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A Ghost from the Past in the Machine
Rplog-icon Who: Lunair Weir, Natalia Romanova, James Barnes, Peggy Carter, Dum-Dum Dugan
Howard Stark
Where: SHIELD Bunker, 5th Floor Sub-basement, NYC
When: December 15, 2015
Tone: Classic, Gritty, Angsty, Dark, Weird
What: Following a strange note from Howard, several SHIELD members track down a gift that the late Stark left Peggy upon her return. They find a bunker full of ghosts, mildew, memories, and a dear old friend...

Sub-basement

It's clear this room was build several decades before modern technology and sensibilities. It's heavily reinforced concrete of some paranoid, war time era, with low ceilings and old fashioned flourescent lamps surrounded by metal cages. Lab tables of a great variety line the walls here and there, a back corner is filled with lockers, there's a small bull pen area of desks and finally what looks to be a massive old vault-like chest. The large basement area looks like a cold war open office floor plan. A deep layer of dust has settled over everything and hangs in the air which smells of mold and mildew. It's unclear how long this place has been abandoned, but it's been a while.

The building, above ground, is now a bank. It has nothing publically to do with SHIELD, Stark or anything like that. Of course, a few shell corporations and some historical files will see that most of it is still owned by SHIELD, but it still took a few days for Peggy to get access again. Even if she was the one who built the subbasements in the first place. Peggy leads them down a side hall to what looks like a janitor's closet. She rests her hand against the doorknob, careful to fully grip it. A glow comes form the seemingly brass knob and then suddenly the door slowly swings open to reveal a brass metal lift. "Next stop, 5th level sub basement. All aboard." Peggy tries to joke, but her voice is a bit too solemn for it.

Lunair isn't going to look unless it's okay. She's not wanting to caus trouble, really. "Oh. No ding noise?" She tries to go with the joke, but it's a bit flat. Lunair just follows, curious and accepting. She doesn't have her power armor up yet - but she does have her odd smart watch with her. Juuuuuust in case.

Natasha Romanov is dressed 'casually', that is, jeans and tee, whith a heavy leather coat. Of course, she has her Widow Bite gloves with her, just in case. "Stay alert everyone. We don't know what's down there." she cautions. She stands next to Peggy. "...Do we?"

As the lift descends, music quietly comes to life from hidden speakers - music that might be recognised as particular favourites from an old friend of Peggy Carter's - that being Howard Stark. The sound is distorted and flickers in and out repeatedly, due to either damage or simply old age.

"...Catchy." Bucky says flatly of the discordant music. "..Doesn't bode too well for whatever else got left behind." he's on alert as well, as the lift slowly rattles it's way down to the fifth floor basement. "Don't suppose your pal Stark put any kinda hint as to what it is we're here to pick up?"

As the music kicks on while the lift is in motion, Peggy shivers just a bit. It used to sound far more cheery. "We'll...have to get that fixed." Peggy mutters warily at the panel, trying to ignore the odd cold down her spine. It was immensely strange being back here, after all these years. "And, I know what I *left* down there. It was a science bunker. Meant to withstand a bombing that would level half the city. Howard used it for some of his more ...volatile experiments. It was also a back up shelter incase the Russians ever made a move." She gives Natasha a brief look, "Uh, no offense. We weren't really friends back then." And the the elevator stops. The door swings back open and about half the lights in the place kick on. It smells.

"... huh," Lunair peers up as the music goes. She just goes with it. This is curious. "Oooo." She is okay with explosions, really. And then the smell hits her. One eye narrows, the other goes wide. Eech. "Um. Febreze much?" She peers around. "What was he working on?" Stink bombs? She's not sure. She is attentive, peering here and there. Though, Lunair does pull a keychain LED flashlight. "I think a lot of things could be fixed, but pointing that out is mean," She offers. "Uhm... hmmm..." She's going to peer heeeeeere and theeeeeere.

Bucky Barnes Bucky quirks an amused brow at Natasha when Peggy makes her apologies. --I'm not sure if I should be flattered or offended.-- he quips. (--Russian.)

The music slows down, grinding to a halt on a single note (the word 'fondue' - rather, 'fonduuuuuuue...') sung long and sonorous. Never-ending. Coming from a speaker high in the wall, and interjected with sparks and skips due to the failing sound system.

Somewhere in there, one can almost here the words: 'Hello, Peg,' spoken over the same system, except that it sounds ghostly, as though from far away. And familiar...

A gust of wind blows down the elevator shaft, disturbing people's hair.

Natasha Romanov eyes Bucky, smirking. --Both, I guess?-- She shakes her head at Peggy. "None taken. Things weren't really sane during the Cold War." Her skin gets goosebumps as a ghostly voice speaks over the speakers. And then there's a sudden gust of air. --Oh Jesus Christ a ghost!?-- She not-so subtly moves behind Bucky. (--Russian.)

As those two begin speaking Russian behind her, Peggy mutters in her own just slightly accented Russian, "Yes, but she was born Russian. You were just born a smart ass." Even a little bit of humor helps in this place. The ghostly, emptied and dimly lit old bunker is only being made worse by the smell and the strange, echoing of her name with that broken music. The shiver just gets worse with that wind and it propels Peggy further into the room. The scene is mold -- clearly there were leaks some places because it's that building decay smell that fills the place. (--Russian.)

"Alright... it... Mostly looks cleaned out. Howard used to have all sorts of tech down here, it mostly seems gone. If this is his idea of a sick prank, I will drag him back from the dead and strangle him myself." Peggy mutters in English again, beginning to make her way through the room. "Search the lockers. Anything on the desks. The vault." Chances are, that huge, ice-freezer like vault probably has something in it...

"In Soviet Russia, Language speaks YOU!" Lunair offers cheerfully. She's a bit young to grasp the cold war. She seems quietly amused. She boggles at the Russianspeaking, but doesn't comment. She frowns, at the gentle breeze and speaking. "Ummm... Anyone else hear that? Or want fondue?" She offers. She is going to take a look near the vault. "I'll poke at the vault." She'll be fine.

"In Soviet Russia, Language speaks YOU!" Lunair offers cheerfully. She's a bit young to grasp the cold war. She seems quietly amused. She boggles at the Russianspeaking, but doesn't comment. She frowns, at the gentle breeze and speaking. "Ummm... Anyone else hear that? Or want fondue?" She offers. She is going to take a look near the vault. "I'll poke at the vault." She'll be fine.

The music eventually dies altogether as the party leaves behind the lift and enters the room. Only the buzzing and skipping one might expect from a damage film reel - back in those days before... everything else - remains.

Until.

"Hello, Peg," the voice says again, disembodied but much closer now that they are in the room together. "'lo, Peg. ...lookin' good. ...'kin' good. Lookin'..." In the ceiling, a hidden projector comes to life and puts an image of Howard Stark (1940s Howard Stark) on a wall, beckoning - until the image winks out again.

"If you're-you're seeing this message, doll, then... 'm dead you're... 'ing as ever, but..." Another gust of wind blows into the room, and the projection fails. The sound dies, and the room is plunged into darkness.

Natasha Romanov is still staying behind Bucky, all the while trying to act like she's terrified of ghosts. She's sticking to Bucky like a burr though, as they slowly move through the room. --I don't like this. I don't like this at all.-- (--Russian.)

Though she'll never admit it afterwards, Peggy gives an entirely too feminine yelp of surprise as Howard's half dead video projects up into the room. "CRIKEY HOWARD! If this is some bloody JOKE of yours it's not funny!" Peg snaps into the room, as if her old friend was just going to reappear from behind one of the tables. But no, instead of seeing Howard, his image *entirely* dies and the room is plunged into blackness. "Well, f*ck." Peggy doesn't swear often, but this was a moment for it. Trying to keep her breath calm, she pulls out her StarkPhone. "... where's the damn torch on these things...?" She knew she saw that option before, but it's hard to see now and her hands are shaking, like it or not.

Blinkblinkblink. "Hit the icon that looks like a flashlight," Luna offers. "What's a Howard?" She is boggled. She winces, as the room goes black. Lunair keeps her LED keychain flashlight up. "I don't think a flamethrower qualifies as a light," She admits. A little shiver. Something weird is going on. Ghost in the Machine? Well, whatever. She is exploring the vault, running her hands along the door. "Hmmm... I think I can pick this lock, or something, actually." Maybe. If not, there's always Mr. C4.

Beneath the feet of those in the room, a vibration can be felt. It is the sound of a generator coming online - possibly a back-up, possibly in response to having the vault tampered with... Red warning lights flash on and off above the vault door, and more wind blows into the room...

Moments before the exit swings decisively shut.

"Unauthorised intruder," says the disembodied voice of Howard Stark over the speakers. "Unauthorised intruder." Tiny vents open up along the lower seam of the walls and floors, although they do not release anything into the room. Yet.

"Unauthorised intruder. Peg, if the poor guy tampering with my vault is with you, kindly tell him to back off. Oh, and speak the password. You have 30 seconds. 29, 28, 27..."

"Well. I always figured I'd die either sticking a fork in a light socket or poking at something," Lunair remarks. Think. She backs off, as she's told to. Hmm, at the request for a password - she pauses. "Wait. Who the hell sets a security to TOUCHING A VAULT? That's how you kill interns! You're terrible! TERRIBLE, SIR!" Lunair argues at the voice. "What if someone knocked a cart into it!? EVERYONE DIES!" Flail.

"Well, whatever. I'll try to seal the vents, if anyone has an idea of the password. I'll check a desk..." Grump.

Natasha Romanov lets out a skriek that matches the one Peggy let out earlier. Yep, the fearless Black Widow - is scared shitless of spooky places. She does what can only be described as a security cling on Bucky's flesh arm. --Oh jeasus I don't need this-!-- she says in very angry Russian. "Peggy..." (--Russian.)


"Shit.." Bucky spits, turning on the abruptly sealed exit. He pats Natasha's arm, but is already stepping towards the door. He doeses the wildly jumping light from his palm, focusing instead on trying to pry the door back open, but. "Even if I get this open, ten to one the lift ain't running right now. If you know a password Peg, now'd be really great!"

Just as Peggy manages to get the torch setting on, well, it's not necessary, as the room is flooded with that red, flashing glow. She swings about, staring back at the vault with widened dark eyes. "Shite." She mutters beneath her breath, jogging over to where Lunair is standing by that huge metal chest across the floor. "Oh, shut up, Howard." She snaps into the darkness as his voice drones that almost too casual warning. And then he mentions the password and Bucky echoes the suggestion. "I am *not* using that ridiculous password!" As if she was actually going to be able to argue with a machine. The only response is a continued count down. She winces at Lunair, then tosses a look back at Natasha, then finally back to the vault. "Bikini, dammit! The password is Bikini." Hopefully. She steps closer to the vault, fingertips running across the side, looking for a control panel just in case that doesn't work.

"And you'd look lovely in one," the voice of Howard Stark replies over the air. One can HEAR the smirk in his voice, even imagine him eyeing Peggy in such an outfit, despite the fact that the man died years ago.

"Sir, I hardly think that is an appropriate comment to make given the situation," another voice says from the speakers.

"Shh! Quiet, Jarvis. Peg and I are having a moment here! *ahem* Password... gladly accepted."

The vents close, and the rear exit promptly unlocks. The emergency lighting remains as it is, keeping the room primarily in the dark but for a few red globes here and there, and Bucky's glo-stick arm feature. From behind the vault door, one can hear the sound of gears working - old gears - as the door slowly, so very slowly, unlocks.

"Access granted," says Howard's voice. "Oh, and Peggy..."

A pause.

"You're welcome."

"..." Lunair stifles a giggle. "You have a fan," She offers. Even oblivious Lunair catches that one. "Who also likes bikinis." She is amused. A lot. She has her little LED flashlight. And true to form, Lunair pokes her head around the vault door. More cautiously this time. "I hope it's not zombies." She really does. "And hi OlderJarvis!" She offers. "Please don't kill us all."

As the door to the vault swings open, the hissing and gears seeming to groan as it goes, a single thing can be seen inside. Well, not a thing. A man. Almost bulky as the vault around him, all shoulders and barrel chest. The military uniform is about as old as the room, the bowler hat just about as out of fashion, and the mustache almost entirely too recognizable. He seems asleep. Or, perhaps, dead. But he's awfully well preserved for a dead man.

Natasha Romanov is still not-clinging clinging to Bucky, although she's relaxing now that, it seems there isn't really a ghost in here. Well, maybe there is of a sort. "Damn. Tony really *is* like his father." she comments, almost smirking. Almost. "...How did you not murder the man, Peggy?" she asks. "...Well, probably the same way I resist murdering Tony. Self-control." She stops her rambling as she gets a look inside the vault. "...Who?" she asks quietly, very voice suddenly hush.

Bucky Barnes picks his way through the intermittently lit room to peer over Lunair's shoulder into the vault as well. There's... a person in there? A very distinct person, no less. Bucky looks vaguely off balance, and turns to Peggy with a questioning look in his eyes.

Lunair's words make her blush and the eye roll that Howard Stark's voice gets is epic, even in the emergency lighting. Peggy huffs out quietly, murmuring to Natasha, "I've asked myself that question a dozen times..." Her annoyance with her old friend is fresh, even if it helps hide the pain in her voice of missing him. Even when discussing bikinis. Then she's stepping forward, staring at the big figure in the emergency glow. Dim, dead lighting or not, she'd know the man anywhere. A look is flickered in Bucky's direction, questioning and surprised. Was he seeing what she saw? She takes another step forward, within touching distance. Her fingertips stretch forward, daring to touch Dugan's cheek so, so lightly. "...Timothy?" She breathes out, her eyes suddenly glassy.

Blue lights spark to life around the figure in the stasis cylinder as more and more systems - antiquated to say the least - come online. A ring of lights flare up around his feet, then legs, waist, elbows and finally his head as more generators reverberate around the room. A speaker crackles with Howard's voice.

"Subject: "Sergeant Timothy Aloysius Caderwal - Cadwadall - Cad... I can't say this. *ahem*. Subject! Sergeant Timothy Dugan - A.K.A. 'Dum-Dum'. Born June 14, 1912. Died October 7, fzzzt! Experiment: L.M.D. 1-1-3. Life-Model Decoy. Agent Dum-Dum Dugan was r-zzzt'd comatose during a foiled assassination attempt in *shhhh!*. I, Howard Stark - the one and only - enacted the L.M.D. Initiative to have Dugan's consciousness pre-shhhhh-'rved and placed into ...'droid body."

A cloud of static comes over the speakers, blocking out a whole chunk of dialogue.

"...'er bodies. Peggy. This is Dugan. OUR Dugan. Ever since you ..*Fzzzt-blinkblinkblink* ... wanted you to have a friend nearby. I, obviously, can't be there for you. Can't hold your hand or tell you how I really *fzzt*..."

More static.

"Dugan will awaken on your voice command. Howard out."

Pause.

"... okay, how do I shut this damn thing - " *CRASH...static.*

Lunair eeps. Her eyes widen. "... well, even if he's kinda pervy, he has a good heart," She offers. Lunair blinks. "Wow. The one stache to rule them all." She is in awe. "I bet he's totally badass." A look to Peggy. "Hey. Are you alright? Don't feel bad - about the feelings? How do you say that? Shit." She goes cross-eyed. She's trying. A nod to Bucky. She's getting a bit better about caution, at least. And then a peer to Natasha. "Are you okay?" She looks around.

Natasha Romanov blinks, letting go of Bucky and stepping forward, hand to her mouth. "...Bozhe moi." she whispers, eyes wide in shock. "Oh... he was sweet like Tony can be, too." she breathes out, going over to Peggy, knowing the woman needs some support now, even if she won't ask. "..." Silently, she puts her hand on the woman's shoulder.

Bucky Barnes is looking a little shaken in his own right, though his connection with Howard was much more tenuous even at the best of times. It's just all...very disorienting. "This.. is some kinda robot with a person inside?" he asks, sounding more than a little disturbed by the idea.

"Fine. I'm fine." Peggy rasps in response to Lunair's words, the lie utterly obvious. As she feels that hand against her shoulder and the familiar warmth of Natasha coming up behind her, well, her own body betrays her even more. That glassiness finally escapes her eyes, silent tears dropping off her lashes and down her cheeks as she listens to the now dead static of the room around them. "...I never thought I'd want Howard to keep talking..." She shakes her head to Bucky, not entirely understanding herself, but also not fighting it.

Peggy stands there, dead silent, and then whispers after another moment. "Timothy Aloysius Cadwallader Dugan. Do as Peggy says. Wake up." And then, a heartbeat later and a thousand times softer, she whispers again, "Wake up." The last two words aren't a command but a prayer. What if the technology doesn't work any more? What if something went wrong? She couldn't have him standing right in front of her and have it not work.

Natasha Romanov squeezes Peggy's shoulder, gently. She doesn't have any words for her, which troubles her. So she remains silent, being there for Peggy in the only way she can be. "...Wake up." she adds her plea to Peggy's.

Bucky Barnes looks between the dormant, vaguely familiar figure and Peggy. "Hey.." he says. "You know Stark tech. It never fails to make a big show, and the bigger the buildup, the bigger the splash. It'll work."

The voice-command from Peggy causes the seal around the stasis chamber to break straight down the middle. As the two sides of the cylinder slide apart, Dugan's eyelids flutter. His fingers twitch, and there is a slight 'tick' at the corner of his moustache. These might be considered normal twitches and mannerisms except for the fact that the man has yet to take a single breath.

By the time the container is all the way open, Dugan's lips part and his chest heaves as his lungs (one would presume he has something LIKE lungs, given what he is), fill with air...

And he coughs.

The man doubles over, coughing, a hand pressed against his lips under his moustache, as he blinks against the low light in the room. This continues for only a moment as he stands back up again... and sneezes mightily.

"Dagnabbit!" he mutters, shielding his eyes and still blinking. He hasn't recognised anyone yet. "Rosetta! Didja fergit ta dust in 'ere again?! I can't damn br -- "

He stops.

He blinks (again).

"What th' hell're you lot doin' in my bed -- wait. WHERE TH' HELL AM I?!"

Lunair's eyes go wide as she watches. Then she turns red. "Oh gosh. I'm in a guy's bed. SORRY!" She bolts out of the vault to give them a moment alone. Hey, she's SOMETIMES smart. Sometimes. "ALSO WELCOME TO 2015!" She tries.

The offer of a tissue pack just gets a faint shake of her head, Peggy terrified to move for this moment, like she might break something or stop whatever magic is supposed to wake him back up. He's not the only one that isn't breathing for a few moments. But then he is, and Peggy gasps shakily herself, "Oh..." The involuntary sound of pure relief from her lips. She even misses Lunair fleeing, though she'll worry about it later. She just stumbles forward, grabbing Dum-Dum's shoulders, "Dum-Dum! It's me! It's Peg!...and it's all so very... complicated..." She breathes out with a weak laugh.

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