Doom has become the new self-proclaimed President of the United States. Sitting in his high floating tower, Doom makes his first changes to the country. He changes America’s land name into “Libera Cielo,” which in Latverian means “Clear Sky”. Also, Doom introduces the Latverian language to America and makes every American learn how to speak it. At this moment, Doom points his attention to a more urgent matter: the super-heroes. Doom wants to find solutions to get rid off any possible resistance. Doom remembers the time when he walked the Earth during the first heroic age, and remembers how much grief those many heroes gave him. With that in mind, Doom doesn’t want to see that happening again.
Doom gathers his Black Cabinet for solace and support. Indigo speaks and is certain that they can deal with the corporate and financial pyramids of Lotusland, but fears the Hulk. Sharp Blue calls that nothing, and is more concerned about the “X-Men mutants” in the South-West and Ghost Rider in Transverse City. Wire is concerned about Alchemax, and Fortune worries about Northeast’s true random factor: Spider-Man. She and Wire joke about him and sing: “Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does whatever a spider can…” Morphine Somers isn’t interested in any of the super-heroes and asks his colleagues to stop talking about them.
To himself, Doom wonders if his Cabinet combined forces will be good enough. Fortune cuts in, taking out a yellow-and-red card, referring to the heroes, and says that all those random cards can’t be handled slightly. If they ignore them, it will be at their own peril. She says that the system of divination has been treasured in Latveria for a thousand years. Morphine isn’t impressed and wants to see some of its age. Morphine uses his mutant powers of superannuation and shows to everyone that the system doesn’t look a day over seven hundred. He turns the card into dust, like he believes it should have been done since the dawn of the Computer Age.
On the subject, Morphine says that Washington has outlived its usefulness as well and destroys the White House. He says that the American government merely mediates border skirmishes between overfed corporations. He doesn’t see why Doom even bothers with them. Morphine doesn’t get it, especially not when the American southwest is full of mutant activity. Morphine says that’s his area of concern as Doom’s Minister of Humanity. Morphine is angry and doesn’t see why they bother to even listening at what Fortune says.
Wire steps in and stops the arguing. Wire claims that he communes with Doom’s world board.
Wire agrees that they should pay attention to the random factors. Doom stops the entire meeting, saying that he is board and walks out. Fortune runs him after and stops him. She asks Doom what he is keeping secret from the rest of them. Fortune tries to tell Doom that they can’t help run his campaign properly if he keeps his plans and thoughts for himself. Fortune tells Doom that he has become paranoiac. Doom turns his face to Fortune, and tells her that even paranoiacs have enemies. Doom asks Fortune if she has already forgotten her betrayal towards him? The one he paid her back by having Nkumah put a blade at her throat?
Doom says that he still knows how Fortune sold him down the Ciri River to an entity known as the Neon Angel, who became his worst enemy. Doom knows that Fortune did all that to ensure the safety of her brother, Kaz. He tells Fortune that she should have come to him first. Fortune stops Doom, saying that she wanted to tell him, but they are all afraid to tell Doom bad news because he is always so angry. Doom stops Fortune, and says that he knows that she is distraught over Kaz, and the death of Fortune’s beloved Poet, but… Wire steps into the room and jokes that he is Poet, but doesn’t know it. Doom walks away, and asks them both how he can run America, if he has to leave Latveria to the likes of his Cabinet?
South-western America, an empty desert…
A motorist steps off his bike and is glad to be home again, despite the awful heat the sun brings. The motorist is glad to be back at the place where he can relax, and shelter his acquisitions: the things he has gathered that need protection from an uncaring world. The man takes out a device. From the device, a laser comes out, and shows the hidden entrance to the man’s home. The man is glad to have the remote that guarantees him the concealment of his world within! The man goes into his house, descending the many stairs.
He turns on some lights, and enters his huge library. The man takes of his motor helmet, and remembers that it took forever to build this place. That it took him forever to gather all the artifacts that are inside the room, and keep them here. The man takes a look around his precious chamber and sees his many suits. He recalls, and knows that the suits are from warriors, warriors who battled in fought and unfought wars. The man then takes a look at a gigantic plastic world globe, and finds that design to be much better than the world of today. The man goes over to his books, which contain the works of art that can’t be displayed on the walls for fear of blocking the refrigerant, a vital chill that keeps his books from aging.
The man called Lohengrin fears that his artifacts would be ruined. If that should happen, so would be gone the meaning of his existence. Because Lohengrin is a man with all the time in the world! Lohengrin goes to sit in a chair, and commands his computer on word application. He orders it a new title for his next book: “The Fall of the House of Usherette.” Lohengrin thinks about what to put in the book, when suddenly two evil-looking persons appear behind him. They tell Lohengrin that he has an artifact that the Theatre of Pain wants.
Lohengrin asks what artifact they are talking about and how he got in. The evil man says that there isn’t a place he can’t get into. He then tells his servant, Polymre, to sample around, in the way Lohengrin likes it. Polymre grabs one of the many books and starts to bite on it. Lohengrin tries to stop her, but she doesn’t listen.
The evil man introduces himself as Septymbre and tells Lohengrin that he knows what artifact he is talking about. He threatens Lohengrin to give it, or else all of his books will get destroyed. Lohengrin doesn’t have much of a choice and gets a brown and red-striped jar, with a yellow face trapped inside it. Septymbre is glad to have the yellow alien fossil back in his might. Septymbre tells Lohengrin that he no longer has a free will, and embarks his controlling symbol on Lohengrins head.
A man flirts with Quirk and tries to get her to work for him. Quirk isn’t interested, but the man doesn’t stop trying. An angry Hulk appears behind them and yells to the man that if he is using Lotusland resources to start his own business, he better goes freelance – now. The Hulk gets even angrier and punches the man out of sight. Quirk gets upset at the Hulk for always protecting her, since she claims to be perfectly able of protecting herself. The Hulk gets angry at Quirk and tries to get it in her head that he is her guardian. But, if she doesn’t want him, that’s fine by the Hulk. He’s done being a cop. The Hulk goes and sadly thinks to himself that he should have left the Knight of Banner in the same way. And Gawain too.
The Hulk now believes that if he shouldn’t have been so greedy back when he was human, all those people would have been alive today. That those people would still be practicing their rituals and spreading their legends about the heroic age. One of those tales comes back to the Hulks mind. The tale about some alien jar they had recovered a jar that had the power to restore the lives of those who had fallen in past battles. The Hulk recalls how he would have made fun of a story like that in his human form of John Eisenhart, but as the Hulk, he can’t afford to be a wise guy. The Hulk jumps and bounces away, planning to get the jar and restore Gawain’s life.
Doom finds the Ghost in the Machine, and is impressed by them. The Ghosts tell Doom to stop pretending, as they know he isn’t. Doom confirms that he is. How can he not be of an admixture of science and magic? Doom tells the Ghosts that he is more sympatric to them than they realize, and also towards the vassal they call the Ghost Rider. Doom would like to have the Ghost Rider as an agent. Doom says that he needs him to leave Transverse City, to recover an artifact for him in the American southwest. Doom tells the Ghosts that he would get it himself, but he doesn’t want to announce his presence in America so soon, because the historical presence of Victor Von Doom may have special resonance to some.
Meanwhile, Spider-Man swings around his city and an explosion gets his attention. Spider-Man goes to it and rescues a car, using his webs. Spider-Man tries to bring it up again, but his web snaps and the car falls down again. Below, some Thor fans are claiming that the now dead Thunder God will soon return. Their ritual is stopped by the car that crashes down near them, killing the guy speaking. The people run away and Spider-Man swings below to check things out. He sees a guy crawling out of the car and recognizes the Punisher, as they have met before and didn’t end up so well. The Punisher tells Spider-Man not to call him that in another person’s earshot. The Punisher asks Spider-Man to call him by his real name: Jake Gallows.
The Punisher tells Spider-Man that he tried to explain their previous meeting, but he says that Spider-Man immediately gave him a hostile reaction, leaving him no other choice. The Punisher asks Spider-Man if he too hates those phony god-speakers as well as he does. The Punisher explains that he believes that Alchemax is trying to revive them. The Punisher reveals that he knows that an Alchemax recon team “recovered” a strange artifact from a Knights of Banner cache. The Punisher has heard stories that the artifact is able to restore life. He continues and says that Ayatarr wanted it to bring back the Norse Gods, but the artifact was stole right under his nose. But there was a strange thing about how it was taken, the Punisher says: it was grabbed by a mystical hand that came through something that was called a virtual unreality gate.
The Punisher says that Tyler Stone told him that the only two people who could do a thing like that are Doom and Ayatarr himself. And the Punisher doesn’t believe that the head of Alchemax would steal from himself. The Punisher says that they figured that Doom took the artifact somewhere southwest, and says that he can arrange transport to get them both there; if Spider-Man is interested. Spider-Man asks why he should be. The Punisher says that Alechemax, Tyler Stone, as does Ayatarr, offer a directorship in their company for the one who gets it back. Wouldn’t it be nice to find out first hand?
Bloodhawk soars through the desert sky, and gets angry when he sees lots of carcasses from killed animals. Bloodhawk knows that they have been poisoned and promises to make the one responsible for it pay. Bloodhawk flaps with his wings, thereby covering the animals with sand so that they have at least have some sort of funeral. As the sand goes, it shows a hidden vault. Bloodhawk gets interested and wants to know who would tore up a landscape for this. Bloodhawk wants to open it, but his attention gets drawn elsewhere. Suddenly, he notices giant footprints in the desert. Bloodhawk figures that there must be some kind of giant creature nearby, and wants to know what it is. Bloodhawk believes that danger must be even bigger than this one, so he goes to check it out.
As he goes, Bloodhawk doesn’t notice Meanstreak shouting at him below, trying to get Bloodhawk’s attention. Meanstreak realizes that Bloodhawk is too high to hear his voice, and though he runs fast, Meanstreak can’t fly. And the sand doesn’t allow him to run any faster. The “deer” behind Meanstreak tells him to stop complain and let his friend go, as they have bigger plans. Meanstreak agrees, as they have to get the Synge’s out of Las Vegas: they deserve it. Halloween Jack transforms back to his normal evil self, and says that he has a little side trip planned. Jack informs Meanstreak that he has brought the ashes of Heimdall, who is one of his fallen comrades from the experiment that recreated him into Loki, in the funerary box that hangs around Jack’s neck. Jack says that he hopes to learn more about Heimdall’s constitution, and his, once they have retrieved a certain artifact he has heard about.
Jack says that he knows that the artifact is now in the hands of Doom. They move to the vault Bloodhawk found earlier, and descend the many stairs in it. Meanstreak asks his friend, Jordan, if he’s sure that it’s here. Jack becomes angry and says that he is, but tells Meanstreak to never call him Jordan again, or Loki: his name is Halloween Jack!
Below, the man knows as the Ghost Rider holds Lohengrin by his throat, because Lohengrin has given the jar away to the Theatre of Pain. Lohengrin tries to explain that he didn’t have choice, but Ghost Rider doesn’t even listen. Lohengrin begs Ghost Rider not to kill him, but Ghost Rider has something better planned for him. The Ghost Rider knows how to really hurt Lohengrin and destroys all of his books. Lohengrin can’t bear to watch and tries to escape through a secret door.
Meanstreak and Jack enter, and Meanstreak notices that Lohengrin is trying to escape. He quickly runs to the man and stops him. Jack notices the mark on Lohengrin and knows it, and informs Meanstreak that the Theatre of Pain has the jar now. Ghost Rider overhears them and decides to continue his destructions, but also to listen what they say. Meanstreak can’t believe his ears and asks Jack if he knows that his former leader, Xi’an, has now joined the Theatre. Jack knows, but isn’t interested in that; he wants to know where the Theatre of Pain’s base is. The Ghost Rider offers his help and says that he can help them. Halloween Jack doesn’t trust him, but knows that he doesn’t have much of a choice. So the three become partners – for the time – and begin their search for the Theatre of Pain, a place where the X-Men have once been held captive.
Meanwhile, the Hulk still mocks about the fact that Quirk, the woman in his life, kicked him out. As he lands in the desert, he finds a blue-haired woman named Polymre. Polymre fakes that she is sad, miserable and hungry and begs the Hulk for help. Having reach the Hulk’s weak point, he decides to do it, despite the fact that the last woman who he tried to help almost bite his head off. The Hulk takes Polymre on his back, and she says that she can’t thank him enough. The Hulk wants to go but, as he prepares, Polymre turns in her vampire form and bites the Hulk in his neck!
Some time later, the Hulk wakes up, bonded in Septymbre’s base. Polymre laughs at the green goliath, while Septymbre speculates that the Hulk must be the result of a lot of pain and suffering. Septymbre activates his machines, and informs the Hulk that the Theatre of Pain enjoys so much pain. He asks the Hulk what the root of his misery is, and observes the memories on his viewing screens. The Hulk remembers Gawain’s trust towards him, and how he misused that trust that led into Gawain’s death, and that of the members of the Knights of Banner. The Hulk gets angry and tells Septymbre that he hates the fact that he did this, only to give his alter ego a better chance in life. And if he got the chance, the Hulk continues, he would take back everything that happened there and to do things whole differently.
Septymbre now knows why the Hulk wanted the alien jar, but tells him that he won’t use it to restore Gawain’s life. No, Septymbre plans to use the jar to restore Polymre’s dead sister’s life. Polymre’s sister, Wintre, was killed in a battle against mutants, who are freaks in Septymbre’s eyes that even he nor the Theatre like to approach. Septymbre begins to explain how Wintre was killed, but is disturbed by the arrival of Ghost Rider, Meanstreak and Halloween Jack. Jack notices the captured Hulk and gets interested in him, but holds that plan and tries to take the jar from Septymbre. Jack tells Septymbre that he needs it more than he does. Jack explains that he plans to use the jar to restore the rest of the Aesir and to protect himself from people who try to take Las Vegas away from him.
The Ghost Rider watches how Jack takes the jar away, and enjoys to see his team winning. Polymre doesn’t like his laughing and attacks him. Polymre kicks him and activates a nearby button that allows her to view the Ghost Rider’s most unpleasant memories on video screens. The Ghost Rider screams from the pain, and remembers the same pain when the Artificial Kidz tried to kill him by shooting him full of Mycotoxin. The Ghost Rider remembers how he had no chance to survive that, so had to allow the Ghostworks download him into a new body. Polymre now knows how the Ghost Rider was created, and realizes that he must want the jar to restore his human body.
Meanwhile, Meanstreak runs wild through the base and wishes that he had had the chance to destroy the place while he and the other X-Men were prisoners there. Meanstreak smashes his way through but, suddenly, the base goes over into self-defense. Long tentacles come from the walls that try to grab him. Some tentacles manage to grab Meanstreak’s arm, and it feels to him like the tentacles are trying to take over his mind! He feels like the tentacles are bringing his worst nightmares back to him, like the day in which Junkpile killed Serpentina. Meanstreak still hates that day; because it ruined every chance Serpentina had to become an X-Man. Polymre overhears Meanstreak and now knows why he wants the jar.
Septymbre, while fighting a transformed-into-dragon Halloween Jack, confides in Polymre that the mutants still don’t have the jar. Septymbre tells Jack to stop fighting, because once Septymbre gets what he wants from the jar, he says, Jack and his friends will all be part of his team! Jack refuses and kicks the jar out of Septymbre’s arms. Jack shapeshifts into a goat and rapidly runs to the jar, but Polymre gets it first. Halloween Jack quickly runs to the woman and takes it away from her and tries to escape. Unfortunately for Jack, Spider-Man and the Punisher arrive. Spider-Man recognizes the box that hangs around Jack’s neck and, via his webs, destroys it, and thereby also Jack’s plan to revive his former colleagues.
Jack also accidentally drops the jar again, which falls directly into Septymbre’s hands. He and Polymre take a look at their new prisoners: Meanstreak, Ghost Rider and the Hulk, but realize that they have more urgent matters to conclude. Septymbre makes his wish and Wintre begins to be brought back to life. But suddenly, the process gets disrupted and the jar shot into pieces! The Punisher has done it, and he doesn’t stop there: he also frees the imprisoned heroes. An impatient Hulk wants to make Septymbre pay and attacks him in full rage. Meanstreak also wants to hurt Septymbre, but Halloween Jack calms him down and says that they better take the chance and escape, while the others do the fighting and the rest of the hard work.
Polymre attacks Spider-Man, but he is too fast and swings her towards the same tentacles that grabbed Meanstreak. Polymre gets caught inside and screams out from the pain. The Hulk defeats Septymbre, but doesn’t want to become a killer, so he lets the villain live. He and Spider-Man try to figure out what to do with him. The Punisher has found a solution and shoots Septymbre!
Some time later, the Ghost Rider returns to the Ghostworks. He taunts his masters that he has returned the jar, but broken into pieces! He mocks the ghosts that he did what he was asked to do and gives them the jar; they never told him what condition it had to be in. And so it will always be, the Ghost Rider tells them: he will always do what’s been asked from him, but not always in the way his masters hope… or expect. The Ghost Rider becomes angry and tells the Ghost in the Machine that he wanted the jar to restore his body. But now, he wants to know what they wanted it for. He knows that the Ghost wanted it for someone else, but doesn’t know for whom. He asks the name of the individual, but doesn’t get an answer.
Meanwhile, Doom has returned to his floating castle. He opens Lohengrin’s file on his computer and concludes that he is quite the clever man, since he was able to steal something out from under Avatarr’s nose and placed the blame on Doom himself. But Doom knows that Avatarr will have more important things to worry about in the upcoming week, because everything the man owns will become his! Doom knows that by the time his Black Cabinet carries out his well-engineered plans, the shadow of Libera Cielo will fall upon the American shoreline, and Avatarr’s empire will mean nothing.
Doom wished that he had gotten the jar, if only for Fortune, but it doesn’t really matter to him, because soon he will have something else for the woman. Doom says that she will rule his homeland in his upcoming absence. He knows that Fortune loves Latveria, and will shepherd it well, despite her perfidy. Whether Doom likes it or not, Fortune’s council means much to him. Although he fears that the day may come wherein her council will no longer be his, Doom cannot imagine himself without it. Oddly, Fortune’s concerns have now become his.
He finds it odd that he wanted to obtain the jar, only to bring Poet back for her. Doom knows that Poet was a good and resourceful soldier, one who will be missed during his American campaign. Doom knows that Fortune feels that Poet was taken away from her unfairly, but feels that she must realize that everything is fair in love… and in war! Doom concludes that if one thing becomes apparent in the months ahead, it is this: he, better than any man, knows war!