"No!" Edward Buckman shouted and flipped over the imported Italian table in his office as he saw the news of Norman Osborn's death for the first time.
He dug his hands into his inner pockets and brought out a small phone and dialed a number while he waited for the other side to pick up the call with bated breaths.
The call was picked up after a few rings and silence flowed in between the lines for a few seconds before a fluent and rich voice came through.
"Edward, I wonder what's so important that you had to call me before 9am." Though the words sounded polite, Edward Buckman could hear the unveiled sarcasm and mockery that was laced in every punctuated word.
He snarled into the call, obviously not in the mood for light banter. "Keep your pity to yourself, Shaw. I need your help." The words came out through gritted teeth but he knew that he had to do this.
"Why, of course. What can I do to help?"
Though the both of them could be said to be on friendly terms, the nature of their business left much to be desired when it came to interpersonal relationships.
"Norman was to accept the invitation to the inner circle on the event that he was successful in his research and yet…yet I see he not only perfected it but got drunk on power and decided to dress up as a Halloween monster and kill people in droves."
"Yes, yes. Quite an astonishing reveal if I do say so myself, but I fail to see where you are going with this." Shaw said over the phone though he knew where Edward Buckman was going with this, something the latter knew too but he knew Shaw just wanted to hear him say it.
And he did.
"I was a major backer of Norman's research on the super soldier serum and since he perfected it, I want everything he has on it." He then said his request.
The reason he called Shaw out of everyone in the circle was that Shaw was the most reliable of everyone he knew. The man had a talent for getting what he wanted done in the most efficient way possible.
But nothing was without a price. "I'll see what I can do, and in return, how about you fill me in on this Project: Armageddon, huh? I hear it's a game breaker." And this was exactly the reason why asking Sebastian Shaw for any kind of favor was a wrong move.
He was like a devil; privy to your deepest secrets and all he needs to do is wait for you to make a slipup for him to swerve down and take a bite.
Taking a deep breath in order not to lose his emotions again in earshot of Shaw, Buckman made another request to tally up Shaw's payment. "I see. If you can, help me find out who wrecked Ross' base and my research facility."
He said nothing and cut the call and then deposited his wealthy behind atop a couch. His mind couldn't help but go back to a call he received a few days ago. Maybe he was up to something, who knew?
[Training Ground D6, Avengers Compound]
Banner, Sarah and Vision were overseeing the training of the new intakes with Banner and Sarah compiling data on the mutate additions while Vision was focused on the older members going through a workout session.
"Are you sure he'll be able to phase?" Banner asked with doubt as he saw Pietro vibrating his hand and trying to get it to move through a 6 inch thick block.
Without turning to face neither Banner nor Pietro's failed attempts, Vision gave his reply. "While speed is the key, it only accounts for 37% of the process."
Banner snorted at that as he pulled up Pietro's speed data. "Your math is not adding up."
"True," Vision nodded. "But we have proof of a lot of technology vibrating at speeds they can't move at. His cells just need to get the reverberation momentum and from then on it'll be easy."
Pietro was still yet to vibrate through any since the first day Vision brought it up but the boy never stopped trying.
On the other hand, Wanda was going at it with the grey spiked hulking form of Davis who was trying his very best to pulverize the buxom beauty into a fine meat paste but Wanda was doing her best to avoid any close contact with him. A smart decision on her part.
On the other side of the training ground was Steve and Natasha sparring against each other while having wistful smiles on their faces as their side eye registered all the impressive display of the rest of the team.
"Looking at it like this really does drive it all home, right?" Natasha said with a smile before abruptly driving a kick to Steve's ankles as he tried to answer.
Steve dodged the kick by lifting his leg up without a change in expression as it was something he completely expected from Natasha.
Steve only shook his head and replied. "It's better this way. The world got a lot stranger since Loki ripped open a hole in the sky. Just being 'special' isn't going to cut it anymore. And besides," He leisurely blocked her kick with both his arms locked together and grabbed it as she tried taking it back and used his vastly superior strength to flip her over his shoulders to the ground.
"We need all the help we can get." He said before lending her a hand to raise her up which ended up being a bad idea as Natasha used that opportunity to drag him down and wrap her legs around his head and pulled his hands in a submission hold which Steve quickly succumbed to as he tapped her leg for release.
Steve sighed exasperatedly as he saw smile on Natasha's face as she basically stole his win away from him.
He looked at the last session of the training hall which featured Sam Wilson teaching Laura the basics of close quarters combat.
"No, no, no! No claws!" Sam chided the young girl who looked annoyingly frustrated as she was unable to land a good hit on him.
The only rules Vision had laid down for their fight was that she wouldn't use her claws; a simple handicap which only turned out a hundred times worse than she had expected.
She took a deep breath in and rushed at Sam again only to have the hand she threw slapped away but this time she used the momentum caused by her loss of balance and jumped with a spin and tried driving her legs from a high vantage point to the side of his head which the veteran special agent ducked under cleanly.
"A nice follow-up but it's still easily interrupted. Remember, no hit is a strike until it connects." Sam advised Laura who was listening with rapt attention and utmost seriousness.
Her admittance into the team was still in probation as none of the older members were comfortable allowing a child into their battle, regardless of his or her battle advantage to the team. Neither Steve nor Natasha were going to allow it had it not been the girl herself saying she wanted this.
"I want to kill all the bad guys." Those were her words of defense after being asked why she wanted to fight.
Steve had hesitated but he finally relented on the matter when Vision had said he'll look after the girl and supervise her training.
"Yes, that's it!" Sam said in an approving smile as he saw the effort and visible changes the girl was making as time went on. "Put more force into your strike and since you have a small stature, you'll need to know how to leverage your height to anybody you're fighting."
Vision watched as the hall quickly erupted in a cacophony of booms and shouts as everyone got invested in what they were doing.
He rarely had anything to do since most of his abilities could be learned by him just running calculations and speculations about their applications.
Speaking of testing out abilities, he had some, two in fact, that needed field testing.
Quantum-shifting and Form-shift.
The first appeared after he had incorporated the Pym Particles into his own body and had also manipulated a part of his flesh to turn into a sac that produces the required components of said particles in case he ever wanted it out of his body.
The other had appeared after he had taken the Hulk serum and it was something he's never had the chance to check out once.
Even though he had the Quantum-shifting, he had never tried shrinking down to subatomic since he was yet to devise a way to safely navigate through the Quantum realm and wouldn't want to risk being stuck there for decades because of a slight miscalculation.
One thing he had realized after his little incident was that after he had offed Norman Osborn, a lot of notable characters started making subtle appearances and a few handful of them were of the notorious ilk but Vision already had a few plans for some and was just waiting for his turn to make some splashes.
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