‘I should kill you!’ Singularity exclaims as he grabs Ember by the throat inside the Bastards of Evil’s run-down hideout. ‘We. We should kill you’ their teammate Mortar declares as she swishes over in her malleable form. ‘This ass right here started!’ Ember retorts, referring to Singularity, to which the uppity villain asks ‘Oh, did I tell you to throw a three-year-old’s tantrum and then run out and thrill kill a bunch of minorities, Adolf?’ Ember tries to push Singularity off of him, as Singularity points out that Ember didn’t even bring along a recording drone. ‘Don’t you want to make a real statement? Do you want Warhead’s idiot sacrifice you’re so impressed by to be for nothing?’ he asks, before pulling away from Ember, ‘No, you’d just rather get caught like a common criminal!’ Singularity points out, before telling Ember that there is no way they would come to save his ass like they did with Warhead. Mortar points out that is not Singularity’s call to make, to which he mutters ‘Oh, right. Forgot. Our “team leader”, who still hasn’t shown up to lead the team?’
Suddenly, through electricity pouring from a light fitting above, a young woman materializes. ‘Got a problem, Singularity?’ she snaps. ‘Aftershock! Yeah. Deh fuehrer here -’ Singularity begins, to which Aftershock cuts him off, revealing that Mortar filled her in, before informing him that if he has a problem with her status, he can take it up with their superior. ‘Got it?’ she suggests, before powering down and informing her teammates that they have their next assignment, and it is a good one. ‘So soon? I thought we’d lay low…’ Mortar begins, but Aftershock tells her that is exactly what they don’t want. She fires some power at a television, switching it on and declaring that they need to take advantage of the effect Warhead’s martyrdom has had on the populace. She adds that they need to impress upon them even further that their heroes do not make them safe. ‘So…we’re gonna meet up with a couple of our newest acquaintances… and kill them’ Aftershock announces, referring to the two young heroes shown on the television - Arana and Nomad!
At school, Rikki Barnes sits at her desk and text-messages her friend Anya Corazon, telling her that math is killing her. Anya texts back, telling Rikki that she feels the same, and adds that she wants to be hunting. Rikki responds by asking Anya if she has got anywhere finding them. Anya texts back that she thinks so, to which Rikki asks for details. “Not now” is what Anya texts back, before putting her phone down as her teacher calls out to her. Soon, in the corridor, Anya is at her locker, ‘What did you find, Anya? Tell me!’ Rikki exclaims as she rushes over. Anya reveals that the Bastards’ site itself is hosted offshore and owned by a maze of shell corporations, so that s no help. ‘Okay…’ Rikki replies, and Anya informs her that no one has found anything in the site’s structure that would point to any particular designer. ‘Right…’ Rikki remarks, before Anya reveals that there is something peculiar: ‘All the videos before the Ground Zero one, none of them appear together. They’re all over the country, on their own’.
Anya continues, explaining that the earliest videos, the smallest offenses, they all take place somewhere in the Southwest. She tells Rikki that Aftershock’s first three were shot around the same town in Colorado, and she has started making inquiries there. ‘Don’t really know what I’ll find exactly, but it’s gotta mean something, right?’ Anya adds. Rikki tells Anya that, regardless, she thinks they should find Benny and bring him back into the loop. ‘Hey, I know you guys were friends -’ Anya starts to reply, as Rikki glances sideways and tells her friend ‘Actually, for a little while? We were…we, ah…’ her voice trails off. ‘No way. You and him?’ Anya asks, wide-eyed. Rikki tells her that he is a little different back on her world, granted, but that this Benny is a good guy deep down. ‘I know he is’ she declares, before pointing out that they need his strength. Anya turns her back on her friend, ‘Do I need to remind you that he just almost murdered someone? On purpose’ she declares. ‘And he saved your life, Anya’ Rikki points out, grabbing her friend by her shoulder. Anya looks back at Rikki and assures her that she is not forgetting that. ‘But I’ll bet you anything you don’t known Toro a fraction as well as you think you do’ she adds, causing Rikki to look concerned.
Elsewhere, in an empty children’s playground, Benito Serrao holds a few stone chips in his hand as he sits on one of the turn-style type structures. His mind wanders back to an earlier encounter:
In Toro’s memory / flashback
‘Toro, what the hell do you think you’re doing?’ Arana shouts. ‘Do you realize we woulda had him if you’d just followed Nomad’s plan?’ she adds, asking him if he doesn’t realize how badly he has messed things up. ‘I’m not the one! It’s you!’ Toro retorts, telling Arana that if she hadn’t stopped him, Ember would be dead, but instead he is free to kill again. ‘And whose fault is that?’ he points out. ‘You just attempted murder and you’re scolding us?’ Arana exclaims, while Nomad looks on. ‘I think you’re forgetting one minor detail, pal - if we’d subdued him, we coulda found out where the others were hiding! Moron!’ Arana shouts.
Suddenly: ‘You on our turf, hoss’ a voice calls out. Benito turns to see four other young men approaching him. ‘Said, you on our corner. We the only ones do bidness here, hoss’ one of the other young men repeats. ‘Best bounce, yo’ another suggests. ‘No English’ Benny replies, turning away from the gang. “No English?” one of the gang members quotes. ‘Don’t you know you in America?’ he smirks. ‘We can school ‘im’ another suggests, producing a knife. ‘That we can, son’ the first replies, suggesting that they start with “felonious assault”. He laughs, but before he and the other gang members can attack Benny, he has picked up a metal pole lying on the turn style and smacks it into the thug’s face. ‘Mutha -’ one of the other thugs begins as he raises his knife to Benny, who responds by grabbing his wrist, and slamming the pole into another of the thugs. He twists the other thug’s wrist back so that he forces the knife into his chest.
‘You gots to go down now’ the remaining gang member declares, aiming a gun at Benny, he fires, narrowly missing Benny, who races over to him and grabs him, snapping his finger back, causing the young thug to drop to his knees. Benny points the gun at the thug’s head, to which the young thug asks ‘Well? Juss gonna stand there looking like a punk or what? Do it, already!’ he exclaims. Tears start streaming down his face, ‘How it’s got to go, hoss. You know…we don’t make the game. Game make us’ the young thug declares. Benny puts the gun right to the young thug’s head, but instead of pulling the trigger, he just slams it into his face, knocking him out. The four thugs lie unconscious on the playground, ‘Not hoss. Benito’ Benny declares as he leaves.
Meanwhile, Greg Willis a.k.a. the young hero Gravity is in his dorm room, ‘No mercy. They never show any mercy’ he remarks as he does some research on his laptop. ‘Aw, Greg, dude - would you please stop poring over the Bastards of Evil video archives?’ his roommate and friend Frog asks. Frog is lying on his bed, checking his phone, and tells Greg that he is starting to freak him out with this obsession of his. Greg doesn’t answer, and Frog sits up, asking Greg what he had for breakfast. ‘Wait, don’t tell me, cause I know- nothing’. He then asks Greg what he had for lunch, before remarking that it was probably the same answer. ‘Go to any classes today? Silly me. Of course not’ Frog remarks. ‘What’s this…?’ Greg utters, wide-eyed, as he clicks on another link. Frog suggests to him that he at least take a shower, and then he could potentially visit the world outside their dorm room in person. ‘You’re right, Frog. I should go out’ Greg smiles, closing his laptop. ‘Yes! This is what I’m saying!’ Frog exclaims, reminding Greg not to forget about the shower, while Greg picks up a piece of paper from his notepad.
‘Why. Why. Why. Why does this paper have to be due tomorrow’ Angelica “Firestar” Jones mutters to herself as she sits at a table on the sidewalk outside a café, laptop open in front of her. ‘Probably because the world likes to mess with you, Angie’ a voice calls out. ‘Patsy’ Angelica replies as she looks up and sees her close friend Patsy Walker a.k.a. Hellcat pulling a chair up to the table. ‘Oh, so you do remember me?’ Patsy smiles. ‘I know, I know, I’m a bad friend’ Angelica confesses. Patsy assures Angelica that she didn’t come to rag on her, but tells her that the least she could have done is let her friends know she is alive. ‘I would’ve been sure you’d died in that awful bombing the other day if it wasn’t for that clobbering from Electro I saw you take on the nightly news’ Patsy smiles. ‘Uch. Don’t remind me…’ Angelica replies.
Patsy reminds her friend that she can tell when she is trying not to vent, and asks her what is going on. Angelica informs Patsy that, basically, the grown-up super folk are shutting them out of the hunt for the Bastards of Evil, so she and Gravity have been doing some of their own legwork. ‘So that’s who the other guy was? The news didn’t seem sure’ Patsy remarks, to which Angelica announces that she isn’t sure if she should keep doing this. ‘I mean, it’s the right thing to do, there’s no doubt about it…but every time I go out, I’m falling behind on my classes. That stresses me out, which just puts me further behind and…round and round it goes’. Patsy asks Angelica how she is feeling remission wise, and Angelica assures her that she is mostly okay, but that dealing with powers like Electro and his daughter, all the EM radiation she takes in - suddenly, her phone beeps. ‘What is it?’ Patsy asks. Angelica reads the email and reports that it is from Gravity, and he wants her to meet him, as it is urgent. ‘Well, better get going, then’ Patsy smiles.
Soon, people on a sidewalk stare up in awe as Firestar and Gravity fly above them. ‘First off, let me just - I feel really bad about barking at you. I’m sorry’ Gravity tells Firestar, who assures him that it is okay. Gravity points out that Electro was right - barring time travel or accelerated aging or something, there is no way he could have a teenager with his powers in the here and now. ‘Is that what you needed to see me about? Because -’ Firestar begins, but Gravity announces that the other three from Ground Zero - Arana and her friends - they tracked down one of the Bastards. ‘What? What happened?’ Firestar asks, intrigued. Gravity reports that he got away, but that Arana and her friends have leads that the two of them don’t have. ‘We have to reach them’ he urges Firestar. ‘Okay, so…not to be mean, but…why exactly do I need to be here right now? To give permission? If you need to contact them, then contact them’ Firestar declares, causing the unshaven Gravity to look at her, puzzled.
‘Thank you. Thank you so much’ Anya exclaims as she speaks to someone on her mobile phone. ‘And?’ Rikki asks. ‘Confirmed. This is her for sure’ Anya announces. ‘So we know who Aftershock is…’ Rikki begins, before they leave the internet café, and walking down the street, Rikki asks what they do with that information, as it is not going to help them find her or the other Bastards. ‘It’s something, Rikki. And any little fact can become the lynchpin of an investigation’ Anya points out. The girls are unaware that Benito is looking for them. He presses his face up to the glass of the internet café they have just left, not realizing that he has only just missed them.
‘It can get pretty lonely’ Mortar remarks as she reclines on a sofa in the Bastards of Evil’s run down hideout. ‘What can?’ Singularity asks as he sits back on a chair near her. ‘This body. This…formlessness. Anyone I touch, I don’t really touch ‘em. I don’t feel ‘em’ Mortar explains, adding that it creates a distance, like she is in purgatory. She strokes the sofa and declares that she loves the things that she can do - watching people recoil in horror because of her, watching them drown in her, knowing with every ounce of their souls that they are going to die. ‘The honesty in that last moment. Such a gift’ she remarks. Empty bottles and packets lie on the floor around them as Singularity asks Mortar if she ever wonders if her old man feels the same when he turns people to stone. ‘Ehh, never met the guy, so I guess I don’t really care one way or the other’ Mortar replies, before pointing out that Singularity knew his, and asks him if he has any memories. Singularity reveals that he was five, and his mom wanted his dad out of their lives, so she made it perfectly clear, and his dad didn’t even put up a fight. ‘I remember I was so angry with him. Why’d he give up so easily? Why didn’t he want to be with me anymore?’ Singularity slumps forward on his chair, ‘But then he said to me…’
‘Son. I know that, in your eyes, I’m leaving you… but the reality is, I’m giving you the chance I never had’ Graviton tells his young son on the steps of their brownstone. ‘You come from a long line of men of great strength. Men who stand for something and stick to their convictions’ Graviton adds as the young boy listens intently. Graviton declares that his son won’t be lorded over by the generation before, that he will have the opportunity to decide for himself who he is and what he stands for. ‘To find your own strength, in your own way’. Graviton then takes flight, while his young son looks up at him. ‘You represent the dawn of a great new era of strength. I know you won’t let me down’ Graviton calls back, and the little boy smiles.
Singularity declares that he can still smell the lilac from the trees. ‘Funny how that works’ he remarks. ‘Wow. Now that is one massive load of daddy dung’ a voice calls out. Singularity and Mortar turn to the doorway and see Aftershock standing there. ‘Excuse me?’ Singularity frowns, standing up. ‘He obviously fed you a line, Sing. I’m sure the truth was he didn’t wanna be saddled with a little rugrat anymore’ Aftershock tells him, but Singularity replies that Aftershock doesn’t know what she is talking about - why would she? They stare each other down, and Singularity asks Aftershock if she has even met her dad, adding that everything he has ever read about Max Dillon suggests that he is a perverse and pathetic tool of the highest order. Aftershock turns away from Singularity and informs he and Mortar that they are leaving here in five.
Back in Gravity’s dorm room, he sits at his laptop, going over the footage of Warhead’s suicide once more. ‘Dude. Hey, man…hey!’ Frog calls out, eventually pulling Greg’s earphones out. ‘GHAAH! You scared the living hell outta me! What do you want?’ Greg exclaims, standing up. ‘If you don’t turn that damn thing off, I’m gonna take an axe to it’ Frog exclaims. ‘What?’ Greg snaps. ‘I’m serious’ Frog tells him. Greg points at the laptop and tells Frog that he may not realize this, but people died that day - real, actual people. ‘Now, maybe you don’t care about that sort of thing unless it’s one of your video games, but -’ Greg begins, to which Frog interrupts, explaining that just because he doesn’t obsess over the footage to the point of inaction somehow, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t care. ‘Inaction? Are you saying I - if there was anything I could do, don’t you think I would do it?’ an enraged Greg shouts, clenching his fists.
‘Hey…Greg…’ Frog exclaims, backing away. ‘Crap. I’m losing it, aren’t I?’ Greg sits down on his bed, ‘If Gravity - if he’d just killed Warhead -’ Greg begins, but Frog tells his friend that the only one responsible for that dude’s actions is that dude - he made his own choice. ‘Super heroes don’t kill’ Frog adds. Frog puts a hand on Greg’s back and tells him that he can’t keep watching that stuff. ‘I did it with 9/11 and it did not lead to anything productive’ he remarks, adding that if Greg really wants to make a difference, he could donate money or his time. ‘You could…oh! That’ Spider-Girl - Arana - whatever she is now. She’s been all over the net looking for help tracking these Bastard guys down’ Frog announces, suggesting that there might be a small way Greg can help her out.
Meanwhile, Firestar flies through the city, ‘Am I really so far removed from my own teen years that I dismissed those girls as potential resources? I feel like a complete jerk’ she tells herself. ‘Join the club’ Gravity declares as he flies alongside Firestar. ‘Here I am e-mailing with you this whole time and it never even occurs to me to reach out to them on the web - especially after their run-in with Ember’ he points out. Firestar tells Gravity that they are in touch wit them now, and that is what matters. ‘This is here you said we’d meet?’ she asks as they drop down onto a rooftop. ‘Yeah’ Gravity replies, looking out to the force field surrounding Ground Zero. ‘Figured it was appropriate’ he remarks.
‘What’d he say?’ Rikki, dressed in costume as Nomad, asks as she and Anya, dressed as Arana, leap across some rooftops. ‘Gravity? That he has some special insight on the Bastards that he wanted to share’ Arana responds. ‘And we know this e-mail’s really from him because…?’ Nomad asks. ‘He had details about the fight downtown’ Arana informs her. ‘The fight. Which was recorded and broadcast all over the internet’ Nomad reminds her friend, reminding Arana how Professor Power lured them right into a trap wherein she was poisoned and almost died. ‘So we’ll scout a little first. Make sure it’s for real, okay?’ Arana replies, swinging off again after they stop on a rooftop, Arana calls back ‘Let’s go, Gramma Nomad. Don’t wanna be late!’
‘So… they’re late?’ Firestar asks as she and Gravity sit near each other on a rooftop edge. ‘They’re late’ Gravity confirms. Firestar asks him when he told the others they would meet. ‘Half an hour ago’ Gravity replies. He wonders if Arana hasn’t got the message yet, as it is not like she emailed back or anything. ‘Wait. You dragged me out here when we don’t even know for sure they they’re showing up?’ Firestar exclaims, annoyed. ‘They want the Bastards as badly as we do, Firestar. They’ll be here’ Gravity replies.
‘Okay, so, where are they?’ Nomad asks as she and Arana stand on a rooftop and look around. ‘Are you sure you got the time and place right?’ she asks. Arana replies that she is positive, and that she even e-mailed him back to confirm and he said “You got it, doll. See you then”. ‘Doll?’ Nomad asks. Suddenly, ‘Hey there, doll’ a voice calls out, and Arana and Nomad turn around, their jaws drop, as standing before them are Mortar, Singularity, Ember and Aftershock, who asks ‘You all wanna party?’