Written for raeve, who wanted something set in Alaska, 1994.
characters: Winter Soldier, OCs
warnings: graphic violence, drowning, broken bones, assasination, Mortal Kombat, 1990s, second person POV
Johnny Corbeau is a man of habit. Your mission briefing contained detailed observations about his behavior pattern over the last few weeks, since he was first spotted here in Juneau. Every day, he visits El Sombrero for lunch, the Twisted Fish for dinner, and the Red Dog Saloon afterwards, stopping briefly at the cigarette vending machine outside of the arcade along the way.
You wait for him at the arcade, because it has the best tactical advantage: exits on both sides, a narrow passage between it and its neighboring building in the strip mall, and a convenient level of background noise. The back of the building is only a few meters away from a small inlet of ocean.
There are two dozen ravens sitting on the roof of the arcade. They're statue-still for the most part, except for one in the front who is cleaning his wings with his beak. Hours earlier, when you followed your target to his dinner spot and set up watch at a trinket shop across the street, the shopkeeper told the tourists there a story about how the raven's feathers had been white before they were charred by the fires of creation.
The raven stops cleaning himself and cocks his head, one black eye staring at you as you climb the steps to the arcade.
A large video game machine—a twin unit—is set up just across from the exit closest to the cigarette machine. To its right is a seven-foot tall carved bear, standing on its hind legs. The arcade unit is surrounded by a small cluster of teenagers, five boys, two girls; two of them play the game, the others watch.
You move towards them, pace slow. It's only seven thirty. 'Johnny,' doesn't usually come by until quarter of eight.
'Johnny Corbeau,' is the pseudonym he's been using here, but he has others, and you know them all. Your handlers made sure you knew all the specifics of his file before they cleared you as mission-ready. They don't usually give you this level of detailed knowledge, a photograph is sufficient, but this time it's relevant, because your target isn't human, he just looks like one. You're to kill him, and he's very hard to kill. But so are you.
The arcade game is noisy. On the screen, the animated characters are fighting each other, moves controlled by the two teenagers manning the joysticks. Their faces are tight with concentration as they mash the game's buttons in what appears to be random combinations. The character in blue and black puts his hands together and a burst of ice shoots out at his opponent, a man with a shock of blond hair.
"Finish him," the game unit says. Some of the others gathered around whoop.
"Do it, Marco!" one of the boys shouts.
Marco pushes a button combination and the character in blue leaps forward, grabs his opponent by the throat and pulls his head off, spinal cord dangling.
Interesting technique, though human anatomy wouldn't allow for such a clean extraction.
You walk past the group, eyes on the cigarette dispenser outside and make your way to the soda machine.
There are two women playing a game of air hockey near the rear exit door. One laughs triumphantly, the other curses as the small white disc hits its mark, disappearing into the slot at the far side of the table.
They parry back and forth as you pull three quarters from your pocket and select a soda. You have no need for soda, but judging by the other patrons, it's a standard activity here that will help you blend in, and likely the reason Hydra gave you a handful of quarters. The can drops to the opening at the bottom and you crouch down to pick it up. As you do, a small white disc flies towards your face. You catch it with your gloved left hand, feel the thin plastic crack under your grip.
You stand and turn towards the the air hockey table. One of the women has her hands up by her mouth and the other's skin has gone deathly pale. You walk to the table and set the warped disc down on the edge. "It broke."
"Holy shit," says the pale one.
The other slowly lowers her hands, swallows and says. "I almost hit your face."
The cigarette dispenser makes a cha-chunk noise, and you catch a glimpse of a green military jacket from just outside the door. You excuse yourself.
Johnny is heading down the strip-mall's walkway. You catch up to him before he gets to the end and watch him disappear between two of the buildings. You follow him to the back, where he opens the pack of Marlboros he bought, lights a cigarette and walks to the edge of the water.
Behind you, the ravens caw, in varying pitches and speeds. They sound like children arguing. Your steps are silent on the snow-dusted ground, but the very edge of the seabank is covered in a layer of ice. You stop and wait for him to take another drag from his cigarette, then step up behind him, ice cracking under your boot. His shoulders tense, but before he can turn around, you wrap your left arm around his throat and squeeze. He struggles, and you know immediately that the file was right—he's stronger than an average man his size. You can't remember much from your prior missions, but you know exactly how much force it takes to kill a man, and this one isn't going to die that easily.
His muscle tissue's denser, his bones are stronger. He struggles in your grip and then you hear something snap—think maybe he's broken after all, but no, it's a defense mechanism. His shoulder dislocates, his arm bends impossibly back and grabs at your hair and you see his knees pop out of socket as his legs twist the other way.
Before he can finish reconfiguring his body you let go of him and shove him hard. He staggers and stumbles, half-complete legs tripping over themselves, and falls into the icy water.
There's shouts of excitement from the crowd of teens inside the arcade, followed by the video game booming, "Finish him."
You leap forwards into the shallow water, grab Johnny by the back of the throat and shove his head down.
His legs kick out at you as he tries to break free, thrashing violently, so you press your knee between his shoulder blades, pin him underneath you, push him further down into the shallow water using your body weight. There's a crackling noise and another; two sharp points spear your sides, arcs of bone jutting out of Johnny's torso and into yours—his rib-bones, elongated and sharpened to points—trying to force their way through your Kevlar and leather armor
You keep your right hand on Johnny's head, and wrap your metal fingers around the rib piercing your left side. It takes an enormous amount of pressure, but finally the bone snaps. Johnny's back arches and he screams soundlessly into the sea, sending large air bubbles rushing to the surface. The freezing water soaks into the fabric of your pants, fills your waterproof boots.
The ravens are chattering again, one of them laughing sharply and you wonder where they got their sense of humor. The crowd of teens in the arcade cheers loudly as the video game voice says. "Fatality."
Johnny convulses underneath you and then stills. The water rings spread out and fade and a few sparse bubbles drift up to the surface before stopping completely. Your flesh hand is getting numb from the ice water. Something about the sensation makes you recoil and you yank your fingers back, staring at them to check for signs of damage. There's none. You're not easily damaged.
Hydra's orders were explicit: "Kill Johnny, bring his corpse to the designated coordinates and wait for extraction. No witnesses, no traces left behind."
The snowy ground shows a faint impression of your boot-prints, and the ice has hairline cracks from your struggle, but they're hardly noticeable, especially with the newly fallen snow gathering. You glance over your shoulder to be sure, but there are no witnesses. None but the ravens. One of them cocks its head and caws loudly, then spreads his wings. The other two dozen follow.
As their wings beat noisily across the sky, you pick up Johnny's limp form and carry him into the bushes near the side of the lake. He's hidden from view, but there's still a part of him in the water, and your orders were very clear—no part of him is to be left behind.
It only takes a few minutes of wading through the ice water to find the bone shard. Your bootprints and Johnny's are almost gone, and you smudge the edges of the few tracks that remain.
"Hey!" says a woman's voice.
You turn and find the air hockey player waving at you from the back of the arcade. Carefully, you slide the bone shard into your jacket lining.
"You—you forgot your soda," she says more quietly.
No witnesses. You wave back and shape your mouth into a smile.