The soldier thrashed against the Asset’s hold over their body. He could hear the shouts of his handler from the cockpit, the creak of the wooden seat he was chained too and the sharp sounds of his own breath hissing through the slits of the steel muzzle. With one final scream the Soldier broke free from the Asset, shoving him back down into the black emptiness of their mind. The thin ties that had held the wrist and ankle shackles to the seat had snapped during the struggle and the Soldier’s hands lashed out, puncturing the airplane’s hull. Alarms mixed with the disjointed shouts in Russian as the plane tilted and threw the Soldier from his chair. The cold rush of air turned hot and humid prompting the Soldier to react. He braced just as the plane crashed into the jungle.
The air was hot, the fires around him even hotter. The Soldier moaned and opened his eyes. The firelight flickered off huge trees and dark green underbrush. The Soldier rolled over and inhaled sharply, pain flickering up and down his left leg.
“Great” he thought. The wounds would heal thanks to the chemicals pulsing through his blood but it wouldn’t be fast enough to keep him being eaten by a fucking jaguar or something equally inconvenient.
A crash came from a large section of unburned plane and the hydra handler climbed out.
Not nearly fast enough.
The Soldier pulled his knees to his chest and pushed his arms out, trying his best to pull himself away. A string of Russian curses and stomping feet came up behind him followed by a blossom of pain from the grip of a pistol slamming into his unguarded back.
The Asset rose up out of the inky recesses of their mind and crashed into the Soldier.
The pistol smashed down again pulling the Soldier away from the Asset.
The Asset pushed into the Soldier again.
With each word and strike the Soldier could feel himself losing his grip, screaming into the muzzle. The Asset would win, again, and this time he would never escape from Hydra. The Soldier began to flail, scrambling to find the strength again. The softly lit five-pointed star was right where the Soldier had left it and he mentally reached out. The connection made, cool strength, and something the Soldier did not have the heart to name, flowed freely into him.
The Soldier smiled behind the muzzle. The mysterious well of strength had been keeping him alive ever since Hydra had created him in the chair and started his fight with the Asset. The Asset slid back down beneath the Soldier’s resolution.
“Podchinit'sya!” The handler shouted.
The Soldier raised his head and looked his tormentor in the eye. Slowly, he shook his head.
The handler’s soot smeared face twisted and he turned his gun to point the barrel at the Soldier.
The Soldier allowed himself a small contented sigh, contemplating the handler’s punishment for destroying the Asset.
A black hand flashed out of the shadows, long silver claws stabbing into the hand that held the pistol, twisting it up and backwards. A scream of pain froze in the agent face as he was lifted up. The handler was thrown into the burning fuselage by a creature straight out of a nightmare. It was humanoid with a cat like head, entirely black asides from the now blood-stained claws and two silvery panels where its eyes should have been.
The Soldier’s breaths came fast with mounting panic and he turned to claw at the dirt, trying to crawl away from the beast. His struggles and hyperventilation took its toll and the Soldier’s vision began to tunnel and turn dark with each strangled breath. His body had stopped listening and lay still when the hand fall on his metal shoulder.
“Shhh, Shh. I am not going to hurt you.” A gentle, lilting, voice echoed around the Soldier’s swimming head as he was laid on his back. He felt hands reach around his neck and heard the faint whine and crack of twisting metal. The muzzle was lifted free from him and he took great gasps of the smoky air. The Soldier’s vision cleared to show a man kneeling over him. Firelight danced across the black of his skin and the white of his teeth peeking out from between gently smiling lips.
Something about the man set the Soldier at ease, even if his brain, still stuck in its Russian programming, hadn’t been able to understand the words he had spoken. The man watched the Soldier until his breath leveled out, then turned his attention to the chains. The Soldier stiffened at the sight of those silver claws rendering the metal shackles from his wrists. The Solder now stared at the monster turned man.
“Chto ty takoye?” he asked, still stuck in Russian.
The man’s brow furrowed.
“Ty… are you, like me?” the Soldier tried, this time succeeding in finding the English section of his programming.
The man smiled again and gently took the Soldier’s hands in his own. “You are a fighter, so am I. and we are both free.”
The Soldier let himself fade into the dead leaves and dark earth beneath him, letting out a slow breath and closing his eyes.