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The Sword in the Stone

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The world watched captivated as reports of an alien spacecraft appeared in Greenwich, England… not very far from London… and Buckingham Palace or Parliament for that matter. Luckily a certain Norse God showed up to defend the Earth from these invaders and the terrible weapon that was being unleashed upon the world.

After Thor had defeated the threat and saved the day, one thing became absolutely certain… no where on the planet is safe… and the Avengers can’t be everywhere all the time. So in the days following the Dark Elf Invasion, the British government announced that they would put together their own team of enhanced individuals. It is publicly called… Team Excalibur.

 

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Two Days before the Dark Elf Invasion…

 

Joseph O’Connell is a simple fisherman. His father before him was a fisherman as was his father before him and so on. His family has been fishing the waters of the Irish Sea for generations. He knows these waters and the coasts like the back of his hand… so now Joseph is puzzled as he fishes just off the southwestern coast of the Isle of Man… for there is a sudden fog bank. This isn’t too unusual for March… but as the mist parts, the shadowy shape of land appears. He is roughly less than five miles from the coast, but this is highly out of the norm. There just shouldn’t be any land here at all!

Joseph and his fishing crew grow even more confused and puzzled the closer they get to this new island… especially as the water starts to ripple and flow up into the air as if it is coming from a tap. Mist shrouds where the stony edge meets the water… but a patch of mist clears even more and suddenly Joseph and his crew are greeted by an unusual sight indeed. There is a woman standing upon the pebbled shore. She is dressed in a close-fitting green and black dress that looks like something from centuries ago. Her long black hair is straight and curls slightly around her hips. A circlet of gold sits upon her brow as she looks at him with haunting pale blue eyes…

“Help me! Save me from this dismal place. I am all alone here.” Her voice is lilted and clear like chiming bells. She sounds lost and lonely… so Joseph stops his fishing boat and his two member fishing crew help get the small inflatable raft ready. Joseph himself goes and collects the beautiful woman.

“What is this place and how did you get here?” Joseph asks the strange, beautiful woman as he quickly looks around for any threats.

“I was left here by an evil, heartless man.” The woman says with a pout and Joseph feels his protective urges swell.

“Well then come with me and we’ll get you back ta proper land.” Joseph says with a warm smile. The woman smiles at him as he gestures to the small inflatable raft.

“Tis an odd boat. Are you certain it will keep us above the water?” The woman asks as she gathers up her skirt.

“I can assure you, lass… it will get the job done.” Joseph says with a reassuring smile as he helps her into the raft. Soon they are back on Joseph’s fishing boat and the three fishermen with the addition of this strange woman make their way up the west coast of the Isle of Man.

As the sun sinks lower in the west, Joseph O’Connell brings his boat into port in the small fishing village he has called home since he was a child. His family are originally from North Ireland but his father moved here to get away from the violence there during the terrorist attacks back in the 70s.

“If you have no where else ta go, you’re more than welcome ta come with me ta my home.” Joseph offers as he notices the distant look in the strange woman’s blue eyes. He can’t help but feel beholden to her somehow… what with him finding her and rescuing her and all. Her eyes turn to regard him then.

“Truly? And I would not be a burden upon you?” The woman asks curiously.

“Not at all, lass… though my wife may require some convincing, but I’ll win her ‘round once she hears of your plight.” Joseph says and his cheeks flush unexpectedly.

“How kind of you, good sir.” The woman says as he helps her from his fishing boat. “But I do not require lodgings.” Her lips curl into a smirk as she invades his space. “I do hunger though… and so… I require your soul.” She then adds in a sultry whisper before she grabs his face and kisses him hard. Joseph struggles in surprise and feels his very life drain away from him. As she pulls back, a pale greenish mist escapes from his mouth into hers. Her eyes flash an eerie green for a second then return to their normal blue.

“Wh-what the fuck are you?!” One of Joseph’s fishing crew says as he and the other fisherman stumble backwards. The woman turns to regard them now and she flicks a finger at them… a small flash of green energy leaves the tip of her index finger and causes the two other men to remain locked in their current positions.

“What am I?” The woman then says as she saunters over to them. “Is hungry. The question you, good sirs, should be asking is… who am I?” The woman then says with a wicked smile. “For I am Morgan LeFay, Future Queen of Britannia. Pity you shant be alive to witness my crowning… nor shall the rest of this quaint little coastal hovel.” Morgan LeFay says as she kisses one man hard… drains the life from him and then does the same to the next. She then snaps her fingers and green energy swirls about the lifeless bodies. “But at least you shall aid me in the winning of my birthright.” Morgan then laughs as the three reanimated corpses follow her along the pier and into the village proper… where Morgan LeFay sets to work building her new army of the undead.

 

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The Day after the Dark Elf Invasion…

 

Clint rides down the escalator clutching his black S.H.I.E.L.D. issue field bag in his right hand and his nigh to bursting travel pack over his left shoulder. He is going to be in London for awhile so he came prepared. He is here to check up on Thor… just thinking about the return of the golden Norse God causes Clint to feel a rise in the level of his anxiety. He swallows and remembers what his therapist told him.

‘It’s over now. That douche from space is locked up in the Space Viking equivalent of a high max prison… probably got the axe by now. Can’t let that bastard run my life… so every moment I live for myself, my wife, and my kids… is a victory for me… and a defeat for him.’ Clint thinks as he takes a deep, cleansing breathe and sighs. He then walks towards the baggage claim area and notices a dark haired girl dressed warmly and a certain Norse God dressed in casual Earth wear yet still manages to stick out like a sore thumb.

“Aww… crap.” Clint mutters under his breath at the sight of Thor. He then sees a quick flash of Thor… slightly younger looking… dressed in Asgardian ceremonial finest as he reaches down to grip the haft of Mjolnir in his right hand. A cocky grin on his cleanly-shaven face as the hammer comes up and is held triumphantly in the air over that golden head… and all Clint feels is that he wishes that hammer would suddenly find Thor ‘unworthy’ and come down to thunk that arrogant head… maybe knock some sense into that which seems to have none.

Where the fuck did that come from?! Oh, yeah… memory transfer… a byproduct of the mind control Clint was subjected to nearly a year ago. That means that was one of Crazy-Alien-Psychopath’s memories. God! How Clint hates those! And then right on queue… the memory of the beautiful woman with the golden hair streaked with paler blonde and deep green eyes comes… and Clint’s heart flutters. He sighs heavily as he purges those memories from his mind with his own of his wife, Laura, and their two kids… Cooper and Lily.

“Agent Barton! How fares my shield-brother-in-arms?” Thor says in his booming voice as Clint approaches the pair here to receive him.

“Easy there, big guy. No need to announce me to everyone.” Clint says as he nods his head to Thor. “Besides, you should just call me Barton. Let’s leave the Agent out from now on.”

“Very well.” Thor says and smiles as the three of them fall into step.

“So I hear there’s been reports of strange things being seen around this old city. Care to tell me what happened yesterday?” Clint asks curious to know Thor’s side of the story as they get into a dark blue car. He had gotten the quick notes version as he was flown over on commercial so as not to draw too much attention. Director Fury had set up the clearance so Clint’s ‘special equipment’ got through both US and UK airport security… sometimes it pays to have the job of a Super Spy… especially when he got to fly First Class.

“An ancient threat known as the Dark Elves once thought long dead arose once more.” Thor starts in all seriousness.

“Elves? As in Santa’s little helpers or like Legolas from Lord of the Rings?” Clint asks somewhat incredulously.

“They were more like Legolas’ albino, emo-dressed cousins… though that leader guy was charcoal skinned with white hair.” Darcy says from the driver’s seat. She yanks a hard right and Clint finds himself very glad that he put his seatbelt on or he’d be kissing the window right about now.

“That is because Malekith had the Aether housed within his flesh.” Thor says as they speed on down the streets. Clint mills over this information.

“So this Aether… what exactly is it? Fury mentioned that it was like the Tesseract.” Clint asks.

“Tesser-what?” Darcy says with some confusion.

“Tesseract… it is an Infinity Stone just like the Aether.” Thor says in all seriousness as though this clarifies everything.

“Infinity Stone? Okay… big guy, ya lost me on that.” Darcy says then yanks the wheel to turn down a side street… effectively cutting off oncoming traffic.

“Jesus Christ! Do you even have a driver’s license?” Clint asks of Darcy… but instead of answering, she slams on the brakes and performs a perfect parallel park complete with turn signal.

“And we’re here.” Darcy says chipperly as she kills the engine and hops out of the car with keys in hand.

“I take it this is Dr. Foster’s place?” Clint asks as he shoulders his bag and grabs the other from the trunk.

“It is where she is currently staying.” Thor says in a hum-haul round-about way.

“Technically… it’s Jane’s mom’s house. Three stories with a balcony garden and a backyard… so it’s pretty dope for upperclass Londonites.” Darcy says as they enter the front of the lovely home. Clint walks in behind Thor and scopes out the interior. The stairs come down in the foyer area and it is painted white with cream colored trim around the small narrow windows on either side of the door. The floor is a dark cherry wood hardwood so are the stairs which have some soft creamy beige carpet going up the center of the steps.

“You might wanna take your boots off here… Jane’s mom is super anal about her clean carpets and rugs getting track stains all over them.” Darcy says as she hangs her coat and toes off her sneakers.

“Okay.” Clint says and sets his bags down to untie his boot laces and take them off. “Just don’t complain if my feet stink.” He adds with a grin to the dark haired girl. Darcy just chuckles.

“You can’t be nearly as bad as him.” She says and points to Thor.

“That bad, huh?” Clint asks as he turns to Thor who is removing his sneakers and putting on house slippers. Clint then catches a whiff from the sneakers. His eyes water and his nose wrinkles. “Good God, man!”

“Told ya. And that’s why he wears the house slippers.” Darcy says as she hurries down the hallway.

“I can’t help it.” Thor huffs out as Clint grabs his bags and follows after Darcy. Jane is in the sun room with papers and a couple of open laptops spread out on the table that is in the center of the plant-infested room.

“I thought people were supposed to relax in these indoor greenhouses… not work themselves to death.” Clint says with a smile as he walks into the sunny glass-walled room and sets his bags down. Jane looks up from the laptop in front of her and is surprised to see Clint Barton, Avenger, standing in her mom’s solar.

“Oh! Today’s the day?” Jane says in surprise then glares at Darcy. “I thought he wasn’t coming until next week?”

“Typical…” Darcy starts as she rolls her blue eyes. “Me and Thor said that we were headin’ out to pick up Hawk Boy before we left.”

“Hawkeye.” Clint corrects.

“Whatever…” Jane says with a sigh as she huffs about this interruption to her data crunching. “You’ll have to sleep on the couch until we can sort the sleeping arrangements.” Jane then looks to Darcy.

“I can clear a spot out down in the basement.” Darcy says in suggestion.

“No, our guest is NOT sleeping in the basement.” Jane says decisively.

 

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That night finds Clint sleeping on the fluffy, striped couch in the sitting room off to the side of the foyer since there isn’t any room upstairs in any of the four bedrooms. One is Jane’s (Thor DOES NOT sleep in there), another is her mom’s, and the other two are guest rooms: Darcy sleeps in one and Thor in the other. It was decided that Thor and Clint will share the largest guest room while Darcy takes the smaller one. Of course, they’ll have to do all the rearranging tomorrow since it was late when they got in.

Clint’s sleep is fitful… he sees flashes of a darkened icy landscape… several tall blue people with menacing red eyes… and Thor summoning lightning and smashing the ground with all that power… Clint’s eyes snap open and he tries to sit up… but there is a fat Siamese cat sitting on his chest.

“What the hell?” Clint mutters as he eyes the cat eyeing him. Suddenly, hands pick up the fat cat.

“Oh, Mr. Wigglesworth… you must leave our newest guest be… even though he has taken your spot it seems.” An older woman says as she takes the cat away. Clint sits up and wipes his hand down the front of his shirt to dislodge any stray cat hair.

“So you’re Dr. Foster’s mother? Thanks for letting me spend the next week here. I promise you won’t even notice I’m here.” Clint says nicely as he moves to sit properly now on the couch. This older woman looks to be her late forties to early fifties and he can tell Jane takes after her looks wise as well as height wise. Her brown hair is streaked silver and cut to shoulder length… and she scrutinizes Clint over the thin rims of her glasses. He lowers his head instinctively feeling like a teenager again as he asks his girlfriend’s mother to take her daughter out to Homecoming… God! This is awkward!

“Yes… I am Jane’s mother.” She replies in her cultured voice as she continues to eye him. “And I can tell you didn’t go to college with my daughter.” Clint is about to say something but the older woman lifts a finger and he stills. “You look to be in your mid-thirties… much like that blonde boy, Thor.” Jane’s mom adds and looks to the empty doorway and the stairs briefly. “But he’s actually much older than that and I wish my daughter would leave off with this whole lot of the weird science business… alien gods and Avengers nonsense… but she won’t listen to me, her own mother, so here we are. You, some agent of some world security organization, and me, a concerned mother. Tell me… Agent… what am I supposed to do when my only daughter gets herself killed because of some crazy scheme of some villainous sort?” Clint opens his mouth to says something but nothing comes to mind… he has been contemplating the same thing in regards to his own family in the wake of the Battle of New York. Clint then has his answer as he squares his shoulders and looks Jane’s mother right in the eye…

“Your daughter is one of the smartest people I’ve met… and she also knows how to handle herself around danger.” Clint starts then stands. “The world needs Jane Foster and it seems so does a certain Prince of an Alien World. Let’s not fault her for all that.” Clint finishes with a small smile and walks past Jane’s mother to head into the kitchen area where he can smell coffee brewing.

“Oh thank god it isn’t tea.” Clint mutters as he walks in to find Darcy staring at the coffee maker.

“Ya know they drink other things over here besides tea.” Darcy quips with a smirk as she looks up at Clint. He shakes his head her as he gets a mug out of the cupboard.

“I am not about to get into an argument with a college kid who is still in her pajamas.” Clint says with a smile as he scoops a few spoonfuls of sugar into his mug. Darcy puts her hands to her hips but Clint doesn’t let her speak. “I know, I know… ‘it’s all the rage’ or whatever you young ‘uns’ say now a days. The fact of the matter is… you care about Jane. She’s your friend. Otherwise you wouldn’t have put up with her for this long. Excuse me, Miss.” Clint adds as he has something of a ‘heart-to-heart’ with Darcy then makes his move on the coffee pot.

“You’re right.” Darcy says and all her flustered near anger washes away as his words sink in. “She is my friend… and I’ve been there to help her keep moving after New Mexico… though now that Thor is back… and it seems like he is going to actually stick around this time… I feel like she can get out of the rut she has been stuck in. This whole Convergence thing has been a real godsend too.” Darcy then says and nods her head.

“Thor missed her, too. Hell, he wouldn’t shut up about her after we caught Loki in New York.” Clint says and takes a test sip of his hot coffee after blowing on it for a few seconds. Suddenly, his cellphone rings and Clint puts his mug down to dig the device out of his pocket. It’s S.H.I.E.L.D. the London base that is. “And that’s work.” He then walks away with his mug in his left hand and phone in his right.

“This is Barton.” Clint says as he goes into the empty solar.

“Ah, excellent…Agent Barton, we need you to come in to the office immediately… and it is required that you bring the Thunder God as well.” The male voice on the other end says with a lilted accent.

“Okay… let me get him up and moving and we’ll be down asap.” Barton says.

“There is no need for transport. A marked vehicle is on its way to you now… you have ten minutes.” The British agent says and the call ends. Clint groans at how polite the British agents are in their impoliteness.

“Thor!” Clint shouts as he hurries up the stairs. “Come on, big guy! We’ve been summoned!” Clint then adds as he makes the landing and knocks on the small bedroom’s door.

“There is no need to shout, Barton. I am awake.” Thor says as he comes out of the bathroom wearing nothing but a towel. Clint is taken aback for a split second but recovers and groans.

“Hurry, we’ve less than ten minutes before the British S.H.I.E.L.D. agents arrive with transport to the London base.” Clint says as he opens the door and gestures for Thor to hurry.

“Very well.” Thor says with a shrug of his shoulders and heads into the bedroom which seems even smaller with him inside it. Clint shuts the door as Thor dresses.

“Finally.” Clint says as Thor comes back out five minutes later. He goes inside and grabs his bag with his bow and uniform (just in case) then they head down stairs and out the door… ready for whatever awaits them this day.

Chapter Text

As they go down the short flight of stone steps, Clint and Thor hop into a black SUV with a clear S.H.I.E.L.D. logo on the side. They go down the winding (fairly narrow) streets until they reach the heart of London arriving… oddly… at the Palace of Westminster. Thor looks around curiously whilst Clint is unfazed. They are lead to the Big Ben Clock tower. Once inside they go through a second security check area and are quickly greeted by a man and a woman who are… shall we say… dressed in odd, yet familiar like, uniforms.

“Greetings and welcome to the Watchtower.” The man says in his polite somewhat deep voice. His outfit is reminiscent of Steve’s Captain America uniform… only this guy’s is white from the chest up, deep blue from the chest down, and finally there is the red double cross making this man’s uniform look very much like the British flag. He has his white and red striped helmet under his left arm as he shakes hands with Clint then Thor. This guy’s hair is medium brown with golden highlights frosting the spiked tips and his blue eyes are piercing with an odd indigo tint around the outer edge Clint notices. “I’m Brian Braddock… a.k.a. Captain Britain… and this lovely lady is-”

“Agent Betsy Braddock… a.k.a. Psylocke.” The beautiful woman with purple streaked wavy black hair says cutting her brother off quickly. Her eyes are hardened to warrant no argument from the men… they are a striking pale bluish violet color ringed with indigo… and they seem to peer down into the depths of your soul. Clint notes that her outfit is a catsuit uniform, like Natasha’s only it is a really dark royal purple in color and there are ‘holes’ at her shoulders and smaller ones that go down her upper arms. The same is true on the outsides of her upper thighs and at the sides of her waist revealing the black nanomesh armor underneath. The zipper stops just under her chest leaving the purple tank top underneath exposed. The black belt around her waist has a silver buckle with a butterfly and a single sword over it pointing down.

“Come there isn’t much time to brief you… so I suggest if you have your suits then suit up.” She says as she leads them to a sleek modern looking elevator. They enter and go… down instead of up. They soon find themselves in a vast underground complex and hurry down the halls to the closest briefing room. Thor is in his ‘down-graded’ armor (basically no flowy red cape and a little less silver metal bits). Clint is allowed a few minutes to suit up then he and Thor along with Captain Britain and Psylocke enter the briefing room. Once inside they are greeted by the only woman who sat on the S.H.I.E.L.D. World Council, Elizabeth Hawley, and a young twenty-something man of Indian decent slender of frame and long of limb… he is very pretty and delicate looking.

“Greetings Agent Barton and Prince Thor. I am the Head of MI-7 which supports Project Excalibur… here I am known as The Lady of the Lake and I have asked you both here for an urgent reason. Roger.” Lady Hawley starts from her seated position at the head of the long conference table and the young man standing next to her clicks a button on a small remote causing the lights to dim and the projector to display a video on the white wall between her and the two Avengers.

“Odin’s Beard! That is a Jarlsnipe of Jotunheim!” Thor exclaims at the video of the big, blue beast trudging around through London’s docks along the south side of the River Thames. Clint notices the Indian boy named Roger sneaking several peeks towards Thor. The corner of Clint’s mouth twitches a little in amusement at the thought of this boy being either intimidated or infatuated with Thor. The Archer is leaning towards the latter.

“It showed up during the Dark Elf Invasion… and we’ve managed to set up a barricade to keep it in Millwall Park on the Isle of Dogs… but it escaped early this morning causing havoc as it makes its way up towards the Canary Wharf area on London’s East side.” Lady Hawley says with a sigh. “It is causing problems. Eliminate this threat at once if containment is not an option.” The older woman commands and all save for Thor nod their heads. He just grips his hammer’s shaft tightly and frowns.

“I will have two other members join your ranks for this venture… Agent Roger Patel here will be joining you as Head Technician.” Lady Hawley says and gestures to the twenty-two year old Indian boy. Roger smiles shyly and nods his head in compliance. Lady Hawley presses a button on the com-device in the center of the table. “Agent Falsworth, please come in.” She says and as soon as her finger lifts from the button, the door opens and in walks a handsome blonde man, tall by human standards but slightly shorter when compared to Thor. Well muscled… a fighter from the looks of him… dressed in a dark blue tactical uniform much like Captain America’s with a dark red double cross on his front. He looks like a more subdued version of the British flag.

“Agent Bradley J. Falsworth reporting for duty, ma’am.” The blonde agent says as he salutes in the manner of a British soldier then stands at attention ready for orders. Roger Patel eyes this new man and ducks his head to hide behind his open laptop. The growing blush on Agent Patel’s mocha cheeks does not escape Clint’s sharp eyes. ‘Yep, he’s gay.’ Clint thinks as he looks towards Lady Hawley next.

 

“Agent Falsworth here is the best fieldman we’ve got. He is an expert marksman and hand-to-hand combatant. He even has medical training. Agent Patel is quite savvy with computers and tech. He has invented some of our field equipment and has been tracking this… Jarlsnipe… through the CCTV cameras set up throughout London. Both of these men are also a part of Team Excalibur.” Lady Hawley says introducing the new man to Clint and Thor as well as the Indian boy next to her. Roger Patel then clears his throat and leans forward to work the keys on his laptop. This showcases his backside to both Thor and Falsworth… who seems to be the only one willing to let his eyes wander. Clint raises a brow at that.

“Yes… this beastie has been wandering around the docks here for the last couple of hours… distracted, it seems… but then it started moving north through Canary Wharf heading towards… Limehouse then Stepney. O, Blue Boy seems to want to go west badly.” Roger says as a GoogleEarth map shows up on the screen and shows the Jarlsnipe’s progress with bright blue dots. Sure enough, it is traveling consistently west… and its path leads right through London’s East Side, heading towards Whitechapel one of the most densely populated areas in the city.

“Enough of these picture shows!” Thor says and steps forward to wave his left hand at the laptop. Roger stops and eyes the big blonde man, awestruck for a moment at the close proximity… then he snaps out of it.

“Yes! Let’s go now.” Roger agrees to Thor’s call to haste as he picks up his laptop and flips the screen to turn it into a tablet. The sat image of London’s East side is still clearly projecting on the wall. Bradley Falsworth looks thoughtful the snaps out of it.

“We could lure it or push it towards the Tobacco Dock area.” Falsworth says as he moves between Thor and Roger… pointing his gloved hand at the large industrial area close to the Thames located part way between Stepney and Whitechapel.

“That’s a good plan. Tobacco Dock has a nice open area and several containers we can use to block the creature in.” Captain Britain says in agreement to the proposed plan from his fellow teammate.

“Transport is ready to leave when you all are.” Lady Hawley says and stands from her seat at the table. Roger taps a button on his screen then clicks the remote. The projector shuts off and the lights come back up.

“About time we got this party started.” Clint mutters under his breath as this team they find themselves in walks briskly down the hall to the lifts.

“Just stay sharp and do everything that you can to contain the beast. I mean to take it home.” Thor says sternly as they all enter the first available lift.

“Wait? What?” Clint says puzzled.

“Yes, elaborate, Thor.” Psylocke says as her piercing gaze turns to the Thunderer. Thor blinks but holds his stern demeanor as everyone looks to him now.

“That Jarlsnipe is not of this Realm… I am certain it is looking for a cooler clime and so I mean to send it to one. Back to its home Realm… Jotunheim.” Thor explains firmly.

“Like sending a lost puppy home.” Roger says with a shy smile as he clutches his laptop to his chest and eyes Thor dreamily.

“What about those Neo-Pagan terrorists? The ones burning messages in the streets of Oslo? Are you going to take them home with you, too?” Falsworth says gruffly to Thor.

“I know not of this group you speak.” Thor says sounding a little puzzled.

“Maybe you should pay them a visit and straighten them out before they kill more people.” Bradley says heatedly and is the first to leave the lift as the doors open. Everyone else files out leaving Thor standing there. He and Clint are the last to exit.

“What is his problem?” Thor questions as he and Clint walk side by side.

“He’s a little jealous.” Clint comments with a knowing smirk. Thor halts and looks at his fellow Avenger confused. Clint stops and looks back.

“I have given him no reason to feel such.” Thor says and then Roger comes hurrying back to Thor’s side.

“Come with me!” The young man says excitedly as he grins merrily up at the towering blonde Norse god. “You are our resident expert on this beastie and I have a few questions for you as we fly over to White Chapel.” Roger then adds as he takes Thor’s free hand and tugs the big blonde along. Clint just chuckles at Thor and shakes his head as they make their way quickly to a steel blue quinjet, British style of course.

 

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People run and scream in the Shadewell area as the Jarlsnipe roars and rams into vehicles as it dashes along Commercial Road. The traffic here may not be as dense as it is in Central London around this time… but there are still several vehicles moving (or rather trying to move) down the busy roadway.

A woman in her car is forced to slow down on the usually swift paced road. She huffs and cusses under her breath wondering what could be the cause of the near-traffic jam… then she looks in the rearview mirror and screams as a massive blue monster comes crushing up behind knocking cars and trucks out of the way.

‘Move!’ The woman suddenly ‘feels’ the impression in her mind.

“What about ma baby?” The woman then says to herself as she fumbles with her seat belt and her two year old son starts crying in the backseat… then the huge blue monster is barreling into her car… flipping it over… but it seems to catch and then move back to correct itself. The woman is dazed as her car bounces for a few seconds and then suddenly a man in a white and blue union jack outfit flies past moving to catch up with the monster.

The Jarlsnipe slows as it comes to a rather clear section of road… and it halts completely when Thor impacts with the pavement a few dozen yards ahead of it. The road craters and some dust is kicked up which settles quickly as Thor throws his hammer and strikes the blue beast in its thickly muscled shoulder.

“Come and get me!” Thor shouts at the Jarlsnipe… the creature snarls hatefully and glares at Thor with blood red eyes. “That’s it!” Thor yells as the beast leaps at him and he leaps away moving south down a side street named Cannon Street Road. It is a straight shot but the Jarlsnipe manages to swat at Thor and knock him onto some train tracks… Thor shakes his head as he comes to a stop in the shrub line along these tracks. He then watches the Jarlsnipe stalk towards him. Thor feels around blindly for his hammer thinking it must be within reach… but it isn’t!

The blue beast readies to jump… then there is the horn of a train, the screech of metal, and the Jarlsnipe is struck and carried east down the tracks several hundred yards! A second after, Mjolnir finds Thor’s waiting hand.

“What is the status of the target?” Captain Britain asks over the comlink.

“Taking the train.” Thor says as he watches the long silver transport continue to move down the tracks… though it is stopping.

“Bloody hell.” Captain Britain cusses under his breath as he flies up higher over the roadway to look at the tracks just south of his position.

“I’ve got this.” Union Jack says into his comlink as he jumps from the ground to kick off a wall and flip over a chainlink fence. He dashes across the tracks and watches as the train comes to a stop still several yards west of his position. The Jarlsnipe continues its forward momentum and gets thrown from the front. Union Jack pulls out one his favorite guns… his Desert Eagle .50. Union Jack takes aim and empties his clip into the beast’s head. The high caliber bullets don’t even penetrate the blue skin… but they do get the Jarlsnipe’s attention and the blue monster rushes after Union Jack.

After quickly changing clips, Union Jack is running through the backlots and across patches of green for several hundred yards until he encounters a tall stone wall. Thinking fast, the former athlete springs off of the wall then bounds off of a tree lining the street along the outside of the wall. He flips over and into lush green gardens that are just starting to bloom as Spring makes itself known this early in March.

Union Jack rolls forward in a somersault then springs to his feet and hurries across the green grass meanwhile, the huge Jarlsnipe crushes through the stone wall and stops only to shake off the rubble. It then quickly resumes the chase. Union Jack spins around quickly as he closes in on the church… St. George’s… fitting since Bradley is a human (an exceptional one) trying to defeat a monster. He fires a couple of shots that strike the beast right between the eyes. It roars and rages then dashes after the target of its fury.

Bradley feels like he’s about to win as he manages to go through the gate in the wall and slip out to the street, but it is short lived as the Jarlsnipe bursts through the stone wall and Union Jack is hit in the thigh with a sharp shard of stone. The creature shakes itself off in the middle of the street and roars as it notices the prone soldier in the British flag uniform.

“Bollocks.” Bradley grumbles as he clutches at his injured thigh and watches the huge creature come barreling in… he pulls out his Desert Eagle and his Glock then yells and fires away. The bullets impact the blue skin causing it to ripple from the hits but they do not pierce the frosty flesh. Soon there is the repeated click, click, click from the empty guns and the grandson of James Montgomery Falsworth, Howling Commando… is about to die.

Thor comes flying in at the last second and impacts the Jarlsnipe with a clothesline maneuver pushing the beast back. The god and the monster struggle then Thor leads the beast away to the Tobacco Dock which is just south of the street they are on.

“Bloody hell.” Bradley swears as he huffs out and lays back flat on the street for a minute. Soon Psylocke and Roger come repelling down from the quinjet.

“You’re going to be okay, Bradley.” Psylocke says as she looks over the wound. It is a graze, a flesh wound. “This may require some stitches though.”

“Oh that’s a relief, Love.” Bradley says lightly then grimaces when Psylocke applies a thick gauze from the medkit she brought. “Looks like I’ll have a new scar to show the boys.” Bradley then groans out as he hisses in pain from the pressure being added. Psylocke then gets that spaced out look in her eerie eyes and she snaps her head towards the Tobacco Dock area.

“Roger! Hold the gaze to this wound. I must go and assist the others.” Psylocke says seriously and Roger nods his head after tossing some emergency flares down on either lane of the road. He kneels down next to Union Jack as Psylocke stands and hurries off.

“Th-that’s a-a lot of blood.” Roger stutters out and swallows nervously as he holds the now reddened gauze to the wound. Bradley looks down and pulls his goggles up to inspect the wound on his right thigh.

“Dammit all. Fuck me.” Bradley cusses and hisses in pain as he sits up.

“No! You need to lie still or this wound will bleed out!” Roger says in near panic as he keeps one hand to the wound and pushes Union Jack down with the other. Bradley groans out in frustration but does as he is told. Roger then looks at the red gauze as panic starts to set in. “What do I do? Oh, what do I do?”

“Take your belt off.” Union Jack says seriously and nods his head towards Roger’s waist. Roger’s eyes go wide and he looks the injured man in the eyes.

“Okay.” Roger says and starts to take his belt off. Bradley holds the soiled gauze in place as he watches the lithe, young man do as he is told… Roger then sits back on his heels and unbuckles his belt. Bradley watches as the black leather comes free of the beige dress pants. Roger always dresses so prim and proper… it just adds to his beauty. “Now what?” Roger asks as he holds the belt in one hand and places the other over Union Jack’s gloved hand on the wound.

“Change this gauze then wrap that leather bit around my thigh just over the injury, Gorgeous.” Union Jack says as he hisses out in discomfort. Roger digs in his emergency medkit for more gauze and changes the dressing. “It will act as a tourniquet to will slow the blood loss, Love.” Union Jack then adds and rests his helmeted head back against the pavement. Roger blinks rapidly as he processes what his teammate has just told him.

“Okay. Hold this.” Roger says and grabs Bradley’s gloved hand and presses it to the new bandaging. Roger then wraps the belt around Union Jack’s thigh just above the bandage twice before pulling tight and buckling it. Bradley grunts out at the pressure to his leg and the stretch to his wound. He bites his lower lip to focus through the pain.

“Bloody hell.” Union Jack mutters out.

“Is that too tight?” Roger asks with some panicked concern that he has done it wrong and soon his slender hands are on the belt. Bradley’s gloved hand closes over Roger’s deft fingers and halts him from unbuckling it.

“No, Love… that’s perfectly fine.” Bradley groans out. Roger sighs in relief and wipes his sweaty brow with back of his right forearm. “There is one more thing you can do you for me, Love.” Union Jack then says to make conversation and Roger looks to his helmed and masked teammate puzzled and a little scared.

“A-anything.” Roger stutters out nervously.

“You need to accompany me out for dinner once this mess is over.” Union Jack says and offers a goofy smile to the pretty Indian boy. Roger’s mocha cheeks flush and he gently bites at his lower lip.

“But you’re injured.” Roger then says and looks nervously to his belt wrapped around the injured man’s leg.

“Bollocks. That won’t stop me from taking you out for the evening.” Bradley says and reaches up with his right hand to gently grip Roger’s left forearm. He rubs his thumb and smiles at the young man. Roger smiles shyly back and then looks down at the hand on his white dress shirt… Union Jack is leaving bloody prints all over the crisp, white fabric.

“You’re sweet… but you are such an idiot for putting yourself in danger like you did.” Roger admonishes as he gives a little pout. Union Jack just chuckles and shakes his helmeted head at the young man.

“You’re too cute.” Union Jack says smiling.

“And you are getting my clean shirt all bloody.” Roger then says and rolls his dark brown eyes at his injured teammate who just asked him out on a date.

“Oh… sorry.” Union Jack says a bit teasingly and starts to remove his hand.

“You can make up for your lack of forethought and manners by waiting until you are healed up before we go anywhere.” Roger then says firmly but a small smile graces his full lips.

“I suppose that’s reasonable.” Union Jack grumbles out as he bends the knee of his injured leg to elevate the wound then he looks up at Roger with wounded puppy eyes. “It would be nice if you nursed me back to health though.”

“Don’t push your luck, Mister.” Roger says firmly as he checks the wound. “But… maybe I will pop in to check on you every so often… make certain you aren’t aggravating that leg of yours.” The Indian boy then says with a small smile and a flush in his mocha cheeks.

 

___________

Hawkeye fires an arrow with an explosive tip… it impacts and detonates right in front of the Jarlsnipe. The sudden upshot of gravel and sand startles the beast and causes it to halt its forward movement… but the creature only stays still for a second before it is off again.

“Damn. There’s gotta be a way to keep this thing still long enough to contain it.” Hawkeye says into his comlink.

“I just need a second.” Captain Britain says smoothly over the communications line. Hawkeye watches to his right from high up in his perch on a crane as the British Captain comes flying up into the air. He raises his gloved hands and a dump truck plus a shipping container come soaring up to float beside him.

“Definitely not like our Cap.” Hawkeye mutters under his breath then readies two explosive tipped arrows. “Say the word, Brit.” Hawkeye says as he notches and draws the two arrows back. He watches closely as Thor swats at the huge blue creature in the middle of the football field sized flat gravel pit area.

“Word.” Captain Britain says with an amused tone and Hawkeye fires the arrows. They hit the sandy gravel ground and stick in just as Thor passes them. The Thunderer notices them and punches forward with his hammer to knock the Jarlsnipe back. Thor then leaps away backwards and Hawkeye hits the button on his bow handle.

BOOM!! BOOM!!

The Jarlsnipe is stunned and blinded by the explosions temporarily. The dump truck comes down immediately… the bed inverted to contain the creature… then the container comes swooping in. The dump truck moves tilting nose up as it moves to scoop the beast into the large metal box… but the Jarlsnipe has other ideas.

Its massive forearms come up and the huge clawed hands grab the edge of the shipping container. It then braces itself and scrambles up and away from the trap. As the dump truck’s bed and the mouth of the container meet, the Jarlsnipe lands on the gravelly ground… roaring and slamming its clubbed and spiked tail about.

“Uh oh.” Captain Britain says as he hovers over the site several feet in the air and notes how the creature has spotted him. The Jarlsnipe leaps into the air but misses because it isn’t high enough. Captain Britain doesn’t stay in the area too long. He flies away backwards towards Hawkeye’s crane. Only too late does he realize where he is heading and the beast starts climbing.

“Ah hell.” Hawkeye says as he notches a regular arrow. Draws. Aims down. Fires. The arrow skips off the thick skin. Another… this time he uses an arrow with a smoke screen… it hits the beast in the face and deploys the smelly smoke. The Jarlsnipe blinks and shakes its head… it even slathers and runs it large purplish tongue along its rows of sharp teeth. Not a very friendly sight to see. Then the beast starts climbing in earnest as it notices Clint and roars. “Fuck me!” Clint shouts and leaps from the top of the crane arm just as the Jarlsnipe makes it up there and swipes at him.

Clint twists in midair dodging the swipe from the spiked tail club then he fires off his grapple arrow. The line goes taught as it connects lower on the crane arm and Clint swings wide and continues down more controlled. He hits the ground running and releases the line as the crane arm comes crashing down behind him.

The Jarlsnipe claws at the ground and squirms under the wreckage of twisted metal… it will be free soon. Hawkeye turns and watches in horror as the thing gets free and jumps at him. Thor hits it from above and slams it into the ground giving the Archer enough time to run away. The Jarlsnipe rears up and throws Thor backwards… but as it comes down, it comes face to face with someone new.

Psylocke slides in on the gravel surface and readies her right fist for the coming punch… the air around that fist shimmers and flickers with purple energy and sparkles. The huge beast then comes forwards to land on its fore limbs. Psylocke takes her chance… she leaps up and impacts the Jarlsnipe in the lower jaw. She transfers the built up psionic energy to the monster and the beast falters… stunned it rears back up on hind legs but then wobbles and falls backwards. The shipping container comes in and scoops it up. Captain Britain lands on top of the container and gestures with his hands… the doors swing to a close and the bolts slide into place locking the Jarlsnipe within.

“That won’t hold that thing when it wakes up.” Clint says as he walks up and nods his head at the container. Thor says nothing as he strolls over to the doors summoning lightning as he goes and then discharging it at the seams which spot weld shut sealing the creature within.

“That will hold it for now.” Thor says as he looks at everyone gathered… Hawkeye and Psylocke stand close by then Captain Britain comes down slowly to land next to his sister. “Thank you all for helping in capturing this creature… now I must return it to its home Realm. Heimdall…” Thor starts then looks up as he says the Gatekeeper’s name. The multihued light comes down upon the container accompanied by the rumble of thunder…

“Wait! Thor!” Captain Britain says as he reaches forward but Psylocke holds him fast as Thor jumps into the light beam as well and in seconds the Thunderer and the container holding the big, blue monster are gone. “Dammit.” Brian then cusses under his breath.

“It’s okay… the beast is gone and we need not worry anymore, Brother.” Psylocke then says as she pats Captain Britain on the shoulder. He sighs.

“It would’ve been nice to study the beastie more thoroughly for a day or two before he took it back.” Brian then says as the three walk away from the scorched ground. Soon black SUVs and sedans roll up with flashing blue and white lights and the S.H.I.E.L.D. eagle logo clearly visible on the front doors.

“I need to go check on Bradley. He was hurt bad and poor Roger had to act as First Responder. Poor boy was terrified… but you gents needed my help more and it was a good thing I showed up when I did… or you lot would still be fighting that bloody creature as we speak.” Psylocke says and then rushes off. Clint chuckles whilst Brian shakes his head.

“Ya know…” Clint starts giving a wide smile.

“Don’t say it.” Brian says seriously but soon a smirk tugs at the corner of his mouth.

“She’s kinda right.” Clint finishes. Brian looks at the Archer and glares. Clint then feels an invisible push to his shoulder but the British Captain didn’t lift a hand. He just chuckles and shakes his head at the Brit.