The Undersiders are in the process of robbing the Brockton Bay Central Bank, holding several dozen civilians hostage. They were instructed to do this by their mysterious employer, though they negotiated a big payday. The Wards, sans Shadow Stalker have arrived and are lined outside, hesitant to attack. Shadow Stalker was too far away to participate and was instructed to stay put.
On the way to the bank, Gallant invited Glory Girl to help, who has landed on the roof. Unknown to both the Undersiders and the Wards, Panacea is among the hostages. Added to that, Clockblocker and Gallant have swapped costumes, possibly to bait Bitch into attacking Clockblocker and getting frozen.
The Undersiders start by releasing several hostages out the lobby doors, followed by a cloud of Grue's darkness, in order to dissuade the Wards from firing blindly. The hostages were instructed to run as far out before Grue's power hit them, and then lie down.
Before Bitch can run out, Tattletale informs them that Aegis and Clockblocker have switched costumes, and Bitch should attack Clockblocker. Grue and Regent head out to fight, while Taylor and Tattletale watch from the windows. Bitch feints towards Clockblocker (dressed as Aegis), but changes direction towards Aegis (dressed as Clockblocker).
Meanwhile, Taylor attacks the real Clockblocker with her bugs, but he keeps freezing them while he tries to get to Aegis, spinning to make sure the frozen bugs are behind him. When he tries to ignore them, she starts biting and stinging him. In his panic, he clotheslines himself on frozen bugs, falling to the ground. Taylor forces bugs into his mouth, his ear canals and over his face. He freezes all the bugs, pinning himself to the street, and she retreats her bugs, apologising under her breath. With Clockblocker trapped, Taylor decides to turn her attention to Vista, the other high-priority target.
In the meantime, Aegis has been trapped between two of Bitch's dogs, Angelica and Brutus and Bitch is riding on Judas towards Vista as well, while Gallant and Kid Win shoot lasers and emotion blasts at her. Judas takes a few glancing shots, but Vista raises the ground in front of him, making him fall and fling Bitch forward. One of Gallant's emotion blasts hits her, making her extremely angry. In her rage she orders Judas to attack him. Bitch herself attacks Vista directly, but the Ward expands the space between them, retreating.
At this point, Taylor begins to feel a headache coming on. This headache is later revealed to be the work of Panacea messing with her bugs, but Taylor is confused as she doesn't know any heroes that have those sorts of abilities.
Bitch gives up on Vista, and orders Judas to stop attacking Gallant, who is struggling to stand, and attack Kid Win. Kid Win manages to hit Bitch with a laser, knocking her down. Judas abandoned the attack, guarding Bitch.
Back at Vista, a figure stumbles out of Grue's darkness, covered in it, screaming about bugs. Both Taylor and Vista assume it to be Browbeat, and Vista moves closer to him. However Taylor realises she doesn't have any bugs on the figure and it is revealed to be Grue, who knocks Vista out and covers her with darkness.
At some point before this, Browbeat was disabled by Regent while within Grue's darkness.
Taylor tells Tattletale it's time to escape, given almost all the Wards are out of play, but Tattletale delays, heading back into the offices at the back of the bank. Taylor returns to the action to find Kid Win flying on his hoverboard, phasing some sort of massive device in mid-air. He blasts Judas across the street from where he is protecting Bitch, and frees Aegis from the two dogs trapping him. Taylor attacks Kid Win with her bugs, but the majority of them are eradicated by the cannon with a flamethrower. Kid Win shoots the window she's looking out of, directing more bugs at Kid Win, and she notices Clockblocker is starting to get free.
Aegis notices and dives at her, but is deflected by Regent and quickly gets attacked by another dog. Kid Win is too distracted by Grue and Taylor's bugs. Aegis triggers a flashbang, and takes the advantage. He drops another flashbang when the dog recovers, but Grue covers it with darkness, blocking its effects.
Regent manages to get Kid Win to fall off his cannon by twisting his fingers and arm, and then tazes him. He takes the fallen Ward's hoverboard, flies to the turret and starts shooting Aegis. Taylor laughs at the irony, but is interrupted by Panacea in civilian dress, who hits her in the head with a fire extinguisher.As Taylor reaches out for her bugs, she finds them unable to respond, even telling her that they were in different places than they were, and her headache develops into a full-blown migraine.
Panacea swings the fire extinguisher again, and Taylor dodges backwards. The hero takes out her phone and starts typing into it, but Taylor smashes it, assuming she's making a call. Panacea refuses to tell Taylor what she's done to her powers, and instead admits that her text message went through. Before Taylor can ask who she texted, Glory Girl bursts in through a window, casually smashing a table aside, revealing Panacea's identity and telling Taylor that the Protectorate and New Wave will be here shortly.
Taylor holds Panacea hostage with her knife, while the hostage herself makes threats against her, such as giving her cancer or making her morbidly obese, only stopped by Taylor's costume. After a few seconds of small-talk between the two sisters, Tattletale enters. She quickly confirms Glory Girl's assertion of reinforcements, and asks why Taylor isn't attacking with bugs. Tattletale quickly starts to instruct Taylor to kill all the bugs on Panacea by pointing them out with a laser pointer. During this, Tattletale tells Glory Girl that she can read minds, though common knowledge says that this is impossible. The only currently suspected psychic is revealed to be the Simurgh, setting an unsettling precedent.
Meanwhile, Taylor manages to kill all the bugs on Panacea, stopping the feedback loop that she had created. Tattletale threatens to reveal all of their darkest secrets, to which Glory Girl replies that the New Wave have no secrets, heroes with no secret identities and full accountability. Furthermore, neither of the villains have any powers or weapons that work against the heroes. Tattletale denies this, stating she's "got the most powerful weapon of all ... Information.”
Tattletale begins by revealing that Panacea was adopted, which was public knowledge, and that her father was a villain, which was not. Eleven years ago, the New Wave tracked a villain to his home and beat him, sending him to the Birdcage. They found his daughter hiding in a closet, and decided to take her in to avoid anyone exploiting her for her powers.
Tattletale blackmails Panacea with this information, telling Glory Girl to enter the vault. Panacea instead wrenches herself out of Taylor's grip, and Glory Girl tackles Tattletale, covering her mouth. Taylor knocks Panacea out with her baton, which angers Glory Girl, who throws Tattletale at Taylor.
While Glory Girl is monologuing over how she's going to throw them in the inescapable Birdcage, Tattletale tells Taylor to swarm Glory Girl with her bugs, despite its apparent uselessness. The bugs can't reach her, feeling like they're on smooth glass. Tattletale shoots Glory Girl with a handgun from her utility belt, and the bugs start stinging and biting her. As the two exit the bank, Tattletale explains that Glory Girl actually has a forcefield surrounding her body, which was taken down temporarily by the bullet, allowing the bugs through.
They meet with Grue and Bitch, the former of which pops Tattletale's shoulder back into place while Taylor explains what happened. Regent hops down from Kid Win's cannon, where he was shooting Aegis, making sure to stab the cannon's control panel with his scepter on the way down. He asks if he can keep the hoverboard, but Grue tells him it probably has a tracking device in it. Regent destroys the hoverboard as well, and they all mount Bitch's dogs.
Grue fills the nearby streets with darkness, and leads Brutus forward, with Angelica and Judas following by scent. They travel through darkness for some time, before Grue stops them. Tattletale and Taylor disembark the dog, and change out of their costumes into civilian clothing. After some time, the darkness clears and they find themselves in a shopping district in front of a shoe store. Angelica is back to normal size, and the three of them walk through downtown. Lisa remarks that, given there were no injuries or deaths for them, the heroes or any bystanders, it was a very good day.
The aftermath from the Ward's point of view takes place in Interlude 3.
Director Piggot meets Aegis, Gallant, Kid Win, Vista, Browbeat and Clockblocker in the lobby of the Brockton Bay PRT headquarters. They move to a meeting room before talking. Piggot notes Aegis' injuries, with "some of the wounds nearly a foot across". Aegis even starts to stick his hand through his chest, but Piggot stops him.
Piggot then reprimands Gallant for calling Glory Girl to help without her say-so, therefore putting any damages she caused on his shoulders. Rather than fine just Gallant, she docks every Wards' pay, because Gallant is able to afford the fine. She also reprimands Kid Win for using his Alternator Cannon without first officially clearing it through military and science teams. Kid Win is allowed to keep the Cannon, but the power source is confiscated, and the weapon has to go through the "standard review process for all Tinker created material". Kid Win is taken for a disciplinary review, and the rest of the Wards depart to debrief the battle.
They ride a Tinker designed elevator down to their headquarters, where Clockblocker enters by scanning his eye, as Aegis fears his own retina might be detached. When the group enters, Aegis leaves to take a shower and patch himself up. Shadow Stalker is revealed to have been too far away to make it to the battle, which is going to annoy her as she has a "hate-on" for Grue.
The remaining heroes discuss the Undersiders, writing up the cape names and known info on two portable whiteboards. They name "bug girl" "Skitter", deciding not to stick her with a bad name so as not to look like "we got our asses kicked by someone called Maggot.”
- Grue's power isn't just darkness. "You can’t hear in there either. And it feels strange too," -Browbeat
- Bitch, or Hellhound as the Wards call her, trains her dogs, rather than mind control. -Vista
- Skitter is the opposite. "She has a lot of fine control over [her bugs]". She can also "sense things through her bugs". -Clockblocker
More notes are taken but not shown, enough for Gallant to use the back of the whiteboards.
Aegis returns from the showers, revealing himself to be stitched up, and adds his input to the whiteboards. After "an abrasive noise from the computer as every monitor suddenly flashed yellow", the Wards put on their masks.Armsmaster and Miss Militia enter, along with Panacea, who is wearing a ID card with "GUEST" written on it. Panacea is here to heal up the Wards before they return home.
Gallant lies about maybe having a punctured lung in order to have a private conversation with Panacea about the emotions he's sensing off her. Panacea tells him about the enormous pressure she receives from her powers, the mask she has to maintain to get through it all and keep healing. But the "telepaths", i.e. Gallant and Tattletale, force her to "confront it all". The only one who knows Panacea truly is her sister Glory Girl, because her other family members are distant.
Gallant asks whether this has anything to do with Panacea's 'strong' feelings towards him. Panacea freezes up, and Gallant offers to help her at anytime.