From CoH Comic Index
"Limelight" is a two-part story in the "Guardians of the Dawn Spotlight" series focusing on Midnight Arachnia which involves characters in Paragon City and the Rogue Isles. The main story begins in Issue #7 and concludes in Issue #8, although the story itself has consequences that stretch beyond those two issues.
Although not going into specifics, the mysterious leader of Shadowborn announces at the end of Issue #6 that he will be initiating "Project: Limelight", vowing to teach the Guardians of the Dawn "a painful lesson in humility" after their most recent actions disrupted the business plans of one of their key investors.
This is the second time that the Guardians interfere with a plan that involves Shadowborn since the original organization was dissolved in Issue #4, and the second time that we see the mysterious leader of that organization.
Issue 7 (Part 1)
Part 1 begins with controvercial PNN talk show host Garry Becker announcing that he has come across a story involving a deep-dark secret of a member of the Guardians of the Dawn. We then see Midnight Arachnia responding to a jewelry store robbery. The robbery footage is later used in Becker's story linking Midnight Arachnia to a former member of the Arachnos organization known as Crystal Burke.
The next day, she is lured by a message reportedly from Captain Paragonna to give more information about the arrest of the jewelry story thives. This turns out to be a ruse by Deputy District Attorney Edward "The Trust" Vance, who offers Midnight Arachnia a deal to confess to a lesser charge and publicly expose her idendity, or else be charged with treason and have her idendity be forcibly revealed as well as face a death sentence. When Midnight Arachnia invokes Protocol Fourteen, Vance counters that treason is a federal offense and that he was just made a special prosecutor by the Department of Justice. But upon invoking the words, Midnight Arachnia is teleported away to the Guardian base.
In the base, Midnight Arachnia is given a pre-recorded message from MidKnight X informing her what Protocol Fourteen means and to tell her to avoid using her powers or her hero idendity and to stay low. She leaves her costume and HeroID behind and escapes through an emergency exit.
Becker later gloats on the air that Midnight Arachnia will be charged and tried even without being in custody and calls for charges to be filed against the other Guardians who knew about and aided in her escape.
Issue 8 (Part 2)
The Shadowborn leader meets with Professor Montague Castanella. Castanella warns the Shadowborn leader (whom we learn is known as Lord Geddy) that he is aware of Shadowborn's involvement in the smear campaign against the Guardians of the Dawn. Geddy then warns Castanella to not interfeere with his operation, lest the Midnight Squad be exposed in a similar fashion.
The story continues several weeks after Jessica Danvers/Crystal Burke had fled to Mercy Island, and has been given help by her brother, Matthew. Matt has given Crystal a place to stay and clothes similar to the ones she reportedly wore when she last lived there. Clothes that she had no memory of ever wearing, nor did she rememeber anything about her time with Arachnos, even though her brother did confirm that she was with them before escaping to Paragon City as a teenager. He also suggests that Crystal check with the Mu Codex, which he had sent others to retrieve every time the fateweavers craft a new copy for Ghost Widow.
In Paragon City, the Libertarian Avenger discovers that Vance has strong-armed the Paragon Libertarian Society into not helping Midnight Arachnia's defense as Vance continues with his efforts to try Midnight Arachnia in abstentia. He reports this news to MidKnight X, who was not surprised by this turn of events. MidKnight X also discovers that the jewel robbers that Midnight Arachnia had arrested were turned over to Vance's organization and that all charges were dropped.
Crystal manages to enter Ghost Widow's tower and learns that she is listed in the Codex as a "Child of Prophecy". She is joined by a member of Legacy Chain, who clarifies that Crystal is destined to destroy Ghost Widow.
After escaping to safety and being joined by her brother, the Legacy Chain Radiant tells Crystal the truth about her real parents, how Matthew's mother came to care for Crystal as a child, and to explain that she was really working for Legacy Chain, not for Arachnos, and that she was sent away to Paragon City because the Legacy Chain believe that the full interpretation of the prophecy would lead to not just the destruction of Ghost Widow, but for Arachnos itself, including the Rogue Isles and the millions of people living there.
Crystal attempts to escape the island, but is confronted by Ghost Widow instead. Rather than risk the death of millions, she allows Ghost Widow to kill her.
But instead of being teleported to the Arachnos infirmiry at Fort Darwin, she appears in the infirmary at the Guardian base. She is told by Icon Powers that himself, MidKnight X, and Galatea Powers were working for the Midnight Squad, gathering the neccessary information to clear her name.
Later that day, Becker's TV show is hijacked by a pirated signal which reveals a confession from a member of Wyvern, who admits that they provided the video footage that Becker used in his inital story. He also admists that they knew that "Agent Burke" was really working for Legacy Chain, and that they were also duped into staging the jewelry store robbery, believing it was a security exercise, not knowing that the footage would later be used against Midnight Arachnia. The video ends and Becker is caught on live TV using an explicit word to express his frustrations.
Vance, having earlier been warned by MidKnight X of this revelation, would later drop all charges against Midnight Arachnia and would grudgingly credit the Guardians for ensuring that the truth be revealed.
Geddy later confronts Castanella, who admits that the Midnight Squad was behind exposing Shadowborn's operations. Geddy then tells his staff to not pay Becker's FCC fine and that he should sit out his 30-day broadcast suspension.
The consequences of "Project: Limelight" are referenced heavily in Issue #9:
- Coeur Du Feu is seen cursing at a PNN promotional billboard of Becker.
- Azuria explains that Vance's people searched her offices and seized everything associated with Midnight Arachnia, but did not return everything after the charges were dropped.
- A member of the Cabal refers to the wrongful prosecution of Midnight Arachnia as an "ill-named witch hunt".
Garry Becker returned to PNN from his month-long suspension in Issue #11 with a special focus on Lyon Powers and a half-hearted apology for Midnight Arachnia.
Although cleared of the charges, the whole scandal with Midnight Arachnia played a role in Issue #14 as the leadership structure of the Guardians was questioned.