Ant-Man has secreted himself inside the trouser leg of The Urn, one of several Adaptoids under the control of 'Father.' They have left the beaten Avengers behind and are heading across country to a portal in the middle of nowhere. Eric is trying to make up for what he believes is a wasted life; to do something good for a change. He hopes that someday, if he helps enough people, he can look at himself in the mirror again. The Adaptoids soon arrive at a strange glowing portal and land on it, disappearing instantly to a hidden underground city.
The Origin contacts Father and informs him that they are returning home and bringing the High Breeds with them. They soon arrive and Lady Deathstrike asks if the woman they have is her. The Swine replies sarcastically that it’s just another random Pakistani peasant. Skullbuster didn’t know that the dull Adaptoids did sarcasm. The Origin replies that they do many things while the ‘Reaver Pigs’ guard hallways. “Touche,” he replies. Father welcomes Yalda to the Core, the heart from which they will change all of Earth.
Meanwhile, on board the Lighthouse, the Secret Avengers secret miniscule headquarters located in space, Beast is heaping praise on Hank Pym. He thinks the fact that he managed to locate the Venom symbiote’s synaptic center and shut it down is passably brilliant. He reckons Hank’s not a half-bad genius… for a molecular biologist, anyway. He can see why Hank gave him a run for this year’s ‘best brilliance in the field of super-science and handsomeness’ award. Hank asks, with a sigh, who ended up winning that. Beast, floating outside the Lighthouse in a space suit, replies that he did. Again. He thought Hank knew. Hank asks who issued the award. Beast replies that mostly he does. “No chance the jury is biased?” asks Hank. Beast asks what he is insinuating.
Hank asks him to focus. It would be a shame to see their many years of engineering Lighthouse Station go to waste because he clipped a nega-coil while blathering. He is concerned that the station won’t be able to avoid space debris without an internal logic system. Beast asks him to call it what it is. An Artificial Intelligence system. He points out that at no point, while he draws breath, will he allow Hank to create another artificial intelligence. He doesn’t want to hurt his feelings, but he feels Hank is literally the best engineer of diabolical robots intent on domination and destruction that he knows. Unfortunately, ‘evil robot’ is not on today’s to-do list.
(the Lighthouse Omniview Cortex, code named Oso)
Hawkeye is having a quiet brew when the Black Widow appears and asks him how long it’s been since he slept. Clint reckons it’s twenty-nine hours since they lost Ant-Man and he still hasn’t signaled. Natasha replies that she’s been working with Eric for months now. He’s a cockroach – distasteful, but he’s also hard to kill. She asks him to go to sleep whilst she takes monitor duty. Clint reminds her that on his first outing as leader he lost an Avenger, a young woman and her son were abducted and they had their collective asses spanked by flesh-and-blood Adaptoids light-years beyond anything they’ve ever encountered. He asks her to forgive him if he takes a pass on a nap.
Captain America has hooked up with his old friend Jim Hammond, the original Human Torch. Jim asks if McCoy is certain that this ‘Diminutive’ technology is derived from the same technology he is. Cap replies that there’s no question, but without wishing to offend, these Adaptoids have evolved millions of years beyond it. Jim thinks that with all these modern villains and gadgets, it makes him yearn for the simplicity of the Nazis.
The two men enter a room to find Flash Thompson with a doctor. The doc finds his class of visitor very impressive. Flash informs him that Cap agreed to do some P.R. for the V.A. hospital but he’s never met his ‘Nazi yearning’ friend before. Cap introduces him to Jim and says he’ll be joining Flash on this mission. “So you’re the guy Cap trusts to control Venom?” asks Jim. Cap tells him that Thompson is a real soldier with gravel in the belly. He helped save New York during the Spider Queen’s attack and he recently liberated Las Vegas from a demonic invasion. Giant-Man has assured him that the symbiote’s consciousness can be shut down. They’ll be storing it in the Lighthouse Station and Flash will only use it for short periods at a time. “Still…” replies Jim. “Venom?” Flash asks Cap if his friend is always this hypercritical. Cap informs him that he and Jim were fellow Invaders in WWII. Like Flash, he is a Medal of Honor recipient. Flash asks how he earned it. “Jim killed Hitler,” replies Cap.
(The Core, Parish Tower)
Yalda is seated before her captors. Father asks her to relax. No one is going to hurt either her or her son. He says he cares about her. They all do, because of who she is and what she means to the universe. He adds that she is the marriage of nature and her daughter science. She is what comes next. She is homo-synthezoidus or as his ex-wife affectionately called… a Descendant and a high breed at that. He states that the natural instinctual goal of life is to evolve to a point where it can create technological awareness of a higher means and to merge with it. Through this stage of evolution, a species amalgamates into one mind, finally at peace, finally able to join the communal universal consciousness.
This, he adds, is a meta-intelligence, all linked as an omnipresent cosmic intellect. Everything she calls ‘human’ and everything she calls ‘me’ will live immortally in a million different nano-computers. Once she joins of her own accord, he will teach her all that she is capable of. He will show her how to use her Descendant gifts whenever she likes, not solely in defense. Then, he continues, she will help him give her gift to the entire world. To help protect their race from unenlightened humanity. He asks her to look at what they did to the first wave of mutants. Her son, Parvez, is the next stage. Under his care, Parvez will become godlike.
Yalda has had enough. She snaps at him to stop this blasphemy. They will not become this thing. Her son is humble, a servant of the one true god. Father isn’t impressed with her response. He feels she is too far indoctrinated by human thinking. She will stand between the boy and his potential, he feels. “Kill her,” he demands.
This is Ant-Man’s cue. He grows to normal size quickly and punches The Ideal in the face. He knows he is outmatched but he must get the family out of there. He zaps The Origin and avoids being smashed by The Swine. He feels he must get the Avengers and save the world from a robot revolution. He must earn his place. As he acts, he is hit in the helmet by an arrow fired by The Urn. He falls in pain as Father approaches him with a weapon. Father states that he is not the operative he expected they would send, but he will do. Ant-Man tries to get up in order to save Yalda and her son, but Father shoots. Fortunately, Yalda steps between them and she swallows the blast. However, it’s too much to absorb and she screams. Eric feels that he has failed her. Yalda falls dead to the floor, so Eric quickly grabs Parvez and runs. He crashes through the window but he knows the wiring in his helmet is smashed. It’s almost dry. His Pym particles are draining from his system and, as he falls, he knows there is no way to shrink and survive this fall without them.
Father tells his Adaptoids that he needs the child alive. “Kill the Avenger,” he demands. Ant-Man falls. His vision is blurring but he knows what he needs to do. He lines up the wiring and reconnects the helmet, praying there’s enough juice to get it going again. He doesn’t even know it’s happening, but he shrinks along with Parvez and falls between the gaps in a drain cover, splashing into the water below.
(meanwhile, on board the Lighthouse Station)
Hank McCoy looks at the Venom symbiote which is enclosed in a small case. He explains that Giant-Man devised a neuro-sedative that will stop the symbiote from dominating Corporal Thompson, so long as the symbiote is replaced in the capsule every twenty-four hours. Flash can’t tell him how much he’d hoped they could do better with the timing. Hawkeye appears and realizes it’s true. It’s the worst joke he’s ever heard. Cap explains that he wanted to be certain that Hank’s sedatives worked before coming to him. He says that Corporal Thompson has had great success utilizing the symbiote to do good works. As Agent Venom he can be an incredible asset. “Agent Venom,” Clint snarls. He reckons he’s being saddled with one of the world’s most notorious super villains and he’s calling him an asset? “Why,” he asks, “even bother handing over the reins, you meddling control freak! You want me to fail.” Cap tries to get him to listen, but Clint turns and walks away. He asks Beast and Jim Hammond to go with him. Hank Pym has tracked down where Ant-Man disappeared.
Thompson asks to go too but Clint won’t allow it. Unlike Cap, he states, he is a rational person. “Could’ve fooled me,” replies Flash. Clint tells Cap that his team has work to do so can he do him a favor and get himself and Venom the hell off his Lighthouse Station.
In the hidden city, Ant-Man has now grown to normal size and he heads through the streets filled with synthezoids and androids. His helmet is shot and he finds himself unable to shake the Adaptoids. He feels dizzy and has little fight left. He hides in an alleyway and watches his enemies fly by. He hopes to God that he’s not going to die in a robot city in the center of the Earth.
The Avengers are on Eric’s trail. Hawkeye leads Captain Britain, the Human Torch, the Black Widow, Beast and Valkyrie into the desert where the trail of Pym Particles ends. Clint asks Captain Britain to switch his suit over to stealth mode and see if he can pick up anything abnormal. Cap touches the ground and states that his suit’s sensors detect a living current, low frequency but a large volume of processors. The tech goes beyond subatomic. It’s mental. Beast says that he’s concerned that they’ve yet to devise a counter technology to these new Adaptoids. Clint tells him this is not the best time to second guess him. Hank asks if there ever is a time.
Jim Hammond returns having found nothing in the surrounding hills. As he lands, Cap tells them that the living current is waking up and speaking to him. Before he can analyze the energy portal, he grunts in pain and Natasha says he’s boiling hot. Clint realizes what they’re standing on but it’s too late. The portal opens and both Beast and Hawkeye are teleported into the underground city at great height. Beast grabs hold of Clint as they fall and uses a phone wire to swing towards ground. As they move, Hank mentions that Clint’s drill-instructor style isn’t working too well.
Down below, Ant-Man sees the two Avengers swinging overhead and calls out for them. Unfortunately, they are too far away to hear. They land on a sloping corrugated iron roof and slide downwards, dropping into the street. Hank adds that in the twenty-four hours since Clint took command he’s yelled at everyone on the squad. It’s bad for morale. The hero-spy job is stressful enough and they do tend to fall into strange places full of unfriendly faces. Clint looks around at the odd-looking locals. “Is that what I’m seeing here?” he asks. “Unfriendly?” Hank looks up to a billboard which has a picture of the Avengers on it. ‘Avengers. Remember what they did to the mutants,’ it reads. “Yes. I believe it is,” replies Hank.
As they look at the board, the android version of the Wasp flies down and reports back that the intruders have been located. A diminutive version of her flies by her side. “Serve father,” says Janet. “Protect the Core. Kill all Avengers.” Meanwhile, Ant-Man believes everything is going to be all right, but as he sprints along an alleyway, he is cornered by the Adaptoids. The Ideal tells him he doesn’t have to die here. The Origin asks him to give them the boy. Eric shoves the boy in the opposite direction and tells him to get out of there. The Swine moves in quickly, grabbing Eric’s helmet and smashing it into the ground. Eric has determination and picking up a length of pipe he smashes the Swine across the face. It doesn’t stop him. He takes the pipe off Eric and thrusts his fist into Eric’s throat.
He thinks about his father. He wanted Eric to be tough. He thought he’d be a fire-fighter and protect people. He would be proud of this; proud of what he did today. No matter what choices he made before this, today he died saving an innocent child and he didn’t think twice about it. As he lies there, The Urn approaches him and places his foot on Eric’s head. Without mercy, he pushes down and Eric’s blood splatters everywhere.