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With S.H.I.E.L.D. having been supplanted by H.A.M.M.E.R., many of their former operatives are being forced to leave, including Maria Hill. Those agents who have elected to remain with the new group are not upset to see her go.
At a H.A.M.M.E.R. Shipbreaking facility in Chelsea Piers, Iron Man arrives to help the workers clean up the site. The labor proves difficult however, as Tony is having trouble adjusting to operating his suit without the benefit of the Extremis enhancile. A critical misjudgment drops him into the water, and it becomes clear that the other workers don't want him around.
Tony returns to Stark Industries and begins working on Pepper Potts' upgrades. The improvements to the Repulsomagnetic technology in her chest implant are also increasing her strength capabilities as well as her intelligence. Pepper asks him if he's trying to transform her into his dream girl.
Afterward, Tony goes to see Norman Osborn for his exit interview. Osborn calls him a traitorous scum and demands to know where and how he can access the Superhuman Registration Database. Tony grows immediately concerned and reminds Norman that the Database is not his personal File-o-Fax that he can browse at his leisure. Before leaving, Tony makes sure to hack into H.A.M.M.E.R.'s systems, making sure that Osborn can never access the database. The only name that appears on the screen is Iron Man: Tony Stark.
Tony goes to Funtime, Inc., one of his subsidiaries, where he meets with Maria and Pepper. He tells them about his visit with Osborn and punctuates the conversation with his assessment that Osborn is a full-blown looney. They have to get rid of all existing copies of the Superhuman Registration database before Osborn can get his hands on it. Pepper and Maria ask him where the other database is located and Tony reveals that he is the database.
Tony Stark realizes that he must rid the world of all sensitive data relating to S.H.I.E.L.D. out of fear that it might fall into the hands of Norman Osborn. Unfortunately, the most sensitive hard drive is the only inside Tony's head - his brain. He decides that this too, must be removed, even at the cost of lobotomizing himself. Pepper Potts and Maria Hill are present, and neither of them wish to see Tony commit suicide. Tony assures them though, that this is the only way. He tricks Hill into activating the device that begins the process.
Maria Hill returns to her apartment in Georgetown, but discovers only too late, that Osborn's H.A.M.M.E.R. agents are looking to arrest her. She fights them off, but is briefly captured. While en route back to Osborn's headquarters in Colorado, Maria breaks free and escapes. Making sure that she is not being followed, she makes her way back to Stark's lab.
Tony continues with the mind-dump. He hands over control of Stark Industries to Pepper Potts, with the wish that she will shut the company down. Maria arrives and tells Tony that she was nearly killed by Osborn's goons. Tony realizes that Norman has declared him a fugitive and that he is to be apprehended at all costs. Maria puts the question to Tony, "What next?"
Norman Osborn holds a press conference and addresses what he intends to do in terms of Tony Stark. He doesn't outright accuse Stark of any criminal activity, but does state that Stark is wanted for questioning with regards to the recent Skrull invasion. He punctuates the conference by revealing H.A.M.M.E.R.'s intent to retrofit confiscated Stark technology. He gives Stark a deadline in which he must surrender himself to H.A.M.M.E.R.
At the Stark Industries corporate office in Long Island, Pepper Potts, having only recently been made CEO of the company is at odds with her new position. Under Stark's wishes, she is to close down the company, liquidate all of its assets and sell off any salvageable divisions or subsidiaries as possible. She resents the awesome burden that Tony has placed on her.
At Funtime, Inc., Tony Stark consults with Maria Hill. He gives Maria a flash drive that will direct her to another Stark Industries entity called FuturePharm. Inside FuturePharm is one of Tony's many hidden arsenals. He wants Maria to go there and destroy the facility so that Osborn cannot get his hands on it. Before she leaves however, Tony and Maria share a surprising moment of intimacy.
Back at Long Island, Pepper is more stressed out than ever. She has no idea what Tony wants her to do. In frustration, she throws her office chair at a wall, accidentally triggering a panel to a secret room. Walking into the room, she sees a suit of armor with a distinctively feminine design. Obviously, Tony constructed this armor in secret with the intent of giving it to Pepper. Pepper whispers, "Holy Crap.", then smiles and says, "Hello, girl".
A short while later, Norman Osborn holds another press conference at Central Park (now known as Restoration Park). He is clad in his new Iron Patriot Armor and is decidedly more vocal with regards to bringing in Tony Stark. Since Stark failed to meet Osborn's deadline, he now openly declares Stark a traitor and a fugitive from justice. He announces that H.A.M.M.E.R. will do everything in their power to dismantle Stark Industries and apprehend Tony Stark with extreme prejudice.
Osborn's orders are carried out almost immediately. Across the globe, H.A.M.M.E.R. agents raid Stark Industries facilities, harassing, and at times, violently assaulting SI personnel.
Maria Hill awakens in her bed at Funtime, Inc. Beside her is a note from Tony which reads, "Blow it up. Run like Hell!". She does as instructed and the building is destroyed.
Tony, meanwhile, dons his armor once again. He flies off into the sky musing, "Well. No turning back now."
In Long Island, the sentiment is echoed by Pepper Potts. She puts on the new armor and stands at the top of Stark Industries. "Well," she says. "No turning back now".