A sparse cell, part of Project Troubleshooter (the latest off-the-books facility for the production of human weapons):
A man, Corporal Ziller, sits chained inside the cell. Upstairs in the observation booth, a nervous scientist calls down to Corporal Ziller that they are ready to proceed if he is. The general next to him, General Robert L. Maverick (whom even Thunderbolt Ross thinks is heavy-handed), informs the scientist that Todd Ziller is a man of few words. He suggests he get on with it.
The scientist – Varghese - nervously asks whether Ziller understands the risk. Maverick reminds Varghese that he said this was their best shot at recreating the super-soldier serum. To this, Varghese points out that they only had a best guess at the original Erskine Formula. And they are plugging the gaps in their knowledge with dozens of other transformative sciences. Gamma Enhancement, Mutant Growth Hormone, Pym Particles. Even the Connors Formula, for Pete’s sake! Lizard Serum! It’s a devil’s brew. If they missed something…
Maverick is unimpressed. He ever read that chain email that made the rounds? Or maybe he saw it on Facebook? Story goes there’s this atheist college professor and, during a lecture, he dares God to smite him down. Gives the man upstairs fifteen minutes. And when the time is almost up, one man stands up and punches the creep with one blow.
Varghese continues, because God is too busy keeping America free, right? He thinks his aunt forwarded him this once. What does this have to do with— Wait, is he telling him Ziller was — Maverick orders him to throw the switch. Whatever happens, the man can take it.
Varghese obeys. Ziller is bathed in rays and begins to transform into a reptile-like being. Varghese gives the order to abort and apologizes. What is he whining about? Maverick asks. This is just about perfect.
The rec room:
Rick Jones is disgusted when he looks at a game console that bears his name. Did he honestly sign off on this? Was he floating upside down in the Negative Zone at the time?
Power Man remarks that, if someone made a video game of him, he’d be grateful. Rick decides that AIM probably made this as a nefarious scheme, right?
Victor Alvarez continues that if someone rescued him from a SHIELD battle-carrier, he’d be grateful too. Still waiting for that thanks…
They’ll get a thank-you card when he’s out of here, Rick snaps. When he’s not surrounded by a gazillion AIM goons.
They are joined by Robert DaCosta, who informs Rick his people found his back-up arms cache he left in that Toronto locker and hands him a bag. Awesome, Rick remarks. Not quite as awesome as the toys Coulson’s people took, but a shield’s a shield, right? He takes one out. What was that about “goons?” Victor presses. ‘Cause these goons just went to Canada to get his stuff. Vic! Roberto warns him. He makes a good point, Rick admits. He’d better check that nothing is missing… Is he kidding them? Vic jumps up. Roberto reminds him Rick is a guest. Exactly, Victor seethes, they save him, take him in, put him up, let him play their video games. Their terrible video games, Rick interrupts as he dons a Thing glove. Their retro video games, Victor stresses. And all the time he looks at them like they just built a death ray on his front lawn! They’d never build one on the lawn, Roberto assures Rick. They’re not monsters.
Rick admits he has trust issues right now. SHIELD suddenly has crazy Cosmic Cube schemes and AIM say they’re the good guys. So excuse him for waiting for the other shoe to drop.
A member of AIM mission control informs Roberto it’s the other shoe. Three choppers five klicks and closing in. Not SHIELD but US military.
Max Brashear figures they’d have heard from SHIELD first. Roberto points out they are a rogue nation of mad scientists with no serious allies who just performed an illegal operation on US soil. They are Uncle Sam’s easy win. Not with only three choppers, Dr. Toni Ho remarks.
But the scientists notice there is something else, something big moving in under the water.
Roberto admits they are thinking like he does and gives the order to prep Avenger Five. Toni asks if they have a large enough field team to operate it. It needs a crew of six. Roberto tells her they’ve got him, Max and her. An Avenger, a registered Avenger-level bad guy and the heir of the great Ho Yinsen! Annoyed, Toni asks what her dad has to do with it. Were her three doctorates passed on genetically? Roberto apologizes. The point is she and Max know the vehicle inside out. They are field team enough. And, while they are it, it’s time to mobilize Avenger Two. The one nobody’s allowed to talk about. Enemy three klicks in, they are told.
On one of the choppers, a nervous soldier asks General Maverick if there isn’t a more conventional way to do this. Maybe, he is told, but AIM are the ones who started this. They think that unauthorized super-science is fun. Well guess what – they are right! He presses a button and a giant dinosaur painted in US colors emerges from water shouting “USA - the American Kaiju”
Juu—Ess-Aay! the former Corporal Ziller hisses again as he attacks AIM’s underwater base.
Was that an earthquake? Power Man asks nervously. As Ava Ayala (the now powerless White Tiger) joins them, Victor tells her they need to talk. She brushes him off. He begins to babble that he never wanted her to lose her powers but she did and she is acting like nothing has changed. She tried to fight a Deathlok! She snaps she is not going to stop working. Powers or no powers, she is still the White Tiger! Whether he can handle it or not. Jerk! she adds as she follows the others downward.
Toni welcomes them to Engineering’s special section for the serious projects. A tesseract space, meaning they can build as large as they want without arousing suspicion. Look up! Rick Jones swears. That’s Avenger Five? he asks as he looks at the giant robot. Then adds “Shotgun.” Still think they are the bad guys? Roberto grins. Well, if they are, they are bad guys with good giant robots, Rick admits. Toni warns him not to get excited. The suit is not calibrated for him. It’s based on AIM’s original Quintronic Man design, a multi-user gestalt exoskeleton. It needs five minds connected in parallel to run the thing, with Pod acting as linking system and power source. Toni warns Pod it will be strange. They will all be in with her.
Roberto waves to the AIM members, assuring them their fearless leader has got to fight for advanced ideas everywhere. Rick complains about not being able to join the robot and Roberto suggests he help with the evacuation.
Outside, Hawkeye is helping said evacuation, even though he has to ask Songbird whether he is pointing people in the right direction. (He is). She surprises him when she asks if he wants to return to SHIELD.