Avengers Arena #6

Issue Date: 
May 2013
Story Title: 
Pawn Takes King

Dennis Hopeless (writer), Kev Walker (artist), Frank Martin Jr. (colorist), VCs Joe Caramagna (letterer), Michael Del Mundo (cover artist), Jorge Molina (variant cover artist), Jon Moisan (assistant editor), Bill Rosemann (editor), Axel Alonso (editor in chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)

Brief Description: 

Nara, Anachronism and Cullen Bloodstone are washed away by a large wave but Nara, being Atlantean, rescues them. This gives hope to the infatuated Aiden. Before Murder World, Aiden and Nara had a brief moment before they were rudely interrupted by Kid Briton. Now, Aiden believes that she cares for him, if only a little. Over in Quadrant 4, the Avengers Academy students continue their way to the medical supplies promised by Arcade. Unfortunately, Hazmat steps on a switch which unleashes Arcade's own version of X-23's trigger scent. Reptil manages to summon enough strength to get them both out of there before Laura kills them. Meanwhile, at the border of Quadrants 2 and 3, Cammi informs Nico and Chase that she believes the prize they are after isn't worth winning and warns them not to go rushing in with their eyes blinkered. Back with Aiden, he and Cullen get through to Nara that Katy is the one who controls Death Locket and is the one who ordered them all into the river. Nara sees that now and is furious. She asks Aiden why Kid Briton always beat him up. He replies that it's because Brian's an arse, but Nara believes it's because his powers are based on his confidence and beating Aiden up only helped with that. Nara explains that he doesn't have to take it anymore. He can break trees with his bare hands and could give Brian a run for his money should he desire. They are suddenly teleported to where the supplies are being held. As Cullen investigates what's in the box, Nara confronts Katy who arrives with the others. They soon get into a fight and when Kid Briton tries to intervene, Nara punches him in the face which doesn't do his confidence any good at all. Katy tries to get Death Locket to fight her battle for her, but Cullen finds some weapons and manages to throw her off balance before she can shoot anyone. As Nara beats on Katy, Brian tries to step in but Aiden sees red and decapitates him with one single slash of his knife.

Full Summary: 

Murder World, now:
Anachronism and Cullen Bloodstone have tumbled into a river, closely followed by the Atlantean Nara who was blasted in after them by Death Locket. Nara shouts up, warning her that she will find her. Watching Nara, Anachronism can't help but smile but knows that Cullen will whack him about the head if he sees. He turns to Cullen who did indeed see. He asks him to stop as he looks like an idiot. "Can't help it," replies Aiden. Cullen doesn't even want to know why he is grinning, pointing out that alpha monkey and his women have left them for dead. Them and his psychopath fish-girl.

Nara shouts that she will rip off Death Locket's bargain bin robot arm and beat her bloody with it. Then she will flay the flesh from her skinny bones with her finger nails. She pauses mid-rant and asks if they can hear something. She bends down and touches the water with her fingertips. She then asks them to grab hold of something... right now. A moment later a flash flood hits them hard and Nara adds that holding onto something won't actually do much good. As they lose their footing due to the powerful waves, Aiden thinks about how nobody ever told him a lot about girls. His dad was so busted up after his mum left, his thoughts on the subject were mostly angry and confusing. He's spent a lot of his life playing the round-bellied ginger-boy who likes to listen. Girls told him their troubles and treated him like the harmless pup he was. But not Nara. She treated him like scum from the start. She made a game out of it and tried to break him. He used to hate her guts, but now... well, everything's different.

Nara, being an Atlantean, braves the water with ease and grabs both Aiden and Cullen, hauling them to the Surface. She grins as she asks them not to drown. Aiden asks his friend if he's all right. He replies that he isn't, and can he stop smiling for the love of *&%*! Aiden replies that she saved them. She could have let them die down there but she didn't. Cullen reckons there's something lodged in his brain. He says that later on, assuming they survive, he'd very much like to help him knock it loose. "Whatever you want mate," replies Aiden, but he's thinking about Nara and how she saved them... saved him. She cares! A little at least.

Braddock Academy, before Murder World:
Aiden and Cullen are wandering around the school along with several other pupils. Aiden tells Cullen that people think he should be excited or something. That he should feel lucky to have his body and half his mind replaced by this psychotic warlord. Cullen replies that they are idiots and he knows that. All they see is a steroid super hero makeover. Nobody ever sees the rest. Aiden admits that he can't do it, not all the time anyway. A couple of times a month before that was okay, but if they're right and he's changed permanently then it's not fair! Why should he have to deal with his bloodlust and his urges? It takes a lot not to give in to those urges. He apologizes to Cullen for ranting. He knows he understands.

Nara walks past and tells him she's heard that he's stuck like that now, all beefed up for good. She thanks goodness for small favors. Aiden slams his fist into the lockers behind her and asks if she ever stops talking &*%^@. Nara smiles back at him and replies that sometimes she does. Does he wanna see how that works? Aiden leans in a little and tells her she smells good. Unfortunately, their little moment is interrupted by Kid Briton who punches Aiden and asks what he's even thinking about. He can't have him molesting the girls like that. Just because he's finally grown into his little kilt doesn't mean that Nara's suddenly interested in geeks. Cullen asks if there's a girl in the school that he hasn't marked. Maybe he could make them a list. Brian laughs. He asks what the point would be with all of them so far out of their league.

Quadrant 4, now:
Reptil is still suffering from being burned and he asks Hazmat and X-23 to go on ahead. He can chill for a while until her gets enough strength back to transform. Jenny tells him that there's no way they are leaving him alone... ever. He replies that they'll never make it to those supplies first with him hobbling along behind them. Besides, he heals way faster as a dinosaur. Jenny repeats her refusal. She says it's not worth it. When he needs to rest, they will rest. Otherwise, they should go. She turns to leave, but as she steps forward, her foot presses down on a switch which makes a 'klik' sound. Reptil hears it and looks over, only to see Hazmat being engulfed in a ball of smoke. Both Reptil and X-23 cough and Hazmat asks them to talk to her. What the hell was that? X-23 recovers, snikts her claws and replies, "Trigger scent." Hazmat seems unaware what she means but Reptil orders her to run. She sees X-23 leap towards them and soon gets the message.

Reptil attempts to transform into a pterosaur. He manages to grow wings and then grabs Hazmat just as X-23's claws slash at her. He takes her into the sky leaving X-23 on her knees. Arcade contacts Laura and tells her it took them long enough. He's wanted so badly to see if the stuff works and if she would chop anyone up, even her BFFF's. He explains that his trigger scent is a little crunchier than the original recipe. It was a tricky business mixing it up. It took him two whole weeks, but hey. It looks like he nailed it!

Quadrant 1 & 2 border:
Nico, Chase and Cammi are walking through the snow. Cammi points the way and Chase is eager to get the supplies. Cammi, however, is a little more cautious. Chase asks what she means. This is why they walked their happy *&%# all the way there through the snow! Nico asks him to calm down and asks Cammi if she thinks it might be booby-trapped or something. Cammi replies that she's nobody's boss. If they want the prize then go run and get it. She's just saying that some prizes aren't worth winning. They can take whatever they want from that. She'll be watching the show from nearby.

Elsewhere, Nara emerges from the river first with Aiden and Cullen trailing behind. She tells them that she doesn't care how far south they think they are, they are not tucking tail and heading in the opposite direction. Cullen replies that she's a daft sea cow who wants to swim upstream to play out her fishy revenge plot. He reckons she should do it. He and Aiden will be heading south to the nearest safe zone before Arcade has a chance to poke them with another rusty pin. Nara asks what they will do once they're there. Cower under a rock? Where do they think Death Locket will come once she's finished with Brian and Katy?
Cullen tells her that her stupidity knows no bounds. Aiden tries to defend her, but Cullen asks if she really thinks Katy's pet bot is to blame for her being stuck with them? Does she believe that Katy and Kid Moron are right now locked in battle with this dastardly cyborg assassin? He decides to analyze the situation. He asks who invited Death Locket to join their group? Who has spent every waking moment since befriending the cute little murder machine? And who, he adds, does she think is manipulative enough to always get her way? Nara gets the message. She grimaces and says that Katy did this. Aiden tells her that sometimes it's hard seeing what's right in front of you. Nara replies fine. They will go south, but on the way she wants to talk about what happens next.

Meanwhile, Reptil passes out whilst carrying Hazmat and crash lands on a beach in safe zone 3. Kid Briton, Apex and Death Locket find the downed Sentinel, or part of it at least, as they head to safe zone 2. Aiden thinks about Nara wanting to talk about what happens next. It's a good question. What is next? Rescue, escape? Do they wake up and it's all been a dream? He thinks not. This thing is playing itself out. They try to put it out of their heads but it's a fact. Some people like Katy have been gaming since day one. Others are just now figuring it out but it's Murder World that is winning. It's separating them into killers and cannon fodder, just like Arcade said it would. What's next? he wonders. More of the same is his guess.

Nara asks Aiden why he thinks Kid Briton always beats him up. "Because he's an arse," replies Aiden. Nara believes otherwise. She reckons his powers are confidence-based so he's a bully because feeling big makes him big and bad. But, Aiden's not the chubby little weakling anymore. He snaps tree trunks in two with his bare hands. She thinks Brian's not coming at him because it's easy. She thinks Brian is threatened by him. He could give Brian a good go if he tried and Brian knows it. Aiden replies that he doesn't like to fight, but Nara tells him that's rubbish. She followed him to the football pub last month and saw him fight. He looked alive for once... knuckles dripping with blood and a grin from ear to ear.

Aiden tells her that it wasn't him. It was the other guy. He does what he can but sometimes he takes over like that. Nara asks him to stop it, then. There is no 'him' she explains. He's not the Incredible Hulk. He hasn't transformed into some unspeakable monster that needs to be hidden away. She holds his chin and adds that he's more aggressive now. So what? What's so terrible about that? Cullen interjects and asks her to leave Aiden alone. She hasn't any idea what he goes through. Nara replies that it's true enough, but she knows what he wants and knows that he'd already have it if he wasn't afraid to reach out and take it.

The trio are then suddenly teleported to where the medical supplies box is sitting. Aiden sees the other half of their group approach and warns Nara that this is a trap set up by Arcade. He’s set it up this way, but she doesn't have to bite. Nara replies that sometimes you do have to bite. She shouts over to Apex and tells the 'duplicitous cowardly skank' to keep on coming. Cullen quips that in a shocking turn of events, fishy girl is yelling again. He tells Aiden that it looks like they won. They should leave her to this nonsense and find out what's in the box.

Aiden is more interested in what's about to happen. Apex, believing that Nara was talking to Rebecca, tells Nara that nobody got hurt. Death Locket just acted in her own best interests. Nara points her finger at Katy and says she was talking to her. Katy is impressed and tells Nara that for once in her life she's managed to figure something out. Actually, she adds, she reckons Bloodstone spelt it out for her. Brian tries to intervene and cool things down, but Nara responds by smashing him in the face, pointing out that he can fly and didn't come down to get her back. Brian lies on the floor with his nose bleeding. "How did she... that actually hurt," he cries.
Nara asks Katy if this is really how she wants it. For her to be an opponent? Katy replies by asking if she thinks she is threatening her. "Please," she adds. "You were barely even worth the double cross." She asks Nara not to let herself believe she's figured out her game. She's still much smarter than her. Katy turns to Death Locket and asks her to be a doll and blast Nara and Anachronism out of her way. Rebecca replies that she doesn't like this but Katy orders her to shut her mouth and just do it. Rebecca bows her head and powers up. "Good girl," says Katy. "And hit them a bit harder this time." Nara tells her to bring it.

As Death Locket fires, a small explosion hits Rebecca and knocks them all off their feet. Cullen approaches carrying a really big gun and smiles, explaining that there are guns in the box, and all sorts of cakes, too. Aiden rushes to Rebecca, informing Cullen that it's not her fault. He might have killed her with that thing. Cullen nonchalantly replies that if he wanted to kill her he would have. It's not like he doesn't know how to use a bazooka. Aiden asks Rebecca if she's okay. She sits up and coughs, asking what happened. "Katy sucks. You paid the price," replies Cullen. He asks her to sit there and keep blasty hand where they can see it.

Meanwhile, Nara takes out her frustrations on Katy, first with a mighty smack across the face and then with a knee to the torso. She tells her she should kill her now and be done with it. Watching, Kid Briton gasps, "No." Katy asks him to come and help her. He tells Nara that she's done enough. She can leave her alone now. Nara tells Katy that Brian can't help her. If he tries she will just knock him down again. Her little puppet boy is all weak and pathetic now that she's clipped his strings. "I'm not weak," replies Brian. Nara grins and tells him that he is.

Not to be belittled, Brian flies at her with his energy sword extended. He slashes at her and Katy, bleeding from the nose, eggs him on. "Yes!" she cries. "Cut her again!" Aiden and Cullen both turn as they see how serious this has become. "Nara?" says Aiden. Brian tells Nara to take it back. She tells him that taking it back won't make it any less true... "You weak little puppet." Brian sees red and asks her if she wants to see weak. "I'll show you who's weak!" As he prepares to attack Nara, Aiden rushes in and decapitates Brian with one swipe of his spear. Watching, Arcade raises a glass and smiles. "Game on."

Characters Involved: 

Anachronism, Apex, Cullen Bloodstone, Cammi, Death Locket, Hazmat, Nico Minoru, Nara, Reptil, Chase Stein, X-23

in flashback:
Anachronism, Cullen Bloodstone, Kid Briton, Nara
Other Braddock Academy students

Story Notes: 

DEAD:  Kid Briton, Mettle, Red Raven

X-23's trigger scent was designed by Laura's handlers to cause her to ignore any moral objections to killing people, including her own mother.

The cover is a homage to John Hughes' The Breakfast Club.

Written By: