A Hydra team is in the Arctic, looking for something hidden deep within the ice. Colonel Nick Fury, several S.H.I.E.L.D. operatives and Wolverine are on their trail. Four of Strucker’s lieutenants are alone in the ice fields, wondering where their soldiers have gone. Without the supplies they were guarding, they’re gonna have a job retrieving what they came for. Guillotine hears engines coming towards them, and figures they’ve finally got their act together. However, Romulus’ genetically enhanced senses tell her differently. The people approaching don’t smell right.
Suddenly, Nick Fury, Dum Dum Dugan, Wolverine, Alexander Pierce and Network Nina come zooming over the ridge on snowmobiles. “Hit ‘em high an’ lay ‘em low!” cries Fury. Romulus takes off on her own snowmobile, pursued by Fury. Wolverine goes after the unfortunate Guillotine, whilst Dum Dum comes in firing towards Lt. Garotte. This leaves Pierce and Nina to go after Saltz. Gunfire rings out across the snow-covered ground, as the Hydra lieutenants are separated from one another.
Wolverine goes in hard without a weapon. He uses his claws to slash at Guillotine, who uses his arm to deflect the blows, before using his own claws to cut Wolverine across the chest. Wolverine smiles, as his healing factor will make short work of that. He leaps at Guillotine, cutting his metallic arm in two. Guillotine screams out, more in frustration at this happening to him, again, than from any actual pain.
Fury drives his snowmobile with one arm, carrying his weapon in the other, as he catches up with Romulus. As he reaches her, she leaps from her craft and uses her own gloved hand to slash at Fury with the claws on her fingers. Blood spurts from his shoulder as Romulus tells Fury he should have been in S.H.I.E.L.D. Central when they blew it up. Then, he might have rated a memorial service along with his 1500 recruits. Fury falls from his snowmobile, and Romulus leaps after him. While she is in mid air, Fury compliments her on her moves, but they don’t mean jack against a heavy caliber. He shoots her twice at close range.
Dum Dum, meanwhile, rams Garotte from behind, and they both fall into the snow. Garotte takes aim with his rifle, but the quick thinking Dugan shoots the weapon from his hand with a pistol. Garotte then kicks the pistol from Dugan’s hand and goes in for the kill with his overly-long fingers. He grabs Dugan around the neck and squeezes, but Dugan manages to pull out his knife and uses it to sever some of Garotte’s deadly fingers.
Nina and Pierce have similar luck as they catch Saltz. Nina leaps from the snowmobile and grabs Saltz around the neck, nailing him with a psychic sucker punch to his cerebellum. He manages to swing his rifle backwards, and knocks her away from him, before pulling out a plastic explosive and planting it on one of the snowmobiles. Nina realizes what he’s done before Pierce does, and the ten second count soon becomes zero. The vehicle’s fuel tanks explode, throwing liquid flame all over the place. Nina manages to stay safe, but Pierce is caught in the blast, with shrapnel hitting him in the small of his back.
Saltz grabs another snowmobile and heads straight towards Dum Dum and Garotte, who he calls to get out of the way. He then collides with Dum Dum, and shouts over to Garotte to pull Guillotine’s backside out of the fire. They may yet need him. Saltz then grabs hold of Romulus and teases her about being shot by Nick Fury. All four of them then make their escape, as the S.H.I.E.L.D. team celebrate at least getting them on the run.
Dum Dum informs Fury about Pierce’s condition, but Fury is so hyped that he doesn’t even consider his friend. He just wants the Hydra goons dead. Wolverine tries to shake some sense into him, and Fury suddenly takes in what Dum Dum just told him. He wants some shelter for Pierce and Nina, which can be arranged by packing the mobiles with snow to form a kind of makeshift igloo. Wolverine watches Pierce being cared for at last, and tells Dum Dum he’ll be okay. Dum Dum replies that it’s Fury he’s more concerned about.
The Hydra lieutenants soon arrive at their destination. The power they seek lies underneath them. All they need to do is retrieve it. Guillotine asks how he’s supposed to repel the cave with just one arm, but he’s told that maybe he should do them a favor and stay behind. Maybe Fury will extend him the same compassion he showed to their soldiers back at the cargo container. If by some miracle he does survive, then he will still have the Baron to answer to for yet another failure. Romulus doesn’t think Strucker will have forgotten how Guillotine lost his arm to the Punisher in the first place. The hapless Guillotine is shamed into joining them in the caves.
As the S.H.I.E.L.D. team gathers around a campfire, Pierce is looked after by Nina. The team wonders what’s got Hydra’s top goon squad in Santa Land. Wolverine suggests that with all the equipment they had, including thermite, high-tension cables and climbing gear; it’s a pretty big snowman they’re after. Hot too, adds Dugan. His Geiger counter’s playing a tune he don’t like much. Fury scratches his head. They use a Geiger counter to find it, thermite to melt it and cable to lift it out. What’s all this adding up to?
Pierce is in a bad way, but he’s still listening to the conversation. Weakly, he whispers. “Radioactive… in ice… big as a… Vladivostock... ” Fury asks what he’s saying, but Dum Dum thinks it’s just his injuries talking.
Fury, Dugan and Wolverine are up early as the sun rises. Fury asks Dugan to get his Geiger counter working. They’ve got bad guys to bust. He asks Nina to keep an eye on Pierce in their shelter.
After they depart, Nina tries to contact base on a radio but the cloud cover is making communications next to impossible. She touches Pierce and notices that he’s freezing. She whips her top off and lies on top of him to raise his body temperature. As she hugs him, she tells him that it’s nothing personal. Pierce smiles. “Too bad…”
Meanwhile, Wolverine spots a piece of Guillotine’s busted arm stuck in the ice, so he knows they’re on the right path. Dum Dum doesn’t like the readings he’s getting from his Geiger counter, and Fury replies that he’ll like ‘em even less if Hydra get their hands on what’s causing them. They lean over a ledge into a wide cavern, and Wolverine scratches his head. It looks like he owes Pierce an apology. “The Vladivostock!” exclaims Fury, “Soviet nuclear powered icebreaker.” He explains that the Russkies abandoned her in ’81 when her reactors went out of control. The ship sits silently in the water.
Dum Dum figures this must be the info Yuri turned over to Hydra. Wolverine doesn’t think that an atomic Hydra sounds like a good idea. Fury adds that Yuri selling out was a tragedy, but he made his peace eating the barrel of his gun. As for Hydra, he continues, pulling out his pistol, he wants to educate them in the dangers of nuclear power.
Meanwhile, Lt. Saltz has melted through several meters of snow with the thermite, and a chopper hovers overhead waiting to pull the Vladivostock out. It lowers two cables which Romulus and Saltz grab a hold of. They have both the fuel assembly and the reactor controls to haul up, and they’ve been detached from the bulkhead ready for lifting. The whining Guillotine asks why he has to handle the fuel assembly alone. The nuclear material’s in there, and he’s concerned about radiation poisoning. Romulus asks him to just steady the cable for God’s sake. She’ll attach it herself. Guillotine replies that he’s not useless, but Saltz says he’s the next best thing. Romulus suddenly smells blood in the air. She knows they have company.
Saltz fires upon Dum Dum Dugan, who happens by, but Dugan is simply on decoy duty. Dangerous enough, but this gives Wolverine the drop on Saltz. He slices through his rifle with his adamantium blades, causing a spark which ignites the ammo inside, blasting Saltz backwards. “Next!” grins Wolverine.
Garotte orders his fellow lieutenants not to delay. They have trouble on deck. Guillotine somehow manages to do something right, and connects the fuel assembly to the chopper cable. The chopper then lifts off, carrying the two pieces of equipment along with three of the lieutenants. Saltz is still moving despite being injured, and he fires on Dum Dum and Wolverine who dive for cover. He then jumps to join Garotte and Romulus, but Nick Fury also leaps across to grab the fuel assembly. Unfortunately, Guillotine is waiting for him but, as he prepares to strike, Fury fires several shots into his body, killing him.
Fury grabs the chopper cable and realizes it’s now too taut to loosen. He needs something to cut through it, and he eyes Guillotine lying next to him. “Don’t want to be useless, eh, Guillotine?” He picks the guy up over his head, and uses his razor sharp projections to try and cut the cable. Saltz can’t shoot Fury as he is unsteady on his feet, and he watches helplessly as the cable snaps and the reactor drops along with Guillotine and Fury into the freezing water.
The other lieutenants watch on in horror. Their mission is now a failure, but Garotte figures they should at least return to the Baron with something. The chopper flies away, still carrying the reactor controls as Fury surfaces. Romulus tells Garotte that she’d consider not returning at all.
Dum Dum and Wolverine pull Fury out of the drink, and Wolverine tells him he’s impressed, not that he’d admit that in public. Fury asks what he’s impressed at? Hydra coming this close to making off with enough nuclear fuel to barbecue the planet? He figures they got lucky this time. He smirks, and wonders if maybe he should put Guillotine’s name forward to receive a posthumous meritorious service medal. Dum Dum jokes that this kinda talk worries him, and Fury replies that he’ll give him something to worry about. What happens the day their luck runs out?