Undisclosed Location, Sinister Empire, Kangnyong Region
Brief flashes of bright conical tubes of light bounced around the abandoned Akkaba ruins.
"Is that our mark, Herr Oberscharfurher?" Asked Sturmbannfuhrer Ullrich Becker.
Peter Schultz remained silent, his eyes watching the Egyptian silhouettes for any sign of a rear guard. Taking a deep breath, removing the standard issue Krieger A20 multipurpose goggles, and wiping the accumulated sweat from his brow, he turned to Becker.
"Ja. These are the ones....if those intercepted Sinister reports were properly broken, these are the rebels the Reichsmarshall wants."
Pulling his FG-62 assault rifle from his pack near his feet, Shultz pulled the scope to his eye, trigger hand resting on the stock. He flipped through the lenses, enhancing the image of the Akkaba port and viewing the infra-red signals emitted from the rebels' location. The heat emanating from the targets' bodies were hindered from view by pockets of radiation.
"Becker, tell Toller, Friedrich, and Mohlen to check their Geiger counters and to dress in the Zyklon padding we hauled from the Mandies in China. This area still has some nasty pockets of radiation."
For 3 weeks, Shultz's sturmgruppen had been tracking these rebels, always at least one step behind or just in time to smell the ashes of their last combatants. This particular operation was unusual for sturmtruppen, as Central Command had received orders from the Reichsmarshall himself, the second-in-command to Der Rote Schädel.
Shultz rubbed his eyes with a black gloved hand and bit into a hard cracker from his ration box. Not only had they landed in Mandarin territory without permission, but they'd assembled listening posts and dead drops for future operations...and then they'd crossed the northern border of the Sinister Empire. They'd upset the sovereignty of two of the most meglomaniacal leaders on Earth. Their mission already had top security clearance, but its importance was solidified by the fact that their capture risked total war between the Eternal Reich and its Asian counterparts.
He couldn't wait to get back to the Reich. Crawling around for days on end in a Ghillie suit and then cramping 5 large Deutsches-stock men into a small ruin while Sinister troops tramped about did little to change Shultz's negative opinion of the former Korean peninsula.
Now wasn't the time to think such thoughts, though.
"Ullrich, break position and load your depleted uranium rounds. I count 8, maybe 9 tangos and a few are superhuman. Men of the Reich, we move now."
Incheon Airfield, Sinister Empire
The flight had gone remarkably smooth, considering the fact that the Bureau and the Sinister Empire were far from amiable terms.
Nonetheless, Curtiss hated turbulence...and there'd been more than enough of that on the flight.
Combating a headache and fighting back the urge to advantage of the Bureau's extensive list of on-board alcoholic beverages, the agent's view on the world's condition had become increasingly negative with each passing hour that the differing time-zones changed. He still had his job to do.
The passenger door slid open, temporarily blinding Curtiss with the bright sun of a surprisingly clear day in Incheon. It certainly wasn't like that the last time he had to land in the city...then again, he had been more undercover then in an attempt to build his list of informants and contacts within Sinister's high court.
The airfield itself never failed to shock Curtiss. The field was perfectly flat with absolutely straight lines of bright green grass lining the cleaned concrete. The agrarian complex of an age long past had been revived and it always brought back his early memories of reading Jane Austen novels.
That was long ago for Curtis and in a far more embarrassing period of time.
At the bottom of the stairway stood a well-dressed, middle-aged man with a slightly portly figure and a deepening red complexion that suggested his drinking habits had far from died off. McDowell was an old colleague, though how he managed to remain within Sinister's service for so long a time remained a mystery for Curtis.
A smile exploded onto the Sinister Minister's face.
"Teddy, I'd not thought they'd send you here."
Returning the smile with a nod, Curtis replied, "Hmm, it's not as if my jurisdiction ends with the East Coast, McDowell. This is my territory."
The Minister's smile twitched slightly, inevitably taking insult with Curtis' poke, however small, at the Empire's power. The smile recovered quickly, though, and McDowell offered a soft hand.
"I see nothing has changed, Teddy."
Giving the hand a firm shake, Curtis, at last, returned the smile. Catching McDowell's eye, Curtis maintained the gaze for what seemed to be an awkward 3 seconds (they seemed much longer). It was as if Curtis wasn't absolutely sure McDowell was correct but failed to acknowledge it himself. Such doubts surfaced themselves in his mind far more frequently now. It was disconcerting to say the least.
Breaking the trance, McDowell produced a manila envelope from a small leather briefcase.
"By the way, you may wish to examine these. Whatever the Bureau sent you here for, I'm sure this is related to it. Consider it an act of goodwill from His Majesty."
Tilting an eyebrow, Curtis accepted the envelope. He didn't like it when 'His Majesty' came into the conversation. Sinister's appearance was that of a benevolent ruler, but Curtis knew this world well enough to know that such men always hold a deeper agenda.
Especially when they allow you, a possibly hostile force, on their territory.
"The Bureau appreciates His Majesty's gift. I'm sure it will be of great use."
Stealing himself away from the airfield, Curtis began reading the report. With any luck, finding Mia Ko may be one of the easier jobs the Bureau had ever had Curtis assigned to.
And it worried him.
North Eastern Amerika
"I'm a bit confused. Maybe you can answer a question? How are you alive? I heard that one of the surviving X-men killed you a while back. What brought about your resurrection?"
That name should never have been alluded to.
Johann Schmidt knew the risks. A pity he let himself grow weak in victory.
"You ask too many questions, Amerikan!"
The Red Skull felt no need to divulge such origins to his enemies. Better to maintain the image that Der Rote Schädel never died, never felt such humiliating defeat at the hands of a decrepit Old Man. There was no need to reveal Docter Zola's survival into the far future and how he had prepared the ascension of the Master Race by safeguarding Johann Schmidt's dream within the DNA of a true Aryan.
There was no need to divulge to the Amerikan that soon, the Eternal Reich, the Masters of the Earth, would soon break all bonds of peace with the world and begin the Grand Conquest...the Final Campaign to purify the Earth of iniquity and at last see the true Man Gods return to the Throne. Valhalla will tremble with the voices of the Victors, Asgard will be reborn in the shape of the Ubermensch.
Rubbing his chest from the blows delivered, the Red Skull withdrew an adamantium blade from its sheath within his black leather jacket.
"All will be revealed in time. Time, which these Untermensch do not have."
With his other hand, the Skull waved to the Kommandant to resume the liquidation of the selected civilians.
"Herr Mystery, I hope you realize that now may be the time to take our leave."
He gestured with the blade to Mysterio, motioning to the black helicopters which had brought them to this remote location.