The War: Virulent Pursuit

Summary:
June 01, 2014: The initial battle of the war takes place in Napata, Kush. The Mission: To take Ibrahim al-Tawhid, preferably alive.

Napata, Kush

<Location Description>


Characters

NPCs

  • Ibrahim al-Tawhid - a terrorist leader
  • the wives - his first and second wives, unnamed.
  • Perimeter Squad - Army Rangers, twenty-five total
  • First Lt. Bryant Lee - Army Rangers squad field commanding officer

Mood Music:
The Doors: 5 to 1


The War: Virulent Pursuit

"I was always embarrassed by the words sacred, glorious and sacrifice and the expression in vain. We had heard them, sometimes standing in the rain almost out of earshot, so that only the shouted words came through, and had read them, on proclamations that were slapped up by billposters over other proclamations, now for a long time, and I had seen nothing sacred, and the things that were glorious had no glory and the sacrifices were like the stockyards at Chicago if nothing was done with the meat except to bury it."

Ernest Hemingway

Outside Fort Benning, Georgia - 1990

"Come on, son," the elder Lee says to the younger. Both men begin to walk away from the white woman's yard on one of those hazy hot summer days in the South where your shirt sticks to your skin like a suction cup. Mrs. Harrison always gives them apple pie when they come to mow her yard, which they've done every Tuesday and Saturday since Mr. Harrison died of a heart attack three years ago. In actuality, Allen Lee does most of the mowing and his son Bryant Lee does most of the pie eating.

"So long, boys!" Mrs. Harrison gives them a smile and a wave from her porch, and the young African-American boy turns to wave, "Thank you, Mrs. Harrison!" Bryant probably didn't need to thank her, but he was always that sort of kid. He didn't need to do a lot of things, but never stopped to consider that.
_ _ _ _

Brooklyn, New York - 1941

The sending off party for James Buchanon Barnes is winding down. The counters of the family home are lined with bottles of Coca-Cola and Rheingold Beer. There are streamers all over the small home, colored in red white and blue, and a large sign that says "WE ARE PROUD OF OUR BOY."

Steve Rogers is looking absolutely desolate as he looks over at his friend, his best friend, on what will be the last night before Bucky ships off to war.

"Chin up, Steve-o," Bucky says as he looks down to his short pal.

"Not in the mood to party, Buck. Sorry," Steve says as he gets up to start to pile the dishes into the sink.

"You raw that I'm leaving or you raw that you aren't?" Bucky asks, looking back at him.

"Pick one."

"Look, Steve. I know how badly you want in. I'm sorry it hasn't worked out for you, but when you take a step back and really think about it, all of these folks are coming to cheer me on in getting the opportunity to die for my country. When you think about it that way," Bucky takes a swig of beer. "Well, you kind of wonder how much these cats really like me in the first place."

Steve can't help but laugh.
_ _ _ _

SHIELD HELICARRIER

OVER NAPATA, KUSH

"Plan is simple," Captain America says as he stands in front of a large electronic holograph display of the compound in question and the surrounding neighborhood. "Two teams. First, the Army Rangers group in the Alpha Quinjet, will parachute down and create a perimeter.

"The Command Team, flying in with May via Quinjet Beta, will parachute directly into the compound, get onto the roof and descend from the top. Intelligence has shown that al-Tawhid has spent every night on the third floor for the past 3 months. We're under orders to take al-Tawhid alive. If possible. Once the target is acquired, we call for pickup and get the heck out of here. Questions?"

"We aint gotta worry about shit," whispers one Ranger to the other. "Cap's here. He aint ever lost a man in battle."

"Shut up you two," First Lieutenant Bryant Lee says sternly at the whisperers. Whether he's more upset at the whispering or the inaccuracy of the comment doesn't seem to be clear.

*

Partisan lifts a gloved hand to the purge on her gasmask, exhaling audibly before sucking in as she peels the cover off those brand new filters.
"Who you want to breach the door? I've got a door boot and enough bang to pop it without bringing the building down."
Nobody's been wearing olive green tigerstripe BDUs since the SOG in Vietnam, but that's not stopped the Partisan(s). She's an odd collection of gear, from those broken in lightweight jungle boots to the very modern plate carrier and thermal goggles perched atop her equally modern helmet. A worked Saiga 12 in her gloved hands, and an SVDS strapped onto her backpack.
"If we aren't breaching explosively, what do you want to do if we can't make initial entry via the PEP1," she says, glancing aside to potentially help get the other Partisan's mask squared away exactly right.

*

The other Partisan twin lightly bats the hands away of her twin.
"I can do it," she mutters softly, sounding perturbed. It's the first thing the twin has said even remotely loud enough to be heard by anyone other then her counterpart. Usually, she just leans in to mutter quietly to the other woman in fatigues and a gasmask. She gets her mask sitting just right and looks over at Captain America, nodding once.

*

True to his word, Shift had been in DC by 5. He's been an obedient little contractor, going along with every request made of him. He's also worked very hard to avoid shooting any snarky responses to those who've given him looks ranging from odd to flat out suspicious.
Suppose that's what happens when you walk into SHIELD territory wearing a ruddy old biker jacket and jeans.
He's a mutant, one might guess. The unnaturally silver eyes give that one away. The African packs light, considering how his metagene tends to work, and by the time they have gathered for the briefing, he's changed his attire altogether. Now, the man is dressed in gunmetal gray, a matte material that looks more like a wetsuit or spandex than anything else. It covers every part of him save the head, but the seams and pattern of the fabric don't exactly scream 'superhero costume'. Rather, it's the kind of design that suggests mercenary, secret agent, or something along those lines.

He remains utterly quiet throughout the briefing, simply watching and listening. The only sign of movement seems to be coming from the constant turning of his jaw. Chewing gum, nicorette specifically. Damned government types and their smoking bans.

*

Sara Pezzini is a little bit out of her depth here. This is several steps above dealing even with a SWAT team. But she's willing to give it a try. Her plain kevlar looks a little lightweight for the task at hand, but once they're on the ground, the kevlar isn't really what she's going to be relying on. At the moment, she's focused on listening to the people around her, gauging just where she's going to fit into this process.

*

Jericho Trent stands toward the back of the group doing his very best to look unimportant. He's actually quite interested in the briefing but really, he shouldn't be here.

No. Really. He's wearing only his street clothes, a grey long sleeved shirt and jeans. He'd been releived of his jacket and weapons earlier. Glancing around he's kind of surprised at the number of people he recognizes. The Two Partisans thing is odd, and granted, a couple of them are SHIELD agents who don't like him. Which makes the fact that he's here at all that much more curious.

*

The plan is simple which means Paul has no questions. It's just like his time in the Corps; the brass decide what and how and he does it. He's still not quite sure why he's here. He wasn't special ops and he doesn't quite buy Cap's whole 'interrogator' explanation.

Whatever. Captain America asked, he said yes. As questions get asked, he studies the others in the room. Regular service types. He knows what to expect. Sara. Looking a bit overwhelmed but she'll steady with his help. Gasmask? Not building confidence. Gotta watch that one. The thug from the gym. Interesting that he should be here. Knew something was off. Shifting his weight, he automatically adjusts the fit of his body armor and fatigues.

He depended on the military to equip him years ago and today's no different. All he brought with him was a case of energy bars.

*

The Black Widow is in her full combat suit, including, this time, a small visor to go along with her other usual equipment — and a few extra pieces she picked up in the SHIELD armory.

The woman's been doing this long enough, that's she's fairly well prepared for what she's expected to do. And what she hasn't physically prepared for, she's more than capable of improvising around.

That being the case, she stands near Cap, looking at his display, waiting for the final deployment orders and last minute intel adjustments before the final assignments are made.

*

Melinda May isn't getting the pep talk everyone else is, though really she doesn't need it.
Aviator sunglasses and communication headset already firmly in place, she's prepping Quinjet Beta to take the Command team into position over their target drop point.
No, she doesn't trust anyone else to do this. Deal.

*

Command Team. Hawkeye is standing in the back of the room, arms crossed, and he looks at the display, memorizing every room, every turn, and listens to every bit of information, extrapolating by what is and isn't there. It's not an ideal mission for him, but somewhere in there, there has to be a spot for him to get a good vantage point. Whether or not 'Cap's here' and 'ain't ever lost a man' isn't really all that important.

*

As if to break up the tension built up around such a significant mission, Agent Harper of Checkmate lifts a hand up.
"So, where are the bathrooms? It'd be pretty embarassing to have to take a bathroom break in mid-mission."

Make no mistake, though, Roy Harper has been paying attention to the layout.

*

Lunair is a pretty good audience. She has her helmet in her lap as she listens. It's polite, even if the helmet has a metal gear-style visor that comes down and seals over her face.

She does not wear sexy armor. For one, she argues that her chest is not nearly big enough to provide the required gravity warping. And two, that noise is just awkward. She likes her kidneys. They've been good to her over the years. So sleek battle armor it is! It seems far more modern than most, as if someone took it from a fictional game.

Either way, she listens.
And she could always portal gun Hawkeye up somewhere! Hawkeyes love portals, yes?
… she's not so great at this sometimes. But she listens.

She tilts her head. And she seems curious. A wry smile at Roy. Still, her gaze is intent on the layout. And the whole 'try to take them ALIVE' bit. Siiiiiight.

*

Sitting at another seat, Evelyn is here on the command team. It's a good time to be had for sure. The only time the android has ever met Lunair was during that time that a huge dude was rampaging all around New York. That was a pretty crazy time, it was particularly so when John died. Ev's wearing the usual SHIELD jumpsuit, this time coupled with a vest of bulletproof armor (which is now sitting on her laptop) with some arm guards and leg guards.
Let's face it, the SHIELD jumpsuit doesn't really protect you from bullets. It does look damn good, though. At the moment, she just seems to be focusing on the map and listening.

- - - -

OVER NAPATA

KUSH

"If you can't make initial entry at the PEP, I suggest you — as they say in the sports world," Cap says to the first Partisan, "Make a play."
Captain America looks to Roy with raised eyebrows and points towards the hallway for where the bathrooms are.

— After Deployment—

One Quinjet flanks the other as they descend through the clouds and out over the city. They move quietly and nearly invisible over the shacks and makeshift buildings that make up the capital city of the African nation, moving in on their target with high speed.

"All teams on my mark," Captain America says into the control panel of Quinjet Beta; his voice linked to the other plane's communication devices. He takes a few steps down the fuselage and pulls his shield from its moorings. He never sees the trail of light off the surface to air missile that, by all accounts, should not have been able to intercept one of the quinjets.

The left side of the Alpha Quinjet, the one carrying the Army Rangers, explodes and sends the plane into a tail spin. Soon after, Rangers begin leaping for their lives, parachuting into the city while the Beta jet continues on towards its target.

Pushing shock to the side, Captain America tries to act quickly and decisively, simultaneously worried about losing the men in the other jet and the overall mission.
"Keep the jet on target, May."

A large explosion, certainly the other quinjet, lights up the western end of the city and fills Captain America with a deep sense of dread.

_ _ _

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - 1996

"Bryant?" The cracked door to the dilapidated room creaks open and behind it is Bryant's mother with a plate full of pasta. "You hungry, baby?"

Bryant is at his desk studying away. From his window we can see the neighborhood he's living in is awful by the state of disrepair of the buildings.

"I'm fine mama."

"You remind me of him," she says as she smiles at him. "So determined. And someday baby, you will be an Army Ranger just like he was. I know you will."

_ _ _ _

NAPATA - NOW

"Change of plans. Give me Hawkeye, Arsenal, and Lunair working as the perimeter. 'Blade, Manning, Partisan, O'Neal, Aspect, Evelyn, and Shift, I need you to lead the rest of the team into the compound; Widow has lead. May in the sky, suppressing if we catch any danger.

"I'm going after the Rangers."

One by one, members of the command team begin to filter down by parachute down to the compound in question. It's pretty easy to pick out, even in the dark. It's large, white, and four stories tall when every other shack stands just over head height. There's a large white fence encircling the 'mansion' and the entire property is about 10 acres. On the way down, both those who are going to the perimeter and those who are going to the building will notice that it's got about a dozen guards inside and outside.

Cap lands just outside the compound in a controlled roll. In one movement he cuts loose the parachute from his back by pulling on a trio of clips. He doesn't bother to pick up the black fabric. Instead, he takes the shield from his back. Rather than head into the compound, he heads straight to the crash site of the other quinjet.

*

Partisan turns back to the other Part for a moment, before simply shaking her head.

"Understood, Captain." She spends a moment with her head bowed in apparent thought, before jacking a magazine into her Saiga and letting the bolt fly home.
"Lets go hurt some feelings. RPGs are so 1994." Chuckling entirely inappropriately before she takes her leave. Taking her time to pull her goggles down, and adjust the focus ever so slightly.

Then it's parachute out, if only for a moment to brake her fall. She pulls crazy late, way later than you're supposed to but lands softly enough. Cutting free with practiced ease, and moving to take security as the rest of the team joins her.

*

The second Partisan follows the first, staying as silent as always. She echos the actions of the first, taking a moment to look in the direction of Jericho before she jumps. Unlike her twin, this Partisan pulls her chute at a much less suicidal height, doing it exactly by the book as if she is still doing it like she was taught just yesterday. Inside her mask, Nancy mutters
softly to herself as she's in the air.

"Please don't let me die. Please don't let me die. Not as a smear on the pavement."

*

O'Neal? Sara knows that name. Who's…Oh, Partisan is going to get (another) earful when this is all over. Now, however, is not the time. As the NYPD doesn't sign a lot of detectives off on jumping out of planes, she goes tandem with Paul, giving her partner a look as they get started.
"Found out yesterday I've got a wings option," she notes clinically. "Not that I've got a clue how to use it." She eyes the exit, then laughs. "And the department thinks trust exercises are falling off a table."

*

Jericho turns and hits the catch on the weapons stowage in the back of the Quinjet. Gun. Gun would be nice, if he's going to be down there. He pulls out the first thing he sees, an M4 with a rail mounted night vision scope. Perfect. He grabs a six mag bandolier from the same case and shrugs into it as he approaches the jet's ramp. Parachute? What's that?

Moments later he's in the air, falling as though he's done it hundreds of times. At the last minute bright amber wings flare out in the night to slow his descent before fading away again. He crouches near the others, pulling security in the manner of a professional infantry man. One might almost think he'd done stuff like this before.

*

"I can make a swift advance into de compound, because I don't requiah a parachute." Shift is speaking directly to Black Widow, his voice revealed to carry a heavy Ghanaian accent. He reaches behind to pull a hood over his face. Thank goodness for SHIELD technology, for his hood now contains a very small earcomm that will, supposedly, remain in place when his body transforms.

Shift goes out of the plane without a parachute. Into the sky, he straightens his body to make his descent faster. Down he goes, far ahead of the others, the wind beating at his face.

He's still chewing that damn nicorette gum.

Moments before impact, he spits the gum into the wind. There's no sound as Shift hits the roof, for his body transforms into a cloud of black smoke upon impact. The smoke fans out rapidly before it pulls back in on itself, collecting into the shape of a man.

The guard gasps, which gives Kwabena his in. His hand and arm, still smoke, gets forced into the guard's mouth, choking him. Shift then pulls the guard into a lock, finding a pressure point upon his rifle-wielding arm, which he aims at one of the other guards.
When the guard passes out, his finger pulls the trigger, sending a few dozen semiautomatic rounds toward the other guard's chest.

Moments later, Shift goes running toward one of the other guards bearing his stolen semiautomatic. However, he didn't come here to kill needlessly. He ignores the rounds that pass through him, harmlessly, while raging across the roof toward his next target.

Even as the others fall in around him, Shift is going hard, busting heads with the butt of his stolen weapon.

*

Skydiving is not one of Paul's hobbies but it was part of his training and he only needs to do it once. Never used a double harness though.
"Keep your feet up when we touch down, I'll do the landing. You unclip the chute." And then he jumps. They're in freefall probably longer than Sara likes but being an easy target floating in the air is not a good idea. And then they're down and, true to his word, he takes care of the landing, running to absorb the momentum since he can't roll with Sara attached.

*

"Go." Widow says to Shift. She is then among the first to make the jump, narrowing her focus to the role her team must play, rather than spending cycles she can't afford on the distant Rangers. It sucks, yes, but there's nothing she can do about it. Cap will have to deal with them.

Through the com to the team, however, she says, "Without the Rangers, we've lost a major part of the perimeter guard," she tells them. "So, watch your six and expect surprises." Like the explosion on the other Quinjet hasn't already told everyone that? Eh. That's the joy of command. Re-stating the obvious.
"A pair of snipers on the roof to guard the approach will help — volunteers?" If not, she may have to do it herself, instead of taking point into the building itself, as is her usual habit.

She cuts her parachute away when she's still several feet up in the air, landing on the roof and rolling in a manner not at all dissimilar to Cap and coming up with a rifle in her hands to do a sweep of the rooftop perimeter just to be sure.

*

Melinda May keeps herself from flinching as Quinjet Alpha is shot down by ground to air fire that should NOT have happened. She's clearly not pleased with Cap's decision but she doesn't argue. She knows better. His quick re-dividing of their forces is good enough for now, and she reaches to toggle a number of switches as the sole remaining Quinjet reaches the drop zone and everyone bails out.

You people had BETTER not give her any reason to do anything other than fly this bird.

Or she'll have words for each and every one of you. After saving your sorry asses.

*

"Piss in the corner of a building. Pretend you're on a camping trip," Hawkeye mutters at the Checkmate guy.

Once on-board the jet, Hawkeye began checking and rechecking his piles, playing a game of balance on his finger with one of his arrows. Bored archer.. and sighting down the shaft, he made a face.
"Damn. Need a new carbon supplier." Still, the arrow will be deadly enough.

He appears bored, though when the other quinjet goes up in a ball of flame, he's on his feet, out of the harness.
"What the hell-?!" He's about ready to assault the cockpit before he catches the change of mission and he chuffs a breath as he nods, "Yeah.. yeah. Perimeter."

It's not the first time Barton's had to jump out of a perfectly good aircraft, and probably won't be the last. He lands very much like Rogers does- knees bent and he shoulder-rolls to keep the arrows safe. He's got a mission — Perimeter bound. Time to find a good nest.

*

"No sense of humor," Roy muttered, as he headed off for all the usual checks before the mission starts. Once on the quintjet, there was time enough to strike up some conversation with the unfamiliar faces, and a "Hey, we've met before, haven't we?" to Lunair.

And yet, Arsenal is quiet when the other quintjet explodes into a fireball. Following Hawkeye out the quintjet shortly after, Roy's parachute landing is much like Clint's, and towards a different locale, the better to provide some sort of wide-range protective coverage on the perimeter between the archers.

*

Lunair looks to Hawkeye and tilts her head.
"Are we supposed to take them alive? Or- I mean, that's probably gonna skewer a dude. Hey, I guess you could shoot them in the knees," She contemplates this. Because shooting a dude in the groin is just messed up. Although, Captain Railgun has no room to talk over here.

"I think so," Lunair offers quietly to Roy. Then life takes a serious turn.

Oh no. Poor guys. Lunair looks worried. She only hides it by virtue of having problems emoting properly, but it does show a bit in her eyes. Hopefully those guys made it. Lunair generally has no problems with killing, but seeing someone go like that? Still not easy.
There's some hope for her, maybe. She nods. Perimeter. Okay. Fair enough. She sort of isn't sure if she's happy or sad about it. Compounding seems pretty interesting.

But then, a part of her is concerned about that. Is that normal? Still, she manages to don her helmet and hop out without incident. Though, she lands much like a seal on a trampoline. FWAMP. At least she doesn't have time to marvel and be amused by the idea of a Hawkeye after a nest. And she too, will move to a spot to benefit the perimeter.

And yes, she remembers Miss Evelyn, too. The android gets a polite smile. Before Lunair gracefully(?) exits.

*

Evelyn looks at Roy, she's sullen as ever. Actually that's not entirely true, usually she just has this awkward disposition. Right now, though, she's just all serious and business. Going out to kill people is never fun. It's just part of being an agent, though. Once the quinjet explodes, she stares at it with wide eyes through the port window. She gasps a little, "Oh my god.." Then it's quick to exit time. Grabbing a parachute pack, she slips it on and exits after Hawkeye. She lands soon after, knees bent. Following her landing, she ditches the pack and moves on. The armor is heavier, so she moves a bit slower and closer to the ground.

_ _ _ _

AFGHANISTAN - 2002

"We need to go out," says the Sergeant says to his Commander but the older gentleman with the graying temples shakes his head.
"I'm sorry Sergeant, we can't go after them. The snow is too bad out there and with the amount of fire they received…" His voice trails as a warning klaxon goes off in the small hut that's been transformed into a mini-base.

"Private, what is it?"

"One of our remote cameras just picked something up." The private flips his laptop to the proper feed.

"Holy shit is that Lee?"

Bryant Lee, decked out in his army fatigues with the Ranger patch on his shoulder is carrying a fallen soldier on each shoulder an dragging one behind him as he trudges his way through the snow path back towards the base.

"That kid is something else. Medic!"

_ _ _ _

WASHINGTON DC - 2003

The President stutters along in his speech as he is wont to do, and behind him stands a young black man dressed in formal US army wear, complete with a beret.

"And so I bestow this Medal of Honor to Corporal Bryant Lee for heroism and putting his life in danger for the lives of his brothers. Corporal Lee, though I never met your father in my military service, I know he would be just as proud of you as your fellow Americans are.

"Thank you for your continued service in the Army and in the Ranger corps."

_ _ _ _

NAPATA - NOW

*Crashsite*

Cap almost doesn't notice as bullets glance off his shield. He brings it up reflexively every so often as he's picking up speed, moving much faster than an average man could. When one enemy gunman steps out into the street, he gets a shield right to the face. Cap reaches out to grab the shield, but continues on anyways without bothering to slow down.

*Perimeter*

Hawkeye makes it to the perimeter of the fence without being detected, but from all directions he can hear the popping of machine gun fire. For his purposes there are several points from which he can set up shop. The fence of the compound is shrouded in large 'weeping willow' style trees, and there are several small buildings with which he could gain a perch.

Roy's landing provides each of the archers with a wide spray radius for each of them. From where the second archer hits, it is conceivable that they will be able to cover almost every target to their left and right with the compound in between them.

At the other corner is Lunair, making the jump safely she's able to stay covered for a few moments as she catches her bearings. It's the shot that nearly hits her in the arm that wakes up all of the perimeter warriors.

Sniper.

A couple of shots are taken at all of the three early entries positions. How in the hell do they have snipers ready at a night time raid? No matter what, each of them had better get some cover and start picking off some snipers, or this perimeter idea is not going to be much of a plan for very long.

As Evelyn moves along, it will take her a bit longer to get into a position, making her the prime target for the sniper shots. The bad news is they're getting rather close as dirt flies up around her feet. The good news is their shots reveal their position.

*Compound*

Partisan1 lands and has a few moments before the assault rifles start firing out. Almost too quickly. It almost seems as though their presence was expected. Surely, it couldn't be — quinjets stealth technology is years ahead of the Kushites. Whatever the reason, Partisan1 begins taking heavy fire from the compound grounds and from the top of the compound itself.

The second Partisan suffers a similar fate to the first. She's able to make it to ground level just fine, but once there she begins taking fire from machine guns inside the compound and on the grounds.

Sara and Paul land somewhat closer to the compound and are thus shielded from much of the fire that the Partisans are experiencing. Inside the compound they can hear shouting as if someone is directing orders from in the building. Whatever hope there was for a surprise attack is now gone.

Jericho lands soon after the Partisans who seem to be taking most of the gunfire. From his vantage point he can see where several of the shooters are as their focus is trained on the others. You've got a handful on the roof and eight at assorted points on the grounds.

Check that, Shift clears the top of the building and the others will notice less of a barrage of bullets now. They still need to take cover, but at least they're only being shot at from ground level now. When he finally gets through the entirety of the roof, he'll notice that he's the first one at the door to the floor where al-Tawhid has been staying.

By the time Nat sweeps the rooftop Shift has already cleared it, which allows her to make up the distance quickly and come up behind him to the door.

*In the sky*

Just after Melinda's drop off, small lights begin to trail up towards her quinjet. She begins taking surface to air fire from several points within the city. If it wasn't obvious already, they knew. The enemy knew they were coming.

*

"Fuck we're blown! Up the tempo, we're losing control here!" Shouting more to be heard than anything, because well the Partisan doesn't really do the screaming in terror thing.
She dumps eight rounds of 12g flechettes at her attackers, before letting the shotgun clatter away on it's sling. She brings the SVDS over her shoulder, and immediately gets to work. Pumping rounds downrange with the utmost precision, letting the big rifle work it's way through light cover when necessary. The moment Widow calls out snipers though, she finally takes a knee.
"Snipers, doubles, enguaging!" Sending two rounds towards her opposite numbers with narry a second between the two. "Partisan, pour on the fire. Keep their heads down!"

*

The second Partisan normally does do the screaming in terror thing, but doesn't want to embarrass her mentor by making the original Partisan look like a frightened teenager. She presses herself to the closes wall and composes herself. It's just like the mall. Just stay calm and everything will turn out fine. The gunfire is making her heart beat faster, her emotions surging. She hopes that any supers are nowhere close enough to her as her sphere of influence starts to grow with her heightened feelings. Hearing Partisan's yell, she pulls the pin off of a grenade and throws it over to the enemies side.

*

Shift is breathing heavily when he finishes the job, but the guards are down and only one of them suffered a fatal wound. May not exactly be his usual style, but he wasn't calling the shots on this one. He first takes a moment to look down from the roof, shrouded against the night sky by his dark skin and gunmetal gray uniform. He then looks upward to see Widow making her approach, and readies the rifle in case of any surprises, covering her approach. He's at the door, but he's not about to go solo on this one. In the brief period of time given to him, his eyes focus upon the lights streaming up into the sky. Up goes a hand to his earcomm.

"Quinjet Beta, you have incoming missiles. Multipah tahgets." Well, that's great. No way to direct her to return fire, there's simply too many launch points.
Shift turns back to the door as Widow makes her approach. He's staring at it, and beneath the uniform, the flesh of his arms is beginning to harden. An expression of deeply rooted anger forms on his face, the only method he knows to force his body to undergo this very different transformation.
Through grinding teeth he informs her, "I can bust through. Give de word."

A crackling and popping sound is coming from his arms and hands, which are forming into fists.

*

"Going to work on that wings thing," Sara murmurs once she and Paul are on the ground, freeing them from the chute and stepping aside to armor up. The Witchblade is darker than usual, a deep gray and black that doesn't stand out quite as much as the usual silver and gold. As the Partisans take over the cover fire, Sara takes a deep breath, bracing herself as the Witchblade sprouts a few more unpleasant-looking blades and spars.
"Widow, this is Witchblade," she says, tracking the fire. "I can take the door down here on your word."

*

Jericho scans the targets quickly through the night scope on the M4. He's already scanning for online or broadcasting machinery of any kind. Anything he can tamper with to give them an edge would be good right now because this OP is completely out the window now. He breaks in on the SHIELD com system so he can talk and listen in.
"Hostiles on roof and ground level. AK 47's, G36's and one RPK. Probably have grenades and RPGs in there somewhere, but I don't see them yet. Partisan, Nancy, I've got overwatch. Engaging high."

Jericho starts to put lead downrange, snapping fire off in precise two shot bursts. 'Controlled Pairs' the military likes to call them. Such a more professional term than 'double tap.' The polymorpher stays off for now. He's sure he'll need it soon, but right now all it'll do is give him away and he can be more help right now if he's less obvious. As the targets on the roof go down he switches to those who are or could soon be flanking the gas-masked women. The contrails of surface to air missiles suddenly alert him that things are much worse than he thought.

"Got it sorted up there, Agent?"

*

As they come to a halt, Paul's quick to free their harnesses and pulls Sara into the closest cover available. He unslings his rifle and flips the safety off.
"Hear the guy shouting orders? Cut the head off, the body dies. Or runs around confused." As he spots some muzzle flashes, he returns fire in short, controlled bursts.

"Go," Widow tells Shift. She switches her rifle to a single hand, reaching for one of the disks on her belt with the other. When he uses those hardened fists to break down the door, she steps into the dim passage way and sends the disk wing down the stairs with a flick of her wrist.

"Fire in the hole."

And, in moments, a flashbang with an electrical discharge chaser has exploded at the bottom — hopefully in the midst of whatever ambush was waiting.
Then, staying low, she brings her rifle up into position and takes point, keeping down so others can aim around and over her, as she moves swiftly down into the thick of… well, what's inevitably waiting.

"Two by two," she says as she does. "Partisans, watch each other's backs. Standard room sweep. Call out clear. Double taps. Odame, with me." Also standard orders. And remorselessly lethal. She's not called the Black Widow because she's warm and fuzzy.

*

Quinjet Beta peels away the moment the last person is clear, the already prepped weapons spinning up to start firing back at the ground to air positions. She's making note of where they are and making damned sure that none of her return fire hits any kind of civilian structures. But the people daring to put holes in her bird? No mercy.

There's no way to get pinpoint accuracy with the 50-cal miniguns unless you're some kind of weirdo like Hawkeye, but what she lacks in one-hit-one-kill accuracy she makes up for by making sure there's no way anything is still alive at the first and second emplacements, cursing at the fact that she has to keep the Quinjet moving like a mosquito crossing the street in a rainstorm.

"Almost," May replies to Jericho's call up. "East, quarter click, if you can."

*

Tree.. looks like the—

Immediately, Barton catches the *whiiiir* sound of bullets flying, and he becomes one with the small-trunked tree. Pulling himself up and into the branches, he's got something of a vantage. Not much of one, but the branches are enough to give him a little leverage to stay put. The bow is drawn and formed, and a heartbeat later, an arrow is nocked— and loosed.

There is a small, deadly carbon-fibred arrow flying towards a sniper that is targeting Evelyn. Muzzle-flash is always a tell.

*

Like Hawkeye, Arsenal's response to bullets flying is to immediately seek the flash where the snipers are coming from. With Hawkeye covering the ones in his range, Arsenal aims for the other snipers, using regular arrows, more to injure and take out of action.
Radioing in quietly, Arsenal comments, "They've been expecting us, situation fubar'ed. May be losing containment in a bit. Distraction needed… should I provide one?"

*

Lunair isn't sure if she should be happy or sad that she's an expert sniper finder! It's like being the fastest to find a mine. On one hand, it spares others - and she does have some lovely, articulated, handy armor. Although, they MISSED. Yay! She's going to do her best to stay in cover.
On one hand, they DO wanna take people alive. On the other, snipers don't tend to be the sort who come along with gentle nudgings. That, and she's pretty sure they're not shooting gentle, kind arrows at the guys.

But she'll do her best, anyway. Lunair stays in her cover. She'll pull up an alarmingly large sniper rifle of her own (is she hunting moose from a mile off!? Overcompensating!) out of NOWHERE and set a bit of ammo beside her. The gun's tripod rests at the top of the cover and some poor sap is probably going to get nailed in the shoulder or arm if she can help it.

Time to go on a snipe(r) hunt!

*

Evelyn doesn't make a sound other than a small gasp of surprise. *Thhhwpt!* A bullet lands aside of her, sending a small splash of dirt up. Fuck, sniper. She looks over at the approximate velocity. By the time there's a second muzzle flash, she's radioed, "Hawkeye, sniper at 35 North." But of course, the archer's already sent a small arrow his way by that time. All the while, Evelyn's taken to trying to find cover. A standard foldable rifle is strapped to her side, and she has yet to draw it. Accompanying it is a couple combat knives and a medikit. She's support.

Moving from cover to cover, she finally moves to a good spot. "I'm in position."

*

*Crashsite*

"Fuck-Fuck-Fuck" One of the Army Rangers is starting to lose it as he holds his hands up at his helmet and begins to panic.
"Settle the fuck down," responds Lieutenant Lee as he grabs the soldier right around the middle and yanks him behind cover.
Lee looks around at the carnage. "Dammit," he curses. Or what passes for cursing out of his mouth. He'd known some of these rangers, even though they were rangers, were green. Out of his 25 troops he can only count 14. 4 more are confirmed dead and seven are unaccounted for. He's taken refuge behind an alleyway and desperately attempts to radio in.

"May, this is Lee. Any chance you can do a pick up? I've got 14 down here counting myself. I'm going after the others." Beside him are a pile of wounded soldiers that he's already pulled behind cover. "Johnson, get over here," he mutters to one of his men. "I've radioed in to Beta. Get into contact with her and see if you can get her down and get these men out of here.

"Out of here?" Johnson asks. "What about you?"

"We got seven more out there, son."

_ _ _ _

Captain America, for lack of a better word, is hauling ass. He's getting attacked from every angle, but with as fast as he's running and with his shield bouncing off of heads and flat surfaces, he cuts a pathway for himself. Several bullets burrow themselves into his protective armor, but he gives it no heed.

By the time he gets a fix on the soldier's location, Lee is long gone in search of the remaining seven.

"You. Soldier. What's your name?"

"Johnson."

"Johnson, what's the status?"

"Contact to Quinjet Beta made, sir. 13 here, four dead, and 8 unaccounted for."

"13? Last radio transmission said 14."

"That was Lee, sir. He went after the missing."

"Alright, get yourself some cover. I'm going to create a diversion for May to get down here and pick up. When you see her tail lights, son, you get these boys and you run like hell. You hear me?"

Cap turns to go after Lee, or at least where the GPS says Lee is. "May, get these men dropped off on the Hellicarrier and get back down here right away. If you hurry, you'll be back in time to pick up al-Tawhid. Widow, how are we doing?"

*Perimeter*

Hawkeye's target gets an arrow right through the neck and the shooting stops abruptly. Those with good ears can hear a gurgle and then a few seconds later a crash of a body falling out of a window and onto the ground.

Roy's target gets an arrow in the shoulder. It's not fatal, but it hurts like a bitch on account of the man's screaming. Pretty good bet. When Roy gets the go ahead to create a diversion an arrow is shot out across the street into a dilapidated, abandoned shack which promptly blows up. Though there was no fire coming from that building, the fire coming from that area stops and Evelyn is safe to get through.

Lunair begins to spray the grounds with sniper shots, taking out far less prepared men with shots to assorted body parts.

Evelyn, meanwhile, is the first to notice it. A pair of white vans driving straight towards the compound and driving right towards the spots where the agents have set up shop.

Windowless vans are never a good thing.

*Compound*

-KABOOOOSH-

A large explosion just off the compound sends a fireball into the sky as the second Partisan throws her grenade. Between the second and the first, and Jericho's widespread assault, much of the fire from down on the ground level of the compound grounds has come to a stop.

Shift and Widow clear the room with the flashbang, but as they enter they'll find it mysteriously empty. This is clearly where al-Tawhid stays, but he's nowhere to be found…

And the reason why is quickly found as Sara and Paul burst through the doorway. A group of men seem to be shuffling downwards through a staircase in the floorboards. The last one stops as he sees Witchblade and begins to fire, but he's shot through the chest by one of Paul's shots. The trap door below that lead down to the catacombs slams shut.

*In the Air*

The tough part for Quinjet Beta is that the civilian structures and the enemy combatants come from pretty much the same spot. Welcome to modern warfare. The 50 caliber guns light up enemy strike points with ease. If not for their dangerous weaponry and the need to silence them, it would almost seem unfair.

*

"MOVING!" calls Partisan, before she makes a mad dash for the doorway. Ending in a baseball slide, glancing back to her partner for a moment before glancing back through the doorway and flipping her goggles down over her eyes. SVDS swapped back for that familar Saiga as she exchanges magazines. She rolls her shoulders casually, before swinging her shotgun around the side of the doorway. Watching the NYPD's finest to ensure nobody rushes them whilst waiting for entry.

"Yo, Cops! Peel left we'll push right!"

*

With the amount of gunfire now lessened, the second Partisan has a chance to look for her twin. She nods to her briefly and gets her own gun unslung and ready.

"MOVE!" she says in response to the first. She watches her doppleganger and waits till she stops before following once she knows she is covered by her twin. She pulls in behind the other, ducking behind the cover at tapping her on the shoulder. "Ready."

*

With the stolen rifle slung over his shoulder, Shift looks sideways toward Widow and nods his head, draws in a deep breath, and then swings with both hands, Captain Kirk style. The door now busted in, Shift lets Widow take point, readying his rifle. He turns his head away at her warning, then peers back toward the hallway and moves along at her side.

His hands and arms are steadily 'decompressing', the quiet pops and hisses mostly contained by the uniform. Of course, they gave up any idea of a stealthy approach long ago.

"Dese ops always go to shit?" he drily asks Widow under his breath as they move along. Mostly in response to her calling him as her backup. Once they're down in the room, however, he pans to the side and looks around. The lack of bodies is no good.

"Hawu baga," he curses in his native language. Trusting that Widow will have a call to make (she seems the type comfortable with command, after all), he begins making his way throughout the room, looking for anything that might serve as evidence, or clues. Thumb drives, file folders, anything his eyes might spot. You see, if al-Tawhid gets out of this alive, prudence dictates that SHIELD may need something to go on in an effort to hunt him down.

Which would also mean Shift could ask for a pay raise.

*

"We've got men running down some catacombs near the ground floor entry," Sara reports as she and Paul catch sight of the group heading downwards. "Moving after them."
She takes a few seconds to clear the area as she moves forward, though she trusts Paul to verify each check, before she crouches in front of the trap door and takes a grip.

"Knock, knock," she murmurs under her breath, then yanks on the door, ripping it back open.

*

"On it." Jericho calls up to May. He rises from a crough into a jump, activating his flight preset at the same time. As before: Digital Wings and glowing eyes. Already rising he empties the last of his magazine into the second story of the building, to keep the few holdout's heads down.

"Ground teams, moving to engage SAM site east. Good luck, don't get shot." Reloading, he offers a quick slaute before he turns and speeds off.

A quarter kilometer isn't far. It's only just a bit more than half a lap around a quarter mile track. He could run it in under a minute, in a straight line. He can *fly* it much, much faster. Skimming the rooftops he pulls up just above the site and douses it in .223, getting four men out of five. The fifth shoulders a rifle at him only to get wing-slapped into the missle launcher itself as Jericho lands. *Crunch*

"Site neutralized. How are you looking up there?" he asks, as he fries the guidance system and takes off again.

*

A single bullet through the head verifies anyone Paul's not absolutely certain of. As soon as Sara opens the trapdoor, he tosses a flashbang down the stairs and once it goes off, fires into the hole, assuming whoemever was left to play rear guard is not the target they want alive.

"They went to ground," he informs Partisan and fires another burst then follows it with a grenade. Hopefully the target ran but he's not going down there without clearing the stairs.

*

"What?" Widow replies softly, her enhanced hearing picking up Odame's mutter. "You never seen an op go sideways before?"
Of course, they don't always go to shit. But, few plans ever survive the first encounter with the enemy. Every soldier — and superspy — knows that.

As Shift starts scanning the room, she's doing the same. And if thinks for a moment that 'selling' the secrets back to SHIELD is going to happen, he's got another 'think' coming. But, the reality is, the room looks pretty empty. "Top floor clear," she barks into her com.

"Tango's on the move. Teams, report!" Because she needs to know what's going on.

Then, of course, the sound of the gunfire below becomes particularly clear inside the house, accompanied by Sara's report. "Copy," she says to the detective. "We're on our way. Got your six." She glances at Odame.

"C'mon," she tells him. "We gotta move." And, she's on the move to do just that.

*

Okay, May had known only too well that Jericho was a snarky little punk. She had NOT expected him to understand military-esque protocol so quickly. But damn, she's glad he does. Quinjet Beta turns the remaining SAM location into a crater, then wheels around to head back toward the target building while gaining altitude.

"Better. Get back to the primary target. Cap, status on the perimeter." Depending on what the Captain says (or if he fails to answer), the Quinjet will head out that way post haste.

*

It's the silence that is the tell for Hawkeye. Keen eyes of blue search out the area, looking for other muzzleflashes, looking for those tell-tale red laser sights, and sees nothing.

Nothing means he can move.

An arrow flies that has a line attached, and Hawk moves ever forward, looking for a spot on a building inside the compound so he can run support for those doing the building to building searches. As long as they've got 'air superiority', they can do anything.

*

"Someone shut that guy up," is radioed.. "He'll give our location."

A smile crosses Roy's face as the shed goes up. Right, distraction. Of course, they were going in.

"You guys go ahead, I'll follow in a bit," he radios back as he prepares more explosive arrows. Given that the civilian structures -and- enemy combatants were coming from the same spots, the answer seemed pretty simple- bring down the roof on them.

And so selectively firing on those buildings that -definitely- didn't have friendlies in them, Roy does. And in the process, oh well, he can shut up the one who was screaming at the same time, just let the bodies hit the floor…

*

Lunair should panic. Human instinct can be very sensible some days and war zones are often not sensible places to be. There should be unease at what's going on. But she can't seem to find much of it. Nevertheless, any radio station Lunair hears she listens to quietly. Concerned. She does try not to giggle at the poor sap who gets arrow'd. It's sort of a nervous anachronism. Her eyes widen a bit as the shed goes up. Roy beats her to the punch to silence the screamer. Arrows!

Though, she seems to have other problems. She looks to cover the others, hunting her targets. It's tough, though given how close things are altogether. still, she has a freaking huge honkin' (not overcompensating) sniper rifle. She looks to Evelyn, concerned (whole lotta lookin' goin' on).

"Oh."

*

Evelyn spots the white vans, and she doesn't waste any time pulling out a small pack of explosive. The last of all her secret toys and equipment she could realistically drag around with her. Glancing at the vans one last time, she arms the explosive and daintily into the street where it can be run over by the vans.

Into the comm she says, "Two white vans, incoming from the East." Naught does she say about having it covered. Best to be prepared, she unclips the folded rifle from her body and clips it all together. Leaning in, she balances it on her cover and she watches through the sight. Come on, vans. Hit the mine.

If they fail to do that, she'll move to shoot out their tires.

Guarding the perimeter means guarding the perimeter.

- - - - -

Brooklyn - 1941

"You know what Hemmingway says about war," Bucky says as he rinses one of the dishes off. Steve has gotten down to his tank top as he's on drying duty.

"Who's Hemmingway?" Steve asks with a chuckle.

"He's a writer. Writes a lot about war. Anyways, he said-and let me see if I can get the quote right. He said 'They wrote in the old days that it is sweet and fitting to die for ones country. But in modern war there is nothing sweet nor fitting in your dying. You will die like a dog for no good reason.'" Bucky hands over the glass he's been rinsing.

"Sounds depressing," Steve replies. "What do you think?"

"I think the guy drinks too much, personally. But he writes a good book. You should invest in a library card."

_ _ _ _

NAPATA

NOW

*Crashsite*

Cap strains his eyes as he heads down an alleyway that momentarily blocks some of the fire coming his way. Off in the distance he catches a glimpse of something. There, underneath the wreckage of a burned out car, he can make out a quintet of service men all hiding for their lives.

Cap closes the distance rather quickly and makes it to their side.
"Evenin, boys. Heck of a bad spell of weather we're having, huh?"
He's always found that dry humor works best on the battle field.

He takes a device out from his pouch and begins to 'paint' the area as another pick up point for May.
"Negative, May, I'm not at the perimeter, I'm just off the campsite." Cap turns to look back at the soldier who looks relieved.

"Yes sir, I could do without the hail."

"You and me both."

"Any others?"

The soldier nods, "There was Lee . He got us free from bein surrounded in that building down there. Got us out and then just kept runnin. He went after two of the others just across the stre-"
The words are cut off by a massive explosion that sounds like a grenade.

"You boys stay put and defend this location. I'll find Lee and the others."

*Perimeter*

Hawkeye and Roy continue firing, doing great deals of damage to the enemy combatants, but do not appear to see the White Vans coming. Lunair doesn't either, so everything seems up to Evelyn. What the Perimeter team don't know is that the vans are loaded with explosives not dissimilar to what was seen in Oklahoma so many years ago.

The vans fail to hit the mine, and that's really a good thing. Evelyn shoots out the tires and causes the vans to stop well short of their target. Crisis averted; had those things gone up the entire mission stood a good chance of being lost.

*Compound*

Partisan1 sweeps the backside of the room, making sure that Sara and Manning are clear. Nothing on that floor. Though she doesn't know it yet, there's nothing on the third floor either. Making anything on the second floor somewhat unlikely. It seems that the whole lot of them went down into the catacombs underneath the compound.

Partisan2 arrives just afterward, flanking the other version of herself.

Shift searches the top floor, but finds nothing of import. It seems that al-Tawhid has taken everything with him, if he has any technological equipment at all. Never can be too careful when the US is monitoring-well, monitoring everything.

Sara pulls the door straight off its moorings and allows her partner a view down into the stairwell and small basement beyond. Paul's fire hits at least one person down below down below-if the screams are to be believed. But down in the hallway all is silent after he shoots and delivers the payload.

Once the heroes make it down to the level below, Widow and Shift arriving just after the others, they'll find a most peculiar sight. Al-Tawhid's personal security guard has been shot through the head, killed by Paul Manning. The guard's gun, however, has been picked up by al-Tawhid. He's holding a gun to one of his two wives' head as a last ditch hostage.

"Don't move or I'll shoot her," he yells in broken English.

*In the Air*

The second floor is pumped full of led by Jericho before he takes flight. Working in tandem might be the best way to get to the Army Rangers, with May flying low and Jericho giving cover.

Partisan holds her open hand after her partner, before clearing her throat and moving towards that trap door as she switches over to entirely fluent Arabic. Even if she does have something of a Saudi accent.

"Hey hey hey, relax for a minute alright? Let's talk this over, we can be civil to each other and if you don't like what I have to say you can do whatever it is you want, alright?"

Handing her shotgun towards Sara, as she peers down after Al-tawhid.

"I'll take off my bullet proof vest, and my guns and then you can take me hostage instead alright? Look at her, you're terrifying the woman. Why don't we talk, professional to professional alright?"

Staying right where she is, and silently waving folks back as she lets the man get a good look at her mask. Generally speaking, folks in this line of business recognize the skull. Either as a revolutionary, or a terrorist. Time to see where he falls.

*

The second Partisan, the quiet one, nods to her counterpart and watches from where she is. Staying in place for her own safety, Nancy can't help but be a little grumpy about this.

Getting her to jump out of a plane for the first time, deal with bullets flying everywhere, that's fine, but walking into a mostly empty house is dangerous enough that she's told to stay put.

Suckage. Screw that, she's not a baby. She starts to follow anyway. She spots Sara with her mentors gun, glad she has the mask on. She looks down the trapdoor and then up at Sara.

"Letting her deal with him alone? I thought we wanted him alive."

*

A little grin forms on Shift's face. "Every time." Because no op ever goes completely to plan.

While they are rummaging about, he's got an ear trained on Widow and the reports coming over the comm. Soon as she gives the word, he's on her tail. No 'pay raise' today, and downward they go.

By the time they have reached the catacombs and regrouped with the others, Kwabena has removed the mask from his face and left it to flop behind his neck. His rifle is still held at the ready, but he freezes when they all see that a hostage situation is playing out.

Shift begins to think this through. al-Tawhid has a gun to one of his wives' heads. The other one is free. Partisan I is making an attempt to talk him down, a play that Shift finds just a bit ridiculous. The man is a terrorist, and he's proven to be extremely well connected. Well connected enough to know that a super secret SHIELD team was coming to his back yard this night.

Rogers said they needed him alive if possible. Odds are, if someone tries to take al-Tawhid, his hostage bites it.

These are the justifications that roll through Kwabena's mind when he turns the rifle a few small degrees to the right and fires a shot right through the -other- wife's head.

"You have one wife left," he calls to al-Tawhid. "Kill her too or surrendah. Choice is yours."

Its cold. It may get him in a heap of trouble. But he's taking a gamble that, after this turn of events, al-Tawhid is far more important to these people alive than dead. Hopefully, this motivates him.

*

Sara Pezzini pushes the door out of the way, then hurries down the stairs, eyes narrowing at the sight of Al-Tawhid.
"Nope," she murmurs to the Partisan clone, grimacing briefly as she passes the gun on. "Hope you brought your zip ties."

Covered in strange, metallic, living armor fitted with spars, blades, and spikes, she isn't exactly a reassuring sight.

"We're all walking out of here alive-"

Well, no, apparently we're not. But if someone's already dead, she's not wasting time finding out what else might happen. She thrusts out one hand, and from her arm and shoulder, whip-like tendrils of Witchblade shoot out to wrap around Al-Tawhid's wrists and push him toward the nearest wall, after which she steps forward to slam her forearm across his throat.

"Fucking really?!" That's not for the terrorist. That's for Shift.

*

The ground fire starts moments after Jericho takes off. Well, glowing wings in the night, it was going to happen at some point. Fortunately the glowing eyes aren't just for show. He quickly spots RPG teams on a pair of roof tops. He banks and swoops low, clothes-lining one group onto the street beloww. The others get a more conventional treatment from his M4.

He likes this thing. Pity they'll probably ask for it back.

"Negative on the primary target." He calls over to May. "The locals are out in force. RPGs, wouldn't be surprised to see shoulder launched SAMs. I'll run top cover for you."

Banking and climbing he cranes his neck, looking for the Quinjet. Once he has it he falls in, off it's left wing, about fifty feet above it.

"Ground team, you all still alive over there?"

*

Paul's eyes widen as Shift shoots a wife but there's important business to take care of. And then Sara takes care of it so he turns the business end of his rifle on Shift.

"I assume killing a civilian is a crime in SHIELD too?" It's not really a question that he directs at Natasha.

"Drop the fucking rifle." That, of course, is to Shift.

*

"Roger," is May's reply to Cap, focusing on where Alpha went down and pushing the Quinjet to flying as fast as she dares when less than 100 feet off of the ground.
"Jericho," she practically barks into her comm, as the rest of the kid's name has for the moment slipped her mind. "Try to keep up."
She's not planning on stopping for anyone that might take a potshot at her bird while getting to where Cap left five of the servicemen. This whole op has gone so pear-shaped it's starting to really irritate her. People don't like her when she's irritated.

*

"What the hell, Odame?!" No. SHIELD is not okay with needlessly killing civilians, and Widow's tone should make that pretty clear to the rest of the team. As Sara launches herself forward to pin the terrorist to the wall, Romanoff tracks his gun with her own. A pair of shots.

She's very good, after all. And the 'Blades tendrils do have a way of immobilizing a guy. The bullets are aimed for his hands, to disarm him. Because she doubts he's going to throw down his weapon willingly.

*

"Incoming from the east, roger that.." Hawkeye acknowledges, and turns his sights to those very same vehicles. The drivers, once they've realized that they've been stopped before their targets, begin to exit the vehicle. It's an arrow that finds the head of one of them, sending him silently back into the driver's side.

"Perimeter almost secured," comes as an announcement from the SHIELD agent. "Just.. keep your heads down. If someone pops up, we're in position."

"Secured on this end," Roy comments, as he works on the last of the snipers. "Bring 'em out and quick."

A freeze arrow follows, the better to help secure the drivers. Less lethal, but at least they were alive for interrogation if needed.

*

Lunair doesn't say. Maybe she did see them and decided not to interfere with someone who ALSO follows the 'chuck mines at life's problems' solution (and she punched the self help guru in the jimmies for good measure. She might have a small violence problem). She looks over to the vehicles, relieved they've stopped. She will keep an eye on the drivers and secure her area. At least she didn't bring out the railgun. And throughout it all, she was quietly, surprisingly serious. She looks to the East, then watches her own little area. Any sniper that pops up is going to be whacked like a mole. In the shoulder. Of course.

*

Evelyn swings around, her silenced rifle coming up. Small three round bursts puncture the tires of the vehicles as they screech to a stop. Coming 'round, Evelyn will go to the shaped charge and disarm it. Any driver or otherwise that tries to stop her will get a few bullets in the leg. Once disarmed, she takes it back up and radios in, "Vans secured."

*Crashsite*

Machine-gun fire pings off of Captain America's shield as he makes his way toward the grenade explosion. He turns the corner of one of the tin shacks and can see the remaining Rangers huddled behind a burned out car.

Cap is about to rush over, but pauses as he sees a little Kushite boy, no older than 6, walking out into the middle of the street towards the Americans. Hesitation may or may not have played a part. It's clear that the rules of war have changed in the past 70 years.

The young boy makes his way out towards the Americans.

Lee comprehends what is about to occur too late and the First Lieutenant makes eye contact with Steve Rogers just before the explosion engulfs the Americans and the Kushite boy.

"NO!" screams Steve, but he's powerless to do anything to stop it. He only has enough time to get the shield up infront of his body to block out the fire from the explosion.

It's not clear if it's seconds or minutes, but soon thereafter the block itself begins to be buried in fire and bullets as the backup from the Helicarrier have arrived, joining May suppressing any more fire coming from the locals. Destruction rains down around Captain America and around the other stranded Rangers as the rescue operation is in full swing.

Steve stands there, barely moving, a horrified look on his face as he watches the smoldering bodies left in the wake of the little boy's sacrifice.

What fresh hell is this, where boys strapped with weapons give themselves up to kill Americans?

What fresh hell awaits the United States of America?

*Perimeter*

There's a sigh of relief amongst those at the perimeter as their work here is done. Was it pretty? Well, perhaps as pretty as war can be. Definitely effective. At a spot in between the sniper spots, a quinjet fals from the sky slowly, heavy guns trained on assorted buildings, just in case, but there is no fire as it lands and opens its cargo hold for the perimeter team to get the hell out of this shit hole.

*Compound*

While al-Tawhid doesn't bat an eye at Partisan's offer of switching sides, he cannot help but recoil in horror as Shift straight-up kills his second wife, the one who wasn't his hostage.

His favorite wife.

"Allah, no!" he screams and the gun comes away from his second wife's head. That split second is just enough time to allow Sara's tendrils wrap around his wrist and throat and slam him back into the wall. Terrified, his wife runs towards the Americans, desperately trying to get away from a war she secretly wanted no part of.

The bullets pierce al-Tawhid's arm and he drops the weapon. Whatever conversation needs to happen with Odame's choice in tactics will have to wait. The quinjet evac team has arrived to get the command team back up to safety.

_ _ _ _

Fort Benning, Georgia, August 1991

Allen Lee leans down to take a final look at his son with tears in his eyes. He's shipping off to the Gulf War to go see about a man who thought it fit to invade an ally of the United States of America. After a hug that he wishes would last forever, the elder Lee pulls away from his boy.

"Listen son, you're going to have to be the man of the house while I'm away. This war won't last long, and then I'll be home, but in the meantime you gotta take care of your mother. And do your damn schoolwork, boy. If you wanna be a doctor, you're going to have to get straight A's and get that college paid for."

Little Bryant Lee with tears in his eyes shakes his head, "I won't be no doctor, Pops. I wanna be just like you, Daddy, I wanna be a Ranger."

_ _ _ _

Atlanta, Georgia — June 2, 2014

The flag feels heavy in his hands; it's never felt so heavy. He saw a lot of terrible things back in the 1940s but somehow it felt different back then. It felt more fair and more right.

Steve can't help but feel dirty over how things happened in Napata. Maybe it's just because he's now being forced to deal with the fall out.

Forced. He sounds like a coward in his own head.

As he climbs the steps the flag feels so damn heavy. He's not one partial to sunglasses, but he needs all the cover he can get. The bomber jacket on his shoulders is way too warm. In the reflection of the stormdoor his hair seems way too neat..

He pauses as he's about to knock on the door, not sure of what to say. He knocks anyways, still unsure, and when Mrs. Lee opens the door he doesn't need to say anything.

She sees the flag and she's been here before.

The War: Virulent Pursuit


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