(present - aboard a S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier)
In interrogation room C, Daisy Johnson is with Commander Maria Hill. Their conversation is witnessed by agent’s Jasper Sitwell and Clay Quartermain. Maria asks her name, but Daisy refuses to answer questions when the answers are already known.
Maria asks how old she is. Daisy doesn’t respond. Maria points out that the files say Daisy is a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, level ten. She asks how an eighteen year-old gets the highest level security clearance on this planet. Obviously, Nick Fury gave it to her, but she wants to know why. Daisy tells her that she should ask for level 10 clearance; she’ll find out all kinds of things.
Maria points a finger at her, and warns her that she’s in a lot of trouble. She asks if she was, or was not, part of a black book S.H.I.E.L.D. operation that Nick Fury initiated without proper authority. Daisy again remains silent. Maria wishes to know what happened tonight. Daisy looks at Maria with something approaching disdain. She replies that they have a 54-7 Jtel communication satellite system that digitally records every single thing that happens in the New York area. The satellite codename is Ed O’Neil, and all of tonight’s events have been recorded in 500 line full color resolution image and ITS 5.1-bit streaming audio. Why doesn’t the commander go watch the transmission and stop wasting their time?
(six hours earlier, New York City)
Lucia Von Bardas has set a bomb in motion that will cause widespread devastation. Heroes and villains alike reel in agony, as energies build up around them and flow through their bodies. As Lucia taunts Nick Fury, the Thing realizes he must stop this madness. He begins pounding the ground over and over again, creating shock waves that grow with each strike. They eventually destroy the pier they’re standing on. Unfortunately, the energies remain, and all Ben has done is put many of them in the water.
Lucia gloats as her victory approaches. Her only regret is that the world’s eyes cannot witness what is about to happen to Fury and his heroes. As she speaks, she suddenly stops talking and a wry grin creeps over Fury’s face. Lucia begins to jerk uncontrollably, and screams out when she realizes what is happening to her. Her body shudders and twists as pain overcomes her, and moments later her body explodes, leaving only the mangled remains of her tech gear.
Several heroes and villains who were airborne drop into the water, and the Scorcher holds his head in his hands. “They’re all dead!! They’re all dead!!” The Human Torch asks his sister if she’s okay, and Spider-Man mentions that Daredevil is out cold. Captain America orders everyone to help the person next to them. As the scene settles, the heroes begin picking themselves up. The villains, whose suits were used by Lucia Von Bardas to provide her energies, remain unconscious. Nick Fury is barely conscious as Daisy Johnson offers her hand to his. She helps him to his feet, and apologizes. She didn’t mean to cut it that close.
(present - inside a S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier’s interrogation room)
Maria tells Daisy that her file says she’s a mutant. “No it doesn’t,” replies Daisy. Maria adds that it says she was born with abilities. Daisy replies that technically, it’s genetic damage handed down from her jerk of a father. She doesn’t have the mutant gene. Maria reminds her that she has powers. She has the genetic ability to generate seismic waves, which can produce effects resembling those of earthquakes. She asks how she managed to shut down Lucia von Bardas and her attack.
Daisy informs her, with a hint of self-satisfaction, that she’s been trained to aim with bullet precision. She pinpointed Von Bardas’ power source in her suit’s chest area and she hit it from the inside out. It seems that this surged the chain reaction anti-matter weapon that Von Bardas had smuggled into this country. She adds that if she looks in her file, this is exactly what Colonel Fury warned them that Von Bardas was capable of doing on American soil if she wasn’t dealt with a year ago. Maria asks how she happened to be there at the pier at the time of the attack. Daisy says she was following orders. “Whose orders?” asks Commander Hill. “Are you serious?” comes Daisy’s reply.
(six hours earlier, New York City)
Johnny Storm wonders what just happened. Did robo-babe just self-destruct or what? The Scorcher is kneeling before him and he tries to explain that his name is Steven Hudak, and he didn’t know any of this was going to happen. Johnny warns him to cork it. Susan Richards asks Nick Fury what happened here. Captain America warns him to tell them, or he will.
Fury replies that there’s a time and a place for this, and this ain’t it. Cap demands answers now, but his anger is curtailed by the appearance via their Blackbird of Wolverine, Cyclops, Beast, Shadowcat and Emma Frost. Wolverine asks if he’s got anything to say to him. Fury looks at Wolverine, and realizes the situation is going to have to be handled carefully.
Reed Richards asks Cyclops if the X-Men were attacked as well. Scott replies that it was just Logan, but it was on school grounds. Sue asks if the students are alright, and Emma assures that they are. They took care of this quickly. Wolverine adds that an idiot in a Mandroid tin suit told him he had a rendezvous point at the hospital nearby. All he knows is that it was payback time for him and Fury. The guy said something about getting him back for something he doesn’t remember doing. He can’t help but wonder what that is. Captain America replies that they were just coming to that. “Get to it, Fury.”
Fury looks at the assembled heroes. He informs them that this was an organized terrorist attack on American soil… retribution for them helping him overthrow the Latverian government and assassinating their elected leader. Daredevil asks when this was, supposedly. “A year ago today,” replies Fury.
Spidey admits that he’s a bit of a flake sometimes, but surely he’d remember something like that. Cap tells him that there’s a reason he doesn’t. Spidey asks why they can’t remember fighting this ‘secret war.’ Cyclops wonders who Fury’s talking about - the X-Men? Cap tells him that this only refers to Logan, Luke Cage, the Black Widow, Spider-Man, Daredevil, himself and the young lady standing beside Nick Fury. He suggests that Fury continue his explanation. Fury informs them that he came to them for a favor, one year ago.
(one year ago)
Fury had uncovered a tangible threat to the United States from Lucia Von Bardas, the elected prime minister of Latveria. Their high-tech low-level criminals were being funded for a purpose. The people in charge of this country’s safety, namely the president and his officials, decided to do nothing. Fury explains that he’s been through twelve presidents in his time, and all he’s learned from it is that the American people will elect just about anybody. But, he made a promise to himself years ago that if he had to choose between a publicly-elected millionaire’s back-handed oil and technology dealings and the safety of innocent people, there’s no choice at all.
The problem was, he made too much of a stink about what he found. He had a reputation as being someone who didn’t take this kind of crap. They knew he was going to move on this, but Fury didn’t care what they knew. He just wanted to get it done before they tried to stop him. Then, the thought occurred to him - did his president want him to go off on his own and take care of it? Were his hands tied, or just dirty?
He wondered if that’s what the president’s blow-off had been about. Had they invested so much money into rebuilding Latveria that the idea that maybe it had backfired on them was too much? Did they actually think they could negotiate with people like that? He didn’t care. All that mattered was that this had to be stopped. He couldn’t use S.H.I.E.L.D. materials. Not only would it tip his hat, but it was an act of war. Without the permission from the United Nations and the World Court, it was an act of global treason… terrorism. Von Bardas wanted to use their criminals and their criminal system against them, so he had to use their heroes against her.
Fury rounded up several heroes to carry out his secret war, and flew them to Latveria. He figured that he could have slipped into Castle Doom in the middle of night and slipped two tiny drops of an invisible poison cocktail into the filter of her air conditioning. But, that’s not the language people like her understood. It would mean nothing. It wouldn’t stop the coming attack; it would just give it purpose in someone else’s hand. The punishment for their terror had to be loud… total.
Nick Fury and his assembled heroes confronted Lucia Von Bardas at her castle. She said he was a bad boy, and wasn’t allowed to be in Latveria. She had called his president and he wasn’t happy that he was there. Of course, maybe he could have been lying, she thought, but she doubted that. She presumed Fury had brought his flag-waving Captain America there to distract her; to ask nicely to bow down before him, knowing she wouldn’t. Then he went and did this, and without the permission of his masters.
Spider-Man wondered if they should arrest her, but Lucia asked who they’d be handing her over to. They didn’t have permission to do this. Fury informed her that he wasn’t there to fight her. He was there to make an example of her. After that day, if anyone in her little underground circle even thought about doing what she was planning on doing, then hearing the news of what happened to her would make them stop.
Lucia asked if there was anything he could do that she wasn’t prepared for, and that he and his men wouldn’t be punished for. “Actually, yeah,” Fury replied. Wolverine asked Nick if he wanted him to take care of this, but Fury said no, before asking Daisy to bring the castle down. “Bring it all down?” she queried. Cap wished to voice his concern, but it was too late. “All of it!” replied Fury.
Daisy unleashed a massive vibration that shook the castle to its core. Within moments, the entire structure had collapsed in on itself, leaving Lucia Von Bardas and anyone else inside the castle buried underneath the rubble. Nick Fury and the heroes survived the devastation thanks to special impact suits, the physics of which came courtesy of the Kree army. As the dust settled, Cap told Fury that they did not agree to that; none of them did. Cage told him that this would come back at them. It would ruin everything they set out to do. Spider-Man wanted to throw up.
(six hours ago, New York City)
“Oh, my God,” exclaims Emma Frost. Fury tells the assembled heroes that that’s the language they understand. They can say what they want about WWII but, back then, when you killed someone, they stayed dead. As for what happened tonight, what can he say? It looks like he was right. She was going to attack them. He’s tried his damnedest to spare them the brunt of the aftermath, but he guesses that just wasn’t meant to be. “Tried to spare us?” exclaims Daredevil, “You… you brainwashed us?”
Fury replies that the procedure is just a little but worse than the drug the dentist uses to put you under, but there are no side-effects. They lost two days and got a good night’s sleep. He needed them there, and needed nothing from them past that. If this didn’t happen tonight, they would have been fine. Wolverine is furious. “Fine??”
Fury becomes agitated in having to defend his judgment. He reminds them that he’s a wartime general. He has weapons and soldiers and he has a job to do. What happened here tonight: this is what he’s up against, what he was trying to avoid. By doing this he’s bought them a year, maybe two. They are hated. He didn’t start this war, but he sure as hell isn’t going to lose it. He is adamant that this fight was worth dying for, and worth sacrificing them for. It was worth losing his job for, and it was worth killing for.
Fury adds that he’s sorry he had to unplug them a little, but he didn’t have the time or inclination to debate the finer points of wartime morality with a bunch of people who wear masks. Sue Richards is appalled, and Spidey turns to Captain America. “You knew this, though. Right, Cap?” Captain America tells them that he’s an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. They started running brain tests to make sure agents weren’t compromised in the field by mutant psychics or any other manipulation. A couple of weeks ago he got undone. He and Fury have already had words. He tells them what he told Fury; he can go straight to hell.
It’s Wolverine’s turn to show his anger. He tells Fury that, outside the X-Men, no one knows the hell he’s been through more than him, and he’d do this to him? All he’s been through and Fury pokes at his brain? He’d have done it for Fury without the head games. Fury replies that sometimes he can’t take the chance. Logan flips out and charges at Fury with his claws extended. He slashes at Fury and thrusts three claws clean through his torso. The bloodied adamantium blades come out through Fury’s back. Mr. Fantastic begins to move in to stop him, and the Invisible Woman creates a forcefield to try and stop Wolverine.
At that moment, Daisy Johnson raises her hand and aims it at Logan. “Stop.” A precise vibratory explosion bursts open Wolverine’s heart, and his chest cracks open from the inside. He screams in agony, and drops to the ground. Fury’s body has been sliced open and he lies dead. Daisy asks if anyone else wants to try and take a swing her way, because they’ll be next, and they won’t heal.
She warns Emma Frost to get out of her brain. She has psychic shields and Emma will only hurt herself. A voice comes through Daisy’s earpiece. “Am I down, Daisy?” She replies yes. The voice asks her not to fight. Daisy explains to everyone that the Fury on the ground is a life model decoy. The real Fury excused himself from the scene once the threat was over. Ben Grimm can’t believe how good they’re making them these days.
Speaking through the LMD, Colonel Fury acknowledges that they’re steaming, but they shouldn’t worry. This is his big finish. He’s done. He’s dodged the politics of this once, but he can’t do it again. He informs them that they’ll never see or hear from him again. There’s nothing more he can do there, and that’s why he came clean with them. Reed presumes that Fury is broadcasting from somewhere, but he doesn’t know from where. Fury continues to call them heroes. Maybe one day they’ll look around and they’ll see the world like he has, and know he did the right thing, or at least understand why he did it.
He signs off, leaving Daisy to bid them farewell. She says it was a real trip working with them. She’s learned a lot, even though they don’t remember teaching her. “Who the hell are you?” asks a recovering Logan.
(present - inside a S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier’s interrogation room)
Maria Hill asks Daisy where he is. “Don’t know,” she replies. Maria says she isn’t messing around. Daisy says she knows this. That’s why they’re scanning the room with DR-Starktech brainwave scans, keeping her heart and pulse rates measured from next door. That’s why Maria has psychic and empath agents right outside the door. She repeats her statement; she doesn’t know where Nick Fury is. She feels that Nick Fury’s earned the right to disappear after everything he’s done.
Maria is angry. She wonders how this story did not break in the media. How does a man send an army of costumed heroes into a foreign country and assassinate an elected world leader, and it does not make the papers? Daisy smiles and says she doesn’t know but, considering Maria has his job now, she reckons she’d better find out. Maria tells Daisy that she’s a master criminal now; a war criminal, just like the rest of them… and she’s off assignment. She’ll sit in her apartment for the rest of her life and she’ll wait for an assignment that will never come. All right, replies Daisy nonchalantly. Maybe I’ll go back and finish high school.
Maria knows this conversation has nowhere else to go. She departs and informs an agent guarding the door that she wants Natasha Romanov on the ship right away. Daisy looks at a hologram of Nick Fury and rests her chin on her hands. Later, she leaves the interrogation room and heads to the helicarrier’s deck. A call comes through on her earpiece. “Yes?” she asks. “Yes, sir.”