Behind and below the blue-green disk of the Earth drops swiftly away as the powerful engines of an Avengers Quinjet drive it up and out of the thin film of life-supporting atmosphere. At the help of the Quinjet are two of the most powerful members of the world's greatest union of superheroes, the Synthezoid known as the Vision, and the armored Avenger whose bright hued accouterments belie his more stoic nomenclature – Iron Man. The grim set of their artificial faces reveals the serious nature of the mission that sends them streaking starward this day. Yet even these seasoned warriors cannot begin to guess the true importance of the events that will unfold before them....
Over the muted hum of the engines, the Vision speaks in the chilling monotone that is his only means of expression, as he reports that they are clear of the atmosphere, and that he is switching to spacial navigation systems. Iron Man acknowledges his teammate, but tells him that he doesn't think they will be needing the interplanetary guidance equipment – not if the automatic tracking systems back at their HQ were correct. Remembering the strange occurences back on Earth where everyone seemed to be struck by a peculiar flux, Iron Man tells the Vision that it is possible the guidance equipment was affected by the mysterious flashes of null energy that have been blanketing the Earth – but if they weren't, then they know that Starfox is out there, and he was trying to send them some kind of alert before he was abruptly cut off, and that message came from somewhere near the moon – a target they don't need the navigation systems to find.
Iron Man tells the Vision to hang on, as he punches in the Quinjet's photon drive, which propels the vessel swiftly through space and towards the moon at one-half light speed for about six seconds. Then, the Vision reports that the moon is below, and that they have reached a stable orbit. The Vision proceeds to activate the main scanners, adding that the indications were that the source of Starfox's signal was an orbiting platform of some kind, and that unless it is extremely small or cloaked to their detectors, it should be easy for them to locate. 'Speaking of cloaks...I'm going to activate our stealth shield' Iron Man tells his teammate, adding that it is a fair bet that whoever has got Starfox can be considered hostile. The Vision then announces that he has a contact, and reports that when they rise above the horizon, they should make visual contact – and a moment later, they do, speeding towards a large space ship floating alongside the moon. 'Yeah... it'd be hard to miss that baby! Looks about as big as all of Manhattan!' Iron Man declares.
As the Quinjet pulls up alongside the space ship's hull, the Vision tells Iron Man that he might be exaggerating slightly, and states that though the vessel is certainly larger than any they have recently encountered. The Vision adds that the ship's configuration is unknown, and it does not match the normal configuration forms of any alien space craft recorded in their computer files. As the Avengers get to their feet, Iron Man reminds the Vision that it is alien, and it is the leading candidate for Starfox's current location, so they had best head over there and have a look around. The Vision agrees, and asks if they should prepare themselves for the journey through intervening space. 'Yes' Iron Man replies, adding that it is funny, all the changes he has made in his armor over the years, he has been inclined to think of them as improvements – and he supposes that most of them are – but there was a time when he could have made this junket without having to strap on all this cumbersome equipment.
The Vision observes as Iron Man adds various pieces of equipment to his armor and notes to himself that although Iron Man professes to be someone other than Tony Stark, the original user of that armor – he continues to specify references which only Stark would logically make. 'Yep...time was I onlt needed to activate my suit's atmosphere seals...and I'd be ready to go as I am now!' Iron Man explains, before deciding that there is time enough for ruminations once they have dealt with whatever lies within that ship. Moments later, the heroes emerge through a hatch on the Quinjet, and Iron Man tells the Vision that he is switching to their security wave-band. The Vision acknowledges by telling Iron Man that he receives the transmission. They then float though space towards the space ship, with the Vision motioning towards an airlock outer hatch just above the small engineering blister ahead, suggesting that it would seem a logical point to seek ingress. Iron Man agrees, and adds that if that is a door of some kind, at least it suggests their unexpected visitors are of more or less human proportions.
The Vision and Iron Man latch onto the hull of the space ship, and the Vision tells his teammate that he makes a logical deduction, but that closer observations reveals that the hull is crafted out of an alloy unknown to their science. 'Not surprising' Iron Man remarks, before reaching for what he assume is the control panel for the hatch. He tells the Vision that he will see if he can find a way to plug into it and use his onboard micro-computers to run all the possible combinations of access codes, and adds that now all they need to worry about is if this thing has an alarm that is built to sound if the wrong code is punched in. 'Let's hope our soon-to-be-hosts aren't that paranoid' Iron Man remarks.
Inside the space ship, the one-time Avenger Starfox, a.k.a. Eros, of the Eternals of Titan, is held captive by the Rigellian called Gunthar, and two other aliens wearing dark armor. 'Your continued resistance is useless!' Gunthar exclaims, telling Starfox that he knows who he is, and that he knows he is one of the Avengers. Gunthar decides that Starfox's presence here is undoubtedly connected to his sudden loss of contact with Nebula. 'TELL ME WHAT YOU KNOW!' Gunthar shouts, demanding to know how much of his mistress's plans the humans have uncovered. 'I do not have to tell you we havve the means aboard this ship to force the knowledge from you. To drain your mind entirely, if needs be!' Gunthar warns Starfox, before adding that such extreme methods should not be necessary, given that Eros is related to his mistress Nebula, by blood. Starfox is restrained on a chair, his wrists shackled to the chair, while a strange helmet covers his head. Gunthar declares that Starfox's loyalty should lie with Nebula, not the squirming blobs of protoplasm on the insignificant dirt ball beyond the satellite they now orbit.
'Speak to me not of loyalty, Rigellian!' Starfox snaps. He admits that it is true, Nebula is the granddaughter of his evil brother, Thanos, but that he has stood in the way of Thanos's dark schemes many times, just as he stands in Nebula's way. He adds that he has searched many months to find her again, and whatever her plan, he will stop her. 'Spare me your verbal posturings, Eros of Titan!' Gunthar declares, pointing out that in those months, Eros could not find them – that his Lady Nebula and he has tracked across the vast expanses of the universe, gathered together scraps of ancient knowledge which, brought together, form the key to unlock all the secrets of the cosmos! 'Perhaps, Gunthar' Starfox replies, before revealing that he has several times overheard his grandniece proclaiming that this present venture will make her ruler of the universe – yet all he has thus-far seen is the expected triumph of the Avengers. 'What? PIG!' Gunthar shouts, slapping Starfox across the face, causing Starfox, still shackled to the chair, to fall to the floor.
Gunthar rushes over to a console and declares that, if nothing, Starfox has reminded him of his duty to the lady Nebula, and warns him that this interrogation can be resumed once he has contacted Nebula and learned her fate. The two aliens start to lift Starfox and the chair back upright, while Starfox thinks to himself that he has done more than job the Rigellian's memory, as he hoped, by goading Gunthar into a display of brute force, he has managed to trick him into dislodging one of the electrodes in this neural-neutralizer helmet. Starfox knows that he cannot use his pleasure power at maximum efficiency, but he believes he can being now to work some small mischief in the guards, turning to look at one of them as he is placed upright, the alien looks back at him, somewhat puzzled.
At the console, Gunthar is intrigued, and announces that his instruments show some kind of displacement has occurred in the vicinity of Nebula – as if a piece of space-time has been folded upon itself. Gunthar supposes that the efect must have been the briefest transient, as there is only the tiniest trace of it left in the automatic recording systems – so small a reading, that it can really have been of no consequence whatsoever.
At that moment, on Earth, at the laboratories of Polydyne, where Spider-Man exclaims 'Wow! Do you guys know how to party, or what!' while the Mighty Thor looks over to Steve Rogers a.k.a. Captain America and asks if the deed is done. Cap confirms that it is, though it most asuredly would not have been, but not for their young wall-crawler here. 'Aw, shucks. Weren't nothing...' Spider-Man jokes, looking over at Captain America, who smiles. At that moment, Sersi steps forward to join her teammates, along with Edwin Jarvis, and she tells the others that the universe is restored, and it is as if they never left. At the same time, Nebula stands away from the Avengers, and tells herself that while those fools standing around congratulating themselves, she can seize the moment. She picks up a communicator and contacts Gunthar, 'Emergency teleportation! Now!' she snaps at him. 'Mistress! Are you -' Gunthar begins to reply, but Nebula tells him that there is no time for questions. 'Just do...' she begins, before she vanishes.
Sersi looks around the lab and asks where Nebula is, but as Thor looks around the lab too, he realizes that Nebula is gone. 'The witch hath used the moment of our jubilation to make good her escape!' he exclaims. But Cap tells his friend not to be so sure of that, and points out that, as Sersi said, virtually no time elapsed while they were in the neutralized universe, and since Iron Man and the Vision were on their way to Nebula's ship when everything blinked out, he thinks Nebula may find a rather rude surprise awaiting her when she gets home. 'So that's game over for the blue lady?' Spider-Man asks. 'As good as' Captain America replies, adding that he thinks Iron Man and the Vision will be able to wrap up this affair without too much fuss. 'Victory! My very blood doth sing with the joys of battle fairly fought and won!' Thor booms.
The heroes make their way back into the piece of Avengers HQ that is still attached to the outside wall of the Polydyne facility, and Cap begins to tell the others that they can use the communications panel to contact HQ, before realizing that they can't, as a separate room, they quickly exhausted its emergency power supply, and all the systems are now out. As if on cue, Captain America's wrist-communicator suddenly beeps, and Cap answers the call, discovering John Jameson on the other end. John informs Cap that he is in the substructure of the Avengers HQ, and standing in the space where the communications chamber once resided, John tells Cap that he doesn't know what the Avengers have been up to, but that they have made a heckuva mess. 'Do you know there's a whole room been plucked out of the middle of the complex?' John asks. 'Affirmative, Colonel' Captain America replies, informing him that he and the rest of the Avengers have the matter in hand, but they are a bit short on transportation, before providing John with the coordinates to send a Quinjet.
A short time later, Cap, Sersi, Thor, Spider-Man and Jarvis are standing outside Polydyne as a Quinjet descends. Cap tells Spider-Man that it had been a while since he fought alongside the Avengers, but that he acquitted himself admirably. Sersi reminds Spider-Man that he was drawn into this business by a chance of fate, and informs him that they are now going to follow Nebula into space. 'Hey, hold the phone! Sounds an awful lot like I'm about to get the golden toe here!' Spider-Man complains, before admitting that he may have been out of his ever-loving webhead when he agreed to tag along for this songfest, but he did agree to, and whatever happens next, he wants to see it through to the end. 'Spoken like a man, Spider-Man!' Cap replies, before rushing towards the Quinjet and telling everyone to come along, as there is work to be done.
Meanwhile, on Nebula's space ship, the furious Nebula strides down a corridor, with Gunthar at her side. 'Blast them! Blast them for all their puny, human interference!' she snaps, boasting that she stood upon the threshold of power beyond imagining – and the Avengers have snatched it from her grasp! Nebula looks down at Gunthar and declares that not all is lost, and admits that by the full implementation of her former scheme, she could not have mastered the universe without destroying it – hardly an equitable trade. 'There is still Plan B' she remarks. 'Lady...Lady, again I must caution you against such plans' Gunthar utters. He reminds Nebula that it was only by sheer luck that she was able to steal it from him, and if they activate it now, it will almost certainly draw him to them.
'Speak to me not of luck, Rigellian. I was able to steal it because I am the best at what I do. If he seeks to meddle now, he will soon learn the error of his ways' Nebula declares, before ordering Gunthar to go and prepare the necessary chamber, and to waste no more of her time. As the alien guards stand nearby, Starfox watches his grandniece, listening to her every word, before he speaks to her, telling her that she has his brother's gift for speaking in riddles, and therefore she is truly a worthy heir to Thanos. 'I suspect that to be some form of sarcasm, Uncle. But I'll take it as the compliment it sounds like' Nebula retorts. She walks over to Starfox and boasts that before she is done here, she will make all her great grandfather's dreams seem like paltry things indeed – for she has found the Stones of Halkor. 'You found some stones, Nebula. And I was there when you did' Starfox replies.
Still restrained, Starfox tells Nebula that the Stones of Halkor are nothing but myth, and he would have thought she would have known that. 'Or did your nanny so fill your brain with fairy tales there is no room for common sense and reason?' Starfox asks. 'Impudent dog!' Nebula snaps, clenching a fist, she holds it in front of Starfox's face, it crackles with energy as she warns him that in her wrist-blasters she has the power to reduce that handsome head of his to a handful of ash if he dares speak to her like that. Starfox just yawns and tells Nebula that perhaps she is not so worthy of Thanos's legacy as he had thought. 'At least my dear dead brother was never one for empty bluster...' Starfox remarks. 'SWINE!' Nebula screeches as she slaps Starfox, knocking him and the chair he is still shackled to over. Nebula holds her fist towards Starfox and tells him that he will die, blood of her blood though he may be. 'And so you insure your place in the canon of the immortals, Nebula? One who slays her own kin...when they are tied to chairs?' Starfox asks, while the alien guards set him upright once more. Energy crackles around Nebula's wrist, while Starfox tells her that he thinks she is more reasonable than that – much more reasonable. Nebula drops her arm, and turns and walks away, 'Blast your eyes, Starfox... I have better things to do than play games with you' she mutters.
Back outside, at the space ship's hull, the Vision remarks that Iron Man's quest for the combination seems to be taking longer than anticipated, and offers to use his ability to alter his density and penetrate the ship's hull in order to scout ahead. 'Good idea...' Iron Man replies, while thinking to himself that the Vision has developed a long-winded way of expressing himself since he got put back together. Not long after the Vision disappears, passing into the space ship, while Iron Man tells himself that they have all been through some changes in the years since they formed the Avengers, but none so much as the Vision. He wonders if anyone would have believed a word of it, if anyone told them the Vision's future on that day they first encountered him. A moment later, Iron Man has discovered the combination, and the panel on the hull opens. He calls out to the Vision, and quickly discovers him, standing over several alien guards that he has defeated. 'Any more signs of resistance?' Iron Man asks. The Vision reports that these were the only three guards stationed here in the airlock.
As the Avengers continue on into another part of the space ship, the Vision states that it would be a safe assumption that a ship of this size has more than a skeleton crew, however well automated it may be. 'Meaning there's likely to be a welcoming committee waiting around every corner...' Iron Man suggests, when, as they round a corner, one of the alien guards sees them. 'Intruders! Destroy them!' the guard shouts, pointing at the Avengers. 'Your methodology is seriously at odds with your stated intent. You have no hope of destroying an enemy if you do not first assess his weaknesses' the Vision responds, turning himself intangible as one guard attempts to punch him, and another opens fire at him, while at the same time, the Vision fires a beam from his eyes, which strikes one of the aliens. Iron Man fires a repulsor blast at one of the aliens and tells the Vision to save the elementary tactics lesson, as these grunts may be little more than common thugs, but they outnumber the two of them considerably. 'Let's see what we can do about decreasing the odds without actually killing anybody!' Iron Man suggests as he punches one of the guards in the face.
The Vision agrees, and holds one of the guards up above his head, while firing another beam of energy from his eyes, he adds that although these guards are aliens, and without discernible mortal fiber, they are sentient life forms, and should not be slaughtered indiscriminately. 'Which doesn't mean we can't bruise 'em just a tad...' Iron Man points out as he fires another blast of energy, knocking two of the alien backwards. But at that moment, on the level below, another alien notices the fight happening on the walkway where Iron Man and the Vision are battling the other aliens. 'Earthlings! The Mistress's enemies have breached the ship!' the alien calls out, while another suggests that thry sound full alert.
As more aliens join the battle, Iron Man wonders where they are all coming from, as it seems for the three they knock down, six of them take their places. 'If this doesn't let up soon we're going to be...' Iron Man begins, when he is interrupted by the sound of Captain America's voice, calling out to him over their communicators. Outside the space ship, another Quinjet approaches, containing Captain America, Thor, Sersi and Spider-Man. Cap informs Iron Man that they are approaching Nebula's space ship, and asks him if he reads him. 'Like a good book, Captain!' Iron Man responds from inside the space ship, suggesting that Cap home in on his signal, as he and the Vision have a bit of a to-do on their hands. Sersi asks what “To-do” means, so Spider-Man explains that it is a fracas, or a brouhaha, a melee. 'Whatever you call it, it sure sounded like 'ol Shellhead had landed in the soup!' Spider-Man adds. 'Colloquial as ever, Spider-Man' Captain America replies, Cap suddenly informs the others that he is monitoring weapon systems becoming active in the space ship's outer hull, so they might be in for a bit of a rough ride getting close enough to help Iron Man and the Vision.
At that moment, Iron Man is knocked backwards by a powerful blast, and the Vision tells him that his armor is damaged, so he needs to fall back while he deals with this wave. 'I'm beginning to know what a milk shake feels like' Iron Man mutters, before he turns around and alerts the Vision to another wave of aliens coming at them. 'Then this must be one of those “nick of the time” situations I'm always hearing about, Iron Man!' Captain America declares as he, Thor, Sersi and Spider-Man appear on the walkway where Iron Man and the Vision continue to fight the aliens. Spider-Man jokingly tells Cap to watch it, as being glib in the face of massive menace is his metier. 'Anybody'd think I was a bad influence on you guys!' Spider-Man adds. 'Just in time, boys and girls!' Iron Man calls out, and turning to Thor, tells him that he looks just like what the doctor ordered. 'As well I should, armored one' Thor smiles, before hurling his hammer towards several aliens, 'Behold the right prescription for dealing with yon miscreants! Take one sacred hammer... and bother not to call me on the morrow!' Thor declares.
As Spider-Man kicks an alien in the face, and Captain America throws another over his shoulder, Cap thinks that Spider-Man may be right, as he doesn't think he has ever heard Thor crack a joke – even a bad one. Cap decides that having the Web-Slinger around seems to be causing them all to lighten up – not that these goons would notice. 'Oops! Look likes that webbing is clouding your views just a bit, huh, guys?' Spider-Man asks two aliens as he covers their face with webbing, and then leaps over them. The aliens opens fire, too late, and Spider-Man lands behind them, telling the aliens that there is no need to thank him, as he knows it is probably a relief not to look at each other's mugs. 'I mean, hey! I'll bet J Jonah Jameson scrapes better looking things from under his toenails!' Spider-Man exclaims as he pushes the two alien over. As Cap slams his shield into another alien, Cap tells Spider-Man that he played that nicely, and that he works better in a group situation than he expected him to.
Captain America then reports that they are turning the tide, that the aliens are falling back – but Spider-Man looks over and tells Cap that he doesn't mean to dip his little fly in the ointment, but that it appears the aliens are just making room for Goliath's big brother over there. Cap tells Spider-Man to duck, and Spider-Man does, as Cap hurls his shield across the walkway to where the large alien Spider-Man was referring to can be seen, towering over the others, and waving a weapon about. 'We've got to find out how tough this bruiser is...and fast!' Cap announces, as his shield hits the large alien's armor, and bounces off it. The large alien starts growling as he waves his weapon about, and the other aliens leap for safety, 'Fall back! Fall back!' one of them calls out. 'Gron will slaughter all in his path! Friend and foe alike!' another alien declares. 'I didn't know when I was well off! Here I could be home on Earth...taking my lumps from Doc Ock or the Vulture!' Spider-Man calls out as Captain America is knocked off the walkway and plummets several stories to the ground below.
But, Spider-Man swings down on a webbed rope and grabs Cap as he declares that, instead, he is here, playing her on the dark side of the moon. 'By the way, Cap. I've been meaning to ask...doesn't that union suit of yours violate contempt-of-flag legislation?' Spider-Man enquires. Captain America admits that he has never much thought about it. 'A flag is only a piece of cloth, after all. It's what it represents that matters...' Cap states as Spider-Man sets him down on the ground, as the large alien Gron turns his attention back to them. 'Wow! You've got a speech for every occasion, haven't you, Cap?' Spider-Man exclaims, joking that he is a little more musical than verbal, as he leaps towards Gron and punches him in his stomach, 'Here's a snappy little number I call “Concerto for Fists and Belly Buttons”!' Spider-Man calls out, but looking up at Gron, sees that his attack had no effect. 'Uh-oh, obviously a low-brow type...pleated brow, in fact' Spider-Man mutters, before he quickly ducks as gron takes a swipe at him.
At this moment, Sersi looks over at Spider-Man, 'Quite so' she tells him. 'And one who is too much of a pig to appreciate your efforts in the fine arts... should look the part!' Sersi declares as she casts energy towards Gron, and transforms him into a small, squealing pig. 'Wow! Dibs on the ribs, Sersi!' Spider-Man jokes. As Sersi and Spider-Man rush to join the others, Sersi tells Spider-Man that they can discuss that later, and points out that it would appear Captain America's earlier pronouncement is proving correct. 'Aye and aye again, Sersi! You aliens do retreat at last before our might!' As Iron Man pushes past an alien, he tells the others that up ahead looks like some kind of central control area ahead, which makes sense, as that's the door the aliens were fighting hardest to protect. As the Vision walks through the door, he tells the others that it must be through here that Starfox is being held. 'Pray we're in...time?' Iron Man calls out, surprised, as the Avengers enter the central command area, and discover several alien guards tied up, Nebula shackled to a chair, and Starfox standing over her.
'Greetings, Avengers. I hope you did not have too much trouble getting here. As you can see... the matter is quite well at hand!' Starfox calls out. 'Of course! You used that “pleasure zap” power of yours to...' Cap begins, before Starfox asks Cap to forgive him for interrupting, as he motions to several aliens approaching behind Cap, and announces that there are some others he has to attend to. Cap looks behind him and sees the aliens fall on their faces. 'Amazing! You overload the pleasure centers of their brains and they drop off into dreamland!' Cap remarks, adding that he is amazed the aliens didn't find a way to counter that power. Starfox informs Cap that, as a matter of fact, they had – but he tricked them – rather painfully, on his part – into loosening just enough of the electrodes on the cyber-helmet that he was able to use his power again. He looks over at Nebula and jokes that his naughty niece will dream her little dreams of universal conquest without harming anyone. 'Wow!' Spider-Man exclaims. 'And that's about it for my “wow” quota today!' Spider-Man jokes.
Spider-Man then tells the Avengers that if this is all for this caper, he could use a lift back to Terra Firma, as he doesn't think his webbing will reach that far. 'Of course' Captain America replies, before announcing that, as Avengers chairman, he has a proposition for Spider-Man. 'How would you like to join the Avengers?' Cap asks. 'Wow!' Spider-Man gasps. Cap reminds Spider-Man that he has been up for membership in the past, but that something has always managed to trip him up, however, on the basis of what he has just seen, he thinks Spider-Man would make a valuable addition to the team. Cap adds that he hates to admit it, but it seems like Spider-Man's boisterousness does more for team spirit and morale than a hundred of his speeches. 'I... I don't know what to say!' Spider-Man responds.
The other Avengers gather around, as the Vision suggests that “I accept” would be a wise response. Thor tells Spider-Man to say “Aye”, as the Son of Odin would be proud to fight at his side. 'And think of the pictures I might get for the Daily Bugle' Spider-Man thinks to himself, before shaking Captain America's hand and remarking 'What the heck – worst thing that could happen is you could kick me out'. Sersi smiles and puts a hand on Captain America's shoulder, while Cap tells Spider-Man that they are honored to have him. 'And if this isn't the stuff of Hallmark commercials...I don't know what is' Iron Man jokes, before he turns, concerned, 'Hey! Did you feel that?' he calls out. Starfox looks worried, 'A vibration...no a series of vibrations! As if something were tearing its way through the ship...' he exclaims. The Avengers suddenly look up, as a voice calls out 'Not “something” Eros of Titan... say rather “someone”!' a large man wearing a red, green and yellow costume booms as he tears his way through the ship into the control center. 'The Stranger!' Captain America calls out. 'W-' Spider-Man begins, before muttering 'Oh, forget it!'