The HYDRA Research Base is a research compound operated by HYDRA, housing numerous items of varied origins and importance. It was also heavily defended, being equipped with an energy shield powered by the Scepter along with turrets augmented to fire Chitauri energy blasts. It was guarded by a battalion of HYDRA troops equipped with Chitauri cannons, machine guns, tanks, trucks, and jetpacks. The forest around the base was also fortified with watchtowers and bunkers.
Establishment of the HYDRA Research Base
HYDRA established an underground compound in the country of Sokovia while its operatives still posed as loyal S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. While Sokovia was in the middle of a rebellion, HYDRA managed to send its operatives to the country under the guise of being S.H.I.E.L.D. peacekeeping forces. The compound was located in an old fortress on a hill not far from the Sokovian capital Novi Grad.
Human Enhancement Process
Arrival of the Scepter
One of HYDRA's operatives, Mark Basso, recently recruited S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Mark Smith to the HYDRA Research Facility, as Smith managed to obtain the Scepter that Loki used during the Battle of New York for HYDRA. Basso explained how HYDRA had managed to secure a secret base in Sokovia while the current rebellion provided a cover.
Baron Strucker personally welcomed Smith, in order to make sure that his scientist, led by Doctor List, started immediately to study the Scepter. A group of HYDRA scientists immediately harnessed the power of the Scepter and attempted to use it to power the Chitauri Guns left behind in New York City. However, the progress they were making, though remarkable, was not enough to make the advances that Strucker demanded.
Doctor List told Strucker that in order to progress, they would need to perform experiments on living human subjects. Watching the news reports of the rebellions in the streets of Sokovia, Strucker assured List they would have plenty of subjects to choose from.
List approached Pietro and Wanda Maximoff, explaining that given the number of volunteers he had, they would still have to wait for their turn. List admitted he was eager to witness the results of his test, given the fact they were twins, and wondered what kind of abilities the Scepter would unlock in them.
Meanwhile, Mark Smith wondered how they would evade the human trials, and Mark Basso explained to him that once Project Insight had been launched, the whole world would change, and they would not have the need to work underground anymore.
Wanda Maximoff entered the room for the experiment, and approached the Scepter as instructed. As she walked toward it, the Mind Stone inside removed itself from the Scepter and shined a bright light, revealing the Scarlet Witch to Maximoff and embedding her with its powers. Maximoff passed out and was taken to a cell by the scientists conducting the experiments, who watched her and expressed confusion about what happened to her.
Age of Miracles
Baron Strucker and List discussed the public revelation of HYDRA's existence and its infiltration within S.H.I.E.L.D. List asked what would they do now that Nick Fury had revealed everything about them, but Strucker replied that he only revealed the things he knew.
As they continued walking through the facility, Strucker acknowledged that HYDRA and S.H.I.E.L.D. were two sides of a coin that was no longer currency, and Strucker stopped right in front of the Scepter, saying that they got something more worthy than anyone could imagine, even though they have only scratched its surface.
Strucker informed that they would lure Captain America and his allies to other HYDRA facilities in order to keep them away from them, and they would deal with the "volunteers" to their experiments, burying the dead deep so that none could find them.
List asked about the two survivors of their experiments, Pietro and Wanda Maximoff, who were being kept in cells as they struggled with their powers. Strucker acknowledged that sooner or later the Avengers would meet them, as the world was not a world of spies anymore, not even a world of heroes. Strucker ominously announced the arrival of the age of miracles, as there was nothing more horrifying than a miracle.
Not long after the twins learned how to control their powers, the Avengers attacked the base. After a confrontation, the facility was breached and Baron Strucker was confronted by Captain America and was quickly subdued, while Iron Man searched for the Scepter, eventually finding a room full of Chitauri weaponry, armory and equipment, including a dead Leviathan. Stark also noticed advanced robotic work, suspecting that HYDRA was attempting to create artificial intelligence. Noticing the Scepter, he attempted to retrieve it before being bewitched by Wanda Maximoff, leading him to have a vision of his team, dead, and the Chitauri and Leviathans crossing a wormhole to invade Earth. Awakening from his hallucination, Stark managed to secure the Scepter and the Avengers left the base.