(Abcess, North Dakota)
It’s a pleasant day in small-town America. The fiery-haired Elsa Bloodstone is sat outside a coffee house with a man known as the Captain. She asks him why he wanted to be a super hero. Was it the clothes? she wonders. He replies that it was probably the mask. He could hit people in the face really, really hard and run away. No one would know it was him. Elsa asks what his super hero name was. “Captain ****,” he replies with a grin.
She asks why, for God’s sake. He replies that he’s from Brooklyn. He’s hardly going to call himself Captain Friendly. He adds that he met Captain America once. He asked what his name was, too. This resulted in Captain America beating seven shades of it out of him and leaving him in a dumpster with a bar of soap shoved in his mouth.
He relaxes into his seat and admits he was a bad super hero. He wonders what he’s doing there, really. Elsa pours another cup of tea, and reminds him that they’re supposed to be checking out the site. The Captain tells her that he asked around, and the locals think that a mall is being built. Above the town, stretching into the hillside, large-scale building work is being carried out. The Captain reckons that maybe the Beyond Corporation© will build a mall there, once they’ve dug up whatever they think is under there.
Elsa asks if they know what’s under there. The Captain replies that Monica and Aaron say the document is unclear; just that it’s a buried biological weapon of mass destruction. Elsa can’t believe they’re excavating it and turning it into a working product. With an empty pot in her hand, she informs the Captain that, if she has to beat up a lot of terrible little American proles today, she’s absolutely going to need more tea.
(H.A.T.E.’s flying headquarters - the Aeromarine)
Aboard the strange-looking flying headquarters of H.A.T.E (Highest Anti-Terrorism Effort), its director, General Dirk Anger, is checking out the organization’s fresh talent. They’re nervous, and stand to attention as Dirk strolls around smoking a cigar. He picks up on the fact that one man looks a little older than the rest. The guy says he’s thirty. Dirk tells him he looks like a bag of dried buttskin. He claims he’s ninety years-old, so how does he look so pretty? He takes drugs; special H.A.T.E. life-extending drugs. H.A.T.E. has the best drugs because H.A.T.E. loves him and he loves H.A.T.E., every day of his horrible drug-extended terrorist-fighting life.
He continues to point out to the sweating recruits, that every day he smokes two hundred cigarettes and one hundred cigars. He drinks a bottle of whisky and three bottles of wine with dinner. Dinner is meat… raw meat! Through gritted teeth, he tells them that the cook serves him an entire animal and he fights it barehanded, tearing off what he wants and having the rest buried… in New Jersey… for H.A.T.E. Someone informs him that they’ve located the Shockwave Rider again. As he departs for the Communications Room, the recruits look at each other in bewilderment, and not a little confusion.
Dirk Anger asks for the Etheric Loop Recall Televocometer to be deployed. He is seated inside what appears to be a large telephone receiver, and is connected to the Shockwave Rider. This is another strange-looking craft that is inexhaustibly powered by the classified Zero Point Squirt Drive, containing five tesseract zones. It’s also stolen.
On board the ship are Monica Rambeau, a former Avenger, and Aaron Stack, also known as X-51 or Machine Man. He is piloting the craft as Monica converses with Dirk. He asks Monica to please return to the Aeromarine with the highly classified experimental aircraft that she and her team saw fit to steal while abandoning their posts. Monica reminds him that he hired them as his elite anti-terrorism team: the Nextwave Squad. But, he’s getting his funding and technology from the Beyond Corporation©. Dirk replies that it was an open bidding process. Monica tells him that the Beyond Corporation is what S.I.L.E.N.T. turned into. “Faith-based funding!” says Dirk.
Monica asks rhetorically if he remembers S.I.L.E.N.T. It was a terrorist cell. Dirk thinks that’s an oversimplification of the actual situation, but Monica then informs him that they’ve found the Beyond Corporation©’s marketing plan. It’s a blueprint for using H.A.T.E. and their own resources to product-test unusual weapons of mass destruction on the American public. And get payment and political power for doing it. They’re not supporting that, and this is why they’ve left. “Please come back,” asks Dirk, unconvincingly. Monica asks Aaron to kill the line. “Yes. Silence fleshy one,” he replies. Monica understands the whole robot pride thing, but asks him not to call humans ‘fleshy ones.’ Aaron understands, and apologizes.
Monica Rambeau’s mother always wanted her to get a proper job, so she joined H.A.T.E. When her mother died, she went to hell, and is used as a bucket by giant weasels dressed as cheerleaders. That’s what happens when you tell your kids to get a proper job!
Over at the building site, construction workers wearing body-covering protective suits amble around while a colleague operates a massive drill. He plunges it into the ground and starts churning the rock away. It soon reaches a strange patch of green with a dark slit down the middle. The slit opens, and a massive eye appears. The ground shakes and rocks begin to tumble down the hillside. A volcanic-like explosion tears the hillside apart, and a green liquid erupts from the ground and flows toward the town, taking much of the building work with it. Suddenly, the massive lizard known as Fin Fang Foom emerges from the ooze and begins to wreck the building work. Fing Fang Foom has been burning with the need to mate since 1956. He has absolutely no genitals whatsoever. You cannot imagine how annoyed he is.
Outside the coffee house, the Captain and Elsa Bloodstone look up and see the lizard creating havoc on the hillside. “Oh ****,” says the Captain. “Abso****lutely, darling,” replies Elsa. On board the Shockwave Rider, Monica also sees the lizard tearing towards town leaving a trail of destruction behind it. Aaron already knows all about it, having been hooked into the hull cameras. He’s called Tabby.
Monica wonders if they should be using codenames. Aaron thinks his own name is fine, but Monica remarks that when she was in the Avengers, they all had codenames. Maybe they should keep them. Aaron asks what the point is. Does she really want to keep her super hero name? Photon, he mutters. It doesn’t exactly strike fear into the hearts of men, surely. “Hello. I’m a tiny insignificant particle. Put down your guns or I’ll bounce off you undetectably,” he adds, almost with a hint of sarcasm.
Monica snatches a flight harness off him and reminds him that the Captain kept his codename. Aaron replies that the Captain can’t remember his real name. Ellie Bloodstone never had a codename and Tabitha has about nine. “And they all sucked,” says Tabitha, as she wanders into the hold, hands on hips. She was on the phone when Aaron called, and she asks what the problem is.
Monica tosses her the harness and tells her they’re going live. Tabitha is surprised that there actually is something there. The marketing plan she stole appears to have been right. Monica informs her that, whatever it is, it’s a hundred and fifty feet tall and is probably going to eat the town. Tabitha asks why she needs to fly. Monica says she’ll get trodden on if she doesn’t. “Isn’t that English girl fighting on the ground?” asks Tabitha. Monica says that she is, but she annoys her.
In Abcess, the Captain and Elsa, carrying a guitar case, are crossing the road when Elsa is hit by a Jeep with four odd-looking individuals in it. They are wearing orange suits but their heads make them look like robots. Elsa is knocked flying through a music shop window and the Captain turns, concerned. Elsa calls to him to go take care of the lizard. She can handle this. She warns him not to argue with her, or it’s the Kenyan nipple torture for him again. The Captain takes to the air under his own steam.
Elsa stands up inside the shop as one of her assailant’s approaches, telling her he will fire her with bullets now. She smashes him with a guitar, and proceeds to attack the others in a similar manner. Her super strength allows her to snatch a gun off one and crush it in her fingers. He runs to their Jeep, but Elsa destroys it, ripping out the engine bay. This last remaining assailant aims his weapon at her, but knows it won’t do much good. Elsa punches the guitar through his stomach and also his seat, before opening his jacket to find him sporting a badge. ‘Beyond Corporation© Human Resources Department.’
Elsa returns to pick up her guitar case and gets on the phone to the Shockwave Rider. She informs Monica and Aaron, and anyone else who is listening, that Beyond© know that they are there. She’s been attacked by some freaks badged as their Human Resources Department of all things. They’re fighting a war on two fronts. It’s lucky that she brought her sweets. She kicks open her case to reveal two rifles. Monica asks Elsa if she killed the men. When she ran the Avengers they didn’t kill people.
Did Monica always hold life so sacred? As a young girl, she is at her window daydreaming. Outside is a small yappy dog, doing what yappy dogs do best. This irritates the hell out of Monica. Without even moving, she uses her powers to zap the dog, which sits there, blackened and smoking. “Bad dog go sizzle pop,” she smiles.
Elsa replies that they’re not people. Monica tells her that they have two arms, two legs and bad suits. They might be crappy people, but they’re people. Elsa reminds Monica that she comes from a line of near-immortal monster hunters, and she knows a non-human when she sees it. Aaron scans her victims remotely, and agrees that these humanoids were probably grown on slabs of genetically modified kelp. They move like people, but they’re missing a bunch of organs and most of their brains. In fact, he adds, they’re wearing software: Beyond Corporation© Fightpersona XP™ in fact.
So, they’re plant-based robots driven by a computer operating system, he surmises. They might not even be alive. They have more in common with Broccoli than they do with Monica, or him. Monica hates broccoli. “Let’s kill ‘em.” she says. First, however, there is the small matter of the giant lizard that the Beyond Corporation© has awoken. She asks Tabitha to go tame it.
Tabitha, wearing the flight harness, jumps into a pool of red fluid that seems leads to an exit under the craft. Some kind of forcefield keeps it from spilling out, but allows Tabitha egress. She flies towards Abcess, and as she approaches Fin Fang Foom, she realizes that it’s wearing purple underpants!