Runaways (1st series) #13 - 18
Flashback time. The runaways were back in their hostel in Bronson Canyon. After a week of news, nothing had come to light about their parents being taken down. They figured the Avengers might be off dealing with a space crisis or something, or Cloak and Dagger may have been in league with their 'rents after all. Alex appeared and said he'd finally decoded the abstract, and sat down to tell them the whole story.
Twenty years ago, all the parents were abducted by surprise. The Wilder's were robbers and were being chased by the cops when they were summoned. The Yorkes' had timeshifted into the 1980's and were looking to leave when they vanished. The Hayes' were being attacked because they were mutants and Gene was about to retaliate when they disappeared. The Stein's vanished from their laboratory, the Minoru's from their wedding service and the Dean's vanished from a studio set. They all appeared on a giant platform underwater in some kind of hidden cavern. They immediately began to bicker before being told to be silent by three giants called the Gibborim. They were huge, and dressed in strange garb. Back in the hostel, Nico pointed out that the Gibborim were mythical evil giants with six fingers and toes, while Gert pointed out that she thought it was Hebrew for 'mighty men' or 'heroes.'
Twenty years ago, the parents were surprisingly calm about meeting giants, and asked what they wanted with a motley crew like them. The spokesGibborim said that they no longer possessed the lifeforce necessary to return the Earth to the utopia is once was. They required a 'Pride' and the old ways dictated that they call forth six young pair bonds; the thieves (Wilder’s), the travellers (Yorkes’), the magicians (Minoru's), the outcasts (Hayes’), the wise men (Stein’s) and the colonists (Dean’s). They would bring about that utopia by destroying all of humanity. Some of the assembled parents were shocked but others were intrigued.
The spokesGibborim explained that they would augment each of their abilities to enable them to claim dominion over the entire city of angels. Stein asked what the point of world dominance was if there wasn't a world left to dominate. The Gibborim said it would take twenty-five years to supply them with all that they needed to reshape this once pristine orb. When the twenty-five years was up, six of them would be granted eternal life, whilst the other six would perish with the rest of their miserable race. The Wilder's went for the idea, and gradually, the others came around to the idea too. They get twenty-five years of power, and then a fifty-fifty shot at eternal life.
Back in the hostel, Alex explained that the Rite of Blood was an annual ceremony where an adolescent female would be sacrificed to the Gibborim. The kids then came into the picture. Twenty years ago, after this meeting, Janet Stein said she was pregnant and this got some of the others thinking about having children. Mr. Wilder proposed that they could have a good twenty-five years of power, and then offer their places to their six offspring. In the present, the kids realized that all the horrible things their folks had done, had been done for them! Chase said the book proved their story, and they should show it to somebody. Alex asked who? The LAPD was on their parent's payroll after all. Behind them, Lieutenant Flores, sporting a cast, pointed a gun at them backed by a score of officers. "I think we just got ourselves a raise," he said.
Elsewhere, Geoffrey Wilder looked at some old photos of his son, Alex, but was disturbed by Victor Stein. He reminded Geoffrey that the Rite of Thunder was tonight; it was time to give the Gibborim their due. Geoffrey asked why that mattered now. The whole reason they agreed to this whole thing in the first place was so their offspring could inherit the Earth. Now, they were gone. Vic queried Geoffrey's real concern about his son until Geoffrey snapped. Vic, though, was simply testing him, and wanted to ensure that their overall purpose; to allow their children to have a future, was still foremost on his mind. Now he knew they were on the same page, he admitted that he loved Chase more than life itself, literally. Vic then received a pager message that a patrolman had found the kids in Bronson Canyon. Geoffrey said they should get there quickly before their overzealous agents decided to take matters into their own hands.
At the hostel, the kids were cornered by Lieutenant Flores and his squad. He hinted that one of the runaways was an informant, but wouldn't provide any more details. He gave the order to kill Old Lace, and Gert was clearly against this idea. Alex called for Chase to lay down suppressive fire using his Fistigons. Chase had no idea what he was talking about, but still managed to create a lattice of flame to keep the cops at bay. Nico asked Gert to get Old Lace to bite her, and this produced the Staff of One from her chest. Karolina went into alien mode and gave the team air support on Alex's mark. Nico couldn't teleport them as her spells only worked once and she'd teleported already. Instead, she made the hostel unsafe and the place began to come down around their ears. As the roof collapsed, Karolina managed to use her energy powers to create a kind of force field above them. However, with limited air, they had to get out quickly.
Bruiser (though she preferred the name 'Princess Powerful') inadvertently came up with the solution, and she ended up punching her way out. Geoffrey and Victor arrived at the scene but they were too late as the kids had already managed to get clear. Flores was pulled from the rubble, but Geoffrey Wilder killed him, and warned the other cops on his payroll to find his progeny in the next twelve hours, or they'd receive the same retirement package as their late superior. The kids fled to Mount Lee and hid behind the huge Hollywood sign. Molly slept, an after effect of using her powers. They argued a little over who the mole was, but got nowhere fast. Meanwhile, over at the Dean residence, the Dean’s and the Hayes' plotted to kill the rest of the Pride.
The runaways made their way through a sewer, unable to go overland because they had a small dinosaur tagging along. Alex was busy trying to decode the Abstract in order to defeat the Pride. He discovered a section which mentioned the Rite of Thunder. This was a ceremony where all twelve of their parents took the spirit they captured at the Rite of Blood, and fed it to the Gibborim. Chase deducted that this must be the one where they saw the chick get stabbed. Alex continued to point out that these souls were what supposedly gave the Gibborim their power, the power they'd need to destroy the planet. He also figured that the ceremony meant their parents were supposed to appear humbly before the Gibborim, which he guessed meant no weapons, giving them a small advantage. Unfortunately, the next Rite of Thunder was in four hours time.
Back on the Wilder family beach, the Pride gathered, with Mr. Wilder and Mr. Stein rejoining the rest of the group. Stein told them that they'd have to continue their search for their offspring after they'd made their delivery. Mr. Minoru questioned the Wilder's timing in finding a lead on their kids’ whereabouts, on the night of the Rite. He suggested that they knew that one of the runaways was a mole, but what if one of them was a mole too, only working for the kids. The suggestion was countered, and Mrs. Stein summoned a large aquatic craft called the Leapfrog, with which they could travel underwater to the Gibborim's base.
The Dean's and the Hayes' had a small concern about this potential mole, but Leslie Dean assured them that she had 'everything' in hand. At Santa Monica Beach, Nico used her Staff of One to create an underwater craft of their very own. It was a kind of airtight bubble. Chase asked if they could trust her. If she was the mole they'd heard about then she could pop it once they were underwater. Alex trusted her, but he had a vested interest. He and Nico kissed, much to Karolina's disappointment. Alex made a speech which pretty much explained how much he thought of them, and how they'd become his true friends. They entered the bubble and dropped 2,500 leagues under the sea.
Karolina posed the question of what everyone wanted to be when they were older. Gert fancied being a senator. Karolina no longer wanted to be an actress following in her mother's footsteps. Alex opted to be a video game designer for Rockstar (creators of Grand Theft Auto) and Nico fancied playing the bass. Chase meanwhile went for a career with the FBI and Molly simply wanted to be a mum, but a good one, not like her own. They crashed the Gibborim's base, called the Marine Vivarium, and entered. They then managed to get into a fight with the guardian - a large beast which Chase set on fire. Unfortunately, this made the guard a large beast on fire, and therefore more dangerous. Molly tried to smash it, before Alex found a word in the Abstract which made the creature stop in its tracks. Unfortunately, Chase had been caught by the creature, and Gert exclaimed that he wasn't breathing. He was dead!
With Chase down, the gang tried to think of ways to revive him. Gert ended up using CPR and managed finally to bring Chase round. Waking, he kissed Gert, thinking he must have brain damage, 'cos suddenly Gert was the hottest chick he'd ever seen. Chase then got woozy. He opted to remain behind as he'd be useless to them anyway. He gave Alex his Fistigons and Nico his knife, so she could draw blood at will and get her Staff of One.
The parents had a half hour to wait until the Gibborim arrived. The Stein's and Wilder's prepared their offering, whilst the Dean's and the Hayes' cooled their heals before killing the others. A few more minutes wouldn't hurt. As they chatted, the kids suddenly appeared, and looked like they meant business. With Alex in charge, he split the team up, and everyone picked their targets. With Old Lace unable to attack Gert's parents, and Karolina's power being useless against her own folks, they switched and the battle began to go their way. Finally, the kids were victorious, but only Alex and Karolina were still active. It was then that Alex apologized to Karolina. She asked why, and he knocked her unconscious with the Fistigons. He then freed his parents from a fire cage he placed them in earlier (for their own safety) and revealed that HE was the mole all along.
With Alex finally revealed as the mole, all that was left was to see how the whole thing panned out. Alex and his parents were the victors, and Alex now controlled Old Lace too. Alex freed Nico of a spell that froze her, and tried to make peace with her. She asked if it was a ruse to lull the Pride into a false sense of security, but Alex replied by asking if she remembered the secret passageway they found. He said he found the passageway a few months ago while snooping for Christmas presents. That wasn't exactly true. He found it more than a year ago, and saw the Pride killing a girl, a whole year before they all saw the latest victim. Instead of calling the cops, he trusted his parents and set about discovering the truth.
He spent the next few nights sneaking into the basement and read & deciphered as much of the Abstract as he could. He learned about the Gibborim and what their parents sacrificed to make this world a better place. He soon discovered that not everyone in the Pride was as noble as his own parents. He overheard the Dean's and the Hayes' discussing overthrowing the others, including his own folks. Alex wanted to warn his folks but couldn't do so without putting their lives in danger. He read about weapons and resources hidden in their various homes and used the runaways to collect them. He asked Nico if she really thought it was a coincidence that they came across Fistigons and a telepathic dinosaur. Nico was furious. Alex admitted he hadn't planned on Topher's involvement. He loved Nico, and wanted her to come with them to the eternal paradise his parents wanted for them.
Mrs. Wilder helped the Minoru's up and promised to finish off the betrayers before the Gibborim arrived. Mr. Wilder said that after they fed the girl's soul to the Gibborim, they would undoubtedly award immortality to the six of them. Alex again tried making nice with Nico, but she punched him, embarrassing him in front of his folks. Karolina then got up and blasted Alex, but he bound her using the Staff of One. Gert then managed to regain influence over Old Lace and ordered him to bring Nico the Staff of One. It did, and Alex threatened to fry Karolina if she didn't back off. Before anyone could move, Chase arrived, having recovered from his ordeal, aboard the Leapfrog which crashed through the wall. Nico used the distraction to destroy the Fistigons and Molly destroyed the container with the girl's soul inside, as she didn't like the idea of her being trapped in there.
A huge blast shot vertically through the base, and into the sky. This attracted the Gibborim who arrived. Alex didn't like them dressing down his folks, but the Gibborim killed him instantly for his insolence. With the Rite of Thunder now impossible to complete, the Gibborim decided to use the last remaining power they had to kill everyone. Almost gallantly, the parents stayed behind to fight, telling the kids to run for safety. Reluctantly, they boarded the Leapfrog and Chase got them out of there. As they hopped away, a massive explosion rocked the underwater base, presumably killing all their parents and the Gibborim inside. As the craft landed on shore, they were greeted by Captain America who asked if they had a licence to drive that thing.
The final issue of the series was a stand-alone issue entitled 'Eighteen.' Three months after the runaways became orphans, a new reporter gave a report on what happened. The Avengers (including Captain America, Vision and the Scarlet Witch), gave a press conference, telling everyone that details of the kids couldn't be revealed, and the story was finished. The kids were placed in foster homes or other homes until they were old enough to leave. However, this status quo wasn't going to last. A meeting was organized at the James Dean memorial at the Griffith Observatory. Karolina was the first to arrive, only to find Nico hiding behind the statue of James Dean. They hugged and Karolina blushed when Nico said her experience with Alex had put her off boys forever. Gert and Molly were next to arrive, and Gert explained that they took Old Lace away. It was hardly okay to have a velociraptor around. Finally, Chase appeared and Gert slapped him for not getting in touch all this time. Chase informed her that he'd been looking for her dinosaur...and he found it. Gert kissed him, much to Molly's disgust. Chase explained that Old Lace was at an old West Coast Avengers compound somewhere on Palos Verdes. It was very risky, but everyone agreed to help free Old Lace.
They made their way to downtown LA, and Karolina used her powers to force their way inside. Unfortunately, it was guarded with robot drones who sensed their presence. Karolina fared well against the robots, but Nico got caught by one and forced against a wall. Chase tossed her his knife, and instead of cutting herself to get the Staff of One, she jammed it into the robot which exploded. Gert then found Old Lace and it licked her face. Each of them decided there was no going back to their temporary homes, and so they got inside the Leapfrog and decided to see where the wind took them. They would be back.