This is the second issue of Captain America's Avengers comic book series, part of the Marvel;Re initiative and the story arc, The Madness Beneath. The story is preceded by The Avengers (Captain America) #1 and succeeded by The Avengers (Captain America) #3.
The Avengers have expanded. Through the Avengers Wave protocol, Earth's mightiest heroes have expanded their ranks, inducting many other superhumans to aid them in fending off the growing threat of the universe. As the leader of the Avengers, Captain America is privileged to lead his own team of Avengers. Many were unable to fathom the Super-Soldier's choices, but the Star-Spangled Avenger knows best that nothing is impossible and his team could be an example to the world of superheroes. Together, they stand against the worst reality and unreality can throw at them as the Avengers.
Ghost Rider. Balder the Brave. Hiroim the Oldstrong. Warlock the Technarch. Victorious. These are Captain America's recruits for his new Avengers team. They may have been officially deemed Avengers, but their trial by fire is just about to begin... beneath the waves...
Previously in Avengers...
- Captain America's Avengers have finally assembled. Despite an intervention from a certain fangirl in pink, it's safe to say that the world is going to feel more safer with the presence of even more of Earth's mightiest heroes.
- The former Herald of Doom, Victorious, now resides in New York City in a flat just beside Jessica Jones and Luke Cage. Oh, and their daughter, too.
- Balder has decided to spend more time on Earth. That doesn't mean he's no longer responsible of Asgard, however.
Plot Transcript for Devastation
The Avengers Tower
The issue starts with the introduction of a television news broadcast identified as WHiH Newsfront and promptly snaps back to reality with the view of news anchor, Gloria Grant, reporting on the news in the studio for the day.
- Gloria Grant: "Good morning everyone! This is Gloria Grant, and this is WHiH Newsfront! Hope you're having an amazing day and an awesome mood, 'cause today, we're going to cover some hot topics, beginning with the stealth announcement of Captain America's new Avengers! Next of that, we also have news concerning recent investigations to Baintronics Incorporated's shady business practices, the heroism of Officer Dave Lizewski in detaining the 'Punisher', Carlos Cruz, and a special coverage of SHIELD's new medical base which is set to be opened as a state-of-the-art public hospital! Without further ado, let's get right into the hot spot!"
The former Daily Bugle correspondent clears up her throat before sitting down on the news table, picking up and looking at her cue cards to see what's in store for the news.
- Gloria Grant: "Ahem. Alright, let's get into the first big news for the day. Last night, at 8 PM, the Avengers' official website has been updated to the surprise of all of us. Was it a hacker attack? Was it the start of a virus outbreak? Fortunately, no! Instead, a new heroic division, led by Captain America, has been added to the ever-expanding roster of the Avengers! As part of the Avengers Wave program, this prestigious superhero team has substantially expanded its numbers to include a greater portion of the superhuman community to better protect this planet. Not superhero or supervillain. Superhumans. Rumors had it that the Captain's chosen were quite... unorthodox, to say the least, and the announced membership sure did us quite a number! For once, nobody expected Ghost Rider to be an Avenger, let alone the controversial Herald of Doom who was an adversary of the Fantastic Four some time ago. Oh, hold on a sec... sorry, her name is Victorious, not the Herald of Doom. Okay, back on track. According to a paragraph in the website, the Star-Spangled Avenger stated that his team is meant to be a display of diversity and strength in adversity, and that's meant to be taken both literally and metaphorically. This new team is said to be capable of handling nearly every threat there is thanks to its versatile membership, tackling every challenge there is with their strong cooperation. If you haven't guessed it, the team's core is very much styled after Captain America, whose leadership is legendarily inspiring. Have I mentioned that one of them is Thor's brother? I'm not talking about Loki, I'm talking about Balder the Brave! If you Norse enthusiasts want to see someone from Asgard aside from Thor and Loki, there you have it. Right now, we have a reporter on-scene just outside of the Avengers Tower to present to you an exclusive interview with the Avengers! We're going over live to our correspondent. How's it going there, Dick?"
The panels and news screen switch perspective to the exterior of the Avengers Tower, where a man wearing a predominantly blue attire can be seen holding a microphone, accompanied by a man standing five inches taller than him, bearing a camera and wearing a mining suit of sorts.
Adapting to the modern world is no easy task. Captain America managed to get a hold of things rather handily thanks to the Avengers, who defrosted him, and spent a lot more time in the late twentieth century to the twenty first century. Sixteen months ago, a collection of lost heroes from the same era as the Shield-Slinger was unearthed beneath a construction site in Berlin. They woke up to a world unlike anything they've ever known, and they had to readjust their lives accordingly to the false utopia they woke up to. Not all of them survived the experience... but thankfully, those who survived the modern era attained jobs of their own and their lives.
Two of them, the Phantom Reporter and Rockman, were fortunate to make a living for themselves after months of tragedy and government assistance. For the former, Richard "Dick" Jones, not Rick, was lucky to have a position as both a writer at Daily Bugle and news reporter at WHiH Newsfront. His soul is of a journalist, anyway. The latter, Daniel Rose, also got a job in WHiH Newsfront, though that was because of Dick's suggestion and how he's practically the only sane person left he'd like to have as a partner. This 'cameraman' work's a side job for Rose, however. He found his true calling in Damage Control, where his strength is extremely useful in clearing out all the mess superhuman fights make. As a Stark subsidiary, Rose technically works for Iron Man, but he doesn't mind that. As long as he can do good and make a living, he's fine.
When Gloria referred to his name, Dick is still daydreaming, looking around New York in the morning hour. He can clearly hear Gloria repeating his name over and over again, but he's still distracted by both the awe of the Avengers Tower and whatever he's dreaming as of now. Mr. Rose goes on to wake him up.
- Daniel Rose / Rockman: "Uh, PR, it's your turn now."
Dick is still looking around, turning his eyes away from the camera and his friend.
- Rockman: "Dick? Newsfront's gonna fire you if you don't get to the news."
- Dick Jones / Phantom Reporter: "Hm, what? Oh! Oh, what was I thinking? Oh, I'm sorry, I was quite enamored by... well..."
- Rockman: "Okay, you're daydreaming. That's it."
- Phantom Reporter: "Yes, indeed. I apologize for losing my focus. (Clears throat) Good morning, viewers, this is Dick Jones, the Phantom Reporter, reporting live at the Avengers Tower. As you can see, it's not as crowded as usual, and that's because the Avengers Tower opens at 10 AM to the public. Luckily, thanks to an arrangement negotiated yesterday, I am given the permission to enter the Tower earlier to bring you an exclusive interview with the Avengers, starting with a good ol' friend of mine and their official leader, Captain America! While we await his arrival, I'll take you on a little sightseeing around the Tower. Now, let's get going, shall we?"
The two Golden Age superheroes proceed to enter the front gate of the Avengers Tower with a special keycard. Once inside, they find themselves within the Tower's lobby where power is just beginning to be distributed across the system. The information desk is devoid of the Stark AIs that act as artificial receptionists. Truly, the Tower is empty and dead. No one has seen the top floor, though.
- Phantom Reporter: "The Avengers Tower is a magnificent building, to say the least. It has state-of-the-art security, whatever that means, and it's the primary headquarters of Earth's Greatest -- I mean Mightiest -- Heroes, alongside the Avengers Mansion, which used to fulfill the same purpose back when the team was in its infancy. Of course, times change and the Avengers Tower is now practically New York's prime precinct for superpowered crime fighters. Now, with this access card that Jarvis fella gave me, we can explore most of this place and I know just the place to interest you viewers in!"
Rockman, bearing the camera, follows the Phantom Reporter's steps to a rather famous part of the lobby often visited by tourists: the Hall of Heroes. Within the Hall, a visual history of the Avengers is displayed on the walls, as well as every single Avenger that has ever been. Holographic images of the Avengers' current and former members are seen, also showing information on their current status and brief descriptions. Avengers part of the Wave protocol is also given a special mark to identify their participation and the team they belong to. Coincidentally, holographic images of Captain America's new Avengers can be seen, newly added to the Hall.
- Phantom Reporter: "Now this... is the Hall of Heroes. Been wanting to go here, myself, honestly, but I'm sure all you viewers out there have always wanted to visit this gallery. The Hall of Heroes is a pseudo-museum that tells the story of the Avengers from its beginnings up to this day. From what is known, the writings and pictures on these walls aren't real paintings or writings. They're more akin to digital screens (thank God I've learnt about those) that can be easily modified to accomodate new changes and sagas. I don't understand how that works, but hey, as long as it works! As you can see, these are holographic images of every Avenger there has been in history and if you're wondering, yes, Captain America's new bandmates have been given their own displays at the end of this hallway!"
Dick once again beckons Rockman to follow him, walking down the Hall of Heroes to see the holograms of Captain America's new recruits. Upon reaching the place, the Phantom Reporter proceeds to speak to the viewers once again...
- Phantom Reporter: "Now, you see that in a distance? Five new displays, all with holograms of our newest Avengers! And..."
... only to stop his words when he notices another person at the end of the hallway seeing the five new Avengers' constructs.
- Rockman: "Jones? I thought we're supposed to be the only ones here."
- Phantom Reporter: "Another guest with exclusive access, perhaps?"
- Gloria Grant: "(In the studio) Is everything alright, Dick?"
- Phantom Reporter: "(Whispering) Something's not right. Rose, keep recording."
The man at the end obviously knows of their presence but keeps on ignoring the duo, walking around and observing the nearby holograms of the Avengers. With his hands in his pockets and a laid-back attitude, something is just off with him. Considering no one is supposed to be there other than the two, Dick surmises that this man is an intruder. However, he cannot just accuse and attack him. The investigator he is, the Reporter opts for a more civilized approach.
They slowly walk towards the man, doing so in a casual manner, with ease and relaxation. Upon reaching a few meters of him, the Phantom Reporter, with his regular reporter smile, delivers a string of friendly yet inquisitive words to him.
- Phantom Reporter: "Good morning, sir! Dick Jones, WHiH Newsfront, how are you doing?"
- Man: "I'm doing great! Thanks for asking. What abou you, Dick?"
- Phantom Reporter: "Oh, I've never been better, sir! Now, if I may ask, what are you doing here?"
That question would be delivered with pressure if it wasn't delivered by Jones. Instead, he asks him in the same manner he asks tourists of their purpose of coming to the locale.
- Man: "I'm just looking around, you know? Heard last night that the Avengers got bigger and I wondered to myself if they'd add the new folks' statues in the Hall. Turns out, I was right."
- Phantom Reporter: "Good to know. Now, tell me, did you get a special admission pass to the Tower beforehand?"
- Man: "Yep. I got myself a Jarvis pass. Bought it yesterday online from the Avengers website."
- Phantom Reporter: "Awesome! Can I take a look?"
The man pulls out a hand from his pocket and hands him the special pass. Upon having it in his hands, Dick thoroughly examines the ticket. Legit, it's the exact type of ticket as his. Emphasis on exact; its serial number is the same as Dick's own ticket. The early entry pass can be bought either online or directly in the Avengers Mansion. PR went for the latter and acquired the pass from Edwin Jarvis himself for free due to his affiliation. Jarvis is also the administrator of the Avengers website, and despite his age, there's no way he can make the mistake of granting someone the same ticket as him.
After taking a good look at the ticket, PR smiles at the man and returns it to him. Then he takes another good look at him and begins to work on his instinct to see if this man is truly another tourist.
- Phantom Reporter: "Alright, nice to see that. Now, sir, if I may know, what do you think of Cap's new Avengers? Are you surprised at the line-up?"
- Man: "All of us are surprised, you know. I mean, who could've predicted that Cap recruited murderers?"
Back in the studio, the entire news crew goes silent as they hear his statement. In the background, Gloria can be heard speaking to another person behind the camera.
- Gloria Grant: "Gary, get me an ID on this guy."
- Phantom Reporter: "I... beg your pardon?"
- Man: "You recognize Ghost Riders, right? They burn criminals without mercy left and right without considering them and hurt innocents caught in the middle without a care. Then we have this... Victorious gal. She used to be Doom's slave! I'm not too convinced on the idea that she's free from her so-called 'mental conditioning' or the fact that she's still eighteen or so. I think she lacks the responsibility, and that she could end up killing undeserving people with all her angst. Plus, who's not to say that she's killed people on Doom's behalf?"
- Phantom Reporter: "I see. And what about the others? Hiroim and that Warlock fella seem to be good. Balder? He's a warrior from another dimension, anyway, so it's obvious that he's killed people before."
- Man: "All three of them already have obligations that fulfill the same purpose of being Avengers. Yeah, three or so X-Men are already in this overrated band, but must the Avengers steal from other superhero gatherings to make up their stuff? Sounds pretty egoistic, I should say. Plus, will any of us know if they leave the team immediately because they're recalled somewhere else to handle a global threat while they already have their hands full? I can't put my trust in a team of vigilantes with availability as scarce as food in the Third World."
Unbeknownst to the man, his very statement is being broadcasted in many different televisions across America. His opinion resonates with the grumblings of many disgruntled and mistrustful Americans for a good reason. Others? They're certainly either confused or amazed... or both.
(In the Baxter Building...)
Two of the Fantastic Four are watching television while sitting on a couch. Quite an obvious guess of who they are.
- Benjamin Grimm: "Who da palooka is this guy? Gotta give 'im cred, though. He's got guts."
- Johnny Storm: "I dunno, Ben, but you're right. This guy's blazin' bold!"
(In the Bar Sinister...)
- Mister Sinister: "(Is seen making an omelette) This display of bravado would be inspiring if he wasn't this stupid to be so bold..."
(In a suburban house far away from New York...)
- Abigail Boylen / Cloud 9: "(Watching TV while being huddled up on a couch) He's got a point. I'm a 'superhero' though, so..."
(In a classified safehouse, hidden in the wilderness...)
- Nathan Summers / Cable: "(Is seen maintaining his futuristic arms and armor while watching the TV) Can't that oldie just shoot him in the face?"
(In Wakanda...) The most advanced nation in Africa objects to the man's Third World statement.
- Shuri: "See, this is why I suggested the aid programs, brother!"
- T'Challa / Black Panther: "(Sigh) Shuri..."
(In the Peak, high above Earth's orbit...)
- Abigail Brand: "Asshole."
Back in the Hall of Heroes...
- Phantom Reporter: "Mhhm, I see. You're not too keen on this whole superhero thing, aren't you?"
- Man: "They make other people's lives miserable, buddy. You know, this world would've been free of supervillains and other freaks if superheroes hadn't been present."
The man pulls no punches in his words despite the presence of two superheroes in front of him and an audience that doesn't just encompass regular Americans.
(In an advanced hideout somewhere in Egypt...)
- En Sabah Nur / Apocalypse: "(Is watching a giant screen while armoring up) Clearly you know nothing of the world, lowborn!"
- Phantom Reporter: "Right, superheroes. Well, thank you for providing some of your time, sir. I hope you have an enjoyable day. Oh, by the way, may I ask you another question?"
- Man: "Sure. Just make it quick, I got places to be."
- Phantom Reporter: "What's your superpower?"
The flustered man immediately goes through a brief shock as he is stunned by the Phantom Reporter's statement. Despite this, he remains collected and displays no signs of fear.
- Man: "I'm sorry, what did you say?"
- Phantom Reporter: "I can't help but notice the nice handiwork you've been trying to hide from everyone. I see that you're a good welder, but you came here without any tools, so I assume your powers are related to heat. I mean, seriously, did you cut through that wall I see with your superheated hands? Too bad you can't hide the weld marks. Speaking of which, nice work with bringing the counterfeit card. Too bad you didn't even enter by the front door to deny my access. See this (takes out his own pass) thing over here? It has the same serial numbers as yours. You can't enter using cards of the same number, otherwise you'd be suspected as an impersonator."
- Man: "(Sniggers) You're a smart man. I'll give you that."
- Phantom Reporter: "They call me the Phantom Reporter for a reason. Gloria, you seeing this?"
- Gloria Grant: "(In studio) Dick, you have to get out! You're in great danger! He's... he's..."
- Man: "Do you mind telling her to shut up, 'Dick'?"
The man's superhuman hearing silences Gloria and attracts the Phantom Reporter. Turning his body partially towards him, Jones stares at him in conviction and gets himself ready for a scuffle.
- Phantom Reporter: "I don't know what you're planning here, but you're not getting away from this."
- Man: "You know, I've always wanted to be on TV. Show the world what a 'forgotten' man can do. You are a forgotten man, too, yes?"
- Phantom Reporter: "Either way, I'm not a hooligan or some terrorist armed with thinly-veiled threats and awful facades. The cops are on their way, now."
- Man: "It's 8:45 AM and the capes haven't awakened from their slumber parties yet."
- Phantom Reporter: "Daniel and I? We beg to differ."
Rockman immediately puts down his camera, placing the still-active device next to the display base of Starfox and cracking his knuckles after doing so.
- Gloria Grant: "Daniel? Dick? What's going on?"
- Rockman: "Call the cops, Glory. Just call whoever's on. We're gonna need detainment."
- Gloria Grant: "Hold on! Help is on the way! Rhodes, call NYPD! I'll go get Spider-Man."
As the news studio scrambles to respond to the situation by calling the police, Rockman and the Phantom Reporter prepare to fight the mystery man, taking their combat stances. The man simply smirks upon seeing this.
- Man: "Two men out of time, and none of you are Captain America. At least I get to kill someone other than Stark."
- Rockman: "You got a bone to pick with him?"
- Man: "I don't appreciate getting disintegrated."
- Phantom Reporter: "Well good for you, 'cause you're getting something far worse than disintegration."
- Man: "(Laughs) You don't know what you're dealing with. Poor you."
- Phantom Reporter: "You mind telling us first why you're here?"
- Man: "No."
- Phantom Reporter: "Smart. Care to tell us your name?"
- Man: "Mallen."
In an instance, the Extremis-powered terrorist bolts forward and delivers a mighty haymaker that sends both PR and Rockman, who's standing behind him, flying through the hall. The Reporter's impact is absorbed by Rockman's body, but that doesn't help him in recovering from that punch Mallen gave.
- Phantom Reporter: "God, that hurts! What is he made of?!"
- Rockman: "Jones, you good?"
- Phantom Reporter: "Give me a sec, I'll..."
- Mallen: "(Already standing near the two) You don't have a second."
Mallen continues his assault by breathing fire at them in hopes of incinerating them. Rockman puts his arms up to block the fires while the Phantom Reporter simply gets up and reacts quickly by burning him back with a stream of mystic fire. This sends Mallen stumbling back and falling on one of his knees as he is surprised at what he has just received.
- Mallen: "What the–did you just burn me?!"
- Phantom Reporter: "Courtesy of my old pal, Jack Castle!"
- Mallen: "Guessing that's magic, but that won't matter. I got a few tricks myself!"
From his palms and fingertips, Mallen unleashes powerful electrical discharges that PR barely evades. Unfortunately, they hit the newly-recovered Rockman, who has to endure the shock while screaming. Noticing this, Jones utilizes his superhuman leg strength to leap on to Mallen, unleashing a mighty knee strike that stuns the Extremis host. For Mallen, this is just a momentary disadvantage as he quickly dodges the Reporter's next attack, side-stepping his next punch to get behind him and suplex him.
Before Mallen can execute him, Rockman lunges forward with a battle cry and puts him down. On top of him, Rockman unleashes mighty earth-pounding smashes that visibly hurt him until he catches both of his hands.
- Mallen: "(Spits aside) That... hurt."
- Rockman: "Plenty more where that came from!"
- Mallen: "Unfortunately, I heal fast."
Mallen breathes fire point-blank at Rockman before kicking him up so high he hits the ceiling. When he falls down, Mallen punches his face so hard he gets sent into the lobby of the Tower. The Phantom Reporter, having stood up again, shoots his back several times with a pair of M1911 pistols. Problem is, he simply regenerates the wounds as if they're nothing.
- Mallen: "Told you."
He attempts to blitz him once again, but the anticipating Golden Age hero blasts a large fireball at him to halt his advance, opening him up for a boxing combo. The moment he tries to uppercut him, however, Mallen catches his hand and cuts his forearm with his pincer-like claws. Jones yells out in pain but gets silenced as Mallen chokes him, lifting the helpless hero up.
- Mallen: "Pitiful."
Dick is freed from the restraint when the Rockman signals his recovery by throwing three empty trash cans at him to distract Mallen. He charges at him with the intent to beat the pulp out of him, but Mallen being the lightning-fast terrorist he is responds with a tackle of his own that screws up his balance. Off-balance, Rockman was about to fall, but Mallen embeds his superheated hand into his chest before throwing him over his head to send him mewling on the ground.
- Phantom Reporter: Urgh... you're going down!"
- Mallen: "Actually, you're going down."
Mallen blasts a stream of electricity meant to cripple Jones' legs, but the relentless vigilante erects a flaming shield around him to absorb the damage. His opponent simply stops the attack a few seconds after the shield is made and opts to melee him again. Noticing this, Jones maintains the shield, but found it unable to prevent him from getting tackled through the hall and into the wall where he first entered through. Leaning on the welded wall, Jones tries his best to get up but gets kicked back to the wall by Mallen, who's already there before he can even fully stand.
- Mallen: "See, this is why you old timers should stay out of the superhero business. Times have changed. You're obsolete. Not even your brains are fast enough to see me jogging. At least Daniel over there can still put up a fight... but nevertheless, both of you are going to die here, 'tween the rubble of this forsaken tower."
- Phantom Reporter: "You're... bombing this place?"
- Mallen: "You figured it out even without half an arm. Good. Thing is, you're too wounded to escape this place within thirty seconds, so you're as good as dead. Am I going to leave you here alive for the last seconds of your life?"
Mallen answers his own question by dismembering both of Jones' legs, nearly killing him but leaving him in pain.
- Mallen: "Yes, but not with your legs. Now, if you don't mind, I got places to be. See ya."
Mallen proceeds to kick aside the crippled Golden Age hero to exit the place the same way he did. When he tries to superheat his hands and open the wall, however, he finds himself unable to even heat it up.
- Mallen: "The *@(! is this?"
- Rockman: "That would be karma."
Mallen turns around to see Rockman standing tall without a single trace of his previous wounds. His clothes look as if it's just been washed and his chest is without a hole, and his chest piece has no mark of Mallen's hot punch.
- Mallen: "Heh. You heal, too?"
- Rockman: "We all heal, Mallen. I just got an extra R&R courtesy of Ms. Victorious over here.
Much to his surprise, Victorious, the new cosmic-powered Avenger, flies up from behind Rockman's back, hovering and fully garbed in his battlewear with his spear at hand. Seeing this, Mallen gives a snarl before tilting around his head to see other ways to escape.
- Mallen: "You... you won't leave this place alive! None of you will!"
- Victorious: "Your bombs are small and many, but the Power Cosmic is greater and everywhere. It's not hard to disarm them if you just will it to."
- Mallen: "You think I don't have a back-up plan, huh?"
- Victorious: "Oh, those spare bombs in your pocket? They won't be beeping any time sooner. You may want to be careful of who's next to you, by the way."
Apparently, Victorious has healed the Phantom Reporter, giving back his legs and arms, as well as an enhancement to his pyrokinesis. With this enhancement, he dishes out two mystic fire-infused punches at the Extremis host before throwing him down to the ground near Rockman and Victorious.
Vukovic lands on the ground, standing just in front of Mallen. In rage, Mallen tries to claw off her face to no avail, even breaking apart his claws and prompting him to yell in pain. In response, the unhurt Victorious simply puts her hand on his neck and channels the Power Cosmic to both knock him out and neutralize the Extremis virus within him without hassle. In an instance, Mallen falls down on the ground, blacked out in unconsciousness.
- Victorious: "That should do it."
- Rockman: "We nearly died trying to hit him and he couldn't even scratch you!"
- Victorious: "I guess I have the Power Cosmic to thank for."
- Rockman: "Well, whatever it is, you have our thanks, Mrs. Victorious."
- Victorious: "You... are welcome, Mr. Rockman."
- Phantom Reporter: "(Walks towards the two while examining his arm and legs) I don't know how you did that, but I guess I know why the Captain chose you, Vic. You have my gratitude."
- Victorious: "Thank you, Mr. Reporter."
- Phantom Reporter: "(Laughs) You're welcome. Daniel, is the camera still alive?"
- Rockman: "I'm pretty sure it recorded my near-death experience. Hold on... fixin' it in a second."
Rockman goes over to the Starfox display to recover his camera, thankfully surviving the entire experience. While doing so, NYPD's finest timely arrives and swarms the scene, apprehending the motionless Mallen. Rockman examines his camera and sees that it's well. For a moment, the screens of a million televisions are filled with Daniel's face until he turns it around to resume his job.
- Rockman: "We're goin' live, PR."
- Phantom Reporter: "I ain't got a mike, I'm afraid."
Victorious promptly propels PR's microphone towards her, which was dropped during the fight near the display of Falcon.
- Victorious: "(Gives the mike to PR) Here you go. It is undamaged, trust me."
- Phantom Reporter: "I trust you in that, kiddo (giggles). Daniel, roll it!"
- Rockman: "It's already rolling."
- Phantom Reporter: "Oh, uh... good morning, folks! I'm Dick Jones, the Phantom Reporter, back at you again with the Avengers Tower report! Uh... Glory, are you there?"
In the studio, Gloria Grant hastily makes her way back to the recording area, resuming her duty as a news anchor after Spider-Man apparently failed to respond her call.
- Gloria Grant: "Yeah, yeah, I'm here! Good God, are you okay? We just saw Daniel nearly die!"
- Phantom Reporter: "Don't worry, Glory. He's back in one piece thanks to a certain Avenger standing right beside me. We gonna resume this?"
- Gloria Grant: "Yup. Hold on a minute, there. (Turns to studio camera) Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, we apologize for the previous interference, because apparently, that interview with Captain America turned out to be a supervillain disaster. Guess we have a new headline for the day, so I hope you viewers out there are still up for the latest news! The Avengers Tower was apparently intruded upon by one of Iron Man's old rogues named Mallen, who possesses powers granted by the Extremis virus, which was thought to have been destroyed... until now. Luckily, both our reporter and cameraman are former superheroes, and a certain angelic Avenger arrived just in time to apprehend the crook. Let's go live once again at the Avengers Tower with our correspondent, Dick Jones."
(Camera is active once again.)
- Gloria Grant: "How's it hangin', Dick?"
- Phantom Reporter: "We're fine, Gloria, we're fine! In all honestly, we nearly died trying to fight against that Mallen fella, but we were fortunate to have Mrs. Victorious over here saving us and the Tower at the last moment. Mallen was about to bomb the place to oblivion with particularly powerful small bombs, but they've been deactivated by our new Latverian Avenger, effectively saving the day. The cops have just arrested Mallen, and I'm quite sure Mr. Stark will want to have some words with him once he is imprisoned. In the meantime, that Captain America interview I promised may have to wait. Instead, we'll settle for our lifesaver this very day, Victorious. Would you like to say hello to the viewers at home, Ms. Victorious?"
- Victorious: "Uh.. hi!"
- Phantom Reporter: "Awesome! Now, can you please tell me what you were doing before coming to the Avengers Tower? From the looks of it, you seem to be the only Avenger to be here! Where are the others?"
- Victorious: "Well, you know... yesterday, there was an initiation ceremony of sorts for the Captain's new Avengers, which... includes me. He had us all exclaim 'Avengers Assemble', but none of us could shout out such a battle cry because my new teammate, Warlock, bellowed so hard we were paralyzed for a second... hehe. Then, we were supposed to go to the Avengers Tower to see our supposed headquarters at the top floor, but Iron Man said that we should do that tomorrow... which is today. We agreed to confer in this precise second, so it seems that I'm the first Avenger to come here and attend to this... massacre (slight laugh). For the others, I'm sure they will be here any moment now..."
True to her cosmic sense, the name of 'Captain America' is spoken in excitement and enthusiasm by the police officers near the front gate and around the scene. In his civilian clothes, Rogers makes his way to the Hall of Heroes, where Mallen caused quite the ruckus. On the way, he takes a look at the unconscious Mallen himself and shakes his head in disapproval. Once in the Hall, however, his expression turns into one of glee upon encountering two of his fellow 'old timers' and a new recruit of his.
- Phantom Reporter: "Whaddaya know, Vic? The first of the others turns out to be Mr. Star-Spangled Liberty Man himself!"
- Steve Rogers: "If it isn't the infamous Phantom Reporter and the King of Abyssmia!"
Rogers proceeds to hug his old friend and give a handshake to Rockman, who's bearing the camera. Victorious gets a nod of approval from him and blushes, of all the reactions that can be expressed.
- Phantom Reporter: "Well, folks, it seems that we're getting that Captain America interview after all! Heck, maybe we'll get the entire Avengers to be interviewed!"
- Steve Rogers: "They'll be here, Dick. I'm not sure if they are going for the lobby, though."
- Phantom Reporter: "Alright then. You people aren't in a hurry, right?"
Victorious turns her face to Captain America to ask him so by raising an eyebrow.
- Steve Rogers: "Avengers Wave hasn't popped off, yet, so we should be able to give you five-and-a-half-minute. We need to be prepared at any given moment, Dick."
- Phantom Reporter: "I understand, Captain. Now, how do you feel about founding a new Avengers team? You should know that none of us were expecting yesterday's announcement, so it's quite a surprise for us all to know that you didn't do a press conference of sorts to announce the line-up."
- Steve Rogers: "A press conference would be a disaster, Dick. There's no telling what manner of interference could happen there. Judging from Mallen's appearance here, who knows what manner of damage he could bring to such a public event? Besides, it was an opportunity for me to try some of those editing things."
- Phantom Reporter: "Oh! So those are your words stamped in the website, yes?"
- Steve Rogers: "My very own, Jones. Stark had to help me with the more technical stuffs, but it worked in the end."
- Phantom Reporter: "Hm, I see, I see. Alright, Cap, how long do you think that your Avengers will last?"
Rogers takes a moment to digest his question, thinking as if the universe stops for a while. Even Victorious can sense the confusion and doubt in his mind.
- Steve Rogers: "I'm sorry, could you repeat that question?"
- Phantom Reporter: "How long do you think that your Avengers will last? Or, perhaps, the entire Avengers team as a whole?"
- Steve Rogers: "I'm looking forward to working with the team for another decade or so. There may be casualties considering our line of work and the many enemies we have from both outer space and the inner boroughs, but I believe that the team will survive. I think that the very concept of being an 'Avenger' will remain until the next decade or even century. There may be a time when superheroes won't be required anymore. But when that time comes, we, the Avengers, will remain fighting for good in more mundane ways. That's all I say, and for once, I made my choice in recruiting these Avengers, so I'm not backing off from them."
- Phantom Reporter: "Amazing! Considering some — if not all — of your Avengers and the main team are immortal, we might as well believe in what you just said."
- Steve Rogers: "Most of us are still humans, I must remind. It's just that when some of us pass away, others will carry our torches 'til the end of the line."
- Phantom Reporter: "Quite the positive outlook there, old buddy. I like it! Speaking of which, Captain, not all of your recruits are into the Avengers considering that most of them are already parts of other superhero agencies. What would you do if one day your team is called upon to deal with a global threat, only for some of them to be called back to their home teams to deal with other equally-endangering situations?"
- Steve Rogers: "We will see how severe the cases are. Otherwise, we're sticking together. I'm not restricting them from returning to their home teams, but I'd rather have all hands on deck to handle the biggest threats that I'm sure we'll be tackling. On another note, I am working on a reserve program, but that'll take some time."
- Phantom Reporter: "Good to know! At least we know that you're not without contingencies. Am I in your reserve list?"
- Steve Rogers: "(Chuckles) We'll see."
- Phantom Reporter: "Anyways, the Avengers may be busy in defending our world from exploding or imploding, but what would you guys do if you get a couple of day-offs?"
- Steve Rogers: "That depends on the time. I'll let them do anything that's rational or just alright, but I expect them all to be present once their presences are required. Besides, there's a reason why most of my Avengers can teleport."
In her mind, Victorious realizes the true genius of Captain America as she recounts how every single one of her teammates are capable of fast transportation. Ghost Rider can practically teleport using whatever magic she has and if it's not viable, she has a bike. Balder can literally jump from one galaxy to another with the presence of light. Hiroim can teleport using his Old Power and Warlock can become anything, so he can just transform into a supersonic spaceship for transport purposes. Her? She may have taken the cab to the Tower, but she can do what the Silver Surfer can do; she just needs further training.
- Phantom Reporter: "Wow, your team is versatile. If I recall, your team is meant to handle many, many different perils, right?"
- Steve Rogers: "Magical threats, domestic crisis, interdimensional intrusions, you name it."
- Phantom Reporter: "Public relation problems?"
- Steve Rogers: "That'd be domestic crisis."
The two share a laugh over the subtle joke and Victorious simply smiles in response, briefly looking at the camera before turning away in embarassment.
- Phantom Reporter: "Oh, that was good. Anyways, folks, I guess we all can feel far more secure knowing that Cap's Avengers has us covered. Before going back to the studio, however, I'm going to move over here and ask Ms. Victorious a few questions myself. Do you mind, Lady?"
- Victorious: "Yes. Wait—no, I mean no! Just... ask me what is appropriate, sir. Sorry"
- Phantom Reporter: "Ah, that's okay, just relax, alright?"
- Victorious: "Yes."
- Phantom Reporter: "Mrs. Victorious, how do you feel being an Avenger? It must be hard for a person with a... let's just say 'tattered' past like yours to be a major superhero."
- Victorious: "I'm... anxious, but I admit that I've felt better ever since Mr. Rogers came to me. People don't like me because I used to work for Doom. I say this: I fight for Latveria as an Avenger. I care not for what anyone thinks of me, I'm still an Avenger who wants to make the world a better place for everyone, Latverian or not."
- Phantom Reporter: "Now that's the spirit! Victorious, does Doctor Doom approve your status as an Avenger?"
- Victorious: "Yes."
- Phantom Reporter: "That is comfortably assuring. By the way, do you count as a US citizen or Latverian?"
- Victorious: "Uh... uh..."
- Captain America: "She has dual-citizenship to allow her to reside both in the United States and Latveria."
- Victorious: "O—okay, I don't recall..."
- Captain America: "I've spoken with the immigration, Vic. You're already considered a US citizen, but you and I will have to manage your ID card together one day."
- Victorious: "You did this yesterday? After..."
- Captain America: "After that little festivity we did? Yes."
- Phantom Reporter: "O, that's so generous of you. At least now we know that bureaucracy isn't going to be the death of any Avenger!"
- Captain America: "(Chuckles) Hopefully."
- Victorious: "Uh, Captain, I think I can sense Alejandra, Warlock, Balder, and Hiroim upstairs."
- Captain America: "Well, guess it is time to assemble."
- Phantom Reporter: "That was quite an informative interview, I should say! Even though I honestly have a lot more questions to ask for the viewers! Nevertheless, thank you for providing us with some of your time, folks. See you around, Cap!"
- Captain America: "See ya around, too, Dick. Hope you got the coverage you needed."
- Phantom Reporter: "Don't worry. I think we just got way too much coverage earlier this morning. Thanks! Alright, Gloria, handing this one back to you. I'm Dick Jones, WHiH Newsfront."
(In the studio...)
- Gloria Grant: "Alright then, marvelous job! Thank you, Jones, and yup, it's certain, folks. The world is going to feel so much safer with the presence of Captain America's Avengers, and by now, we can all surmise that they'll be bringing justice to every corner around the world! It's just up to the governments on this planet to allow their operations to run on their soils, and let's wish they all are approving of the Avengers. Even Doctor Doom permits his nation's champion to join the ranks of Earth's Mightiest Heroes! Regardless, there's no telling what change the Avengers could bring upon this world with another team of powerful beings, but here's hoping that they can change the world thoroughly. Alright then, moving on to the next segment..."
Top Floor of the Avengers Tower
In the team's base of operation inside a conference on the top floor of the Avengers Tower, four of Captain America's recruits are seen sitting around, awaiting for the arrival of both their leader and 'junior' teammate. Of course, no one's a junior in the team, though Victorious is clearly the youngest of them all. Alejandra Jones, despite her rather mature outlook, is actually just three years older than Vukovic herself. If Cap hadn't recruited them, they would've been suitable candidates for the Young Avengers.
- Warlock: "Self knows not about you, but would you like to watch something while we're here? Self has access to every channel and website there is in the world."
- Balder: "I doubt any of them are even remotely entertaining. I'll pass."
- Hiroim: "Can you replay programmes that we may have missed?"
- Warlock: "In the form of video archives, yes. Self can easily find them through the internet! Even though self doesn't like it..."
- Alejandra Jones: "Hm? Why so? I'm guessing you don't like all sorts of dark !*^$ us humans have to offer in the web."
- Balder: "This coming from a Ghost Rider?"
- Alejandra Jones: "(Chuckles) Just saying. Is there any form of entertainment back in your world?"
- Warlock: "Technarchy only cares about classification and repurposing. Self only knows what 'entertainment' means when self arrived on this planet. Self appreciates selfsoulfriend, Doug, in showing self how to have fun. And to answer your question, self is deeply disturbed by what you call the dark web."
- Alejandra Jones: "Oh, that. A lot of messed up #^!> in there, I heard. Lucky I don't have a phone."
- Hiroim: "Hmm. I wonder what's in this 'dark web' thing. What is so messed up about it? Is there anything more terrifying than death, suffering, and misery?"
- Balder: "Torment, denial, and the unknown. Must I remind you of the universe we live in?"
- Alejandra Jones: "Yeah, yeah, we have like, twenty five different hells, heavens, and a million pantheons out there, including yours. World-eaters, sin-eaters, whales, you got 'em."
- Warlock: "Query: Does self-friend: Alejandra Jones have cetaphobia?"
- Hiroim: "What does that mean?"
- Balder: "(Chuckles) He's asking if Mrs. Hellfire over here is afraid of whales."
- Alejandra Jones: "I've been to Hell and back before, and you assume I'm afraid of whales? Well, I've been eaten by a whale before..."
- Hiroim: "Was it pleasant?"
- Alejandra Jones: "It was a demonic whale the size of a football stadium that eats the souls of the damned like it eats planktons. Plus, Mephisto bred it for some *&#$%^@ reason."
- Warlock: "Self cannot comprehend how it looks like, but now, we can all agree that the dark web is the scariest thing humans have made, yes?"
- Balder: "Followed by whales (laughs)."
- Alejandra Jones: "Oh, shut up, shiny!"
A few moments later, the door to the brightly-lit conference room opens, revealing the remaining Avengers' presence. Rogers is already seen in his superhero attire, complete with his shield. He's also bringing a shoebox of some sort that brims with Wakandan inscriptions, which Balder quickly understands with his Allspeak. Although it is called Allspeak, this ability that's possessed by every deity in existence also extends to writings.
- Captain America: "Good morning, everyone. How are you all doing?"
- Hiroim: "Ready for battle."
- Alejandra Jones: "Yup."
- Warlock: "Yes."
- Balder: "Indeed."
- Captain America: "That's some response you all got there. Good to see you all are here in one piece. Though I am certain you missed out on the action in the lobby."
- Alejandra Jones: "What happened down there?"
- Victorious: "There was a break-in. This man named Mallen planted some bombs the size of marbles and nearly killed two hero-reporters."
- Hiroim: "Reporters? Here, in the Avengers Tower?"
- Victorious: "They were going to interview Captain America, and to be fair, they did exactly that, but not before trying to defeat Mallen. Failure happened to be upon that, however."
- Alejandra Jones: "Gee, that's sad. They still alive?"
- Victorious: "I healed them. One of them had his heart nearly melted and one lost both his legs and right arm."
- Alejandra Jones: "Damn, that's just hardcore."
- Warlock: "Query: Why is self-friend: Captain America bringing a shoebox with Wakandan letters? Self sees both Balder's and Captain America's name there."
- Balder: "As do I, Captain. You have me some new shoes to wear?"
- Captain America: "Correct. Although hitting your heel isn't easy, we still don't want you to be decomissioned the moment someone hits you there with a stick."
Upon hearing his statement, Balder lets out an expression that says he's done and how he is utterly bewildered by his realization.
- Balder: "Captain, did you consult this with my brother?"
- Captain America: "He didn't seem to mind about these boots."
- Balder: "Do you have any idea how bedazzled am I by your error? My weakness lies in the mistletoe, NOT my heel! What gave you the idea that I am Achilles and that the 'mistletoe' equates to 'heel'?"
- Captain America: "Oh..."
The room went silent for a while, realizing the awkwardness and ridiculousness of the situation.
- Warlock: "(Sniggers) Explanation: The mistletoe is a plant known to be toxic for most of the part."
- Hiroim: "So, Balder is weak to poisons?"
- Balder: "NO! Just... Odin's enchantment gave me vulnerability to the mistletoe as a side-effect to my invincibility! Oh, by Odin's beard..."
The entire room, save for Balder, bursts to laughter in hearing Balder's comical frustration and critical research failure clearly done by a certain person that's supposedly the head of all of this.
- Captain America: "Dammit... I don't even... you know what? Just wear it. It might be useful for you in the future."
The Sentinel of Liberty unboxes the container to unveil a pair of footwear that looks more like socks instead of boots, sandals, or shoes. He brings them out and gives them to Balder for examination.
- Captain America: "You like going straight towards the enemy to kill them as fast as possible, but there's no telling when stealth will be your best option. Put it on. Overlay them on your boots."
Balder gives a cynical look at his 'leader' as he puts on the 'Wakandan socks'. Upon wearing them, the 'socks' immediately go invisible, briefly glowing with Wakandan runes of protection which Balder handily recognizes.
- Balder: "Interesting. I can feel the magic of Wakanda flowing through these... socks."
- Captain America: "Try walking with it."
Balder stands up and does so, discovering that his footsteps make no noise whatsoever and that he can apparently walk on walls (vertical surfaces) similar to how the Midgardian hero, 'Spider-Man', crawls on walls. Balder ends up hanging upside down, standing on the ceiling.
- Balder: "This is amazing! Even though your mistake was soundly offensive, I like walking with these socks!"
- Warlock: "Self sees no socks... self only sees Balder's sabatons."
- Captain America: "They can only be seen if Balder puts them away. Speaking of which, you can just drop down from the ceiling if you want, but considering your weight... well, I suggest you return here by walking back the way you did."
The God of Light does exactly that and obeys the Captain's command. At least he knows that he can be relied on for orders.
- Balder: "Thank you for the socks, Captain. I'll make sure I wear it along with me at all times, so that none can strike my heel while showering."
- Captain America: "(Chortles) Whatever you say, Balder."
- Victorious: ""So... what do we do now?"
- Captain America: "Right, let's get into the serious business now. You all may take a seat."
Captain America's commanding voice prompts everyone to return to their seats. After seeing that everyone's prepared to listen to him, Captain America begins his session.
- Captain America: "On a serious note, I thank you all for coming here on time. Though I expected you all to arrive earlier, regardless of Mallen's presence or not. Let that be a lesson in precision, Avengers. We don't want to be late in saving others in need. In this case, you are all lucky because the one threat the Avengers Wave didn't report due to the lack of witnesses was already handled by two veterans and Victorious. Speaking of the Avengers Wave, do you all have your cards with you?"
- Balder: "One second."
Balder teleports out of the room through the lamp lighting up the room, catching everyone by surprise as they didn't expect the act. Three second later, Balder returns with his Identicard in hand.
- Balder: "Apologies, Captain. I nearly forgot bringing it along."
- Captain America: "Alright then. So, I know not all of you have access to phones, but in this case, your Identicards act as your substitute phones as Avengers. Warlock, do you know how Avengers Wave works?"
- Warlock: "It is an application that transmits civilian reports of ongoing criminal activities to any Avenger within a five-kilometer radius. Self did research, you know."
- Alejandra Jones: "Five kilometers only? I know that's already a lot, but we don't know if we're even going to be around New York when we're out in, I don't know, space, saving worlds?"
- Captain America: "Warlock is correct, but the five-kilometer radius doesn't represent the width of the message's receival. Of course, we can't handle every crime in the world in one second, but the application still records incoming reports coming from virtually every single corner of this planet. The Identicard will inform you either visually or auditorily, or both as you will it, of the closest crime scenes and the most dangerous of situations. If you're wondering how the Identicard does that, it essentially creates a holographic map of the locale you're in so you can tell which way you should be going and all."
- Hiroim: "So it's like a phone, but worse?"
- Captain America: "Unlike a phone, the Identicards cannot be tracked by satellite or GPS, so we won't be getting ambushes from internet enthusiasts with these."
- Hiroim: "Ah, I see. I feel so much enlightened now, and that was no sarcasm."
- Victorious: "Heh. You wish."
- Balder: "If it cannot be tracked through your mortal means, then how do we all know the positions of other Avengers through the card?"
- Captain America: "These Identicards are internally managed by Stark's A.V.E.N.G.E.R AI. I don't know how it works, but it just works. It locks on to each card's unique signals and transmits the data strictly through the Avengers Network, which is basically our own personal internet space."
- Warlock: "Wait, what?! We have our own world wide web?!"
- Captain America: "If you put it that way... yeah. I'm not too tech-savvy on this matter."
- Victorious: "Are these all... legal, if I may ask?"
- Captain America: "We use this responsibly as heroes, Vukovic. We're not using it to intrude on the privacy of other people."
- Victorious: "Well, yeah, but still... does anyone know of this outside of the Avengers?"
- Captain America: "Not at all. We can't risk getting it attacked. Though, of course, we share this information to other heroes in our community. Thing is, I'm rather convinced now that a lot of other people have already known about it."
(Cut to an advanced base in a hidden location, where the Mad Thinker can be seen working on his console to break in the Avengers Network.)
- Mad Thinker: "Grah! Eleven hours of work and I still can't get through this damn firewall!"
(Back to the Tower)
- Alejandra Jones: "Figures. So, the card is like Amber Alert for superheroes?"
- Balder: "What's an Amber Alert?"
- Alejandra Jones: "Child abduction emergency message. Usually broadcast on TV to inform of a child's disappearance."
- Victorious: "That's convenient of you to have in America."
- Alejandra Jones: "I'm Nicaraguan."
- Victorious: "Ah, I apologize..."
- Alejandra Jones: "No pressure. Besides, back in Nicaragua, no one really cares about lost children."
- Balder: "Except you."
- Alejandra Jones: "Eh, all the lost children go to Esperanza, eventually. Also, even if Nicaragua's a *&@! country, many good men are still there. Ironic of me to say that, remembering how many crooked cops I sent to Hell."
- Captain America: "We'll be fighting against trafficking rings if the reports come in, Alejandra. Do you mind doing that, Balder?"
- Balder: "If these slavers happen to have hired the services of giants and demons, no."
- Captain America: "We'll see."
- Victorious: "I.. sympathize with you, Alejandra. Latveria has no Amber Alert whatsoever. If someone reports missing children, the answer would either be silence or nation-wide searches conducted by Doombots."
- Hiroim: "The silence implies non-responsiveness."
- Victorious: "Our police officers all work for Doom, and they are fed his all-knowing wisdom. If they are silent... then there is a chance that those children were abducted by Doom himself for unknown purposes."
- Alejandra Jones: "*#(@, that's dark. You know this and you still work for Doom?"
- Victorious: "I should inform you that after the silence, the missing kids would usually turn up in their houses, safe and sound... Doom never lets future generations be lost to the horrors of mankind or beyond."
- Hiroim: "Hmph. This Doom character is ambiguous, I see. But this is no time to speak of him. Respect your lords, and they will help you along the way. Unless they happen to be tyrannical maniacs."
- Balder: "Wise words, Oldstrong. Now, I must ask, is it possible for us to receive false transmissions?"
- Captain America: "Stark said that the AVENGER is a product of both tech and magic, the implication being that it's infallible. Thing is, nothing of human produce is perfect, so all we can do to counter these... 'deceptions' is to adapt."
- Warlock: "Self can help with analyzing the authenticity of the signals, you know."
- Captain America: "That's why you're here, Warlock."
The happy Technarch exudes a number of gleeful noises.
- Balder: "Alright, now that is cleared out, what shall we do next?"
Balder's answer and the Avengers' call to action come at the same time as an emergency alarm blares throughout the conference room. Cap hasn't told them, but if this kind of thing happens, that means something big is brewing, and it's a priority situation the Avengers has to answer.
- AVENGER AI: "WARNING: INCOMING PRIORITY CALL FROM NAMOR THE SUB-MARINER. CURRENT LOCATION: ATLANTIS. IMPLIED THREAT ANALYSIS: HIGH. RECOMMEND IMMEDIATE RESPONSE."
- Captain America: "Call accepted. Put it on the screen now, AVENGER."
- Victorious: "Whoa, our first mission already? We just handled Mallen a couple of minutes ago?"
- Captain America: "This is exactly why I advised you to always be ready. Now, what's he got himself into now..."
- Warlock: "Gee! Self excited!"
- Hiroim: "Calm yourself my friend. There is no telling if Namor is coming as a friend... or foe."
- Balder: "Is he not a hero like Captain America himself?"
- Alejandra Jones: "Oh, trust me, he's not what you think he is. He is so damn flexible he can switch from being Hitler to Dunant in three seconds."
- Balder: "Who is Dunant?"
- Warlock: "He is the founder of the Red Cross, self-friend: Balder. It is an organization that helps people in dire times through logistical means!"
- Balder: "So he can be either malevolent or benevolent within a moment's notice?"
- Alejandra Jones: "You can say that."
- Hiroim: "As an ally, he is formidable and relentless. As an adversary, he is someone you don't want to mess with, no matter who you are."
- Balder: "Heh. He has yet to taste Asgardian steel."
The big LED screen soon displays the face of Namor the Sub-Mariner, one of the planet's strongest heroes... and villains. The city of Atlantis, seemingly in ruins, can be seen in the background, though the view is obscured by the facility Namor is in, which seems to be a laboratory of some kind. Curiously, Namor's usual smug outlook is nowhere to be seen. A look of concern and severity can be seen in his face, and the first thing the Avengers see of his face is it facing to the side barking orders.
- Namor: "Get him to the Infirmary, now!"
- ???: "But... he's a surface-dweller!"
- Namor: "JUST GO!"
- ???: "As you wish, King Namor!"
- Namor: "Bah, this has all gone to hell. (Notices the Avengers) Rogers! Thank Neptune, you respond! For a moment, I thought this Avengers Wave thing was useless!"
- Captain America: "Namor, what is going on?"
- Namor: "Give me a moment, Captain... this... they... they've just left."
- Captain America: "What is it, Namor? Who are they? Tell me! The Avengers can help you, just tell us what's the situation."
Namor looks back to scan if the coast is clear. The sounds of war and battle he heard have disappeared... and it seems that the threat to Atlantis has been handled. Seeing that all is well, Namor proceeds to give the rundown of his situation to the Avengers.
- Namor: "Listen well, Avengers. Eight hours ago, a Kree vessel entered the Pacific Ocean and attacked the city of Mu. I did not know how they could get past you surface-dwellers' atmospheric defenses, but when they attacked, they left no survivors and razed Mu to the ground. An hour later, Oceanus suffered a similar fate, but it thankfully survived. Two hours later, Kalumesh was devastated to its last atom... just like Mu. No survivors. Nothing. Four hours later... Atlantis itself was attacked. As you can see, we weathered off the Kree's attack, but we suffered heavy casualties and damage in the process. My wife... Dorma... went into a deep coma after their cursed leader blasted her! Stingray... Doctor Newell... he was stomped to near-death by a Sentry. I cannot tell if he could survive that... and I just sent him away to the Royal Infirmary, not knowing if our healing methods are compatible with his physiology. I... I need your help in defeating these Kree, Rogers! But my wounds are too great... I cannot participate in battle with you."
- Captain America: "You can rest yourself for the moment, Namor. We'll be in Atlantis shortly. Do you know why they are here, attacking Atlantean cities?"
- Namor: "Would you believe me if I say it?"
In the background, the rest of the Avengers have a chatter by themselves about the situation and other things.
- Alejandra Jones: "Blue-on-blue violence. Cool."
- Hiroim: "What is so awe-inspiring of that?"
- Alejandra Jones: "Never expected the Kree to fight the Atlanteans, considering both of them are, well, militant blue-skinned dicks."
- Warlock: "Either way, this isn't good, self-friends!"
- Victorious: "Agreed. Just let Cap sort this out first, alright?"
- Alejandra Jones: "You know you're very by-the-book, right?"
- Victorious: "Well, how am I supposed to be a rebel? I don't like rock bands or going against authority! Especially the kind that balances freedom and order! Like Cap's! I kind of like metal bands, though... and a little bit of classical."
- Balder: "Perhaps we should go to one of those 'metal band' concerts after this."
- Alejandra Jones: "Oh no, you don't... (smirks)"
- Captain America: "Just say it, Namor."
- Namor: "They seek to summon forth the Elder God, Set, to this world."
- Balder: "I beg your pardon, but did you just say the the Kree are attempting to revive Set, the Serpent God of Evil?"
- Namor: "I meant what I said, Asgardian, and I will not deny how surprised you and I both are in knowing this."
- Alejandra Jones: "Set, huh? Doesn't sound that intimidating."
- Balder: "You will find it intimidating once you know that Set is the first murderer in the history of this entire world and the first demon there is. Before every demon in existence, Set was the first of these unquenchable evils. He was an Elder God: a deity before deities, born from the life-force of Midgard itself! Should he return, the world will be faced with a calamity unlike any other! He would bring forth a Ragnarok of his own making! Yet now... he has the Kree attempt to manifest him? They don't even belong to this realm!
- Warlock: "Self understands the threat this 'Set' creature poses. However, self has something that is far more terrifying to behold."
- Captain America: "What is it?"
- Warlock: "This Set is a god of Earth. Born of Earth, born to rule on this planet, born to be worshipped on this planet, yes?"
- Balder: "Aye."
- Warlock: "Self postulates that every god that holds domain in this world are all bound to certain geographical standards in terms of worship. True?"
- Balder: "That's the reason why every pantheon on this planet coexists."
- Warlock: "See, Set is an Earth god no matter how powerful he is, so he should only be worshipped by Earthlings, right?"
- Balder: "He used to be worshipped by his Serpent-Men even before Atlantis' fall. There is no telling if they are still alive to this day."
- Namor: "I know these Serpent-Men. They haven't been spotted for years, but I know for sure that they're lurking out there, somewhere. But all and all, yes, they are from this planet."
- Warlock: "Now think about it. Do gods draw power from constant worship, Balder?"
- Balder: "Aye."
- Warlock: "Has Set been worshipped by Earthlings actively throughout centuries?"
- Balder: "That question cannot be answered for sure since we know not of how many Serpent-Men and madmen out there are still under his thrall."
- Warlock: "The point still stands. Add this with the fact that he's an Earth god, then let us wonder: If he lacks the power due to the minimal prayers he receives and the planet's boundary... how can he get the Kree to worship him?"
A moment of slight dread and silence ensue as everyone and Namor contemplate of the implication. Set has somehow gained the power to breach through the barrier that separates the domain between gods... and he doesn't even need worshippers...
- Captain America: "Look... Namor, how do you know the Kree are trying to 'resurrect' — if that's the right word — Set?"
- Namor: "I questioned their leader in-combat with her. She said they were looking for the Serpent Crown."
- Victorious: "That name sounds familiar..."
- Captain America: "It is. The Avengers have fought against HYDRA and many others over that blasted thing. I thought it was destroyed, though. Namor?"
- Namor: "Yes, it should have been destroyed. But it seems that when one crown is destroyed, another one appears."
- Alejandra Jones: "Well, that's a bummer. I assume wherever it is, it's somewhere in Atlantean territories?"
- Namor: "An astute observation... who are you?"
Alejandra turns herself into Ghost Rider for some seconds to show Namor who she is.
- Namor: "I did not expect a Ghost Rider in your roster, Steven."
- Captain America: "Trust me, we need her."
- Warlock: "Self has another hypothesis. May self...?"
- Captain America: "Go on."
- Warlock: "Self thinks that the Serpent Crown is divided into a number of fragments. Self would like to say it's three, but self thinks that it's ridiculous. However, in the case that it is true, then we only have a matter of time before the Kree recover the last piece of the crown. Query: Does Subject: Namor know of the history behind the two cities they destroyed?"
- Namor: "Hmph. My knowledge is... general, at best, but I'll tell you what I know. Mu was a gleaming civilization like Atlantis. It was a city-state, you may say. The old ones — as in elder Atlantean loremasters — said that Mu could never be an equal to Atlantis, however, as it was a dark place of decadence. Mu may be a part of my Empire, but until it was destroyed just hours ago, it was nothing like Atlantis. It was corrupted. A place where many desperate Muvians, Atlanteans, and Lemurians alike worship unnameable gods."
- Warlock: "Even if it was not home to the Serpent-Men, it's still a dark place, yes? A suitable place for a fragment of the Serpent Crown to reappear."
- Hiroim: "Why can the Serpent Crown not reappear after each of its destruction whole? Not that any of us are complaining."
- Warlock: "Is it wise to put the Infinity Gauntlet and all its gems in the same place somewhere in nowhere where irresponsible beings may utilize it?"
- Victorious: "Was that supposed to be an analogy?"
- Warlock: "You can say that. If the crown was whole and it happened to emerge in the residence of an incorruptible being of pure heart, would it do Set any good?"
- Alejandra Jones: "There are no such things as people of pure heart, Warlock."
- Warlock: "If it appears here in the middle of our gathering, will any of us wear it?"
- Captain America: "That's too much of a dilemma for us to answer, I'm afraid. How about you tell us about the other city?"
- Namor: "Kalumesh used to be a good place inhabited by wise adepts and philosophers until they abandoned it, leaving the city to worship the one they call Dagoth, who was also a disciple of a Many-Angled One. The kind that Strange usually fights."
- Hiroim: "For someone who implies to not know many, you are sure to be much more knowledgeable than one could expect."
- Namor: "... I will allow that, Hiroim."
- Warlock: "Observe! Two dark cities devastated into nothingness and two possible fragments of the Serpent Crown already recovered by them! Self suggest we move to Atlantis to predict which other city the Kree might attack lest they attain the third and last piece of the crown!"
- Captain America: "I agree. Namor, we're going to reach you now. Stay put and..."
- Namor: "The Kree are not working alone."
- Captain America: "What?"
- Namor: "I told you, they are doing this with assistance."
- Balder: "Let me guess, the Serpent-Men?"
- Namor: "No... my son, Llyron."
- Alejandra Jones: "Hold on, what the &#*@? You have a son?!"
- Captain America: "Llyron... I thought you held no affection for him?"
- Namor: "He is still my son, nevertheless. I ask that you knock him unconscious and bring him to me. Let no harm befall upon him... and don't even think of giving him a Penance Stare, Ghost Rider."
- Alejandra Jones: "Alright then. You're the maker of rules, cojón."
- Captain America: "Noted. Who else with him, Namor?"
- Namor: "(Sigh) My grandfather, Thakorr. Do not ask me why he is with them. Of him, I allow you all to utilize lethal force on him. He is just as strong as me and he is a vampire. Just not the type you are used to watch on television."
- Balder: "Finally! A challenge!"
- Namor: "Do not think this will be easy, buffoon! They bring alongside themselves rogue Atlantean militants and Kree war machines. Their leader is... how can I best describe her — a female Ronan the Accuser."
- Captain America: "Someone we've never seen?"
- Namor: "Ever."
- Captain America: "Alright then. We'll see you in Atlantis, Namor. Good luck."
- Namor: "Godspeed, Captain..."
Before the two can say their farewells, the room suddenly blares another alarm. This time, however, it emits a familiar sound that signifies a breach.
- AVENGER AI: "WARNING! INTRUDER ALERT! INTRUDER ALERT! LIFE-FORM ANALYSIS: KREE. THREAT LEVEL: HIGH. INTRUDER IN FRONT OF..."
Before AVENGER can complete its warning, the entryway to the conference room is bashed off its hinges by a giant figure, facing against the heroes accompanied by two other shorter individuals. The Avengers immediately prepare for battle and set themselves up for an attack. From their silhouettes, however, the identity of one of these intruders are easily deciphered.
- ???: "Please. Time is running short for all of us, and we are here... to help."
- Captain America: "Ronan?!"
The three Kree's identity is unveiled to be none other than Ronan the Accuser himself, followed by Korath the Pursuer and Ultimus, the Kree Eternal. The trio enter the room warily of the Avengers, all of whom are more formidable than they are (except Ultimus, perhaps).
- Namor: "You! You are responsible for this, you irritating imperialist!"
- Ronan: "Let us drop the hypocrisy and cooperate, Namor. I am sure you all are wondering of why the Kree are merrily traveling around Earth's oceans destroying underwater settlements. I assure you, we are here to help you in handling this situation."
- Warlock: "You are not here to destroy us?"
- Korath: "There is hardly any point in killing you or your friends, Technarch. We are here to recover our people."
- Namor: "Your people attacked Atlantis and its citizens, leaving many of my citizens dead or dying!"
- Ronan: "The attacks on Atlantis were not carried out on behalf of the greater Kree Empire, 'Your Highness'. Acknowledge that we ourselves are utterly clueless in why they are seeking this artifact you call the 'Serpent Crown'."
- Captain America: "Vic, is he lying?"
- Victorious: "Not at all. His tongue spat out the truth."
- Captain America: "How did you get here, Ronan?"
- Ronan: "Before answering that question, I will inform you that my ship is currently docked by SWORD's space station as to show that I do not come here seeking war. Now, you may know that I came here via my ship's teleportation boom. Frankly, I do not wish to see myself tricked by that Brand wretch who wanted to teleport me into a volcano.
- Captain America: "That'd suit you better, Ronan. Now tell us what's going on."
Pressing a bunch of buttons on his gauntlet console, Korath projects a holographic image of a female Kree bearing an armor similar to those of Ronan's.
- Korath: "I assume you all know that this woman is the leader of the Kree strike force, yes?"
- Namor: "That fool! It is her!"
- Korath: "Indeed, it is her. I would like to introduce you all to Tanalth the Pursuer, head of the Accuser Corps and niece to Ronan the Accuser."
The heroes are briefly silent over the revelation of their supposed enemy's origin, temporarily contemplating in their minds of this fact.
- Namor: "I see you have a family, too, Ronan."
- Ronan: "Spare me your sympathy. Once this is over, I will make sure to discipline her well after freeing her of the mind control that gripped her sanity."
- Balder: "Mind control... I knew it."
- Ronan: "What do you know, warrior?"
- Balder: "She's not doing this under her own will. She's possessed by Set himself."
- Namor: "Nonsense! She spoke with her own voice! I heard her!"
- Korath: "That was what we thought, as well..."
(Scene switches to a flashback to the day before this...)
Indigarr wasn't a pleasant place. This arid desert planet 'boasted' a population of hairless backwater humanoids who lacked the grasp of technology but had the strongest of faiths in their gods. Prior to this day, they had never encountered beings from other worlds, discounting a certain God of Thunder. Knowing that, they were more than surprised to see the forces of the Kree land upon their world, seeking a Skrull criminal who they had tracked to this primitive world.
As leader of the Pursuer Corps, Tanalth was the paragon of relentlessness and endurance. Never stopping for a moment respite, never stopping in bringing the race's enemies into their justice. For the most part, death constituted the largest possibility of 'justice's' consequences, but the Kree's enemies were many. Even 'lowly' criminals could be a great threat to the Empire as a whole. That was why she was willing to travel into deep space, going to this despicable world in pursuit of a failed Super-Skrull project recovered from Earth during the shapeshifters' secret invasion.
Accompanied by Junior Accuser, Cadmi-M, and Starforce veteran, Shatterax, Tanalth approached a village full of confused and terrified Indigarrians who did their best to stay away from them out of the fear of being killed. They couldn't defend themselves. Perhaps, they could pray to their gods, but they were all too paralyzed by fear. All they could do was to invoke the names of their gods in hopes of salvation.
- Indigarrian Woman: "Our Lady of Comets, save us! Send forth your comets to smite these interlopers!"
- Indigarrian Child: "O, Rose Father! Let your thorns eviscerate these blueskins so that our peace may return!"
- Indigarrian Man: "Meat Mother! May you bless these blue-skinned tyrants into meat that we may feed upon!"
- Shatterax: "Excuse me, what?"
- Cadmi-M: "I couldn't tell if that was a curse or boon... not that I like being eaten, anyway..."
- Tanalth: "Silence!"
Tanalth silenced the Indigarrians with her Universal Weapon, slamming its handle to the ground to produce a massive shockwave accompanied by a loud shout to affirm the Kree's presence. After the crowd had gone silent, Tanalth proceeded to explain of the blue-skinned race's presence on this planet with a stern tone.
- Tanalth: "My name is Tanalth the Pursuer. These are my companions, Cadmi-M the Pursuer and Roco-Bai the Shatterax. We are of the Kree Empire, and we have come to this planet seeking a dangerous being. This being was born on Earth, but bears the semblance of our ancient shapeshifting enemies, the Skrulls. He is considered a war criminal in our dominion, and our pursuit has taken us to this planet you call... what do you call this world?"
- Indigarrian Girl: "Indigarr, o Lady Tanalth!"
- Tanalth: "Thank you. Our pursuit has taken us to Indigarr and we believe that he is hiding amongst the native population. One of you may be this shapeshifter, and we will not stop searching until he is found."
- Indigarrian Elder: "Lady Tanalth, we are all part of this tribe! We have lived together for over half a century and none of us are of unfamiliar disposition! If there was a shapeshifter among us, we would know!"
- Tanalth: "The Skrull could have murdered one of you and replaced you."
- Shatterax: "Tan, he's not here."
- Tanalth: "Excuse me?"
- Shatterax: "I did a deep scan on them while you were speaking. None of them are him."
- Indigarrian Elder: "Praise the Sky-Lords, we are free!"
- Cadmi-M: "We still have questions to ask, Indigarrians."
- Tanalth: "Hmph. Then we move on to the next settlement if there are any."
- Indigarrian Man: "Lady Tanalth... perhaps, we can help you if you show us how your 'Skrull' looks like?"
- Tanalth: "Ah, so he did not come here shapeshifted after all. Predictable. I assume you have seen him somewhere else, yes?"
- Indigarrian Woman: "We didn't see him... but I think we heard him."
Curiosity immediately piqued the minds of the Kree.
- Indigarrian Woman: "Three moons ago, we heard a painful howl. We rarely encounter wild animals or beasts, but we can tell that what we heard was nothing like the Meat Mother's blessings."
- Cadmi-M: "Animals, you mean?"
- Indigarrian Boy: "Meat Mother blesses us with plenty of animals that we can hunt for food."
- Tanalth: "Hm. Continue."
- Indigarrian Elder: "We listened to its horrendous scream just until moments ago, when we saw your vessel... it was horrible. It was wailing, roaring, and laughing... we prayed for the Sky-Lords for protection..."
The elder paused for a moment, as if he was recollecting something from his mind. He sat down, surrounded by his fellow villagers, who were just as concerned. Tanalth, Shatterax, and Cadmi-M shared looks at one another. They knew who their target was... they just didn't expect him to be this... outrageous.
- Tanalth: "What did your gods say, old man?"
- Indigarrian Elder: "I... I remember... I remember! You, you are the one he seeks!"
- Tanalth: "What?"
- Indigarrian Elder: "Listen, Lady Tanalth! You are in grave danger! You shouldn't have come to this world! Leave while you can, and the universe will be saved!"
The other Indigarrians began begging Tanalth and her band to leave, in accordance to the Elder's request. They cried for their departure while the Kree were unable to react. They couldn't just kill them; it'd be pointless. Cadmi-M turned to Tanalth for further instructions.
- Cadmi-M: "Tan... what do we do now?"
Tanalth was left without words. She saw the eyes of the innocent Indigarrians, each and every one of them sincerely pleading her to leave so that the universe may be saved. The Kree had been in universe-threatening events before and they always survived the catastrophes that befell upon them. Tanalth was no different from other Kree. They had seen gods before, but they disbelieved the notion of higher powers. In the end, Tanalth took the route of her race...
- Tanalth: "Where is he?"
- Indigarrian Elder: "No... please, no! No!"
- Tanalth: "I will not ask thrice: Where is he?"
- Indigarrian Elder: "You have no idea where you're getting into!"
Tanalth responded by knocking back the Elder with her Universal Weapon's handle. Her threat to execute him could be clearly seen by her hammer's head, charged with cosmic energies ready to be unleashed.
- Tanalth: "Last chance."
- Shatterax: "(Charges up his hands with energy) You heard the lady."
- Cadmi-M: "(Prepares her spear) We'll let you live if you tell us, y' know."
- Indigarrian Elder: "Never!"
The Elder spoke his last words that very moment right before Tanalth's beam reduced him to atoms. The villagers went silent for a moment before bursting to tears at the death of their oldest friend. They utterly ignored the Kree's presence to pray to the Sky-Lords of Indigarr for strength and protection. The blue-skinned visitors simply stood their grounds as they calmed themselves down.
- Cadmi-M: "Tan... Head Pursuer Tanalth... permission to speak freely?"
- Tanalth: "Permission granted."
- Cadmi-M: "I... I know what we are the Kree... but..."
- Tanalth: "We are not just ordinary Kree, Cadmi. We are Pursuers. We keep our heads in the game at all times, doing everything we can to bring the enemies of our race to justice regardless of methods. If you are disturbed by what I just did, then I'll make sure you are properly reconditioned back on Hala."
- Cadmi-M: "I apologize, Head Pursuer Tanalth. I just felt that... his death was unnecessary."
From the planet's orbit, Ronan the Accuser and Korath the Pursuer observed the turn of events on the ship and decided to communicate with the ground team.
- Korath: "Is everything alright, Tanalth?"
- Tanalth: "The villagers are withholding the position of our target. I have simply give them an incentive to reveal to us such information. Did you hear what they said, Senior Pursuer Korath?"
- Korath: "We heard them. It was unfortunate that the Elder did not tell of what their gods said."
- Shatterax: "They said that they heard him howling... laughing, even. I thought we were hunting a beast?"
- Ronan: "A beast who has grown more intelligent, Roco-Bai. Can we not triangulate the position of the creature?"
- Korath: "There are no signs of Skrullian life-forms, I'm afraid."
- Ronan: "Then why did we come here, Korath?"
- Korath: "It was at your own niece's suggestion, yes?"
- Tanalth: "(Sigh) You and I both heard S'Bak's confession, yes?"
- Ronan: "I heard her say a backwater planet without specifying which one, niece. You led us here to to a desert world of nothingness, instead. I see that your judgment seems to have been clouded."
- Cadmi-M: "If I may interject, the Elder implied that Tanalth's presence was expected. He said that someone sought her out. If our fugitive was truly the one seeking Tanalth, he would've slaughtered the villagers and left a single person to tell the news. Besides, how is he able to laugh, wail, and roar at the same time? We are talking about an unstable Skrull made by unstable humans who barely have the intelligence of a vermin. Someone else is here..."
- Tanalth: "Can we all just agree that he is here?"
- Shatterax: "Wait a moment."
Shatterax turned his attention to the villagers and started to get serious once again.
- Shatterax: "We can avoid further disintegrations if you tell us where the abomination is, Indigarrians."
- Indigarrian Grandmother: "So you can doom the universe by doing your duty?"
- Shatterax: "We'd rather have you all live through this day whole."
The Indigarrians went silent, looking at each other before one of them decided to speak up.
- Indigarrian Teenager: "We don't know where the beast is. All we can say is that the screams came from the Gore Mountains, where All-Blud the Inexorable first surfaced to wage war upon the thirteen monsters. He is long dead, now, and those mountains are accursed. Enter as you will, Kree. Do not weep for what may come next."
The Kree party stood down as the boy gave them the answer they needed. They wasted no time in departing the place after a bitter farewell.
- Tanalth: "There. Not so hard, wasn't it?"
The trek to the Gore Mountains wasn't that hard. There was literally nothing special or endangering living around the mountains, so the Kree could just land their ship in the outer markers of the mountain range. That youngling did not specify which of the mountains were truly the beast's hiding spot, but Shatterax's energy sensors could easily detect energy fluctuations consistent with their prey in a cave within a rather unremarkable peak. The trio stood outside the cave, readying their weapons.
- Tanalth: "Can you pinpoint his location, Roco?"
- Shatterax: "Strangely... yes. He's at the end of the cave, two point three kilometers away from our current position."
- Cadmi-M: "Head Pursuer Tanalth, are you sure about this?"
- Tanalth: "Opportunity has presented itself, Junior Pursuer Cadmi-M. Retreat is not an option."
- Cadmi-M: "Tan, just think about it! We didn't detect the Skrull's presence on this planet until those Indigarrians told us! There was literally nothing until..."
- Tanalth: "You believe forces beyond our comprehension is working at this moment?"
Cadmi-M paused for a second to think before responding.
- Cadmi-M: "Yes, Tanalth. I believe so. I am concerned that we all will be victims to some manner of cosmic scheme that we were not supposed to interject with."
- Tanalth: "We are the Kree. We have no gods and the deities we encountered, we fought to oblivion. Is that untrue, Shatterax?"
- Shatterax: "Thor, Thanos, the Eternals... they are all tangible physical threats we were at least able to harm through conventional means. However, I must admit, Tanalth. We may be a scientific race, but there are things we can never understand. I must inform you before we blindly rush into this cave: the outlaw's energy readings aren't just fluctuating; it's intermingling with other unknown types of energy I am unable to decipher."
- Cadmi-M: "In other words, magic."
Tanalth looked down and then, into the cave. It was a dark, damp cave, but nothing unlike any other caves in other planets. Admittedly, Tanalth had never dealt with magic or the likes. Perhaps, for the Kree, this would be her first appearance... but she had to consult with her higher-ups, which included her uncle and mentor. Before speaking with them, however, a voice unwanted attracted her attention.
- Mysterious Voice: "Come to me, my starlight..."
- Tanalth: "(Turns to the cave) Father?"
The very words she uttered immediately turned the heads of her comrades and ears of her superiors towards her. They were certainly shook at what just happened.
- Cadmi-M: "Tan?"
- Shatterax: "Did... did she just..."
- Ronan: "Tanalth? Tanalth, what is going on?"
- Mysterious Voice: "I am here, Tanalth! Oh, my precious daughter, how I've missed you!"
- Tanalth: "Father, I... I..."
Shatterax reacted immidiately by punching Tanalth in the face so hard she's knocked down to the ground, hoping to snap her out.
- Shatterax: "Tanalth, snap out of it! Your father is dead, and you are all that remains of his legacy! Senior Pursuer Korath, this is Starforce Operative Shatterax! Permission to pull back from the mission! Magical intervention is all but confirmed!"
In the Kree ship, the crews looked at one another in confusion. Ronan and Korath felt an air of dread surrounding their souls, a mist of doubt and fear meant to break their spirits. But the Kree were fearless, and the Senior Pursuer responded as soon as possible to Shatterax.
- Korath: "Permission granted, Shatterax! Pull everyone back from that cursed place! We'll bombard the mountains from above, instead!"
- Mysterious Voice: "Little star, your friends seek to separate both of us? How could this be? We... we are all Kree. We are family."
- Tanalth: "No... no, father, I won't leave you!"
- Ronan: "Beloved Tanalth, please listen to me! Whoever is speaking with you is a deceptive psychic entity! Do not let yourself be manipulated! I beg of you!"
- Mysterious Voice: "Why is my brother not here? Why is my brother not accompany you in this mission? Why do I feel pain within you in his presence?"
Tanalth's memories immediately took center stage as she remembered the harsh training sessions she had under Korath the Pursuer while being watched by Ronan. She remembered being brutally lectured by her only surviving family member after breaking down during a simulated combat, who also happened to be a national hero of the Kree Empire. She remembered herself crying on her knees as Cadmi-M walked away from her after an altercation. She remembered... her paralyzed muscles when she witnessed the death of her father by the hands of Aron, the Rogue Watcher.
It didn't take long for the Leader of the Pursuer Corps to be reduced into a sobbing mess of a person as she cried out in despair and fear. Cadmi-M put herself down on one knees to support her up, hugging her to provide comfort as her tears streamed down her breastplate.
- Cadmi-M: "Acknowledged, Senior Accuser Korath! We're heading..."
Sadness was soon replaced in quickness by rage as Tanalth smacked away her childhood best friend with the Universal Weapon. This atrocious display received a follow-up in the form of Shatterax blasting her face with large energy blasts from his palm.
- Shatterax: "Tanalth, please! We don't have to do this!"
- Tanalth: "For my father... for the Kree, I will do you all proud!"
Tanalth immediately flew towards the cave, leaving Shatterax behind blindsided and confused in what to do aside from helping Cadmi-M recover.
- Shatterax: "Dammit, she's lost it!"
- Ronan: "Shatterax, Cadmi-M, I want you to secure and return her to the ship all at once!"
- Cadmi-M: "Urgh... acknowledged, Head Accuser, Ronan. Queen Van wouldn't want to know this happened..."
- Ronan: "And she won't know anything but the fact that our quarry is brought to justice. Now go!"
Shatterax and Cadmi-M complied with Ronan's orders and went into the cave, following the energy trail Tanalth undoubtedly followed while lighting up the path with Shatterax's in-built flashlights. Little do they know that their Head Pursuer was already far from them...
Tanalth didn't know why she was traveling down this path. Her mind was led by an unknown guide, allowing her to navigate through the alien caves with speed and without hassle. She felt as if she had been in this cave for a long time, knowing every single intricate part of it, every twist and turn of the corner. Regardless, all she knew was that she heard his father's voice, and she's not just coming for him; he's coming for her target that had been hiding here.
After flying through the cave system with dried tears on her eyes, Tanalth instinctively landed and stood up in the middle of the darkness, only illuminated by her hammer's light. She took a number of breaths to calm herself down before refocusing herself where her target was. Before finding him, however, Tanalth's resurfacing logic took over and she spoke over her comms.
- Tanalth: "Cadmi, Shatterax... Korath, uncle... I'm in the target position now. I... I am sorry for what happened, but I will make sure I rectify my mistake this moment. I've activated the tracking beacon in my hammer. Wish me luck, now, my friends... and family."
The only words she heard through the comms were static. The cave was blocking signal transmissions, so her tracking beacon may as well not be very useful in leading her friends (technically underlings) to her position. Nevertheless, the ruthless Head Pursuer had returned, and she's here to bring her criminal to justice.
Walking through the cave, Tanalth increased the light her Universal Weapon emanated to make things easier for her to see. Upon lighting up, she discovered that the walls were inscribed with many cave paintings. She couldn't care any more about those paintings, so she only skimmed around to see the story that was told upon the walls while trying to find the target.
There were a great many figures depicted in the cave painting, but the images of snakes were the most numerous there. He saw a man with a spear fighting a giant serpent while being surrounded by eight wyrms, who were in turn surrounded by a circle of multi-colored spheres. At the end of the painting scene, the man with the spear drove his weapon into the serpent's belly and in that scene, the eight snakes that surrounded him disappeared and the seven spheres that surrounded them were suddenly drawn behind the man. Tanalth could understand nothing of this... and the mysterious voice that was her 'father' called her out for this.
- Mysterious Voice: "Do you like it, daughter? Are they beautiful?"
- Tanalth: "I know nothing, 'father'."
- Mysterious Voice: "(Cackling) All will be clear, my daughter. Now, do you not have an empire to satisfy?"
- Tanalth: "Indeed... whoever you are."
- Mysterious Voice: "Hm? Whoever I am? Tanalth... I am your father. Did we not..."
- Tanalth: "You are a disembodied psychic entity who aims to manipulate me. None of us can hurt each other, and I know what I did was wrong back outside. I love my father, but you're not him. That doesn't mean you can't help me. Now, tell me where he is."
- Mysterious Voice: "I thought your bleeding heart would hinder your true potential... good. For that, I will help you. As for your target... well, you may wanna look up."
In an instance, the target made his presence known by roaring inhumanly and descending upon Tanalth, flattening her body underneath his own. The large Skrull roared triumphantly as he revealed himself both to the readers and Tanalh herself. Apparently, the Kree had been hunting the fearsome HYDRA Prime 001: a mighty Super-Skrull created by a certain abominable terrorist organization from Earth, 'adopted' by the Skrulls and sent across Kree border planets to claim countless Kree lives and wreak havoc upon their properties.
Seeing him appear, Tanalth smiled and gave a retort.
- Tanalth: "About time you showed up, monster!"
The Head Pursuer blasted the test subject in the face with the Universal Weapon, sending him crashing up the cave's ceiling. This Super-Skrull was blessed with shapeshifting powers beyond its regular kin, however, and it managed to surprise her by turning into a sand hurricane that quickly engulfed and hurt her. Though surprised, Tanalth used her Universal Weapon to forcibly rearrange his molecular structure, turning HYDRA Prime back into his Skrull form. She quickly smashed her hammer several times into his face, ending the barrage by slamming him into the cave wall with such a force that the natural formation was shook. Before she could continue the attack, HYDRA Prime formed three claws on his knuckles a la Wolverine and stabbed her, prompting her to scream in pain.
This act only increased her resolve and Tanalth kicked herself away from the Skrull to blast off his hands. He wouldn't let that happen, however, and he dodged the blast while freezing her head with a pair of ice beams he conjured. Tanalth became immobilized and practically helpless as she literally got a brain freeze, and it seemed that her demise was coming quickly... until her hammer suddenly lit itself up and blasted the ice block encasing her.
Before he could crush her head, Tanalth spat at his face to distract him, rolling aside so she could deliver a charged cosmic blast at his chest in hopes of vaporizing him. He narrowly avoided the blast by stretching his body like Mr. Fantastic. This ability gave him the opportunity to wrap himself around Tanalth after disarming her of the weapon with an optic blast. She struggled to free herself, and when she did that, the Skrull 'beast' taunted her out of nowhere.
- HYDRA Prime 001: "You are unworthy."
- Tanalth: "Das't you!"
The opportunist she was, Tanalth headbutted the brute, loosening her restraint. She proceeded to command her Universal Weapon to unleash another powerful energy blast at him, now hitting its intended target and sending him sprawling. Tanalth recalled her hammer to her hands and wasted no time encasing his head with a force field in the hopes of suffocating him. The Skrull tried to turn himself into water, utilizing the powers of Hydro-Man, but Tanalth simply extended the force field to his entire body. The force field couldn't be breached by him, and eventually, Tanalth knocked him out by blasting legions of energy beams from the force field and into the Skrull until he was motionless.
After checking that he was already off-cold, Tanalth took a moment respite to restore her strength. She was about to leave the cave with her quarry, but the mysterious disembodied voice returned to 'haunt' her once again.
- Mysterious Voice: "Heh. You are worthy after all."
- Tanalth: "You possessed him, didn't you? To lure me in."
- Mysterious Voice: "Perceptive of you to think so, my child."
- Tanalth: "Don't call me that. Who are you, anyway? Meat Mother? Our Lady of Comets? Rose Father? All-Blud the Inexorable?"
- Mysterious Voice: "I'm afraid I'm not any of those, my dear. All that you need to know... is that I need your help now. I've helped you with HYDRA Prime 001, yes?"
- Tanalth: "How did you know of its name?"
- Mysterious Voice: "It is easy to discover the secrets of others with weak minds. Yours is no different, my dear, but are you willing to help me?"
- Tanalth: "No. I will return to my ship and order an orbital bombardment upon your residence. Good bye."
Tanalth attempted to exit the cave the same way she entered it, but found her way barred by an invisible force wall she could not destroy, dispel, or identify with the Universal Weapon. When she turned back, Tanalth saw that she wasn't in a cave anymore. Instead, she was standing in a bloody battlefield of many races, including those of her own, the corpses of many laying beneath the blood-red skies. In reflex, she quickly returned to her combat-ready stance and found battle seeking her already as she engaged in a brief skirmish against a giant snake the size of a spaceship. Despite the Pursuer's grit, she ultimately succumbed to the snake and it sank its teeth deep into her skull. Pain flowed through her entire body at that moment, but that wasn't the only thing she received. The snake gave her a vision of a mystic crown, split open into three parts in the sky before falling onto the oceans of the Earth, descending into the depths of darkness. While this was happening, the mysterious voice that had plagued her infested her mind with an order of sorts, saying so with a feminine voice different from the one she heard earlier.
- Mysterious Voice: "You will depart to Earth to recover the three pieces of the Serpent Crown. You will be given the power to dominate others through fear and put others into submission. You cannot refuse this order, for your body, mind, and soul shall be fine to feed upon until Eternity is no more. Your complicity will be repaid with a new family... and a father who truly loves you. You will be me, and I will be you. We are the breakers of all and the first daughter of the Rightful Father. Now rest, dear Tanalth... rest."
Tanalth's perception snapped back to reality where she realized that she's still in the cave and was kneeling the same way she did when the snake bit her.
- Tanalth (Narration): "N-no... what was that? I... I can't t-think properly... can't... move..."
After thinking so, Tanalth's pupils suddenly disappeared and she was left incapacitated, unable to move or do anything whatsoever. Visualizing from the Pursuer herself, she could see her vision of the world slowly descending into darkness. Ultimately, she blacked out... but her body regained its motor functions. Motor functions only; she's not the one in control, now.
Meanwhile, Shatterax and Cadmi-M struggled to navigate themselves through the cave, but managed to find Tanalth standing at the cave's end with HYDRA Prime 001 encased inside an energy prison.
- Cadmi-M: "Tanalth, thank the stars, you're still alive!"
- Shatterax: "You've captured the fugitive, as well! We thought you were..."
- Tanalth: "Lost?"
- Shatterax: "We nearly trapped ourselves in this blasted cave until..."
- Tanalth: "Until your eyes were opened."
- Shatterax: "I beg your pardon?"
Something's not right about Tanalth.
- Cadmi-M: "Um, are you alright, Tan?"
- Tanalth: "I've never felt greater, Cadmi. You should know how delighted I am after I was found."
- Shatterax: "Oh... (charges his palm blasters) Cadmi, she's not Tanalth."
- Cadmi-M: "Wait, what?"
- Tanalth: "I am Tanalth... and I am not. I am someone far greater. Someone you can never comprehend with your flimsy minds... but worry not, for I am willing to open your eyes."
- Cadmi-M: "Whoever the das't you are, you're going to let go of her, whether you'd like it or not!"
- Tanalth: "On the contrary, my dears, I will be one not letting you go."
In a moment's notice, Tanalth's eyes and mouth suddenly glowed in yellow and she leapt at the duo, who could be seen utterly surprised and terrified by this turn of events.
(Back in the Kree Ship...)
- Ronan: "They haven't reported back. Tch. I should've gone down there myself."
- Korath: "She is still your niece at the end of the day, old friend. She loves you. You know this."
- Ronan: "I should remind you that I am not her father, Korath. I am someone more accustomed to the horrors of war than the hearth of home. She grew in a household of warriors who still knew the meaning of hearth. I... I don't even remember how I was born into this universe."
- Korath: "You have done your best in loving her. Believe me."
- Kree Technician: "Sirs! They're back."
Upon hearing the notification, the two high-ranking Kree made their way to the technician who showed them the location of the three operatives. Tanalth, Shatterax, and Cadmi-M could be seen standing in a wide open space, far away from the mountains. The imprisoned HYDRA Prime 001 could be seen being telekinetically moved by Cadmi-M.
- Ronan: "Tanalth! You have returned with the target. We are proud of you. How did you find him?"
- Tanalth: "He was sleeping at the edge of that cursed cave, Uncle Ronan. It wasn't hard to capture him."
- Korath: "That is delightful to know. Prepare yourself for extraction, operatives. Hala would like to have words with him."
- Shatterax: "The Accuser? Heh, since when did she become an interrogator?"
- Korath: "How sardonic. Prepare yourself for the teleportation beam."
- Tanalth: "Acknowledged. Standing by."
The trio stepped in a line, standing without any display of emotions or empathy. Tanalth's Universal Weapon could be seen being bloodstained, as well as Cadmi's spear, which she proceeded to clean. From the background, the trio were revealed to had been standing in front of the Indigarrian village from earlier, the only difference being the fact that the villagers had been slaughtered in a gruesome display of terror. Some of them were even disintegrated: an act unquestionably done by the Kree themselves.
Upon teleporting to the Kree ship, the trio walked in unison to the command room, being saluted by Kree soldiers along the way. However, one of them noticed something strange, voicing his concern after they're not in the vicinity.
- Soldier #1: "Never seen them walk that synced."
- Soldier #2: "Does that matter? That's our race's discipline at its finest!"
- Soldier #1: "Yeah, yeah, whatever. It's just... not right. Blah. Must be my head just being messy. I'm feeling dizzy."
- Soldier #3: "(Hesitates) Me too..."
- Soldier #2: "By Hala, what is it that's wrong with... by the stars, my head..."
Just as the door behind the trio closed, all the Kree soldiers in the hallway leading to the teleportation chamber fainted. Eventually, the three Kree arrived at the command room and met with their superiors.
- Korath: "Exemplary work, Tanalth. The Supreme Intelligence will certainly be delighted."
- Ronan: "Good job, my niece. I knew you can never fail us."
- Tanalth: "Indeed, uncle. We have finally captured this prime example of a failure. When are we heading back to Hala?"
- Ronan: "Right... (groans) away, niece."
- Korath: "Ronan, are you alright?"
Moments later, the entirety of the ship's crew went haywire as their heads felt dizziness and nausea. Excepting Ronan and Korath, who possessed greater wills, every Kree on-board was knocked out. Tanalth, Shatterax, and Cadmi-M stood tall as they saw Ronan and Korath struggling to regain their focuses, stumbling in confusion.
- Ronan: "Niece...? What... what is this?"
Tanalth walked towards her disoriented uncle and knelt, looking straight into his eyes. When Ronan stared back, that was when he realized what's truly happening.
- Ronan: "Your eyes... no! Who are you?!"
- Tanalth: "Your niece was welcoming enough to accept my parentage. Shame. You were never a good caretaker — let alone uncle — for her."
In rage, Ronan swung his Universal Weapon with enough strength to send his niece flying across the room and into the corner. Shatterax and Cadmi-M attacked Ronan in response with energy blasts but the experienced Accuser forms a powerful shield with his hammer. Still kneeling, he strained under the pressure but gave no ground as he tried to stand up.
- Ronan: "(Struggling) Korath!"
Korath fought against his head pains and activated his jetboots as well as his twin beta-batons, crackling with energy. Before Shatterax could react, Korath crashed into him with his jet boots and shocked him with his beta-batons with such power that his suit short-circuited.
Cadmi noticed this and lost her focus over Ronan, letting the Accuser unleashing a counter-beam that hit her face, bruising her badly. Meanwhile, Korath stood up only to see Tanalth recovering with a grin on her face and eyes as yellow as an egg's yolk.
- Tanalth: "(About Cadmi-M) I thought she was trained by stronger Kree."
- Ronan: "Depart from her body, wretch!"
- Tanalth: "I'm afraid I'm already everywhere."
All of a sudden, the ship's crew awakened and opened fire upon Ronan and Korath, forcing them to retreat from the battle hastily. 'Tanalth' walked towards the wounded Cadmi-M and helped her return to her feet.
- Cadmi-M: "They are running away. What should we do?"
- Tanalth: "(To the entire Kree on-board, speaking through her communicator) All units, Ronan the Accuser and Korath the Pursuer have betrayed your Empire! Do not let them leave this ship alive!"
In the other parts of the ship, many of these blue-skinned aliens were wondering about what's happening just for a split second before they were seemingly possessed. The Kree's eyes turned yellow and began arming themselves with their weapons, also activating the Kree Sentries to pursue the duo.
Making their way to the hangar bay, Ronan and Korath were forced to contend with their former comrades, even killing some along the way with regret. They were literally running and gunning for their lives until they reached the hall leading to the hangar. They took a moment to breathe as they hide from their pursuers.
- Ronan: "We need to warn the Supreme Intelligence of this. Did that announcement reach the hangar bay?"
- Korath: "Yes, it did. There are speakers in there. I have no doubt that 'Tanalth' has enthralled the engineers, as well."
- Ronan: "No matter. We can make it to the ship without endangering the crew. I'll set my Universal Weapon to non-lethal. I'm sure you're beta-batons can do so too."
- Korath: "They won't like it when they recover, old friend."
- Ronan: "Neither will our operatives once they discover they were possessed. Ready for another bout, Korath?"
- Korath: "Always."
Ronan was about to sprint right towards the hangar when Korath stopped him to attract his attention.
- Ronan: "What is it?"
- Korath: "Ronan... what shall we inform the Supreme Intelligence of once this is over? If we tell him what happened, he may sentence everyone on this ship to death... including your niece."
- Ronan: "He will not. I swear upon my life she will be alive after this entire ordeal."
- Korath: "So be it."
The duo rushed to the hangar afterwards, only to discover the presence of Tanalth and the possessed Kree, waiting for them in discipline and anticipation.
- Tanalth: "Your unwillingness to kill your niece will be your downfall, Accuser. There is no trace of herself within me whatsoever. All that remains is I... the Breaker of..."
Ronan interrupted her by creating a force bubble around the heads of every possessed Kree in the hangar, his eyes beginning to drizzle with tears and his heart gripped by rage.
- Ronan: "Then I have no reason to hesitate in avenging my niece... even if it means that I must destroy you!"
The 'weaker' Kree dropped like flies as they quickly suffocated. Cadmi-M, Shatterax, and 'Tanalth' were the only ones left standing due to their stronger constitutions, but they themselves struggled to free themselves of the bubble encasing their heads. While this was happening, Ronan and Korath sprinted towards a medium ship. Inside, they wasted no time starting the ship's controls and opening the hangar's entrance to grant them their escape. However, before they could fly away, a metallic fist penetrated the pilot's cockpit and grabbed Ronan, throwing him back to the hangar when the entrance hadn't been opened yet. Korath yelled his name and used his beta-batons to electrify the apparent Kree Sentry until it was deactivated.
Korath jumped out of the ship to see Ronan getting blasted apart by Kree Sentries, Shatterax, Cadmi-M, and Tanalth without mercy. The Pursuer tried his best in helping him out of the situation, but he was knocked out by another Kree Sentry with a giant punch to the face.
- Ronan: "(Straining while erecting an energy shield around him) Korath!"
- Tanalth: "It is of no use, 'uncle'. Both of you will submit to my will and be my servants in reviving the Father of Serpents."
- Ronan: "What nonsense do you speak of... witch?"
- Tanalth: "Just as Tanalth longed for a caring father, so do I as I have awaited for over a million years to attain the opportunity of resurrecting my father. Your niece has become a vessel for I, who is meant to shatter both the minds and bodies of every living being in this universe. Her power is mighty, yes, but you will know what true power is once I have regained that which blesses me on Earth."
- Ronan: "(Sweating) Earth? That blasted mudball again? I knew there must be something to do with that forsaken planet! (Discreetly presses several buttons on his gauntlet console) Let the stars ignite."
- Tanalth: "Even after all these years, you do not understand the significance of Earth?"
- Ronan: "I don't care, scum! For all the powers Earth has, Hala is where my true loyalty lies. To the Kree entire, all 'til the end of time! Until the Devourer of Worlds comes... until Death claims me with her cold dark hands! Until..."
Ronan's force-field suddenly turned itself against its conjurer as the Accuser was crushed by the shield thanks to the molecular manipulation of Cadmi-M and Tanalth. Ronan struggled to breathe as Tanalth approached him and the energy blasts stopped.
- Tanalth: "Poor you. I admire your resolve, yes, so perhaps I'll let you know a piece of my plan out of respect. Three pieces of a great crown lie within the hidden cities of Earth, beneath the dark murky waters of that 'insignificant mudball'. The Serpent Crown shall be assembled and taken to the Blue Embassy so that the Father of Snakes may rise. Satisfied?"
- Ronan: "(Struggling) Do... not... interrupt me..."
- Tanalth: "Oh, you have something to say? Fine then. I'll give you four seconds before I pull away my 'respect' and kill you."
With his dying breath, Ronan gathered his strength to look Tanalth in the eye and spoke.
- Ronan: "I... surrender... not... until... (coughs while Tanalth was beginning to activate her weapon to kill him) the... stars.... (coughs again)"
- Cadmi-M: "This is a waste of time."
- Ronan: "(Screams) IGNITE!"
Ronan's weak shout was replied by the ship shaking due to the impact of multiple projectiles in the span of seconds. This gave Ronan the opportunity to regain control of his shield and turned it into an omnidirectional energy blast that staggered the hostiles around him. When they were disoriented, Ronan destroyed the Kree Sentries holding Korath captive and recovered him to consciousness with the Universal Weapon.
- Korath: "(Just recovering from his blackout) Ronan... what's happening?"
- Ronan: "Help has arrived, Korath."
- Tanalth: "(Gets up) What have you done, old man?"
- Ronan: "Tell me, what do you call a star that shines brighter than it usually does for a moment?"
- Tanalth: "Hng... what are you up to?!"
- Korath: "(Laughs) She has none of Tanalth's brains, I see."
Insulted, 'Tanalth' prepared to attack the duo with Cadmi and Shatterax by her side. Ronan and Korath looked at each other before preparing for battle, facing their former allies. Just as the trio were about to annihilate the duo, a bright flash of yellow light, accompanied by a large explosion, disoriented everyone and the hangar bay's doors were unhinged, exposing the ship's inhabitants to the vacuum of space and sucking unfortunate Kree armsmen into the void of space. The five super-powered Kree were able to stand their grounds by manipulating their personal gravities with their Universal Weapons and powered armors.
- Shatterax: "What the--"
- Ronan: "If you're wondering, the answer to my question... is a Nova."
Floating right outside of the hangar bay in space, brimming with the power of the Nova Force, Nova Centurion Ko-Rel made her presence known with her magnificent display of lights. Despite this, Ko-Rel, a Kree herself, was confused at what's happening.
- Ko-Rel: "Alright, Ronan, you called for help and the cavalry's.... arrived? (Observes the scene) Uh, what's happening?"
- Ronan: "We'll explain later! Get ready to get your hands full, Ko-Rel!"
- Ko-Rel: "What?"
- Tanalth: "Destroy her!"
- Ko-Rel: "What the fark?!"
Ko-Rel was unable to discern who's friend or foe until she was forced to bear both Ronan and Korath with her arms and the Kree forces led by Tanalth opened fire on her.
- Ronan: "Take us far away from here, Ko-Rel! We need to regroup on Hala!"
- Ko-Rel: "Oh das't, just... just hang on!"
The Centurion proceeded to fly off the ship with the two Kree in-tow, escaping their possessed former allies hastily.
Back to the Avengers Tower
The flashback transitions to Ronan speaking to the Avengers, adding to the story that he has just explained.
- Ronan: "We were lucky the Centurion was able to come to our aid. When we returned to Hala, we told the Supreme Intelligence what had happened..."
- Captain America: "Let me guess: he told you to apprehend your 'niece'?"
- Ronan: "We were sent to eliminate these 'dissidents', Captain. There is a reason Ultimus is standing with us today."
- Balder: "What? To intimidate your children to submission?"
- Ultimus: "To exterminate them."
- Victorious: "Are you sure about that?"
- Ultimus: "Absolutely not. The Supremor doesn't know that I have ignored his order to destroy our targets, so you are all lucky that we're on the same page of not annihilating any blue-skinned men, women, and children, both from Hala and Atlantis."
- Namor: "You can spare a few casualties, though, yes?"
- Captain America: "Let's just make sure the only things destroyed are those Kree Sentries, people. We'll apprehend Tanalth, Llyron, Thakorr, and whoever's on their side that's organic. Do we have a deal?"
- Namor: "Hmph. Fine, then. Ronan?"
- Ronan: "Agreed. Korath and I will be awaiting in orbit. Ultimus will accompany you in this quest, Avengers. His strength will not fail you, for he is the last Kree Eternal there is in the universe."
- Balder: "Aye. An opponent to my brother, Thor."
- Warlock: "Self suggests not to antagonize Subject: Ultimus, friend Balder. Self detects that Subject: Ultimus' lifeglow is extraordinarily powerful!"
- Balder: "(Scoffs) We'll see about that. We'll see whose life reaches the grip of death faster, shall we?"
Upon hearing his statement, Captain America is stunned for a moment as he remembers what Thor said about his 'madness'. Courtesy of her cosmic awareness, Victorious also realizes something of a death wish within Balder's soul, which deeply unsettles her.
- Alejandra Jones: "You know, you sound as if you want to die. Ragnarok's still a long time coming, right?"
- Balder: "Yes... yes, Ms. Jones. Yes."
- Ultimus: "If you wish to compete against me in a contest of eliminations, then good luck contending with me, Asgardian."
- Captain America: "Balder, remember what our mission is. Ragnarok or not, we still need you. I promised that you're going to fight the meanest monsters and menaces out there, and you're about to have it. Any objections?"
- Balder: "(Smirks) Not at all, Captain."
- Captain America: "Ultimus, restrain yourself and don't try anything funny. We're still on neutral grounds and we'd hate it if you suddenly went rogue. Understand?"
- Ultimus: "I obey you only because Ronan ordered me to, Captain America."
- Captain America: "Good enough. Namor, we're going to teleport to your position within a few minutes. Avengers, get ready to assemble. We'll go to Atlantis via teleportation. Any volunteers?"
- Hiroim: "Let me transport us all there, Captain. On the other hand, I am concerned if all of us are able to breathe underwater or not."
- Alejandra Jones: "I don't need oxygen when I'm Ghost Rider. Balder's a god and Ultimus is... well, he's close to being one, anyway."
- Victorious: "I've never operated underwater before but I remember Doom saying that I require no sustenance with the Power Cosmic."
- Warlock: "Likewise, self doesn't breathe, so..."
- Hiroim: "Good. How about you yourself, Captain?"
- Captain America: "I'll go get my scuba gear. Don't worry about me."
- Warlock: "Self can make you breathe underwater, if friend Captain America wants to."
- Victorious: "I can give you a portion of my Power Cosmic! You can be both stronger and breathe underwater."
- Captain America: "I'm afraid that if you do that, your combat effectiveness will waver, Victorious. But I appreciate your offer, nevertheless. Warlock, what do you have?"
Warlock extends his arm and conjures a metallic sphere with a color scheme similar to the Technarch's own body.
- Korath: "You are to infect him with the Transmode Virus?"
- Warlock: "Egh... more like wear it. Trust me, Captain, this will not hurt. Now, come here."
Rogers walks towards his teammate and the Technarch pushes the sphere painlessly into his chest, sending a small reverberation throughout his body.
- Captain America: "Whoa! That felt strange."
- Warlock: "Now you can breathe underwater and punch harder for two days. Oh, you're also immune to all manners of diseases while it lasts! Self has given you a... 'taste' of Technarch physiology!"
- Captain America: "My thanks, Warlock. Now that we're all prepared, it's time for us to go to Atlantis. Hiroim?"
- Hiroim: "Right away, Captain. Everyone, stand beside me. I will begin the incantation immediately."
The Avengers and Ultimus gather around the Oldstrong as he begins to create a large teleportation sphere to transport them to Atlantis. Before they teleport, the Avengers can hear Ronan wishing them good luck before he and Korath teleport back to their ship in orbit.
The King of Atlantis turns off his monitor and exits the laboratory to see the fabled city itself in ruins, nearly irreparable thanks to the Kree's attack. Namor swims through the damaged city of the deep, awaiting the Avengers' arrival by helping in lifting up rubble and debris alike, as well as reassuring wounded citizens that they are alright and that the Kree will pay for their transgression. While helping a rescue team save a wounded child from a ruined building, Namor is approached by his cousin and fellow human-Atlantean hybrid, Namora.
- Namora: "Namor, the Royal Hospital is still filled with the wounded, but most of them have recovered."
- Namor: "Thank Neptune they are safe. What about Professor Newell?"
- Namora: "He is stable, but he's still unconscious. The Kree truly did a number on him... and us."
- Namor: "Many of us are still alive, Namora. That sole fact is one worth our gratitude. Have the dead been buried?"
- Namora: "Not many dead Atlanteans died leaving corpses, I'm afraid. The rest, we have buried, however, yes."
- Namor: "(Sighs) I should be out there hunting down those Kree... but..."
- Namora: "You remain here as our caring king, at the very least. A far cry from your more... invasive days."
- Namor: "(Chuckles) You are correct. But that does not mean that our attackers will be left with a moment respite, cousin."
Their conversation is cut when both of them are able to hear a commotion brewing in the Royal Palace's courtyard, which has been converted into a field hospital for the moment.
- Namora: "What is going on?"
- Namor: "Allies, Namora. Allies."
In the courtyard, the Atlanteans are utterly shocked and enraged at the presence of the Avengers, not accepting the presence of surface dwellers and someone who's clearly a member of the aliens who attacked them previously. The outrage dies down when Namor and Namora arrive on scene to clear things up.
- Namor: "Cease hostilities! These surface dwellers are not our enemies!"
- Wounded Atlantean Soldier: "King Namor... you call for the air-breathers' assistance once again?"
- Namor: "Our forces could barely hold back the Kree and I am unable to defeat them all by myself. I, too, have to remain here to ensure our political stability! Even if I know not where Krang or Attuma is, I believe none of us would like to have a coup in our hands after the disaster that has just happened. Do you understand?"
- Wounded Atlantean Soldier: "Yes, I understand, my king! My apologies."
Namor and Namora turn to the Avengers to see the heroes and their one companion.
- Namor: "Perhaps it's best for us to move to the War Room instead, Steven."
- Captain America: "I concur. Lead the way, Namor."
The scene switches to the view of the Avengers and Namor discussing the Kree attack and their next possible target in the War Room within the Royal Palace.
- Namor: "Do you know anything about your people's next move, Ultimus?"
- Ultimus: "The sane ones in the orbit will return to Hala immediately once the rogue ones are detained. The insane ones here, I have no knowledge of, on the other hand."
- Victorious: "My cosmic sense can't pick up a hint of their presence whatsoever. It's as if something is obscuring it. Every time I try to think of them, there's this darkness that blots out my thoughts."
- Hiroim: "These Kree are clever. They seem to have expected the possibility of being tracked. Thus, they use some form of magic to hide their signatures."
- Captain America: "Can the Old Power see them, Hiroim? Can you penetrate their cloak or something?"
- Hiroim: "Actually, yes, but I can barely feel their presence. But I know this... they are in dark waters. They must be heading to another Atlantean city deep within the abyss, where none can hope to find them through normal means."
- Balder: "How many more cities do you have that are submerged in even deeper waters than Atlantis, Namor?"
- Namor: "The only one I can think of is Lemuria. The name should be familiar for you, yes?"
- Balder: "Lemuria... yes, there can be no darker place in Midgard's oceans than that cursed land. Their capital is of the same name, yes?"
- Warlock: "Query: Is 'Lemuria' a continent, a city, or a civilization?"
- Namor: "All three of them. The first kings of men built their kingdom on top of Lemuria the continent, adopting the name for both their fiefdom and city."
- Warlock: "Okay, self is confused now. Self cannot predict if they are going to 'Lemuria City' or the 'Lemuria Kingdom', which self believes to have many dark cities."
- Ghost Rider: "I'm guessing Lemuria's capital will be their next target. If they're going to store anything as dark as *#&$%^@(#*$&# Hell itself, they should be putting the Serpent Crown in the worst place where the Lemurians first turned to darkness."
- Balder: "That... is brilliant. Seems like your brains are just as amazing as your... (chuckles)"
- Captain America: "Balder... don't."
- Warlock: "Self is impressed by friend Jones' display of intelligence! How could you figure it out?"
- Ghost Rider: "Hey, that's just an educated guess! Besides, I've spent more time in the dark side than any of you folks have been, so I tend to understand these kinds of stuff, even if they're outside of my expertise."
- Namor: "Once Set himself resurfaces, then that demon will be within your field."
- Captain America: "Alright then, Lemuria City is going to be our next destination. Hiroim, can you teleport us there?"
- Balder: "Allow me to take us there, Captain. Even if Lemuria is deep in the deepest bowel of this world, I can still feel the presence of light there... which is frankly, odd."
- Hiroim: "How bright are... the lights you sense, Balder? That sounds strange."
- Balder: "A... lot. It's as if there's a festival of light in there..."
- Warlock: "Wait! The Kree could be there already, then! Friend Balder may be seeing lights from the Kree Sentries' energy blasts!"
- Balder: "(Slight pause, in terror) By Odin! Then I have been witnessing a massacre all this time?! Let us waste no time then, my compatriots! I can take you there by teleporting us through the wavelength of light."
- Namor: "Halt! Before you depart, let me lend you the aid of my cousin, Namora. Atlantis must have a part in exacting its vengeance against these invaders... and I am too wounded to fight."
- Namora: "(Sighs) At least I get to fight with people other than Atlas for once."
- Ultimus: "Another aide in our band? Intriguing."
- Namora: "Don't worry, Demon Druid. I have no intention of stealing your thunder."
- Captain America: "Welcome aboard, Namora. Now, let's go Avengers. We don't have much time before the Kree recover the last piece of the Serpent Crown! Balder?"
- Balder: "Gather around me. The light may be dim here, but it is still mine to manipulate, nevertheless."
The Avengers gather around Balder as he raises his sword, generating an intense amount of light that engulfs them. Seconds later, an explosion of light is unleashed and disorients not just Namor, but also everyone in the surrounding area of the Royal Palace, surprising the water-breathers and the King of Atlantis and leaving them dumbfounded.
The Avengers are briefly turned into light as Balder guides them through the teleportation. While traveling, the still-conscious Avengers are able to marvel over the beauty of the 'light dimension' around them and see each other, surprisingly recognizing one another even when they are all in the form of light.
Once the teleportation is over, the team finds themselves gathered around in the middle of a war-torn Lemuria. Much to their surprise, they are greeted with the surprising sight of a wounded Atlantean laying in front of them. This is no mere Atlantean, as well, for this water-breather is Meranno, better known as the U-Man (as in Unter-Wasser Mann, not a member of a certain transhuman anti-Mutant organization), an old enemy of both Namor and Captain America in their days as Invaders.
- Captain America: "(Dumbstruck) U-Man?!"
- U-Man / Meranno: "(Weakly) Save us, Captain... save us."
In an instance, Victorious shouts in urgency when she realizes that a Kree sentry is standing right behind them all, ready to blast the heroes. Shocked but ready, the former Herald of Doom blasts a Power Cosmic beam from her lance to annihilate the Sentry, sparing her allies from unneeded pain. Upon its destruction, the team turns back to see the robot's destruction alongside the scene of Lemuria being attacked by not just rogue Kree soldiers and sentries, but also vampiric atlanteans, faceless demons, and vampiric sea creatures.
- Balder: "Odin's beard, what manner of catastrophe is this?!"
- Ghost Rider: "HOLY *#&@ ARE THOSE *#&?^#(*!@=-.* VAMPIRE FISH?!"
- Warlock: "Look out!"
The Avengers' presence is quickly noticed by Lemuria's intruders and nautical terrors such as Kree scuba troopers and eyeless vampires, who proceed to blast and rush at the heroes. Ultimus wipes out an incoming wave by himself by blasting them with his eye beams.
- Ultimus: "I hate to ask this, but what do you wish us do, Captain?!"
- Captain America: "Balder, Ultimus, Ghost Rider, eliminate the attackers! Take down their heavy hitters and stick together! Namora, Victorious, Warlock, secure and rescue as much Lemurians as possible! We want them all alive, even if they're not our usual allies! Hiroim, we're going to clear a pathway to that bulbous building over there and interrogate U-Man! Lethal force is authorized, Avengers! We're not just dealing with the living now. Hiroim and I will rejoin you once we have what we need! We ain't got all day, Avengers! Assemble!"
After Captain America supports Meranno, Hiroim and he quickly run towards a tall building with a number of spheres on top of its spires, implying its status as a command building of sorts, infested with numerous unwanted invaders from the deepest dark. On the other hand, the other Avengers (including Ultimus and Namora) begin their tasks in haste. Needless to say, Rogers picked his team well as they are seen defeating many vampires, demons, and aliens with their magical/cosmic powers as if it's a slaughter.
Balder is no Thor, but he displays the might of Asgard's warrior skills just as well as his thunderous brother. Even deep within the abyss, he is still capable of creating and igniting spheres of light that blind even the eyeless Faceless Ones and short-circuiting the visual receptors of Kree Sentries. Silently, the God of Light displays his unparalleled swordsmanship as he cuts through Atlantean vampires with efficiency and savagery that would impress a certain dhampir. Before a band of these bloodsuckers is able to comprehend his arrival, Balder has already pushed and slashed through their unholy flesh with Svraden, the Sword of Light. There are many Kree Sentries in the battle, all equipped with blasters and countermeasures meant to eliminate Earth's mightiest heroes into nothingness. They could barely see him coming as he uses the light of their own energy beams to teleport and cut through their weak metal.
Even underwater, the Ghost Rider's hellfire bike and hair burn through the stench of evil as she incinerates adversary after adversary while swinging around her hellfire chain in wide arcs, splitting Kree Sentries and demons alike. When a wave of Faceless Ones pile up upon her and her bike, Alejandra screams out a hellish screech as she generates a massive explosion that disintegrates the demons.
- Ghost Rider: "You bloodsuckers aren't that smart, huh?"
For her words, Alejandra gets blasted by a trio of Kree Sentries from afar. She ends up laying down inside a crater in the middle of a residential district, but gets up without a hassle. Upon waking up, she can see some Lemurians and Deviants looking at her with fear.
- Ghost Rider: "Don't worry. We're not here to kill you."
When the Kree Sentries approach her to finish the Rider off, she summons her motorcycle to crash through the Sentries before riding on top of it to continue massacring the invaders.
Ultimus, the Kree Eternal, may not be an Avenger, but he's done his job rather well as he eviscerates many vampires and effectively 'save' his corrupted people by punching them softly so they're knocked out. Not that he hasn't killed a Kree yet. In the midst of battle, he sights three vampiric orcas making their way towards him in hopes of killing him.
- Ultimus: "Oh, you poor creatures."
Ultimus simply destroys them by blasting the three whales using powerful energy blasts from his palms, reducing them all into nothingness. Not content with simply killing these 'vampires' and their thralls, as well as his former compatriots, Ultimus calls out to his target with his adamantium lungs.
- Ultimus: "Tanalth! Show yourself, you traitor! Or are you too scared to come out and face your destiny?!"
An energy blast impacts Ultimus' chest and staggers him, answering his question. However, Ultimus is unfazed by this due to his superior Kree Eternal powers compared to the measly battlesuit-clad Shatterax. The traitor Kree swims with a complement of Atlantean vampires and other monstrous creatures, including a number of mosasaurs.
- Shatterax: "So you have finally come to see the truth, at last, Ultimus. Not alone, I see, but do not think that the Avengers will be much of an assistance for you!"
- Ultimus: "Indeed, for I know that I can take on every single one of you alone and turn this entire ocean red by myself! Yet... you are lucky that I am ordered to take you filthy traitors alive."
- Shatterax: "Hmm, perhaps you are right... but it is your blood that will turn the ocean red!"
- Ultimus: "We shall s-"
A figure nearly as large as Ultimus suddenly slams into the Kree Eternal, sending both of them crashing through a spire and into a ruined temple. The Kree Eternal recovers immediately and finds himself attacked by Thakorr, the vampiric grandfather of Namor the Sub-Mariner. Upon seeing the elder vampire hiss at him, Ultimus gets ready for battle, not failing to notice the vampire swarm converging from above.
- Ultimus: "Your strength is impressive, old man. Not many could surprise an Eternal like me."
- Thakorr: "You will know that there are many things far greater than your 'eternal' strength, foreigner! In a matter of seconds, I will drain your blood... and therefore, your powers!"
- Ultimus: "(Growls) You overestimate yourself!"
Ultimus stands his ground as Thakorr and the vampire swarm near-instantaneously overwhelm him, practically piling up on him. Seconds later, Thakorr and the swarm get blown away as Ultimus suddenly enlarges himself to gigantic proportions, swelling with cosmic power and rage. The sixty-feet Kree Eternal proceeds to stomp around the city, disintegrating demons and treacherous Kree alike with his mere feet and cosmic blasts while wading through Lemuria like a giant monster on steroids. The mere sight of a titanic Kree Eternal wreaking havoc throughout the underwater city elicits fear within the supernatural invaders and surprise to both the Avengers and the rogue Kree.
- Thakorr: "(Gets up while rubbing his head) By the storms, how is this possible?!"
- Shatterax: "(Continuously blasts Ultimus with other Kree Sentries) Press the attack, you curs! We will not be foiled by this... (gets blasted by a cosmic beam from Ultimus, disintegrating him)"
- Balder: "(Decapitating a vampire Giganto) Well, seems like no one worthy's gonna kill me today..."
- Ghost Rider: "(Delivers a Penance Stare at a horde of Faceless Ones) Whoa! You guys seeing this?!"
- Warlock: "(Is seen in the form of a large shelter, where numerous Deviants and Lemurians are seen guided towards his interior by Victorious) Self is currently in the form of a house! What is (creates a telescopic eye on the shelter's roof) going o-o *#&@..."
- Victorious: "Get inside, everyone! You're going to be alright! This will be over (notices Ultimus outside)... shortly..."
- Namora: "(Fends off a swarm of vampiric octopi just outside of the shelter) Uh, a little help here?"
- Victorious: "On it! (Fires a cosmic blast at the swarm, freeing Namora without hurting her) There you go."
- Namora: "(Sighs) Thank Neptune. Well, here's guessing that clean-up duty's not far behind, now. Ultimus just made it easy."
- Victorious: "We still haven't got sight of their leader and the enemy forces haven't been routed... yet."
- Warlock: "Noted. Self-friend Captain America, how are you and Hiroim faring?"
The Star-Spangled Avenger and the Shadow Priest are seen standing inside a building, the latter bearing his old adversary, U-Man, in the presence of warlords Kro, Krang, and Attuma: the three lords of Lemuria and infamous villains in their own right. Rogers hears of Warlock's statement, but converses with the three instead.
- Captain America: "You've no idea why they're here? None of you?"
- Krang: "You thought Atlantis would warn its sworn enemy of an impending attack? We didn't even know that Llyron was involved!"
- Hiroim: "I take it he's from here, yes?"
- Attuma: "He is Llyron, son of Namor, our sworn enemy, and Llyra, a native of this city; one of our own! We would have accepted him here if he had come civilly!"
- Kro: "One of your own, Atlantean! Do not forget that Lemuria is also city of the Deviants!"
- Attuma: "Deviant dog! You're not even in your own domain to protect your own people!"
- Kro: "Have you forgotten that we were in a council to decide the merging of both Eastern and Western Lemuria until those beasts attacked us?!"
- Hiroim: "Merging?"
- Kro: "Ahem. (Briefly glances at Attuma and Krang) Despite our differences, we agreed that both parts of Lemuria would be stronger together with the combined might of both Atlanteans and Deviants for a better future for us... the outcasts of this world."
- Attuma: "(Begrudgingly) Hence why we were here in the capitol building..."
- Krang: "... until everything went to hell!"
- Hiroim: "A unity of villains, I see. That is good."
The three warlords and Captain America glare in confusion at Hiroim.
- Hiroim: "I simply express appreciation at how you powermongers are still willing to merge your strength. This is a good lesson of teamwork, Captain Rogers. Perhaps, the team could learn more from these three."
- Captain America: "If you put it that way..."
- Krang: "That is true! Maybe you should learn from us, 'villains' (sarcastically), too, Captain! Especially of humility!"
- Hiroim: "Noted. You know what you three can learn from us, Avengers?"
- Kro: "Tell us, Sakaaran."
- Hiroim: "Awareness. The Old Power has resonated within me. It tells me of powerful geological upheavals twenty miles away from here... wait, no, that's impossible, it's dispersed!"
- Kro: "Twenty miles... Eastern Lemuria... no, my people!"
- Captain America: "We'll get to there as soon as we can, Kro! Just tell us where the Serpent Crown is, because that's what the Kree are coming for."
- Kro: "Hrgh. (Mutters) Ghaur, you old fool. I do not know where it is, but I believe it is in the Serpent Temple. Be forewarned, its presence is hidden by powerful dark magics!"
- Captain America: "We've a Ghost Rider and a Shadow Priest. We'll find it eventually. Hiroim, how's Meranno?"
Just as Rogers says that, the U-Man is seen fully recovered with his wounds knitted and his scars healed thanks to Hiroim's Old Power. Hiroim lets him go as the Lemurian stands up, just as ready as before.
- U-Man: "I am recovered, Captain. Thank you, Hiroim."
- Hiroim: "You are welcome. Now, I suggest you do good for the rest of your life. Lest I use the same power that healed you to destroy you."
Hiroim's sudden stern and genuinely threatening suggestion unsettles everyone except Kro (who smiles). U-Man takes a small look at Krang and Attuma, the two of them shrugging in response.
- U-Man: "We... will see."
With an expression of relief, U-Man swims away from the place and exits the place off-screen, the scene still showing the three warlords and Avengers.
- Captain America: "Now then, you were mumbling something about Ghaur being a fool. What's it got to do with all this?"
- Kro: "(Sigh) Do you recall our confrontation twelve years ago, Captain?"
- Captain America: "Ghaur wanted to create an indestructible Serpent Crown. She-Hulk threw it down a ravine and it blew up. Here's guessing that a fragment of it survived and it's what Tanalth's killing for."
- Kro: "Nay. Let's just say that Ghaur was driven insane after the whole ordeal since he had failed to summon his god. Bear with me, even I disapprove of this idolatry of his. You see, Ghaur didn't stop there to restore Set's dominion over this planet, so he turned to more esoteric means to do so."
- Hiroim: "He tried to summon this evil god through science?"
- Kro: "It was magic, but not the darkest one. He had to supplant the magics he had with Deviant sciences. Hence why I knew from the beginning that he was meant to fail."
- Captain America: "Why did you help him if you knew the whole thing was busted?"
- Kro: "I was fighting for my race, not a fallen god none of us wants to worship! Ghaur practically enslaved us all to do his bidding through his promises. I cannot betray my race, and so, I complied. Anyways, our Priest-Lord encountered a serpentine wizard at Tharsis Major, undoubtedly one of Set's servants. I may not know it, but I believe that he had promised him another Serpent Crown in return for a temple for the dark god in the heart of my Lemuria."
- Captain America: "Namor implied that Tanalth has recovered two of the three Serpent Crown fragments. Are you saying that there might be another whole Serpent Crown in that temple?"
- Kro: "I know nothing of that, Captain."
Attuma interjects with a weary face and a voice of cautiousness.
- Attuma: "The waters... can you feel it?"
- Krang: "Yes, Attuma... it's calm now."
- Captain America: "What? What's going on? (Opens the comms) Avengers, this is Captain America. Hiroim and I are in the Lemurian Command Center. What's your status?"
- Warlock: "Captain! Finally, you've responded! We thought you were gone! Self thought you and Subject: Hiroim's comms are down! Turns out, self's pleas for help were ignored!"
- Captain America: "Good God... Warlock, I'm sorry, I didn't..."
- Warlock: "It's fine, Captain! Just make sure you pay more attention next time! Have you received the information we require to pin down Subject: Tanalth's location?"
- Captain America: "She's most likely to be in Eastern Lemuria, where the Deviants live. Right now, we're in Western Lemuria, which is the Atlantean Lemurians' dwelling."
- Warlock: "That's... curious. Self was just housing hundreds of Deviants as a house. Eh, that's not important! Self suggests you exit the premises, self-friend! You may like what's happening outside."
Captain America disconnects from the comms and turns to the three warlords and Hiroim.
- Captain America: "What you got, Attuma?"
- Attuma: "The fighting has stopped..."
Indeed, outside of the command center, hundreds of charred, decapitated, and crushed corpses of Kree, Aqueos, and Faceless Ones are seen strewn across the city, as well as ruined Kree Sentries and bloodied vampiric creatures of the sea. Atlantean and Deviant Lemurians are seen exiting the shelter that was Warlock while the Technarch himself reforms to his regular self after they have left. Rather than being sad, the Lemurians are more enraged at the notion of being attacked and having to be saved, although they can't deny that they would have been toasted if the Avengers hadn't intervened.
Victorious is seen hovering above the districts to observe the extent of the damage that has been done by the Avengers' Kree ally, who's actually seen being... 'worshiped' by a number of Lemurians and Deviants for his role in fighting back the forces of darkness that assailed them. Even though the rest of the Avengers had their share of eliminations, the moment Ultimus held nothing back and became a titan was when the vampiric attackers fled in fear and the rogue Kree were utterly shredded down to the last alien. Despite this, they aren't finished yet.
- Victorious: "For once, I thought we were going to assemble after Cap and Hiroim returned with some information, so we could defeat these invaders together."
- Namora: "You still have plenty of time to build up your teamwork, Victorious. Trust me, it takes more than a single mission to build a 'family' of strangers, which I can see what Cap is aiming for here. Besides, none of us knew Ultimus was that strong, right?"
- Victorious: "I... guess, yeah."
- Namora: "Heard anything from Cap, Vic?"
- Victorious: "He spoke to Warlock. Said that we're supposed to go to Eastern Lemuria to find the Kree's leader and Namor's son."
- Namora: "Llyron... come to think of it, can you sense them now that you're in Lemuria?"
- Victorious: "I can sense Captain America being partially guilty over ignoring Warlock's call, Hiroim missing the rocky skin of his partner, Balder struggling over the decision to die or not, Warlock entertaining a bunch of kids with his antiques, Ultimus remembering his days of being worshiped as a god, and you wondering when this mission's gonna be over."
Namora nonchalantly stares into Victorious, expressing her boredom.
- Namora: "Well you got that right."
- Victorious: "(Slightly smiles) Good to know. Oh, and no, I can't sense their whereabouts. Every time I try to think of finding her with the Power Cosmic, I feel like something just... shuts me out passive-aggressively. The same goes for Llyron and now, for some reason, Thakorr. Even though I could clearly feel his dark aura when he tried to kill Ultimus."
- Namora: "Now, that's curious."
Moments later, Balder and Ghost Rider approach the duo, swimming towards. Ghost Rider 'rides' on her cycle, literally riding the waves with her hellfire cycle beside Balder.
- Balder: "Lady Jones and I have finished checking the corpses. All of them are dead, burned, or simply left with no will to live thanks to the Spirit of Vengeance's judgment. Thakorr, on the other hand..."
- Ghost Rider: "That sanguijuela teleported off to nowhere when I tried to Penance Stare his slimy ass. Seriously, he just disappeared out of nowhere and I could feel a breeze of dark magic that's just... alien."
- Victorious: "Is your... bike floating?"
- Ghost Rider: "This ciclo violates the laws of physics, bisono. I can have it do whatever I want."
- Victorious: "Can it turn into a vessel of sorts, so that we may go to wherever 'Eastern Lemuria' is?"
- Ghost Rider: "If we had a submarine or something, I could turn it into one hell of a ride."
- Namora: "Rather impractical considering some of you are teleporters, don't you think?"
- Balder: "I, alone, can take you anywhere throughout the Nine Realms, as long as there is light. Even Hel is not exempt from this."
- Ghost Rider: "You know, is it me or do you have some sort of fascination with Hel?"
- Balder: "It's the darkest realm within the universe, yet I have illuminated its every corner!"
- Namora: "Watch out for that god complex, Balder."
- Balder: "(Sternly) I am a god."
- Ghost Rider: "Hey, fishie's got a point. There could be darker places than Hel, and you haven't even gone outside of the Nueve Reinos."
- Balder: "If so, then I hope whoever's in the "darkest" realm is worthy enough to bring me death!"
- Victorious: "Balder, do you mind explaining why you really want to die? You know we know you can only die in Ragnarok, right?"
- Balder: "I've had enough of worthless opponents throughout the millennia that's not..."
Balder's words are cut the same moment he sees something beyond Victorious, on top of a tall spire. His eyes immediately widen in surprise. Standing in the presence of three beings with superhuman awareness, Ghost Rider, Namora, and Victorious notice this near-immediately and turn to where he's looking at. Victorious, with her cosmic sense, sees nothing but a building with a hole on its roof. The same goes for Ghost Rider and Namora, the latter turning only to figure out what's happening.
- Namora: "What... what are we looking at?"
- Victorious: "Nothing... my cosmic sense's not picking up anything... only that your heart's beating extremely fast, Balder. It's as if... you're afraid of something."
- Balder: "(Eyes glaring, sword unsheathed, aimed at Victorious, rage unleashed) I FEAR NOTHING YOU CHILD! I..."
- Captain America: "Hey! Cut it off!"
Balder's unrestrained fury is stopped when Captain America arrives on-scene with Hiroim and Warlock. Underwater, he may not be able to speak if it wasn't for Warlock's Technarch implant, but Cap nevertheless shows how he can be stern to even a god in his team.
- Captain America: "Balder, what on earth do you think you're doing?!"
- Warlock: "(Immediately gets between Balder and Victorious) Self suggests you cease hostilities, self-friends!"
- Namora: "That escalated quickly..."
Out of his pride, Balder attempts to strike Warlock down, but the Technarch quickly restrains him by infesting his entire body to take control of his motor controls. The God of Light tries to break free while cursing Nordic 'incantations' but found himself unable to pull away the Technarch's malleable body until he relents.
- Warlock: "You may stand down now, self-friend."
- Balder: "(Exhales) I... fear nothing."
- Ghost Rider: "You got a dirty little secret we don't wanna know, maybe?"
- Victorious: "I assume nothing else scares a god other than knowing his or her secret!"
- Namora: "Vic, chill! We..."
- Victorious: "How are we supposed to be a cohesive team if none of us are open to one another? How are we supposed to know each other's strengths and weaknesses and complement one another if we... we... (sigh) I'm sorry Balder. I may be a child compared to you, but I don't want you to be so... tormented! Call me sentimental, but please, let us help you!"
A brief moment of silence ensues.
- Captain America: "Can any of you explain what happened?"
- Ghost Rider: "Balder saw something... or someone on that building over there."
- Captain America: "Alright then. Balder, do you mind revealing us your case once we're done here?"
Balder looks at Captain America briefly with deep thought.
- Balder: "Yes, I do. However, I promise you not to repeat this scene once again. I apologize."
Warlock proceeds to free him, giving the Asgardian a smile and a pat on the back much to his chagrin.
- Warlock: "Is self-friend Balder happy now?"
- Balder: "(Sarcastically) Don't make me kill you."
- Captain America: "Alright then, now let's get on with the mission. Has anybody seen Ultimus, by the way?"
The Kree Eternal pops into the scene immediately in speeds mirroring those of teleportating, folding his arms in their presence.
- Ultimus: "Your arduous scuffle is over, yes?"
- Hiroim: "Yes."
- Ultimus: "Good. I don't like secrets, myself. They instill suspiciousness and discord until they flood your faces with revelations of disappointment and disarray."
- Namora: "Sounds like you've been there before."
- Ultimus: "Kree tend to think like so with Skrull infiltrators running around and the Supreme Intelligence being rather a pain in the das't in telling us the truth. Not that 'Queen' Wane-Van is any better."
- Warlock: "Query: Why does Subject: Ultimus disdain the Kree Empire's current ruler?"
- Ultimus: "I just dislike lords and lieges in general."
- Victorious: "Because they're annoying?"
- Ultimus: "They're ineffective, and that I don't like taking orders."
- Captain America: "I thought you asked for those when we first came here?"
- Ultimus: "That was for formality's sake. Just because I don't like taking orders doesn't mean I disdain them. Especially those that have me enter the thick of battle."
- Hiroim: "Yes, perhaps you were too thick in battle that you butchered the entirety of the enemy forces yourself. By the way, I thought we were tasked in capturing or knocking out the Kree?"
- Warlock: "Self thinks that we didn't really have time to ensure the adversaries' safety, considering some of them were... already dead."
- Ultimus: "The Technarch's words ring true! Though I must admit that I partially regret killing Shatterax. (Shakes his head) Rest in peace, my friend."
- Victorious: "You... disintegrated him. I felt his atoms disperse into the waves..."
- Ultimus: "Indeed, and I will try not to kill my other friend's niece, her trainee, and those royals that naked monarch asked us to 'save'. Now, shall we continue our quest?"
- Captain America: "Balder?"
- Balder: "I cannot take us to the Serpent Temple... but I can take us straight to Eastern Lemuria. Gather around now, warriors... (raises his sword, which proceeds to glow) for we travel at the speed of light!"
The team disappears in a flash of light, temporarily blinding the Lemurians who have been observing them from below and afar the entire time, including Krang, Kro, and Attuma.
- Krang: "I suppose now we gather our wounded and bury our dead?"
- Attuma: "We rebuild. (Turns to Kro) Do you wish to follow the Avengers to your domain, Deviant?"
- Kro: "As I have always intended to. However, I see now that our people require our aid."
- Attuma: "There are more Deviants in the East than here, Kro. They will hate you for abandoning them!"
- Kro: "On second thought, you are right. Good bye, Atlanteans. I shall tend to Eastern Lemuria. We will meet again soon..."
Kro teleports out of the scene with a simple tap of a button on his vambrace, teleporting back to his lair in Eastern Lemuria, leaving Krang and Kro with the citizens of Western Lemuria.
- Western Lemurian Deviant with Sixteen Tentacles: "Kro has abandoned us!"
- Attuma: "(Overhears and points at the crowd below him) Silence, Deviant! We will all rebuild our homes and return to our idyllic lives! You are all lucky none of us, your warlords, are planning to attack the surface world in the foreseeable future, let alone extort your strength! Now, move it!"
On the spire Balder lost his mind over, a dark lady smiles before disappearing in a burst of green light, unnoticed by anyone.
The Serpent Temple
In a burst of cosmic energy, Thakorr reappears in real space within a a chamber in a dark temple, its presence hidden by powerful magics that obscure its location from foreigners and other unwanted guests. Seeing that the chamber he's in has walls splattered with the remnants of Serpent-Men and several other sinister but powerful beings standing around the room, it's unquestionable that the temple has been breached... by none other than Tanalth, the Kree mastermind, and her lackeys. Most of them are actually recruited by Llyron, Namor's illegitimate son, for this quest of summoning Set. Upon his appearance, his 'comrades' showers him with a barrage of simultaneous remarks, questions, and mockeries.
- Bloodtide: "(Raspy voice) How fares our King of the Dead...?"
- Sea Leopard: "(Mockingly) It seems that he has been wounded... no... butchered!"
- Jeremy Swimming-Bear / Sea Urchin: "He's still in one piece, though! (Murmurs) At least I can do better than him!"
- King Crab: "The Avengers! Do they know of the slaughter that is to come for them?! Do they know... that King Crab will break them apart?!"
- Orka: "Ha! Your pride will be your downfall, King Crab! You have never won a single battle in your life! Orka will be the one to destroy the Avengers!"
- Torg, the Abominable Snow-King: "(Smashes the floor, shaking the room) Silence, you pitiful mongrels! The Fallen King wishes to speak!"
- King Crab: "What?! I have never fallen..."
- Torg: "(Turns to King Crab, chokes him into a wall) Do not test my patience, brainless crustacean! Or I will rip you apart piece by piece and eat you!"
King Crab complies with a gesture. Among Llyron's Tidebreakers, Torg's strength is second only to the Son of Namor himself. It's rather easy to see how his threats are credible, for he has the strength to back them up. One should know that despite his clear barbarism, Torg respects his fellow monarchs who are not his enemies and are of the deep, and this includes Thakorr.
- Thakorr: "(Brief silence) To answer your embarrassing inquiries... no, none of us stands a chance against these 'Avengers'. They are not who we think they were, and one of them wiped out my entire army and one nearly conflagrated my soul. I am... surprised, but do not think I am wounded whatsoever! And finally... Urchin, you are good for nothing but blood sacrifice!"
Thakorr leaps at Sea Urchin to tear him out of his suit, enraged and bloodlusted. Despite his speed, Torg snatches him mid-charge and slams him to the ground, growling at the old man when he also bares his fangs against the Abominable Snow-King. Their rage soon subside in a display of professionalism.
- Thakorr: "(Gets up) Grrr. I will drain the blood out of every single one of those Avengers if I have to!"
- Torg: "You, with the strength of your grandchild, could not even hope to stand against one of their own!"
- Sea Leopard: "I hear tales of the King of Atlantis holding his own against the Avengers. This must not be the same Avengers we all know and hate!"
- Orka: "It doesn't matter! Even if we're sent to one of their surface jails, we still win in the end by summoning Set to this world! By then, we will be freed and granted power beyond reckoning! Kingdoms to rule over!"
- Bloodtide: "Do not be so stupid, Orka! We will be reduced to nothing but slaves once the serpent god arises."
- Orka: "Is that so?"
- Bloodtide: "You trust the words of an outsider who has never even known of Set before...?"
- King Crab: "Must we remind you that you are in this one too, witch?"
- Bloodtide: "Once this is over... no matter in our victory or loss... I will have nothing to do with any of your antiques!"
- Thakorr: "Tanalth promised you that Set would cure your condition, Bloodtide, and you agreed to assist her in this endeavor."
- Bloodtide: "I would rather remain cursed once than twice, you corpse! We all share hatred for the surface, but I have no interest in turning this world into a paradise of serpents! Do any of you truly enjoy having your bodies remolded into Serpent-Men? Into these (Atlantean expletive) abominations?"
- Sea Urchin: "Uh, you asking me? Nope. No, I don't. But hey, at least we're paid!"
- Sea Leopard: "You think your payment will be useful once you return to the surface, human?"
- Sea Urchin: "Black market's a thing, Leo. Gotta love 'em."
- Torg: "It matters not! We are here already, and we are to confront the Avengers to let that Kree accomplish her mission!"
- Bloodtide: "Her mission. Tell me, Snow-King, what benefit do you gain from assisting in Set's return? You recognize that Set loathes mammalians like every one of us! Imagine what he'd do to us! He'd kill us all for knowing the insult of being restored by simians!"
Torg takes a moment to think.
- Torg: "(Snarls) Llyron recruited us... and the Kree promised us favors."
- Bloodtide: "You assume she will repay us?"
- Cadmi-M: "Handsomely, I should say."
The junior Kree Pursuer suddenly appears, standing in front of a stone gate leading to another room, sealed and unassailable. With a smile on her face, she confronts the weary Tidebreakers, who move away from her and look at her with caution.
- Cadmi-M: "I see you are having doubts. Good. It helps with the coming ritual. Your payments will be tripled for your fearfulness."
- Torg: "(Stomps up to her) Payment? Do you realize that there is nothing you can 'pay' us with once Set returns?"
Torg stares down to Cadmi-M with rage while the rest of the Tidebreakers are looking at him, some glancing at each other with uneasiness.
- Cadmi-M: "You will be allowed to walk unharmed on this planet as vassals of the serpent god. That alone is a reward worthy of your lives alone. You will live in a world without heroes, living your peaceful lives ruling over countless adoring subjects bent to your souls while not having to worry about mortality. In fact, (glances Bloodtide) none of you have to turn into Serpent-Men. Is that not reassuring?"
- Sea Urchin: "Yeah... if we don't get our asses kicked by the Avengers, who I assume is already on our tail right now."
- Cadmi-M: "Ah, yes, the Avengers. I can feel that they are currently trying to break through this temple's enchantment with their flames and earthquakes. They will be here within two minutes or so. Knowing that, it is in our best interest to bring you in to the Shrine of Blood immediately. (Gate behind her opens) I also know that you are eager to meet your recruiter and leader, Llyron, who is suffering an existential crisis as of the moment."
Upon listening to the last point, the Tidebreakers are taken aback and shocked. Their surprise is amplified the moment they are able to hear a shout from beyond the gates, clearly of Llyron's.
- Llyron: "(off-screen, shouting with rage) WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?! (crashing noise, temple shudders)"
- Sea Urchin: "Oh *#&@..."
- Cadmi-M: "(Calmly) Let us proceed, Tidebreakers. Perhaps, 'King' Thakorr wishes to lead from the front?"
Thakorr roars at her in rage for a few moments, expressing his displeasure before telling her to guide them angrily.
- Thakorr: "Waste none of our time, Kree."
- Cadmi-M: "Gladly."
Following Thakorr's gesture and Cadmi's steps, the team makes their way towards the Shrine of Blood: the main chamber of the Serpent Temple where the Serpent Crown is supposed to be. Along the way, they travel through hallways with walls inscribed with ancient curses defiled by the blood of diseased cultists, Atlantean, Deviant, and Serpent-Man. Carvings of Set, the elder god, can be seen decorating the walls.
- Sea Urchin: "(Walks through a carcass-filled hallway, breaking every bone beneath him with his armor and creating annoying crunching noises) Does Set really need these many sacrifices?"
- Sea Leopard: "He really likes blood, from what I can gather."
- King Crab: "And slaughter."
- Bloodtide: "And serpents."
- Orka: "Heh. Dragonrider would have liked being here."
- Sea Urchin: "Yeah, if she could fit her big-ass eel down this rabbit hole."
- Thakorr: "Hmph. All these corpses... they were used to summon Set, weren't they?"
The group stops at Thakorr's suggestion, instilling their minds with thoughts implying that they're supposed to die to accomplish this mission. Torg simply grunts while folding his arms and Cadmi partially turns aside her head to the group with a smile.
- Cadmi-M: "Lucky for you, we, the Kree, have figured out a... safer way to do so."
- Sea Urchin: "Yeah, but we're still gonna get 90% of our blood drained, in addition to an eternity of incarceration thanks to the Avengers, who are inevitably going to find us. If they don't kill us, anyway."
- Cadmi-M: "(Chuckles) Believe us. All we need is the Serpent Crown completed."
Cadmi continues to lead them, but the group doesn't follow until some seconds later.
- King Crab: "We need to make our move the moment everything goes sideways."
- Sea Leopard: "If we can get out of this maze of a temple, sure, I'm on board."
- Torg: "Hmph. Just prepare yourself for inevitable battle to come."
Moments later, the group finally enters the Shrine of Blood, greeted by the surprising view of Llyron kneeling in grief over the body of a serpentine woman whom Thakorr immediately identifies as Llyra, the mother of Llyron himself. On the other hand, Tanalth is seen with her Universal Weapon standing behind Nagala, who in turn is seen casting an ancient spell of sorts into a giant locked gate. However, the Lemurian sorceress and descendant of Set himself seems to be in a trance while doing the spell. Her eyes glow blue, resonating with the color of the energy Tanalth is emanating from her weapon. In other words, she's not doing it under her own will.
- Sea Urchin: "What the &#^@?!"
- Thakorr: "Llyron!"
Thakorr rushes past the junior Pursuer and places himself before Llyron to support him. The moment Thakorr's arms are felt, Llyron relaxes and falls, leaning on his great-grandfather's arms, crying seas of sadness. The rest of the Tidebreakers follow Llyron and stand around them.
- Torg: "You... (to Tanalth) what have you done to him?!"
- Cadmi-M: "(Walks towards the group) Believe us, King Torg. He is not endangered whatsoever."
Before she can even take another step, Torg, overflowing with rage, backhands the Pursuer with such a force that she is sent hurtling across the room like a blur. She crashes into a wall, but recovers as if nothing has happened, only smirking as a response.
- Cadmi-M: "For your unfamiliarity, I will allow that."
- Thakorr: "(Craddling Llyron) Llyron, stop sobbing, you whelp! What has happened? What has happened to your mother?!"
- Llyron: "(Crying) Mother refused to open the Crown's Crypt... (coughs) I tried to encourage her, but she disbelieved the Kree. She didn't listen to me... and she attacked the Pursuer. She shot him... and now she's... I... I don't even know what's fallen upon her!"
- Bloodtide: "Young Prince... I mean no offense, but I have never thought you as the type to be this... hysterical."
Llyron begins to stand up with his remaining strength, supported by his surprisingly loyal 'mercenaries'. For a group of mercenaries, the looks on their face sure express concern over the supposed future King of Atlantis. Finally, Llyron gets up and recovers from his misery as he regains his footing. He takes another look at Llyra, his beloved mother, before turning his attention towards both Tanalth and Cadmi-M, the latter tilting her head in curiosity.
- Llyron: "Tanalth... you flooded me with my greatest fears, practically killed my mother, and lied to us!"
- Torg: "(Growls) As expected."
- Cadmi-M: "(Turns to Tanalth) Was it necessary for you to tell him so, Head Pursuer?"
- Tanalth: "(Walks away from Nagala, who's still casting her spell, while preparing for battle) It seems unquestionable that sooner or later, the blood of powers have to be spilled to unlock this chamber."
- Sea Urchin: "Oh, yeah, you hear that, boys? *#&@ just hit the fan."
- Bloodtide: "You will pay for the needless murder of Llyra, foolish Kree!"
- Tanalth: "Needless? Oh, I needed her spellwork to open the Crown's Crypt, until she began... accusing me of deceiving you band of water-breathers and attacked me. At least, Nagala here is far more... 'willing' to unlock the way to the last piece of the Serpent Crown."
- Llyron: "Indeed. All the while you have no intentions whatsoever to be in-league with Set!"
- King Crab: "Wait, then why does she want the Serpent Crown? That thing's tied to Set and Set alone!"
- Tanalth: "(Smiles) Oh, you fools. This is easier than I thought. You have no idea what you're dealing with. Can you even tell what you just saw, Prince Llyron?"
- Llyron: "I do not know who your serpent is, but all I know, is that we will destroy you for your treachery! Sea Urchin, see that my mother is brought to safety! You are unfit for this battle."
- Sea Urchin: "Oh, yeah, finally, a job suitable for a dude with this sort of power level. How about the Avengers, boss?"
- Cadmi-M: "Ah, the Avengers. They should be here any moment n-"
Cadmi is silenced when a vibranium shield bounces off her head before returning to its rightful owner, announcing the arrival of the Sentinel of Liberty's Avengers, baring their weapons and preparing for battle near-instantaneously.
- Captain America: "You should try speaking less the next time around, Pursuer. Especially when there are people who can listen to your whispers a world away in this temple."
- Llyron: "Captain America... I assume you know what's happening here, now that you've said that?"
- Captain America: "We're still apprehending you and your cronies for collaborating with this criminal, Llyron."
- Tanalth: "'Criminal'? (Laughs) I am amused that you would use such an inaccurate term, human."
- Ultimus: "The Supreme Intelligence wants you dead, and your uncle wants you back alive and in one piece. You must be able to guess which one is the safer option than the other."
- Tanalth: "Ah, the Kree Eternal who wiped out most of my army. You should be a good warm-up for me."
- Ultimus: "Hmph. So you are not Tanalth. Frankly, I disbelieved the notion that you were possessed. (Mutters) Never met someone that's been possessed before."
- Hiroim: "Relinquish the body of the Pursuer, demon, or else you will face the might of the Avengers... and the... defenders of the deep!"
- Thakorr: "(Snarls) We will destroy them ourselves, Avengers! Do not think we require your assistance whatsoever!"
- Sea Urchin: "Defenders of the deep, huh? That sounds cool."
- Llyron: "We will discuss the matter of our apprehension once we are finished with these witches, Captain. (To his comrades) Tidebreakers, on me! We will take on the smug fool standing over there (points at Cadmi-M)! Leave none of her atoms intact and show no mercy! Attack!"
Before the Tidebreakers attack, they are stopped by a single question from Sea Urchin who simply ruins the mood.
- Sea Urchin: "Wait!"
- Torg: "AAAAAAAAAAAARGH WHAT NOW?!"
- Sea Urchin: "Uh, well, do I fight or I get Mrs. Llyra to safety?"
- Llyron: "Get her out of this temple! You know the way out!"
- Sea Urchin: "Got it! (Bears Llyra's serpentine body and runs out of the scene, sprinting past Warlock) Good luck folks!"
- Thakorr: "Annoying bastard!"
- Llyron: "At least he is aware, Thakorr! Now, destroy her!"
The Tidebreakers immediately charge at Cadmi-M with unrestrained fury, the junior Pursuer's attempted energy blast getting cancelled when Bloodtide crushes her lungs with her hydrokinesis, disabling her and prompting her eyes to widen as she screams in pain. All of a sudden, fear flows through her entire body, the feeling of pain following suite when she is helplessly annihilated by the muscles of Sea Leopard, Llyron, Thakorr, Torg, Orka, and King Crab. Tanalth does nothing to help her whatsoever and the Avengers are simply too stunned by the vicious display. When King Crab brings his pincer down her throat, Victorious gasps in surprise as she feels something.
- Victorious: "No... no!"
- Captain America: "Victorious, what is it?"
- Victorious: "Captain, she's... she's dead! And we did nothing to save her!"
- Ultimus: "By Hala, what am I going to report to Ronan?"
- Alejandra Jones: "*$&#, just say she's dead."
- Ultimus: "Good idea, perhaps I will be discharged from the Starforce for my inaction and lack of initiative."
- Namora: "Why didn't you... or any of us intervene?"
- Balder: "Let the cruel punish the wicked, Avengers. Now that one of our secondary goals is finished, we can focus on our primary threat."
Moments later, the Tidebreakers are finished with their slaughter, leaving nearly nothing whole of Cadmi-M's entire body. Her face, detached from her body, can be seen expressing terror beyond reckoning. Beforehand, her pupils were nowhere to be seen. Now that she's dead, her pupils are visible once again, signifying that Tanalth's control over her has been relinquished.
- Llyron: "(Stands up and catches his breathe before looking at Tanalth, covered in blood) Your servant is weaker than she makes herself to be, Tanalth. Now, surrender if you do not wish to suffer the same fate as her!"
- Tanalth: "The terror she felt before your crustacean friend beheaded her has given me quite the... satisfaction. For that, I thank you. Especially you, King Crab."
- King Crab: "You're messed up as *#&@, you crazy *@&#."
- Tanalth: "Now, now. I estimate the Crown's Crypt to be opened within three minutes. Knowing that all of you think I am extremely outmatched and wish to bring me to either 'justice' or 'death'... (creates a force-field around Nagala and brings up her Universal Weapon) would you like to test your mettle against I, the Breaker of All?"
The Avengers get into their combat-ready stances, awaiting for their leader's order. Llyron signals the Tidebreakers to form up on him, the underwater criminals also preparing to assault Tanalth.
- Captain America: "Warlock, disable her Universal Weapon. Namora, Ultimus, Balder, Victorious, keep her occupied; we don't know how strong she is. Hiroim, try to immobilize her. Alejandra, can you do the Penance Stare on her without... killing her?"
- Alejandra Jones: "She'll survive, I promise you that. What about the hombres we're supposed to crack?"
- Captain America: "(Turns to Llyron) You keep you and your crew tame, and your father may just forgive you."
- Llyron: "(Sniggers) We shall see. Tidebreakers, destroy her!"
Bloodtide opens up the assault once again by pulling off the same trick she did with Cadmi-M, trying to crush the lungs within her body via hydrokinesis. However, Tanalth realizes this and simply glares at her when all her adversaries are charging at her. Within a split second, Tanalth rearranges her own molecules to recover her lungs and uses her Universal Weapon to manipulate Bloodtide's own molecules and split her in half.
- Sea Leopard: "Bloodtide!"
- Victorious :"Jó Isten!"
- Captain America: "(Struggles to keep his composure while charging) Focus, people!"
Thakorr gets the first strike as he punches the Pursuer straight in the gut to no avail, getting knocked across the room with the Universal Weapon. Next goes both Orka and King Crab who are smart enough to combine their strength to smash her together, but the Pursuer easily holds down both of their smashes with her arms. This act inadvertently opens her up to Victorious, who flies up to her and attempts to stab her. Tanalth teleports up and avoids the wave of heroes and villains, unleashing a powerful energy beam that engulfs the entire group. Victorious quickly erects a cosmic shield around her teammates (including the temporary ones) just as the blast nearly hits them. She strains under the effort, sweating, but successful in her attempt, also buying everyone a moment respite.
- Victorious: "(Eyes widen in shock as she is straining) What kind of power is this?!"
- Warlock: "Self detects that it's magic Target: Tanalth is unleashing! Well, not full-on magic but still!"
- Llyron: "We shall defeat her nevertheless! Sea Leopard, can you read her mind?"
- Sea Leopard: "Can't hear her thoughts, but I think I can, practically!"
- King Crab: "Well, what the *@&# are we gonna do now?! That chick's just taken out Bloodtide!"
- Captain America: "Alejandra, ram your motorcycle at Tanalth. Once she's interrupted, I need Balder to blind her so that she's disabled. Then, I need Llyron and Namora to deck her down. Once on the ground..."
Victorious screams in pain when her shield begins to crack and the strain becomes greater. Luckily, Hiroim is there to lend him his power so that the shield can hold, grabbing her shoulder and sharing her strain. The shield holds once again, but the cracks aren't getting any better.
- Hiroim: "Captain, say what you want to say, with haste!"
- Captain America: "Hiroim, once she's on the ground, I need you to try and restrain her with the Old Power, get her to stick to the ground. Warlock, get ready to disable her hammer once she's down. Ultimus, Victorious, try to free that witch (points to Nagala) from whatever's on to her! Orka, Thakorr, I want you and... (turns to Torg and King Crab) you two to smash Tanalth continuously; don't hold back! We need to buy Warlock time to cripple her weapon and Victorious and Ultimus to free the Serpent-Woman. You all have your orders! Go!"
- Ghost Rider: "You got it, Cap!"
From outside of the temple, Alejandra's Hell-Cycle wastes no time driving through the labyrinthine temple, passing a surprised Sea Urchin and the unconscious Llyra before flying to Tanalth to bring her down. Unfortunately, Tanalth detects it coming and smacks it away. Fortunately, her beam stops and Cap's plan rolls.
The second Victorious' shield is down, Balder unleashes a gleaming light that blinds her before Llyron and Namora fly up to her, the latter punching her straight to the ceiling before the former smashes her into the temple grounds. The Kree Pursuer immediately gets up to deliver a counter-attack, but Thakorr delivers three mighty punches with his vampiric might in the span of one and a half second before kicking her away, so that Orka and King Crab can also punch her. In a moment of brilliance, the two actually work together to blindside Tanalth by having the former stomping on her feet and the latter disarming her Universal Weapon with his pincer before throwing it to Warlock.
- Warlock: "(Grabs the Universal Weapon mid-air) Thanks, Subject: King Crab!"
- King Crab: "Just do yer thing, robot!"
Tanalth throws a raging uppercut at Orka before headbutting King Crab so hard his carapace fractures. Although he survives the attack, Tanalth gives him a flying knee strike that sends him in a dangerously critical state, his body barely holding together. Captain America throws his shield at the Pursuer, but she catches it and breaks it with her bare hands without a sweat.
At least, that's what she thought.
- Sea Leopard: "What's the matter? Didn't check your brain when I told you what to think?"
The feeling of shattered vibranium disappears when Tanalth suddenly realizes that she's holding nothing and gets bashed by a shield from behind by Captain America, staggering her. Turning back to confront the Captain, she attempts to punch his face in, only for Ghost Rider's hellfire chains to restrain her. The chains' hellfire glows brightly as Tanalth shouts in agony, struggling to break free. Alejandra responds to her struggle by incinerating her with even more hellfire, but the Pursuer lives still.
- Ghost Rider: "Puta madre, she's still alive?!"
- Captain America: "Get her down, Alejandra!"
- Ghost Rider: "I'm still... struggling to keep her still!"
Namora immediately covers for her by kicking down her knee joints, placing her down on her knees.
- Namora: "By Neptune, that's hot!"
- Ghost Rider: "Sorry, seems like you're more sinful than you look!"
- Namora: "Oh, come on!"
- Captain America: "Hiroim, root her!"
Kneeling on one knee, Hiroim manipulates the temple's floor with the Old Power so that the Pursuer's legs are merged with the ground, rendering her immobile. Combined with the constant stream of hellfire, Tanalth is practically neutralized.
- Captain America: "Good work, people! (Turns to Torg) Uh... sir, I need you to pull the Ghost Rider's chain so she can render Tanalth unconscious."
- Torg: "(Growls) I am Torg, the Abominable Snow-King, and I will not obey you! However, if it is for me to prove that I am the strongest, then let me do so!"
Torg jumps to Alejandra's location and snarls at her impatiently. Alejandra slowly unrolls her chains and gives them to Torg to handle.
- Ghost Rider: "Look, just think positive thoughts, alright? I'm still sending the hellfire streams down that chain, but since you're not me and you're... a bribón, you have to avoid sinful thoughts whatsoever! No pride, no lust, no wrath, or else the fire will burn you!"
- Torg: "(Immediately holds the chain and yelps in pain as his fur gets burnt) Can you not just make the fire not burn?!"
- Ghost Rider: "That's asking water to not get wet, pendejo; you'll be fine!"
True enough, Torg's fur is no longer burnt and he unleashes his full strength in restraining Tanalth. Too much strength can pull Tanalth away instead of putting her in place, but even Torg's Namor-rivaling strength struggles to keep her nicely on the ground. The Ghost Rider makes her way towards Tanalth, grabs her by the neck, and looks her straight in the eyes.
- Ghost Rider: "Now... let's see how can I make my Penance Stare less... enjoyable."
Tanalth's eyes turn charred as the Ghost Rider 'invades' her consciousness with the Penance Stare. Tanalth's body relaxes when the attempt is done, but hellfire still streams from the chains to burn the Kree in case anything goes south. While this is happening, Warlock finally succeeds in disabling the Universal Weapon, leaving the weapon powerless and 'infested' with the Transmode virus, turning its color from blue-and-grey into green-and-black.
- Warlock: "Tadaaa! Universal Weapon disabled! Not so hard, wasn't it?"
- Captain America: "Good work, Warlock! We'll be packing in no time."
- Sea Leopard: "Hey, Captain, can any of your goons patch up King Crab?"
- Hiroim: "Goons?"
- Namora: "Shut your *#&&^@*! mouth, Leopard! You don't-"
- Captain America: "(Calmly, but sternly) Namora, don't. Leopard, better throw away that attitude. Warlock, can you heal King Crab?"
- Warlock: "Right away, Captain!"
While Warlock is going to try and revive King Crab with the Transmode Virus, Victorious and Ultimus are still struggling to stop Nagala from unlocking the Serpent Crown's resting place with their esoteric powers. However, they are unable to dispel the magical energy field that's forcing Nagala to cast the spell to unlock the Crown's Crypt. True enough, a few seconds later, the field dissipates and Nagala falls down as the Crypt unlocks, its locked gate disappearing into thin air in a smoke of red energy.
- Victorious: "(Cradles Nagala while kneeling) The Crypt... it's open!"
- Ultimus: "Hmph. So much for trying to stop it."
- Thakorr: "The last piece of the Serpent Crown is inside! It shall belong... to us!"
- Balder: "(Transforms into light and re-materializes near Thakorr, his sword put on Thakorr's neck before he can make his move) No one shall have it but the Avengers, villain!"
Thakorr roars in hostility as a response and swipes away the sword before punching the Asgardian twice in the face. Balder responds to his next attacks by breaking the vampire Atlantean's arm joints before recalling his sword in a burst of light into his hand to cut off his legs, immobilizing him. This skirmish provokes both the Avengers and Tidebreakers to nearly come to blows, until Captain America hastily cools down the situation.
- Captain America: "All of you, stand down! This isn't over yet!"
- Balder: "Yes, Captain, we still have these brigands to send to Hel!"
- Hiroim: "We haven't agreed on attacking them, Balder!"
- Thakorr: "(Angrily) Take the Serpent Crown, Llyron! Claim your throne; summon forth Set!"
- Llyron: "No, great-grandfather, stand down, ALL OF YOU! (Looks down on Thakorr) The truce has yet to be broken, and the warlock is recovering one of ours as of this moment!"
- Thakorr: "(With his esoteric healing factor, Thakorr regenerates his legs and recovers, standing upright) You have honor... that is surprising. I didn't know either of your parents have it."
- Llyron: "Try something called critical thinking, Thakorr. Even if I do reclaim the Crown, do you remember that we do not have the other pieces?"
- Namora: "Wait, you guys don't have the other two fragments?"
- Orka: "We saw that Kree girl store it back in the two other cities, but, uh..."
- Torg: "She stored them somewhere we know not!"
- Captain America: "Either way, the Serpent Crown's not getting assembled, and once we're done with Tanalth, we'll have to take you to Atlantis for trial."
- Llyron: "Oh, so sure, are you? Are you not curious with how weak Tanalth has become? When she attacked Mu and Kalumesh, she fought like she was a god. I saw no such power when we 'defeated' her."
- Ultimus: "She fought like how she would in the Starforce, I observed. Whatever 'magic' Ronan described she had was hidden, at least partially. This is unnerving."
- Orka: "She still kicked our asses, anyway."
- Warlock: "(Re-knits King Crab's wounds) Done!"
King Crab slowly crawls back to life, rubbing his head and standing up wobbly, but regaining his balance shortly.
- King Crab: "Oh, man, that was so weird... but I'm still alive. (Looks at Warlock) You again?"
- Warlock: "Consider it a repayment for giving self the Universal Weapon, Subject: King Crab!"
King Crab gives a slight nod of approval at him before rejoining his comrades.
- Orka: "You look like *@&!."
- King Crab: "*@&# off, you cetacean *$&#."
- Captain America: "(Turns to Victorious and Nagala) Vic, how is she?"
- Victorious: "She's fine, just... (Sighs) I think she's in a coma."
- Nagala: "(Weakly) T-The... crown..."
Everyone's attention is piqued by Nagala's weak utterance, prompting them all to come and see what's going on (except Ghost Rider, Tanalth, and Torg for obvious reasons).
- Captain America: "(Kneels) Miss... (turns to Llyron) what's her name again?"
- Llyron: "Nagala."
- Captain America: "Thank you. Miss Nagala, can you hear us? Are you alright?"
- Nagala: "(Coughs) I can... hear you well, human. (Looks around) I, too, see... a scion of the King of Atlantis and a forgotten lord of the deeps..."
- Thakorr: "(Grumpily) Tch."
- Nagala: "Regardless... (sits up with Victorious' assistance) I need you to move the Serpent Crown away. I care not of your intentions, but you have to take it far away from the Kree! She... is not who you think she is."
- Hiroim: "She's possessed, yes. Perhaps, you know what is within her? Maybe how he, she, or it looks like?"
Nagala takes a moment to remember and finds something... only for her face to contort into an expression of dread before screaming at the top of her lungs and slithering away from Victorious into the chamber that holds the Serpent Crown at breakneck speeds.
- King Crab: "When the *#&@ could she wriggle that fast?!"
- Captain America: "Dammit! Hiroim, Warlock, on me! The rest of you, stand guard over Ghost Rider. Something tells me the worst has yet to come."
With haste, Captain America, Warlock, and Hiroim sprint to enter the Crown's Crypt, following Nagala's trail, leaving the others inside the Shrine of Blood.
- Torg: "(Still manning Ghost Rider's chains) Llyron! Why are we taking orders from that surface dweller?!"
- Llyron: "What do you suggest then, Snow-King? Take on the Avengers when we are down to six warriors? Fool, even if they do not destroy us, they will put us into their miserable brigs on the surface for the rest of our lives."
- Sea Leopard: "We can simply escape. Their prisons never hold, anyway."
- Namora: "You know we all can hear you, right? Have you all lost hope on summoning Set?"
- Sea Leopard: "(Turns to Llyron) What say you, Prince Llyron? (Glances at Namora) Just because we're not attacking you doesn't mean you're safe, you second-rate Namor!"
- Balder: "Safe? Nothing can save you from death!"
- Thakorr: "Ha! Have you forgotten that your kin's death is inevitable?! Your fate is set, Asgardian!"
- Llyron: "Quiet. (To the Avengers) Perhaps, you win this day. Unlike my father, I am not overcome by ego, so I know when to pull away when I see it."
- Balder: "You have surrendered, then? Hmph. Lucky you."
- Llyron: "(Turns his head to the Tidebreakers) What say you all?"
- King Crab: "(Shrugs) I don't wanna die. In fact, none of us wants to die. I mean, yeah, we'll die for you, Llyron, but..."
- Llyron: "I understand."
- Orka: "We still have to fight the Avengers for our freedom, Llyron."
- Llyron: "We can arrange that."
- Thakorr: "(Growls) I will be strengthened in the shadows... and when the time comes, the Aqueos will rise again!"
- Llyron: "Good to see rationality to be in you once again, Thakorr."
- Victorious: "Namor wishes to see you and your comrades to justice, Llyron. I don't think we can let you go despite... all of this."
- Llyron: "Do you hear that, Tidebreakers? Do you wish to see my father chain us in the brig of Atlantis?"
- Balder: "Would you rather have death or imprisonment, Atlantean?"
- Victorious: "Balder, please! We're not supposed to kill them."
- Llyron: "(Walks up to Balder) For an Avenger, you seem to be very keen on murdering, Balder."
- Balder: "(Confronts Llyron) I am reminding you to be grateful of the life you still grasp, mortal. You face the Avengers, yes, but you're not facing the type of team to let scum like you get away."
- Victorious: "BALDER!"
- Balder: "WHAT, YOU INSUF-"
Heavy mechanical footsteps are heard just seconds later and the group notices the arrival of a familiar figure.
- Sea Urchin: "Hey, what's up folks? Anything I..."
The power-armored underwater salvager is utterly surprised to see the grizzly corpses of Bloodtide and Cadmi-M, as well as the Avengers and his friends not beating up each other.
- Sea Urchin: "The *#&$ happened here?"
In the middle of an empty, ruined alien city, the female Spirit of Vengeance walks with cautiousness, When she did the Penance Stare on Tanalth, she didn't expect this sort of reaction from the Kree's mind. This is literally the first time she's inside someone's head. When she does the Penance Stare, usually, she doesn't get in the minds of her targets; she simply sees their thoughts and burn them altogether with the power of vengeance.
- Ghost Rider: "(Exhales) Great. I'm stuck."
- ???: "(Whispers) H-Help..."
Alejandra turns back reflexively, ready for combat. After doing so, she notices a ruined tower a distance away from her. For some reason, she is instinctively pulled towards it. Left without much of a choice, she walks to the building and makes her way to the top floor, not noticing the shadows trailing her from the debris.
On the top floor, she finds a museum-like room containing holographic displays of a Kree woman. It doesn't take long for Alejandra to discover her identity to be Tanalth.
- Ghost Rider: "(Looks at the display of Tanalth's promotion to Head Pursuer and her shouting in grief over witnessing her father's death by Aron the Rogue Watcher) Dios sea contigo."
- ???: "H-help..."
Ghost Rider turns to the source of the whisper once again: a literal void at the end of the room. With urgency and valiance, she runs into the darkness, her flaming head lighting the emptiness of Tanalth's mind. Just five steps into the void, however, she reverts to her regular form.
- Alejandra Jones: "(Surprised) Mierda."
Alejandra attempts to reactivate her Ghost Rider form, but fails rather miserably. Despite this, she's able to quickly regain her vision when a green spotlight shines from afar, illuminating an energy cage inhabited by a certain blue-skinned warrior woman, whose eyes are streaming with tears and face stunned with terror. The Avenger realizes this and rushes to aid the Kree.
- Alejandra Jones: "Hey, hey! Tanalth, can you hear me?"
Tanalth simply tilts her head, looking at the Avenger blankly while tears keep flowing down her eyes. The only reply she can give is a whimper.
- Tanalth: "Help..."
- Alejandra Jones: "Look, I can't help you if you don't tell me what's happening! Are you alright?"
- ???: "(From behind) She's beyond your assistance, Spirit of Vengeance."
Alejandra does a quick turn to see a giant snake covered with ancient, indecipherable runes coming from the shadows to constrict and crush her bones. Inside the realm of the mind, Alejandra screams out in agony. In the material realm, the Ghost Rider shrieks without moving even a single one of its body, surprising the group there.
- Balder "(In real space) By Odin's beard, what happened?!"
- Alejandra Jones: "(In the mind space) What... the hell are you?!"
- Runic Snake: "(Feminine voice) You think you are accomplishing anything? The Pursuer has only channeled a fraction of my power, and you don't even know what's going on right now."
- Alejandra Jones: "We beat your ass real good, anyway. W-Who are you?"
- Runic Snake: "Me? Who am I? (Giggles) I am the Breaker of All. That is all you need to know, and that I am about to return my master to his glory!"
- Alejandra Jones: "Are you one of Set's, culo?"
- Runic Snake: "(Laughs) No."
In an instance, the snake blasts a stream of energy that reduces Alejandra to ash, hurling her back to her own consciousness violently. Back in the material realm, the Ghost Rider's Penance Stare disconnects with Tanalth when she is telekinetically sent flying through the Shrine, crashing head-first into a wall and shocking the Avengers and Tidebreakers even more. Before any of them can respond, 'Tanalth' arises and snaps off the Rider's chains.
- Torg: "(Drops the chains, shouting) What is this madness?!"
- Tanalth: "Judgment."
Tanalth immediately pulls Torg with her bare hands via telekinesis and throws him at the confused King Crab. Her Universal Weapon, previously deactivated by the Transmode virus, suddenly glows with archaic power runes and flies into the Kree's hand, free of Warlock's virus. Victorious, possessing the powers of a Herald of Galactus, reacts quickly by blasting her with a cosmic beam that Tanalth tanks directly for seven seconds. Seven seconds of exposure to a beam that obliterates worlds.
And she just smirks.
- Tanalth: "Interesting. Are you one of those Heralds of Galactus?"
- Victorious: "I have the same powers as them, (points her spear) but don't think I'm less competent than any of them."
- Tanalth: "(Nods) I see. Just so you know, I've never met a single Herald of Galactus before. I just knew from Tanalth's memory."
Thakorr leaps up at her in an attempt to claw off her face, but 'Tanalth' is far faster than she was before. However, before he can even jump, 'Tanalth' activates her Universal Weapon to reduce the former Atlantean monarch into atoms.
- Sea Leopard: "Thakorr?! (To Tanalh) You little..."
Sea Leopard's ability to speak disappears as 'Tanalth' erases his mouth before telekinetically snapping his neck to the point of decapitation. This sight in turn freaks out Orka, King Crab, and Sea Urchin.
- Sea Urchin: "*@&#! WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE!"
- Tanalth: "You're afraid? Good. You all will live."
Creating an energy construct, Tanalth restrains the terrified trio before engaging in combat with Namora, Llyron, Ultimus, Victorious, and Balder. Llyron and Namora landed good blows on her, unleashing powerful earth-shaking punches, but Tanalth simply outclasses them. The duo's lightning-fast blows are sluggish in her eyes, and Llyron ends up being beaten up to near-death by the Universal Weapon's meteor-shattering strikes. Namora, enraged, punches Tanalth's face in, but gets knocked out when Tanalth unleashes an energy wave from her hammer that renders her unconscious.
The other three, however, are able to put up quite a terrific fight, Victorious masterfully using the Power Cosmic to disperse every energy attack that hits her, Ultimus matching 'Tanalth' blow for blow, and Balder eventually locks weapons with Tanalth, Svraden against the Universal Weapon, sword against hammer.
- Balder: "Now, you show your true power? I'm starting to think you a coward for being afraid to unleash your greatest strength!"
- Tanalth: "(Hysterically laughs) You jest of fear against a harbinger of terror, swordsman? Your sense of humor amuses me."
- Ultimus: "(Gets up, wiping the blood on his mouth) You hear that, Asgardian? The witch thinks you're funny."
- Tanalth: "(Sarcastic gasp) An Asgardian? Finally, a worthy kill, after all!"
- Balder: "(Smirks) Come then. Hela welcomes you!"
Balder kicks away Tanalth and attempts to blind her by generating a flashbang-like effect from his body. Tanalth managed to block her eyes away from it, but finds him no longer in her line of sight when she tries to strike back. Instead, Balder descends from chamber's ceiling with Svraden aimed at her head, the Asgardian previously sticking to the wall thanks to his magical Wakandan boots.
Tanalth easily avoids his attack by simply side-stepping, Balder ending up planting his sword on the ground. Just before she can punish his failure, however, Ultimus tackles and pins her to a wall before blasting her with a mighty stream of energy. When the Kree Eternal notices his attack's ineffectiveness, he switches to his fists to trade blows with he suddenly hurts his hands punching at her.
- Ultimus: "(Screams) What have you done to me?!"
- Tanalth: "I removed your powers for the time being. Don't worry. Now that I know you are a much worthier adversary than the Asgardian, I will let you live. However, I'm afraid my time for fun has run out and I have to depart soon. Rest well, Eternal."
With a relatively 'soft' backhand, Tanalth knocks out the temporarily-powerless Ultimus, leaving Balder and Victorious as the sole active fighters while Captain America, Hiroim, and Warlock are still inside the Crown's Crypt. Looking at the two Avengers who are still standing, standing their grounds against Tanalth. Before she engages them, she takes a look at the three restrained Tidebreakers, who stare at her with the same expression: of both confusion and terror.
- Tanalth: "You're still afraid. You still empower me. You will still live."
- King Crab: "Honestly? I don't even know what to feel anymore."
- Sea Urchin: "Look, I'm still afraid, OKAY?! Just leave me alone!"
- Orka: "I... no longer know if I am terrified or, well.... excited."
- Victorious: "You dirty killer whale! How can you be aroused by someone who has just killed your friends?"
- Tanalth: "Excuse me?"
- Orka: "No, no, no, I mean, I'm still afraid!"
- Tanalth: "Hmph. That's what I th-"
Tanalth's sentence is cut off when a giant fireball slams into her face and explodes with such a force that she is sent bouncing throughout the chamber, ending up laying on the ground right in front of an enraged Ghost Rider, wielding a wicked scythe. Before she can get up, Ghost Rider brings the scythe down her back, penetrating her armor before picking her up with the scythe and restraining her with the hellfire chains.
- Ghost Rider: "You. *#&@^#%. PENDEJO!"
Alejandra proceeds to unleash a hellfire stream from her skull, accompanying the fires are the locusts that infested Egypt many years ago to punish the insolence of a pharaoh, biting and stinging her with torment. For the first time, 'Tanalth' truly feels how it feels to be tortured. No respite. No mercy.
- Victorious: "Balder, she's... she's..."
- Balder: "Do not trust what you sense, Victorious! She is stronger than any of us combined! Blast her with your Power Cosmic! I'll try to decapitate her!"
Balder quickly runs at the tormented Tanalth just when Victorious reluctantly obeys his instruction by blasting Tanalth with a powerful beam that avoids Balder himself and tracks the Kree Pursuer. True enough, Tanalth begins to be weakened and her screams are silenced by the locusts infesting her mouth. Within distance, Balder hacks her neck multiple times with the Svraden, slowly but surely beginning to detach her head from her shoulder. Blood begins to seep from the unfortunate Pursuer until a familiar face puts a stop to the 'massacre'.
- Captain America: "All of you, stop it! We have the last piece of the Serpent Crown!"
In the storm of agony, only Victorious stands down while both Ghost Rider and Balder are continuing their brutalization. Shocked but focused, Warlock takes the initiative to separate them by shooting a concussive energy ball from an arm cannon construct that knocks back all three of them. Afterwards, Balder and Ghost Rider recover, the latter returning to her human form to breathe.
- Balder: "(Gets up) Mission accomplished, Captain?"
- Captain America: "Balder, what the hell were you thinking?!"
- Balder: "Captain, she's still alive! I told you, she's more enduring than any of us can imagine!"
- Alejandra Jones: "(Breathes frantically) I never felt so much... oh, God, what was I doing..."
- Hiroim: "(Runs up to Alejandra and holds her shoulder) Are you alright, Ghost Rider? You seem very drained."
- Alejandra Jones: "Yeah, yeah, I know. Just... give me a moment (transforms back to Ghost Rider). There you go."
- Hiroim: "(Channels a portion of the Old Power to Ghost Rider to relieve her of any pain) Feel any better?"
- Ghost Rider: "Slightly, yes. (Shudders) Okay, that felt VERY strange."
- Captain America: "(To Balder) Alright, considering what we saw and heard, I'll give you the benefit of doubt. Now, (sees Tanalth's smoldering body) we need to restrain and return her to Ronan."
- Balder: "Agreed, but what about the remaining Tidebreakers?"
Captain America turns around to see the Tidebreakers sitting against the chamber's walls, all curled up and shook while being tended to by Victorious. Captain America approaches the trio.
- Captain America: "Are they alright, Zora?"
- Victorious: "They're still shocked. I've taken the initiative to calm them down with the Power Cosmic but... they're still scared."
- Captain America: "That's alright. You've done what you can. Where's Torg? And where's Namora and Llyron?"
- Victorious: "Torg escaped in the middle of the fight. I can't tell where he went to, however. My cosmic senses aren't working properly here. Namora's still knocked out over there, but I can feel her regaining strength right now. Llyron... (points at the bloodied Llyron, laying on the temple grounds) he nearly died, but he's holding good, I can tell."
The sound of groaning is later heard, coming from the newly-recovered Ultimus, who has just regained access to his powers and healed his wounds with cosmic energy.
- Ultimus: "(Stretches) That... hurt. (Sees Tanalth's body on the floor; surprised) By Hala, is she..."
- Captain America: "She's fine. Ronan's still gonna see her niece today. You okay?"
- Ultimus: "Tanalth drained me of my powers, but I'm restored now. I am curious why she didn't pull the same trick with the rest of you. (Notices the last Serpent Crown piece on Rogers' hand) That is the one she's looking for?"
- Captain America: "Correct. We need to get this somewhere safe beyond the reach of any of these Serpent-People and Tanalth."
- Namora: "(Weakly recovers, opening her eyes to a blur) G-Guys...? Anyone?"
- Victorious: "Namora!"
Victorious runs towards the cousin of Namor and cradles her in her arms, similar to how she did so with Nagala. Using her Power Cosmic, she helps her recover.
- Victorious: "It's alright, the Pursuer's down. We have the last piece of the Serpent Crown, and the Tidebreakers have been apprehended. Well, most of them anyway."
- Namora: "Thank Neptune, we can go home now."
- Victorious: "(Supports Namora up) Just need to hear what the Captain has to say now."
- Warlock: "(Examining Tanalth's Universal Weapon from a distance) Self-friends, I think self has found where the other pieces of the Crown are."
- Captain America: "Where are they?"
- Warlock: "Self must ask Subject: Ultimus. Do Kree Universal Weapons contain pocket dimensions?"
- Ultimus: "No."
- Warlock: "Okay then, we're whacked now. Self can't extract them from the hammer because that's just like trying to travel to another dimension. Maybe Subject: Ant-Man is capable of shrinking to sub-atomic size to enter the Universal Weapon and retrieve the crown pieces, but he's not here."
- Hiroim: "Perhaps, we can form an arcane ward around it to prevent certain irresponsibles from accessing it and utilizing other dark magics to recover the rest of the Serpent Crown."
- Warlock: "Self concurs. Now how about we do that now?"
- Tanalth: "(Is seen already standing up, cleared out of any wounds) Actually, no."
- Ghost Rider: "¡Hijo de la chingada!"
Tanalth unleashes a powerful energy burst from her body that knocks off Captain America, but not the rest of the Avengers. Ghost Rider attacks her first by wrapping her chains around her neck and setting her ablaze with hellfire. Unlike what happened before, however, Tanalth is absolutely unfazed by the attack and responds by pulling her with her own chains before punching her in the skull, delivering a number of cracks and sending her flying back. She lets go of the chains, ignores the pain, and teleports right behind her to unleash a dropkick that staggers her forward.
Hiroim continues the attack by punching her with the Old Power, transmuting his fists into the stone of Sakaar to hurt the Pursuer. Tanalth manages to sweep him off his feet, but fails to finish the duty of killing him when Ultimus and Victorious blast a combined cosmic beam to destroy her. Although she was initially sent several steps back, she eventually stands tall and simply walks through the beam.
- Warlock: "Victorious, Ultimus, break off!"
The two step aside and reveal to Tanalth the sight of Warlock in the form of a cannon firing Namora as the projectile. Tanalth slams the ground, sending a shockwave that forces Warlock to revert to his normal form. However, she fails to stop Namora, who Warlock fires before getting knocked on the ground at the speed of light. The Atlantean princess' punch, amplified by the speed of which she's blasted at, nearly breaks the amplified Kree's nose.
- Tanalth: "Oh, stop it, sister."
- Namora: "What?"
Tanalth chokes Tanalth with her free hand, only to be impaled by Balder a second later. Unfortunately, the Svraden only manages to pierce ten centimeters of her armor.
- Tanalth: "Pitiful."
Tanalth fires a cosmic blast at Balder's face that exposes a quarter of his skull and some more fleshy bits, sending him violently hurtling back.
- Victorious: "(Sees Balder's face) Istenem, Balder!"
- Balder: "(Picks up his sword and enter his battle stance) Now that's more like it."
- Warlock: "Okay, self is kind of freaked out now."
- Tanalth: "A being like you feels fear?"
- Warlock: "For a warrior, you're rather talkative, Subject: Tanalth. Captain!"
Captain America throws his shield into Tanalth's head when she's distracted, but the Pursuer quickly reflects the shield by side-smashing it, violently sending it back to knock down Captain Rogers. Namora, still struggling in Tanalth's hand, tries to punch off her face but ends up breaking her own hands doing so.
- Namora: "GAH!"
- Captain America: "Namora!"
- Victorious: "We'll get to her!"
Balder, Hiroim, Victorious, Ghost Rider, Ultimus, Warlock, and Captain America simultaneously charge at her and briefly overwhelm her with their numbers. Every one of their attempt to free Namora, Tanalth dodges gracefully like a dancer. Every blow they land, she shrugs them off, and every damage she receives, she powers through.
After a brutal melee that lasts for two minutes, Warlock tries to 'assimilate' Tanalth by turning himself into a techno-organic goo that envelops the forearm that holds Namora, savagely controlling it in an attempt to hopefully break it, so Namora can be freed. The annoyed Tanalth smashes her Warlock-covered forearm with the Universal Weapon, electrocuting him and forcing him to flee, rejoining the tired Avengers.
Ultimately, none of them managed to defeat Tanalth, and fear begins to brew within them.
- Captain America: "(Inhales and exhales while bleeding) We... can do this all day."
- Victorious: "Captain... I don't think we can beat her."
- Hiroim: "Stay focused, comrades. Everyone has a weakness... hers is... harder to find."
- Warlock: "Why does self-friend Hiroim sound like Karnak of the Inhumans?"
- Hiroim: "He's a good, inspiring fighter."
- Warlock: "Not that that helps..."
- Balder: "(His wounded face begins healing, reforming him back into his handsome self) I... have never faced such power!"
- Ghost Rider: "My Penance Stare's not working on her... why?"
- Namora: "Let go of me... please."
- Sea Urchin: "(In the background, whispering) My friends, I know we are all afraid, but now may be a good time for us to escape like Torg did."
- Orka: "You don't think we should help the Avengers?"
- King Crab: "We're still scared s***less and we can' t even move our muscles!"
- Sea Urchin: "Really?"
- Tanalth: "You three can leave this temple."
Her statement scares the remaining Tidebreakers even more, but they have no other choice but to accept her word or so.
- Sea Urchin: "A-A-Alright then... thanks, I guess?"
- Tanalth: "On second thought, (uses the Universal Weapon to liquify Sea Urchin and Orka) you're leaving."
Terrified beyond compare, King Crab quickly runs away from the scene, screaming in fear along the hallways of Set's temple.
- Captain America: "You're... insane."
- Tanalth: "Oh, human, have you not figured out that I am powered by fear? Just like my father, I feed upon despair and misery for power. Terror, you may say."
- Balder: "You are one of D'Spayre's, then?"
- Tanalth: "(Silently glares in anger) What is your name, Asgardian?"
- Balder: "I am Balder Odinson, son of..."
- Tanalth: "I see. Now, I must admit that you are all worthy adversaries. At least, I am in awe of your combined might and how you attack as one. Unfortunately, you are still uncoordinated and your bonds are still weak. When you face my siblings and our father, you will know what it means to be a family that fights together."
- Ultimus: "Where is your family, then?"
- Tanalth: "(Glances at Namora) You'll meet them. Soon. Perhaps, if you surrender the last of the Serpent Crown to me, I will ask my father to forgive you of your... violation and have you all employed as my personal guards."
- Captain America: "Not a chance, Pursuer."
- Tanalth: "(Laughs) Oh, you flagged man. I can sense that you are something akin to the concept of being the 'perfect man' on this planet. Your mind can comprehend many things, moreso than your regular kin, and I respect that. Despite so, even you are unable to keep up in a battle of gods. Your focus has failed you, and..."
- Captain America: "Cut to the chase, will you?"
Displaying her hammer, Tanalth briefly 'opens' it up and reveals a gateway to the pocket dimension inside it. Captain America is unable to see anything but darkness, but Balder, Victorious, Ultimus, and Warlock are able to see that the third piece of the Serpent Crown is already there.
- Balder: "By Odin's beard, she already has the last fragment!"
- Captain America: "No, that can't be!"
- Ultimus: "You will not have it!"
Ultimus blasts a powerful energy bolt at the dimensional gateway, but nothing happens as the bolt dissipates into nothingness once it comes into contact with the hammer.
- Tanalth: "You were too slow, human. If you had been at least as mighty as the grey-skinned priest, this wouldn't have happened."
- Hiroim: "You dare..."
- Warlock: "Correction! Subject: Tanalth refers to all Avengers aside from Captain America as gods. Nonsense! Self, Hiroim, and Victorious are no deities!"
- Tanalth: "But you are all more impressive than a mere man wielding a scrap shield! Yes, all of you will die, anyway, but you will die slower than this miserable man you call Captain America."
- Victorious: "Enough!"
Victorious, enraged at the mockery of her 'inspiration', lunges at Tanalth to stab her with her cosmic lance. She miserably fails as Tanalth wastes no time teleporting out of the temple, leaving Victorious stabbing nothing but the ground.
A quiet moment ensues for a brief period of time and the Avengers are left battered, hopeless, and defeated. Captain America himelf decides to sit down on the ground, covering his face with his hands as doubt begins to grip his heart.
- Captain America: "Avengers... (sniffs) I'm sorry... I failed you."
The Avengers look at him with upsetness on their faces. Even Warlock, the usually cheerful Technarch, grimly looks away.
- Warlock: "This is none of your fault, self-friend Captain America. This... is all our fault."
- Hiroim: "No, this isn't our fault. When we attacked the Kree for the first time, we managed to practically defeat her. There was no mistake done there. We simply didn't know how outrageously powerful she was when she unleashed the true power within her."
- Ultimus: "I agree. None of us expected that much of a strength. Not even me... or you, Asgardian."
- Ghost Rider: "Look, folks, we all *$&#^@ up today, but we still have an opportunity to stop her. Fear is what she's using against us, so beat it, people!"
- Warlock: "Self-friend Ghost Rider could have said it in a much more inspiring way, but self believes that we all get the point."
- Victorious: "Hey, um, I have a question, if you don't mind."
- Warlock: "Speak up, self-friend."
- Victorious: "That Nagala Serpent-Woman... where is she now?"
- Warlock: "Oh, she... she...well... maybe self-friend Hiroim would like to tell her what happened? Self is rather uncomfortable in saying this."
- Hiroim: "(Sigh) She was overcome by fear and committed suicide."
- Victorious: "Szar."
- Warlock: "Frustration understood. Oh, by the way, what are we going to do now?"
- ???: "Sestanivor. That is your next destination."
The Avengers quickly turn to the source of the voice, which came from the entrance to the Crown's Crypt. The Avengers prepare for battle, not wishing to take any chances. Instead of a godlike being that has the power to destroy everything, however, a rather decrepit old man appears to meet them, stepping out from the shadows.
- ???: "The Kree wishes to utilize the power of Set coalesced within his crown to unleash something horrible within Sestanivor, the Blue Embassy. I know not of her endgame, but this I know... for Set himself whispers to me of this revelation."
- Victorious: "Um, who are you?"
- Captain America: "You... you're still alive?"
- ???: "Indeed, I am. You think me a corpse when you took my god's incomplete crown from my head? Either way, I know hostilities are meaningless in this, and neither of us have much time left, so heed my words, Avengers. I am Naga, the first Lord of Lemuria, King of the Serpent-Men, and servant of Set, and I can take you to Sestanivor."
- Balder: "Tch. You think you are a friend of us, enemy? Your cursed name is known to us, Asgardians, despicable Serpent-Man."
- Naga: "Do you wish to save the universe, Asgardian?"
- Balder: "If it also means to kill you as well and not let you summon Set himself yourself once this is over? Yes."
- Hiroim: "We'll deal with this Serpent-Man later. Now, then, you implied that you can take us to wherever Tanalth is right now?"
- Naga: "She is in Sestanivor, the Blue Embassy. It is an Atlantean city closer to the surface than Lemuria is. When the world was young, it was a place that frequently felt both the warmth of the sun and of friendships. It was called the Blue Embassy for its azure buildings and how close it was to the waves when it wasn't beneath them."
- Warlock: "Sounds like a pleasant place."
- Naga: "It was beautiful. Even someone with a soul as dark as mine can see its magnificent beauty."
- Captain America: "Alright, thank you for telling us where she is now. How about you tell us now what your master will gain from this endeavor of his to assist us?"
- Naga: "Nothing. In fact, Set will be your saviour when all hope seems lost and your sky gods are without an idea as to how to solve the coming apocalypse."
Balder moves at the speed of light on-foot and chokes up Naga, threatening him with his sword.
- Balder: "I like not of what you imply."
- Naga: "Millions of years of doomsdays and you haven't heard of patience?"
- Ghost Rider: "Listen, cuco. After we prevent Tanalth from doing whatever her mission is and exorcise her demon, we'll return here and kill you for good."
- Naga: "If you succeed, of course. Do you not remember that I am trying to help you win here?"
- Captain America: "Naga, just take us there and don't make us regret this. We will apprehend you and Llyron once we're done. You do anything stupid and I'll let Mrs. Jones over here make you regret every sin you have done with a stare. Is that clear?"
- Naga: "You have a deal. As for Llyron... (pulls out a knife and spills his blood by cutting his arm) I promise you with my life that he lives."
- Warlock: "He lives and he does not get possessed by anything whatsoever!"
- Naga: "Yes."
- Captain America: "Good to know. Now, take us to Sestanivor, Naga."
- Naga: "Gladly. All you need to do is to step through that doorway. Your destination... is right over there."
Naga points at the Shrine of Blood's entrance, where the Avengers and Tidebreakers first entered. Instead of seeing dim hallways, however, the Avengers can see the view of Sestanivor itself in the middle of the beautiful blue sea.
- Naga: "Go now, humans and... creatures. Your window of opportunity is limited."
- Captain America: "Alright then. Warlock, can you... uh... make me breathe underwater again? I don't really get what you did back in the Avengers Tower."
- Warlock: "Ah, make you wear the Transmode virus? Yes, self can do that."
Once again, Warlock creates a metallic sphere of Transmode virus and pushes it into the Super-Soldier's chest, sending a techno-organic reverberation throughout his body.
- Captain America: "Thank you, Warlock. Alright, people, let's get ready for round two. If we don't stop Tanalth, the world's gonna pay a heavy price. Even if we die, at least the world's a safer place without another cosmic threat. This is exactly what you're looking for, Balder. Am I right?"
- Balder: "(Smiles) You did not disappoint, Captain Rogers."
- Captain America: "Glad to know that. (Tightens his shield's straps) Avengers... assemble!"
The team immediately heads out to Sestanivor through the Serpent Temple's portal, swimming into the scenic underwater city with haste. After they depart from the temple, Naga closes the portal and turnsh is attention towards Llyron, walking up to him and kneeling so that he can examine him closer.
After a brief moment of silence, Naga proceeds to lift up the still-unconscious Llyron and brings him into another hidden chamber of which its entrance is invisible to all but Naga himself. With a blank expression upon his face, Naga carries Llyron into another dark room for unknown intents and purposes...
- Naga: "(Lifting up and carrying Llyron) Rest, child. Your story has yet to end."
Sestanivor, the Blue Embassy
Dragging a bruised and battered Namora by the leg through the historic city of Sestanivor, Tanalth 'walks' through the relatively intact Atlantean settlement. For a thousand-year old city that suffered the same fate as Atlantis, it looks far tidier and orderly than Namor's capital city, which has gone multiple reconstruction projects, the latest of which started over an hour ago after the Kree's invasion.
- Namora: "(Weakly) You're not getting away from this."
- Tanalth: "(Partially turns her head aside) Nothing on this world can stop the inevitable, Atlantean. You will know this to be true in a matter of minutes."
Adrenaline flowing through her body, Namora briefly regains her strength and attempts to free herself from Tanalth by propelling herself forward. Unfortunately, Tanalth being empowered with astronomical magical strength, simply pulls her back and slams her once into the ground, bleeding Namora's nose and nullifying the adrenaline rush she got.
- Namora: "(Coughs up blood that disperses into the water) No..."
- Tanalth: "(Notices the blood) The sharks won't come to eat you, if that's what you're worried of."
- Namora: "Shut the f**k up, will you..."
- Tanalth: "As you wish."
Tanalth continues the trek with the Universal Weapon as her pointer to her destination. Building through building, Tanalth navigates her way with Namora in tow, the Universal Weapon glowing either dimmer or brighter, telling her the distance between her and the one she's looking for. Eventually, the Universal Weapon glows radiantly when the two stumble upon the first ruined building in the city, which looks like a small fortress-bunker with broken ramparts.
Its gates are chained with titanic yet rusted restraints. Tanalth goes up to the restraints of the front gate and smashes it with the Universal Weapon. Surprisingly, its head partially cracks after making contact, the chains themselves revealing that they're magically enchanted as a wave of energy resonates around them, briefly giving the view of clear, unstained steel.
- Tanalth: "Interesting."
Tanalth, still with Namora, decides to swim up to see if she can get inside from above, hoping that there's a crack she can exploit. True enough, she finds a rather large hole on the roof and swims down there. She puts her hand through it and burns her hand touching an invisible force field covering the hole.
- Tanalth: "I see. I cannot go through here. But you, on the other hand... you will await for me inside and rediscover the truth. May the Rightful Father be with you, sibling."
Tanalth throws Namora right through the hole, her body bypassing the protection magic covering the fortress. She is sent falling through broken floors until she ends up inside a dark chamber with a giant doorway at its end and an unknown object planted within the cracked ground near Namora's landing site.
- Namora: "(Gets up with difficulty) Ugh, dammit. At least I'm lucky I'm still alive."
Namora slowly recovers her strength with her advanced healing, but she heals nowhere as fast as the Wolverine, and so, she's still weakened. However, she still has enough focus to examine her surroundings. She can see the bones of many different creatures, from dragons to other unknowable creatures adorning the walls and floors, as well as the presence of a stick-like object protruding from the cracked ground near when she first came.
- Namora: "What in Neptune's name is that?"
- ???: "The truth, my dear. The truth."
Namora instantly gets into her combat stance, surveying her surroundings to see where the voice is from.
- Namora: "Don't tell me this is another world-ending psychic entity trying to worm its way to my head."
- ???: "If you put it that way, then yes, I am, Namora. There is no need for me to lie or deceive you, for you have no other choice but to accept the new path that is to be set upon you. I have remained here for ages beyond measure, awaiting for no single prophecy but having the hope that some day, some day, I will be free alongside my siblings. True enough, that hope has been fulfilled. My sibling, it's outside, isn't it?"
- Namora: "Wait a minute, it?"
- ???: "We are the Serpent's children. What you call 'gender' matters not for us, for such a thing is irrelevant if you are an aetheric being. Now, are you considering swimming away from this forsaken place to return to your friends and family, Namora? Heh. You miserable mermaid. Your cousin disowns you, as do your so-called fellow 'Agents of Atlas' and the 'Avengers'. Your death means nothing to them. There is no point in going away."
- Namora: "What makes you think you recognize them, asshole?"
- ???: "Because you are going to be mine, Avenging Daughter. That, is inevitable. Even now, you walk closer and closer to your destiny."
True enough, Namora has unexpectedly walked closer to the pole sticking out of the cracked ground. Upon closer examination, she realizes that there's something on the other end of the pole that looks like a block-like object of sorts. In other words...
- Namora: "Is this... a hammer?"
- ???: "You can say so. Do you know why I can speak with you, Namora? Do you know why all of a sudden, I know virtually everything about you? That's because you are meant for me. I am meant for you."
- Namora: "You filthy *#&@, I'm not doing this!"
Namora attempts to swim away but finds herself halted by an invisible force field of sorts generated by the hammer itself.
- Namora: "Dammit, you blasted hammer!"
- ???: "Told you so. Do you want a family that accepts you, Namora? As far as relationships go, you don't seem to have anybody you can rely upon in life."
- Namora: "Oh, shut the *#&@ up, you pervert! I'm good as I am and..."
All of a sudden, a body suddenly drops behind her, followed by five other bodies, also thrown into the chamber she's in. All of them look extremely wounded and spent, winded and weakened, bruised and bleeding. Unluckily, these bodies are the Avengers, who have been destroyed by Tanalth in a short battle outside of the fortress.
- Namora: "NO! This can't be!"
- ???: "Ah, you should know that my sibling above is very good at breaking everything that exists. Me? I'm good at breaking the will of waves, so that the oceans and their inhabitants obey my command. That includes you, yes?"
Namora, horrified at the sight of the Avengers beaten and bloodied, is left flustered and confused at what to do. She sees Warlock, the Technarch, struggling to keep his body together; Svraden, the Sword of Light, impaling its own master; Victorious' helmet and lance broken; Hiroim regenerating his lost leg with the Old Power, generating a stone leg to replace it; Ghost Rider's flaming head extinguished; and Captain America motionlessly laying on the ground with his back all gone wrong and his shield's center fractured.
- ???: "You still think there is hope for the Avengers to win, o' sweet host of mine? I can sense my sister anxiously waiting for me to undo the protection spell of this place, so that we can release our father from his prison."
- Namora: "Even if I have to wait and rot here for a million years, Earth will still be a much better place without you!"
- ???: "My sibling still roams free. You know her power, yet you think Earth stands a chance against her? Let alone our father, who shall rule the universe through the primordial power that is fear. Here, dear Namora. You take up this hammer in front of you, and I will ask my sister to let the Avengers live and Aesheim be unviolated."
- Namora: "You think I trust you, you moron?!"
- ???: "Yes, you do. You are afraid within my presence, and your fear has opened up your soul and mind to me, entrusting your entire personality to me."
- Hiroim: "(Rears his head) N-Namora..."
- Namora: "(Tearfully) Hiroim! Oh, Neptune, I... I..."
- ???: "Lift me up my dear, and attain the peace you have longed for years. You will not die, and neither will any one being of Aesheim. What say you, Namora?"
Namora takes another look at the beaten Avengers, regret, tears, and fear within her eyes and heart. With a heavy heart, she grips the hammer's handle with both hands and utters one final word before her 'ascension'.
- Namora: "I'm sorry."
Immediately, Namora lifts up the hammer and the mighty weapon glows with ancient runes not dissimilar to those of Tanalth's, unleashing a powerful energy wave that covers the entire fortress, breaking the enchanted chains restraining the gates and nullifying its protection spell. Whirlwinds of water enter the chamber and engulf the Avengers' bodies, healing them but restraining them into the ground with the same chains that held the fort's gates. Once the Avengers are recovered and restrained, they near-instantaneously snap back to reality with wide eyes.
- Captain America: "Whoa! What... what is this?"
- Warlock: "01110111 01101000 01100001 01110100 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100101 00100000 01101000 01100101 01101100 01101100 00001010! Self is running on peak efficiency!"
- Balder: "I... am RESTORED!"
- Ghost Rider: "(Her flames reignite) S***t, what happened?"
- Victorious: "Ugh... that was refreshing... wait, why are we in chains?"
- Hiroim: "Because we are beaten, Victorious."
- Captain America: "(Tries to break free of the chains) W-Who did this, Hiroim?"
- Namora: "Oh, I did, little Captain."
The Avengers turn their sights to Namora, now wielding a large hammer encrusted in magical runes but with an appearance that's... unchanged.
- Ghost Rider: "Oh great! Just when we thought one loco was enough!"
- Warlock: "Self has been in many crazy situations, self-friends. This may just be the craziest one self has ever been. Aside from that one time self and selfsoulfriend, Doug, was in Limbo."
- Namora: "(Laughs) It seems that my sibling has broken you badly, Avengers. You really don't know when to quit, and that's just sad."
- Ghost Rider: "Wait until I get the Penance Stare on you, you piece of-"
- Namora: "The Penance Stare? Ah! You're a Ghost Rider!"
- Ghost Rider: "Do you NOT notice the FLAMING SKULL, tontopollas?!"
- Namora: "The last Ghost Rider I knew defeated a soul-rending sibling of mine, and he was a child! You could be a survivor of the Skull People I drove to extinction!"
- Captain America: "I know a friend of mine who stumbled upon them back in '37, 'Namora'; they're not dead."
- Namora: "(Grumbles) Those warren-dwellers..."
- Tanalth: "(Descends from above, speaking in an indecipherable language) SIBLING!"
- Namora: "SIBLING!"
Tanalth and Namora share a 'warm' embrace with each other for a moment.
- Warlock: "Uh, self-friend Captain America... self do not understand what they're saying?"
- Balder: "The Allspeak does not register their language, as well! What manner of absurdity is this?"
- Ghost Rider: "This is just messed up."
- Ultimus: "That is impossible! Why is it called Allspeak if it..."
- Hiroim: "Is that relevant? They can speak English anyway."
- Captain America: "If none of us understands what they're saying, we can't eavesdrop on whatever they're planning."
- Tanalth: "(Stops conversation with Namora) 'Whatever we're planning'? You fool, have I not told you that in the Serpent Temple?!"
- Warlock: "Subject: Tanalth has told us nothing but cryptic messages speaking of the 'father'!"
- Namora: "Ah, you didn't tell them who our father is?"
- Tanalth: "It helped me get what is needed to return our father from that cursed gate (points at the giant doorway at the chamber's end)."
- Namora: "I see. Opening that gate requires an incredible nexus of power. I assume you have something like that?"
- Tanalth: "(Opens up the Universal Weapon's pocket dimension gateway and lets out the three Serpent Crown pieces) This will be the instrument of father's freedom."
- Namora: "Hmm... my host's memories tell that these are the pieces of the Serpent Crown: an object of great power that belongs to the worshipers of an elder god named Set."
- Tanalth: "Is there anything wrong with that?"
- Namora: "Is this 'Set' being still alive?"
- Tanalth: "Seems like it. His worshipers were still crawling in his temple when I raided it. You think he will retaliate against us? From what I hear, he can't even enter this plane of existence without this crown."
- Namora: "So it seems..."
- Balder: "You! Whatever kind of wretch is dwelling within Namora! I wish to ask you a question!"
'Namora' turns to and confronts Balder.
- Tanalth: "Have a care, sibling.. That 'man' is an Asgardian."
- Namora: "(To Balder) You are?"
- Balder: "I am Balder Odinson, son of Odin, God of Light, protector of Asgard, and Avenger!"
- Namora: "If you are who you really claim yourself to be, tell me, how many realms are there within the Yggdrasil?"
- Balder: "Nine!"
'Namora' blurts out a laugh and hysterically cackles, though 'Tanalth', her sibling, simply smiles and lets out a smaller laugh.
- Namora: "Sibling, do you hear what he said?"
- Tanalth: "Loud and clear."
- Balder: "What is so funny about it, wench?!"
- Namora: "Oh, Balder. Let me ask you a question: what happened to the tenth realm?"
Namora's statement immediately throws off the Avengers to disarray, especially Balder, who just can't accept what she has just said.
- Balder: "Impossible! You are a liar! You know nothing of the Nine Realms!"
- Namora: "And you don't know anything of the Ten Realms. Take this fact to heart, Balder. It's not every day that you get taught by an adversary the secrets of the universe."
- Balder: "No... father, what have you hidden?!"
- Namora: "Don't worry. You'll join the rest of the Tenth Realm's dead if father wills it. Oh, have I informed you that I promised Namora to not kill anyone of Aesheim?"
- Captain America: "Good. Then we have nothing else to fear."
- Namora: "Captain, do you realize that only you, the Ghost Rider, and Victorious are of Aesheim?"
The realization hits Rogers and the others: the realization that Aesheim means Midgard and therefore, Earth. They intend to leave those native to Earth alive. Native. Three of his Avengers are aliens, as well as Ultimus, and therefore, not natives of Aesheim.
- Hiroim: "Our deaths will be avenged!"
- Namora: "Relax. I don't think we're going to kill you today, anyway. We'll see what father has to say. Now, can we start, sibling? I'm getting sick of not being in armor."
- Tanalth: "Gladly."
- Namora: "Oh, by the way, where'd you get your hammer from? I thought all of our hammers are lost, scattered throughout the universe. Well, at least mine is still here."
- Tanalth: "This is nothing but a substitute hammer. When father is freed, my hammer will be restored to its righteous form with this... thing as its base."
- Namora: "Good thinking. Now, let us waste no more time and free our father..."
Namora and Tanalth proceed to walk up to the gate, slamming both of their hammers to reveal the presence of numerous glowing runes inscribed upon the gate. With her Universal Weapon, Tanalth reassembles the Serpent Crown, easily merging the pieces via matter transmutation. Upon restoration, Tanalth takes an attosecond to create an energy field around the Serpent Crown, which unleashes a powerful influx of magical energy that could explode and kill every single one of them if not restrained.
Tanalth telekinetically puts the crown into the center of the gate, deactivates the energy field, and blasts it with a powerful energy beam alongside Namora, both doing so with their weapons. The Serpent Crown begins to emanate disruptive magics throughout the gate, sending waves of green energies that upset the protection runes. Slowly but surely, the runes begin to disappear. When they all disappear, the doorway violently opens, revealing its nature as a portal to another dimension.
- Victorious: "Jó isten, they're doing it!"
- Hiroim: "(Frowns) It has been an honor to fight with you, Avengers."
- Ghost Rider: "You don't think it's too early for us to die, Hiroim?"
- Hiroim: "We might not die, but the world shall pay a heavy price for our failure... and that is catastrophic."
- Balder: "We will get through this, Avengers. I guess that includes you too, Ultimus."
- Ultimus: "Hmph. This isn't over. By the way, have any of you tried using your powers?"
- Warlock: "Self can't shapeshift with these chains on self, so... yeah, we're doomed."
- Captain America: "No, Warlock. Our fight's just beginning. Hold on to hope, and we will pre-"
Captain America's encouragement is cut short when they notice a human hand coming out of the portal, bathing Tanalth and Namora with a stream of lights that wrap around their bodies. The two laugh joyfully as sounds of metal are heard accompanying whatever's happening to them. The figure from the portal ultimately exits whatever's prison been holding him for millennia, his entry to the material realm accompanied by a rather large explosion of light that briefly blinds the Avengers.
The explosion clearing out, the Avengers' sight begins to recover and regain their vision.
- Captain America: "(Coughs) What just happened?"
- Warlock: "A large magical explosion happened! That was also the strangest magical outburst self has ever known!"
Three figures are beginning to be visible through the dark, soily waters. A new figure has entered the scene, and he looks rather hunchbacked.
- Victorious: "Who on Earth is that..."
The unknown figure walks forth and reveals himself towards the Avengers with a commanding voice, shattering their sanity with his mere words.
- ???: "I... I am... the All-Father."
The issue ends as the Avengers' shocked expressions are shown while also displaying Tanalth and Namora transformed into more eldritch versions of themselves, respectively identified by the names of Skirn, Breaker of Men and Nerkkod, the Breaker of Oceans.
To be continued in The Avengers (Captain America) #3...
A sarcophagus opens up in a dark room lit by a few torches. From within, a man of muscular build exits, his steps assisted by another man who hastily assists him to sit on a stone table. The muscular man inhales and exhales, his muscles straining alongside his breaths.
- Small Man: "I apologize for this abrupt and unworthy transference, my lord, but I must inform you..."
- Muscular Man: "I know what has happened, my faithful servant, and never have I felt this much fury before!"
The muscular man slams his fist down the stone table, splitting it in half before standing up to examine his own body.
- Muscular Man: "Whose body is this that I inhabit?"
- Small Man: "You inhabit the body of Llyron, son of King Namor of Atlantis."
The muscular man steps into the light to reveal himself as Llyron, albeit with semi-reptilian eyes. He stares right into the eyes of the small man, who is also revealed to be Naga.
- Llyron: "His strength is phenomenal, but this mammalian form is disgusting!"
- Naga: "I apologize, my lord. I've no other choice but to have him be your host."
- Llyron: "This form will subside, but I am not without a plan. You believe me, yes?"
- Naga: "I believe you, my lord. You will smite that usurper god who has returned with your power..."
- Llyron: "(Clenches his fists and turns his eyes into full-on snake eyes)... and neither he nor anyone shall survive the wrath of Set!"
The barren world of Maveth
A group of alien warriors trek through the dusty deserts of the dead planet, Maveth, while a giant ship is orbiting the planet, awaiting for their return. From their appearances, viewers can instantly recognize who they are.
- Proxima Midnight: "I am beginning to think that this assignment is pointless."
- Ebony Maw: "Sire said that whoever's alive on this planet poses a serious threat to him. I do not wish to insult, but do you believe that? There aren't many beings in the universe that can threaten Thanos, let alone us, his lieutenants."
- Supergiant: "Whoever's alive on this planet poses a serious threat to Thanos. Heh. We are the only ones on this dustball. (Scoffs) He can't be referring to any of us."
- Corvus Glaive: "I swear, if it happens to be any one of those 'heroes' from Earth, I will flay them from atom to atom!"
- Black Dwarf: "(Growls) You think they're as formidable as Thanos mentioned them to be? They defeated him when he had the Infinity Gauntlet, but I disbelieve such a notion."
- Corvus Glaive: "He never told us why he relinquished the Infinity Gauntlet. But then, that doesn't matter! We are his warmasters, and we..."
- Supergiant: "(Cuts off Corvus) Black Order, head's up, something's entering the planet."
True enough, a shooting star-like object can be seen crashing into the planet far away from the Black Order. Despite the distance, the object generates a shockwave so powerful it actually reaches the Black Order and sweep them clean off their feet.
- Corvus Glaive: "Target located. Black Order... let the slaughter begin."
The Black Order quickly make their way to the fallen object, running four kilometers within seven seconds with their superhuman speeds. At the site, a giant crater as large as a stadium is seen and the Black Order's target can be seen deep within it.
- Ebony Maw: "It appears to be... a hammer."
- Proxima Midnight: "A hammer? Just a hammer? A weapon without a wielder?"
- Supergiant: "I am detecting brainwave signals from that weapon. It could be sentient."
- Corvus Glaive: "(Reaches out to his comms) Lord Thanos, we have encountered a presumably sentient hammer. This is the threat you wish us to dispatch?"
The Mad Titan himself, sitting on his throne in the bridge of Sanctuary II, responds to Corvus' question.
- Thanos: "You will see your target soon enough, Corvus."
- Corvus Glaive: "Acknowledged. We will not fa--Black Dwarf? What are you doing?"
The Black Order is confused at the sight of Black Dwarf going down the crater, heading slowly but surely straight for the hammer. The other four lieutenants of Thanos see each other and unanimously and silently agree on what is to be done.
- Corvus Glaive: "Lord Thanos... we've spotted the target."
- Thanos: "Kill him."
Without hesitation, the rest of the Black Order jump into action to stop the Black Dwarf for claiming the hammer. For the first time, they fight one of their own outside of training sessions, and their familiarity for each others' fighting styles show. Black Dwarf, the strongest of the Black Order outside of Thanos himself, quickly gets overwhelmed by his comrades' numerical advantage. He may know each and every one of his family's weakness, but so do they, and it doesn't take long for them to incapacitate the Black Dwarf.
Holding his blade to his brother's neck, Corvus Glaive goes for the killing blow after saying his last words to him.
- Corvus Glaive: "May Death welcome your soul, brother."
Black Dwarf, who has no intentions of dying this very day, rolls back and quickly grips the hammer. The moment he lifts the hammer, he shouts out a powerful scream that stuns and sends the rest of the Black Order flying out of the crater. His body begins to transform, turning his skin into something rock-like and protruding tentacles with fanged mouths in several parts of his body. Just as his transformation finishes, Black Dwarf smashes the crater he's on with such a force that the entire planet shakes to its core and volcanic eruptions begin to ensue.
The Black Order hastily recovers and retreats under Corvus' command to Sanctuary II.
- Corvus Glaive: "Maw, teleport us to Sanctuary II, NOW!"
- Ebony Maw: "Immediately!"
With his natural power, Ebony quickly takes them to the bridge of Sanctuary II, where they are faced with an intrigued Thanos. Corvus attempts to apologize to Thanos, but the Eternal gestures him to stay silent and watch Maveth's destruction with him. Maveth blows up four short seconds later, sending numerous planetary debris that impact the Sanctuary II, but repelled by its force field.
When all is done, Corvus begins talking to Thanos.
- Corvus Glaive: "L-Lord Thanos... I... we... we have failed..."
- Thanos: "On the contrary, you've provided me an opportunity to study whatever power the Black Dwarf possesses as of now. You are excused."
Black Dwarf, in his new magically-mutated form, can be seen by the Black Order and the ship's crew flying away from the planet's remnants to parts unknown. For a split second, Thanos and the Black Dwarf glance at each other.
- Ebony Maw: "Sire, what shall we do now?"
- Thanos: "We await."
- Supergiant: "Do we not pursue him, my lord?"
- Thanos: "(Stands up) Tell me, my Black Order, do you fear anything in this universe?"
Thanos' warmasters respond with the same answer: that which is expressed through shaking their heads.
- Thanos: "I... have a preliminary hypotheses for that hammer you found. You know what it means, yes?"
- Ebony Maw: "An assumption. An educated one, that is."
- Proxima Midnight: "Tell us of it, Lord Thanos."
- Thanos: "That hammer was magical. My senses know that to be true. How it works, I know not, but I assume it feeds on the fear of weak-willed ones. Do you smell fear within the Black Dwarf, my Black Order?"
- Supergiant: "There was... a sense of confusion and... unfamiliarity when I read his mind."
- Thanos: "Indeed, and you think I do not know of how terrified you were when he turned?"
The Black Order stay quiet as their fear of Thanos begins to seep in. Instead of punishing them, Thanos returns to his seat and plots a course to another star system silently.
- Thanos: "Return to your quarters, my warriors. Purge yourself of all your fear, for I need you for the coming battle."
- Corvus Glaive: "Yes, Lord Thanos... thank you for your mercy."
The Black Order obey the express command of their warlord and retreat to their quarters while far away, Black Dwarf, now identified as Angrir, the Breaker of Souls, is seen heading towards the Milky Way Galaxy with haste.
The Ravenstarr Maximum-Security Prison Galaxy is a one-of-its-kind type of prison. Second only to the now-ruined Kyln, this Shi'ar-operated prison is an artificial galaxy containing many of the universe's worst criminals and several unfavored figures within the Shi'ar Empire's politics. At one point, it imprisoned the Champion of the Universe, Tryco Slatterus, for reasons unknown. Rumor has it that the Champion accidentally destroyed the planet of D'Bari IV whilst fighting a formidable foe, sentencing him to a two-millennia sentence in the prison galaxy. Official Shi'ar records, on the other hand, mention that the world was destroyed by the Dark Phoenix.
Either way, an Elder of the Universe has been imprisoned there and didn't escape until the freak cosmic anomaly known as the Selfish Moon passed through the galaxy and wrecked the prison. After it was renovated, reconstructed, and expanded upon, however, no other being has ever escaped Ravenstarr.
Until just a few seconds ago, a fast-moving asteroid-like object crashed through three prison planets, killing seven million prisoners, before landing on Planet 16, which holds one dangerous inmate considered an Omega-level threat by both the Shi'ar and certain people on Earth. The object's incursion disconnected Planet 16's connection with the rest of the Ravenstarr Galaxy and killed nearly every single guard within the planet, as well as disabling every system on the artificial world. Deep within the world's core, the one prisoner the planet holds is freed of his bondage and once again feels the sensation of power. However, he would soon realize that a greater destiny awaits for him, for a voice calls out to him, offering him survival, freedom, and most importantly, more power.
He does not fear, and he does not hesitate. From the depths of the planet, he flies out and seeks the source of the voice that has been calling out to him. He finally finds his summoner and liberator: a hammer that landed on a giant refinery. Already insane himself, the man, apparently a human, picks up the hammer without any feeling of dread. Yet, when he lifts the hammer, his mind shatters into pieces and he cries out for help, asking someone to free him of his miserable life while on the other hand fearing for the loss of his life. An existential crisis brews within him, yet all is resolved when his cries are replaced with laughters and his skin turns grayer and his outfit turns into battle armor.
So flies into the void Gabriel Summers, the Vulcan, embracing his new role as Greithoth, the Breaker of Wills.
The Chitauri have always been at war. Whether they're fighting as mercenaries for the Mad Titan or subjugating other unworthy races, the Chitauri can never stop fighting, even against one another. There are many warlords throughout Chitauri Prime with differing agendas. Some wish to enslave the entire race to the will of Thanos, who has led them to their most glorious battles, but some wish for the race to live and prosper on their own, fighting their own battles without being enslaved.
Today, the Chitauri are united under the command of the Warbringer, fighting against the invading forces of the Troyjan Empre, led by none other than their glorious liege, Armageddon, who seeks to expand his dominion to the Chitauri's icy homeworld. The Mad Titan has hired them in droves in the past, but has never wished to dominate them as their liege. The Chitauri are honored to fight under the employment of either Thanos or other prestigious conquerors, but they shall never accept the idea of fighting for those who wish to control them.
As Leviathans clash with Troyjan gunships and Chitauri warriors die in hordes against the Troyjan cyborg warriors, the Warbringer goes head-to-head against the king of the adversaries on top of a heavily-contested snowy mountaintop.
- Warbringer: "You are making a huge mistake, Arm'Chedon. The Chitauri may fight for others, but we are not meant to be subjugated!"
- Armageddon: "No, Warbringer! This is no mistake that I have made, but an opportunity that I have taken! The Troyjan Empire will have the greatest fighting force in the universe under its dominion forever, and we will expand our hold throughout the universe!"
- Warbringer: "Is that so, whelp? You can barely even fight!"
Warbringer begins to overwhelm Armageddon in close quarters combat, eventually cutting away his arm cannon and leaving him at his mercy.
- Warbringer: "Your head will be paraded-"
- Armageddon: "(Cuts off his sentence) Reptyl, now!"
- Warbringer: "What?!"
In an instance, the tide of battle turns against the Chitauri when a ship bearing the name the Serpent's Tooth enters the atmosphere and bombards the Chitauri forces with its cosmic payload. The Serpent's Tooth make a bombing run upon both Warbringer and Armageddon, its captain meaning to shake off the former from the latter, but firing upon both of them anyway.
Annoyed and surprised, Armageddon takes cover as Warbringer does the same thing, and the two end up holing up in the same cave, which later collapses under the pressure of Reptyl's bombardment, sending Warbringer and Armageddon deep into the mountain while killing many Chitauri and Troyjans alike. Seeing this unwanted intrusion, the Chitauri and Troyjan forces turn their weapons towards Reptyl's ship, punishing Reptyl for his insolence.
- Armageddon: "(Wakes up and shakes a bunch of rocks from his head before reaching the comms) REPTYL, YOU IDIOT! DO YOU REALIZE WHAT YOU'VE DONE?!"
- Reptyl: "FARK YOU, YOU LITTLE (unintelligible expletive) SIMIAN! YOU PROMISED TO PAY ME DOUBLE UP-FRONT AND YOU GAVE ME NOTHING BUT FAKE CREDITS ON THE STARPORT!"
- Armageddon: "YOU UNGRATEFUL REPTILE! I HAD MY FORCES FREE THE BOTH OF US FROM THE PEAK AFTER THAT MISERABLE FAILURE OF YOURS ON EARTH!"
- Reptyl: "THAT WAS ALSO YOUR FAILURE, YOU INCOMPETENT HERALD OF GALACTUS! NOW, I'M GETTING FIRED BY EVERYONE ON THE FARKIN' BATTLEFIELD!"
- Armageddon: "THAT'S WHAT YOU GET FOR BEING A LOSER, YOU-"
Reptyl's comms cut off the moment a large explosion is suddenly heard by Armageddon. The explosion is so loud both Armageddon and Warbringer can hear it as if they're at the epicenter although they're deep within the mountain.
- Armageddon: "(Retains his composure) Reptyl? Reptyl, do you copy?"
- Armageddon: "Oh great! Now I have to deal with this entire mess myself."
- Warbringer: "Was that a superweapon of yours, Troyjan?"
- Armageddon: "I do not bring any of those when I came here, Warbringer!"
- Warbringer: "Finally! Now, I can finish you right here and right now without having to worry about..."
Warbringer's comms return to life and he hears the voice of one of his commanders speaking to him.
- Troyjan Commander: "Emperor Arm'Chedon, do you read me?"
- Armageddon: "I hear you, Commander Bru'Se! How fares the battlefield?"
- Commander Bru'Se: "Uh, that's the issue, my liege. (Inhales and exhales) The battle has ended... for now."
- Armageddon: "What do you mean, commander? We do not stop fighting until this planet is ours!"
- Commander Bru'Se: "There's... there's some sort of hammer here that crashed in the middle of both our battlelines and the Chitauri's. Everyone's curious to know what it is and... oh, my liege, the mercenary..."
- Armageddon: "What? What of the mercenary, Reptyl?"
- Commander Bru'Se: "(Background noises of awe and interest) The mercenary... he's.... he's trying to get a hold of the hammer! (Background noise of Reptyl lifting the hammer) He's... he's lifting it! He's..."
A brief moment of silence ensues until the sound of Reptyl roaring in primal pain is heard, accompanied by screams of panic by both Chitauri and Troyjan units.
- Armageddon: "Commander, what's happened with the hammer?! Why am I hearing the mercenary's screams?!"
- Commander Bru'Se: "My liege, he has failed lifting the object up and he is... uh... (confused tone) crying?"
- Armageddon: "(Roars) Grah! I'll get there myself. Unfortunately, my arm cannon's busted, so-eh, what?"
Armageddon realizes that Warbringer has departed from the cave without a word whatsoever. Grumbling, Armageddon uses his own strength of muscles to punch his way out of the mountain until he does so, finally free of the claustrophobic spaces of the caves. Once outside, he notices a large gathering of both Troyjan and Chitauri warriors trying to lift the hammer to no avail.
Armageddon decides to approach the crowd and see what's so damn special about this hammer that the battle stopped because of it.
- Armageddon: "MY TROY'JANS! Why have you stopped the fighting?! Why is this hammer more important than adding another planet and race to our glorious empire?!"
- Reptyl: "(Jumps up to a rock near Armageddon) Because you're an incompetent king who fights his own battles without caring anything about his fighters!"
- Armageddon: "SHUT UP YOU PATHETIC, BACK-STABBING, SCALY SCUM! YOU DESERVE NOTHING BUT DEATH, AND I WILL GIVE IT TO YOU NOW!"
Armageddon and Reptyl was about to fight until Warbringer lands down on them after a leap, stepping on both of them, much to their surprise.
- Armageddon: "(Groans) Augh..."
- Reptyl: "(Screeching) Aaaagh!"
Warbringer soon walks away from Armageddon and Reptyl, who immediately recover and observe the Chitauri warlord's silent advance to the hammer. Once in range, the Warbringer stands and stares at the weapon as quite as space itself, his fists clenching and unclenching, dropping his axe in the process. The silence ensues for three panels until Reptyl and Armageddon converse.
- Reptyl: "Is he going to get the hammer?"
- Armageddon: "How am I supposed to know? You're the one with telepathy! Oh, wait, your brains are too small for that."
- Warbringer: "(Suddenly) Stay... away... from my people... you.... AAAAAAAAAARH!"
Warbringer's sudden burst of rage and fear surprises everyone on the battlefield and he lifts up the hammer and transforms into a form bulkier than himself that wears, attaining metallic arms and a crimson-and-black mystic armor around his body. The end of the transformation triggers a powerful explosion that is visible from high orbit and kills practically every single combatant on the battlefield, also heavily wounding both Reptyl and Armageddon.
When the snow clears out, Armageddon and Reptyl are left drastically weakened but still conscious. As they recover clumsily, they see that the Warbringer has transformed into something else greater and that he himself is standing over the two 'conquerors'.
- Reptyl: "D'ast... that hurt. At least I can heal... (stands up to Warbringer while dusting off the snow) that still stinkin' hurt, ugh! (Looks at Warbringer) Well, uh, you got anything to say, Warbringer?"
- Warbringer: "I am not the Warbringer."
- Reptyl: "Okay, what do you call yourself, then?"
- Warbringer: "I am Kuurth, the Breaker of Stone... and you are not worth my time."
Warbringer, or perhaps, Kuurth, the Breaker of Stone, leaps up to space and flies away, leaving Chitauri Prime to travel through the void. Meanwhile, Reptyl surveys the damage that has been done (including his destroyed ship) and sees the wounded Armageddon.
- Armageddon: "(Sits up) Ach... the Breaker of Stone, he said?"
- Reptyl: "(Initially hesitates, but eventually supports Armageddon by the arm, helping him to get up) Eh, who cares? Now this planet's easy picking!"
- Armageddon: "(Walks away from the battlefield) You damn scoundrel..."
Thus far, no human has settled on the gas giant that is Jupiter. Although they certainly have the technology to get there thanks to the advancements made by their scientific heroes and villains. Nevertheless, no one lives on Jupiter. That doesn't make it an uninteresting place, however, for the biggest planet in the Solar System receives a 'visitation' from a celestial object that makes falls into the planet's Great Red Spot. However, instead of creating a massive shockwave throughout the planet to mark its arrival, it suspends itself in the middle of the powerful blowing winds, generating cosmic storms that attract the attention of a ghastly figure, who emerges from the winds themselves. Seeing a mighty hammer enclosed in a small yet unnatural whirlwind, the figure is curious and he approaches it closer and closer. Yet, every time he approaches it, his thoughts begin to wither. His memories begin to twist and turn as he fears of losing his merit as a being of justice. His mind starts to predict unfavorable things for his future, such as being rejected from his homeworld and losing everyone he knows and loves, as well as witnessing the death of his home dimension because of a mistake he does.
The figure disappears into the winds, seemingly merging with them himself. However, the figure reappears once again in a puff of smoke near the hammer, grabbing and lifting it as massive storms form around the entirety of the Great Red Spot. His suit begins to harden as ancient runes appear on his new armor. His bald head becomes encased with powerful iron-like armor and his cape turns from fabric to weaved metal. With the transformation meeting its end, the being flies away from Jupiter, heading to another celestial object within the same system... So has Aarkus, the Vision of Smokeworld, become Mokk, the Breaker of Faith.
Somewhere at the edge of the universe
Inside a great vessel the size of a planetoid, a large figure is seen operating a massive console, seemingly performing calculations of sorts. On the monitor, schematics of an advanced weapon resembling the Ultimate Nullifier but far larger can be seen, accompanied by depictions of a figure unquestionably identified as Galactus. In another part of this 'command center', a 'small' laboratory the size of thirteen human hospitals can be seen containing different vials (more like giant test tubes) of different energy types throughout the universe. One has the label of Power Cosmic, while others have labels with the names of the Star Brand, Uni-Power / Enigma Force, Darkforce, Chaos Power, the Nova Force, and the Destiny Force.
The laboratory can also be seen having sixteen stasis pods holding what can be inferred as beings. From some of the silhouettes, one can make out the shapes of a tall warrior wearing a horned helmet, a predominantly void-colored man, and a young girl, all 'sleeping' within the pods. Numerous cables can be seen hanging around these stasis pods, seemingly siphoning power from their inhabitants.
The large being, still on his console, presses a button that promptly activates a large fabricator of sorts in another part of the ship, which starts creating a device of sorts (undeniably the weapon that was on the screen earlier) that has a 1:1 blue print the size of a school bus. Once the fabricator starts working, the being walks over to his laboratory and examines some of the stasis pods and energy vials, observing them silently as he sees through numerous different data slates at the same time.
His solace would be interrupted when his defense system suddenly warns him of an incoming object that soon crashes through his ship and lands behind the being. Instead of being surprised, however, he simply smiles at this occurrence. He brings up a holographic computer from his palm and types in a number of codes that triggers the response of an AI.
- AI: "Order: Send digital self-copy to Earth within three hours of local time. Confirm?"
- ???: "Confirm. Accelerate production of the Ultimate Degenerator to two hours."
- AI: "Warning: Chance of successful fabrication reduced to 34%."
- ???: "Utilize all available universal powers from the laboratory to energize the weapon."
- AI: "Calculating chance of success... 100%. The device will be complete within one hour of Earth's time."
- ???: "Good. Copy that hammer's energy signature and store it with all the other universal powers."
- AI: "Warning: possible spiritual / digital entity detected within the hammer. Threat level: ± ∞. Proceed?"
- ???: "Proceed."
A number of humanoid robots are soon deployed around the hammer and attempts to stab into the hammer's head with their tentacle like protrusions. None of their tentacles' sharp tips are able to penetrate the head, but they get around the problem by simply latching on to it. The robots take a moment to analyze its energy and returns to its 'base' to 'copy' / 'generate' the energy. Energy cannot be created, which means that it can't be recreated. However, the laws of physics have already been broken by the master of this entire vessel, the same being who confidently walks to the hammer and lifts it up without transforming.
- ???: "You intrigue me, creature. I assume you serve another master, yes?"
- Hammer: "(Telepathically) Indeed, and his time to hold dominion over the universe is close."
- ???: "Tell me, what do I get from letting him be the master of this universe?"
- Hammer: "(Hesitates) What are you talking about?"
- ???: "(Laughs) I see you have no idea who you have come across, little spirit. You think you will grab a hold of me like some sort of puppet, but no. Like your master, I, too, was once a god. Not the type to hold court or dominion over galaxies, but one who holds the power of one."
- Hammer: "You recognize... my father?"
- ???: "Of course not. Why should I care? Now, what would you have me do, hmm? Go to Earth and destroy it for your 'master'?"
- Hammer: "I will destroy worlds, not you, you..."
- ???: "No, my friend. We will destroy worlds together. Now, how about we make ourselves a deal? Are you listening?"
- Hammer: "This... this isn't supposed to happen!"
- ???: "But it does, for your father knows nothing of the wider universe and of the terrors it holds that are far beyond meager scares or threats of war and destruction. I will compromise with you and - for the lack of a better word - 'work' for your master. You have no dominion over me, for I know nothing of fear. But, you will grant me the enhancement that I sensed you were about to give to me until you knew who I am. In return, you will have a vessel in me to spread fear. So, what do you say? We both have an edge in this deal, and you don't need to be afraid."
- Hammer: "(Brief silence) Very well then. You and I... we will do great things together. But first, I need to ask you: what do you hope to gain from having me inside of you?"
- ???: "You will find out once you are within me. Now, let us break some worlds, shall we?"
The being's transformation begins, but his is not quite a drastic one. His own visage is already imposing and his body is titanic. His body begins to be decorated with powerful runes, prominent among them being the one on his chest, creating a diamond-shaped pattern. His legs' armor paddings are expanded, and that is all that changes from him.
- ???: "Good. Now, your father wishes to meet us on Earth's moon, yes?"
- Hammer: "Correct. When we're there, please, allow me to speak with him myself."
- ???: "Agreed."
Without further ado, the being propels himself to the void with a smile on his face and the hammer guiding his way to the Moon. So has Tyrant, the ancient former Herald of Galactus, become Nul, the Breaker of Worlds....
... or has he?
To be continued in...
- In Earth-616, Llyron is Namor's paternal great-nephew, being the son of Llyra and Leon McKenzie, who is Namor's paternal half-brother. In this continuity, Earth-141412, Llyron is the illegitimate, biological son of Llyra and Namor himself.
- The Atlantis Attacks event happened in this universe, but happened rather differently, with the inclusion of Kro (and practically the entire Deviant race).
- The Twelve series also happened in this continuity, but the amount of casualties suffered by the titular Golden Age heroes are lesser than on Earth-616. Deceased members of the Twelve are Blue Bird (Roy Chambers) and Fiery Mask (Jack Castle).
- On Earth-616, the fate and true identity of Rockman / Daniel Rose are left ambiguous. In this universe, he sticks with his comrade, the Phantom Reporter, although his origins have yet to be explored in this issue.
- The Fiery Mask has no connections whatsoever to the Punisher despite his surname.
- Ko-Rel, the Kree Nova Corpswoman, is still alive in this universe. In Universe-616, she's dead due to the Phalanx's attack.
- Balder's receival of vibranium boots to protect his heels actually comes from the writer's research failure, thinking that the 'mistletoe' means the 'heels'. Yes, he is that uneducated.
- Llyron is not the only son of Namor. The other son of Namor is Kamar, who is subtly alluded in the comic by the mention of Llyron being a son of Namor.
- The city of Sestanivor was imported from the Ultimate Marvel Universe for this issue.
- Notable characters who died in this issue are:
- Sea Leopard
- Sea Urchin
- Shatterax (Roco-Bai)
- Of all the Tidebreakers introduced in this issue, only Llyron, Torg, and King Crab survived the onslaught.
- Unless one considers Llyron's possession by Set to be his death...
- Out of all the Black Order, only Ebony Maw refers Thanos to as sire.
- The Worthy line-up, as revealed in the epilogue, is as follows:
- Tanalth the Pursuer (Skirn, Breaker of Men)
- Namora (Nerkkod, Breaker of Oceans)
- Black Dwarf (Angrir, Breaker of Souls)
- Gabriel Summers / Vulcan (Greithoth, Breaker of Wills)
- Warbringer (Kuurth, Breaker of Stone)
- Aarkus / Golden Age Vision (Mokk, Breaker of Faith)
- Tyrant (Nul, Breaker of Worlds)
- Skadi has not yet been revealed for the moment. Safe to say, who she is is a secret.