They landed at the farm first. Melina refuelled the jet and prepared it for international flight. Theirs was back in the barn, covered in a tarp, but the one they stole would make the trip just fine.
The first job was to separate out the Augments who wanted to remain in Russia and the ones who were hunted by the State. Not every Augment in the prison was a criminal. Some were political prisoners, while others were only there to be MGH factories. Russia was a big enough place that they could go home and just vanish. But there were others who had no home. Ones whose parents sold them to the Red Room for a bounty. They would be going back to the US to stay with Xavier or Selene. Renamed the Sexjet, it was being refitted to allow everyone to at least sit. It wouldn't be comfortable, but it was better than nothing.
Natasha had called ahead and Felicia had arranged a safe house for her parents and sister to live in. Immigration documents would take a bit longer, but once they were in the US, time was on their side.
Alexei and Melina were both in their bedroom, while Yelena sat in the kitchen, grinning at her sister.
“So, do we talk about it, or do we sit and stare awkwardly at each other?” Yelena asked. Widow had cleared her system of the Red Room MGH and she was now back with Natasha. She was busy trying to write down as much as possible for the follow-up mission Wrath would be doing alone.
“Do I want to discuss my intimate love life with my sister?” Natasha said, without looking up. “No, we never ever tell Peter that you know. Ever.”
Yelena shrugged, “I was only asking. But he does seem like a nice guy, a little short for me though. Do you think that Flash is single?”
Natasha rolled her eyes as Yelena smirked at her.
Fury was not in a good mood, however. Omega’s refusal to kill Madame Hydra and his dismissal of Natasha was a thorn in his side. The Red Room fortress was gone. They had felt the shockwave as it crashed, but he knew it would all come back to stab him later. Shaking his head, he knew he shouldn't have trusted the psychotic bastard. He should have taken a leaf from Hill's new book and just shot him when he had the chance.
As they grabbed their gear from the passenger jet he saw Scott, heading towards the second jet. Maria was inside, helping Steve and Flash strip it out. Grabbing his gear he shouted over before Scott could climb the stairs in.
Fury walked over, and Scott waited, nervously glazing up the stairs. “You asked if it's always like this?” As he looked at the dejected and angry Scott, “Well, yeah. Sometimes the bad guys win. Sometimes we come home missing people, and sometimes it goes sideways in a way you never expected.” As he stood and patted the young man on the shoulder. “But you did good, real good. If you take anything away from this mission, you saved lives.” Fury reached into his jacket pocket as his phone buzzed. “Remember that, okay?" Scott nodded and looked up the stairs. "It's fine. I need to take this.”
Scott realised Fury was right. While the Red Room was still in existence they had saved a lot of Augments from becoming MGH factories. They lost the war but won several significant battles.
Yeah, we did good. Now the hard part.
As he climbed into the jet, Scott looked hesitantly at Maria. She grabbed her duffle bag from the back of the stolen Russian jet. Feeling his presence she grabbed her stuff before walking towards him.
“Don't give me that look, Scott. We had fun, we did a mission. What more do you want?” As she slung the bag over her shoulder, he paused, unsure of what to say.
Maria’s shoulders sagged. “Well? What more do you want? It's not a hard question. I want sex, dinner, a movie, coffee. Repeat as often as possible. What do you want?”
“Oh?” Scott stammered, he had thought this would be goodbye, “Yeah, repeats, uh I mean, coffee, yeah coffee.”
Maria shook her head. “Come on then.” Sure he was like a puppy. An incredibly fit but totally untrained puppy. Training she could do. He wanted her to show him how to run a team. If she was honest, she had done her time as a trainer and hated it, but with Scott, things were different.
She leaned over and grabbed his arm, pulling him closer, "You did good. Good behaviour gets rewarded. Think about what you want me to do." She kissed his neck, and then with a gentle pull, tilted his head down and captured his lips with hers. "We have a long flight and then a long time to get to know each other properly."
As she walked towards the farm Scott followed behind her. He was unsure if she normally swung her hips that provocatively or not, but he really did not care.
The journey back to the US was uneventful. With several stops on the way to New York.
Selene greeted some of the more suspicious Augments. Running from the government had instilled a healthy dose of paranoia in most of them. The fact the Xavier Institute was in one of the largest cities in the US was not helping. Selene smiled as she welcomed those who wished to stay, and offered a home to those who were heading to Charles.
Natasha, Melina, Yelena, and Alexei were met at the airport by Felicia. She raised an eyebrow at the unlikely group but Natasha just shook her head. "Don't even start," she said as Felicia held in a giggle.
"I thought you lived in a big place, bathhouse, and lots of women?" Yelena asked as they were shown into a dingy apartment in a Midtown block.
"I do, but you can't be seen there. You're illegal aliens." Natasha explained as she dumped bags on the tatty but serviceable couch.
"So, we get roach motel and what? Ignored while you make kissie faces with Boobarella over there," Yelena complained.
"Felicia can hear you, and yes. We get you papers, and then you can roam free." Felicia brought in newly bought bedding and dumped it on the bag Natasha had just dropped. "'til then, take out, the menu is there, they know and it's free. Groceries will come once a week, you eat it all, and it's tough shit. You're only getting the good stuff as you're Natasha's family."
Yelena snorted, "I have my own safe house. I'll crash there." But as she moved to grab her bag, Felicia changed and Huntress grabbed her. She flipped her, slammed her into the floor, and held a blade at her throat.
"No, you will stay here. Where we can make sure you're big mouth doesn't cause us or Peter problems."
"I like her. Widow did not tell me there are some serious bitches in your group." Yelena slowly raised a hand and touched it to the blade, "Okay, Okay, I give, I give. Please?"
The blade slid back and Felicia smiled at Yelena, "Natasha gets to call us names as she earned it. Call me a name again and I'll show you how much of a bitch I am."
Felicia stood, "So, make yourselves at home, while I go talk to Nat." She patted Yelena on the side of the face, "Cya later blondie bear."
As she left the apartment, Yelena lay on the floor, "was that flirting? I felt like that was flirting."
Steve and Webb had been recalled to active duty. The WSC had finally made up its mind they were blameless. With the media frenzy gone, they had asked if Captain America could lead the Avengers once more.
Webb had followed along. His home was New York, and he felt he could do much more as an Avenger than a vigilante.
As Fury sat down at the large office desk he smiled at Coulson, “You know, it's strange being on this side of the desk.”
Coulson snorted. “I’m not giving up my office.”
Fury laughed, “Yeah I figured that. So, what does the new head of Shield want with me?”
Coulson slid a folder over to Fury. “The fallout from this is big, and not just in Russia.”
Russia had filed several international incident reports with the WSC. Omega had blamed everything on an illegal American strike force. He never named Shield outright, as he knew it could be proven it was a lie. He did mention a one-eyed operative and an Ex-KGB defector. Anyone in the government knew who he meant. It glossed over Omega’s involvement and there was no mention of either Hydra or the Red Room.
Fury flicked idly through the file. It was all bureaucratic bullshit. Puffery of the highest level, written to make them look good and Fury look bad. “So, am I under arrest?”
Coulson shook his head. “No, they were nice enough to leave names out of the report, but it gets worse.” He slid over another file, this one marked 'Confidential, for Shield Director Only'.
Fury raised an eyebrow. “This could land you in a lot of trouble,” but he still lifted the file and frowned as he read.
Omega, now calling himself Omega Red, had taken over the Red Room. A cleaner and safer MGH was being hailed as a miracle drug, cheap to produce and safe to use. A rival for both Extremis and the Stacy formula. The Russian government was touting it as a superior Super Soldier program. They had created an enlistment program, calling all Augments to proudly serve.
That was the official report anyway.
The harsh truth was that Russia was still using undesirable to make the drug. MGH was still unstable and the failures were being covered up. But the file had several photographs of hugely mutated soldiers being shot.
Shaking his head, Fury lay the file down. “So, what does that mean here?”
Coulson frowned and poured out two glasses of scotch and added ice to Fury’s
“Ellis is trying his best to limit the damage. But when the Bugle is spewing anti-Mutant propaganda it's hard to win public support. Gideon Malik, who’s now a Senator, is pushing for an amendment to the New York accords. He wants it to cover Augments as well. It's messy and not looking good.”
“Malik? Security Council Malik?” Coulson nodded, “Didn’t we find out he was Hydra?”
Coulson shook his head. “Didn't stick.”
Another file appeared and this time Fury swore. Hydra had several viruses embedded in the Shield databases. Once their coup failed they wiped every Shield facility clean. Almost every file on every Shield employee was gone, and with them evidence of who was a Hydra agent and who wasn't. “Malik used the tragedy as an excuse to get out of the WSC and into politics. Making waves too. Rumours are he’ll run for President next election.”
“That's not great but Presidents come and go. As long as the players are fair, the game can only be rigged so far.”
“They don’t need to rig the game. Public opinion on Augments is at an all-time low. Once the scandal about Shaw broke it was over. The fact that several high-ranking officials were all found dead in his bar was news enough. Nobody cared about the dead girls. They only cared that Augments were at the centre of it.”
Fury rubbed his forehead, “I thought Shield would cover that up.” but Coulson shook his head again and spun his glass.
“We did, but someone else is playing games. An anonymous leak spilled it all, from Shaw all the way up. They want this to go through, we don't know why yet, but they are making sure it does,”
“And if it does?”
“Civil War. You don't round up close to a million Augments without one of them getting trigger-happy. Lines are being drawn Nick, and it won't matter whose side you're on. Nobody will win that fight.”
“If they can. I doubt Augments will take this lying down. Xavier has a team, and they will fight.”
Cousin nodded, “They know.” He slid a file across the desk, and Fury lifted it. He scowled and shook his head.
“This again? They didn’t work last time, and they think giant robots will work this time. Didn’t Ultron prove that?”
“These aren’t Ultron, these are Government made. Malik made sure of that. JJ’s behind their release and last time it was Nixon. JJ is way more popular.”
“I’ll warn Parker, you know he won’t stay quiet about this.”
Coulson snorted, “Parker? Warn them all.”
Xavier put down his phone, and the call from Fury had not been a pleasant one. It added to his already stressful life, thankfully the two new students were settling in nicely.
Illiana had proven to be Piotr's little sister. She was busy helping him regain his memory after Shaw's experiments, but both were happy.
Kurt was the original son of Azazel and one of another unknown Augment. Psylocke had cried when she saw him. Much to the amusement of the other students, but not to Kurt, she had rushed and almost crushed him in a hug.
The rest were settling in as well. There would be an adjustment period, but with help, it would be painless. Several of the younger Augments had already started classes. He also had a few whispers of individuals wishing to join the X-Men. While cautious, he would vet them properly, make sure there were no spies and welcome them with open arms.
It was the report about the new Augment restrictions that had Charles worried though. If the US was becoming hostile to their kind, then perhaps a new independent state was in order. Somewhere Augments could live freely. He had no doubts that one day Augments and humans could live peacefully, but that was not any time soon. New discoveries always brought a period of unrest. People needed time to adjust, and during that time things often got out of hand.
Genosha was a good example of what could be accomplished, but it was still part of the United States. No, Charles had a much grander plan than a simple island. Now all he needed was to persuade Erik to help him.