Night Thrasher’s plan was flawless. After months of preparation, gathering the pieces he needed, and performing intricate calculations down to last decimal, its execution should have been equally flawless. So, how did it end up like this?
The New Warriors look around and are simply astounded by the reality in which they have arrived. Sentinels resembling Iron Man roam the skies. On every street corner stands a police officer outfitted in a War Machine suit. High above the ground level traffic, which includes hovering police cars, an interactive billboard displays a streaming image of Iron Man transposed against a rippling American flag with the caption “Our Savior.” And, behind an enclosed fence in a city park stands an immense, gold-plated, statue of Iron Man nobly looking to the distant horizon.
Decibel is stunned that they are actually in the future. Phaser looks skyward and asks if the flying Iron Man robots are Sentinels. Yeah, Blackwing tells him, adding it seems Tony Stark did indeed take over the world. Tagalong police detective Beverly Sykes finds this more surprising than anyone: although she witnessed first-hand the Gulf War, America’s war on drugs, 9/11, the superhero Civil War, not even she can comprehend the severity of what she sees. How did the country come to this?
Wondra is the least surprised of them all. She knew this wasn’t going to work! Every time they follow Night Thrasher’s lead they end up in disastrous situations. “What’ve you got to say for yourself now, big man?” she asks forcefully.
Renascence tells her teammate to calm down. What were they supposed to do? The feds had them trapped and were moving in for the kill. Night Thrasher’s portal was the only chance they had to escape. Detective Sykes insists they were not trying to kill anyone. “Tell that to Vin and Mira,” Renascence responds. Sykes gets in her face. What happened was an accident. The New Warriors were breaking the law. If they had only submitted to registration like all the normal superhumans, this would not have happened. Isn’t “normal superhumans” an oxymoron, Renascence quips?
Jono, trying to maintain a positive attitude, asks Night Thrasher if he has a contingency plan. It was the Ka Stone, Thrash says cryptically. The team asks what he means, and he elaborates. Somehow, the Ka Stone must have warped them into the future instead of the past, but he has no idea why. Still, Jono says, they need to find some way back to their own time. Tempest asks him how; didn’t they leave their time machine at home? Jubilee begins to suggest they find another way, but Night Thrasher interrupts. Their primary concern is completing their mission, he says. His flabbergasted team asks if he is insane. No, he says. His purpose is clearer than ever. He asks them to look around. Obviously the worst-case scenario concerning Stark has come to pass. With what they now know, it is more important than ever they travel to the past and save the original New Warriors.
“Give me a break,” laughs Detective Sykes. Phaser asks her what is so funny. Do they even have a clue what they’re talking about, she asks? Traveling through time isn’t like hopping on the A-train to Coney Island. Their efforts will only makes things worse. Besides, this is Night Thrasher’s fault, she says, emphasizing her uncertainty regarding his true identity. He is going to lead everyone to their deaths, just like he did the others. Thrash claims it was their choice. Was it, Beverly asks?
Night Thrasher glares at her. She doesn’t understand and they’re wasting time. He can still save his brother if they find another time travel device. Wondra stops him right there. If they do find a time machine, they are using it to go home. As far as she is concerned, this mission is over. Fine, Night Thrasher tells her. They can do whatever they want to do. He is going to do what he was meant to do. Good luck finding a way home, he tells his team. They stare at his back distrustfully as he walks away.
After finding some civilian clothes so as to not attract any attention, the rest of the New Warriors amble down the streets of New York City, searching for some semblance of direction. Barnell wonders where their counterparts in this reality might be. Probably in jail, answers Detective Sykes. Angel snaps at her for drawing out that topic. Why shouldn’t she, Sykes asks? “Because in case you haven’t noticed, girlfriend, you’re stuck here with us,” Angel says, adding they need to stick together. Beverly doesn’t care. If she had to do it all over again, she would still try to detain the New Warriors. Having volunteered with the clean-up at Stamford and witnessing that carnage firsthand, she will never forget the parties responsible were reckless, attention-seeking, super-powered teenagers.
“That wasn’t us and you know it!” Barnell shouts in her face. Sykes doesn’t think it matters. Just like the other New Warriors, they are untrained, disorganized, and refuse to answer to anyone. Answer to what, Barnell asks? A fascist government? Defensively, Detective Sykes asks what he means. “Good men and women incarcerated for no reason other than they want to help others. Forced to live by some warped definition of what it means to be a hero and a patriot,” Barnell says. “You’re damn right we answer to no one. We will never answer to that crap.”
Before the fight gets too out of hand, Wondra breaks it up and reminds everyone to focus on their current task. They need to find a way home. It’s not like they can look up “time machine” in the phone book, Sofia jokes. Up ahead, the team sees a group of protestors picketing in the streets. They get closer and realize they are protesting the policies of Iron Man. The anti-fascism protest, however, is quickly broken up by the arrival of several armored members of the New York Police Department. Upon witnessing this suppression of free speech, Sykes asks whether or not they should find her old partner, Detective Harry Givens. Maybe he could help them out, if he is still alive. He could have turned to the dark side, Barnell says. Regardless, Jubilation disagrees with seeking help just yet. She thinks they should look around and calibrate themselves first.
A poster on a phone pole suddenly draws Jubilee’s attention. She cannot believe it: according to the flyer, Night Thrasher is wanted by the authorities in this reality as well. After Jono stares at the poster in contemplation for a moment, Wondra asks what is wrong. He tells her he is just thinking about what it must be like for Night Thrasher. His whole life, he’s been fighting to defend his beliefs, and it seems in this reality he is all alone. Maybe this Night Thrasher is who they should find. Maybe he can help them get home. Good idea, Wondra says, but where should they look?
Meanwhile, Donyell Taylor, dressed in a trench-coat and no longer wearing his mask, rips one of the “WANTED” flyers off the wall. His first thought upon learning he is also wanted in this reality is, why hasn’t he succeeded yet? He walks down the street, staring at the poster, wondering what went wrong. It must have been the Ka Stone, he tells himself. Magic was the only chaotic variable. Maybe he should have heeded the warnings of Midnight’s Fire.
Suddenly, he is struck from behind by a large object. He twirls around and draws his photonic blade on his attacker. The assailant, however, turns out to be a young black boy, and the weapon nothing more than a basketball. Sorry mister, the boy says, before asking to have his ball back. Donyell withdraws his blade and hands him his ball. Astonished, the kid asks Donyell if he is a superhero or something. “Er…let’s just keep that between you and me,” he answers. He decides to ask the kid a question, though: what can he tell him about Night Thrasher? The boy excitedly answers that Night Thrasher is the best! He’s a dark creature of the night and a savior of the world. Unfortunately the boy’s mother appears as he says this and yells at him for talking that way. Doesn’t he know what could happen if someone overhears him? He could wind up in “42” like all the others, she says. Donyell assures her the boy meant no harm, but this seemingly innocuous gesture rouses her ire even further. She gets in his face and tells him to stay away from her son!
Later that evening, after wandering around the city for hours being ignored, the New Warriors decide to grab some food. How, Jono asks? Every establishment they visit only accepts credit. They happen to walk by Al’s Diner, Sofia’s restaurant of employment in their reality. She notices the blurb beneath the glowing red sign that boasts “over one trillion meals served” and wonders aloud if Al is now selling franchises. Nevertheless, they decide to enter. Maybe her old coworkers Ruthie and Tina could help them, if they’re inside.
A loud voice cuts through the noise of the city and calls all citizens to attention. Still confused as ever, the New Warriors look around and asks what’s happening. They notice all the nearby civilians standing at attention. What are they staring at, Wondra asks? She notices a large television screen atop a nearby building that seems to have everyone’s attention. A broadcast, bearing the cryptic insignia for a company called Stark/Taylor, commences with a message from none other than Iron Man. Citizens of America, he begins. As we embark upon our endeavor to spread superhuman registration and control to Europe and Asia, we look forward to unparalleled success. However, there are still rebels who wish to selfishly destroy our ways, and they must be dealt with swiftly and with malice. The camera cuts to an execution chamber. On a dais in the center of the room stand two restrained super-humans, one of whom resembles a large reptile, and the other, a generic masked hero. Yet another group of super-villains have been apprehended trying to destroy what life we have built, he says, indicating anxious captives. They are dealt with harshly. A gun fires upon the two men, shunting them to some dark void. This is the fate of all who defy the will of the people.
The New Warriors watch this broadcast in stunned silence. Sofia is the first to break it. Whoa, she says. If nothing else had convinced her they need to get home, this broadcast certainly did. Wondra wholeheartedly agrees. She knew Stark was a control freak, but had no idea he would go this far. Her fervor renewed, she turns to her friends and says they need to find someone who knows of Night Thrasher’s whereabouts.
The untimely arrival of a group of War Machine officers puts a kink in her plans. Hands up, the officers demand! By order of the Guardsmen of the United States, they are all under arrest for possession of illegal technology. Wondra insists they didn’t do anything, but the officers see it otherwise. They identify her as Jubilation Lee of the New Warriors and list her series of offenses: Unauthorized Superhuman Activity, Murder, Criminal Mischief, Obstruction of Justice, Destruction of Property, and Conduct Unbecoming of a Citizen. The team gasps. Detective Sykes tells them she will handle it. Presenting her badge, she introduces herself to the officers and even lists her badge number. After performing an analysis of her identity, however, they inform her that Detective Sykes was killed in action thirty years earlier. She must be an imposter. Stunned, Sykes tries to assure them she is who she says she is. She came to this era through a timewarp! The officers care not. They order the whole group arrested.
Wondra refuses to let her team go easy. “New Warriors, hit and run!” she shouts. The team springs into action. Renascence incapacitates a trio of officers with her Doctor Octopus arms. Wondra’s super-strength gives her the physical advantage over several units. Phaser and Decibel, meanwhile, attack from a distance using the energy projection granted by their tech. Fighting back to back, Tempest remarks to her husband how easy these guys are. Suddenly, sharp neural impulse penetrates the minds of the entire team and knocks them unconscious. “Gather them up for projection into the Nth Dimension,” one of the War Machine units says. “Grab the imposter as well.”
Bev Sykes begs for them to listen to her, but they continue to ignore her. However, a sudden string of powerful explosions knocks the entire squad off-balance. Their attacker is none other than the wanted man himself, Night Thrasher, who carries a photonic bo staff. He orders them to let Detective Sykes go. When a lady says ‘no,’ she means ‘no.’