Clint fought with the controls cursing under his breath as Jackson tried to keep the weapons firing in the seat next to him. The tiny quinjet was bucking and diving as Clint tried to lose the Shield operatives that were trying to kill them. He threw the jet into a steep dive as the targeting system announced yet another lock, ‘Please let this work.’ he prayed sending it out to every deity he could think of.
After Loki he had been grounded for almost a full year while they picked his brain with every telepath and psych they could find while sending him through basic training all over again. He had jumped at the chance to get away from the torture sessions when Fury offered to send him on a low level surveillance run in Africa. Two months in the middle of the dessert with nothing but a five man team and no extraction, it had sounded like heaven at the time, anything to get away from the constant reminders of the attack and the people he had killed or lost.
Most of the team was young and arrogant, proud to have been chosen by Shield from their alphabet soup agency. All of them looked at Clint with a toxic mixture of awe and fear that drove him from any extra interaction. The only one he could stand was Jackson, their communications officer. He was former a former Army Ranger who’d specialized in telecommunications and technology.
Clint had sided up to the man as the rest of the team huddled to one side supposedly talking about the sudden black out with Shield. Jackson was fighting to get back in touch with the local base but hadn’t heard anything after an emergency broadcast had come through asking all Shield members to report to the nearest base.
“Jackson.” Clint said softly, sliding up to the other man so that his body blocked the view of the other group.
“Yeah?” the dark haired man said, shifting in his seat as his fingers fiddled with a receiver.
“Act like you’re trying to contact Shield but be ready to move. I don’t like how things are looking.” Clint said sliding a handgun under a small pile of maps next to Jackson’s left hand.
“Yeah, I’ll move on your signal.”
“I’m hoping this is just me being paranoid. Keep an eye out.”
Clint didn’t hesitate when the first weapon was leveled, he shot to kill. When it was over one of his former team lay gasping for air and the rest lay dead. Jackson cursed softly as he put pressure on a graze to one thigh while Clint stalked over to where Smith lay fighting to breath.
“Why, Smith? What the fuck did I ever do to you?”
“Nothing, you’re an ant beneath our boots.” Smith gasped blood staining his teeth in a feral grin, “Hail Hydra.”
“Fuck.” Clint snarled as the man spat out a mouthful of blood and died.
“I worked with Smith for over two years, Barton, longer with some of the others here. They were members of Shield.”
“They might have been Shield but they answered to Hydra. They were moles in the system and probably not the only ones.” Clint said scrubbing a hand roughly through his hair.
“Who’s Hydra exactly?”
“An old enemy that is supposed to be dead.”
“We need to warn the base.”
“They already know. Why do you think all the communications went down? Hydra stepped into the light and took out Shield.”
“If Shield’s gone where do we go?”
“We still have the quinjet.” Clint said slowly, “We need to get to an unaffiliated base, get ahold of the Avengers, Fury, someone at the top level who knows what’s going on.”
“Alright,” Jackson said starting to gather up gear.
“What?! Why? We might need it. We’re going to be running hard; we’re going to need every bit of luck we can get.”
“Shield puts trackers in most of its gear. Take only the basics; strip down everything you can.” Clint said tossing his com unit and eying his bow and quiver with a resigned look, it would have to be dumped.
They went through the jet stripping out what they could. Once they were in the air they would be sitting ducks for anyone with Shield scanners but hopefully they would be able to get far enough. Going on foot was not an option for two guys in military gear in this area. Jackson might be able to ditch his gear and pretend to be native but that wasn’t an option for Clint.
The sound of the weapons lock droning in his ear snapped him back to their frantic escape. Jackson crowed as one of their pursuers when down in flames but Clint’s eyes were glued to the jet bearing down on them from the other side. Clint jinked side to side making the engines scream but he knew it wouldn’t be enough.
A hail of bullets took out one engine in a ball of flame tossing them against the straps as the plane began to spin. Clint fought them straight just as a second strafe of antiaircraft bullets raked the hull and bounced through the cockpit. He braced one leg against the console forcing the plane to get the nose up by sheer strength of body.
He glanced up from the altimeter in time to see the leading edge of bullets slam though the nose and eat up the cockpit windshield before slamming into him and shaking him in his seat. Don’t let go of the stick. Don’t let go of the stick. Don’t let go of the stick.
The quinjet slammed into a sand dune and skipped across the desert floor, leaving a long scar of burning wreckage in its wake. Clint gasped for air as he forced hands to unclench from the stick, his legs to move, kicking at a panel on the console with everything he had. Jackson fumbled out of his straps and threw up somewhere behind him while jerking down the med kit.
“Where are you hit?”
“Leave it, grab the panel and rip out the circuit board in it.” Clint choked out, fighting to ignore the way black spots were taking over his vision.
“What does it do?” Jackson demanded ripping at wires.
“Inner sensor net; shows heat signatures to other shield planes, they can’t scan us without it.” The console sparked and a small fire broke out to one side.
“We need to get out of here.”
“Not until they leave. They’ll see us if we run. You hit?”
“Arm’s broken and took a shot to the side. I can move, you?” He asked finishing removing the board and crushing it under his boot.
“I’m fucked,” Clint said with a hysterical laugh trying to undo his straps with blood covered hands. “You need to help me into the back and then you take off. You get to a phone and call Stark Tower and then go to ground. Don’t look back. Get to Stark if you can, if not find Hill, she would never be Hydra.”
“I can’t just leave you here.” Jackson argued, cursing as he jerked open Clint’s shirt to reveal the multiple wounds.
“Everything’s going numb, Jacks. I’m not walking out and you can’t carry me. Call the authorities about the crash and go to ground. Get moving, Ranger, that’s an order.”
“Fuck, alright.” Jackson snapped helping pull Clint into the back of the plane. “Gun’s still on your right hip, med kit is on your left. Don’t die on me, Barton.”
“Not planning to, Jacks. Get your ass in gear.”
“Yes, sir; I plan to see you in medical, Barton.” He said as a parting shot leaving Clint behind as he ducked out the hold and started running.
Clint took as deep a breath as he dared and pulled himself up to sit against one bulkhead. He knew he was losing too much blood and fought with a few packets of quick clot tossing the power against the wide holes in his side, stomach, and chest. He had to just hope he was putting enough pressure on the exit wounds. When the black swallowed up his vision this time he welcomed it, he didn’t want to see the headshot when it came and just maybe the gods would pull through and he’d have Phil waiting on him when he next opened his eyes.