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High above the smokestacks, @STEVE ROGERS
PERMALINK // POSTED ON: Aug 29 2016, 10:59 PM
Taking time away from work had been tedious for Alex when as of late, her entire world centered around work. It had been the first good thing that she had been able to do with her life in so long; she felt as though she finally had a purpose after years spent wanting nothing more than to see her own life extinguished like a flame.
Nothing had ever been the same after the Division had assassinated Alex's family in Russia just under ten years ago. Her life had been meant to be taken as well, but someone had dragged her out of the carnage and the chaos and had handed her over to her father's right-hand man in hopes of sparing Alex from the death that the Division was deeming necessary for whatever reason they had.
That should have been the end of the tragedy. Alex should have been put into witness protection and should have been kept a secret from the Division altogether, but that wasn't the case. No one was waiting with open arms to take the now-orphaned Alex in because no one had known she had survived; the only man that did - her father's right-hand man - knew that with Alex surviving, she would inherit her father's billion dollar company and that wasn't something he wanted to see happen. Not when he could just as easily step in and take over the company, himself.
So for a pretty penny, Alexandra Udinov - the thirteen year old daughter of the Russian billionaire Nikolai Udinov - was sold to a man that specialized in sex trafficking. It was with him that Alexandra was introduced to a great many types of drugs, all of which were injected into her arms against her will until she was unwillingly addicted enough to them to need them. To ask for them, beg for them, to be willing to earn them however someone saw fit. That was how those rings worked, after all... Once you were addicted to a substance you knew you couldn't afford away from your captors, you'd withstand the physical abuse - the rape - just to get your next hit.
It had taken a few years, but Alex had been able to escape her hostage-like situation, but never the drug addiction, itself. She still found herself struggling to find her next fix and it was there fighting off three drug dealers that were attempting to rape her where Nikita found and rescued her. It had taken Nikita quite some time to force Alex off any and all drugs (cold turkey, at that) but she had done so successfully enough to have been able to make a fake Division agent out of Alex in hopes of tearing the Division apart from the inside out, as a rogue Division agent, herself.
The Division didn't know that Alex was a double agent, nor did they know her true identity was that of Alexandra Udinov, the girl they had attempted to assassinate so many years ago. All they knew was that Alex - like Nikita once had been - was their best agent and they were willing to bend rules to ensure her happiness and her commitment to their cause. So while it may have come as a surprise to a great many when Alex was granted not only the ability to pursue a relationship - something that was typically forbidden - but was allowed to marry such a high-profile guy like Oliver Queen.
What was even more shocking was the fact that she had had two children - two maternity leave requests - that had been approved. This, of course, was a first for the Division; Alex was the first married agent with biological children of her own, at least as far as the new recruits were concerned.
She wasn't fully back, not yet. She still spoke to both Nikita and Michael quite frequently behind the Division's back, and both knew that she was slowly weaning herself back in as a full-time agent. She picked up some of the smaller missions while she slowly began her training once again in hopes of getting back into perfect shape. Still, Alex's heart was always set on the bigger cases, like that of the Desert Wolf.
The brunette hybrid hadn't gotten much closer to the Desert Wolf than this, standing on the top of one of the many buildings in the city of New Orleans with the Wolf's
One or two, Alex could take on without a problem even through she wasn't anything like the self-trained and masked vigilantes of the city. Alex showed her face because she left no witnesses; her targets were always eliminated, but that didn't seem to be the case with these beings. They were too durable, for whatever reason, and right now? It was six against one, the odds not even remotely in Alex's favour.
"I suppose there's no chance you guys wanna go about this the easy way, huh?" Not that they had ever muttered so much as a single word in the few times she had come face-to-face with the Desert Wolf's guards; she wasn't expecting any response to her rhetorical question.
The gun that she was always pointing in their direction had been beaten from her hand at some point during the more physical part of the fight and was now aimed at her, an unfair advantage since typically these men had been able to kick her ass without a single weapon but it was the fall, Alex knew, would steal her life from her as she danced dangerously close to the edge of the building's roof.
She knew that this could go one of two ways: either they shot her off the edge of the building or they found a way to physically push her over because they sure as hell weren't about to let her walk out of there with her life intact, knowing she'd continue to pursue the Desert Wolf.
A single glance behind her was enough for Alex to be able to see - four floors down - the roof to another level. Maybe it was an add-on to the building, or maybe it was just how the structure had been built intentionally. Four stories was a long way to fall but as a hybrid, Alex knew it was something that she could easily survive, especially when compared to a bullet.
Alex's blue eyes were on the six men that continued to keep her cornered like an animal; a small smile tugging on the corner of her lips as she spoke. "Well, it's been fun, boys..."
As the brunette leaned back and felt nothing but empty space beneath her, Alex couldn't help but to think about just how much this was bound to hurt. Slightly more humorously enough, she didn't think much about the four stories of windows within the building that may very well see a woman falling, nor did she give much of a thought to those inside that might assume she was falling (or jumping) to her death. Instead, Alex focused on the right position to hit the hard surface of the roof in, hoping to minimize injury however she could.
Nothing, however, could prevent the air from being knocked from her lungs as she made impact and no matter how many times Alex endured having the wind knocked out of her, she never quite got used to it.
Rolling over onto her side both in an attempt to catch her breath and in an attempt to document any potential injuries - of which there were none - Alex lingered there in that position for mere moments before collapsing back down onto her back. Her blue eyes on the sky as air filled her lungs which she quickly sighed right back out. She was fine for now, but she would certainly have a lot of explaining to do.
PERMALINK // POSTED ON: Aug 7 2017, 12:23 AM
Steve didn't often do in-city missions these days.
Grant had ultimately made this decision; Steve had riled against at first, but eventually forced himself to concede to the wisdom of the concept. The fact of the matter was, Steve had been sighted multiple times by locals going head-to-head with the Winter Soldier (oh, Ash...), and unmasked at that. Granted, with three of the same face wandering around in the form of he and his brothers… it could be any of them, right? But whereas Grant and Nick kept on the side of secrecy… when Steve wasn't working or taking care of his charge, he was purposefully defying the self-assigned supernatural authority of the city by freely using his ability on anyone he could. His contact list was overflowing not because he had a huge social circle or anything (in fact, he could count his close friends on one hand... plus a spare finger), but because he did right by enough people that in times of crisis, they turned to him. People knew him.
Despite expressing to his brother and his sister-in-law that he had no desire for the "Steve Rogers" name to be attached to the symbol he acted as, he was worryingly uncaring about hiding who he was, or what he could do. All it took was someone outright asking, and because he struggled to lie when it came to matters that weren't life or death; he could find no other justification to stay his tongue. He had a bad tendency to remove his helmet when visibility or audibility were compromised, or when care for the injured trumped sensibility. And if a young person—especially children—recognized him? All bets were off. He'd answer to anything they desired, if only to help make their day better in some fashion.
All of the above, while conducive to the person Steve was, wasn't to the life he wanted to live. So Grant had stepped in—recognizing that Steve was too connected to this place, to its people, and to its agonies and joys—to make smart choices about it or his own well-being. Grant had served in the heat of war as the Captain, but Steve? Steve had only ever known this role as something he was made for. He was not yet at the point where his decisions could transcend the intimate and the precise; he was emotionally invested in the rhythm and heartbeats of every life around him, whether he liked it or not. Maybe it was a good thing, Grant had once mused to Peggy. Steve was perfectly capable of striving for the bigger picture, but he could be diverted by the smaller details—by the individual lives affected by the battles being fought, and what it meant to prioritize the final objective over the in-the-moment result. Maybe it was good. Maybe Steve could strike the perfect balance—between the warrior, the leader, and the healer.
But sometimes, whether it be because Grant couldn't handle it that night, or because Steve was feeling particularly contrary, he would put on the suit, strap his shield to his back, and head out. The tech team over at SSR was happy to supply him with whatever open docket cases were floating around, filling his ear with chatter that he didn't mind listening to because he knew non-priority night shifts could get lonely. Lower level stuff, usually—the kind of thing he really shouldn't be bothering with, especially in uniform. But when you can't sleep, you can't sleep, and what better reason to put down some investigative tracks, or to punch out a few thugs, than a restless and retrospective mind?
The muted blue and silver suit, affectionately nicknamed the "stealth suit" by the eggheads (as Grant playfully called them), kept him blended into the shadows. Truth be told, the only files worth looking at for someone like the Captain were all recon missions: checking in on a rumored drug shipment that might happy any third Wednesday at 3:04 AM, but nobody knew which one; looking into the repeated City Hall break-ins wherein the only thing disturbed was one third-floor cubicle farm computer (and the only thing amiss being its snipped cables); or heading up to Shreveport to check on a meeting between a Chilean diplomat and a Thai nobody that, so far as anyone could tell, didn't know each other, but nonetheless had shared dozens of code-word-laced phone calls in the past year. All were tasks that really would have been better carried out by a plainclothes agent, probably during the day… but the worst he could do was make no progress.
He was on his way to the docks when the first ticker tape item came in, indicating some sensor had been tripped at Stark Industries. Technically the SSR had no purview over Tony and Pepper's Stark multi-billion-dollar conglomerate, but they also were receiving a lot of tech as of late from the inventor… so they kept an eye out, maybe as a way of saying thank you. Or as a way of protecting their assets. You want to assume one of the most intelligent men to live in the past century knew how to secure his patents, but the SSR didn't get to the modern age without being cautious. Besides, the drug ship was likely a bust, just as it had been the last seven weeks anyone had checked on it.
Steve pressed a gloved hand to his ear and replied that he'd look into it, since he wasn't far from the steel and glass think tank/idea factory anyway. The engine of the bike he straddled—another toy courtesy of the SSR—went from a low purr to an enthusiastic growl as he cracked it and took off, disappearing down a darkened street.
Arrival on the scene indicated nothing amiss—not even heightened security, or a flashing light, or a sound—anything. Granted, SI was heavily patrolled as it was, so maybe one minor alarm wasn't enough to trigger a frenzy, but still, Steve wondered if he should be able to pull up to the building like this, or if he was expected. Though the building wasn't as dark as one might assume during the early hours of the morning (one or two entire floors were lit) here and there, it was clear there wasn't much happening. Not unless you counted two front desk guards playing blackjack where they thought they couldn't be seen while a third paced the ground level and yawned every two seconds something much.
Steve sat back on the bike, hand halfway to his helmet to radio in the false alarm, when a dark shape, fleeting, but back-lit by one of those aforementioned floors, plummeted from an upper level to the roof of the adjacent building.
Steve was on the move before he had a second to collect his thoughts.
Every once in a while, the typical human has been known to survive remarkable circumstances and against all expectations. But those were the exception. Most people are very breakable, with skin that bruises and tears, and bones that shatter. Most people who plummet four stories to land on their back probably aren't walking away from that one on their own… if they're lucky.
Still, he could hardly just watch someone drop from above and not act on it, even if he was justifiably fearing whomever he had witnessed taking a swan dive was dead.
Scaling the building was easier said than done, but only because Steve had opted, rather than bust down the door and summon the cavalry, to climb an adjacent parking garage and leap from that roof onto this one. Were it anyone else (supernatural aside), that wouldn't have been possible, but what kind of word is "impossible" to Steve Rogers when he's got a tiger by the tail? Sometimes he was a real walking, talking, gravity-defying pain in the ass when he wanted to be, even if there was no one around to see it.
He half-expected to see blood splatter, brain matter, or at least the simple, but obvious nonentity of an absence of life courtesy of his ability. Instead, he was staring down a living, breathing woman who nonetheless seemed only mildly put off for someone who had tangoed with the meaner side of physics just then.
He took a step into her sight-line, hands loose and at the ready should he have to abruptly go for his shield, and tried to make sense of the face behind the mess of tousled hair and gravel dust that was otherwise obscuring it.
"Are you okay?"
You're gonna get back on your feet
PERMALINK // POSTED ON: Jan 3 2018, 06:34 PM
Alex knew that she wasn't exactly alone a few moments into catching her breath and accounting for any potential injuries after her free-fall. The footsteps taken towards her were quiet, almost too quiet to belong to someone who didn't know how to be stealth. Knowing that it it was either coincidence or strategy, Alex decided to err on the side of caution.
Her gun, black against the gravel beneath her, was a mere few inches from her hand, having been momentarily released during the impact after the fall. Alex was reclaiming it as a figure moved into her somewhat blurred line of sight as a steady hand aimed without fail.
She was locked on her target just as deeply-spoken words were asking her if she was okay; her blue eyes taking in the uniform that had been reported by the media fighting the good fight throughout the city over the course of the last year or so. It screamed S.S.R., not that that was a bad thing, but when Alex was still undercover with the Division in an attempt to dismantle them from the inside, running into their golden boy wasn't exactly the best case scenario for Alex.
Her morals and values had never let her claim a life that hadn't deserved being claimed to begin with. Any mission that Alex was handed by her superiors was investigated by her prior to her executing a, well... execution. Anyone that Alex felt deserved a second chance and anyone Alex felt hadn't done a wrong that warranted a death sentence was handed to Nikita. She either made the kill shot herself and passed it off as Alex's, or she got close enough to the target to encourage them to fake their assassination.
It was the rapists, the murderers, the child abductors... those were the people Alex had no qualm in terminating. Captain America wasn't someone that she viewed as a threat to innocent lives, but it was hard to determine how the Division would react to she and he crossing paths without action on her behalf. Part of her knew they wanted him for themselves more than anything, but Alex also knew that the Division prided themselves on 'dead or alive' when it came down to it.
Lowering her gun with a wince as pain shot through her shoulder upon doing so, Alex rolled over onto her side so that she could push herself up into a sitting position.
"I'm good; just... stargazing." Her focus shifted from the man-in-blue to her dust-covered jacket. Her free hand trying to brush it clean as best as she could before her blue eyes were glancing back up with mild curiosity. "Say, you didn't see six guys dressed in animal skins and skulls lurking around these parts, did you?..."
PERMALINK // POSTED ON: Jan 7 2018, 05:35 PM
One moment you’re expressing concern over someone trying to base jump without a parachute, the next… well. Steve didn’t flinch at the gun pointed at him, nor did he raise his hands defensively, even though both reactions would have been well within reason. Some people—especially inexperienced gun handlers—tended to be a little jumpy: that isn’t to say this person didn’t know the proper trigger discipline, but rather that, in his experience at least, it’s probably better to assume that someone doesn’t know how to handle a firearm than to assume they do. And it’s not like anyone who was familiar with such weaponry and was determined to use it would necessarily hesitate a fraction more at a peacemaking gesture than if Steve stood still and made no sudden movements instead. So, despite the fact this woman’s go-to reaction was to point steel at him, his own reaction was to stare cooly back, waiting for an indication for an attack… or lack thereof.
A heartbeat, and the slightest twist of Steve’s mouth; his response was light, and 100% smart-assed.
“Ah, right… my mistake. I always bring my gun stargazing, too.”
Perhaps it was a good thing Steve hadn’t been able to sleep tonight. He could hear the radio room back at the SSR inquiring if he was alright, but he also knew there was a myriad of vitals showing up on their screens, too, and that they’d have the answer if they took a long enough look, so he didn’t bother verbally answering. His heartbeat was steady, his breathing even; perhaps the only indication of stress was a tautening of muscles across his body, like a coil being compressed…. Just in case. He may have caught this woman off guard, and that could be enough for her to react unfavorably, but she was also being cordial and lighthearted, which didn’t exactly warrant an attack. He wouldn’t let his guard down, but Steve wasn’t one to take the offensive preemptively unless someone else’s life was at risk (was it really preemptive, if that was the case?) either.
He didn’t have to spare a look to check whether the bizarre people his “new friend” was describing were in the area; in his mind’s eye, he knew he had only seen her and her fall, and that was it.
“If they’re still in the area, they’re either rappelling down the north side of the building, which I couldn’t see, or… more likely… they took the stairs.” But even as Steve said that, he knew it was unlikely. The main building was subdued and quiet. They’d both know immediately if an alarm started blaring, and as Stark constantly reminded anyone who listened when the subject was brought up, his security was top notch. Steve was disinclined to believe that six animal-visage-wearing individuals could circumvent the various going both up and down… because how the hell else did they get up there if not naturally?
Never think you know everything, Steve. Anything is possible when you yourself are an anomaly.
For a moment, Steve was quiet and still. At first he was disinclined to help the woman up, as her grip was still on the gun, but now that he could see it better… her index finger laid along the barrel of the gun, the weapon lightly but firmly grasped and pointed away from him. She knew what she was doing. Even if that meant that the “plot thickened”—why was she going toe to toe with six individuals wearing pelts, for starters, and how and when did she learn how to handle a weapon properly when trigger discipline was so rarely taught—it also meant she wasn’t going to shoot him accidentally. Nope, any bleeding would be on purpose.
He stuck out his free right hand, the shield still hanging loosely in his left (however, he had adjusted his grip and hold so that the metal was protecting much of his abdomen). With nothing to lose, and no reason to keep his curiosity under wraps just yet, he spoke, his tone serious… but inquisitive. Sure, he was making a few deductive leaps, but based on the information thus far offered, it seemed on the money. It was worth a try, anyway. “Why were you being chased by those people? And why did you jump? I mean, you clearly expected to survive, but still… that was risky.”
And beneath that, a subtext: you’re either lucky, wearing a lot of armor, or different… and I’m betting on the last one.
You're gonna get back on your feet
PERMALINK // POSTED ON: Mar 30 2018, 04:18 PM
Alex wasn't about to pretend that she was above rolling her eyes to his sassy comment; her blue eyes rolling towards the sky as she kept her aim locked. It wasn't every day that she came face-to-face with someone that might question who she was or what she was doing, but after seeing the shield, Alex found herself mentally cursing the many vigilantes of the city that seemed to be coming out of the woodwork.
That on its own would have been somewhat amusing to Alex simply because her husband, too, was a vigilante. One of the first that had taken it upon themselves to start writing the wrongs of the city, so it was needless to say that Alex tried to keep up-to-date on who the other vigilantes were, even if few actually worked together.
As far as The Division went, they kept their agents on a need-to-know basis as far as the city's vigilantes were concerned. Agents knew the aliases the vigilantes went by, as well as their trademark weapons and uniforms. Because of who she was married to, Alex had her ways to dig further into who these vigilantes were, but unless they were aligned with Oliver, they were all still giant question marks both to The Division and to Alex.
Her muscles tightened as the man before her reached out a hand while still managing to keep himself protected (for the most part) behind his shield. Did she have trust issues? Sure. Was she wary around the other vigilantes? Absolutely, but even Alex — who had been through more in her youth than most people endured in six lifetimes — knew that she had to trust people sometimes, even if she didn't necessarily want to.
With slight hesitation, Alex accepted the offered help up, though was careful as not to accidentally disarm herself by doing so. "Thanks..." One hand still expertly gripping her weapon while the other was quick to dust her jeans off as best as she could.
Gone were the days when The Division desperately tried to keep up with Alex. She totalled many ear pieces in the line of duty (if not disposing of them just to get their voices out of her ear nine times out of ten). She had dug out nine tracing chips that they had insisted on implanting and, when promoted to field agent (allowing her to live among civilians), had escaped so many agents assigned to keep on eye on her, that surely The Division saw it more cost effective to simply trust Alex. At least as much as a secret government agency hell-bent on destruction and domination was able to trust someone.
She was thankful for this, as it allowed her to speak freely without worrying about slipping up enough to tip The Division off that something a touch more nefarious was driving Alex's loyalty to them.
"I'm looking into a bit of an urban legend that's not so legend-y. Someone doesn't want me getting much closer." That wasn't entirely untrue, either. "Jumping was less of a risk than squaring off with six things.. people that I knew nothing about. Besides, you're not the only science experiment around these parts, Captain..."
PERMALINK // POSTED ON: Apr 8 2018, 06:48 PM
The corners of Steve’s mouth made the faintest of upward twitches at the woman’s rolling eyes; an experienced viewer would know the seemingly meaningless spasm of his lips belied an impish attitude he didn’t oft show to others, especially strangers. But it was there, and in the dark, alone, with this mysterious (and potentially dangerous) individual, he had no problem giving as good as he got.
He was relieved, too, that the woman didn’t cling to the lie as long as some would. Maybe it was the sheer absurdity of a costumed individual confronting a wannabe extreme parkourer on top of a building neither of them should have been able to access.... or maybe it was the authority of the shield (which was a convoluted concept in it of itself—some people did remember and cared about what his brother had done… but most had long since forgotten), but whatever the reason, clearly she didn’t feel like messing around. That was good. Neither did he.
After helping the woman to her feet, Steve took a step back to give her some breathing room, opening up the space between them to a healthy three yards. Again, he didn’t perceive any danger from her—he wasn’t backing away out of fear—but… it was best to be careful. Besides, it was the polite thing to do, given that the average individual would be pretty shaken up by a multi-foot fall. And, for the most part, Steve was nothing if polite. Polite, and very, very carefully keeping an eye on the gun and the hand that held it.
Though the woman might be mercifully free of chatter in her ear, Steve was not. The cacophony of a control room waking up on account of this curious turn of events may not have technically been distracting to him—one bonus of the serum was an improved ability to accept and process multiple streams of input, or, well, truly multitask, without giving preference to one or the other—but he didn’t like the implication of failing to give the other person his full attention. Besides, he’d be a liar if he said he wasn’t made curious by the entire situation: this woman, the building in question, the people that she had been chasing/that had been chasing her. It was odd. It was concerning. It wasn’t wise to ignore it.
A hand, gloved except for the fingertips, reached up and pulled out the clear-coated earpiece from his left ear. It fell to his shoulder; he shrugged and shook his head, much like an animal shooing away a distracting insect, and refocused. Sure, he could still hear the faint hum of the talk… but it was something he could now also willfully ignore. He’d take whatever flack he had to take later; it was worth it.
Sometimes he was more like his brothers (and they like him) than any of them could possibly imagine.
Blue eyes watched without wavering, their owner listening, processing. Not that there was a whole lot to go off of, but if he could pick up something more from her body language or tone of voice… “What legend?” Mysteries abounded in this city, not the least because of the peculiar creatures that inhabited it… but the average person wasn’t privy to all that seethed beneath the surface. The world was weird, and it got weirder every day, but for most, blissful, if not necessarily willful, ignorance ruled.
Her last words, however…
While those aware of his “curious difference” were numerous enough to feel like he wasn’t really hiding, on the whole, most people were perfectly unaware that Steve was augmented in any way. Though he did not strive to disguise it—and was actually fairly honest once trust was established—most people just choose not to know. Superhuman strength and senses? Accelerated healing? Immunity to toxins? If Steve could exist, that meant others could, too, and then suddenly all the little inexplicable moments you were trying to deny as possible are very real, and must be confronted. And that’s scary.
Obviously, though, the S.S.R. was aware, because without them, Grant’s genetic material wouldn’t have stuck around long enough to help make him and Nick—and that was a mess they had ultimately decided to clean up (but not in the way Division might have). Steve thought he’d know if another S.S.R. agent was running around town, because he was mostly privy to the inner workings of the agency thanks to his rank, but he wasn’t oblivious to the secretive nature of the institution, either. Some might think compartmentalizing their operatives was a good idea—you can’t be forced to collectively recount the entire structure of an organization if you don’t know it. Yet, Steve had never liked the idea; it’s real easy to be at the receiving end of a bunch of lies if you aren’t able to rely on those around you.
Division was also aware, because, well, they had made him. They’d poked and prodded the genes until a sickly body (him) was born, and they had poked and prodded him until that same sickly body was able to accept the serum. He would not be without Division. At all. And because of that, Steve knew Division might always be after him—if not to try and claim back what they saw as rightfully theirs (because even if you ignored that you can’t “own a human”, somehow the serum indebted him to them, he supposed), then to get rid of someone who had made a personal commitment to be a thorn in their side for as long as they both shall live. Maybe he was succeeding at that; maybe he wasn’t. But to assume they weren’t after him, especially after last year, was a special brand of stupid… and, so, he was hyper-alert to the institution, as well as any indication that the waters were about to get troubled in a fashion that reeked of them.
Either way, such a statement… Steve didn’t like it. He didn’t bother to keep his expression blank. Eyes narrowed slightly; he straightened. Though he stopped himself from glancing at the gun again, he was extremely conscious of its location, and behind the shield, his grip tightened ever so slightly in preparation.
‘Huh.” A shrug. A half-smile. A quick catalogue of escape routes. “I wasn’t aware that was common knowledge these days… so, whose experiment are you?”
You're gonna get back on your feet
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