Thought and Memory

December 19, 2016:

The Winter Soldier homes in on his target: a man he has been pursuing for some time, who he suspects holds the key to finding Gottfried Muller. Others are on his tail, however, with mixed motives for why they wish to catch up with him…

Gotham City


NPCs: Robert Carter


Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

It wasn't long before Rob Carter tried to make his escape. He was cautious, but not cautious enough. Others knew. Some on his side, and some weren't. Truth be told, he had no idea how many friends or enemies he had, but as he pushed his rental car down the highway, careening towards the airport at high speed, he really didn't care.

Sweat bit at the wrinkles in his brow, eyes cast to his phone in the seat beside him, and the narrative of it's navigation guiding him through the thick of downtown Gotham.


A traffic jam. Rerouting. The exit takes him through the city and stead of around it, and his mind races as to what caused the jam. An accident. Just his luck.

Sure it was luck.

It was a furious pace that The Devil matched when she left behind her interim ride for something heading in the direction of her rapidly changing quarry. "He might try another way, cut him off!" It wasn't often she worked with a partner, but now that she was alone again she clutched the small duffle bag at her back and reached to some of the new fixings on her arm-guards. The wind whipped her face, and she pulled on dark goggles, securing them in place as she road the back of the dump truck onto the sprawling street between downtown Gotham buildings.


An accident, ostensibly, cuts Carter off from the safer, faster route to the airport that skirts the edges of the city. There actually is one, too: a mild three-car accident caused by one vehicle skidding into two others. But the word is a little misleading.

There are no accidents where the Winter Soldier is concerned.

The jam is calculated to force Carter down a semi-major thoroughfare of Gotham, one way only, three lanes wide. High rises rear up on either side, forming the walls of one great big funnel that shunts traffic along like blood flowing through an artery. And there's plenty of traffic, even though it's ungodly early in the morning; this is the main route most people on their way out of Gotham take.

All in all, it's just another early weekday morning for Gotham. Up until a shadow detaches from the face of one of those venerable old buildings, racing down the decorative face with its many convenient handholds… and pushing away, in a massive catamount leap, to land down squarely on the roof of Carter's car.

Predictably, the car's occupant immediately hits the gas in pantshitting panic, so hard and so fast that it fishtails a little as it bolts down the street. The individual on the roof, sunk into a deep stabilizing crouch, doesn't seem to care, holding on blithely as he inspects the vehicle beneath him the way a cat would, looking for the fastest way to unzip a mouse with its claws.


There are no accidents where Winter is concerned.

Nor are there any where the Batman is involved.

"I'm already here," Batman gravels into his headset. "He's on Fifth. Get here," he adds. A rare, precious device lodged in Azrael's ear— a Bat-Signal carrier— relays his voice to her.

The Batman seems to have anticipated the attempt to funnel the feeling man away from the more direct thoroughfares. After all, it makes sense— the direct path is swifter, safer, more lanes, more heavily patrolled by the police. Visiblity and poor access means that the only assault viable is a vehicular one, on the highway.

Batman eyes the angles. Watches the way the traffic moves and starts. Carter accelerates— this will require a few more degrees of lead, the grapnel in his hand shifting his elevation slightly to accomodate the increased speed.

Batman flings himself off the roofs with a daredevil's fearlessness, the grapnel singing out across the Gotham sky to *clack* into a fire escape, and he turns it into a full-forced swing that's aimed at taking Winter Soldier's blindside with a tremendous two-footed kick, at the very bottom of that pendulum arc.


"That's right! I work with BATMAN!" She screams at the driver of the truck she's now on the side of, and the man, wearing a full-fledged Batman Fan Club hat, looks at her with wide, saucer eyes.

From there on out it's not hard to get him to help out. And help he does. Carter's car begins to swerve and spin out only moments after Batman swings in, but assuredly the caped crusader can adjust to the dump truck suddenly cutting off Carter, his car forced into an abrupt spot.

Then The Dark Devil slams into the hood of the car, grabbing hold as much she can as it finally twists into a circle and comes to a stop.


Carter hears the command, but he can't comply just yet, still jostled by the sudden stop. But it may occur to the Winter Soldier - he wasn't the only one who set a trap tonight, however unintentional.


There is a moment of contemplation from the Winter Soldier, as he sways atop the car roof. Then he slams his left hand straight through the metal, fingers closing down in the ruined material like a vise.

Somewhere in there, his senses warn him about something. In his peripherals, he notices something streaking across the sky, hears a grapnel click into place. He shoots a glance over his shoulder and his mind immediately calculates the angle of that swing, the inevitable parabolic arc that the incoming Batman will take.

Gravity is a great aid to force, but there's still only so fast a man can fall.

A massive wrench of the Soldier's left arm rips up the car roof like paper, stripping up a roughly rectangular piece of the roof, and with a singing shriek of the machinery of his arm, he hurls it full force through the air like a particularly poorly-made discus, edge-on at the grapnel cord holding the Batman aloft.

He repositions like a spider atop the car afterwards anyway, sliding out of the kick trajectory and slipping alongside the hole he's made to try to reach in and pull out the prized contents. He leans forward towards the frozen man in the driver's seat—

—and nearly loses his balance when a truck suddenly cuts off Carter's car. A snarl escapes him, mostly muffled by the heavy face mask, and as the Dark Devil makes her arrival on the hood of the car he twists, throws his weight into the classic twist of a lifetime boxer, and pistonfires his left fist straight at her face.


Some might panic and let go of the grapnel. Others might simply gape in shock and hang on through disaster.

Batman waits until the groaning tension of the improvised discus counters his momentum on the grapnel, and at the last possible second as his momentum turns more upwards, he releases the grapnel and flies into the air. His cloak flares and he lands heavily on the hood of the car behind him, his knees flexing to absorbe the impact (though he'll surely feel it in the morning).

And just for good measure, his cloak streaming behind him, Batman flings a Batarang at Winter's left arm. A beeping blue LED flickers twice and then the Batarang explodes with a static chatter, electricity sparkling from it. Seems he came better prepared for round 2.


The Dark Devil was ready to take it. She deserved it for making herself such a target, but she lacks the tools or refinement yet to make an entrance like The Batman. When she kicks up the fist is already flying, and her eyes go wide behind her goggles and she grits her teeth behind the collar-mask she's pulled up from her neck, only to see the Batarang land.

Time to do this. Her meeting with Zatanna had given her clarity and focus she could not hope to summon on her own, and when she rushes into the failing arm she uses Soldier's forward momentum and her own charge to barrel an arm around his neck and add her weight to the destabilizing rock of the suddenly still car.

When they go tumbling, it'll be in a roll, an elbow dislodging the Batarang (fuck), but when she comes to a stop she tosses something point blank into Soldier's face - aiming more for the throat/chin area, to ensure she doesn't fuck /this/ up.

It's a pink, plastic egg. You know, the kind that get given to kids on Easter and contain all kinds of goodies. This one flies apart mid-fling, and a spray of white and red powder - talcum and cayenne pepper - suddenly clouds the air.

She couldn't do anything about his mask, so it won't get drawn into the Soldier's lungs, but it's the kind of shit that will stick to any little moist crevice it finds.

Dollar store Bat-gear is the best Bat-gear.


The flung Batarang does its work. The Winter Soldier's eyes go wide in mingled surprise and rage when he feels it suddenly fail, its abruptly-altered momentum carrying him farther forward than he intended. The Devil presses her advantage, lunging forward to latch around his neck and use his momentum against him in a roll that takes them off the car.

Much to Carter's relief. He struggles out of the vehicle and starts to run, even through traffic (though it's mostly stopped by now). He's not sticking around for this shit.

The Soldier skids and rolls to a stop, eventually twisting to get his feet under him and settling into a low crouch. His left arm spasms a little, still shaking off the residual effects of the Batarang. His head swings to the Dark Devil… only to find an egg flying at his face.

His eyes express, very eloquently, a moment of pure what the fuck.

Then it flies open. He reflexively shuts his eyes, but even a little bit is enough to briefly debilitate. And EXTREMELY ANNOY.

The Winter Soldier still makes no sound. He is mute as his muzzle of a mask suggests. But furious rage is evident in every line of him when, operating off sharpened senses and honed spatial combat memory, he snaps out his left arm, seizes for the Dark Devil, and— if he gets a good scruffing grip on her— swings around and flings her, all of her, full force directly at the Batman in a makeshift projectile.


Batman is in mid-leap at Winter when Dark Devil is flung at him— catlike, less than batlike, he rolls in midair and accepts the brunt of her impact across as much of his chest as possible to spread out the force of their collision. His legs fly ahead of him to counteract the mass and the two of them go down in a heap, Batman on the bottom and putting his armored frame between Devil and the ground.

With only one arm free and less than a second to act, he grabs at his belt and flings a handful of explosive pellets at Winter. At more moderate ranges, they're excellent firecrackers and distractors— up close, it's akin to a series of gunshots inches from the face, loud and asymmetrically disorienting.

"Up!" Batman barks at Dark Devil, shoving her bodily out of harm's way with his other hand.



The Devil becomes a projectile, and grits her teeth as bones bruise and her tiny frame slams into the living legend.

To say The Dark Devil is not used to working with others is an understatement, but when the barked order comes she does /exactly/ as The Batman says. He'll feel her grab a grapple from his belt - one of many, and when the line flies she shoots into the air. And right toward the side of a building

"HOLY FUCK." Really, these take more practice than first glance might suggest, but that she can at all adjust is a miracle in action, turning momentum into a weapon, feet slamming against the wall to redirect her and then she lets go.

She hangs - impossibly high, but her resolve is iron, and as the dust from explosive pellets begin to clear, she'll slam into The Winter Soldier's back as a sudden, hanging weight, legs sinking into his sides, momentum rocking him forward - but she's counting on that iron, super-soldier core to stop her. She knows to that the arm is coming. She's been at the end of it so long she almost considers it foreplay.

Hands reach back to the dufflebag, to the holes cut in either side, and perhaps to the horror of the caped crusader, the paddles of a defibrillator appear. "I meant it last time, even if he didn't, /Bucky/. I'm with you till the end of the line."


The sound of the paddles discharging against the side of Bucky's head (your poor, beautiful hair!), will be followed by a puff of ozone, and though it is nothing like the shocking torture he receives oh so often, it might, maybe, be enough to bring something of him back.


The Winter Soldier is still working off the effects of the cayenne as Batman and Dark Devil go down in a heap. With a grunt, he reaches for the front driver's door of the car that is still nearby, shearing it free from the vehicle's body to serve as a rudimentary shield in this moment of vulnerability.

He hears the sound of more projectiles flying through the air, and blindly he snaps that door up to block. It gets some; others explode above and around him, loud as gunshots. They disorient, but the Soldier has lived his life— both his natural life and his forced life— in the sound of gunfire.

They disorient just long enough, however, that he doesn't get around to questioning just where the other combatant went during this time.

His head snaps to one side only in time for him to brace for her impact with his back. As she predicted, his wide stance stops her dead, slaughtering her momentum down to zero within seconds. He reaches back, contemptuous, ready to pull her free and break her back on the concrete—

—and electric agony races suddenly through his head.

The Soldier makes his first sound. An awful, strangled shriek escapes him, a subhuman sound, the sound of someone tortured repeatedly beyond all endurance. A sound completely out of proportion with the actual amount of pain shock paddles should inflict. He shakes, convulses, then collapses under her to hands and knees.


Batman kips to his feet and rushes forward, flicking something into his palm. He sweeps his cloak back behimd him, eyes invisible and implacable, and the other hand sweeps up with a small dart projector concealed in his left hand.

"Clear!" he barks at Dark Devil— and the tazer flickers outwards with two crackling arcs aimed at Winter. Unlike typical probes, this device contains two slightly self-automated burrowing claps, which clamp onto cloth and send inch-long probes burrowing towards human skin. A bit inhumane compared to the 1/4" of penetration authorized by police tazers— but damned effective, and at a nerve-shattering asymmetry of voltage and frequency.

The Dark Devil rocks as Bucky does, and even as the Soldier falls to his knees, the Devil rolls off, her bag dropping away as barbed streamers fly towards the Winter Soldier. The only reason she shocked him is she knew he could take it, and his anguish, as she watches, reminds her of when she closes her eyes at night.

Her bag falls, revealing one last toy she brought with her to give her some kind of fighting chance - because she suspects all the electric shocks in the world, all the well placed punches and kicks, won't put him out.

In her hand is a lead pipe, about two feet in length.


She wades in right after Batman's attack goes off, swinging with every last ounce of her might. To Batman, it might seem callous, even dangerous. But she /knows/. She's /seen/. He can take it. No matter where that pipe hits, arm or head or glorious, well defined shoulders with all their rippling musculature and all that - the pipe is likely to end up bent or broken.

"And this is the end of the fucking line!"


If the shock paddles weren't already enough, the taser on top of it is the final key in the lock. The Soldier locks up, shaking, so rigid that while the swung pipe buckles him to the ground… when the Devil draws it back, it'll have a distinct kink in its middle, the steel warped.

"You keep saying that," he says, voice throttled by the shocks, stifled by the mask, but still clear. Clear as slurred, mumbled words dredged up from the mud of a smothered mind can be, anyway. "You keep saying that phrase."

His right hand drags, sliding across the ground… then reaching for his side. On his hands and knees, the Winter Soldier quickdraws. .45 caliber at point blank range, aimed straight up dead center of mass at Azalea as she stands in close.

His eyes are momentarily perfectly clear, with deadly cognizance. "It isn't for you to say. It's for someone else."

He pulls the trigger.


Batman's finger curls on the igniter coil for the tazer— but even he's underestimated the Winter Soldier's immense resilience and toughness, enough to overcome even the debilitating shockwaves crashing through his system. Batman turns the shock dial up to the maximum rating, enough to potentially cause serious bruising to the heart— but it's all a bit too late as that gunshot rings out, produced somehow in the middle of those thrashing convulsions.

He can only watch as the finger curls on the nearly-hidden trigger, the angle of Winter's shoulders betaying his point of aim more than anything else.


She glances at her weapon. Bent. Broken. Then at Bucky. Also bent. He's not broken though. The gun swings into view and with her goggles dislodged and hanging around her neck she can meet his gaze.

The Devil Inside knows. He's going to kill her. She can see the tension run up his flesh and blood arm, even as electricity forces it to shake. She knows the resolve he has - she's seen it.

Time slows.

Her arm moves as the gun sounds, and Azalea Kingston recoils and spins, hitting the hood of another car - abandoned in the chaos of this battle - and careening over it, until finally she hits the pavement on the other side. She's not moving.

Then, there were two.


The shot rings out. At this close a range, even with the horrible convulsions spasming his arm, his hand, his entire body, it would be extremely hard to miss.

The gun falls from his hand immediately afterwards as the Batman spins the dial to maximum. The pain crests and breaks past into something even supersoldiers can no longer endure or ignore. The Soldier scrabbles frantically at his clothing, searching for the probes that have gone from hampering to agonizing, ripping them free before they can reduce him to complete immobility.

The sound of electricity fades, and with it that one brief moment of clarity where he could almost, almost see to that dark spot at the back of his mind that he can never touch— never approach—

Wounded, his focus narrows down to one single imperative: escape. He has given away enough already. His first encounter with the Batman was kept short for a reason, the breadth of his capabilities hidden precisely to cover for situations like this. Now he will not have that advantage a second time.

He spins, still low to the ground, and rams a heel into the ravaged car beside him. The violent kick propels the entire thing across the concrete, tires skidding, on a trajectory straight towards the car over which Azalea vanished.

They collide. Momentum transfers. And that second car rolls towards her unconscious body.

Immediately, the Soldier turns and struggles to his feet, limping, trotting, then striding into flight. Zero to thirty in seconds as his preternaturally conditioned body gets its shit back together. As always, the savage pragmatist: threatening helpless life to cover his needed retreats.


Batman whips a bola at Winter's legs. It's a shot on the run, blind, not even looking. More out of a desire to at least hamper Winter a little, hedging his bets.

He dashes towards Dark Devil, skidding on his kneepads, and comes up in a low squat just as the car teeters over and starts to roll onto her.

He grits his teeth and shouts— a fierce 'HAH!' of focused martial exertion, legs tensing and shaking as the car rolls. Perhaps it's physics, perhaps it's leverage— perhaps Batman really is the superhuman so many think he is.

But for a moment, he absolutely stops the car from rolling over Dark Devil. It takes precious seconds to stop it, however, and gives Winter ample time to make his escape, and with Batman pushing the car aside so he can kneel over Dark Devil and start applying emergency trauma aid.

Winter Soldier escapes with a limp into the shadows, carrying nothing but the scars of their meeting—

—and a tiny tracking device, self-motivating, hidden under one of the dermal plates of his left arm and implanted under the cover of that first electrical strike.

Batman leaves nothing to chance, stooping down to then make sure he can preserve Dark Devil's life.


When The Batman rolls her over he will find a shatter lead pipe, one that spills from her grasp as she struggles with a choked grasp. He should see blood. Should see gouts of it. The way she's breathing, he might expect it. But then he'll see the round - imbedded in the steel of her armguard after having traveled through a couple inches and two layers of lead. Her arm might be broken beneath, but somehow she did the impossible.

Time rewinds in the mind's eye. She looked The Winter Soldier in the eyes. Saw him tense, saw his aim. Reacted.

Few humans can read someone like that, and tomorrow when she wakes up, she'll have to grudgingly thank The Devil. "Dad?"

She says it in a daze, then blinks, reaching up to hold the back of her head. Fortunately, she's to out of it for follow-up questions.

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