‘N-’ Greg Willis a.k.a. Gravity calls out, before the young villain called Warhead releases his explosive power. ‘NO!’ Gravity screams, but the radiation mushroom cloud billows skyward. ‘No…’ Gravity utters, fallen to the ground. ‘No!’ he calls out, sitting up in bed, waking from his nightmare. The former Girl Without a World, Rikki “Nomad” Bares lies in bed, solemn, a tattered poster of Captain America taped to the wall. Anya Corazon a.k.a. Arana stands at the bathroom sink, steam rising from the shower, she looks at herself in the mirror. Angelica “Firestar” Jones sits on her bed, holding her long wig in her hands.
Benito Serrao, known as Toro, sits on the grass in a park, watching the sunrise. He walks over to a police barricade, where emergency workers are going about their business around a glow of radiation. A glow of radiation that surrounds Ground Zero of the World Trade Center, littered with cars, broken construction works and rubble. The radiation appears in the form of a bubble, it has cut through several buildings. On a hover platform Reed Richards a.k.a. Mr Fantastic stands at some monitors, with Gravity nearby. ‘I tried to stop it, Sir. But I - it happened so fast, and - I had no idea that he would -’ he is interrupted by Reed Richards who announces that form what he has seen on these kids’ website, and what Gravity has told him, he can’t blame himself. ‘With the abilities this one had…it would have been next to impossible to stop him from instantly committing a terrorist act of suicide’.
The skeletal remains of Warhead can be seen floating in the green radiation, Without looking up from one of the screens he is watching, Reed remarks that Ben and Johnny tell him Gravity saved the entire cosmos once. ‘Statistically speaking, you’ve already accomplished an infinite amount of good’ he adds. ‘But that’s… it’s not enough, Sir. Anything I can do to -’ Gravity begins, but Reed tells him that he has contained as much of the radiation and Johnny is atomizing the fallout, while the hunt for the rest of the so-called Bastards of Evil is underway. ‘They will be made to account for their crimes’ Reed promises, before suggesting that if Gravity’s gravitational field can work through a lead suit, he suspects the emergency services could use his help with debris removal, but that is about the extent of what assistance he can provide at this moment. ‘But, Sir -’ Gravity protests. ‘You’re welcome to call me Reed’ Mr Fantastic tells the young hero, before excusing himself, as there is still a great deal of data for him to process to ensure the contamination is fully eradicated. ‘But -’ Gravity utters.
Suddenly: ‘Gravity!’ a voice calls out from above. Gravity looks up to see Firestar flying overhead. He flies up to join her, as Firestar announces that she spoke with the Avengers. ‘And?’ Gravity asks. Firestar reports that they debriefed her, thanked her and told her that they have things covered. ‘They say they’ll “keep me in the loop”’ she adds. Gravity tells her that is pretty much the same thing here. ‘But, I mean, you used to be an Avenger. That’s just…’ his voice trails off, as Firestar points out that it is a huge deal, Warhead lighting up Ground Zero like that - a massive wound has been reopened. ‘Uh-huh’ Gravity replies. Firestar asks him if he has slept. ‘Whu…? Sorry, I - ‘ Gravity begins, before telling Firestar that they might have been sidelined by the big guns, but he is not sitting on the bench. ‘I can do it’ he declares. ‘No. Exactly’ Firestar agrees, telling Gravity that she is with him. ‘Well. Okay then… where do we start?’ Gravity asks. Firestar just smiles.
On a rooftop nearby, Benito stands and watches as Gravity and Firestar fly past, their energy signatures streaking behind them. ‘Benny…? Benito! You’re - it’s you!’ Nomad calls out as she leaps onto the rooftop, followed by Arana. ‘Toro?’ Arana asks. Benito steps backwards, ‘She knows my - only my sister called me Benny!’ Benito declares. Arana tells him that she is sorry about her friend, and explains that Nomad is from another reality, one where she knows him. ‘I know it sounds crazy, but, like…just trust me. It’s true’ she tells Benito. ‘Arana, what are you -? What’s he saying?’ Nomad asks as she doesn’t understand the language Benito and Anya are speaking. ‘I’m explaining about you, okay? You kinda weirded him out, like I said you would’ Arana explains. Benito puts a hand on Arana’s shoulder and asks her if she is hurt. ‘What? Me? No, I’m fine’ Arana replies. ‘Good. I’m glad’ Benito tells her, putting an arm around Arana.
‘Um, yeah, um… both of us, we’re glad we ran into you. We were hoping to, actually’ Arana tells Benito as she steps away from him. She informs him that they plan to find the people who did this yesterday, the guys who killed all the innocent people. ‘We want to stop them before they do it again’ she adds. ‘Can you ask him -’ Nomad begins, but Arana tells her to hang on. ‘We were wondering, Benito… will you help us?’ Arana asks. Benito replies that he doesn’t think he can. I’m not… I did not come here…’ his voice trails off. ‘What? Didn’t come here… legally? Hey, that’s not - we don’t’ care, we won’t make it our business… we just wanna get these guys’ Arana announces. In English, Benito says to Nomad ‘They done bad things. They… they should pay? Bad people should pay for bad things’. Nomad smiles at him, ‘Yes. Absolutely. They should pay’ she agrees. Benito looks out over to the radiation bubble, and announces that he will help - he will help them to pay.
Elsewhere: ‘That, right there… that’s an epic fail’ the young woman called Mortar exclaims as she sits at a table in a run-down apartment, watching the explosion with Warhead on a laptop. She laughs, and exclaims that Warhead is a tool and that he can’t enjoy the fruits of his labours, being dead. Ember tells Mortar that what he did took guts, to which Mortar replies ‘Uh-huh. And would that be the guts that were atomized the instant he offed himself?’
Singularity enters the kitchen, glass of red wine in one hand and announces that he is appalled, as he thought they were supposed to be more sophisticated than those savages across the ocean from them. ‘Oh, well, hey, not all of us put on airs and delude ourselves into thinking we can win Daddy’s love and attention’ Ember replies. ‘No, I understand… why would a dyed-in-the-wool racist like you take any pride in your heritage when you’ve learned that your birth father is Pyro?’ Singularity asks.
‘You shut up about that, man’ Ember exclaims. But Singularity just asks him how it feels knowing that he comes from the seed of a filthy mutant? ‘Does it make you want to, I don’t know, follow in Warhead’s footsteps?’ he asks. ‘I said ENOUGH!’ Ember exclaims, spinning around he tosses a burst of flame at Singularity, before muttering ‘Screw this. I’m outta here’ as he strides out of the kitchen. Singularity smiles at Mortar and remarks that he thinks their teammate might have a tiny temper problem. ‘And you think you should be the one running this crew ‘stead of Aftershock? You crack me up’ Mortar replies, before Singularity asks Mortar if she has any idea of why they haven’t heard from Aftershock yet?
Elsewhere, in a room plunged into darkness, the only light from the glow emitted by Aftershock. ‘Your father would be so proud’ a voice calls out from a chair in the room. ‘Whatever. That’s Singularity’s thing Anyway, it’s not the point’ Aftershock replies. She turns in the direction of the voice and boasts that she has zero problem killing. ‘I’ve proven it to you time and again. But tell me…tell me this wasn’t part of the plan’. ‘What if it were?’ the person sitting on the chair asks. ‘What if I told Warhead to detonate at Ground Zero? To send a message greater than any we could have accomplished by laying waste to Manhattan’s financial district? Would you have objected to my decision?’ he asks. Aftershock replies that wouldn’t, but that it caught them all by surprise. ‘Especially - you put me in charge. If I’d have known -’ she begins, to which the person in the shadows claims that they gave no such order, and points out that they all knew that Warhead would eventually snap - it was only a matter of when.
Aftershock announces that it is too much - they are down by one and every damn super hero in the book is gunning for them. ‘We gotta lay low now, right?’ she asks. But the figure in the shadows tells her ‘Just the opposite. We adapt to the climate. We strike harder than before’. Aftershock asks how they can do that. ‘If you look at any wall just right, you will find that it is not a wall…but a doorway’ a figure with green skin in the shadows smiles.
Meanwhile, ‘I’m not even joking - if you don’t level with me right this second I will have zero problem letting go’ Gravity tells a man who he holds upside down, high in the air. ‘Hey, bro. you don’t gotta do all this! What they did, them kids, it ain’t copacetic!’ the man replies. Gravity puts the man down on a rooftop nearby without harming him, before taking flight once more with Firestar. ‘Well, you tried. Even had me convinced you’d actually let him fall to his death’ Angelica remarks. ‘Yeah’ Gravity replies, before asking ‘Who’s next?’ As they descent to another rooftop, Firestar tells him that was it - that they have visited every last super villain hanger-on and wannabe from her New Warrior days. ‘So no we just, what? Just wait?’ Gravity asks, declaring that there has gotta be something they could be doing right now - someone who knows something. ‘I mean - a bunch of people were murdered in cold blood yesterday! Just killed ! For kicks!’ he shouts. ‘And no one’s giving up the killers? What the hell’s gone wrong with the world?’
Ted’s Internet Café, Rikki, Anya and Benito sit at some computers. Anya wears a cap and some dark sun glasses and exclaims ‘Can you believe this? Over on Facebook, there’s a “Million Strong Against the Bastards” fanpage competing with a “Bastards Rule Your Face” fanpage. Horrified, she adds, that better yet, on the Bastards of Evil website, there is an actual memorial page for Warhead, with thousands of comments. ‘Hey! Stupid internets! Innocent people died!’ Anya exclaims, before leaning back in her chair, remarking that dozens of feelers put out on boards and blogs and chat rooms - 231 re-tweets of her call to arms so far and nothing back but noise and spam. ‘And this disturbing pro-Bastards crap’ she adds.
‘Hey, are you someone famous!’ a blond man asks as he walks up to Anya. ‘What? No’ Anya replies. ‘You’re dressed like Perez Hilton with the cap and glasses?’ the man adds. ‘Please go away’ Anya tells him. Rikki turns to Benny and tells Anya that she doesn’t know why she feels the need to hide her identity from him. ‘You mean my secret identity? Yeah, why would I feel that way?’ Anya mutters in response. Benny declares that this sitting here is not what he had in mind when he said he would help. Anya tells him that they have to find these dudes before they can do anything else about - but Benny interrupts, ‘And your friend Rikki won’t stop staring at me’ he points out. ‘What? What about me?’ Rikki asks as Benny stands up. ‘This is no good. I go’ Benny tells the girl, but Rikki asks him to stay, and promises to explain everything.
‘A-ha!’ Anya exclaims. Rikki leans over her and asks ‘What is it?’ Anya reports that a guy up in Queens just vid capped this off a traffic cam. ‘And… it’s a guy in a hoodie’ Rikki points out, looking at the computer screen, depicting a guy crossing the road. ‘Yeah, it’s a guy in a hoodie, but look. Watch what happens when he steps into the puddle -’ Anya explains. The puddle suddenly evaporates under the man’s feet. ‘Ember. We got Ember’ Rikki smiles.
At that moment, Firestar sits on the ledge of a high-rise building. ‘How are you not getting angry?’ Gravity calls out to her, from where he leans against the wall nearby. ‘What?’ Angelica asks. ‘Angry. I mean…how could your blood not be boiling after what happened yesterday?’ Greg enquires, asking her if she has been at this for so long that she has become desensitized toward death. Angelica stands up, ‘Okay, you’re clearly in a state right now -’ she begins. ‘A state?’ Greg exclaims. ‘- but for you to suggest that I don’t care when I’m, out here just like you -’ Angelica continues, to which Gravity starts to say ‘Whoa, hey -’, but Angelica continues: ‘Yes, Gravity, I have been fighting this fight for some time, which is why I’m able to channel my anger into something constructive - like calling out an area super villain whose daughter recently committed a horrifically offensive and violent attack on Wall Street’ Firestar declares.
‘And as for my stance on the value of life -’ she begins, but Gravity replies ‘I think we got - I wasn’t trying to be - it’s just, I just, I’m having a tough time with this and -’, suddenly, a brilliant light shines down on them, and Gravity asks Firestar if it seems a bit bright to her? There is a blast of energy, and Gravity falls backwards - off the edge of the rooftop, but Firestar leans over and grabs him. ‘I got you!’ she exclaims, as a giant-sized Electro appears over them. ‘So…I take it you’re the brats been looking for me?’ the villain asks.
Another rooftop, in Queens: Nomad, Arana and Toro look down at the road where the video showed Ember crossing earlier. ‘Okay, so… how long ago was that video taken?’ Nomad asks. Arana replies that it was twelve minutes ago. ‘And he was going which way from here?’ Nomad asks. Arana announces that he was going north, to which Nomad enquires if there has been any more sightings from her guy. ‘Nope’ Arana replies. Nomad tells the others that Ember could be anywhere by now. ‘I mean, where -?’ she begins, before Toro points several blocks away, where and explosion has just occurred. ‘There’ he tells the girls.
Indeed, down on the street, Ember has et two cars on fire. Civilians run for their lives, as Ember exclaims ’Fiesta all up in yo face, tacos!’ and boasts that Warhead has nothing on him. ’He wasted random folks, but I’m doing the world a public -’ he begins as some webbing is tied around him. ’You are not gonna finish that thought!’ Arana exclaims. Ember turns to see her on a car nearby, ’Oh. It’s you. I was wondering when I’d finally get to make you feel all warn and toasty again, chica…’. The car that Arana was on suddenly explodes as Ember breaks free from the webbing, and fires a burst of flame at the car. Arana leaps into the air and swings over the flames, ’Why you gotta run? Just trying to kill ya s’all…’ Ember calls out after her. ’Now! Do it now!’ Arana shouts.
‘Hey, Ember. Thirsty?’ Nomad asks as she slams her energy shield into a fire hydrant, sending water blasting towards Ember. ’No! You stupid bi-!’ Ember shouts as he falls to the ground, steam rising from where he was dowsed, Ember coughs, while Toro walks towards him, and grabs the back of his neck. ‘Crushing’ Ember mutters. ‘You are bad. You kill. You do not live’ Toro replies, before Arana and Nomad rush over to him and pull him back. ‘Toro!’ Arana exclaims. ‘Enough! You’re killing him!’ Nomad declares, before reminding him that the plan was to knock Ember unconscious. ‘What are you thinking?’ Arana asks. ‘He deserves to be punished. He deserves death’ Toro announces. ‘I don’t know how you do the super hero thing where you come from, but -’ Arana begins, before Ember blasts Toro from behind with a surge of flame. ‘Ow, my eyes…tell me he didn’t just -’ Nomad calls out. ‘He did’ Arana responds. They gather themselves and turn to see that Ember has fled. ‘Damn it. We had him’ Nomad mutters. Toro frowns at the girls, who hang their heads.
Back on the rooftop, ‘We aren’t looking for a fight, Electro!’ Firestar calls out as she blocks his electricity with a blast of microwave energy. ‘That’s gotta explain why you’re attacking me’ Electro remarks, now back to his default size. ‘If you’d just listen to what -’ Firestar begins, while Gravity flies up to Electro and punches him in the face: ‘This is supposed to be for your daughter - but I’m more than happy to deliver an ass-kicking to the piece of work responsible for her!’ Gravity exclaims. Firestar calls out to Gravity, ‘Don’t! He’s letting you get in close so he can -’ she begins, to which Electro blasts Gravity back with electrical fury. ‘News flash, kid - not everything you read’s the truth - especially on the web’ he remarks.
‘So you flat out deny that Aftershock’s your daughter? And here I thought you’d be proud of her!’ Firestar exclaims as she circles Electro, wrapping microwave energy around him. ‘These are, what - microwaves? Well, then, that changes things, don’t it? Thanks for the fuel!’ Electro replies as he casts electrical currents through Firestar’s energy, knocking her back. ‘Don’t you dare hurt her or I swear I’ll -’ Gravity calls out as he speeds towards Electro, who responds by striking the young hero with another blast of energy. Both Firestar and Gravity fall to the rooftop, and Electro looms over them as they father themselves. ‘The only reason I’m letting the two of you live through your mistake of coming after me is that I need you to pass along a message’ Electro calls down to them.
Electro admits that he is no saint, but points out that he doesn’t go around killing people willy-nilly and he would never pull that suicide bomber crap. ‘And Ground Zero? Even for me, that’s low’ he declares, announcing that in no way does he endorse the acts of horror of a girl and her friends. ‘How and when I got these powers, you can look it up, no, you will look it up. You’ll see how long I been like this and then, if you got a brain cell between you…you’ll do the math. That girl can’t be my daughter. It’d be impossible!’ Electro boasts, while Firestar glances at Gravity as the two struggle to get up….