INITIATING START-UP SEQUENCE: AGENT MARIA HILL_
USER: T STARK_
PRIMARY ACTIVATION BEGIN...
LOADING PERSONALITY DATA...
LOADING HISTORY DATA...
LOADING MUSCLE MEMORY...
LOADING COMBAT DATA...
S.H.I.E.L.D. AGENT MARIA HILL IS OPERATIVE
You wake up in a room. It is very dark here. Hardly anything can be seen.
But things can still be felt-for example, the chill of the surface beneath you and the pounding headache that makes you wonder what you had to drink. You can smell the clinical antiseptic of a hospital or a laboratory. You can taste the purified air seeping into your lungs through your fast breathing (take it down a notch). You can hear the buzzing of multiple devices, a beeping to your right, footsteps, and the roar of the air filters.
You can also remember.
Your name is Maria Hill. You are a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, working directly under Director Nick Fury, and you have been for ten years. You were once in the military. Your past is troubled, dark, and you're not proud of everything you've done.
You try opening your eyes again and, this time, you can somewhat see. Your eyes adjust to the pervasive darkness-broken only by a few lights from screens-and you get a good look at your surroundings. You are, in fact, in a laboratory. The ceiling above you is unfinished, metal beams and StarkTech air purifiers. You hear the same footsteps again and a half-remembered voice looming above you. "Agent Hill-"
"Yes, Mr. Stark?" you answer, the voice connecting to a name in your mind immediately (not just a name: he's Tony Stark, son of Howard Stark, he used to manufacture weapons for S.H.I.E.L.D., he's Iron Man, he currently works in R&D at S.H.I.E.L.D. under the supervision of Director Fury). You attempt to sit up to look at your peer, but you find yourself bound to the cold metal beneath you by something strong. You push against it to no avail.
"Calm down, Hill," Stark leans over you, starting to undo the bindings around your wrists, waist, thighs, and ankles. "I was just running some routine tests after your last mission."
Of course. You'd been in the Himalayas tracking a rogue HYDRA unit. Your partner-some stuck-up agent whose name you never bothered to commit to memory-had nearly died of frostbite.
"Results?" You sit up, rubbing your wrists where they had been bound. The flimsy paper fabric of the hospital gown crinkles beneath you. Wires hooked up to your arms, torso, and legs stay connected to your skin.
Stark looks over your head, at whatever device is beeping. He smiles, looking utterly relieved. "You're fine, Agent Hill." Stark leans over to start plucking the wires off of your skin. "Fury was pretty worried for a moment there. Didn't look like you'd pull through."
You scowl. "Tell him to stop worrying about me and get back to running S.H.I.E.L.D. I'll always make it through." You swing your legs over the side of the metal table (it's a gurney) and start to inch to the ground. You're completely sore. "Some painkillers could help, though."
He smiles. "Glad to hear that, Hill." Stark puts an arm on your back to help you off of the gurney. You're insulted by his "random" act of kindness (what a womanizer) until your bare feet hit the cold floor (way more sensation than you'd been expecting) and you nearly fall over.
Not just sore. You're stiff as hell, too. You nod at Tony as he leads you to double doors with windows that reveal warmer light. One hand still on your back, he pushes a door open and ushers you through.
Outside stands Director Fury. On instinct, you salute him. "Director Fury."
He cracks a smile, wrinkling his eye patch. "At ease, Hill."
"She's fine," Stark says, still holding you upright.
"Glad to hear it, Stark."
You wrinkle your nose at the warm hand still against your back and take a step forward. Goddammit, you're Agent Maria Hill and you can take care of yourself. You start walking away from Stark and toward Fury. It's going well, your balance staying mostly intact, until your left knee forgets what it's supposed to be doing. You topple to the ground, bracing for the impact-
Your hands come out in front of you and you right your left knee. You're suspended above the ground, the muscles in your arms straining from the exertion of the mission and disuse. You're totally fine. Thank god for muscle memory, you think. Director Fury offers a hand and you take it, letting him pull you off of the ground. You nod your thanks.
You're on your feet again just in time to see Stark nod at Fury before he walks back into his lab.
"Told you," he throws over his shoulder, opening the door.
"She's just fine," Director Fury adds. He leads you down a long hallway, through a door, and out into another hallway. "Now, Agent Hill, return to your quarters."