Vivian grit her teeth, but otherwise kept quiet and acted as though she could ‘behave’ as she was escorted from her room. Normally when she was retrieved for a mission, she was met by a wall of stoic silence, but that wasn’t the case this time. This time there was a buzz of nervous energy, and people even looked concerned. She was pretty sure the response wasn’t to her as she hadn’t had an outburst in a couple of years. Hell, her hallucinations had gone down to only when she was sleep deprived or heavily injured.
Frowning, Vivian did as she was told, keeping her hands by her sides as she was stopped and then a blindfold was put over her eyes. She wanted to roll her eyes, but she refrained, letting herself get led to a car. The agents seemed even more tense as they drove, but Vivian took the time to relax for a bit. After all, if they were going to do something to her, then there’d be no reason to drive her somewhere else.
Taking a deep breath and hoping no one noticed how close she’d been to falling asleep, Vivian let herself get led out of the car. She could hear the sounds of the outdoors and the faint smell of smoke before she was brought inside again. Still they didn’t take her blindfold off until after someone muttered about the opening to the secret door being more than a little obnoxious to find.
That alone made Vivian want to just sit down and laugh until she cried. Of course they were going to some goddamn secret base within a base. Hydra really was predictable. After what felt like a laughably long time, Vivian was pulled into another section and as soon as doors closed, Vivian’s blindfold was removed and she found herself staring at the walls of an elevator.
Great. They were going underground.
The doors opened and Vivian stepped out, pausing as she saw high ranking Hydra officials scattered across the room. A lump in her throat, Vivian was shoved forward and she approached the center of the room, nausea filling her as she saw Arnim Zola in a hospital bed. Multiple machines were breathing for him and monitoring his heart rate. There was even one monitoring his brain activity, but that wasn’t as peculiar as the odd pieces of electrical equipment attached to his head connecting him to the massive amounts of databanks in the room.
Before Vivian could fully process any of that though, an agent was stepping forward, their features mostly masked as they announced, “As all of you already know, on this day a year ago, our leader Arnim Zola was given a terminal diagnosis. Cancer.”
Keeping her face passive, Vivian realized she’d had no idea that Zola had been sick at all, but she wasn’t surprised to realize how pissed off she was that she wouldn’t be the one to end the bastard’s life. She’d had plans on how she’d wanted to kill that man, and none of them had involved hospital beds or pain management.
“On that day, instead of giving up, Zola came up with a brilliant, beautiful machine, a way for him to outlast us all and to keep helping Hydra flourish into the magnificent creature that it was always meant to grow into. He found a way to become immortal.”
The agent waved a hand and two other agents went to the sides and began turning on switches and turning wheels. Soon all the machinery behind turned on and began to function. The low hum filled the room and the lights flickered momentarily before the agent spoke gleefully, “Our leader sought to preserve the most important part of himself, his mind, into the databanks you see before you. His body had failed him, but his mind? His mind will be as sharp as ever, will be as powerful as ever, and it will lead Hydra to victory. The last download of the information is happening today, and once that is complete, Hydra will be immortal.”
The men around her all raised their fists in solidarity along with the agent speaking and this time, Vivian couldn’t help but roll her eyes. God, she hated that stupid chant. It was just stupid. It had always been stupid. Of all the things to blatantly steal from Nazis and they chose the dumb super not secret handshake. Pathetic. Luckily the agent in front was too focused on the new development to notice she wasn’t participating as he flipped a few switches before finally pushing a button.
A hush went over the group as all of Zola’s equipment shutdown and his heart monitor flat lined. A few minutes later, that too was turned off, the sound still ringing in her ears as the equipment was then moved aside, Zola’s bed carefully moved off to the side as well as the monitors were finally turned on. The agent frantically typed a few things, but then Vivian was being tugged forward.
Stumbling up and gritting her teeth, she found herself staring at the screen as lines appeared on the screen, green numbers and lines creating a minimalistic version of Zola’s face. The camera above the monitor swiveled and focused on her before Zola’s voice echoed through the room, “Peshkova, Vivian Alana. Born November 1st, 1918. Code name Hecate. One of dozens of experiments conducted by Ophelia Sarkissian, also known as Madame Hydra. Only survivor. Mutant powers include ability to regenerate and telekinesis. Limits of the powers are thus far unknown.”
“Surprised you didn’t try to use my DNA to cure yourself of cancer.”
There was hushed whispers around the room, but before Zola could respond, Vivian found herself scoffing as the agent who’d led the whole presentation shouted for everyone to leave. The room emptied out and she was left alone as Zola confessed, “Attempts were made.”
“Seems like they didn’t work too well, since you’re dead.”
“No, fräulein, I have never been more alive. This, of course, wasn’t the first choice I had made, but I find it to be the superior option.”
“So what? Did my DNA just not do anything to your cancer?”
“You misunderstand. My initial diagnosis was not cancer.”
Frowning at that, Vivian was about to speak, but then her eyes widened and she grinned as Zola explained, “My illness was terminal. Your DNA was used to cure me of what ailed me. Unfortunately, the DNA did not stop there. It did not cease to multiply within my system. There was no end. It gave me—”
“You’re saying I gave you terminal cancer.”
“And that’s why you had to scramble to download yourself to this monstrosity.”
“Great. So why did you want to talk to me? We weren’t exactly chummy when you were…in your body, so what changed now?”
“You will be reporting directly to me.”
Vivian’s wry grin faded and she questioned, “What do you mean?”
“I mean, data of potential missions will be relayed to me. I will pick your missions, and what missions to send your Sergeant James Barnes onto until a new suitable head can be chosen to keep you in line. In light of mutants being revealed to the world though—”
Vivian’s voice had been frail and quiet, a shocked sound as a mechanical laughter filled the room before Zola continued, “I would not get any ideas if I were you. Mutants will no sooner accept a monster like you than humans will. The reckless exposure of their powers, and the interference of Magneto once again proved a problem. His involvement in the assassination of JFK though did prove useful, as did the leaking of said documents proving he was there. Regardless, if you are discovered as a mutant, we will find a way to terminate you before they can reach you.”
Staring blankly at the floor, Vivian questioned weakly, “Then what are my orders?”
“You are not to approach the mutants under any circumstances. And if you think that maybe you could get to them before we would hurt you, remember that you are not the only one you are keeping alive.”
One of the screens flickered, and Vivian swallowed hard as an image of Buck in cryo popped up. Keeping herself in check, Vivian inhaled sharply before questioning, “When can I see him again?”
“That all depends on you. Obedience will be rewarded. Understood?”
“My eyes see everything, Hecate. You will do well to remember that.”
The words stuck in Vivian’s head and she froze, a slow, vicious grin spreading across her face as she moved closer. Staring into the computer’s camera, she reminded him, “But you don’t have eyes.”
“I have better. I have—”
“You have cameras, and you have walls and walls of delicate machinery. Do you really think Hydra’s going to actually let you know the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help them God? Because I think they’ll feed you whatever information they think is worth giving to you. They’ll withhold or corrupt whatever they don’t want you to know, and you want to know the best part about all of that?”
The monitor flickered slightly and Vivian couldn’t help but cackle as she admitted, “The best part is that you won’t know the difference. You don’t have a brain, not really. There’s no gut instinct. It’s just coding. If someone alters your databanks to say, for example, that this meeting never happened, then to you, this meeting just never happened. It’ll be gone from your memory, just like that. All your work and all your effort to brainwash the Winter Soldier and then you gave people the power to do that to you and more.”
“I am in charge.”
“Keep telling yourself that, but a word of advice? I’d be nicer to the help if I were you.”
The monitors all flickered off and Vivian couldn’t help but damn near cackle as a beep sounded through the room before agents came up and gripped her arms. Her cackling turned into full body laughter, the agents looking at her oddly before she was blindfolded. She still laughed though until finally one of them muttered something and a substance was injected into her neck. Darkness filled her vision and the next time she woke up, she was back in her own cell, groggy and with bruised arms. Quickly a grin spread across her face though as she remembered the conversation she’d had.
She was one step closer to freeing Bucky.