Sokovia: Part 1

August 18, 2015:

Tony and Peggy - with the help of SHIELD and Anatol Erben find out who has been attempting to kill the Starks.

Sokovia

Characters

NPCs: Anatol Erben, Agent Sofia Carvery, Special Evil Guest Star (emits by Howard Stark)

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

It was probably a surprise to get word from the SHIELD brass that Tony's getting support on this mission to Sokovia - but then again, maybe not. Usually when SHIELD gets their fingers in a mission, things tend to go their way. Sure, Tony could just fly into contested airspace and maybe not get shot down, but that doesn't help Peggy any. So it's either fly on the quinjet that's been properly cleared, or go in with no backup.
They're currently loading up from a helicarrier somewhere high above the Mediterranean. It's humid as all hell, even at this altitude. The crystal clear waters wink far below them. "Agent Carter," says a young woman with a London accent, a mass of curly dark hair and a soft brown complexion. She's smiling big. "It's such an honour to work with you! I'm Agent Sofia Carvery, SHIELD London. We have the package on the quinjet all secured. You and Mister Stark can board whenever you're set. We've got a squad of our best insurgent agents all set to deploy." Despite the fact that they're talking something very serious, she just cannot seem to stop smiling. It's genuine, too, not forced nerves.

Dressed in combat fatigues and lacking her usual make up and polish, Peggy Carter looks very much like any other SHIELD agent out there. That's the point, really. She has a bag slung over her shoudler with weapons and anything else they may need once inside Sokovia. Her combat kit might be a bit less technological than Tony's, but it has served her well in the past.

Peggy gives Agent Carvery a look. Normally, she might find the woman's cheery demeanor rather strange, but for the moment she just gives the woman a nod. "Thank you, Agent Carvery," she tells the young woman with a bit of a smile. "I appreciate the sentiment. I believe we're ready to go," she looks over to Tony with a questioning look as she moves toward the quinjet.

Tony was perfectly prepared to go in with no backup. Better that than someone else telling him what to do and how to do it. Nevertheless, sufficient badgering, while it usually just makes him turtle up all the more, almost certainly came from Agent Carter. AKA Aunt Peggy. She might not have lived through Tony's upbringing, but she still manages that tone of voice.
Here he is on the Quinjet even so, glancing between Agents Carvery and Carter. A sudden smirk twists his lips: "Tell me, Agent Carvery. What's it like to meet Peggy Carter in the actual flesh? First SHIELD agent, and an Englishwoman at that. Maybe a personal inspiration?" Peggy's all business, but Tony somehow still manages to be lippy despite the seriousness of the situation. Defense mechanism? Just Tony? He's still in street clothes, but there's a red and gold metal backpack strapped to his shoulders. Mark Something-or-other.

"Mister Stark, you're just jealous because I'm not excited to meet you. But we've already met. A few times, in fact." Carvery just continues to beam at Peggy. "But yes, it really is an honour, Agent Carter." She clutches a tablet to her chest and then clears her throat. "Right this way."
Then she's climbing up the ramp to the quinjet. There's two guards flanking a man in non-SHIELD fatigues. When one guard shifts back, the figure of Anatol Erben is plainly visible. He's shackled and looks a bit drawn. He doesn't say a word as the two of them enter the jet.

The one thing Peggy is quite good at is organizing and then badgering people into seeing things her way. At Tony's attempt to embarrass her, she does her best to not blush. She mostly manages it, but she does give Tony quite an unamused look. As they move their way to the Quinjet, she smiles. "Yes, Agent Carvery and I have met on several occasions, though this is the first time we have actually had the pleasure of being on a mission together. I'm glad to have you on our team," she tells the agent.

Then, though, her attention is caught be Erben. "Is that Mr. Erben?" she asks Carvery. "Why is he being brought aboard. I wasn't aware of him coming on the mission."

Blink. Blink. Tony flips through the mental Rolodex and just smiles and shrugs. "I meet a lot of people. Maybe this time it'll be more memorable." Possibly he even winks when he says that. Certainly it's his cue to turn to the ramp and walk and… pause.
"Anatol," he says softly. He stares at the man a moment before he sets his jaw and continues climbing the ramp. "Did you ask to come? Or are we bringing you along for funsies?"

Carvery looks flustered. "You…weren't…oh dear." She blushes and thumbs through the tablet until she finds the order, which she presents to Peggy. "SHIELD promised not to block his extradition to Sokovia in exchange for his assistance on this mission. He's accused of far more serious crimes back home, but he'll almost certainly be able to bribe officials there to secure a lighter sentence or even release."
Anatol, for his part, just smiles tightly, then leans back against the bulkhead. "This is not fun for me," he drawls.
Once they're all aboard, the quinjet lifts off. They'll have a couple of hours to make any last minute prep en route to the lovely land of Sokovia.

"I see." Peggy looks to Anatol with a tight look and frowns. "Alright. I can see how he would be helpful in Sokovia. However, if he makes any attempt at escape or backstabbing, I will not hesitate to shoot him in a nonfatal area and drag him back to the United States." If it wasn't fun for him before, it certainly is less so now. Peggy Carter is watching him.

Once aboard and settled, Peggy puts together most of her kit, checking and rechecking the various weapons and tools she's brought along with her. The few hours just gives her extra checking time. To Tony, she spares a few glances. "You ready?" she asks him.

Tony's forced cheer has taken a downturn. "Yeah. Yeah, I don't think it's fun for anyone." He turns his head away from the man, raking a hand through his hair and falling in beside Carter. She's running this op, after all, and it's her job to give the orders. Not that he likes to admit she's going to be better at this bit than he is. Not that he'd even halfway take orders from most other people. But it's Peg.
"Let's do this," he replies, putting a little extra force into it. Rd

The rest of the trip to Sokovia is tense, if otherwise uneventful. They very nearly get shot down or turned back upon entering Sokovian airspace, but a series of urgent communications in broken Sokovian by Carvery secures their passage. She looks visibly relieved, and promptly goes to make a cup of tea, which she shares with anyone who is interested.
Finally, the jet touches down approximately four clicks outside of Anatol's village, in a very thick section of forest. They have to rappel down to the forest floor, since there's no space for the quinjet to land. "We'll engage stealth mode and monitor the channel in case you need air support or evac. But if you want us to get any closer than this, you'll have to take out their surface-to-air," says Carvery over the whine of the engine.

Before Tony can take his leave of the main chunk of the forces, Anatol, hands now free, catches Tony by the arm. "I want you to know that I left the safeties in place on purpose. I never wanted anyone to get hurt. I just wanted to show you and your father what was happening here."

As they move to disembark, Peggy nods, looking at the SHIELD agents under her command. "Thank you Agent Carvery. We'll do that." Moving out she looks to Tony. "Think Iron Man can handle the surface-to-air while the rest of us rappel to the forest floor?" It seems the best use of their time.

Either way, they'll have to get down to the floor and they can figure things out from there. "Alright Agents, let's move." Securing the equipment, they start to make their way down to the village.

"Then you could have called." Tony's face is hard, even as wearily determined as he looks. "I would have backed you up all the way. It never had to come to this."
He's quiet for the rest of the trip, and when it comes time to set out, he reaches up to press the buttons on the straps of the red and gold backpack. Predictably, it unravels and folds over his body in a slightly unsettling way. "Sure. They'll be expecting me to have flown out here on my own anyway. I'll draw fire and take out surface-to-air. You know what to do with the rest."

"I know you would have, my friend," says Anatol sadly. He says the word 'friend' like he suspects that's not really applicable anymore. "But from what I hear, your relationship with your father is not good, yes? Why would he listen to you? You say what you like about my methods. But you're here."
He takes his spot on the rappel line. Within seconds, the SHIELD contingent is on the forest floor. Almost immediately, they're greeted with the sound of bodies moving through the underbrush. Anatol barks something in Sokovian. There's silence, then a call back. Slowly, about ten battle-weary and ill-equipped guerilla fighters emerge from the woods. They're of all ages, and both men and women. "Agent Carter, this is what is left of my village. We will do what we can to help." He nods to the leader, a young woman with tightly pulled back dark hair and a head wound that looks like it sorely needs attending. "Maja. These are friends from SHIELD. They will help us free the others. You can trust them."
Meanwhile, Tony's got clear sailing - at least, until he passes into range of those missiles. Tony being Tony (and with the help of JARVIS) will know exactly where that range is, and exactly what the weakness of those (Starktech) STA missiles are.

"See you on the ground, then. Good luck, Tony," Peggy puts a quick hand on Tony's shoulder before she's off. The rappel down is uneventful for the agent - she's done it before. Once attached to a lanky British butler. Down a mere cliffside is much easier.

The approach of the guerrilla fighters causes Peggy to put up her weapon, only lowering it again when the coast is clear. "Hello. I thank you for your help. We will do what we can," she assures them. "For now we need a clear and hopefully disguised way into the factory. As far as you can take us. From there we can infiltrate in. If you have any inside knowledge on any of the people that may be guarding the facility, that would be greatly appreciated." After all, perhaps she can make her way inside without firing a shot.

Shooting into the sky and across it, coming from a direction nearly opposite to that Peggy plans to take. He prefers to work alone anyway, particularly when he's in a foul mood. That foul mood is going to get taken out on, ironically, his own tech. Or knockoffs of his own tech, to be specific. The diversion the guerrillas need is going to be sparkling and obvious: the fireworks begin quickly, and Tony's even kind enough to blast those missiles out of the air over the guards as much as he can. Not that preventing property damage is his major concern, but.

Maja looks Peggy dead in the eye as she's sizing the other woman up. She then nods once and a lanky teenager shuffles forward and presents her with a schematic and a series of photographs of the interior of the factory. "We can get you right up to the perimeter undetected. We have disabled a series of motion sensors along the north facing perimeter. It is farthest from the main entrance and across an open yard. Difficult to traverse. South wall is the work camp. We need to get those people out first." She's not very old, but she has the world-weary look of a freedom fighter who didn't ask for this life.
The moment Tony starts firing, everything's kicked into high gear. "Quickly, this way," says Anatol. He starts off down a subtle, but present pathway through the thick brush. The insurgents follow, but a few take up the rear to make sure none of the SHIELD agents get separated. This is not a forest to get lost in.
It takes a good ten minutes of brisk movement to approach the perimeter. Fireworks pop over the sky of the compound. Men with guns herd the civilians out into the yard, as close as they can to the STA missles so that they'll be injured by any attack to the guns themselves. Classy. The missiles fire one at a time and blaze towards Tony. Whoever's controlling those things knows what they're doing. Each missile corrects for his position. It's almost like they knew the man in the suit would be coming and studied YouTube videos of him in flight.

Those bastards. Those out-and-out utter stinking bastardy bastards. "Hey JARVIS," he growls. "Let's see about trajectory-correcting those missiles. They're Starktech. Just how smart do you suppose they are?" Probably not /super/ smart given their vintage, but he's wheeling around to mitigate the damage he's doing. To the people, if not so much to the area.

Peggy looks Maja straight back. She's been in a war herself and it shows. She's killed and seen people she cared about killed. As soon as the sizing up is done, she nods once, gesturing to the SHIELD Agents and Anatol to follow. As soon as possible, she follows Anatol, right behind him. She's not the type to lead from behind. Rummaging into her bag, she pulls out the chameleon mask.

Those damned missiles are hot on Tony's tail. He's keeping ahead of them - for now. It would make for a funny airshow, if there was anyone on the ground who would be inclined to laugh, and if those weapons weren't inches from turning Tony into confetti.
"Sir, I believe I can hack them. But you'll need to get as close as you can manage and stay as still as you can manage so I can initiate an uplink." Gee, JARVIS, easy as pie, right?
The insurgents and SHIELD agents make the perimeter of the compound. There's no fence at this end, but that's because there's a large open field overshadowed by a guard tower. Maja stoops to disengage a pressure sensor that deactivates the perimeter. "We need to take out the guards." She points across at the armed guards who keep the villagers close to the last remaining STA launcher.
Anatol cranes his neck and looks up. "Now, I know Tony enjoys a thrill. But don't those missiles seem a little close?"

"…jeez, JARVIS, easy as pie." Tony rolls his eyes behind the mask. But he's up for the challenge. Always up for the challenge. So from overhead, from above the guards themselves, the Iron Man suit wheels around and faces the missiles themselves. It looks an awful lot like he's actually /daring them to hit him/.
"Just in case this doesn't work," he adds, "let's just start charging up the Uni-Beam too."

"There are three places that serve pie in your general vicinity," deadpans JARVIS. Figures, you let him talk to Siri once, and he gets ideas. "Beam at 70 percent. Yes, hold it right there. I've managed to make a connection." The only sign that JARVIS isn't just talking big AI talk is the slowing velocity of both of the missiles. One sputters and spins out, exploding harmlessly in the air. The other…drops like a stone, right towards the tent camp.

"He'll be careful," Peggy assures Anatol, though, really she doesn't exaclty sound like she believes it entirely. There's other pressing matters. Nodding in respect at Maja when she disarms the pressure sensor, she says, "I'll take care of the guards. Follow in right with me," she orders. "I'll pretend to be bringing you in as prisoners." Putting on the chameleon mask, her face changes to a captured terrorist from SHIELD databases. Changing her demeanor, she reaches a hand out for Anatol to be the one she has a hand on.

They move forward with purpose, nodding to the guards. It's a brief moment of held breath, but then they're past them.

"You and that Cortana are not to hang out anymore. I mean it. She's a bad influence on — " That's about when the other missile starts to dive. It's only an instant before Tony does too, shooting downward and reaching out to actually grab the missile Superman-style and hurl it toward the guards instead. "Okay," he croaks, the strain clear in his voice. "Really almost perfect."

Thankfully, the chameleon mask also translates Sokovian. Howard thinks of everything. So when the scary looking guys in guns bark at her, she knows they're angry at her for her piss-poor timing, considering they're under attack. One of the guards starts herding them towards the tent village. A pair take up the rear to make sure the other handful don't bolt for it. Maja, a SHIELD agent and most of the insurgents hang back to secure the perimeter.
The missile weighs somewhere between a lot and a hell of a lot. Thankfully, that's a hell of a suit. The missile goes careening towards the guard house. It explodes in a fireball.
That causes the terrorists to get just a liiitttle bit edgier. Peggy and crew are herded more quickly towards the tent.
Anatol leans in towards Peggy and murmurs, "Your disguise won't work for long. Smarter men than these will question your timing and how you managed to subdue multiple SHIELD agents on your own. Choose your moment."

Actual joints creak — the ones in Tony and the ones in his suit — as he struggles under the weight of the missile. But he's able to guide it, blasting it with his repulsors enough to knock it back onto course toward the guard shack. He hovers above it for a moment, silhouetted against the fireball, before landing on a stable piece of rubble and speaking through his intercom:
"Don't even bother taking me to your leader. Bring him out to me. Now. And if you don't want to be a part of this fight, drop your weapons and run."

At both Anatol's warning and Tony's grand entrance, Peggy raises an eyebrow and decides, well, that may be a moment. Attempting to build on Tony's momentum, she whispers, hushed to the guards in front of her. "Do you know who that is? It's Iron Man! He's notorious!" It's an attempt to get them to run or perhaps focus attention on the man wearing an entire body of armor. Her eyes are on that tent. As soon as the leaders will hopefully make their appearance, she'll make her move.

"Tony Stark," comes a voice over the loudspeaker. It's a voice that should cut the Iron Man to the quick. It's familiar. Too familiar. "Well well well. You finally took the bait. I really did want your daddy here, but I'll settle for melting his face off and having you. Not ideal, but I'm not fussy."
Peggy's at the position to see who it is. It's a tall man, bald, bearded - but with less gray in the beard than Tony remembers. He's holding a cigar. He's also got odd scars down one side of his face and down his shoulder. Part of his throat is exposed. It looks like the same innards that are on display back at Howard's apartment. Metal innards. "No doubt you're confused. But you're a smart boy. I'm sure you'll get it. Hello, Agent Carter." The man holds up a device and points it at Peggy's face. He flips a switch and suddenly an electric shock lights up every bit of skin that the chameleon mask touches. The disguise sputters and fails. "I figured he'd give you one of those. He always did like his fancy masks. Look at you. All pretty." He smiles like a snake oil salesman. "Oh, but we haven't met from your perspective, have we? Where are my manners?" The guards beside them suddenly surround Peggy and her entourage. "I'm Obadiah Stane, or at least a reasonable facsimile thereof. Unfortunately, dear ole Howie did manage to keep some very important details from me."

TO BE CONTINUED……

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