The Final Battle
"You know, you can turn back now, Jamie. Everyone will—"
"It's Liberty Belle while I'm in costume, Captain!"
"Fine. Liberty, you can turn back now if you want. No one will think less of you…"
"I'm coming with you, Captain! There's nothing you can say that'll change my mind!"
"No, Captain! I'm coming! I'm your protégé! I'm coming with you!"
The early winds of March breezed through the air. Steve sighed as he watched Jamie slip her brother's pocket watch into a pocket of her dress and climb into the attached sidecar of his motorcycle. He really wasn't all that comfortable with this. He had no qualms of just going and attacking the Schmidt's last Hydra base all by himself, but he really didn't want to take Jamie with him. She was insistent, though. Somehow, the little girl that had been an emotional train wreck for the past month had overnight changed into a determined little thing. She wasn't actually mean to anyone, per say, but she definitely wasn't the same little girl she'd been before her kidnapping. He was very worried. People, especially little kids, do not just change overnight like that if they've endured something truly traumatic. He wasn't sure what it was that caused this drastic change in her personality, but he didn't like it. He was actually wondering whether or not his young apprentice was hiding something.
He'd voiced his concerns to Colonel Phillips. Phillips had been sympathetic, as she was still just a little girl at the end of the day, but he would not budge from his decision to put her back out onto the battlefield.
"It's one last battle, Rogers," said Phillips when he saw Steve sigh in frustration at his constant denial to not extract her from the battle plan. "One last battle. She just needs to keep her shit together for one last battle. After that, she can lose her cool again, and we focus our attention on her, but for now, we need her for that one last battle against the main base."
Steve sighed again as he climbed on top of his motorbike and tossed her a safety helmet. She set her torch down on the seat next to her as she caught it. No one could deny the look of pure joy on her face when she'd been reunited with her choice of weapon.
"I know you want to help, Liberty, but… I'm worried. I'm worried about you."
"Well, don't be!" she grumbled, strapping the helmet on over her spiky crown as she spoke. "I'm fine! I want to help! So, I'm coming! I'm coming whether you like it or not! We have to stop the Red Skull! Especially before next month!"
"Next month?" Steve repeated, puzzled.
"Next month is April. My eleventh birthday!" she explained. "If we finish this whole thing today, we can stop the war in Europe before my birthday!"
Steve sighed for a third time. "All right, but on one condition."
"You do exactly what I tell you to do. If I tell you to duck, you duck. If I tell you to hide, you hide. If I tell you not to do something because it's too dangerous, it's too dangerous. And above all, if I tell you to run away and save yourself, you run. Do you understand me?"
Jamie's snappish attitude came to a crashing halt. She blanched completely upon hearing the last phrase of words. He wanted her should they get into a tight spot to run away and leave him there? That was exactly what she'd done to Trent. She wasn't sure she could agree to that.
"B-but… But Captain—!"
"This is not negotiable. I happen to take your safety out on the battlefield very, very seriously. I may not know the full details about what happened to you during your captivity in January, but whatever it was that happened, I'm not going to let it happen again. If you do not promise to agree to these terms, then I don't care what Colonel Phillips says; you're staying right here."
Jamie frowned. She had to verbally agree to this if Steve was to take her with him during the final assault on the Hydra factory as they went after Schmidt. That did not mean, however, that she would do it. She had to lie, because at the end of the day, she would not do to Steve what she'd done to Trent. She'd lost her brother. She would not lose him, too.
"I promise," she lied with a convincing nod.
Steve smiled, and gently patted her shoulder since the protective helmet covered up her head.
"Good," he said kindly. "Then let's go get Schmidt."
He started up the engine, and they took off alone down the road.
For a long time neither of them spoke. They simply drove on down the forest path across the Austrian border in absolute silence as they whipped their way past so many trees still carrying a touch of wintery magic. Their plan for getting to Schmidt was simple. The two of them, Captain America and Liberty Belle, were going to storm the main base alone as a distraction, and get captured by the Hydra guards. While that was happening, Colonel Phillips, Agent Carter, and the rest of the Howling Commandos would launch a sneak attack on the base during all the chaos, and they'd take the entire place by surprise.
No one in Hydra would anticipate the sneak attack.
The plan was flawless. It would work. It had to work.
Before too long, however, they slowly overheard the sound of an entire team of motorcycles zipping up behind them. The sounds drew steadily closer, and a sudden flash of blue pinged off of Steve's shield, which was secured to his back. Steve and Jamie glanced over their shoulders. There was an entire legion of Hydra agents all in black tailing after them on black motorcycles of their own.
"Keep driving, Cap!" Jamie shouted, pulling out her torch as she spoke. She'd been amazed to discover how much she missed the weapon during her month-long state of shock. It was good to have her old friend back in her hand again. "I'll take care of these jerks!"
"We'll do it together!" Steve shouted back, clicking a series of special buttons on the bike.
Instantly, a great coil of wire shot out from the back engine, and attached itself between two trees across the road. Most of the agents were able to duck underneath the wire, but two of them were literally launched into the air off of the bikes when they collided straight into it. The others tried to continue after the two super-soldiers, but Jamie was now firing off fireballs from her torch. One Hydra agent was completely set on fire thanks to her, while the other in the process of trying to dodge her flaming balls of fire, accidentally drove his bike right into a large boulder. He fell headfirst over his motorcycle and onto the ground.
Jamie growled. Other than those two idiots, the rest were successfully managing to dodge her fireballs. She'd have to change her tactics. That's when a wicked idea popped into her head.
She quickly aimed her torch at one of the three Hydra agents that were nearest to her and Steve, and rapidly fired of a fireball before adjusting her torch and firing off on either side of him as well, thereby forcing him to remain in place and take first ball of fire head on. He screamed as the fire burned him, and he, too, like many of the other members of his squad, fell from his bike. By pure chance, one of the other two fireballs was still going, and collided up against another rider, taking him out as well.
There were now only two guards left. Again, Jamie aimed her torch to try and deal with them, but they both suddenly veered right off the path.
"They're trying to overpass us!" Jamie shouted to Steve as her eyes trailed after the two Hydra guards that were actually managing to breeze right past them in the trees.
"Don't worry, I see them!" said Steve as the guards came back onto the pathway, now way ahead of the American super-soldiers. "I have a plan!"
Jamie never got a chance to reply to that, because Steve was now speeding up the bike to drive right between the last two motorbikes. As they now were the one's overpassing them, Steve leaned over towards one of the Hydra guards, and proceeded to yank out the pin from one of the grenades hanging out from the guards' pockets before quickly resuming to speed on past them. Jamie barely had enough time to whip her head around to just catch a glimpse of the inevitable explosion of the grenade. The two riders were completely incinerated, as were their bikes.
Jamie sighed in relief and turned back around. Their tag-alongs were gone. That was one problem solved. The main problem was what they were rapidly approaching. The main Hydra base was dead ahead of them. They couldn't quite see the fortress just yet, but there were large, slightly slanted concrete walls surrounding it, and they were swiftly approaching the main gate. Speaking of the main gate, there was a tank rolling out of it, and was preparing to fire.
"Duck down!" Steve shouted to her as he jerked his shield off of his back and placed it directly in front of him on the bike's handles as a means to protect himself. Jamie didn't hesitate to comply. She whipped her head down into the safe confines of the passenger sidecar as the Hydra tank let out a huge stream of blue energy. The attack thankfully bounced harmlessly off of the shield, but the tank kept firing off more blasts. To Steve and Jamie's immense relief, these attacks didn't hit them.
Steve waited until they were a tad bit closer to the tank before pressing another button on the control button of his bike. Two grenades shot out towards the tank. Moments later, the entire machine exploded, sending flames and embers flying in every direction and great clouds of gray smoke billowing out from it.
Steve ignored the enormous explosion. He drove himself and Jamie right around it and toward the slanted sidewalls of the base, and drove the bike right up them.
"Hold on!" Steve yelled to his young apprentice as they reached the edge of the wall, and flew right off of it.
Jamie couldn't stop herself. She shrieked a tiny bit in fear and grasped her torch tightly in one hand, and held onto the side of the passenger car tightly with her other so as to avoid falling out. This lasted only momentarily, though. Just as soon as she was reaching the peak of her fear, they both landed back onto the ground on the other side of the wall with a loud thud. The Hydra agents inside had been unprepared for them to storm the base in such a way, and some of them were somewhat startled.
Immediately, there was a great chaos between the guards as they all tried to pull their Hydra weapons out from the holsters on their hips, and began firing the blue energy at the motorcycle with its attached sidecar. Steve and Jamie didn't pay them any attention. The two of them just simply waited until Steve had driven the bike into a somewhat open area in the front yard of the base, and then they leaped away together from the bike and onto the solid ground. The motorcycle simply continued driving on down to the steel set of front doors that were the main entrance into the factory. Without a rider, the bike couldn't stop, and it crashed right into the steel-plated doors. The minor explosion that followed not only left a gaping hole in the doors and connected walls, but knocked out some nearby guards both outside and inside the factory that were unfortunate to be standing in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Steve and Jamie ignored the explosion as they scrambled back up to their feet. They didn't have time to waste dwelling on it. In less than half-a-second, they were no longer Steve Rogers and Jamie Harper. They were the Dynamic Duo. They were Captain America and Liberty Belle. They were the genetically enhanced super-soldier of today, and the child super-soldier of tomorrow. They were here. They were ready for this final battle.
Upon standing again, Steve quickly flung his shield at the closest Hydra agent in range that was preparing to fire another wave of blue energy. Just as the shield came ricocheting back to him, Jamie twirled her trusty torch in her hand before pressing and holding down on the special button of her torch. Instead of fireballs, the flaming sword erupted, and she waved the stream of flames at several Hydra guards attempting to rush them from behind. They both immediately leaped back at the tips of the flames licked the skin on their hands and faces, effectively burning them. She released the button as they fell to the ground in pain.
She knew she could have kept the fire burning and allowed them to burn to death, but she would not do that. What happened to her back when she was kidnapped was terrible. Very terrible. She had had to kill that Hydra squadron leader to stop him from beating her brother, and she'd killed so many men while during her escape of the base.
That had been a one-time thing, though. With the obvious exception to the Red Skull once she and Steve found him, she would never again take a human life. She just couldn't do it. She wouldn't. She'd only ever kill one more person again. Nobody else.
Jamie had no time to stop and muse on her no-killing motto. More guards were attempting to rush her. She had to hold up her torch in order to fend off a punch from another guard. The guard growled at the quickness of the small child, and then tried to hit her again. It was pointless. Jamie's enhanced eyesight saw him start to move to strike her before he was even aware of the fact that he was even moving his body. In the blink of an eye, she dodged to the left, raised her torch up high, and whacked him upside the head with its blunt end. The guard fell to the ground, now knocked out cold. Jamie didn't wait for someone else to try and attack her next. She leaped in the air over his fallen body, and zipped over to help assist Steve in tackling a group of three guards attempting to surround him.
Their teamwork was remarkably impeccable. They were now mostly fighting hand-to-hand against the guards, but together the two super-soldiers were driving back the vast majority of the Hydra forces all by themselves. If one of the vile villains were getting to close to either of them, the other would step in and take the Hydra agent out. Steve and Jamie had each other's backs, after all. With Steve's shield acting very much like a boomerang whenever he threw it, he was more than capable of taking out the guards that were quite some distance away and aiming at the two of them with their Hydra weapons. Jamie meanwhile would use her torch to either send out more fireballs at the ones attempting to charge them, or swat them away with her fire sword. Occasionally, she wound up missing the guards as they dodged the two different types of fire attacks, so she'd be forced to put her torch back into its special holster on her hip, and do combat with her fists instead. Steve sometimes had to do the same if more Hydra forces broke through their defenses.
Single punches from either one of them onto the face of a guard could knock out both of their front teeth, and kicks to the abdomen from the adult and child super-soldiers left many men with several broken ribs and internal hemorrhaging.
"Liberty! Behind you!" Steve shouted suddenly as Jamie promptly knocked out yet another guard.
Jamie whirled around with her torch raised and ready to defend herself from the fists of another dumb lackey Hydra soldier, but she was surprised when she realized that the guard behind her wasn't trying to start a fight. He was holding up what looked like two huge blowtorches, and before Jamie could do anything to try and stop him, great beams of fire shot out from the ends of both them. It was a bit similar to how her own torch created a flaming sword.
"Captain! Run!" she shouted as she spun on her heel to try and find another way around them.
Steve was about to yell to ask her what she meant, but they were both surprised when they saw on the opposite side of them a second guard. Like the first guard, he too was carrying two blowtorches, and was letting out great streams of flamethrowers. Both guards moved just a couple inches forward until the tips of the flames were touches the tips of the flames from the opposing pair of blowtorches. They were now effectively trapped.
After a couple seconds, the flames slowly dispersed, and all the guards in the courtyard were rushing to form a very large circle around Captain America and Liberty Belle. Each one had their guns or Hydra weapons raised and ready to fire should the two super-soldiers refuse to cooperate.
Jamie whimpered a bit. This reminded a tiny bit of back when she was initially kidnapped a couple months ago. Steve gave her a wary look. She was holding it together, but she was definitely a little nervous. He knew he shouldn't have brought her.
"Both of you!" shouted one of the guards. "Drop your weapons! Now!"
Slowly, Steve and Jamie set their shield and torch down on the ground.
"Hands in the air!"
The adult and child soldier raised their hands slowly over their heads in defeat. They both knew that their best chance at survival at the moment was by surrendering themselves over peacefully.
"They're going to take us to Schmidt. Don't say anything out of turn," Steve whispered to his little protégé as four of the guards rushed forward with their weapons still drawn on them. "In fact, don't speak at all. Let me do all the talking."
Jamie barely had enough time to give him a discreet nod in confirmation before the guards were forcing the two of them to the ground as they bound up their wrists into matching pairs of silvery handcuffs.
The guards then motioned for them to stand with the edge of their guns.
"On your feet!" he spat.
Wordlessly, Steve and Jamie both stood up, and were roughly manhandled by the guards to march inside the building as another guard hurriedly along after them with their shield and torch.
Jamie was completely silent as the guards escorted them into the building and into an elevator. She was doing her best not to have a full out panic attack. On the outside, she appeared to be strong and angry at getting captured and was glaring through her blue mask at the guards as they felt the elevator slowly rise a great number of levels in the base, but underneath her mask and on the inside, she was a complete mess. She wanted nothing more than to start screaming in fear. She was captured again. Hydra had captured her again. They were taking her to see the Red Skull. This was all part of the plan, she knew, but she couldn't help the dread feeling that was seeping through her. When she stopped and thought about it, he was currently the only one other than that Hydra squadron leader that had tortured herself and Trent that could make her feel such vast amounts of fear. The way he'd laughed at her when she screamed upon seeing him rip his synthetic mask off of his true face… It was a rather daunting thought for her, but she knew she had to be brave. She wasn't the same little girl she had been back in November when she first saw him. She was stronger than she was back then. She was most definitely braver.
There was a loud 'ding' when the elevator reached the topmost floor of the base, and the doors slowly slid open. The two guards that were minding Steve stood on either side of him with their hands firmly planted on his arms to prevent him from trying to make a possible escape, but they did not force him along as they walked. They granted him the courtesy of being able to walk himself along. Jamie's guards on the other hand, were the exact opposite.
"Walk, brat!" the guard on her right snapped. He grabbed her by her elbow, and tried dragging her along down the hall.
"Get your hands off me!" she snipped, trying to pull away from him. The guard on her other side quickly jammed the end of his Hydra blaster into the small of her back.
"Keep talking sass, Miss Liberty! Just do it!" he warned.
Jamie tripped upon hearing the 'miss' part. It took all her willpower not to completely freeze up. It reminded her too much of being back in that dark cell, and that Hydra guard constantly calling her it as he either beat her or electrocuted her.
Steve threw her a nervous look. He could tell something they'd said had upset her, even if she was hiding it very well.
"Just do as they say, Liberty," he ordered.
Jamie paused to nod to him before shooting a dark look at the guards, but she didn't protest this time when the guard squeezed her arm tight and kept dragging her down the hall, nor did she open her mouth when the other guard kept his weapon firmly planted on her back in case she were to try anything. She just kept her mouth shut. She was doing her best not to turn into a weeping, sniveling ball of tears.
They finally entered a room at the very end of the long hallway. It was very open and airy, with large ceiling-high windows on the backmost wall that all overlooked the scenic view of the nearby snowcapped mountains just outside of the base. There was also a fair share of machinery in here, giving the room what should have been a nice atmosphere a haunting one, what with the dark lighting and many shadows stretching across the room.
Not to mention the fact that the world's most evil super-villain was standing at the base of the windows and looking out at the snowy landscape while they entered.
It wasn't until the guards finally had Steve and Jamie stop fully in the exact center of the room did the Red Skull turn away from the windows and look over at them. He chuckled, and strolled up to them.
"Arrogance may not be a uniquely American trait," he sneered tauntingly as he sized up the young man and little girl before him in their red, white, and blue super hero costumes. "But I must say, you two do it better than anyone."
Steve did not reply to the jive. He just kept his eyes firmly locked on Schmidt. If he were to die here today, by Schmidt's hands, he would not die a coward. He would die as a brave soldier of the United States Army. That was all he ever wanted.
Jamie did not do anything. She was an emotionless doll to everyone. She did not react to his cruel taunt. She did not cry at the fact that she was captured. She did not cower away from the frightening face of her and Steve's archenemy as she had the first time she met him. She did not glare at him even though he was probably the wickedest man alive, even wickeder than that Hydra leader that tortured her and Trent for days.
She just stood at attention, but did not do anything.
"But," the Red Skull went on, now looking directly at Steve as he spoke, "there are limits to what even the two of you can do, Captain, Liberty. Or did Erskine tell you both otherwise?"
"He told us you were insane," said Steve at once.
"Ah," said the Red Skull with another chuckle as he sized up the only other fully-grown man on earth with the super-soldier serum running through his veins from head-to-toe. "He resented my genius and tried to deny me what was rightfully mine. But he gave you, and this small child here—" He paused there, taking a good, long and hard look at Jamie. She still did not react to him. "—everything."
Steve did not reply to that comment. He just glared at him coldly.
"So, what made the two of you so special?"
Steve scoffed. "Nothing," he replied. The Red Skull frowned. "We're both just a couple kids from Brooklyn."
This was evidently not what the Red Skull wanted as a response. He roared, and swiftly punched Steve hard in the jaw. Steve didn't even get a chance to recover from the blow before the Red Skull was striking the other side of his face, and then landing a fast jab at his stomach. Steve fell to his knees as he coughed lightly while struggling to regain his breath. The wind was completely knocked right out of him.
As the Red Skull loomed over him with a smirk on his face, Jamie literally had to force her eyes to stare firmly at a spot on the wall so as to still seem emotionless. One look at her mentor on the ground like that, and her resolve to remain strong and fearless in front of the Red Skull would abruptly snap. She couldn't look at him.
After a moment, Steve looked back up at the red-skinned, evil man.
"I can do this all day."
This made the Red Skull snicker. "Of course you can, of course," he agreed. "But, unfortunately, I am on a tight schedule, so I'm going to move on."
He then turned to look at Jamie.
"Liberty Belle," he said mockingly at Jamie. "I must say, you have become quite interesting to me. The only child in the world with Erskine's serum coursing throughout your body. You were designed to become even stronger than myself or your precious Captain America one day, and yet, you've been captured by my agents not once, but twice now…"
Jamie did not say anything in reply. She just stared blankly ahead of her.
Receiving no response, the Red Skull continued. "I'll admit, I was furious when I found out that you'd been captured by my men but that I was not informed until after you escaped. They were all dealt with accordingly, but I must say, you must've been so upset by what happened to the young man who was with you?"
It took all of Jamie's willpower not to react to that statement. She knew he was only bringing up Trent to get a rise out of her. She had to stay strong. Emotionless. She would not get upset with him. She'd show this man just how much she'd changed since the last time they were face-to-face.
The Red Skull smirked at her, and slowly squatted down so that his face was level with hers.
"Such a shame, really… A young, strong man like that… He could have had his entire life waiting for him if he simply hadn't tried to rescue you when you were captured. It's a shame. Truly, a shame…"
That was the last straw. Jamie snarled at him as she spat a good amount of spit right into his eye.
"Go fuck yourself in the deepest pits of hell!" she spat, ignoring the shocked look she was getting from Steve. She'd not only just spat on him, but she swore, too.
The Red Skull lunged at the little girl, all but lifting her off her feet as he wrapped both his hands around her tiny throat. Jamie tried to scream, but she could not get the air to move out from the back of her throat. She gasped for breath and tried to pry her hands free from the guards that were holding them back to prevent her from struggling.
"Bas… Bastard!" she wheezed. "You… You're a… a bastard!"
The Red Skull smirked, and removed one of his hands from around her throat so as to reach into the inner pocket of his sleek black trench coat. He pulled out a tiny Hydra pistol. Just like its larger counter-types, it, too, was sure to spit out great rays of blue energy.
"Perhaps," he agreed, noting the fact that he was the squeezing the little girl so tight that her face was beginning to turn from red to blue from lack of oxygen as he aimed the tiny pistol at her forehead. "Charming last words…"
He smirked, his finger ready to click down on the trigger—
There was a sudden noise outside the window. The Red Skull lowered the pistol for a moment as his attention was diverted away from Steve and Jamie. Had he still been looking at the adult and child super-soldiers, he would have noticed the very subtle smirk they both exchanged.
Dum Dum, Falsworth, and Jones were all racing down on pulleys on zip-lines from the upper mountains straight toward the windows.
"Not her last words," said Steve.
With a great burst of energy, Steve broke away the thin metal of the handcuffs connecting his wrists together, and promptly swung one of the guards still attempting to restrain him around so he would be directly in front of him. The Red Skull, startled a bit from the impending intruders and this sudden movement happening at the same time, not only released his grasp on Jamie's throat, but also fired his Hydra weapon at the guard that Steve had jerked in front of him, disintegrating him instantaneously. As Jamie fell to the ground and fought to regain control of her breathing once again, the three members of the Howling Commandos came crashing in through the windows.
As enormous chunks of glass began flying and their rescuers began firing off rounds from their machine guns, chaos erupted. The Red Skull promptly forgot all about Captain America and Liberty Belle and took off out of the room and down the hall before anyone could stop him, and the other Hydra agents released their holds on Steve and Jamie so they could rush for the nearest form of cover before firing their own weapons. Steve quickly grabbed Jamie's wrists, and forcefully tore them away from one another so as to break apart her own handcuffs.
"Thanks, Cap!" she said appreciatively as she rubbed her wrists.
"Rogers! Harper!" Falsworth called out. "You both might need these!"
He had located Steve's shield and Jamie's torch during the midst of the battle, and tossed both items to the two them before returning his attention to firing off rounds at a Hydra agent that had been trying to sneak up on him.
Reunited with their weapons, Steve and Jamie both began dashing down the hallway to try and catch up with Johann Schmidt, a.k.a., the Red Skull. As they raced through the hallways of the base, they would continuously stop and do their best to help out in the series of mini battles going on between Hydra operatives and the invading American soldiers who were storming the factory. More often than not, Steve and Jamie would easily surprise the unknowing Hydra guards preoccupied with firing their advanced weaponry blasters at the American soldiers, and with swift knocks to the head from Steve's shield or quick incinerating burns from Jamie's torch, they successfully turned the tides in the battles.
They didn't have time to stop and hear their fellow soldiers thanks, though. They had to catch up with the Red Skull. So the two super-soldiers just nodded to their friends after each time they did this, and then kept on sprinting through the base to continue their search for the evil Hydra leader.
It didn't take them long to track him down. They found him in one of the many long corridors. He'd found a discarded larger Hydra weapon and was firing away at a small group of American's as they tried to enter the building. When the Red Skull caught sight of Steve and Jamie running straight towards him, however, he immediately stopped firing at the American platoon and continued running again. The Dynamic Duo chased after him, hot on his heels. Every now and then as they chased him he'd whirl around and run backwards for a couple seconds as he shot off a bit of blue energy from the large Hydra weapon he'd found, but Steve would either deflect them away with his shield, or Jamie would simply proceed to twirl out of its way.
The Red Skull eventually managed to reach the end of the long hallway, and tried to close a set of electronic steel doors behind him as he ran through them in a meager effort to prevent Steve and Jamie from following him through to the connecting room. Before the door could completely shut though, Steve ran forward, and hurled his shield at the closing entryway to prevent it from shutting any further.
"Quick thinking, Captain!" Jamie commented.
The young man and the little girl were about to dash straight up towards it, but at that moment, another Hydra agent jumped out from another room. He'd somehow managed to find the blowtorches that had been used to trap them earlier for their brief capture when they'd personally stormed the base by themselves, and was now using them to let out great jets and streams of fire. Steve and Jamie both had to duck for cover in the entryway of another side room to avoid getting roasted.
"Swear word, Captain! But I'm going to ignore it for the moment… What do we now?" Jamie said, chancing a sparing peek back out into the hall as she spoke to catch a glimpse of the guard.
The Hydra agent was still steadily walking towards them, and the flamethrowers were still pretty hot and powerful. In a matter of mere seconds, he'd be able to turn and incinerate them both alive.
Before Steve could answer her, the sound of rapid gunfire suddenly resounded throughout the hallway, and hastily followed by a rather loud explosion. Steve and Jamie both winced when they felt the heat wave from the explosion zoom right past them in their temporary hiding spot. As soon as the heat and flames died off, they ran out from their hiding spot and looked out. More Americans being led by Agent Carter were making their way down the hall and past the flaming dead body of the Hydra soldier that had been using the blowtorches.
Steve and Jamie both smiled when saw her.
"Agent Carter!" called out Jamie eagerly.
"Liberty Belle," said Agent Carter kindly. Then she looked up expectantly at Steve.
He just grinned at her. "You're late," he said simply.
She smiled somewhat shyly. But then she remembered where they currently were.
"Weren't you both about to—?"
"Right!" Steve agreed. He nodded in farewell to the woman who had long since captured his heart, and seized hold of Jamie's free hand before dragging her behind him for a couple seconds until he was certain that she, too, was actually running alongside him again. They were heading in the direction that the Red Skull had fled, and they only stopped for a quick spell when Steve had to dislodge his shield from being stuck between the electronic doors.
They both hurried between them before they could close, and when they did close, they closed with a brief snap, as though they were shutting the door on anything that would possibly stop them from chasing the Red Skull to the fiery pits of hell.
They ran and ran on together until they reached the end of this second hallway. At the end of it was a large aircraft hanger. There was one massive aircraft that was gathering up power in its engines. It was beginning to move out from where it was stationed in the open hanger, and starting to head towards the outside, snowy mountainous world.
"The Valkyrie…" Jamie whispered, a tiny bit awestruck by the sheer size of the airplane. She'd never seen the plane in person before, but somehow, she just knew that she was right. This was the massive plane that she'd only received bits and pieces of information about.
Steve didn't say anything in reply. He just nodded and motioned for Jamie to follow. They didn't have time to stop and chat about it. The Red Skull was on that airship, and he was speeding up on his plans to wipe out all of America. They had to stop him.
But before they could do that, they had to reach the plane first, and the only way to do that was by getting across the large battlefield in the hanger of the American army versus the Hydra agents. To the surprise of many, Steve and Jamie were completely unfazed by the possible danger of running straight into the line of fire. With determined yells from the adult and child super-soldiers, Steve and Jamie both charged straight into the middle of the battlefield in their unwavering effort to reach that plane. Any Hydra agents that attempted to bar their path would either find themselves whacked aside by Steve's mighty strong shield, or quickly burned by either Jamie's flaming sword or fireballs.
As they started approaching some discarded ammunition crates in all the pandemonium, Steve suddenly noticed a large chain hanging over it, large and loose enough to swing on. He smirked as an idea came to my head.
"Jamie! On my back!" he shouted.
Jamie didn't know what he was planning to do right then, but she knew he had a plan. She didn't even ask him to stop so she could climb onto his back. There was no time. She just onto him as they kept on running.
"Hold on tight!" he ordered.
He ran right up to the box, leaped on top of it, and grabbed hold of the chain as he jumped off again. The Dynamic Duo soared through the air high over the battlegrounds. Many people stopped battling for half-a-second when they saw the superhero mentor and sidekick fly over them, but they really didn't have time to marvel at the sight. This was war, and if they hesitated for more than a second while during combat, they'd surely die. They just grinned at the two super-soldiers before continuing to fight.
When the chain finally stretched at the end of the line, Steve jumped off of it before it could go completely taut. He barely allowed Jamie to clamber down off his back before he grabbed her hand and began dragging her along so they could keep running again. Thanks to his quick thinking with the chain, they'd mainly cleared the vast majority of the battlefield, and they could not dash as fast as they could toward the airship without any further interruptions. With the exception of when Jamie had been escaping from the Hydra base she'd been imprisoned in, she and Steve were pushing themselves faster than either of them had ever dared to go before, pushing their biologically enhanced superior bodies to the utmost limits so they could force their legs to run even faster than that. But it was no use. Despite how genetically altered they may be to be the world's perfect adult and child soldiers, even they — at their top speeds — were unable to match the speed of an airship that had been designed to reach over a hundred miles per hour in a few short seconds.
Jamie soon had to tug her hand out of Steve's grip as she came to a complete stop, bending over double with the hand not clutching her torch on her knees while she struggled to catch her breath.
"I… I can't…" she heavily wheezed out. "I can't… keep going…!"
Steve turned when he felt her hand leave his. He, too, was out of breath, and was heavily panting as he stared after the Valkyrie.
"We… we can't let Schmidt get away…" he breathed.
"But… what can we do?" said Jamie, glancing back up at him. "We'll… we'll never catch up to… to the plane!"
But luck was on their side. No sooner had the words left her lips did a sleek black car suddenly come whirling up next to them, and came to a stop by their sides. Colonel Phillips was in the front seat and driving, and in the backseat was Agent Carter.
"Both of you! Get in!" the Colonel shouted.
Steve and Jamie didn't need to be told twice. In fact, Steve didn't even give his young protégé a chance to even obey the command. He simply scooped her off her feet, and literally dropped in the backseat beside Agent Carter before leaping over the door and getting into the front seat beside Colonel Phillips. Phillips didn't even wait until Steve was fully seated before he began zooming off after the plane.
The car was apparently Hydra made, because the Colonel clicked a button beside the steering wheel while in the midst of still failing to catch up to the Valkyrie, and the car suddenly lurched forward with an extra bout of speed. Thanks to that curious discovery, they were catching up to the plane, which by now was almost reaching the outside world to begin lift off. Colonel Phillips all but slammed his foot down on the gas pedal to force the car to drive even faster.
Steve slowly rose up from his seat, and began climbing out of the car so as to be standing on the exterior part of the passenger door, but made sure to keep one hand firmly on the dashboard to avoid falling out. He shot a quick look at Jamie over his shoulder still sitting in the backseat.
"On by back!" he ordered his sidekick again. She nodded, and as she moved to stand back up, he turned to the Colonel. "Keep it steady!" he shouted.
"Wait!" shouted Agent Carter suddenly.
Steve turned back around, and Jamie stopped attempting to stand. The first thing Agent Carter did was grab Jamie and hug her tightly. In almost the full year she'd known the little girl, she come to think of her almost like her like she was a member of her own family. She wanted to say a proper goodbye to the girl before she went off with Steve.
Speaking of Steve, just as soon as she released Jamie, she gently grabbed Steve's shoulder to bring her down closer to her, and then pressed her lips against his. It wasn't one of those mind-blowing kisses that you read about in books or the kiss of true love that you see in the movies. It was just a quick, loving kiss. Not a kiss that meant it was goodbye forever since the man she loved was about to go into what could very well be his last battle.
It was kiss that promised that there would be more to come. It was a 'see you later,' kiss.
Sure enough, as soon as she pulled back from Steve after no more than a few seconds, she smiled warmly to him.
"Go get him! Both of you!" she said encouragingly.
Steve was actually a bit taken aback. He'd never imagined that the first time he kissed Agent Carter would be in a car in front of Jamie and Colonel Phillips, and while they were driving to catch up to a plane that Hydra had built to carry a great number of bombs that would wipe out the entire Eastern Seaboard of America.
Jamie, giggling and scrambling to climb onto his back, snapped him out of his slight shock.
"Come on!" she urged. "You can kiss her again later! After we win!"
To everyone's surprise, Colonel Phillips actually agreed with her, because he started laughing.
"Yeah! I'm not kissing or hugging either of you!"
Steve blushed, but quickly threw his shield over Jamie on his back to protect her. They were going to have to slide underneath some of the rapidly rotating propellers to get up there.
Sure enough, as the car drove forwards to the plane, Steve had to slam his entire body on the hood of the car to avoid being beheaded by the propellers as they approached them. Jamie whimpered a bit, but kept both her hands, including the one holding her torch, wrapped firmly around his neck and did not move her head even an inch from where she tucked it in. One wrong move as Steve slid underneath the propellers, and she could be dead.
The Colonel helped as best as he could. He couldn't drive the car too fast or else he or Agent Carter would be torn to shreds by the fast moving blades, but he did jerk the car forward a few more inches to help Steve and Jamie safely slide out from that dangerous spot. It worked. Within a second, the two of them were away from the blades, and Steve was leaping onto the back wheels of the ship as it slowly took off from the ground.
As they took off into the air, Steve and Jamie took a moment to spare a glance back behind them. The car, thank God, had managed to skid to a halt at the very end of the runway. Although they were now so far up and off the ground that they could barely see Colonel Phillips and Agent Carter, they two super-soldiers knew without a doubt that they were still down there and looking up at both of their dangling bodies as the plane flew away from the mountain, most likely praying to the heavens that they would survive this last mission and at last put an end to the reign of the Red Skull.
"Do not let go of me, Liberty!" Steve shouted to Jamie over the roaring wind. "No matter what! Do not let go of me!"
"I won't, Captain!" Jamie shouted back. She wrapped her arms even tighter around Steve's neck to emphasize that she wouldn't.
Slowly, Steve — still carrying Jamie on his back with his shield strapped over her — began to climb up the metal riggings that connected the back wheels to the rest of the ship, searching desperately for a way to get both of them inside. Just then, an area underneath the ship suddenly opened up.
"Why'd it open?" Jamie shouted curiously.
"I'm not sure," Steve shouted back. "Let's just get in!"
Jamie nodded, and he climbed further up the plane. Within a couple minutes, he was hoisting his body through the new hole, and quickly unstrapped his shield from his back so Jamie could climb down.
They seemed to have climbed into what appeared to be the cargo hold of the plane. Very quietly, the two of them crept along the darkened storage area. They were amazed to discover that there was tons of tiny, one-manned operated atomic bomb missiles in here, and each one of them was labeled for which American city it would be striking: Boston, Chicago, Atlanta, Miami, and, worst of all, Steve and Jamie's home city of New York.
Jamie couldn't stop the alarmed gasp that escaped her lips. "The Red Skull… he's planning to have Hydra agents pilot each of these at each city!" she whispered in horror. Steve did not respond at all to her statement. He was simply too shocked to say anything.
A door suddenly opened from somewhere nearby, and Steve and Jamie both quickly ducked for cover. There was a sudden sound of various, swift footsteps, and then they watched as a few Hydra agents entered the room and move toward the missiles. They were getting ready to do what Jamie had just guessed: pilot each missile at its intended city on the Eastern Coast of the U.S.A. They couldn't just sneak quietly past these guards. They needed to stop them now so those missiles would never leave the ship.
The two of them promptly sprang into action. As soon as the last two guards passed by their hiding spot, Steve and Jamie both leaped forward and knocked the two of them out. The other Hydra agents whirled around, shocked to see Captain America and Liberty Belle on the plane. The nearest guard quickly unsheathed a knife from its holster on his hip, and made a quick jab in Jamie's direction. Jamie ducked to avoid the blade, and as soon as she leapt back up, she hurtled her torch out towards the guard and whacked him in the face with it.
The Hydra agent went tumbling backwards as the agent behind him came rushing forwards. Steve took over, and sent a powerful kick right at his abdomen. The agent went sprawling to the metallic floor of the plane as the last member took off running towards the nearest missile.
"Not so fast!" Jamie shouted.
As the agent whose nose she'd broken with her torch tried to shakily stand back up, she hit him again to stop him momentarily and seized the knife he had tried to stab her with out of his hands. She aimed carefully in the span of one second, and sent it flying towards the escaping Hydra agent. Thankfully, she did not miss, and the knife sank deep into the enemy's back. It wouldn't kill him, but he'd definitely be in too much pain to try and get up. She had no time to celebrate her victory, though, as the agent from before was trying to attack her again.
Meanwhile, one of the Hydra agents that Steve and Jamie thought they'd knocked out when they first surprised them got to his feet and made a beeline to the missile intended to strike Chicago. Steve shoved aside the agent he'd been fighting hand-to-hand with, and dashed over to what looked like the control panel, and pressed the button that opened the doors underneath the Chicago missile. The agent was still in the process of climbing inside, and he scrambled to grab hold of the pipes hanging above him as the missile fell harmlessly down in into the North Atlantic. He was not strong enough to keep holding on, and he, too, fell down into the gaping hole right behind it, screaming at the top of his lungs the entire way.
The remaining two guards continued attacking Steve and Jamie. Finally, Jamie managed to grab hold of the arms of the agent that'd been attacking her.
"Captain!" Jamie called out to Steve over her shoulder. "Captain! Help me with this jerk!"
Abandoning his fight with the other Hydra agent for the moment, Steve ran towards Jamie and the Hydra operative she had pinned down. He grabbed the guard by the waist, and Steve threw him out into the suction of the gaping hole where the missile to Chicago had once been previously.
The last Hydra agent, however, took Steve's moment to assist Jamie as an opportunity. Before Steve or Jamie could do anything to try and stop him, he scrambled to get inside the missile bound for New York, and began firing it up.
"Liberty! Stay here! Make sure the others don't fly off in the rest!" Steve ordered Jamie, tossing his young apprentice his shield. As the missile began to descend down from the plane and into the blue sky, Steve dived on top of it as another guard jumped on top of him, and began trying to break apart the glass that protected the thug from the wind whipping past as he tried to steer the missile.
Left alone on the sidelines for Steve to somehow miraculously return, Jamie set down her torch and her mentor's shield, and ran up to the control panel. She had to get rid of the rest of the bombs. It didn't matter if Steve managed to stop that one particular atomic bomb missile. So long as the rest were still here on the plane, the other Hydra agents could wake up at any given time and go pilot them. She really didn't have the slightest clue about which buttons to press, but she pressed everything on the control panel once. Lights flashed overhead each bomb, but the doors underneath them opened, and they all fell harmlessly out of the Valkyrie and into the water below.
With that finally done, Jamie retrieved her torch and Steve's shield, and then moved to stand a bit closer to one of the gaping holes and see what was going on during Steve's sky battle on top of the missile. By the looks of it, he was first trying to get the guard that had him pinned down on top of the missile off of him, and the guard inside the missile was doing some loop-the-loops to shake Steve off. He didn't care that it would also kill his coworker, too. He just wanted the famed Captain America off his missile-plane so he could do his job.
Steve managed to grab hold of one of the wings of the tiny plane to prevent himself from falling off, but the other guard wasn't so lucky. He screamed as he fell through the rapidly moving blades of the propellers. There was nothing left of him after he'd gone all the way through. Just a lot of blood falling through the air behind the bomb and stickily coated on the blades. Steve didn't look back at that. He just forced open the hatch leading into the bomb. The Hydra agent inside was startled, but was unable to stop his assailant from grasping the emergency escape lever, and the plane sent him flying out of it and further up into the sky momentarily before tumbling back down over thirty thousand feet in the air towards the blue sea.
Jamie watched anxiously as Steve then climbed inside the one-person seat of the missile, and closed the hatch behind him with a snap. She felt really useless. There was nothing she could do to help him right now. She watched as he began flying the missile back in the direction of the main plane. As he did, swift blasts of blue energy began firing from the main weapons of the plane itself and straight towards Steve. Her hands flew to her mouth to keep from screaming in fear as she watched her kind mentor fly the bomb to avoid the blasts.
Why, oh why did she have to be so useless? There was nothing she could do to help him right now, she knew, but that just made her feel so pathetically useless.
Steve flew through the clouds as he dodged the blue beams of energy while trying to get back to the Valkyrie. He was not concerned at all. He was going way too fast for those blasters to hit him. And he could see the main opening back into the plane. He tilted the control stick down another inch, forcing the plane to go even faster. Just another few seconds, a few more seconds and he'd back inside.
He tilted the control stick down a bit more and—
Crash! The entire bomb went zooming through the large hole as he crashed landed it back inside the airships' hangar. Jamie screamed a bit in worry as she tightened her hold on his shield and her torch, and ran right up to the missile.
"Cap!" she squealed as Steve popped out of the hatch and began to climb out. "Captain! A-are you hurt?!"
"Don't worry, Libby. I'm fine," he replied, taking his shield back from his protégé. "Sorry for scaring you."
"No kidding! I thought… I thought maybe you were dead when I saw you crash back in here!"
"Sorry," he muttered. "But enough about me. We need to go take care of Schmidt."
Together, Steve and Jamie slipped quietly down the main passage of the Valkyrie in their efforts to find the cockpit. It took them a couple minutes, but they found the door, and Steve silently opened it a few inches so he and his partner could peek inside. It was a large room, the cockpit, with an enormous front window for the pilot to look out of, and the control panel of the plane was directly against it, though hidden away a bit by a great black chair. That was no doubt where Schmidt was right now. Sitting there and steering the massive plane. Several feet behind it in the exact center of the room there was a rather large pedestal glowing with bright blue light and energy. The same type of blue energy rays that was seen whenever a Hydra weapon was fired.
They had to keep quiet. The Red Skull might hear them if they were to say anything or make a possible loud noise, so Steve and Jamie crept along quietly down the few short stairs leading back up to the hallway, passed by the strange pedestal, and all but tiptoed up to the chair. Silently, the two super-soldiers raised their shield and torch, both of them prepared to strike within a moments notice, but to their immense surprise, the chair was empty. They had no time to dwell on this though, as a noise suddenly sprang up behind them. They both whirled around to see the Red Skull aiming a large Hydra weapon at them.
Jamie's enhanced eyes were able to calculate the approximate speed of the energy blasted toward her and Steve the second the Red Skull, and easily, but also swiftly, she twirled away out of the range of the blast long before the energy was anywhere near her. Steve just swiftly raised his shield as a means of defense in the nick of time. The attack bounced harmlessly off the vibranium metal. The Red Skull laughed when he saw they were both unharmed.
"You two don't give up, do you?" he sneered.
"Nope!" said Steve angrily.
"Never to you!" cried Jamie furiously.
They both charged straight toward him. The Red Skull continuously kept firing off great beams of blue energy at the Dynamic Duo, but Jamie would effortlessly twirl out of their designated paths or Steve would simply deflect the beams with his shield. They ran like this until they were both directly in front of him.
Steve made the opening move. He first knocked the Hydra weapon out of the Red Skull's hands with his shield still on his arm, and then tried to whack the red-skinned man upside the head with it. While the Red Skull was unable to prevent Steve from knocking aside his weapon, he was also a genetically engineered person himself, and was able to block the strike to his head. Jamie then tried to launch a kick into his abdomen, but he easily dodged the child's attack, and did not hesitate to punch her in the jaw. She stumbled back woozily from the force of the blow. The Red Skull tried to hit her again, but Steve jumped in front of his young apprentice to protect her, and began exchanging punches with the grand leader of Hydra. It took her a couple seconds to regain her composure, but she found it relatively quickly, and moved to rejoin her mentor in fighting the evil man.
In all of Jamie's battles since becoming the child super-soldier known as Liberty Belle, this battle against the Red Skull was by far the toughest one she'd ever faced. Even though it was a two-against-one fight, Steve and the Red Skull were both adults and were therefore evenly matched when pitted against each other. She, on the other hand despite also being genetically enhanced, too, was still just a little girl. She was never created to fight up against an older, genetically enhanced person such as the Red Skull, or even Steve for that matter. Erskine's formula, which had been designed specifically for her because she was still only a kid, had been made so that as she grew up, she'd one day grow to be even stronger than Steve. She had been designed to one day surpass him by spending approximately the next ten years of her life in strict physical training. She was very strong already, no doubt about it, but she'd only trained alongside Steve in brief spells this past year. She'd first spent the beginning few months of her new life performing on that USO tour Senator Brandt had arranged, and then after rescuing Trent, Bucky, the other Howling Commandos, and those other four hundred plus men from that Hydra factory back in November, she had been sent straight out onto the battlefield. Steve was her boxing mentor in addition to being her Captain America mentor. He taught her everything he could in addition to training himself, but he'd never had a long stretch of time to ever really train his young protégé as she was supposed to be trained in order to one day surpass him. There had never been enough time.
She could hold her own for the moment while fighting against the Red Skull, but that was only because she was fighting alongside Steve. She was quite certain that if she were fighting him one-on-one, she would surely lose.
Jamie could literally feel her tiny, hardly trained body tiring fast as the fighting continued. Her muscles were screaming for reprieve, and every spot in her body where the Red Skull managed to land a strike on her ached greatly. She made a weak attempt to try and leap backwards and out of the way of the fight just for a moment in order to try and catch her breath, but the Red Skull noticed that she was tiring, and took advantage of it. He seized one of her arms, and threw her straight towards a nearby pillar. She struck it hard, and fell rather ungracefully down onto the floor of the aircraft. She lost her grip on her small torch when she landed, and it rolled a slight distance away from her.
"Liberty!" Steve shouted.
He tried to run to her, but the Red Skull blocked his path, and made an attempt to knock his shield out of his hands. Despite how worried he was about Jamie after landing like she had against the pillar, he had no choice but to continue fighting. He leapt backwards to avoid the blow, and tried to kick his and Jamie's arch-nemesis in the chest.
Everything in Jamie's line of vision blurred before her eyes as she struggled to sit back up again. Even though she was physically spent from pushing her genetically enhanced body to its utmost limits in this battle, the pain in her body from hitting the pillar really didn't hurt as much as it should have. It was simply that she knocked her head against it when she landed. She was pretty sure she didn't have a concussion, but it would take her a moment or so to collect her bearings again. As she struggled to refocus her eyes again, she watched, a bit dazed, as Steve shoved the Red Skull up against the control panels to the aircraft. He fell against them, and accidentally bumped the steering wheel down. Jamie sensed the plane beginning to tilt downwards a bit, and she barely had enough time to seize hold of her torch and cling tightly upon the bars of some piping close to her before the entire aircraft began a rapid nosedive downwards.
Steve and the Red Skull were not holding onto anything at the time of the sudden rapid descent of the plane, and they were both sent hurtling back up against the back wall from the abrupt change in gravity. They didn't care about their current predicament; they just began wrestling together on the wall. They exchanged some more punches and kicks at each other, but the Red Skull managed to score one lucky good jab, and Steve was sent flying right beside Jamie.
Jamie knew she couldn't just sit here and not doing anything. She had to try and help. She raised her torch, and fired off a couple of fireballs in the direction of the red-skinned villain. The Red Skull was successfully able to dodge most of them, but part of one did manage to graze the side of his arm as he tried to claw his way back up against the ceiling and one of the walls to reach the control panel and level out the plane. He growled a bit from the burn, clearly in pain, but judging by the twisted, angered expression upon his scarlet-colored face, not as much as she would have hoped him to be.
Having defied the forces of gravity, the Red Skull managed to make his way back up to the controls, and quickly fixed the steering wheel so that the plane was nice and even again. All three of them were sent plunging back onto the ground as the plane straightened out once more.
Steve quickly got back up on his feet again, but Jamie struggled to stand. She was still a tad bit dizzy from hitting her head. The Red Skull did not care that she was still out of commission from her injury. He could tell that she was still rather dazed and confused. He drew a small Hydra pistol from its holster on his hip, and aimed it directly at her.
"You both could have the power of the Gods!" he roared. Steve saw where and whom he was aiming at: Jamie, his little protégé. He barely had enough time to scoop the little girl up in his arms and leap out of the way before he fired. Blue energy zapped through the air, and hit the pillar they'd just been standing next to.
"Thanks, Cap," she moaned, rubbing the tender spot on her head. Her vision was clearer now, but still dancing a bit.
"Quick! Get on my back!" Steve ordered. Jamie did not hesitate to comply. She knew she was in no condition to so much as stand up by herself at the moment. The Red Skull fired the Hydra pistol again, and Jamie clung to Steve's neck tightly as he dodged another beam of blue energy. He had to reach his shield again. He'd lost in between the shift of gravity and the wrestle on the ceiling.
"Yet the two of you wear flags on your chests and think you fight a battle of nations!" the Red Skull continued, firing again. Again, Steve dodged the attack. "I have seen the future, Captain, Liberty! There are no flags!" He aimed again, but this time, Steve ducked to avoid the beam.
"Not our future!" Steve shouted back.
"It's your delusional fantasy!" Jamie all but screamed.
As Steve jumped to the side to avoid another blast, Jamie forced her eyes to focus, and raised her torched high and true around Steve so he wouldn't get hurt, and fired off more fireballs in the Red Skull's direction. As Steve reached his shield lying on the floor back near the stairs, the Red Skull dodged Jamie's attack, and tried firing again at the adult and child super-soldiers. Now at last reunited with his shield, Steve held up his shield and deflected the attack, and then sent his weapon whirling directly at him.
Even the Red Skull was incapable of dodging this attack in time. It struck him straight in the chest, and he was sent flying backward, landing hard on his back against the pedestal still giving off that strange blue light. All at once, there was a great surge of blue energy around the pedestal upon his impact, and he was sent flying away from it, but this time it was because of the shockwave of energy.
Steve allowed Jamie to slide off his back since she was feeling better, but when she tried to take a step forward to get a closer look at what was happening, his arm quickly barred her path. He didn't know what was going on exactly, but if whatever that light was turned out to be dangerous, he did not want her anywhere near it.
The two of them watched as great amounts of blue energy surged up and around the small pedestal, and then something slowly rose up from somewhere deep inside it. It was small holding shelf, it seemed, and upon it, there was a very small, brightly glowing light blue cube that seemed to be formed of pure waves of blue energy all mixed together. It looked compact enough to be held in just one hand if needed, and it seemed like it gave off great amounts of power.
Jamie's eyes widened when she saw the Cube. She knew immediately what it was, even if Steve didn't. There'd been an entire section in that Norse mythology book she'd bought herself that explained what it was. She'd even proposed to Colonel Phillips and the other adults in the base that this could be what Hydra was using to power its weapons, but Phillips hadn't believed her. He said it was just a legend. How wrong he'd been, it seemed.
"The Tesseract…" she whispered, staring at the legendary cube from Norse mythology in complete awe.
Steve briefly glanced down at her in confusion. Unlike her, he wasn't sure what that thing was exactly. The Red Skull, on the other hand, was staring horrified at the suddenly exposed Cosmic Cube.
"What have you two done? No!" he cried.
Steve and Jamie didn't answer him. They didn't know what that meant, not even Jamie. She may have read about the Tesseract briefly in her Norse mythology book, but other than that, she didn't know all that much about it. Not as much as the Red Skull did, apparently.
Their enemy stepped forward, and picked the Cube up. He began inspecting it to see if there was any damage done to it. After a few seconds of this, the Tesseract began glowing brightly. All three people in the cockpit stared, transfixed, as great spasms of blue energy began rising up out of the Tesseract. They all jumbled together directly above him, creating what looked to be a large portal, because on the other side of the portal and from where they were standing, Steve and Jamie could catch a quick glimpse of the great, infinite cosmos.
As the energy continued building up from around the Tesseract, Jamie tore her eyes away from the sight and looked up at Steve.
"Captain! What's going on?!" she screamed, greatly frightened.
Steve just shrugged, but did not look away. He honestly had no idea.
"I'm not sure!" he yelled back.
Again, the energy kept gathering. It gathered together so much that it began to burn through the glove the Red Skull was using to hold the Cube, and he began to scream in pain. The burning did not just stop in his hand. It traveled up through his arm, and then towards the rest of his body and face, and the Red Skull continued to yell in pain.
There was a great flash of white light. Steve abruptly looked away in order to shield his eyes, but Jamie did not dare to look away from the sight. She didn't care if this light permanently blinded her. She needed to see this. She watched, mystified and yet thoroughly confused, as the white light began to slowly devour the Red Skull's whole body. He arched his entire body backward, roaring in pain, as he was literally burned alive. More blue energy erupted from the Tesseract. He was lifted a few feet up into the air, and then, with an even greater flash of light than before, he vanished completely.
Jamie blinked several times, clearing away the spots dancing in front of her eyes as Steve finally dared to look back at where the Red Skull had been standing not even ten seconds ago. Unlike their arch-nemesis, the Tesseract hadn't disappeared with a flash of light. It was still there, hovering in midair. Neither Steve nor Jamie dared to approach it after what had just happened. The Red Skull had touched it, and now there wasn't a trace of him to be seen. Then, quite unexpectedly, it dropped from the air, and fell upon the metallic flooring of the plane. The blue energy is was made of burned right through the metal, and it fell again, this time through the entire metal framework of the plane, and down over thirty thousand feet in the air into the vast, endless ocean far below.
"He's… he's gone…" Jamie whispered, very much shocked. She glanced down at the hole left behind in the floor from the Tesseract. "It's gone…"
Steve didn't reply to her shocked comments. He simply strolled forward, collected his shield from where it fell after striking the now missing Red Skull, and then hurried forward toward the controls of the plane.
"Jamie!" he said, setting down his shield and hurrying to yank off his cowl as he slumped down in the pilot's seat. "Come on! We have to figure out a way to land this thing!"
"Y-yes, Steve!" she said, snapping out of her shock.
She ran up beside him, and set her torch down beside his shield before taking off her own mask and spiked crown. She wished there was another seat in the plane so she could sit down, too, but she would not ask to trade places. Between the two of them, he was probably the only one who could figure out what to do with all the complicated-looking controls.
"W-where are we, right now?" Jamie asked anxiously as Steve began examining the displays on the control panel. He looked a bit overwhelmed by all the displays and buttons, but she continued talking. "How far are we exactly from New York?"
Steve didn't answer her right away. He just kept looking at all the different flashing lights and monitors. Finally, he spoke. "In answer to your first question, I think we're coming up on Greenland…"
"Yeah… as for your other question, I don't know exactly, but if I were to guess judging how fast this thing's flying, we'll be there pretty soon…"
"If this isn't a time for swearing, then I don't know what is…" Steve paused at that, seemingly lost in thought. Then he remembered something. "Quick! Turn on your mouthpiece! We need to contact the rest of the squad!"
Jamie nodded, and clicked the small mouthpiece in her ear on at the same time as Steve.
"Come in," said Steve earnestly into his tiny microphone. "This is Captain Rogers. I am with Lieutenant Harper. Do you read me?"
"Captain Rogers, Lieutenant Harper," they heard someone that sounded suspiciously like Jim say back. "What is your—"
"Steve, is that you?" they heard Agent Carter say suddenly, cutting Jim off completely. "Are you all right? Is Jamie with you? Is she hurt?"
"I'm here, Agent Carter! We're both fine, don't worry!" said Jamie at once.
"Peggy," added Steve excitedly. "Schmidt's dead!"
Jamie gave him a puzzled look at those words. She didn't understand why Steve told her that. They didn't actually kill the Red Skull. It was more like the Tesseract had somehow transported the super villain to some other faraway dimension. She opened her mouth to clarify this to Agent Carter, but Agent Carter was already talking again.
"What about the plane?"
She and Steve exchanged uneasy looks at that question. "That's… a little bit tougher to explain," said Steve after a moment.
"Give me your coordinates," said Agent Carter. "I'll find you two a safe landing site."
Steve tried to look over the many displays to figure out which one was listing the planes' coordinates, but his eyes soon fell upon another display. The display that showed the number of missiles that were still on board. Jamie noticed which display he was looking at, and took hold of his hand, squeezing it gently. They both had reached the exact same conclusion. If they were to continue flying this plane, those missiles would soon detach, and would eventually go off to hit the major cities on the entire east coast of their beloved United States.
"I… I don't think there's going to be a safe landing, Agent Carter," said Jamie somewhat nervously.
"Jamie's right," Steve agreed. "But I can try and force it down."
"I'll get Howard on the line," she replied promptly, but they could both hear the nervousness in her voice. "He'll know what to do."
"There's not enough time," Steve said back. "This thing's moving too fast and it's heading for New York."
Steve hesitated after this. He knew what he had to do, but not only did he not want to say it to Agent Carter, he'd also be saying it in front of Jamie, and he did not want to scare her. Jamie… she was only ten-years-old. She'd told him earlier that day that she'd be turning eleven next month. She had a whole life ahead of her. He didn't care all that much what happened to him, but she did not deserve this. She may be a genetically enhanced child super-soldier, but at the end of the day, that's exactly what she was: a child. No child deserved to die just so others could live.
Jamie seemed to realize what he was thinking, and squeezed his hand again to get his attention. He turned to look at her, and was surprised to see the kind, although still a bit frightened smile on her face. She tapped here earpiece to say the words that her mentor did not have the courage to say.
"Steve has to put her in the water," she said, forcing her voice to remain strong.
"Please, don't do this," said Agent Carter, and this time, there was definitely desperation in her words. "We have time. We can work it out."
"Right now, Jamie and I are in the middle of nowhere," Steve said. "If I wait any longer, a lot of people are gonna die."
There was a long silence from the other end of the transmission. They both knew that Agent Carter knew that they were right. She just didn't like that they were. Jamie tapped her mentor on the shoulder, and then nodded to him. This was to be his final goodbye to the woman he loved. He shouldn't waste it.
Steve smiled to his young protégé, and then continued talking into the mic.
"Peggy," he said softly, "this is our choice."
Again, there was no reply from the kind young woman.
Very carefully, Steve took out his compass with Agent Carter's photo inside it, and Jamie rummaged around in the pockets of her dress until she found her brother's pocket watch. They both opened the tiny trinkets so they could look at the photographs during these last final minutes, and placed them on the dashboard of the control panel. Steve then slid over a bit in his seat so Jamie could sit down beside him. As Jamie took his silent offer, he adjusted the steering wheel, forcing the plane to make a fast nosedive downwards.
"Peggy?" Steve called out again.
"I'm gonna need a rain check on that dance."
"All right," she said sadly in reply, and Steve and Jamie could both hear the tears in her voice. "A week, next Saturday, at the Stork Club."
"You got it."
"Eight o'clock on the dot," she made sure to add. "Don't you dare be late. Understood?"
Steve lightly chuckled. "You know, I still don't know how to dance," he said.
"I'll show you how. Just be there," she said faintly.
"We'll have the band play something slow," he promised. "I'd hate to step on your feet…"
There was a sad laugh on the other end of the line.
Jamie had just been staying quiet this entire time. She didn't want to ruin this last farewell between her mentor and Agent Carter, so she just smiled sadly at her brother's picture. She would be joining him in just a few minutes, after all. As the plane broke the cloud coverage, however, an awful thought crept into her head as she looked down at the rapidly approaching field of icy glaciers floating on the waves.
She didn't want to be rude and ruin this moment between the two adults, but she had to. This was important. She couldn't die here on this plane without asking this.
"A-Agent Carter!" she said quickly. Steve looked down at her in surprise, but she paid him no mind. "Agent Carter! I-I-I'm sorry to interrupt, but… but this important!"
"Jamie?" repeated the British woman, still sounding sad, but now also puzzled by the interruption.
"Again, I'm sorry, but… I need you to do me something for me!"
"Anything, Jamie. What?"
"It's just… I know that there'll never be a proper burial for Trent, but… But can you arrange for there to be a memorial stone of some kind beside my parents graves…?"
There was a long silence from the opposite end. Even Steve was looking surprised by the request. No one expected her to ask that.
Jamie took the silence the wrong way, and began to cry.
"I… I understand if it's impossible… I understand…"
"No, Jamie," said Agent Carter quickly. "No, of course I'll do that for you. I promise."
"Thank you!" Jamie began to sob. "Thank you, Agent Carter… My parents! My parent's names are Brandon Reid Harper and Catherine Reid Harper… They're buried next to each other in Cypress Hills Cemetery… Have the memorial stone put up next to their graves!"
"I'll arrange everything, don't you worry," Agent Carter assured her. "Is… Is there anything in particular you'd like to have inscribed on it?"
"Yes…" Jamie whispered as the plane began to quickly drop down on a particularly long stretch of ice. "Trenton Anthony Harper, amazing baseball player, beloved son, and… and the world's best big brother…"
"Of course. Consider it done."
Jamie sobbed again. "Thank you… Thank you so much…"
And with that, she shut off the link.
Steve looked over at her. They'd be in the ice field within the next minute. He tried to pat her shoulder. He didn't want her to cry.
"Come… Josephine…" she suddenly began singing between her tears. "In my… flying machine… And it's up she goes… Up she goes…"
Steve frowned. He would not have that. He would let her think in her last minute on earth that it was all right to take a song she generally loved and twist it into a way that would haunt her as she died. It was her favorite song. So long as he was sitting here beside her, he'd comfort her some in other way than that.
"Shh," he whispered, gently removing one of his hands from the steering wheel, and wrapping it around her shoulders.
Jamie looked up at him with teary eyes. She was so scared. She knew that this was necessary to save the lives of a countless number of people, but she couldn't stop the tears from flowing down her face.
"Steve…" she sobbed. "I'm scared…"
Steve gently smiled at her. "Me too," he admitted.
With a loud sob, she promptly wrapped her arms around his middle, and buried her face into his Captain America uniform as the plane descended down onto the ice, unwilling to look at the ground as they crashed.