As Kyle stepped out of the shower room, he was greeted by a change in the weather. The sky had darkened, with thick clouds looming overhead, and a light rain began to fall, pattering against the ground and creating small puddles that marred the training base’s pathways.
The scene seemed eerily familiar, reminiscent of a past event in a similar timeline.
Seeking refuge from the rain, Kyle noticed a woman approaching him through the curtain of falling droplets, holding an umbrella. She appeared hurried, scanning the area as if searching for someone.
As Kyle recognized the stunning face of the woman, he couldn’t help but exclaim, “Agent Carter?”
“Kyle!” Agent Carter spotted him standing under the eaves of the shower room and hastened her steps, paying no mind to the wet ground. She closed the distance in two quick strides.
“Why aren’t you with Steve? What are you doing in front of the men’s shower room?” Kyle asked, surprised and somewhat playful. “Do you have a habit of admiring men’s perfect physiques?”
After all, during their time as soldiers in the training base, Agent Carter once barged into the dormitory while Kyle happened to be coming out of the shower.
However, this time, Agent Carter didn’t bother refuting the teasing remark. Instead, she anxiously said, “Kyle, I came here specifically to find you. Please go and talk to Steve! Only you can convince him now!”
“Huh? What are you talking about?” Kyle scratched his head feeling perplexed at the moment.
“I’ll explain on the way. We must hurry; there’s no time to waste!” Agent Carter firmly grabbed Kyle’s hand and led him into the rain.
Together, they made their way toward the tent area near the military camp.
“So, you’re saying that the 107th Regiment’s soldiers were ambushed by the Germans in the front-line combat zone in Austria, and only a few managed to escape back here? Among the missing soldiers is Sergeant Bucky Barnes?” Kyle pieced together the information from Agent Carter’s brief message, understanding why she was so concerned.
He was Steve’s best friend before they joined the army, but later became the Winter Soldier under Hydra’s control. For him, Steve even ended up in a full-blown fight with Iron Man.
Now, knowing that something had happened to Bucky nearby, Kyle was certain that Steve would risk everything to save him.
“So, Agent Carter, are you asking me to stop Steve and make him reconsider?” Kyle inquired.
Agent Carter nodded affirmatively and replied, “Exactly! Aside from not knowing if those ambushed soldiers are still alive, we lack the necessary forces here to launch a proper rescue operation. It’s too dangerous for him to go alone, crossing into the most perilous war zone in Europe and infiltrating enemy-controlled facilities.”
“I understand.” Kyle smiled and didn’t say much, causing Agent Carter to furrow her brows slightly, sensing a foreboding outcome.
However, Kyle was the only one who could potentially halt Steve’s resolute actions.
As they reached the camp area, specifically the tents designated for propaganda personnel, they spotted Steve still dressed in his blue and white striped tight-fitting uniform adorned with the star-spangled symbol. He had donned a rain-resistant jacket and was preparing to change a spare tire on a military jeep.
It was evident that he intended to embark on the journey alone.
When Agent Carter returned, Steve was about to speak, but his expression suddenly turned unnatural upon seeing Kyle standing behind her. “Kyle, are you here to convince me as well? I know the risks involved, but if I have the ability and don’t act then I will feel guilty for the rest of my life.”
“You are quite good at presuming things! I haven’t even said a word yet. How do you know I’m here to convince you?” Kyle impatiently shrugged and assisted Steve in hoisting the second spare tire onto the rear compartment of the vehicle.
Steve was taken aback before he patted Kyle’s shoulder in surprise, and the two exchanged smiles. Between men, words often proved unnecessary as a single action conveyed their understanding of each other’s thoughts.
“Kyle, you?” Agent Carter looked at him incredulously, feeling as if he was only adding to the trouble.
“I’ll go with him. It shouldn’t be a problem. Two people are much safer than one,” Kyle stated confidently.
Agent Carter glanced at Steve and then at Kyle, her expression filled with bitterness. “Don’t you understand? This is not something that one or two people can handle at all.”
In less than half a minute, Agent Carter’s attempts to stop them completely failed. Considering their well-being, she had to secretly utilize the resources at her disposal.
Ten minutes later, a plane defied the thunderstorm, bravely soaring through the dark skies and heavy rain, penetrating deep into the occupied war zone in Europe.
Inside the plane cabin, Steve and Kyle sat on one side, while Agent Carter occupied the other, briefing them on the situation. “Hydra’s camp is located in Klausburg, nestled between two mountains, resembling a factory. I’ll try to get the plane as close to one of the entrances as possible.”
“Stark is the best pilot I’ve ever seen, and only he dares to take off in this thunderstorm,” Agent Carter added.
As she spoke, a gentlemanly man in his thirties, dressed in a sophisticated manner, casually waved his hand from the pilot’s seat.
Howard Stark? The renowned founder of Stark Industries and the father of Iron Man.
Kyle’s eyes lit up; he had long desired to meet this legendary figure in the Marvel World. He greeted, “Is this the Strategic Scientific Reserve’s Howard? I’ve seen your scientific inventions at exhibitions, and they’re all works of genius.”
“Second Lieutenant Kyle,” Howard responded politely. “I’ve heard about you too— the one who refused the Super Soldier Project, the lone war fanatic, and the one with the title of an American hero. If there’s a chance, I’d love to treat you to some cheese hotpot when we get back. Of course, it would be even better if Agent Carter joins us.”
“Deal.” Kyle smiled, seemingly unfazed by the imminent danger, as if he believed he would return safely.
With a few cards up his sleeve, he truly wanted to have a good conversation with Howard.
“Attention, we’re entering enemy-occupied territory!”
Howard, rarely serious, issued a warning as he skillfully manipulated the controls, maneuvering the aircraft to evade incoming gunfire. The plane shook violently, causing intense tremors and jolts.
Through the windows, they could clearly see lightning flashing across the sky above, while the darkness of the wilderness below was constantly illuminated by the enemy’s muzzle flashes. Natural and man-made attacks severely hindered the plane’s progress.
“It’s too dangerous. Steve and I will jump from here. You should turn back immediately,” Kyle made the decision before opening the plane cabin. The night wind rushed in from the hundred-meter altitude, causing his windbreaker to billow open.
“We’re already quite close to the enemy’s factory from here,” Steve nodded, standing up and joining Kyle at the cabin doorway.
“Steve,” Agent Carter called out, speaking slowly, “Please make sure you come back alive.”
“Don’t worry,” Steve reassured her before taking the leap first.
“With me around, Steve will be fine. We’ll have a real feast when we return,” Kyle waved his hand confidently, following Steve’s lead and leaping into the darkness below.
In just a few seconds, the two of them vanished swiftly into the night rain.
“It’s not just Steve. Please make sure you come back too, Kyle,” Agent Carter murmured softly on the plane, her thoughts unknown.
(End of this chapter)