1965-03-21 - Project Ursa: Pherkad
Summary: Bucky descends into Closed City-53 and promptly loses Captain America. On the other hand, dreams really do come true…
Related: If there are no related logs, put 'None', — please don't leave blank!
Theme Song: None
rogue bucky omega-red 

0422 hours. Access 17. Closed City 53. USSR.
A violent phantasmagoria greets the seasoned eye. Muzzle flashes in the dark signal the avenging spirits of the Russian underworld lashing out at the living. They synchronize their requiem through hot lead plugging cement walls and floor, the ricochet of a vibranium shield banked off walls and corners adding to the cacophony. Delirium sets in quickly when the hearing tries to substitute for flashes in cones and rods deprived of light, especially after minimally lit conditions to cave black.

Begs the questions how those Soviets can see anything themselves, especially given their tactics are luring through any number of confusing hallways down the line.

Mutants who can see? Nightvision gear of a kind not yet visible in the West? Flawless ingrained knowledge? Hard to tell.

And while Winter is no berserker, a colder intelligence, there is a battle madness common to both of those broken shards, and only accentuated by the wolf's traces and the broken tooth of the hivemind link. Spurred not least by the fact that someone, several someones, DARE to shoot at HIS Steve. ENough to have him persisting in that drive forward, whenbetter sense dictates that he fall back to the man with the shield.

The horror about Steve being shot at no doubt inspires an aneurysm suggestive of violence. Rattling violence erupts from an AK-47, no hints of the magazine jamming. Last glimpses Bucky will catch in that wades through the darkness: a man crouched down, shield raised against the bullets flashing off the surface. A good target, to be sure, but an effective one. A body falling after the ricochet strength of vibranium is tested, collision of flesh and floor a satisfying percussion beat. Just the one, at first.

Turn, turn again. Two heroes of the Second World War, taking on an entire damned city full of horrors. Zola had twenty years, what has he done with it other than live profitably?

The knife of the Winter Soldier connects as often as the fist, barring a few impressive gouges punched in the wall. On his own he catches three guards not fast enough to evade him, three bodies wet in blood and gore to slump against the tangle of hallways and walls. It's a dance, that rhythm, punctuated and driven by the staccato beat of hot lead. The requiem of Winter, come to kill.

The glorious perfume of spent powder and blood, the chiming of falling brass, the pulse in his own brain, a tidal rush loud enough to drown the ringing in his ears. In the grand Russian tradition, he picks up an AK from the first fallen guard, magazines from second and third, the knives wiped clean before they're sheathed again. No wasting what windfalls he comes upon. Further down and further in, lured on by the heady thrill of a real fight.

The old routine to murder follows the best traditions of the Bolshoi. Extend, hold, freeze and release, then move. Every pivot counts for something on the slippery cement floor that gradually slopes downward, the angle of attack increasing to require Bucky to use caution or spend his time crashing down the corridor like a rogue log escaped from the lumber mill. The walls are smooth and absent of many hand holds, save those closed doorways laden in steel to resist an easy pull.

The smell of dust is heavy in the air, sparking another primal trickle of alarm. Heavy doors ahead of him are creaking, their internal matrices powered by electricity as much as anything, setting them on the move to seal. Those shut, and is the prosthetic enough to get through? Another melody of fire from a last defender preparing to leap through. They're barely lit whatsoever in the grey gloom.

Sense is drowned and he's lunging forward to pursue, to try and slip past those doors before they shut on him. The rattle of return fire, the AK's distinctive chatter, as he switchbacks down, rather than a full on frontal charge down the slope.

|ROLL| Bucky +rolls 1d20 for: 5

The dive through the doors is something more like a careen, less a controlled roll than anyone may like. By mercy of the laughing fates, he manages to clock someone with the sole of his boot straight to the head, and that poor startled soul drops straight to the ground. Not as good as the deepest circles of Hell, but beggars cannot be choosers. Two more bodies out there join the thudding dance, and the whine of electricity hums louder through rotating gyros and pistons buried in the heavy cement-work. It sounds rather akin to his own lamellae snapping an drising, except on a much larger scale.

Some part of his brain, permanently the irreverent New Yorker, cues up Joplin's 'Powerhouse'. He's left Steve behind, but he's in the thick of the fight, taste of ashes hot in his mouth. How far can he keep going? How many bodies can he leave in his wake, strewing sacrifices to the hero behind him? Though Steve would be horrified at that kind of tribute. What will Lucian see on him, when he returns to Lux, if he does?

What will a man see when measuring the body count left behind? It can't be the measure of their social value, surely. Scores of men came home with red leaking out of their ledgers into vermillion ponds: the bunkbusters in Germany, the firebombers over Dresden, the Enola Gay's crew.

Fainter lines gradually resolve into a larger, broad corridor wide enough to accept a full tank if one were trundling down the way instead of blocking the bridgehead to a forgotten gravesite once called a town. Bereslavka, Nariman. Will Bucky remember their names in coming nights?

His path splits; a straight shot north, and a reinforced tunnel headed directly to his west.

West it is, a lefthand turn. There's knowledge from the Court of Nevers. But will it serve now. A shiver of unpleasant memory - will he find them, as he found Steve, only to be rejected. A wrench of nausea. There will be no retirement and pseudo-fatherhood with Fanya. Not unless he can again harrow the Underworld and bring her back.

He knows this place, the dust hanging in the air. Smoke blown in an explosive puff of pressurized gas escapes, a hissing wine. Off dirt bounces and skitters along the ground, out of sight. Out of sight down that long route without end.

Out spews dust and a chemical compound, roaring down the dimly lit tunnel like a bat screaming out of hell. Soviet tech come alive, and that laughing Coney Island memory of a rollercoaster and a hot dog may be eternally tarnished by the same lurch in the stomach with an equivalent pressurized click-click-click like the chains and brakes engaging on the front car.

The floor starts to tilt, heaving up, and on a vertical trajectory in six heartbeats. He's headed the same way, the American, short of finding some compelling handholds. Down, down into the black hole…

No attempt to hold on this time. He'll use the hand and arm in lieu of the shield, draaaag his way down via four metal fingers like a certain Panther King in pursuit. On down the ride, driven half by madness and r emembered dreams.

Madness and dreams prove interchangeable in delirious abandon. Was the corridor quite so long in an oracular vision conjured by a schismatic mind, personalities at odds? Certainly it feels like the descent lasts nearly forever and the vertical tube plunges long and deep into the earth. Bedrock tempered by whatever glorious Soviet boring machines finally reaches its final displacement a solid ninety-degree angle. Concrete spits sparks, his fingers leaving violent threads of displaced electricity sizzling on the air. A faint whuff of dust skitters off the tube. Vertigo rips over the senses, leaving the primal corners of the hindbrain screaming.

Vault 71.

Bucky lands on grating that groans and vibrates with his weight. Another layer of steel underscores that, buzzing with the vibration impact.

Even with the alloy woven through him, that's a hard one to take. But he rolls and comes up, rifle at the ready, stumbling for cover. It was Widow trying to shoot him, then, and gods know where she's got to. But there will be someone now, surely. Some other Soviet power.

Oil and steel, a scent not unfamiliar, lies underneath the grating separated by a heavy sheet. There is no cover in a cylindrical shaft that might be appropriate as a supersized elevator, something suitable for a few Howitzers to go barreling up if someone took a liking to racing them. A pile of Panzers might neatly fit within. By spreading his arms fully apart, Bucky can feel none of the walls. Whatever purpose the shaft serves, it's not to be a personal jar. The only way out is down.

He moves, tentatively, reaching out in first one direction and then the next. There's a lighter in his pocket, hopefully - he's patting himself down like an absentminded grad student, trying to find it.

The lighter hasn't shattered or cracked to spill its fluid in all the rough-and-tumble, though Bucky's fingers do come away wet. Perhaps one of those shots came closer to the body than he might have known. The ground — that fine thick grate — still vibrates underfoot, gentle motions shaking the very foundations of the ground, such as he's on it. Snap the light on and the flame reveals the plain fact he's at the bottom of a shaft, and the bolted grating the new floor.

Down he looks, peering, to see if there's anything further to be seen beneath. Can he unbolt the grating? Or break it, if need be.

The bolt yields to him, a yank by that metal hand, and he's bracing for the next drop.

Sheet metal meant to withstand casual gunfire cannot deal with being torn from the side, popping like a cheap tin for a polar explorer. The noise cannot be helped, but the last ten foot drop from the punctured grating throws Bucky into a space that is, by any measure, vast.

The cavernous space holds no secrets here. Floodlights wash over the immensity of space on multiple tiers, his landing platform a poured cement disk rimmed by high metal posts and open railings. Catwalks leap from level to level in a complicated spider-web imagined by Esscher and a Black Widow. Huge industrial fans pump recycled air throughout the industrial facility. Easily covering several blocks, the industrial facility stretches off into the dark.

Vanguard called it a factory and, in truth, he was not lying. This is, albeit on the scale of a shuttered Belfast or Brooklyn shipyard. Three slooping bays hold up the neomodern vessels of the future, turbine-spun, superstructures proud and high in formation. They have a look of flat-topped subs configured weirdly more than anything else.

AGain, prefigured in those visions, and he's t urning in search of attackers the moment he's on his feet again - a shambling scarecrow, a leshy come in from the woods to get lost in all this concrete and steel. The ships give him pause, have him staring like a yokel - he was never present for any of the great naval battles of the Pacific war. No referent for such scale.

Neither would the seamen of those battles — fabled Guadalcanal, Midway, Coral Sea, Leyte Gulf — recognize what they are staring at, either. Batteries by the dozen have to power those turbine engines, vast fans still. The cranes and metallic scaffolding blocks out the views. Engineers and labourers build what they can in the protected fortifications of each bay, wearing their welding masks and safety gear. Wires suspend them to the sides of the next generation jet-fighters, or what constitutes flying fortresses of another kind. See how they go, magnesium sparks shot into the air. A few managers move among them, foremen chattering in soft Russian, the catwalks used to get from here to there. Armed men at key points rule the roost, just as they rightly should in a facility so precious.

Memory does not recall their presence, the men keeping careful watch on high. Surely they heard the chattering fall of violence. All said and done, within the self-contained hive of activity, the webworks lead through doors and an arch to the west; otherwise it seems like the main routes are back whence he came.

West it is, was, will be. Trying to avoid summoning further notice, to scuttle out of sight like a roach. Because cyborg hobos commonly inhabit underground installations in the USSR. Surely no one will take heed.

|ROLL| Bucky +rolls 1d20 for: 14

Vault 16. Research Facilities.

Sneaking along the bottom of the massive industrial facility is, at the very least, easy when the scale is so large. No sad factory churning out medicine for dubious means across the Berlin Wall, the huge barrels and rows of electrical generators, air compressors, and nameless Soviet steel tubing attest to raw scale. Bucky can use these to his advantage, avoiding the timed patrols around the catwalks. His near miss with a soldier requires flattening to a wall and smelling the onions on him for a full minute before he can reliably sneak away.

The doors marked 'Authorized Personnel Only, No Vehicles' lead into a rather handsome, sterile environment in industrial greys and washed out drab greens. Formal bays divide the large rectangular space, some separated by acrylic glass walls, field hospital-style canvas drapes, and even one hexagonal dome attest to the use of different research labs. At this hour, few of the scientists are called to task. All manner of warning signs litter the contents of each lab, be it a fridge full of vials to a series of brown blocks hit with more 'corrosive' and 'poison' stencils than a man can shake stick at.

This is slightly more promising. There's even an attempt from him to reach for the link, any sense of the kids. He stands out even more, but does his best to creep past the various bays - this place seems more dedicated to mechanical production than biological research, but….

|ROLL| Bucky +rolls 1d100 for: 63

|ROLL| Bucky +rolls 1d20 for: 1

(Theme: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IBvf7KUEZ78)

|ROLL| Rogue +rolls 1d20 for: 20

The mechanical creations reinforce the information already acquired about battery development. Electronics are present in contained, locked labs visible through their warped glass doors. Heavy fire suppression systems run along the length of the ceiling, along with several dangling wires and at least two or three conspicuous vents fed by powerful fans. Maybe all those air compressors in the huge bays serve a dual purpose. Bucky has really only one way to go, straight up the central aisle with absolutely nothing to act as cover. Numbers mark off each bay like a proper university or college might have. But one thing MIT or NYU lacks…

That would be the flexible carbonadium tentacle snapping out from the periphery of vision to wrap around the soldier's midsection, pinning down the metal arm. The white-skinned man blitzes out through the canvas sheeting blocking one not so solid wall, closing the short distance in two or three running steps. Canvas parts to allow the massive soldier through, and with that comes the inevitable reason for Arkady being so feared. Where there's one, he always has two. The other whirling appendage coils for a leg.

«Winter Soldier.» Words stripped of mirth. «So disappointing. You ran on a mission.»

The other arm is still free, and he's got the rifle up and firing one handed. Just enough strength to do that with any kind of accuracy. His teeth are bared in a rictus of anger. But he's caught, and athe part of him that's strong enough to offer a challenge is already pinned. No answer for Arkady, just that animal glare.

How much power remains to Arkady after slaking himself on a whole village not even a day or two ago? Enough that he can twist Bucky around in a hell of a dance, the doubled appendages working rotating in two separate directions. Not enough to rip a man's leg in its socket with a suppurating tear of flesh and parting tendons, but the threat is there, how carelessly he sends a whipsnap out of the straighter one to make the Winter Soldier no more than a wind-up boy in a cuckoo clock. That doesn't do anything for his armour, hands coming up to intercept any battering shots aimed at his face. While blood flows around the red armour, the holes smashed into his vambraces and breastplate start to close up, reknitting themselves into a clean crimson slate once more.

«Is that any way to treat an old friend, comrade?» he asks, the slow spread of a grin at odds with the flaming red pools of his eyes. «I'd almost think you were hoping not to see me instead of asking for help to continue your task. That's what you will say to our integrity officers when they ask, if they bother to ask?»

He's got no reply for that, no repartee. STruggling in Arkady's grip, still trying to get the rifle to bear on something vulnerable. But Buck is caught, already mostly subdued. The drain is on him, slowing him - he's been running on fumes for a while ow.

Death is ever in check, though moreso now than it might normally be. Omega Red has a reputation for being a bottomless pit. The reality is slightly improved over that, the minimized pull giving him the missing vigor all along. For reasons entirely his own, those prehensile tendrils seek to flip Bucky over, inverting him to hang upside down like someone's demented scarecrow. At least he might receive a view of two alternative exits, metal, fireproof doors past the bank of labs to the north and another cutting back to the hangar. Except there wasn't actually a corresponding exit visible.

«Now here I am.» He's chatty, therefore well-fed. «Here you are. Good time to talk, isn't it? Put down the gun. Playing with me like that… you are not my type. Much too dense. Don't you prefer burying that into something soft, feeling the give around you? Just like a warm glove.»

«What do you want?» He doesn't put down the gun, but he refrains from more attempts at firing. Trying to curl up to keep his head up….and trying to deliberately misunderstand the discussion. Because it doesn't bear thinking about.

The funny thing about carbonadium, it can be rather warm whereas its counterpart, adamantium, is so terribly cold, chilled, deriving no warmth from the body that it leaches the heat out of. Something probably clear in the line of scaled segments that rises up Bucky's calf, stabilizing around the knee in a way inhibiting bending much, but not locking in. «Talk. We can do that, can't we? You know how.» Arkady leers that cold smile, eyes as empty as the barren permafrost on the Yenisei for all the bloody dawn infuses them a hot red. «Bad reputation for talk but maybe no one asks you the right questions. Or no one cared about listening. Isn't that true? Out of the cage, off to your mission, back in. No one asks what the Winter Soldier likes, not what he wants. Why you show up here. She said you would.»

Schooling his face to Winter's flatness of affect, even as the slither of metal makes him tense - if only he actually had the words in place. If Steve were his current handler. «Who is she?» he asks, keeping his tone neutral, the pale eyes fixed on those scarlet ones.

«The little piece. Talks too much but it was easy to silence that.» The pair of tentacles flex without so much as creaking, fully motivated to wrap a little higher, a little harder. «Should keep an eye on those things. Not your problem anymore. You go back to report, you're done.» He taps his broad gloved finger on his crossed arms. «You could have worked with me out there. So much better. Not too late. I could ask, they would give a pass. But they're waiting otherwise.»

«What do you want from me?» he asks again, brow furrowing. This sounds, almost, like Omega Red wanting to deal. «You want me to do something for you, or else you turn me in and they wipe me? Is that what you're trying to say?»

Arkady flexes his fingers into a clenched fist, loosened up. He reconciles the questions with a bored expression devoid of rage, only that distinct sensation of turning tides with the slightest intention. «What does anybody want? A sharp knife, a large bed, and reason to get up.» The brittle sussurations of his voice would almost imply a laugh but that's not a sound shared. «You left part of a mission incomplete. It's crawling around out there. Doing that? It's good business. Fixes your record to finish that problem. Either way I'm going to take care of the Yankee.» A shrug. «You like breathing, don't you? Better than being caged up again?»

«You want me to go get that American?» he asks, softly. «He needs to be taken alive. He's invaluable - he's the only one of his kind, and you and I both know the bioengineers have created nothing like him. Nothing close. All those years of working on me, and Zola hasn't gotten anywhere near him. Yes. I do like breathing. Do you want me to help you catch him?»

Arkady gives that slow, level look. It seems someone can say one and one equals two. «One way or another.» The best one gets is a shrug out of the huge man, and the tightening constrictor coils out of habit, hungry for a fresh meal or a place to delve. «You will come with me then. One last job. I'll see they don't put you away wet.» A smirk flickers and rests wrong on his face, his golden hair shining in the research facilities' backglow. «I'm not a fool. You have another proposal?»

That conjures up a little grunt of discomfort from him. But he's not being torn like a paper doll or summarily handed over to security. «I don't understand why you're dealing with me personally. YOu could hand me in, they'd wipe me, and I'd be their puppet. What is you want that you're afraid they won't let you have?»

|ROLL| Rogue +rolls 1d100 for: 4

Arkady holds a reputation in the Red Room; certainly one known to the Black Widow, wherever she is, dining on caviar and sipping imported Tuscan wine. Possibly to the grim, hollow-eyed wind-up soldier, that he is unpredictable enough to be feared. 'Loose cannon' might be a perjorative they say… far, far away from his earshot.

«How little your mind is, whatever brains you've got left in your head.» No answers coming there. He starts to walk, sliding images of batteries and wiring and circuitry glazed past — upside down, since he hasn't righted Bucky at all. «Scrambled, whipped, fried. Funny you can still talk. And you act like I need a reason. I don't. Same as I could leave you a withered husk whispering my name.» No idle threat, no direct one either. The tone belies a certain cutting, winter-cold amusement. «You aren't nearly so frightening as they make you out to be. I have rat bait. And it'll be fun.»

«I am not at my best. I need maintenance.» IT is, for an utterly bizarre moment, Winter himself speaking, rather than James. He's still got his opinions, the construct, and his pride to be needled. «And I can walk, if you put me down.» Nevermind the leaden weight of weariness in his bones.

«Do I look like I'm using a screwdriver on that part of you? You're inferior.» Indeed he is, considering that Arkady self-mends and, presumably, regrows those lovely tentacles of his should they prove problematic. He approaches the door leading back into the large hangar, making no point to conceal himself or the lode he carries. «You'll be strapped into a chair soon enough, and you want me rattling around inside you. I let you walk and where will you head?»

«To the rest of me,» he says, simply. «I'm not whole, I have to find my missing pieces and they're here somewhere. Will you turn me upright, please? This is uncomfortable.» Let Arkady think he's crazy. Madness or its feigning might be his only refuge.

«Ah, that. You show up late and that's what happens, things get recycled. Next time, don't run.» An offhanded comment on part of the ghost. He flexes the carbonadium filaments and they comply to the nervous implants, whipping Bucky around in a resettlement upright, though at a cost that drips away a bit of energy here, a little there. «You kept me from the real entertainment, and I won't forget that. Putting up with the windbag scientists was bad enough. You owe me.» He can't afford to be too picky now, not with the lights and the door carelessly booted open to take his prize prancing out in front of the crowd. See, here's the blue-ribbon soldier. «

«Understood. I repay what I owe. Always.» A vertiginous turn, but he's weak as a kitten in the grip of those cables. «Thank you,» he adds, with as much dignity as he can muster. Open defiance was crushed long ago - now there's just resignation. Where is he going, other than not where he wants?

The gentleman repays his debts, there is some kind of irony in that. «Not with lead.» Already proven that those slugs and bullets do not do what they ought to, a part of his intrinsically warped design. Whatever shall he do with his little troublesome toy, the acquisition dangling above the ground? Even pretending to walk would be an act of marionetting. «Of course we're just stalling.» Quite nice conversation, his tone a bit rasping but not untowards. «It's a pity when the last bits crack. They never hold up well. Waste not, want not. A nice tour then, and when we hear the snapping pop, you'll know the work is complete. Never say I didn't do you a good turn, soldat. You never seemed the type to be front and center for the spectacles. The rat's always that.»

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