‘You are going to die, Champions - and you’ll never even know why!’ booms Yuri Petrovich a.k.a. the Crimson Dynamo as he, Laynia “Darkstar” Petrovna and the Titanium Man a.k.a. Boris Bullski stand over four members of the Champions of Los Angeles, held prisoner. The glamorous Darkstar tells the Crimson Dynamo that the Champions are waking, and that she cannot maintain her Darkforce field around them much longer. ‘Bah! Let them awake! The Titanium Man fears them not!’ boasts the green-armored villain.
The four male members of the Champions rouse, and Ghost Rider exclaims that Darkstar is holding them in some kind of energy field. Warren Worthington III a.k.a. Angel rubs his head and remarks that the last thing he remembers is their battle at their inauguration, but that was in Los Angeles. ‘Where in blazes are we now?’ he wonders.
Laynia becomes overwhelmed by the use of her powers, and calls out to Yuri, who assures her that it will not be much longer. ‘Just enough to enjoy their helplessness!’ he exclaims. ‘Base villain!’ booms Hercules as he slams his fists against the Darkforce field, boasting that no mere power of darkness can hold the son of Zeus. ‘By Achilles’ shield!’ Hercules gasps as he is repelled. ‘Nothing! The field defies you, Olympian!’ Ghost Rider points out.
Bobby “Iceman” Drake suggests to Ghost Rider a.k.a. Johnny Blaze that they combine their powers to see if they can do any better. ‘That is - if you can drop the Bela Lugosi routine long enough to go into action!’ Bobby adds. ‘If you knew the source of my power, frozen one, you would not question its manifestation!’ Ghost Rider retorts, his human appearance now replaced by a flaming skull, as fire and ice bombard Darkstar’s force field. Darkstar falls backwards, but the Crimson Dynamo catches her as she exclaims that it is too much, that she cannot hold them.
Crimson Dynamo suggests to his Russian comrades that they prepare to depart at once. ‘We will do our gloating at a safe distance!’ he exclaims. ‘But the Champions -’ Titanium Man remarks as the heroes move towards him. Darkstar assures the Titanium Man that the Champions will be held by a force even greater than hers. ‘Heads up! The girl’s up to something!’ Angel exclaims, pointing at Darkstar, who announces ‘It is done! Nothing can stay our departure now!’ With that, Darkstar uses her Darkforce to teleport herself and the armored Russians away. ‘Good Lord! They’re fading out! The field around them is gone!’ Angel exclaims. ‘But so are they!’
Moments later, Darkstar, the Crimson Dynamo and Titanium Man re-appear. ‘We are on the surface once more!’ Laynia exclaims, while the Crimson Dynamo remarks that the accursed, interfering Champions languish imprisoned in a place yet unknown to them.
Indeed, Angel exclaims that the Russians are gone, and left them inside some kind of steel cubicle. ‘If they think they’ve trapped us - then they’ve reckoned without Hercules!’ Ghost Rider remarks, as Hercules grabs the steel wall, ‘Thou speakest true!’ he tells his teammate, remarking that there is no metal - forged by god or man - that may hold against the Prince of Power. But, as Hercules rips the steel wall apart, he finds nothing but stone on the other side. Suddenly, there is a mighty rumble, and the four men are knocked off their feet. ‘What in Satan’s name -?’ exclaims Ghost Rider, while Angel declares that it is an earthquake, which started when Hercules stripped the wall away.
‘But why? And where are we that we’re surrounded by solid rocks?’ Iceman asks. Suddenly, ‘You have not yet guessed, youth?’ asks the Titanium Man as a visual-scan, courtesy of Darkstar, appears, so that the Champions can see and hear the three Russians, just as they have observed the Champions. ‘They were watching the whole time!’ Iceman gasps. Warren tells his long-time friend to be quiet, and to hear them out. Titanium Man proceeds to inform the Champions that they are encased within a vault set deep in the San Andreas Fault.
The Titanium Man explains to the heroes that there is no way out except for Darkstar’s powers of spatial displacement. ‘Any move on your part to escape will activate the Fault, and cause a series of earthquakes which will leave Los Angeles no more than a memory!’ the Titanium Man explains. Hercules lunges at the display of the Titanium Man, which causes his teammates to call out to him, telling him to wait. ‘Stop him, Bobby!’ Angel exclaims. ‘If he hits that wall -’ Warren adds - but it’s too late, as Hercules crashes into the wall. ‘Not that I could have held back a god, even if I’d wanted to!’ Bobby adds.
Suddenly, another earthquake shakes the heroes from their feet. ‘What madness rules here?’ Hercules wonders, while Warren tells him to take it easy. ‘There’s more than us at stake! There’s the whole state of California!’ he points out. ‘Thou speakest to Hercules, winged one - whom even Zeus once feared!’ Hercules remarks, before shouting that he will not be shackled. Before Hercules can do any further damage though, Ghost Rider uses his hellfire to ensnare Hercules, telling him that he will be shackled if it means his home town is at stake. ‘And I don’t need my spook-act to stop you!’ he adds.
Hercules turns to Ghost Rider and reveals that he never trusted him, for his power seemed to be a gift of Pluto and the Stygian depths of Hades! Hercules adds that the Lord of the Dead failed to hold him: ‘What hope hast thou?’ he asks Ghost Rider. ‘Stop it, both of you!’ Angels exclaims as he rushes over to Hercules, telling his teammates that no matter what they think of each other, they are a team now. Bobby agrees, and tells Hercules to calm down. ‘Maybe Blaze jumped the gun, but you gotta admit you do have a tendency to act before you think!’
Outside, the Titanium Man remarks that it is revealing to see how the Capitalists turn on each other in a moment. Crimson Dynamo tells the Titanium Man that he is a fool to see everything in terms of class struggle, remarking that there were no politics in his desire for revenge. The trio fly towards a jet which approaches overhead, and Titanium Man remarks that the Crimson Dynamo talks treason. He assures the Crimson Dynamo that once they have returned home, their masters will hear of that. ‘Quit the yappin’ and get aboard!’ the Griffin shouts from where he stands in the jet. Dynamo tells Bullski that he lives in a Stalinesque dream. ‘The homeland has changed! There are masters there no longer!’
Inside the hovering jet, the final member of the Champions - Natasha Romanova a.k.a. the Black Widow, is shackled, alongside Alexi Bruskin. ‘Ivan!’ the Black Widow calls out to another man in the jet, but he does not acknowledge her, he simply stares away. Bruskin tells Natasha that it is no use. ‘He has not spoken since the Crimson Dynamo was revealed as his son!’. The Crimson Dynamo enters with Darkstar and the others, declaring ‘A son he abounded! A son he left for dead! You remember that, don’t you, father?’. The reasonable Darkstar tries to calm Yuri down: ‘Yuri! Must you?’ she asks, to which Yuri quickly replies ‘Yes, Laynia! I must! My dear father will be made to remember - and I hope the memory kills him!’ he exclaims, removing his helmet.
‘But not too quickly!’ Yuri adds, remarking that he wants his father to suffer, the way he has been made to suffer. The Black Widow calls out to Yuri, revealing to him that she has known Ivan for years - even before he defected - so she knew that he had a son, but that both the boy and Ivan’s wife are dead, killed in a motor accident. Yuri sneers at Natasha as he replies that is the story his father told the world. ‘But if you wish to know the truth, Madame Natasha, then hear the story of Ivan Petrovich, beginning in Moscow…nineteen years ago…’.
‘We go to zoo today, Poppa?’ a young Yuri asks his father, as they walk through Moscow, causing his mother to smile and remark that little Yuri will soon be as big as father. ‘Lenin’s Beard! The boy is only five!’ Ivan replies.
Yuri explains that although he was just a boy, he still remembers the day everything changed.
Some years later, Ivan was visited by two Americans, who tell him that the days of the revolution are past. ‘Communism is dead’ one of them tells him, adding that he is a scientists and master technician. ‘The West needs you, Petrovich!’ the American exclaims, while Ivan clutches wads of cash, unaware that his wife and son are in the next room and can hear what is transpiring. ‘No! Get out!’ Ivan exclaims, throwing the money back at the Americans while declaring that he froze in the snows outside Leningrad to save this land. ‘Russia is my home! If there is wrong in it - it must be changed, not destroyed!’ In the next room, young Yuri asks his mother what is going on, to which his mother tells him to hush, as his father is very angry.
A short time later, Ivan packs his wife and son into a car, telling them that they must leave Moscow for a while, as Stalin’s death has made things ugly here. Ivan’s wife tells her husband that she understands, and assures him she will write to him from the mountains, while Yuri tells his pet dog to stay with his father. However, they never reach the mountains, as shortly after, they are gunned down in their car by another car that speeds up alongside them. Mrs Petrovich screams only once over the roar of the machine gun - and then, she was beyond screaming, as her body lay half out the driver’s door. Moments later, young Yuri was taken by one of the American’s who was at his home, Medvedev. Yuri calls out to his motionless mother, unaware that standing some yards away, is his solemn father.
‘I could imagine my dear father’s grief’ Yuri remarks, pointing out that the men who had taken him had just offered his father a fortune to leave Russia. ‘What better way to sever all ties?’ he asks. Natasha asks Yuri if he is mad. ‘How can you possibly believe that?’ she begins, but Bruskin informs her that there is much she does not understand. ‘Much even the boy does not know’ he adds, suggesting they let Yuri Petrovich finish his story.
Suddenly though, the Titanium Man announces that they have just picked up what can only be the American Air Force on their radar. ‘Yeah, “comrade”, and they’re moving in fast!’ the Griffin adds, reminding the Crimson Dynamo that he is in charge, and asks if he has any orders. Crimson Dynamo tells the Titanium Man and Darkstar to fly outside and stop the American Air Force, but Laynia declares that she will not work with the Titanium Man any further, as he is a butcher. ‘Hah! That is the name they called me in the camps, fair one! It is a name I relish, as the American pilots will soon see!’ the Titanium Man boasts proudly as he flies out of the ship and into the air.
‘Shall I go on, Father? Or do you still pretend not to know?’ Yuri asks, before he continues his story, revealing that the American agents - such as they were - who kidnapped him held him in West Berlin for nine years, training him, educating him and brainwashing him to work against the State - ‘But to no avail!’
‘This is Caged Bird to Home Perch! I fear that soon they will discover this radio I have built. If I am to be rescued - it must be soon!’ Yuri whispers through his secret radio transmitter, while his captors stand at the other end of the room, occupied with discussion. ‘Tonight, then, Caged Bird’ comes Yuri’s reply. Later that night, true to his word, Home Perch - a.k.a. Alexi Bruskin - breaks into the facility and rescues Yuri. ‘These scum will never hurt you again!’ he exclaims, while his companion takes out the American agents. Bruskin tells his associate to clean up this den of thieves, while he takes Yuri back across the wall - home.
‘Home. Home to a grave bearing my mother’s name and the disgrace of learning that my father had defected!’ Yuri exclaims, adding that his suspicions were confirmed - his father had sold them out. ‘Ivan Petrovich was a traitor!’ he exclaims. Bruskin informs Yuri that there is another side, but before he can say anything more, the Griffin interrupts, telling the Crimson Dynamo that he ought to see what he comrade is doing to the planes outside, ‘And taking his own sweet time while we hover like sitting ducks up here!’. Yuri looks out the window and horror spreads across his face, as he sees the Titanium Man blowing up the American Air Force jets, though the at least some of the pilots managed to parachute to safety. ‘Lenin’s Ghost! I ordered him to stop the planes - not destroy them!’ Yuri exclaims, before soaring out of the jet and flying towards Bullski, telling him to return to the command ship at once. ‘Why not? That was the last of the swine’ Bullski remarks as the last ship explodes.
Back inside the command ship, Ivan turns to Bruskin and exclaims ‘You said there was another side, Bruskin! What do you know?’. Bruskin remarks that now Yuri is gone Ivan decides to speak, before exclaiming ‘Very well, Ivan Petrovich! Know then - how you and your son were betrayed!’
Before Yuri’s inexplicable rescue, Bruskin met with Medvedev, and asked him how things were going. ‘As planned, Bruskin! The boy believes himself held by the Americans! He has never guessed that it is his own people who kidnapped him!’ Medvedev replies. It wasn’t until Yuri hated the West enough, that his “rescue” was faked. Then, with Yuri “rescued” by Bruskin, Medvedev announces that he is ready, believing any lies Bruskin feeds him. ‘When the time is right - he’ll even hunt down his defector father!’
‘And all for the glory of the State, eh? Bruskin? You pig!’ Ivan exclaims furiously. ‘You played both sides against the middle - and destroyed my family to do it!’ Ivan adds that Bruskin later set the Black Widow up the same way, but Bruskin claims that he did as he was ordered, and that when he could stand no more, he too defected. The Crimson Dynamo renters the jet, followed by the Titanium Man. Yuri announces that the planes are “gone” and tells Laynia to inform the Griffin to proceed. But Laynia informs Yuri that there is something he must hear about his father.
‘I have no father!’ the Crimson Dynamo snaps, telling Darkstar that he forbids her from talking to the Black Widow again. ‘I’ll not have you listening to her lies!’ he exclaims as he storms over to the Black Widow and slaps her across the face. Ivan calls out to Natasha, while Darkstar exclaims ‘Yuri! No!’. Ivan grabs hold of the Crimson Dynamo, pulling him away from the Black Widow, while he shouts at Bruskin, asking him if he sees what he has done. ‘You’ve made my son a killer!’ Ivan exclaims, while telling his son to listen to his teacher: ‘Let him tell you how he murdered your mother!’ Ivan exclaims. ‘LIAR!’ Yuri shouts back, throwing his father to the ground.
‘He’s telling the truth, Yuri!’ Laynia calls out to the Crimson Dynamo, who just shouts ‘No! No!’ back to her. Darkstar takes a stand, and uses her power to blast the shackles restraining the Black Widow and Bruskin, telling the Crimson Dynamo that if he will not listen of his own will, then he must be made to hear. But Laynia’s brave rescue attempt comes at her own expense, as the Titanium Man shouts ‘Stop her! Your wretched female is jeopardizing the whole operation!’ The Crimson Dynamo knocks Dakrstar back with a blast of energy, telling Bullski that he does not need to be told his duty, while the Black Widow calls out with concern to Darkstar.
Laynia lands on her knees and announces that she is unhurt, assuring Madame Natasha that Yuri would never hurt her. ‘But he must be made to hear the truth - before the lie he has been living…destroys him!’ Laynia exclaims, declaring that although they here lack the strength to force Yuri to hear, there are others with such strength. Laynia sends a beam of Darkforce through the jet, sending it down below the ocean.
‘Your mystic flames shall restrain me no longer! Hercules will be free!’ Hercules snaps at Ghost Rider, while Iceman reminds Hercules that there is a city at stake. ‘Maybe the whole state!’ he exclaims. But Hercules shouts ‘Lies! Our captors deceive us, hoping to keep us prisoners of false words!’ as he prepares to smash the steel prison once more. ‘No! We can’t take the chance!’ Iceman exclaims, to which Hercules reminds everyone who he is, and boasts that he has known thousands of generations of men and many times met similar deceit. ‘I will take this “chance”!’ he declares, when Angel announces that something is happening.
Indeed, something is happening, as the Darkforce engulfs the four men, and an instant later, deposits them outside. ‘Grass! Rocks! Trees! I don’t know how, but ‘ we’re out!’ Angel exclaims. Ghost Rider declares that may be, but that he is not finished with their self-appointed god. ‘Later, Blaze! Now all we’ve got to do is -’ Warren begins, but Iceman interrupts, exclaiming that they must make it to the airbase about a mile from here, commandeer a plane and head coastward. ‘Huh?’ Warren asks, confused. ‘Don’t ask me, Warren! It just popped into my head - like the old days when Professor X would contact us telepathically!’ Iceman exclaims, confused.
Back onboard the jet, the Crimson Dynamo fires a blast of energy at Black Widow, while shouting ‘Accursed witch of a traitoress! You’ll not live to stand trial!’. Natasha easily dodges the blast, telling Yuri that he has a lot to learn. ‘First, that it takes more than armor to make a warrior!’ While the Titanium Man holds Bruskin captive, Natasha tells Yuri that there are things he has yet to master - like tactics. With that, she fires her widow’s sting at the Griffin, declaring that no good commander would leave his pilot uncovered. ‘Cripes! She shot out the master control!’ the Griffin snarls, informing everyone that they are going into a dive.
The Crimson Dynamo goes up behind the Black Widow and grabs her, before ordering the Griffin to radio the submarine that awaits them and tell them to surface and pick them up here. The Griffin picks up the radio and tells the Crimson Dynamo that he will do it, but he doesn’t like it, reminding him that they are still inside the three-miles limit. ‘And while I don’t mind fighting superheroes, the feds are something else!’ Moments later, a submarine rises from the ocean.
Shortly, the Crimson Dynamo, carrying Darkstar and the Black Widow, the Titanium Man carrying Ivan Petrovich, and the Griffin carrying Alexi Bruskin, land on the submarine, with the Crimson Dynamo telling the captain that he has done well. ‘I will see you are cited for’ he assures him. ‘Spare me, comrade! I only do as I am ordered!’ the captain replies, before remarking that he disapproves of these witch-hunts instigated by forces within their government. Suddenly, one of the other soldiers alerts his captain to a fast-approaching American fighter. ‘It has seen us!’ he exclaims.
The submarine proceeds to fire at the jet, whose passengers consist of the male members of the Champions. ‘Look out, Bobby! They’re firing at us!’ Warren exclaims. Bobby avoids the blasts, remarking that this aircraft is slower than an x-plane, but that it still moves. ‘It got us here - but we better get down there before the sub dives!’ Angel adds. Moments later, Hercules leaps from the jet, while Iceman creates an ice-sled for he and Ghost Rider to get down to the sub, while Angel flies himself down. Bobby asks Hercules if he is sure he knows what he is doing, to which Hercules replies ‘Aye, lad - Hercules is sure!’, as he then drops down on the Titanium Man.
‘They’ve escaped! The Champions are here!’ the Griffin exclaims as Ghost Rider snares him in his hellfire. Angel tells his teammates to keep their foes busy, but to find the Black Widow also. Hercules can’t though, as he forces the Titanium Man into the water, remarking that the Titanium Man felled him last time. Back on the submarine, Angel spies the Black Widow, still held prisoner in the arms of the Crimson Dynamo. ‘There she is! The Dynamo’s got her!’ Warren declares. ‘And the Dynamo shall keep her!’ Yuri retorts as he fires a blast of energy at Angel. ‘Some heroes! This is like shooting fish in a barrel!’ the Griffin boasts as he throws Iceman across the submarine.
Darkstar calls out to Bruskin, informing him that the Champions dare not fight at full strength so long as Yuri holds the Black Widow prisoner. ‘Then Yuri must be made to let her go!’ Bruskin then grabs a soldier from behind and steals his rifle - which he uses to pelt the Crimson Dynamo in the back. This causes Yuri to lose his hold over the Black Widow, ‘Bruskin, you are a fool!’ he exclaims, spinning around, he fires a beam of energy at Bruskin, telling him that he will soon be a dead fool.
Suddenly, Darkstar traps Yuri in a Darkforce field, telling him that if he knew the truth, he would understand the act he just committed. ‘But knowing your ignorance - I know now that you are no more than a cold-blooded murderer!’ Laynia tells her boyfriend. ‘And though we two have shared love - now will you face the power of Darkstar!’ the glamorous blonde exclaims. ‘Laynia! My love, no!’ Yuri pleads.
One of the soldiers informs his captain that the commissar was not slain by the Dynamo’s blast, and motions to where Bruskin is reaching for a grenade from a fallen soldier. ‘Bruskin! I beg of you, comrade - stop!’ the captain exclaims. ‘I’m afraid I can’t do that’ Bruskin replies as he picks up the grenade - but, before he can throw it, the captain shoots him in the back. ‘Then, forgive me, old comrade - but I must defend my ship!’ the captain remarks. Bruskin collapses, replying that he understands, but that he has so much to make up for. ‘So much…pain caused to those who were to be the vanguard of the revolution. ‘we are…old, captain - but they deserve their time to…try!’. But, Bruskin drops the grenade, and explodes on the part of the submarine where he fell.
‘I don’t get it - who was that guy?’ Iceman asks after the explosion. Angel points out that the Widow and Ivan seemed to know him, only they don’t look like they want to talk about it right now. At that moment, Hercules emerges from the water, with the Titanium Man as his prisoner. Hercules exclaims that it would appear the blackguards are all but vanquished, while Ghost Rider once more traps the Griffin in his powers, enabling Iceman to trap the Griffin in a solid pillar of ice. ‘Back to the spook-routine, huh? Oh well, it’s your scene! I won’t knock it!’ Bobby tells Blaze.
Darkstar stands over the Crimson Dynamo and informs Ivan Petrovich that his son is down. ‘Tell me what I am to do with him!’ Laynia exclaims. ‘Kid, I -’ Ivan begins to reply, but pauses, and turns a way, tears falling from his eyes. ‘Comrade! You must decide! I am his lover! How can I?’ Darkstar pleads. ‘You’re gonna have to, kid! I don’t even know him! It’s been too many years!’ Ivan replies, telling Laynia that if Yuri has any good points, she will know them better than he ever will. ‘Do what ya want with him, kid. I just don’t care any more’. A desperate Darkstar is forced to release the Crimson Dynamo, who immediately takes off skyward, shouting back ‘Fools! You haven’t seen the last of the Crimson Dynamo!’
Later, Darkstar uses her phenomenal power to carry Iceman, Black Widow, Ghost Rider and Ivan Petrovich in a bubble, while the Titanium Man and Griffin are held in a bond attached to the bubble, with Hercules watching over them and Angel flying alongside Darkstar. Angel remarks that he hope someone has an explanation for what went on back there - for why the Crimson Dynamo was allowed to escape. Natasha remarks that there was a side of this battle known to only a few of them, and tells Angel that he must trust that what they did was right, and that maybe someday all of them will learn.
Darkstar thanks the Black Widow, ‘I hope I will prove worthy of that trust!’ Laynia adds. ‘Swell! The team for the “common man” now even keeps secrets from itself! Maybe you were right, Ivan! Maybe the Champions are a bust!’ Ghost Rider snarls at Ivan, who says nothing, his eyes hooded by a mask which will take years to draw away. The rest of the trip back to Los Angeles is made in silence….