SHIELD had been hunting Hydra scientists, convinced they were still trying to replicate Captain America's serum. What they had found, instead of research laboratories, was barracks and cells filled with the various stages of completed experiments.
Dozens of people who had been taken from their old lives and turned into a programmable weapon, dozens more who they had tried and failed with, and then left for dead when their captors had fled.
SHIELD officials did not feel it was safe to keep them all in one place, splitting them into groups of no more than three, and Tony had offered to take Ruby;
She was young and beautiful, just the type to catch Tony's attention. He promised if she came with him, he would find her answers about what was done to her, and her missing memories.
She had also been the most civilized, able to communicate with them in English, and retained some sense of self despite little to no memories, yet she was, as well, the most damaged; scarring, and scans, showed evidence of intense torture and experimentation.
From what little recovery she had made so far, along with files from the facility she was found in, they now knew she had been held for at least ten years, her code name was Sphynx, she was taken when she was about nineteen and extensive injury had been hidden with reconstructive surgery, and the same advanced healing ability Steve.
As an active agent, and benefiting from vastly improved strength, speed, healing properties and reflex times, it seemed Ruby was one of Hydra's greatest successes.
The first piece in a puzzle that didn't fit.
Examinations showed she had been cut open repeatedly, though what the operations purposes were was unclear, she had scarring from knife wounds, plus her lungs were damaged in a way that suggested waterboarding.
Ruby remembered some of the torture; She was beaten, drugged and cut on. She was drowned, and brought back dozens of times in the same day. She was burned and electrocuted.
Then she'd be fixed up, and sent out, almost the very next day, on a mission.
Ruby infiltrated; she remembered drinks with diplomats and international businessmen. She also remembered stealing documents as these men choked to death on their own blood, after she knocked them out and slit their throats. On those nights, if she returned with worth-while intelligence, no one came to her cell to hurt her.
It wasn't really her doing those terrible things, that's what they always told her. She had no choice! No one blamed her for any actions in her past.
Ruby wanted so desperately to believe that.
In the recovery of her memories, Ruby experienced nightmares about a man. She trusted him, opened her arms to him and he would smile as he drew nearer, and then there was only suffering.
Not long after, Steve and Natasha had been on a mission, and encountered Bucky. They had eventually captured him, subdued him and brought him back to Stark Tower to aid his recovery too.
In the depths of her mind, in concealed memories, Ruby knew that face - The face of an angel, who did the devil's work.