'No!' the glamorous Eternal called Sersi gasps as she stands at the edge of a crater where once stood mighty Olympia. 'It is... gone! All of fabled Olympia! Snuffed out as a flickering candle flame! How can this be?' Sersi exclaims. 'Sersi... if there's anything we...' Steve Rogers a.k.a. Captain America begins as he, Namor the Sub-Mariner, Jennifer Walters a.k.a. She-Hulk, and the mighty Thor, who carries the lifeless Forgotten One, Gilgamesh, stand nearby. 'No, Captain America! There is nothing mere mortals can do now! It is for me to probe the ether with my telepathic powers. It is for me to find what trace of mt home may remain...' Sersi utters in response, before she goes into a trance-like state. Namor examines the surroundings and remarks that he has not seen anything like this in all his years – it is as if it was scooped out of the ground. Thor agrees, and admits that he hasn't seen anything such as this, either. Sersi suddenly moans, and falls backwards. 'Sersi!' Cap calls out as he rushes over and catches her in his arms. 'What did you sense?' Cap asks her.
Wide-eyed, Sersi exclaims that it is the emptiness – the enormity of it – that nothing could be so huge. Captain America carries Sersi over to some stable ground and tells her to take it easy, and that whatever it is, he is sure they will be able to handle it. Cap hands his shield to She-Hulk for her to hold, as Sersi utters 'But... so huge... so empty... the loneliness of endless space...'.
She-Hulk asks Namor what he thinks Sersi could have detected that upset her so much, to which Namor remarks that it is impossible to say, for with her powers, Sersi can see things no human can, as that is the nature of her Eternal heritage. Thor acknowledges that is true, but points out that fallen Gilgamesh is of that same immortal race, and he lies near death – a condition they cannot affect without the help of vanished Olympia. Thor places Gilgamesh on the ground, and tells the others that, although it pains him to say it, they may have journeyed here to Greece for nothing. Cap tells Thor not to think that way, and thanks She-Hulk for holding his shield. 'We came to find help for Gilgamesh...and help I mean to find!' Cap exclaims.
'But where? And who?' Namor asks, recalling Gilgamesh's defeat against Cha'sa'dra, he tells the other Avengers that if all they know about Eternals is true, not even the savage blow of the lava monster should have been enough to damage Gilgamesh – and yet it did. Namor points out that Gilgamesh's immortal body has proven unfit for the task of repairing itself, as they have been led to believe all Eternals do by molecular manipulation. Cap tells Namor that he knows, and that it is a puzzle – and one he means to have an answer to. She-Hulk suddenly alerts the others to Sersi who is waking. 'Oh... Ikaris... Thena... what has become of you?' Sersi utters, invoking the names of her fellow Eternals.
She-Hulk goes over to Sersi and asks her if she is okay, and if she can tell them what happened. Sersi replies that she isn't sure, that she has never sensed such strangeness before. Wide-eyed, Sersi reveals that all Eternals can sense the minds of all other Eternals, no matter what the range, and that she thought Olympia had been moved for some reason, that she might yet be able to contact her fellows if she scanned widely enough, so she reached out with her mind and found them. 'They are near... but they are no longer on Earth!' Sersi announces.
'Near... but not on Earth? You're not making sense, Sersi' Cap remarks. She-Hulk tells Cap to ease up, as Sersi has been through a lot here. Cap assures She-Hulk that he isn't insensitive to that fact, and states that he just wants a clearer picture of what this is they are dealing with in order to formulate a plan. Thor tells Cap that he thinks he comprehends that of what Sersi speaks. Thor hands Gilgamesh over to She-Hulk as he states that there are many ways in which a thing can be both near and far, adding that his own lost home of Asgard was but a simple journey once for him, yet one impossible to any who did not know the way. Thor asks the others to stand back, as he has a plan to open up this mystery. 'But forces must I now unleash that mortal eyes have only rarely witnessed!' Thor shouts as he begins to spin his mighty hammer around, creating a thunder storm. 'What...what is he doing?' Sersi utters, wide-eyed. Namor looks up at the lightning that crackles around them and explains that Thor is summoning the power bested om his hammer – powers placed there by the king of the old Norse Gods.
'Aye, Sub-Mariner, thou hast spoken aright! Let sacred Mjolnir whirl... let the powers that split the raging heavens now be focused here, intro a single place, a single purpose... and let any barrier betwixt us and Olympia... be sundered!' Thor booms as the power of his hammer tears through the storm, and opens a portal, full of wonder.
'Great Neptune's trident!' Namor utters. 'That's the Negative Zone!' She-Hulk gasps. 'Yes! There! There in the unending myriad of shifting realities! That is where Olympia now lies!' Sersi calls out as she looks through the portal. 'In the Negative Zone?' She-Hulk asks. ''But... how the heck did it get there? I thought the only access was through the portal in the Fantastic Four's headquarters' She-Hulk explains. Thor tells her that is just one way to reach this parallel dimension, but Mjolnir hath opened this small gateway by drawing on the residual energies of whatever force dispatched Olympia here. Thor adds that there are others who have only recently gone into the Zone. 'Others...' Sersi utters, before Namor tells the Avengers that the time for discussion seems long past, and that if this is the way to Olympia, and Olympia is the only hope for Gilgamesh, then they must go. 'Yes, Prince Namor. You are right' Sersi replies, 'We must go where Olympia has hone... into the Negative Zone!'
Meanwhile, elsewhere, in a large office building: '
Well, Professor Harker... I've never seen anything quite like your design in my fifteen years at Polydyne... but my staff informs me they can't find anything amiss in your calculations' a man in a blue suit remarks as he and another man look at Professor Harker's schematics on a blueprint. The old Professor Harker addresses the man in the blue suit as Dr Gillian, and reports that he has spent a lifetime working the bugs out of the system. 'It's absolutely amazing!' the other man remarks, adding that something like this is going to make cold fusion seem as antiquated as rubbing two sticks together. He points out that the kind of power that could be harnessed from a single such device would be enough to supply the needs of this whole world for centuries. Professor Harker addresses the other man as Mr Smythe and tells him that it would do much more than that, and that they are talking about the potential to re-shape the world, perhaps even the whole universe. Dr Gillian suggests they keep it within comprehensible levels, and shakes Professor Harker's hand, adding that if he is going to sell his board of directors on financing this project, he will have to present it to them in a manner they can understand. 'Oh, yes, of course. Businessmen. Small minds. I quite agree' Harker replies, suggesting Dr Gillian tell them what he needs to, that it doesn't matter, for the end result will be precisely the same. 'And when we're done... nothing on Earth will ever be the same again!'
Inside a large warehouse, Clint Barton a.k.a. Hawkeye and his estranged wife Bobbi Morse-Barton a.k.a. Mockingbird have met with the Great Lakes Avengers. Hawkeye tells the oddball team to listen up, and that they did okay against that bunch of losers down in Texas, but they could have done a lot better, so he and Mockingbird have rigged up a few training procedures for them. Hawkeye addresses the Great Lakes Avengers one-by-one, firstly Dinah Soar, informing her that he wants her to concentrate on her maneuverability, before telling Ashley Crawford a.k.a. Big Bertha that they will be testing the degree of her agility. Hawkeye tells Craig Hollis a.k.a. Mister Immortal that there is no way to test his resurrection power, so they will be concentrating on his athletic abilities. 'That goes for you, too, Doorman. I want you to avoid using your usual gimmicks...' Hawkeye tells DeMarr Davis, before telling Val Ventura a.k.a. Flatman to just do whatever comes naturally. 'Get ready, Avengers!' Hawkeye calls out, adding that he and Mockingbird are going to be part of the test. 'So... on your marks... get set... go!'
Dinah Soar flies over the training equipment, while Big Bertha leaps over some green hurdles, and Mister Immortal swings from beams and poles across the ground and hanging from the ceiling, as Doorman swings from a railing, and Flatman maneuvers his way through hoops, dodging large mallets that come out of the wall to hit him. 'Hey, hey, hey! So far this is a walk in the park!' Mister Immortal calls out. Hawkeye readies his bow and arrow and declares that this park has muggers in it, nasty ones with nasty weapons. Mockingbird tells Hawkeye to be careful, that this isn't meant to be a test to destruction. Hawkeye replies that he knows, which is why the nastiest weapon he is really going to use is his slippery grease arrow, which he fires at the floor in front of Big Bertha, spilling grease on the ground. 'Look alive, Ashley!' Hawkeye calls out, but Ashley doesn't see the spill, and she falls backwards to the beam which Mister Immortal is running along. 'Hey, watch it, lardo!' Mister Immortal exclaims, as Big Bertha knocks him into Doorman who is swinging nearby.
'Craig!' Doorman shouts. 'Hollis! What...what happened to him?' Hawkeye asks as he and Mockingbird rush over. 'I... I don't know!' Doorman replies, adding that nobody has ever tried to get through him when he wasn't standing against a door or a wall. Before anyone can react, Dinah Soar utters something that nobody can comprehend, as she flies down towards Doorman, and straight into his portal body. 'Dinah! Don't!' Doorman gasps. Flatman stretches himself over to the others, 'They're both gone! DeMarr... can you... feel them inside you?' He asks. 'No, I can't Dr Ventura. It's as if – WHOA!' DeMarr replies, as Dinah Soar suddenly flies back out through his body, carrying Mister Immortal with her. 'Dinah! She's all right!' Big Bertha exclaims. 'But Mr. I...?' Flatman asks. Dinah Soar wraps her wings around Mister Immortal, who utters that he is so cold. 'Too weird' Bobbi remarks. 'You said it, Bobbi' Hawkeye agrees, before turning to Doorman and suggesting that he brace himself for a whole battery of tests. 'We're gonna find out what the heck you're all about...and just what in blue blazes is inside you!'
At that moment, the Avengers Quinjet soars through the Negative Zone, as strange colors and objects float around them. 'Anything, Sersi?' Cap asks. Sersi tells him that they are on course. 'For all that means in this place' Namor remarks. Cap agrees that it is pretty strange, and tells the others that he had a weird impression that they passed themselves a ways back. He then asks She-Hulk what she reads. She-Hulk checks the sensors and reports that she is picking up precious little. She adds that trying to get a reading on anything is like trying to thread a needle at the bottom of a keg of molasses. But Sersi knows this is the way, and tells Captain America that she can sense her fellow Eternals ahead. Cap glances back at Sersi and remarks that there is enough hesitance in her voice to tell him that she is not as sure as she would like to be – but Cap announces that he is willing to proceed with this for another hour or so. 'Looks like you won't have to wait that long, Cap!' She-Hulk points out, as the Quinjet soars towards a high-tech city, floating on the chunk of earth that it was torn from the ground on. 'That she blows!' someone exclaims. 'Olympia!' Sersi gasps. 'It looks dead!' someone points out as the Quinjet moves down towards Olympia, cracks can be seen in the buildings.
'But... but what has become of her? The city looks...deserted!' Sersi remarks, to which She-Hulk tells her that it looks a lot worse than that, unless Eternals are just naturally sloppy housekeepers. The Quinjet lands. 'There's no sign of life anywhere. No one coming to greet – or even intercept us' someone points out. 'Is it as dead as it looks, Sersi?' She-Hulk asks. Gazing out a window, Sersi reports that she can still sense her fellow Eternals around them, but the impression is vague and hard to focus. The Avengers exit the Quinjet and Namor takes flight, offering to go search, as he can go places the Quinjet cannot. Cap tells Namor to be careful, for even without the Eternals gone, he wouldn't be surprised if this place can protect itself. Namor searches, but comes up with nothing. Even though he lacks Sersi's command of the mental disciplines. He can sense a presence all around them, a subtle stirring that touches his flesh as the movement of a gentle current in his watery home.
'Well, Namor?' Cap asks when Namor returns to the group. 'Deserted so far as I searched Namor reports, before confessing that this place fills him with uneasiness. Cap tells the others that he is glad he isn't the only one, and asks Sersi how the Eternals stand on the question of ghosts. Sersi explains that it is not a subject much discussed in their culture, as Eternals do not die. 'Yet that is precisely what is happening to Gilgamesh' Namor points out, looking over to the warrior who has been placed on the ground nearby. Sersi tells the others that she cannot help but think the strangeness here, the desolate condition of Olympia and the missing Eternals is interwoven with the Forgotten One's condition. Cap points out that Namor's search may have been fruitless, but suggests they will have greater success if they split up and search in teams. He tells Thor to go on his own, as he can handle anything, and instructs Sersi to lead She-Hulk, while he opts to go with Namor to make sure they don't cover the same territory.
The group splits up, and as Namor flies up the side of a building, Cap leaps and climbs his way up, as Namor asks his longtime ally if he really expects to find anything. Cap declares that he has not been in a place that felt so much like death since the end of World War Two. 'Yes, I knew this felt familiar. Like Berlin in the last days' Namor replies, adding that it is something more than death alone – an emptiness of spirit. 'The death of dreams...even a madman's dreams...it's a bitter taste and it's here' Cap reports, fearing that they have brought Sersi home to witness the end of her ancient race. Namor looks over to Cap and tells him that, sad as is the reason, he finds some pleasure in his company again. Namor states that the years the fought together against the Axis hordes were good times, and he finds he has missed that feeling of joyful camaraderie. 'Me too, Namor' Cap replies as he reaches the upper level of the building.
Captain America points out that he and Namor are both of a different age, that they are both still strangers in this strange time, half a century and more from the world they grew up in. Captain America confesses to have been thinking about that a lot lately, since the revelation that the Vision is not their old ally, the original Human Torch. Cap starts to tell Namor that he wonders whether they should try to find out whatever became of the torch. Namor likes this suggestion, and tells Cap that if the Torch could be found, he might be able to be reactivated. 'The Invaders might well live again!' Namor exclaims, when suddenly, both he and Captain America are knocked backwards by an energy blast as someone shouts 'If you do not die first!'
Nearby, 'Did you hear something? Like thunder?' Sersi asks as she floats through a hallway, while She-Hulk walks alongside her, and tells her that it couldn't be thunder, not in the Negative Zone. She adds that they can breathe here quite easily, which has never made sense to her. Sersi asks She-Hulk to be still now, as this is the high tower of Olympia, the seat of their government, the holy of their holies – and no human has ever walked this passageway. Sersi informs She-Hulk that ahead lies the great hall, the central meeting place of all Eternals, that she needs to tread softly now in this hallowed place, and should choose every word with care. They approach a large set of doors, and Sersi announces that beyond them lies the very heart of Olympia. 'Draw your breath in awe at what will now unfold -' Sersi begins, as she suddenly flies straight into the door, and is knocked to the floor. 'Am I impressed yet?' She-Hulk asks. 'That was... not supposed to happen...' Sersi replies, looking up at the doors.
'No, I thought not' She-Hulk replies, before asking Sersi to excuse her if she doesn't pay this place quite the respect she thinks it is due, but she wants to try a more direct approach to opening these doors. She-Hulk then uses her incredible strength to force the large doors open, slamming them backwards with a mighty THOOM! '...oh...' She-Hulk utters as they step into the great hall. 'No...NO!' Sersi exclaims, seeing the holy great hall in ruins. 'The hall is shattered! But no force on Earth could do such damage here! Not even the accursed Deviants could breach these walls!' Sersi declares. She takes flight, announcing that her awareness of her fellow Eternals is strongest here. She flies around the room and tells She-Hulk that they are everywhere, all around them. 'What, then? Are they invisible?' She-Hulk asks, looking around. 'Or are they hiding in the walls?' she wonders, deciding that doesn't seem too likely, looking at one of the demolished walls, She-Hulk realizes they are solid marble, or something very much like it. Standing by the hole, She-Hulk tells Sersi that it would take something with the power of a howitzer to blow a hole through here – and as if on cue, an energy blast slams into She-Hulk and Sersi, knocking them over – and in She-Hulk's case, out of the hole in the wall.
'Did she survive the blast? I didn't see...' She-Hulk utters as she falls from the top of the building, towards the solid ground below. 'Speaking of surviving...there's something funny in the gravity here...I'm falling too fast to compensate' She-Hulk realizes, as she slams into the ground – hard, shattering the ground, and rendering herself unconscious in the process.
'Another sound like my thunder...yet I sense no storm about' Thor remarks as he looks around. He then takes flight, noting that the noise came from the central tower over yonder. Thor supposes that it looks like a royal palace and wonders if it has some answers. 'Or rather, more questions' Thor realizes as he drops down into the great hall, the scene of carnage before him outstripping anything he has seen elsewhere in Olympia. All about him, the feeling of despair and death grows stronger, when suddenly, 'Od's blood!' Thor gasps as he sees Sersi, lying motionless nearby. 'The Lady Sersi! She hath fallen like her comrade, Gilgamesh' Thor exclaims as he rushes over to Sersi, a look of concern falls across his face when he sees that Sersi's form shimmers like a dream phasing in and out. He tries to grasp Sersi, but cannot, it is as if she is made of smoke and fantasy.
'The same fate as awaits you, Eternal!' a voice shouts as a blast of energy slams into Thor. Thor is knocked over, but gets to his feet, 'Who dares!? What craven varlet strikes the God of Thunder with such a coward's blow?' Thor demands. 'You survive?' the attacker responds, surprised. 'You must be made of sterner stuff than your fellows, Eternal' the strange looking being wearing blue armor, with energy crackling around his hands exclaims as he confronts Thor. He introduces himself as Blastaar and boasts that it make take extra effort for him to destroy Thor than it did all the others!