With G-Force stepping down as chairman of the Midwest Avengers, Vision and the Scarlet Witch got on a conference call with them to remind them that they needed to handle his replacement internally, so before the end of the week they needed to hold a vote to figure out their next leader. As well, they’re dealing with the fact that Mayor Washington wants to hold a big press conference to show them off to the city. He’s declared October 1st as “Avengers Day” in Chicago, with a big parade, floats, and the works.
While they’ve spent the last few days squabbling over who will be in charge, with Cadmus and Deadly Nightshade being the loudest about the whole thing—Cadmus thinks his divine heritage gives him a mandate, while Nightshade is claiming seniority—the day of the press conference comes without a decision being yet made. The mayor needs to talk to them before the conference, privately. Rather than take a quinjet the five blocks to Daley Plaza, they decide to walk, getting some amusing interactions with the local populace. Lowrider turns into a motorcycle and gives Nightshade and Render a ride, while Cadmus jogs and Walker rides a spirit horse (uses his telekinesis to levitate).
Mayor Washington reveals to them that he had planned on giving them the key to the city—a solid gold key cast from a century-old mold that they’ve only made a dozen or so of since the city was founded. Unfortunately, it’s been stolen! He knows it’s a lot to ask, but the cost to cast another would be damaging to the city budget and make him a bunch of enemies, as well as embarrassing him publicly since they wouldn’t have time to cast another key before the ceremony. Would the Avengers be willing to look into the theft and get the key back? Of course they would!
The police at the crime scene give them a little hassle, but Walker convinces them that they’re all on the same side, while Nightshade and Cadmus interview the cops that were injured in the theft and Lowrider and Render check out the vault. They gradually piece together that the crime was committed by a petty thief calling himself Pack Rat, a guy who used to be a janitor at the Chicago Field Museum until he stole a kree space laser and knocked over a couple of banks. Since then, he’s been stealing and repurposing old villain tech and alien objects to turn himself into a real super-criminal, but he kind of sucks at it. Nightshade remembers that the kid who was peeping on Dazzler at the concert they attended earlier in the year (see Midwest Avengers, Volume 1) had gotten his invisibility belt from that guy. Walker’s telepathic probing of the witnesses also revealed that the thief was suffering from some sort of personal guilt.
The only tracks led through the sewers, where Cadmus got into a fistfight with some Morlocks. Nightshade remembered that the Chicago Morlocks weren’t necessarily hostile, so she used her pheromone powers to calm the situation down while Walker used his control over nightmares to confuse the Morlocks. Once the situation was calmer, the Morlocks pointed the way that the guy they were after had gone, then told the Avengers to stay the hell out of their home from now on. Cadmus was unapologetic.
They managed to find Pack Rat’s secret warehouse lair. Render and Lowrider sneaked into the building while the others waited below. The scouts managed to find the golden key and seized it before Cadmus got impatient and came tromping up the ladder. While Nightshade and Walker tried to talk him out of it, Pack Rat heard them bickering and slammed the trapdoor shut, creating a barrier between the two groups. Lowrider confronted the tech-based villain and tried prying up the trapdoor, but it was too heavy for his scout-class superstructure. Cadmus had no such problems and bashed the thing open, climbing up and dragging the ladder along with him to use as his improvised weapon… leaving Nightshade and Walker behind in the sewer.
Nightshade parkoured her way up into the warehouse, while Walker levitated up and bound Pack Rat with telekinetic coils. Render stripped most of the technical knowledge out of Pack Rat’s brain, but he still managed to overcharge his magnetic gauntlet to send Lowrider flying out of the warehouse and into the Chicago River. Cadmus ended the fight with a massive blow to Pack Rat’s jaw that put the sadly overmatched second-stringer out of the fight. As they looked around the workshop, Walker found a photo of a woman and child; clearly, Pack Rat was suffering some sort of repressed guilt over the abandonment of his family.
Lowrider was having trouble getting out of the river until four burly guys tossed him a chain and hauled him out. A bit of banter later, they revealed that they were looking for Pack Rat too, since he had stolen something from them. The naive Cybertronian agreed to lead them right to Pack Rat’s warehouse. When they arrived, the four men immediately started tossing the place, looking for their “heirloom.” Walker argued that Pack Rat was a criminal, and all of his things needed to go into lockup; if they wanted their stolen possession back, they could get it through official channels.
The leader of the four men wasn’t very happy about that and told the “injun” to back off, as well as “the skirt” when Nightshade spoke up too. Tensions were running high when they finally found what they were looking for—a plain-looking crowbar. Nightshade’s eyes widened—she had seen it before, in the hands of…
The Wrecking Crew!
Before their eyes, the four men transformed into the Wrecker and his pals—Bulldozer, Piledriver, and Thunderball! Now, things were getting serious…
Next time: Wrecked!