Time passed, and things proceeded as normally as they could. The Abomination Brood "rebuilt" Manhattan, creating towering, stony mounds honeycombed with tunnels like massive termite nests. The largest rose high above the others. Across the Hudson river,
SHIELD aided in the reclamation efforts.
The road to acceptance of the Abominations was long and rocky. Some advocated an alpha strike against the creatures, hoping to destroy them in one fell swoop. Others criticized the creatures' impact on the food supply. Still others wanted them to be contained,
seeing them as animals. The remains of Manhattan, now known as "The Nest" was declared a No-Man's-Land, forfeited by the United States. Tony Stark, now head of SHIELD, did his best to placate the censures and speak on the Abominations' behalf.
Maria Hill, however...
She'd been granted paid leave after an extensive debriefing. The SHIELD psychologists had examined her and Elektra, checking for any emotional or mental damage. Both women appeared to have weathered the Wasp's abuses surprisingly well. Elektra had disappeared
from the puiblic eye after they'd released her. Maria, however, had requested a post at Thunderbolts Mountain. It was the farthest place away from the Nest she could stand.
Maria returned to her modest quarters after her shift. Keeping former supervillains in line was hard work, but rewarding. It wasn't enough, though. She glanced at the newspaper and frowned at the front page.
"Another story on those goddamn monsters," she sneered, crumpling the paper up and shoving it in the trash. She slipped into the small laboratory she'd set up and continued to work on her project. The elixir swirled in its beaker, streaks of green weaving
through the golden fluid, never quite mixing.
Maria hated the Abominations. Many saw them as a plague of locusts, but it was personal for her. She'd told the SHIELD psych department exactly what they wanted to hear, but inwardly she roiled with malice. She'd been humiliated and broken, used like a
slave. Worst of all, there was a small part of her that wanted that power, to turn it against the monsters in savage vengeance.
She'd stolen a sample of the transformative elixir, concentrating it, adding to it... until she was sure she had a super-dose of the chemical, resistant to the tranquilizer that the 'heroes' had created. She knew that she had only one shot at making it
work. If it failed, she'd be locked away, sedated like a rabid animal. She corked up the tube and slipped out into the hall, her heart pounding. It was quiet in the compound this evening. Moonstone and Songbird steered clear of each other, Ant-Man (Eric O'Grady)
was in the infirmary and Radioactive Man was in the science lab. Venom was in confinement after he took a chunk out of one of the guards and Osborn was in his office.
Maria made her way to the hangar. The guards let her through, since she was the senior SHIELD agent on base and she strode in. The bay was large enough to hold a football field, so it could certainly encompass a fully- grown Abomination. She reached into
her uniform and pulled out the beaker. She took a deep breath, brought it to her lips and tilted it back.