With Professor Xavier now lost in the shadow of Onslaught, New York City is overrun with giant Sentinels, working on Onslaught’s behalf. Iron Man pokes his head out of a manhole cover, without his helmet, and finds that the scene is grim. Between himself and the Wakandan Consulate is a Sentinel, with numerous others flying overhead; their searchlights scouring the city.
This Iron Man is not the man we knew. He is a younger version of Tony Stark and, as such, he is relatively new to all of this. He’s only recently become acquainted with the Avengers, and the world of villains and heroes of which his alternate counterpart is a paid up veteran.
He descends into the tunnel, and informs his comrades, Quicksilver and Giant-Man, that the Consulate is completely cut off. Xavier’s toy robots are posted two to a block as far as he can see. Pietro sternly reminds Stark that they are not Xavier’s. He is not Xavier any longer and he should remember that. Hank tells Pietro that Stark catches on real quick; he shouldn’t doubt that for a second.
Hank is a lot more interested in the results of his recon just now. He’s pleased that Tony’s lack of innate powers, and the fact his armor wasn’t exposed above ground, means his potential threat wasn’t recognized by the Sentinels.
Tony places his face mask back on, and adds that they showed no visible response to his being there. But, he can’t even begin to guess what their internal systems register without going back up for a full sensor scan. Hank informs him that under the circumstances, he can’t afford the juice. Pietro comments that with the power blacked-out citywide, the others are relying on them to provide the psi-shields needed for an assault on Onslaught’s citadel. His next sentence is completed by a stranger in the shadows who swings down to join them.
Quicksilver reacts as swiftly as his name suggests, and when he recognizes the Wakandan warrior-prince, the Black Panther, he warns T’Challa that his approach was dangerous. He could have been hurt. T’Challa tells him that he thought the threat now posed by Xavier would have come from Pietro’s own father, instead. He apologizes for any offense. Pietro replies that he would be the very last to defend Magneto’s history. With the Black Panther’s arrival and his access to the Consulate; the equipment and supplies inside are as good as theirs.
Quicksilver is the first to sprint into action. His impatience is the natural price of Pietro’s mutant power; an unnaturally rapid response and fleetness of foot that makes him the first… among equals. Giant-Man, Iron Man and the Black Panther follow at their own pace, but they suddenly halt when Quicksilver comes rushing back towards them as quickly as he disappeared. “Retreat, Avengers, retreat! They’re coming. The waters are coming.”
Behind him, a wall of water threatens their existence, so Hank Pym does what he does best, and grows to full size, smashing through the stone above him and into the street above. This action tears open a last-second escape valve for the crushing pressure of the rushing sewer waters. Unfortunately, his emergence into the daylight hasn’t gone unnoticed.
Sentinel Unit BB-14 scans Hank, and assess him as being human designate: Henry Pym / Ant-Man / Giant-Man / Yellowjacket. Not knowing Hank’s purpose there, the Sentinel automatically defaults to termination status. Hank is equal in height to his robotic assailant, and they begin their battle.
Quicksilver taps in a code for a secret doorway. The password is Monica. Iron Man asks the Black Panther, though he’s not sure he should be, about the legality of an unmarked passage directly from U.S. to foreign soil. Pietro replies that he’s right; he shouldn’t be. Once through the next tunnel, the trio are faced with a group of heavily armed and armored Wakandans, led by Taku. He informs them that they should not be there. It is sovereign territory, currently under siege from an alien power; as alien and powerful as they come, according to their intel indications. They can afford no prisoners under the circumstances. T’Challa asks him to forget protocol. The Avengers come as guests, under sanctuary of the throne.
Taku presumes this blatant breach of protocol relates directly to Onslaught. T’Challa replies that, for the time being, Wakandan and American alike, man and mutant alike - they fight together against the dreamer denied. The three heroes continue their way, unhindered by Taku’s men. The Black Panther presumes that the little flash flood in the tunnels can only suggest that Onslaught’s on to them; consciously or not. He warns Taku that he and his men must evacuate the Consulate - starting yesterday.
As they enter a research and development facility beneath the Consulate, young Tony Stark is speechless. Only a decade ago, Wakanda was only a myth, yet here is a facility beyond the farthest reaches of his wildest fantasies. His mind races with the near-infinite possibilities and potential right here, at his fingertips.
Giant-Man and the Sentinel are locked in a physical struggle. Luckily, the Sentinel’s propensity for verbalizing its actions helps Hank. The robot is about to transfer concussive energy through to Hank, so Hank releases his grip on the giant, and head-butts it, sending the Sentinel clean to the ground. The robot explodes due to the damage, and Hank is caught by the shock waves.
(the Wakandan Consulate)
Stark uses a holograph, projected from his armor, to show the Black Panther some psi-armor, supposedly developed by Xavier himself to protect against telepathic intrusion. He and Dr. Pym did what they could to micro-process the component design, but if T’Challa knows something they don’t, which he feels is likely, he can get to work. The holographic image fades as his armor shuts down non-essential systems. He is not only concerned about his own armor’s energy levels, but also wonders how they’re supposed to produce the power needed to put the model into production. T’Challa opens a large metal door, revealing a stack of vibranium. Stark feels this stuff is going to have to be everything everyone says it is, and a lot more.
The semi-conscious Giant-Man has reverted to his normal size and, scarily, he is now surrounded by several hulking Sentinels. The first on the scene ascertains his identity, and downloads its operation override program. The directive to capture is nullified, and the new default directive orders them to destroy all Avengers. A massive boot is about to squash Hank into the concrete, when Quicksilver appears from nowhere, running at super speed. He grabs Hank, and manages to get him clear the instant before his death. The Sentinel hits the ground with such force, it begins to fall apart. Quicksilver is followed by the other Sentinels, who now have just one priority, which is to kill him and his teammates. Several Sentinels pursue him, and the chase is on.
(the Wakandan Consulate)
With several psi-protection helmets prepared, T’Challa and Iron Man place them on their heads. T’Challa is already late for his rendezvous with the rest of the team in Times Square. Tony says that the psi-shields would still be psi-scrap without the vibranium jumpstart. He appreciates the assist. His humility is countered by T’Challa, who replies that he merely supplied the means. Stark himself was the method. He reckons Reed Richards should be able to duplicate the prototype for the others now, with just the smallest cache of vibranium remaining. His own people will likely be safest at Four Freedoms Plaza.
Suddenly, a giant Sentinel head crashes through the roof of the research lab, and identifies them both; confirming its new directive to destroy all Avengers. Iron Man blasts a hole clean through the Sentinel’s torso. Stark reckons Quicksilver’s diversion managed to clear most of the robots, but this one must be counter-programmed to cover the Consulate, and only the Consulate.
Despite Iron Man’s assault, the Sentinel remains standing, so he flies towards the giant. Unfortunately, he is grabbed by a huge fist, but his armor’s strength is enough to shatter the hand apart. He continues his assault with a punch to the face, whilst Black Panther escapes with his men aboard an armored assault vehicle.
T’Challa promises Stark that he’ll alert the others to his situation, and even return with an army if needs still remain. Watching the young hero, he believes Wakandans will someday sing of this; sing soaring songs of sacrifice and strength of wisdom and courage far beyond his tragic few years. One lone knight against the never-ending. He watches as Stark battles the Sentinel, and feels he is truly Tony Stark in all the ways that ever counted - right up to the very end.
Pietro and Hank await Iron Man. He’s late, but Pietro feels like they’ve left a boy behind to do a man’s job. Hank reminds him that this is what teamwork is all about. He recalls not too long ago, that the boy would have been him. Suddenly, a Sentinel flies by, and notices them. Strangely, as it reaches their rooftop position, it collapses onto the roof, and its head becomes detached from its massive body. “Unit IM-2 reporting,” it says. The head then explodes, and as the smoke clears, Iron Man is seen floating in mid-air holding several psi-shields. “With party hats for everyone,” he adds. No doubt about it, Hank says. The more things change…