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Boreal Forest, Ontario, Canada. Dusk.
Fury's head was still throbbing from the explosion and he couldn't see entirely straight yet, but he stuck the broken off branch (wasn't hard to find one, they were smack in the middle of a forest, after all) into the mud anyway and began to sketch out a box. They were running out of time, and lost second could mean a lost life--specifically, an agent's.
"This is the research facility," said Fury, jabbing the box with the his makeshift pointer. "Ex-Hydra, but still active. This," dragging the branch, he drew a thick line in front of the box, "is where the damn bombs went off. They knew we were coming, and they set a trap, which we--I--walked us right into."
Fury gritted his teeth. It'd been a long time since he'd been outplayed like that, and his fumble had left his ego as bruised as his ribs. His first instinct was that someone had betrayed them, but he didn't have the freedom to pursue that now. Again, time was of the essence.
He drew a cross inside the box, splitting it into four smaller boxes. He pointed at the top left one. "Northwest quadrant, that's where Hurricane Squadron last checked in before the fireworks. There's a set of underground tunnels here--" a network of wavy, crudely drawn lines joined the eastern end of the diagram, "--which is used to discreetly transfer patients to and from the facility. I'm sure the place is under some kind of lockdown mode but the tunnels are still our best ticket in. Your objectives are to find Hurricane Squadron and extract 'em."
Fury looked up from the diagram and glared at the not-so-distant building. "Mine is to burn that shithole to the ground." He turned to his team, Squadron Storm. "Questions?"
It was a trap. When was it not a trap? Mack wasn’t going to let himself get bogged down in the details, at least not until they were somewhere safe with a beer in his hand and all of this was behind them. They had a long way to go before that happened and a squadron to get to safety.
Mack was a man that looked for options before riding in guns ablazing but this mission wasn’t his to lead. They had the big man himself for that and he watched in silence as they were given their objective. “No, sir, just point the way,” he said when prompted, preparing himself mentally for entering the tunnels. Dark, confined spaces weren’t his favorite but he’d get the job done.
He embarked with the others, his shotgun-ax loaded and ready for action. Violence wasn’t his first choice but it wasn’t up to him and these people weren’t negotiating. They had to get their people back by any means necessary and when it came down to it, Mack wasn’t going to hesitate.
That the big man himself, the all powerful Fury as he seemed in some people’s eyes, was here in this mess, had actually been at fault for some of this mess and admitting it was an interesting thing to see for Elena. She was used to smaller teams and bit of flying by her pants sort of jobs but this was interesting too. Honestly it was just nice to get out of the Playground and feel like she was doing something.
She watched the stick as it drew shapes in the mud, the finger as it poked and the curse words that fell off the lips. So they had to fight their way through some tunnels, alright. She glanced at Mack and shrugged. To her, that didn’t seem so difficult. At least they all had vests this time.
Pulling her ICER out, she checked the cartridge and gave a nod. ”Alright, lets go then. Piece of cake right?” she joked but she was ready. Getting up she followed the men as they wound through what cover they could to get to the eastern side of the compound. Pausing she glanced around, trying to spot the entrance to the tunnels. Just how discreet were they supposed to be? Were they talking a leaf covered hatch or just an extra entrance to the garage?
Agents Rodriguez and Mackenzie were on his tail as Fury led the way into the tunnels. The entrance was hidden, but not that well-hidden, because there were only a few reasons why the facility would station armed guards this far out in the forest.
Fury didn't waste much time immobilising the guards, and pretty soon he was motioning his squadron inside the tunnel, which dipped into the earth a few feet before rounding into a flat pathway. The inside was brightly lit with white walls and tiles, similar to a typical hospital corridor, and was structurally sound, presumably because they didn't want the place caving in and killing their valuable patients. While it meant there was little worry of ceiling collapse, the harsh fluorescent tubes also meant that stealth was nonexistent here.
Fury suppressed a sigh. The tunnel was clear for now, but who knew how long that would last. They might as well be ducks sitting in a goddamn puddle. "Let's move," he said grimly, drawing his firearm. "Mackenzie, try their comms again--if you can't get a trace, try their trackers." Each field agent was equipped with one of them Stark-made Sokovia Accords trackers, since the UN hadn't trusted SHIELD worth a damn since 2014. (It didn't help that two of the Avengers who defected also turned out to be ex-SHIELD agents.)
"Rodriguez, I want to know what we're walking into. Scout ahead." Fury pointed at the T-intersection about two hundred yards in front of them. "Check for hostiles, but don't engage."
Then, the director frowned. "Actually, scratch that. We lost the element of surprise about fifteen minutes ago. Engage at will, just try not to kill 'em all off before me and Mackenzie catch up." There was a click as Fury switched off the safety of his gun.
@ALPHONSO MACKENZIE @ELENA RODRIGUEZ
Their boots seemed loud and echoey in the sterile space. All white walls and tile floors. Somehow, this was more creepy than if they’d been crawling through a dusty tunnel. Mack knew the sort of thing that went down in places like this and it wasn’t good for anyone.
“On it,” he acknowledged, bringing up the program on his tablet to scan the frequencies. They didn’t answer but he wasn’t terribly surprised about that. He switched gears, pinging their trackers. “I’ve got a weak signal, sir. We’re being jammed but proximity is working in our favor. If you can get me further in, I can probably manage a work around.” It was days like this that he really missed Daisy. She was the computer hacker, not him. At least he’d picked up a few tricks over the years.
Before Elena zipped off, he shot her a meaningful look. It wasn’t the time or the place for words and he knew she’d be careful. He’d be right behind her, along with Fury.
His safety went off after stowing the tablet, moving forward with his jaw set.
”Is it just my mind implanting the hospital smell or does it really smell like a hospital already?” It was a tunnel. Maybe a nice clean, brightly lit, industrial white tunnel but still la tunnel. She didn’t know whether to be glad for the lack of rats and mildew or distressed at the level of maintenance this facility obviously warranted from those that ran it, considering who those people were.
Her ICER was in hand as she moved along with the men in to the facility, the lack of cover was annoying but she didn’t think of it in the same way Fury and Mack might have. The nice clear tunnel meant she could pick up some really good speed.
She glanced at Fury, then Mack, giving him a small quirk of her lips just as she took off. A breeze blew down the hall, disturbing the men’s clothes but that was the only sign of her movement before she was suddenly back exactly where she had been standing a heartbeat before. She dropped a bunch of rifles she’d been carrying by their slings, ”Wait for it..” Holding a hand up with a pair of grenade pins around one finger, she counted down six seconds before the explosions occurred up ahead and around the corner. One of the men had been carrying more then just rifles.
”Sorry.” She wasn’t and her expression showed it. ”I’m sure there will be more.” Of course there would be and that explosion would draw them right in but she had no regrets. The more she took out ahead of them, he less likely she’d have to see Mack take a bullet. Or Fury too of course. "Shall we keep moving then?" So slow!
Comms weren't working but luckily for them, Mackenzie was able to get a signature on the agents' trackers. Faint, but workable. "So those trash trackers are good for something," Fury muttered, and to Mackenzie, he nodded and said, "We'll get in closer." Rodriguez was already on her way.
And she was back. Fury eyed her with a little incredulity. It was almost like she had been standing there the entire time. The explosions that went off at the end of the hall indicated otherwise.
Worst undercover mission ever.
"Rodriguez, Mackenzie, stay with the tracker signals, try and locate our agents!" Fury shouted, mentally counting the number of his men. Three, including himself; for some reason, he thought there had been four of them. He was missing someone. He threw a glance over his shoulder and scowled at the man lagging behind. Murdock Barrett. Fury had almost forgotten he was even there.
Their time together had been brief, but Fury had already observed that Agents Rodriguez and Mackenzie were strong-minded, capable, and would see through the task they had been assigned. If anyone could infiltrate the facility and extract the other agents, Fury would put his money on those two--they were solid as rocks. Barrett, in contrast, was about as steady as a wet noodle. Still, even wet noodles had their uses.
"Barrett, hurry your skinny ass over here before I come over there and turn it inside out."
Running to the intersection, Fury glanced quickly at the burnt bodies before he turned back to Mackenzie. "Which way?" he asked. He tapped a sign on the wall (which had arrows to point where major areas of the facility were located) and pointed to where Mackenzie had stowed his tablet.
@MURDOCK BARRETT's up next! @ELENA RODRIGUEZ @ALPHONSO MACKENZIE
Oh my god oh my god oh my god oh my god oh my god oh my god.
Murdock did not belong there. He was not a field agent. He was not a soldier. He was not good in situations where bloody bullets were flying all over and people were being attacked and bad guys - potentially with super powers - were going to try and hurt him. He was a doctor for christ's sake, not a bloody solider. Honestly, he wasn't even sure how he got there in the first place. Nick Fury himself had requested his presence, and he was still trying to figure out how it was him and not Fitz out here getting damn-near slaughtered.
In response to the threats and commands of Fury, Mud, who had been shaking in the corner, made a nervous little sound - one that was comparable to a balloon leaking air - and scurried across the floor awkwardly to come to rest right beside his commanding officer. He tried to concentrate on the assignment at hand. He was taking all sorts of readings, mapping the building, and trying to think of ways to get through to the other squad. At the same time, he was blatantly and consciously aware that there were charred bodies all around him and that those people had been living only minute ago. The smell alone was about to make him puke.
He looked down to his tablet, hands shaking, and saw they had an opportunity. "Er..." He glanced again at the sign, then down at the electronic partial-map in his hands, then at the sign, down the hall, and back at the tablet. "F-faster this way." He pointed left down a hallway labeled 'Atrium'. "But we will run into more people." He shifted uncomfortably. "That way is longer," he said, pointing down a hall labeled 'Lab A16-32'. "But it's empty right now and it will be for-" He glanced at the heat signatures in the building. "Probably two more minutes. Plenty of time. Either one will work though, the building's like a roundabout..."
Mud took a deep breath and scrunched his shoulder's awkwardly. He was sweating and he thought his heart was going to beat out of his chest. He wanted to go home.
There was a rustle of fabric as Yo-yo did what she did best, speeding past them so fast that all he could see was a blur before she was standing back in the same spot again. That would never get old. He let out a low chuckle as she presented them an arsenal. “That’s my girl,” he said to her, not at all upset that she hadn’t left anyone standing to shoot at them.
His actual choice of words was probably poor for a mission - especially one with the director - but he didn’t try to take them back. He’d just be accused of being a turtle man again if he did. The thought made him grin a bit wider even as he walked further into danger.
Behind them, Barrett scampered to catch up and Mack had to wonder why he was even on the mission. He supposed Fitz and Simmons stepped up when they started going into the field. It was hard to compare this guy to them though.
At least he was taking over on directions duty which allowed Mack to keep his hands from itching for a gun. He might not like violence but he understood there were times that called for it. When their people were being held captive qualified as one of those times.
If it had been his call, he’d go for the longer with less people option but this wasn’t his op. He glanced at Fury, waiting for the man in charge to tell him what to do.
Elena flashed Mack a grin, unlike him she didn’t give a damn if his words were inappropriate for the work place. Just like she didn’t give a damn about fraternization in the work place. ”I thought you only talked to your bike like that.” she teased him for his trouble though.
She started moving back down the hall, with the group this time, at there pace. She’d pulled her ICER back out once their boots started forward again. It did her no good when she was zipping around, the mechanism in the guns couldn’t reset or reload fast enough for her. One shot would likely be all she could get. Much swifter to just knock people upside the head if she had too.
Glancing at Barrett, she shared a look with Mack about the guy. Mirroring his thoughts with a comparison with Fitz and Simmons. Of course that pair hadn’t been new to field work by the time Elena had joined up.
”How much longer?” She asked, glancing down both corridors. ”And just because there is no one ahead of us doesn’t mean the ones that way wont come up behind us. I say short way.” She glanced at the men, ready to do a bit more recon anyway.
As it was, the explosives that had gone off earlier, had in fact been his. It was understandable that it had been viewed as a trap and technically it sort of had been, but not for SHIELD. Nick Fury and his agents had just happened to stumble right into what he had set up to be a distraction. It was still a distraction, that was for sure, but it had been set off earlier than he had intended too. Instead of having the HYDRA agents within the old facility directed towards one source, they were milling all over the place as if it was a damn ant-hill. That hadn't been his plan at all.
Bucky had been perched on top of the roof when the explosive had sounded and hadn't taken him long to realize what had caused it. He still planned on doing what he came there for, the turn of events just meant it was going to be... a little more difficult and time-consuming, the latter being what Bucky was the most concerned about.
The point of entry that he had planned on taking in the first place, was now swarming with HYDRA thugs. The number wasn't an issue if he was able to, he wanted to go undetected. So he stalked across the roof and entered through another vent there, slipping in quietly. It didn't take long before he moved along narrow corridors. At one point, one guard stood outside an open door but without seemingly making a sound, Bucky snatched him by the neck and choked him out.
"Who sent you! I won't ask again." There was first silence, painful silence before the familiar sound of a knife slitting skin. The blood, a gushing flood of scarlet, ran through the doorway and past Bucky's feet.
He'd been prepared to just move past the room, at least until he saw the badge on one of the strapped-down agents arms; SHIELD. It called for a brief pause, where he considered all the reasons he shouldn't engage but was left with the one question that trumped all others--what would Steve do? He'd rescue the poor bastards, of course. So he walked in, fully expecting to get shot at, but instead the man in charge looked pleasantly surprised.
"Oh, I thought we lost this resource--wait--" By the time the man realized that Bucky wasn't stopping and he most definitely wasn't a resource, it was too late. A swift punch across the windpipe had him weeze and sink to his knees and before he hit the ground, one of the Winter Soldier's knives had pinned another man's hand to the wall. Stunned and some horrified, Hurricane Squadron rattled in the beds the best they could, one of them successfully flipping over but not getting much further than onto his face.
The Winter Soldier tore one zip-tie loose before he threw his arm up to protect himself and the closest agent from the blast of a shotgun. He pushed forward, lifting a knee up to ram the HYDRA soldier into the wall with it.
Fury watched with deathly silence as Barrett bumbled his way towards them, looking little more alert than an inebriated jackass in the wee hours of New Year's Day. Barrett hadn't passed his physical, not by a fucking long shot, but Fury had assigned him this mission for a reason, and he just had to make sure the feeble dandelion stayed alive long enough to complete it.
As Barrett listed the possible directions (despite Fury's direct order for Mackenzie to do so, which made the director grit his teeth), Fury thought he heard the distant sound of clattering. It came from the direction that pointed to the atrium. His shoulders tensed when he heard screams.
"Rodriguez, Mackenzie--atrium!" he barked. "Barrett, with me!"
Fury glared at the sign again. He didn't know which direction he needed to take, but if Barrett was right and the place was a goddamn circle, then it wouldn't matter. He darted in the direction opposite of where he'd sent his other two agents, his gun raised and ready for combat.
Barrett was right; the hallway was empty. One by one, Fury tried the door of each room with militaristic diligence, kicking them down or shooting the knob if he found it locked. None of the rooms were what he was looking for. Finally, he found something promising in the form of an unlabelled door that wouldn't budge regardless of either tactic, so he fished out a fingernail-sized explosive from his pocket and attached it to the door.
"Step back," Fury told Barrett, before he shot the bomb. It detonated, permeating the corridor with smoke, but it'd cleared an entrance. Fury stepped inside, kicking aside broken bits of wood and glass, and waved the smoke away with his hand until enough had cleared away to reveal the cold blue glow of blinking LEDs from a fifty-foot long control panel and ten wall-sized, semi-transparent monitors.
"You wanted to know why you're here, Barrett?" said Fury briskly. He tossed the bespectacled man a black thumb drive. "You're gonna help me copy every damn file these bastards have got on these machines. Understood? I don't care if they're holiday pictures or recipes for goddamn tomato soup. Every. Damn. File."
@ELENA RODRIGUEZ @MURDOCK BARRETT @ALPHONSO MACKENZIE @BUCKY BARNES
Murdock was relieved to go with Fury. He had the utmost confidence in Mack and Elena's abilities to keep them protected, but no doubt he would only be in the way when an inevitable fight broke out. He started to breathe again as he scurried off in the opposite direction on Fury's tail.
With every door the director kicked down, Mud jumped a little, but he kept his eyes trained to his PADD. If anyone was coming, he'd be the first to know and they would have time to hide or prepare for a fight. He was so intent on his task that he hadn't even noticed all the ignored rooms. Apparently, nothing in any of the spaces was interesting to Fury, but when he heard the command to 'stand back', Murdock's head snapped up and he saw a tiny explosive being stuck to a thick, steel door that was set apart from all the rest.
He darted inside one of the nearby rooms and waited for the telltale explosion to tip him off to the task being finished. He slipped back out into the hall and followed the director into what looked like a control room of some sort as he sneaked one more peak at his tablet. No one was headed their way yet. They had a bit of time to find whatever it was Fury was looking for.
Murdock approached the panel curiously. It was certainly no more impressive than what they had at SHIELD, but it was still nice to admire the setup. At the sound of his name, Murdock turned to see a tiny, black piece of plastic flying at him. He fumbled to catch it, but once it was in his hands he was puzzled to see it was a...flash drive?
Every damn file? "Yes...yes, Sir." He looked at the drive for a bit longer before turning to the computer and starting to break in. "What exactly are we looking for?" he asked. "I know you'd like every...every tomato soup recipe, Sir, but should we run out of time I assume there is something specific you'd like...?" The system was not especially difficult to hack. As security systems went, it wasn't the most advanced he'd ever encountered, but it was likely someone would know they were meddling very, very soon.
Elena clearly wasn’t going to let him have even an inch. Of course, that just made his grin wider. “There’s room in my heart for two,” he bantered back, glad for the distraction. These missions were intense and it helped keep him in the right headspace if he didn’t get too bogged down in what could go wrong.
Of course, Yo-yo wanted to do the exact opposite of what he would have picked. It fell that way more often than not. Somehow they still managed to get along.
In this case, she got her way, not that she even knew it.
Barrett and Fury went one direction while the two of them went the other. “Just the two of us,” he muttered under his breath, his weapon at the ready as they went down the shorter corridor.
“Do you hear that?” he asked Elena, gesturing forward. It sounded like a fight, muffled by walls. So of course, they moved toward it. Smack dab into a force field that knocked him on his ass faster than he could say shotgun-axe.
@NICK FURY, @ELENA RODRIGUEZ, @MURDOCK BARRETT, @BUCKY BARNES
Trying to make me jealous now?” She shot back with an amused look. The banter might have seemed silly, or distracting, but it was important. It helped keep the mind steady and not focused on the carnage happening around them, of the fear that could grip a person and paralyze them. Sure, Elena and Mack weren’t new at this but maybe Murdock should have given it a try. The guy screamed “Freezes when threatened.”
As they were ordered, she peeled off to the left with Mack, a roll of her eyes evident in the tone of her words. ”Because splitting up the group never goes wrong..” She muttered, and it had worked great already what with the other team captured. ”Don’t get that stuck in my head.” She warned him. ”Sometimes I really worry about SHIELD’s cinematic training, ya know?” She spoke to Mack. He knew. Splitting the group always ended horribly in the movies. And man he had to nervous being the black guy in their new two person team!
”Ya know we’re screwed right?” She glanced at him and then back they way came as they moved along the hall, so far no sign of the soldiers that were supposed to be this way but that wouldn’t last. ”You’re now the token black guy of this two person team and well, I’m not a virgin so...” She shrugged, that pretty much said it all.
Listening she slowed her steps, until Mack walked into something that threw him on his ass and caused a flash of energy to ripple through the air in the hall. ”Mack!” She rushed forward to make sure he was ok, ”Don’t do this, I was only joking!” the sound of orders coming from the direction they’d just come from jerked her head up as a group of soldiers rounded the corner, weapons raised and ready. “We’ve got them pinned..” one started saying into their radio before Elena moved.
Launching herself at the group with her speed she started yanking rifles out of hands and piling them up down the corridor in her haste. When she snapped back she had one still in her hands, turning the tables on them.
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