nineteen.

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The ride home felt almost like a dream to Steve. He remained next to Hazel the whole time, her breath steady as she remained in the machinery, after Bruce had said it was best for her to remained stabilized until they reached the Tower.

Tony, Clint and Natasha had arrived half a hour after Pietro and Wanda saved Hazel, and they were almost throwing a party for how ecstatic and thrilled they were at the thought that everyone was ok. But the cheering slowly diminished as Steve and Bruce filled them in with what had previously happened. Instead of joy, looks of sympathy and sadness appeared on the Avengers' faces as they looked at Hazel and wondered how she was going to react to what had happened to her. Just like Steve, they all silently promised her they were going to support her, but there was no way of avoiding a breakdown. The news was too shocking, too triggering and too painful to accept with a simply cry, and they feared Hazel's reaction.

But, most of all, now that she was slowly healing, they wanted answers. Lucy was still unconscious, and it was best she was, or she was never going to get out of that jet alive. They were going to lock her up, and interrogate her, and they highly wished she wasn't going to cooperate easily.

-

The sound of heels clicking on the clean pavement was the only sound to be heard in the corridor. The aura of professionalism and creepiness emanating from the figures reached a maximum level, and their expression were just as terrifying.

The guards quickened their paces as they surpassed their boss and opened the doors for him to walk in smoothly, not leaving a word of gratitude as he walked further into the room to reach the man he was searching for.

"Marnikov," he muttered when he stopped in front of a table full of blueprints and tools. The man raised his head from what he was working on and removed his goggles to observe the boss, immediately standing up in a firm position as he recognized him.

"Sir," he simply said, his eyes deprived of every emotion since he had arrived in that base. That wasn't his place, that wasn't the way he deserved to be treated, and he perfectly knew what to do about it.

"Follow me, there's something I want to show you," the boss said, and moved towards the exit as Marnikov tripped behind him.

He followed the men through the corridor and towards a door that read FIRE EXIT, even if something told him that door was lying.

They walked three flight of stairs down before reaching another door, that one of the guards unlocked with an old looking key. Marnikov looked around himself the whole time without saying a word. The room they were in seemed abandoned and useless, but as he heard screams coming from another room he realized something dark and secret was going on down there.

"I trust you enough to show you my secret project. And I'm sure you can do something to help me with it," the boss said, guiding the others towards the end of the room. He walked on the side of the wall and took off his glasses, pointing his eyes closer to the material, from which a scan appeared and scanned his pupils before a green dot appeared next to the scan.

The wall started moving dangerously as it opened to the side, revealing a more modern a technologic room behind it. But that wasn't what surprised Marnikov the most. It was the amount of men and women attached to cots with their wrists and ankles secured as they screeched in pain.

"I present you, Nicolaj Marnikov, the future. These are my soldiers, the future of military missions, the perfect soldiers to comply without even needing to be brainwashed." The boss raised his arms, a proud smile on his face as his eyes scanned the room.

"Did they volunteer?" Marnikov asked.

"They did, and that's why they'll be more powerful than any other army ever created. But there is still one more thing I need to perfection before they can start training. And you're going to help me."

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