Second Wave

((A hybrid JP/solo post by Sam (Paladin_IPG) featuring Niko (Blitzen) ))

Sam pulled his bike onto the sidewalk to chain it up. Niko was busy smiling at the girl who usually walked her bike down Bleecker Street, but her eyes were elsewhere today.

“Nice bike.” She said, glancing down to Sam.

Sam looked up and smiled back, “Lovely outfit.” Niko shot the son of the First Avenger a look, but before Sam could stand back up, his phone went off in his bag.

-Incoming call - Mom-

Sam looked at Niko, “Hey, we should take this call inside.” Niko balked at the Sanctum, but managed to get them inside and peered over Sam’s shoulder to see who was calling.

“It’s your mom,” he smirked, then blinked back to the room with a bowl full of cereal. Sam looked at him and took the spoon from the bowl, “Yes it is. Now pay attention; this might--well she’s calling so, it IS important. So.” He answered the call and hit ‘speakerphone’ before responding.

“Hey Mom, good morning. I’m glad you called, I was going to give you--”

“Sam, am I on speaker phone?” Sharon asked. It was very apparent she was annoyed. It was still early in the day so it could have been any number of causes that has her in a mood.

“Yes, I’m sorry. I’m here with Niko, I thought it would be easier to just talk to both of us.” Sam tried sounding as nonchalant as possible.

“Oh, well in THAT case; would the BOTH of you like to explain to me where you’ve been today?” There was a brief silence, Sam looked over at Niko and couldn’t think of anything to say. Niko shook his head emphatically ‘no.’ He finally arrived at, “What do you mean ‘where have you been’? It’s not even noon, Mom.”

“I’ve been with Sam.” Niko offered helpfully, tilting the cereal bowl to drink some of the sugary milk.

“And yet, despite how much of the day we still have left, it seems you two have already found trouble to get into!” Sharon raised her voice. Niko stopped chewing and curled his lip. Sam was desperate to find something to tell her. “What were you even doing in Queens?! You know what? I don’t want to know right now. You get your butt to my office within the hour, do you hear me, Samuel James?”

“Yes ma’am.” Sam hung his head.

“And you, Mr. Maximoff, I think it’s time you made yourself useful. As much as it pains me to do this, I’m short on time and I need Sam right now, so you’ll have to do. I’m sending Sam an email with some info on it, you’ll need to copy it. There’s another eEnhanced in town and one of you needs to talk to them before someone else out there does.” There was another brief moment of pause. “I’ll take your silence as a ‘yes ma’am’. Sam, I’ll see you soon.” -click-

Niko waited until the call was over to take his spoon back from Sam. “First and middle name, that’s bad. I don’t get it -- you are in trouble for helping?”

Sam put his phone away and pulled out his laptop from his bag, handing it to Niko. “No, but I’m sure I’m in trouble for risking my life with a door or something. Look, I’m just gonna leave now and take a cab. There’s no password, just open up my email and see what she sent. I have to go, I’ll catch up with you tonight.” Sam collected the rest of his things and stepped out onto the front stoop, his arm up to hail a cab.

Niko looked at the laptop with the same disdain as the files, but opened it anyway as he took another spoonful of Lucky Charms, Theo’s favorite since childhood as if the “magic marshmallows” were somehow truly magical. The opening screen had the same photo Niko had seen on Sam’s desk; Steve, Sharon, and a young Sam Rogers. Opening the first email on the list, Niko’s eyebrows raised and he quickly dialed his cousin.

“Miskja Brat? How would you like to come with me to meet the son of Thor?”

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The cab ride was pretty quiet, save for the occasional car horn or yelling pedestrian. Sam asked the driver to keep the radio off. He needed some quiet time to process the last few days and to prepare himself for another possible scolding from his mother. He kept thinking about what Niko asked him, ‘we are in trouble for helping?’. He was doing his best to give his mom the benefit of the doubt, but she really did seem angry with them. And why? All they did was save people and stop a robbery, . That was the very thingreason he stood up to his mother,; to go out and do these things. Maybe she wasn’t as supportive as Sam thought.

Once Sam stepped out the elevator, he headed straight toward his mother’s office. Just as his last visit, half of the office floor stopped mid work and looked at him. He stood outside the door a moment to take a breath and try to listen for anything on the other side of the door. After a minute, he quietly knocked and was told to come in. He closed the door behind him and sat down in the chair opposite Sharon. She was reading over another file, though he couldn’t tell what was on it. She closed the file, set it down and rubbed her forehead.

“Samuel James Rogers. Did you use a DOOR to save yourself?!” There was a tear in her eye. She stood up and walked around the table. Sam wasn’t sure if she was going to hit him or hug him. But she embraced him tight and let a few more tears flow. “I’m so proud of you Sam, but that was so dangerous, you could have gotten hurt!”

Sam was taken by surprise, “Hey hey, mom, it’s okay. I’m safe, the guards are safe and nothing was taken. Also, I kind of had a feeling that THAT was what you’re upset about.”

Sharon straightened herself and returned to her seat. ”I’m so sorry for being so rude earlier. There’s a lot going on here and . . . well, that’s not important right now. What IS important, are these.” She slid another stack of folders across the table. Sam opened them and started to skim through the files.

“Since we last spoke a few days ago, we’ve gotten more hits on other eEnhanced individuals and persons of interest that are popping up in the area. We’re doing our best to stay on top of them, but even we can’t be everywhere at once. Hence why I sent your friend off to take care of that errand.”

“So then how did you find out about Queens so fast?” Sam asked, puzzled.

“Because half of the crowd was there filming on their phones, Sam! The van that hit you had a damn dash cam! Your face is going to be on the next round of broadcasts.”

“Oh. Right.” Sam took a second to ponder that. He acted so fast, he didn’t realize that it would end up being his debut.

“Yes, Sam. Oh.” She stared at him. “I’d say that we need to get ahead of this, but frankly, this was only a matter of time. Once you decided to run off with them, this was bound to happen sooner or later. Still . . . that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a great thing you did. I think it’s going to go a long way to helping your image.” Sharon reached into her bag and pulled out another folder and passed it to Sam. “Now if your team is really going to do this, then you’re going to need to a place to train and coordinate.”

He opened the folder and his eyes lit up.

“Is this the-” He began before Sharon cut him off.

“The Avengers facility in Sainsbury,; an hour upstate. It took a LOT of favors, but I managed to get a sizeable amount of intel on the property. Apparently after the Exodus, Stark Industries purchased the land itself, but didn’t touch the building. So before the S.H.I.E.L.D. personnel abandoned the site, we moved as much of the old team’s equipment and vehicles there as we could and then superimposed our own security system on top of the building’s itself. There are still a lot of items left in Avengers Tower, but there were priority items that we felt it best to to keep out of S.I.’s hands. Which, as it turns out, is quite fortunate for you because--”

Sam tore through the pages of the document as she spoke. There were photos of the building and transportation vehicles, blueprints of the facility, security schematics and all manner of information about the amenities in the building. Near the last page, his jaw dropped. An itinerary of a large portion of the items stored inside. Sharon recognized the look on his face and smiled.

“Your father's gear was stored there. Your confrontation this morning got me thinking that . . . well, with everything that's happening, the things that are about to come to light; people might just need a little . . . old-fashioned. A symbol, something to make them feel safe. Your father used to be that symbol. And I think you could be too.”

Sam’s heart swelled. His own mother was asking him to take up his father’s mantle. And what’s more, she was showing him the way. He finally looked up after a few moments, “So how do we get in?”

Sharon stood up, walked around the desk and handed him a flash drive. “With this. The security system we overlaid on top of the existing network is on a 72 hour encryption reset and the last reset was at two hours ago. You’ll need to insert the most recent 6 step decryption key to shut it off. Unfortunately, that’s the easy part. Stark and Banner designed the security system of the building, so getting past that is going to be your biggest problem. But if you can get in, then you all can grab what you need.”

Sam’s smile slowly faded from his face as he considered the pile of information dropped in front of him. He looked up at his mother with stern intent. “Mom . . . did S.H.I.E.L.D. actually okay all of this? Are you even allowed to tell me all of this?”

Sharon sat in the empty chair next to him and leaned in, “They don’t know that I’m slipping you all of this. They believe that my cell is strictly doing damage and image control here in the city. But I’m worried that, with today’s happenings, they’ll get wise. Which is why you need to act quickly. You have to get up there before they catch wind and decide to stop you.”

“And what happens when they find out you’ve been helping us?” Sam asked, concerned.

“Hey, don’t worry about me, I can handle myself. It’s you I’m worried about.” Sharon smiled.

Sam stood up and clenched his fist, “We’ll protect you, I won’t let anything happen to you.”

Sharon stood and held his hands, “I love you, Sam. You have grown up so much. But you have other people to look out for now. They’re disorganized and scattered. They need a leader and you have to show them the way.”

Sam chuckled, “Mom, they aren’t as disorganized as you may think and they don’t need a ‘leader’. And it certainly wouldn’t be me, even if they decided they needed one. We simply just have to . . . work together. Everything else will fall into place after that.”

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