Following the defeat of Daniel Whitehall's and Wolfgang von Strucker's HYDRA cells at the hands of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Avengers, the terrorist organization suffered major setbacks. Strucker and his second in command Doctor List were two of the last few remaining heads of HYDRA, and much of their equipment and weaponry was either taken away or were used by Ultron in his own war against the Avengers.
Only a few scattered HYDRA cells remained operational. One of them, led by Mitchell Carson, managed to obtain the Pym Particle technology. During the War Against the Inhumans, a former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Grant Ward attempted to help Kara Palamas to have her revenge on Bobbi Morse but instead ended up accidentally killing Palamas. Ward later came in contact with a small HYDRA cell and ordered them to find the remaining heads of HYDRA. When they failed to find many names, Ward appointed himself their new leader with the intention to rebuild HYDRA and destroy S.H.I.E.L.D.
Calling himself the "Director" of HYDRA, Grant Ward felt that HYDRA had squandered opportunities and was filled with members who cared more about personal wealth than advancing the organization. He had his second-in-command Kebo find members  who had proven themselves through fight clubs that Kebo created; to be a member, the person had to kill the opponent. Furthermore, Ward needed to see that the person was without fear of personal injury and would stand tall in the face of potential danger. For six months, Kebo recruited members. Ward brought his followers together one day when he captured Carmine and had the recruit of the old regime reveal the location of Werner von Strucker.
Grant Ward and Kebo went to Ibiza, Spain to find Werner von Strucker; they watched with binoculars as the young man partied with women off the coast. Kebo wondered why they were attacking Strucker, who had just gained an inheritance after his father's death,  because there were easier ways to get money to finance HYDRA; Ward replied that he wanted to teach the boy a lesson about the real world. Ward did not reveal that he wanted Werner to gain access to the Strucker family vault which he heard had HYDRA's greatest weapon.
Kebo, carrying a bag, put on a scuba suit and swam under water to the yacht; he emerged from the water quietly and opened the bag on the yacht, releasing the rats inside. The presence of the rats caused chaos as the women screamed and Strucker's bodyguards ran to kill the vermin. Ward then appeared, joking that he was an exterminator, and began killing the bodyguards. Strucker held up his hands, cornered and afraid.
With Strucker captured, Ward ordered Kebo to get the pass codes and account numbers of the young man's various bank accounts, by any means necessary. Kebo took delight in torturing him. Suddenly, Strucker grew tired of being harassed and retaliated, asking Kebo if he knew who he truly was; Strucker used the alias "Alexander Braun" to hide any connection he had to his infamous father. Ward appeared, telling Strucker that he knew his true identity and that he passed the test Ward had given him by standing up for himself and beating the larger man.
Ward then talked with Werner about how Wolfgang died a meaningless death, though he was one of HYDRA's greatest leaders, and the boy could make the family name meaningful again as a part of his retooling of HYDRA. Strucker agreed to join. Ward then sent "Alexander Braun" to Culver University and had him join the psychology class of Andrew Garner, a S.H.I.E.L.D. consultant and the ex-husband of Agent Melinda May.
Due to the Kidnapping of Bobbi Morse orchestrated by Grant Ward and Kara Palamas, Bobbi Morse lost half a lung; Morse's ex-husband and lover Lance Hunter wanted revenge. Hunter discussed his desire with S.H.I.E.L.D. director Phil Coulson who sanctioned the mission. Since Morse was not approved for field missions, Hunter went to Sun City, Arizona and recruited Melinda May to assist him in finding and killing Ward.
Pretending to be arms dealers named Richy and Gina, respectively, who wanted to sell weapons to Ward, Hunter and May went to an ex-associate of Hunter's called Spud who had connections to HYDRA. Spud informed the pair that the only way to meet the "director" of HYDRA was to work through the ranks which initially required one to win in the fight clubs created by Kebo. Ultimately, Hunter became a member of HYDRA by killing Spud when the two fought to the death in the club.
Days later, May felt that Hunter was being overwhelmed with vengeance and went to the Playground to consult with Coulson. Coulson put a raiding party together to assist May and Hunter when the location of Ward was obtained.
- "So glad you're here, May. I was planning on heading out with a truck full of weapons that Hunter so kindly supplied. Looking to cause a little mayhem, draw S.H.I.E.L.D. out, when, instead, you came to me."
"You're trapped, Ward."
"Hey. Don't interrupt. Not before you see my surprise."
- ―Grant Ward and Melinda May
Lance Hunter met with Kebo and was to get his first assignment from Grant Ward himself who was impressed by the weaponry that "Richy" donated to HYDRA. When Ward and Hunter met, a gunfight began; Melinda May quickly found the location and assisted while Phil Coulson said that his party was a few minutes away.
Finding himself pinned, Ward enacted his back-up plan. Werner von Strucker was told to drop his disguise as a college student and, with an arsonist]] and an assassin, kill Professor Andrew Garner, May's ex-husband. Ward told the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents that he would stay his order of execution if allowed to escape. Though May contemplated the request for the sake of the man she loved, Hunter was not to be swayed and pushed the assault. With the help of Kebo, Ward escaped nonetheless, though he took gunfire in his back and shoulder.
Meanwhile, Garner escaped his assassination attempt by being an Inhuman and transforming into a monstrous being called Lash. Lash killed the arsonist and assassin; Strucker barely escaped before Aaron's Market, the place of the confrontation, was destroyed.
Werner von Strucker feared the reprimand that Grant Ward would give him for failing to kill Andrew Garner, so the young man went to see Gideon Malick, a highly respected member of HYDRA and an associate of his father. Strucker told Malick about recent events and Malick offered to help.
Meanwhile, Ward learned that Strucker had failed and deduced that if S.H.I.E.L.D. found the boy, he would reveal valuable information; Ward ordered Kebo to find and kill him. As Kebo began his search, he received a call which he handed to Ward from Malick, revealing Strucker's location in Lisbon. Kebo went there with a team and began torturing him.
S.H.I.E.L.D. was looking for Strucker; Melinda May became the mission commander, replacing Lance Hunter, and recruited Bobbi Morse, now cleared for field missions, as her assistant. They went to Lisbon to interrogate Strucker for the location of Ward when they saw the torture Kebo was performing. The Skirmish in Lisbon took place as the forces clashed; Kebo was killed by Morse. Before Strucker fell into a coma he told May what happened in the Attack on Andrew Garner, but she did not get Ward's location.
- "You have to incorporate what you love into your work. You see the trick is, you want them to know it's gonna hurt... Build the anticipation. But you have to let them imagine a better world."
- ―Grant Ward to Malick's Men
Ward went to meet with Malick who chastised the "director" for sending Strucker on a mission before he was battle ready. Malick knew that Ward really wanted Werner for access to the Strucker family vault. Malick felt that Ward was petty and small-minded and sent assassins to eliminate Ward because he did not him to interfere in his long running schemes.
Ward survived, however, and found Malick in Zepkow, Germany in the von Strucker family vault. Since Ward passed Malick's test, Malick revealed the true origin of HYDRA and he was working to bring Hive to Earth with the pieces of the Monolith he had obtained. Ward was in awe at the revelation; he decided to torture Andrew Garner, who was in a Containment Module after his dual identity was discovered and abducted by Malick, to ease his mind.
Due to an investigation conducted by S.H.I.E.L.D., HYDRA learned that Rosalind Price had become aware of Gideon Malick's involvement with HYDRA and the ATCU's secret mission to create an army of Inhumans in order to serve Hive upon It's return to Earth as part of Project Distant Star Return. At the same time Grant Ward learned that Price had begun a relationship with Phil Coulson, Director of S.H.I.E.L.D..
An excellent sniper, Ward set up a rifle on a roof, aimed at the Price Residence, and, with a single shot, killed Price as she sat down to dinner with Coulson. Ward watched as Price drowned in her own blood due to the bullet to the neck while Coulson tried in vain to save her. Ward then called Coulson to inform him that he killed Price so that Coulson would know the same pain he felt over the death of Kara Palamas. Ward then sent his men into the house to attack Coulson.
Targeting Phil Coulson
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Meanwhile, Jemma Simmons and Leo Fitz were abducted from the Distant Star Facility; it was believed that they had to secret to return a person from the planet Maveth. Ward allowed Giyera to torture Simmons while he sat with Fitz as they listened to her scream.
During the session, Grant got a phone call; it was Coulson telling him that he had Thomas.
On Maveth, Grant Ward and his expedition team escorted Leo Fitz with the orders to find Hive and return the powerful Inhuman to Earth by the time limit set for when the Monolith would open its retrieval portal. Fitz constantly tried to escape his chaperones but Ward caught him each time. Ward purposefully made Fitz bleed on one confrontation so that Hive could find them as he knew that the being could smell blood; Ward realized that he had no idea as to the appearance of this being.
Suddenly, Fitz found a cave entrance and jumped inside; Ward followed and saw Fitz with another person. Ward told Fitz that he was going to kill this stranger so that Fitz could understand that Ward was tired of his uncooperative attitude. Fitz begged for the stranger's life, citing that the stranger could guide them better to It since he has lived there for years; Ward acquiesced. Meanwhile, Phil Coulson found the trail of Ward's team and was tracking them. On Earth, S.H.I.E.L.D. was engaging in an Attack on the HYDRA Castle.
Grant Ward was dead, but his body would not rest in peace; Hive, carrying the discarded prosthetic hand of Phil Coulson, had then commandeered the corpse and used it to escape Maveth to Earth. Hive met with Gideon Malick as Malick escaped the Attack on the HYDRA Castle.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Avengers: Age of Ultron
- ↑ Ant-Man
- ↑ Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: 2.22: S.O.S. Part Two
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: 3.02: Purpose in the Machine
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: 3.03: A Wanted Inhu(man)
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: 3.08: Many Heads, One Tale
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: 3.04: Devils You Know
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: 3.06: Among Us Hide…
- ↑ Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: 3.07: Chaos Theory
- ↑ Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: 3.09: Closure
- ↑ 11.0 11.1 Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: 3.10: Maveth