AoA: The Hammer

October 15, 2017:

Meet Darcy Lewis, the mighty Thor. Summoned to New York by prayer (and radio) she is invited to the Avengers Initiative by the President himself (emit by Nate)

An office in the Triskelion, AoA NYC

Characters

NPCs: AoA William Stryker

Mentions: Jean Grey

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

When Apocalypse began his conquests the international law-enforcement agency SHIELD was one of his first targets. Indeed, Nick Fury is one of the few humans Apocalypse ever singled out and targeted for death. A distinction he shared with one Dr. Stephen Strange and many years later with Bolivar Trask.

And so SHIELD was destroyed, the Helicarrier crashed over Houston, killing thousands. The main bases where hit by the Horsemen or the Dark Riders and by 1978 only a handful of field agents were left alive. Most surviving agnts joined other agencies, but a few kept fighting even when the United Nations was no more and the USA had been conquered.

Egypt. Near the Valley of Kings. 1996.

Ten years of research and investigation led them to the ruins of an ancient town called Akkaba. Much of Egypt is a radioactive graveyard, but the area was cool enough NBC suits are not necessary for just a few days of exploration. For Darcy Lewis this was her first important mission since being recruited into Coulson’s team.

They had located one of Apocalypse’s catches, and the group had some hopes some information or treasures inside would be of any use against the mutant tyrant. Unknown to them at the very moment the bombs are already flying. Soon, Great Britain will follow the way of Atlantis.

Inside the underground vault old SHIELD agents and younger recruits fight for their lives. First against mechanical traps, then against a Balrog-class cyborg. An octopoid monster created in the Breeding Pits long after Akkaba was abandoned. Which means that the vaults must have something very valuable, indeed.

Not that it matters as the cyborg monster tears apart Darcy teammates. Even explosives barely slow it down. Finally Darcy herself was cornered by the monster. Ammo exhausted, all the room had was a wooden stick inside of a glass urn, surrounded by an alien-looking machine the Balrog tentacles smashed to pieces trying to grab her.

The stick pretty much bounced into her hands.

She hit the Balrog with it, because hell, she was going to die anyway. Maybe he could poke one of its eyes off.

And then there was thunder and lightning.

“Whoever holds this hammer, if she be worthy, shall possess the power of… THOR.”

That is the inscription at one side of the hammer. It appears every time she picks it up. Anyone can read it, as it always seems to be in the native language of the reader. But no one else has been able to lift the hammer since then.

It took very little time to return to America. And ever since Darcy has been busy. Radioactive clouds needed to be pushed away. The nuclear winter brought horrifying storms, which had to be tamed. There were monsters everywhere to be fought. And no few of the dead tyrant followers trying to destroy what little remained of humankind.


And now errant prayers had brought Darcy once more near what had been her hometown, back from before she caught the attention of SHIELD, before Apocalypse, before the cave, before THOR. The duality of her, part mortal and part god, peered down at what had once been New York City. The mortal was sad and angry at the ruins below her. The god was upset and saddened by the needless death.

Rain clouds swirled over head, tugging lightly at her cape, as her eyes turn toward the south and Washington DC.

It wasn't a place she was willing to tred. There was too great a risk for it. What then could she do to assist this errant traveler to this version of Midreign, Her Realm for more than one reason.


Ruins is what is left of the cities of man. At least New York has been rebuilt around Central Park, which is under the care of another so-called storm goddess, Ororo Munroe. Several factories over what was Harlem before the war and two large metal bridges rebuilt by Magneto leading to Brooklyn and to New Jersey.

A quarter million humans and mutants live here. It is the largest city left in the world and the capital of the largest nation left on Earth. And once again it looks as if war is about to ravage this wounded land. So her old contacts within the human resistance, now part of President Stryker government, have asked her to return to the city and meet with them at the Triskelion, the building that serves as army central command and department of security.


Thor steps off the edge of the building, leaving her contemplations for another day. A ripple of fabric and she alights delicately upon the sidewalk just outside the front doors of the Triskelion. Hammer clipped to the belt at her hips, Thor presses the doors open and strides in. The Storm Lord is summoned.


There are soldiers at the gates, but they open the metal fence to let Thor in, most seem happy to see her back to New York. There is an officer waiting for her at the lobby, where she is requested to remain for a minute as they make sure she is who she seems to be and not a shape-shifting mutant or something stranger. Then she is led to one of the elevators and to a meeting room in the upper floors. President Stryker himself is there, and he is not alone. The director of military intelligence, one James Barnes, is there too.

"Good afternoon," greets Stryker, standing up when Thor enters the room. "And thank you for coming to New York. I am afraid the enemy has struck again and with more force than ever since the death of Apocalypse. We need Thor."


Flanking the President's desk on the man's right, James Barnes looks as if he were in the middle of giving Stryker some manner of report. Barnes wears the mark of career military in his dress uniform, straight-backed stance, and the fold of his hands at the small of his back, but there is a tarnish to him that suggests he didn't get to where he was just by going to officer school and getting his promotions on the regular.

He looks up and over to Thor as she enters, an inclination of the head given to her, though he holds his silence for the time being as Stryker speaks. There is something propped at the Director's side, though it's difficult to see what it is as he and part of the desk blocks most of it from view.


There had been some things for Jessica Jones to take care of after accepting Director Barnes' offer to join the Avengers Initiative.

Namely, she needed to give the Alias to her first mate, Clay Quartermain, and say good-bye to her crew. There was a bit of a going away party, and some control-freak moments where she had to remind each of them 9 times at least to do this or that or take care of this or that.

But all that is over with by the time the summons comes down that she should come up here to the President's office. And she'd shaken her head at that, because really she never imagined her life would bring her to a point where 'come on up to see the President' would ever be a Thing. Here she is anyway though.

She doesn't own any nice clothes. She comes in dressed exactly as she's always been dressed. Meetin' the president. In jeans, scuffed boots, a black t-shirt and a flight jacket. Oh well. They didn't recruit her for her fashion sense.

What's the right greeting for the President and a new boss with a government title? Jessica flounders on that for a moment, grapples headlong with her social anxiety, and comes up with an answer.

"Hey."


Thor has never been so short. Nor brunette. Yet, here she is. Hammer hanging from her belt, armor covering her frame, winged helm on her head, covering the top half of her face. Asked to wait, the Thunderer waits with an immortal's patience. It's a patience that is marred by the very mortal movement of her fingertips drumming lightly on the inscribed face of Mjolnir. Whatever tests the mortals must run, Thor passes them, and she follows to the meeting room.

Thor sweeps her gaze about the room. A gaze that had once been green but now flickers with electricity. her gaze settles upon Stryker as he speaks and the short statured Thor nods her head as her arms come up to fold under her.

"Prayers were heard, and thine weather witch's efforts not gone unnoticed. Thou hast need of me; I have arrived. What is the news and how can I assist?" asks Thor, her voice laced through with a soft rumble of thunder that makes the pitch of her words seem lower than it is.


"And good afternoon to you, too, Captain Jones," greets Stryker. Not one that cares much for protocol of fancy clothes after 20 years living as a fugitive freedom fighter. He would be wearing army fatigues, but his advisors don't allow him to come to the Triskelion except in a suit. Tie and all.

"I am not sure if you have met Thor before." Adds Stryker. "If not, please, consider yourself introduced. I do hope you two would agree to work together for the present crisis."


Jessica's arrival draws the Director's eye. He regards her in silence a few moments. Is he embarrassed by how she's comporting herself? Does he find her dress and demeanor wholly inappropriate? Is he judging her? Has she broken about ten governmental protocols by telling the President of America 'hey'?

When no one is looking, Barnes gives her the slightest flicker of a wink.

He is all sobriety again by the time Stryker gets around to formal introductions between Thor and Jessica. "Any assistance is welcome, times like this," he says. There is a vague thought — what would Steve say, at times like this? He lowers his left hand, resting it on the edge of the shield at his side. Metal meets metal with a grounding clink. "The luxury of choice was lost to us years ago. If we're all committed to fighting the same threat, we're committed to working together to do so."


That little wink produces a little flicker of an almost grin at him, and a twinkle of brown eyes, there and gone again. The greater effect? Jessica Jones relaxes.

Director Barnes offers some basically logical words and she nods her head. She'd already committed to working with whomever it took. And the truth is, for the second time she rather thinks that guy is the guy to follow.

"Nice to meet you, Thor," she says, finding some sort of social grace somewhere. The half of one she possesses. She looks around for the right place to stand, or sit. Decides on where she's at. Sticks her hand out to Thor. Withdraws it.

"Wait a sec, can I do that? Shake your hand? I heard some rumor you had to be worthy or something."

Look, rumors are like a telephone game. Hand, hammer, someone has to be worthy to do something. "I don't wanna spontaneously combust."


Electric blue eyes shift once more to Jessica as she is introduced and Thor nods her head in a silent greeting. The motion is like a nod. If the Thunderer is at all perturbed by Jessica's informal sounding greeting to the President, she gives no hint of it.

"Well met," says the Lord of Storms, arms unfolding as Barnes says his piece.

"Agreed," is all she says, still seeming so patient. Her patience still marred by the subtle drumming of fingertips. The drumming stop as Jessica offers a hand then withdraws it and comments about being worthy. The sound that comes from the Thunderer can only be described as a thunderous giggle.

"Aye. Verily thou can shake mine hand. It is my hammer thou ought to be wary off, for she is the one who doth not like to be handled by the unworthy," Thor says, a very Darcy-like mischevious grin blooming. It tells of the waggle of brows that her helmet hides as she steps forward once to offer her right hand out to Jessica.

"I rather dislike spontaneous combustion myself, preferring instead that time be taken so such things can be thoroughly enjoyed."


Stryker never quite smiles, but there is some amusement in his eyes as he watches Jessica struggle with protocols. "Please, sit down," he offers. There are chairs and armchairs in the room, it is fairly large. "Captain Jones already knows about the Avenger Initiative, I believe." So, for Thor. "It is a project to gather a team of non-mutants super-humans and elite operatives to serve as exemplars for humankind and fulfill the same role the X-Men have among mutants. The Avengers would also be in the forefront of battles against Apocalypse's followers, like the Invaders did during the Second World War against the Axis."


There is some grave amusement on Barnes' own face as he watches the interplay between Captain Jones and Thor. Were he a younger man or a different man, he might have been more irreverent, but ever since he was handed his brother's shield, he's felt… almost inappropriate behaving as himself. Especially in public. Captain America is a title with dignity, and he will not be the one to ruin Steve's legacy.

Enjoined to sit, Barnes waits for the others to take their seats before he does himself. It is a relic of old-world courtesy, a desire to see guests settled before he himself takes his ease. When he finally takes a seat himself, he leans the shield against his right knee, the faded colors reflecting the light.

Respectfully, he does not interrupt Stryker much when the President speaks, though he does mention afterwards, "Yes, I have told Captain Jones most about the spirit of the Avengers. The actual operational details are still in development. It's meant to be a team with considerable face time, which I am sure you'll have no trouble with." This, to Thor.

His hand smoothes unconsciously along the edge of the shield, his eyes briefly dim with recollection as the Second World War is mentioned. "There are certain times when it's inspiration people need as much as anything else."


Jessica shakes Thor's hand with a quick smile. Thunderous giggle. Okay. Yeah, she can work with this.

Invited to sit, she does so. "Technically I guess I'm not a captain anymore," she adds, though it's not relevant. She gazes over at the shield. Even she knows what kind of a symbol it is. Barnes carries it well. And Thor is certainly symbolic enough. She, too, wears her mantle well.

She looks down at herself and has a long moment of 'uhhhh'.

And chuffs a laugh. "One of these things is not like the others, but I'll do my best, Sirs." There, she has found another tiny bit of protocol, floating about her brain. She's read some military books, watched some TV. The fiction shall guide her!


Thor sits, opting for a not-arm chair, spinning it so its back faces the others, and then settling to it in a stradle. Her arms come to rest on the back of the sit so she can lean forward and plop her chin on her armored forearms.

"No trouble with giving face, no," rumbles Thor pleasantly, too innocent to be anything but wicked grin on her lips. The description of what the Avengers are meant to be seems to sit well with the once-intern, and so Thor rolls a shoulder in amiable acceptance.

"Thou speaketh true, Captain Jones. The boys are out-numbered," because the President isn't a part of the 'team'. Meaning it's Thor and Jones vs Barnes.


'Face time'? Stryker wouldn't have used that term, but yes. "Offering inspiration and hope, yes," he comments. "Operative details are going to be quickly hashed, we are in an emergency situation. We lost Washington a week ago, and a powerful mutant claiming to be the new Horseman War has attacked the city with an electromagnetic pulse. So New York has been partially evacuated and is under curfew. The air fleet is gathering and we will be launching a counter-attack soon. Among other enemies, new and old, I am convinced we are facing the Shadow Thief. Apocalypse's pet telepath."

He turns to Bucky. "Director Barnes, under the codename Captain America, has been put in charge temporarily. But the Avengers won't be part of the army, I wish you to have full autonomy and you can pick your own leaders. You will be given a quinjet and our best pilot as well as any assets you require."


Barnes eyes Jessica as she looks between them all, and then at herself. He doubtless knows exactly what's going through her head, because it has gone through his own. Thor turns it into a joke, which is probably just what is needed at this juncture. Even the dour old Director cracks half a smile.

"I am not a woman, it's true, Captain," he concurs. Though Thor's other comment, the one about giving face?

James Barnes looks slowly askance at her. Some hint of the young man he once was, way back in the 1930s, peeks out of his eyes in the mirrored wickedness that comes and goes in his gaze. He saw what you did there. He supposes that's what he gets for using colloquialisms — the President, of course, finds a fancier presidential way to say it all.

Humor leaves him as Stryker reviews the details of what has transpired in recent days. "I have Stark left to get in contact with," he says. "That shouldn't present an issue. We can move immediately once we've requisitioned the necessaries."


Jessica snarfs too, at a whole lot of all of it, and it's true. Laughter is great medicine. She finally relaxes all the way back into her seat, but she does not participate in any wickedness at all. She in fact sort of slides her hands into the pockets of her jacket when the conversation goes there, capable of seeing the humor, especially in the way Thor presents it, but not exactly game to go skipping down that road herself.

Instead she listens; there is good information being bandied about here and there's a job of work to be done. And without any relevant information or suggestions to offer, she turns herself to the business of simply learning as much as she can about what they need to do and where they need to go.

Hearing the villain in question is a super-telepath does cloud her expression, but this time it's pure, dark, roiling hate and disgust. It's safe to say she's more than game to punch an evil telepath. Repeatedly.


Wickedness for wickedness, Thor's gaze meets Bucky's and a flick of a wink is offered. Hell yes you saw what I did there, Beefcakerson. Anytime. Any place… that would survive the adventure.

Still grinning, Thor turns her attention back to the seriousness at hand. It's there that she notes the anger, the hate, the disgust, upon Jone's face. Behind the winged helm's half-face plate, Thor quirks a brow.

Mind this one falls not to the Madness, offers something to Darcy's mind. A low rumble that has been guiding her since she first found the Asgardian relic in her hand. The wicked grin falls slowly, a somber expression cooling the dance of skyfire in her gaze to just a soft and thoughtful crackle of lightning about the edges of her now green irises.

"Such a foe is of grave concern," she comments, gaze turning from Jessica to look back at Barnes. Default leader, it seems. Darcy was never the tactical genius. Thor is not from Earth. Best to let others led at dance.


When Jessica reads the Shadow Thief file she is probably going ballistic. That telepathic ghost makes Killgrave's crimes look like the fumbling misdeeds of an amateur. And since he doesn't seem to have a physical body punching his face is pretty hard.

But the punching was to Emma Frost and Psylocke's job. And now the younger, alien Jean Grey. Hopefully the Avengers will be dealing with more physical threats.

"The army will be carrying psi-dampeners. And the X-Men are better equipped to deal with the Shadow Thief. For now," he comments reluctantly.


Barnes read the files on the Shadow Thief. He also read the files on Jessica Jones. Privilege of being America's spymaster — you get to know everything about everyone. He transparently puts together Jessica's discomfort with the Shadow Thief's skillset. He also transparently empathizes. He himself has History with having his mind meddled with, even if that is not public knowledge.

If Jessica should look at him, it would be to find him watching her bracingly, already promising her: It'll be fine. We'll get the asshole.

He doesn't fail to notice the way Thor turns her gaze to him, either, at talk of leadership. Is this how Steve felt? he wonders, as weight seems to yoke his shoulders, but he accepts it. As Steve accepted it nearly sixty years ago.

Barnes transparently shares Stryker's wariness at having to place reliance on foreign X-Men, but seems resigned to it as a necessity given the scarcity of telepaths that remain on their side. "There are some things we have to entrust to others," he says. "There's not a one of us properly equipped to tangle with some intangible telepath." A pause. "Nor do most of us want to. Our role will be to clear tangible threats, so the telepaths we've got can do their work."

He drums his fingers along the edge of the shield. "There's enough of us, with enough firepower, to begin campaigns immediately. I'll have messages out to Stark and others. They can join us in the field. There is no time to waste."


She does, in fact, look to James Barnes. There's something about him that steadies her. He worries about living up to Steve's legacy as a leader, but with this particular woman? There may be no better person on the planet to bring out the best of what's in her. She nods resolutely, believing him.

"They seemed like good sorts," Jessica says, having weirdly been the one to bring those otherwordly X-people in. "Dr. Grey needs a lesson in ethics vis a vis using those powers of hers though. She means well, I guess, but 'I want to dig in your head cause I'm not sure about you yet' is not okay."

But clearing tangible threats she can handle.

"Sounds straightforward enough, too."

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