One Lucky Shot

April 17, 2015:

Peggy and Steve hunt down and confront Shift in Indonesia.

Gunawan Farm - Indonesia


NPCs: Hadi Gunawan


Mood Music: The Hand That Feeds - NIN

Fade In…

Somewhere in Indonesia

A large crater lingers in the midst of the rice paddies of Hadi Gunawan. For the past few days, the farmer has enlisted help from the man who came from that crater. Kwabena has tried to explain to Hadi that he is called 'Shift', but all Hadi can refer to him as is, 'Space Man'.

This is about as remote as it gets. The voices in his head have been gone, leaving him to rot in his own confusion and ambiguity. The only thing that seems to echo on and on in his subconscious are the words he'd spoken in Dangme. Their translation easy. Hail The Hydra.

"Space Man!" Hadi comes out of his small house, trudging through the waters toward where Shift is working. "Ahhh, Space Man! You work, ah, too long! Come, inside, we eat! Yes?"

"Alright." Shift turns and trudges through the rice paddies, headed back toward Hadi Gunawan's meager abode. One thing's for certain, the farmer sure knows how to cook.


With the information from the SHIELD satellites of where Kwabena's trajectory would roughly deposit him it was only a matter of time before the found the most likely area where Shift landed. If he was even still there. It's a place to start, of course, and so it is that Peggy and Steve find themselves once again in the air to try and find Shift in Indonesia.

It's strange for her to find herself in the air so often. While she was not a stranger to planes during the war, afterward they were something mostly to be avoided. As such, she double checks everything: the gear, the special weapon from Fitzsimmons. Her hair is for once uncharacteristically straight, pulled back into a simple pony tail, pins keeping the shorter strands from getting too much in her face.


Steve sits at the controls, looking out over the vast green lands of Indonesia below. He's always had some difficulty in coming to trust the mechanical devices that scan—it's an idea completely foreign to him. Yet, that seems like the only way they'll end up finding this needle in a giant haystack.

"You alright?" he asks Peg as he looks back into the plane as he can sense her fidgeting. "We'll find him," he says more to reassure her than himself. For him, he's not so sure.


The scanning devices do eventually ping upon the crater in Hadi Gunawan's rice fields. The crater is highlighted upon the long range scans, and after a few moments, the computer delivers a message confirming it to be the most likely deposit point.

It's not far. A quick course adjustment and they ought to be able to land in minutes.


Peggy's never learned to fly. While both Howard and Jarvis were able to, it was never something in her own training, so it's left to Steve to pilot. Steve's question is given a smile. "I'm fine," she assures. "I just don't trust planes." Too many bad things happen while in them. Their last mission is a testament to that.

"And yes, we will. At least this time we're better prepared and we know what we're up against." Though 'who' exactly is still up for debate. While Steve may not sound so sure, she does.


"Scanners found something," Steve says with a renewed interest in the panels. "I'm going to start the incog processing." That's new fangled language for 'making us hide better on approach.'

Once that's over he pulls the plane downward a great deal of distance from the crater, finding a stretch of solid land. "Do we have everything, he says as he reaches for a helm that is altogether similar to his normal garb, or even his deep navy night garb. This, however, is colored green, and a long with his suit, designed to blend into the scenery.


The aircraft's approach goes unnoticed. Kwabena's dinner with Hadi is… well, not unlike they have been. Hadi does a lot of talking, his English broken and terrible. Kwabena does a lot of grunting, nodding, and partial attention. Part of doing dark involves lying low. Hadi had gone into town to get him a collection of smokes and a few bottles of something that resembled liquor, and that was all he needed until it was time to move back out and make contact with his benefactors.

And so, he eats, for his part remaining silent and utterly unaware of those who are upon him.

Once dinner is finished, the African steps outside for a smoke. He'll be visible from afar.


Peggy's own clothing is a dark green. She's no stranger to frontline combat and heels aren't really practical for jungles or rice fields. "What in heaven's name is an incog processing?" she asks, amusement clear in her voice. "It sounds like you're talking about the inner workings of a clock."

While she's a quick study, there are certainly some things that she has yet to understand about future technology. As she tosses a matching backpack over her shoulder, she nods and starts moving out across the expanse toward the crater in question. "There," she points out as they approach. "Someone's there."


"Have you met Tony?" Steve asks with a raised eyebrow. "Howard's son talks a lot like that."

Steve bends down as Peggy sees Shift before he does. He bends low in the reeds, taking just a bit of a sniff of air as he reaches for his rifle. Blue eyes trail up towards the point at which she noted, and for a moment Cap finds himself thinking about the Bible. There's a part that's bugged him since Sunday school, and he's not sure if it's because it buttressed his faith or chipped away at it. According to Steve's old Bible from the 1800s, a hand me down from family members long forgotten, at the garden of Gethsemane Jesus fell to his face and prayed, "My father, if it is possible, take this cup from me."

He's not sure he really understood it until now.

He pulls the rifle up to his shoulder, looks within the scope, and exhales. He inhales and at the next breath, as it comes out, his finger curls over the trigger, ready to fire.


Another long drag of the cigarette is taken. A plume of smoke billows out from his nostrils, flirting with the breeze before taken up by the air around it. He's only had to hunker down this far twice in his life, and to be fully honest, there's something peaceful about it. Something to battle the twisted thing that's been forced upon him. Sure, there's a sinking feeling that his benefactors will call for him soon enough, but for now?


Like a sitting duck.


"This won't kill him," Peggy attempts to assure Steve, though, of course, they don't know that just yet. It's an experimental bullet of which they only have a few rounds.

"It's just knocking him out," she adds. Her words are soft, whispered in the tense moment. It's best to do this from afar before he can attempt to get in close to attack them. However, she is also readying her own weapon - with decidedly not knock out bullets - just in case.


As the exhale comes out, Steve squeezes slowly and truly. The silencer muffles the sound as the special bullet soars out of the gun at high speed. The shell casing flips out of the chamber as Steve begins to aim up his next shot, if need be.


The bullet passes about a millimeter to the left of Shift's ear. It impacts upon the wall of Hadi's house, the cartridge bursting open and a plume of blue gas spreading out.

Steve's aim was true. The gun is good. The damned bullet has a flaw… an aerodynamic flaw. It pulls to the right.

There is a delayed reaction, but only a brief one. Shift turns to look at the blue gas, then suddenly hisses in anger. A ripping sound, one familiar to the two of them, carries over the distance, but the super-solid Ghanaian is already running toward them. Plumes of water splash all around as he plows through, heading out into the fields.

His eyes have gone black.

They're gonna need to find a way to get him to soften up.


"Oh bloody Nora," Peggy hisses when she sees the bullet pull right. "Damned scientists can figure out a way to stop him, but mess up the casing?" Of course. And they only have four of those things…three now, that is. It's obvious that they'll need to figure out a way to turn him back from his super solid form to something that a bullet won't simply bounce off.

Eyes scan their surroundings, her gaze quicky drawn to the water he is disrupting on his way toward them. "Can you hold him under the water, Steve?" she asks quickly, trying to form a plan. "He'll have to change to his smoke form to escape."


"Well," Steve says as he brings the rifle from over his shoulder and hands it towards Peg. "I can give that a try, but it's probably going to get a bit messy." He reaches for his shield. "Last time I trust a scientist." He winks, given that a scientist turned him into Captain America. And a scientist brought him Peggy.

But he doesn't linger.

He shoots out towards Shift, running at full tilt30 miles per hourshield at the ready to pop right in that Shift-kisser of his.


Well, we've been down this road before. Shift does not have a short memory. He maintains his full tilt, even as he and Steve close the distance, water splashing about both of their impossibly powerful strides through the rice paddy.

Shift jukes left. Something about playing football with the ghetto boys back in Cincinnati. Soon as he does, his boot plants into the squishy ground beneath, and he leaps to the right in an attempt to dodge around Steve and his super-shield. If it works, he'll pull around in an attempt to crack the man in the back of his head.

If not? Well. We've all seen what happens when Solid Shift bounces off Captain America's shield. Fortunately, there are no pit bulls in the area.


Easily, Peggy takes the rifle from Steve with a wry grin. "Certainly my motto." Given that her best friend is a scientist, that can also be taken with a grain of salt.

In a fight against a super-solid Shift and a super-strong Captain America she realizes it's best for her to be the one in the distance readying a shot. Her pistol is holstered into her belt as she brings the rifle up. She wants to be ready the moment there is a clear shot.

The last thing she wants is for this to turn into a prolonged messy fight, though she knows a bit of hand dirtying is necessary.



The shield hits the mutant straight on with a hell of a lot of force behind it. Steve's excellent footwork and body speed allow him to get in front of Shift and deliver a massive blow. Because of the properties of the shield, Steve doesn't take much of the brunt of the strike, instead, dealing it towards Shift.

Steve readies himself, knowing this is just the beginning.


The rebound is like watching Shift bounce off a pinball bumper. The mutant goes flying off to the side, sending up a large splash of water and vegetation when he lands. The wake of his plummet through the paddy leaves a clear trail of where he'll surface.

Only… he doesn't surface.

Hidden from the view, the Ghanaian is now adopting to fight smart, rather than bullish. His body softens out of view, and then, it simply transforms into liquid.

Blending in with the water, Shift has virtually disappeared from view. The waters ripple and begin to even out.

Your move, Rogers.


Great, they managed to get him to shift into a form they can hit with a bullet, but now they can't find him. Peggy starts to scan the water around Steve, attempting to figure out where it is the man has disappeared or where he might resurface. Every ripple is studied as best she can from her vantage point.

The gun remains trained, her back starting to tense with anticipation. He has to come up somewhere. Even liquid forms need to breathe at some point, right?


"I think his plan is to hit my legs and pull me under," Steve says absently as his mind moves a mile a minute. Better to allow him to go solid, pull him down, where Steve can react. Going under buys him nothing. Shift coming up, buys he and Peggy everything.

Cap braces himself with a steady stance, ready for the inevitable. "Make sure you keep your distance Peg." The use of her first name is perhaps a slip, or perhaps an accident. "If you see the shot, take it."


The waters around Steve's legs finally begin to stir. Gradually, they form a vortex of sorts, a ring that begins to rise upward, upward, inch by inch. In the darkness of evening, it's hard to tell what's water, what's mud, and what might be the liquid bio-matter of a matter-shifting mutant. That is, until, what could best be described as a 'wave' rises up and seeks to smack Steve in the face.

That shield isn't going to do anything against liquid.

The material keeps coming out of the rice paddy until a giant, somewhat-cohesive blob of dark goo clings to the supersoldier's face. It's looking for nostrils. Mouth. The Shift-Choke, apparently, doesn't always happen in gaseous form. He's been down the gullet of the Hulk before. Are Steve's lungs strong enough to keep him out?


Peggy stays where she is in the silence as they wait for Shift to re-emerge. "Just be careful," she tells him, staying where she is for now. It's better to have a bit of distance so that she can hopefully shout out a warning should she see something from a side Steve can't see.

By the time the blob has started to rise into a wave, it's too late to warn him. While he may have told her to take the shot, she's not about to risk hitting him while that goo is on his face. Not from this far away with bullets that have proven to have a defect. It's far too risky. Dropping the barrel of the rifle to the ground she comes running, water splashing around her as she moves closer. Plus, shooting him with a tranquilizer while he's trying to choke Steve might mean Captain America suddenly gets a fully formed leg in his lungs. Nothing she wants.

She dealt with this in smoke form, hopefully the same will work with liquid. Stopping with a splash of water, she reaches out to pinch Steve's nose and then kiss him.


Steve was not expecting that.

The force of Peggy's 'attack' and her kiss, knocks Steve and her both over into the water, liplocked, and pulls Shift presumably down with them.

Far be it for him to concentrate on something other than Peggy at a time like this, but priorities are priorities. He sets a high tech flare off from his belt and tries to burn the moving sludge off of him as the trio slip under the rice patty.


There's something to be said about humiliating moments.

Even HYDRA brainwashing isn't powerful enough to wipe out what's happening from the mutant's mind. A part of him made it into Steve's mouth. That was… well, usual, for him. Shift had long since gotten over some of the things he does. He's a mutant, he has a power, and he uses it to get a result. But this… there are no words.

Mutant biomatter is hard to define. There are electrical signals that constitute as nervous system activity, even when there is no 'brain' or 'nerves' to speak of in this particular moment. There's still mental activity, and that mental activity is quite well aware that his two parts are separated from each other. The moment the flare is launched, a god damned hand forces its way between Steve and Peggy's lips, floating along like something out of a horror flick.

The rest of Shift reforms moments later. Normal, flesh and blood, without his right hand.

Do not ask that question.

Snarling, the Ghanaian reaches out to snatch up his dismembered hand. He could have let it go and kept fighting, but that whole thing that just happened right there? Far too fucked up.


Peggy was not quite expecting to go tumbling forward with Steve into the water. Once she can tell Shift is starting to reform back into his human form and Steve is safe, she pulls away, soggy. She's certainly not offended by him bringing up a flare while she's attempting to save him. She rolls away from Steve into a kneeling position.

What just happened is something she is not dealing with right now. Maybe later. Instead, she puts the rifle up and, attempting to compensate just slightly for the rightward pull the bullet will take, she fires.


Steve emerges from the water and can't help but get the feeling of a smokey aftertaste in his mouth. Water trickles off of him before it flits up in the air as his shield comes into position.

He sees what Peggy is trying to do, and in defense, he tries to take away one of Shift's escape routes if the Ghanian should dodge. Cap comes at the area where he thinks Kwabena will be, should he escape the shot.


Only Kwabena does not escape the shot. He's good at what he does, but he's not himself, and he simply lacks the kind of formal training that both Steve and Peggy have earned. The bullet rips a proverbial hole, Peggy having compensated well, and a little corridor of himself turns to smoke.

The munition then does what it was meant to do. Simmons' engineering of the dendrotoxin metabolizes with the gaseous biomatter, and when that little bullet-hole-sized piece of Kwabena's body becomes solid matter again, the dendrotoxin has been delivered.

The blackness peels away from his eyes, revealing their natural silver. The veins of his body glow a dull blue as the toxin spreads into his system. He looks at Peggy, eyes wide, before collapsing into the water, heart beating but otherwise dead to the world.


For a moment, Peggy remains tense, the rifle trained on Kwabena just in case she needs to shoot again. After knowing that the bullets pull right, who knows what else may be a surprise on this experimental magic drug that is supposed to keep him unconscious.

It's only when their eyes meet, the blackness turning back to silver and he falls over that she slowly stands, letting the barrel of the rifle point toward the water. She looks over to Steve, visually checking to make sure he's alright before moving cautiously toward the man in the water.


Steve looks to be doing pretty well as he reaches down toward the water to grab Shift by the chest and lift him up violently. With one motion he hoists Shift up onto his shoulder with a grunt.

He looks to Peggy and nods, looking to her gun and perhaps referring to the shot. "I've had better kisses. But it'll do." As he begins to trudge in the slop, he turns to his left and eyes the man who gave Shift aid, who now stands across the ridge, watching the denouement. Cap gives a solemn nod before he boards the plane.

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