New York City:
Didn’t they hear him? the annoyed and confused Hulk addresses the singular crowd. He’s a monster!
The battered Hercules, who has become the people’s spokesman, retorts that, if that were true, his skull would be as broken as his pride. The Hulk could have killed them but, when he learned that Hercules, Angel, Namora and young Amadeus Cho came to help, not fight, he stayed his blows. So stop playing tough, he suggests and points toward the crowd, and meet the rest of his fans!
Some people step hesitatingly forward, among them young Tom Foster, nephew of Bill Foster, the deceased hero Goliath.
Who are they? the Hulk asks. “We’re you”, an elderly man dressed in a sheet replies surprisingly. He is the big monster. Strong. Angry. Dangerous. They are the little monsters. Sick, poor, crazy. The “heroes” sent the Hulk to die on a savage planet. They left them to rot in their slums and asylums. So when he tears down their golden palaces, he gives them hope.
Umn, Archangel intervenes, just for the record: Not everyone here is automatically for the destruction of the country’s social, economic and military structure. “Speak for yourself!” Tom Foster snarls. Okay, Warren tries to calm the young man. He blames Mr. Fantastic and Iron Man for what happened to Goliath during the Civil War—
“Don’t dance around it!” Tom shouts. They killed his uncle!
Even if that were the whole story, Warren insists, you don’t really want to kill them in return. He doesn’t know what he—
Warren interrupts. Look at Tom, and Amadeus too! They are bourgie kids from the suburbs. They want justice. Not anarchy. Not murder!
Warren turns to the Hulk. The point is he states, that they want justice. For the Hulk. For everyone. So they’ve come to meet him halfway. To see if they can’t figure out a way to make it happen.
Get away from him! the Hulk orders coldly. Or they’ll all die! Amadeus insists he is bluffing. Now! the Hulk shouts and stomps the ground, the shockwave making everyone around him lose their footing. Still Amadeus insists. They know him and he doesn’t kill.
Moments later, missiles and helicopters home in on the Hulk and fire at him. Everybody down! someone shouts. The Hulk is hit and shouts in pain. Amadeus wants to ask how he is. The Hulk snarls in pain and rage… and attacks the choppers. Amadeus exclaims that they were talking to him and the military go and shoot him full of adamantium shrapnel?
Archangel tries to help the pilots. General “Thunderbolt” Ross replies to Amadeus, guessing he’s the smart kid. So they say, Amadeus replies and tells him to call off his troops, or—
Or what? General Ross asks. He knows about Amadeus’ big brain and how he downed Gabe Jones’ SHIELD transport, so his birds are flying one hundred percent manual. No fancy computer systems for him to hack! Amadeus swears.
Ross continues that the Hulk’s crew has scattered and all hell’s breaking loose, so why doesn’t Amadeus get his band of renegades out of his warzone now? Why doesn’t Ross get his war zone out of Amadeus’ bunch of renegades? Amadeus shoots back.
Hercules warns Amadeus and Amadeus cuts short the conversation with Ross, seeing as how the Warbound have just arrived with one of Ross’ stupid missiles on their tail.
Amadeus jumps across one alien and tosses the Adamantium shrapnel he salvaged up at the missile. It damages the controls and it flies into a building. Sweet, Amadeus triumphs as Archangel flies him away. Confused, the Warbound wonder if that extremely puny human just saved them?
Namora replies he did and it just happened again, as she repels another missile (though she is hardly puny and only marginally human). The Brood drags her down out of the way of another missile and hisses. Namora saved the hivelings, so today she lives, it tells her. But tomorrow it might eat her. Unimpressed, Namora retorts it saved her, so today it lives. But tomorrow she will gut it alive for insulting a princess of Atlantis!
Hey, you guys, Amadeus shouts. Falling building at ten ‘o clock! Hercules asks the rocky Warbound Krog how strong he is. He guesses he is strong enough, comes the reply as both hold up a falling building.
Holy cow! Rick Jones exclaims from a nearby rooftop. Suddenly, he is attacked by a green-haired masked woman calling herself the Scorpion. She is joined by her employer Gabe Jones of SHIELD.
In the meantime, as things have calmed down below, another Warbound explains who they are. They fought by the Hulk’s side in the old empire’s arenas of death. Now they stand by the Green Scar to the end.
Amadeus introduces his group as the Renegades. They heard what happened to the Hulk. They are here to help. One of the Warbound, Hiroim, shakes Amadeus’ hand. Amadeus suggests they find the Hulk before things get too--
A moment later, the Hulk lands. He guesses he found them, Hiroim remarks. Taking apart the rest of the missiles, the Hulk grumbles about stupid puny humans. Aw, snap! Amadeus mutters a moment later as another missile attacks.
Namora orders the people to take cover as she and Archangel fly up to face it. Not again! the Hulk shouts. He jumps up, moves the two heroes aside and catches the missile -- which explodes right in front of him. Hurt, he falls down. Rick Jones, Scorpion and his Warbound run to him. Rick reaches him first. The Hulk order him to leave him alone, as he walks away, with the Warbound following.
Rick and Amadeus both try to call him back. Hiroim suggests they don’t. He saved their lives. Now they should honor his wishes. He doesn’t understand, Amadeus insists. They came to help! And he did, Hiroim replies. They who stand here have proven themselves. Of all the human “heroes” only they may walk free in this city. They honor their puny people with their strength. So stay and protect them. But the Hulk has warned them. Those who join him are doomed. Follow the Warbound and they will surely die!
But-- Amadeus protests to be interrupted by Gabe Jones of SHIELD. As far as he can tell he is the highest-ranking military officer on the ground. And they are the bunch of Renegades who’ll probably get hung as traitors when this gets sorted out. But right now, they have an alien threat to confront and civilians to protect and so he is unofficially deputizing each and every one of them!
Amadeus begins to protest and is ignored as Gabe Jones turns to Rick Jones. He tells him to find the Hulk and try to talk some sense into him. Rick agrees. To hell with that! Amadeus shouts. He’s going! Jones reminds him that he’s spent ten minutes with the Hulk. Rick’s spent years with him. Amadeus tell him who has a better chance of reaching Banner? Who said anything about reaching Banner? Amadeus retorts, surprising Jones. He came the to help the Hulk, Amadeus continues.
The Hulk’s insane, Jones scoffs. Are they blind? Amadeus retorts. The Hulk just saved a hundred people. Banner saved them, Rick corrects him. Is he high? Amadeus scoffs. Banner had nothing to do with this. The only skinny white dude he’s seen today is Rick.
So he thinks the Hulk is the hero? Rick asks. The Hulk hit him three times in the first three days he knew him. He tried to kill Rick on the fourth. Yeah well, Rick looks pretty healthy to him, Amadeus points out. Dude, he broke his back, Rick protests. Whatever, Amadeus replies. He came here to help the Hulk and that’s what he’s gonna do. And none of them can stop him.
Surprisingly, Gabe Jones agrees. Amadeus brain is so big he’s probably figured out how to ditch them all and tape a “kick me” sing on his backside on the way out. Yes, that he could, Hercules agrees jovially and nudges Archangel.
But the big brain is exactly why he needs Amadeus s here, Jones continues. The battles in this city have created hundreds of impact points. Any one of which could lead to gas explosions, flooding electrical fires, chemical spills or structural collapse. He can let Rick Jones go. He’s just semi-smart. Thanks a lot, Rick replies sourly. But Amadeus is the only one who can hack these logistics fast enough to prevent a total disaster. Now, is he gonna play the hero or be one?
Rick gets ready to go and he and Amadeus respectfully wave at each other.
Sometime later, Gabe Jones joins Amadeus, Archangel, Namora and Hercules on a rooftop and congratulates Amadeus for helping save a couple hundred lives and about sixteen billion dollars of Manhattan real estate.
What’s the word from Rick Jones? Amadeus asks. Nothing, comes the reply; what are they looking at? See for yourself. My God, Jones exclaims as he sees what they are seeing, the Hulk building an arena within Manhattan. All right, Jones decides. If anybody ever asks, they never had this conversation. If Amadeus really thinks he can stop the Hulk, he’s on.
What did Hiroim say? Archangel recalls “Arenas of deat?” It’s a bluff, Amadeus figures, he’s just making a point. He doesn’t know, Hercules muses. If they’d killed his family, he’d be happy to watch them tear each other to pieces. Namora agrees. Well, Amadeus points out, Herc is from Olympus and Namora from Atlantis. But Bruce Banner is from Ohio. They thought Amadeus wasn’t interested in Banner, Warren points out. Whatever, the boy replies.
Each of them gets a beeper. If it starts buzzing something has gone wrong. That’s their signal to grab every civilian in sight and get the hell out of Dodge. No, Hercules, corrects him, that’s their signal to come save his skinny mortal behind. No, Amadeus replies, he’s serious. If the Hulk really loses it, none of them can stop him. So they should leave him to die? Namora asks. Yeah, it makes sense, the boy replies.
Warren laughs that nothing they’ve ever done together makes sense. No point in turning reasonable now! Hercules remarks Amadeus may have tricked them in following him. And they may never recover the friends and fortune they’ve lost as a result. But he regrets nothing. Because everything they four have done they’ve done for the right reasons. He’s proud to stand with them, his fellow Renegades. He puts out his hand, the other two heroes grab it, as finally does a sniffing Amadeus.
Nighttime: Amadeus tries to sneak into the arena. Scorpion behind him takes out an alien guard and explains Gabe Jones figured he could use a shadow. He orders her not to get in his way. Fine she agrees, taking out another alien.
Hang on! he tells her and stops to devour a chocolate bar. Can’t that wait? She asks impatiently. Gotta feed the brain, he explains, and the brain wants chocolate. He’s weird, she sighs. He’s not the one in the ninja belly dancer suit, Amadeus retorts.
Suddenly, they hear a scream of pain. He ready for this? she asks. Let’s do it! he agrees. His opinion changes a moment later when they stare downward their balcony to see imprisoned heroes. Namely Luke Cage, Doc Samson, Ms Marvel, the Thing, the Invisible Woman, the Torch and She-Hulk… and aliens torturing Thunderbolt Ross.
This isn’t… this isn’t… Amadeus stammers. He’s afraid it is, comes a voice from behind. Amadeus turns around to see the speaker. Reed Richard in a cell. They meet at last, Mr. Fantastic remarks wryly, before adding they haven’t got much time, referring to the disks bonded to him. Those are obedience disks, pretty self-explanatory. Whenever they try to do something the disks don’t like they blast them with unbearable pain.
He refers to Tony Stark, lying unconscious in the neighbor cell. He passed out an hour ago but his disk is till sparking. He thinks Tony is fighting in his sleep. He should have saved his strength. Apparently, back on Sakaar the Red King used these disks to force slaves to fight in the arena to the death.
Amadeus replies he’s come to find the Hulk. He’ll talk to him. Sort this out. Talking won’t work, comes the weak voice of Stark. The heroes have failed. The military can’t strike. All they have left are the nukes and that’ll just make him stronger. It’s up to Amadeus now. He knows Amadeus idolizes the Hulk, but he’s the smart kid. He knows Amadeus has thought about this. He has a plan! He has to end this. Or the Hulk will kill every hero here.
No, Amadeus insists. The Hulk’s not a killer! Hmpf, comes a voice from behind him. The Hulk towers over him. Wanna bet?