20 year old Dakota has made up her mind: she's joining the Avengers. She has always known she was different, because of her father (L.). SHIELD has big plans with her and she accepts their intention to make her a soldier, not realizing how quickly things can escalate.


10. Bootcamp

I left the tower for good and headed to the countryside. There was a hidden camp somewhere in a location I wasn’t supposed to know, but I knew anyway. It was between the border of Canada and the States, no man’s land near a big lake.
The journey didn’t take too long, on a frigging plane again…
I survived the first part and quickly settled in my small room with three other women. They looked more experienced than me and were foot soldiers with big dreams.
That same day training started and I had never been such a noob. No magic allowed.

“Okay, here’s how it’s going to go,” a severe and big man with no hair started preaching to the group freshers I had never met before. We were ordered from big to small, I was the smallest one.
“I positioned you like this for a reason, so you will know what your place in this world is compared to others.”
I turned my head to look at all the guys on my left. They all looked so determined, their eyes met a point in the distance straight ahead and ignored the pacing man in front of them.
“And now you know!” the man yelled in my ear, I peeped at him with no fear and he stood still.
“Dakota! You are the smallest one, what does that mean?”
“That I’m the weakest, sir?”
His eyebrows raised in surprise.
“Yes, so you know your place, but you are aware of the rules here too?”
“No mutant tricks, sir!”
He was even more surprised but didn’t show it and returned.
“You all heard it: no mutant tricks! Brick, you control your strength, Luis: don’t even dare to disappear when you’re in a difficult situation! Mush you’re the most experienced one, I want you to be a flagship to these freshers. Show them what respect and tolerance is! No tricks in training!”
So, all these freshers were mutants, and I was one of them. This promised to be interesting.

I ran laps, a lot of laps. After two days my legs were sore and I had an aching troth because of the terrible cold outside. Whenever I was in my room, the other women took care of me. They woke me up in time when I couldn’t get out, set my breakfast ready and forced me to eat it and even made tea for my troth.
When I wasn’t running laps I was studying in the improvised study room or sleeping. The social contact wasn’t much the first days. I was the only girl in my mutant group and the conversations ended quickly.
They showed me no mercy and I had to do everything the guys did.

On day three, after running the laps I realized everybody was waiting for me and I was the last one, again. I had joined the line and tried to control my breathing.
“Well Dakota? Aren’t you doing the push-ups too?”
“What push-ups?” I replied brutally, out of breath and agitated. Our trainer took a deep breath and shook his head.
“You are too brutal for your rang, midget!”
Mush almost couldn’t control his laughing. Brick insisted in joining me for the extra push ups. All the others pitied me for my weakness.

I wanted to go home so badly.
Only on the fifth day I appeared more sympathic to the others, less weak. It was an agility training in the mud. I loved mud! I was in the parcours as last and got out as first. I never tangled myself up in the ropes or stepped on a fake mine and got disqualified (starting over again). By climbing the wall I used my lightweight to get over it without help from the others, because they didn’t want to lift me first.

“You go last, Dakota, you always do!”
But I ignored Mush saying that and took grip of some small stones in the wall and climbed it with ease, no help acquired.
At the top of the wall I looked down, but instead of laughing I held my hand down and took hold of another stone to pull the others up. No one had expected that to happen.
Out of gracefulness they let me go first on the other obstacles and I finished first.
This event was celebrated in the cafeteria the same day. For the first time I sat with the group and didn’t go to sleep early.

Gun training began with rubber balls, but quickly became real artillery in the woods with no clear targets. The targets moved, we moved and on day ten we had to do this in the dark.

I was a team with Brick. He was very robust and clumsy. He made a lot of noise and I always signed him he had to wait until I had cleared the area and made sure he wasn’t being seen by shooting targets (paint balls). He trusted me and let me lead.
We were halfway through our way in the woods when suddenly I heard two moving things further out. They were no animals and no targets. Would it be the others? Impossible! They must have lost track and got on to ours!
I signed this to Brick and he didn’t believe me at first and signed me to move on. I wasn’t even too obvious of the danger of real bullets at that moment.
I wanted to sign them that we were Dakota and Brick, but I couldn’t use my magic. No magic allowed. No tricks. We would move on and our paths would separate again with no incidents.
A twig broke under Brick’s foot and the next second there was gun fire. I didn’t fire back but turned to Brick who had been shot in the leg!
“Watch out!” I screamed and jumped in front of him to protect him. Then out of the dark three more bullets were fired our way and I could almost felt them coming rushing towards us. I had to shield them of! I made a shield as Vision had taught me and protected my chest and stomach.
The gunfire stopped, because the other team had realized they had been shooting at other recruits.
The next moment there was yelling everywhere. I turned to Brick and stopped the bleeding with my bare hands.

It didn’t end too bad. The next day there was an extra early morning training and we were lined up to report about the incident.

“So what happened in that forest?”
I let Brick do his story.
“Dakota made sign there was another team near us, but we moved forward anyway. The next moment we were under fire, they must have thought we were targets. I got hit in the leg, not to badly and Dakota jumped in front of me to protect me from further harm.”
“So you did? Tell on Dakota?”
“I’m so sorry, I broke a rule. I didn’t protect him with my body, because I would have been shot in the chest, … here and here, and in the stomach, here….”
I swallowed and continued more slowly, admitting my mistake.
“I used a shield to protect us, I used one of my tricks.”
There was silence the next moment. I could hear someone mumble about how sorry he was for shooting at me.
The severe man looked down at me, looked at the others and looked back at me.
“This isn’t the Avengers yet, Dakota. No breaking the rules! Ten extra laps for everyone. Dakota, you do twenty more, no walking!”
And off we went. I did ten more and wanted to start walking. I was done, I couldn’t do this! The others finished already and I was making a fool of myself!
I started walking with my hand pushing on my aching side. I so badly wanted to create an illusion of myself running on and on, but then I would break the stupid rules again!
Suddenly someone picked me up and started running on. It was Simeon who supported my arm and pulled me forwards.
“Come on, Dakota! Ten more, you can do it!”
The next moment all the recruits were next to me and doing the other ten extra laps with me. I had never felt so happy in my life.

After a half a month they finally allowed us to use our mutant tricks. First we had been fighting with bare hands, knives and sticks. Now we were allowed to use our powers and show off.
One problem: I didn’t like fighting the taller guys.

Brick shook his head and helped me up.
“Girl, I’m sorry. I almost crushed your skull.”
“Yeah, mainstream shit, don’t mind me being invisible!”
Luis kicked Brick in the knee from behind and forced him to the ground. Next moment I was fighting Luis with the techniques I had learned the last few weeks. I turned myself invisible too, so it would be more fair fight. I was the only one who knew where Luis was all the time and used this in my advantage, he didn’t know where I was except from the blasts he received. We always teamed up, and fought each other afterwards.
“Wanna see something cool?” I asked while kicking his chest and stepping backwards.
“Augh! Yeah, show me!”
“It will tickle a little!”
I formed a ball as Wanda had thought me and fired ahead. Luis was knocked out immediately and I helped him up.
“Wow!” he turned visible again, “you can kill someone with that if you make them more powerful!”
The practice was finished now. We all lined up and let our trainer pace in front of us. He was about to start preaching again.
“Luis, you move to that side. Mush you go two to your left. Brick switch with Dakota. Yes, that’s better. This is your new position in line…”
He looked satisfied at us.
“For the next few weeks I’m going to train you how to be a mutant. You just experienced some freedom here, but that is now gone again. Look around! I positioned you like this for a reason, so you will know what your place in this world is compared to others!”
We realized what he meant. He had changed position a lot. I was the third person on the left…
“Dakota, do you know what that means?!”
“I’m not the midget anymore, sir!”
He smiled.
“You still are a midget, but you are now one of the strongest recruits… Mush, what does that mean for you?”
“I’m lower in rank now, sir!”
“False!!! Remember this: you are a team and you work together as a team! No one is left behind, ever! Understood?!”

I was, of course, the smartest one, because I absorbed information like a sponge did water. Simple rules and procedure standards were drilled in my head. I helped the others out while studying, especially Brick.
The guys had a slightly different exam than I. They were supposed to be a special force team, supporting the Avengers together with the SHIELD agents. And I was supposed to be a part of the Avengers from now on, an extra consultant and member because of the great interest Tony showed in my powers. No other explanation was given, but I knew my tasks: fixing and gluing the team back together.
The exam was easy and I passed every discipline with ease.
A day early than expected Wanda came to fetch me. She was waiting by Tony’s car and was looking happy and proud. We hadn’t seen each other for a month. We fell in a deep embrace.
“Are you ready for the Avengers, T.?”
“Of course, Witch. Let’s go and practice some more.”
Tony opened his window and leaned out.
“Hey, girls, my lab is waiting for you. And yes of course, the others can’t wait so see you back, Dakota. They want to know how it went!”
We got in the car and took off. Finally I turned my back to the terrible bootcamp. I hoped to see the guys back soon. Now I was looking forward to seeing Bucky again.

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