Disclaimer: I don't own any characters except Naomi, Irbis and several innocent short-lived bystanders; everything else is Marvel's only.

Chapter 0

Prelude

It was a beautiful spring day. The train sped through the city, offering its passengers glimpses of the city parks and their sakura trees, gently caressed by the wind which stole their delicate white flowers. It wasn't the rush hour, but the train still had some passengers, who quietly awaited their stop. Suddenly, there was a flash of light.

Almost immediately, the people sprang to their feet and got as far away as possible from the explosion. Fortunately for them, it hadn't been a true explosion, and as their eyes recovered from the blinding light, they could see a group of people where, just a few seconds ago, there had been no one.

The frightened passengers looked at the foreign men in strange uniforms who surrounded a young black woman. Two men came closer to one end of the train carriage while other two went to the other end of the carriage, the places where the passengers had crammed into one another. A fifth man stayed with the woman as if guarding her.

The whole procedure was fast and effective. The men took advantage of the people's confusion and herded them closer to the woman. The dumbfounded passengers stared at the men who spoke to them in English and who threatened them with guns, which made them stumble over to where the black woman was waiting. Two teenager girls started crying and a scared mother held on to her toddler. A man tried to face them but was quickly taken out, which kept the three teenage boys from actually doing anything other than staying close to the crying girls, in a vain attempt to protect them.

When they were all in position, a new flash of light enveloped them, blinding all but the men in uniform, who wore shades. Just as the light subsided, the train came to a stop and opened its doors, allowing the passengers to board the now empty carriage.

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It was a beautiful spring day. The sun shone brightly on the ebbing waters of the wide Tagus River. The Easter was just a few days away, but already Lisbon's newest train station was revolved by incoming visitants. Some were Portuguese immigrants coming home for the holidays, others were young Spanish people enjoying the Easter holidays for a quick tour of their neighbour, Portugal. And then there were the locals, some of which planned to spend a relaxing day shopping at the Mall next to the station and strolling through the long gardens planted by the Tagus' margin. The cafés had already set tables and chairs outside their establishments, on the paved streets which worked as an extension of the actual buildings. Young people sat sunbathing while waiting for the attendants to bring their orders. Suddenly, there was a flash of light.

People sprang to their feet and waited for their eyes to recover to see what was going on. Some started to walk away at a fast pace, almost jogging; others stayed on, curious to find out what had just happened. As they recovered, they could see five men in strange uniforms and a black young woman amidst them. The ones closer to the incident almost didn't move, too surprised to do anything else besides watching with blank, confused or curious expressions. Then the men started moving.

The whole procedure was fast and effective. They only paid attention to those closer to them, taking advantage of their confusion and grabbing them by an arm just to shove them at the woman's feet. They were mostly young people. Two girls were grabbed and their boyfriends tried to attack the men, but they were immediately taken out, and the girls were thrown over them, on the paved floor. One girl who had been reading dropped her book and made a dash for safety, but she was stopped by a strong arm which picked her up as if she wasn't heavier than a feather. Two more boys, teenagers who had fallen off their skates, were lifted up in the air and brought nearer to the black woman. In the mean time, some men had started calling out to the foreign men while coming in quick strides to help their victims, but it was already too late.

Just as suddenly as the first explosion, the would-be saviours were blinded by the light which enveloped the foreigners and their victims. As the light subsided, the TVs inside the now empty restaurants and cafés started their one o'clock news bulletins with the strange kidnappings that had hit Japan, India and Germany that same morning and which were yet to be explained or claimed by any terrorist group.