(one year ago)
Captain America was created to fight the Nazis. Now, instead of fighting them, he’s fighting masked terrorists, kidnapping their own country’s ambassador, right on the steps of the United Nations. The terrorists have a gun to the ambassador’s head, so Cap doesn’t have time for fancy speeches. They don’t deserve one either. They might have chemical weapons on them, or they might try and blow themselves up to make a point no one in this country will ever understand. He knows he won’t. He hurls his shield at one of them and, seconds later, the fight is over, with Captain America once again victorious.
He removes his mask and relaxes, as Nick Fury appears in a doorway nearby. “Is it getting harder?” he asks. Cap replies that he’s the infamous Nick Fury. “You tell me.” Fury has just read the intel and praises Cap for his actions. Cap takes no pleasure in doing this kind of work. With Fury present, Cap knows that something is going on and he asks how bad it is. Fury holds his hands a few inches apart and then extends them further. Cap throws his shield over his shoulder and says he’ll assemble the Avengers. Fury asks him not to. No Avengers, no S.H.I.E.L.D. Cap asks him what he needs, and he replies, “Something secret.”
Daredevil swings high above Hells Kitchen, using his billy club to move from place to place. He has just saved a woman from having her purse snatched by drug-addled teenagers. The police yell after him but think he is out of earshot. He never is. He is blind and will be forever, but his other senses create a world for him that he has decided is better than sight. He only stepped in to help on the way from the courthouse to his offices at Nelson & Murdock.
There, he is greeted by his secretary, who informs him that his tea is almost ready. She hands him the calls from this morning, adding that Mr. Nelson will be out for the rest of the day. His two o’clock is here; a new client. Matt smells the stench of cigar smoke driven permanently into every inch of his clothes and the folds of his skin. He knows it’s Fury before he turns around. He is gnashing his teeth, probably without even knowing he’s doing it. Why the heck would Nick Fury be in his office?
Luke Cage is sorting out a drug dealer, scaring the life out of him, repeatedly asking, “What’s my name?” The punk is told that the next time he even thinks about coming round here selling that stuff, he wants him to remember his name. “Say it, say my name!!” The petrified dealer replies, “Luke Cage, P-Power Man.” Luke releases him and tells him to get outta his face. The punk scampers away, as Luke crunches the dropped powder into the concrete. Behind him, Fury arrives and says he always wondered what he did with the money after a drug bust.
Spider-Man is returning home, swinging between the high-rise blocks, anticipating an enjoyable evening with Mary Jane. He doesn’t know what she has in store, but it’s bound to be better than being hit in the face by a man made of sand. What he hopes is that he can get from Queens to Manhattan without running into the Green Goblin, or the Hobgoblin… or any other kind of goblin-thing person. Just for once, he’d like to spend the night with his wife, who puts up with plenty of crap from his alter ego.
He enters the apartment via the window, but hears voices from the lounge. He considers putting his clothes on and re-entering through the front door, but he knows that voice. He peers into the lounge and sees Mary Jane chatting away with Nick Fury. What on Earth is he doing here, Peter thinks. He’s not supposed to be in his civilian life. His spider-sense alerts him to the fact that Fury’s seen him and he enters the room, still fastening up his shirt. “Look who’s here, honey,” says Mary Jane with a strained smile. “In our house.” Peter shakes Fury’s hand and reminds him that they have a kind of understanding. Fury knows this but he’s cashing in a favor for that thing last time. Mary Jane doesn’t like the sound of this and Fury asks Peter what he’s doing next week. Peter asks Mary Jane, who replies that he’s not doing anything Fury wants him to. Fury doesn’t wait for a proper answer. He informs Peter that he’s going on a trip; no costume, no webs. This surprises Parker, and he asks where.
(next week, the airport)
It’s the evening and flight 456 to Latveria is boarding. Peter Parker is late and hurriedly makes his way through the crowds, through the metal detectors and just manages to make his flight. He’s pretty chuffed that for the first time in his life, he’s going first class. He just doesn’t want to think about where he’s going.
He looks into the cabin and sees a familiar face seated by the window, Matt Murdock. Across from him, a young woman plays on a hand held console, as the stewardess closes the curtain ready for take off. Peter approaches Matt and asks what he’s doing here. The same thing he is, Matt guesses. Peter asks if he knows exactly what that is, but Matt is in the dark as much as Parker. Peter asks if that’s Luke Cage behind them and wonders just what the heck is going on.
The stewardess asks a passenger to take his seat but the man is roaring drunk and obnoxious. Wolverine is on the whisky and informs the stewardess that he’s just been dropping the kids off at the pool. He grabs a bottle of booze from her tray and tells her that she’s a little bony for his type. However, once they get in the air, he’ll show her what it is he does best. Suddenly, he sniffs the air and turns to the cabin. “I know that smell, hhheeyyy…” He smiles, staggering against the wall as he does so. He moves to Parker, who simply says, “Oh no.” Logan is a ruthless killer, but he’s also really embarrassing when he’s on the sauce.
He sits facing Parker, looking over the seat in front of him. He’s never met Spidey out of costume. Parker asks him to shush and Logan asks what the heck he’s doing here. Matt interrupts them and asks how he managed to get on the plane with a skeleton made of metal. Logan taps his head and replies that he has a ‘plate’ in his head. He has a card for it. The stewardess places her hand on Logan’s shoulder and asks him to turn around and be seated. Logan again smiles and replies that, if she wants to make out with him that bad, just ask. The stewardess doesn’t see the funny side.
“Hey,” another voice shouts. “Do what the lady says, or I’ll remove you from the plane. Got it, soldier?” Even clutching a copy of the National Geographic, Steve Rogers is a commanding presence, and Logan respects him enough to do as he’s told. “All right, all right… don’t get your flag in a twist,” he replies. The stewardess thanks him and the five heroes settle down for their flight, silently. The young woman blows a bubble with her gum and smiles, as she checks out Wolverine.
Captain America is greeted at the airport by the Latverian attaché for domestic affairs, who has been asked to take him to his hotel suite. The others wonder what the heck they’re supposed to do and Parker wonders if any of them speak whatever they speak here. None of them appear to know why they’re there. Luke reckons he’s just raised the black population in this country by one hundred and fifty percent. Unseen by them, the young woman follows close behind.
Matt recognizes an all-too familiar presence in the airport; Natasha Romanov, the Black Widow. He asks what she’s doing here and she replies that she’s stifling her femininity so she can blend in with this repressed culture. She can’t help it if she can make even a burka look good. He introduces her to the rest of the crew and she asks them to follow her. Peter asks about Captain America but Natasha says he knows what he has to do. The young woman follows and Wolverine turns and tells her to take a walk. She says she is with the group. Everyone turns in unison and even Natasha lowers her sunglasses to get a better look. Matt asks who she is but her response is that, if they were supposed to know, they’d know.
Natasha has them seated around a table at their rustic hotel and ensures the room is clean of eavesdropping devices. Peter leans over to Logan and says he’s about as out of his depth as he ever has been in his entire life. Natasha opens the door and a woman enters carrying a tray of food and drink. She clicks a switch on her watch and her face dissolves, revealing underneath it, the charismatic Nick Fury. “Uh, eeww,” utters Parker; “That’s going to haunt me.”
Fury thanks them for joining him. He begins to speak, but Parker quickly interrupts, asking if this is some kind of top secret thing. “Without peer,” replies Fury. Parker questions why then they were all put on the same plane. Isn’t that a bit, glaring? Fury answers by saying that there were one hundred and thirty-two people aboard the plane. He is a teacher, one a lawyer, a kid on spring break, a bodyguard and whatever Logan is. The only person looking that carefully would be him, and he isn’t looking.
Fury wants them to bond with each other, and fast. Luke asks what’s going down, as Natasha hands Nick a small holographic projector. Fury informs them that, a week ago, they put together proof that dozens, if not all, of the technologically-based theme criminals working in the United States were being funded through third parties, funded by the Latverian government. “The who did what,” enquires Logan, chomping on a chicken wing. Fury switches on the projector and the faces of Jack O’Lantern, Grizzly and Killer Shrike appear. He repeats the sentence again. “Oh my…” sighs Matt Murdock.
Fury continues to say that it is their belief that these people are being placed and positioned for what would be a huge, single act, or a scheduled series of acts of terrorism. In a minute, he and Natasha are going to unveil the plan. Peter asks that if they are there, what are they doing here? Are they just going to break into the castle and beat everybody up? No, Fury replies, they’re going to overthrow the government.
As Fury looks at Luke Cage lying in his hospital bed, he and Danny Rand are startled as Captain America enters. “Good lord,” he says, “It’s true. And here you are. I told you this would happen.” Cap is furious. “At ease,” Fury replies, “Not in front of the…” Without warning, Cap slaps Fury across the face, sending him sprawling to the floor. Cap bends down and picks him up by the collar. “I told you! I told you this would happen! Damn you for what you did to us!!”