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And then S.H.I.E.L.D. fell.

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 Testing one's mettle, Pietro
James "Bucky" Barnes
 Posted: Dec 30 2016, 02:13 PM
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Even if Pietro wasn't quite being a danger, he was certainly being an annoyance. His tactics weren't hurting him seriously but the Soldier was in fact starting to wear down as Pietro had hoped. If it hadn't been for the condition of his metal arm, things would have been different, but the mistake had cost him. That hadn't been the only mistake, either, and it had been a stroke of luck that he hadn't lost his weapon yet.

Pietro's cockiness was far from unfounded. The Soldier was, well, a soldier. He knew the best ways to destroy a normal opponent, and while he had to tweak things quite a bit, he wasn't helpless. Just a bit outmatched. And since the other man was clearly believing the flickers of emotion on his face, he didn't try as hard to hide them as he usually would. He wasn't emotive by any means, but he tried to give the other man what he wanted to see. In any case, his opponent was getting cocky and the Soldier was biding his time.

Still, his disorientation was hardly faked. Usually he was the one several times faster than whoever he was fighting, though he had never had any power disparity like this one as far as speed went. For strength, it had been quite common, but he was no sprinter. More of a hard-to-wreck tank. And considering Pietro was the first non-human he'd fought, he wasn't doing horribly bad. It would have helped if he'd known ahead of time, but nobody bothered to tell him anything. No use informing a freezer-burned weapon.

He didn't say a word despite the increasingly common remarks. It would have only been a waste of breath, and he hadn't been programmed to reply to the other man anyway. While he kept a tight grip on his weapon, he left himself open to a couple hits that he probably shouldn't have, letting himself appear slower and less coordinated. Clearly his efforts were paying off, though he wouldn't have blamed anyone for thinking he was steadily on his way to losing. Had appearances been strictly correct, that would have been perfectly true.

When Pietro darted in again, he almost got knocked over, and he ended up halfway on the ground anyway since he lost his footing making a clumsy attempt at escape. He'd played himself that time, but he'd managed to roll sideways and get back on his feet before he got himself killed or something. The next time he was attacked, he went right for the opening Pietro had left him, striking as hard as he could with his metal hand but not holding back with his knife either. If this attack failed, he likely wouldn't get another chance, but he was counting heavily on the element of surprise to possibly keep his punishment from getting any heavier than it already was.


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Pietro Maximoff
 Posted: Dec 30 2016, 02:50 PM
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Pietro's glee at seemingly winning the bout was barely hidden in his cat-like grin as he darted backwards and forth, taunting and almost playing with his opponent, overly confident in his ability to win now the Soldier was slowing. He all but crowed as he managed to knock him almost to the ground, though didn't press his advantage, sure he'd finish him off entirely in the next attack. He'd regret that cockiness.

As he rounded back for another attack, his arrogance found himself in deep trouble as the Soldier's masquerade vanished. He tried to twist out of it, but in vain - he was knocked backwards despite his efforts; as he fell, the twist, originally intending to free him, trapped his broken arm under him. The pain thundered back through his system as his whole body collapsed on it, and he cried out, lithe form convulsing in a paroxysm, his whole arm burning with fire.

He finally rolled to the side, releasing the broken, battered limb, and lay panting on the ground, waiting for his vision to focus again, for the stars and the darkness that came with the pain to vanish. His chest heaved for the breaths that the strain on the break had stolen, adrenaline and confidence fading from his body to leave him cold and fearful. When his vision finally cleared (it felt like an age but was probably only seconds, a minute at most), he tried to scramble backwards to put some distance between him and his opponent, but found he could no longer put pressure on his arm, and it gave beneath him, resulting in another muffled cry of pain from the young speedster, his fear and vulnerability showing his age, naïvety, and inexperience, not the appearance he had been putting on since the start.

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James "Bucky" Barnes
 Posted: Dec 30 2016, 03:19 PM
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The Soldier could tell by the look on the other man's face that he'd fallen for the ruse. No wonder. But if he couldn't pull this off, he'd be in just as much trouble. He could tell his handlers were already sure he'd lose and planning out his punishment, one of them already turning away from the ring. Well, he'd certainly be in for a surprise... assuming Bucky didn't earn everything they expected to have to do to him. He was definitely taking a risk.

But it paid off, and if the Soldier had been a man there would have been a sigh of relief. Or a sharp exhalation of relief, which was about the same thing considering how little emotion he showed. Luckily, Pietro managed to land on his hurt arm, which did more to help the Soldier than almost anything else would have. His gaze flickered up to his handlers and he noted with a brief but deep feeling of satisfaction that all of them were paying close attention to the two of them now. Maybe he'd do well enough that he wouldn't have to fight the other twin. It would go even worse than the current fight, considering the injury to both the biological and mechanical aspects of his body.

He retreated a half-step as Pietro flailed around on the ground, not wishing to let the other man land another hit. Besides, it was clear that the other man would not be getting up too soon, and even if he managed to get away from him, the Soldier was confident in his ability to intimidate and hit him again. After all, his ability to fake him out the first time was what had gotten the other man in his current position. A position that was evidently quite painful, and while the Soldier took no happiness from the pain itself, he was more than satisfied with the result of it.

For a moment he hesitated at the look on Pietro's face and looked like he'd retreat from the fight to give him the chance to escape. The unexpected flood of fear and emotion in the other man's expression blindsided him and his programming briefly faltered. One of his handlers yelled at him, the harsh threat in his voice unmistakable even to someone who didn't know the Russian language. But the vague promise of torture even before the Chair and maintenance was more than enough to spur him into action. The Soldier shook himself slightly, almost imperceptible, and advanced on Pietro. If he twisted the speedster's broken arm behind his back, he'd bet that the pain would be a more effective pin than the physical hold itself. And it'd probably win him the fight, since he doubted the other man would try to speed off with a knife to his throat.


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Pietro Maximoff
 Posted: Dec 30 2016, 05:58 PM
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Pietro struggled backwards, the break to his arm now pushing the serious mark; he daren't try to reset it himself again in case he set it wrong and it healed like that. He couldn't use his speed like this, half sprawled on the ground with the Soldier advancing steadily. He wormed his way back, but he was nearing the edge of the circle, and he could tell he'd get a boot to the back or to the head if he backed off too far, and he didn't really want that, so he had to stop.

He glanced fearfully up at the Soldier, knowing there was slim to no chance of escape. He wasn't actually going to kill him, was he? Wanda would kill them if they did... But still, the fear was there, and if he wasnt careful, it was going to overwhelm and render him completely immobile.

With a last surge of effort, Pietro swayed to his feet, clenching his jaw as he clutched his broken arm to his chest, the bone pressing savagely against his skin, making his eyes begin to water. He made a last stitch attempt to duck around the Soldier, but he knew as he set off that he wouldn't make it.

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James "Bucky" Barnes
 Posted: Dec 30 2016, 06:50 PM
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The wounded prey-like movement helped reinforce the Soldier's forward movement. After all, at the heart of things, he was a predator, and he knew how to do his job. He hung back just enough to see what Pietro would do when he got to the edge of the circle, curious in a way but also cataloging his fighting style in case they were forced to do it again. Chances were he'd be wiped before that happened but he might as well put the effort in.

Despite Pietro's continued fear, the Soldier clearly wasn't going to consider mercy again. He started advancing when the other man stopped, more than willing to finish the fight at the edge rather than the center of the makeshift arena. It wouldn't be long before he got marched off to wherever he was due next, and he didn't want to cause any problems by seeming like he was delaying things. There was no compassion in Hydra's brand of 'mercy'.

He collared the mutant easily when the other man tried to dart past him. Stupid kid should have tried harder before he got grounded and cornered. The Soldier had very little professional pride, as such things were not required of a slave, but even he would admit that he did a good, fluid job of stopping Pietro and putting him back on the ground. Even though his metal arm was making a progressively louder noise every time it moved, he was able to make a grab for Pietro's arm, intending to pull it behind his back and keep him still by putting pressure on it.

"Ne dvigaysya. YA ne khochu prichinyat' tebe bol'." He probably didn't need to tell him to stay still, and it was a bit late to say he didn't want to hurt him, but the Soldier wasn't a cruel man. Only his owners were. If he could spare Pietro without the risk of putting himself in harm's way or his masters' sights, he would. And if he was lucky, nobody would have heard, or assumed he was threatening him or something equally Soldier-y.


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Pietro Maximoff
 Posted: Dec 30 2016, 07:33 PM
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Pietro struggled bravely all the while the Soldier held him, but fell limp the second a cold hand grasped his broken arm, wrenching it behind his back and using it to keep him still. He fought against tears, fought not to let them spill down his cheeks like they so wanted as he cried out in pain, spitting back at him as he was pinned.
"Tak chto moya ruka byla slomana sluchayno? Ty lzhesh', Soldat. Otpusti menya!"

He writhed in the Soldier's grip, biting down hard on his lip to try to muffle the cries of agony as he tried to squirm out of the hold, wrenching and tearing at his arm. There was no preventing the tears streaming down his cheeks and into the dirt now, though they were joined by the blood from his lip, so it was not as bad. He stilled for a moment, and whispered, "Pozhaluysta," so quiet that only his opponent could hear him, and the terror and pain in his voice.

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James "Bucky" Barnes
 Posted: Dec 30 2016, 10:42 PM
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Even if Pietro's movements were futile, the deeply buried and traumatised human part of the Soldier appreciated the fact that the other man was still fighting. It surprised him that someone with such powers would allow themselves to be kept by Hydra, though he never would have said the same for himself. Others were free to go, but Hydra owned him; it was somewhat illogical but what he'd been programmed to believe.

His grip tightened minutely at Pietro's yell, though he loosened it quickly. He wouldn't deny that the other man had quite a good point in asking if his arm had been broken accidentally, but, well, the Soldier hadn't set out to break bones from the start. Not that that was any consolation to either of them. Pietro was hurt and his opponent would be punished for damaging him. It was the way things had gone, unfortunately.

"Vy znayete, ya ne mogu," he replied when Pietro insisted he be let go. "Ostanovite vy ushiblis'." At least he wasn't boringly consistent with his behaviour. He didn't let go despite the mutant's wriggling or begging, waiting instead for his owners' approval. They were discussing the spar, quite happy to let Pietro lay there on the ground in pain until they'd finished their discussion. The Soldier was used to being forgotten in such ways and was simply happy that nobody was paying enough attention to him that he'd be punished.

When Pietro pleaded with him, he hesitated only a second before releasing him and standing back. "Prosti," he replied just as quietly. He definitely looked guilty, even if it was a faint expression. For what it was worth (not that Pietro would know) he hadn't meant to harm him as badly as he had. But they'd been at the whim of their masters, and the Soldier certainly hadn't had any choice. He knew nothing of Pietro's position but assumed he was another hired gun who would have had the option of refusing to fight him.

"Eto byli ne vashi zakazy, Soldat!" one of his handlers snapped. Rather than answering, the supersoldier simply stood where he was, head tilted downward in deference to his masters' authority. One of the higher-ranking soldiers broke through the circle, holding his hand out for the knife the Soldier was still holding. He yanked it away harshly, and since the weapon had been presented with its hilt to the handler, the sharpened blade left a bloody slash on the Soldier's hand. "Vy budete nakazany za neposlushaniye."


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Pietro Maximoff
 Posted: Dec 31 2016, 03:58 AM
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Pietro definitely hadn't expected his plea to work, had expected the Soldier to sit there, keeping him in pain and enjoying it, until Strucker ordered him off. He remained where he was for a few moments, then struggled back onto his feet, doing a bad job of wiping his face free of tears and dirt and blood, and gently clutching his arm to him. He was surprised to see the level of obedience the men had over his opponent, and he had wrongly assumed how free the Soldier was.

"Vy yavlyayetes' rabom tak zhe, kak i ya," he realised, staring at the submissive stature of his previously dominating opponent. He glanced around, recognising the surrounding men as handlers now, which made the circle seem even more intimidating. For whatever reason, he himself nor his sister had a proper, full-time handler, it just seemed to be whoever was sadistic and free for that day, and though the scientists stayed relatively the same, it was no comfort, really. Strucker was the only constant constant, and Pietro glanced up at him briefly. Perhaps he could waive the Soldier's punishment? After all, it was Pietro's fault he gave mercy, and that his arm was broken in the first place, really.

He turned his attention back to the Soldier. "Blagodarim Vas za milost'," he mumbled, and paused for a moment before taking a chance, turning and padding over to Strucker, cradling his arm.
"Ser," he started, then paused for permission to speak before continuing. "Ser, eto ne yavlyayetsya vinoy Soldata, eto byl moy sobstvennyy. YA ne dumayu, chto on dolzhen byt' nakazan." He knew it was a bold move, but he didn't think the Soldier should be punished, and his sense of justice always won out, and it had been the same since childhood. "Eto byla ne yego vina," he reiterated, then stilled, keeping his head down as the Soldier did as he waited for Strucker's reply.

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James "Bucky" Barnes
 Posted: Dec 31 2016, 09:21 AM
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A flicker of surprise crossed the Soldier's face when Pietro referred to himself as being in a similar position, a hint of regret joining it before he dropped his gaze. If he'd known... well, it wouldn't have stopped him from fighting the other man, not with his owners there, but he would have tried to go a little easier on him. Nothing his handlers would have really noticed but an attempt at kindness all the same - we're in this together, you and I, so take the kindness of a cruel man. The Soldier had gotten used to finding loopholes and technicalities in his orders to try to assuage the tattered remains of his conscience.

He dipped his head a little at the thanks, not willing to acknowledge it verbally but not going to ignore it. It would probably end up getting them both in trouble, but he wasn't really going to regret it. Pietro was just a kid, and a scared one at that. The Soldier already knew he wasn't here of his own free will, but had he come here as a captive as well? Maybe they had more in common than he'd thought. Not that that would help either of them. Wherever Pietro was bound to end up now that their match was over was probably as bad as the Chair was for the Soldier.

While the average soldier would have appreciated Pietro's attempt at saving him, it just made him nervous. Strucker was an angry man who had no love for sparing others. His men were no better, and the Soldier was generally uncomfortable being surrounded by them even when someone wasn't antagonising him. If he'd had the authority, he would have told Pietro to shut up, but even fellow prisoners held a higher rank than he did.

"Bylo li eto yego vina ili net, Soldat ne stal zhdat' svoikh zakazov. Vy mozhete prisoyedinit'sya k nemu v yego nakazanii, yesli vy khotite." Strucker clearly had no intention of giving either of them any kindness. The Soldier was not in the least surprised but would have rather preferred to be shocked. "On znal, chto budet posledstviya. Ona budet stolknut'sya s nimi, prezhde chem bor'ba s vashey sestroy." He shifted his attention from one man to the other "Yasno, Soldat?"

"Da, khozyain," he replied. "Aktivami sluzhit vam vo vsem." He was not at all looking forward to even seeing the other mutant, much less fighting her, but he wasn't about to imagine he had any choice in the matter. And he doubted Pietro did either. The only ones who had the right to speak up were the ones who would be happy to see them fight to the death rather than leaving it at serious injury.


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Pietro Maximoff
 Posted: Dec 31 2016, 05:36 PM
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Pietro had hoped for Strucker to be favourable, but he knew he was lucky to not have increased the punishment and ensured it for himself as well. He shook his head quickly. "Net ya ne khochu. Spasibo, khozyain," he mumbled, then backed up.

He sent an apologetic look towards the Soldier, and if he had been fighting anyone else but his sister, he would have tried to give him as much information as possible. But as it was, he was to fight Wanda as well, and his lack of knowledge would give her a great advantage, as would the damage he'd done to the Soldier's arm. He couldn't help but feel sorry for his fellow prisoner, though, despite the fight, despite the horrendously broken arm.

He hissed as he cradled his arm, glancing up as a team of medics apeared as if from nowhere to sort it out. He knew it wouldn't be easy, especially as they had treated him before for various injuries. Though he was expecting it, the none-too-gentle tackle (there was no other word for it) to the ground surprised him, and the only time he struggled as they restrained him was when they twisted the break more than necessary whilst setting it.

He was left panting on the ground as they vanished into the crowd, and would have lain there for a while longer until a boot to the head startled him upright. He couldn't afford to be in a vulnerable position any more, even when he wasn't in a fight. He tested his arm with a slow wince, and held it securely against his bare chest. It'd heal in the next day or so, but his healing didn't stop the pain. He glanced around for those assigned to escort him back to his cell, but couldn't see them. Maybe he would have to watch Wanda's fight? Or the Soldier's punishment? Both ideas filled his stomach with dread.

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James "Bucky" Barnes
 Posted: Dec 31 2016, 07:01 PM
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The Soldier had expected things to go worse than they had, and he was grateful that they'd gotten lucky. He was no scientist, but he knew an average human wouldn't be able to withstand what had been done to him over the years. And while Pietro had his mutation on his side, it was probably almost just as dangerous for him. In either case, the Soldier had no desire to either watch or have a part in whatever punishment the other man might have earned himself for speaking up. Chances were it would come as close to killing him as the Soldier's did for himself - an unpleasant experience all around.

He shifted forward instinctively when Pietro was attacked, but his own handling team was very insistent that he stay right where he was and he submitted without a single protest. They shoved him to his knees to let a tech get a look at his arm and decide whether or not he could fight on it. Even though the general answer was 'no, fix it first', he was clearly going to be forced to go one-on-one with Wanda regardless of any injuries. Since the arm was going to stay attached to his body, he was considered in fit fighting condition. Just the brief look at it had clearly been painful, but it was obvious his handlers didn't care.

In the meantime, his guards were discussing his forthcoming punishment and whether or not it would make a difference if they waited until after his second fight or not. They didn't skimp on the details, which the Soldier was not particularly appreciative of, but he'd known what was coming before they started talking. Before too long the flow of the conversation turned to the part they thought Pietro should play in things, though the Soldier wasn't sure if they were being serious or not.

"Chto ty dumayesh', Soldat?" one of them asked. "Yest' li kakiye-nibud' predlozheniya?"

"Eto zhdet prikazy svoikh khozyayev," the Soldier answered, and didn't understand why laughter rippled among their little group. One of the guards backhanded him for 'talking back', but the Soldier made no attempt at retaliation, even though he could have killed the lot of them in just a few minutes despite his injuries. Instead he kept his head down, waiting for orders so he'd be that much closer to having this day done with. He'd end up in the Chair on his way to cryofreeze, but that was an inevitability.


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Pietro Maximoff
 Posted: Jan 29 2017, 09:07 AM
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Just as Pietro was beginning to think that he would have to watch what happened to the Soldier, and maybe Wanda's fight as well, he saw his escort shoving their way through the crowd. He lowered his uninjured arm to his side, hoping they would allow him to keep his broken limb where it was, where it hurt least, but no siree. They wrenched it to his side, to mirror his other arm, replying to his yelp of pain with harsh laughs and jeers.

They fixed a chain around his ankles so he could barely walk, let alone run with the restraints on, and cuffed his wrists together behind his back, making sure to twist his arm into the most painful position possible. They shoved him forwards, laughing when he stumbled, and prodded him with some electric wand that hurt when he stopped moving, or was moving too slow for their liking.

Finally, when they reached his cell again, they removed the chains and bodly threw him inside, laughing at his scream as he landed on his arm on the hard concrete. He crawled over to the pitiful cot that was his bed, and curled up on it, praying to whatever G-d was out there that Wanda would come back safe and unhurt, and then, almost as an afterthought, that the Soldier would not be punished too harshly for the speedster's actions.

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