Vol 3 (in outline form, rather than full script or anything. Read the first post for my general rules of play and explanations for this, and of course for the first batch of issues. We'll start here with the next 12 issues, #12-24 (spread over two posts)
I'll post the solicitations again, just to catch people up. As usual, I'm posting solicitations ahead of the
outline much like they'd come ahead of the issues.
Runaways #13 Solicitation
(cover: Karolina holding Klara)
Kids Today, Part One
"Never Trust Adults" may be the Runaways unofficial motto, but how will they deal with things when they're the elders? Meet the Castouts, a new supervillain team, into robbing banks, partying, and causing mayhem... and not one of them has hit sixteen yet.
Runaways #14 Solicitation
(cover: Some of the new characters, the villains in the arc. Dark Reign should still be going on so it'll kind of fit into the theme of villains).
Kids Today, Part Two
They're the Castouts, a new generation of crime. Spiderkid, Electrocutie, Horror Girl, Pwner, Lookout, and Blastwave. But the Runaways know there's somebody higher up pulling the strings. In order to take the power behind the group, they'll have to face the kids again... but this time, they won't be defeated like last time. They'll be beaten even worse.
Runaways #15 Solicitation
(Cover: Klara, finally getting a cover to herself. She's in barkskin mode)
Kids Today, Part Three
Somebody's been giving troubled kids super powers, and setting them loose to commit crimes, and the Runaways have decided to track down the perpetrators. And to do that, their newest and youngest member must go on an undercover mission... inside the gang itself!
Runaways #16 Solicitation
(cover: Xavin, generic pose)
Kids Today, Part Four
Klara undercover! After getting her way into the gang, Klara goes on her first mission. But will a life of crime stick with Klara, turning her into... DARK KLARA?! Probably not. But read anyway.
And now onto the first of the outlines!
Runaways #13 Outline:
"Kids Today: Part One"
We start off in the new TARDIS-like Hostel. Victor and Chase together, exploring and chatting. Maybe a comment about having been there a few days and still haven't seen the whole place. Chase opens a locked room with his palmprint, and they discover what looks like a lab... containing one of Gert's parents time travel machines. It looks broken. They speculate how it got there, and Victor suggests he ask his parents. Chase says no. He asked the Leapfrog to leave them incommunicado except for an hour every other weekend, because he doesn't want them trying to get into anybody's heads. Considering they're not exactly enduring hardship in their virtual world, he thinks talking to them any more than that would be letting them off too easy. I should note that Old Lace is bigger than she was before, about the size of a large dog, showing she's regrowing slowly. This is not terribly important to the plot, just for continuity's sake.
They're interrupted by an intercom. It's Nico, saying she's getting worried about Klara. It turns out, Klara's been sick, and it's getting worse. They decide to take her to the hospital. While getting her into the Leapfrog, they discuss briefly how they're going to handle it - they don't have insurance, they don't have ID.
At the hospital, they hear a big collapse and people screaming from a nearby building. Molly, who's a bit uncomfortable about going into the hospital (and expressed it earlier), wants to go investigate it. They tell her no, but she runs off anyway. Chase follows to watch out for her. The others decide to follow, in case it's bigger than the other two can handle on their own, and thinking that Karolina might be the only person who could pass as a relative, they let her take Klara in, promising to keep in touch on the cell phone (which now most of them have because it'd be dumb not to).
In the hospital, Karolina keeps getting told she has to wait. Klara, weakly, starts to turn into her barkskin form, which freaks people out and changes things. They tell her they're going to call Doctor Conway.
At the nearby building, the rest of the Runaways stumble onto a robbery attempt, lead by several super powered villains. However, they're all kids, none older than 15. They're breaking into a medical research building.
Just for the ease of the outline, I'm going to introduce the members of the gang all at once, and some of their main characteristics, powers, and history, even though they'll be revealed over the course of the whole arc. (I'll also say upfront, most of the names are tentative... I generally hate any name I come up with, but I need something to call them so we'll go with them. Also, they're kids, the names they choose for themselves are supposed to
Pwner: Maybe named Tommy. 14 years old. Power is simple: any energy attack, and to a certain point physical attacks too, rebound on the attacker. Cocky, arrogant, a bit of a jerk. Ran away from an abusive home, got powers. He's something of the leader of the group.
Spider-Kid: Charlie Beck, an African-American by of around 14. Race is only important because his name and powers are an echo of a DP7 character - I might have him at some point refer to an Aunt Charlotte in Wisconsin as being his only family, to make it complete. In any event, his powers aren't really spider-related at all, but he can create a field with varying stickiness or slickness, allowing him to walk on walls much like Spider-Man, or create an area where everybody's stuck to the ground, and perhaps has some general strength and durability increase. He wears a simple spider-like mask, more like black-costume Spider-Man. Or maybe one of those hoodies they make that you can zip up most of the way and it's like a terminator or skeleton, but in this case, Spider-man. (Spider-Hood is another possible-name, since "hood" has two possible meanings).
Electrocutie: Girl, about 13 years old. One of those girls who dress inappropriately provocatively, or maybe one of the current teen styles (Scene, Emo, whatever's out there now I'm not all that plugged in, and it's where an artist would help anyway). She claims she's the (illegitimate) daughter of Electro, the Spider-Man villain. Her mother had an on-again-off-again relationship with him when he first developed his powers, and got pregnant by him from an in-jail conjugal visit. She has electrical powers, electrical blasts and the ability to control machines (on a gross physical level, not hacking electronics but she could make an ATM spit out cash). She can also turn herself completely to electricity and travel along conductive surfaces. She is a bit of an attention-hog, flirty, and is dating Pwner. No sexual-abuse related origin despite her flirtiness and on-the-streetitude, just perhaps a case of "never got fatherly attention growing up and so now acts out to get it"
Lookout: The second youngest on the team, 11 or 12, a young arabic boy named Noor. I only mention his race because later it'll be revealed he has some connections that are important, but I won't get into them now. Serious, generally more level-headed than the others. His powers are mental in nature, mostly focusing on clairavoyance and clairaudience - seeing or hearing at a distance. Limited telepathy, but it hurts. Parents were mutants who lost their powers in M-Day - he was expected to be a mutant but didn't develop his powers prior to M-Day and gained them artificially afterwards. Name is tentative. If I were _actually_ writing this up as opposed to outlines, I'd do my due diligince, determine what area he came from and thus an appropriate name for that area and what language he speaks in addition to English (he may speak Farsi as opposed to Arabic, etc), but since I'm not we'll just go with Arabic to simplify, and Noor for the name (because I like the BBC Survivors revamp and I misremembered the kid's name as Noor, then found it actually is an Arabic name which means Light, and anytime I tried another name I kept typing Noor by mistake).
Horror Girl: Youngest of the group, perhaps 9 or 10. Hispanic, perhaps, but I'm not set to it. Her parents were murdered and she was used in a magical ceremony that bound her to one of those Lovecraftian Elder Horrors. She's the team WMD. If all else goes to hell, they activate Horror Girl and she becomes a tentacle-beast taking up several city blocks.
Blastwave: Generic energy projection powers (problably heavy concussive force).
Maybe a couple other background characters (to tie up the Runaways in battle), but these are the main ones.
At the hospital, Conway talks about how he's the hospital's expert in metahuman medicine. He also recognizes Karolina, having been a fan of her parents acting. While looking Klara over, he asks Karolina what she (Klara) is, if she's a mutant, alien, or some kind of plant being. Karolina admits she doesn't know, that she might be a mutant. She also tells him she's from 1906, brought here through time travel.
Doctor Conway realizes that, if she's from 1906, she might not have any resistance to the more common viruses that have evolved in the last century. She could have something like the flu, just a very mild strain that isn't making anybody else sick. He says he can get her some antivirals and watch her just to be safe. He also suggests there are two big problems: The first is how she's going to pay. The second? He has to report all metahumans to the authorities. Karolina says she'd rather not have that happen. Conway suggests he has an arrangement.
Back to the fight. Electrocutie realizes that she can take control of Victor... body only, not mind. She, giggly, starts to make him strip, but Pwner and Spider-Kid stop her before his dignity is completely destroyed, giving "Man, we don't need to see that!" type comments. Nico then takes out her concentration with a spell.
The arrangement, we learn, is that he wants a sample of Karolina's blood. He doesn't have any nefarious plans for it, but he's aware that she's an alien, and xenobiology is big business. He'd like some for experimental purposes. He's willing to treat her for free and covertly, for a sample of Karolina's blood each visit. She agrees.
Some cutting back and forth to the battle, which I'll leave a little vague in specifics, but the group is after a specific item even though none of them know why. They've been sent to collect it by "The Man". It looks like the Runaways might be winning, but the one of the Castouts calls out to the Horror. The little girl begins growing tentacles which start spreading everywhere, and freaking everybody out.
Karolina has done drawing blood. Conway tells her about how, back before the mutant population crashed, he was in demand as a mutant doctor. One of his patients had plant powers, and exposure to intense sunlight kick-started a healing factor. Karolina realizes that Klara's been indoors a lot this last week. She lights up and waves a hand over Klara.
Another shot of the fight of course. Due in part to the Runaways pulling their punches, and in part due to Horror GIrl filling up the whole hospital area with tentacles, the kids manage to get away with what they want.
Klara is better. Still sick, but well enough that Karolina's comfortable taking her home. She meets the other Runaways, done from the fight, but not very successfully. Molly admits, when asked by Chase, that she didn't want to go to the hospital, because her dad worked in it. When they ask how she paid for it, she tells them that the Doctor was a big fan of a show her parents were on and made it a freebee, then asks how things went with the explosion. Chase says they were just kids, but Nico takes offense: They're not just kids. There are adults who are using them to commit crimes. And they're going to put a stop to it.
Runaways #17 Solicitation:
(cover: The Castouts ganging up on Klara)
Kids Today, Conclusion
Exposed! Klara's cover among the Castouts is blown, and the mission... and her life, are both in jeopardy! But will some unexpected help salvage everything, or is it too late? One thing's for sure... the group will be losing a member! A Bold New Era Begins!
Runaways #14 Outline:
"Kids Today, Part Two"
We start off with Victor and Chase sitting in a room in the new hostel. It's a big room, with two huge garage-door style doors, and two normal sized doors. They're speculating, about whether there's a way to get the Leapfrog inside the facility, since they've got doors that fit it but no way to open them. Chase mentions he was thinking of taking the shed entrance and just putting it inside the Leapfrog.
Xavin interrupts them, asks what they're doing. When they explain, Xavin moves to two pillar type things aside the doors. Xavin says they think they know what those are ... paired teleportation gateways. The Gogard, an alien race, use things like them. You send out one and activate it and it opens a doorway to the other. So, Chase figures out, they can build doors to several different places at once. It's almost time for his visitation with his parents, so he'll ask him how they work. Xavin then asks Chase if he would be interested in playing a game later because they found a combat strategy game on the Internet that looked interesting.
Victor is all over that, willing to play, but Xavin puts off the suggestion, saying that winning against a machine is no feat, for all it means is they've been programmed better. So we get a little arguement, with Victor insisting he's just like an ordinary person, he has memories and everything, and Xavin, although never being angry or all out violent, being a little patronizing and disbelieving about Vic having a 'real' mind at all, and calls him a security threat because of the amount of times he's been taken over. Chase calls Xavin on their 'racism', tells them people are getting pretty sick of it, especially since they all protected them when people wanted to dissect them just because of their Skrull origin. Maybe threatens to lock them out of the new Hostel's guest parameters (just to establish that he can). Xavin apologizes, and tells Victor that Nico wanted him, she's in the game room. Victor leaves, and maybe Xavin and Chase get a bit more conversation on the topic. (Maybe Chase reminding them that skrulls are supposed to be good at pretending to be something they're not. "Try acting like a decent human being.")
We see Nico, who's looking over a computer screen. When Victor announces himself, she rants. "Look at this. She actually FRIENDED me. The nerve." "Who?" "That electric girl, from the kiddy gang we fought last week." She gleefully talks about how that was a big mistake, and that, now that they know her account, she wants Victor to hack in. He reminds her that he's not a magic hacker unless he actually plugs himself in, and the last time he did that, it didn't work out so well. Plugging into both Steintech AND the Internet is asking for trouble. He promises to try a more conventional route, though. We get a bit more exposition about why Nico wants to take them down (Because she thinks they're being used, manipulated, just like Alex did them). And according to the news, there are at least 3 gangs of superpowered adolescents committing crimes. Somebody's powering up kids and turning them into criminals. She thinks if they can find the cause of it, the kids will probably peter out on their own. "But what are we going to do when we find them? Threaten to take them home to their parents? Beat them up until they tell us who they work for?" Nico suggests going to Xavin, they're the one with tactical training.
Cut to Molly and Klara and Karolina. Klara is receiving a sunlight treatment, from Karolina, while Molly talks and plays with Old Lace. Molly wonders why they have fake windows with fake sunlight instead of just having a real window. Enter Nico, Xavin, and Victor. They have an idea. We skip what the idea is, probably, and just have Karolina's reaction. She's against it, Klara's too young. Xavin points out that she's the same age as Molly, and they let her fight crime, and that Klara is more serious and mature than most hatchlings (pointing out that she's the only one who cleans the hostel on her own, despite the hostel being self-cleaning), even more than some of the others here, and she won't be alone. Nico points out that they're only going to do the idea if Klara wants to, if she has any doubts at all, they'll find another plan. Klara says she wishes to, if it will help the kids from being used. Of course, all of it's for nothing since they still have to find her first, but Xavin will help Klara prepare.
Time passes, some indeterminate amount of time (but at least long enough for a clothing change, so at least a day). Victor announces he's got something. "Have you hacked in?" "No. But Electrocutie just updated her status line on FaceSpace." It reads: Going out for jewelry. Something shiny, and with diamonds. And, he reasons, they're probably not going to go and buy. So they pile in the leapfrog and wait for a jewelry store robbery to come on the police scanner.
Next we see the Castouts robbing a store. The Runaways appear, or at least some of them do. Xavin and Klara are both absent. Victor's in the leapfrog. This time, the Runaways are more prepared and effective. Nico casts a 'superball' spell that encases Electrocutie and Horror Girl both in a rubber sphere. Chase just grabs Pwner and holds him as a human shield, reasoning that holding him doesn't count as hurting him. This way, they take out the energy projector, who accidentally hits Pwner.
Then Klara shows up, dressed in something closer to street clothes than she would normally wear. She shouts something like, "Let them go, they're just kids!" and she uses her plant powers. The Leapfrog's overrun, Nico's caught in thick wood branches and can't hold her staff, Molly's hit by a vine and goes down (faking it perhaps a bit too obviously). The Outcasts gather themselves (including Lookout who they're angry at beacause he didn't see them coming. He counters that they told him to watch for cops, not people from the sky), they burst Electrocutie from her bubble, and runs. Klara follows after... at first Spider-Kid makes her stick on the ground, but she begs them to take her with them, the cops will arrest her for helping. Lookout agrees that she did help, so they tell her to come along.
Shortly after the Outcasts are gone (piling into an SUV and driving off), the Runaways try to rescue themselves from the plant overload... Leapfrog uses lasers, chase uses fistigons, Molly rips them apart, Karolina solar blasts, etc. Victor communicates from the Leapfrog and asks Xavin to remind Klara to shrink her plants. Xavin answers that Klara's inside a van, and they're riding on top (invisibly). Victor starts hearing sirens and tells everybody that they better get the leapfrog free quickly, or they're going to be the ones arrested. We end on that note.
Runaways #18 Solicitation:
(cover: Molly and Wolverine, a San Francisco backdrop)
Origins, Part One
Molly's been psychically invited to San Francisco, a sanctuary for mutants. And she wants to introduce them to the world's newest mutant, and get some help for her powers! But is Klara a mutant at all? In this arc, you will learn the source of Klara's powers, and some surprising details about the origins of others. Guest starring
Wolverine and other X-Men!
Runaways #15 Outline:
"Kids Today, Part Three"
We begin with where we left off. The Runaways may be free, but the Leapfrog is still ensnared in branches, and the police are coming. Nico asks Karolina to stall the police for a while, which she does using her glowing shield (all while complaining that she knew this was a bad idea). Nico doesn't want to cast just a plant-killing sell in case they need it later. She gets an idea and casts a "Woodworking" spell which transforms all the tree limbs into furniture, wooden knick knacks, etc. They load aboard the Leapfrog, Karolina coming in mid-air, and cloak. Victor turns on Xavin's spycam and they're following the gang back to their home.
Inside the van, the Castouts question Klara a little. She denies being part of one of the other gangs, and when they ask her about her powers she says she could do it as long as she remembers. They speculate that she's a mutant, or maybe the daughter of somebody like Plant-Man. Pwner asks Noor if they're being followed, and he reports that the superheroes left and the police haven't found them. So, they pull over and tell Klara that they're safe enough, she can get out.
She gives them a sob story that she has nowhere else to go, that her parents are gone and she was sent to live with somebody else but he hurt her, etc. They give in and decide to take her along. Their base is what looks like a storage facility on the outside but on the inside is quite nice, like somebody tore down the walls between a bunch of storage cubicles and built up new ones, and even dug underground. There's a power generator (running on unstable molecules). There are video games everywhere, electronics, pretty much a teenager's dream. There's also a fair bit of booze, which some of the team are partaking in despite being way too underage. The team introduces themselves and they get more information (one of the team is sent to ditch the car and pick up some fast food). We see that Xavin is there too, invisibly, following along, which we see by checking back to the Leapfrog, where everyone else's following and watching on a spy camera. Victor's providing instructions about what to look at, etc.
Electrocutie takes Klara to the girls room and Klara tries to pump her for information a little, but it's clear she doesn't know much - they do jobs for the person who set their hideout out from time to time but they're left alone mostly. Horror Girl is also there but doesn't seem to like Klara. At some point Electrocutie leaves for a few minutes (to get the food) and Horror Girl makes subtle and not-so-subtle threats to Klara.
Finally Pwner comes in with a vial of liquid, and he tells her, it's the rules. Everybody has to take the power juice if they want to stay. Electrocutie promises it's not so bad, that before she took it she could just shock people, and now her powers are much stronger, and most of the rest of the gang had no powers at all before they took it. Klara asks to think about it, and Pwner says okay, but they have to see her drink it. They leave her alone. Victor tells Xavin over the cam that they can't let her drink that, abort if they have to, but we next see Klara coming out of her room, taking the vial, and seeming to drink it. Then she turns into her barkskin mode. Pwner is pleased, and then tells everybody to get ready - they're going out again in an hour. The Man's got something else they want to steal.
Runaways #19 Solicitation:
(cover: Pixie and Klara)
Origins, Part Two
The jury's still out on Klara, but Molly is definitely a mutant. And the x-Men have offered her a place at their new institute. But will they take no for an answer? Will new friends come to blows? And the truth about the origins of more than one Runaway is revealed!
Runaways #16 Outline:
"Kids Today, Part Four"
We start off with Xavin, in a private part of the Castouts hideout, talking with Klara and, over the radio, Victor.
Xavin wants to let Klara go on the mission alone, followed by the Runaways in the cloaked Leapfrog. That'll leave Xavin free to investigate the hideout for any clues. The rest of the Runaways are against this, wanting Xavin to be there to make sure everything is safe for Klara. Klara is okay going alone, and, we learn, that she was the one who came up with the idea to pretend her barkskin was the Power Juice - Xavin put a force field over the top of the vial while Klara pretended to drink it, and then made the contents invisible. Xavin still has the vial in his hands as they speak. Xavin actually respects Klara's cunning a great deal. They're overruled, though. So they go out on the mission, we get a bit more character development for the Castouts. Noor seems protective of Klara, suggesting she wait outside with him, but Pwner says since she's one of them now, she's gotta start earning her keep, and the fact that she looks like a freak will scare the normals.
In the Leapfrog, Molly's all excited that they'll get another chance to fight, but Nico disappoints her - they're not fighting this time, not unless it gets really dangerous. They're letting the robbery happen so they can find out where they're going.
The target is a bank, but more specifically, something that's in a safe deposit box. So the Outcasts breeze in, do the whole hostage situation. Making threatening motions but mostly just stalling while a couple of them break into the safe deposit boxes. Klara is at front, making some of the plants in the bank restrain people. Someone does pull a gun and fires it directly at Klara, but we see Xavin has put a force field up just in time so it bounces off her. The rest of the Castouts just think its her 'tough skin'. Spider-Kid sticks the guard to the floor and they start beating him, until Klara demands they stop, because he didn't hurt her. Finally, the crew going after the box return with what they want (and a few others take wads of money), and they flee, hop into a getaway car where Noor's waiting, and return to base.
There, they go their separate ways, a few people go to bed. Klara talks to Xavin and the others a bit through relay, and Xavin admits reluctantly that Victor was right, if she had left Klara alone she might have died.
Suddenly, Noor comes rushing in, speaking quietly. It's dark, so Xavin has time to turn invisible again. Noor tells Klara that the Man was watching the security footage, and that somehow he knew she was a spy. The others are deciding what to do about her, and he thinks they're going to make an example of her. He had to warn her because he doesn't want to hurt anybody.
The issue ends with the rest of the Castouts coming into her room, Pwner holding the gun ready. "Well. Looks like we don't just have a spy. We have a traitor, too."
Runaways #20 Solicitation:
(Cover: Group shot of most of the Runaways, backs turned to each other)
A Little Help from My Friends, Part One
When everybody's locked out of the new Hostel for a day, the group splits up for some alone time. Some visit some old friends. Others catch up on time for romance. And Molly's Arch-Friemesis returns, and just in time, because a crime wave's about to hit the city!
Runaways #17 Outline:
"Kids Today, Conclusion"
Noor protests that he didn't want to go against the group, but they were talking about killing her, and he could not allow that. Pwner says he can't allow someone to get away with betraying them. He raises the gun. Xavin of course appears and knocks it out of his hand. They put up a force field and tell the other two to stay behind them, then tells Victor over coms that reinforcements would be appreciated. Pwner orders Electrocutie and Blastwave to keep hitting the shield until it goes down, and they begin an assault, which starts to stress Xavin out.
I'd like this to be a bit of a time for Xavin to show off their tactical skill. They're probably a little cocky about their ability to handle untrained children, too, but I'd like it to be rightfully so. Unfortunately action's not one of my strongest suits. The best I can think of is that Xavin tells them to stop firing at the shield, or they'll kill their leader. They laugh it off, pointing out anything they do to him will bounce right back. Xavin says "I'm not doing anything, except keeping the air from him." They see Pwner gasping and scrabbling at the force field around his own head. Electrocutie stops first, and hits Blastwave until he stops too, almost crying to let him go. Xavin releases Pwner's head, who insists "the girl" wouldn't kill him, they're superheroes. Heroes don't kill.
Xavin smiles. "You may see a girl, but I'm a skrull soldier. Soldiers kill in battle." Noor intervenes, pleading that they can just let the two go and find a new place.
Pwner: And what about you? Cause if you stay here, Noor, you're dead.
Noor: I just didn't want anybody to get hurt.
Pwner: These guys aren't here out of curiosity. They're here to take us down.
Xavin say they're all just there to take down the person funding them, the one giving them drugs, but Pwner sees it as the same thing. "Unless you'd like to run out of air again, you'll get out of our way." Pwner orders Blastwave to 'make a hole'. One blast does it, and Xavin pushes Klara in that direction. She grabs Noor's hand and takes him, while Xavin puts out a layer of fire to cover the exit. Then Xavin turns and runs, only to find themself slipping on the ground and landing flat on their face, thanks to SpiderKid's powers. They're stuck there. Outside, and a little ahead, Noor and Klara run into Horror Girl. She starts talking about how she knew Klara was bad, that she would destroy their family and everything was ruined and its all her fault. She starts changing into the horrible cthulhoid beast again.
The Castouts start to surround Xavin menacingly, but the rest of the Runaways arrive just then. Some help Klara and Noor escape Horror Girl's tentacles, the rest rescue Xavin, mostly by causing the other Castouts to scatter, fearing the cops.
The Runaways get together in the leapfrog, discussing what to do next. The mission seems to have been wasted, and they've got a tag-along. They ask if he knows anything about their benefactor. He claims not to know much. Pwner usually makes the deliveries on his own, and picks up the Mutant Growth Hormone. But he says he can find him. His power is that he can see things at a distance. He can watch Pwner wherever he goes. He'll do it if they let Pwner go free. He helped Noor when he was first on the street, and Noor is in his debt, no matter how things ended.
Nico says that okay, he can help them, they'll let Pwner get away. Then they'll find something to do with Noor, take him to his parents. Noor says he has no parents. His parents were mutants. When they lost their powers on M-day, they didn't see any reason to live anymore. He lived with a foster family, but he had to leave. Klara speaks up and insists that they'll take him and he can live with them, just like they took her in. The others are a little more skeptical, but don't want to say no.
We skip ahead to after Pwner meets his 'boss'. It's in a parking garage. They let Pwner leave and then confront the other, inside a car, when he pulls out. He's remarkably easy to take down, a fairly unimpressive man (and Molly even remarks that she was sure it would be somebody they've seen before). Victor crushes the car around him to contain him.
They take the box Pwner gave him, and ask a few basic questions. He claims to be selling the drugs to get kids to steal things to sell on the black market. The safe deposit box box has what looks like a finger in it. Nico suspects it's magic, and they 'confiscate' it. They get the Leapfrog to post his confession to a video sharing site, and noticing he's got a lot of illegal power boosting drugs on him, calls the authorities, and then leaves.
On the way back, Victor announces that he's heard on the police band that they just picked him up. Karolina tells Klara it's okay to turn back to her human form again. She realizes with some alarm that she can't. Everybody's shocked. Xavin says a word in their own language, one they was about to say way back in issue #7 while explaining something about Skrull beliefs before they got interrupted. (For the word itself, I'm going with K'zara for now). It'll come into play again many issues down the line. ;) Karolina says that Klara's inability to change is probably just temporary, due to stress, and she should try again in the morning.
As they return to the hostel, Klara, seemingly over the fear of being stuck in barkform, and Molly, eagerly go to show Noor their base. Xavin and Karolina have a moment.
Xavin: We seem to be collecting children. Karolina: I know.
Xavin: It can't keep going this way.
Karolina: Oh, Xavin. You're skrull. If there's one thing you should know it's that nothing stays the same.
She kisses them and then leaves. Xavin looks down and we see that they still have the vial of mutation-juice that Klara pretended to drink.
But we close with this. Some day or two later (clothes change), Noor is sitting outside the leapfrog, watching as Chase, Victor, and Xavin all collaborate in trying to fit the maintenance-shed entrance to the new hostel, INSIDE the Leapfrog. Maybe some cuteness with Molly poking her head through the door while it's being lifted, and shouting orders about which way to turn. Noor looks to be watching, but we focus in on his eyes, and we get a telepathic word bubble.
Several actually, two different colors. 1: "I though you should know. They are moving the entrance to their home."
2: "Your diligence is appreciated, but we need not know every detail."
1: "It is no trouble. I miss..."
2: "I am busy. We are not ready, and there still is much to do. You know what you must do. When the time is right, we will call on you."
1: "Yes, father."
2: "You're a good son, Noor."
Runaways #21 Solicitation:
(cover: Molly, Klara (in Barkform), and Katie Power, and a fourth figure. Katie's cloud form obscures the fourth figure's face. They're all dressed in Power Pack style uniforms, which doesn't happen in the issue but I think it'd be fun. Molly's costume is pink, and has the symbol of a fist punching somebody (and she does have a hat still of course). Klara's is green and has a stylized tree symbol. Katie's in cloud form of course so not really in a costume, and the fourth's is purple, symbol obscured along with the face.).
A Little Help from my Friends, Part Two
Introducing the all-new, all-different, all-girllific Power Pack! Katie Power, Klara Prast, and Molly Hayes have teamed up before, but who will become the fourth member of this impromptu team? The answer might surprise you. And it'll sure surprise Molly and Klara!
Runaways #18 Outline:
(continuity note. Technically, this will probably be set before the Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men crossover Utopia, even though it'll be published towards the end of it. Since I'm writing in advance and can't see the future (yet), it's kind of unavoidable).
We start with Molly in the Hostel. She makes herself some cereal, ten walks to the entrance, out the door, which is now in the leapfrog, then up to the deck, where Chase is driving. "Are we there yet?" He tells her almost, and asks where Klara is. She says she's showing Noor her garden. Chase says to go get her, because they'll be landing soon. We see through the Leapfrog's screen some iconic San Francisco sight, probably the Golden Gate bridge.
Next we see Molly at the Garden in the Off The Map town (There's a large, leapfrog-sized portal set up at a nearby building, that leads to the hostel). She tells Klara that they're going to see the X-Men, that they know all about mutants, and they'll find a way to make her look normal again. Klara says she has gotten used to it and it would not be so bad if not for the stares when they go in public. Noor suggests that he does not care to meet the X-Men and would rather stay in the hostel, but Molly drags him along.
As they land, Nico reminds them that they're only staying long enough to get help for Klara, and then they're leaving. No sticking around longer than they have to. Klara worries at such a reacton, and asks if they do not trust mutants. "Mutants are fine. We don't trust adults. And adult superheroes are usually more trouble than help.."
They pile out of the Leapfrog, on the X-Men's SF base's lawn. The X-Men are understandably a little jumpy at the leapfrog suddenly appearing, and lots of mutants on hand is in force, but soon relax, except Wolverine, who grumbles a little about Molly being there. We cut to inside the mansion, where they're in the guest room, explaining the situation. Emma says matter-of-factly that Klara is not a mutant, citing that if a new, previously unknown mutant had appeared since M-Day, every alarm in the place would have gone off. "But what if one of her powers is that you can't sense her." Beast suggests that it wouldn't hurt to do some tests, just in case. He also notices Noor, who is doing his best to behind the older Runaways. They ask about him, and Molly speaks for him, rather bluntly - his parents were mutants but they're dead now, and somebody gave him power-up juice. But the X-Men are aware of the MGH case. When Cyclops asks who his parents were.
"You wouldn't know them, sir."
"I know a lot of mutants."
"They took great pains to avoid anyone connected to the X-Men."
When they ask why, Noor claims not to know. Emma says, "well, that's clearly a lie" and attempts to read his mind.
This causes a nosebleed in Noor and great pain until Scott tells her to stop. "His family life is none of our business. If he wants to tell us, he will."
They get a brief tour. Victor's particularly fanboyish. The X-Men offer their hospitality while they try to do what they can for Klara. As Beast is ready to take Klara into the lab, Cyclops suggests that perhaps Wolverine would like to lead them in a session in the Danger Room.
Wolverine says he's going into the city, he has to meet a contact in the Mission District. Molly assumes, aloud, that he just doesn't want to face her in combat again, because he totally got beaten when they were in New York. Victor wants to see some of San Francisco and asks if he could get a lift, because Nico wanted to leave the Leapfrog here, "just in case". Noor eagerly jumps in that he would like to come, and Xavin admits they'd like to go too. Wolverine seems less than thrilled with the prospect, so Cyclops volunteers Wolverine to give them a lift, since he'll be busy running the danger room. Nico, not wanting to waste any spells in a training scenario, goes to keep Klara company instead of participating. The others go in eagerly.
Wolverine must deal with a lot of fanboyish questions from Victor, about his past, about the other Wolverine that's running around with Osborne's Avengers, about the fastball special, about who's the toughest mutant he's ever fought, etc. This irritates wolverine and finally he lets them out and speeds off.
We get our action quotient for the issue with a danger room scene. Chase, Old Lace, Molly, and Karolina, against some of the younger X-Men kids. I'm thinking Santo, Anole, Mercury, and Pixie. It's not a direct combat scenario, it's more of a 'competetive task', fighting robots and holo-opponents to reach a goal first.
In San Francisco, Noor, not knowing much about SF except the bridge, asks Victor what he wanted to see. Victor says he remembers coming to San Francisco, specifically The Mission District with his mom when he was a kid... he knows the memory is probably fake, but he wanted to see if he remembered anything. Unfortunately he can't tell if the neighborhood's changed too much, or if the memory wasn't based on reality at all. Noor asks Xavin, who seems rather uninterested in anything particular, so Victor asks why did they want to come along, if it was because they and Karolina were having trouble. "I came to keep an eye on you." "What?" "You turned down a chance to play with the X-Men to go siteseeing. The last time you started acting strangely, you were taken over and attacked us." Victor's of course annoyed, that they just jumped to that conclusion. Xavin points out that in the time they've known him, he's been compromised three times. They were just being prudent. "Of course, after seeing your reaction to Wolverine, this man-crush, I needn't have worried. You're clearly yourself." Victor fumes a little, but Xavin continues, "However, now that we're here, I'm interested in seeing the Castro. Do you know it's a prominent gay neighborhood?" "Uh... yes." We get a little of Xavin being admittedly a little naive on various gay issues still, because on their world homosexuality is at once more and less accepted than Earth. Usually if somebody finds they're attracted to the same gender, they change in order to find a mate. It's rare, but usually accepted and rarely commented on. But keeping your outer gender and still being attracted to others is usually considered failure to adapt to mates, and cause for ostracism. At Xavin's wedding ceremony with Karolina, Xavin would have been a male. It was only in private they would have been a female, to please Karolina. "I didn't know that." "It's still a sore spot. Not that it matters. I'm female now, and there's no going back."
Just then they're interrupted by a newcomer, who identifies all of them by name, first Xavin, Victor, then Noor. She then says, "My name is X'ian Coy Minh. I've been looking for you." Instead of a normal reaction though, Noor freaks the hell out, screams, "No!" and runs down the street, and into a crowd.
More action as the NXM/Runaways competition comes to an end. I imagine the NXM would win, but it's a friendly loss, with Chase wanting to play them in Lacrosse as a rematch.
Emma and Cyclops, while watching the danger room session, talk about how she seems to be pretty good for someone so young. "She leads a dangerous life. Maybe too dangerous."
"We discussed this the last time we tangled with them, Scott."
"Maybe it's time we re-evaluated. There's too few mutants to just leave her to fend for herself with a bunch of other kids. The Purifiers are more of a threat than ever. And the girl's not even in school. Here, she'll at least get an education."
"They're not going to take it well."
"I know. But they're on our turf now."
Beast enters, saying that he's done his tests on Klara. "Well, Hank? Is she a mutant?"
But of course, we don't answer, we instead go back to San Francisco. Xavin catches up with Noor, who's still in a panic, by flying overhead in fire mode and then uses a force field to a contain him. They try to get him to calm down, but he's babbling. "My father he told me, he must never find us. We must hide completely. I told you I did not wish to meet the X-Men. He might pull me from their mind, and hunt me down like father always warned."
"Who? Who are you so worried about?"
"Amouhl Farouk. He is the greatest monster in Earth's history. And X'ian Coy Minh, the mutant, was one of his vessels. You heard her. She was looking for me. Please, Xavin, you must hide me from him."
"Who? Amouhl Farouk? I've never heard of him."
X'ian and Victor arrive then, having overheard part of this, and Xi'an supplies... "The Shadow King"
To be continued!
Runaways #22 Solicitation:
(Cover: Xavin and Karolina having a candlelight dinner. Karolina's all glowy of course)
A Little Help from My Friends, Part Three
Xavin and Karolina's date is interrupted as they go looking for Molly. Victor and Noor find out that Victor's old friend Jorge is having some troubles. And you won't believe what Chase is up to, and who he's up to it with!
Runaways #19 Outline:
We start off in the city again. Xi'an tells Noor that she threw off the Shadow King's influence long ago, and that he's currently trapped on the Astral Plane. She was only looking for them because she was in the area and the X-Men sent her to help as a tour guide. Noor doesn't think it matters, because now if the Shadow King touches her mind again he will rip the knowledge from her and know where to look for him. From here, we get the story that his father was the son of the Shadow King and a woman he kept in servitude. Amouhl was cold to his son, but his son loved him, until his own telepathic powers emerged and he learned the truth - that Amouhl had him born specifically to destroy his mind and take over his body, as he had done many times before. His father fled, changing his name and living in several different countries, and still spent his life running from agents of the Shadow King and obsessively keeping track of his activities so that he could stay away, and he knew that Noor was just as vulnerable. The only safety they found was when they could stay well away from the King's servants, past or present.
Xavin says something to the effect of. "Noor, look at me. You are not a lone star burning in the universe. You have people watching out for you. People of varied talents. A woman who can dance in the sun. A powerful witch weilding a magic artifact. A man who can bend metal and machines to his will. A fierce, but tame, predator. A hatchling with boundless strength. Another who can command nature. There is also Chase. And me, a trained warrior of one of the mightiest Empires the universe has seen. I tell you this. If the Shadow King dares to come after you, we will not trap it, or fight it off. We will find its weakness, and destroy it. You understand?" Noor says yes. and Xavin tells him to be strong, for fear is a face of limited usefulness.
Xi'an also starts to say that, because of the threat he poses, the X-Men also have a special interest in keeping the Shadow King from returning, and they take that duty very seriously. She's interrupted with a SURPRISE ROCK TO THE HEAD! Yes, for our action-quota of the issue, we get a short fight with some anti-mutant bigots who mistook Xavin, flying in flame and such, for a mutant. It's a short fight, for they're no match for the two Runaways, but it retrohints (since Dark Avengers/X-men is ships long before but takes place after this issue) at the looming tensions with Prop X. The four decide to return to the X-Men base.
Back at the X-Mansion, where the Runaways and the New X-Men are talking in the lounge. They're actually getting along pretty well. I picture Chase talking to Santo, really excited with the idea that, if he gets blown up, he can put himself back together again, and asks if he can blow him up. Anole is not at all surprised that so many people who hear that want to blow Rockslide up. Molly and Pixie are over-hypering out. Karolina is talking to Northstar. Apparently, her parents knew him, and when he was an olympic skier, and Karolina was only a child, they were all at a 'celebrity/athlete' event together and they went skiing. All he can remember is that she was a terrible skier, and he resented them slowing down to her pace, and that they introduced him to their co-star, which almost made up for it. Nico comes in with Klara and announces the news: Beast says Klara is definitively not a mutant. Molly is especially disappointed at this. "But then what is she? It's not as though they had radioactive trees running around in 1906 biting people... did they? Because that would be weird." Beast said he has a few ideas, but he's still trying to confirm, running some tests and comparisons.
Victor, Xavin, and Noor return, with Shan in tow. Perhaps we get a little dialog where Victor compliments her on her speech to Noor, and Xavin says "It's very similar to something my mother said to me, when I was scared of Dire Wraith stories." "Did it work?" "It got me to put on a brave face, and before long I wasn't afraid anymore. K'Zara."
Xi'an's all right, only lightly bruised, and maybe getting a brief cameo by the New Mutants to check on her (I just like the idea of having a spot with Magik and Nico sizing each other up without saying anything). Anyway, Beast returns, with a solution. Inviting the Runaways into a more private room, and With Klara's permission (because it's unethical for a doctor to discuss his patient's details without it), he says that not only is she not a mutant, she's not quite human, either. He does one last test, approaching her with a hunk of metal, which Klara reflexively recoils from. Klara, worriedly, speculates, "Demon?", but Hank dismisses it. "No. But because she has an instinctual revulsion for cold iron, I believe she's a faerie."
Molly: "... like Pixie?"
Beast: "No, no. Pixie's a mutant (ed: She was later retconned as part faerie but this was stupid and in my headcanon disproven). But there's a long history of confusion between the two. He goes on at length at how, in olden days, there were folktales of changelings, children stolen by faerie parents and replaced with one of their own. (Karolina's reaction is, to say softly, "Oh, poor Klara... she's been given away by two sets of parents.") Most of those early reports were almost certainly mutants, but the X-Men have encountered true faeries before. They're extradimensional and come from many places, some from Asgard, some from a world that connects to Britain. He can't say for sure what type Klara is, since there are so many, but it looks like she might be something similar to a Dryad, a plant spirit.
Chase: "That's fine, but what about making her look normal again?"
Beast explains that he's afraid that might be what is normal for her. They know little about Faerie physiology, and as long as she's not in pain, he's reluctant to try anything. However, he has something that might help, and gives her a wristwatch-type device. It's an image inducer. They occasionally use them when a mutant's appearance would jeopardize them. Before M-Day they were somewhat scarce, but after, they've got more of them than mutants who need them, so he thinks he can spare it. It projects an image of a generic girl that looks a little like Klara was described (since there's no pictures of Klara).
Nico is satisfied with that, and then leads everybody out towards the exit. "We've got what we came here for, time to leave."
They're interrupted by Scott, as they say their goodbyes to the New X-Men guys they talked to. He first tries the friendly sell, offering them all a place to stay, help with finding jobs, assembling a new life. Nico's reaction is "thanks, not interested."
Scott says they should think about it. Most of them may be old enough to make their own decisions in life, but the younger ones really should be in school. And Molly especially should be here, so she could learn about her powers with the experts. "I mean, you still think of her power as super strength. We've already determined that her power's probably actually..."
"Telekinesis," Nico and Karolina, Victor, and Xavin all interrupt. "Just because we're not in school doesn't mean we're idiots. Super strength is just easier to say." (And of course, for comedic effect, Chase says, "Wait, so she's NOT super strong?")
Scott next talks about how dangerous it is out there, particularly for mutants, which they saw themselves. They can provide a safe haven. Chase asks the room to raise their hands if they've almost died since coming here.
Everybody does. "We'll take our chances on our own."
Scott: "I'm trying to do this the easy way."
Nico: "People only say that when they're planning for a hard way."
Scott tells them that after M-Day, there was a provision made by the Office for National Emergency as part of a compromise deal. The X-men can petition for legal guardianship of any underage mutant without family. If they do that, the X-Men will be legally entitled to go after the Runaways, personally. Molly says she'd only run away again if they took her.
"Besides," Chase says. "She has family."
The other Runaways chime in, in agreement and solidarity.
Scott: "You're friends. And as close as you may be, in the eyes of the law..."
Chase: "Not what I mean." He plucks a loose hair off Molly's shirt, and pulls one of his own hairs, passing it over. "She's my sister. Test it if you like. But you go to court and try to take her from her family, I'll go to the media. And it looks like you guys get enough bad press to deal with. Right now, we're leaving."
As Chase starts walking out, Scott gives in, asking them to think about what he said about school and training.
They give a few last goodbyes to the friends they made. Chase leads the way inside, with some of the others discussing the sudden bombshell none of them knew about, wondering if he was just bluffing, or if it's true.
Inside the Leapfrog, Chase asks Victor if he can fly them back to LA, and to see if the leapfrog can put images of Klara into the image inducer to give her back her real face, then goes through the portal to the base.
Last we see, Chase at a kitchen table eating something. Molly enters, asks him if he's really her brother, or just made it off to scare offt he X-Men.
He doesn't look at her, but admits it. "Half-Brother."
"So... your dad and my mom... ick."
"Sorry Moll. I didn't want you to find out like this."
After perhaps a panel of still silence, she just hugs him, and then walks away. "Night."