C'mon C'mon C'mon

May 19, 2017:

In which Isa Reichert and fellow SHIELD agents Phil Coulson, Melinda May, and consultant Darkedge look into the matter of Icarus Dynamics, and things do not end nearly as well as intended.

Sound Stage A - Somewhere Out There

A sleek, white box of a room, with shiny floor and polished ceiling, ultra-smooth walls, and bright omnidirectional lighting that evokes the feel of a futuristic clean-room… or an Apple Store.

Holographic controls sit in one corner, waiting to be activated.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

The facility that SHIELD intelligence has identified is about 20 miles outside of St. Petersburg. It is a small research and development office, with a single hangar which is used to build prototypes, along with two airstrips used to launch them. Intel says there are not, currently, any prototypes ready to use the airstrips. The facility is ostensibly home to engineers, but there has been a lot of really strange activity coming out of there, enough to make it clear that the servers inside of the building contain important information, information that might be the key to unlocking the strange 3-way conflict that is going on between the Russian Government, HYDRA, and the aerospace corporation known as Icarus, the object of tonight's sortie.

The plan is basic. Cloak two Quinjets, one piloted by Isa Reichert, one piloted by Melinda May. Use the VTOL capability to land silently on the airstrips. Break into the building after hours, when the only people on site would be the security team. Do it without forcing a fight if possible…fight hard and fast if necessary. Download all the data, and get back out again before the greater corporation, which actually does have an airfield full of planes it can launch at any time, becomes aware of their activities.

Hours of flight has gotten them to Phase I, the part where they successfully land without tripping any alarms, or freaking anybody out. They have the maps of the place, suggesting a few different possible avenues of approach. They've got some nice infiltration technology that they can work with. Now?

Now, on to Phase II, getting in and getting out.

There are exterior cameras, but Phil has that covered; a hacker named Garth set him up with a program and instructions on how to tap into their systems. He executes the program with a button touch of the holographic display floating briefly above his watch. A confirmation message makes him roll his eyes ("Confirmed! Target has been Garth'd!"), but he nods to the other three with him.

"Cameras are looped starting now," he murmurs. "If they don't notice and if they don't make a ruckus, we'll be golden."

It has been a largely awkward and quiet flight. Isa Reichert had put all her attention and effort towards navigation, preferring to study maps and charts rather than broach any awkward topics with Coulson.

Her flying had been textbook to the point of a thing of beauty, handling the monotony of travelling from one place to another like a professional. No showing off, no boredom, no piloting equivalent of fidgeting – just a straight trip, flying on through the night and morning like a workhorse.

She hasn't particularly spoken unless spoken to. Dressed in a black variant on the basic SHIELD flightsuit, the organisation's badge is stitched in silver. A thing, it seems, the red-headed pilot is proud to wear; blazoned also on the side of the altitude helmet she's been wearing.

Sure, quinjets are a lot more sophisticated than other aircraft, but it's kind of important that she not succumb to G-force induced loss of consciousness. GLOC is a bad, bad thing to have in the one who's driving one of the buses.

So Isa has concentrated on piloting.

As soon as Coulson blacks out the cameras, she's steering her quinjet down toward the second runway in a smooth descent. Well, actually, it's more of a smooth curve, anyway. Whatever the case, the aircraft is moving hard and fast. She pulls up just a whisker above what she needs to for a safe landing; her control in that simple gesture speaks volumes of her experience and skill – and finesse.

The engines are still shutting down as she throws off her harness and pulls off her helmet, tossing it onto her seat. Her hair is rolled at the nape of her neck by way of several pins. Isa lunges for the gear box behind her seat. She yanks out her Stetchkin pistol, jamming it into a holster at her belt.

Finally, she speaks; the first time since leaving New York City, beyond to report coordinates to Melinda May, in her fellow quinjet.

"Phillip Coulson, I am ready."

True to his word, Darkedge returned to the safehouse the next night, agreeing to assist as payment for the new mask. He had tried it, and found that it was light weight, comfortable, did not hinder his peripherial and kept the lights of the nighttime human world to nearly comfortable levels. The drawback was that things were now too dark when the lights got low enough for him to tolerate without the mask, but this was far better than complete darkness and not nearly enough breathing room.

The flight was… it was all too overwhelming, so the elf mediatated, waiting, having asked only one question: What sort of force was acceptible? Lethal was easiest to think about.

When at last the metal creature they were in settles, Darkedge smoothly rises to his feet and pulls the black out goggles May gave him over his eyes, mind reaching out for those on the team that he had been (allbeit briefly, Isa) introduced to.

As am I, reports the elf, mental words crisp and focused.

Textbook piloting. May can do that. She's also force planes to do things they were never designed to do. But that's not necessary today.

Her quinjet settles alongside Isa's and she quickly toggles several switches. "Ready," is her contribution to the check-in.

She steps through the back of the jet, passing the elf with a nod, and after waiting for the loading ramp, she looks up and down the tarmac before disembarking. "Proceeding to Hangar entrance."

Phil had given a lot of thought to the questions of lethality vs. non-lethality. In the end he'd simply said that lethality was a last resort. The people here are just people doing their jobs, and aren't necessarily party to some of the darker dealings of this corporation.

He nods once at Isa, clad as he ever is…in a suit. Though he's got his bullet-proof vest on.

May chooses the hangar doors as their entry point; Phil trusts her judgment. She is top-notch at infiltrations like these. He intends to keep the group together for most of this, so he simply moves to join her, letting her take care of the details of getting the thing open. The large rolling garage-style door is currently locked with an exterior padlock and chain combination. She can also see a contact, indicating an alarm system which may or may not be armed. Even if unarmed, those things usually broadcast open doors and closed ones. She'll need to find a way around both of these obstacles in order to get them inside.

Phil waits with his ICER pointed down, making hand motions to the other two indicating they should get into positions that keep her well covered while she gets about the work of getting them in.

This time, the red-headed pilot has a bullet-proof vest on beneath her flight suit, because the last thing she wants is to get shot again. It was unpleasant enough the first time to dissuade wanting to ever have to experience that again. Never mind that these Icarus people seem to be playing for keeps.

They're not going to take kindly to infiltrators in their territory.

Isa draws her Stetchkin and jogs after Coulson, backing up to stand at the group's periphery. She keeps it pointed to the ground but her arm tense, ready to snap it up into position if she has to. Her single eye hasn't stopped moving, flicking between points where they could feasibly be ambushed from.

She says not a word. This is to be quick and quiet.

She's tense for other reasons, too. Not once does she seem to face Coulson directly. Every time her eye happens to pass over his position, her gaze seems to skip over him; something tightening near her eye. This adrenaline-fuelled mission is good, though. It will do nicely to keep her mind off of anything but the current objective.

It's also a good excuse to not have to speak. She doesn't trust her voice.

Darkedge walks calmly from the quinket, sweeps his gaze about the area, then steps into the aircraft's shadow and then out of Phil's so that the elf is next to the human. When it's clear they are planning to go IN through the large door, then elf looks up for a window to peek through… that a shadow is crossing. Provided one is found near enough to this door to put him hopefully in the same room the humans wish to get into, the elf steps into Phil's shadow then through the shadow in that window. If it's dark enough for him to flip the goggles up he will. If it's too bright, he'll keep them on and stay to the shadows he can sense until he know how many humans are here and how to effectively drop them without killing them (May and Phil's orders) so that the rest of the team has a way in clear of guards.

Electronic sensors? What are those? Can you eat them?

This might be more Romanova's wheelhouse than May's, but she's no slouch at bypassing alarm systems and picking locks. She can prove it right now, while Darkedge 'cheats' and takes the fast track to a window.

Pulling objects from a pocket on her vest, she first produces a set of lockpicks and makes short work of the lock and sets it gently on the ground before pulling a little coil of wire. She pulls the hangar doors apart the tiniest bit, then adheres one end of the wire to each contactor before pushing the door further open, enough to let them slip through.

Darkedge, stay in contact, she thinks after the elf as she slips through the now open doors first.

The hangar does have some smaller windows up near the roof, but Darkedge's shadow-stepping will let him get where he needs to go. There is a half-built plane inside, and it is definitely very, very metal. The light is somewhat low; a few flourescents have been left on but the place isn't cast in white light or anything. Meanwhile, May's trick with the contact works.

Phil motions Isa in ahead of him once May has travelled inside. He himself is focused, his mien serious: nothing else exists but this right now.

The entrance from the hangar doors to the main building does require a key card, but Phil has an answer here. Working seamlessly, he slips up to it and pulls out a small keycard emulator device. This is a bright blue RFID shaped card. It sits there for a moment, sensing the reader, working its way through an infinite number of combinations. The interior door has no alarm, just this. About 5 minutes later the light beeps from red to green. There's little help for the soft click and beep that indicates a successful entry.

Here, they have some choices. The security room is right there to the south; an entry door is immediate, though closed. It has a window, allowing them to see, should they wish to peek over it, two guys in uniform watching the monitors and chit-chatting. There may be one or two more that wander the halls. The combatants could, if they wanted, go right on in and try to disable the guards, which would mean two immediately down and out of the way. The risk? It might get noisy; one of the patrolling guards might figure out what's going on, and help may be called. The reward? They'd be down two guards, and they wouldn't have to worry much about the loop being discovered. And if the other guards run to the rescue instead of radioing for help? They could take them out hard and fast.

Phil motions for Isa to stay with him, then signals to May; he's going to allow her and Darkedge to make their move as they see fit. He trusts her to make the right call. He scoots past to the server room. They now know it's going to take him 5 relatively out-in-the-open minutes to get that room open with his emulator card. This might be a consideration, considering they don't know for sure what the security guard patterns are.

Holding her Stetchkin stiff-armed before her, the red-headed pilot eases into the doorway when Phil points for her to go. Despite her heavy boots, she moves light on her feet, glaring into the shadows with her single blue eye. Her gun swings around as she half-turns, easing after Coulson and keeping an eye on their backtrail.

So far, so good. She can only hope it can stay that way. Despite the weapon in her hands, Isa Reichert does not enjoy shooting at people. Maybe she should have taken the ICER – but the Stetchkin is familiar. She's trained with it enough to know its characteristics; to be aware of its distinctive personality. The ICER isn't as familiar to her, not yet, and she still has to put more time with it in at the range.

For now, though, she carries the comforting weight of the Stetchkin. Isa ghosts after Coulson, glaring at each open section of the hall; searching for the silhouettes of security guards. There's no chance that this place doesn't have a local security detail; not if they're designing something as sophisticated and expensive as aircraft prototypes.

Half a glance is cast to the aircraft as she follows Coulson. She in fact slows as they pass it, lagging behind as she stares over the sweep of its wings, the jutting tail fin, the landing gear, the fuselage, the cockpit. Her eye lingers especially on the cockpit. Something is wrong about that… Isa frowns. Why is it so small? You would need a racehorse jockey to fit in that space.

At about the same time Coulson makes it to the door, she sprints to catch up, still springing lightly in spite of her heavy boots. Adrenaline lends her the extra edge of strength she needs to do that quietly.

She gives the agent a grim nod, though there's an undercurrent of worry behind that blue eye. Do it, the gesture seems to say. She raises her Stetchkin, easing into place beside him, close enough to push on the boundaries of personal space; stoic enough to lance the tension from that closeness. I'll cover you.

Isa raises her free hand and points to the secure door to the server room. Open the door.

Will do, May. If the others can think as you can, I will broadcast their thoughts as well, keep us all in communication, replies the elf to Agent May as he slips through the hanger bay. from his view point he can see some of the guards, and this information is past along to all of the group, though may's mind would hear his unspoken question: Do I deal with them?

May shares Darkedge's suggestion with the others while the key card emulator works. "Darkedge is offering to keep us all in touch telepathically, if you both want. And I'll handle the security room." She moves near-silently to the security room door.

She nods to Isa and Phil, then whips the door open and is through and snagging one of the guards there by the major nerve bundle under the trapezius of his right shoulder. At the same time, she flicks a small metal object at the other man – one of Romanova's tiny shocker disks.

Phil nods to May's suggestion; he's more than willing to get them all telepathically linked up.

He gets to work on the door. This mostly means he stands there, looking goofy while he holds this blue card up to the door. But…it is what it is.

The other two guards round the corner just as May efficiently takes out the first without even tripping an alarm. They cry out in Russian and draw weapons; one is coming right for Darkedge from the north, the other is coming via the southwest hallway, which means Isa will probably intercept him first.

Phil, trusting them to keep him covered, just grimaces, presses himself as much out of the way as possible, and keeps working with the emulator. All he can really do to speed this up is to make the c'mon c'mon c'mon face. Which he does. With great gusto.

The red-headed pilot fetches up near the agent as he pits himself against the door's security system; it's close enough that he can smell the leather from the accents of her flight suit and gloves, the steel of her gun, and the sharp aroma of cinnamon, chewed on during the flight for something to do because she couldn't smoke.

At the sound of a warning barked in her native language, Isa gives a low, urgent warning – "Ne ostavat'!" Stay back! – and drops hard to a knee, crouching down and pressing herself against the wall, arms extended stiffly to line the shot up. It may be that she's missing one eye, but Isa Reichert is still a careful perfectionist, and she still practises her marksmanship.

She fires two precise shots straight for the security officer's centre of mass. She isn't aiming to kill the man, but if he tries to do that to her, she'll certainly make every effort to plug him in the face.

A glance at the human guard coming for him, and the elf steps back into a shadow… then reappears out of the guard's. Weaponless, Darkedge grabs the guard from behind and pulls him along another shadow step. The shadow he appears from puts him between May and the two new guards who have just rounded the corner, the third guard still in his grip and shivering from havnig suddenly been plunged into subzero temperatures of total darkness. Without pause, Darkedge spin-shoves the guard he hand into a wall as he slips into another smaller shadow and then out between the two to work on taking them down as silently as possible. And if he needs to shove a ruby dagger into their throats to keep them from screaming, so be it.

Letting the one man drop as the little shocker disk does a very good imitation of a taser, she yanks the other man out of his chair and slams him against the floor then stands pegs him with a second shocker disk just to be sure. "Security room clear. Coulson, how much longer for that key card lock?"

She steps over the two downed guards and starts watching the surveillance footage to see where there might be other people abot.

Click.

"It's done." No need to be quiet now, with every last guard in the building done for in rather brutal and efficient fashion; Isa takes hers down (he did fire a shot, but it hits the ceiling as she does; he goes unconscious from pain shortly thereafter), Darkedge does for his, and Melinda does for hers. When May takes the footage off the loop she'll find that they just took out every guard in the building.

The server room is massive, but Phil goes right to a terminal. He pulls out a SHIELD thumb drive, something that is smaller than an average one but which can hold every last spec of data in this room. It downloads faster, too. "If they have off-site checkins we're going to be in trouble soon," he says grimly, fingers flying. He starts the download process.

There is nothing he can do to speed this up either. It is a lot of data. They are largely unmolested for the duration, but it takes about 20 minutes to get the entire download done.

Finally, the indicator bar reaches 100, and he yanks the drive. "Let's go," he says, sealing it away in a small pouch in the inner pocket of his vest. "We're cutting this close as it is."

He looks left, he looks right, then dashes back the way they came, intent on leading them all back to the planes as quickly as possible. Maybe, just maybe, this will be a clean mission…

May knows better than to expect the mission to actually be this easy, but she certainly won't complain if it is. When Phil leads the way out, she doesn't hesitate to follow. She races back to her quinjet at a full sprint and moves to fast-start the engines.

Darkedge, you're going to want to secure yourself to a seat this time. Why? Because she's not going to leave him unprepared for emegency evasive maneuvers if someone did notice their infiltration. Yes, she wants him to seatbelt himself in, but she won't complain if he doesn't use the actual seatbelts, considering the metal components involved.

Easing her pistol back up to point to the ceiling, elbows crooked, Isa edges closer to Coulson as he works on extracting data. "Hopefully was not," she mutters, eye sliding over to the hallways closest to their position. As long as she can keep watch over the points of entry, she should be able to keep them off of Coulson.

That's the hypothesis, anyway. The truth is, she's not a combat specialist. She's no expert in the realm of hand-to-hand combat. Her talents lie above the ground, among the clouds. In truth, the whole series of events leaves her a little shaken, though she's good at covering it up. Isa Reichert has never shot a man before… but desperate times call for desperate measures.

She is a very desperate woman lately.

"Come on," she grunts, glancing back at Coulson and urging him to shake a leg. For all she knows there's already a security detail headed their way, and so she heads the other way, straight back to the quinjet at a dog-trot. Her Stetchkin is held at the ready, and the closer they get to the aircraft, the faster she seems to go; practically sprinting for the cockpit.

The Stetchkin is quickly and brutally jammed into its holster in the cargo box behind her seat; she throws herself into the seat itself, fumbling a moment with the harness and keying in the ignition sequence she knows now by heart. Her fingers tap irritably on the console in discordant rhythm. Can't these turbines fire any faster?

"Almost there," she comments to Coulson, the most she's said since confirming she'd been ready to go. Her foot bobs impatiently. It's her time for the come on, come on, come on face, and Isa's foot-tapping gets faster and more insistent. "Just need to start up… come on. Engines one through four online, turbines one and two – online! Buckle your harness, Phillip Coulson! I do not think we are on radar, but you never know!"

The last is given in a triumphant crow as she brings the quinjet up, ascent smooth. The warbird thunders as she waits for Melinda May's aircraft to do the same.

«Reichert to May. Follow my heading, we will be leaving on bearing—» Isa stops her transmission, face turning white as her eye drops to the radar. There are pings on its display. It's lighting up like a Christmas tree, suggesting that not only are they no longer alone, it's turning into a veritable party out here. The distant thunder of aircraft engines are audible.

Isa swears and gives the console in front of her a hard shot with a gloved fist.

«May. Have hostile inbound. Count ten, twelve… more. Fucking wonderful,» Isa rasps into her radio. «Am not sure if radar is reading false positive. Can't see how would be so many in shithole like this. Am watching your six. May be false alarm, but won't take chance.»

Twenty minutes. More than enough time for an elf to poke around. Darkedge, mind locked onto May's reporting in at every step, uses the shadows to move through the base. He looks at everything, telling May or when words fail simply sharing his sight and showing her hat he sees. Fi tis' something she seems interested in and it's small, he'lll grab it and bring it to her before stepping through the shadows again, looking for hte next thing.

And there's no magic anywhere. This trip was a waste of his time in that regard.

When things get moving again, Darkedge goes with May, silver eyes looking at her as she orders he strap himself in. His mind wordlessly requests directions as to how, and he does so. It's a little tricky, given as he has to keep the metal from touching skin. The magic of his clothing seems.. unhappy at the metal pressed so tightly to him, but for the moment the elf is unharmed. He looks over at May, face unconcerned and impassive as he doesn't understand any of what's happening. Well, except tht there are potential nasties. He leans forward to loko out the window. He wonders, as his hand drifts to unbuckle himself… Is there a shadow crossing over the window of that foe's metal craft?

Coulson straps himself in with the practiced ease of a fellow who has been getting in and out of nasty situations in various aircraft for over 3 decades. He gets on the comm. "Negative, there's too many of them to try to take as a unit. May, take an alternate route. I repeat, take alternate route. I don't think our cloaking is fooling them…"

A flurry of missiles streak after both Quinjets. Most of them are the same kind of craft that was in the hangar, though there is one out in front that seems to be of an older model. And they do, indeed, seem to effortlessly target past the cloaking device. They fly in formation, with the older jet at the head of the V; clearly speed is not necessarily the innovation here. It's a formation that, at the moment, seems fit to pulverize both planes unless there's some real fancy flying real fast. And it's one Coulson is intent on breaking up with those orders. It's not a good course of action, but it's better than all the alternatives. Sometimes in the field the options are Bad, Worse, and Way Worse. So he opts for Bad.

In the meantime, he pulls out a SHIELD laptop and plugs the hard drive in. He sets up a satellite uplink. He is uploading all the data back to home base on the fly. It's not ideal. This set up is guaranteed to corrupt data. But if they go down, he wants to know that he's sent as much as possible onward.

"Straight up, Reichert. Max altitude, now," is May's only reply to both Isa and Phil, and her quinjet keeps shooting straight up like a released helium balloon. She knows exactly what the rated and actual ceiling is for these jets, and she intends to push it, knowing that there are almost no other birds out there capable of following.

It's going to take several moments to reach the ceiling, but hopefully their cloaked quinjets will go unnoticed and they can proceed from there.

Oh, and Darkedge? Ever ridden an elevator? This feels like that, but much, MUCH worse.

With the threat of pursuit weighing down on them, the red-headed pilot seems to fall into a trance. She is one with her machinery, gloved hands reaching to flick toggles and switches with practised ease. Her hand settles over the throttle, the other on the stick, and the engines roar as she brings her quinjet up.

Cloaking may defeat visual surveillance, but it doesn't do much about the noise levels.

Isa Reichert eyes her radar balefully and spits another curse.

"Wonder if engineer stayed late. Called security. Where else are those bastard coming from?" She flicks a hand at the radar as she eases it off the throttle. "Buckle harness tight, Phillip Coulson. We are leaving. Fast."

The quinjet turns its nose to the northwest, and its engines scream as Isa pushes it into a dead run. It's not possible to outrun a pack of missiles, but maybe she can defeat their targetting systems if she flies unpredictably enough. Anything she can do to dissipate the monstrous heat signature of those turbines…

There's a sound like thunder, and the screech of tortured metal. "We are hit!"

At this point a lot of other pilots might be panicking over the situation, but Isa merely sets her jaw, fixes her glittering eye on the instrumentation, and turns her craft into a hard yaw to starboard; veering ever northward.

"Hold on to laptop," she advises. "Have uninvited guest. Number one of that squadron… can't get him off. Something different about aircraft. Older, I think."

The quinjet turns itself in a roll, trying to streak away from the squadron of deadly aircraft. One quinjet is no match for a full escort or attack squadron.

"Go away," she snarls at her radar. "Ostav'te menja v pokoe—"

There is a sound like thunder, accompanied by a tortured screech of metal. "Raketa; raketa…!" the red-headed pilot roars, over the din. "Missile! We are hit!" Very suddenly the quinjet is slewing sideways, and Isa is snarling every curse she knows. Just when it seems her vocabulary is exhausted, she continues on with a fresh burst of rage.

It wobbles, but she manages to bring the quinjet onto a level heading. It won't last forever – but it's going to last, at least for now, through sheer willpower on Isa's part.

"Who in Hell is that pilot?! I will pay him back with interest…!"

Hand on the release, the view shifts too quickly for Darkedge to have spotted what he needed and done anything about it. The jet takes off and he's pressed back into the seat with an audible grunt pressed from his throat. There's nothing he can do but hang on and wait.

Four split off to streak up into the sky after May; they apparently have a good ceiling too. Her sudden up-altitude does little for the missiles as well; though she is outrunning them for the time being. Something will have to be done about those if May doesn't want her craft hit as well. The four reform their wing into a spear that keeps pace with the Calvalry and her darkling passenger, not thrown off in the slightest.

Meanwhile, the other eight reform and start forming a box pattern around Isa's jet. Two are pushing under them to try to get ahead; two come to port and starboard. The pilot in the older plane remains firmly fixed behind them, winged by the final small craft.

Phil is holding on, but he calls, "Can you even keep this thing in the air with two hits?" He's working furiously now, splitting data into smaller packets to get it out just as fast as he can, steady even though this has gone very pear-shaped.

A light on the dashboard. "They're hailing us," he observes. May's craft receives no such hail, but she's got her own problems, because they are about to make another firing run on her.

"They probably are going to demand that we land," he says grimly.

Okay, so much for evading by going straight up. May mutters a rather foul curse in Cambodian and abruptly slews the controls to the side, bent on catching up with Isa and Phil. The quinjet's engines immediately scream a mechanical protest as she pushes them to max forward acceleration so soon, and within seconds she's screaming past the planes chasing her, very likely leading their own missiles back to them. It's a REALLY risky move, but it's not like she hasn't done similar before.

"Hang on," she tells the elf needlessly. The ride's just gone from elevator to staccato rollercoaster. Her aim? To thread the needle between the four after her.

The red-headed pilot has her eye glued on the radar, risking a quick glance out the canopy every so often to confirm the running lights of the aircraft she can see. They're forming a cage arond her, and already she can feel the prickling of the skin at the back of her neck.

It's the same sense that tells her something is wrong. That she is being watched, hunted, stalked; that the men flying these fighters are more like wolves than men.

"No," Isa says, tightly, and she doesn't bother sugar-coating the truth for Coulson. He was nice enough to give her the straight truth whenever she asked for it, so the least she can do is to return the favour, even if it means the outlook is grim. "Can keep in air for little while. But don't know what was hit. No time to survey. Will keep aloft as long as possible."

That may not be long. She can hear the steady buzzer-tone of a missile lock. There are at least six of them, overtones discordant amongst themselves. It's a horrible, horrible noise to a pilot's ears.

"Stepped in shit this time," she grunts, eye dancing over the instruments as she processes that they're being hailed. Reaching up, she flicks a toggle overhead.

«Break off,» she snarls into the tightband in Russian, looking sidelong to note the birds still "escorting" her own. «We are leaving. Why did you fire? Or is this restricted airspace? I was not under that impression.»

She flicks the toggle off again, eyeing the instruments nervously. The quinjet is starting to develop a very faint list to one side. It might not even be enough for Coulson to notice, but it's enough for her to notice, and it makes her nervous.

"If they feel like target practise, Phillip Coulson, we are dead." Isa licks dry lips. "Maybe, can keep them talking. Find out who they are, what they want. Da?"

May's gambit works like a charm to take out two of the craft; the other two split in a beautiful display of flight craftsmanship in their own right. They flip in the air, moving upside down in a move that might well cause some pilots to black right out, allowing them to switch directions on a dime and pursue. The engines scream and two break off from Isa's jet; one from the back, one from the front, intent on reforming on May's 9:00. They fire more missiles, positioned to do so far more quickly than the Fantastic Flippers above.

"If they felt like target practice they wouldn't be hailing," Phil agrees, though he watches the radar with deep concern. It really, really worries him that one jet is being set up for a forced landing while the other is being set up for a kill. And with two hits, it may be up to May to save them while they keep the conversation going.

Good thing he has a long-standing policy of trusting Melinda May with his life.

In the meantime he does come up with an idea. He radios May. "May, can you have Darkedge do that shadow walk thing into their cockpits? Tell him he can slit all the throats he wants."

Isa answers the hail, and a smooth-as-honey voice that she will well recognize comes over the comms. «Raya, darling, be a dear and land the craft. It's time for you to come home to your loving husband.»

Thick acrid smoke trails from the second quinjet of the flight where two missiles had struck it. One of them devastated the verniers on the port wing; the other had chewed right through the aileron on the starboard wing, leaving scorch marks and a partial hole.

It's still possible to fly the aircraft like this, but it won't be able to land vertically. Isa will have to find a runway, and pray that the damaged ailerons don't wrench it right off the pavement.

That would be bad.

What is worse, however, is the voice on the other end of the radio.

This close, Coulson will have absolutely no way to miss the way her breath catches; the dialation of her lone pupil as she clutches at the controls.

She knows that voice.

She had dreamt about that voice for five years.

«Misha!» It's a breath of – not quite relief. Concern, maybe. «What are you doing? Call these attack dogs off! I have already been struck! What—what are you doing?!»

Why in the blue blazes is he in the cockpit of… whatever weird-ass thing it is he's flying in? And why does the cockpit look so misshapen? There's a bulge behind the cockpit, as though it had extra something incorporated into its design, but not like the rounded fuselage of the Fulcrums she'd once seen, or the hunchbacked Sukhois… it doesn't look right. The engineering side of her mind can't figure why it's even there.

She can't help herself but to add on: «And what in the Hell are you flying? No; why in the hell are you flying? Wh—what's going on, Misha…?»

"You heard him, Darkedge. Go have fun." And she tries to time it so her 'jet's wind screen gives the elf a brief but clear view of the interior of one of the pursuing jets before having to evade again. She's already noticed that Isa's jet is being handled with proverbial kid gloves, and that really just makes her all the more annoyed. She targets the other jet with the equivalent of a snap shot and fires a missle at it.

That was all Darkedge needed to hear. Buckles released, Darkedge focuses his gaze on the aircraft, finds the shadows of the cockpit and steps right in… only to find the cock pit empty.

If a human is suppose to command these, this one is an oddity he sends at May, and May alone. He's learned the feel of her mind against his, but not the others. Diamond blades slide into his hands from his sleeves and he steps to the console. He has no idea what any of these things do, so… wait… there's crystal in there. Small, but there's enough. And he needed more gems anyway. One blade retreats back into his sleeve and the elf reaches out a hand to the console. For a moment, nothing, but it's all under the surface. His magic reaches out, locates teh small sicilate crystalline structures of the circuitry and he pulls it toward his hand. The shard, maybe two inches long and a half inche thick punctures the metal and the elf collects it.

He looks up as the plane starts to nose dive for the ground. He needs another flying thing to get into. Quinjet or enemy, he cares not. Well, if enemy and there's a human pilot…. As soon as he finds one, he steps.

Darkedge gets another cockpit with no passenger; it is one of the ones on Isa's jet, this time, one off the port. He can see the smoke spiralling off of Isa's; two missiles isn't exactly kid gloves, but they are definitely trying for a capture. Meanwhile May takes out a third jet; it spirals to the ground. Now she knows it's not taking anyone with her. That leaves two on her, and it leaves six on Isa's jet, until two more are forced to break and attack, one from each side. The ranks are definitely thinning.

Isa demands to know what's going on. Phil has an answer.

"He's betrayed you," Phil says quietly. "He's working for them. Those are Icarus jets. He's leading a pack of jets just like the one in that hangar and he's trying to force us down to get to you. He made a big show of being in New York, now he's here. He didn't do that without their help."

Phil did hit the mute button before making that opinion, to keep their side of the conversation private.

Misha says, «I'm going to fix you, Raya. Just land the plane and surrender. It's all going to be all right.» He sounds every inch the solicitous if now somewhat mad and overbearing husband, intent on "fixing" things for the little lady.

Phil unmutes her side of the conversation, keeping careful track. He's not going to have enough jets to force the landing if May and Darkedge keep this up.

Spotting the one plane now starting to fall and having been informed by Darkedge that they're being attacked by drones, May doesn't wait to see if she managed to shoot down the other jet. She cuts around and maneuvers so that the Elf can hop back over here at the same time as report in a terse manner, "Coulson, they're drones." And then she's trying to catch up with Isa and her 'escorts' while flying with one hand and hastily punching buttons and toggles on her console. Please oh please don't let them have upgraded the software to remove that comm system glitch…

Despite the situation Isa's hand on the controls is steel-true. She fights against the turbulence of low altitude and damaged mechanisms. That vernier is a problem, knocking out vertical operations, but not as much of a problem as that wrecked aileron. The aileron means basic manoeuvrability.

Isa listens to the voice on the other side of the radio, crackling and grainy, but still recognisable as her husband's. It's a twist of the knife but not because she had waited for so long to hear it.

It's a twist of the knife because—

WHACK. Her gloved hand slams down on the console in front of her.

«Stop talking nonsense!» Isa roars into the mic, spine arching at the force of her command, and in between his frantic efforts Coulson might see the twitch of her pulse at her throat in her anger and distress. «What in the Hell are you going to fix? You impossible and stupid man, I have been looking for you for months! I thought you were dead! What are you going on about? You are the one who needs to come home!»

There is a thread of doubt in her voice. A premonition of something terrible, turning a cold coil in her gut. He doesn't sound right. This is not the logical and meticulous man she had once known, the one who had always treated her with kindness. This is the voice of a man who is insane; who cleaves to his own beliefs, no matter how insane they are.

«Fix what, Mikhail Nikolayevich? Start making sense. And break those aircraft off! What are you doing, training missiles on your wife? Are you trying to get me killed?»

But she risk a frantic glance at Coulson; one that shows him just a glimpse of the grasping terror scrabbling at her heart. It's her greatest fear that he's right…

…and so far, it sounds like he's right. The man she had known so intimately for eight years is making no sense at all. He sounds mad.

«I cannot land,» she says instead, aiming to buy more time. «In case you hadn't noticed, your carelessness has damaged the verniers. My port aileron isn't working. If I come down too fast I'm going to yaw right off the runway.»

She could land, chiefly by crashing it, but she doesn't want to give him that satisfaction until she understands what in the hell is going on here. Never mind that she doesn't really want to alarm Coulson.

Isa thumbs the mute switch. "Phillip Coulson, that is not a complete lie. I will have to crash this quinjet to land it. But do not worry. I think I can do it without getting us killed."

Oh, that's comforting.

She thumbs the mute switch again. «Talk to me, Mikhail Nikolayevich,» she pleads, but there's a thread of wariness to her voice.

The elf appears just behind May, the blade slithering back up his sleeve so he once again looks weaponless. He grabs the back of her chair. I can disable them. Let me see another. sends the elf, eyes searching out the viewing window. There is urgency in his mental touch, and the moent May gives him a clear view of another, he's off, repeating his take the crystals from the innerds and then stepping back to May.

It might be just as well that Darkedge returns to May's side when he does, for May manages to scramble the communications. There is an awful SHRIEK feedback sound from across all comms; it makes Mikhail Nikolayevich cry out in sudden surprise. The drones start veering off, unable to communicate with whatever it is that is commanding them; they slam into one another, or simply nose dive to the ground. One of them does veer right into the wing of Isa's jet; Coulson cries out as he's thrown this way and that, the restraints not quite enough to keep him from being rattled around like he's a sudden victim of Shaken Level 8 Agent Syndrome.

Mikhail's craft breaks off abruptly. With no more drones to work with, he is suddenly in an unenviable position. Isa may be going down no matter what, but Melinda May is up there, and while he doesn't know who he is dealing with he knows what he is dealing with: a superior pilot who he does not want to tangle with.

He drops altitude suddenly, whips his plane around in an eye-searing maneuver that shows his own incredible skill…and then?

They can't see him hit a particular switch on his plane, but it activates a drive that triples his speed, leaving all of them in the proverbial dust as he streaks off on a heading towards St. Petersburg. There's no catching him, not until their own technology catches up. But hey, they did just steal a whole bunch of data from Icarus. Some of it even got to SHIELD. All of it might get there if, you know, they don't become a flaming ball of horrific wreckage in the next several minutes.

Melinda and Darkedge have definitely done their part to keep Phil and Isa alive and uncaptured.

Now it's Isa's turn.

The world abruptly tilts as one of the drones slews sideways, straight into the quinjet that Isa Reichert is struggling to control. She cries out in what sounds more like rage than fear or dismay, wrestling with a stubborn yoke that refuses to stay in one place.

There comes a screeching, wrenching sound of metal as the supersonic drone is dragged into the quinjet's already-damaged vernier. It crashes through the vernier and its swing-wing vane; crushes the vane itself into part of a wing. It crumples like an aluminium can crushed in the hand.

She could have dealt with the rest of it… but not one of the turbines on the rear quarter of the jet. That's a crippling, potentially lethal blow.

"Phillip Coulson!" Isa's shout comes over the sudden plethora of warning buzzers on the HUD system. There are more of them joining in every second. "That was a turbine! I could have landed, I think, if we had not been struck there, but—"

The explosion comes next.

It sounds like the roar of a thousand lions as what's left of the turbine ignites against the obstruction that rips into it at speed. It's a sound that isn't heard as much as it is felt; deafening, but also the kind of intense and powerful sound that rips right through a person's very body.

That sound is exactly the sound she did not want to hear.

That sound draws fear from the red-headed pilot; real and wide-eyed terror. Her hands are frantic as they skip over the controls, trying to restore some semblance of control. But there is nothing to control. The quinjet is now spinning wildly out of control at this point, spiralling toward the earth, trailing not just smoke but bright flame.

"We are finished!" she throws over her shoulder, looking to Coulson in one last desperate moment. Her blue eye is terrified; haunted, even as she laughs the too-quick laugh of the hysterical. "<He is not my husband any more! What has he done? He has killed us both! Ah, God, I cannot control it…! He has gone insane!»" Again that hysterical, terrified laughter as she wrenches the controls, keeping the quinjet on as straight a track as she can manage. It isn't very straight. "He tried to kill me!>"

She does, though, because her frantic efforts have not stopped. The quinjet has not spiralled and plunged toward the earth uncontrolled. It's spiralling quickly, and the aircraft is very much finished, but rigt now she could still save it. Still tries, with all her might.

"Filya!" She has to shout to be heard over the cockpit warnings. That name might get Phil's attention – it's the Russian diminutive of his own name, a sign of trust, a name used between close associates. It's a name she had not until now used. "I would like to share a secret with you! It will be my last, I think!"

Isa risks a look back at Phil; he might see the track of a tear beneath her eye, through the soot that now stains it. There's smoke drifting into the cockpit from further aft.

"I wish you had stayed after all…!"

May winces at the feedback shriek, then snatches the comm link out of her ear and lets it fall to the floor. "Darkedge, tell Coulson that I want to try a mother whale to keep them from hitting the ground." Hopefully, Phil will remember what that means and relay it to Reichert. Regardless of a reply, though, she pushes her jet to chase after Isa's and try and stop the uncontrolled fall. Threading the needle before was risky. This is certifiably insane.

The elf nods and searches fo the feel of Phil's mind. Once found, Darkedge relies the message exactly as it was said.

"Yeah. Me too," Phil calls back. "I also wish we'd worn chutes."

He sounds…actually remarkably calm, despite having to yell to be heard. If this is his day to die, well, that's a little sad, but…every day is pretty much almost always that day. He has made his peace with that, and has to make his peace with the possibility of anyone he orders onto a mission dying. Including those he cares about.

Then Phil starts as Darkedge touches his orderly mind, and he shouts, "She's pulling a Mother Whale! Do…whatever you can do!"

Cause he has no idea how baby whales assist mother whales with this. This is a sheer pilot thing. His contribution is now 'hold on, shut up.'

Engines shriek and scream. May pushes that craft to the limit; there's a heart stopping moment where she might well have cause to think she's going to lose it. The dying plane is tilting dangerously, looking ready to flip, and then…

Then the Calvary lives up to her most hated nickname. Her jet swoops under Isa's. Metal shrieks on metal. Sparks fly. The planes struggle to synch with one another, locked in a deadly lifesaving dance that could well end in May and Darkedge's plane becoming its own set of flaming wreckage. If both the women at the helms were not such incredible pilots this would be suicide for all four people (well, perhaps three, if Darkedge could somehow shadow-step at the last minute).

Instead, it is a thing of beauty, an aerial feat that really ought to go down in history, were there anyone to witness it from the exterior.

For a moment the Russian pilot seems almost blank, uncomprehending at the explanation given to her. Is this some kind of weird slang of the English language? This is not the time for linguistic gaps.

Thinking literally of the phenomenon brings her to blink for a precious second and a half, after which she puts her full effort into keeping her aircraft from nosing down.

The broken stone and snow below don't look very welcoming. Isa has no illusions about their chances for survival if she has to bring the quinjet down there without vertical capabilities. It's flying far too fast for a safe landing; touching the earth would only rip it apart.

It's burning.

"<Why now?>" Isa rails against her fate even as she's drawn into it, giving the console another hard shot with her fist. "<I am not ready to die! Not now! I will not give that insane piece of shit the satisfaction! That is not my husband, and this is not my day to die!>"

The quinjet screeches as another sheet of its aluminium skin is ripped away, glowing red-hot where the fire has burned.

Isa reaches up and flicks her mute toggle hastily, barking into the radio in her broken English. It's hard to hear her over all the cockpit alarms blaring, plus the scream of her quinjet's turbines.

«Abort, Agent May! Will get us both killed! Have fire on my quinjet; am going to try to land it!» She snarls. «Stay on course; have rescue team ready to come in, maybe!»

But for the time being, Melinda May's quinjet keeps her own from plunging into the snowfield. It'll buy her the time she needs to… what? Do what, exactly? There aren't very many roads out of this situation.

"Am going to try landing quinjet," she grounds out between gritted teeth, wrapping her hands around the controls. "Shut up. Is going to take all concentration I have."

«Agent May, am going to disengage from your craft. Am going to try to land. Will be rough landing. Have no choice; will set your quinjet on fire.» Isa looks at the instruments for a long moment, expression bleak. «Can't fly much longer. Get data. Get back to SHIELD. Am going to try to set down gently as possible. Am not sure of chances. Copy—?»

May's earbud was fried by that feedback spike, so she doesn't hear what Isa's trying to relay to her. But she's already got antoher idea in mind. "Darkedge, go pull them here." She honestly has no idea if that's even possible, but if he can try, it'll be worth it. Then she can just let the other 'jet fall.

For her own part, she just keeps fighting her own jet's controls, forcing it to take the brunt of the other jet's fall. They're still falling, that's for certain, but at least now they won't tumble on the way down.

The elf glances at May for a moment, then nods once. Make it darker, he requests, stepping back and away from May while his mind reaches for Phil's. Phil Coulson. Make your craft's innerds as shadowed as you can. And then, he steps, up into the cabin above them. Blade in hand, Darkedge calls out. Grab, hold. Close eyes. Don't let go. It will be cold. He waits a moment for whomever is catching a lift to grab him.

May darkens the interior of her jet as much as she can, then continues fighting the controls to try and keep both jets as steady as possible while Darkedge tries to pull the two back with him. Now she's making a c'mon c'mon c'mon face… at the same time as concentrating on flying.

Something ripples in the shadows behind her chair, and Isa jerks to twist around, staring at something impossible. Is that an elf? What's up with those pointy ears? But this is absolutely not the time to be gawking like a tourist, because the instant she does, she can hear metal screeching as May's quinjet takes on more and more of the resistance.

That's not good. That's not good at all.

"You!" Isa twists her head to bark an order at Darkedge, voice booming over the cockpit alarms. "Take Coulson! Bring him to May's quinjet! Am going to land this, or it will bring hers down too and kill us all!"

Her eye flicks to Coulson, something like fire and steel in it – pain, too, and sorrow, because this may well be her end – but fire and steel. She's got the problem in her teeth, and now she's going to bite down. She's going to fix this in the best way that she knows how, because there's no simple shrugging off the burning wreckage she's carrying without damage.

Someone's going to have to steer the mess.

"Pass on to May for me. Have rescue crew ready. Now, take Coulson and go!" Isa cries, turning back to the controls. "Tell May to swing wide; get away from my quinjet!"

She's frightened; Coulson will see that much in the brief instant. She's terrified. She knows by this point that the fire has engulfed one of the turbines, which will probably explode if it hasn't already, and that the fire is still spreading. It will reach the other turbine, and then she'll have thrust on only one side of the aircraft. That's bad. If it eats another turbine, she's a goner.

Her face is white with anger and fear. But she forces herself an unsteady smile, for Coulson's benefit.

"Goodbye, Filya," she calls to him. "Don't die…!"

Isa waits the second or two necessary for the elf ot abscond with her passenger and his data. And then, when it's clear that the only things left on the aircraft are her and a whole lot of fire, she swings her gaze forward with a snarl of challenge.

"<Alright, you son of a bitch, let's see what's left in you. Just hold me long enough to set down,>" she pleads, eyes darting between the instruments as fast as she can see them. "<Just a few kilometers. That's all I need. Just a few more fucking kilometers; is that so much to ask?>"

May will feel the controls of her jet suddenly loosen as Isa's quinjet pulls away. It lurches as soon as it does, nearly rolling and trailing wisps of flame, and a cloud of thick, black smoke.

It doesn't look good at all.

Engines scream, and Isa's voice raises with them, a hoarse, harsh cry like an eagle's; an outlet to her rage and pain as she fights the crippled quinjet.

From May's quinjet, the trio might see Isa's aircraft pull up a little. For a momen it almost seems like it might be able to regain altitude.

Then, the engine explodes.

Bright flame fireballs over the outermost turbine on its right wing. More of that smoke billows from the red-hot wreckage. For a split second it holds its course, and then, abruptly, the nose lurches downward. The quinjet streaks for the earth at an angle that is decidedly unsafe even to someone who isn't a pilot. It struggles in midair to right itself, and at the last moment it seems to gain some kind of proper angle of attack.

And then the earth rises up to meet it.

Trailing flame and smoke, the quinjet sounds like thunder when it finally impacts the tundra, metal screaming like a living thing as it warps and twists and ruptures. Another turbine bursts into flame; a third gives way.

The fire in the engines reaches critical mass. Bright flame erupts as the middle of the quinjet simply crumples in on itself, the engine fires finally reaching the fuel tanks in the fuselage. It's not an insignificant explosion, though the cockpit still looks like it might be salvageable.

It's not a pretty picture for Isa Reichert, though.

"Uhhh…"

Phil thinks fast. He draws his 9 mm and shoots out the lights, the only way he can reach them to do anything but. He's thinking that Isa's going to be on the ride he's about to hitch. He grabs the elf's arm, one hand coming to rest on the back of the elf's left side.

Isa's telling the elf to take him. "Wait! No, you're taking this ride! I order you to…"

She's passing on instructions. "God damn it, Raya!" It's one of the few times that Phil loses his shit, when he realizes a member of his team is about to do something to endanger herself, even if she has good, solid, professional reasons for it. There is certainly emotion informing his decision to try to force her to…

And then darkness. Darkness and cold. Phil gasps, but he instinctively holds tighter to the elf. When he finds himself in the cockpit of the other quinjet, in sudden warmth, he gasps, a shudder running through him. He reaches out to try to steady the elf when he realizes his hand is hot with the other man's blood.

He grits his teeth, but he's got information to pass on. "Swing wide," he orders, his tone brooking no argument. "Then land as close as you can."

He's pissed. He's scared for the red-headed pilot. But he does bring up the com on his watch, barking orders, relieving his fury, frustration, and fear in the only way that he can – with action. He does it even as he flinches, even as he watches the engine explode, even as he watches the smoke rise from the earth. His face is pale and grim, and he looks at Darkedge. "I don't think you'd better jump after her in your condition. We'll land close as we can, pull her out. May, can you get this bus to the nearest SHIELD facility?"

Because rescue crews are not going to be close enough, not this deep into Russia.

The moment he appeared, Darkedge was already gathering himself for another step. But the other craft was moving away, and his shoulder was starting to complain more than he could ignore and function past. His face turns, tracking the shadows until, with a wince Darkedge recoils from thebrightness of the explosion, since he had shoved the mask up to his forehead. He hadn't even registered Phil steadying him, though he needed it.

The attempt can be made, though there may no longer be shadows dark enough to carry her back… In his send is the first twinges of pain.

The moment Darkedge and Phil arrive and the other jet pulls clear May is cursing. The Mandarin isn't stopping, and it's all extremely angry. But, she does as Phil said and swings wide. The other 'jet actually crashing has her uncharacteristically slamming one hand against the console. She circles the wreckage, trying to find a place to land, the Elf's send making her clench her jaw briefly. "No."

The jet settles probably dangerously close to its crashed companion. "This is my job." And she's all but stomping out of the jet. She does at least snatch a small fire extinguisher off of the wall on her way out.

The quinjet's nose had smashed into the ground at a slight angle, causing the jet to slew sideways through a snowbank, piling the white stuff up beside it. It hisses and bubbles where the fires melt it away. Bare stone is visible beneath. The little fire extinguisher May grabs on her way out of her own aircraft is almost laughable in the face of the inferno roaring over the latter half of Isa's quinjet.

There's no hope of hitching a ride through the shadows. The fire rings around the cockpit, and it's probably only luck that it hasn't managed to burn its way through just yet.

Any attempt to raise a signal from the stricken quinjet meets with silence. Either the crash knocked out the communications, the fire chewed through something important, or – perhaps the most harrowing – the pilot is unable to respond.

No movement is visible until the SHIELD agents get closer to the front of the quinjet. It's quiet except for the ticking of heating metal; the deafening rush of flames, and the occasional explosion as the fire happens across something more combustible.

They may well have to shatter the cockpit glass to get in. There's fire everywhere, the doors won't work, and the cockpit itself is crumpled where Coulson had been sitting; if he had ridden it down with her, he would be dead. As it is, half the cockpit is smashed in like a child's toy.

The other half isn't much better. It avoided a lethal impact, but only barely.

Isa Reichert lies limp, sagged against her harness. Blood seeps from her forehead where her head had been struck against the console, leaving a trail down the line of her jaw, pooling in her lap. At least one arm and leg are twisted at an unnatural angle where her side of the cockpit had been smashed; her head lolls – perhaps lifelessly, if Coulson is scared enough not to study her closely.

But she is breathing. Barely. Choking, in the smoke that's beginning to waft into the cockpit from the warped doorframe aft. It can't be opened, but it's bent enough to allow smoke in.

She looks like being dead would probably be a kindness. Blunt trauma is the order of the day; broken bones, fractures, lacerations and possibly a concussion. Her breathing is laboured; there are probably broken ribs. There's no telling how long she'll continue to breathe if she doesn't get medical care and get it soon.

It looks like a mess, but it's also a testament to Isa's skill. All four of them could be dead now if May were still towing the burning wreck. And if Darkedge hadn't rescued Coulson, he would probably be dead, too.

Instead, the only possible casualty here is the Russian.

May uses the extinguisher sparingly, kicking snow over flames where she can until she can get to the cockpit windshield. Once she's there she tosses the canister aside and pulls a pair of short spike blaces from her vest and attacks the windshield with them. Normally they wouldn't stand a chance, but the with existing damage, she's able to punch through after a few vicious stabs and then she's using them to peel the windscreen back like a sardine can lid.

"Isa, damnit, wake up!" She's not expecting any reaction, though, and she clambers in to get the redhead loose from her restraints. Then she's bodily hefting the woman out again and hopefully Phil will be there by now to help her get Reichert free.

She can smell spilled fuel. The grenade's pin has been pulled, they need to get clear. Now.

There is no reaction from the redhead. For a moment her lone eye flutters as though it were going to open, but she lolls against the other woman. Her strength is gone. It's taking all she has in her just to continue breathing. Even that sounds laboured and rasping; almost bubbling. Her lung is probably punctured, possibly by a broken rib.

It's as the other pilot is retreating from the stricken quinjet that Isa manages a reaction. She wakes with a jerk and a ragged gasp, immediately protesting in rapid-fire Russian. "<No! Get away from here; it's going to—>" She can't maintain speech, trailing off into ugly-sounding wracking, wet coughing.

All she can do is sag against May, single eye unseeing.

All she can really do is hope that Coulson was able to get away, too, because at least one of them will survive this mess.

"Hospital," Isa rasps, face absolutely devoid of colour. Her complexion is really and truly ashen in that moment. Even the croak of her voice feels desperate; she knows something is wrong. Several somethings. The pain is exquisite. "Have to… get away… from wreckage…"

May charges out in a fury. She's going to need help, and Phil makes his way out of the jet with Melinda, ready to provide support after grabbing the emergency kit and some blankets. His mouth is a grim, tight line. He marks the fact that he owes the elf his life now; good thing that he'd trusted May's judgment there. He hadn't gotten the impression Darkedge had liked him very much, but nevertheless, here he is, breathing because of the WAND asset's timely assistance. The other casualty is Darkedge himself, and he has no idea how badly hurt the other man actually is. Brave enough to keep at it though. That, too, is marked.

He is going to let May take lead on smashing the cockpit open and retrieving the pilot. There's only so much she can probably be safely moved, but they're going to have to risk it. He wraps a blanket around her and helps May get her moved. He makes space for Darkedge to help too when the other man draws close to them, because the faster the three of them can move the deadweight of the unconscious woman's body, the better. Even as she awakes and starts mumbling the three way help is for the best.

They're going to get out of there just in the nick of time. The boom is well clear of where May expertly landed the other quinjet. Phil begins giving Isa basic medical attention as soon as they're inside. "You hush," he tells her, anger and relief doing double time in his voice. "<You hush and you live. Those are direct god damn orders.>"

Then, grimly in English:

"Melinda. Get us the Hell out of here before this goes any more pear-shaped." She doesn't need the order, but he gives it anyway.

Strange drones that are not fooled by cloaking devices, weird turbo-engines, and a host of other problems. Icarus clearly was more dangerous than they'd even had cause to believe. But the data that will tell them exactly what happened here today…and how to counter it, once it's given to Stark and other engineers, and perhaps even what the greater scheme of things is? Well. That is still safe and sound in the pouch in Phil's vest.

Time to make the absolute most of it.

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