A week after the Silver Storm, our heroes are still trying to put the pieces together. Yellow Brick Row is a disaster area filled with rubble and a shrine to the lost. Over a dozen people are dead in the wake of the explosion, and a dozen more missing, not to count the many injured and crippled. The Stormers (as dubbed by the media) are still in custody, with the exception of Lord Etheric, who made good his escape from a paddywagon during transport.
Chelsea Lincoln, aka Death Magnetic, asks to meet with the heroes, wanting to thank them for keeping her from harming anyone during her rampage. She claims to have no memory of the incident, but Agent Bonham confides in Patrick that her bio-scans indicate that she is still altered on some fundamental level. He fears that without the drugs, her supervillain personality would reassert itself. Agent Bonham also asks if the heroes will help with the investigation of the explosion, since the technology used is so far beyond that used by AEGIS that they’re having trouble analyzing it.
The heroes are happy to help, and are escorted to a makeshift AEGIS lab where the evidence has been sequestered. Captain Relativity and Zipline investigate the technology used, while Whett Knife tries to understand the fundamental principles behind it. Patrick begins looking over interviews with the survivors, hoping to understand the psychological changes wrought by the Storm, and Dino-Wizard begins to study the methodology of the attacks, seeking the goals of the attacker. Finally, Princess Shar provides an outside angle, attempting to piece together whether or not the technology is of earthly or extraterrestrial origin.
The results leave the group chilled. More and more, the Silver Storm looks less like an attack and more like a field test of a highly dangerous mutagenic technology of alien origin. Even many of the survivors seem to have nanites left in their bloodstreams, waiting to activate and turn them into new Stormers at the figurative push of a button. Emerald City is full of super-powered sleeper agents, waiting to activate. Shar is even more unnerved, since the nanotechnology used in the attack strongly resembles things her people have seen on other worlds—dead worlds, mostly.
Zipline realizes he’s late for class and hurries off, running into Jessica Prentiss as he stumbles in. She’s clearly happy to see him alive, but back at the lab, Patrick is still suspicious of the girl. While AEGIS’ background check didn’t pull up anything unusual, the fact that she lied to him on the day of the Silver Storm makes him nervous. He gets permission from Agent Bonham to directly question her and takes along a hand-held DNA scanner to take samples. His interview turns into an impromptu autograph session when people recognize him, and Jessica is left terribly embarrassed by her friends’ suggestion that she’s dating an MMA fighter.
Captain Relativity begins working with the primitive AEGIS computers in an attempt to uncover the truth behind “Redshift Energies,” the company that supposedly owned the panel truck used in the attack. Between his skill with technology and Dino-Wizard using mystic hypnosis to help him better recall the events of the attack, they manage to come up with a short list of corporations that could be holding companies for Redshift. After some basic deduction, they decide to start their investigation at MarsTech, a local technology conglomerate.
At MarsTech’s headquarters, Dino-Wizard uses his magic to slip off from the others to investigate the building undetected. The remaining heroes are surprised when the building’s operator, Sebastian Woolsey, informs them that he’s been instructed to take them directly to the company’s CEO, Maximillian Mars, whenever they arrive. Dino-Wizard infiltrates a secret lab beneath the building, where he discovers scientists working on what looks like a suit of highly advanced power armor—and Silver Storm nanites.
Upon being escorted to Mars’ office, the heroes are struck by his affable nature as well as by his grandiose gestures. Their conversation is rudely interrupted by four costumed villains teleporting in, demanding to speak with Mars. When they notice the heroes in his office, they seem quite put out by it and leap to the attack. The heroes can’t help but notice that Mars is… somewhat familiar with their foes.
The super-brawl rapidly begins tearing apart Mars’ lovely office, especially when Gargantua assumes his gigantic size and punches Patrick. The kinetic backlash cracks the floor and surrounding beams, making the whole place genuinely unstable. Cyberknight uses her plasma lance to pin Patrick with its netcaster, while Cannon takes aim at Zipline and nearly takes him out in one shot. Tempus, the Master of Time, confronts Captain Relativity, claiming that “this time” he will destroy the Captain for certain; as far as the Captain knows, they’ve never met before, but that doesn’t stop Tempus from aging him into a decrepit old man.
The heroes regain the momentum when Shar powerbombs Cyberknight out the window and thirty stories into the pavement below. Captain Relativity forces space to twist around Gargantua, making him return to normal size to escape the effect. Zipline takes out Tempus with a well-placed grappling shot, then uses his skyhook to free Patrick from captivity. Patrick tries to do a takedown on Cannon, only to discover the man is capable of short-distance teleports. Fortunately, the bionic soldier is short-tempered enough that Patrick’s subsequent taunting is enough to make him charge the hero headlong—only to go off the edge of the building.
With only Gargantua left in the fight, the brute resumes his enormous size—but the building can’t take anymore and begins to crumble around him! Captain Relativity abandons the fight to hold the building together, while Zipline entangles their huge foe with his skyhook. Patrick and Shar beat the brute savagely, and Whett Knife takes the knockout blow with his power chords.
Mars thanks the heroes for their intervention, then demonstrates the power at his disposal by letting the building begin to heal itself. The technology is highly advanced, and Mars asks if the heroes intend to arrest him—or if they’ll give him the chance to present his side of things. Just as the heroes begin to demonstrate that they’re more reasonable than most people, the windows blow in again to reveal a hovering Pegasus jet. From the open hangar appear the heroes of the world-famous Freedom League!
Doctor Metropolis, the Bowman, Johnny Rocket, Seven, and the Raven have come to talk to Mars, but thanks to the damage to the building, the presence of super-powered “help,” and some reasons of their own, the League doesn’t seem inclined to give Mars the benefit of the doubt. When Doctor Metropolis puts a hand to his head and screams “Get out of my mind!” the League leaps to the defense of their teammate.
Their target: our heroes! A clash of champions begins next issue!