***********

In the parking lot, Traumfanger looked up from Omega Red to see a van pull into the lot. 8 people jumped out and moved towards the hospital as the van hastily drove of. Omega Red looked up, too, and they saw that five of them were wearing the commando gear and weapons that had seen at the warehouse earlier that night. Three others bore no weapons, and instead of going for the hospital, they came straight at the vehicle Traumfanger and Omega Red were sitting in. Omega Red extended his coils, and Traumfanger drew his gun.

“Here it comes, Arkady!” Traumfanger said as he took the first shot.

**********

Scalphunter stepped out of the bushes near the ER entrance, and motioned his companion to follow him. Behind him, his fellow former Marauder Harpoon stepped out, and they silently went towards the entrance. Harpoon powered up one of his trademark weapons, and wiped the hair out of his scarred face, while Scalphunter cocked his rifle with one hand and took the Soulsword out of the sheet on his back.

“Give me all out carnage as I remove the surveillance equipment from this Sabra chick” Scalphunter instructed his partner, which the Inuit-assassin nodded to, “then we can see if we can join the fight in the reception.”

“On four” Scalphunter said, as he held the door handle of the ER room, “one-two-…”

BAMF!

*********

Markus and Illyana appeared on the roof of the hospital from one of Illyana’s stepping discs. Markus had his eyes closed and his ears covered, and Illyana elbowed him to signal the fact that they had arrived at their destination. Markus had two automatic guns at the ready, and Illyana looked around, trying to sense what she was looking for. Completely on edge and tensing every muscle he had, Markus felt ready for anything.

“There!!! There it is” Illyana cried, pointing at Scalphunter who had just emerged from the bushes.

“All right, then! Let’s get it” Markus said

“I can’t let you that.” A voice came from behind them. They turned around to see who had spoken. It was Vanguard.

**********

Bullseye threw his hat like a discus, yelling “Goldfinger was always my favorite!” Dani and Skids both ducked out of the way regardless of Skids’ force field, but the hat soared right over them, and hit both of the policemen. One was hit in the jugular before the hat ended up in the chest of the second policeman. Both dropped dead, as a massive panic broke out.

“Sally, get the people out of the way! Use your force field for them!” Dani yelled, and Skids complied right away, sliding out of the path of the incoming Bullseye. Dani knew she wasn’t fast enough to avoid Bullseye’s kick, and rolled with the impact, barely escaping being hit by the assassin’s sai. She drew her large hunting knife, and both combatants got up, facing each other. Skids yelled to the staff and visitors to hurry down the corridor, away from the lobby, while blocking the corridor with an expanded force field. As she watched the panicked crowd get away, five commandos’s busted into the lobby, and started firing at Skids. She was effectively pinned down as long as there were people running down the corridor. Bullseye meanwhile made a feint with his sai, which Dani fell for. He stamped on a coffee table, shattering the wooden top and catching a piece of wood he threw at Dani. It hit her in the shoulder, causing her to drop the knife. “God, he’s fast!” Dani thought, as she scrambled to get away from a sai-thrust that was intended to hit. Bullseye picked up the knife, saying “Look who’s got all the toys now!” Dani was in serious trouble, and the bullets flying around as they bounced of Skids’ force field didn’t make it any better.

Three floors above them, Markus and Illyana were facing Vanguard. As the fight looked about to start, Illyana ran of. “Sorry Markus, he’s yours!” Illyana said, as she jumped of the roof of the hospital. The move momentarily caught both Markus and Vanguard of guard, but Markus recovered first. He fired his guns at Vanguard, who deflected all of the bullets. “Awe, no!” Markus thought, and flung himself at his opponent. Vanguard stood his ground, and crossed his hammer & sickle in front of him, causing Markus to be violently thrown back. Getting up, Markus attempted a tackle, but couldn’t take the huge Russian down. Instead, he got elbowed in the head. Vanguard laughed as Markus got back. The Russian stuck to his gamelan, and remained standing motionless. Markus tried a new approach, making a grab for Vanguard’s weapons, but only got hold of the Sickle. This opened him up to a huge blow with the hammer, and Vanguard took the shot, repelling Markus at the same time. Markus was thrown back so hard, it send him flying over the edge of the roof. He fell three stories and landed in the parking lot. Vanguard walked over to the edge of the roof to check on his handiwork. To his utter amazement, Markus was getting up!

“I’m alive!” Markus thought as he got up. Then he noticed he was actually feeling a lot stronger. Was that a sign that his powers were back? Was the impact of the fall enough to finally trigger the return of his ability to absorb kinetic force? Just as Dani had felt a few hours earlier, Markus was overjoyed to feel the rush of power coursing through his body. Looking up at Vanguard still standing on the roof, he yelled: “Hey, you soviet f$%#&!!! Come get me, m&!$%&#$#&!!!!” Vanguard repelled himself from the roof, floating down to Markus. “Oh yeah!” Markus thought, “I’m going to take out months of frustration on your sorry a%#$!”

A few yards away, Traumfanger had found that bullets were useless against the three men that came at them. Omega Red jumped up with a loud roar, and wrapped his coils around the lead attacker. “Don’t drain him!!!” Traumfanger yelled, and Omega Red hesitated for a moment. The first attacker took advantage of it to bust loose from Omega Red’s coils, and a second one ran in to grab one of the coils and yank Omega Red out of the car. He smashed into the ground, and the two men immediately started to pound on him with huge blows. Traumfanger had to deal with the third one, who came at him like a maniac. The old man was pulled from the car, and could barely avoid a punch that would have decapitated him otherwise. It was then that Traumfanger realized that these men were not fighting smart, and after avoiding another blow, he took hold of his attackers head. “Quiet now” the old man whispered, and closed his eyes. The attacker ‘s body went limp, and Traumfanger continued to hold his head, pressing the palm of his hand to the attackers forehead. Omega Red was trying to get up, without success as his opponents stayed on him and kept beating him down.

At the lot entrance too the ER, Scalphunter had only time to utter “Aww, f%$&” before getting kicked in the head by Nightcrawler. The German mutant then spun around, and managed to duck out of the way of a powered spear thrown by Harpoon. He teleported to appear behind the Inuit marauder, and grabbed him for a series of six teleports across the parking lot. It ended with Harpoon dropping unconscious from his grasp, and with Kurt exhausted. “I should have learned not to try that trick when I’m injured by now” Nightcrawler mumbled. He noticed he had ended up near the damaged flying car where Omega Red was receiving the beating of his live, and Traumfanger was still clutching the head of the third assailant. Nightcrawler didn’t know what to make of it for a moment, but Traumfanger shouted at him: “Kurt Wagner! You have to help Omega Red! This is all about him! Trust me!” Only hesitating for a second, Nightcrawler jumped in on the fight between Omega Red and his two maniacal opponents, thinking he must certainly have gone crazy, but trusting his instincts.

Scalphunter recovered, and headed into the ER. He got ready to fire at everything that moved when Magik rammed him in the back. It sent him sprawling over the floor, and when he looked up, he saw Illyana holding her Soulsword. “Damn, girl! Don’t you X-f%$#’s ever stay dead?!” he said, and opened fire on the mutant sorceress. All around them there was screaming, from nurses, doctors and orderlies desperately trying to safe themselves and their patients. Illyana was in full demon-form once again, and conjured a small teleportation disc in front of her to allow all the bullets to pass away harmlessly. Scalphunter saw the situation was not favoring him, and ran of through the ER, shooting at Illyana as he ran. When the bullets ceased, Illyana went after Scalphunter, who had just taken the exit into the lobby.

Vanguard stood in front of the hospital entrance, staring at his opponent, the suddenly repowered Markus. “Come on, you motherless f%$#!! Try to take me down!!!” Markus tried to goad his opponent. Vanguard snarled, and threw his hammer at Markus. Now it was Markus’ turn to just stand and absorb the attack. He caught the hammer, and absorbed the impact, feeling a rush of strength go through his body. Vanguard was stunned by the maneuver, and reacted to slowly as Markus ran at him, swinging the hammer. The soviet tried to repel the incoming blow but failed spectacularly as he was smashed into a lamppost, causing it to tumble. Markus smiled and walked over to the shaken Vanguard.

“Who the hell are you?” Vanguard asked getting up.

“Well, Captain Soviet, you may know me as Hauptmann Deutschland, but tonight, I prefer Maverick!” Markus answered as he hit him with the hammer again, knocking him a few yards away. Markus had not felt this good about himself ever before.

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

“First Boy! First Boy! Goddammit, Rick, come in!” Vazhin shouted into his communicator as he watched the huge fight taking place at Kreuzberg Hospital. He was not at all pleased with the large number of mutants that had shown up at the hospital, where he had intended to crush a few opponents and grab Omega Red.

“I’m here! What’s wrong?” a voice sounded.

“I’m sure your monitoring your drug-boys out here, but we’re encountering major opposition here. Too many bloody mutants!” Vazhin yelled.

“Easy, man! Is it still salvageable?”

“Easy man? You really have spent too much time in the Netherlands! But yes, it could still work, but I just got Intel that Stark himself is heading for Berlin, wearing his party costume!”

“Damn! I did not want to encounter him ever, let alone now! Okay, I’ll intercept! Do you have a trajectory?”

“We’re tracking him. I’m sending you his trajectory now” Vazhin said, punching a number of keys on his computer.

“I’ll hold him of. You get Red!” the voice sounded, followed by a click.

Vazhin turned back to his monitor, watching the live-feed from the hospital. He was not at all pleased with tonight’s proceedings.

**********

In the lobby of the hospital, Skids had made sure the last of the staff and patients had fled down the corridor. The commando’s were still shooting at her, but now she was ready to fight back. Thinking quickly, she decided that helping Dani was her first priority. She contracted her force field, and glided at the commando’s, barreling through their closed ranks, and slamming into Bullseye. Then she turned to face the commando’s again. This was going to take some ingenuity because her force field was getting weaker, and Skids herself was feeling the strain of stopping numerous rounds of ammo. She got down on the floor, extending her force field as a thin sheet over the floor, causing two of the commando’s to trip over on the frictionless surface. Hurriedly getting up, she managed to grab a weapon and kick one of the fallen soldiers square in the jaw. Dani took advantage of Skids interruption to focus all her mental strength into the creation of another psychic arrow. It flew forth from her hand, and hit Bullseye in the chest. The insane murderer looked stunned for a moment, and then smiled horribly at Dani: “Trying to overdose me on emotions? Trust me, I already AM when I get to play God!” Bullseye shouted, and threw a knife that hit Dani in the shoulder, giggling as he saw her wince in pain.

In the parking lot, Nightcrawlers intervention had turned the tide. He had pulled one of the assailants of Omega Red, and was now keeping him occupied, basically by jumping, ducking and running rings around him. The fighter was incredibly strong, but fought stupidly, and Kurt’s tactics were based on tiring him out. Omega Red had finally gotten hold of the other one with his coils. The attacker was fighting him with all his strength, but Omega Red managed to head butt him in the face, and then tore of his head with his coils. Kurt noticed that his own opponent was slowing down, and took advantage by delivering a major kick to his head, putting him down. Omega Red had walked over to Traumfanger, and grabbed the head of the third attacker, snapping his neck. Traumfanger looked exhausted, holding onto the car for support. As Nightcrawler looked on, he saw Omega Red holding the old man by his shoulders, and he was completely stunned. Taking in a few deep breaths, Traumfanger straightened himself. “Go to the lobby, that’s where the big fight is!” he shouted at Omega Red and Nightcrawler. The two mutants looked at each other, and the Omega Red headed for the entrance. “We are talking major weird” Kurt thought to himself, and headed out after the Russian monster. As he watched them run of, he quietly walked over to the last surviving attacker, the one Kurt had taken out. He turned him over with his foot. And looked at the face of the young man, whose face and body were completely twisted. Then Traumfanger took out his gun, and pressed it to the man’s head, shooting him right between the eyes. As he listened the breathing of the man stopped, but he hurt another noise a few yards away. Harpoon was getting up, still groggy from Nightcrawlers multiple teleports. Traumfanger walked over, and once again pressed his gun to the man’s head.

“No-no” Traumfanger said.

“What?” Harpoon said looking up with the gun in his face.

“Don’t worry son, I’ll let you go. But first, we should talk…” Traumfanger said with a thin smile

Over at the lobby, the chaos was almost complete. When Scalphunter, coming from the ER, burst into the firefight going on in the lobby, his first instinct was one of survival. He started shooting at the other gunman, dropping two before he realized the score. Taking a second to think, he was to late in noticing Illyana standing behind him. She cut a flaming pentagram around him with her Soulsword, and heard her say: “Now bleed, murderer!” All over his body, wounds opened up and blood gushed from them. He dropped his weapon in shock, and howled in pain. Soon he was lying in a huge pool of blood. Scalphunter was dead, again. Skids had shot another of the commando’s with her stolen weapon, and then felt her force field collapse. Freezing for a second, one of the commando’s jumped her and took her down. Dani was in real trouble as well. The knife in her shoulder had left her arm numb, and she couldn’t get up before Bullseye stood over her with the axe. “A beheading, then,” Bullseye said gleefully, “You can never go wrong with the classics!” At that precise moment he saw Illyana coming at him with her Soulsword, and redirected his Axe in mid-swing, hitting the mutant-sorceress square in the stomach.

Near the hospital entrance, Markus & Vanguard were still going at it. Still holding Vanguards hammer, the smashed into each other, both being repelled by the others blow. Markus got up, and felt something wet and hot on his stomach. He looked and saw that Vanguard had opened him up with his sickle during their latest clash. Vanguard smiled and shouted: “No matter what you call yourself, you’re still inferior!” In tremendous pain, the insult gave Markus an additional adrenalin-boost, and he ran screaming at Vanguard. The big Russian was ready to cut him again, but Markus slammed the hammer into the sickle and delivered an almost decapitating blow to Vanguards jaw. Holding his guts, Markus looked around. Vanguard lay unconscious, his sickle had been shattered and hammer was pulverized. Nightcrawler and Omega Red ran by on their way to the lobby, and he waved at them, not even realizing that it had really been Omega Red. He chuckled, and then collapsed.

“You crazy bastard!!!!” Dani yelled at Bullseye as she saw Illyana drop next to her, almost cut in half. Bullseye only giggled, saying: “Don’t be afraid, I’ll do it quickly!” Dani looked at him, and she tried something she hadn’t done in months. Bullseye stopped giggling for a moment, and then screamed. Within seconds, he dropped to the floor, as if suddenly every muscle in his body had failed. His eyes were wide open and his breath was shallow. Dani had shown him his worst fear, and he had made it come true himself: he was paralyzed once more. Right then, Nightcrawler and Omega Red rushed in. Omega Red immediately went for the last commando who was pummeling Skids. He yanked the soldier of her with his coils, and threw him across the lobby into a wall, where he slumped to the floor, having broken almost every bone in his body. Nightcrawler was horrified at the scene of Dani holding the mortally wounded body of Illyana. As Skids and Omega Red gathered around Dani, he found himself trying to concentrate. It was easier now that he didn’t carry the Soulsword around in him anymore, but the rush of adrenaline still made it difficult to think. Then he knew what to do. He picked up Illyana’s Soulsword.

“Dani, step away please” Kurt said softly.

Dani looked at Kurt, and understood him. She got up and stepped away, and Kurt held the blade over Illyana.

“What are you doing? Are you nuts?!” Sally shouted, but Dani held her back.

“It’s okay, Sally. He’s saving her.” Dani whispered.

“In more ways than one, I hope” Kurt spoke softly, and plunged the tip of the Soulsword into Illyana’s heart.

There was a blinding burst of bright light, and everybody was knocked back. The lobby seemed to be filled with light, and it reflected of every surface. When it finally dimmed, Dani, Nightcrawler and the others saw Illyana stand in the middle of the lobby holding her Soulsword. Her body was surrounded by blue flame, with some dark red edges. She still had her horns, but she looked absolutely radiant and was fully healed. The flames slowly disappeared, and Illyana looked like she would collapse. Kurt caught her, and held her.

“You saved me…” Illyana whispered almost inaudibly to Kurt.

“It’s what I do” Kurt smiled back at her.

At that moment, Traumfanger came in, hoisting the wounded Markus along, saying: “Could we possibly get some medical attention here at this hospital?”

His words had probably carried all the way to the ER, as two nurses and a doctor came in. “We have wounded people here! Get them to ER!” the doctor shouted, and soon the lobby was filled up with medical personnel, getting wounded people away and carrying of corpses. The police soon arrived as well, and Dani walked out of the lobby unnoticed. Sitting on a bench in the parking lot as the sun was rising, she thought about today, the fight, and the general craziness that had surrounded everything. She still wasn’t sure about what had exactly happened, but she was sure Omega Red was at the heart of it. No matter, she would delve into that mystery a little deeper at some other time. For now she was considering something else: Starks offer.

“You really should have that looked at, Miss Moonstar” a voice spoke to her left. It was Tony Stark dressed in an impeccable black suit.

“Nah, there’s others who need help first” Dani replied.

“I’m sure there are. There hasn’t been this much shooting in Berlin since the end of WWII” Tony said.

“What are you doing here anyway?” Dani asked bluntly.

“Coming after Omega Red. I would have gotten here earlier, but that’s a long story. So what happened to Omega Red, anyway?” Tony asked back.

“Long story. He’s like a little puppy, now. It seemed that a man we met has managed to reach his softer side” Dani parried.

“Hmm. You know, Miss Moonstar, if we are going to be working together, we are going to have to trust each other,” Tony said.

“Ha! Why is it always that those who are best at keeping secrets are the first to speak of trust? And who said I would work with you anyway? I still haven’t decided!” Dani answered.

“It’s destiny…” Tony said softly

“What do you mean, destiny?” Dani answered

“Allow me to explain. The last time me and Captain America brought a team of Avengers together, Ca spoke of destiny. We had all come together randomly to fight a threat, and Cap proposed keeping that team together to form a new Avengers team. Now, as a man of science, I told him he was nuts, but I can’t deny the fact that for a time we were a great team. Tonight, a group of people has come together, here, in Berlin, to combat a threat. Who is to say that isn’t also destiny making sure everybody ends up were they’re supposed to?”

“You’re full of it, Stark. You don’t believe it yourself, but you want me to believe in this destiny!” Dani answered.

“It’s not about what I believe. It’s about what you believe.”

“You actually want me to form a Europe-based mutant team out of Nightcrawler, Illyana, that German guy Markus, Sally, Traumfanger and Omega Red?? I don’t even know them all that well. I don’t even know if it’s possible!” Dani exclaimed.

“We’ll work something out. So what do you say, are you ready to start your European mutant-agency?”

“Agency? Well, with Sally, Traumfanger and from what I hear of that Markus guy, we’re already in the cloak and dagger-stuff.”

“So, is that a yes?” Tony asked

“What the hell… All right the, Agency X it is” Dani said smiling. She tried extending a hand towards Stark, but winced in pain from the stab wound Bullseye had given her. Getting up from the bench, Stark supported her as they walked back to the hospital.

“As I already said, you really should have that looked at” Tony said as they were hobbling along.

“Mwah, who asked you?”

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

Vazhin slumped back in his chair, and switched of the feed from the hospital. He was extremely disappointed, but his face betrayed no emotion. How had they failed so miserably today? Was it just a matter of too many mutants crawling out of the woodwork? No, that was only part of it. His thoughts immediately concentrated on Traumfanger. Had the old fop thrown in a wrench in to tonight’s proceedings? Incredible, that old fossil was still very dangerous! And he had done something to Omega Red. Could it be that he had reversed everything that they had done to Arkady Rossovich so long ago, in the name of The Balance. If that were true, the old bastard was even more dangerous than Vazhin had ever considered. Why had they never gone after him, to bury him with his secrets?

Vazhin’s aide came in, drawing his attention: Sir, one of our operatives just came in. A survivor from the hospital, Sir.”

“Debrief him and then shoot him!” Vazhin ordered without looking up.

“Sir, he has brought something that you should see!” his aide persisted.

Vazhin looked up, and motioned for his aide to bring the man in. Before him stood one of the commando’s. His face was swollen, and from his wounds Vazhin could see his jaw had been broken in two places. Than Vazhin’s eyes went wide, as the wounded soldier put an object on the table before him. It was Illyana’s axe.

“Get this man some medical attention!” Vazhin ordered, his eyes wide with glee, “Tonight may not be a total loss after all!”