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Years in the past, Howard Stark recruits Dr. Maria Cerrera, a talented geneticist, to work on his new biotech armor. They begin a relationship and Stark divorces his previous wife, Loni, to marry Maria.
While they work together on their project (a project that's causing Stark Industries stock to plummet), Loni approaches Zebediah Stane about an alliance. With the stock that each of them own in Stark Industries, they could take it over.
While working on the project, Maria gets infected by a designer virus she was working on to stimulate cellular regrowth. She's hospitalized and discovers that she's pregnant. Though the virus is killing her, it's effecting the baby differently. He'll have greater mental capacity then any other human but have constant pain as though his skin was always burning. Maria begs Howard to find a way to help the baby.
As Howard goes back to Stark Industries, hoping that the armor he's been working on might be able to help his unborn child, Zebediah Stane arrives to announce the company is his now. Zebediah answers what he now calls "his phone" and is the one to inform Howard that his wife has died.