Talia has just put Elena to bed, Zuko curling up beside her like a heater, when she smells intruders. Due to her enhanced senses, she can both smell and hear them before they know that she does. One of the perks of being a mixture of human and predator genes. Quickly, she sneaks around the side of the bed to shake Zuko awake. The dragon grumbles through their empathic link, snorting a smoky breath into her face.
“Mamma wha’ss goin’ on?” Elena asks as she wakes, smelling the smoke. “I thought it’s bedtime.”
“Elena, I need you to be very quiet,” Talia says as she shushes her daughter. “There are bad people outside the door.” She points to the door and then puts a finger to her lips. The little brunette nods, covering her mouth with both hands. Beside them, Zuko stiffens. He finally knows there’s something wrong in the house, can feel the waves of unease rolling off of the scarlet haired woman. Hackles rising, teeth bared, fire at the ready, they wait.
The door cracks open and both Talia and Zuko snarl. “Protect!” the woman shouts just as two guns pop over the top of what looks like Captain America’s shield.
Zuko roars and a stream of fire burst from his mouth, welling from the sulfur chambers hidden behind his lungs. It burns at temperatures hot enough to melt glass. Talia, while the two intruders are distracted, grabs the duffle bag stuffed with clothes, medicine, a blanket, and the rest of the money from the teddy bear. Elena clutches the back of her shirt, settling into the space between her wings.
Bullets are flying bouncing off Zuko’s scales and imbedding themselves in the wall. Captain America’s shield protects both people behind it from the fire.
“Zuko, come on!” Talia shouts as she rushes for the window, folding her wings around her body. Glass shatters as she pulls her daughter into her arms, pressing her face into her breast. Landing unsteadily on her feet, Talia opens her wings and glances over her shoulder.
A flash of red hair is all she sees before Elena begins to cry, whimpering slightly. “It’s alright, little dove, it’s alright.” As much as Talia tries to sooth her daughters, the whimpers keep coming.
‘Maybe there is no for us,’ Talia thinks as her lungs burn and her wings work double-time to get them out of there faster. But the bullets are flying and just as the scarlet haired woman launches herself off of the building, a bullet pierces her shoulder, right near the bone plate of her wing. Letting out a cry of pain, she staggers and falls to the side. “Mamma!” Elena cries. Zuko grabs the young girl just as Talia is about to hit the ground. He wraps his wings around her and holds her to his belly, protecting her. Another bullet embeds itself into eh eighteen-year-old’s thigh, making her fall to the ground. She knows Zuko isn’t strong enough to carry Elena out of here, so she calls him over and enfolds both youngsters into her arms, wrapping her wings around them. She hopes that their assailants will at least have the decency to know when they’ve won.
“She’s bleeding badly,” a masculine voice says close to her ear. “We should call in the quintjet and get them to HQ.”
“Just because it’s a kid doesn’t mean it won’t fight back,” an all too familiar voice snarls. “It could heal quickly, or just be pretending.”
“But, Nat, she’s just a kid,” Elena’s whimper interrupts them and Talia holds the girl tighter to her. “And she’s got her own kid to think about.” The masculine voice chuckles. “I bet Stark is gonna have a field day with them. Imagine the tests he’s gonna come up with.”
‘No more tests… please,’ Talia swallows the words back. She and her daughter are at the mercy of these people. Talia lifts one wing to look at the attackers. Zuko snarls again, flashing sharp teeth, smoke pouring from the side of his mouth. Blinking in surprise, she finds herself face to face with Captain America and Black Widow. If she wasn’t hurt and fearing for her daughter’s life, Talia would have been star struck.
However, her daughter interrupts her with another sad noise. “Mamma, why you red?” Looking from her idols from once upon a time to the only thing that matters in her life, her eyes well up. Elena’s hands are becoming covered in blood as her tiny hands gently touch the spot where Talia has been shot.
“‘Lena,” she softly whispers as she reaches up with her good hand to pull the brunette’s away. “Don’t touch. Mommy’s just got a booboo.” Talia sways, beginning to feel dizzy. There are black spots sneaking into the corner of her vision.
“Nat, she’s losing blood fast.” Captain America kneels down beside Talia, making the young woman clutch the child tighter to her chest. The dragon growls again, as if daring the man to come closer. “We can question her once we get back to base.” He reaches out gingerly, as if trying not to scare a wild beast. “We’re sorry we hurt you. We’re trained to react before thinking.” Black Widow scoffs behind him, but the Captain’s eyes remain focused on Talia. “We’ll keep you safe. I promise.”
Before Talia can answer, Elena points at the man and gives him the sternest look a three-year-old can give. She accuses in a stern squeaky voice, “You hurt my mamma!” There are tears in her eyes as she commands, “you fix her! Now!”
The red, white, and blue captain smiles. “Yes, little one, we can help your mamma.” He slowly wraps his hand around the arm clutching Elena to her chest, keeping his eyes focused on Talia’s sky blue eyes to silently reassure her that no harm will come to her daughter, Zuko tries to attack but the woman wraps her arms around his thick neck. Elena giggles as the man picks her up, poking the star I the center of his chest continuously.
“On your feet,” the Black Widow is less careful with Talia now that her daughter is not in her arms, a gun oppressing to into her back. “Don’t make any sudden moves. Once we get back to Base, you become our property until we can figure out what to do with you.”
Talia bites her lip, watching as Captain America makes her daughter laugh. Zuko sends her feelings of comfort through the bond and she sends him the image of a hug. Looking bravely at the Black Widow, master assassin and spy, oceanic blue eyes meeting forest green, she says in a raspy monotonous tone, “Project Predator and Project Firebreather from the Facility.” Her eyes sparkle. “Look it up. I can hack into it from your phone, if you like.” The Black Widow growls.
“What are you?” the scarlet haired assassin asks, jade eyes wary. “Some kind of mech? A spy?” She makes Talia walk forward as she begins to interrogate the girl. “Zuko sticks close to the young girl, his snout pressing gently against her hip. “And what the hell is with the dragon?”
“I stole his egg when I escaped.” The mutant puts her palm against the red lizard’s head. “The scientists at the Facility were talking about using him against you…” Biting her lip, she fixes her statement. “No, the Avengers, the new SHIELD.”
“Who did you hear? Who told you about that?” Captain America comes up on her other side, Elena sitting on his shoulders. “Hydra or another organization? No one should know of us.”
“I don’t know,” Talia spits, gritting her teeth against the pain as she tries to cross her arms. “You think I cared to learn about the people who were trying to make me into a killing machine? All I know is that they made me do tests that would kill a normal human… apparently, neither of my parents were human either.” Her eyes sparkled like blue fire. “I was tortured my whole life. I don’t know who my parents are, or who Elena’s sire is.” Tears stream down her cheeks. It the first time she’s cried since Elena was born. “I… they tried to kill me when I got out. If it hadn’t been for the super-serum running through my blood, the three of us would have been dead in a ditch somewhere.” Captain America and Black Widow exchange a look at the word serum, but they have more on their hands at the moment.
“Hey,” the red, white, and blue hero put a hand on her uninjured shoulder, “we’ll figure it out. You’re not alone anymore. We’ll help you.”
“How can I trust you when there’s a gun pointed at me,” her eyes flick over her shoulder at the Black Widow. Captain America tilts his head at her and she lowers the gun, yet keeps it in her hand. Talia nods in thanks, her eyes wide, before she stumbles. Her body begins sag and Black Widow wraps an arm around her, grunting at the weight of the young girl and her wings. She puts the gun into the holster at her hip and tries to help the girl stand with two free hands.
“Mamma!” Talia can hear Elena screaming, but it sounds muffled, like it’s underwater. “Mamma!” Blinking, she turns to reach wherever her daughter might be, but her body is weak and her hands grasp at air.
“Mamma!” is the last thing she hears before everything goes black.