A top-secret US military hangar, somewhere in the Sondran Desert: Two soldiers enter the hangar, ‘Well, rookie, this is it, the USS Prometheus. The crown jewel in Norman Osborn’s HAMMER fleet, or at least, it would have been’ one of the soldiers announces to the other. ‘Would have been?’ the rookie asks.
Standing in the huge abandoned hangar, several smaller jets to one side, the huge Prometheus battleship is dark, silent and overwhelming. ‘Never got off the ground’ the older soldier reveals, adding that all hell broke loose in Broxton and Osborn went cuckoo for coco-puffs before it took its maiden voyage. He explains that it is officially decommissioned, but it is booby trapped, so they have guys working around the clock trying to access the computer systems so they can disarm all the ugly stuff Osborn loaded it up with.
‘Ugly stuff?’ the younger soldier repeats. As they walk up a ramp onto the Prometheus, the older soldier explains that Osborn had it equipped with a bunch of non-sanctioned munitions, chemical ordinance, biological weapons and God only knows what else. He adds that the techs taking it apart don’t really talk much, and he doesn’t ask. ‘Guess we’re lucky we never found out what he was planning to do with it’ the older soldier remarks. ‘Never did trust that guy. I think it was the hair. That was not the hairstyle of a sane man’ the rookie opines. The older soldier touches a panel on console and replies ‘Hell. Yeah, well, you’re about to see just how crazy the dude was. This thing was designed to end the world, near as I can tell’ he smiles.
Suddenly, a door to the Prometheus opens, and four people wearing black and orange clothing appear. They are armed with weapons. ‘Good evening, lads. Welcome to the party’ an older man announces. A blue-skinned man readies his weapon, while another man and a woman stand with them. The blue skinned man fires his weapon, and two darts are shot. They land in the soldiers, who fall to the ground. The older man addresses the blue-skinned man as Brom and tells him to grab the soldiers and put them with the others. ‘Let’s move, people, we’re off the ground in T-minus five!’ he announces, before, via communicator, contacts someone called Bexley and asks him how it is going up there. ‘This bird ready to fly?’ he asks. ‘Almost, Sir. The access codes were on the money. I’m firing up the main engines now’ Bexley replies as he stands over a console.
An instant later, the Prometheus rises up out of the hangar. Inside the control room now, the older man stands with his arms extended and declares ‘Ah, the sweet sound of victory! Good work, mates! You have my deepest gratitude, and more than that, STRIKE owes you a great debt this day’ he adds. The blond man leans against a console and replies ‘Hopefully that means we can come out of the rock we’ve been hiding under for the past five years’. The older man smiles and announces that today is the day STRIKE begins to rebuild in earnest, and, calling the blond man Croydon, adds that after today, they are done hiding and living in the shadows. The Prometheus rises fully out of the hangar and the older man boats that after this STRIKE is going to make them all very, very rich. ‘Bless you Norman Osborn, you bloody lunatic!’ he mutters as the Prometheus takes off across the sky.
Meanwhile, in New York City, Wolverine a.k.a. Logan is the best there is at what he does. And right now, that is dealing to the chaos in the middle of the city. Crows fly overhead. Civilians run in fear. Cars are overturned. Water bursts from a hydrant. Flames pour from one building. Suddenly, a pitchfork is thrown towards Wolverine. It embeds itself in his back, and sticks through his chest. Logan falls to the ground, then reaches behind himself and yanks the pitchfork out of his body. ‘All right, looney-tunes. Playtime’s over’ Logan snarls and turns to his attacker, who lumbers towards him through the crows who are pecking at fallen civilians. ‘You can’t beat me, little man! No one can! I am the new King of Fear! I am the death-bringer, the leviathan, nyarhostep risen!’ the man with a sack over his head boasts.
Crows swarm around him, and he grins from under his sack, ‘You have no idea how powerful I have become! I am a god!’ the lanky man boasts. More crows fly around him, ‘I am the death of hope!’ he shouts, as Logan draws blood, his claws slashing into as many of the crows as possible that dive-bomb him. His jagged teeth can be seen under the sack over his face. One eye is wide, the other glows small. His unkempt hands drawn into a claw-like position, the villain boasts that he is the lullaby for stillborn children, and the bone-dry rattle of a dying breath. ‘Let the streets run red in honor of my coronation! Let all who -’ he begins, before Logan lunges towards him, ‘You talk too much, Scarecrow!’ Logan snarls as he slashes his claws against the Scarecrow’s back.
The Scarecrow collapses to the ground, laughing uncontrollably. Near him is a motionless NYPD officer, who holds a tear-gas canister. ‘Mind if I borrow this, officer?’ Logan asks as he reaches down and picks it up, while opening it, he then grabs the Scarecrow by his sack and tells him to ‘Laugh this off, jackass’ as he shoves the tear-gas canister inside the sack, and the Scarecrow starts coughing. Logan holds his foe by the neck, as a voice calls his name and the X-Man turns to see his girlfriend, Melita Garner approaching him. Police officers move in and take the Scarecrow away, while rescue workers turn their attention to civilians who were attacked by the crows. ‘Hey, darling. Thought you were still back at the Tower’ Logan tells Melita as they hold hands. ‘And miss this show? Not a chance!’ Melita replies, adding that a reporter has to go where the action is, even if she is a currently unemployed reporter.
Logan tells Melita that with the Raft busted open and hammers falling from the sky, he doesn’t guess there is a real shortage of action right now. They walk down the street as Melita reveals that the stuff she has been posting online has blown up, that there aren’t a lot of on-the-ground reporters with the access that she has. Melita informs Logan that she is getting more attention as a freelancer than she ever did when she was a staff reporter, and she is up to over half a million followers on Twitter. ‘I have no idea what that means, but I’ll assume it’s a good thing’ Logan smiles. ‘With all that’s happened, it’s a very good thing’ Melita tells him, before pointing out that people are scared. ‘This is big, isn’t it? Fire and brimstone, the sky-is-falling, end-of-the-world big’ Melita asks. ‘It’s big, not sure just how big yet, but yeah… big’ Logan admits.
Melita remarks that it feels weird being out of town with everything that is going on, like she should be there in case something happens. ‘Maybe I picked a bad time to visit you in New York, or maybe this is just one of those times where it’s hard to be your girlfriend and a reporter’ Melita explains. Logan tells her that he thought about that as well. Logan puts a hand on Melita’s shoulder and pulls her close. He informs her that he can get her a lift home, if she wants. ‘I mean, I’m not trying to get rid of you or anything…fact is, you being nearby makes me worry about you a little less’ Logan admits. Melita tells Logan that if she is being honest, she feels a bit better knowing that he is close - not for her safety, but to know that he is okay. Logan puts a hand on Melita’s face as Melita tells Logan that she is going to have to get used to this part of it, he out saving the world from gods and monsters.
‘As much as you can. Don’t suppose I’ve ever really gotten used to it myself’ Logan replies, before Melita’s phone suddenly rings. She tells Logan that she better take this, and answers. ‘Hello? Yes. Umm…yeah, he’s here’, before she hands her mobile phone to Logan, ‘It’s for you. It’s Captain America. Steve Rogers. I mean…or whatever you call him’ Melita tells him. Logan frowns and puts the phone to his ear. ‘Yeah. Yeah okay. I’ll handle it’ Logan remarks. He hands the mobile phone back to Melita and informs her that some yahoos called STRIKE have hijacked a Helicarrier, that they are headed this way and he is the only Avenger in the immediate area who isn’t otherwise occupied. ‘STRIKE?’ Melita asks. Logan puts his mask back on and informs Melita that they used to be British counter-terrorism, then got taken over by a bad guy before disappearing. ‘Ya know, standard op. And now they’ve apparently reappeared’.
Melita smiles and asks Logan to let her go with him. ‘Honey, with all due respect, no way’ Logan replies. ‘You think I can’t handle myself?’ Melita asks. Logan tells her that he knows she can, but that this is not what it is about. ‘Then what is it about?’ Melita enquires, pointing out that whatever is going on, this STRIKE thing could be a part of it, and people need to know what is going on. ‘Do they?’ Logan replies. ‘What’s that supposed to mean?’ Melita asks. Logan tells her that it means ‘Do you think knowing the world is going to hell is going to make things any better? Is it going to make folks any safer? Or is it just going to make them more likely to panic and do something stupid?’ But, Melita declares that information doesn’t breed fear, ignorance does, so keeping people in the dark about this stuff is dangerous and irresponsible. ‘Dammit, Logan, this is my job. You know that’.
Logan tells Melita that he has a job today to do, too, and it only gets harder when people start to panic. ‘There are riots all over the world. Thor has disappeared, and now every wacko with an agenda is coming outta the woodwork’. ‘So do your job, but don’t tell me how to do mine’ Melita replies. Logan throws his arms into the air and tells Melita ‘Fair enough’, and assures her that he didn’t mean to get her fur up, he just doesn’t like to see media folk poking a hornet’s nest and leaving somebody else to deal with getting stung. Melita tells Logan that he knows her better than that, as she is accountable for every word that she writes. Logan gives Melita his access card to Avengers Tower and tells her to go back there to see what she can dig up on STRIKE and get her story. Melita thanks Logan and tells him that she takes back all the awful things she was just about to call him. They embrace and kiss, before Melita tells Logan to be careful and to come back in one piece. ‘You too, darling’ Logan replies.
Meantime, aboard the Prometheus, on the bridge, Brom returns and joins the leader, Bexley, Croydon and the woman. He reports that the prisoners are secured, thirty-six in all, including the two guards they too out. He adds that they are mostly tech guys, and perhaps a dozen soldiers. ‘Well done, Brom’ the older STRIKE operative replies, before asking Mr Bexley how much farther until their destination. Sitting at a console, Bexley announces that they are two hundred kilometers outside New York right now. Brom enquires as to why they are going to New York, and the STRIKE commander reveals that there is a slight chance of plans, as their employers have asked them to take advantage of the unique “opportunity” that has presented itself. ‘How’s that?’ Brom asks. The commanding officer looks out the large windows and declares that STRIKE would like them to perform one additional task as long as they are stateside.
Brom points out that there is extra risk going to New York, world in crisis or not, as Avengers HQ is there. The commander replies that STRIKE is aware and they have offered additional compensation. ‘I’m buying a villa in France. And a Lamborghini Aventador. And a girlfriend. And a yacht. And another Lamborghini’ Bexley remarks. The commander tells him that he can buy all of that and more, and states that their esteemed leaders at STRIKE will take this ship and re-establish themselves as players in the big game. ‘We’ll be their top dogs, as well. No more crawling through third-world sewers and knocking down tinpot dictators’. The woman tells her commander that it all sounds well and good, but she wouldn’t mind getting out of this while she is still young. ‘I mean, you guys are my mates, but I wouldn’t mind collecting my check and retiring’ she reveals
‘You don’t think STRIKE would want to be reimbursed for all those enhancements you got?’ Croydon asks. Brom remarks that he doesn’t like deviating from the plan. He tells the commander that they have what they came for, and flying this thing into super hero central seems stupid. ‘Plans change, soldier. All you need to know right now’ he announces as he touches a button on a console. ‘Ah, there you are, my lovely’ he remarks quietly, before telling Bexley to give him one hour, then he can bring them down where the city can see them. ‘I’ve got a few surprises to prepare first’.
One hour later, the Prometheus looms over the city of New York. Some civilians see it, floating through the clouds, above the sprawling skyscrapers, and point up to it. A reporter announces that there is no word why the craft is ere, and that it has hovered motionless above since it descended from the clouds. The reporter explains that it appears to be a “Helicarrier” commonly used by SHIELD and more recently by HAMMER, and hopes that, with the recent outbreak of violence around the world and in New York, it is here as a precautionary measure. At the same moment, Logan runs across one of the rooftops that reaches near to where the Prometheus hovers. He is no longer worried that getting on board might prove difficult, instead he is now hoping he is too small to be noticed. He leaps off the rooftop and extends his claws upwards, realizing that if he misses, he will need a month to recover.
Logan just latches onto the edge of the Prometheus which suddenly lowers itself in between the buildings. People rush to the windows of their offices and apartments, and as Logan climbs aboard, the bodies of the prisoners are dropped from the Prometheus, hanging by ropes around their necks.
Arriving at Avengers Tower, Melita places Logan’s access card in the slot, ‘Hope this works’ she remarks, before the doors open and a computer voice welcomes her, ‘I will assume Logan provided you wit that access card’ the computer adds. ‘Ummm…thanks?’ Melita replies, looking around, before the computer tells her to let it know if it can be of any assistance. Entering a room with several consoles and screens, Melita tells the computer that it can start by showing her everything it has on STRIKE, especially any mention of activity since they were officially disbanded. Reports appear on one of the screens, and Melita smiles. ‘Wow. Not much, but it’s more than I expected’ she remarks, adding that for a defunct organization, their name sure pops up a lot.
The computer informs Melita that most of these files are restricted, but it has access to information not readily available to most. ‘An arrogant computer. Tony Stark really does have it all’ Melita remarks to herself, before glancing over the files and deciding that there is nothing concrete here, but a lot of blood getting spilled in connection with the name. She supposes that you are pretty far under the radar when the Avengers have barely any intel on you, but decides that there is some info, so STRIKE hasn’t been completely invisible.
Meantime, Wolverine slices his way into the Prometheus, deciding that it wasn’t so bad, and now all he has to do is take these guys out before this gets any worse. He realizes that if these guys really are STRIKE, then this is bad news. He didn’t want to spook Melita, but he has heard a few things about these guys - rumblings, mostly, second-hand stuff passed down the back alleys of the espionage community. He tells himself that STRIKE was involved in black bag jobs that no one else would take - high-risk, low-reward stuff, done in the name of a phantom organization. The rumor was that there was old British money backing them, older than dirt - knights in shining armor old - secret societies and weird rituals - the kinda folks that make the Freemasons look welcoming. He shoves his claws into a control panel when he comes to a door, and it opens for him.
Logan tells himself that he has to get this situation under control and fast, for as bad as these guys may be, there is bigger fish to fry. ‘The world’s gone so far to hell right now, terrorist ghosts with a Helicarrier poised to vaporize NYC barely qualifies as news’ Logan thinks to himself. Entering the next part of the ship, he knows that it would help if he knew the layout. He walks past a poster on the wall of Norman Osborn with the American flag and thinks ‘Osborn. Even buried deep in prison that nut job is still giving us grief’. Making his way further into the Prometheus, Logan picks up the scent of sweat, gun oil and cheery cough drops.
Suddenly, a door opens, and Croydon stands there, large weapon aimed at Logan. ‘FREEZE!’ he shouts. Claws barred, Logan suggests that he put his weapon down before someone gets hurt. ‘Somebody, in this instance, being you’ he adds. ‘I doubt that, friend’ Croydon replies. ‘you know who I am. You know that gun ain’t gonna do much but piss me off’ Wolverine points out. But, Croydon replies that this gun doesn’t have to do much - just distract him a big. ‘Ah, hell’ Logan mutters, as Brom appears behind him and shoves a blue energy sword through Logan’s stomach. Logan drops to his knees. ‘Wow. They sent the Wolverine. They must be taking us seriously’ Brom points out. ‘Put him down, Brom. Quickly’ Croydon orders. Brom holds the sword in Wolverine and declares ‘Pretty sure this won’t kill you But I’m betting it’s really gonna hurt’.
Meanwhile, back at Avengers Tower, Melita concentrates as she continues to examine the files, and wonders why a covert black ops squad that hasn’t pulled a big job in years chooses something this high profile. ‘Why this ship?’ she asks, when suddenly, the blueprints of the Prometheus are displayed on the monitor before her, detailing that the ship has a nuclear warhead. Wide-eyed, Melita utters ‘Oh no…’