The Winter Soldier is a JREK!

June 08, 2016:

Armed with a few new tricks, Falcon makes a second attempt to bring down the assassin he encountered outside the Triskelion.

A motel and a wilderness trail in upstate New York

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

While New York City is very busy and bustling, upstate can be a totally different matter. Most people don't realize that New York is -not- that small of a state and there are a lot of smaller towns and rural areas once you get away from the metropolitan areas. There are even people in these towns and apartments that can be rented cheaply. They may even be nice ones for the money, but this one was obviously chosen because people weren't going to ask questions.

It's less of an apartment building than a motel…with rooms available by the hour, day, or week. It's pretty basic, one door in, a bedroom with two beds, an old television set, decor from the 1980's, and a linoleum-covered bathroom. No kitchenette, but there's a mini-fridge for those leftover pizza orders and booze storage.

This is where the motorcycle matching the description was last seen.


Track down an unregistered motorbike based on the make and model alone? Yeah, Oracle has an app for that.

It's apparently some kind of combination image recognition algorithm and traffic cam trojan, creating a map of 'hot zones' with the most matches. 'Apparently,' because Sam Wilson zoned out about halfway through the creepy robot voice's long-winded explanation and just uploaded his JLA handler's GIS data into his flight computer. Following the matches led him here.

"Jesus," Falcon mutters to himself as he glides overhead. "You'd think assassination would pay better than this." Then again, maybe the cyborg runs into superheroic opposition often enough to kill his margins.

The flier sheds altitude and touches down behind a neighboring building, old instincts and a fresh memory of a deadly sniper rifle keeping him well out of the field of view of any of the building's windows. He's wearing the military-issued stealth suit he uses for covert ops, but it hardly blends in with main street locals. Still, he only has to walk the distance of a couple of buildings. Once that's done, he scans the parking lot for the motorcycle he's trying to track.


The motorcycle is parked in front of Room 8…which seems to be just like any other room to be had in this motel. The door is locked, of course, but there isn't high security going on. The cameras that are up might not even be working. It's hard to say. Inside the room, the television is on, most likely for noise. There is no suitcase around so this may not be a long-term stay. There is nothing in the closet, nothing in the drawers that didn't come with the room.


"Bingo," Sam mutters to himself, drawing a sidearm: one of SHIELD's nonlethal ICER ballistic pistols. He also dips a hand into one of the many, many pockets built into his flight harness: what exactly he's retrieving isn't clear. He sidles up to room 8 and tests the knob silently: no go.

Okay. Time to do this the old-fashioned way.

Shoulder against the door, he leans away for a moment, then lunges hard enough to snap the bolt right out of the doorframe. His pistol comes up as he whirls through the doorway and off to one side in a single fluid motion. His molars grind against each other as the muscle memory he is drawing on calls up a host of buried associations: heat and sun and the ceaseless terror of death far from home. Not the time.

His gaze sweeps the room, the HUD in his goggles scanning infrared bands and using an airport-style magnetic scanner to highlight large concentrations of ferrous metal.


Maybe it was a ruse? The television on and no one was there. There wasn't even a dent in the bed to indicate that anyone had been there recently. Maybe there was warning that the other was on his way? Maybe he left the bike and stoke a car for the rest of the trip?

Or maybe he was picking up a pizza that had been delivered to the front desk?

It was the slam of the door to his room that warned the Winter Soldier that he had been tracked down. With the pizza completely forgotten and dropped to the sidewalk, he's bolting to his bike to try and get out of the area before the other can give chase.


The scans dig pretty easily through the thin interior walls of the motel and find… nothing. Nothing metal, nothing warm, nothing he's looking for. "Dammit, dammit, dammit," Sam mutters as he finishes his search. For a second, he thinks his quarry is long gone. Then, he hears heavy footsteps pounding closer, and remembers the bike. If the assassin is still around, that's the only thing here that's still useful to him.

Sam leans out through the doorway, just far enough for his HUD to identify the metal prosthetic. That's his guy! But instead of bringing his gun around, the Avenger snakes his left hand out and flings something at the oncoming Winter Soldier. Something small, brightly colored, and plastic. Letter-shaped. Wait… are those… fridge magnets?


Only the one arm is metal but the magnet attaches. It's actually not noticed for a little bit as the assassin attempts to speed away on the bike, or at least go further away from civilization for this confrontation. Maybe he expects the winged man to follow? Maybe he is luring the winged one away?

Either way, the magnet remains on his arm even as he speeds along the rural highway until the bike turns onto a trail leading into the woods. Not the best surface for a motorcycle and it's left not too far inside the treeline.

The rider, however, isn't obvious and there is quite a bit of canopy. Makes it hard to fly.


A purple J clamps onto the Soldier's wrist. An R the same color lands on his forearm. A blue E hits the outside of his elbow and a bright orange K lands just below the red star on his shoulder.

That's right: "JREK." It's clear what Falcon was going for, here. Points for effort.

Sam's wings unfurl and he jets into the air, pursuing the bike closely. He's only too happy to take this fight away from civilization and the collateral damage that makes possible. Once his target is a ways up the trail, though, it's time to play what will hopefully prove a trump card: Sam hits a recessed switch on his belt, and the magnets will overload with a localized magnetic pulsewave, designed to disrupt electronics and lock up motors on contact.

Falcon dives through the treeline, branches whipping across his facemask, aiming to land as near as possible to the bike.

As soon as his boots hit dirt, he draws his sidearm again, and calls out, as if picking up the thread of an interrupted story: "So I said to Tony, 'hey, man, I need something that can disable a scary metal prosthetic arm that shoots EMPs at people.' And Tony, I mean, his face lights up like it's Christmas. Three hours later I've got a full set of twenty-six of these things, and he says, 'All that's left is to decide what you want to say to the guy.'"


The bike is left but any firearms on it were taken with him…not to mention whatever he had on him. The magnets were brushed off and stepped upon, but they did their damage. Falcon is now down to 22 letters.

The Winter Soldier isn't by his bike…he's not going to play that easy to get. "What the hell do you want?" is finally demanded from somewhere among the trees. His pistol is out in his right hand…his left arm still stymied by the disruption to their hardware. That's going to mean he's going to have to return to base now for repairs. That does not make him very happy.


"Hey, man, you're the one who showed up at my office with a sniper rifle," Sam points out. "I just want to make sure you won't be doing that to anyone else." His own pistol is drawn, and he's making his way forward in fits and starts, using larger trees as protection and dashing from cover to cover. The problem is that the confusion of the forest is giving his own tracking systems trouble: the heat variance and insulation of the foliage and tree trunks is making Winter Soldier harder to track with his scanners.

Fortunately, there's an alternative. Forests are full of trees; trees are full of birds. Songbirds who go quiet when they detect nearby predators; birds of prey whose attention to the movements of creatures on land is unbreaking. They can't give Sam an exact fix, but a general direction to follow in? Without a doubt.


"You're not the one I was targeting," although he is now. Winter Soldier keeps moving, familiar with forested areas as well as urban ones. It's what happens when one is trained in the wilds of Russia. All the tech, however, is not as expected or welcomed.

The whole idea of using birds though, is clever in its own Hitchcockian way. "Fly away and you won't get hurt. You are not my target," is repeated. He's not really much for making small-talk but at least there's more conversation than before.

And there was pizza. It might be nearing time for some reprogramming.


"I'm not in this business to protect myself. Besides, I'm not the one who should be worried," Falcon answers. "Think for a second. You're in the middle of nowhere. You've got one dead-weight arm, which means no wheels, and you're handicapped in a fight. I've planned this ambush out, I've got backup if I need it, and I can just fly away if I get in over my head." Sam finishes his assessment of the situation with a flat, forceful, "There's no way you win this. Your only workable option is guns down, hands up."


"And then what?" is asked. Not that he's going to show himself, but things are never so cut and dry. This may be 'Check' but there are other moves he can make. Dark eyes glance about as if searching for any indication of the aforementioned 'backup'. He's not appreciative of the attention but neither does he want to be captured.

Something tells him that just wouldn't bode well.

Not one for the chit-chat, he merely lifts his pistol and fires at Falcon. It reveals his position, but that's easy to change.


"And then, I—" Falcon ducks back into cover as the first shot rings out, close enough to part his hair if it were longer. A moment later, he leans forward just far enough to return fire: four tightly grouped shots loaded with dendrotoxin. "And THEN," he shouts grouchily, "I turn you over to the Avengers. Maybe Cap can decide what to do with you."

Normally, he would go with SHIELD, since they were the target, but given what he knows about the maneuvering behind the scenes there, it's possible that the Soldier's attempted kill was one faction targeting the other. He's not going to risk delivering the assassin back to his employers and getting off scott free, and he knows damn well that won't be a problem with the independent hero group.

"So your choices are surrender and live to fight another day, or get your ass kicked and then end up in the same situation." Falcon seems confident of the outcome, but far from confident in the Winter Soldier's response; he has already deployed his wings into a protective shield in case of a renewed counterattack.


Winter Soldier is using the trees as cover; it's a familiar territory-type even if this particular area isn't as well known to him. He slowly and quietly moves through the trees, glancing off towards Falcon as he gives him an answer that he isn't really fond of.

The needles fly close but a little wide of making contact and no fire is returned. Yet. The options offered don't really seem appealing and while he's at a handicap, he's not down yet. So slowly, so slowly, and as stealthy as he can be, he begins to retrace his way to the bike. No shots are fired back and he tries to stick to shadows and stay behind tree-trunks.

He still isn't aware, however, of Sam's affinity to birds.


The bird thing is not something the enemy expects, and that's exactly why it's the sort of advantage worth having. Sam picks up on the Soldier's shift in approach just a little while after the man makes it. He stops, then starts retracing his own steps. He's a little closer to the vehicle than Bucky, so he won't have to take the same circuitous route, which will give him just long enough to set up a bit of an ambush.

So long as the Winter Soldier doesn't detect his own change in direction, that is. After the air, Falcon is most experienced in urban and desert environments. The Air Force doesn't let you into pararescue without training you for all sorts of terrain, but his forest expertise is limited to that training and a few isolated operations (ironically, in the sort of decrepit secret Soviet facility the Winter Soldier might find very familiar).

Whether or not he's rumbled, Sam will keep his ICER up, while retrieving a compact flashbang from one of his harness compartments. Time to prepare that ambush.


The thing is, with Winter Solder's training, he's always expecting an ambush. He never gets to sit back and relax with a job…there is always that raise of his hackles as if something will always happen that requires multiple plans of action.

This is one of those times.

While he doesn't know about the birds, he knows that this one flies. Dark eyes look up at the treetops for a moment before turning in the direction of where he left his bike. It may work, it may not, but he's nearing the end of his bag of tricks.

Shots are fired into the trees. They aren't meant to hit anything, but instead to scare away the birds that were perched there. Maybe force them to swoop closer to where Falcon may be hiding…to cause some sort of distraction even as he makes a run for the bike in the moderate chaos.


Yeah, that's going to effectively deaden Falcon's situational sense for several minutes as the scattering birds' messages get very one-note. Yes, I get it, birbs. You heard a loud noise.

Still, loud noises can cut both ways. Rearing back, Falcon puts all of his upper body strength into a throw, launching his flashbang at his target's last known location. Less than a second later, he's sprinting in the same direction: no subtlety, no tricks, just an all-out chase to try to force a confrontation. If the Soldier's arm is still deadened, Sam will at least stand a fighting chance.

And, of course, as he runs, he has his ICER up and ready to fire at any targets of opportunity.


With all the technology the two hold and wear and it comes down to a race. The Winter Soldier is fast, but not supernaturally so. The other may get to the area with the bike just a hair ahead of him, but it means he's just going to continue to push through and try to ram the other to the ground.

He wanted a confrontation, he's got it.

There's a twitch of his left arm as the circuits repair themselves to make it functional, if not entirely operational — no EMP pulses or electrical emissions but he's able to use it. Oddly enough, perhaps, he's trying to pull the ICER away from the other…no more alphabet magnets! As long as he has his arm, he should be able to make his escape.


Falcon willingly collides with his opponent, shifting his weight slightly so that instead of driving him to the ground beneath the Winter Soldier, the tackle sends both men down onto their sides. He fires his sidearm just as his enemy's robotic arm knocks his aim wide, the toxin-loaded projectile embedding in a tree trunk a dozen meters away. With both of them down a hand as they wrestle over the pistol, Sam sends his opposite elbow upward toward his enemy's jaw. Jetpack, grapples, and gadgets aside, the man has never been afraid of a straight fight.


Winter Soldier lifts his right hand with the pistol in it to try and bash the other's head with it even as he's clocked in the jaw by an elbow. Even as he shakes off the hit, his left hand moves to try and pin down the hand holding the toxin-loaded gun…if anything, he wants to get that out of play. His right hand lifts again to try and plant the butt of the pistol into the other's face.

He's nothing if not persistant.

If it's a brawl Falcon wants, it's a brawl he'll get. The thing is, Winter Soldier doesn't seem to be looking to actually kill the other; he merely wants to disable him long enough to get away again.


Falcon ducks his head aside as the pistol butt whips toward him, but his mobility is limited lying on his side. The blow glances off his headset, but still hits hard enough to make his vision swim. He grits his teeth and lets go of the ICER, using that freed hand to ward off the second pistol blow, then half-rolls away and hits his flight pack's primary thruster. The trees are hemming him in too much for full winged flight, but a split second blast from the jetpack is enough to launch him into the air and away from the Soldier. His wings again deploy into a shielding pose, and he draws his offhand ICER, spinning to lay down cover fire as his boots hit the ground.


Even as Falcon uses his flight thrusters to get away from him, Winter Soldier lunges for the bike. That's all he wants…to get away. A couple of the toxin-laced projectiles hit his metal arm and another scrapes the back of his leather jacket, but none embed into his skin that can be seen. He fires back from his pistol a couple of times, mostly as a distraction as he jumps onto the bike and starts it up.

This one was a little too close for his comfort. A report will have to be made back to his superiors.


Sam's wings deflect the return fire much as Bucky's arm does; neither combatant is able to get a decisive hit. Within moments, the dirt kicked up as the bike skids away blocks Falcon's vision, and his winged friends are still in too much of a tizzy to be of any help. With a frustrated growl, the Avenger lowers his sidearm: it looks like this assassin has gotten away for the second time.

Still, the encounter isn't a complete loss. By taking his opponent by surprise, Sam managed to get a very good look at him. A good look and, thanks to the strategic use of his recon systems, even better footage. Within hours, he'll have the assassin's face, capabilities, and last known location shared with trusted members of at least three superhero teams.

"Yeah, go ahead and run," Sam mutters, irritated but determined. "I wasn't kidding about calling in backup."

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