It Was Supposed To Be Simple

April 05, 2018:

A routine checkup of a lab that has suddenly gone dark by some of the newest Avengers turns dangerous and violent as an old enemy rears its head once again. After all, cut off one head, and two more shall take its place. GMed by Tony Stark.

Stark Tech Lab, Pacific Ocean

A lab on an island in the middle of the Pacific.


NPCs: None.


Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

The Super Secret Stark Tech Lab is actually situated on a little island in the middle of the pacific. On paper? Its a marine research lab. In practice? Its a testing range for some of Stark's toys he gives to SHIELD responce teams. And a refueling station. And a minor holding facility.

Fourty Eight ours ago a storm rolled into the area and knocked out the com systems. Breaking satellite contact and in general causing problems in the underground/underwater base.

Twenty four hours ago communications hadn't been re-established so the Avengers had been informed. Most of them were pretty busy doing Avengers things.

Two hours ago Tony Stark had remembered all this, and decided to sent The Kids(tm) to go check it out. Sorry Kate. You're one of them.

But he wouldn't send them in alone! Oh no. Which is why he convinced Bucky Barnes that this would be a perfect way to ease back into things. Just a simple repair and rescue mission. Try not to let anyone get hurt. Try even harder not to kill them yourself.

I mean really? What could go wrong.

Jane even agreed to let him go this one alone. I mean it was simple right?

…an hour later, on the top floor of the science lab, the quartet find themselves in its darkened interior. The power off, one of the security doors half open, and no personell to be found.

…yeah. Easy.

….also there may have been some kind of jamming field Stark detected about fifteen minuites ago. Which is why he's on his way there in one of his modified Quinjets.

And a request for reinforcements has been made.

The other occupant of said jet likely hasn't stopped glaring at him this entire time and protests of 'But look I didn't know it was an ambush' really haven't stopped that.

Riding herd on a mini-Avengers mission was not the first thing James Barnes would have picked in terms of getting back on active duty, but it would serve. What with all that had been happening lately, he could use something to keep his mind comfortably busy and blank, and nothing feels so natural to him anymore as does running a mission out to the middle of nowhere. Of course, he's usually alone, but lately Bucky's had to admit grudgingly that the company isn't always bad. 'Isn't always' being the operative word…

Try not to let them get killed, Stark said. Sure, easy enough.

Try not to kill them yourself, Stark added. Okay, that was harder. MUCH harder, especially once certain team members started talking.

Things were smelling pretty off from the moment they got there, but once they got to the top floor, things got practically rank. Nothing's happened yet, but the ex-Winter Soldier is already displaying his usual optimism.

"When it's this quiet, it's always some kinda trap," he observes dourly over the comms, because he's not actually WITH the kids right now. He's perched on a catwalk spanning over the lab, rifle in hand, running overwatch. He could be taking a stronger hand in bossing the kids, but part of this is letting them find their own sea legs. "Well, too boring and none of you'll learn anything, anyway. Might as well keep trying to get the comms back up while Tony gets his tin ass out here, it's what we're here for."

He scans the darkened area from his perch, watching every possible entrance. "Anyone got a read on any kind of incoming we might have?"

Communications are jammed - and as any seasoned operator would know, that is never a good sign.

Kate Bishop frowns as the device in her hand, and lifts a finger to tap at her earbud comm. No responses from there, either. Not even static. Dark brows pull downwards in a displeased expression before drawing out one of the batons she has brought; while normally known for being a ranged fighter, her abilities in fighting in close quarters with any weapon, really, is oftentimes overlooked but considering they don't know who orchestrated the ambush, she is taking every advantage she can manage well before she even sets foot inside the laboratory's main interior.

Bucky Barnes is leading their small incursion, and so she patiently waits for the (ridiculously hot) veteran assassin to dispense his instructions.

He does.

Look, don't judge her, he was standing in front of them earlier and his ass was right there.

"Well, sometimes the best way to know what's what is to spring it." Though by the expression on the socialite's face, that is just about the last thing she prefers. That doesn't mean she doesn't have the full confidence in the group's abilities, however. But with electronic jamming and with no power, it would be difficult to assess any incoming on her end, so those dark blue eyes slip over to where Billy and Tommy are standing.

Meanwhile, she'll march forward, pull a mirror out to slip it in between the half-open security doors to try and take a peek as to what's inside and if it's clear, only then will she attempt to pry them open so they can see the state of things within.

Thus far, being an Avenger had involved a lot less throwing Nazis through plate glass windows than Speed had been anticipating.

Did you know they have rules?

Like a whole big thing of bylaws and regulations and all this stuff you're supposed to do when you're Avengering. There was enough stuff in that that even he took a while reading through it all, although in his defense there were several points where he stopped paying attention and had to start over from a particular heading, and yeah okay he did actually fall asleep once or twice.

But he's pretty sure he's got it all down now.

This, though, is exactly the sort of thing the speedster was waiting for: A mission. Sure, Wiccan was probably just happy to be in the same organisation as Captain America, and had already plotted out fifteen different scenarios in which he would meet Rogers and totally impress him with how cool he was, but Speed wanted adventure. Excitement.

Also to keep hitting on Kate, although she doesn't seem to be noticing anything that isn't the Winter Soldier currently.

This, quite possibly, informs the impetuous young man's behaviour now: While Kate, ever the canny and clever young woman, is trying to peer through the half-open door with her mirror, Speed… Is suddenly right there, and his hands are on the door, and his head is…

Through it?

Yep, he's in right about up to his shoulders, his white-haired, goggled head sticking out the other side.

"Looks okay to me," he decides, phasing the rest of the way through the door and… Not bothering to help the others, actually. Sorry. "So what d'you guys think? Lab accident gone wrong, right? I put twenty bucks on zombies."

With every inch of her, with every ounce of her, with every fathom of her soul —

— Jane Foster is making sure these are the fifteen longest minutes of Tony Stark's life.

Her dark eyes burn into him, glaring into him the entire ride over. That usual, stricken look of guilt — especially in regard to him — is misplaced for the moment. On temporary hiatus, packed away, because there is no higher ground to see to her temper than Bucky Barnes being eye-deep in some inter-oceanic AMBUSH.

The glare never breaks. Never twitches away. Never blinks. Jane angrily loads and checks the magazine of her FN P90 without a single, cursory glance down on her hands.

She counts the small arsenal she's brought along in a side-bag — explosives, some of them exotic in nature, homemade, and lacking any sort of incindiery agent — without a look. Trades her shoes for a strange-looking pair of flats. Any look away?

Nope. Still glaring at Stark.

"Tony," Jane grumbles, "I swear to God. If anything happens to my boyfriend, I am going to stuff every single one of your suits up your ass."

Bobbi Morse was going strictly by Mockingbird these days, and SHIELD agent uniform traded out for a more catchy number of white and blue form fitting suit. Same material though, by and large. Same tricks and tools of the trade, this time with the added benefit of a mask with handy goggles. A recent addition, as in, great you're hired we have a situation hire. But still..

..A job's a job.

Mockingbird reclined in her seat on the plane, having no real reason to be angry with Stark, at least not yet. She was sure that it wouldn't be long before Tony Stark managed to do something to earn the blonde's ire. It was just the standard assumption for most anyone she met. Or at least most men.

Still, with Jane glaring daggers at Tony, she looked just about ready to make some popcorn as she sat back and waited to see what was going to happen. "I'll sell tickets." She offered blithely, a hand propping up her chin. There wasn't much else she had to do, at least not until they arrived.

The four Avengers at the door move up to professionally, quietly, mount their assault. Checking the angles. Checking for traps. Check—-

…ok. Three of them do that. One of them just puts his head though the door.

Thankfully nothing bites it.

No sudden gunfire or explosions. No sudden gunfire either. In fact its almost eerie in its silence. Still quiet, still dark.

A security check point stands near the open door, unmanned and the door just slightly open. The first thing that might concern some of the people there is that the handle of the door looks…well…melted. So does most of the lock.

Not 'oh look they used thermite' melted either.

The remainder of the first floor of the small complex sprawls out before them, but the power /could/ be controled from the security room. At least maybe enough for emergency lights and elevators.

…or they take the stairs down into the main complex.

On the jet Stark just rolls his eyes. "Look I'm a gaint asshole its true but I'm not that big." He snarks back at Jane. "I mean come on, its likely just interfearance from one of the projects there and the storm." Even he doesn't believe that. "I mean its not like its Hydra or something."

A smirk at Bobbi. "I'm sure you would make a killing." He adds, the man already suited up in his armor. Which mark it is is sort of up in the air. He hasn't made near as many suits since an evil virus blew most of his up.

His very first mission. As an Avenger. Billy Kaplan was excited when he heard the news.

And this was verifiably true by how he spent the entire rest of the day talking Tommy Shepherd's ear off about all the possibilities said mission could entail, from thwarting a Kree invasion to stopping the imminent rampage of It! The Living Colossus!

… and then spending another hour after that explaining just what It! The Living Colossus! was.

So imagine poor Wiccan's disappointment —

"… So, It! The Living Colossus! isn't here, huh?"

— when he realized the mission was just a check up of some SHIELD base that lost power.

To his credit, the young Avenger (not Young Avenger) did a good job disguising said disappointment and convincing himself these kinds of missions are necessary for Avengers to and does not necessarily imply Tony Stark was sending them off on a kid gloves mission just because he thinks they're kids and it doesn't require you to go off on a self-righteous rant, Billy, so don't; all of which is to say, by the time they arrive, the young superhero is looking relatively resolved as they off-load onto the partially-immersed base.

They wouldn't send Bucky Barnes off on some nothing checkup mission like one of the kids, right?

… Unless he was their chaperone.

"… … oh my god, Tony Stark made the Winter Soldier our chaperone."

This grand revelation is murmured somewhat dourly as Wiccan makes his way inside the darkness of the top floor; it probably would have come sooner, if Billy hadn't been so distracted by Bucky Barnes and his Perfect Hair forever. It's not his fault.

The cosmic backdrop of his costume gleams slightly within the dim lightning of the powerless room as brown eyes sweep the space around him, a frown increasingly growing on his lips. Something isn't right here. There's no one that comes out and attacks them. No booby traps going off in their faces. No It! The Living Colossus! roaring up from the waters. Just… nothing. And that's exactly what's off-putting about it all. That, and the melted door handles. That's a bit strange.

"… Something weird is going on here," Billy murmurs, half-to-himself. "Can anyone tell what could have done something like that?" Black brows furrow. His lips twist into a line of troubled thought. And tentatively, as the others decide what to do next, Billy Kaplan reaches out with his thoughts, touching upon the delicate threads that compose everything that is.

"Searching searching searching searching searching"

Trying to find some hint of any life within this complex, and where it might be.

The Winter Soldier, Soviet killer and WWII war hero, is totally their chaperone. For anything less than an Avengers team in training, it could be a demeaning assignment… but Bucky honestly doesn't seem to mind, underneath the surface grumbling. Teaching is something he knows.

And if Bucky was aware that Kate was having herself an eyeful of his ass, he made no indication of such and did not address it. (He was fully aware. He used to be a champion flirt. He knows.) When he casually sidles out from in front of them and takes up a position overhead instead, it's quite natural. Not at all as if he might be politely removing his very taken rear end from inspection.

"Sometimes that is the best way," he replies Kate's remark, his voice dry, "but most traps aren't designed to be all that escapable once you've sprung 'em. I'd rather avoid — "

And that's about when Tommy puts his silver head right through the doors to have a look-see. Bucky's sigh is audible over their personal comms.

"You're lucky you still have a head, Speed," he grumbles. "Well, since he's verified that with his face, let's move up. Secure the next room." A pause. "Finish that, before you run to the next one."

James finally uncoils and drops from his perch, soundless as a cat, eyeing the walls and the door as they pass through. His left hand traces the faint mark of a graze burned in the doorframe. "Gunfire," he says. "And someone was trying to cover it up. Rushed it, it's a shit job." He nods at the molten handle. "Couldn't cover that up, though."

He lifts his rifle to his shoulder, now on a higher alert. "If they're still here, I don't want 'em knowing we're here. Keep the power off, for now." He does move to check the security room and what might be within, however.

When she looks up, Speed is right next to her….without a head. The sight is so startling that Kate nearly drops her baton - up until she remembers reading about this in his file. And when he phases through and doesn't let anyone else in, she sighs, plants a boot on the ground, one in the open wedge and pushes until it's open enough to admit entry to their group. She says nothing about it, however; if nothing else, something tells her that is not going to be the weirdest thing she'll see today.

And judging by the look of the melted locks, she makes a face: "Should have opened my own psychic hotline," she mutters as she ventures within.

Were she kitted out for it, the young woman would be collecting samples of the damage, but the nature of the assignment, and already anticipating that Things Will Go Wrong Because They Always Do, she had packed light - nothing but the barest essentials. But that doesn't mean she elects to come away with nothing either. With her Starktech phone, she takes a few pictures before stowing it in her back pocket, for Tony and the rest of the team to analyze later.

A flashlight is pulled out, shone over the walls. Bootsteps ring on metallic floors as she takes up a spot in front of the wall where she finds traces of black. Fingers slip over to touch the residue, rolling it between her fingers as eyes narrow faintly in thought.

Rushed it, the Winter Soldier says.

"Whoever did this, they didn't want us knowing they could do this in this way," she remarks, which makes all the difference to her - the devil is in the details, as they say. Her head tilts up to look at the ceiling thoughtfully.

"Why, though…?"

Something weird is going on here, observes her magically inclined new teammate.

"Hope it's not too weird," she grouses under her breath. Squinting at the scorch marks left behind, her eyes turn the other way to gauge the angle, and traces it further into the interior.

But they've been told to secure the next room and that's what she does. She heads right for it, baton in hand; her footfalls are silent.

"Whoever they are, they used metas that can generate high amounts of heat. There were fingerprints on the melted locks - they're cold now, though. Either they moved on or they're still here, but arrived much earlier than we did."

With that she'll go secure the next room. She's definitely not taking any chances there either.

Since their chaperone/teacher is of course a badass veteran of crazy situations across multiple decades, Speed of course takes the Winter Soldier's admonishment with good grace, and… Actually, he wasn't paying attention. He was mostly disappointed in the (current!) lack of zombies. What else would you have an isolated partially underwater secret research base for if it wasn't for horrible bioweapons or whatever? He's seen movies!

"Ugh. Snails," Speed complains to himself when the instruction comes through to secure the room before they keep going any deeper, as though the green and silver-clad mutant was meant for anything other than forward scouting! But he stays put, while Wiccan starts doing his weird magic thing and Kate and Bucky both investigate the physical evidence of strangeness. He scrubs his hand through his hair while they discuss gunfire - boring - and metahumans generating enough heat to melt locks and stuff - dope - and then Barnes is going to the security room, and Kate…

"Hey, Bi… Uh, Wiccan, you got this, right? Yeah man, you got this," the speedster decides, giving the other young man a reassuring(???) double finger guns before he takes off after Kate.

She's the only non-meta in the group, she might need help!

Bobbi remained as she was, waiting in her seat with a glance passed between Jane and Tony, amusement flickering in the curve of her lips. "I'll make a killing, sure but I'm pretty sure she'll be killing you? I mean, that much metal shoved up there isn't a medically sound practice." The blonde mused, crossing her legs. She was used to waiting around, spy work was the hurry up and wait game.

The only difference here was that it was a hurry up on the plane.

"Still, if he's down, I'd suspect the kids you mentioned aren't going to be doing so hot either." Helpful, so helpful was Mockingbird, but she was doing what her name implied and dry, side comments were a good way to pass the time.

On SHIELD's books, Jane Foster is a recognizable face. She's one of their assets. On official record, a consultant. They pay for one of her labs. They share in any breakthroughs she's made in her work — Einstein-Rosen bridges, and all that — and they sometimes blackmail her in to lecture a seminar or two to the R&D interns on astrophysics and breakthroughs in quantum theory.

So why the hell is the nerd wearing all black, sitting as calm as stagnant waters, and loading a personal defence weapon in her lap? Who knows.

Probably has something to do with the words 'Bucky' and 'Barnes.'

Setting her rifle aside, Jane hastily ties back her dark hair, before tilting her head to take a metallic stud out of her ear, holding it between the tips of her teeth as she taps into her smartphone — a Frankensteined-looking thing, after Foster got to it — and runs a quick script that she seems to be… uploading into the earring.

She multitasks this with a look she gives Tony that could eat the paint off a car. "Doesn't need to be big/," she grouses. "Just needs to be //dense." Did Jane just threaten to turn Tony's ass into a singularity? Maybe.

Still, he offers some reassurance, and her expression twists. Her eyes lance briefly towards Bobbi — doesn't recognize the woman, but in Jane's pragmatism, she's happy with just someone here who also looks capable. Capable is good. No time for anything else if shit goes sideways. "What sort of projects are happening out there, anyway, Tony? Anything that would attract — don't say ''it's not like it's'! Tony, that's jinxing it! You know better than to — oh don't you dare. Don't say i—"

Hydra, he says. Jane flings both hands into the air. "You didn't even! Why did you have to say that! Why! Oh my god!"

What whoever did this expected trained Agents. They expected SHIELD. They expected people with powers and abilities that stretched credulity. What they didn't expect was someone that could stretch credulity as much as Billy Kaplan.

Magic…or…reality manipulation…or…whatever it is!

So there wasn't much they could do to stop someone like him doing a bit of sense life within the complex.

Which is how Billy comes to know that not only is there about twenty five people or more on sublevel 6, there are also a group of 5 on sublevel 3 and ten on sublevel 5.

Thankfully there is nothing else on the current floor.

The power remains off, the darkness remains…well…dark. The doors to the stairwell down are open.

The doors to the elevator shaft? Also open.

But still, to the everlasting dissipointment of Speed. There are no zombies.

In the jet, on approach to the little science facility, Tony Stark takes stock of what he just said. You know. Perhaps Jane is right. Perhaps that was testing fate a bit too much. So the prudant thing to do right now would be to apologize. Or say something else. Or try to counter act it. Or calm Jane down.

Stark takes one look at the pair of women in the cabin with him then stands. "I'm gonna go check on the pilot!"

…yup. Stark is gonna do none of these things.

Instead he marches right up into the pilots compartment and thumps down in the copilot chair. "So…" He says turning to Sam. Who until this moment has been spared the wrath of both Bobbi and Jane. "…how are things?" A beatpause. "Where is Steve anyway?"

Things for the air team seem to be going pretty well, they should be there in five minuites.

There's a lot of important things that Billy needs in order to make sure his 'gift' actually ends up working. A key one is actually believing he can do it. Another is being able to focus.

That's made a lot harder, sometimes, when Tommy Shepherd does that thing he does so well:

Absolutely the opposite of reassure Wiccan in any way, shape or form.

Sapphire energy weaves between Billy's fingers and emanates from his body like a soft blue corona as he concentrates on reaching out through the depths of the partially-submerged facility. His eyes squeezing shut, his features drawn into a knot of concentration, the young man is partially lifting off the ground by the time Speed's voice reaches his ears.

Hey, Bi… Uh, Wiccan, you got this, right?


Yeah man, you got this.

And brown eyes crack open just enough —

— to see Tommy give him a double finger gun that just makes the pit of his stomach grow cold. That's like reassurance, right? Right? Like. He's assured of something, at least.

"Speed, wai-" Zoom. And where once was a white-haired youth is now empty space.

Billy Kaplan's sigh is a long-suffering one.

And it turns out, as his senses stretch outward, that he was absolutely right not to be reassured: brown eyes open completely in something like muted shock, only to narrow. People. There's people here. A lot of people. But more than that…

"We're not alone," Billy speaks into the communicator as the others separate. "There's no one else on this level right now besides us, but… I'm sensing around twenty five people, maybe more, down… six levels below us? There's ten on the level just above that. And… there's five on the third level below, but… something's wrong. They're all near the door, the one closest to the stairwell. Like they're… waiting for something." His lips purse. Brows scrunch.

"That… really sounds like a trap when I say it out loud." He hesitates. Looks in the direction that Kate and Speed left off to, and then Bucky. They shouldn't have split up. Bucky should be fine. He's Bucky freaking Barnes, right?

"Ugh, he's probably fine, and I'm going to look like an idiot," grumbles Billy to himself, seconds before he walks off after the Winter Soldier, to try to provide support. To the Winter Soldier. Who's probably killed more people than most of the big plagues.

And didn't the guy like full-on wrestle the Black Panther or something?

… Maybe Billy shouldn't be thinking things like that when they're all probably walking into a trap.

Nothing in the security checkpoint. James emerges in time to hear the commentary from the young Avengers as they do their sweep of the room. He absorbs their assessments in silence, Billy's in particular. Who he gives a bit of a puzzled look, as he finds the young man walking up to him, presumably to provide backup.

Some men might scoff, for all the reasons Billy cogitates in his head. What does a hundred-year killer need with the support of a green kid? But the ex-Winter Soldier just claps Billy on the shoulder as he passes. "Good instinct."

He takes a long moment to think, probably just for Speed's benefit. Punishment for ignoring him. Or maybe he's just waiting for the group to regather. "So they have metas," he says to them, "and they don't mind us knowing, but they mind us knowing there was a gunfight. They've disabled the power to encourage use of the stairwells, and then they've posted their men in wait, ready to jump anybody who walks through the door unaware."

He pauses. "Or at least, you assume they're hostiles. You don't know that for sure — yet."

Now, Bucky put his oar in — so to speak — to issue orders on matters he perceived to be immediately and critically important, like 'not turning on all the lights while there might be hostiles in the area.' But on other matters? He seems content to be more of a guiding element for the young team than a field commander.

Such it is that he pauses after that assessment. His gaze drifts towards the empty elevator shaft. "Thoughts?"

Personal Pilot is not exactly on his list of skills and stuff but Sam Wilson knows he's needed on a mission when he's told he's needed on a mission. Granted, he just got back from doing things he may or may not have been doing, depending on clearance, but the long and short of it is, that he's back. Back to being an Avenger.

Back to frowning when Tony Stark sits down next to him. Ugh.

Sam tries to keep the rolling of his eyes to a minimum as he glances over at the Golden Boy that's decided to make conversation. "We don't have to make conversation. It's fine. Really." Sam glances back at the various screens and readouts on the jet. Y'know, making sure there's nothing like missiles locked onto them or something. That wouldn't be good. "If you want, though, I can stop keeping us in the air and allow us to crash to our fiery deaths in order to send Steve a text message to find out where exactly he is at this moment. I can do that, if you'd like, Starky boy."

Sam throws on a grin to go with his sarcasm. It's all just to see if he can't give Tony some more stuff to deal with since he's pretty sure the other passengers were giving him enough shenanigans to send him up here into the cockpit in the first place.

"In more important news, you did pack my case, right? I don't go on missions without my case." His wings are in that case, dammit. He can't be Falcon without his wings.

… or without already texting Captain America. Y'know, just in case.

Fortunately for Kate Bishop/Hawkette/Hawkingbird??/etc., there are at least some occasions on which Speed can keep quiet. He is absolutely not wracked with concern for the fact that he just left Wiccan behind, because he's pretty sure Wiccan can handle himself in most situations. If the bad guys show up he can just cast Expelliarmus or whatever, right? So it's fine. It's all fine. On the other hand, Kate doesn't seem to have any special resistance to being shot, or melted with super heat, or eaten by zombies beyond her own badassery, and so naturally the white-haired speedster is there to make sure she's safe and it's not because he's feeling weirdly threatened by Barnes even though he's about a million years old and Kate mainly seems to show Speed 'weary tolerance'. Definitely not.

"So, this is cool, right?" he says quietly to Kate - his being silent lasted a couple minutes, so there's that - as they check out this room. "Secret Avengers mission, hidden science base… Zombies. You're with me about zombies, right? Hey you ever seen that old movie, Resident Evil…?"

For whatever reason, he ends up in a corner, peering at something, his eyes squinting behind his orange goggles. That looks like… A camera…?

Naturally, he makes a face into the tiny thing, chortling.

Then he makes an extremely rude gesture.

"Hey, check it out, there's a—" Wait did Billy just say there was a buch of people below them. "It's zombies," Speed immediately supplies. "Totally science zombies, hungering for brains."

He had to say Hydra. He HAD to say it.

Jane's searing glare follows Tony Stark's departure to the cockpit. Her teeth grit up tight enough to flicker muscle down her jaw. Like a coiling spring, aggravation knots tighter and tighter and tighter, until —

It expends itself, ventilated out in a low, thready exhale, as she lets her anger go. It won't help anything. It won't even help her. She's not even truly angry, not even at Tony — though Jane would sure as hell love to be.

The truth haunts the reflexive, automatic fidgeting in her hands, used to building something when this upset, and nothing available to fill them. More than anything, Jane worries. All of this feels like some unwanted rerun of those weeks in Wakanda — Bucky Barnes out of reach, and spending every minute in a Schrodinger's state of dead and alive. He could be either right now. Out in the middle of nowhere — what if it's him? After Peggy, what if the next target is —

She pushes the fear down. James Barnes is capable. And he's also not alone. Granted, she heard him talking aboout 'chaperoning damn kids' before he left, but even then —

Her head cranes, frowning to herself as she overhears the conversation between Tony and Sam Wilson. The question of Steve —

She has a half an idea where he might be, and it may be 'completely indisposed.' Oh, Peggy. "Steve will be here if he can," she says lightly. "What's our ETA? Before I help myself to the engine and make this thing go faster? You know I can."

Bobbi arched a blonde brow upwards behind her mask, amusement tickling another smile from her lips as she watched Tony look at her and Jane and then backpedal into the pilot's compartment. A grin pulled from her and she chuckled softly. Blue eyes landed on the other lone woman in the plane near her, watching the nervous energy build up in the way the woman twitched adn moved and breathed.

Amusement bled from the blonde's eyes as she leaned back in her seat, the leather creaking beneath her. "Waiting is always the worst part, isn't it?" She offered, not unkindly. Still, she didn't look impatient at all, old hat at sitting around, waiting. Of course, it was always easier when you didn't have anyone to care about. Or worry about.

The next room is empty - but it looks like the rest of the other sub levels aren't. With Billy's report patching through, Kate flips her phone back out from her back pocket to pull up the blueprints of this specific facility, noting those that are occupied and the strange positioning - they are all waiting by a door, her teammate said, as if expecting something.

So this is cool, right?

"Well, if someone like Wiccan exists, I'm not ruling out evil necromancers, though if there were, they'd be breaking in Dr. Strange's place and not Tony Stark's Super Innocuous Facility in the Middle of Nowhere," she tells Tommy, though her eyes are looking at her phone. "Besides, if zombies were responsible, I don't think they'd want anything to do with fire or heat." Per the trace evidence they saw in the other room.

Speed is helpful for once though, presenting the camera. Eyes widen. "Is it still active?" she wonders, keeping her voice low as she hunkers over to what the young man is doing.

Making faces and pissing off whoever's on the other side apparently. Probably. She signals for Speed to keep going while she attaches a small wire to the end of her phone, and attempts to hook it up to the back of the device so she could, perhaps, trace the signal.

She does. Though it cuts out almost immediately.

"Aw, they're shy," she murmurs, tucking her phone back in. "C'mon, Speed. Let's go regroup." There's a slight incline of her head at him, and allows, with a faint smile: "Good eyes."

With that, she pivots on her heel and heads back to the main area where Bucky and Billy are.

"They know we're here," she says. "Speed found a cam and I traced it, they're riding their own signal on a carrier wave to get around their own jamming, but we can assume one of their teams downstairs have eyes on us and since they can communicate with one another, they'll be ready for us."

A pause…and she smirks faintly.

"…as ready as they can be with people like us anyway."

There's a glance the elevator shaft.

"I say take the route that makes it difficult for them to do that."

"Of course I brought your pack!" Stark assures Falcon. "And no I don't really want you to crash and kill us all. But you know, I thought everyone can test one handed nowdays. Its like a whole new skillset isn't it?" A flash of a wicked grin as Stark slouches in his chair. "Though I mean, you never let me touch your pack. You know what cool upgrades I could give it right? I could totally give it cool upgrades."

It might also explode. But that is the chance you take.

As Jane pokes his head into the cockpit Stark rolls his eyes towards her and once more smirks. "Less than five." A beatpause. "And do /not/ add quantum boosters to my special jets unless you tell me about them first! I mean god, you know what kind of superstructure refinements I need to make before the plane just doesn't /explode/ with your modifications. Would take me…" A pause. "…a day at least. Two tops."

Yes. He at least thinks he's that good. "Besides this jet already outruns most speedsters. May Quickie cry tears of envy. Or something."

Sure enough though there is an island in the front of the plane, easily seen though the viewport, slowly getting bigger as the advanced aircraft streaks towards it.

Looks perfectly clear right now at least.

"…I don't think its the waiting thats getting her. Its there what might be happening while she's waiting." He adds towards Bobbi. A beatpause. "Oh yeah. Jane this is…Mockingbird or something like that? New SHIELD attachment. Cause…"

Stark pauses. Its an awkward pause for him, before he looks away, back ahead again. "…well anyway. New. Just…land anywhere you want." This towards Sam. "I own the place."

As in the whole island.


"Sir," A clipped voice comes from one of the armored soldiers on the third level down. "They know where here. Found a camera."

A man in green and yellow armor, matching the others with him grunts and nods. "Capabilities?" He querries as he adjusts the sights of his weapon.

"One Agent, the woman Hawkeye. One speed based meta. One…" There is a frown. "…we aren't compleatly sure what he does sir. The other meta. He seemed to be able to scan for life signs."

There is a nod from the team lead. Those were all expected.

"One more, sir." The scout replies. "Its…" A pause. "Winter Soldier."

The leader of the ambush squad pauses, eyes wide behind his red tinged goggles. Bucky Barnes here? That…is unexpected. This was supposed to be a simple ambush.

"Get the reinforcements moving. Switch to the special toys, and have our…backup…get ready. Lets see if the man is worth what we paid for him."

Billy would see a group of six figures sudden move, up from the fifth floor towards the third. Reinforcements en route.

Gives them options.

Good instinct.

He just got complimented. By Bucky Barnes. Captain America's sidekick very good friend and living legend. You have to say something cool, Billy, say something cool, don't just rub the back of your neck and say something meek like a doofus —

"Umm. A-heh. Thanks. I've got a pretty — … … good instinct."

And Billy just rubs the back of his neck and says something meek.

Like a doofus.

Immediately clearing his throat, Wiccan refocuses himself on the matter at hand as Bucky explains it; to his credit, the young Avenger seems to pay attention to the last detail. Like some sort of inverted mirror of his definitely-not-brother, Billy Kaplan takes this all incredibly seriously and commits everything towards making sure this mission goes well. Even if this really did start as some simple, easy check up, there's something obviously amiss here. He tells himself it's for the benefit of the crew that he try his best. And that's largely true.

But if he proves how well he can do in unexpected circumstances like this, against a real threat — maybe then Tony will actually take him seriously. And that's not a thought that's easily dispelled.

So, brown eyes follow Bucky's gaze towards the elevator as he finishes speaking. Rubbing one forearm, he starts to approach it as Kate weighs in her opinion, eyes narrowing in thought. Tiny tremors run through the sapphire tendrils of his senses that extend throughout this place. His frown just deepens all the more.

"I think they know we're on the move. They're starting to mobilize — a group of six from the fifth floor, they're moving… up." Towards the third, he'd assume. He looks towards that elevator shaft for a quiet moment.

I say take the route that makes it difficult for them to do that.

"… and then either way, we'll be in a position that's advantageous for us, if they're not expecting us to go this route. Right?"

Billy looks down that shaft. He takes in a deep breath. Closes his eyes. "Let me go first. If anyone slips, I can… probably catch them."

Probably. He shouldn't have said probably. That doesn't sound confident, like a hero.

"I mean. Definitely."

That just makes it sound worse! Dammit, Billy!

And so, exhaling that breath in a sigh, Billy waits to hear yea or nay from their chaperone senior Avenger, before just taking a step forward — and starting to float down that elevator shaft, towards the third sublevel, keeping an eye on those above as he descends, intent to shuttle them all into the third floor to aid in the ambush and provide defense.

It'll be fine, probably.


I say take the route that makes it difficult for them. Kate's corresponding glance at the elevator shaft brings a brief grin to the former Winter Soldier's features. Much needed; he hasn't smiled much since the news of Peggy, and Phil. It's always invigorating to be around young people carrying on the torch.

Well, most of them, anyway.

"I'd have picked the same," he says, with a brief nod of approval for Kate's assessment, and Billy's plan to go first in their shuttle down the elevator shaft. "Since they know we're here now, though, no time to waste. Head down the elevator shaft and hit them hard and fast, before the reinforcements have time to group up. But don't get too split up. Don't wanna go too far, the cavalry's about five mikes out and won't take it kindly if you don't leave 'em anything to play with."

He's eyeing Speed as he says it, perhaps knowing the effect saying 'fast' is going to have.

His mouth quirks in a flicker of dry humor. "I'll meet you down there," he says, before shouldering his rifle and walking — in the opposite direction. Within moments he's vanished soundlessly in the darkened facility, as easily as one might expect of the Winter Soldier.

He won't make a reappearance, either, up until the young Avengers have engaged the men. Once the group of hostiles is well and truly engaged, turned to deal with the incursion from the elevator… the Winter Soldier will materialize from the stairwell they've taken their attention off, hitting them in the back like a hidden knife.


Sam Wilson's interest has been piqued and therefore he's actually going to let his conversational shields roll down just a bit. It's very hard to both like and not like Tony Stark. It's a very strange position to be in. A very strange feeling to have.

And it's also at this moment that Sam Wilson knows /exactly/ what James Rhodes was talking about that night they had beers. So many beers.

"Tell me about these upgrades."

Heam focuses in on the most safest place to land… and the closest. He just wants to put this jet down so he can get into a position that makes more sense. Also, weapons. Also, his wings. There's going to be a lot of action down there, he's pretty sure and it's been a little bit since he's had an opportunity to get into some action. He hasn't punched anything bad in a long time. This is going to be more fun than the last time too, probably. The last time he was punching things… it was to survive. This should be much easier.

When Sam touches the jet down and starts turning the thing off, BEFORE SOMEONE UPGRADES THE ENGINES AND KILLS THEM ALL, he glances back over to Stark. "… And I want one of these too. Pre-Exploding Engine." Hey, if Stark is in a giving mood, he might as well capitalize.

Hey, she smiled. And she complimented him! She's totally got the Need for Speed.

Once they regroup, though, there's a short conference. Honestly, Speed tries to pay attention. He really does. But the situation has already got adrenaline in the impetuous youth's veins, and that makes it all the harder to dial down to a more normal human level of perceiving the world: They're just talking so slowly, and coming up with things at this snail-like pace. Like he was watching grass grow.

So he fidgets. He looks around, keeping an eye on the other directions since Wiccan mentioned the mysterious and probably very bad guys were coming up towards their floor. He thinks about how Billy is embarrassing himself trying to impress this old dude. And honestly what is it with him and Kate Bishop anyway? Just because he's got that like grizzled experienced badass dude thing going for him with just a dash of byronic brooding, and he's all like super soldier fit, and…

Yeah, okay, actually Speed kinda gets it.

But finally, finally, oh sweet baby Moses finally, they come to a decision. And Wiccan is floating down the elevator shaft, and Barnes is heading the other way??

"HeyIthoughtweweresupposedtosticktogetherdownhere," the white-haired youth grouses, hopping lightly from foot to foot. "WellwhateverhecangotakehisOvaltineorwhateverlet'swhoopsomeass."

He gives Kate a big grin and a wink - the wink is too fast to be seen by the human eye, ruining it - and then he vanishes.

What happens, if one could perceive activity at the rate Speed was moving, is that he runs into the elevator shaft, down the wall, and then the doors at the third floor EXPLODE into the corridor, a sudden rush of speed applied to their molecules, atomic-level chaos with only one possible result.

"THIRDFLOOR,HOUSEWARES~!" he quips, so fast the words bleed incomprehensibly together, running on the ceiling, high-velocity mayhem aimed at anyone he doesn't recognise. "SORRYTHATWASN'TACTUALLYAVERYGOODONEHEYAREYOUBADGUYS?!"

In a moment of detachment, Jane lets her dark eyes center back on the closed hatch of the still-moving jet. Psychologically gearing herself up.

This isn't her first dance — and especially not with this ceiling of worry hanging down over her. But it was only ever one other time without James already at her side. He's a grounding presence in combat situations, and without him —

Her track record is opening a black hole smack in the heart of Wakanda. Exhaling, Jane bores her eyes into the hatch, focused on her heartbeat — some sort of haphazard slouching toward Zen, or whatever it is.

It takes her a moment to register that Bobbi is speaking to her; after a beat, Jane glances over, eyebrows slightly raised. Some of that darkness leaves her face; she smiles, though it can't quite touch her sleepless smiles. "Yep," she answers, a little airily. "Waiting and me have never really been good friends."

Her eyes turn at Tony's interjection, making introductions — Mockingbird is her name — and Jane seems to approve. "Call me Jane," she adds to Bobbi. No superhero names here, apparently.

Then, at the announcement of landing, Foster goes back to business. She zips up her side-bag and loops its strap over her shoulder. The strap on her rifle crosses to the other, the weapon settling comfortably into her hands, barrel down. Eyes tunnelling forward, she waits for that telltale nudge of landing —

— because the physicist is going to be out the hatch the instant it opens. No waiting whatsoever.

Bobbi remained relaxed as she sat, waiting for the landing. She offered an easy smile to Jane and a wiggle of her fingers in lieu of a wave. "I'd say happy to work with you, but that might jinx things. I typically hate waiting too." She offered simply. It was less that she was at ease with waiting, she hated it, but she was resigned to it. Though the suggestions of upgrading the jet further yet drew amusement to her blue eyes.

Tony earned a dry look with his interjection, "Cause it's a job, and frankly I needed more time out in the field. Too much time spent in the lab." She shrugged and rose from the seat as Jane gathered her weapons. Her intent clear to follow the woman as soon as the plane touched down. Buddy system and all that. Plus, given what she knew about Stark and Falcon meant they were fliers, and she decidedly was not. Jane looked as just the easier choice in that.

And when Bucky turns to her and smiles that way…

The darkened facility goes from a foreboding science fiction nightmare to a bright sunny day on the beach, light from overhead glinting from those impeccable rows of teeth. The breeze comes out of nowhere, tousling that perfect, glorious hair. She doesn't know why this is happening in slow motion, but what the hell, Kate thinks. She will roll with it.

Also, for some reason, Bucky Barnes is also shirtless, and standing on a cliff overlooking said beach as rolling waves spray sea foam dramatically all around him while 'Hello' by Lionel Richie plays in the background.

She's definitely fine with this also.

But when Billy says he'll go first, the fantasy fades abruptly and she looks up. "Huh? What? Oh, yeah, sure Wiccan, you go ahead."

No, she's not grinning goofily. It was all in your imagination. Shut up.

Billy floats down. Speed rushes in, straight down the shaft, and with a shrug, Kate leaps behind him, snagging the metal cables stringing through the length of the shaft with gloved fingers as she slides downwards. Eyes tick through the numbers…

And when she gets to the right floor, there's already a hole through the doors. She leaps, lands in a roll, and follows after Speed's wake, her baton in the ready.

The very first conscious guy she sees, and she can see quite far, gets a flying baton, with that dangerous, impeccable aim, right for his adam's apple.

Followed by the rest of her.

It is nothing beautiful or graceful. She is sliding right for him, fist cocked back to punch him right between the legs, before scissoring upwards, bow unlocked and unsheathed in a blink of an eye with one of her arrows nocked and ready for bear, looking for her next target.

There are moments where everything happens at once, and there are moments where its much worse than eveything happening at once. This is one of /those/ moments.

Billy starts to float down at a sedate pace. Bucky makes for the stairs. Kate makes for the elevator shaft…

…but no one. NO ONE. Can match the shear speed of…well…Speed.

Who of course reaches the bottom first.

Of course blows the doors wide open.

…and Kate, even over the rush of the wind, the roar of the tearing of metal, the chatter of a hyperactive meta…she hears one thing loud and clear. Echoing off the sides of the shaft like a sweet terrible music.

The sweet terrible /click/ of a tripwire going off.

…what? They were professionals!

Air suddenly turns to frost, snow fills the interior of the hallway as ice mines, carefully set up, explode in a chain that whoever set them are /hopeing/ will get the speedster.

They /knew/. That should instantly make someone wary.

Of course knowing and practice are different things, and half the ambush team goes down before those mines even finsh exploding.

Though it does mean that Tommy has a /lot/ of frictionless surface to deal with. So…uh…how are his breaks?

Kate though will get a face full of the ice, and Billy will get a tail end of the cryoblasts. Even as Hawkeye rolls forwards and slams into one of the remaining upright ambushers. The man chokes for air, his raising weapon not fast enough as he collapses to his knees.

The leader of the ambush team makes a quick headcount and whirls towards the stairs, even as his minion opens fire on Kate. Fully automatic rounds stutter down the hallway towards her, hoping the ice can keep the speedster occupied for long enough for him to land a shot.

Bucky though? When he bursts from the stairwell would find a single figure left there. A figure in horribily familiar armor with a bulky looking weapon that is anything but standard issue.

"Soldier." There is a sneer in that tone. "Ready to come home yet?"

He doesn't wait for an answer though. Pulling the trigger as the weapon hums and then spits a beam of blue energy towards the former Winter Soldier. At least they know what made the scorch marks now?


On the fourth floor? The reinforcements kick up the pace, dashing up the stairs to assist with the battle already underway.


Sam lands the jet, and Stark smirks slightly. "Well you know. Speed. Weapons. Awesomeness. The usual things I'm known for…" He drawls when asked about upgrades. "…and sure you can have one of—"

Stark is cut off as the sudden shrilling of a missile warning system as a trio of missiles arc up from the water around the island before angling down towards the jet. They punch /though/ both wings, spiking the vehicle to the ground but not exploding.

But takeoff is gonna be difficult.

A trio of little anphibious jets lurch from the water. The green and gold coloring making them imeadeatly IDable.

Stark pauses. "ALRIGHT FINE I SHOULDN'T HAVE SAID IT WASN'T HYDRA!" He calls out as he lurches from his seat. "Upgrades later. Fight now! Pack is in the back!" He tosses towards Sam as he moves out of the jet himself and his armored faceplate cycles shut as he throws himself into the air.

On the ground things aren't that much better. One of the minisubs turninng to strafe fire for Jane and Bobbi as anphibious troops rush out of the water and onto the beach, fireing as they go.

Not looking great…


….so Steve Rogers isn't that great with GPS. Or landing. But maybe Jessica Drew is better with at least one of those things. Since a second Avenger's jet seems to be on approach, just in time to see…well…everything go poorly.

Seems like a good time for a dramatic entry.

Billy sees that look, Kate. He's not blind. He knows exactly what that look means.

Which is why, as Kate makes her way down the elevator shaft, Billy is already there nearing the entrance, eyes glowing a bright cerulean shade and his expression oh-so-knowing.

"Was it 'Magic Man'?"

Because he's definitely never made a face like that before, or during this mission.

"For me it was 'Magic Man'."

Shut up.

Not that he has much time to dwell, as Speed -bursts- through at high speeds, as he is wont to do, and —

— rushes right past a trip wire —


FWWSSHHH goes the explosions of ice, immediately condensing moisture in the air into bright, beautiful crystals of jagged frost rips across the air around him, too swiftly, and taken too by surprise, for him to erect a shield. Jagged edges of cold bite into his outfit, tearing supernaturally-spun cloth and cutting flesh beneath in a way that makes Wiccan's teeth grit in pain as he stumbles back.

Not great.

His first act is to see if Tommy and Kate are alright. His second?

Is to immediately lash out, one hand snapping forward as the chilled air begins to ionize. Plasmic arcs sputter — and bolts of electricity conduct through the rapidly cooling air, branching out in wild patterns to jolt through to try to provide cover for Kate and Tommy. They're moving. Like they're accounting for something. Like they're getting ready for —

"Mr. Barnes," mutters Billy, eyes widening. He can't stop the first shot of blue energy from firing. He can't, and somewhere deep inside, he knows he can't.

"Misfire misfire misfire"

But it doesn't stop him from trying.

The blonde was all ready to go, Mockingbird ready to kick ass and take risks and… as the doors to the jet opened up and revealed some rather impressive amounts of fire power Bobbi did the reasonable thing. She hooked her twin batons back to where they belonged and ran back inside the jet. In terms of weight class, she was a lightweight, and those guns and the alike were heavyweights.

She really didn't enjoy the idea of becoming mince meat on her first day out as an Avenger either. "I'll get us some cover fire." She called to Jane, as she ran.

"Fight smart, not stupid." She muttered to herself, as she hunkered herself back into the pilot's seat, and grabbed for the guns she knew had to exist on the jet. After all, this was Tony Stark's jet and when all things considered, the man liked his guns, right?

Plan cover fire was a go.

Bucky Barnes is blithely oblivious to whatever havoc he might be causing in the hearts of women and men. Though then, there's the final remark he makes before he vanishes — "Mind on target, Hawkeye." Hmmm.

Now, there's always going to be unavoidable hazards in engaging a group of people laying in ambush. Mainly… no matter the precautions taken, the enemy will always be aware of you before you are of them, and — even if they lose the element of surprise critical to their ambush — their initial position is bound to still be so defensible that they won't be dislodged from it. Not by anything short of the kind of 'lethal area of effect' tools that they haven't brought.

Since, you know, this was meant to be a simple repair op.

That leaves them in the unenviable position of having to breach a dug-in unit. Not unlike storming a German machine gun nest, he thinks grimly. Bucky tells the kids to stick together, maximize their advantage with teamwork, but that's about all he can do other than split from them and attempt to even the odds by hitting from the back in a pincer movement.

Of course, before he's even halfway down the stairwell, he hears the ice trap go off. He groans to himself, and picks up the pace.

Neither did he account for the figure that turns to meet him, when he kicks in through the stairwell door. It stops him dead. He's initially silent to the armored man's challenge, but fury smokes slowly to life in his narrowed blue eyes.

..Ready to come home yet?

The weapon fires. Billy worries, but not for nothing did James Barnes scream on a lab table for years. He's not half so fast as Speed, but still quick enough to weave under the shot like smoke and slide in close. "No," says the ex-Winter Soldier, as he terminates his closing maneuver with the shriek of his left arm swinging around. The strike is aimed to crumple his opponent's trachea. "Ready to die yet?"

For the record, Captain America had planned on being on time. Sometimes, life doesn't work out that way. But how was he supposed to know that a simple trip to get some latte before the mission would involve a magical trip through time and space? How was he supposed to know that his shield would be thought to the answer to the Riddle of Steel and that he would be forced to team up with a Barbarian King to find a way back home? But this isn't about that story. *

Instead, it's about a certain mission in which Captain America is transporting himself and Jessica toward the fight. Flying high in the plane, Captain America is preparing himself for a drop, letting the autopilot do its thing. "HALO drops aren't so bad, after the first ten, they start being kinda fun. Just remember the important thing-"

Suddenly there are warning lights and sounds as a few pot shots from the Hydra seem to actually hit the plane. "That's just some bad luck right there," Steve points out with a small frown as he moves to the front. "The autopilot got damaged, I'll have to bring her down somewhere safe."

Somewhere out there a SHIELD handler gets on the radio. "Captain America, you just eject, it's really not safe."

"But this could go down and hurt a lot of innocent people, I'll guide it in and-"

"Captain Rogers, the Autopilot isn't damaged, just have to reset it. Whenever you fly something, we always make sure there are redundant systems for the autopilot. Like the remote piloting that I'm engaging now to take out some of the people."

"I'm not sure how I feel about that."

"Well, you'll be dead if you don't leave now."

Times like this makes Steve really sad when Peggy can't be his handler. But sorrow aside, Steve races past Jones. "See you down there!" he calls out before he leaps out of the plane toward the flight deck. Without a parachute. Because well, he's Cap.

  • «Though if you want to read about the thrilling tale, pick up Captain America/Conan the Barbarian #1-6: By Sword and Shield! — Editor "Ninja"James»

"…Hydra. I hate Hydra." Jessica emerges from the back of the ship wearing a skintight red suit that covers her from neck to wrists, and all th e way to her feet. A picture of a three foot white spider dominates her front, poised to climb up her chest. The green-eyed woman comes to her feet in the middle of the jet and takes a deep breath.

"Okay. So you're going to land this thing-" Jess looks over at Steve and then gives her head a hard shake in a flurry of dark tresses. "Are you sure we're going the right way? Dam nit. You know, say what you want about those assholes at Hydra but they knew how to make a quality teleporter…"

Steve sprints past Jessica and slams the release to the flight deck doors then leaps off the side of the plane. She squints after him, frowning. "I'm supposed to be the reckless one. You're completely throwing off my dynamic here," she complains.

A quick visual assessment. flight thingy. Joystick. Another joystick. …Aha! "If Fury asks Steve did it. Old coot was born before digital displays." She reaches past the copilot seat, slams a hand down on the disable autopilot button. She nudged the control stick to line the plane up with the oncoming jets and then squawked in an unlady-like way as the plane lurched to comply.

"Here goes!" Jessica too leaps from the inside of the plane. Behind her is the rumbling shriek of tearing metal followed by a brilliant yellow-orange explosion as to jets collide in midair. For her part Jessica spreads her arms and gracefully begins to - glide - through the air. Wind whistles past her, brunette tresses flying into the woman's face. She spirals about listlessly, trying to get her bearings and wipes the hair away repeatedly, spluttering.

There's another jet. It's a lot bigger than Jessica. Now it is time for a fun fact about Jessica Drew. She gathers bioelectric energy and stores inside of her body where one might expect lymph nodes - or venom sacks in a spider. Sometimes a discharge occurs when she is frightened. Normally it wouldn't bring down a jet but as it happens Jessica is flying directly at the front of it.

Inside of the vehicle a terrified Hydra pilot is shouting. "Gruppenfuehrer! Das flugzeug reagiert nicht!" Captain! The plane isn't responding! Followed by shouts of, "Eine spinne greift-" A spider attacks—-

Jessica ends up clinging to the front of a Hydra jet as it drops from the sky like a stone. "I wish I could actually flyyyyyyyyyy-"

Mind on target, Hawkeye.

"Yes sir," she says, as she (very attentively) watches the Winter Soldier walk away.

Was it Magic Man?

The socialite's head whips around, dark blue eyes wide and more than just a little bit mortified that someone's managed to interpret her expression to that extent. "What makes you think I— " And Kate sees the knowing look on Billy's face. She hangs her head.

"Lionel Richie. It's a classic, no judgment." She doesn't specify which song because, seriously, which else could it be?

And when they get to the spot of trouble…

Whatever marvel is present on her features at seeing Speed run so fast fades almost instantly when she hears that tripwire snaps in twain. She only has time to hear it and register what it means before her expression flattens: "Ah, //fuck m— //"

Freezing mist explodes in the room, moisture in the air crystallizes at a rapid pace. She gets it right in her eyes but this close to the person she is attacking, she doesn't need to - she can visualize her moves in her sleep. A quick hand swipes at her eyes, but there's no time and she's already taking aim.

The other gunman has the real advantage of being out of her sight while she grappled with the other one.

Before Kate can be riddled with bullets, Wiccan performs a breathtaking feat of reality warping; a phenomenon that she has never had the opportunity to witness before. But she recovers herself immediately, bowstring snapping as the single arrow goes for the throat, the blunt arrowhead reminiscent of an older design - Black Widow's famous stingers. It's not like they're going to learn anything if they kill them all, after all.

She goes from next target and the next, projectiles flying from her bow and unerringly accurate with that dangerous eye.

Sam Wilson is in the middle of strapping on his pack and pulling on his goggles when all sorts of missile hell breaks loose. It's not a pretty sight to see the jet he just asked for one of get riddled with missiles but its a lot better than, y'know, actually getting explodinated.

"I'll e-mail you a list." quips Sam to Stark before he takes off in a run in the direction of the HYDRA JETS that have decided to take to the skies. "Up, up and— nope. Just. Nope. Not doin' it."

Sam Wilson leaps into a somersault and as soon as he gets enough air, the wings on his pack extend out, thrusters activate and he's spinning into the sky as FALCON! #NotAllMillenniums

"No, you don't." Falcon says to Jessica Drew as he reaches out to catch one of her arms. He's hoping he can make this rescue as smooth as he's making these words that are coming with it. "Because that'd put a serious dent in my side gig: Rescuing Falling HYDRA Jet Destroyers." Falcon flashes a witty banterish grin at Jessica.

Meanwhile, the one upgrade he already has, REDWING, in all of its droneness speeds off in the direction of that last HYDRA Jet that's going to be annoying if they don't do something about it. Falcon has his free hand up at the side of his goggles, so he can see what REDWING sees and as soon as the fuel tanks are locked on, Falcon allows the Redwing to fire off some explosive mini-missiles for explosive purposes.

"… God, I missed this." Comms are already on and he's pretty sure he's noticed the Red, White and Old show up. "Hey Cap! You're late-on-time, again! Did you get lost in a different dimension again? Or did you lose your Metro card… again?"

Not even a few seconds' lope off the jet —

— and Jane witnesses it get missiled to hell.

"Shit!" she shrieks, taking cover, hugging her weapon close as her widening eyes take in the burning wreckage — their way home. And that's the least of their problems.

Not when shapes make sinister, gilded detail against the sky, and raise from the water in their twisted — familiar shapes. Familiar as the reports she's read, familiar as the Hydra intel that's been her life the last half-year. Her jaw tightens. Her hands curl against her rifle.

It's telling that Jane Foster, over the comm, doesn't even rise to Tony's quick remark about Hydra — she goes silent, cold and deadly. The assholes who tortured James decade after decade. The sons of bitches that nearly broke her. The shadow cast over her life this past year and a half, and every time she thinks them gone —

"Tony," is Jane's low, thin voice over the comms, "You need to get communications up. I need to hear they're alive."

Her eyes avert to Mockingbird close by, little through the gunfire but to listen to the woman's plan. Cover fire. Jane answers with a quick, breathless nod. "Thank you."

She shoulders her rifle and takes aim at the approaching troops, all of James's lessons in her ear. Jane aims true. That is, until the minisub takes shape, and its hull unable to be breached by her weapon, the impact of its gun forces her back down — behind shrapnel of one of the jet's fallen wings. Sparks christian the air around her head, punching through metal, the sounds like needles on her eardrums.

Jane has one recourse left. She opens her side-bag, and pulls something free — palm-sized, forged steel. Like a grenade, but smoother, smaller. She taps a series of buttons to arm it.

One of her newest experiments.

Taking in a breath, she stands up from cover and hurls it toward the minisub. The detonator, on impact, is not meant to explode. No fire. No charge. No boom.

Only a sudden, quantum shift — particles spinning into an inescapable dense center to implode the minisub, fold it in, crumple it down into nothing.

It's almost the super coolest plan.

Speed vibrates those elevator doors into explosive oblivion, but unfortunately this means that even though he's on the ceiling, and not the floor where most people would put a tripwire, the tripwire goes off. His sheer momentum means he's already well past the elevator by the time the ice mines go off, but that, you know, doesn't help too much.

"WHOAHEYNO—!!" the speedster exclaims as the ceiling is suddenly frozen, which throws his nearly perfect balance off completely. On the ground, this would result in an embarrassing wipeout. On the ceiling, it leads to gravity mugging him for his lunch money, slamming into the (also icy) floor and skidding, rolling…

"All right—" he decides, painfully. Everything else seems to be in slow motion to him, still. Like they were all moving through molasses. Bullets misfiring, arrows…

"no more" He can't get proper momentum, but that's fine. He doesn't need to go fast. Not right now. A wide, wild grin tugs at the corners of the speedster's pale mouth, and he feels the molecules that make up the ice. It's just frozen water, you know: It's just water without speed. If he was another kind of speedster, this would be another kind of problem.

Instead, he just starts accelerating the ice. Accelerating the particles. Faster, faster, faster. You have to be faster.


A moment ago, the water was ice. The hallway was cold. Now, the water is steam, or at least what of it is in front of Speed. The hallway is hot.

Plus, you know, the explosion.


Well…there are bad plans. And there are BAD PLANS. And Ambushing the Avengers Without A Small Army is officially a BAD PLAN. You would think Hydra would know this by now. Unless there was some other neferious reason to do this. Who knows though. It /is/ Hydra.

Regardless just before the leader of the ambush and proclaim victory because his missiles have imobilized the Avenger's jet…the second one rolls over and slams into one of the hovering minisubs as two figures leap from it.

The commander watches in horror from his own ship(one still safely under the waves). One of the figures lands on a /second/ minisub and sends in careening from the air…and seconds later a drone blows it to kingdom come as well. The third sub reorients towards Falcon, heavy round punching towards him and Jessica as it tries to tear them from the sky…

…and stops as a quantum displacement turns it into a cube the size of a fist.

On top of that the men on the ground, ten in number, all now notice the red-white-and-blue figure falling from the sky.

Jane finds the fire in her direction suddenly MUCH LESS as all the Hydra ground forces reorient fire on Captain America.

Because really. Its /Captain America/.

Well all but one, one figure is different. He carries no guns, and walks upright. Nonchalant almost. No body armor. No weapons. Just a wetsuit as he makes his way up the beach towards where Jane and the others are.


Things go from bad to worse for the ambush party on the interior. Between reality warpers, Winter Soldiers, Hawkeyes and Speedsters they don't really have that much of a chance. Steam fogs sight and burns skin, arrows slam into armor that does not stand up at those weak points. Reality bends, sending bullets off in directions not entirely Euclidean. And one cybernetic arm makes a satisifying /crunch/ as it slams into a man's throat.

Their commander tried to fire again, but the gun jammed.

For a split second? Everything is quiet…

…and then a quartet of cooked grenades sails /up/ the stairway behind Bucky as the reinforcements make their appearance.

More Hydra soldiers in armor, and one figure. No body armor. No weapons. Just a wide grin on his lantern jawed face, bright eyes and a buzz cut. He entirely looks out of place with the rest of the goons.


Stark nods inside his helment, not even caring if Jane can see it. "JARVIS?" He nods. "Find me the jammer." A few moments later? The commander of the Hydra forces, thinking he was safe under the waves, finds out he's anything but as Iron Man's fist slams though the top of his minisub and into the com array there. "Hope this was important!" He calls out as he tears out the jamming system, letting the coms bust back into life.

There is a brief moment as Cap realizes that the Spider-Woman/Girl/Person has leapt from the plane also without a parachute. Now he feels like a bad role model, but thankfully Falcon is there to help out. The First Avenger lands shield first, letting the unique alloy help break his fall in a way that most people trained in science would likely quirk a brow at. But Cap laughs at physics (when Jane is on the other side of the room), he LAUGHS.

There is a half second beat before Steve is forced to admit the horrid truth to Sam. "…Both."

Shame causes Rogers dearly, however, as now doesn't even have time to attack before he's forced to use his trademark weapon to defend himself. The weapons fire is fierce, causing him to hold out his weapon against the storm of bullets as they threaten to push him back. Steve grunts as he tries to push forward, unable to do much else other than what he somehow does best?. Draw agro while trying to make his way through No Man's Land. **

Calmly, Cap just looks toward everyone else on deck, understanding it's their time take advantage of the presented opportunity. "Always touched you invite me to the best parties, Stark," he replies with a smirk while he waits. "How is the other team doing, we securing all fronts?"

** No Captain America isn't ripping off Wonder Woman, really. But if you want to read about him trying to smuggle a sword while wearing formal wear, read Captain America #1337: Stopping the God of War.

By nature, Billy Kaplan is the type who worries. He knows the Winter Soldier has probably been in worse situations, situations that are probably worse enough that he can't even begin to imagine them. He also knows that Hawkeye and even Speed — yes, even Speed — are highly capable people.

He still worries. And that concern is what propels his power in that moment, a cerulean flash that jams guns and provides a brief reprieve necessary for the others to do what they need to do.

Molecules in the air accelerate until suddenly steam flashes throughout the area, cooking anyone unfortunate enough to be in Speed's way; the excessive heat and humidity cooks at Billy's skin a bit as he snaps backwards, red cloak whipping around him in a crimson swirl of fabric. He looks up — just in time to see the last of those soldiers fall.

"… Was that HYDRA? Did… did we get all of them?" he asks into the silence. "We need to get ready. The other soldiers are going-"

Four grenades bounce across the floor behind Bucky.

"-to be here any second."

Brown eyes widen. And Billy Kaplan reacts on instinct. Eyes glowing that bright shade of blue, his hand snaps out. The grenades roll, and roll…

… and as they explode, a cerulean shield is there, shimmering into existence to greet them.

Billy has a wondrous gift with a frightening level of potential. But just how new he is to all of this, including his power, shows as the force and heat of four grenades go off at once and reverberates through him via that mystical shield composed of the power in his soul. The backlash of it all makes his head snap backwards. And though he might manage to shield the others, with any luck —


— the backlash has Billy slamming back against a nearby wall as his shield shatters, a dazed look possessing him as he slumps downward, blood drooling down his nostrils.

jessica splutters as Falcon grabso nto her arm to rescue her and pulls. there is only one problem for Sam. She doesn't detach from the descending plane. Now all three of them are falling at an altogether unseemly pace, with the dark-haired Spider looking from her work and at the man holding onto her, obviously bewildered.

"Rescuing? Um- thanks!" Jessica shouts over the rush of the wind. "One second…!" Now that they are both in enforced freefall thanks to being attached to the carening jet Jessica leans forward. She spreads her arms. Abruptly the tension attaching her to the jet relaxes and both Sam and Jessica shoot off from the plane at an altogether ludicrous speed.

That was probably unexpected. Jessica lets out a whhoop as they are taking off. "Hold on, Bird Boy," she mutters. For the record, Jess does allow Sam to stabilize her, at least. She can only descend, after all. Without help she WILL hit the ground. Plus, It allows Jessica to take a pot shot at a few of the Hydra soldiers firing on Cap as she arrives on the scene. The result is similar to being hit with a taser. Several times. While soaking wet.

"Thanks for the rescue!"

"HYDRA," the former Winter Soldier confirms in a low growl, retracting his arm with a whir of metal after it hits home. In the aftermath, he doesn't trouble to check which are casualties and which are casualties, which is perhaps not the most surprising attitude for him to have considering it's HYDRA. "Why they set a trap for us here, I don't k — "

Grenades sail up behind him. He whirls — but Billy's shield takes care of the explosions, containing them harmlessly.

But not without cost to himself. Bucky spits a curse and crosses to physically cover the downed reality warper while he recovers, lifting his weapon to his shoulder. The distant sound of crashing, from somewhere outside, brings him to glance briefly up. "Looks like the reinforcements are here," he says. "Cut back up and through to rendezvous with them."

On the plus side, the comms are back up.

"This is Barnes," he reports in over them, his voice calm despite the chaos. The sharp report of gunfire transmits over the comms as he fires at the odd, unarmored man in the midst of the oncoming reinforcements, not troubling to try to keep his shots nonlethal. "Holding with the team on sublevel 3."

The world suddenly grows rather hazy when cold turns to heat, and ice turns to water and steam. Speed manages to get rid of the other stragglers through wisps of white-gray.

But before she could declare the floor clear, ears prick at the distant sound of rushing boots, and the metallic clang of canisters on the floor.

The grenades probably would have vaporized the hallway were it not for Billy's efforts - but it sends him flying, a bird crashing in full tilt against a wall.

Her lips part, but it looks like Bucky is already moving to cover him. Dark blue eyes sweep the vicinity to lock into Tommy. "Speed, get him out of here!" Or at least away from the line of fire now that HYDRA reinforcements are clattering up the stairwell.

With that, Hawkeye moves. She is in no way as fast as Tommy, but she dashes to the very end of the hallway and she doesn't stop. As reinforcements wind their way up, she braces a boot over the rails and launches herself up and over. A grapple gun fires upwards, the hook latching into the ceiling, the cord snapping taut as she twists mid-air and descends right into the lower half of the ascending line, legs lifted and bent at the knees in an attempt to kick into the face of the first HYDRA soldier she finds and keep pushing, to topple him and those behind him like dominos as she finishes her aerial run, swinging under the overhang from where she had dropped.

And the moment she lands the bow folds in and converts into a staff and picks off the other stragglers. She'll leave the dangerous-looking, widely-grinning guy to Bucky.

"Anytime." Falcon tosses that to Jessica after they've managed to combined their talents and blast through some HYDRA suckafoos with relative ease. He swoops with those wings to land on the ground, so that Jessica has somewhere to put her feet again and also to meet up with Redwing as it zips back to lock into place with the rest of his tech.

For a moment, Falcon wonders if he's going to end up with a whole Flock of Redwings if he lets Stark upgrade his stuff. This gets a smile before bullets are headed his direction and that's just not good.

"Seriously?" Falcon's hands go up and guns spin into them and he starts shooting back at these fools that have interrupted his daydream.

By some twist of fate, the moment he turns to meet up with some of the other heroes on this mission, he ends up running alongisde Captain America in a moment of cinematic bliss that might be ruined by the rolling of Falcon's eyes.

At hearing Barnes' voice over the comms.

There is a moment, when Jane — cornered by minisub-fire, and unsure if anyone is dead, alive, or worse, captured, captured, captured, put back in that machine, James Barnes back in that machine — looks up, and sees a streak of a familiar shield in the sky, coming down.

Captain America made it to the party, after all.

She hitches a sharp, shaky laugh, despite it all. Relief comes at the best moment. It's just like Bucky's stories. Steve is still jumping from planes.

And even more to help that relief — the sound of Bucky's voice over the comms. Jane feels a knot inside her give way. "James," she answers quickly. "We're outside. All of us. We'll clear a way out."

As for now? Looks like it's a successful field test on her Jeans Mass detonators. She'll really need a better name for those.

Something catches her eye — Jane, trained to see anomalies in the algorithm. Her attention rivets to that man on the beach — no armor. No good. She doesn't like that beeline he's taking.

Free of fire her way, and able to stand, the tiny woman shoulders her rifle, marching forward in a tight, vigilant confrontation, aggression framing her every sharp line. "You!" she snaps behind her aimed gun. "On the ground!"


The Hydra forces there are…not in the best of spots. Their air support down. The Avengers on the ground in force. Captain America doing what Cap does in absorbing all their fire…I mean really. That shield of his is just an auto-taunt button for Hydra.

The strange figure in the wetsuit cocks his head to one side. There is a frown on his face before he sighs, nods, and starts to fall back towards the water. Though there is a look tossed at Jane of all people. A look of recongition. A wide grin and then he's backing up again, away again, back towards the ocean to get the hell out.

The Hydra forces on the beach /would/ do that, if they wern't taking fire at the time. Jessica's electric blasts drop three of them, Falcon's guns take more. The retreat is real at this point. They did not expect this kind of resistance.

Underwater, Stark continues to wreak their command sub. Tearing bits and pieces out of it with his bare, iron hands. "Woops. Hand slipped! That looks important! I bet you don't need that anymore!" Stark is just basicly being…well…himself right now.


The grenades go off and…do nothing. Thanks to Billy's sacrifice. The reality warper saving everyone at the cost of a nosebleed. And possiibily a concussion. That /also/ was not according to plan. But nothing has been going acroding to plan for the Hydra forces.

Kate swings into the stairway and the first agent gets slammed in the helment by a boot. His balance shot he tumbles backwards, into the next and the next, giving Kate a glorious view of the domino effect as the five armored figures tumble down the stairs.

The unarmored man though simply sidesteps it and keeps coming…

…and then Bucky opens fire. Bullets slam into flesh with wet sounds, exploding out his back in exit wounds. Wounds that sitch up almost before they can bleed. Bright orange light just under his skin traces the wound patterns as they seal and the man just continues forwards before leaping right for Bucky. Arm cocked back to slam a palm strike towards his chest that could dent tank armor.

A hand that is not glowing white-hot as well.

Hot enough to melt steel.

But there is something wrong. Even as that figure throws a punch, there is something wrong with his core. A brilliant orange light can be seen though his shirt, a look of suprise and confusion on his face even as that attack is thrown.

Something is dreadfully wrong.


Jane stalks frowards, patience long gone. She shouts commands and the figure in the wetsuit stops. Turns again. Cocks his head to one side. Those eyes of his go slate gray for a split second. "Hello. Mother." His voice is a thousand voices at once. All running over each other. Buzzing and turning around themselves in a manner to grate the nerves…

But then he shakes his head and the eyes shift back to normal. His voice lossing the demented mass of tones as he instead calls out. "MAKE ME!" And then turns to sprint for the water.

It's probably not the gentlest of takedowns ever, but… Hey, the steam probably didn't kill anybody.

The burns will definitely hurt, though.

There's talk about HYDRA, and Speed isn't entirely sure what the hell that is, but it sounds like it's bad given the way Barnes is responding. There's goons, and a dude who is clearly not a goon since he's standing around without armor or anything and looks way too happy about all of this, and Wiccan went and knocked himself out stopping grenades from turning Barnes into some kind of Winter Salsa, and…

…Barnes is telling them to go. Kate is telling him to get Wiccan out of there and leave the two of them to heroically last stand or something, and to be honest she's pretty badass considering she doesn't have any powers. It leaves Speed scratching his chin.

Suddenly, he's beside the fallen Wiccan.

"Dude," he says, slapping Billy (lightly) on the face. "Dude. Get up, there's like… Bad guys and I think Captain America is out there with no shirt on." Slap. Slap. This isn't working. "Ugh, typical, now I gotta carry you. You know how annoying that is?" He just kinda… Hefts Wiccan over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes. He might not be super superhumanly strong, but still. It's like holding a bunch of grapes. "All right hang on."

"HEY WHY IS THAT GUY GLOWING," demands Speed, carrying Wiccan over his shoulder so that the reality-warper's butt is pointed towards the front, and instead of just going back up the elevator shaft (he could though) he's following Kate's lead and Bucky's instructions and cutting through. With all that terrible speed, he's looking to go through the mystery glowing dude, because confrontations are for suckers when you can just throw a guy down a stairwell.


Tommy comes to the rescue right then. Zipping past Bucky and the Glowing Guy. Before flinging said glowing guy down the stairs. Good news is that he is pretty easily flingable.

Bad news is that OH GOD IT BURNS. Anywhere Tommy touches that he actually TOUCHES…burns. Hot enough to melt well…armor. So Tommy might not be pertiicularly happy but the man does seem suprised and he goes sailing down the stairway.

And from the bottom of said stairway there is a sudden strangled cry, and a concussive /explosion/ of light and heat that. Well. Those Hydra guys likely aren't happy either. In fact they might not be anything now.

…also there might be a hull breach…

…but no one is shooting at them anymore!

Slaps don't really seem to wake Billy up, his mind so helpfully scrambled by absorbing a bunch of explosives as it is. Not even mentioning shirtless Captain America seems to bring him out of his stupor. But, as Tommy picks up Billy and, like the worst guardian angel in the world, runs him right -into- the ominously glowing danger, Wiccan rouses just a bit, brown eyes blinking blearily, so he can deliver one, important message:

"Thomas…" he mumbles weakly, and clearly this must be important because he's using Tommy's -proper name-.

"… she's so completely out of your league, just give up-"

And just like that, he's out like a light again.

Truly inspirational.

For that moment, Jane freezes.

She's prepared for just about anything — anything — when it comes to Hydra, knowing what they're capable of, what they can do…

But 'mother'?!


Behind her rifle, still, unfiring, she watches the man's eyes shift colours — into something unnatural. Hears his voice phlange and distort beyond human. It chills her. Chills her with — she doesn't know what, but she can't dismiss it, can't rationalize it away, can't really do much of anything — save come to, feeling herself hold in place, and watching him flee back toward the water.

Even if he weren't Hydra, or Hydra-aligned, it doesn't feel right to shoot a fleeing man in the back.

And one that called her mother?

Jane isn't quite sure what stays her hand. Uncertainty. Incredulity. Losing adrenaline. Exhaustion.

"What the hell?"

The gunfire falls silent and the only sounds are the groaning of the wounded and the cheerfully crackling fires of the burning Hydra minisubs. Jets. Jetsubs. The Avengers new and old once again stand victorious.

And the majority of the staff of the station saved.

This little ambush though might bring more questions than answers.

Why did they do this?

What was the point?

How did they know who to expect?

What is an Anime?

So many mysterious questions. Not the least of which is who were the two unarmored figures among the Hydra agents, and how in the world did one explode. While the other was just supercreepy at Jane.

The whimpering of the Hydra commander comes over the coms then. As Tony Stark uses his command sub to patch the hole in his station. "Good job, Avengers!" He calls cheerfully. "And you! Hydra guy! Stop crying you totally started this!"

…what. They did.

The Questions still remain, but at least for now the Avengers stand victorious.

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