The Nine's tests begin. After Burnscar turns a narrow but decisive victory against Mannequin into a mutual retreat, Taylor persuades the Travelers and Undersiders to change tactics and attack the Nine directly rather than risk weeks of attacks without rest. The plan is a success, resulting in the capture of both Shatterbird and Cherish, but the remaining Nine take Grue captive in return.
After the Protectorate refuse their request for help, the Travelers and Undersiders mobilize to rescue Grue (and possibly Imp). They distract most of the Nine by giving their location to the city's other villains, but Bonesaw still manages to capture the strike team, plus an enraged Parian. She's considering a selection of fates worse than death for them when Grue has a second trigger event. He kills Burnscar, heals his captive teammates, and forces Jack to cut Bonesaw's hands off at the wrists and abandon the battlefield.
In the aftermath of the mutual rescue, Taylor attempts to support Brian emotionally. He explains his new power- the darkness he generates has always slightly hampered the powers of other capes inside it; now, that effect is magnified, and he can access some of the ability the affected capes lose.