War Room - It's getting hot in here!

A luxury black SUV crawled through the driveway outside of the late Avenger’s Compound, slowing to a stop several feet from in front of the building. A few seconds later, the driver’s door swung open, and a man dressed in typical chauffeur's attire stepped a polished shoe to the pavement, before heading towards the back of the opposite side, and opening the door. T’Chantem had agreed to meet his teammates at the Compound, opting out of accepting the offered ride in Erik’s less than ideal arrangement.

Exiting the vehicle at the same time as another man dressed similarly to the first from the front passenger side, the three set to work on collecting T’Chantem’s various bags and suitcases from the trunk. Once inside, T’Chantem quickly led them to the area that had been designated his room, ignoring HELEN’s introduction, and instead unlocking each door with a scan of his hand, allowing them to set down his possessions. Shortly following, the execrable sound of Erik’s pickup reverberated across the lawn, notifying T’Chantem that the others had arrived.
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A loud thud signaled the locking mechanism on the door as HELEN’s voice filled the room: “Briefing room locked and secured. Archive recording is active. All parties please state your name for the record.”

Sam leaned forward in his chair. “Samuel James Rogers.”

Gwen spun in her chair. “Gwen Parker.”

“Invalid,” Helen chimed.

“Gwendolyn Parker?” Gwen asked, sitting up, an eyebrow raised.

For her trouble she only got another, “Invalid.”

“Oh COME ON!” The teen said, throwing her arms up. “Gwendolyn May Parker!? Who’s messing with the ID files!” She complained. Like most teens her age, she wasn’t fond of using her full name. Let’s be honest the only time she heard it was when she was in trouble!

“Nikolai Fucking Maximoff,” The speedster said proudly. He raised both his eyebrows, anticipating the same message Ghost Spider-Girl got, but chuckled when he heard nothing in return. He smugly sat back in his chair and prompted his cousin. But Niko’s idea of waiting a sufficient length of time was not always shared by others.

“Invalid.”

Niko rolled his eyes. Stupid computer. “Nikolai Krzysztof Maximoff”

Theo stood up and raised her left hand in a Boy Scout’s salute while placing her right hand on her chest. “I am Theodosia Maximoff, leader of this team and I solemnly vow-”

“Invalid,” came HELEN’s cold reply.

Theo wiggled her fingers and sighed. “I am Theodosia Vision Maximoff, founder of this team.” Her eyes shifted left and right, waiting for the computer’s denial of her claim.

“Welcome back, Theodosia.” HELEN was actually not entirely unpleasant even if her voice was unfriendly. Hot damn! Theo high-fived her cousin and resumed her seat.

“T’Chantem Munroe,” T’Chantem responded just loud enough for the AI to register his attendance. It came as no surprise to him that the day was already unfolding to be eventful.

The Asgardian, as with many things social, was last to chime in, “Erik Foster?” he asked tentatively.

“Invalid,” once again filled the room.

Erik’s shoulders drooped as he realized what was likely actually under his file name, though the thought didn’t appeal to him at all. He lowered his voice considerably from before. “Seggr Thorson.”

“That’s not going to go away anytime soon.” Niko let him know as he patted the man on the shoulder.

Erik gave a weak smile in return and kept his eyes low. “Thanks.”

Niko rolled his eyes again. It wouldn’t be much fun poking fun at the name if Foster was going to be all broody about it.

HELEN chimed in once Erik spoke. "All parties identified. Briefing commenced."

Sam sat straight up in his chair and took a deep breath as he ran his fingers through his hair.

Theo leaned forward and took a deep breath, preparing to bring this meeting to a start. But what’s this?

"Hello everyone,” Sam began. “I want to start by saying I feel a great swell of pride seeing you all here together. It wasn't that long ago that I didn't even know any of you. And today, here we all are, truly on our way.”

‘Aw, that’s sweet,’ Theo thought to herself. ‘Sam’s about to get emotional and tell us a profound story about how we’ve become friends and he needs us. As team leader, I’m quite proud of him.’

Sam continued, his voice less introspective than Theo had hoped for. “Before any other orders of business are discussed, I must first divulge the core reason we are gathered here today. Know that what I am about to say is very important. And I respectfully ask to be allowed to fully say what needs to be said before you all tell me your thoughts. And when you do respond, your response must be considered and genuine. From here on out, there will be no secrets. No shades of truth. Only us and the faith we place in each other. Understood?"

He looked around the table as the assembled party nodded in agreement; except for Theo. She looked confused, then slighted. From here on out there would be no secrets? Did that mean someone had been keeping secrets up until now? And why was Sam taking the floor like this when she hadn’t even officially opened up the meeting? Her ears were the color of her jacket, but she held her tongue.

Sam took another moment to consider his words. "Each of you has your own reasons, but the majority of you do not currently trust SHIELD. It's not to say I don't understand your reasoning, but I would be remiss if I didn't say now that I simply do not feel the same way as you. I know better than anyone here, what they've done in the past. But I've also seen first hand, how they are trying to better themselves and the world. I believe that with their assistance, we can make a much larger difference to the world than by ourselves alone.”

Theo looked up and down the table at the others. What the hell was happening? She raised her hand, but Sam ignored her.

“I had a meeting with my mother, as well as a follow up with a gentleman by the name of Coulson. Well, not so much a follow up as he showed up at my door. Which is strangely becoming the norm in my life. Bottom line is; SHIELD has asked us to be their last line response team. Not to be thrown wherever they please, mind you, but to be used only when there are no alternatives and the situation is dire…and unfortunately, dire is exactly the situation we all find ourselves in today."

Theo snapped her fingers and cocked her head to the side. Was Sam really pretending to ignore her?! Red tendrils of mist began to drift up from her fingers until Niko nudged her with his elbow. The look on his face said he too was distrustful of where this was going, but he shook his head and covered her hand with his own. She never even noticed the AirPods in his ears.

To Be Continued

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