Chapter 21

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   Winter took me back to the tower, and we didn't speak the entire time. Everyone was still in the conference room when we got back. They still had my file up there on the projection system, however it was a different page that was labeled Most Effective Torment Methods.
   Everyone stopped to look at us, and Fury turned off the computer so that I couldn't see the data, even though I knew the best ways to torture myself.
   "Ms. Summer, you're back. I hope your dad didn't have to drag you back here, because we can't have you getting hurt anytime soon." He was still hesitating on what to call me.
   "Why? I'm probably not cleared for any field work, if you were considering me for it," I deadpanned.
   "I don't care if you're cleared or not. We believe you may have information on a new HYDRA entity."
   "Who?"
   Fury turned on the computer again and pulled up some security footage. It was blurry and colorless. One would think that if people had enough tech to make solar powered guns, they would update the security cameras.
   On the screen, a woman was wrestling another for a small child. She wore a mask and dark colors, like the Winter Soldier wore while under HYDRA's influence. It only took a couple seconds for the HYDRA woman to win the match and carry away the crying kid.
   "Do you know her?" Fury asked. I examined the clearest frame closer. Her hair looked blonde and frizzy, she had a skinny body, maybe 5'10. If I didn't know better, I would say she was Clara. But I know %100 that I snapped her neck, and I watched Winter bury her.
   "I don't think so, but it kind of looks like one of my friends that died a little while ago . . . on the field." I crossed my arms. "But I don't think it's her."
   Fury shook his head. "Still you're the only one that could recognize her and perhaps get more info on her. You're also the only one that can get through the security system." He turned his accusatory tone towards Stark, who threw his arms up.
   "They changed the security system about a month and a half ago, right before you came. They're very complex." He tried to make it seem like he didn't care, but I could tell this was killing him inside.
   "Anyway," Fury turned back to me. "We'll need a couple days to determine who will accompany you on this mission, and what the plan is. In the mean time, I need Ms. Summer to be briefed on protocol as fast as possible, because she will be leading. So who wants to help her?"
   When no one responded, Tony spoke up. "My intern can do it. He needs to learn too, and they can study together."
   "Are you sure that's a good idea Stark? What's your plan for Mr. Parker?" Fury asked.
   "My plan is to make him an Avenger. And if he's going to do that, he needs to learn protocol."
   Fury seemed satisfied with that, so he grabbed a stack of thick black binders, and dropped them in my arms.
   "Go find Mr. Parker and inform him on the assignment," he said. "Now if you'll excuse me, I have a top secret organization to attend to. Ms. Summer, I hope you found your welcome enjoyable." He glared when he said that last part, then left the room. Wanda and Vision followed suit.
   "So Auriana, now that you have two names to choose from," Tony turned to me. "What do you want to be called? I can't imagine you want to be called Summer all your life."
   I hadn't really thought about that. From my experience, taking the fathers last name is traditional, but I haven't lived my life that traditionally up until now.
   "I don't know, I'll think about it." I said, then turned toward the door to find Peter.
   "Summer?" Tony called. I stopped.
   "The kid won't get here 'till five, and don't tell him about the Avenger thing. Just say you have to study, and who knows, this could be a test run for him."
   "You got it Stark."

   Five O'clock rolled around and Peter arrived, expecting more lab work with Stark. Instead, he found Tony and me, I was holding a stack of binders.
   "Hey, Auriana. What are we doing today Mr. Stark?"
   "Actually," I said. "You're actually going to be spending the next few days with me."
   "Ms. Summer, you don't have to talk for me." Stark emphasized the word Summer to remind me that I needed to decide what my name would be. "You'll be spending the next few days with her."
   Peter furrowed his eyebrows in confusion when he heard Stark emphasize my name. "Can I ask why Mr. Stark?" He set his backpack down. He had obviously come straight from school.
   "She's going on a mission in a couple days, and needs to learn protocol. I want you to learn as well, because Im trying to get Fury to give you a spot on the mission. Think of it as a test run."
   Peter's eyes went wide and started bouncing on his toes. "Wow, Mr. Stark really?" Oh my gosh this is such an amazing opportunity! I swear I won't let you down I promise!"
   Stark grabbed one of the binders from me and tossed it at Peter, who caught it with one hand.
   "Don't get your hopes up. But I need you to study just in case I get you in. If I do, you work for free the next month."
   "Yes sir! Come on Auriana, let's go." Peter picked up his backpack and practically skipped toward the elevator. "Wait where are we going?"
   "Yeah we can go to my floor and look it over in the living room," I chuckled. Peter rushed over to to grab my flesh arm and dragged me away.
   "Wow you are excited," I giggled when he jumped up and down in the elevator.
   "Of course I'm excited! I could be an Avenger, and I could go on my first mission! Auriana, you have no idea how long I've waited for this."
   I loved seeing him excited like this, so I bit my tongue. I didn't tell him how much hurt all of this would bring. I didn't tell him how scary it all was, and I didn't tell him how ruthless everyone was. If he was to become an Avenger, he'd find out in his own time.
   We studied for the next few hours and into the night. I finished two of the three binders, and none of the protocol was surprising to me. It was basically HYDRA's rules, except with different goals. The only difference was that I didn't have to eliminate any witnesses. Since everyone knew who the Avengers were, we didn't have to keep it a secret.
   That was the only thing that I could see myself having problems adjusting to. All my life, it was grilled into my head.
   ELIMINATE WITNESSES ELIMINATE WITNESSES ELIMINATE WITNESSES
   If we didn't terminate bystanders, a whole world of pain would be coming our way, and then we would need to go out and kill the people that saw us.
   Peter was a little more surprised about the rules than me. "What? Not everyone is given info about the mission? Why?"
   "Because if someone is compromised or captured, then they can't reveal any facts that the captor needs. So the people that are more likely to be taken, are given false information, so that the bulk of the mission is safe from prying eyes."
   Peter shrugged. "I guess I can see that, but if it's fake, then how would I do the mission right?"
   "They'll still make it work with the mission. If it's a rescue, you could be told it's an info extraction. If you don't get the info, no ones gonna fault you for it, because it wasn't important to the actual mission. But you need to listen to me very carefully."
   He leaned in. "I'm listening."
   I pointed to the middle of his chest with my metal hand. "Even if you think it's fake, I need you to believe it from the depths of your soul, because it could be true. If you can't execute this correctly, you could be kicked off the team, or worse. You could die. Is that clear?"
   He nodded his head vigorously.
   "When do you need to go home?" I asked. Peter looked at his watch.
   "Oh crap, I need to get home, Aunt May will be so mad," he gasped. He pulled out his phone and called his aunt, who wasn't mad at all. I'm guessing she was used to Peter working late nights here.
   He hung up and took the binder he hadn't gone through yet, and started toward the elevator.
   "Peter?" I called out.
   "Yeah?"
   "Don't tell your aunt about any of this. Not the mission, not the binders, nothing. Just tell her you were doing more lab work."
   Peter flung his backpack over his shoulders and sprinted towards the stairwell. Even long after his footsteps faded, I sat there looking at all the papers splayed out in front of me. None of it surprised me, but it did worry me.
   I worried for Peter; he had no idea what killing does to a person. I didn't want him to have to go through that, he was too innocent.
   Steve and my dad can through the elevator soon after Peter left. I was just starting to pack up the papers and notes.
   "Hey Auriana," Steve said. "Fury wanted you to have this." He waved a cell phone in the air and tossed it at me.
   "All of our contacts are already in there, so you don't need to program it or anything. The screen works with your metal hand, and already knows your voice and fingerprints."
   "Wow, that was fast. I didn't expect to get all of this so quickly. I've only been here a month."
   "Well we're all going to have to trust you on this," Winter said matter of factly. "Because we're at a point now where we know nothing about HYDRA. They've changed all of their security, and we have no idea how to get through. You're our only hope of getting ahead right now."
   "That sure puts a lot of pressure on me." I smiled and put the phone away in my pocket. "What happens if I can't do it?"
   "Nothing," Steve said, patting me on the back. "You're one of us now, whether you can get through security or not. And if you ever need anything, you can always come to me or Bucky or Natasha. We can, and we will help you."
   I planned on avoiding my parents until I went on the mission. I still wasn't very comfortable with the whole "new family" thing. If I needed anything I was probably going to ask Clint or Vision.
   I closed the binders and stood up. "Thanks, it means a lot. Really."
   Then I left them alone.

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