“You’re emissaries of the Initiative, aren’t you? Stark-lackeys come to appropriate my work,” Machinesmith asks the New Warriors. The cornered heroes, cowering behind Decibel’s sonar protection field, know not what he means.
“You got us all wrong, chief,” Skybolt says. “We don’t work for Stark. We’re the New Warriors. And we’re here to take you down.” An intense optic blast by Machinesmith destroys the force field, forcing the team to scatter. Each time he attacks, Machinesmith manages to absorb another member’s technology. Decibel, however, does not yet realize this. He blasts a sonic wave at the robot, granting him yet another ability.
The New Warriors find an opening in the wall and begin to escape. Decibel chooses to stay behind, essentially risking his life so his teammates may have a chance to escape. They object, but he insists. As they pour through the crevice, they immediately regret their actions. Tempest tells Skybolt and Phaser she does not like leaving Jono behind. Skybolt reminds her Jono is the only New Warrior who still has functioning tech. Jono knows what he is doing, he tells her.
For once, Skybolt is right; Decibel manages to construct a fully operational suit of mechanical body armor using his remaining tech. Machinesmith commends Decibel’s noble gesture, but assures the young man that it was made in vain. Decibel agrees it may be costly. However, it may also provide his teammates with the opportunity they need to escape. “We will see,” Machinesmith says as he shatters Jono’s shield with another blast. The crafty New Warrior, however, refuses to fall. He unleashes a precision sound wave at the exact frequency needed to cancel out Machinesmith’s electrical impulses, after which Machinesmith’s body completely shuts down.
“I may have blown at my tech,” Decibel says as he walks through the exit, “…but by the time you’re able to move, we’ll be long gone.”
Machinesmith can only sneer as he waits for his suit to reboot. While he admits Decibel’s attack was indeed clever, he vows to stop the fractured squad of heroes from escaping. His suit metamorphoses into yet another form: a monstrous, robotic snake. Machinesmith plunges into the ground and begins to burrow after the fleeing New Warriors.
New Warriors HQ…
All is not well at home. Blackwing and Wondra attack their team leader Night Thrasher for leaving the rest of the New Warriors behind, while Ripcord pleads for them to calm down. They ignore her. “Instead of fighting, we should be figuring out how to get them back!” Thrasher yells, while dodging a large robot thrown by Jubilee.
“Like you care!” Wondra screams while slamming her fists onto his shoulders. She grabs him by the arm and hurls him against a wall, ignoring his pleas to form a rescue team. They wouldn’t be in this mess if it weren’t for him, Wondra says. She has no compunction against giving him a good thrashing.
Ripcord begins to worry. She tells Blackwing that Wondra and Thrasher might kill each other if someone does not intervene. Blackwing, however, thinks Thrasher deserves the abuse. Before the situation escalates any further, Renascence enters the lab in her crime-fighting outfit. “HEY!” she shouts, immediately drawing their attention. “What the hell is going on here?”
Blackwing explains that, once again, Night Thrasher abandoned the team in the middle of a fight. This time, though, he made several team members retreat with him upon returning, essentially leaving their teammates to certain death. Night Thrasher tries to explain, but Barnell gets in his face. “We don’t need him, Jube. We can rescue them ourselves,” he screams, his face barely an inch from Thrasher’s.
Finally, using her rational way of speaking, Renascence manages to bring the arguing to an end. She reminds the team that while they may be angry at Night Thrasher, they will need his help in rescuing their teammates. They should not condemn their friends to death out of spite. Additionally, she adds that Thrasher may have simply made a bad decision: do they really think he left his friends behind on purpose? Everyone is capable of making poor decisions when under pressure, after all. If Wondra was so certain they should not have left, then why did she flee as well? Why did she not remain behind?
“I – I was…unconscious,” Wondra replies.
Renascence suddenly has a much clearer portrait of what happened: Wondra, the team’s strongest member, was knocked out, and several other team members were injured. Night Thrasher did what any responsible team leader would have done. He brought as many of his charges to safety as possible. “Yeah, we should definitely have him court-martialed for that,” Renascence says.
Jubilee concedes her point. She does add, though, that Night Thrasher needs to lead the team the right way from now on. If he cannot, he should step down. Night Thrasher ignores this jab and begins telling his remaining New Warriors how they will retrieve their teammates.
Tempest, Decibel, Skybolt, and Phaser run through the confusing hallways of Machinesmith’s laboratory. As they turn yet another corner, Jono orders his teammates to stop for a moment. Instead of mindlessly running, he wants to take a moment to strategize
Phaser asks what he Decibel is doing after witnessing him pull his tech apart. Decibel responds that he is assessing his remaining inventory; they need to pool their working tech together and divvy it up. Jono asks what everyone else still has.
“I got a toothache, that’s what I got,” Skybolt says.
“I’m serious, Vin,” Jono replies.
Vincent replies that he is, too. “I think Machinesmith’s got one’a m’fillin’s.” The rest of the team begins collecting their remaining tech. They discover they have one emergency pack, some web disks, adhesive, a few gas pellets, some freeze coolant, napalm cartridges, a phosphorous pack, a flack jacket, and two or three of Skybolt’s missiles. Decibel arranges the tech on the floor.
“We’re going to make as many weapons as we can,” Decibel says. Thankfully, the New Warriors were forced to spend hours upon hours assembling their tech in the dark during training. Jono is easily able to rig up some new concoctions due to this enhanced understanding.
Diablo’s Castle in Mexico…
Midnight’s Fire sneaks undetected into one of Diablo’s display rooms. His target, the elusive Book of Shades, rests in a display podium in the room’s center. Midnight’s Fire approaches it with caution. His intrusion is finally noticed.
A cloud of gas swirls around the podium before taking on the form of a demon. Spraying it with some powerful coolant from his gear, Midnight’s Fire puts the unusual security guard on ice. It solidifies, falls to the ground, and shatters. He grabs the book and flees.
Diablo finally realizes an intruder has entered his library. By the time he arrives in the viewing room, however, both Midnight’s Fire and the Book of Shades are already gone.
New Warriors HQ…
Night Thrasher approaches his dawdling tech handlers, Aja, Grace and Kaz, in the control room. He tells them he needs their help in saving the team. They ask what they can do; he tells them it is time for their first mission.
Meanwhile, Detectives Givens and Sykes return to their office. They just witnessed another case in which a superhuman clashed with the law, this one with an ending almost as tragic as the infamous incident in Stamford. She and her partner were not at fault, Sykes complains, but they were suspended anyway.
Syke’s rant is cut short when they reach the office. Expecting to undergo a debriefing, they instead find the office completely empty. Empty, that is, except for one man who stands in the shadows. “Stark?! What are you doing here?” Sykes asks.
“Me?” Tony Stark says while stepping into the light. “I’m about to become your best friend.”
As the New Warriors run through the sewers underneath the lab, Tempest wonders if she will ever get to see her husband or children again. Skybolt comments that his teammate seems distant. Tempest tells him she is worried, but Skybolt promises they will make it out okay. Tempest, while appreciative, just can’t take comfort in his empty pledge. “You can’t promise something like that, Vin. We don’t know what will happen down here.”
Suddenly, the serpentine Machinesmith bursts out of the wall and blocks their escape. Did they really think they could escape, he asks? Every aspect of his laboratory connects directly to his central consciousness, after all.
Decibel wastes no time answering his question. He shouts at his teammates to run. As they wade through the watery pathway, Tempest hurls her freeze coolant at Machinesmith. The results are better than expected; it freezes the water in place, trapping Machinesmith in ice. The New Warriors, however, have no doubt he will quickly be free.
The ice shatters as Machinesmith breaks out of his confinement. He tunnels through a nearby wall, hot on the trail of his prey. However, he slides right into their next trap. Machinesmith finds himself tangled in a thick patch of artificial webbing. As soon as he begins to struggle, an electrical current courses through the sticky trap, electrocuting him.
The New Warriors hear the sounds of Machinesmith getting zapped. “You think it will hold him?” Tempest asks as she descends an access ladder.
“You want to go back and ask him?” Decibel responds from below. Skybolt, Phaser, Tempest, and Decibel regroup in the next room. This drab, concrete foyer has one entrance, and three exits. It also lacks any indication as to where each door leads. The team is stumped, as Decibel refuses to lead them deeper into the confusing waterways. Instead of running, he orders his teammates to once again assess their inventories.
They begin to list off their supplies: one-and-a-half battery packs, three web bombs, and one freeze disk. Skybolt comments that they may soon be playing the role of Custer during his last stand. Tempest scoffs at his negativity, but Vincent assures her he always wanted to go out in a blaze of glory.
While these two bicker, a mechanical tentacle emerges from the floor and snares Tempest around the waist. “Angel!” Phaser screams. After Machinesmith pulls himself up through the floor, clutching the helpless Tempest in his left arm, he gives the team one final, menacing glare.
“Did you say ‘blaze of glory’?” he asks Skybolt. “Interesting choice of words.”