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1st story: Steve Gerber (writer), Al Milgrom (penciler), Don Heck (inker), Gary Fields (letterer), Paul Becton (colorist)
2nd story: Fabian Nicieza (writer), Dan Lawlis (penciler), Keith Williams (inker), Janice Chiang (letterer), Brad Vancata (colorist)
Len Kaminski (managing editor), Mark Gruenwald (editor), Tom DeFaclo (editor-in-chief)
At the quarry, Hawkeye and Mockingbird are concerned for the safety of the Stone Perfs gang members, and try to disperse the gathering – but they're too late, as a chopper arrives and drops bombs into the quarry – blowing up all of the Stone Perfs. Hawkeye and Mockingbird are able to escape on the sky-cycle and chase after the chopper, which Mockingbird climbs into an starts fighting the men inside, eventually sending the chopper crashing to the ground, she is able to escape back onto the sky-cycle. As they watch the chopper burn, they suppose Hawkeye's war with the gang is over. But on the edge of the quarry, the Stone Perf called Prince Charming is still alive, and paints into the ground the “T circle” sign used by the Terminizer to blame this mass murder on the vigilante. He becomes quite disturbed at seeing the human forms of carbon in the quarry – his old friends who he tricked into coming here, only to be slaughtered. Later that night, Hawkeye has reported the incident to Detective Zamora, and tells Mockingbird that he thinks the Terminizer wasn't involved in this – but the only people who could tell them who was responsible are dead in the chopper crash. Lotus Newmark is impressed by Prince Charming's dedication to her, and makes out with him, promising to help him forget about his friends. The next morning, Mockingbird finds Hawkeye on the beach, trying to cope with what has transpired. She tells him to try not looking for some deeper meaning, as there might not be one. Auggie Slater takes Prince Charming to a factory where scientists that work for Lotus are manufacturing drugs, and informs Prince that Lotus wants him to be a part of this. Monica Gutierrez is being released from hospital, so Hawkeye goes to visit her and her children. Hawkeye takes Luis on his sky-cycle and tells him that the Stone Perfs are all dead. Luis asks Hawkeye if he thinks the Terminizer is behind this, to which Hawkeye admits that he isn't sure, but that the Terminizer has plenty to pay for when he finally catches up to him – and Luis looks concerned.
The Xenophobic Man opens fire at USAgent, in the process knocking down a large cross in the church, which collapses over the girl the priest was rescuing. USAgent hurls his shield at the Xenophobic Man, destroying his helmet, then they engage in a fist fight, with the Xenophobic Man boasting that he will bleed and suffer for his causes but that he will come out on top. USAgent finally gets his enemy to stop talking, and is about deliver a fatal blow by shoving his shield into the Xenophobic Man's face, but the priest asks him to stop, as the girl is alive, trapped under the rubble of the cross and needs help. USAgent uses his strength to lift the large cross up, but during this moment, the Xenophobic Man recovers and grabs a weapon – he is about to shoot USAgent, who can't drop the cross or it will crush the girl. He doesn't have to make that choice, as Captain Hitchuck of the Border Patrol arrives and shoots his renegade officer in the back of the head. The killing has come to an end today, but the priest queries what will happen to the refugees he has been looking after tomorrow.
The Korman Quarry in the Mohave Desert, east of Los Angeles, in the dead of night. The gang known as the Stone Perfs, of late the objects of Hawkeye's war against street gangs and the targets of a mysterious assassin called the Terminizer, are meeting in the quarry's conclave. Apprised of the gathering by young Luiz Guitierrez, two uninvited guests – Clint Barton and Bobbi Morse-Barton a.k.a. Hawkeye and Mockingbird, respectively – are watching from a ridge overlooking the quarry. Hawkeye tells Mockingbird that it doesn't look like the Terminizer is going to show, and suggests to her that they provide the entertainment for the party. 'After all, I promised the Perfs I'd stay in their face. Wouldn't want them mistaking me for another underfunded social program' Hawkeye jokes as he and Mockingbird take to the sky-cycle, and Hawkeye fires a sonic arrow down into the gully where the gang is gathered – followed by a smoker arrow, then a flare arrow, and finally, a boomerang. 'Sounds suitably chaotic' Mockingbird mutters.
The sky-cycle swoops low and Hawkeye tells the gang members to pack up the smores and go home, as the campfire night has been cancelled. 'Keep your cornball side in check, Clint. They won't respect that' Mockingbird suggests. 'He's trying to kill us, homes! Punch some holes in him!' one of the Stone Perfs calls out. One of them opens fire, and asks Hawkeye who he thinks he is. 'You think you're allowed to bug anybody you want?' one of the thugs asks. 'Touchy about their civil rights, aren't they?' Hawkeye asks as he pulls the sky-cycle up and away from the gang members. 'Considering they spend most of their time trampling other people's I can't -' Hawkeye begins, before Mockingbird alerts him to a chopper that appears overhead and urges to to make a hard left. 'What the blazes? Who is that?' Hawkeye wonders, pointing out that there aren't any markings on the chopper.
Inside the chopper, two men dressed all in black notice Hawkeye, 'Who's the clown on the flying jet-ski?' one of them asks. 'Who knows? Just dump the studd, and we'll get outta here – before he double backs!' the other suggests, as they push a crate full of bombs out of the chopper, before the chopper turns and flies away, while Hawkeye and Mockingbird narrowly make it out of the gully as the bombs land and explode, sending a huge blast upwards, while Mockingbird gasps: 'Incendiary bombs! A couple hundred pounds of them!' 'And the only thing flammable at the bottom of that quarry...' Hawkeye begins, to which Mockingbird announces that they are all dead. Hawkeye tells her that he knows, and that he is going after the chopper. The sky-cycle appears alongside the chopper, and when he notices Mockingbird climbing from the sky-cycle over into the chopper, 'Are you crazy? What are you doing?' Hawkeye asks. 'I'm not in a sitting mood!' Mockingbird exclaims, she tells Hawkeye that she can get angry, too, and reminds him that the hand-to-hand stuff is her speciality.
Mockingbird startles the two men inside the chopper. 'You have two options. Tell your pilot to land, now. Or -' she begins, before one of the men asks 'Or break your lunatic neck?' as he leaps at Mockingbird, who tells him that he can try, and kicks him backwards, asking him to give her a reason to abandon any semblance of restraint. 'This what you had in mind, babe?' the other masked man asks, raising a gun. 'It'll do' Mockingbird responds, tackling the man by his legs, she asks him what he wants broken first. 'Knees?' she enquires as she crushes his knees, forcing him backwards, while the man opens fire – his bullet blasting through into the cockpit, where it shatters the chopper's controls. 'What the bloody mary's going on back there?' the pilot asks as he gets up and turns to the fight. 'Who is that woman? Where'd she come from?' the pilot asks. His comrade tells him to ask questions later, and to shoot her. 'I've got a better idea – you want to hear it?' Mockingbird jokes as she grabs the arm of the man she is fighting and aims his gun at the pilot, shooting him, and causing him to fall backwards onto the controls, which forces the chopper to take a dive towards the ground.
Hawkeye sees the chopper as it begins its downward spiral, and flies after it, while Mockingbird tells the man she is fighting that if he wants to live, he should crawl to the cockpit. 'I'm leaving the way I came' she announces as she makes her way over to the hatch, then leaps from the chopper, to the sky-cylce which is flying alongside. 'I hope' Mockingbird thinks to herself, narrowly missing the sky-cycle, she grabs the edge of it, and hangs onto it for dear life. 'Bobbi! What in the -' Hawkeye begins, to which Bobbi tells him that she can hang on, and that he needs to climb upwards. 'The chopper's going down!' Mockingbird calls out as Hawkeye brings the sky-cycle up through the air, while the chopper crashes to the ground and explodes beneath them. When it's safe to do so, Mockingbird drops to the ground and Hawkeye lowers the sky-cycle down to the ground. 'What happened up there?' Hawkeye asks. 'What you'd expect. If you're asking whether I caused the crash – not directly, no' Mockingbird replies. She turns away and looks out over the flames, admitting that she is not shedding any tears either, before suggesting to Hawkeye that it looks like his war with the gang is over. 'Yeah' Hawkeye replies, before standing next to Mockingbird and placing an arm around her shoulders, they look out over the burning chopper and Hawkeye wonders where the thrill of victory is.
At the edge of the quarry, Fernando Torres a.k.a. “Prince Charming” emerges from where he was hiding behind a large boulder, and per his employer's instructions, he spray-paints the symbol of the Terminizer – a large “T” within a circle – on the rocky ground. Then, he forces himself to look into the quarry's pit, to see what has become of his friends. He has seen dead bodies before – but these are not bodies. Just mounds of carbon in vaguely human configuration, staring back up at him. Sickened, Prince Charmming turns away. He remembers how he lured his friends here in exchange for business opportunities – a place in Lotus Newmark's organization. He knew what was going to happen – he knew they were going to die – and yet, he did it anyway. In the moment it takes to suppress his nausea, he persuades himself that any one of them would have done the same.
Later, at the Avengers West Compound in Palos Verde, Bobbi is sitting up in bed, reading, and asks Clint if he was able to reach Detective Zamora. 'Yeah. Now ask me if I wish I hadn't' Clint replies, informing Bobbi that Zamora tore his head off for not calling the police before they left the quarry. 'Right – just think – we could have had a squad of dead cops, too' Bobbi replies, before noticing Clint is carrying a glass of beer, and asks him 'Since when do you drink?' Clint sits down on the bed and asks Bobbi to give him a break, as it is a light beer and he isn't planning on doing any driving. He jokes that Evian Water didn't seem to fit the occasion. Bobbi asks if she can have a gulp and Clint hands the glass to her, while stating that tonight he has finally grasped the full meaning of the words “senseless killing”. 'Thirty or forty lives – wiped out in a flash. What kind of person is capable of that?' Clint asks.
'The kind that doesn't come equipped with a conscience. It's a fairly common type these days' Bobbi replies as she hands the glass back to Clint. 'So I'm learning' Clint remarks, before asking Bobbi if it seems unlikely to her that the Terminizer was involved in this. 'Very' Bobbi replies, before she leans into Clint and asks him where a one-man, one-gun operation would suddenly come up with a helicopter henchmen, and a few hundred pounds of napalm. 'No, someone else was behind this – someone a lot more professional' Bobbi suggests. 'And the only guys thatv could tell us who were aboard the chopper' Clint declares. He tells Bobbi that this makes him sick – all these weeks of effort and pain – and the payoff is a mass grave and a dead end.
Meantime, in the Hollywood Hills, Lotus Newmark sits on one end of a sofa and smiles at Prince Charming, telling him that she did well, and that in the long run, it is probably best that Hawkeye survived, as the last thing they want is for the rest of the Avengers to take up his crusade. Prince tells Lotus that he doesn't understand her. 'The chopper goes down in flames, your men die – none of it bugs you?' he asks. Lotus tells Prince that he doesn't comprehend what is at stake, but that once he does, he will understand why she views these losses as part of the cost of doing business. Lotus moves closer to Prince and asks him how he feels about having killed his friends. 'How can you ask – what'm I supposed to -? I don't know!' Prince responds. Lotus tells him that he will be amazed how quickly the guilt vanishes. 'Yeah? How would you know?' Prince asks. Lotus informs Prince that the person she had to kill was her own father – but she got over it. She kisses Prince on his cheek, before pulling him onto her, adding that she didn't even get paid. 'You're trembling!' she remarks, asking Prince if she scares him. 'No... I mean... I don't... you're...' Prince mumbles, while Lotus reminds him that she promised to make him forget his friends. 'I keep my promises' she utters as she kisses him on the lips.
The next morning, Bobbi finds Clint sitting on the shore of the Palos Verde Compound, watching the waves wash against the rocks. 'You okay?' Bobbi asks. 'Yeah. Fine' Clint replies. Bobbi tells him that she missed him being there this morning when she woke up – that she felt lonely. Bobbi asks Clint if she can interest him in breakfast, suggesting that a little nourishment might do him good. 'Maybe later' Clint replies, explaining that he needs some more time to sit and think. Bobbi asks Clint if he is in any mood to deal with advice, or if she should keep her mouth shut. Clint tells Bobbi to go ahead, as he isn't all here, but he will listen. 'Something I used to do when a SHIELD mission fell to pieces...don't search for some great meaning to all of it. There is none' Bobbi offers. 'Instead, find one thing about the experience that worked out favorably – and focus on that. It sounds corny. But it'll give you hope' Bobbi continues, and Clint smiles at her.
At Sunland, California, in the San Fernando Valley, where a car pulls up in front of the factory, inside the car is Prince Charming, and Auggie Slater, one of Lotus' associates. Prince tells Auggie that it doesn't make sense to him, Lotus going to all this trouble just for him. 'First she hurts me, then she helps me, then she pays me, then -!' he begins, before asking if Lotus is loco, and whether he can trust her. Auggie tells Prince that as long as he doesn't cross her, then he can trust her, as Lotus never goes back on her word. They walk towards the factory as Auggie tells Prince 'She probably told you she doesn't need loyalty or trust. The quality she prizes most, in herself, and in others, is reliability' Auggie explains, adding that people do business with Lotus because they know she delivers on her promises. 'She promised you your life was not indanger. People in the organization are aware of that' Auggie adds as he pulls a card from his wallet, slides the card into a slot on the door, and the door to the factory opens.
Auggie tells Prince that if Lotus reneged on her word without an excellent reason, her credibility would suffer, which would be very bad for business – and Lotus never does anything that is bad for business. Inside the factory, scientists are going about their business, as Auggie remarks 'She told you also, I'm sure, how much was at jeopardy in the situation with the Perfs. This is the project she was referring to'. Auggie informs Prince that he is looking at the post-Columbian future – the “Ice Age” of street drugs. He explains that a the trade in cocaine perivatives declines, Lotus is positioning her organization to dominate the West Coast market for synthetic recreational substances – and she wants Prince to be a part of this.
At La Reina Hospital in Downtown Los Angeles, Hawkeye arrives in the room where Monica Gutierrez has been recovering. 'The doctor told me you were being released today. Thought I'd see if you could use a hand with the luggage' Hawkeye remarks. 'This is all of the luggage, Hawkeye. I am sure I can -' Monica begins, pointing at a single suitcase, before Hawkeye motions at Luis, 'What about that 70-pound package on the bed? I could fly it home' Hawkeye smiles. 'What do you say Senor Package? Do you want to go home by air mail?' Monica smiles at her son. 'Yes! Yes!' Luis exclaims excitedly, while his sister, Anita, sits at the other end of the bed.
Hawkeye and Luis walk out into the corridor, and Luis tells Hawkeye that his mama told him that he could take him for this ride, but when the trouble with the Perfs was finally over. 'Did you change your mind? It is not over, is it?' Luis asks. Hawkeye informs Luis that the Perfs are dead – all of them – and that it happened last night. As they take flight on the sky-cycle, Luis asks Hawkeye if he thinks it was the Terminizer who did this. 'Maybe. Maybe not' Hawkeye replies, adding that the Terminizer has plenty to pay for as well, when he finally nails him. 'And believe me – I will' Hawkeye adds, while Luis looks concerned.
John Walker is the USAgent. He is a soldier for his country, and was sent to this church in Quemado, Texas, to stop a psycho who had been killing Mexicans as they illegally crossed the border – but he soon discovered that this “Xenophobic Man” was also a border patrol officer, so his boss, Captain Hitchuck, brought USAgent to this church, which happens to be the front for a sanctuary movement for illegals run by a priest, Father Grass. 'Flip the coin and both siders come up a loser' USAgent thinks to himself, armed with a gun rgat the Xenophobic Man dropped, while the Xenophobic Man stands over one of the Mexican refugees, and the wounded Father Grass, who kneels at the refugee's side. The Xenophobic Man wears a football helmet over his head and aims a pistol at USAgent, warning him to back off. 'I'm doing this for God and country!' he shouts.
'This pig has done enough to spoil both. I'm putting him down – the harder the better!' USAgent thinks to himself as he ducks to avoid the pistol fire, while deciding that he is too used to working with the Avengers, where villains make speeches for an hour before the fighting begins. The bullet from the pistol strikes the cross on the church altar. The Xenophobic Man fires another, and USAgent realizes that they are explosive bullets. 'This guy's nuts. To the point, but nuts' USAgent thinks to himself. 'And a lousy shot, too' he adds as the cross on the altar suddenly falls forward, landing with a massive THROOOM and sending dust billowing up into the church. In the commotion, USAgent drops his gun, but he is worried about the priest and the girl. 'What does it take to kill you?' the Xenophobic Man shouts, firing his pistol again, although USAgent blocks the bullets with his shield. The Xenophobic Man decides that his foe is like a machine, and that he doesn't understand emotion or pain. 'But he can't beat a just man' he decides.
Suddenly, the Xenophobic Man runs out of bullets, while thinking that his foe is an animal, a godless animal. 'I am an America. Keep saying it. Forget the pain-' he thinks to himself, while USAgent shouts 'No more bullets? Good. I hope this hurts!' as he hurls his shield towards the Xenophobic Man, shattering his helmet. USAgent thinks that it is a pity his enemy's helmet kept his head from getting sliced off, and reminds himself that he had been thinking of adding blades to the edges of the shield, just for these sorts of occasions. USAgent thinks that he has to end this now, and leaps towards the Xenophobic Man, who has fallen to the ground. 'How's it feel to be helpless?' USAgent asks, grabbing his foe nu his collar. 'To have your life in someone else's hands?' USAgent asks.
'I – I – I'm a just man!' the Xenophobic Man answers as he kicks USAgent in the stomach, knocking him backwards. 'I'm fighting a just cause!' the Xenophobic Man boasts. He reaches for a blade that is carried on his belt and announces that he can bleed, and suffer for his cause – and that he will still come out on top in the end. 'That's the American way!' the Xenophobic Man exclaims, while USAgent thinks to himself 'I'm an idiot! I'm an idiot!' while getting ready for the Xenophobic Man who lunges forward, waving the blade about. USAgent dodges the attack, 'C'mon! C'mon!' he calls out to his foe, before punching him in his face. 'Show me the American way!' USAgent declares as he throws his foe backwards, causing him to stop his blade. The Xenophobic Man is bleeding and injured. 'No more' he utters. 'You're $#%&^ straight – no more!' USAgent responds as he slams the Xenophobic Man's face into the ground again and again. 'No more crying! No more bleeding! No more killing – no more questioning what's right or wrong, legal or not – just end it...' USAgent calls out, standing over the motionless Xenophobic Man.
'...end it now. End it mean. It's over' the USAgent remarks as he reaches for his shield, thinking that it isn't over, as the Xenophobic Man has killed too many people and caused too much pain. USAgent decides that a trial is only going to cause more problems, as there are too many people who agree with him, sympathize with him and help him. USAgent raises his shield above his head as he stands over the Xenophobic Man – he is about to bring the shield down onto his opponent, when Father Grass emerges from the rubble of the cross and calls out 'Please...stop...the girl'. USAgent turns his attention over to the fallen cross and the rubble and asks if the girl is still alive under there. 'I think...' the priest responds, while the Xenophobic Man opens his eyes. 'I think she is!' USAgent calls out as he starts removing some planks of wood from the rubble. Father Grass asks him to hurry, but although he is incredibly strong, USAgent struggles to lift the very heavy cross – until he positions himself underneath it, and pushes it upwards on his back. 'Get her out – quick!' USAgent exclaims, when suddenly, the Xenophobic Man retrieves his weapon and aims it at USAgent, 'Never count a true American out of the fight' the Xenophobic Man smirks.
USAgent knows that if he drops the cross, then the girl will die – but if he doesn't, then he will die anyway. 'I shoulda killed him when I had the chance' USAgent thinks to himself, while Father Grass turns to the Xenophobic Man and asks him 'Why?' to which the Xenophobic Man answers 'Because I love my country'. An instant later, there is gunfire, and the Xenophobic Man is shot in the head. 'So do I' Captain Hitchuck declares as he appears, aiming the weapon which has gunsmoke seeping from it. 'Is he -?' USAgent asks as he puts the cross down on the ground, away from the girl, who Father Grass lifts to safety. Captain Hitchuck confirms that the Xenophobic Man is dead, and reveals that he has known his parents for ten years, and is not looking forward to telling them.
USAgent didn't think that Hitchuck had this in him, that he thought he was a lazy, indifferent cop – but he was wrong. Father Grass announces that the girl is barely alive, so Hitchuck tells him that they can get her to Quemado Hospital in five minutes. 'What about us?' Father Grass asks. 'What about us?' Hitchuck responds, pointing out that it seems they got what they all wanted – an end to the killing. 'Then what about tomorrow?' Father Grass enquires – but USAgent doesn't have any answers for him.
Hawkeye, Mockingbird (both Avengers West Coast)
Anita, Luis & Monica Gutierrez
Prince Charming and other Stone Perfs
Father Kevin Grass
This story takes place between Avengers West Coast #62 and #63 and after Captain America (1st series) #380-383.