Las Vegas, specifically some distance underground, Marina Zane a.k.a. Telemetry has created a psionic box where she and her Heavy Hitters teammate Roger Brokeridge a.k.a. Hardball, along with Angelica “Firestar” Jones and Greg “Gravity” Willis are protected from the crushing might of the earth around them. 'You know...I died once before. It wasn't...the worst thing ever...' Gravity utters, while Hardball tells Telemtry, who concentrates hard to maintain the psionic field around them, that they need oxygen. Telemetry explains to Hardball that they have to go up top for that, which they can't do, not without the risk of undoing all they have accomplished here. Firestar turns to Gravity and tells him that he has been a good friend. 'Greg. My name's Greg' Gravity replies, before Firestar tells him her name is Angelica. They hold hands as Greg remarks 'You too, Angelica. Firestar. You're an inspiration'. He adds that if this really is the end for them, then he is honored to spend the end with her. Hardball looks over at them and says nothing, as he looks away, closes his eyes and hangs his head.
Up above, amongst the debris and ruins of the city, Deborah Fields a.k.a Debrii calls out 'Quake's over, man. The worse is over'. Supermax a.k.a. Edward Black Wolf is sitting amongst the rubble and asks 'Is it? Look at the damage already done... I mean...' he begins, when suddenly, Ritchie “Prodigy” Gilmore is thrown through the air and lands nearby. He gets up and looks at Debrii and Supermax. 'We have to stop her' he declares. 'Who?' Debrii asks.
Nearby, 'Was pounding on Prodigy really necessary?' Abby Boylen a.k.a. Cloud-9 asks Thor Girl, who stands with her hammer in hand, as Melati Kusuma a.k.a. Komodo stands nearby, in shock. 'Perhaps not. Though I do find myself in a much better state of resolve. He deserved it, the cretin. He -' Thor Girl begins, before suddenly clutching at her stomach and crying out in pain as she keels over. Komodo calls out to her and rushes over, while Cloud-9 calls out 'Tarene? Are you hurt?' But Thor Girl, hair fallen across her face, replies 'No. Down below, in the hotel, I felt it. And again, just now. A surge of power I feared was forever beyond my grasp'. She looks up, her eyes glowing, Thor Girl announces that she is reawakening. 'I am becoming...' she declares. 'Becoming... what?' Cloud-9 asks cautiously as she helps Thor Girl to her feet. 'What I've always been. What I'm meant to be' Thor Girl replies, adding that she has forgotten this power – so much power. 'I'm losing myself in it, Abby...' Thor Girl utters.
'Okay, you're officially freaking me out' Cloud-9 tells her friend. 'Guys...' Komodo calls out, pointing ahead. 'And what's the deal with your eyes?' Cloud-9 asks, but gets no response, as Komodo shouts' Guys!' and they look up to see Prodigy hovering before them. Debrii is with him, creating a large monster out of debris, and Supermax has increased his form. Prodigy tells them that they need to subdue, but if she gets hurt, that is acceptable. 'He retaliates! And with reinforcements, the coward!' Thor Girl calls out, her eyes still glowing, she swings her hammer, despite Cloud-9 telling her to wait. 'He probably just -' she begins, while Komodo suggests they hear what Prodigy has to say. But Thor Girl ignores the protests of her friends as she flies upwards to where Prodigy hovers alongside the giant Supermax and massive monster of debris that Debrii controls. Thor Girl frowns, her eyes glowing, while Prodigy's expression is hidden by his mask.
Thor Girl grabs the surprised Prodigy by his neck, then hurls her hammer at the junk-pile monster, shattering it. 'Back away. Do it now' she leers at Supermax, who shrinks back down to his regular size and runs away. 'Now. You... Prodigy. My friends believe I should allow you to explain yourself' Thor Girl remarks as she drops to the ground with Prodigy. 'I never -' Prodigy begins, before informing Thor Girl that it was never his intention to actually imprison her, explaining that it was for PR, to state the masses. He swears to Thor Girl that he had no idea there were plans to torture her. 'I would never have allowed it -' Prodigy begins, while up above, Cloud-9 carries Komodo on a cloud as they listen in to the conversation. 'A convenient stance for you to take after the fact. Especially when you fear my retribution' Thor Girl remarks. 'I'm not – I don't -' Prodigy begins, before Thor Girl points out that his voice trembles with fear. 'You can't deny it' she tells him. Prodigy notices Thor Girl's eyes and asks her what is happening. Thor Girl starts to remove her headpiece and tells Prodigy that he is like all the rest because she acts the Asgardian, because she carries a hammer. 'You fear the monster I would become, despite the irrationality of it all'. She drops her headpiece and hammer to the ground, and announces that this is her true form. 'Do you still fear me, Prodigy? Could I still be your monster?' Thor Girl asks.
Thor Girl's entire body starts to glow, 'Maybe there's no choice. Maybe that's what your actions have wrought. You feared the monster so badly that you wound up creating it' Thor Girl suggests to Prodigy. 'Maybe, somewhere deep down, that's what you want. Is it?' Thor Girl asks Prodigy, who gives no answer. 'Do you want the monster?' Thor Girl asks, raising her voice. 'Tarene!' Cloud-9 calls out. 'What?' Thor Girl snaps. 'What are you doing? What are you going to -' Cloud-9 starts to ask, to which Tarene tells her that it is fine. 'I only mean to -' but she is interrupted as Suzy “Ultra Girl” Sherman swoops down, 'TARENE!' she shouts at her friend, slamming her to the ground. 'You would attack me as well?' Tarene asks, looking up at Suzy, who explains that Supermax told her she is going nuts. 'Just...just stay down so we can -' Suzy suggests, but Tarene shouts 'NO!' and slams Suzy into the air, knocking her back. At that moment, 'C'mon, guys! She's outta control!' Debrii calls out as she, Rage, Supermax, Frog-Man, Scarlet Spider and the members of the Order rush towards Thor Girl. 'No!' Ultra Girl calls out to them. 'Gotta stop her!' Rage exclaims. 'No, please don't!' Ultra Girl pleads.
'I'm so disappointed!' Thor Girl, still glowing, declares as she gets up and casts some energy, which knocks the heroes rushing towards her backwards. 'Suzy...what's happening to her?' Cloud-9 asks as she and Komodo go over to her. 'She's – if this is what she told me about once, if she's found the path to her destiny... there's nothing any of us can do to stop her. She's godlike now!' Ultra Girl announces. 'Is this it?' Tarene calls out, easily knocking back Debrii's attack. Veda from the Order tries to hold Tarene with large humanoid soldiers created out of the rubble around her, as Tarene asks 'Is this all you can do, jump to conclusions and then punch your way toward some vague manner of resolution?' Tarene dissolves her attackers, and Veda recoils backwards as Tarene asks 'Is this the sum total of human function?' Ultra Girl calls out to Tarene, telling her that they only wanted to stop her fighting. 'Do I look like I'm fighting now? I'm not even defending myself' Tarene points out as Anthem tries to cast energy at her, but it just fizzles around the own energy that she radiates. Johnny Cool and Supernaut are blasting energy towards Tarene as well, but Ultra Girl flies over to them and tells them to stop, 'There's no point -' she begins, when suddenly, Prodigy tells everyone to stop.
'There. You got to exercise the control you so dearly cling to, Prodigy. You ought to feel better now...' Tarene remarks, hovering above the others, heavenly light surrounds her, as she addresses everyone, announcing that she has something to say, not as a friend, nor as a fellow hero, and not as Thor Girl, but as the one foretold by the great Sorcerer Queen X'Hoss – the one destined to elevate sentient races to their maximum evolutionary potential. 'As the what?' Scarlet Spider asks. 'I speak to you now as the Designate' Tarene replies. 'The what?' Scarlet Spider calls out. Everyone watches and listens in awe as Tarene tells them that she has seen these past days true acts of selflessness and good – in fact, it is due to the bravery and compassion of one of them that she stands here restored, her path renewed. She adds that mostly, though, she has seen an entire people made numb, dumb, petty and cruel, all by simply succumbing to fear. Tarene declares that she has witnessed the irrational and horrifying, she has watched as time and again, noble heroes embraced, self-interest, she has seen friend turn against friend.
Ultra Girl looks the most shocked of all, as Tarene continues, announcing that, in truth, she has not been immune to the basest behaviors of man, though the actions of one kind human soul rekindled her power, the burden of that power leaves her to conclude, that humanity is not yet worthy. Tarene sees the way Suzy, Abby and Melati look at her, and she knows they hurt inside. She knows they feel they have lost a friend – but that sentiment is lost on Tarene, now. But, due perhaps to some lingering presence of who she was to them, she wants to lessen their sense of loss. Using her godly powers, Tarene tears the ground open with but a thought, raising the psionic cube containing Firestar, Gravity, Hardball and Telemetry to safety. And then, without another word, Tarene moves skyward, and enters the deep expanse of space – and she seeks.
The psionic cube lowers, 'How did...how did we...' Gravity utters as he and the others slowly recover. 'Blondie!' Komodo exclaims as she rushes past Cloud-9 and Ultra Girl, and leaps into Hardball's arms. They kiss, before Komodo looks to the sky, 'Thank you, Tarene' she utters. The heroes all look up, and the clouds begin to roll away, revealing the sun glowing down at them. Many of the heroes take a moment to sit down amongst the rubble, gathering themselves after the recent events. 'So... what does all that mean? I mean...what do we do now?' Frog-Man asks, looking around. Prodigy addresses them all, pointing out that people still need help, here and all over the globe. He tells them that people need to know that someone's got a handle on this. 'So, what do we do? That's easy' he declares. 'We prove her wrong!' Prodigy calls out, leading the way through the air, Firestar, Gravity, Hardball and Komodo, and the other heroes follow him.
Days later, construction workers have started pulling away debris in Las Vegas, Cloud-9 is moving some bricks into a wheelbarrow and announces that the big guns put the beatdown on the bad guys, the craziness subsided, and they saved Las Vegas – but it still feels like they lost. Ultra Girl holds a large slab of rubble overhead as she hovers over Cloud-9 and asks 'Why, because of what she said? I'm only half human and I was so insulted that it's kinda softened the blow of her departure, you know?' To which Cloud-9 asks Ultra Girl if she thinks Tarene was wrong. 'Better believe it. I mean, except for when she made reference to your selfless awesomeness'. Ultra Girl tosses the slab of rubble into a nearby container with ease, while Cloud-9 wants to tell Suzy she doesn't know what she is talking about, and that Tarene didn't either, when it came to her. 'I'd say how selfish it was that I had this ability and only wanted it for playing around. I'd say how I gave in to fear like everyone else, and how ashamed of that'. She drops some more bricks into the wheelbarrow, and says nothing, knowing that from now on, she is going to aim higher.
Nearby at another site, 'Break time?' Komodo calls out to Hardball, who sits on a slab of concrete. 'I'd rather not, but I'm not exactly a hundred percent yet...' Hardball replies. 'No, you're not...but that's good enough for me' Komodo tells him as she kisses him on his cheek. Hardball smiles, and thinks that they all make mistakes, especially in the heat of things. He realizes that he may have made a mistake, but the truth is, he is lucky – that he is lucky to have an understanding girlfriend, and is lucky, so he is told, that very few lives were lost in Vegas. Suddenly, 'Hey! We found one! A survivor!' someone shouts. Hardball and Komodo rush over to where two construction workers are moving some rubble. Hardball wishes he could absolutely say that he is lucky he survived, but only time will tell if that's the case. 'Because sometimes...survival isn't all it's cracked up to be' he thinks, as the rubble is cleared, and Butterball looks up at his rescuers, wide-eyed, 'Buh. Buh. Buh' Butterball mumbles.
Days later still: 'You spoke too soon, Big Wheel!' Gravity exclaims as he smacks Big Wheel in the face. “Spoke”? Firestar asks. 'Was that supposed to be a wheel pun?' she asks Gravity as they take flight, as the police officers below pull Big Wheel from his wheel. 'I know, I know. It's a really fine line I'm treading' Gravity replies. 'Eeeesh' Firestar tells him, before pointing out that at least his spirits seem to be up. Gravity thinks to himself that may be an overly simply way to describe what he has been through, but that would be totally apt. He smiles back at Firestar and decides that one knows there are few easy answers in life. You see the nuances, the shades of gray, yet at some point, all that gray hits you like a revelation, and when that happens, you see things in a better light, a smarter light. 'Dare I say...a more mature light?' he wonders, before calling out 'Race you to the Chrysler!' as he speeds past Firestar.
'So, you're Captain America again' a mask-less Prodigy remarks as Steve Rogers shakes his hand. 'I am. And on behalf of our country, Ritchie, I would like to thank you for your service during its time of need'. Cap informs Ritchie that a lot of lives were saved because of his leadership. Ritchie thanks Cap, and as they walk down a corridor, Cap asks 'Now, apparently, at some point during all this, you incarcerated a pair of federal agents?' Ritchie stammers as he replies that did, and he can explain. Cap tells him that there is no need to, and he only brings it up because not only are they willing to look the other way, they want to commend him. 'They want to see you tomorrow about a promotion. Congratulations' Cap announces, and Ritchie smiles. He thinks that Thor Girl was wrong about him – he was on the precipice, but he never caved in to fear. He remained in control.
The next day, Ritchie is out of costume, and wears a tie, as he thinks that it would have been the easiest thing in the world to run away, to escape into alcohol, to forget he was given grave responsibilities. To give in to the terror clawing its way up his throat. But he didn't. He held strong. 'And for that...' Ritchie thinks as the two federal officers open a door and welcome Ritchie to his new domain – all to himself. 'Make sure it's all in order. We hear you're really good at that' one of the agent smirks, as the door slams behind Ritchie, 'I was relly making something of myself...' the wide-eyed Ritchie remarks as he stares at floor-to-ceiling row after row of boxes of files, all needing sorting.