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Second Story: Sean McKeever (writer), Mike Mayhew (artist), Rain Beredo (colorist), Dave Lanphear (letterer), Phil Noto (cover artist), Mayela Gutierrez (production), Joe Quesada (editor-in-chief), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)
A confused Firestar and Justice are confronted by versions of themselves wearing their Avengers-era costumes, while everyone else in the city has seemingly vanished. They take on their own counterparts, with Firestar wonders whether her counterpart is just someone who looks like her, but her doppelganger tries to convince her that it is she who is the doppelganger. Justice remarks that he doesn't recall being this unseasoned with his powers, especially as an Avenger, which suddenly gets him confused. The past versions regroup, while the present-day Justice finds Firestar knocked out on a rooftop. They suddenly have a sense of deja vu, and they realize that they were once these two, confronting their own futures, however they don't remember why. The past Firestar and Justice discuss their future selves, and point out how uncomfortable they seem around each other, as if they loathe each other, before referring to someone who wants to trick them, and how they cannot let him. They are suddenly captured by the present Justice who traps them in a metal beam, telekinetically wrapping it around them. The past and present versions argue with each other, which results in the present-day versions having a major bust-up over their break-up, with Justice commenting that Firestar bailed on him because she couldn't commit, to which Firestar reminds him how he said if they couldn't get married immediately then he wanted nothing to do with her. She tells him that she hates him for not being there when she needed him. The present Firestar comments that they were plucked out of the Time-Stream, and the past explains that it was so they would fight each other. The past Justice reveals that it is the other Avengers, too, and they know that they have to stop arguing and start working together to take on the God of Mischief – Loki!
'I wore that? I can't believe I ever wore that!' Vance Astrovik a.k.a. Justice exclaims, wide-eyed as he stares at a version of himself wearing his Avengers-era costume. 'Hey! Look sharp, bozo! The fake olden daysme and you are about to -' Angelica “Firestar” Jones tells her ex-fiancee as she sits up in his arms, but her sentence is interrupted as her Avengers-era double and Justice's both unleash their respective microwave energy blasts and a surge of telekinetic force at the present versions, high above a mysteriously empty city.
'Not terribly formidable, are we?' the past Firestar remarks. 'Well, what do you expect? It's not like they're actually our future -' the past Justice begins, when suddenly the present Justice flies past him and smacks him backwards through the air. 'Vance!' the past Firestar calls out.
'It's cute, you know' the present Firestar tells her doppelganger, sending microwave energy coursing towards her. 'I mean, I don't know what your angle is or who you work for, but it's definitely cute. You even got the microwave blasts down pat' Angelica remarks. 'Oh, is that how this is supposed to work?' the past Firestar asks. 'You're real and I'm the evil doppelganger?' she scoffs, causing the present Firestar to go wide-eyed.
Nearby Justice battles Justice, with the present flying higher to evade a powerful thrust of telekinetic force from his doppelganger. 'I've gotta hand it to you – you really do remind me of me...' Vance comments, before dropping down and slamming his fist into his past version's face, '...but I definitely don't recall being this unseasoned with my telekinesis, especially as... as... as an Avenger? Did I... is this?' Justice's concentration starts to wander as he looks around, while the past Justice, who has fallen onto a rooftop, flies back upwards 'You were saying?' he asks as he slams the present Justice backwards with a powerful punch backed up with telekinesis. The past Justice then flies over to Firestar and asks her 'Where's the other you?' the past Firestar replies 'Granny's taking a nap'. 'Ha. Mine, too. Nice work, Angel' the past Justice grins.
'Angel!' the present Justice exclaims as he drops down beside Firestar, who sits up on the rooftop where she has fallen. Angelica looks at Vance and tells him that the other her tried to make her think she was the fake. 'I almost believed her, too. She can hurt me but I can't -' Firestar begins, to which Vance reminds her that she would have no effect on her double if she is wearing that special suit that Angelica used to wear to keep her own powers from killing her. 'Yeah, but that suit's destroyed. And it's not like everyone in Manhattan up and disappeared except us just so we could fight our past... our...' Angelica begins, before glancing sideways. 'Oh. Oh, wow' she utters. 'So it's not just me. You remember this happening before, too?' Vance asks. Angelica replies that she vaguely remembers it, like deja vu. 'Like a dream. So, those two -' Angelica begins. 'We were them once. Confronting our own futures' Vance points. They fly off side-by-side and Firestar asks Vance if he remembers why. 'Not a clue' he replies.
'Weren't we told we had to defeat our more experienced future selves? Why'd they go down so easily?' the past Firestar asks as she and her Justice speed through the air side-by-side. 'Not a clue' Vance replies, guessing that seeing them caught their future selves off guard. 'Yeah, but they're clearly not us. Could you see me going back to my original costume?' the past Firestar asks. 'Yeah, good point' Vance agrees, adding that when they were watching them, they seemed like they were so uncomfortable together, almost like they had come to loathe each other. 'Well, of course that's how it seemed. They were putting on a show and we were the intended audience' Firestar points out. They land on a rooftop and Firestar tells Vance that it is what their future selves want – to demoralize them by making them confront their cynical and disenchanted “future selves”. 'Maybe... but it seemed so genuine...' Justice remarks. Angelica turns back to him and tells him to think of who this is. 'He wants to trick us. Don't let him'.
Vance tells Angelica that he is being dumb, he knows, but that with the scare over what her powers are doing to her... his voice trails off, before telling Angelica that he doesn't want to lose what they have – he doesn't want to lose her. 'You won't. Not ever' Angelica replies, when suddenly, the present Vance asks 'Were we really that sappy?' as he telekinetically bends a large metal pole around the two, trapping them. 'No!' the past Firestar exclaims. 'It's okay, I can -' the past Vance begins, but the present Firestar approaches them and tells them that before they do anything they need to listen. She tells them that she and Vance have started to remember – not a whole lot, but enough for them to realize that this happened to them, too. 'That is to say -' Angel begins, before Vance interrupts her, 'Oh, for – just... stop. This is gonna take forever for you to explain' he mutters. 'Excuse me?' Angelica asks him. The past Justice frowns and tells the present versions to stop the act. 'We know you're not really us. For one, I would never -' he begins, but the present Justice interrupts: 'Never talk smack about Angel? That's what you were gonna say, right?'
The present Vance steps closer to his doppelganger, looking him directly in the eyes, 'I hear ya, I do. I mean, I am you. I felt the exact same way. But when she bails on you because she decides at the eleventh hour she can't actually commit? You will change your tune'. Angrily, Angelica asks 'That's how you remember our breakup? Because I seem to recall you deciding that if we didn't get married immediately then you wanted nothing to do with me at all!' she shouts, clenching her fists, telling Vance that it was he who bailed, he who quit. 'So you hate me now, right?' Vance asks.
'Because I'm the one who knew what I wanted from life, you hate me!'
Angelica points a finger at him and tells Vance that she doesn't hate him for giving up – she hates him for not being there when she needed him. Vance turns away and hangs his head. 'It's a trick' the past Firestar utters quietly from where she and her Vance are still trapped. '...a trick...' the present Firestar remarks, turning to her past self, 'This was all a trick, wasn't it? He plucked us out of the Time-Stream...' she begins, as her past remarks '...so that we'd fight each other thinking that was the goal...', as the present Firestar concludes '...when he simply wanted us distracted long enough to get what he's really been after all along'.
'What? Who's “he” and why us?' the present Vance asks. His past self replies that it is not just them – it's other Avengers, too. He adds that if the girls are right, then they had better get their heads on straight and work together. 'Because the he they're talking about?' the past Vance begins, before announcing that it is the God of Mischief himself. 'We've gotta take on Loki!' he exclaims, while a large projection of Loki appears over the empty city, grinning and reaching out to grab Firestar and Justice....
Firestar & Justice
The other stories in this issue are:
First Story: Nova in “Like a Streak of Light”
Third Story: Stingray in “The Darkest Depths”
Fourth Story: Hulk in “The Smashy Adventures of the Hulk”
Firestar began wearing a special addition to her costume during the third series of Avengers to prevent her own powers from killing her.