“The first method for estimating the intelligence of a ruler is to look at the men he has around him.” – Niccolo Machiavelli
While he sits in a meeting of the Dark Avengers, Daken thinks to himself that meetings are the domain of small men. Nothing is ever accomplished but that’s not the point of meetings. A meeting is about dominance and submission. A meeting is about territory. A meeting is about punishment. Because the only way to keep a strong man in line is to make him believe he has to be. Put him in a room with other strong men who believe that too, and there you have a prison. Men who police themselves. Men, who anywhere else would not give a damn. Men who now hate it when one of their own disobeys because all of them suffer for it.
During the meeting itself, Ares angrily states that they should have done something, fought them, killed them. Venom (Spider-Man) agrees and says damn straight. Moonstone (Ms. Marvel) utters ‘straight as an arrow.’ Norman Osborn informs his team that you don’t kill the Fantastic Four. You use them like they did tonight. He adds that the Fantastic Four came off as antagonistic thugs, while they, with their measured political response were the professionals. By any standard, their confrontation went incredibly well.
Ares, angrily replies that he respectfully disagrees. Osborn calmly replies of course he does. But that’s not why he’s there. Under his breath, Venom remarks Jesus, just spank them and get it over with. He’s missing late nite. Osborn says to his team that they want a confrontation, all of them do. And they’ll get one. They’ll have satisfaction, but on their terms, so it serves their purposes – and only when he says so. Moonstone speaks up and says okay, fine. But the next time he and Bullseye decide to set up a P.R. stunt, let them know. They have that right.
Noh-Varr (Captain Marvel) adds that he also doesn’t like being kept in the dark, they’re not children. Gritting his teeth, Osborn tells them that those in this room are his. And if there was a plan, those who would need to know would damn well know. He then tells them to go and get out of there.
As Osborne’s Avengers begin to file out, Moonstone stops Daken. Putting his hand on Moonstone’s shoulder, Daken tells her that she looks tired. Moonstone says it’s not that, she just… Whispering in her ear, Daken tells her that it’s all right not to like him, not even a little. Moonstone proceeds to ask if it’s that obvious. Daken tells her that he should treat her better, she’s a brilliant woman. Moonstone then asks him what his thoughts are about this whole mess. Was it a set-up or is Bullseye going rogue? Daken replies that she thinks it’s a set-up. Moonstone says that it makes sense. What other possible reason would Bullseye have for trying to start a fight with the Fantastic Four. Daken tells her simple, he’s insane. And he’s trying to set him up.
At that moment, Osborn asks Daken to speak with him in private. Once the door is closed, Osborn says to Daken that he has some questions. He says to him that his father was trained as a samurai and asks if he was as well? Daken answers affirmatively. Osborn adds that he also happens to know that samurai are experienced horsemen and archers. He then asks if he is good with a bow. Daken tells him yes, actually. After a period of silence, Osborn points out to Daken that he walked out of the room with one of Bullseye’s arrows. Daken responds that he was barely walking because, if he’ll recall, the arrow was sticking out of his chest. Osborn says ok, so Bullseye is setting him up. He wonders why he would be out to get him. Daken tells Osborn ‘he’s not out to get me, he’s out to get you.’ With that, Daken walks out.
At Fantastic Four headquarters, the Thing tells his fellow teammates that they should’a kicked their butts. When the Johnny agrees, Reed informs them that the last thing they need with the Avengers is a public battle. For better or for worse, Osborn and his… After Sue interjects ‘thugs,’ Reed finishes his thought that they have been legitimized – they are the law. Johnny remarks that the law can kiss his burning white rear end. Ben jokes that he has cream for that.
Sue then tells Reed that Osborn was goading them, hoping they would fight them. He wants to ruin them but the only way he can do that is by hurting their reputation, destroying how the public sees them. Reed tells her that “it takes many good deeds to build a reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.” Sue tells him wow, quoting Ben Franklin. He knows how much that turns her on.
Wrapping his arm around Sue, Reed tells her that they can’t let Osborn drag them into a street fight. Even if they win, they would lose. Sue adds and they would be on the wrong side of the law. Not that that ever stopped them before. As they embrace, a voice behind them asks if they might make a suggestion. Turning around, the Fantastic Four see Daken standing there. Daken then asks ‘or should he have called first.’
At that moment an enraged Ben charges towards Daken, ignoring Reed’s protest in the process. When Daken dodges his punch, he remarks to Ben ‘I think you like me.’ Continuing his assault, Ben tells him that he thinks he’s gonna have to rip him a new one. Each time he takes a swing however, Daken deftly dodges each of his blows. Eventually, Ben gets Daken in a reverse bear-hug. Daken then says to him to admit it, he enjoys touching his body. Or maybe he just wishes it were the Human Torch standing there, instead of him.
At that moment, Ben picks up Daken by the back of the head and slams him face first into the floor. Before he can deliver the killing blow, Reed yells at him to stop. In flames, Johnny punches Ben and tells him to stop as this isn’t him. With wide eyes, Ben tells him ‘don’t tell me, don’t tell me who…’
As he calms down, Ben is shocked by his actions. Leaning down, Johnny tells Daken to hold still while Reed goes and gets the first aid kit. Daken tells Johnny that he’s fine and that he just needs a minute. Ben then walks over and tells Daken that he’s sorry. Daken tells him not to be; it’s his fault. Besides, people have unexpected reactions around him. Reed remarks that they know about him, Logan warned them. Daken replies of course he did. He also supposes that he told them not to trust him. Reed responds that he wanted them to know who was beneath the mask.
Crossing her arms, Sue adds and that they shouldn’t trust him. Daken replies that he has his reasons, they’ve never gotten along. But he’s not there because of him. Johnny asks him that he was just taking a walk in the park, how did he get past their security? Sue asks how he made it within a few feet of them. Ben then whispers to Reed that he doesn’t like this. He’s one of them. Don’t matter if he’s Logan’s son, somethin’ ain’t right. Turning his attention to Daken, Reed says to him that he came there into their home uninvited. Some people would call that a threat. But he gave up that advantage. He assumes he has a good reason? As Daken looks up at him non-threatening, Reed tells him that by all means they want to hear it.
On an adjacent rooftop, Bullseye, in street clothes, looks through a video camera and binoculars. As he utters ‘gotcha, you little bastard,’ the Iron Patriot arrives and asks him if he cares to explain what he means by that. Or why he’s panting at the door of the very last people he should be seen near. Caught, Bullseye tells Osborn that frankly, he’s a hell of a lot more noticeable than he is. Osborn points out that none of his belongings impaled a member of the Fantastic Four. So let him rephrase this another way – why the %$&# is he there?
Bullseye tells him because he’s doing him a favor and following Daken, keeping tabs on that psycho. Removing his helmet, Osborn says to him that’s funny, he’s been doing the same to him. Bullseye angrily says to him that he can’t believe he’s buying Daken’s line. He’s setting him up. Calmly, Osborn asks him why he would do that. Bullseye tells him because he’s insane. He used his arrow to start a fight, making it look like he was the one who shot the Torch. But that didn’t work so now he’s… Osborn cuts him off and finishes his thought for him – he’s being followed by him. He then asks Bullseye to give him a real reason why Daken would set him up. Why would he waste his time on him? Bullseye replies because it’s not him he’s after. Daken is out to get him, he tells Osborn. After hearing that comment, Osborn looks up and stares at Bullseye.
Inside the Baxter Building, Daken tells the members of the Fantastic Four that they must know that Norman Osborn is going to go down sooner or later. All the power he thinks he has is built on nothing but sand. Sue replies and he doesn’t want to go down with him. Ben adds the rat leaves the sinking ship. Daken replies maybe or maybe he wants to get out before he becomes someone he doesn’t want to be. Ben remarks gimme a break.
Reed agrees, he understood what he was getting into when he joined Norman Osborn. Sue adds that he’s also the oldest man in the room. What is he – sixty, seventy – most of them know themselves at half that age. Daken asks do they really? They can stand there and tell him they never wonder at the decisions they’ve made. No regrets, no second guesses? Well, they must be more than human. He adds that he never knew his father. He was raised to be someone different than him. And now he’s supposed to be him. He never asked for that but when the opportunity found him he was curious. He wanted to know what it was like to have people look at him and see his father.
When Johnny asks him what it was like, Daken replies painful and illuminating. He’s not him, never will be. But he doesn’t want to be like them either. He doesn’t want to be one of Osborn’s things. He wants out but he can’t just leave the Avengers. There’s no walking away from Osborn, not without help. After Ben states that he better be kiddin’, Daken tells him that things have already gone too far. A confrontation between them and the Avengers is inevitable. Osborn is setting it up, or trying to. He’ll succeed eventually. But when that happens, they’ll have an inside man if they’ll have him. With that, Daken extends his hand in friendship to Reed.
Outside, Bullseye informs Osborn that Daken is selling him out. Osborn asks is that so and asks what about him. At that moment, he points his arm missile at Bullseye’s head. Bullseye then tells Osborn that Daken is with the Fantastic Four right now, he has proof – his video camera.
Inside the Baxter Building, Ben puts his hand over his face and remarks what a revoltin’ development. Daken then tells Reed that he won’t regret this. Reed replies yes he will but he thinks he might regret the alternative even more. Just then, Daken gets a text message from Osborn that says “Tell Reed I said hi.” Daken then tells the Fantastic Four that Osborn has called a meeting and that he has to go. Reed replies that what he needs is medical attention. Daken remarks what he needs is more blood. He’s been followed there, he’s certain of it. Osborn is too paranoid to let any of his Avengers loose without a chaperone. If he allows him to simply walk out of there, he’ll know something’s wrong. Ben then replies to his new buddy that he thinks he has an answer to his problem and proceeds to crack his knuckles.
Out on the rooftop, Bullseye asks Osborn that Daken actually replied? Osborn admits that he did but that the message was for him. He said to be ready with the camera. Just then, a bloodied Daken is tossed out of the front window of the Baxter Building. Looming over him, the Thing angrily tells him that, if he ever comes back, it’ll be twice as bad. Bullseye is in shock, but Osborn says that this is perfect.