Chapter 1: Prologue
How do we explain the notion of time?
Science says its the succession from the past through the present to the future. That it’s an inexorable force. Nothing can break the passage of time… But is it really? Can nothing stop the grains of sand from falling to the bottom? Make the hands of the clock stop moving and go backwards?
And how long is forever? Is it limited to just someone’s span of life? Or there’s more? A life after death maybe?
Some considers time as a gift and for others it’s a curse.
Time is cruel, it dwindles the light from the eyes of the most hopeful man, steals the brightness of his smile.
Time is magnanimous, it gives the heartless assassin a heart, a heart that loves too much, hurts too much, bleeds too much.
…and sometimes it takes the form of a man, giving him the power to change the history.
Chapter 2: In the Still of the Night, Part-1
1. Natasha in this story was born in 1938 in Stalingrad. The Black Widow Serum stopped her ageing and something happen during their fight against Thanos that gave her superhealing ;) I'm not saying what just yet.
2. After the Infinity War Tony re-programmed JARVIS as the ARC's AI.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Command Center, Central Bridge, 5th level of ARC.
NY Time- 19:43, 31/12/2039.
Agent Bucky Barnes was standing in front of the hexagonal display platform with his arms crossed. His jaw was clenched in annoyance as his eyes processed the flashing data on the display. He looked not a day older than forty.
ARC, Avengers main base of operation, was a space station on Earth’s orbit. The command center was on the 5th level, a D shaped room with the display monitor dominating the center. Further ahead, along the long curved window were six workstations occupied by personnel- highly skilled technical staffs, all wearing the same black and blue uniform with the Avengers insignia. Their finger flying urgently over the complicated looking keyboard while figures, numbers and data flashes by on their monitors.
Outside it was a beautiful starry night, the stars sparkled brighter than what we can from Earth but the panoramic view went unseen by the occupants of the room as the tension in the air thickened.
That day was proving to be one of those- terrible horrible not good very bad days for Bucky starting this morning when the council suspended him from field duty only because he slept with a suspect. After few hours Natasha left for Geneva, she was to present the ‘Superhuman Right Accord’- another one of her efforts to bring peace between human and super powered beings, at UN in front of all the World leaders that day so she had to leave him in charge. As soon as she she left all hell broke lose- A bomb threat in London, a terrorist attack in New Zealand, Drug dealing in Columbia, another terrorist attack in France, a shoot-out in Brazil, one of the Axis Mundi member was seen in New York, arms dealing in Mexico. So all in all he had to send all the squad members left, right and center, because the New Avengers were already on missions- some on Earth and some on other planets. And then to put the cherry on the top, three hours ago a village full of people dissapared from a small Caribbean Island. Witnesses claim a huge man in a purple hood abducted them and took them in a ship towards the east. The description matches the Hate-Monger, who was assumed dead, up until now. The response team, Next Avengers left immediately.
His day turned terrible to horrible when the ARC lost all contact with them, all five of them.
But that was 20 minutes ago. Twenty minutes ago he assumed it was just a technical glitch and they will be able to establish connection with them in no time. Shit really hit the fan when five minutes ago the whole space station went to lock-down mode, that included collapsing all communication channels.
They were stranded and he was in shit load of trouble. He wouldn’t blame Natasha if she decided to cut him to pieces and feed those pieces to her cat. How did she handle this everyday without losing her mind is beyond him. She never complain, never shouted when someone makes mistake. Forget shouting he has never heard her raise her voice at anyone, maybe because she never needed to, her one look is enough to make her Agent’s and subordinates to be on their toes, one smile and anyone will happily give their life for her. She was the epitome of calm, cool, collected, compassionate-
“Barnes-san, you should see this.” The voice cut through his Natasha praising, the speaker was a short Japanese engineer, who’s name he can’t remember at the moment, something with an A …or was it a H? Bucky reached him in three strides. “I thought the programming pattern that initiated the Lock-Down was kinda familier so I compared it with our other programmings…”
“I think I know who is behind this.”
“That asshole!! I’m sure he is pulling a new year prank.”
“Īe. Not Stark-sama, I said Stark-chan. Miss Stark.”
“What?! She can’t do that, she doesn’t have the authority to do something like this.”
“That maybe true but she is the head of ARC’s R&D. She will know all the Back-Doors of the security programs she has upgraded herself and there’s more. JARVIS is off line too.”
Now he was scared. Even if the Jr. Stark wasn’t one of his favorite person he knew she won’t do this lightly. She have better sense than her father.
“This is useless, I’m going after them.”
“Sir, you do know what Lock-Down means right?” Another personnel stopped him on his tracks, “No one comes in , no one goes out. Both docking and undocking machanism are locked too.”
“What about the Gazebo?”
“The Gazebo won’t even power up. We have to wait until Director Romanoff is back.”
“Fuck!!” Think Bucky, there must be another way. “Can’t we start the Gazebo manually?” His voice sounded desperate but he really didn’t care.
“We can-” the lights, computers and all other electrical equipments flickered. “What the…”
“Now what?” No answer. A team of World’s top scholers, who always have answers to every questions looked speechless and unsure. What will they say, that first time in ARC’s history they are facing a power failure? Which never happened in last eighteen years.
“This can not be good.” Someone muttered.
“Kami-sama, help us.”
And then there was a power surge. The lights were too bright and machines making strange noises. Then everything went silent like the calm before the storm.
“GET DOWN!!!” He jumped to cover as many of them as he could.
Green lightnings bolted in different directions outside the window.
Supersonic shock waves rolled down the endless corridors of ARC, leaving a trail of destruction in its walk.
The Avengers HQ engulfed into darkness.
Jura Mountains, Switzerland.
Local time- 00:45, 01/01/2040.
The restless feeling she had been feeling all day was at its peak right now, the small space of the car was making it worse. Her cramping muscles were giving her a wave of nausea and if she was any other person she would have been puking by now.
But she wasn’t any other person, she was the Black Widow and Black Widow’s didn’t lose control.
Putting the car on auto-drive she rested her head on the backrest and shut her eyes. She has been awake over fourty hours and there were another forty minutes before she reached her destination.
She was on her way from Geneva to a small cabin in Jura Mountains which contains a Gazebo- her ride to the headquarter, in its basement.
After the seminar she had to stay for the new year party at the request of the Secretary General of UN. As if that will make up for it’s members foolishness. Those idiots think by provoking fear they can control the enhanced humen. She fears if someone didn’t intervene to mend the gap between human and superhumen, this is gonna end in a war and the only outcome she could foresee is the human extinction.
A dystopian future.
Anti-human groups are raising in number and so did the Anti –mutant groups and Hydra is behind both groups. Now their atrocities were limited to small riots here and little rampage there; one group torturing and murdering the other have become a day to day incident, but its only a matter of time before it takes the form of a international crisis.
She suppressed a sigh and opened her eyes. It was pointless, sleep never came unless she was exhausted beyond words and even then she couldn’t escape the nightmares.
The car was passing a cliff road and with the snow flurries in the equation it wasn’t the safest road. In addition the forecast predicted a snowstorm in that particular area during the dawn.
Her perfect eyebrows knitted as she frowned in concern. Wind was picking up speed and she had a feeling the storm will hit sooner than predicted. Suddenly the temperature dropped inside the car making her shivered in her trench coat.
She checked the heater, it wasn’t working.
Taking the red shawl from the passenger seat she carefully wrapped it around her neck like a scarf. Being careful was necessary because it was a gift from her son and she treasured every gift James gave her, each and every one of them, let it be the cards with stick figures he gave her at three, the stones he found in the forest or the cat he rescued and thought it was a perfect mothers day gift. Although she hardly had any time for her son let alone for a cat, she accepted it happily.
Thinking about James her heart lurched again.
I am over reacting. He is safe and I’ll see him just as soon I reach ARC.
She tried to reassure herself but the uncomfortable feeling remained. Pushing her thoughts in a corner she decided to took over the wheels and that’s when she realized the heater wasn’t the only malfunctioning part of the car. It was stuck in auto-drive mode, no matter what command she typed the car’s AI was overulling the command.
She had seen too many weird shit throughout her long existence and everything inside her yelled this was another one of those shits.
She reached for the passenger side door because the driver side door could easily means a 380 feet plummet to her death. But as soon as she touched the handle a bunch of wires shoots from the door panel and wrapped around her left wrist.
Dizzying pain. Like its draining all her energy.
She tried to pull her hand away but they wires only tightened around her wrist.
White spots starts forming in front of her eyes but her superhealing was keeping her conscious.
Her body was trying its best to produced and replace the lost energy but for how long she didn’t know.
She moved her free hand behind her neck through the space between the collar of her black trench coat and her neck, reached inside to the metallic part of her dress where she had hidden her small Vibranium knife.
Gathering every ounce of energy she had left she hit the bundle of wires and to her relief they snaked back into the panel, even the part around her hand dropped and assimilated with the rest.
When her vision cleared she found that the car’s gray body was now black with yellow circuits painted on them.
She knew exactly what had possessed her car.
But before she can apprehend the situation any further the car went off of the cliff.
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