nodded. “But the good news is because it’s a commercially owned facility, its security is supplied by a private company rather than HAMMER.”
“What’s the plan?” Moon Knight queried.
Stark rose and joined Fury at the front of the briefing room. “I have Faith’s file of Osborn’s meeting,” Stark lifted up a memory stick for emphasis. “What we need to do is get inside the facility, get me to either a console or a cable that I can use to interact with the system, preferably the cable because it’ll easier to get around the security protocols, and then I can upload Faith’s file into the system and then pre-load the virus to jump to the file at the pre-arranged time.”
“Okay,” Xander nodded. “Let’s get this done.”
“Director Osborn is here sir.”
“Thank you, Frank.” The President forced an unconcerned expression at his pale-faced Chief Of Staff’s report, noting the fearful atmosphere coming from even his most seasoned Secret Service agents. However much nervousness he felt, that was secondary next to the humiliated rage he felt after the previous night’s broadcast, the head of the US’ internal security, the man appointed by him, shown to be in cahoots with many of the world’s most notorious and dangerous criminals! “Show him in please.” The Chief of Staff nodded before scuttling back out, only to return moments later leading the HAMMER Director.
The President pursed his lips as he noted in contrast with the tension crackling through the Oval Office, Osborn seemed almost casual. Forcing himself to remember the weight of the office he held, the President cleared his voice. “Director Osborn, thank you for coming on such short notice. I’m sure you’re aware of the footage circulating of yourself in a conference with several of the world’s most notorious meta-criminals.”
“Yes, Mr. President I’m aware of the footage.” Osborn’s face contorted into something maniacal and yet his tone remained icy cool, almost too cool. “I’m sure you’ve been briefed by your intelligence analysts on just how video footage can be doctored.”
“Yes,” the President forced himself to stare directly into Osborn’s wild eyes, “yes of course. I’m sure you’re telling the truth. Nevertheless protocol dictates that you temporarily stand down from your position while a full investigation is carried out.”
Osborn’s smile tightened into a rictus. “I’m afraid I’m going to have to decline, Mr. President.”
The President forced back a gulp as he stared at the man stood at the other side of the desk. “That wasn’t a request, Direct-, Mr. Osborn. It was an order.”
“You don’t understand,” Osborn shook his head, disdain etching itself across his face, “no perhaps you do, but you don’t have the stomach for the hard choices people in our elevated positions often have to make. And that’s why you’re unsuitable to be President.”
“How dare you!” Colour fled from the President’s face. “Resign now!”
Osborn smirked. “I don’t think so, it’s your resignation that I require.” The director’s smirk widened at his out-raged splutterings. “In fact I’m going to have to insist.”
The President looked towards the men flanking him on either side, an order for his Secret Service detail to arrest Osborn on his lips. And then the door crashed open and the gargantuan Rulk strode through what remained of the entrance, a split-second later and the window imploded and Ares strode in, the Greek war god carrying his trademark double-bladed axe.
“Deal with them,” Osborn’s tone was off-hand, almost bored. “But don’t hurt the president, we need him.”
The next minute or so was the most nightmarish of the president’s life. The sound of gunfire filled the air, followed quickly by his men’s dismayed screams as the two metas tore into them, Osborn watching the massacre with a disdainful air.
Finally he could take no more. “Stop! Stop!” his shout was meant to be a demanding bellow but turned into a pleading squeak. “I’ll do whatever you want, sign whatever documents you need, make whatever speeches, just don’t hurt them anymore.”
“Son of a bitch.” Fury grunted as he received an encrypted data-burst from within the very White House itself. His solitary eye widened as he read the contents of the message then shook his head. Realising he had to act quickly, he executed a pre-existing hack on the line belonging to the air force officer carrying the nuclear football and let out a bellow. “Eden! I need my favourite teleporter in double quick time!”
“White House is compromised. Meta-Crisis.”
The air gusted from Major Cameron Simmons at the dreaded message coming from within his ear-piece, the trigger-phrase ‘Meta-Crisis’ meaning a meta had either assassinated or taken the President hostage, and meaning that as holder of the nuclear football, it was his duty to get as far as possible from the White House. Rising, he started through the busy but as yet not alerted office, steadfastly ignoring anybody’s attempts to strike up a conversation.
He let out a rattling breath as he left the White House via a side-exit, ignoring the posted Marines’ curious looks as he hurried out of the building, through its neatly manicured grounds, and onto the street thronged with tourists, their excited chatter failing to quell the chill in his heart.
And then he sensed it, the instinct that had gotten him through two tours of Iraq and one of Afghanistan kicking in. An icy finger tickled down his spine as he looked over his shoulder and noted several men dressed in HAMMER uniforms brusquely making their way through the crowd.
He glanced down at the briefcase chained to his wrist and cursed, wishing he’d had the fore-thought to bring a coat or something, anything, with him to throw over the tell-tale chain. As it was, he was screwed.
“Hey man,” he glanced to an alley to his left to see a black man with a thick Australian accent stood in its mouth, “do you wanna take your chances with them or get help from Nick Fury?”
Simmons’ heart leapt at the mention of the legendary spymaster. If anyone could help, it would be him. Of course, it could all be a trap, but he knew that the HAMMER goons looking for him had nefarious intentions, this Aboriginal just might be on his side. Heart pounding, he ducked into the alley in time to see the hero open up what looked to be a teleportation portal. “Made the right choice mate,” the Australian drawled, “staying here would have meant kissing your arse and probably your hand goodbye.”
“How did Fury-.”
“The old dude don’t tell me shit,” the Aboriginal interrupted, “but you know him, he has agents everywhere. Come on.”
“Hello everyone, I apologise for interrupting your viewing with this emergency broadcast.” Osborn schooled himself to look concerned. “As you all aware, I came to the position of Director of HAMMER in the aftermath of the Skrull Invasion. Such was my concern with the Skrull infiltration that I continued a covert investigation of the government even after ascending to the HAMMER directorship.”
He paused, looked down, trying to look more than concerned, grief-stricken. Then he lifted his gaze back to the camera and tried for what he hoped was a forced smile. “Not in my wildest dream or should I say, darkest nightmare, could I expect to find what I found.” He paused, faked a painful breath then looked over his shoulder. “Bring him out.”
He concealed a smile as Mystique disguised as the President was dragged out by Ares. “This looks like the President does it not?” Osborn drew a green gun and pointed it at the violently struggling Mystique. “Unfortunately, this Oscorp-designed weapon proves otherwise.” He pointed the gun at Mystique and pressed the trigger.
Mystique wriggled theatrically in the Greek god’s arms as a golden light enveloped him, the golden light dissipating to reveal ‘the President’ had changed into a skrull. “Thank you,” he nodded at Ares before returning his gaze to the camera. “Ladies and-.”
“We would have won!” Mystique let out a scripted scream as Ares pulled her back out of camera range. “If not for your vigilance! Curse you Osborn!”
“I apologise for that shocking display.” Osborn shook his head before continuing. “I’m sure you’re asking yourself, if the President has been replaced, who else in the Cabinet is a Skrull?” Osborn nodded thoughtfully. “I can’t answer that question, not yet, but I can promise you that I will continue to investigate for as long as it takes. More than that, I will assume the mantle of President, and lead you all to the best of my ability. Thank you for your patience, fortitude, and courage during these testing days.”
He smirked as the camera was turned off. That went rather well all things considered.
“Bloody hell,” predictably it was Spike that broke the shocked silence that followed Osborn’s speech, “someone even nuttier than my grand-sire with their plonker on the nuclear trigger, that’ll end well.”
Angel glowered at his grand-childe, a retort on his lips. His eyes narrowed as he noticed Gwen rising and starting out of the lounge. “Where are you going?”
Angel’s brow furrowed in genuine puzzlement. “Where are you going?”
The red-head stopped at the room’s exit and turned. “Utopia.”
“And why the bloody hell would you wanna go there?” growled Spike. “Might as well paint a bullseye on your pretty little arse.”
Gwen glared half-heartedly at the bleached-blond vampire. “I’m a mutant, Billy Idol. And my guess is that eventually Osborn’s going to come after them. I’ve not been one for causes, but I guess I found one too.”
Angel stared at Gwen for a moment then looked towards Spike who shrugged. “Bloody hell, mate, we’re already on this bugger’s radar and you know I like a scrap.”
“Okay,” Angel nodded. “If we’re going to make a stand, might as well make it in Utopia.”
He sighed as Osborn’s speech finished, leaned forward and turned the TV off. He felt so damn tired, more, he felt sick. Sicker than he’d felt when he awoke to find decades had gone by while he’d slept, sicker even than when he’d found the Super-Soldier program he’d once been a member of had morphed out such a horror as Nuke. Not even the disgust he’d felt when he’d discovered his best friend had been brain-washed to use against him by none other than his greatest enemy measured up to the rage he felt right now.
He looked towards the shield that it had been his honour to carry for all these years. An honour yes, but a considerable weight, still one that he’d never thought to put down. He picked it up and felt its perfect balance then spoke, his voice echoing back at him. “It’s past time we made a stand.”