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  Runaways (1st series) #17
Author : Last Modified : 5/11/2009 2:16:22 PM

Issue Date: October 2004

Story Title: The Good Die Young - Conclusion

Staff: Brian K. Vaughan (writer), Adrian Alphona (penciler), Craig Yeung (inker), UDON's Christina Strain (colorist), Virtual Calligraphy's Randy Gentile (letterer), Jo Chen (cover artist), MacKenzie Cadenhead (assistant editor), C.B. Cebulski (editor), Joe Quesada (chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Runaways created by Vaughan & Alphona

Brief Description:
In a shocking revelation, Alex has been revealed as the mole. He stands before his parents, with all the weapons the runaways had at his disposal. He unfreezes Nico who is shocked to see the Wilder's standing right behind him. Alex informs her that he is aware of that. They've always been behind him. Nico can't understand what's going on, so Alex decides to reveal everything. He explains how he discovered the secret passageways in his home a year before they appeared to find them. He saw the Pride kill an innocent girl, and dug around to see why. He discovered the Abstract in their subbasement and began deciphering it. He found out what the Pride had in mind. One day he was deciphering the text when the Hayes' and the Dean's entered the house. He hid and overheard their conversation. They were planning on killing the Wilder's as well as the rest of the Pride so that they and their children could have the six places offered to the Pride by the Gibborim. Alex decided to do something about it, and pretty much used Nico and the others as soldiers in the war. Nico can't believe it, and she hits Alex hard. Slowly, she rouses the rest of the runaways and the opposing sides begin to fight. It isn't until the intervention of Chase, who has figured out how to pilot their parent's Leapfrog, that the tide turns in the kid's favor. Nico uses the opportunity to destroy the Fistigons and Molly grabs hold of the vessel containing the sacrifice. She is upset that they would imprison a little girl's soul inside it, so she crushes it between her fingers. Catherine Wilder is shocked as she sees their long-held plans go up in flames. A bright white light is emitted which is seen from the beach. This alerts the Avengers to the problem. The Gibborim find the lack of a sacrifice, and the destruction of twenty-five years of planning, unacceptable. They kill Alex quickly and the runaways do what they do best. They enter the Leapfrog and head for the surface whilst their parents remain to fight. The battle doesn't last long, as the Marine Vivarium explodes, seemingly killing everyone inside. The kids reach the surface and exit the Leapfrog, only to find Captain America standing there waiting for them.

Full synopsis:
(the Marine Vivarium, underwater Lair of the Gibborim, 11:49 p.m.)
"Dance." Alex controls not only the Staff of One which he uses to unfreeze Nico, but also the Fistigons, the X-ray specs and Old Lace. Nico asks what happened. Alex tells her that he has to give her credit. She always made using the Staff of One look easy. He had to try a zillion different phrases before it finally unfroze her from her Girl, Interrupted spell. Nico looks at him and sees his parents standing right there. She tries to warn him that they're right behind him, but Alex replies coldly that he knows. They always have been. Nico then looks around and sees Molly, Gert and Karolina all lying on the ground. Alex asks her not to worry. They're only unconscious like most of the Pride. He needed the other kids out of the picture but he wasn't about to let them be killed. Nico is shocked. She can't believe that Alex of all people is the traitor. Alex replies that you have to betray something to be a traitor. He's been nothing but loyal to his parents - the people who matter. He just explained everything to them, and he'll be happy to fill her in too.

Nico approaches him and whispers to him. She thinks this is all a trick, right? He is lulling them into a false sense of security before he springs his master plan. Alex asks if she remembers the secret passageway in his parents' house. Does she remember how he said that he found it a few months ago when he was snooping for Christmas presents? That wasn't exactly true...

(flashback)
Alex explains that he actually discovered it more than a year ago at one of their families' annual get-togethers. The grown-ups were having their charity meeting in the basement, and the kids were engrossed in some stupid movie. He decided to go explore. At the other end of the long corridor, he saw their parents through the one-way mirror. They were dressed in costumes and obviously, he was freaked. However, he wasn't nearly as freaked as when he saw them kill someone in the same ceremony she saw a year later. Instead of calling the cops, he continues, he kept his mouth shut and gave the people who raised him the benefit of the doubt. He knew there had to be a logical explanation. He was right.

(present)
His mother places a reassuring hand on his shoulder and wonders if he should ease Nico into this. Alex decides to continue his explanation.

(flashback)
He spent most of the next few nights sneaking into his dad's subbasement after he went to bed. He read as much as he could decipher about the Pride and their history. He learned about the Gibborim and what their parents sacrificed to make this world a better place for all of them. He couldn't believe it, but his mom and dad were heroes!

(present)
"Are you insane, Alex?" balks Nico. "You saw them murder an innocent girl!" Alex replies that they had to. She's seen the Wrath of Khan, right? The good of the many outweighs the good of the one. He continues with his story.

(flashback)
He discovered pretty quickly that not everyone in the Pride was as noble as his parents. One day he was reading the Abstract when the Dean's and the Hayes' entered the subbasement. Alice Hayes wasn't exactly sure why they were there, but Leslie Dean explained, for the last time, that the copy of the Abstract which the Gibborim gave them detailed the past and future of the Pride. Her husband added that the mere act of thinking about the plan they just conceived meant that it would now be in the book. They had to destroy those pages before the others read them. Gene Hayes asked why, if the Abstract can chronicle what hasn't even happened yet, wouldn't their future misdeeds have been in there from the very beginning? Leslie replied that it was magic. If they thought too hard about it their brains would explode. Frank asked his wife to hurry up with the Decoder Ring. They had three more tomes to alter before the night was through. Gene Hayes pointed out that if the Wilder's noticed the missing passage... if they suspect that they were preparing to murder them and the rest of the Pride at next year's Rite of Thunder... His wife picked up his sentence, saying that if that happened, they'd pick up their thoughts and lobotomize them before they got a chance to tell anyone. After all, she added, Alex's parents were powerless. It was the others they had to worry about.

(present)
Alex informs Nico that Molly and Karolina's parents were plotting to kill their folks so their families could have the six spots in the next world meant for them. He wanted to warn his mom and dad, but he couldn't do it without putting their lives in danger. Nico reminds him that he wanted his parents arrested! Alex replies that he said a lot of things. He is sorry, but he couldn't stop this without help. When he read about weapons and resources hidden in each of their homes... Nico stands back. That's why he had them sneak back into their homes after they ran away? He said they were looking for evidence to use against the Pride, but really he was using them. Alex says that he was collecting his arsenal and unlocking some of his soldier's powers. Did she think it was a coincidence that they stumbled onto fire gauntlets and telepathic dinosaurs?

Nico is furious that this has all been a part of Alex's sick plan. Alex tells her that not all of it was. He's made a few mistakes along the way. He would never have invited the vampire back to the Hostel if he'd known he was going to try and kiss her. Still, he had to find a way to toughen them up. Nico says that's impossible. It was her idea to take on the Pride at the Rite of Thunder. Alex replies that she didn't really have a choice, after he led the police to their hideout. "Rule number one of gaming: a good dungeon master always makes his players feel like they're in control, especially when they're not."

Nico is flabbergasted. This isn't a game, she reminds him. Alex tells her that she wasn't just a pawn. He loves her. That's why he decided to let her come along. She asks to where. Catherine Wilder helps the Minoru's up and replies that it's to eternal paradise. In light of recent events, she and her husband have been forced to... amend their agreement with the rest of the Pride. Robert Minoru assures his daughter that everything's going to be fine. Their two families will finish off their betrayers before the Gibborim arrive at midnight. Geoffrey Wilder adds that after they feed the giants the young woman's soul they collected at the last Rite of Blood, the Gibborim will undoubtedly award immortality to the six of them. Nico asks then what? They blow up the rest of the world? Alex asks her to remember what they talked about before their first kiss. How it felt like people had screwed up the planet beyond repair and there was nothing kids like them could do about it. Well, now they can. They can hit the reset button on the whole world and remake it the way it is supposed to be. He and Nico, and maybe someday, their kids.

Nico pauses for a second or two. She then lashes out at Alex, punching him in the face as hard as she can. "Not if you were the last boy on Earth, loser," she spits, rubbing her hand which hurts from the impact. Catherine steps towards Alex to comfort him but he tells her to back off. He can take care of himself. Nico rouses Karolina who glows as she awakens. Nico informs her that Alex is the mole. He's evil. Karolina glances over to Alex and says she knew he was all wrong for her. She takes to the air and blasts Alex with her energies. He falls backwards, but then uses the Staff of One against her. "Bondage." Rainbow-colored chains wrap themselves around Karolina and she collapses, helpless. Alex warns her not to bother struggling. The chains are made of the same metal as that bracelet of hers that puts the kibosh on her powers. He tested it already on her parents while she was asleep. Old Lace then growls, and Alex orders her to roll over. He asks Old Lace to remember what her master told her. She takes her orders from him now. "Her 'master' changed her mind," says Gertrude, now also awake. She tells Alex that Bruiser's mom broke her glasses, but she forgot to break her brain. "Old Lace... fetch." Old Lace rushes past Alex and grabs the Staff of One in her mouth, delivering it to its rightful owner.

With the Staff of One in hand, Nico tells Alex to give up, warning him not to make her demonstrate how much better she is with the thing than he. Alex aims his Fistigons at Karolina and replies that if she tries it, Lucy in the Sky goes up in smoke. The staff glows as she tells him he is lying. That's all he does. Alex tells her that Karolina's mom and dad were plotting to execute them. Sins of the father, right? As Karolina begs not to die, the Leapfrog comes crashing through the wall with a loud 'Krooom'. A hatch opens and Chase sticks his head through it. He apologizes but he got tired of waiting for them. He hot-wired Frogger. He asks what he missed. Alex is shocked that he has returned. He thought he'd ensure he was too hurt to fight. "Hands off," shouts Nico as she waves the Staff of One at Alex. The Fistigons explode and Alex shrieks in agony. The Minoru's are standing side by side with a mystical ball hovering between their outstretched fingers. Robert tells her that's enough. His wife adds that Alex has given their family an amazing gift, and she will show him her appreciation.

Dale Yorkes awakens next and asks Geoffrey Wilder what kind of shanghai this is. Stacey realizes that they were going to steal their children’s place in the afterworld, after everything they've done together. Victor warns Wilder that if this is true he's gonna rip his head from his shoulders. Molly then appears, holding the vessel that contains the sacrifice's soul. She orders them to stop fighting. A concerned Catherine asks her to be careful with it. It has a little girl's spirit inside. Molly's eyes glow and she replies that you can't take kids and put them inside boxes just because it makes you happy. It’s wrong. She then crushes the vessel between her hands and a white light flashes from inside it. The power released shoots upwards, all the way through the ocean above them and into the night sky. "My God!" exclaims Catherine Wilder. "Do you have any idea what you've..."

At this point the Gibborim show up and tell her that this is unacceptable. They are the Gibborim, and they hunger. Where is their offering? Who dares desecrate the Rite of Thunder? Geoffrey drops to his knees and asks his master to forgive him. Alex tells him to stop it. He's not going to stand there and watch him get dressed down by his boss! This is his doing. He wanted to prove that he's an adult now, too. He takes full responsibility. The lead Gibborim raises his arm and a golden glow envelopes his palm. "Your honesty is appreciated, child," it says before unleashing a jet of searing flame. Alex is incinerated instantly right before his parent's eyes. The Gibborim inform everyone that the Rite of Thunder has failed. Their selfish dedication to their progeny has reduced decades of service to nothingness. Therefore, it adds, they shall use whatever power they have left to end their lives, and those of their children. It begins blasting, forcing the Pride to flee. Tina Minoru orders Nico to get out of there. She and her husband will try to hold the Gibborim off. Nico replies that she won't allow them to butcher her parents. She doesn't care what they've done. Tina tells her that she is her mother and she will do as she says.

Molly grabs Nico's arm and says they need to take care of each other now. As they rush towards the leapfrog, Dale Yorkes asks Stacey if this is what they're reduced to. She replies yes. Empty nesters. On board the Leapfrog, Chase asks what on Earth happened to Alex. Gert replies that they'll update him topside. For now, they have to jet. Does he know how to pilot the thing? Chase asks if she means by pilot it she means crash through stuff. If yes, then... sorta. The leapfrog takes off, smashing its way through the window that leads back to the ocean. As they head to the surface, Nico holds her mouth. "They're gone," she cries. Karolina tries to comfort her by telling her that they don't know that. They’re strong. Evil, but strong. As she speaks, a massive explosion sends a wall of concussive water right at them as the Marine Vivarium is destroyed. Chase orders them to buckle up. He'll try to keep it steady, but the shockwave's gonna knock this boat for a loop.

Seconds later, the Leapfrog exits the surface and crash lands on the beach. Once the smoke settles, a hatchway opens and the runaways exit, gingerly. Chase is relieved that he didn't kill anybody. Karolina carries Molly who slept through the whole thing. Gert quips that Chase lands better than he kisses. Nico can't believe that it's actually over, but as she tries to gather her thoughts, a voice from the sand dunes says, "Excuse me." They look up to see Captain America standing there. "Do you kids have a licence to drive that thing?"

Characters:
Karolina Dean, Molly Hayes, Nico Minoru, Chase Stein, Alex Wilder, Gertrude Yorkes
Old Lace

Frank and Leslie Dean, Alice and Gene Hayes, Robert and Tina Minoru, Janet and Victor Stein, Catherine and Geoffrey Wilder, Dale and Stacey Yorkes (all members of The Pride) The Gibborim

Captain America

People on the beach

(in flashback)
Karolina Dean, Molly Hayes, Nico Minoru, Chase Stein, Alex Wilder, Gertrude Yorkes

Frank and Leslie Dean, Alice and Gene Hayes, Robert and Tina Minoru, Catherine and Geoffrey Wilder (all members of the Pride)
Innocent sacrifice

Notes:
Girl, Interrupted is a 1999 movie starring Winona Ryder and Angelina Jolie, about a young woman who is sent to an institution for the mentally ill.

The Wrath of Khan is the second of the Star Trek movies, released in 1982 and starring William Shatner and Leanord Nimoy.

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