(S.H.I.E.L.D flying headquarters)
Carol Danvers, better known as the Avenger, Warbird, has just about seen it all. She’s gazed at superhuman monstrosities that shouldn’t be able to exist. She's toured underground lairs the size of Rhode Island. She’s witnessed interstellar wars in distant galaxies. During those times, she had no way of knowing that the fate of mankind might one day rest on her ability to think small.
She sits, immobile, attached to a S.H.I.E.L.D computer system through feed cables attached to her body. Captain America, Wolverine and Agent Sharon Carter watch a young S.H.I.E.L.D operative monitor the readout on several screens. Cap asks if it’s working and if they are any closer to finding the Contingency. The operative replies that it’s too soon to tell. Wolverine, standing behind him asks how exactly this is supposed to be working again.
The operative explains that they know that the stolen computer chip was developed by the alien Shi’ar. They also know that Warbird’s abilities are powered by energies from the Shi’ar star system. He says it’s a stretch, but there’s a chance that the mutant chip has been absorbing the same energy that powers Warbird. This means that, if she can feed a precise electron pulse into S.H.I.E.L.D’s computers, they should be able to use the energy signature to find the chip.
Cap places a hand on the man’s shoulder and says he’s impressed by his thinking. The man replies that it wasn’t his idea; it was Warbird’s. Cap appears a little surprised. A reading appears on the main screen and the operative gets a reading. Unfortunately, it’s too much and he warns Warbird to slow down before it blows. As the energy streams through her body, she stands and convulses before being thrown to the ground. All the feed cables are pulled out and Cap immediately goes to her assistance. She’s fine, but asks if he’s supposed to look blurry. The operative smiles and tells them that they got it; they got a fix.
Cap helps Carol to her feet and congratulates her on her idea. “Nothing to it, Cap,” she replies, “All it took was the will to succeed.” Wolverine approaches and asks if they’re done with the Hallmark moment. There are bad guys he wants to go after. Cap replies that they’re all going after the Contingency. That’s fine by Wolverine, but he reminds them that they should stay outta his way when it comes to Rapture. Cap tries to assert some authority. He acknowledges that she needs to pay for what she’s done, but this is no vendetta. They’ll recover the chip and let the courts bring Rapture to justice. “Are we clear?” he asks. Wolverine stands right in front of him. He doesn’t like being bossed around and asks him to tell him again and see what happens.
Sharon Carter steps in and tells them to stop it. The more time they spend posturing, the more Rapture gets to play with what is probably the most powerful computer component on the planet. She reminds Wolverine to think with his head. Cap, Warbird and Wolverine head off, and Cap says they should try and bring them in alive. He’s sure Wolverine wants to know as much as he does how the Contingency came to possess arms and gear specifically designed to take him down. Wolverine agrees and replies that he’s gonna find out who made the junk too, and make them pay. Sharon Carter overhears them and her head drops in shame.
(The Docks, New York City)
Rapture leads the Contingency to the docks for a liaison with several suited A.I.M troops. Rapture asks if they have a deal. A.I.M’s spokesperson says they’re always ready to deal when it comes to exotic technologies, so long as it can be used to the benefit of their clients. Rapture takes hold of a suitcase containing the six million dollars that A.I.M is prepared to pay. “I take it, then, that the terror industry is still bullish?” she asks with a smile. Quite, comes the reply and they ask for the chip. Rapture replies that a girl can go much further with both power and wealth, so she’s keeping the money.
A.I.M has been double-crossed and each of them quickly produces a weapon. Rapture takes the opportunity to run, telling her team mates that she’ll prepare their escape while they do their thing; killing everyone. Killdeer revels in this kind of action and lets loose with a volley of gunfire. Kite interrupts him, informing him that he’s picking up a strong mutant energy signature. “Incoming!” he yells, as a wall behind the A.I.M troops explodes in a blast of energy, courtesy of Warbird.
The three heroes enter, Wolverine with his claws drawn and Cap looking determined behind his shield. With a new threat arriving on the scene, the bad guys put their problems on the back burner and turn their attention to the new players. Condor goes John Woo on them, firing with both hands whilst Warbird takes out Kite, who has been a problem for them with his exploding gadgets. Cap heads straight after Shrike and takes him out with one punch. “Still got nothing to say? Fair enough,” he adds, “You can save it for your trial.”
The A.I.M troops are a little taken aback by the arrival of the Avengers. One turns on Killdeer and says they can’t believe that the Contingency brought the Avengers down on them. He takes aim at Killdeer, having felled him with a pistol whip, and tells him that he’s a whole new level of imbecile. He’s going to make Darwin proud. Before he can fire, though, Warbird swoops down behind him and blasts him in the back, throwing the gun from their hand. Condor tries to make a run for it but he isn’t getting away that easily. Cap throws his shield with his trademark precision and levels him before he reaches the exit. With hardly anyone left to deal with, Cap realizes that two combatants are nowhere to be seen and asks Warbird if she can guess which ones.
Outside, with New York City lit by a full moon, Wolverine confronts Rapture. He asks if she’s ready to end this. She replies that he’s a tough one to kill but, tonight, he’ll find she’s far tougher than he thinks. Before she finishes her sentence, however, her suit begins to play up again, sparking energy from the left side. This drops Rapture to her knees and she is clearly in pain. Wolverine prompts her to give up but Rapture refuses. She takes the mutant chip and says, “You want this, right? You want the chip?” She places it on the wall behind her and launches herself at Wolverine who responds in kind. “Come get it!” she cries.
Logan manages to land the first punch, catching Rapture full in the stomach with his fist. On a normal human being, this would be enough to leave them winded and debilitated, but Rapture isn’t ready to drop yet. She reacts by grabbing Wolverine by the hair and bringing her knee up to meet his face. He wipes his jaw with his gloved wrist and acknowledges her skill. She continues her offensive, knocking Logan backwards with a two-wristed push, a left cross and a right cross to follow.
As she fights, she taunts Wolverine telepathically. She’s the best. Any pain he’s endured today is nothing compared to that which is to come. He will suffer and then he will die! Her attack is relentless and Wolverine is unable to find the opportunity to find his rhythm. She leaves him on the ground with his head down. In his mind, she hears the words, “It’s over,” and confidently approaches him. She’s going to enjoy this, she thinks. As she gets within striking distance, Wolverine’s claws shoot out from his right wrist. “Lady, shut yer trap!” he says, as he thrusts the claws right into Rapture’s rib cage. She remains on her feet, but the claws have done their job. She staggers backwards towards the wall and barely gets a word out, before tumbling over the wall and into the water below.
Logan peers over the edge. It’s not like he’s never met a telepath before, he thinks. Captain America runs to him and asks where she is and what he’s done. He replies that he did what was needed. If it’s the chip he’s worried about, he has it. He hands the chip to Cap, as Warbird appears, having been underwater in search of Rapture. There’s no sign of her.
(The Xavier Institute for Higher Learning)
Wolverine has returned to the Institute and chats informally with Professor Xavier and Beast. Cyclops and Forge are also present, but taciturn, allowing Logan to explain what occurred. He tells Charles that they learned that the chip is pulling its power from the Shi’ar star system but, other than that, they don’t know much else. Warbird has been able to siphon most of the energy out like a cyst, so it isn’t any trouble for the moment. However, just holding the chip in his hands gave Logan the creeps.
Hank presumes that the Contingency also bothers him. Logan admits that they do. As much as he wants to underestimate them, they’re more than just high-tech thieves. They had custom-built hardware to shut him down, for good. He doesn’t know what their deal is, but he can guarantee that they haven’t seen the last of them.
(S.H.I.E.L.D detention center)
The four captured members of the Contingency are being held in a cell, stripped of their uniforms and weaponry. “I hear the food here is atrocious,” says a voice from above. They peer upwards and see Rapture, materialize in her mist form before them. She is still in pain from her wounds and Killdeer is surprised that she isn’t better yet. He asks her to get rid of her exo-suit, but she replies that she already has. As near as she can tell, when Wolverine’s adamantium claws tore into her suit, and her flesh, some kind of electrical reaction took place. This fused the suit’s abilities to her central nervous system. She can’t explain it, but she thinks that the Shi’ar chip was somehow involved. The suit’s power is now a part of her, but her body wasn’t made for it. She is in constant pain, constantly suffering.
Killdeer figures they should get outta there and figure out how to solve her problem, but she tells them that she can’t take them with her, not yet. However, she promises to return for them and, when she does, they’ll be ready for some well-deserved revenge. She returns to her mist form and departs, leaving her friends to face the wrath of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Sharon Carter makes her way through the quiet corridors. She enters her quarters and is shocked to find Captain America hiding in the shadows. He says hello, but this isn’t a friendly visit. He informs her that it took him longer to piece together than it should have, but he knows what she’s up to. She tries to feign ignorance, but Cap isn’t buying it.
He tells her that, by her own admission, the Contingency was a team of S.H.I.E.L.D assassins. They just happened to be carrying weapons uniquely suited to bring down Wolverine. He asked her before what they were a contingency for exactly. Now he knows. They were trained to kill known mutants and she was in charge of them. Sharon tries to defend her actions. She insists it wasn’t her. True, she was involved with the project, but only at the tail end. A different agent, Brent Jackson, developed the project. Cap interjects, and says she did nothing to stop it.
Sharon says it’s not that simple and he knows it. Her hands were tied. Suddenly, she switches from being defensive to aggressively standing up for her actions. She says it’s a legitimate question of national security. How do they know which are the good mutants? Do they just ask them, politely? Have them fill out a psych test? What if they change their minds? She tells Cap that they were never going to actively pursue mutants. It was just a contingency plan, that’s all. He should stop looking at her with his condemning, condescending eyes for once.
“Enough!” shouts Cap, tired of her hollow argument. He asks if she forgets who she’s talking to. He has lived through one holocaust, remember? He will never let America be party to another. He walks away from Sharon and adds that if he even hears whispered rumors about Project: Contingency resurfacing, let there be no doubt that he’ll do everything in his power to bring her and S.H.I.E.L.D crashing down.