It took the Commandoes the rest of the month to become battle ready again, and to be fully equipped with Stark’s latest and greatest gear. They wanted to be extra sure that nothing would fail and thus they were very careful about who they told about what they were doing. As a result, Stark and Peggy had to compartmentalize intelligence gathering, so that only they, and subsequently the team, saw the whole picture. Fëanor was not to be discounted with his contribution either. It was his influence and charm in and among the Lords of Parliament that secured their ship and the necessary crew to go with it.
As a result of the extra planning and secrecy, the stealth arctic ship with arctic gear and snow vehicles designed to look just like their soviet counterparts departed from a small hidden port in the north east of Norway, on October 31st. they planned to sail as far as the could into the soviet waters and find the closest location to land their ship before making for the base.
It was cold and windy by the time they finally made landfall a day and a half later. One look at the sky showed the promise of a winter storm on the horizon, and though not in their plans, the group unanimously decided to wait until the cover of the full storm to further aide their assault. The moon was just waning and was bright in the sky before the storm finally rolled in and covered their assault in a blanket of night.
Peggy and Stark remain on the ship but watch the Commandoes go off for one final mission. Peggy looked up at the sky and shielded herself from the high winds that were blowing around the snow in violent gusts that blinded unprotected eyes. She stepped forward to Fëanor and looked him square in the eye.
“Well, general,” she shouted over the wind gust, “it’s now or never. Good luck out there, Fëanor and Godspeed.” Fëanor and Joshua nodded, before the younger of the two climbed onto the arctic vehicle and Fëanor had just turned to go himself, when Peggy’s voice stopped him. “And, Fëanor,” the Noldor elf turned and faced the graying agent once more. “Bring our boys home!” Fëanor smiled under the winter gear and his eyes flashed brightly.
“We will,” he said and climbed into the truck himself.
Steven was sitting in his mission prep room, surprisingly, but it didn’t faze him at all. The room was a dingy faded gray that had once been bright white, but had slowly started to fade with age. There were cabinets of pockmarked stainless steel lining the walls, with reinforced glass doors. Inside were rows upon rows of vials of drugs, specifically formulated to keep Steven under their control. Mood stabilizers and special types of psychotropic drugs meant to take away his will and make it easier for them to start the personality imprint procedure, to name a few were amongst the vials. Metal tables bolted to the floor were lined with files and procedural manuals as thick as tomes. On rolling trays were vials and hypodermic needles, and in the middle of the room was his Chair. It looked much like the one used on Bucky but without the mind wiping headgear. Instead this one had restraints and other clamps that would clamp down on his legs and arms and even his neck, effectively preventing movement while their scientists and technicians did their thing, manipulating the imbedded programming in his mind created by their Programmer. The only point of escape was right through the door directly in front of his chair. Behind the chair was another door, reinforced with heavy metal plating, and Vibranium. It looked like a vault door, and was built like one. Inside was a concrete room, with no other point of escape. It was dingy and dark with a small mattress thrown on the floor under the far wall. Imbedded in this wall were two shiny metal chains, attached to shackles, which were long enough for someone to lie down on the mattress, and move around the room to the mildewed sink and rusty toilet. They never came close enough to the door to even touch.
This was the Cage. This was where Steven was contained while not on missions. It was small and barely more than 10x10 feet square, and it was the core of Steven’s living hell for the last forty years. The concrete was reinforced by Vibranium rebar attached to the chains; effectively stopping him from blasting out by draining him of energy and strength. Steven glanced over his shoulder at the room once more, praying that it would be the last time he would ever set foot in it ever again.
Steven forced himself into absolute stillness as the doctors and technicians moved around him, and waited. Just as the doctor approached him with a syringe filled with drugs, Steven closed his eyes and waited for the pin prick that would send him into oblivion. Before it came, he heard it in the back of his mind; like a whisper but as clear as the ringing of a bell, silencing all voices in his head.
(‘NOW,’) the signal rang through his mind. Steven snapped his eyes open and as he did so the room went dark just for a brief flickering second. But it was enough for Steven to shut down the alarms in the back and use his power over technology to invade the system and turn it off at its core. In the moment Steven knew this was done. He grinned. It was a fell and ferial grin, which promised death and vengeance to all who saw it. The technicians and doctors that were in the room saw it and glanced at each other in mute terror, as he looked up at them and the smile twisted into a snarl. Between one heartbeat and the next Steven was out of his chair, restraints shattered like glass under the maelstrom of his unleashed fury and might, and his weapons were in his hands. The guards raised their weapons and shouted at him before he silenced them with a twitch of his hand, sending his bayonet knife flying into the throat of the first guard and firing a bullet into the head of the other, all before they could raise the alarm, by shouting or fire a single shot.
Steven turned his cold impassive face on the technicians and scientists, a cruel vengeful smile tugging at his lips. The scientists trembled in fear and the technicians dropped their equipment in shock. As far as they knew, all rebellious behavior was conditioned out of their Asset years ago. Steven casually reached out his right hand and his knife flew safely back into his grasp, before he sheathed it. The gun similarly became holstered as Steven took a menacing step toward his torturers.
“And the First angel blew his trumpet,” Steven said in a voice that bespoke of Doom, “and Fire rained down from the heavens, destroying all nature in its wake.” There was a moment of silence before one of the technicians attempted to speak Steven’s triggers. Steven’s face twisted with a snarl as his eyes filled with a hallowed light and his whole being glowed with righteous fury and holy wrath. He ceased in that moment to be their Winter Knight and became a vessel though which the Holy wrath of another existence poured itself into him and gave him its strength. Just as his whole being became suffused with light, it appeared for a moment that wings of white fire spread out from the light surrounding his form. So bright and hot was it that where they erupted was a brilliant white blue. And in this moment pure terror forced a scream from the technician, and Steven lunged with a battle cry, mingled with those of a thousand warriors; making it resonate as if he had screamed with a thousand voices.
The soldier lay passive in his Chair, restrained by his arms and legs. He is quiet, almost peaceful in his countenance; not the blank canvas that it normally is. Around him is a scene of controlled chaos. The doctors and technicians flutter about as they prepare him for is final mission. The room is not dissimilar to the one Steven was in, but instead of a cage was a room with a large tank in the shape of a tube. Most of the walls were a type of glass, with buttressing and reinforcing bars going up and down the sides. The bottom had a large metal seal that locked it into place, and along the sides were hydraulic arms that held the tank open and helped to close and open it. At the top was a series of circular heat lamps that were part of the reanimation process to his storage. More hydraulics were used to push him into an upright state after it was over, but inside was another chair that kept him strapped in while the cryogenic process began. Tubes and wires hung uselessly at the moment, but were normally used to maintain stasis while in the tube, as well as to watch his vitals and brain activity during the first stages of storage and reanimation.
The room it was held in was dark and cold, from the liquid nitrogen used in the process, as well as from the lack of paint on the concrete walls. It was dark because in the first moments of reanimation, bright light from anything other than the heating lamps would damage his eyes. Also because no one wanted to admit to their little dark secret hiding in that room; their little ghost assassin, so the room remained dark and devoid of life except for the occasional beep indicating his slow repressed heartbeat. The Soldier glanced at the tank with a slight tingle going up and down his spine. Echoes of past reanimation and storage tingling across his skin like creeping frost, made his hair stand on end on his arm and on the back of his neck and legs.
He didn’t like that room, it was scary and too cold; not like the room they kept him in for the past few months. The medical observation room he was held in was more akin to a cell but it was warm and had a soft bed to lie on and he was given regular meals while in there. He smiled softly as he felt the slight flutter behind his naval he had come to realize was the baby moving. He rather liked the idea of creating life rather than destroying it, but he didn’t want the comfort to stop so he waited with the chilly patience and passivity he had done with any other mission prep that they had come to expect of him. The doctor from his first ultrasound approached with the machine.
Over the past few weeks he had begun retaining the memories of his exams and daily life, and had even begun seeing snippets of a life before the cold and pain, but pushed them away because he knew that if they knew he was remembering things, pregnancy or not, they would strap him in the Chair and fry his brain until all he could remember was blankness and pain. So when the doctor came up with the machine for one last exam, he didn’t bat an eyelash and just laid back calmly as the doctor began is exam.
Fëanor gave the telepathic command to Steven before launching his assault on the base. He gave a ten count before he spoke.
“Let’s hope Steven has those alarms down, or this will all be for naught!” he shouted against the howling wind. Nelyo and Joshua nodded, and Arion’s lips thinned as his jaw ticked with worry. “Well it’s now or never! Huan,” he shouted and the massive hound woofed as he stood beside him, his eyes laser focused on the visible guards doing their rounds. “Take them down; quietly,” he added to the hound’s vicious growl.
The first assault team crouched in wait as the massive form of the golden white hound streaked silently across the open field and attacked. The only sound that was made was his vicious snarl and the guard’s broken cry as the pony sized hound lunged for his throat and ripped it to shreds. Huan’s appearance out of the white of snow was like that of a ghost. He was swift and deadly as he attacked the guards, grabbing them by the throat and ripping out their windpipes and arteries before moving on to the next victim. Soon enough the sound of the startled cries roused the attention of the other guards. They looked out into the whirling expanse of white snow and called out to their fellow guards. The silence that followed was like that of a horror movie, before a bone chilling howl broke the whirling moan of the wind.
‘Who is there,’ the guard called elbowing his companion to alertness. Silence answered and he relaxed for a moment before he heard the eerie howl of what he thought was a wolf.
‘What was that?’ he companion asked, looking at his partner in terror. He lifted his radio to his lips and spoke into the microphone, ‘check point D, this is checkpoint Alpha. Do you copy?’ His efforts were rewarded with static filled silence. ‘Checkpoint D, respond.’ More silence. He looked to his partner in fear, but his partner was watching the snow looking for movement. ‘Checkpoint Charley, come in.’ static, ‘Checkpoint Charley, respond.’ Silence bred panic and the guard tried hailing other sentries to no avail.
A flash of movement and the sound of feet on snow were the only warning they received before Huan was upon them; leaping out of the snow into their bunker with a snarl and growl, teeth bared and muzzle covered in blood. With a howl, Huan lunged at the closest ripping out his throat, as his partner screamed and scrambled for his gun. He was ended swiftly with a knife sailing into his chest. Huan looked up from his carnage to see Arion leap over the wall and pull out the knife sticking from the guard’s chest. Fëanor and Nelyo emerged from the snow like apparitions, Joshua not far behind. Fëanor raised his eyebrow at the blood covered hound.
“My, what a gruesome sight you make, Huan,” he said. Huan huffed and wagged his tail panting slightly as he sat down. Fëanor chuckled and rolled his eyes.
“Good job, Huan,” Maedhros said and ruffled the fur between his pointed ears. He grimaced at the blood that coated his lovely long fur with red and smiled wryly, knowing that the soldiers had probably mistaken the Hound for a large arctic wolf. Not surprising; Huan looked a bit like a wolf. But there was a refined quality to his wolfish looks and lankiness in his massive size that said dog not wolf. He was close enough in looks and size to fool someone at a quick glance and in the flash of battle; elsewhere, not so much.
“Let’s go,” Joshua said, looking at the now unguarded main door, “before they notice their guards are dead.” Fëanor grinned wolfishly and drew his sword from its sheath in a flash. Maedhros’ swords were out just as fast, both long silver blades flashing in the moonlight, giving them a faint glow.
“On my count of three,” Fëanor said as Arion took hold of the door, Joshua right in front of it with his assault rifle on automatic. “One… two…THREE,” and with that Arion yanked the door wide open and the team plunged into the breach. The sound of automatic rifle fire lit up the entryway soon followed by the screams of the guards as they were caught in the gun fire or on the blades of Fëanor and Maedhros’ swords. Arion’s blades soon became red with blood as he slashed his way through the guardroom, and the terrified screams of Huan’s victims echoed down the halls as he tore out their throats. All the while the alarms stayed silent.
The second entrance was more heavily guarded, and was a traditional base entrance. Dugan and the other Commandoes grinned at the familiarity of it. It was just like back in the War. Adrian took point as their sniper and waited for the signal before shooting as many of the guards closest to the doors in quick succession.
“NOW,” he ordered, and the commandoes stood up from their hidden position and started lobbing grenades at the guards. The gate was blasted off its hinges by Jacques’ explosives placed there earlier, and the Commandoes charged into the yard with a loud battle cry.
“WAH-HOOO!” Dugan bellowed to the HYDRA agents, as the charged into the breach; shot gun blasting as he moved.
“FOR SERGEANT BARNES,” Falsworth cried as he followed. Adrian grinned at their antics and whirled into battle. If Arion was likened to the angel of death, his son would be likened to the Grim Reaper. His long battle sword was traded in for an elvish battle lance, with a long spear pole. The staff with its extra-long reach made his skill even more lethal. Adrian inherited Fëanor’s talent with sword-play and elvish sword fighting, and made his way through the guards in a whirling dance of death.
Gabe’s large Browning machinegun cut swathes in the agents before they finally finished off the last one and made for the door. In true Howling Commando fashion, they kicked the door down and went in, gun’s blazing. Within minutes the guard station at the second entrance was littered with dead bodies, and the Commandoes looked to their young commander for orders.
“We have to meet up with Steven,” he said swiftly and deftly disassembling the elvish battle lance into a more practical sword, stowing the pieces of the staff in his bag. “If his drawings of the base’s schematics are accurate, then Sergeant Barnes’ being held not far from the weapon’s room. We have to get there before they begin the Mission prep sequence in his Programming when they give him his target, or he’ll see us as an obstacle in his path to mission completion.” Morita jogged back from the hallway and the others looked at him in anticipation.
“Hallway’s clear,” he said. “We should have a clears shot from here to the armory, and after that, Barnes.” Grins broke out all around the group before they checked their weapon’s on last time and made for the contact point, where they will meet up with Steven.
Steven’s wrath was unstoppable; his vision blanketed by a heavy mist of red rage. The moment he turned on his handlers there was no going back, as a result Steven held nothing back in his onslaught on the HYDRA agents in his path to getting to his Ada’s side. Steven saw nothing but obstacles and targets in his path to finding Bucky’s Prep room. Handlers that tried to scream out triggers against him were ruthlessly cut down before he turned on anyone and everyone that had followed them.
One could almost say it was like Steven had unleashed holy wrath and fury upon them, as an angel would against the denizens of Hell. The screams of his victims filled the hallways and was like an unholy cry of death to the HYDRA agents of what was to come. The guards had been told to station themselves between the Soldier’s Prep room and the path that the Knight would take to get there. They were loyalist and believed whole heartedly in the cause, but even they were filled with an overwhelming feeling of dread, when they started to hear the screams of terror and agony from the men further down the hall. The small contingent of ten guards gulped in fear, eyes darting to one another before setting up a defensive line, three in front kneeling on one knee to help with their aim and lower their target profile and the others standing or kneeling behind doorframes; letting the walls become their shields and barrier to what was to come.
Soon the screams stopped, and it became dead quiet, before the lights suddenly and unexpectedly went out with a droning hum lowering in pitch and volume, pitching them into darkness and dead silence. Seconds later the emergency backup lights kicked on, bathing the hall in an eerie red glow that flickered on and off every few moments. The men swallowed back their fear, and tried to will their shaking hands to stillness. It was of no use, and if anything, their fear seemed to grow. This was Steven unleashing every single tactic and power in his not unlimited arsenal to get to his Ada’s side. He was manipulating their fear and their minds by using his telepathy to stimulate what was already there: their fear of him, and their fear of him getting free.
Between on blink and the next, an ominous dark form appeared in the hallway, as if from nowhere. It was Steven, his form shrouded in shadow and a cloak of dread about him, red light bathing him with an aura of death. The guards started shaking in terror, as their worst nightmare became reality: the Knight had turned on them. Steven’s face was blank, devoid of emotion but his body told a different story. His hands were clenched around a gun and his bayonet knife, blood dripping from the blade’s tip, and were slightly shaking from his white knuckle grip. His breathing was forceful and deliberate, as if he was holding back the urge to sneer or growl. His stance was seemingly relaxed, but forcefully so and was in a state of battle readiness. His eyes were blazing bright, filled with hate and bloodlust. His dark clothes shown ominously in the light with splatters of blood and other fluids, and a smear of blood stood out starkly on his face running over his eye and down his cheek. This combined with his ominous presence and aura, drove fear into their hearts, and the guards all knew: this was the end!
Steven sneered, and his heavy breathing through his teeth made every breath sound like a deep ominous growl.
“Get out of my way,” he growled lowly and softly, his eyes flashing like blue flames. The guards swallowed back their increasing dread and checked their grip on their weapons. “If this is what you want,” Steven said softly, eyes flashing and the room beginning to rumble and shake slightly, “So be it!”
With a snarl and roar of wrath and rage, Steven lunged; knife flying from his fingertips as fast as a bullet from a gun and his pistol firing fast and deadly accurate at each of the ten guards. By the time he reached the group, three were already lying dead on the ground and one was clutching his throat with the knife protruding from it. Steven whirled and slashed with inhuman speed, his body twisting and contorting out of the way of bullets and knife blows. He moved with all the refined and deadly grace of his father and the rest of the elves, and weaved a deadly and graceful dance of destruction with every enhanced blow he struck. Bullets either deflected away from him or stopped dead before reversing to strike their shooter, and guns seemed to fly apart into their pieces before they turned into dust. Steven unleashed every bit of his power on them, and he wasn’t about to let these men get in his way to his Ada’s side to save him.
Within a matter of moments the screams and sounds of gunfire ceased altogether and the hallway once again fell into ominous silence, only broken by Steven’s harsh and forceful breathing. For a moment, he crouched there in the middle of the carnage, before he stood back up and continued on his way to the Mission room, where he would find his Ada and freedom. Steven stepped over the mutilated corpses of his former masters, displaying his complete disregard for them by casually knocking a hand or arm out of the way with his boot. With a calm and placid, almost absentminded gesture, he opened his hand and his bayonet flew softly back into it, before he sheathed it. He didn’t look back. He didn’t look down, even as he stepped into pools of growing blood; leaving a trail of bloody footprints in his wake. As far as he was concerned, they deserved their fate; asked for it the moment they decided to turn him into their coldblooded killer, and attack dog. They should have known that if you abuse an attack dog for long enough, it would eventually turn on its masters and kill them too.
‘It’s such a shame that this project won’t be lasting for much longer,’ Steven heard a voice say, breaking him out of his dazed and half-asleep state. Steven stood up from his pallet and looked through the crack in the door of his recovery cell. He wasn’t shackled to his bed for once, and for this Steven was grateful, because it meant he could see who was saying such things just outside his cell. Steven barely managed to stifle his gasp of shock when he saw it was none other than his and his Ada’s handler: Col Vasily Karpov.
‘True,’ his companion said. Steven couldn’t see his face but he would recognize that voice anywhere: Doctor Yaakov, one of the primary research doctors on discovering the secret of the Serum. ‘But look at it this way, Vaska, the Soldier will be giving us a valuable asset that we can mold from birth!’ the Handler looked disgruntled and put-out, but resigned to this.
‘I don’t like waste, Doctor,’ he said, ‘and this feels like a waste, but scrubbing the whole project could rejuvenate the cause again, even if it means starting over.’ Karpov sighed and clasped his arms behind his back. ‘I will miss the Soldier’s calm presence, and the Knight’s abilities, but I am out voted, so to speak. How goes the implantation process?’ there was a smile in the doctor’s voice when he spoke.
‘Remarkably,’ he said, ‘I only wish we hadn’t wasted those fertilized embryos on those women,’ he muttered, and Steven froze. ‘I said that his physiology was perfectly designed for facilitating childbirth, but no on listens to genius! The Soldier will carry to term and give birth just perfectly to our new Asset.’ The doctor chuckled happily and Steven barely breathed when he spoke again. ‘Ironic isn’t it? The Fist of HYDRA will carry the offspring of our greatest enemy, but then again, Captain Rogers was a superior specimen to begin with. I only regret that our Project Rebirth hadn’t been scrapped before this, or we would have had another Asset to work with.’ Steven felt his blood drain from his head as he turned and slid down the door in shock. His Ada was going to be pregnant with Steve’s child! His mind was still whirling when he heard the news that made his heart stop and his blood run cold.
‘It’s a shame that Lukin wants to decommission them,’ Karpov said, ‘the Knight and the Soldier have been so good to us all these years. It feels like a waste to terminate them now after all their work for us, when we are so close to achieving victory over SHIELD. When will they have us do it?’
‘After the birth,’ the doctor said, ‘and after we have confirmed that the baby has indeed inherited its parents enhancements from the Serum. The Knight will be kept from missions to keep him calm once we confirm the pregnancy.’ Steven heard their footsteps getting closer and scrambled back to his pallet and laid down, shutting his eyes to pretend he was still resting and recovering for his upcoming mission.
The door screeched open and Steven heard the two walk inside, the doctor to take his vitals and Karpov to keep him in check. Steven’s mind whirled behind his masquerade of calm sleep. He was running out of time, he needed to get help before it was too late. By the sounds of it, this may be his last mission.
‘Where is the Knight being sent to this time, Vasily,’ the Doctor asked while he took Steven’s pulse.
‘Berlin,’ his handler answered, ‘there is a piece of data from the Americans we need him to retrieve for us.’ Karpov chuckle in amusement, and continued, ‘I also heard that the British have put a price on his head, and have put together a taskforce to stop him.’
‘Is that so,’ the Doctor laughed, ‘who would they hire to do that?’
‘A British General, from what I heard,’ Karpov said, ‘and an MI6 agent codenamed, Mírë.’ Steven twitched as he recognized his father’s codename, but his eyes stayed shut. ‘It shouldn’t be too much of an issue for our Knight to elude them and get the data.’
Steven remained still and calm, never once giving any indication that he heard what they said, and soon enough the conversation floated away, as his mind went through this recent development at light speed. His Father was tasked to kill him, and the Soviets were getting ready to decommission himself and his Ada and replace them with his Ada and Steve’s baby, that his Ada was pregnant with. It was frightening, but for the first time in a long time he had hope. The Soviets and HYDRA had just given him the biggest opening he needed to finally escape, and it was all because they were going to kill them. Steven had no choice now, and little time. The doctor “woke” him and he was escorted to the Mission room, all the while plotting what he was going to do and say when he confronted his father. By the time he was on the transport, he had a solid plan and the will to escape and be free once more.
Nov 2nd, 1985
The pregnancy with the Asset has progressed promisingly. The Knight has become aware of the decommissioning and is more volatile than ever before. His calming presence to the Soldier is the only thing keeping him alive these days.
The Soldier is being prepped for his final mission before he gives birth. He will be too delicate after this, and it will be too risky. I am risking a lot just with this mission. The Knight is to accompany the Soldier to ensure the baby’s health. It is ironic that the last mission for the Winter Soldier is to kill Howard Stark. That man has been a thorn in our side from the very beginning, but he was too valuable to kill before now. But with him out of the way, and with our man on the inside, we can manipulate his son just the way we want.
The Doctors and scientists assure me that the baby’s viability is not in doubt and that the mission should not harm either of them. After the Soldier gives us his final Mission Report, he will be taken to his new cell for the remainder of the Pregnancy.
Mission prep has started and the Soldier is more than ready to kill his former friend,
Death to HYDRA!