The diner Dani Moonstar & Sally “Skids” Blevins were in was a complete dive. The looks the duo received from the other guests, mostly truckers and workfolk, betrayed the fact that it had been years since two young women entered this place. Dani pointed towards a table in the back, and they walked past all the other men in the diner. Some whistling as Sally passed did not go unnoticed.

“Why do they make us wear these skintight uniforms?” Sally sighed

“I guess Nick Fury always knew that the female agents would look great in them” Dani answered smiling.

“Oh great… Little chance of that protocol ever changing with Stark in charge!”

“Girl, you should be happy that he didn’t reduce the uniforms to bikini’s!”
Sally laughed at that. They sat down, and they ordered two cups of coffee.

“Seriously though, I can’t say Stark is the worst boss I ever had.” Sally said

“From the woman who worked for Stryfe, Magneto, Exodus en Cyclops, that’s not much of an endorsement”

“I guess not. You down on Cyclops?”

“Sanctimonious bastard threw out of the X-Mansion after M-Day. Hung me out to dry, when I really could have used some company. I’ve been a loner for a long time, but losing my powers…. For a while I thought I lost myself!”

“Scott has always done right by me, but yeah… I can see you hating the guy”

“He and his woman think they are the rulers of their own mutant empire. He can have it! I don’t need him!”

“Good for you! Wish I had your confidence”
A brief silence followed, interrupted by two truckers who came up to the table Dani & Sally were sitting at.

“Hey sweetness… You got something for me and my boy here, or do you only give it up for Pocahontas here…” one of the big men said to Sally, pointing at Dani.

“Did he just say that?” Dani asked

“You want these f*cks? They’re yours”

“Nah, I think we can both do with some venting”

One of the truckers got angry, and said “You got quite a mouth, do you girl? Why don’t ya put it…”

********

“Can I just ask you something?” Markus asked Kurt as they entered with Ilyana right behind them.

“Vas?”

“The guys who shot up the bar were probably after me. They also probably knew about you. Do you think we’ll be safe here in you hotel-room?”

“I’m improvising.” Kurt answered slightly embarrassed

“Kurt never watched many spy-movies… He’s more of an historical action fan, right?” Ilyana chimed in.

“A girl carrying an axe is making fun of my love of historical action movies” Kurt remarked with some annoyance, and he closed the curtains of his room. Markus went through the cupboards and bathroom, and started feeling for bugs under every ridge he could see. Kurt almost disappeared completely in the darkness, and he ordered his two companions:

“Lay on the ground and wait for it…. They’ll come… Let’s try to take someone captive”
About five minutes later Ilyana got up

“They’re not coming” she said dryly, and turned on the lights

“Get down, you….” Kurt yelled

“I agree with her, Kurt… They’d have done something already” Markus said as he put his guns away.

Kurt looked around in silence, and then also got up. He sat down on his bed, and watched as Markus raided the mini-bar. He passed out some shots of strong drink to Kurt and Ilyana.

“You drink now? Last time we met you were technically a minor…” Kurt asked Ilyana.

“I’ve never been much for technical stuff” Ilyana answered, and opened a small bottle of gin.

“Don’t look like no minor to me…” Markus mumbled, as he poured a small bottle of scotch down his throat.

After a moment of silence and emptying a little bottle himself, Kurt spoke: “Now, Markus, I think you better tell us exactly what in God’s name is going on here.”

***********

Tony Stark walked into the secure medical bay. There were four scientists working, two on the subject on the table, and two operating appliances. There were 8 security guards there, all lined up along the walls of the room. Stark walked over to the table and saw the unconscious form of Omega Red laid out before him. A man in his late thirties, wearing thin glasses and showing scars around his neck, came up to Stark.

“Director, did you come to check our progress?”

“Not really. I understand there was an altercation in the hallway earlier, with our subject here waking up.”

“Indeed. He is growing a tolerance for the compound we constructed to subdue him. I do not think he can be put under for more than five hours at a time anymore. Perhaps some of the Initiative-recruits could….”

“Damn healing factor… It seems every mutant has one these days… And there will be no Initiative involvement in this. This is a SHIELD operation, and I want to keep the two strictly separate.”

“Whatever you say, boss…”

“Are we any closer to cracking this whole carbonadium deal?”

“Afraid not, Sir. We still have no clue as to what that stuff is actually supposed to be, but we do know that….”

“…It has nothing to do with adamantium. That’s what I concluded. There’s just no way that those tentacles are metal in any way. And if that isn’t true….”

“Sir?”

“Let’s just say that I wonder how the Soviets made this Super Soldier all those years ago.”