The team sat in the Quinjet as Natasha took the controls. Fury had an unmarked jet next to his fancy kitted-out one. It had been a chore, and they had argued, but in the end, he had won. A very visibly marked Directors Quinjet was a liability when they needed to be as discrete. Sneaking into a foreign country, destroying several facilities, and then escaping needed discretion.
Peter had destroyed Shaw's base, but like most systems, his servers were off-site. With Octave and Peter, it hadn't taken long to find, plunder, and then destroy them.
If the information was right, then Shaw had his fingers in a lot more pies than anyone realised. Hydra was just the start, but it also led them to the Red Room. They were supplying MGH, so they needed to be destroyed as well.
She quietly clenched her jaw at the upcoming fight. What was worse, her contact in Russia was her adopted sister. Then they would need to find and probably rescue the bastard they called a father as well.
Fury sat quietly next to her, busy making plans. Steve, Maria, Scott, and Flash all sat in the back compartment, sharing an awkward silence. Flash’s eyes had almost popped out of his head as he saw Scott board the Quinjet. A look from Steve and another from Maria made him stay silent. It was obvious to everyone there was some tension between the pair.
“So, uh, Parker yeah?” Flash asked Maria. Since Webb had been healed, Natasha had been giving him lessons on how to control his Symbiote better.
Peter hadn’t objected. He was aware that even as their progenitor, he needed to make sure they weren’t wild and untamed. Peter just couldn't stand to be near him for long. Not yet. It was slow but they were working on it.
One of the things he had been taught was to recognise when another Symbiote was nearby. He could tell both Natasha and Maria were hosts.
Maria raised an eyebrow and glared at him. She was not a sociable person and she really didn’t want to talk about how or why she had a Symbiote. Even if Romanov teased her mercilessly about it. “Yeah, Parker. So what?”
Flash could feel the hostility coming from her. That confused him. He knew Parker only shared Symbiotes with his women, so wasn't she?
“It’s good, it’s good. Uh, Webb, as in you know, Agent Webb.”
She scowled and shook her head, "We aren't friends, and I'm not talking about it."
Steve raised an eyebrow and looked at her expectantly.
“Fine, fine,” she said. “Widow." Natasha hid a small smirk. "Now Vengeance. After.” She shook her head, “we need every tool available to fight Hydra. So yes, I did, and it was fine, but it was then and this is now.”
Scott tilted his head, “You and Parker?” She glared at him, “damn.”
“Problem?” Maria turned to face him.
“No, not you, him. “And he shook his head and leaned forward, “he, he just ruins everything. I mean, Jean was happy, and it was great, and then he turns up and she goes off the rails.”
Flash nodded, “Oh yeah, I know,“ but Maria glared at him too, “Yeah, he’s an ass.” and he stared at his feet.
Scott leaned back and took a deep breath, “Hey, anyone else smell that?” but both Flash and Steve shook their heads.
Maria raised an eyebrow and sniffed but shrugged. She showered. Vengeance liked to be under the warm water and would wrap herself around Maria as she washed. Even with her new senses, nobody was getting overly ripe. Spending hours in an enclosed space wasn't great, but it would be after the mission that it would be bad. The jet had a shower, but not a lot of water. It would be aircon on max and a quick wipe to make things tolerable.
“The air con might be busted. Uh, let me check.” He moved to the cockpit, glad to be away from the trio of Agents. When he had come on this mission he didn’t expect them to be so serious. The X-Men might have been young, but there was communication and team building. They were all like coiled springs, waiting under tension and it was getting on his nerves.
As he knocked then entered. “Uh, air-cons busted. Back compartment smells like, I dunno, flowers”
Natasha snorted and looked at him. “Just you?” He nodded in confusion. “Give me a moment.” She pushed a few buttons on the control panel and nudged Fury, who rubbed a hand over his face. “Take the controls for a moment, got an issue”
He grunted a response and swivelled the panel over to his side. “Dammit,” he swore as they weren’t even halfway there.
Natasha and Scott came back to the compartment and Natasha lay a hand on Maria’s shoulder. She looked up in shock, glared at Natasha and then over at Scott. “Your call, but you know how to deal with it.” Maria scowled and waved a hand at her, “And you look like you need it.”
“Fine, fine.” She stood and motioned to Scott. “You, we need to talk.” As Natasha grinned at him and patted him on the shoulder he swore he heard her whisper, good luck. But as her mouth never moved, he must have imagined it.
As they made their way into the cramped cargo area, Maria locked the door. She paused and swung open the door to the toilet, barring anyone from entering or leaving. A lock would not stop anyone with super strength.
As she turned to look at Scott, she got a good look at him for the first time. She knew the Symbiotes would ramp up her sex drive but this was wow. His square jaw, scruffy but not too long hair, and the way he smelt hit every button on the way down. The adorably naïve but beautiful man in front of her had to be hers. She just hoped he was muscular like Parker. He might have been an asshole, but damn was that boy built.
“Right, the smell is me.” She admitted, but the stupid look he gave her wasn't helping.
Scott looked at her and shrugged. “So, uh, your deodorant is nice.”
She rolled her eyes. “It’s not a deodorant, it’s a pheromone. Designed to attract a mate. As Cap and Webb can't smell it, and you can.”
It finally clicked. “Oh, oh I shit, I’m sorry, no I didn’t,” Scott stammered, “I uh, yeah, I’m sorry.”
“What the hell are you apologising for?” She said sternly, “Why would you apologise when I want to have sex with you?”
As he went red, his mouth opened and closed a few times.
“Yeah. See, the Symbiotes jack up your appetites, and they love it. So, want to? You're handsome enough, maybe a bit young but.”
“What, no, no. I uh, I can't,” Scott moved back a step. “We can’t, not on a mission. Isn’t that a rule?”
Maria let Vengeance slip back and stood before him with the barest of coverings. As Scott gulped and stared, he was stupefied.
“First off, we can. The Quinjet is soundproof with all the armour, second, we’re not on mission yet, third, really? Five seconds, bend me over that ammo crate, choose now or I leave. Five, Four.” Maria never made it to three before Scott unzipped his combat suit, giving Maria a full view of his chest,
Screw it, he thought, Jean never let me do anything.
After the failed mission Scott knew. Missions were dangerous. Life as an Augmented was dangerous. It could end at any time, Gambit proved that, and he no longer cared.
“Mamma like.” As Vengeance slipped away, Scott shimmied the rest of the way out of his uniform. She cast her gaze down his muscular chest to his prominent erection. “Oh, mamma definitely like.”
In the front of the Quinjet, Steve and Flash both stared at each other. As the rhythmic banging started Steve sighed. “You think they forgot we’ve got powers and can hear them.” but Flash was too busy inspecting the ceiling to answer. He was unwilling to engage his mentor in that discussion, ever.
Natasha just smirked as Maria and Scott came from the back, “Now that playtime’s over, we have work to do.” As she hit the display a fat bearded Russian man appeared on the screen.
“My adopted father. Alexei Shostakov. Currently in prison for, well being a fat useless asshole but he had eyes on Hydra and the Red Room last time we spoke. He’s our contact.” Natasha had tried every contact she had, but Yelena was simply gone. She had no idea if she was in hiding or if something had happened to her.
Maria looked at the screen, “Him? He looks like he can barely remember his own name, let alone where a Hydra base is.”
Natasha shook her head. “During the Cold War, The Red Room trained and deposited sleeper agents in America, he was one of the best. Dosed with high levels of Red Room formula we suspected his drinking was to stave off the side effects.”
“We?” Fury asked. Intel on the Red Rom was thin, even Shield was more public.
Natasha nodded. “I gave blood to Gwen before they cleaned me and she analysed the Red Room serum. Not as toxic as the Oscorp serum but he would probably have developed shakes and other minor tremors. The alcohol would have relaxed his nervous system enough for him to function.”
Maria looked over at Nick, “Since when did she get the smarts?”
“I had them pumped into me by Peter,” she retorted.
While Maria laughed, the rest of the group looked and shook their heads.
“Can we please be adults? Him aside, do we have any other leads.”
Natasha clicked her pen, tied to the display. It shifted to satellite photos of an abandoned base.
“A missile silo. Stark tracked Ultron there, and we already had it marked as a possible Russian base. What Stark didn’t realise was that it was Hydra and thanks to Olivia, we got the data he collected.”
Clicking and moving her pen, Natasha dragged a series of pictures onto the screen.
“A Hydra testing facility. We suspect the Winter Soldier was created here, as were seven others. They, thanks to Ultron, are all dead but no targets matching his description were found. Four men and three women.” As Natasha scrolled through the pictures the extent of Ultron's vivisection was apparent.
“All Super Soldiers, all dead. Tony concluded that the Formula used was taken during a robbery, his father’s death. While Tony is tracking possible locations of the Winter Soldier, he didn’t find him. But we did.”
Scott raised a hand, and Natasha laughed. “Just ask Scott, this isn’t high school.”
As he put his hand down awkwardly. “Uh yeah. Why are we tracking the Winter Soldier? If he’s an enemy agent then shouldn't we be trying to I dunno, arrest him?”
Natasha nodded. “Normally, yes, but Steve?”
Steve stood and took her place.
“Bucky Barnes.” As he looked at the clicker Natasha had given him she held up a hand and mimed pressing the top. He clicked it, and the picture changed. ”Former Howling commando and US marine. Suspected of being enhanced by Hydra and given this.” As Steve pressed the pen it changed to a picture of Bucky, complete with silver arm. “Cybernetically enhanced.” As the picture zoomed in, around his neck was a Hydra control collar. ”and mind-controlled.”
“Like Shaw used?” Scott asked. Charles had a sample of the bracer design which Hank carefully disassembled. Every member of the X-Men had been briefed. Nobody wanted to be caught unawares and suddenly find themselves attacking their friends.
Steve nodded. “And like we already knew, once free he returned to normal. Slightly disorientated, confused but non-hostile.”
“So, we found him, got better intel and now we're off to Russia to act on that and find the Red Room?” Scott asked again.
Steve nodded. “We never leave a man behind, and he gladly helped us find those bastards,”
“Language,” Scott said, but as the group turned to him and stared, he blushed and looked down at the floor. “Sorry, uh the professor, he tells us off for swearing.”
Steve laughed. “Son, a soldier hears a lot worse in the field, a little swearing is probably the least of your issues.” Clicking the pen once more. “Bucky was traced to a small apartment in Moscow but then moved to Berlin. Then to a cabin in Switzerland and finally to Sokovia where we found him.”
Scott stared at the map. “It seems random. Any idea why he was moving around so much?”
It was Flash who nodded. “Uh yeah, it was only for a few moments, but the Symbiotes gain some memories and skills from anyone they bond with. He’s visiting Hydra safe houses.”
“Hill?” Steve asked, but she shook her head.
“Widow killed Sitwell, she didn't attempt to bond with him.”
Steve nodded. It had been a bad day all-round and he knew she had been one of the lucky ones. He continued. “We found a lot of dead bodies at each location." Steve clicked again and the safe houses were filled with bodies. Bucky had gone room to room and executed anyone he found. "Best we can figure is that being bonded, even for a few minutes, was enough to interfere with the control collar.”
Maria stared at Flash for a moment. ”Off-topic, but you're a host, why don't you, get the, uh, you know?”
As Flash shook his head he undid one of the pockets on his armoured vest and slid out a chocolate bar.
“Oh, those rotten bastards.” Natasha laughed, but Maria shook her head. “Nah, I think I prefer my way.”
As Scott went bright red, Flash shook his head and slid the bar back into its home.
“If you are quite finished,“ Fury interrupted. “We have a list, courtesy of Barnes, and while we need Alexei to get into Russia, we know where he is.” Fury nodded his head and Steve hit the pen once more.
“The prison is easy enough, and we have intel about the collars. There is a farm, and we think that the control collars are being manufactured there. We get in, get there, take it out, rescue whoever they are holding, and get out. While this isn’t an official Shield mission, Flash and I are still on the Avengers, and as such are recognisable. We need to keep a low profile, and we need to be discreet.”
“It's fine Cap, we have some new body armour for you, and Parker donated a new shield, it's not as fancy, but it’ll get the job done. So, you need a new code name, and no I got enough crap from Parker about it, just pick a new name so we can get on with this.”
“Nomad, because of you know. Not representing the United States and travelling over the world.”
Fury stared at him, “Yes Cap, we understood that reference.”