"I'm here to rescue you."
The speaker smelled like a Jäger, so Maxim knew it was another hallucination. Pity. A rescue would be nice. Still, it was better than the usual one where the Castle had gone up in a massive explosion, taking out the fake Heterodyne, Castle Wolfenbach, and all the Baron's Jägers, just as sharp as the day it had happened. Or the ones after that, where - no. If whichever madboy had captured him had to invent a drug that could keep a Jäger under - more or less - why couldn't it give him pretty girls instead of bad memories?
Or rescues. He wasn't going to argue with that. "Dat'z nize," he said. "Even if hyu izn't a pretty gurl."
"No," the rescuer said, frowning. "I'm Captain Rogers. You've been drugged, which… is probably a good thing, considering." The look Rogers gave him had him wondering what could be wrong. He staggered to his feet and looked himself over. Everything seemed fine - arms, legs, hat - he patted his head to be sure. No hat.
"Def'nit'ly a bad plan," Maxim muttered, though he couldn't even remember if there'd been a plan. Or much of anything, for that matter. "Mebbe your plan iz better?" he asked Rogers. Who he was beginning to believe was real, even if he did still smell like a Jäger.
"Yes," Rogers said, still looking at him like he was a bomb with a lit fuse. "Rescue a friend of mine. I could use your help, if you're willing."
Maxim shrugged. "Sure. Hy need to find de guy vot took my hat."
"Who's your purple friend?" he asked Rogers.
"Ah…" Rogers said with a shushing motion. "Found him chained up in a cell." He added quietly, but not so low that Maxim couldn't hear him, "One of the failed experiments, apparently."
"Hey," Maxim protested, "Hy iz Jägerkin, not a failed eks-eks- vot hyu said."
"He's not," Tony said, looking at him oddly. "They haven't gotten that far."
"But the way you fought," Rogers said, obviously baffled. "Even drugged, you kept up with me. And you're, well-"
Maxim looked at his arms - "Purple, yez" - everything was good there. Looked at Rogers. Blinked. "Vait, hyu tink I vaz - but hyu iz -"
Tony smirked. "Meet the first - and only - successful product of the Super Soldier serum," he said, with a sweeping gesture that missed out on the full dramatic impact by the clink of chains holding him to the wall. "Often imitated, never duplicated, though our esteemed hosts seem to think I can do what they can't. Given that my father worked on the original."
Maxim shook his head, trying to clear the cobwebs. Rogers smelled like a Jäger, fought like a Jäger, and Tony smelled like - "Ov kourse," Maxim said, slapping himself in the face. "Hy iz schtill on de goot drugz. A Jäger askin' me to rescue a Heterodyne ken't be real." Or maybe a new kind of torture… "Hyu tink dis vill break me?" he shouted at the ceiling. "Hyu tink Hy dun' know how Hy failed? Hyu tink-"
"You're a Jäger?" Tony asked, cutting off a really good and long-overdue rant. "Shouldn't you have a hat?"
Torture, definitely. "Yez, but-"
"The Heterodyne shock troops?" Rogers asked. "We heard rumors that HYDRA was hunting them during the war."
"Looks like they found one," Tony said, as he walked around Maxim curiously, and stopped - much too close - once they were face to face. He really did smell good. "You really were constructs? I thought that was a myth. But of course, the stories, the serum - it has to be-" Tony's voice started to take on the harmonics of the madness place.
"Tony!" Rogers snapped, with a pointed glance at the ceiling. "Not here." He turned to Maxim. "Whatever you are - whatever you think - we need to get out of here. Now."
"Right," Maxim said, impressed. There weren't many who could stop a Heterodyne when they started getting sparky like that - or would be crazy enough to even try.
"Hyu'd tink madboyz vo iz tryink to make Jägers vould heff guards vorth fightink." Maxim grumbled. "Hy vouldn' take der hats even if dey had hats."
They didn't even have proper death rays, just some sort of slug gun that was barely an annoyance to a Jäger. It would be more than an annoyance to Tony and his device, but Rogers was keeping them protected with a shield - not what Maxim would've though a proper Jäger weapon, but he'd changed his tune when Rogers had bounced it off an impossible angle to take out some of the minions who had them pinned down.
Still, it was the most fun Maxim had had in years. "Hey," he said to Rogers as a thought hit him, "dis iz de first time hyu getz to fight vit another Jäger, yah?"
Rogers brought the shield up to deflect another round from the guns, bouncing the slugs back close enough to their attackers to make them duck. Impressive. "You're the only Jäger I've ever met, so yes. Though I'm not so sure why you think I'm one."
Maxim looked around reflexively, but Tony had knocked out the surveillance devices first thing and nobody was close enough to hear. He lowered his voice anyway. "Tony sez hyu vas a leedle guy before hyu take de Jägerbräu, yah? It hurtz like hell, enuff to drive hyu mad, but iz a goot hurt becuz hyu ken feel it takink everyting dat makes hyu vorthy ov bein' a Jäger und mekkink it better." Rogers searched his face and then nodded sharply. Nobody who wasn't a Jäger could ever understand, not even the Heterodynes who'd created it.
"Und ven hyu iz done hyu iz in de madness place. Hyu tinks hyu ken take on ennyone, und if hyu'z lucky dere's someone to fight." He smiled at a fond memory; new Jägers were notorious for starting bar fights - not the usual friendly one-on-one free for all, but one-on-everyone. Good times.
"Close enough," Rogers said, staring off at some distant memory of his own that didn't seem quite as good. "Wouldn't call it lucky, exactly."
Maxim nodded. "So hokay, hyu dun' got all de fun goodies-" he stretched out his hand to admire - and show off - his claws - "but it heppen like dat sometimez. Und ve all getz de better holfactory abilities." He nodded at Tony. "Heterodynes schmell goot, yez?"
"Oh," Rogers said, looking almost embarrassed. "Is that what- never mind."
Maxim stared for a moment, then gave him a friendly punch in the arm that would've laid any non-Jäger flat. "Oh ho, hyu haz a crush on our Heterodyne!" He leaned in conspiratorially. "Dun' vorry, hyu izn't the first, und sometimez-"
"Stand back, it's coming through!" Tony shouted, much to Rogers' obvious relief.
Something long, sleek, and shiny burst through the wall, which then collapsed behind it. Maxim took one look and scowled, less than impressed. Shouldn't bombs be aimed at the enemy? "Hokay, hyu made a bomb… summoning… devize…" He trailed off as the "bomb" unfolded itself into the most amazing body armor he'd ever seen, flowing into place around Tony's body like controlled chaos. It should have made him as awkward as a Spark's first clank, but he moved like it was a part of him. And - Maxim blinked as Tony snapped off a shot at an incautious minion peering around the rubble - were those death rays in the gauntlets?
Awestruck, Maxim dropped to one knee without thinking. "Hyu really iz a Heterodyne."
Tony flipped up his visor and grinned down at him. "Even better. I'm Tony-fucking-Stark." He pulled Maxim to his feet smoothly. Maxim was impressed again - anyone could make a suit that could bounce even a Jäger hard enough to make a dent, but control like that took talent. "I don't know about you, but I'm ready to blow this joint."
Rogers moved smoothly into position beside him, shield ready; they'd obviously done this countless times before. It reminded him of Barry and Bill, and of Oggie and Dimo. Maxim bared his fangs in a grin that generations of smarter minions had learned to run away from fast. "Ho yezzz."