Avengers Arena #9

Issue Date: 
July 2013
Story Title: 
Game On – part 2

Dennis Hopeless (writer), Kev Walker (artist), Jason Gorder (inker 6-15), Jean-Francois Beaulieu (colorist), VC’s Joe Caramagna (letterer), Dave Johnson (cover artist), Jon Moisan (assistant editor), Bill Rosemann (editor), Axel Alonso (editor-in-chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (Exec. Publisher)

Brief Description: 

Tim Bashir and the others helplessly watch the new Darkhawk fights Juston’s Sentinel until Death Locket asks Tim to stop it and he does so with an EMP pulse. After some confusion Tim tells his story. His parents wanted a child with superpowers. What they got were technopaths twins who shared one body and would switch every 24 hours. Their parents kept the children a secret and homeschooled them. Katy rebelled, until strangely she became resigned. One day on a trip to the dentist for Tim Katy took over, caused an accident and suppressed Tim’s personality. She claimed to their parents that Tim died in the accident. With Katy now being the only child in the body she could have her normal life and even go to superhero school while Tim watched helplessly from behind their eyes. When the others beat Katy she lost some control and he came to the fore. While Death Locket guards Tim the others discuss what to do with him. Juston and Chase would prefer to kill him. When Chase offers to do it as Darkhawk Nico throws him out of the group. She offers to take first guard, while the others sleep. Tim shows Death Locket some tricks with her technology and they kiss. Nico turns around to give them some space and Katy takes over, taking control of Death Locket and taking out Nico. Later Katy murders Juston and steals his Sentinel.

Full Summary: 

Murder World, Quadrant 2:
Juston’s Sentinel is fighting the new Darkhawk Chase.

Tim Bashir glumly thinks to himself that the whole mess is his fault. Well, Katy’s fault but what’s the bloody difference? When they were kids, the psychologists used to call him a “peacemaker” or, worse, “people pleaser.” They were convinced he has an irrational fear of confrontation. Of course he did. Have they met his sister? This mess here… vintage Katy. She thrives on conflict. She builds the bomb, lights the fuse and rides the wave of destruction all the way to a just for Katy happy ending. Usually an ending only she could have predicted. He’s spent half his life trying to put out his sister’s fires without letting on who set them.

Nico and Cammi try to calm Chase (and would like to know where he got the Darkhawk powers) while X-23 asks Juston to stop and think. This isn’t even the fight he wants. Juston orders her out of his way.

Death Locket fearfully begins to asks Tim if he can… Right, he realizes. He recalls that his reward was six years trapped in Katy’s head, watching helplessly as she scorched the Earth. He flies up and uses the technopathy power he shares with his sister Apex to shut down both Darkhawk and the Sentinel.

No, get up! Juston calls in despair. Tim falls down exhausted and Death Locket notes her cyborg half is shut down too. That was interesting, Cammi comments.

Lying next to his fallen Sentinel, Juston Seyfried demands somebody needs to go over and put a hole through that small British girl for him. What girl? Chase, the only one in earshot, asks. The girl who looked him in the eye and smiled, right before she smashed his best friend to pieces! Juston snarls. And shattered his spine! The same girl who just switched off every machine they got, including a Darkhawk, a Sentinel and a Deathlok. Chase points out that’s a dude.

Tim helps up Death Locket, telling her it’s nothing permanent, while Juston tells Chase to kill it before it kills them. Death Locket tells them they have it wrong. Katy’s the killer. This is her brother Tim. He’s a good person. Bullocks, Nara scoffs. She’s known Katy for two years. She doesn’t have any brother. Even if she did, how would one of them show up here? Anachronism adds. Nara announces he’s a figment of someone’s imagination. Arcade or Katy’s trick. Let’s split him open and find out which. X-23 gets between them, unsheathes her claws and warns Nara to back off.

Nico tells Cammi they should— Cammi interrupts her, remarking Electro kid EMPed her blaster.

Tim asks them no to fight on his account. Maybe killing him makes the most sense. Can he have a chance to explain himself first? They can tie him up, whatever. He’d just like a chance…

One hour later, evening:
They sit around a fire and Tim tells his story. He and Katy are twins but not like a normal set. They’ve seen they are technopaths. They can control and manipulate machines but that’s not the odd part. They also share a body - female when Katy has it, male when he does. Until two years ago, they took turns at being. They’d switch back and forth every 24 hours.

Where do they go when they aren’t? Aidan asks. They don’t really go anywhere, Tim replies. You’re still in there watching, just not in control. Their parents paid Britain’s finest geneticists to build them superhuman babies. Instead they got them. Took their parents two years to realize they had separate personalities. They aren’t bad people, just ill-prepared for imperfection. So they kept them a secret. They were homeschooled by rotating tutors. They rarely got to leave the house and when they did they learned to give excuses for the other sibling’s absence.

Tim’s narration:
Tim didn’t mind the seclusion so much but Katy hated being hidden away. She resented their parents’ shame. She really wanted a normal life like the one they saw on telly. And Katy isn’t quick to give up on what she wants. Tim watched through shared eyes as his sister terrorized the house staff, blew up their mother’s appliances and screamed curses at dad. Hating Tim for never doing the same.

Nara shouts they went to school with Katy. They’d have noticed her turning into Tim. Death Locket orders her to shut up and let him talk.

One day, Katy stopped all her tantrums and explosions. It was as though she gave up on a normal life. Spent most of her time studying and practicing her power. They all thought Katy had gotten better.

A few months later, their father took Tim out for a dentist appointment. The last thing he remembers was playing the game where you try to hold your breath all across the bridge. He didn’t make it across. Katy caused the car accident. She spent all the tantrum-free time planning and practicing. Teaching herself how to suppress Tim. She told their parents that the crash must have ended him.

Katy killed him? Cammi asks. More or less, Tim agrees.

Their parents finally got a normal child. Katy got a real life. Super hero boarding school. And he got to watch his own funeral through his sister’s crocodile tears.

The others are clearly shocked and Death Locket hugs Tim.

Tim describes how he watched the night Katy nearly killed Juston, trying to steal his Sentinel. But he couldn’t stop it. Couldn’t call out a warning. He watched every time Katy puppeted Death Locket about and used her as a gun. But there was no helping her. He was powerless. Stuck. Lost. Until when they beat Katy at her own game. His sister had never felt quite so thoroughly beaten before that. She lost control and he regained some. He thanks them for that.

Later, the kids (without Tim and Death Locket) discuss matters. Juston points out, even if they believe Tim, how do they know he won’t switch back the second he falls asleep? The only thing crazier than letting him go is keeping him here.

Cullen points out they can’t let him go. Cammi remarks the smart way to deal with this is obvious, but she means…

Chase doesn’t like to be that guy but there’s only one way, right? Good dude or not— What’s wrong with him? Nico snaps. They are not killing him in cold blood because they are afraid if his sister! He’s a person! And he’s done nothing to them except trying to keep them from beating each other to death! X-23 agrees.

Cullen suggests a vote. Raise their hand if they think they should kill Tim. Juston, Nara and Chase raise their hands. He stays, Cullen announces.

Have they lost their minds? Chase shouts. This dude is like a timebomb sitting over there! He doesn’t care how cool he seems or how sad the story is. Big sis comes back and game over!

Where do they draw the line? Cammi asks. Strategically, he is spot on, but if they do this because it’s the smart play, what’s the difference between Katy and them?

This thing is on! Chase shouts. They’ve been trying really hard not to stoop to Arcade’s level, but people keep dying all the same. He doesn’t wanna kill anybody but it’s time to accept what’s up. Offense is the best defense! He turns into Darkhawk. If they can’t, he’ll be the bad guy.

Nico casts a spell. Get out!. Does he think this isn’t hard enough already? she screams. Does he think they need the dumbest person in the whole group taking matters into his own hands? They can’t trust him! They can’t count on him! They don’t need his protection. So take his impulsive hothead crap and his secret Darkhawk and go!

Cullen and Cammi decide they need 24 surveillance on Tim. Someone with biological powers. X-23 offers to take first watch but Nico wants it.

Some distance away, Tim is tied to a rock, though he has some freedom of movement. He is trying to teach Death Locket to use her cybernetics more effectively. Tim tells her to close her eyes and picture her left arm as a laser cannon. Don’t try to make it into a cannon. Just imagine that’s what it is. Now fire the cannon. It works, and Becky hugs him. The two of them are about to kiss when Nico announces that she drew first watch. Flustered, the two of them apologize. Nico tells them to go ahead. Just a couple more minutes though, okay? She walks some distance away and turns around to give them privacy.

That was mortifying, Death Locket remarks and suggests they try this again. She just lifts her arm and… then what? “Then you switch off your brain, love,” comes the voice of Katy, who then orders her to untie her.

Sometime later, Juston, lying a bit away from the others, wakes up to see Death Locket standing above him. What does she want? he asks. “She wants what I want,” Katy announces as she grabs him and snaps his neck.

Nico lies unconscious and Katy flies off with the Sentinel and Death Locket.

Tim wonders if he is his sister’s keeper. Is he responsible for the evil she does? And he finds he is. He knew how this would turn out. He’s always known. There’s only one way to stop his sister. But he’s too selfish. Too cowardly to say the words. All of these people will suffer, so he can live. Trapped behind the eyes of a monster.

Characters Involved: 

 Anachronism, Apex / Tim Bashir, Cullen Bloodstone, Cammi, Death Locket, Nico Minoru, Nara, Chase Stein, X-23

Story Notes: 

DEAD:  Juston Syefried, Kid Briton, Mettle, Red Raven

The story is narrated by Tim Bashir.
Katy attacked the original Darkhawk in issue #3.
Chase got the Darkhawk power in issue #4.
Katy attacking Juston in issue #3.
The name Bashir might be a shoutout to the character Julian Bashir in the TV show Star Trrek Deep Space 9, as his parents also had him undergo illegal genetic augmentation.

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