1965-03-22 - Project Ursa: Pherkad Beta
Summary: Steve Rogers and Natasha Romanova try to follow in the Winter Soldier's footsteps.
Related: If there are no related logs, put 'None', — please don't leave blank!
Theme Song: None
black-widow steve-rogers rogue 

0431 hours. Access 17. Closed City 53.
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.

The horror about Bucky being shot at no doubt inspires an aneurysm suggestive of violence. Rattling violence erupts from an AK-47, no hints of the magazine jamming. His shield banks at blind angles, taking down a shooter unable to react quickly enough. A body falls after the ricochet strength of vibranium is tested, collision of flesh and floor a satisfying percussion beat. Just the one, at first. Slugs carve the darkness and smash into the wall, answered by the singing lament of a knife or metal on metal. Last glimpses steve will catch of Bucky is the man wading through the darkness, a purposeful strike here and there, vanishing out of sight in a whirlwind of violence.

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?

It was wisely stated when said, "One is the loneliest number"; no more bitter saying applies than in the fugue of battle, when everything narrows down to two options: kill or be killed. For all the clean-nosed poster-boy imagery tacked onto Steve Rogers' name, he is not unaware that a poorly-modulated collision of shield to enemy body may end in collapse and death. The bullets ricocheting? Those tend towards luck rather than skill if they bury themselves into enemy flesh rather than the walls themselves.

Where's Bucky? It's like arriving at a gala, lightbulbs flashing, save for the paparazzi want to smear his name rather than his blood. Steve grunts and crouches down, making himself the smaller target behind the whirlwind of his friend — presumably somewhere ahead. But where?

Bullets spat from AK-47s have a wide spray range. Unfortunately they tend to leave ears ringing in the close confines of a hallway, though the gunmen have some advantage of being around corners and down intersecting hallways. It's a clever ploy to change the game. Infiltrating SHIELD team facing the rattle of automatic gunfire are soon deafened if within any reasonable range. The nightmarish darkness combined with the inability to clearly distinguish sounds makes determining direction even harder.

Powder and blood perfume the air, a stain of gore on the wall the backdrop for the staccato clatter of hot lead. The crackling click of metal follows another weapon, less conventional, being slid over the ground like a hockey puck on a slapshot. It's no discarded gory knife in the wake of a distant, retreating phantom or the orange flecks of fire lost to straining eyes. It spins. Tick. Tick.

Just a glimpse in the dark underground maze gives Natasha flashes to some of what she experienced in the Nevers Realm, for once she would love to have some infra red goggles to light the darkness. On the other hand, she also get a distinct sensation that they do not want to meet what's waiting down here.

The device slid towards them is met by Natasha's instinctively executed grand battement, trying to slide it right back where it was sent with a flair of ballet. Hopefully it doesn't detonate on touch. «Careful,» she warns, as if Steve wasn't already aware of danger with all the AK's going off like firecrackers.

It's instinctive, the need to swat at the incoming item, and then, just as quickly — it's gone, and Steve glances over to see a familiar face in the chaos. Her features are ghostly against his retinas, lightened briefly as they are by the flash-fire of guns. Thank God too for stymied reflexes. It would have been terribly awkward if he'd lashed out defensively.

«Thanks,» he shouts back, attention immediately returning to the fray ahead of them. «Barnes went that way!» He risks a hand to gesture around the shield, a la military directioning. «We have to move!»

Away slides the metal puck, reflected from a wall. The slippery cement floor slopes away, perhaps something working to the advantage of the SHIELD team in the dark. Any hint of Bucky's presence is swallowed in the thickening night, not even so much as a lamp or flickering exit sign revealing their whereabouts. Bumped knees and bruised elbows are a likely reality, a necessity for caution unless someone wants to tumble and bash their way down to the end of the hallway. If there is any kind of end.

Onwards leads to a chaotic mess trying to negotiate a row of shut doors, blind hallways connecting at befuddled angles. Whatever designer made this drew the blueprint in an earthquake. No more bullets, only a low, throbbing rumble in the dark.

It's hard to say how far they go without attack, but the end is the end. The smell of dust hangs in the recycled air. Ahead, heavy doors large enough for a Panzer to drive through with room to spare. Not so much as a trickle of light penetrates through the metal vault. On the other side, perhaps the Soviet Mint?

«Perhaps allow me the courtesy of the gentlemanly phrase…how goes it…ladies first?» Amusing that Natasha would take this bit of gallantry and apply it in waltzing into danger first, but perhaps the Black Widow has a plan? The floor for one thing is slippery, but what of the ceiling? At the very least, she doesn't anticipate the defenses here would expect approach by that upside down method, and up she goes, in a moment of reprise from constant firing — one has to reload at some point — and climbs along the wall before starting to crawl further down the hall via the ceiling. Should no surprise await her, she'll wait until she's above the aggressors, and introduce them to a shocking taste of the widow's bite. If Steve was patient enough, it may potentially clear a path for him that'll be far easier to traverse.

Steve feels the displaced air of sudden vertical movement from beside him and risks a glance upwards. That…is a trick.

«By all means,» replies he, his volume gauged loudly enough for her to catch and yet still half to himself in the end. The Captain himself takes advantage of the brief censure in the flying bullets to engage in his own risky move: that of plowing through any remaining gunmen who stand after that wicked bite.

Bodies are bodies and are left as they lie; not once has Steve seen a specific metallic reflection so very similar to that of his shield — not a single vibranium arm lying askew on the floor. «He went this way.» And the blond is so very certain that he jogs past the shut doors. Knocked elbows? Absolutely. What little lighting exists, or lack thereof, means that he nearly winds himself at one point risking a quicker dash down the lenght of hallway and meeting an angled wall instead. At one point, indeed — the end. Steve shifts his shield to the back-mount and gets to feeling at the doors with bared fingertips. Surely there's a seam where the metal splits somewhere…?

Electric lines may dance but they find only bodies. The occasional slumped figure dropped, another up the way gutted in the side and coating the ground in a thin sheen of rusted blood. This, this is not a trick. Liquid and electrified at that leaves a hideously thick iron smell on the air.

The doors remain inviolate in front of them, very tall indeed. It's quite the drop to the floor for Natasha, at least fifteen feet. The portals stretch that high and meet together, round and locked together. Whatever keeps them that way is commensurately strong. Can't go under it, can't go over it, gotta go through it.

Natasha assists where she can with her shots of widow bites while proceeding along the ceiling, Steve's charge drawing all of the attention, it's a rather good team up. With the drop becoming quite high, Natasha cut it by crawling along the wall a bit, before dropping down. Super Soldier Serum and ballet training making for quite a graceful, and safe landing. Turning to look at Steve, she offers «between the two of us, if we ram it together, I think we can break through…» it's feasible the door might withstand a super soldier, but two of them? Maybe…but it doesn't seem reasonable to expect such a charge.

«I think we'd just draw attention.» In the ear-ringing silence that follows their sudden stopgap, he keeps feeling for that seam in the metal. Vertically? It's a phantom; all his fingertips keep touching is the thick and blast-proof metal. «I've managed to open doors like this before,» Steve adds, glancing in what he thinks is her direction. «It took a lot of effort.»

The sudden increase in movement on his part, noted by the sound of shuffling and a quiet grunt, means he must have found something. A diagonal seam, and it's into this he digs his fingernails. The first attempt to separate the doors is met with a grunt and a startling creak.

«Get ready,» he mutters, «they're not going to like this.» Metal begins to wail its resistence and slowly, but surely, with muscles and veins standing high beneath his skin, Steve works at forcing the doors to part. Little by little, they begin to split, interior mechanisms cranking and crunching.

Fingernails are certain to crack and split at the effort needed to pinch even a small seam into the reinforced steel. Boiler doors on the Titanic and her sister ships were of a shoddier quality and thickness than the two merged together, the hum of electricity keeping the segments placed. But as the reversed miniscule shape resists the strain implied against it, Erskine's formula holds at least somewhat true. Every muscle may be standing out in relief, forcing Steve to adjust his grip but the slow, slow dilation of that pitiless eye grows.

The cacophonous shrill is louder than any siren's wail, no Lorelei on a mythical rock this. It is painstakingly slow work to push two curtains seven feet and some across apart, but little by little light peeks through. Natasha may be the first to really see the evidence of a poured cement hallway leading away on the other side, a broad corridor large enough for two tanks abreast, sloping off into the deep grey gloom. Light, at least, manages to pervade this place. The noise is so loud, however, they're probably deaf to one another for a bit.

Natasha looks onward at what is revealed behind and has a sense there just might be tanks waiting to blast all comers. Than again, if one would have fired at Bucky, they would have felt it. «Onwards, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,» Natasha sings very faintly to Steve, before double checking, «you are Christian, right?» At least it'll make one of them, she micmics her maneuver from before, choosing to advance by way of ceiling. One, it gives them an element of surprise, two, if there's a trap at floor level, she might pull Steve to safety with a line.

Huzzah for ringing ears. Once a large-enough gap has been wrenched into being, Steve moves with haste through it and into the corridor. The lighting isn't much better in this expansive beyond and even as he pauses, panting for his efforts, he can't hear much beyond the huffs of the air leaving his lungs.

«I believe there's a God,» he replies quietly, the sound of his own voice rebounding back at him faintly. «If he has any say, we'll find Bucky alive.» He's on the ground, she's above, and thus, they move forwards.

Wider, the split in the doors opens to admit them. The thickness would be fully capable of withstanding any amount of small armsfire near indefinitely, and plenty of larger rounds for much longer. A few dents would be nothing for that thickness. Eventually Steve has enough leverage to leave space for himself to slide through. Directly upon the other side are two dead men, sprayed by bullets, gore on the wall fresh enough to be fairly recent. Within fifteen minutes, perchance.

The corridor to the vault stretches out: a straight shot north, a reinforced tunnel headed directly to the captain and the Widow's left. Dust hangs in the air, forming something of a mirage, rendering distant shapes to little better than silhouettes.

«A God wouldn't allow anyone to create Omega Red,» Natasha muses to herself, no need to debate with Steve now, but having a fellow Red Room operative willing to kill her for entertainment when she was giving him good intel earlier on this run has rubbed her the wrong way. If anything, it falls rather well with Peggy's little mind games, because she's starting to feel maybe, just maybe Peggy Carter does care about her more than the Red Room does. She allows Steve to lead the way, as she has no particular familiarity with this underground base of operations, though it does give her odd vibes of the Nevers…if someone would call her Aunty Lin anytime while down her she might just freak out a bit. For now she provides cover from the ceiling, approaching just a little behind Steve, as they turn to the left.

Or perhaps being found running with an American icon runs at odds with the idea of a good little Soviet sparrow flying home to the branch in a trustworthy manner. Either way, the space ahead is strangely absent of people. Another oddity as they skim to the left down the wide corridor is the fact it ends in a hell of a gaping hole, a perfectly circular boreshaft going down into the earth. No telling how far down they are now, but it's a straight drop down.


«Omega Red?» Steve has the mind to ask after the name even as they travel the distance down the left-hand tunnel, away from the bodies that bear the proof of stolen weaponry turned upon them. Gory as the sight is, the Captain counts it as a sign that his friend is still alive. Or was, as of approximately fifteen minutes ago. At the edge of the boreshaft, he pauses and holds up a hand — company, halt.

The bottom of the shaft is…a long way down. "Well…okay. We can do this," he murmurs, glancing up at Widow. Then, the jump. It's a drop! On the way down, one boot contacts a surface — a grate? — but not the other, and thus, Steve has to execute some bizarre attempt to right himself during the rest of the fall. The actual impact is accompanied by an 'OOF'; someone didn't stick their superhero landing.

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