"Меня зовут доктор Гертруда Ида."
Her name is Doctor Gertrude Ida.
"Я был назначен, чтобы оценить вас."
She says she's been assigned to evaluate me.
"Можете ли вы сказать мне, в каком году это?"
She asks me to tell her what year it is —
I don't know what year it is.
"Год девятнадцать сорок семь."
Why does that sound familiar?
"Вы можете сказать мне свое имя?"
The doctor asks me to recite my name —
Why would they ask that?
"Ваше имя Джеймс Бьюкенен Барнс."
"My name," I spit out, "is Bucky."
Electricity surges through my arms —
I clamp my eyes shut as fire races along my skin, burning and cutting into muscle-deep into my flesh —
I let out a scream, needing some sort of release from this pain —
A crash of metal on metal fills the room —
Doctor Ida leapt from her chair —
"What are you doing?!" She yells in Russian. "Turn it off!"
She continues barking orders at the technicians until the whir of the machines die down and finally —
God, finally, the pain subsides, dulling to a numb ache.
I draw deep breaths. Each longer and more full than the previous.
My body tingles.
I look at the doctor standing before me.
She's not who I expected her to be.
She's not Zola. She doesn't look at me like he did, like I'm one of his experiments. She evaluates me, collecting data and writing it in the red book in her hands, but she's not cold or cruel which is… unusual for someone who works for HYDRA. Her eyes roam over my chest to my arms strapped in metal restraints beside me. Something about her is familiar but since I was last wiped, I can't place how I know her.
Which is good because I don't want to know. The more I know, the more they erase what I've learned. But they never seem to erase what they've taught me.
And yet —
I find myself staring.
Judging by the evenness of her skin, she's twenty-seven years old. She has a slim frame but a strong build, approximately 153 pounds when taking her muscle mass into consideration. And there's a smooth air about her as she stands with her shoulders back and her head held high. Her face is round, her features soft, and her eyes kind.
Why is someone like her working for HYDRA?
Why did she order them to stop?
The metal door to the chamber creaks opens and I don't look away from her as she turns to face the Commander.
"Why did you stop?" He demands, marching into the room.
I eye the open door behind him.
"Sergeant Barnes is displaying regularities in his paternal behavior," she explains, Russian effortlessly rolling off her tongue. "There is no need to force his submission."
"He shouldn't have been speaking in English," Commander Ida spits.
The doctor takes in a breath. "Sir, nothing was wrong — "
"During his last mission, he disabled twelve of my men! Something is definitely wrong!"
"He accomplished his assignment, did he not?"
"At the casualty of his actions!"
I look up at the woman.
Why is she defending me?
"Sir," she says, softer this time, "you gave me the assignment as Sergeant Barnes personal psychologist. I have been studying this man for nearly a year and I strongly dis-advise torturing him to gain his cooperation!"
"This is not open for discussion!" The Commander bellows. "Start it again."
I brace myself for pain —
But the lights shut off.
There's a four second window until the backup generators turn on —
I bust my left arm from the metal clasp and rip the other restraints.
Red emergency lights flick on in the hallway —
The Commander shouts orders at his men —
My handlers are drawing their weapons —
I charge the one my right. Out of the corner of my eye, Commander Ida holds his arm in front of the doctor, protecting her while pulling out his own gun —
I lunge at the technician and throw two punches, blocking both of his. I grab the gun from his belt, press the chamber against his abdomen, and pull the trigger. I spin around, using his limp body as a shield, and shoot the other men across the room without even having to aim. I drop the human barrier, kick the gun from the Commander's hands, and it fires into the ceiling, leaving behind a ringing in my ears that doesn't bother me.
Not much of anything bothers me anymore.
I shove the Commander away from his daughter, grab her, and spin her around to face him while pressing the gun to her head.
"Wait!" He exclaims.
Eight soldiers, fully armed and ready to disable me, file into the room and train their weapons on me. The lights flicker on as power is restored to the base, and I can hear the crackle of electricity running through chair I sat in just moments ago.
"Let her go or we shoot," the Commander threatens.
"Let me go, or I shoot." My voice comes out lower, more defiant than usual.
I press the chamber against Gertrude harder, but she doesn't whimper or flinch. For once someone isn't scared of me.
Why isn't she scared of me?
I slowly back out of the room, the gun still pressed to her temple as I drag her with me. The soldiers inch closer as we approach the door and the second we reach the threshold, I throw her into the hallway and grab hold of her elbow as she scrambles to her feet, forcing her to stay at my side as we take off into a sprint.
I would leave her behind —
I should leave her behind —
But I need her if I'm going to get out of here.
Behind us, Commander Ida bellows orders at the soldiers, pointing his finger at his daughter and I, his face red with anger. There is something childish in his movements, almost cartoonish.
I haven't seen one of those in years —
Men are yelling; each of them chasing after us, needing to capture us as if their life depends on it. Gertrude runs ahead of me, surprisingly fast, to the double doors at the end of the corridor and rams them open with her shoulder. I follow suit and she slams them shut after I come through, jamming the handles with a pipe.
I stare at her.
She simply turns, nodding her head down the hall. "You were escaping?" She says and takes off running again.
I follow her through the maze of tunnels, confused, and see that she's still carrying that red notebook of hers and her white lab coat is swishing behind her and —
There's a rush of bodies slamming against the door, trying to break it down.
I run hard and ignore the thoughts of what they would do this time if they caught me.
Alarms blare in every corridor and the red lights flashing above distort the hallways a little but we run through the base in silence. The only sound is our feet thumping on the concrete floor and the shouting of the soldiers behind us as we continue to put distance between us and them. I hear metal jostling along Gertrude's leg: A pistol strapped to her thigh.
I glance at her.
Why hasn't she used it on me?
I grip her arm again and press the gun into her back.
We approach the door that leads outside and Gertrude reaches for something along the wall —
I immediately stop her, grabbing her wrist and pinning her against the wall with my forearm. She looks at me with wide eyes but doesn't fight out of my grasp. She opens the palm of her hand to reveal a set of keys.
"Subject exhibits signs of distrust," she says, repeating a phrase that must be from her notebook.
I slowly release my hold.
Of course I don't trust her. I don't trust anyone.
And I have no idea who she is or why she's helping me, especially when I just held her at gunpoint and she has a gun of her own —
I stride past her, push open the door, and slip outside into the frigid night air. We silently move through the snow covered ground, the white flakes swirling in the wind and squishing under my feet. Soldiers hurry about, searching the compound for us and another squadron runs past. I press myself into the shadows, placing a hand on Gertrude and urging her to do the same —
But she's already keeping out of sight.
Like she doesn't want to be seen. Like she doesn't want to be caught.
Like she doesn't want me to be caught.
"Cover me," she whispers, and by the time I look over at her, she's breaking into an all out sprint to a facility vehicle.
Bullets suddenly whir past and I shield myself with my left arm as I tuck and roll to safety. Up on the guard tower, two men stand shooting round after round and I quickly fire two shots at them, hear their bodies collapse forty feet above me, and dive for cover again.
As if Gertrude couldn't have timed it better, she comes barreling around the corner in an AFB and without slowing down, she throws open the passenger door —
And I break into a run.
I leap into the seat beside her, pulling myself up the rest of the way, and shut the door behind me. Soldiers jump out of the way as we plow forward. Some fire their weapons, but it does nothing to stop us from breaking out of the compound.
This is it —