**********

The hall in which the Colonel had gathered his forces was a total mess. An outer wall had been smashed by a flying vehicle encased in a force field, the assault on the helicarrier, though successful, had cost them slightly more casualties than projected, and there was every indication that the SHIELD people that followed them had survived and had made a clean getaway. The colonel took of his woolen facemask and put his glasses back on, enabling him to have a clearer view of his surroundings with his one good eye. The place was a mess, and his people were in a holding pattern after the assault on SHIELD. He asked the first man of any rank he saw for a status report, and what he got was confirmation of what he already suspected. The officer told him they did have some footage of the pursuit of the flying car. The colonel was eager to see that, as he was very surprised at the actions of his pursuers and the fact that they seemed to know what Zero, his robot-teleporter, represented.

Amidst the chaos, the colonel followed his officer to the command center, and he watched the footage from the helmet-cam the lead pursuer had been equipped with. He saw the fight between Dani Moonstar and the pursuing commando, ending in the bullets to the face, blood spatters and the smashing of the camera as it fell to the ground, hundreds of feet below. The officer asked the Colonel what his orders were, but the Colonel did not respond immediately.

“Colonel??? Colonel Vazhin???”

“…”

“Colonel Vazhin, what are your orders, sir?”

“We failed in our objective with SHIELD…. He’s here….” Vazhin spoke softly

“Colonel?”

“We’re bugging out! Effective immediately…. Have Salinger prepare Zero, we’re moving out in 15 minutes, and I want this place sanitized!!!!”

The officer saluted, and ran out to convey Colonel Vazhin’s orders to all present. The Colonel restarted the footage. “Dani Moonstar… Hadn’t considered her a player… And the SHIELD agent… Have to look her up… She used to be MLF….” When the camera caught a glimpse of the unconscious Omega Red, Vazhin froze the image. “So… Instead of being part of the solution to the problems you caused, you’ve come here to add to them….” Vazhin’s mind momentarily slipped back across the years, and he saw himself once more as a leading member of the Russian Intelligence Community, the first one to realize the importance of mutants and superhumans in the balance of power. Some called him the Soviet Nick Fury, and it was true that they had always had more in common than just the loss of an eye. One thing had always been the main difference between Fury and himself: where Fury always fought to achieve a goal, Vazhin had always been concerned with the balance. His greatest acts had been in service to that balance, and even today, with the Soviet Union gone, he was still maintaining the ancient balance of the Cold War. If only his Soviet Superiors had known what he knew.

“Colonel…. Codename: Sick Boy has made contact while you were out.” His first officer interrupted his reverie

“And….??”

“He has handled the infiltrator, and has remained in position, awaiting further orders, sir”

Vazhin smiled. He highly doubted the conversation went anywhere near as smooth. Still there was something to be said for outside contracting, even outside the mutant ghetto.

“Call him. Tell him to lie in wait. Somebody is bound to find the body of Maverick, and I have a hunch that Codename: Sick Boy will be in just the right place to work on the mutant-problem that’s been plaguing me tonight. Tell him to hold of on killing should he run into a girl with an Axe…. “

“A girl with an Axe?”

“Yes…. I have a feeling that Red Flag # 133 may prove to be of some use to me in the future”

The officer left, and Vazhin stared once more at the image of Omega Red. “It’s a good thing I’m Russian, and that I already believe fate will get you in the end…. “ He thought to himself. Than he got
up, took out his AK, emptied an entire clip into the computer hardware around him, and left the room, casually tossing two live hand grenades over his shoulder. His troops had already gathered, carrying anything of value that was not nailed down. Nobody would know they were ever here.

***********

Skids & Dani stepped out of their damaged flying car, and tried to take in the surroundings. It was night, or late in the evening at least. Skids got a first aid kit out of the car, and tried to take care of Dani’s swollen eye and cheek. Dani was reluctant to accept at first, but allowed it.

“That should do it..” Skids said as she put a small patch over Dani’s left eyebrow.

“ Nice bedside manner…. Did you know that I once wanted to be a nurse?”

“You? No way!! When was this??”

“When I was about six… Changed it to wild game hunter a couple of weeks later, never looked back!” Dani answered

Skids smiled, but then the sight of Omega Red, lying unconscious in the back of their car caught her eye.

“What are we going to do with him?” she asked Dani.

“Hell if I know. Why’d we take him with us in the first place?”

“Well.. I was still carrying the weapon that could take him down…. It just seemed like thing to do, you know?”

“All right…. I thought you had lost your mind! That thing has taken down all the X-Men at once!” Dani said

Skids smiled at that: “Did you just say that we are better than the X-Men?”

“Nope… We just have better equipment! I’ll trade a Blackbird for this flying Car any day! If we take Stark up on his offer, I’ll make sure to demand at least two of these!”

Skids was laughing, but couldn’t get Omega Red out of her mind.
“That’s all very nice, but…. What are we gonna do with Omega Red?”

“For now, we’ll keep that weapon handy, to zap him as soon as he even wiggles one of those coils of his. I’m  trying to figure out where we are….”

“We could have used to computers on the car, but they got shot up during the fight”

“That’s okay…. My parents and grandfather raised me to be an outdoors-girl… I should be able to make something out from observing the stars and the moon” Dani explained, as she began staring at the sky. It was too cloudy to make out much, but the moon was visible through the clouds, as were some stars on the horizon.

“I think we’re in Europe, a bit to the north and the east, I believe….” Dani said

“North-eastern Europe? And we just happen to be following a bunch of commando’s who freed Omega Red? We might be in Russia!”

“Russia? Is this some cold-war thing?”

“No clue! I spend my specialization training reading up on mutant affairs, recognizing the 10 most wanted, stuff like that…” Skids said

“The mutant most wanted? Really? In what spot was I?” Dani asked with excitement

“High 80’s I believe, not really wanted, more like flagged…,” Skids answered, “He was in the top 10, though!” she said, pointing at Omega Red.

“You’re right… We have to do something with him….,” Dani spoke thoughtfully, “Let’s try to get that car running again first… Do you know anything about that?”

“Sally to the rescue!” Skids said, and she opened up the hood of the car. After examining it for a few moments, she declared that the car should run. Both Dani and Skids got into the car, and Sally tried taking of, only to discover that the car could not fly, but it could still drive.

“Well, that’s a shame….” Dani said, “We could have used it to get a birds-eye view of our surroundings….”

“I’ll get us to a road, than we can see from there.” Sally answered.

As she turned the car, Sally had to put her foot down on the breaks to avoid hitting the man who was standing right in front of the car.

************

Kurt had just entered the small boardinghouse on Pfaster Strasse, and snuck through the corridors. Ilyana had pointed out to him from the outside that their destination was the room that included the front windows on the left side on the third floor. They had agreed that Markus and Ilyana would wait in the lounge of the hotel across the street, with Ilyana putting a glamour on her Axe to disguise it as an umbrella, and the both of them as ordinary, well dressed visitors to the hotel. Kurt was to scout ahead this time, something the German X-Man excelled at. He became almost invisible in the darkened corridors, and could teleport anywhere to get out should things get to hairy,
Kurt walked softly through the corridor on the third floor. He looked through the keyhole of the rook he was looking for, and saw that a small light was on in the room, something that had not been visible from the outside thanks to the thick and heavy curtains. Kurt also noticed something else, the unmistakable smell of blood. As Nightcrawler he did not have any enhanced mutant senses, but he had been in enough battles and deadly fights to recognize the ferrous smell in the air, that could only mean one thing: huge amounts of blood had been spilled, probably in the room they were looking for.

He looked through the keyhole once more, and concentrated on the room he was looking into so he could visualize how the room would look if he were standing in it. Anticipating anything, he teleported inside.

**********

As soon as the car came to a stop, Sally threw her force field around her & Dani. Dani grabbed Sally’s gun, and at once pointed it at the man blocking their way.

“You have exactly 2 seconds to raise your hands and tell me what you want!” she yelled at the man.

“No need to get upset… I’m here to see an old friend…” the man said while he slowly raised his hands.

Dani saw that man was quite old, and impeccably dressed, as she answered “Old friend? I don’t know you! Sally?”

“Never seen him…” Sally answered, straining to hold up her force field as she was still weakened.

“My dears, as lovely as you are, I was not speaking about you” the old man answered, as he lowered his hands, and started moving around the car to Dani’s side.

“Keep ‘em up! Who are you, old man?” Dani said as the man approached.

“I’ll not insult your intelligence by giving you a false name. My codename back in the day was Traumfanger… I suppose it will still do nicely” the man spoke and came very close to Dani.

Dani couldn’t understand why, but somehow she trusted the man. She had always been an intuitive woman, and let the man approach, still keeping her eyes and weapon trained on him. Sally was less trusting. She extended her force field around the entire vehicle, straining as she did so. Dani noticed Sally’s heavy breathing, and said:

“It’s okay, Skids… I think it’s all right…” as she lowered her weapon. Skids took her force field down and relaxed.

“You have remarkable insight, miss” the old man spoke, and he turned his gaze upon the unconscious Omega Red in the back of the car. He held out his hand, and touched Omega Red’s face, stroking it gently. Skids and Dani did not know what to make of this. An old man they met in the night, in the middle of the night, was caressing the face of one of the most brutal murderers in the world. Dani saw a tear streak down the old man’s parched cheek as he bit his lip.

“Oh, Arkady… What did we do to you…” he sobbed, and tears ran freely down his face.

***********

As soon as he felt something touching his back, Kurt teleported three feet up. He had appeared in the room and the boardinghouse, and something had come at immediately. Kurt spun around, and saw Bullseye coming at him with two sai’s, still has favored weapon since he killed Elektra with them all those years back. Kurt jumped out of the way of the sai’s, and a backward flip brought him in position to kick at the back of Bullseye’s back. “Oh wow, I never killed an X-Men before” Bullseye said as he jumped back up, and one of the Sai’s flew at Kurt. Kurt teleported again, and landed in position to punch him in the jaw. The blow should have stunned him al the least, but it had no effect. Bullseye returned without delay and rammed Kurt in the face with his adamantium-reinforced skull. Disoriented, Kurt teleported away, but Bullseye came at him again with the sai, and Kurt knew he was in trouble. The reflexes of his opponent were incredible, his bones were adamantium laced like Wolverine’s, and he was an expert fighter and marksman. Kurt teleported behind Bullseye as he avoided the second sai and his opponent recovered the other. Kurt then grabbed Bullseye, and teleported a number of times around the room with him, hoping to knock him out. When the assassin’s body went limp in his arms, Kurt stopped.

In a split second, Kurt realized his mistake, as Bullseye’s body tensed up, and he smashed his skull backwards into Kurt’s face. “Now would be a good time to tell you about my not feeling anything, blue boy?” Bullseye asked in his sneering voice. Kurt was groggy, and he could just make out through his bloody face that Bullseye threw a small iron ball at him. Kurt knocked back with the impact, through the window and fell into the street. He was too groggy to teleport, and only managed to turn in his fall to make the landing a little less painful, although it hurt him badly regardless.

Kurt got up, and looked up. He saw a knife coming at him, but managed to duck out of the way. Bullseye had jumped after it, and the assassin was upon him again, throwing pieces of the broken windowpane at him, preventing Kurt from teleporting. Bullseye got a little cocky, and slowed down to produce some shuriken. Kurt ducked away, jumped over Bullseye, and kicked him in the back as he landed. The kick would probably have crippled a normal man, but Bullseye got up and took out a gun and another knife. “What do I have to do to beat this guy?” Kurt thought, as he saw Markus and Ilyana come running into the street. Ilyana tried a teleport disk underneath Bullseye’s feet, but the assassin handily jumped away. The knife was thrown at Kurt, who teleported, and the bullets flew at Markus, who ducked behind a car. Ilyana ran at him with her axe raised in full demon-form, and it must have startled the assassin a little, as his shuriken round missed Ilyana’s chest, yet all of them hit Ilyana’s arm. She dropped the axe, and fell clutching the wounds. “What does he want with you, girl?” Bullseye called, as Kurt flew at him once more. The Assassin was making a faint, however, and as Kurt missed, Bullseye kicked him in the leg with the spikes on his boots, dropping Kurt instantly. Markus then came out wielding two Uzi’s, and shot up the entire area. Bullseye managed to grab Ilyana’s axe, before making a hasty exit, jumping behind a car, and running of under cover.

Markus came running towards Kurt & Ilyana. Kurt got up, and looked at the long gash along his left thigh. “I’m okay…. I’m okay…” Kurt said, “I just have a new respect for Daredevil…” he added, thinking how Bullseye had not only held his own, but had come close to defeating him. Ilyana got up, and turned to her two companions. She took the shuriken out of her arm, which hung limp along her body. Her eyes looked like fiery pits, and her voice sounded almost inhuman as she said, “I’ll get my axe, I’ll get his soul… This I swear!!!” Kurt and Markus were almost frightened by the terrible beauty before them, and Kurt breathed a sigh of relief as the fires went out and Ilyana collapsed.

**********

Vazhin and his aide were sitting in a small office space in which all kinds of hardware was being installed, as the first officer’s cell phone went of. The officer looked at it, and then at his superior.

“It’s Sick boy,” the officer said

“Give it to me” Vazhin said, and the officer gave it to him.

“Bullseye” Vazhin answered the phone

“Who is this? Where’s Ergov?” Bullseye spoke anxiously

“This is Ergov’s superior. What do you have?” Vazhin said in a calm manner

“Three people came… Did you know you have an X-Men problem?”

“I’m aware of that. What happened?”

“We fought. I hurt them. I hurt the blue guy and the girl. The man from the pictures was there. I could have killed the girl.”

“But you didn’t.”

“No, I didn’t. I have her axe.”

“We’ll arrange a drop.”

“No we won’t. I want a permanent cure, then you’ll get your axe.”

“Keep the axe then. Kill the mutants, kill the man, and just leave the girl alive. You’ll have your cure.”

Now that was the kind of talk Bullseye liked, but he was not stupid and asked: “There’s more than one mutant?”

“Two more. Girls. One depowered, one with force fields. If we don’t get them, you’ll have to.”

“No problem. I like killing girls” Bullseye giggled

“Now, can you bring me the axe?” Vazhin said

“Sure. To big for me anyway”

“My aide will call you to arrange a drop,” Vazhin said, and he hung up.

He handed the phone back to his officer, as he asked him: “Why did you tell him your name?”

“I never told him. Somebody must have spoken it to me as I was talking to him” Ergov answered

“I see.” Vazhin said, as he pulled his gun and shot Ergov right between his eyes.