RESCUE INC. TOWER – MANHATTAN, NEW YORK

James and Monica Miles sat at the end of a long table where Ken Mack, Hallie Takahama, Jennifer Takeda, Benito Serrano, and Ava Ayala were also sitting. At the other end sat the team’s new advisors Hannah Shade and Ethan Townsend. None of the heroes were in their costumes, aside from Jennifer who was incapable of being around others without it. Everyone seemed to be at a loss for what to say.

“I…” Hallie couldn’t believe what she just heard. “What?”

“You heard it right,” said James. “Rikki has left the team.”

“How can she just leave?” Hallie followed up. “She founded the Young Allies. The team will never be the same if she isn’t part of it.”

“We understand how you feel,” Monica stepped in. “You and Toro have been with her for the longest. The team definitely will never feel the same. Unfortunately, Rikki is in a bad place right now. The only way for her to bounce back from it is to go out and rediscover herself. With that said she’s given us her blessing to continue as the Young Allies without her.”

“Should we continue?” asked Ken. “Being in the Young Allies hasn’t been what I expected it to be.”

James stood up from his seat. “I know we’ve had a rocky start as a team. We were kinda forged out of necessity when we were faced with the threat from the Sisterhood of the Wasp. Then shit hit the fan when the Bastards of Evil and the World Party joined forces. But that’s all behind us now. It’s a new day and we’re gonna make the best of it.”

“I don’t know man,” Ken appeared very unsure.

There was a moment where no one said anything. It was kind of an uncomfortable silence. It was finally ended by the appearance of a blue hologram that materialized out of nowhere scaring Hannah enough to make her jump out of her seat. The team was surprised to see what looked like Araña, only this one was male. He pulled back his hood and then his goggles up.

“Lucas?” questioned Hallie.

“Hey, so I just found this device you guys gave Anya,” he said. “It’s been in a bag of hers beeping in my bedroom for a full day, driving my mom nuts. I’m not sure what’s going on with you guys but now’s not a good time.”

“Why are you wearing Anya’s costume?” asked Monica. “And where is she?”

“She’s gone,” he explained. “I don’t know where. Her powers were transferred to me. Her father…passed away and she ran off. Some old enemies of ours took this as an opportunity to attack her at her weakest. I don’t know what you needed her for but you’re gonna have to do without.”


LIFE ON THE OTHER SIDE

Written by:
JUSTIN SANTOS


GREEN-WOOD CEMETERY – BROOKLYN, NEW YORK

Everyone came to pay their respects at the funeral of Gilberto Corazon. There was quite a turnout. All friends and family showed up, except the most important Anya. At the end of the service, Hallie walked up to Lucas who stood at the grave. She placed a hand on his shoulder.

“I…,” He was left speechless after watching the spirit of Anya’s mother who appeared to guide her husband to the afterlife.

“Lucas, I’m so sorry,” Hallie said. “Is there anything I can do?”

“No, I appreciate you guys coming,” he replied. “Thank you.”

“Look, Ken couldn’t make it,” she told him. “He wanted me to pass along his respects. He’s going back to see his family in Hawaii. I think when Singularity used him to level that building it affected him hard. He did his best to help clean up the scene but it wasn’t good enough to fix the emotional damage to himself. I’m actually thinking of taking a break from the Allies as well. Might go look up the Thunderbolts, see what they’re up to.”

Most of the Young Allies left the funeral. James and Monica stuck around to talk to Lucas.

“So what’s next for the Young Allies?” asked Lucas.

“We’re gonna keep moving forward,” replied James. “You’re welcome to join us. But I know you’ll be too busy trying to find Anya. If you need us to help with that, let us know. I mean it.”

“Also, if you ever come across Rikki,” Monica added. “Can you let us know how she’s doing? We’re really worried about her.”

“Yeah, no problem.” Lucas nodded before shaking both their hands.


THE NEXT DAY – MANHATTAN, NEW YORK

James Miles walked passed several tables with his sister Monica. They were in a fancy restaurant that was many stories above street level. After figuring out where they needed to go, they approached a table that Hannah Shade and Ethan Townsend were waiting. Hannah lowered her menu to show that the redhead was a bit annoyed.

“Late as always,” she said looking at James.

“Why are you looking at me?” James prepared to defend himself. “Monica is just as late as I am?”

Hannah didn’t accept his counter-argument. In her opinion, it was kind of weak. The Miles siblings took a seat at the table across from them.

“Please, you’re probably the reason she’s late,” Hannah countered. “You said you wanted us to take this seriously. How can we do that if you’re constantly late?”

“There’s no point in arguing, you know she’s right,” followed Ethan. “You want to purchase that building so you can separate Rescue Inc. from the Young Allies’ base of operations. You’re not gonna get that accomplished if you’re solely focused on playing superhero.”

James looked away out the restaurant’s window wishing he were somewhere off saving the day. The table behind him had an open seat, allowing him to see the newspaper that sat on the table. The headline caught his attention.

“I wonder what happened to the original Araña,” said a young woman with long jet black hair who sat in the neighboring seat. “I mean I met her once and that is clearly a guy swinging out there.”

“You met Araña?” asked James.

“Yeah, back when she fought that archer Trickshot,” answered the woman before checking out James. “Kate Bishop, by the way.”

“James…Miles…” He found himself stuck staring into her bright blue eyes.

“I think he found something he likes other than superheroing,” whispered Ethan to Hannah playfully.

Both James and Kate went back to talking to their parties. When their lunch meeting was done, James proceeded to walk near the bar so he could get to the exit. Waiting at the bar was Kate with a drink in hand.

“So superhero, care for a drink?” she asked.

“Wait, how…?” he became flustered. “Are you even old enough to be drinking?”

“I’m twenty-one, Jimmy,” she claimed noticing he was nervous. “You? Hmm… You should probably tell your friend that the word superhero is taboo while out in public.”

“Yeah, we’re gonna have to work on that.” He took note to remind himself later. “I’m twenty-one as well. What are we drinking?”


FORT GREENE PARK – BROOKLYN, NEW YORK

Rikki Barnes was visiting the local park in the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn. This is where she was told Anya Corazon was last seen. Although they had their differences, she felt the need to come investigate the area.

THWIP!

The male Araña landed on the monument that Rikki stood under. He looked around before flipping down and magically changing out of costume. Now as Lucas Garcia, he looked at Rikki a bit confused about why she was here.

“I was under the impression you hated us insect people,” he said looking at the monument. “Wasn’t that right, Red?”

“I had a feeling it was you behind the goggles,” she stated, ignoring what he said.

“Hmph.” He turned slightly to her. “Do you actually care about other people? I mean that’s gotta be why you’re here, right? From what I heard from Mettle you isolated yourself from the Young Allies. I know why he left but that probably added to his decision to split.”

“Hallie left too,” she said. “She said something about searching for her old teammates, the Thunderbolts. I don’t really blame them. Even Anya. With what happened I don’t deserve to be a leader of that team.”

“You were brainwashed,” he countered. “There wasn’t anything you could do.”

“That’s no excuse!” she yelled furious with herself. “I should have fought it. But no I was too weak. I let my brother do that to me.”

Lucas wasn’t sure what else to say to get her off this negativity. He was dealing with his own problems with Anya missing. He tried to think of the things his family had said to him since this had happened. All he could do was put a hand on her shoulder.

“I’m sorry for the way I treated you guys.” She nodded to tell him it was okay to remove his hand. “I wish I thanked Anya for what she did. Now she’s gone. Do you have any idea of what happened?”

“Not fully,” he replied. “But it was enough to cast out her Spider Hunter. It came to me in hopes of helping Anya but there’s no trail leading to her.”

“I see,” she appeared genuinely upset. “Lucas, if there’s anything I can do to help let me know. It’s probably too late to do anything. Either way, I owe Anya for breaking me from my brother’s control. I’ll do anything to help her.”


CENTRAL PARK – MANHATTAN, NEW YORK

Later in the evening, Kate Bishop was now standing near some trees in the park dressed in a purple jumpsuit with one sleeve and several black straps wrapped around her, including ones that held a quiver on her back. After some waiting, she would be joined by the American Panther.

“Hmm, I was wondering if you were gonna show up,” she said lifting her purple shades to inspect his costume.

“Sorry, my sister had some last-minute things she needed to run past me,” he explained. “So who are you supposed to be, ‘Hawkeye Fangirl’?”

“Yeah, no,” she stated. “I haven’t settled on a codename yet.”

“Purple Archer not good enough?” he asked only to get a no with the turn of her head. “What about Quiver? Arrow, no I believe that’s taken.”

“You’re such a dork,” she laughed.

“If we’re really doing this you can’t go out without a codename,” he insisted. “How about Mockingbird? It was what Hawkeye’s deceased wife used to go by. Nobody’s using it right now. I’m sure she’d be honored by you taking up the name.”

“I don’t know.” She dropped her glasses back down. “I feel kinda weird taking a dead woman’s name.”

“Well, you can’t go running around using your real name.” He put a hand to his chin as if he was thinking hard. “I guess we’ll just have to play it by ear. Come on, I brought us a way to ride around the city. I hope you know how to ride.”

The American Panther guided her to a pair of motorcycles. Kate was impressed. She hopped on one to get a feel for it.

“Oh, I can ride all right,” she said. “I just hope you can keep up with me.”

The Panther jumped on the other motorcycle and turned on its engine. Together, they drove off in search of some action.


MEANWHILE…

Rikki walked down a sidewalk with a powered down Toro, who went by the name Benito Serrano when not in his other form. His friends, however, affectionately called him Benny. He was never really the talkative type but when his friends needed him he was always there to lend an ear.

“I don’t know Benny,” she said. “I just don’t feel like I belong on the team anymore. You guys can carry on without me.”

“The team wouldn’t be the same,” said Benny. “The Young Allies was your idea. It’s your team.”

She shrugged her shoulders. “I need some time to myself so I can figure out what to do with myself. And I know you. You’re gonna say you’ll come with me, but I need to be alone. Stay with the Allies. They’re a good team. I know you’re the quiet type, but you should really take a chance to get to know them. We don’t have any family here on this earth. So it might be good to have as many friends as possible.”

“You should take your own advice,” he followed.

“You’re right.” She smiled before playfully punching him in the arm. “But now’s not the time for me. I gotta go. I’ll call you to check in on you. Bye for now.”

Rikki hugged Toro as tightly as she could before turning in the opposite direction they were walking. She waved just before making a turn.


LOCAL BANK

Later in the night, the police were on the scene. The bank had already been robbed. Luckily, no one was harmed. There was a lot of confusion though. No one was sure who just robbed the bank. Witnesses claimed to have not heard anything.

“At least no one was hurt,” said the American Panther. “But there’s no telling who did this. All security cameras were shut down and from what I’m hearing the robber went in without being noticed.”

American Panther and Kate Bishop were observing from a distance. The Panther was shifting through his personalized Young Allies communicator that he had built specially for each member of the team. There was an app that allowed him to hear what the police were reporting.

“You come well prepared, Panther,” said Kate.

“It helps having money when you’re doing the superhero-thing,” he explained. “I suspect you know what I mean… it’s so weird not being able to call you by a codename. Look for the sake of tonight I’m calling you Mockingbird.”

“Fine, just don’t go crazy saying it,” she sighed. “And yeah I do have access to money. It’s nothing like what you got going on. You have your own business. I have my dad. If he knew what I was doing with his money. I doubt he’d ever actually find out. I barely see him as it is.”

“You got issues with the old man, huh?” he asked. “That I can’t relate on, unfortunately. Me and my sister have no idea who our parents are.”

“Sorry, to hear that.” She lowered her head. “That must have been hard.”

“It was, but we had each other through it all so…,” American Panther trailed off as something caught his eye. “Hmm, I could have sworn I saw something. I’m gonna check it out. Be ready to move.”

The Panther, like the cat he was themed after, began to prowl. He stuck to the shadows as he preyed upon what he thought he saw. Mockingbird, as she was temporarily going by, stood at the ready after pulling an arrow from her quiver. He thought he saw movement but couldn’t hear anything. The lenses to his mask switched modes to infra-red.

He looked around a bit before unexpectedly coming face to face with what he saw. Before he could make out the shape of the heat signature he was looking at, he was punched to the side of his head. He swung back, trying to strike his attacker. The Panther was hit with a blunt object that shorted out the system in his lenses.

Now he couldn’t see the attacker and for an unknown reason, he couldn’t hear him. The Panther was struck repeatedly. He tried to retaliate but couldn’t see where they were coming from. Mockingbird could tell he was struggling. She jumped in and used her bow to swing at the person as she felt them brush passed her.

“Why can’t I hear anything?” she asked.

American Panther threw a punch. “Whatever tech this robber’s using is making them inaudible.”

“Great.” She seemed annoyed as she stood back-to-back with American Panther. “It figures we’d come across them on a roof with no lighting.”

“Don’t you have an arrow that can be used as a light?” questioned American Panther remembering how Hawkeye’s arrows were trick-arrows. “A flash arrow? Something?”

“I just have regular arrows.” Mockingbird was able to block a kick with her bow despite not seeing it coming.

American Panther became frustrated. He decided to stay still and just let his instincts lead him. Just then he lunged forward, with one punch he decked the robber. This time they both heard the sound of a body crashing onto a metal surface. The Panther quickly went and grabbed the person he struck and dragged him out to the nearest light source. Finally able to see, the Panther laid the unconscious body of a man in an orange and black costume. His mask was purely black, except for the glass lenses over his eyes.

“The Silencer?” American Panther scratched his head.

“You know who this is?” Mockingbird had no idea who this was.

“Barely,” he laughed. “If you google the word ‘irrelevant’ you’ll find a picture of this guy. I think Hawkeye fought him once. That explains why we couldn’t hear him. His suit silences all movement and breathing.”

“Kind of sad that with all the trouble he was causing, it took only one hit to take him down,” she remarked. “I guess we should turn him over to the police.”


RESCUE INC. TOWER

Ethan Townsend was with Ava Ayala, the White Tiger, in the training room of the Young Allies. He had a pair of boxing pads on each hand, which she hit with a series of strikes. She would switch from punches to kicks. After a good workout, they both went for a drink of water.

“You know with all the different opinions about the team I’ve been hearing lately, the one person I haven’t heard from is you,” said Ethan. “You’re just as new here as me and Hannah are. What are your thoughts on the status of the team? There’s been a couple departures. Rikki being one of them. She was one of the founders, not to mention the leader.”

“It seems a bit rough right now,” she answered. “But if the remaining members want to try and see if they can make this thing work. I figure there can be no harm in sticking around to see what comes of it. The Young Allies could do a lot of good. There are a lot of heroes in New York, but there are still many people who need help. Spanish Harlem is a big example of this.”

“You’re right,” he followed. “Maybe that’s something we should discuss with James and Monica.”

“I’ve heard word of a new hero who’s been operating out of Spanish Harlem.” Ava unstrapped her gloves and pulled them off. “From what I’ve learned he’s been offering his superhero abilities as a service. A hero for hire.”

“Hmm…we are down some members.” Ethan thought for a moment. “See if you can find anything out about this hero.*”

*White Tiger meets said hero in Amazing Fantasy #55–Justin.

Jennifer Takeda, their radioactive team member Hazmat, laid in her bed thinking about the last few days. She thought Araña leaving would be it, but Mettle as well. Those were the two people who were able to stand next to her while she was out of costume. Everyone else on the team would get sick if they got near her while out of her containment suit.

“Damn.” She rolled over to her side.

She didn’t know what to do with herself. She felt so lonely. Her powers were what caused this and it didn’t help that she was always very defensive while around others. If she left the team as well, where would she go? That’s the main thought that crossed her mind. Unexpectedly, there was a knocking at her door. The door opened, leading Jennifer to jump out of bed.

“NO!” she yelled. “Close the door!”

“I’m sorry, I wasn’t gonna open it all the way,” called Hannah from the other side. “I didn’t see anything.”

“You can’t be around me without my suit,” Jennifer said. “I’m poisonous.”

“Oh, I’m still getting used to all this,” Hannah spoke standing outside Jennifer’s bedroom. “I was wondering if you wanted to do something. Monica tells me all you do is stay in your room. It sucks you need that containment suit but that doesn’t mean you have to stay locked up.”

“I don’t know.” Jennifer looked at her suit.

“Just put it on and come out,” requested Hannah.

Monica had discussed with Hannah how Jennifer always remained distant. It was understandable. Jennifer didn’t want to hurt anyone with her powers, even if she was wearing her suit. The two friends discussed trying to get Jennifer to loosen up a bit. It took a moment, but Jennifer eventually came out dressed properly to be around Hannah.

“Alright, I’m out,” she said. “Now what?”

“You feel like watching a movie?” asked Hannah with a smile.


ELSEWHERE…

American Panther and Mockingbird were sitting on the ledge of a building’s roof. He had his mask off and she, her glasses. She was sipping from a cup she got from a fast food joint. They had turned over the Silencer to the police and continued looking for any criminals to fight. They didn’t find anything else since then.

“It’s been pretty quiet tonight,” said the Panther. “I guess it’s a good thing, but it’s pretty boring.”

“Boring’s not a bad thing.” Mockingbird smiled. “As long as you have someone to be bored with.”

The two looked at each other and then back out to the city. Mockingbird continued sipping her drink. American Panther examined her weapons while she looked out to another direction.

“You know we can make some improvements on your weapons,” he stated. “Just going in with regular arrows might not cut it. Having an array of trick-arrows could be handy. We could also upgrade your bow.”

“Really?” She was intrigued.

“We’re kinda short on members now,” he followed. “If you’re serious about the superhero life, maybe joining the Young Allies is the way to go.”

“Maybe.” She smiled again.


ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY – ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA
DAYS LATER

Rikki came to the cemetery that Steve Rogers had been buried. As of this time, she had no idea that he was alive. She still wasn’t sure where she belonged. She stood before the gravestone and had a moment of silence where she remembered her time as his sidekick while on Counter-Earth. She paid her respects for a while longer.

When the time came for her to leave, she went for a motorcycle that she borrowed from the team. She had not originally come here to visit Steve. There was word of a World Party cell operating here. If she was gonna take down her brother that meant she had to take down the organization cell by cell. She quickly looked at her cell phone before taking off. A news report caught her eye.

This report mentioned a new female superhero who wore a red costume themed after a bird. The costume itself made Rikki think of the Falcon. It continued listing the new hero’s exploits. There wasn’t anything too impressive. She seemed to be more trouble than help.

“This one is definitely an amateur,” Rikki said to herself. “Why does that costume look familiar?”


NEXT: Back to the Basics!