By the time Charlie was 21 he’d gotten used to people in suits coming up to him, flashing a badge, and saying things like ‘Doctor Eppes, your country requires your assistance.’ It hadn’t happened as often since his little act of protest but when a helicopter painted with the acronym S.H.I.E.L.D. landed in the street in front of the house he kissed Amita and hopped on board.
He’d been dumped onto a jet and flown to some location unknown. Again, not the first time. He was marched through unmarked halls until a door was opened to a large room with computers, screens, whiteboards, a large map of New York covered in dots, and crime scene photos. Charlie relaxed. A large African American man with an eye patch was waiting for him.
“Doctor Eppes, I’m Nick Fury, S.H.I.E.L.D.”
“Nice to meet you.” Charlie looked around. “So, serial killer?”
“You’re quick on the update Doctor Eppes. We’re not 100% sure it is a serial killer but that’s why we called you.”
Charlie had gotten over the fact that an arrest and conviction percentage was now to be his legacy.
“These deaths are a bit unusual which is why you’ll be working with Doctor Banner here.”
Charlie finally noticed a rumpled middle aged man who’d been trying to blend into the wall. Charlie felt his jaw drop and Dr. Banner took a step back. “Wow! It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
Dr. Banner’s fact twitched into a faint smile as he held out his hand. “Thanks.”
“My friend, Doctor Larry Fleinhardt, is a big fan of your work. He talked about your last paper nonstop for about three weeks. I know he’d love to meet you, or at least get an autograph.”
“Doctor Eppes!” Director Furry snapped.
“Right, serial killer.”
“We’re not actually sure it’s a serial killer.” Doctor Banner waved towards the wall of photos, his voice soft. “All we know is that each person is dead, there are no injuries, there is a marked amount of gamma radiation, but not enough to be lethal. And the locations look random.”
There was obvious frustration in Doctor Banner’s voice. It was a frustration that Charlie knew well. He’d heard it from more than a few investigators, and even himself. He took a deep breath. “There is no such thing as random. As long as there is a consciousness behind a crime there will be a pattern.” Charlie slid his fingers across the map tracing them from dot to dot. “And if you can find the pattern you can find the mind behind it.”
“And this is why we called you Doctor Eppes. You’ll have everything you need for your investigation. Doctor Banner will help you with the gamma radiation angle. And Stark has agreed to let us borrow his personal system for faster computational results.”
“I get to use a Stark system!” Charlie knew he was grinning like a loon. Both Larry and Amita were going to be so jealous.
“Serial killer, Doctor Eppes.”
“Right.” Charlie schooled his features. “Serial killer.” He turned to Doctor Banner and clapped his hands together. “Okay, read me in.”