The Tides of Blood: Fishing For Answers

February 19, 2015: Tula corners a suspect in the murder of her king, presses him for answers, and dumps an enormous question in his lap.

Priest and Son's Garage, New York City

A semi-reputable auto garage in New York.



  • Tula

Mood Music:

place would dream of leaving their car anything less than a hundred percent secure: locks, alarms, wheel locks— any and everything to keep their vehicles safe from would-be thieves.

Still, the shop gets plenty of business, legitimate or otherwise; there are plenty of less conscientious motorists to prey on in this city, after all.

Its owner is ostensibly neutral, but the shop's Brighton Beach address means that a healthy majority of its illicit customers speak Russian— and over the course of these last few, pitch-black weeks, some of those customers have been keeping P&S busier than normal. It's quick cash for some of the more cash-starved Bratva crews who are coming to grips with the possibility that their contraband drought may not be so temporary, even with Priest's disassembly team working through dawn to grind through its queue.

The demand has been such that more hands have been sought out and brought in to handle the demand, but given the shop's need for privacy, the pool of talent has been somewhat shallow, creating an opening for the Winter Soldier to insert himself into in his continuing quest to study eliminate his former handlers. Tonight is his first night on the job after a solid week or two of working to put himself on P&S's radar and fabricate the proper references. His uniform consists of unmarked(save for some oil and grease stains, of course) blue coveralls covering kevlar armor and a combat knife; considering the nature of the business, passing them off as safety precautions was pretty easy.

Most of the crew is in the garage, and the sounds of grinding and whirring machinery are easily audible from a distance; the Soldier is perched on the roof with an unlit cigarette hanging from his lips, watching the street below. The armor is pretty readily apparent beneath the coveralls, and the goggles he wears with his standard uniform are resting on top of his head; with all the sparks and metal shavings flying around in there, they're about as logical an accessory choice as body armor and a knife.


Tula is the leader of The Drift, which on the surface doesn't mean much, no one's heard of it, no one even knows it exsists, but what it /means/ is that she belongs to a military composed entirely of superhuman soldiers. And she's the best. It also means she has access to a vast intelligence gathering aperatis who's methods and technologies the surface world hasn't yet heard of. It's how she can find people in short order… at least, once she knows who she's looking for. And thanks to that SHIELD database crack, she has her list of suspects.

The roll down bay door of the chop shop makes an uncharacteristic KRUNKLE sound that carries over the noise of the shop, then it rattles in it's tracks, the entire door shuddering. Then it just… folds in on itself like paper as struts and supports tear free with a scream. The mess of aluminum and steel is then unceremoniously tossed over the head of a long haired young woman where it bangs and clangs it's way into the street. Her armor is scaled, her helm is finned and frames her face, she's barefoot, and just ripped the bay door off of the front of a garage with her bare hands. One guess where she's from. "I seek James Buchanan Barnes." she says, her voice cutting through the suddenly eerie silence as shocked people stare, "If you assist me no harm will come to you. If you do not I will find new and interesting places to insert the tools I seee. In order of increasing size." her voice speaks in Russian, but her lips don't match the sounds she makes, like a bad dubbing of a foreign film. Translation of some kind clearly.

Loud noises at the door are jarring, but not entirely out of place. Some of the shop's customers are impatient; dealing with that is just part of the territory.

When the whole thing is wrenched free and thrown aside, though, that's a problem. To the mechanics' credit, some of them have the presence of mind to go for pistols stashed amongst tools, or tucked beneath their coveralls; most of the temps just put their hands up, though.

One of the men who's midway through digging into his coveralls actually stops to look up at Tula with a bewildered squint as he asks, "Wha— what?" in English. Confusion begins to flash across the features of more of the mechanics, but it doesn't stop them from trying to draw down— not that Tula herself wouldn't be able to, if she so desired.

Fortunately, one of the temps both speaks Russian and isn't too shook to reply, "Wha— who?" as she tilts her head to the side. She doesn't seem to be trying to mislead Tula, so much as she's genuinely confused by her— and more than a little frightened, thanks to the threat.

Meanwhile, the Winter Soldier drops from his perch to land in a crouch behind Tula, knife already drawn. Once the shock of landing fades, he'll start creeping towards her with the intention of lunging and throwing his metal arm around her throat— assuming, of course, that he isn't spotted first.


Tula moves with a sort of lethargic grace as she reaches out to pluck a wrench from atop a tool box and flip it in her hand. A flick of her wrist sends it hurteling throuhg the air with a whine and one of the men pointing a pistol at her is suddenly airborn as if he'd been hit by a car, his body tumbling backwards into a roll until he vanishes into an oil changing pit with a clatter. His blood splatters down in a trail. She then pauses to eye a bunch of tools and picks up a larger wrench, one meant for sockets, and eyes the rest of the room, "This is larger, yes?" she asks almost conversationally. The pauses and tilts her head to the side slightly before suddenly jerking her hand upwards in a blur, getting it in front of her throat just as the arm snakes around her neck, "Your heart isn't pounding like the others." she says, her fingers clamping on his cybernetic limb and grunting in surprise as she finds it tougher then she imagined, "Mr. Barnes I presume?"

Given what he saw her do the door, the Winter Soldier wasn't expecting Tula to be an easy target, but the almost— casual way in which she repels his hold - allowing him to get most of it, then denying him the all-important clinch - is troublesome. Doubly so when they're grappling in the middle of a garage full of people who think he's just some guy: most of them are too preoccupied with sticking their hands up, dropping guns, looking for tire irons or wrenches of their own in case Tula turns her back at an opportune moment, and generally trying to make the best of what is turning out to be a mess well above their paygrades to give his ability to wrestle with her a second thought.

Sparking his secret weapon's secret weapon and frying her would be a whole lot harder to ignore, though— or explain, for that matter. Instead, he tries to drive the knife into her forearm while they jockey for position.

"Who?" he wonders mid-stab, voice flat and dead aside from the slight upward inflection at the end of that word. He's speaking Russian, but there's no apparent accent.

Even now, with his alpha strike blunted and his best chance at overtaking this mystery woman unavailable to him, his heart maintains the steady, unceasing rhythm of a ticking clock.

The oil-covered mechanic who had the misfortune of taking a wrench to the chest strains to stick a trembling arm out of the oil changing pit, eventually seizing the edge after a few long seconds. Since the Winter Soldier and Tula are fighting, a nearby mechanic risks edging close enough to offer him a hand up.

"No— nobody with that name— works here," the Russian-speaking temp shouts, meanwhile.

Tula ignores the others in the room, she has her man now after all. The knife bites at her arm and then slides across her skin, scraping a narrow cut that wells with blood but doesn't exactly bury itself in her flesh like it ought to. "Surfacers." she says in a dismissive tone. She drops the wrench and reaches up to grab his more fleshy wrist with her free hand, keeping the blade from anything vital… just in case. His file made it very clear she shouldn't underestimate this one, SHIELD lists him as a truely impressive threat and her King always warned her that the surfacers were more dangerous then they appeared.

"Oh please." she says, her lips curling into a grimace of anger and joy, "Fight back." She arches her back, pulling her assailtent up over her like a shell, and then she leaps straight up, adapting a new take on the ol' 'smash them against a wall trick' by trying to crush Winter Soldier between her 800 lbs body and whatever the ceiling is made of.

The roof of Priest and Son's is not rated for high-speed, ~half-ton impacts; Tula doesn't just crush the Soldier into the ceiling, they crash through it like a cannonball. A cannonball made of tangled bodies, scales, kevlar, and pain.

The kevlar helps as much as it feasibly can: he can feel fire spreading through his chest when the twin impacts crack several his ribs, but nothing's broken. Nothing's punctured— and when they land a few feet away from the hole, he can still breathe. Better still, the structure holds, after some groaning.

It feels like someone's force-fed him a bag of razors the first time he does so, but he can do it, and that's what matters.

The knife is somewhere in the garage, which is unfortunate; it wasn't as effective as he'd hoped, but then— he didn't exactly use it to its fullest down there. Her strength, durability, and refusal to communicate like a reasonable person all call Namor to mind, a connection that doesn't exactly fill him with confidence. Namor was impossibly strong; grappling with him would have been a waste of time. He hasn't experienced enough of either to say for sure whether or not they're equals, but given that he can barely breathe and she's on top of him, he can't afford to just 'find out'.

"Identify… yourself," he demands between shallow breaths. Her sensitive Atlantean nostrils might register the faint, but rapidly building scent of ozone as he closes his left hand into a fist. It looks fleshy, but Tula knows better: beneath the holographic surface of his skin, Russian engineering crackles as a deadly charge builds. "I don't… know… a 'Mr. Barnes'— "

Electricity dances around his fist in scintillating ribbons as he tries to catch her with a high-voltage cross while concluding, "— you're clearly… in the wrong place."


Tula is not stunned by the impact of traveling through the roof, though she is tangled for a moment in alluminum support braces that were used to hold up the drop ceiling tiles. She shreds these with her hands as she lays on poor Bucky. Rolling free she pulls the remaining annoying bits of metal away from her and tosses them aside, eyeing him as he stands. "Tula of Atlantis, Commander of The Drift…" she pauses, considers, "Analagous to your Spetsnaz though that is a poor comparrison. Your Spetsnaz break so easily." she glances at the fist, "Where I am from the wildlife we cultivate for food build up bioelectric charges." she states matter of factly. The cross comes and she makes a sweeping motion of her arm, rolling it in a tight circle while her other comes up in a flat palm strike aimed at his chest. The charge disipates when her arm initiates the blocking motion and the sudden surge of electricity knocks her back off her feet, steam rising from her skin. Apparently the 'cattle' of Atlantis don't pack /quite/ that much punch. Also, she might be like Namor, but she fights like a martial artist which might be worse.

Tula's so fast; by the time the Winter Soldier registers the block, he's already flying away from her. At that point, the only thing he can do to mitigate the damage is to roll with the impact when the hits the roof, but given where she hit him, it's painfully clear what a half-measure that is. His body bounces roughly against the roof on the way to a landing, tearing holes in his coverall and battering his limbs. The electricity traces a glowing trail behind him at first, but after the first impact, it's pretty much gone.

It won't be long before the bruises begin to form; they're already screaming at him in protest when he pushes himself up to a knee from his eventual stop.

"Tula— of— Atlantis," he gasps, wincing with each word. "You… are wasting… our time."

His features twist into a grimace as he then starts pushing himself up to his feet, fleshy hand clutching his chest the whole way. Something is definitely broken under there, he can feel it; in hindsight, he probably shouldn't have been so quick to pick a fight, but there's no sense in dwelling on that now.

As soon as he's upright again, his hands both clench in front of himself and he drops into a defensive stance. "Whoever… this man is… you will need… to look elsewhere."


Tula pushes herself up to a sitting position and puffs a breath, blowing a strand of hair out of her face that fell free from her top knot. She rises and brushes roof gravel from her arm, "Ow." She says flatly, her eyes narrowing at Bucky, "No." she says flatly, "I will not." she looks him up and down and grins slightly, "I can hear fluid in your lungs," she says, her gaze intent as if she could see through him. "Did you know that some of my people possess the ability to control the flow of water?" she asks, her tone is conversational, "Most of you is water, and now some of that is resting in your lungs." she quirks a brow and seems to relax as if the fighting was all done.

"I have questions for you, you will answer them, if you do not I will solidify the fluid in your lungs into fun and interesting geometric shapes. Like pyramids. Pointy ones." she waves a hand and a holographic display appears in the air from nothing, floating between them. There is an image of the Winter Soldier there, arm and all, and some odd rolling script read out that's not in any language Bucky knows. "You know of the recent assassination of my King," it's not a questions, "were you responcible?" no beating around the bush it seems.

The Winter Soldier holds his stance as Tula makes her pitch for compliance and begins questioning him; it isn't until she's finished speaking that he's satisfied she won't just pop up and charge him.

"No," he states, opening his hands as he drops to his seat with a grimace. One of his hands twitches towards his chest once he's down, but— she's watching him, and he's favored his injuries enough; that hand just closes and the forearm gets draped over his knee.

His eyes don't waver from Tula's at all, nor does the rhythm of his heart shift; if he is lying, his next stop should probably be Vegas.

"'Some of your people' have water powers," he then states in what would be a conversational tone if he had any at all. He at least cants his head a little to make his curiosity somewhat apparent. "Do you?"


Tula's smile is cold, "You could lie and we could find out." she suggests, "I sincerely hope you do." she sounds like she means it. As she talks she pulls something that looks like seaweed from a small pouch on her suit and lays it over the cut in her arm, it adheres to the skin instantly, attaching itself without any effort on her part, "What do you know about the assassination of my King?" she asks, her tone is flat and professional.


"Nothing," the Soldier says as his eyes briefly move to watch Tula deal with her cut. "I know of your king. I wasn't involved in killing him; I'm not sure who was. None of my past or present objectives involved him, so he isn't - wasn't - my concern." All of this is relayed with no hesitation, and still with a lack of any visible tells to suggest dishonesty.

"Like I told you: the man you're looking for isn't here."


Tula eyes him once before looking back down at a readout on the inside of her wrist, checking something, "Give me the names of three other assassins capable of making that shot. Twelve of your miles, give or take, specialized magnetic projectile gun, specialized rounds. Who else would be capable of grouping a series of shots center mass at that range with that equipment?" she asks. She taps her foot once and the roof sort of… creaks.

"They aren't really my concern either; none of my past or present objectives have involved snipers with magnetic projectile guns."

Since he's maintaining eye contact, the Winter Soldier's gaze followed Tula's when she studied her wrist; it stays there after she looks away and as he answers(?) her question, and doesn't move for a few seconds afterwards. When he finally does tear his eyes away to return them to Tula's, he lets out a small, shuddering breath that almost immediately causes his face to tighten when fresh knives of pain dig into his chest.

"You're… " he murmurs once it passes, meeting her gaze again after lowering his eyes during that flash of discomfort. "… desperate, aren't you? To not only play this— this hunch of yours so brazenly, but to try and pump me for information? Information that you probably should have had days, if not weeks ago; what have you been doing?"


"So," one of the mechanics whispers to the group that's huddled around their oil-soaked co-worker. "This new guy's fired, right? I mean— I mean, he can't fuckin'— I'm not doing this again."

Murmurs of approval circle the huddle.


Tula stares at Bucky for a long moment, "I was gathering intelligence on those capable of completeing the hit. Hence you." she says flatly, "In the interest of being a completionist, I'm asking you to name others in your line of work you suspect capable of the murder. We are soldiers you and I, and differing cultures aside, we understand what will happen here. You will assist me in my work or you will die. Usually I am more colorful then that, I make threats, cajole, interrogate, but we are professionals and I will show you the respect that deserves. So which is it to be Soldier of Winter?"

It feels like there's an upside down mountain digging into his chest as he does it, but the Winter Soldier starts slowly pushing himself to his feet as Tula speaks. Gears turn - a bit slower than they normally might, given his flagging oxygen levels and incidental knocks on the head earlier - as he considers the variables:

Either she's still woefully lacking in good intel on this case, or she's just looking to add a little more to the pile— though, the want for three alternatives tips him towards the former.

She's hurt, but his injuries are much worse.

She's stronger, tougher, faster; if he had a weapon, or a clean shot with his metal arm, he might have a shot at putting her down, but— see above, re: injuries.

He hasn't actually seen her control any fluid, he's just heard her imply it; not even to control her own blood loss.

The only remote possibilities for alternative suspects that come to mind are linked to HYDRA; one is an agent, the other a rogue product.

"I only know of one other possibility," he begins, staggering back a couple of steps once he's upright. "Nngh— a young woman. A freelancer, from what I know; she has the power to create weapons from nothing, and is very adept at handling them. "Her name is Lunair Weir; formerly, Muriel Winterson." He falls back a few more steps until he's able to lean back against a protruding A/C unit with a heavy sigh of exertion.


Tula eyes the downed man evenly, "SHIELD already extruded her from consideration. Her powers are grand, but her skill with them is limited. She's not good enough to make the shot." though she made be capable of summoning the weapon. Tula makes a mental note to inform her Queen of this additional possibility. The surface world is filled with complications like this and it's starting to annoy her. "Not good enough." and Tula stomps a foot once, which causes the entire roof of the structure to groan and shift in a manner that's none to good for one's resting heart rate.

The Winter Soldier scrambles for purchase as the ground shudders beneath his feet; he ends up squatting lower than he was before, but with a taut grimace and his right arm wrapped around his torso, he manages to push himself up along the askew AC unit until he's mostly standing.

"You know what I know," he groans while arching all the way upright. "More, clearly; if that isn't good enough for you, then I think that we're done here. I am not valuable enough to merit letting your king's killer slip farther away— and they are, every minute that you spend here."

With a shuddering breath, he lurches forward and lumber towards Tula with his ribs still cradled in his right arm and the other hanging at his side. It's a slow, steady advance; not only does he want lower the odds of Tula just pouncing, shambling is a hell of a lot easier on his battered body. "You could kill me if you wanted, but it would take time— so would healing, if you were any more injured than you are right now. And then, there are my commanders; since you know so many things, perhaps you know who they are, too." HYDRA, as of a mission with no less than Namor a few months ago.

"How much time are you willing to spend trying to escape their coils, once they realize what you've done?" It's all laid out in a clinical fashion, as if discussing an upcoming baseball game instead of the effects of his own death. Assuming that Tula lets him, he drags himself along the creaking roof until he's a few feet away from her— not quite in arm's reach, but close.

"Is my death worth all of that to you?"


Tula eyes him with a flat look that's just lightly seasoned with contempt as he begins to work his way towards her. "Namor, with a handful of outcasts and barely functional ships, has made a habit out of turning your employers minions and bases into ruins. My Queen rules two thirds of your planet, the resources at her command are beyond your comprehension. You believe I fear the coils of cowardly warriors who cloth themselves in the name of ancient monsters of myth?" she asks before lifting a hand with it's fingers slightly curled inward. There's a tremor beneath their feet and something wet splashes against Winter Soldier's shins. Water is pour /up/ out of the hole their leap made, up, and is gathering on the rooftop, "I slew my first sea dragon in my fourteenth year," she states flatly, "what do I have to fear from a hydra?" the water around his ankles hardens like ice, though the tempature remains the same, "And you are not the only assassin on this rooftop. I read your file. That's far enough thank you."

"I think that you're so eager to prove something, to someone, that you've forgotten why you're actually here; either that, or you've come to declare war."

The Winter Soldier's brow furrows just a little when her gesture shakes the building and calls water up to pool on the roof; he really had been hoping that was a bluff.

But it isn't, so he flicks his eyes down and— continues trudging forward, ready to pounce should the pain in his chest abruptly worsen. Pounce, or die; whichever he manages to do first. Dead eyes narrow as he states, "The poison, mostly— nnh— "

Water hardens; his eyes turn down again and then his head tilts as he lifts them to Tula. "You're very strong, and Atlantis' resources are vast; a real war would still be costly for both of you." He can't really speak much about what Namor's been up to; even if it is his cell's holding that the Sub-Mariner's been razing, it isn't his job to think about strategy on that level. "It wouldn't bring you any closer to what you want to know, either. You're just posturing, now."


Tula shakes her head slowly, "I am not postureing." she says simply, "I am informing." she walks over to him, one may note that she actually walks /on/ the water, which brings them to eye level and she stares into his face evenly. Her eyes flicker over to his metalic arm and then back up to his eyes, "You talk in circles, like one of the intelligence officers I abhor dealing with, you say much and nothing all at once while trying to glean what information you can from my responces." she eyes him for a long moment and he can /feel/ the fluid in his lungs suddenly moving of it's own accord, "I do not understand you people." she says as it begins to crawl, slowly, it's viscous way up inside his chest, moving along his air passage. As it moves, there is a sudden wrenching pain in his chest as his ribs are unceremoniously moved by the fluid, pushed on painfully, "You kill one another with abandon, you poison and destroy the world you require to give you life. You are a traitorous cancer intent on ending everything but yourselves, as if the world weren't large enough for everyone to live in peace." the fluid works it's way up Bucky's chest, crawling and oozing, then through the back of his throat. It writhes and wriggles, like a thing alive, as it suddenly floods free into his mouth before it's pulled out of him, from his nose, between his lips, and hangs there in the air between them, a mucusy ball shot through with pink veins of blood roughly the size of a galf ball. It seems much smaller then it should have been, given the trouble it gave him. But suddenly he can breath freely if not deeply. The globual drops with a splat to the water that encases his ankles, "My King once told me something one of you surface worlders said. A wise man can learn more from a foolish question then a fool can learn from a wise answer." she turns and begins walking away, "You have told me what I needed to know."

"I didn't kill your king. I don't know who did. Pressuring me as if these things are not true is— "

The Winter Soldier's brow furrows further as a harsh wheeze enters his already compromised breathing and pressure builds in his chest.

"— not— in your best interests; if these are circles, then I must not— understand— Atlantean— geome"


The Winter Soldier lurches forward and hacks up a spray of red-tinged fluid.

It's nothing compared to the next thing to explode out of his mouth. And nose.

By the time he can breathe again, his fingertips are somewhere near the submerged roof and his nose is just a foot or two away from the water's surface— a fact which he immediately rectifies by forcing his spine to straighten. Even then, he wavers bonelessly in vague, jerky circles as if advertising a blowout car sale or mall opening.

"Good luck… with your investigation," he rasps between pants while clutching at his chest.


Tula stops at the edge of the building's roof, "Your ribs are set." she says flatly, "Wrap them, avoid strenuous labor. Your left lung sounds as if it may be punctured as well." she looks him up and down once last time as if still searching for something, "Your kind are a disease, but my King protected you all the same. I would be a poor soldier if I undid his work seeking his murderer. Do not mistake this for kindness, it is merely duty." the water around his ankles makes a splashy noise and pours down through cracks in the roof. She turns and takes a step out into open air and vanishes, though the earth shaking CRUNCH of her impact on the asphault below makes the entire building tremble.

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