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Quote1 Just please know -- I wanted to save you so badly. Because I wanted to be to you what you always were to me -- my hero. I'm so sorry I keep letting you down, Cap. Quote2
Tony Stark (A.I.)

Appearing in 1st story

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Synopsis for 1st story

Steve Rogers hangs upside down from a rope tied to a tree in the mysterious forest, next to a rambling man. The Red Skull interrupts this man's babble and unties him, subsequently dragging him away in the midst of the his cries for help. As they leave, the Red Skull assures Steve his turn is coming soon enough.

In Manhattan, within the Darkforce dome, Claire Temple and Cloak get an extremely weakened Dagger to light up and provide light to the city while Doctor Strange approaches a monstrous-looking librarian inside an atheneum of magic, looking for a spell to cast out the darkness. At the same time in the streets of the city, Daredevil takes down a group of smugglers. Their boss, Wilson Fisk appears on the scene and taunts Daredevil, revealing the destination of canned goods his men were transporting is the Mercy General Hospital. Daredevil questions Fisk's intentions, as he has been playing the role of good Samaritan while seemingly asking for nothing in return. The former Kingpin partially disproves his claims, telling Daredevil that in return he's asking the citizens to remember he protected them in their darkest hours, which he expects will cement his status as a community leader once the crisis is over.

Back in the forest, Steve inquires the Red Skull while the villain is eating by a campfire. The Red Skull reveals he knows everything about Rogers, while Steve isn't sure if he remembers the Red Skull. In light of this, the Red Skull decides to formally introduce himself as the man who put Steve in the place where he is. When Steve questions where is "here," the Skull replies they are in Hell. He expands on that revelation, mentioning that he and Steve are nothing but ghosts, fading remnants in torment. When Steve recalls the Red Skull offered him the chance to free him from this place, the villain acknowledges he did while heating up the tip of his barbed bat in the fire, and proceeds to press it against Steve's chest, telling him that the only path to peace is death.

At the Red Room's safe house in Maryland, Nadia Pym prepares to leave, expressing her indignation that the Champions' attempts to talk Black Widow out of killing Captain America ended with the team bending to her will. She argues that has seen firsthand what the Red Room does to people and doesn't want her friends to have to be subjected to it. Spider-Man convinces her to let him talk to Black Widow one last time, and subsequently approaches Natasha while she's sitting on the house's porch. Miles tells her about Nadia's dissension, and questions if Natasha's methods are necessary. Natasha counters that they have worked so far, pointing the last mission's success as an example. She explains that the Red Room is meant to be a gift for the younger heroes, a way to survive through the new world the old generation has left them, a world that will only get worse with time. Spider-Man brings up that her worldview is only one possibility, with another being that the Underground will manage to fix what's wrong with Captain America. He then asks Black Widow to hold out hope, believing that Natasha secretly wants to share his optimism.

During the siege at The Mount, Captain America speaks to the recently-resurrected Bruce Banner aboard a Hydra Helicarrier to convince him to join his cause for the little time he has left. Inside the Underground's base, Iron Man observes in the control room with other heroes as their defenses are holding up against the attackers. Iron Man turns his attention to the people within the room, divulging that he's aware somebody must've tipped off Hydra. Mockingbird accuses Quicksilver of working with Hydra to ensure the Scarlet Witch's safety. In return, Pietro reveals he saw Bobbi sneaking off to make secret calls, forcing her to reveal she's been contacting Maria Hill to get her to hold off her operations to give Tony a chance to find the Cosmic Cube shards, calling his attempts a wild goose chase. When Tony objects her, Giant-Man decides to bring to light the fact that Tony never actually had the locations of the shards pinpointed. Ant-Man decides to stop the discussion from escalating and reveal he is the mole. Back aboard the Hydra Helicarrier, Bruce rejects Captain America's offer, arguing that even though the superhero community did wrong by him numerous times, Hydra are fascist totalitarians while he's still an Avenger. Captain America expresses his disappointment Bruce didn't accept, but reveals he wasn't exactly talking to Bruce, whose eyes turn green. In The Mount, Ant-Man is confronted by his peers for his betrayal, so he reveals he was forced to work for Hydra because they had leverage on him in the form of his daughter Cassie. They are interrupted when they see the Hulk jumping off the Helicarrier through the room's screens. He lands into The Mount, penetrating the fortress.

Hydra's troops soon follow the Hulk as he begins to rampage through the base. The sight of Hulk paralyses Hawkeye, who recalls the events of Banner's death and kneels with his eyes closed while Hulk charges at him. The Thing tackles the jade giant, giving Mockingbird the opportunity to get Hawkeye out of harms way. Clint concedes that the superheroes deserve their current predicament, arguing it consist of the ghosts of their past coming back to haunt them. Mockingbird makes him snap out of it, pointing out that even though maybe they do deserve it, the civilians and innocent people don't, prompting Clint to get back on his feet and assist the evacuation efforts.

Giant-Man deploys a set of A.I.vengers to fend off the Hulk and Hydra while the Underground finishes evacuating the base. Outside the facility, Hawkeye and the rest are intercepted by Odinson, though he lets them board their jet. Sam Wilson prepares for take off, while Mockingbird notices everybody managed to get out except Tony.

Inside The Mount, Iron Man prepares to leave, but Captain America takes him by surprise, latching to his armor's chestplate a device derived from Ultron's technology to weaken him and prevent him from transferring himself elsewhere. Iron Man and Captain America fight while the Hulk finishes off the A.I.vengers. The Hulk's temporary resurrection comes to an end, and he decays, collapsing the roof above Iron Man and Captain America. With his armor damaged from the cave-in, Tony activates the "Clean Slate Protocol" as Rogers approaches him in order to deliver the final blow. Tony begs him to wait, and apologizes to him. Aboard a Helicarrier, Madame Hydra becomes aware of an unusual energy signature inside The Mount and rushes into the base. Stark recalls the grief he felt over Steve's death after the first superhuman civil war and the feeling that he had failed Cap, explaining that when Steve returned, he swore to never fail him again, though he felt it happened again numerous times. Tony reveals this instance he felt he could've filled Steve's role of giving people hope and could've saved him, becoming to Steve what he always was to Tony, his hero. Elisa reaches Steve and uses a spell to banish him in the last second before Iron Man's armor detonates into a mushroom cloud, destroying himself, the base, and taking Elisa with it.

Back in Maryland, Black Widow hears through a radio about the destruction of The Mount and the fact that no people appeared to have survived, and cries while pouring a glass of vodka. She then barges into the Champions' room to inform them about Hydra's victory, declaring that the next day they're going to kill Captain America.

Solicit Synopsis

• The unworthy, the untrusted, the unstable — this is their day! BEWARE THE SECRET EMPIRE!

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