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Ultimate Vanguard Chronicles 1

Chapter1: The New Heroes Initiative

Note: This is obviously AU starting from Ultimate Comics – All New Spider-Man 24. The referred incident at Roxxon is something that will be different from what happens in canon, since at the time of this writing there’s about three months until the complete story arc is out. Most events that occurred prior have happened though, but once again this is AU—aka Fanfiction.



A tired sigh escaped from Jessica Drew’s mouth as she stood before the steel door. Already dressed in her scarlet full-body suit and mask that left her brunette hair flow down her back, she was currently preparing for a private briefing with General Nick Fury on the Triskelion Island, off the coast of New York. It had been a late night, a lot of things happened, and in the end the immediate follow up with Roxxon had led up to nothing concrete, leaving them to pin the incident as an isolated event due to the actions of a single pawn…again.

“You gonna stand out there all day?” called a masculine voice from the other side of the door.

She steeled herself and entered, taking a seat opposite the general’s desk that housed an electronic tablet. “You wanted me for a briefing?”

“The first members of the New Heroes Initiative”—he slid the electronic tablet forward—”take a look,” he told her, lacing his fingers and resting his head on them as a single eye tried to read her expression through her mask gave her.

With a moment’s hesitation, white-tipped gloved hands reached for the tablet and begun to scroll through the information. “It was approved?”

Fury nodded. “Director Chang approved it after that fiasco with Roxxon. We have a hidden, underground facility located close by them to train, a psychologist on stand-by experienced in consoling teenagers and meta-humans alike, a treatment center for any injuries they sustain, a PR expert to deal with any fallout on the assumption of them being ‘Child Soldiers’, an insurance plan to cover for damages caused in the line of duty, a go-between with the local authorities, and planned lessons from select members of the more experienced community. ”

“So much done that quickly?” Her eyes roamed over the tablet screen and gleamed over the details. “The timing for getting everything set up…how long ago was this planned?”

“Originally, it was supposed to start with Peter Parker,” he stated, his voice firm and strong, hiding the lamentation of the young hero’s premature death. “Danvers made some mistakes, but she was right in the fact that we can’t have young heroes running around unguided. Not anymore.”

Jessica pulled up the list of members, starting with profile of Lana Baumgartner (Bombshell), a mutant whose power previously only worked with her mother. In the recent photo she was wearing a pink and black full-body suit and white trench coat with black designs on it, along with an eye-mask. “Her!?”

“There won’t be a problem, will there?” Fury asked, his tone even.

“N-no, but…” Jessica recalled that both she and Peter had gotten the foul-mouthed teen arrested. Twice. “How did you get her to agree to this?”

A smug smile crossed the general’s lips.

Hours Ago – Triskelion Interrogation Room #3

Tapping her foot impatiently against the floor, Lana sat at a plain table with her eye-mask resting on it as she waited for whoever would come and speak with her. Around her wrists was a pair of cuffs designed to deliver a high-voltage shock should she try to use her powers. It was another five minutes before Nick Fury arrived in person.

“My apologies if I’ve kept you waiting,” he said nonchalantly. “There were three others who warranted my undivided attention prior.”

“This is against my fucking rights!” were the first words out of her mouth.

“Mutants civil liberties are something that most people haven’t acknowledged since Magneto, despite all the hard work Katherine Pryde had put into fixing that.” Fury blatantly stated as he sat down and laid out a tablet on the table housing her profile. “You’re going to help me change that, Miss Baumgartner.”

Her response was to go off on an explicit tangent about who he could go fornicate with, where insertion would be done, in what positions, followed by what could be done afterwards. The security watching through the camera were busy doubling over and trying to purge their memories of what they just heard.

“Mutants have become an endangered species since the SEAR’s virus was reverse engineered into a cure,” he continued, ignoring the string of words that would have made a lesser man blush, enraged, sick, or some combination of the three. “Elements in the government have been trying to have them classified as property—natural resources to bolster the standing of the country in the wake of the tragedies that have befallen it.”

“So what?” Her eyes narrowed. “You planning on shipping me off to some lab because I can blow things up?”

“Miss Baumgartner, I assisted Miss Pryde during the war to reclaim the southwest and have been a firm support of the mutant cause. Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t see you as anything but a person whose packing firepower that comes out with a thought. Not property.”

She scoffed. “And now?”

“Under these circumstances?” he mused, before his voice dropped lower. “A criminal with who’s on their third strike. The first two times your mother was blamed as a bad influence and since your powers required both of you together and were inert when separated you were given a second and third chance. That little stunt you pulled with those other two, fighting in the streets, endangering human lives, and damaging property, was the last strike.”

His eyes caught the way her body was tensing and her fist clenched, subtle reactions. From what he read on her powers, she was probably subconsciously preparing to use them at the drop of a dime. Time to bring it home and throw her a lifeline.

“But all can be forgiven if you’re willing to work with us as part of a new initiative we’re putting together for young individuals with powers,” he offered, producing a stylus designed to function on the screen of the tablet and pulling up a waver that she could sign on. “Just put your name on the dotted line.”

She stared at the screen, not bothering to go over the writing since what was happening was obvious. “You want to turn me into a weapon?”

“A hero,” he clarified. “Someone else who can represent your species in a positive light rather than being given the cure like it’s a sickness and locked away or seen as nothing but a nameless piece of property. It’s your choice.”

She nodded, her eyes fixing themselves on his. “And if I still refuse?”

“I said that mutant rights were non-existent,” he reminded her, pulling up a profile of another woman that she recognized all too well. “That includes prisoners. Like your mother, Lori Baumgartner. The name ‘Bombshell’ is appropriate for you both, since her powers make her useful as artillery on the battlefield.”

Lana jumped out of her chair. “You fucking asshole, you wouldn’t—”

“Not me,” he clarified. “She remains in the SHIELD detention block for mutants and other empowered individuals, receiving three meals a day and called by her name rather than a number that matches a barcode on the back of her neck. How long she remains there is up to you.

“There have been at least three hundred known legal inquiries into those who have powers that can benefit the medical, military, or agricultural fields within our cells and I have no doubt that some of those elements in the government I mentioned have pinned her for being useful since if your powers have been bolstered to be used independently so will hers given enough time or through artificial means.

“If you cooperate with us, we can stonewall all attempts at her despite the complications it may bring,” he started. “Her time will be reduced and she’ll get out a lot faster. She will be given the cure that will negate her powers as part of her release, of course, but she’ll be considered a citizen of the United States—an ex-convict, but better that than property.”

Leaning over the table and staring at the photo of her mother, she finally asked, “Why me?”

“Aside for the aforementioned reasons?” He picked up the stylus and held it up to her. “Because I see someone young enough to deserve a final chance, not someone who deserves to spend the rest of her youth in a cell.”

“…Fuck it!” Lana snatched the stylus from his hand and signed. “If something happens to my mother, I will blow your ass away.”

Back to the Present

“We negotiated,” was all Nick Fury told Jessica.

She didn’t dig any further into it and instead pulled up the profile on the next two.

Tandy Bowen (Dagger), a former student council president at Midtown High School of Queens. Her outfit of choice was a leather-ish bodysuit, only pure white and exposed her hands. Tyrone Johnson (Cloak), a former student council president at Forest Hills High School, dressed in a black cowl. Both were victims of an accident, put into a coma on their prom night, and supposed to be dead and cremated.

“They agreed too?” she asked.

Hours Ago – Triskelion Interrogation Room #2

“Tandy Bowen, Tyrone Johnson,” Nick Fury addressed them in a professional tone. “First, let me congratulate you on your recovery after that tragic car accident and ‘deaths’ that we are investigating. I assume your powers were a result of that recovery?”

“We aren’t sure,” Tyrone answered. “We just woke up a few days ago…”

“You both seem like reasonable people, so I’m inclined to ask why you thought pursuing Bombshell and causing damage on that scale, along with attacking Roxxon Corporation, was a good idea?”

“We just wanted some answers, and…to get back to normal…” Tandy said.

Tyrone’s face scrunched up in distaste. “You don’t understand what it’s like to have this…this curse you call a power.”

“I can’t understand that, but regardless you two are facing some consequences and SHIELD is in charge of handling cases like this. Given you both had stellar records before your accident that would be a travesty, so I have a proposition for the both of you—one that will allow you some normalcy by teaching you to control your powers until we can find some way to reverse it and, at the same time, improve the situation with the city and world. It’s called the New Heroes Initiative and I want you two as part of it.”

Hesitation was written all over their faces, with Tandy asking, “Can’t we go back to the way things were?”

“If there’s one thing I’ve learned over my years is that power breeds conflict and serves as a deterrent at the same time. Very few of those with power are able to find peace once known and, as examples of successful genetic-altering empowerment, you are very valuable and known after that incident. Until we can get you cured, SHIELD is offering you protection and an olive branch,” he finished, presenting the tablet. “Do you accept?”

Back to the Present

Fury responded with, “Wholeheartedly.”

She brought up the last member of the team—Miles Morales. He was a young man of fourteen, both Hispanic and African-American descent, with low-cut hair. His outfit was the one she’d given him, so there was a lump in her throat as she took in his photo and the file on him, recently compiled at that. “I know I told him he needed to get back on the horse, but…”

Hours Ago – Triskelion Interrogation Room #1

Miles sat at the table, eyes cold and tired after the events that led to the situation in general, across from Nick Fury. They’d been like that for the last three minutes. The first one to speak would be the one willing to break the tension. Fury was hoping he’d be a little more open, but the dossier he had on the psych evaluation after his mother’s death had proven a little too accurate.

Eventually he spoke first. “You’ve grown since we’ve last met in person. I’m glad the suit was to size.”

Miles preferred to simply cut to the bad part. “What’s going to happen now?”

Fury conceded to the request to skip the small talk. “You and three other youths went to attack Roxxon in an attempted to bring them to justice, for lack of a better term, after learning through interrogating the hospital staff that was overseeing them when this Cloak and Dagger vanished from the hospital, giving you a very weak trail that led to the corporation. Despite not knowing who at Roxxon was supposedly responsible for the other two’s transformation.”

“They made Venom,” Miles stated. “They’ve been doing stuff behind closed doors and—”

“That Venom incident wasn’t legally proven to be their fault in the investigation. I know they’re shady, and we’ll keep an eye on Roxxon, but the fact is you attacked the police who arrived and security there,” he finished. There was no malice or overt compassion, merely stating a fact.

“They were shooting at me when I hadn’t done anything to them,” Miles responded, his muscles tensing as he recalled the scene that overlapped with his nightmares now. His mother bleeding out in his arms, the light in her eyes fading as she whispered her final words to him. “I just webbed them up—rendered them harmless before someone else innocent got shot.”

“You and the others were trespassing and they were doing their job,” Fury responded. “Going to lethal force off the bat was excessive, but the general consensus gathered from the police department after the incident at the hospital was that Spider-Man has a Bull’s Eye on his back if they get the chance—not all of them, but the majority.”

His single eye was level as he said, “Miles, if you get arrested, your case involving your mother is going to go south. The police will use the information and try to tie you into your mother’s death as a major factor since the symbiote was going after you. All the property damage done your first few months under the mask, reparations, everything will be used as an excuse to make your life more difficult than it is…”

Running his gloved fingers through his hair, Miles sighed. “I know.”

“Yet you put on the mask again,” Fury added.

“I know,” Miles repeated with his tone even dourer than before. “It wasn’t an easy choice to make.”

“No one said it was easy,” he agreed. “You understand that being a hero is about something greater than the individual. In one year alone, despite our efforts, there are more villains, more victims, more cries for help from people who may never thank you.”

“Yeah…” Miles trailed off, eyes moving to the mask on the table.

Fury decided to change up, easing the mood. “Nice trick with the webs, by the way. New fluid?”

“Ganke experimented with the original formula and the old web-shooters,” Miles explained. “He calls it ‘Impact Webbing’. Since the SHIELD issued shooters aren’t calibrated for them I had to switch out the cartridges.”

“Hmm, we might put the kid on retainer once he gets a little older and we’ll have your shooters fitted for a secondary release system.” Fury pulled out his tablet and placed it on the table. He gestured for the young man to take it. “Anyway, to settle this issue with the police as well as prevent this from occurring again, there’s a program we’re starting for young heroes such as yourself.”

“Like the Ultimates?” Miles guessed.

“Similar, as they are both under my command, but a bit different in other ways. It’ll serve as a gateway for up and coming youngsters that need to get their feet wet, with mentors from the hero community as it expands, training from experts, and more. People are tired of watching the number of criminals and empowered thugs grow as the number of people to protect them declined and are left in the hands of children who think just because they wear a mask and have powers they can go out, only to be kicked around and killed.

“By the time you reach maturity, you’ll be full-fledged heroes whose growth had been recorded and used for future trainees. The name given to the unit hasn’t been determined yet, but I want you on it.”

Miles thought it over. If he’d known how his powers would have reacted to machinery, or if there was someone in a position of power he could have gone to when his uncle started blackmailing him into trying to be a criminal, the Prowler’s death and the backlash that followed could have been avoided. Peter Parker died on his own doorstep because he didn’t have a team backing him up or the training, and if Miles lost his father that day the symbiote attacked, he would have lost everything that he had to live for.

“…I’ll do it,” he consented softly, looking at the ceiling as he added, “on one condition.”

Fury produced the specialized stylus. “Name it.”

“Protection for my family and friends,” Miles stated. “If I get ID’d by a villain or anything. I want them protected. If something happens, I want them freed from the consequences of me being Spider-man.”

There was a pregnant pause. Then he nodded. “Consider it done. Make a list of names.”

Back to the Present

“He needs what Peter should have gotten,” Fury stated. “We gave him the right to use the name a year ago and, to our mutual discontent, we threw him out into the world without a safety net and hoped it would build character. We didn’t consider whether the character built would be good or bad. And with everything that’s happened to him, it seems like we’re looking at the makings of the next big super-villain, but the same could’ve been said for Peter.”

Jessica nodded silently, her thoughts of her other half bittersweet. “When does it begin?”

“The program begins this Saturday and Sunday, they’ll meet up on the weekends and evenings,” he answered.

“Miles and Lana still have to attend school,” Jessica pointed out.

“Discreet arrangements have been made for all of them in regards to schooling, should they be needed during those hours for an emergency,” he responded. “In addition, it can be seen as a paid internship being offered through a shell corporation and they’ll all receive a monthly paycheck as compensation as well as certain benefits.

“As for Tandy Bowen and Tyrone Johnson, they are legally listed as dead. While their immediate families are in the know, explaining the recovery would be difficult to the general public. Not to mention with their powers being unstable it would be dangerous without monitoring, so they’ll be under SHIELD care for the time being.”

That sounds well and good, but it’ll be harder to pull off given what’s on their profiles about their personalities, she thought. “Who’ll be their handler?”

“These kids need someone to guide them, someone who can relate as well…” He pointed squarely at her. “They need you. Understand?”

Looking at the profile picture of them all, doubts filled her. But, besides this being an indirect but firm order from the director of the Ultimates, Jessica did agree with him. “I’ll do my best then.”

“Good,” he stated, leaning back in the chair. “Now, there are two other matters we need to discuss. The first is about Quentin Beck’s escape a few months ago, and the second is about Scorpion.”

That grabbed her attention. The mention of the other surviving clone of Peter Parker, her brother in other words, and a villain from another universe, where Peter Parker lived to adulthood, were something she found urgent. The discussion between their ears only would have repercussions later on.

That Saturday

Miles Morales checked over his text messages a final time before he left the dorm of the charter school. Sitting on the bed was his plump and chemistry-inclined friend, Ganke, watching him in curiosity and excitement.

“You’re going to meet up with that lady from before?” The contents of the question didn’t need to be stated.

“It’s what I agreed to,” Miles responded coolly as he flipped the hood over his head. He was dressed in a casual hoodie and pair of jeans. Jessica told him he could leave his outfit at home, but to bring the web-shooters, so they were nestled on his wrists.

“And you’ll be working on a team and everything?” he followed up.

Miles shrugged. “Supposedly with those guys from before.”

“Man, that sounds cool,” Ganke fell back onto the bed. “You’re sure I can’t come along?”

“The meeting place is supposed to be a secret from all but those involved. Just telling you is the limit of what I can say…” Miles opened the window as his form faded from view, blending in clothes and all. Camouflaged, he leapt out of the window and clung to the side of the building. “And it’s not cool. It’s…work.”

Ganke sighed as he closed the window. “Coolest job ever, minus the downsides…”

Leaping over the bounds of the charter school and traversing the rooftops until he was a good distance closer to the place where Jessica was waiting, he fell into an empty alley and his figure faded into view before he walked out of the alley and onto the sidewalk of the busy New York streets. A few minutes later he found her checking her time on her phone while sitting in a car positioned in a parking lot as he approached.

Entering into the car’s passenger seat they drove off in silence until Jessica decided to try and make small talk. “So, you ready for this?”

“I think so,” he answered plainly, eyes fixed on the road ahead. There was still an air of emptiness wafting off of him. Not excitement, no nervousness, just apathy from trauma that had yet to heal.

“I promised to teach you how to be a hero,” she reminded him gently. “Even if it’s a bit late, at least this way it’s not on a battlefield with bodies lying around and bombs in the backdrop. You’ll be the youngest one there and, of the other members, two went to the same school as Peter and I can’t say how they’ll react to you in the current setting, but no matter what you’re all equals on the same team.

“And Miles…thank you for doing this,” she added honestly. “For Peter’s legacy and everything.”

The rest of the drive was silent until they pulled up to a small office building, plain and lacking any real descriptive features that would set it out from the neighboring buildings around it.

“While we’re waiting for the final member to arrive, I’ll give you a tour of the upper levels,” Jessica told him after checking on the status of the others. “The building looks normal for the most part, but its designed to be covert in an urban setting and there are numerous undisclosed entrances and safety measures.”

She guided him to the building and slid a card through a reader attached to the glass door. “For instance, these doors look like glass, but they’re actually reinforced and as durable as steel. To enter the building you need an ID card.”

Reaching into her pocket, she provided him with one. “This card serves as a means to contact you as well and to show authority as a unit under SHIELD. All the government and local authorities have been advised to fall in line once shown it. ”

Miles slipped the card into the pocket of his hoodie and followed her inside. The building had a rectangular shape overall, two stories tall on the surface with the living quarters and a recreational room being on the second floor, while the office setting was on the first. The rooms that would serve as their own personal rooms had standard beds and bathrooms, nothing excessive and no personalization yet—blank slates that would eventually reflect the state of their hosts.

Stepping into the elevator, she presented her card and a panel at the bottom slid open, revealing a new set of buttons leading to the lower levels that fell below the surface. Jessica pressed the button and the cart rumbled with them inside before descending. The hum of the cables sounded until they came at a stop and the doors opened, revealing what lay beneath the surface.

The chrome interior was all steel, a rounded foyer that had passageways leading towards the underground parking deck that came out a good distance away from the building, the conference room that housed a console attached to a huge monitor, a training area filled with machinery and a range for distance practice and more, an infirmary for injuries that needed treating, and smaller offices for the personnel that would be working with them.

Jessica had finished showing around when they both heard a loud “YOU!” from the end of the passageway, in the foyer. The entered to find the other three gathered, along with two other women that Miles had never seen before, with Lana pointing a finger at Tandy.

Lana was dressed in a short shirt that exposed her stomach and a jean skirt, stripped stockings running down her legs, as well with pigtails courtesy of two pink scrunchies at her grandmother’s insistence. You could imagine she wasn’t in a pleasant mood as she stared at Tandy, dressed in a white leather jacket and khakis, her hair in a ponytail.

“I can’t believe that you’re the bitch who was chasing me through Brooklyn,” Lana said angrily. It was their fault she ended up in this situation. “You’re supposed to have been dead Miss President.”

“And I can’t believe that the most foul mouth person I’d ever heard was the barbarian we chased all over the city…” Tandy shot back. “Oh wait, I can.”

“There are no secret identities amongst team members,” Jessica stated, breaking them up as she pressed a button on a panel on the wall and the floor in the center opened up. A platform with a table and chairs rose up slowly. “The moment you were brought into SHIELD your identities were registered and in some cases have been there for a few months to a year. Rather than having you pester one another over your identities or compromise yourselves on the field trying to protect it, we need to be aware of one another completely.”

“Who the hell are you?” Lana barked.

“My name is Jessica Drew, also known as Spider-Woman, a member of SHIELD and the Ultimates, and your handler starting today,” she said. Taking her place at the round table, Jessica motioned for the others to do so and laced her fingers while waiting for them to sit before she continued. “For today, all of you need to become acquainted with one another, as well as with those who will be assisting you in your endeavors.”

“I’m Artemis Raines,” said the first of the previous unknown women, her blonde hair flowing down her shoulder in cresting waves as she smiled. “I’ll be counseling all of you through your journey into being heroes and evaluating your mental growth as well as helping with any physical injuries.”

The second woman’s posture was rigid as she sat. “My name is Daisy Johnson, codename Quake, and at the command of General Fury I’ll be handling training for all of you until you’re all a single unit and move as one.”

“There will be others in time, but for now we’ll be the sole faculty,” Jessica said, pointing to Miles. “Your turn.”

“I’m Miles Morales,” he started out taking a deep breath, “I was bitten by a genetically-altered spider and became the current Spider-Man.”

“He’s a bit young, isn’t he?” Tandy voiced. Tyrone nodded as well.

Lana was doubtful. “Spider-boy is more like it. You can’t be serious about him being Parker’s replacement, who up and vanished last year, only to pop up when these two dragged me into this mess? And exactly how many of those spiders are running around if you spider-people keep popping up?”

“Miles proved himself as Peter’s successor, receiving the blessings of myself, May Parker, General Fury and Captain America, as well as another who carried the name,” Jessica alluded, defending him. “He is Spider-Man. Now, would you be so kind as to introduce yourself to your teammates?”

“Fine.” Lana put her boots onto the table and leaned back in the chair. “The name’s Lana Baumgartner, I attend the same school as Miss Glow-In-The-Dark before her nap. You can probably put two and two together and tell I’m not happy to be here with two of the people who decided to hunt me down one fine fucking evening in Brooklyn and trap me in that freaky shadow thing, nor happy to be with one of the people who got me fucking arrested in the first place, or the shitty replacement of the other. I was born with the power to make things blow up and my codename is Bombshell.”

“So she’s a mutant?” Tandy asked for confirmation.

Lana’s eyes narrowed. “And if I am? You gonna call a task force on me like I heard you did with the last one?”

Daisy decided to step in at this point. “There are no mutants, no humans, no division at all—only members of equal standing under a single flag. Understood?”

After various degrees of agreement, Artemis asked, “Can either Tandy or Tyrone speak up next?”

Tyrone took the lead this time. “Tyrone Johnson, formerly of Forest Hills High School. I was in an accident on the way to prom and…the next thing I remember was waking up changed into…this. My codename is Cloak.”

“Tandy Bowen,” Tandy followed up. “I was in the accident with Ty and…well, like he said. I go by Dagger as well.”

Daisy clasped her hands and stood. “Now that that’s out of the way, Jessica and I are going to get the training equipment set up as well as the measuring devices so we can gauge your various attributes before going into anything serious. Take a couple of minutes to get to know one another a bit better.”

“Actually, Miss Baumgartner,” Artemis called out, “can you see me in my office for a moment?”

“I just fucking got here and the shrink thinks something’s wrong with me already?” Lana huffed, annoyed more than anything. “What’s the fucking problem?”

“I’m doing evaluations of everyone, but your habit of swearing needs to be addressed first,” she clarified. “Please follow me so we can discuss it in details.”

“Fuck,” Lana sighed as she followed her out. That left Tandy, Tyrone, and Miles alone together at the table, a sense of awkwardness looming over them. More so since Miles felt like a third wheel.

Miles cleared his throat in an attempt to start things off. “Um, so how are you adjusting to everything. Your parents, did they take the news of you—um, living—well?”

The couple looked to one another, with their hands overlapping one another on the table, before Tyrone spoke up first. “They are…mixed about it. They were told we were dead, receiving ashes from our supposed remains by the staff at the hospital. Without even having time to properly grieve they received a call from SHIELD not even a few days ago and told to come in. Now we’ve become…whatever we are…”

Tandy bit her lips in silence, tightening her hands that were wrapped around Tyrone’s. Her parents weren’t exactly fans of mutants, as she wasn’t either, in the wake of Magneto and having discovered what she had become they were conflicted even more so. They wondered whether or not she was really the daughter they raised and it hurt more than anything else. “They just need time to adjust, I’m sure.”

Miles felt a nauseous feeling growing in the pit of his stomach. Would his father react the same way if he found out who Spider-Man was beneath the mask? “I’m sorry for asking…I can understand…sort of…”

There was an awkward silence that followed, with Miles doing his best to distract himself by checking on the arriving text message from his own girlfriend asking where he was. He gave a vague answer as Lana came back in with a pout on her face and Artemis called him, Tyrone, and Tandy back one at a time to do an assessment on their current mental states, before Daisy called them all to the training area and began a battery of general and standard tests that lasted well until the sun went down.

“Alright, we’ll call it quits for tonight,” Daisy stated, after spending hours of watching them and instructing them along with Jessica. “In terms of general skills Miles is the strongest in terms of physical strength and agility, while Lana is the most destructive in terms of offense. Tyrone and Tandy, both of your abilities need fleshing out before we can determine anything overall on which positions you’ll occupy in the unit. Of course, taking into account your individual skills, such as Miles’s spider-sense—”

Tyrone raised his hand and interrupted with a question. “Spider-what?”

“Spider-sense,” Jessica explained. “It’s something that those who undergo the same process of being bitten by genetically-altered spiders attain, enabling them to sense danger before they consciously notice it and tells them to dodge. In his case, it is weaker than my own, allowing him to sense the danger and the direction, but the range is lower and timing is narrow.”

“So that’s why you’re all so fucking hard to hit,” Lana realized, given she had fought both Jessica and Peter. Her thoughts paused as she heard Artemis clearing her throat and she sighed, fishing coins from her pocket and handing them over.

When the others looked at her, she smiled and produced a small container to place it in. “Swear Jar, a part of what we’re trying to curb her language.”

“You’re going to need a bigger jar,” Tandy bluntly said what they were thinking out loud.

“Go fuck yourself!” Lana snapped back. “At least I wasn’t the one who got stuck in a coma and came out as the very thing I hate. Karma’s a bitch.”

“Why you…” The insult rubbed her the wrong way and her eyes became illuminated as light gathered between her fingers in the form of blades. At the same time, luminous, burning-orange rings appeared around Lana’s wrists.

Jessica rubbed the bridge between her eyes and sighed. “Enough! Since the day is over, everyone go home and report back at 8 a.m. for the next battery of tests and training. Miles, can you wait for me upstairs to get you back to the dorms?”

He nodded and left, eager to get out before things went to hell.

“Getting out here again at that time is going to be a fucking pain,” Lana stated, dropping more money in the swear jar. “I’m crashing in one of the rooms upstairs.”

Tandy and Tyrone both left together to pick out their own rooms as well. Alone with Daisy and Artemis beneath the base, Jessica entered with them into the conference room and sat in the console’s chair before pressing a series of buttons until Nick Fury’s face appeared on-screen.

“How bad are they?” Fury asked off-the-bat.

Daisy responded promptly. “They have no cohesion as a unit, sir.”

Artemis’s answer was a little more detailed. “Miles seems to be introverted and silent the majority of the time, feeling out of place no doubt and unsure of himself. Lana and Tandy are hate each other, fueled by one’s distrust of mutants in general due to her upbringing and current events, while Tyrone’s priority is solely Tandy’s safety and seemed troubled by his powers to a greater extent than any of the others—which is understandable given what they are and how unstable they seem.”

“In short, we have a lot of work cut out for us,” Jessica finished. “A lot of work…”

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