September 23rd, 7 PM, New York City.
Three men and two women were sitting on a round table facing each other. Their faces were hidden under the shadow's shade, showing only their silhouette for all to see. Half of the twelve seats were currently empty, without their owner, which was acceptable because their base of operation was not in the U.S.A.
(A/N: veiled by the shadows, didn't mean literally veiled by the shadow. It just means that the character wouldn't be shown until their identity was revealed.)
They were waiting for one man, the one who gathers all of them tonight. They clearly weren't welcoming toward each other, as their relationship was only limited to business. Outside of that, they were just a bunch of cutthroat and infamous criminals, hungry to stab each other in the back. It could have been evaded if not for almost half of the members were based in the U.S.A.
Some would call them the true leaders of the underground world, but for most, they were just called the High Table. The High Table itself consisted of 12 members, representing their own family or criminal syndicate. Triad, Yakuza, Cartels, Sicilian Mafia, you name it. They also have dozens of police forces, politicians, and bureaucrats worldwide under their thumbs, making them virtually above the laws.
A moment later, they felt the presence of someone behind the entrance. A stocky man in a white tuxedo came in with a cane in his right hand. It doesn't mean that he was limp or anything. It was just part of his "fashion". Well, torturing his victim with a cane was kinda fashionable if he may say so.
"You're late." commented a woman in a glittering red dress with a white fur collar muffler.
"Apologies, ladies, and gentlemen, especially to you, Lady Gianna. I'm really sorry for what happened to your father. It broke my heart." answered the stocky man. He continued, "but first, let's have a toast, to commemorate Miss Gianna's first day in the High Table."
He snapped his finger, a sign for the waiter to bring in the meal and wines. They were currently inside a restaurant, fully-booked by the stocky man for tonight.
After each of them held a glass of wine, the stocky man stood and held the glass of wine up and said, "For Gianna Antonio. I, Wilson Fisk, welcome you to the High Table. Cheers"
""Cheers."" responded the rest of the attendants.
Wilson Fisk aka Kingpin gained one of the Table's seats with brute force by single-handedly eliminating a whole family of an infamous cartel, proving his worth among the group. His crime syndicate was also infamous for its notoriety among their peers, especially in New York City. The whole city could have been in worse shape if not for the alliance between Wilson Fisk and Gianna's father.
"What's the occasion, Wilson dear? It's rare to see you inviting us as your guest, even more hosting Gianna's welcoming party. It wasn't the only reason you have to gather us tonight, isn't it?" ask an old lady wearing a Chinese dress.
"Madame Gao, you are just as sharp as ever. No offense, but it seems, age didn't affect you at all." replied, Wilson Fisk. He knew her for a long time ago, and in his eyes, the Lady was always old throughout her lifetime. Well, she was around 400 years old. What would you expect?
"I want to use this occasion, to inform you about a message I received a few hours ago." He said while lowering his bulging body to sit once again. He added, "you might have known about it. The clue is Raccoon City."
"The one on the News? What about it?" asked one of the men that was veiled by the shadow. By now the News already traveled across the country, but it was still rumored as just another riot over citizen's dissatisfaction with the local authorities, saying that they didn't take the water supply contamination problem seriously.
"Someone just sold me an information about what was truly transpiring in the city," answered Wilson Fisk, a huge smile creeping its way toward his cheek.
"What did the child do this time?" asked Madame Gao. She knew a bit about the previous event that also happened in Raccoon City's vicinity.
"No, it's not Albert Wesker this time, but his friend, William Birkin," he answered. You might wonder, how did they know about Albert Wesker? Well, unlike in the game, Albert Wesker didn't work together with the government or other rival companies of Umbrella.
Working with the High Table, who presides the Continental, was much more profitable than them. That was why Albert Wesker planned to sell Umbrella's B.O.W. project to them in exchange for a seat in the High Table.
It must be noted that the High Table holds the most power in the underground world. Their only rival was the Simmons family, who led an organization that simply called The Family who secretly controlled the government behind the scene. Not just in the U.S.A. but around the world.
Wilson Fisk continued, "let me show you what I meant by that."
With another snap of his finger, a row of waiters came in, pushing a trolley with a large screen on it carefully. A moment later, the screen turned on showing recordings from the NEST lab while the waiters placed a stack of documents in front of them.
One by one, their expression changed as they getting immersed with the recordings and documents. It might be incomplete, but they know how important this research was and it arose their interest.
"Who gave it to you?" asked one of the veiled man.
"It was one of the Continental Branch in Raccoon City. You must be familiar with the name, Emma Farlene," answered Fisk.
"That woman? She's still alive? What about her partner, the Soul Marionette?" asked the other veiled man.
"Still missing," answered Madame Gao. She herself was also looking for that 'woman'. After witnessing what she did more than 10 years ago, Madame Gao wanted her to join The Hand. Even offering one of the Leadership seats.
"Just like Madame Gao said. The Soul Marionette is still missing to this day," answered Wilson Fisk. Disappointments, regrets, and longing were shown in his eyes.
"Let's leave it at that for now. What do you want us to do with this information?" asked Gianna D'Antonio.
After shaking his head to clear his mind, Wilson Fisk answered, "I'm intending to take all of it for our own benefit."
"What are you going to do with the Simmons? They wouldn't stay still if they knew what we're planning. Besides, they would also send their agents as well." said Gianna again. She learned about the underground worlds through his father when he was still alive. And she also presides over some of his business here in New York City before taking command over the family. So he knew about all of the ongoing events, albeit limited to only the general information.
"The Family was in turmoil this time and wouldn't blatantly send their split force with knives crossing each other's throat. There was a change in leadership a month ago with a new generation taking control. We must take this perfect rare chance to take whatever Umbrella has for granted." answered Wilson Fisk, smirking.
What Wilson Fisk said was actually true. The Family was in turmoil. They were split in opinion on who to take the new mantle of leadership. They couldn't afford to send their main forces to mend the crack Umbrella made this time when their own blood and skin were waging war toward each other. They left the Corporation to fend it off by themselves.
"So? What do you have in mind?" asked Madame Gao.
"I will send my people, but I will also need your help, Madame Gao," answered Fisk.
"I'll permit you, pick whoever you want. If that's all, I'm going to leave for today," said Madame Gao. She stood and left without even hearing the answer from her colleague. Two shadows appeared behind her, accompanying Madame Gao to leave the building. No one knew where the two hid all this time.
The three men and Gianna D'Antonio also left one by one with their own guards, leaving Wilson Fisk alone. His smile suddenly moved down as if he was never smiling before. No one bothers him while he continued chewing his dinner.
The waiter and his men just wait while watching his broad back until he would also leave eventually.
Elsewhere, inside an office of one of the skyscrapers in New York City.
A man in a gray suit sat behind his table accompanied by several men standing in an orderly manner in front of him. On the table was a computer, showing the green picture of the skull and tentacle inside a circle on the monitor. It was the symbol of HYDRA.
The computer was currently connected to an A.I. of the deceased, Doctor Arnim Zola, the lead scientist for HYDRA since before, during, and after World War 2. Doctor Arnim Zola then spoke, "is the information's validity has been confirmed?"
"Yes. I already look into it myself and a report came in confirming Nick Fury's appearance in Raccoon City." answered the grey-suited man.
"Alexander Pierce, you must use everything you have to gain control of the virus. It might be useful to make the Super Soldier Serum even more perfect," said Arnim Zola, he was very excited.
Umbrella was a Corporation where HYDRA put a lot of interest in, but they couldn't do anything because The Family was protecting them. The Family and HYDRA had a long rivalry in taking control of the U.S. Government from behind. HYDRA might have spies and agents infiltrating every Government bodies including NASA, CIA, FBI, or SHIELD, but The Family's influence was much bigger than what they expected, even directly controlling the President.
"I'll see what I can do. Once the virus is in SHIELD's hand, I'll use my authority so thay Nick Fury to hand it over if it's necessary," replied Alexander Pierce. Not only that he was the Secretary of Defense, he was also a member of the World Security Council that keep SHIELD in check. His level of authority was high enough to order anyone in the country except for the President and certain people.
"Do you need any help?" asked, Arnim Zola. Using Alexander's identity might harm keeping HYDRA a secret. Nick Fury was the sharpest man in the world, if they weren't careful, he might sniff them out. Doctor Arnim Zola intended to lend him a bit of his power.
"Do you have anything in mind?" asked Alexander. He also admitted that it was risky to openly ask Nick Fury for the Virus.
"You can use the Winter Soldier for it."
"No. Winter Soldier could only be used for covert operation. If it leaked outside that he existed, it would be a problem." convinced Alexander. The last time Winter Soldier was activated was about 7 years ago, assassinating Howard Stark and his wife, making it looked like as if it was an accident.
"It's okay, we've been using him for a long time and no problem has ever happened. You can send some HYDRA agents and form a team of normal mercenaries. I believe that we're not the only one to have an idea about the Virus." said Arnim Zola.
"Fine. But if it went south, we need to cancel the plan and pull him back." replied, Alexander Pierce.
10 minutes later, the call ended and the computer was shut off. Alexander glanced at his subordinate in front of him. All of them were the most trusted HYDRA agents. If Edward was here, he might have found them familiar as they were the soldiers that once fought against Captain America in the movie.
"You heard it. Now move, and converge with Winter Soldier once he's out of cryogenic state."
""Yes, Sir!"" They saluted and added, "Hail HYDRA."
"Hail HYDRA." replied, Alexander.