No Second Guesses, No Regrets
A soft breeze drifted through the open window of the rustic cabin. The sun was setting behind the hill that the structure was nestled near, and the sounds of twilight began to permeate the space. Tiny spring peeper frogs sang along the edge of the property, and the haunting call in the distance declared an owl's presence. A light was on in the cabin, and smoke drifted from the chimney as a small fire was laid in the fireplace to displace the chill in the air. The wind picked up, and the occupant of the lodge shivered and crossed over to the window. The woman pushed her hair out of her eyes and glanced to the horizon, the sky streaked with orange and pink, sensing something in the air. Her eyes drifted to the east, where the first stars were appearing; it was coming from that direction. She could feel familiarity approaching, and was not surprised to see a stealth jet appear and land in the clearing 200 yards from the house.
She smiled slightly, closed the window and returned to her overstuffed chair, her Kindle and her cup of tea. She curled up and waited for the knock on the door. It came moments later, and with a wave of her hand it opened gently. She didn't need to look up to see the dark figure standing in her door way. Taking a sip of tea, she continued to read. "Director Coulson, such a surprise," she said sardonically. "To what do I owe the pleasure?"
The man straightened his suit jacket and stepped across the threshold, waiving to the accompanying man to wait on the porch. "Good evening, Agent McKenna. SHIELD was hoping you would consider coming back to join us."
Taryn stood and walked to the kitchen. "Can I offer you some tea, Phil?"
"Actually, I need to return to the facility. But I wanted to see you personally to extend the invitation."
She poured water into her cup, and set the kettle back on the stove and sighed. "Why do you need me again? You have your god, and your metal man, your Boy Scout etcetera… why me?"
Coulson approached the kitchen island. "Because the Avengers have need of your particular talents." He reached into his breast pocket and pulled out a flash drive. "The information is in here. Review it. If you're interested, you know how to contact me." Taryn watched him place the drive on the countertop and turn to walk out. "It was good to see you again, Taryn."
She smiled softly. She couldn't be mad at Coulson. "You too Phil. Thanks for the visit."
He nodded and smiled and exited the cabin. She could hear the jet fire up and eventually take off. She stared at the drive for a long time before she picked it up. Taryn headed down the hall to the den. In the back of the room, the carpet concealed a trap door. She pulled out a book from the bookshelf, revealing a retina scanner and leaned in to be scanned. She heard the latch unlock and the carpet and trap door slid away, revealing a staircase. She descended, and the door closed behind her.
The lights illuminated the room as she stepped in, and she sat at the large oak desk. She waived her hand across the surface of the desk and it split and her computer system rose from inside. Taryn plugged the flash drive into the USB and opened files containing information on one of the latest enemies that SHIELD and the Avengers seemed to be up against. Bio-terrorists of a sort. Working to clean the world of mutants, gifted, classifieds, masquerading as a Weapons and Tech manufacturer … She had seen this before and she was sure this wouldn't be the last time. People like these were afraid of anyone who showed some sort of "ability". They had recently tried to attack a small group of mutants at a compound down south. Unfortunately there had been several casualties, civilians among them. SHIELD wanted this group neutralized. The leader went by the name of Markus Thornfeld and he had been raised by a family that had instilled these beliefs in him.
She read the file until the wee hours of the morning and had made the decision that it was a good cause and something she was directly affected by. She would contact Coulson in the morning and begin the next phase of her career with SHIELD.
Taryn's bags were packed and waiting by the front door. She had removed her laptop from her lair below the cabin and was packing that up when she heard a knock at the door. Setting the computer case down, she went to the door and hesitated. Reaching out with her mind, she realized it wasn't Coulson. She wasn't sure who it was but they were not malevolent. Cautiously opening the door, and putting up a shield, she recognized James Rhodes, associate of Tony Stark.
Rhodes smiled brightly. "Good morning, Agent McKenna. Director Coulson sent me to retrieve you. He is off on assignment."
Taryn shook his hand and invited him in. "Just give me a moment and I'll be right with you." She disappeared down the hall, grabbed her shoes and said goodbye to the cabin.
Rhodes had taken her bags down to the jet for her and waited for her on the front porch. "All set?" he asked with a smile.
She nodded and locked the door, knowing it would be protected with the extensive security system she had installed. She took a deep breath, then followed him to the plane. Boarding, Rhodes when up to the front of the plane to relay instructions to the pilot. Taryn withdrew her MP3 player from her bag and sat, buckling herself in. James sat opposite her, let her know that it would be about an hour and settled in for the flight.
They shared pleasant conversation for about half the flight, then he got a call, and she plugged herself into her music. The rest of the flight went quickly, and soon they were touching down at a new facility in upstate New York. Rhodes informed her that they would take care of her baggage and she was to head up to the main gate.
Slinging her computer bag over her shoulder, she made her way down the ramp and over to the front entrance of the compound. As she got closer, two figures stepped out of one of the guard houses. She recognized them both from their dossiers; the ones she referred to as the Boy Scout and the Assassin.
Assassin nodded to the security camera and the gate opened. The two stepped forward. "Agent McKenna, welcome to the new SHIELD facility."
Taryn stepped through the gate and extended a hand. "Natasha Romanoff, the Black Widow. Master assassin turned Avenger." Romanoff warily shook her hand with a raised brow.
Taryn turned to the other figure. "And you are Steve Rogers, Captain America. A soldier enhanced to the peak of human abilities. It's a pleasure to meet you both." She shook his hand and it was warmly received.
Steve was a bit taken aback by her firm grip. "Welcome, Agent McKenna."
She smiled sincerely at him and Natasha just eyed her with suspicion.
"Please, call me Taryn."
"Well, Taryn… We'll show you to your quarters and we'll be having briefing at oh eight hundred tomorrow," said Natasha
"Understood. Director Coulson provided me information on the situation. I am looking forward to meeting the rest of the team."
Steve piped in. "They will all be at the meeting tomorrow."
Taryn nodded as they arrived at her quarters. Steve handed her an ID badge with her photo already on it. "Such a lovely mugshot," she chuckled.
He leaned in. "It doesn't look bad at all… er... eh hem… Yes, well, you'll find a schematic of the compound and it will show you where all the meeting rooms, training rooms, cafeteria are and so forth."
She smiled up at him. His pictures didn't do him justice. He was much more handsome in person. Dark blond hair, in a bit of a throwback style, short, well kempt. His blue eyes were bright and kind and his physique was definitely at peak. Natasha was attractive, lithe and agile. Her red hair fell in waves just below her jawline and she stood about 4 inches shorter than Taryn. She knew enough not to take Natasha lightly because of her height, however. She had seen her in action in the files, and knew she was no one to be trifled with.
"Well thank you both. If it isn't an issue, I may just take a walk around and familiarize myself with the place."
Natasha nodded and was already heading down the hall way. Taryn had been dismissed. Well this was going to be a tough nut to crack. Steve remained standing there, not really sure what to say. "Ahh… If you're hungry I can show you the cafeteria?"
She thought about it for a moment. "Actually, I kind of am… Let me just put my bag in my quarters."
He nodded and waited for her in the doorway. He wasn't sure what he had been expecting from her file, but she wasn't it. She was tall and athletic looking, but not overly muscular. She had the look of a dancer to him – long legs, graceful arms. She wore her wavy chestnut hair in a loose bun at the nape of her neck and had a very nice figure. Raising a brow at his thoughts, he composed himself as she came back out to the hallway.
"So welcome to the facility," said Steve as they walked along the passage. "I, and Natasha have read your files and thought you may be well qualified for our team. We'll discuss the newest mission fully in the meeting in the morning. While you're here you'll have full access to the facility – there are training rooms, two large weight rooms with gym equipment. We have a several intelligence rooms and a command center. There is also a large garage and hangar."
She nodded taking it all in. "Quite impressive. It's nice to see SHIELD still standing after all it's been through recently. They've always been good to me."
The two reached the cafeteria that looked more like a casual restaurant. She walked up to the menu boards and was overwhelmed by the choices. She ordered a turkey sandwich with small salad and flavored water. Steve was just standing there, so she asked him if he would like to join her.
"Ah, well … are you sure you don't mind?"
She raised an annoyed brow at him. "I wouldn't have asked. Besides, I don't like to eat alone."
The two sat at a table by the window and conversed generically about the weather and being a part of SHIELD. Just as they were finishing their meal, Romanoff appeared at Steve's side.
"You're needed in the control room."
Steve nodded and became all business. "Right. Taryn, we'll see you in the morning."
Natasha glanced back at her with a look that would have frozen lava. Taryn smiled weakly and wondered what she had done to get on her bad side already.
That night, Taryn settled in, changing into her pajamas and curled up on the bed with her laptop reviewing the files one more time before the briefing in the morning. She reviewed each dossier again; Rogers and Romanoff – they were the advisers to this new group of Avengers. Hmm… perhaps they were a couple which is why Natasha kept giving her wicked looks when she was interacting with Steve. Taryn laughed out loud that Natasha could think she was a threat…
Then there was James Rhodes, nick named "Rhodey", donned a suit similar to Stark's Iron Man and was known as War Machine. Wanda Maximoff, aka Scarlet Witch, could manipulate hypnosis and telekinesis. Sam Wilson, known as the Falcon was ex-military and an aerial combat specialist. Last but not least was the Vision. Created by a failed experiment by a robot created by Tony Stark. She was still trying to wrap her head around that one. It would be interesting to personally meet this crew. Of course no one knew her from anyone. She supposed they were briefed on her and her abilities. How she had been a member of SHIELD for some time. How she could read thoughts and anticipate an enemy's actions and was a strong telekinetic. She read a bit more, but yawned and decided to retire for the evening. It would be an interesting meeting in the morning, she mused.