Three years ago:
Columbia: ‘What’s that word?’ a little boy asks an older girl as he points at a page in a book. ‘That one? You’re saying you don’t know it?’ the girl replies. ‘I don’t…’ the boy, Benito, begins. The girl tells him that she thinks he does. ‘Come on, little brother, sound it out…’ she encourages him. The boy points at the word and tells his sister, Marera, that he can say it, but he doesn’t know what it means.
Suddenly, a soldier kicks the door down. The siblings get to their feet. ‘No. please…’ Marera cries, before she and her brother are pulled in other directions. ‘Benny!’ Marera shouts to her young brother, as soldiers torch the village and lead the children away.
Later, Benito and other young boys are in a jungle, soldiers stand watch over them as a large commanding officer informs them that they have been chosen to join their leader’s glorious struggle - chosen to do great things, to enjoy all the riches that the world has to offer. He tells them that to fulfil their great promise as one of the chosen they will learn to forget mercy, they will become a stranger to regret. The children are taught how to fire large machine guns, as the commander tells them that in a world of automobiles and jet planes, the morality forced upon them is a mule - it is obsolete and holding them back. The children are trained to fight - against each other. ‘When you complete your training ,the emotions that have made you soft and left you pained will be no more. You are not boys! You are the future! And the future must be strong!’ the commander declares, as they train again with the machine guns.
Later, when the boys are a little older, Benito and another boy are given tattoos by an older man. ‘You will be El Dragon. You will be El Toro’ the tattooist tells the boys.
Two months ago:
‘This is the one?’ a man in a blue suit asks the commanding officer. ‘Yes, Sir’ he replies as they stand in a warehouse-like facility. Benito and the boy called El Dragon stand near some medical testing equipment, while soldiers and doctors stand nearby. The commander announces that Benito is their most vicious and successful young recruit - a bit of a temper, but he is without compunction and completely loyal. ‘He does not even remember a life before his service to you’ the commander adds, as the shirtless Benito stands to attention, the tattoo of the bull face and horns displayed on his chest, while El Dragon stands next to him. The leader asks ‘Does he understand? That the process could kill him?’ The commander replies that it is better for them not to be made to consider such consequences - except as regards betrayal, naturally.
‘You know, Benito, it should be me taking that serum’ El Dragon declares. ‘Oh yeah, how you figure?’ Benito replies. ‘Cause I’m older than you. And stronger’ El Dragon boasts. ‘And uglier, but what’s that matter? I got the higher kill count’ Benito points out. ‘Of the ones they know about, you do’ El Dragon declares. Calling El Dragon by his real name, Marco, Benito tells him that random vagrants and prostitutes don’t count. ‘Says you, my brother’ Marco replies.
Soon, Benito is strapped to a table, wires hooked up to his body, one of the medical staff reports that actives one and two are in full effect. ‘Good. I’ll introduce the catalyst’ an older doctor declares. He leans into Benito and asks him if he speaks English. ‘Small. Little’ Benito replies. The doctor assures him that this will hurt - not little, big pain. ‘Okay?’ he asks. ‘Si. Okay’ Benito replies, before the doctor injects the catalyst into Benito’s body. Another of the medical staff reports that his heart rate is climbing, and then that blood pressure is climbing, while adrenaline is within expected norms. ‘Climbing…’ someone states, while Benito looks troubled, and he remembers his sister being taken away. Suddenly, he opens his eyes.
One Day Ago:
Five figures are gathered in darkness. ‘Tomorrow. It’s happening tomorrow’ someone with an electrical charge around them announces. ‘Our big debut. NYC. This is gonna be insane’ a girl with grey skin smiles. Someone with green skin remarks that that he doesn’t know, and tells the others that he would go somewhere without heroes, some sleepy suburb and just executive every last boring one of them at random. ‘It’s not like they could stop us. And by the time anyone knew what was what, it’d be too late’ he points out. Another, with white patterns on their costume, explains that they are supposed to strike where the heroes are - they are supposed to let everyone know that they don’t care who is watching over them. ‘I just hope that he sees this. I hope he realizes that I am my father’s son’ he adds. Someone with glowing red lines across their body mutters ‘Oh, yay for daddy issues’, to which the other declares ‘You’re one to talk. A sad little bigot whose father’s a mutie -’, to which the one with red lines interrupts: ‘Yeah? And your mom’s waiting for me in my bedroom, so -’, but he is interrupted by the first, the woman with the electrical charge, who exclaims ‘Enough. Get some sleep, you bastards. Tomorrow’s a big day’.
Rikki Barnes a.k.a. Nomad, formerly Bucky, the Girl Without a World, kicks a young man with a gun in the face, knocking him backwards, inside a store, where the man behind the counter looks on in shock. ‘So you got out of school today and decided holding up a bodega was the thing to do? Impressively lame’ Nomad tells the young man.
‘Tch. Children. These days, not an ounce of respect for anything anymore’ Anya Corazon a.k.a. Arana remarks as she swings some webbing around another thug, tying him up. The girls leave the store, with Nomad flying up alongside Arana who swings higher on some webbing. ‘Thank you, Spider-Girl!’ the store keeper calls out. ‘Oh. My. Gosh. I am not Spider-Girl!’ Arana exclaims.
The girls arrive on a rooftop, ‘Middle-school gangsta babies. Eesh’ Nomad mutters. ‘To think they might be going to our high school next year’ Arana adds. ‘Hate to sound like an old person, but -’ Nomad begins, ‘But the bad guys keep getting younger?’ Arana smiles, finishing off her friend’s sentence. ‘Yeah. Dumber, too’ Nomad adds. Nomad tells her friend that she doesn’t really get the whole “Spider-Girl” thing. Arana thanks her, to which Nomad remarks that she looks more like a “Venomette”, really. ‘Uh-huh. So, changing the subject with no subtlety whatsoever…’ Arana begins, asking Nomad when she gets to see her swank pad and learn how she can afford it? ‘Ah… yeah. My place isn’t nearly as awesome as you think it is’ Nomad replies as she leaps over some pipes on the rooftop, with Arana swinging after her.
As they leap over to another rooftop, Arana points out that Nomad lives on her own, ‘Whereas the rest of us tenth graders still have parent types to deal with. You’re not even from this reality or whatever and you already got a sweeter life than mine’ Arana adds. She reminds Rikki, that as she herself has pointed out, ‘I’m basically your only friend in this world, so I fully expect to see -’ Arana begins, before suddenly, she screams, as she loses her footing on the edge of the other rooftop. She drops down, but manages to grab onto the ledge with her hand. ‘You okay?’ Nomad asks as she goes over to Arana, who is pulling her onto the rooftop. ‘Yeah. Just an awesome little reminder that while I might have a new costume, I do not have new powers to go with it’ Arana replies. ‘Hey, I don’t have powers either and -’ Nomad begins, but Arana cuts her off: ‘No disrespect, Rikki? But not only were you partnered up with the amazing Captain America on your world - you never used to have powers. You don’t know how… well, powerless not having them can make you feel’ she explains.
Nomad pulls her goggles up back off her face and tells Arana ‘And yet, here you are just the same. You’re still doing it. That’s something, isn’t it? A kind of power?’ she points out. Arana tells her friend that she doesn’t know about that. ‘I just, I can’t…you know, like when we went up against the Secret Empire… playing a part in all that…’ her voice trails off. ‘It just felt right’ Nomad smiles. ‘Exactly. It felt right’ Arana agrees. She swings off towards a bridge, while Nomad asks ‘So may I at least say how much I miss the goggles?’, referring to the accessory that Arana used to wear. ‘No. No, you may not’ Arana responds.
Meanwhile, four young adults are sitting on the grass under some trees. ‘No, no, no. You’re basically talking about capital punishment, which already exists’ a boy called Josh declares. ‘Not exactly, he isn’t, Josh… if I understand him right’ a girl called Lauren remarks. She adds ‘Bad guy is stopped, caught and arrested? Bad guy killed a bunch of people in cold blood, so he’s put on trial for the death penalty’. ‘Right’ Josh agrees, to which Lauren continues, stating that the bad guy never has to worry about the trial because his powers allow him to escape custody, and he kills again’. Greg Willis a.k.a. Gravity, a “refugee” from the Midwest, tells Lauren that this is exactly what is happening with this guy in Ohio who claims to be the son of the Radioactive Man. ‘Looks like he is. I mean, like he could be, I guess. Or maybe he, like, ate a buncha glow sticks’ the fourth member of the group, a young man simply called “Frog” suggests.
Frog holds up his portable device which shows an image of the apparent son of the Radioactive Man, as Greg remarks ‘So this Warhead dude murdered people, right? And he and his pals - the Bastards of Evil they call themselves - they celebrate it all online! And now he’s escaped from custody and will no doubt kill again, so ultimately, I’m asking, what good does incarceration do?’ Lauren asks Greg what he would suggest instead: ‘To have him executed on the spot without due process?’ she declares. Greg points out that if someone’s life is in immediate danger, the cops use lethal force. ‘So - look, I’m not actually saying anything. It’s just… it got me thinking, you know?’ Lauren turns to Frog and tells him that if his roommate here starts skulking around in a black tee with a skull on it, talking about punishing the guilty… her voice trails off, to which Frog exclaims ‘That would be excellent. Safest neighborhood in New York’. ‘Oh, nice. Encourage him’ Lauren mutters, while Josh tells Greg that, for what is worth, he thinks all the bad guys should be killed.
Nearby, Angelica Jones a.k.a. Firestar rushes past the group, carrying several art history books, her phone suddenly beeps. ‘Yeah, yeah… don’t make me nuke you, phone…’ she mutters as she reaches into her jacket pocket and pulls out her phone, which has several messages from her good friend Patsy “Hellcat” Walker, who has been trying to get in touch with Angelica, but Angelica clearly has not been responding. The last message tells Angelica that she is to meet Patsy, Felicia and Monica tonight - no costumes and no excuses. Angelica looks longingly at the message, before putting her phone back in her bag, ‘Grad school beckons. Sorry girls’ Angelica remarks.
At the Statue of Liberty, a boy with an image of a bull on his red t-shirt stares up at Lady Liberty. ‘Perdon?’ he remarks. ‘I said, are you here with a group? A school group?’ a security guard asks as he approaches the boy. ‘I… I have a ticket?’ the boy replies. The security guards looks at the ticket, ‘Yes, okay, but see we don’t allow minors to be here without an adult, so if you’re not here with a school or family or -’ he begins. ‘My family?’ the boy asks. ‘Is your family here? Your parents?’ the guard enquires.
At that moment, running across the cables holding a nearby bridge up, ‘Come on. Mike’s clearly into you…’ Nomad calls out to Arana. ‘Do you have any idea the kind of coronary my dad would have if I started dating a senior?’ Arana calls back as she swings alongside her friend. ‘Seriously? Your dad let’s you fight crime. In a Venom costume’ Nomad points out. ‘Just squeezing that funny juice, huh?’ Arana smiles. ‘Hey, it’s not my fault you make such an easy -’ she doesn’t finish her sentence, as there is a huge explosion from the top of a nearby skyscraper and the two girls look out from the top of the bridge where they stand.
‘Hhh…here comes another missed lecture’ Angelica tells herself as she exits a building.
The boy on Liberty Island asks the security guard if the boat goes back now, and points to the explosion. ‘You joking? All commuter boats are grounded till further notice. We’re locked down, kid’ the guard replies. The boy responds by announcing ‘But I am not… I don’t jump so far, I think’.
Back at the campus, Greg tells his friends that he forgot something, and starts to run in direction of the explosion, while everyone else runs away from it. ‘We’ve gotta get somewhere safe. I am not having a repeat of that time campus got all tore up!’ Greg just tells his friends to just go ahead. Frog points to the sky, ‘Oh, hey! Look, guys! Sweetness!’ he exclaims, before shouting ‘Go, Firestar, go!’ Frog turns to Josh and Lauren and asks them if they think she goes to NYU as well. ‘Frog…where’s Greg?’ Lauren asks.
In the city: ‘Yes! Hell yes!’ the woman with the electrical charge shouts as she releases charges of energy from her body, creating fires, sending cars crashing backwards and destroying nearby buildings. She switches her body to an electrical form and darts through some nearby civilians, shocking them. ‘If someone told me I’d be having this much fun, Id’ve put on the ol’ disposable -’ she begins, before suddenly, she is struck by some energy, sending her crashing to the round. ‘That hurt!’ she cries out. ‘Glad top hear it, sicko’ Firestar replies as she hovers over the young electrical woman, who introduces herself as Aftershock.
Nearby, one of Aftershock’s companions has cornered some civilians. ‘Got yourselves a hero on the scene, but it still ain’t gonna keep ya from dying right here, right…now!’ he shouts as he tosses some flame towards them, however Nomad runs between the civilians and the flame, and blocks the attack with her energy shield. ‘Aw, what the -’ the young man with the flame power mutters, when suddenly, Arana swings down and kicks him in the back, knocking him over. ‘I got this one, Nomad! You go get Sandgirl!’ Arana calls out. ‘Sandgirl? No no no. It’s Mortar. Grey Gargoyle’s my pop!’ Mortar boasts as she rises over Nomad on a wave of sand. ‘What the heck kinda robbery is this?’ Nomad asks. ‘Hah! You’re gonna wish this was a robbery..’ Mortar declares, while, nearby, the green-skinned young man called Warhead is approached by some police officers. ‘Hands behind your head!’ one of them shouts. ‘Cops. Nice. I love cops’ Warhead grins, as he starts to fire some radioactive energy towards them, when suddenly, Greg, in his Gravity costume, drops down on him. ‘Noo!’ Gravity calls out.
Aftershock has chased Firestar into the air, ‘My God - what’s wrong with you? Why are you all -?’ Firestar begins, to which Aftershock enquires as to why there even has to be a “why?”. ‘Cause that’s what we’ve been told all our lives? Cause you say so?’ she mutters. The flaming young man slams his fist towards Arana, and asks her what is the matter. ‘Figgured you were missing that Mexico heat’. ‘I’m Puerto Rican, dipstick’ Arana replies, before she finds herself falling towards the fifth member of the group, wearing a black costume with white patterns on his costume. He address his teammate with the flame power as Ember and remarks ‘Your father was in the Brotherhood of Mutants. Being beaten by some powerless girl is not how to honor a legacy. Observe’. And with that, he uses his power to send Arana skyward. Nomad looks up and sees her friend in trouble, but Firestar notices her, too. ‘I’ve got you, Spider-Girl!’ she calls out.
But as Firestar flies after Arana, Aftershock blasts her with an electrical current, sending her crashing to the ground. ‘See, that’s what’s wrong with people like you. More worried about the safety of others than your own. It’s what makes you such easy targets’ Aftershock explains, adding that they know different - they are the discarded and disavowed sons and daughters of super-villains. ‘We’re the Bastards of Evil. And we do whatever we damn well please!’ she boasts, throwing more energy towards Firstar, who blocks it with a blast of microwave power.
On Liberty Island, onlookers point to the sky, ‘Oh God!’ someone shouts. ‘Is that a girl?’ another asks. ‘What’s happening?’ someone enquires. ‘She’s gonna hit the statue!’ another points out, while someone else declares that they can’t look. The young man with the bull on his t-shirt suddenly concentrates hard, and his form starts to increase and change, his shoes are ripped off, while Arana free-falls towards the State of Liberty’s head - saved, as Toro leaps into the air and grabs her, landing back on the ground with a mighty WHOOMP. ‘Gracias… gracias…’ Arana utters as she gathers herself. ‘De nada’ Benito Serrao a.k.a. Toro replies.
Back in the city, ‘You are done! Killing! People! You hearing me, Warhead?’ Gravity shouts as he punches Warhead in the face repeatedly. Warhead falls to the ground, blood dripping from his head, when suddenly, Gravity is caught in a stasis field. ‘Well, I hear you…Gravity, right? I bet, like me, you wanted to call yourself “Graviton”, but since that’s my father’s name - myself, I go by Singularity’ the young villain announces as the two play their powers against each other. He declares that as soon as Warhead gets up, this stalemate between them will end - with Gravity’s death.
‘These guys are bad?’ Toro asks as he leaps from Liberty Island to the mainland, with Arana on his back. ‘God yes. They’re killing anyone and everyone they feel like’ Arana replies. ‘Then they’ll feel the ends of my horns’ Toro declares. ‘The ends of - okay. I’m Arana, by the way’ Arana introduces herself. ‘I’m Toro’ Toro responds. ‘Yeah, course you are’ Arana tells him.
Warhead starts to get to his feet, ‘Hey, Warhead, don’t say I never did you any -’ Singularity calls out to him, to which Warhead mutters that Singularity should have let Gravity kill him. ‘A shiny super hero murders the villain on camera? That would’ve been something. But this, this’s just…it’s common’ Warhead declares as he starts to walk away. Gravity concentrates hard, ‘Just realized…I can…let go!’ he exclaims as he bursts forth, knocking Singularity backwards.
Warhead enters some construction site, a video camera hovering nearby. ‘Dude, you know where you’re standing? This is - what are you doing?’ Gravity calls out as he drops down into the construction site. ‘Something bi and iconic. Something memorable’ Warhead responds. He turns to Gravity and admits that he killed all those people here and in Ohio, and everywhere else because it was fun. ‘But I’m not just some thrill killer, man. I’m making a statement’ he claims. ‘That you’re insane?’ Gravity asks. As Warhead starts to release some energy, he replies ‘That would be easier for you, wouldn’t it? If you could dismiss me as crazy? Dismiss us?’ Blood starts to trickle out of his nose, and reminds Gravity that they are the future, the next generation. ‘And this is who we are’ he boasts. ‘N-’ Gravity begins.
The battle is joined by Toro and Arana, as Toro smashes Ember into the air. ‘All right, Toro! You show that zangano who’s -’ Arana begins, but she stops, and looks around. Firestar stops mid-air, and even Aftershock stops firing electrical bolts at Nomad. Toro looks up, a green haze over everyone as a massive radiation cloud rises into the air above the construction site, followed by a blast of energy that radiates outwards in deadly display….