Before The DAWN!
Gloating over the deaths of the heroes, Number One of the Secret Empire orders their corpses dumped in the dungeon like so much garbage. Suddenly Captain America awakens to discover that Number 68, who shot them down with the death ray, is really Gabe Jones, undercover operative for SHIELD, and he set the weapon to a non-lethal charge. He is accompanied by Peggy Carter, and they fill in Cap on the history of the enemy organization. Meanwhile, the villains’ plans are proceeding apace: the mutants are being used to power a huge flying saucer, with the stolen electron-gyro to guide it; next stop: Washington DC and the conquest of America. The flying saucer lands on the White House lawn and is quickly surrounded by military forces and media coverage. Number One appears on a viewscreen and demands America’s surrender. The Army opens fire but a mutant-generated force field stops all damage. Moonstone arrives and challenges the invaders to a fight. The armor-clad Number Two emerges from the saucer and quickly defeats the phony "hero," taking him "prisoner." Moonstone soon emerges from the craft and makes a plea to the public that resistance is futile—the nation is already defeated, since Secret Empire minions have been planting atomic explosives in major US cities. Inside the craft, though, Cap, Falcon, Cyclops, and Marvel Girl are released from their hiding place by Gabe and Peggy. The heroes seize control of the craft, shut off the mutant energy drain, and locate a list of the locations of the bombs. Captain America assaults Number One from behind, then squares off against Moonstone. The enraged Cap quickly defeats his foe. Quentin Harderman pretends that Moonstone had fooled him too but the overcome villain reveals to the watching TV audience that Harderman was the mastermind behind the plot to discredit Captain America. The villains are rounded up but Cap sees Number One fleeing into the White House. Cap corners him in the building and unmasks him—and is shocked that the mastermind is a well-known statesman. The secret villain confesses that organized this coup because he wanted greater power than high office could offer before killing himself with a gunshot. The stunned Captain America slowly leaves the building, disillusioned by this betrayal of all of the national ideals he trusted and embodied.