1963-09-20 - Orphean Descent

He'd never worked so fast. Passing heavy .45s through the drill press to cavitate the round bullets, making room for a few drops of precious, blessed silver poured from a crude crucible. Shotgun husks broken open, stripped, packed with garlic, holy herbs, and silver-dusted cold iron.

Jack Frost, aka the Winter Soldier, once upon a time Bucky Barnes— he loses himself for a time in the work. There is no hour from now— there is no deadline. There is work to be done until it is time to go to work. The assassin prepares dozens of rounds of ammo, dribbling holy silver into them before pressing them into magazines. Slivers of shaved silver are hammered into the tiny bullets of his .32 Skorpion ammo and the needletipped 5.56mm that feeds the prototype M16 he'd recently acquired.

Small bullets. Lots of walking ahead of him. No room for the big boomers— better more ammo than less.

His hand grenades he strips, filling the explosive channel with blessed incense and hammering wrought blessed silver into them. He chews a clove of garlic constantly, and periodically drinks nutmeg-sprinkled holy water.

Irradiating himself. His blood. His skin. Ablutions of holy oil from a synagoge and dustings of incense from a Buddhist temple follow periodically, until he looks like an oiled sacrifice before the sooty fires of the late evening sun setting.

In another life he would have balked at defacing holy texts. But scripts from Bibles and Torahs are sliced carefully from those holy books— versus from the Old Testament. Dealing with demons. The unclean— the minions of the Adversary and those who feed on pain and suffering. He tucks those scripts into his jacket, between seams where they nestle against his silk undershirt. His heavy jacket he lines with sturdy wire mesh, a crude substitute for chainmail.

Jack had been one of the best suppliers of that pain and suffering. He'd know the verses of succor, after all.

He strikes holy icons into his combat knife, adorning it with holy oil and making sure the blade's a razor edge. God and luck are fine plans, but there's no substitute for preparation.

Jack prepares better than anyone.

He tucks ammo and explosives, and a few other surprises into his heavy old soldier's rucksack. Too much gear for one man— but Jack's no mortal man. He shoulders his heavy burden, clasping bandoliers of ammo and garlic and holy censers into place. He straps his M16 to his shoulder, makes sure his slab-sided old 1911 is readied and magazines are well-accessible. He pulls his silvered facemask over his head, hiding his eyes behind red lenses, and walks briskly from his hiding place out to his motorcycle. More gear is attached to the rugged old Liberator's frame and saddlebags. Tubes and cylinders alike, containers holding all manner of destructive implement.

Jack readies himself with deliberation, preparing to cross town to one of the epicenters of the incursion — the Pan Am building. He can sense Pepper's presence there as surely as he can feel the sunrise against the back of his eyelids. There's little time to waste.

Jack Frost revs the engine of his bike and roars off into the streets, to save the life of the woman he's inexplicably come to love from the clutches of one of the worst monsters to claw his way up from Hell.

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