Having been granted an exclusive interview by Tony Stark, Frontline reporter Sally Floyd meets with several Initiative members at their headquarters. Slapstick, Justice, Rage, Debrii, Silhouette, and Ultragirl take their seats in the conference room as Sally begins the interview, cutting immediately to the chase. “How do the old New Warriors really feel about the current New Warriors?” she asks. Since no one jumps at the opportunity to respond, she continues, asking why they have not sought to detain these well-publicized New Warriors. She even implies these Initiative heroes might agree with their vigilante tactics.
Justice asks the reporter if she is deliberately trying to pick a fight. Sally maintains she is only doing her job, adding that it sounds like she struck a nerve. Debrii defends their ambivalence about these New Warriors by saying that no one actually cares about them; they are like rats, hiding in the gutter. Sally begs to differ. “There are those who would disagree with you. The New Warriors have MySpace and Facebook pages, T-shirts…most kids lionize them,” she says.
“Well I suppose there’s no accounting for taste,” Debrii replies.
Sally segues into another topic: the Junior Guardsmen. Ultragirl says the Junior Guardsmen represent a responsible alternative to the New Warriors. Sally claims they look too familiar for comfort. She holds up two photos to clarify her point. One photo depicts the Junior Guardsmen, the other, the Hitler Youth. This draws a bewildered response from Ultragirl. Rage, however, mutters a comment of agreement and walks out of the room.
Justice meets his grumbling teammate in the hallway and asks him what is wrong. Rage, while slamming his fists through the wall, tells Justice he feels like an idiot. “Do you know how hypocritical we sound? We’re on Stark’s bandwagon. Joined the Initiative so we could be ‘righteous heroes,’ but these New Warriors are the ones that did it right. They knew what Stark was about and we were duped into bashing them for it.”
Justice looks at Rage and says nothing. Rage continues, telling him the New Warriors used to stand for something, but now they blindly follow all of the Initiative’s orders. Justice scoffs and sarcastically asks Rage if he plans on joining the New Warriors. Rage says no. Instead, he says it is time they started their own vigilante team.
Sofia stalls while she thinks of a response to Kat Farrel’s unanticipated question about the New Warriors. She asks why Kat assumes she would know anything about the team. Kat reminds Sofia that her recent heroism not only saved the New Warriors, but several members of the Initiative as well. She only did what anyone would have done in that situation, Sofia tells her. Kat doesn’t buy it. “You didn’t just save the kid. You actually attacked Scorpio directly. You know what kind of person it takes to do something like that?”
As thanks for the compliment, Sofia offers Kat a free slice of cheesecake. Her next comment, however, causes Sofia to regret her generosity. “It’s too bad the New Warriors aren’t made up of people like you,” she says. Sofia gives her a perplexed look and asks what she means. Kat explains what Sofia did was courageous and honorable, like the behavior of those in the Initiative. The secretive, unregistered New Warriors are cowards by Kat’s standards. Sofia leans forward and tells Kat she is being a bit harsh. “Hey, if you’re going to play in this game, you might as well do it right and follow the rules,” Kat says. “If not, you need to be in jail.”
The New Warriors HQ…
The team hangs out in the lab while Barnell and Angel upgrade their tech. When Angel announces that she has successfully increased the capacity of her ice gauntlet, her overprotective husband Barnell reminds her she needs to test it out before taking it to battle. Angel complies. She creates a snowball and hurls it at the back of Barnell’s head. “I guess it works,” she says. Sure enough, a full-on snowball fight erupts in the lab.
To everyone’s surprise, Jubilee arrives at the door and asks if she can join in. The team stares at her in disbelief. Vincent asks what she wants, prompting Jubilee to apologize for her recent contentiousness. While most of the team seems forgiving, Vin refuses to accept her apology; he still holds a grudge over their recent scuffle. Miranda pleads with him to give her a chance, but Vin snaps at her. “Like she gave Thrash a chance?” he asks. “Screw her.” Jubilee does her best to ignore his vitriol and walks out of the room. Her parting comments are simply that the New Warriors can count her in on whatever it is they decide to do.
A moment later, Miranda finds Jubilee sitting on a bench by herself hanging her head. She asks Jubilee if she is alright. “It’s just…I just want to protect them,” Jubilee responds. Miranda understands, and assures Jubilee that apologizing was the right thing to do. However, she reminds Jubilee of the strong influence she holds over her teammates.
“You’ve been part of the X-Men longer than any of us. You have an insight that we can never really understand,” Miranda says while taking a seat next to Jubilee on the bench. “If you’re not happy here, it makes us all uneasy.” Jubilee once again states she does not trust Night Thrasher. Miranda admits the guy is by no means perfect, but the good he does outweighs his occasionally suspicious behaviors. Jubilee may not agree, but she wants to be there for her teammates regardless. She leans toward Miranda and the two women share a friendly hug.
As the New Warriors’ jet flies over slabs of crumbled concrete and twisted debris in upstate New York, Night Thrasher debriefs the team on its upcoming target. Machinesmith, he explains, is developing a new strain of the Techno-Organic virus that could be much more deadly than the last. Tempest asks what Machinesmith plans to do with this new virus, but Night Thrasher responds that he does not know. Most of the team trusts his judgment anyway. Wondra, however, seems unconvinced, but keeps quiet for the time being.
Meanwhile, beneath the surface, Machinesmith works in his command station. The frail, balding, red-headed man readies an upcoming operation when he hears a loud noise inside his lab. He turns and sees Night Thrasher, Decibel, Blackwing, Skybolt, Phaser, Tempest, Wondra, and Ripcord standing before him. “Who are you children?” he asks.
“Why does everyone call us that?” quips Ripcord. Skybolt skips the banter and immediately lunges toward Machinesmith with his jetpack, but the scientist levels him with an unexpected optic blast. Then, Machinesmith begins to transform. His human flesh sloughs away, revealing a fully robotic form underneath. The New Warriors stare in amazement; this is not exactly what they were expecting. Machinesmith’s left arm suddenly transforms into a fully functioning cannon and he begins firing at the New Warriors. Night Thrasher orders the team to scatter.
As they fight, they remember their training. Working in tandem, Decibel conjures a shield of sound-waves around himself and Ripcord, while Skybolt asks for cover. Tempest ignores him, believing she holds the key to winning the battle. “I always wanted to know the freezing point of steel,” she says as she slinks up alongside Machinesmith. He pivots and tries to crush her with his massive arm, but she slips out of the way. His wife’s proximity to the villain makes Blackwing uncomfortable, however.
While the New Warriors deal with their target, Night Thrasher once again sneaks away unnoticed. He is able to find his way through the lab quite easily using his advanced technology. Before long, he reaches Machinesmith’s database and begins downloading its contents onto a flash drive.
Tempest, meanwhile, succeeds in freezing Machinesmith in place. Then, with one swift punch, Wondra shatters his frozen form into a thousand pieces. “Uh…was that part of the plan?” Skybolt asks. No one else cares whether it was planned or not. They are simply glad they won so easily. Wondra looks around and notices Night Thrasher has once again disappeared, though.
Ripcord looks down at the shattered remains of Machinesmith and notices something strange. “Uh, guys, is it just me,” she says, “…or are we having one of those Terminator 2 moments?” Sure enough, the frozen steel fragments begin reassembling themselves. They aggregate into a large pile, from which a bulkier, more menacing Machinesmith emerges.
“Cyborg lesson 1: Make yourself impossible to kill,” Machinesmith says.
Sofia continues to argue with Kat Farrel’s antagonistic view of the New Warriors. She defends their courage and their willingness to stand up for those in need. The Initiative exists to serve that very purpose, Kat reminds Sofia. At this, Sofia lets her feelings about the Initiative be known. Setting up something like the Initiative may be done with good intentions, but it only makes it easier for one person with bad intentions to control the whole thing. It makes their whole society susceptible to suddenly becoming a superhuman police state. With that, Sofia stands up and leaves the table.
Kat asks where she is going. “This sounds like more than just an interview if you ask me,” Sofia responds. Kat insists she only wants to inform the public of the danger posed by the New Warriors. “Sorry. Can’t help you. Your order will be up in a minute,” Sofia says.
“What about the cheesecake?” Kat asks.
“We’re all out.”
The second form of Machinesmith proves to be a much more formidable foe. After zapping Phaser, Machinesmith assesses the hero’s multi-phasic photon accelerator, and somehow commandeers it for his own use. The New Warriors brace themselves for Machinesmith’s next powerful attack. He slams his fists to the ground, sending a surge of power in all directions. Tempest manages to block the attack with an ice-shield, while Wondra slips out if its way. The rest of the team falls in the wake of the blast.
Seemingly out of nowhere, Night Thrasher reappears and scoops Ripcord up off the ground. They have lost the battle, he assesses, so he orders Wondra to retreat with him. Wondra looks at Skybolt and Decibel, both of whom have fallen unconscious, and refuses to leave. She springs to assist them. A high-powered blast by Machinesmith halts her progress, in addition to weakening the ceiling. The entire structure comes crashing down and divides the room in two: Blackwing, Night Thrasher, Ripcord, and Wondra stand on one side, while Skybolt, Tempest, Phaser, and Decibel are stuck on the other.
Blackwing immediately realizes his wife remains on the other side of the barrier with Machinesmith. Before he has a chance to claw his way through the debris, Night Thrasher zaps him in the back and knocks him unconscious. “We have to regroup,” he says. “We’ll be back! I swear it!”
The remaining New Warriors cannot believe their teammates abandoned them. Before them stands a hopeless barrier of steel and concrete, and behind them, the hulking, unstoppable menace, Machinesmith.