In Western Mongolia, Gretchen tells the Light Council that Earth's heroes are cooperating more than they've revealed. She reports that the team that invaded her home escaped thanks to Cyborg and Halo, and Ultra-Humanite tells them that they need not concern themselves with Halo and he has plans for her. He insists that he has first rights to her despite Gretchen's interest, and Gretchen asks about the Markovs.
In Hollywood, Tara is walking down the street and Deathstroke grabs her from behind. Tara instinctively fights him off until she realizes who it is, and he says that he knows she hasn't reported everything she knows about Cyborg and Halo. Deathstroke demands an explanation. When Tara says nothing, Deathstroke accuses her of going soft on the Outsiders.
Tara remembers her time on the island with Slade training her and saying that she's too soft. He promises to toughen her up.
The girl tells Deathstroke that she's still gathering intel on Cyborg and Halo, but Deathstroke doesn't believe her and wonders if she's trying to fool him or herself. He reminds her about how Brion abandoned her in London to go clubbing, and how Helga dumped her off with Bedlam. Deathstroke says that the moment her friends decide that they can't control her, they'll slap an inhibitor collar on her. He admits that he's been tough with her but honest, and gives her something "just in case".
Helga treats Dick, who is still suffering after his treatment by Gretchen. Bruce sends Jeff and the others to get ice because Dick's brain is swelling from fever,.
Trajectory and two other heroes, members of Infinity Inc. give a video interview. Brion watches it over breakfast with the other Outsiders, and complains that Infinity Inc. is poaching on their turf. Beast Boy figures that the Outsiders inspired them, and Halo agrees. Brion says that she's always looking on the bright side and hugs her. He notices that she's distracted, and Halo says that she's depressed that her powers can't help Dick. Gar wants to talk about Gretchen, figuring that they need to take her down.
Helga applies ice packs to Dick, stabilizing his temperature. When she goes out, Jeff offers her coffee and she says that she's in over her head. Bruce talks to Kal, Megan, and Oracle privately, and Jeff remembers when Batman resigned from the Justice League and how Oracle used a bat drone against Gretchen. When the group comes back, Jeff accuses them of working together. As the Outsiders arrive, Jeff realizes that Megan provided them with the information to take on the meta-traffickers. Tara secretly watches them as Jeff accuses Bruce and Kal of setting the whole thing up in secret. Helga attaches an inhibitor chip to Tara's neck and leads her off.
At the Light's HQ, a boom tube appears. Vandal goes through it to Apokolips and meets with Darkseid.
Helga takes Violet out to her car where Brion and Mara are there. The doctor says that her mentor has found a cure for Violet's condition, and she told the Markovs about Violet's condition. They both mechanically say that they're there to support Violet, and Helga drives off.
Tara remembers Deathstroke training her and saying that he got her away from her abductors when her family and country couldn't do. Now he's going to make sure no one can hurt her like that. Tara tries to hit him with a chunk of rock. Deathstroke dodges it, and tell her that it doesn't pay to fight fair in the world they inhabit. He hugs Tara and says that he's proud of her.
Fred and Vic watch the various groups argue. Barbara tells Gar that Diana is part of the conspiracy, and insists that they set up the Reach invasion in Maine for the Outsiders. She admits that Megan and Bruce set up the situation in Dublin. Barbara says that they may have gone too far, but points out that Gar wanted to go after the Light publicly. The conspiracy worked behind the scenes so that the Outsiders could fight the Light without losing their integrity.
Jeff comes out with Kal and Bruce, saying that the mission is no good if they lose themselves trying to fulfill it. Dick comes out with Alfred's help and tells Jeff that the person he's angry with is him.
Helga takes Violet, Brion, and Tara to her secret lab and says that her mentor should be there shortly. Gretchen and Ultra-Humanite come in and Gretchen has Overlord put a cerebral leash on Violet. Helga says that she's ready to depart with Brion and Tara as promised, and Gretchen tells Ultra-Humanite that he can have Cyborg. She tells Helga that there has been a change in plans, and has Overlord teleport them to the X-Pit. Gretchen explains that she uses the X-Pit for the correction and discipline of her "students" She admits that the process is flawed, and shoves Violet out of their protective cube. Violet reflexively activates her healing aura but it doesn't help her.
Overlord's readings confirm Gretchen's suspicions that the X-Pit dimension has repolarized the emanations coming from Violet... meaning that she's the key to solving the Anti-Life Equation.
Bruce and Barbara discuss what happens, and Bruce insists that they were trying to protect Jeff and the others. Barbara wonders if they were wrong, suggesting that they don't need to be protected. Bruce points out that the debate has brought the mission to a halt, and says that the seven of them decided together. Barbara concedes the point but notes that the conspiracy is made up of Bruce's protégés. She wonders if it's Bruce's personal mission.
Gretchen explains to Helga that life minus free will equals anti-life, and shoves Helga out into the X-Pit to test the formula. Violet covers Helga in a violet aura, and Gretchen tells Ultra-Humanite that the Mother Box that is Violet is still connected to the Source, but without the safeguards that Metron built into the Mother Box itself. With Violet's connection to the source, Gretchen believes that Violet plus the ghost dimension equals Anti-Life. She performs the final test by having Helga admit that Tara and Brion are her creations. After Bedlam turned Tara over to Helga, she recreated Tara as Terra , her "daughter". Bedlam stole Tara away from her, and Helga swore revenge. She created Geo-Force, her "son". Gabrielle was sent to Helga and proved negative for the metagene. Helga gave Gabrielle an overdose of morphine, but Gabrielle came back to life as Violet, and Helga figured that the morphine activated her metagene. She seduces Jeff to reunite with her "children", but tested Violet's hair and confirmed that she never had the metagene. Helga lied to Violet, saying that she was dying, and convinced her not to tell her friends about her supposed condition.
Helga knew that her subterfuge couldn't last, so she contacted Ultra-Humanite. In return for handing over Violet, Ultra-Humanite agreed to help Helga escape with Brion and Tara so Helga could continue her experiments and create more of their "family". Gretchen has Overlord take them back to the lab and says that Helga had to know that Brion and Tara--who heard everything Helga said--would hate her. She has Helga admit that she would do anything for her, using the Anti-Life Equation, and tells Ultra-Humanite that her master will have Anti-Life via Halo.
Tara uses the device Deathstroke gave her—an antidote chip --to overcome the chip's influence on her and removes Brion's chip. Brion attacks them, but Gretchen has Halo take her away and Ultra-Humanite teleports away with Helga.
The next day, Jeff tells Dick and the others that he's leaving. Gar confirms that Helga left with Violet and the Markovs. Brion and Tara return and the others wonder what happened to Helga and Violet.
Ultra-Humanite tells the other Light council members what happened. Deathstroke says that he gave Tara the antidote chip so the Markovs could believably escape on their own. Ultra-Humanite warns that the galactic balance of power will shift once Gretchen gives Halo to Darkseid. Vandal realizes that Darkseid has played him.
Brion and Tara tell the others what happened. Jeff is shook upon learning that Helga betrayed him. Jeff walks out, angrily telling the others not to follow him.
At the Orphanage floating in space, Gretchen gives Halo to Granny Goodness.
Tara calls Deathstroke and says that the heroes betray each other at every turn and can't be trusted. She asks what he needs her to do.
Written by Gadfly on Aug 17, 2019