Vibration permeated the length of the aircraft, causing Steve’s teeth to rattle. He clenched his jaw, shifting slightly, though the bulky weight of his equipment didn’t allow him much movement. He didn’t mind. He’d been in the same position for the past seven hours, he could endure a little longer. It turned out he didn’t need to, as a voice called out from the cockpit“Captain, we’re over the dropzone sir!”
Cap’s eyes snapped open as he stood. He shuffled forward awkwardly, equipment pouches bulging along all four limbs. As loading bay door descended, Cap checked his parachute straps were secure, then his sidearm, ammunition, assault rifle, and shield were all in place. “Don’t wait up boys!” Cap yelled back toward the cockpit, as he raced down the ramp and leaped into the slipstream. HYDRA would never know what hit them.
Freezing air buffeted his face, and the only sound was that of the aircraft as it receded into the distance. Soon cold, black, silence engulfed Captain America. The odometer on his wrist lit up in dull red numbers. 45 seconds before the time to open his ‘chute. A bright point of light suddenly opened beneath him, rapidly approaching .Uh oh You didn’t spend years as an Avenger without being able to recognize a dimensional portal when it opened right beneath you. Well, at least I packed my shield... he thought to himself, as blinding white light engulfed him…
The light receded as quickly as it had appeared, and for a confused moment Steve thought he might simply have moved ahead in time a few hours- he was still in freefall thousands of feet in the air, though now in a bright sunlit sky. As he narrowed his eyes he recognized he was mistaken- the topography was entirely different; a ruined city spread out beneath him, surrounded by blasted wastes save for a dense forest to the north. Steve pulled the rip-cord of his parachute. He jerked in his harness as the canvas canopy opened above, bringing his plummeting descent to an abrupt halt.
He hung there in the air, the straps creaking with his weight as he decided his next course of action. Location is irrelevant, a safe landing zone is priority 1. Reaching up, he grasped for the hanging silver handles of his guide-lines, which would allow him to steer his decent with a degree of precision. His attention was wholly focused on the effort, and he did not hear the massive creature diving toward him until it was too late. A rush of claw and bone and muscle sent Steve spinning. He rocked dangerously far to his left, almost causing his parachute to collapsed. He checked his harnesses to ensure he wasn’t about to fall out of the sky, and looked around for his attacker- but it had disappeared. Steve’s eyes scanned the sky, searching desperately. There. His razor-sharp vision picked up an indistinct moving against a cloud-bank, nearly two hundred meters from him.
Snapping into action, Steve grabbed for his assault rifle from his side. He jammed the butt high against his shoulder, and pressed his eye to the telescopic sight. It was a massive, feathered creature with great wings and four limbs dangling beneath it’s muscular form. It turned, and he caught a glimpse of an orange beak and a proud, white eagle’s head. A griffon. It's a damn griff-There was a rush of air, and this time Steve’s reflexes saved him. He grabbed the parachute lines above him tightly, and pulled him body up so his head was facing the ground. An instant later, a second massive form slashed through the space he had previously occupied. It wheeled away, and Steve let himself drop back down, rocking hin his harness for a moment. Correction, two damn griffons... Steve spun his rifle around to bring it to bear on the creature, and fired a burst of rounds. The monster wasn't phased, as it pumped its wings and ascended in the air.
The other came into view on his left, and the two griffons called out to one another with high pitched shrieks. Like ballet dancers they arced gracefully through the air, crossing past one-another as they banked back toward their prey. They were about a hundred and fifty meters from, and twenty meters above, Steve- one arcing down from his right, the other to his left. He yanked his shield around onto his left arm, and rested his rifle over top of it.
One hundred meters and closing.
The three round burst caught the brown headed Griffon in a leg, and it twirled in the air as it shrieked in pain. It quickly righted itself, however, its leg dripping a trail of blood into the air.
50 and closing.
The white-headed Griffon screamed its fury, pumping its wings even faster as it sought to close the distance.
25 and closing. Adjust for wind and my own descent speed.
Steve tilted the barrel of the gun right three inches, taking the Griffon entirely out his sights. He hesitated, as a gust of the prevailing wind confirmed his decision.
Red gore exploded out of the top of the brown griffon’s head, as he nosedived abruptly down toward the ground, leaving a trail of feathers hanging on the air. He looked up over the edge of his sight to see the other griffon was seconds away from taking him
Too close- improvise!
Dropping his rifle, Steve drew back his shield and with a roar slammed it into the oncoming creature. The two of them were entangled in a blur of flailing limbs and feathers. A talon cut one of Steve’s harness straps, and the parachute collapsed instantly, sending them both plummeting toward the ground.
His rifle was tumbling through the air next to him, still attached by a line of webbing. Steve found himself face-to-face with the massive creature, and barely brought his shield up in time to blunt a strike from its beak.“Come on you ugly bastard!” he yelled, as a pair of talons sliced across his abdomen and scraped against his rib cage.
The battle was furious and confused, as the ground became closer and closer. Out of time! Steve thought, and in a last-ditch effort he struck at the Griffon’s beak. It jerked its head at the last minute, sending it through the straps which held his shield taut to his arm. Without a moment’s hesitation, Steve seized the opportunity, and kicked off from the griffon with both feet. The two sailed apart, the griffon wheeling through the air and trying in vain to bat the shield from it’s beak as it retreated.
The ground was extremely close now, an area that seemed to be inhabited rising up toward him. He yanked at his emergency chute, and the small bunch of canvas opened above him instantly. He felt his already damaged ribs crack at the sudden jerk, and barely five seconds later he struck the ground. He was thrown forward into a roll, his considerable momentum carrying him back into the air for an instant, then sending him careening off a vehicle. He landed hard on a patch of open ground and rolled to a stop.
Steve blinked, blood was running down the side of his face, and his torso was bleeding freely. He rolled over onto his back, even though every part of him screamed with pain at the movement. He tilted his head up, looking around him. He was in an inhabited area, that much was certain, where precisely was anyone's guess. He lay his head back down on the dirt, struggling to breathe against the pain in his torso. The silhouette of a woman blocked out the sun above him, and he lifted his left hand for a salute. “Captain Steven Rogers, US Army, at your service. Pleased to meet you ma'am... ” he managed, with a wry, smile.