Avox in Arcadia (perpetual) wrote,
Avox in Arcadia
perpetual

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A Conspiracy of Ravens - Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Title: The Rescue
Author: Kairos
Fandom: Netflix MCU mashup
Wordcount: This part, 2558
Warnings: Violence, implied rape
Summary: Frank and Karen execute their plan to take down Donovan Wake on his home turf.


Karen took a silent step forward in the half-lit corridor. She could see Frank a pace ahead of her, alternately crouching or flat against the wall when he wasn’t moving in confidently swift strides forward. He hadn’t looked back at her once, but he had taught her a few hand signals before they went in, and whenever he threw one up it showed that he knew she was still there and that he trusted her to keep following.

She was unaccustomed to the weight of the body armor she was wearing, and her dark clothing and sneakers, her hair pinned up beneath a black wool hat, made her feel like an entirely different person. Why would Karen Page be here anyway, stalking through the gilded prison that was Donovan Wake’s private yacht?

Her new .380 was the only thing that felt real, held firmly in her gloved hands. Frank had given it to her just over an hour ago, regretful that there was no chance for her to try it out before taking it on its maiden voyage, but its shape was familiar and she didn’t expect to fire it tonight anyway. As a focal point, though, it was invaluable.

Frank was holding perfectly still, and Karen imitated him to the best of her ability. She didn’t hear or see anything, but the possibility that Frank did made her heartbeat speed up.

Finally his posture relaxed and he motioned to move on. They turned the corner, and Frank suddenly stopped Karen with a gesture and sprinted forward on his own. Mere seconds later, he was grappling with someone coming around the next corner, and then the man was on the floor and Frank and Karen were hurrying past his prone form.

Frank took down two more the same way before he had to fire a shot from the rifle in his hands or the pistol at his hip. Karen trembled when he drew on the guard, not because it was hard to watch the man die, but because she knew this was the turning point. Now anyone on the ship close enough to notice the sound would know that there were armed intruders aboard, and the battle would truly begin.

“In here,” said Frank, opening the nearest door. Karen slipped in after him, scanned the room, and found a position where she could watch his back.

It was a bunk, with one bed and modest furnishings, the home of some member of Wake’s staff. Karen tried not to think about how that might be the guard that Frank had just killed, and tried even harder not to think about what a person like this did for a living. None of personnel here were prisoners, which meant that they had chosen to ignore Wake’s crimes -- or participate in them -- in exchange for their own comfort.

By the time boots came pounding down the adjacent, Frank had set down his rifle and replaced it with a K-BAR knife, and by the time the door was kicked in, he was ready to plunge it into the first of the attackers. The next few minutes were a maelstrom of violence. Karen kept her eyes open and her feet in their place, in spite of the agony of it.

At the end, blood was pooling beneath a body thrown across the bed, and two more of the attackers had fallen halfway into the room. Karen had a moment to wonder if she and Frank were cornered in here, and then he was crouched against the far wall, flipping up a rug and working the latches beneath it until a hinged panel could be lifted.

He dipped his head into the space beneath the trap door for the briefest moment, then surfaced and motioned for Karen to wait while he let himself through feet-first. She crouched at the opening, watchful, until he looked up again and held out a hand for his guns. “Yours too,” he said after she had passed them to him one after the other.

Her hands freed, she copied Frank’s movements to follow him down, and was only a little taken aback when she felt his hands on her hips, steadying her while her feet dangled before she let go of the edge. She hadn’t needed that extra bit of help, she thought, but somehow she welcomed it anyway.

Frank had time to reload, and Karen time to take a few deep breaths, before they left the storage room that they had dropped into. The next attack came in much the same pattern as the first one, and ended the same way, with bodies on the floor. Frank still wasn’t injured, and Karen still hadn’t fired a shot. It seemed too good to be true, and the thought of their luck running out terrified her more than any of the violent encounters she had seen so far.

When it came to choosing their path, Frank never hesitated; he had apparently memorized the route that his friend had worked out for him. Now that they were getting closer to their destination, though, the doors were solid and locked without exception. Each time they reached one with a keypad, Frank would glance at Karen and she would step in front of him, roll down her sleeve, and punch in the code from the list of them she had written on her forearm. Each time, she was sure she was about to set off an alarm that went straight to Wake, but instead, a green light would flash over the knob and the door would click open.

After six of those, Frank halted them in a wide chamber with a vaulted ceiling, richly decorated but without much furniture or indication of what its purpose was. He didn’t look lost, but Karen couldn’t understand what they were supposed to be doing there, especially after he positioned her with her back to a corner and himself in front of her, as if they were standing guard over nothing. Entire minutes passed, and still Frank was motionless, posed to aim from the knee but radiating impassive patience nonetheless.

It wasn’t him that finally broke the silence, and it wasn’t Karen. There were voices, muffled by walls and space, and others fully unintelligible that seemed to be coming through speakers or walkies. As the movement of the latest unit of guards approached the door opposite the one they had come from, Frank calmly cocked his gun.

He didn’t fire until the first two were in sight. They kept running forward without checking their surroundings first, and Karen saw why Frank had chosen this spot. Only the third was aware of him in time to raise his own weapon, and raising it was the last thing he did.

Karen indulged in a few seconds of closed eyes. Even looking at more dead men felt like it was too much to handle. Who would have thought that winning would be so painful?

Frank had risen and was checking out the nearest body, turning it over with his foot. Karen, desperate to keep moving, honed in on the centered door. She was already rolling down her sleeve to find the code for the lock when her eyes fell on the handle and saw that it was missing a keypad. Instead, a sensor was set at an angle on the wall beside it.

“Oh no,” she gasped, the first words out of her mouth in what felt like hours. “This one needs fingerprints.” She had known only the bare bones of the plan, so it didn’t even cross her mind that Frank and Micro would have accounted for this until Frank grunted from behind her and she turned to see him dragging the nearest guard over to the door.

“Got ‘em right here.” He coughed and straightened up, letting the body sag. “Karen, this is it, a’right? Anything you wanna say, gotta do it before we go in.”

She blinked. The long and harrowing trip through the yacht suddenly seemed like it had gone by very quickly. Their destination, the last door to open, was supposed to be Wake’s living quarters, and she hadn’t thought it would look so plain. On the other hand -- this was the service entrance. It was coded so that any member of the staff could come to him with anything he wanted. Yes, everything really had gone according to plan.

Karen shook her head. She knew what her job was once they were in, and she knew that she and Frank would part ways as soon as they could, with no time to talk about it any further. If both of them survived and escaped cleanly, she would see him again and then she’d say whatever she wanted. If not, well, what was left unsaid would be the least of her problems.

Frank heaved the body up by its clothing with one hand, and with the other he took hold of the right wrist and slammed the hand palm-down onto the sensor. The door chimed and slid open, and Frank let the body fall and took up his rifle again.

Three paces behind him, Karen stepped into the chamber. It didn’t look like the home of an evil man. It looked like a luxury hotel. There was little time to take anything in, though, before Frank turned slightly, stopped just past a corner, and took aim.

From Karen’s angle, the man in his sights was just barely visible, but she could see that he was in a lush bathrobe and that his hands were up. More importantly, she could hear his voice quite clearly, with its convincingly unimpressed tone: “Yeah, so you found me. Now I can tell you’re a man who--”

The single gunshot rang in Karen’s ears like none of the others had, and the sound of Wake collapsing to the floor was likewise weighted with finality. A sudden flashback to Wesley’s death took her by surprise; she wasn’t the killer this time, but her lack of pity for the dead man combined with her repulsion at the violence and fear of consequences was the same. Frank didn’t look back at her and didn’t hesitate before stepping forward to inspect the body.

A scream of primal terror erupted from somewhere deeper in the chamber, snapping Karen out of her trance. It was a female voice, young, and it stopped for a second in a failed attempt at silence before breaking into sobs.

Karen rushed past Frank and Wake’s body. It was the work of a moment to trace the sound to a large wooden wardrobe, and she tapped the door once and called, “Leigh?” before opening it.

Her hope was that the girl would realize she was a friend and be spared further panic, but she couldn’t waste time talking about it through the wardrobe. The sobbing hadn’t subsided when the door clicked open and Karen saw her huddled in the corner behind some men’s coats. “Leigh!” Karen repeated. “It’s okay, I won’t hurt you! I’m here to take you home!”

There were a few shuddering breaths, and then a tiny, quavering voice. “Who are you?”

“My name’s Karen. It’s gonna be okay, Leigh. Just come with me and we’ll get you out of here and back to your family.”

“D-d-donovan?”

“He’s gone. It’s just me and my friend out here.”

With awkward movements, Leigh shifted onto her knees and reached out a hand. Karen took it firmly and helped pull her through the forest of coats, out of the wardrobe and onto her feet. Now that they could get a good look at each other, Karen wondered if her cat-burglar outfit and the gun at her hip would be intimidating, but Leigh instantly threw her arms around her and pressed her face into her shoulder, sniffling.

Karen returned the embrace, stroking the girl’s thick mahogany hair and murmuring words of comfort. A detached part of her mind was still considering their exit strategy, especially now that she saw that Leigh was dressed in lingerie. It was unlikely that there was any practical clothing for her available.

“Hey,” Karen whispered. “Is there something warm in here you can put on? It’s chilly outside.”

Leigh pulled back to scan the room, but Karen instinctively blocked her before she could see to where she knew Frank was still standing over the corpse. “Don’t look. You don’t want to see that. How about one of these coats?”

Without protest, Leigh turned back to the wardrobe and selected a heavy black coat that came down to her ankles. “And I have shoes in the closet by the lighthouse picture,” she said.

Karen found the shoes easily enough, but of course none of them were practical, either. She grabbed a pair of pink moccasins, shaking her head in disgust. The shoes had enough of a sole to get Leigh safely off the boat, but they had obviously been chosen because they were cute. That innocent, scared girl hadn’t even been living the life of a pet but that of a doll.

In under a minute they were ready to go. Frank had instructed Karen to retrace their exact path to get off the boat, and promised he would be close enough behind her to help out if needed but far enough to keep from frightening Leigh. Karen felt oddly confident about taking the lead now, maybe because of the protective instinct that had materialized within her when she met the victim. “Stay right by me and don’t look back,” she said to Leigh, who responded with fervent agreement.

Karen gave her last glance to Frank as she was shepherding her charge to the door. All she wanted was a second of eye contact to affirm that they were both still on track; all she expected in return was a grim nod or a gesture at most. But instead he smiled at her, and it was sincere and warm as a ray of sunlight. Infused with hope and new determination, she returned the smile, and it remained on her face halfway down the first hallway.

Not a soul was seen or heard as they made their trek back through the ship. When Karen threw open the door to the deck, a blast of salty night wind hit their faces, and Leigh gave a cry of shock, or possibly joy. Karen squeezed her hand and pointed to the disembarking ramp, and they both broke into a run.

Somewhere behind them, Frank was making his own way off of Wake’s yacht. He hadn’t said how he planned to do it or where he was going after that, but Karen knew that if she needed him, he would be there.

They reached the dock and then dry land, and Frank wasn’t there. That meant they had made it. “Time to call you a ride,” said Karen, pulling out her phone. “I know some police officers we can trust. They’ll get in touch with your family real fast.”

“Um, will you stay with me until...?”

Karen halted, swiveled, and gripped Leigh’s shoulder as she looked her in the eye. “I am not taking a single step away from you until you feel safe. Are we clear?”

The girl took a deep breath, eyes closed, dwarfed by the ludicrously big coat. She nodded. “Thank you.”



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Tags: conspiracy of ravens
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