Author: Del Rion (delrion.mail (at) gmail.com)
Fandom: The Avengers (MCU)
Era: Post-Avengers movie
Genre: Action, drama
Rating: M / FRM
Characters: Bruce Banner (Hulk), Clint Barton (Hawkeye), Jane Foster, Nick Fury, Happy Hogan, J.A.R.V.I.S., Loki, Pepper Potts, James “Rhodey” Rhodes (War Machine), Steve Rogers (Captain America), Natasha Romanoff (Black Widow), Lady Sif and the Warriors Three (Fandral, Hogun and Volstagg), Tony Stark (Iron Man), Thor
(Brief/smaller appearances: Odin, Maria Hill, Darcy Lewis, The Other, Benjamin “Benny” Pollack, Erik Selvig, Jasper Sitwell, Claire Wise.)
Pairings: Happy/Pepper, Jane/Thor. Mentions of: Benny/Claire, Pepper/Tony
Summary: Iron Man never fell back through the portal. The Avengers must deal with the loss of their comrade and move on – until Earth once again comes under an attack from the Chitauri and their new-found weapons that decimate everything in their path with unmatched power and intellect. As cities and nations collapse around their decreasing resistance, the heroes of Earth must find a way to defeat their enemy before there is nothing left to avenge.
Work in progress.
Written for: Apocalypse Big Bang, Round One (apocalypsebang at LiveJournal)
Art: Imaan (insteadofdeath at dA/DW/LJ)
Warnings: Graphic description of torture, major character death, apocalypse & invasion themes (including but not limited to: mass destruction, terrorism, holocaust, death, violence and gore), brain-washing & mind-control, language (including some remarks that could be seen as racist). Serious spoilers for the ending of The Avengers (and other random spoilers for the rest of the movies in the Avengers cinematic universe).
If they could have taken a Quinjet and flown cross-country, the trip wouldn’t have taken long at all. However, when planning on entering enemy territory undetected – especially when said territory was shielded from their eyes – they needed to go unseen the entire way, not just the last few feet.
It was fitting that the first road trip of Steve’s life took him across a war-ravaged, post-apocalyptic landscape where they had to avoid both other people and their enemies; the people would want to take their vehicles and the enemies wanted them dead.
Desperation was making people turn on each other and after his initial protestation that Jane Foster join them on this trip, he was glad she had come because she knew how to navigate the small roads, avoid traps and keep them moving. Clearly she had done this before, not too long ago.
“They won’t care that you used to be heroes. Well, most of them won’t,” she explained. “When they see you have supplies, they will attack. They might come to realize the error of doing so too late but we can’t afford to get into fights, right?”
“Right,” Steve agreed. Getting shot by a random stranger desiring a can of food he had in his possession wasn’t the way Steve envisioned this trip ending, plus it would slow them down and possibly cripple them before they even reached the West Coast.
Besides Jane, the Avengers had been joined by Rhodey, who was there to find a new arc reactor or two for his suit. He was a welcome addition and a trustworthy ally. Pepper had come as well, insisting she could navigate their surroundings in Malibu better than anyone, no matter its current condition. Happy had of course come because Pepper was coming. Thor’s friends had joined them as well, some of them still healing just as the God of Thunder himself was, but they assured him they would be ready for battle when the time came.
“Asgardians can take more than what those metal monstrosities can offer!” Volstagg had boasted.
Yet even their loud bravado quieted as they drove through the lifeless and destroyed areas. Entire cities abandoned, corpses on the side of the road or in vehicles. Some of them curled together as if they had died like that, seeking protection and nearness. Men, women and children…
Steve realized, more firmly than before, that if they didn’t save the Earth soon, there would be nothing left to save. It wasn’t just a figure of speech anymore.
They had limited connection to the rest of the world as they traveled but Jane and Natasha worked on communications in the back of one van, occasionally getting Bruce’s input. The news didn’t change much; battles were fought, resistance mounting around the globe. Most of the world’s governments had fallen apart, seeking refuge and leaving their people to fend for themselves when armed forces were trampled to the ground. In some places, once defeated the people were left to their own devices but as soon as a prominent threat arose, the Chitauri dealt with it – or the mecha did. As long as humanity stayed down, hiding and groveling, they were of little interest to the invaders, but as soon as someone showed the knowledge, means or the guts to defy them, they were taken out.
S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Helicarriers had been the first step. After that things had gotten worse, bases destroyed and countless lives lost that had ensured that some kind of defense was still possible.
They were running out of time and allies.
Steve knew it was a harsh reality and as much as he hoped for it, they might not be able to protect the entire planet with just the few of them left. If they gained one victory, they couldn’t hold their ground and battle somewhere else at the same time. Something had to give. Perhaps Fury knew that, too, and he had unrealistic hopes that whatever was in Malibu would help them turn this war around.
When they reached Utah, they started avoiding open roads as much as possible. From time to time they saw other people and working vehicles, all of them headed somewhere else – most of them away from where they were going.
They didn’t see Chitauri or mecha, but that didn’t mean they weren’t around.
Once they reached California, they scouted ahead, leaving half the people with the cars and the other half checking out their surroundings, moving forward only when they were certain it was safe.
“We would be quicker going on foot,” Clint mused.
“If we find something salvageable in Malibu, we don’t want to have to carry them back to the vehicles across half the state,” Bruce noted.
“Or find that our transportation has been stolen,” Jane added.
They advanced, painfully slowly, but when they finally reached their destination and hid the cars, it felt almost surreal. The ocean glittered in late sunlight, the sky blue and clouds white. The sun was setting, sinking into the horizon and Clint just stared. Of course, it was just as easy to stare at the huge circular space ship hovering over the water, almost directly in line with Stark’s Malibu estate.
“I didn’t think the place was still standing,” Rhodey mused. They were hidden in the trees nearby, wearing protective gear that potentially hid their vital signs from mecha – something Bruce had thought would delay their discovery. As it was, two mecha seemed to be standing either on the beach or in the shallow water, looking like they were just dozing and enjoying the rays of the sun.
Clint hoped he could just blow their heads off but his arrows hadn’t done that before and he knew they wouldn’t do it now either.
He directed his gaze at the buildings before them. They looked almost whole, with only a couple windows broken and some scratches; not even a crumbled wall in sight. “Do we have a way in that doesn’t include us getting seen?” he asked.
“There’s a back exit near the tree-line,” Pepper said. “It’s more like a maintenance shaft. A tight squeeze for some of us but we should be able to get down to the workshop through it.”
“A maintenance shaft,” Clint frowned.
“Tony was an engineer,” Rhodey noted. “Trust me, a maintenance shaft was necessary with all the things he kept building underground. Plus it was a good, cool place to put some of the electronics, I think.”
“Show me,” Clint ordered and Pepper took him a bit off to the side and pointed. Clint nodded then told the others to wait while he went to search for the fastest point of entry. He was nearly in line with the door – more like a hatch – when the ground begun to tremble. He froze and waited, crouching low in the underbrush. A giant form moved above him, each step like a small earthquake; another mecha. This one was bigger, darker in color, striding towards the house. Clint expected it to jump down to join the others at sea-level but instead it stopped and knelt above the building. It remained there, down on one knee, one hand touching the ground and the other resting on the bent knee, much like a human would. Its head bowed and it stayed like that, still and quiet as if it hadn’t just been moving.
Clint eventually moved back to the others, who hadn’t missed the action.
“This is the mecha we battled in New York,” Sif said.
“It’s bigger,” Steve noted.
“Did you see the small mecha by any chance?” Bruce asked Clint as he joined them.
“No, but that thing is practically sitting on top of the house we were just contemplating on entering,” he replied.
“What a strange place to choose, although I guess this cliff offers a clear line of sight to the hovering ship,” Jane mused. The bulk of the mecha almost blocked their view of the circular space ship. The house also resided on the highest point of the immediate vicinity, the cliff it was built on thrusting slightly out towards the sea, so maybe that’s why the mecha had chosen this location. Clint might have done the same.
“We have to get in there,” Rhodey said.
“The plan hasn’t changed,” Steve reassured him.
“It hasn’t?” Clint blinked. He would go in if that was the plan but he didn’t have to like it.
Steve nodded. “We just have to be really quiet.”
For whatever reason, all of them turned to look at the Asgardians, many of which weren’t exactly known for their stealth approach to any situation.
“What?” Volstagg asked, clearly noticing the pointed looks.
to be continued…