2010-08-16: Checking Out




August 16, 2010


Alexandra — South Africa


The trek back to Alexandra was long and weary for Porter, burdened as we was with an unconscious woman handcuffed to his arm. Quietly finding a hotel room was difficult enough. Persuading someone to locate and purchase medical supplies for him was nearly impossible and cost him every bit of cash and every barterable item he could muster.

It took some time, but he's managed to bandage the worst of Vasha's injuries. As for himself, he's thoroughly bruised but still intact. He's perched in a chair next to the hotel room's narrow and dusty bed, trying mightily to stay awake. Every so often his eyelids droop, but he keeps shaking himself to alertness before he can truly drowse off.

The handcuff around his wrist is an ever-present reminder of his current predicament. Though South Africa isn't inherently hostile territory, it's hostile to him. Especially with a princess of the criminal underbelly chained to his damn arm. His eyes wander over her critically. "You're a big ol' pile of mess, lady," he mutters. "And I'm stuck with you. Hey! Wake up!"

Groaning, Vasha moves her hand in an attempt to rub her eyes, only to find her action jerked to a halt by the cuffs linking her to Porter. Her eyes fly open and immediately she fixes them on her captor, "Wh— " She stops, her head moving a little as her gaze flits around the room, uncertain of exactly where she is. Slowly, she slides up the bed to a sitting position. Then, still eyeing Porter, she swings her long legs down to place her feet on the floor.

Her jaw tenses. Focusing all of the strength she can muster, the woman suddenly yanks her linked wrist in an attempt to pull the seated man toward her. "Why have to taken me prisoner? Who do you work for?" Her voice is nothing but a low growl, her words muted as they're spoken between clenched teeth.

Rap, Rap

Two quick knocks on the door interrupt the conversation accompanied by a singsong voice, "Housekeeping~"

On the other side, is 'Helga Helmsworth': blonde, thin, and dressed appropriately for a maid in a black dress that falls just below her knees accompanied by her cart of maid goodies — including extra soaps, shampoos, and small liquor bottles designed to make regular people feel like giants. A white apron, tied around her waist completes the ensemble. A pair of dark rimmed glasses frame her dark eyes.

Before there's time to respond, the handle of the door turns, the maid doesn't intend to wait in the hallway.

Porter curls an eyebrow skeptically and yanks back on the handcuffs, matching Vasha pull for pull. "Captain Porter," he informs her. "CIA. I'd take it easy if I were you. I stitched you up as best as I could, but I'm no surgeon."

Despite the friendliness of his words, there's an implied threat lurking in his tone. A darker, more ominous edge.

"I saved your life," he continues. "If you don't have the courtesy to be grateful, at least have the decency to be silent. And stand up. We're on the move as of now."

Taking his own advice, Porter gets up from his chair and hauls Vasha along behind him on his way to the door. When he gets there, he props his foot against it and calls out, "Come back in five minutes!"

"My life would not have required saving if it were not for you, Captain." Vasha emits low, complying somewhat with his order as he pulls her along to the door. She's resisting as much as she can, unfortunately the strength in her injured body doesn't quite match up to his.

The brunette doesn't have any inclination of remaining completely silent, "What you are doing is against the laws of my country and yours. You will allow me to go free, otherwise my father will be forced to create an international scandal." His threat is matched by whispered one of her own, hers accompanied by a smug smirk.

As he busies himself with maintaining their privacy, she lifts their cuffed hands to examine the lock a little better. She twists her wrist, curling it closer to her body, forcing his handto come up with hers.

As the door is stopped by Porter's foot, the maid's eyes narrow, but she calls out pleasantly with that same singsong voice, "As you wish~" while the handle of the doorknob is released. The cart is moved along, disappearing away from the door with a squeaky wheel and presumably away from the pair hidden in the hotel room.

But the maid doesn't go far, disappearing around a corner, cart in tow for a just few moments. Quiet determination as rule of thumb.

"Don't get cute," Porter says briskly, twisting his wrist and latching onto Vasha's arm with cold, unyielding fingers. "I don't give a damn about your opinion. You're coming with me." He drags her toward the door none-too-gently, retaining his grip to make the struggle look a bit less… bondagelike. "Now move your ass!"

Sometimes people are so idealistically young that just being around them makes you feel old. I miss East Germany.

Abruptly, Porter realizes he's staring. He gives Vasha another tug, pulling her out into the hallway.

Once in the hallway, Vasha wrestles free from Porter's grip. Though she can't go anywhere without him, she can make his life much more difficult. Her eyes dart around the walls, the doors, the carpet, the fake potted plant at the end of the hallway, looking for anything that could help her.

Glaring at him, she wrenches her entire body, throwing herself toward the wall. She scrambles with her free hand to try to reach the pull tab before he can yank her back. Vasha barely manages to hook her middle finger over the tab when she feels herself being forced away.

The fire alarm shrieks to life and at the same time Vasha matches it with her own voice. "FIRE!!" Because no one actually responds if a woman is screaming for help.

At the raucous, the cart rounds the corner and barrels down the hall towards the pair it's trajectory imminent — sent with a heavy push by the maid, even in light of the fire-related screams. The blonde follows after it, her 9 mm in hand as she rounds the space.

Victory's features harden with that same determination. Her eyes narrow, her nostrils flare, her jaw tightens, and she sucks in a deep breath, relying on the adrenaline as her wonder drug, bringing focus to her game.

Even in her maid dress she bounds forward quickly, her legs only slightly stilted by the pumps and restrictiveness of the dress, like she runs in dresses all of the time. Her gun, however, is positioned at Porter in particular. "FREEZE!"

"I think you'll find that was very ill-advised," Porter says, his voice tightly controlled as he grips Vasha's elbow and steers her toward an exit. The exodus is spurred by the appearance of an impossibly tiny pistol. He presses the Semmerling against the small of his captive's back, keeping it concealed from casual view with his own torso. "No more dicking around," he growls. "Outside. Now. Or I blow the back of you out the front of you."

Porter's threat and Victory's occur almost simultaneously. As ordered, he halts.

Just for a second.

Then he spins around and snaps off a shot. Quick as a snake, he yanks on Vasha's arm and drags her around a corner. "WE ARE LEAVING!" he shouts. Rather than cycling like a normal automatic, his pistol has locked itself with the slide open. Grunting, he he hooks the edge of the receiver on the side seam of his pants and manually operates it, chambering another round.

First feeling the pistol pointed at her back, then turning to see Victory's gun pointed at her, Vasha takes the lesser of two evils. She's hooked to Porter, knows who he is, knows what is likely to be in store for her. Victory, something of an unknown element, could likely be aiming at her.

"This way," she breathes as they round the corner. Her hand finds Porter's, simply for ease of travel, and she drags him toward the stairwell. "Concentrate your fire, Captain, I will lead us out." The plan relies on him trusting her, at least for the moment.

Kicking the door to the stairwell open, she starts running down the stairs. Her free hand is on the banister, her other still clasped with Porters, as she tries to navigate them toward safety.

When Porter turns around, Victory ducks, sliding around it.

The cart is now used as a shield, particularly as the rounds are sent in Victory's direction. Her own weapon is fired twice, with little time to take true aim. With the cart, she continues her pursuit, rolling it in front of her as she moves more inhibited now, but only for the moments that guide her prey to the stairs. She unfolds herself from it, giving it another thrust forward before shifting her weight and sprinting after them, staying close to the walls.

She fires another two rounds.

It isn't an ideal plan. Not by a long shot. It'll do, though. Porter allows himself to be led by Vasha, trusting her judgment to keep them free from potential threats at the front while he defends against a definite one from the rear. His pistol balances delicately in his hand, light as a feather while he covers doorways, hallways, and stairwells. He answers the first two shots with a wild one of his own and then swears as he works the action on his pistol.

The stairs trip him up a bit. Walking backward down a set while someone chases you with a gun and someone else drags you along is even more complicated than it sounds. He almost falls once, but regains his balance at the last possible second. His slip is a fortunate one. A half-instant after he stumbles, Victory's second volley nails the wall where his head had been.

Once again, he answers her shots with a single .45 slug, this one more carefully aimed. "Better hurry," he urges Vasha. "I'm hit."

Cursing under her breath, Vasha doesn't chance looking back to see exactly where Porter is hit or how badly he's injured. Instead, she picks up the pace, another door yanked open, this time to the second floor and she pulls him through.

Turning, she jerks Porter as she takes the time to close the door. "The plant! Get it!" She points to the artificial plant next to him, being a little too busy keeping the door shut with her weight. When he finally passes it, she rips the plastic trunk from the pot with one hand and slides it through the loop of the handle and across the jam. For now, it's barred, at least enough to hold their gunman up for the moment or two it will take her to break it.

Together, they race down the hallway until she spies another couple leaving their suite. Vasha smiles and tucks herself against Porter as they pass the other two. Their door is still closing, was still closing, when she pushes him through and closes it behind them. Now is the time that she picks to be quiet.

The better aimed shot cuts through the skirt of her dress just shy of her hip, leaving a neat little hole and a small gasp of surprise from Victory, giving her pause for several instants, and Vasha and Porter a little extra distance. Until she pulls herself together again, hand running through that blonde wig as she runs down the staircase.

She pushes against the door, only to find it stuck. Cursing quietly, she leans harder to no avail. Taking a few steps back, she runs at it, kicking her foot against it with a significant momentum and busting that plastic trunk. Unfortunately, this has two consequences. The first? She breaks her heel. With an odd smirk, she busts the second against the stair case. The second? The momentum doesn't exactly stop with the door. As she pushes through it, she nearly runs into the second couple leaving their suite, issuing them a tight lipped smile.

Fortunately she'd thought to lower the gun before using that kick. She slips the small weapon into her pocket as she takes stilted steps down the hallway towards Porter and Vasha.

Groaning quietly, Porter sags against a wall and shakes his head to clear it. An instant later he's worming his fingers between the buttons of his work shirt. A quick jerk and the shirt tears open to reveal an articulated kevlar vest with a spent pistol slug flattened high on the right side. "Oh, Christ. That hurts," he grumbles as he pries the slug free from his armor and drops it to the carpeted floor.

Despite new bruises and a cracked rib or two, Porter is taking advantage of a few precious seconds to ponder. The cushion of two locked doors is a brief respite, but a valuable one. His eyes roam around the room, analyzing the contents. "I have a plan," he says as he leads Vasha toward the bed. "Give me a hand."

With her assistance, he pulls the mattress free and shoves it over toward a large window. One of his precious bullets is expended to crack the glass, then he shatters it by forcing the mattress through. The queen-sized pad bounces and flips for three stories before it splashes into the pool.

"Okay… Don't miss the mattress. You hear me? Don't. Miss." Porter takes a deep breath. Another. And another. "Man, I hate this part."

"You are an insane man. Why do you not just shoot her?" Vasha hesitates before climbing to the sill. Whatever precious seconds she's wasted doesn't seem to bother her as much as jumping from the window onto a small target while chained to a man she would rather be rid of.

Matching Porter breath for breath, the native gives him a quick sidelong glance as she grabs his hand again. She doesn't allow him to wrestle free of her grip, and for explanation she offers, "I will not allow you to dislocate my shoulder in a free fall. Now…"

An almost silent count in Afrikaans sends her and the American through the air and into the pool below. The mattress buckles and takes in more water as they hit, sinking a few inches below the surface.

Having left her cart upstairs, along with the master key that opens the rooms in this hotel, Victory needs to pick the lock. Pulling the wig from her head and allowing it to drop to the floor, hair underneath pinned in a mishmash of disarray, she draws two pins which are tugged simultaneously to that familiar click, which pulls Victory's lips upwards. She plucks the wig from the floor and readjusts it (very poorly) on her head. It's clearly NOT her real hair.

She bursts through the entrance only to hear a gun firing. "Shit," she murmurs as she slides to the shot only to see the pair jump through the window.

When the pair hit the mattress, they're met with several rounds of gunfire as a very stern Victory Ames stares at them. Target acquired.

"Because I only have one bullet leeeeeeeeeeeft~" Porter shouts as they sail through the air and land on the mattress with a wet, heavy-sounding slap.

As uncomfortable as the landing is, the thick pad does an excellent job of distributing their weight. Porter, at least, has survived the fall without any broken bones. He rolls into the water and swims toward the edge of the pool with Vasha in tow and his free hand dragging the mattress along for cover. Bullets splash all around them. One strikes the rim of the pool as they approach, sending a chip of concrete to slice a thin gash along Porter's cheekbone. "We have to keep moving," he urges Vasha, blinking his watering eye.

His waterlogged Semmerling has been reholstered. Even if one bullet were enough, it's hopelessly wet at this point. Now the only chance they have is to flee.

Chlorine coupled with wounds that haven't healed over all the way is a nasty combination. It's only made worse when a bullet slices through the water and zips across the arm that attaches Vasha to to Porter. The woman's already ruined riding gear seems to handle the abuse about as well as its wearer. Stained, dirty, and heavy at the feet due to the waterlogged boots, she tries to keep up with the spy.

The couple elicit more than a few stares from vacationers. A suntanning woman lower her sunglasses to eye the two. She squeals as they pass by and some stray droplets of water fly onto her bronzed skin. This earns an over the shoulder glare from Vasha, one that's obviously jealous.

As the pair move again, Victory takes a deep breath before taking a running jump of her own out the window. With a pained groan she falls on the mattress, worse for wear. Peeling herself away from it she swims to the edge of the pool and pulls herself out, the wig forgotten and left floating in the pool for some other guest to find.

Her own gun waterlogged, her shoes completely gone (also floating in the pool), and her feet literally pounding the pavement, Victory looks worse for wear as she bounds after the pair. Water-smeared non-prescription glasses slide off her nose as she abandons them on the ground amid her sprint, her brunette locks falling from the pins with every step.

Porter continues to herd Vasha on as they reach dry land. He takes them on a zigzagging path to avoid gunfire and then breaks them through a row of hedges. Here they have visual cover, at least. Porter skids to an almost comical halt, lifting his free hand to forestall any protests. Then he lifts his foot, grips the heel of his boot, and twists it sharply. The heel comes off cleanly and is hollow. It contains a small disk made of a silky, high-gloss putty and one blasting cap.

"Hold on to you tits," the spy advises as he screws the blasting cap into the puck of C4. Then, grinning like a boy less than half his age, he throws the improvised grenade over the hedge and into the pool.

When it detonates, the spray of water makes for a fantastic distraction. Porter has them up and running again before the echoes of the blast have faded from the air.

For some odd reason, the makeshift grenade doesn't make Vasha feel much better about their situation. The short rest gives the mercenary a good opportunity to assay the damage done to her body over the past twenty four hours. She winces as she peels the ragged ends of her overshirt from the bullet wound on her arm. It's streaming blood down her arm, likely leaving a good trail for the other woman to follow.

When Porter starts dragging her again, she lags heavily behind him. "Captain, we must find a place to hide for a few minutes. We must tie my arm lest the blood leads her to us."

The blast provides an excellent distraction, yielding screams from various onlookers and yells about the activity.

The spray of water behind her causes Victory to hit the deck again. Seconds later, however, she's pushing herself from the ground with a sort of push-up, still determined to catch her target. Once back on her feet, she spies the blood.

A sly smile spreads over her lips as she follows the trail, the red trail, leaving her exactly what she needs. Raspy breaths pull her forward, summoning her towards the pair, even amid the chaos.

"Here," Porter offers. He rips off his already bedraggled overshirt and offers it to Vasha. "No time like the present."

For a moment it seems as if he might remove his vest, but he thinks better of it in the end. Armor good. He tugs impatiently at the collar of his undershirt and glances toward his captive. "You'd better hurry. If this is who I think it is, I don't know how long I can hold her off with one hand."

When the enemy agent sprints into sight, Porter settles into a comfortable crouch and raises his free hand defensively. A flash of inspiration leads him to draw his tiny pistol again. Not to fire it, but to heft it experimentally and swing it as one might swing a paperweight or a candlestick.

Taking the shirt, Vasha hurriedly ties it around her arm and tightens the makeshift bandage with her free hand and teeth. With the arm taken care of, the brunette glances at Porter with one raised eyebrow. "And who is this woman shooting at us? Another lover that has been jilted?" Her sardonic words are expressed with a smug smirk, though his sudden crouch as her melting against the wall.

"I do not enjoy being the target of your enemies. Free me and I will forgive this slight." It seems a fair bargain, at least in her eyes.

Still following the trail of blood, like a more disturbed version of Gretel, Victory comes into range, her eyes scanning the ground in front of her all the while until the targets enter range. The sly smile consumes all of her features likes the Cheshire cat, a disembodied smile, and not really all there.

Like second nature rather than actual thought, her hands defensively rise to her face as she closes that distance. Her feet wholly unprotected thanks to the absence of shoes, she wields one foot towards Porter, it's without thought and is met with an exhalation of breath.

Tethered as he is, Porter doesn't attempt to dodge the blow. Instead, he lashes out with his pistol to both strike and deflect. Though the Semmerling only weighs a few ounces, sometimes that's all it takes. "You still fight like shit!" he shouts breathlessly, swinging the gun again in a wide, haymakeresque arc. "You still fight like shit!"

With that, he's backing away. He bumps into Vasha and gives her a push. "Go!" he calls out. "Go-go-go!"

Victory's kick toward Porter has the woman he's chained to narrowing her eyes a little. The enemy chose the stronger target, foolish move in the mind of the mercenary. Unless… Her eyes widen a little bit and she backs up as many paces as she can while still hooked to the American agent, almost going as far as to pull him backwards. Instead, he rises and fights back with the one hand he has free.

Vasha stumbles as Porter pushes her, only regaining her footing by grabbing onto his arm. Her nails dig in for the length of one sprinting step. Unlike Victory, she still has a pair of riding boots on, and as heavy as they are… This time the South African smiles. As they pass by an alley, Vasha pulls sideways to dodge into it. Every discarded bottle and jar that she sees is picked up and smashed violently behind them.

"Ha! We've never met! Early for — Alzheimers!" the tone is haughty, lacking any feeling or emotion — that quiet girl-next-door quality she bore when she was in the CIA. The strike hits her left knee, bringing Victory crumpling to the ground with another curse, "Fuuuuuck."

As quickly as she fallen she's getting up, a little slower now. Her persistence seems to carry, even as her run turns to a slight hobble. She considers pursuit, but stops short at the breaking jars and bottles, some things aren't worth it. Without shoes, she isn't going to venture down the alley, she will, however, cut in another way.

Porter cackles appreciatively as Vasha lays down her landmines of broken glass for their barefooted pursuer. "Nice move," he acknowledges. He even goes so far as to add to the mess, kicking and scraping his heavy work boots through garbage to spread it out as well.

As soon as they leave Victory's sight, he brings Vasha to a halt in front of a locked door. After bracing himself, he kicks the door hard enough to send it flying inward and leave it sagging on its hinges. Inside lies a video arcade composed largely of poker, blackjack, and slot machines. "C'mon," he urges, tugging Vasha through the doorway. A few steps take them into the coatroom, where he avails himself of a blue blazer, a fedora, and a light ladies' overcoat for Vasha. "We'll go to ground here while I dry out my weapon. If she finds us again, we'll be ready."

Be still my shaking hands, for how you would tremble if you knew where I would take you next.

A brief tremor travels down Porter's arm and runs through his fingertips. He stills it by clenching his fist.