January 21, 2017:

NPC assistance from Jane Foster. The Guardians of the Galaxy and their errant friends find the Milano abruptly under assault by the Winter Soldier and his forces. But for what reason—!

Outskirts of Gotham City

A national park near Gotham.


NPCs: An Extremely Beautiful Hydra Operative

Mentions: Jane Foster


Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

The Milano is a fine ship. Its a wonderful ship. It is Peter Quill's pride and joy. Massive engines. Rapid fire cannons. A slim and beautiful profile. Shields and armor enough to stop more than one direct hit. It is the beautiful culmination of a decade of the Reavers shipwrights.

…it also has a /totally/ sweet sound system and can hack Netflix. That just puts it over the edge.

What it also does however, is stick out like a sore thumb on a planet devoid of spaceships. Which is why Peter Quill, brilliant commander of the Guardians of the Galaxy(and friends) has decided to hide it outside of town. Near the edge of a lovely national park, under various camoflauge nets and optical cloaking devices.

No one would look for a space ship in the middle of nature right? Right.

Nearby the cloaked ship sits…well what looks very much like a wrecked ship. Cause it is. The remains of the stripped Saskarian vessel slowly rust in the sun under its own camoflauge.

Flying around with these things might explain 'UFO' sightings around the park, but who would ever want pictures of those. Right?

Having bribed a few people with food and promises of totally sweet tunes, possibily beer, and a look at an actual spaceship he's managed to assemble a bit of a team to finish tearing apart the Saskarian ship and load the salvage onto his ship.

…at least that was the plan.

Netflix might have distracted some people. Weapons might have distracted others. Just chillin' and taking a break, thats important too. So in general its a lazy day around the Milano.

Quill himself is sitting ontop of the ship, in what seems to be a beach chair. Shades on to hold back the rays of the setting sun with a beer in his hand. Tinkering with some kind of piece of equipment.

"Anything on the sensors guys?" He wants to make sure the cammo is all finished before there is a flyby or anything.


Inside, Rocket has deemed that there's more important things to do than tug giant ridiculously huge and sadly decorated fishnets to disguise the blazing yellow and blue hull of their ship. Those cloaking devices should work all right, at least unless something decides that the deceptively empty space might look like a prime spot for a picnic. Or another ship to land. Which would be pretty funny. Rocket would think so, at least.

But yes, back to inside.

INSIDE is where the important stuff is happening. He's already made a thorough sweep of the Saskarian ship and taken apart everything he could manage to that looked promising and salvageable, and in his little corner of the Milano, he's gone to work. There are crates spilling over with parts from hoverboards, weapons and the innards of computers and panels. In fact, you can hardly see the crates that are supposed to hold things. There are another set of crates, these of which are a bit neater because they still have space to be filled, and that which does occupy it thus far is full of various explosives and gadgetry that the Guardian's resident engineer and weapons specialist has put together. He's even been thoughtful enough to label a few with duct tape and Sharpie.

The most considerable piece of equipment that occupies the floorspace is what remains of the Saskarian's main ship cannon. It had to be cut down due to certain boulder damage, but Rocket's been positive that he could get the thing to work again. He's draped over the connector paneling, tugging on wires and things trying to see what's fried and what's not.

"-what'd he say?" he asks, an ear twitching as he catches something from the comm speakers.


This has been an amazing few weeks. Sure she'd been blinded recently and they're still working on permanently fixing that (the doctor had said something about benzene, or benzine or been scene or whatever), but she's been able to use a workaround and she's getting good work done on a special order for that nice Steve Rogers guy and nobody has tried to stab her in like at least a week.

Also she's hanging out with her friends who happen to be aliens (and a Star Boss) and thus don't care that she's a mutie. So she gets to use her powers in front of other people, and it's fun!

Hikari has a little speaker attached to her phone, because she doesn't know how to hook it into the Milano's sound system and is pretty sure that if she gives it to Rocket she'll never get it back. What she has playing is mostly cheerful instrumental stuff, occasionally a chorus that sounds kind of like Latin but isn't. She basically dumped her entire Yuki Kajiura folder into a playlist and let it go nuts.

And since Rocket is busy, Quill is busy too, and Groot is Groot, she's taking a break and dancing to it. "Hmm? Something about the monitors, I think?" she shrugs, pausing in the middle of what she thinks a pirouette is supposed to be. "Like radar?"


Netflix binges shouldn't have become a pasttime for the tree, but…they have. Lockheed's introduction to the world of intermedia streaming is like a drug. Almost. One thing's for sure — Groot has gone through as many different genres as one can possibly go through if curiosity and interest work in tandem with one another.

While Rocket is tinkering away with canons and Hikari is getting down to some choice music, Groot is currently…asleep. During another episode of some kind of cupcake war. And this is after finishing a few episodes of a princess-related show for little girls. His snore is like a chainsaw set on low, rooted into place so that he won't go tipping foward.

"I am Groot," he mutters under a breath. Sleep talking. Who knew?


As the state of Jessica's bank account got ever more dire she was hired to go find one Azalea Kingston. She'd disliked Kingston's parents enough to triple the deposit, but had gone to find her anyway, namely cause she'd recognized the girl from the gala and was duly intrigued. Besides, if she could get Kingston to write her parents an 'Eff off, I'm fine, I just don't want to see you' letter she could still get paid for the work.

One visit to a club later and one long conversation later, the two are actually traveling up the Interstate in a rental car that would later get gleefully billed under 'expenses.' Jessica has no driver's license, so she sat in the passenger's seat as they went whipping back towards New York City. They're coming up on the state park now. She has this crazy, crazy notion they're just going to drive right past it, that nothing at all eventful will happen, that she and Azalea would just sort of pass it by, ships in the night, some woods forgotten in a heartbeat, on to more pressing business in New York.

Capacity for self-delusion…high.


It was supposed to be one of those perfect kind of nights. The kind where you slip out of your skin that doesn't fit so well anymore, and look for a /different/ kind of violence. Turns out, even when The Dark Devil is trying to do something wrong, she just can't get it right, and immediately swears she's going to start using that stupid iDol app, instead of her current means to an end.

"Look, I'm sorry."

The silence had been golden up until that point, and mostly Azalea had not really mentioned how Jess and her had first encountered each other. It was the conversation afterward that had changed the trajectory of her evening, and one change of clothes later - into her /work/ clothes - they were headed to New York.

"You're tall, it's kindof my thing, and in that kind of place there's just-" Her teeth grit, and as the better angel of her very human soul struggles, the darker nature of the creature she carries on top of it mocks her discomfort and dances on her in it's displeasure. It did not get out to play tonight. Such a pity, things were looking and feeling /so/ very good.

"-they don't really care if you introduce yourself like that. It's like an unwritten rule." She stops and starts her sentence a few times, glancing at Jessica as she tries to apologize, tries to explain, and her fingers tighten on the wheel, eyes narrowing on a sign announcing the park they'd soon pass by.


It is a quiet night. A lovely night. A night of peace, here on the fringes of the national park where the Milano is stashed.

Except for a slight tremoring that starts to vibrate through the earth. Is it an earthquake?

Something dark moves in the trees. It is boxy and rectangular. It's hard to see in the darkness… up until a cracking BOOM and the mother of all muzzle flashes lights up the figure of a TANK trundling through the woods. Its shot of blue, crackling energy spears through the air and towards the Milano: a disabling shot meant to shut down whatever of the ship's electronics systems might be running. In essence, to prevent flight.

There seem to be people also, armed individuals moving alongside the tank, but it is hard to see amidst the afterimages of that brilliant energy.

From a short distance back and off to the right of the frontliners, his dark figure lost in the shadows between trees, the Winter Soldier checks his weaponry with complete dispassion. He glances to his right, at his accompaniment for the evening.

<Make chaos,> he instructs in brief German, his voice mostly obscured by the full mask that has returned to his face. The red lenses of its eyepiece catch the sparse light. <I will get what we need.>


"Jawohl," replies said accompaniment, dressed similarly in black, tall and lean-edged and masked with infrared lenses that refract distant light. With a sharp, formal salute, outstretched arm retracting in to lay its open palm over its heart. The figure backsteps and soon seams with the darkness, weaving among the trees adjacent to the approaching tank.


The movement in the trees gets Peter's attention being on the outside of the ship. His eyes narrow, the moving trees and the noise. The sudden quiet of the forest around them. "…hey guys…" This time over the intercom. "…we got co—"

And the next word is ripped from him as the burst of electrical energy slams into the Milano.

Thrown from his perch, Peter lands rolling across the grass though he's up on his feet within seconds of landing. "ROCKET! GROOT! WE GOT COMPANY!" This shouted into the comlink that echos over the ship.

EMP blast to knock out the ship. Which means they want the ship.

Oh. Hell. No.

Thats their house.

The pistols appear in his hands as if by magic, and he slams his armor into place. The red lenses cut though the gathering darkness, picking out the massive shilloutte of the tank and the approaching figures. Readouts snap into place around the periphery of his vision. Projectile weapons?

…not Saskarians.

But personally Peter doesn't care.

"They have a tank." He adds under his breath. Then he raises his voice as he begins to sprint back towards his ship. "Rocket they have a tank!" A pause. "And they are attacking /my ship/." There is a vicious grin behind his mask. "Party is on."

Which means. Bring whatever he damn well likes to the party. Rocket is off the chain.

For all the fact that Star-lord is most of the time a lazy brodude, well his reaction time to something like this is fantastic. Those men around the tank are going to find themselves under fire /very/ quickly as he levels his blasters and starts fireing…

At a massive tree near them. Intending for it to collapse on them, give his friends time to get themselves up.


Even Hikari can only watch a few episodes of Sophia the First before her brain tries to escape via her ears (the specific number is 'two'). It's such a relief to be able to move freely again, after what that little brat had done to her leg. And the doctor had cleared her for light exercise just yesterday! Gotta keep the muscles in her thigh from tightening too much.

A few minutes later, she becomes increasingly aware of something different. "Hey… did the engines start up or something? The floor's all… rumbly," she finally decides on a fitting word. She crouches down, resting a hand against the floor of the ship. "See, it's—"

The ship rocks and there's a horrible noise. "What's going on?!" she wails, right as Quill yells something about a tank. Oh. Well. That explains it.

It would be safer inside the ship, maybe—! But what if it isn't, and this is where everybody /lives/, and… Hikari finds her fingers clenching nervously in the hem of her shirt. "Okay. We can do this." /She/ can do this. Jamming her feet back into her shoes, Ribbon tightens her ponytail and charges up, up, toward the trees and the night air.

The forest is dark, and she can't see anything beyond the tree line, and she can't concentrate hard enough to fell any of the woods around them (besides, that's park property!!!). Her range isn't that great, but—-! She flicks the fingers of her right hand outward and gleaming ribbons of light burst from the tree branches like glowing confetti, falling all around the tank (and some places that are not around the tank, oops). It fizzles out on contact with the earth, but it ought to give some idea of where everybody is! And maybe it'll surprise the tank enought to make it go away.


Rocket hauls himself upright, squinting at Hikari before he oh's. "Right, that'd be over there- you can check the screen," he says, pointing with a pair of pliers. "Groot was supposed to be watching that but…" He casts a flat-eyed look at the sleeping mound of wood. At his friend's murmurings, the raccoon shakes his head. "I'm not even gonna ask."

He's about to set back to work when he pauses, his ears and tail perking just slightly. What was that sound? There's something slightly different apart from the usual hum of the Milano's systems. About the same time a warning begins to beep on the console up front, Quill's voice speaks up again. Before Rocket can shout anything, the whole ship shudders with the impact of the blast, lights flickering wildly as electronics whine and then abruptly die. The trio is left in darkness.

"Flark, what th- Did you say a /tank/?! /Who/'s got a tank?!" Rocket growls, already moving in the darkness, grabbing his personal comlink from his Pile of Stuff. He grabs a couple of his latest bombs, stuffing them into the pockets of his hoodie before he takes a hold of his blaster rifle and makes for the ramp, kicking Groot as he passes. The lug can sometimes sleep through anything, you can never be sure.

"Groot! We got company! Stick with Hikari!" he shouts, not sure how well the girl'd be able to fend against a tank, but not about to write her off as helpless either. She'd help with the Saskarians, after all.


In his dreams, this princess is the taller princess, black hair and red dress all a-flutter in the breeze. (Although he does appreciate the little Sophia — she's doing her best with the help of princesses past.) She clasps her hands together, sounding distraught. 'Oh, no! Senor Groot, you have to help us! We need to put the stone back into the statue or the sun will never shine again!'
'I am Groot!'
'Yes! That's a brilliant idea! And then we'll rally for our kingdom and our people!' The princess rises up, tying a bandanna around her head and lifting her sceptor high above the crowd. It glows bright. Brighter. 'Now— '


Wait, that's not the princess.

The sudden lack of power and the proverbial snooze bubble pops as Star Lord's voice comes in over the comlink. Black eyes blink rapidly, squinting as he leans forward in his seat. "—I am Groot," he says gruffly, catching Rocket's words fast enough to process some of whatever is going on at the moment. Something not good, obviously, especially when a tank's involved. The roots rip away as he gets to his feet, half-stumbling before catching himself. He lets the tablet clatter off to the side so that he can accompany Hikari-friend properly. "I am Groot!"


"I'm not upset about it anymore, truly. You think that's the first time that's happened on case? Please." Jessica replies to Az. She hated being touched by strangers. She /hated/ it. She'd stiffened right up and had actually shuddered, but…she's not upset about it /now/ at least. Or perhaps the girl's repeated apologiesnot to mention her situationhave made their impact on her crusty black heart, enough to make her want to give the girl some comfort and cut her a break. Now. Her emotional state /at the time/ maybe another matter. "I'm just thinking. As long as we're clear now on the 'I'm straight' thing from now on, we're cool.."

And then. The boom of a tank. Armed individuals moving. And as the car passes by, a flash of /something/ that ignites the private investigator's gut instincts.

She /should/ just avoid interfering. She's not equipped for military anything, and she's not really sure how Az's capabilities would play into it. But instead of saying, 'keep driving,' the words that come out of her mouth are, "Stop the car."


If only she could stop apologizing. One of her worst fears while out flexing Xiunhel's will is that she'd actually hurt someone by doing it - either physically or mentally. She wants to tell her she's clear, her reaction had made it crystal-like even before they'd gotten into the car, but before she replies there's an explosion, and the car makes a sudden right turn.

A thin chain snaps in front of them as she turns into a utility road, towards danger, but when Jess says 'stop', she throws on the breaks.


A mad dash for the backseat and she finds her mask and her gloves with the built in armguards, remembering that her work clothes were still half packed away. "Probably best we don't get this car detonated since, well. Actually. It probably has insurance, right?" She's already getting out. Getting ready. She has no idea that Jess could get them there faster by not-flying.


The men around the tank scatter as the blaster fire begins, their agility and the darkness giving them some advantage. Quill's blaster fire tears down the tree, which starts collapsing…

..and whoever is in the tank swivels up the thing's gun, firing another shot of that blue crackling energy. Whatever it is, it feels… magical, almost. Like raw mystical force. Certainly not traditional electricity. It tears through the trunk, the two halves of the felled tree crashing to either side of the vehicle.

Hikari's flare of glowing lines lights up the forest briefly, giving a clear picture of the tank— crouched menacingly in the dark— and a brief snapshot of about twenty men, hurrying in the dark.

The tank begins to move, ponderously, though it doesn't get closer, per se: it trundles off towards the left, firing periodically at the ship and its defenders, as its on-foot accompaniment provides additional projectile fire from their rifles. All the force of the assault seems to be concentrated from this particular frontal angle, in fact. That's peculiar.

On the other side of the Milano, from the darkness, a figure breaks from the trees and advances towards the ship itself. The Winter Soldier, heavily armed, bearing a strange jarlike object strapped at his belt. It is carved in Germanic runes that gleam dully in the night: Fehu, Gebo, Othala.

The closer he gets to the ship itself, the more strongly those carved runes glow.


"How should I know who these idiots are! I don't keep a list of everyone trying to kill us!" Peter's shout is aimed at Rocket as he goes sliding over the hull of the Milano, shots richocheting off the thick hull in his wake. "Just take that thing out!" He adds as the tank makes short work of the tree. At least its not firing at the Milano again.

That would be bad.

Since he's standing on it.

There is something wrong with that main gun, but Peter doesn't have the time right now to dwell on it. Instead he catches himself on a flared portion of the hull to swing himself back upright.

As he does so his tactical display informs him of someone running towards the Milano. With something in his arms. A bomb? He has no idea. But thats his best guess. Breaching charge.

The angle of attack is too obvious for the rest of this force. All in one direction. They could have surrounded them all, came at them from every direction. But they decided to go with only one vector of attack. Suspicious.

"Take care of them! I spotted a sabatour!" And with that he dives off the hull of the Milano, right into the path of the sprinting Soldier. He lands a few feet away, faceplace angling in the Hydra warriors direction and…

"Wait. Vader?" Now he's confused. "You've gotta new look." A pause. "Or is this an old look?" A longer pause. "Soooooo…how's Jane?"


She only knows how to use her lines. She doesn't have any idea that a frontal assault is usually a distraction. Hikari doesn't play war games, okay, she likes stuff like Candy Crush and Katamari Damacy! This is why Peter Quill is a great, dependable leader!!

"Be careful out there, you guys!" she calls to Rocket and Groot, because Quill has armor and a mask and guns. Rocket is tiny, and Groot is flammable. They need the good wishes more! She steps off of the entrance to the Milano and onto a rope made of light, posture as sure as a trapeze artist's. Unlike a certain wall-crawler, Hikari doesn't need a solid object to attach her lines - just a point in space - and she makes use of that now, swinging out across the open space beneath the canopy, transferring to a new line to swing out over the invaders. That line disappears too, and Ribbon twists around as she falls, landing on her feet on top of the tank.

And then because she knows damn good and well that she doesn't have the strength of will needed to slice through that cannon, she leaps off of the vehicle and into a group of men in strange uniforms. The eye symbol on her blindfold glows faintly, but not nearly as bright as the line she's using like a dull sword, batting at guns and faces alike. Notably, she is not waiting for Groot (because she didn't hear Rocket, oooooooops. He may want to catch up. Or not. Trees gonna tree.)


"On it!" Take down the tank? Sure, that sounds like his kind of thing. Rocket runs up the ramp of the Milano to grab a hoverboard that he's been tweaking, tossing it down and hopping onto it before setting it to fly with a stomp of his foot. He hunkers low against it as he zips through the air, taking potshots at wherever he sees movement from their would-be attackers down below.

"What? Ugh, why'm I not surprised?" he mutters as Quill spots someone else trying to be sneaky. "Groot! Hey, I need you to get back in the ship and slap the button by the hatch! The one with the Christmas tree tape on it!" Hey, the seasonal duct tape was on sale, okay?

He's at least confident that Groot will be able to set that security up just fine. Because right now he is busy trying to maneuver closer to that tank.


Following after Hikari, Groot is very sure he sees the men approaching under the flash of light she yields for a span of time. All returns to shadow soon enough, however, and the girl is off and doing what she does.

Despite how she ended up covered in goop the last time, he's sure Hikari can handle herself. It'll be fine.

The raccoon friend shouts, catching the walking ent's attention and nixing the earlier command of aiding Hikari. With a woody grunt, Groot hustles his butt back into the Milano. Each huge step gets him over to the hatch quicker, gnarled hands slapping down onto the ship's side so that he can look for the right button covered in decorative duct tape.

"I am Groot…I am Groot…"

His finger hovers over each button before finally coming across the telltale pattern of festive Christmas trees. "I am Groot!" he calls out brightly, pushing it in to activate the security system in time.


Yeah, Az is about to be introduced to "not-flying" very soon. As in right now. "Sorry," Jessica says, because this time it's her turn to touch Az without permission.

Hopefully this won't be a recurring theme between them, seriously.

But she wraps her arm around the girl's waist, hoists her up, and leaps so that they appear directly behind the group of soldiers.

When she lets the girl go, she's already in motion. She has her suspicions about what that tank is firing. So she's merciless when she slams her fist into the back of one of the soldiers, hard enough to buckle armor and she hopes put him down; there's a follow up punch for the back of his helmet.

Today, if she kills someone, she does not care. She will grapple with the implications for her own soul later. For now, she feels only righteous anger…and maybe also an awareness these guys have guns and she's jumping in like some sort of moron. That too.

She's already turning to catch a second in the chin as he turns to see what the hell just happened.


And then she could fly. Behind her domino mask her eyes go wide as the air rushes by and a whole new experience, not unlike using a Bat-line for the first time, fills her senses. The battle rages below under the bound, and the Devil braces, even as she tries out a new battlecry. Nah, not really, she's just kindof terrified at /flying/.


They might all hear it before the two women hit the ground, and when Az hits she does so with a roll, a breath sucked in as she pictures the field of battle before her and comes up in a leaping punch that plows into a waiting soldier's jaw. She should keep fighting them, but there's a sprint from the corner of her vision, and her predatory senses kick in. What she sees, that unmistakably perfect hair, and a face mask she's faced down before.

Staring down a guy with red eyes and a trench coat. And strange guns. What the fuck?

"Bucky?" She whispers it, breathless. It nearly costs her in her distraction, a diving roll taking her away from an energy blast before she's up and breaking into a run. From his side, The Winter Soldier will hear that name again, louder.



So, how do you go about finding a super secret global conspiracy of hyper-evil terrorists?

You can do strenuous legwork, spending years, decades, recording and building connections until you've got a wall full of thumb tacks and string like a bonafide conspiracy theorist.

You can have billions of dollars and resources that boggle the mind and commit them all towards prying away the layers of proverbially rotted bark that surround the heart of the organization, because money can do -literally anything-.

You -could- belong to a secret organization of your own that may or may not be infested with that conspiracy, perhaps having intimate knowledge of their workings already through extensive experience.



Orrrrrr you could accidentally stumble upon them while doing something entirely unrelated before even remotely thinking about starting to tackle such a thing because a) you don't want to explain to your Aunt why your room is full of thumbtacks and string, b) you're whatever the opposite of Bruce Wayne is, the anti-rich, whatever, b) everyone has a big 'NO SPIDER-MANS ALLOWED' sign in front of their vast secret organizations.

Because that's basically what's happening now as everyone's Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man comes flying at one Winter Soldier feet first like a speeding, feet-based bullet.


Peter Parker is a man on a mission, and that mission is to find a man with a metal arm and beat him up. Which is harder than you'd think. Shouldn't people with obviously intimidating robot-arms and insidiously fabulous hair be easier to find?

Apparently… not. And at the end of the day, Peter Parker is not much of a detective. And so, he decides to take a short-cut, like a true American, and bum off of someone else's hardwork.

And that's why Spider-Man has currently stuffed himself into the trunk of the car Az and Jessica are currently riding in. His -intention- was to just find the woman, ask her what she knows about the Winter Soldier while trying his -very best- to avoid mentioning the whole Amanda Bynes' magical butthole incident, hopefully not get punched through a wall, and then get tons of information so he can just fast-forward to the part where he fights a Russian cyborg killer like Rocky Balboa.

What was a plot of a Rocky movie, right? He's -sure- there was a robot involved, at least—

He's in there a while now, though, and he's starting to get antsy, because what the hell, what's taking so long, -seriously-, and now it sounds like they're veering off road and suddenly coming to a stop and oh god maybe they noticed him and they're going to cap him in the face like all those mob movies or the Sopranos or that one movie about the hat in the forest—


… is Spider-Man's mighty battle cry as he suddenly kicks open that trunk and springs his way out, hands held high defensively and ready to avoid gangster execution…

… just in time to see Jessica Jones and her pal the Dark Devil sorta-Hulk Hopping their way into the forest.

"… this is the weirdest mob execution, like, ever," he observes lamely as he rubs the back of his head. Yet he hears things in the distance. His spider-sense buzzes. White lenses whirr into a squint.

Without a word, miraculously, Spider-Man leaps after the pair a few seconds later, waiting until he's far enough to reach a tree, web it, and—


—and slinginging himself off a mighty tree branch like Tarzan, this is how Spider-Man comes about impulsively flying himself at Rocky Balboa's Greatest Rival in a blur of furious red and blue.

It's him. It's HIM. Memories flash in Peter's mind. He tries to shut them out. Just focus. Take him down. Don't let this rare moment of good luck go to waste before its spoiled again.



Yep. He can do this.


The armed men around Hikari swing the barrels of their weapons around as she jumps into their midst. They don't see what she's attacking them with at first, not until several of them have been knocked sprawling by the dull line swung at them, but very quickly they get the picture. They try to exit melee range, spreading out to try to avoid Rocket's fire from above— with mixed success— firing on Hikari with their rifles.

They do not expect to be attacked suddenly from behind, by the cavalry of Jessica and Azalea. Jessica puts one of them straight down with a direct hit; Azalea gets another, laying him out in the dirt.

The tank, meantime, seems to sense danger from the flying raccoon. Its gun turns, following Rocket's path in the air, and it attempts to shoot him right out of the sky.

The Winter Soldier halts as Quill lands in his path. His masked face cants a little at the man's confusion. Vader? Quill inquires. "Quill," the assassin replies, matter of fact.

How's Jane? Star-Lord asks awkwardly.

Blue runes flare on Soviet steel. Raidho, Ehwaz, Kenaz. And the Winter Soldier vanishes.

"She's great," the Soldier's voice smiles down from above one second later, up on the hull of the Milano where Quill was standing moments before. His assault rifle is trained down on Quill— or, more accurately, the grenade launcher attached to the rifle. He fires a grenade straight down, followed by a vicious burst from the rifle itself, even as the small jar at his belt glows its runes in the night.

The ship's systems, slowly trying to stutter back to life under Groot's ministrations, falter and fail again. The power core that drives the entire craft begins to complain that its banked energy is being lost. 90 percent. 80 percent…


The Winter Soldier's head turns to the call of his name. The full mask hides any reaction to a familiar face.

"Ah. Azalea. Let me finish what I should have finished a month ago."

Runes flare with glacial blue energy in the night. He winks out of sight, off the ship. The ship's power core stabilizes at 70 percent.

A heartbeat later, the shriek of metal behind her heralds a steel-titanium fist spearing towards her back—

Only for Peter Parker, Spider-Man extraordinaire, to come crashing in, slamming the Winter Soldier ten feet back and into the bole of the nearest tree.

He shakes his head violently, disoriented, before looking up. Presumably, his eyes focus: it is impossible to see them. "Kid," he says. It sounds like a greeting. "Hope you left your naivete at home."

He murmurs something in German, presumably over a comm. The tank swivels its gun and aims straight for the webslinger, firing off a blast of that blue-electricity magic as Parker arcs through the air.


Hikari isn't terribly strong, and she isn't very tough, but she's agile as a dancer and very, very determined to not get shot if she can help it. That counts for something, right? So she ducks and weaves, running between them as they scatter, avoiding Rocket's fire as well as their own. Let them leave melee range… because lines can seperate, and they can connect. The dull line in her hand shifts seamlessly as she sweeps her arm forward, momentum and her will stretching it out into something like a whip. She lashes at them, still running, and—


Huh, Ribbon thinks, slashing at a man's thighs with the end of her line, wasn't that the name of Steve Rogers's childhood friend? She didn't know it'd gotten so popular.

Jessica has a Moment.

Was Bug seriously in the trunk of their rented car for Reasons?

"God damn it, Bug, next time just ask to ride in the back seat. I know that messes with your insect-mystique or whatever, but just try. I have faith in you. I know you can do it!" Caustic sarcasm drips from her tone, frustrated and bemused, because seriously WHAT THE HELL.

But this doesn't stop her from charging on to the next person in the back lines, using the element of surprise. This time she is going to go for hoisting him up and flinging him into his buddies, maybe they'll shoot each other and that would be fine.

She glances at Barnes, perhaps meeting his eyes for one grim moment; but right now there are a /lot/ of soldiers and she feels like it wouldn't be her best move all day to get too focused on the good Sargent. Still, she projects her voice and calls, "Don't kill him, Quill," meaning that for anyone else who is listening too. "This isn't his fault!" The one and only thing she has ever been able to do for Sargeant James Barnes is to be a sort of cheerleader, over and over again, for the idea that his actions are not his own, to say it over and over again in the hopes that he will be believed, because belief is at a premium in these situations.

Az doesn't seem inclined, and she knows Bug isn't, and she guesses Ribbon probably isn't, but she's seen Quill when Quill decides someone's head needs to explode, which means she's going to call that warning, just in case.

Of course, she's all too aware he's happy to kill *them* right now.

She is going to go for hoisting one up and slinging him into his buddies with all due force; maybe they'll shoot each other, maybe some will fall down, maybe a neck will snap.


It's getting pretty busy down there. Bus/ier/, even. Rocket curses as the troops below scatter, hoping Ribbon's got them covered. He's not really sure who all else has joined the party, but he seems pretty resigned to the fact that things like this are just open invitation once someone starts firing at a space ship.

Oh, that reminds him- he looks towards his original intent just in time to see it tracking him before it lets loose with its first shot. He grins horribly, slamming a clawed hand on another panel on the hoverboard he kneels on, the thing surging upwards with a boost. The blast flares past as the raccoon hunkers down on the board, swerving it about to keep it aimed towards the tank. He'll keep at it a few times, mostly to see just how quickly the tank can recaliberate to keep him in its sight. Waiting for the next blast to be loosed, he cuts the boost of his board to let himself drop clear of it before hitting another panel to throttle the hoverboard forward.

All the while counting in his head. He's trying to eat up distance, trying to get closer. Simultaneously he's switched modes on his rifle, loading it with one of the bombs he'd packed.


"Oh great," Peter mutters mostly to himself. "He can do magic now."

This is a new and unfortunate development. The voice from above will cause Peter to throw himself forwards. He knows better to stay still when the man has a rifle. A good thing he does since the crump of a grenade explosion happens just after he leaps. The wave of force throws him further forwards, though the tuck and roll causes him to come up fairly intact. Pushing himself up from one knee he sighs and twirls his pistols before slamming them back at his side.

"Rocket, Vader's arm is magic now. You still want it?" A pause. "Also I'm about to do something really dumb. You just worry about that tank and I'll keep him busy."

Reaching down for the waist he pulls out his most important piece of equipment. His old headphones.

He settles them over his ears as his eyes track the Soldier's movements. One press to the play on the connected walkman and…

The music flows.

The drums start first, then the lyrics start flowing almost imeadeadly.
'When I get high I get high on speed
Top fuel funny car's A drug for me
My heart, my heart
Kick start my heart…'

A grin grows behind his mask as his eyes widen, then he's off like a shot. Right towards the Soldier. Possibily the most dangerous thing on the field. And thats including the tank.

"Hey thats right! Name isn't Vader! Its Bucky!" He twists to the side, almost casually dodging a bullet. "You defintally look more like a Bucky than a Vader. Not that I ever really knew a Bucky. Now I knew a BuckyBuckyMcBuckton. Funny story that…" He's diving then, a hail of weapons fire meating him as he lopes his way up the wing of the Milano. "But he was an alien. You Bucky are defintally a Terran. Like Steve is terran. Did he ever find you? Man that Steve man. He was really looking for you pretty hard. Arn't you two buddies? Bucky and Steve? Forever together and together forever? That sounds like a movie doesn't it? The Grand Advetures of Steve and Bucky! Heroes of the Realm!"

He mercifully stops talking for a little bit. Mostly to dodge and gague his effect on the Winter Soldier.

"Hey its that Spider Guy again! Hey Spider guy! Do you know Bucky too?" He's pointing at Winter Solder as he says it. "He's friends with Steve! And I'm pretty sure he's boneing Jane!" A pause. "Thats Jane Foster! Also known as Princess Science!"

And now he's closing on the Winter Soldier.

He needs something else though. Something else to break though that obvious iron control that Bucky has. Something that can snap though it. Make him mad enough to to forget the mission…

Feeling though his multitude of pockets he comes across something. Something long forgotten. Something that might just do the trick.

"This is so gonna hurt…"

He draws in a deep breath. "I'm not going to kill Bucky! Whose real name is Bucky! And whose best friend Steve goes around in star spangled pajamas!"

He's close enough to leap towards the slightly off balance soldier now. So he sails though the air, no weapons in his hand at all. He's just intending to cannon into the cyborg, knock them both over. As he tumbles to the ground though he comes up to one knee to look towards the masked man.

His faceplate snaps back to reveal that Quill smirk. "First! When you kiss Jane make sure she wears the strawberry lipgloss. Second." And he shoots double finger guns at Bucky. "Those are hers. She might want them back."

…and he's back up again, running away from the Milano.

…because hanging off of the end of the Soldier's gun in a tiny sware of lacy red fabric. A womans thong to be specific. Weather they are Jane's or not might just be immeterial at this point.


"-how is this 'dumb' different from the usual 'dumb'," Rocket can't help but spit over the comlink.


Oh. Uh oh. The numbers on the power core aren't supposed to go down, right?

Groot visibly worries over the system, pushing the duct-taped button over and over again to see if it does anything to stop the drop in power. He's no Rocket, after all; he figures if a button can be pushed to turn something on, it should do the reverse when it's pushed again. That's the basic logic behind it, right??? Once it does stabilize on its own, he sighs a great tree sigh.

…Right. Onto other things. There are still armed men out there in the trees. It wouldn't be right to let Hikari have all the fun.

As Quill runs toward the Milano, Groot tromps away from it with purpose, each step hastening before he rushes toward the closest targets he can make out between the trees. Woe befalls those who are within range of what follows next:

"I!" *Insert punch here* "AM!" *Insert another PUNCH noise here* "GROOOOOT!!!" *ALL THE PUNCHING*


She can feel it. The adrenaline, and not just from her body. From that mystical reserve, a channeling of something hateful. A rising gnarl at the pit of her stomach. Maybe the Devil gets to come out and play after all. What can Azalea do but prepare for the worst? The last time she had seen the man, he had been on the edge of…something. She could not begin to understand what had changed since then, and when he turns she absorbs his posture, pupils dilating against the glowing halo of battle that surrounds them all, she could never have imagined the biological machine that he is. He does not move like /people/, like /prey/. He is a predator and it is beautiful to behold. It rises every hackle, every challenging instinct, and as Azalea fades back and the Devil Inside surges, she /feels/ the change with her very soul before The Soldier disappears.

"What the f-"

She wasn't the only one with new tricks, it seems, and it should have been her undoing. Her back should be broken, her life extinguished, but an /actual/ fucking hero hits the soldier to send that punch skidding into her upper back to force her into a roll.

"My /fucking/ hero!" She calls after The Spider - even as energy rips towards him with destructive force. Welp, nothing she can do about that. Instead, there's really only one thing to do in this situation.

Honor the SpiderlingBoy's sacrifice and close ranks on the Soldier before he can turn his arsenal to his advantage. Maybe that won't be a problem. Peter Quill has done all the distracting she needs! Now The Dark Devil moves, and when she does it is not like the last time they fought.

If there's anything Az does know, it's that Bucky does not deserve the judgement leveled against him, but she knows, too, that he can take a punch. Even a punch like the short jab she throws at his floating rib, the kind of punch that aims to break the fourth brick down in a pile, and not the top, a thing of absolute focus, and not meandering rage.

Somewhere along the line she learned to really fight, and the Soldier still might not consider her /worthy/, she follows up with a combination of technique and might that will seem impossible for her small frame to dish out, aiming for nerves, for deep, lasting damage, for blows that do not hold back in the face of someone who has been hardened so thoroughly that his metal arm might very well be the softest part of him.

"If you don't want them back!"

She builds on Quill's taunt, throwing another fist into the fray, and a quip about Jane's panties. "I'll make some fucking soup with them!"


He has to admit, a small part of him finds the sound of that crack of impact satisfying.

The rest of Peter Parker can't afford to feel anything at the moment as he swings past the tree-bound soldier. There's people here. A -lot- of people. His spider-sense is going crazy. What's happening here, exactly? The Soldier's Hired Goons, and… who?

"Yeah well" he begins as he swoops past, hand extending. That extrasensory sensation blares in his mind. Something's coming. " -I- was hoping you'd leave your Krombopulos Michaelian lust for killing at home. Crazy coincidence, right?? But y'know — it's like that super old song says: 'You can't always get what you want.' So how about yooooooohhhh crap you're gonna shoot a tank at me aren't you."


A web-line's been spun in the faint handful of seconds warning Spider-Man gets before that gun fires off its magical discharge. Blue electrical arcs ionize the air with dangerous arcane might as Peter -yanks- himself to the side, towards a nearby tree, narrowly avoiding the blast.

But while he's fast enough to avoid becoming magically deep-fried — avoiding the shockwave of kinetic force that comes after is another matter entirely. Still in mid-air, he has no way to brace himself against the ripple of force that billows outward and knocks him out of the sky. He goes spiraling through the air, shoulder cracking into a nearby tree with such force that bark splinters at the impact. "GUH!" The young man ignores the pain; he has to. Instead, he pushes -off- that tree to flip through the air and land on the surface of the Milano. Attention splitting, he looks to the Soldier, and the tank. That weapon… the electricity reminds him of 'Giovanni's' magic.

Behind the mask, Peter's lips pull into a frown. That's going to be a problem. That's— wait, bug?

"'Insect mystique'? What's that even like — /mean/? Do you think I just swoop down from rooftops screaming 'I AM THE SPIDER'? That'd dumb. You're dumb. And it's not Bug, it's Spider-Guy— wait, no, crap—!" This is the sound of Spider-Man (MAN) blustering as he springs off of the Milano. He doesn't gun for the Soldier, yet, aside from trying to snag the man's assault rifle with a web-line to yank it out of his hands just as Quill attempts his tackle; He needs to make himself a target for the tank for now; if they have a plan, it's not going to do anyone any good if they all get blown up trying to get it done.

"I don't know, like, what half of what you just said means, Rocketeer," Spider-Man asides as he flies, webbing at the whatever's propelling that tank — treads, some crazy Nazi rocket propelled hovercraft, whatever he can spot; he knows it won't stop it, maybe barely slow it down, but he's hoping to make himself a target. A target for the huge, magic-powered Doom Gun. Sure. Brilliant plan.

"But" thwip "I do remember Bucky Barnes" thwip "because this one girl in my class" thwip "would always write these really steamy, really romantic stories about Captain America and his plucky young sidekick" thwip "I think she called them erotic friendfiction—?"

thwip thwip thwip

"Really compelling stuff—!"



Ribbon's idea of Steve Rogers's romantic life gets a sudden, violent adjustment. But no, he wants a dress for his lady friend, and he thought Bucky was dead— no, he didn't say /anything/ about Bucky in the present, she recalls suddenly, and nearly gets bowled over when she gets too close to someone that has just been forcefully Grooted. "Whoa!"

She doesn't want to fall down the historical slashfiction hole, why is this happening to her?!

With a howl of deep and abiding emotional trauma, Ribbon grabs some poor schmuck with one of her lines and uses him as a bludgeon against his fellows. "GET OUT OF MY HEAD!"


More men go down as Hikari lashes at them with her lines of light. Though they are not killed, they are certainly hampered and incapacitated, making it much easier for bruisers like Jessica to get in and fling them around. The PI's strength sends them bowling over, several of them straight-up knocked out, bones snapped all around. Some may be dead.

Some DEFINITELY get dead when Groot charges into their midst, swinging. They scatter in shock, few equipped to deal with a walking, raging ent.

The tank makes the mistake of turning its attention off Rocket for now, as the raccoon on the hoverboard does not seem to be attacking at the moment, and as it's received direction to fire at Spider-Man. It continues to do so, taking Parker's bait. The spider-hero successfully draws its fire off from the squashier people present, though his webs do not do much more than irritate its hulking metal form.

They do manage to tear the Winter Soldier's assault rifle from his hands, though, in the moment of distraction he experiences when Jessica calls out about him. His head snaps to her, though she is not directly speaking to him, as if something about her voice and what she was saying caught his attention— pushed some screw loose in his calibrated head—

And Azalea tries to close with him, attacking with a focus he is not accustomed to her bringing to bear. Her blows slam into him, seeking weak spots. A rib groans on the edge of fracture under one of her strikes—

—and that metal arm reels in a furious backhand with a metallic scream, aiming to slam Azalea clean out of his way. Even if he cannot, those runes are lighting on his arm again, the Soldier twisting out of reality and back into existence some distance away, against the side of the ship.

60 percent… 50 percent…

And then… and then… Peter Quill starts to talk.

The Winter Soldier's head turns slowly, faceless mask impassive. The taunting has little effect. The chatter has little effect.

The sudden rush-in has little effect, even. The Winter Soldier seems to sneer in the way he simply holds his ground against the weaponless Quill, his hand reaching for another of his many weapons, the .45 Sig Sauer all he seems to think necessary for an annoyance like Star-Lord…

—and then Quill talks about Jane. Kissing Jane.

There are panties on the barrel of his P220ST.

Quill's ass is receding into the distance as the man runs away at top speed.

The Winter Soldier says nothing. His body language is equally silent. His masked face betrays nothing. He flicks out of existence.

When he reappears, there is a rocket launcher in his left steel hand. A rocket launcher an average man would have to bear on his shoulder and brace with two hands to fire.

The Winter Soldier? He levels it one-armed, as if it weighed or recoiled no more than a handgun, and starts to follow Quill at a killing walk— the better to have steady aim— firing incendiary rockets at the man's receding figure with extreme prejudice.


God, why is this happening to her, did Wonder Woman ever have to endure this shit with Batman and Superman—

Panting and tired, Ribbon drops her impromptu bludgeon on his dumb Nazi face and swipes a hand across her cheek. Ugh! Okay. Okay, brain dealing with those thoughts, real heroines ("Hi, Jessica!") saving the day, Rocket and Groot being Big Damn Heroes, and is that Spider-Guy? What's he doing all the way out here?

Why is Quill running from Maybebucky? Is that a grenade launcher?!

Hikari Hataori, newbie heroine, makes a decision. What would Wonder Woman do? Wonder Woman would do her best to make sure friends were reunited. And not read slashfic.

Calling up another ribbon to swing along on, Ribbon follows Star-Lord and the Soldier at the speed of physics. "Hey! Hey, stop!"

Letting go in midair, she hits the ground running, stumbles, and races after them, soul dust glittering as her line dissolves like a dream.

"HEY!" An unfamiliar voice to the Winter Soldier, sure, and one that Quill knows by now. White light shoots out of the ground beneath the soldat's feet, ribbons trying hard to wind around the barrel of his weapon and drag it to the ground. "Stop that right now!!"


She'd seen it.

That one little moment where he'd responded. Jessica sees him teleport around, frowninghow in the Hell?and sees him go after Quill. The soldiers seem a bit under control thanks to Groot and Ribbon, Spidey's drawing the big guns, Rocket's going for the tank and Peter's running like Hell. Az probably can't get way over there fast enough, but maybe she can. "Take some soldiers, Az, I gotta try something," she suggests, even as she gathers her legs beneath her again and leaps across the battlefield. A bullet grazes her arm; she doesn't even notice, another grazes her head, but miraculously she remains unshot.

Does she try to tackle him? Does she try to punch him? Does she try to grab him, even as he fires missiles at Quill? No. Right now, no. She at least tries to come up behind him, put a on his shoulder. His /flesh and blood/ shoulder, even as others respond to his actions.

"Sargent Barnes," she says, very quietly. Man, this is really stupid, but…if she can help him work more screws loose…then she's got to try, even as the battle rages.

She takes a deep breath, hoping nobody else hears. These are things she just does NOT talk about. "I don't know how it is for you. For me it was like an iron fog around my brain. A cage around one little screaming part of myself. Sometimes it was easier to just…think in the ways the cage demanded. To believe what I was being told. He told me he loved me, sometimes. It was a lie, but sometimes it was comforting. Sometimes it was even exactly what I thought I wanted. To believe it, even though he hurt me, violated me, and made me do terrible things, again and again. Made me watch him do terrible things, again and again. Easier than fighting. Fighting and losing in this endless cycle. It was exhausting. But you've got to, man. You've got to keep fighting."

"I know you maybe can't do it today, not all the way. But look around. Maybe today you can fight just a little. This situation is bursting with plausible deniability. You can withdraw, right now, before you do something else the real you doesn't want. And you can do it knowing we're all waiting for you. We're waiting for the day you come in out of the cold."


He's so glad that Quill doesn't keep his comlink on all the time. It'll spare him the extra headshakes. For now, Rocket maintains his course, but he's surprised to see that the tank turns its own targets away from him then, in favor of going after…well, what /is/ that?

It's not something he's going to complain about, not when he's got things to handle. At least this way it spares him his hoverboard. He dips low by its barrel just after it's fired again, pulling out the remaining bomb from his pocket. With a tap of a fingernail it begins to blink, and he keeps his other hand on the tank's barrel so he can keep steady enough to lob the bomb down its muzzle.

"Aaand time to get clear," he says with a dark chuckle, his foot tapping the hoverboard to boost upwards again. "Hey Red!" he shouts Spider-wards, "-better pull back!"


It all happens in such a blur for her, and as the whirl of that arms shrieks in The Dark Devil's direction she realizes how ill-prepared her newly tuned senses are for it. If it were silent, she'd have her head ripped off. Instead she can only raise her gauntlets to accept the blow and go careening sidelong and into a tree.

With a satisfying THUNK she ricochets off, and any damage she inflicted on the Soldier is soundly duplicated - her groan a confirmation as she hits the ground and rolls to the stop.

The Devil's body is on fire, and her senses burn just as hot, looking up, around, trying to get a bead on where people are, and as one of the Hydra goons steps out in front of her she launches herself from the ground and plows a flying knee into his face. Then she sees him. Bucky, hair wild. Body taught and focused.

Is that a fucking rocket launcher?!

Jessica calls the play, and she's learned from the battle with Muller that teamwork, sometimes, has to take a backseat to desire. Even though she wants him, and not in the way slashfic writers across the globe and even right here not ten or fifteen feet away with pink hair want him. Despite her better angels, somewhere deep inside, she wants his blood as much as she wants his salvation.

Not tonight.


She emphatically points at Soldier, ducking under a Hydraling's whirling kick to crash into him with a tackling wrap of her legs and a vaulting, rolling throw that sends him into the two of his buddies.

Sometimes you just gotta trust that a man with the proportional courage of a Spider and a woman with the proportional courage of a Bottle of Jack Daniels can get it done.


Sometimes, being blissfully ignorant has its perks.

"I AM Groot!" Groot yells mightily, bodily throwing one of the men at the end of the 12 hit combo while dragging a limp body in tow. The poor sap got stuck on him during the assault, limbs dangling like a rag doll every time the tree turns to check how things are going. "I am Groot?"

That tank. Good thing Rocket has been all over that since the beginning, otherwise there would have been a lot more problems dealing with it. He's aware enough to see the moment the bomb is shoved into the smoking barrel, letting the body drop to the ground as he runs to get clear of the thing. "I am Groot!" he calls up at his fuzzy friend, somewhat eager to see the oncoming result of this one.


So good news bad news for Peter Quill.

His plan worked! …and his plan worked.

So he's running, and he hears something behind him. Twisting just enough to see over his shouler he blinks as he notes that now Bucky? Is mad. And Bucky? Has a missile launcher.

However the power levels of his ship arn't dropping.

So he supposes thats good.

Missles? Less good.

The first one hisses towards him and he dives forwards, letting it fly over his head and impack into the forest ahead of him. Trees, dirt, and flaming debris spatter all around as he rolls onto his back.

The second rocket streaks towards him and his pistol is suddenly in his hand. The red bolt of energy drilling into the center of the weapon and diving it down the middle before it explodes between the pair of men.

And Bucky doesn't seem to be stopping.

"Someone knock him out!" He calls as he reaches down to his hip and slaps the activation for his boot-jets. They have never failed him! Always there to get him out of trouble like this…

…however right now they are sitting on a repair bench at a half-cyborg's workshop.

Oh yeah.

Thats bad.

One more missle would be a bad thing…but then suddenly Ribbon and Jessica are there and…oh god Ribbon is there?!

She's going to get shot!!

"Dick in his eye? Jane is gonna get jealous if that happens. Better idea GET RID OF THE MISSLE LAUNCHER!" Calls Star-lord as he hops up and almost casually flings a small round device towards the tank as Rocket and Groot are zipping away from it.

The device? One of his magnet grenades.

So those remaining Hydra goons? They are either gonna have to be loosing their weapons, or being dragged towards the soon to be exploding tank.

Since now people are charging Bucky and shooting him or his launcher is becoming difficult.


Well, phase one of Spider-Man's plan? Total success. Now he has some magitech gun straight out of a JRPG Nazi Nightmare trained on him.

"hurraaaaay" weakly intones the Spider.

Explosions rock around Spider-Man with each blast of impossible power that burns past him nearly deafening him, but this time, he's prepared. His movements compensate for the subsequent shockwaves, sending him tumbling through the sky like a circus acrobatic every time as if he were just letting himself ride each expulsion of kinetic force into the next.

The good news? He's getting the hang of -not- getting pieces of his costume and/or skin burned every time he sweeps past one of those blistering bursts. The bad news? He's running out of trees. Each explosion lights up the night sky as electrical magic chews through trees like an angry, magical, runaway woodchipper.

"So, what's even the evil plan here?" he asks, voice barely audible between each explosion. It helps. Helps him to learn the firing rate. This is important. "Burn down a forest? Doesn't Gotham have few enough of those already? What, are you trying to make space for -more- gloomy skyscrapers drizzled with gargoyles for rain to dramatically pour down on 24-7?? I feel like I should be trying to call on Captain Planet right now. Remember that show? Like, with the guy with the Tommy Bahama shirt who was like the Thing deep fried in toxic radiation?"

Another explosion. He can feel the electricity spark painfully down his spine as it edges too close for comfort. His skin feels like pins and needles. He can't keep this up forever. But hopefully— just enough—

"Because that's totally what you're doing right now. You guys are Duke Nukeming. I hope you're proud of yourselves—"

Spider-Man lands on his feet, twenty feet from where Winter Soldier is going all rocket-happy on Bill Campbell over there. He goes to web — but there's no trees close enough. Crap. No. He's too close—

With a deafening CRACK-THOOM, Spider-Man lunges. The explosion catches him. Burns through spandex. He smells flesh sizzle with magical heat and hair burn as the back of his mask and upper back churn within that electrical outburst. He goes spiraling, back hitting the snow-encrusted earth so hot that the frost melts beneath his burned flesh. But he can't stop. He pushes past the pain screaming at him as he instantly backflips onto his feet, and springs. He still has time. He can get there. He can—

can see Jessica standing right within his trajectory as a talking raccoon yells at him to clear the firing zone and A TALKING RACCOON TELLS HIM TO CLEAR THE FIRING ZONE

"Oh my god what next, is a foul-mouthed duck in a suit going to start ordering me around— SCARY LADY, OUTTA THE WAY—!"

Hikari should hopefully be clear enough. Quill is doing… something… with some crazy tech that in any other situation Parker would be gushing over, but right now— the only one in the way is Jessica Jones.

Which is why, as he lunges by, he tries to grab Jessica and -LEAP- away as the tank recalibrates, turns, and hopefully fires its last round before the big boom… right in time for that last electrically magical discharge to fly right at the Winter Soldier's feet.



The operators of the tank realize their mistake a few moments too late.

Too fearful, perhaps, to break from a direct order from the Winter Soldier, they keep trying to fire on Spider-Man rather than Rocket. This gives the crafty raccoon an opening to zip in close, prime his bomb, and lob it down the muzzle of the tank's gun. A moment later the hatch opens as the operators frantically try to get out of the tank.

The men on foot— those of them who realize what's about to happen— those of them who aren't dead or incapacitated— try to run the hell away. But that action is cut short by Quill's magnetized disk. Some of them are smart enough to let go of their weapons as they run. Some are… not, and are drawn in.

The Winter Soldier, for his part, is so focused on Quill that he does not see Hikari coming. Most wouldn't— few people ever expect soul-lines to spew up from the ground, after all. They tangle the rocket launcher and yank it downwards— and the Winter Soldier lets it go, quite easily, his right hand switching back to his sidearm as he turns. It leaps up, aiming dead between Ribbon's eyes in a heartbeat. The masked face of the Winter Soldier is featureless and implacable over the deadly muzzle of the weapon.

Then Jessica is behind him. Her hand on his shoulder. Her voice in his ear.

He swings around and the weapon trades Ribbon's face for Jessica's as a target. But something stops his finger on the trigger. Something about what she says.

You fight your wars that never end, Zimniy Soldat.

"This is the real me," he says, but his head turns just a little as he says it, as if pulled by some internal resisting force. His hand shakes briefly on the weapon. "I— am— where I belong."

His hand tightens. His finger squeezes on the trigger—


The Winter Soldier whirls. Runes glare, and he just barely clears before Spider-Man's redirected blast hits right where he was standing.

There is a brief pause where it's not quite clear where he went. A brief pause as Quill, isolated from the rest, starts to try to get back—

A figure detaches from the darkness: long, lithe, perfectly balanced, graceful as a panther in full stride. It leaps, the low light revealing the many curves and planes of a woman's body, sheathed in tactical black.

A woman's body that tries to wrap her long, long legs around Quill's head. There is a moment of sublime warmth, of very familiar inviting softness— and then she'd spin, and send him crashing on his back into the dirt.

She leaps back afterwards, regardless of success or not: supermodel-tall, flung-back platinum blonde hair settling about her shoulders, blue eyes pure as chips of glacier ice. Her curves beg to be held by enterprising hands. She looks at Peter Quill like he is literal dirt, full lips pulling into a moue of distaste. "Your tactics disgust me," she says, her German accent pronounced. She speaks as if English sullies her tongue.

The Winter Soldier appears beyond her, furious, gun still in hand—

— just in time for the tank to blow in a titanic explosion, sending dangerous metal and shrapnel— and bodies— everywhere.

The Soldier curses and seizes the blonde's arm. "Das genügt völlig," he barks, and runes flare a last time as they both vanish.


Jessica Jones stands steady, mostly unafraid (mostly) as the Winter Soldier, the world's deadliest assassin, trains his gun directly between her eyes.

This is it. This might be how she dies. But if it is, well…this was a good hill to die on, trying to reach out to another member of their exclusive, shitty club.

She watches as his finger begins to exert pressure on the trigger. She never stops looking into his eyes, until the moment he himself looks away, her own full of raw empathy. Silently rooting for him to find his way home as chaos erupts.

Fire in the hole! Get out of the way, Scary-Lady!

She hardly has time to react to the multiple ways she'd nearly gotten herself killed before Spidey scoops her up and saves her ass. She hangs on instinctively, no heavier, weirdly, than she looks. She's careful to control her strength, so he can't even feel it as she watches the ground slip away from beneath her, this time under someone /else's/ power. "Thanks. Spider-Man," she says, impressed, though there's an odd note in her voice, its caustic edge blunted entirely. Impressed enough to use his real name and schtick, but also emotional. "Next time I might even let you ride shotgun while /I/ sit in the back." She doesn't take it lightly when someone saves her life you know.

Her eyes track Sargent Barnes as they swing high overhead. Verifying he's alive. She watches till the moment they vanish.

For a moment she might not look scary at all, because there are tears in her eyes. And then there are two or three, sliding down her face. She quickly turns her head away from the Friendly Neighborhood Hero, willing him not to see.


The battle turns pitched, bombs and explosions and things Azalea or even the creature that helps drive her do not understand. But it understands, on some level, magic. When the goosebumps come, it's because The Soldier moved again, and she whips her head around, expecting yet another attack. But instead she just sees a leggy blond try to ride Quill's non-existent mustache.

Alright, he's pretty rugged, he might have 12 percent of a mustache right now.

The Winter Soldier - NotBucky - appears, and then the world explodes.

Fate must not be done with her. She barely makes it behind a tree, one that is entirely obliterated, before being launched through the air. She bounces off something, past some tiny furred thing, and into the limbs of another tree.

But this one is moving. This is a Groot.

A a huff escapes her, exasperated, desperate for understanding, as she reaches out to hold on to Moving-Tree's branches.

"W-who the fuck /are/ you people?"

Somewhere along the way she banged her head up pretty bad, and as she goes limp, she'll begin to slip. She can only hope someone will catch her before she hits the ground.


If anybody says anything about Ribbon after her death, please /don't/ let it be that she died for love.

The face that turns to her, the arm that held a grenade launcher like a toy… they could belong to a wild animal. No, because animals show emotion. Anger, or hunger, anything. She can't see his face, and his body language doesn't say anything but 'do, kill, repeat'. Her own eyes feel huge in her face, widening in the space of a drawn breath that last forever as time slows down.

She's going to die.

But she doesn't. That woman, Jessica - says something to Maybebucky that she can't hear over the ringing in her ears. Hikari feels her legs go weak, and her body collapses into a sit on the snowy ground.

The explosion afterward is just overkill. She can't even make herself turn around.

"Mou yada," she whimpers, but at least this time she didn't do it quite so… whine-ily.


All other things aside, the explosion is…explosive. Being a walking, talking tree, Groot is lucky to have gotten out of the major blast radius. The force from the shock makes him plant his feet firmly, getting some shrapnel stuck into his arms and torso as he shields himself. After it passes, he takes notice of the young woman who used him as a shield for good reason.

A hasty turn lets the ent take hold of Azalea's shoulders so that she doesn't fall over, slowly setting her down before giving her the an answer to her question.

"I am Groot."

And there's smoke. It may be coming from the small fire burning away on his head. Just a little.


The explosion threatens to overturn his hoverboard, but despite a near fall and dodging a rain of debris thereafter, Rocket is laughing. That right there was a good explosion. Sloppy Saskarian blasters can't take a hit, but they do blow up nicely, so the question of what to do with that cache was pretty obvious to him.

Landing beside the Milano, Rocket props his rifle over a shoulder as he walks over to where the others are, finally able to take in the battlefield proper. His satisfied grin fades a touch as he looks around, but so far as he can tell, they haven't lost anyone- only gained extras. And Quill had said that Bucky had been there, but he's nowhere to be seen. Come to think of it, neither is Quill- at least, not in the immediate area.

The smallest Guardian wanders over by Ribbon. She's in one piece too, at least. She must tire out pretty easily because he's sure she was sitting down like this the last time they blew things up. Glancing around at the others, he finally speaks up, simultaneously betraying his forays over the internet.

"So uh…what's happening in this thread?"


Peter's arm came up to cover his face from the explosion, the mask still down from the taunt that nearly cost him his life. There is relief that releases a knot of worry in his chest when he realises that Ribbon and Jess are both ok. Thats good. However he is now way out of position to do…well…anything really. Except run back towards his friends before Bucky appears out of nowhere and shoots him in the back of the head.

So he starts running. He doesn't get far though. His senses, honed by years of living on his own in a hostile galaxy, register a threat. One foot is planeted hard as he turns towards the approaching rush of moment, his hands dropping to his pistols as his eyes take in.

"Woah. Hot."

That moment of hesitation costs him any chance to dodge and suddenly he finds himself becoming very familiar with the anatomy of someone trying to kill him. Unsuprisingly? This is totally not a first for Peter Quill. This is in fact possibly the most normal, for him, thing that has happened today.

His hands come up, sliding up taunt thighs trying to get enough of a purchase so she doesn't snap his neck.

Which she doesn't. Instead she just slams him to the ground with a flip that would make master martial artists envious.

The movement does cause something to happen that she might not expect though. The jerking motion thows his hands free, and in their random flailing one manages to connect with her…assets.


Lying there on the ground, stunned, he peers up at the woman. "…oh baby. Gimme a chance. I could make you a believer." He says with that cocksure grin of his before he's sweeping his legs towards hers…

…and there is an explosion. Debris rainging down everywhere. Fire and bodies. His kicks scythes though thin air as suddenly no one is there. And the tank is burning somewhere.

Slowly he sits up, taking stock of all this before he draws a deep breath. "….can someone…EXPLAIN WHAT THE FRACK JUST HAPPENED?!"


He was hoping. Hoping against hope. This was his chance. He has no way of tracking these people, no way of researching them, no way of uncovering them — no way of finding that relic housing Zatanna's soul.

This. This was his single opportunity, a single fluke stroke of luck. If he had timed it better, maybe not said anything, maybe waited a half second longer, that final magical cannonade from the tank might have struck Winter Soldier, knocked him clear off his feet, set Spider-Man up to bind him up and get some answers, and then— and then—

— and then that's not what happens, because of a magic arm and any number of other reasons Peter Parker will ultimately blame himself for. As he clears the area with Jessica in tow, he looks back — just in time to see the assassin flicker and disappear. "Super generous, but I feel like I'd just get, like, accusations of stealing rentacars if I did that— wait, did you use my name?? Are you feeling okay—"

They land at a skidding stop, his heels dragging into the snow-encrusted earth too wet for him to adhere to. He manages to hold onto Jessica as if she weighed little more than a twig until they come to a stop, and then?

And then, Spider-Man is turning. Planting his heel into the ice. Perhaps fortunately, or unfortunately, Jessica's tears go, for the moment, unseen as Peter's attention shifts. He sees that strange woman with Barnes. His eyes widen as those runes flare. No. No!! He runs. He spins a web. -Flings- himself towards the Winter Soldier and his companion, reckless, thoughtless. He doesn't care.

"NO! Dammit — get back here, you weird, cyborg Rasputin son of a bitch—!"

But it's too little, too late. All Peter's plans go up in smoke as he flies through nothing but a dwindling twist of space, crashing into the snowy earth with such momentum that he ricochets and rolls. Coming to a stop on his back a few feet from the Milano, the webbed vigilante groans in a pain that helps to mask his dismay. No.

He had the perfect opportunity, and he let it slip through his fingers. And he let people die, again.

"… dammit. Just…" He feels like screaming. He doesn't. He just stares up at the sky blankly. He just tries to figure out his next move. And he just tries to mask his frustration the only way he knows how:

"… I smell bacon. Did they deep-fry my back? Why does that keep happening?? Uggghhhhh my liiiiife… …"

Lenses slowly whirl into a slitted squint.

"… holy shit is that a space ship?




Hikari is nineteen. She grew up in the suburbs. She's sort of brave but she's never had a gun pointed at her by a SOVIET ASSASSINATION MACHINE before. Just ordinary guys with ordinary guns on the L train!

Hikari is an emotionally-drained teenage girl. Rocket, a small, friendly(ish), furry - dare she say, maybe even fluffy - creature appears before her as if by magic.

Yeah, he's got about .4 seconds to dodge before she goes to scoop him up in her arms, heedless of his offended dignity or personal danger. "Aaaaaaaaaah I thought I was gonna die!" she gasps, and looks over at Groot. And his new friend. And the other way, at Star-Lord and Spider-Guy and Jessica. "…It's a space ship," she nods at him, and resumes her doomed attempts to cuddle Rocket.


She pulls herself together, does Jessica Jones, as Spider-Man races away, and goes to dance with the one she came with, so to speak. She heads over to Groot and Az, stopping to pat pat Groot's trunk (hoping that she's not actually groping his alien anatomy), saying, "Hi Groot," in solemn, subdued fashion.

Then she turns her attention to Az. "Are you badly hurt?" she asks, concern darkening eyes that are already pretty dark. She has done a quick visual, seeing that for now, nobody but soldiers are down, and this is all to the good.


With the spandex wonder gaping about the space ship and Star-Lord shouting somewhere in the near distance a question that Rocket himself would very much like the answer to, the raccoon is completely unaware of the sudden compulsion that has overtaken the distraught normally genki-teenager. "So much for camouflaging the th- hrk?!"

Ribbon scoops him up so abruptly that he drops his rifle- which thankfully doesn't go off or there'd be a fresh explosion too close for comfort. He flails, clearly not used to being…well, /used/ as a cuddly means of comfort. Or being called cuddly for that matter! "WHAT THE HECK?! Le'ggo!!" The fact that he doesn't claw or bite is mainly because he's being glomped onto by a cute female. But it's still plenty awkward.


Fortunately for Jessica, Groot's anatomy is pretty similar to most human beings. Because that could have been very awkward. (Not like he would have been able to say anything more than 'I am Groot,' though.)

She touches a safe zone and receives a dumb smile in return. "I am Groot," he replies softly.

While he is curious about whatever is left behind at the site of the explosion, the ruckus across the way distracts his train of thought. Groot looks over at Rocket and slowly claps his hands over where his cheeks would be on his bark-covered face. "I am Groot!" He can't help smiling even more at this display of comfort and affection.


"SHUT. UP," Rocket growls.


Slowly Peter Quill picks himself up. Everything hurts, but he's still grinning to himself. Slowly he dusts himself off and starts back towards the ship, limping only slightly.

Well that was exciting.

"Yes its my spaceship," He calls towards Peter Parker, the Spider-Guy. A glance at Rocket and Ribbon. "Adoreable." Then he's moving on past them, looking inside. Engines should have…yeah. Still enough power to reboot the systems. "Everyone inside! We need to relocate!" He calls out to the people outside. "Come on Spider-Guy. I'll give ya a ride too."

A longer pause.

"And anyone know /WHY/ that guy and his goon squad, and the Platnium Bombshell all jumped us? I don't much like people going after my ship." A pause. "Which is why I put a tracker on the Bombshell. No one messes with the Guardians. Espicially when they have a rack like that." A pause. "I mean espically when they have tried to shoot our stuff."

Yes. Perfct plan again Quill.

"Groot! Jessica! Grab everything not nailed down or blown up out there, and lets get outta here! You can explain just what the hell is going on on the way!"


It takes Az a few minutes to come around, a shake of her head, and the haunting realization that fate had thrown her once more against The Winter Soldier and she'd come up painfully short.


Every time.

"So much for being a fucking hero." It's a bare whisper as Groot sets her down and she looks up, staring at the tree thing with burning hair, and then the verbal rampage of… a talking raccoon? There's a long moment as a Disney Princess scene plays out before her, and she just staggers over to Jess and reaches up as if to claw her own face off, fingers balling into fists.

When her hands fall away she kicks some piece of burning debris or another, a fuming radiance billowing from around her as anger rips through every fiber of her being. If only she could blame everything on someone. Someone like… Star-Lord.

But like the rest of the universe, she barely knows he exists, stalking back and forth as she replays the battle in her head. "Soemthing was different. Something was.. not just his new ability to fucking jump through space and time either. /FUCK/ I really hope it's just space and not time too. Something about his fucking.. everything. I don't know. We have to find him. Get back to the car. Find Rogers, find Carter, and get maybe, I don't know - an entire army. Because that mother fucker is /not/ getting away next time!"

She declares. Decries. Screams. It's doubtful anyone is really listening as the world continues to crumble and burn around them.


The shell of the tank is a smoking, ruined husk. Nothing moves around it except smoke and the last escaping remnants of blue, trailing energy.

Smoke and a single survivor, crawling feebly at the fringes of the blast, on the verge of death.


"Screw that," Jessica tells Az savagely.

Because she recognizes it. That yearning to be a hero, and that feeling that she's falling short. And in that moment, even more than she'd felt that niggling feeling of kinship before, something locks into place for her about Azalea Kingston, something fierce, a connection she knows she won't voluntarily sever. Three months ago she wouldn't connect with anyone, but now she can't stop herself. "You were fucking fantastic. Maybe next time you'll be even /more/ fantastic, but you were fantastic enough for today. We'll both get better together. No beating yourself up."

She turns her head and calls back to Quinn, "We've got to take our car, Quill, thanks for the offer." She's not sure she's ready for space travel just yet, cool as the opportunity might be. She's got a lot to worry about, a lot of problems on her plate already, and she just sees all sorts of things going wrong when it takes off, things that might keep her from ever getting back. She glances at Spidey, but her odds are on him taking the ride in the space ship.

She nods to Azalea. "Come on. Let's get back to New York."



Soft fuzzy squirmy complain-y… Hikari blinks, looks down at Rocket, and realizes she has just committed a pretty big faux pas among space raccoons. Or maybe Rocket just doesn't like hugs. "Oops, sorry!" She lets him down, but the hug seems to have done her some good.

Or maybe she's just turned her attentions toward Groot, the spiritual leader of the Guardians (and some others too). Pushing herself to her feet, she gives the big tree a hug that's a bit less… clingy teenage girl than the one Rocket was subjected to. "Ah! That was scary! …Did you know you're on fire?"

"Coooomiiiiing," she calls back to Star-Lord. Because wow, she is just super done with today.


There's a survivor crawling in the wreckage. Barely clinging to life. Spider-Man sees. He'd be useful. But more than that…

… Peter just can't leave him be.

Smash-cut TO:

'Come on Spider-Guy. I'll give ya a ride too.'

Spider-Man, in the middle of wrapping up a weakly protesting poor Communazi in layer after layer of webbing until he becomes some weird little oblong coccoon of awkwardness.

"Oh crap seriously?? HANG ON I'll be right there I just gotta—!!"

thwip thwip thwip

"I'd apologize about how embarassing this all must be for you but I'm preeeeeetty sure you're evil soooo—"

And so it goes.


A quick glance is stolen regarding Azalea, watching as she gets up and gets furious. Aside from letting her be, he's not sure how else to react. That's when Jessica steps in to be awesome and mentor.

And as always, Quill has a solution in times like this. They've been in so many close calls that it has become routine. "I am Groot!" He calls back to Star Lord. Since Jess has her own plans, the tree decides to make quick summary of the events as he's seen it. "I am Groot. I am Groot. I am Groot? I am Groot…I am Groot! I am. Groot."

Surely she got that.

He then gets hugged by a Hikari. "I am Groot?" he blinks, finding the burning spot on his head in an instant. He quickly snuffs it out with a few hearty pats. "I am Groot." He returns the hug with branchy arms, patting the teen on the head before sending her off in Quill's direction.

/Now/ he goes to check on the tank. Spider-man has made the survivor a little easier to carry. "I am Groot," says he in passing, waving.


Azalea spots evil dude just as Jess is collecting her, smoothing out her rough edges and giving her the benefit of far more experience. She gives a nod, and then begins stalking in that direction. It isn't until she sees him getting webbed up that she really has to wonder where all that webbing REALLY comes from.

Fucking gross.

And then, as her rage threatens to resurface she stops short, seeing his broken countenance, a slow blink drawing the person she used to be to the surface. A question begins to form on her lips. Then some crazy thing is shouting 'I am Groot' over and over again and horror fills her eyes and she slow-looks over her shoulder.

Who /are/ these people?! Please someone return her to the darkness and rain and terror of her lovely little home that is Gotham.

"Listen. Guy. Pal. You're in pretty fucking bad shape, no lies. We'll do what we can. But we need to know where to find… Metal Arm.. Soldier guy. Bucky. Where the /fuck/ is he?!"


Rocket takes a moment to smooth out his fur and retrieve his gun once Ribbon's released him. Shaking his head, he looks around, stowing his rifle behind him so he can have his hands free to go poke through the remnants of the battlefield to see if anyone's missed anything before they take their leave. He doubts he'll get as good a haul as with the Saskarian job, but old habits. You never know…!


Peter tries to follow along with Groot's description of events. Of course he has no idea what he's saying but as he nods along with the description he actually /looks/ like he knows what he's saying. "Well I guess things went ok then."

Behind him one of Winder Soldiers unexploded grenades goes off on the edge of the forest, and a tree slooooowly careens over to crash down. So yes. By Guardian standards? It went great.

He hops out of the ship, since the engines are warming up. Following Rocket down towards where people are shouting at a dying guy and Spidey is making a convienent carry handle for him. "Huh. Nice trick." He says of the Man-Spider. "Where to find the metal arm guy would be nice, what your tank was shooting at us would be nice to know, and why you attacked my ship. All pretty nice questions. Answers?" Peter adds conversationally as he steps up towards the little confrontatnion.


The weapons the men carry seem like normal military-grade weaponry: albeit weaponry of the highest quality, stuff only the well-connected and well-monied could have. The tank seems that way too— except for the fact it seems to be no ammunition in it whatsover. The gun itself seems to be modified, carved with runes in a similar fashion to the way the Winter Soldier's left arm was.

The same three runes repeat on the barrel of the gun, over and over. Uruz, Thurisaz, Hagalaz.

The dying man certainly is in extremely bad shape. Blood mats in his hair and plasters across his face. He can't resist in the least as he is webbed, restrained completely from neck down in the stuff. He only rolls his eyes from individual to individual, silent up until addressed.

"The Winter Soldier is where it needs to be," he whispers through his own blood. "It serves as it must. As must we all. Power is needed if you wish change for the world."

His eyes start to roll back. "Cut off one head and two more shall take its place." His labored breathing slows to a stop. "Hail Hydra."


What can Azalea do but watch helplessly as the man gives his life for his cause. She swallows away what she feels - that sense of hopelessness that wells, and kneels down to search through whatever he had on him. Some clue. Some hint. She was supposed to be a detective now.

What a joke. She doesn't even know what she's looking for.

Empty handed or not, she'll take out her phone from it's protective little case and snap a photo of the runes on the tank. She saw them flare to life on Bucky. Saw the power, but does not /recognize/ it.

If only Zatanna were here.

"Let's get the fuck out of here."


Jessica had been reaching for her phone to snap a photo of the runes as well, so…the kid's instincts aren't bad at all. She decides, after a moment's thought, to do the same. Two copies are better than one. She'd been opening her mouth to explain 'I am Groot' is all the tree-man said, but…you know what? She can save that explanation for the car if Az wants it. "Yep," she says, turning to go, waving at the others. "Nice to see you all, Quill, Rocket, Groot, Hikari," as if leaping out of a car and beating up Hydra soldiers is just another Tuesday.

Actually, lately, it kind of was.


'I am Groot,' says Groot, waving as he passes by.

"… wait. What? Did an Ent just say hi to me…??"

Spider-Man stares blankly for five poignant seconds at the empty space where Groot was.

"… I'm having pain hallucinations. I'm having pain hallucinations that I'm in Middle Earth. That's what's going on, isn't it. God, why am I such a nerd."

He disregards his obviously confused mind for now before he turns into Hobbit-Man or something, to turn his attention to the captive. He's barely clinging on, but that ship has some sort of high tech medical equipment, Peter bets. Hopes. And yet… and yet…

"Yeah see, that's not an answer. That's being cryptic, dude. Can't you be more like a big name villain and monologue a bit… or… wait— no, hold on a sec—"

But it's too late.

Hail Hydra.

Spider-Man watches the life slip away from the man, ducking down to try to pick him up, as if he could drag him to the ship before he slipped away entirely. But it's too late, isn't it? It's always too late. Part of him tells him he shouldn't feel bad. The man was helping to violate someone's mind, kidnapping others, cleaving his friend's soul. And yet…

He stands there, for a long, quiet moment. He leaves for the ship, in an equally quiet moment.

And he doesn't enjoy that space ship ride nearly as much as he should.


"What the hell is a Hydra?" Quill asks with some bit of confusion as he glances down at the expired man. He draws a deep breath before shaking his head. "Yeah, nice meeting you Jess. I'll track you down later so you can explain to me what the FRACK just happened. And when the tracer settles on a location so we can kick this nest over and knock some sense into Bucky."

He sighs again as he looks around. A shrug. No use sticking round.

"Groot! Grab the cannon and lets get outta here. Don't want to be around when whoever shows up for this sort of thing shows up."

A backwards wave towards the other two as he heads towards the ship.

Though he does pause as he enters to pat Spidey on the shoulder. Just a little bit. "Come on Spidey. I'll introduce ya to the crew."

Maybe a talking Rocket, a blind Ribbon, and an Entlike Groot will distract him at least for the ride.

Because sometimes. Peter Quill isn't a total dick.

Unless its dealing with Kitty. Then he totally is.

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