Brain Drain and Baron Blood are on board a boat in the South Pacific and faced with the Avengers. Sabretooth points out that they have a robot and a vampire to deal with. They’re not talking armor piercing ammo or silver bullets here. Namora agrees and reckons it’s up to the more enhanced Avengers to deal with them. She immediately attacks Baron Blood whilst Sabretooth goes for Brain Drain, punching him hard in the gut. Despite the early promise, this is all undone when they are thrown apart by a ball of mystical flame that engulfs them all. The two villains mysteriously vanish.
“So much for the enhanced Avengers,” sighs Dominic Fortune. Kraven, disgruntled, adds that if it had been them, no one would have burst into flames. Powell explains that it’s not that simple. Namora and Sabretooth had nothing to do with the disappearance of the two Nazis. He believes the scorched skull symbol on the ground where they disappeared tells him that they have not been executed, but rescued. Creed asks who could have done that. Powell informs them that General Hill invited him to this soiree because he possesses occult gifts.
Kraven asks him to get to the point and Namora asks where those gifts of his were when they were disappearing in columns of fire. Powell tells them that he is convinced that they face a menace far more threatening than a horde of leftover ubermenschen. Whoever pulled them from their clutches has plans other than prosecution for those war criminals.
Senator Sanford is hosting a get together between himself, General Hill and Geoffrey Sydenham. Hill is testy and Sanford asks Hill to relax. No one’s trying to tell him how to do his job. Hill replies that he could have fooled him. He’s just double-checked the figures and it sure as hell looks to him like his budget’s been cut by nearly half. Sanford tells him it’s all about the results business but Hill isn’t interested. “And,” Hill continues, “This Sydenswipe crony of yours…”
Sydenham steps in and corrects him, adding that it seems to him that if Hill could maintain his security, perhaps the senator would be inclined to be a little more generous. Hill asks if he’s talking about his compromised safe house. Sydenham replies that he knows he is. The safety, security, the very future of this nation depends on the effectiveness of its intelligence services. Hill tells him it was a hell of a speech, coming from a treasonous hypocrite like him. Sanford tries to calm it down a little, and Sydenham asks him not to worry. He’s been accused of that sort of thing before so often it just rolls off his back. The truth is, he is a patriot!
“Really?” asks a skeptical Hill. Sydenham explains that their war was with the Japanese. He did everything he could to convince Chancellor Hitler not to declare war alongside Hirohito but he never listened. In a perfect world, their two nations should have been allies from the first. Hill can’t believe what the guy’s saying but Sydenham asks Hill to imagine if their two great nations had put aside their petty disagreements. Together they could have rid the world of the scourge of Bolshevism and rescued humanity from the sword of doom which threatens their existence. Hill replies that he’s there to tell him… “You are genuinely certifiable.”
(the South Pacific)
It’s getting dark and Kraven and Fortune take forty winks whilst Namora and Sabretooth take first watch. So, says Creed, with the good mannered Avengers out of the picture, it’s about time Powell MacTeague came clean with what’s going on here. Namora apologizes for her colleague’s crudity, but she does find herself in agreement with him. Powell admits there’s precious little to tell. They’ve all encountered the skull symbol recently. Namora asks him to get on with it. Either he starts explaining what’s really going on or she’ll personally rip his face off. “And she’ll do it nice and slow,” adds Creed. “’cause the princess here is that kinda dame.”
Powell tells them that he’s only just started piecing things together himself, but he’s come to believe that there are others working laterally alongside the Avengers. These are dark elements whose agenda may appear to parallel their own, but whose ends have very little in common with those of the Avengers. It seems likely that the skull symbol is not some Third Reich nonsense, but rather the blazon for this unknown foe.
(Hassenstadt, the capital of Latveria)
The stars are out and both Fury and the Blonde Phantom are at an airfield on the edge of the capital. As they approach the planes, Louise whispers to Fury that she took some madcap chances with her life before she met him but he’s dragged her into Crazytown now. Fury replies that she’s flattering him. She should remember that he’s read her resume. He asks if she’s ready. Louise then emerges into the open wearing her slinky red dress but, strangely, still sporting her face mask.
Two guards look at her and one crudely suggests that he’ll hold her down. The other replies that he took firsts with the last one. Louise asks if either of the brutes know where she can find a manicurist. She seems to have a broken nail. A moment later, Fury batters one of them from behind with the barrel of his pistol and the Blonde Phantom punches the second in the throat. Both are incapacitated. “One more time,” jokes Louise. “Why can’t we just fly commercial?” Fury says he’s trying to maintain a low profile so the less anybody knows about what’s what, who’s where and why, the better. She asks if stealing a fighter jet is keeping a low profile. Fury reckons he does, in Latveria. These people are so shut down, he explains, that they’ll never admit this, let alone acknowledge it even happened. She can trust him on this.
Geoffrey Sydenham is with Senator Sanford in an apartment. Sydenham reiterates that Sanford and his colleagues in the Congress and Senate must be made to understand that they are at war. They are at war with an enemy so insidious that it threatens the very existence of the human spirit. Sanford replies that the same could be said of the Germans, but Sydenham says he believes the Germans were and are a cultured people. The Russians, on the other hand, are subhuman… mongrel barbarians scraped from the gutter and taught to walk on two legs by their Bolsheviki masters. It is a war then, he continues, with a subhuman foe, a war where they must make friends of enemies in the name of the common good. It is a war they must win if they are to survive the race.
Sydenham’s finger glows red and a flame emerges from the tip. He touches the pentagram on the floor and it lights it up. Images begin to appear in the smoke and Sanford asks what the hell is going on. Sydenham replies that it’s funny he should mention hell. While he languished in prison on a trumped up charge of espionage and sedition, he was visited by a mysterious stranger. He explained that the path to victory lay not in the annihilation of one’s enemy, but in recruiting that enemy in your greater struggles. He also taught him how to harness the dark gifts. Before them, Baron Blood and Brain Drain appear from nowhere, shackled in mystical chains on the floor.
Blood asks where he is and Brain Drain asks who they are. “In good time,” replies Sydenham. They both have work to do to earn the freedom he’s granted them. Sanford asks him who this stranger was. Sydenham tells him it’s no one he’s ever heard of… a fellow who called himself Dormammu.
Back in the South Pacific, Powell MacTeague, Kraven and Dominic Fortune take a walk. Fortune tells MacTeague that Victor and Namora told him that they’re dealing with someone or something worse than a bunch of pissed off, angry and ready-to-kill Nazis. MacTeague tell him they’re right. He believes that they share far too much of their adversaries’ ideology for his comfort. Kraven asks if that really means they’re competing with Nazis to bring down Nazis. Fortune agrees that it doesn’t really make sense. MacTeague asks them to indulge him. He explains that he is convinced that whoever snatched the Baron and Brain Drain from their grasp saw them not as a blight on humanity, but as useful allies, or weapons.
Nick Fury meets with Minister K’Tela, who asks if he expects to be welcomed with open arms after he stole an airplane from one of the very few nations with which Wakanda has an open relationship. Fury grins and replies that he expects better than a tongue lashing from a one-eyed, bald-headed, loud-mouthed witch, adding “If that’s what passes for diplomacy in Wakanda…” K’Tela cuts him off and tells him that she’s no diplomat, but she does have an ear to the back channels of diplomacy.
Fury tells her he’s listening. K’Tela informs him that his intelligence is correct. Skul passed through Wakanda leaving a veiled threat to their still absent Prince-Emperor. Fury asks how serious a threat it was. “Serious enough to let him travel unmolested,” she replies. “And, serious enough to use their satellite surveillance system to keep an eye on him during his journey.” Fury says he’d love to know just what a satellite surveillance system is, and K’Tela tells him maybe someday he’ll find out. Meanwhile, she hands him a package which contains everything he needs to be able to track Skul and his fellows. Fury thanks her, and assures her that they’ll do everything they can to get her young emperor home safe.
The Blonde Phantom then introduces Nick Fury to the young Howard Stark. Fury shakes his hand and tells him he’s heard good things about him. Stark replies that he’s heard interesting things about Fury. He explains that Miss Mason has told him that he is on the trail of the runaway Nazi. His contacts in K’Tela’s office tell him he has left Wakanda and he’s guessing his whereabouts are in the pouch she gave Fury. Fury asks him if he’s going somewhere with this. Stark informs him that he is presently on a below-the-radar fact finding mission for the White House. But, that doesn’t mean he can’t find the time and means to give a veteran a helping hand when it comes to getting his tough job done.
Fury and the Blonde Phantom are on board a luxurious speed boat and Fury tells her he reckons Stark had serious eyes for her. Louise laughs it off, saying she’s old enough to be his… older sister. Fury asks if she really believes his ‘helping out a veteran’ line. Lending them the floating erector set they’re in was all a ploy to impress her. Louise says it worked a charm. Can he think of a better way to sneak into Madripoor? It was he, after all, who stole a fighter plane to sneak in to Wakanda. Is he sure Skul is in Madripoor? Fury tells her that K’Tela’s intel says that’s where he ran. Louise then stops him as he speaks and informs him that they have company.
A larger boat approaches and Louise wonders if they’re pirates. Fury asks her to put that in the ‘maybe’ column for now. He knew things were going way too smoothly. Gunshots ring out and Fury asks Louise if her new boyfriend gave her the keys to some secret gun cabinet. He then asks if she trusts Stark. Louise replies that if he means does she think he’d sacrifice a million dollar hydrofoil to get them attacked by pirates in the Indian Ocean, then no, and if he does then he’s an idiot. Fury grins and replies that he gets that a lot.
They use their own pistols to respond to the gunfire. Fury wonders who could have sold them out if it wasn’t K’Tela or Howard Stark, because he has a feeling these ain’t damn pirates! Their assailants turn out to be four female Nazi’s dressed in black and each sporting a glowing skull badge around their neck. They are Axis Annie, Fraulein Fatale, Madame Mauser and Penny Panzer.
They are veterans of Hitler’s elite einsatzgruppen who have spent the last fourteen years working on their tans, their abs and their attitudes in Sao Paolo. They were ready to respond to the summons to reignite their unholy war. Now fully tanned, rested, ready and fully equipped with Brazilians, the ubermadschen are back in the name of international havoc. Each carrying a sword, they leap at Fury and the Blonde Phantom who reckons they’re screwed - outnumbered and outgunned. Fury shoots, but reckons that even though they’re outgunned, she can call him a cockeyed optimist but something tells him they’re not going to be outnumbered for long.
Arriving on the scene, the rest of the Avengers - Sabretooth, Fortune, Namora and Kraven, leap onto the boat to take on the assailants. It doesn’t take long for them to overpower the four women and have Powell MacTeague use his own mystical chains to tie them up. Powell shakes Fury’s hand and tells him it’s lovely to see him again. Fury guesses it was he who got the Avengers to him in the nick of time. But, to quote one of his favorite Cubans, “You’ve got some ‘splainin’ to do.”