I sat drinking something known as coffee at the General Store café. The waitress showed me how to put cream and sugar in it and I found it a rather delightful treat. After ten cups of that, I was feeling really jazzed about our next assignment.
Stepping to the front of the café we noticed the other contestants paying out as well. Havok's brother, Cyclops, was doing some souvenir shopping. Havok snorted as he watched his older brother rummage through the t-shirts that sported newfie jibes and pictures of Mounties.
"Let's get going," I murmured, stepping out the front doors of the general store. We stepped outside and into the Expedition. Havok turned on the GPS that came with the vehicle.
"Why do you use that thing?" I asked. "
"It's a computer," he said, gesturing to its sleek exterior, "…and it's French." As if that made it so much better – you'd have thought he was fingering a Givenchy handbag.
"Right," I answered and threw the Rand McNally road atlas at him. "Find the shortest route – that Garmin is always suggesting the longest route. Either it's been tampered with or it's a result of the French's lack of urgency and a desire to waste our fuel."
He nodded and thumbed through the atlas. "Highway 2 is just up the street here and that will get us going north."
"Cool," I started the engine and headed out.
The farther north we went, the colder it got. We began to see snow in the shady spots and then, further on, in the not-so-shady spots. Then it got deep. That was when we came upon a road block with a funky little striped pole in the middle of the road.
I stopped and was approached by Nick Fury. I rolled my window down.
"I'm afraid this is the end of the road for the Expeditions," he said. He pointed to a parking lot where it appeared others had arrived before us. I pulled in and parked next to another one and we stepped out. Walking back to Nick he gestured to a group of hovercraft and handed Havok a set of keys.
"Which challenge have you decided upon?" Nick asked.
I turned to Havok. He was a little more hesitant this time. "Plays?" he said, shrugging a bit.
"Rays," I said to Nick.
"Doh!" Havok cried, kicking at the snow.
Nick smiled ever so slightly and nodded his approval.
"This could be very interesting," he said. Reaching in the breast pocket of his coat, he withdrew a sheet of paper and handed it to me. "Follow the instructions on this map to get to the crash site," he said, pointing at the paper. "Others will be there to record the results. Good luck." He held out his hand and we each shook it in turn.
Havok eagerly jumped into the Neoteric Hovertrek 6 and started her up. After a few donuts around the parking lot as he screamed gleefully, we were off. And then he started: talking – talking incessantly. I tried to focus my attention on where we were going and how to get there to block out the same stories he told on our trip from New York.
I figured being exposed to radiation couldn't possibly be worse that this. Thankfully, we didn't have to follow the roads and we were able to travel in more of a straight line to our destination.
We arrived at the crash site and were met by Dr. Ames, a few of his assistants, other SHIELD agents and some photographers: they were waiting for us.
I stepped out of the Hovertrek and went to be greeted by Dr. Ames. However, several people moved forward with some devices. They clipped a little radiation meter to our clothes and then waved a variety of wands attached to meters around our bodies.
"Oh cool," a man said. "You're already reading a certain amount of exposure to the radiation."
I assumed he was Dr. Ames.
After waiting several minutes, I asked, "How long do we have to wait before we can expect to see some sort of reaction?" I asked.
"Don't know – it all depends on the individual," he answered. Lovely. I turned to Havok to see how he was.
"Do you feel anything?" I asked.
He just shook his head.
"You sure?" I asked.
He nodded his confirmation, which surprised me.
"Are you ready to leave and go back to the hotel?" I tested.
Again, he shook his head.
"I think he's already showing a reaction," I commented.
"What makes you say that?" the man I thought was Dr. Ames in the radiation suit asked.
"He shut up," I answered, "And I can't get him to talk."
"Interesting," he said and he scribbled some notes on a clip board. "What about you? Are you feeling anything at all?"
"Nothing," I answered. "Hey, do we have to sit here the whole time just letting you watch us?"
"No," he answered. "You can do what you want, just stay around camp."
"Sure thing," I answered. I snatched the keys to the hovercraft away from Havok, leaving him standing like a stone in the middle of the radiation suit guys. Hopping into the craft, I started her up. One of the cameramen climbed in with me.
"Are you ready?" I asked with a cheesy grin on my face. The cameraman looked ready – so I did the equivalent of burning rubber in the hovercraft, causing him to rock back heavily and grab a hand hold to keep him steady.
I don't really remember the next 45 minutes. However, when I turned off and stepped out of the hovercraft back at camp, Havok stood as still and stoic as ever and Dr. Ames was furiously scribbling on his clip board.
Looking back over my shoulder, I saw the aftermath of my joy ride:
"Cooo-Uhl!" I exclaimed.
Dr. Ames scribbled some more. Then he came up to me and took the hovercraft keys from my hand, returning them to Havok.
"I think we have seen enough," he said, gesturing off to the south. "You may go now."
Havok slowly walked back to the hovercraft and I climbed in behind him. He started it up and headed south once again.
It was actually a really boring ride home. For the first hour, I couldn't quit fidgeting and really got a bang out of taking my light saber, turning it on and slicing through trees as we went by. Havok said nothing during that time.
Finally, as we approached the Pit Stop, he spoke. "I think we're almost there." And then I couldn't shut him up again. Too bad I can't slice through him with my light saber.