The Extraction
At the secretive behest from Porter's contact at MI6, he and Ania infiltrate a Russian interrogation building to find and extract a British agent who has been in captivity — before anyone else does.


April 9th, 2013

"Do you think he is worth it, this man?"

Under cover of night, a military vehicle rolls slowly toward the building that, by all official rights, should be abandoned. The dark vehicle is a perfect match to the image that materialized on the computer screen of one Genevieve Elwick; clearer, crisper now that no eyes are upon it.

Under the cover of the vehicle itself, however, help is on the way.

Just not — strictly — from British intelligence.

In the dark of the storage in the back of the truck, Ania's eyes are bright with potential. She's squeezed next to Porter, the diminutive interrogator turned infiltrator taking up little room, a darkly clad clutch of limbs. The vehicle shudders and grinds over an old road, then off-road, following tracks that shouldn't be there. Up ahead, only in sight of the driver, the dairy farm looms, as dull and quiet as its status as abandoned would claim.

The secretive duo is first on site, armed by Porter's old friend with a mission and a codename: the British legend they're meant to seek out and extract. Team Zero. Team Doesn't Exist.

The vehicle comes to a halt. While the engine's still creating a ruckus, Ania slinks out the back, crouching on the thawed ground. The driver, murmuring lowly on Russian on the phone, makes his way out and toward the building. It looks unguarded from the outside, at least by flesh and bone and weaponry.

Porter has come prepared for any occasion. In addition to his usual tricks and tools, he's carrying a stun gun, a silenced sidearm, and plenty of explosives. He's likewise dressed in black, though he's opted for simple fatigues with many pockets.

He slips out next to Ania as the driver dismounts the vehicle, sticking to what little cover and shadows there are between them and their destination. He's already got his taser out and ready to fire, but he doesn't seem eager to cause a ruckus. Not yet, anyway.

The black hood of Ania's slim-cut sweater falls above her intent brow as she crouches closer to the ground; not her norm; just practical. She's less laden with equipment than Porter, but weapons are nevertheless strapped to her small shape. She reaches into a cargo pocket to get a solid grip on one as she keeps eyes on the man ahead. He's trekking toward must be an entrance; it's all a bit of a blur, the whole exterior unlit, and not so much as a sign of life from inside to illuminate outward. She pulls a pair of at-the-ready nightvision goggles down. "He's taking something out of his pocket," she passes on in whisper. Second to the wind gusting across the open field. "A key?" Heightened grey eyes flick to Porter, the tactical field boss as far as she's concerned: could this be their chance?

Wait for it… Wait for it…

As soon as the door opens, Porter steps out of his hiding spot and shoots the guard in the back. Other than a quiet grunt and a brief crackling of electricity, the entire affair is silent and is over in a matter of seconds.

Porter jerks his head toward the door as he reloads his weapon with fresh darts. "Let's try to make this quick. He'll only be out for a few minutes. Grab the guard's keys and take the lead. I'll cover you as we advance. Remember, I'd like to make it out of here with a zero body count. Okay. Let's do the damn thing."

Ania's quick, hyper-alert nod serves as acknowledgment, grim as her expression; the flash of her eyes as she shoves the goggles off, her little burst of energy a crackling of electricity fit to mimic the stun gun, is far less defined. She looks like hardly more than a reckless girl running into play battle when she shoots off into the dark toward the farm. Nevertheless, she drops immediately upon reaching the fallen man, retrieves his keys — along with his sidearm — and presses next to the door. There, she waits, listening and peeking, just for a few seconds, before sneaking inside. The farm eats her up.

This is the moment: there's no going back from here.

The interrogator is a small, precise animal scurrying from one corner to the next, unraveling the maze that is spread out for them inside the dark, dank farm. Signs of life exist — voices, clipped Russian, muffled, somewhere further, lower. Commands. Laughter. Callous. Oblivious. Ania pauses at the sound of much closer footsteps; the figure turning the corner gets a stun gun to the gut. She eyes the weapon distastefully despite its success in dropping the man to the dirty ground.

Once the initial entry has been made, they sweep the compound room-by-room in a leapfrogging fashion. First Porter will bust in a door while Ania covers him, then vice versa. In a remarkably short time, they discover that there's virtually nothing of note in the aboveground facility except a stairway leading down.

"Oh, this should be good," Porter mutters. "See if any of those keys will get us in. If not…" his fingers stray to the belt of explosive charges hanging across his torso. "We'll go loud and make it quick."

Step by step, Ania's gaze hops down the stairs before she does. She blinks toward its end and traces a gloved hand down the rail. Unguarded from this side; the personnel manning the farm turned interrogation building are thinned out. Distracted, perhaps. Not by the intruders. Ania squints ever-so-sightly, hardly a mar to her large eyes. She fingers the key-ring and starts to head down, easing her feet, silent. "Do you think he is worth it, this man?" she questions, looking back at Porter from halfway down. "What is he worth, that they send us above his own people."

"If they'll reach out across governments for help, even friendly ones, he has to be worth a lot. I recognized the codename, too." Porter pauses to wipe a dab of sweat from his brow before he joins Ania, taking up a breaching position beside the door. "If this guy is who I think he is, we might have Raptor make a detour so we can all have a little chat."

"'Help'," she forms the word like a curse as she positions herself in front of the door. "Someone has done something very bad that they would send us here to get him." As certainly stated as it is, it's a dark reflection of sorts; dismissive of any further thought. She eyes the lock, eyes the key, and picks one out as its match. It sticks. Metal scrapes. She tries another, waiting as the heavy door is pulled toward Ania. It wants to groan on its aging hinges; no amount of caution can quell the grating noise … nor the heavy footsteps behind it.

Porter can't fire at this range without running the risk of hitting his partner. Not until he changes positions, anyway.

He slips out from behind cover and embraces Ania from behind, holding her still with his free arm while he trains his taser on the man in front of them and fires.

While every ounce of Porter's little partner tenses in contained revolt, every ounce of the armed man jolts against the shock of the taser and tries to fight it with steel will and muscle mass. The harsh grip of his weapon is just short of pulling the trigger; he didn't reach that far, lucky for the intruders — but he shouts out, a guttural spray of spittle, pain, and anger that echoes through the underground. His heavy arm swings through the partly open doorway mid-convulsion, pawing for Porter as he jolts toward him, a lumbering, uncontrolled giant.

Now that the stealth portion of their mission would appear to be over, Porter roars right back at the big Russian. Ania is released and shoved to the side, then Porter swings the taser wire around in a wide circle. It forms an improvised lasso that still courses with electrical current. It's a dangerous ploy, as this is a snare that will bite anyone and everyone. Not only that, he has to worry about staying out of Big Ruskie's way, too.

Ania is standing one second and down the next, half-shoved, half-curling herself into the corner beside the door, a tightly coiled spring of a person. A second growl erupts from the tasered man, his lashing arm catching the wire; it coils tight into his thick forearm like rope, sending his muscles into spasm. He trips toward Porter, taking the lasso with him.

The second the man is more down than up, Porter's partner bolts, a black-clad shot hopping over the Russian's feet and out the door to scurry past the open space of basement to duck behind a corner made of scrap equipment the way an insect flees from one shadow to another, and with almost as much speed.

There's a CLICK-CLICKing sound as Porter disconnects the wire and snaps a new set of darts on the front of his weapon. Then he's hot on Ania's heels, once again moving from room to room in search of their target. "I probably only have one or two shots left," he admits. "We need to find this guy, and fast. I'm too old to go hand-to-hand with a bunch of ex-Spetsnaz jackholes."

The roar from the giant man echoed down the corridors. Someone yells something in Russian at the end of the hallway. The intonation gives hint of a guard asking another guard if everything is alright. Then, the sound of boot covered feet are coming from somewhere a few hallways down. Though it's hard to tell, the din is not overwhelming - at most there are only three or four guards coming their way. They must not realize they are under attack or the alarms would be flashing and they would be under lockdown.

"You could shoot them," Ania quietly asides. She lacks sentiment, the comment idle, cool. "With a real weapon." She has a similar stunner in her hand, with more shots left, but it's the hilt of the knife protruding from her pocket that she grips more familiarly. It provides a comfort that does not reach her eyes, which have grown particularly cold as she stares down the direction of the shouts. "He'll be that way. Behind a locked door, or a pit. I know these places."

Porter lets out a low sigh and unholsters his other weapon. The Beretta is a sleek, reliable combat pistol, and it makes a very satisfying sound as he ratches the slide and slams a bullet in the chamber. "Let's hope it doesn't come to that. C'mon."

As soon as he pops around the corner, he discharges his last taser shot, gives the trigger a good, long squeeze to electrify the target, and then drops it. As he crashes into a second Russian, he lashes out with the butt of his gun, his fists, his knees, his forehead. Anything he can think of, but he isn't shooting. Not yet.

The reaction of the Russian is easy to pinpoint. He gives a startled cry in most certainly is a creative swear and immediately raises his gun. However, he's unable to raise it very far. Porter has the drop on him and one well-timed (perhaps accidental) knee to the side of the forehead knocks the man out cold.

Two more Russians are behind that one. One starts running down the corridor to - no doubt - sound the alarm. The other raises his rifle and takes aim at the crazed man attacking Russians in their own base. The sound of gunfire is deafening as it ricochets through the hallway.

Ania hangs back, a foreigner. The territory of such straightforward combat is not her own. She watches and waits for an opportunity; one presents itself. While gunfire assaults her ears, eliciting little more than a blink, she slips out, her taser aimed, and fires upon the man running.

Now that things have gotten interesting, Porter fires without hesitation, but he aims for knees, elbows, and shoulders. Painful, even crippling wounds, but rarely fatal. Still, you never know.

The American ducks behind cover for a moment and keys his radio. "Raptor, this is Sparrow. We'll be coming in hot. Time to kick the tires and light the fires."

Two things happen in very quick succession. Ania's taser hits the man running for the alarm straight in the back. With twitching motions he falls to the ground, where he lies stunned. And, then, the second Russian takes a bullet to the knee. With an earth shattering scream the man falls to the ground, hands clasping at his leg, now gushing blood and bits of bone. Keening in pain, the man rocks on the floor in a fetal position.

A lull in gunfire — the peaceful breath of fresh air of Russians hitting the floor, groaning and bleeding — allows a muffled cry to distantly reach them through thick, dirty bunker walls. Not one of alarm and raising to arms, but a gutturally barked pain. It rises sharply in anger, then the fight dies out in a familiar resignation.

Ania squeezes the trigger long and hard, nearing the tasered man as he lies there. Under her intent watch, by command of her trigger-finger, she keeps pushing the charge after he's already certainly down. She's on the precipice of snapping out of her focus because of his inaction on the ground when the shout reaches her senses; that pain, a tone that separates from the screaming of the man nearby writhing with a bullet hole in his knee as clearly to her ear as if it were in another language. Her language. She halts wholly. Her eyes become pinpoints and full moons. She stares down the corridor, completely still except for the slow lowering of her taser.

Full stop to fast-forward. She reels the taser back in, readies it and, ducking down like a sprinter, she runs, picking her way over and around bodies fallen in pain and electrocution; not recklessly — she has her so-called less than "real" weapon raised, intent on seeking ahead.

Once Porter finished his call, he's up and on the run as well. Now that shots have been fired, seconds matter. He's moving full-speed toward that cry of pain, what seems to be a flashing neon sign that says 'PRISONER HELD HERE.'

He skids to a stop on the wrong side of a thick door with Ania next to him. "Unless you feel like trying your magic key ring again, I say we blow it. We're running out of time."

"Do you just want to blow something up that bad?" Already, she's distracted. Her focus is already behind the door. She fishes the key ring out expediently, tucking the taser away to hold the metal objects up in the shoddy light provided by the dusty, insect-ridden caged bulb above them. She plucks one from the arrangement, big and heavy to match the big and heavy door.

What's more telling is that it's stained by blood.

Ania wastes none of their diminishing time in unlocking the barrier — and locking it behind them when they enter the dimmer room. Not a single human life is visible inside. The coppery scent of stale blood mingles almost seamlessly with that of rusting metal. Scattered objects jut from every corner with sharp angles, practical utilities, and some less; lengths of chain in varying thickness and cleanliness, screws and nails stained by time or use, spread out on a splotched table, pokers and tools that could've been here since the farm's first inception, plus dirty knives, and stripped electrical cords, and a tub wrought with wires… a supply room, a graveyard of tools, a torture chamber?

She walks through it, finding edges and intrigue with the fingertips of a glove, assessing every single thing she passes. "Shhh." she holds up the same hand that pricked stray barbed wire. "Sh, sh!"

A bark from beyond, through he closet-sized door at the end of the room. Not pain. Insults, in Russian.
The hard strike of something solid on a human being.

"No going in hard now," Ania says lowly; more than a plea, she sounds like she's already made up her mind. "You will overwhelm him. I heard resignation— he's been captive for a long time. He will fight us if he has any life left, who are we but more torturers to him." Her glance is paired with the quickest, slyest of grins, too dark for their roles as saviors. Torturer.

"Fine then. After you, Miss Sunshine." A small smile tugs at Porter's lips when he's chastised by Ania. "I'm sure he'd rather see your face than mine, anyway."

Despite his lighthearted tone and willingness to bow to Ania's expertise in this particular field, Porter still doesn't holster his pistol. There are too many variables. Too great a chance they'll be crept up on from behind, or blindsided, or walk into a trap, or a thousand other things.

"Go on, then," he urges. "This place gives me the creeps."

"It's messy," she comments, a distinct insult to the state of the place. She creeps toward the small door. The sounds from within guide her closer and closer until she's pressed gently against it, feeling the handle.

Behind the door, unseen, the boots of the Russian captor move in a circle around the singular target of the room; that is to say, he moves in a circle around the wooden support pole the figure is lashed to. It's dark. The shadows cast look as hard as the concrete they stretch upon. One hanging light dangles far off-center, catching dust. The calloused hands of the interrogator clench around a wooden handle; his knuckles stained by blood not his own, each crease ingrained with dirt besides. "… Wake-y, wake-y!" Thickly accented English, he croons without melody. A scrawny but strong man, the interrogator's beady eyes stare, bloodshot, rimmed in sweat and oily black pigment that gives him the look of a filthy miner rather than unique in style. He has none elsewhere. He's dressed in barely cleaner rags than his subject's. His grating voice switches to Russian. "Marching orders." He fingers the weapon in hand. A wood slab decorated in barbed wire. In truth, his orders are now in question. He's almost as trapped as his captive.

The sound of the growling Russian voice has Porter looking and feeling a bit tense. Once again, he stacks up on the opposite side of the door from Ania, pops his pistol out, and checks the contents of the clip. Though it's only half spent, he changes it for a fresh one and tucks the partly used magazine into his belt. "There's at least one bad guy in there. Unless you've found a way to disarm FSB agents with rainbows and kisses, we might have to go in hard. Either way, it's now or never."

Trussed up in dirt stuck on by sweat, and rivulets of his own blood coaxed out by wickedly curved wire, Martin Shaw hardly looks like a legend. The beam mashed against the back of his neck forces his covered head down, so that all he breathes is the hot, overly recycled air of the thick black bag; all he sees. From there, it stretches along his shoulders, imposing weight and stress on bones, on wrists tied on the opposite side of the beam so that his back's tense, already aching, when it's struck. Blood and feeling rush down out of lashed wrists, callouses rubbed raw from multiple bindings before.

He's tall, could even be imposing, but the stress position cows him, leaving that weight to slack, never quite comfortable as the chains bored into either end of the support beam keep him swaying, stumbling, on half-bent legs, bare toes curled against a stony floor spattered with bits of him. Though the weight's not what it used to be either: easily malnourished, lending to the infection in several fingernail beds where the nails were previously removed. What spare pants he's been given, or has been forced to wear who knows how long, don't fit, and the knees have long worn out, showing his own heavily scabbed.

If the brightly logo'd t-shirt full of Russian lettering was given to him as a joke, it's a punchline ruined by the interrogator's fervor.

All the command elicits is a shudder of shoulders, shaking the chains noisily in the concrete room. Hardly a bid for escape. But neither acceptance.

The current interrogator of Martin Shaw, the prisoner — as opposed to Martin Shaw, the legend — can feel the approach of change; his gaunt muscles ripple, his nerves on edge, and he takes it out on the bound man. He shoves his weapon of choice up against the bag, knowing where his chin is and forcing it up, forcing alertness on his own terms. The door, behind the Russian, starts to inch inward, and he flicks a well-used switchblade out of his pocket and open.

Ania cuts a small figure, entering the harsh room; her hood's fallen down, wide eyes without threat, taking in every visible inch of the place, its captor and its captive, with one big, sharp sweep of detail; what is she; a little girl. With a taser. "Sh. Sh." She speaks in the interrogator's tongue, uses his own words. "Marching orders."

The interrogator's bewildered state dulls his reaction; by the time he starts to charge like a horse, blade-first, he's met with an electric shock. His eyes roll in cornered animal panic unbefitting to his profession before the floor seems to give out under him, he falls so quickly. Clearing the door and the way for Porter, Ania yanks the points of the taser back, strides in, and straight for the tall, strung up figure. She steps onto the fallen interrogator while he's still twitching; he's suddenly no more than a footstool to elevate her petite stature toward the captive. Her knife is out, hanging from one hand, but she is delayed from using it to in any way unbind him: she's staring, brightly, at his bloodied clothes and bagged head.

"Keep staring like that and I'm going to get jealous," Porter quips.

The joke is soft. A weak attempt to disguise his sympathy and the bitter taste in his mouth. This isn't interrogation, it's torture. Porter has also been tortured. Unconsciously, he reaches up to knead the scar that twines around his upper arm.

Blink. He comes back to himself. "Cut him down and I'll carry him. It doesn't look like he's going anywhere under his own steam. Hey. You, in the bag. Don't worry, cavalry's here."

"Cavalry," scoffs the voice inside the bag, husky with dehydration and British accent, layered with a sarcasm of defense built up and beaten down for years. "Right." Twitchy as the unexpected noises have made him, Shaw barely puts in the effort to turn his chin towards the impression of figures, investing no interest.

No hope.

Ania tips her head to the right; her eyes don't move. After the hopeless captive's words, Porter's seem to be taken as merely an intriguing suggestion in the first moment, one she hasn't decided the worth of yet. Tucking the taser away, she reaches out for the prisoner — not so far as a helping hand; no, her gloved fingertips breach the ragged end of his head-covering, an investigative touch too slow and curious for the seriousness that ought to be pushing them onward, outward, out of here, to freedom. The urgency of their circumstance — invaders in the deepest hole of territory that could presently be considered 'enemy' — taps the woman on the shoulder sooner than later, however. When she does get to work, it's with a lightning-fast surge of practicality. She hops to the floor, circles around the British agent, quickly assesses the familiar ways in which he's secured. A knife so close to wrists already hurt; this time to defeat his captivity. A snap of bindings; a rattle of chains. Release.

"I'm Agent Porter. When I worked with Hollingberry, I went by the codename 'Patriot.' He sent us. This is Ania." Porter shows surprising strength considering his relatively moderate size and build, but he's not able to support a man of Shaw's bulk and keep an effective grip on his weapon. Finally, he passes the pistol over. "I hear you're pretty handy with one of these. Ania, take point. Lord British, you just stay on your feet and cover us. I'll take care of the heavy lifting."

That's when the first explosive goes off. It's distant and muffled. A few seconds later there's another BOOM, this one substantially closer. "Wasn't me," Porter swears. "C'mon, let's move."

As an afterthought, he yanks the bag off the prisoner's head. Makes sense to be certain the man can see if he's going to be holding a firearm.

Release might've meant collapse, without Porter there, as nothing beyond a battered instinct has Shaw taking any responsibility for his own weight. Bloodless wrists collapse, letting what's missing gush there painfully. "Has anyone told you your American accent is very good?" mocks the voice.

A voice— a face; the heavy bag dragging against his hair then gone in a rush of stale air that's fresher than what he's been breathing. That one dusty light shines on the hollow sculpture of Shaw's bruised face, half smothered in a poorly trimmed beard, his hair cut at odd angles. The gasp he suffers as light and sensation balance out is harsh; nothing to the hardness of his eyes, so scalding as to be uncaring as his head swivels with thready control towards one then— the other.

A beady, singular focus on Ania as she rounds near the front. He sucks in a reedy breath, haggard, but self-pitiless. "I always thought it would be you." Dry past thirst. But the cold feel of a pistol hitting his hand shocks him out, interrupting his warm greeting to death. Fingers slip unwieldy along its heavy frame before he can fathom, he can grip. Explosions barely seem to register at all in the unrelenting stare at the gun that shifts when he, summoning an impossible strength, lifts the muzzle straight at Ania's head.

Her step out front was already quick and eager, not because she's been given the position of "on point", but to secure her sights on the face of the freed man; now he speaks to her, points a weapon at her, and her eyes strike onto his bearded face, bright, wildfire, and there's a giddiness under the surface when she moves fully out in front around the pistol, subdued by her contained, quiet presence, almost childlike in an anticipation. An anticipation that lingers beyond its calling when her eyes, impossibly large already, widen — unblinking, ambiguous intelligence. She stares again, boldly acting immune to the threat of the weapon. The corners of her lips twitch up in the faintest smirk. "Shh, now— " even those slight words, accented. " — quiet." Ania looks solidly to Porter and back to Shaw, stating as clear as fact, "You're delirious." She reaches up as if to push the pistol away; her smaller hand contacts Shaw's and wraps over his grip and stays there, instead, in a momentary standstill while the building rattles from explosives.

"Stop. Both of you." That's not the voice of a spy, or even of Kyle Porter. Is the commanding bark of a Marine Corps Raider. "He's further gone than I expected. Ania, take the weapon. If he resists, shoot him."

"You. Ragdoll." Porter gives the prisoner a shake to emphasize his point. "We don't have time for your shit. We're here off the record and at great personal risk. So either shut up, show a little gratitude, and allow yourself to be quietly rescued, or I'll kill you. In your condition, I seriously doubt you could stop me." He pauses rather than speak over a spray of automatic gunfire, the distinctive POP of a flashbang grenade, and a wet-sounding scream. "I'd decide quickly, because I'm pretty sure that's the sound of our position being overrun."

Intensity more fervent, more personal still than hatred locks on Ania stronger than the aim of the pistol. An already unsteady hand flinches hard to the lightest of her touches. That forefinger aches for the trigger— twitches, but Shaw's gaze falters, and his wrist fails him, arm dropping bonelessly. "Fine." Coughing wracks his whole frame, merely a symptom of gross abuse inside. "Let's get this over with."

Locked on Shaw, Ania full-out smiles in the face of it all, as if everything has taken a joyously exciting twist under Porter's commands; a flash of toothy wolf grin in front of the British agent even when — especially when — that trigger finger twitches, then gone. She follows the fall of his hand and guides the pistol from his possession into hers, adding to the armory on her small person. It takes precedence over the knife.

It seems a task to take her eyes off Shaw; a task more to speak, and so she does not. She steps back, her heel bumping the dispatched interrogator on the floor; he livens in a fit of angry consciousness and Ania turns on him as he grabs for any one of the sets of legs around him. "You," she says as she drops in a fast crouch, switching to precise Russian, "Your work is sloppy." Grabbing his own barbed wire wrapped weapon and cracking him across the face with it— that's an afterthought, but just as harshly meant. Ania scurries over him, straight for the door and out into the basement which will very shortly become a war-zone as well.

"Atta boy," Porter rumbles. He reaches up to give the Brit a pat on the cheek. Medical treatment. Proper introductions. Strong possibility of a fistfight. These things will have to wait until after the team has been extracted.

Hefting his human burden, Porter staggers back out the way they came. Almost immediately, the trio bumps into a soldier wearing all black and suited up for a heavy assault. Operating on instinct, Porter draws a knife from his belt and throws it in a smooth, fluid motion. It tumbles end over end and bites into the one part of the soldier's body that's unprotected. His eyes.

Porter looks away. "Keep moving. We have to get to Raptor."

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