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Quote1.png Ever since childhood, I have followed the path of my country's greatest need! In play or in study, no sacrifice was too great for me to make in my ambition to serve others! But to contemplate a lifetime spent in solitary confinement -- that is too much! Quote2.png
Red Guardian

Appearing in "Of Ambitions and Giant Amoebas"

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Synopsis for "Of Ambitions and Giant Amoebas"

The story opens at the Grand Central Station. Havok quits the team. His resignation is followed by the resignations of Black Goliath and Iron Fist. Havok feels that Hellcat is a greater threat than any of the villains. The police are in the process of arresting the villainous Defenders, who are all suffering from headaches. Blob blames himself for not learning to avoid affiliation with super-groups.

Kris Keating is angry and blames the Defenders for the events of the day. He reports that the Diamond District is in uproar, the New York Stock Exchange is in shambles, and the ferry of Staten Island has been hijacked. Hellcat tries to explain that the Defenders were only trying to help. Keating looks at the debris around the Station, and asks whether this is their idea of "help". He tells her that the Defenders are not getting away with savaging the city. Hellcat is worried about what he means with this threat. Keating clarifies that the police is aware of the Defenders' address. They are going to send them a bill for the damages. Hercules complains about his painful headache. He wants to quit the team, as he feels that his efforts are neither needed, nor desired. Keating escorts Hercules out, and advises Hellcat to also quit superhero activities. Hellcat is the only remaining Defender of her group.

Hellcat returns to her parked car, the Hellcatmobile. She decides to examine the letter which Iron Man delivered to her. She discovers that the letter was send from her old friend Millie Collins. Millie is now the head of her own agency, and wants to have a meeting with Hellcat. Hellcat drives away, speeding towards a meeting with Millie.

The scene shifts to the Soviet Union, to the interior of the Soviet Research Institute. Red Guardian is held in a metallic cell, and contemplates that she has become a deadly threat to "Mother Russia". Since her childhood, she always served the needs of her country. Her ambition was to serve others, and no sacrifice was too great in order to achieve her goal. Now she has to face a lifetime spent in solitary confinement. This sacrifice is too much for her. Tania contemplates that she finally discovered friendship during her time as a Defender, as she befriended her teammates. Then she fell under the spell of the Presence and she became a being of sheer nuclear energy. She renounced the Presence, when he tried to destroy the Defenders. She now feels cursed to never again feel the warmth of human companionship.

At this moment, the voice of General Kharkov interrupts her contemplations. He informs her that the Presence has been sighted in the Forbidden Zone. Kharkov claims that Sergei has reactivated a deadly radioactive disease strain. The military might of the Soviet Union is powerless against the intense radioactivity of the Presence and his creation. The Red Guardian seems to be their only hope against this threat. She accepts the mission. Kharkov evacuates the Institute, so that the Red Guardian can exit without irradiating anyone. As she exits, her footprints glow in the darkness. Finally free, Tania flies away.

Flying over the Forbidden Zone, Red Guardian discovers a path of destruction and debris filling a trench that is over 200 meters wide (0.12 miles). She realizes that this destruction is not the work of reason. She suspects that the Presence has succumbed to madness. Suddenly she sees the Giant Amoeba, and within her Sergei. Sergei is not struggling to escape, and has actually resigned himself to the idea of dying. He considers himself a victim of his own misguided ambition. He has no reason to live without Tania, and feels that he deserves death for his actions.

The Red Guardian uses beams from her eyes to blast the Giant Amoeba. She has realized that Sergei is not the monster's collaborator, but its victim. She is determined to save him. though she is uncertain whether he still survives. The Amoeba uses its pseudopods to try to grab the Guardian. She continues to blast at the Amoeba, but soon realizes that it is absorbing the energy from her blasts. She approaches the creature to try to attack it from close range. She sees Sergei signaling frantically at her, but does not realize what he is trying to tell her. A suddenly=emerging pseudopod grasps her, and then she is swallowed by the Amoeba. She realizes too late that Sergei was trying to warn her away from the Amoeba.

The scene shifts to the Richmond Riding Academy, where Aragorn and Nighthawk are landing following a flight. Nighthawk is happy that Valkyrie got rid of the "unwanted" Defenders. He asks her to do the the same to any new arrivals. Val is not proud of herself, and asks him never to remind her of the incident. Nighthawk asks her to cheer up. In his view, she takes everything too seriously. He asks her not to worry about the past, and to think of the Defenders' bright future. Val replies that she fears the future.

While Aragorn drinks water, Valkyrie examines him. A wound inflicted on Aragorn by Lunatik is healing well. Suddenly, Val feels dizzy. Nighthawk realizes that she does not look to be in good health. He asks Val if she is OK. She shouts at Nighthawk, asking him to leave her alone. He flies towards the main building, claiming that he has to do some work on the porch. Behind him, Valkyrie feels the battle-lust returning. She struggles to control herself.

Nighthawk hovers above the ground with his jet-pack, and is painting a sign over the porch. It says: "Scram super-heroes - No More Defenders Needed!" He wants to discourage "homeless" superheroes from applying from Defenders membership. Nighthawk suddenly hears Aragorn's alarmed cries. He flies towards the source of the cries. He finds Valkyrie, who is using Dragonfang to hack away at Aragorn’s water trough. The horse seems terrified, and Valkyrie is in berserker mode again. Nighthawk contemplates what to do about this. He decides to dunk Val into the water of Aragorn's water trough, and just does that. The ice-cold water brings Val back to her senses. She pleads for Nighthawk's help and then passes out.

Nighthawk realizes that this is the second time that Val acts in this way. He blames himself for not taking her to a hospital sooner. He knows that even if Val is in serious trouble, she would try to not reveal it to others. He lifts her up from the water trough, and promises to get her professional help for her problems.

The scene shifts to the Manhattan offices of Glamour Girls Inc, Millie Collins' own agency. As Hellcat prepares to enter, she worries about her appearance. She feels that her hair is a mess and that the Cat Suit is grubby. She enters the office in full costume and greets Millie. Millie fails to recognize her, though she finds Hellcat's voice familiar. Hellcat takes off her cowl and reveals herself as Patsy Walker. She entrusts Millie with her secret identity, but asks her to not reveal it to others.

Millie is glad to see Patsy, and finds her to be as beautiful and skinny as ever. Instead, Patsy finds herself to be ugly and fat. Millie asks her about Buzz Baxter, since since she has heard that he and Patsy got married. Patsy replies that she does not want to talk about it. Millie agrees to not press her about answers. She then asks Patsy where has she been. Patsy replies that she has been out of this world, she has served as a member of the Avengers, and is currently serving as a member of the Defenders. Millie finds it "sweet."

Millie next asks what are the groovy "hero-guys" really like? Patsy replies that she really loves hanging around with hunks. Millie has a business offer for Patsy. She wants Patsy to return to modeling and join her agency. Patsy turns down the offer, as she has left the field for quite a while and has seen so much since that time. Millie insists and tries to lure Patsy into accepting, with an offer for her to see the world. Millie promises that as a model, Patsy can visit Acapulco, Monaco, Rome, Paris, Moscow, and Peking. She also promises that Patsy can meet with great people, movie stars, heads of state, and royalty. She invites Patsy to a gala event that Millie has organized, to see what she means. Patsy feels sad, and asks whether Millie remembers the time when the two of them started modeling. They used to be so innocent and ambitious. Millie happily replies that her own ambition has paid off. She is now the head of her own wonderful modeling empire. The scene ends.

The scene shifts to the Forbidden Zone. Within the Amoeba, Red Guarding is unconscious. The Presence is determined to not let her die. However, the Amoeba is trying to digest him and he is too weak to resist it. He remembers, however, that the previous time he and Tania clasped hands, they became as one. He grasps her hand, expecting their power to join. Their joined hands create a nuclear chain reaction. The intense power unleashed is too much for the Amoeba to assimilate. It regurgitates all alien matter: the Presence, the Red Guardian, and the Presence's hover chair. The Presence seats on his chair and holds Tania in his arms. He confesses his feelings about her, then lifts up his facemask, and kisses Tania on the lips. Power courses through her body and revives her. Sergei tells her that he loves her, but she does not reply or acknowledge his affections. She flies away from him, causing him to wonder whether she rejects him again.

The Red Guardian starts attacking the Amoeba again. The Presence follows her example. Sergei allows himself to be swallowed again. The Amoeba greedily tries to absorb his radioactive energy, but Sergei uses great does of that energy to burn the monster. The Amoeba feels pain. The Presence and the Red Guardian next join forces against the weakened creature. They clasp hands again and their energy increases. They cause a controlled nuclear explosion and use its full force against the Amoeba. The Amoeba is vaporized by the explosion, leaving only radioactive vapors behind.

Following their victory, the Presence confesses that he feels no elation. Years ago, he stood on this hilltop. He wanted to fill the emptiness inside him, and tried to dominate others in order to achieve that goal. He examines the ground, and declares that he has only managed to poison the soil. He then declares that his only current ambition is to earn Tania's affection. Tania replies that Sergei has already earned her affection. She wants the two of them to settle in the Forbidden Zone, in order to not endanger anyone else. They shall have a home. The scene ends.

The scene shifts to Harrison Turk's apartment in Manhattan. The drama teacher has been visited there by Dollar Bill and Ledge. Dollar Bill finds the apartment and its decoration to be weird. Harrison offers to Ledge the drama work which the student had missed while in the hospital. Ledge leaves immediately to go study, as he is behind in his studies. Dollar Bill asks Harrison for advice, on how to repair his relationship with the Defenders. Harrison agrees to help him get back on the team's good graces. The scene ends.

The scene shifts to the Richmond Riding Academy. Nighthawk has arranged for a doctor to visit the Academy. Nighthawk himself has already checked Val's pulse and respiration, and found them to be normal. With Val still unconscious on the couch, Nighthawk decides to repair the water trough. He needs something to take his mind off worrying for Val. As he exits the room, Val awakens and screams "no". She is supposedly turning down someone's offer, but she does not remember what that offer was. She feels as if someone is summoning her, but does who is that someone and why he/she summons her.

There is a fire in the fireplace of the room, and Val stares at the flames. The flames seem to take ominous shape. Val sees another version of herself, wearing her old uniform. The other Valkyrie holds a sword and struggles again unnamed foes. As the Valkyrie stands over the fallen bodies of her foes, she sees someone emerge from the shadows. A figure which freezes Val's heart with icy fear. She screams "you!". The scene ends.

In the yard of the Academy, Hellcat has returned with the Hellcatmobile. She and Nighthawk exchange information, and learn that every other Defender has quit the team. Aragorn stands near them, grazing. Suddenly light covers the horse and then it disappears. The two alarmed Defenders turn around and find a blinding light coming from inside their residence. They hurry to enter the house. The light is gone, and Val has disappeared. She has left behind a note on the fireplace, stabbed with a knife. Hellcat reads the note and is shocked. Val, through the note, instructs them not to try to find her. Val claims that she will never see her friends again. The story ends.


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