Appearing in 1st story
- mutated SHIELD agents
Synopsis for 1st story
Ghost tries calling for help, as the attacking girl wearing troll skin is about to slice him in two. Luckily for Ghost, Crossbones hits her in the side with one shot, causing her to fall down. Cage reprimands Crossbones for the seemingly lethal action, though the latter defends that he simply used a dart to penetrate the girl's ear.
Later at the Raft, Valkyrie identifies the girl as Gunna, an Asgardian who was captured by the Magzi tribe. She was locked in Asgard along with the rest of the Magzi in hopes of rehabilitating her, before the trolls escaped after the eternal realm's fall. Valkyrie wants to take Gunna home but Warden John Walker objects, stating that she and her troll brethren killed and apparently ate U.S. citizens and therefore, Gunna will stay at the Raft until a court trial could be enacted. Valkyrie retorts that if the siege on Asgard never happened, then the trolls would never have been released. Cage mediates the dispute, stating that they will leave the decision to Steve Rogers. Valkyrie accepts the proposal and agrees to let Gunna remain in the Raft until then. As both Valkyrie and Walker depart, Cage advises Songbird to orientate Gunna for the duration of her stay and more importantly, teach her not to eat anybody.
The next morning, Cage scolds his Thunderbolts for the two causalities yesterday. But they have no time to reconsider their roster, as they have another mission at hand. There is a cave full of Terrigen crystals that a S.H.I.E.L.D. team was investigating to confirm and seal off. The U.N. sent in a team yesterday to investigate and mysteriously vanished. Their mission is to go in and search for survivors. Fixer provides them all with filters so that they won't inhale the Terrigen mists and get mutated.
Arriving at the cave via Man-Thing. Inside, the Thunderbolts find a number of bodies, all seemingly mummified. They then find the cache of crystals and among them, a hard drive that can explain what the S.H.I.E.L.D. team found. Ghost also detects a vein of uranium ore beneath the crystal, corrupting the mists. Next thing they know, a mayday from MACH-V comes over the radio. Cage then orders him team to return outside; Juggernaut is convinced that this is another test like the one with Fixer/Zemo. Moonstone corrects that Cage is more concerned with others' safety before his own.
Crossbones spots a pack with a S.H.I.E.L.D. insignia and attempts to pilfer it. Then suddenly, the Thunderbolts are attacked by the horribly mutated S.H.I.E.L.D. crew. They try fighting then off but there are just too many of them. Cage, Moonstone and Juggernaut pass out, leaving Man-Thing, Crossbones and Ghost (possessing MACH-V) to finish the job.
Who or what is Unit 23? Luke Cage must lead his new Thunderbolts deep below on their deadliest mission and face the horrors that mankind can become. While S.H.I.E.L.D. was shut down, a now-missing government squad was charged with guarding a cavern full of impure Terrigen crystals...and if these powerful elements morph Inhumans with wild transformations, what in the world will they do to humans? It's a volatile environment--and a bad time for a challenge to authority from The Juggernaut!
- This issue is reprinted in the trade paperback Thunderbolts: Cage.
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