1964-11-22 - Project Virgo: Life at 190 RPM
Summary: Bucky takes it upon himself to try to save the children.
Related: If there are no related logs, put 'None', — please don't leave blank!
Theme Song: None
bucky rogue 

0230 hours. Friedrichshain Borough. East Berlin

Ninety minutes spent in sharp relief trying to thread and weave his way into the bowels of East Berlin, and what does Bucky Barnes have to show for his rescue efforts?

Filthy soles covered in the smut from an alley.

Dust all over his clothes that leaves him faintly wheezy and rather visible whenever a light shines on him, a helpful byproduct.

Alone, one man in the night. Nothing very new there, but SHIELD went the way of Agent Coulson, possibly pinned down. Nick Fury is keeping an assassin busy or perhaps they're dead. Peggy Coulson has the extraction of an information broker and a comatose patient to worry about.

Empty-handed for the children he's trying to rescue.

Ninety minutes. Pray it's enough.

It had better be. That and a right bet. This time he's running - not merely jogging along, but making all the speed he dares while still betting he'll have enough fire left for a fight, if it comes to that. Let's pray the little brothers aren't involved in all this. That might be beyond him.

He moves in haste, the tricks of stealth and misdirection only those of reflex, now.

Eventually he had to leave a ghost station. Coulson's estimate of the trains running on time completely proved false; the act with the flashbang didn't help, and worse still, the dogs released by the German forces on the darker side of the wall go searching for him. The barks and following shuffle-crunch probably echo still in his ears, though the gritty, oily air of East Berlin gives no comfort in the witching hour when all good little boys and girls stay still in their beds, praying no one kicks the door down.

No one sleeps well here. No one has since the dawn of a hot summer afternoon in 1914.

The third place given by Jorg to Coulson, passed on before they stashed the broker, speaks to the gloomiest of locations. The industrial works in East Berlin are all owned by the people, for the people, don't let the people get ideas places. Bombed out relics rebuilt in Brutalist concrete fashion give no credence to beauty. Smokestacks belch out foul contents. Skeleton crews are still here behind the grimy glass panes, the sprawl of immense, long buildings, warehouses, boiler rooms are proving the engines of communism stutter along. Just one problem for him.

Volkseigener Betrieb Industriewerke is a huge facility, more like blocks owned by various industrial purposes arranged together. The particular factory he's interested is, surprise, one related to medicine. Finding Hoescht AG's old site, now rebranded under a palatable Eastern name, isn't exactly hard given there are signs. Getting there through the sweeping patrols and the average worker out smoking is another matter.

He's a shadow on a winter night. It's almost a relief to stretch these muscles, even if it is more than half Winter's own muscle memory. A challenge, a part of the dark game, with no lesser beings to slow him down, even if his successors are coursing him in the dark, like hounds. No longer being driven, anyway.

Darkness interrupted by wide beams mark doorways. Some are locked, of course. Entrances are fairly few around the collection in question; bays for trucks to roll up in two places, a stretch of rusted out track probably intended for offloading and onloading at a larger facility. Small side doors punctuate three walls, giving workers access to one space; visitors another to the office; the last disused, bolted, locked.

Of course it's that last he goes for. No one's likely to be coming and going from it. Creeping up on it, listening for any trace that it's guarded or trapped.

|ROLL| Bucky +rolls 1d20 for: 14

The patrols don't march up the rusted, battered walkways strung externally between two of the buildings. These things are sheeted in tin, made of brick, largely meant to withstand the careless, cold winters in Berlin. Measuring their timing does not push Bucky overly hard. More concerning might be the shift of workers, allowing them mandated breaks. The smokers come and go. Others tramp through, pushing carts laden in boxes without any identifying stamps. No one seems to much care about the forgettable door, one half-barricaded by a month's worth of debris and dirt. There aren't dumpsters within, too valuable by far.

He'll be unlikely to hear much noise other than a very distant hum of machinery in action. Medicine is a persistent need. No one stops working.


All the better for him to sneak up on it, and try and pick it open. Assuming it's not entirely rusted into place. That's what he's trying to do for the moment.

The door isn't totally rusted shut. Trouble for the handle moving without a sound, of course, but the old WW2 era lock could be surmounted by removing his third metal finger and jimmying the thing, right? Tumblers protest and squeal without the lightest of touches but surrender that does… and still no one to notice him lurking there. It's the small blessings that count.

Festina lente. Make haste slowly. Or, as his instructors used to insist, 'Form before speed'. He's taking slow, easy breaths, refusing to tense up….and taking that exquisite, painstaking care. No noisy screw ups, though his pulse is a drum in the hollow of his throat.

Invoke Augustus and be well rewarded, James Barnes. The fates smile when they take note, shortly before once again treating him as their personal chewtoy. No screw ups. No failures. Click, thud. Something slips into place. Resistance and then empty space. The door means to open.

A bored worker slouches against a faraway wall, blowing cigarette smoke out his mouth. He says nothing.

He's up in a moment, as if surely he has a completely legitimate reason to be there. Sauntering in - he's been heard and surely seen, at this point.

In, that's the rub. The shrill squeak of the hinges betrays him over the distant hum of compressors and steady thump provided by pistons and cylinders in a rattling labyrinth. He's not out of the woods by a long shot, but rather entering in an industrial works atop a flattened forest. Imagine the game of Mouse Trap. The various conveyer belts and sloped ramps are a testament to Sixties automation, but then the AG Industriewerks serves the purpose of manufacturing medication for hospitals across the GDR, presumably.

He's entered a dingy area boarded up at first glance, though deeper scrutiny might reveal boxes angled this way and that, stock pushed aside for a dormant bit of machinery that justifies why the door isn't so much used. This part of the factory either is out of commission or made from animated techno-sentries.

Blame far too many Warner Brothers cartoons for some little fraction of his brain piping up with that relevant passage of Scott's 'Powerhouse'. If only Steve were here to share the joke.

But the smile that makes his lip curl is kept confined, lest the flash of teeth give him away. Creeping along to check this out, on his way to finding out if and where those kids are.

Not much light shines in that particular corner of the industrial facility. So late, the windows give no benefit and the occasional broken bulb in a miserable setting doesn't do much to help Bucky's eyes adjust. The hulking shapes intimate where the abandoned line goes, either for assembly or distribution into boxes that are turned elsewhere. The bent turns at L angles show where the conveyors were meant to go, waist height avenues and angles covering that big space. Catwalks up above might help but their access points are very, very few.

Most of the activity appears to be concentrated far off to the newer sections of the building, the upper left quadrant relative to his lower right.

Of course he'll try for the catwalks - better that than down among the hoi polloi, right? How well can he sneak with combat boots on? Or will they hear him, with that noise, as it is?

|ROLL| Rogue +rolls 1d20 for: 16

|ROLL| Bucky +rolls 1d20 for: 2

Not an easy task to try to reach those catwalks, hanging ten and a half feet in the air. They lack for many interesections or dangling ladders. The skinny metal parapets strung above the floorplan sometimes increase in elevation to support the machinery, and he'll have to scale a wall in order to achieve his way up there or stand on the active belts and make a leap of it. Either way it's hard word and the metal isn't made to support too many people, squeaking, groaning.

This is not going well, at all. That noise….he leaves off, dropping b ack down to the floor. Better to go on foot, than sound like he's having a fistfight on a fire escape. Back in the old days when he used to sneak out at night.

A thud to the ground, whispers of the machinery thrumming right along. His choices are fairly plain; investigate the more active upper left quadrant where the multiple lines produce the powdered capsules. Some kind of office is placed in the upper left, at least the grounds imply a warren of rooms arranged around a few hallways behind doors. In between workers man the various areas, though using care and patience might thread Bucky among the islets of activity.

The office. That's where he's headed. The capsules ….they receive some little interest, but it's kids he's after, this time. Can he save them, considering how well he's failing to save his own blood?

Medicines, pills and capsules by the hundreds are their stock in trade. Only a few active lines at this hour, the capacity of the industrial works now won't equal its daytime production. The thrumming lines move along, diligently overseen by the skeleton crew. Fifty people shuffle around on their languid routes, trying to perform their tasks while overseen by self-important sorts who don't do well enough to join the daylight hour.

The route to the office means going past them. Hiding behind the shifting gears, keeping low and hoping the floor doesn't break, doesn't squeak where he goes. It's child's play to a man more ghost than human. Surely. The offices are accessed through another door, and the interior is dark.

They're just factory workers, rather than trained sentries….or so he hopes. He'll have to use what light he can….though it's looking increasingly like he's made the wrong choice, yet again.

Is there any moment more teeth-gritting and thrilling than the sneak through the exposed stretch without cover? A spy coming into the light at that precise moment when all might be lost, and the expediency of the mission hangs by the thinnest, fraying thread. He's got no way to tell when he has been had other than the crack of gunfire, when conversations about the most banal industrial activities — lunch, smoking, production numbers — turns to shouts. Bucky has several stretches guarded by nothing more than rickety rigging.

His scramble to the office comes up to a cheap wooden doorway marked in a German panel ("Administration") and a metal lock easy for him to pick but precious seconds taken. He's too far to clearly hear any of the discussions taking place, and the machines clinking and humming on their own. Through the open door the complex opens up into a confusing warren of offices on two levels. Open-faced stairs lead up. Four offices open at the bottom level. The top has sort of a guard tower feel, no windows, but one continuous area.

He's in a factory complex….currently breaking in to the office part of the building. No sign of the kids they're seeking, but….he has ot be sure. And he's far from scouted all of it. Lucky thus far - as far as he can tell, he hasn't been spotted.

The lights are off. At well past three in the morning, not a single privileged member of the business caste burns the midnight oil in pursuit of a few more numbers. Doors aren't locked here. The first is deemed sufficient. Three doors to the left, one to the right, all of them are queerly dark and quiet. The right door is the smallest chamber, truncated by a trophy case of achievements for East Germany. Production values and charts in bold black lines are barely visible. He doesn't have the advantage of much light; hard to see more than outlines of shapes. The machinery is a distant cacophony, the slow drone of fans guttering through the flimsy walls. So many fans.

He gives it a cursory looking-over, as much as he can and still stay concealed. But…time is of the essence, so he's creeping out again, and looking for a way to the upper story.

Stairs snake up, easy to find by touch or simply bumping his head into them. They lead to a landing barely wide enough for the soldier. Another door up there is odd to the touch, his fingers coming away smeared in a thin layer of something. Vaseline? It has the feeling of that, practically no odor except something vaguely oily.

Can it be opened, that strange door coated with whatever it is? He's testing it, carefully, trying to make sure he's silent.

Other than the handle being terrifyingly slippery and certain to make idle grips on railings difficult, Bucky has no difficulty fiddling with the metal. The door opens and immediately hits an obstruction, and with barely three inches to peer past, it's difficult for him to make out what. Solid thunks do not imply a wall or any kind of architectural chicanery so much as barricade: filing cabinets, desks.

Curiosity kills the cat….and may trap the SOldier. But he has to know, slowly edging these things out of the way, as silently as he can.

Barriers don't stand a chance against his exerted strength, not the least given that the flimsy metal and the particleboard. Wood groans and something smacks to the floor, drawers rolling around on their casters. He gains a wide enough aperture to get through, entering into a place of deeper darkness. It smells heavily of fear. Sweat stains the atmosphere, a sour tang that goes right to the lizard brain. Wet carpet and moist fur recall memories born in Svartalfheim, fed on the tangled leashes and dark forest runs that might be best forgotten.

The living are here. And they are terrified.

What can he say? 'I'm Luke Skywalker and I'm here to rescue you' is thirteen years too soon. If he can sense them, surely they can sense him. «Hello?» he whispers in soft German, the accent East Berlin, hard and clipped. «I'm here to get you out.»

Answers don't come exactly in chorus. Fast, quick breaths punctuate the air. The stink of fear and hot bodies wrapped up in too many layers gives the room more of a feel of a cavern, a fact not helped by the uneasy contours his eyes can barely pick out. Here and there, walls, the ceiling hanging low, and wherever they are lost behind canvas-draped furniture. Barricaded materials block the only way out, as far as he can see. No other windows, no other doors. Overcoming the thick scent of their own sick, he's bound to observe those furtive stirring os fmotion, heavily limited. Nothing like muzzled gags, multiple layers of metal and plastic bindings used to secure limbs, and other simple devices perfected at key sites across the acquired lands of Poland and the Austro-Hungarian Empire to know how to prepare someone for transportation. They can't move, in clusters of three or four, probably drugged.

It staggers him, a little, memories gnawing at him like rats. There has to be a way. Some way to do this faster. He's got a knife, but before he draws it, he says, softly, «I'm going to free you, but it'll take a little.» He's reaching for the nearest cluster, kneeling down by them. Hands first, and feet. Then they can help him with the rest, or so he hopes.

Two by two, three-by-three. This is not Noah's ark. Whomever devised this did so cunningly, anchoring the dissidents to the support posts that hold up the ceiling. Their individual bindings involve handcuffs for the most part, plastic and metal links to bind their wrists to their ankles, hobbling fast movement. Not that it matters much. Had he a torch, he could peer into the dim eyes and see all the signs of a drugged stupor; the failure to respond, the sickly air, the shaking of withdrawal and damp, dank fear triggered in them.

Them. Might he see the blond face of a gawky kid from Brooklyn, no more than twelve? Yes. A black eye on a girl with roughly chopped brown hair at shoulder level, her twiggish thinness beyond coltish. A plump child of six, at rough guess, clutching his shirt in a pudgy fist like the toddler he once was. Passing by might give impressions of the eldest at fourteen, mayhap, the long lines of a growth spurt that hasn't really truly begun.

He's got no method of purging that stuff from them….and no means of contacting his fellow agents. He'll have to play Pied Piper himself. Time's wasting, and if he's here when the Russians come for him. It's for the oldest he heads, trying to shake the child awake, as gently as he can.

Time is wasting. Tick tick. Where are the handlers for these children, the guards, the transport? There were train tracks to consider, and the stairs, and the array of workers making the medication. There are twelve altogether, spread out around the chamber.

The elder of the lot is still fairly drugged, shaken awake. Thwarting the drunken stupor doesn't work much, but his eyes roll in the sockets as Bucky shakes him. Muffled grunts and fearful gibbers bubble behind the muzzle blocking his mouth and eyes. Some effort to shy back doesn't get anywhere, of course, but the other child he's bound to — smaller, clearly ill-fed — pushes back to squirm away if he can.

It's delicate work, carving those things off without nicking tender skin. Was he ever that young? Surely he was, some earnest shoeshine boy on the streets of New York. «I'm not here to hurt you, but ou've got to wake up,» he informs the boy, patiently. «You've got to fight.» Then he's turning to the little one by him.

Fear doesn't help but it numbs the reaction time, that flight tendency forestalled. Cutting, tearing out the palstic is easy but the handcuffs don't go without substantial sawing and chopping if he's trying to pull limp wrists free. Failing that the children at least can move with their arms bound. Their legs are more inconvenient, but shove the thick socks or ugly wool pants down and it's easy for him to at least get a little room to tear links free.

Tick. Tick. The little one shudders in fear at Bucky. He can't see the soldier any more than the soldier can really see him. Big man spells trouble, and he has probably already wet himself. Another bit won't make a difference. One by one, they're released, clutching one another.

He can't carry them all. There are too many…..and where would he steal them away to? He can start a hell of a fight, create a distraction….but the logistics are still a barrier. That fearful reaction is enough to make his skin crawl. Not like he hasn't been a harbinger of atrocity before, where kids are concerned.

War and peace do nothing but enhance new forms of torture and scars on children. He goes round one by one to release the captives, which is well and good. The smallest of them might be the least likely to shy away, though they may also be the most prone to sitting on the floor or clinging to any shred of familiarity in their drugged state. None are catatonic, but the wakefulness in shades of grey isn't clear. Outside the sounds remain relatively stable until there's the whistle of a tinny bell and the signs of an impending shift change about the time Bucky finishes up.

That can't be good. Someone's going to come and check. He can't scare them into obedience, even if they were coherent enough to do as he bids. «Talk to me,» he tells the oldest. «What happened?»

Someone is indeed coming. Time is running out. Had he a clock, Bucky is probably well aware the window of an hour or so remaining to him is closing, and why would they abandon their stock without someone checking up on them. The boy gagged - the eldest - can barely form words when the muzzle is pulled out. Staples and bruises show exactly how unknown hands mounted that particular piece of gear: it's been literally grafted into place, no chances taken.

«We're bad. We have to go to school,» he manages to say after many laboured attempts. Some of the other frightened ones are crying, silent tears running down their cheeks, noses dripping mucus onto rough sleeves.

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