(Shadow Council HQ)
John Steele and Max Fury are discussing the problem they face with Steve Rogers and his crew. Fury asks Steele how he wants to handle the situation, assuming that the board still wants to keep their involvement under the radar. Steele replies that it's always been their policy. He can't see them changing it now. Steele knows that Rogers and his team haven't been an easy target to take on, but Thorn-Drake wants the old bastard back in play. Easy or not, it's gotta be done. Fury says Steele's seen Rogers in action, right? Formidable is putting it mildly.
Steele says he's seen him and recalls a time when they even fought side-by-side once. It was sometime during the war. The details are a little foggy, though, as he's been in a lot of battles. Steele adds that Rogers doesn't worry him. He can take him if it comes to that. He's just trying to figure out a way to grab the old bastard's kid without a full-frontal assault in broad daylight. Fury isn't sure there is one. He asks if the public outing has to be them. They already know about the old bastard. Why not use that to their advantage? Steele tells Fury that sometimes he forgets how much he likes him.
(Secret Avengers Quincarrier)
Steve Rogers is with Hank McCoy, Shang-Chi and the Prince of Orphans. Hank, seated before a computer, explains that he's spent the last day cross-referencing everything he could find on both the Eyes of the Dragon stones and on Shang-Chi's father's history. He's been trying to figure out what he knew about the gems, or if he'd used them before. He stumbled across something. Bringing up the picture of the two wizards on the screen, he informs them that early legends of his father lead him to believe that he was one of the men who created the Eyes of the Dragon. The sorcerers who gave the gems their power were brothers according to several texts.
He continues to explain that the first mention of Shang-Chi's father in historical texts tells of an evil magician who steals his brother's life essence so he can live forever. If he's right, he's just found out His father's real name... Zheng Zu! Shang-Chi finds that fascinating. His father has always gone by so many names. Steve figures that this is why he needs Shang-Chi to properly use the gems; to drain the life from another family member. Hank believes this to be the case. He thinks they've stumbled onto one of the primary ways his ancient evil was able to achieve near-immortality. Shang-Chi reckons that killing his siblings and children won't be the first time his father has tried to use his blood for his gain. Steve wonders why their friends with the serpent emblems are trying to help him. What's their agenda? Sharon Carter then appears and informs them that there's something happening in Hong Kong.
(Downtown Hong Kong)
Shang Chi's father and his ninjas are causing mayhem. They attack innocent civilians and cause explosions in the city center. Sharon tells them that the evil freak is attacking Downtown Hong Kong in broad daylight. Shang Chi replies that his father has always been a terrorist; it's just that his methods have changed this time. With Steve at the flight controls, the Quincarrier heads to Hong Kong. Steve sends War Machine ahead. James Rhodes has his EMP charged already. He'll disable any video feeds so they don't go too public. He rockets away from the craft and fires the missile. When it explodes, the EMP knocks out electronics temporarily and forces the ninja to look skywards. War Machine descends and takes out two ninjas as the rest of the team follows. Shang-Chi's father sees them land and outstretches his arm.
An explosion throws Valkyrie clean off her feet and a ninja rounds on her instantly. Steve barges towards her, knocking down two ninjas before reaching her just as the ninja is bringing down his sword. His shield intercepts the blade and Valkyrie kicks the ninja into touch, thanking Steve for his timely assist. Shang Chi uses his prodigious martial arts skills to take out more ninja, but something smells foul... like it's all a lie. This is not his father's handiwork.
Whilst the team is on the ground, Sharon Carter and Beast are all alone. John Steele and Max Fury use a much smaller craft to land on the Quincarrier. They want to make this quick. Rogers' team won't be distracted for long. Max asks if he can handle Agent 13 .He knows her training and could be brought to their side. She'd be a definite asset. "Rogers' girlfriend?" grins Steele. "You think big!"
Fury discovers that the Quincarrier's security has been upgraded since last time he was there. When Steele asks if he can still get in, Fury says he can, but there ain't no way they're not going to know they are there. He accesses the hatch and alarms sound inside.
Back on the ground, Steve receives a call from Sharon telling him that they've been boarded. He asks if they can hold them off, but she doesn't know how many there are yet. As Steve fights, a ninja takes off running towards the Quinjet, carrying a belt armed with explosives. Steve calls for War Machine to stop him but, as James blasts him in the back, he is too late to stop the ninja releasing the bomb. The Quinjet explodes, destroying it in a huge blast. Steve cries out but it's too late. There's no quick way back to the Quincarrier now. Valkyrie shoves him away from the blast and he calls Sharon but there is no answer.
Shang-Chi, meanwhile, attacks his father. He leaps at him, but instead of connecting, he flies straight through him. It was all some kind of trick. His father vanishes along with the ninjas, leaving the Secret Avengers standing amongst the wreckage. Shang-Chi wonders why they would go to all this trouble just to vanish. Steve realizes that it's because this attack wasn't their real objective. They were just trying to draw them within arm's reach.
On board the Quincarrier, Hank is shot by John Steele before he can do anything, whilst Sharon Carter is attacked by Max Fury. Sharon tells him that she knows what he is and she sure as hell isn't going to let some Nick Fury wannabe get the better of her. She knees him hard in his square jaw but he responds with a kick to the face. He tells her that she doesn't know anything about him, or she'd know that he hates fighting her. He elbows her in the stomach and adds that they should be on the same side. He then picks her up and throws her over his shoulder, slamming her against the floor hard. He informs her that there's just too much in this world that they are keeping secret from her. He finishes her off with a punch to the head, though he feels real bad about it. Steele tells him that there's no time for pity.
Down below, Steve reckons the only way he can get back is to have War Machine carry him back. They fly at super speed, but James is wary because if they fly too fast it'll take off Steve's skin. "Just get me there," replies Steve. As they approach the Quincarrier, War Machine uses a fastball special to hurl him through the cockpit window and he lands gracefully amidst a wall of shattering glass. He calls out for Sharon but finds Hank McCoy lying there, dazed.
Steve asks if he's okay and asks where Sharon is. Hank weakly replies that they hit him with something. He looks for his glasses as Steve asks him who hit him. Hank looks away and replies, "Him..." Steve turns to look at a monitor. On it he sees John Steele standing with a really big gun next to Sharon Carter, who is chained to the ceiling but in a kneeling position. Steele says hello. Long time no see. He apologizes but says they won't have time for a proper reunion. If he ever wants to see his girl alive again, he will do exactly as he says. Steve is shocked to see who it is and recognizes him instantly. Steele is pleased that he remembers him. He'll know that he is serious.
James asks who the hell John Steele is. "Oh, damn," gasps the Prince of Orphans as he hears the name. Steele tells Steve Rogers that he wants a simple exchange. Shang-Chi for Sharon Carter. Steve barks back that if he hurts Sharon he will kill him. He swears. He will find a way and he will kill him. Steele replies that there's no need to be dramatic. The girl will be fine... at least until tomorrow. The video feed is switched off leaving Steve with a horrible choice.