Stage Right: Pink Slip
October 21, 2016
“How much was lost?”
“The team followed protocol, but there was no way they could have anticipated-”
“How much.” Carson repeated slowly, “was lost?”
“Ten kilos. The rest was relocated before the fire.”
Carson stared at the HYDRA lackey before him, his shined boots a contrast to the antique Kashan rug, but his mind was elsewhere. Ten kilos was not insignificant. The preliminary distribution of Sunday was exceeding expectations and demand was in excess of current supply. He had directed the labs to increase production, but that still left an unmet need. Those ten kilos represented $423,000. It wasn’t insurmountable, but it wasn’t something he could overlook either. In the aftermath of the dissolution of SHIELD, he needed every dollar of income he could get. Taking over the world was expensive business.
“We lost three soldiers. Enhanced. Local law enforcement hasn’t found anything, but the scene will be turned over today or tomorrow and then we can begin our own search for the bodies.”
It was disappointing, the loss. Certainly the value of three loyal fighters who had been exposed to the stone was worth more than a mere $400 thousand. However, their utility was near an end. Another month or so was all he had expected from the units assigned to Los Angeles. Hopefully their bodies could be retrieved and studied for additional information on the progression on their enhancement. The lackey was still talking.
“There were some initial claims that Captain America was spotted in the area, which would explain why our assets destroyed the stockpile site ahead of schedule and were unable to move all of the product, but we haven’t seen any proof. No reliable witnesses have come forward to local law enforcement and nothing has shown up on line. But we are still looking.”
Carson doubted they would find anything. The Sokovia Accords had decimated the Avengers. Even with Stark’s money and resources behind them, what was left of the legally recognized heroes was insignificant. And the good Captain and his friends were struggling to even keep their heads above water, flitting from country to country looking for a haven. No reports of their pathetic actions to save civilians had surfaced in several months, so it wouldn’t surprise Carson if they had given up. At least for the time being.
Ant-man. Carson sneered to himself. He hoped Hank Pym would know when his protege had been crushed. He hoped Hank would recognize the day that all his hopes, his arrogance were killed.
“Is that all?”
The lackey nodded and left, and Carson glanced at his computer. He still needed to address the longevity issue related to exposure to the stone. HYDRA, for all their long, long existence, had delved into areas of research that mainstream science did not dream of. One project in particular might meet Carson’s needs for a more resilient test subject. It would be a long-term solution, but if Dr. Sodhi could make Project Scion a success, it would mean the ultimate ion of HYDRA over all of their enemies. Carson sent a message to schedule a meeting.
“Sir?” His next appointment stood just inside the office, waiting for his nod before closing the door and stepping onto the carpet. “We’ve received a distress call from the Imphal facility. They’ve had a breech. The primary subject has escaped.”
Carson nodded and pressed a button on his desk. His assistant appeared almost instantly.
“Remove this gentleman. Permanently.” The quiet pop of a silenced weapon was quicker than the messenger could object. He crumpled to the floor, a pool of blood spreading below him. “Get me Threwe on the line. Immediately. And I want all the reports on Project Scion as soon as you can.”
“Of course, sir.” His assistant calmly pulled out her cell phone and requested a removal team, then stepped out to see to her other duties.
The alien was gone. But they still had the stone. And potential for better subjects to be enhanced by its power. Carson stared thoughtfully at the corpse.
He was going to need a new rug.