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When the destruction of Novi Grad in 2015 left thousands dead and over two hundred thousand people homeless, it wasn't just about grieving the lost and finding the survivors new homes. In a country that barely covered 7,000 square miles and had lost a sizeable chunk of that within minutes, there just wasn't enough space to house accommodate everyone. For the first few months, the government turned anything with four walls and a roof--schools, community centres, even parkades--into makeshift residences, but the solution was only a temporary one. The relief funds and support from other countries weren't enough to mend what had been destroyed, and eventually, thousands of Sokovians found themselves homeless on the streets.
With loss comes desperation, and with desperation, crime. Ever since Ultron, Sokovia law enforcement had had to deal with an over tenfold increase in crime rate, the highest in all its history. Some lawbreakers were genuinely desperate, doing just enough to scrape by; others, like organised gangs, saw the outnumbered officers and downtrodden souls as a chance to further their profits.
The latter, who were exploiting an already fragile country and hurting it for their own gain, were the ones Steve went after.
Today, he and Sam were tracking down a few members who were believed to be part of a Sokovian drug cartel; a substance nicknamed 'sentries' (named in poor taste, in Steve's opinion) had recently plagued the nation's more destitute citizens, and was believed to be the cause of erratic crimes that dogged the poorest neighbourhoods. The crimes were mostly small-time, but the last one had escalated unexpectedly, claiming the lives of two police officers.
That was as bad as it was ever going to get, if Steve had anything to say about it.
It seemed surreal, in a way, to be in Sokovia. Sam could admit the country wasn't exactly a large blip on his radar for most of his life. Another space on the map in geography, or a brief lecture in a history class. And while he was a member of the team that had only lived through the battle by watching a news report, there was a somewhat unspoken significance that this was the spot that put so much into the motion. The reason that sparked his invitation to the Avengers. The fallout that would build up to the accords.
He certainly was no stranger himself to war torn countries, though unfortunately in the past it was more so a passing association. He had to go where the fighting was and had people to help, but it did cross his mind more than once that there was always a mess that was left behind regardless. So, when Steve had first mentioned the idea, he certainly had no arguments about being able to do something, or build something (quite literally) at the ground level. Sam was aware how much even the little gestures could help. Plus, while it seemed like a choice that aligned well with their desire for good, he imagined it was the last place the government would expect them to be.
The flyer probably should have put money down that, after some time passed, his partner would be itching to do something a bit more proactive about the country's growing crime rate. The door to door type community service was great, but considering they had the skill set to make the gang members and low-lifes think twice about what they were doing...well, the local police deserved to have one less thing to worry about. Especially after the latest incident.
As the comm in his ear blipped to life, Sam looked up first, taking note of the direction of Steve's arm. He was grounded today for the job, literally. Their actions would probably continue to stir up some rumors one way or the other, but him strapping on the wings would be a surefire way to confirm their identity. However his goggles had been hanging around his neck casually, probably looking like nothing more than a workman's equipment at a glance. With Cap's prompting, he slid them up, tapping the side for a brief zoom in at the target. "Yeah, I got him," he confirmed under his breath.
It wasn't easy to find a place out of sight among the tightly packed buildings, but he immediately duck into the nearest skinny alley. Sam shed the loose jacket he'd been wearing, revealing the light tactical vest he was actually wearing over a black shirt, paired with cargo pants and boots. The pistol previously hiding in his waistband moved to the thigh holster. It all felt more reminiscent of his standard military gear that his Falcon suit, but it definitely fit today's purposes.
His neck craned back to the street, half an eye on the target that was about a half a block ahead of him, though just as quickly saw Steve's acrobatics to get to the street across from him. "Do you even know stairs exists anymore or what?" he remarked dryly. Taking in the expression on the dealer's face, he could guess what was coming next, and picked up his feet before the target even truly broke out into a sprint. He snorted lightly at the question that followed. "Well, maybe if you asked them nicely instead of scaring the shit out of them," he replied bluntly, though there was no mistaking the hint of humor in his tone. Not like he actually felt that bad for the guy.
Steve already had the slight head start on him, but as Sam increased his own pace he was only a few yards behind, and being on the opposite site of the street he didn't have to deal with the impromptu "hurdles". At least for the moment. "Deal. But I swear to God, say 'on your left' even once and I quit!" he couldn't resist adding. Pressing the zoom on his goggles again, he lifted his gaze, debating his options. Trying to time it just right, he raised the small fire arm at his side and aimed for one of the hanging flower pots from a second level balcony. Keeping the bullet well away from the civilian crowd (which was thankfully also already moving away out of the commotion), he blasted it off the chain. The ceramic instantly fall, unfortunately just missing its purpose, grazing the shoulder to make him stumble briefly and hopefully cause a decent bruise, but it didn't make the target stop.
Damn. Would have been one of the more memorable ways he knocked someone out.
@STEVE ROGERS - it's great, thanks for starting!!
Stairs. Steve hid a smile. Sam had a smart remark for everything. It kept things light, even if they occasionally found themselves handcuffed to pipes in an underground warehouse. "Well, where's the fun in that?" Steve asked innocently, a question that happened to pertain to both of his partner's comments.
Steve caught the flash of the metal bullet just before it hit the pot, which gave him the split second heads up he needed as the pot fell from the man's shoulder and onto the ground. "You know, it kind of feels like you're trying to help him," the soldier remarked as he leapt over the splay of ceramic shards. "Great shot, though," he added, and his tone was genuine. With the irregular gusts of wind shifting both the bullet's trajectory and the pot's position, the fact that Sam had hit it at all showed off his incredible marksmanship. Steve was constantly impressed by the ability of his team, and the fact that they placed their faith in him, well, Steve wasn't really sure why they did, but he'd try his damndest not to disappoint them.
Suddenly, the target turned right and ducked across the street, straight into oncoming traffic. Horns blared and brakes screeched as he dodged and wove through swerving cars. Glancing over his shoulder, he saw Steve had stopped on the other side of the street. Certain of his escape, he sneered at Steve and bellowed something in Sokovian. Steve understood enough to know it wasn't a compliment.
"He's all yours," said Steve, watching as the target took off down Sam's side of the street. He waited until the signal turned green before he sprinted across also, but not towards the target.
"He's headed for the marketplace--I'm gonna try to cut him off at the church." Using his momentum to vault himself upwards, Steve's hand caught the bottom of a third floor balcony and he pulled himself up, startling a young woman who'd been hanging up laundry. Unfortunately, the best he could do was shoot her an apologetic look before he took to the rooftop. Making sure his earpiece was still in place, he said, "If not, see if you can squeeze him into Pravda Street--it's a dead end, he'll have no way out."
At least, he hoped not.
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