Two months ago
This Earth’s Hulk was launched into space (much like 616), and he wasn’t very happy about it. Warriors of Annihilus captured him while he floated through the expansive universe. Annihilus gave him two choices: join him or die. Hulk made his own choice and killed him. He then took control of the Annihilation Wave and turned it towards Earth. The mightiest heroes on the planet went on the offensive and were all killed, most of them not even reaching Hulk’s vessel. The last hero alive was Wolverine, but after going toe to toe with the green brute he was never seen again. With no further obstacles, the Annihilation Wave was unleashed on Earth.
With millions dead, including most of the superhumans on the planet only a handful of young and inexperienced heroes remain. Quentin Quire, who peers out his basement window at the roving insects, leads the most powerful group.
Sophie calls out to him from the bed, a bit rattled. Quentin moves toward her. He asks if she had another dream and if she’s ok. She cradles her arms around his neck and tells him it was a good dream, that there’s help coming. Sophie gives him permission to check around in her head if he wants to see for himself.
Quentin cranes his neck backward taking in her whole face when he asks if she’s sure. She smiles in the affirmative and cautions him against spending too much time in her mind. He asks if she’s been fantasizing about Speedball again. She semi-jokingly threatens to hit him.
Quentin pops inside and sees a hazy outline of a group of figures. Sophie tells him they need to find them and bring them to them.
What’s left of Earth’s young heroes are located in some sort of meeting room. First there’s Quentin Quire, aka Kid Omega, followed by Patriot, Speedball, Sophie, the Cuckoos (Mindee and Esme), Lightspeed and Wiccan. Quentin is finishing up his story of the heroes that help realities in trouble and how they need to get their attention. Quire explains he’s going to find them in the dimensional stream and make them come to their reality. All Quentin needs is some help and every member of his eager audience volunteers.
Quentin lays out the plan. He, Wiccan, Sophie and the Cuckoos will head over to Xavier’s while the other three stand watch. He admits it might leave them open to the Hulk’s scanners, but hopes they have enough time. While there Sophie will connect them all with Cerebra, then they’ll open up a dimensional gateway and then it’s off to find the heroes. “Piece of cake,” he concludes.
Xavier’s Institute (or what’s left of it)
Kid Omega gets to work on what’s left of Cerebra. He eventually gets it to work causing Wiccan to ask for the next step in the plan. Sophie explains Quentin keyed the machine to hook up with her dream powers in order to track the heroes down. Then the Cuckoos and her will use their symbiotic nature to help combine all of their powers and focus them on Quentin.
Quentin removes himself from Cerebra and tells Wiccan that with his reality-warping powers he will hopefully be able to tap into the location of the heroes, at which point he (Quentin) will be transported there. Wiccan asks when he thought all this up. This morning, Quentin replies. Wiccan puts his hands to his head and exclaims they’re doomed.
Quentin tells him Rachel Summers was able to accomplish the same feat and she even taught a class on it at Xavier’s. Wiccan’s expression brightens and then asks why he just doesn’t send himself back in time to prevent the Hulk from being sent into space. As Quentin attaches the Cerebra helmet to his head he explains that he needs a temporal anchor, which would be Sophie’s dream, which would connect him to the portal she witnessed. He also adds he has no idea how to go back in time. Wiccan questions him on how he would know how to do this. Sophie tells Wiccan to zip it before he freaks Quentin out.
Quentin leans forward to give Sophie a kiss, but just then Lightspeed comes flying into the room warning them of a wave of bugs that have descended nearby. Quentin calls for the abort so they can escape. Sophie refuses. Quentin tells her he’s not going to leave her and that they’ll find a way to do it later. Sophie still refuses to go. She wants these heroes.
Quentin is adamant against it, but then Wiccan chimes in about the fate of the world and how this might be their opportunity to save it. The Cuckoos come rushing into the room in agreement with Wiccan’s thoughts. Sophie tells Quentin to sit down and shut up, which he does. She establishes the link, blood dripping out her mouth, nose and eyes. Quentin asks if she’s ok, but she just tells him to focus on the portal. Quentin then disappears, but not before telling Sophie to run if she can and that he’ll find her when he comes back. The four would-be heroes stare in somber silence at the chair from which Quentin disappeared.
Quentin drops from out of a dark, spinning vortex and lands against the hard, rough surface of Xavier’s Institute. However, this is not the same place he was mere seconds ago for before him is a Para militaristic-looking version of himself. The Quentin Quire of this universe takes a hit from his Kick inhaler and orders Beak to kick in his gene-trash skull.
Beak charges, bat in hand. Glob Herman stands on the sidelines hoping to get in on the action. When Beak readies to take a swing at his leader’s “freaky twin” he receives a blow to the neck. A mystery voice calls out, “You know it’s against the law to use your powers, especially for evil.” With Beak lying on the ground Glob asks what they should do. Quentin orders him to kill the “fake me” and “Night-chump.”
Glob flames up and charges Quentin. Q picks up Beak’s bat in defense. In flies Nighthawk and he takes out Glob. Evil-Quentin pulls out a gun and aims it straight at Good-Quentin. Good-Quentin tries reasoning with him, but Nighthawk takes the more direct approach, crushing Evil-Quentin’s forearm like a smushed banana. He then pulls out some sort of aerosol spray and remarks on Quentin’s wasted, drug-addled brain.
Nighthawk tells the remaining Quentin he thinks he was sent to meet him. Quentin explains he’s on a quest to find a team of heroes that travel to different realities righting wrongs. Nighthawk points at the giant statue next to them and assumes he’s referring to them, or at least the thing on his wrist tells him that. Nighthawk assures him they won’t be found on his planet, as he’s searched. Quentin asks how he’ll find them then. Nighthawk doesn’t know, but explains what happened when they visited his world.
Nighthawk relates the story of the evil superhuman named Hyperion who was thwarted by the Exiles. He explains he was a boy at the time and pulled the pale one, a shape-changer, out of some wreckage, and then never saw them again.
Afterwards, with most of the heroes dead from their battles with Hyperion, the villains took over and within a year the United States outlawed all powers. Despite the law most of the big cities were overrun with mutants or genetically engineered bad guys fighting over turf. He further explains that’s the reason he took the name Nighthawk and took up patrolling the city trying to keep people safe.
Quentin asks why he hasn’t been arrested if all powers are outlawed. Nighthawk explains he doesn’t have any powers. Quire can’t believe it and asks why he does it. Nighthawk tells him it’s the right thing to do.
As the rain pours down Quentin restates the fact the Exiles aren’t around anymore. Not for the last nine years, Nighthawk admits. He then pulls something out of his pocket and explains the guy who sacrificed himself killing Hyperion was wearing it. He had found it in the rubble after hearing someone calling out from it, but after picking it up it never spoke again. That is until an hour ago, when it told Nighthawk that someone was coming to retrieve it and to meet him right where they’re standing. He hands it over and Quentin thanks him. He starts to question what good the device will do for him, but is teleported away mid-sentence. Nighthawk is left behind to wish him well. He stares up at the Exiles’ statue and hopes maybe Quentin will come back someday to help.
V-Day Remembrance Park
Quentin reappears in the middle of an outdoor memorial center. The Tallus speaks to him much to his surprise. It tells Quentin he has many tasks to accomplish. He brings the Tallus closer, explaining he doesn’t have time for tasks. He has to save his friends. The Tallus tells him he will meet the Exiles if he does as asked and will be able to save his friends. Quentin agrees.
Q asks what his first mission will be. The Tallus tells him to grab the nearby flowers and place them on a grave. He’s shocked at so simple a mission. The Tallus tells him it’s the first step. Quentin does as asked and then inquires as to the grave. The Tallus directs him to Mariko Yashida’s grave. He asks the Tallus who she was and learns of her status as a former Exile who sacrificed herself in the line of duty.
A woman approaches from behind and asks if she knows him. When Quentin replies in the negative she asks if he knew Mariko. After another “no” Mary introduces herself and tells him it’s nice of him to leave flowers. Quentin introduces himself to which Mary points out he’s soaking wet. Thinking quickly, Quentin blames it on kids with water balloons.
Luke Cage saddles over and asks Mary if she’s ready for the ceremony. She tells him to can the “I’m in charge tone” since it’s been a long time since they’ve been heroes, what, with all the Vi-Locks gone and not enough people left in the world for anyone to want to conquer it. She then introduces him to Quentin and points out his wrist. Luke is surprised to see the Tallus.
Quentin backs off, getting the feeling he’s intruding on something here. Cage offers his hand, assuming Quire’s an Exile, and tells him if it weren’t for the Exiles the whole place would be a Vi-Lock hive. Mary further explains that after they found a vaccine it was all downhill and that the last Vi-Lock was killed a year ago. She asks how Morph, Nocturne and Blink are doing. Quentin admits he doesn’t know and that he’s currently looking for them. He tells them the Tallus told him to lay the flowers down on the grave. Luke offers to tell him the story of Mariko and her heroic deeds.
Cage relates the time when Sunfire and Nocturne were sent back to their world, separated for some reason from the rest of the Exiles. They were in some hairy stuff taking out a Vi-Lock nest in Montana. He was knocked out by a Vi-Lock Colossus and while unconscious was being infected by another. Instead of taking the easier route of getting Cage back to base and administering the vaccine Sunfire blasted both him and the Vi-Lock with her flames, counting on his impervious skin to protect him. Cage adds his lungs were singed and he spent a week in the infirmary.
Mary starts laughing and Luke takes slight offense. She adds how he was singed, naked and swearing up a storm in the back of the quinjet after the battle. “Mariko kept saying she was so mortified, she just wanted to...” she trails off realizing the next word is “die.” She wraps her arms around Luke’s neck and tells him she’s going over to the celebration. Luke’s expression turns somber, informing Quentin how close the two were. He also adds Dr. McCoy, the Beast, spent a lot of time analyzing the Exiles and the way they travel and offers his help in aiding Quentin. Quentin is excited at the prospect, but then abruptly disappears. Luke looks to where Quentin was standing, wishes him luck and tells him to save a few worlds for him.
New Universe reality
Quentin “blinks” into a hangar with various military vehicles positioned throughout. The Tallus tells him it’s time for his next mission. He demands to know why the Tallus did that because those other people were going to help him find the Exiles. The Tallus reminds him they will be delivered as promised and tells him his next mission is to make sure a hero stays on the right path.
Quentin senses a figure looming behind him. Sure enough, someone in giant, crimson armor orders him not to move, that he is in a highly restricted area. Quentin tells the figure he’s not there to hurt them. The person inside the suit doesn’t believe him and asks if he’s a paranormal as the suit detected him as such.
As Quentin is blinded by the armor’s spotlight he replies he’s a mutant with the ability to read minds. He starts talking about the birth of superhumans and how the armor is made to hunt them. The woman inside asks what he’s doing as Quentin continues to peer into her mind. Quentin continues, realizing she came to destroy the armor, the one her father helped create. The girl inside readies the gun in her arm and tells Quentin if his eyes glow again they’ll be glowing for another reason altogether.
Quentin calls her bluff, pointing out she wouldn’t be destroying the armor if she really wanted to hurt him. The woman takes off her helmet and places it in the crook of her arm. She asks Quentin why he doesn’t want her to destroy the armor. After all, it was created to hunt people like him. She doesn’t want the government to use her father’s legacy to hurt people.
Quentin smiles and tells her to steal it instead, and use it to help people. The woman doesn’t like the idea. Quentin explains he knows a bit about hunting robots and tells her she doesn’t have to destroy it. She asks again what she’s supposed to do with it. He tells her to help those who can’t help themselves. She places the helmet back on and tells him he’s crazy, she’s no hero. Just then a couple dozen soldiers storm into the area and tell them they’re under arrest.
With a buttload of M-4 carbines pointed in their direction the two would-be heroes put their hands in the air. One of the men in charge, calling the woman Jenny, tells her to put her hands down. Quentin tells them to go ahead and shoot him. Jenny tells him to be quiet, as she knows what they have planned for him. Suddenly, she grabs him by the arms and takes to the air. She blasts out of the roof and into the nighttime sky.
With Quentin in tow she lands a few miles away. Jenny can’t believe what she just did, but knows her father would have liked it. Jenny takes off her helmet again and asks Quentin what their next move should be. She refers to them as some sort of crazy super-duo. She then introduces herself, Jenny Swenson, and the Spitfire armor. Unfortunately Quentin disappears, causing her to question her sanity.
A rain of gunfire is unleashed as the mutant Wild Child moves about the crags and crevices of the rocky terrain. One of the gun-toting men remarks on the President and Magneto being in bed together, which doesn’t mean they have to sit around and do nothing. It’s time for payback, he adds, for the twenty-some years Apocalypse ruled the nation.
Wild Child uses his enhanced maneuverability to avoid getting hit and even getting the drop on one of the men. He leaps and claws, slicing the man’s neck wide open. The gunman’s last fleeting moments are spent blindly firing his Uzi into the air.
This, however, leaves Wild Child exposed. He takes a bullet to the shoulder. He yells out in pain. But then the other men don droopy expressions and stand motionless. Quentin appears before Wild Child and tells him the men can no longer hurt him as he shut down their minds for a bit. He comments on their non-apropos name “Friends of Humanity” as they don’t seem too friendly.
Quentin asks to see Kyle’s shoulder, but it’s already healed. Quentin remarks it must be nice. He looks at the Tallus on his arm and tells Kyle he was told he could save his friends if he saved him (Kyle), but now he thinks it’s taken too long. A figure appears out of nowhere and tells young Quentin negativity will get him nowhere. Quentin asks the guy who he is. The figure introduces himself as the Timebroker and thanks Quentin for saving his “ferocious little friend.”
Quentin asks after the Exiles. The Timebroker tells Quentin not to worry. Quentin babbles on about his world needing help. A portal appears in front of the ‘Broker and he tells Quentin to step inside and he shall finally receive the help he needs. After Quentin walks through the Timebroker stays behind to ask Wild Child for a favor.
Quentin finds himself within the crystalline confines of the Panoptichron. He senses no other minds, not even from the Timebroker. Quentin brandishes the Tallus and tells the Timebroker he wants to meet the Exiles as promised.
The Timebroker waves his hand and the screens hovering around the computer system light up. The Timebroker tells him he’s already met them. Suddenly on display are the visages of the heroes Quentin’s already interacted with: Nighthawk, Luke Cage, Jenny Swenson and Wild Child. He asks Quentin what he thinks.
Quentin argues those aren’t the Exiles pointing out he saw their monument on Nighthawk’s world. The Timebroker agrees those were some of the original Exiles, but now Quentin has his own team, which he will lead. Quentin is confused and demands to know what he’s talking about.
The Timebroker explains there was a hiccup in his timeline that left his reality compromised. It was an accident, but in order to fix it they need to make some adjustments and he’s getting the right people to help. Quentin points at Nighthawk’s picture and argues he doesn’t have any powers. The Timebroker agrees and adds he’s not promising him anything, only giving him those heroes. Whether they win or lose, the Timebroker finishes, is up to the choices they make.
Quentin stares up at the faces. He can’t believe they agreed to help. The Timebroker reiterates they did and were eager to “crack some skulls” as Luke Cage put it. Quentin smiles for the first time and says, “Then let’s do it. We’ll make things right.”
The Timebroker tells him there’s one more thing. He needs to know that if his team is ever needed they’ll heed the call. Quentin says he’ll do anything if it means saving his world and Sophie. The Timebroker thanks him and sends him off saying, “We’ll be watching.” Quentin asks who the “we” are, but is transported away before he can get an answer.
Patriot is pinned down by one of those nasty bugs. Speedball blasts it through the skull and then pins it up against the wall. Wiccan apologizes for letting that one through, but he doesn’t know how much longer he can hold them back. As a matter of fact the only way out is clogged with insect arms trying to breach the room.
Hopelessness and desperation cloud the young heroes’ minds. Patriot grabs some metal paneling and hoists it up like a shield. He tells Wiccan to let them through. Wiccan can’t believe what he’s saying, but Patriot tells him they have no choice. He wants Wiccan to use whatever’s left of his power to get a few of them out of there and then when the door is unblocked Speedball and Lightspeed will try to get the rest out. Patriot says he’ll be the last to go.
Sophie agrees, but Speedball begs to differ. He doesn’t want to leave anyone behind. Patriot tells him they don’t have much of a choice and orders Wiccan to drop the defensive shield. Wiccan does so and the bugs bust through. Right at that exact moment a thick laser beam blasts right through them. The young heroes look up at their salvation, Quentin and the Exiles.
Blink asks Sabretooth if he thinks it will make a difference. Sabretooth only tells her they gave back the heroes they shouldn’t have lost. Blink asks if they should do more. No, he replies, these heroes were killed during Hulk’s initial assault when they shouldn’t have. They were supposed to be part of an underground resistance with Quentin’s team. Sabretooth adds they can’t be messing with the small stuff anymore. He tells her not to get any ideas anyway since she’s retiring.
Sabretooth adds he’s a bit worried about Spitfire replacing Iron Man. Blink asks how many Tony Starks they’ve ever gotten along with. Sabretooth tells her she has a good point. He then asks why this world was so important to her. Because, she responds, while they were chasing Proteus around different realities they were supposed to save Iron Man and his crew from their fatal ship crash. Sabretooth tells her saving realities isn’t cut and dry. She sharply asks if he learned that while running with the Weapon X crew. No, he tells her, from the Exiles.
Sabes moves towards the computer controls telling Blink she was pretty convincing as the Timebroker. He also can’t believe a guy dressed as a butler convinced them to go around saving realities. Blink is surprised to hear their Timebroker looked differently, adding it must have been Satan himself. He brings up the image of a sexy looking blonde. Blink tells him he must be kidding. Sabretooth tells Blink she was pretty harsh.
Sabes places his hands on Blink’s shoulders and tells her not to worry, that they’ll be there to help them if need be. Blink replies she knows. She turns around and faces her old mentor. He tells her it’s time to rest. She says she hopes she did enough. Sabretooth tells her she did good, real good.