Entry 431 (Final Entry)
It’s all kind of a blur. It all happened so fast. The vote at congress, subduing Sarena Patel, Ultron declaring War on the world, the battle in the Oval Office…before we knew it our lives had entered a new dimension.
It started with the parade. I remember it vividly. Captain Rogers pinning the medal of honor is, and will always be the proudest moment of my life. We were national heroes before, but when we defeated Ultron in the White House we became famous the world over. Time seemed to fly by. We went on missions, stopped named villains, went to school. Tabitha became a more integral part of the team for a time, but soon the pregnancy could not be ignored. When her water broke I ended up teleporting us right to the hospital, not even caring about the blatant power usage in public. It’s amazing how quickly she became the most important thing in my life. My life has always been S.H.I.E.L.D., missions, assignments, and duty. But before I knew it I began leaning on Tabitha. She never judged, she called me on my bullshit, she kept me sane. Looking back now, I realized that I lied before. Holding my newborn child, looking into Tabitha’s eyes, THAT was, and will always be the proudest moment of my life. Her eyes are as golden as the wheat in the Elysian Fields. I call her name as if it was already decided by forces I can’t even conceive. Elyse.
Then the message hit. Aubrey sent a message to the team as her planet was dying around her. Some race called the Skrull was conquering planets on some galactic crusade, and they were on their way to Earth. I immediately brought the message to Commander Hill and Captain Rogers. I warned them of the many dangers waiting beyond the veil of space, dangers we haven’t even heard of yet. To my surprise they listened. It appears that I’ve somehow become a respected member of S.H.I.E.L.D. despite my young age. Cap and Commander Hill said that I’ve proven time and time again to be trustworthy and capable. That I had good instincts and was willing to make hard choices for the good of the many. As if all that praise wasn’t enough to knock me on my ass, they then informed me that my experience with extraterrestrials coupled with that trust and capability made me a prime candidate to lead up a new division of S.H.I.E.L.D., a division dedicated to the interaction and defense of Earth from threats beyond our solar system. They called it the Sentient World Observation and Response Department. Code name: S.W.O.R.D.
I went to Sydney, but I knew how the conversation would end before it even began. Spend all of our time preparing for an enemy that my take years to show up? Not exciting enough. We have enemies causing trouble here and now. We have fans to keep appeased. I get where she’s coming from, though. Besides she’s been wanting to break away from S.H.I.E.L.D. for a while now. This just made it official. We part on good terms. Mutual respect on both sides. But that was the last official meeting of The Thunderbolts.
I write this now at my post in earth’s orbit. I spend a good amount of my time here now. I train new recruits, spend time with Tabitha and Elyse, I even see my old teammates from time to time. (Sydney and Gwen are the worst babysitters ever) But I always find some time to spend up here. This is my place. The place where I stand vigilant against the terrors of the dark. My mind at ease. My heart light. My courage unwavering. My watch has begun…
One month has past since Dormammu’s attack on Earth. One Month since I learned the Tabitha is carrying my child. One month since I sacrificed Owen to undo the fixed point in the timeline that I created. Things have calmed down in the wake of near annihilation. Heroes and Villains have called a truce to rebuild this world that we share.
Gwen and I recently returned from Securing Aaron in The Time Lord Academy on Galifrey. This actually happened. The Doctor took us to an alternate universe where we fought Daleks and won a battle of the Time War. No I’m not describing an episode of Doctor Who…
It’s an odd feeling. I feel the weight of Fatherhood and the guilt of Owen’s death but…I still feel good. It’s almost as if I know that I can handle what come my way. I suspect that’s more Tabitha’s doing than anything. When she smiles the weight on my shoulders feels a little lighter. She supports me through it all. I know my parents have been there for me, but to have someone who is under no obligation to care, who sees the whole package of mess that engulfs my life….and STILL chooses to be with me. It’s breathtaking. There are a lot of questions that still need answering, a lot of trials to face, a lot of enemies to thwart, but with Tabitha beside me I feel like we can do anything.
So, those mystical “protections” that I was hoping for? Yeah, that didn’t happen. And of course I didn’t see the more mundane protection items in the basket, what with the hormones and all. So…fuck. On top of that it turns out that the whole Elysian getaway was a distraction so that DM could take on Serter by himself. Stupid. Irresponsible. We act as a team. if it’s dangerous for all of us then it’s 4 times as dangerous for only one of us. What the hell was he thinking? We arrived in time to help him take on Serter, but it was a near thing. It’s like he didn’t trust us or something.
It’s like I can’t do anything right. I asked a boon from Odin to undo what happened in the Fields with me and Tabitha but apparently children conceived in the Elysian Fields, have Divine Properties, so that’s undoable. So, a Divine Child on the way, a girlfriend who now MUST be told what is going on, a cosmic demon looking to destroy existence, a crazy scientist looking to take over the world (if it’s still here after that), and on top of that I still have to worry about the fact the death of millions of people is WRITTEN INTO THE TIMELINE BY MY OWN HAND!!!
………….I don’t know how to do this. I feel like I can’t do anything right. I feel like I’m breaking. It’s all piling up so fast, I don’t know which way is up, let alone know how to handle the multitude of situations that have arisen. How does someone even begin to handle all of this? I have to handle this. It’s MY responsibility. I have to be the one people lean on. Yet they look at me and know that I’m failing. The Doctor spoke to me then. Yeah, The Doctor. He told me he knew what I was going through. I started to discount him, but I looked into his eyes. His eyes were…ancient. Like they had seen so much turmoil, so much agony. But he still smiled. He was kind. He told me that I did the right thing. That we all have those decisions between bad and worse, and at those time we can only do the best we can. He told me no man can do this alone. The pressures of responsibility can’t be suffered by yourself. Everyone needs someone to support them, and I shouldn’t try to go it alone…
I took his advice. I went to Tabitha’s house. Admitted everything. She told me that I didn’t trust her, but that’s not true. Her safety means more to me than anything. She told me I wanted to push her away. I don’t….but I almost feel like I have to. How can I bring her into all of this? How can I ask her to help with this madness when it’s nearly killing me? But I look into her eyes….and I know she WANTS to help. She wants to help me through this. She wants to face this with me… and I want her to. I realize as we talk that I can’t do this alone. I need someone to confide in. Someone to lean on. The weight begins to lift as I tell her everything. I feel almost serene as we go to face Dormammu.
The sky darkens, lightning flashes, and his arrival is announced with a rumbling I can feel in my bones. This is where I learn the difference between watching the epic battles in the movies and actually being in one: the Fear. It is there, in a portion of my mind. Of that I have no doubt. It would be foolish to pretend this isn’t terrifying, but it would be worse to let it stop me from doing what’s necessary. We battle a being beyond the breadth of time and space, there is no room for error, for hesitation. Analyze, Calculate, Execute. My fear is palpable, but I will not let it endanger my team. DM is drunk before the fight begins. I can see the fear in him, a degree that I’ve never seen in him. it unnerves me, but we press on. The battle is fever pitched, and cataclysmic towards the end. Fighting amongst the floating ruins of the Sears Tower I spot Sammy in full Dragon form. In Dormammu’s weakened state he is powerless to resist Sammi pulling him back into the Darkforce dimension. But not before dragging DM in with him.
Before I can move to save him I am spirited away to an immaculate white room. A bald man in a white robe and blue sash identifies himself as Uatu the Watcher and tells me that I will stand trial for the destruction of Earth 2099 before a being called the Living Tribunal. I am only surprised at the timing. Robbed of the chance to save my teammate, my friend. The trial goes past in a blur. My remaining teammates speak on my behalf. Their words strengthen me, bolster my courage. Tabitha sits in mute shock, her worry plain in her face. She gives me strength as well. They judge me guilty, which is expected, but they accept my reasoning and offer me the chance to undo the timeline. This comes at a cost. An impossible choice. “Where there is death, there must always be death. And if we undo the timeline then someone else’s life will be required. The choice of who will be sacrificed lies in your hands. Will you choose Aaron Stark, a man out of his time who has the potential to become a time lord? Will you choose Sammi Brooks, who holds the mind of the Dragon and has the potential to unleash catastrophe should he lose control? Will you choose Owen Schmidt, your best friend who you believe has the potential to be redeemed, a man who is the past, present, and future companion of Mistress Ock? Or will you choose…” His hand points directly to Tabitha’s stomach. “Your unborn child, a being that could become the greatest peacekeeping warrior in the universe or the worst scourge of death and destruction ever to draw breath?”
………..how can I make this choice?
Tabitha stares at me, pleading with her eyes. Gwen holds fast to Arron, shaking her head, tears running down her face. Sydney stands protective n front of Sammi, a challenge in her eyes. Owen stands alone, still confused at what’s happening. This is impossible. How do I even begin? A sealed letter falls into my hand, addressed to me, in DM’s handwriting. A thought jolts through me before I even open it. He knew. He knew what was going to happen. That’s why he was so afraid. I open the letter and it confirms my suspicions. Apologizing for the deception and his departure, saying his farewells, offering his counsel one last time. I slide the letter in my pocket, trying to steel myself for the choice.
I know the answer before I really think about it. Sacrificing my unborn child is not an option. Arron has proved his worth time and time again. Sammi is dangerous, but has the same determination as Sydney, so I don’t doubt that he will master the Dragon. I cannot look at him. Looking at him will weaken my resolve. Looking at him will remind me of countless hours of training, of endless conversations, of lonely days banished by his friendship. The past, present, and future companion of Mistress Ock. It is the logical choice. It is the RIGHT choice. I can tell because it is the hardest I’ve ever had to make. “For the security of the present and the future…I choose Owen”
He doesn’t cry out. I do not look at him. I think he knew I’d choose him. I cannot think about it. Uatu says something. I cannot hear him. Tabitha rushes up and hugs me. I need it. I cannot stand on my own. The wind is driven out of me. The future is safe. It is unwritten. We’ve changed it. It is best not to dwell on the cost…
After a collision of science and magic, we manage to fly a spaceship though a wormhole and arrive in Asgard. No, the previous statement is not the opening of a Sci-Fi movie, it’s what actually happened. Asgard is nothing like I imagined it would be. S.H.I.E.L.D. intel on Asgard is sparse and leaves much to the imagination, but my imagination was not up to par with the reality of it. Equal parts Fantasy landscape and Futuristic city grid. One almost forgets that we’re here to keep the universe from being destroyed.
That, of course, may happen regardless of our intentions. Aside from the reality bending altercations were currently dealing with, DM and Doctor Strange inform me that the black hole and the millions of deaths I caused in the future may have created a fixed point in time. Meaning even if we stop Mistress Ock before she takes over the world something will end up destroying the planet anyway. I…still don’t know how to feel about that.
It was not a decision I made lightly. But I still feel that it was the best decision I could have made at the time. I don’t second guess it. But…the reality is that I killed millions of innocent people. I did it. The intentions were noble, but I still did it. In a choice between bad and worse, I chose bad. And, somehow, bad became more horrible than it’s alternative. It’s like I’m put in these situations where there is no right answer and any answer I manage to pick is wrong. How do I even [scratches out the rest of the sentence]
Enough. A leader cannot wallow in despair. I made the choice and I will deal with the consequences. There is too much to get done, too much depending on me to indulge in self-pity. The others look at me with worry in their eyes. It matters not. I’ll get the job done. My peace of mind is unimportant.
I broached the topic of the Senate Vote on S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s new Commander to Capt. Rogers. He seemed receptive to the idea and is willing to discuss it further when we survive this. He seems so confident. Not arrogant, just assured in our ability to pull this off. Secure in the hope that good will overcome. There’s a reason why he’s my favorite Avenger. Calm, capable, and inspiring.
In order to reinforce the prison that holds Serter we travel to Dwarflheim to mine the metal called Ur. It’s seems to be gravity made manifest, which is most impressive. I train on Dwarflheim to take my mind off of things. Odd that intense training in the most gravity intensive planet I’ve ever been to was actually like a vacation for me. Of course DM had other ideas. One minute I’m doing pull ups, the next I’m in the Elysian Fields and Tabitha’s in front of me. DM’s voice travels through the headset “She thinks it’s a dream, goodies are I the bag, Have Fun!” Who knew she had a thing for Singularity? After the third truffle things go….further than they have before. All of the questions I should’ve thought of at the time come rushing to me in hindsight. I didn’t force it, but she thinks she’s dreaming. Is this right? Surely DM set certain mystical “protections” in place…right?
The sky darkens and a voice echoes throughout the gloom. “I am Dormammu, and this planet is now Mine”
I know we’ve been through a lot, and this is kinda part and parcel of the whole superhero package, but this sounds bad. Like worse than the other stuff we’ve dealt with before. According to the S.H.I.E.L.D. datafiles Dormammu is a cosmic being that originates from the universe that existed before this one. DM briefs us that he’s trying to destroy the cosmic “tree” that connects all of the worlds and use it to summon a demon that will kickstart the end of existence. For Everyone. So, yeah, this is a tad more than we’ve handled before.
I clamp down on that part of me that’s freaking out. The team looks to me to lead them, I have to be their rock. Break it down. Analyze, Calculate, Execute. DM, Sammy, and Aubree’s Mystical expertise is guiding the way here. The towers have spread all over the world. Sydney gets the bright idea to hijack the Avenger’s Code White to call forth all Supers and attack this globally. A great plan that surely turned the tide. Once we knocked down the first one the other teams worldwide had a working model to follow.
Afterwards we had a chat with Baron Mordu, Dormammu’s principle follower on this plane. I use the term chat very loosely for he was not in a talkative mood. Neither, it seems was DM. After the battle he teleported him away, tortured him, and handed him over to some hunter who killed him without blinking. It worries me. DM has always been the self-righteous one, but he’s never been a killer. The conversation with Owen in my living room echoes during my conversation with DM. We spoke of doing what needs to be done, even when it calls for getting your hands dirty. I understand that all too well. It feels like I’ve done nothing but get my hands dirty for a while now. But what other option is there when the choice is between something bad and something worse. He may be an arrogant little bastard, but I feel an understanding being reached between us. Both trying to save each other from the costs of so much responsibility. I have much to think on as we travel to Asgard…
So…Homecoming. That was a thing. It felt good to be a normal teenager for a night. Me and Tabitha spending time together. A part of the group yet in our own little world. The Homecoming King and Queens thing also went better that I expected. Oh, rest assured, I will have my revenge on those that put me in such an embarrassing setting, but it could’ve gone worse. No bad guys crashing the party, no worrying about Tabitha and the promise I made her. Just…fun. I don’t think I’ve had fun in a long while.
The next day things got even better. Sydney’s duel with the archer was wonderful! Granted we’ll have to be careful with this kind of publicity. The public could easily turn from “Ooh, they’re rivals! That’s awesome!!” to “They’re selfish children with too much power and no responsibility other than settling a stupid YouTube bet!” The additional hurtle of Sydney not being able to be treated by conventional means is distressing. Nevertheless, for the moment I’ll just enjoy the look on Sydney’s face when Ken dropped his mask. I saved it on my phone :) (Is that the right emoticon?)
“If I have to give my honor to save the lives of innocents then I will pay that cost gladly…” I can barely believe the words as they come out of my mouth. Owen always did that to me, let me air out what I’m thinking with no filters, no censors. Still, to hear myself in that moment was surreal. Jarring yet…it had a sense of clarity to it. All of the indecision begins to fade away in that moment. My S.H.I.E.L.D. training taught me to live in that moment. To make the best decision with the intel at hand and to accept the consequences. Indecision wastes time and time means lives in this job. Analyze, Calculate, and Execute. Now things begin to come into focus. Owen is working with Sarena Patel, the woman who will enact the Superhero Registration Act and pave the way for Mistress Ock. Sarena Patel who, given the evidence at hand, IS Mistress Ock, a dangerous Technopath who rules the world with ancient cosmic power after the world’s heroes are wiped out by the SRA and the Civil War it causes. The battle lines are drawn. My beliefs have solidified. Owen’s confirmation and decision saddens me, yet it clarifies where we are now. All that’s left is to move forward.
I can feel the indecision leaving me and my powers are growing in response. This will bear watching. I almost killed Ken during the robbery because I couldn’t control the force of my blows. Now that I’m growing stronger…. I can’t even imagine it. It’s commonplace knowledge that people are truly hurt when I engage them in combat. Tabitha’s comment about Singularity knocking the muggers head off rang true to my dismay. I control one of the four fundamental energies in the universe, but if I can’t restrain it than I’m a danger to those I strive to protect. I can do better. I WILL do better.
All in all, however, everything is going smoother than it has in a long while. The Thunderbolts gaining national attention, interviews, a comic deal. Sydney says that it will help to gain control of it from the beginning, that public opinion can be a powerful weapon against the SRA. I believe her. Sydney is a social media mastermind, the PR expert of the team. She knows what she’s doing. It seems so long ago when I regretted her being put on the team. We’ve gone through a lot together in such a short time. We all have. This team has been forged in the fire of combat and turmoil. Is it perfect? No. But it’s working, and getting better day by day. Bonds of friendship and trust are growing stronger. Sydney put her trust in me on the rooftop and I will do the same in turn. Now Dr. Pym has been appraised of the situation and is working on creating a failsafe into the Ultron program. The woman who will become Mistress Ock in the future has been apprehended and placed in a prison where her future counterpart cannot reach her. Our next objective is the U.S. Congress and the vote of S.H.I.E.L.D’s New Director. My first idea is Maria Hill. After my epiphany with Owen I realized that S.H.I.E.L.D. is indeed flawed, in part because of it’s workings but mostly because of the people at the helm of it. In my dealings with Ms. Hill I have seen her to be a woman of great moral character while exhibiting equal amounts of Practicality. Maria is well versed in the full scope of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s operations. She has the skill to fully utilize those operations, yet has the compassion to balance it out. Dr. Pym has recommended that we get Captain Rogers to speak to the president on Maria’s behalf. I only wonder how much to tell him…..
And then there’s the normal teenage stuff. Gwen and Octavious, Sydney and Ken, Tabitha and I, with Homecoming coming up it almost feels…normal. Granted, Gwen is pining over a former villain that’s old enough to be her grandfather, Sydney is planning national press releases for the Thunderbolts, and I foolishly told Tabitha that she could come with me if something happens at Homecoming, but all in all it’s as normal as we can make it. I’d love to separate the two halves of my life, Superhero and Teenager, but so often the former intrudes on the latter. It’s the price we pay for the life we choose. But for the first time I feel like I have a modicum of control over both… :)
So…..I have a girlfriend now. That’s…..unexpected. I know that the team has been pushing me into this but a part of me always suspected that this was just a misunderstanding. Now it’s official…..and yet I still can’t stop thinking about its implications. All of a sudden Tabitha has powers and wants to know about the other people who have powers. Plus the sudden joke about killing DM. There are alarm bells going off in my head. Another person getting close to me, another person I’m not sure I can trust…. She doesn’t seem to have made the link between me and Singularity, which is quite surprising actually (the whole “Superhero Protocol” thing…) DM is worried that I’ll give out Thunderbolt secrets, ME….the only non-descript, low-profile member of this team. Such an idea would make me laugh if I wasn’t busy wondering who I can trust….
I’m going nuts here. Now Owen’s on my couch. My best friend might be a spy, my new girlfriend may be a spy, the agency that’s I’ve dedicated my life to may be trying to hunt me down soon, and I’m trying to carve out a normal life out of this. I need something that I can just…..not think about when I’m a part of it. Something that doesn’t require me to map out strategies and triple guess motives. I want something simple…. Hopefully I’m just jumping at shadows. I’d hate to think that that the good things coming to my life were just distractions to get my guard down……
Of course there’s my team. Well intentioned plotting aside, their predicaments worry me. Sydney’s dragon grows more powerful, DM’s meddling with forces that I can barely fathom, and Gwen’s “interest” with Dr. Octavius is more than troubling. God, the thought of her possibly being who we’re trying to stop is beyond troubling. I don’t want distrust embedding itself in the heart of the team when we’re just starting to come together….but I will still keep my eye on Gwen. Try as we might, no one knows what the future holds…..
The Helicarrier has fallen. One of the first steps along the path to the dystopian future that Aaron has shown me. Chicago in ruins, humanity on the brink of annihilation, Doctor Octopus has the world wrapped up in HER tentacles (lovely little detail that changed EVERYTHING). It’s easy to see how future intel thought that Repto-Mark took out the Helicarrier since it happened within minutes of his appearance. But he had nothing to do with it. Meaning it was an inside job. Square one. Meanwhile, Fury’s M.I.A. , Maria has her hands tied behind her back, and it’s only going to get worse. The first domino has fallen, now we have to figure out how to keep the rest standing.
This is insane. Too many plates are spinning and I can’t help but wonder which will drop first. Gwen with her infatuation with the current Doc Ock, the neutralization of A.I.M. which just so happens to be based under our rival school Northside Prep, as if I have any time to deal with normal teenage shenanigans right now (HOW THE HELL DID TABITHA GET PAST THE GRAVITY BARRIER?!). First things first. I cannot give the upcoming Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. any ammo towards the registration act. Any disobedience could very well give her the excuse she needs to take us further down the path of doom. We need to be united when Doc Ock shows up, but we also need to be free. We’ll have to play along and follow orders until the time comes when we will have to break away. God willing, we may even be able to stop it from ever getting to that point,. I think it’s time we got in touch with Dr. Pym and had a discussion about the Ultron program…
…….there’s something else. Something I don’t want to dwell on or even admit that I heard. But Owen….he said “That was actually my plan.” Surely he could’ve come up with that once he acclimated to the new situation, I mean Owen is the best Tactician I’ve ever seen. But…….what if this was his plan all along? What if HE brought down the carrier? Can I actually trust him…?
Well…THAT’S another complication. The first time I try to be social and of course I draw the attention of Tabitha Dwindle, head reporter for the Payton Paw Print. Now I’m trying to think up adequate backstories while the whole team is in my ear, screaming so loud I can barely think. I’m torn between protecting our cover and dealing with my team. Never mind the fact that she’s pretty freakin’ gorgeous.
This wouldn’t work, would it? How does one deal with romantic feelings while the burdens of a superhero weigh them down? Oh hell, she’s probably not even interested. I was right on the scene when Sydney pulled her stunt on the stairwells and I have odd ties to random people. I’m probably a curiosity to her, nothing more. But…I can’t help staring. Could there be something there? Shouldn’t I at least try? If I don’t then I’ll never know for sure. And if she is…well then we can deal with the ramifications of dating a mundane. But lets cross that bridge when we come to it.
On top of all of this Hydra decides to invade the US. Audacious move. Hydra has been active for a long time but they haven’t done anything this bold in a long while. Plus the appearance of the mysterious techno-path. Tabitha’s safe, so I can put that aside now. Hydra or the techno-path…..? Ugh, I’ve got to know! He may not show up again! This shouldn’t take long. I’ll see what he knows and get back to the team. In the mean time I’ll let Sydney hold down the team. Perhaps some responsibility will cool her down, help her think about her actions. Plus she’ll have DM and Gwen (hopefully sometime soon, Gwen!) to counsel her. Hell, she listens to them much more than she listens to me, so she should be fine. Besides, as I said, this won’t take long…..
That was careless. The mission must have top priority at all times. I lost focus, and yet…it wasn’t ALL bad. The team got the mission done. Granted it involved setting off every alarm in the mansion, but the eye was secured. Mission accomplished.
Now…I have to deal with what happened with Vanessa. Vanessa Fisk, wife of Wilson Fisk. The Kingpin. I think I’ll keep this little tryst out of the report. I know total debriefing is mandatory as per S.H.I.E.L.D. Protocol, but this is probably best kept under wraps. Regardless of who led me into it, this slip up was on me. I’ll take responsibility for the fall out as it comes. It was Al Monroe who ended up in Vanessa’s room that night. No obvious ties to S.H.I.E.L.D. present so Al Monroe will have to deal with it. It’s odd, I know that what happened was bad, I mean REALLY bad, but for that night….I didn’t have to think. There was no Protocol, no leadership conundrums, no saving the world, there was just us in the moment. Not having to worry about the world for a moment…it felt…nice.
A sleeper agent. Owen…a possible sleeper agent? Direct descendant of The Red Skull, remnants of the Super Soldier Serum in his veins. He was an orphan. S.H.I.E.L.D. Protocol 46582-465 details the acceptable adoption of orphaned children who show remarkable aptitude in the fields of counter-insurgency and infiltration. The most notable instance of this protocol is the Black Widow program. I knew Owen was special, but…this? Suddenly all of the alternatives seems terrible. Owen as a deep cover infiltrator into S.H.I.E.L.D., Owen as a sleeper agent with no knowledge of his actual mission or heritage whose mission won’t be revealed until a certain code-phrase is spoken, Owen as a completely innocent agent who will never be trusted fully again due to the possibility of the first two options. Betrayed by the blood in his veins, the trust that is so important in this line of work has been shattered. And here I stand, desperate to help my best friend and desperate to defend my country and the world from those who would do it harm.
I’ll admit, my faith in S.H.I.E.L.D. has been dwindling as of late. Questionable calls by Colonel Fury has me wondering where I fit in this. The detainment of innocent bystanders as a means of taunting Bruno into engaging us? The loopholes in the Protocol that allow him to do so? That last one has me the most worried. If Fury was corrupt then it would be one thing, but the very principles that S.H.I.E.L.D. is based on allows this kind of tactic to be employed by our so called protectors. The means by which we achieve victory must mean something. If we succeed in our mission by resorting to the very measures that our foes rely on then the line that separates us from them grows distressingly thin. Yet…the goal, to protect the people that have placed their trust in us, is paramount. What would you be willing to give to protect those you love? Anything? Including your honor?
I cannot dwell on these questions. The mission at hand is far too important to not devote my full focus to. We prepare to infiltrate Silvermane’s gala dinner and to retrieve the actual Eye of Ra. My faith in the laws that I swore to protect must remain intact, for now…..
Current assignment is to team with the NYC S.H.I.E.L.D. school program to thwart Bruno a.k.a. Spiritbreaker from stealing the Eye of Ra. Commanding Officer: Jax (I forgot his real name, will edit later). This is the first real mission where I wasn’t in command. I thought it would be easier to apply myself to an assigned task and have no thought to the consequences. Instead I found myself questioning his command, internally of course so as to not cause dissention in the ranks. It seemed all to lax, too imprecise. I never felt this way in the sim with Owen. I came to realize the reason was that I didn’t trust Jax. Not his motives, but his methods. I had no rapport with him and I wasn’t confident in his ability to lead. It occurs to me, and not for the first time, that trust is the quintessential quality for every leader to have. It’s not his strength, or his tactical aptitude, but his ability to inspire trust in his team. Trust that he knows what he’s doing. Trust that he’ll keep them safe. Trust that he’ll get the job done. Blind obedience, blind trust is expected of every soldier, but I’m slowly learning that that’s not what I’m build for. Too much power has been placed in my hands to justify using it at the behest of others. Blind obedience is easier for some people, but it appears that I’m cut from a different cloth.
The mission has gone awry. Bruno has managed to tear through the NYC team and captured the Helicarrier somehow. Huntris managed to escape death but the rest of her team was not so fortunate. Bruno is a powerful foe, no question, but the ultimate fate of the team must fall on the leaders shoulders. The consequences of our decisions is laid bare before my eyes as we discover the remains of Jax’s team. My decisions affect not only myself, but the rest of my team. My team, who is slowly coming to trust me. The price of that trust is that I must protect them. No matter the cost. Bruno managed to escape, but he will pay for what he’s done. To Jax’s team and my own…
I feel like I’m in over my head. Sydney’s rash actions, DM’s threats and self-righteousness, S.H.I.E.L.D.’s secretiveness, and the stress of actually being in Combat situations are piling high on my plate. DM’s words press me from all sides. I’ve long understood the reasons for the Protocol, the necessity of instant obedience, but his words force me to reconsider. It occurs to me that everyone on this team is among the most powerful young metas on this planet. All of us are capable of A LOT of destruction, and when working together our effectiveness grows exponentially. This is a POWERFUL team. And…..I’m their leader. How does one even attempt to lead such a group? I had trouble harnessing all of my own strength, now I’m responsible for 3 others just as powerful as I am?
None of them are S.H.I.E.L.D. trainees either, so the Protocol doesn’t hold sway at all. But is DM right? “With Great Power comes Great Responsibility” Peter’s words echo in my head. To wield Great power at the behest of my superiors was fine when I was young, I mean, these are the Good Guys, surely they know better than me! But lately… with this Owen thing, I find myself questioning. I can’t let myself become a mindless weapon aimed at perceived enemies, and I know that my team wouldn’t stand for it. It goes against years of training, but my questions cannot be denied. The reality of being a Superhero is a lot more complex than the perceptions of my childhood.
As for my team, I’m still at a loss. Where does one balance on the fine line between trust and obedience? How do I learn to trust my team to make decisions? How do I gain their trust and elicit obedience when I need it the most? Steve does it so naturally. So did Owen. They were born to it. I seem born only to destroy…
Another successful mission. Bo Dallas is in custody, his victims are being taken care of, and we even came together as a team for a little while. Why then, do I feel so troubled? This is the first time I disobeyed a direct order from S.H.I.E.L.D. command. They felt we didn’t have enough evidence and we made sure Bo was the culprit before taking him down, nevertheless, the whole situation has me troubled. My father once said that the mark of a good officer was to follow orders without hesitation, even when you didn’t agree with them. I took that to heart, yet I feel we made the right move with Bo. If we waited much longer he might have gotten away or hurt others. We confirmed his guilt and took him down, but violated so many protocols. I doubt my dad and The Colonel will see it that way…
And then there’s Owen. Held against his will in the Helicarrier, signs of abuse clear as day. Yet Fury told me he was M.I.A. And who was it that told me of Owen’s location in the first place? There are too many unknowns for me to go charging in. I need to find more intel, but I dare not wait too long. I don’t know what scares me more, If Owen’s detainment is without merit or if there actually IS a good reason to detain him…
I shouldn’t be here. Owen was the better leader by far. Tactical Genius, Commanding Presence, he had it all. Why choose me to lead the team? At the very least I needed him to be my right hand. We were a team, him and I. He had the Brain to come up with the plan and I had the Brawn to get it done. He’s one of the few kids I actually grew up with in the program, one of the few who treated me as normal. As if it weren’t bad enough now Owen’s M.I.A., leaving me to deal with this mess…
DM and Gwen were my obvious choices. Gwen’s control over her body chemistry coupled with her all-around prowess and experience make her an invaluable asset to the team. According to Steven’s profile DM is a sorceror with vast power and potential. His mystical expertise and his ability to think outside the box will tip the scales in any conflict. And Owen would’ve brought the Tactical knowledge to bring us together as a highly efficient unit. But instead….I got Sydney. A rash, impulsive, literal Hot-Head who listens to no one but her fan base and her adrenaline cravings. Her stunt with Snowflame almost got her killed and nearly jeopardized the mission. On top of that she actively inspires chaos and non-cooperation in and out of combat. What? Is she another test? To see if I’m able to get her or ANY of them to listen to me? Another obstacle added to an almost impossible task? I wasn’t sure I’d be able to lead the team I’d actually CHOSEN, how do they expect me to pull this off now?
I’m…..not good with people. The only combat training I’ve done had been with the bots in the S.H.I.E.L.D. danger room, since it’s S.H.I.E.L.D. protocol isolate Metahuman personel with Alpha Class powers from other personel due to the possibility of serious injury. Hell our training sim with Cap-Bot was the first time I’d been in a danger situation with other Metas before. As soon as my powers kicked in playing with kids my own age went directly out the window. How do they expect me to lead a team of my peers when they’ve barely even let me TALK to my peers…?