Desert wastelands surrounded the huge metal pillar which stood beneath the New Mexico sun, completely surrounded by generators, loads of computers, and a barrage of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. Darcy took in all of this with a well guarded silence. Tony Stark was running around almost madly, shouting orders left and right at various individuals who were operating said machinery. Jane was checking and rechecking calculations to make sure everything was aimed in the right direction. And she simply stood there, keeping out of the way and watching as the organized chaos continued. At the base of the device, a countdown clock was displayed indicating how long the group had before they were set to open what they hoped was a portal to Asgard.
The red numbers flashed across the screen as the count down continued.
Eleven..Ten...Nine...as the numbers became smaller, the chaos simultaneously increased and decreased. People were pushed from the area but the frantic checking for any problems increased almost ten fold, with Jane joining Stark in the shouting of orders. Several agents ran past Darcy, ignoring her presence completely. Not that she was surprised. If she didn't want to stand out, she didn't. Simple as that.
I should have been a spy. Hiding in plain sight is so easy. Darcy's inner musings were interrupted by the sound of Stark shouting loudly.
Jane stood just to the right of the controls for their worm-hole bridge. Stark was pressing buttons and making final minor adjustments as the machinery came online. The tip of the pillar began to glow white as electricity infused itself within the coils.
The final push of people from ground-zero, as the agents were calling it, came and as before everyone ignored Darcy where she stood beside a computer as big as her. In the end, only her, Jane, and Stark were left on site.
Stark continued to feed power to his creation, Jane holding her breath beside him. As the coils above began to pulse, Stark pressed a large red button (it was a cliche for a reason) and the glowing coils became a glowing pillar of power. Computers began to beep and whine as the tower pulsed but held together. Readings flashed across the machine beside Darcy, and she could see the moment that someone stepped into the stream of power.
That's when things began to go wrong.
She could practically feel Thor as he flew through this home-made monstrosity. Energy cracked and shot about the pillar, making her hair stand on end. But there was something else too. Instability. Though the connection had been made, the worm-hole was beginning to pull itself apart. With Thor inside. The computers began to beep loudly.
“Shit,” muttered Darcy, eyes wide as she watched fissures open in the column. Big fissures. Its loosing energy. The structure isn't stable.
Despite popular belief, Darcy was far from an idiot. Yes, she spaced out. Big time. But she'd been tested. Just short of genius. That's what every psychologist had ever said. IQ 175. And her specialty was technology.
“It needs more power,” muttered Darcy, eyes jumping to the power generation system Stark had set up then back at the tunnel, making mental calculations. She knew how fast Thor was falling. Though she wasn't sure how, she knew none the less. How far could a god fall without sustaining serious damage? On the scale of 'ouch' to 'life-threatening'?
Damnit, they were just going to have to find out.
Restraining herself, Darcy waited until the destabilization became too much to ignore. Too dangerous for everyone around. Too dangerous for Thor. Damn, I really hope Thor wasn't lying about the immortality thing.
Without a second though, Darcy dodged from her hiding place towards the controls for the power supply. Stark and Jane were too engrossed in monitoring the panel before them to pay her any mind. How they didn't see that the whole thing was coming apart, Darcy had no clue. She couldn't care less though.
Reaching the power panel, she quickly made a few adjustments to the readouts before pushing the switch feeding power to the worm-hole to its maximum point. An additional burst of energy shot from the pillar and Stark spun towards her.
“What the hell are you doing?!?” he shouted in alarm. “You're gonna blow the entire power supply!”
“It'll hold for 10.2 seconds!” shouted back Darcy as she glanced towards him once before turning her attention back to the pillar. What she hadn't mentioned was that Thor still had twenty five more seconds before he reached the ground. He'll be about 50 feet off the ground. Hopefully he can survive that.
In front of her, the panel began to whine and spark, but Darcy didn't let off the power. Even when Stark started sprinting towards her.
3.2 seconds until instability.
Stark was getting closer. Thankfully the SHIELD agents had been forced to retreat from the area, though some of them were working to get back through the gate. It was locked down though, for safety reasons. Between the jumping lines of energy, Darcy could just make out Thor as he entered the troposphere. Please let me have not miscalculated.
He was moving fast. Faster than she'd though. Glancing at the panel, Darcy watched the power readouts and punched a few buttons to shift the strain away from the primary generators to the secondary ones. He needed to slow down before he struck the ground. The secondary generators weren't as powerful, and the portal would start to break apart again, but it would give him seven extra seconds. Her last calculations came just as Stark reached her, pulling her away from the panel. However, he froze when he saw what she had done and shot Darcy a look of disbelief.
“We have 5.7 seconds before the whole power system runs the risk of exploding,” she explained as calmly as she could. Her mind was racing through everything, looking for additional ways to keep the portal open longer. “Thor is still 15 seconds from the ground and he's moving too fast. If he hits, god or not, he's probably dead. We need to slow him down.”
Stark looked at the system and cursed before releasing Darcy. “Well, you're apparently smarter than I've been giving you credit for, any thoughts?”
Darcy nodded and moved to hit a few buttons on the panel, showing the diagnostic layout for the power within the pillar. “If we shut down one of these coils, the power switches to jumping between the ones which are still active, correct?” Stark looked startled but nodded. “Alright then if we cut the power from two of these coils, we can shift all of the power so its running between just two, creating a bridge instead of a circle. It will take some strain from the power system and we can reduce the amount of power we're running. What do you have catching Thor?”
“A really big bean bag,” replied Stark with a grin.
She cocked an eyebrow at him in a 'are you serious' gesture, to which he grinned wider.
Rolling her eyes, Darcy went back to focusing on the power system, setting up the panel for the adjustments she was about to make. “Okay, the tunnel is gonna flicker for a moment, then reactivate.” She glanced at the system readout. If they didn't cut back on the power in three seconds, the system would need to be shut down. Without a second though, she hit a button and watched the system make the power adjustments. As predicted the worm-hole flickered out of existence for a moment as the whole thing became unstable then reformed. Jane jumped and looked to Stark, not noticing Darcy who was too focused on the controls to care even if she was caught.
The power system was still straining under the tunnels demand and would have to be shutdown completely in five seconds, regardless of what Darcy did. At least he'll be closer to the ground. 20 feet is survivable if he doesn't land on his head.
A brief image of Thor landing on his head and simply rolling over made Darcy smile. However, a complaint from the power panel had her cursing as she reached for the power lever again.
3 seconds until complete melt down....2.....1.....
Darcy cut the power completely thirty seconds before a meltdown could occur, watching as the portal flickered out of existence. And left the God of Thunder hurtling towards the ground without any support.
Thor let out a loud shout, which was cut off by him landing hard on the cushion inside the pillar. From the looks of it, on his stomach. Darcy and Stark both winced as Jane went scrambling towards the pillar.
Darcy started to follow but was interrupted by a hand catching her elbow.
“Hey,” stated Stark firmly. “Good job kid. I don't know how you knew to do that, but you did a good thing.”
A nod was Darcy's response. Then she was running towards the pillar like Jane. Running to see if Thor had survived. Judging from the groan of pain, he had.
Unknown to Darcy, a single eye followed her movements from the power console towards the pillar, a smirk playing on the man's lips.
“You knew she could do that, didn't you?” accused Stark mildly as he approached Fury from behind.
Fury just smiled. “The girl is five IQ points from genius status, with a specialty in technology. I sent her to help you and Miss Foster because I wanted her to know the system.”
Stark raised an eyebrow. “So why not have her actually help us?”
“Simple,” replied Fury as he watched Jane and Darcy help the winded god from their wormhole generator. “She doesn't want anyone to know how smart she is. Its easier if everyone just thinks she's an idiot, and it gives her an advantage. No one ever feels threatened by the stupid ones.”
“So its all an act?” confirmed Stark in disbelief as he, too, watched Darcy and Jane stumble with the tower of muscle they had all plucked from Asgard.
Fury nodded. “Continuing to allow everyone to think Miss Lewis is not the brightest individual is prudent. She has an...extensive understanding of technology, especially data and power systems, and her work with Miss Foster has increased her understanding of astrophysics.” At Stark's look of disbelief, Fury just nods. “Yes, she understands exactly what Miss Foster and Mr. Selvig are talking about.” Stark snorted, but Fury ignored him. “That combination of knowledge makes Miss Lewis one of the more valuable assets we have right now, along with yourself, Miss Foster, and Mr Selvig. I don't want this information getting out. Understood?”
Stark sighed. “What do you plan to use her for, if she's so valuable?”
“For now, I will continue to have her at events such as this one,” replied Fury. “Beyond that, well, that is none of your concern Mr. Stark.”
“Just do me one favor Fury,” growled Stark mildly as he turned towards the gathering group. “I'll keep her secret, but don't just use her like some tool in your workshop. She's a smart kid, even if she doesn't act like she is. I doubt manipulation works well against her and she'd probably turn around and blow the entire thing up in your face if you misstep. So for all our sakes, don't piss her off.”
Fury watched silently as the rather infuriating genius wondered towards where a crowd was gathering around Thor. His eye slid towards the center of the crowd where Miss Foster was hugging the retrieved Thor enthusiastically. She looked ready to drag him off someplace quite. Poor woman.
His sight then slid towards Darcy, and what he saw made him freeze. She was looking right at him, with knowing eyes. Eyes that told him she knew exactly what he'd done, that he'd given her clearance to be present at ground-zero, and that he'd placed her there to fix any problems that arose. They also warned him not to try tricking her again. Her vision moved away from his, apparently satisfied with what she saw. Instead, a giant grin broke across her face and she complained loudly that Jane was hogging all the man meat, and to let someone else hug the poor god.
Perhaps he had underestimated the girl, just as everyone else did. After all, she was almost a genius.