Appearing in 1st story
- Hank (Apparent death)
- Friends of Humanity (Main story and flashback)
- Symbiote Hive (Only in flashback)
- Symbiote Dragons (Only in flashback)
- Carnage's Hive
- God (Invoked)
- President Joe Biden
- Life Foundation (Mentioned)
- Alchemax (Mentioned)
- Guardsmen (Mentioned)
Races and Species:
- Earth (Main story and flashback)
Synopsis for 1st story
In Senator Krane's office, Gemma Shin - deputy communications officer - is blocked from entering a meeting room by one of her colleagues, who mocks her insistance on being let into the room and dismissively sends her to get coffee. Gemma begrudgingly obliges, complaining to herself about her male colleagues' sexism under her breath. When her order is called, Gemma collects the coffee and steps out the door to see the sky is pitch-black and the city is swarming with Symbiote Dragons.
In the present, Gemma is snapped out of her reminiscing by Arthur Krane, who places a cup of coffee in front of her and says he got it just how she likes it. Smiling, Gemma thanks him and Arthur apologizes for how overworked she is on account of Senator Krane's upcoming Friends of Humanity rally. Gemma shrugs it off, saying it comes with the territory of being Krane's chief communications officer, and Arthur comments that he thinks she's doing an amazing job despite her work being under-appreciated. Arthur suggests she do something to cut loose and enjoy herself, Gemma smiling as she says she hasn't gone for a run in a long time.
Later, Flash Thompson, Andi Benton, and Bren Waters walk through the National Mall, pointedly ignoring a Friends of Humanity supporter trying to recruit them. As Andi comments in disgust on the sheer amount of Friends of Humanity propaganda, Flash suggests they rendezvous with Hank and see what he knows of Senator Krane's plans. Glancing at a poster the recruiter gave him, Bren asks if people really believe such hateful things, and Flash explains that when people are scared they latch onto information that comforts them - even if that information is misleading or false, which makes them susceptible to charismatic demagogues like Senator Krane. Out for her jog, Gemma unwittingly runs past them.
Later that night, Gemma jogs through the city and is accosted by a trio of street thugs, who pull knives on her and threateningly tells her to smile for them. Grinning wickedly, Gemma transforms into Agony and douses two of the thugs with a torrent of acid, roaring as she decapitates two with slashes from her claws. Grabbing the surviving thug by the neck, she licks his face - burning a furrow into his cheek with her corrosive saliva - and mocking tells him to smile for her before chomping into his head. Sighing contentedly, Gemma retracts the Agony symbiote from her head and wipes a bit of brain from her cheek, commenting that Arthur was right and she feels much better now.
The next day, Gemma comes into the office looking refreshed and some of her coworkers sneer that she must have had sex, asking if the "Ice Queen" gave her lover frostbite. Arthur glares at the men and calls them disgusting, but Gemma brushes off their sexism and steps into the break room to get some coffee. Following, Arthur says he strongly disapproves of how his father runs things and confides that he's considering running against him in the future. Intrigued, Gemma smirks and pours him a mug of coffee, Arthur asking if she would consider coming to work for him. Toasting him, Gemma says she would like that.
Meeting with Hank in an apartment, Flash asks for the soldier-turned-bodyguard to fill him in on what he knows. Grinning, Hank comments that Senator Krane doesn't suspect he's a spy, letting him obtain all sorts of secretive details due to being considered unimportant; filling them in that Senator Krane is plotting to hijack the President's memorial speech for the people killed during Knull's invasion. Rolling her eyes, Andi comments that even Carnage wouldn't seriously consider trying to assassinate the President in broad daylight, but Flash sternly says that he absolutely does and will do so if nobody stops him. Bren curses out loud, Flash concurring before saying the public murder of the President will throw the country into chaos -- in keeping with Carnage's usual MO. Horrified, Hank asks if Flash is serious about Senator Krane being Carnage, then asks if Flash and his accomplices have symbiotes as well. Flash apologizes for not letting Hank know sooner, saying he wanted to keep him safe. Grumbling that he's not feeling very safe between the assassination plot and finding out his new boss is being puppeteered by Carnage, Hank asks how Flash plans to stop him. Turning to Andi, Flash says that her Silence symbiote is their ace in the hole and asks if she can sense Carnage and his Hive now that they're closer. Closing her eyes and concentrating, Andi transforms into Silence and says that ever since their meeting with Toxin she's been worried that tapping into the Hive-Mind is a two-way street; noting that she'll try anyway and that she can sense someone.
At her apartment, which is decorated with dismembered and mutilated body parts, Gemma hangs the severed arm of one of the thugs above her television and eyes it contemplatively, asking the Agony symbiote if it thinks the arm looks good on their mantleplace. Mimicking her, the Agony symbiote says they don't have a mantle to hang it over, Gemma saying that she meant the space on the wall. Eyeing it, Gemma says she thinks it looks tacky, but the Agony symbiote says it looks perfect. Commenting that she thinks something's missing, Gemma chastizes the Agony symbiote for eating the thug's other arm - preventing them from having a matching set, before cheerfully patting it on the head and saying she's not mad and that they'll just have to get another. Pulling them into the Hive-Mind, Carnage comments that he loves what she's done with her apartment, Gemma irritibly snaps that she told him she didn't want to be contacted outside of work hours. Quipping it's happy hour and time for some team bonding, Carnage conjures a bartop and morphs his symbiote to look like a bartender, telling Gemma to take a seat as he summons the other symbiotes under his command. The Agony symbiote transforming into a purple dress, Gemma sits between Phage - having assumed a canine form - and Riot, ordering a gin and tonic. As Carnage says he'll oblige and mixes a drink, Gemma glances at Phage, Lasher, Scream, and the other assembled symbiotes and comments that if this meeting is about the big event they're missing a few recruits. Pouring red ooze into a cocktail glass, Carnage replies that if she's talking about Silence and Toxin, they'll be there.
Infiltrating the Hive-Mind, Silence notes that Carnage and all the Life Foundation symbiotes are there, but that she's too far away to hear what they're saying. As she flies closer, Carnage says that with what he has planned there's no way they'll be able to stay way; revealing he's aware that Andi's there and impaling her in the chest with a tendril, causing the Silence symbiote to manifest a fanged maw and roar in pain. Disconnecting from the Hive-Mind, Andi tells Flash that Carnage knows they're coming. Transforming into Agent Anti-Venom, Flash says they may have lost the element of surprise but that at least they know Carnage is expecting them, Bren transforming into Toxin. As Silence, Toxin, and Agent Anti-Venom set out, Hank calls out asking what he should do given he lacks a symbiote of his own; Agent Anti-Venom telling him to not let the President out of his sight and telling his allies to be careful.
In the Hive-Mind, Gemma eyeballs the drink and notes that it's not a gin and tonic, Carnage cheerfully admitting he has no clue how to make one anyway. As Carnage asks if she's having second thoughts regarding their alliance, Gemma scoffs and takes the drink -- telling him not to forget the promise he made to her and the Agony symbiote. Saying he'd never do so, Carnage pours a glass of his own and toasts the Hive.
The next day, Agent Anti-Venom, Silence, and Toxin watch the President's memorial speech from a distance. Hank warily watches as Gemma tells Senator Krane it's time to hijack the show, Senator Krane walking out to cheers from his adoring fans. As Arthur congratulates everyone on a job well-done and Gemma assures "Mr. Riot" that all the pieces are in place, the three turn to stare ominously at Hank. Calling Flash, Hank informs him that Senator Krane is about to begin his speech, noting that he doesn't see any of the Life Foundation symbiotes or Alchemax's Guardsmen. Pondering the situation, Flash realizes that they've got everything wrong as Hank is suddenly impaled from behind by a red-and-black blade, Arthur Krane unveiling himself as Carnage's host. Taking his phone, Carnage mockingly apologizes for cutting him off before turning to Agony, Riot, and Phage, saying they're on a tight schedule and have a speech to catch.
As the odds (and symbiotes!) stack against our heroes, is there any way they can win against Carnage
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