Presiding over the judge’s seat in the Squadron Supreme’s courtroom, Nighthawk sits in front of the statue of the Lady Justice, and brings down his gavel. He addresses the Exiles, who sit at the defendant’s table, all wearing power inhibiting collars. Power Princess leads the prosecution, and Doctor Spectrum stands to the right of Nighthawk, acting as the bailiff. Whizzer, Skymax, Hyperion and Amphibian seat themselves in the back, to watch the proceedings.
Nighthawk tells the Exiles that they are accused of crimes against nature, history, and the human race. Their penalty is life imprisonment. How do they plead?
Annoyed, Blink gets up and tells the Squadron Supreme that they must be kidding. They are wasting time here, as the real criminal is running free. Whatever “Hulk” told them about the Exiles was a lie. In fact, that man is not the Hulk, but rather a body-snatching killer named Proteus.
Hyperion speaks up and tells Blink that Proteus claimed they were the problem, and, considering the circumstances he first met them under, Hyperion is inclined to believe Proteus. Nighthawk brings down his gavel to stop the bickering and announces that they are there to find the truth before the Global Directorate attacks them again. The Exiles must now enter their plea.
Blink, extremely angered now, tells Nighthawk that she refuses to play along with their games. The Squadron has no right to put these inhibitor collars on them, much less pass judgment on them. Power Princess tells Blink to show respect, as she stands in the High Judicial Temple of her people. There is no place better suited than to decide their guilt. Nighthawk reminds Zarda that no one is guilty yet but, whether the Exiles like it or not, a verdict will be reached. Doctor Spectrum speaks up and informs the Exiles that, in case they have any other friends out there waiting to crash the party, they will find that the whole temple is on lockdown thanks to a force field. Only the truth will free the Exiles.
Sabretooth asks the Squadron why they bother with this kangaroo court when it is clear that they have made up their minds. Skymax gets up and tells Sabretooth that they will give the Exiles a fair hearing. Their league exists to serve justice. Nighthawk gains the attention of everyone again, when he calls Hyperion to the stand.
Hyperion takes a seat at the stand and begins his story. He first knew of the Exiles when Beak appeared out of thin air and asked him to save them. Morph gets up and angrily asks Nighthawk if he isn’t going to swear Hyperion in first. Doctor Spectrum tells Morph that the man is Hyperion. He doesn’t lie. At all. Secondly, if anyone lies on stand his Power Prism will find out.
Hyperion continues and explains that Beak had teleported him to the headquarters of the dimension-hopping team he was forced to join. He said that their missions changed the course of history in each universe they visit. However, the Exiles lost control of their headquarters to an evil, twisted Hyperion. It took him and another good Hyperion to defeat the evil one. Power Princess then calls for the record to show that the Exiles recklessly endangered the entire multiverse by giving access to every reality to a tyrant. Noted, says Nighthawk.
While the proceedings continue, Sabretooth whispers into the Tallus for Heather to beam them out of this place.
Heather hears Sabretooth’s call and tells him that she is trying to get them out of there, but the building’s shield is quite effective. She can see them, but she can’t get a teleporter lock on them.
Nighthawk turns to Hyperion and clarifies that Hyperion was in the Exiles’ headquarters and had the power to shut them down after seeing the threat they posed. Instead, he trusted Beak, a high school student, to remain as the Exiles’ “moral compass.” Hyperion looks at Nighthawk and tells him that he knows it looks bad, but he sensed a rare strength of character in Beak. Maybe that is why they forced him out, suggests Nighthawk. Angry, Morph calls out that Beak wasn’t forced to do anything.
Heather watches as Nighthawk tells Morph to quiet down until it is his turn to testify. He then tells Hyperion to step down. Annoyed, Heather tells the Timebreakers that this is ridiculous and that they have to punch through the shields. One of the Timebreakers tells her that the shield is powered by the Power Prism, and no known counter-measure is known. Heather then asks for more information on the Squadron Supreme. There must be something they can use.
Morph is called to the stand, and is immediately asked if there was no coercion amongst the Exiles. Nobody was forced, replies Morph. Doctor Spectrum then announces that Morph is lying, as the Power Prism indicates. Angry, Nighthawk warns Morph that if he lies again he will be found guilty on the spot. Morph then admits that they were pushed into this whole operation at the very beginning. A man named the Timebroker took them from their homes and told them that they could not return until they fixed a bunch of broken realities.
Curious, Nighthawk asks Morph if the residents of these realities asked for the help of the Exiles. Morph tells the court that they didn’t. Most of them were not aware of the threat against them. Nighthawk then asks if the same group of Exiles gathered in the beginning is the same group here today. Morph looks at his current teammates and admits that the line-up has changed a lot.
Continuing, Nighthawk asks if the Exiles have always had a positive effect on the worlds they have visited. I’d like to think so, says Morph at first, but then he thinks about his encounter with Mojo, and the recent adventure where they killed Ego, the Living Planet; Morph then lowly replies that they probably have not had a positive effect on all realities.
Sabretooth slams his fist on the table and yells for someone to take Morph off the stand, as he is getting it all wrong. What the Exiles do isn’t fun or pretty but he won’t let them be smeared. Nighthawk orders Sabretooth to quiet down, but the mutant refuses to quiet down and refuses to apologize for saving worlds. Nighthawk then asks his bailiff, Doctor Spectrum, to muzzle Sabretooth. Using his Power Prism, Spectrum does just that, and creates a muzzle made of light around Sabretooth. Blink angrily tells Spectrum to remove the muzzle. Spider-Man then reminds the Squadron that Sabretooth wouldn’t have had to speak out if they had a lawyer.
Heather and the Timebreakers watch the live feed as Blink tries to calm down Sabretooth, whose muzzle is causing him to go into feral mode. She listens as Spider-Man asks what kind of trial is this if they don’t have a lawyer. Hearing this comment, Heather mentions that this statement is especially true when it is combined with the dirt she found on the Squadron Supreme. If only she could get down there.
One of the Timebreakers tells Heather to consider an alternative. Such as? questions Hudson. Recruit new Exiles, explains the brilliant Timebreaker. Heather explains to the Timebreaker that she just wants to talk to the Squadron, not launch another attack. Understanding, the Timebreaker than suggests she uses the interface they used with her. Heather reminds the bugs that only Sabretooth can hear the Tallus and he can’t exactly pass on information right now. Not the Tallus, says the bug, the other interface. Of course, says Heather, hitting herself in the head.
Sabretooth leaps onto the table and knocks Spider-Man off his perch on the railing. Angry, Blink tells the Squadron that, if they take off his muzzle, Sabretooth will calm down. Before the Squadron can respond, Sabretooth leaps at Nighthawk, but Whizzer speeds by and grabs Creed by his ankle, slamming him down to the ground. Nighthawk leaps up and tells the Exiles that he has seen enough. He handcuffs Sabretooth and tells them that if this is how they solve problems, then he has no problem finding them guilty. At that moment, Spectrum announces that he is sensing energy readings.
Blink is surprised to see the Timebroker materialize in the courtroom. The Timebroker apologizes to Nighthawk for being late, but he is the legal counsel. Doctor Spectrum states that no one could have gotten through his energy dome. If it’s any consolation, replies the Timebroker, he isn’t really here. The Timebroker then turns to Blink and tells her that it is Heather, for she couldn’t come down in person. Power Princess tells Heather that she objects to the intrusion, but the tiny Timebroker tells the giant Power Princess that she objects to her hypocrisy. How dare the Squadron accuse the Exiles when they are guilty of much worse!
Blink asks Heather to explain what the Squadron has done, but Heather has a better idea – she will show them. Heather then accesses the Tallus, which releases whips of energy that streak into the eyes of the Exiles and into their minds! Worried, Power Princess demands to know what is happening. Heather calms the Princess down and explains that she is not hurting the Exiles, for the device on Sabretooth is a communications device. Right now they are seeing the deeds of the past that the Squadron are covering up.
The Exiles learn of how the Squadron swore to protect a world that was then devastated by the power of the Serpent Crown. Society collapsed, so the Squadron imposed order and had a plan for a utopia. They used a behavior modification device to turn bad guys into good guys. Swapping freedom for security seemed like a good idea at the time. They sold their ideals.
The original Nighthawk did not sell out, though. He died trying to stop them, which forced the Squadron to face what they had become. They left the world and when they returned they found it under martial law. The new government, the Global Directorate, doesn’t want the Squadron back. Now they are hunted by a regime that used their behavior modification devices to brainwash people into Blue Eagle soldiers. If the Squadron tries to depose the government, they only prove what a bunch of power-grabbing super-jerks they are.
Defending his team, Hyperion explains that the people voted for the Global Directorate. Power Princess explains that they cannot just overthrow them by force. They must show the public the wrongdoings of the Directorate and regain public support. Having enough of this, Blink tells Heather that she has seen enough. Now it is time for the Squadron to see who they are.
Heather then programs the Tallus to show the Squadron images of the Exiles. She tells the team to calm down, as this isn’t brainwashing. These are just images. The Squadron then sees images of Thunderbird battling Galactus, Mimic versus Namor, Sunfire and Blink versus techno-organic monsters, Morph battling the Impossible Man, and Nocturne and Mimic squaring off against vampire versions of Captain America and Hawkeye.
Heather explains that the team can decide for themselves what they think, but they should know that the Exiles have sacrificed everything to save each reality. They didn’t ask for this job, nor have they been gentle all the time, but the Squadron cannot argue with the results. So far they have saved more than fifty flawed universes from collapse. She doesn’t know how many billions of lives have been saved, but she would be damned to have the Squadron come around and claim that it was nothing.
In disbelief, Spectrum tells the others that this cannot be true. No, says Nighthawk. This was real. He felt it in his bones. Amphibian agrees. Power Princess notices distress in Hyperion, and asks Mark if he is ok. No, admits Hyperion. The Exiles save world after world, but the Squadron cannot even save their world. Heather tells Hyperion that she did not show him this to belittle them. She has an unfair advantage. Her master computer can tell her things about his world that he couldn’t possibly know – like how the Global Directorate engineered worldwide voter fraud and stole the last election.
At the Global Directorate World Headquarters, the rulers of this world discuss the Hulk, who recently aided the Squadron Supreme. One wonders why there is not record of the green monster in their registry. Another explains that Blue Eagle intelligence indicates he is from a parallel world that the Squadron has discovered. Suddenly, the Exiles and Squadron Supreme teleport in!
Hyperion tells the Directorate to switch those monitors they are viewing to the news. Right now every major network is broadcasting the data they sent them about how the Directorate rigged the last election! The Squadron detains the Directorate, and Power Princess berates them for accusing the Squadron of the same crimes that the Directorate was committing! You can’t prove that, argues one of the Directorate. Nighthawk explains that they already have, as their sources have access to all of the Directorates’ secrets. The people will get a real election this time around.
Seeing that their duty is done, Blink tells her team that it is time to go. Hearing this, Hyperion tells them not to leave so fast. Someone from the Squadron needs to accompany them. Proteus is too great a threat to fight alone. He is going with them. The rest of the Squadron are shocked, but Power Princess tells Hyperion no. Hyperion explains that he has to go. The Exiles need someone to look over their shoulders. He can ensure that they defeat Proteus the right way. Zarda, however, argues that his duty is to the people of this world. They need Hyperion more than ever. However, they can do without her for a while.
Blink crosses her arms, and tells the Squadron that they might want to ask the Exiles if they are looking for a new member. The answer, by the way, is “no.”
Power Princess approaches Blink and explains that she does not age and has five centuries of combat experience and she is stronger than all the Exiles combined. The sooner she helps them catch Proteus, the sooner the Exiles can go back to saving worlds. Also, it will be sooner for her to punish Proteus for setting them against one another.
Unimpressed with Power Princess, and still upset at the delay to chase Proteus, Blink tells her new teammate not to make her regret this. The Exiles are then teleported out of this reality.
Hyperion then turns to the others and tells them that they have to make sure Power Princess has a world worth coming back to.