1964-11-19 - Project Virgo: Life at 180 RPM
Summary: Searching for East German children slated for terrible, terrible things…
Related: If there are no related logs, put 'None', — please don't leave blank!
Theme Song: None
wanda bucky coulson 

U-Bahn Line. 0100 hours. West Berlin.

Geisterbahnhof: Berliners call them ghost stations, the relics of a time when the city was whole and a different flag snapped over the Brandenburg Gate. Commuters from West Berlin see the Gothic-font signs in dingy, dim stations where no one ever stands.

SHIELD's challenge on the west side shall be significant. GDR police know escapees would use the ghost stations if they could to find freedom in the West. Barbed wire fences enclose the unfortunate stations to prevent access, and electrified rails form a major deterrent.

Jorg knows the name of one: Bernauer Strasse on the U8, the eastern-most of the lines that sweep north-south through West Berlin and out into the GDR. Like every other station, it's bound to be guarded, watched, protected even if no one's there this late into the night. The approach around it is unfortunately quite clear, low buildings and slick streets, the white paint glowing in the dimness of the night.

Ref (modern): https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/66/Rosenthaler-platz-berlin-12.2005.jpg

Voltastrasse Station is quieter this time of night. Finding an opportunity to slip into the tunnels will prove challenging, but fortunately, trains run less frequently at this hour, which will make it at least marginally safer given the plan Coulson and Bucky have hatched in such short time. There are, however, a handful of tricks the Senior Agent has up his sleeve, in some cases, quite literally.

He and Bucky stand near the very southernmost end of the northbound line, right where the tunnel empties into the station, like casual travelers minding their own business. Bucky, however, has been given a set of sophisticated earplugs, barely visible when worn. He was instructed to wear them, and wait for Coulson's signal; a cough. At that signal… they should both close their eyes.

The train moves in and begins disgorging its few passengers, before those who wish to enter begin their lonely journeys. It is then when Coulson reaches up to cover his mouth and begins coughing.

Coulson closes his eyes and pinches the bridge of his glasses while coughing. The lenses suddenly become a murky black, and a second later, they explode outward. A bright flash fills the station and dances through the train, and a very odd sound reverberates through the people. It's a sound designed to momentarily paralyze the frontal lobes, specifically, those related to immediate awareness.

Coulson rips the earplugs from his ears and shoves them into his pocket, before moving toward the tunnel. "Go time," he tells Bucky quietly. "Watch those rails."

They'll have about five seconds to disappear before people begin to come about and have that whole 'what the fuck just happened' experience.

|ROLL| Coulson +rolls 1d20 for: 18

|ROLL| Bucky +rolls 1d20 for: 11

"Believe me," he says, "I've got a healthy fear of electricity." And with that, he's slipping down onto the sooty clinker and into the depths of the tunnel. The mice foraging there are startled, and vanish in a silent flicker.

He's given Coulson the head's up about at least two of his clones being in town and interested in what he's doing. A note that the one he met didn't offer him harm, and presumably neither did his unseen parther.

Voltastrasse. The end of the line for open transportation on West Berlin railways, here passengers clutch their bags a little tighter and stare out through the windows at the ghoulish remnants of a ghost world. The platform isn't empty. Among them Jorg stands, dressed rather like a down-on-his-luck worker instead of a highly successful information broker. He keeps looking sharply Coulson's way until something moves. Coughing.

"Where in the devil's name did you get…" His question never comes out as the stars burst, light tears through sonic screeches, and he's left stumbling back like the rest.

U8 Underground Line

The problem with the U-Bahn line running underneath the Berlin boundaries of east and west, it's dark. The line was never in great shape to begin with and the War, poverty, and vision takes their toll. Uneven gravel smeared in black filth shifts underfoot. Concrete crumbles to either side. It's wet, foul, and stinking. Plus the third rail in the middle of the line sings with enough electricity to stop someone's heart and throw them wide with a touch, even a super-soldier with oh, look, a really conductive arm. How's that grounded?

The tunnel smells foul, hums in an ozone crackle, and definitely comes alive. It's an uneven bed that sometimes vanishes into puddles that slosh and sizzle over the line. Oh, yes. Water plus electricity equals fun times. Sadly, no grey oozes or mimics today. Wrong kind of adventure.

Tough luck for poor Jorg; this is part of the adventure Coulson didn't want the man to come along for. He'll get his evacuation, that much is already spoken for and coordinated.

Once the light from the station behind them fades, Coulson retrieves a flashlamp from his pocket. He tosses it toward Bucky. "It's got a magnetic clasp," he advises the metal-armed man, then retrieves the secondary pistol from his bodystrap. It comes complete with a powerful flashlight built right again. Again, thanks, SHIELD R&D!

Not far down the line, Coulson scowls. "It's pretty nasty in here," he remarks in an offhand way, before moving forward with vigilance and purpose. "We've got twenty five minutes until the next train comes," he advises, and starts a timer on his gadget-loaded wristwatch. "We get down to five, we're looking for a place to, you know, not get squished."

"They have safety niches in the wall, worst comes to worst," Buck says, quietly. "But that trick's gonna have 'em come running." He doesn't disapprove or approve, by his tone. "Better beware - there're gonna be traps and patrols, those stations are like no man's land." Then he's moving forward at that ground-covering jog.

|ROLL| Rogue +rolls 1d20 for: 14

What's one minute in the dark from ten? The line stretches eighteen kilometers end to end, though the stations are considerably closer together. Voltastrasse is at their back and ahead, the first of the barriers: barbed wire, underground. Chain link bites deep from the narrow walkways and encroach upon the tracks. No room is left for pedestrians to go past except a very narrow squeeze on the rails and the uneven ground that trips up anyone less than a sure-footed goat. Oily, it makes slipping easy. And of course, they leave tracks on concrete and tile.

Lights around the platform at the next station, Ghost #1, are dim and flickering. They won't be seen for quite some time in the stygian dark and before they get there…

Don't mind the tripwire, Agent Coulson, slick and dark. Don't question that audible click from somewhere up ahead…

With the first of the ghost stations in sight and the first of those booby traps behind them, Coulson quietly reminds himself to keep aware. Regardless, something must have happened. At the audible click, the agent frowns. "Not good," he murmurs, and begins looking for one of those safety niches Bucky was talking about.

Buck's kept track of the most recent one, a little ways back down the track. The click, though. "Shit," he says, in a bare breath. " think we're spotted." It's enough to walk chills up his spine. He may have left Nikita behind, but what about his ghostly little brother?

Safety niches? The nearest one of those is a long, long trudge up the way, a good 300 meters plus towards the platform. It's also behind the barbed wire and chainlink fencing. Nothing like a little sense of trouble ahead, something that must be worth those kids rounded up and sent off to the USSR.

The tripwire snaps low on Coulson's foot, along the top. Powder flutters down from overhead, a slow trickle. The caustic scent hurts, and it certainly helps them stand out in the low-light conditions. Better pray it's not radium.

|ROLL| Bucky +rolls 1d20 for: 4

Not a good night for him. Has he gone slack, since signing on with SHIELD? IS Lazar, even now, watching him and shaking his head and sighing? Entirely possible, really. But Buck continues forward, deliberately going low, all the better to present the smallest possible profile.

Old habits of clicking metal keep Agent Coulson from advancing any further. He tries not to seize up, the stiffness in muscles and limbs a fatal error about distributing his weight. Immediately his eyes skim down, the light beam facing down at the offending thin filament barely visible against the oily black gravel. It's hard for him to see the tripwire, and the powder raining down forces him immediately to decide. Move or don't. Too fine to keep from coating his shoulders and head, he hides his face behind his sleeve and withdraws back three steps. No explosion. It's a plus, right? Exit the agent back to a safe point, as he waves Bucky on.

Berlin's a city of tunnels. Whole networks try to bypass security of GDR forces, Stasi watchers, fellow informants. Bet Sgt. Barnes wishes he were in any of them right now instead of going it alone to determine where a number of children tagged for their unusual abilities might be carried off deep into Soviet Russia for the very worst of purposes. These dissidents get less appreciation than rats. At least the rats have rights.

Wires running along the sides of the railway tunnel barely give any hint of colour, the sporadic barbed wire and electrified fencing giving reason to say on the central rail. The third rail is the one Bucky has to take care to avoid, and as such, he's not getting much of a view ahead in the dark. It's only 500 meters but must feel like a lifetime of not stumbling on the wooden spars and pray the lights hold. He's not harmed by the lack of light but he is the only thing moving.

He can hear the possible shouts above, distant noises submerged through concrete and rock, carried down the barricaded stairwell. From his vantage, the only thing he can make out are the empty tiled walls and barren floor still covered in a few dessicated leaves of a platform. A whole corner may be invisible to him, but the buzzing, uneven lightbulbs flashing from under cages from the ghost station must have terrifying similarities to interrogation cells, torture chambers, and training in the bowels of Soviet Russia. Perhaps too close to his own experiences, broken memories where they are.

IT has cold sweat on him, no matter how chill it might be down here. The trickle of it down the spine, enough to make him shudder faintly - for it is close to those years in his masters' grip. Enough to stiffen his resolve, though. The idea of kids, not young soldiers like he was, but genuine children….being put through that….that can't be allowed to happen.

The buzzing incandescence mingles with the tramp of boots. Shuffling. Efforts made to keep quiet are limited. Whatever measures they've implemented to keep people from using the rails include deterrents along the platform edges, broken glass and metal barbs pointing in and out. At speed a passenger on a through train wouldn't realize what they are, but leaping up there for the average person means trouble. No coverage applies otherwise, other than going flat to the wall against the platform and a row of mirrors up along the roof opposite give a clear view of Berliners sneaking away instead of shoplifters.

But he's hardly the average person, is he? Even if reduced to creeping along the platform, picking his way through those sharp hazards, as best he can. He glances up into the mirrors, trying to find an angle that might let him see what's to come.

Indeed, hardly. The mirrors that point to the entrance show the barricades up the way, barriers built from wood and locked gates imposed every so often to constrict clear views and escapes. No one is on the platform. He can see the Gothic font: Rosenthaler Platform.

No matter how good the intel is, there are no children waiting here, unless somehow they might be between the platform and the road. And whatever else, the security forces are coming…

He has to be sure, though, doesn't he? Creeping closer, to peer at them. Conscious of his heartbeat resonating in his throat like a metronome. This may be a dead end….but how long can he push his luck before the sound of boots that aren't his own?

|ROLL| Rogue +rolls 1d100 for: 15

Sounds give away much in the murky world. The tramp of boots slowing. Pauses in the procession mean much. Someone saws open a barrier, pulling free pins. All these bits of clatter are performed in 3/4 time at best, a rapid beat that accelerates with the adrenaline in the veins. Now would be the time to flee, scream the senses. Now would be the moment to get the fuck out of dodge because they're coming loaded for bear.

All right. Time to go. This isn't the one…or if it is, with three out of the four he originally came with out of commission….he can't take on an entire guard unit by himself and expect to come away with the kids, if they'r even there. Time to get away, as quietly as he can.

|ROLL| Bucky +rolls 1d4 for: 2

Bucky's choice follows suit as Stasi and GDR soldiers kick down another route, and they lob something forward that skitters down. Metal cannisters erupt with stinking gas that no doubt would make breathing terribly difficult for anyone without a mask like they have. They drop in waves of a formation on the stairs, giving cover for the men storming the bastion and finding little. Guns sweep the empty space, and a series of gestures moves the line forward to look up and down the rail line.

It would be quite the coup to capture the rogue Winter Soldier. Alas, not tonight…

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