Avengers Compound, Palos Verdes, California. ‘Please! You’ve got to help my husband! You’re the only ones who can!’ exclaims Wanda Maximoff a.k.a. the Scarlet Witch to her friends – current teammate in the Avengers West Coast Dr. Hank Pym and former Avenger T’Challa the King of Wakanda and the hero known as the Black Panther. Wanda stands in the main computer room, the despair in her voice echoes from the cold steel walls and disturbs the focused thoughts of the two brilliant scientists.
The beautiful Scarlet Witch tells the men that if they cannot help her husband, then no one in the Avengers can. Hank turns to his friend and informs her that they are at the most critical stage in the installation of their new tamper-proof computer system, so they couldn’t possibly leave now. T’Challa remarks that, as far as he can tell, the Vision is in no immediate distress. Pleading, Wanda asks T’Challa how he can say that, reminding him that he has stood and fought by the Vision’s side, that he is an ally – a friend!
T’Challa assures Wanda that he does not seek to deny that friendship, but that as he said, he has noted the Vision is in no need of help. T’Challa remarks that, aside for the obvious change in appearance, the Vision does not seem much altered from the last time that he saw him. T’Challa adds that it is a remarkable testimony to the skill of Hank Pym, given that it was he who rebuilt Wanda’s android husband after he was dismantled and his memory erased.
‘I can’t believe it!’ exclaims an angry Wanda as she turns from her friends and storms off, ‘I can’t believe you’d all desert us like this!’ T’Challa calls out to Wanda, asking her to wait, but Pym tells his friend to let her go, as he is afraid neither of them possesses the necessary skills to give Wanda the peace she craves. T’Challa remarks that he does not understand, for not long after he arrived here yesterday with his new Wakandan computer equipment he saw the Vision and spoke with him, and he seemed very much like how he remembered him.
Hank tells the Black Panther ‘I’m sure he did,’ and explains that is the core of Wanda’s problem – in the time since T’Challa was last active with the Avengers, the Vision has changed considerably – “humanized” might be the best word. Hank explains that since the various world governments conspired to have his memory destroyed, he has been different, and while Hank was able to reprogram the Vision with all the lost knowledge, his human side – his soul – that part of the Vision is dead, and will remain so long as Wonder Man refuses to let them use his brain patterns to recreate the Vision’s personality matrix.
Outside the lab, Simon Williams a.k.a. Wonder Man is waiting for the Scarlet Witch and tells her that he needs to talk with her. Wanda doesn’t even acknowledge her “brother-in-law”, just storms past him. ‘Wanda…Wanda…’ Simon whispers.
Meanwhile, in a heavily shielded chamber some fifty yards from the computer complex, Janet Van Dyne a.k.a. the winsome Wasp flits about, ‘Take that! And that!’ she exclaims as she blasts some robots with her sting. She tells the robots that they may be stronger than dirt, but that they do not stand a chance against her! Janet flits through the fingers of one of the humanoid robots, and though he clasps her in his hand, she manages to blast her way out. ‘See what I mean?!’ she exclaims.
Suddenly the program switches off, and Jan turns to see that Wonder Man has entered the chamber. Simon asks Jan if he can talk to her for a moment. The Wasp replies ‘Anytime’ and asks Simon what is wrong, adding that she doesn’t think she has ever seen him so down. Simon replies that it is probably because he has never felt this way before. He informs Jan that he has been trying for days to think of some way to express his problem to her, to ask for her advice, and supposes that the best way – the only way – he can is to just come right out and say it…’I’m in love with the Scarlet Witch!’
The Wasp tells Simon that he always has been, she knows that. ‘You know? How? When?’ he asks, Janet returns to her human size and tells Simon that in the back of her mind she has probably know all along, as it wouldn’t take a great brain to figure it out – after all – the Vision was programmed with Simon’s mind, and the Vision fell in love with Wanda. The Wasp tells Simon that what she doesn’t understand is why he never expressed these feelings before.
Simon asks how he could, as the first time he ever met them, Wanda and the Vision were already married and he happens to come from the “old school”, he believes there are rules about things like that. Jan asks Simon if, due to how he sees the current situation, those rules no longer apply. After all, there is an android walking around, calling himself the Vision – which is what keeps most of them reacting over the fact that their former comrade in arms is essentially dead.
Simon agrees, ‘Yes, the real Vision, the one who has been a member of the Avengers all these years…well he’s gone. Erased. Eradicated’. The Wasp points out that Simon holds the key to brining the Vision back – except if he does, then he will lose his only chance of ever winning Wanda. Jan assumes this is Simon’s problem and that he hasn’t told Wanda. ‘No…how can I?’ Simon asks, informing Jan that he tried the other day on the beach, but he just came across sounding like a self-centered idiot.
‘I mean there’s no proper way to say it, is there? “I won’t let your husband have my mind again, Wanda, because I want you for myself”!’. Simon remarks that now Wanda hates him and he feels like he might be better off dead again. The Wasp tells Simon that he has the wrong attitude, and assures him that there has to be a situation to this, adding that she is just romantic enough to want to help him find it. Jan points out that there seems to be quite a bit of amour in the air, and is about to say something about herself and Hank, when the security alarm goes off, registering unscheduled use of a Quinjet. Jan returns to her miniature size and flies off, telling Simon that his affair of the heart is going to have to wait.
Meanwhile, John Walker a.k.a. the handsome and aggressive USAgent strides across the Compound grounds, thinking to himself that it has been seventy-two hours since he has seen Tigra in the mansion – and in that time there has been no sign of her anywhere. Knocking on a bungalow door he thinks to himself that it is not good, and that he isn’t sure why Federal Agent Sikorski sent him to the Avengers West Coast team, but already things are starting to go haywire – first Hawkeye quits, then – USAgent’s train of thoughts is interrupted as Tigra leaps out of the door and past Walker out into the nearby forest.
Walker leaps over the balcony, thinking that Tigra was so fast he didn’t have the slightest chance of grabbing her. He is worried that he will never find her in the woods, and as he marches over to the forest thinks that it would take a far better tracker than him to follow her trail. Walker remembers that the Black Panther is here, when suddenly, ‘Hello, new…sailor in town?’ exclaims Greer Grant Nelson a.k.a. Tigra as she leans against a tree and stares at USAgent.
Walker declares that he wants some explanations, ‘And I want them now!’ he demands, pointing out that her behaviour over the past few days has been – ‘You’re cute, USAgent!’ Tigra remarks, interrupting Walker. ‘What? Tigra?’ Agent exclaims. Tigra smiles at him and tells John that he isn’t as cute as Captain America, but still cute. ‘I just love big shoulders!’ she exclaims.
‘Now, see here, Tigra, I…’ begins John, to which Tigra looks him in the eyes and asks him if he is blushing under that mask. ‘That makes you even cuter!’ she exclaims. Adding ‘And it makes me want to…to…’ her voice trails off as she moves her head closer to John’s – then bonks her forehead against his, when suddenly the perimeter alarm goes off. As Walker and Tigra rush back to the Compound, the Quinjet blasts out from its hangar.
‘Blast it all! Isn’t anything going to go right?’ Agent exclaims, and at an outside monitor he switches it on and asks for someone to report. The Wasp appears on the view-screen and informs Agent that she has been trying to raise the Quinjet, but whoever is in there is maintaining radio silence. ‘”Whoever’s”? You mean you don’t know?’ Agent asks, which is heard by the Wasp, Wonder Man, Dr. Pym and the Black Panther. The Wasp replies that they don’t know for sure, but that whoever it is knows how to fly a Quinjet – which means by a process of elimination it must be…The Scarlet Witch and the Vision! ‘And if you can hear me, Wanda, I really wish you’d answer!’ the Wasp remarks, hoping her friend is listening.
Inside the Quinjet, the Vision tells Wanda that Janet seems quite distressed, and suggests that she responds. ‘All right. But only because you want me to, Vision’ the Scarlet Witch replies, before her image appears on the view screen at Avengers Compound. Wanda tells Janet that she is receiving her, to which Wasp asks her what is wrong and why she has taken a Quinjet without filing a proper flight plan. The powerful mutant replies that she needs transportation and did not want anyone to know where she is going.
Wanda declares that since none of her teammates are interested in helping the Vision, she has decided to accept the offered assistance of someone who is. Hank calls out to Wanda, asking her not to do this, and remarking that he may not know who she is planning to contact, but she must believe him when he says that everything humanly possible has been done to help the Vision. Wanda declares that she doesn’t want to hear anymore, and turns off the communication channel, despite Jan’s protests.
Back in the Compound, Pym informs everyone that Wanda has activated the stealth shield and has rendered herself invisible to all tracking. Jan informs Pym – who is her former husband and current lover – that she got a fix on Wanda’s direction, so at least they know which way she is heading!
One hour later, at Grosvenor Memorial Hospital in Seattle, Washington. Making their way through the hospital, Wonder Man tells the Wasp and Hank that he doesn’t know how they can be so sure Wanda and the Vision came here. Jan replies that it is simple – Seattle lies on Wanda’s projected flight path, as they tracked it before she turned the stealth shield on, and this is the hospital where Professor Horton was brought after they liberated him from the phoney S.H.I.E.L.D. outfit who kidnapped the Vision and started this whole mess.
Hank remarks that he is sure Wanda could think of no one better to help with the Vision than the man who built the original Human Torch – the very same android they all once thought the Vision had been made from. A doctor approaches the heroes, asking them if he can help them. Wasp introduces the group as “the Avengers” and informs the doctor that they would like to see the Scarlet Witch. The doctor replies that he doesn’t quite follow, as the Scarlet Witch is not here – and he would know if she was.
Hank asks Wasp what they should do now, for if Wanda didn’t bring the Vision here, then they could be anywhere. ‘Not quite anywhere, lover’ the Wasp replies, pointing out that there is a limited number of places Wanda could have been bound for, given her direction – unless she deliberately headed this way first then changed her course after she switched on the stealth shield. Simon tells the Wasp that he would hate to think that was the case, for I would mean that Wanda really doesn’t trust them anymore – which means if she doesn’t trust them, then it would leave her without anyone! Simon remarks that Wanda would be as alone and vulnerable as she was when Magneto first recruited her into the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. ‘Jan…Hank…I’m beginning to get scared for her…’.
Meanwhile, ‘There it is, Vision – the campus of Saunders College!’ Wanda exclaims as the Quinjet descends upon the campus. The Vision states that it was established in 1864 as a liberal arts college, and has only recently converted to the so-called “hard sciences”. The Vision begins to list who the present faculty consists of, when Wanda interrupts, ‘Er, yes…thank you, darling’. As Wanda lands the Quinjet, she exclaims ‘I hope they really are expecting us!’
A group of men and a woman wearing suits stand nearby. ‘She has brought the robot’ one of them remarks. A taller, older man states that it is an anticipated side effect of the deception they employed to lure her here, before asking if everything is in readiness. ‘Yes. The assimilator awaits!’ replies the woman. ‘Good – then let us greet our guests!’ the older man declares as he leads the way towards the two iconic heroes. ‘Scarlet Witch…Vision…we’re so pleased you’ve come!’
Wanda greets the man and asks if he is Jeremiah Random. The older man replies that he is and informs Wanda that it was his letter which has brought her here. Jeremiah Random shakes the Vision’s hand, informing him that he is the dean of robotics and that he hopes he and his associates can be of help. The Vision replies that he hopes so too, for although he is perfectly comfortable with his present form it seems to be a source of considerable distress to his wife.
Jeremiah Random leads the heroes and replies that he can understand that, and that from what they have all heard and read, it would seem that the Scarlet Witch and the Vision have been through a most traumatic time, so anything he and his associates can do to salve their pains will be of greatest pleasure. Wanda motions to the Quinjet as she sees the ground beneath it opening and is being lowered. Jeremiah Random tells her not to worry about, and that they will take proper care of it. But unseen by the iconic Avengers, the Quinjet is lowered, then smashed by two mighty panels. The debris then falls to a deep chamber below, except for a small piece which lands by a group of students who were watching – until one of the students kicks it into the gaping hole, and it lands in the chamber.
At that moment, on the East Coast, at Avengers Mansion. Jennifer Walters a.k.a. the She-Hulk is relaxing on a couch when an alarm goes off. She asks Steve Rogers, better known as Captain America, what it is, to which Cap explains that it is a Quinjet emergency alarm, meaning one of their aircraft has just been destroyed! She-Hulk follows Cap as he races to a computer room, asking how. Cap replies that they will know something more as soon as he can get the triangulation plotted, which thanks to the automated monitors they have installed world-wide, it shouldn’t take more than a second.
‘There!’ Cap exclaims, pointing to a map of the United States which shows that the Quinjet went down in Texas, near the town of Absolom. She-Hulk points out that the read-out says it was Quinjet AV-3071 – which is one of the West Coast planes. Cap confirms this, before pointing out that since his decision that both teams should function as one from now on, this falls under the heading of the East Coast team’s responsibility too. ‘Let’s move out!’ he exclaims.
A short time later, back at Saunders College, Wanda and the Vision sit in front of some large monitors displaying images, and Jeremiah Random tells them that, as they can see, their advanced approach to android cyber-systems is just what the Vision needs, and once they have completed a detailed analysis of the Vision’s circuitry – ‘You’ll be able to fully restore him? Bring him back to how he was before his mind was erased?’ Wanda asks, interrupting Random.
Random tells Wanda that it is their most sincere hope. Random’s female associate asks the Vision to accompany her so that they can begin their first phase of the study. The Vision gets to his feet, when suddenly Wanda calls out ‘Vision, wait…’ and she gets and kisses him on the lips. The Vision does not move though. Wanda turns away, and teary-eyed she tells the Vision to be careful. ‘Of course. I will see you again in a short while, Wanda’ the Vision replies.
Wanda asks Jeremiah Random if he is sure there is no reason for her to go with her husband now, as there might be things she can tell his scientists about the Vision’s mind and emotions. Random assures Wanda that they will be calling on that knowledge soon, but for now they will be conducting more or less straight-forward physiological tests. Random informs Wanda that special on-campus quarters have been prepared for her, and asks if she would like to rest while those preliminary tests are being done, as he is sure she must be emotionally exhausted.
Wanda admits that she is tired, and informs Jeremiah Random that it has been so difficult these last few weeks, what with the Vision being literally disassembled – his mind gone – and then for the rest of the Avengers to seem so complacent about it, so quick to accept him in his new form – more like his original form really. Random assures Wanda that he can understand how hard it would be for her, but that she can put her mind at ease now, for she is amongst friends here.
Jeremiah opens the door to a room and Wanda enters. ‘Ah, here we are’ Jeremiah remarks. ‘This is my quarters? I don’t…’ Wanda begins as she looks around the strange tiled room, empty save for several large pillars. The door slams behind Wanda, who quickly begins pounding on it, ‘Mr. Random! What are you doing? Open this door at once!’ Wanda declares, before thinking to herself that it is all part of some trap – they never intended to help the Vision, they only wanted to capture him. Wanda thinks that this might even be another arm of the government agency that kidnapped him before.
Wanda declares that if they think this door can withstand her mutant hex power, then they are sadly mistaken! But as the mighty Scarlet Witch proceeds to cast a hex, she screams, and clutching her ears falls to the ground. ‘That sound…terrible…felt as though my bones were on fire!’ Wanda thinks to herself, her headpiece has fallen from her head, and she can hardly think straight due to the residual pain – but she knows she must get up and go and find the Vision.
Suddenly, ‘My apologies, Wanda’ declares Jeremiah Random as his image appears on the tiled wall, which seems to serve as a monitor. Random claims to regret the necessity of causing Wanda such discomfort, and explains that they could not allow her to escape before they completed their studies of her. ‘Of me? But I thought…the Vision…?’ Wanda exclaims.
Random declares that the Vision is a mechanical contrivance and of no interest to them. ‘No, it is you we wanted, Wanda. You we selected out of all the known mutants on Earth! Random explains that Wanda was chosen because she is powerful – and they need power – but not so powerful that she cannot be controlled. Random looks at Wanda and remarks that perhaps some explanations are in order. He begins by telling her that the time of the Homo Sapiens is drawing rapidly to a close – that the age of the Homo Superior, the age of the Mutant – is dawning, and they intend to be a part of it.
Random remarks that for all the uncounted millennia, the appearance of mutant genes has somehow stymied them – ‘We have not been able to influence them or the mutants they created’. Random exclaims that if they are to move into the new dominant species, they must develop this facility. ‘Millennia…? Move…? I don’t understand!’ Wanda exclaims, not noticing the blackness beginning to seep up into the room. Random decides that perhaps after all it is not necessary that Wanda understands, before declaring that the assimilator is ready. ‘We may as well begin!’
‘What?’ gasps Wanda as she finally notices the blackness rising around her. She can feel that it is like tar, but somehow biological – she can feel the life in it and realizes that it is bubbling out from between all the tiles. Wanda believes that it will fill the whole chamber, and already her feet are stuck. Tugging at her cape which has also become stuck, Wanda realizes that she is too dizzy from the sonic blast to focus her power, and doesn’t dare risk an uncontrolled hex, as it could kill her.
Suddenly Wanda’s cape tears due to all her pulling, and with her feet already stuck, she falls backwards into the blackness. Wanda scolds herself for ripping her cape like she did, and tries to hold her head up high above the ooze so she can breathe – but she can’t move – its engulfing her…invading her…and soon, Wanda is gone.
At that precise moment, roughly one thousand miles west, in the Scarlet Witch’s bungalow at Avengers Compound. Yet another new governess attends to her duties with Wanda’s children, Billy and Tommy, who are in a playpen and have thrown a toy car from it. ‘Now, we know it’s around here somewhere, don’t we!’ the governess exclaims. Reaching under a table, she finds it, and calls out to Tommy, reminding him she said not to push it so hard. Getting back up, the young woman tells the boys she wants them to play nicely – but looking back at their secure playpen, she finds they have vanished!