At 0312 hours, somewhere above the Swiss Alps, just south of Liechtenstein, a nondescript armored transport makes a silent approach towards its final destination. The plane is being flown by Hammer and the man sitting next to him in the cockpit goes by the name of Omega Red.
When they’re almost over the drop zone, Hammer calls Sickle, located in the back of the plane, to get the men ready. Sickle responds that the men are good to go and to get the party started. Upon hearing that, Hammer flips a switch that opens cargo bay doors three and four. Once done, with synchronous precision, wave after wave of armed assault troops spill out from the belly of the beast, raining down like a swarm of locusts onto the tiny landing field below. As the troops dressed in Hydra uniforms rain down, the sentries guarding the entrance to the secret A.I.M. outpost are taken by surprise and quickly thrown into disarray. They become easy cannon fodder for Ivan Pushkin’s well-trained death squads. What follows is a bloodbath, in which the A.I.M. troops are unable to sound the alarm as to warn their companions.
Inside the plane, Omega Red notices a light flashing and asks Hammer what it is for. Hammer replies that it is an incoming message from control and that it must be important if they broke radio silence. Before Omega Red can ask what it is, he is quickly hushed by Hammer, who listens to the transmission. Once he has heard the transmission, he immediately calls Sickle and informs him that they have trouble. Maverick and the Red Guardian escaped from the Cooler about an hour before they left Borivichi. He adds that Pushkin suspect that they may stowed aboard. When Omega Red hears Maverick’s name being mentioned, he is incensed. As Sickle informs Hammer that he will take care of him, Omega Red rushes out of the cockpit informing Hammer that Maverick is his!
Further in the back of the plane, hiding inside of one of the camped, but otherwise deserted storage compartments, the stowaways – Maverick and the Red Guardian anxiously bide their time. As they wait, Maverick mentions to the Red Guardian that he looks a little green. Guardian replies that it’s nothing, just a slight case of nerves and motion sickness. Maverick proceeds to ask him how much field experience he has had and if he is sure he is up to all of this. The Guardian answers that he will be fine once they are on the ground and that he has his word on that. Maverick shoots back that he may call himself the Red Guardian and claim to be working on the side of angels but he doesn’t know him and his word doesn’t mean a hill of beans to him. He explains that he’s still not convinced that he can count on him. The Guardian replies that he understands and that he has the same reservations about him. He adds that regardless of their mutual distrust, he can assure Maverick that he will not be a liability on this mission.
Maverick replies that he better not be. They’re dropping right into an enemy hot zone and he can’t be watching his back when the get down there, there will be too much at stake. The Guardian responds that he doesn’t need to be reminded of what’s at stake. He has been unable to think of little else since they got airborne. He continues that weapons of mass destruction are not something to be taken lightly, especially not when a fiend like Pushkin is involved. He adds that the man is a ruthless and immortal monster and that he won’t think twice about using such weapons against friends and foe alike. The thought of Pushkin getting his paws on A.I.M.’s cache of weapons is absolutely chilling. He adds that he will do whatever is necessary to make sure he fails, even if that entails sacrificing his own life to do it. He asks if Maverick can say the same.
Before Maverick can respond, they are interrupted by Sickle, who slams open the door, and indicates that he has found the first catch of the day. Before he can act, he is knocked out of the way by an incoming Omega Red, who informs the gypsy to get out of the way. He exclaims that he couldn’t care less with what he does with the Guardian but the pleasure of killing Maverick is his and his alone. Upon hearing that, Maverick thinks to himself that this is when the fun begins. When Omega Red joins the fray, mayhem ensues as a he uses his life-draining carbonadium coils to press his attack. Fueled by lethal pheromones coursing through his mutant body, the slithering tendrils lash out every which way, madly gasping at potential prey.
As he bears down on Maverick, he demands that he tell him where he has stashed the carbonadium synthesizers. When Maverick hears what he wants, he realizes that the old goat must still need the synthesizer to neutralize his death factor and stabilize his body. Maverick decides to use this to his advantage and angers Red by asking him if he’s still hung up over that old thing. Maverick also realizes that Red’s sheer bulk is working against him in these tight quarters and is slowing him down. He notices that even Sickle is being hampered by the tight space. The long handle on that blade of his is too clumsy to maneuver in such close quarters. That gives him and the Red Guardian the advantage.
Just then, Maverick has his leg snagged by one of Omega Red’s coils. He decides that it’s not a problem; as long as Red is unaware of the resurgence of his mutant powers, he still has an ace up his sleeve. As he gets slammed up against the crates, he realizes that even though his powers have been out of whack since his relapse, they are still good in a pinch. With that, he grabs a hold of Omega Red’s coils and uses it to fling him across the storage area.
In the front of the plane, Hammer yells over the radio that he just got word from the ground troops that the landing strip has been secured. He recommends Sickle to brace himself for he’s taking the plane down. When Hammer presses the button, the transport’s reverse thrusters come on-line and inadvertently knocks the combatants in the storage compartment off-balance.
When the plane settles down, Maverick informs the Red Guardian to wrap it and to come on. He points out that the pilot must have engaged the transporter’s VTOL capabilities. He then informs him that it’s time to bail. At that, both he and the Red Guardian jump out of the plane onto the mountain below.
Seeing this, Omega Red goes to follow them. He is stopped by Sickle who informs him to not even think about it. He reminds him that he is there to do a job, not to carry out old grudges. He orders him to let it go for his muscle is needed elsewhere. Besides, they will be dealt with later. Under his breath he indicates that it will be by his hand, and not Omega Red’s. Omega Red replies that he is warning Sickle to get out of his way for Maverick and him have an old score to settle. Sickle responds that it can wait for now. They need to carry on as planned and he is to accompany Alpha squad and help them take out the bunker’s command center. From there, he is to coordinate the efforts to raid the munitions wing like they discussed.
When Omega Red asks him what will happen if he doesn’t, Sickle holds his weapon at the ready and informs him not to be stupid. He adds that Pushkin is known as Ivan the Terrible for a reason and what will happen to him if he reneges on his deal with him won’t be pretty. He then asks Omega Red if he understands. Red replies that he does but informs Sickle not to press his luck for if he pushes him too far, he will find himself sharing an early grave with Maverick – deal or no deal. With that, Omega Red storms off.
When he is gone, Sickle calls Hammer on the radio. Hammer asks him what is going on back there and if he needs to send back-up. Sickle informs him that it’s too late for that. Maverick and the other do-gooder got away. Hammer then asks him about Omega Red. He adds that he stormed out of there in a huff. He also knows that they are on a tight schedule and that they can’t afford any loose cannons. If he should wander off… Sickle cuts him off and informs him not to worry. He was able to calm Red down and remind him of his responsibilities and that he won’t be a problem. He then informs Hammer to alert the others to be on the lookout for their unwanted party-crashers but for them to leave them to him. He will take care of them personally. Hammer informs him that he doesn’t think that is wise for his hatred of Maverick is clouding his… He is abruptly cut off by Sickle who informs him that he knows what he is doing and that he will rendezvous with him at the biogenics lab after he is done.
At 0312 hours, Maverick and the Red Guardian have made it to a control center inside the A.I.M. base. Around them are dead A.I.M. soldiers. From images on one of the video screens, Maverick informs Guardian that it looks like the majority of Pushkin’s forces are converging on the stronghold’s main armory – with Omega Red leading the pack. He adds that Hammer’s squad is several levels below, fending off some heavy resistance outside the biogenics lab. He then indicates that they will deal with the conventional armaments later; right now, the need to neutralize the anthrax cultures and whatever other biohazards A.I.M.’s scientists are manufacturing in the lab. More than likely, the customized stealth missiles and their accompanying warheads are stored there as well. They will have to disable them too. He then adds that they will have to split up and assuming the schematics are accurate, this network should get him into the lab before Hammer and his men can fight their way inside.
The Guardian then asks what they are going to do about Sickle and Maverick replies that he will take care of Sickle. Hearing that, the Guardian accuses Maverick of only thinking of his own self-interests. Maverick asks him what he is talking about. The Guardian replies that he saw the fire in Sickle’s eye and that he’s not the only one with a vendetta against him. He also suspects that the feeling is mutual. He then asks him if he realizes that his petty squabbles are going to jeopardize their mission. Maverick informs him that he’s wrong. Sickle has positioned himself in the only corridor between them and the biogenics wing. If he catches on to what they are up to and alerts Hammer, they will never get near the weapons. Someone needs to keep him distracted while the other takes the alternate route into the lab. Before the Red Guardian can ask another question, Maverick takes off. As he leaves, he informs him that he will catch up with him as soon as he can.
At 0438 hours, Sickle is making his way through a slew of dead A.I.M. soldiers until he is stopped in his tracks by Maverick, who asks him if he’s looking for him. As Sickle takes a swipe at Maverick with his weapon, he indicates to him that they have been pussyfooting around long enough and it’s time for him to get what is coming to him. Maverick manages to dodge Sickle’s attack and replies that he has it backwards. Using his power, he is able to jerk Sickle’s weapon out of his hands, much to the dismay of Sickle. Maverick then informs Sickle that he is the one who is going to get his comeuppance and proceeds to punch him in the gut. Maverick continues to pound Sickle unmercifully until he grabs him by his neck and informs him that he has lost again. With both hands around Sickle’s neck, Maverick realizes that Sickle isn’t even fighting back anymore and that it would be very easy for him to just snap his neck.
Choking out the words, Sickle asks him what he is waiting for. Isn’t he going to finish him off? He then challenges Maverick to go ahead and do it. At that point, Maverick lifts him up off the ground and looks at him for a moment. He then proceeds to slam him to the ground. As he does, he informs him that he’s not going to kill him, not like this, he’s not worth it. He adds that unlike him, he doesn’t go around murdering defenseless people in cold blood – it’s not his style. Besides, he needs him to relay a message to his buddy Hammer. The message – tell that scum of a partner of his that he hasn’t forgotten about his role in Major Barrington’s assassination and to tell him that justice will be served – that his day of reckoning is at hand. With that, he leaves Sickle lying prone on the ground, as he goes to take care of other business.
Altamonte Springs, Florida is the home to the recently relocated Johnson family. Former KGB agent Elena Ivanova has been occupying their upstairs guest room for almost a week now recuperating from injuries sustained during a vicious clash with the homicidal Sabretooth with left her in a catatonic state. Ever since Maverick’s departure, Brian Johnson has taken his place at Elena’s side – standing vigil for hours each day. Sometimes talking or reading to her, sometimes listening to music together. Other times –
just simply sharing a mutual silence.
Suddenly, Brian’s power backlashes and he collapses. As he does, he thinks to himself that he almost fainted that time. He also knows that there is no denying that his headaches have been steadily increasing since his little outing in Doc Keller’s office. Also that the strain of using his powers like he did must have made his condition worse – so much for karmic fair play. He proceeds to pick up the transistor Maverick gave him. As he holds it, he thinks to himself that it’s hard to resist the urge of calling Maverick on his chatterbox but he knows that he had some personal stuff to sort out and he wanted to give him his space. Still, he hopes that he comes back soon.
At 0512 hours back at the A.I.M. fortress in the Alps, the main armory has fallen to Pushkin’s Hydra disguised forces. Commanding instant fear and subservience from those around him with his menacing stature, Omega Red dutifully oversees the operation - all the while indulging his own homicidal tendencies by randomly draining the life forces of the occasional hapless prisoners. Under his supervision, the seized armaments are loaded onto various skiffs and then taken back to the narrow landing field where their escape transport lies waiting. As Omega Red looks on, his attention is drawn to a battered and beaten Sickle approaching him. Upon seeing him, Omega Red asks him what happened to him and then indicates that he wants to guess. He guesses that he went after Maverick on his own and let him get the best of him to boot. Now it’s up to him to take care of the pest control problem, as he should have from the start. Sickle tries to stop him and reminds him of Pushkin. Omega Red responds that he can save it – he’s more than fulfilled his commitment to Pushkin. Now he’s on his own time. With that he storms off to find Maverick.
At 0516 hours in the biogenics lab, Hammer is directing his squad on what to do. He orders them to make sure the stealth missiles are secured. He also warns them to be careful with the warheads. If they are damaged, the master will have their heads. In a control room, the Red Guardian has been able to disengage the command overrides. Doing so means that when he enables the emergency shutdown fail-safes the biological agents in those canisters will be permanently neutralized and no one will be able to reverse the process. The only problem is reaching the switch. It is all the way on the other side of the lab, past Hammer and his squad.
The Guardian realizes that, since Pushkin’s thugs are getting ready to handle the actual canisters containing the assorted biohazards, his only option is to make a suicide dash and hope for the best. No sooner does he emerge from his hiding spot, does Hammer notice him. He indicates to him look who’s there – the Red Guardian, self-proclaimed hero of the Russian people. He adds that his noble delusions are going to get him killed. When he says that, the Red Guardian thinks to himself that he may be right for he is cornered with no place to… Just then, Maverick appears from the ceiling and asks if he can cut in – Hammer and he have some unfinished business.
As he lands, Maverick is in pain. The burning sensation is getting harder to bear each time he charges up. As it is, his hands are seared raw. Immediately, Hammer takes a swing at Maverick with his giant hammer weapon and proceeds to ask him what their unfinished business is all about. Maverick is able to dodge the attack and connects with a blow of his own. As he does, he answers that surely the name Arthur Frederick Barrington rings a bell or maybe he, the butcher, doesn’t keep track of his many victim’s names. Even as Maverick is able to connect, he has to constantly keep it together and block the pain. He can’t let Hammer know how much he is hurting. Hammer is able to connect with a shot to Maverick. As he does he informs him that the old Major was as easy as a kill as he is. Maverick knows that he needs to by the Guardian the time and space he needs to…
He is unable to finish the though, as Hammer uses his weapon to bring down some machinery that falls on Maverick, pinning him below. However, Maverick has done his job for the Red Guardian has made it over to the switch and pushes it. Depressing the switch sets off an alarm. Hammer turns to ask the Guardian what he has done. The answer Guardian provides him with is that the stuff in those canisters will soon be worthless to him and there’s nothing he can do to stop it. Hammer angrily replies that is too bad for him and bring his hammed down on the Guardian’s leg, crushing it beneath the massive blow. He then informs his squad to get the missiles out of the lab, he will cover their backs. He then orders three others to finish off the Red Guardian and Maverick off.
When the troops move towards Maverick, he frees himself from the rubble and informs them to not even try it. He easily takes them all out and goes over to check on the Red Guardian. As he helps him up, the Guardian informs him that he shouldn’t have let them get away and that he should have left him there for he’s a liability. Maverick replies that there is no need for martyrs today. Besides, it will take them a while to reach the transport and finish loading their goodies. He still has enough time to get him to safety before he heads out. With that, Maverick assists the barely conscious Red Guardian to one of the bunkers auxiliary hangars.
Once there, he indicates to the Red Guardian that the escape pod will get him down to one of the villages below and from there he’s on his own. The Guardian thanks him and wishes him luck. He also apologizes for misjudging him. Maverick tells to him not to sweat it, adding that he shouldn’t have given him such a hard time either. He then indicates to him that he, the Red Guardian, has earned his respect. The Guardian then informs him that his name is Krassno, Krassno Granitsky. His last words before he passes out is that he owes Maverick a debt of honor and, if he ever needs anything, to contact him in Pargolovo. Once their conversation is complete, Maverick is surprised that he didn’t pass out sooner – his leg wound was pretty nasty. He then sets the auto-pilot and sends him on his way before…
He is unable to finish that thought, as Omega Red appears behind him. Red informs him that he shouldn’t have left him buried alive beneath the Weapon X facility. He adds that he’s been looking forward to some payback and, now that the opportunity is finally there, he’s going to relish every last moment. Maverick responds by informing him that he, Omega Red, will have to catch him first. He also calls him a big lummox. Red replies to Maverick that he had better watch the insults, for he has dismembered men for less. Maverick asks him if that is so. He then indicates that, considering their special relationship, he was hoping he would be exempt from his wrath. Red tells to him to not count on it.
As Maverick continues to taunt Red he is able to dodge all of his attacks. He makes it over to a control panel that will release the Red Guardian’s escape pod. Once there, he asks Red about the carbonadium synthesizer. He reminds him that if he kills him, he will never find it and without it, he points out to Red that his fate will be sealed.
After depressing the escape pod release button, Maverick makes his way out of the lab and onto the mountainside it is perched on. As he does so, Omega Red informs him that right now he doesn’t care about the synthesizer. He adds that he doesn’t care about anything but pounding Maverick into a bloody pulp. For that, he doesn’t need to kill him. To demonstrate, Omega Red wrap his coils around Maverick, pulling Maverick towards him. As he does, he informs him that he can just as easily torture him to the brink of death and make him beg for mercy. He then asks Maverick how it feels to have the very life drained out of him.
Maverick is starting to get weak and he can barely stay conscious. He knows that he needs to get the coils off of him. Suddenly, he realizes that the coils are the only things keeping his body stable and that Red’s very existence depends on them. He also realizes that is a weakness that he can exploit and right now the only chance he has is to provoke Red into slamming him around hard enough so he can charge up his powers. To do so, he begins to insult Red. He indicates to him that he must be losing his touch if he thinks he can beat him with this lame effort. He adds that if this is the best that he, Omega Red, can do he is extremely disappointed. Red does not take kindly to that and calls Maverick an insolent cur, all while slamming him on the ground.
Once Maverick is slammed to the ground, his hands begin to glow. He then asks Arkady what’s wrong – isn’t he as tasty now that he’s infected with the legacy virus. Or is it that he’s afraid he will catch it himself if he keeps draining his life force? Omega Red hesitates for the briefest of moments - affording Maverick the opening to make his move. Maverick is grabs hold of Red’s coils and slams them to the ground, fusing them together. Omega Red, in a panic, asks him what he is doing to his coils. Maverick says nothing but uses all of his power to jerk Arkady’s fused coils in an effort to knock him off balance. It works and as Omega Red is off balance, Maverick places a well placed side-kick to his abdomen and knocks him off the side of the mountain. As he falls off the mountain, Omega Red calls out NOOOOOO.
With Omega Red dealt with, Maverick realizes that took way too long. In the distance, he hears the sound of the transport revving its engines and realizes that he doesn’t have a second to spare if he’s going to reach it before it takes off. With that, Maverick runs full speed towards the transport in the distance, not sure if he’s going to make it in time. Arkady’s coils took a lot more out of him than he thought. His heart is racing, his head is pounding, his legs feel like rubber, and he’s just about ready to collapse. But he is determined to not let himself quit; there is too much at stake. As the transport begins its ascent, Maverick is able to leap and grab hold of the landing gear before it goes into its housing.
Inside the transport, Pushkin’s troops are discussing their Hydra outfits. One of them indicates that they may look cool, but they itch like crazy. Another of them replies “tell me about it” and that he has the nastiest rash on his… He is unable to finish his thoughts as Maverick appears and takes them all out.
During the battle he opens up the exit door and is able to kick two of the troops out of the transport. Once they have been dealt with, he charges up his hands so he can put the missiles out of commission permanently. He then uses his powers to destroy the missiles. After doing so, Maverick is spent. As he stands in front of the open plane door he knows that he needs to rest a moment before he can…
There is no rest for the weary, however, as Sickle comes up behind him and punches him in the back of the head. As he wraps his hands around Maverick’s neck, Maverick knows that his body has taken too much abuse and that he can’t hold him off. As Sickle continues to choke the life out of Maverick he curses him and blames him for ruining everything. For that, he wants him dead. However, after that last humiliation, killing him is not enough. With that, he pulls off Maverick’s faceplate. Sickle continues that he is going to show Maverick the same mercy he showed him and make him suffer as he’s suffered by leaving him with a fitting reminder of his hate for him! With that, Sickle gouges his thumb into Maverick’s left eye. Maverick screams with a primal intensity the likes of which he’s never felt before, and then half his world goes black.
Simultaneously, back at the Johnson house, an unexpected turn of events occur when Elena wakes up and expels enormous amounts of energy to the surprise of Brian sitting next to her.
Back on the plane, Maverick is laying on the wing with his hand over his gouged out eye. He thinks to himself that it’s over until he realizes that he can’t give up now and that he has to stay calm – for if he panics, he’s dead. With a last gasp effort, he is able to kick Sickle and jumps towards the engine on the plane’s wing. Once there, he has the presence of mind to destroy it with what power he has left. He then jumps off of the crippled transport into the unknown below.
In the front of the transport, Hammer is knocked around by the force of it spiraling out of control. He orders one of the troops to inform him of what is happening. The soldier informs him that their primary port-engine is off-line. Hammer asks how that happened and the solider replies that he doesn’t know, it doesn’t make any sense. Hammer proceeds to sit down at the controls and informs the rest of the passengers on board to strap in, for the auxiliary engine just went dead – they’re going down! As the transport makes its decline towards the mountain, Maverick continues his free-fall. At about the same time, the two of them crash onto the mountain below in two different locations.
As soon as the plane crashes, Hammer calls the gangster Ivan Pushkin at his mansion in Borivichi, Russia. He is quickly apprised of the latest developments. Pushkin asks what happened to Omega Red. Hammer informs him that he went AWOL and was left behind. Pushkin replies that is too bad for him and that at least A.I.M. will still believe that Hydra was responsible for the heist. He adds that, even if Arkady is apprehended, he’s not stupid enough to blow his cover. He informs Hammer that he is still extremely displeased and then orders him to salvage what he can from the crash site. He will arrange an airlift for him and whatever armaments he retrieves. He wants the area cleared before any unwanted spectators arrive on the scene.
Hammer asks him what they should do about Maverick. If he survived the fall, he can’t be far from there. Should they organize a search party to… He is cut off by Pushkin, who informs him to leave Maverick be and to let Christoph lick his wounds. He wants him whole again before he breaks him.
On another part of the mountain, Maverick pulls himself up out of the snow. He’s never been in so much pain. His whole body is trembling and he’s starting to go into shock. He assumes that must mean he’s still alive but he wonders where he is. As he looks at the ground around him, he sees blood everywhere. He wonders what happened to him. He’s disoriented and wonders why he can’t see out of… He stops in his thoughts when he remembers that Sickle gouged out his eye. He realizes that it’s still bleeding and, as much as it’s going to hurt, he needs to cauterize the wound. Using his two powered up fingers, he jabs them into the hole that was once known as his eye. Once done, he collapses.
In Florida, Brian Johnson rejoins Elena in her room. He thinks to himself that was some psi-blast and that he better call the Doc and let him know about… He is stopped in his thoughts when he hears Elena mutter the name Maverick. Brian hears her and is shocked. He wonders if their psi-link has been reestablished when she came out of her coma. He wonders if that would explain her sudden psionic outbursts. He then holds her hand and comforts her. He informs her that Maverick isn’t there but that he’s fine. He then promises that wherever he is, he will come back to them.
Somewhere in the Alps, Maverick pulls himself up and starts to make his way through a driving snowstorm, aimlessly.