Captain America #2

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Captain America #2

Post  Paul E. Schultz on Tue Sep 04, 2012 4:48 pm

Captain America #2
"Lone Gunman Theory, Part 2"
By Paul E. Schultz


The faint gust of air brushed across his face, stirring him awake. Too groggy to move, his eyes too heavy to open, he could only listen to the voices around him as he struggled for consciousness.

"All of you, listen!" said a tiny feminine voice above him as the wisps of air continued to lightly brush his skin, tickling his nose. "He isn't dead! He's breathing! His eyes...They're flickering!"

He opened his eyes to the sight of the insect-sized woman on fluttering wings hovering just inches from his face. He was lying on some sort of examination table in what could only be one of Baron Zemo's torture chambers. Beyond the tiny wasp-like woman was a handful of strangely-clad men. In the space of a heartbeat he thought, judging from their costumes, that they were his fellow Invaders or perhaps the Liberty Legion, but his vision quickly cleared and he saw it was not so. He barely had time to take in the surreal image before a flood of memories and adrenaline swept over him.

"Bucky!" Like a red, white and blue cannonball, Captain America dove from the examination table and into the crowd of colorfully-clad figures. "Bucky! Look out!"

A boot heel to the chin brought the over-sized man in the red bodysuit to the floor. A grip like iron caught Captain America's right arm as he brought it around to deliver a hay-maker to the gigantic man. Shifting his weight, Captain America spotted the man with the long blond hair holding firmly to his wrist. The man's winged helmet and red cape seemed familiar somehow, but the fog in his mind would not allow him to still think too clearly.

"You can't kill him!" shouted Captain America using a sweeping kick to knock the blond man's feet out from under him. "You can't kill Bucky! I won't let you! I'll smash you all!"

The caped figure hit the floor with a confused gasp, losing his grip upon Captain America.

"Thor! Iron Man! Stop him!" gasped the tiny flying woman. "He's gone mad!"

The small voice hit him full force and Captain America froze where he stood, a flood of memories washing over him. His knees seemed to buckle under him and he collapsed to the floor of the examination room. "It's useless!" he gasped, hanging his head. "I remember now! He is dead! He is! And nothing on earth can change that!"

Thor, Iron Man and Giant Man cautiously approached the now stunned Captain America.

"Where am I?" Captain America looked over his shoulder to the approaching Iron Man. "How did I get here? Who are you?"

"That's what were about to ask you," said Iron Man.

***

Priscilla Lyons stepped from the shower, quickly wrapping her wet, shapely body in an over-sized bath towel. As she finished wrapping up her strawberry blond hair, she wiped away the steam from the mirror with the sweep of her hand. Her blue eyes stared back at her. They were the eyes of a young woman who had seen more than she should have from the very moment, while hitchhiking through Kentucky, she climbed on the back of Jack Monroe's motorcycle.

At the sound of the cell phone chirping in the adjoining bedroom, Priscilla quickly left the bathroom, passing the bed where her Navy blue bodysuit lay and plucked the phone from off of the motel room's TV.

"Yeah?" she said. "It's like you figured. It's one of Stark's Tinker Toys, not Rogers...Still not sure where the real body is. Stark's not talking. I used every...trick I could think of. The guy's like Fort Knox."

As she talked, she glanced over a the uniform. "What?" she asked. "But I thought you wanted me to...okay. Calm down. I don't know how an android body's going to help us find Rogers, but okay. You're the boss."

Priscilla snapped the cell phone shut and put it to her lips thoughtfully. This whole job was just getting too weird.

***

The evening air stirred his hair as he stood upon the rooftop of the hospital alone with his thoughts. The sun had went down an hour earlier, setting slowly. Tomorrow would be a new day. Tomorrow, he told himself, the world would rejoice at the return of Captain America, the first Avenger. All Rogers had to do was open his eyes!

"At least he's still alive," said Winter Soldier solemnly. "Dr. Erskine's formula is seeing to that. No assassin's bullet can take down someone like Cap. Not even a super assassin like the Spymaster. Strip him of all his fancy toys and the guy was just a hired gun. Not like..."

Not like who, Barnes? he asked himself. You?

The evening's breeze seemed to carry with it the ghosts of Barnes's past. After Zemo's drone plane had exploded and the world at large had thought both Captain America and Bucky were dead, General Vasily Karpov and the crew of a Russian patrol submarine found the young sidekick's cold-preserved body. But where Captain America's serum-enhanced body had survived the rigors of deep freeze, Bucky had not been so lucky. Revived in Moscow, Bucky suffered brain damage, amnesia and the loss of his arm. Russian scientists attached the first of many bionic arms. Programmed to be a Soviet assassin and given the code name Winter Soldier by Department X, he was sent on covert assassination missions, becoming increasingly ruthless and efficient with each killing. Kept in a cryogenic stasis between missions, he had aged little over the years. The Red Skull, Jack Monroe and hundreds of innocent lives during a terrorist attack in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania made up a history dripping with blood. Blood he, in spite of Captain America's pleading, would never be able to forgive himself for. "Remember who you are!" Captain America had pleaded as the two former partners struggled with the Cosmic Cube. Regaining his memories, Barnes became overwhelmed by guilt over his past actions, crushing the Cosmic Cube. For a second time, Captain America had witnessed his partner's death as the shattered Cosmic Cube consumed him. But now he was back once again, for reasons he himself could not even comprehend, given a second chance. By all accounts, he was a new man. But the old memories were still haunting him.

"So much blood," he muttered. "Too much."

***

She held her breath and stepped through the wall. A shiver ran through her body as it always did as she materialized on the other side. No matter how many times she did it, she never got used to it. She glanced around the quiet, darkened hospital room, satisfied no one had heard her emerge from the utility closet on the other side of the wall. Her blue eyes settled upon the slumbering, golden-haired figure lying upon the bed. Slowly, quietly, she crept up to it.

All this fuss, she told herself, to steal an android.

She placed a gloved hand upon the android's wrist, her fingers picking up a faint, calm pulse. Stark had claimed he had taken every precaution to make sure the decoy Steve Rogers would have fooled his own mother. That was the point. While the real Rogers lay somewhere else, this one would draw the attention of both the media and any costumed super-goon with a grudge. Possibly even Rogers's failed assassin.

The TV was full of stories about some guy calling himself the Spymaster being Rogers's shooter, how Spymaster's own body was found dead in a rundown apartment house just the other day. Speculations were running wild. There were reports that Spymaster had committed suicide. Others speculated he too was assassinated. Some said Spymaster had been battling cancer and had decided to make killing Captain America his final hit. His parting shot.

She looked down upon the handsome face, eyes closed, nostrils moving only slightly with each carefully programmed breath.

Glancing at the door, she gave in to something deep inside her and leaned forward. Her lips brushed his. She immediately reared back.

"Android my Aunt Francis!" she gasped.

Suddenly, from somewhere off in the distance, the muted sounds of gunshots rang out. She barely had time to react before a steel-like grip took hold of her wrist. She glanced down, eyes full of terror, at the fist gripping her tightly. She caught sight of the blue eyes burning at her from the bed.

"Bucky," Steve Rogers snarled.

***

From behind, he heard the muted shuffle of feet. With one fluid motion, he spun on his heel, his automatic pistol clearing leather, it's laser sight seeking its target. The tiny crimson dot settled on the chest of a figure emerging from the shadows of the doorway that lead to the hospital's elevator.

"Who's there?" demanded the Winter Soldier.

He lowered his pistol at the familiar face.

"Oh!" he said, face lighting up at the familiar, amiable blue-eyed, blond-haired features looking back at him. "It's you! You're awake! You-re--"

From the folds of his hospital gown, Steve Rogers produced a wicked-looking pistol and fired. With wide, disbelieving eyes, Winter Soldier saw the flashes from the pistol a split second before he felt the impacts to his chest. The sledgehammer-like blows blossomed bloody flowers across his chest, forcing him backwards and over the edge of the roof.

Rogers stepped on bare feet from the shadows as the rise of terrified voices below drifted up like startled birds. He glanced over the edge to see the form lying on the sidewalk thirteen stories below. Like ants to a discarded piece of sugary candy, people rushed upon Barnes's fallen, twisted body.

"Justice," Rogers muttered, turning away from the ledge, "is served."
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Paul E. Schultz

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That...

Post  Nik Havert on Wed Sep 05, 2012 10:40 am

That is how you write a cliffhanger. Nice work.

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Re: Captain America #2

Post  Paul E. Schultz on Wed Sep 05, 2012 12:11 pm

Thanks, Nik. I try.
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Re: Captain America #2

Post  Mechajared on Thu Sep 06, 2012 4:15 am

I'm blown away Paul (no pun intended), I've very rarely read Captain America and this is making me want to pick up the title.

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Re: Captain America #2

Post  Paul E. Schultz on Thu Sep 06, 2012 10:30 am

Thanks! I'm just trying to follow in the footsteps of Stern, Waid & Jergens.
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Re: Captain America #2

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