“Out of the night that covers me.
Black is the pit from pole to pole.
I thank whatever Gods may be…
for my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance…
I have not winced nor cried aloud.”
Somewhere in the city, night…
Masked and heavily armed, three men break into a warehouse. After a short search, they find their target: a crate marked Starktech #ST-29TMA. While one man keeps watch, another opens it with a crowbar. However, before they can investigate its contents, they are suddenly joined by Night Thrasher, leaping into action. He attacks the trio without remorse, using his baton to knock them out before they can draw their weapons. He takes but a moment to consider the crate’s contents before leaving.
“Under the bludgeoning of chance,
my head is bloodied, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears.
Looms but the horror of shade.
And yet the menace of the years…
finds and shall find me unafraid.”
“It matters not how strait the gate,
how charged with punishment the scroll.
I am the master of my fate
I am the captain of my soul.”
Later that night at the graveyard, Night Thrasher stands before the tombstone of his deceased brother, Dwayne, the original Night Thrasher. Donyell remembers when Dwayne taught him that poem. Dwayne taught him that nothing is impossible if you put your mind to it. Now, Donyell has put his mind to something, “and here we are,” he says. It will be something that will make his brother proud. Something that will continue the legacy and he started and bring honor to Dwayne’s name… their name… the family name.
Almost in reflection of his mood, a lightening bolt flashes across the sky. Continuing, Donyell promises to his brother he’ll make things right. He’ll turn around. Sometimes, he recalls, he thinks about the way he and his brother started. The things he said to him, the things he has done… and it sickens him. Donyell sighs and remembers he was still the rouge villain known as Bandit.
At the time, Donyell hated Dwayne. He blamed Dwayne for everything that went wrong in his life. Donyell got back at Dwayne. He broke the cardinal rule and took Dwayne’s girlfriend, Silhouette, away from him. Yeah, they reconciled and he eventually became a New Warrior but, just as they were getting to know each other again, were really starting to feel like brothers… Dwayne was gone. “But soon, brother,” Donyell points out, “it’ll be like it was before… even better.”
Suddenly, Donyell is interrupted by a familiar girl walking on crutches. The girl says she didn’t want to believe it, but she had to see it for herself. Donyell is shocked to see none other than… Silhouette!
New Warriors HQ…
In the dark, several voices express their displeasure. One complains that they can’t get it in, with another accusing the first of not trying. When someone remarks that they missed, another rejoins that they don’t know what they’re doing, to which yet another remarks that they also don’t know what they’re doing either. After a few more such laments, one of the voices calls for Grace to turn on the lights. Doing so, Jubilee tells the New Warriors – all sitting on the floor in civilian garb – that they’re time’s up… and she still sees too many pieces left over. Among his teammates, all of whom were trying to assemble their weapons, Skybolt alone was successful. Grinning as a result, he paraphrases that “This is my Turbo suit. There have been many like it, but this one is mine.”
Skybolt, however, is indeed not alone and announces that he’s done as well, to which Jubilee compliments Jono on the fine job, which makes Skybolt a bit jealous. Jubilee explains that, by putting their weapons together in the dark, it will give them a better understanding of them. By the time they finish, she wants everyone to know how to repair, jury-rig and even modify every minute aspect of their equipment at a moment’s notice.
In demonstration, Skybolt jokes that the Turbo suit never looked so good. “Not bad,” Jubilee compliments as Vin shows it off. “Now see if it works.” Vin tries to fire one of his gauntlets, but it promptly fizzles, much to his dismay.
Speaking up, Ripcord says she doesn’t understand why they have to go through this. They’re not engineers, she points out… she can’t even set her DVD player. Incredulous, Angel mocks that Ripcord doesn’t use Tivo? Ignoring Angel, Jubilee explains they don’t have to be engineers. All technology works on the same basic principles. If they learn those principles, they’ll be able to fix a space shuttle if they have to.
Sofia complaints they never had training like this with the X-Men. She feels this is more like boot camp. Jubilee tells Sofia that since they don’t have their powers anymore, they have to think and react in different ways than they’re used to. Barry adds they’re also dealing with a massive conspiracy theory that’s been brewing longer than Roswell. So they need to be ready for anything. When Sofia clearly doesn’t understand, Barry asks Sofia if she ever heard about the Garner papers. “The what?” a confused Sofia then asks. “Here we go again,” Ripcord sighs, rolling her eyes.
The Garner papers, Barry repeats. He explains that few people know this, but that the registration act has actually been planned for years by a secret organization called Control. It’s like Skull-and-Bones, and included high-ranking members of the government and the M.I.C., the Military Industrial Complex. Even Howard Stark, the father of Tony Stark, was involved in it. Wide-eyed, Sofia thinks Barry is kidding, though Jubilee merely tells Barry to stop it, as she doesn’t believe one word of that story. However, Skybolt wants Barry to continue, claiming Sofia needs to know the truth.
Barry further explains that a man named Cliff Garner outlined a government conspiracy where certain conditions were specifically arranged in order to facilitate the creation of superhumans for militaristic purposes. Skybolt interrupts, telling everyone they better listen to this. He mentions this has been in the works since before the Cold War and that, today, Tony Stark is carrying out his daddy’s master plan.
Everyone stares in stunned silence for a few moments, but then quickly begin to throw cans of soda and pizza boxes at Barry and Vin, wanting to stop creeping them out. As she leads her away, Jubilee jokes to Sofia not to listen to the “Lone Gunmen” and that Barry still believes the Enquirer. As they depart, Vin defends that almost half of those stories have some truth in them. And, he adds, if they are locked up in Prison 42, they don’t have to come crying to him.
Angel hugs Barry, reminding him she told him to let that go. He’s starting to worry her, and claims that those conspiracy theories are just junk. “But what if they’re not?” Barry wonders, more than a bit angry. They can’t afford to go wrong. Angel suggests they take their minds off it and spend tonight at home with the kids. She promises she’ll make that baked ziti dish Barry likes. Ripcord ovehears Angel and begs for her to let her come as well, as she loves ziti dishes as well. Vin suggests to make it a foursome, because he’s getting tired of cheeseburgers and tacos all the time. Besides, he and Tito have a mean “Need For Speed” grudge match going on, and he wants to defeat the kid. Barry jokes to Vin to trust him when he says he’ll never beat his son at the game.
Angel walks over to Phaser, who sits alone in the corner, visibly upset. She invites him to come as well. When Christian offers a “no thanks,” Angel begins to tell him it will take his mind off… However Christian furiously interrupts Angel and shouts at her it was his sister who died! He doesn’t want to take his mind off of her! For a long time, he tell her, it was just him and her, and now… Angel makes it clear to Christian that it doesn’t have to be that way anymore. Shouting this time, Phaser tells Angel just to leave him alone. Shocked at the outburst, Ripcord tries to verbally stop the argument, but it is Barry who physically gets between them, reminding Christian that she is his wife. Still, Angel says it’s okay, realizing that Christian is still grieving.
Having witnessed this, Vin remarks to Ripcord that he feels bad that Chris lost his sister but, doesn’t she think they seemed kind of… weird? To this, she tells him to shut up, and then asks what’s wrong with him. When he innocently asks what she said, she turns her back at him, calling him a knucklehead.
Still walking Sofia out, Jubilee instructs the others to keep training while she leaves with Sofia. Sofia asks where they are going. “You’ll see when we get there”, a stoic Jubilee responds.
Ultragirl is standing on a stage, where she addresses a packed theater hall. Behind her stand, watching, Iron Man, Ms. Marvel, some bodyguards and Justice. Ultragirl begins by thanking Tony Stark and Ms. Marvel for giving her the opportunity to help shape young minds and show them what true heroism is all about.
Behind her, Miriam Sharpe congratulates Tony on the fine choice of making Ultragirl to run this. Tony thanks her, believing Ultragirl is a natural-born leader.
So, without further delay, Ultragirl would like to present the newest members of the Initiative… the Junior Guardsmen! Waving toward them, she presents a few dozen children, all wearing a dark grey uniform, with SHIELD patches on their short-sleeve shirts. Each youth smiles from behind their wrap-around sunglasses, which hide their eyes. As the kids then begin to pose for the cameras, Ultragirl continues, explaining that this new program will teach young kids what it truly means to be heroes.
Ultragirl’s first question comes from a reporter who asks if this group is meant to be a counter to the popularity of the New Warriors against school-aged kids. Not really, Ultragirl answers. But this organization does allow these kids to participate in the heroic process. After all, she explains, who didn’t want to be a super hero when they were a kid?
Nearby, Carol whispers to Tony that Ultragirl is laying it on a bit thick, to which a smiling Tony replies that she’s just keeping it honest. To this, Carol doesn’t want Tony to even try it. Carol just gave Ultragirl the benefit of her knowledge leading the Avengers. Or, should she say… Tony’s Avengers? “Very funny,” Tony jokes. But he compliments Ultragirl on doing a great job.
A female reporter asks Ultragirl, with her being a former New Warrior herself, how she feels about this new vigilante team calling who are calling themselves New Warriors. Ultragirl thinks they are dangerous and irresponsible. The fact that one of them was killed during the battle against the Zodiac proves that. But, the reporter continues, she thinks Ultragirl has to admit that the New Warriors did save scores of lives and even rescued members of the Initiative after they got their heads handed to them.
As Ultragirl struggles with how to respond to this, Carol mutters, “Uh-Oh.” Though less vocal, both Tony and Miriam are also on the edge of their seats, waiting for an answer.
Pressing, the reporter asks if the Warriors were dangerous and irresponsible when they were saving lives. Or were they courageous? Or were they just doing what heroes are supposed to do? Ultragirl makes it clear that heroes still have to follow the rules. But if the Warriors had followed the rules, the reporter refuses to give up, they wouldn’t have been there. And if so, is Ultragirl certain that those Initiative heroes would still be alive? Ultragirl doesn’t know how to respond to that.
Carol steps in, and places her hand on Ultragirl’s shoulder. She jokes they don’t want to exhaust their new Guard Master before her chair even gets warm. Carol explains that the fact remains that they’re now setting an example for young kids to follow, and they hope they’ll have everyone’s support. For now, Carol concludes, they have refreshments and Press Kits for everyone, courtesy of SHIELD. She thanks everyone for coming.
As they walk behind the curtain, Ultragirl sighs that she sounded like a complete idiot. Carol tries to cheer her up by saying that, if sounding like an idiot was a crime, she’d be Magneto. She tells Ultragirl to forget it, as every public figure knows you can’t win with the press. She was nervous too when Tony asked her to lead the Avengers. Carol reminds Ultragirl that she is just starting off and just needs to give herself some time. She knows, Ultragirl replies as she leave.
Following her behind stage, Justice walks over to Ultragirl, and agrees with what Ms. Marvel told her. It was just nerves. But Ultragirl doesn’t think so. She doesn’t know if she’s ready for this. She thinks they should have given Vance the leader position. But he doesn’t want to be a brownshirt poster boy, he replies. When Ultragirl then asks what that is supposed to mean, Vance replies that he does know. Superhuman propaganda, training kids like heroes… to him, it sounds like another way to put them in harm’s way. And after what happened to MVP… Ultragirl sighs that sure didn’t make her feel better. All Vance is saying is that all this gives him a bad feeling.
New Warriors HQ…
Jubilee shows Sofia to a worktable where lots of weaponry lies on: web shooters, anti-gravity discs, shocker gauntlets, ghost tech… and wonders where to start. Jubilee wants Sofia to pick up at least four devices, but no more. Any more than that has a negative response on power consumption. Scratching her shaved head, Sofia asks if it wouldn’t be easier if she got hold on the Terrigan Mists or some MGH. Jubilee explains they were all too unstable, and that this is more fun.
Suddenly, they are joined by a floating robot, composed simply of a small torso and camera-like head, startling Sofia in the process. Emphatically, it suggests that she try the force field belt, that way she won’t get fried the next time she does something stupid.
Having regained her composure, an annoyed Sofia demands to know what kind of thing that is. Jubilee laughs. The robot is known as P-Jack. It stands for positronic, something-or-order. Thrasher and Kaz build him. She tells P-Jack to say “hello,” but is ignored. P-Jack isn’t impressed by Sofia, whom he mistakes as Wind Prancer. Sofia angrily corrects the robot she was called Wind Dancer. The robot doesn’t care and mocks Sofia it’s too bad she didn’t dance away from Scorpio’s blast. Jubilee reminds P-Jack of its manners. She promises to Sofia she’ll talk to Kaz about it. He might’ve programmed a little too much attitude in P-Jack to make him sound more human. “You think,” a displeased Sofia says.
Returning to the table, Sofia takes a look at some spectacular sunglasses and asks how they got all this stuff. Jubilee asks Sofia if she remembers when the Scarlet Witch destroyed the Avengers Mansion, to which Sofia asks how she could not. Jubilee explains Sofia would be surprised what the city dump considers garbage. Before the mansion was properly quarantined by Tony Stark, Night Thrasher got in and grabbed what he could. Their entire database is based on what he was able to salvage. Sofia is a bit surprised their leader is a dumpster diver.
Sofia picks up another device and asks what it is, only to have it grabbed from her by Decibel’s hard-sound claw. Interrupting, he explains that it’s already spoken for. He then creates two replicas of himself that pull Sofia away from the device, and jokingly asks that she wouldn’t take away the one thing that makes him special on this team, now would she? As Jubilee tells Jono to get over himself, Sofia punches one of the replicas. When she asks what made Jono chose sound powers, he replies that he doesn’t really know. He guesses it’s just how each of them felt inside. Sofia doesn’t understand.
“This is only as hard as you make it,” a confident Decibel states. Before this, he was basically a monster. There were more scarecrows that had more of a face than he did. He couldn’t get close to anyone. Then to make matters worse, Apocalypse turned Jono into one of his dogs. Jono removes his sound forms, and concludes that this was the first time he actually got to choose who he is. Now, he can create. He’s not a being of total destruction. Nobody can imagine how good that feels.
Jubilee tells Sofia to take her time as they have plenty of tech to choose from. Jono playfully puts his arm around Sofia, joking it’s all about rebirth… and that the answer will come. Sofia thinks about it.
Meanwhile, at the graveyard…
Night Thrasher asks Silhouette what she is doing there, but she replies that she could ask Thrasher the same question: a dead man staring at his own grave. But she realized something. The way Thrasher moves. The way he fights. Looking at him on television, he had Sil fooled for a moment, she’ll give him that. But seeing him here, face to face… now she knows the truth. It’s really him in there… isn’t it… Donyell?
When Thrasher doesn’t answer, Silhouette continues. He was the man she fell in love with. And from what she can see… he still feels the same way. “That wasn’t love,” an angry Thrasher confesses, waving his finger at her. Silhouette gently touches his mask, and asks what he would call it, then. Thrasher doesn’t think that matters. He wants to know if Sil came to drag him in. Drag him before Stark and the Initiative as the “anarchist” he is? Sil doesn’t know how Thrasher could say that, but he remarks that that isn’t denial.
Silhouette makes it clear to him that they’re going to hunt Night Thrasher and his friends down like dogs. She knows he’s thinking that he’s bringing respect to what they build back in the day, but she feels he’s wrong: Night Thrasher is making it worse. “Are you finished?” Night Thrasher asks coldly.
“Oh, Donyell…” Silhouette sadly sighs. Her demeanor turning angry, she tells Thrasher to listen to himself. He has to stop pretending to be some stone-faced dark creature of the night. It was tired when Dwayne did it. And it’s tired now. She wonders what it is with the Taylors. “Strength and honor,” Night Thrahser defends. It’s something their father taught him and Dwayne. Something he forgot. But never again. Silhouette explains she was young. Thrasher says so was he, but she took that advantage away. And why, Thrasher wonders. To get back at his brother because of his lack of commitment?
Silhouette confesses that Donyell was different. He was full of life and passion. He wasn’t dead inside. With Dwayne, it was always him and his mission. The obsession. She needed more. Thrasher tells Sil he knew who Dwayne was from the gate. And if it was good enough in the beginning, it should have always been good enough. Silhouette doesn’t like being judged by Thrasher. He isn’t exactly clean in this. He was so angry at Dwayne and couldn’t see straight. He blamed Dwayne for everything that went wrong in his life. When She came along, Sil knows Donyell couldn’t wait because he could never get anything on his own. He always wanted something that belonged to Dwayne. Donyell wanted Dwayne’s identity, his New Warriors. And her.
“Maybe,” Night Thrasher says calmly, but he has repented. What about Silhouette? She knows she has made some mistakes in her life as well, but there’s always been one thing she has been true to, and that’s her feelings. She would never lie about those. Thrasher knows that’s true. But what good is the integrity of those feelings if they change like a breeze at the first sign of trouble? Who wants to inherit the wind?
“Good ruse, Taylor,” somebody suddenly says behind the two Warriors. “I’ve been waiting to see how you did it!” Both Night Thrasher and Silhouette are equally shocked to find themselves under attack by… Midnight’s Fire?!