At an airstrip just outside of Genoa, a UH-60 Blackhawk settles on the tarmac less than a hundred yards south of the jet being prepped to carry Isabella’s commando team back to the States. The mercenary team descends from the chopper, escorting Greta Schmidtz and her two daughters, and are nearly halfway to the plane when Syndicate agents arrive on the scene and open fire. Most of the team takes shelter behind a set of storage containers near the hangar while Isabella makes a run for the helicopter. Before she can reach it, one of the enemy grunts emerges with a rocket launcher and promptly removes the heavily armed Blackhawk from the equation. Isabella throws herself to the ground as the wake of the explosion rains debris throughout her vicimity, then levels her M4 at an enemy sedan and manages to strike the fuel tank, resulting in another explosion.
As the mercenary captain barrels toward her team, Burnes tosses a pair of smoke grenades toward the plane to help provide cover. Isabella gathers the German doctor and her progeny and ushers them toward the jet as the rest of the team provides suppression fire. In the cabin, however, yet another surprise is waiting, and by the time Isabella arrives, Syndicate agents – led by none other than the recently murdered Russian, Arri Kuschev – have Elsa and her family at gunpoint. When Isabella refused to surrender, however, Kuschev ordered the assassination of Greta’s youngest daughter, Ila, at which point Isabella launches herself at the gunman and a fight ensues. Though Kuschev clearly orders his men not to attack Isabella with deadly force, the situation is spinning out of control when one of the agents points a pistol at Elsa’s head and pulls the trigger. As the gunshot rings throughout the cabin, both the girls suddenly lose consciousness.
At the University of Chicago, Ethan, Athena, and Cal Simmons visit the physics department in an attempt to locate a professor versed in quantum theory. They locate the office of Dr. Gene Lawton, department chair and professor of advanced physics, but are greeted by his aide, a young grad student who identifies herself as Kelly Moore. Kelly looks at a picture of the strange glass disc and identifies the central sigil, a circular inscription just inside a triangle and surrounded by an incomplete circular formation, from an Incan archeological dig she consulted on during the previous year. She gets Athena’s cell number and promised to visit with the professor when he returns and call with the results. Cal, meanwhile, is distracted by a collection of pictures, notes, and news and magazine clippings pinned to the wall.
Outside the facility near Wheeler, Texas, Sunny approaches his neighbor unseen and greets him with gun in hand. The gangly stranger identifies himself as Dr. Elliot Barnes and becomes truly alarmed when he learns who Sunny is, insisting that they leave the area immediately and avoid any entanglements with ExCorp. Despite his suspicions, Sunny agrees, and the two of them leave the scene in Barnes’ pickup.
When Isabella regains consciousness, reality seems to have suffered a serious adjustment. The plane is well on its way back across the Atlantic, and Elsa and most of the rest of the team are otherwise unharmed. Kuschev and the Syndicate agents apparently disappeared, or were never there; the team isn’t entirely sure which. In a private conversation with the mercenary captain, Greta explains that Isabella herself demonstrated unusual abilities when she was very young, describing a terrible automobile accident from which Isabella and her mother emerged miraculously unscratched. She posits that the girl possesses some sort of ability to rewrite events which might have ended in grave personal injury. When Isabella comments that she herself knew of no such personal danger during the fight on the plane – but that Elsa had been targeted with a killing shot just before they lost consciousness – Greta swoons at the realization and despairs that she and her contemporaries might somehow be responsible.
Before they can finish exploring these revelations, Isabella receives a call from Colonel Ryan Jamison, chief officer of Manticorp, diverting them with new orders to a private facility in northern Texas. Greta, upon hearing of this, faints dead away.