(S.H.I.E.L.D. Criminology Laboratory - now)
Tony Stark, wearing his Iron Man armor, is with a doctor who has just autopsied the skeletal remains of what is believed to be Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner. The doctor removes his glasses and explains that it was a difficult analysis. The flesh has been completely seared off his body and they have no dental records for Namor. However, DNA is a different story. They breached the skeleton and drew marrow. It was a positive match to ten of the DNA markers they have on file for Namor. It’s conclusive, he adds, these are Namor’s remains. “My God...” exclaims Stark, shocked. “Who could have done this?”
(six days ago)
A large underwater S.H.I.E.L.D. fleet moves through the water. Iron Man is on board one of the ships, and he receives an incoming call from Prince Namor, who tells him that he sees that the general has sent his favorite lapdog. Stark replies that it’s not the reaction he was hoping for, considering Namor’s current position. Namor warns him that his Atlantean fleet is much more powerful than Stark’s. They knew they were approaching hours ago, and his ships exist because he chose not to destroy them. Stark tells him it’s the first wise decision he’s made in a while. His action will dictate what happens next. Is it really his desire to go to war with the surface?
Namor explains that there’s more going on here than he knows. He can bring the perpetrators of this terrorist attack to justice, but he must be allowed to reach the surface. Stark warns him that he can’t do that. There are those who believe that he was directly responsible for the carnage in Kansas. They can’t let the most powerful Atlantean go free. “Then you are the fool,” snaps Namor. He turns his back to the camera and adds that Captain America’s death doesn’t appear to have quenched Stark’s thirst for war. Stark tells him they are past the point of insults. He has one hour, and he should use that time wisely.
Signing off, Namor tells his old friend, Argos, that he needs his help. Argos replies that the guard have informed him of the imminent attack. It will be an honor to fight by his side once again. Namor says that they are not to engage S.H.I.E.L.D., at least not just yet. Argos doesn’t really understand, but Namor thinks that this is a unique case. A coup is taking place and, by attacking, he plays directly into their trap. When Argos asks what the alternatives are, Namor tells him that he must travel to the surface world and rectify this situation himself. In his absence, he needs Argos to keep his forces in check. Argos asks what he should do if they attack in Namor’s absence. He replies that if Stark attacks first, then he can annihilate them.
Soon, Namor is in the water and heading straight for the S.H.I.E.L.D. armada. Iron Man orders his people not to engage until he gives the order. He tells them to go to code red. He then quickly exits the ship - his armor allowing him to travel quickly underwater. He places himself before Namor and warns him that it doesn’t have to be this way. Namor continues at high speed, so Stark fires a shot at him from a hand-held weapon, which does little to slow his path. Namor says that no weapon of his has ever stopped him before, and that’s not going to change any time soon.
Namor then ploughs into Iron Man; grabbing him around the waist and pushing him through the water with ease. Stark drops the weapon and is thrust into the side of one of his ships. He retaliates with a well-aimed punch, but Namor recovers quickly. He asks Stark if he really believes that he ordered the attack. Has he ever been one to lurk in the shadows? Stark uses the thrusters in his boots to propel himself through the water. He reminds Namor that he inserted sleeper cells and is responsible for his people.
Namor wisely takes hold of one of the smaller vessels and hurls it towards another. Iron Man intercepts it just in time, but turns to see that Namor has made his escape to the surface. “Damn it!” he exclaims.
An underground workman calls on the radio and asks if his partner, Marv, is there. Marv says that he is, and informs his colleague that the system shows the water levels are abnormally high. It must be a leak, he thinks. His colleague heads deeper underground and shines his torch into the darkness. As he casts the beam across the water, he sees the faint images of faces underneath the surface. “What the…” he gasps. Three Atlanteans then emerge and their leader tells him that he can’t be allowed to see what he’s doing down there. He grabs the man and shows him the blades that are mounted on his wrist. He thanks the man for the warning, and promises that his death will not be meaningless.
Tony Stark, in his capacity as director of S.H.I.E.L.D., is speaking via video link with an army general. The general is enquiring as to why things aren’t been done with the kind of military precision he is used to. Stark assures him that there aren’t going to be any more mistakes. He thought he could reason with Namor, but he was wrong. He’ll track him down himself. The general tells him no. He is needed with the underwater force. They have other options for finding Namor, and Atlantis is more than one individual. He signs off, adding that he’ll be in touch. Stark leans on a console and says that sometimes he wonders why he took this job.
It’s a full moon over Bentonville and there’s not a cloud in the sky. Soldiers guard their camp, oblivious to Prince Namor’s appearance as he gently sets foot on the ground. He notes that the ground is still warm from the blast two days ago. He picks up a child’s Teddy Bear; still able to smell the carnage. Whoever it was who was responsible, they will pay for it with their lives. As he looks around, he discovers a small amulet, which looks to be of Atlantean origin.
As he ponders, two soldiers appear behind him and warn him not to move as he is in a restricted area. Namor turns, and they are surprised to see that it is the infamous Sub-Mariner. He informs them that their weapons will have no effect on him, and promises that they will live to regret it if they shoot. The soldiers shoot regardless, and the bullets bounce harmlessly off Namor’s skin. He grits his teeth, and fixes them with a piercing gaze. “You humans… when will you ever learn?”
Norman Osborn leads the general into a darkened room and tells Venom that his services have been requested. He informs him that Namor has escaped S.H.I.E.L.D. containment forces, and they believe that his destination is most likely the States, attempting to rendezvous with one of his sleeper cells. They need him to track Namor down and give him authorization to eliminate Namor with extreme prejudice. Venom grins, bearing his unsavory teeth and elongated tongue. “I’m not normally a huge fan of seafood… but in this case, I’ll make an exception.”
Arath exclaims that he is tired of waiting around. The 13th cell’s leader, Kamar, asks him for patience, but Arath hates the place. His boss says they have a plan and they’re sticking to it. Arath states that Namor could find them at any moment. Any delay could be their undoing. Kamar places a reassuring hand on his shoulder and replies that the next attack is about more than the body count. Its psychological impact will be equally as devastating. Arath clenches his fist in anger, and Kamar says he works hard too to contain his frustration. However, this attack must coincide with actions in Atlantis. As for Namor, he looks forward to the moment they come face to face with the traitor king. When the time comes, he will be the first to spit on his grave.
Namor, meanwhile, flies across country to Westchester and lands at the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning. It’s now daylight. He has no doubt this 13th Cell will strike again. The first attack pushed them to the brink. A second will send them into the abyss from which there will be no return. In order to find them, he must turn to one of his oldest allies. He only hopes that Charles Xavier isn’t fighting some other battle on the other end of the universe.
As he approaches the mansion, Wolverine appears and snikts his claws. “Not every day a terrorist shows up at your front door,” he remarks.