‘Your life is a lie’ Singularity of the Bastards of Evil remarks as he crouches down next to two young heroines with sacks over their heads. A blinding camera light behind him. ‘I know you think you’re so noble and brave and right, but you’re deluding yourself. On the bright side, however… you won’t have to live too much longer’ he tells the girls - Anya Corazon a.k.a. Arana and Rikki Barnes a.k.a. Nomad.
‘Singularity, that’s enough’ a voice orders. Singularity smirks and replies that he is just getting the girls in the mood. ‘Whatever, just get outta the damn shot’ Aftershock declares. Singularity stands up alongside his teammates Ember and Mortar. ‘We’re really doing it’ Ember exclaims. ‘A master of the obvious, per usual’ Singularity mutters, while Mortar clenches her fists and tells her teammates to forget about Ground Zero - this will be epic. Aftershock tells the others to kill the chatter and put their games faces on, as they are live in five.
Elsewhere, a large man is sitting on his sofa, potato chips in his lap and a soda to one side. “It’s not just a shoehorn - it’s a shoehorn on a -” someone on the television remarks, before the channel cancels out. ‘HEY!’ the man exclaims, throwing his hands into the air. A family sitting at their kitchen table turn to their television, as a voice declares that Ground Zero was supposed to come to stand for defiance in the face of nihilism. Patrons at a bar look at the television as the voice continues: ‘But instead, you people - you adults - you just let it collect dust and be forgotten’. Electro smirks as he watches the television, the voice saying ‘How pathetic. How very much like you’. A woman looks at her screen in horror as the voice on the screen adds ‘Some old crack whore once sang, “I believe the children are our future”’. And as Frog looks up from his phone in his dorm room, the voice adds ‘Well, we couldn’t agree more with that sentiment’.
Franklin and Valeria Richards watch a monitor as the voice states that children are the future. ‘Your children are the future’ they add. A man sitting in front of his television gaming drops his jaw as the voice continues over all monitors and televisions: ‘And believe us, they will reject your lethargy, your stifling bureaucracy, your hypocritical morality’. People in a cyber café gather around one computer as the voice adds that some are already doing it. ’We’re just here to give the rest of ’em a nudge in the right direction’.
J Jonah Jameson stands up in his office, and looks at the monitor, unimpressed as the voice continues: ‘To let them know it’s not only okay to despite a world of parents and authority figures who refuse to listen… but that it’s what’s right’.
On a busy street, Benito Serrao looks up, along with everyone him, at the large monitors usually reserved for advertisements, as the voice remarks ‘But some of us are so thoroughly brainwashed into your way of thinking that they may as well be you. For those peers, we bastards of evil have prepared a demonstration’. Angelica “Firestar” Jones and Greg “Gravity” Willis hover in the air nearby, ‘My God’ Firestar utters. ‘If you aren’t with us…you’re history!’ Aftershock warns the captive audience as she concludes her speech. Her teammates stand behind her, while Arana and Nomad are still captured, sacks of their heads. All this is seen on every large monitor in the middle of the city.
‘In just a moment, you’ll meet these two teen Judases…’ Aftershock begins, as Benny looks up in the air, he sees Firestar and Gravity. ‘HEY!’ he shouts out to them, but they don’t acknowledge him. Gravity follows Firestar and asks her where they are going. ‘To find them’ Firestar replies. ‘Yeah, but we don’t even know where to start, so I don’t see…’ Gravity begins, before Benny, transformed into Toro, leaps up between them. ‘HEY!’ he shouts even louder, landing on a nearby rooftop, the impact cracking the roof. Firestar and Gravity drop down on the rooftop, as Benny speaks to them in his native tongue. ‘Tell me you understood that, Gravity’ Firestar asks. ‘I took German’ Gravity responds.
At the undisclosed location, Singularity removes the sacks over the young heroines’ faces. ‘Nomad and Spider-Girl. These two actually deluded themselves into believing they were duty bound to shove a bunch of archaic mores down our collective throats. Obviously, they failed’. Aftershock declares, as the cameras and lights shine on them.
Back on the rooftop, ‘You and us - together. Si, Toro?’ Gravity asks, clasping his hands together. ‘Si, yes’ Toro replies. ‘Excellent. Cool’ Gravity declares, before asking Toro if he knows where Nomad and Arana are being held. Toro hangs his head as if to say he doesn’t. Firestar tells Gravity that it is okay, that they just need to quickly piece together their options, when suddenly, Gravity’s phone makes a noise. ’What is it?’ Firestar enquires. Gravity reports that it is a vid mail from Mister Fantastic.
Aftershock fires an energy blast that rips off the tape across Arana’s mouth. ‘Last words, Spider-Girl. Make ‘em count’ she declares. ‘The name is Arana. And your little speech forgot to account for one minor detail’ Arana replies. ‘Oh, okay, this should be good -’ Aftershock smirks, arms folded, as Arana exclaims ‘Danielle Blunt’. ‘That supposed to mean something?’ Aftershock asks. ‘It’s your name’ Arana tells her, before announcing that Aftershock was born and raised in Cortez, Colorado and that her parents Al and Maggie reported her missing seven months ago. ‘You have two younger brothers who say they miss you and -’
Arana is interrupted as Aftershock shouts’ Pathetic’ and prepares to fire a blast of energy at her. ‘We have proof! Pictures and police reports on a flash drive in Nomad’s right pouch -’ Arana calls out. ‘Which is booby trapped, right? Nice try, but you’re still gonna die, you little -’ Aftershock begins, but before she can release the energy, Singularity tells her to hold it.
A video of Mister Fantastic on Gravity’s phone greets Gravity, and tells him that he is absent from their brane of existence at the moment, otherwise he would have taken the time to speak in person, but he thought Gravity might like to know the results of his autopsy of the purported son of Radioactive Man. Mister Fantastic reports that, to begin with, this young man’s genetic markers are not at all consistent with what they have on file for Chen Lu, and what’s more, his state of radioactive decay reveals he had been initially bombarded with neutron rays approximately six months ago. ‘Simply put, this boy was never who he claimed to be, and has not been superhuman for long’ Mister Fantastic concludes by telling Gravity that he hopes this message finds him well. After listening intently, Firestar asks ‘Wait, so…’ to which Gravity wonders if Warhead was given his powers, and maybe he was manipulated into killing? Toro looks on, equally confused.
‘Here. Just like she said’ Mortar announces as she pulls the flash drive from Nomad’s pouch and tosses it to Singularity. Ember looks on, while Aftershock stands nearby. A banner with “FAIL” painted on it is hung behind Arana and Nomad. Singularity thanks Mortar, but Aftershock tells him that he has to be kidding, as they are live online and in New York. ‘And you’re really gonna - what the hell?’ she mutters. While Nomad tries to break her hands free from the restraint she is tied with, Aftershock looks at the flash drive documents and asks ‘What am I even looking at here?’ she declares that this is ridiculous as she was raised in institutions. ‘And I’ve never met those - this - this’ all fake!’ she exclaims.
Gravity throws his hands into the air and tells Firestar and Toro that they don’t have anything to help them find Nomad and Arana. He adds that if they don’t do something, the girls will die. ‘We should go to the Avengers right now and -’ he begins, but Firestar points out that the whole city is watching that broadcast. ‘I guarantee you they’re well aware of -’ Firestar begins, before going wide-eyed. ‘The broadcast!’ she exclaims. ‘What?’ Gravity asks her. ‘The whole city’s watching!’ Firestar shouts as she takes flight. ‘Que?’ Toro asks, confused. ‘Yeah, dude, exactly’ Gravity tells him.
‘Are you two seeing this? She isn’t Electro’s daughter at all’ Singularity declares as he holds the flash drive, showing a picture of a young Aftershock with her father at an amusement park, to Mortar and Ember. ‘She’s a phony?’ one of the others asks. ‘A middle-class daddy’s girl who once got busted for stealing perfume’ Singularity replies, asking the others if they are really going to allow her to be the one ordering the rest of them around. ‘I get it now. It was you, wasn’t it?’ Aftershock asks. ‘This was me what?’ Singularity replies. Aftershock lunges towards him and tells hi that he will stoop to anything to get what he wants - even photo-shopping this crap and handing it off to the enemy. ‘But the joke’s on you, Sing, ‘cause the Superior’s on his way and when he finds out what you’ve -’ Aftershock declares, before Singularity smacks her in the face, knocking her over. ‘Now listen up, “Danielle” - until we know for sure what’s what, I’m running things’ Aftershock announces, turning to Ember and Mortar, he asks if anyone has a problem with that. Neither of them responds.
Suddenly, one of the devices Arana uses to throw her webbing strikes Singularity. ‘Nice escape work, partner’ Arana exclaims as she pulls back the spider-shaped device. ‘Less thanking, more fleeing!’ Nomad replies as she tosses two discs towards Mortar and Ember. The discs make a humming noise, before releasing a blinding light. Nomad and Arana run, ‘We gotta get outta here, Anya. Gotta call the Avengers or -’ Nomad begins, to which Arana asks her since when could her discs do that? ‘Since always. Now could we please focus on getting our butts -’ Nomad begins, before she and Arana are flung into the air by Singularity who uses his control over gravity to raise them up. ‘Your butts are going nowhere’ Singularity exclaims. Ember goes up to his teammate and smiles, before calling the girls something offensive and suggesting to Singularity that he put them on a spit, ‘I’m gonna roast ‘em’ Ember exclaims, licking his lips.
But as Ember attempts to release some fire towards the girls, he is confused, as nothing happens. ‘Yeah, well, see…it’s not so easy to gun the engine when the gas is siphoned out’ Firestar declares as she appears overhead, absorbing Ember’s energy. ‘You!’ Mortar gasps/ ‘And me!’ Gravity exclaims as he drops down, right on top of Singularity, slamming him to the floor. ‘Oh, gracias…’ Arana remarks as she and Nomad fall to the ground. ‘You guys good?’ Gravity asks them, while Nomad enquires as to how they found them. Gravity explains that it turns out this little pirate transmission needed a bandwidth signature big enough that Firestar could detect it. ‘Speaking of, I gotta go help her out!’ he adds as he sees Firestar flying nearby, with Aftershock going towards her. Mortar appears around Nomad and Arana like a waterfall, ‘Uh-oh, with the big guns all busy, who’s gonna help you?’ she asks them, before Toro bursts through her extended form, ‘GNAAAGH!’ Mortar screams as she is torn apart.
‘Nice one, Toro!’ Arana exclaims. ‘We win now, okay?’ Toro replies. ‘Works for me…’ Arana tells him. Singularity gets to his feet and rubs his head, ‘Gravity. I swear by all that’s holy to me…’ he begins, before Toro comes up behind him, ‘Quiet’ he tells him, slamming him across the room, into a wall, while Arana and Nomad attack Ember. ‘Hey, Aftershock…Firestar and I had quite the interesting talk with Electro. Anna hear what he had to say?’ Gravity asks Aftershock, jumping to dodge her electricity-charged punch as she lunges for him. ‘You need to shut the hell up!’ Aftershock shrieks. Gravity dodges her again and tells her that it is true, and asks her if she knew he hasn’t had his powers long enough to have sired her? ‘That’s not true. You’re all just trying to confuse me!’ Aftershock declares. ‘Yeah, like you need us for -’ Gravity begins, before Aftershock strikes him in the chest and tells him to ‘Shut your hole’.
‘And that’s for calling us the b-word!’ Nomad exclaims, referring to the comment Ember made earlier, as she punches him in the face, knocking him out. ‘Nice punch’ Arana tells her friend. ‘Thanks, but we’re hardly out of the -’ Nomad starts to reply, before Toro is blasted backwards between them, but Aftershock, who releases her electrical energy in a fury, shouting that she knows who she is: ‘I am Aftershock, the daughter of Electro - and you’re all dead!’ With that, she releases an even larger blast of energy. Firestar and Gravity raise shields around themselves to deflect the energy, while Nomad uses her photon shield to do the same. ‘What are you doing? You’ve killed the feed! Keep this up and you’ll destroy us all -’ Singularity tells Aftershock, grabbing her by the shoulder, before she passes through him in a purely electrical form, causing Singularity to drop to the ground. ‘Is that it? Am I the only one left standing?’ Aftershock asks.
‘Well I’m not standing, technically…maybe you could make an exception, though? For me?’ Arana calls out, upside down from where she clings to some debris nearby. ‘GRAAAA-’ Aftershock screams as she flies in her electrical form towards Arana. ‘Didn’t think so’ Arana smirks, holding a fire hose in hand, before electrical energy surges from the building into the city around it, before vanishing. A caution “condemned building” sign can be seen on the fence surrounding the building. Back inside, Nomad rises, ‘Is it…is it over?’ she asks. The other young heroes get to their feet also, and Gravity remarks that he will have a special kind of headache tomorrow, while Firestar asks what happened and whether everyone is accounted for. ‘All we’re missing is Aftershock and -’ Nomad begins. ‘Oh, God. Arana’. She goes wide-eyed.
But Arana suddenly drops down from above: ‘I’m here! I’m fine. I’m good’ she tells her friend, adding that lucky for them, there was a working emergency fire hose, and jokes that Aftershock will kick your butt but good, until it starts raining real hard. Nomad jokingly elbows Arana and tells her that she took down arguably the toughest one of them. ‘Yeah. Right. Who needs powers, huh?’ Arana smiles. ‘Certainly not you, Venomette’ Nomad declares. ‘Don’t you even start’ Arana tells her friend, before turning to the others and asking ‘So…where’s the cavalry?’ Gravity starts to explain that there wasn’t time, while Arana asks ‘It was just you guys? For real? Wow’. Gravity and the others stand over the unconscious members of the Bastards of Evil and announces that it looks like “just us guys” were enough, though.
Nomad goes over to Toro, ‘Thank you, Benny. Sorry - Benito. Toro’ she tells him. ‘Benny’ Toro smiles back. ‘Benny’ Nomad replies, while Arana informs Firestar that they found out Aftershock was a fake. ‘Yeah, Warhead, too’ Firestar reveals, before remarking that she thinks they were all manufactured, maybe even brainwashed. ‘But as for why, or by whom -’ Firestar starts, before Nomad reminds Arana that they said something to her, something about the Bastards’ leader coming - suddenly, Nomad’s eyes roll back and she stops moving. ‘Hey, what’s wrong?’ Arana calls out. ‘Nomad? Nomad!’ Firestar exclaims as Nomad is flung across the room, straight into a wall, which cracks upon impact. A voice from above calls down to the young heroes: ‘She called me “The Leader”. That would be apt, though incorrect. That was my father’s nom de guerre’. A short green-skinned young man in an orange costume drops down from above, and declares ‘You may refer to me as the Superior!’