1965-01-23 - Project Virgo: Eden
Summary: The garden of Eden was said to be a lovely place. It's not when the ground very literally wants to kill you.
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rogue bucky 

He's torn - Steve's being taken by the earth, but there's Scarlett fighting, and the kids. He can't imagine they've just pulped the Captain. Not with his kid (or kids, most likely) down there. A beat of hesitation and he's turning towards Volya, ready to assist the hunter.

Sinking into the riddled ground is just one accursed fate. Gone is Captain America under the earth.

Which of his children fights off the greenery, urgently ripping at the snow-parched and frost-baked weeds that should not bestir themselves until the distant spring arrives? Children, brothers, kith: the desperate anger is contagious, hideous ends defying their strength. Efforts to tear roots free only allow another tangle to entomb one.

Which one? Difficult to ascertain, Evgeniy perhaps by the sheer size. Adam and Kyr being nowhere in sight, their numbers are thinned in the back western corner of the property. He has no clear sight, at any rate, the Winter Soldier boxed in to a narrow alley along the side of the wing by the risen wall that deliberately blocks his path. Edging along the side presses him into the building, an increasingly narrowed route with a high crenellation up top. Nothing saying that knife can't be used to climb up.

The roof it might be. This sudden intervention of the earth has to be Volga, no one else. Zola's mad science surely doesn't extend that far. He turns to try and climb to the crest of the wave, see if he can reach the roof, knife in hand.

Climbing not quite sheer bedrock and stone takes its toll on the knife, bending the blade slightly, though the impact isn't so great on the metal arm punching holes into the rearing barrier. Winding serpent's backbone of a curtain wall separates him, and Bucky may not be winded by the time he gets to the crest, but he certainly should be feeling some of the strain.

And what a tableau on Christmas morning, by Orthodox measure? The old calendar would have it that a saint blesses this morning as the hour of Jesu's birth, where blood streams down bodies sprawled in the grass. Many wear black attire, the look of those functionaries meeting the train. Only four or five, but the savagery inflicted upon their bodies speaks of intense focus or maybe resilience. Snapped necks and bulletholes in their clothes are merely a start. Volya fights in a fugue, passing them at a speed not matched even by the aerial acrobatics of Nikita on the run. Whatever gun he obtained has all the hallmarks of that absolute favourite of Communist nations, the AK-47. The Kalashnikov he wields carelessly only to push away another swarm of those two bastards circling him, their weapons since discarded. Or mostly; the firearms are replaced by jagged claws, needling appendages from wrists and shoulders that blend scorpion and serpent.

Buck's still got his own rifle, bumping at his hip, as well as the pistol on the other. He tries for the roofline as less likely to maliciously collapse under him, the better to take a knee on the dark tiles and aim down at those foolish enough to try and surround Volya. Whatever unholy blend of monster they might be. Steve isn't forgotten, but….he's more likely to be able to handle himself, where-ever he's gone.

The dormitory stands higher, and the dacha hall linking the wings to that somber brick outpost has mildly more intact rooflines. Mind, none of that matters when the occasional toss hurls a body airborne and plunging through the tiles. Thatching and wooden shingles contribute to the uneven footing that Bucky has to navigate carefully, the cultivated rot exactly the thing to repel assassins and birds alike.

Volya bleeds; how not? Superficial grazes to shoulder and thigh and back, but those cuts might signify nothing or be serious. The black clothing allows for nothing. One of the wolves strikes and rebounds through the wolves, chasing someone rather than something.

The first horror: a child fleeing in bare feet, chased in hot pursuit, white nightshirt blurring against the background. Orel or Kyr, hard to say, it's one of the younger Bucklings.

Off to the east cavorts a confusing target, to say the least. Scarlett is down to her knees, classic wounded bird, clutching her side as another takes aim through the windows at her. Whatever the crack of the pistol, she jerks away and leaves a clod of earth flying where she was, rolling back up to her knees. Hey, whatever keeps them occupied…

Chivalry and habit say defend her. Cold calculation reminds him that she's the toughest thing here. Let her lure some away, as he opens up on the ring trying to attack Volya. Not an AK, but some relative - Soviet make, from one of the last of his caches in New York.

The child, though, has him pausing, looking to see where it came from.

|ROLL| Bucky +rolls 1d20 for: 11

Volya doesn't scream. He scarcely curses. The two circling him are crows to an eagle, plenty of capable of doing harm but awaiting an opening to strike with those weird appendages blown out of their backs and torn through their dark uniforms. He doesn't make it easy; the first flexing shot ends up strafing the diving thug, sending black blossoms spurting through his arm. The segmented appendages wave wildly in a paroxysm of pain.

Clear shot, though, in that brief window. Point to the victor on high, if he chooses to act, because the other is closing with the pointed ends of unfolding arms moving to spear.

The child fleeing through the woods is hard to track, dodging back and forth, turning on sudden pivots to dash in another direction. Given the traps they've encountered, Bucky might understand this. So too does his shadowy effigy closing in, swinging a branch in the way forward to cause the little one to stumble. Young, maybe ten, blonde haired…

There's the bark of a single shot, rather than the stutter of a burst or fully automatic. The more of his wolves are free to help, the better.

The child, however, keeps drawing his interest. What is happening there? «Don't hurt the children,» he yells, as if there might be any to hear or heed. The kid might be decoying one of the others on to a mine.


Poor man. He never really did see that bullet coming, taking him straight between ribs and knocking him over in a flurry of bright pain. The appendages strike the dirt and claw lines that force Volya to dance, avoiding the serpent-fang strikes, and he brings up the AK-47 for a free shot on his opponent. Bullets scatter across the field, cutting what they will, nicking pots and damaging an ugly concrete planter.

The child doesn't scream. Neither are there protesting voices or concordance from anyone but the redhead scrambling over the grass at a run when the tangling veins fully mummify Evgeniy. Too quick for them to halt there, and the fragments of red-hot pain strike ruby bright at the back of Bucky's skull.

The visible wolves falter, but only for a moment. The ground shakes again, and a tree starts to lean precariously, shaken out to knock someone. Something. Maybe Bucky himself, at the expense of the dacha.

That's not….he's hurt. No, he's not. A touch to the back of his head confirms no wound buried beneath that ponytail. «We have to get to Volga.» It's a thought and speech, at once. He's moving swiftly to get out of the way of that tree, knife sheathed, rifle slung, as he skitters his way back down towards the ground.

No wound to the back of the head, no slithering bands of foliage wrapping around his limbs. As uncomfortable as the phantom sensations have to be, they are separate from Bucky's existence. His limbs may twitch, his lower back aches, and a bloody throbbing in the back of his skull persists in trying to break through the cold-eyed programming in place. Still.

The tree crashes down, ripping into the side of the dacha. Its brick facade holds up, the plaster not nearly so well. A cry from the ground is distinctly feminine, too full-bodied to belong to a squalling child. Not that the fleeing lamb in the woods gets free, a failed attempt by the blond youth to duck past a tree so wrong when Orel gets his hands on them. «Go back to your bed,» he chatters out through the bruising grip, the terror implicit in the kid only matched by the flailing limbs, the obvious attempts to kick where it hurts and cause lasting damage.

Ugliness all around diminishes not one bit when Matvei wades out of the woods behind Nikita, the pair of them dirty, bloodied, and possibly hit by ash. The last man standing, Volya, wheels around looking for the next target. Sniper in the window? He can send a warning shot that way, but they scatter towards the covered tomb of their greater breather. Where be Volga?

Not known. Bad child? Flung towards the door to hurry the rabbit inside.

Nikita, Volya, Matvei, Evgeniy. Orel, Adam, Kyr, and Lazar, still missing. «He's got to be down below.» Again, that sense of double echo - the throat and lungs making noise, but the reverberation at the back of the skull, too. «I think Steve's down there.» Evgeniy has to be freed, and he's heading that way, knife in hand again.

Orel is accounted for, the one who flung that child for the doors. The scrambling boy, blond-haired and wide-eyed, lands hard and scrabbles away as though seeking some relief from the implicit danger he's found himself in. Dappled blackened marks discolour his feet among the dirt and smeared, sticky sap.

Scarlett near to dives over the ground, not giving Bucky any opportunity to stay on the ground. "Incoming!" is all she has time to say, the gig of her flight already up. No one just bounds over buildings in a single leap. Intent isn't telegraphed so much as caught in motion, running to catch Bucky as another of those sinkholes opens in the ground and belches out a caustic cloud of choking carbon dioxide and worse.

Bucky leaps into her arms with enthusiasm. "They're trying to choke Genya to death with those plants," he tells her, urgently. "The earth took Steve, but I bet he's down in the tunnels now." He'd know if Steve died, even if Steve isn't linked in to the pack mind, surely.

"Can we simply burn this place down?" This from the non-violent young woman might be suggestive of stress, or the overriding darkness still humming through her veins. She rolls them away from the spreading cloud without any general sense of where to go beyond 'that green lump' smoothing out where the near mirror image of Bucky — except not nearly so well kitted out in the arm department — rips at the grasses and ends up flung back by tree boughs slapping at them. Can one suffocate in grass? Yes. Asthmatic gasps will do that.

Fire on the mind, ice in the heart, she puts her beau down and yelps when the soil rumbles, a spike of stone thrust upwards and knocking her off her feet.

"He's down there, the bastard," No blood on him, not yet, but his face is a mask of cold anger- the resemblance between him and Volya and Lazar has never been stronger. Buck's voice is a hiss. "And I would, but there are children. Volga we can destroy, but I want whatever iteration of Zola is there taken alive. "Let me help Evgeniy," They've got to cut away those plants.

|ROLL| Bucky +rolls 1d20 for: 20

"Go." So far the sporadic shooting is that, shooting. With the master whipping up the very earth against them, what are the children of the Soviet Union to do? They bide their time, secure in their shelters, and watch marionette strings cut. Tumbling over or falling to their knees, the soldiers are not immune to gravity. Genya's struggles are lost under that neat, tight woven burrow, the furtive gasps for breath and the stabbing thorns winding through broken skin setting off pain sparks.

Scarlett has no compunctions against slamming her shoulder directly into the stone spike. Normally this would be an inadvisable option, but she breaks the spire off at calf height and spins around with a new alternative for a spear. What to do with it? Makes a halfway decent plow with it comes to tearing away bushes and all sorts of forced vegetation. The gardener in her weeps.

Buck has that absurd expertise with a blade literally at his fingertips. He scythes away the growth afflicting Genya in a few furious motions. How 'bout a little fire, Scarecrow? That trick with the spear of stone gets an appreciative grin.

|ROLL| Rogue +rolls 1d20 for: 16

No fire presently, though who knows. Maybe they have a pyromaniac somewhere out there. Until then, the house has remained fairly quiet, and Genya is left gasping when the knife slices into the constricting cords of fibrous material crushing his ribcage. His instinctive response is lashing out; scraping aside leaves, clawing his way out as the ground under him is falling inward to the warren of various corridors and Zola's computer bank, the classrooms, and the deep pool.

Matvei and Nikita have only their joint efforts to yank him under the armpits, hauling him back kicking and flailing. Heroic, isn't it?

Scarlett wields her fearful little obelisk tip, a flame-haired Isis or Nephthys. That, of course, makes Bucky Osiris kindly; Set if not. The broken plants are already reconvening, serpents licking at legs and arms without concern.

They're going to have to head under the earth, sooner or later, much as it grates against his instincts. There Volga will have the advantage….but then, there are vulnerable points to be found. "We've got to get down to him," he says. "Or he'll pull us down. Building stairways, or dive in here?" Her opinion is sought. And….Osiris makes sense. He's been brought back from the dead more than once, as it is.

Osiris to her life-bringer, though Isis is the soul-gatherer; Scarlett, the soul-stealer. Balancing factors. Another of those ragged ripples forms and the choice may not be theirs as the ground liquifies, quicksand made out of the shifting particles responding like broken ice on the surface of a pond. No telling what lies underneath except the cold inundation to create a slurry undoubtedly originates from the drowned forest to the west. Here runs the river Volga, after all, and her many daughter tributaries.

She likes those boots. She does not appreciate having cold feet about anything, so the snow-streaked bohemienne gives a vengeful kick to the ground. "Place could be overrun. We keep getting separated, this won't go well. I do not like floors in the way…" But she can bash through floors. Bedrock, not so much.

"We've got to stick together," he agrees. And then bellows, «Form up on me!» at the others. The strength of the wolf is the pack, after all. «Might wanna go in through the building - wanna bet he'll try and bring it down on us?» There's structure there, at least. And the kids to use as hostages, perhaps.

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