It was a rainy night in Prague. Couples were on romantic strolls down silent pathways. Taxi cabs drove slowly by on the cobblestoned streets. Lampposts colored the city in an eerie amber glow that accentuated the foggy evening.
Wanda Maximoff was having a pleasant walk, passing the breathtaking churches whose bells tolled hypnotically at the strike of midnight. She stopped before one such church, gazing upward at its towering steeple. The last time she stood before this very church her brother Pietro had been right beside her. At the time their freedom from HYDRA’s torment had been fresh in their minds and they hadn’t known what to do other than weep silent tears of joy.
Now, seeing this church, his absence struck her like a heavy stone. She sighed before moving on, adjusting the hood covering her head. As she continued her stroll down the sidewalk, her hands thrust in her pockets and white vapor seeping from her mouth, she noticed two individuals walking on the other side of the street nearly half a block ahead of her. At first glance, they looked like a simple pair of lovers enjoying a romantic time together but to Wanda, she knew what people with evil intentions looked like. And then she heard a cacophony of jovial chatter up ahead.
Parked on the street were dozens of perfectly polished black cars with wealthy looking individuals standing outside these vehicles speaking to the valet men and amongst themselves. They were parked before a cobblestoned courtyard lined with beautiful white buildings that were breathtaking to observe. Clearly, an important event was taking place and Wanda noticed the two shady individuals walking straight toward the courtyard, their pace quickening with every step.
Wanda didn’t hesitate. She ran across the street and used her power to propel herself skyward where she landed on top of one of the buildings to get a better look at the situation. She looked at the busiest building and immediately recognized it to be the Sternberg Palace; an acclaimed art museum known for its eclectic and highly valued collection. Outside the Sternberg Palace sat a red carpet lined with security guards.
Wanda watched as the shady man and woman strolled across the courtyard as if oblivious to the event before slipping alongside the museum where they wouldn’t be noticed, grappling to a second-floor window, and sneaking inside within seconds. Wanda nodded to herself. She knew to trust her instincts. She removed her hood, the sprinkling of rain falling upon her face, before waiting thirty seconds and floating down to the same window and following them inside.
A woman ran through the Deputy Task Force headquarter in Berlin, frantically searching for Colonel Rhodes. She found him where she expected him to be; in his office sitting at his desk with a laptop and a bunch of papers before him. A serious expression was on his face.
“Sir, sir, I think we just got a read on Wanda Maximoff,” she said.
His head snapped up, his eyes focusing on her.
“Camera caught her sneaking into a museum in Prague, sir.”
The red android named Vision materialized through the wall, startling the woman.
“Oh,” she said. She blushed. Despite the fact that he was an artificial being he was extremely handsome. “You scared me.”
“When did you see this?” Colonel Rhodes and Vision asked in unison.
“Seconds ago, sir, I mean sirs,” she said.
Colonel Rhodes stood. “I’ll get her.”
Vision stopped him in his tracks. “I should do it. She’s too powerful for you.”
Rhodes looked up at him. “Are you sure?”
Vision nodded. “I’m sure.”
Rhodes dipped his head. “Then go. We don’t have much time.”
Vision’s human clothing morphed into his grey suit and golden cape. “I’ll be back shortly.”
He walked past the woman determinedly, his cape flowing behind him. She watched him leave, her eyes wide with wonder.
“Yeah, it’s always interesting when he’s around,” Rhodes said as he noticed her infatuation.
Her cheeks warmed. “Um, y-yeah.”
“Good job, Private,” he said.
She saluted him before turning to leave.
Rhodes sat back down in his chair and sighed, shaking his head. It had been six months since The Avengers was fractured into two. Six months since his injury. Even though he had signed the Sokovia Accords with every day that passed he felt like he had done the wrong thing. Hunting his friends down didn’t feel right and yet it was for the safety of the world’s civilians. Or was he really helping some elaborate scheme concocted by the leaders of the world to slowly turn the planet into their own chaotic playground?
He sighed again. He had seen Vision’s eyes. He wasn’t going to see Wanda to bring her back to base. He had gone simply to see her. Rhodes knew what someone in love looked like and Vision was sending all of the signals. He didn’t know what to think of Vision’s predicament but the android was definitely experiencing something that Rhodes had no right interfering with.
He suddenly stood, storming out of his office. He didn’t have time giving himself a pity party. He needed a bite to eat, and maybe a call with Tony.
Header Photo Courtesy: Marvel Studios