Nick Fury asks his agent, the Sentry, for a status report. The Sentry, floating in mid-air and watching over the defeated Iron Man, mentions his target has been neutralized. Iron Man’s built-in computer scans for physiological defects in the Sentry’s body, but fails to find any. So instead, Tony quickly gets back up and gives the Sentry a strong punch in his face! Blood sprays from the Sentry’s nose. However, he simply wipes it off, and returns the favor by giving Stark an equal strong hit!
Tony smashes against a building, causing massive amounts of damage to it, and falls down on the street, unable to get immediately back up. The Sentry flies towards him to finish the job, but Iron Man fires the lasers in his boots at the Sentry, which holds him back a bit. However, the Sentry still manages to fight through the blasts and hits Stark again, goading he’ll always be two seconds ahead of him. Tony can even set his clock by it. “Clock?” Tony thinks. That gives him an idea... Cloc!
Stark hacks through the firewall into the Sentry’s headquarters: Cloc, and has it inform the Sentry non-stop about disasters around the world. He even gives death reports to the Sentry, who can’t bear all this information at once and falls on his knees in shame. Iron Man takes off, complimenting Reed Richards that he really outdid himself building Cloc for the Sentry to keep him updated about world disasters, but Tony is well aware that Reed has always been sloppy about firewalls. Tony orders Cloc to cycle this program for the next five hours, which Cloc agrees to do.
Once back in the air, Tony tries to contact his friend, Sal, but he’s in the bathroom. Instead, he gets Maya on the phone, who isn’t too happy that Tony involves an old man like Sal into this. Tony doesn’t want to go through the guilt trip, and just wants to ask Sal something. Maya calls out to Sal, who’s really sitting in the bathroom on the toilet, reading a book. She asks Sal if he’s got a line a line on a magnetic resonance imager.
Later that night, at Wembley Stadion in London...
Sitting in the blimp that hovers above the stadium, Dugan explains to Fury they’ve lost contact with the Sentry and asks what he thinks about it. Nick just thinks they’re screwed.
Below the two government agents, an announcer introduces the Director of Muslim Peace authority, Nobel Prize nominee: Karim Mahwash Najeeb. Karim raises his hands in the air and the crowd cheers for him. Karim is being guarded by the Avengers, the Fantastic Four and She-Hulk. Karim begins his speech, which he wants the “little people” around the world to gather around the same stars like they do and live in peace and harmony. As Karim speaks, nobody notices that a green-hooded man standing among them, holding a device that allows him to execute him! The man presses a button on the device, which will do just that.
Meanwhile, Iron Man roars through the sky, heading towards this exact location. Inside their blimp, Dugan isn’t impressed by Karim’s speech. Suddenly, the word “boom” appears on the panel behind Karim! The suspicious looking man smiles quietly. Fury orders his ground forces on high alert and wants an L.D.R, but his agents don’t find anything. Instead, he orders to hold a visual and wants the capes scrambled. The minute they find their guy... they’ll bring the fight to him!
In the crowd, Captain America leads a team consisting out of himself, Spider-Man, the Human Torch, Ms. Marvel, Mr. Fantastic and the Human Torch into action to find the culprit. She-Hulk, Wolverine, the Thing, Luke and Spider-Woman stay behind to guard Karim. Jessica wants to bring Karim into safety but he refuses to be intimidated. The search goes on for a while, but nobody is found. Eventually, one of the agents think they found something, but the actual culprit grins they haven’t seen anything yet.
Instead, Fury and his troops have found Iron Man! Fury asks Captain America, who sits in Quinjet 1 to confirm it is Tony, which he does. Ms. Marvel fires up and follows Tony through the air. Tony contacts Reed, who sits in his own Quinjet, and asks him to engage his flight recorder, as he needs to say something. He explains he has been compromised, and that somebody surgically implanted a bio-magnetic neural override device in his brain. He used an M.R.I. to reverse the polarity of the matrix. After he blocked the last incoming transmission and sent out a data-burst, he instructed the sending unit to generate a ping every thirty seconds, and has been tracking someone.
Carol, who overhears the conversation, asks Tony who they’re dealing with, but he doesn’t know yet. But, he’s closing in! He warns Reed about the mountain in front of him. Reed hadn’t even noticed that, and just in time manages to pull his plane up just before smashing into it! That was too close. He asks Tony what he was tracking... a sending unit? Tony states he’s actually tracking the sending unit right now, and gives Reed a visual image of the crowd. Reed is surprised and is then contacted by Cap, who asks Reed if he knows what they’re looking at. Reed asks Tony for an explanation.
Tony explains to both Cap and Reed they are looking at a live feed from his visual cortex. Cap sees someone wearing the green hood, and doesn’t think this makes any sense. Tony states it soon will. At least, he hopes it will. Suddenly, they see someone grabbing the guy in the green hood. It’s Tony himself, but with dyed blond hair?! Cap realizes their mistake: they are chasing an empty suit?! An angry Tony asks the guy who he is, but the guy manages to free himself from Tony’s grip and runs back into the crowd, hoping to escape.
Reed doesn’t understand the situation they’re in. Cap explains that Tony said it’s a live feed from his visual cortex. They’re seeing what he’s seeing... right now! Stark is not inside his armor anymore! In the crowd, Tony tries to follow the guy. The guy grabs someone’s cell phone and plugs it into his device. Tony manages to grab the guy again, and Cap reports to the other heroes that Tony’s inside the stadium. Wolverine holds his claws ready, and the other heroes are ready for action. Reed thinks this is impossible, as Tony is the only one who can control his armor.
The guy presses on his device and says the words “gao yao.” Tony gets a headache and his Iron Man suit in the air falls apart. Cap corrects Reed he didn’t say Tony isn’t piloting his armor... he’s just not inside it. The guy explains to Tony, who falls on his knees, that he pre-programmed a series of keywords into Tony’s subconscious. “Gao yao” for instance triggers all of Tony’s pain receptors simultaneously. Gao yao is also the Chinese god of judgment, which makes everything just cooler. Almost without breath, Tony asks the guy who he is. The guy tells Tony to just call him a loose end. He’s one of thousand’s loose ends Tony has left behind on his mission to serve mankind.
In his ship, Reed asks Fury if he’s getting his relay. Fury is, and reports they’re running a facial recognition program on live feeds from stadium security-cams. They should have Tony’s exact location in a minute.
The guy continues to explain to Tony that his father was a genius just like him. His dad was a huge fan of Tony’s practical use of magnets. In fact, his dad discovered that magnetic implants could correct the flow of neural impulses. He could cure depression, schizophrenia, perhaps redefine a man’s very soul. He could turn criminal sociopaths into model citizens.
Among the crowd, Wolverine and the She-Hulk have teamed-up in an attempt to locate Tony.
But, Tony’s foe continues to reveal, in order to conduct his experiments, his father needed money. Lots of money. And he didn’t have the patience to settle for the trickle he’d get from university grants, as that might take decades. His dad realized that people were sick and needed his help now! So, he got in bed with the government. But government’s aren’t terribly interested in humanitarian applications. They’re just interested in weapons design. That’s where the money is. After all, he claims, the ends justify the means, which is a small price to pay to improve millions of lives and to serve mankind.
To this, the man asks Tony what the price is. He wants to know how many babies injured by his mines will spend the rest of their lives crawling around on stumps so he can build a better medical prosthetic. Hundreds, thousands maybe?! The guy is certain Tony has done the math. It’s just like his father did when he placed that implant in Tony’s head for the Taliban.
Tony thinks that the kid’s father’s name is Ho Yinsen, which the kid. So, he asks Tony... how does it feel to be a loose end? Do the ends still justify the means? A sweaty Tony can’t believe that all those dead people are dead, just so the kid could get revenge for his father. The kid would never do that, as his father was a monster! Tony wants to know what that means about Kellard, Tanzerian and Karzai, and the others. The kid adds another name to the list: Gorlovich. Tony doesn’t know who that is.
The kid explains that Andrei Gorlovich is the man Tony killed in Bulgaria. Tony remembers him saying, as Iron Man, that Andrei should have finished the job. The kid continues to reveal that Andrei was hired by the men who ordered his father to place the implant in Tony’s skull when he was still a promising young weapons designer. It was an implant that was useless without the sending unit he had smuggled out of Afghanistan. Andrei was the man who was hired to recover the sending unit from the only person the kid’s father ever trusted: Gorlovich. Gorlovich was also the man who killed the kid’s mother. And he should have finished the job by killing him as well.
The crowd has started to gather around Tony and the kid to see what’s going on. Tony asks the kid what it’s going to be. Are all those people dead to make some kind of sophomoric point? He sarcastically congratulates the kid, as the point has been taken. But he wants to know what’s going to happen next. The kid smiles that now, he’s going to walk away. He unplugs the cell phone from his device.
Elsewhere among the crowd, Luke and Sue are still busy trying to find Tony.
The kid tells Stark that he’s finished. Tony gets back up and grabs the kid, shouting at him that this isn’t done yet. The kid corrects that it actually is. He reveals he’s got a dead-man’s switch buried in Tony’s brain. If anything happens to him, that switch is going to flip. And all the lives Iron Man has taken so far will be nothing but a cheap preview of coming attractions. Tony is startled.
Nobody notices that a SHIELD agent, who stands on a balcony, has a shot at the kid. Fury orders the agent to take it, but the agent doesn’t really want to as they are dealing with just a kid. Fury reminds the agent that this kid has full operational control of the Iron Man weapons system. He has to take the shot... now! The agent does. He hits the kid, and he immediately dies. Tony screams “No!”
Elsewhere, in a hidden location...
The various Iron Man suits get activated by the operation code “Tian-Gou.” They are ready to executy their program...