Chapter 19

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   *Flashback*

   Clara and I had just come back to the HYDRA facility after killing Rivers Curtis. We were to confirm that he was dead, along with any witnesses.
   "Report?" One of our officers asked.
   When Clara didn't speak, I did. "Four. Three witnesses and one target."
   "How were there three witnesses?"
   "His family, Sir."
   Our officer looked at Clara, who was staring at her feet. He cupped her chin and forced her to look at him, her eyes were full of tears.
   "How did you kill the target?"
   I tried to tell him but he cut me off. "Not you. I want this one to tell me."
   Clara burst into tears. "His name is Rivers Curtis, and he didn't deserve to die! He was a child!"
   "Watch it, kid," the officer cautioned. "An outburst like that can earn you a couple hours of torture in the chair."
   No please no. Clara stop.
   She didn't stop. Instead, she attacked the officer. She jumped on him and started throwing punches left and right. I tried to pull her off of him, but in her distraught state, she ended up attacking me as well.
   "We didn't have to kill him, we could have helped him!" She screamed while trying to hurt me. But I dodged everything she threw at me, and eventually I grabbed her by the neck with my metal arm and knocked her out.
   "I'm sorry, Sir. She's never done this before," I said, still holding her by the neck. He stopped me with an upraised hand.
   "You know this is punishable by death. You will have to find another partner S.O.S."
   "What? No, Sir, she didn't-"
   "And you'll shut up if you want to live!"
   That did shut me up. "Yes Sir." I set Clara on the ground and let some of the soldiers in the room take her away.
   "Alright S.O.S. It's time for your next mission," the officer said.
   "Ready to receive it Sir," I stood up straight in an effort to hide my fear for Clara. What was going to kill her? Who was going to kill her?
   "Your next mission: Termination."

   She was in the middle of a ring of human sized bird cages, chained by the hands. The chains attached to the floor so that she couldn't move more than three feet in either direction.
   Clara and I had put countless people inside those cages. They were the execution waiting rooms. The people inside got to watch the others die, and wait for their own death. Right now, four out of the seven cages were filled with horrified prisoners.
I walked inside the ring of cages, ready to fight. She struggled against the chains as a few HYDRA soldiers stopped to watch us, maybe thirty. Somehow her blonde curls were still perfect, I was always jealous of her hair.
   "Auri, don't do this," Clara pleaded. Her body racked with sobs as I came closer to her. I was armed with only a knife, and Clara had nothing.
   "Clara you know I have to." I whispered. "You'll be killed anyway, and then I'll be in the same boat."
   The soldiers around us screamed for the action to start, so I raised my knife with my left hand and brought it down. Clara held my arm in place and kicked my feet out from under me.
   I tumbled to the ground and rolled away from her reach. She didn't want to be killed, and I didn't want to be the one to kill her. But I had to.
   I got up and looked around. Some people even brought food to eat while I killed her. She begged me again to not do this. Wait.
   Her eyes didn't plead. Everything she was saying contradicted the look she was giving me. It was a peaceful look.
   "Oh, Clara," I whispered to myself. "I'm so sorry."
   She nodded and faced me. Down on her knees, she mouthed "It's okay."
   I ran towards her, knife raised and ready to plunge it into her chest, but it the last second I jumped over her and grabbed her head.
   "I promise I'll get out of here," I whispered into her ear. I loosened my grip so she could nod.
   "I know you will. But don't do it for me okay?"
   I closed my eyes and twisted my arms to snap her neck. The sickening crack echoed across the room as everyone around me stood silent, watching me as I still clutched her body.
   They pried me off of her and dragged me through a door and down the hallway to my cell. They trusted me to the point where they didn't have to chain me up in my bed, which was pretty much a slab of cardboard. But that was a huge mistake, because as soon as the guard left, so did I.
   I had mastered lock picking when I was maybe three years old. So I had the door unlocked with a pin in a couple seconds.
   Sprinting down the hall and looking through the window on the door, I could just catch a glimpse of Clara's body being carried out on the other side of the room.
   Luckily the room was empty now, probably because one of the generals must have yelled at them to get back to work. I opened the door and creeped across the room, careful to look around before going to the other side.
   Through the door and into the next dimly lit hallway, Clara was still being carried by the same officer. It was easy to follow them because everyone was outside or training in their rooms/cells.
   I just had to stay a little bit behind them. I followed them for a few minutes, until the officer turned into the morgue room.
   I stayed behind the corner until he came out and wiped his hands on his shirt with a disgusted look on his face. Thankfully, he turned away from me and jogged to his post.
   As I creeped towards the morgue, the putrid smell got worse and worse. It didn't really help that super smell came with the serum that took my arm.
   And when the door opened, the smell almost knocked me over. I guess being a super soldier has its downsides.
   Clara's body was in a bag lying on a table in the middle of the room under a spotlight. All it needed was to be zipped up and buried. I walked up to the table to examine her closely. Her neck was definitely broken, and there was no pulse, so she was definitely dead.
   There was already a tag on the bag that said she was to be buried in the next two days, and that she was to go in drawer number eight.
Okay, Clara is gone, and the plan has not happened yet. The Avengers have not come, and I don't know what to do.
   The smell was becoming too much for me, so I left and ran back to my cell. The clang of the door closing alerted one of the guards to come over.
   "What are you doing, S.O.S.?" She asked me. She clutched her gun, obviously scared of me, even though she was taller by at least four inches. Did she watch?
   "Nothing," I mumbled. When she didn't leave, I widened my eyes and raised my arms, pretending that I would attack her. That did the trick.
   Thinking quickly, I crawled under my bed and grabbed a shoe box and an old computer. In the box, there was two little airplanes, and USB chord.
   I hooked up one of the planes and programmed it to go at the speed that I walked, and the other one at the speed of a plane. I decided that once I got my next mission, I would program the plane to go to wherever it was while I escaped.
   I was just putting the planes back in the shoebox when someone yelled out my name.
   "S.O.S.!"
Shit.
   I shoved the box and the computer under my bed and jumped up. The officer that Clara and I reported to, power walked into view.
   "Your next mission file is in. I need you to go debrief. Also, I have decided that you will bury your partner."
Oh... Oh, Oh!
   "Yes Sir," I said. This was perfect! Yes, a plan was forming in my mind. Yes, yes. I walked out of the cell and gave him a curt nod. Then I sprinted towards my debriefing room.
   "Your new partner is there as well," he called after me. I didn't care because I wouldn't need them ever. Ever.
   When I got there, Dimitri happened to be my new partner. He and I were sort of friends, but he didn't know that I hated HYDRA, and that sure would have put a damper on our relationship.
   "Hey, I just heard. Sorry you had to do that." He grimaced.
   "Yeah," I whispered. "It's okay. Anyway, what's the mission?"
   "Oh yeah. There's some suspicious activity behind a small restaurant in France. We have to go check it out." He handed me a file that was labeled "CLASSIFIED."
   "When?"
   He shrugged. "A few days. That's enough time to grieve right?"
   I nodded. "Sure. Yeah."
   "Hey do you wanna hear something cool?" Dimitri asked. "Some of the Avengers were captured yesterday and nobody's volunteered to guard them yet. We could go tomorrow and just hang out, get to really know each other with the whole partner thing and all."
   I could feel my eyes bug out of my skull. "Oh wow, really? Yeah, let's do it. Which ones?"
   "Great, I'll go sign us up. We got Captain America, Falcon, Black Widow, and get this. We got the Winter Soldier! You can keep the file by the way, I have my own copy." Dimitri patted me on the back and left the room.
   Once I got back to my cell, I input the mission code and hacked into the digital file. I moved the date up a few days and changed the agent count to approximately five people. Then I programmed the little plane to fly to the coordinates in the file.
   I put the computer and planes away under my bed. I sat on the piece of cardboard, finally digesting everything that had happened that day.
   I killed Clara.
   I got a new partner.
   I got a new mission.
   I found a way out.
   With the Avengers.
   Everything sort of blended together to create a sense of numbness. I had felt so many emotions, and now that sense of grief and excitement and guilt all created nothing.
   I sat there all night, running my new plan in my head over and over again, because it distracted me from that feeling.

   In the morning, I put together a backpack full of stuff that I would need for a normal mission. I then grabbed the shoebox and went back to the morgue. Ugh, the smell was even worse than yesterday. Which drawer was she in again? Oh yeah, number eight.
   I threw open the drawer and unzipped Clara's bag. Seeing her made me stop. That was my best friend in a body bag. Because of me.
   I gently hid the planes in her hair, and wrapped her arms around the backpack. I would need HYDRA uniforms.
   Luckily, all HYDRA soldiers are buried in their uniforms, so I went into a bunch of drawers and stripped three males of their uniforms, and left Clara with hers on. The Black Widow can have hers.
   I zipped her back up and slammed the drawer closed. When I was back outside, I took a deep breath and went to go find Dimitri.
   I wandered the halls trying to find him until I gave up and went back to my cell. I walked  through the ring of cells after a while and stood in the middle. Clara's chains were still splayed out on the ground.
   The scene played again over and over in my head. I wondered what would have happened if I had stabbed her instead. Probably nothing different, just that there would be more blood.
   "Auriana,"Dimitri slammed open the door to the hallway that my cell was in. "There you are, I've been looking all over for you."
   I decided to play pathetic since I was here. "I guess I got sidetracked," I mumbled as I looked at the ground.
   "Look, I know you're grieving, but I just heard that they moved up our mission to tomorrow morning, so we need to get ready before we get to our guard post."
   I nodded. So for the next few hours, we prepared to go scout out a small crepe shop in Paris, France.
   And soon it was time to go see the Avengers.

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