New York Harbor - the gateway to American, land of opportunity, home of the brave and free. Across from the famed Statue of Liberty, a new addition to the harbor thrusts out of the sea - Avengers Island, the floating headquarters of the mightiest team of super human champions in the free world. On this brisk December day, four brave and free Americans get the chance of a lifetime - the opportunity to try out for membership in the Avengers!
The mightiest of all Avengers, Steve Rogers, a.k.a. Captain America announces ‘Into position everyone! Ready - begin!’ Instantly, the four super-powered beings leap into action. ‘WHOOPS!’ exclaims Robbie Baldwin a.k.a. Speedball of the New Warriors as he crashes into Joey Cartelli a.k.a. the Blue Shield, who warns him to watch where he is going. Fabian Stankowitz a.k.a. Mechanout is lifted into the air by Gladitrix, and he warns the beefy woman to put him down, otherwise she will be sorry. ‘Hey, I’m shaking in my little pink booties, pal!’ Gladitrix replies, although of course she is not wearing pink booties.
Standing on a platform as he watches the four wannabe-Avengers, Captain America wonders if it wasn’t such a good odea to invite everyone who inquired about membership in the past six months to try out at the same time, as it is pretty obvious that these people haven’t the slightest notion of what team-work is. Suddenly, Mechanout extends metal rods from his arms and legs, enabling his body to rise above Gladitrix, as he tells her not to say he didn’t warn her. ‘Bite my exhaust, babe!’ he adds as he releases some gas down up on the startled woman.
Gladitrix begins coughing away, while the Blue Shield anticipates that it will take a while for Mechanout’s gas to penetrate his force field, which will give him enough time to pin the lady wrestler to the mat. But as the Blue Shield leaps up behind Gladitrix, an instant later he is tossed brutally out of the gas cloud, thinking to himself that it seems Gladitrix is not as incapacitated as he might have hoped. ‘Look out!’ he calls out as he soars towards Captain America, who ducks, enabling the Blue Shield to pass over him, ‘Sorry!’ he exclaims, before Captain America announces that he has seen enough, just as Speedball bounces past him.
Captain America grabs Speedball by the ankle, before calling out to Mechanout, who is blasting away at Gladitrix, ‘I said cool it!’ Cap remarks. Stankowitz apologizes, explaining that he had a temporary malfunction in his right audio-receptor. ‘The audition’s over?’ Joey wonders, before Captain America declares that he doesn’t think that last exercise was a fair indicator of their individual combat skills. He is about to announce what he would like to do, when suddenly Michael O’Brien announces over the Island’s intercom that there is a “yellow alert”.
Cap wonders what is going on, and exit’s the large training room with the others in two, excusing himself as he goes to check in with security, he tells the other four to stay where they are until he gets back. ‘Will do, Cap!’ the Blue Shield replies, while Speedball exclaims that if he makes it into the Avengers it will be so “rad”, while Gladitrix asks the Blue Shield if he thinks it is a legitimate emergency, or another kind of test.
Nearby, at the security compound, Captain American enters and asks Michael what is going on. Michael replies that he isn’t sure, but that there is some sort of energy discharge moving straight towards the island. Michael motions to the blips on the radar and remarks that the odd thing is the energy seems to blink on and off, and every time it blinks on, it moves ten miles closer. Cap asks O’Brien what part of the island it appears that the energy will reach first, to which O’Brien replies that it will reach the Eastern beach front. ‘Oh, great! That’s right near the training compound!’ Cap thinks to himself as he races from the security compound back to where he came from.
At that moment, three super powered beings arrive on the island, transported there by the phenomenal Darkforce, wielded by Laynia “Darkstar” Petrovna. Major Mikhail Ursus a.k.a. Ursa Major in his bear form tells Darkstar in their native Russian that she can rest now, as they have arrived. Darkstar’s brother, the brash Nicolai Krylenko, better known as Vanguard motions to the four people on the snow-covered beach and points out that they are not the Avengers they faced last time. Major Ursus replies that apparently the Avengers change their membership with great frequency.
Mechanout motions to the new arrivals, and Speedball exclaims that he recognizes them as the Soviet Super Soldiers. ‘Russians?!’ exclaims Gladitrix, remarking that this is either a very clever test, or else a full-scale attack on the Avengers. She adds that, either way, they should show Captain America they can handle this themselves. ‘ATTACK!’ she screams. ‘What is this?’ Ursa Major asks as Mechanout fires a blast towards him.
‘Let’s move it, Speedy!’ Gladitrix exclaims as she tosses Speedball towards the Soviet Super Soldiers. ‘YEOWW!’ exclaims Robbie as he bounces of Vanguard’s heaving chest. ‘Brash youth! You think to bowl over Vanguard?’ the powerful Russian exclaims. Mechanout calls Vanguard a “lousy Red” and threatens that he will teach him a lesson. Darkstar fires some Darkforce towards the Blue Shield, who blocks it with his shield, while Ursa Major growls at Gladitrix. Gladitrix calls Ursa Major “Yogi” after the cartoon and warns him that if he attacks the Avengers, then someone is liable to make a rug out of him and throws him to the ground.
The Blue Shield is pleased that Darkstar’s energy cannot get through his force screen, when suddenly Darkstar uses the Darkforce to wrap around him like a vice. Mechanout blasts Vanguard, who informs him that his blasts are useless against him, as his mutant body deflects all energies, however, as one blast bounces off him, it strikes Darkstar who was hovering in the air nearby. As Darkstar falls to the ground, the Blue Shield finds himself no longer tied up by her powers.
Vanguard, always protective of his sister, calls out to her, and smacks Mechanout with his hammer, warning him that if he has caused him to harm Darkstar, then he shall pay. Mechanout is propelled across the snow - straight into the Blue Shield, smacking him hard. Darkstar comes to, and Vanguard asks her if she is hurt. ‘No…’ Laynia replies wearily, while Gladitrix is busy straddling Ursa Major, when suddenly, Speedball cries ‘Look out below!’ as he bounces into Gladitrix, knocking her from Ursa Major. This enables Ursus to get back to his feet, and looming over Gladitrix, he declares that the tables are now turned, he remarks that they will now see if she can withstand as much as he did.
‘The bear speaks! I thought he was their pet!’ Gladitrix thinks to herself, when suddenly, a voice booms: ‘Hold it right there, Major!’ - it’s Captain America, who tosses his shield towards Major Ursus, smacking his hand away from Gladitrix. ‘CAPTAIN AMERICA!’ everyone cries in unison. The Blue Shield struggles to push Mechanout off of him, ‘Get off me!’ Joey exclaims, but Stankowitz replies that he can’t, as he has lost all power. Captain America asks what is going on here, and the Super Soldiers approach him, with Vanguard exclaiming that they come in peace. Darkstar informs Captain America that they were attacked the moment they arrived, so they have no choice but to defend themselves.
Captain America asks the trio what their business is here, to which Vanguard announces that they wish to defect to America. Darkstar begins to sob, while a surprised Captain America exclaims ‘You what?!’, before asking the Super Soldiers to give him a moment while he takes care of some things, and turns to the four Avengers candidates. The Blue Shield has finally managed to get Mechanout off of him, but Speedball is still bouncing about. Captain America informs him that he can stop now, while Speedball thinks to himself that he is making a doofus out of himself.
‘Yes…sir!’ Robbie exclaims as he hit’s the ground, then rolls up towards Cap, before standing to attention and saluting him. ‘At ease, man’ Cap remarks, before informing the four wannabes that he has to cut their auditions short in light of the unscheduled arrival of the Super Soldiers. Cap adds that before he has the four of them escorted back to Manhattan, he wants them to know that he saw a lot of raw talent in them all, but that it needs a lot more honing before they are ready for a place in the Avengers, so he suggests they go home, practice all they can to fine-tune their fighting styles, and then call him in another six months or so if they think they have really gotten it down. ‘Fair enough?’ he asks. ‘Yeah.’ Speedball agrees.
Meanwhile, in the Washington D.C. headquarters of the governmental Commission on Superhuman Activities. Lemar Hoskins, better known as Battlestar, stands before the powerful humans in the Commission on Superhuman Activities and asks what happened to John Walker’s body. The sultry Dr. Valerie Cooper tells Battlestar that there is no need for belligerence or alarm, and informs him that the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of his friend’s body from the morgue are not as mysterious as they first appeared.
Valerie goes on to say that Super-Patriot’s next of kin, his sister Kate, requested to have John’s body cremated, and the matter was expedited when the two of them were questioning eye-witnesses to the murder. ‘”Assassination” you mean, when public heroes are killed by crackpots who want to stop the good they do. It’s called “assassination”!’ Battlestar exclaims. General Lewis Haywerth of the CSA agrees, adding that as the man they appointed to replace Captain America, Walker proved himself a hero several times over.
Another of the CSA remarks that if Walker had lived then he is certain they would have worked out some alternative service that would have benefited everyone. Valerie then tells Battlestar that if he would like to, they can discuss his own career options. ‘Not now, lady. Not now’ a forlorn Battlestar replies as he walks away from the CSA.
Later that day, back at Avengers Island, Captain America tells Laynia, Mikhail and Nicolai that before he speaks with the state department about their request for political asylum, he needs to know a little more about their reasons for wanting to defect, reminding them that when they last met, the Super Soldiers were working for the Soviet government itself. Vanguard informs Cap that they are heroes of the Soviet people, not the Soviet government, explaining that however from time to time, the government’s and the people’s interests are one and the same.
Darkstar adds that in circumstances like that, they allow themselves to be persuaded to work under the directive of the Kremlin. Major Ursus, in his human form, reveals that after they rendered their services, the Kremlin would not let them be, and tried to coerce the three of them into enlisting in the state’s new team. ‘Bah! It was a mistake to come here!’ Ursus exclaims, muttering that an arch-American like Captain America will never trust them as they are Soviet’s, and that they will be as persecuted here as in the motherland. Mikhail adds that he has a mind to re-assume his bear’s form and walk right out.
Vanguard tells Ursus to calm himself, pointing out that they have only been here three hours, and has not given their host sufficient chance to extend to them the virtues of this free society. Darkstar asks Captain America if she can impress one thing upon him, and tells him that they love their country, that they did not want to leave, but that the Kremlin was marshalling over greater forces for their capture. Laynia asks how much they would be able to accomplish as heroes if the greatest portion of their energies was devoted to eluding the authorities. Captain America tells the trio that he is going to contact the state department to get the process underway, before remarking that before anyone can accept the defections of such powerful ex-government operatives as themselves as legitimate, they are going to be called upon to prove themselves many times over.
Later, Captain America finds the Avenger’s butler, Edwin Jarvis, and asks him to prepare guest rooms for the Super Soldiers, adding that since none of their operational technology is here anymore, the trio can have free run of the mansion, though asking Jarvis to inform him if any of them stray from the building or try anything suspicious. Cap adds that he will be in his quarters if needed.
Shortly, Cap is in the communications room and contacts Raymond Sikorsky, informing him that there is something he would like him to look into. ‘Well, what else are government liaisons for?’ Raymond asks. ‘Ever hear of the Soviet Super Soldiers?’ Cap asks. ‘Yes…’ Raymond replies nervously. After Cap explains the situation to Raymond, he thinks to himself that it is time for the next item on his agenda, and remembers that he wanted to get a memo out to his network of volunteer computer hot-liners and brief them on what his new status quo is, adding that it is gratifying how many stuck with him through his travail, when suddenly, the monitor lights up again, and Peggy Carter appears. ‘Central communications here!’ she exclaims.
Captain America asks Peggy what is going on, and Peggy replies that two corroborative reports of an unidentified person shooting balls of energy near Rangely, Maine, and asks if she should alert the rest of the Avengers. Cap replies ‘No’ and explains that he will investigate himself, adding that if it turns out to require more than just his presence, then he will contact her. Cap asks Peggy to have maintenance ready a Quinjet, and soon he arrives in the hangar bay, thinking to himself that hiring a SHIELD veteran like Peggy to handle Avengers telecommunications was one of the smartest movies he has made since taking over. As the Quinjet departs Avengers Island, Cap thinks to himself that he is determined to make the Avengers ready for the 90’s, no matter what it takes, before deciding to concentrate on the case at hand, he accesses the crime-files to see which energy-projectors are currently at large.
Meanwhile, in their guest quarters, Darkstar lies on a bed and reads a copy of Glamour magazine, while Vanguard and Major Ursus are watching television, where outgoing President of the United States, Ronald Reagan, remarks that his administration has left George Bush with solid foundations for dealing with their Soviet rivals. Vanguard begins laughing, but Major Ursus tells him to be quiet, as he wishes to listen to this. Nicolai replies that he cannot help himself laugh, for whenever he sees Ronald Reagan, he can only think of how Yuri Petrovich used to emulate Reagan. Darkstar corrects her brother, “imitate” she tells him, not “emulate”.
Mikhail folds his arms across his chest and frowns as he watches Reagan remark that their INF Treat is a success, barring Soviet subterfuge or cheating during the on-sight inspection process.
Reagan adds that they should continue SDI development which has already helped bring “the great Russian bear” quietly to heel, at the conference table in Helsinki. Mikhail is outraged, and shouts, before exclaiming once more that they should have not come here. ‘The overweening presumption of the superiority of the capitalistic system enrages me!’ Mikhail exclaims as he lifts his chair and prepares to smash it into the television. But Vanguard leaps up, ‘Ursus! No!’ he exclaims, before reminding his friend that they are guests here.
Suddenly, the door opens and Captain America enters. Vanguard and Ursus look concerned, so stop squabbling, and put the chair back down and act nonchalantly. Cap approaches them and informs them that he has spoken with the state department, and that what they told him was to test their powers to make sure they are who they say they are. Vanguard protests, pointing out that Captain America has already seen in them in action, early today against those candidates. ‘Look. Do you people want to stay or not? All right. Then do not argue with me!’ Cap remarks, surprisingly abrupt. Turning to lead the Soviet Super Soldier’s out of the guest quarters, Cap adds that he observed little of that fight earlier, but not enough, so this time, they will do a thorough job. The Super Soldiers just look at each other, concerned.
Soon, Captain America and the Super Soldiers approach the training facility, explaining that it is still under construction, but that it will be sufficient enough. Vanguard wonders why Captain America’s speech suddenly sounds more formal than before, but he has no time to investigate his suspicions as they enter the training facility, and Captain America motions across the room, introducing the Super Soldiers to the men who will help him administer the test - his fellow Avengers - Iron Man, the Vision, and Thor! Captain America informs the Super Soldiers that they will engage each other in simulated combat, and that the Super Soldiers are to demonstrate all of their various super human capabilities.
‘A test - bah!’ Major Ursus thinks to himself as he tosses his robe to the ground, before transforming into his bear form, ‘To think that any other man alive could mimic the unsurpassed power of Ursa Major - is insulting!’ he thinks to himself, before declaring ‘We are ready…Americans!’ Captain America then turns to his fellows, ‘Avengers, attack!’ he exclaims as they leap into action. Iron Man fires a repulsor ray at Vanguard, while Thor tosses his hammer at Ursa Major, and the Vision becomes intangible as Darkstar blasts him with Darkforce energies.
Ursa Major notices Thor’s hammer careening towards him and realizes that he should not let it hit him, so he ducks. This causes the hammer to pass over him, but it smacks against the wall, and rebounds towards Darkstar. Ursus calls out to Laynia to warn her, so the beautiful blonde turns quickly, blocking the hammer with her Darkforce energy and thanking her friend for the warning. Vanguard continues to block Iron Man’s energies, asking the armored Avenger if he has forgotten that his mutant might enables him to deflect all energies directed against him.
Captain America tosses his shield, and it smacks into Darkstar from behind. Vanguard throws his hammer and sickle at Captain America, asking him where his honor is. ‘Attacking my sister from behind!?’ he exclaims, shocked. Captain America simply replies that combat knows no honor, and leaps backwards, catching Vanguard’s powerful weapons in his hands, adding that combat only knows skill, strength and resourcefulness, before laughing wickedly.
Meanwhile, just outside Washington, there is a knock at Battlestar’s door. ‘Lemar? It’s Val Cooper!’ Valerie exclaims. ‘Yeah?’ Lemar replies, giving the Valerie permission to enter. Stepping inside, Val sees that Lemar is packing. ‘Observant, aren’t you?’ Battlestar mutters sarcastically. Valerie tells Battlestar that she cannot speak for the rest of the CSA, but that she is really sorry about how everything turned out. Valerie reveals that she looked into the mix-up at the morgue, and informs Lemar that it seems Walker’s sister contacted General Haywerth directly, and arranged everything through him, before telling Battlestar that they were serious about making him a good offer for his services, and that there is no need for him to leave.
Valerie tells Battlestar that his record is even better than Walker’s, and that what the CSA had in mind for him was to work with Freedom Force for a bit - Battlestar interrupts, ‘Thanks - but no thanks’ he tells Valerie, informing her that without Walker around, he doesn’t want to be here either. Val asks Lemar what he intends to do, ‘You’re not going to retire are you?’ she exclaims. Battlestar replies that he is thinking of going back to his native Chicago and serving the community there, before they shake hands, and Battlestar bids Valerie goodbye. ‘I always considered you one of the good ones’ he tells her.
Back at Avengers Island, Thor smashes Ursa Major in the face, while Darkstar fends off the energies of both the Vision and Iron Man, while thinking to herself that her back feels like it is broken, and that she thought this was supposed to be a training exercise, but she is being ganged up on. Laynia decides that she must, as the saying goes, pull no punches, and surrounds Iron Man in the Darkforce. ‘Blinded!’ Iron Man exclaims, while the Vision flies towards Laynia, boasting that she still has to reckon with him. Iron Man falls to the ground with a massive thud as Darkstar continues to aim the Darkforce at the Vision.
The Vision plunges into the ground while Darkstar remarks that he is solar powered and that she will have to see to that, when suddenly a beam of light bursts from Iron Man, distracting Laynia, and enabling some mechanical equipment to rise from the ground and ensnare her. ‘Oh!’ she exclaims, shocked, before asking how this happened. The Vision approaches her, explaining that he has an affinity for all things mechanical, while Darkstar thinks to herself that she doesn’t recall the Vision possessing these kinds of powers, ‘Wait - I know!’ she thinks, before the Vision places his hands on her head and exclaims that he shall short-circuit her neurons, causing Darkstar to scream. The Vision takes flight as he motions to the unconscious Darkstar and declares that she is done with.
‘Your animal strength is nothing!’ Thor exclaims as he punches Ursa Major again, causing blood to fly from the bear’s mouth. Thor then raises his hammer high and causes a bolt of lightning to strike Ursa Major. ‘The great beast is down!’ Thor exclaims, examining the smoke rising from the bear’s chest as he falls to the ground.
Captain America smashes his shield into Vanguard, while holding his weapons at bay and remarking that without them, he has nothing to focus his mutant power through. ‘You barbarians! Why are you doing this?’ Vanguard asks. ‘Why, Vanguard?’ Captain America snaps as he whacks Nicolai with his own hammer. ‘Because you are traitors to the motherland!’ Captain America adds as Nicolai falls to the ground. Cap drops Vanguard’s weapons, declaring that he doesn’t need them to finish Vanguard off. Vanguard coughs, before looking up and exclaiming ‘Just realized - you’re not Captain America! You’re -’ he is interrupted, ‘I am your executioner!’ Captain America exclaims as he smashes Vanguard with his shield once more.
‘Finished comrade?’ Iron Man asks with a Russian voice. ‘Da!’ Captain America replies. Iron Man calls out to someone called Fantasia, informing her that she can restore them to their true guises. A long-haired woman materializes next to the “Avengers”, who are indeed, not the Avengers. ‘Yes, so it is the Supreme Soviets who can claim this victory, not the American Avengers!’ exclaims Red Guardian, flanked by the Crimson Dynamo, Perun and Sputnik. Fantasia reminds Red Guardian that they cannot claim victory until they escape unnoticed, as the Avengers must be blamed for this atrocity. Otherwise, their efforts have been wasted. Red Guardian orders Fantasia to cloak then in invisibility so they can retreat to their hidden vessel.
Two hours later, ‘What a waste!’ Captain America thinks to himself, for by the time he got to Maine, there was no sign of the culprit tearing up the country-side. Cap wonders if it was a wild goose chase, and if so, why - what was the point and who was behind it? He enters the guest quarters to check on his guests, only to discover that they are absent. ‘I thought I left Jarvis and O’Brien strict instructions not to let them leave the building!’ Cap thinks to himself, before wondering if perhaps their defection was a ploy to gain access to the island so that they could steal secrets, and the emergency in Maine could have been designed to make him leave them unguarded.
Cap goes over to an inter-com and calls out to O’Brien, announcing that they have a code-red, as the Soviets have escaped. O’Brien replies that Captain America better come to the training compound quickly, as there has been some trouble.
Within moments, Captain America rushes in and sees Darkstar, Vanguard and Major Ursus lying on stretchers, with medics tending to them. Cap asks O’Brien what happened, to which Michael replies that he doesn’t know, but after he noticed they were gone, he searched the whole island for them, and found them here, like this. Cap asks if they are alive, to which O’Brien replies that they look pretty bad….