Arc Ten. Chapter Two Hundred Ninety-Six. Red Alert
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Standing, she motioned to Alexei to remain where he was and raising both her arms, walked round the corner.

“Hey big guy, not here for you. Just freeing some of your friends.”

“Russian?” he asked in a thick accent and she shook her head,

“Escaped Red Room survivor. Widow Program.”

He frowned and nodded, “Who you after?”

Lowering her arms Widow walked towards him. “My partner spotted some kids in the detainment centre, them.”

The man tapped his deactivated collar. “This you?” She nodded, “Follow, you have escape route?”

“After we get the kids, sorry big guy but I know who you are.”

He shrugged. “Not interested in kids or women. Only revenge.”

Nat, what are you doing? Vengeance asked her. She could see the riot on the security cameras and was busy keeping it contained as best she could. Most of the prison relied on low-security key locks. Only the high-security section they were in and the armoury used electronic locks. While it meant she couldn't keep the rioters in, she could at least keep them out, but not for long. Once they had proper weapons, the doors would fall.

Getting the kids, but be ready. Once he knows we have a jet he might not take no for an answer. Get Fury ready, this might be a grab and dash and I don’t want to stand waiting while he gets the Quinjet prepped.

Understood. Most of the fighting is on the other side of the compound right now. Your new friend already killed the guards at this entrance.

Widow could feel the hostility rolling from him in waves, but it wasn’t aimed at her. Alexei had been right and he was angry. She knew from experience it wouldn't take much for that anger to be directed at her and the rest. He would turn on them as soon as he got what he wanted.

“Kids are in there, hiding,” Omega said, waving a hand at the compound's kitchen. “Now, you owe me. You have escape route, transport. I want to come with you.”

Widow shook her head. “I need a guarantee you won't hurt me, them or anyone else on my team. Can you do that?”

Omega shrugged. “You are not Red Room, I do not care. You have my word.”

Widow shook her head. “That doesn’t mean a lot. Once we get going You’ll let me switch that collar back on, and you trust me to switch it off once we’re gone.”

Omega snorted. “Red Room paranoia, always the same. Omega does go back on his word. I agree, but remember I am trained, just like you, and I do not need my power to hurt you if you betray me.” He motioned to the barricaded door. “You might not like us, but we look after our own, especially from secret service.”

Widow moved forward and tapped on the door. "Hello, we’ve come to rescue you, can I come in?” and she could hear muffled talk.

“Who are you?” she heard from behind the door. It sounded like a young boy.

“Shield,” she lied. Her termination notice had come in not long after she tendered her resignation.

Omega tutted but stood with his arms crossed, and she just rolled her eyes at him.

“We can take you home, but I need to dismantle the barricade, please don't attack me.”

There was a long pause, and Widow could hear the whispers.

“Okay.” Two skinny children suddenly appeared next to her.

One was a small girl, almost the same height as Laura, with long brown hair and a cute freckled face. Natasha put her age at maybe eleven if she was looked after, but it was the other that made her step back and draw her gun,

“Nightcrawler.” He froze, “Move away from the girl.”

But the little girl grabbed on tightly to him. “NO!” She yelled and a shimmering form appeared on her shoulder. Even Widow took a step back as a tiny purple dragon appeared and roared at her.

“Nightcrawler, let the girl go.” Widow warned as she kept her gun trained on the young boy.

As the dragon reared and spread its wings it leapt and dived into the sky before heading towards Widow.

“No vait, I am not him,” but it was too late. The dragon spewed blue fire at Widow who had flipped backwards and was raising her pistol.

“Please do not hurt her,” Nightcrawler said as he stepped in front of the little girl. “I am not who you think I am.” He held up both his hands, "My name is Kurt. Kurt Wagner."

As Widow rolled back and raised the gun at the dragon she lifted it and nodded. “Okay, sorry. He attacked a friend of mine, same blue skin, same power as well.”

“I know. He is my father. He came with another man and they told him, ‘behave or we kill him.” Kurt’s eyes watered, “they held a gun to my head.”

Why would I send you to rescue two kids if they attacked Parker? Get a grip, Nat. They’re like ten, Vengeance chastised her.

Yeah yeah, but you don’t think it's a coincidence?

Yes, I do, but look at him. I'm amazed he didn't piss his pants when you pulled your gun on him. Nat. He's a kid. We can worry about that later, right now. Fury knows to expect two kids plus the big guy. Get back to the jet, I’ll finish up here.

“That all the children?” Widow asked and the pair nodded, “Good, then we’re leaving. Alexei, stop hiding and get your ass over here.”

Alexei stuck his head around the corner “They won’t attack me right?” and Widow rolled her eyes, “Of course, of course. Alexei, I uh, am Red Guardian, and I know you. Omega, but.”

Widow interrupted him, “Introductions later. Escape now. Omega, we can take you but only if you behave. Or you can stay here if you want.”

“You are attacking Red Room?” She nodded, “Then I come with you. I know their facilities and the location of their main headquarters. But they have many collared Mutants, and many of your super soldiers, and not the fat kind.”

As Widow and her now small band of rescues made their way back to the Quinjet, Scott was having an issue.

“Is it always like this?” He asked as Steve and Flash played cards and Fury sat in the control chair with a cloth over his face.

Sighing as he leant forwards “No, it's never like this. Normally you have one agent, Command and Control. They monitor communications and coordinate the team. Normally that would be Maria, and the rest of us would be out at the prison.”

Scott frowned, “so what gives?” The X-Men had Professor X and Scott guessed he filled that role. Normally it would be his job to give orders in the field, as well as fighting. This was different to how Logan had trained them.

Fury raised an eyebrow. “She didn't say?” As Scott shook his head Fury sighed, “shit. Maria has issues, and more than just what you did in the back of the jet.” Scott opened his mouth to defend himself Fury raised a hand. “I don't care, I really don't. I get enough of that crap from Parker, and if Hill goes the same route, I really really don't care.”

“It's not like that.” Scott huffed.

Fury laughed. “Yeah, we’re all Enhanced here, son. We could feel the vibrations through the deck plating.“

Scot went bright red, "Uh I. we."

"Do. Not. Care." Fury said, glaring at the young man. He rubbed a hand over his face and stared at the cockpits roof. “She’ll tell you eventually, but Maria lost her best friend, hell her only friend, and she took it hard. Lesson one. This life changes you, death and sacrifice are part of what we do, either theirs or sometimes yours. And she took Sharon's death really hard. That was her deal with Parker, she got what she wanted and I guess so did he. But, now that's your job. Maria doesn't date, she doesn't socialise, she doesn't have friends or lovers. She had Sharon, and now she has you.” As Fury spotted the group approaching on the back bay doors. “She also has a lot of pent-up aggression aimed at a particular group. But don't talk to me about it, talk to her.”

Fury leant forward and flicked the bay door control switch. As he watched them he spotted there were two kids and another Augmented with them and sighing he stood. “This life isn't easy, and you will lose friends, people you care about.” As he scowled, he tapped his patch, “an eye, but we make the world a better place, and while your professor won't say this.” and he leaned forward, “sometimes that means ripping out a problem at the roots.''

Steve stood and nodded at Fury. It was the same message he had been drilling into Flash. One he sometimes forgot himself. Being a hero was hard. You lost friends, family and lovers. It meant making tough choices, and grabbing whatever joy you could.

As the five entered the back of the Quinjet, Fury stood with his arms crossed, “the kids I get, but him?”

Omega nodded. “Fury, it has been a while, I see you still only have the one eye.”

Fury ignored him and turned to Maria.

“Allowing a hostile Russian agent on the team is crossing the line, Maria, what were you thinking?”

She shrugged, her armour rippled and she was back in the standard Shield grey and black jumpsuit. “That a secret base filled with enemy combatants needs as many people as possible to take it down. Right now we need someone with knowledge of the bases layout and what kind of resistance we can expect." She looked over at Alexei who was moving things so he could sit down. "and judging by Alexei, someone who can actually fight.”

“Hey, I am in great shape.” As Alexei saw Steve, he patted his stomach, “For a man my age. Hello, I am Natasha's father, are you the American she is dating?”

As Steve looked over confused at Natasha she rubbed a hand over her eyes,

“No Dad, that's Steve. Steve Rogers. The one you keep telling people you beat.”

Alexei looked confused for a moment and then burst out laughing. “Him? No, he is not Captain America, he is too short.”

Steve now looked confused, “Want to explain?” he asked Natasha who sighed.

“Dad. It was faked. You didn't fight Captain America, he was frozen in Antarctica. They used you for propaganda.”

Alexei laughed and shook his head. “No No little Talia, I know Captain America when I see him. Where is his shield, and his uh,” and he motioned to his chest, “his costume. I know you like tricks, Captain America is taller than me. With muscles that bulge like trees under his red, white, and blue uniform, and his shield with its star in the centre. Not this beardy, little man.”

Maria shook her head, “Yeah, you can explain that. Come on kids, we can get some rations heated up.” She looked over at Scott, who was giving her a strange look, “what? Their Augments like you, and uh. I think he’s the original Nightcrawler, which means.”

As he looked at the young girl, it clicked. “Russian, young girl.” That was probably Colossus's little sister. Shaw probably kept them hidden as leverage. As he nodded and they moved to find something warm for them to drink, Fury placed his hand on Scott's shoulder.

“And that's the reason we do it. Two kids who we can take with us and give a better life.”

Scott nodded. Fury was right, moments like these were worth the blood you spilt.

The kids had been fed, even if it was just MRE pasta and meat sauce, and were sleeping in the small bunk room.

Alexei was still in shock that the bearded man before him was the actual Captain America. His superiors lying to him was not a shock. It was Russia. Lying to your men was a way of life.

Fury eyed Omega, who had stretched out over two seats. He had forgone a meal and instead drank two carafes of coffee.

“I can feel your glaring Fury, we are allies now. Once the Red Room is gone, then you can glare.”

“And that's the problem. Last time I saw you you were working for the Red Room, and you seemed pretty happy about it too.”

Omega snorted. “Times change director, times change. The Room became more about money and experiments. I remember when it was about crushing capitalist pig-dog agents beneath our glorious boots. And now, here we are, neither glorious nor agents. I will keep my word, but, when the deal is done, then we have this discussion again.” As he closed his eyes Fury just shook his head.

“ETA is five minutes,” Natasha announced over the intercom, and the group started to prepare.

Alexei stretched, “It will be good to see my wife again, it has been five years since her last visit you know. We get calls but, bah, it is not the same. You really need a good woman to get relief eh?”

While Maria gave Scott a smirk, Steve and Flash just shook their heads.

“Conjugal visits aside, what can we expect? Is this going to be a trap?”

Alexei shook his head. “My Melina? No. She likes her labs too much to care about what we are doing. She will help us if I ask her to, but please, do not be too hard on her, they have our other daughter.”

“Other daughter?” Steve asked, “Nat never mentioned a sister.”

Alexei laughed, “Oh those two were inseparable, well until the Red Room separated them. Little Yelena never forgave any of us for that, even Nat. but little sisters eh?”

“Yes Alexei, we know. She’ll probably try and shoot me, or you, or us both. But let's get Melina first okay?” Nat spoke over the intercom,

“Bah, would it kill you to call her mom? You can be mad at me, but not her, you’ll break her heart.” but the intercom was silent. “Never have children eh? They grow up, become independent and then call, never write, and when you try to reach out, they shoot at you,” he said to Scott, who was getting glances from Maria.

“I uh,“ Scott stammered, and Maria moved over and sat in the seat next to him.

“What Scott means is we’re arriving, so buckle up.” She glared at Alexei who shrugged and grappled with his belt for a few moments. It would not fit over his stomach, so he grabbed the one next to him and tied the two ends together. "Perfect."

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