Clint came out of a deep sleep, sitting straight up in his bed. He didn’t know what had woken him, but he knew something was wrong immediately. After years of field work, he always knew.
He glanced at the window in his room sharply, noting the absence of moonlight…or any kind of light. The outside lights should have been on at this hour. His feeling of intense unease grew, and he silently slipped out of bed, his bare feet making no noise as he moved over to his closet, grabbing his bow and quiver. He strapped on the quiver over his t-shirt, the weight of it on his back comforting as he slipped on the arm guard and finger glove he always kept attached.
He took an arrow from the quiver, loading it onto his bow and lightly touching his fingers against the fletchings as he moved his back against the wall with the door to his bedroom in it. Listening, he heard nothing.
Silently, the door opened little by little. That wasn’t right. He’d been meaning to WD-40 the hinges for ages, they were loud as hell.
The toe of a combat boot lightly stepped through the doorway, followed by its owner, a masked man in full camo.
Clint didn’t wait for an introduction.
He held his bow up, releasing the arrow point blank into the guy’s neck.
The man dropped the knife he had been holding, blood gurgling out of the new hole in his throat around the arrow shaft. He made a sputtering sound, but fell to the ground, silent.
Clint whirled around the body into the hallway, bow already at full draw with a new arrow knocked. He turned both directions, but saw no one else.
“Jarvis, Code Red,” he said quietly, trying to activate the defense system.
There was no answer from the A.I.
“Jarvis?” he whispered.
Still nothing. Whoever was here had infiltrated and downed Tony’s A.I. and alert systems before any sort of warning was triggered.
Whoever was here knew what they were doing.
He moved across the hall to Natasha’s room, turning the knob quietly. The door slowly swung inwards, and he stood off to the side. But after a moment, no attack seemed to be forthcoming from either an enemy or an angry Natasha, so he peered inside.
Another dead body in camo gear was sprawled over the windowsill. Natasha was nowhere in sight.
He moved over to the window, looking down. Still no sign of her. He pulled his head back inside, determined to find the others.
Natasha had only had time to slip on her combat boots over her sweatpants and grab her gun before she noticed two more guys under her windowsill, no doubt waiting for their hapless friend. His fault he was so loud.
She wished she had had time to wake up Clint, she thought, as she jumped from her second story window onto the men outside. She heard and felt bones crunch under her and screams of pain muffled by their masks. She jumped up quickly, shooting one in the head and aiming her gun at the other one. “Who are you, and how did you get in?” she growled. He didn’t answer, only continued to breathe harshly under his mask.
She shot him in the knee cap, then moved the gun back to aim at his face. He screamed again, and she leaned down close to hiss in his ear;
“I’m only going to ask one more time.”
His eyes flicked to something behind her, and she quickly tried to stand up, but mid-turn something heavy, probably the butt of a rifle, hit her in the back of the head and she fell to the ground trying to blink the spots out of her vision.
“Black Widow,” a voice mused. She brought her gun up in the direction of the sound but it was kicked out of her hand before she could fire, before a boot savagely stomped her wrist into the ground. “You’ve killed too many of my men already.” A gunshot went off, making her wince, and the groaning of the man she had tried to interrogate stopped immediately. She cursed in Russian and tried to pull away from the man, but the rifle struck her again and all she knew was black.
Thor was awoken by heavy weights on his arms and a sharp prick in the back of his neck. His eyes snapped open, enraged at seeing the strange men in his room and he shot up, roaring. He threw one into the wall as the other tried to lock his arm behind him, but he twisted around and punched him in the head with his now free hand, dropping him instantly.
He leapt to his feet, about to call for Mjölner, when his vision shifted. The bodies of the men disappeared and he heard footsteps from the hallway. His door frame shattered, and the huge fist of a frost giant came into view, followed by the rest of his body. He was grinning down at Thor. The Asgardian grit his teeth and summoned Mjölner into his hand.
“I know not why you have come here, but it was a mistake.” He threw his hammer, knocking the frost giant back through the hallway, and following up with a savage roar.
The three men looked at the unconscious Asgardian on the floor before one reached up to his comm. “Thor down,” he confirmed. He had been afraid the microchip wouldn’t work in the god, but was glad to see their source had been right.
A voice came back over the comm. “Hurry and find the others.”
Bruce hadn’t been sleeping. He had been in the kitchen, reading some studies on his laptop and drinking tea when the lights had gone off. “Jarvis?” he asked, but no response was forthcoming. He was on alert immediately. He noticed that even though his laptop was still on, the wireless had been shut off. He also knew that the main systems of the house, i.e. Jarvis, were programmed to switch to an external generator whenever there was a power shift detected. The fact that Jarvis was not online was worrisome.
He closed the laptop quietly before bringing his tea to the sink and dumping it out. He quickly walked out of the kitchen and down the hall to the bathroom, where he shut the door and pulled out his cellphone. He sighed when he looked at the screen. No signal.
He stilled as he heard the hardwood floor creak outside the bathroom. He held his breath, but the creaks moved further down the hall. That certainly confirmed it. Clint and Natasha unconsciously made no noise when they walked, while Thor and Tony pretty much made as much noise as they could whenever they went anywhere. Steve always walked fast, even at night.
He opened the door a crack, seeing two armed men in camo slowly moving down the hallway away from him in the direction of the labs. He may have been able to get some sort of external signal down there, but if they were going, that was out. He eyed the small window in the bathroom warily. He might be able to move freely around the outside of the mansion, or find someone else who had evaded capture, or get off the grounds completely and call Fury. Deciding that was his best bet, he moved towards the window.
Tony was awakened roughly by hands grabbing him viciously and pulling him out of his bed and onto the floor. It made his skin crawl. He hated being touched, unless it was during sex, and he certainly hoped this was not one of those times, judging by the full military gear the assailants were wearing.
“JARVIS!” he shouted, but nothing happened and he cursed, kicking out with one of his legs and being rewarded with a grunt of pain and one less pair of hands touching him.
“Get off, fuckfaces!” he shouted again, trying to kick someone again and missing. He began twisting and writhing viciously. He would not be captured again, not ever. He opened his mouth to holler for help, but someone shoved a damp cloth over his mouth and nose, making him instantly hold his breath. A savage punch to the gut had him bending over in pain and unconsciously sucking in air, along with the chloroform fumes.
Steve’s eyes snapped open when he heard the door to his room open. Half expecting it to be Tony trying to steal something in the middle of the night, he lazily rolled over, but sat up, frantic at the sight of the armed men in his doorway. He leapt out of bed, automatically looking for his shield before remembering it was in their make-shift armory in Tony’s garage. Growling in frustration, he punched the first guy in the face, knocking him back into the second guy, creating a bottleneck in the doorway. But the first assailant recovered quickly, swinging a heavy baton which Steve dodged quickly, moving backwards into the room. But it had the desired effect, and the four assailants poured in after him, trying to flank him.
Two came at him at once, and he blocked one with his arms, turning his back to the other. He grunted loudly when he was rewarded by the second guy unleashing the baton on the back of his shoulders. He quickly dropped and rolled away, but his room was only so large and he didn’t get far before he had to block a down-swinging baton with his forearm. It hurt like hell, but luckily the bone didn’t break. It did however, leave him wide-open to the second and third guys who wrenched both his arms behind him forcing him to the ground. He tried to roll, but one of the others was there, slipping what felt like an oxygen mask over his nose and mouth. The hard plastic of a zip tie was tightened over his wrists behind his back, binding him, and he furiously tried to kick with his legs and jostle the guys off him with his shoulders, but another baton to the back of his thigh had him suck in a breath, and thus whatever was pumping through the mask.
His brain instantly felt foggy and it was a struggle to move his limbs. He sank limply to the floor, groaning. Two of the guys hauled him up by the shoulders, flipping him onto his backside before dragging him out of his room. He watched with half-lidded eyes as one carried the tank hooked up to his mask next to him. They dragged him down the hall, a feat made easier by his cotton pajama bottoms against the hardwood floors and to the front of the elevator.
“I need power to elevator one,” a voice said from above him.
Something dinged and he found himself being tossed unceremoniously inside. He grunted softly as he hit the ground, but couldn’t really feel it that much through the numbness of his body. The elevator dinged again, and the men pulled him into Tony’s lab where about ten other men were standing around. In the middle was a masked man, but his mask was a dark shade of purple with only his eyes showing. Tony was bound at his feet, looking almost as groggy as Steve felt.
The man in the mask spoke to the guy who seemed to be in charge of the group that brought Steve down. “The others?” he asked. He had a slight accent, but Steve couldn’t quite place it.
“There’s a group guarding Thor and Widow. It seemed unwise to move them, as she sustained a head injury and he is just…big. But he’s not going anywhere.”
“Kill the woman later. We have no need of her. The Asgardian will probably die on his own.” The other man nodded and Steve’s heart clenched despite the gas running through his system. “The others?” the man pressed.
Here, the second-in-command hesitated. “There’s…been no trace of either Barton or Banner, Sir.”
“WHAT?” The other man flinched. “Find them. Kill Barton on sight. Subdue the Hulk. We need him alive. We cannot afford to let either one of them run around and disrupt our plans.”
“What plans would those be?” Tony’s groggy voice spoke up, and both the masked man and the other one looked down at him. Tony, shut up, Steve thought, unable to really do anything else. Luckily, they ignored him, looking at each other, before the masked man spoke.
“Now, Commander. I do not like to be kept waiting.”