‘How did this happen?’ Scott Lang a.k.a. Ant-Man cries as he holds the unmoving body of his daughter, Cassie, also known as Stature of the Young Avengers. Both are bloodied and bruised from battle, but Scott is still alive. Cassie is not. Assembled behind them on the battle-ravaged grounds of Avengers Mansion are the Young Avengers - Wiccan, Hulkling, Speed, the female Hawkeye, the Vision, Patriot and their former member Iron Lad. The recently returned Scarlet Witch, her brother Quicksilver and their father Magneto. Four members of X-Factor - Multiple Man, Rictor, Shatterstar and Strong Guy. Several members of the X-Men - Cyclops, Storm, Iceman, the White Queen, Rogue, Colossus and Gambit. Members of the Avengers - Captain America, Iron Man, Ms Marvel, the male Hawkeye, the Beast, Wolverine, Spider-Man, Luke Cage and his wife, Jessica Jones. Rounding out the assemblage of heroes is inactive Avenger Wonder Man.
‘When Doom attacked you…Cassie thought he’d killed you. She…’ Wiccan begins. ‘She beat the hell out of him. She saved us’ the female Hawkeye states. ‘She saved all of us’ she adds. ‘It was supposed to be me. Not her’ Scott cries, while Iron Lad states that it is not too late to save her, as they can take her into the Time Stream right now, the two of them, and find a doctor in the future who can help her. ‘What?’ Ant-Man calls out. ‘But we have to go now. The longer we wait -’ Iron Lad begins, before Captain America steps forward and exclaims ‘Iron Lad…I appreciate what you’re trying to do, but -’, only for Iron Lad to interrupt, exclaiming that he can save her, that he can bring her back. ‘You just have to trust me!’
Iron Lad tells Ant-Man that he knows how painful this must be for him. ‘But if you let me take her, I promise I will do everything in my power to -’ he begins, only for the Vision, frowning, to tell Iron Lad that he will do nothing. ‘Cassie is gone, Iron Lad. You must leave her in peace…with her father’. This angers Iron Lad, who snaps ‘You mean I should leave her with you’. Iron Lad lashes out at Vision, punching him, and shouting ‘You are NOTHING!’ The Vision falls backwards, while Speed and Wiccan hold Iron Lad back. ‘Nathaniel -’ Wiccan begins. ‘Nothing but a machine. A machine with my brain patterns!’ Iron Lad exclaims, while Speed suggests he calm himself. Patriot enters the fray, while Iron Lad casts a blast of energy at the Vision and tells him that if Cassie had any love for him, it was because was a carbon copy of him. ‘Your behavior at this moment disproves that theory’ the Vision replies. ‘You wouldn’t even exist if I hadn’t programmed you - if I hadn’t built you -’ Iron Lad declares as he comes in for another attack.
‘I know that’ the Vision replies. ‘Then know this…I can take you apart just as easily’ Iron Lad announces as energy charges around him - which he releases at the Vision, who falls to the ground, melting and crumbling. ‘You killed him. You killed the Vision’ the female Hawkeye gasps as everyone fathers around. ‘You can’t kill something that was never alive to begin with’ Iron Lad shoots back. Hawkeye orders Iron Lad to fix the Vision, but he just tells her that if she wants him fixed to do it herself, as he is leaving, and taking Cassie with him. ‘No, son. You’re not’ Captain America announces as he steps towards Iron Lad. ‘I am trying to save her life. You’re the ones who killed her’ Iron Lad exclaims.
‘The way you went after the Scarlet Witch…the way you went after Wiccan…’ Iron Lad begins. ‘Nathaniel, you know that’s not true’ Wiccan tells him, to which Iron Lad asks Wiccan why he is defending them, as they are terrified of what he can do. ‘And if you think they’re going to let you and the Young Avengers even exist after this, you’re deluding yourself’ Iron Lad adds. He opens a portal to the Time Stream, and tells the Young Avengers that their only hope for any kind of future is in the time Stream. ‘We can find Cassie in the past and make sure this never happens to her’ he offers. Wiccan calls out to Iron Lad: ‘Don’t you see? This is the moment. If you run away to the past and start changing the future…this is the moment you become Kang the Conqueror’. Iron Lad looks back at the Young Avengers and tells Wiccan that he underestimates him. ‘I’m going to be better than Kang the Conqueror. Much better’. He frowns, before turning and entering the portal. ‘You’ll see’ Iron Lad calls back.
‘Should we go after him?’ Colossus enquires. ‘Can we go after him?’ Spider-Man asks. ‘It isn’t him you want…’ the Scarlet Witch remarks, holding the head of the destroyed Vision. ‘…it’s me’ Wanda Maximoff concludes. ‘And me’ Wiccan calls out. ‘And me’ his brother Speed adds. ‘I’m as much to blame as Wanda is’ Wiccan announces. ‘I am, too’ Speed adds. ‘Tommy -’ Wiccan begins, but Speed declares that they are all as much to blame as Wanda is. ‘Which is to say, not at all’ Magneto announces as he stands beside his children. ‘Doom is to blame for all of this. M-Day…Cassie’s death…’ Magneto declares. ‘He said so himself. You all heard his confession’ Quicksilver adds.
‘A man in love will say anything’ Wolverine points out. ‘That didn’t sound like love to me’ Captain America remarks, before turning to Cyclops, who declares that in the unlikely even that Doom was telling the truth, and the Scarlet Witch was possessed by a force she couldn’t control, it doesn’t change the fact that she destroyed lives. ‘And for that, there is no punishment severe enough’ he adds. Turning to Wiccan and Speed, Cyclops states that they were right, there is no justice to be had, even the Scarlet Witch’s death would accomplish nothing. Cyclops stands with Storm, Iceman, the White Queen, Colossus, Rogue and Gambit and declares that it is better that the Scarlet Witch should spend what’s left of her life trying to make up for what she’s done - knowing it will never be enough. ‘Knowing she will never be forgiven’ he adds. ‘Knowing I will end her life myself when it happens again. Because it will happen again’. The X-Men turn to take their leave, while Rogue looks at the Scarlet Witch and tells her ‘He’ll come around. They all will’ she smiles. ‘Rogue!’ Cyclops scolds. ‘See ya!’ Rogue exclaims.
Captain America turns to the woman who was one of his longest-serving teammates and closest friends and tells her that she knows she has a home here with them. ‘No, Cap. Not after what I’ve done’ Wanda replies. ‘Wanda…”Once an Avenger, Always an Avenger”’ Cap reminds her. ‘I think we both know that’s not true’ Wanda tells him, and Cap turns and walks away, as Wolverine did moments ago.
‘Don’t kid yourself’ Multiple Man remarks bitterly. Rictor, Shatterstar and Strong Guy stand behind him as he tells the Scarlet Witch that the minute the Avengers find themselves in a magic way against Domammu or Mephisto, she will be back on the team. ‘Hell, they’ll probably put you in charge’ he adds. Wanda tells Multiple Man that she will be too busy, doing everything she can to help the people whose lives she destroyed. Turning and walking away from the Scarlet Witch, Multiple Man tells her that she better, or else Cyclops won’t be the only mutant who comes gunning for her.
‘Wanda…’ Wonder Man calls out as he walks over to the Scarlet Witch. ‘Simon…’ Wanda whispers as the former lovers and dear friends embrace. Wanda begins to cry as Simon holds her, and asks her what she is going to do now. Wanda tells him that she has no idea, for her entire adult life, she has only ever been an Avenger. ‘You’re better off without them. Believe me’ Simon tells Wanda. ‘The Avengers used to be a family. Now it’s an army. And one you don’t want to be part of’ Simon declares. ‘Wanda…’ Magneto calls out, so Simon smiles and tells Wanda that he will leave her to her family now, but to know that he is here for her, no matter what. Wonder Man then flies away in a blur of ionic energy.
The Scarlet Witch turns to her father who tells her to come along, as she needs her rest. ‘Wanda’s coming with me, father’ Quicksilver exclaims. Magneto replies that he thought they might all go somewhere together. ‘Europe? The South of France?’ he suggests. ‘You want to go on holiday?’ Quicksilver asks. Wanda thanks her brother and father, but explains that she needs a life of her own before she can take a holiday from it. ‘I’ve only ever been Pietro’s twin…Magneto’s daughter…the Vision’s wife. It’s time for me to take responsibility for myself…and be there for my children’ the Scarlet Witch announces as she goes over to embrace Wiccan and Speed. Wanda then goes over to Ant-Man, and puts a comforting hand on his shoulder, before crouching down beside him and embracing him. The rest of the Young Avengers and several of the Avengers stand nearby as flames smoulder around the destroyed Vision, and Stature’s body lies in the dust.
So, what do we do now?’ Speed asks several days later as he, Hulking, Wiccan, Hawkeye and Patriot sit together in a park, the sun rising in the background over the city. ‘We repair the Vision’ someone tells him. ‘How?’ someone else asks. ‘What do you mean, “How?” We’ve got timed backups of his hard drive’ Speed points out. Hulkling points out that his body was 30th Century tech, so there is no way to replace it. Speed suggests that they ask Tony Star to build them a new Vision, with the old Vision’s memories. ‘The young old Vision. Our Vision’ Speed adds. Hulkling mutters that he doesn’t think Tony Stark is going to be in the mood to do them any favors for a while. ‘Even if we could…I don’t know if we should’ Hawkeye announces. ‘What?’ Speed exclaims. ‘Kate -’ Hulkling begins.
Kate tells her friends to think about it, and reminds them that all of the Vision’s hard drive backups are from before. ‘What are we gonna do? Bring him back to life only to tell him that Cassie’s dead?’ Kate asks. ‘That would be just cruel. And I can’t help hoping…maybe he and Cassie are together right now…wherever they are…and they deserve to rest in peace’ she announces. ‘So, they’re both just gone? And we just…we’re just gonna go on without them?’ Speed asks, shocked. ‘No’ Patriot announces, standing up. ‘I’m not anyway’ he adds. Kate hangs her head, while the others gasp ‘Eli -’, ‘What?’. Kate, Speed and Hulkling all stand up as well, and Patriot declares that a million mutants would have gotten their powers back if it wasn’t for him. Speed tells Patriot that is not true, and points out that Doom was never going to let Wanda re-power the mutants.
‘Eli, you made a mistake. Everybody makes mistakes’ Hulkling declares. Tears in his eyes, Eli replies that he has made too many, and that he is seventeen and only going to make more. ‘But I swear to God, I will never allow my mistakes to hurt anyone else. Ever again’. Eli announces that he is through being Patriot and that tomorrow he is moving to Scottsdale to live with his mother. ‘That’s a mistake’ Speed mutters, while Kate tells them that he has made up his mind. ‘And you’re just gonna let him go?’ Hulkling asks. Wiccan joins the others, standing alongside his boyfriend. ‘What choice do I have? My best friend died…the Vision died…Iron Lad murdered him…on a mission I was supposed to be leading. I’m not like you guys’ Kate declares. ‘I have now powers. No ties to the Avengers…and no right to be doing this. So, I’m done’ she announces.
Everyone frowns and hangs their head, when suddenly, ‘So am I’ Wiccan states. ‘Billy -’ someone calls out, but Wiccan hangs his head and declares that the Avengers were right about him, that he has no idea what he is doing, but that he knows enough now to stop doing it. ‘I’m sorry’ he utters. ‘Apology not accepted’ his brother snaps. ‘This is a war we’re fighting. And, yes, people get hurt. People die. But you don’t stop fighting or the bad guys win!’ Speed exclaims. Billy replies that he doesn’t know who the bad guys are anymore. ‘The Avengers thought it was Wanda. I thought it was the Avengers. Eli thought it was Doom. But it turned out to be me. I’m the bad guy…and I have no business calling myself a Young Avenger’ Billy declares.
Speed and Hulkling turn and walk away, and Speed asks Hulking if he is okay with this. ‘I…understand it’ Teddy replies. ‘So…the Young Avengers are just…you and me?’ Speed asks. ‘Just you’ Teddy tells him. Tommy turns to Hulkling and tells him that he is not going out there and doing this all by himself, to which Teddy tells him that he doesn’t have to, and points out that he could have an actual life for a change, be a person, learn to slow down. They stop and sit on some steps, and head in his hands, Speed declares that sounds like hell. ‘You never know, you might enjoy it’ Teddy tells him. ‘Have you met me?’ Speed replies. Wiccan, Patriot and Hawkeye make their way down the stairs, and Billy asks his brother and boyfriend if they are ready. ‘I give this whole retirement thing a week. Two weeks at the most’ Speed mutters. ‘Between you and me…?I hope you’re right’ Hulkling whispers.
Later, Billy, Teddy, Kate and Tommy are watching a news report on television. ‘They’re calling Manhattan “Spider-Island”!’ Kate announces. Holding up a copy of the Daily Bugle which is reporting on the situation, Speed exclaims that they have to get out there, as it is an epidemic. ‘Even if we went out there…how do you fight an epidemic?’ Hulking asks, while Wiccan just starts out the window.
More time passes, now only Wiccan, Speed and Hulkling are at the young Avengers’ home. Billy continues to stare out the window, while Speed watches a news report showing live footage from the North Korean News Agency of what appears to be military maneuvers. ‘Sentinels…’ Speed utters, while Hulkling tells Wiccan that someone is declaring war on the X-Men.
Later still, Hulkling smiles as he stares out the apartment window. ‘Billy, look…the Human Torch…he’s alive’ Teddy exclaims, but Billy just stares out blankly.
‘Billy, it’s been months…enough is enough’ Teddy declares as he turns on the light to the room where Billy continues to stare motionless out the window. ‘I’ve tried to be patient and supportive…but you need to talk to me - or to Wanda - or to someone - right now’ Teddy declares, before taking it back, and telling Billy that he needs to talk to him. Wiccan turns to Teddy, forlorn, he apologizes, telling Teddy that he is sorry. ‘You should be’ Teddy replies. ‘Because if I’ve learned nothing else from all this…I know now that life it way too short for you to be sitting here wasting yours. And mine’ Teddy declares. Wiccan asks him if he is breaking up with him, to which Teddy replies ‘And give you yet another reason to sit in the dark doing nothing? Sorry, Kaplan, you’re stuck with me’ Teddy declares. ‘Til death do us part’ Teddy adds. ‘Teddy Altman…did you just propose to me?’ Billy gasps. ‘Depends. Are you gonna get off your ass and do something?’ Teddy smiles. Billy looks at Teddy, before they embrace, and kiss passionately.
Suddenly, there is a tapping noise at the window. ‘Sorry to interrupt, boys…but Cap needs you at the Mansion’ Ms Marvel tells them. ‘But -’ Teddy begins. ‘In uniform’ Ms Marvel adds. ‘But -’ Wiccan protests. ‘Now’ Ms Marvel snaps.
Shortly, Wiccan, Hulkling, Hawkeye and Speed are all in uniform and follow Captain America and Iron Man down a corridor within Avengers Mansion. Captain America thanks them for coming on short notice, and tells them that the reason they are here tonight is because they need their help. ‘What can we do?’ Wiccan asks. ‘Quite a lot, it turns out’ Cap replies. The other Avengers gather around, and Cap tells the Young Avengers ‘You found the Scarlet Witch when we couldn’t. You stopped Doctor Doom when we couldn’t. You somehow managed to defuse our conflict with the X-Men’. ‘For the moment’ Jessica Jones points out.
‘So, we’ve asked you here to let you know that from this day forward…whether you’re Young Avengers or not…in our eyes, you are and always will be AVENGERS’ Captain America announces as he leads them out to the gardens, where Ant-Man is dressed in a suit and standing next to a memorial statue of himself, Stature and the Vision. The Avengers gather around the Young Avengers, and everyone smiles.
‘In the beginning, nobody knew what to make of us’ Wiccan thinks to himself. ‘Seven super-powered Avengers fans who came together because the Avengers had fallen apart. Now there are four of us and we’ve fallen apart. I have no idea what will happen to us’. He decides maybe that is the point - that there are no guarantees, no happy endings, but you show up anyway, you don’t give up, you never give up. ‘Maybe that’s what it takes…to be a hero’.